VGC 2019 is still in the early stages of its life, with the format not officially opening until September 4th. Despite this, team builders have been out in full force making waves in the unstable meta on Pokemon Showdown. Our computers here at Pikalytics have been in full force crunching numbers, and it’s time to breakdown one of the format’s popular cores: Kyogre & Necrozma-Dusk-Mane!
Get familiar with at least 4 out of these 5 faces, as the meta is quickly showing signs of a strong Rain Trick Room core. While this style team is nothing new to the VGC format, we haven’t seen a successful one in a while so it’s nice to see some diversity brought along by the new season.
While the core above has been putting up great results on the Showdown ladder, VGC 2019 is fresh enough that we can expect some of the slots to flex as the meta progresses. Many variations of the 5 ‘mons above have been cropping up, often filling the 6th slot with diverse answers such as Amoonguss, Kartana, Tapu Koko, Snorlax and Ferrothorn.
These flex slot Pokemon all have their own purposes, and fill gaps team builders are finding in this early meta core. We will likely see these positions refine and change as the format shapes itself, but for now the best option is to try it all and see what works!
The core teammates look to synergize nicely together so far, bringing a full toolkit to many matchups and offering leads for all kinds of situations. Common leads in the core include Kyogre/Tapu Lele, Kyogre/Incineroar, Kyogre/Tapu Lele, Necrozma-Dusk-Mane/Tapu Lele, and Necrozma-Dusk-Mane/Incineroar. The prominence of Tapu Lele in these cores stems from its Psychic Terrain ability, allowing the partner Pokemon to setup things like Trick Room and OHKO Drizzle+Water Spout without the fear of an opposing Fake Out.
Judging by the team preview phase, players will select leads appropriately either opting for a hard Trick Room start (when the opponent does not have significant slow answers) or a heavy offensive core lead, looking to pick off opponents with Kyogre’s sheer strength. The only way to fully grasp these decisions will be through practice and putting in games for yourself to get a feel for what works. VGC is a format that you can read a lot about, but without getting in your reps and trying things for yourself it’s a difficult meta to conquer!
As we saw in VGC 2018, Incineroar is a dominant force, through both its support toolkit (Fake Out, Snarl, Knock Off, Intimidate) and the power that comes from an Adamant 252 Atk Flare Blitz. This cat is going nowhere for the year of 2019, so expect to see it running rampant through the format, and prepare your Water and Rock counters appropriately.
Incineroar @ Figy Berry
– Fake Out
– Knock Off
– Flare Blitz
Though type-matchup answers will be relevant, beware of the survivability Incineroar will often be built for. Aguav/Figy Berries are among the most popular items for Incineroar, followed closely by Assault Vest. These items, alongside a 252 EV investment into HP mean Incineroar will often even survive through moves like Hydro Pump from a neutral weather 252 SpA Ludicolo (18% chance to OHKO).
Next we come to the team’s legendary Pokemon, Kyogre and Necrozma-Dusk-Mane. A very important part of this team’s strength lies in Kyogre’s Drizzle ability. This ability brings impact to the team in two ways; first, as a means to boost attacks made by Kyogre and Ludicolo. The second being a counter to Groudon’s Drought ability, and other Fire type attackers such as Incineroar who we discussed above. When Drizzle applies Rain to the field, Ludicolo’s Swift Swim ability becomes activated, doubling its Speed stat which generally allows it to move before other Pokemon on the field. With increased Speed, Ludicolo can then go through teams sweeping with weather-boosted Hydro Pumps at a very high priority.
Kyogre @ Choice Scarf
– Water Spout
– Ice Beam
– Origin Pulse
Kyogre’s role on the team is certainly not only for weather-support reasons, however. Kyogre runs with a very high base SpA stat (third best, only behind Deoxys and Mewtwo). Running a fully offensive set with Choice Scarf, Kyogre takes great advantage of its high SpA, utilizing a diverse moveset to cover Water, Ice and Thunder type moves, along with its signature Origin Pulse move providing high Water-type AoE damage.
Necrozma-Dusk-Mane is the team’s next all-star, making its debut to the VGC format! Necrozma-Dusk-Mane brings the Trick Room side of this team to life. Though we’ve often seen Trick Room setters take support slots on the team in past, make no mistake here, Necrozma-Dusk-Mane is an offensive force to be reckoned with. Early-game Tapu Lele or Incineroar leads alongside Necrozma-Dusk-Mane will allow for an effortless Trick Room setup, allowing it to sweep through turns to come with a Brave nature and its strong signature moves Photon Geyser/Sunsteel Strike. Necrozma-Dusk-Mane’s fourth move slot will often be filled with Protect, allowing it to support itself in turns between OHKO’s during Trick Room. Once Trick Room falls off, a switch in to Lele or Incineroar will be common to protect a second setup (if the plan has persisted for this long).
Necrozma-Dusk-Mane @ Psychic Seed
Ability: Prism Armor
– Photon Geyser
– Sunsteel Strike
– Trick Room
To compliment our team’s Trick Room setter, teams will often bring traditional Trick Room Pokemon such as Snorlax or Amoonguss. While these ‘mons play very different roles on the team, Snorlax as an offensive sweeper and Amoonguss as a full-on supporter, they play critical roles based on the trainer’s playstyle and the rest of the surrounding team.
Snorlax @ Choice Band
Ability: Thick Fat
– High Horsepower
Amoonguss @ Red Card
– Rage Powder
– Clear Smog
Tapu Lele, the final member of our team’s core, plays a mixed role on the team as we have already touched on briefly. Packing Choice Specs and a full SpA investment, Lele can flip the switch very quickly to become a powerful sweeper alongside a teammate to help keep it alive. Though Choice Specs will often lead to a fast KO, there will be many occasions where a Tapu Lele switch out makes sense, allowing it to survive on and exploit Psychic Terrain later in the battle.
Psychic Terrain protects Pokemon from priority moves, namely Fake Out, allowing late-game Fake Out counter switch-ins to be a viable option. As well as the utility Psychic Terrain provides, Necrozma-Dusk-Mane will often carry Psychic Seed, boosting its SpDef when active in Psychic Terrain. With these two pseudo-roles both bringing great value to the team, Lele will definitely have a place in this core for the time being.
Tapu Lele @ Choice Specs
Ability: Psychic Surge
– Dazzling Gleam
While it has been clear from day one that Kyogre will be a key player in the VGC 2019 Sun Series, its role alongside Necrozma-Dusk-Mane was not discussed quite as heavily out of the gates. Hopefully we have managed to help break down this core for those who aren’t familiar with it and reinforced the strength to those who are! Think this team could be built even better? Let us know in the comments below!
Get out there and play games, keep building, and help make this a great season for competitive Pokemon. VGC 2019 is going to be a wild ride!