Hi everyone! I’m Giacomo Bovolenta (@GiachyVGC on Twitter) and I am VGC player from Italy. I started playing VGC in 2014, although my best and most consistent results come from various local events from 2017, a year where I also placed top 16 at the Treviso Special Event.
Today, I want to talk to you about the team that allowed me to reach top 16 at the recent Special Event in Lille, which features a rather unusual couple of restricted Pokémon.
Team Building Process
Being a nostalgic for VGC 17 and, in particular, for the LeleBlim core, which I played practically during all that season, I decided to try and recreate that concept adapting it to the current metagame. My first result was this:
The team immediately felt good to me, and its Pokémon had a certainly good synergy despite the obvious changes from 2017: the members were the same as those of LeleBlim, playing Lunala instead of Drifblim to do speed control with Tailwind, and Groudon instead of Garchomp to exploit the speed boost and pressure my opponents, or use Swords Dance at the appropriate time to plan the games turns ahead.
I immediately started testing the team on Showdown, but I realized that there was something wrong, as I had obvious troubles in maneuvering around and stalling my opponent’s Trick Room. Besides, because of the Xerneas/Kyogre core being so popular, it was oftentimes impossible for me to use Swords Dance with Groudon, which was easy with Garchomp thanks to the limited amount of damage of the VGC17, and so I always played one less move.
The final adaptation to the team lead me to a better Trick Room matchup, leaving the final team as it follows:
Amoonguss instead of Kartana considerably improved the issues: I was now okay against Trick Room, and it wasn’t even necessary to bring it to every match, because only at the sight of Amoonguss in team preview, the opponent often becomes hesitant in setting it up. I also removed Swords Dance on Groudon for Stomping Tantrum, so as to circumvent the ever-present Wide Guard of Lunala, Solgaleo and Stakataka. After this change I managed to stabilize around 1700/1750 points on Pokemon Showdown, and after much testing I decided that this was the good team to bring to Lille.
GRRRoudon (Groudon) @ Life Orb
EVs: 44 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
– Precipice Blades
– Stomping Tantrum
– Fire Punch
As far as Groudon is concerned, there isn’t much to explain. His role is to sweep under Tailwind and to do as much damage as it can. I maximized attack to do so, while the speed is enough to outspeed max speed Ludicolo. The remaining EVs are distributed in bulk.
During the testing phase, I thought about the Choice Band set with Rock Slide, but I decided to play Stomping Tantrum, which I used almost more than Blades due to the high usage of Wide Guard and the chance of missing, as well as using Life Orb as my item in order to do significant damage while being able to use Protect at the same time.
252+ Atk Life Orb Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Groudon: 91-109 (51.7 – 61.9%) – guaranteed 2HKO
(-1) 252+ Atk Life Orb Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 90-107 (51.1 – 60.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ Atk Life Orb Groudon Stomping Tantrum Vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 221-265 (110.5 – 132.5%) – guaranteed OHKO
252+ Atk Life Orb Groudon Fire Punch vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss in Sun: 247-291 (111.7 – 131.6%) – guaranteed OHKO
New Lisa (Lunala) @ Psychic Seed
Ability: Shadow Shield
EVs: 132 HP / 12 Def / 68 SpA / 44 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moongeist Beam
– Wide Guard
Lunala is truly the team’s star! My opponents were often amazed by the amount of hits it was able to survive thanks to the boost in special defense of the Psychic Seed. I chose to use a spread that maximizes speed to try and outspeed slower Xerneas while forcing, in the worst case scenario, a speed tie with opposing Lunala.
However, I invested heavily on bulk at the same time as so it could stay as long as possible on the field and then set up Tailwind even more than once per game. Given that Lunala’s attacks are still solid 2HKO in many cases, I didn’t miss the special attack investment that much. Lastly, Wide Guard is essential to better maneuver opposing Kyogre, Groudon and Xerneas.
68 SpA Lunala Psyshock vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas in Psychic Terrain: 99-117 (49 – 57.9%) – 95.7% chance to 2HKO
68 SpA Lunala Psyshock vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Kyogre in Psychic Terrain: 103-123 (49.7 – 59.4%) – 99.6% chance to 2HKO
(+2) 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast Vs. +1 132 HP / 44 SpD Shadow Shield Lunala: 65-77 (28.3 – 33.6%) – 0.2% chance to 3HKO (First hit)
(+2) 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast Vs. +1 132 HP / 44 SpD Lunala: 130-154 (56.7 – 67.2%) – 6.3% chance to OHKO (Second hit)
4 Atk Incineroar Knock Off vs. 132 HP / 12 Def Lunala: 184-220 (80.3 – 96%) – 37.5% chance to OHKO (Shield broken, 90% of HP left)
4 Atk Kartana Knock Off vs. 132 HP / 12 Def Lunala: 180-216 (78.6 – 94.3%) – 25% chance to OHKO (Shield broken, 90% of HP left)
FRECCIAAA (Tapu Koko) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Grass Knot
The nickname of my Tapu Koko is the name of a friend of mine and also a Pokémon player (which turned into a very popular meme by the Venetian community), Lorenzo “Freccia” Pederiva, and I take this opportunity to greet him.
Tapu Koko was my favorite Pokemon along with Snorlax, and being able to find a good team where I can play it again and similarly made me very satisfied! His job is to clean in late game while still being Kyogre’s nightmare, since those with little bulk are definitely shoved by Thunder.
Discharge is the icing on the cake: if you don’t have major damage to do, or if you are in desperate conditions, gotta paralyze ’em all! This team’s great synergy allows you to use use it freely alongside any partner (Protect Tapu Lele, Wide Guard Lunala, Protect Arcanine, Groudon and its immunity). Grass Knot is useful to avoid being useless in front of Groudon (which during the testing on Showdown happened, but I never got to use it during the tournament), but this final slot is variable and you can try other moves like Sky Drop, Dazzling Gleam, Electroweb or Volt Switch.
252+ SpA Tapu Koko Thunder vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kyogre in Electric Terrain: 188-224 (106.8 – 127.2%) – guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Tapu Koko Discharge vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Kyogre in Electric Terrain: 104-126 (50.2 – 60.8%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Koko Grass Knot (120 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Groudon: 134-158 (76.1 – 89.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Koko Grass Knot (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Groudon: 132-156 (63.7 – 75.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO
Tapu Meme (Tapu Lele) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
An evergreen Tapu Lele that, as in VGC17 next to Drifblim or Mandibuzz, activates the partner’s Psychic Seed — Lunala’s one, in this team. Its role is to inflict good damage to everyone before going KOed and thus allowing me a free switch in.
Focus Sash allows it to definitely use Taunt at least once, which blocks any Trick Room and status moves in general. I chose Psychic instead of Psyshock to inflict more damage on Groudon, even on switch-in. By leading with Tapu Lele and Lunala, the latter can’t be taunted by Tornadus’ priority Taunt, and so I can almost 100% set up my speed control. In addition, Modest nature rather than Timid indirectly helps me to check the speed of the other Xerneas, so I can adjust on game’s progress and choice of moves.
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Groudon in Psychic Terrain: 141-166 (80.1 – 94.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Groudon in Psychic Terrain: 138-163 (66.6 – 78.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kyogre in Psychic Terrain: 96-114 (54.5 – 64.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Xerneas in Psychic Terrain: 130-154 (64.3 – 76.2%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Fairy Aura Xerneas: 120-142 (51.5 – 60.9%) – guaranteed 2HKO
Segugio.It (Arcanine) (M) @ Iapapa Berry
EVs: 132 HP / 156 Atk / 220 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
– Close Combat
“The strong Intimidate” of 2017 was the Pokemon that gave me more satisfaction during the tournament! I used it in all my games, except in those against Kyogre. In the late game it can clean the field all by itself thanks to the combination of Flare Blitz, Close Combat (very useful against Incineroar) and Extreme Speed (very important to break Focus Sash before a second hit, or to clean the field from low HP opponents after huge damage has already been inflicted).
Unlike Incineroar, Arcanine isn’t weak against Fighting-type moves, so I can feel more comfortable in front of Kartana. Extreme Speed to be paired with Tapu Lele and Psychic Terrain may seem inappropriate, but I assure you that in late game, thanks to the help of Protect to eventually stall Psychic Terrain, it is truly an irreplaceable move. Speed is high enough to outspeed 252 Groudon and slower Xerneas variants.
156+ Atk Arcanine Flare Blitz vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 97-115 (48 – 56.9%) – 90.6% chance to 2HKO
156+ Atk Arcanine Flare Blitz vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas in Sun: 145-172 (71.7 – 85.1%) – guaranteed 2HKO
156+ Atk Arcanine Extreme Speed vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 44-52 (21.7 – 25.7%) – 0.9% chance to 4HKO
156+ Atk Arcanine Close Combat vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 136-160 (68 – 80%) – guaranteed 2HKO
156+ Atk Arcanine Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss: 224-266 (101.3 – 120.3%) – guaranteed OHKO
(-1) 252+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 132 HP / 0 Def Arcanine: 152-180 (83.5 – 98.9%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 132 HP / 0 SpD Arcanine in Psychic Terrain: 153-181 (84 – 99.4%) – guaranteed 2HKO
Porcino (Amoonguss) (M) @ Payapa Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Def / 180 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Rage Powder
– Clear Smog
– Grass Knot
Amoonguss is my main answer against Trick Room, and it can even deter my opponent from focusing their gameplan on it right on Team Preview due to the psychological pressure it applies.
Its set is fairly classic set, and with a balanced bulk it manages Kyogre, Groudon and boosted Xerneas without any particular issues, and thanks to Payapa Berry I can afford to use it even against the popular scarf Tapu Lele + Lunala core.
0 SpA Amoonguss Grass Knot (120 BP) 4 HP / 0 SpD Kyogre: 90-108 (51.1 – 61.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ Atk Groudon Fire Punch Vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss in Sun: 190-224 (85.9 – 101.3%) – 6.3% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) 252 HP / 180+ SpD Amoonguss in Rain: 78-92 (35.2 – 41.6%) – guaranteed 3HKO
252 SpA Lunala Psyshock vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Payapa Berry Amoonguss in Psychic Terrain: 129-153 (58.3 – 69.2%) – guaranteed 2HKO
252+ Atk Necrozma-Dusk-Mane Photon Geyser Vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Payapa Berry Amoonguss in Psychic Terrain: 195-229 (88.2 – 103.6%) – 25% chance to OHKO
+2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast Vs. 252 HP / 180+ SpD Amoonguss: 96-114 (43.4 – 51.5%) – 7.4% chance to 2HKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psyshock vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Payapa Berry Amoonguss in Psychic Terrain: 136-162 (61.5 – 73.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO
4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz Vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss: 186-218 (84.1 – 98.6%) – guaranteed 2HKO
Lille Special Event
Round 1 vs. Eric Rios (LL)
The tournament starts immediately with a big match: I get paired with Eric Rios, who we all know for his consistency in results. We had already played on 4-0 score at the aforementioned Treviso Special Event, and he won 2-1.
I lost the first game because I played a little with the pliers and with a sense of analysis: he led with Tapu Koko-Lunala and I led Tapu Lele-Lunala. Fearing Sky Drop on my Lunala + Tailwind, I decided to replace Lunala, but Rios didn’t show either move, revealing instead Roost on Lunala during the match.
In the second game he led differently with Incineroar and Kartana, while I started as usual to finally set up speed control. Rios, however, played better than me and managed to stall my Tailwind turns, and most importantly, he survived my Tapu Lele’s Psychic on Psychic Terrain + my Groudon’s Stomping Tantrum on his Kyogre with very few HP, who then did the rest. So, I immediately started with a loss, 0-1.
Round 2 vs. Anis Haque (LWL)
Despite my R1 loss I didn’t lose heart and, in Round 2, I faced an opponent with a very solid team (which will be the same team as the winner of tournament).
Game 1 he led with Tornadus and Kyogre, while I chose Tapu Lele and Lunala. I did immediatly well in turn 1, blocking Kyogre’s Water Spout with Wide Guard, while with Tapu Lele attacked and halved Kyogre’s HP.
However, I made a mistake that I dragged throughout the Bo3 set, and that I only realized afterwards: I had to focus on Tornadus. The problem was just Tornadus, which thanks to Focus Sash was always able to set Tailwind a turn after my Lunala, and this way he guaranteed doubled speed for an extra turn. I paid game 1 for this reason, I won game 2, but then I lost game 3 because Anis decided to play Tornadus in late game, maybe captand on this flaw in my game decisions.
Would anything change if I played Lunala in late game? Maybe yes, maybe not, but to think about “maybes” when match is already end is useless. Good games to my opponent, and for me 0-2.
Round 3 vs. Albert Bos (WLW)
It’s never easy to regain balance after starting 0-2 at an important tournament. At the same time, I knew that my team was working, what was supposed to “work” at that time was just me.
I didn’t give up and then I started playing against my next opponent, who was using a standard Lunala/Kyogre team. I won first game playing enough on my patterns, thanks to the fact that my Tapu Lele was faster than his Lunala, and this greatly benefitted me.
I then lost game 2 because his Kyogre (which I had noticed not being Scarf in game 1) survived my Tapu Koko’s Thunder under Electric Terrain with very few HP, and then cleaned with Origin Pulse. During Game 3 I was very wary of doing some cheap damage on Kyogre before entering with Tapu Koko, and in this way I managed to guarantee me the win and the score of 1-2, thus keeping my hopes alive.
Round 4 vs. Aurélien Le Fur (WW)
Observing the team of my fourth opponent I asked myself if I was the only one in Lille playing Groudon, since Kyogre was already in 4 teams out of 4 I faced. Despite this, I was able to face this team thanks to Amoonguss, who made his first entry on the field with my team on this occasion.
My opponent always led with Necrozma in two games that turned out to be very similar to each other, and this allowed me to do damage to everyone with Tapu Lele and Lunala, my choice of leads, while waiting for Necrozma to set up Trick Room. When they did so, I entered with the mushroom and I Spore until Trick Room expired. Everything left on the field was then sweeped by Groudon. Finally I could breathe a sigh of relief and balanced the score, 2-2.
Round 5 vs. Alban Badin (WLW)
Horray, the first team without floating whales!
My opponent started immediately with an aggressive lead of Lunala and Kartana. Fortunately, Arcanine has an edge against this archetype, and I decided to use it for the first time during the tournament, mittigating the offensive potential of the opposing Kartana and Incineroar.
I won game 1 and during game 2 I was pretty sure I could get it, as he led with Xerneas and Smeargle and, with Tapu Lele and Lunala, I taunted Smeargle and setted up Tailwind. I did well against his Xerneas, taking it to few HP and finishing it off with Extreme Speed once at Psychic Terrain expired. Alban, however, sensed my Extreme Speed coming (although I had never shown it before) and switched boosted Xerneas for Lunala, rendering my attack useless and making me lose all the momentum, in addition to game 2.
On game 3 we both played well, and the endgame remained with Arcanine and Amoonguss on my side against his Kartana and boosted Xerneas (which in the meantime had set Substitute to air my Spore). With Arcanine I took the KO on Kartana, and his Xerneas, who wasn’t carrying Dazzling Gleam, was forced to attack Amoonguss due to Rage Powder. I won a thrilling game 3 and then the round, which was perhaps the most enjoyable to play and to see about my entire tournament, with a 5 HP Arcanine after the continuous recoil of Flare Blitz. Positive score for me with a good 3-2!
Round 6 vs. Ethan French (LWW)
My next opponent’s team immediately gave me a hard time: we both started with Lunala and, choosing Tapu Lele, I activated his own Lunala’s Psychic Seed, doing him a favor. Fortunately, I didn’t opt for Tailwind, as my opponent used Trick Room with his Lunala, which I luckily managed to stall without major problems because Ethan chose Kartana as his Pokémon to bring in late game.
Nevertheless, I lost the first game for the same reason as I lost in round 3 against Albert: Kyogre survived Tapu Koko’s Thunder under Electric Terrain and then cleaned with Origin Pulse. Game 2 completely displaced me, and I was seriously afraid that my ride towards the 5 consecutive wins would end there: his Lunala had both Trick Room and Tailwind. He showed me the last one during this game, and since then I decided to use Tailwind myself and taunt his Lunala once and for all. In this way I managed to pull the comeback with the following two games with more confidence, always making sure to do some damage to Kyogre before Tapu Koko could clean it up. Only one last victory was missing, I was 4-2!
Round 7 vs. Rachel Annand (LWW)
“My last match couldn’t be tougher than this one!”. This is what I thought when I realized that my last swiss opponent was Rachel Annand, UK regional winner with LeleBlim in 2017. We also had already played during the 2017 London IC Side Event.
Her team was a bit weird to me at first, so I thought about playing analytically during game 1 to see if I could study a plan at the moment, or at least to understand how her team was played (I wasn’t particularly worried about losing, as it also happened with Ethan in previous match). I lost game 1, but on the second and third games I was more prepared: I noticed that Rachel didn’t protect Xerneas often (especially in game 1), so I decided to use Tailwind with Lunala and immediately damage her Xerneas with Tapu Lele.
In both game 2 and game 3 I spammed attacks with my first two Pokémon, being careful not to target Incineroar with Psychic-type moves while switchin-in until Tailwind was active. This way, I didn’t allow her to attack and I forced her to switch a lot of times. Arcanine meanwhile intimidated and put pressure on practically all of her team members. This approach proved excellent and I managed to get my last win, ending my run with a great 5-2 result, resurrecting from 0-2 like a Phoenix!
I’m quite satisfied with my result at the event, as I managed to get 80 CP which, added up to previously earned ones and my 1st place at Sunday’s Lille MSS (with a different team), let me sit at 162 CP by now.
However, I am even more about my self-control ability. Many players, especially novices, usually get discouraged by a negative start, but I’d tell you to just think that, in big events, losing first two matches can lead to the same result as a player who, for example, loses round 4 and round 6!
For this reason I have to thank all friends who were with me, both at the event and at home, during this experience, and also greet some people in particular: Samuele Rigato for believing in me from home when I was 0-2, and Jacopo Gardin, Carmine Baldassarri, Davide Stoppa, Andrea Menoncello and Andrea Formentin for their support and good times during the weekend!
Thank you for reading this report, hope to see you soon in other tournaments! (: