Now that the Ultra Series metagame is underway, it’s time to start analyzing it. Officially, Ultra Series is only a week old, but players have been testing this metagame for a while, and thus, have a pretty good idea of what’s good. Plus, this metagame borrows a lot from the 2016 format which featured a lot of the same restricted Pokemon combinations that we’re currently seeing in the 2019 metagame.
Since it’s way too early to make any definitive metagame calls, take this list with a grain of salt. These are the five restricted Pokemon pairs that look to dominate the early Ultra Series metagame.
Xerneas & Primal Groudon
The epitome of standard comes from the pairing of these two. If players thought Xerneas and Groudon were a good pair during the Sun and Moon Series, Ultra Series’ blessing of the Red Orb to Groudon makes this duo a whole lot scarier.
It mainly comes down to Primal Groudon being an even better offensive partner for Xerneas. Primal Groudon not only has a beefier Attack stat, allowing it to toss out a ton more damage, but the added Fire-typing gives Groudon some better options to deal with opposing Steel and troublesome Grass-types (ex. Amoonguss) for Xerneas. Also, Desolate Land shutting down opposing rain makes it harder for Grass and Steel-types to remain on the field for long. This new form unfortunately doesn’t solve the accuracy problem for Precipice Blades, but at least it’s much more rewarding when you connect both hits.
With Xerneas having even better support, it, once again, has the ability to rule the metagame, but this duo isn’t entirely unbeatable.
Mega Rayquaza & Primal Kyogre
The Primal Groudon-killer pair is none other than Rayquaza and Kyogre. These two not only support each other well offensively, but having Rayquaza’s Air Lock ability available on the switch-in makes any Primal Groudon hesitate to stay in against a Primal Kyogre (even with Desolate Land in play).
We saw just how potent this combination could be at the 2016 World Championships where it dominated the competition (where Xerneas/Groudon teams were king). With Mega Gengar to trap and Bronzong to help deal with Xerneas, these teams are designed to take Groudon and Xerneas down. These teams received an upgrade this generation with Togedemaru, as this new form of Lightningrod and Fake Out support will prove useful in supporting Rayquaza and Kyogre.
Of course, running a team similar to Wolfe Glick’s 2016 Worlds-winning team isn’t the only way to use Mega Rayquaza and Kyogre, but that seems to be the trend right now. It’ll be interesting to see how this archetype evolves.
Mega Rayquaza & Xerneas
This is a combination that screams offense, and this pair is well-suited to win games quickly. These two are arguably the strongest Pokemon in the game, and both of their game plans revolve around setting up once and winning the entire game. Mega Rayquaza on the physical side, while Xerneas takes care of the special side.
With two Pokemon like this, the rest of the team is comprised of Pokemon that can support them. Incineroar, Tapu Fini and Amoonguss appear to be the most consistent members that can offer speed control, Fake Out and re-direction.
There’s a lot of debate surrounding this core and whether or not it’s actually good, but it reached the Top Cut of the World Championships multiple times in 2016, and many players think this team has gotten better.
Ultra Necrozma & Primal Groudon
Ultra Necrozma has proven itself quickly to be one of the Ultra Series metagame’s biggest threats, and what better Pokemon to pair it with than Primal Groudon.
Well there’s more than the fact that these two are insanely powerful Pokemon, but also that they support each other well. Primal Groudon does great work in eliminating Steel-types and Incineroar that stand in the way of Ultra Necrozma spamming Psychic-type attacks. These two are often paired with Tapu Lele which also benefits from Primal Groudon’s offensive coverage, but also supports the Psychic-spamming efforts with Psychic Terrain.
Aside from Xerneas and Groudon, these two comprise the other side of the “goodstuffs” archetypes. Ultra Necrozma has shown a ton of potential thus far, but who knows if the Psychic spam gimmick will be its only method for success.
Primal Kyogre & Yveltal
This one was a bit unexpected, but this duo has been performing well at early Ultra Series locals. This duo was practically unheard of back in 2016, and we haven’t seen much success from Kyogre and Yveltal since back in the Sun Series.
It seems that this archetype has gained some valuable support with Pokemon like Incineroar, Tapu Lele and Stakataka. With Mega Gengar to help trap and position Kyogre in a winning spot, there could be some potential in store for Primal Kyogre and Yveltal teams. It seems like this team can rely on the bulk of Pokemon like Primal Kyogre, Yveltal and Stakataka, but also threaten a fair amount of offense with Mega Gengar and Tapu Lele. Interestingly enough, this new take on Kyogre and Yveltal looks similar to the team Justin Burns used to win the Philadelphia Regional Championships all the way back in September.
Perhaps there’s room for old, nearly forgotten archetypes to return to the top in the final phase of VGC 2019.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International