Now that we’ve covered which restricted Pokemon will be the ones to beat in the Sun Series format of VGC 2019, let’s take a look at options for the rest of a team. Surprisingly, these GS Cup-type formats leave out some VGC staples and bring some new Pokemon to the top instead. However for Sun Series, you may recognize a lot of these top Pokemon either from recent years or years past. Right now, these are the top five Pokemon that have proven that they can hang with the big bad restricted legendaries.
Love ’em or hate ’em, the new face of the Intimidate ability is making a return. Rarely have we seen a starter Pokemon dominate VGC like this, but Incineroar is on a different level in VGC. Incineroar plays pretty much the same way it did during the 2018 format, but its moveset can accommodate some different options. Moves like Fake Out, Flare Blitz and Knock Off are all still mandatory, but instead of having just U-Turn in the fourth slot (which is still a good option), viable options extend to Roar, Snarl, Taunt, Protect and even Bulldoze. Roar is probably one of the best fourth moves if Incineroar isn’t holding an Assault Vest because it gives you another check to the ever-present Xerneas.
Incineroar is here to stay for at least the first iteration of VGC 2019 and for good reason. It still provides the same amazing utility it did in 2018, while also being one of the only real viable Fire-type Pokemon out there. A major reason for this is that Incineroar is more than capable of taking the many powerful Special Attacks in VGC 2019 with the notable example being an Origin Pulse from Kyogre in the rain (if Incineroar has the Assault Vest that is). While Landorus takes a back seat, Incineroar will thrive as the premier Intimidator of the Sun Series metagame.
Fresh off yet another World Championship victory, Tapu Koko remains on top for VGC 2019. Tapu Koko’s blistering speed makes it an effective attacker and supporter all in one. Its great synergy with Kyogre gives it some much appreciated offense in the form of 100% accurate, Electric Terrain-boosted Thunder, but this also means it can serve as a solid check to Kyogre. As for support options, Tapu Koko can soften up foes with Nature’s Madness, stop Xerneas’ set-up with Taunt, and even disrupt the opposing team with Sky Drop (granted you’re not trying to pick up any of the restricted Pokemon which are immune to Sky Drop due to their weight).
There isn’t really a consensus on what the “best” approach to Tapu Koko is, but there’s definitely a mixture of Electric-type attacks and support moves for all of them. Straight offense won’t likely thrive due to Tapu Koko’s power falling just a bit short combined with its inability to take hits back. When facing off against Tapu Koko don’t expect for your opponent just to start throwing out Electric-type attacks, as the depth of Tapu Koko’s arsenal is likely to be explored for GS Cup.
Tapu Koko’s offensive powerhouse of a sibling is also returning for VGC 2019. Even amongst the most powerful Pokemon, Tapu Lele still packs one heck of a punch. Psychic Terrain can turn Psychic-type attacks into an one-hit-KO moves for not only Tapu Lele, but for also a Necrozma or even Mewtwo. But Psychic Terrain’s role in this metagame hasn’t been just for offense, but for support as well. Psychic Terrain stops priority moves which can be helpful for Pokemon like Choice Scarf Kyogre or a Trick Room setter like Necrozma. Psychic Terrain blocks priority damage so that Kyogre can ensure a full powered Water Spout and Fake Out so that Trick Room can be set-up more easily.
The extent of support moves you’ll see on Tapu Lele will likely only be Taunt as most Tapu Lele want to keep Psychic and Moonblast for maximum damage output. Even though Tapu Koko might be more popular now, Tapu Lele is looking to usurp Tapu Koko’s placing in usage stats in a matter of time.
I guess we should give some attention to the other Island Guardians since we’ve already mentioned two of them. Tapu Bulu is a more niche option, but like Tapu Lele, its damage output can still threaten the restricted legends of GS Cup. Despite being on top last year, Tapu Fini looks to be outclassed by Kyogre as the format’s premier Water-type, but some players are still finding utility in its access to moves like Icy Wind and Haze.
Now here’s a veteran that has stood the changing of formats. Amoonguss is looking like one of the top Pokemon for this format and possibly the entirety of 2019 as a whole. Spore and Rage Powder remain staple as they are Amoonguss’ bread and butter, but the offensive option has shifted. Clear Smog was the preferred attack for Amoonguss last season, and its still solid this season due to Xerneas’ dominance. The other option is Grass Knot which is a Grass-type attack that has its base power determined by the target’s weight. In a format full of heavy legendary Pokemon (mainly Kyogre), this means Grass Knot is sure to hurt.
There is one more slight change to Amoonguss, and that is in the form of its item of choice. One of the five “pinch berries” is usually recommended, but some Amoonguss have opted for Red Card. Red Card is an item that forcefully switches out the Pokemon that hits the holder with an attack. Since Amoonguss is a fantastic switch-in to a boosted Xerneas, Amoonguss can force a Xerneas out with Red Card thus removing its Geomancy boosts.
Amoonguss will remain as one of the best Trick Room support Pokemon out there, while also having a bit of an offensive presence thanks to Grass Knot. Amoonguss has little to fear from two of the most common restricted legends in Kyogre and Xerneas, but it has to watch out for the big bad Psychic-types like Lunala, Necrozma and Tapu Lele.
I know by including both of these Pokemon this list becomes a Top 6, but they’re included together since they’re similar in role, but function differently.
Let’s start with the more popular Kartana. Kartana is the faster and and more offensive of these two, and serves as a common check to Kyogre and the plethora of Fairy-types in VGC 2019. Unfortunately, Kartana’s pitiful bulk on the special side makes it a horrible switch-in despite its positive type matchup, as it still manages to get KO’d by Kyogre’s Water Spout and a boosted Xerneas’ Moonblast. This can be patched slightly by giving Kartana the Assault Vest, but that doesn’t mean Kartana will be able to take more than one big special hit. Still, Kartana is able to put on massive offensive pressure and even offer Tailwind support for a team which makes it a good option. However, due to its awful Special Defense it will likely fall off in favor of Ferrothorn.
Ferrothorn is the more defensive counterpart of this duo, and serves pretty much the same role as Kartana. Due to its low speed, this means Ferrothorn will likely have to take a hit before it can do anything, but it’s certainly capable of soaking up damage. Power Whip threatens a KO on the faster variants of Kyogre while Gyro Ball can delete a boosted Xerneas thanks to the speed boost from Geomancy. In the mean time, Ferrothorn can sit on the field setting up Leech Seeds in order to heal itself up as long it doesn’t have an Incineroar facing it. Being a Grass-type (like Kartana) also means that it is unaffected by powder moves like Spore or Rage Powder meaning it can bypass Amoonguss for a free hit on a Kyogre or Xerneas. Ferrothorn looks like it will become the preferred non-restricted Steel-type Pokemon over Kartana just because it can stick around much longer while also threatening similar levels of offense. However, both of these Grass/Steel-type Pokemon with x4 weaknesses to Fire will both thrive in a metagame dominated by Rain.
When tournament season rolls around, expect these Pokemon to be rounding out a majority of teams during the Sun Series of VGC 2019. Depending on the team, there are a bunch of different options that also work as valuable teammates for your restricted duo of choice. The season kicks off today so now is the time to get started on your road to Washington D.C.!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.