In this new style of GS Cup that is VGC 2019, many players are struggling to find the perfect team that doesn’t auto-lose to any of the powerful restricted Pokemon. We’ve had a pretty good run of diverse metagames with 2017 and 2018; however metagames that include such powerful Pokemon like the restricted’s tend to be a bit more centralized. Those who played in early VGC 2016 recall the horrors of the “Big 6”, but 2019 doesn’t seem to be following that same path.
There are a ton of different options for teams out there, but in order to combat the most powerful Pokemon in the metagame, a team must have specific roles designated for taking on each of these Pokemon. While this isn’t meant to be a complete teambuilding guide, these are aspects of a team that we believe to be essential to be successful during VGC 2019’s Sun Series.
With Kyogre being by far the most popular restricted Pokemon right now, you’ll need something on your team to prevent you from losing to Water Spout spam. This usually comes in the form of a Grass-type that can easily switch into one of Kyogre’s attacks, and easily KO it back. Kartana is probably the only one you wouldn’t want to switch in on a Water Spout as its pitiful Special Defense will likely see it KO’d without an Assault Vest.
Electric-types like Tapu Koko and Raichu are solid checks, but they lack the defensive advantage versus Kyogre. In fact, these two almost make better partners for Kyogre since Tapu Koko can spam Terrain-boosted, 100% accurate Thunders while Raichu can re-direct Electric Attacks away with Thunder.
Some niche options are Pokemon like Gastrodon and Toxicroak who straight up absorb Kyogre’s Water-type attacks either for HP or a Special Attack boost. While not as common or practical in VGC 2019, having one of these out against a Kyogre choice-locked in either Origin Pulse or Water Spout creates a pretty easy win-con.
Ways of dealing with Xerneas come in two forms: either a bulky Steel-type or a means of getting rid of Geomancy boosts. The most common Steel-types are the slower, bulkier Pokemon that have access to Gyro Ball. Xerneas’ insane defensive stats make it resilient to even super-effective hits; but after a Geomancy, the Speed boosts turn Gyro Ball into an instant one-hit-KO.
A Steel-type is basically staple for a VGC 2019 team, but even just one Steel-type isn’t enough to be fully prepared for Xerneas. As a result, teams usually have another Pokemon that has a way to either stop Xerneas from boosting or get rid of the boosts entirely. Some common examples are Amoonguss’ Clear Smog, Crobat’s Haze and Taunt and Incineroar’s Roar. Keeping your Xerneas answers healthy is a must in the matchup as Xerneas can still easily run over a weakened team after a Geomancy.
Taunt and/or Fake Out
This role sort of ties into the Xerneas Answer category, but this is more for overall disruption of your opponent’s team. With such powerful Pokemon in the metagame, getting just a single turn edge over your opponent can be game-winning in most cases. Taunting a Xerneas or a Trick Room setter or getting a Fake Out off to help your own Xerneas set up takes away a move for your opponent and can enable your ideal win-con.
Taunt is also helpful for shutting down Pokemon like Smeargle or Whimsicott which are built entirely for support. Fake Out is just a good move to have somewhere in order to potentially buy yourself a free turn or two during battle.
This category ties back into the idea of having an advantage over your opponent or taking your opponent’s advantage away. Trick Room has usually been more popular due to its effects lasting longer than Tailwind. However, teams are oftentimes more prepared for Trick Room. Trick Room can also be prepared for by just having a slow Pokemon on your team to work under it, while Tailwind requires some manual speed manipulation or stalling to deal with it.
For either side you have options. For Trick Room you have the classics like Cresselia and Bronzong or even the new Dusk Mane Necrozma which functions just as well as a Trick Room sweeper. Restricted Pokemon like Yveltal and Ho-Oh can function well as Tailwind setters, but there are also good non-restricted’s out there like Kartana and Crobat that can also fill different roles for a team.
These three categories are the most essential aspects for a VGC 2019 Sun Series squad, but we have some more suggestions that aren’t necessarily essential, but good to have to strengthen your matchups overall.
This category could’ve easily been just the Island Guardians, but having a Fairy-type in general improves your matchup against the slowly rising threat of Yveltal. While Yveltal has many other weaknesses besides Fairy, these Pokemon can serve as valuable switch-ins for Yveltal’s powerful Dark-type attacks. While a Pokemon like Xerneas isn’t ideal to take on Yveltal due to Knock Off pressure, Fairy-types pose the biggest threat to Yveltal in VGC 2019 and should be considered for a team.
Wide Guard Users
GS Cup is a metagame filled with powerful spread moves, making Wide Guard a decent move to have. Kyogre and Xerneas are the main culprits as these two often clean up teams with Water Spout or boosted Dazzling Gleam spam. Wide Guard shouldn’t be your only answer to these two since they both carry single target attacks as well, but having Wide Guard can be an effective secondary tool of dealing with these powerful spread moves.
Priority moves are everywhere in VGC 2019, and blocking moves with priority can be important for certain team members. One Pokemon that has miraculously risen to prominence is Tsareena thanks to its Queenly Majesty ability. Tapu Lele can create a similar effect with Psychic Terrain, but this can block your own priority moves as well.
One of the most common combos in the metagame right now is Tsareena and Choice Scarf Kyogre since Tsareena’s ability can prevent priority attacks like Fake Out from weakening Kyogre’s Water Spout. Blocking Fake Out can also enable a free Trick Room set-up or Geomancy set-up for Xerneas, so users of these Pokemon/strategies should look into making room for this role on their teams.
VGC 2019 has proven itself to be quite a difficult metagame to build a team for, as there is just so many threats to account for. This volatile format places an incredible emphasis on teambuilding, and those who find the most creative/effective ways to fill these roles on their teams will be successful. Tournament season for VGC 2019 is just around the corner, so it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be given our real first look at the Sun Series metagame.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.