When the VGC 2019 Sun Series began, players immediately flocked to Kyogre as their preferred member of the legendary weather trio. The popular belief was that Groudon would be powerless against Kyogre’s reign of Water Spout spam without the Desolate Land ability at its disposal. The first few tournaments of VGC 2019’s Sun Series have proven otherwise.
Sooner or later, Groudon might not be so “niche” anymore. As of now, Groudon is the third most popular restricted Pokemon on both Battle Spot and Pokemon Showdown. It’s also in third place for Championship Points earned among the restricted Pokemon, but it did beat out Kyogre in usage at the Philadelphia Regional Championships.
One of the most (in)famous combinations of the 2016 season was Primal Groudon and Xerneas, and this duo has (sort of) made a return in 2019. Groudon makes an excellent partner for Xerneas even without the Fire-typing it gains when it reverts back to its Primal form. Still, sun-boosted Fire Punches hurt from Groudon’s high Attack, and Precipice Blades makes quick work of many of the format’s Steel-type answers for Xerneas.
Some other popular partners for Groudon are Flying-type restricted Pokemon like Yveltal and Ho-Oh; they appreciate the defensive synergy that a strong Ground-type like Groudon provides. As for non-restricted Pokemon, Bronzong has been key for Groudon’s success this season. Bronzong can easily set up Groudon as a win-condition by setting up Trick Room for speed control and Gravity to make sure you don’t have to risk Precipice Blades missing (or help Bronzong hit Hypnosis more often). Also it makes Precipice Blades able to hit Flying-type Pokemon which is a nice plus.
Some players have even tried going further with Groudon’s ability as sun setter, by utilizing Pokemon with the ability Chlorophyll alongside it. Venusaur had a lot of success in Philadelphia, being the second most popular non-restricted Pokemon in the Top 32 teams. Venusaur not only helps Groudon handle Water-type opposition, but it can also threaten Fairy-types with Sludge Bomb and Sleep Powder spam as long as there’s no Electric or Misty Terrain up (or if the target has Safety Goggles, which is on the rise for this very Pokemon).
So Groudon still remains an offensive powerhouse in its normal form, but it’s nowhere near the level of strength it could have with its signature orb.
One of the biggest things standing in Groudon’s way is its weather counterpart, Kyogre. Since normal Groudon can’t evaporate Kyogre’s Water Spout or Origin Pulse on switch-in without Desolate, it still falls prey to these attacks even with the sun up. It may not be x4 weak to Water like Primal Groudon, but don’t count on Groudon as an easy switch-in for Kyogre.
Another grievance of Groudon players is Precipice Blades. Unlike Kyogre that has Water Spout to fall back on over Origin Pulse, Groudon is stuck with the 85% accurate Precipice Blades for its main means of damage output. It makes using Gravity alongside Groudon almost essential for it to succeed in a game. This also makes Wide Guard a pretty effective way of shutting down Groudon.
Lastly, Groudon doesn’t appreciate the popularity of Grass-types and the move Grass Knot in the metagame that are meant to handle Kyogre. Kartana also has a solid matchup, but only if Kartana has the speed/health advantage.
If you’ve been hearing that Groudon is bad without its Red Orb, you’ve been hearing wrong. Groudon has been quickly rising in usage and doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon. It’s likely it will remain second fiddle to Kyogre and Xerneas until VGC 2019’s Ultra Series where it will finally reclaim the Red Orb. Even now, players should have Groudon on their radar, as the dreaded “Big 6” from the 2016 format is reappearing with Groudon still remaining on the roster.
Images from,Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.