VGC 2019’s Sun Series is nearly done as the final two regional championships in Anaheim and Harrogate wrapped up this past weekend. For now, we’re focusing on Anaheim where Raghav Malaviya claimed his first regional championship title. Anaheim was not only significant because of its place at the end of the Sun Series, but because of just how many unique and interesting teams had success. Sure, Kyogre and Xerneas remained prominent, but it wasn’t this pair that ended up winning the whole thing.
Groudon’s Time to Shine
In a complete flip in archetype from Kyogre and Xerneas, Groudon and Yveltal won out in Anaheim. Malaviya was dominant during his tournament run as he finished with a perfect 11-0 record.
Many began to doubt Groudon despite its early format success, but this tournament showed that Groudon teams could still hold up. Groudon can serve as both a check and a weakness to Kyogre because even though the Drought ability weakens Kyogre’s Water-type attacks, Groudon is still weak to them as a Ground-type. Having the sun in play also allows the full potential of one of VGC 2019’s most popular Pokemon in Venusaur. Venusaur’s Chlorophyll ability doubles its speed in harsh sunlight, meaning it can spread its oppressive Sleep Powder and also deal quick, devastating damage with Grass Knot and Sludge Bomb.
An unlikely partner to Malaviya’s Groudon was Yveltal, a restricted Pokemon already known for its success with Kyogre. Having Groudon as a partner makes sense for Yveltal since Groudon improves Yveltal’s matchup against Pokemon like Tapu Koko and Stakataka that can deal massive damage to it.
Yveltal was also a fantastic metagame call for this late in the season since even though Xerneas has still remained on top, the rise of Lunala was apparent. In Anaheim’s Top Cut there were three Lunala and one Necrozma-Dusk Mane which all have a terrible time against Yveltal. It was only a matter of time before Yveltal had another great major tournament performance, and it coincided with the rise of Pokemon that it loved going up against.
Daniel Thorpe’s Team
Daniel Thorpe made it to the Top Cut with this team featuring a plethora of delightfully unique Pokemon. Togedemaru has always had potential as a support Pokemon, but it has often been pushed aside for the faster electric rodent, Raichu. Togedemaru shares many of the similar roles as Raichu with the Lightningrod ability and access to Fake Out; but Togedemaru’s signature move Zing Zap can create a paraflinch combo alongside Nuzzle. Togedemaru may be a bit slower, but its Steel-typing and wider movepool give it quite a case for future use.
Jynx is a weird Pokemon, but it can actually become a full-on Kyogre answer thanks to its Dry Skin ability. Jynx was the original user of Lovely Kiss before Smeargle, and this move has been useful in VGC 2019 thanks to the prevalence of Safety Goggles to stop Amoonguss’ Spore. Jynx also has access to Fake Out and can even run moves like Skill Swap to steal away the weather advantage by re-activating Kyogre’s Drizzle ability.
Naganadel is an underrated Ultra Beast, and it can prove to be quite useful outside of its offensive presence. Though, its offense and speed are excellent, and the combination of moves like Sludge Bomb and Flamethrower can hit a lot of things in the metagame for big damage, which means free Beast Boosts. The main supportive move players choose Naganadel for is Tailwind, which is interesting for this team considering it also has Ho-Oh.
Thorpe’s team just feels like the culmination of everything designed to beat the current metagame, and judging by its performance in Anaheim, I’d say it worked pretty well.
Hydreigon is a Pokemon that has kind of slipped away from the mainstream since it holds a nasty x4 weakness to Fairy-types, but Bridger Snow showed us that there is still a place for this Pokemon at the top. Hydreigon’s offense is a main selling point for this Pokemon, and its Dark-typing gives it a similar favorable matchup in the metagame to that of Yveltal. Like Naganadel, Hydreigon can also provide Tailwind support which makes Hydreigon another niche offensive support that is worthy of a team slot this format.
Snow’s team also showed us why we shouldn’t forget about Lurantis. Lurantis is a unique Trick Room sweeper designed to rack up boosts with its ability Contrary and the move SuperPower. Being a Grass-type, it functions well with and against Kyogre, and with a couple of Attack and Defense boosts, this Pokemon can rip apart an opposing team under Trick Room.
To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot of data out there for Reuniclus in VGC 2019, but we can speculate. Back in the Black and White days, Reuniclus was an excellent Trick Room setter, and with the ability Regenerate, it could easily switch out and come back in with a high amount of HP. In the current metagame it is one of the few viable Ally Switch users and has access to Grass Knot which can hit many of the restricted Pokemon for major damage. Other supportive options include After You and Helping Hand which give Reuniclus some interesting options as a non-restricted Trick Room setter.
With the change to Moon Series soon upon us, it was nice to have one last look at what creativity could be evoked in VGC 2019’s Sun Series. The inclusion of Z Moves may not appear as a huge change on the surface, but it could shake up a number of popular strategies and even produce a ton of new ones. That’s all from Anaheim, and here’s to a new year and a new format!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokemon Shuffle, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International