Hello Hat Lovers!
I played in US Nationals last weekend. I needed to make top 128 in order to get my worlds invite so top 128 was all I cared about. I’ve been burnt out from the 2016 format lately and wouldn’t mind if I never played it again but I also didn’t want to miss worlds (especially with San Fransisco being such a convenient trip compared to Indiana, Boston and Columbus). A week before Nationals I decided to play Xerneas/Groudon. I tested Bronzong, Smeargle and a couple other Pokemon in the non-restricted slots but ended up using Thundurus and Cresselia as they were what I felt most comfortable with.
Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
EVs: 204 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 92 SpD / 52 Spe
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
Because of the many speed control options on the team I didn’t want to run a max speed Groudon that would be vulnerable to OHKOs from other Groudon. In the past I’ve used Rock Tomb on Groudon but I figured I’d want a set up move to allow me to take advantage of defensive play at the National level.
This spread survives Timid Earth Power from Groudon 100% of the time and give Groudon a 4n+1 HP number for Substitute. The attack stat reaches the common 11n number and the rest is put into speed.
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 132 HP / 116 Def / 68 SpA / 4 SpD / 188 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
A while ago I decided that the strongest possible team in 2016 would have Xerneas and Smeargle. These two both have the ability to take charge of games with a single move. I didn’t end up using Smeargle because I didn’t feel good about relying on my own Smeargle to stop other Smeargle but I couldn’t pass up Xerneas. Normally one might be worried about using the most hyped team archetype going into Nationals but at this point in the format nothing seems to suggest this isn’t the strongest overall archetype and every time a counter presents itself the team finds a way to adapt to it.
With the trend of bulky Xerneas I decided to reach 143 speed so that I’d out speed other bulky Xerneas as well as max speed neutral nature Kyogre and Smeargle. I can’t remember what the point of the defensive investment was but I’m sure it was good.
Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 252 Spe
– Hyper Voice
Standard Salamence I’ve been using all season. While many changes in the metagame are unfavourable for Salamence its hard to pass up a Pokemon with Intimidate, Tailwind and strong damage output. You can’t win a major tournament in the US without Salamence on your team, we’ll see if this applies to Worlds as well.
Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Inner Focus
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Low Kick
– Sucker Punch
– Fake Out
Standard Kangaskhan I’ve used all season (except that one time I used Icy Wind). The mega evolutions on the team are not particularly exciting.
Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 220 HP / 76 Def / 4 SpA / 36 SpD / 172 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunder Wave
Thundurus has a lot of utility with Prankster Taunt and Thunder Wave. Thundurus helps prevent Xerneas and Smeargle memes from ruining your day. Since this team doesn’t have a Trick Room option having Taunt to stop other Trick Room setters was important. While Mental Herb is common on TR setters they often don’t have anything to do if you Taunt them again. The major weakness of Thundurus is that it can’t hit Groudon which I suspect is why other Xerneas/Groudon teams have dropped the genie in favour of other support Pokemon.
Cresselia @ Leftovers
EVs: 244 HP / 60 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 196 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Skill Swap
– Icy Wind
– Thunder Wave
Safeguard Cresselia alongside Kangaskhan is one of the safest leads against other Xerneas/Groudon teams. Most Smeargle have dropped Follow Me so once you’ve set up Safeguard it can’t do anything to you. I used Thunder Wave so that if Smeargle did have Follow Me it would get KO’d by Double-Edge and then Thunder Wave would keep Xerneas in check.
Cresselia hits the same speed stat as Xerneas. Its generally a bad idea to have speed ties amongst your own Pokemon but I wasn’t worried about it ever mattering. Since Cresselia was faster than Groudon I can use Skill Swap and use Fire Punch in the face of a potential Kyogre switch in. This kind of Cresselia is fantastic against teams that don’t use Trick Room as their main form of speed control.
I used this team to win a Premiere Challenge after Spring Regionals were over. The team is pretty solid overall but in trying to be safe it lack some of the high impact plays that the more successful Xerneas/Groudon team had at Nationals. Swords Dance + Gravity + Trick Room is devastating. Having Power-Up-Punch on Kangaskhan would give the team another set up sweeper and having Smeargle period is enough to turn games on their head. Still, it got me the remaining points I needed which gives me another chance next month.
Going into Worlds
With Worlds being the final tournament of the season I have greater motivation to do well. I haven’t had any great tournament finishes this season and it would feel lame to barely scrap into Worlds when the bar is so low and then do poorly day one. At the same time the streamed matches from Nationals haven’t inspired me with hope for the format. Regardless of what the formats like, I still had a ton of fun at Nationals and am sure that Worlds will be even more exciting.