Never late for redemption – Team Report from Naoto Mizobuchi, the 2019 Pokémon VGC World Champion

Hi guys, my name is Naoto Mizobichi and today I bring you the team I used to become the 2019 World Champion in the Masters Division. 

The team is about the same as what I used at Japan Nationals. The only change is that Tapu Fini ran Scald instead of Icy Wind. I felt awkward bringing a similar team to the World Championships, but I trusted this experienced team because I could not create another good team.

salamence-mega Victory Road The team

Groudon-Primal Victory Road
Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Desolate Land
EVs: 108 HP / 156 Atk / 244 SpD
Adamant Nature
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Dragon Claw
– Protect

I chose Dragon Claw since it’s a nice damage source against Salamence and Rayquaza.

Offensive calcs

kyogre-primal Victory Road | 156+ Atk Groudon-Primal Precipice Blades vs. 236 HP / 60 Def Kyogre- Primal: 103-123 50.2 – 60% — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

groudon-primal Victory Road | 252+ SpA Groudon-Primal Earth Power vs. 108 HP / 244 SpD Groudon-Primal: 162-192 85.7 – 101.5% — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Lunala Victory Road
Lunala @ Colbur Berry
Ability: Shadow Shield
EVs: 244 HP / 164 Def / 100 SpA
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 19 Spe
– Moongeist Beam
– Wide Guard
– Trick Room
– Protect

Colbur Berry is an often-activated item and allows it to survive Yveltalʼs Z- move, or even some dark-type moves after Shadow Shield is broken. Kasib Berry was an option making it possible to bring it in Lunala mirror matchups. Each of them has their merits.

Offensive calcs

rayquaza-mega Victory Road | 100+ SpA Lunala Moongeist Beam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Rayquaza-Mega: 88-105 (48.6 – 58%) — 95.7% chance to 2HKO

Salamence-Mega Victory Road
Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite
Ability: Aerilate
EVs: 36 HP / 244 SpD / 228 Spe
Hasty Nature
– Double-Edge
– Hyper Voice
– Tailwind
– Protect

Defensive calcs

tapu-lele Victory Road | 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 36 HP / 244 SpD Salamence-Mega: 152-182 86.8 – 104% — 25% chance to OHKO

lunala Victory Road | 252 SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 36 HP / 244 SpD Salamence-Mega: 151-178 86.2 – 101.7% — 12.5% chance to OHKO

Notes

rayquaza-mega Victory Road | Outspeeds all Mega Rayquaza

Tapu-Fini Victory Road
Tapu Fini @ Fairium Z
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 4 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Scald
– Nature’s Madness
– Protect

He did a great job in finals. It has a big damage output against threatening dark-type Pokemon such as Yveltal, Mandibuzz, Sableye, Umbreon, Alolan-Persian etc. Most of them donʼt have Protect and I easily knock them out. It is also useful to OHKO Mega Lopunny with Moonblast and OHKO Mega Lucario with the Z-Move.

Natureʼs Madness is an excellent move except for its accuracy. I brought it in various cases for dealing a lot of damage or setting Misty Terrain against the threat of sleep moves. I set its HP as an even number so that opponent canʼt find out that it doesnʼt have a Pinch Berry after Natureʼs Madness. I think Fairium Z Fini in this format is not so strong and not so effective in the metagame, but it is just the best match for this team.

Offensive calcs

lopunny-mega Victory Road | 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Lopunny: 152-180 (107.8 – 127.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

lucario-mega Victory Road | 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Twinkle Tackle (175 BP) vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Mega Lucario: 175-207 (120.6 – 142.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

Incineroar Victory Road
Incineroar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 236 SpD / 12 Spe
Careful Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
– U-turn

I usually bring it first along with Lunala, which is immune to Fake Out, so I donʼt have many opportunities for my Incineroar to Fake Out opponentʼs Incineroar before they Fake Out. Also, I didnʼt want too high a speed stat since I wanted a slower U-turn than opponents. Assault Vest is helpful for Rockium Z Nihilego and Waterium Z Tapu Fini.

Defensive calcs

tapu-fini Victory Road | 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Hydro Vortex (175 BP) vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 138-164 (69 – 82%) — guaranteed 2HKO

nihilego Victory Road | 252 SpA Nihilego Continental Crush (160 BP) vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 140-168 (70 – 84%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Stakataka Victory Road
Stakataka @ Rockium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Lonely Nature
IVs: 17 Def / 0 Spe
– Gyro Ball
– Stone Edge
– Trick Room
– Protect

It shows its real strength in Trick Room.

Stakataka does not often set up his Trick Room. It often turns into an attacker after Lunalaʼs one. I selected Stone Edge over Rock Slide in order to OHKO Incineroar with the Z-Move even after Intimidate. Rock Slide is worthless for a base move for a Z-Move because Z-Rock Slide has only 140 BP, lower than max BP Gyro Ball.

Offensive calcs

incineroar Victory Road | -1 252+ Atk Stakataka Continental Crush (180 BP) vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 246-290 (123 – 145%) — guaranteed OHKO

salamence-mega Victory Road Common leads

ArchetypeCommon leads
groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadgroudon-primal Victory Road+stakataka Victory Road/lunala Victory Road+salamence-mega Victory Road
kyogre-primal Victory Roadrayquaza-mega Victory Roadlunala Victory Road+salamence-mega Victory Road/groudon-primal Victory Road+tapu-fini Victory Road
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road+stakataka Victory Road/groudon-primal Victory Road+lunala Victory Road
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road+groudon Victory Road/salamence-mega Victory Road+tapu-fini Victory Road
groudon-primal Victory Roadyveltal Victory Roadlunala Victory Road+salamence-mega Victory Road/groudon-primal Victory Road+tapu-fini Victory Road
xerneas Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadgroudon-primal Victory Road+incineroar Victory Road/salamence-mega Victory Road+stakataka Victory Road

salamence-mega Victory Road The Tournament: Swiss rounds

Round 1 vs DEU Fevzi Özkan | LL
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadumbreon Victory Road

G1: I brought Incineroar, Lunala, Groudon and Tapu Fini while my opponent had his Incineroar, Tapu Fini, Rayquaza and Umbreon. I just could not deal with my opponentʼs Choice Band Rayquaza. At the last, there were only my Incineroar and Umbreon left but I couldn’t break through Umbreon with Moonlight.

G2: To put it lightly, I was destroyed all by the banded Rayquaza. I should have brought Stakataka and used Trick Room in order to deal with him, but I hesitated to set it up because of the Rayquaza’s slow teammates on my opponentʼs team. I brought the same as G1 and lost exactly at the same way. There were many points to reflect upon.

My Day2 started at 0-1. “Huh? Am I okay with such a bad start?” I snapped out of it and moved on round 2.

Round 2 vs FIN Oliver Eskolin | WW
groudon-primal Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadnaganadel Victory Roadumbreon Victory Road

I faced Umbreon two times in a row. I wondered if it was actually a trend.

G1: In my first turn I doubled Moongeist Beam and Z-Moonblast into Umbreon and knocked it out. I got advantages and just won.

G2: Umbreon was not brought, maybe based on G1. My Lunala was threat-free as a result. I carefully played and took the win.

I barely avoided 2 straight losses. My record was 1-1. In order to go on to Top Cut, I had to achieve a 5-2 record or better. There was a long way to Top Cut.

Round 3 vs ITA Marco Hemantha | LL
xerneas Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadkangaskhan-mega Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadcrobat Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road

Although this matchup is not easy to deal with, I practiced it a lot. However, it was straight sets loss. I didnʼt expect Lunalaʼs Icy Wind and just played so badly. What did I practice for? I expected to face this matchup and practiced for it, so I was really disappointed at this straight loss. My record was 1-2. I was wandering in an abyss of despair. No more losses were allowed. I had to win all the matches from here, even though I had a terrible 1-2 record.

“No hope…”

I realized my elimination was close and I started feeling dead. However, a dying man keeps wandering with a slight hope…

Round 4 vs KOR Cheong Hyun Jun | WW
groudon-primal Victory Roadyveltal Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadshedinja Victory Road

G1: I brought Lunala, Tapu Fini, Groudon and Salamence while my opponent used Tapu Lele, Nihilego, Groudon and Shedinja. In the first turn, my Lunala was knocked out by Choice Scarf Tapu Leleʼs Shadow Ball and Nihilegoʼs Z-Power Gem. I fall into a deficit as soon as the game started. I tried to make up for it, but it was still rough situation because of that loss of Lunala. It ended up in a situation where I could win if my Groudon avoided opponent Groudonʼs Precipice Blades and my Groudon hit them. I was about to give it up but my Groudon avoided the attack! And my Groudon hit Precipice Blades! Luckily I recovered to win. Needless to say, it was the hugest win by a fluke.

G2: This game, I brought Lunala, Groudon, Stakataka and Salamence versus Nihilego, Tapu Lele, Groudon and Yveltal. Based on G1, I expected he would double and KO one of my Pokemon. I decided not to Protect either of them because Precipice Blades or Trick Room getting off was advantageous.  The result was that my Groudon was doubled and knocked out, but Lunala set up Trick Room and Stakataka came in. Lunala could beat Tapu Lele with Moongeist Beam and Stakataka could beat Nihilego with Gyro Ball. From there, I won by controlling the good situation.

I reached 2-2 thanks to the huge luck in the G1. Honestly I was afraid of battling because even one match loss meant I couldn’t reach Top Cut. That would mean the end of my worlds run and I had no room in my mind. However, all I had to do is to play as usual and to keep making the best choice in any situation. Even if I get pushed into a corner, I couldn’t play eccentrically or lead ridiculously. I went onto the next round with confidence in myself, since I had prepared everything for today.

Round 5 vs ITA Riccardo Appamea | WLW
groudon-primal Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadpersian-alolan Victory Road

Lunala Groudon mirror matchup. They were exciting games but I donʼt remember the details due to too long and close matches. Especially G3 was really close and completely unpredictable… I narrowly took the win and survived. My record was 3-2. Two straight wins to make it to the cut. That gave me a ray of hope.

Round 6 vs GBR Ethan Fench | WW
kyogre-primal Victory Roadrayquaza-mega Victory Roadmetagross-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadnihilego Victory Road

This was the first time facing the Rayogre core at worlds.

G1: I managed to win by setting myself in a good position for Salamence and Groudon by dealing chip damage via Nature’s Madness. His Incineroar had Incinium Z, so Lunala’s Colbur Berry came in clutch at the right moment.

G2: In the middle of the game, I read his switch into Rayquaza and used Dragon Claw into that slot. This was crucial as I was able to deal good amounts of damage to Rayquaza and put myself in a good position to win from there onwards.

I was able to go all the way up to 4-2 from a devastating 1-2 start. I only needed to win one more game to reach top cut.

Round 7 vs JPN Rinya Kobayashi | WW
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Roadstakataka Victory Road

I assumed I’d have to face a Japanese player as I discovered there were 5 Japanese players at 4-2, and my prediction was correct. My opponent was a highly talented player who reached here all the way from Day 1.

G1: I used Incineorar, Tapu Fini, Salamence and Groudon while he brought Incineroar, Lunala, Rayquaza and Amoonguss. This game was a pivoting war. Despite being cornered into an awkward situation from his Rayquaza setting up Swords Dance, I was able to deal with it by cycling Salamence and Incineroar’s Intimidate. Since all 4 of my mons were good against Amoonguss, it allowed me to pivot advantageously and win from there.

G2: : This game, I chose Incineorar, Tapu Fini, Salamence and Stakataka versus his Incineroar, Lunala, Rayquaza and Stakataka. I’ve decided to choose Stakataka after discovering his Rayquaza was the SD variant. Seeming how Amoonguss didn’t function at all in the 1st game, my opponent has also decided to bring his own Stakataka. After a long pivoting war, it came down to a 1v1 between our Stakataka’s. Both of our Rock moves were Stone Edge. Although I had the HP advantage, anything could’ve happened (such as misses, crits and running out of PP) so I didn’t know how the game would’ve ended. At last, I won as my Stakataka landed its Stone Edge consecutively.

And… I was able to reach top cut. I felt relief rather than happiness at that time. I was thinking “from here onwards, I have to witness with my own eyes how far I can go” instead of optimistically thinking “I will reach all the way up to the finals from here!” I might’ve lost courage after starting 1-2.

salamence-mega Victory Road The Tournament: Top cut

Tie break vs ITA Michele GaveliWW
kyogre-primal Victory Roadrayquaza-mega Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadcelesteela Victory Roadtogedemaru Victory Roadmimikyu Victory Road

I believe I made the correct gameplan of ignoring Celesteela and instead targeting down its partner. It was a good game. Please check the video for the full coverage of the match.

Top 16 vs GBR Jamie Boyt | WLW
xerneas Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadsalazzle Victory Roadbreloom Victory Road

He was a very powerful player who went undefeated in swiss.

G1: I brought Incineroar, Lunala, Groudon and Stakataka versus his Salamence, Salazzle, Necrozma and Xerneas. When I tried setting up Trick Room with Lunala, his Salamence had Roar and prevented me from setting it up. Afterwards I had troubles dealing with his Salazzle’s Fling + Razor Fang but managed to win by setting up Trick Room in the late game.

G2: This time I used Incineroar, Lunala, Groudon and Stakataka. He changed his lead using Breloom and Salazzle with Necrozma and Salamence in the back. His Breloom supported by Salazzle caused havoc and I lost from that, showing the consequences of choosing mons that are weak to Breloom.

G3: In this last game, I used the same lead with Incineroar + Lunala with Groudon and Tapu Fini. He did the same bringing Breloom and Salazzle with Necrozma and Salamence After the 2nd game, I thought that if I can set up Trick Room while preventing Spore with Tapu Fini, I can put myself in a very good position. So I chose Tapu Fini, and aimed to set up Trick Room. Although his Salazzle prevented my Lunala from moving with Fling, my Lunala managed to survive a double-up from his Salamence’s Double-Edge and Salazzle’s Overheat, allowing it to activate Trick Room. I was able to win g3 from there.

Top 8 vs ESP Eric Ríos | WW
kyogre-primal Victory Roadrayquaza-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadnihilego Victory Road

G1: I tried to read a Rayquaza switch-in turn 2 but failed to do so. During the middle of the game, he read my switch from Stakataka to Groudon and despite being overwhelmed by his excellent plays, Stakataka shined at the end and secured my win. Also, on the turn where I set up Trick Room with Lunala, I assumed it would be able to survive a +1 Dragon Ascent as I have invested quite a lot of EVs to its physical bulk.

Please check out the video for more details!

Top 4 vs USA James Baek | LWW
kyogre-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadtornadus Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road

G1: This game showed the downsides of bringing Salamence instead of Tapu Fini.

Firstly, my team consists of:

Lunala → Could have Psyshock
Groudon → Fire move
Incineroar → Flare Blitz
Salamence → Flying move
Tapu Fini → Misty Terrain
Stakataka → Could have Safety Goggles

G1: The team consists of 6 mons where opponents could feel hesitant to bring Amoonguss in G1 of a BO3 set and my opponent did rarely bring Amoonguss in G1, so I set up Trick Room without considering the possibility of him bringing Amoonguss. As I didn’t bring Tapu Fini in this game, I had no ways to prevent his Spore and consequently his Amoonguss dominated the board and since he played very well, I was completely defeated.

G2: I read him to go for the Role Play + Water Spout play turn 1, so I didn’t switch into Groudon but revealed Wide Guard and KO’d his Tornadus with Gyro Ball. After learning my errors from G1, I brought Tapu Fini to prevent his Amoonguss’s Spore and won by prioritizing safe plays. When Kyogre teams without Rayquaza use a lead that’s relatively weak to Groudon, consisting of either Togedemaru, Nihilego, Tornadus or Lopunny alongside Kyogre, I always assume they will attempt the Role Play gimmick so I try not to switch into Groudon without considerations.

G3: I was in a very advantageous position after doubling up into the Amoonguss turn 1 and then won from prioritizing safe plays. I went for the double-up because it seemed as if didn’t have Protect and from G1 to 2 my opponent constantly tried to manage his board position via U-turn. I also know he’s genuinely a good player so I thought “since he’s a good player he won’t go for the Fake Out + Spore, a play which can get ruined from a Tapu Fini switch-in”. Although I wrote this much the last part could’ve just been from my natural instinct.

Grand Finals vs JPN Hirofumi Kimura | WW
groudon Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadkangaskhan-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadumbreon Victory Road

I was finally able to reach the Grand Finals. This was my first and last chance to become the World Champion and I obviously had the will to win. However, I also thought whether this flow is directed for me to do it.

Firstly, both the 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami and 2017 World Champion Ryota Otsubo had won Japan nats in their respective championship years and I thought the same thing could occur this year too.

Secondly, since Hirofumi was using Umbreon it seemed as if most of the viewers were cheering for him. This situation was very similar to when I lost to Viera 4 years ago in the semi finals and they seemed as if they had that “aura of a protagonist”. I had a little discouraged thinking “this could perhaps not be the plotline for me to win”.

Obviously, these kind of ideas will not affect the match, and I understood it’s irrelevant in my head, but I was still wary about it. At this stage all I have to do is to keep on making plays that I think are the best. As a result, I must witness whether I am in the winner or the loser’s position. But if I was in the winner’s position, it would’ve been a very delightful thing to experience. And at last, I was able to achieve my long-cherished wish! I finally became the world champion!

Despite my very mild pop-off, I was extremely happy in the inside. After the match, Kaeru shook my hand with a smile and stated that “he has no regrets”. I would like to show respect for his wonderful sportsmanship. Assuming how most of you have watched the match already, I will be skipping the match analysis. I was thinking of explaining about my reason behind the double protect in G1 but decided not to do so

salamence-mega Victory Road Final thoughts

Although I wrote the report very concisely, this will be it for my world report! Thank you for reading it!

See you all in the Galar Region!!

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