The guardian of moonlight — Team Report from Hirofumi Kimura, Runner-Up at the 2019 World Championships

Hello! I’m Ka’El. I finished as runner-up at Pokémon World Championships held in August. I want to thank all the people who supported me. I’m full of gratitude.

I usually like to use pivoting teams such as SolgRay and DiaOgre, but this time I brought an aggressive team for Worlds. Here we go!

salamence-mega Team Building Process

The aim of the team

I aimed to create a team with an advantage against three teams popular in overseas, XRay / RayOgre / XernDon, and not with a disadvantage against Lunala team popular in Japan. Especially LunaRay team was increasing in the metagame and I couldn’t avoid considering it a part of the meta.

rayquaza-megasolgaleo| Release of SolgRay

SolgRay meets these conditions but it has a fatal weakness; it is too passive. Because overseas players tend to play more aggressively than Japanese players, passive teams such as SolgRay would be destroyed by predictions of my moves at some point in lengthy positioning battles.

The increase of Kangaskhan with Bite was also a problem for SolgRay and I experienced a lot of autolosses after Solgaleo got flinched. I had to create a team going for dominance by speed.

necrozma-ultratapu-lele| Choosing Lele Necrozma as the core of the team

I have been interested in Ultra Necrozma with Trick Room since Ultra Series started. It is really strong in battles (not only in VGC battles) because it can overwhelm via speed, by going its origin form in Trick Room and using Ultra Burst after Trick Room finishes.

However, I was thinking as follows:

  • Necrozma-Dusk as physical attacker was too weak to Intimidate.
  • Necrozma-Dusk as special attacker didn’t have enough power to overwhelm in Trick Room.
  • Necrozma-Dawn had a hard time setting up Trick Room safely because of 4x weaknesses and poor bulk.

The speed after Ultra Burst also troubled me. Although I wanted it to outspeed Rayquaza-Mega and Salamence-Mega after its Ultra Burst, it needs to give a nature bonus to Speed for that, which makes it less powerful and more likely to be outsped in Trick Room. For these reasons, I didn’t use Necrozma at Japan Nats, but I found best partner for him. It was Tapu Lele.

It can support Necrozma’s power with Psychic Terrain and can overwhelm Rayquaza-Mega and Salamence-Mega thanks to its Choice Scarf. It is also excellent for preventing Xerneas’s Geomancy with Magic Room in exchange for its Choice Scarf’s speed boost.

That’s why the problem of Necrozma-Dusk lack of power as a special attacker was resolved by Psychic Terrain, and I abandoned Necrozma-Dawn and physical Necrozma-Dusk.

groudon-primalkyogre-primal| The third slot: Choosing second legendary

Next I chose a second legendary. I needed an attacker in TR for the lack of power overwhelming after TR. I was thinking that the most powerful should be after all a multi-target move, so I decided to choose either Groudon-Primal or Kyogre-Primal as a second legendary Pokemon.

These pros and cons are:

Finally, I chose Groudon for it’s ability to deal with opponent’s Xerneas, which I would face many times at worlds. One more reason I didn’t choose Kyogre was because my team would become too weak against Light Screen. Both Necrozma and Tapu Lele are special attackers, so Kyogre would make it more difficult to win in the damage race against an opponent who uses Light Screen (mainly from Tapu Fini).

Of course the same is true of special Groudon, so I decided to use physical Groudon. Its issues were solved as follows:

  • Weakness to Intimidate: Groudon is initially very strong against Incineroar by hitting it with Precipice Blades, and Salamence is not a quite as problematic because it doesn’t have Intimidate after Mega-Evolving. Only one Intimidate doesn’t matter thanks to its high stats.
  • Missing Precipice Blades: I can win some games in spite of some misses. Even if I lost one game due to misses, it would not be a problem as long as I could win the other two games because the format is BO3.
  • HP Water: I just had to take care not to send Groudon out when opponent’s Kyogre may be in the back.

salamence-mega| The fourth slot: Determining the main lead

At this point I set the main core as Necrozma/Tapu Lele/Groudon and the last Pokémon. It didn’t contain a Mega Pokémon and I decided to add Mega Pokémon to the last slot of main core.

The types effective against all the three are Ghost, Dark, and Ground. In other words, I decided to put an emphasis on Lunala/Yveltal/Groudon.

Necrozma doesn’t have an effective move to hit Yveltal and will not be brought in Yveltal matchups, so I decided that I should not deal with Yveltal in the main core. Next, I considered it difficult to deal with Lunala matchups with a single Pokémon, because it could be paired with various legendaries such as Xerneas, Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza. For these reasons I picked Salamence-Mega as a counter against Groudon, with immunity to Ground-type moves and Intimidate. Salamence can set up Tailwind for speed control and it brought powerful speed control options with Salamence’s Tailwind or Necrozma’s Trick Room. Salamence has good synergy with Necrozma and Tapu Lele due to its power and speed.

umbreon| The fifth slot: Selection of Umbreon

I needed a dark-type Pokémon as a counter against Lunala and Yveltal, which were not dealt with as part of the main core. Incineroar was excluded from the options first of all. This was mainly because it was too popular, targeted by everyone, and weak to their pair legendaries: Kyogre, Groudon, and sometimes even Rayquaza. Incineroar didn’t fit this team as it rarely fought positioning battles.

Then I searched for another dark-type Pokemon. First I picked Mandibuzz, which is not weak to Groudon and Kyogre, provides speed control by Tailwind, and ha a winning-condition with Roost.

However, I found it useless when it was ignored. Mandibuzz mainly uses Foul Play to deal damage but it does nothing against pairing such as Fini + Incineroar, so puts a large burden on its partner. Its weakness to Rock-type moves, like Incineroar, is also bad as it can be knocked out by Stakataka – which was often paired with Lunala and Yveltal. I still considered bulky dark-type Pokemon fine. I looked for Mandibuzz with no such faults and I found Umbreon.

Umbreon is a bulky dark-type like Mandibuzz, has a win condition with Moonlight, and doesn’t have weakness to Rock-type moves. Additionally it can make its partner’s move more powerful with Helping Hand and put pressure on the opponents, so it doesn’t matter if it is ignored. It’s like attacking through its partner.

Although it has its weakness to Fighting-type in common with Incineroar, I didn’t considered it a problem because there are no Fighting-type Pokemon in the metagame, and Necrozma/Tapu Lele/Salamence were extremely strong against Fighting-types if I were to see any.

kangaskhan-mega| The sixth slot: Compromise

Yveltal teams and Xernala were not resolved by these five Pokemon. I tried various Pokemon for them, such as Tapu Koko, Amoonguss, and Jumpluff, but they were all incomplete and I could not win against both of them. I was forced to give up either LunaXern or Yveltal matchups. I decided to give up Yveltal matchups and add a counter against LunaXern to the last slot for the following reasons:

  • Not many people would bring Yveltal teams in a metagame with so many Xerneas.
  • Yveltal teams would be removed from the top, if any were brought. 
  • There would be at most one matchup against Yveltal and a loss wasn’t a problem as long as I could win the other rounds.

(I had guessed wrong, there were two Yveltal teams in Top 8 and I faced no LunaXern in the whole of Swiss Round and Top Cut.) I also needed a counter against sleep moves, namely Smeargle. Amoonguss looked like the best for that role but it had no choice but to Rage Powder in matchups with Koko or Fini.

In the end I added Kangaskhan-Mega to the last slot. It meets the basic conditions: strong against Lunala thanks to its Normal-type, not being OHKOd by Xerneas and can prevent its Geomancy with Roar, and can stop Smeargle from using sleep moves by KOing it around its Focus Sash. Additionally, it is also cool to flinch with Bite 50% of the time, even in disadvantageous situations.

Complete of Teambuilding

The team was completed with these six. The archetype was GroudonNecrozma, which had no remarkable results either in Japan or overseas, and was not a target of the current meta. I was convinced that the team was the best to bring to Worlds.

I believed the team should get more luck thanks to its concept of going for dominance via speed. The number of attacks (probability of giving a critical hit or an additional effect) should be higher, and the bad luck from being attacked (probability of taking a critical hit or an additional effect) should be lower.

salamence-mega The Team

▶️ Get the importable version of the team here!

Necrozma Dusk Mane @ Ultranecrozium Z  
Ability: Neuroforce  
Level: 50  
EVs: 84 HP / 4 Def / 236 SpA / 12 SpD / 172 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
– Earth Power  
– Photon Geyser  
– Trick Room  
– Protect

The HP invest is to minimise poison and Leech Seed damage.
Outspeed max speed Nihilego after Ultra Bursting

  • Protect: Protect is necessary as Necrozma’s bulk lowers when it ultra bursts. It can also stall opponent’s TW/TR turns too.
  • Photon Geyser: Main means of offence. Its firepower is insane.
  • Earth Power: Coverage move against Incineroar, Groudon and Stakataka. Synergises well with Umbreon’s Helping Hand.
  • Trick Room: Often used as a counter to Xerneas and Tailwind, but can also be used by purposely receiving Icy Wind and exploiting it with TR.

The main attacker of this team. It’s usable in a wide range of situations, such as not bursting under TR but going for it after it has ended or going straight for offense by Ultra Bursting from turn 1. 

Since the damage output towards Incineroar doesn’t change whether its Sp.Atk stat is 238 or 240, I settled with 238. I needed it to outspeed Nihilego, otherwise my Lele or Mence would have a difficult time against it under Magic Room. 

When investing the rest of the EVs to its defences, the damage output from poision and leech seed would maximise if I gave it 92 EVs to HP and 4 each to its defences, so I reduced its HP stat by one and invested the remaining EVs to its Sp.Def. 

Offensive calcs

groudon-primal 236+ SpA Neuroforce Necrozma-Ultra Earth Power vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Groudon-Primal: 182-216 (103.4 – 122.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

tapu-fini 236+ SpA Necrozma-Ultra Light That Burns the Sky vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 178-210 (100.5 – 118.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

incineroar 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar: 69-82 (34.1 – 40.5%) — combined with 236+ SpA Neuroforce Necrozma-Ultra Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar: 130-154 (64.3 – 76.2%) — Very high chance to OHKO 252 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar

Tapu-Lele Victory Road
Tapu Lele @ Choice Scarf  
Ability: Psychic Surge  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
– Moonblast  
– Dazzling Gleam  
– Psychic  
– Magic Room

Outspeeds MegaGyarados at +1 speed.

  • Psychic: I chose Psychic over Psyshock because with Psyshock you wouldn’t be able to KO Koko under terrain and most opponents that I would use Psychic moves against often do not hold AV. Moreover Psychic has a higher base power. 
  • Moonblast: Coverage move against Mega Rayquaza and Salamence.
  • Dazzling Gleam: A spread move which can be used in various situations such as dealing chip damage from the beginning or sweeping chipped opponents in the late game.
  • Magic Room: I only use this move to remove Xerneas’s Power Herb. But it can also neutralise defensive items such as Ray’s Sash/AV, Incin’s AV and Fini’s pinch berry and allows me to overwhelm them with firepower.

Psychic terrain not only increases my Necrozma’s firepower but also prevents opponents from stalling out TW/TR turns with Fake out. 

Lele is capable of making various plays such as dealing chip damage via Dazzle and Psychic and also sweeping opponents with Dazzling Gleam in the late game. 

The spread is simplistic. Lele’s role in this team is to damage opponents as quickly as possible so I maximised its damage output and speed, and gave the remaining EVs to its HP to increase its overall bulk. 

Offensive calcs

rayquaza-mega 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Rayquaza-Mega: 180-212 (99.4 – 117.1%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

incineroar 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar: 69-82 (34.1 – 40.5%) — combined with 236+ SpA Neuroforce Necrozma-Ultra Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar: 130-154 (64.3 – 76.2%) — Very high chance to OHKO 252 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar

Kangaskhan-Mega Victory Road
Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite  
Ability: Scrappy  
Level: 50  
EVs: 140 HP / 108 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
Jolly Nature  
– Fake Out  
– Return  
– Bite  
– Roar

  • Fake Out: With Fake Out you can safely set up TR with Necrozma by preventing the opponent from making its move but since Kang is not very strong within the 1st turn under TR, I often used Fake Out to stop one of my opponent’s mons from moving while allowing the adjacent Pokemon to attack the other slot.
  • Return: A reliable chipping move with its 102 BP and 100% accuracy. I chose it over Double-Edge because Kangaskhan’s role was to maintain board positioning via Fake Out so I didn’t require it to have firepower unlike most teams.
  • Bite: This move fulfills the role of removing Lunala’s Shadow Shield and having a 51% chance to flinch it. Although Crunch has a BP of 80, you cannot pull any crucial flinches with Crunch and most importantly it cannot OHKO Lunala at full health.
  • Roar: Roar was necessary to stop Xerneas’s in XL teams as it can demolish the team once it sets up Geomancy. You can also use it against Mega-Gengar’s to escape the Shadow Tag trappings.

A Pokémon specialised for XL and Smeargle matchups. Although I barely bring this Pokémon to matches, it’s able to check opponent’s Lunalium Z by being in team preview. 

I invested the necessary Atk EVs to pick up the OHKO against Smeargle via Return, and gave it max speed in order to use Bite against Lunala before it moves and for the potential speed ties. 

Offensive calcs

smeargle 108 Atk Parental Bond Kangaskhan-Mega Return vs. 4 HP / 252 Def Smeargle: 132-157 (100.7 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

Salamence-Mega Victory Road
Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite  
Ability: Intimidate  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  
Jolly Nature  
– Protect  
– Tailwind  
– Hyper Voice  
– Double-Edge

  • Protect: Protect is necessary as Mence is often threatened by opposing mons due to lack of defensive investments. I can also use it to stall out my own TR set by Necrozma.
  • Double Edge: Deals consistent damage output. I didn’t replace it with Return because I wanted Mence to have more firepower (please check the damage calcs). In some situations it may knock it self out from recoil,  allowing me to get a free switch the next turn.
  • Hyper Voice: Although it lacks in firepower, it’s still able to deal enough damage to ruin the opponent’s defensive calcs and the fact that it was a spread move without any recoil helped a lot. I often use it to KO opponents at low health while damaging the adjacent slot too.
  • Tailwind: Not only it allows Mence to outspeed opposing Scarf Lele’s or Koko’s, but you can also use in during the last turn of TR to maintain a dominant board position.

Salamence is a Pokemon which functions as a Ground resist, capable of speed control via Tailwind and KO’ing chipped opponents with Double-Edge. I will choose this mon 99% of the time when facing XernDon, X-Ray and RayOgre. And to be fair, there aren’t many Flying resisting cores in this meta so its utility is excellent (I won’t choose it if there are other mons that I should bring instead). 

During practice, I realised how Salamence within this team functions at its fullest potential if it was piloted to dominate the board with high damage output, so I invested all of its EVs to Atk and Speed. Since Lele and Ultra-Necrzoma’s bulk isn’t too high, I must prevent situations where the opponent survives our attacks and counter back when I’m in the position to move first. 

If I gave Mence a hindering nature to its bulk, it will increase the chances of Mega-Ray’s Extreme Speed or Koko’s Dazzle being in KO range of another attack. I also noticed how Hyper Voice is rather used to deal bare minimum damage to opponents and as I often used Double-Edge as its main means of offence, so I gave it a Jolly nature. 

Offensive calcs

yveltal 252 Atk Aerilate Salamence-Mega Helping Hand Double-Edge vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Yveltal: 208-246 (102.9 – 121.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

rayquaza-mega 0- SpA Aerilate Salamence-Mega Hyper Voice vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Rayquaza-Mega: 48-57 (26.5 – 31.4%) — guaranteed 4HKO

Groudon-Primal Victory Road
Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
Ability: Desolate Land  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Atk / 180 SpD  
Adamant Nature  
IVs: 27 Spe  
– Protect  
– Fire Punch  
– Dragon Claw  
– Precipice Blades

Underspeed non Speed EV’d Primals by -2 and outspeeds Scarf Landrous with neutral nature under Tailwind.

  • Protect: Protect is necessary for Groudon when the adjacent mon is setting up speed control.
  • Precipice Blades: Although it has shaky accuracy,  Groudon’s natural strength as a restricted allows it to create moments where the misses won’t be that crucial to the match. Stomping Tantrum was not used since I wanted to OHKO Incineroar at neutral.
  • Fire Punch: Since it’s a single target move with 100% accuracy, I sometimes use it when catching the opponent’s Wide Guard. This move is required because without it, the team would have no coverage against Ferrothron and Celesteela.
  • Dragon Claw: I’ve tested various moves ranging from Substitute to Swords Dance, and I realised how I rarely use these moves and I sometimes had matches where I lost a late-game 1v1 against Ray so I chose Dragon Claw.

Due to its excelling stats, Groudon is able to function as a Trick Room/Tailwind sweeper or can use its ability to checkmate the opponent. 

As Groudon is mainly used as a TR sweepeer, I didn’t think speed EVs were necessary and prioritised its bulk by investing 252 EVs to its HP. In regards of its Atk as long as it has a beneficial nature its base stat still hits the benchmark of 220 even without any EVs, so I invested the rest towards Atk. 

Next, I wanted my Groudon to survive any attack it receives from opposing Groudon regardless of them being physical or special so initially I set its EVs to be able to survive opposing Groudon’s Earth Power. And the defensive benchmark was close to the line of surviving Modest Lunala’s Z move so I increased its EVs so it has a very high chance of surviving the attack, although I doubted there were many modest Lunala’s at worlds. 

I gave the rest of the EVs to its Atk, so it can 2HKO bulkless Xerneas with Fire PunchI set its speed to 108, considering how some people could set their primals to 109 speed to avoid speed ties. I didn’t make Groudon min speed because I also wanted it to function under TW. 

Offensive calcs

xerneas 76+ Atk Groudon-Primal Fire Punch vs. 252 HP / 140 Def Xerneas in Harsh Sunshine: 111-132 (47.6 – 56.6%) — 84.4% chance to 2HKO

Defensive calcs

lunala 252+ SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 252 HP / 180 SpD Groudon-Primal: 175-207 (84.5 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Umbreon Victory Road
Umbreon @ Sitrus Berry  
Ability: Inner Focus  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 204 Def / 52 SpD  
Relaxed Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe 
– Foul Play  
– Snarl  
– Moonlight  
– Helping Hand

  • Foul Play: Often used to deal chip damage. Due to the nature of this move, intimidating my opponents will lead to lesser damage dealt by Foul Play but since this team isn’t centralised on cycling Intimidates I was not concerned about it. Foul Play is pretty much a 2HKO against almost all Necrozma and Rayquaza.
  • Snarl: Can be used in various situations, such as using it against special attackers under TR to make them less of a threat or catching a switch-in too. This move, combined with Moonlight Umbreon, shutdown opponents more easily.
  • Moonlight: Used to stall out opponents. Synergises excellently when Groudon is next to it as the recovery amount increases to 66%.
  • Helping Hand: This move increases the chances of Ultra Necrozma’s EP OHKOing Incis and Mence’s DE OHKOing Yveltal. Even when there are two Dark resisting mons on the field, Helping Hand prevents Umbreon from becoming deadweight.

Although it does have the bulk, considering how its typing doesn’t resist many attacks and the frequency of berries activating, I gave it a Sitrus Berry. Having a Sitrus Berry means it will activate immediately when it gets hit by Nature’s Madness.

Umbreon didn’t shine in the finals but I was able to showcase its potential especially in the semi-finals. With its immense overall bulk, slightly less than Cresselia, it will not be OHKO’d as long as the move isn’t super effective and boosted from exterior factors. Umbreon is used to support is allies via Helping Hand and stalling opponents with Moonlight

Umbreon is especially strong against LunaRay and NecroRay teams which were around in the Worlds meta. Most restricted, not just Rayquaza and Necrozma, have a high Atk stat, so Foul Play is an effective way to damage them. 

I invested significantly towards its physical defense, considering my matchups against LunaRay and NecroRay. It also increaes my chances of winning a 1v1 against Incineroars. In regards of its SpD, I made sure it can at least survive Koko’s Fairium Z as it would be problematic if it got OHKO’d. 

Min speed was necessary so it can not only move before opposing Necrozma under Trick Room but also to increase my chances of dealing good damage with Foul Play into whatever switches in when Incineroar U-turns first. 

Defensive calcs

tapu-koko 252 SpA Tapu Koko Twinkle Tackle (160 BP) vs. 252 HP / 52 SpD Umbreon: 168-200 (83.1 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO

salamence-mega Team Match-Ups

Xerneas + Groudon
ArchetypeAlways bringNever bringCommon leads


An advantageous matchup. If you KO their Xerneas your win is pretty much guaranteed. I used to think Mence was the only mega that would work but you can also bring Kang if they choose not to bring their own Salamence, such as if they bring Inci Xern Fini Don in G1. 

Xerneas + Rayquaza
ArchetypeAlways bringNever bringCommon leads


Also an advantageous matchup. Like above, it all comes down to how you beat Xerneas. Dazzle is often effective against this core, so I sometimes use this move even when Xern is not on the field 

Rayquaza + Kyogre
ArchetypeAlways bringNever bringCommon leads


An advantageous matchup again. Their common leads are usually Koko + Ogre so our lead is to match with theirs. Against Celesteela I make sure to remove everything aside from Celesteela and then finish it with Groudon’s Fire Punch in the endgame. If I had no other choice I would try to annihilate it via Light That Burns the Sky under terrain.

Lunala + Kyogre / Groudon / Rayquaza
ArchetypeAlways bringNever bringCommon leads


A rather advantageous matchup. The goal is to shut them down with Umbreon. Necrozma must be brought in order to deal with the slots other than Lunala and even when facing Lunala, it can still KO it with EP + Foul Play. 

Xerneas+ Lunala
ArchetypeAlways bringNever bringCommon leads


A slightly unfavorable matchup. Umbreon will be unnecessary as Xerneas can just sweep through it after it sets up Geomancy. To play around this matchup, lead Kang/Necro and allow Necro to do its job while Faking out Luna with Kang. If they lead a Fake Out user + Lunala, switch whatever is next to Kang into Lele and aim to flinch your opponents with Bite. 

salamence-mega Closing Words

Becoming the World Champion has been my dream ever since I began Pokémon and I was one step away from becoming one. But I’m still proud that I was able to battle in the grand finals stage. All I can say is that Penguin, aka Naoto Mizobuchi was just better than me. This is the most disappointing loss I’ve experienced but have no regrets. 

Thank you to Hia who has hosted numerous BO3 tournaments prior to Worlds, and many senior players and others who have engaged in friendlies with me. 

I would like to especially thank the 2017 World Champion Barudoru for always giving me accurate team advice. Now I have the Day 1 invite to the next World Championships since I’ve placed top 4 and above at Worlds. So next year, I will try my best to become the World Champion!

*I always try to write a war story but when looking back at my notes I’ve only written my opponent’s team and couldn’t remember what happened so there will be no war story this time too! Sorry!

Umbreon art by Dekunobou Kizakura

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