Hey everyone! I’m Leonardo Bonanomi, a VGC player from Italy, and I’m here to present to you the team I used to reach second place at Players Cup III.
Two weeks before Players Cup III, Davide Carrer (Nirinbo), Francesco Pero (CICCIOTT), Emanuele Ciliberto (Asuya) and I were looking for a team to play in the tournament and in the upcoming events. I was using the Kyogre + Dragapult team by Taran Birdee. I was very confident with that, but I had some issues against sun teams and I was not sure about how good the match-up against Zacian + Coalossal teams was.
After the VR Circuit: Winter Series Qualifier #4, Davide was interested in the sun team by José Rodríguez (R4GN4R96), who finished Top 4 with an outstanding 8-0 in swiss.
At first, the team felt very good. It was versatile, you could approach the various match-ups in different ways and the combination of Umbreon, Grimmsnarl, Groudon and Venusaur was very solid.
Umbreon in particular was a very good Pokémon in that team: Yawn, Foul Play and Snarl helped against annoying Pokémon like Dragapult, Thundurus, Landorus (Therian) and Ice Rider/Shadow Rider Calyrex.
In the following days, the testing was going well. We had like 6 alts in top 30 on the Pokémon Showdown ladder, but we noticed some things:
Weakness Policy Venusaur was good with Grimmsnarl’s screens, but without Sleep Powder it could have been less threatening, especially in open teamsheet format. Sleep Powder gave us another way to approach some match-ups. We didn’t want to abuse it, but it was still a viable option that could win you games. Weakness Policy became less useful and we changed it with Coba Berry at first and then with Focus Sash in the final version of the team.
Pinch Berry Groudon was good, but Sitrus Berry was better. You can set up a Swords Dance, take some chip damage, restore a good amount of health and Dynamax it the next turn.
Grimmsnarl is a story of hate and love every time I play it. Everyone knows what Grimmsnarl does, it is very helpful for the team, but sometimes it is too passive or it is knocked out turn 1, making you play with 3 Pokémon the entire game. With no Intimidate, we always faced Zacian at +1 Atk, and Grimmsnarl without Thunder Wave was not good against it. I also have a personal opinion about Grimmsnarl: when I play it, I feel like I’m lazier with gameplans. Very often during testing I thought: “Ok, that can be a difficult match-up, let’s lead Grimmsnarl + 3 good Pokémon, I will try to set up the screens and let’s see what will happen”, when probably there would have been a better gameplan… but at the same time we couldn’t play without it. After these considerations, we played Grimmsnarl until a few days before the Players Cup III and replaced it with Incineroar.
While Asuya was talking with his NPA teammate Sohaib Mufti (Sohaib), he told us that he was playing the same team but he played it in a different way: he played more with Charizard to put pressure in early game with G-Max Wildfire residual damage to chip the opponent’s Pokémon and let Groudon or Regieleki clean in late game, or used Gigantamax Charizard itself to sweep after the opposing Dynamax ended.
Get the team’s paste here!
Charizard-Gmax @ Life Orb
Ability: Solar Power
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Blast Burn
– Heat Wave
Charizard is one of the best Pokémon in Series 8. Its firepower under the sun is incredible, it puts a lot of pressure and you can play it in different ways. You can Gigantamax it, fire off a boosted G-Max Wildfire and set up the dot, you can put pressure with Heat Wave spam or trade it after blowing up an opposing Pokémon with a boosted 150 BP Blast Burn.
The set is standard, we preferred Hurricane over Air Slash for 140 BP Max Airstream, which increases the chances of OHKOing Incineroar.
Venusaur-Gmax (F) @ Focus Sash (Francesco used Coba Berry in RQ)
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature (Modest in RQ)
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sleep Powder
– Leaf Storm (Frenzy Plant in RQ)
– Earth Power (Sludge Bomb in RQ)
– Weather Ball
Standard Venusaur set. We used Modest Venusaur in the Regional Qualifiers because we wanted a good damage output with Weather Ball against opposing bulky Coba Berry Venusaur and we liked to have 50% of OHKOing max HP Zacian with Max Flare.
In the Regional Qualifiers, Francesco faced the Coalossal team of Roberto Porretti (Raider) in Winners R7 and we noticed that the match-up was hard, with quite a few 50/50 situations. We rarely used Sludge Bomb, so we replaced it with Earth Power because it allowed us to play that match-up in a different way.
After the Regional Qualifiers we refined our gameplans and changed the nature to Timid in order to outspeed Thundurus after a Max Airstream.
252 SpA Venusaur-Gmax Max Quake vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Dynamax Coalossal-Gmax: 272-324 (73.1 – 87%) — guaranteed 2HKO
(Guaranteed KO after self-Surf or self-Aqua Jet, or after self-Surf or self-Aqua Jet in sun plus G-Max Vine Lash effect)
Groudon @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 228 HP / 156 Atk / 124 Spe (244 HP / 156 Atk / 108 Spe in RQ)
– Precipice Blades
– Rock Slide
– Swords Dance
At first I was not sure about Groudon, it can miss crucial Precipice Blades and in a double-elimination tournament a decisive miss can cost you the entire run, and I didn’t want to play Wide Lens on it. After trying it, I changed my mind. It is the best sun setter in the format and a very good Pokémon to clean the game when everything goes into KO range after my Dynamax ends.
It is also a good Dynamax after a Swords Dance setup and the Rock-type move helps against some annoying Pokémon such as Thundurus, Ho-Oh and Yveltal. As I mentioned before, I think Sitrus Berry is the best item on Groudon. You can set up a Swords Dance, get some chip damage, restore a good amount of health and then Dynamax it the next turn.
156+ EVs on Atk gains the nature bonus point, 124 EVs on Speed is for speedcreeping other Groudon and mid-speed Kyogre outside of Trick Room, and it also outspeeds Cinderace at +1 in Speed. The rest was put in HP.
156+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Zacian-Crowned: 156-186 (78.3 – 93.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
(62.5% chance to OHKO after G-Max Wildfire or G-Max Vine Lash damage)
+1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Helping Hand Behemoth Blade vs. 228 HP / 0 Def Dynamax Groudon: 354-416 (86.7 – 101.9%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 228 HP / 0 Def Groudon: 79-94 (38.7 – 46%) — guaranteed 3HKO
252 SpA Life Orb Solar Power Charizard-Gmax G-Max Wildfire vs. 228 HP / 0 SpD Dynamax Groudon in Sun: 337-398 (82.5 – 97.5%)
Umbreon (F) @ Leftovers
Ability: Inner Focus
EVs: 252 HP / 164 Def / 4 SpA / 84 SpD / 4 Spe
– Foul Play
Umbreon is very good in sun teams. The combination of Yawn, Snarl and Foul Play helps dealing with Pokémon that are usually used to counter Venusaur and Charizard like Dragapult, Thundurus, Landorus, Heat Rotom and the Calyrex duo. Leftovers and Moonlight are good to keep Umbreon healthy. Moonlight is also good with Groudon’s sun.
252 HP 164+ Def makes sure Umbreon survives a Max Hailstrom from Ice Rider Calyrex at +1 Atk, which is important in that match-up. The rest was put in Special Defense, aside from a few leftover EVs in Special Attack and Speed.
0- Atk Umbreon Foul Play vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Calyrex-Shadow: 204-244 (116.5 – 139.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 Atk Umbreon Foul Play vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Dynamax Dragapult: 194-230 (59.5 – 70.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Urshifu Close Combat vs. 252 HP / 164+ Def Umbreon: 150-176 (74.2 – 87.1%)
+1 252+ Atk Calyrex-Ice Max Hailstorm vs. 252 HP / 164+ Def Umbreon: 169-201 (83.6 – 99.5%)
252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 252 HP / 164+ Def Umbreon: 90-108 (44.5 – 53.4%) — 1.2% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
252 SpA Venusaur-Gmax G-Max Vine Lash vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Umbreon: 76-90 (37.6 – 44.5%) — guaranteed 3HKO after Leftovers recovery and Vine Lash damage
252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Umbreon in Rain: 157-186 (77.7 – 92%)
The combination of 252 Atk Thundurus Max Knuckle vs. 252 HP / 164+ Def Umbreon: 74-88 (36.6 – 43.5%) and +1 252 Atk Thundurus Max Lightning vs. 252 HP / 164+ Def Umbreon: 111-132 (54.9 – 65.3%) with Leftovers recovery has approximately 30% to OHKO.
Regieleki @ Magnet (Francesco used Focus Sash in RQ)
EVs: 28 HP / 100 Def / 124 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe (252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe in RQ)
IVs: 0 Atk
– Volt Switch
Focus Sash was a good item on Regieleki, but I think Venusaur needs it more. Magnet increases the damage output, which is very useful during Dynamax.
The EV spread was changed before the final stage to survive Zacian, which is particularly useful against some teams that are playing it alongside Thundurus.
124 SpA Magnet Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Gigantamax Charizard-Gmax: 342-404 (111 – 131.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
+1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 28 HP / 100 Def Regieleki: 113-133 (71 – 83.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
+1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 28 HP / 100 Def Regieleki: 136-160 (85.5 – 100.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Close Combat vs. 28 HP / 100 Def Regieleki: 121-143 (76.1 – 89.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 SpA Life Orb Charizard-Gmax Max Quake vs. 28 HP / 4 SpD Dynamax Regieleki: 265-315 (83.3 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Incineroar @ Assault Vest
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Atk / 68 Def / 100 SpD / 100 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
– Fake Out
The last member added to the team.
Sitrus Berry was already occupied and the meta is full of special attackers, so I preferred the Assault Vest to tank better when I switch it in.
236 HP 68 Def survives Zacian’s Close Combat after Intimidate. Careful nature and 100 EVs in SpD survives Helping Hand Life Orb Max Quake from Shadow Rider Calyrex. 100 Speed EVs for speedcreeping other Incineroar, which usually hit 91 or 92 Speed. (If you move 8 EVs from Speed to HP, the 6.3% roll becomes a guaranteed survival, but we preferred to take that risk and speedcreep other Incineroar.)
Moveset is standard, I prefer Darkest Lariat to deal more damage in general. Another option was Assurance, since its base power also doubles when the target takes Life Orb recoil damage; pretty useful against Dragapult.
252 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Helping Hand Max Quake vs. 236 HP / 100+ SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 174-205 (87 – 102.5%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Close Combat vs. 236 HP / 68 Def Incineroar: 170-200 (85 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
156+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 236 HP / 68 Def Incineroar: 176-210 (88 – 105%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Magnet Transistor Regieleki Thunderbolt vs. 236 HP / 100+ SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 69-82 (34.5 – 41%) — guaranteed 3HKO
-1 252+ Atk Life Orb Calyrex-Ice Max Quake vs. 236 HP / 68 Def Incineroar: 169-200 (84.5 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
|With this selection you can choose how to play based on your opponent’s lead. You can switch out Umbreon for Groudon and blow something up with G-Max Wildfire or you can play it safer, switching out Charizard for Incineroar and spam Yawn on the opposing Pokémon to put yourself in a good position, Dynamaxing later.|
You can also lead Umbreon + Incineroar and do the same thing with U-turn and Yawn, but this lead puts less pressure on the opponent. It is a good lead against bulky teams with Grimmsnarl, Heat Rotom and Zacian.
|Just like the previous lead, you can spam sleep with Yawn and/or Sleep Powder to set the field for a late-game Dynamax or play aggressively, Gigantamaxing Venusaur and setting up the G-Max Vine Lash. If the opponent’s team is weak to Umbreon, you can boost its Special Defense with Max Quake and start spamming Yawn or Snarl.|
|This lead puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. You can switch out Charizard for Groudon and click Sleep Powder or switch out Venusaur and fire off Heat Wave/Blast Burn or G-Max Wildfire with Charizard. You can choose how to play the entire match-up depending on your opponent’s lead.|
Mimikyu + Calyrex teams
They usually lead Mimikyu + Incineroar with Tapu Fini and Ice Rider Calyrex in the back. In turn 1 you Fake Out their Incineroar and spam Heat Wave to break Mimikyu’s Disguise. The next turn they usually Parting Shot Charizard’s slot and switch in Tapu Fini; you can U-turn with your Incineroar, switch in Groudon or Umbreon and spam another Heat Wave to deal chip damage on Mimikyu (Mimikyu is usually a specially defensive set) and Tapu Fini; then only 2 more turns of Trick Room are left. Now you need to stall the remaining 2 turns with Protect, Snarl or an Incineroar switch and then Gigantamax Charizard under sun or Dynamax Groudon to finish the game.
In general, pay attention to Calyrex and Tapu Fini. When Calyrex is on the field, you need Incineroar in the back for the Intimidate; pay attention to it because it can sweep you when it goes at +2 with Weakness Policy.
Tapu Fini can be hard to deal with because you have 4 Pokémon that can potentially lose to it. If they set up the rain with Max Geyser, Calyrex can become a potential threat too. Tapu Fini will usually be the last Pokémon on the field. You need to chip it with G-Max Wildfire damage and then close the game with Precipice Blades, stall it with Snarl or KO it with Max Quake if you are in a good position to Dynamax Groudon.
When the fillers are Regieleki and Urshifu, you can lead Groudon + Incineroar with Charizard and Umbreon in the back and try to spam chip damage with Precipice Blades.
“LapDog” teams are decreasing in usage in this moment of the meta, but it’s still a match-up to prepare. The team members and items can be different and you can play the match-up accordingly. If they don’t have a check to Sleep Powder, they usually lead Landorus or Thundurus and Incineroar; that lead can be checked with Charizard, you can trade Gigantamax Charizard on their AV Landorus or Thundurus and then let Groudon, Venusaur and Incineroar in the back clean the game.
If they have Lum Berry or Safety Goggles Landorus they can lead with it and Focus Sash Amoonguss, and spam Max Airstream and Spore if you lead passively. That situation can be tricky. You can spam Heat Wave with Charizard and switch in Incineroar on the Groudon slot. They will probably go for Max Rockfall on Charizard and Rage Powder or Spore in the other slot with Amoonguss, trading Amoonguss for Charizard and getting 50%-60% on Landorus, and you have a free switch for Venusaur. The next turn you can choose what to do depending on which Pokémon your opponent switches in the Amoonguss slot. You can switch out Incineroar to recycle the Intimidate and Max Guard with Venusaur to stall the opposing Dynamax, then set up G-Max Vine Lash and clean the game with Groudon and the residual damage if they brought Incineroar and Zacian in the back.
Zacian + sun teams
This team became very popular after Eric Rios (Riopaser) and Kevin Salvetto (Wilfire70) used it in VR Circuit: Winter Series Finals.
They usually lead Grimmsnarl + Landorus with Zacian and Charizard in the back, or Charizard + Landorus with Zacian and Venusaur in the back. That team has no way to deal with sleep. If they lead Grimmsnarl you can start spamming Yawn and Sleep Powder, trying to get in the position to Gigantamax Charizard and fire off a Max Airstream under sun. +1 Speed Charizard can be hard to deal with and it can easily clean the game in 3 turns.
If they lead Charizard, not all of them hold a Life Orb and they don’t usually bring Torkoal in the back, meaning that it won’t be able to knock-out your Gigantamax Charizard with Max Rockfall and even Umbreon can tank a G-Max Wildfire, and Yawn back the Charizard.
This match-up depends on the opponent’s sets, team composition —some teams may have a Flying-type like Landorus (Therian) to better deal with Groudon— and how the opponent approaches the game.
They usually lead Coalossal + Urshifu, with Zacian and Incineroar in the back. Turn 1 can be a 50/50: you can G-Max Vine Lash the Urshifu slot and Precipice Blades with Groudon. If they Protect Coalossal this move can win you the game Turn 1, but if they self-trigger with Aqua Jet and Max Flare on Groudon you trade Urshifu for Groudon, and the next turn they usually switch in their Incineroar and you switch in yours (which should be faster), Fake Out on the opposing Incineroar and Max Quake on Coalossal. If they Max Guard with Coalossal the next turn you Max Quake again the Coalossal slot and U-Turn with Incineroar for Charizard. If they ignore Venusaur and defeat Incineroar with G-Max Volcalith, you KO Coalossal and you have Venusaur and Charizard to clean the game. If they knock-out Venusaur with G-Max Volcalith and Flare Blitz, you can recycle the Intimidate and Fake Out for the next turn and finish the game with Charizard and Incineroar.
Charizard can be a good Gigantamax if the opponent plays the match-up more carefully. When Dragapult has a support set with Surf, Will-o-Wisp, Light Screen and Breaking Swipe, they usually lead Incineroar + Dragapult with Coalossal and Zacian in the back. In that case it will be a positioning game, and when you remove the only way to proc Weakness Policy on Coalossal you probably win the game with Groudon.
Charizard can be a good Gigantamax if the opponent’s Dragapult is Life Orb and plays the match-up more aggressively without Coalossal. Usually the lead to deal with Venusaur is Incineroar + Dragapult, with Fake Out and Max Airstream turn 1. You can trade Venusaur for a free Swords Dance with Groudon, then Gigantamax your Charizard and spam Max Airstream and Precipice Blades.
Sun mirror teams
|Sun mirrors are the most frustrating matchup: Sleep Powder, sleep turns, Charizard speed ties, Regieleki speed ties… I hate them. I usually lead Charizard + Venusaur, and depending on the opposing Pokémon sets, I adapt myself. In general I would find a good position to Gigantamax Charizard and spam as much damage as possible to clean in late game with Groudon or Venusaur.|
|Regieleki can be good against the opposing Charizard, but at the same time it can be bad against Venusaur + Groudon. I usually try this lead game 1 and swap with Incineroar game 2 if it didn’t work well.|
(When the fillers are Thundurus and Tapu Fini, and there is no Charizard)
Against more balanced sun teams without Charizard or when they have Life Orb Thundurus, you can use Umbreon to deal with it and Gigantamax Charizard, Groudon or Venusaur later depending on the situation.
Double weather teams
This match-up can be tricky, and Venusaur and Umbreon are crucial for it. You can start spamming Yawn or Snarl and get in the right position for Gigantamaxing Venusaur. Pay attention to win the weather war: when Kyogre is on the field you need Groudon in the back or Venusaur on the field; Mystic Water Kyogre can deal a lot of damage with Water Spout and put all your Pokémon in range of Urshifu.
The opposing Venusaur can be a threat too. You cannot trade it with yours, unless you have Regieleki in the back to deal with Kyogre; but at the same time it can easily sleep all your team members. You can hope that Sleep Powder misses or in suffering only few turns of sleep, and Yawn it with Umbreon or try to KO it with Incineroar.
Dragapult + Kyogre + Ferrothorn teams
Usually the opponent leads with Incineroar + Dragapult with Kyogre and Ferrothorn in the back. Ferrothorn against sun can sound awkward, but if you lose the weather war or don’t bring Charizard, Ferrothorn can easily set up Iron Defense and clean the game with Body Press and Leech Seed.
Umbreon can deal with Dragapult; you can Gigantamax Charizard and Venusaur depending on the situation. Except Dragapult and Regieleki, the rest of the team is usually slower than Venusaur, so Sleep Powder can be good to deal with opposing Dynamax Kyogre, if your Gigantamax goes wrong.
As always when you face Kyogre, you need to pay attention to the weather war, preserving Groudon and using it carefully.
|Our team doesn’t have speed control like Tailwind or Trick Room, so Tailwind plus hard-hitters like Urshifu, Life Orb Zapdos or Kyogre can be hard to deal with. You need to stall the opposing Tailwind or try to put to sleep the other Pokémon with Venusaur.|
|I didn’t consider this core in the match-up section of the report because there isn’t a standard team with Thundurus and Shadow Rider Calyrex. Sometimes this is an easy match-up, as Umbreon and Groudon can easily deal with both, but when they are paired with Landorus (Therian), Urshifu, Choice Specs Tapu Lele and Whimsicott or Weezing and Regigigas things can be difficult. As I said before, you usually try to stall the Tailwind or try to put to sleep the other Pokémon with Venusaur and Dynamax Groudon later.|
|Kyogre isn’t a real threat by itself, but every time you face it, you need to pay attention to your positioning in order to win the weather war. The only water resistance is Venusaur, and the teammates don’t like to get hit by Water Spout under rain.|
This match-up can be full of 50/50s. The opponent can lead with Thundurus + Zacian or Gothitelle + Kingdra with Politoed in the back. I usually lead Charizard + Regieleki with Groudon and Venusaur in the back and try to scout the turn 1 play with a double Protect. If they switch in Politoed, the next turn you can switch in Groudon and try to Dynamax Regieleki or Gigantamax Charizard.
If they lead Thundurus + Zacian, they usually Protect Zacian and try Max Airstream with Thundurus; you can Volt Switch with Regieleki, switch in Groudon and blow Thundurus up with G-Max Wildfire.
Global Finals summary
About my run and Grand Finals sets
I would like to say a few words about my run and my games in the Grand Finals.
With this team I qualified for the final stage with a score of 7-0 (14-1 in sets) in the Europe Regional Qualifier, and in the final stage I’ve reached the Grand Finals with a score of 4-0 (9-3 in sets). I am really proud of my run and glad to have achieved my first travel award and won a cool trophy.
At the same time I feel sad about my performance in the two best-of-fives in the Grand Finals, especially for the big misplay I made in G2 of the Grand Finals Reset. I don’t know what happened to me, I was probably tired because we played the whole tournament in one day. I probably lost some stamina after all these months without playing any tournament, I don’t know, but I would like to apologize for the poor show on my part.
With these words I absolutely don’t want to make the victory of Jonathan Evans (Ezrael) lose value, he played better and he totally deserves the win, congratulations!
Besides my individual mistakes, I think these 14 games were a really good showcase of our teams: we used all 6 of our Pokémons, we tried a lot of gameplans, some were good and others were less successful. In the end I think it was an interesting final to watch.
A huge shoutout to Davide Carrer (Nirinbo), Francesco Pero (CICCIOTT) (who finished in Top 8) and Emanuele Ciliberto (Asuya) for all the help in this 1 month of run, we are a great team!
Shoutout to Sohaib Mufti (Sohaib) for taking interest in the team and helping with the flowcharts.
Thanks to all the people who cheered for me.
If you need anything, just DM me on Twitter, I hope this report will be helpful.
Thank you very much for reading it!