The Lion and the Whale – A VR Series 12 Challenge Top 4 Team Report

Header image by DeviantArt user Inubiko.

Hi, everyone! I’m Gabriele Mocciaro, known online as Dalembertian. I started to play VGC with the arrival of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield in 2020. Today I will do the report of my VR Series 12 Challenge team and I will explain some things about it and my run that ended in top 4. I’m really happy with this result for a lot of reasons, first of all because I’m pretty new to this game and also because this tournament was huge in terms of participants number, with more than 500 players.

I have to thank some people before beginning, first of all Roberto Carbonara (Drake), that essentially gave me the team I played, and also all the XITractor family.

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

As I said before, I’m not the inventor of this archetype, but I tested a lot this team because in my opinion this could be the best choice for an early-meta tournament.

zacian-crownedkyogre

Before the tournament I was thinking that the VR Series 12 Challenge would be the first big tournament in Series 12, and playing daily in ladder I observed that the format was really “fluid”, but the Zacian + Kyogre pair was dominant. In general, Zacian was the Restricted Pokémon that I saw more in all my scouting on ladder. So I wanted to play something that was really good against the Zacian + Kyogre match-up but also good against various match-ups: a really balanced team.

In fact I was thinking that in an 8 or 9-Swiss-round tour I could find a lot of different Restricted pairs, maybe with a certain dominance of Zacian + something else.

solgaleo

My basic idea was to play Solgaleo. At the beginning I tried Solgaleo with the Weakness Policy as I had played it before, in Series 11, but I realized that it didn’t work well because, with double Restricted, you cannot endure sufficiently. Also, Yveltal was a big problem with Foul Play, and in my opinion there aren’t really good Pokémon to trigger your Weakness Policy. I was on the point to discard Solgaleo but then Roberto suggested me to play Solgaleo with an Assault Vest. I started to try his team and it worked so well that I decided to take it for the tournament.

solgaleokyogre

So the Restricted pair was Solgaleo + Kyogre: Kyogre is really good because it covers the Fire-type weakness of Solgaleo, and it is a good receiver for the defensive boosts that Solgaleo obtains with Max Quake and Max Steelspike, and in general I think that Kyogre is one of the best Restricted Pokémon you can use. So the Kyogre has a really bulky set, with Calm Mind to boost its firepower and Leftovers to maintain it on the field as long as possible.

solgaleokyogregrimmsnarl-gmaxincineroar

Grimmsnarl seems mandatory on this team, in fact I’m already playing a solid Restricted pair and with screens they become quite immortal. Then also Incineroar is mandatory for me in this format, because it is the best Intimidate user and it has Fake Out and Parting Shot.

solgaleokyogregrimmsnarl-gmaxincineroarlandorus-therian

Then in the team you can find Landorus, which with its Lum Berry is really good in the Sun match-up as it performs great against Venusaur, Groudon and also Zacian. To be honest, this slot is the most variable, in fact I used Landorus not so much in the tournament… so maybe you can find something better.

solgaleokyogregrimmsnarl-gmaxincineroarlandorus-therianzapdos

Zapdos instead is fundamental, because it is really good as a Dynamax option when you can’t Dynamax your Solgaleo, and is also good outside Dynamax: a lot of times, I brought it in the back and used it in late game. Zapdos is here to improve the Sun match-up and is also really good against the Zacian + Kyogre match-up. Zapdos performs well against Yveltal too, and that Pokémon is a serious threat for this team.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Solgaleo @ Assault Vest
Ability: Full Metal Body
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 180 Atk / 4 Def / 84 SpD / 28 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Sunsteel Strike
– Wild Charge
– Earthquake
– Psychic Fangs

The spread is quite simple. I chose the Adamant Nature to deal a lot of damage and the defensive stats are even for the boosts. The Attack EVs reach the Nature bump.

Offensive calcs

amoonguss 180+ Atk Solgaleo Max Mindstorm vs. 236 HP / 156+ Def Amoonguss: 240-284 (109.5 – 129.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

grimmsnarl 180+ Atk Solgaleo Max Steelspike vs. 212 HP / 76 Def Grimmsnarl through Reflect: 204-241 (103.5 – 122.3%) –guaranteed OHKO
mimikyu 180+ Atk Solgaleo Sunsteel Strike vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Mimikyu: 156-186 (96.2 – 114.8%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

kyogre

252 SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 212 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Dynamax Solgaleo in Rain: 127-150 (26.5 – 31.3%) — guaranteed 4HKO
252 SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 212 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Dynamax Solgaleo in Rain: 171-202 (35.7 – 42.2%) — guaranteed 3HKO

calyrex-shadow-rider

252 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 212 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Dynamax Solgaleo: 159-190 (33.2 – 39.7%) — 100% chance to 3HKO
252 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 212 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Dynamax Solgaleo through Light Screen: 106-127 (22.1 – 26.5%) — 18.4% chance to 4HKO

Kyogre @ Leftovers
Ability: Drizzle
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 188 Def / 36 SpA / 28 SpD / 12 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Origin Pulse
– Ice Beam
– Protect
– Calm Mind

This spread is really simple too: even defensive stats for the boosts, enough Speed to outspeed Calyrex after a Thunder Wave… I didn’t make many offensive calcs because with this set you don’t kill much instantly; you need some boost and also have to make chip damage on everything.

Offensive calcs

Incineroar 36+ SpA Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 236 HP / 156+ SpD Incineroar in Rain: 186-218 (93 – 109%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO

(This is the only important kill you have to take at +0, in my opinion. It is a favourable roll for you)

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Play Rough vs. 244 HP / 188 Def Kyogre through Reflect: 85-100 (41.2 – 48.5%) — guaranteed 3HKO after Leftovers recovery

regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 244 HP / 28 SpD Kyogre through Light Screen: 177-210 (85.9 – 101.9%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO

Rillaboom 252+ Atk Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 244 HP / 188 Def Kyogre in Grassy Terrain through Reflect: 100-117 (48.5 – 56.7%) — 3.1% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery and Grassy Terrain recovery

Zapdos @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Static
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Hurricane
– Detect
– Heat Wave

The spread is standard. I didn’t calculate a specific damage, I only need max Speed and damage.

Landorus-Therian (M) @ Lum Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 36 Atk / 28 Def / 108 SpD / 124 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– Fly
– Swords Dance

This spread endures a +1 Behemoth Blade with a favourable roll, and with a +1 on Speed you can outspeed some Zacian and Cinderace, even if the latter isn’t so popular. Maybe you can change the HP to for a guaranteed Behemoth Blade survival.

Offensive calcs

Zacian-crowned 36+ Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 204-240 (102.5 – 120.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned

+1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 212 HP / 28 Def Landorus-Therian: 165-195 (86.3 – 102%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO

+1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 212 HP / 28 Def Landorus-Therian: 163-193 (85.3 – 101%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Grimmsnarl-Gmax @ Light Clay
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 196 Def / 52 SpD / 12 Spe
Careful Nature
– Spirit Break
– Reflect
– Light Screen
– Thunder Wave

This spread is quite popular and I simply copied it. You can see below some defensive calcs.

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 244 HP / 196 Def Gigantamax Grimmsnarl through Reflect: 304-360 (75.6 – 89.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO (Zacian at neutral Attack)
kyogre 252 SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 244 HP / 52+ SpD Grimmsnarl in Rain through Light Screen: 137-162 (68.1 – 80.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Incineroar (M) @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Atk / 76 Def / 164 SpD / 28 Spe
Impish Nature
– Parting Shot
– Flare Blitz
– Snarl
– Fake Out

Incineroar is standard too, the only strange thing being Snarl over Darkest Lariat. Maybe I will change it to have a better response in mirror matches, but Snarl is good against Shadow Rider Calyrex + Follow Me or if it can use Substitute.

The match-ups

PokémonComments
Zacian-CrownedKyogre
Fundamentally this is a really good match-up if they don’t have Iron Defense Ferrothorn. In fact Solgaleo does a really great job against this kind of team. I suggest to lead with Solgaleo + Grimmsnarl with Zapdos and Kyogre in the back. If they lead with Kyogre + Grimmsnarl, you are free to set up your Light Screen and kill their Grimmsnarl with Max Steelspike, then on the following turn you can switch in your Kyogre for Grimmsnarl and start taking boosts. If they lead with Zacian instead, it is better in my opinion to switch immediately your Grimmsnarl into Kyogre as Grimmnsarl becomes fundamental in the end-game with Thunder Wave.
If your opponent has Ferrothorn everything changes. The match-up is not so easy, and the best way to deal with it is to create the condition in which your Zapdos can use Heat Wave on Ferrothorn. In this case I suggest to lead with Kyogre + Solgaleo with Incineroar and Zapdos in the back.
Zacian-Crownedgroudon
This match-up is quite simple in my opinion. You have a lot of answers to Sun and the best way to deal with this match-up is to lead with Zapdos + Grimmsnarl with Landorus and Kyogre in the back. If you manage to make the correct switch-in during the very first turn, then Kyogre can kill everybody in late game.
calyrex-ice-riderkyogre
In this match-up Mimikyu’s item is really important. If it holds a Babiri Berry, it could be a problem because you can’t stop Trick Room, basically. If it doesn’t hold it, you can try to kill Mimikyu with Sunsteel Strike, which completely ignores its Disguise. You have to be aware of Mimikyu’s Will-o-Wisp, but you can deal with it sometimes by using self-Thunder Wave with your Grimmsnarl.
In my opinion, the best comp against this match-up is Grimmsnarl + Solgaleo with Kyogre and Incineroar in the back.
yveltalgroudon
This is a tough match-up because Solgaleo is not so good against Groudon and Yveltal. My take against this archetype is that you have to deal with Yveltal with your Zapdos, and then you can freely use your Kyogre to beat the Sun core. So, the best four are Grimmsnarl + Incineroar or Landorus with Zapdos and Kyogre in the back. This match-up is not so common, but can always be difficult.

Tournament run

Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 R1LWWJPN
Hiromichi Kozaki
(コトバフブキ)
calyrex-shadow-ridergroudoncharizardvenusaurwhimsicottmamoswine
Commentary

I was pretty scared when I saw their Poképaste because they were playing a really strange set. I thought a lot in team preview because I honestly didn’t know what to do. In G1 I lost due to a risky switch-in that I made, in fact I lost my Zapdos on a G-Max Wildfire and I couldn’t recover from that situation. In G2 and G3 I played super safe and I won with my Landorus because they didn’t bring Mamoswine.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 R2WLL

FRA
Matthieu Barbe
(PE | Gabu)

yveltalgroudonincineroarvenusaurporygon2grimmsnarl
Commentary

This was a really hard match-up also due to the presence of Porygon2, in fact I can’t deal a lot of damage on it. In G1 I managed to damage Porygon2 a lot in the early game, and so I won pretty easily. In G2 my opponent played better their Porygon2 and I couldn’t do so much. In G3 I was really unlucky because in the end-game I missed two fundamental Rock Slides.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 R3WW

ITA
Marco Matteini
(Ruru)

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroaramoongusszapdosgrimmsnarl
Commentary

Well, this round was particular because my opponent couldn’t continue playing due to personal reasons, so he decided to concede the win to me.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 R4WW

ESP
Juan D. Castañeda
(JD)

zacian-crownedpalkiaincineroaramoongussthundurusgrimmsnarl
Commentary

The match was quite simple because it was a really standard team. He didn’t have Sacred Sword on his Zacian, which is really good for my team because it cannot ignore my boosts, and he also didn’t have Thunder Wave, which can always be a problem. Solgaleo dominated this best-of-3, I won quite easily.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 R5LWLJPN
Masahide Tamaki
(ソード)
solgaleokyogrepheromosarillaboomporygon2salamence
Commentary

When I saw my opponent’s team, I was pretty scared because Coaching Pheromosa was a huge threat in this match-up, as they could get more boosts on their Solgaleo and also had Porygon2, which is a great problem. In G1 I tried to boost my Pokémon with the usual plan, but they got it under control because they did the same thing plus the Attack boosts on their Solgaleo, and I couldn’t do anything. In G2 I tried to change the plan: I led with Zapdos + Incineroar to remove their Pheromosa as fast as possible. This plan worked and I managed to win G2. In G3 I tried the same strategy, but in the end game I missed two crucial Origin Pulses.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 R6WWHKG
Che Kin Tong
(Kemton)
zacian-crownedkyogregothitelletsareenatornadusseismitoad
Commentary

My opponent didn’t come to play, so I got an activity win.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
R7WLW

SWE
Pontus Westerlund
(Pontus)

zacian-crownedpalkiaincineroaramoongussregielekicharizard
Commentary

The match I think was on my favour, because only Charizad could do enough damage on my Solgaleo but I had Kyogre, so bringing Charizard was not simple. In fact, my opponent didn’t bring it. In G1 I won quite easily with my Solgaleo. In G2 I lost because I made a suboptimal play in mid-game and it cost me the game. In G3 i played super safe, took the defensive boosts and I won.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
R8WW

JPN
Toya Imazu
(Rosenkreutz)

zacian-crownedyveltalincineroarrillaboomdragonitecoalossal
Commentary

This was the first Coalossal that I faced in Series 12. I thought that Solgaleo + Grimmsnarl with Kyogre could do a great work… and they did. In G1 I eliminated Coalossal on the first turn with Max Quake and I won easily because my opponent didn’t bring Zacian. In G2 my opponent decided not to bring Coalossal, but still my Solgaleo was huge.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
R9WW

ESP
Juan M. Odriozola
(Juanma)

zacian-crownedkyogregrimmsnarlvenusaurthunduruslandorus-therian
Commentary

This match was the win-and-in, so this was the most important match of the day. I already knew my opponent because I faced him in another tournament and I knew that he is really good. I had prepared this match-up as you could see in the previous section of the report, so I did as planned. In G1, everything went the right way and I won easily. In G2 my opponent took better decisions in mid-game, but in end-game I was really lucky to crit his Dynamax Thundurus and then avoid an Origin Pulse.

Top cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
T64WW

ITA
Francesco Deiana
(Francis)

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarrillaboomthundurusgrimmsnarl
Commentary

You can watch the entire match on the following link at Victory Road’s Twitch channel! I can add only few things, the match-up was the same as the last round, so I know how to deal with it. The fact that his Grimmsnarl didn’t have Thunder Wave gave me a big advantage.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 T32WW

ITA
Francesco Iozzia
(Nova)

zacian-crownedrayquazaincineroaramoongussregielekigastrodon
Commentary

This match was particular, because Nova recently entered the XITractor group with which I stream and test my teams. Nova’s team was really original and I hadn’t prepared a plan for it. So I decided to take Solgaleo + Grimmsnarl with Landorus and Zapdos in the back. He had some problems to deal with my Assault Vest Solgaleo, and in the early game I gained a discrete advantage. The turning point of the match is represented by a turn in which I took an important Rock Slide flinch on his Amoonguss and let me win it. In G2 he tried to stall my Dynamax by leading Amoonguss + Gastrodon, obviously I didn’t Dynamax instantly and we begun to play a grind game; the turning point came when I used Spirit Break on a Rayquaza switch-in, I made a lot of damage and my advantage was clear. Then in the end-game some hax happened, he burned my Solgaleo with Scald and I took a full paralysis on his Zacian. Honestly, I think that G2 looked really good for him till I used Spirit Break on Rayquaza. So I also won G2 and I advanced to the next round.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 T16LWWITA
Gaetano Di Trapani
(BroskokGae)
zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarferrothornzapdosgrimmsnarl
Commentary

This match-up, as I stated on the previous section, was really difficult due to the presence of Ferrothorn, and also Assault Vest Kyogre was problematic. This kind of match is generally really long and often something happens when the match becomes long. This best-of-3 was the perfect representation. The key of this match-up was to damage all his team except for Ferrothorn, and in the end-game use Zapdos with Heat Wave. Sadly in G1, after a lot of turns, my Solgaleo took a critical hit from his Kyogre and so I couldn’t deal enough damage on his Kyogre with Wild Charge: my plan didn’t work. In G2 i decided to bring Incineroar instead of Grimmsnarl to have another option against Ferrothorn; actually this didn’t work much and my opponent was really close to win the game, but my Incineroar made a critical hit on his Ferrothorn and I won G2. In G3 I decided to bring Incineroar another time because it seemed better than Grimmsnarl. The game was really long and I can’t explain each turn, but the turning point I think was the turn in which my opponent decided not to set the rain again and my Zapdos managed to use Heat Wave on his Ferrothorn. This guaranteed me the win, even if the very last turn I made a mistake Protecting my Kyogre that could have cost me the entire best-of-3.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
 T8WLW

ESP
Jorge Tabuyo
(Tabu_24)

zacian-crownedyveltalincineroarvenusaurregielekigrimmsnarl
Commentary

I was facing a really good player. I already knew Tabu because I played against him in some Desafío Latam 2 qualifier, and I knew he was really good. The match-up was quite difficult because Yveltal and Life Orb Regieleki were really annoying.

In G1 I decided not to bring Solgaleo. My plan was to Dynamax Kyogre in the late game. Basically I led with Incineroar + Grimmsnarl with Zapdos and Kyogre in the back. The game was quite long because we made a lot of repositioning, but in the end-game my Kyogre managed to win with the Dynamax also because I think he didn’t exploit his Regieleki in the best way.

In G2 I tried to go for the same plan, but Tabu played better than me and this time he won using his Dynamax Regieleki in the right moment.

For G3 I decided to bring my Solgaleo. I was thinking that after I made some damage on his Yveltal with my Zapdos I could win with Solgaleo. A lot of things happened in this game, I haxed my opponent a lot and the game was completely ruined by a series of crits and paralyses. I’m not happy for how the victory came because, as I said, the game was completely ruined by luck, and I also didn’t play well because while I was streaming a lot of people came to my chat and started to insult me for my luck, and so I lost control of the game. I was sad after this win and after I saw the behaviour of some people. This is a game, there is no need to insult someone because he is lucky in a certain situation.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamPaste
T4LWL

ESP
Jesús Jiménez
(Susej)

zacian-crownedpalkiaincineroaramoongussthundurusgrimmsnarl
Commentary

You can find the entire best-of-3 on the link below at Victory Road’s YouTube channel. I will add some comments: in G1 the two Heat Wave misses were crucial, but what can I say? I was lucky till this point, so some bad percentage can happen. In G2 I think I played better than G1 and I easily won 4-0 taking a big advantage from the first turn. In G3 my opponent played better than me, especially in the late game in which I didn’t play at the level required.

Conclusion

So we arrive to the end! I want to thank again all the people that supported me during the tournament and all the XITractor! I also want to thank Victory Road for the fantastic organization.

See you soon in other tournaments!

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