Zacian & Kyogre! – A Salt Lake City Regionals Top 16 Team Report

Hello! My name is Jourdan Bul-lalayao (or Professor Ragna, as you may know me online) and I’m a variety streamer on Twitch, where I stream not only Pokémon (VGC, shiny hunting, story playthroughs, etc), but also fighting games and JRPGs. I began playing VGC in 2020 with this Sword & Shield generation, and just finished 9th (Top 16, 6-2 overall) at the recent Salt Lake City Regionals.

I’ll be sharing a general report on the team I used at Salt Lake City. I hope you enjoy and find it valuable when using, or learning how to play against, a similar team. After all, Zacian + Kyogre is currently one of the more consistent Restricted duos in the format.

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

In the beginning of Series 12, I was originally using a YZ team (Yveltal + Zacian, thanks Philip Wesley (Phil) for teaching me the nickname) and had terrific results with it in the first two Victory Road tournaments (January and February). However, in the February tournament, I was knocked out of Swiss with a super offensive Zacian + Kyogre team with Raichu that I had no good gameplan for.

zacian-crownedkyogreraichuincineroarrillaboom-gmaxlandorus-therian

Following that tournament, I felt that my YZ team was no longer a good call to use against the current meta, especially if I had no way of countering Kyogre that had Raichu next to it.

After testing the same Swordfish (Zacian + Kyogre) team for a couple weeks and using it in the USPA playoffs and March International Challenge, I realized how powerful and consistent the team was against the meta at the time. However, in a highly competitive best-of-3 competition (such as the Salt Lake City Regionals), I felt the current team didn’t have enough tools for a best-of-3 set and needed to be adjusted.

I adjusted some movesets and EVs to my liking. But in terms of the Pokémon slots themselves, I first removed Raichu. While the support via Helping Hand, Nuzzle and Lightning Rod was extremely nice, especially in a best-of-1, I didn’t believe that it was enough to play effectively in a tough best-of-3 match. I decided to replace it with Grimmsnarl, whom I’m very familiar with using. Not only did it give me fantastic defensive tools to withstand nearly any archetype (surprise ones that I hadn’t previously planned against, especially), but also I could still paralyze other Pokémon the same way Raichu’s Nuzzle did, via Thunder Wave.

zacian-crownedkyogregrimmsnarlincineroarrillaboom-gmaxlandorus-therian

Rillaboom was the other Pokémon I removed, but for good reason. In a meta that was swiftly introducing a Trick Room archetype of Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia with Mimikyu and Amoonguss, I felt that there had to be a better alternative in the event that my other 5 Pokémon weren’t enough, because it was very difficult to bring Rillaboom for Palkia in an Ice Rider Calyrex match-up. This is why Ferrothorn came in. After seeing it succeed at the Brisbane Regionals (piloted by the winner Henry Rich (Hobbit), although I didn’t know what the Ferrothorn set was), I was immediately convinced that Ferrothorn was a great Pokémon for the current meta if piloted on the correct team.

zacian-crownedkyogregrimmsnarlincineroarferrothornlandorus-therian

And so, these would become the six Pokémon that would help me finish in 9th place at Salt Lake City. The adjustments from the original Swordfish team that were made prior to Salt Lake City were definitely worth it!

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Zacian-Crowned @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
EVs: 164 HP / 76 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Behemoth Blade
– Sacred Sword
– Substitute
– Protect

This is a variant of a classic bulky Adamant Zacian set, as many of them run 76 Atk, 4 Def and 12 SpD. However, EVs were reduced from HP and poured into Speed to make it max Speed Adamant.

I did a lot of research on VGCPastes the prior weeks before Salt Lake City, and I learned that most Zacian run anywhere between 140 and 212 Speed EVs. While I could have speed-crept the faster Zacian by running 220 or 228 Speed EVs, I wanted to be one or two steps ahead by investing 252 Speed EVs in order to outspeed (or speed-tie) all Adamant Zacian and account for the trainers that wanted to speed-creep the 212 Spe Zacian. And it worked, since I outsped every Zacian except for one (which was an Imprison set, thus probably a Jolly Nature)!

In regards to the moveset, triple attack Zacian is a very common set (Behemoth Blade, Sacred Sword, Play Rough), however I really valued the flexibility of Substitute. Substitute gives the team a great Trick Room match-up as it stalls 1 or 2 turns of Trick Room and helps avoid Spore from Amoonguss and Will-o-Wisp from Mimikyu. It also prevents cycles of Intimidate (as well as Fake Out) and is a good defensive tool to stall out Dynamax turns. Sacred Sword was the 2nd move of choice in order to account for a potential rise in Ferrothorn, as well as other Iron Defense users.

Offensive calcs

Incineroar +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 76 Def Incineroar: 186-220 (92.5 – 109.4%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO

Dialga +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Dialga: 158-188 (77 – 91.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Regieleki +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Regieleki: 159-188 (101.9 – 120.5%) — guaranteed OHKO

Groudon +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Groudon: 117-138 (56.5 – 66.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Landorus-therian +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 92 HP / 4 Def Landorus-Therian: 168-198 (95.4 – 112.5%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO

Rillaboom +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 132 HP / 60 Def Rillaboom: 159-187 (82.8 – 97.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

Groudon 156+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 164 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 156-186 (82.9 – 98.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Kyogre 252 SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 164 HP / 12 SpD Zacian-Crowned in Rain: 168-198 (89.3 – 105.3%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO

Landorus-therian 188 Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 164 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned through Reflect: 136-161 (72.3 – 85.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 164 HP / 12 SpD Zacian-Crowned in Electric Terrain through Light Screen: 148-175 (78.7 – 93%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Zacian-crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 164 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 136-162 (72.3 – 86.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Kyogre @ Life Orb
Ability: Drizzle
EVs: 92 HP / 68 Def / 92 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Hyper Beam
– Blizzard
– Protect

This entire set was a variant of what I lost to in the VR February S12 Challenge, except with adjusted bulk and SpA. This is one of the primary Dynamax options on the team, as it not only hits extremely hard, but also lives through many hits behind screens, helps reset weather and serves as an additional tool to claim speed control for itself and its ally Pokémon (which is great for opposing Jolly Zacian, Shadow Rider Calyrex or Timid Kyogre). After -1, all opposing Adamant Zacian underspeed Kyogre by 9 points.

Against archetypes that have heavy-hitting special Pokémon like Shadow Rider Calyrex + Palkia, or against Solgaleo, Sun or Trick Room, a Kyogre Dynamax is usually a good idea.

The SpA investment ensures that Life Orb Seismitoad + Life Orb Zapdos are OHKO’d in the rain by Max Geyser, which should give the team a good advantage on the first Dynamax turn. If the opposing team also isn’t prepared for a Kyogre match-up, you may find opportunities for simple Fake Out (or Max Airstream) + Water Spout turn 1s that immediately set up your win-con.

Notable speed tiers:

  • Outspeeds all Adamant Zacian (or all Pokémon that have a 213 Speed stat) after -1 from Max Strike
  • DOES NOT outspeed Timid 252 Speed Shadow Rider Calyrex after -1 from Max Strike
Offensive calcs

Gastrodon 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Strike vs. 180 HP / 12 SpD Gastrodon: 140-166 (66.9 – 79.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

Zacian-crowned 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 220 HP / 12 SpD Zacian-Crowned in Rain: 179-212 (91.7 – 108.7%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO

Amoonguss 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Hailstorm vs. 244 HP / 76+ SpD Amoonguss: 226-268 (102.7 – 121.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

Rillaboom 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Hailstorm vs. 132 HP / 188 SpD Assault Vest Rillaboom: 161-192 (83.8 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

groudon 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Groudon in Sun: 148-174 (71.4 – 84%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Seismitoad 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Dynamax Seismitoad in Rain: 347-409 (95.8 – 112.9%) — 75% chance to OHKO

Zapdos 92+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Dynamax Zapdos in Rain: 302-356 (90.9 – 107.2%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

Zacian-crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 92 HP / 68 Def Dynamax Kyogre: 156-186 (41.7 – 49.7%) — guaranteed 3HKO

rillaboom 116+ Atk Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 92 HP / 68 Def Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 152-182 (81.2 – 97.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 92 HP / 4 SpD Dynamax Kyogre in Electric Terrain through Light Screen: 251-298 (67.1 – 79.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Incineroar @ Shuca Berry
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 76 Def / 76 SpD / 108 Spe
Careful Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Fake Out
– Throat Chop
– Parting Shot

Incineroar plays the classic support role of mitigating major physical + special threats and helping to set up screens early on via Fake Out next to Grimmsnarl. I’ve been iterating on this Incineroar set for several formats now, as the initial spread dates back all the way from when Incineroar was introduced into the game. The special stat to highlight here is the Speed, as it’s meant to speed-creep most other fast Incineroar. When researching on VGCPastes, I learned that most Incineroar tend to be on the slower side, however some of the fast ones go upwards of 92 EVs.

The faster Fake Out becomes valuable in many scenarios, such as when screens are needed early in the game, or when you need to Fake Out a major offensive threat before their Incineroar Fakes you Out first. Other than the faster Fake Out, the speed allows it to Throat Chop other Incineroar to prevent them from going for a crucial Parting Shot pivot. Inside of Trick Room, this Incineroar also gets Parting Shot off on the Pokémon that the opposing Incineroar pivots into. This Speed investment also outspeeds max Speed Amoonguss.

Originally the Incineroar was using a Sitrus Berry, but the decision to use a Shuca Berry was made primarily to account for specially-inclined Pokémon like Dialga or Kyurem that would otherwise OHKO it with Max Quake. While it does help with Groudon as well, Shuca usually allows Incineroar a turn to pivot out with Parting Shot (or absorb a Max Quake after Fake Out) into an offensive threat like Therian Landorus or Zacian. Be careful, however, around Max Quakes that are boosted by Helping Hand.

Knowing how and when to pivot Incineroar is absolutely crucial to the success of this team. If a major offensive threat like Rillaboom, Zacian, Groudon, or Therian Landorus are in the back while this Incineroar is on the board, it’s usually a good idea to find ways to pivot via Parting Shot or a hard switch out.

Notable speed tiers:

  • Outspeeds Adamant 152 Speed Zacian (or all Pokémon that have a 187 Speed stat) when paralyzed or at +2 from Max Airstream.
  • Outspeeds all Pokémon that have a 140 Speed stat after +1 from Max Airstream.
Offensive calcs

Regieleki 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Regieleki: 132-156 (84.6 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Zacian-crowned 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 220 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 134-162 (68.7 – 83%) — guaranteed 2HKO

rillaboom 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 132 HP / 60 Def Rillaboom: 156-186 (81.2 – 96.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Amoonguss 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 244 HP / 188 Def Amoonguss: 162-192 (73.6 – 87.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

Dialga 252+ SpA Life Orb Dialga Max Quake vs. 244 HP / 76+ SpD Shuca Berry Incineroar: 108-127 (53.7 – 63.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Zacian-crowned 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 76 Def Incineroar: 124-148 (61.6 – 73.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Groudon [Neutral Atk] 252+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 244 HP / 76 Def Shuca Berry Incineroar: 93-111 (46.2 – 55.2%) — 64.5% chance to 2HKO

Landorus-therian [Neutral Atk] 188 Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 244 HP / 76 Def Shuca Berry Incineroar: 117-138 (58.2 – 68.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 244 HP / 76+ SpD Incineroar: 177-211 (88 – 104.9%) — 25% chance to OHKO

Grimmsnarl @ Light Clay
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 212 HP / 4 Atk / 140 Def / 116 SpD / 36 Spe
Careful Nature
– Spirit Break
– Thunder Wave
– Light Screen
– Reflect

Grimmsnarl plays the standard role of supporting the team with damage mitigation via Reflect, Light Screen, Spirit Break, and establishing Speed control (+ potential hax, which we like!) via Thunder Wave. All of these tools are useful against any archetype, and are especially valuable when playing against Tailwind, Shadow Rider Calyrex or Jolly Zacian. It’s a great offensive option as well against Pokémon like Regieleki, Gastrodon, Yveltal, Palkia, and other Grimmsnarl.

While Scary Face over Thunder Wave is a common debate, I personally felt that Thunder Wave was a more effective option as it permanently cripples a Pokémon, whereas Scary Face only lasts while the opposing Pokémon is on the field. In addition, I felt that the team could play well around the Pokémon that can’t be paralyzed, like Landorus and Regieleki, so Scary Face was a less effective option in my opinion.

This particular set outspeeds most other Grimmsnarl, as I learned that most of them (at least, the ones that don’t use Fake Out) run 28 Speed EVs at most. The general bulk also lives through a lot of major threats behind screens + Intimidates, including Behemoth Blade from 76+ Atk Zacian.

Notable speed tiers:

  • Outspeeds Adamant 4 Speed Zacian (or all Pokémon that have an 84 Speed stat) when paralyzed.
Offensive calcs

Yveltal 4 Atk Grimmsnarl Spirit Break vs. 172 HP / 4 Def Yveltal: 104-126 (46.6 – 56.5%) — 77.3% chance to 2HKO

Regieleki 4 Atk Grimmsnarl Spirit Break vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Regieleki: 85-102 (54.4 – 65.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Gastrodon 4 Atk Grimmsnarl Spirit Break vs. 180 HP / 252 Def Gastrodon: 51-60 (24.4 – 28.7%) — possible 5HKO after Leftovers recovery

Palkia 4 Atk Grimmsnarl Spirit Break vs. 28 HP / 4 Def Palkia: 102-120 (60.3 – 71%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Grimmsnarl 4 Atk Grimmsnarl Spirit Break vs. 212 HP / 140 Def Grimmsnarl: 116-140 (58.8 – 71%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned [Neutral Atk] 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 212 HP / 140 Def Grimmsnarl through Reflect: 160-189 (81.2 – 95.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Dialga 252+ SpA Life Orb Dialga Max Steelspike vs. 212 HP / 116+ SpD Grimmsnarl through Light Screen: 234-276 (118.7 – 140.1%) — guaranteed OHKO

Kyogre 252 SpA Life Orb Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 212 HP / 116+ SpD Grimmsnarl in Rain through Light Screen: 139-164 (70.5 – 83.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Ferrothorn @ Leftovers
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 84 Def / 172 SpD
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– Leech Seed
– Protect

Ferrothorn plays an important role of being able to effectively stall through and chip some specific Pokémon to set up the team’s win-con. Namely, it’s used in the Trick Room match-ups vs Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia, in the Solgaleo match-ups, and in the Kyogre match-ups. But besides stalling, it can also effectively eliminate Water-type Pokemon and Grimmsnarl (each after enough chip).

Note that this set also uses 0 Speed IVs. In regards to the spread, it was first calculated with enough HP and Defense to live 3 turns in front of 76+ Atk Zacian that have Sacred Sword. This gives itself and/or the ally Pokémon enough opportunities to eliminate Zacian from the field. The leftover EVs were all thrown into SpD, in order to live through hard-hitting special moves like Water Spout, Rising Voltage, and Astral Barrage as best as it can.

The moveset of Power Whip, Iron Defense, Leech Seed and Body Press was initially tested in order to determine whether or not Ferrothorn was most effective on this team as a Pokémon that stacks up on Defense and Body Presses things, or as a more offensive one with Power Whip and Gyro Ball. After a lot of testing, I never found opportunities to effectively set up my win-con with Iron Defense, so I elected to go with the set above. Regardless of the set, Power Whip is an absolute must in order to swiftly eliminate Water-type Pokémon like Kyogre, Gastrodon, Seismitoad or Barraskewda.

Offensive calcs

Gastrodon 0 Atk Ferrothorn Power Whip vs. 180 HP / 252 Def Gastrodon: 264-312 (126.3 – 149.2%) — guaranteed OHKO

Kyogre 0 Atk Ferrothorn Power Whip vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 140-168 (79.5 – 95.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Seismitoad 0 Atk Ferrothorn Power Whip vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Dynamax Seismitoad: 328-388 (90.6 – 107.1%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO

Zacian-Crowned 0 Atk Ferrothorn Gyro Ball (150 BP) vs. 220 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 72-85 (36.9 – 43.5%) — guaranteed 3HKO

Calyrex-Shadow-rider 0 Atk Ferrothorn Gyro Ball (150 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Calyrex-Shadow: 97-115 (55.1 – 65.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned [Neutral Atk] 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 252 HP / 84+ Def Ferrothorn: 84-100 (46.4 – 55.2%) — 16% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

Regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 252 HP / 172 SpD Ferrothorn: 74-87 (40.8 – 48%) — guaranteed 3HKO after Leftovers recovery

Kyogre 252 SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 172 SpD Ferrothorn in Rain: 72-86 (39.7 – 47.5%) — guaranteed 3HKO after Leftovers recovery

Solgaleo +2 252 Atk Solgaleo Max Quake vs. 252 HP / 84+ Def Ferrothorn: 104-123 (57.4 – 67.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

Calyrex-Ice-rider +2 244+ Atk Calyrex-Ice Max Hailstorm vs. 252 HP / 84+ Def Ferrothorn through Reflect: 141-166 (77.9 – 91.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

Landorus-Therian @ White Herb
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 100 HP / 180 Atk / 4 Def / 20 SpD / 204 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Rock Slide
– Earthquake
– Fly
– Protect

Typically on a Kyogre team, you’d see a different Flying-type Pokémon such as Zapdos; however, I am a big fan of the Therian Landorus choice instead. This gives the team a second Intimidate option against major threats like Rillaboom and Zacian, and serves as a good counter to Regieleki, which is a Pokémon that Kyogre does not like. It has the perfect synergy with Kyogre and thus, there are many instances where Landorus and Kyogre share the field together on the same team of 4.

In addition, Landorus helps establish speed control for both Kyogre and Zacian, which is great for faster Water Spouts, outspeeding Shadow Rider Calyrex, or allowing Zacian to outspeed opposing Jolly Zacian. If not the speed control, it also helps mitigate major special threats via Max Quake, such as Dialga. All that being said, Landorus is the other primary Dynamax option besides Kyogre.

Regarding match-ups, Landorus helps with nearly every composition in the meta, except for Kyogre, Trick Room and Kyurem. Landorus especially shines in the Groudon or Sun match-up, which is a match-up that Kyogre doesn’t always win by itself.

The HP and Def EVs were specifically designed to ensure that -1 76+ Behemoth Blade from Zacian is a 3HKO. This means that full HP Landorus always wins the 1v1 endgame.

Notable Speed Tiers:

  • Outspeeds Timid 252 Speed Shadow Rider Calyrex (or all Pokémon that have a 224 Speed stat) after +1 from Max Airstream
Offensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned

188 Atk Landorus-Therian Earthquake vs. 220 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 116-140 (59.4 – 71.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

188 Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 220 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 204-242 (104.6 – 124.1%) — guaranteed OHKO

Gastrodon 188 Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 180 HP / 252 Def Gastrodon: 117-138 (55.9 – 66%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

Incineroar 188 Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 244 HP / 76 Def Shuca Berry Incineroar: 117-138 (58.2 – 68.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Solgaleo 180 Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Solgaleo: 218-258 (89.3 – 105.7%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

Charizard-Gmax 252 SpA Solar Power Charizard-Gmax G-Max Wildfire vs. 100 HP / 20 SpD Dynamax Landorus-Therian in Sun: 297-351 (83.8 – 99.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Wildfire damage

Gastrodon 60+ SpA Gastrodon Ice Beam vs. 100 HP / 20 SpD Landorus-Therian: 176-208 (99.4 – 117.5%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO

Zacian-Crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 100 HP / 4 Def Landorus-Therian: 168-198 (94.9 – 111.8%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO

Team strategies

Typically there are three general strategies that this team can take in order to reach its win-con; the most effective one being very dependent on what type of team the opponent has. These strategies are:

  1. Mitigate all damage immediately (via screens or Intimidate), pivot and chip away, going for a late Dynamax
  2. Balance lead and chip away, going for a late Dynamax
  3. Hyper (kind of) offense, early Dynamax

Typically, the team succeeds the most when going for the first or second strategy, and these are what I try to look for first in team preview, given that it matches my playstyle. I would encourage this team to be played in the same way by anyone renting the team. With these strategies, you will typically be favored to win as long as you outplay or outlast your opponent and are familiar with your offensive damage calculations.

But what do the 4-Pokémon lineups look like when playing for these strategies?

Here are some of the more common lineups that this team can go for (with the 2 back Pokémon being variable & dependent on what the opposing team looks like):

PokémonComments
Incineroar+Grimmsnarl,
KyogreZacian-Crowned
Used for collecting information early in the set, mitigating very hyper offensive leads, or as a safe bulky team to withstand any unknowns you may have about the opposing team. This is also very good against Shadow Rider Calyrex teams, and is probably my most commonly-used team. If you’re ever in doubt on what team to use during team preview, then this is a very safe and reliable core to go into battle with.
Incineroar+Grimmsnarl,
KyogreLandorus-therian
Almost always used against Sun match-ups. Be very thoughtful of how to effectively handle Gastrodon, if your lineup does not have Zacian nor Ferrothorn.
Landorus-therian+Incineroar/ Grimmsnarl
KyogreZacian-Crowned
Used to pressure Life Orb Regieleki or put physically offensive leads (like Zacian) at an immediate disadvantage to force a switch.
Grimmsnarl/Incineroar+Zacian-crowned,
KyogreFerrothorn
Used when Zacian can help put things into Water Spout or Max Move range, as well as the Trick Room match-up. Typically in the Trick Room match-up, you’ll want to put up Reflect (or remove the disguise on Mimikyu via Spirit Break or Throat Chop) + Substitute on turn 1, and Thunder Wave things until it’s time to put up Light Screen. Parting Shot (if Incineroar is brought) during Trick Room will also put you in a better spot to withstand the Trick Room turns.
Ferrothorn+Kyogre,
Zacian-CrownedGrimmsnarl/ Incineroar
Used versus Weakness Policy Solgaleo and Rain match-ups. This usually calls for an early Kyogre Dynamax. Against Rain you’ll typically Power Whip Kyogre leads and Max Geyser the ally next to it if there’s a lot of pressure (such as Seismitoad, Zapdos). Against Solgaleo, the idea is to take that out as soon as possible through Max Geyser & Leech Seed turn 1, and either another Max Geyser or finish it off with Zacian’s Sacred Sword later.

There are opportunities for a more hyper-offensive lead as well in order to take your win-con within a couple turns, but those opportunities are typically only available when the opponent doesn’t have the proper tools to counter a Swordfish team like this. Lineups for this type of strategy include:

  1. zacian-crowned+landorus-therian, kyogre Incineroar
  2. zacian-crowned+kyogre, Incineroar landorus-therian
  3. zacian-crowned+landorus-therian, Kyogre Ferrothorn

Unfortunately, I don’t have examples of how these lineups can be used given that I don’t typically find myself using my leads and lineups in these ways, but the opportunities should certainly be there on occasion, because they should work when the opposing team doesn’t have any form of Intimidate or Screens.

Tournament run

Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R1LLUSA
Andrew Ding
(Jadis★)
zacian-crowneddialgadittotogekissgrimmsnarlurshifu
R2WLWUSA
Andrew Collette
(socandrewcer)
zacian-crownedgroudonincineroargastrodoncharizardgrimmsnarl
R3WWUSA
William Hall
(Shibireroo)
zacian-crownedpalkiaincineroaramoongussunown-questionunown-question
R4WWUSA
Aaron Clemons
(AaronC)
calyrex-shadow-riderkyogredracovishvenusaurindeedee-femaletornadus
R5WWUSA
Zee Costagliola
(Zee)
zacian-crownedyveltalincineroarAmoongusslandorus-therianregieleki
R6LWWUSA
Allan Martinez
(Mando)
zacian-crownedCalyrex-shadow-riderdittoferrothornwhimsicottregieleki
R7WWUSA
Alex Anderson
(Alex)
zacian-crownedpalkiaincineroarribombeecentiskorchgrimmsnarl
R8LLUSA
Zac Emerzian
(Zac)
SolgaleoCalyrex-shadow-ridergrimmsnarltapu-finilandorus-therianraichu

Opportunities for improvement

At the Salt Lake City Regionals, I particularly had a hard time against Andrew Ding’s Life Orb Dialga + Fake Out Grimmsnarl team, as well as Zac Emerzian’s Shadow Rider Calyrex + Weakness Policy Solgaleo team.

Going into the tournament, I didn’t have much practice against Dialga and I already knew that my game plan against Dialga + Grimmsnarl wasn’t the best, so I was hoping to not encounter it during the whole tournament. Unfortunately, I played Andrew in Round 1. The archetype as a whole was beatable, however with Andrew also having Togekiss on his team, it mostly invalidated my primary Dynamax option versus Dialga: Landorus.

When I played Zac in the final Swiss round, his team was particularly awkward for me to handle because his form of enabling Solgaleo was via Bulldoze + Pollen Puff by Shadow Rider Calyrex. The reason why this was very good against my team is because my plan against Solgaleo is to chip it with Max Geyser + Leech Seed, and then take it out in the endgame with Sacred Sword. However, given that Calyrex outspeeds Zacian, all he had to do in order to remove my Zacian was to Bulldoze first, which ensured that his Solgaleo outsped my Zacian.

In addition to that, Zac also revealed a very intriguing tech in Game 1 by curing his own Solgaleo with Pollen Puff. Overall, his team was a very difficult match-up for my team and was extremely well played. Looking back, the only adjustment I felt I could’ve made was to put up Reflect with Grimmsnarl (but potentially lose it on the same turn to Max Steelspike) and then have Ferrothorn + Kyogre operate behind screens to cancel out the Weakness Policy boost.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my report on the team I used to place 9th at the Salt Lake City Regionals! You have here the final Poképaste and below the Rental code for my team if you’d like to try it out. If you do, let me know what you think (you can follow me on Twitter), and feel free to share ideas on how to improve the team. I don’t know if I’ll be using the same Restricted duo at my next Regional-level competition, but perhaps I will if anyone finds opportunities to improve it even more.

Lastly, I want to give some shoutouts to many in the Pokémon community, including MrPig, Pride & Cotn for lending some of their Pokémon for me to use, as well as the Team Dubwool and NorCal VGC communities for their support leading up to and throughout the tournament!

See you around the VGC community, and enjoy!

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