Ben, will Palkia cut Salk Lake City? – A Salt Lake City Regionals Top 4 Team Report

Hi, my name is Alex Arand, also known as Azulite! I’ve been playing VGC for about 4 years, starting in late 2016 as a Senior, making VGC 2017 my official first season competing. I’ve missed in-person events since the last Regionals in Collinsville 2020, but it feels good to finally be back! I got top 4 there and here in Salt Lake City, back-to-back Regional cuts feels great! I am also now qualified for Worlds in London, so I can’t wait to see you all there!

Today I will be sharing the Zacian + Palkia team I used to get top 4 at Salt Lake City Regionals, I hope you enjoy!

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

I asked Ezequiel Cordero (Zeke) to help me build the team we would be using for Salt Lake City, and we had a few ideas in mind.


Initially we saw success in the Zacian + Palkia Top 4 team of Aditya Subramanian (Adi) at VR February S12 Challenge, but felt like something was missing, that the team had a weak Prankster Thundurus and that Ditto was a bit unreliable on cart, since it is forced to switch into the left slot if it is the last Pokémon.


We eventually started looking into Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia, as the duo looked very nice going into this regional. However, we were having a lot of issues playing into other restricted duos that Zacian + Palkia could handle a lot better, so we eventually tried to improve the Zacian + Palkia team, as it could do what Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia did but better. I’ll let Zeke talk a bit more about that…

Yo, guys! I’m Ezequiel Cordero and I’m a longtime VGC player having played since 2012. Alongside Alex, I also ran the same team after he had messaged me to teambuild together for this event. In the lead up to Salt Lake City we struggled to decide on a team we liked, but we ultimately landed on running Palkia for sure. Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia to be more exact, where practice seemed initially promising. However, just a day before the event, we grew cold feet in running the team. Certain important match-ups such as Yveltal + Zacian were borderline unplayable and it always felt like we were on the backfoot when playing.


Now with not much time left, after lunch we headed back to my hotel room to begin working on our Plan B. The Zacian + Palkia duo felt more consistent and comfortable for us to use and the six we would end up bringing weren’t too different from what we already had before.


Keeping the core of Palkia, Female Indeedee, Incineroar and Amoonguss from before, we would swap in Zacian and Porygon2 to replace the Ice Rider Calyrex and Tapu Fini we had. Just with these simple changes, the team was easier to use, keeping many of its positive match-ups from before while still playing very similar.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Richard (Palkia) @ Life Orb
Ability: Pressure
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 12 HP / 4 Def / 236 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Spacial Rend
– Hydro Pump
– Earth Power
– Protect

Very standard Palkia. The 12 HP and 4 Def EVs maximize your odds of living a Play Rough from Zacian while Dynamaxed and the 4 SpD EVs are for maximizing Max Quake boosts. In hindsight, I think something this team could do is add Trick Room over Protect and make the Palkia slightly slower and bulkier to perform better under Trick Room, but that requires testing and we didn’t have a lot of time left so I stuck to this default spread.

Offensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned 236+ SpA Life Orb Palkia Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Zacian-Crowned: 205-244 (103 – 122.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

Incineroar 236+ SpA Life Orb Palkia Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 140+ SpD Incineroar: 200-237 (99 – 117.3%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

Kyogre 236+ SpA Life Orb Palkia Helping Hand Max Wyrmwind (130 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kyogre: 196-231 (111.3 – 131.2%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Play Rough vs. 4 HP / 4 Def Dynamax Palkia: 278-330 (83.7 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Garfield (Incineroar) (M) @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Def / 180 SpD
Careful Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Parting Shot
– Darkest Lariat

This Incineroar was given to me from Owen, and I just liked the general special bulk to live stuff from Kyogre, Palkia and Dialga better. 76 Def EVs were just enough to max your chances of living Adamant 76 Atk Sacred Sword from Zacian without sacrificing anything from your Special Defense. Speaking of which, I decided to invest a lot into it to make sure I live things like Max Wyrmwind from Dialga and Palkia better, as well as living attacks from Kyogre after a Max Quake boost.

Defensive calcs

Dialga 252+ SpA Life Orb Dialga Max Wyrmwind (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 180+ SpD Incineroar: 168-199 (83.1 – 98.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Zacian-Crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Incineroar: 186-220 (92 – 108.9%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO

kyogre 252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 252 HP / 180+ SpD Incineroar: 168-200 (83.1 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Doug (Zacian) @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 236 HP / 92 Atk / 76 Def / 4 SpD / 100 Spe
Adamant Nature
IVs: 30 SpA
– Protect
– Behemoth Blade
– Sacred Sword
– Play Rough

I got this Zacian from Owen, who also was running a Zacian + Palkia team, although his was constructed by Nicholas Borghi. The following words are from Owen:

During testing, he was adamant that max HP Zacian was “super busted,” but it was not until trying to fix the sun match-up when we gave in.

Turns out he was right. We lowered the HP slightly from the original spread to have a little more damage, mainly to edge out defensive calcs against 76 Atk Adamant Zacian. The Speed allows Zacian to outspeed Incarnate Thundurus while still being bulky. The HP and defenses provide for general bulk and livability. Important calculations include living a copied Ditto’s +2 Behemoth Blade, as well as neutral Precipice Blades and -1 Max Quake from Assault Vest Groudon.

Offensive calcs


+1 92+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 85-101 (48.2 – 57.3%) — 92.6% chance to 2HKO

+1 92+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 102-121 (57.9 – 68.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

+1 92+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Play Rough vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 153-181 (86.9 – 102.8%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO

zapdos +1 92+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Play Rough vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Zapdos: 160-190 (96.3 – 114.4%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

amoonguss +1 92+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 252 HP / 116 Def Amoonguss: 178-211 (80.5 – 95.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned +1 96+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Helping Hand Behemoth Blade vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Zacian-Crowned: 193-228 (96.9 – 114.5%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

ditto +2 76+ Atk Ditto (transformed) Behemoth Blade vs. 236 HP / 72 Def Zacian-Crowned: 172-204 (87.3 – 103.5%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO

Sammy Miami (Indeedee-F) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Expanding Force
– Follow Me
– Helping Hand
– Protect

In case you were wondering, this Female Indeedee is named after the Sammy Miami, Gucci model and amazing TCG player. This Indeedee was extremely clutch the entire tournament run. Helping Hand is such a useful tool for taking unexpected KO’s and basically helps you ignore screens as well or a Snarl or Intimidate stat drop. Something that people did not respect either was the power of Expanding Force, as people who swapped in, let’s say a Palkia, would take about 50% from an Expanding Force in Psychic Terrain.

Offensive calcs

Palkia 252+ SpA Indeedee-F Expanding Force (120 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Palkia in Psychic Terrain: 76-90 (45.7 – 54.2%) — 47.3% chance to 2HKO

Amoonguss 252+ SpA Indeedee-F Expanding Force (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 140+ SpD Amoonguss in Psychic Terrain: 164-194 (74.2 – 87.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

shuba shuba (Porygon2) @ Eviolite
Ability: Analytic
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 244 HP / 156 Def / 108 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Foul Play
– Eerie Impulse
– Recover
– Trick Room

Named after Hololive Idol Oozora Subaru, I originally got the idea for Porygon2 after seeing the Dialga + Kyogre team of Collin Heier (BattleRoom) do well. I feel like this Pokémon is currently extremely underused right now, and with the relevance of Urshifu being close to nonexistent, I think Porygon2 has a place. Especially with the Analytic boost on Foul Play, you are dealing a ton of damage or sometimes even just straight up getting KO’s you shouldn’t be getting. I also believe the Eerie Impulse and Foul Play combo provides so much utility, and is extremely annoying to play against. Also, before Analytic, breaking Substitute is a roll, so Analytic preventing said roll is super good too.

Offensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned 0- Atk Analytic Porygon2 Foul Play vs. 156 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 59-70 (31.5 – 37.4%) — 86.5% chance to 3HKO (Will always break Substitute!)

Solgaleo +2 0- Atk Porygon2 Foul Play vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Solgaleo: 234-276 (95.9 – 113.1%) — 75% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

Kyogre 252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 244 HP / 108+ SpD Eviolite Porygon2 in Rain: 121-144 (63.3 – 75.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Zacian-Crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 156 Def Eviolite Porygon2: 116-138 (60.7 – 72.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Palkia 252+ SpA Life Orb Palkia Max Wyrmwind (130 BP) vs. 244 HP / 108+ SpD Eviolite Porygon2: 101-121 (52.8 – 63.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

AMONG US!!!!! (Amoonguss) @ Mental Herb
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 236 HP / 156 Def / 116 SpD
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Protect
– Energy Ball
– Spore
– Rage Powder

This Amoonguss was also very useful as a second redirector in conjunction with Indeedee. Palkia is annoying already next to Amoonguss, but in combination with a Focus Sash Indeedee, not much can break through it. I used to run Giga Drain but was missing KO’s vs Gastrodon, so I swapped the move to Energy Ball last minute.

Zeke’s note: The other change I would suggest is the choice of Amoonguss’ attacking move. Almost immediately after the Regionals I swapped to Seed Bomb over Energy Ball as it circumvents any Max Quake boosts a Gastrodon may have accumulated and it damages Kyogre for more damage (especially if they are Assault Vest). There is also merit in removing the Grass-type move altogether in favor of Pollen Puff. Doing so would add more longevity to your Restricteds during the endgame and also allows Amoonguss to still be useful on the field as there are moments where Spore or Rage Powder are useless and Seed Bomb is doing very little to no damage.

Offensive calcs

gastrodon 0 SpA Amoonguss Energy Ball vs. 180 HP / 12 SpD Gastrodon: 204-244 (97.6 – 116.7%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

Zacian-crowned +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 236 HP / 156+ Def Amoonguss: 154-183 (70.3 – 83.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO


252+ SpA Kyogre Ice Beam vs. 236 HP / 116 SpD Amoonguss: 132-156 (60.2 – 71.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO

252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 236 HP / 116 SpD Amoonguss in Rain: 109-129 (49.7 – 58.9%) — 99.6% chance to 2HKO

Incineroar 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 236 HP / 156+ Def Amoonguss: 152-182 (69.4 – 83.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Common leads

Main, super strong leads that cause mind games with your opponent.
Possible leads if I need Trick Room to go up.
This lead is good against stuff like Grimmsnarl + Groudon or Zacian + redirectors if the match-up calls for it.

Most games you will just be blitzing people with Palkia and wrapping up the game with Zacian.

Tournament run

This was my run at the Salt Lake City Regionals!

Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Devon Braswell
Match summary

First round was a no show, so we take those.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Jonathan Bauer
Match summary

This match-up was all about conserving Porygon2 and making sure I could KO his Life Orb Solgaleo with Foul Play. The Yveltal boost helped but an unfortunate critical hit from Jonathan’s Solgaleo made us go to Game 3, where I played super safe until I could bring in Porygon2 on a safe switch and just Foul Play the Solgaleo out of Dynamax for the KO and first set win of the tournament.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Maximilian Gorchels
Match summary

This was the dreaded mirror. Max had a Ditto and a Focus Sash Regieleki, so he decided to bring them after I beat him with Helping Hand Indeedee and Palkia in G1. He copies my Zacian with Ditto and Dynamaxes his 1 HP Regieleki so I cannot put anything to sleep with Amoonguss, as he sets Electric Terrain, which lost me the game. In G3 I made sure to keep Amoonguss and Palkia on the field at all times so no matter what he copied it would not be helpful to him, so essentially I made it a 4v3. In the endgame, he copied Palkia with Imposter and attempted to Earth Power my Zacian, missing the KO and allowing me to retaliate back for the win as, without Life Orb, it needs a critical hit to get the KO. I also had a Max Quake boost on my Zacian, so I was able to tank that in edition to the Electroweb or Thunderbolt from his Regieleki.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Stephanie Escamilla
Match summary

This team was pretty much Palkia fodder. Stephanie had a Modest Zapdos, which meant my Palkia outsped it naturally and I was able to blast everything with Palkia + Indeedee. For her Solgaleo, which was Assault Vest, I just saved it for Porygon2 as Analytic-boosted Foul Play took care of it very quickly.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Jeremy Boyd
Match summary

My match vs Jeremy was not easy. Light Screen Mimikyu was super annoying, and I decided that Zacian was not to be brought to this match-up. I barely snagged G1 with some smart switching, but in G2 he decides to not bring Incineroar, and instead brings an Amoonguss. I get down to just the Dusk Mane Necrozma, but he reveals Swords Dance and my Porygon2 can only take so much, his Prism Armor ability was saving him from a Foul Play OHKO. Once Jeremy realized his Kyogre was causing him to lose, he forgot a Restricted as well, that being Kyogre, and brought his Amoonguss, but unfortunately in G3 he decided to swap Amoonguss into a Hydro Pump and Expanding Force, effectively sealing the set and making me 5-0.

You can read Jeremy’s team report here!

At this point in time, I believe the big names at 5-0 were myself, Peng ChongjunJoe UgarteWolfe Glick, and Max Simon, and after practice was looking to pull either Max or Joe, since I had practiced those match-ups and felt the most confident about them. Oh… how wrong I was.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Joseph Ugarte
Match summary

I thought I had a plan for Joe, but he played this match-up so well. I did the Helping Hand Max Wyrmwind play into his Charizard G1 and I almost was able to snag a win, but he set up screens in the lategame and I missed the KO on his Zacian because of that. In G2 he called my adaptation to Zacian + Incineroar, and without Shuca Berry the match-up becomes a lot more difficult. Being able to rotate his last Pokémon out for either Grimmsnarl, Incineroar or Gastrodon or even Charizard is so annoying to try to predict. Fortunately with this loss, I was able to dodge the rest of the Sun players, specifically Chongjun, who I will be meeting up with later in the top 4.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Diego Chan
Match summary

I really didn’t like seeing Umbreon in team preview. G1 I called all of his Protects and was able to take out his team one by one with Palkia and Indeedee, however I knew his Ferrothorn would be his best win condition for me and he would be a bit more conservative in G2, so I decided to do the same thing with my Zacian. In G2 he used Protect with Umbreon as I tried to Helping Hand + Max Geyser it, which was a big waste into said Protect. However I was able to pull it back and make sure I could knock out everything besides Ferrothorn, which I finished off with a Sacred Sword after some chip from Foul Play.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Ian Holdeman
Match summary

I knew what his team was after seeing him play on stream vs Joe (2:21:08) earlier in the day. In G1 I was able to call Ian’s Protect on Zacian and pick off everything around it with Indeedee and Palkia to seal up the game. In G2 I led Porygon2 + Palkia and swapped in Incineroar as he clicked Max Airstream + Sacred Sword, and my Porygon2 was able to live with 17 HP left, allowing me to set Trick Room and essentially seal up my place in Top Cut after I safely got my Palkia in to use Dynamax. I read him swapping in his Zacian, OHKOed it and after that Kyogre really couldn’t break through, especially with Dynamax blown by Zapdos. Without Amoonguss, blasting away with Palkia was basically unstoppable.

Top cut prep

Thanks to Varun Gudapati (Cyan), I was able to make a write-up for every possible play Zac Emerzian, my top 8 opponent, could make, as his team was linear as Solgaleo teams are. We found that Porygon2 was going to carry me through this match. Palkia and Porygon2 could each take one +2 Max Move from Solgaleo, so I always planned on leading both just in case Zac decided to go back to his Shadow Rider Calyrex + Solgaleo lead. However, he was very adamant on sticking to Solgaleo + Grimmsnarl, but we had a plan for that too. After playing several mock best-of-three’s, we came up with this with the information we had access too and the assumptions I made:

Position your mobile horizontally to better read the flowchart!

After coming up with several variations of this kind of flowchart for the different leads that Zac could have led, I was ready for the following day and got a good night’s sleep.

Top cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamMatch
Zac Emerzian

Match summary

I thought this match-up would be a lot harder than it was at first, but once again Analytic Porygon2 and Life Orb Palkia are super clutch here. The combination of both Foul Play + Max Quake, with either a Max Steelspike or a Max Quake boost on Solgaleo, would always knock out it, which is probably why he never brought that lead. I recognized that he wanted to play the long game, so after getting crit in G2, I decided to also do the same G3. Let him waste his screens, don’t give him any opportunity to set up with Solgaleo. Once I was able to single out Solgaleo, with Sacred Sword and Earth Power I was guaranteed to win, moving on to Chongjun.

You can read Zac’s team report here!

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamMatch
Peng Chongjun

Match summary

I tried to switch it up from what I did vs Joe, but I was outplayed at every turn. After talking with Adi and Gavin, this match-up just seemed like a nightmare. G-Max Wildfire chip plus random Precipice Blades does too much to my Palkia, and good conservation of Zacian from Chongjun’s end essentially sealed up the set. As an explanation for G2, I was just getting really greedy and decided to Max Geyser, but Chongjun adapted really well and brought Gastrodon, which made Palkia useless with some really smart switching. I was really looking forward to playing Aaron in the finals but it was not meant to be.


I am so grateful that I was able to do well here with such little prep and deciding on Zacian + Palkia last minute was a great choice over Calyrex + Palkia.

I think Calyrex + Palkia has a bit more room to grow, but for this tournament it was just not explored enough yet and people were prepared for it after Brisbane, which is why I ended up with Zacian + Palkia instead. I think the team will be much stronger once Sun teams are more in check, but the team is certainly still playable and a Swordfish (Zacian + Kyogre) slayer so give it a shot!

I have several shoutouts I would like to make:

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