I started playing VGC when I was a little kid back in 2011 with the online Battle Spot, and in 2017 I played my first in-real-life tournament in the Senior division. As a kid I couldn’t participate in many of them, but with the large online tournaments coverage due to the pandemic I had the opportunity to battle the best players in the world from home during the weekends. Soon I started seeing results, cutting lots of tournaments and eventually winning huge prizes in big Italian circuits like the VGP or the GameStop Zing Cup, and in March 2021, I was able to place top 8 in the Players Cup III Global Finals after a perfect score in the Europe Region Qualifier.
In this report, I will talk to you about my run and about the team that made me win this huge tournament.
Table of Contents
The idea of the team actually started on a Monday evening, a couple days before the tournament. I was watching my dear friend Marco Silva (Marcofiero) who was streaming on Twitch and at one point he faced a Japanese player that was really high on the Battle Stadium ladder that destroyed Marco’s Zacian + Kyogre team with Tornadus. I was really impressed by that and I immediately asked him which the full team of six Pokémon were as I joined the stream mid-game. This is when things got really interesting: I presented the idea to one of my best friends, Emanuele Ciliberto (Asuya).
At the start, he really liked the idea of the Restricted pair, which is also the fastest Restricted combination you can play in the game: Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex. The team was composed by this six:
The first thing I did was asking him if he had a sample team that I could practise with on Pokémon Showdown, a very important tool for me in the process of the early testing, and he sent me a team built by Japanese player Channa which would then be quite similar to the finished product, but especially it had a tech that may have revolutionised this archetype for the rest of the format: the move Energy Ball on Shadow Rider Calyrex.
At first glance it didn’t make much sense to me and seemed more like something to surprise opponent’s Kyogre dealing good damage under Rillaboom’s Grassy Terrain, but soon it all appeared clear to my eyes: it was there for a very specific and smart reason: snipe the opponent’s Gastrodon in the switch in for a free G-Max Cannonade by Blastoise.
Geared up, I decide to push myself for the very first time on ladder in this format, and the feedback was pretty convincing, placing myself in the top 10 ladder with a nice 81.5% GXE, which is an estimate of your win chance against an average ladder player. Satisfied by that, I stopped playing for some days and waited for Saturday to play the tournament.
Get the team’s paste here!
Calyrex-Shadow @ Focus Sash
Ability: As One (Spectrier)
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Astral Barrage
– Energy Ball
I don’t think I need to spend words on this Shadow Rider Calyrex set, I explained the reasoning of Energy Ball before and Will-o-Wisp is there because it’s an incredible option to set some damage over time and reduce in half the opponent’s physical Attack stat.
The EVs are distributed to maximise Speed and damage and the 4 HP EVs are there to take more recovery from the Grassy Terrain due to 176 being a multiple of 16, which is the fraction of HP taken from the terrain for recovery.
Zacian @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Iron Head
– Sacred Sword
The strongest Pokémon of this format, the single-sworded GOAT, Zacian. I decided to run the max Speed, max Attack EV spread to attack before most other Zacian and deal as much damage as possible. The choice of running Substitute was really clever to punish passive plays by my opponents and avoid the only three Zacian weaknesses: Intimidate, Fake Out and status conditions.
Incineroar @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 100 Def / 148 SpD / 12 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
– Parting Shot
– Fake Out
The ever-present wrestling cat. It’s too much of an advantage playing Incineroar, especially when your opponent does not have it, and it’s by far the best tank and support of the game, plus it synergizes so well with the rest of the team. The set is classic, and yes, Burning Jealousy fans, the Dark-type move (Darkest Lariat) is important in this team, otherwise you will have a hard time dealing against opponent’s Indeedee, Shadow Rider Calyrex and Lunala. The only thing I may change is its item, probably Shuca Berry and Safety Goggles are a better option than Sitrus Berry, especially with the recent rise of Groudon teams with Venusaur.
252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 100+ Def Incineroar: 112-134 (55.7 – 66.6%) — 28.1% Chance To 2HKO After Sitrus Berry Recovery
Rillaboom @ Miracle Seed
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 188 HP / 116 Atk / 12 Def / 140 SpD / 52 Spe
– Grassy Glide
– Drum Beating
– Fake Out
The next pokemon of my team is Rill— wait, do I have Rillaboom in the team?
Jokes aside, Rillaboom didn’t see the battlefield very much during my run, but when it did, it did its job perfectly against the Kyogre teams not equipped with the Tailwind option; we’ll talk about that match-up later. Unlike most will think, it’s not easily replaceable so I don’t suggest slapping other random Grass types over it without adult supervision.
116+ Atk Miracle Seed Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 198-234 (95.6 – 113%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
+1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 188 HP / 12 Def Rillaboom: 168-198 (84.4 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery
Regieleki @ Assault Vest
EVs: 28 HP / 220 Atk / 68 Def / 108 SpD / 84 Spe
– Wild Charge
– Extreme Speed
Next one on the list, Regieleki. This Pokémon is so good that I rarely play without it in my teams. A lot of good players such as my friend Brady Smith (Bsmiffy) preferred Incarnate Thundurus over it, placing in top 8 in the tournament, but I hate Thundurus because of its lack of utility when it’s not Dynamaxed plus being very frail.
Regieleki is surely very frail, but with the held item Assault Vest it had all it needed: taking Kyogre’s Max Geyser with the boosting item, answering with a Max Airstream if the opposing Tailwind is on, and KOing it before it attacks the next turn. Extreme Speed was life-saving, giving you the opportunity of KOing opponent’s Whimsicott before it resets the Tailwind after it hangs on the Focus Sash because of its higher priority bracket. This is one of the two main Dynamax of my team.
The speed stat is to outspeed +1 base 100 Pokémon and outspeed neutral Nature Regieleki. Always speed-creep 😉 !
252+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 28 HP / 68 Def Dynamax Regieleki: 284-336 (89.3 – 105.6%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 28 HP / 108 SpD Assault Vest Dynamax Regieleki in Rain: 268-316 (84.2 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
+1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 28 HP / 68 Def Regieleki: 142-168 (89.3 – 105.6%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO
Blastoise-Gmax @ Wacan Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hydro Cannon
– Icy Wind
– Helping Hand
The walking marine fleet, as strong as iconic, Blastoise. This is the second main Dynamax (in this case, Gigantamax) of the team, and it probably was the main factor of the team’s strength. Two of the best support moves of the format, giving you the possibility to play slow, in Yawn and Helping Hand; plus a speed control utility in Icy Wind and the 150 base power STAB-boosted move (Hydro Cannon) that puts the —only second to Coalossal’s G-Max Volcalith— strongest damage over time in order of typing, ignored only by Water types that are highly exposed to the rest of the team. The G-Max Cannonade basically helped me put everything in range of an Astral Barrage or a Behemoth Blade, setting up a perfect late-game sweep.
The Wacan Berry gives me the opportunity to bring it against the opponent’s Zapdos and Regieleki, leaving them without much to do other than watch.
Facing some match-ups
|Against Rinya Sun I usually lead with Calyrex + Blastoise with Zacian and Incineroar in the back, and the main factor that stops you to win spamming G-Max Cannonade is Gastrodon, but thanks to Energy Ball Calyrex they never have a safe play while you do with Yawn or Helping Hand.|
+ Grass type
|The Rain match-up is played out by leading with Calyrex + one between Blastoise and Regieleki, the last one especially if they have Tailwind thanks to the fast Max Airstream. Basically if you bring Regieleki you never bring Rillaboom to not be too passive against the opponent’s Zacian or Kartana.|
+ Electric type + Water type
|The mirror match is actually pretty easy if they don’t have Regieleki. I usually lead with Calyrex + Blastoise and go for Will-o-Wisp on Thundurus + G-Max Cannonade into the Calyrex slot. Gastrodon doesn’t help at all preventing the huge damage pressure put on by your Calyrex. In the full mirror you must lead with Regieleki + Calyrex and usually the fastest Regieleki wins; I was able to play it bulkier because I was one of the few that played it over Thundurus at the time. Zacian and Incineroar are brought in the back.|
Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia teams
|This match-up is quite hard. You can win by leading Incineroar + Zacian and stalling the Trick Room turns with Substitute. I bring Rillaboom (for the switch-in into Amoonguss) and Calyrex, and you want to Dynamax either Incineroar or Calyrex in late game.|
During the swiss rounds of the tournament, I lost only to two very good Japanese players:
- In round 6, against Rinya Kobayashi (Rinya), the creator of the famous Rinya Sun, which was using that particular team.
- In round 8, against Masayoshi Kuroo (Kuro), in a really hard match-up.
The rest of the rounds were pretty smooth as I had good preparation. I mainly faced Zacian + Kyogre and Lunala + Groudon teams, and I noticed that the team struggled a bit against Groudon teams with Venusaur, but I still managed to beat 1 of the 2 during the run.
Unfortunately my oponent fell asleep, which gave me the activity win.
I faced a classic Zacian + Kyogre with Grimmsnarl as support and I just adopted the plan involving Blastoise on G1 and then surprised my opponent with physical Regieleki on G2, that gave me a huge advantage in the early game ignoring its Light Screen.
I faced another standard Sun team. Everything went as planned and I managed to win the match.
Now here things got tricky, because I faced one of the best Japanese players who happened to use Yveltal with Gastrodon, that gave a really hard time to my Calyrex core with Blastoise. I stole G1 thanks to an unexpected Energy Ball that picked the OHKO on the Gastrodon on switch-in, giving Blastoise the opportunity to one-shot the opponent’s Incineroar and win with a turn 1 forfeit from my opponent. We could say the same about G2 but now with switched sides, with my opponent making a really good read on turn 1 that gave him a huge advantage that influenced a lot the outcome of that battle. G3 was much trickier, since I decided to bring Regieleki instead of Blastoise to better counter his Yveltal, which he did not bring. I won after several turns of repositioning and I suggest you to watch it, it is probably one of my favourite games ever.
Finally I was heading to the finals, I had come a long way to play this set and adrenaline was pumping. I couldn’t wait to see who my next opponent was, and with great surprise I saw Rey, an Italian like myself that dominated the other side of the bracket, and yet another Sun team. Remember that here Rinya Sun was in a winning streak of 3 Regionals in a row (Salt Lake City, Liverpool and Taichung), and I could feel the aura of invincibility coming from that ridiculously strong archetype.
The match started, and as usual I led with Calyrex + Blastoise; the damage over time basically decimated the health bars of the opponent’s team and I closed the game with a clear end game, but I knew it wouldn’t be so easy for the next game.
I actually called the lead that he eventually went for G2: Groudon + Charizard. Now I must say, without the loss that I had the day before from Rinya, I probably wouldn’t have won that game, because he did the exact same lead and I was able to understand better the various shenanigans of how the turn would have been played out thanks to the experience I had the day before. This proved once again that the losses are what teach you the most, and Pokémon VGC makes no exception. I went for a very aggressive play and made my opponent do the work for me, boosting Blastoise’s G-Max Cannonade as he triggered the Torrent activation with a double up, with me answering KOing his Charizard that gave me the damage lead and with it the win of the tournament.
I am really happy to have made it after a lot of unlucky attempts. In this game you often lose because of external factors and you want to give up, but if you keep grinding no one will stop you, neither will hax.
I am really happy I could feature a team report on Victory Road in first person after several shoutouts on the site and I hope you liked it. The metagame is changing and I think this team needs some adjustments, but this version is still really solid. If you read everything so far, I am really thankful and I hope you found this useful!