The Murkrowd to Victory – Team Report from the 2019 Bristol Regional Champion

Hi! My name is David Partington (@DavidPartVGC) and this is the team I used to win the 2019 Bristol Regional Championship a few weeks ago, and a Midseason Showdown in Manchester last Sunday.

salamence-mega Victory Road Team Building Process

Having just come out of the European International Championship in Berlin with a 5-4 record, and a similar record on the Sunday MSS, I definitely needed to change something I was doing. I was running Rayquaza/Kyogre, but what I found difficult was maintaining speed control, or too easily loosing it. There’s a lot of good speed control options out there like Salamence’s Tailwind, Tapu Fini’s Icy Wind, and of course Trick Room. But it was mainly Crobat that has seen a lot of recent usage and does a good job of doing the job it’s there to do: Speed control. So I went about looking at how to stop it, so I looked at Prankster Pokémon. Murkrow immediately popped out because if its access to tailwind and the ability to prevent Crobat setting up with Taunt.

murkrow Victory Road
So now I was looking for a restricted pair that would benefit from Murkrow’s presence, but also dealt with the wave of Xerneas/Rayquaza that have been performing consistently well at tournaments. Looking at the small list, Dusk-Mane Necrozma sticks out, being a bulky steel type, thus resisting Fairy moves, Dragon Ascent, and Extreme Speed. As for a moveset, I initially tried Solganium Z on it to surprise opponents in game 1 and get the OHKO on Xerneas at -1, with Trick Room as a third move for more speed control options. I then picked Primal-Kyogre to pair with it, with a speed stat to benefit from both tailwind and trick room.

murkrow Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Road
I then added Hitmontop, because I wanted a Fake Out Pokémon that outsped and threatened Incineroar so I could get the choice of Fake Out target to facilitate Murkrow’s Tailwind. I then realised my Yveltal matchup looked a bit shaky, so I slapped on Tapu Koko for good measure, giving it the Fairium Z to get access to Twinkle Tackle, in case of Lightning Rod support. This also helped my Smeargle matchup greatly, to the point that many players just don’t bother bringing it to the game.

Finally, lacking some fire power, I added Incineroar, because why not.

murkrow Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadhitmontop Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road
After not many games, I realised a few things. Firstly, Hitmontop is dead weight if not vs Incineroar. Second, I wasn’t using Trick Room much, and if I did, other primals would underspeed or just have other Pokémon like Ferrothorn that gave me a hard time. And thirdly, Yveltal is still annoying, especially with Gengar, to the point I wasn’t bringing Necrozma to the matchup.

murkrow Victory Roadnecrozma-dusk-mane Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadlopunny-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road
In response, I swapped the Z move to Ultranecrozium Z, and ditched trick room for Earth Power, which I think is necessary, even on a physical Ultra-Necrozma. I loved the power this thing had, and I found that I didn’t crave a Tapu Lele to boost it because my opponent would often set it for me, with all the scarf Tapu Lele around. I then ditched Hitmontop, and changed it to the far superior Mega-Lopunny. Although I had enjoyed the double intimidate, Mega-Lopunny was able to dish out big damage to many more foes, and naturally outspeeds anything relevant in the format. With Gengar being so popular in Berlin, it felt like a good choice, with its ability to knock it out with Fake Out + Return. To patch the Yveltal match up, I decided to swap Kyogre for Xerneas. With the double Fake Out, Taunt for Roar/Haze, and naturally fast Pokémon threatening knockouts even without Tailwind, Xerneas had a comfortable time amongst the rest of my team. With the Yveltal matchup looking a lot easier, I changed Tapu Koko’s Fairium to a Focus Sash, and taught it Nature’s Madness. This was so good with Ultra Necrozma because I could just pick a slot and knock it out.

salamence-mega Victory Road The Team

▶️ Get the importable version of the team here!

Murkrow Victory Road
Murkrow @ Eviolite
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 204 HP / 108 Def / 196 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Foul Play
– Tailwind
– Haze
– Taunt

The MVP of the team, Murkrow was crucial in providing speed control through Tailwind for the team, which I otherwise didn’t have. I brought it to roughly 85% of my games. It also shuts down other supports with its prankster Taunt, such as Crobat, Amoonguss, Lunala, Xerneas, Whimsicott, etc. Mental Herb was not common on many of these Pokémon, with Crobat usually running Focus Sash, and Amoonguss a Berry, so it was rarely an issue.

Foul Play was excellent for picking up knockouts once tailwind was up, doing over 50% to Rayquaza, 40% to Groudon, and 90% to other Ultra Necrozma, which is otherwise a tough matchup. Haze on a Xerneas team may seem counterintuitive, but it was so good in comfortably ridding opposing Xerneas of their boosts, while my late game Xerneas boosts afterwards. Not only that, but leading it with Lopunny, meant that you could Haze+High Jump Kick opposing Incineroar for the OHKO, and anything else weak to fighting. This was also the case for my Necrozma, which otherwise gets whittled down by opposing intimidates.

Regarding the item, I preferred Eviolite over Focus Sash, for two reasons: one, I already had it on my Tapu Koko; and two, it allowed me a decent chance to survive hits after some chip from a Fake Out, and the bulk was so clutch in surviving Extreme Speeds from Rayquaza, which has a higher speed priority than Prankster moves, allowing me get up a Tailwind.

Offensive calcs

groudon-primal Victory Road 0- Atk Murkrow Foul Play vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Primal Groudon: 76-91 (36.7 – 43.9%) — guaranteed 3HKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road 0- Atk Murkrow Foul Play vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Rayquaza: 103-123 (56.9 – 67.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
necrozma-ultra Victory Road 0- Atk Murkrow Foul Play vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Ultra Necrozma: 144-170 (83.2 – 98.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
gengar-mega Victory Road 0- Atk Murkrow Foul Play vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Gengar: 68-84 (50.3 – 62.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

tapu-lele Victory Road 252 SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 204 HP / 196+ SpD Eviolite Murkrow: 138-164 (85.7 – 101.8%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
groudon-primal Victory Road 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Fire Punch vs. 204 HP / 108 Def Eviolite Murkrow in Harsh Sun: 142-168 (88.1 – 104.3%) — 25% chance to OHKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 204 HP / 108 Def Eviolite Murkrow: 138-163 (85.7 – 101.2%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Extreme Speed vs. 204 HP / 108 Def Eviolite Murkrow: 62-73 (38.5 – 45.3%) — guaranteed 3HKO
xerneas Victory Road 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 204 HP / 196+ SpD Eviolite Murkrow: 128-152 (79.5 – 94.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Necrozma-DM Victory Road
Necrozma-Dusk-Mane @ Ultranecrozium Z
Ability: Prism Armor
EVs: 36 HP / 220 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 236 Spe
Post Bristol EVs: 36 HP / 204 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 252 Spe
Lonely Nature
– Photon Geyser
– Sunsteel Strike
– Earth Power
– Protect

Dawn-Wings has seen a lot of use, but what I love about Dusk-Mane is its usage even without ultra bursting. Most of the games I brought it, it was favourable to not ultra burst immediately. This allowed for a stronger Sunsteel Strike onto opposing Xerneas and for a nice defensive switch to sponge hits from Xerneas, Rayquaza, Salamence, Ferrothorn, Stakataka, Tapu Lele, and even Incineroar due to Prism Armor. Once I’d whittled down the HP of relevant opponents, I’d then Ultra burst late game to pick up the KOs, which provided necessary pressure to allow Xerneas to switch in and set up.

Physical Necrozma complements the special attacking Xerneas nicely, and with Earth Power, the pair can KO most Groudons. I’m pretty sure that all my opponents expected special Necrozma, and so would be snarling it and leaving their Tapu Fini in to be KO’d despite light screen. Even after a set, some opponents never cottoned on to it being physical, which was funny. Now, the Z Move on this thing is monstrous in power. I really wanted to make the most of an Ultra-Necrozma’s power with a nature boosting one of its huge 167 base offensive stats. Lonely was perfect, as it kept the damage of Earth Power high, and lowered a stat that was patched with Incineorar’s Intimidate, and was not hit even nearly as frequently as on its special side.

With not many Necrozma around, I wasn’t worried about speed ties, and my Salamence match up was pretty good. The main thing I don’t outspeed is Mega Rayquaza, but with Murkrow’s Tailwind support, and the threat of Xerneas, Necrozma didn’t need to be that fast. This allowed me to add some bulk to live a Kyogre’s Ice Beam and others, while still outspeeding base 110s. I changed the EVs after Bristol to outspeed Mega Lucario, which my team is quite weak to, and it doesn’t affect the offensive calcs too much.

Offensive calcs

xerneas Victory Road 220+ Atk Necrozma-Dusk-Mane Sunsteel Strike vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 222-264 (109.9 – 130.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
incineroar Victory Road 0 SpA Neuroforce Ultra Necrozma Earth Power vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Incineroar: 105-125 (52.5 – 62.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
tapu-fini Victory Road 220+ Atk Ultra Necrozma Light That Burns the Sky vs. 252 HP / 60 Def Tapu Fini: 186-220 (105 – 124.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
gengar-mega Victory Road 220+ Atk Neuroforce Ultra Necrozma Light That Burns the Sky vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Gengar through Protect: 165-195 (122.2 – 144.4%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

xerneas Victory Road +1 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 36 HP / 12 SpD Necrozma-Dusk-Mane: 74-87 (41.8 – 49.1%) — guaranteed 3HKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 36 HP / 4- Def Necrozma-Dusk-Mane: 77-91 (43.5 – 51.4%) — 9.8% chance to 2HKO
incineroar Victory Road -1 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 36 HP / 4- Def Prism Armor Necrozma-Dusk-Mane: 69-82 (38.9 – 46.3%) — guaranteed 3HKO
kyogre-primal Victory Road 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Ice Beam vs. 36 HP / 12 SpD Ultra Necrozma: 146-172 (82.4 – 97.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 36 HP / 4- Def Ultra Necrozma: 148-175 (83.6 – 98.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Xerneas Victory Road
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 108 HP / 20 Def / 124 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Geomancy
– Protect

A pretty standard Xerneas. Max speed was necessary for a few reasons: outspeeding special attackers like Lunala and Kyogre was essential to be able to set up Geomancy without taking too much damage; and at least speed tieing with Yveltal was nice to be able to knock it out before it uses Tailwind, as I can’t Taunt it with Murkrow.

I didn’t feel like I needed to be Modest or max SpA as I had a lot of damage output from Necrozma already, and everything calcs for Timid 252 Xerneas Moonblast. No regrets on the set, did what it needed to. Gave me win conditions very early on in a game when positioned correctly.

Offensive calcs

yveltal Victory Road 124 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Yveltal: 200-236 (99 – 116.8%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

rayquaza-mega Victory Road -1 252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 108 HP / 20 Def Xerneas: 88-105 (40.9 – 48.8%) — guaranteed 3HKO
groudon-primal Victory Road -1 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Fire Punch vs. 108 HP / 20 Def Xerneas in Harsh Sun: 93-109 (43.2 – 50.6%) — 2.3% chance to 2HKO
lunala Victory Road 252 SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 108 HP / 4 SpD Xerneas: 178-211 (82.7 – 98.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Lopunny-Mega Victory Road
Lopunny-Mega (M) @ Lopunnite
Ability: Scrappy
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Return
– High Jump Kick
– Encore
– Fake Out

If in doubt, lead Lopunny. That’s what I said to myself in team preview if I was unsure on what to bring. With the fastest Fake Out in the game that even ghost types fear, Lopunny is a solid Pokémon. Return and High Jump Kick hit everything in the format for high damage, and opponents are less inclined to Protect with the threat of Encore, making High Jump Kick marginally safer.

With Encore on the set, I could safely Fake Out around other Fake Out users, because if they fake’d out, I could Encore them the next turn. Lead it with Murkrow to almost guarantee a tailwind, lead it with Xerneas to threaten a Geomancy, or lead it with Tapu Koko to shut down Tapu Lele.

I sometimes didn’t mega evolve immediately so as to survive attacks from scarf Lele or Xerneas. Cute Charm never activated, but you never know. I never wished I’d had Limber either. I went Male because of Mega Kangaskhan. I didn’t find anything particularly useful to calc EVs for that was worth sacrificing speed or attack, so I went with the simple 252/252 spread.

Offensive calcs

gengar-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Lopunny Return vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Gengar: 109-129 (80.7 – 95.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Lopunny Return vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Rayquaza: 91-108 (50.2 – 59.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
ferrothorn Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Lopunny High Jump Kick vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Ferrothorn: 186-218 (102.7 – 120.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
incineroar Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Lopunny High Jump Kick vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 248-294 (124 – 147%) — guaranteed OHKO
kangaskhan-mega Victory Road 252 Atk Mega Lopunny High Jump Kick vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 228-270 (107.5 – 127.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
togedemaru Victory Road -1 252 Atk Mega Lopunny High Jump Kick vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Togedemaru: 222-264 (129 – 153.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
stakataka Victory Road -1 252 Atk Mega Lopunny High Jump Kick vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Stakataka: 160-192 (95.2 – 114.2%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

xerneas Victory Road 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Lopunny: 123-145 (87.8 – 103.5%) — 25% chance to OHKO

Tapu-Koko Victory Road
Tapu Koko @ Focus Sash
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Nature’s Madness
– Taunt
– Protect/Light Screen

Tapu Koko was originally on the team for the Yveltal matchup, but now finds itself more useful as a lead to win the terrain war against Tapu Lele, allowing for Fake Out to work. I didn’t bring it to many games, but when I did bring it, it did good work.

Nature’s Madness was the best move on this set, chunking legendaries like Groudon on the switch in allowing for my heavy hitters to clean up. Taunt was used occasionally to prevent opposing speed control, as I often didn’t bring Murkrow if I brought Koko as I needed at least one fake out mon to help my Xerneas Geomancy. Thunderbolt was just for consistent damage. Because I brought Koko for the Lele match up, it never faced against Fake Out on turn 1, so I rarely had a reason to use Protect. So for the Manchester MSS I changed it to Light Screen, which was a really good decision, making all my future switch in’s so much safer.

Offensive calcs

kyogre-primal Victory Road 244 SpA Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Primal Kyogre in Electric Terrain: 122- 146 (58.9 – 70.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
yveltal Victory Road 244 SpA Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Yveltal in Electric Terrain: 186-222 (92 – 109.9%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
tapu-fini Victory Road 244 SpA Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 76+ SpD Tapu Fini: 84-102 (47.4 – 57.6%) –82% chance to 2HKO

Defensive calcs

salamence-mega Victory Road 4 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 4 HP / 4 Def Tapu Koko: 63-75 (43.1 – 51.3%) — 7.4% chance to 2HKO
tapu-lele Victory Road 252 SpA Tapu Lele Dazzling Gleam vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Koko: 64-76 (43.8 – 52%) — 10.9% chance to 2HKO

Incineroar Victory Road
Incineroar (F) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 244 HP / 28 Atk / 108 Def / 84 SpD / 44 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Snarl
– U-turn
– Fake Out

As much as wanted a quadruped fire starter this gen, this Pokémon is so consistently good at support it’s hard not to adore it. Incineroar provides much needed Intimidate support, a slow U-turn for safe switching, and the ability to deal with Ferrothorn.

I like Assault Vest over a Figy Berry in Ultra Series because it actually survives some attacks from Kyogre and boosted Xerneas, and allows me to invest EVs elsewhere, as you can see below. Adamant nature gave the boost I needed to KO standard Ferrothorn with Flare Blitz even after being intimidated, which came in use at least twice in Bristol.

Akin to Light Screen, Snarl was nice to make safer switches against Special attackers like Lunala, Tapu Lele, and Xerneas. U-Turn was awesome, giving the safest switch into something like Xerneas, and with double Fake Out, I could U-turn and still have a fake out ready the next turn with Lopunny. Regarding the 44 Speed EVs, I preferred to have Fake Out priority over a slower U-Turn as it gave me more options turn 1, and also allowed me to outspeed most restricted Pokémon after tailwind was up, allowing me get a Snarl on them before they attack.

Offensive calcs

ferrothorn Victory Road -1 28+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Ferrothorn: 184-220 (101.6 – 121.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
tapu-lele Victory Road -1 28+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Lele: 73-87 (50 – 59.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
necrozma-dusk-mane Victory Road 28+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Prism Armor Necrozma-Dusk-Mane: 105- 126 (51.4 – 61.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

kyogre-primal Victory Road 4+ SpA Primal Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 244 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar in Heavy Rain: 174-206 (86.5 – 102.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
xerneas Victory Road +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 244 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 159-187 (79.1 – 93%) — guaranteed 2HKO
tapu-lele Victory Road 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 244 HP / 84 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 60-72 (29.8 – 35.8%) — 29.8% chance to 3HKO
rayquaza-mega Victory Road -1 252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 244 HP / 108 Def Incineroar: 84-100 (41.7 – 49.7%) — guaranteed 3HKO
groudon-primal Victory Road -1 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 244 HP / 108 Def Incineroar: 138-164 (68.6 – 81.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
kartana Victory Road -1 252+ Atk Kartana All-Out Pummeling (175 BP) vs. 244 HP / 108 Def Incineroar: 180-214 (89.5 – 106.4%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO

salamence-mega Victory Road Team Play

  • The team revolves around Xerneas. So Xerneas should come to every matchup.
  • Necrozma complements Xerneas’s bad matchups and should come to most matchups, especially vs other Xerneas. Necrozma is best used to help Xerneas in its Dusk-Mane form as it acts as better defensive switch, and can threaten KOs on other Xerneas without worrying about getting knocked out.
  • Ultra bursting should only be executed if the speed is needed, and you don’t see yourself needing the steel type switch again. I rarely felt the need to ultra burst to have access to the Z Move because until Incineroar is gone, it is often too risky to use, and Dusk-Mane is still really strong.
  • Necrozma is better off in the back than as a lead, because if intimidated, it’s not enough of a threat to stop opposing set up.
  • Incineroar needs to come for the Ferrothorn matchup, as Lopunny’s High Jump Kick is not reliable enough as they carry Protect.
  • If Murkrow isn’t brought, opposing speed control must be stopped, as this team doesn’t have many protects. This is helped by having naturally fast Pokémon and two Taunt users, but if a Tailwind goes up, its hard to work around it.
  • Dusk-Mane Necrozma often just misses out on the KO on opposing Xerneas with a Sunsteel Strike at neutral attack, so getting chip with U-Turn or Fake Out is really useful.

salamence-mega Victory Road Common Leads

lopunny-mega Victory Road+murkrow Victory Road Lopunny + Murkrow

This is a nice go-to lead for just about anything. Taunt the Crobat if present, if not use Tailwind first turn. Then, even if a Xerneas boosts up, you can either Haze or Encore it next turn. If Xerneas KO’s Murkrow with a Moonblast instead, you have Tailwind advantage for your own Geomancy vs a non-boosted Xerneas.

lopunny-mega Victory Road+xerneas Victory Road Lopunny + Xerneas

Don’t lead this Game 1, as it’s too threatening for an opponent to not prepare for and they could just lead Tapu Lele or Crobat. But without these, you’re golden. I found that Murkrow’s utility in shutting down Crobat makes such an impact, that my opponents would not bring Crobat at all in future games, which gives my opponent less speed control, and saves me a turn of having to taunt it.

xerneas Victory Road+murkrow Victory Road Xerneas + Murkrow

This lead gives a lot of options, as you have the option of switching in a Fake Out user after either setting up Tailwind or protecting Xerneas. Baiting an attack into Xerneas also allows for a nice switch into Necrozma as the tailwind goes up. Then you have Haze to negate intimidates while Necrozma goes to town.

tapu-koko Victory Road+lopunny-mega Victory Road / incineroar Victory Road Tapu Koko + Lopunny/Incineroar

Useful vs scarf Lele and Kyogre teams. Lopunny nails Togedamaru on Kyogre teams, whereas Incineroar is better vs non-Kyogre for the slow U-turn after using Light Screen or Nature’s Madness. Also good vs Yveltal with the non-Prankster Taunt.

tapu-koko Victory Road+murkrow Victory Road Tapu Koko + Murkrow

Lunala teams struggle against this, as Tapu Koko can taunt Lunala despite a Lele switch in and Murkrow can get up a tailwind and not get KO’d immediately.

salamence-mega Victory Road Threats and hard match-ups

gengar-mega Victory Road Mega-Gengar

Even though Lopunny outspeeds and hits it, it’s quite frail, and once intimidated and trapped, it’s not doing much. Gengar does big damage to Xerneas and can one shot Tapu Koko if it gets the poison and wins the speed tie. Necrozma does okay if the Gengar doesn’t have Shadow Ball, but doesn’t want to be trapped if Groudon switches in. At least one of Murkrow or Incineroar needs to come whenever Gengar shows up.

tornadus Victory Roadwhimsicott Victory Road Tornadus and Whimsicott

These Pokémon can get up a Tailwind before I can Taunt them, so a double up of Fake Out + Taunt is needed to stop them if I don’t want to settle for matching their Tailwind. They also threaten set up on my Xerneas.

bronzong Victory Road (Z-)Trick Room

Once this goes up, I only have Incineroar to try and stall it out. Slower primals will out-slow my Dusk-Mane too, and even then I can’t KO them without ultra bursting. Luckily I have been able to prevent all Trick Rooms during my games with this team. Z-Trick Room would have been an issue!

necrozma-ultra Victory Road Necrozma (both forms)

Ironically, other Necrozma give me a hard time. Good thing I didn’t face many! Dusk-Mane takes hits from everything I have except Murkrow’s Foul Play. Dawn-Wings threatens my own Necrozma, and in ultra form, outspeeds my own Necrozma.

tapu-koko Victory Road Tapu Koko

Other Tapu Koko can be tricky to deal with because they outspeed everything except Lopunny, and hit everything for strong damage as I have no counter-terrain or Lightning Rod. Even if Necrozma ultra bursts to resist the electric attacks, Dazzling Gleam variants are an issue.

stakataka Victory Road Stakataka

The Protect mind games with High Jump Kick are scary, and
the Shuca Berry allows it to survive my Necrozma’s Earth Power. Matchup is easier once I know the moveset.

mawile-mega Victory Road Mega-Mawile

One shots both my restricteds if I’ve Ultra Bursted, and I have nothing to block a Sucker Punch.

salamence-mega Victory Road Tournament Run

Now, the tournament itself. I’d first like to say that I don’t tend to make a lot of notes and I have a memory like a sieve, so I apologise in advance for the lack of detail when discussing the games.

Round 1 vs SWE Ikaros Olofsson | WW
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadsolgaleo Victory Roadsharpedo Victory Roadsalamence Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadcrobat Victory Road

Seeing this screams Murkrow. He never brought the Rayquaza or Sharpedo. I was able to maintain speed control by taunting everything throughout the set despite the late reveal of Bulldoze on Salamence. Xerneas had a relatively easy time of setting up and Necrozma got the necessary chip onto Solgaleo so Xerneas could finish it off.

Round 2 vs GBR Peter Carruthers | WLW
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadwhimsicott Victory Road

This was a tough matchup with his Destiny Bond Gengar and Whimsicott. Game 1 went smooth with Murkrow ensuring I had speed control. Game 2, thinking I was safe, he revealed Nature’s Madness on his Tapu Lele, which took a chunk out of my Necrozma before being finished by Kyogre, which I couldn’t come back from. Game 3 he didn’t bring the Rayquaza, so with pinning the Gengar with Necrozma in Tailwind, I was able to set up with Xerneas and win. It was pleasure meeting Peter that day, he’s a really nice guy.

Round 3 vs GBR Anis Haque | LWW
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road

I don’t remember much from this set, having faced a lot of X-Ray. Game 1 went poorly from guessing the moves and items incorrectly. I got caught out by the Mental Herb on Amoonguss in game 2, which wasn’t an issue as they brought Fini, thus preventing Spores onto my Pokemon, and I was able to Photon Geyser it into oblivion. Game 3 I guess went well!

Round 4 vs GBR Harry Louth | LWW
lunala Victory Roadgroudon-primal Victory Roadlucario-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road

I know Harry from our many tournaments in Manchester together, so it was fun yet tough to play against a good friend aiming for their world’s invite too. He never brought Tapu Koko or Incineroar. This was a game for my Tapu Koko. Harry read me throughout game 1, punishing my switches. I even activated the Justified ability on his Lucario with a Snarl, which sealed an already good position for him to win that game. Game 2 was very close, and in game 3 he missed a crucial Meteor Mash on my Xerneas, allowing me to Geomancy and win me the set. Harry played really well, and I was very happy to see him in top cut with me later on in the day!

Round 5 vs USA Ben Grissmer | LL
yveltal Victory Roadgroudon-primal Victory Roadlopunny-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadshedinja Victory Road

Ben and I appreciated each others love of Lopunny, and knew this would be a fun set. Game 1, turn 1, we both lead Lopunny. I High Jump Kick his Lopunny and miss it for the first time this tournament, and he KO’s my Lopunny in return with his High Jump Kick. I did note that turn he was not max speed Lopunny either as his Choice Scarf Fini outsped it. I was able to get in a good position with my boosted Xerneas, but with Shedinja, and having lost my Murkrow earlier, I had no way of touching Shedinja, and forefeited.

Game 2 I was still confident with my Lopunny lead, knowing it outsped his. I needed to preserve my Murkrow for his Shedinja, as I didn’t feel I had room for Incineroar as well, given its poor matchup vs Groudon, Lopunny, and Nihilego. Turn 1 I go for a risky play and unknowingly go for a speed tie with my Xerneas to knock out his Yveltal, but lose it and he gets a Tailwind up. Having lost much momentum I lose the set, as his Groudon outsped my Murkrow even with a matched Tailwind, and so could Fire Punch it whenever I tried to Foul Play the Shedinja. Ben played really well and it was great hanging out with him at the event too.

Round 6 vs GBR William Tansley | WW
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadferrothorn Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road

When I saw I was playing Will I was pretty nervous, as I know he’s a well accomplished player, and he crushed me at a PC in Orpington in 2017. Luckily for me, he was running X-Ray, which this team deals with nicely. The Ferrothorn was probably coming, so I had to bring Incineroar. Game 1 and 2 were quite similar so I may mix up details here. Will played really well, and we had a back and forth of constant switching, U-Turning, and Snarling to position our Xerneases (Xerni?). Necrozma was great as a defensive switch and threatening Nihilego game 1, and the Rayquaza game 2. Both games I was able to position my Incineroar to KO his Ferrothorn with a Flare Blitz, which gave my Xerneas freedom to set up and win.

Top 8 vs ITA Riccardo Appamea | WLW
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadcrobat Victory Roadferrothorn Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road

I was feeling awesome and nervous all of that evening having top cut my first regional. I saw Detective Pikachu that night with other players in the tournament, which calmed my nerves and I had some really useful chats with Lee Provost, Ben Markham, and Jonathan Marston about my matchup.

Going into Sunday, I was feeling ok about my matchup as he had Crobat. The set was intense with Ferrothorn mindgames all over again after my set yesterday against Will. This time he had a Kyogre to protect it, so I brought Lopunny game 1 instead of Incineroar. He didn’t bring it, led Crobat, which got neutered by Murkrow and I won that game convincingly. Game 2 he brought Ferrothorn, and left Crobat on the bench. I brought the same Pokémon, which didn’t work in my favour as Tailwind didn’t help, and Lopunny went down too quickly and I couldn’t deal with Ferrothorn. Game 3 I decide to bring Incineroar instead of Lopunny. I remember the game was really close, and Necrozma was able to deal big damage to Kyogre thanks to being physical. Again, despite the intimidates, my Incineroar could KO his Ferrothorn with a Flare Blitz. GG Riccardo, it was a pleasure meeting you!

Top 4 vs USA Ben Grissmer | WLW
yveltal Victory Roadgroudon-primal Victory Roadlopunny-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadshedinja Victory Road

I was already elated getting to Top 4, and knowing I was up against Ben again, having lost in two games on Saturday, I was not expecting to win this set. Because of this, I was quite level headed and approached the matchup like any practice game on Showdown. I knew I had to bring Incineroar beacuse Murkrow wasn’t enough to deal with his Shedinja on Saturday. However, in all three games he didn’t bring it!

Anyway, in game 1, I led Lopunny Xerneas. He leads Lopunny and Groudon. Turn 1 I read him and Encore his Lopunny as he goes for Fake Out on my protecting Xerneas. Groudon does some damage with Precipice Blades. I was then able to get up a Geomancy quite freely while initmidating his Groudon, and won from there. Game 2, he brought Nihilego instead of Tapu Fini, and managed to get into an endgame with my Xerneas, having KO’d my Necrozma already. And with Clear Smog, Ben won that game. I can’t remember Game 3 very well, but he brings Yveltal, Lopunny, Groudon, Nihilego. I remember hard reading the targetting of his Nihilego and get big damage on it with my boosted Xerneas, and I win from there.

Final vs ITA Alessio Yuri Bocheto | LWW
necrozma-dawn-wings Victory Roadgroudon-primal Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadstakataka Victory Roadsmeargle Victory Road

So I’ve just beat Ben, and I’m feeling really wierd. The atmosphere is really chill because there’s an MSS going on, and we have one nice judge suppervising Yuri and I. Again, I feel really level headed about the match because I’m already happy with how far I’ve come.

At team preview, I’m a bit worried about his Dawn-Wings Necrozma. However, he doesn’t bring it or his Smeargle to any of the games. Game 1 I lost pretty quickly. He made some nice plays early on and KO’d my Murkrow with some Dazzling Gleams from Tapu Lele, allowing Salamence to come in and Tailwind. Groudon clicked Precipace Blades a lot, and I lost.

Game 2, he brings in Stakataka against my boosted Xerneas with Salamence there too. I have a safe Dazzling Gleam plus Earth Power with my Necrozma, but I had intel that his Stakataka carried Wide Guard and probably no Protect. Yuri goes for the Wide Guard, but I Moonblast the Salamence and Earth Power the Stakataka, which lives due to a Shuca Berry. He then brings in Groudon, but my Necrozma is able to clean up comfortably.

Game 3 was a blur, but it ends with my Tapu Koko and Necrozma vs his Groudon and Stakataka. Perhaps not expecting the Nature’s Madness, he goes for the double protect on Groudon having protected the previous turn and it fails, but I target the Stakataka with a Nature’s Madness plus Earth Power, which gets the KO. I think I got a lucky crit or Sp. Def. drop at some point in game 2 or 3, which helped me win one of those games, but I cannot for the life of me remember.

It was really good set and a pleasure to battle one of the best players in the world. GG Yuri, see you in Washington DC!

salamence-mega Victory Road Manchester MSS and Conclusion

I have really enjoyed playing with the team over the past few weeks. I always go for something a bit different, and I’m really pleased it actually worked! The threat list probably isn’t exhaustive, and if the metagame changes much, as it often does, this team may not be as good as it is now.

Having won one of the two MSSs in Manchester last weekend with this team as well, I have become more confident in my questionable teambuilding choices. But I can’t go without thanking the amazing UK and Ireland VGC community for their friendship over the last few years. Particularly Ben Markham, Jonathan Marston, and Syed Tam Husain, who have given me really useful team advice and taught me valuble lessons through the matches we’ve had. Next stop, DC!

Header image by 1-084 on DeviantArt

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