Gen 7 [VGC 2019] 777

zee

when that cold brew hits
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VGC Leader
Luck is a huge deal in competitive Pokemon. It's by far one of the largest factors as to what separates Pokemon from other turn based strategy games, most famously, chess. When preparing for VGC tournaments, you have to keep in mind that you're going to be playing 7-9 rounds of Bo3 Swiss, if not top cut afterwards. That's a lot of games of Pokemon in a day. You might not be given good luck across those rounds, but the laws of the universe mean that you'll definitely be struck by bad luck whenever possible.

VGC 2019 is an extremely aggressive metagame. It's doubles, to start with, and only 4 Pokemon in a single match, but most people already know that about VGC in the first place. What sets it apart from other metagames is the dominance of Pokemon like Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre which are forced to use moves like Precipice Blades, Origin Pulse, and Water Spout, which I think suck. They aren't reliable. At some point in the 14 minimum games you're gonna play in one day, you're going to get lucked. So I gravitated to the restricted Pokemon duo of Lunala + Xerneas instead.

:sm/lunala: :sm/xerneas:

These two have a lot going for each other, both individually and as a duo. Lunala has Shadow Shield, which drastically increases its already solid natural bulk and gives it the safety to survive even stray critical hits or some of the most powerful attacks in the metagame such as Xerneas's boosted Moonblast or +2 Rayquaza Dragon Ascent. Xerneas has Geomancy, letting it hit hard and fast. Hitting first is such a big deal, I really cannot understate it. You have chances to land critical hits before your opponent can strike, you aren't subject to moves like Iron Head or Rock Slide which can rob you of your choice to move, etc. It's a core that really puts the ball in your court, and that's why I've always enjoyed it.

:sm/smeargle:

In VGC 2016, a metagame where restricted Pokemon were also quite good, I got 2nd place at a seniors' (middle school aged basically) regional with an Own Tempo Smeargle. I didn't use Moody because I was afraid of something like an accuracy drop ruining my gameplans. I somehow got to mentioning this to Toler Webb, who ended up winning that regional in the masters' division, the main event. What he said to me in response has stuck with me throughout the remainder of my VGC career: "the boosts you get in the longrun and the ability to luck your opponent is far better than the chance you get screwed over by your drops". It was really simple, in hindsight, since Moody compounds as +2 boosts and -1 drop. Still, I never forgot about it.​


If you haven't gotten the memo by now, basically what I'm getting at is that by using the core of Lunala, Xerneas, and Smeargle, you're taking the game in your hands and then some. You aren't using inaccurate moves like Precipice Blades, you're hitting first and hard, and you're even giving yourself odds to luck your opponent. May the odds be ever in your favor, as they say.

I used this core to get top 4 and 2nd place at two 2019 regionals, respectively. However, those that know me will know two things: the first of those two is certainly not a tournament I look back on fondly, and I will never probably stop talking about the latter for as long as I live. This isn't a warstory though, so I'm going to focus on the team itself for now.


:sm/xerneas:

Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
Level: 50
EVs: 116 HP / 4 Def / 132 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Moonblast
- Geomancy
- Dazzling Gleam
- Protect

Xerneas is the greatest Pokemon in VGC 2019. Despite not winning Worlds or US Nationals, I firmly believe that to be true. It's VGC's queen piece, it can dominate games just by entering the field and exerting specific pressures. The opponent is forced to respect it in the builder and in the game; it isn't enough to simply bluff checks to Xerneas because it will come to the game and steamroll you regardless if you leave them at home. That's the philosophy behind picking the Pokemon of course, but the practicality comes in the form of a couple things: my preference for setup sweepers, because they streamline gameplans, and the ability to cover Lunala's obvious hatred of Dark-types, namely Incineroar and Yveltal. Being a decent answer to the rise of bulky Rayquaza certainly wasn't a negative either. I have never regretted bringing Xerneas to a tournament.

:ss/Lunala:

Lunala @ Lunalium Z
Ability: Shadow Shield
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Moongeist Beam
- Psyshock
- Psych Up
- Protect

I had experimented with different Lunala sets pretty much for the entire metagame. I ran Choice Specs in Sun Series, Tailwind / Roar / Wide Guard / Moongeist Beam during Moon Series, and during early Ultra Series I tried out pretty much everything, like Calm Mind + Roost, Will-O-Wisp, Offensive Trick Room, etc. After NPA ended in early May though, I didn't actually use Lunala on Xerneas teams for a while. I brought Groudon + Xerneas to US Nationals and Lunala + Kyogre to the DC Open and finished abhorrently at nationals and fairly mediocre at the Open. When I returned to Xernala in fall of 2019, I finally began experimenting with Psych Up, and I was extremely impressed with the results. A +2 SpAtk Lunala MGB is effectively a Z-Move every time you attack, which is crazy when you put in to perspective that that means a +2 Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom can OHKO even Specially Defensive Groudon and fat Kyogre. Seriously, I just love this Pokemon.

:ss/gallade-mega:

Gallade-Mega (M) @ Galladite
Ability: Justified
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Close Combat
- Helping Hand
- Wide Guard
- Protect

Gallade was the first of two megas that this team alternated/s between. Being entirely honest, it operated almost purely off of theorymon with my friend Kareem, who won 2019 US Nationals in the Seniors Division using a team I had built. It was similar to the Mega Lucario on that team in that it smacked Incineroar for Lunala, but with Inner Focus upon Mega Evolving, you didn't have to be worried about being stopped by Fake Out or relying on Tapu Lele. The trade off is that you are much, much weaker, but it OHKOs Incineroar at neutral 100% of the time and 5/16th of the time at -1, good enough for this team. I ran two support moves in the other slots because it honestly has no reason to click an attack that isn't Close Combat. Helping Hand does make a big difference with the restricted Pokemon, letting you do stuff like OHKO fat Groudon with Lunala's Z-Move or kill Incineroar with boosted Dazzling Gleam.

:ss/kangaskhan-mega:

Kangaskhan-Mega (F) @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Scrappy
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Fake Out
- Double-Edge
- Bite
- Low Kick​

The second mega this team uses is Kangaskhan. It's a lot more boring than Gallade, but unfortunately it is also probably just better. You're a bit weaker into Incineroar as a whole, but stronger into basically every restricted Pokemon because of the control that you get from Fake Out and Bite, the consistent power of Double-Edge, and even Low Kick to match the fighting coverage when facing the odd Stakataka or Ferrothorn. There's not really much else to say about Kangaskhan though, besides the vastly superior matchup into ghosts like Lunala and Mega Gengar.

:ss/incineroar:

Incineroar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 164 Atk / 92 SpD
Adamant Nature
- Fake Out
- Flare Blitz
- Knock Off
- U-turn​

Boring Incineroar. First off, a brief disclaimer: I'm keeping this RMT faithful to the version I brought to in person tournaments in 2019, but I have since switched to Safety Goggles Incineroar with Roar > Knock Off for a better matchup into Amoonguss. But yeah, it's Incineroar. It gives Xerneas room to setup, pivots into allies to help facilitate sweeps, checks pretty much any physical attacker in the metagame, and even helps check the occasional out-of-control Ultra Necrozma.

:sm/smeargle:

Smeargle @ Focus Sash
Ability: Moody
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Spore
- Spiky Shield
- Crafty Shield
- Follow Me​

I covered a lot of the philosophy of using Smeargle in the intro section, so now I'll try to come back to earth and explain its importance in the context of this team. Smeargle creates openings. A lot of stuff is slower than Smeargle, and unlike in earlier gen 7 years, terrains aren't omnipresent, which means you have far more opportunities to put something to sleep. Spiky Shield and Crafty Shield are used in tandem to protect Smeargle and its partner from unfortunate Taunts, Spores, and Roars. It helps a lot with preserving Smeargle and giving it more turns to generate favorable Moody boosts. Follow Me is then the move you click to spend those favorable boosts, as you dodge or survive attacks that you have no business doing so against and begrudgingly apologize to your opponent for building a team that rewards having a better understanding of Pokemon. Sometimes it's just a sacrificial lamb for Geomancy, and that's okay too.

:sm/crobat:

Crobat @ Mental Herb
Ability: Inner Focus
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 20 Def / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Tailwind
- Super Fang
- Taunt
- Haze

We've finally arrived at Crobat, which I would describe as the glue of this team. It's the speed control for matches where Geomancy (and potentially Psych Up) isn't enough, which normally means it comes to Tailwind mirrors, or the occasional Rayquaza matchup where I need my restricteds to outspeed it before setting up. Mental Herb is to guarantee said Tailwind in the face of Prankster Taunt or opposing Crobat, which has served me surprisingly well. Threatens the hell out of Incineroar + Amoonguss + Xerneas cores too, which is really advantageous. Somehow still managed to throw a regional finals to that core though so...

Conclusion
This team went 13-5 (9-2, 4-3) across the two tournaments I brought it to, netting me 2nd and 24th place, respectively. Since then I've used it in the few times I've gotten the privilege to play VGC 2019 in online tournaments as well. It's a team I'll likely never forget, be that for the results it brought me or just for the fact that Gallade is pretty damn epic. I know that I'm probably the only person on this site who cares about this fairly irrelevant metagame by today's standards so I'll end the team analysis here by saying I hope you enjoyed the read if you chose to do so. Now on to the sappy stuff.

This was my 777th post on Smogon, hence the title + music choice + RMT about a team that abuses luck to a fair degree. I've been contributing to this site for a little over a year now, and I've had so much fun doing it. I'm very lucky be in this position, where I started out this year as an unbadged user and now I'm a SMod and section leader who's had the chance to play in wonderful tournaments like SCL, DPL, and the upcoming Doubles circuit playoffs, as well as host some big tournaments for Smogon VGC like the Smogon Major and VGCPL. There have been a few missteps along the way, and I do think I've learned a lot from them. After all, no one can be perfect on the first try.

Thank you all for making my time on this site so enjoyable, it's such a big reason of why I'm still here. Of course, I have to shoutout a few specific people though.

SuperEpicAmpharos, I love you to death man. Your energy is so infectious, and it feels like you're always there to cheer me on. I love talking to you about fuck all, and I hope you've had a good today. SeaCord is also wonderful, BluBirD252 Waves Monai Xrn and co, thank you all so much for being great people to hang around with even though I have a 10th as much old gens knowledge as any of you at most.

yuki, first off, fuck you for making type out Raineko first. Second off, thank you for being my partner in crime during this whole Smogon journey, don't think I would've been able to pull all this off without you by my side. Additional thanks to the VGC forum crew and DaWoblefet for being such a big help and putting us on the map. Yes, I'm talking about you Giokio Jashsmash

emforbes even though you're probably gonna clown on me for posting this and tagging you, you and the rest of gaz are the reason I work so hard to be good at this game in the first place, I've got some massive shoes to fill. You too Spurrific

UF, umbry emma Nails Z Strats Grandmas Cookin Toxigen Frania Qwello Lee Kristyl Mishimono. Apparently we're all evil or something but I think you're all pretty nice!! Thanks to the DOU mains who taught me a lot about the tier and are probably the reason I got my shot in SCL anyways, even if it wasn't a good one kek

Terrors, I wish I could've shouted you out for carrying me in our winpost but unfortunately things just didn't quite go our way in the end. Sorry if you tagging you like this is cringe but just wanna thank shiloh Gingy for picking me up, Actuarily for being a wonderful DOU partner, and folks like Raptor Accel MANNAT sensei axew lax who were lovely to chat with, hopefully I get into shape and we can team again some time.

Of course, much love to members of the various staff teams I work with all over the site. I've been called a smogon slave dozens of times at this point but it doesn't really feel like work when I get to hang out with people like y'all. And thanks especially to people like martha and mari who gave me a lot of much needed guidance when I was coming up as a user. ausma Lily Eve Kris martha Lumari Coconut Finchinator TonyFlygon shiny finder Nol Kaede Aeonic Zodiax Eisenherz Blitz (rip)

I've probably tagged way too many people but here's just a few more that are definitely worth shouting out, for being good friends or just for whatever, it's my post! maroon Max. Optimizer avarice Abhi chlo lydian Fusion Flare and probably a lot more I'm forgetting.

Thanks to you all, see you next time.

 
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ausma

imperfection is beautiful
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OU Forum Leader
it's been incredible seeing just how far you've gotten here and with VGC as a whole; you're a gigantic inspiration girl and seeing you flourish and your hard work pay off is so so satisfying. it's been great getting to know you throughout the past year or so and i look forward to seeing what the future holds :>
(this team also slaps INSANELY hard holy shit!!!!!!!)
 

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