Hello there! My name is Kyle Livinghouse (@AnimusVGC) and I am joined with Taran Birdee (@AuraRayquaza) today to present a team report of a team we piloted for a chunk of the Sun Series. After Taran had some success at his locals and in the Online World Cup of VGC tournament, I thought I might give this team a try in preparation for Roanoke. I knew it had great potential due to the offensive nature of the team and the potent lead combination of Quick Guard Talonflame and Scarf Kyogre. Since this team was built by Taran, I’ll be letting him take us through the team description.
- 2nd Place Orpington MSS
- 4th* Place Virginia Regionals
- 2-0 in the World Cup of VGC group stage
Don’t Talk (Kyogre) @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Origin Pulse
– Scald / Ice Beam
One half of the strongest restricted duo in the Sun Series, Kyogre is able to put huge pressure on the opposing team from turn 1 and can easily put everything in range of a boosted Xerneas attack. On the other hand, it can be kept as a win condition of its own once its checks have all been put into the range of a Water Spout. Bulk had been considered to survive a +2 Moonblast from opposing Xerneas, yet the additional damage output and speed was crucial in practice. Kyle brought Scald Kyogre to Roanoke for the consistent Water-type option, but I prefer Ice Beam to have another way to hit Amoonguss should you need to. You are usually clicking Water Spout and the occasional Thunder so that slot is largely irrelevant anyway.
God Knows (Xerneas) @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 220 SpA / 28 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Substitute / Dazzling Gleam
252 Speed EVs and a Timid nature were utilized for Xerneas to have far fewer issues with opposing Xerneas and Yveltal trying to Knock Off the Power Herb. It can make sets incredibly comfortable if you figure out the opposing Xerneas is slower, or still give you options in the Timid Xerneas mirror. Substitute gives the team another way to deal with Amoonguss, which can be especially annoying without Ice Beam on Kyogre, and also gives you a strong option against Smeargle + Xerneas leads next to Salazzle. I prefer Dazzling Gleam for setting up Kyogre + Xerneas sweeps easier, and I used this at my MSS, but Kyle used Substitute at Roanoke and might be the better option for that slot. For my MSS and World Cup games I ran a far bulkier Xerneas, but I would end up missing important KOs and so when discussing with Kyle before Roanoke we settled on a much stronger spread. The special defense investment lives a Modest Kyogre Water Spout most of the time, allowing you to still set up a Geomancy in the face of Choice Scarf Kyogres should you need to.
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 4 HP / 28 SpD Xerneas in Rain: 172-204 (85.1 – 100.9%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
Not Me (Talonflame) @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 108 SpD / 140 Spe
– Brave Bird
– Quick Guard
– Flare Blitz
The first draft of the team had a Moltres in this slot but after looking at the Frankfurt Regional teams, in particular, Willem Guerts’ and Matteo Agostini’s teams, I changed to Talonflame and it has been amazing for the team. Even with its nerf, Gale Wings is still an amazing ability and gives Talonflame the option to set up an early Tailwind and then faint to quickly gain a strong board position. Talonflame also doesn’t require Rain to be up to spam its Flying-type moves, which lets the team be more flexible in lead choices. This set originally had Taunt over Quick Guard but when Taunt was put onto Salazzle, Quick Guard was a great option for it and one we wouldn’t change at all now. It functions partially as a Tsareena that doesn’t take up a whole pokemon slot and can make a number of leads incredibly unsafe for the opponent, such as Fake Out + Xerneas, since Kyogre can get off a Water Spout without fear of being hit first. It is also great for forcing guaranteed endgames by cutting off the Fake Out cycling option for the opponent. At my MSS I had an Adamant Talonflame that just outsped Xerneas, but we quickly decided to change to Jolly to outspeed Tornadus for Roanoke. The special defense dump then allows it to live a +2 Timid Xerneas Moonblast.
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 108 SpD Talonflame: 126-149 (81.8 – 96.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Pet Sounds (Salazzle) @ Focus Sash
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Fake Out
– Sludge Bomb
After the first 3 members had been chosen, I took a look back at Willem Guerts’ team report and noticed he mentioned that Talonflame + a good Fake Out user gave a positive matchup against Xerneas Groudon Venusaur teams. I didn’t want to risk speed tying with opposing Incineroars so I decided to try out Salazzle having heard good things about it in the UK team discord. Its specific traits made it an amazing fit for the team: it 4x resists hits from opposing Xerneas which is nice given that all our Fairy resists are very frail, the super fast Fake Out gives the team the edge against teams with their own Fake Out, and it is able to outspeed Modest Tapu Kokos which can be annoying for the team at times. Overheat was the Fire-type STAB of choice because other more accurate moves fail to OHKO Assault Vest Kartana in the rain. The 4th slot used to be Encore, but Eden Batchelor (@Xenoblade_Hero) suggested Taunt as a way to better answer Smeargle Xerneas leads, and it has been clutch ever since. Oblivious helps against opposing Tornadus since you are guaranteed to be able to Taunt a Xerneas if you need to.
Here Today (Clefairy) @ Eviolite
Ability: Friend Guard
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Def / 204 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Helping Hand
– Follow Me
– After You / Encore
Clefairy was chosen next as a backbone to an otherwise frail team. While it usually ends up being the least chosen member at any given event, the combination of Friend Guard, Follow Me and Helping Hand can just win games if positioned well next to a boosted Xerneas. It is the team’s only way of dealing with Trick Room, being slow enough to use After You and allow Kyogre to hit hard whatever the field state. Helping Hand was chosen over Heal Pulse because it aids the hyper offensive nature of the team more and also allows Xerneas to get over bulkier Yveltal, removing it before it can Snarl and neuter Xerneas. It also makes Kyogre hit stupidly hard early in the game. Kyle took After You to Roanoke, but I used Encore in my World Cup games and MSS to lock Fake Outs and Geomancies, giving me more room to maneuver. The EV spread minimizes speed to work under Trick Room and can live a Choice Band Groudon Precipice Blades, with a dump in special defense.
- 252+ Atk Choice Band Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 52 Def Eviolite Clefairy: 150-177 (84.7 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 204+ SpD Eviolite Clefairy: 142-168 (80.2 – 94.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Sloop John B (Kartana) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 20 HP / 236 SpD / 252 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Knock Off
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
At this point the team only had one real Xerneas check and only one water resist so, in line with the hyper offensive nature of the team, Kartana was the last member added. Assault Vest is Kartana’s best set and actually allowed it to come in and live a Xerneas Moonblast or Kyogre Water Spout. Once teams have been hit for a lot of damage by Kyogre and Xerneas, Kartana can come in and start snowballing with its Beast Boost, providing another win condition for the team. Maximum Speed investment meant that, at worst, we had a speed tie against opposing Kartana, which was important for the Kyogre Xerneas mirror matches. The HP investment allows Kartana to live a 4 Attack neutral natured Incineroar Flare Blitz in the rain most of the time, while still giving a good roll on living a +2 Modest Xerneas Moonblast.
- 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 20 HP / 0 Def Kartana in Rain: 120-144 (87.5 – 105.1%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 20 HP / 236 SpD Assault Vest Kartana: 118-139 (86.1 – 101.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
In terms of game plans, the team is quite simple. Most of the time you are either aiming to chunk everything with Kyogre early so that Xerneas can get a Geomancy and clean up, or the other way round. If you can position yourself to have Kyogre and a boosted Xerneas on the field at the same time the game is often over, so don’t be afraid to trade a lot of damage or a couple of pokemon to achieve this. Kartana should not be used as a switch-in to attacks, as you almost always need it to be at close to full health to take a Kyogre Water Spout or Xerneas Moonblast in the endgame.
Core Combinations and Common Leads
The best leads for getting big damage early on in the game. Salazzle can deny Trick Rooms while Kyogre throws off Water Spouts, and is generally a good lead against Dusk Mane Necrozma teams. Talonflame can block Fake Outs and match Tailwinds easily, making it a good all-around lead against Xerneas-Kyogre-Tornadus or Ashton/Jeremy teams.
+(Less hard Xern mode)
This is a really good lead against Smeargle + Xerneas, as Fake Out and Taunt from Salazzle gives big headaches to both, while Xerneas can Substitute to block Lovely Kiss. A lot of other times you can put yourself in a position to win with a late-game Kyogre + Kartana in the back, but Talonflame is also a good choice if you see a Toxicroak on the opposing team.
+(Hard Xern mode)
The route to go if you are putting all your eggs in the Xerneas basket. Talonflame can do a lot in terms of helping Xerneas get an early Geomancy, by setting up quick Tailwinds, blocking opposing Fake Out/Prankster Taunts or hitting Amoonguss and Kartanas hard. You typically always bring Clefairy in the back, with either Salazzle or Kyogre as the last.
A more matchup specific lead that can pressure Lunala hard in the early game with a Knock Off past Shadow Shield. It can be a decent option against opposing Xerneas + Fake Out leads to start the game off well with the faster Fake Out.
+ (Ogre Xern in back)
Typically the game 1 lead against Xerneas Groudon Venusaur teams, this lead gives you a really strong foothold to sweep with Kyogre and Xerneas in the back. You have a number of options against most opposing leads and make life really hard for them. This is also a lead suited to setting up for a Kyogre + Xerneas sweep by establishing Tailwind and shutting down opposing speed control, but can leave you vulnerable to a Kartana or Amoonguss in the back.
You don’t often lead Clefairy but next to these two it can surprise an unprepared opponent at times. Helping Hand boosted Knock Off has a chance to OHKO 4/0 Lunalas through Shadow Shield and is a nice idea against Trick Room teams, that don’t typically have good answers to Kartana. Similarly, Helping Hand and Follow Me support can allow Kyogre to shred teams early on in the game.
Can I bring the hard Xerneas mode? Can I Quick Guard to victory? The team is very flexible in terms of leads, but that means that a lot of those leads will have hard counters. You never bring the same lead twice in a row and rarely bring it twice in a set unless it is really good. Being able to switch up your leads effectively is key to getting the most from this team because you really cannot afford to fall behind at all in games or you will just get run over. In Taran’s MSS top 4 match vs Barry Anderson he bought 3 different leads to the set and as such was able to keep him guessing each game and eventually win game 3 in dominating fashion. On the other hand, at Roanoke, I played some match ups such as the set versus Joseph Costagolia in where the leads and turn one would often decide games.
The team has some problem Pokemon such as Amoonguss, and some pokemon that require specific team choices, like Yveltal. Yveltal teams without a steel restricted are great for Clefairy for example.
– Toss Up
Xerneas Kyogre mirrors are generally quite painful to play, and the games are always very quick. Your first task needs to be to gauge the speed tiers between your restricted pokemon and both Kartana. This knowledge will be really big in the following games. Talonflame can be a good lead to match Tailwind with Tornadus since it can’t be Taunted before establishing the speed control. Kartana is a very useful member here since it can take a hit from both Xerneas and Kyogre and retaliate with big damage.
Another option is the hard Xerneas setup core, which involves trying to establish Tailwind with Talonflame early or Brave Bird the Kyogre to weaken its Water Spout. You can then bring in Clefairy and if you can win the 50/50 against Tornadus Taunting then you can get up a Geomancy with Xerneas relatively unscathed and run away with the game. The last member can be either Salazzle or Kyogre, both of which provide strong late game pressure against the Xerneas or Incineroar that might be waiting in the back.
– Hard Matchup
This matchup is almost completely determined by your leads, there is no safe lead for either team so getting it right will be crucial in winning the set. Talonflame + Kyogre is something we noticed has a decent matchup against most possible leads, being able to Quick Guard to get off Water Spouts early and possibly catching your opponent off guard. This is best preserved for a game 2 scenario, where you can really capitalize on information gained in game 1 and possibly steal the set or bring it back with a good early game.
Smeargle + Xerneas is always a problem to deal with, but if you read into this lead then your own lead of Salazzle + Xerneas is a good idea here. You can Fake Out Xerneas and Substitute to block Smeagle’s Lovely Kiss and set up for a Geomancy + Taunt next turn.
Toxicroak will almost always come to this matchup so you need to play carefully around it and remove it as soon as possible, which really frees up Kyogre for the late game. Talonflame is really useful for that reason, and being able to set up a Tailwind at any point of the game can swing momentum hugely in your favor. It is notable that once Talonflame goes down, it can be very difficult to take out Toxicroak, so the Talonflame/Kyogre lead can be risky in this matchup.
– Great Matchup
Game 1 leading Talonflame + Salazzle gives you really good options against most possible leads you can expect from your opponents, such as Xerneas + Incineroar or Venusaur + Groudon, and should typically end up in a win for you. Venusaur is in an awkward spot immediately and the fast Fake Out really helps here, setting up Tailwind can set you up nicely for the endgame so aim for that too.
Game 2 I like to lead Salazzle + Kyogre which catches the natural adjustment of Incineroar + Heatran. If this lead situation occurs you basically cannot lose just by spamming Water Spouts.
I almost always bring Xerneas, Kyogre, and Talonflame in some order, and then lead with Salazzle or bring Kartana in the back depending on which game it is.
/ Anything with a TR mode – Worst Matchup
Terrible matchup since it is usually paired with Kyogre which means you can’t hit it hard with your Fire-types and have to end up activating the potential Weakness Policy. This is only made worse by common partners Amoonguss and Tapu Lele which shut down Talonflames Brave Bird option, making Amoonguss a huge pain too. Clefairy is absolutely necessary here to at least have some presence with After You/Encore under Trick Room. Taunting with Salazzle can help to stall the Trick Room being set up and you absolutely have to find a way to get a Water Spout off with Kyogre to deal big damage to Dusk Mane Necrozma. Kartana is usually a decent pick too against Trick Room modes, being able to take a hit from Kyogre, and basically ignore Amoonguss.
Rundown of Tournament
Round 1 vs Justin Cheverez (LWW)
In the first game, I was caught off guard by Colbur Berry on Bronzong and trick room is difficult for this team in general, so I only got some information from the first game. The next two games I positioned Salazzle to Taunt Bronzong and prevent Trick Room from going up at all. I remember getting a pretty lucky Moonblast crit to keep the second game alive which was fortunate for escaping this matchup. His Scarf Lele attempted to Taunt my Salazzle as well in this set, where Oblivious saved me the first time.
Round 2 vs Andrew Payne (WW)
I was pretty confused by this team and it was over very quickly. It was Scarf Greninja and Earthquake Dusk Mane which was pretty wild. Scarf Kyogre put in a lot of work.
Round 3 vs Whitney Johnson (WW)
I was terrified of a Mental Herb on either Stakataka or Dialga, but luckily they were Life Orb and berry respectively. Froslass also tried to Taunt Salazzle to prevent my Taunt, and yet again my opponent was blindsided by Oblivious. From that point, it was about chipping down Dialga into the range where Kyogre swept the game. Both games were relatively similar.
Round 4 vs Chuppa Cross IV (WLW)
This set can be found on stream here. I went straight for the Talonflame Kyogre lead in game 1, and Chuppa played around it pretty well with some safe switches and positioning. I got a really lucky Sacred Sword critical hit with my Kartana by calling the Xerneas swap out for Incineroar, which allowed me to simply play it safe for the rest of the game. In game 2 I got my Xerneas set up right away, and played overly safe and allowed Chuppa to get the special attack drop with Moonblast. Then Chuppa re-positioned himself to get Smeargle and Xerneas on the field at the same time as I took a knock out while his Incineroar U-turned. From there, his Xerneas swept since it had Dazzling Gleam I could not stall with my Sub or guess where it would target. In game 3, I adjusted to Salazzle and Kyogre as the lead into his Toxicroak/Lunala which was a really bad lead for me so I just went to break the Shadow Shield on the first turn, and the following turn I took advantage of Lunala protecting by double switching and putting myself into a much stronger position. However, after predicting Kartana with a Low Sweep and picking up the knockout the following turn, he put himself on the backfoot since I got Kyogre in for free against Lunala and Incineroar. At this point, I knew I was behind and had to make the call of where Toxicroak would switch in, and sure enough, I called it correctly to put myself in a better position to take a double knock out on Lunala and Toxicroak. However, I let Incineroar and Xerneas come back in for free. The last turn I should have just clicked Quick Guard or switched Kyogre into Salazzle as I risked losing to a Fake out + Moonblast double up into Kyogre, but every other scenario in where he goes for a Fake out + Geomancy, I had the option of switching Talonflame out into Salazzle to reset my Intimidate and close it out assuming I hit Origin Pulse. Otherwise, the set showed how volatile this match up was as it came down to a few calls and leads.
Round 5 vs Abdul Barrie (WW)
This matchup was very much in my favor, as the simple lead of Salazzle + Xerneas put on immense pressure as his Solgaleo was his only decent answer to Xerneas. Once I found out that the Incineroar was Assault Vest I did not have to worry about playing overly safe with protects and substitutes, which I took full advantage of in order to reposition stronger in the second game.
Round 6 vs Justin Burns (WLL)
I don’t remember much about this set, aside from feeling pretty far behind in the first game in that he kept attacking with Lunala as I would safely Taunt it. However, with a few calls, I realized Kartana had a really good shot at sweeping once Incineroar went down. I took the first game but I revealed basically everything. The second game he went Lele Lunala and he tried to catch my Xerneas going for Geomancy with a Scarf Tapu Lele Magic Room, and while I just attacked I also let him knock out Salazzle since the Focus Sash was also nullified, and the following turn it was a good call on him to get up Trick Room soon afterward thanks to my walking into the obvious Incineroar switch. In the third game, I remember playing it safe with Taunts again, however, he ended up living on a sliver of health with Lunala from my +1 Kartana knock off in the end game in, and I did not pick my targets correctly, allowing him to take the set.
Round 7 vs Paul Chua
This was not the pairing I wanted to see, but I don’t think Paul was ready for Kyogre + Talonflame, as I basically lead it both games and made the right calls in the first couple turns. The second game I doubled his Kyogre with a Brave Bird + Water Spout, taking it out instantly as he questionably protected with his Tornadus, which put me in a very strong position. Both games Kartana did a lot of work in the end game once Tornadus finally fell.
Top 8 vs Joseph Costagolia
This set can be found on stream here. I did not want to play Joseph as the matchup is weird and he had my paste since we prepared for this event together. Game 1 went perfectly as he forfeited on turn 2. The second two games came down to leads and some reads. The second game opened perfectly as I misclicked Geomancy while he switched out Smeargle. However, I played too safe and let him get a special attack drop, similar to the situation with my swiss set against Chuppa. The third game I was misled on misinformation in that I thought he had no Wide Guard, and I thought the set was instantly over. However, I made the correct sack and positioned my own Xerneas to get a Geomancy, but he revealed Roar on Incineroar, another move I did not have him running from what I thought was his paste. I learned a lot about preparing for top cut in that you have to be 100% sure about any piece of information before you can assume it, and sometimes it can be better to just play it out without much preparation at all.
Overall it was hard to see Joseph get disqualified as I bombed the MSS as well, and the extra bit CP was not worth it as I didn’t earn it at all. I’m still pleased with my result and will come back stronger in the future. Now that sun series is essentially over at the time of this report’s release, I can say with certainty it was the strongest team I used in the format despite its shortcomings. I have to give a huge shoutout to Taran for not only building this team and allowing me to use it but also writing a lot of this report for me. I’d also like to thank the c9cult, 3 AM builders and anyone else who helped me along the way, thank you!
Credit to Simon Finizio for the featured image