Hello everyone! My name is Flavio Del Pidio, and I am the Champion of the European Internationals, which took place in Berlin, in April 2019. Through this report, I am going to discuss the team I chose to bring alongside the tournament itself.
The International Championships for Pokémon happen four times a year for every competitive season, located in four different parts of the world; Europe, Australia, South America and North America. They are very big tournaments and are very important events for players to meet the ultimate objective; making it to Day 2 for Worlds.
Choosing the Team
As far as the team goes, I chose X-Ray, an archetype surrounded by Xerneas and Rayquaza, two powerful Pokémon. I chose this archetype after having tried various archetypes (without the results I hoped for), I decided to go with X-Ray as I knew how to use it best since VCG 2016. X-Ray provides a wide variability of Pokémon that you can play within the archetype.
The Team Building Process
The team has always had four set Pokémon; Xerneas, Rayquaza, Incineroar and Amoonguss. The idea is to use Xerneas with the best support, which are Incineroar and Amoonguss, alongside a Rayquaza with a very bulky AV that covers some major weaknesses of our team. Rayquaza is excellent because he always takes the weather from Primal Kyogre, evening out his damage and neutralizing the immunity that Rain gives Pokémon such as Ferrothorn, that are annoying to go up against. By removing Sun, you will nerf Groudon, his fire-type moves and will also render him vulnerable to Tapu Fini’s Scald. Scald will inflict substantial damage, and in the case of Bulkless Groudon, will take the OHKO.
Thanks to the moves Crunch and Earth Power, my Rayquaza is able to offer complete coverage against the majority of archetypes of the Metagame, giving offensive support to Xerneas. Earth Power gives the KO to Stakataka, except in the case of Shuca Berry (which in that case Amoonguss can send him to Sleep or redirect the attack). Besides, it proves itself useful even when heavily damaging the different Groudon. Crunch is useful for dealing heavy damage to Lunala and deals good damage to Ultra Necrozma and Bronzong. Either way, both Earth Power and Crunch are good moves to deal heavy damage, especially against the opposing Mega Gengar.
Initially, the team other than the four mains were made up of Tapu Fini and Ditto. With this version, it saw Ditto with Red Card (very useful in mirroring Xerneas), and helped me place Top 8 in the Zelda Challenge (Ultra Series) at the end of March. Subsequently, I tried a version with Tapu Koko (with Electrium Z) in place of Tapu Fini. Thanks to Earth Power from Rayquaza it became easy to get rid of opposing Togedemaru’s and Tapu Koko becomes a winning card against a big part of the metagame. The core team is formed by Xerneas, Rayquaza, Incineroar, Amoonguss, Tapu Fini and Nihilego. I wanted to re-add Tapu Fini, because it helps a lot against opposing Groudon.
Nihilego revealed it’s calling for the meta; it is an effective answer to mirror the Xerneas and many teams it faces during the tournament were not prepared for this Pokémon. This is the version of XRay that adapts majorly to my style of play.
Analysis of Team
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 188 HP / 180 Def / 68 SpA / 12 SpD / 60 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
Rayquaza @ Assault Vest
Ability: Air Lock
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 20 Def / 76 SpD / 164 Spe
– Dragon Ascent
– Extreme Speed
– Earth Power
With 164 EVs in speed, after the mega evolution it outspeeds Timid Nihilego.
Nihilego @ Rockium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 52 HP / 20 Def / 196 SpA / 4 SpD / 236 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Power Gem
– Clear Smog
Amoonguss @ Mental Herb
EVs: 236 HP / 180 Def / 92 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 2 Spe
– Grass Knot
– Rage Powder
Incineroar @ Iapapa Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 28 Def / 244 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Fake Out
I opted for Incineroar with minimum Speed to be able to U-Turn after the other Incineroar, and given that the Nature doesn’t jeopardise the Special Attack I chose Snarl a Dark STAB move, that allows even Gengars with substitutes to be in a tricky spot.
Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 116 Def / 4 SpA / 76 SpD / 68 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
– Light Screen
This is a favourable matchup, and I never lost against XernDon in the course of the tournament. The plan against this archetype is simple enough: lead Tapu Fini and Nihilego as they serve to give maximum coverage to every possible opposing lead set. If they have the intention to play Xerneas with relevant support, the strategy can easily be neutralised by the lead. In the case that they decide to play Groudon, this can always be threatened with a switch in Rayquaza and a Scald from Tapu Fini. In whole, the objective is to find a KO for Groudon in such a way that it leaves you free to deal with Nihilego.+
I suggest you approach the match-up like it is a XernDon. Usually, other types of Xerneas teams are easier to deal with because they don’t have just Groudon – the Pokémon that most threatens Nihilego. Try to eliminate anyone who eliminated Nihilego as soon as possible.++
I cited these three to cover the most common YvelOgre as well as RayOgre match ups, which I classify as neutral. Both of the teams have their own win conditions and it is necessary to play better than the opponent.
Going more into detail, leading Rayquaza and Incineroar is needed to handle leads like Mega Gengar in the best possible way. These matches are really tight – you have to pay attention to many particular details. It is very important to remember that Mega-Gengar traps, and in turn you have to ensure to not to ever be trapped with Pokémon that the opponent wants you to be stuck with.
Either way, the team has good responses against these types:
- Incineroar with Snarl to give trouble to Gengars with Substitute
- Amoonguss Mental Herb to neutralize Taunt and putting Gengar to Sleep (or his partner, that can make you win the match with the incredible momentum it produces)
- Rayquaza goes to damage Gengar, can kill Stakataka and damage Kyogre
The team is well prepared for this type of match; Xerneas needs to enter in the right moment in the late game, when the opponent has lost the appropriate responses to Geomancy.+
I classify this as a favourable match-up, even if a long game will come from it. The strategy is to try to limit the damage and trying to neutralise the components most offensive in the opposing team, thanks to Light Screen and Icy Wind as well as Rayquaza’s Assault Vest. Once “broken”, their initial offensive momentum signals for the entry of Xerneas and to try to set up.+
I classify this as one of the more favourable match-ups for my X-Ray, in that the opponent finds great difficulty in dealing with a Rayquaza with AV, that can deal hard hits. Alongside it, an Incineroar that can not only neutralizes Lunala, but also nerfs the damage from Groudon, who is always threatened by the water moves of Tapu Fini. The opponent also has to think about Xerneas, that when boosted in the right moment and alongside the other components of the team, completely shatters LunaDon.
Rundown of Tournament
Unfortunately, I got myself in quite a pickle, so I’ll tell you the truth; I don’t take notes whilst I play because it only distracts me, and I lose concentration from the game at hand. It is most definitely my personal choice, and if you’re more comfortable taking notes definitely do it, but I tried to memorise everything during the match.
Since the tournament TPCI has removed the link with the pairings of the tournament and I don’t exactly remember the names of who I versed and the exact order in which I met them. So I will briefly tell you how Day 1 went and I’ll try to remember as well as I can the events of Day 2. Top 8 I shouldn’t have any issues.
I came to this tournament pretty calm, the goal being to place well and accelerate myself for Day 2 at Worlds. My Internationals started well, just as I had expected: I knew I had taken a good team with me that I am good at playing.
I won the first 7 of 9 Swiss rounds consecutively, and I got definite entry into the Day 2 of the IC. The final two rounds, that I lost both of, left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, because in those moments I had thrown away a big chance to maximise my points in sight of the next day. So, I finished off the Day 1 Swiss with a final score of 7-2. Regardless of the slippery slope that was the end of Day 1, the Saturday morning I arrived to the tournament very relaxed, thanks to my friend Valerio Puccio, whom reminded me many times that if I managed to score 7-0 the previous day, it was definitely possible for me to get 5-0 this day. And here starts Day 2;
Round 1: Miguel Pedraza Caballero – LWW
I had already played against him during Day 1 and I won 2-0. He knew that continuing play with Mega-Gengar would not have let him win and he decided to completely change his strategy, starting aggressively with Mega-Rayquaza and Kyogre. I can’t manage that lead, having myself led assuming he would lead with Mega-Gengar, and I lost Game 1. In the 2nd and 3rd Games came my response; I thought that if the opponent hadn’t brought Gengar he would have had a harder time handling Xerneas in the lead. It was like this that I was able to flip back the results.
Round 2: Nick Navarre -WW
In Game 1 I suspected a lead against Xerneas, and in fact he lead with Necrozma and Crobat, so in response I took Rayquaza and Incineroar. I knew that he had Substitute on Necrozma, and I went immediately to inflict heavy damage to him with the help of Rayquaza’s Crunch. I didn’t immediately try a KO on Crobat as to not give him the free switch in under Tailwind, I moreso left him on the field as dead weight. In Game 2 he started with Kangaskhan and Amoonguss whilst I started with Xerneas and Incineroar. I read all of his plays, such as Fake Out and Spore directed into the slot of Incineroar, and I immediately set up Xerneas. In the second turn I predicted the Spore again for the same slot and I left Incineroar and attacked with Xerneas; but even the advantage gained wasn’t able to save the match.
Round 3: Fabian Braun – WW
He was another of the players I faced and beat 2-0 Day 1, and it was a simple enough match. I played like I usually do against XernDon and he wasn’t able to handle Nihilego once he was taken away from Groudon.
Round 4: Yuya Tada – WW
Another relatively easy match, it had only a few hits against Nihilego and it took preserving it well enough to then start clean-sweeping his team. In Game 2 I remember having played Xerneas and let myself have the free Switch-in Nihilego; the pressure of this last one as well as a Xerneas boosted had totally annihilated the opposing team.
Round 5: Alessio Cremonini – WW
His only real bit of pressure on my Xerneas was his Nihilego (having with him Substitute), but thanks to my AV Rayquaza I threatened him very easily with Earth Power. The Game plan for the match was to find a way to KO the opposing Nihilego as soon as possible to clear the path for Xerneas.
At the end of the day, I really did end up winning 5-0 for Day 2 and I guaranteed myself entry to Top 8 in the Internationals!
Top 8: Christian Cheynubrata – WW
Top 4: Melvin Keh – WW
Finals: Davide Carrer – LWW
For these 3 matches in the Top Cut I recommend you go watch the official streams from the Pokémon Twitch channel, to see in detail how I played them.
I hope that you were all able to comprehend and learn a lot of what there is to know about my team by reading this report. I apologise again for the lack of detail for the Day 1 tournaments.
We will see each other again, and until then a big hello and goodbye from Flavio Del Pidio- or for you more loyal fans; Naruto!