Hello, friends! It is I, Matthew Jackson. I go by Swaggy McBuckets online, and I have been playing VGC since 2014 Nationals. I’ve loved the game ever since! Being from rural Missouri, the only events I could go to in high school were Regionals within close proximity of me, so I started taking the game a lot more seriously when I started attending Brigham Young University at the start of the 2017 season. This year, I earned enough CP to qualify for the World Championships this summer, making this tournament have no pressure for me, as I am not grinding for the Day 2 invite.
- Top 16 Daytona Regionals
- Top 4 European International Championship (GalacticVGC in the Senior Division)
While the core of Smeargle, Lele, and Stak helped me earn top 32 in the Nashville Open, I created the team the Wednesday before the Regional, and shot up to top 10 on the Ultra ladder Friday night in the airport.
George (Rayquaza) @ Life Orb
Ability: Air Lock
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Extreme Speed
– Dragon Ascent
- 252 Atk Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Crunch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Shadow Shield Lunala: 166-198 (77.9 – 92.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252 Atk Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 252 HP / 252 Def Primal Kyogre: 144-172 (69.5 – 83%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Ice Beam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Rayquaza in Strong Winds: 144-172 (79.5 – 95%) — guaranteed 2HKO
I basically tried to recreate the team I piloted in the Nashville Open and used all of last season. When I tested a lot of variants of the team at the beginning of Ultra, I couldn’t find a Mega that I liked enough, so I scrapped the idea. I felt like I needed the other 5 Pokémon for specific matchups, and I wanted a Mega Evolution, so Rayquaza was the best option. I opted for the Life Orb set, given my Sash was taken by Smeargle, and being able to do around 50% to anything on a switch-in was phenomenal all weekend. I went with the 252/252 so I could maximize damage output, while at the worst I had to risk a Speed tie versus other Rayquaza. Thanks, George!
Jerry (Smeargle) (M) @ Focus Sash
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Follow Me
– Wide Guard
- +6 252 SpA Ultra Necrozma Helping Hand Battery Light That Burns the Sky vs. -6 252 HP / 4 SpD Smeargle: 11980-14095 (99.9 – 99.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Smeargle: 272-322 (167.9 – 198.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
Smeargle is one of my favorite Pokemon to use. The way it forces your opponent to play a lot differently is super incredible in a BO3. The set is extremely standard, as I wanted my Smeargle as fast as possible to abuse Spore against passive and slower teams. Paired with Tapu Lele, Smeargle could get very problematic vs slower teams, especially with an increased chance to get a favorable Moody boost with each passing turn. I preferred Spore this format, because I felt like my team in general did not struggle with Pokemon with Safety Goggles. Additionally, the only relevant Grass type in the format at the moment is Amoonguss, which is heavily threatened by Groudon, Rayquaza, AND Tapu Lele. In my opinion, every Smeargle should have Follow Me and Wide Guard, given how they support against every possible attack move. Instruct is an under-explored move on Smeargle. With only Oranguru as its main user, Instruct doesn’t see a lot of use in the metagame, but Smeargle allows teams to have a faster option. Being able to Eruption + Instruct or Dragon Ascent + Instruct was AMAZING on this team. It’s an excellent punish to passive play by getting two attacks when the opponent only expects one. I’m not a fan of Fake Out on Smeargle because I like the idea of sacking your Smeargle by struggling if you get taunted. Thanks, Jerry!
Newman (Stakataka) @ Metal Coat
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Atk / 12 SpD
IVs: 17 Def / 0 Spe
– Gyro Ball
– Rock Slide
– Wide Guard
– Trick Room
- 252+ Atk Metal Coat Stakataka Gyro Ball (150 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Lunala: 187-222 (87.7 – 104.2%) – 31.3% chance to OHKO (After Shield is Broken)
- -1 252+ Atk Metal Coat Stakataka Gyro Ball (150 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Gengar: 136-162 (100 – 119.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 SpA Lunala Moongeist Beam vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Stakataka: 88-105 (52.3 – 62.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Stakataka: 106-126 (63 – 75%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Stakataka is an amazing Pokemon and always carries its weight in every tournament I bring it to. In the previous formats this year, Stakataka has mainly been a specially defensive set that can tank the Lunala Z-Move. I preferred having the Lonely set, because getting the Attack boost allowed me to sometimes overwhelm teams with Gyro Ball and Rock Slide damage. Metal Coat allowed me to play some games completely differently due to the immediate damage output I would have, as well as pick up surprise KOs that Opponents would not expect. Stakataka didn’t really give this team a TR mode, given the fast nature of the team. TR served more-so as an anti-Tailwind component, as I brought it to the Mega Salamence matchup a lot. Even though I already had Wide Guard on Smeargle, I thought extra insurance versus spread moves would be super nice on the team, and I was correct. Thanks, Newman!
Kramer (Groudon) @ Red Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Earth Power
- 252 SpA Primal Groudon Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 52 SpD Primal Groudon: 176-210 (85 – 101.4%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
- 252 SpA Primal Groudon Overheat vs. 244 HP / 188+ SpD Bronzong: 168-200 (97.1 – 115.6%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO (In Strong Winds)
- 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Primal Groudon: 144-170 (82.2 – 97.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Primal Groudon: 75-88 (42.6 – 50%) — 0.4% chance to 2HKO
Groudon was amazing, providing a fast Eruption for the team. I had a feeling most Xerneas would be on the bulkier end of the spectrum for this Regional, so choosing max Speed Groudon was a no-brainer for me. Also, having a fast Groudon with Earth Power meant that, after any chip, I could KO opposing Groudon. Earth Power and Eruption are both crazy good, so the only interesting move in the set is Overheat. I felt like the anti-synergy of RayDon could work to my advantage with Bronzong TR modes with Overheat. I theoried HP Ice, Thunderbolt, and Precipice Blades as the final slot, but Overheat was just great Fire coverage, especially after Groudon had taken damage that reduced its Eruption Damage. Groudon was amazing all weekend due to its main damage outputs not being able to miss. Thanks, Kramer!
Elaine (Tapu Lele) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
– Magic Room
- 252 SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Salamence: 180-212 (105.8 – 124.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 252 HP / 52 SpD Primal Groudon in Psychic Terrain: 118-141 (57 – 68.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Lele: 135-160 (92.4 – 109.5%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Lele in Heavy Rain: 133-157 (91 – 107.5%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO
Tapu Lele has probably been my favorite Tapu since the Alolan Guardians were released. I love the ability to block Fake Out and the beautiful synergy it has with Smeargle. With its terrain up, nothing can disrupt its raw damage output, and most Pokémon have to take a hit. Tapu Lele was incredible at setting Rayquaza and Groudon up for knockouts. Moonblast and Psychic are in my opinion MANDATORY on Tapu Lele. I feel like you need the main STAB options. Dazzling Gleam was amazing for hitting both opposing Pokémon, and for chip in general. Magic Room is probably the only move that could be changed, but I loved the extra insurance vs Xerneas, and I clicked it a decent amount throughout the weekend. Thanks, Elaine!
Puddy (Nihilego) @ Poisonium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Power Gem
- 252 SpA Nihilego Acid Downpour (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 76+ SpD Tapu Fini: 204-240 (115.2 – 135.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 SpA Nihilego Power Gem vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Incineroar: 104-126 (52 – 63%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Nihilego: 86-102 (46.4 – 55.1%) — 64.5% chance to 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Nihilego: 156-186 (84.3 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO (In Strong Winds)
As I was climbing the ladder a few days before the Regional, I tested SD Fightinium Kart and Dark Z Greninja primarily, but found myself never bringing either to matches. After thinking some matchups over, I accepted that I either wanted a stronger Tapu Fini/Incineroar matchup, or a better Lunala matchup, and I probably couldn’t put on a Pokemon that could have both. I figured I would play more of the former, so I went with Nihilego as the last slot. Sludge Bomb and Power Gem are self explanatory, but Substitute was an excellent punish to a lot of switches the whole weekend. Poisonium Z allowed me to OHKO Tapu Fini and break the defensive backbone of the standard Xerneas/Groudon team, which proved really important all weekend. Thanks, Puddy!
“The best way to live a hit is by having nothing on the opponent’s side of the field.” -Jean-Marc Hébert
This team will play a lot differently than most teams you encounter. I’ve been an offensive teambuilder for the majority of the past 3 seasons, so I build teams that overwhelm the opponent and punish passive play. The team is built to have the mons combo together for knockouts, and to set up the endgames for either a Stakataka, Rayquaza, or Nihilego sweep. Groudon and Tapu Lele obviously will pick up knockouts as well, but they primarily set up their teammates to get Beast Boosts and for Rayquaza to finish them off with Dragon Ascent.
I chose to use Rayquaza Groudon because they are two of the hardest hitting Pokemon in the neutral game. The team is able to overwhelm a lot of under-prepared teams due to the sheer damage output of the two restricted turn one.
Due to the anti-synergy of Rayquaza and Groudon, and the offensive nature of the team, you do not have a lot of pivot potential, so being able to identify your opponent’s potential leads is incredibly important. If you get caught in a bad spot, you don’t have a ton a lot of switchins to things, except into immunities like Lunalium into Smeargle or Precipice Blades into Rayquaza. If you can call the lead right, you are set up a lot better for the endgame. Since the team has so many offensive threats every turn, the opponent has to focus on the present turn a lot more, making them a lot more predictable with their plays and allowing you to exploit them a lot more. This team is all about positive damage trades, and you may have some games where one mon picks up all 4 KOs.
Core Combinations and Common Leads+Anything
Synergy-wise, Lele pairs well with any of its teammates, allowing Smeargle to Spore and adding valuable chip damage for the other 4 attacking Pokemon. Tapu Lele is especially great vs teams without Tapus, allowing it to have terrain control the entire battle.+
This lead is good against more passive teams that you can either spam Spore against, or get a lot of damage off onto before they can disrupt you.+
This lead is especially good in the Groudon/Xerneas matchup, because in most cases, they try to either support the Xerneas or lead Fini Incin, which Groudon/Nihilego with a Tapu Lele switch-in obliterates.+
If the matchup is fairly difficult, I like this lead to allow for the Stakataka to be the last switch in, almost always guaranteeing getting a Spore off. This is also a lead vs Hyper Offensive teams like Necrozma/Xerneas, or teams that get obliterated by Stakataka in Trick Room.
When I look at team preview, I look at which mode looks the strongest vs their team. As described earlier, I try to play to either a Rayquaza or a Beast Boost endgame. Looking at their restricteds, and due to the nature of Ultra Series, I can normally call their lead based on what would look best vs my team. Versus Kyogre compositions I try not to lead Groudon because if they lead Kyogre I’m in a suboptimal position, given I’m max Speed and will set Desolate Land first a lot of the time.
As stated earlier, this team favors positive damage trades, so it’s okay to have some Pokémon die if you get adequate damage chip for your powerhouses in the endgame. Keep this in mind on the lead, and read when it’s the best time to let go of some Pokemon. This may sound odd in some cases, as you usually want to preserve your Pokemon, but letting go of them in order to gain a better board position is better a majority of the time. I define the term as tactical sacking.+
Depending on how dedicated the core is to the Xerneas set up, you have a majority of ways to stop the set up. If you expect them to lead Amoonguss/Xerneas, you CAN lead Tapu Lele/Groudon and click Magic Room Eruption, but I find the most consistent success in leading Nihilego/Groudon. Against Tapu Fini/Incin you can normally Protect and then threaten huge damage turn one. Against Amoonguss/Xern I normally Eruption and Substitute. This play is very safe unless they are Focus Sash Amoonguss. The Poisonium Z hard carries the matchup and is the main reason I ran Nihilego in my last slot.+
This matchup is pretty poor in general, but once you know the full Kyogre set the matchup is more manageable. If they are Origin Pulse AND Water Spout, you can spam Wide Guard against them. Depending on the comp, I like Rayquaza and Tapu Lele always, and then I have Groudon and a Wide Guard Pokemon. You could make a case for Nihilego, but Stakataka tends to be incredible if you remove the Kyogre. If they don’t have a Tapu, Lele and Rayquaza can normally provide incredible damage in the early game.
This matchup is difficult, and I knew that going into the tournament. I find it hard to find an answer to everything in the metagame, so I sacrificed my Lunala matchup for better matchup distribution. This is a matchup where I feel that if they lead Fake Out + Lunala, you’re in a poor spot. If they don’t have that, you can KO the Lunala with Tapu Lele and Rayquaza with any attack followed by Crunch. If they have Fake Out, I tend to go with the Stakataka mode, and I either bait the Z Move or I go with the Sleep method and Spore a majority of their team. Stakataka and Ray can deal a lot of damage vs that team, so I tend to bring both of them to this matchup. I bring Smeargle as well, and the last mon is based on the rest of the team.+
This experienced a lot of early success, and I found that Smeargle, Stakataka, Tapu Lele, and Groudon are the most consistent. Rayquaza is another good option to deal substantial damage to the Yveltal, because it’s an offensive Z-Move variant. You have to be wary of the Taunt and HP Water in the early game, as the Mega Gengar trapping you is super hard to play around. Preserving Scarf Lele is very good in this matchup.
Rundown of Tournament
My friend Joshua Mecham (123e45) and I arrived in the SLC airport at around 1 PM in the afternoon and departed at around 4 PM… from Denver. We then endured a 8 hour layover in that airport doing damage calcs and metagame analysis. After boarding the flight at 1 AM, we took the 3 hour journey to the Orlando airport at 6:20 AM, about 2.5 hours before the Regional started. After booking it to our Uber, flying down the highway, and sleeping around 4 hours combined between the two of us, we made it to the venue about 20 minutes before registration closed. After blitzing through our teamsheets, we filled them out with about 10 minutes to spare and got ready for round 1.
Round 1: (0-0) Megan Chipuau @Chipuau_VGC – LWW
As we sat down, we had just talked about how the weird name of the Regional (Waffles in da mornin’) was and other small talk before the round started. When I looked at team preview, I was pretty nervous about the Tapu Koko’s Z move, as well as her abundance of Speed control that my team didn’t have. Crobat and Amoonguss were super scary, as she could pin me in Speed tiers.
Game 1: I lead Tapu Lele and Rayquaza into her Crobat Amoonguss. I spent way too much time thinking through this play and just decided to attack across. I managed to pick up a double knockout turn one, as she doesn’t rage powder, and gain a commanding position. I play too cautiously though, and I end up losing the endgame when I allow her to win a speed tie with her Rayquaza and don’t preserve my Stak to end up under the sunshine. She reveals Origin Pulse and Water Spout, which is amazing info.
Game 2: I anticipate her to change it up and bring Koko this time, which she does. I manage to overwhelm her team with Tapu Lele and Smeargle. She brings Incin, Tapu Koko, and both restricteds this game, but by the time she gets her Ogre in, I have managed to preserve my Groudon in the back to win the game and use Wide Guard to block her Kyogre’s moves.
Game 3: I expect her to go back to game one, so I lead Ray and Lele again. She stays with the game 2 lead and leads Koko, which I double up into and remove fast. I also end up removing her Kyogre fast enough for my Stak to clutch a 1v2 endgame vs a chipped Incineroar and Rayquaza under my Trick Room. It felt good to start 1-0 and I wished my opponent good luck in the rest of her rounds! She was really nice 🙂
Round 2: (1-0) Justin Frys @RexChaosVGC – WW
Judging by the nature of the team, I assumed that Wide Guard and Spore would be really good in the matchup, but I was worried about Venusaur and Groudon as a lead, so I wanted to bring Ray despite the Mega Mawile.
Game 1: I lead Rayquaza and Smeargle into his Venusaur Groudon. I decide to go for Dragon Ascent and Spore as he switches in his Fini for his Groudon and his Venusaur drops. He told me after that he forgot about the Air Lock mechanic, and I press Wide Guard and Dragon Ascent the rest of the game.
Game 2: I feel he’ll go TR this game, so I lead Smeargle Groudon into his Cresselia and Groudon. I take the risk that he’s going for Protect TR and, not wanting to risk Safety Goggles, I Eruption Instruct and drop his Cresselia. That almost wins me the game on turn one, as he lost his primary offensive mode and brought the Mawile for the end game.
Round 3: (2-0) James Evans @TheKingVillager – WLL
I knew James was on stream round 1, but I didn’t get to catch what he used. All I heard was a standard RayOgre core. I knew he was the Senior World Champion, and in contention for day 2, so I couldn’t take him lightly at all. In team preview, I realize how frustrating this matchup is, and I know how optimally I have to play. His Bronzong mode makes me not want to lead my anti-Crobat mode.
Game 1: I lead Groudon Tapu Lele into his Kyogre Crobat and I make a hard switch into Ray and Psychic Crobat, revealing the Payapa Berry. Fortunately, my Timid Lele outspeeds his Kyogre even in Tailwind, and I take a game by baiting a double up into my Ray’s Protect, allowing me to get more Psychic damage on his Ogre and outspeeding the Incin with my Rayquaza to finish it off with Dragon Ascent.
Game 2: I lead the same thing into his Bronzong Incin and call the switch into Ogre and switch in my Ray to drop the Bronzong turn one. I felt the need to preserve my Groudon, and lose a lot of momentum in the process by using my Stakataka as sack fodder. He was able to pin my Groudon in the late game with Rain.
Game 3: He goes back to the Crobat mode, and plays aggressively with his Ogre early on to give him a huge advantage. I get his mons into Dragon Ascent range, but he made a super smart play and pinned me to where he won with Crobat threatening Taunt and Ogre threatening Ice Beam. Good game, James! I still felt good going into lunch break! I was just focusing on my team and didn’t eat anything. I was super appreciative to chat with my girlfriend to keep calm during lunch break.
Round 4: (2-1) Ian McLaughlin @Simba – LWW
I was wondering if I made a mistake by bringing Nihilego, but I saw why I used it after this set. Ian is also in contention for day 2, so I knew I had to play well.
Game 1: I lead Tapu Lele and Groudon into his Kang and Fini. I assumed his Kang was slow, so I went for a Protect and Moonblast into Fini turn one, which he Faked Out and Icy Winded. His Kangaskhan lived my Eruption, and he killed it with Swagger and Double-Edge. He was able to position his Groudon in very well and have it next to his Xerneas to where I couldn’t kill it with my Stak.
Game 2: I bring Nihilego and Groudon against his Fini and Groudon. I go for Poisonium into his Fini and Earth Power his Groudon, which lives on a few HP. I bring in Lele and go for Magic Room and Eruption, finishing Groudon off. I was able to double the Xern the next turn with Psychic and Earth Power for the knockout.
Game 3: We had the same leads and I Sub and Earth Power, but I get the 6.3% roll on his Groudon this time and win the game turn one essentially. GG’s Ian!
Round 5: (3-1) Jose Mena @jocan3mena – WW
This was another Nihilego matchup!
Game 1: I led Nihilego Groudon and was able to Sub and Eruption in front of his Amoonguss Xerneas lead. The Xern was crippled entirely at that point, and even though he Geomancied, I was able to kill it through Protect as he swapped his Amoonguss out. That basically sealed the game for me.
Game 2: I brought a similar core, and managed to stall out his Tailwind with Salamence. Scarf Lele was frustrating to play around, but I managed to stall out the terrain and tank a Psychic with my Nihi. GGs Jose! You were so nice. 🙂
Round 6: (4-1) James Baek @JamesWBaek – LWW
I got to watch the ending of his set vs Maura Hazen, as he was on stream in the last round. When we sat down, I knew that with the weather support, Stakataka was going to be really good. I knew that with Smeargle support Stak could claim me a win, and Scarf Lele was super nice as a late game option.
Game 1: He led Incin Yveltal into my Smeargle Stakataka. I brought in Lele and Spored his Yveltal as he doubled my Smeargle. With Yveltal at 0 turns of Sleep, I won the game with terrain control and due to the fact he brought Scarf Lele and not Gengar in the back.
Game 2: He led Gengar Incin into my Smeargle Stakataka and called my Smeargle switching out into my Lele. While I did kill his Gengar, losing Scarf Lele gave me a lot of trouble dealing with his Ogre in the end game. Yveltal was able to cripple my team with its powerful Z-Move.
Game 3: We have the same game 1 leads except he Dark Zs my Stak as it switches into Lele and I Spore his Yveltal. He gets a 1st turn wake up with his Yveltal and is able to exert too much damage and support with his Shadow Tag trap. GGs James!
Round 7: (4-2) Alexander Williams @weeblewobs – WW
While I wasn’t absolutely thrilled to be playing a Regional Champion the last round of the Regional, and less thrilled that he is friends with one of my previous opponents, I still felt comfortable with my matchup at the beginning of team preview. I was super worried that his Bronzong was Heatproof, so I knew I needed to pressure Groudon early game.
Game 1: I lead Tapu Lele Groudon into his Hitmontop Bronzong. I Overheat his Bronzong as he swaps it out for Yveltal, dealing about 50%. I want to switch my Groudon out, but I’m worried he’ll hard swap out his Hitmontop into Bronzong, so I raw Eruption and Moonblast to finish off his Yveltal and manage to take game one pretty cleanly as Eruption does remarkable damage to his Bronzong even at -2, revealing he is Levitate.
Game 2: I lead the same thing, but this time he doesn’t lead Hitmontop. I am able to put his Yveltal and his Bronzong to Sleep, while exerting heavy pressure with Groudon’s Eruption spam. The game is over rather quickly and I advance to 5-2! GG’s Alex!
I was anticipating myself to get top 16, and I ended up finishing 11th! I am disappointed I bubbled, but I was happy to get a decent placement in the format for Worlds, so I didn’t have a lot of complaints.
I think Rayquaza/Groudon is a deeply unexplored archetype in this metagame, and I think I was the first person to get Regional or higher CP with the core in Ultra series! I think it has a lot of potential, and the ability to only get better from here.
- @123e45 for the fun trip!
- @GalacticVGC and his father for the housing!
- @blckkkkkk and @TreHoard @SpookyMegamite @FeintGWP and @AegisCave for the teambuilding help and @Frenderman for always being my best friend in the game.
- AND, OF COURSE, @CybertronVGC FOR GETTING ME INTO THE GAME!
See ya at Worlds!