Translation by @TamtamVGC (if you find any errors, feel free to DM me!). Big thanks to @vivalavlade for helping me out with sections I was uncertain about. Original team report by @hirosipoke (Kimura Hirofumi).
Hello, Ka’El here.
Following up on last years’ Japanese Nationals, I managed to win in 2019 as well. I want to thank all the people who supported me and who congratulated me. I’ve never been happier.
This time, I finished 5-2 after the Swiss rounds, ending in 17th place and qualifying to the next stage of the tournament. In cut, I went 10-4 and ended up in first place, so in total, SolgRay went 15-6. Last year, the win-loss ratio that netted me first place was almost impossibly high, but this time the wins and losses went back and forth, and I only won after a great struggle. I just barely managed to win both times, but they were truly passionate battles.
Table of Contents
The aim of the team
For Japan Nationals, my objective was to ensure the team I was creating would have an advantage against XRay / RayOgre / XernDon. I saw these 3 archetypes leave behind many notable results, both in Battle Spot and at overseas tournaments, and given their strength I made the conclusion that many people would be bringing them to Japan Nationals as well.
Choosing the core of the team
When I started deciding on team members, the first thing I wanted to focus on was having Xerneas counters. By looking at the results from VGC16 and my results in Sun as well as Moon series when trying to come up with a counter, I reached the conclusion that a Steel-type that can use Trick Room would be most optimal. (During Sun I used Stakataka, and during Moon I used Dialga.)
The Steel-types that could use Trick Room which popped into my head were Bronzong and Stakataka, but I decided against using either of them. The reasons were the following:
- In Bronzong’s case, Incineroar, which is so good that I could be certain it would be used against it, could use Intimidate to lower its damage. This makes it easy for Bronzong to be sidelined. It is also easily KO’d by Incinium Z.
- Stakataka has greater Attack, but even in this case, Incineroar’s Intimidate lowers it. With the increase in Ground-type moves being used by Pokémon such as Rayquaza, Stakataka became more difficult to use. If you use Shuca, then you instead end up being helpless against Amoonguss.
Therefore, my choices were narrowed down to the restricted Steels Solgaleo, Dialga, or Dusk Mane Necrozma, but with Dusk Mane Necrozma being a physical attacker, it was vulnerable to being Intimidated by Incineroar as well. Conversely, if they’re special attackers, I figured they can’t really threaten Xerneas and would be unsuitable as counters, so I said goodbye to using them.
My original choice was Dialga. I had an attachment to it since I always used it in Sun/Moon series, but thanks to its typing, it was also strong against RayOgre, so I decided it was best against the 3 meta archetypes. After testing Dialga-based teams, I found that Tapu Fini’s ability to set up Light Screen and cut the damage of Dialga’s Dragon-type moves in half thanks to Misty Terrain was a major issue that couldn’t be solved, so I rejected it. For reference, you can see the teams of the Dialga team below:
As a result, the only thing left was Solgaleo. I knew it would be overwhelmingly strong against Xerneas teams, but I thought it couldn’t really beat anything else, so I was hesitant to use it. However, as I used it, I noticed it had these strong points:
- It’s strong not only against Xerneas, but also against Rayquaza
- A physical attacker whose Attack can not be lowered is quite effective in the current meta
- It has good bulk with no 4x weaknesses, so it can reliably set Trick Room
Since Incineroar’s Intimidate does not work on it, the pressure exerted onto the opponent is always unchanged. With the top 3 archetypes all having Rayquaza or Xerneas on them, I became convinced that using Solgaleo was not a mistake.
Choosing the supporting cast
From here, deciding on the team up to its fifth member went relatively smoothly. First, the second member was chosen to be a restricted that had excellent synergy with Solgaleo and that was strong against both the Primals that Solgaleo was weak to + that could check them—Rayquaza.
Then, I chose the duo that had seen use since the start of Ultra series, which was fantastic at controlling the board and which complimented Solgaleo/Rayquaza perfectly—Incineroar and Tapu Fini.
The fifth member exerted great pressure against RayOgre, as well as being strong against Yveltal, which the current four members struggle against—Tapu Koko. I felt leading with a Pokémon that could set Trick Room alongside Tapu Koko was a particularly strong play and something I noticed from Sun/Moon series, which was one of the main reasons I chose Koko.
However, searching for the perfect member for the sixth spot took up quite some time.
How I arrived at Gastrodon
While I searched for a Pokémon that would be an appropriate fit for the above 5, I realized what role I wanted the sixth slot to fill.
- It needed to be strong against Mega Gengar and the Primals
- It needed to be able to swiftly deal with Mega Metagross / Solgaleo. Few Pokémon can threaten these two, so mirror matches would be difficult to win (especially at this phase of the meta).
And so I searched for a Pokémon that fulfilled the above criteria. As Mega Gengar / Primal Groudon / Mega Metagross / Solgaleo are all weak to the Ground type, I quickly realized that I should be using a Ground-type Pokémon.
What I used at first was . With a Choice Scarf, it could pin Mega Gengar with Stomping Tantrum, and Huge Power Foul Play gave you a good chance of dealing with Solgaleo / Mega Metagross; these were the points in its favor. Foul Play could even OHKO most Ultra Necrozma, I’m sure.
However, when Mega Gengar is paired with Intimidate support, Diggersby can no longer OHKO it. When I also realized it had a poor matchup against Gengar + Kyogre after all, I discarded it.
What I used next was . With a Special set, it could one-shot Mega Gengar regardless of Intimidate, and I figured that it could do decent enough damage against Kyogre with Grass Knot.
Ultimately, it turned out that while it was certainly strong against Mega Gengar, it did almost nothing against the Kyogre it was partnered with, so the idea was discarded. I acknowledge that Grass Knot can chip Kyogre, but Landorus could only 3HKO it while being OHKO’d in return, which was a weak point.
When I reflected on what I’d learned up until then, I concluded the ideal sixth member needed to 1) be a Ground-type, while also 2) being strong against Primal Kyogre.
With it needing to be a Ground type, being weak to Water types was unavoidable, so there was no choice but to look at Abilities which might protect from them. And so, the choice came down to Seismitoad or Gastrodon. When I compared the two, I noticed that
- There was no great difference in terms of damage output or bulk
- When taking a Water-type attack, Seismitoad recovers health, whereas Gastrodon increases its Special Attack
- Under Trick Room, the slow Gastrodon performs better
Ultimately, the reason I chose to go with Gastrodon was due to the benefit it received from taking Water-type attacks. Both Sesimitoad and Gastrodon have a base Special Attack below 100, which is not an impressive number by any means, so I decided that rather than recover health when taking Water-type attacks, I’d rather exert pressure by increasing my damage. Moreover, even if a Pokémon with Seismitoad’s meagre bulk recovers 1/4 of its HP, it’s rarely the deciding factor in a game, so there was also that.
Completion of the team
… and that’s how I decided on my team. The result was a team strong against XRay / RayOgre / XernDon, and with that goal reached, the team was complete. With SolgRay being strong against major meta teams while not being a target of the current meta, I gather that that, too, made it feel all the more complete.
A somewhat favorable matchup. Keep in mind that Solgaleo is used to take on Xerneas and Salamence, whereas Mega Rayquaza can take on Primal Groudon and Incineroar. If Solgaleo goes down, Xerneas is quite likely to be able to run amok, and the same goes for Primal Groudon if Rayquaza goes down, so it’s important to keep track of the HP of these two Pokémon.
I usually pick Tapu Fini as the fourth member, but if the opponent’s team has Mega Gengar, you can bring Gastrodon instead.
A favorable matchup. Solgaleo is incredibly strong against both opposing restricted, so take care to make sure Solgaleo does not go down, even if it requires you to sacrifice Mega Rayquaza. Support Solgaleo with all your power using Incineroar’s Intimidate / Snarl and Tapu Fini’s Light Screen / Heal Pulse.
Don’t bring: N/A
It may seem like a disadvantageous matchup, but it’s actually somewhat in your favor. Bring Solgaleo and Tapu Koko, and then, after seeing the opponent’s lead,
- Go for the Trick Room mode by switching Koko for Gastro, or
- Switch Solgaleo for Rayquaza and go for dominance via speed
Being able to choose between these two patterns of play is quite strong. The fourth member depends on the opponent’s team. If they have Ferrothorn or Celesteela, bring Incineroar, and if they have Bronzong, bring Tapu Fini.
An unfavorable matchup. Since the opponent will usually lead Incin Gengar, I answer that by leading Incin Gastro.
Ideally, you want to deal with Yveltal as quickly as possible to allow Rayquaza free reign, but if Rayquaza goes down to Gengar’s Perish Song, your win condition disappears. So in addition to quickly disposing of Yveltal, you should preferably play in such a way that you are also able to deal with Gengar at any time.
You may be tempted to think that Tapu Fini would be a good choice based on the fact that YvelOgre can’t threaten it, but its forte is in positioning battles, which Mega Gengar puts a stop to. On top of that, Sludge Bomb lets Gengar take down Fini, so you can’t really bring it.
Neither unfavorable nor favorable, this is a neutral matchup. Neither of the opposing restricted can easily break through AV Mega Rayquaza, and since Mega Rayquaza is able to 2HKO both of them, thinking about how you maneuver in this matchup will be important.
Usually, the opposing team will have Tapu Lele and Salamence, so against those opponents, Solgaleo can be chosen and its Trick Room can be used to counter Tailwind.
Owing to all the Juniors, Seniors, and everyone else who helped me with refining the team and whom I consulted when teambuilding before Japan Nationals, I became the Japanese Champion for the second time in a row. Thank you so much. Even I’m surprised—I never thought I would rise to the top of the same stage again.
I have no intention of bringing this SolgRay variant to this year’s World Championships. At last year’s World Championships, I brought the CressQueen that I won that year’s Japan Nationals with (although I used Nidoking), but I finished with a very vexing score of 1-3. People start to develop better gameplans and get better at playing against teams which leave a significant result behind, so of course it becomes more difficult to win with the same team down the line.
I’ll make a team from the ground up again, and I think I’ll be able to create the best team in the world.
I’ll be doing my best this year as well!!!