Hello VGC community! I’m Santino Tarquinio (@supah_santi), but you probably know me better as Santi or my Showdown alt “reggie from NoA”. I’m a relatively new player to the scene and 2019 is my first serious year competing.
I’m a pretty big fan of Trick Room teams, and had previously built a hard TR team in Sun Series featuring a Groudon + Tapu Fini core, which was something I enjoyed a lot and knew I wanted to try again. I started building after Dallas and the YvelDon + Stakataka core was still fresh in my mind, so I started there. Incineroar, Tapu Fini, and Alolan Exeggutor filled in the remaining slots. After testing, the initial team was just awful. The team had no offensive presence and couldn’t make the most of its Trick Room turns. I found it difficult to set Trick Room if my opponent had Fake Out users faster than my Incineroar. Furthermore, Kyogre with Ice Beam threatened both of my setters.
Enter Lunala. Lunala solved all the problems my original draft had. It was immune to Fake Out, could threaten KOs with Lunalium Z, and could set up in the face of Kyogre under Sun. Stakataka could likewise set up in front of Incineroar and Yveltal and threaten them with Rock-type attacks. After deciding on my two restricted, I fleshed out the remaining slots. Groudon was equipped with a Choice Band and Tsareena was chosen as the final mon for its utility and typing.
- Collinsville Regionals 2nd Place achieved by Alex Underhill
- Toronto Regionals Top 4 achieved by Alex Underhill
- Greesnboro Regionals Top 4 achieved by Santino Tarquinio
FreddieMerc (Groudon) @ Choice Band
EVs: 244 HP / 164 Atk / 100 SpD
IVs: 7 Spe
– Precipice Blades
– Stomping Tantrum
– Fire Punch
– Rock Slide
The star of the show! Groudon is the main damage dealer, threatening insane damage output with Choice Band-boosted Precipice Blades. A bulkier variant with Swords Dance and a Berry was considered at first, however you cannot waste your Trick Room turns setting up. Groudon needed to be threatening KOs from the moment it hit the field. People joke Incineroar is a Groudon “switch-in”, so enough attack EVs were invested to OHKO the standard Incineroar build 75% of the time. The defensive EVs were to take three Origin Pulses from Modest Kyogre in Sun, two Flare Blitzes from Incineroar in Sun, and Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom from Timid Lunala. Another reason I liked Banded Don was the offensive tools it allowed Groudon to run. Stomping Tantrum was used to get around Wide Guard and could be used as an alternative ground move if I couldn’t afford to miss Precipice Blades. Rock Slide was able to 2HKO most Flying-types and OHKO Ho-Oh if Gravity wasn’t in play. Kyogre/Ho-Oh was the restricted pair I faced the most this weekend, so Rock Slide saw its fair share of use. 7 IVs in speed were chosen to creep other min-speed Kyogre and Groudon.
- -1 164+ Atk Choice Band Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 192-228 (96 – 114%) — 75% chance to OHKO
- 252 SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 244 HP / 100 SpD Groudon: 174-205 (84.4 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
BohemianRhap (Lunala) @ Lunalium Z
Ability: Shadow Shield
EVs: 180 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 68 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moongeist Beam
– Trick Room
Lunala is by far the best Trick Room setter in this format. It’s very similar to 2017 Mimikyu; both are Ghost-type Trick Room setters that can’t be hit by Fake Out and are very hard to KO in one turn. Lunala’s Shadow Shield gives it an incredible amount of bulk, allowing it to set Trick Room in the face of almost anything. Several things drew me to Trick Room Lunala. For one, you’re not speed-tying with other Lunala and, ideally, are under Trick Room, so your MMM goes off before theirs. Running this version also allowed Lunala to run a Modest nature. Most people calc for Timid Lunala, so running Modest meant you could mess up their calcs. Psyshock was chosen to hit Smeargle, Toxicroak, and Amoonguss for good damage. Lastly, my Speed investment. After Alex Underhill’s (@LexiconVGC) run with the team in Collinsville, we began talking and concluded that running some Speed could be beneficial. You outspeed bulky Groudon and Solgaleo outside of TR and it was useful for any potential mirrors. Groudon in particular could be difficult for this team to face, so dealing with it before TR is set up is ideal. The Speed EVs weren’t for anything specific, simply what I was comfortable creeping.
- 252+ SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Xerneas: 198-234 (98 – 115.8%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Lunala Psyshock vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 85-102 (48.2 – 57.9%) — 94.5% chance to 2HKO
WeWillRockU (Stakataka) @ Rockium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 164 HP / 108 Atk / 236 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Gyro Ball
– Stone Edge
– Trick Room
Stakataka was my secondary Trick Room setter and my primary Xerneas answer. Stakataka was capable of setting Trick Room in front of Ghost and Dark-types that threatened Lunala, specifically Yveltal and opposing, faster Lunala. I originally ran an Attack-boosting version to take advantage of my Z-Move, however you NEED the special bulk in order to set up in front of Lunala. Speaking of the Z-Move, this was the big difference between Alex’s version of the team and my own. I preferred Rockium Z over a more defensive item as it gave Stakataka more of an offensive presence, allowing it to OHKO Yveltal and Incineroar (the latter even after an Intimidate). It was so satisfying to call an Incineroar switch-in and just crush it with your Z-Move. Stone Edge was chosen to get the most power out of the Z-Move, but it had its other uses. I wasn’t impressed with Rock Slide’s damage output and Stone Edge was able to pick up KOs Rock Slide simply could not. Enough Attack EVs were given to OHKO Incineroar after Intimidate and the rest was thrown into special bulk. Sadly, Stakataka did not make many appearances during the tournament, but it was very useful in practice.
- -1 108 Atk Stakataka Continental Crush (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 204-240 (100.9 – 118.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 164 HP / 236+ SpD Stakataka: 129-153 (82.1 – 97.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
DontStpMeNow (Incineroar) @ Assault Vest
EVs: 244 HP / 20 Atk / 76 Def / 92 SpD / 76 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Throat Chop
The most popular Pokémon in the format, and for good reason. Incineroar provided a lot of utility the team needed. Fake Out aided in setting up Trick Room and U-turn provided a way to pivot into the team’s more offensive members after it was set, as well as reset weather. Having a proper Dark-type was also beneficial as opposing Lunala could not touch it. Throat Chop was chosen as the Dark-type move because not only did it hit Lunala for more damage, but it also protected my Trick Room setters from Roar. It could also be used to stop Snarl from harming Lunala, however this rarely came into play. Assault Vest was chosen for several reasons. For one, I appreciated the extra bulk. Incineroar could take attacks better from both Primals and was capable of always living a boosted Moonblast from Modest Xerneas. I also wanted to go faster. Having the faster Incineroar gets you the best of both worlds on this team. Your Fake Outs are faster to set up Trick Room and you have the slower U-turn once set up. The speed EVs were chosen to hit a stat of 90, one point slower than min-speed Lunala.
- -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 244 HP / 76+ Def Incineroar: 168-200 (83.5 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 244 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar in Rain: 168-200 (83.5 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
UndrPressure (Tapu Fini) @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 244 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Nature’s Madness
– Heal Pulse
Tapu Fini is Groudon’s best friend on this team. Gravity is crucial in making sure Groudon isn’t helpless against Flying and Levitating Pokémon when locked into Precipice Blades. It also makes Don’s moves 100% accurate which is a nice bonus. Most games revolved around getting Don and Fini in at the same time and spamming Gravity + Precipice Blades. Nature’s Madness was valuable chip that could be used to soften up Pokémon that wouldn’t go down to one Precipice Blades or Moongeist Beam. It also allowed Fini to threaten damage and not be pure support. Haze allowed Fini to act as a softer Xerneas check when I couldn’t bring Stakataka, as well as nullify boosts in general from mons such as Coil Zygarde and Swords Dance Groudon. Heal Pulse was used to keep my teammates healthy, especially since my Groudon, Incineroar, and Stakataka didn’t have their usual healing items. It could also be used to replenish Lunala’s Shadow Shield, which was incredibly handy. Taking attacks from boosted Xerneas was a priority, so most of the bulk went into Special Defense. 0 Speed IVs were chosen to make sure it outsped Groudon in Trick Room.
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 244+ SpD Tapu Fini: 144-169 (81.3 – 95.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 4 Atk Kartana Leaf Blade vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Tapu Fini: 152-180 (85.8 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
Killer Queen (Tsareena) @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Queenly Majesty
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Atk / 44 Def / 220 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Power Whip
– High Jump Kick
– Helping Hand
The Tsareena slot was the one that went through the most changes and some even question its role on the team, but I think it earned its spot. I knew I wanted a Grass-type and also considered Lurantis and Amoonguss, but Tsareena had the mix of offense and utility I needed. Most people stall Trick Room by either spamming Protect or cycling Fake Out. Tsareena theoretically dealt with both by stopping Fake Out with Queenly Majesty and could use Feint to get through Protect. I did end up swapping out Feint for High Jump Kick this tournament, as I felt I was clicking the latter more, but this was the theory behind Tsareena. Power Whip is insanely strong and is capable of OHKO’ing no-bulk Kyogre. HJK was very useful in hitting Incineroar for good damage and made it so I didn’t just lose if my Groudon or Stakataka fell before the Incineroar did. U-turn turned Tsareena into a vital pivot and made it easy to swap my mons in and out with it and Incineroar. Helping Hand was useful in giving my other teammates some extra oomph when Tsareena couldn’t do much else. Min Speed was used to outspeed primals and Incineroar in Trick Room.
- 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 236 HP / 44 Def Tsareena: 150-176 (84.7 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252 SpA Tornadus Hurricane vs. 236 HP / 220 SpD Tsareena: 152-180 (85.8 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
The main goal of the team is to set up Trick Room and sweep with Lunala or Groudon. Lunala is usually the one you want setting Trick Room, however Stakataka should be used if you the opponent has something that hard-threatens Lunala. Once set up, the TR setter can be switched into Fini and Incineroar can pivot into Groudon to get the two in at the same time. Incineroar can sometimes opt to U-turn turn one instead of Fake Out to get Groudon in the minute Trick Room goes up, especially if you call a switch or make a read. Positioning is incredibly important on this team. Most games cannot be won in the span of one Trick Room and you need to be positioning yourself for a second setup once your turns start to dwindle. Having two pivots, one having Fake Out and the other stopping Fake Out, makes positioning that much easier. Keeping control of your weather is also very important versus Kyogre teams to limit the damage output of their whale and to keep your Water-weak mons protected.
Core Combinations and Common Leads+
The most common lead, for obvious reasons. Lunala’s Ghost-typing combined with Fake Out make set up easy in most cases. Always prioritize Faking Out the mons that could potentially stop Trick Room going up such as Roar, Taunt, or Whirlwind users. Most teams only have Incineroar as their Fake Out user and this Incineroar outspeeds most, so you should be able to Fake Out what you need to usually.+
This is usually led when the opponent has a Kyogre. Getting up the Sun early is huge so Lunala is protected from Kyogre’s attacks as it is trying to set up. This lead is also useful if they have the faster Fake Out since you can hard switch Groudon out for Incineroar turn one and protect the Lunala. If they have priority Taunt, Tsareena is kept in the back and used as a switch-in instead. Groudon can also threaten any potential Incineroar leads if you predict them to go for something other than Fake Out.+
If the opponent has a faster Lunala or an Yveltal, you want to be leading Stakataka. The only exception is if the opponent has a Groudon paired with either of these restricteds. Stakataka can take one MMM, so you can safely Fake Out the partner and set-up. Having the faster Incineroar really comes into play with this lead. Throat Chop can be used to stop Roar variants of Lunala. Versus Xerneas/Lunala teams, Tapu Fini needs to be kept in the back to stop sleep from Smeargle leads.
The first thing that needs to be done in team preview is deciding what Pokémon threaten your Trick Room setters. Do they have an offensive Ghost or Dark-type? Do they have a threatening Ground or Fighting-type? Depending on the team composition, sometimes both setters are brought. The rule of thumb I operate on is that if they have Pokémon that hard threaten both setters, you bring both setters. Most times they’ll lead their Lunala answer game one so Stakataka is the setter to lead in these scenarios. Stakataka is more expendable than Lunala, so its role needs to be either removing the Lunala answer or setting up in its place even if it means sacrificing itself. The only exception to this rule is if they have Groudon, in which case Stakataka should never come. This makes teams such as YvelDon tricky, because while Lunala doesn’t like to face Yveltal, Stakataka is useless, so you don’t have much of a choice in bringing the bat.
Leading correctly is key, as with most teams in this format. Do they have a lead combination that shuts down any attempts to set Trick Room? How do we lead to deal with that plan? Trick Room teams rely on speed control; that’s the whole point. Being denied that control can be the deciding factor in the outcome of a game. Knowing when not to set Trick Room is also important. Does their team have a Pokémon that is slow and threatening under Trick Room? Can Lunala nab a KO with its speed advantage before setting up? There are times where the faster threats can be dealt with in Trick Room and Lunala can clean up against the slower mons once Trick Room has ended.
Playing this team is straight-forward. Lunala and Groudon are led with Fini and Tsareena in the back. If they lead Tornadus, switch in Tsareena to stop its Taunt. Most opponents read this game two, however game one they usually go for Rain Dance or Taunt. After setup, pivot into Groudon and start wreaking havoc. If they lead Xerneas, pivot into Fini to Haze away any boosts. Stakataka can be brought to threaten Xerneas if they don’t have Amoonguss, or if you predict them to bench the mushroom.+
Banded Groudon laughs in the face of Zygarde. It takes so little damage and deals a ton in return. Tapu Fini is required here to Haze away any boosts the snake may gain. Incineroar or Tsareena can be brought as the last slot as both have their uses. Incineroar can cycle Intimidate and Fake Out while Tsareena takes little damage from Zygarde and threatens the Fini. Lunala’s Speed investment allows you to nuke the Solgaleo if they save it until after Trick Room ends.
Stakataka enjoys seeing Xerneas and Yveltal together, but shudders at the thought of Landorus. Landorus + Incineroar is a tricky lead to get around. I’ve found leading Stakataka + Incineroar and swapping in Don as you Fake Out the Landorus is the way to go. Don’s goal in this matchup should be to remove the Landorus as Stak can clean up afterwards. Fini should be brought in the back for Gravity, Haze, and Amoonguss support. It’s a tricky matchup to play around, but certainly not unwinnable.
Potentially Good or Bad Match-up+/
Seeing this matchup(s) in team preview stresses me out. Game one is a total guessing game. Who’s restricted are faster? Are they Trick Room as well, or Tailwind? If you have the faster Lunala, it’s smooth sailing, but otherwise it’s a nightmare. This applies to the mirror match as well, and the reason I went as fast as I did with Lunala. If you’re slower, you need to bring Stak and set up Trick Room ASAP. If not, it can stay on the bench. Have fun speed creeping!
Rundown of Tournament
Round 1: Brady Smith (@B_Smiffy) – WW
The first of many Ho-Oh Kyogre teams I would face. He didn’t bring Incineroar game 1, so Lunala was able to get up Trick Room easily. I remember he missed two Sacred Fires in a row, which was very unfortunate. Game 2 he brings Incineroar over Amoonguss, however in ditching his Grass-type my Groudon is not threatened as much in TR. The last couple turns, Groudon gets frozen by Ice Beam, but thankfully thaws the first turn and brings home the win.
Round 2: Abdul Barrie (@Bigslim_World) – WLW
Seeing Abdul’s team in preview made me sweat. I lead Stakataka and try to set Trick Room, but he reverses my Trick Room with his own. This made me question whether his Lunala was slower than mine and my suspicions were correct as I outsped his Lunala later in the game. Game 2 the roles are reversed, and he gets TR up with his Stak. His whale is specs and slower than my Don and he washes away my team. Game 3 I make sure to focus down the wall this time to prevent Trick Room and seal it up.
Round 3: Stephen Crowell – WW
He leads Tornadus + Incineroar game 1 as I go Lunala + Groudon. I predict him to Taunt and not Fake Out, so I go MMM and Precipice Blades for a double KO and go from there. Trick Room gets set up immediately game 2 and I start doing Groudon stuffs. He did a good job of playing around it, however the last turn of Trick Room he pivots his Kyogre into a single-target Precipice Blades and it goes down in one hit.
Round 4: Alexander Williams (@weeblewobs) – WW
I lead Lunala + Groudon expecting a potential Ludicolo lead, but Ho-Oh comes out instead. He doesn’t go for Whirlwind, so I assume he doesn’t have it and I set up Trick Room without a problem. Ferrothorn proved to be a nuisance in Trick Room, especially after revealing Knock Off, but I played around it and removed it with Incineroar before it could do some major damage. Game 2: Kyogre is led this time, and I don’t lead Don. I make a bold move of U-turning to get Don in as Trick Room goes up, and it pays off as he brings back his whale expecting a Fake Out. From there its business as usual as Groudon does its thing.
Round 5: Andy Anderson (@TwiddleDee96) – WW
This match was streamed and can be found here. This was my first time going on stream, and I was quite nervous, truth be told. Game 1 he leads the classic TornOgre lead as I lead Don and Lunala. I switch in Tsareena and set up Trick Room, however he switches in Amoonguss. I make a bad play and pivot out into Groudon as it gets smacked by a Hurricane, then gets knocked out by a Grass Knot next turn. Thankfully, he didn’t bring Incineroar, so I was able to pull it back. Game 2, he leads Tsareena over Tornadus as I lead my same lead. This time I keep Groudon in predicting him to call a switch, and Groudon fires off a Precipice Blades after eating a Water Spout and a Z-High Jump Kick, leaving the whale at low health. Trick Room goes up and I maneuver from there. This time he brought Incineroar over Amoonguss. Funnily enough, Groudon never touched the Incineroar and Lunala was the one that finished it off after some Nature’s Madness chip.
Round 6: Joey Costagliola (@c9_joseph) – WLL
I had gotten word that Kyle Livinghouse was running Xernala + Heatran and was praying I wouldn’t get paired with him. That is a combo my team does not like. Well, I was not aware Joey built the team with Kyle, and wouldn’t ya know it, I got paired with him instead. I managed to take game 1 through some very heavy reads, however games 2 and 3 he didn’t let me pull off my shenanigans and the result was not pretty. He revealed Roar on Lunala and Heatran and I later found out he had it on his Incineroar as well. Joey knew exactly how to play the matchup and there wasn’t much I could do.
Round 7: Alex Arand (@AlexTheRNGLord) – WW
I was one game away from cut and knew I had to make this next round count. I got paired against one of my best matchups, however Alex was no stranger to this team and I knew he would have a plan for me. I set up Trick Room immediately and did my usual Fini + Groudon shenanigans. He stalled out the turns while keeping Solgaleo in the back. However, Lunala was now trained to outspeed these bulkier lions and blasted it with the Z-Move before it could use its own. Game 2 was more of the same; firing away with Groudon and Hazing away any boosts the Zygarde accumulated. The Don brought it home and I was 6-1 going into my first cut as the #2 seed.
Top 8: Allan Martinez (@MandoVGC) – WLW
This was the only Top 8 match streamed and can be found here. Allan was another player who had experience facing my team and had a game plan in store. I lead Lunala and Incineroar as he goes Kyogre and Weavile. I Fake Out Weavile to stop Taunt as Trick Room goes up, but lose Incineroar in the process. Fortunately, this gives me a free switch into the Don. I know his Flying-types are coming in, so I lock myself into Rock Slide and maneuver from there to take game 1. Game 2 I predict a Toxicroak and Weavile lead, so I leave Incineroar in the back to switch it in later. However, he leads Landorus + Weavile instead and I’m already on the back foot. I switch Incineroar into a Tectonic Rage as he denies my Trick Room with Taunt and I’m pinned. Game 3 I go back to my first lead as he sticks with his adjusted one. Same deal; I Fake Out to stop the Taunt as Incineroar is sacrificed to Landorus and Trick Room is set. I once again lock Groudon into Rock Slide, however he misses the incoming Ho-Oh switch as Landorus protects. Next turn Rock Slide connects as I get a double KO with Rock Slide and MMM. Kyogre comes back in so I’m forced to pivot out Don. Lunala manages to remove the Kyogre with the help of Fini but goes down to Weavile as Trick Room ends. This last turn comes down to if Icicle Crash can flinch, and thankfully Don makes up for his earlier miss and fights through it for the win.
Top 4: Alexander Williams (@weeblewobs) – LL
This match was streamed and can be found here. My rematch with Alex was quite the set. I was his only loss in Swiss, but I knew he wasn’t going to make it easy this time, and boy he did not. I predicted him to bring Ludicolo this time around, but expected Ferrothorn to hit the bench rather than Ho-Oh. Game 1, I lead Lunala and Don as he goes LudiOgre. He predicts the Incineroar switch and Z-Hydro Pumps the slot, but Incineroar survives thanks to its vest and Trick Room goes up. However, he manages to outplay me and stall my Trick Room. His Incineroar outspeeds and KOs my Don outside of Trick Room before it can score some KOs. Game 2 I decide to play riskier; surely, he expects another Groudon switch? I go on the offensive and MMM the Ludicolo slot and click Precipice Blades. Ludicolo switches out to Ferrothorn and gets wiped out, as well as most of Kyogre’s health. I’m in a good position and set Trick Room next turn, however once again he stalls it out and I make a huge misplay by not repositioning to conserve the sun and reset Trick Room. Unfortunately for him, he locks his Kyogre into Thunder and we have an intense back-and-forth in probably the most intense game I’ve ever played. It comes down to Groudon surviving a Grass Knot, but the mighty land god falls to the disco duck and my run comes to halt. In hindsight, I should have brought Tsareena over Fini upon learning he intended on keeping Ho-Oh benched, but that’s besides the point. Alex proved to the world he is a phenomenal player and I’m happy he managed to win it all!
I spent a good month-and-a-half building this team and I’m happy to say that it was all worth it. I’ve been wanting to seriously sit down and improve at this game, and I can confidently say I’m a better player and teambuilder after this process. Even if it wasn’t piloted by me every time, seeing the team I built cut the past three North American Regionals feels very rewarding. Shout-outs to Alex Underhill (@LexiconVGC) for talking to me about his experiences with the team after his Collinsville run and helping to improve it even further. I’d like to thank Wolfe Glick (@WolfeyGlick) for his Dallas Prep video series which taught me how to prep and teambuild more effectively. And most importantly, a massive thank you to Jake Powell (@bigguyVGC) for taking the time to help me test matchups and talk through my thoughts with the team. Couldn’t have done it without ya.
Okay, that’s all the time I’ve got! I gotta get back to waiting for Animal Crossing on my Nintendo Switch…
Credit to masae for the featured image