My name is Angel Miranda, and after being mostly inactive in the scene for the past few years, I came back and earned a Top 4 finish at the Pennsylvania Regional Championships. Once the ruleset for the 2019 VGC season was announced, I knew I wanted to play VGC more actively, so I booked my trip to both Pennsylvania and Portland Regionals and my comeback to the VGC scene began.

Leading up to the tournament I decided I needed to take testing for the upcoming regionals more seriously, so I went to a few friends and started testing a bunch of teams. After about 2 weeks of testing, the one core that stood out to me was the combination of Groudon + Venusaur which my friends Enosh Shachar and Nick Navarre got me hooked on, and from then on I would only try out teams that had those two Pokemon on it. I spent weeks laddering on the Pokemon Showdown ladder using a Groudon + Solgaleo team given to me by Enosh and a team Nick gave me which had Groudon, Xerneas, Venusaur, Heatran, Incineroar, and Tapu Fini.

I liked the team Nick gave me, but it had two major problems that I needed to resolve before it was ready for Regionals: Tapu Fini never accomplished anything in the games in came to, and a properly positioned Choice Scarf Kyogre was difficult to handle. My knee-jerk reaction to these issues was to replace Tapu Fini with Assault Vest Ludicolo, but immediately after I made that change, players on the ladder started using Kyogre with Crobat and my Ludicolo idea felt useless. Despite this issue, I felt like I would be bringing this team to the Regional regardless because I had felt lost with any other archetype, and I was comfortable using Groudon and Venusaur. Upon arriving to my hotel the night before the Regional would take place, a good friend of mine, Kimo, suggested I put Assault Vest Kartana over the Tapu Fini slot. I immediately felt like this change would fill a hole in the team. I had my friend Jonathan Evans help me with the Kartana EV spread, and the team was complete.

The Team

Groudon
Groudon @ Choice Band
Ability: Drought
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 140 SpD / 108 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Precipice Blades
- Stomping Tantrum
- Rock Slide
- Fire Punch

First up is the Groudon. Enosh told me about how good Choice Band Groudon was, and I was certainly not disappointed. Choice Band allows Groudon to put out tremendous offensive pressure and to not be too hindered by Incineroar’s Intimidate. If left unchecked, Groudon can simply dismantle teams by itself, which happened at Regionals more than once. The maxed out Attack allows it to OHKO Incineroar after Intimidate and the overall power was too good to pass up. The Speed allows Groudon to outspeed Modest Ludicolo outside of rain. I believe the rest of the EVs were dumped into Special Defense because Enosh wanted Groudon to better handle incoming Special Attacks. The moveset is pretty standard– Rock Slide for Flying-type Pokemon, and Stomping Tantrum to give me single target Ground-type offensive coverage. Also if Groudon gets stopped by Fake Out before it can attack, my opponent has to eat a Choice Band-boosted 150 base power Stomping Tantrum. Overall, I loved this set and I can’t see myself using a different version of Groudon.

Venusaur
Venusaur @ Focus Sash
Ability: Chlorophyll
EVs: 44 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Sludge Bomb
- Grass Knot
- Protect
- Sleep Powder

The MVP of the team and the main reason this team works so well. Most teams were not prepared for Venusaur. Grass- and Poison-type coverage dealt with most of the common Pokemon in the format and the threat of Sleep Powder forced people to bring Tapu Fini and Tapu Koko to games despite those Pokemon being weak to Venusaur themselves. The original version of this team had Hidden Power Fire Venusaur to deal with opposing Kartana, but I wasn’t comfortable without Protect on Venusaur as it usually becomes a target of priority for the opponent. I actually have no idea what exactly this spread is trying to accomplish, Enosh gave this to me and I’m convinced he just doesn’t like 252252 spreads and I didn’t question it. Venusaur was the best Pokemon on the team and I’m sure its usage will skyrocket now that people are aware of how useful it is.

Xerneas
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Geomancy
- Moonblast
- Dazzling Gleam
- Protect

The other restricted Pokemon on my team. While I think Xerneas is weaker in this format than it was in 2016, it’s still a beast and can win games on its own if people aren’t well prepared for it. The EV spread looks a little weird and even I am not sure what exactly it was meant to accomplish, but it ended up working well in practice. I think a Timid nature was important as it allowed me to outspeed non-Choice Scarf Tapu Lele and Lunala without the Speed boost from Geomancy which came into play in several of my games. I rarely found myself needing more Special Attack, but I’m not sure if I will change that in the future. The moveset is pretty standard as I feel like my team was prepared enough against Amoonguss to not need Substitute.

Incineroar
Incineroar @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 20 Def / 236 SpD
Careful Nature
- Fake Out
- Flare Blitz
- Knock Off
- U-turn

The most used Pokemon in the format, and for good reason! Incineroar’s bulk and Intimidate ability allow it to annoy most teams, and a slow U-Turn allows you to safely maneuver to get Groudon or Venusaur on the field to put pressure on the opponent. Groudon’s Drought also allows Incineroar to chunk more things with Flare Blitz, making it a respectable offensive threat as well. The EVs are pretty simple: Survive +2 Timid Xerneas Moonblast and dump the rest of the EVs into Defense. I didn’t bring Incineroar to as many games as I’d expect to, but it played an important role in helping me position vs teams with middling Speed. The combination of Intimidate and slow U-Turn is something this team appreciates and Incineroar does that job perfectly.

Heatran
Heatran @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Heat Wave
- Earth Power
- Roar
- Protect

Heatran is the Pokemon most people question me about when seeing the team. Behind Groudon and Venusaur, this was probably my favorite Pokemon to use. Heat Wave in Sun chunks many common Pokemon, and Earth Power pressures Incineroar, preventing it from lingering for many turns. Despite being weak to Groudon, Heatran actually played an important role when playing the mirror match. The combination of Heatran and Venusaur puts pressure on opposing Groudon teams. Safety Goggles allow me to ignore opposing Venusaur and the occasional Smeargle if they drop Lovely Kiss in favor of Spore. Roar gives me a soft check to Xerneas, and Heatran’s typing allows it to ignore Xerneas and slowly beat it down with Heat Wave later. Most teams usually have only one or two Pokemon that can chunk Heatran, and knowing that your opponent has to focus down the Heatran allows you to control the board a bit more easily. The spread is pretty simple– outspeed mid-Speed Groudon, and outspeed Smeargle while trying to hit as hard as possible. Originally I was skeptical of Heatran when Nick showed me the team, but it ended up being one of the most important members of the team.

Kartana
Kartana @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 12 HP / 60 Atk / 4 Def / 252 SpD / 180 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Leaf Blade
- Knock Off
- Smart Strike
- Sacred Sword

The final member of the team thanks to Kimo, and boy did it make a difference for me. Kartana patches up many holes: it fixes the Kyogre matchup a bit, helps with the Lunala matchup, and gives me another check for opposing Groudon + Xerneas teams. During the tournament I quickly realized how easy it was for Kartana to snowball pressure thanks to its coverage. Many common Pokemon are weak to Kartana, and it has Groudon to help deal with opposing Incineroar. I wanted all four moves to hit as many things for Super Effective damage as possible and I wouldn’t change a thing about the moveset. The spread allows Kartana to take one Kyogre Water Spout in rain, plus another in sun, while outspeeding Xerneas. The Attack EVs gave me a more reasonable chance to 2HKO 4HP EV Xerneas with a -1 Smart Strike. Kartana was threatening toward many teams and it reinforced my opinion that Grass is one of the best Pokemon types in this current format. The ability to threaten KOs on both major weather setters and hit Xerneas for super effective damage is insanely valuable. Knock Off also allows you to deal with Lunala much more effectively. If I had to make any change to my team it would be to respect opposing Kartana a bit more, as my opponents’ own Kartana can make the mirror challenging.

Closing Thoughts

I didn’t take notes during my tournament run so I won’t be able to go into detail about my matches, but overall I was happy with this team and I think it’s one of the best in the format. I finished 7-1 in Swiss rounds, losing only to Justin Crubaugh using Kyogre/Yveltal, who I was later able to beat in a rematch. I eventually ended up losing to the same team again in Top 4, this time at the hands of Justin Burns. While it was a difficult match, it felt winnable, but in the end Justin Burns played better than me. I’m satisfied with my loss and how the team performed. I think this team will continue to be very strong and possibly even win a couple of tournaments before Sun Series is over, so if you are looking for a good team to try out I would definitely recommend this!