Hi, my name is Collin Heier, also known as BattleRoom online. I have been playing VGC since 2011 but didn’t really hit my stride until 2014 when I was able to win a regional and then place third at the World Championships. Although I’ve qualified for Worlds every year since 2014, I haven’t been able to recreate the success I had back then. 2018 was a rough year for me competitively and I lost who I was as a player. Even though I started to prioritize Pokémon again, I was not finding the results I wanted. If that wasn’t bad enough, I needed to make new connections and find new team building resources.

Going into Worlds this year, I was determined to finally break through Day One and prove myself again on the Worlds stage. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. I found myself with three losses and out in Day One once again for the third year in the row. I did, however, play in the Nashville Open. I asked Brendan Zheng if I could use his team, my favorite from 2018, for the Open and he graciously said yes. I had a blast piloting it and I finished Top 8. This gave me a good chance at snowballing and I wanted to take that chance very seriously.

Shortly after Worlds, I started practicing, mainly with Toler Webb. I first settled on a team featuring Dusk Mane Necrozma and Kyogre, but it felt like a knee-jerk reaction to the metagame and I wanted a more solid team that could give me the results I desired. When practicing, I noticed a trend: most teams had no Pokémon that resisted Ground-type moves, beyond passive choices like Ludicolo.

I began to explore teams featuring Groudon and started talking to Case Bongirne, who I respect a lot as a battler and teambuilder. Case mentioned Drifblim and Tapu Lele supporting Groudon and Xerneas, and I saw that few common archetypes could handle this combination of Pokemon. We agreed that Incineroar and Amoonguss should be the last two and I started practicing. I switched Amoonguss for a more offensive pick, Kartana, and set my sights on top cutting the tournament.

The Team:

Drifblim @ Psychic Seed
Ability: Unburden
EVs: 4 HP / 76 Def / 4 SpA / 228 SpD / 196 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Icy Wind
- Tailwind
- Memento
- Haze

In practice, Drifblim was a monster. It gave me solid answers to enemy Xerneas and almost unanswerable speed control. My moveset is unique: Case convinced me that Memento was the best reason to use the balloon, even though that move had not seen much use in earlier metagames. Drifblim gives me 1-2 turns of usefulness in a battle but saving it for late game feels bad, so Memento keeps the momentum going. Oftentimes I would bring Xerneas in on a Pokémon at -2 Attack and Special Attack, leading to a free setup. Tailwind is essential Speed control and Haze helps versus Xerneas. Icy Wind was my attacking move so I still had ways to slow opposing Pokémon down, especially when my opponents matched my Tailwind with their own. My spread is not too crazy. It survives Lunala’s Choice Specs Moongeist Beam and outspeeds Ludicolo in the rain. The rest went into Defense. I think Drifblim is a good Pokémon and I liked the control it brought to board position and early turns of games.

Tapu Lele @ Focus Sash
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Psyshock
- Moonblast
- Taunt
- Protect

Tapu Lele is my favorite Pokémon, design-wise, from Sun and Moon. Its Psychic Terrain ability activates Drifblim’s Psychic Seed boost and Unburden ability, as well as allowing me the option of controlling the terrain. I ran Focus Sash so I wouldn’t have to risk trading one of my Pokémon whenever I used Taunt, which was especially important in handling Dusk Mane Necrozma. Taunt was huge as sometimes it allowed me to freely beat enemy Xerneas if I knew I was faster due to Ability activations. I think Tapu Lele was important to my success - it is a hard-hitting, fast attacker that rarely could be OHKOed.

Groudon @ Choice Band
Ability: Drought
EVs: 156 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 100 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Precipice Blades
- Stomping Tantrum
- Fire Punch
- Rock Slide

Groudon is still amazing, despite losing access to Red Orb, so I knew I wanted it for my team. Incineroar is the most popular Pokemon in the metagame right now, and Choice Band Groudon is one of the few Pokemon that can actually OHKO it through Intimidate. Choice Band Groudon can catch opponents off guard simply due to the sheer damage output. Groudon needs nearly max Attack investment to get this KO, and after that I chose to outspeed Ludicolo in Sun and put the rest of the investment in bulk.

Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 236 HP / 40 Def / 44 SpD / 188 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Moonblast
- Dazzling Gleam
- Geomancy
- Protect

My spread for Xerneas is similar to the one that was common at the end of 2016. I liked the mix of the defensive bulk and offensive damage output it provided me. The EV spread was difficult to make. The speed investment is just enough to make sure it outspeeds Smeargle. The HP and Defense investment allow Xerneas to survive Sunsteel Strike from Solgaleo (while still being able to setup). The rest was put into Special Defense so it could survive two Moonblasts from opposing Xerneas 75% of the time. Unfortunately, relying on Geomancy hurt my Yveltal matchup and I paid for it in Swiss as it made Xerneas easy Knock Off bait. Otherwise, Xerneas was super good and I felt like many people were just not ready for it.

Incineroar @ Figy Berry
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Atk / 4 Def / 236 SpD / 4 Spe
Careful Nature
- Fake Out
- Flare Blitz
- Knock Off
- U-turn

AHHH Incineroar, this Pokémon is a true generalist. Incineroar was on 31 out of the top 32 teams for a reason: it can pretty much support any Pokémon and seems to fit into almost any situation.. On this team I needed Incineroar to support Xerneas so I went as bulky as possible with its EV spread so that it would survive a +2 Special Attack Moonblast from Xerneas. I can’t complain about this choice at all. I knew what Incineroar was capable of and it never let me down.

Kartana @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 12 HP / 148 Atk / 4 Def / 164 SpD / 180 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Leaf Blade
- Smart Strike
- Sacred Sword
- Knock Off

Ever since the bulky Kartana variant became popular in mid 2018, I was hooked and have not looked back. It has become my go-to Steel-type and I just can’t stop using it. I wanted something to hit Xerneas super effectively– also, when I don’t use Steel-types on teams it really keeps me up at night. Must be the 2012 still left in me. The set did everything I wanted it to, allowing Kartana to not only outspeed Xerneas and Yveltal by one point, but also to survive Modest Xerneas’ boosted Moonblast 75% of the time and KO max HP Kyogre 83% of the time Those numbers are not optimal but I wanted to have a good chance against both restricted Pokémon so I kinda met in the middle. I would most likely not face max Special Attack Xerneas and most defensive Kyogre wouldn’t just be max HP. I think it is still a pretty good spread and taking chances on these rolls can suck but I knew the rolls and could play accordingly.

The Team as a Whole

The team is flexible but Xerneas and Groudon are necessary to bring to almost every match, otherwise you lose a lot of fire power. Drifblim and Tapu Lele are great but they make the four Pokemon you bring pretty obvious, which can be easy to play around at times. I still found a lot of success with Drifblim Lele as a lead with my restricted Pokémon in the back.

I think Incineroar, Xerneas and Groudon are insanely good together. They have a ton of natural synergy. If I ever had doubts I could easily bring these three in almost any order and find some success. I think this is the backbone of the team and many teams in the current meta. Xerneas Groudon was an effective lead for me against Kyogre teams so that I could take control of the weather if they held Choice Scarf. Xerneas Groudon as a lead was effective for me as well into enemy Kyogre teams so I could have control of the weather if they were Choice Scarf.

Overall, my team was a good call and it was a strong pick for the early meta, but moving forward I don’t know if it will hold up. Venusaur is a problem matchup that I didn’t take account for and it is clearly gaining a lot of traction. I think my team needs some changes and the idea of Drifblim Lele might be better with some different restricted Pokémon. Thanks for reading!

People Who Helped Me

Toler Webb - I owe you so much. For Worlds and for this Regional, you were always by my side helping me and making sure I was doing this for me and that I was still focusing on improving. Thanks buddy <3

Case - I was super lost but, when we started talking, you guided me and helped me understand the meta and format better. Thanks for the idea of Drifblim Lele, I look forward to working with you in the future.

Ingrid - Thanks for helping me keep a calm head throughout the day and for helping me practice. Also, talking through matchups with you helped me throughout the day especially versus Justin Crubaugh.

Caleb and Kimo - Hanging out with the Yung Money crew really made that weekend a blast and I am so glad I got to spend as much time with you guys as I did.

Edited by Aaron Traylor, Jen Badamo, and Zach Carlson