Hello, my name is Aidan Adkins and recently I finished 16th at Philadelphia Regionals. My team was notably the only one in Top 32 that did not use Incineroar.

The team started out with my desire to use Palkia after seeing the Kyogre/Palkia core put in so much work in practice. I don’t really like weather wars, so I wanted to use Palkia’s speed in a different way. Eventually I decided to drop Kyogre for Solgaleo, who covered Palkia’s weakness to Xerneas while appreciating Palkia’s ability to make Incineroar vanish. After a lot of work, a “chunk then finish” team came out of it, where Tapu Lele and Tapu Koko essentially spam Nature’s Madness and Palkia, Solgaleo or Ferrothorn clean up. Besides that, this team relies on offensive pressure and little support, giving slower teams a hard time.

The Team:


Tapu Lele @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Psyshock
- Moonblast
- Dazzling Gleam
- Nature’s Madness

Tapu Lele was arguably the most important Pokémon on the team. Blocking Fake Out, outrunning Choice Scarf Kyogre, smacking Yveltal and Xerneas, and of course, spamming Nature’s Madness. Basically, I would lead Tapu Lele and click whichever move was most appropriate (most commonly Nature’s Madness) to start breaking down the opponent’s Pokémon. Since the rest of my team could KO basically any relevant Pokémon after Tapu Lele had softened it up, this Tapu was vital to the team. Nature’s Madness was not Tapu Lele’s only tool for accomplishing its job though, as Psyshock and Moonblast were also effective options to chunk down my opponents’ Pokémon.


Tapu Koko @ Focus Sash
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Thunderbolt
- Nature’s Madness
- Taunt
- Protect

Tapu Koko was basically a watered down version of Tapu Lele on this team but with a few more options. It functioned in almost the same way, but Taunt and the Focus Sash let it fill a more supportive role if I needed it. In addition, Tapu Koko’s Electric Terrain made my matchup against sleep users easier. I opted for Modest nature over Timid since there aren’t many Pokémon that Timid outspeeds that Modest doesn’t, and the extra damage was important for removing Yveltal. The biggest loss is no longer speed tying with other base 130 Speed Pokémon, but I was willing to trade that for a little extra power. One of the most “interesting” aspects of my Tapu Koko was the inclusion of Nature’s Madness. In my opinion, every Tapu Koko not running Life Orb should have that move, as it let Tapu Koko still provide offensive pressure in situations it wouldn’t be able to, and also take 50% off bulky threats like Dialga and Lunala that Tapu Koko ordinarily can’t do much to. Anyway, Tapu Koko most often played the role of a backup Tapu Lele, but was a better answer to certain threats like Yveltal and Lunala, and also had the ability to stop the setup of Trick Room and Tailwind.


Palkia @ Lustrous Orb
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Spacial Rend
- Hydro Pump
- Flamethrower
- Protect

In my honest opinion, Palkia is the single most underrated restricted Pokémon in the format. It’s probably one of the most challenging Pokémon for Kyogre teams to break through and great spammable STAB options paired with solid coverage let the Spatial Pokémon threaten the majority of the format. Being able to one-shot other Dragon restricted Pokémon, remove non-Assault Vest Incineroar, and chunk basically everything with Hydro Pump made Palkia by far the most important Pokémon on my team.

Palkia’s best asset is its Speed. While base 100 normally isn’t that impressive, it lets Palkia outspeed every restricted Pokémon bar Lugia, Zygarde 10%, and Mewtwo. Palkia can do over 50% to all of them with either Spacial Rend or Hydro Pump, letting Palkia KO anything that Tapu Lele had gotten a Nature’s Madness into. Palkia worked in two ways on this team; either lead with Tapu Lele and double into something alongside a Nature’s Madness, or save Palkia as a late game cleaner once the rest of my opponent’s team was weakened and Palkia’s big threats (Xerneas) were removed. Dragon, Water and Fire coverage meant that Palkia couldn’t be walled by anything other than special tanks. So long as I didn’t lose Palkia early in the game, it was guaranteed to pick up a KO or two.

Of course, Palkia definitely has some big flaws. The most obvious is accuracy. Every time I clicked Spacial Rend or Hydro Pump, I had to accept the fact that my move might miss, and that miss might lose me the game. Palkia is probably the most RNG susceptible restricted Pokémon in the format, as it doesn’t have any perfectly accurate moves that aren’t coverage. This was only exacerbated by the imperfect accuracy of Nature’s Madness that most commonly went with Palkia, and I definitely lost some games to double misses. Another flaw is that Palkia is kind of weird to teambuild with. I got a few comments that people had been struggling to make Palkia work, and I think that’s because Palkia honestly doesn’t have great synergy with the other restricted Pokémon. While it puts in work against a bunch of big meta Pokémon, it doesn’t hard counter anything besides Kyogre, and it’s honestly a little awkward against common threats like Xerneas, Yveltal, Lunala and Tapu Lele. Palkia isn’t a Pokémon you can just slap on a team; it needs the team to work around it and help it utilize its offensive capabilities. Ultimately, Palkia is a Pokémon that can work because of its great speed, amazing damage output, solid coverage, and the ability to threaten the majority of the metagame for 50+% damage.

Palkia Damage Calcs
252 SpA Lustrous Orb Palkia Hydro Pump vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Incineroar: 198-234 (99 - 117%) – 93.8% chance to OHKO

252 SpA Lustrous Orb Palkia Spacial Rend vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kyogre: 85-102 (48.2 - 57.9%) – 94.5% chance to 2HKO

252 SpA Lustrous Orb Palkia Hydro Pump vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Groudon in Sun: 134-162 (64.7 - 78.2%) – guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Palkia Flamethrower vs. 252 HP / 52 SpD Ferrothorn: 192-228 (106 - 125.9%) – guaranteed OHKO

252 SpA Lustrous Orb Palkia Spacial Rend vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Yveltal: 115-136 (57.2 - 67.6%) – guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Lustrous Orb Palkia Hydro Pump vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Xerneas: 127-151 (54.5 - 64.8%) – guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Lustrous Orb Palkia Hydro Pump vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Dusk Mane Necrozma: 117-138 (57.3 - 67.6%) – guaranteed 2HKO


Solgaleo @ Life Orb
Ability: Full Metal Body
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Sunsteel Strike
- Flare Blitz
- Superpower
- Protect

Solgaleo Damage Calcs
252+ Atk Life Orb Solgaleo Sunsteel Strike vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 265-315 (113.7 - 135.1%) – guaranteed OHKO

252+ Atk Life Orb Solgaleo Superpower vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 221-260 (109.4 - 128.7%) – guaranteed OHKO

252+ Atk Life Orb Solgaleo Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Groudon in Sun: 113-134 (54.5 - 64.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO

252+ Atk Life Orb Solgaleo Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Ferrothorn: 322-385 (177.9 - 212.7%) – guaranteed OHKO

These four calcs were the reason I chose Solgaleo as my second restricted. Besides just threatening a huge amount of damage to anything not Water type, Solgaleo served as a specific check to a few threatening Pokémon. As long as I paired Solgaleo with Nature’s Madness, it could remove almost everything from the field and had pretty good defensive synergy with Palkia. Unfortunately, Solgaleo has some bad matchups in this format that I honestly didn’t prepare enough for. Yveltal, Lunala and Hidden Power Fire Venusaur under sun all eat Solgaleo for lunch, and Solgaleo can’t reliably remove the Pokémon I needed it to after a Superpower drop, so I had to be careful when using that move. Ultimately Solgaleo was pretty consistent, but had a few terrible matchups (most notably to Lunala and Yveltal) that made it play second fiddle to Palkia most games.


Ferrothorn @ Figy Berry
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Gyro Ball
- Power Whip
- Leech Seed
- Protect

In my opinion, Ferrothorn is one of the most consistent Pokémonin the format. With the obvious exception of Groudon, many of the top restricted Pokémon have a difficult time dealing with the little seed pod. Kyogre and Xerneas both lose to a max HP Ferrothorn and even Pokémon like Yveltal and Lunala who can break through him don’t appreciate Leech Seed chip. One of the things that surprised me was that many teams only had Incineroar to deal with Ferrothorn. Considering that both of my restricted Pokémon could remove Incineroar with relative ease, a common gameplan became “kill the cat and let Ferrothorn wall everything else”. Ferrothorn acted as a super consistent switch-in and late game wall, as well as a second answer to Xerneas. Between Tapu Lele, Palkia and Ferrothorn, most Kyogre teams had trouble breaking my team Admittedly the spread could have been more optimized, but Ferrothorn still did what it needed to, one-shotting Kyogre and Xerneas and walling anything not named Incineroar or Groudon.


Rotom-Mow @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 252 HP / 108 Def / 84 SpA / 20 SpD / 44 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Thunderbolt
- Leaf Storm
- Electroweb
- Protect

Despite being the most unique pick, this little lawnmower did absolutely nothing for my team. I brought to one game of one set, and it was able to get off a single Electroweb before fainting.

While it didn’t work in practice, Rotom Mow was theoretically my Groudon counter. 44 Speed EVs hits 112 Speed, allowing me to outrun 4 Speed EV Groudon. This speed also made me faster than anything Base 100 Speed or slower after an Electroweb. The spread was designed mainly around Groudon teams with the following calcs:

Rotom Damage Calcs
84+ SpA Rotom-C Leaf Storm vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Groudon: 200-236 (96.6 - 114%) – 75% chance to OHKO

84+ SpA Rotom-C Leaf Storm vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Groudon: 200-236 (114.2 - 134.8%) – guaranteed OHKO

252+ Atk Groudon Fire Punch vs. 252 HP / 108 Def Rotom-C in Sun: 134-158 (85.3 - 100.6%) – 6.3% chance to OHKO

252+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 108 Def Rotom-C: 81-96 (51.5 - 61.1%) – guaranteed 3HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery
(Just in case I went up against any Gravity teams)

252+ SpA Venusaur Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 20 SpD Rotom-C: 132-156 (84 - 99.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery

252 SpA Lunala Moongeist Beam vs. 252 HP / 20 SpD Rotom-C: 82-97 (52.2 - 61.7%) – guaranteed 3HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery

In addition, 84 Special Attack EVs with a Modest nature gave me a 72% chance to KO 4 HP / 0 SpD Yveltal with spread Electroweb + Thunderbolt. That never came up, but I planned for it.

Looking back on it, I don’t know why I didn’t use Rotom Wash. It does better against both Kyogre and Groudon teams, doesn’t lose hard to Incineroar, and can actually use its non-Electric STAB multiple times. Anyway, I got Mow Rotom into Top 16 at a regional, and even though it did absolutely nothing, I’m still proud of it.

Leads

+
This was my lead in most games. It blocked Fake Out disruption and let me KO anything that wasn’t Cresselia or Suicune with Nature’s Madness + Hydro Pump/Spacial Rend. Aside from this, Choice Scarf Psyshock and anything from Palkia threatened most of the metagame, and Palkia and Tapu Lele had amazing offensive synergy, with Palkia removing Tapu Lele’s counters and Tapu Lele chunking down opposing pokemon for Palkia to finish off. A Palkia and Tapu Lele lead with Solgaleo and Ferrothorn in the back was my most common team composition.

+
This was my lead if I thought my opponent would lead Xerneas, as Solgaleo is just so much better than Palkia in that matchup. Otherwise, this lead was a less consistent version of the Palkia-Tapu Lele lead since Solgaleo gets outsped by a few things that Palkia doesn’t.

+
This lead was solely for Groudon leads. Tapu Koko shut down Venusaur’s Sleep Powder, and Solgaleo could one-shot Incineroar, as well as Venusaur and Groudon after a Thunderbolt or Nature’s Madness, respectively.

Tournament Run

Round 1 v. Robert Moore (WLL)


(Xerneas/Groudon number one)

This first round taught me how good of a matchup HP Fire Venusaur has against my team. It almost one-shots five of my six Pokémon and can twoshot Palkia with Grass Knot. Game 1 was the only time all tournament I didn’t bring Palkia.

I brought:



Round 2 v. Emily Catalano (LWW)


(Xerneas/Groudon number two)

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see what Gastrodon was running. Game 1 was the only time Rotom saw the field all day.

I brought:



Round 3 v. Carlton Bost (WLW)

This set was probably the best matchup my team could hope for, which is unfortunate since I didn’t see another Kyogre after this. I lost Game 2 to a double Nature’s Madness and Hydro Pump miss turn one.

I brought:



Round 4 v. Caleb Ryor (WW)

This round went pretty fast. Caleb’s team was vulnerable to Palkia/Tapu Lele, and I was able to just start spamming attacks from Turn 1. Seeing Crabominable was very cool though.

I brought:


Round 5 v. Steven Sumayo (WW)


(Xerneas/Groudon number three)

Steven opted not to bring Xerneas to any of the games we played, which made my life a lot easier. Without this threat, I didn’t have to worry as much about keeping Solgaleo alive. Game 2 came down to a drawn out battle of Solgaleo and Tapu Lele against his bulky Zapdos after Misty Seed.

I brought:


Round 6 v. Austin Nace (WW)

Palkia/Tapu Lele put in so much work against Austin’s team. He had a hard time getting momentum when I was threatening KOs every turn.

I brought:


Round 7 v. Nick Navarre (LL)


(Xerneas/Groudon number four)

Once again, Venusaur made it difficult for my team to do much of anything. I basically had to dance around it with Solgaleo and pray for an opening.

I brought:


Round 8 v. Santino Tarquinio (WW)

I find it funny that I saw as many Crabominable and Alolan Exeggutor as I did Kyogre throughout the day. Anyway, this round went like a few others: lead Palkia and Tapu Lele, click Nature’s Madness and Hydro Pump and hope you don’t miss.

I brought:


Conclusion

While it worked well, this team had some serious issues. First and foremost, the lack of speed control made my matchup against Tailwind teams difficult, and any Tailwind setters that I couldn’t Taunt or one-shot (namely Focus Sash Crobat and Whimsicott) gave my team a huge amount of trouble. Drifblim/Tapu Lele was essentially an unwinnable matchup as well. Apart from those matchups, Xerneas/Groudon with Venusaur was difficult simply because of how hard it was for Solgaleo and Ferrothorn to survive in order to beat Xerneas. Xerneas/Lunala was another incredibly tricky matchup, and the team honestly just struggled with Lunala in general. Most other matchups went pretty well, since a lot of people weren’t expecting the sheer amount of offensive pressure my lead options put out.

Edited by Aaron Traylor, Jen Badamo, and Zach Carlson