With the announcement of the Primal Battle Tournament on the Pokemon Global Link (Full information here), I've got something to play around with that isn't the usual Battle Spot Doubles. If I get a chance to participate in the tournament, I will, but will have to source a Groudon and/or Kyogre for that, because you can't not bring those guys to a tournament when they're the only Cover or Event Legendaries allowed. But at the very least I can comment on what I think will be strong strategies, and what you will need to look out for in building your own team for this tournament.
Although I wasn't able to compete in the Circe of Legends, or Enter the Dragon Competitions, which also included Legendary Pokemon, I was able to compete in the Generation Showdown Competition earlier this year, and made a report on it.
My main experience from the Generation Showdown was that although my team did very well, the Primals, particularly Groudon, did really well under Trick Room. Although there is no Telepathy Dialga for that in this format, Cresselia really is a dominant Trick Room force in VGC, and I would expect it to remain so in this format.
What have I been testing?
Referring back to this thread on Nugget Bridge, I decided to test out a team centered on the Shadow Tag + Weather idea mooted by MGModernGamer, as it seemed strong. In addition to that, I figured Skill Swap Trick Room Cresselia would be handy to have. Given the low opportunity cost of running both Primals due to their power, and the lack of other Legendaries to crowd them out in this format, I also decided to test running both Primals. To finish off, I added Mega Kangaskhan because of its power, bulk, and generally neutral matchup against the Primals, which a lot of other Megas lack, and Thundurus for alternative speed control and something to stop Trick Room, Spore, and Dark Void shenanigans.
If you want something to practice with, the team I built to test things is below (and I can't figure out spoiler tags). Keep in mind that a lot of these EV spreads are either random, or WIP's at the moment, so don't take them as gospel.
Groudon @ Red Orb
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- Earth Power
- Solar Beam
Cresselia @ Rocky Helmet
EVs: 252 HP / 124 Def / 132 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- Trick Room
- Skill Swap
- Ice Beam
Gothitelle @ Mental Herb
Ability: Shadow Tag
EVs: 252 HP / 72 Def / 184 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- Heal Pulse
- Trick Room
- Fake Tears
Kyogre @ Blue Orb
EVs: 196 HP / 60 Def / 252 SpA
IVs: 0 Spe
- Water Spout
- Ice Beam
Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 148 HP / 252 Atk / 92 Def / 12 SpD / 4 Spe
- Power-Up Punch
- Sucker Punch
Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 156 Def / 36 SpA / 76 SpD / 4 Spe
- Thunder Wave
From my testing, and keep in mind this is still early in the testing stage of the format, I found that
- Double Primals is really strong, and gives you more weather control options for your matchup.
- Special Groudon is great - doesn't have to worry about Intimidates, and is highly likely to win the mirror - to survive an Earth Power, opposing Primal Groudon would need to invest too much bulk and likely lose their damage output, which is the key to winning with the Primals.
252+ SpA Primal Groudon Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Primal Groudon: 204-242 (98.5 - 116.9%) -- 87.5% chance to OHKO
- Goth Trap is great with weather, although the better choice seems to be Goth+Groudon, most of the time. Fake Tears under Trick room also means that there are vanishingly few pokemon not OHKO'd by the Primals.
- Skill Swap is going to be huge at the higher levels. I feel this battle I had demonstrates its power quite well, but has nothing on this match between Toquill and Footballfreak99.
- I haven't seen much of TR+Gravity strategies on the Showdown! Ladder, but rest assured they will exist, and will make Precipice Blades in particular a worryingly consistent power option.
- Smeargle will likely see a decent amount of popularity, as sleep plus the power of Primals can be bad news, especially with some Transform shenanigans.
- Wide Guard may be useful, but I'm not sure that it can be relied upon, at least for the Groudon matchup, as Groudon has a lot of single target STAB options, both Physical and Special, which match up well against one of the the best Wide Guard users in the VGC 2015 format, Aegislash. That said, Aegislash does match up well against Cresselia, Gothitelle and sometimes Kangaskhan, so it could still be a solid pick if you're looking to stop Trick Room and Skill Swap shenanigans.
- Although the idea of running Cloud Nine Pokemon may be tempting, I think they will be underwhelming in this format thanks to power of Megas and Primals, and the existence of Skill Swap shenanigans plus switching. Golduck doesn't exactly put fear in to much, and is too specific to the Groudon matchup in my opinion.
- CHALK itself, riding high on its domination of the 2015 VGC World Championships, can't work in this format without some modification. Groudon arguably replaces Heatran, and Landorus, while always useful, I feel will be less so in this format - and probably overshadowed by its brother, Thundurus.
- I haven't seen much of Amoonguss, but I'd imagine given the likelyhood of Trick Room being the dominant speed control, and the inability of Primals and Megas to hold Safety Goggles, that it will be a solid pick if it can be protected from fire, as nobody likes to deal with Spore. It will be a lot more reliant on Trick Room than in VGC 2015 though, in my opinion, just because of the added power available in the Primals.
- The speed ties for Trick Room Primal teams will be nuts. I'm as yet unsure how I would approach dealing with the mirror, but perhaps making your IV's non-zero on Quiet/Brave Primals will be a way to work around speed ties, and give you more options in and out of Trick Room.
Here is a list of choice replays (in addition to the two mentioned above) that I can suggest to watch to gain an understanding of the format (to be added to as more good replays are found - in the meantime, you can search replay.pokemonshowdown for Primal Battles if you want to see for yourself):
- vs Ibro (Chiron and I discuss the metagame in this one)
- vs MrABomb Special Groudon beats Physical Groudon
- vs TCG King (With metagame discussion post match)
- vs ModernGamer (With a post match discussion)
- ModernGamer vs lacdaddy (Shows power of Scarf Kyogre and Gengar)
So far, I'd tip the strong threats in the metagame to be (in no particular order):
- Primal Groudon
- Primal Kyogre
- Mega Kangaskhan
- Support Gengar (Possibly Mega)
- Whimsicott (with Worry Seed)
It is highly possible that we will see a centralised top-level metagame around these Pokemon.
Ones that I'm undecided/ambivalent on whether they will do well, but may still do so would include:
- Mega Venusaur
- Mega Salamence
- Mega Gardevoir
I will try to touch base with an update post closer to the competition start date, and to do an analysis of the metagame upon its completion, but that will be reliant on what I can squeeze out of my spare time, so don't hold me to it. Good luck to everyone competing, and I look forward to seeing more wacky ideas burst forth in time for the Primal Battle competition!