2016 Pokémon Video Game Championship Series Preview

2016 Pokémon Video Game Championship Series Preview

Prepare for an exciting, unpredictable 2016 season in the Pokémon Video Game Championships! For the first time since 2010, the Pokémon Video Game Championship Series will allow players to use some of the Legendary Pokémon that are normally prohibited from play. Players will still be competing using Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, so be sure to check out our guides on training and breeding to get ready for tournaments this season.

Under the 2016 Championship Series regulations, each Trainer will be allowed to select only two of the following Pokémon for their teams.
















Note that only the Legendary Pokémon listed above are restricted—you’ll still be able to use as many other Legendary Pokémon (such as Thundurus or Cresselia) on your team as you wish. The only Pokémon that still aren’t allowed at all are the Mythical Pokémon, so Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, Deoxys, Phione, Manaphy, Darkrai, Shaymin, Arceus, Victini, Keldeo, Meloetta, Genesect, Diancie, and Hoopa still won’t be eligible to enter the competition this season. Check out our 2016 Pokémon Video Game Championships format announcement for full information on the new rules.

To help you understand this new format and learn a little more about each of the restricted Pokémon before you face them in battle, we’ll go over each Pokémon on this list, with information on its type, Ability, and some of the most important moves and information to keep in mind when battling with or against it. The strengths and weaknesses you’ll see below are relative to other restricted Pokémon—almost all of these Pokémon have great stats in each category compared to other Pokémon as a whole. A good Speed stat for one of the restricted Pokémon means that it is faster than the others on the restricted list and much faster than most of the unrestricted Pokémon. For example, even the slowest restricted Pokémon are only slightly outpaced by the relatively speedy Garchomp.

To further illustrate this point, here’s a comparison of the Speed of the restricted Pokémon (in bold), along with their maximum potential Speed at Level 50 based on the best possible individual strength, base stat, and Nature. Some unrestricted Pokémon are listed beside the restricted Pokémon to give perspective. You can see your Pokémon’s stats for yourself on its Summary page.

Speed Pokémon
211 Mega Mewtwo Y, Electrode
200 Mewtwo, Mega Mewtwo X, Jolteon
183 Mega Rayquaza, Raikou
178 Lugia, Gengar
167 Palkia, Mega Kangaskhan
166 Xerneas, Yveltal
161 Rayquaza, White Kyurem, Black Kyurem, Kyurem, Zygarde, Arcanine
156 Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, Ho-Oh, Dialga, Reshiram, Zekrom, Giratina, Groudon, Kyogre, Lucario

The big story going into this format is how these Pokémon will play against each other, so we have focused on those interactions in our coverage for now. In the key moves that we call out for each Pokémon, note that moves in blue are special attacks, moves in orange are physical attacks, and moves in gray are status moves. The key moves are generally listed in order of importance and most common usage.


Type: Psychic (as Mewtwo and Mega Mewtwo Y)
Psychic/Fighting (as Mega Mewtwo X)

Abilities: Pressure (Mewtwo): Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.
Steadfast (Mega Mewtwo X): Boosts the Speed stat each time the Pokémon flinches.
Insomnia (Mega Mewtwo Y): Prevents the Pokémon from falling asleep.

Strengths: Fastest restricted Pokémon; high offensive stats; Team Preview tricks

Weaknesses: Defense; typically spends a Mega Evolution slot

Key Moves: Psystrike, Aura Sphere, Ice Beam, Protect, Shadow Ball, Recover, Psychic, Grass Knot, Fire Blast, Calm Mind, Psycho Cut, Zen Headbutt, Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Brick Break, Trick Room

Mewtwo has been one of the quickest, most damaging Pokémon since Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue. Thanks to its new Psystrike move, as well as the power of Mega Evolution, Mewtwo is now stronger than ever. As one of the two restricted Pokémon capable of Mega Evolution, Mewtwo is poised to make a bigger mark in the 2016 Pokémon Video Game Championships than it did in 2010.

Mewtwo can Mega Evolve in two different ways with varying types and stats. Trainers facing off against Mewtwo in Team Preview must make sure they can handle special attacks from Mewtwo or Mega Mewtwo Y as well as physical attacks from Mega Mewtwo X. But Mewtwo is also strong enough that it doesn’t need to Mega Evolve to be an integral part of your team. When not holding a Mega Stone, Mewtwo frequently is given a Life Orb to hold.

Mewtwo’s strength is its power, and its weakness is the cost that power comes at. It can deal huge amounts of single target damage quickly as either Mega-Evolved Pokémon, but it lacks flexibility. Mewtwo has weaker defensive stats and learns few supportive moves, so it can be taken down more easily than most other restricted Pokémon if its teammates don’t protect it. Trainers who use Mewtwo must focus on protecting it instead of using it on teams with many attackers, as Mewtwo spends one of its team’s restricted Pokémon slots while also typically serving as its team’s Mega-Evolved Pokémon. If Mewtwo can’t pick up a couple of knock outs for its team, its Trainer is unlikely to win.

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Type: Psychic/Flying

Ability: Pressure: Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.

Strengths: HP; Defense; Special Defense; Speed

Weaknesses: Low offensive stats

Key Moves: Aeroblast, Icy Wind, Thunder Wave, Calm Mind, Recover, Roost, Psychic, Psyshock, Ice Beam, Earth Power, Toxic, Substitute

Trainers can best take advantage of Lugia’s defensive strength by using supportive moves and more methodical tactics instead of attacking aggressively, unlike most other restricted Pokémon.

Lugia was inches away from winning the 2010 Senior World Championships as a central component of the runner-up’s team. In that tournament, it used a move set featuring Leftovers (still Lugia’s most common held item), Substitute, and a variety of attacking moves. Substitute helps Lugia take advantage of its Pressure Ability. Even after using a PP Max, many restricted Pokémon’s trademark moves have only 8 PP, so attacking into the already stout Lugia’s Substitute can exhaust their favored move’s PP quickly. Plus, Lugia’s Speed helps it use Substitute before it is attacked.

Lugia can support its team by reducing its opponents’ Speed with Icy Wind or Thunder Wave, and it can create powerful Substitutes. It is even one of the few Pokémon that can easily make good use of Light Screen and Reflect. It can also use Toxic to gradually damage foes without relying on its offensive stats. Lugia’s Roost or Recover moves combine well with these approaches, allowing the bulky behemoth to restore its health so that it can continue to support its team.

Another potential main strategy to look out for from Lugia involves Calm Mind. Most Pokémon struggle to knock out Lugia, allowing it to power itself up more safely with Calm Mind than almost any other Pokémon. While Lugia starts out weaker on offense than most restricted Pokémon, Lugia’s attacks can quickly start to look more like Mewtwo’s after a Calm Mind or two. Calm Mind also makes it extremely difficult to knock Lugia out with special attacks, creating a big problem for the many restricted Pokémon that rely on special attacks.

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Type: Fire/Flying

Ability: Pressure: Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.

Strengths: HP; Attack; Special Defense

Weaknesses: Defense; many popular attacks are super effective against it

Key Moves: Sacred Fire, Brave Bird, Protect, Tailwind, Roost, Recover, Earthquake, Iron Head, Overheat

Unlike its counterpart Lugia, Ho-Oh is normally used as an offensive Pokémon. Ho-Oh’s signature Sacred Fire attack is the core of most of its strategies—it’s a powerful and accurate Fire-type move that plays off its gigantic Attack stat. Not only does it have 100 attack power and 95% accuracy, but it adds a massive 50% chance to burn the target.

Trainers often teach Ho-Oh Brave Bird to take advantage of its Flying type and Protect to help it defend itself. From there, Earthquake or Iron Head can be used to help Ho-Oh damage Pokémon that resist its other attacks, or players can take a more conservative route by teaching Ho-Oh Roost, Recover, or Tailwind.

Fire and Flying are a strange combination of types. Ho-Oh is weak against Groudon’s Rock Slide and Kyogre’s Water-type attacks, two popular Pokémon that it will surely face frequently. The trade-off is that Ho-Oh has a great combination of types and stats when it squares up against the troublesome Xerneas. Ho-Oh’s matchup with Xerneas is fantastic: it has a resistance to Fairy-type attacks, excellent Special Defense, and a powerful Attack stat to damage Xerneas around Geomancy’s Special Defense boost.

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Type: Water

Ability: Drizzle (Kyogre): Makes it rain when it enters a battle.
Primordial Sea (Primal Kyogre): Affects weather and nullifies any Fire-type attacks.

Strengths: Special Attack; Special Defense; Primordial Sea

Weaknesses: Average Defense, Speed, and HP; Kyogre’s Abilities encourage stacking Water-type Pokémon

Key Moves: Origin Pulse, Water Spout, Ice Beam, Thunder, Protect, Calm Mind, Hydro Pump

Since the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, Kyogre has almost always been given Blue Orb to hold (though its classic Choice Scarf is still a viable, less flexible alternative). The stats Kyogre gains through Primal Reversion combined with Primal Kyogre’s stronger Ability is usually too much to pass up for another item.

Primal Kyogre’s Primordial Sea is the kind of powerful Ability that the strategies of whole teams are built around. Not only does Primordial Sea boost Primal Kyogre’s own Water-type damage, but it also allows any teammates with the Swift Swim Ability to double their Speed. In addition, Primordial Sea permits any teammates weak to Fire-type attacks to battle more safely by negating Fire-type attacks completely. However, you should be careful if you use a Pokémon with the Swift Swim Ability with Primal Kyogre, as using two Pokémon of the same type can limit your options.

Kyogre’s move set typically contains a Water-type attack, Ice Beam, Thunder, and Protect. The most common exception is teaching Kyogre Calm Mind in place of one of its usual moves. With Primal Kyogre’s already incredible Special Attack and Special Defense stats, even a single Calm Mind can boost it to outrageous levels.

Winning the matchup against Primal Groudon is a key to Kyogre’s success. Primal Groudon is one of the most popular Pokémon available, and Kyogre will struggle to defeat it unless it can keep Primordial Sea active instead of Desolate Land. Trainers should be cautious about using Water-type attacks when Primal Groudon could potentially switch in; if you use Primal Kyogre, you may even want to consider pairing Kyogre with a teammate that knows Skill Swap to turn the tables on Primal Groudon by restoring Primordial Sea.

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Type: Ground (as Groudon)
Ground/Fire (as Primal Groudon)

Ability: Drought (Groudon): Turns the sunlight harsh when the Pokémon enters a battle.
Desolate Land (Primal Groudon): Affects weather and nullifies any Water-type attacks.

Strengths: Attack; Defense; Desolate Land; varied selection of viable moves

Weaknesses: Mediocre Speed, Special Defense, and HP

Key Moves: Precipice Blades, Earthquake, Rock Slide, Protect, Overheat, Fire Punch, Stone Edge, Eruption, Solar Beam, Thunder Punch, Earth Power, Dragon Claw

Groudon was one of the most powerful Pokémon in the 2010 Pokémon Video Game World Championships and the 2006 Pokémon Journey Across America tournament, and since then it has become even stronger thanks to the power of Primal Reversion. As such, Groudon almost always holds Red Orb. Battling Groudon isn’t a matter of figuring out if it will become Primal Groudon, it’s a matter of finding a way to defeat it when it does!

Desolate Land is a fantastic Ability. It can help double the Speed of Pokémon with Chlorophyll, which are typically Grass-type Pokémon that can help Primal Groudon against the Water- and Ground-type Pokémon it is weak against. Desolate Land also negates Water-type attacks, eliminating one of Primal Groudon’s meager two weaknesses as long as it is active.

Primal Groudon’s Attack stat is surpassed only by Mega Mewtwo X and Mega Heracross, and it has access to fantastic moves that take advantage of it. Earthquake offers reliability on teams with lots of Flying-type Pokémon or Pokémon with the Levitate Ability. Alternatively, the less accurate Precipice Blades move (which targets only enemies) can help Groudon avoid knocking out its teammates. Fire Punch, Rock Slide or Stone Edge, Protect, and even Thunder Punch are all great choices to round out Groudon’s move set.

Primal Groudon also has a solid Special Attack stat that Trainers can tap into. Overheat helps it deal solid damage even if it’s been affected by Intimidate and allows it to defeat Aegislash without having to worry about using Fire Punch into a King’s Shield. Groudon can even run a full special attack move set with Eruption or Lava Plume, Earth Power, and Solar Beam.

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Type: Dragon/Flying

Ability: Air Lock (Rayquaza): Eliminates the effects of weather.
Delta Stream (Mega Rayquaza): Affects weather and eliminates all of the Flying type’s weaknesses.

Strengths: Disruptive Ability; great offensive stats and Speed; doesn’t need a Mega Stone to Mega Evolve

Weaknesses: Defensive stats; Mega Rayquaza limits options for teammate

Key Moves: Dragon Ascent, Extreme Speed, Earthquake, Draco Meteor, Dragon Dance, Dragon Claw, Waterfall, Protect, Fire Blast, Earth Power

Rayquaza’s unique trait of being able to Mega Evolve through knowing a move (Dragon Ascent) rather than holding a Mega Stone gives it amazing power. Unlike all other Mega-Evolved Pokémon, Mega Rayquaza is able to get an extra boost from its held item (with Trainers typically choosing the damage-increasing Life Orb) on top of the massive stat boost from its Mega Evolution. As with Mewtwo, Rayquaza’s power comes at the cost of taking both a restricted Pokémon slot and the Mega-Evolved Pokémon slot of its team. Unlike Mewtwo, competitive trends show that Rayquaza is almost guaranteed to Mega Evolve in battle.

Since Rayquaza must know the physical attack Dragon Ascent to Mega Evolve, most Mega Rayquaza are developed to focus on physical attacks. However, Mega Rayquaza has among the highest Special Attack and Attack stats of all Pokémon, so many players will choose to teach it at least one special attack such as Draco Meteor or Fire Blast. Typically, these Rayquaza will have a Nature that doesn’t reduce either offensive stat, such as Naive or Hasty.

Rayquaza’s Air Lock and Mega Rayquaza’s Delta Stream are extremely disruptive to teams built around the weather effects supplied by Groudon and Kyogre. Rayquaza won’t win either of these matchups on its own, but its Abilities can change the winds of battle and get its team back on even ground. Look out for Kyogre’s Ice Beam: even if Delta Stream is active, Ice Beam has a chance to knock out Rayquaza after a single turn of Life Orb recoil.

Much like its fellow restricted Pokémon capable of Mega Evolution, Mewtwo, Rayquaza is something of a risky one-trick Ponyta. It’s quick, it deals massive damage, and its mediocre defensive stats and myriad of weaknesses make it very easy to knock out. A Rayquaza that lasts long enough to attack a few times will often deliver its Trainer a victory, but failing to do so can lose the battle for its team just as easily.

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Type: Steel/Dragon

Ability: Pressure: Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.

Strengths: Great types; high Special Attack and moves to use it; Trick Room

Weaknesses: Struggles against Primal Groudon; mediocre against Xerneas in spite of being Steel type

Key Moves: Trick Room, Flash Cannon, Draco Meteor, Dragon Pulse, Earth Power, Protect, Aura Sphere, Thunder Wave

Dialga isn’t a Pokémon that will dominate battles on its own, but it has an excellent combination of stats, types, and moves to be effective in a unique supporting role. Its most noteworthy quality is being one of the few restricted Pokémon with access to Trick Room (and by far the best at using it). Dialga’s Trick Room antics are a little trickier than normal: it’s typically used in conjunction with another Pokémon that knows Trick Room (normally Cresselia), allowing it to focus on attacking or setting up Trick Room, depending on the battle. This duo came together to win the 2010 Pokémon World Championships, and it remains one of the most potent combinations.

Dialga’s relatively low Speed helps it take advantage of Trick Room, especially if it has a Quiet Nature. It has a great Special Attack stat, which it can take full advantage of due to learning most of the game’s best special attacks. Plus, being able to spend its training on defensive stats instead of Speed helps its durability.

Dialga has to be particularly careful against Groudon, which shares the same Speed stat as Dialga and sometimes chooses a Brave Nature on Trick Room teams, leading to a tie in Speed in Trick Room. Many Trainers have their Dialga hold Shuca Berry to make it easier to deal with the primal behemoth, but you could give it a Mental Herb or Sitrus Berry to help Dialga support its team with Trick Room instead.

Don’t forget about Dialga’s Adamant Orb, which is much more useful due to Pokémon X and Pokémon Y introducing Fairy-type Pokémon for Dialga to hit with Flash Cannon. Adamant Orb makes Dialga much more likely to survive an encounter with Xerneas, as it will sometimes allow Flash Cannon to knock out Xerneas in two hits even after a Geomancy boost. It’s tough to fit two Steel-type Pokémon on a team, but many Trainers will try it with Dialga (alongside Mawile, Aegislash, or Ferrothorn) due to it losing its Fairy-type resistance as a partial Dragon-type Pokémon.

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Type: Water/Dragon

Ability: Pressure: Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.

Strengths: Rare type combo; Special Attack; Spacial Rend

Weaknesses: Water-type attacks are difficult to use because of Primal Groudon; weak to Fairy- and Dragon-type moves

Key Moves: Spacial Rend, Hydro Pump, Earth Power, Thunder, Protect, Aura Sphere, Fire Blast

Palkia is a relatively offensive Water- and Dragon-type Pokémon, a strange type combination shared only by Kingdra. Being a Dragon-type Pokémon is both a strength and weakness in a format with so many other powerful Dragon-type Pokémon, so Palkia often holds Haban Berry to survive a Draco Meteor from an opponent or a Choice Scarf to use its Spacial Rend first. Palkia has a big advantage over many of its fellow restricted Dragon types in its Speed—only Mega Rayquaza is faster than it.

Palkia is most commonly paired with Primal Kyogre. The two Pokémon share the Water type, enabling them to do huge damage during Primal Kyogre’s Primordial Sea. The drawback is that they’re both vulnerable to similar Pokémon as well, which can lead to their team definitively winning or losing battles depending on how well their opponents are prepared for Water-type Pokémon.

Palkia has access to most of the strongest special attacks, and its unique Dragon-type special attack, Spacial Rend, tops the list. With Spacial Rend’s 100 attack power and 95% accuracy, Palkia has an easier time attacking continually than other Dragon-type Pokémon, which are often forced to rely on Draco Meteor’s power (and have to deal with the Special Attack stat drop that comes with using it).

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Type: Ghost/Dragon

Ability: Pressure (Altered Forme): Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.
Levitate (Origin Forme): Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.

Strengths: Shadow Force; Altered Forme shuts down most physically attacking Pokémon

Weaknesses: Few resistances against other restricted Pokémon; can’t burn Primal Groudon; Speed

Key Moves: Shadow Force, Will-O-Wisp, Dragon Claw, Protect, Shadow Sneak, Draco Meteor, Hex, Shadow Ball, Tailwind, Aura Sphere, Calm Mind

Both of Giratina’s Formes can take advantage of its trademark Shadow Force move. Attacks that take two turns to activate typically aren’t very useful in competitive play, but Shadow Force is a move befitting a Legendary Pokémon. On the first turn, Giratina vanishes (similarly to a Pokémon using Fly). On the second turn, Giratina attacks with a 100% accurate Ghost-type attack with 120 power. Opponents would normally react to this by using Protect, but Giratina’s Shadow Force breaks through Protect just like Feint (and also breaks similar moves like Wide Guard) while still dealing damage. The two-turn Shadow Force makes Giratina one of the best Pokémon at stalling out effects that last limited turns like Trick Room.

Giratina’s Altered Forme is its defensive stance. It is debatably the best Pokémon in the game at countering physical attackers due to its excellent defensive stats and potentially knowing Will-O-Wisp. After burning its target, it can then use Shadow Force to stall out turns, or Hex to deal bonus damage because of the burn. Giratina Altered Forme is also a very reliable user of Tailwind, as few Pokémon have a realistic chance of knocking it out before it speeds up its team. Note that Giratina can learn Tailwind from a Move Tutor only while it is in its Origin Forme. However, it will retain knowledge of the move after it switches to Altered Forme.

Giratina’s offensive Origin Forme requires it to hold the Griseous Orb (which boosts its Dragon- and Ghost-type damage by 20%). Other than causing Giratina’s Forme to change and these damage boosts, it’s a somewhat unexceptional item, but it can be put to good use. Unlike when Giratina’s Altered Forme uses Shadow Force mostly to stall turns, a Shadow Force from its Origin Forme deals devastating damage. It also has Shadow Sneak to finish off weakened targets and Dragon Claw or Draco Meteor to hit Pokémon resistant to Ghost-type attacks.

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Type: Dragon/Fire

Ability: Turboblaze: Moves can be used on the target regardless of its Abilities.

Strengths: Special Attack; Special Defense; Blue Flare or Fusion Flare move

Weaknesses: Many type weaknesses; Speed

Key Moves: Blue Flare, Dragon Pulse, Draco Meteor, Protect, Earth Power, Heat Wave, Fusion Flare, Focus Blast, Solar Beam, Tailwind

Reshiram is frequently paired with Primal Groudon and its Desolate Land Ability because of their shared Fire type, in a similar way to how Palkia is often paired with Primal Kyogre. Reshiram’s trademark Blue Flare and Fusion Flare moves further focus on the duo’s shared Fire type instead of diversifying with a Dragon-type attack, like Palkia’s Spacial Rend does, so the Fire-type pairing is a little less flexible despite both Pokémon being dual types.

Blue Flare is one of the most powerful attacks in the game. It features the same 130 attack power as Overheat without the Special Attack drop, while maintaining a respectable 85% accuracy. Reshiram also has the alternative of Fusion Flare, a special Fire-type attack with 100% accuracy and 100 attack power.

The biggest challenge for Trainers using Reshiram is avoiding the strongest attacks of most of the other restricted Pokémon. It is weak against both Primal Groudon’s Earthquake and the barrage of Dragon-type attacks in the format, which can make it tricky to use.

Trainers often give Reshiram Life Orb or Choice Scarf to help make the most of its limited opportunities to attack, but Assault Vest may be the item that improves Reshiram’s natural strengths the most. Assault Vest beefs up its already impressive Special Defense, typically enough for Reshiram to last through a Draco Meteor from another Legendary Dragon-type Pokémon and fire back with a more damaging Draco Meteor in response.

Reshiram’s Turboblaze Ability, which allows its moves to hit regardless of the target’s Ability, isn’t effective against many Pokémon, but beware of a Reshiram if you are using Heatran to help control the other Legendary Dragon-type Pokémon’s Fire-type attacks with Flash Fire. With Turboblaze, Reshiram’s Fire-type attacks won’t be nullified by Heatran’s Ability!

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Type: Dragon/Electric

Ability: Teravolt: Moves can be used on the target regardless of its Abilities.

Strengths: Attack; Defense; one of the few restricted Pokémon with strong physical attacks

Weaknesses: Many type weaknesses; average Speed

Key Moves: Bolt Strike, Dragon Claw, Fusion Bolt, Protect, Draco Meteor, Volt Switch, Tailwind, Rock Slide, Stone Edge

Unlike most of the other restricted Dragon-type Pokémon, Zekrom is primarily a physical attacker. It has physical Electric-type versions of Reshiram’s trademark moves, which is especially valuable because there are otherwise few physical Electric-type attacks. Opposing Trainers are likely to train many of their Pokémon to withstand special attacks instead of physical attacks because of the focus on special attacks by other restricted Pokémon, making Zekrom’s attacks harder to defend against.

Bolt Strike and Fusion Bolt are physical attacks, so Zekrom is able to hit Kyogre’s much lower Defense instead of its Special Defense. This strategy is also useful for facing a Lugia that has boosted its Special Defense with Calm Mind. Additionally, Zekrom’s Teravolt Ability prevents Abilities like Lightningrod, Motor Drive, and Volt Absorb from stopping its damage.

Paralleling its offensive stats, Zekrom’s strength is in its Defense instead of its Special Defense, so it is much more likely to run a damage-increasing item instead of Assault Vest than its counterpart Reshiram. Life Orb, Choice Scarf, and Choice Band have been the items Trainers most commonly give Zekrom to hold, helping it deal as much damage as possible.

While Zekrom is very effective against Kyogre and Lugia, it struggles against the Ground-type Groudon and the Fairy-type Xerneas—two Pokémon that will define the metagame in the 2016 Pokémon VGC format. The key to using Zekrom is finding ways to defeat that devastating duo using other Pokémon so that Zekrom can focus on the Pokémon it fares better against.

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Type: Dragon/Ice

Ability: Pressure (Kyurem): Raises opposing Pokémon’s PP usage.
Teravolt (Black Kyurem): Moves can be used on the target regardless of its Abilities.
Turboblaze (White Kyurem): Moves can be used on the target regardless of its Abilities.

Strengths: Attack; Special Attack; HP; quicker than Kyogre and Groudon

Weaknesses: Many type weaknesses; redundant offensive typing; Freeze Shock and Ice Burn not very useful

Key Moves: Protect, Fusion Flare, Ice Beam, Draco Meteor, Earth Power, Dragon Pulse, Focus Blast, Flash Cannon, Fusion Bolt, Dragon Claw, Iron Head, Rock Slide, Stone Edge

Kyurem isn’t a Pokémon of the same strength as the other restricted Pokémon in its original Forme, but Black Kyurem and White Kyurem are two of the strongest offensive Pokémon in the game. Kyurem is the only restricted Ice-type Pokémon, a type that is super effective against many of the other restricted Pokémon. Unfortunately, most of the restricted Pokémon weak to Kyurem’s Ice-type attacks are also weak to its Dragon-type attacks, so the added weaknesses from Kyurem being an Ice-type Pokémon aren’t always a great trade-off.

Kyurem’s trademark moves, Freeze Shock and Ice Burn, are both two-turn attacks. Since Kyurem can still be attacked during its charge turn and neither move has the Protect-penetrating power of Shadow Force, they aren’t worth using in competitive battles unless Kyurem holds a Power Herb. Spending an item slot on a move that can only be used once is tough to justify, so most Trainers forego using Kyurem’s signature moves and accelerate its offense with Choice Scarf, Choice Specs, or Life Orb instead.

Black Kyurem gains an extremely powerful Attack stat and access to Zekrom’s Fusion Bolt. Ice- and Electric-type attacks combine for great coverage, but Black Kyurem can’t take great advantage of this because it can’t learn any powerful physical Ice-type attacks. Fusion Bolt and Dragon Claw still work together well enough to do supereffective damage against most of the other restricted Pokémon, however.

White Kyurem gains Reshiram’s Fusion Flare and an amazing Special Attack stat. While there aren’t any restricted Pokémon weak to Fire-type attacks, it lets White Kyurem incinerate the Steel-type Pokémon players bring to stop restricted Pokémon, such as Ferrothorn, Aegislash, and Mega Mawile. White Kyurem also has a much easier time using Ice-type attacks than Black Kyurem thanks to Ice Beam and Blizzard.

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Type: Fairy

Ability: Fairy Aura: Powers up each Pokémon’s Fairy-type moves.

Strengths: Geomancy; Fairy Aura; HP; Speed

Weaknesses: Inflexible; high risk, high reward

Key Moves: Geomancy, Dazzling Gleam, Moonblast, Protect, Thunderbolt, Focus Blast, Hidden Power, Grass Knot, Psychic

Xerneas is unique among the restricted Pokémon because its trademark move is a stat-increasing move. After one turn of charging, Geomancy increases Xerneas’ Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed by two levels, making Xerneas nearly impossible to stop. Trainers almost always give Xerneas Power Herb to hold, allowing Xerneas to get the massive stat boost from Geomancy in one turn. Due to Geomancy’s power and seven of the other restricted Pokémon having a weakness to Fairy-type attacks (eight with Mega Mewtwo X), every team in the 2016 Pokémon Video Game Championships will need a solid strategy against Xerneas and its Geomancy to be successful.

Fairy Aura boosts the damage of Fairy-type attacks from all Pokémon on the field. Between Fairy Aura, a Geomancy boost, and the extra damage Xerneas does with Fairy-type attacks as a Fairy-type Pokémon, Xerneas’s Fairy-type attacks are incredibly powerful. Fairy Aura can also help the Fairy-type damage of a teammate, such as Mega Mawile. Expect to see Mawile used both with and against Xerneas, as Steel-type physical attacks are the most reliable way to down Xerneas through Geomancy, and Fairy Aura, on the other hand, strengthens Mawile’s Play Rough.

Many Trainers don’t teach Xerneas damaging moves of a type other than Fairy. The most common move set for Xerneas is Moonblast for single targets, Dazzling Gleam to hit both foes, Geomancy to power up, and Protect for defense. Xerneas demonstrates extreme power with this move set, but this approach can be risky if it isn’t able to use Geomancy safely or if it faces a team full of Pokémon resistant to Fairy-type attacks. Even Steel-, Fire-, and Poison-type Pokémon must be careful, however, as Xerneas can still knock out most Pokémon resistant to Fairy-type attacks in two turns after a Geomancy boost.

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Type: Dark/Flying

Ability: Dark Aura: Powers up each Pokémon’s Dark-type moves.

Strengths: Dark Aura; HP; Speed; immune to Ground-type attacks

Weaknesses: Defense; Special Defense; struggles against Xerneas; lacks an obvious purpose

Key Moves: Foul Play, Protect, Oblivion Wing, Snarl, Dark Pulse, Sucker Punch, Heat Wave, Tailwind, Focus Blast, Knock Off

Much like the supportive Yveltal in the Pokémon TCG, one of Yveltal’s strengths in the video game is being able to power up Dark-type Pokémon with its Dark Aura. Unlike in the Pokémon TCG, there aren’t many Dark-type Pokémon of the same caliber as Yveltal in the video game, making it tough to build a team around it. Yveltal has mediocre defenses and an Ability that’s tough to make the most of, but perhaps players will find a way to create a devastating combination with Yveltal and Mega Tyranitar, Mega Houndoom, or even other types of Pokémon with Dark-type attacks such as Mega Mawile. Yveltal’s Speed, Foul Play move, and Flying type make it effective against the popular Primal Groudon, but its Dark type makes battles against the equally popular Xerneas difficult.

Yveltal also offers awkward support to its team. It has Snarl to reduce the damage of opponents, Knock Off to remove enemies’ items, and Tailwind to increase its team’s Speed. In a format where restricted Pokémon form the identity of their teams, it isn’t clear what role Yveltal will play on its team. It doesn’t have great offensive typing or great stats. It doesn’t have a fantastic trademark move or a clear way to build a team around it. The star of Pokémon Y is something of an enigma, but some players might find ways to make it shine for themselves.

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Type: Dragon/Ground

Ability: Aura Break: The effects of “Aura” Abilities are reversed.

Strengths: Your opponent probably hasn’t battled a Zygarde before; Speed; Defense

Weaknesses: Stats; moves; types

Key Moves: Land’s Wrath, Rock Slide, Glare, Extreme Speed, Outrage, Earthquake, Dragon Dance, Stone Edge, Crunch, Protect

Zygarde can be tough to incorporate on a team and plays very similarly to Garchomp, a Pokémon that does not spend a restricted slot on its team. The two Pokémon are evenly matched in stats, which is to say far below the other restricted Pokémon. Zygarde’s stats simply aren't on the same level as its restricted peers.

Aura Break could really mess with teams built around Xerneas by causing Fairy Aura to reduce the damage of Fairy-type attacks instead of increasing them. Unfortunately, since Zygarde is still weak to Fairy-type attacks and its stats are so much lower than those of other restricted Pokémon, it’s tough to make it worthwhile.

Land’s Wrath is sort of a better version of Earthquake—a 100% accurate move with 90 attack power that hits both opponents instead of every other Pokémon on the field. It’s a great move, but, Trainers probably won’t have to worry much about it.

You may have to check out Zygarde in Season 19 of the Pokémon animated series, because it might be sitting out for the 2016 Pokémon World Championships.

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The 2016 Pokémon Video Game Championship season will be packed with creative teams and exciting battles. We’ve broken down much of what we expect to see going into the new format, but the strategy innovations on the road to the 2016 Pokémon World Championships will surely surprise even the experts. Follow Pokemon.com/Strategy all season long to stay up to date on the latest in Pokémon video game analysis!

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