I started playing VGC mid 2014 but took a long break between mid 2016 and 2019, because I wasn’t a fan of any of the formats during that time. When Dynamax first came along I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t a huge fan of Mega Evolutions, Z-Moves or any format that allowed two restricted Pokémon, but the 2020 format turned out to be my favorite one yet. Back in 2015 I didn’t build a lot of teams myself, mostly because I wasn’t very confident in anything I build. But during season 5 the 2020 format got me teambuilding, theory crafting and laddering for hours every day. I’ve always preferred playing standard good stuff teams, but being stuck indoors most of the time this year has apparently made me very stubborn when I discover a certain Pokémon/Core I really like. In Season 5 and 6, every single team I build was a Lapras Team. I didn’t care if it wasn’t the greatest Pokémon around. If it didn’t work I would find a way to make it work.
When season 7 was first announced, I didn’t know what I was going to play. People told me I could continue playing Lapras, which I did think about, but having so many new Pokémon available now, I knew I wanted to try something new. I began by throwing together some Bulldoze Metagross Teams with Entei, but they didn’t work out as well as I thought they might. Another team I tried involved the old, well-known Garchomp-Zapdos Disquake lead but I wasn’t a fan of that either. A few days later my boyfriend send me a link to some teams that I could try out and although I really wanted to come up with something myself, I decided to give them a shot. Eventually I tried out a team by James Baek. (Poképaste: https://pokepast.es/fe715f8f49a0e844) I played 3 ladder games with it and really liked the idea of Dynamax Life Orb Zapdos, so I used the team for a small online tournament that weekend. During the tournament, and some more ladder games afterwards, I realized that I really like the combination of these 6 Pokémon, but I wasn’t a fan of a lot of the sets themselves. Not because I thought they were bad, but they just didn’t fit to my play style at all. So I started making some edits here and there until it turned into what it is right now.
You can lead almost anything with this team, but the general idea is to either set up Max Airstreams with Zapdos and sweep with Zapdos + Nihilego or Metagross, or set up some Def/SpDef boosts with Metagross and use Incineroar for Intimidate/Parting Shot to become as bulky as possible. Sometimes Zapdos + Nihilego can sweep an entire team. Rillaboom and Gastrodon are great for the late game, although they can be used early as well.
Zapdos @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
The only thing I changed here is the Ability from Pressure -> Static. Zapdos can set up Speed Boosts for itself and it’s partner (usually Nihilego or Metagross), remove certain terrains if needed and just dish out a lot of damage. You can use other moves such as Air Slash over Hurricane for more accuracy outside of Dynamax or Thunder over Thunderbolt for even more damage. Personally, I felt like Air Slash made Max Airstream too weak and the extra power on Max Lightning wasn’t necessary. Besides, it’s nice to have at least once accurate move outside of Dynamax. I rarely bring Zapdos if I know I’m not going to Dynamax it.
252 SpA Life Orb Zapdos Max Lightning vs. 252 HP / 76+ SpD Tapu Fini: 195-229 (110.1 – 129.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Zapdos Max Airstream vs. 100 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-Therian: 109-129 (61.5 – 72.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Metagross @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 212 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 172 Spe
– Iron Head
– Stomping Tantrum
– Ice Punch
The original team had Thunder Punch over Ice Punch and although I still think that it’s a decent option, I was very glad that I switched to Ice Punch (because I hate Landorus). I don’t always Dynamax my Metagross, so I kept Iron Head instead of Meteor Mash for more accuracy. Originally Metagross’s spread was a lot slower which I was fine with at first but in the end I decided to go with a speedier set. At +1 Speed you can outspeed non-scarf Garchomp which I felt was worth it. You could invest a little more speed to out speed Timid Nihilego or Ninetails but I personally didn’t think that was necessary.
If you’re Dynamaxing Metagross try to become as tanky as possible. Depending on the opposing team try to get more Def or SpDef boosts for the late game. Metagross can become very difficult to deal with once it’s Weakness Policy is activated, but even if it doesn’t it can still be a tank and slowly take down enemies.
Rillaboom @ Rose Incense
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 212 HP / 116 Atk / 140 SpD
– Grassy Glide
– High Horsepower
– Swords Dance
This set is still the same one from the original team. I did think about switching to an AV set after removing AV on Incineroar but I really like the amount of damage Grassy Glide + Rose Incense deals. I don’t use Swords Dance in every game I bring Rillaboom, but if you manage to get into a good position during the late game you could set up a game winning Swords Dance. Watch out for Tapu Fini and anything else that can change terrains and take away your priority unexpectedly. There’s no speed investment here so you need to rely on your priority most of the time.
Nihilego @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Power Gem
– Foul Play
This guy is the reason I started playing the team in the first place. I’ve always loved Nihilego as a Pokémon and wanted to see how well it works this season. I changed it from a bulkier Grassy Seed with Trick Room set into a standard max SpA max Speed set. I picked Modest over Timid in order to underspeed Zapdos, so that Nihilego can hopefully get kills and SpA Beast Boosts. Depending on the opposing Metagross set, Zapdos and Nihilego can OHKO a Dynamax Metagross with Weakness Policy by double targeting it with Max Flare, activating Weakness Policy and then Foul Play. So far only one Metagross has survived this combo, but don’t be too greedy with it. You can just as easily Max Airstream on Turn 1.
Foul Play also let’s you hit targets that Nihilego usually wouldn’t be able to, such as Kartana or Garchomp.
It really is a hit or miss Pokémon so don’t feel bad if you leave it behind, but once it gets a few Speed and SpA boosts it can easily sweep an entire enemy team with Zapdos.
+2 252 Atk Life Orb Nihilego Foul Play vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Dynamax Metagross: 231-273 (61.7 – 72.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Incineroar @ Aguav Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 60 Atk / 136 Def / 76 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Parting Shot
– Fake Out
I wasn’t a huge fan of the old AV set with U-Turn and Burning Jealousy. There were many games where I wished I had parting shot and taunt. Originally I wanted a speedier EV spread but I got this spread from a friend of mine (Shoutout to SaltySylveon) and it’s been doing wonders. Taunt helps to stop Trick Room or Calm Mind setters while Parting Shot helps cycle Intimidates and weaken enemies. Don’t hesitate to lead Incineroar with Zapdos and Parting Shot back out. Zapdos doesn’t always have to provide it’s partner with speed boosts in order to win.
-1 252+ Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake vs. 236 HP / 136 Def Incineroar: 168-198 (84 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Gastrodon @ Leftovers
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 252 HP / 148 Def / 60 SpA / 44 SpD / 4 Spe
– Icy Wind
– Earth Power
Aside from replacing Scald with Icy Wind, I haven’t changed this set at all. Scald felt kind of unnecessary since I was only really using it to hit Landorus. The potential burn is nice to have but I don’t like relying on it and I felt like some more speed control could come in handy.
I’ve always kept Gastrodon for the late game, especially when my opponent doesn’t Dynamax early. Watch out for Tapu Fini in the back as it can prevent you from using Yawn. Storm Drain hasn’t come into play many times so far but Gastrodon doesn’t really have another useful ability so I just stuck with it.
- Zapdos – Nihilego
- Zapdos – Metagross
You can lead Zapdos with almost anything but these are the two combos I lead with most of the time. Like explained earlier, the main idea here is to set up speed boosts with Dynamax Zapdos and deal as much damage as possible.
- Metagross – Incineroar
- Metagross – Gastrodon
I haven’t lead Metagross + Gastrodon yet but I think it’s definitely a lead that could work out. Try getting as many Def/SpD boosts as possible and use Incineroar to weaken the enemy, or Gastrodon to slow them.
- Rillaboom – Incineroar
- Zapdos – Incineroar
These leads can be either super offensive or be played more defensive. You could try setting up an early swords dance, although your opponent will most likely have something in the back to change terrains and take away your Grassy Glide priority. Zapdos + Incineroar can help Zapdos tank an extra hit or two, although I prefer leading Metagross + Incineroar if you’re going to play defensive.
Zapdos – Nihilego/Metagross: Turn 1 Max Airstream + Attack, Turn 2 Max Airstream again or if necessary Max Lightning/Flare.
If the opponent leads Metagross you can risk a Max Flare + Foul Play double up, but don’t feel the need to do this every time. Metagross might protect turn 1 or not even have Weakness Policy.
VS Trick Room: Lead Incineroar and Turn 1 Fake Out or Taunt.
Or: Lead Zapdos + Nihilego or Metagross if you think you can kill the Trick Room setter (Most Dusclops barely survive a double up)
VS Tornadus: Either Zapdos + Incineroar and Fake Out + Airstream Tornadus, or lead Metagross and Max Steelspike.
Tornadus will almost always Tailwind Turn 2 so if you’re not faster than it’s partner and it can kill you you might want to just lead Metagross and build up some boosts.
Regieleki: The most annoying thing about this guy is that most of the time you can’t always predict what it will do. Will it set up screens to support it’s teammates or just (Dynamax) attack you and deal big damage?
I don’t like leading Zapdos against Regieleki, but depending on the opposing team I sometimes still do. Metagross is definitely the better Pokémon to Dynamax though. Usually I try to defeat it asap but it won’t let you get rid of it that easily. Bring Gastrodon in the back since MOST of them can’t damage it, but it’s still incredibly annoying to play against.
Trick Room + Glastrier: I’ve played over 100 matches with this team and not once has anyone lead Glastrier against me so I’m always very confident that my opponent will lead their Trick Room setter + something to support it. You can’t always prevent Trick Room from happening, so instead try stalling as many turns as possible (maybe even keeping opposing Pokémon alive on purpose so they don’t get a free switch in) and just boost Metagross with Max Steelspike. Once Glastrier is in, use Incineroar to get as many Intimidates as possible and if they don’t acitvate Weakness Policy themselves, try avoid doing it for them until Glastrier is out of Dynamax. My main priority is to try to kill the Trick Room setter, in order to prevent a second Trick Room from happening. Once Trick Room is gone and Glastrier is out of Dynamax, you should be able to win the game.
Trick Room is generally problematic for this team, but Glastrier is definitely the most annoying Pokémon to accompany it.
Galarian-Moltres: This heavily depends on the set, but unless they have something else that could carry a Weakness Policy, I assume that I will have to face a Weakness Policy Dynamax Galarian-Moltres. I’ve seen people play berries and seeds on it, which I definitely prefer playing against because I can Max Lightning it without it suddenly destroying my entire team.
Galarian Moltres is especially annoying because of it’s high Special Defense and both my main sweepers are special attackers. It can Max Airstream for speed boosts and lower your SpD, all while being bulky af. When playing against Galarian Moltres I usually lead Zapdos Nihilego and just do my standard Max Airstream turns. You can try damaging the Moltres with 1-2 Max Aistreams and then finishing it Turn 3 with a double up or just attack it’s partner and try to get some Beast Boosts. How you play against it really depends on it’s set and the rest of the opposing team.
Regigigas + Weezing: This combo I swear. At this point I’ve accepted that Weezing is always going to protect and have either anti steel or ground berry so I just started attacking Regigigas with everything I got. Since I can’t Intimidate it I just try to set up Max Steelspikes and either Parting Shot or hit it with whatever I have. Once the Regigigas is down the rest of the team shouldn’t be too problematic. Unless you only have one Pokémon left which shouldn’t be the case very often.
I definitely think that this team is more suitable for laddering and not necessarily for bo3. You can play different modes but usually certain modes work well against certain teams so I’m not sure how well switching modes will work out when playing bo3.
Either you play hyper offensive with Zapdos + Nihilego, a little more defensive with Metagross > Nihilego, or you don’t use speed control and just become bulky. Don’t be afraid to try different leads, no matter how absurd they might seem.
Things to keep in mind:
– Nihilego will almost always need some form of speed control support, especially since it’s modest.
– You don’t have a way to set up rain so you can’t boost Hurricane’s accuracy.
– If you know your opponent is going to be faster than you, play defensive, if you can outspeed, play offensive.