Best Restricted Pokémon VGC Series 8
Image via The Pokémon Company

The Video Game Championship Series 8 rules introduced a never before seen format by allowing players to use one restricted legendary Pokémon in competitive battles. With the next round of the Players Cup III right around the corner, here is a look at the Pokémon players are choosing most often, according to Pikalytics.

1. Zacian

With 24.74% usage on Pokémon Showdown, Zacian is the most used restricted option chosen by players. One of the most important factors is its Fairy/Steel typing, which make it particularly suited to dealing with a wide variety of other threats, including the usual restricted format tyrant, Xerneas. Its Intrepid Sword ability also gives it a free Attack boost upon switch in, making it even more powerful and resilient against the common Intimidate ability. Then there’s the fact that its signature move, Behemoth Blade, does double damage against Dynamax Pokémon, making it a strong option in a format that revolves around the new mechanic. 

Zacian doesn’t can’t  Dynamax, but it can wreak havoc anyway. In fact, this actually leaves a slot open on the team for a different Dynamax candidate. This means it works well with just about every teammate, but Zacian generally appreciates Pokémon who can check Ground and Fire-Type attackers. Zacian does great alongside Gigantamax Lapras, who protects it with G-Max Resonance and has Water-Type attacks to deal with potential threats.

2. Kyogre

Speaking of Water-Type Pokémon, Kyogre (15.92% usage on Showdown) has been a classic restricted pick in VGC since 2010. With the Drizzle ability to set up rain for the team and boost the power of Water-Type moves, Origin Pulse and Water Spout will hit almost anything like a truck. Factor in Kyogre’s 150 base Special Attack and its easy to see how this whale of a threat works well as a special sweeper.

Kyogre works great with Pokémon that can benefit from rain, like Tornadus with Hurricane and Regieleki with Thunder. Rain also helps Grass-type Pokémon, as it weakens Fire-type attacks. Kyogre doesn’t usually want to Dynamax since it already has such powerful spread moves and decent bulk, so it works well with a partner who does, like Kartana. Above all else, it’s crucial to have some form of speed control, like Tailwind or Electroweb, to ensure Kyogre can attack before its opponents.

3. Calyrex

Calyrex has two special forms that change its typing, both of which are popular. Its Ice Rider form is slightly more popular on Showdown (10.38%) while the Shadow Rider is the third most used restricted (14th overall) on the game’s official Battle Spot Doubles ladder.

Ice Rider generally capitalizes on its low Speed stat to sweep under Trick Room. It often holds a Weakness Policy to unlock its sweeping potential by boosting its already massive Attack  Players can self-activate the policy or allow the threat of its activation to stop opponents from using super effective moves on Calyrex. Finally, it has access to the Chilling Neigh ability, which boosts its Attack even further after a KO. That means this Pokémon can snowball out of control with ease.

Meanwhile, Shadow Rider is as fast as Ice Rider is slow, making it one of the scariest threats outside of Trick Room. And unlike Ice Rider, Shadow Rider would rather use its spread, Astral Barrage attack instead of Dynamaxing, offering a similar benefit as Zacian. Spectrier can also hold a Weakness Policy, but it’s frail defensive stats make it harder to use. Instead, players often opt for the damage boosting Life Orb or even a Focus Sash to make sure it survives one-hit-KOs.

While Calyrex Ice Rider needs Trick Room setters and slow supporting Pokémon to be at its best, Shadow Rider wants teammates that can speed it up or protect it with redirection. The former pairs best with Pokémon like Incineroar or Dusclops, while the latter is best friends with Indeedee (Female).

4. Groudon

Groudon (9.12% on Showdown) offers weather control like Kyogre, but its Drought ability sets up the sun instead. This helps  Pokémon like Charizard deal even more damage and Venusaur move first thanks to its Chlorophyll ability. As a Ground-Type, Groudon also checks Zacian, which is a huge bonus. And while Groudon does struggle against Kyogre teams due to its Water-Type weakness, it can switch in to rob its rival of the rain it loves so much. 

Groudon can do far more than just play a supporting role, however. With a single Swords Dance, it can chunk almost any target for massive damage (or finish off softened up opponents). 

As mentioned, Groudon appreciates teammates that benefit from sunlight, like Charizard and Venusaur. It also loves support from Incineroar, which can use Fake Out to help Groudon set up and Intimidate plus Parting Shot to make opponents weaker. Meanwhile, since Groudon is in a middling speed tier, it does appreciate some form of speed control, whether that’s Tailwind or Trick Room.

Nate Searl
Nate enjoys playing video games and watching esports. His favorites are Valorant and Pokémon, which he plays and watches regularly. He also loves Sports, Chess, and playing guitar.