Is this the new meta? VGC 2017 Japanese National Championships recap

The Japanese National Championships have decided the nation’s World Championship qualifiers, but the results have us western players scratching our heads a bit. Not only did a Pokemon that was unheard of in VGC 2017 win it all, but a bunch of other weird and unconventional strategies managed to succeed. Let’s take a look at the marvel that was the teams of the Japanese National Top Cut.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

Champion

Ootsubo Ryouta

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Runner Up 

Kimura Shouhei

Top 4

Nakagawa Gouki

Kinoshita Tohru

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Top 8

Amano Hikaru

Yonemura Takuya

Nakajima Teru

Yamane Souma

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A Popular Choice for Held Items    Image result for choice band

One thing that managed to be consistent was the popularity of Choice items for a number of popular Pokemon. I think this is the first time in a major tournament Top Cut where we’ve seen a Snorlax without its signature pinch berry. Instead, Amano Hikaru opted for a Choice Band to boost Snorlax’s Attack without having to rely on Curse or Belly Drum.

Hikaru’s team also featured a Tapu Koko holding a Choice Scarf, which also seems like an odd item considering Tapu Koko’s already impressive Speed stat. Moving away from Hikaru’s team, Nakagowa Gouki featured a team with a Choice Scarf Celesteela, and a Lycanroc with Choice Band. We’ll get to Lycanroc in a bit, but Celesteela holding a Choice Scarf is pretty bizarre. We’ve seen offensive items like Life Orb and Assault Vest have success with Celesteela, but never a speedy variant with Choice Scarf. It does make some sense since Celesteela has a very diverse move pool, but its very low base speed doesn’t compliment a Choice Scarf very well.

Besides Choice items, there were a few other weird item choices sprinkled around the Top 8. What could’ve spawned these unique ideas is beyond me, but let’s move on to the Pokemon themselves.

Niche Picks: Japan Edition

Japanese players are often known for their creative approach to the game, and their 2017 Nationals are no exception.

TsareenaImage result for tsareena

Is there a new queen of VGC? For 2017, it looks like it. Grass types as a whole aren’t very popular outside of Tapu Bulu and Kartana. So what makes Tsareena so special? With Ootsubo Ryouta’s choice of Fightinum Z for a held item, Tsareena can fire off a pretty strong All-Out-Pummeling with access to High Jump Kick.

Tsareena’s signature move, Trop Kick, is also fairly unique. It’s not the strongest attack at only 70 base power, but it always lowers the target’s Attack stat when it connects. Could be a useful tool for wearing down fast, physical-hitters after Ryouta’s Pelipper is able to set up Tailwind for Tsareena.

Finally, Feint is a highly underrated move that only a few viable Pokemon can make use of. Feint breaks the opponent’s Protect while also being a damaging move with priority. Feint works very well in a format full of strong Z-moves, and Golduck’s rain-boosted Hydro Vortex is one that often baits out Protects.

Overall, a Pokemon like Tsareena requires a very specific team composition to work, and Ryouta’s team looks to be a good fit. Is Tsareena a good Pokemon in VGC 2017? I’m not sure. We’ll just have to see if any western players are inspired by Ryouta’s success.

Lycanroc (Midday Forme)   Image result for lycanroc

With Gigalith’s current popularity, the Sand-abusing ability of Lycanroc’s Midday Forme makes it a solid partner. This scary combo threatens a ton of damage for a team without many Rock-type resistances. Lycanroc itself doesn’t have the greatest move pool, but Fire Fang is a very useful tool for dealing with Kartana who threatens this duo immensely. Coupled with the speed boost from the Sand Rush ability, Lycanroc becomes a threat under sandstorm.

But this lead, much like other “combo” leads, has its weaknesses. Since this combination almost always acts a lead, an opposing Ground or a bulky Water or Grass-type Pokemon lead can shut this combo down fairly hard. Also, opposing weather takes away Lycanroc’s speed boost which can make it a lot less threatening.

Lycanroc is a cool Pokemon for sure, but its necessity for Gigalith and its lackluster move pool do set it back. However, this combo can be scary for teams that aren’t prepared for it. Don’t expect Lycanroc to dominate the meta game, but definitely have a check for some sort of sand mode.

Gengar Image result for gengar

You’d think that in a format dominated by Fairy types, a Pokemon like Gengar would thrive. Well that would likely be the case if Gengar still had Levitate, as Ground resists are rather hard to come by.

Despite Gengar’s shortcomings, it’s by no means a bad Pokemon in this format. Having the ability to Taunt and set up Trick Room on its own, makes Gengar a tricky Pokemon to go up against if you don’t know what it has. Amano Hikaru opted to forgo Protect on his Gengar in favor of Destiny Bond which takes down Gengar’s attacker if it’s KO’d.

A Pokemon that still has potential in VGC 2017, but the loss of Levitate and its rather odd speed tier have made it a less popular choice. Don’t sleep on Gengar though, as its bag of tricks could be useful for a number of team archetypes.

Porygon-Z Image result for porygon-z

Porygon-Z has had significantly less time in the limelight when compared to its pre-evolution, but when properly supported it can turn into a problem. Most Porygon-Z this season have opted for Normalium Z to maximize the power of Hyper Beam, but Yonemura Takuya decided to take advantage of a strategy more often seen in the Single Battle meta game.

With the Normalium Z, Conversion not only changes Porygon-Z’s type to the type of the first attack in its move set, but also boosts all of its stats by one stage. Takuya opted for the Electric variant with support from a Smeargle holding a Choice Scarf. With Smeargle’s virtually infinite support move pool, Porygon-Z is likely able to set up and start mowing down its opponents.

Converting into the Electric type is a smart choice for VGC 2017. Not only is Tapu Koko’s Electric Terrain pretty much everywhere, but not many popular Pokemon resist Electric attacks either. Even more defensive Pokemon don’t appreciate taking an Adaptability boosted Thunderbolt after a Special Attack raise. Ground-types like Garchomp are still scary when setting up, but with Ice Beem, Garchomp in no problem after setting up Z-Conversion.

This strategy can run through a lot of popular team compositions, but struggles if played around correctly. Plus, even with the defense boosts, Porygon-Z is relatively frail and easy to KO. A fun strategy for best-of-one play, but a bit harder to pull off in best-of-three matches.

What This Means for The Western Metagame

So does this mean we’ll see all of these strategies at the upcoming North American International Championships? Perhaps some, but definitely not all.

The reason is that due to Japan’s National Championship having best-of-one Swiss rather than best-of-three, it makes these rather odd strategies a lot harder to pull off. Having the surprise factor of a faster Tapu Koko or an exploding Snorlax might work out for one game, but may suffer if your opponent is expecting it. Though, considering Ootsubo Ryouta’s Tsareena squad managed to do well in the best-of-three stage, it’s not too far fetched to expect to run into this team in practice or even in tournament.

Japan’s meta game has always made some sort of an impact on the West, so we’ll just have to see which strategy becomes the most popular among western players in the coming weeks. Will Tsareena take the west by storm? We’ll just have to wait to find out.

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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Five Pokemon that could be “the play” for the North American International Championships

With the North American International Championships just two weeks away, many players are scrambling to find the winning team. For a tournament that is sure to be in a tier of worlds-caliber difficulty, a “standard” team might not be ideal.

Unpredictability is key for a tournament this late into a format. Bringing just one Pokemon that many teams aren’t prepared for could be huge for making a deep tournament run. Here are five Pokemon that could be great metagame calls for the final International Championship of the 2017 season.

1. Tapu Bulu

Pokemon North American International Championships

 

Despite being the format’s least popular Island Guardian, Tapu Bulu has shown that it’s a force to be reckoned with. Winning two of the last four North American Regionals, Tapu Bulu is surely capable of making a deep run in Indy.

I’ve talked a lot about Tapu Bulu already, but it’s worth repeating some of Tapu Bulu’s main strengths. Grassy Terrain is an amazing field effect that not only boosts Tapu Bulu’s Grass-type attacks but also adds bulk to its teammates through the gradual HP gain.

Since Tapu Bulu is slower than most other Tapu Pokemon, Tapu Bulu is likely going to have the terrain advantage. Strong, physical Grass-type attacks are difficult for most Pokemon to take in this format, and with Tapu Bulu you’re always threatening huge damage.

Tapu Bulu has great synergy with both common and slightly less common Pokemon. Being able to set up Grassy Terrain covers one of the format’s most common weaknesses, in Ground, by halving the damage of Earthquake and Bulldoze.

While Tapu Bulu itself doesn’t have the greatest defensive-typing, teammates like Arcanine, Pheromosa, Nihilego and even Mudsdale can threaten many of Tapu Bulu’s scary match ups.

Power, diverse team builds and Grassy Terrain all make Tapu Bulu a great choice for a team right now. With its recent success, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more break into Indy’s Top Cut.

2. Alolan Muk

Pokemon North American International Championships

 

Speaking of Tapu Bulu’s scary match ups, Alolan Muk is a scary Pokemon that every Tapu hates going against. One of the prime users of the Gluttony ability, Alolan Muk can take hits and also dish out valuable Poison and Dark-type damage.

Alolan Muk being one of the few viable Pokemon in the format with access to Knock Off makes it very useful. In a format dominated by the “pinch berries,” being able to Knock Off a berry from an Arcanine or a Snorlax can put your opponent in a pretty rough spot.

Knock Off and a Poison-type move are staple, but Muk surprisingly has a lot of flexibility in its third move slot. There are support options like Taunt or Imprison and tons of offensive ones like Gunk Shot, Flamethrower and Curse.

If Alolan Muk is a Pokemon that interests you, make sure you have an answer for Garchomp. Without a strong Ground-type move to hit it, Alolan Muk becomes a huge problem for most teams to deal with. However, its Dark-typing has made strong Fighting-type moves from Buzzwole or Pheromosa serve as fine answers to it.

3. Metagross

Pokemon North American International Championships

One of the format’s lesser used Steel-types, but still a strong choice. Metagross doesn’t quite have the speed of Kartana or the bulk of Celesteela, but its great typing and offensive power make it quite threatening.

The reason why Metagross is on this list is because it seems like a great metagame call. Metagross can hard counter Pokemon like Nihilego, Tapu Lele and even Gigalith (as long as it doesn’t have Earthquake). Plus, if paired with Tapu Lele, Psychic Terrain-boosted Zen Headbutt does a ton of damage to targets that don’t resist it.

Meteor Mash and Bullet Punch are great Steel-type attacks for Metagross, helping give it a priority option and even a pseudo-Beast Boost with Meteor Mash’s chance to boost Metagross’ attack.

Metagross looks solid on paper, but its main weaknesses in low speed and shaky accuracy can make it difficult to use. However, with a great team to support it, Metagross can easily turn into a major threat.

4. Buzzwole

Pokemon North American International Championships

Buzzwole’s weak defensive typing and low speed can make it a bit tricky to build around, but it can turn into a monster with its offense. Coming off of a regional victory in Birmingham, Buzzwole has once again cemented itself in the realm of relevant threats. Its monstrous attack, insanely diverse move pool and its ability, Beast Boost, give it the power to run through unprepared teams.

We’ve usually seen Buzzwole as a member of teams with a Tailwind mode, with notable examples being Rachel Annand’s Driflblim team and Tommy Cooleen’s rain team with Pelipper. Buzzwole’s ability to fire off strong, STAB Superpowers into Pokemon like Porygon2, Gigalith and Snorlax make it a popular check to common Trick Room modes.

With a Beast Boost, Buzzwole can easily use the rest of its moves like Poison Jab and Ice Punch to finish off other popular team members like a Tapu or Garchomp.

The main draw of Buzzwole is that immense Fighting-type damage with either Superpower or possibly an All-Out-Pummeling. We’re likely to see a lot of Porygon2 and Gigalith in Indy, and what better way to deal with that pair than a giant flexing mosquito. Plus the crowd is sure to go wild if they see Buzzwole flex its way onto the big screen.

5. Milotic

Pokemon North American International Championships

The last, and arguably the most underrated Pokemon on this list, is none other than Milotic. Milotic has seen usage here and there, but has never had a break out performance. The reason I’m listing it here is that the Intimidate ability is everywhere in VGC, and Milotic is one of the best Pokemon to punish it.

Competitive is an ability that doubles Milotic’s Special Attack if one of its stats are decreased. Intimidate has always been around, but with the rising popularity of Gyarados and teams with multiple Intimidate users, Milotic is looking a lot better. Not to mention, most of the Intimidate users, barring Gyarados, are weak to the combination of Water and Ice-type attacks that Milotic often carries.

While Competitive is an amazing ability, Milotic can also function as a standard, defensive Water-type without the boost. Having access to Toxic and Recover makes Milotic a solid defensive Pokemon that’s able to win slow endgames. But if you’re looking to go more offensive, the Adrenaline Orb can pair well with the Competitive boost as the lowering of Milotic’s stats will allow the Adrenaline Orb to boost Milotic’s speed as well.

A bulky Water-type that can turn into a huge offensive threat, Milotic can be quite an annoying Pokemon to deal with. If you’re looking for a non-conventional Water-type member for your Fire-Water-Grass core, Milotic could be the one.

Only Scratching The Surface

This is only a short list to potentially generate some ideas for those of you making the trip to Indianapolis later this month. There are still a bunch of other underused, underrated and flat out weird Pokemon that have potential to go far in this penultimate tournament for the 2017 season. We’ll just have to see which unorthodox strategy or Pokemon choice topples the metagame in just a couple more weeks.


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Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

What happened in Mexico City: A matter of the rules or sportsmanship?

The final regional championship in Latin America has shrouded itself in controversy due to reports of actions that paint a very unpleasant picture of the community. Improper issues of game loss, judges mocking players and a stolen TCG deck are just to name a few, but the one that we’ll be focusing on today is the story of Kenneth Gamboa.

What Happened?

According to multiple accounts of players who attended the tournament, Kenneth Gamboa’s 3DS console ran out of power during round five, and his opponent refused to move closer to a charger. At this point in the tournament, Gamboa was in a good position to make it to Top Cut but unfortunately ended up losing a completely winnable set due to his system dying during game three. Gamboa did call a judge over to attempt to remedy the situation, but the judge was unable to do anything due to the nature of the rules concerning a system low on battery.

The Rules

Would you believe me if I said this entire situation was entirely legal under the official Play! Pokemon rules for VGC events?

The official rules regard the loss of power during a game or set as a major Game Play error that results in a game loss for the player whose system lost power during the match. While the player with the system low on power is allowed to request to move to a charging station, a request is all that they’re allowed. If your opponent denies your request to move, there’s nothing you or even a judge can do.

The Debate

Most of you are probably wondering why there is even a debate about this situation. Honestly, I’m not sure either, but a debate exists. The divisive issue in this scenario is where the accountability lies when one player’s system is running low on power.

There are players on both sides of the debate, with one side arguing that this type of behavior is unsportsmanlike and the other arguing that a system running out of power is the fault of the player.

Regardless of the technicalities, would you really want to win a match this way? It’s one thing for a system to run out of battery, but in this instance, Gamboa’s opponent was intentionally taking his time to make his decisions. While it doesn’t specifically violate a rule, there’s something that is in the rules that this situation complicates.

Sportsmanship and The Spirit of The Game 

spirit of the game pokemon

At the end of the day, we as players are expecting a fun and pleasant tournament experience. In the Play! Pokemon general event rules, The Spirit of The Game is the first rule listed for good reason. Above all, regardless of who wins and loses we as a community should ensure that our events provide a good experience for everyone involved.

Stories like this floating around paint a picture of the community that may discourage players from attending events. It’s an image of a community that values winning and prize money over fairness and sportsmanship. When examining both Gamboa’s story as well as the various others that tainted this tournament, it’s apparent that our community still has much to do to better itself. It’s on us as players, judges and spectators alike to maintain the Pokemon communities’ status as one of the best gaming communities out there.

Some Things to Remember

Regardless of which side of this issue you’re on, if you ever attend a tournament, remember these few tips to ensure something like this doesn’t happen to you:

  • It is a player’s responsibility to arrive to matches on time, have a tournament legal team and to make sure their system is charged.
  • It is a player’s responsibility to know the rules, but if there is ever a question about them, always contact a judge or TO for clarification.
  • Winning shouldn’t be the most important thing. Always make sure you are presenting yourself in a way that puts the Spirit of the Game above all else.

Despite what happened at Mexico City regionals, the discussion this event is generating is positive for the communities’ growth. Instead of making this a hostile back-and-forth battle of opinions, we should use what we’ve heard about from this event to ensure that things like this don’t happen in the future. It’s our job as a community to present ourselves in a way that keeps these events fun and inviting to players of all backgrounds. Mexico City was a stumble, but a necessary one to keep going towards improvement.

Thanks for reading!


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Images from Wikimedia Commons, Play! Pokemon and the Official Play! Pokemon Rules

Drifblim Soars to Victory Again: VGC 2017 Birmingham Regional Championships Recap

Our second piece of Regional Championship coverage comes from Birmingham, UK where Rachel Annand took a clean victory for her first regional title. Annand’s win in Birmingham places her comfortably at 17th in Europe’s CP standings, but unfortunately she sits just outside of a Day 2 World Championships invite. Drifblim+Tapu Lele was Annand’s team of choice, and her results prove that this combination is far from outdated.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Rachel Annand

2. Lukas Muller

3. Matthias Sucholdulski

4. Jamie Dixon

5. Jamie Boyt

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6. Matt Carter

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7. Alex Gomez

Alola Form

8. Jason McCullough

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A Balloon That Hasn’t DeflatedDrifblim

While the combination of Drifblim and Tapu Lele might appear outdated, Annand’s victory in Birmingham proves the opposite. The hyper-offensive nature of the team pairs quite well with the recent trend of multiple Ultra Beasts on top teams.

Annand’s Buzzwole and Nihilego arguably put in more work than Tapu Lele, picking up KO’s left and right with the help of Drifblim’s Tailwind. The recent popularity of Nihilego paired with Pheromosa, works well on this team with Buzzwole in Pheromosa’s place. Both can make use of Tailwind, allowing for more bulk rather than taking gambles with Pheromosa.

Players at this point are prepared to deal with Drifblim and Tapu Lele, but are they prepared to handle potentially new teammates. Annand’s decreased reliability on the classic lead shows that this team is able to adapt and doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.

A 6-1 Missed Top Cut?

birmingham regionals top cut

(from @HamstermaniaVGC on Twitter)

The Pokemon VGC tournament structure is by no means perfect, and I think we’re all aware of it by now. David Koutesh was victim to a lesser-known tournament error that cost him a place in Top 8 at a 6-1 record.

According to Koutesh on Twitter, the error had to do with players being added after Round 1, but the amount of rounds staying the same. Due to the increased amount of players and the misaligned round numbers, this is likely what caused the error.

Luckily, at 9th place, Koutesh was able to claim his invite to the World Championships, but missing Top Cut could’ve cost him potentially 120 more Championship Points.

Niche Picks

ScizorImage result for scizor

Scizor was a Pokemon that thrived for years in VGC, but so far in 2017 has been pretty quiet. Scizor’s usage usually drops a bit in seasons where it doesn’t have access to Bug Bite, but the issues for Scizor this season are beyond its own capabilities. Despite Scizor’s favorable matchup against Tapu Lele, Psychic Terrain has heavily nerfed Scizor’s main selling point: Technician-boosted Bullet Punch. Combined with the fact that Celesteela and Arcanine dominate the metagame, Scizor’s success in 2017 has reasonably been non-existent.

Matt Carter managed to find a way for Scizor to work, by ensuring he had ways to disrupt Psychic Terrain and stop Scizor’s biggest counters. This team composition is not entirely new however, as those who watched the stream for Toronto Regionals saw Nick Navarre feature a very similar team that unfortunately missed Top Cut after losing in the final Swiss round.

For those not familiar, the strategy centers around a Scizor holding Choice Band with a more supportive Tapu Fini that can Swagger Scizor in the Misty Terrain without the drawback of confusion. Salamence functions in a similar role on the team as a set-up sweeper with Dragon Dance.

It’s a clever strategy, but its skill curve is quite high. A lot of set-up is needed for the team to succeed, and making a few wrong plays can spoil the Scizor strategy rather quickly.

Can Scizor still be viable in this format? I still think so, but it’s heavily outclassed by Steel-types that can do its job much better.

SilvallyImage result for silvally

Speaking of a niche Pokemon that reappeared on a familiar team, Silvally finally showed up in a western tournament’s top placings.

Ever since Japan’s “Battle Road Gloria”, Silvally has remained in relative obscurity. For those unfamiliar with this strategy, Silvally is normally holding a Choice Scarf with the moves: Flamethrower, Rock Slide, Parting Shot, and Explosion. In this role, Silvally functions as an offensive support Pokemon that can assist Mimikyu with setting up Trick Room for Gigalith. Parting Shot gives Mimikyu a higher chance of surviving, and Explosion can pick up two quick KO’s while not harming its partner Mimikyu.

I feel like Silvally is still heavily underrated, and its potential hasn’t extended far past this team. Silvally can literally be any type and has access to a ton of moves both offensive as well as supportive. Its stats leave a little to be desired, but Silvally can fit into a variety of roles that haven’t been explored.

Final Thoughts

Birmingham was Europe’s final regional for the pre-Worlds 2017 season, but there’s still a rather large tournament happening in the states that could interest some European players still looking for a Day One or Day Two invite. This last International could have a major impact on European CP results as there’s sure to be a lot of players looking to make the trip. There’s a little over three weeks to go, so we’ll just have to see if any Europeans will take North America by surprise.

Thanks for reading!


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Featured Image from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak

Tapu Bulu is back on top: VGC 2017 Madison Regional Championships recap

After winning Madison Regionals this past weekend, Drew Nowak becomes only the second player this season to win multiple regional titles. Nowak also becomes the second player in North America to take Tapu Bulu to a regional victory. This win was quite valuable to Nowak as not only a confidence booster but also for the needed Championship Point boost heading into the North American International Championships.

With 200 CP now added to his season total, Nowak is at 790, which places him in the top eight of North America. A spot in the top eight before Internationals is huge for Nowak’s chances for a Day Two invite to the World Championships, and this placing helps solidify him as a top contender from North America come August.

Results & teams (top 8)

1. Andrew Nowak

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2. Zheyuan Huang

3. Terry Hong

4. Tyler Miller

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5. Jeremy Odena

6. Justin Carris

7. Samuel Haarsma

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8. Kazuki Kanehira

Is Tapu Bulu still bad?Image result for tapu bulu

At this point, the notion of Tapu Bulu being “bad” isn’t very accurate. Of course, the metagame trending towards double Tapu teams, the rise of Porygon2 and Gigalith as well as the decline of Alolan Muk’s popularity has helped Tapu Bulu rise in usage. It remains the most unpopular choice, but now with three regional titles under its belt, players competing in the season’s final tournaments should respect it.

Tapu Bulu has a great matchup versus the rest of the Tapu Pokemon, being able to take attacks as well as dish them out under Grassy Terrain. Despite the agonizing end-turn animations, Grassy Terrain does well to add longevity to Tapu Bulu’s teammates. It also makes the lack of Ground-resists a lot more forgiving since Grassy Terrain nerfs the damage of Earthquake and Bulldoze. This allows Pokemon like Arcanine and Nihilego to work well with Tapu Bulu, which is what happened to be on Drew Nowak’s winning team.

How Drew Nowak made Tapu Bulu workImage result for nihilego

Nowak’s team, in particular, was quite unique. Utilizing the dubbed “BAN Hammer core” (BAN standing for Bulu, Arcanine and Nihilego), Nowak was able to use this combination, alongside a Trick Room mode and Pheromosa, to overwhelm his opponents with damage. Though we rarely got to see the Trick Room component of the team during Nowak’s stream matches, it’s worth noting that Nowak’s Nihilego was carrying Trick Room much like Justin Burn’s Nihilego from his Seattle-winning team.

Image result for phermosaLooking at Nowak’s stream matches, by far his go-to lead was Pheromosa and Nihilego. This combination as a lead is deadly, as both were able to threaten a ton of damage to most leads in the format. Nowak’s Pheromosa was slightly different from the typical Fightinium-Z variant, as this Pheromosa featured a mixed attacking set of both physical and special moves. This lead was so effective, it was often the result of Nowak spending very little time in team preview during a few of his games in Top Cut.

Examining Tapu Bulu itself, we see a lot of the same, but there was an interesting tech in its move set. We saw Nowak whip out Disable in his top eight match against Justin Carris. In this situation, Nowak’s Tapu Bulu was able to survive a Flare Blitz from Carris’ Arcanine, then Disable Flare Blitz so Justin couldn’t use it to finish off Tapu Bule next turn. In a best-of-three tournament, it’s valuable to have ways to surprise your opponents and taking advantage of the flexibility of Tapu Bulu’s third move slot was a great way for Nowak to catch his opponents off-guard.

An all-Ultra Beast team?

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Samuel Haarsma’s signature all-UB team has popped up a few times on various regional streams, but always during Swiss. Finally at Madison Regionals, Haarsma’s team was able to reach the top eight as the highest 6-2 record.

Running a team like this seems very odd considering the highly offensive nature of the Ultra Beasts (minus Celesteela). That being said, all seven are viable, so slapping them all on a team could work in theory. The team itself capitalizes on its sheer offensive power with Pokemon like Pheromosa, Nihilego and Kartana having the ability to sweep through teams with Beast Boost.

However, with such offensive Pokemon, this makes defensive play rather tricky. The previously mention Ultra Beasts are infamous for their lacking defenses, so if the damage output from Haarsma’s team is able to be stopped, the team often suffers tremendously. We saw in Haarsma’s stream matches that if his beasts were able to get going they weren’t easy to stop, but if the team fell behind, the team easily fell apart.

A unique team idea that is by no means easy play. Have to give a ton of credit to Haarsma for being able to pilot this team to a regional Top Cut.

Shiny Tapu Koko

This particular Tapu Koko that appeared on Zheyuan Huang’s team in Madison has been the source of some discussion of whether or not its smart to use the shiny version over a normal Tapu Koko. Since this Tapu Koko is event-only, it means its nature is set to Timid, and by using it you are basically giving your opponent a ton of free information.

But is it really that big of a deal? Obviously, the Shiny Tapu Koko hasn’t been that big of a set back considering the number of them we’re seeing in regional Top Cuts. The thing is, most variants of Tapu Koko, even the slower ones holding the Assault Vest, run the Timid nature anyway. Tapu Koko’s speed benchmark is rather standard, and the Timid nature allows it to hit that benchmark for the Assault Vest variant, or allow it to be insanely fast with max speed investment.

With the Timid nature on Tapu Koko being as standard as it is, I can’t see too much of a detriment to using the Shiny version. In any case, using an event Pokemon in a best-of-three tournament does remove a lot of the surprise factor of that Pokemon if your opponent is aware of it. But for Tapu Koko in this format, the Shiny version is fine for most teams.

Looking to Indy 

Image result for north america international championships pokemon

As regionals have wrapped up in North America, all eyes are now all focused on Indianapolis. The North American International Championships are the final opportunity players have to earn Championship Points this season, so this will likely be a make-or-break tournament for a lot of players. After Madison, 29 North American players have earned their invites, with Indy surely securing more. Though this is an International tournament, so we’re sure to get some visitors from overseas possibly looking to secure Day One or Two invites for themselves. It should be quite the tournament, and its approaching quicker than we think.

Thanks for reading!

Make sure to check back here on Friday for our recap from Birmingham Regionals!


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

All Images from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak

Casual Misconceptions About Competitive Pokemon

One of the biggest barriers to the growth of competitive Pokemon is, ironically, the Pokemon community. Among the “casual” crowd, there are a number of misconceptions that cloud people’s perceptions about the game competitively. These misconceptions ultimately generate a ton of complaints and hate about aspects of the game that casual players barely understand. For this piece, we’re going to clear up some of these beliefs and show the casual crowd that competitive Pokemon isn’t so bad.

Misconception #1: There’s no diversity

vgc 2016 teams

By far one of the biggest complaints I hear from casual players is how there is no diversity in successful competitive teams. People usually reference 2015’s Worlds Top Cut or any Regional Top Cut from 2016 with nothing but Groudon and Xerneas teams. What most don’t realize is that even though teams might look similar, each Pokemon is usually built differently depending on the player. For example, 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami’s team featured some uncommon move choices like Sunny Day on Amoonguss and Protect on his Thundurus and Cresselia. Aside from that, the teams themselves in Top 8 were pretty unique with Pokemon like Volcarona, Aegislash, Scrafty and Hydreigon being featured in addition to standard Pokemon.

To be honest, I think we were pretty spoiled from the results of the 2014 World Championships, where Sejun Park won it all with Pachirisu. This is by far one of the greatest examples of the potential creativity that exists in competitive Pokemon. But you also have to take into account that Sejun was also using two of the most common Pokemon in the format in Garchomp and Talonflame to compliment his Pachirisu and Gyarados combo.

Going back to 2016, what won Worlds again? Wait, not Groudon/Xerneas? Oh yeah it was Rayquaza and Kyogre with the help of another electric rodent: Raichu. Even in a format as volatile to creativity as VGC 2016, the unorthodox team still came out on top.

Basically what I’m getting at is that a “metagame” will always exist, but it will never define every single tournament in a given format. Standard teams usually appear in trends anyway, and when a new one emerges, players will end up countering it in some way. There’s diversity for you.

Misconception #2: Legendaries are too overpowered

Image result for xerneas

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen RMT (Rate My Team) threads on forums where the poster will say that they’re trying not to use legendaries.

Why not?

Let me tell you why I hate when people say this. When a format allows legendaries, that means everyone gets to use them. Since legendary Pokemon typically have higher stats, people will use them. You can’t call them overpowered if everyone has access to them.

Also, most legendaries can be KO’d by non-legendaries. For example, in 2016 the most common answers to Xerneas were non-legendary Steel-types: Ferrothorn and Bronzong. Even the most common legendary in the format, Primal Groudon, could be taken down by a Golduck. You don’t need legendaries to beat other legendaries, because even legendary Pokemon have type disadvantages.

Just because a format allows legendaries, doesn’t mean they’re required. A recent example is Gavin Michaels’ two-time regional winning team that featured zero Tapus and zero Ultra Beasts. Like I mentioned earlier, legendaries have weaknesses, and Gavin’s team was perfectly assembled to exploit them.

No one is going to shame you for using legendary Pokemon. The self-imposed challenge of not using them isn’t worth it if you’re trying to win.

Misconception #3: Competitive Pokemon is too complicated

pokemon tcg bebe's search

Competitive Pokemon may involve a lot of numbers, but the math required does not exceed basic multiplication. What I can say is that there is a lot of memorization that goes into learning the game competitively. You need to know the type chart, what a majority of the Pokemon do, base stats, a few damage calculations and the list goes on. Casual players can get a basic idea of most of these aspects just by playing through the single-player game. It just requires a couple steps further. But what separates the normal game from competitive play, is the dreaded topic of breeding and EV training.

I’m not going to explain the intricacies of EV’s and IV’s because a YouTube video or forum post could probably do it better. It involves numbers yes, but the core mechanics are not complicated at all. What it boils down to is just a lot of research and time. Once you understand the mechanics, the process of obtaining competitive-ready Pokemon is a fairly repeatable process.

The amount of knowledge required is a reasonable barrier of entry into the competitive scene. It’s not super complicated, but there is a rather large time commitment. But that’s getting into any competitive game right? Just a lot of dedication.

 

Misconception #4: It’s all luck based

While there is a ton of RNG influence in Pokemon, it often doesn’t decide games. While there are pokemon gamblersome ridiculous mechanics like freeze, sleep and flinching, the better player will usually win. Pokemon is all about strategy, and the player who better executes their strategy will more than likely win. Plus there’s a lot that goes into matchups and team-building that gives a player an advantage before the game even starts.

Players complain about bad luck all the time, but I assure you it happens a lot less often than you think. Experiencing bad RNG or “hax” is inevitable, it’s just something you have to deal with.

Misconception #5: Competitive players aren’t “real” Pokemon fans

pokemon vgc

The wonderful thing about Pokemon is that it’s not just a competitive game. A majority of players are introduced to the competitive side after being long-time fans of the franchise. Pokemon players play the game because they’re passionate about it, and nothing shows passion like dumping hundreds of hours into training to be the very best.

In the end, we’re all Pokemon fans, and regardless of whether you play competitively or not. I hope this gave you casual players out there a better insight into what competitive Pokemon is all about. If the normal game has felt stale to you, getting into the competitive scene will definitely renew your interest.

The issue of competitive versus casual doesn’t need to be so divisive. We can all enjoy the game in our own way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for reading!


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Images courtesy of Pokemon, Ken Sugimori, Trainer Tower & Pokemon Merch UK

A Tricky Nihilego Takes Seattle: VGC 2017 Seattle Regional Championships Recap

Congratulations to Justin Burns for not only winning his first regional but for also qualifying for the World Championships. While Justin’s team is very reminiscent of the FAKEPG archetype that dominated Virginia Regionals, Burns decided to switch the “E” with an “N”. Nihilego was an interesting pick for an event seemingly dominated by Kartana, Gigalith and Garchomp, but Nihiliego’s excellent matchup against Arcanine and the Tapu Pokemon made it a fairly reasonable call. Let’s take a look at what else performed well in Seattle.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Justin Burns

2. Hayden McTavish

3. Conan Thompson

4. Alberto Lara

5. River Davis

6. Brian Zourdani

7. Collin Heir

8. Demitrios Kaguras

(Fun Fact: Hayden McTavish, Conan Thompson, and Alberto Lara are using nearly identical teams as the ones they used to Top Cut Oregon Regionals.)

A Tricky NihilegoImage result for nihilego

An Ultra Beast that pops up every so often, Nihilego’s experience in the 2017 format has been a little complicated. An excellent offensive typing of Poison and Rock suffers slightly due to Nihilego’s pitiful Defense and weaknesses to Ground and Steel. Still, covering these weaknesses can make Nihilego just a threatening as its Ultra Beast brethren as it starts racking up Beast Boosts.

A Pokemon normally valued for its speed, A Trick Room option seems rather odd for something as fast and frail as Nihilego. Usually, Nihilego’s third move slot is fairly flexible with some of the more common choices being Substitute or a Hidden Power. Trick Room isn’t unheard of as Burns himself mentioned in his post-finals interview that the team idea came from a Japanese blog as well as from a friend who had been using the team before him. With some slight alterations to the original concept, Burns was able to turn this strategy into an effective threat.

Why Trick Room?

Image result for trick room

Normally, a Pokemon with a base 103 speed stat is not your ideal Trick Room setter. Nihilego uses Trick Room as an option rather than its go-to strategy. That’s mainly what the Porygon2 on the team does as its bulk makes it more likely that it will survive long enough to set up Trick Room.

This Trick Room variant of Nihilego actually pairs really well with Gigalith. Gigalith’s Sand Stream ability also raises Nihilego’s already massive Special Defense much like Gigalith’s in a sandstorm. While the combination doesn’t excel defensively, the amount of damage threatened by the duo is massive if played correctly.

I recommend checking out 2015 US National Finalist Raphahel Bagara’s report from Oregon Regionals if you’re interested in learning more about the team.

Tapu Koko’s Assault…VestImage result for assault vest tapu koko png

While we saw a couple other callbacks to earlier in the 2017 format such as the return of Driflbim/Lele and Tapu Fini paired with Mandibuzz, Assault Vest Tapu Koko’s popularity in Seattle could be significant for future tournaments.

Assault Vest was never “common” but still appeared on a few well-known teams earlier on in the format. As Tapu Koko shifted more towards offensive items like Life Orb, the Assault Vest became even more of a niche pick that has recently made a comeback.

VGC formats start to trend towards more bulky and defensive teams as the season progresses, and Assault Vest Tapu Koko could be yet another sign of that. As Pokemon are built more defensively, Tapu Koko’s lacking Image result for assault vest pngdamage output will make items like Life Orb less desirable. With an Assault Vest, Tapu Koko users find a nice balance between Tapu Koko’s offense and its ability to support. We’ll just have to see if the item catches on.

A New Type of Gastrodon?

Gastrodon was yet another popular pick in the beginning of the season before the mainstream usage of Kartana. Having excellent matchups against standard Pokemon like Tapu Koko and Arcanine, Gastrodon was often a go-to Water-type. However, with Kartana’s rise in usage and its overall lack of damage output, Gastrodon sort of fell out of the metagame. Recently, a few players have been using Gastrodon a bit differently than normal. Will this new variant be able to bring Gastrodon back into relevance?Image result for gastrodon

Meet Curse Gastrodon. Curse is a move that allows Gastrodon to boost its Attack and Defense at the expense of its Speed, much like Snorlax. Carrying Waterfall as its primary Water-type STAB, what most choose for a Ground-type attack is a bit unorthodox, to say the least.

Fissure is a one-hit-KO move that paired with the Groundium-Z gives Gastrodon an Earthquake-esque powered Tectonic Rage. At least you get one guaranteed strong Ground-type attack, but afterwards you have to play with 30 percent accuracy for a possible one-hit-KO. Hype when it hits, but terrible otherwise.

Will this be the new meta though? Gastrodon still does well defensively against a lot of the metagame and its access to Toxic and Recover is valuable for a stall matchup. However, Gastrodon’s middling base 83 Attack stat requires a couple of Curses to be useful with the reliance on Fissure not helping much. I could see it as a niche pick for some teams, but not something that could rival other Water and Ground-types for team slots.

One More to Go

With Seattle behind us, we have just one more regional left in the US. Madison is always a stacked event, and with an official stream coming to the event, all eyes will be on this tournament. Seattle champion Justin Burns’ qualification makes 23 Masters qualified from North America, with surely a bunch more relying on Madison and the upcoming North American International Championships. Make sure to check out twitch.tv/pokemonvgc for coverage from Madison, and right back here in a week for a recap of the action!

(Also there’s a regional happening across the pond in Birmingham, UK that’s also getting an official stream! We’ll give you a recap from there as well!)

Thanks for reading!


Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Australian Regionals finally announced: What this means for their representation at Worlds

Despite being a host nation for one of the season’s International Championships, Australia has zero Regional Championships this season. At least, this was the case until May 26th, nearly a month before the pre-Worlds stage of the season comes to a close, where two regionals seemingly appeared overnight on the official Pokemon.com event locator.

A Little Late

No kidding. After an entire season of no major events since the Melbourne International Championships, Australia finally has Regional Championships on its schedule. Suffering a large downgrade from seven regionals last season, many were confused as to why there were no regionals announced for a country that was to host one of the biggest events of the season. Finally an announcement comes in May for two regionals happening two weeks apart from each other in June. These two regionals could be “make or break” tournaments for most Australian players, as their Championship totals are not as high as other major regions.

Let’s Talk Championship Points

These are the current Championship Point standings for the Oceania region, where 250 points (formally 350) are required to qualify for the World Championships. Much like Europe, Australia received a 100 point deduction to their CP bar for qualification due to the low amount of potential qualifiers from these regions. According to these current standings, four players (plus Zoe Lou the Melbourne IC champion who is not listed for some reason) have qualified from Australia. Beyond the top 15, there are seven other Australian players who exceed 200 CP.

With only two regionals, a few premier challenges and the current May International Challenge happening this weekend, the remaining CP required for these players could be quite tricky to obtain.

What This Means For Players Still Looking to Qualify

Here is the CP payout structure for 2017 Regional Championships. Considering the fact that it is late into the season and Australia not having the largest competitive scene, the kicker here becomes very important. Some North American and European Regionals have struggled to make the 128 player mark, which makes CP possible for the top 32. If one or both of these Australian regionals don’t break 128 players, a top 16 or better placing becomes the only way for players around the 200 CP mark to qualify if they’re are only able to attend one of these events.

Timing is also a concern for some players. Since these regionals are so close together time-wise (June 10th/June 24th) this could mean only one of these events is possible for some players who have monetary or schedule conflicts. With such a high placing being necessary for some Australian players to qualify, the one event some may decide to attend could be a make or break tournament.

Underrepresented in Anaheim?

While the announcement of regionals for Australia will ensure more invites for the region, this is still quite a step back from the plethora of events from last season. With an invite structure like 2017’s, having a good amount of tournaments for a region is essential for reasonably distributing invites.

Australia had a total of 31 masters qualify for the 2016 World Championships, and we’re likely to see more than half of that amount reduced for 2017. Granted, 2016’s CP requirement was much lower, but Australia has shown to be a fairly formidable region with two players in the Top Cut in two of the last three World Championships.

The 2017 season has been for the most part a flop on the end of TPCi in terms of tournament organization and communication with their player base, and Australia’s situation is no different. I hope that these upcoming regionals in Sydney and Perth will secure invites for more Australian players and that TPCi learns from their mistakes this season with Australia being one of the examples to look back on.

Thanks for reading!


Images courtesy of Pokemon.com

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How Good is Your Eevee Matchup in VGC 2017?

Eevee is a Pokemon beloved by fans mainly for its colorful array of evolved forms. These evolved forms of Eevee have had success in a number of competitive formats, but with Pokemon Sun and Moon’s introduction of Z-Moves, Eevee has now solidified itself as a force to be reckoned with.

Extreme Evoboost

Image result for extreme evoboost gif

Image from Pokemon Sun and Moon

Eevee’s signature Z-move is Extreme Evoboost, a move that makes Xerneas’ Geomancy look pitiful by comparison. This Z-Move doubles all of Eevee’s stats, which Eevee can then Baton Pass to something that can use these boosts to sweep your team. This strategy was regarded as nothing but a gimmick earlier in the format but has risen in popularity recently due to how difficult it can be to stop.

The Evoboost strategy has a number of auto-loss scenarios involving the removal of the stat boosts or the team’s chosen sweeper. The team itself has evolved significantly to help mitigate its weaknesses, but sometimes a random Haze can ruin the team’s win potential.

In this article, we’ll go over all of the ways a team can shut down Eevee’s shenanigans by level of effectiveness. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be able to answer the question: “How good is my Eevee matchup?”

The Typical Eevee Team Members

Image result for eevee

Eevee

Eevee’s move set is standard across most teams with Last Resort (needed to use Extreme Evoboost), Baton Pass and Protect being essential. Some players choose to run attacking moves like Quick Attack to help break Focus Sashes or Double-Edge to give Eevee some means of damage output.

Image result for smeargle

Smeargle

Smeargle is not nearly as devastating with it losing access to Dark Void, but it’s by no means useless. Moody can still swing games into one’s favor with one Speed or Evasion boost and Smeargle’s support move pool remains virtually endless.  You can expect the typical Fake Out, Spore and Follow Me for almost all Smeargle accompanying Eevee, but the fourth move slot has room for variance. Spiky Shield, Wide Guard, Parting Shot and Transform are all viable fourth move options.

Image result for clefairy

Clefairy

Friend Guard plus Follow Me support is Clefairy’s game for most teams. Heal Pulse is also standard to help heal the Evoboosted sweepers to increase their longevity.

Some skilled players may Protect Clefairy on a predicted double attack into it, which usually leaves Eevee free to set up or Baton Pass. To prevent this game-costing mistake it’s usually just safe to attack the Eevee slot even with an obvious coming Follow Me.

Image result for whimsicott

Whimsicott

A rather new member to the Eevee team, Whimsicott has support options unique from Clefairy and Smeargle. Whimsicott can use Tailwind to ensure Eevee and its teammates are faster than the opponent’s team. Prankster Taunt can be used to shut down an opponent’s moves like Taunt or Haze due to Prankster’s increased priority. Other potential options could be Encore, Memento, Reflect, Light Screen, Safeguard and much more.

Image result for krookodile

Krookodile

The primary physical sweeper of the team, Krookodile is valued for its access to the move Power Trip. Acting like Stored Power (which we’ll get to soon) the base power of Power Trip increases for each stat boost on the user (Power Trip becomes a base 220 power move with the Extreme Evoboost stat raises). Krookodile’s ability could either be Intimidate to weaken its opponents or Moxie which can further increase its Attack power with each KO it picks up.

Image result for espeon

Espeon

Espeon is another commonly used sweeper with it having access to the aforementioned Stored Power. This incredibly powerful 220 base power move is devastating with it even having the potential to be increased in strength from an opponent’s Psychic Terrain.

Espeon’s ability Magic Bounce makes it even more useful for this combo. Magic Bounce allows Espeon to negate status moves that target it like Roar, Whirlwind, Thunder Wave, Taunt, etc.

While already having very high Special Attack and Speed, Espeon can easily be invested more on the defensive side with little detriment to its sweeping power.

Image result for tapu fini

Tapu Fini

While Tapu Fini doesn’t get access to a move like Stored Power and Power Trip, it’s high base defenses and ability to set up Misty Terrain make it a valuable teammate. Misty Terrain can block status conditions while Tapu Fini itself can use Psych Up and perform the role of a sweeper. With access to Psych Up, Eevee players have options in how to use or set up Tapu Fini.

How To Beat Eevee

1) Taunt

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I decided to put Taunt at the top since its the most widely learned move in the format. Taunt does a number of things by stopping Follow Me from Clefairy and Smeargle to stopping Eevee from using Baton Pass.

There are a number of viable Pokemon that have access to Taunt that can also out-speed Smeargle such as Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Aerodactyl, Whimsicott, Murkrow, etc.

2) Haze

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/426.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/198.png

A lesser seen move in competitive play, but quite a useful move in this format. Haze eliminates all stat changes (even negative ones) on the field. With the stat boosts gone, there’s nothing for the Eevee strategy to work with so it usually falls apart.

Support Pokemon like Murkrow and Drifblim can take advantage of their speed. Murkrow is particularly effective since it is immune to Prankster Taunt due to its Dark-typing. We’ve even seen haze tech’d onto Choice Specs Tapu Fini sets which is a great way to catch an Eevee team off-guard.

3) Perish Song

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With the absence of Shadow Tag, Perish Song has not seen much use in VGC 2017. Luckily, the Perish Song counter transfers through Baton Pass ensuring that either the sweeper and/or the boosted stats are gone in three turns.

The downside of Perish Song is that it requires either an uncommon teammate like Politoed, Murkrow, or Gengar or the sacrifice of a more common move on a Pokemon like Marowak.

4) Roar/Whirlwind

These moves are quite common with potential use on popular Pokemon like Arcanine, Gyarados, Tapu Koko and Tapu Bulu. If Eevee can be targeted on turn one, then Roar can force Eevee out and remove all of its boosts.

The reason why Roar is harder to use as an answer these days is because of the increased usage of Espeon. Still, Roar can be a surprise to win a first game if the opponent is not expecting it.

5) Trick Room

I initially made this section just “Speed Control” but with the growing popularity of Whimsicott, Tailwind is significantly less effective. Pokemon like Smeargle and Clefairy can prove troublesome for Trick Room as Smeargle can Spore the Trick Room setter and Clefairy’s low speed makes it easier to spam Heal Pulse under Trick Room. The reason I believe Trick Room is the most effective method of speed control for dealing with Eevee teams is that Trick Room sweepers like Snorlax, Gigalith, and Torkoal can all either boost themselves or fire off strong attacks from the get-go.

6) Offense

Of course, if you don’t have a special tech move you can always try to overwhelm Eevee and its teammate to make turn one a bit more difficult. It’s a difficult situation for both players as there is a bunch of mind games with potential Protects and Smeargle shenanigans.

Tapu Koko in combination with another fast Pokemon like Garchomp, Kartana and Nihilego threaten huge damage to Eevee and its partner with the Electric Terrain blocking Spore. Tapu Lele plus another heavy hitter can prevent Smeargle from using Fake Out with Tapu Lele potentially threatening a KO or a Taunt.

There are a good amount of combinations that threaten Eevee solely based on damage output, but there is still a large prediction game to deal with.

7) Snarl + Intimidate

This “strategy” is at the bottom since Snarl isn’t too common and Intimidate is useless in the face of Espeon or Tapu Fini. Still, lowering your opponent’s stats is a good way to check the Eevee player’s damage output, but there’s going to have to be a lot of switching and predicting involved with this strategy as well.

8) Good Individual Pokemon Against Eevee

Image result for mimikyu png

  • Mimikyu

    An already established Trick Room setter that also has access to Taunt. Or if you want to be like Gary Qian, you can use Curse to inflict a Perish Song-like effect onto Eevee and its potential Baton Pass targets.

    Image result for kartana png

  • Kartana

    Kartana’s fantastic typing plus its ability Beast Boost make it a huge threat to Eevee on its own. It can hit a lot of the Eevee team for super-effective damage and even rival in stat boosts if it’s able to pick up KO’s.

    Image result for arcanine png

  • Arcanine

    Arcanine is pretty much on every team plus it gets access to moves like Roar and Snarl to accomplish two of the aforementioned strategies. Just a good Pokemon to have in general.

Rating Your Eevee Match Up

  • Any of the Top 3 listed = Great! 

  • 4/5 = OK

  • Anything below 5 = Consider the first 5

  • Any combination of the above strategies is an “OK” or better.

I hope this article was able to help any players out there who struggle with the Eevee matchup. If you’re looking to potentially try the Extreme Evoboost strategy for yourself, check out Giovanni Costa’s 2017 teams so far or check out Sejun Park’s team he used to get Top 4 at the Korean National Championships. Good luck with Eevee!

Thanks for reading!


Art/Images of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Featured Image from Pokémon Sun and Moon

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Xurkitree Glows in Toronto: VGC 2017 Toronto Regional Championships Recap

Another regional in the books, with Martin Gasdosz taking the title in Toronto. Gajdosz successfully defended his home country against an onslaught of US players who made it into Top Cut. Gajdosz’s team was a relatively standard choice, but we saw quite a diverse group of Pokemon and teams in Toronto’s Top 8.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Martin Gajdosz

2. Joshua Lorcy

3. Ian McLaughlin

4. Alex Lebel

5. Nicholas Borghi

6. Sam Partin

7. David Mancuso

8. Trista Medine

Xurkitree On the RiseImage result for xurkitree png

Ian McLaughlin places in yet another Top 8 with his infamous Smeargle and Ultra Beast team. His strategy centers around Smeargle’s ability to disrupt and sometimes take over games with its insane support abilities while his Ultra Beasts sweep their opponents. One of the shining examples (literally) on this team is McLaughlin’s Xurkitree, which likes to set up Tail Glow with help from its friend Smeargle. We saw this strategy take McLaughlin to yet another impressive finish, but he was behind another Xurkitree user with a similar strategy.

Joshua Lorcy put a new, but similar spin on the common Xurkitree formula, with his partner of choice being Hariyama. Hariyama is a Pokemon valued for its bulk and access to Fake Out, which Lorcy showed could be quite useful to Xurkitree. Fake Out from Hariyama buys Xurkitree a turn to set up Tail Glow, and at this point I think you know where this goes.

If Smeargle and Xurkitree reminds you of Smeargle and Xerneas from last year, think of Kangaskhan & Xerneas when you see another Fake Out user like Hariyama.

Bottom Line: This is a deadly combo that will likely show up in many more Top Cuts this season.

The Blaster over The BladeImage result for celesteela png

Toronto’s Top Cut produced another interesting bit of data: Celesteela beat Kartana in usage. Something unheard of since the early stages of 2017, Celesteela appeared on five teams, with Kartana only featured twice. Are players beginning to move away from Kartana? I don’t think so, but I think it’s fair to assume that this is a usage battle that will likely flip-flop between tournaments.

Kartana and Celesteela serve similar roles on teams as a reliable Steel-type, but serve them a bit differently. Kartana threatens opponents with absurd amounts of damage, while Celesteela is threatening for its solid defenses. They both fit on a lot of popular team compositions, but Celesteela often fits better with the other common “goodstuffs” core with Pokemon like Tapu Koko and Garchomp.

A trend that we normally see emerge towards the end of formats is the increased bulk of teams. Teams usually opt for more defensive Pokemon and bulkier variants of offensive Pokemon. There’s no single explanation for why this is, but Celesteela’s usage dominance over Kartana could be a strong signal for the beginning of this trend in 2017.

Niche Picks

Toronto finally gave me a reason to bring this segment back. We have two interesting Pokemon to talk about today.

MachampImage result for machamp png

Despite winning two World Championships in the last two years, Machamp has flown under the radar for most of 2017 so far. Sam Partin finally brought the four-armed fighter into relevance with his rather unique take on Machamp. According to the stream casters, Partin’s Machamp was running Scope Lens as a means of helping the critical hit rate of Cross Chop.

Cross Chop is quite a smart move choice for this format and I’ll tell you why. The most common Fighting-type move on Machamp is Dynamic Punch, as its low accuracy is remedied by Machamp’s No Guard ability, with it also having a 100 percent chance to confuse the target. Unfortunately, the confusion chance is undermined by Tapu Fini’s ability to set up Misty Terrain, which will block any Pokemon from becoming confused.

Here’s where Cross Chop comes in. Cross Chop has middling accuracy as well as the same base power (100) as Dynamic Punch, but the critical hit chance will remain. Having the ability to score critical hits makes Machamp almost just as threatening as a Pokemon that can spread confusion. Although I think Scope Lens is a bit of an odd item-choice for such a slow Pokemon, Cross Chop makes a lot of sense when using a Machamp in this format.

VanilluxeImage result for vanilluxe png

This adorable ice-cream cone has fallen into relative obscurity in the presence of the new Alolan version of Ninetales. What you might not know about Vanilluxe is that it too was given the ability Snow Warning which allows it to summon hail when it enters battle.

Why Ninetales over Vanilluxe? Well, Ninetales is a lot faster and has access to the amazing support move Aurora Veil. The downside of Ninetales is that its offensive capabilities leave much to be desired. That’s where Vanilluxe can shine. Despite having a much lower speed stat, Vanilluxe has an impressive base 110 Special Attack stat which allows for much stronger Blizzard-spam. That’s why normally we see Vanilluxe hold the Choice Scarf to serve as a more offensive alternative to Ninetales.

This is the variant of Vanilluxe that Trista Medine used to get Top 8 in Toronto and will likely be the only kind of Vanilluxe we’ll see if another manages to make it this far in the future.

Final Thoughts

As the number of regionals left in the season dies down, our sights are now set on Madison, Wisconsin for the penultimate North American regional. Madison has been the sight for some exciting tournaments in previous years, and I’m sure 2017 will not disappoint. Huge shoutout to twitch.tv/kemony for their great stream coverage from Toronto and make sure to tune into twitch.tv/NuggetBridge for their stream from Madison Regionals!

Thanks for Reading!

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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