pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Strategies to expect for the remaining 2017 Pokemon VGC season

The 2017 World Championships have come and gone, and so far, two regionals have already taken place. There are still many remaining events that will use the 2017 rule-set, including the London International Championships happening in November. If you are planning on competing in one of these upcoming tournaments, you’re probably wondering what kind of metagame you should prepare for. This can be difficult considering the last two top cuts in Ft. Wayne and Bremen looked almost nothing like Anaheim’s. So, how should you prepare for the post-worlds VGC 2017 metagame? Hopefully we’ll have some answers for you.

An Overview

For starters, I’d like to break down the current metagame into two categories: successful world’s teams and counters.

The three most popular teams to come out of Anaheim’s top cut are Sam Pandelis’ Mandibuzz and Tapu Lele team, Tomoyuki Yoshimura’s take on MetaMence and Paul Ruiz’s Persian and friends composition. The reason I mention these specifically is that all of these teams have appeared on popular VGC YouTubers channels (including but not limited to CybertronProductions, Osirus Studios and Ray Rizzo).

These teams are picking up popularity because they’re 1) Relatively easy to play and 2) Are quite consistent in a number of match ups.

I wouldn’t count on not seeing any other teams from the Top Cut of the World Championships, but if you’re bound to run into any, it will likely be one of these three.

Of course, when teams do well, the next logical step is to figure out a way to counter them. We’ve already seen Mandibuzz and Persian pick up in usage (not just because of Ruiz and Pandelis) but because Foul Play is a solid answer to MetaMence. I’ll get into some other counters in a bit, but your mission as a team builder is to create something that counters the meta and something that counters the counters.

Sounds easy right?

Popular World’s Strategies

I’ve already mentioned the teams from World’s that I think will be the most popular, but adaptations aren’t totally out of the question. These are modes from successful World’s teams that are the most likely to be adapted.

MetaMencesalamence pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

We’ve already dedicated an entire piece to MetaMence, so make sure to check that out if you want a detailed breakdown. One thing I praised MetaMence for is its flexibility in team building, which is why I expect it to return with a different supporting cast.

Foul Play users like Mandibuzz and Persian or bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini and even Milotic are good answers to this combo. Foul Play makes Metagross think twice about wanting to boost while the bulky Water Pokemon can these two for either neutral or super-effective damage.

Mandibuzz, Tapu Lele and Friendsmandibuzz pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Tailwind and Tapu Lele go together so well and it looks like Mandibuzz has taken over Drifblim’s spot as Lele’s speed-boosting partner. This team has become slightly harder to deal with now that Ninetales can buff up its teammates with Aurora Veil while Xurkitree and Garchomp set up in your face. The hyper-offense nature of the team forces a lot of defensive play so setting up and sweeping can be easy for this team to pull off.

Alolan Marowak was clutch for Ryota Otsubo in the finals as Marowak was able to break Pandelis’ Aurora Veil with Brick Break and halt Xurkitree’s Thunderbolts with Marowak’s Lightningrod ability. Tapu Fini works pretty well here too, being able to switch the Terrain and threaten Fairy-type attacks on Mandibuzz and Garchomp. Basically, denying the team set-up by taking away things like Tailwind, Aurora Veil and Psychic Terrain are the way to beat it. It’s tough considering one mistake could lead to Garchomp and/or Xurkitree 2-0’ing you.

Whimsicott’s Z-Nature Powerwhimsicott pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

How could I mention Worlds without talking about the team that won it all? We saw how much of a threat Whimsicott was, being able to fire off priority Z-moves and support Otsubo’s team with Charm and Tailwind. 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati has already earned a Top 4 and Top 8 placing with a team very similar to Otsubo’s with a bit more of a standard approach (Arcanine > Marowak, Garchomp > Krookodile).

While I don’t think Otsubo’s exact team will make big waves post-worlds, Whimsicott might solidify itself as a viable Tailwind supporter.

Persian and Boosting Sweepersalolan persian pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Paul Ruiz showed us yet again how terrifying and annoying Alolan Persian can be to deal with, especially with two monsters who can boost their stats next to it. Persian has a lot of disruptive options at its disposal making it easy for Pokemon like Snorlax to set up and sweep without even needing a Speed advantage. Fake Out can buy you a free turn, Parting Shot weakens your opponent’s threats and Foul Play can eliminate your opponent’s heavy physical hitters.

As for Dragon Dance sweepers, Gyarados and Salamence are great next to Persian. In his team report, Ruiz liked Salamence because of its higher Speed and Attack stats compared to Gyarados. Salamence, arguably, has better matchups, but like Gyarados, it has a 4x weakness to a very common attacking type. Something they also have in common is their heavy hitting Supersonic Skystrike coming off of moves that would normally take two turns to hit (Fly and Bounce respectively). What I personally don’t like about the Flynium-Z route for these two is that their attacking options become severely limited after the Z-move is burned. However, if that Z-move hits into a non-resisted target, expect a KO to start the game.

For counters, Ruiz didn’t like his match up against Mandibuzz and Trick Room (Mimikyu+Snorlax mainly). Mandibuzz does threaten his mostly physical team with Foul Play and can easily take away the speed advantage with Tailwind. Trick Room is threatening simply because this team has a fast Snorlax, allowing most other Snorlax to beat it under Trick Room.

Go check out his team report here!

Counters to Consider

Now here’s the fun part: the counters that you’ll have to counter.

Mandibuzz/Persianalolan persian pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Not to be redundant, but these two have picked up a ton of popularity after Worlds. Both can decimate a boosted Metagross and Snorlax with Foul Play while providing excellent support.

Lightningrodtogedemaru pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Tapu Koko and Xurkitree are as popular as ever following the World Championships, and there’s nothing that these two hate going up against more than Lightningrod (and maybe a Garchomp holding a Choice Scarf). Alolan Marowak looks to be the favorite, but I wouldn’t count out Togedemaru. Togedemaru can be a pain to deal with being able to Fake Out, Encore and flinch your team to death with Zing Zap. Marowak mainly just does damage. Lot’s and lots of damage.

Weathertorkoal pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

News flash: Rain and Sun are still good. It’s mainly the sun I want to talk about though. Since Worlds, Torkoal has won two regionals with a second one appearing in Ft. Wayne’s Top 4. Rain, on the other hand, has had zero appearances. I think players were sleeping on Torkoal while Pelipper and Golduck were tearing up the metagame, but Torkoal can still bring the heat. Whether partnered with Lilligant or under Trick Room, those Eruptions are going to melt teams unprepared for the Sun match up. For any team being built after Worlds, make sure you pack something that can deal with Torkoal, Lilligant and the other usual suspects (Tapu Lele, Pheromosa, etc.).

MimiLaxmimikyu pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Despite all of the Foul Play, Snorlax is here to stay. Mimikyu looks like its back after an impressive showing at the World Championships as Snorlax’s main Trick Room setter. Mimikyu can be an incredibly annoying Pokemon to deal with especially since it basically has a free hit it can take thanks to Disguise. Not to mention, Ghostium Z has become the go-to item for Mimikyu so have fun trying to predict whether or not your opponent goes for NeverEnding Nightmare or Z-Destiny Bond.

Snorlax on the other hand, well, it’ll just keep using Belly Drum.

Smearglesmeargle pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

For our last Pokemon, here’s a bit of an underdog that I expect to do well post-worlds (I promise I’ll stop the puns now). A couple Smeargle have popped up in Ft. Wayne and Bremen next to Ultra Beasts that Smeargle likes to partner up with. Smeargle is a very disruptive Pokemon that can easily draw attention away from the boosting monsters known as Nihilego, Xurkitree and Pheromosa. Oh did I mention that Porygon-Z took home a regional title in Bremen next to Smeargle?

Taunt is likely going to be a good choice for your team.

Final Thoughts

So far we’ve seen two regional Top Cuts that look completely different from the World Championships that were just a month ago. I’m not sure how far VGC 2017 has left to go in terms of creativity, but I think I summed up what we’re most likely going to see in the next couple months. Then again, Dragonite has been on the rise so at this point anything can happen.

Hartford, Connecticut is our next location for regionals coming up at the end of the month. A stream will be provided thanks to Clash Tournaments which brings a huge sigh of relief for us journalists. We’ll be recapping everything that goes down in Hartford, but until then we’ve got you covered with everything Pokemon VGC!

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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

dusk form lycanroc pokemon

Could Lycanroc’s Dusk Form make it competitively viable?

In the wake of all of the news we’ve been receiving for Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, one Pokemon has been given a noticeable amount of attention: Lycanroc. Lycanroc is getting a new form which looks to combine aspects from its previously introduced Midday and Midnight forms. However, we haven’t really seen much from Lycanroc in the competitive scene, and when we did it was usually the Midday form. We don’t know much about Lycanroc’s new form, but Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct gave us some new info that suggests there is competitive potential for this new Dusk Form. With some speculation, allow me to make a case for the viability of Lycanroc’s Dusk Form.

What Dusk Form Lycanroc Will Have

Like I said, we don’t know much about Lycanroc’s Dusk Form so far, but there are some significant things we just recently found out.

A Signature Z-Move that beats the Tapu Pokemon?

Lycanroc Dusk Form Pokemon

Artwork of Dusk Form Lycanroc using its signature Z-move (image credit to Pokemon)

The most recent Nintendo Direct showed us Lycanroc’s signature Z-move: Splintered Stormshards. This Z-move can actually be used with all three Lycanroc forms, but what makes it interesting is its secondary effect.

Splintered Stormshards dismantles the current, on-field Terrain effect.

Could Lycanroc become a Tapu slayer? Well there’s another thing that deserves mentioning. The Lycanroc in the trailer failed to KO the Tapu Koko that it was up against. Normally, attacking Z-moves are insanely powerful attacks and Tapu Koko isn’t the most defensive Pokemon out there. A normal Continental Crush should easily be able to wipe a Tapu Koko off of the field, so why didn’t this Z-move KO? An early theory I had was that Splintered Stormshards’ damage was based off of Accelerock which doesn’t make sense since Lycanroc’s Midnight Form can’t learn Accelerock. Accelerock is only a base 40 power move, so that could easily explain the lacking damage output. If this Z-move is based off of Accelerock, then this could be a way to potentially balance the removal of the Terrain effect.

Returning to my previous question, does this make Lycanroc the new “Tapu Slayer”? Considering two of the Island Guardians can easily KO Lycanroc with super effective hits while the others are also powerful attackers, I think it’s safe to say that Lycanroc won’t be able to take on a Tapu on its own. Still, considering how prevalent the Tapu Pokemon are in competitive play, this is a Z-move worth looking into.

Happy Hour

Lycanroc Dusk Form Pokemon

Speaking of Z-moves, let’s talk about Happy Hour. Happy Hour, on its own, isn’t that great. It’s basically a glorified Splash that get’s a cute little animation to go with it. However, with the power of Normalium Z, Z-Happy Hour gives the user a boost in their Attack, Special Attack, Defense, Special Defense and Speed.

Lycanroc already has a solid boosting move in Swords Dance, but the ability to boost all of its other stats is huge. The downside is that this set up will take a turn, and Lycanroc isn’t exactly the most defensive Pokemon. With that being said, having a boosting move like this is big for Lycanroc, and maybe with some better moves, it will be able to tear through teams .

Different (Hopefully Better) Stats 

As Dusk Form Lycanroc looks to be sort of a fusion between the existing forms, this likely means we’ll see elements of both’s stats reflected in Dusk Form’s base stat total. Unfortunately, since this isn’t an “upgraded” form, we’re still left with Lycanroc’s sub par 487 BST, meaning it doesn’t look like it will get much better.

Ideally, Dusk Form’s stats should retain: the base 115 Attack (shared), Midday’s Speed and the slightly higher defense stats of Midnight. The main issue here is the pitiful defense stats which could really use a boost. Other than that, the Attack and Speed are great, but I would expect Dusk Form’s defenses to remain low.

What Dusk Form Lycanroc Needs

We’ve already covered the stats department so I’ll keep this section very simple.

BETTER MOVES

Lycanroc Dusk Form Pokemon

Move Tutors in Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (image credit to Serebii)

One of the biggest complaints about Lycanroc was it’s absolutely terrible move pool. The standard Lycanroc moveset didn’t go beyond a Rock-type move and an elemental Fang for coverage, but that left much to be desired.

One thing that is pretty much guaranteed for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is the return of the Move Tutor which can give Lycanroc some better moves to work with. Having moves like Superpower, Super Fang, Knock Off, Iron Head or maybe even Drill Run could add so much to Lycanroc’s coverage and actually make it a pretty decent attacker. It’s ability is Tough Claws, so giving it some more attacks that make contact would be ideal.

Lastly, I know they don’t do this often, but maybe they could even give Lycanroc access to Earthquake? Out of all of the Pokemon to not get Earthquake, Lycanroc was one that left many players scratching their heads. Many of the most successful Rock-types in the game benefit from the use of Earthquake, and Lycanroc not having access to it immediately placed it in a tier below the rest. Like I said, Pokemon having access to new TM’s doesn’t happen often in the same generation, but considering how much attention they’re giving Lycanroc, maybe they could listen to the fans on this one.

So, Will Dusk Form Lycanroc be Good?

Lycanroc Dusk Form Pokemon

With all of the information we currently have, there’s still a ton we don’t know. That being said, there is definitely a ton of potential. Better stats, access to more moves and now a pretty solid Z-move could turn Lycanroc into a solid Pokemon.

At this point, we won’t know for sure until the games come out and the new competitive format begins. I’m optimistic we’ll see Lycanroc’s Dusk Form at the top of some high-level tournaments when the format switches to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon/X&Y/Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

Featured Image from Pokemon The Series: Sun and Moon (anime)

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

vgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Analyzing Meta-Mence: Is it really that good?

What were once some of the most niche Pokemon in the metagame have solidified themselves as a duo to be reckoned with in the late stages of the 2017 format. Salamence, a dragon that is mostly inferior to Garchomp, and an Intimidator that appears outclassed by Arcanine. Metagross, a solid Steel-type attacker that suffers immensely from its main methods of damage not being 100% accurate. These off-meta picks have seen sparse usage over the course of the season, but ever since the North American Internationals, these two have skyrocketed in popularity. Is this combo the next big thing for the VGC 2017 metagame? Let’s find out.

How this combo worksvgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Salamence has been known in the past for dealing fast damage as one of the game’s best Dragon-types. This season, realizing Salamence’s offensive potential has been stunted by the abundance of Fairy-type Pokemon, players came up with a more defensive variant holding the Assault Vest.

Metagross is still pretty much the same, being able to threaten major damage with attacks like Meteor Mash and Zen Headbutt. The Weakness Policy is an item that Metagross users have been satisfied with already, but what if there was a way to gain the boosts from Weakness Policy by activating it yourself?

Enter Salamence, and the move Bulldoze. Bulldoze is a pretty weak Ground-type attack that damages all Pokemon on the field while guaranteeing a Speed drop on those hit. Players usually train their Salamence defensively and in the Special Attack stat so Bulldoze won’t do a lot of damage to the partner Metagross. Metagross’ Clear Body negates the Speed drop of Bulldoze, but the super-effective hit activates the Weakness Policy, doubling Metagross’ Attack and Special Attack. This instantly turns Metagross into a massive threat, while Salamence can continue to provide Intimidate support for the team.

This seems like a solid strategy on paper, and believe me, it is a neat combo. However, this duo has its fair share of weaknesses which we’ll examine shortly.

Pros and Consvgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Pro: Team Flexibility 

  • Dragon and Steel is already a solid defensive core, and many players add a Tapu to complete the “Fantasy” core of Dragon/Steel/Fairy. Since most teams can easily complete this core, Meta-Mence has found itself on a number of different teams.

Con: Common Weaknesses

  • Salamence has been pushed aside for the majority of this format due to its weaknesses to the popular Fairy and Ice-type attacks. Metagross may not be able to have its stats lowered, but it does struggle against the ever-present Arcanine. Plus, neither of these two handle the format’s most popular Tapu (Koko & Fini) very well, and both can find it hard to take strong, special hits.

Pro: The Good Matchups 

  • While Salamence and Metagross do have their share of weaknesses, they both have the ability to deal with some pretty popular Pokemon. Salamence walls Kartana as well as Arcanine, while also being a great switch-in for Garchomp since Garchomps normally don’t run Dragon Claw. Metagross has a ton of resistances for just being a Steel-type and has a great move-pool to compliment its offensive presence. Together, these two work pretty well at handling each other’s weaknesses.

Con: The Mirror Match

  • When playing with these two, the likelihood of facing a mirror match at a large or local event is high. It can be difficult to gain an edge in the mirror match without accidentally activating the other player’s Weakness Policy. There is a lot of positioning needed to gain the upper hand, and knowing where you have advantages is crucial.

Pro: Consistency 

  • This duo can win, and if played correctly through Swiss, a title run is possible. Setting up Metagross can be quite simple if you’re given even the slightest advantage, and Bulldoze is a great way to disrupt the opponent as well. If you want results, Tomoyuki Yoshimura had a very unique take on a team fitting for these two and managed to get Top 4 at this year’s World Championships. That being said…

Con: People are prepared 

  • I should also mention, Yoshimura was the only one in Top 8 using Meta-Mence with only one other player in the Top 19 cut doing the same. Also, there was only a single Metagross in the Top 8 of the recent Ft. Wayne Regional Championship. By now this strategy has been in the game for a while and players will be prepared to face it. Like any other popular strategy, a new take on it might be necessary for success.

So how good is Meta-Mence?

Overall, I’d still say this strategy is pretty good. It fits on a number of different team compositions and is consistent enough to reach the highest levels of even the World Championships. If you’re thinking of building a team around these two, be warned, as you may run into a lot of mirrors since this combo has become so popular. It’ll just take the right team and the right plays for this strategy to potentially take one of the remaining regional championships for the 2017 format. We’ll just have to wait and see which player will take Meta-Mence to a title.


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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Slowing things down: VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Championships recap

The first regional championships stateside for the 2018 season have wrapped up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Alex Underhill earns his second regional victory under the 2017 ruleset with a team that would make Gavin Michaels proud. The reason I bring Michaels’ up is that not only is he also a two-time regional champion under the 2017 ruleset, but Underhill took a page right out of Michaels’ “hard Trick Room” handbook. There were a couple of familiar team members, but Underhill made sure to add some interesting new ones to the archetype. We’ll take a look at Underhill’s team as well as other story lines but first, as always, here are the results:

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Alex Underhill

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/750.png

2. Abe Brath

3. Jeremy Rodrigues

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/133.pngf:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221443p:plainhttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/547.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/553.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/196.png

4. Joohwan Kim

5. Case Bongirne

6. Jake Muller

Alola Form

7. Kevin Swastek

8. Alberto Lara

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/350.png

*Teams data collected/provided by Nicholas Borghi, Michael Bailey and Trainer Tower*

A New Take on Hard Trick Room

Alex Underhill’s winning team actually resembles his Worlds team that he led to a Day 2 finish just short of Top Cut. Dedicated Trick Room teams weren’t that common this season and only saw success thanks to Gavin Michaels. Underhill didn’t simply recycle (this joke would’ve worked a lot better if Underhill used Snorlax) old tricks. He shook up the original team with a couple of new additions.

 lucario VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Lucario

Lucario plays a couple of unique supportive roles on this team. It can either re-direct damage away from its partner with Follow Me, or eliminate a threat by trading its own life with Final Gambit. Lucario can make it even easier for Underhill’s Mimikyu to set up Trick Room for the team.

mudsdale VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Mudsdale

This isn’t Mudsdale’s first time on the big stage, but its certainly new to a team like this. Mudsdale was likely added to deal with the excessive amount of Tapu Koko and Xurkitree. Not to mention, it also does pretty well against other Pokemon players have used to re-direct electricity, like Togedemaru and Marowak.

drampa VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Drampa

Drampa was actually a member of Michaels’ two-time regional winning team but was later switched out for Snorlax. Drampa is still a threatening Pokemon, especially under Trick Room. A powerful spread-damaging Hyper Voice, Draco Meteor and great coverage makes Drampa a solid Trick Room attacker. Also its ability, Berserk, can raise its impressive Special Attack even further.

Eevee Finally Gets a Brick 

vgc 2018 ft. wayne regional pokemon

Jeremy Rodrigues at the Virginia Regional Championships. Photo Credit: Doug Morisoli

The regional trophies look like bricks if anyone didn’t know.

Anyway, Eevee players have had a difficult time reaching the top stages of large tournaments. Sejun Park seemed to finally break this curse by taking Eevee to a Top 4 finish at the Korean National Championships. Now that Sejun has left us for TCG, the only true Eevee player remaining looked to be Giovanni Costa. But it wasn’t him that finally broke Eevee’s Top 8 curse in America.

Jeremy Rodrigues finally earned Eevee a regional trophy in Ft. Wayne with a Top 4 finish. Rodriguez took a more standard approach to the Eevee archetype as opposed to Costa’s inclusion of Tapu Fini and Dragonite. While Costa claimed there were many anti-Eevee techs that killed his run, Ft. Wayne might’ve just been a bit unprepared for this niche strategy.

Is Dragonite The New Salamence?dragonite VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

While Salamence and Metagross dominated usage at this year’s World Championships, we get two Dragonite in Ft. Wayne’s Top Cut. Dragonite is a slightly more tanky Salamence with the ability Multiscale able to decrease super-effective damage while Dragonite is at full HP. But, there are a lot of things Dragonite and Salamence can do similarly. They both have access to Dragon Dance and they both have access to Bulldoze.

Could Dragonite potentially replace Salamence on a number of teams? Abe Brath and Case Bongirne seem to think so.

Niche Picks

I’m not sure why, but this didn’t look like a Top Cut that was inspired by the World Championships. We’ve already talked about Dragonite and Drampa, but wait there’s more!

murkrow VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Murkrow

After seeing Sam Pandelis use Mandibuzz to become the World runner-up, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see more Mandibuzz. I guess Murkrow works too.

When looking at Abe Brath’s team, I can see the slight inspiration from Pandelis’ team. Murkrow can set up Tailwind and do many of the things Mandibuzz can do at the cost of some of Mandibuzz’ bulk. Still, Murkrow can speed up Pokemon like Metagross and Xurkitree’s sweeping power due to Murkrow’s Prankster ability giving it priority Tailwind.

There are a couple things that make Murkrow unique, and it can work alongside powerful threats in a similar fashion to Mandibuzz. I still think we’re bound to see some more Mandibuzz.

alolan raichu VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Alolan Raichu

Raichu’s Alolan Form is something we saw at Worlds as a partner to Tapu Koko, but in Ft. Wayne Jake Muller might’ve used Raichu instead as a counter. Tapu Fini teams usually don’t have the best match up against opposing Tapu Koko, but having Raichu punishes your opponent for using Tapu Koko in a similar way to Togedemaru.

Alolan Raichu can be quite a pain to deal with under Electric Terrain, and what better way to abuse its Surge Surfer ability than if your opponent sets up the Terrain for you.

Final thoughts, and a word on the lack of a stream

Ft. Wayne was a very fun tournament to keep up with, but unfortunately there wasn’t a way for those not in attendance to watch the battles unfold. Unfortunately, a stream was not allowed by the organizers of the tournament, and they went so far as to email people interested in setting up a stream that they already had a stream set up. It’s one thing to not allow a stream for seemingly no reason, but to outwardly lie is a lot worse. Streaming events that don’t get official coverage is one of the main ways to get the game and the scene to grow, so organizers allowing streams should be a priority for regional-level events. On the bright side, it seems like there’s been a large initiative to stream many of the regionals not only in America but also in Europe. Streaming is a good thing people, let’s make sure it becomes a standard.

The 2018 season is just underway, and we’ve got a lot more to cover. That’s all from Ft. Wayne, and stay tuned for more tournament coverage!

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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

vgc 2017 tapu

VGC 2017 Retrospective: The rise of the Tapu

The introduction of the Island Guardians in the Video Game Championships brought four powerful Fairy-type Pokemon that became centerpieces for a majority of teams in the format. Before the “Surge” abilities, players almost never utilized each of the “Terrain” field effects because each one had to be set up manually, and their effects weren’t as valuable as, say, a weather effect. Now, with the ability to set up these terrains instantly, many teams were centered around each Tapu and their terrain’s respective benefits.

But the auto-terrain set-up wasn’t the only things that made each Tapu a good Pokemon. Tapu Koko has amazing speed, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Lele hit like trucks, while Tapu Fini was a bulky Water-type above the rest. Let’s take a look back at how these four Pokemon dominated the 2017 format.

The Terrains

vgc 2017 tapu

The terrain field effects were a neat new addition to the battlefield. Each terrain offered many different effects that were able to benefit not just the Tapu, but other Pokemon in the format as well.

Tapu Koko’s Electric Terrain allowed it to hit hard as Special Attacker, while also preventing its grounded teammates from being put to sleep. Tapu Lele’s Psychic Terrain made its already high-damaging Psychic attacks hit even harder, while the terrain also protected frail or weakened partners by stopping priority moves. Tapu Fini’s Misty Terrain was by far the most supportive, as it protected Pokemon from being afflicted by all forms of status effects. Finally, Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain allowed it to hit super hard on the physical side, while Grassy Terrain made Earthquake much less scary for Pokemon like Arcanine and Nihilego.

Naturally, with so many terrains, the war for control was present in every battle this format. While Tapu Koko had amazing speed, slower Tapu had the edge in the lead match-up since the slower Tapu had the Terrain advantage. The Tapu Pokemon do suffer quite a bit without the terrain advantage Tapu Fini less than the others), since they rely on their terrains for the much-needed power boost.

The Electric, Psychic, Grassy and Electric seeds were also neat items to compliment the newfound relevance of terrains, but only the Misty and Psychic Seeds saw regular play at top level events.

The terrains themselves weren’t overpowered in any way. If anything, the Surge abilities were a great addition to make them competitively viable. Terrain play will likely continue in future formats as the Pokemon who create them aren’t going away.

Assessing The Deities 

Now that we’ve explored the abilities that made these Pokemon valuable team members, let’s take a look at each one individually.

Tapu Kokotapu koko vgc 2017 tapu

For anyone who has had any experience with competitive play this season, Tapu Koko shouldn’t need an introduction. The speed, power and versatility of Tapu Koko are what solidified it at the top of usage for the entire season. The combination of Electric and Fairy-type attacks was a hard combo to switch into, which made Tapu Koko an excellent lead and late game Pokemon. Not to mention, Tapu Koko is probably the best user of Volt Switch, being able to re-position itself with the added damage from the Electric Terrain.

But Tapu Koko’s utility doesn’t end at damage. Tapu Koko’s supportive capabilities are shown in full force with the Assault Vest item. Speed plus access to Sky Drop made Tapu Koko an extremely dangerous partner for Pokemon like a Swords Dancing Garchomp or Trick Room setter. Tapu Koko was also by far the best user of Nature’s Madness, being able to knock 50% of an opponent, setting up an easy KO for its partner. Outside of Assault Vest variants, Tapu Koko’s third move slot could contain a ton of other great moves like Taunt, Hidden Power, or even Roar.

Tapu Koko was by far the go-to sixth team member for the 2017 format, and I fully expect it to continue to use all of its great tools in future formats.

Grade: A+

Tapu LeleImage result for tapu lele

While not as popular as Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele still remained high on the usage charts all season. It saw a bit of a dip when Tapu Fini, and later Tapu Bulu, hit the scene. Still, Tapu Lele was a powerhouse that was stupid to ignore.

I consider Tapu Lele the most hyper-offensive of the four, as its play-style relied heavily on abusing Psychic Terrain for big damage. This is usually why we saw Tapu Lele paired up with Pokemon like Drifblim and Mandibuzz that could set up Tailwind. Tapu Lele also worked well with the Ultra Beasts, mainly Xurkitree and Pheromosa, as they also fit well into the hyper-offense team composition.

Tapu Lele wasn’t nearly as versatile as its Electric-type counterpart. The main thing was damage output, so items like Life Orb, Psychinium Z and Choice Specs were the most popular. We never saw move sets exclude Psychic/Psyshock or Moonblast with the last move being either Taunt or another attack if Tapu Lele held a Choice item.

While Tapu Lele may have been able to tear through teams with its amazing Special Attack, it’s reliance on Psychic Terrain held both it and its teammates. With that being said, I’m sure we’ll see Tapu Lele leading the hyper-offense archetype well into next season.

Grade: B+

Tapu Finitapu fini vgc 2017 tapu

Out of the four, I would say Tapu Fini was probably the best behind Tapu Koko. Bulky Water-types are always good choices for VGC teams, and Tapu Fini was (nearly) the complete package.

I know this section is supposed to be about the Pokemon themselves, but players mainly used Tapu Fini for Misty Terrain. The ability to have your team be immune to status effects like Burn and Toxic were key for Pokemon like Snorlax to remain big threats on the field. Plus, not having to worry about random freezes, Swagger or even paralysis was great too.

But let’s get back to Tapu Fini. Tapu Fini’s claim to fame was its great bulk, and it often used that bulk to develop itself into an offensive threat. The Calm Mind set was by far the most popular of the season, but many players at the World Championships opted for Choice Specs in order to have Tapu Fini threaten a ton of damage up front. Water and Fairy-type attacks are a great combination, but Tapu Fini players had to constantly play the odds with the infamous Muddy Water. 85% might sound pretty accurate, but Muddy Water misses a lot more often than you think. Plus, accuracy drops from Muddy Water could be amazing for the user and devastating for an opponent.

Overall, Tapu Fini’s main selling point was the insane utility of Misty Terrain. Tapu Fini still had a solid presence on a team and was one of the crucial members of the AFK core and FAKEPG team archetype. One of the best bulky Water-types the game will ever know.

Grade: A

Tapu Bulu tapu bulu vgc 2017 tapu

Tapu Bulu was the least popular of the Guardians but had a surge of great tournament results towards the end of the season. Grassy Terrain was amazing for stopping Garchomp from Earthquake-spamming to victory and was the key reason for the creation of the BAN core.

Tapu Bulu itself, like its Special Attacking counterpart Tapu Lele, did massive damage with the terrain advantage. Grass-types weren’t great outside of Tapu Bulu and Kartana, but Tapu Bulu almost single-handedly made the metagame fear Grass-types.

The move set for this raging bull was often pretty standard. Wood Hammer and Horn Leech were pretty much staple on most sets, with usually a coverage move like Superpower rounding out the third slot. There were other options for Tapu Bulu like Bulk Up and Leech Seed, but usually Tapu Bulu players preferred quicker damage. Item-wise, Tapu Bulu players really like Z Crystals or pinch berries either to further boost Wood Hammer (or Superpower in Japan’s case) or heal off all of Wood Hammer’s recoil damage.

Tapu Bulu arrived pretty late to the party, but Grassy Terrain was a perfect addition to a later format team looking to counter the other Tapu’s while also allowing for slower play. This bull was good, but I’d probably stick it at the bottom of the “Tapu tier list” if you will. However, there are still a number of Pokemon that could use some protection from Earthquake, so I’m sure Tapu Bulu will be back.

Grade: B

Well, there you have it, the four Island Guardians. Each of them made big waves in the VGC 2017 metagame and likely have become staples for many future teams. Some Guardians and Terrains were better than others, but overall, each one of these Pokemon was a worthy adversary during the 2017 season.

We’ll be back with more VGC 2017 retrospectives, but check back next week for a recap from Ft.Wayne, Indiana as the first round of post-Worlds regionals kicks off this weekend!

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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon The Pokemon Company International

Featured Image from Island Arcade on YouTube

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

aaron cybertron zheng

Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng takes a step back from competing

One of the most beloved veteran players in the Pokemon VGC community, Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, recently announced that he will be taking a break from seriously competing for the foreseeable future. Zheng, who recently had a disappointing performance at this year’s World Championships, announced in a new video that his focus is shifting away from competing in tournaments in order to help grow the scene with his YouTube content as well as reclaiming his spot on the official Pokemon VGC commentary team.

There are many reasons Zheng lists in his twenty eight minute update video, which this article is not meant to replace. Zheng brings up some interesting points that I’d like to touch on from an outside perspective, and I encourage all of you to watch his video before reading this.

The Fire’s Gone

aaron cybertron zheng

One of the first points Zheng brings up is his recent runs at the North American International and World Championships. In Indianapolis, Zheng started out 5-1 on the first day of Swiss only to drop two of his last three games, knocking him out of Day 2 contention. At Worlds, Zheng’s run ended much more prematurely, dropping to a 1-3 record, eliminating him very early on.

It was these recent performances, plus the overall lack of preparation, that Zheng did not prioritize among his summer internship as well as spending time with his friends and family. Zheng called this year’s Worlds the “worst tournament he’s ever played” and despite having a capable team, his play just didn’t cut it.

Zheng eventually came to a realization that he just didn’t feel motivated to keep playing in tournaments. Whether or not he did well, Zheng claims that bad performances made him feel bad while wins left him wondering if this time or money could’ve been spent better.

I’ve noticed that many players, either those I’ve met in person or those I follow on social media, seem to express this “burnt out” mentality, especially after negative results. It sort of begs the question “is Pokemon a rewarding enough game?”. Some players are just tired of losing to factors outside of their control or simply just playing badly, and these things seem to take a much bigger toll even on players who have only been competing for a couple of years.

This ties into Zheng’s next point regarding priorities.

Just a Hobby

aaron cybertron zheng

Aaron Zheng after his 2017 Oregon Regional victory

For Zheng, Pokemon has always been a hobby and not something that he’s considered doing as a career. Zheng explains that his internship, social commitments and now his rigorous academic schedule are taking priority over his competitive Pokemon career. And that’s completely fair.

I think we can all admit Pokemon is not quite at the esport level yet, and a majority of players do not treat it as such. Prize payouts aren’t nearly as high as compared to other big esports, plus the YouTube and Twitch presence for Pokemon VGC players isn’t very popular when compared to other Pokemon content.

Zheng wants more than anything to be involved with the scene, but he’s never wanted to feel stressed out about it by making it feel like a job. Being a contender requires heavy time as well as financial commitments in some cases, and right now, the competitive circuit doesn’t quite support that.

As of now, playing in tournaments for a Worlds invite isn’t a part of the plan for Zheng. Shifting focus to commentary and content creation feels much more rewarding as by commentating, Zheng will still be able to attend events while his video content will allow more people to get into the game competitively.

Many players likely share Zheng’s attitude, but perhaps if the scene is able to grow through a collective emphasis on content creation, there’s a chance that this game could become a lot more.

Aaron “Commentator” Zheng

aaron cybertron zheng

Aaron Zheng analyzing one of the Top 4 matches from last year’s United States National Championships

It seems that Zheng’s main focus right now is his platform, and he’s looking to grow it by stepping up his content creation and rejoining the official commentary team. Zheng will no doubt be offered a spot back, considering he commentated both United States Nationals and Worlds in 2016. His likable personality, as well as his insight, make him both a great play-by-play and analysis commentator, allowing him to potentially fulfill both roles. He also has great chemistry with the cast, sharing the booth with long-time friends Evan Latt, Ray Rizzo and Duy Ha.

On the video and streaming side, Aaron has a good number of subscribers and even a subscribe button on Twitch. Zheng is looking to bring back more content outside of Road to Ranked like his series “The National Gymquirer” which can be a great way to introduce newer players to Pokemon VGC tips and news.

By stepping away from competing, Zheng might be able to do something great for the scene. His large following coupled with his friendships with other YouTubers will no doubt lead his channel to growth if he ends up putting in the work. He’s already received a ton of positive feedback on his decision, and his fans are just happy to see him doing what he wants. Call him “washed up” all you want, but there’s no guarantee 2017 will be his final World Championships if he decides to come back.

His patented intro “Hey guys! Aaron “Cybertron Zheng here!” will continue to be heard by his fans, but will hopefully be heard by newer fans that may consider giving Pokemon VGC a shot.

On behalf of his fanbase, they’ll miss you competing, but they’ll always be grateful for what you’ve done and will continue for the scene. As someone who wants nothing more but for the scene to grow, I wish him the best of luck.

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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from @CybertronVGC on Twitter and The Pokemon Company International

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Japan is Back!: 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

The 2017 Pokemon World Champions have been crowned after an exciting weekend of fierce competition. Japanese National Champion Ryota Otsubo brings Japan another World Championship title while cementing the nation at the top of the Pokemon Video Game Championships. There were a ton of headlines from this weekend and we’re here to cover them all! Let’s take a look at what went down in Anaheim.

Results and Teams

(All players with two or fewer losses advanced to Top Cut. Top 8 is here for now, will be updated later with the rest of the Top Cut)

1. Ryota Otsubo [Japan]

2. Sam Pandelis [Australia] 

f:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221113p:plain

3. Paul Ruiz [Ecuador]

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/373.pngAlola Form

4. Tomoyuki Yoshimura [Japan]

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/373.png

5. Nils Dunlop [Sweden]

Alola Form

6. Sebastian Escalante [Argentina]

707MS.png

7. Rene Alvarenga [El Salvador]

8. Dorian Andre Quimones Vallejos [Peru]

First, An Update on Our Picks

Nick Navarre (4-3 – Day 2): 

Navarre had a rather rough start to his tournament, falling to 1-3 to end his run. Despite the results, Navarre has proven himself as one of North America’s best and I doubt this will be his last Day Two appearance at the World Championships.

Markus Stadter (4-3 – Day 2):

Stadter had by far one of the coolest teams at the World Championships, showcasing the power of Pokemon like Lucario and Slowking. Stadter started off strong at 2-0 but quickly racked up three losses to eliminate him from Top Cut contention.

Sebastian Escalante (Top 8): 

Escalante led the charge for Latin America into Anaheim’s Top Cut and eventually reached the Top 8 as the token Rain representative. However, Escalante’s rain team was not normal, trading Pelipper out for Politoed and adding Klefki to support his team with Reflect and Light Screen.

Christopher Kan (3-4 – Day 2):

Outside of Sam Pandelis, Australia had a pretty quiet tournament in the Master’s Division. Kan’s incredible momentum came to an end in the early rounds of Day 2 where three losses halted his advancement to the Top Cut. His little brother, however, had a much different result which we’ll get to in a bit.

A Repeat Run Cut Short

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Wolfe Glick (Left) versus Alex Underhill (Right) in Day One

Wolfe Glick had a pretty underwhelming season coming into the World Championships, but if there’s anywhere he knows to play his “A” game, it’s at Worlds. After surviving the gauntlet that was Day One, Glick earned his spot in the Top Cut at the 17th seed, requiring a play-in match in order to advance into Top 16. Glick made it to Top 16, but unfortunately his run ended there.

Glick’s team wasn’t anything crazy, but it was definitely the right call for the tournament. After multiple games on stream over both days while being consistently flinched by falling rocks, Glick was the highest placing American in the tournament. Surely a tournament run to be proud of.

The Unstoppable Junior: Nicholas Kan

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Nicholas Kan – 2017 Junior Pokemon Video Game World Champion

The three-time Junior International Champion ends his season with a World Championship to add to a staggering list of accomplishments. Interestingly enough, the team he used to do it was his older brother Christopher’s team that he used to win the North American International Championships in the Masters Division.

His opponent, Tomas Serrano, gave Kan a difficult match with a hard Trick Room team that focused on the synergy of Oranguru paired with Torkoal and Gigalith. Kan was able to withstand the onslaught of Choice Band-boosted Rock Slides from Serrano’s Gigalith in order to set up his own Snorlax to win the game.

Bottom line: This kid is good. Another fun fact, Kan’s ending Championship total was 2310. Could this kid be some sort of prodigy in the making?

#Don’tSleeponLatinAmerica

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Dorian Vallejos (Left) versus Paul Ruiz (Right) in the Top 8

The surprise region for this year’s World Championships ended up being Latin America, having by far the most representation in the Masters Top Cut with Latin American players comprising half of the Top 8. Sebastian Escalante was an obvious favorite from the region, but break out performances from Paul Ruiz, Rene Alvarenga and Dorian Andre Quimones Vallejos have put Latin America on the map for future International events. The promise for a growing scene is there, and we’re all excited to see more big names emerge from Latin America.

Japan is back on top

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Ryota Otsubo – 2017 Masters Pokemon Video Game World Champion

The last Japanese National Champion to win the World Championships was 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami, and it looks like Ryota Otsubo kept with the trend. His opponent, Sam Pandelis, was no easy opponent for Otsubo, as the set reached a third game without a clear winner in sight.

Despite his team’s outstanding damage output, Otsubo had trouble breaking through Pandelis’ Aurora Veil, allowing Pandelis to set up his Garchomp and Xurkitree to sweep game one. Ostubo brought it back in game two as he took advantage of his Alolan Marowak’s ability to smash through Pandelis’ Aurora Veil with Brick Break.

Game three looked bleak for Otsubo as he blew his Z-move into great Manbdibuzz switch-in from Pandelis, making the Prankster Twinkle Tackle ineffective against the Dark-type Mandibuzz. Despite this seemingly major set back, Otsubo was able to eliminate Ninetales early, and with a crucial double-up into Pandelis’ Xurkitree as his Garchomp protected itself, Pandelis was hopeless against Otsubo’s Choice Specs Tapu Fini under Whimsicott’s Tailwind.

Like Otsuba said in his post-match interview, he proved Japan is the best. With another World Championship under its belt, the nation and it’s players have dismissed 2016’s fluke and reclaimed their place at the top of Pokemon VGC.

Popular Strategies that didn’t quite make the Cut

Alolan Raichu

alolan raichu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

The Surge Surfing Alolan Pokemon made a return to the metagame in Anaheim alongside its friend Tapu Koko. Players using Alolan Raichu look to capitalize on the Surge Surfer ability to double Alolan Raichu’s speed in the Electric Terrain, allowing for disruption with Fake Out and Encore or fast, big damage with a surprise Z-move.

On stream, we saw two different ways Alolan Raichu was used on two very similar teams. Alvin Hidayat had an impressive Day One run reaching 5-0 with his Alolan Raichu holding the Aloraichium Z which gives his Raichu access to its powerful signature Z-move that guarantees paralysis on its target. In Day 2, we saw Ryuzaboro Hosano use his Alolan Raichu to raise the Speed of his Snorlax with Speed Swap, giving his Belly-Drum boosted Snorlax the Surge-Surfing speed of Alolan Raichu.

Unfortunately, despite the Day One success, these teams were likely met with their fair share of Togedemaru and Alolan Marowak and their disruptive Lightningrod abilities. This is likely the reason these teams fizzled out and the Lightningrod Pokemon prevailed.

Salamence + Metagross: Bulldozing the Competitionsalamence 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Another popular combo that was a buzz in Anaheim was the combination of Salamence and Metagross. This duo was popular many years back due to their great type synergy, but Salamence and Metagross both have had pretty underwhelming seasons in terms of usage.

These two eventually were paired up again as part of a strategy involving Bulldoze and activating Weakness Policy. Basically, Salamence uses Bulldoze next to its partner Metagross both lowering the opponent’s Speed and activating Metagross’ Wekness Policy. Metagross’ Clear Body prevents the lowering of Metagross’ stats while not taking much damage from the weak base power of Bulldoze.

metagross 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Despite the immense popularity of the duo, only one variant of this team made it to the Top 8. This could have been due to a lot of factors such as players being unfamiliar with matchups, Metagross’ lacking accuracy or simply the competition being prepared for it. Regardless, I expect this will duo will become popular again during the Fall Regional Championships.

Big Plays From Anaheim

Lightningrod

alolan marowak 2017 Pokemon World Championships recaptogedemaru 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

With Tapu Koko being the most common Pokemon in the format, the Lightningrod users, Togedemaru and Alolan Marowak, were able to dominate the World Championships. These two were able to support the common Tapu Fini and Celesteela making them much harder to deal with. Tapu Koko still managed to have an excellent tournament, but its effectiveness was severely limited thanks to the abundance of Lightningrod.

Celesteelacelesteela 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Celesteela was the defensive backbone for many Worlds teams, and it did its job very well for those who used it. The incredible bulk, great defensive typing, Beast Boost, and most importantly, Leech Seed made Celesteela the ideal Pokemon to get into a good position to win games.

We saw Celesteela’s full power on display during the Top 4 match between Tomoyuki Yoshimura and Ryota Otsubo. Otsubo’s Celesteela managed to out-stall Yoshimura’s entire team in game one, leading to nearly 40 minutes taken off the round timer. After a long, agonizing set, Otsubo’s Celesteela came out as a major MVP, simply due to its amazing defensive power.

Mimikyumimikyu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Due to the popularity of Snorlax, Mimikyu became many players’ go-to Trick Room setter to accompany the large Trick Room sweeper. Mimikyu’s ability to take a hit, deal damage and set up Trick Room made it a valuable asset for setting up a team’s Snorlax, and there were a ton of different moves we saw for every Mimikyu on stream. We saw Shadow Ball, Will-o-Wisp, Swords Dance and Psych Up just to name a few. This versatile little Pokemon will likely remain relevant alongside the abundance of Snorlax in the remaining months of the 2017 format.

See you next year in Nashville!

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

The 2017 World Championships was a tournament full of surprises and excitement. We saw some of the best Pokemon played of the entire season, and I’m sure thousands are inspired to compete for a spot in next year’s World Championships, announced to be happening in Nashville, Tennessee.

With such an amazing World Championships behind us, the VGC 2017 season comes to a close. Now begins the road to Nashville, as the VGC 2018 season kicks off in just under a month.

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! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon

2017 pokemon world championships

Who Will Win the 2017 Pokemon World Championships?

We’ve talked enough about which Pokemon will have an impact on the 2017 World Championships, but what about the players? To be honest, it’s been a pretty wild season considering how many top performances each respective region has put up at the international level. Predicting the winner of this year’s World Championships is not an easy task, but we’re gonna try. Let’s take a look at each region and which of their player’s has the best shot of winning it all.

pokemon international north america 2017 pokemon world championships

North America

Total # of Invites: 45

Current #1: Nick Navarre

Highest Individual CP Total: 1370 

International Top Cut Appearances: 11

International Championship Titles: 1

North America is always a safe pick with the powerhouse of the United States producing the most invites with all of them belonging to well-deserving players. The US has always had strong showings at the World Championships, having won four of the previous seven thanks to Ray Rizzo and Wolf Glick. The US is an obvious favorite, but Canada and Mexico are also countries capable of producing quality finishes.

Looking at this season, North America falls just behind of Europe in International Top Cut appearances, but like Europe, North America managed to win an International in Latin America thanks to Ashton Cox. One thing the United States has going for itself this season is consistency, with Tommy Cooleen’s three straight International Top 8’s and Nick Navarre’s two Top 8 appearances being prominent examples. Other notable examples include Gavin Michaels and Drew Nowak who excelled in the regional circuit with each scoring two regional victories this season. Also, North America is home to the best Eevee player in the world, Giovanni Costa, who will likely have the team perfected for Worlds.

To be honest, I fully expect the United States to carry North America’s World Championship results, but Cesar Reyes’ recent Top 4 placing at the North American International Championships gives me hope that we’ll see either a Mexican or Canadian player make a run.

Smart Money’s On: Nick Navarre

nick navarre 2017 pokemon world championships

Image from pokemon_vgc_center on Twitch

I know it’s lame to pick the overall number one, but there are good reasons to put you’re money on this player. One of the most consistent players in the format by far with a regional victory and multiple international top cut appearances to his name. Nick Navarre just seems like he knows what he’s doing in this format, and his play as well as his teambuilding skills are a testament to his knowledge of this metagame. In our interview with Navarre, he almost made it sound easy for himself to find ways to win in this format, and a player with that kind of skill and confidence is a threat for sure. However, this is his first time competing at the World Championships, but I don’t expect the first-time jitters will phase him too much.

Other Notables: 

Paul Chua:  Coming off a second place finish in Indianapolis, Chua looks to have the most momentum going into the World Championships.

Drew Nowak: I’m putting Nowak here over Gavin Michaels simply because of Nowak’s later-format success. Despite not performing well at the International level this season, Nowak did manage to make it to the top cut of last year’s World Championships and I think he’s one of the best newer players to the Master’s division.

Wolfe Glick: Our reigning World Champion hasn’t had the best season of his career, but to be fair, most World Champions enter a bit of a slump unless your name was Ray Rizzo from 2010 to 2012. Glick has the ability to perform at the World’s level, and I do think there’s a possibility for a resurgence for our previous World Champion.

pokemon international europe 2017 pokemon world championships

Europe

Total # of Invites: 38

Current #1: Markus Stadter

Highest Individual CP Total: 1384 

International Top Cut Appearances: 15

International Championship Titles: 1

Overall, Europe looks to be the strongest region going into this year’s World Championships. The reason being, their International performance is above all other regions despite only having won a single title. The number of strong players is becoming on par with the United States, but I think the advantage of quality this year goes to Europe. In addition to the superior International results, European top players have much higher CP totals, with the Top 8 all having over 1000. European players have been consistent too. Markus Stadter, Nils Dunlop and William Tansley top cut multiple International Championships this season.

2017’s World Championships looks to be Europe’s for the taking.

Smart Money’s On: Markus Stadter

I’m picking a number one again, but Markus Stadter is a number one above the rest. Finishing his “World Tour” with 1384 Championship Points puts Markus Stadter at number two in the world. Sure he did his fair share of travelling, but his results remain impressive. Stadter has a pretty good grasp on this format when looking at his results and how he was able to shift between very different teams. Tapu Fini looked to be his go-to, but then he ended up using Tapu Bulu and Porygon-Z to reach another international Top 8 in Indianapolis. After placing third at the World Championships last year, Stadter is hungry for another chance at the title, and boy does he have a good one.

Other Notables:

William Tansley: Like previously mentioned, Tansley has had success at the International level and has a pretty high CP total to boot. A player who is sure to make Great Britain proud.

Nils Dunlop: Dunlop has also reached the top cut twice at the International level, but the fact that he’s done it at such a young age and from Sweden is quite impressive. Dunlop mentioned in one of his interviews during the North American Internationals that he’s looking to grow the competitive Pokemon scene in his home country, and a great World’s performance could be a great start.

Baris Ackos: Top 8 at World’s last year, Top 8 at the Oceania International Championships and he’s close friends with Markus Stadter. Ackos is a strong contender that is looking to keep Germany on top of the European circuit.

pokemon international oceania 2017 pokemon world championships

Oceania (Australia, Asia Pacific)

Total # of Invites: 30

Current #1: Christopher Kan

Highest Individual CP Total: 1157

International Top Cut Appearances: 3

International Championship Titles: 2

Beyond North America and Europe, predicting favorites from the next two regions becomes a bit more difficult. Expect some safe predictions.

Despite being considered one of the “weaker” regions, Oceania has made quite a name for itself this season thanks to Australia. Their attendance overseas was limited, but Australia snagged two International Championship wins thanks to Zoe Lou in Melbourne and Christopher Kan in North America. Outside of their International, Australia kind of got the shaft until they received two regionals near the end of the season. Still, Australia has developed quite a few story lines this season that are looking to continue in Anaheim.

As for Southeast Asia, there are a number of players at the top of Oceania’s CP rankings from countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia etc. While mostly flying under the radar, players from these countries are more than capable of putting up solid World Championship results.

Oceania is the underdog story of the 2017 season, and it will be a fun region to watch during the World Championships.

Smart Money’s On: Christopher Kan

christopher kan 2017 pokemon world championships

Image from @Pokemon on Twitter

I said picks for this reason would be relatively safe, so I’m picking yet another number one. Christopher Kan is riding arguably the biggest wave of momentum after winning Sydney Regionals and the North American International Championships back to back. I’m not sure if this wave will carry him to Anaheim’s Top Cut, but I at least anticipate a solid performance. Then again, this region has been known to surprise us. Plus, Kan has his incredibly skilled younger brother Nicholas if he ever needs help teambuilding or testing before the main event.

Other Notables

Sam Pandelis [AUS]: Current 4th in CP standings for Oceania

Melvin Keh [SG]: Current 2nd in CP standings for Oceania

Jirawiwat Thitasiri [TH]: Current 9th in CP standings for Oceania that has top cut some North American regionals.

pokemon international latin america 2017 pokemon world championships

Latin America

Total # of Invites: 57

Current #1: Sebastian Escalante

Highest Individual CP Total: 1525

International Top Cut Appearances: 5

International Championship Titles: 0

An underrated region for sure, but I’m placing them near the bottom in terms of overall strength. That’s not to say that Latin America is a weak region, they surely proved their strength with appearances in all but one International Top Cut. Unfortunately, most of those placings were because of one player who we’ll get to shortly. Latin America may be home to the highest CP total in the World, but the drop off between number one and two is a pretty steep 500. Latin America has proven themselves at the International level, and I’m not saying they don’t have a shot to win it all. What I’m saying is that Latin America’s hope for a World Championship likely rests in the hands of one player who I’m putting the Smart Money on.

Smart Money’s On: Sebastian Escalante

sebastian escalante 2017 pokemon world championships

Image from @SebasVGC on Twitter

Say hello to the number one player in the world by Championship Points with a staggering total of 1525. Escalante is no doubt Latin America’s strongest player, and the results perfectly reflect his skill level. He wasn’t able to make it to the Top 8 at his home International, but he’s managed to hold his own overseas with two Top Cut appearances in Melbourne and Indianapolis.

One issue I notice with Escalante however, is his choice of team. His team for both Internationals he cut were nearly identical and there’s no doubt players know how the team works and how he plays it. Knowing this, Escalante will likely change things up for World’s, but who knows how well he’ll do if he decides to go with a different team. Still, the team he has is powerful enough with the combo of Alolan Persian and Snorlax, and maybe sticking to what he knows might be his best option.

Other Notables:

 Diego Ferreria [CH]: Placed 10th at the North American International Championships

Japan & Korea

Total # of Invites: 

Japan: 50

Korea: 8

National Champions:

Japan – Ryota Ootsubo

Korea – Jeonghun Shin

Japan and Korea have much more punishing qualification requirements to get in to the World Championships, which leads to a ton of new faces every year. Big names like 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami from Japan and 2014 World Champion Sejun Park will not be in attendance…for the video game at least. Sejun is going for the TCG title which leaves us with a bunch of players looking to make a name for themselves on the World’s stage.

For anyone who’s followed VGC for a while, there’s little doubt that Japan is an insanely strong region despite their terrible tournament structure. Sejun Park put Korea on the map in 2014, but since then we haven’t heard much. I’d give the edge to Japan since they’ve shown consistent success over the years and their unconventional take on the metagame might be key for a successful World’s run.

Smart Money’s On: Honestly any player from the Top 8 of Japan or Korea’s Nationals (favoring Japan here)

The rest of the field

South Africa

Total # of Invites: 2

Current #1: Marc Kramer

Highest Individual CP Total: 352

Russia

Total # of Invites: 2

Current #1: Kelly-Kato

Highest Individual CP Total: 413

There’s not really a whole lot to say here, but I’m hoping that we see someone from one of these two countries come out of nowhere and do well.

Final Thoughts

That’s our take on who will come out on top in Anaheim. I realize I picked all of the number one players for each region as the “Smart Money” pick, but I hope the reasoning I gave for each justifies why I feel they’re the strongest from each region. Regardless of which region seems the strongest, there are sure to be a ton of surprises to come out of this year’s World Championships. Will we see a single country dominate Top Cut like previous years or will 2017 bring new nations to the top stages of the World Championships? All of these questions and more will be answered this weekend in Anaheim!

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!

Other previously non-credited images from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

pokemon world championships 2017 metagame preview

Pokemon World Championships metagame preview

Just one week remains between now and the long-awaited Pokemon World Championships. With the metagame virtually on hold since the end of July, many are wondering just how the Worlds metagame will look. The VGC 2017 season has brought nothing but surprises to the season’s biggest tournaments, and Anaheim is sure to be far from an exception. Let’s attempt to predict the upcoming World Championship strategies as we take a look at the Pokemon that are sure to dominate the field.

Tapu’s and Terrains

Arguably the main aspect of a team for the 2017 format has been a team’s choice of Tapu Pokemon. At this point, all four Island Guardians have seen major tournament success, but which one(s) will take home a World Championship?

tapu koko pokemon world championships 2017

Tapu Koko will likely be on a majority of teams in Anaheim, keeping its place on top of usage. Its speed, power and versatility are unmatched by any other Pokemon this season, able to utilize the Electric Terrain to deal shocking amounts of damage. Though, there has been a trend in two of the three last World Championships of the strongest Pokemon being toppled like Mega Kangaskhan in 2014 and Xerneas and Groudon in 2016. Could we potentially see the same fate for Tapu Koko?

tapu lele pokemon world championships 2017Tapu Lele is nothing short of a powerhouse. Combined with a Tailwind setter like Drifblim, Mandibuzz or even Pelipper allows Tapu Lele to freely spam boosted Psychic attacks thanks to its signature Terrain. Psychic Terrain also has some defensive utility in blocking moves with increased priority, allowing more frail team mates like Nihilego and Pheromosa to fully utilize their speed. Tapu Lele has dropped on the usage charts in recent times, but that doesn’t by any means make it a weak choice.

tapu fini pokemon world championships 2017

Tapu Fini is another Guardian that’s fallen off a bit but is surely not going away. Being the one Tapu with the most lacking damage output (and accuracy) has not been the best for Tapu Fini, but its natural bulk along with the benefits of Misty Terrain make it a valuable team member. Misty Terrain looks to be a good choice for this stage in metagame as many players may rely on status effects like burn and poison to slow down the rampaging Snorlax. Let’s also not forget that Tapu Fini can easily turn into an offensive threat after a couple of Calm Minds or if it holds a Choice Specs.

tapu bulu pokemon world championships 2017Finally, the anti-Tapu Tapu Bulu looks to have a promising tournament in Anaheim. To compliment the format shifting to more defensive play, the Grassy Terrain is perfect for nerfing the damage from other Tapus while also gradually recovering the rest of the team’s HP. Grassy Terrain can also allow Tapu Bulu to bring the hammer down on its competition with Grassy Terrain’s boost to Grass-type attacks. I’m sure this off-meta choice will be a popular one for World Championship competitors.

Boosting Beasts

The Ultra Beasts are some of the strangest, yet most powerful Pokemon introduced in the seventh generation. With the ability to boost their stats after a successful KO, we’ve seen these Pokemon become terrifying sweepers or unbreakable walls.celesteela pokemon world championships 2017

Speaking of unbreakable walls, Celesteela is my pick for Anaheim’s top Ultra Beast. With it having such a strong showing in the North American International Championships as a prominent member of the “goodstuffs” archetype, it looks like Celesteela has found itself at a comfortable place in the metagame. Despite being known as a wall, Celesteela has shown its offensive capabilities utilizing moves like Flamethrower and Air Slash to deal with troublesome opponents. It’s likely Celesteela will remain popular with its standard Leech Seed set, but don’t be surprised if a Celesteela’s third or fourth move is an unexpected tech.

kartana pokemon world championships 2017Celesteela’s offensive Steel-type counterpart Kartana has dropped significantly in favor of the aforementioned Blaster. Kartana still finds a comfortable role as a Grass-type sweeper on teams with other Tapus and Arcanine, but it seems just too frail at times. Perhaps players will go back to the days of Assault Vest Kartana as a way to make sure this Pokemon won’t drop to an Ember.

buzzwole pokemon world championships 2017

Pheromosa and Buzzwole are two Pokemon that are very similar in type, but function in very different ways. Both seem like good choices considering they both threaten strong, Fighting-type attacks to opposing Snorlax, but which one is the better option? Pheromosa is infamous as the 50/50 Pokemon as since it’s so frail, every play with it feels like a coin toss. If you happen to win that coin toss however, the game can be catapulted into your favor. Buzzwole is much slower, bulkier and the all-around safer option of the two and will likely be the pheromosa pokemon world championships 2017more popular pick for its consistency. Buzzwole has the movepool and strength of Pheromosa, but just needs a little help in the speed department to really get going. Both of these Pokemon are equally terrifying to go up against, but like I said, I believe Buzzwole has the edge in the role of a strong Fighting-type.

nihilego pokemon world championships 2017Nihilego was a lesser known option in the beginning of the season, but quickly rose higher in usage once players began to realize how good its matchup was against the metagame. Despite Nihilego’s naturally high speed, it’s found a niche role as a surprise Trick Room setter. Still, that Speed is put to good use on other variants, especially when you’re able to raise it with Beast Boost. Nihilego, unfortunately, has terrible Defense and a x4 weakness to Ground, but the rise of Tapu Bulu makes me think that we’ll see a couple Nihilego at the World’s stage.

Finally, the Ultra Beast that is the most underrated, yet has the most potential in a xurkitree pokemon world championships 2017Worlds metagame is Xurkitree. Xurkitree is sort of in Tapu Koko’s shadow as a slower Electric-type, but when Xurkitree has the proper support it starts to resemble a 2016 Xerneas. Unlike Tapu Koko, Xurkitree gets access to Tail Glow, which can boost Xurkitree’s already absurdly high Special Attack by three stages. Smeargle has recently resurfaced and Xurkitree can make great use of Smeargle’s incredible support abilities. Xurkitree has a lot of potential and I wouldn’t count Xurkitree out of winning it all.

Trick Room: More than just Snorlax

snorlax pokemon world championships 2017

Snorlax will definitely be one of the most used Pokemon at the World Championships just because of how hard it can be to take down. Couple that with Snorlax’s ability to boost its Attack stat to insane levels and you have yourself a threat. Fighting-types, being Snorlax’s only weakness, will surely be popular as a means to deal with the plethora of Snorlax that will litter the World’s metagame. But Snorlax shouldn’t be the only Trick Room sweeper players should be worried about.

gigalith pokemon world championships 2017

Gigalith still remains popular alongside its Trick Room setting partner: Porygon2. This duo rounds out the infamously standard FAKEPG team, which is likely either to be played the same or perhaps slightly differently on the Worlds stage. Strong Rock-type attacks are Gigalith’s specialty, and can still be hard to deal with if Gigalith is under Trick Room.

araquanid pokemon world championships 2017Finally, two of the lesser known Trick Room attackers that are still able to dent opposing teams are Mudsdale and Araquanid. Araquanid doesn’t have the best attacking stats, but its Water Bubble ability doubles the damage of its signature Liquidation, to where it can almost two hit KO any Pokemon in the format. Araquanid’s typing and reliance on Trick Room make it struggle a bit, but the power of Araquanid’s Water-type attacks are dangerous to underestimate.

mudsdale pokemon world championships 2017

Mudsdale is a Pokemon in the shadow of Garchomp as the format’s main Ground-type attacker. Where Mudsdale excels is in its lack of reliance on Earthquake which Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain weakens. Instead, Mudsdale gets to fire off power High Horsepower’s without having to worry about Grassy Terrain weakening its power. Mudsdale also gets access to a great ability in Stamina while also having other solid move options like Heavy Slam and Close Combat. Mudsdale could be the Pokemon that potentially knocks Garchomp off of its pedestal as VGC’ 2017’s main Ground-type.

 

What about the Setters?

porygon2 pokemon world championships 2017

I’m positive Porygon2 will remain the go-to setter for any Trick Room abuser outside of Snorlax. Porygon2’s BoltBeam coverage, bulk and access to Toxic will likely have it remain the top Trick Room setter, but there are some other options. Mimikyu is a great partner for Snorlax that can either support with moves like Taunt and Will-o-Wisp or go on the offensive by setting up Swords Dances or copying a Snorlax’s Attack boosts with Psych Up.

Oranguru is a Pokemon that I believe has a lot of potential, as it has great synergy withoranguru pokemon world championships 2017 Snorlax and the sun sweeper Torkoal with its signature move Instruct. Instruct gives Oranguru’s partner an extra use of its last used move which leads to the popular combo of Oranguru allowing Torkoal to use Eruption twice in one turn. However, this combo can also work with a Belly Drum Snorlax, which Oranguru can assist by giving it an extra boosted hit.

Weather Wars

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/324.png

Rain will likely remain the most popular form of weather mode at the World Championships, especially after coming off an International Top 8 and a regional victory coming into Anaheim. Torkoal and Lilligant could potentially make a return at the World Championships as the Sun archetype still has a lot of room for innovation. Alolan Ninetales will probably remain the sole Hail representative, but will work alongside other team compositions with Aurora Veil and a bunch of other support moves.

 

Japan’s Influence?tsareena pokemon world championships 2017

 

Japan has consistently performed at the top level in the Video Game Championships, and

Western players have taken notice. Tsareena is a Pokemon that had a lot of players talking, but is it “the play” for the World Championships? I think a lot of people are asking the same question about other strategies from the Japanese National Championships Top 8, but we’ve already seen one do well in the West.

porygon-z pokemon world championships 2017Markus Stadter earned another Top 8 placing for the Porygon-Z plus Smeargle combination in Indianapolis that previously had success in Japan’s National tournament. The duo focuses on setting up Porygon-Z with Z Conversion which changes Porygon-Z’s type while also boosting all of its stats. The type chosen by both aforementioned teams was the Electric-type, and these Thunderbolts are no joke. I foresee this combo being more explored further in some Worlds teams, as this strategy seems surprisingly consistent.

Japanese players are always surprising us with their unpredictable and innovative strategies and we’re sure to see more during the World Championships.

Popular Cores/Team Compositions 

AFK (Arcanine/Fini/Kartana)

The format’s most standard Fire/Water/Grass core that is able to cover its weaknesses while also dishing out some damage. This trio has recently expanded into another popular team composition known as FAKEPG (Tapu Fini/Arcanine/Kartana/Electric-type/Porygon 2/Gigalith). This team builds upon the previous core by adding an Electric-type (mainly Tapu Koko or Togedemaru) for extra coverage and support and the Trick Room option of Porygon2 and Gigalith in order to provide the team even more options to work with.

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

Tailwind + Tapu Lele 

First popularized by Shoma Honami during the ONOG Invitational quickly turned into a popular team type that went on to win multiple Regional titles and even an International. The combo has evolved beyond Drifblim to include other Tailwind setters like Mandibuzz and even Pelipper for Rain teams, but Drifblim remains the most popular. Basically, the strategy is to get Tailwind up and start sweeping with Tapu Lele, Garchomp and maybe even some Ultra Beasts. The team suffers a bit without the speed advantage, but Snorlax is a popular sixth member to deal with opposing Trick Room. A team type that’s kind of fallen off, but remains viable even now.

Goodstuffs

Pretty much the format’s most popular Pokemon all on one team. I’ve already written a piece about VGC 2017’s goodstuffs archetype so if you’d like a more in depth look at the team I recommend clicking here. This particular team had a very strong showing at the North American International Championships and will likely remain a popular choice for players looking for straight consistency…unless the most popular team in the format gets heavily countered like previous years. We’ll just have to wait and see.

NBA (Nihilego/Tapu Bulu/Arcanine)

This core has emerged alongside the rise of Tapu Bulu. The Ground-weak Nihilego and Arcanine benefit greatly from Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain which these two to be less afraid of Garchomp. The team is able to accommodate a Trick Room option like Drew Nowak’s team that featured Hariyama and Araquanid or the aforementioned Smeargle+Porygon-Z duo that debuted in Japan. A well-built team using this core has potential to go all the way in Anaheim and what was once an off-meta core is turning into a team needing to be countered.

A Tournament Full of Surprises

Despite what looks to be the established metagame, the Pokemon World Championships are known to break previous conventions. Although Kartana and Celesteela are the format’s most popular Steel-types, Metagross is waiting for its opportunity to mash its way to the top. Arcanine might be the format’s top Intimidator, but Pokemon like Gyarados and Salamence have been showing just how scary they can be. Chansey is also a Pokemon to watch out for as yet another bulky Normal-type to take down.

There’s a ton that has been done and a ton still left to be done with this format, and the World Championships are sure to stretch the limits of creativity. Players preparing for the World Championships have a daunting task in building a team for what looks to be a nearly unpredictable metagame. A strong team and on-point predictions will be essential for a player to become the World Champion, and I can’t wait to see what strategies will emerge next weekend.

Thanks for reading!

Check out five Pokemon that could be “the play” for the World Championships here!


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 Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

Pokemon world championships

Five Pokemon that could be “the play” for the 2017 World Championships

The 2017 World Championships are just over a week away, and after a long hiatus, it’s almost time for competitors to start wrapping up their teams. With the metagame pretty much becoming stagnant after the North American International Championships, many players might be wondering how a potential World Championship metagame will develop. Will the “goodstuffs” Pokemon of the format reign supreme? Or will the world be blown away by a brand new strategy designed to bring down the format’s best Pokemon?

Of course, with any big tournament, deviations from the metagame are essential to avoid being an easy, predictable opponent. Much like our list prior to the North American International Championships, here are five Pokemon that could be valuable additions to a World Championship winning team.

Tapu Bulu

tapu bulu pokemon world championships

I know, I know.

“Tapu Bulu was on the last list you did!” I hear you angrily screaming at your computer screen.

Just hear me out.

There were only two teams that featured Tapu Bulu in Day 2 of the North American International Championships and zero that appeared in the recent Liverpool Regionals Top 8. While these stats don’t make Tapu Bulu look too great, those two teams in Indianapolis placed in the Top 16 and Top 8 respectively. I think this shows more than anything that a well-played Tapu Bulu team can be very threatening, and it seems that every tournament has shown us a different team that can work well with Tapu Bulu.

The NBA (Nihilego, Bulu, Arcanine) core is still incredibly strong. Now popular with Hariyama, you instantly have four team members that are well equipped to deal with the metagame. Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain is a very useful tool in order to nerf the sweeping potential of the now popular Choice Scarf variant of Garchomp, while also offering valuable HP recovery over time. Plus, being a solid way of disrupting the rest of the Tapu Pokemon is nice too.

In addition to the fantastic “Surge” ability, Tapu Bulu has undergone a ton of variation to its move sets. Horn Leech and Wood Hammer are almost staples in order to deal damage under Grassy Terrain, while also having a recovery option, but the third move slot is quite open. A Tapu Bulu could either opt for a supportive move like Substitute, Disable, Leech Seed or Whirlwind or go right on the offensive with moves like Bulk Up, Superpower, Stone Edge and Nature’s Madness.

Bottom line: Tapu Bulu is a very versatile Pokemon that I seem to gush over in every metagame-related piece I write. I won’t even get into the mind games with Speed and defensive investment that can throw your opponent off from turn 0. I guarantee at least two or three will make it into Anaheim’s Top Cut and I’m sure they’ll all be on different types of teams with very different builds.

Tapu Fini

tapu fini pokemon world championships

Tapu Fini is by no means “underrated”, but its usage has dropped a bit with Tapu Bulu on the rise and Tapu Koko remaining on top. Still, I mentioned in my NA International Championships Recap how big Toxic was and how big it could be in Anaheim. I also mentioned how good Tapu Fini is at stopping Toxic, which is why it’s on this list.

Actually, instead of Toxic, we’ll put Will-o-Wisp on here too. Basically, I believe the status effects of burn and poison will be popular techs players use to stop the beast known as Snorlax. These status effects are still able to hinder many other Pokemon in the format, and what better way to stop the infliction of status conditions than Misty Terrain.

Other than Misty Terrain, Tapu Fini remains prevalent as a core member of the AFK (Arcanine-Fini-Kartana) and FAKEPG team compositions and is still a solid Pokemon. It has amazing defenses while also being able to go on the offensive with either a Choice Specs item or after a couple of Calm Mind boosts. Being a slower Tapu, it’s able to disrupt faster, opposing Terrains while also providing your team protection from unwanted burns or poison.

Tapu Fini is looking like the go-to anti-Toxic tech for the World Championships. If double-Tapu teams are popular in Anaheim, expect Tapu Fini to be on a majority of them.

Hariyama

hariyama pokemon world championships

Second only to Snorlax, I would consider Hariyama one of the best anti-Trick Room Pokemon in the format. Hariyama is incredibly versatile both in and out of Trick Room, being able to disrupt your opponent with Fake Out or deal big damage to popular Trick Room Pokemon like Porygon2, Gigalith and Snorlax.

The main aspect of Hariyama’s versatility is definitely its plethora of viable moves. Fake Out and Feint are great ways to disrupt your opponent, making up for Hariyama’s low speed by having priority. A strong Fighting-type move in Close Combat is sure to scare off most of the metagame’s Trick Room abusers. Hariyama also has access to great coverage moves like Heavy Slam, Poison Jab, Knock Off and Bulldoze which compliment Hariyama’s most popular item: the Assault Vest.

Remember how I said moves like Toxic and Will-o-Wisp would likely be popular in Anaheim? Well, Hariyama’s access to Guts could be another great anti-status tech to add to a team. We’ve seen Flame Orb be used on Hariyama in the past, most notably by Drew Nowak and Gavin Michaels, but now self-inflicted burn may not even be necessary.

For any World Championship competitor looking to combat the onslaught of Snorlax that is sure to dominate the field, Hariyama remains a solid pick. Knock Off + Close Combat shuts down the majority of Trick Room modes while Fake Out and Feint can disrupt any opponent regardless of Hariyama’s speed tier. All while Hariyama soaks up hits with its great HP and defensive stats.

If I could recommend any Fighting-type to add to a Worlds team, it would no doubt be Hariyama.

Metagross

metagross pokemon world championships

Another Pokemon we have making a return appearance is the one and only Metagross. Metagross remains one of the format’s most underrated Pokemon in my opinion, but I think a number of players are catching on to how good it can be.

One of the main reasons I decided to put Metagross on this list is that is just scored a regional victory over in Liverpool as a member of a Rain team. Much like the Japanese National Champion team, Thomas Plater chose Metagross as his Steel-type of choice to take advantage of the Rain’s nerfing of Fire-type attacks. When you eliminate Metagross’ Fire weakness, its defensive typing becomes even better. Dark and Ghost aren’t the most common types in VGC 2017, and Ground-types are easily dealt with thanks to the Rain mode.

Along with being a solid Pokemon defensively, Metagross does a whole lot of damage. Its ability Clear Body makes it so its Attack cannot be lowered, so not even Intimidate can slow it down. Its attacking options remain strong with moves like Zen Headbutt and Meteor Mash, but the shaky accuracy is a big deterrent for most players. Still, with an item like a Choice Band or Weakness Policy combined with a potential Psychic Terrain, very few things in the format want to take a hit from Metagross.

Alolan Marowak

alolan marowak pokemon world championships

I’ve already dedicated an entire article to Marowak’s Alolan form, but here’s a quick rundown on why Marowak is a great choice for a Worlds team:

  • Its Lightningrod ability makes it pretty much a counter to most Electric-type Pokemon in the format, mainly Tapu Koko.
  • A monstrous Attack-stat that can easily make use of Trick Room due to its naturally low speed.
  • Versatile third-move options
  • Great synergy with other good Pokemon in the format (ex. Celesteela, Tapu Fini, etc.)

If you’re tired of using Arcanine, Alolan Marowak is the perfect replacement Fire-type. It beats (arguably) the best Pokemon in the format, while also being able to dent a number of other Pokemon due to its amazing Attack stat. It doesn’t have the speed or defense of Arcanine, but its supportive capability and damage output make it a solid choice for a World Championship team.

Versatility is the key

One aspect of each of these Pokemon that makes them all great is their shared versatility. Each Pokemon on this list functions in a main role but can expand that role through different moves, abilities or builds. Basically, each of these Pokemon has the ability to be unpredictable, and being unpredictable is a quality that is essential to a successful Worlds team.

Shaking up the metagame with a team that works is the key to winning a World Championship, and I believe these five Pokemon can accomplish that goal.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the potential Worlds metagame as a whole, and what World Championship competitors should look out for when putting the final touches on their team.

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 Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

Page 1 of 812345...Last »