Ashton Cox’s Lucky Pineapple: VGC 2017 Latin America International Championships Recap

Ashton Cox is your first ever Latin America International Champion for Pokémon VGC, thanks to a lucky pineapple. Yes, you read that right. A pineapple.

Aside from Cox’s innovative good luck charm, he played an impressive finals set in the face of a dominating Game 1 win from his opponent. With some controversial, lucky critical hits going his way in Game 3, Cox took Torkoal and Lilligant to their first major win of the season. There’s a lot more to discuss from São Paulo, but let’s first take a look at the Top 8 results.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Ashton Cox [US]

2. Javier Senorena [ES]

3. Gabriel Agati [BR]

4. Carlos Ventura [PE]

5. Ian McLaughlin [US]

6. William Tansley [UK]

7. Tommy Cooleen [US]

8. Markus Stadter [DE]

Weather WarsImage result for torkoal png

São Paulo’s Top 8 consisted of five different weather setters, with three different weather conditions being featured in the top three teams. We saw weather playing a pivotal role in the finals match between Ashton Cox and Javier Senorena. Positional switching determined the effectiveness of both Cox’s Torkoal and Lilligant, and Senorena’s Ninetales. Is it possible that weather will finally make its way to the top of VGC 2017’s usage?Image result for lilligant png

So far, only two weather team modes have made themselves known: Double Duck and
Torkoal+Lilligant. With Double Duck recently claiming its first major tournament in Utah, and now Torkoal+Lilligant with a victory in São Paulo, we could see a dramatic rise in weather usage in the coming months.

But not just Torkoal and Pelipper, this also means definitive rise in the hail and sandstorm setters, Alolan Ninetales and Gigalith. A popular way for teams to counter opposing weather is by setting their own, which Ninetales and Gigalith perform effectively.Image result for alolan ninetales png

Aside from their weather benefits, Ninetales and Gigalith mainly play much more pivotal roles. Ninetales is effective in supporting its teammates with Aurora Veil, which boosts both defensive stats for the entire party for five turns. Gigalith, on the other hand, takes advantage of its low speed to act as part of an ant-Trick Room or pro-Trick Room mode on a given team.Image result for gigalith png

What’s fascinating about weather in this format is the slight alteration to its role. Instead of weather-based modes and teams becoming popular, we’ve seen weather being used mainly to disrupt opposing weather conditions. Pokémon like Ninetales and Gigalith serve much different roles, with their weather conditions simply being a plus.

Poor Politoed probably misses its friends Kingdra and Ludicolo.

Xurkitree & Smeargle: An 8-0 Swiss Run

Hm… Smeargle paired next to a boosting sweeper? Where have I seen this before?

image courtesy of PokémonShowdown!

Oh right, last year’s atrocity of a format…Image result for xurkitree png

Anyway, Ian McLaughlin piloted a rather new strategy that could launch this shocking Ultra Beast into the realm of relevance. Meet Smeargle’s newest partner in crime: Xurkitree. Another powerful Pokémon with an amazing set-up move that can just as easily take advantage of Smeargle’s insane supportive abilities to ruin your life.

Despite Xurkitree’s very sub par defenses, this strategy features a bulkier build, holding one of everyone’s favorite 50% HP recovery berries. By abusing Fake Out and Follow Me from Smeargle, Xurkitree can boost to absurd levels of Special Attack by using Tail Glow (boosts the user’s Special Attack by three stages).Image result for smeargle png

While we didn’t see Xurkitree shine in McLaughlin’s streamed match versus Eduardo Fontana, what we did see was just how scary Smeargle can be when paired with another Ultra Beast. By, once again, abusing Fake Out and re-direction, McLaughling was easily able to sweep through Fontana’s team with Pheromosa. With Smeargle there to protect the constantly boosting Ultra Beast, Fontana stood no chance against Pheromosa’s onslaught.

I think McLaughlin’s performance with this team proves just how scary Smeargle still is. There are still powerful Pokémon in this format, mainly the Ultra Beasts, that can easily take advantage of Smeargle’s endless supportive move pool.

Carson St. Denis: The 5 Mon Champion 

The Senior division rarely gets a lot of attention, but Senior player Carson St. Denis did the impossible in São Paulo. He won the entire tournament with a party of only five Pokémon.

St. Denis most likely fell victim to a fate that has plagued a number of strong players this season: team sheet errors. For those unfamiliar with the rule, if there is information on a player’s team sheet that is inconsistent with what appears in game, the affected Pokémon can be removed from the player’s party.

Luckily, St. Denis is one of the strongest Senior’s players in the world and really did not need Snorlax much in his Finals match against Jan Tillman. Tillman’s team featured his own Snorlax, but not an accompanying Trick Room mode which would’ve been a reason for St. Denis’ Snorlax to be useful. St. Denis played an amazing set despite his handicapped party to take a 2-0 victory, and another International title.

Tman’s Top 8 Curse Image result for pelipper png

I unintentionally called this in my last piece, but Tommy Cooleen made it yet again to an International Championship Top 8 with his signature Double Duck team. But, unfortunately like London and then Melbourne, Top 8 was as far as the ducks could swim.

Nevertheless, Cooleen’s consistent performance with the same archetype is beyond impressive. Out of the three International Championships so far, Cooleen has made it to the Top 8 in all three tournaments. With just one International left, can Cooleen make the cut again and potentially break his Top 8 curse? We’ll find out in Indianapolis.

Final Thoughts

With the penultimate International Championship behind us, we set our sights stateside for the upcoming Virginia Regional Championships, which proves year after year to be one of the US’s most competitive events. As for the International stage, the final tournament in Indianapolis could be a make or break tournament for players both native and foreign. It’s going to be an exciting end of the season leading up to the World Championships in August. Only time will tell what groundbreaking new strategies will claim these last few tournaments.

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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

The Third (or Fourth) Move Slot: Uncommon Move Choices For Common Pokemon

The beauty of a format like VGC 2017 is that even though there are common Pokemon, there are a ton of different viable moves. As the metagame develops, we’re likely to see move sets evolve beyond what we could’ve originally thought for some Pokemon. For this piece, we’re breaking down some unorthodox move options for the top ten Pokemon in the format right now (in terms of current Battle Spot and Pokemon Showdown usage).

ArcanineImage result for arcanine

Close Combat: If I were you, I wouldn’t consider your Fighting-weak Pokemon safe in the face of an Arcanine. Mainly since Close Combat is a move more common on Arcanine who carry the Choice Band. Close Combat gives Arcanine some valuable coverage against Pokemon like Gigalith and Snorlax who can hit Arcanine for super-effective damage. Probably not preferable over Wild Charge or Extremespeed on an offensive set foregoing a Choice Band.

Helping Hand: I expect Helping Hand to be on the rise in popularity for Arcanine’s divisive third move slot. It’s a flexible move that can work on both offensive physical attackers as well as bulkier special attacking variants. Helping Hand works best when Arcanine is on the field with a faster teammate who’s able to take out a threat with Arcanine with the extra boost.

Roar: Roar works better as a fourth move slot. What I mean by that is, since Roar is more common on bulky, support Arcanine that values moves like Snarl, Will-o-Wisp, and Flamethrower, you’ll likely choose Roar over a move like Protect. If your team struggles to handle Trick Room, an Arcanine with Roar could be a valuable surprise.

Tapu KokoFile:Tapu Koko.png

Sky Drop: A move that can work on almost all variants of Tapu Koko, Sky Drop can be useful for disrupting your opponent’s strategy. We’ve seen Sky Drop on Tapu Koko commonly paired next to a Trick Room setter, a strategy that effectively removes the Sky Drop target for two turns due to the reverse in speed order. Out of all of Tapu Koko’s lesser seen moves, this one has the most potential to appear in higher-level tournament play.

Nature’s Madness: The Island Guardian form of Super Fang is likely only going to be used on Assault Vest variants. A bulkier build of Tapu Koko can make better use of this move due to its longevity on the field. Nature’s Madness can be useful for dealing good damage to more defensive Pokemon, which can set up potential KO’s for Tapu Koko’s partner. A solid move, but a bit of an exclusive one.

Z-Move (Gigavolt Havoc/Twinkle Tackle): Paul Chua won a Regional with a Tapu Koko holding Fairium-Z, but I wouldn’t discount the Electrium-Z. Twinkle Tackle mainly serves to KO Tapu Koko’s tricky type-advantageous match-ups (Garchomp and bulkier Fighting-types). Gigavolt Havoc is boosted by the Electric Terrain which makes it a solid option for threatening huge damage on opponents who don’t resist it. I’d say Twinkle Tackle has more utility overall, but both are viable.

GarchompImage result for garchomp png

Dragon Claw: It seems like Garchomp’s typical move set has shifted to include everything but a Dragon-type move. Dragon Claw is really only useful in the mirror match. Since Garchomp is so common, it could be a useful move to have if Garchomp is a problem for your team though.

Flamethrower: I know Garchomp has access to Fire Fang, but I’m including this since I once fell victim to a Flamethrower Garchomp in tournament play. Fire Fang is probably the better call, but Flamethrower is not a bad option if you’re only using it for Kartana. Or if you’re really afraid of Intimidate.

Substitute: With the rise of Swords Dance’s popularity, I think it’s inevitable for Substitute to become an option for Garchomp. I would expect Substitute from a Garchomp on a team without Tapu Fini, as Misty Terrain would eliminate the worry of Garchomp being burned.

Tapu Lele Image result for tapu lele png

Thunderbolt: I think we all know how much Tapu Lele hates going up against Celesteela. Thunderbolt gives Tapu Lele a means of dealing with Celesteela. However, it would only be worth running on an offensive based set running likely a Choice Specs. Tapu Lele’s Thunderbolt doesn’t come close to KO’ing Celesteela otherwise, but Heavy Slam will easily squash Tapu Lele.

Psyshock: It’s surprising how Psyshock hasn’t become a more common option since a majority of the format favors Special-bulk. Psyshock is weaker than Psychic, but Psyshock calculates damage based on the target’s Defense, which most Pokemon don’t tend to invest much in. Makes Nihilego a lot more afraid of Tapu Lele.

Hidden Power (Fire): Tapu Lele would likely only be able to make use of this move if it had a way to out-speed Kartana. The favored item would be Choice Scarf, as a surprise Hidden Power could mean a quick, surprise KO on an opposing Kartana.

KartanaImage result for kartana png

Night Slash: You will likely only see Night Slash on the increasingly more rare Assault Vest versions of Kartana. Although, with the increased usage of Marowak and Drifblim, Night Slash could make its way onto other sets.

Guillotine: An absolute troll of a move, but can be critical if executed. A One-Hit-KO move can easily win a game for Kartana, as it means the removal of a likely threat and an Attack boost. Only consider using this move if you really want to use it.

Bloom Doom: The Ultra Beast loves the instant KO power of Z-moves, and Kartana is no different. Grass is a not a common resist on most Pokemon in the format, but Kartana’s frail defenses make this a risky option. If used correctly, a Z-move from Kartana could be game-changing.

Celesteela

Wide Guard: If Leech Seed, Flamethrower, or even Protect suit your fancy, Wide Guard is a good choice as well. Wide Guard would mainly be for the benefit of Celesteela’s partner, since a majority of spread-moves in the format don’t hit Celesteela very hard (or if it’s Earthquake, not at all).

Flash Cannon/Air Slash/Giga Drain: I put these in the same spot since they are only meant to work with a Special-attacking Celesteela. These variants mainly opt for Assault Vest, but can work with other offensive-oriented items. Flash Cannon can also be used as a substitute for Heavy Slam on standard Celesteela.

Tapu FiniImage result for tapu fini png

Haze: Tapu Fini does get support moves, but they serve a very niche purpose. If Calm Mind doesn’t appeal to you, or if you’re really afraid of CurseLax or Eevee, Haze might be for you.

Swagger: Using Swagger on a physical sweeper in Misty Terrain will double their Attack without confusing them. An interesting strategy popularized by Wolfe Glick’s Top 8 run in Georgia, this gives Tapu Fini a much different role than the boosting, Muddy Water spammer that we’re all used to.

Heal Pulse: I think I’m starting to notice a trend, in that Tapu Fini’s less common move choices are support moves. This worked well with the Swagger strategy I mentioned.

Porygon2Image result for porygon2 png

Toxic: Toxic was common on Porygon2 towards the beginning of the format, but has dropped off a bit since Tapu Fini’s popularity rose. A move like Toxic can instantly win a stall war if the opponent doesn’t have Toxic as well. Porygon2’s ability to take hits and recover its health make it an effective user of Toxic, but using it will make Porygon2 weaker to Taunt.

Shadow Ball: Another early-format choice for Porygon2 that dropped off in favor of other attacking options. With the rising popularity of Ghost-types like Marowak and Drifblim, Shadow Ball could be an anti-meta tech worth considering.

Protect: They never expect Protect on Porygon2. In a lot of weird scenarios, Protect can come in handy. Most players like to double-target Porygon2, only to have a wrench thrown into their plans when you reveal Protect. I don’t recommend this move for Best-of-Three play, but for Best-of-One Swiss it could win you some games.

SnorlaxImage result for snorlax png

Wild Charge: If you hate missing High Horsepower or facing Drifblim and Celesteela, Wild Charge is a valid choice. Works great if you have a Tapu Koko on your team as well, though this does leave you much weaker to the Lightningrod infused Marowak.

Crunch: Speaking of Marowak, If you’d like a way to deal with it, here you go. However, much like Wild Charge, using this over High Horsepower does leave you weaker to things like Arcanine, Kartana, and Muk, to name a few.

Facade: A Snorlax without Tapu Fini would have a case for Facade. Since Drifblim’s Will-o-Wisp is a common answer for Drifblim+Lele teams to deal with physical sweepers, Facade does have a case for a move set in this stage of the meta game. In all other cases, Return/Frustration are the better attacks.

 

*Note* The difference between Showdown and Battle Spot’s Top Ten is between Ninetales and Gigalith. I’m giving the last entry to Gigalith due to higher recent tournament usage and diversity in its move set. 

 

GigalithImage result for gigalith png

Heavy Slam: A less common choice for Gigalith that’s effective in dealing with Tapu Lele without the use of a Z-move. It also could be useful in a Gigalith mirror, but Earthquake is better for that, while also having more utility.

Wide Guard: Wide Guard can save Gigalith from being Garchomp food, while also making said Garchomp easy pickings for Gigalith’s partner. It can be a game-saving move, but can be played around if your opponent is experienced.

Explosion: If Gigalith is able to get a last-ditch attack off before it goes down, Explosion has a utility. On a standard Gigalith, I probably wouldn’t use this move due to its underwhelming damage potential. Could be useful on a Choice Band Gigalith if you decide to go that route.

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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

The Return of Double Duck!: VGC 2017 Utah Regional Championships Recap

Preston Clark is your 2017 Utah Regional Champion, taking the “Double Duck” combination to its first major tournament win. Utah was a relatively small tournament, with only 118 Masters in attendance. Still, we were able to see some great games, courtesy of Nugget Bridge who streamed the event. There were a few interesting meta game developments in Utah, but first let’s see the results.

Results and Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Preston Clark

2. Kyle Hudson

3. Raghav Malaviya

4. Patrick Smith

5. Riley Factura

6. Kamran Jahadi

7. Matthew Greaves

8. Jarek Makarchuk

Raining On Your ParadeImage result for pelipper

For the record, yes, the VGC community is aware that Pelipper is not in fact a duck. For the sake of having an easy name for the pair, Pelipper is a duck.

Anyway, these two have been in the meta game since the beginning. While not having won a major tournament until now, Double Duck has had solid tournament results under well-known American players Tommy Cooleen and Aaron Zheng. Cooleen has been piloting the duo for pretty much the entire season, and recently added Buzzwole to his team during his Top 8 run at the Oceania International Championships.

In Utah’s Top Cut, we saw Double Duck twice in the Top 8 with two different teams. Utah’s Champion, Preston Clark, opted for the popular Tapu Lele + Tailwind combo with other standard Pokemon like Kartana, Arcanine, and Snorlax. A bit of an interesting choice to include a Fire-type on a rain-based team, but Arcanine is so good it really doesn’t matter.

Jarek Makarchuk’s team looked to be somewhat inspired by Cooleen’s through his inclusion of Tapu Koko and Buzzwole. What’s really neat are the last two members. We’ll get to Trevenant later, but Marowak is a clever choice as it can provide Fire-type coverage, but also redirect electric attacks with its Lightning Rod ability.

Why is Double Duck So Good?

It’s an amazing lead against everything. Pelipper is able to set up Tailwind for free if Golduck scores a knockout with a rain-boosted Hydro Vortex or baits a Protect from your opponent. Even if your opponent uses Protect first turn, Golduck is able to punish defensive plays with Encore. Basically, these two can out-speed and threaten big damage against anything your opponent leads with. The combo is good, however, there are a few ways to counter it.

Gastrodon

Storm Drain. Gastrodon can redirect Water-attacks and boost its Special Attack if you’re able to switch it in to these two. This is why a majority of Double Duck teams run Kartana, and even in rare cases, Hidden Power Grass on Golduck. Kyle Hudson was able to take Preston Clark to Game 3 by using his own Gastrodon, but unfortunately decided to Hydro Vortex with his Gyarados while said Gastrodon was on the field. It was pretty rough to watch.

Weather in the BackImage result for ninetales alola

Disrupting the rain with either Ninetails or Gigalith in the back shuts this combo down pretty hard. Not having rain up weakens the Water-type attacks from Pelipper and Golduck, shuts down Golduck’s Swift Swim, and makes Hurricane 70% accurate instead of 100%. Just be careful with slower weather setters like Gigalith and Torkoal since they’re still weak to Water.

Trick Room Setters that Can Survive Hydro VortexImage result for porygon2

Porygon2, Mimikyu, and others can survive, especially when paired with a Gigalith switch in. If Double Duck can’t eliminate Trick Room, it’s in a pretty bad spot. These two rely heavily on the speed advantage, and need to be careful before they start firing off attacks.

Move Over Arcanine – An Intimidating PairImage result for gyarados png

We saw the return of a pair that hasn’t really had much success since the beginning of VGC 2017: Gyarados and Marowak. A viable combination that could easily replace Arcanine on some teams, covering both a Fire-type and an Intimidate Pokemon.

This combo thrives with Marowak’s ability to redirect Electric attacks away from Gyarados. Not being able to use Electric Image result for marowak alola pngattacks against Gyarados makes dealing with it much more difficult. Gyarados does well against its only other weakness, Rock, and can deal with most Rock-type attackers with Waterfall. A couple of Dragon Dances could be good game if Marowak isn’t dealt with.

Speaking of Marowak, this thing supports and can hit really hard. Flare Blitz and Shadow Bone hits most of the format for neutral or super effective damage, which makes Marowak a decent threat.

I feel like this pair could easily rival Arcanine in usage in tournaments coming up. It’s a solid pair that can support each other and counter common threats in the meta game.

A Niche Pick – TrevenantImage result for trevenant

A newcomer to a VGC 2017 major tournament Top Cut is none other than the spooky tree known as Trevenant. In the past, we’ve seen Trevenant usually on Sun-based teams to take advantage of the Harvest ability which allows Trevenant to recover its berry more often if the sun is out. Jarek Makarchuk decided to use Trevenant alongside the aforementioned Double Duck, which put Trevenant in the rain instead.

In the two sets we saw Markarchuk’s Trevenant, it managed to sit around and spam Leech Seed to keep its HP near 100%. I don’t think we saw Trevenant use any other moves besides Horn Leech and Leech Seed, but I guess that’s all Makarchuk needed from Trevenant. It’s likely it could’ve had Trick Room, however both of Makarchuk’s games on stream featured opposing Trick Room modes which most likely discouraged that option. Other than that, its last move could’ve been either Will-o-Wisp or Protect most likely.

Trevenant is a Pokemon that I think could see more usage later on in the format. With a lot of Trevenant’s weaknesses not hugely present in the format, it could serve a nice role as a bulky Trick Room setter. Pairing Rain with Trevenant is smart as a majority of teams will rely on a Fire-type to deal with it. Although, Arcanine can still beat Trevenant even with the rain up if Trevenant’s Water-type teammates are knocked out.

Final Thoughts

With yet another North American Regional in the books, we set our sites on the International stage in just a couple of weeks for the Latin American International Championships. Was Pelipper and Golduck’s victory in Utah just a fluke, or could we see a similar strategy break into the Top Cut in Sao Paulo? Odds are, it will most likely be Tommy Cooleen to bring this combo to another Top 8 placing at an International.

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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

pokemon murkrow using shadow ball

Niche Picks – The Darkness Pokémon, Murkrow

Meet Murkrow

Portrait of Pokémon Murkrow

One of the first dark type Pokémon to be introduced by Game Freak, Murkrow originally hailed from the Johto region of the Gold & Silver games. It is considered an omen of bad luck, and has a propensity to play pranks on people and Pokémon.

In appearance, Murkrow bears a strong resemblance to a crow. The feathers on its head jut forward and up, creating a witch’s hat appearance, while its tail feathers mirror the head of a broom.

Along with its unique appearance, Murkrow possesses a unique ability, Prankster. Prankster allows Murkrow to use its status moves with increased priority. However, if evolved into Honchkrow, it loses access to the Prankster ability. Due to this, Murkrow finds itself fulfilling a niche role on certain teams.

Not only does forfeiting evolution grant Murkrow access to Prankster, but also allows it to use the item Eviolite. Holding this item boosts an un-evolved Pokémon’s defense and special defense.

Pranking the Competition

Pokémon Murkrow uses swift

Murkrow’s main goal is supporting its party by using Prankster to get Tailwind up on turn one. Once Tailwind is up, the Trainer can take advantage of the speed boost to gain the upper hand in the match.

There is another surprise move that Murkrow can use against unsuspecting foes though, and it has the potential to really mess up a Trainer’s synergy. The move is Quash, and it forces the target to move last for the round. The key is for Quash to work, it needs to go before the target.

With Prankster, this is not an issue, however. Murkrow is free to Quash any threat that is faster than it, unless it is a dark type (dark types are immune to Prankster-enhanced moves). The result is a speedy sweeper, such as Kartana, being forced to go last and getting KO’d before it can even use its first Leaf Strike.

Using these two moves, Murkrow can dictate the flow of battle. Beware though, even with the boost to bulk provided by the Eviolite, Murkrow is still fairly delicate.

Example in the Wild

Spectators were able to observe the Darkness Pokémon in action during the Anaheim Regional Championship in February. Used by Trainer Gary Qian, the team managed to place in the Top 16.

Gary Qian’s Anaheim Regional Murkrow:

murkrow
Murkrow @ Eviolite
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Calm Nature (Gary’s was Impish due to shiny)
IVs: 0 Atk
– Quash
– Taunt
– Foul Play
– Tailwind

Gary’s Murkrow is par for the course as far as these birds go.

Moves are self explanatory with Tailwind and Quash providing immense tempo control as described in the previous section. Along with that, Taunt gives Murkrow a way to shut down opponents from setting up. Finally, Foul Play gives it a way to do some damage and not become worthless if taunted.

The EV spread, along with Calm Nature, gives enough special defense to survive a Moonblast from Tapu Lele. This bulk provides Murkrow enough staying power to hang around a couple rounds and be a real nuisance.

As for teammates, Pokémon that benefit from Tailwind and can immediately pressure the opponent are best. This includes, but is not limited to, Gyarados, Garchomp, Kartana, and Pheromosa.

pokemon Murkrow showing its swag

All images courtesy Game Freak

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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salt lake city utah

Pokémon VGC Regional Preview: Salt Lake City, Utah

Ten Regionals Down

Salt lake city Utah Pokemon Regional logo

 

Salt Lake City Utah will play host to the upcoming eleventh North American Pokémon Regional. The Tournament is scheduled to take place this weekend, April 8-9.

With only five Regional Championships remaining in the 2017 season, Salt Lake City promises high stakes to those wishing to win admission to the World Championship. Between the remaining Regionals and the upcoming International Championship, time is running out.

What too Expect

Without a doubt we will see a combination of Tapu Lele and Drifblim. Ever since the ONOG Invitational the spirit of Trainer Shoma has lived on as his powerful lead has flourished in the Meta.

It also shouldn’t be a surprise to see Arcanine, Porygon2, and Garchomp as team staples. This trio of Pokémon have proven themselves as three of the most abundant species this season. However this is for good reason, as each one can carry its own weight on an abundance of teams.

Pokemon Gigalith at salt lake city utah regionalFinally Gigalith is very likely to be a key player in Salt Lake City. Already a fairly popular choice with its impressive attack, and Trick Room flinch-locking. With the rise of the Tapu Lele and Drifblim lead, Gigalith has only found more work for himself.

Supposedly the energy that Gigalith stores in its core is powerful enough to blow away mountains. How fitting it would be then for this rock Pokémon to blow away the crowds in this Rocky Mountain Pokémon Battle.

Battle in the Mountains

utah state fairpark logoUtah State Fair Park is going to be the venue for the tournament. Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and bordering Constitution Park. This event should provide great access to trainers from Nevada, Colorado, and Idaho.

If you are planning to attend, more information can be obtained from both the Utah State Fairpark website. As well as the official Pokémon website. Trainers should attempt to get their early on tournament day, on top of eating a solid breakfast and getting plenty of sleep.

Good luck to everyone who attends. Make this a Regional tournament to remember.

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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VGC 2017 Spring Metagame Preview

With a sizable amount of tournaments in the books, what’s next for the VGC 2017 metagame? In a format that’s been flipped on its head after every tournament, creativity has begun to slow but has not stopped. Many new cores and strategies have emerged and are waiting to be countered, which further expands this format’s potential development. These months leading up to Worlds should be exciting, and here are the Pokémon we should expect to see:

A War of Speed Control

Trick Room and Tailwind are the most popular forms of speed control, and they are set to clash until the format’s end. With both modes becoming increasingly more viable, there are some solid Pokémon to add to a team if you’re looking for a speed advantage.

Tailwind

DrifblimImage result for drifblim

I think we’re all sick of this thing already. Everyone knows what Drifblim does, but for those unfamiliar, let me explain.

Drifblim, usually paired next to a Tapu Lele, will lead with said Tapu Lele activating Psychic Seed which boosts Driflbim’s Special Defense by one stage due to Lele’s Psychic Terrain. Unburden now doubles Drifblim’s speed since it has no item allowing it to be the fastest thing on the field. Drifblim sets up Tailwind and now Tapu Lele and friends can wail on your opponent’s team.

Although Drifblim might appear standard, there’s a lot of move options outside of the standard Tailwind and Shadow Ball. Will-o-Wisp is common to burn physical threats like Garchomp, Snorlax, and Muk. Recently, Aaron Zheng won Oregon Regionals with a Destiny Bond Drifblim, which was able to clutch some cheeky KO’s if Drifblim becomes expendable. Then there are fun options like Disable and Hypnosis if you want to make your opponent smash their 3DS.

MandibuzzImage result for mandibuzz

Mandibuzz functions very similarly to Drifblim as Mandibuzz opts mainly for Seed items. However, Mandibuzz is the more defensive option. With access to great support moves like Snarl, Taunt, Foul Play and Toxic, Mandibuzz can set up Tailwind and stick around to torture your opponent. Plus Mandibuzz is a bit more versatile as it can work with Tapu Fini as well as Tapu Lele.

Trick Room

Porygon2Image result for porygon2

This little duck will never go away. Porygon2 is such an adaptable Pokémon that it doesn’t even need Trick Room to thrive. Though that’s an option most tend to opt for.

The standard Porygon2 set has morphed significantly over the course of 2017, which is a testament to Porygon2’s versatility. It’s insanely bulky due to Eviolite and has a ton of move options for both offense and defense. I think Special Attacking Porygon2 might be making a comeback, but Trick Room and Recover are still staples.

If unchecked, this thing can win a game 1v4, so either Taunt or a Fighting-type should be present on a team.

MimikyuImage result for mimikyu png

The newest member of the Trick Room club is everyone’s favorite Pikachu knock-off: Mimikyu. Mimikyu’s unique ability Disguise brings an interesting dynamic to how it can function in a match. It’s able to take a free hit allowing it to set up Trick Room for its partners or deal some good damage with its solid STAB.

Mimikyu has found some good synergy next to Trick Room sweepers such as Snorlax and Gigalith since it doesn’t share a Fighting-type weakness like the aforementioned Porygon2.

If you want a full Mimikyu analysis, I recommend my buddy Drew’s piece showcasing all of Mimikyu’s talents. Regardless of what the Pokédex says, everyone loves Mimikyu.


The GoodStuffs

Every format has its standard and VGC 2017 is no exception. These are the Pokémon you will see at least once per game in this format.

GarchompImage result for garchomp png

When Landorus isn’t around, the Ground-type to rule them all is Garchomp. We’ve seen Garchomp undergo a lot of change so far with moves like Poison Jab, Fire Fang and Rock Slide revolving in and out of the standard move sets. Right now the most popular build is a bulkier set-up sweeper with Swords Dance to take advantage of Tailwind being set up.

Without a Ground resist in its way, Garchomp can annihilate teams that aren’t prepared for it. It makes a Fairy-type or an Ice-move a necessity to any team.

ArcanineImage result for arcanine png

When Arcanine is good, it’s really good. By far the most popular Intimidate user in the format, Arcanine is a fantastic blend of offense and occasionally defense. Stopping Kartana and Celesteela in their tracks is one of the main reasons (other than Intimidate of course) Arcanine finds a place on a majority of successful teams.

SnorlaxImage result for snorlax png

Much like its role in the single-player game, Snorlax can be quite the formidable obstacle. Insane bulk coupled with Gluttony to take full advantage of the 50% berries, Snorlax isn’t easily removed. Plus it can set up Curses while sitting there and endlessly Recycling its berry.

The premier Trick Room sweeper at this point in the meta game, however, there is another that has been rocking the format as of late.

GigalithImage result for gigalith png

This thing is a stone-cold killer under Trick Room. With an amazing Attack stat, Gigalith can hammer on opponents with strong Rock Slides. To complement its offensive prowess, Gigalith can also set up with Curse or protect your own team with Wide Guard. What’s most attractive about Gigalith right now is its excellent match-up versus Drifblim and Tapu Lele, but it has to have Trick Room up first.

Tapu KokoImage result for tapu koko png

In my opinion, the perfect sixth member for any team in this format is none other than Tapu Koko. Dominating the format in usage, Tapu Koko is by far one of the most versatile threats in the game. Mainly valued for its offense and speed, Tapu Koko can take advantage of many different items and move options.

The most popular item is often Life Orb, but we’ve seen success with items like Assault Vest and Choice Specs to capitalize on Tapu Koko’s offensive presence. Electric and Fairy-type moves are standard for Koko, but easily can be added or replaced by Hidden Powers, Sky Drop or Nature’s Madness just to name a few.

It’s essential to have an answer to this Pokémon or have it on your team for success in 2017.

Tapu LeleImage result for tapu lele png

I’ve already briefly touched on Tapu Lele’s primary role in the format right now, but there’s more to it than just being Drifblim’s right-hand. Psychic Terrain combined with Tapu Lele’s high Special Attack stat makes it a threat as soon as it hits the field. Tapu Lele’s move set doesn’t often deviate from its STAB attacks, but it can branch out depending on what item it holds.

Most Lele now are much more defensive rather than speedy since they’re usually accompanied by a Tailwind user. Expect either a choice item (Specs or Scarf mainly) or a Life Orb with Taunt to help stop Trick Room.

Tapu FiniImage result for tapu fini png

The Tapu Fini hype might have died down a little, but Tapu Fini is far from gone. Tapu Fini’s ability to disrupt opposing Terrains and offer decent offensive support gives a comfortable role on many teams in the game. Plus the AFK (Arcanine, Fini, Kartana) core is still really good, so I wouldn’t let Tapu Fini slip under your radar.

KartanaImage result for kartana png

One of two Ultra Beasts that continues to top the usage charts is the slashing sweeper Kartana. Most Kartana have moved away from the once popular Assault Vest for just full on offense and speed with a Focus Sash.

Although now a new trend featuring Scope Lens (an item that raises critical hit ratio) has popped up to many players’ dismay. Scope Lens gives Kartana’s Leaf Blade 50% chance to critical hit which can be clutch in racking up Beast Boosts.

Yeah this thing is the reason Fire-type moves are a necessity for any team.

CelesteelaImage result for celesteela png

Speaking of things that make Fire-type moves essential, let’s talk about Celesteela again.

Celesteela has done its fair share of adaptation, but the ol’ bread and butter Leech Seed strategy is still going strong today. Though now, Flamethrower has become the default rather than Substitute in order to deal with those pesky Kartana running around.

A new trend that’s appeared recently are offensive Celesteela, mainly focused on the Special Attack side. Believe it or not, Celesteela gets access to a bunch of great moves like Air Slash and Giga Drain if a Special Attacking Celesteela that can boost interests you. But let’s not forget Celesteela’s physical side with moves like Flame Charge and Earthquake which could be valuable.

Celesteela may be unbelievably annoying at times, but it’s been quite a fun Pokémon to see used as of late.


Common Cores

Tapu Lele & Drifblim

Image result for tapu lele pngImage result for drifblim

Not to be redundant, but if I’m talking about cores, I have to mention these two. The only thing left to add is that the typical team composition for these two can suffer significantly if a loss is suffered in terms of speed control. Speed is the name of the game with this team, with Pokémon like Garchomp and Kartana being present to take full advantage when it’s time to sweep.

AFK or ATK 

Image result for arcanine pngImage result for tapu fini pngImage result for kartana pngImage result for tapu koko pngImage result for tapu lele png

Remember the Arcanine, Fini, Kartana core I mentioned? I think it’s fair to branch out to include the other Tapu Pokémon despite the less attractive acronym. The Tapu Pokémon compliment Arcanine and Kartana well in terms of offense and defense which is why this combination retains its popularity. Its quite often to see more than one Tapu on a team with this core because of how well some of the Tapus work together. A common starting point for most teams that will probably remain in the meta game until the end of the format.

Mimikyu & Snorlax

Image result for mimikyu pngImage result for snorlax png

MimiLax, as those familiar with this core know it, is a common Trick Room mode for teams not solely dedicated to Trick Room. Both of these Pokémon can be tough to remove in the first few turns, so for this combo, setting isn’t hard at all.

While most Snorlax opt for Curse, we have seen Belly Drum pop up from time to time ever since its success in the Top Cut of Anaheim Regionals. This is a bit more risky of a strategy, but can be used effectively in the right hands.

With recent success in Oregon, Gigalith can easily replace Snorlax as Mimikyu’s partner. It functions pretty similarly while also having a much better match-up against Tapu Lele and Drifblim teams.


Unseen Forces

We’ve seen a lot of niche Pokémon thrive in this format, and here are some that I think have the most potential going forward.

Alolan PersianImage result for persian alola png

This shady cat has snuck its way into a few recent Top 8’s and even secured a Regional win in Buenos Aires. Persian is a special blend of bulk and speed that is able to offer effective support for its teammates. Its become popular next to Snorlax dues to its ability to switch into it with Parting Shot after lowering a threatening opponent’s stats. With some valuable synergy with other common Pokemon, Persian has potential to keep placing well in future tournaments.

Tapu BuluImage result for tapu bulu png

Tapu Bulu being the least used of its Tapu brethren has earned it a bit of a bad reputation in the format. But despite this, it has since earned a Regional victory under its belt and a few solid placings at Internationals.

Grassy Terrain is still a powerful terrain allowing for not only Tapu Bulu, but for its teammates as well. Tapu Bulu can fire off strong Grass-type attacks while its partners are protected against Ground moves and are slowly healing.

Since a lot of common Pokemon right now struggle with being Earthquake-resistant, Tapu Bulu offers a nice solution to this problem. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tapu Bulu top the results of another major tournament in the near future.

Togedemaru Image result for togedemaru png

With the rising popularity of Gyarados and the current popularity of Tapu Koko, Togedemaru has a great place in the meta game right now. Dan “Adrive” Clap initially showed us the power of the electric rodent in the ONOG Invitational, leading to Alex Underhill taking it all the way to a Regional victory in Collinsville.

Togedemaru has a great defensive typing, outside of being Garchomp food, that excellently supports the great Water Pokémon in this format. It also has neat moves like Zing Zap which can score crucial flinches to halt your opponent’s momentum.

All I’m saying is an electric rodent won Worlds once. A bit of a bold prediction, but I think Togedemaru can do it.

BuzzwoleImage result for buzzwole png

In a metagame full of speed control, a Pokémon like Buzzwole can shine. Buzzwole’s awkward speed stat places it in a special place to be useful under Trick Room and Tailwind.

Buzzwole flexes for a reason, as its Attack stat is pretty beefy. Its move pool is great too, with moves like Ice Punch and Poison Jab offering great coverage for popular threats. With a big All-Out-Pummeling courtesy of Fightinium-Z, Buzzwole can easily start racking up Beast Boosts.

This monstrous mosquito’s success hasn’t expanded much farther than a couple Top 8’s, but its usage will definitely increase with things like Snorlax, Porygon2, and Gigalith being popular.

MudsdaleImage result for mudsdale png

Galloping into the last entry for this section, Mudsdale brings some untapped power. Since a Ground-type is nearly essential to deal with Tapu Koko and the occasional Muk, Mudsdale can play a role suited for an effective Ground-type.

It’s speed and usability under Trick Room is Mudsdale’s main selling point, being able to threaten huge damage when speed is in its favor. Not to mention every time its hit with an attack, Stamina kicks in to give it a Defense boost. All of this with a solid arsenal of attacks gives Mudsdale a good case for a Trick Room attacker.

Having claimed a Regional title in Dallas, Mudsdale shows promise for more solid finishes. Its unique role as a Ground-type in the format is one that more players will consider adding to their team.


Just a Snapshot

As the title of this section would suggest, this is only a small look into the vast pool of Pokémon that are viable in VGC 2017. I’m just telling you what to expect, not what to bring. This particular year in VGC is immensely rewarding for creative minds looking to find the next big strategy. These last few months before Worlds are sure to produce some great tournaments, and the ones who innovate will be leading the charge.

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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A Wild Silvally Appears – Claims First in Japan’s Battle Road Gloria

The Battle Road Gloria

Banner for Pokémon Battle Road Gloria in Japan

Image courtesy of amalgame.jp

During the weekend of March 18th-19th, Japanese Trainers came together to compete in an epic tournament. The Battle Road Gloria provided spectators lots of excitement, along with a few surprises. Most notable of which is Silvally appearing on the first place team.

Trainer KOOTA managed to devastate opponents left and right, handily taking home first. Swapping between a tricky Mimikyu/Silvally lead and a more aggressive Tapu Koko/Garchomp. This strategy left many of his challengers unable to adapt, and eventually they would crumble one by one.

Just Who is Silvally?

Pokemon Silvally with trainer gladion

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Seeing Silvally on a first place VGC team just fills me with so much joy. Being introduced with Pokémon Sun and Moon, Silvally has been ripe with controversy. Everything from its stats to its move pool have been targets of attack, and now it has proven itself.

Silvally is basically a clone of the God Pokémon Arceus. However, unlike Arceus, its base stats are a model 95/95/95/95/95/95. Combine that with a somewhat mediocre move pool and it is easy to see why Silvally has been shunned by the community.

What it lacks in specialization, it makes up for in mystery. Much high level Pokémon play revolves around reading your opponent and predicting their moves. Silvally can prove to be tricky to read, causing your opponent many headaches during the course of a battle.

There are a couple of factors that make Silvally especially hard to predict. First is the fact it can change its type by holding an item. Want a steel type? Make him hold a Steel Memory, same goes for the other 17 types, other than normal. Silvally is normal by default, and therefore can run a normal type by holding any item other than a memory.

Silvally type variations

Image courtesy of serebii.net

Second, its access to a narrow, but varied move pool. While many critique Silvally for its lack of access to some of the more powerful physical attacking moves, what it does have is variety. As such, a trainer can build their Silvally in a plethora of viable ways. No matter if they want a physical attacker, special attacker, or support.

Silvally’s First Place Performance

On KOOTA’s team, Silvally played a very specific role. Serving as a pivot/suicide scout, it was not always present; but when it was, its presence was felt.

Here is the build, though I am unsure of how it was EV trained:

Pokemon silvally

Silvally @ Choice Scarf
Ability: RKS System
Level: 50
Jolly Nature
– Parting Shot
– Explosion
– Rock Slide
– Flamethrower

Choice Scarf  – Means that Silvally is a normal type, giving the already powerful Explosion STAB damage.

Parting Shot – Gives a means to pivot out of a bad position, while at the same time lowering the targets attack and special attack as well as letting Silvally swap out.

Explosion – Sacrifices Silvally to deal massive damage to all Pokémon on the field. Ghost is immune, so work great next to Mimikyu.

Rock Slide – Abuses Choice Scarf speed boost in order to attempt a flinch-lock.

Flamethrower – Acts as a powerful special attack to check prominent threats, such as Kartana.

In practice, Silvally was a pleasure to watch. KOOTA would generally send it out on turn one alongside Mimikyu. Then, based on his opponents’ Pokémon, he would either Parting Shot to a better matchup, or launch an attack while Mimikyu set up Trick Room.

The Silvally/Mimikyu pair was especially deadly due to Mimikyu’s ghost type immunity to Explosion. Because of this, Silvally was free to blow up the opposing team on turn one if they were not prepared.

In a Top 8 game, KOOTA pulled this strategy off, using Explosion to KO both Ninetails-Alola and Tapu Koko on turn one. This left his own Mimikyu unscratched to set up Trick Room, finally sending out his Gigilith to replace the fallen Silvally.

The strategy was brilliant, to say the least.

A Future for Silvally

While certainly fantastic seeing Silvally take a spot on the winners podium, I doubt it will achieve any kind of critical success during the remaining VGC season. Too much stigma has formed around this Pokémon, and not enough is known about its potential.

Maybe this can be the first step for Silvally onto the MainStage of Competitive Pokémon. I would love nothing more than for this new demigod to prove all the naysayers wrong. KOOTA demonstrated that, in the hands of a capable Trainer, Silvally certainly can perform.

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng is HERE: VGC 2017 Portland Regional Championships Recap

Another regional championship wrapped up in Portland, Oregon with Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng taking the title. With his first regional win of the season, Zheng finally claims his Day One invite to the 2017 World Championships.

Zheng’s Tapu Lele and Drifblim combination should be familiar to most of us considering its success over the last two months. Despite three recent big tournament wins, Portland showed us that the meta game is about adapting to this new fearsome combo. But before we get into that, let’s check out the results:

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1) Aaron Zheng

2) Conan Thompson

3) Max Douglas

4) Hayden McTavish

5) Alberto Lara

6) Jirawiwat Thitasiri

7) Nikolai Zielinkski

8) Bennett Piercy

Countering Drifblim & Tapu LeleImage result for gigalith

Despite the popularity of the combination, we only saw two teams running it in
Portlands’s top 8. What we did see twice in top 4 is Gigalith, which can be an excellent counter. Conan Thompson’s Trick Room mode of Gigalith and Mimikyu was able to effectively pressure Zheng’s Tapu Lele and Drifblim after Mimikyu was able to set up Trick Room.

Without the speed advantage, Tapu Lele can easily be knocked out before it gets Image result for mimikyua chance to make an impact. This is most likely why we’ve seen the adaptation of Taunt on Tapu Lele in order to stop a potential
first-turn Trick Room. Thompson was prepared for this as his Tapu Koko had Sky Drop in order to stop Zheng’s Tapu Lele from Taunting his Mimikyu. Zheng made a great adjustment to his play in game three by double-targeting Mimikyu, which allowed a clean Tailwind sweep with his Tapu Lele and Garchomp.

This new development in the meta game adds yet another piece to the conflict of Tailwind and Trick Room teams. Each strategy seems to keep finding new ways to counter the other, which makes the match up increasingly more difficult. It shows how vital speed control is in competitive Pokémon, so expect to see either Tailwind or Trick Room on any successful team.

Highlight Analysis: Finals

The finals set between Aaron Zheng and Conan Thompson was nothing short of exciting. Here are some of the many highlights with analysis. You can watch the entire set HERE.

 

Highlight #1: Thompson reveals his tricky Sky Drop strategy to ensure Mimikyu’s Trick Room. This is clever since the Pokémon taken into the sky cannot move the next turn if it is faster than the Pokémon that used Sky Drop, and Trick Room makes Tapu Koko the slowest Pokémon on the field. Thompson gets up a free Trick Room and takes Tapu Lele out for essentially two turns.

Highlight #2: Zheng makes an excellent call on Thompson’s switch into Celesteela. Zheng knocks out Thompson’s Mimikyu allowing his Arcanine’s Flare Blitz to redirect to and KO Thompson’s incoming Celesteela.

Highlight #3: Kimo explains this really well in his commentary when he remarks on Thompson’s ability to get so much free damage all at the cost of Mimikyu’s disguise.

Highlight #4: Zheng’s Garchomp outspeeds Thompson’s Garchomp in the Trick Room (not sure if it was a speed tie) allowing it to score a crucial KO with Tectonic Rage.

Highlight #5: Zheng misplays here as Garchomp could have easily just used Earthquake to finish off Thompson’s Tapu Koko and Gigalith despite being in Trick Room. Thompson’s Tapu Koko is Assault Vest and can’t protect itself so Garchomp would’ve easily knocked it out while surviving Gigalith’s Rock Slide. Even if Gigalith were to survive the Earthquake, Trick Room would be gone and Zheng would have a 2v1 against Gigalith. Zheng could’ve been fearing Wide Guard which Thompson reveals next turn.

Highlight #6: Thompson finally reveals Wide Guard to stop Zheng from winning the game as Tapu Koko gets the KO on Drifblim. Even though this was a clutch turn from Thompson, it revealed a ton of information. Plus the game’s not over yet.

Highlight #7: The longest highlight that just involves mind games with Gigalith using Wide Guard, Garchomp trying to attack, and Tapu Koko trying to whittle down Garchomp. There’s an interesting moment at the end of this highlight where Zheng Protects on a turn where Gigalith uses Rock Slide, which could have been a big missed opportunity for Zheng.

Highlight #8: Thompson’s Tapu Koko finally uses Sky Drop to try and take out Garchomp which allows Gigalith to set up a free Curse. The Curse is not only good to increase Gigalith’s Attack, but it’s the Defense boost that proves to be more crucial.

Highlight #9: Zheng makes an amazing play to no avail as Gigalith survives the Earthquake and recovers 50% of its HP with its Figy Berry. Its hard to say if it was a roll or not, but it was definitely a momentous break for Thompson.

Highlight #10: Zheng makes a great play to KO Mimikyu on turn one. Shutting down the Trick Room option makes the game much more difficult for Thompson which Zheng capitalizes on.

Highlight #11: Another great play from Zheng as he correctly predicts the double protect from Thompson’s Pokémon in order to set up a free Swords Dance. This play basically guarantees Zheng the win as he now has a +2 Garchomp and his Tapu Lele with a turn of Tailwind to spare.

Highlight #12: Zheng is a very safe player in the endgame which is exactly how he plays it here. Amazing set from both players, but Zheng made the better moves in the end to take Oregon Regionals.

A Niche Pick: SlowkingSlowking

A bit of an interesting choice for a Trick Room setter made its first top cut appearance in Portland courtesy of Bennett Piercy. I’m surprised that it took this long for a Slowbro or Slowking to make its way into the meta game, since both have been reliable Trick Room setters in the past.

One advantage Slowking has over Slowbro is its higher Special Defense, which seems like the preferred defense stat to train in this format. Slowking gets access to some versatile attacking options which likely explains it being on a team with Tapu Lele to potentially capitalize on Psychic Terrain. Expect Slowking to slowly make its way into the late-season meta game.

Final Thoughts

Shoutout to NuggetBridge for streaming the tournament with some great commentary from a variety of commentators. The next upcoming regional is keeping it out west as we head to Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ll have a recap just like this one for all upcoming major tournaments so make sure to come back for coverage from Utah regionals. Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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

 

 

Catching Pokérus – The Cure to Slow Training

A Different Kind of Flu

Pokerus tag

The Pokémon franchise contains a multitude of ways to train your Pokémon and get them ready for battle. Though time-consuming, there are certain tools to speed up the training process. One such tool is the Pokémon virus, or Pokérus.

Like so many things concerning competitive Pokémon, Pokérus is mostly shrouded in secrecy. In the games it is only indicated with a tag next to the Pokémon’s name. You may even have an infected Pokémon in your PC box and not even know it.

Catching the Virus

Nurse joy giving the pokerus news

Introduced into the series with Generation two, Pokérus is mostly shrouded in mystery. However, unlike many virus’s in our world, this virus is beneficial to those it infects.

A Pokémon who has contracted Pokérus will experiance increased Effort Value gain while training. Because of this, competitive Trainers seek to get their hands on an infected Pokémon so that they can spread it to others they wish to train.

Getting an infected Pokémon yourself is not easy though. A Trainer has about a 1/21,900 chance to actually encounter an infect Pokémon in the wild. So you are more likely to find a shiny Pokémon, than one infected by the Pokémon virus.

Fear not though, most Trainers turn to the Pokémon Global Link in order to obtain Pokérus. Once obtained the virus can be transferred between the Trainers Pokémon, as well as placed in stasis by putting an infected Pokémon in PC Storage.

Life After Pokérus

 

Pokemon Bagon with PokérusSo now that you have a Pokémon with Pokérus, you can pass it to that young Larvitar you plan on EV training. Simply place the infected Pokémon into your party next to the target Larvitar and go battle. After each battle their is a chance for the virus to spread to adjacent Pokémon.

Now that Larvitar has Pokérus, you can head to your favorite EV training ground. EVs gained while infected by the Pokémon virus are doubled. Now Larvitar can power through that training session.

Combine Pokérus with power items for an even more dramatic effect. Using these methods, EV training can be reduced to a fraction of the time it generally takes.

Final Thoughts

Secret tools do not mix well in a competitive environment. While cool from a role-playing perspective, things like Pokérus really only serve to hurt the competitive community.

Competitive Trainers and the Pokémon community as a whole would benefit Game Freak would open up when it comes to matters concerning competitive battling. Making it more accessible to more trainers is only a good thing for the franchise.

All images courtesy Game Freak

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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Pokemon VGC’s Championship Point Dilemma

Recently, there have been a number of players voicing their opinions on the current championship point structure and what it could mean for the future of Pokemon VGC.

A Rundown of the Problem

The current championship point (CP) requirement for Worlds qualification in the two major regions (United States and Europe) is 500. The remaining regions of Latin America, Asia Pacific, and South Africa require 350 points.

With the adjusted tournament structure now offering smaller CP payouts for placings beyond top 16, best finish limits set in place, and limits to the frequency of local tournaments, The Pokemon Company (TPCi) has quite a problem to fix.

The current structure caters heavily to high-level players who can afford to travel, which isn’t ideal for the game’s growth. With the bar at 500 CP to qualify for Worlds and fewer ways to earn those points, there is less incentive for new players to compete. Basically, it’s extremely hard to qualify for Worlds if you are a less-experienced player who can’t afford to travel to higher CP events.

Perhaps a solution would be to lower the Worlds’ CP bar to 350 or 400 with the current CP payouts as a way to properly scale how much CP is awarded at each tournament level. This way, there’s incentive to attend local tournaments which could translate to higher attendance at larger ones. This could make Worlds qualification more accessible, which would allow top players to shift their focus to making it further in the tournament.

However, some would say lowering the bar would make Worlds too easy to qualify for. This was an issue in 2016 when local tournaments could be “farmed” for CP, which made higher level tournaments seem less significant. However, it also made the scene much more accessible for local players, which is obviously great for the game’s potential growth.

See the problem here?

We either have tournaments that appeal to top performing players and “wallet warriors”, or we lower the CP bar making Worlds an easier tournament to qualify for.

Now that there’s a general outline of the problem, let’s dive into some specific topics that players have brought up regarding the issue.

International Championships and the Best Finish Limit

With the best finish limit for Internationals set at four, the mentality of “quantity over quality” is very applicable if a player is able travel and perform well. With top players in each region receiving stipends to travel to each country’s Internationals, it makes it too easy to flood these tournaments with players from regions that already have enough tournaments to qualify for Worlds.

On the other hand, if TPCi restricts the best finish limit to one and limits incentive to travel, one or two bad finishes for a top player could end their season.

Regional Favoritism

It’s obvious that North America is the region with the best treatment in Pokemon VGC. The US has the most tournaments and most coverage over any region in the circuit, which explains the large number of American players at Worlds.

More US players receive stipends, allowing them to travel to and dominate tournaments overseas. The more developed scene makes community-organized tournaments possible to award a travel award to the winner.

Of course, countries like Japan need an improved qualification structure, buts that’s been an issue since the beginning.

The Return of the LCQ?

The Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) was a tournament held the day before Worlds as an opportunity for non-invited players to play for a chance to compete at the main event.

No one is certain why the LCQ was discontinued, as it was an incentive for non-invitees to attend Worlds. Not to mention, it also produced a World Champion in the Seniors division in 2013.

It was popular among the community, which gives it even less of a reason to be absent from Worlds. With the recent attendance restrictions at the 2016 World Championships and now the Sao Paulo Internationals, you’d think TPCi is deliberately trying to make their tournaments smaller.

Final Thoughts

What we should take away from this is that no tournament structure is going to please everyone. The championship point structure is crucial to every aspect of Pokemon VGC’s tournament structure including maintaining the player base. If you don’t appeal to new players, the game won’t grow, but if you disappoint the veterans, people will leave.

TPCi has some big questions to answer when deciding how to handle their 2018 season. There’s no clear solution, but there’s a lot that needs improvement.

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