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

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

A Little Late

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

Let’s Talk Championship Points

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

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

What This Means For Players Still Looking to Qualify

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

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

Underrepresented in Anaheim?

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


Images courtesy of Pokemon.com

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VGC Player Profile: Joshua Lorcy

Pokemon VGC (Video Game Championships) is growing. Every year it seems like more and more people attend and watch events. Not to mention the thousands of players that faithfully play the game every year to begin with. I myself have been competitively playing Pokemon since about 2014. This year I had to step back due to life decisions. Between being a full term college student, a father of two, and a husband to an ever loving wife, I just had no time to dedicate to actually grinding out those long hours of gameplay that are required to compete in any game nowadays.

This does not mean that I did not keep up with the latest and greatest things in the scene though. I kept an eye on everything, from team compositions to the National standings in CP (Championship Points). I even took a look at international players that I knew I would be seeing on the main stage during World Championships this year.

 

Photo Courtesy of Joshua Lorcy’s Twitter Page

This brings me to the main point of why I am writing today. I bring to you a player that has created a lot of buzz for himself in the past year. Joshua Lorcy is the man who I am speaking of. Placing well in last years World Championships, he showed that he would be someone to watch out for in the coming years. I got a chance to ask the man a few questions in order for us to get to know him better. So let’s get in to the interview!

 

Maurice : So go ahead and introduce yourself to the readers!

Joshua : Hello! I’m Joshua Lorcy. Born and raised in Queens, NY. I am a professional Pokemon VGC Player. I am also a huge fan of basketball.

Maurice : What first got you in to Pokemon?

Joshua : My mother first introduced me to Pokemon at the age of 3. I’ve been hooked ever since! It has become a passion of mine.

Maurice : What is your favorite Pokemon?

Joshua : My favorite Pokemon is Electivire. In the animated series it was portrayed as a fierce, thick skinned Pokemon.

Maurice : How long have you been playing VGC competitively?

Joshua : I started playing VGC back in March of 2015. So overall I have been playing for a total of 2 years!

Maurice : What has been your favorite VGC format?

Joshua : My favorite format was the 2015 format. It was new to me so I didn’t quite grasp it. This made it challenging to me. I love challenges so that’s what made it fun!

Maurice : What is your favorite Pokemon in the current format?

Joshua : In the current format, my favorite Pokemon would have to be Tapu Fini. It has great bulk, the ability to set up with Calm Mind, and its terrain has a great ability in being able to deny status moves.

Maurice : What are some of your goals as a VGC player?

Joshua : As a VGC player, my ultimate goal is to become the Pokemon World Champion. This should be everyone’s goal, however, I believe I can achieve this if I continue to stay focused and play the best I can.

Maurice : Do you have any tips for anyone trying to become a VGC player?

Joshua : For those who are trying to pursue their dreams in VGC you should practice laddering on either showdown or battle spot and watch youtube videos by Cybertron, Wolfey and Ray Rizzo. These are the top 3 VGC content creators in my opinion. I can almost guarantee you will learn a lot from them.

Maurice : Do you have any shout outs to give?

Joshua : I would like to shout out my fans, family and friends who have supported me while playing VGC and that’s just about everyone.

 

As you can tell, Josh is an awesome guy with great potential to one day be Pokemon World Champion. You can see below that Joshua Lorcy is currently ranked #30 in the World based on CP (Championship Points) with 625. He is even 25 points ahead of last year’s World Champion Wolfe Glick, so that is definitely making a statement!

 

The Standings

 

It was definitely an honor for me to pick the brain of someone I consider to be one of the top contenders for World Champion this year. Make sure you guys check him out on his Twitter @lorcylovesyou to keep up with what he has going on. He also has a YouTube channel and streams on Twitch here and there as well. Go show him some support!

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 Maurice!

Featured Image courtesy of The Pokemon Company

 

 

How Good is Your Eevee Matchup in VGC 2017?

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

Extreme Evoboost

Image result for extreme evoboost gif

Image from Pokemon Sun and Moon

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

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

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

The Typical Eevee Team Members

Image result for eevee

Eevee

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

Image result for smeargle

Smeargle

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

Image result for clefairy

Clefairy

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

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

Image result for whimsicott

Whimsicott

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

Image result for krookodile

Krookodile

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

Image result for espeon

Espeon

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

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

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

Image result for tapu fini

Tapu Fini

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

How To Beat Eevee

1) Taunt

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

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

2) Haze

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

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

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

3) Perish Song

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

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

4) Roar/Whirlwind

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

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

5) Trick Room

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

6) Offense

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

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

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

7) Snarl + Intimidate

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

8) Good Individual Pokemon Against Eevee

Image result for mimikyu png

  • Mimikyu

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

    Image result for kartana png

  • Kartana

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

    Image result for arcanine png

  • Arcanine

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

Rating Your Eevee Match Up

  • Any of the Top 3 listed = Great! 

  • 4/5 = OK

  • Anything below 5 = Consider the first 5

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

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

Thanks for reading!


Art/Images of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Featured Image from Pokémon Sun and Moon

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

Xurkitree Glows in Toronto: VGC 2017 Toronto Regional Championships Recap

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

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Martin Gajdosz

2. Joshua Lorcy

3. Ian McLaughlin

4. Alex Lebel

5. Nicholas Borghi

6. Sam Partin

7. David Mancuso

8. Trista Medine

Xurkitree On the RiseImage result for xurkitree png

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

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

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

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

The Blaster over The BladeImage result for celesteela png

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

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

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

Niche Picks

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

MachampImage result for machamp png

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

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

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

VanilluxeImage result for vanilluxe png

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Thanks for Reading!

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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!

Teambuilding For a Reason: An Interview With 2017 Virginia Regional Champion Nick Navarre

Nick Navarre is your 2017 Virginia Regional Champion thanks to what most would consider quite an unusual team. Navarre is now the third best player in the country in Championship Point rankings, and is known in the community for his teambuilding prowess. One of the most consistent players this season with three top 4 placings at regionals, a top 8 placing at the Oceania Internationals, and finally a regional win to add to this already impressive list.

I sat down with Navarre to discuss his Virginia team but also to gain some insight on how he approaches teambuilding as a whole. Here’s what he had to say:

Virginia Regionals 

So, you finally claimed your first regional title? How does it feel?

“It’s pretty nice. I wasn’t really playing the tournament to win, I was just going to hang out with friends. I had a friend in the area who I wanted to meet.”

This wasn’t exactly the closest event for you

“Well, eight hours is about the limit I have for driving in a day. We did a similar drive from Cleveland to Dallas for that regional, but we split it.”

You have some friends in the area?

“Yeah I wanted to hang out with a friend of mine who I’ve played in tournaments with for years. Unfortunately he went 3-5 at the regional since he hasn’t really played VGC at all.”

The Team

What brought about the idea this team?

“Well I’ve been playing with Scope Lens Kartana for a while, and I think it’s a good set in general. I noticed when playing against Bulu teams a switch flips and it goes from being a strong mon to just really obscene. So I tried to make a team with both of them on because the highs are really high if you can pull it off.”

Navarre talks very highly about Scope Lens Kartana, and I myself having tested it, can vouch for its viability.

Tapu Bulu

Why run Grassium Z on Bulu?Image result for Tapu Bulu png

“Bulu really sucks, but Grassy Terrain is incredible. Finding a way for it to be a nuke was the best for it, and if you click your Bloom Doom you either get rid of a mon or deal massive damage. It’s not that good, but I wanted Grassy Terrain.”

“Arcanine is a big problem for it, so I basically ran a bunch of speed and gave it Substitute. If you’re faster than Arcanine you know it’s likely bulky and you can sit in front of it and just use Substitute and Protect. And if you’re slower than it, you can tell its an offensive Arcanine so either way it allows you to formulate a game plan around turn zero.”

“As for the set, I played against Wolfe in Melbourne and his Bulu really pressured me so I decided to use his set.”

Toxic: Salamence and Arcanine

So…Toxic (on both Salamence and Arcanine)?Image result for salamence png

“So the Salamence actually came first. Salamence has a lot of defensive synergy with Tapu Bulu (helps with Arcanine, Porygon2, Celesteela, etc) and has a wide range of coverage and good resistances. They’re both really terrible Pokemon, but they have a lot of defensive synergy. If you’re running one, you have a good reason to run the other, since (Salamence) doesn’t really fit with anything else.”Image result for arcanine png

“As for the Arcanine, Flare Blitz, Extreme Speed and Protect are mandatory unless you have good reasons. It started with Helping Hand because I wanted to one-shot things with Grassy Terrain-boosted Scope Lens crits from Kartana. But Toxic ended up being too good to forgo. There are a lot of situations where Arcanine is looking at an another Arcanine and having something that helps you win that match-up is big. A lot of the popular Arcanine that weekend had Thief which kind of does the same thing, it helps win the Arcanine mirror. I think Arcanine is a crutch for most players, and I think it’s good for players to make better use of Arcanine.”

SnorlaxImage result for snorlax png

“My first team of the format, which I would’ve played at London, had Arcanine, Bulu, and Snorlax. I felt like this was a good combo, as Snorlax has great coverage plus it can switch into Fire and Ice-type attacks with its Thick Fat ability. I tech’d Wild Charge onto it since Celesteela is a big problem for ‘Grass Spam’. It hits Arcanine, Muk, and Celesteela and having something to cover those three mons was important for the team. It’s basically a Tank that I can set up, but it doesn’t have to be set up for it to deal out damage.”

So I guess you’re not super reliant on the berry like most Snorlax?

“Yeah you have Grassy Terrain. Also, it benefited a lot from Helping Hand Arcanine since it enables you to get one-shots on opposing Muk and Arcanine without having to worry about Intimidate.”

ClefairyImage result for clefairy png

“It had Heal Pulse, and Friend Guard helped me get around not having Gluttony on Snorlax with the help of Grassy Terrain. Normally if a Snorlax with Thick Fat is at 26 percent of its health (just one percent outside of the “pinch berry” activation range) it’s pretty easy to knock it out. But with Grassy Terrain, it can heal, and with Friend Guard able to be switched in, you’re basically having to deal with a Gluttony Snorlax. Redirection was good, but was kind of underwhelming in some match-ups.”

Why is that?

“It’s not the easiest thing to build with since it kind of turns its partner into one and a half Pokemon essentially. For that to be worthwhile, it can be tricky since Clefairy itself doesn’t deal a lot of damage.”

Assessing the Team

Which parts of the team were the most effective in the match-ups you played?

“The Snorlax was really good. The Arcanine set was really good for being able to deal with other Arcanine. The defensive core plus having Grassy Terrain and Toxic to get damage over time. When I brought Bulu+Kartana it took over games.”

“Honestly, I don’t have many complaints since overall the team worked well. The Salamence was not brought much. It was only brought to one game, but that game was on stream and it did really well.”

“The team is a way to play Bulu, and most of the time an opponent’s only check to the overwhelming amount of Grass-damage was Arcanine (Which the team already has a ton of answers for). Not many teams are prepared to deal with the amount of Grass-damage.”

So basically the game plan is: deal the Grass-damage, heal up with Grassy Terrain and Toxic to wear down the opponents.

“Yeah, and just shuffle the team around.”

What would you change?

“I don’t know, I thought the team was effective and it was really just a meta call. I don’t think any of my opponents had much in terms of Bulu checks, but now that I’ve shown it can be effective, I’m not sure how good it’ll be at future tournaments. It just sort of walked into a tournament where no one respected it. Much like Gavin’s team near the beginning of the season, people were not prepared for something that could do a lot of damage.”

“It’s a team that’s designed to with the first game in a best-of-three really hard. It loses a decent amount of its luster after that.”

How Do You Approach Teambuilding?

To conclude our interview, I asked Navarre a bit about his approach to teambuilding as a whole. Being quite a respected member of the field, he had an interesting perspective to share.

Where do you start?Image result for tapu Koko png

“It depends a lot on the format you’re playing in, for a format like VGC ’17 it’s a lot more abstract than past formats. You kind of just pick something you want to build around and you can come up with combos that work well together and figure out a way to win games.”

Navarre touched noted a couple of these combos in some of his past teams:

Virginia Team: Tapu Bulu + Kartana

St. Louis/Melbourne: Porygon2 + Gigalith & his Tapu Koko set (“Volt Tackle”)

“Its about identifying how you want to win. That feels a bit too simplistic but that’s basically it.”

Navarre went on to talk about how it’s not a bad thing to build “bad teams”:

“I build a lot of ‘bad teams’, but just because the team didn’t work, doesn’t mean it didn’t have good ideas. Being afraid to experiment, is one of the worst things. Coming up with new ideas is one of the most consistent ways to do well.”

Navarre stressed his philosophy of a team “having a goal” while also “having reasons” for doing what a team does.

“A lot of it boils down from that main point.”

“When a lot of new players are starting out, it’s obvious when their teams are not trying to accomplish something.”

“A good team isn’t just a collection of good Pokemon, but a collection of Pokemon that work well together.”

How early do you start building teams for tournaments?

“I never stop. I have a good group of friends, and we put a lot of time into teambuilding.”

Is it just trying to find something that sticks?

“It’s about just continuously trying out new ideas. I don’t exactly build specifically for tournaments, especially now considering the amount of CP I have. It’s just building good teams in a vacuum is what I’ve had success with, if you build for a specific meta game you can become blinded and miss things.”

“Playing the tournament is what you do with a team, but it’s not the end. It’s not about just building a team for a given tournament.”

What are the most important aspects for a good team in yourImage result for landorus png opinion?

“It is an abstract concept. A good team should do something interesting. There should be a reason for everything you’re doing. There’s a bunch of different boxes you can tick with teams, but really it just goes back to trying to accomplish something with a team. A tournament team shouldn’t just be six standard sets because people know they exists and it’s likely they’ve prepped for them. It’s more reliable to use something no one has seen before and that no one has prepped for.”

“Give yourself tools to adapt to what your opponent has, but not to the degree that CHALK did (the standard team from the end of VGC 2015). It’s a difficult question to answer.”

What kinds of things are important to building a good team in this format (VGC 2017)?Image result for garchomp png

“Having a plan or multiple plans you want to execute. Rather than just having a Swords Dance Garchomp KO something with a +2 Tectonic Rage and win the game off of that, you should know how you’re going to win the game from that.”

“It feels like a lot of people’s teams are not completely thought out. I’m just gonna stick with: have a goal or have plan for how you want to win games. That’s the important part of having a good team because there are multiple ways to get through a game. Don’t just delegate the majority of your plan to sitting at team preview. I think teambuilding is to show how my group of Pokemon is better than yours.”

You said your style of teambuilding is very adaptive, but can you think of any particular cores or strategies you default to?

“I like to play control. Generally, I like to set up situations where I have more stats on my side than my opponent, and beat them over the head with it. It’s just trying to maneuver the game as quickly as possible into a game state that’s in my favor.”

What do you mean exactly by “having more stats on my side”?Image result for mandibuzz png

“For example, the Mandibuzz team (Dallas Regionals), my goal for Mandibuzz was to be able to tank any special attack thrown at it, Foul Play to hit physical attackers and have Taunt for status moves. It was to create checkmate scenarios where I don’t have to predict what my opponent will do. Setting up scenarios like that is what I try to do when playing and while building. I try to take as much of the game out of my opponent’s as possible.”

Do you like to start teambuilding from scratch or do you like to borrow ideas?Image result for kartana png

“We always start from a one to three mon core of something we want to use. The best teams start when you have two or three different mons that are all interesting and fit well together. Coming up with the interesting mons to use is part of the challenge.”

“You can definitely take sets from other people. I took Wolfe’s Tapu Bulu since it pressured me pretty well and Scope Lens Kartana was Enosh’s innovation. The source doesn’t really matter, but I still do build everything from mostly scratch with the exception of some individual sets.”

Some Bonus Questions

What has been your favorite Pokemon to use in VGC 2017?

Image result for tapu Koko png

“‘Volt Tackle’ Tapu Koko (his name for Twinkle Tackle + Volt Switch Tapu Koko). It does really well against the two main Ground-types and I think it’s caught on that Volt Switch is the best move for Tapu Koko.”

Which underrated or underused Pokemon do you think have the most potential?Image result for alolan muk png

“I’ll leave it at Muk, Gyarados, and Buzzwole.”

Navarre favored Muk for its access to Knock Off, Gyarados for its versatility and access to Dragon Dance, and Buzzwole for its ability to threaten the growing popularity of Porygon2 and Gigalith.Image result for buzzwole png

He also added that he thinks the results from the Korean National Championships are a “good representation of where the meta should be right now.”

Plans for the Rest of the Season

With a solid number of Championship Points under his belt, Navarre doesn’t seem to be stepping away from regionals anytime soon. He’ll be competing at the Toronto regionals this weekend along with Madison regionals after that. Navarre has expressed how much fun he’s had playing in VGC 2017 so far, with the preparation aspect being his favorite. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Navarre in another Top Cut before his appearances in Indianapolis for the North American International Championships and finally at the World Championships in Anaheim later this year. For a player who is always looking to innovate in a format that has rewarded creativity thus far, Navarre is looking like a player to watch out for when Worlds time comes around.

Thanks for reading!


Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Featured Image from @PokeCenter_VGC

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!

Toppled By Toxic and a Rare Tapu: VGC 2017 Virginia Regional Championships Recap

Finally breaking his top 4 regionals curse, Nick Navarre takes home his first regional title in Roanoke.

While we saw a lot of the same teams featuring Tapu Koko and Tapu Fini this weekend, Navarre was able to take Tapu Bulu to its first major tournament win in North America. Aside from using the format’s least prevalent Island Guardian, Navrre’s team featured a plethora of unique Pokemon and strategies that managed to break through the Tapu Koko and Tapu Fini saturated field in Roanoke.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Nick Navarre

2. Robbie Moore

3. Toler Webb

Alola Form

4. Kazuki Kanehira

5. Cameron Swan

6. Jake Hockemeyer

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/547.png

7. Aaron Traylor

8. Rajan Bal

Well That Looks Familiar

Image from Pokemon Sun and Moon

The team of Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Arcanine, Porygon2 and Gigalith took Virginia Regionals by storm this past weekend. The team was featured a total of four times on stream during Swiss Rounds, and in nearly every Top Cut match. Despite its dominance in usage, the team was only able to claim the title in Seniors but had an impressive finals run in Masters under Robbie Moore.

New Tricks

This team, of course, features some of the metagame’s most popular Pokemon, but some of the move and item choices were quite unique.Image result for tapu koko png

The popular Tapu Koko variant for this archetype opted to hold a Focus Sash to allow it to survive attacks and continue to Volt Switch in and out of play. Another interesting tech was Hidden Power Fire instead of Thunderbolt. In exchange for one of Tapu Koko’s most reliable forms of damage, Hidden Power Fire allows Tapu Koko to score a valuable knockout on an opponent’s Kartana which can give this team some trouble.

Image result for arcanine pngArcanine maintains its place as the literal “top dog” of VGC 2017, but this dog has learned some new tricks. Thief was a crucial part of Arcanine’s arsenal of attacks this weekend, as it robbed a number of Snorlax’s of their precious pinch berries. Taking away Snorlax’s berry basically shuts down its Belly Drum strategy, as it is unable to Recycle its berry after being hit with a move like Thief or Knock Off.Image result for kartana png

Instead of the popular Focus Sash or Choice Scarf on this team’s Kartana, most opted for the Grassium Z which can help Kartana quickly begin racking up Beast Boosts. In combination with Kartana’s more offense-oriented item choice, Substitute was present in order to punish defensive plays from opponents looking to protect themselves from Kartana’s rampage.

The Rise of the RockImage result for gigalith png

Porygon2 and Gigalith are a Trick Room duo that shouldn’t be messed with. While being featured in full force on the tournament’s most common team, this duo can easily place itself on a number of other builds (see Cameron Swan’s team). While Porygon2 remains mostly the same, Gigalith can either demolish its opponents with a Continental Crush followed by a flurry of Rock Slides or set up Curses like its friend Snorlax. Not having a reliable answer for these two can mean huge trouble for future teams.

Toxic Everything

Nick Navarre’s beyond conventional strategy featured two “modes” that allowed him to both pick up quick knockouts and also slowly wear down his opponent with Toxic.Image result for tapu bulu png

The first mode, which Navarre appropriately dubbed “Grass Spam”, is the offensive mode of the team. It features his Tapu Bulu carrying the Grassium Z which makes for one heck of a Bloom Doom in the Grassy Terrain field. Navarre returned to his reliable Scope Lens Kartana which he claimed is the one the mode was built for. Continuously putting multipliers on Kartana’s already monstrous Attack stat was Navarre’s goal for this mode, and an increased critical hit chance on top of the boost from Grassy Terrain, makes Kartana’s signature Leaf Blade terrifying to take a hit from.

Image result for salamence pngThe second, and likely most noteworthy, mode of the team was the use of Toxic. Those who look at Navarre’s team on the surface may not see anything that would normally run Toxic. Then you go up against Arcanine and Salamence. Arcanine is useful as a supportive Pokemon, but Toxic is quite low on the list of its common moves. Even Salamence, a Pokemon known for its offensive prowess, was utilized as a Toxic user holding a Sitrus Berry (an item you would normally never associate with a Pokemon like Salamence). Combined with the shifting of Terrain and Follow Me + Friend Guard support from Clefairy, this strategy proved quite difficult to break. This likely explains how Navarre did not drop a single game after his fourth round of Swiss.

Final Thoughts

I feel like I emphasize this in every article I write about this format, but VGC 2017 is prime for creativity. A team that dominated usage this weekend fell to a team that defied convention. Congratulations to Nick Navarre as he solidifies his place at the top of North America’s Championship Point standings with a whopping 1114 CP.

With only a few regionals remaining in the 2017 circuit, players are looking to make a final push towards claiming their World Championship invites. All of this culminates in the final International Championships coming up in just a few months in Indianapolis.

We’ll be back next week for coverage of a regional from just up north in Toronto!

Thanks for reading!


Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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

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

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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

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