pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

The first ever VGC 2018 tournament: Rutgers Fireside Open recap

Our first tournament for the 2018 season comes to us in grassroots form thanks to Rutgers University Esports. Even though there were no Championship Points on the line, this tournament gave us a very important glimpse into what the first few months of the 2018 format could look like. Being held in the northeast was a plus as the tournament featured many of the best players in the region such as Paul Chua, Chuppa Cross and the winner of the whole thing, Stephen Mea. Mea managed to win this tournament without even owning a copy of the game, having to borrow a copy and a team just for this tournament. Mea pulled off an impressive win versus Chuppa Cross in an intense three-game set in the finals, with a team archetype that you’ll see a lot of in this tournament’s Top 8.

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Stephen Mea

2. Chuppa Cross

3. Paul Chua

4. Mihrab Samad

5. Bryan Tong

6. Irving Johnson

7. Will Vega

8. Steven Lasso

Rain reigns supremepolitoed pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

As many predicted, the Rain team archetype is going to be a very popular choice in the beginning of the format. Rain has a bunch more options now with the return of Ludicolo and better Steel-types to take advantage to the nerf to Fire-type moves. Ludicolo might be a tad weaker than its fellow Swift Swimming duck Golduck, but Ludicolo’s Grass-typing plus its access to Fake Out makes it the far better choice as a rain partner.

One interesting thing to note was the popularity of Politoed over Pelipper. Although Pelipper ended up winning the tournament, the favorite Drizzle user was clearly Politoed. In favor of the fast, aggressive play that Pelipper promotes with Tailwind, it seems that many players took the defensive route by using Politoed. Politoed is able to stay on the field a lot longer than Pelipper, but it also has a bunch of different support moves it can utilize such as Icy Wind, Helping Hand and a favorite for this tournament, Perish Song. I think Politoed’s bulk and versatility will slowly make it the favored rain setter in the upcoming format.

Image result for ludicoloAs for countering Rain, you can definitely see evidence of it here. Chuppa Cross opted for a more standard team, using Zapdos and Tapu Fini in order to utilize Zapdos’ Misty Seed. The Special Defense boost from Misty Seed enables Zapdos to live the onslaught of rain-boosted Water-type attacks including Z moves as we saw Cross’ Zapdos take a Hydro Vortex from Mea’s Ludicolo no problem. Bryan Tong tried to use Gastrodon to redirect Water-type attacks using its Storm Drain ability, but something tells me that Gastrodon didn’t appreciate the abundance of Grass-type Pokemon on these rain teams. Finally, Steven Lasso decided to change the weather altogether with a team featuring Mega Charizard Y.

 

Overall, Rain came out on top, but as official tournaments get under way, players will continue to find ways to shut this team down.

Every Tapu has a placetapu bulu pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

A rare sight in VGC 2017 took just one tournament to show up in 2018. Every Island Guardian was represented in Top Cut. Oddly enough, Tapu Bulu was the most popular, which again, was a rare sight in the previous season. The team compositions here give a pretty clear indication of how each Tapu will be played. For example, Tapu Bulu fit on rain teams with more defensive Pokemon that benefited from the gradual HP recovery from Grassy Terrain, with the Grassy Terrain also boosting the power of Ludicolo’s Giga Drain. Tapu Lele fit on to more hyper offensive teams utilizing the power of Mega Evolutions like Metagross and Mawile to deal big damage fast. Tapu Fini was interestingly only seen on one team, but its role as a bulky attacker and support Pokemon can fit on a wide variety of teams. Tapu Koko seems like it is the same way, mainly being a solid fast, attacking option with players like Mea taking advantage of Electric Terrain boosted Thunders that have 100% accuracy in the rain.

Right now, I think it’s fair to say that all of the Island Guardians have their place in the metagame which is great for promoting diversity in teambuilding. Tapu Bulu seems like it has a great start, with Tapu Fini likely still being the most popular. Considering the popularity of Landorus-Therian, I expect to see these two being the most popular for a while.

The return of Mega Evolutionsmega mawile pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

Considering the popularity of Rain at this tournament, the most used Mega Evolutions seem to reflect that. Mega Mawile ended up being the most popular, with players like Mihrab Samad and Paul Chua taking advantage of the Goth/Maw combo which aims to trap your opponents in with Gothitelle’s Shadow Tag as they’re devoured by Mega Mawile under Trick Room. Of course the rain from Politoed helped with Mawile’s weakness to Fire-types, but Politoed also has another role on this team by being able to set up a late game win condition with Perish Song and Gothitelle’s trapping ability.

 

Speaking of Shadow Tag, a one-off choice for a Mega Evolution came from Stephen Mea’s use of Mega Gengar. Mega Gengar is usually on teams which take full advantage of Perish Song in conjunction with Shadow Tag in order to slowly lock their opponent’s Pokemon into KO’s. Mega Gengar can also provide a solid offensive role as well, as its coverage with Sludge Bomb and Shadow Ball deals with the plethora of Fairy-types and other popular Pokemon like Aegislash and Cresselia.

There was only a single Mega Kangaskhan which would’ve been unheard of a couple years ago. Mega Kangaskhan appeared on the team you probably expected it to, as it was accompanied by the VGC 2018 standard. One interesting thing to consider is how this standard has changed from the worlds-dominating CHALK archetype from 2015. We still have Kangaskhan and Landorus, but instead of Cresselia and Heatran, we now have Tapu Fini and Volcarona that are beginning to define the “goodstuffs” archetype. Mega Kangaskhan’s narrative will be an interesting one. Will the nerfs finally catch up to it or will it still be one of the best choices for a Mega Evolution?

The Rutgers Fireside Open was a great introduction to the potential of what the 2018 metagame has to offer. While there was a dominance from the downpour of rain teams, we saw a diverse representation of the Tapu as well as a good variety of Mega Evolutions which gives me hope that 2018 will be a great year for teambuilding.

Huge shoutouts to the Rutgers Esports organization as well as their Pokemon team which will continue to host great events for the 2018 season. VGC 2018 is just under a month away, but one more 2017 regional is coming up in Memphis, Tennessee which will serve as our final goodbye to the 2017 format. If this tournament showed us anything, it showed us how excited we should be for the 2018 season.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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

Featured Image from @aProjectCypher on Twitter

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

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

pokemon vgc 2018 hot takes

Evaluating some of the VGC community’s “hot takes” for the 2018 season

Recently there has been a bit of a trend going around the VGC community on Twitter where players will offer predictions about the upcoming 2018 format. What might’ve started out as something serious, this trend of posting “hot takes” quickly turned into a meme which progressively became a lot less serious. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of these “hot takes” (serious or not) and give my thoughts on them. Maybe I’ll even give some of my own.

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  • Good one. We’re off to a great start if you couldn’t already tell.

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  • Gavin Michaels does make some quality teams, but usually he does pretty well so I wouldn’t worry about anyone stealing his thunder too much.
  • I’ve devoted a piece to why I think Metagross is a solid Mega Evolution for the 2018 format, but despite how much I love it, Salamence probably tops the list objectively.
  • Considering how great of a performance Italy put up at the London International Championships, I wouldn’t count this as a total exaggeration. Then again, that tournament was still being played using the 2017 rules.
  • Kartana didn’t win a single International or Worlds in 2017 causing some players to believe that it wasn’t a very good Pokemon to begin with. It is a Pokemon that can sweep pretty easily, but getting knocked out by almost every strong special attack and being completely walled by Celesteela are not good looks for it. Maybe it does suck.

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  • Probably something you want on your teams from now on.
  • Remember this damage calculation.
  • This might end up being a reason for why Tapu Fini usage dies out in the early months of 2018.

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  • Can it still learn Rock Slide? Can it still hold a Choice Scarf? Does it have access to many more viable sets after the introduction of Z-moves? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, Landorus-T is most certainly not overrated.
  • Good, yes, but busted? I don’t think so. With things like Tapu Koko, Aegislash and Stakataka in the metagame Cresselia and Tapu Fini will be tough, but not impossible to handle. If you have trouble dealing with Tapu Fini I recommend you refer to the above damage calc.
  • Heatran has an amazing Tapu match-up and just so happens to be great against most Mega Charizard Y variants. Heatran being niche doesn’t seem likely to me.
  • I kind of agree with this one. Naganadel is a great Pokemon with good speed, power and offensive typing, but once people realize that they can KO it in one hit, then its usage will likely drop a bit.
  • I actually disagree with this one. I feel like Tapu Koko’s lack of offensive power will catch up to it despite its great run in VGC 2017. With that being said, Tapu Koko still has access to a lot of good support moves that could make it switch roles for this format. Basically, if you want a good Electric-type, use Zapdos.

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  • I don’t think Muk will be good this year. but if you decide to use it, please use Knock Off instead of Thief. Also Torkoal is now irrelevant because we have Charizard back.

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  • If Electrium Z Rotom becomes common, this might end up being true.
  • I don’t know…those nerfs were pretty hard on Mega Kangaskhan. Some players even exclude it from the Top 5 Mega Evolutions this year. This is 2018 people.
  • Switch something in to Mega Mawile’s Play Rough and try to tell me again that it’s a bad Mega Evolution.
  • Amoonguss is only good for re-direction since Misty and Electric Terrain exist. With some Terrain control, maybe you’ll end up clicking Spore once or twice. My money’s on Stakataka being the go-to Trick Room counter.
  • As long as you’re not running Thief on it, Muk will be alright.
  • If Landorus-T is in a VGC format, Garchomp becomes second-rate. Although, I would agree that it won’t be terrible.

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  • This one was almost too much for me. After 2017 could you even imagine a team without a Tapu?
  • I want Blacephalon to be good, but please don’t let it force lead roulette. I still have nightmares about Lillikoal.
  • Now there’s a real hot take! Mega Gyarados could be the underrated Mega Evolution that we’ve been looking for. Does this mean Pachirisu can make a comeback as well?
  • This is a true statement.

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  • This man was the master of using un-evolved Pokemon back in 2016 where Groudon and Xerneas were running rampant. Some call him insane, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the return of either Cottonee or Togetic. Maybe it’s time for Eviolite Poiple to win a tournament.

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  • I think we’ve now determined a basic structure for most, if not all, “hot takes” tweets by now.
  • But seriously, poor Kangaskhan.

After looking at all of these hot takes, I figure it would only be fitting for me to include some of my own. Take from these what you will.

  • After sleeping on Latin America for this long, the region will win an International this year.
  • Some variant of Mega Kangaskhan + Landorus-T + Heatran + Cresselia will win Worlds this year. The community will riot.
  • Players will realize that Mega Metagross’ Zen Headbutt just does way too much damage, thus Tapu Lele will be the best Tapu.
  • Despite his impressive 2018 season run so far, I don’t think Ray Rizzo will win his fourth World Championship this year.
  • The Game Haus will be the number one source for all of VGC 2018’s hot takes throughout the season.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

Shout outs to all the accounts I pulled tweets from. Follow all of these people on Twitter! 

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pokemon vgc 2018 san jose regional championships

VGC 2018 San Jose Regional Championships recap

Jirawiwat Thitasiri is your 2018 San Jose Regional Champion. Despite the rather important implications of this tournament, the event flew under many people’s radars due to the lack of a stream as well as it occurring right after Thanksgiving. Despite the lack of direct coverage, there are still a few interesting story lines worth talking about from this past weekend.

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Jirawiwat Thitasiri

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

2. Emilio Forbes

3. Rene Alvarenga

4. Matthew Greaves

f:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221113p:plainAlola Form

5. Karim Dabliz

Alola Formhttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/778.png

6. Patrick Smith

7. Mitchell Davies

Alola Form

8. Sam Pandelis

As there was no stream, there isn’t much to say specifically about the interesting Pokemon or teams that made it to San Jose’s Top 8. One thing of note is that both Mudsdale as well as Muk have been picking up late season popularity. Other players seem to have resorted to teams resembling the FAKEPG archetype as a means of achieving consistent results this late into the season.

International impact

Fun fact: three out of the eight players in the Top 8 are players from outside the U.S. The overall champion, Jirawiwat Thitasiri, is a name you’ve probably seen before as he’s been in a couple Top Cuts throughout the 2017 season. He is a player from Thailand who is currently attending university in San Francisco. This is his first major tournament win, putting him at 250 Championship Points out of the 300 he needs to qualify for the World Championships.

Another international player who was present in the Top 4 was El Salvador’s own Rene Alvarenga. Coming off his 7th place finish at the 2017 World Championships, Alvarenga has been attending a few tournaments here in the states. His finish in San Jose puts him at number one in Championship Point standings for Latin America, which has earned him a travel award to the 2018 Oceania International Championships.

Lastly, our current World Championship runner-up, Sam Pandelis was in attendance in San Jose. Pandelis funnily enough wasn’t using his team that earned him that second place trophy back in Anaheim, but I’d say his team was pretty good according to popular opinion. Like Alvarenga, Pandelis is another player who has been attending events here in America who has finally earned a solid result post-worlds.

Travel awards decided

The current (approximate) Championship Point standings for North America. (Image credit to @Pd0nZ on Twitter)

November 30th is the cutoff date for deciding travel awards based off current Championship Point standings. San Jose gave North America two more Worlds invites, bringing the total to six. The current Top 4 will receive full travel awards to Melbourne while the rest of the players in the Top 8 will receive stipends.

One notable player that earned his stipend this weekend was Ray Rizzo. Rizzo unfortunately missed the Top 32 in the Regional tournament, but thanks to a Midseason Showdown victory, Rizzo’s Championship Point total of 370 was enough to place him in North America’s Top 8.

Just like old times

Another veteran player who came back to competing was official Pokemon commentator Duy Ha. Seeing Duy Ha and

Duy Ha spotted at the top tables in San Jose. (Image credit to @MudhiManVGC on Twitter

Ray Rizzo competing in the same event made this tournament feel like it was happening back in 2012 or ’13. Ha’s 5-3 finish in Swiss put him at 28th place, just above Rizzo, who finished at 34th with the same record. Prior to, as well as during the tournament, Ha’s use of the hashtag #TheComebackKid could mean Ha is potentially interested in returning to his competitive roots. I wonder if any other commentators are planning their own comeback.

While San Jose was a tournament without much coverage, it was still a tournament full of a lot of fun story lines. The travel awards for Melbourne may have been decided, but we still have one more North American regional championship to go before VGC 2018 takes over. I know, I know VGC 2017 is beyond old news but hey, at least Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are out and we’re finally able to really practice for the 2018 season. For now, we’ll be keeping you up to date with everything VGC 2017 and 2018.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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

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

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

Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

A competitive guide to Blacephalon (UB Burst)

The release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon brought us four new Ultra Beasts that will be legal to use in the upcoming VGC format. Currently, we don’t know much about how well these new Pokemon will fare among the established powerhouses, but we’ll soon find out. Today we’re looking at the mind blowing Fire Works Pokemon known as Blacephalon. Will this Pokemon blow our minds when it makes its debut in VGC 2018? Let’s take a look.

Stats and typing

FireGhost

Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

Blacephalon is the textbook definition of a glass cannon. Blacephalon has excellent attacking stats, but odds are, the Special Attack is what most players are going to want to work with. The Speed stat may look nice on paper, but it is quite concerning as well. At base 107 speed, Blacephalon may out-speed threats like Garchomp, Tapu Lele and Landorus (without a Choice Scarf), but this leaves it slower than Pokemon like Kartana, Terrakion, Gengar, and the list goes on. However, this Speed stat leaves a lot of potential for a Choice Scarf set, but without any sort of speed control, Blacephalon suffers at an annoyingly awkward speed tier.

The typing of Ghost and Fire is yet another mixed bag. While it may be good offensively, offering decent coverage when paired with other attacks, it is incredibly weak on the defensive side. Blacephalon’s low defenses are largely to blame, but weaknesses to strong, omnipresent moves like Rock Slide, Earthquake and Knock Off leaves Blacephalon very vulnerable if you don’t know how fast your opponent’s Pokemon are. Blacephalon’s awkward speed and bad defenses are major road blocks when trying to team build with this Pokemon, but players should not underestimate its raw power.

Movepool

Learned by level-up

  • Calm Mind: While boosting Blacephalon’s stat may make it an even bigger threat, I seriously doubt it will survive long enough to take advantage of any boosts. This is yet another case where Blacephalon’s abysmal defenses come into play as these stats basically force it to play the role of a glass cannon. A cannon that unfortunately cannot efficiently improve its fire power.
  • Light Screen: While most players would like to take advantage of Blacephalon’s power, there could be room for a support move like Light Screen. This option would be better if Blacephalon was maybe a bit faster or bulkier, but I don’t see many players sacrificing a coverage attack for Light Screen.
  • Fire Blast: Likely one of the go-to Fire-type attacks Blacephalon players will go for. Fire Blast’s shaky accuracy may turn some players off considering how fragile Blacephalon is, but the raw power might be necessary to take full advantage of Blacephalon’s Special Attack.
  • Shadow Ball: The go-to move for most Ghost-type Special Attackers will likely be a staple for all Blacephalon sets. Shadow Ball may not be the strongest attack, but its consistent accuracy coming off of Blacephalon’s high Special Attack make it a reliable source of damage output.
  • Trick: This move could be a neat option for the Blacephalon that choose to run a choice-item. Trick-ing away Blacephalon’s item could be great for disrupting your opponent and opening up Blacephalon’s attack options without the restriction of a choice item.
  • Mind Blown: Blacephalon’s signature move is insanely powerful, but could be a detriment in a doubles format. Mind Blown not only sacrifices half of Blacephalon’s HP but also hits the partner Pokemon. Though, the 150 base power is excellent for a strong Inferno Overdrive and might be a useful Explosion-like strategy to score some surprising KO’s.

Learned by TM/HM

Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

  • Psychic/Psyshock: An option for coverage, mainly useful for Poison types like Mega Venusaur.
  • Hidden Power (Ice/Ground): A coverage option that you could use to hit Landorus (Ice) or Heatran (Ground).
  • Flamethrower: If you’re not crazy about Fire Blast’s accuracy, Flamethrower is the more reliable option.
  • Overheat: Another strong Fire-type attack that could be useful for a Blacephalon carrying Firium Z.
  • Will-O-Wisp: Another supportive option that could work on slower Pokemon like Garchomp and Kangaskhan, but again, I don’t see many players sacrificing a move slot for this one.
  • Substitute: I feel like Substitute is great on any Pokemon that can force defensive play. Unfortunately, Blacephalon might be too frail to take full advantage of Substitute, especially if you were thinking about trying a Substitute + Calm Mind set.

Learned via move tutor

 heahea beach pokemon Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

  • Heat Wave: Here’s a move that Blacephalon could easily spam with a Beast Boost or two. The lowered damage output due to it being a spread-move might not be optimal however.
  • Knock Off: Knock Off is one of the best and most versatile moves in the game, and Blacephalon could make use of it with its respectable Attack stat.

Potential held items

Firium Z/Ghostium Z Firium Z Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst GuideGhostium Z Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

Either one of these Z Crystals will result in a powerful hit coming from Blacephalon, and will easily get the Beast Boost train rolling. Ghost-type attacks are more rarely resisted than Fire-type attacks, but with Firium Z you can take advantage of the high base power of Mind Blown.

Life Orb Life Orb Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

If you want to boost Blacephalon’s power without locking it in to using one move, Life Orb is your best bet. Be careful of the reduction in HP as Blacephalon is already frail enough as is.

Choice Scarf/Specs Choice Scarf Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide Choice Specs Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

  • Choice Scarf would mitigate Blacephalon’s awkward Speed stat and would even allow it to out-speed other common users of Choice Scarf like Landorus and Tapu Lele. The downside is the sacrifice to a potential power boost with an item like Choice Specs or Life Orb.
  • Choice Specs would give you the desired power boost, but this leaves you with Blacephalon’s awkward speed to deal with.

Checks and counters

Landorus-Therian landorus therian Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

Of course being weak to both Rock Slide and Earthquake makes Blacephalon easy food for Landorus holding a Choice Scarf. Blacephalon can use Hidden Power Ice to deal with Landorus, but Blacephalon players have to know the item on Landorus and play around either a Choice Scarf or an Assault Vest.

Heatranheatran Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

Due to Heatran’s ability Flash Fire, it makes an easy switch into Blacephalon’s main attacking type. Heatran is also bulky enough to take a Hidden Power Ground if trained in Special Defense, and then can KO Blacephalon with an Earth Power.

Bulky Water-types   tapu fini Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

Blacephalon has absolutely nothing to hit Water-types, and a simple Scald could be the end of it.

Viable teammates

Tapu Lele tapu lele Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

As with any frail Ultra Beast, Psychic Terrain is amazing to stop priority moves from obliterating Blacephalon. Typing-wise, Blacephalon and Tapu Lele work pretty well together, as Tapu Lele’s Fairy-type attacks can hit Dark-types and Blacephalon’s Ghost-type attacks can hit other Ghosts as well as break through bulky Psychic-types like Cresselia.

Speed control (Tailwind or Icy Wind)

Despite Blacephalon’s solid base speed, it might need a bit more help in order to combat its many threats. Either Tailwind or Icy Wind support can make the Choice Specs and Z Crystal variants of Blacephalon much more effective.

Will Blacephalon really blow our minds?

It has potential, but Blacephalon is in quite an awkward spot. Its amazing offensive stats and solid offensive typing make it a huge threat, especially since it is able to increase its power with Beast Boost. However, its shallow movepool, awkward Speed tier and paper-like defenses leave it open to being ineffective in a lot of scenarios. With a little bit of help and good teambuilding, Blacephalon may be able to become a real firework on the battlefield.


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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

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

pokemon vgc 2018 europe international championships

Italy takes home 2018’s first international title: VGC 2018 European International Championships recap

Simone Sanvito is your 2018 European International Champion. Sanvito was a player known for his shaky confidence in his play going into this tournament, but he was able to overcome his doubts by taking the European title. Not bad for someone who didn’t have a team prepared until he landed in London. Sanvito also managed to flip the narrative of last year’s tournament in London with the Italian vs. Spaniard finals going to Italy this time. Let’s kick off our coverage from London with your Top 8 results.

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Simone Sanvito [ITA]

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2. Alex Gomez [ESP]

3. Carson Confer [USA]

4. Davide Cauteruccio [ITA]

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5. Lorenzo Semeraro [ITA]

6. Jamie Dixon [GBR]

7. Davide Carrer [ITA]

8. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]

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Simone silences the haters (himself)

Something that was pointed out repeatedly during Sanvito’s run in London was that he was a player known for having serious doubts in his skill as a player. Take some of these tweets from the tournament as examples:

Sanvito had it all wrong despite an early round loss. He ended up finishing his first day of Swiss with an 8-1 togedemaru pokemon vgc 2018 european international championshipsrecord, putting him in a great position for the next day. Sanvito went on to only drop one other game, capping a 12-2 record with a Top Cut appearance as the 2nd seed. We all know the story from there.

Sanvito’s team seemed like a lot of Pokemon that we’ve seen before, but there were some tricks to these already established team members. One of the main moves Sanvito utilized throughout his run was Encore, which he had on both his Alolan Ninetales as well as his Togedemaru. With two Encore users, Sanvito found many opportunities to lock down his opponent’s Pokemon into either set up moves, like Trick Room or Curse, or attacks that couldn’t do damage to Sanvito’s available switch-ins.

One of the prime examples of this control playstyle was in Sanvito’s Top 4 match against Carson Confer. In this set, Sanvito was able to mitigate Confer’s ability to set up Trick Room for his Gigalith, while also shutting down Gigalith’s ability to boost its stats with Curse. With his Pokemon stuck into less-desirable move options, Confer had to continuously react to Sanvito’s plays, while Sanvito could easily maneuver his team into a winning position.

Encore also came in clutch for Sanvito in his finals match against Alex Gomez, where, with the help of Tapu Fini’s Haze, Gomez’ Snorlax was unable to maintain its Belly Drum boosts. After locking down his opponents, Sanvito was easily able to clean up the game with either his Choice Specs Tapu Fini, Garchomp or his Celesteela.

Italy’s invasion

Like previously mentioned, Italy as a whole had a strong presence in London’s Top 8. Five of the original eight positions belonged to Italy, with the first seed coming out of Swiss and the tournament’s overall champion belonging to Italy. Does this mean Italy is the region to be reckoned with in Europe? Some players seem to think so:

 

Alex Gomez brings back Magnezonemagnezone pokemon vgc 2018 european international championships

We saw a lot of familiar teams and Pokemon in London, but Alex Gomez decided to fall back on a Pokemon that brought him success in the past. Well, more like an entire team that brought him success in the past.

Alex Gomez was one of two Tapu Bulu players in the Top 8, piloting a team very similar to the one that earned him a second place finish at the Sheffield Regional Championships earlier this year. This team featured many Pokemon that benefited from the Grassy Terrain as Pokemon like Nihilego and Magnezone appreciate taking less damage from Earthquake. For now, let’s focus on Magnezone.

Magnezone seemed like the perfect anti-meta pick for London. Celesteela was quite the popular choice for many teams, which Magnezone enjoyed. Magnezone has two solid abilities with the option of Sturdy to give Magnezone a pseudo-Focus Sash or Magnet Pull which can trap opposing Steel-types. I think you can see which one would be better against Celesteela. But, Magnezone’s combination of Steel and Electric-type attacks made it a perfect check to each of the other Tapu Pokemon, which already have a tough time dealing with Tapu Bulu. With two VGC 2017 regionals left to go, I think competitors should keep Magnezone in mind when teambuilding.

With 2018’s first International behind us and the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, we now begin our proper transition into the real 2018 season. Those looking to compete once again on the international stage have their sights on the Oceania International Championships which were announced to be hitting Melbourne, Australia this February. Until January rolls around, we still have two more VGC 2017 tournaments taking place, but in the mean time, players can now start officially training for the 2018 season in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Perhaps now is the time to uncover what the new format has in store for us as 2017 comes to a close in the coming months.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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

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

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pokemon 2018 london international championships

Concerns going into the 2018 London International Championships

While the coming London International Championships seems like a last hurrah for the 2017 VGC season, there are a few things to consider going into this tournament. A common issue that plagued the International Championships last season was controversy that popped up during or after each respective event. The International tournament in London this year has its own fair share of issues that are worth noting despite the excitement surrounding the event.

VGC 2017 is old news

pokemon 2018 london international championships

I think it’s fair to say that some players are done with VGC 2017. This season has been an exciting one, but the format itself has gotten rather stale. With such a small regional Pokedex like Alola’s, it’s going to be difficult to break the metagame, especially after an entire year of tournaments. Basically, expect to see a lot of teams that look… familiar. Considering it has been a full month since the last major tournament, there hasn’t been a lot of development in the metagame. With this uncertainty, players might default to teams that have shown consistency in the past.

And to think we still have two regional championships after London before the format officially switches over.

Attendance cap

pokemon 2018 london international championships

What caught many people off guard was the announcement that London hit its attendance cap for video game players. The initial cap announced for the Masters division was 680 players, and many are skeptical that London reached that many registered players. Is it possible that TPCI could’ve lowered the cap? If so, then why?

This news messed up many travel plans, and players are campaigning for TPCI to re-open registration. As it looks now, London has hit its cap, and it might be too late for those who planned to travel.

But at least there’s potential good news in all of this. The fact that London has nearly 700 registered players is promising considering how late into the 2017 format the tournament is. This could imply even bigger numbers coming next season.

Starting the snowball

One of the major criticisms of the London International Championships last season was how it began a snowball effect for players who were able to do well. To quickly explain, players with high Championship Point totals in the early parts of the season were eligible to receive travel stipends to other international events, allowing them even more opportunities to earn large amounts of Championships Points. This resulted in some absurdly high CP totals towards the end of the 2017 season, and the trend is looking to repeat this year.

What’s troubling about this is that we all ready have players who are qualified for the 2018 World Championships based on their results in the 2017 format. If anything, this will only screw over the players who’ve already qualified as their motivation to become skilled in the new format will be at an all-time low. It just doesn’t make sense that many players will have invites to a tournament with a format they haven’t even played yet.

Winter must be coming early, as London is promising nothing but more snowballs.

Pokemon Sun and Moon are about to be old news

pokemon 2018 london international championships

Oh right, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon release this Friday. At least players in London don’t have to worry about building 2018 format teams for a tournament happening the day after the next games come out.

Getting to my main point, the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will hurt interest in a tournament that is still being played with Pokemon Sun and Moon. Everyone will be too busy playing the new games instead of tuning into the stream from London. All I’m saying is that, interest in Pokemon Sun and Moon content will drop significantly after this Friday and viewership for even a tournament as big as London will likely take a sizable hit.

All of these concerns are worthy of acknowledgement, but we shouldn’t let these ruin our enjoyment of what is shaping up to be VGC 2017’s last hurrah. The International Championships have been the stage for some of the greatest matches of the entire season, and I would expect nothing less from London this year. Unlike last year, everyone will know what they’re doing, and more importantly, will be on top of their game for our viewing pleasure.

 


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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interview with pokeaimmd

From “Road to Top 10” to “Road to Ranked”: An interview with Joey “PokeaimMD” Sciarrone

With the growing popularity of the Pokemon Video Game Championships, many players well versed in the popular Smogon single battle format have been giving the official Pokemon tournament format a try. However, learning a completely new battle type and metagame may seem daunting to some, making the transition one that many are hesitant to make.

Joey “PokeaimMD” Sciarrone is a player and YouTuber that has been one of the number one sources for content regarding the Smogon format since 2010. Sciarrone has dabbled in the VGC format in the past, but recently he’s devoted a new series of videos to Pokemon VGC and has even begun competing seriously in official tournaments. While he’s no expert at VGC, his knowledge of the game and his overall strength as a player has made this transition between formats a lot more seamless. As one of the biggest names in the competitive Pokemon community, we decided to talk to Sciarrone and get his perspective on what the transition to VGC is like from the point-of-view of a singles player, and how players can best approach this transition.

What are some of the main differences you’ve noticed?

Aside from the obvious ones, like there being more than two Pokemon on the field at a time. One of the differences that Sciarrone speaks highly of is the adoption of best-of-three matches in higher level Pokemon VGC events. It’s valuable to Sciarrone that he’s able to adjust his strategies in-between games which is something that players on Pokemon Showdown! don’t usually have the luxury of. Sciarrone borrowed a team from 2016 World Champion Wolfe Glick to use at the Hartford Regional Championships, as he liked how the team functioned in best-of-three play, being able to utilize many different options in order to adjust to his various opponents. Currently, Sciarrone holds a 4-1 lead over VGC veteran Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, with his first ever VGC set resulting in a win against such an accomplished player.

Another key difference Sciarrone pointed out was the increased importance of positioning in the VGC battle style. He mainly addressed the difficulty of lead matchups, and how your leads are essentially “half of your team” you’re immediately tossing into the fray. Switching and putting yourself in an optimal position becomes a lot trickier when a poor switch or prediction could cost you 25% of your team.

Lastly, despite his immense competitive knowledge about individual Pokemon, Sciarrone has struggled to learn the various double battle specific moves that some Pokemon have access to and commonly use. Some of the examples that Sciarrone pointed out were moves like Feint, Wide Guard and Sky Drop.

“I know the weight that’s too heavy for Sky Drop, but I still haven’t memorized all of the Pokemon that can’t be picked up. I had someone pass me a list of all of the Pokemon that can’t be picked up.”

What skills do you think have transferred over from your experience as a singles player?

Knowledge was one of the biggest things that transfers over according to Sciarrone. For those who don’t know about the Smogon tier system, Pokemon are ranked by tiers depending on their viability and overall usage. If you’ve watched any of Sciarrone’s YouTube content, you know that he’s quite experienced in all of the Smogon tiers, giving him a plethora of knowledge about what even the lowest tier Pokemon are capable of. Even so, there still remains the hurdle of learning the differences in how these Pokemon are used in double battles.

Aside from his wealth of knowledge, obviously his skill and play style have made a relatively easy transition. Sciarrone still is able to make defensive switches and predict his opponents in order to put himself in a better position. Speaking of his play style…

How would you describe your play style, and have you had to alter it for when you play a VGC match?

“Not really.”

Sciarrone is a player that values his positioning, and making the most optimal plays rather than relying on reads. Although, this isn’t how he started out when he first picked up the game competitively.

“I remember when I started out, I used to be a super aggressive player, but you know eventually your plays catch up to you.” 

After playing for this long, Sciarrone has been able to adapt his play style to accommodate the kind of team he’s using. In his videos, he’s used teams ranging from stall strategies to hyper offense. In a serious competitive match, Sciarrone will always be thinking six turns ahead, and rather than going for game off of a single play, he’ll play the slow game making it easier to set up a late-game win condition.

 “If I have the option to hit a Draco Meteor to win the game or get chip damage to make it easier to win later, I’m going for the chip damage.” 

One interesting point that Sciarrone brought up was the idea of knowing how experienced players play just because they’re good players. He mentioned a match that he had at the Hartford Regional Championships against Robbie Moore, one of only two players that managed to defeat Sciarrone in Swiss. “He mopped the floor with me,” Sciarrone said when describing their match. Apparently Moore was able to read Sciarrone so well because “he is a good player”. Sciarrone had another experience that resulted more in his favor when he played the finals match in a Smogon tournament.

“My opponent was someone who I knew, so I decided to switch up my play style and just play super agressive.” 

It seems like being an experienced player can make you, ironically, predictable at times according to players at the highest level. There also seems to be a collective fear for “lower ladder” and/or “unknown” players, as the unpredictability factor makes the match up potentially a lot more difficult than playing against a well-known player. Funny how that works.

Something that I noticed was that Sciarrone seems to share a similar play style to former World Champion Wolfe Glick, and I think that speaks for itself when considering Sciarrone’s potential to be a powerhouse in the VGC scene.

How do you approach teambuilding?

If you’ve watched any number of the live battle sessions on Sciarrone’s channel, you’ve notced that he rarely uses his own teams. This, of course, doesn’t mean Sciarrone hasn’t built a team in his life, but for VGC events, he’s often relied on outside assistance.

Sciarrone says that he hasn’t really built a VGC team all on his own, and has mostly relied on previously successful teams for use at tournaments.

“I like to play what wins.”

This might not seem like a popular sentiment as this seems to 1) feed right into confirmation bias and 2) suggest that Sciarrone doesn’t have the ability to be original. In Sciarrone’s defense, playing “what wins” isn’t a bad way to approach using a team at all. At the end of the day, players are trying to win a tournament, and while some players can pull of weird and creative strategies, some players like Sciarrone prefer consistency and results above all else. What’ll win you games is how well you play a team, rather than what team you’re using.

According to Sciarrone, this is also largely due to lack of familiarity with how certain teams built for VGC work. While Sciarrone can pick up nearly any singles team and be successful, he requires a lot more resources to fully understand how to play a VGC team.

“With singles you can hand me a pastebin and I’ll know how to play a team just like that, but with VGC I feel like I need an entire team report.”

What is some advice you can give to other players looking to get into VGC?

“Watch good players, and play a lot.”

Admittedly, sort of cliche advice, but Sciarrone has adopted a slightly different approach to his advice. Many players relay the advice of getting better by building experience and learning from the pros, but who says that has to be done alone? Sciarrone emphasized throughout our interview how valuable working with other players to learn the game has been for him in learning the VGC format. In addition to building your skills on your own, finding a network of people to improve alongside of will likely lead to much better results.

With 150,000 YouTube subscribers and now some Championship Points under his belt, Sciarrone has a promising future in the VGC scene. With his “Road to Ranked” series he’s already introducing a ton of his primarily-singles playing audience to the realm of Pokemon VGC, while he himself continues to improve as a player. Sciarrone looks to compete in the upcoming 2018 VGC season and it looks like he’s got a lot of support from his fans as well as players in the community who are welcoming him with open arms. He might still be learning, but don’t be surprised to see Joel Scarrione pop up in a regional-level Top Cut before too long.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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pokemon local tournament streams

Does this new rule change mean the end of local tournament streams?

In a wave of newly released information for Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the official Play! Pokemon rules document received some updates that have gotten the community’s attention. According to an update to section 2.2 players cannot enter official tournaments with a modified 3DS system; meaning 3DS systems with capture cards are not allowed for tournament use. Many members of the community are outraged at the implications of this rule, but there is a possibility that this ruling could be totally harmless.

Before that, a quick update regarding our last piece

 landorus pokemon local tournament streams

In our last article, we discussed a potential scenario where staple legendary Pokemon would not be allowed in the upcoming 2018 format. In a hilarious twist of irony, today a trailer was released confirming the return of every single legendary Pokemon in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

The speculation was fun while it lasted, and some of the analysis present in that piece is still relevant to a format where these Pokemon are allowed. While it’s not exactly accurate anymore, it’s still worth a read (in my completely unbiased opinion).

The ruling

capture card 3ds pokemon local tournament streams

A 3DS capture device often used by Pokemon content creators. (Image: 3dscapture.com)

“Section 2.2: Players should ensure that game systems with which they enter Play! Pokémon
tournaments are unmodified. Players found to be using modified systems may be subject to
disqualification and subsequent disciplinary action.”

-Taken from Appendix B of the official Play! Pokemon VG Rules document

What this ruling implies is that any 3DS system that has been modified in any way is not eligible for use in any official tournaments. This makes sense considering modified systems could indicate that a player has the means to alter their game state which is also prohibited.

What’s not clear is to what extent does the “modification” criteria go? Does this accommodate players with extended battery packs or are all modifications prohibited? One thing that’s for certain about this criteria is the outlawing of 3DS systems with installed capture cards.

Since there is no official hardware or software able to record game play from a 3DS, many content creators have resorted to third-party capture cards that must be installed into the system in order for both screens to be captured. In the most traditional sense, this would be considered a modification, and thus, prohibited from tournament use. The problem here is that local tournaments, as well as unofficial streamers, rely on this hardware in order to stream and record matches from smaller tournaments and larger tournaments without official coverage. The implication of this ban means that the use of 3DS systems with capture cards will be outlawed from tournament use entirely.

Or will they?

Check the wording

The rule does not specifically say that these modifications would be banned from tournaments entirely. It only says that players may not enter official Play! Pokemon tournaments with modified systems, and technically systems used to stream are not entered into the tournament.

There’s one problem though.

Technically, the systems being used to stream would be used by players during the tournament, so we have yet another area of ambiguity. Does this qualify as an “entered” system or consoles that are used for streaming outside of the tournament jurisdiction? Unless we get some sort of confirmation, we just don’t know.

Another important additiontapu fini pokemon local tournament streams

This rule isn’t exactly relevant to the previously mentioned one, but it is very important for those who are competing in any of the final 2017 format tournaments after Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s release.

“Section 1.4: Pokémon may only use moves that have been learned through normal gameplay or
from an official Pokémon event or promotion obtainable through a copy of Pokémon Sun or
Pokémon Moon. Players may not use moves that are exclusively obtained through use of a copy
of Pokémon Ultra Sun or Pokémon Ultra Moon.”

– Taken from Appendix B of the official Play! Pokemon VG Rules document

We already knew that move tutors were coming back, but this rule came as a bit of a surprise. Basically, moves only accessible via the move tutors in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon cannot be used by Pokemon that are currently usable under the 2017 rules. This was a rule not enforced back towards the end of the 2014 season, as move tutor moves accessible in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were allowed in VGC 2014 tournaments after the new games were released.

It’s reasonable why this rule would be in place, to keep the remaining tournaments under the same restrictions as the rest of VGC 2017. Having to learn, and more importantly get access to, the new tutor moves would be a daunting task for some in just under a month. I guess we’ll just have to wait until January for Tapu Fini to get Icy Wind.

In regards to our main point of discussion, does this new ruling mean the end of grassroots streaming content? I would say no, but at this point we have no official statement regarding the issue, so I honestly don’t know. I hope that the Pokemon Company realizes how much damage they would do to the competitive scene if this rule outlawed 3DS systems with capture cards. Stream coverage is already incredibly scarce in the scene, and hitting local streamers would only further inhibit the growth of the game. All we can do now is wait and see if TPCi will make the right choice.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

What VGC 2018 could look like without the return of staple Legendary Pokemon

With the announcement of the Ultra Wormholes allowing players to catch legendary Pokemon in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, there remains uncertainty over which ones will be available. In preparation for the 2018 format, many players have taken to the Battle Spot Doubles online ladder in Pokemon Sun and Moon in order to practice for the upcoming format. This rule set allows the entire National Pokedex, with the exception of restricted legendary Pokemon as well as Mythical Pokemon, making it very similar to what we expect the 2018 format to be like. Although, the lack of concrete evidence we have on whether or not VGC staples like Landorus and Cresselia will be returning to 2018 leaves many players skeptical.

A National Pokedex format without the staples of the past would shake things up considerably for the 2018 season. Let’s take a look at what a potential 2018 meta game could look like without these legendary Pokemon returning.

Landorus (Therian Forme) landorus pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

Wreaking havoc on VGC since 2013 is none other than the infamous intimidating cat known as Landorus-Therian. Anyone whose played Pokemon competitively knows how powerful and versatile Landorus can be, and many players are hesitant in welcoming this Pokemon back. Landorus has access to one of the best abilities in the game in Intimidate while also being a great source of damage output. Replacing Landorus will involve looking to other Ground-types as well as other users of Intimidate.

For Ground-types, the easy answer is Garchomp. Garchomp is a Pokemon that has dominated formats in Landorus’ absence as it fills the role of a strong, Ground-type attacker. Garchomp may lack Intimidate, but the amount of offensive pressure it puts on with the ability to spam Earthquake makes it a great choice for a sweeper. Outside of Garchomp, the remaining options are admittedly niche, but other options exist.

  • Mamoswine: Of course I call other Ground-types “niche” but Mamoswine won a world championship in 2013. The typing of Ice and Ground is solid offensively as Ice hits the plethora of Dragons as well as other Ground-types and the Ground-type gives Mamoswine a powerful Earthquake. Mamoswine does lack speed and unfortunately has to deal with the defensive woes of being an Ice-type, but Choice Scarf has been an effective item to alleviate the speed issue. Just ask Arash Ommati.
  • Excadrill: The cover sweeper for the Sand archetype, but unfortunately that’s about as far as Excadrill goes. Like Mamoswine, Excadrill suffers from a low speed but Excadrill’s Sand Rush ability mitigates that entirely when paired with Tyranitar. Excadrill is a good Pokemon with Sandstorm, but lackluster otherwise.
  • Other Options: Mudsdale, Krookodile, (Mega) Swampert, Gastrodon

Intimidate is a much more widely available tool that many teams won’t have much trouble replacing. Salamence (and most likely Mega Salamence) will be players’ number one choice considering that we do have confirmation on the return of Mega Evolutions. Salamence has the ability Intimidate prior to Mega evolving, but the loss of Intimidate upon Mega Evolution turns Mega Salamence into a terrifying sweeper. But unlike Ground-types in VGC, many more viable options for Intimidate exist.

  • Mawile: Mawile is another case of a Pokemon that will primarily be used for its Mega Evolution, but its access to Intimidate makes it even more useful. Like Salamence, Mawile turns into a massive attacking threat upon Mega Evolution allowing it to serve similar roles as Salamence and Landorus, but perhaps a more popular choice for Trick Room teams.
  • Hitmontop: Despite the drastic increase in Fairy-type Pokemon, Hitmontontop has remained as a solid niche Intimidate user despite its less-favorable type matchup. Hitmontop can not only utilize Intimidate but also has access to great support moves like Fake Out and Wide Guard. As a non-Mega Evolution, I could see Hitmontop being high on the usage charts for Intimidate users.
  • Other Options: Gyarados, (Mega Manectric), Arcanine, Staraptor, Scrafty

Heatranheatran pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

With the increased usage of Fairy-type Pokemon, Heatran’s usefulness has skyrocketed. Heatran mainly plays the role of a slow, Special Attacking sweeper that functions well under Trick Room. When looking to replace Heatran, we’ll have to examine the available Fire and Steel-types at our disposal.

The Pokemon that most fucntions the most similarly to Heatran would be Mega Camerupt. Mega Camerupt isn’t the most popular choice for a team’s Mega Evolution, but its role as a slow, Fire-type Trick Room sweeper makes me think of Heatran. Of course, we should examine non-mega options considering Heatran does not compromise that slot.

Fire-types

  • Arcanine: The 2017 season may be ending soon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Arcanine is going away. Many teams that didn’t feature Heatran in the 2015 format saw Arcanine as a solid option for a more defensive Fire-type. While Arcanine doesn’t function in the same way as Heatran, Arcanine serves a nice role as a more defensive Fire-type that can also do respectable damage.
  • Volcarona: Many players see potential in Volcarona as a Fire-type that can perform a sweeper role, but with a bit more speed at its disposal. Unlike Heatran, Volcarona has access to a boosting move in Quiver Dance that increases Volcarona’s Special Attack, Speed and Special Defense. Like Heatran, Volcarona also has a high Special Attack that can easily take advantage of a powerful Z-move whether it be Inferno Overdrive or another coverage option. Aside from the sweeper role, Volcarona can also play support as it does have access to Rage Powder, allowing it to redirect attacks away from its teammates. Volcarona’s power and versatility could make it a popular choice whether or not Heatran comes back.
  • Other Options: Alolan Marowak, Infernape, Heat Rotom, Chandelure

Steel-types

  • Celesteela: When I think of defensive Steel-types, Celesteela is the first one to pop up. Celesteela has already shown its dominance in the 2017 metagame, and if Heatran is missing from 2018, Celesteela will certainly thrive.
  • Aegislash: Aegislash has the ability to be defensive as well as offensive as it switches between its two forms. Aegislash mainly functions in the attacker role, but some Aegislash may carry Wide Guard in order to defend its teammates against Rock Slides or Dazzling Gleams. Like Celesteela, I predict that Aegislash will thrive in a metagame without Heatran.
  • Ferrothorn: Up to this point, I’ve only been exploring two options for each category, but I couldn’t talk about Steel-types without mentioning Ferrothorn. In a format without one of the strongest Fire-types in VGC, Ferrothorn will have a great time with its x4 weakness to Fire. Functioning similarly to Celesteela, Ferrothorn is able to win games just by sitting there and sucking the opponent’s health away with Leech Seed. If a team needs a defensive Pokemon, Ferrothorn is often a great choice.
  • Other Options: (Mega) Metagross, Bisharp, Bronzong

Cresseliacresselia pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

The queen of VGC needs no introduction. Cresselia has been an anchor for teams ever since it made its debut in the fourth generation, and 2018 will be no different if Cresselia is available in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Cresselia’s main role is a defensive Trick Room setter, but we’ve seen Cresselia function in many other roles making it into a Pokemon that can fit on almost any team.

Cresselia is a hard one to replace, as very few Pokemon can do its job as well as it can. Porygon2 is the first that comes to mind when thinking of a Cresselia replacement, as it too functions as the defensive Trick Room setter. However, Porygon2 can really only function in that role, which limits its usefulness, but in the 2017 season it was a staple for a team’s Trick Room mode. If Cresselia isn’t around, we’d likely see Porygon2 return to this role, but Porygon2 isn’t the only option for a team’s designated Trick Room setter.

  • Oranguru: One of the newer faces to the game was unfortunately overshadowed by Porygon2, but Oranguru has some tricks that separate it from the rest. Instruct is a move that will only become better as more Pokemon are available, and this direct support Oranguru can provide to Trick Room sweepers can make a sweep much easier to pull off.
  • Gothitelle: Gothitelle is another Trick Room setter with a unique trick up its sleeve: Shadow Tag. Shadow Tag allows Gothitelle to trap both opponents (as long as they’re not ghosts) which can be very difficult to break free from. This ability has great synergy with Perish Song as well as Intimidate as your becomes powerless in attempting to prevent their trapped Pokemon from being KO’d. If Cresselia isn’t around, expect Gothitelle to be a popular choice to replace her.
  • Other Options: Jellicent, Dusclops, Slowbro, Slowking, (Mega) Gardevoir

What lies beyond the Ultra Wormholes?

At this point we can’t be certain, and it’s likely we won’t find out whether these Pokemon await us in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon until the games are released. Until then, we have no choice but to play a guessing game about the upcoming metagame. Practicing on the Battle Spot Doubles ladder is the best bet we have right now for those looking to prepare for the 2018 season, but players should be cautious in determining their strategies.

In all honesty, we’ll likely have the opportunity to catch all of these legendary Pokemon due to the nature of the Ultra Wormhole mechanic, and how similar it looks to the rings found in the post-game of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. But that, much like the rest of this article, is purely speculation.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Jamie Boyt’s “Funconventionality” series introduces us to BoomQuake

EarthBurst? No, BoomQuake.

Jamie Boyt is a player known for using off-meta strategies at the highest level, and his YouTube channel is the perfect place for him to show off that creativity. However, this new strategy was not his creation, but he has certainly brought it into the public eye.

This particular VGC 2017 format team features no Tapu and no Ultra Beasts. Instead, the stars of the show are Palossand and Toucannon. We’ve talked about Palossand before, but Toucannon is a Pokemon that I thought we’d never see in a VGC match. The combination relies on Boomburst and Earthquake spam which combos perfectly with Palossand’s Ghost-type and Toucannon’s Flying-type. Throw in Oranguru to set up Trick Room and you have yourself a sweep. Let’s take a look at this outrageous team and how it could be a viable best-of-one strategy.

Oranguruoranguru Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Before we get into the actual BoomQuake portion of this team, let’s talk about the premier set-up Pokemon of the team. Oranguru has three main selling points that make it perfect for this strategy: Trick Room, Instruct and the ability Telepathy. Since this team aims to spam the moves Earthquake and Boomburst (both hitting your partner Pokemon) Oranguru’s combination of Instruct and Telepathy allows either Palossand or Toucannon to fire off two attacks while Oranguru takes zero damage.

A specific tech Boyt was using for the team was the Z-Thunder on Oranguru. This powerful Gigavolt Havoc isn’t actually that strong coming from Oranguru, that doesn’t get any sort of boost from using this Z move. It still does a ton of damage to opposing Celesteela and Tapu Fini which do give this team some trouble.

Toucannon: The Boomtoucannon Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Toucannon was by far one of the most subpar early-game birds we’ve gotten in the Pokemon series, but it seems we’ve finally found a use for it. It surprisingly gets a lot of strong moves as well as a great ability in Sheer Force; but unfortunately it suffers from mediocre stats across the board.

Boomburst is a 140 base power Normal-type attack that hits all Pokemon on the field. Combining Toucannon with a Choice Specs makes this attack one that most in the format do not want to take twice. Like I said, Toucannon has mediocre stats with Special Attack being no exception, but the same-type attack boost plus the Choice Specs actually puts out a ton of damage.

Another positive about Toucannon is its surprisingly good move pool. The set on this team rounds itself out with Overheat and Flash Cannon which will likely rarely be used, but they’re solid coverage moves if Boomburst isn’t going to cut it.

Palossand: The Quake palossand Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Like Toucannon, Palossand is not the strongest Pokemon, but the addition of a Choice item can help remedy that. Palossand’s Ghost-type makes it immune to Boomburst, allowing the combination of Palossand and Toucannon to spam their attacks next to each other with no consequence.

As we’ve seen with Pokemon like Garchomp, Earthquake is a great spam-able move in the 2017 format due to how many common Pokemon are weak to Ground-type attacks. Palossand’s other physical attacking options aren’t as good as Toucannon’s special attacks, but honestly Earthquake is about all you need.

Out of the two, Palossand would likely be the harder one to take down considering how well its typing deals with the VGC 2017 meta game. This duo might leave a bit to be desired in the damage department, but they are certainly not the easiest Pokemon to deal with.

The Supporting Cast

The team that Boyt featured on his channel did not stop its creativity at the aforementioned trio.

Smeargle

 smeargle Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Smeargle and Palossand have been a fun best-of-one combo in the past, so the inclusion of Smeargle almost acts as a bluff for this strategy. Smeargle’s job is mainly what it always does, but leading with Smeargle usually means you need it to help Oranguru set up Trick Room. Smeargle still does Smeargle things.

Rampardos

Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Rampardos is an insanely strong Pokemon but its speed stat holds it back a lot. Did I mention this thing has a Choice Scarf? Even with a Choice Scarf, don’t expect to be out-speeding much further than Kartana. But with Flamethrower tech’d onto this team’s move set, getting rid of Kartana is very doable with this Pokemon.

Like I said, Rampardos is very strong and its role here is just getting big damage off. There’s not a lot of depth to this choice, but I can say for certain that a Head Smash from Rampardos hurts a lot.

Magmortar

 magmortar Jamie Boyt Toucannon and Palossand BoomQuake

Unfortunately we never got to see Magmortar do anything in Boyt’s two videos featuring this team. We know that it has an Assault Vest and that it’s likely on the team to help deal with Celesteela. Magmortar’s move pool makes it a good Assault Vest user, and I wish we could’ve seen more of it.

The future of BoomQuake

Despite how cool this is, it’s not looking too great for this strategy. For one, it’s incredibly gimmicky and I definitely do NOT recommend bringing this team to a best-of-three tournament. Also, the potential to build on this combo with more Pokemon in VGC 2018 is admittedly a little awkward.

Golurk is the only other Ghost/Ground-type Pokemon out there, and it logically seems like the next step up from Palossand. The issue here is regarding the Boomburst Pokemon. We have plenty other Boomburst users that can also fly/levitate, but the thing is they don’t exactly work well under Trick Room. Options like Swellow and Chatot might be stronger than Toucannon, but both are significantly faster, making the Trick Room synergy falter.

I’ve gone this entire piece without crediting the mind behind this team so all credit for this team goes to Twitter user @BB_Mastodon_VGC. You also have to give credit to Jamie Boyt for effectively showcasing the team, so make sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel and check out his “Funconventionality” series.

This team is a fun thing to maybe try on Battle Spot, but like I said, I don’t see it having any real competitive viability. Boyt might have been near the bottom of the Battle Spot ladder when showcasing the team, but there’s evidence that this strategy can work. Maybe you can earn a Premier Challenge win with the team, as all of your opponents scratch their heads wondering how they lost to a Toucannon and Palossand. You can then triumphantly tell them that they just got BoomQuake’d.


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

Featured Image credit to Jamie Boyt on YouTube

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