2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Japan is Back!: 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

Results and Teams

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

1. Ryota Otsubo [Japan]

2. Sam Pandelis [Australia] 

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3. Paul Ruiz [Ecuador]

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

4. Tomoyuki Yoshimura [Japan]

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5. Nils Dunlop [Sweden]

Alola Form

6. Sebastian Escalante [Argentina]

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7. Rene Alvarenga [El Salvador]

8. Dorian Andre Quimones Vallejos [Peru]

First, An Update on Our Picks

Nick Navarre (4-3 – Day 2): 

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

Markus Stadter (4-3 – Day 2):

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

Sebastian Escalante (Top 8): 

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

Christopher Kan (3-4 – Day 2):

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

A Repeat Run Cut Short

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

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

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

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

The Unstoppable Junior: Nicholas Kan

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Nicholas Kan – 2017 Junior Pokemon Video Game World Champion

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

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

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

#Don’tSleeponLatinAmerica

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

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

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

Japan is back on top

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Ryota Otsubo – 2017 Masters Pokemon Video Game World Champion

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

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

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

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

Popular Strategies that didn’t quite make the Cut

Alolan Raichu

alolan raichu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

metagross 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

Big Plays From Anaheim

Lightningrod

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

Celesteelacelesteela 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

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

Mimikyumimikyu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

See you next year in Nashville!

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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Pokemon world championships

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

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

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

Tapu Bulu

tapu bulu pokemon world championships

I know, I know.

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

Just hear me out.

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

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

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

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

Tapu Fini

tapu fini pokemon world championships

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

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

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

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

Hariyama

hariyama pokemon world championships

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

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

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

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

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

Metagross

metagross pokemon world championships

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

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

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

Alolan Marowak

alolan marowak pokemon world championships

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

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

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

Versatility is the key

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

vgc 2018 liverpool regional championships

VGC 2018 Liverpool Regional Championships recap

*Note: We’re labeling Liverpool under VGC 2018 as the Championship Points earned from this tournament will go towards the 2018 season.

It’s weird to think about, but we’ve already had our first 2018 regional before the 2017 World Championships. Congratulations to Thomas Plater who is your Liverpool regional champion, and is now more than two thirds of the way to his worlds invite.

Liverpool was a tournament that just kind of…happened. No major coverage or even a stream came from the event, which was odd, but considering the timing it’s not surprising. Most of Europe’s biggest names made it to the event. Interestingly, usual favorites like Markus Stadter and Alex Gomez weren’t present in the Top Cut.

To be honest, there’s not a whole lot to say about Liverpool, but unfortunately this event did generate a controversy that caused a rather large uproar on Twitter. But before we get to all of that, let’s take a look at the results.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Thomas Plater

2. Jamie Dixon

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3. Arash Ommati

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4. Daniel Oztekin

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5. Simone Perilli

6. Alessio Yuri Boschetto

7. Rafa Montes

8. Nico Davide Cognetta

Do the Top 8 teams reflect a potential Worlds Top Cut?

Possibly, but I don’t expect the number of familiar/standard compositions that made it into Liverpool’s Top 8 to dominate Anaheim’s.

I expected going into this tournament that a lot of European top players would not try too hard to team build for this tournament, as all of that creativity should be going towards a potential Worlds team. As a result, we have goodstuffs, two FAKEPG teams and a couple of familiar Tapu Lele teams. Without much of a reason for Europe’s Worlds competitors to team build for Liverpool, standard was likely the best call.

The only real interesting team here is probably Daniel Oztekin’s Torkoal/Lilligant team. Despite the team being from another player who Oztekin credited on his Twitter, the team had quite a few interesting tricks. Speed Swap Pheromosa, a Shell Smashing Torkoal and Oranguru as the team’s Trick Room setter to name a few. I don’t expect Sun to be an archetype that’s been forgotten come Worlds, and this team shows how crazy a Sun team can be.

Consistent teams are always solid choices for a tournament, but due to the nature of the Worlds metagame, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more interesting stuff in Anaheim’s Top Cut.

Trouble in Top 4

Ruling controversies are never fun to talk about, but there was a rather large one that came out of Liverpool. 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati was playing his Top 4 set against Jamie Dixon. Ommati had already won game one  and looked to have already secured game two. The game came down to Ommati’s Whimsicott Encore-stalling Dixon’s Porygon2, at which point Ommati suggested to Dixon that he should forfeit in order to save time and DS charge.

According to Ommati, Dixon agreed to forfeit, but a judge, overhearing Arash basically saying to his opponent “you should forfeit” decided to give Ommati a game loss for a violation of the rules. This distraction, Ommati claims, caused Ommati to misclick and essentially give the game to his opponent. Since game two had concluded before the ruling was decided, the judge ended up applying the game loss to game three instead, essentially giving the set to Dixon.

My thoughts

For those unfamiliar, the official Play! Pokemon rules specifically outlaw the manipulation of a match through “intimidation or distraction.” Basically, it is unsportsmanlike to ask your opponent to scoop the game to you.

To be fair, in this situation, Ommati was not intimidating or distracting his opponent, and it’s unlikely that there was any malicious intent behind Ommati’s suggestion. Although, asking your opponent to forfeit shouldn’t be allowed in any circumstance, especially considering this was a regional semifinal and Dixon should be allowed to play the game out if he wants. Also, it turns out that due to the mechanic of Encore ending if a move runs out of PP, Ommati was not 100% guaranteed the win, but the game was still heavily in his favor.

As for the ruling, I don’t 100% agree with this one. The game loss should have been applied to game two since the details seem to indicate that’s when this whole situation occurred. Though, if this happened in-between games, then it would make sense for the loss to be applied to game three. Then there’s the whole issue of Ommati’s claim that the judge distracting him caused him to lose game two, which doesn’t seem very fair to him as a player.

This situation as a whole could’ve been handled a lot better, but the bottom line is that asking your opponent to scoop the game regardless of the circumstances is never a good idea. Also, a player in this situation such as Dixon had a valid win condition and should be allowed to play for it.

Final thoughts

If it wasn’t already clear, Liverpool is quite a mixed bag for me. For one, the whole ruling controversy was a mess and I’m tired of seeing people argue back and forth about issues like this. Also, I don’t really agree with having 2018 tournaments BEFORE WORLDS. This tournament would’ve been fine if it had happened in September or later, but to have it in the time where most players are preparing for the season’s biggest tournament just seems distracting.

There is something positive that I would like to mention however. Matteo Dorrell, a European VGC commentator who’s well known in the community, posted a short statement before the event about why Liverpool was not going to be streamed. He claims that there was a miscommunication that unfortunately made the stream not possible. At the end of his post, he mentioned that he is optimistic about future streaming of European events and will prioritize his role as a streamer and caster.

Glad to see some good news come out of this event. Now with our first major 2018 event out of the way (still feels weird to write that) let’s again turn our attention towards the World Championships that are now just under three weeks away.

Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter @aricbartleti


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

Pokemon Sprite Images from Pokémon Sun and Moon

Featured Image from Tournamentcenter.eu

 

Pokemon 2018 season announced: The most important changes

It’s slightly past the middle of July, but The Pokemon Company has finally released information about the 2018 competitive season. Let’s check out some of the biggest developments, and how they will affect the upcoming year.

World Championship qualification bar 

Pokemon 2018 season announced

One of the biggest pieces of information to come out of the announcement was the lowering of the Championship Point requirement for a Worlds invite for the U.S. and Europe. With the sheer amount of tournaments already announced in addition to the lack of a best-finish-limit for Regional and International Championships, obtaining a Worlds invite is looking a lot easier this season.

Latin America received a bump up to 400 for its bar for 2018 which looks promising for its region, as this means a lot more events are likely coming its way.

Some European players think 300 is a bit low which is fair considering nearly 50 European players cleared 300 points in 2017. Hopefully this doesn’t mean European tournament numbers will be taking a hit.

Removal of BFL for Regional and International Championships

Pokemon 2018 season announcedPokemon 2018 season announced

One of the player-base’s biggest issues with the 2017 structure was the snowball effect that benefited those with high amounts of Championship Points in the beginning of the season. With the top players earning travel stipends to compete at more Internationals, this created a snowballing effect where these players would travel and earn ridiculous amounts of Points. Now that there is no restriction on the season’s largest tournaments, the snowball will keep on rolling.

The name “wallet warrior” was thrown around a lot last season as a name given to those who were able to travel to a lot of events due to stipends or just having the funds to do so. This looks to be the season for “wallet warriors” as the removal of the BFL for Regionals will make travelling to a lot of events much more rewarding.

The best-finish-limit for Midseason Showdowns as well as Premier Challenges has been updated to be two per series, in which there are four. The BFL has increased but at the cost of CP payouts being lowered yet again for local events. Many players are uneasy as to how this will continue to affect the local scene.

Improved prize money payouts

Pokemon 2018 season announced

One piece of undeniably good news is the increase in prize money awards for larger tournaments. Not only do the prizes for top placings look higher, but the payout looks to extend past the top eight for more forgiving attendance numbers.

This is fantastic for potentially boosting tournament numbers and will likely compliment the increase in tournaments quite nicely.

Speaking of which…

A ton of events announced already

Pokemon 2018 season announced

Image thanks to @PokeStats_TCG on Twitter

The U.S. has 12 Regional Championships already on its schedule with Europe having seven. Many players are satisfied with less travel required due to the utter number of events that are reasonably close to one another.

We have yet to see a schedule appear for Latin America and Oceania as of now, but hopefully these regions are given the proper treatment.

Even 3/4 International Championships already have dates set, but unfortunately for Europe…

European Internationals are being held the same weekend as the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

A lot, and I mean a lot of players had a huge issue with the European International Championships being so early in the 2017 season, but this year TPCi has decided to push it up to right when the next games are being released. I’m assuming this means the rule-set will remain with Pokemon Sun and Moon for European Internationals, but it looks like we’ll have a couple Worlds invites clinched or nearly clinched before the actual 2018 season begins.

So this is the 2018 format?

Pokemon 2018 season announced

We’ve only covered some of the main aspects of the 2018 season, but there’s so much we don’t know yet. We’re still waiting on the rule-set for when Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon drop, which will likely not be announced until the game’s release.

2018, like most of the previous seasons, is not perfect by any means, but there are signs of larger ambition from TPCi which can only mean good news for the future.

There are a lot of different opinions being thrown around right now on all ends of the spectrum, so if you want to learn more about the upcoming season, be sure to join the discussion.

Here are some helpful links for both further information and discussion about the 2018 season:

The official announcement for the 2018 season:

  • http://www.pokemon.com/us/pokemon-news/battle-in-the-2018-championship-series-season/

Overview of 2018 season:

  • http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/

Pokemon.com’s Official Tournament Locator

  • https://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/find-an-event/?mo_ar=true&so_ar=true

Information on each of the tournament levels:

  • Premier Challenges: http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/vg-premier-challenge/
  • MidSeason Showdowns: http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/midseason-showdown/
  • Regional Championships: http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/regional-championships/
  • International Championships: http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/international-championships/
  • World Championships w/ qualification info: http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/pokemon-world-championships/

Updated Rules Documents (thanks @ParanoidOddish on Twitter) 

  • https://twitter.com/ParanoidOddish/status/890267845371756545

Forum post on @TrainerTower discussing the 2018 season announcement

  • http://trainertower.com/forums/threads/2018-circuit-feelings-thread.415/

Head Judge Jen Badamo’s Twitter – she’s currently answering questions 

  • https://twitter.com/JenBamo

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

Images from Pokémon unless otherwise credited

A clean Australian sweep: VGC 2017 North American International Championships recap

The first ever North American International Championships and the final tournament in the 2017 season before Worlds was a historic tournament for both sides of competitive Pokemon. While we saw the largest Pokemon TCG tournament in Play! Pokemon’s history, what emerged in the VGC was quite an unlikely rivalry that appeared in all of the finals matches.

USA vs. Australia was the story of this tournament’s top cut, despite the diverse array of nations that were represented in the tournament’s final stages. Former Seniors TCG World Champion Christopher Kan, as well as his younger brother Nicholas Kan, were both able to claim titles for their home nation with a little help from Alfredo Chang in the Seniors Division.

Let’s take a look at what made it big in Indianapolis and where this leaves us with Worlds coming in just over a month.

Results & teams (Top 10 Cut)

1. Christopher Kan [AU]

2. Paul Chua [US]

3. Cesar Reyes [MEX]

4. Sean Bannen [US]

5. Sebastian Escalante [ARG]

Alola Form

6. Markus Stadter [GER]

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7. Nils Dunlop [SWE]

Alola Form

8. Nick Navarre [US]

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9. Diego Ferreria [CHI]

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10. Tyler Miller [US]

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Tapu Koko and the new “Big 6”?

paul chua team

If it wasn’t clear by VGC 2017’s usage stats coming into the North American Internationals, the results from this tournament make a strong case for Tapu Koko as the format’s most dominant Tapu Pokemon. With this Pokemon’s place at the top, a possible new variant of the “big 6” could finally be emerging in the 2017 format.

vgc 2017 usage

The core of Tapu Koko, Celesteela, Arcanine and Garchomp is commonly referred to as a “goodstuffs” core as it features some of the best Pokemon in the format. To compliment this core, a popular team featuring Alolan Ninetales and Snorlax has been taking a number of high placings, including at this tournament.

What Paul Chua did differently

choice scarf garchomp

Paul Chua’s variant, being the most successful, featured this standard six, but a couple of unique tricks. One of the biggest surprises was Chua’s choice of the Choice Scarf item on his Garchomp. Many players don’t expect this item as it’s a common “best-of-one strategy” that is meant to catch players off-guard. Chua managed to play with this tech in a way that won him numerous games. Whether he was able to spam Earthquake after whittling down his opponent’s team or maybe score some clutch Rock Slide flinches to turn the tide his way.

Image result for electrium zElectrium Z was Chua’s item of choice for his Tapu Koko, in favor of the popular Assault Vest item that many other players have opted for at this stage of the season. Using Thunder as a means for a powerful Gigavolt Havoc, was risky given Thunder’s shaky accuracy, but the extra power boost was clutch in scoring KO’s on less bulky Tapu Koko and Arcanine.

Image result for alolan ninetales png

Chua’s Ninetales was also quite unique as Protect was left out in favor of Roar. Roar was important during one of Chua’s earlier matches against Markus Stadter where it was able to disrupt Stadter’s Z-Conversion boosted Porygon-Z, eliminating its stat boosts by switching it out of play. Ninetales also did a lot of work during the finals as it managed to set up Aurora Veil while also scoring a clutch freeze on Kan’s Porygon2, essentially winning game two for Chua.

Snorlax’s Facade

Image result for snorlax

A tech for Snorlax that was not unique to Chua was the inclusion of Facade as Snorlax’s Normal-type attack of choice. We saw this come into play during the finals set as both Kan and Chua featured the less common move. Facade is a move that doubles in power when the user is afflicted by a status condition, and the choice to use this move was likely in anticipation of the popularity of Toxic which we saw Kan use to effectively wear down Chua’s team.

With these kinds of metagame adaptations, this team is quite powerful. Though Kan’s effective use of Toxic was able to clinch the final game, which is why I think this move deserves a bit more depth.

A metagame turned Toxic

Toxic.png

In the finals match, we saw just how important Toxic can be for getting much needed extra damage on any of your opponent’s Pokemon. Despite boosting the power of Facade, Kan’s use of Toxic ended up being the crucial way for Kan to deal with Chua’s boosting Snorlax, as well as the rest of his team.

With the metagame naturally becoming a lot slower and more defensive, using Toxic as a way to punish slower play is almost a necessity for a team at this stage in the metagame. So many common Pokemon like Arcanine and Porygon2 have access to Toxic, and definitely have a good reason to use it. Nick Navarre used Chansey as his team’s Toxic user, but Chansey’s slow, defensive play style was able to be brought down by…You guessed it. Toxic.

Toxic could be a great weapon or the ultimate downfall for more defensively built Pokemon heading into Worlds. Tapu Fini might shoot back up in popularity as Misty Terrain could be a go-to strategy to ensure Toxic doesn’t slowly wear down your team. Definitely a move to watch out for.

What we’ve learned

Don’t sleep on any region

Image result for australia

Despite being a region that looked to be slightly doomed by their lack of tournaments, Australia came to play in this International. Beyond Australia, Nils Dunlop’s stellar run put the small VGC nation of Sweden on the map, and his mission to improve his country’s competitive scene looks to be in full swing. Sebastian Escalante and Cesar Reyes were able to represent Latin America and also the lesser known North American Mexican scene as legitimate contenders with their performances. The US and Europe may be strong regions, but I don’t think we should be surprised to see any new countries make the Top Cut stage in Anaheim.

Tapu Koko is the best, and will remain on topImage result for tapu Koko

With 26 day two appearances and eight of them in the tTop 10 teams, it’s reasonable to conclude that Tapu Koko is the most consistent Island Guardian in VGC 2017. It’s speed, power and versatility make it so vital to a ton of strategies, including the previously mentioned “goodstuffs” archetype. Is there potential for any more unique Tapu Koko variants to pop into relevance in Anaheim? At this point, I think we’ve seen it all, but Tapu Koko is not one to be considered predictable by any means.

Toxic will be popular and prepared for

Like I said before, if Tapu Fini’s usage begins to dramatically rise again, you’ll know why. Toxic is a fantastic move for this new defensive stage of the format, but now the world has seen how effective it can be.

Final thoughts

Overall, the North American International Championships was the perfect tournament to transition into Worlds. The sheer amount of high level play brought out some of the most exciting Pokemon of the entire season. I highly recommend watching or re-watching a lot of the streamed matches from the tournament, as there is a lot to take away and a lot to enjoy as well. We saw both established and newer players to the big stage make a statement in Indianapolis, and I expect nothing less from Anaheim this August. Only this time, we’ll have an even bigger pool of players, nations and strategies to watch. It should be an exciting finish.

Thanks for reading!


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

Featured Image from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak

Other Image(s) from ishmam on deviantart

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

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

Results & Teams (Top 8)

Champion

Ootsubo Ryouta

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Runner Up 

Kimura Shouhei

Top 4

Nakagawa Gouki

Kinoshita Tohru

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Top 8

Amano Hikaru

Yonemura Takuya

Nakajima Teru

Yamane Souma

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A Popular Choice for Held Items    Image result for choice band

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

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

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

Niche Picks: Japan Edition

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

TsareenaImage result for tsareena

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

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

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

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

Lycanroc (Midday Forme)   Image result for lycanroc

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

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

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

Gengar Image result for gengar

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

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

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

Porygon-Z Image result for porygon-z

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

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

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

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

What This Means for The Western Metagame

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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!

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

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

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

1. Tapu Bulu

Pokemon North American International Championships

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Alolan Muk

Pokemon North American International Championships

 

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

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

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

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

3. Metagross

Pokemon North American International Championships

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

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

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

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

4. Buzzwole

Pokemon North American International Championships

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

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

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

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

5. Milotic

Pokemon North American International Championships

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

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

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

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

Only Scratching The Surface

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


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Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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

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

What Happened?

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

The Rules

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

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

The Debate

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

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

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

Sportsmanship and The Spirit of The Game 

spirit of the game pokemon

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

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

Some Things to Remember

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Rachel Annand

2. Lukas Muller

3. Matthias Sucholdulski

4. Jamie Dixon

5. Jamie Boyt

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/795.png

6. Matt Carter

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/212.png

7. Alex Gomez

Alola Form

8. Jason McCullough

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/773.png

A Balloon That Hasn’t DeflatedDrifblim

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

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

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

A 6-1 Missed Top Cut?

birmingham regionals top cut

(from @HamstermaniaVGC on Twitter)

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

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

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

Niche Picks

ScizorImage result for scizor

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

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

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

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

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

SilvallyImage result for silvally

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Thanks for reading!


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Featured Image from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak

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

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

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

Results & teams (top 8)

1. Andrew Nowak

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2. Zheyuan Huang

3. Terry Hong

4. Tyler Miller

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5. Jeremy Odena

6. Justin Carris

7. Samuel Haarsma

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8. Kazuki Kanehira

Is Tapu Bulu still bad?Image result for tapu bulu

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

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

How Drew Nowak made Tapu Bulu workImage result for nihilego

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

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

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

An all-Ultra Beast team?

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

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

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

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

Shiny Tapu Koko

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

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

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

Looking to Indy 

Image result for north america international championships pokemon

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

Thanks for reading!

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


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

All Images from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak

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