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

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

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

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1) Aaron Zheng

2) Conan Thompson

3) Max Douglas

4) Hayden McTavish

5) Alberto Lara

6) Jirawiwat Thitasiri

7) Nikolai Zielinkski

8) Bennett Piercy

Countering Drifblim & Tapu LeleImage result for gigalith

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

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

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

Highlight Analysis: Finals

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Niche Pick: SlowkingSlowking

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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Catching Pokérus – The Cure to Slow Training

A Different Kind of Flu

Pokerus tag

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

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

Catching the Virus

Nurse joy giving the pokerus news

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

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

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

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

Life After Pokérus

 

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

All images courtesy Game Freak

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Pokemon VGC’s Championship Point Dilemma

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

A Rundown of the Problem

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

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

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

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

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

See the problem here?

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

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

International Championships and the Best Finish Limit

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

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

Regional Favoritism

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

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

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

The Return of the LCQ?

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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Pokémon Best in Show – Unmasking Mimikyu

The Nightmare of Alola

The Pokémon VGC 2017 season rule set brought with it a plethora of bulky and slow Pokémon. This shifting of the speed curve has seen the rise of Trick Room tactics, as can be seen by the Porygon2 on almost every Trainers team. Do not let this fool you, however. While Porygon2 is a fantastic Trick Room setter and utility Pokémon, he is not the best of the format. That title goes to Mimikyu.

Once you get past Mimikyu’s frighteningly cute exterior, you will quickly realize the arsenal of tools and tricks it masks under its sheet. Whether it is scaring opponents with a Never-Ending Nightmare or constructing a Trick Room, when Mimikyu is summoned it must be dealt with.

Mimikyu Breakdown

Mimikyu stat chart

Image courtesy of Bulbapedia

Taking Mimikyu at face value, it seems like a somewhat underwhelming specimen. While its Ghost/Fairy typing leaves it with a single double-resistance to Bug, and three immunities to Normal, Fighting, and Dragon, its stats leave much to be desired.

Special defense it Mimikyu’s highest stat, boasting a base of 105. However, Mimikyu’s pitiful base HP of 55 means that it won’t have the staying power to take many hits regardless of how hard it tries. Rounding these out with an average 90 base Attack and 96 base Speed, and it is easy to see why Mimikyu can get overlooked.

Trainers who follow this line of surprise are in for a shock. Mimikyu makes its average stats absolutely workable by means of a great move pool and amazing ability. The combination of these two factors leads to a game winning machine.

Don’t be Fooled by the Disguise

What really makes Mimikyu such a versatile asset while team build is the tools it can bring to a team.

First is Mimikyu’s signature ability, Disguise, acts as a single-use substitute for Mimikyu. Basically, the first time Mimikyu would take damage during a battle, the damage nullified and the Disguise is broken. From that point on during the battle, Mimikyu can be damaged normally. Disguise does not prevent status effects.

Busted Mimikyu

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Disguise will basically give Mimikyu one free pass. This can allow it to do things such as set up Trick Room for its team or boost itself with a Sword’s Dance. It can also serve to give Mimikyu a free switch in. Whichever you choose to use Disguise, it is easy to see how effective this ability can be.

Moves to Die For

While focusing on Mimikyu’s Disguise can be tempting, forgetting about the moves it is packing can be deadly. Mimikyu is anything but a one-trick pony.

Here is a list of moves you can expect to encounter during the course of VGC17:

Offensive:

  • Play Rough – Physical Fairy STAB attack. Packing 90 Base Power and hitting most things for at least neutral damage. Play Rough’s only real drawback is its 90% accuracy rating.
  • Shadow Claw – Physical Ghost STAB attack. 70 Base Power and 100% accuracy makes it weaker, but more reliable than Play Rough. However, the two moves provide 100% neutral coverage.
  • Shadow Sneak – Priority Physical Ghost STAB attack. 40 Base Power and 100% accuracy. Shadow Sneak is good due to the fact it provides elevated priority.
  • Wood Hammer – High Power Physical Grass attack. While gaining no STAB, Wood Hammer provides a massive 120 Base Power at the expense of recoil damage.

Support:

  • Taunt – Prevents opponents from setting up. As well as shuts down status effect users, and protects. Great Trick Room counter.
  • Will-O-Wisp – Burns a Pokémon causing residual damage. Also lowers the opponent’s Attack, causing their physical damage to be lowered.
  • Trick Room – One of the greatest threats Mimikyu has on the right team. Reverses speed priority causing slower Pokémon to go first.
  • Swords Dance – Boost Attack stat by 2 levels. One Swords Dance will allow for immense pressure on the opposing team.
  • Thunder Wave – Paralyzes and reduces speed of opponent. Recent changes have reduced its accuracy to 90% however.
  • Curse – Causes massive residual damage to the opponent at the expense of 1/2 the user’s HP. Can be used to break walls.
  • Toxic – Applies poison damage that increases each turn. Another way to build residual damage and break walls.
  • Destiny Bond – Faints the opponent if Mimikyu faints. Paired with Ghostium Z, Z-Destiny Bond also takes on the redirection of Follow Me.
  • Protect – Standard VGC move

An Item for all Occasions

Depending on the moves Mimikyu runs, here are a few items you can expect it to be holding:

  • Ghostium Z – Dual use item. Use to either turn Shadow Claw/Sneak into Never-Ending Nightmare for serious damage. Otherwise, you can augment Destiny Bond to add the Follow Me effect.
  • Fairium Z – Used to turn Play Rough into Twinkle Tackle, providing Mimikyu with a great way to take out major threats.
  • Mental Herb – Heals effects such as Taunt and Encore. Especially effective on Trick Room builds as Mental Herb + Disguise can practically guarantee turn one Trick Room.
  • Focus Sash – Due to Disguise, Focus Sash isn’t as useful. On a Swords Dance variant, it can provide a second layer of protection to set up a sweep though.
  • Life Orb – Increase damage output and does damage to the user in return. Great item for a Swords Dance Mimikyu.

Whether you choose to run Mental Herb, or Ghostium Z, on your Trick Room Mimikyu, the options are plentiful. The ability to leave the opponents guessing is one of this Pokémon’s greatest assets.

Sample Builds

 

Mimikyu sprite

Mimikyu @ Ghostium Z
Ability: Disguise
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Trick Room
– Destiny Bond / Taunt
– Shadow Claw
– Play Rough

This is standard Trick Room support. Disguise works to give Mimikyu the leeway to make things happen on the first turn. Trick Room is used to give your team an advantage against faster opponents. While Destiny Bond or Taunt are taken depending on Mimikyu’s partners. Shadow Claw and Play Rough are just there for offense once supporting is done.

With Ghostium Z, the Destiny Bond variant can become particularly deadly. Using Ghostium Z will give the trainer an option to either launch a devastating Never-Ending Nightmare. Otherwise, they can power-up Destiny Bond. Adding a Follow Me effect to Destiny Bond, thereby allowing Mimikyu to redirect opponents and allow its partner to set up.

Mimikyu sprite

Mimikyu @ Ghostium Z / Fairium Z / Life Orb
Ability: Disguise
Level: 50
EVs:  252 Atk / 4SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly / Adamant Nature
– Swords Dance
– Shadow Sneak / Protect
– Shadow Claw
– Play Rough

Hyper offensive Mimikyu variant. The simple goal of this set is to use the safety of Disguise to boost with Swords Dance. If successful, Mimikyu can become a force to be reckoned with. There are few Pokémon in the VGC meta game that can take a +2 Twinkle Tackle.

With Mimikyu, You Can

No matter if you need an offensive pivot, a reliable Trick Room setter, or a supplementary support, Mimikyu has you covered. This is the Pokémon to consider if your team is missing that extra oomph. Whatever you do though, don’t look under its sheet.

Pokemon Mimikyu jump out

Image courtesy of Game Freak

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Play pokemon vgc logo

Three Interesting Stats Halfway Through the 2017 Pokémon VGC Season

A Plethora of Pokémon

Half way through the season and one thing is certain, no meta has developed. Having completed nine events so far, VGC 17 has yet to see a single team reign supreme. Due to this, some 25 Pokémon have found their niche and appeared on the winner’s pedestal during the course of these nine events.

Pokemon who have placed first vgc 2017

Though no core of Pokémon has risen to dominance yet, one core has seen more play than any other. The AFK core, consisting of Arcanine, Tapu Fini, and Kartana, has been popular; but thus far it has only finished first in one out of nine major events, piloted to victory by the great Markus Stadter during the Dreamhack Regionals in Germany.

World Class Trainers

Even though there are still four months to go until the Pokémon VGC World Championship, 23 Trainers have already qualified for an invitation.

VGC 2017 Pokemon Standings

These are the trainers lucky enough to have earned enough Championship Points for an invitation so far. Will one of these 23 be the very best? Only time will tell.

Trainers still have time considering there are still two International Championships, as well as a plethora of Regionals and other smaller events to go. Names like Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, and Gary Qian, still have time to claim an invite.

Going Against the Grain

2017 is the year of the Tapu and Ultra Beast. Introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon, these creatures are incredibly powerful. It is no surprise then, that they have appeared on every winning team of a major VGC tournament. Every winning team except for two.

Image of Gavin Michaels

Gavin Michaels Second from the left | Image courtesy of @komvgc

Those two teams belonged to the same Trainer, Gavin Michaels. Gavin was able to claim victory in both California Regionals during the winter matches. Winning both tournaments without use of either a Tapu or an Ultra Beast. Truly a feat to watch.

All images courtesy of Game Freak

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A Magnezone Mirror Match Finale! – VGC 2017 Sheffield Regional Championships Recap

Our second piece of Pokemon VGC regional coverage comes from Sheffield, UK. Like Collinsville in the US, it was given an official Pokémon stream. The exciting Top Cut came down to a Spanish mirror match between Alex Gomez and Albert Bos who featured identical unique teams. Getting to see this team go against itself made for a great final set. Before we break it down, let’s see the rest of the teams from Sheffield’s Top Cut.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Albert Bos

2. Alex Gomez

3. Javier Senorena

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/89-1.png

4. Daniel Nolan

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

5. Daniel Oztekin

6. Rob Akershoek

Alola Formhttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/778.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/143.png

7. Alessio Yuri Boschetto

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/630.png

8. Andrea Ciccone

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/143.png

Finals Mirror Match: The Breakdown

Here’s a link to watch the Finals.

Slow Mode

Anyone who watched Game 1 of this set saw how little Nihilego was able to accomplish in the face of the slower and bulkier Pokémon. Games 2 & 3 concentrated mainly on the slow aspect of the team, with both players leaving Nihilego and Tapu Bulu on the bench. Trick Room wasn’t used nearly as much as one would expect, seeing both of these teams; but the theme of this match was positioning, and Trick Room was a clutch aspect for setting up Araquanid.

Positioning: Competing Substitutes, Intimidate, and Trick Room

Arcanine Image result for arcanine

Arcanine’s main purpose in this set was to Intimidate the opposing Arcanine so that Magnezone was able to safely set up a Substitute. The Arcanine, assuming they were similar, were built more for support rather than offense. Alex’s used Helping Hand to assist his Magnezone, and both utilized Snarl to weaken each other’s Magnezone.

Magnezone Image result for magnezone

Magnezone getting up Substitute was a primary objective for both players in the early game. In Game 1, Alex showed how important this was to the match-up. Albert adjusted and was able to use this strategy to take the next two games. Although Magnezone being behind a Substitute seemed like a huge advantage for either player, Arcanine’s Snarl was a factor in complicating this strategy (as Snarl is able to bypass Substitute).

Araquanid Cleaning UpImage result for araquanid png

In the first two games, Araquanid didn’t really make an impact. However, Game 3 was able to show how much of a threat it was. There was a moment where Alex’s Porygon2 set up Trick Room to which Albert’s Araquanid took complete advantage of. After scoring a huge Hydro Vortex on Alex’s Porygon2 upon switch-in, Albert’s Araquanid was in position to easily clean up the rest of Alex’s team after having the Trick Room set up.

The Niche Picks

Since the meta game has kind of leveled, here’s an abbreviated entry to The Niche Picks.

Alolan PersianImage result for alolan persian png

Everyone’s least favorite Alolan form made its way into a regional Top Cut again. This time, it’s thanks to Rob Akershoek, who we saw three times on stream. Rob’s team was built to support Snorlax, which Persian is able to do nicely with access to moves like Fake Out, Parting Shot, and Snarl to weaken the opponent’s team and boost Snorlax’s bulk. Persian is also a bit defensive with access to the Fur Coat ability, so players using Persian usually opt for a 50% HP healing berry to increase its time on the field.

Tapu Bulu Image result for tapu bulu png

Tapu Bulu finally won a tournament, which could mean a potential comeback for the forgotten deity. It does well against its Tapu brethren, as it can interrupt opposing Terrain while also having a type advantage against Tapu Fini. There’s also a smaller amount of Poison-type moves in the meta game now that Garchomp have forgone Posion Jab. However Tapu Bulu still struggles with the popular Arcanine. Alex and Albert’s Trick Room-based team could be a good fit for Tapu Bulu, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see future Top Cuts consistently have all four Tapus present.

Final Thoughts

It was nice to see another non-US Pokemon VGC regional have an official stream, and Sheffield did not disappoint. The European meta can be rather unique which is evident by the team that managed to make it to the finals twice. We have another action-packed weekend coming up in Melbourne for the 2017 season’s second International Championship. It should be an exciting tournament with a ton of big names to look out for, but make sure to check back here for a full recap of the action! Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokemon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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Pokemon togedemaru steals the show

Pokémon VGC 2017 Collinsville Regional Wraps Up – Alex Underhill Takes First, Togedemaru Steals Show

Farewell Collinsville

Competition wrapped up this weekend at the Pokémon VGC Collinsville Regional tournament, and fans were not disappointed. Around 300 Trainers showed up for their chance at walking away with $3,000 cash, and Championship Points towards entrance to the World Championship. While many Trainers competed, only one proved he had what it took to be a champion. Alex Underhill marveled the crowd as he battled his way to his first major VGC victory.

Alex Underhill using Togedemaru to win Collinsville regionals Pokemon

Image courtesy of @LexiconVGC

Alex combined offensive pressure from Gyarados and Arcanine, with Celesteela’s stalling ability. To top it off, Alex’s centerpiece was his Togedemaru, a little steel mouse capable of unnerving foes with its shocking tactics. Throughout the entirety of the tournament, Alex impressed the crowd with the expert use of his Togedemaru. Whether it was faking out opposing Tapu Koko, or Encoring Kartana into repetitive sword dancing. Alex was nothing short of fun to watch.

Togedemaru Wasn’t the Only Interesting Trend

Pokémon Togedemaru

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Togedemaru may have Zing Zapped his way into the fan’s hearts with his shocking display, but there was another interesting trend occurring. Teams running Tapu Lele and Drifblim were on full display in Collinsville this weekend. In fact, four of the top ten teams ran the combo. If this sounds familiar, it should be. This is because Tapu Lele and Drifblim are the pair Shoma used to claim victory in the recent ONOG Pokémon Invitational.

Watching the impact Shoma’s play had on many of the Trainers was an interesting thing to see. Even the second place finisher, Justin Berns, was using Tapu Fini and Drifblim. However, the disruption caused by Togedemaru’s antics just proved too much to overcome. After three full rounds, Justin found himself yielding victory to Alex when the final match came down to Snorlax versus Celesteela.

See You Down Under

melbourne australia for pokemon international

Image courtesy of Australia.com

The next major Pokémon VGC event will be the International Championship in Melbourne Australia. This will be the second in a series of four tournaments in the brand new International Championship Series. With a massive Championship point payout and open admittance to all Trainers worldwide, International Championship Series tournaments promise to bring a large crowd of talented Pokémon Trainers.

Scheduled to begin March 10th, the tournament will run until March 12th. Make sure to keep an eye out for new strategies. Will Porygon2 still be a staple? Could Togedemaru be a surprise VIP? Maybe Evoboost Eevee will take the cake. If nothing else, the VGC 2017 season certainly has been dynamic. See you in Melbourne!

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pokemon vgc regional logo

Collinsville Regional Pokémon Tournament Promises to Entertain This Weekend

Collinsville is Set to Impress

Collinsville Pokemon vgc regional ready to go

February is over and the weather is starting to heat up. So too are the Pokémon VGC tournaments. This weekend is the latest installment in the 2017 Regional series. This match is scheduled to take place in Collinsville, Illinois, 10 miles outside of St. Louis, Missouri.

Registration for the tournament closed yesterday and organizers are saying the turnout should be amazing. With only a limited number of events left before the World Championship, many aspiring Trainers are scrambling to collect Championship Points and win a spot at Worlds.

Things to Look Out For

As we move deeper into the season, there are some key things to keep an eye on. Understanding how the meta is settling is one of the most important factors moving into the second half of the season. A great example of this is VGC 15, where an amazingly diverse pool of Pokémon were suddenly upset by the rise of CHALK.

sprite of porygon2 to be used to collinsville regionalFor one, there is Porygon2. This guy has been a staple of a huge majority of VGC 17 teams up to this point. Will he dominate the regional tournament? It seems likely considering Gavin Michael’s success with hard Trick Room teams.

Then there is Tapu Fini. After a slow start, Fini has slowly become a VGC favorite. Combining her excellent bulk and ability to nullify status effects, with a strong answer to the likes of Arcanine. Can Fini continue a strong showing, or is a new Tapu ready to claim the top spot?

Shoma's team, will it be replicated at collinsville regional

Finally, what impact, if any, will Shoma’s victory at the recent ONOG Invitational have on the metagame. Up to this point, the de facto strategy has been speed control in the form of Trick Room. Shoma proved that there is another way to be successful however, and it will be interesting to see if any trainers have any luck mimicking him at the regionals.

Tune In This Weekend

Site of Collinsville VGC Pokemon regional

Image courtesy of gatewaycenter.com

With the ONOG Invitational’s fiery conclusion in recent memory, the Collinsville regional has a lot to live up to. Matches will be streamed on Pokémon’s tournament site, and luck has it that Collinsville has done a great job with its streams in the past.

Masters Division will begin play around 11:00 am, Saturday morning. Following that, on Sunday at 10:30 am, the Top Cut will take to the field and compete for a winner. Up to $50,000 will be on the line, so everyone is sure to do their best. Make sure to check it out!

All images courtesy of Game Freak unless otherwise noted

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ONOG Invitational – GEICOGaming Puts Its Weight Behind Pokémon VGC

Come One Come All

GEICOGaming ONOG Invitational Lineup

Image courtesy of GEICOGaming

This weekend marked a great day for competitive Pokémon and the VGC. GEICOGaming and One Nation of Gamers brought together eight of the world’s top trainers for a spectacular invitational tournament.

Breaking the eight trainers into groups of four, the initial group play round was double elimination. Trainers competed in best of three format for group play. The four trainers to emerge from group play victorious would move onto semi-finals and finals. In these rounds, trainers competed in best of five, single elimination to ultimately crown a champion.

GEICOGaming sponsored the tournament, covering both the cost of the event along with the $1,000 prize pool. The competitive Pokémon scene has seen few sponsored events, so a major sponsor like GEICO is a promising sign. Given enough success, GEICO may seek further sponsorship of VGC events. Such an occurrence would only bode well for the VGC.

More than Just Saving You Money

GEICOGaming logo tournament

Image courtesy of GEICOGaming

Started in 2015, GEICOGaming was created by the insurance company GEICO Insurance. Driven by a passion for digital offerings, GEICO found a natural ally in the online gaming community. This then lead to the formation of GEICOGaming and hosting various Hearthstone tournaments, such of the ONOG circuit and championship at PAX.

Fast forward two years and GEICOGaming is the leading force in the fast growing world of esports. Not only do they continue to host Hearthstone events, but GECIOGaming has gone on to sponsor two successful esports teams, Team SoloMid and Panda Global.

A Sponsor, a Shiny Hunter, and a Spotlight

For the VGC, this is a great moment. GEICOGaming has provided the format with a platform that it did not have. Combining an expertly crafted broadcast experience, with the esports exposure their clout brings, something magical is happening; people are starting to see how amazing competitive Pokémon can be.

Kotaku even got in on the excitement, publishing an article on Sunday covering some of the drama of the tournament. In an expertly written piece by Jason Krell, the perseverance of Shiny Pokémon Hunter, Dan “aDrive Clap”, can be witnessed as he overcomes two of the VGC’s most prolific talents. In his piece, Jason documents aDrive’s start as a streamer and singles trainer, and walks through his day one invitational victories.

These are the memories that will resonate with the community and go on to last more than just a season. You can even imagine the aspiring trainers watching the stream on twitch thinking, “If he can do it, I can totally do it!” Moving forward, competitive Pokémon needs more of these moments. Finally, Pokémon could have a chance to go from a blip on the radar, to a dominate esport in the fast growing industry.

Doing Your Part

Now with the tournament concluded and the team reports being published, it is easy to think the moment has come and gone. However, that is the wrong attitude to have. If you wish to see competitive Pokémon continue to grow with events like this, now is the time to act. Once you’ve done that, let GEICOGaming know what you thought and how much you appreciated them getting behind this event.

If you haven’t already, follow @GEICOGaming and @ONOGesports on twitter. Once you’ve done that, let them know you want them to keep supporting the VGC. Maybe Game Freak and The Pokémon Company will even take notice and address the aspirations of the competitive Pokémon community.

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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pokemon regional championship banner

Winter Regional Diversity – A Look Back at the Last Three Years of VGC

Diversity of the VGC

Each year Game Freak changes up the rules that govern the VGC. With the release of Pokémon Sun & Moon, for example, only Pokémon who can be captured in the Alola region are allowed to be used.

As the metagame develops through the season, sometimes the Pokémon lineups that emerge victorious from the countless tournaments can be varied and unique. However, sometimes the rule-set Game Freak rolls out leaves the meta with little wiggle-room for unique teambuilding. The lack of diversity in the VGC is an often cited complaint for the format. Unofficial formats such as Smogon have even formed to try to solve some of these issues.

So how is the VGC 2017 season stacking up compared to previous seasons? Taking a look at five winning teams from the Winter Regionals of the last three seasons, we can see how the meta is developing.

VGC 2017 Winter Regional Champions

VGC 2017 is unique due to the fact it is restricted to a regional Pokédex, in this case the Alola-dex. This generally only happens when Game Freak releases a whole new generation of Pokémon games to their fans.

Regional dex restrictions can be a mixed bag. Sometimes fan favorite Pokémon are left out, or a poorly balanced Pokémon makes its way into the mix. The one thing that is certain in these instances, however, is there is always an air of mystery as the season progresses.

Let’s take a look at the five Champion teams from the 2017 Winter Regionals.

San Jose, California Regional

Gavin Michaels –

sprite of porygon2sprite of haryanamimikyuAraquanidDrama

 

 

 

Dallas Regionals 

Andrew Nowak –

tap kokokartanaSalamencemudsdale

 

 

 

Georgia Regionals 

Paul Chua –

tap kokokartanaarcanine  muk-alola

 

 

DreamHack Leipzig Germany Regional

Markus Stadter –

tap finekartanaarcaninegar chompmandibuzzsnorlax

 

 

 

Anaheim, California Regional

Gavin Michaels –
mimikyu sprite of haryana snorlax

 

 

VGC 17 Pokemon

Number of times used

Porygon2

4

Araquanid

4

Kartana

3

Magnezone

2

Hariyama

2

Mimikyu

2

Tapu Koko

2

Arcanine

2

Snorlax

2

Drampa

1

Salamance

1

Mudsdale

1

Muk-Alola

1

Tapu FIni

1

Garchomp

1

Mandibuzz

1

With 30 potential slots, only 16 unique Pokémon appeared on these five winning teams. Seven Pokémon had a unique one-time appearance.

Porygon2 and Araquanid come in as the most used Pokémon, with four appearances each. Porygon2’s usage is not surprising at all. Eviolite bulk, combined with a decent move pool and Trick Room support, see Porygon2 as a staple of the VGC 2017 season. Araquanid packs a punch, and becomes a real threat when Trick Room is up.

VGC 2016 Winter Regional Champions

VGC 2016 flipped the rules of competitive Pokémon on its head. Trainers were allowed to include two super powerful Pokémon from a list of what was called “Restricted Pokémon”.

Pokémon such as Groudon, Xerneas, and Kyogre finally had a chance to make an appearance on the MainStage, and they did not disappoint.

Virginia Regional 

Paul Chua –

kangaskhanSalamence regional championgroudonxerneastalonflame regional championsmeargle

 

 

 

Collinsville Regional 

Andrew Nowak –

kangaskhanSalamencekyogre regional championxerneasthundurusscizor

 

 

 

Anaheim Regional 

Aaron Zheng –

Salamencemawilegroudonkyogrebronzongsmeargle

 

 

 

Florida Regional 

Wolfe Glick –

Salamencedialgakyogrelandorusthundurusferrothorn

 

 

 

Oregon Regional 

Randy Kwa –

Salamencegroudonxerneastalonflamesmeargleespeon

 

 

 

VGC 16 Pokemon

Number of times used

Salamence

5

Groudon

3

Xerneas

3

Smeargle

3

Kyogre

3

Kangaskhan

2

Talonflame

2

Thundurus

2

Scizor

1

Mawile

1

Bronzong

1

Dialga

1

Landorus

1

Ferrothorn

1

Espeon

1

Only 15 Pokémon filled the 30 team slots for the 2016 season. Not really surprising considering a third of each Trainer’s teams were picked from a very short list.

What is surprising though is how similar the number of unique winning Pokémon from the Winter Regionals of 2016 & 2017 are. Considering the major difference in rule-sets, it is incredible to see that the overall variety of winning Pokémon didn’t change so much.

VGC 2015 Winter Regional Champions

Oh 2015, what a great season to be a competitive Pokémon fan. Following the regional dex restriction of the 2014 season, VGC 2015 opened up the playing field to all Pokémon, other than those considered restricted.

Many remember 2015 for its diversity, but was the Winter Regional season really more diverse than 2016 and 2017?

VGC 2015

Missouri Regional 

Aaron Traylor –

kangaskhan regionalbisharp regionalconkeldurr regionalclefableheat ranlandorus

 

 

 

California Regional

Alberto Lara –

kangaskhan regionalSalamencerotomsylveonferrothorn regional championlandorus

 

 

 

Virginia Regional

Karl Concepcion

mawilevenusaurchandeluresprite of haryanacresseliabisharp

 

 

 

Oregon Regional

Conan Thompson –

SalamenceterrakionaegislashWeavilecresseliathundurus

 

 

 

Florida Regional Championship

Wolfe Glick –

Banetterotomlandorusheat ranscrafty

 

 

VGC 15 Pokemon

Number of times used

Landorus

3

Kangaskhan

2

Bisharp

2

Heatran

2

Salamence

2

Rotom-W

2

Venasaur

2

Cresselia

2

Conkeldurr

1

Clefable

1

Sylveon

1

Ferrothorn

1

Mawile

1

Chandelure

1

Terrakion

1

Aegislash

1

Weavile

1

Thundurus

1

Banette

1

Scrafty

1

20 original Pokémon showed up in our five Winter Regional Winners of 2015. Top that off with the fact that a single Pokémon showed up three times or more, and a shocking 12 Pokémon showed up once.

VGC 2015 really did shake things up and give Trainers a unique and fun metagame. While 2017 is not nearly as stale as 2016 ended up being, it does not seem to be shaking it up like 2015.

On the Way to Worlds

We are marching closer and closer to the 2017 World Championship, and it will be interesting to see how the meta continues to develop. Will Porygon2 ever fall out of lineups? Are Tapu and Ultra Beasts really as powerful as they seemed at first glance?

One thing is certain right now though, Trick Room is the defacto 2017 strategy to beat, and Gavin Michaels seems to be piloting it with precision. It really makes you wonder what Worlds has in store for us this year.

All images courtesy of Game Freak

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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 Drew!

 

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