pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

The first ever VGC 2018 tournament: Rutgers Fireside Open recap

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

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Stephen Mea

2. Chuppa Cross

3. Paul Chua

4. Mihrab Samad

5. Bryan Tong

6. Irving Johnson

7. Will Vega

8. Steven Lasso

Rain reigns supremepolitoed pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured Image from @aProjectCypher on Twitter

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

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pokemon vgc 2018 san jose regional championships

VGC 2018 San Jose Regional Championships recap

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

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Jirawiwat Thitasiri

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2. Emilio Forbes

3. Rene Alvarenga

4. Matthew Greaves

f:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221113p:plainAlola Form

5. Karim Dabliz

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6. Patrick Smith

7. Mitchell Davies

Alola Form

8. Sam Pandelis

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

International impact

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

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

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

Travel awards decided

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

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

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

Just like old times

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

pokemon vgc 2018 europe international championships

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

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

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Simone Sanvito [ITA]

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2. Alex Gomez [ESP]

3. Carson Confer [USA]

4. Davide Cauteruccio [ITA]

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5. Lorenzo Semeraro [ITA]

6. Jamie Dixon [GBR]

7. Davide Carrer [ITA]

8. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]

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Simone silences the haters (himself)

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

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

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

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

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

Italy’s invasion

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

 

Alex Gomez brings back Magnezonemagnezone pokemon vgc 2018 european international championships

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

pokemon vgc 2018 vancouver regionals

VGC 2018 Vancouver Regional Championships recap

River Davis is your 2018 Vancouver Regional Champion, making it all the way with quite the interesting team. Tapu Bulu has another regional win under its belt, but a newcomer to the upper echelon of the VGC 2017 format is none other than Slowking. Vancouver had a fair amount of inventive strategies make it to the Top Cut, which you’ll hear all about shortly.

Results and Teams (Top 8)

1. River Davis

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/199.pngAlola Form

2. Demitrios Kaguras

3. Aaron Zheng

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/373.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/547.png

4. Greg Rowson

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5. Hayden McTavish

6. Riley Factura

7. Justin Wan

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8. Gary Qian

Some new faces for Trick Roomalolan exeggutor pokemon vgc 2018 vancouver regionals

Two of the most interesting Pokemon from Vancouver’s Top 8 are both viable options for Trick Room setters.

Let’s start with River Davis’ Slowking. Slowking is a Pokemon we didn’t at all in Davis’ Top Cut matches, but we did see what it could do during Davis’ streamed match against Raphael Bagara. Slowking works pretty well with Snorlax, being able to set up Trick Room and recover Snorlax’s lost HP with Heal Pulse. Slowking itself has a surprisingly diverse movepool, being able to run both a Fire-type and Water-type attack along with support options. Its typing isn’t the greatest on the defensive side, as bulky Water-types haven’t been as popular with the rise of Tapu Koko and Kartana. Luckily, Davis packed Flamethrower on his Slowking’s moveset and an Alolan Marowak on his team to help this niche Pokemon with its bad matchups.

Gary Qian is a player known for his weird strategies, and this tournament was no different. Alolan Exeggutor was Qian’s newest unconventional Pokemon that, unfortunately, did not do a whole lot on stream. What we know about this particular Exeggutor is that is was a physical variant using Wood Hammer as its main means of damage output, but said damage output was not the greatest. Alolan Exeggutor’s defensive typing is kind of bad, and its defensive stats don’t do much to help it either. As a result, we often saw quick KO’s on Qian’s Exeggutor thanks to Draco Meteor and Dazzling Gleam from Salamence and Tapu Koko respectively. One thing that Exeggutor does have going for it is its Harvest ability which can let it eat possibly two Sitrus Berries in one turn. Too bad that extra health does little to stop the onslaught of super-effective damage Exeggutor is forced to take.

One-miss-KO moves everywheregastrodon pokemon vgc 2018 vancouver regionals

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many one-hit-KO moves make it to the Top Cut before. Gary Qian had a Gastrodon with the move Fissure, though in his defense, the Tectonic Rage that Gastrodon gets because of Fissure is Gastrodon’s only means of a strong Ground-type move in this format.

Justin Wan’s team, on the other hand, had two one-hit-KO moves that had little logic backing them. Wan’s Alolan Ninetales carried Sheer Cold on its move set while his Smeargle had the move Guillotine. Both can KO any Pokemon in one hit but both are only accurate 30% of the time.

Fun fact, we saw none of these moves hit in every stream game that involved either one of these players. I wish I knew how many times off-camera either Qian or Wan managed to hit one of these moves. I guess we’ll never know.

Wait, is that Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng?

pokemon vgc 2018 vancouver regionals

Zheng posing with his favorite Pikachu and his semi-finalist trophy. (Image credit to @CybertronVGC on Twitter)

Turns out Aaron Zheng hasn’t left his competing days completely behind him, as he scored an impressive third-place finish in Vancouver. Zheng was actually using a team very similar to one his younger brother used to place in the Top 16 at the Hartford Regional Championships just a couple weeks ago. At this rate, we might end up seeing both Zheng brothers in the Masters division of the World Championships this year, as both are having solid starts to their seasons.

Ray Rizzo – #StopatNothing – Part 2

pokemon vgc 2018 vancouver regionals

(Image credit to @P_dOnZ on Twitter)

Ray Rizzo was in attendance at Vancouver, scoring another X-2 finish in the Top 16. Rizzo has yet to make the Top Cut at a regional this season, but something tells me he’s not very far off. If you watch his YouTube or Twitch content, you can see that he’s putting in the work, and one of these days it’ll pay off.

Final Thoughts

Well, it looks like we don’t have any big tournaments on the horizon for about a month, but next month will be a huge one. Not only will we have the San Jose Regional Championships, but we also the London International Championships AND the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. We have a big month ahead of us and we’re quickly approaching the change to the VGC 2018 format coming this January. But for now, VGC 2017 is still our format, and we’ve still got a lot of exciting battles left.

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured Image credit to @blckkkkkk on Twitter

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

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

pokemon vgc 2018 daytona regionals

Eevee finally wins a regional: VGC 2018 Daytona Regional Championships recap

Jeremy Rodrigues has done what no other Eevee player has been able to do; he won a regional with Eevee. With his third straight regional Top Cut appearance, Rodrigues not only claimed Eevee’s first major tournament win, but he also became the second North American player to clinch his invite to the 2018 World Championships. We’ve got a lot to say about Eevee, but let’s take a look at the results from Daytona.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Jeremy Rodrigues

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/133.pngf:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221443p:plainhttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/547.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/196.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/553.png

2. Alberto Lara

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3. Don Czech

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4. Sandy Martinez

5. Carson Confer

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6. James Baek

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7. Ryan Rivard

8. Emily Golub

Eevee’s Top 8 Run

pokemon vgc 2018 daytona regionals

Starting out Top Cut at the 8th seed meant Rodrigues’ trip to the finals would not be an easy one. Eevee started its run versus former Senior world champion and 7-0 first seed: Carson Confer. This matchup was tricky considering Confer’s team had the immense offensive pressure of Tapu Koko and Kartana which Confer lead every single game. The set went to three games, with Confer taking Game 1 and Rodrigues taking Game 2. Game 3 was interesting as Rodrigues adjusted and brought Krookodile over Espeon. Krookodile revealed Substitute which led to intense mind games between Krookodile and Confer’s Kartana as each struggled to gain the Substitute advantage. Ultimately, Krookodile came out on top and was able to spam Earthquake to win the set.

Rodrigues’ Top 4 match ended in a pretty quick 2-0 as Eevee was just too much for Sandy Martinez.

In the finals, Rodrigues had the biggest and most difficult match ahead of him. Alberto Lara, having won a regional the week before in Hartford and having previously beaten Rodrigues in Swiss the day prior.

Alberto Lara’s Repeat halted by Eevee

Alberto Lara’s story line for this tournament was quite interesting as

pokemon vgc 2018 daytona regionals

Alberto Lara’s Mimikyu was a huge threat to Rodrigues’ team. Playing around this scary Pokemon was key for Rodrigues’ victory.

well. His dominant run nearly earned him a second regional victory in a consecutive week, but unfortunately, Eevee stood in his way.

Game 1 went Rodrigues’ way as Eevee easily set up Espeon allowing for Smeargle in the back to Transform in to the boosted monster. Alberto was able to take down the real Espeon, but the transformed Smeargle just proved too much to handle.

Game 2 was Lara’s. Lara was able to use his two best techs to win this matchup: Sky Drop and a Swords Dancing Mimikyu. This game didn’t last very long. As soon as Eevee dropped to a hit from Lara’s boosted Mimikyu, Rodrigues quickly forfeited the game.

Game 3 was another clutch adjustment from Rodrigues as he, yet again, brought Krookodile over his trusty Espeon. Another newcomer was Whimsicott, who was able to Taunt Lara’s Mimikyu, stopping it from setting up those crucial Swords Dances. Not only that, but Whimsicott was able to make itself useful once again as it used Fling to flinch Lara’s Mimikyu allowing Eevee to free itself from Sky Drop and set up. Lara’s lack of Ground resists really hurt him here as Krookodile was able to freely set up a Substitute and freely click Power Trip and Earthquake to clean up the game.

Despite not being able to close out a second regional win, Alberto Lara’s snowball has been rolling for a while now. He’s  already qualified for Worlds, but he’s certainly not done yet.

Eevee is a Best-of-Three team?

Rodrigues’ post-match interview brought up a few interesting points about what playing an Eevee team is like. First off, Rodrigues went into every single one of his matches knowing that his opponents knew exactly what his team did. He had a few unconventional moves here and there, but for the most part, each of his opponents knew exactly what he was planning.

The thing is, Rodrigues didn’t seem to mind. He mentioned that Eevee has very few “auto-loss” matchups which usually involves uncommon moves like Perish Song and combinations of moves that remove stat boosts. Rodrigues claims that most players who have one or two techs for the Eevee matchup don’t actually have as easy of a win as they think. As we saw, Rodrigues’ play put his Eevee play at a whole new level, and I believe that his skill as a player is what won him this tournament.

Perhaps the most controversial claim he made, was that Eevee was not a best-of-one team. In best-of-one play, there are a lot of things you cannot afford to assume about the opponent’s team. One example that Rodrigues brought up is that he’s not able to play around an opposing Tapu Fini having Haze so he’s almost forced to go for the Extreme Evoboost regardless of his assumptions about his opponent’s potential Eevee techs. In best-of-three however, if he sees that his opponent has a move like Haze, he can easily play around it in Games 2 and 3.

Final Thoughts

So now what? Am I gonna face Eevee in every single tournament I go to now? To be honest, a lot of players voiced their frustrations on the growing popularity of Sun teams and now Eevee teams. Realistically, there are still a lot of Eevee haters out there and definitely a lot of inexperienced Eevee players, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

Still, Rodrigues’ win is monumental for the Eevee team archetype, and after nearly 11 months of the VGC 2017 format, Eevee finally has a major win.

Bottom Line: Jeremy Rodrigues proved all of the Eevee haters wrong. It is a team that can win.

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured image credit to CriticalHitGG

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

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

vgc 2018 bilbao special event

A truly special tournament: VGC 2018 Bilbao Special Event recap

Piotr Kedziora takes the first Special Event of the 2018 season, upsetting many of Europe’s best in his Top 8 run. The Special Events are new additions to the VGC circuit as extra events that award regional-level Championship points. Kedziora came to represent his home nation of Ireland, which despite being a relatively small VGC power, is already well on their way to sending one of their own to the 2018 World Championships.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Piotr Kedziora [IRE]

2. Eduardo Cunha [POR]

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3. Arash Ommati [ITA]

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4. Leonardo Bonanomi [ITA]

5. Alessio Vinciguerra [ITA]

6. Eric Rios [ESP]

7. Barry Anderson [GBR]

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8. Ruben Pereira [POR]

Top Cut Team Highlights

There were a plethora of interesting teams and Pokemon in Bilbao’s Top Cut, and I’d like to start with the champion’s team.

vgc 2018 bilbao special event

Piotr Kedziora’s team is nothing new to post-Worlds VGC players, as it has been picking up popularity to the point where it appeared twice in Bilbao’s Top Cut. Tapu Lele seems to be on the rise since Sam Pandelis used it to make it to the finals of the 2017 World Championships, and the supporting duo of Garchomp and Celesteela is another popular combo that pairs very well with Tapu Lele. Alolan Muk is a surprisingly good Pokemon in the metagame right now. Knock Off plus the immense Poison-type damage Muk threatens with Gunk Shot is a deadly combination with all of the teams that rely on their Tapu and their items. Muk is a Pokemon I could see picking up more usage before the end of the 2017 format.

vgc 2018 bilbao special eventRunner-up Eduardo Cunha’s take on the classic double Tapu, Arcanine, Kartana, Porygon2 and *insert Trick Room attacker here* team archetype was far from standard. Cunha’s Tapu Fini played a hybrid of an attacker and a support Pokemon, being able to utilize both of its types offensively but also having access to Haze and Light Screen. Cunha opted for Mudsdale as his Trick Room attacker/Ground-type, and it was clutch in nearly all of his Top Cut matches. This Mudsdale decided against the popular Assault Vest item in favor of a pinch berry and the option to protect itself. This was an intelligent choice from Cunha, as many players will immediately see Mudsdale as a threat, and having access to Protect likely discouraged double targets into it.

vgc 2018 bilbao special event

Finally, I’d like to examine Barry Anderson’s and Ruben Pereira’s take on the Tailwind+Tapu Lele archetype. Anderson opted for a Fightinium Z Kartana with Swords Dance which likely claimed many KO’s on unsuspecting Porygon2’s looking to set up Trick Room. Pereira’s use of Magnezone was a great call for this tournament, even managing to rattle 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati in their Top 8 set. Ommati, being one of Europe’s top players, was able to beat Magnezone despite its great matchup.

Speaking of Arash Ommati…

Early Consistency

vgc 2018 bilbao special event

Ommati celebrating his 7-0 start in Bilbao. Image credit to @Mean_vgc on Twitter (aka Arash Ommati’s Twitter)

Despite a lacking performance in Anaheim, Arash Ommati has made it to the Top Cut in every major European tournament in the 2018 season. Sitting comfortably at 525 Championship Points, Arash has almost double the amount needed for European Worlds invite and is currently number one in the world in the Championship Point standings.

If there’s anyone doing World Champion Ryota Otsubo’s team proud, it’s Ommati. While not the exact same team, the elements of Otsubo’s team are there in Ommati’s. The Whimsicott is able to set up Tailwind so Tapu Fini and Garchomp are able to start racking up KO’s, while Celesteela is a perfect defensive pivot for the team.

It’s unlikely that Ommati will deviate from this team for the remainder of the season, but once 2018 rolls around, he’ll be forced to change things up. You have to commend his unbelievable run so far in this very young season.

Meet the New Caster!

vgc 2018 bilbao special event

Labhaosia Cromie (pictured to the far right) waves to the camera with her fellow VGC casters. Image credit to @OneHitKayOh on Twitter

Labhaoisa Cromie recently joined the European commentary team with Bilbao as her inaugural event. Her existing chemistry with the rest of the returning cast definitely showed, and I think she did a great job in balancing analysis with play-by-play commentary. It’s always great seeing new commentators every now and again, and I’m sure she’ll be brought back on for London Internationals next month.

Final Thoughts

There have been a lot of post-Worlds events for the 2017 season and I’m sure we’re all getting a bit tired of VGC 2017, but Bilbao and Hartford proved that this metagame is still evolving. We continue to see the same old Tapu Koko, Arcanine, Celesteela and Garchomp, but its the new ways players are discovering to beat these consistent strategies that continue to make VGC 2017 fun to watch.

For those of you that are still bored of the format, don’t worry, we only have about a month until the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. London should be exciting though. Until then we’ve got a couple more North American events to cover so stay tuned for more of our coverage!

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured image credit to tournamentcenter.eu

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

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

West coast player, east coast champion: VGC 2018 Hartford Regional Championships recap (Tuesday)

Alberto Lara, a player based mainly on the west coast, is your Hartford Regional Champion. Lara has been quite a consistent player for the VGC 2017 format, achieving numerous Top Cut placings at the regional level. With this win, Lara is the first player from the United States to earn his invite to the 2018 Pokemon World Championships just a little over a month into the new season. We have a lot to talk about from Hartford, but first here are your Top 8 results.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Alberto Lara

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2. Brady Smith

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3. Jancarlo Samayoa

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4. Stephen Mea

5. Joshua Lorcy

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6. Sohaib Mufti

7. Jeremy Rodrigues 

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8. Kevin Swastek

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*Fun fact: Three players in this Top Cut also appeared in the Top Cut of the Ft. Wayne Regional Championships. However, only one of them used the same team for this tournament.

Alberto Lara’s Dominant Top 8 RunPokemon VGC 2018 Hartford Regional Championships

Alberto Lara’s tag “Sweeper” was fitting for his domination of his opponents in Top Cut. Lara’s team featured a mix of Pokemon that could put out a lot of offense and support each other well. By far the three most interesting and clutch members of Lara’s strategy were his Gengar, Assault Vest Tapu Koko and his Flynium Z Salamence with Dragon Dance.

Gengar is a Pokemon player’s opt to build to support, but this season, the Gengar’s we’ve seen have capitalized on Gengar’s excellent offensive typing. Lara also took advantage of the powerful Sludge Bombs and Shadow Balls Gengar could throw out which proved key in knocking out Pokemon like Ninetales, Marowak and opposing Tapu.

The Assault Vest is an item that recently hasn’t seen a lot of play on Tapu Koko, but Lara showed that this variant is still good. Utilizing moves like Nature’s Madness and Sky Drop allowed Lara to set up his Salamence and other Pokemon to take KO’s on his opponent’s weakened Pokemon.

Dragon Dance variants of Salamence have risen in popularity since Paul Ruiz’s semi-final run at the 2017 World Championships, and its a powerful option for sure. Rather than having a Pokemon like Persian to Fake Out his opponents, Lara relied on his team’s immense offensive pressure to give Salamence free turns to boost.

With all of these counter-meta techs and a highly aggressive play-style, Lara swept through his Top 8 opponents without dropping a single game. With a day one invite already claimed, Lara is putting himself in a great position to claim a day two invite to the 2018 World Championships.

Did I mention that he won this tournament on his birthday? What a great gift to himself.

Ray Rizzo – #StopAtNothing – Part 1

Pokemon VGC 2018 Hartford Regional Championships

(Image credit to @P_dOnZ on Twitter)

Three-time World Champion Ray Rizzo’s quest back to the Worlds stage began in Hartford with an impressive finish to start his comeback season. Rizzo ended with a 6-2 record which unfortunately meant he missed out on Top Cut, but a Top 16 finish is still an accomplishment nonetheless.

Rizzo’s team was nothing new as he was running a team very similar to the team Sam Pandelis used to take second at the 2017 World Championships. Regardless, Rizzo showed us viewers on his streamed match versus Brendan Zheng that he can still play at a high level, and I’m sure we’ll see him in the Top Cut of a tournament before long.

Established YouTubers give VGC Regionals a shot

Pokemon VGC 2018 Hartford Regional Championships

PokeaimMD among popular VGC YouTubers Ray Rizzo and James Baek. (Image Credit to @GramgusVGC on Twitter)

Believe it or not, there were a fair number of popular personalities in the Pokemon community that attended Hartford Regionals. Notable PokeTubers in attendance included PokeaimMD, Emvee, aDrive and MrTalent. The most notable result came from Joey (aka PokeaimMD) who finished with a 6-2 record earning him a spot in the Top 16.

Why is this important? Well, popular Pokemon content creators showing interest in VGC is great for the growth of the scene. Players like aDrive, PokeaimMD and MrTalent already have VGC content on their respective channels, but this could signify a growing interest in VGC in the PokeTuber community.

Final Thoughts

For a post-worlds regional, there was surprisingly a lot of buzz around Hartford. For one, there was a community-wide effort for registration to hit the number required for a Top 16 cut which was just missed by five players. Still, the effort put forward by players and the TO’s shows that we as a community can help tournaments reach these goals, and I hope that this level of initiative extends beyond the northeast US.

Another big shoutout to CriticalHit.gg and CLASHTournaments for providing streams to both TCG and VGC. Without help from the streaming community we wouldn’t be able to grow as much as we have.

That might be it from Hartford, but there was a Special Event over in Bilbao, Spain that received an official stream that we have yet to talk about. Come back this Friday for our recap from the Bilbao Special Event!

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Slowing things down: VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Championships recap

The first regional championships stateside for the 2018 season have wrapped up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Alex Underhill earns his second regional victory under the 2017 ruleset with a team that would make Gavin Michaels proud. The reason I bring Michaels’ up is that not only is he also a two-time regional champion under the 2017 ruleset, but Underhill took a page right out of Michaels’ “hard Trick Room” handbook. There were a couple of familiar team members, but Underhill made sure to add some interesting new ones to the archetype. We’ll take a look at Underhill’s team as well as other story lines but first, as always, here are the results:

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Alex Underhill

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2. Abe Brath

3. Jeremy Rodrigues

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4. Joohwan Kim

5. Case Bongirne

6. Jake Muller

Alola Form

7. Kevin Swastek

8. Alberto Lara

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

A New Take on Hard Trick Room

Alex Underhill’s winning team actually resembles his Worlds team that he led to a Day 2 finish just short of Top Cut. Dedicated Trick Room teams weren’t that common this season and only saw success thanks to Gavin Michaels. Underhill didn’t simply recycle (this joke would’ve worked a lot better if Underhill used Snorlax) old tricks. He shook up the original team with a couple of new additions.

 lucario VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Lucario

Lucario plays a couple of unique supportive roles on this team. It can either re-direct damage away from its partner with Follow Me, or eliminate a threat by trading its own life with Final Gambit. Lucario can make it even easier for Underhill’s Mimikyu to set up Trick Room for the team.

mudsdale VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Mudsdale

This isn’t Mudsdale’s first time on the big stage, but its certainly new to a team like this. Mudsdale was likely added to deal with the excessive amount of Tapu Koko and Xurkitree. Not to mention, it also does pretty well against other Pokemon players have used to re-direct electricity, like Togedemaru and Marowak.

drampa VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Drampa

Drampa was actually a member of Michaels’ two-time regional winning team but was later switched out for Snorlax. Drampa is still a threatening Pokemon, especially under Trick Room. A powerful spread-damaging Hyper Voice, Draco Meteor and great coverage makes Drampa a solid Trick Room attacker. Also its ability, Berserk, can raise its impressive Special Attack even further.

Eevee Finally Gets a Brick 

vgc 2018 ft. wayne regional pokemon

Jeremy Rodrigues at the Virginia Regional Championships. Photo Credit: Doug Morisoli

The regional trophies look like bricks if anyone didn’t know.

Anyway, Eevee players have had a difficult time reaching the top stages of large tournaments. Sejun Park seemed to finally break this curse by taking Eevee to a Top 4 finish at the Korean National Championships. Now that Sejun has left us for TCG, the only true Eevee player remaining looked to be Giovanni Costa. But it wasn’t him that finally broke Eevee’s Top 8 curse in America.

Jeremy Rodrigues finally earned Eevee a regional trophy in Ft. Wayne with a Top 4 finish. Rodriguez took a more standard approach to the Eevee archetype as opposed to Costa’s inclusion of Tapu Fini and Dragonite. While Costa claimed there were many anti-Eevee techs that killed his run, Ft. Wayne might’ve just been a bit unprepared for this niche strategy.

Is Dragonite The New Salamence?dragonite VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

While Salamence and Metagross dominated usage at this year’s World Championships, we get two Dragonite in Ft. Wayne’s Top Cut. Dragonite is a slightly more tanky Salamence with the ability Multiscale able to decrease super-effective damage while Dragonite is at full HP. But, there are a lot of things Dragonite and Salamence can do similarly. They both have access to Dragon Dance and they both have access to Bulldoze.

Could Dragonite potentially replace Salamence on a number of teams? Abe Brath and Case Bongirne seem to think so.

Niche Picks

I’m not sure why, but this didn’t look like a Top Cut that was inspired by the World Championships. We’ve already talked about Dragonite and Drampa, but wait there’s more!

murkrow VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Murkrow

After seeing Sam Pandelis use Mandibuzz to become the World runner-up, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see more Mandibuzz. I guess Murkrow works too.

When looking at Abe Brath’s team, I can see the slight inspiration from Pandelis’ team. Murkrow can set up Tailwind and do many of the things Mandibuzz can do at the cost of some of Mandibuzz’ bulk. Still, Murkrow can speed up Pokemon like Metagross and Xurkitree’s sweeping power due to Murkrow’s Prankster ability giving it priority Tailwind.

There are a couple things that make Murkrow unique, and it can work alongside powerful threats in a similar fashion to Mandibuzz. I still think we’re bound to see some more Mandibuzz.

alolan raichu VGC 2018 Ft. Wayne Regional Pokemon

Alolan Raichu

Raichu’s Alolan Form is something we saw at Worlds as a partner to Tapu Koko, but in Ft. Wayne Jake Muller might’ve used Raichu instead as a counter. Tapu Fini teams usually don’t have the best match up against opposing Tapu Koko, but having Raichu punishes your opponent for using Tapu Koko in a similar way to Togedemaru.

Alolan Raichu can be quite a pain to deal with under Electric Terrain, and what better way to abuse its Surge Surfer ability than if your opponent sets up the Terrain for you.

Final thoughts, and a word on the lack of a stream

Ft. Wayne was a very fun tournament to keep up with, but unfortunately there wasn’t a way for those not in attendance to watch the battles unfold. Unfortunately, a stream was not allowed by the organizers of the tournament, and they went so far as to email people interested in setting up a stream that they already had a stream set up. It’s one thing to not allow a stream for seemingly no reason, but to outwardly lie is a lot worse. Streaming events that don’t get official coverage is one of the main ways to get the game and the scene to grow, so organizers allowing streams should be a priority for regional-level events. On the bright side, it seems like there’s been a large initiative to stream many of the regionals not only in America but also in Europe. Streaming is a good thing people, let’s make sure it becomes a standard.

The 2018 season is just underway, and we’ve got a lot more to cover. That’s all from Ft. Wayne, and stay tuned for more tournament coverage!

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

alolan marowak 2017 Pokemon World Championships recaptogedemaru 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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!


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