pokemon 2018 london international championships

Concerns going into the 2018 London International Championships

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

VGC 2017 is old news

pokemon 2018 london international championships

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

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

Attendance cap

pokemon 2018 london international championships

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

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

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

Starting the snowball

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

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

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

Pokemon Sun and Moon are about to be old news

pokemon 2018 london international championships

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

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

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

 


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

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interview with pokeaimmd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not really.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you approach teambuilding?

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

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

“I like to play what wins.”

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

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

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

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

“Watch good players, and play a lot.”

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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pokemon local tournament streams

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

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

Before that, a quick update regarding our last piece

 landorus pokemon local tournament streams

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

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

The ruling

capture card 3ds pokemon local tournament streams

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or will they?

Check the wording

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

There’s one problem though.

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

Another important additiontapu fini pokemon local tournament streams

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

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

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

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

Landorus (Therian Forme) landorus pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

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

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

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

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

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

Heatranheatran pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

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

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

Fire-types

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

Steel-types

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

Cresseliacresselia pokemon vgc 2018 legendary pokemon

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

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

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

What lies beyond the Ultra Wormholes?

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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Mega Metagross Mega Swampert Pokemon VGC

Metagross and Swampert: Two Mega Evolutions looking to dominate the 2018 metagame

The seventh generation introduced new speed mechanics for Mega Evolution, potentially allowing some new Mega’s to share the spotlight for the upcoming VGC 2018 format. By now we’re all familiar with Kangaskhan and Salamence, whose Mega Evolutions dominated the 2014 and 2015 formats. Since then, their abilities (Parental Bond and Aerilate respectively) have taken a welcome nerf to their damage output, offering some well-needed balance for the game.

So back to that mechanic change. In generation six, when Mega Evolution debuted, the speed stats were calculated before the turn started, meaning that Pokemon that received a speed boost upon Mega Evolution would have to wait a turn before they could take advantage of their increased speed stat. Pokemon Sun and Moon altered this mechanic by recalculating the speed of a Pokemon upon Mega Evolution, making it so the speed advantage can be used immediately.

Two Mega Evolutions that gained a huge buff due to this change were Swampert and Metagross. In addition to the speed buff, Mega Swampert and Mega Metagross have also benefited from favorable additions to the game as well as metagame changes that have skyrocketed their viability. This is why these two lesser-known Mega Evolutions should be on every player’s radar come 2018.

Mega Swampert

 

Mega Metagross Mega Swampert Pokemon VGCMega Swampert gains the ability Swift Swim upon Mega Evolution, allowing it to double its speed in the rain. With the addition of Drizzle to Pelipper’s list of abilities, Mega Swampert has gained a rather helpful partner. Pelipper helps Swampert deal with its terrible matchup versus Grass-types while also being immune to Swampert’s Earthquake.

The Battle Spot Doubles metagame is the prime format to test for VGC 2018, and this metagame favors Mega Swampert heavily. New powerhouses like Tapu Koko and old ones like Landorus and Heatran will easily drop to any hit from Mega Swampert, and there are a bunch other Pokemon looking to avoid rain-boosted Waterfalls. Of course Mega Swampert won’t be able to steamroll the format due to the presence of Pokemon like Ferrothorn and Kartana, but its matchup is great against the current field.

I know I’ve already talked about the changed speed mechanics, but Mega Swampert in particular has a neat trick you can pull off with its ability. Say you have a normal Swampert on the field with your Drizzle user (either Pelipper or Politoed) in the back. You can switch into your rain-setter which will set the rain up upon switch in, and then Mega Evolve your Swampert in order to get the Swift Swim speed boost right away. This works because since Mega Evolution now recalculates speed upon Mega Evolution, if rain is set up before Swampert Mega Evolves, the speed stat will recalculate with the speed boost from Swift Swim. Whether or not this was an oversight on the developer’s part is beyond me, but how cool is that?

Mega MetagrossMega Metagross Mega Swampert Pokemon VGC

Unlike Mega Swampert, Mega Metagross actually had some early-format success back in the days of the 2015 season. However, one thing that always held Metagross back was that lack of speed it had on the first-turn after Mega Evolving. Now, Metagross gets that huge 40 base point speed boost immediately. Needless to say, Mega Metagross just got a whole lot better.

Like I said, there are other factors that played into Mega Metagross’ favor outside of the immediate speed boost. With the introduction of the Tapu Pokemon, Fairy-type usage is at an all-time high, which Mega Metagross loves. With the increased base attack stat, Tough Claws ability and a favorable type matchup, Mega Metagross can potentially one-hit-KO three out of the four Island Guardians (with the exception of Tapu Fini who’s just too bulky). Speaking of the Tapu, there’s synergy there too.

Mega Metagross and Tapu Lele seems like a match made in heaven. Both are fast and can hit like trucks on both the physical and special side. Psychic Terrain turns Mega Metagross’ Zen Headbutt into something that may not even count as a “resisted hit” for some Pokemon. Basically, it’s almost too much damage. Also, one of the major annoyances for Mega Metagross known as Sucker Punch not only received a base power nerf but also can’t be used in Psychic Terrain since it’s a priority move. Slap a Hydreigon with these two and you’ve got yourself a solid core and half of a potential World Championship-winning team. Oh also being a Steel-type makes Mega Metagross a solid choice for a rain team, just saying.

With the major nerfs to dominant Mega Evolutions, the conditions seem perfect for previously ignored Mega Evolutions to slide into the spotlight. It’s hard to believe that the likes of Mega Salamence and Mega Kangaskhan could be dethroned, but Mega Metagross and Mega Swampert have already made a strong case for their spot in the top five Mega Evolutions going into the 2018 format. There’s a lot of change coming once the format switches over on January 1, 2018, and what a fun format 2018 is shaping up to be.

Thanks for reading!


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

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Featured Image(s) from the Pokemon anime

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Torkoal vgc 2017

Why players should be prepared to face Torkoal now more than ever

For most of the VGC 2017 season, the “Double Duck” archetype has reigned as the format’s most popular weather team. Outside of Sebastian Escalante’s Top 8 run at the World Championships, Rain hasn’t done much recently, but Sun has made quite the comeback. Torkoal and Sun teams barely dented Anaheim’s usage charts, but after winning a regional in Bremen and placing in the Top 4 at Ft. Wayne, the Sun might be rising yet again.

For anyone who’s played against Torkoal, Lilligant or any other Sun variant, it is a terrifying matchup. With the constant threat of an erupting volcano, a good matchup and near perfect play are required to take Torkoal down. Lately, many players haven’t prepared much for Sun teams due to their drastic drop in usage, but these recent results could signal Torkoal and Lilligant’s comeback to relevance.

So, does your current team have a way to stop this deadly duo? Well, let’s examine what the common Sun team looks like and how your team can beat it.

The Typical Sun Team

The basic structure of a Sun team for the 2017 season can be broken down into three parts:

  1. Torkoal & Lilligant
  2. Tapu (and something that goes well with that Tapu)
  3. Trick Room Mode

Torkoal and Lilligant torkoal Torkoal VGC 2017

Besides the aforementioned “Double Ducks”, Torkoal + Lilligant is by far one of the scariest leads in the 2017 metagame. Torkoal may be one of the slowest Pokemon in the game, but its low speed can easily be remedied by its partner. Lilligant is what you should be worried about. The speed boost it gets in the sun from its Chlorophyll ability allows it to start spreading Sleep Powders, fire off a powerful Bloom Doom or assist Torkoal in spamming Eruption with After You.

lilligant Torkoal VGC 2017

Playing against these two requires quite the decision on turn one. Torkoal is obviously the big damaging threat, but it could easily protect itself turn one knowing it will be targeted. Lilligant, on the other hand, is free to throw out Sleep Powder or a Z-move with little consequence since it’s the fastest thing on the field while the sun is out.

Figuring out a way to damage Torkoal while also eliminating Lilligant’s status as a threat (either by KOing it or protecting your Pokemon from Sleep Powder) is your way of shutting these two down. Luckily, there are a few ways to do that.

A few ways of dealing with this pair

tapu koko Torkoal VGC 2017

Electric or Misty Terrain

Both Tapu Fini and Tapu Koko’s Terrains protect your grounded team members from Sleep, so Lilligant becomes a lot weaker. However, these two can easily be KO’ed by a Bloom Doom from Lilligant so protecting your Terrain advantage is key.

arcanine Torkoal VGC 2017

Arcanine or Nihilego + Tapu Koko

Arcanine and Nihilego are great leads when paired with Tapu Koko. The Electric Terrain prevents either one from being put to sleep while Arcanine and Nihilego can easily pick up KO’s on either Torkoal or Lilligant. Nihilego is the better of the two in this situation since its massive Special Defense doesn’t care about Eruption and it can easily KO either Torkoal or Lilligant. Plus Nihilego can set up Trick Room to stop Lilligant, but this does benefit Torkoal.

goodra Torkoal VGC 2017

Goodra

My last mention for this category is a Dragon that has flown under the radar this season: Goodra. Goodra has a bunch of good things going for it in this matchup.

1) Its Sap Sipper ability prevents it from being affected by Sleep Powder.

2) Its Special Defense and resistance to Fire allows it to shake off Eruption.

3) Goodra’s move pool is insanely diverse.

A bit of a niche pick, but Goodra one of the few hard stops to Torkoal and Lilligant.

tapu lele Torkoal VGC 2017

Tapu Lele or Tapu Bulu

Basically, both Tapu that accommodate the spamming of Sleep Powder. Tapu Lele is the more popular choice due to the hyper-offense nature of most Sun teams, and the Psychic Terrain prevents the threat of priority damage on either Torkoal, Lilligant and Pheromosa in some cases. There’s really only one definite answer to these two, and we’ve already kind of gone over it.

How to deal with their Tapu

tapu fini Torkoal VGC 2017

Terrain Advantage (Ideally Misty or Electric Terrain)

The two Terrains that eliminate sleep and Tapu Lele’s damage output. Tapu Fini and/or Tapu Koko work great here.

Trick Room Modesnorlax Torkoal VGC 2017

Torkoal is already a great Trick Room sweeper due to its terrible speed, but Snorlax is often added to the typical Sun team’s Trick Room onslaught.

For setters, Mimikyu is ideal since it pairs nicely with Snorlax and can be hard to take down allowing it to set up Trick Room more easily. Oranguru is also a setter that synergizes well with both Torkoal and Snorlax as its signature move, Instruct, can be abused with either Torkoal’s Eruption or Belly Drum-boosted Snorlax’ attacks.

How to deal with Trick Room

This part can be tricky, but the best way is to just deny Trick Room. Having your own Trick Room mode doesn’t work as well here since your opponent likely has both Snorlax and Torkoal which are two of the best Trick Room sweepers in the game. Damage on Torkoal and preventing Snorlax from boosting is your best bet for dealing with the Trick Room aspect of the team.

Other Members of the Potential Supporting Cast

I may have boiled the Sun team formula down to three simple-sounding aspects, but there are some other things that can work with a Sun team.

pheromosa Torkoal VGC 2017

Ultra Beasts

Mainly Pheromosa and Nihilego are the go-to choices for a Sun team since they work so well with Tapu Lele. The Psychic Terrain and heavy offensive pressure pairs well with the Ultra Beasts that can easily start boosting and sweeping.

smeargle Torkoal VGC 2017

Smeargle

Of course, with Ultra Beasts, Smeargle isn’t too far behind. Smeargle can provide support to the entire team in either setting Trick Room, or the Ultra Beasts or in a recent case even Porygon-Z. If there weren’t already enough scary parts to this team.

mudsdale Torkoal VGC 2017

Mudsdale

Some players have opted for Mudsdale as their main Trick Room attacker since Mudsdale enjoys not having to worry about Water-type attacks in the Sun. Mudsdale also has a great matchup against Tapu Koko, Arcanine and Nihilego which I previously mentioned are all great answers to Torkoal and Lilligant.

So, are you feeling better about your Sun matchup?

I hope so, but regardless, when you see Torkoal in team preview its okay to freak out. Hopefully, if you’ve struggled against Sun teams in the past, this article helped you better understand the matchups and what Pokemon might be worth adding to a team to help said matchup.

With the amount of popularity Sun teams have picked up recently, we’re likely to see a bunch of Sun teams in action at the Hartford Regional Championships this weekend.

Thanks for reading!


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

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pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Strategies to expect for the remaining 2017 Pokemon VGC season

The 2017 World Championships have come and gone, and so far, two regionals have already taken place. There are still many remaining events that will use the 2017 rule-set, including the London International Championships happening in November. If you are planning on competing in one of these upcoming tournaments, you’re probably wondering what kind of metagame you should prepare for. This can be difficult considering the last two top cuts in Ft. Wayne and Bremen looked almost nothing like Anaheim’s. So, how should you prepare for the post-worlds VGC 2017 metagame? Hopefully we’ll have some answers for you.

An Overview

For starters, I’d like to break down the current metagame into two categories: successful world’s teams and counters.

The three most popular teams to come out of Anaheim’s top cut are Sam Pandelis’ Mandibuzz and Tapu Lele team, Tomoyuki Yoshimura’s take on MetaMence and Paul Ruiz’s Persian and friends composition. The reason I mention these specifically is that all of these teams have appeared on popular VGC YouTubers channels (including but not limited to CybertronProductions, Osirus Studios and Ray Rizzo).

These teams are picking up popularity because they’re 1) Relatively easy to play and 2) Are quite consistent in a number of match ups.

I wouldn’t count on not seeing any other teams from the Top Cut of the World Championships, but if you’re bound to run into any, it will likely be one of these three.

Of course, when teams do well, the next logical step is to figure out a way to counter them. We’ve already seen Mandibuzz and Persian pick up in usage (not just because of Ruiz and Pandelis) but because Foul Play is a solid answer to MetaMence. I’ll get into some other counters in a bit, but your mission as a team builder is to create something that counters the meta and something that counters the counters.

Sounds easy right?

Popular World’s Strategies

I’ve already mentioned the teams from World’s that I think will be the most popular, but adaptations aren’t totally out of the question. These are modes from successful World’s teams that are the most likely to be adapted.

MetaMencesalamence pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

We’ve already dedicated an entire piece to MetaMence, so make sure to check that out if you want a detailed breakdown. One thing I praised MetaMence for is its flexibility in team building, which is why I expect it to return with a different supporting cast.

Foul Play users like Mandibuzz and Persian or bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini and even Milotic are good answers to this combo. Foul Play makes Metagross think twice about wanting to boost while the bulky Water Pokemon can these two for either neutral or super-effective damage.

Mandibuzz, Tapu Lele and Friendsmandibuzz pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Tailwind and Tapu Lele go together so well and it looks like Mandibuzz has taken over Drifblim’s spot as Lele’s speed-boosting partner. This team has become slightly harder to deal with now that Ninetales can buff up its teammates with Aurora Veil while Xurkitree and Garchomp set up in your face. The hyper-offense nature of the team forces a lot of defensive play so setting up and sweeping can be easy for this team to pull off.

Alolan Marowak was clutch for Ryota Otsubo in the finals as Marowak was able to break Pandelis’ Aurora Veil with Brick Break and halt Xurkitree’s Thunderbolts with Marowak’s Lightningrod ability. Tapu Fini works pretty well here too, being able to switch the Terrain and threaten Fairy-type attacks on Mandibuzz and Garchomp. Basically, denying the team set-up by taking away things like Tailwind, Aurora Veil and Psychic Terrain are the way to beat it. It’s tough considering one mistake could lead to Garchomp and/or Xurkitree 2-0’ing you.

Whimsicott’s Z-Nature Powerwhimsicott pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

How could I mention Worlds without talking about the team that won it all? We saw how much of a threat Whimsicott was, being able to fire off priority Z-moves and support Otsubo’s team with Charm and Tailwind. 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati has already earned a Top 4 and Top 8 placing with a team very similar to Otsubo’s with a bit more of a standard approach (Arcanine > Marowak, Garchomp > Krookodile).

While I don’t think Otsubo’s exact team will make big waves post-worlds, Whimsicott might solidify itself as a viable Tailwind supporter.

Persian and Boosting Sweepersalolan persian pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Paul Ruiz showed us yet again how terrifying and annoying Alolan Persian can be to deal with, especially with two monsters who can boost their stats next to it. Persian has a lot of disruptive options at its disposal making it easy for Pokemon like Snorlax to set up and sweep without even needing a Speed advantage. Fake Out can buy you a free turn, Parting Shot weakens your opponent’s threats and Foul Play can eliminate your opponent’s heavy physical hitters.

As for Dragon Dance sweepers, Gyarados and Salamence are great next to Persian. In his team report, Ruiz liked Salamence because of its higher Speed and Attack stats compared to Gyarados. Salamence, arguably, has better matchups, but like Gyarados, it has a 4x weakness to a very common attacking type. Something they also have in common is their heavy hitting Supersonic Skystrike coming off of moves that would normally take two turns to hit (Fly and Bounce respectively). What I personally don’t like about the Flynium-Z route for these two is that their attacking options become severely limited after the Z-move is burned. However, if that Z-move hits into a non-resisted target, expect a KO to start the game.

For counters, Ruiz didn’t like his match up against Mandibuzz and Trick Room (Mimikyu+Snorlax mainly). Mandibuzz does threaten his mostly physical team with Foul Play and can easily take away the speed advantage with Tailwind. Trick Room is threatening simply because this team has a fast Snorlax, allowing most other Snorlax to beat it under Trick Room.

Go check out his team report here!

Counters to Consider

Now here’s the fun part: the counters that you’ll have to counter.

Mandibuzz/Persianalolan persian pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Not to be redundant, but these two have picked up a ton of popularity after Worlds. Both can decimate a boosted Metagross and Snorlax with Foul Play while providing excellent support.

Lightningrodtogedemaru pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Tapu Koko and Xurkitree are as popular as ever following the World Championships, and there’s nothing that these two hate going up against more than Lightningrod (and maybe a Garchomp holding a Choice Scarf). Alolan Marowak looks to be the favorite, but I wouldn’t count out Togedemaru. Togedemaru can be a pain to deal with being able to Fake Out, Encore and flinch your team to death with Zing Zap. Marowak mainly just does damage. Lot’s and lots of damage.

Weathertorkoal pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

News flash: Rain and Sun are still good. It’s mainly the sun I want to talk about though. Since Worlds, Torkoal has won two regionals with a second one appearing in Ft. Wayne’s Top 4. Rain, on the other hand, has had zero appearances. I think players were sleeping on Torkoal while Pelipper and Golduck were tearing up the metagame, but Torkoal can still bring the heat. Whether partnered with Lilligant or under Trick Room, those Eruptions are going to melt teams unprepared for the Sun match up. For any team being built after Worlds, make sure you pack something that can deal with Torkoal, Lilligant and the other usual suspects (Tapu Lele, Pheromosa, etc.).

MimiLaxmimikyu pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Despite all of the Foul Play, Snorlax is here to stay. Mimikyu looks like its back after an impressive showing at the World Championships as Snorlax’s main Trick Room setter. Mimikyu can be an incredibly annoying Pokemon to deal with especially since it basically has a free hit it can take thanks to Disguise. Not to mention, Ghostium Z has become the go-to item for Mimikyu so have fun trying to predict whether or not your opponent goes for NeverEnding Nightmare or Z-Destiny Bond.

Snorlax on the other hand, well, it’ll just keep using Belly Drum.

Smearglesmeargle pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

For our last Pokemon, here’s a bit of an underdog that I expect to do well post-worlds (I promise I’ll stop the puns now). A couple Smeargle have popped up in Ft. Wayne and Bremen next to Ultra Beasts that Smeargle likes to partner up with. Smeargle is a very disruptive Pokemon that can easily draw attention away from the boosting monsters known as Nihilego, Xurkitree and Pheromosa. Oh did I mention that Porygon-Z took home a regional title in Bremen next to Smeargle?

Taunt is likely going to be a good choice for your team.

Final Thoughts

So far we’ve seen two regional Top Cuts that look completely different from the World Championships that were just a month ago. I’m not sure how far VGC 2017 has left to go in terms of creativity, but I think I summed up what we’re most likely going to see in the next couple months. Then again, Dragonite has been on the rise so at this point anything can happen.

Hartford, Connecticut is our next location for regionals coming up at the end of the month. A stream will be provided thanks to Clash Tournaments which brings a huge sigh of relief for us journalists. We’ll be recapping everything that goes down in Hartford, but until then we’ve got you covered with everything Pokemon VGC!

Thanks for reading!


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

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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vgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Analyzing Meta-Mence: Is it really that good?

What were once some of the most niche Pokemon in the metagame have solidified themselves as a duo to be reckoned with in the late stages of the 2017 format. Salamence, a dragon that is mostly inferior to Garchomp, and an Intimidator that appears outclassed by Arcanine. Metagross, a solid Steel-type attacker that suffers immensely from its main methods of damage not being 100% accurate. These off-meta picks have seen sparse usage over the course of the season, but ever since the North American Internationals, these two have skyrocketed in popularity. Is this combo the next big thing for the VGC 2017 metagame? Let’s find out.

How this combo worksvgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Salamence has been known in the past for dealing fast damage as one of the game’s best Dragon-types. This season, realizing Salamence’s offensive potential has been stunted by the abundance of Fairy-type Pokemon, players came up with a more defensive variant holding the Assault Vest.

Metagross is still pretty much the same, being able to threaten major damage with attacks like Meteor Mash and Zen Headbutt. The Weakness Policy is an item that Metagross users have been satisfied with already, but what if there was a way to gain the boosts from Weakness Policy by activating it yourself?

Enter Salamence, and the move Bulldoze. Bulldoze is a pretty weak Ground-type attack that damages all Pokemon on the field while guaranteeing a Speed drop on those hit. Players usually train their Salamence defensively and in the Special Attack stat so Bulldoze won’t do a lot of damage to the partner Metagross. Metagross’ Clear Body negates the Speed drop of Bulldoze, but the super-effective hit activates the Weakness Policy, doubling Metagross’ Attack and Special Attack. This instantly turns Metagross into a massive threat, while Salamence can continue to provide Intimidate support for the team.

This seems like a solid strategy on paper, and believe me, it is a neat combo. However, this duo has its fair share of weaknesses which we’ll examine shortly.

Pros and Consvgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Pro: Team Flexibility 

  • Dragon and Steel is already a solid defensive core, and many players add a Tapu to complete the “Fantasy” core of Dragon/Steel/Fairy. Since most teams can easily complete this core, Meta-Mence has found itself on a number of different teams.

Con: Common Weaknesses

  • Salamence has been pushed aside for the majority of this format due to its weaknesses to the popular Fairy and Ice-type attacks. Metagross may not be able to have its stats lowered, but it does struggle against the ever-present Arcanine. Plus, neither of these two handle the format’s most popular Tapu (Koko & Fini) very well, and both can find it hard to take strong, special hits.

Pro: The Good Matchups 

  • While Salamence and Metagross do have their share of weaknesses, they both have the ability to deal with some pretty popular Pokemon. Salamence walls Kartana as well as Arcanine, while also being a great switch-in for Garchomp since Garchomps normally don’t run Dragon Claw. Metagross has a ton of resistances for just being a Steel-type and has a great move-pool to compliment its offensive presence. Together, these two work pretty well at handling each other’s weaknesses.

Con: The Mirror Match

  • When playing with these two, the likelihood of facing a mirror match at a large or local event is high. It can be difficult to gain an edge in the mirror match without accidentally activating the other player’s Weakness Policy. There is a lot of positioning needed to gain the upper hand, and knowing where you have advantages is crucial.

Pro: Consistency 

  • This duo can win, and if played correctly through Swiss, a title run is possible. Setting up Metagross can be quite simple if you’re given even the slightest advantage, and Bulldoze is a great way to disrupt the opponent as well. If you want results, Tomoyuki Yoshimura had a very unique take on a team fitting for these two and managed to get Top 4 at this year’s World Championships. That being said…

Con: People are prepared 

  • I should also mention, Yoshimura was the only one in Top 8 using Meta-Mence with only one other player in the Top 19 cut doing the same. Also, there was only a single Metagross in the Top 8 of the recent Ft. Wayne Regional Championship. By now this strategy has been in the game for a while and players will be prepared to face it. Like any other popular strategy, a new take on it might be necessary for success.

So how good is Meta-Mence?

Overall, I’d still say this strategy is pretty good. It fits on a number of different team compositions and is consistent enough to reach the highest levels of even the World Championships. If you’re thinking of building a team around these two, be warned, as you may run into a lot of mirrors since this combo has become so popular. It’ll just take the right team and the right plays for this strategy to potentially take one of the remaining regional championships for the 2017 format. We’ll just have to wait and see which player will take Meta-Mence to a title.


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

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vgc 2017 tapu

VGC 2017 Retrospective: The rise of the Tapu

The introduction of the Island Guardians in the Video Game Championships brought four powerful Fairy-type Pokemon that became centerpieces for a majority of teams in the format. Before the “Surge” abilities, players almost never utilized each of the “Terrain” field effects because each one had to be set up manually, and their effects weren’t as valuable as, say, a weather effect. Now, with the ability to set up these terrains instantly, many teams were centered around each Tapu and their terrain’s respective benefits.

But the auto-terrain set-up wasn’t the only things that made each Tapu a good Pokemon. Tapu Koko has amazing speed, Tapu Bulu and Tapu Lele hit like trucks, while Tapu Fini was a bulky Water-type above the rest. Let’s take a look back at how these four Pokemon dominated the 2017 format.

The Terrains

vgc 2017 tapu

The terrain field effects were a neat new addition to the battlefield. Each terrain offered many different effects that were able to benefit not just the Tapu, but other Pokemon in the format as well.

Tapu Koko’s Electric Terrain allowed it to hit hard as Special Attacker, while also preventing its grounded teammates from being put to sleep. Tapu Lele’s Psychic Terrain made its already high-damaging Psychic attacks hit even harder, while the terrain also protected frail or weakened partners by stopping priority moves. Tapu Fini’s Misty Terrain was by far the most supportive, as it protected Pokemon from being afflicted by all forms of status effects. Finally, Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain allowed it to hit super hard on the physical side, while Grassy Terrain made Earthquake much less scary for Pokemon like Arcanine and Nihilego.

Naturally, with so many terrains, the war for control was present in every battle this format. While Tapu Koko had amazing speed, slower Tapu had the edge in the lead match-up since the slower Tapu had the Terrain advantage. The Tapu Pokemon do suffer quite a bit without the terrain advantage Tapu Fini less than the others), since they rely on their terrains for the much-needed power boost.

The Electric, Psychic, Grassy and Electric seeds were also neat items to compliment the newfound relevance of terrains, but only the Misty and Psychic Seeds saw regular play at top level events.

The terrains themselves weren’t overpowered in any way. If anything, the Surge abilities were a great addition to make them competitively viable. Terrain play will likely continue in future formats as the Pokemon who create them aren’t going away.

Assessing The Deities 

Now that we’ve explored the abilities that made these Pokemon valuable team members, let’s take a look at each one individually.

Tapu Kokotapu koko vgc 2017 tapu

For anyone who has had any experience with competitive play this season, Tapu Koko shouldn’t need an introduction. The speed, power and versatility of Tapu Koko are what solidified it at the top of usage for the entire season. The combination of Electric and Fairy-type attacks was a hard combo to switch into, which made Tapu Koko an excellent lead and late game Pokemon. Not to mention, Tapu Koko is probably the best user of Volt Switch, being able to re-position itself with the added damage from the Electric Terrain.

But Tapu Koko’s utility doesn’t end at damage. Tapu Koko’s supportive capabilities are shown in full force with the Assault Vest item. Speed plus access to Sky Drop made Tapu Koko an extremely dangerous partner for Pokemon like a Swords Dancing Garchomp or Trick Room setter. Tapu Koko was also by far the best user of Nature’s Madness, being able to knock 50% of an opponent, setting up an easy KO for its partner. Outside of Assault Vest variants, Tapu Koko’s third move slot could contain a ton of other great moves like Taunt, Hidden Power, or even Roar.

Tapu Koko was by far the go-to sixth team member for the 2017 format, and I fully expect it to continue to use all of its great tools in future formats.

Grade: A+

Tapu LeleImage result for tapu lele

While not as popular as Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele still remained high on the usage charts all season. It saw a bit of a dip when Tapu Fini, and later Tapu Bulu, hit the scene. Still, Tapu Lele was a powerhouse that was stupid to ignore.

I consider Tapu Lele the most hyper-offensive of the four, as its play-style relied heavily on abusing Psychic Terrain for big damage. This is usually why we saw Tapu Lele paired up with Pokemon like Drifblim and Mandibuzz that could set up Tailwind. Tapu Lele also worked well with the Ultra Beasts, mainly Xurkitree and Pheromosa, as they also fit well into the hyper-offense team composition.

Tapu Lele wasn’t nearly as versatile as its Electric-type counterpart. The main thing was damage output, so items like Life Orb, Psychinium Z and Choice Specs were the most popular. We never saw move sets exclude Psychic/Psyshock or Moonblast with the last move being either Taunt or another attack if Tapu Lele held a Choice item.

While Tapu Lele may have been able to tear through teams with its amazing Special Attack, it’s reliance on Psychic Terrain held both it and its teammates. With that being said, I’m sure we’ll see Tapu Lele leading the hyper-offense archetype well into next season.

Grade: B+

Tapu Finitapu fini vgc 2017 tapu

Out of the four, I would say Tapu Fini was probably the best behind Tapu Koko. Bulky Water-types are always good choices for VGC teams, and Tapu Fini was (nearly) the complete package.

I know this section is supposed to be about the Pokemon themselves, but players mainly used Tapu Fini for Misty Terrain. The ability to have your team be immune to status effects like Burn and Toxic were key for Pokemon like Snorlax to remain big threats on the field. Plus, not having to worry about random freezes, Swagger or even paralysis was great too.

But let’s get back to Tapu Fini. Tapu Fini’s claim to fame was its great bulk, and it often used that bulk to develop itself into an offensive threat. The Calm Mind set was by far the most popular of the season, but many players at the World Championships opted for Choice Specs in order to have Tapu Fini threaten a ton of damage up front. Water and Fairy-type attacks are a great combination, but Tapu Fini players had to constantly play the odds with the infamous Muddy Water. 85% might sound pretty accurate, but Muddy Water misses a lot more often than you think. Plus, accuracy drops from Muddy Water could be amazing for the user and devastating for an opponent.

Overall, Tapu Fini’s main selling point was the insane utility of Misty Terrain. Tapu Fini still had a solid presence on a team and was one of the crucial members of the AFK core and FAKEPG team archetype. One of the best bulky Water-types the game will ever know.

Grade: A

Tapu Bulu tapu bulu vgc 2017 tapu

Tapu Bulu was the least popular of the Guardians but had a surge of great tournament results towards the end of the season. Grassy Terrain was amazing for stopping Garchomp from Earthquake-spamming to victory and was the key reason for the creation of the BAN core.

Tapu Bulu itself, like its Special Attacking counterpart Tapu Lele, did massive damage with the terrain advantage. Grass-types weren’t great outside of Tapu Bulu and Kartana, but Tapu Bulu almost single-handedly made the metagame fear Grass-types.

The move set for this raging bull was often pretty standard. Wood Hammer and Horn Leech were pretty much staple on most sets, with usually a coverage move like Superpower rounding out the third slot. There were other options for Tapu Bulu like Bulk Up and Leech Seed, but usually Tapu Bulu players preferred quicker damage. Item-wise, Tapu Bulu players really like Z Crystals or pinch berries either to further boost Wood Hammer (or Superpower in Japan’s case) or heal off all of Wood Hammer’s recoil damage.

Tapu Bulu arrived pretty late to the party, but Grassy Terrain was a perfect addition to a later format team looking to counter the other Tapu’s while also allowing for slower play. This bull was good, but I’d probably stick it at the bottom of the “Tapu tier list” if you will. However, there are still a number of Pokemon that could use some protection from Earthquake, so I’m sure Tapu Bulu will be back.

Grade: B

Well, there you have it, the four Island Guardians. Each of them made big waves in the VGC 2017 metagame and likely have become staples for many future teams. Some Guardians and Terrains were better than others, but overall, each one of these Pokemon was a worthy adversary during the 2017 season.

We’ll be back with more VGC 2017 retrospectives, but check back next week for a recap from Ft.Wayne, Indiana as the first round of post-Worlds regionals kicks off this weekend!

Thanks for reading!


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

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pokemon world championships 2017 metagame preview

Pokemon World Championships metagame preview

Just one week remains between now and the long-awaited Pokemon World Championships. With the metagame virtually on hold since the end of July, many are wondering just how the Worlds metagame will look. The VGC 2017 season has brought nothing but surprises to the season’s biggest tournaments, and Anaheim is sure to be far from an exception. Let’s attempt to predict the upcoming World Championship strategies as we take a look at the Pokemon that are sure to dominate the field.

Tapu’s and Terrains

Arguably the main aspect of a team for the 2017 format has been a team’s choice of Tapu Pokemon. At this point, all four Island Guardians have seen major tournament success, but which one(s) will take home a World Championship?

tapu koko pokemon world championships 2017

Tapu Koko will likely be on a majority of teams in Anaheim, keeping its place on top of usage. Its speed, power and versatility are unmatched by any other Pokemon this season, able to utilize the Electric Terrain to deal shocking amounts of damage. Though, there has been a trend in two of the three last World Championships of the strongest Pokemon being toppled like Mega Kangaskhan in 2014 and Xerneas and Groudon in 2016. Could we potentially see the same fate for Tapu Koko?

tapu lele pokemon world championships 2017Tapu Lele is nothing short of a powerhouse. Combined with a Tailwind setter like Drifblim, Mandibuzz or even Pelipper allows Tapu Lele to freely spam boosted Psychic attacks thanks to its signature Terrain. Psychic Terrain also has some defensive utility in blocking moves with increased priority, allowing more frail team mates like Nihilego and Pheromosa to fully utilize their speed. Tapu Lele has dropped on the usage charts in recent times, but that doesn’t by any means make it a weak choice.

tapu fini pokemon world championships 2017

Tapu Fini is another Guardian that’s fallen off a bit but is surely not going away. Being the one Tapu with the most lacking damage output (and accuracy) has not been the best for Tapu Fini, but its natural bulk along with the benefits of Misty Terrain make it a valuable team member. Misty Terrain looks to be a good choice for this stage in metagame as many players may rely on status effects like burn and poison to slow down the rampaging Snorlax. Let’s also not forget that Tapu Fini can easily turn into an offensive threat after a couple of Calm Minds or if it holds a Choice Specs.

tapu bulu pokemon world championships 2017Finally, the anti-Tapu Tapu Bulu looks to have a promising tournament in Anaheim. To compliment the format shifting to more defensive play, the Grassy Terrain is perfect for nerfing the damage from other Tapus while also gradually recovering the rest of the team’s HP. Grassy Terrain can also allow Tapu Bulu to bring the hammer down on its competition with Grassy Terrain’s boost to Grass-type attacks. I’m sure this off-meta choice will be a popular one for World Championship competitors.

Boosting Beasts

The Ultra Beasts are some of the strangest, yet most powerful Pokemon introduced in the seventh generation. With the ability to boost their stats after a successful KO, we’ve seen these Pokemon become terrifying sweepers or unbreakable walls.celesteela pokemon world championships 2017

Speaking of unbreakable walls, Celesteela is my pick for Anaheim’s top Ultra Beast. With it having such a strong showing in the North American International Championships as a prominent member of the “goodstuffs” archetype, it looks like Celesteela has found itself at a comfortable place in the metagame. Despite being known as a wall, Celesteela has shown its offensive capabilities utilizing moves like Flamethrower and Air Slash to deal with troublesome opponents. It’s likely Celesteela will remain popular with its standard Leech Seed set, but don’t be surprised if a Celesteela’s third or fourth move is an unexpected tech.

kartana pokemon world championships 2017Celesteela’s offensive Steel-type counterpart Kartana has dropped significantly in favor of the aforementioned Blaster. Kartana still finds a comfortable role as a Grass-type sweeper on teams with other Tapus and Arcanine, but it seems just too frail at times. Perhaps players will go back to the days of Assault Vest Kartana as a way to make sure this Pokemon won’t drop to an Ember.

buzzwole pokemon world championships 2017

Pheromosa and Buzzwole are two Pokemon that are very similar in type, but function in very different ways. Both seem like good choices considering they both threaten strong, Fighting-type attacks to opposing Snorlax, but which one is the better option? Pheromosa is infamous as the 50/50 Pokemon as since it’s so frail, every play with it feels like a coin toss. If you happen to win that coin toss however, the game can be catapulted into your favor. Buzzwole is much slower, bulkier and the all-around safer option of the two and will likely be the pheromosa pokemon world championships 2017more popular pick for its consistency. Buzzwole has the movepool and strength of Pheromosa, but just needs a little help in the speed department to really get going. Both of these Pokemon are equally terrifying to go up against, but like I said, I believe Buzzwole has the edge in the role of a strong Fighting-type.

nihilego pokemon world championships 2017Nihilego was a lesser known option in the beginning of the season, but quickly rose higher in usage once players began to realize how good its matchup was against the metagame. Despite Nihilego’s naturally high speed, it’s found a niche role as a surprise Trick Room setter. Still, that Speed is put to good use on other variants, especially when you’re able to raise it with Beast Boost. Nihilego, unfortunately, has terrible Defense and a x4 weakness to Ground, but the rise of Tapu Bulu makes me think that we’ll see a couple Nihilego at the World’s stage.

Finally, the Ultra Beast that is the most underrated, yet has the most potential in a xurkitree pokemon world championships 2017Worlds metagame is Xurkitree. Xurkitree is sort of in Tapu Koko’s shadow as a slower Electric-type, but when Xurkitree has the proper support it starts to resemble a 2016 Xerneas. Unlike Tapu Koko, Xurkitree gets access to Tail Glow, which can boost Xurkitree’s already absurdly high Special Attack by three stages. Smeargle has recently resurfaced and Xurkitree can make great use of Smeargle’s incredible support abilities. Xurkitree has a lot of potential and I wouldn’t count Xurkitree out of winning it all.

Trick Room: More than just Snorlax

snorlax pokemon world championships 2017

Snorlax will definitely be one of the most used Pokemon at the World Championships just because of how hard it can be to take down. Couple that with Snorlax’s ability to boost its Attack stat to insane levels and you have yourself a threat. Fighting-types, being Snorlax’s only weakness, will surely be popular as a means to deal with the plethora of Snorlax that will litter the World’s metagame. But Snorlax shouldn’t be the only Trick Room sweeper players should be worried about.

gigalith pokemon world championships 2017

Gigalith still remains popular alongside its Trick Room setting partner: Porygon2. This duo rounds out the infamously standard FAKEPG team, which is likely either to be played the same or perhaps slightly differently on the Worlds stage. Strong Rock-type attacks are Gigalith’s specialty, and can still be hard to deal with if Gigalith is under Trick Room.

araquanid pokemon world championships 2017Finally, two of the lesser known Trick Room attackers that are still able to dent opposing teams are Mudsdale and Araquanid. Araquanid doesn’t have the best attacking stats, but its Water Bubble ability doubles the damage of its signature Liquidation, to where it can almost two hit KO any Pokemon in the format. Araquanid’s typing and reliance on Trick Room make it struggle a bit, but the power of Araquanid’s Water-type attacks are dangerous to underestimate.

mudsdale pokemon world championships 2017

Mudsdale is a Pokemon in the shadow of Garchomp as the format’s main Ground-type attacker. Where Mudsdale excels is in its lack of reliance on Earthquake which Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain weakens. Instead, Mudsdale gets to fire off power High Horsepower’s without having to worry about Grassy Terrain weakening its power. Mudsdale also gets access to a great ability in Stamina while also having other solid move options like Heavy Slam and Close Combat. Mudsdale could be the Pokemon that potentially knocks Garchomp off of its pedestal as VGC’ 2017’s main Ground-type.

 

What about the Setters?

porygon2 pokemon world championships 2017

I’m positive Porygon2 will remain the go-to setter for any Trick Room abuser outside of Snorlax. Porygon2’s BoltBeam coverage, bulk and access to Toxic will likely have it remain the top Trick Room setter, but there are some other options. Mimikyu is a great partner for Snorlax that can either support with moves like Taunt and Will-o-Wisp or go on the offensive by setting up Swords Dances or copying a Snorlax’s Attack boosts with Psych Up.

Oranguru is a Pokemon that I believe has a lot of potential, as it has great synergy withoranguru pokemon world championships 2017 Snorlax and the sun sweeper Torkoal with its signature move Instruct. Instruct gives Oranguru’s partner an extra use of its last used move which leads to the popular combo of Oranguru allowing Torkoal to use Eruption twice in one turn. However, this combo can also work with a Belly Drum Snorlax, which Oranguru can assist by giving it an extra boosted hit.

Weather Wars

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Rain will likely remain the most popular form of weather mode at the World Championships, especially after coming off an International Top 8 and a regional victory coming into Anaheim. Torkoal and Lilligant could potentially make a return at the World Championships as the Sun archetype still has a lot of room for innovation. Alolan Ninetales will probably remain the sole Hail representative, but will work alongside other team compositions with Aurora Veil and a bunch of other support moves.

 

Japan’s Influence?tsareena pokemon world championships 2017

 

Japan has consistently performed at the top level in the Video Game Championships, and

Western players have taken notice. Tsareena is a Pokemon that had a lot of players talking, but is it “the play” for the World Championships? I think a lot of people are asking the same question about other strategies from the Japanese National Championships Top 8, but we’ve already seen one do well in the West.

porygon-z pokemon world championships 2017Markus Stadter earned another Top 8 placing for the Porygon-Z plus Smeargle combination in Indianapolis that previously had success in Japan’s National tournament. The duo focuses on setting up Porygon-Z with Z Conversion which changes Porygon-Z’s type while also boosting all of its stats. The type chosen by both aforementioned teams was the Electric-type, and these Thunderbolts are no joke. I foresee this combo being more explored further in some Worlds teams, as this strategy seems surprisingly consistent.

Japanese players are always surprising us with their unpredictable and innovative strategies and we’re sure to see more during the World Championships.

Popular Cores/Team Compositions 

AFK (Arcanine/Fini/Kartana)

The format’s most standard Fire/Water/Grass core that is able to cover its weaknesses while also dishing out some damage. This trio has recently expanded into another popular team composition known as FAKEPG (Tapu Fini/Arcanine/Kartana/Electric-type/Porygon 2/Gigalith). This team builds upon the previous core by adding an Electric-type (mainly Tapu Koko or Togedemaru) for extra coverage and support and the Trick Room option of Porygon2 and Gigalith in order to provide the team even more options to work with.

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

Tailwind + Tapu Lele 

First popularized by Shoma Honami during the ONOG Invitational quickly turned into a popular team type that went on to win multiple Regional titles and even an International. The combo has evolved beyond Drifblim to include other Tailwind setters like Mandibuzz and even Pelipper for Rain teams, but Drifblim remains the most popular. Basically, the strategy is to get Tailwind up and start sweeping with Tapu Lele, Garchomp and maybe even some Ultra Beasts. The team suffers a bit without the speed advantage, but Snorlax is a popular sixth member to deal with opposing Trick Room. A team type that’s kind of fallen off, but remains viable even now.

Goodstuffs

Pretty much the format’s most popular Pokemon all on one team. I’ve already written a piece about VGC 2017’s goodstuffs archetype so if you’d like a more in depth look at the team I recommend clicking here. This particular team had a very strong showing at the North American International Championships and will likely remain a popular choice for players looking for straight consistency…unless the most popular team in the format gets heavily countered like previous years. We’ll just have to wait and see.

NBA (Nihilego/Tapu Bulu/Arcanine)

This core has emerged alongside the rise of Tapu Bulu. The Ground-weak Nihilego and Arcanine benefit greatly from Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain which these two to be less afraid of Garchomp. The team is able to accommodate a Trick Room option like Drew Nowak’s team that featured Hariyama and Araquanid or the aforementioned Smeargle+Porygon-Z duo that debuted in Japan. A well-built team using this core has potential to go all the way in Anaheim and what was once an off-meta core is turning into a team needing to be countered.

A Tournament Full of Surprises

Despite what looks to be the established metagame, the Pokemon World Championships are known to break previous conventions. Although Kartana and Celesteela are the format’s most popular Steel-types, Metagross is waiting for its opportunity to mash its way to the top. Arcanine might be the format’s top Intimidator, but Pokemon like Gyarados and Salamence have been showing just how scary they can be. Chansey is also a Pokemon to watch out for as yet another bulky Normal-type to take down.

There’s a ton that has been done and a ton still left to be done with this format, and the World Championships are sure to stretch the limits of creativity. Players preparing for the World Championships have a daunting task in building a team for what looks to be a nearly unpredictable metagame. A strong team and on-point predictions will be essential for a player to become the World Champion, and I can’t wait to see what strategies will emerge next weekend.

Thanks for reading!

Check out five Pokemon that could be “the play” for the World Championships here!


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!

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