chansey pokemon vgc 2018

Chansey’s early reign of terror in the 2018 competitive Pokemon season

It may be early into the 2018 VGC format, but there already exists a team so gimmicky that it’s actually viable. Chansey is a Pokemon notorious for just how hard it can be to get rid of due to its high defenses and access to great recovery. This new strategy that centers around Chansey basically ensures that you will not be able to knock it out, because you will simply not be able to damage it or hit it to begin with. There’s a lot of fear in the community surrounding this strategy especially considering that Dallas Regionals are quickly approaching and this team has proven that it can win. Let’s take a look at how you can easily lose to this terrifying gimmick.

How it works

chansey chansey pokemon vgc 2018

The centerpiece of this strategy is Chansey and the team’s goal is to boost Chansey’s defenses and evasion to the point where it becomes impossible to take down. First, you start with Guard Split, a move that averages the defense stats of the user and the target. The two main users of Guard Split are Carbink and Shuckle who are Pokemon known for their high defense stats. Chansey has amazing Special Defense and HP, but its Defense is pitiful, and this is where Guard Spilt comes in. With a boost to its Defense, plus the Eviolite item, Chansey becomes a defensive monster.

The gimmick team golden boy Smeargle is a typical lead for the team as it can disrupt the opponent enough so that Trick Room can be set up for Carbink. Once Smeargle leaves the field, it becomes Chansey’s time to shine.

After receiving the Guard Split, Chansey will then begin to set up Minimize and continue to use Softboiled to regain all of its lost HP during set up. With Chansey at a comfortable amount of evasiveness, it goes from a Pokemon with just amazing bulk to a Pokemon that can’t be touched. Finally, Chansey proceeds to spam Toxic and Seismic Toss while the opponent is hopeless to stop the residual damage as Chansey remains untouched.

This the main core, but the rest of the team has opened itself to some creative options. Pokemon like Reuniclus can use Skill Swap in order to give Chansey Magic Guard which protects it from opposing status ailments. Mime Jr. can use a similar strategy to give Chansey the Soundproof ability making it immune to moves like Roar and Perish Song.

While this team is excellent at stalling the in-game timer, it doesn’t fair too well against the round timer so players who are prepared to beat it should be able to.

It can be beat 

mega gengar chansey pokemon vgc 2018

Here are a few ways that you can tech to beat this strategy if you happen to face it in round one at your next big tournament.

Stopping support moves and stat buffs

Taunt is a move that can be slapped onto a number of Pokemon and can stop both Chansey and its teammates from executing their shenanigans. A lesser used option that had success last year in stopping Eevee teams is Haze which can eliminate all stat changes on the field. Clear Smog works similarly to Haze, but it’s an attack that relies on accuracy and is much less common than Haze.

Sound-based moves

If you’re able to deal with a potential Mime Jr. moves like Roar and Perish Song are solid win conditions against this team. Roar and Perish Song don’t rely on accuracy and can easily phase Chansey out or take it out in three turns as the Perish Song clock slowly winds down.

Brute Force

Like I said previously, Chansey’s base Defense is terrible, which can be exploited early-on to score a quick KO on it. Being a Normal-type, Chansey annoyingly only has one weakness, Fighting. Pokemon with access to a strong Fighting-type attack like Superpower and Close Combat so having a Fighting-type on your team can make this matchup much more difficult for the Chansey player.

While this strategy is a total gimmick, the reason that it is so scary is because that it can win very easily. Many players were not big fans of the timer being shortened to five minutes in the first place and this strategy takes full advantage of it. This team has been terrorizing the online ladder and already won a MidSeason Showdown, so its power is real.

I think I speak for a majority of the community when I say that I would hate to play against this team in a tournament where my hopes for qualifying for the World Championships were on the line. Hopefully with all this new information that exists about this team, players will be prepared to face it, making this strategy just a forgotten blemish in VGC 2018’s early history.

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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Competitive Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon Glitches

How Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s bugs are affecting competitive Pokemon

Despite how complete Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon feel as games, some surprising oversights in their programming have made themselves known through the early weeks of 2018 competition. While the Pokemon Company has been quick to patch out some of these issues, a new glitch involving the move Curse threatens to compromise infrared connection-based tournaments due to its capability to make the game essentially freeze. Let’s take a look at how these glitches have created a rocky start to the 2018 VGC season.

Issue #1: Was Wide Guard buffed?

clangorous soulblaze Competitive Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon Glitches

Surprisingly, many players thought that the issue with Wide Guard was actually a buff. Turns out, it was indeed a glitch.

The move Wide Guard essentially serves as Protect against attacks that do spread-damage. This move has become even more popular this year with the re-introduction of powerful Rock Slides from Landorus and Heat Waves from Charizard, as well as veteran users of the move like Hitmontop and Aegislash. In Pokemon Sun and Moon the move Wide Guard had no interaction with the newly-introduced Z move mechanic, but the addition of a new exclusive Z move to Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon changed everything.

Kommo-o is a Pokemon whose viability shot through the roof after it received its new, exclusive Z move: Clagorous Soulblaze. This Z move was the first of its kind that not only deals spread damage to the opponent, but also boosts all of Kommo-o’s stats by one stage. Wait. A spread-attack Z move? Now Wide Guard needed some alteration, but unfortunately this change extended to the rest of the Z moves out there.

Wide Guard was fixed in Ultra Sun and Moon to act similarly to Protect when the user is hit by a Z move, which reduces the damage taken to 25%. Like I said earlier, this “fix” originally affected all other Z moves too, which made little sense considering that all other Z moves were single target attacks.

Thankfully this issue was patched out before official VGC 2018 tournaments were held; but some players were okay with what looked to be an obvious bug. I guess players liked the idea of Wide Guard being better and thus nerfing Z moves, but this change might’ve been too good. Unlike Protect, Wide Guard is able to be used consecutively without fail, meaning that Wide Guard could be spammed indefinitely in anticipation of your opponent’s Z move.

Regardless on where you stand on the issue, two things are certain: Wide Guard and Kommo-o are still good.

Issue #2: A Curse on QR tournamentscurse pokemon Competitive Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon Glitches

Okay, so this issue goes a bit deeper than just the move Curse.

The seventh generation edition of the Pokemon Global Link introduced the ability to create tournaments using QR codes which function on similar software and connectivity of regional-level and above tournaments. Local tournaments, like Premier Challenges and Midseason Showdowns, have now adopted this mechanic in order to streamline things. But after the first weekend of VGC 2018 many issues became apparent.

 

As of now, the QR code generated tournaments that use IR (infrared) connection are very unstable, and are likely to freeze the game if you switch in the wrong Pokemon or even use a move in the wrong place on the battlefield. The move in question is Curse, and many Snorlax users reported that using Curse when Snorlax is in a particular position on the field will cause the game to freeze where neither player is able to make a move.

But it’s not just Curse though. Apparently differences in system models (old versus new 3DS systems) will cause the same issue if Curse is used like previously mentioned or even if Pokemon are switched in and out.

These tweets from Leonard Craft III (@DaWoblefet) summarizes the whole situation pretty well.

Back to Festival Plaza it is, but this solution can’t work forever.

With the 2018’s first batch of regionals just a couple of weeks away, the urgency of fixing any and all bugs and glitches becomes much greater. The “double freeze” glitch seems to only take place during tournaments using the “Live Competition” mode, which every regional-level and higher tournament uses.

Uh-oh.

Having this issue remain would essentially make tournaments unplayable due to the nature of how game freezes are treated in the rules. If a player using Curse is in a losing position they can pretty much save themselves by causing a game freeze. For now, local organizers should use Festival Plaza and Quick Link which does require a bit of extra work on the part of the TO’s and players, but it’s a temporary fix for now.

I anticipate that Game Freak will release a patch in a comfortable time frame before the first 2018 regional championships, so I don’t think we need to be worried about being cursed for much longer.

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 2018 Common Cores

Common cores to get you started for Pokemon VGC 2018 teambuilding

It’s January which means the 2018 competitive Pokemon season is officially underway. As players prepare for the first big tournaments of the season, some may struggle to learn this vast new format. Fear not, because there already have been a number of high-profile Midseason Showdown tournaments across the world meaning we have a pretty solid idea of what the early 2018 metagame will look like. For those of you still struggling, here are some of the most common cores that have achieved early-season success.

Goodstuffs

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

Basically, using the best Pokemon out there.

For anyone who’s played a national-pokedex format in the past (the 2015 season for example), all of these Pokemon should be very familiar. Mega Kangaskhan may have been beyond nerfed since its glory days, but this Mega Evolution is still a force to be reckoned with. Parental Bond still makes moves like Double Edge and the also nerfed Sucker Punch do massive amounts of damage and can still pick up KO’s left and right. While Kangaskhan has changed from faster builds to much slower and defensive ones, it’s still one of the most versatile Mega Evolutions out there.

Landorus-Therian needs no introduction. Speaking of versatility, Landorus now has an ocean-deep pool of strategies at its disposal. It’s no longer just mindless Rock Slide spam with the Choice Scarf as Landorus players have taken advantage of items like the Assault Vest, Life Orb (for Special-attacking sets) and even various Z Crystals. Landorus is a Pokemon that can be put on a number of teams so it makes sense that it would be on a team with the best.

Cresselia and Heatran have been the bread and butter Trick Room for pretty much every year they’ve been allowed together and for good reason. Cresselia can do a number of things to support Heatran like Skill Swapping Levitate onto it, giving it Helping Hand boosts, and most importantly, setting up Trick Room. Heatran is another Pokemon that has taken advantage of Z moves as it boasts a very powerful Inferno Overdrive. Still, the typical set using Substitute and Leftovers can work quite well too.

The supporting cast

For the first time in a while the goodstuffs archetype has seen many significant new additions to its repertoire. Tapu Fini has remained relevant in 2018 especially after being given access to the Move Tutor-exclusive move Icy Wind. This allows Tapu Fini to play a much better support role, but an offensive build using Choice Specs can also work effectively with this team.

With the fall of Thundurus, Zapdos has swooped into the spotlight as the format’s premier Electric-type. Zapdos actually has really good synergy with Tapu Fini with the introduction of the Misty Seed, raising its Special Defense after it enters Misty Terrain. Oh yeah, Tailwind is pretty good too.

Volcarona is a Pokemon that has picked up a lot of popularity recently as a Fire-type substitute for Heatran. Volcarona also really likes Firium Z and can sweep through an opponent’s team after a couple Quiver Dances.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-AE02-4C18

Rain

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

If you thought Rain was scary in 2017, it’s gotten a whole lot scarier.

Rain players rejoice as you now have Politoed and a much better selection of Swift Swim Pokemon. Why is Politoed better than Pelipper? Well players seem to prefer it for its bulk and versatility over Pelipper’s frailness and limited usability. Pelipper still finds use on more hyper offense teams while Politoed’s bulk is preferred for balanced and defensive teams.

The main thing that makes Rain so much better in 2018 is the amount of better Swift Swim Pokemon there are available. Ludicolo is pretty much a staple on Rain teams as its Grass-type coverage is invaluable in assuring that the Rain lead won’t get walled by either Gastrodon or other bulky Water-types. Fake Out is also great for disrupting the opponent, allowing Ludicolo’s partner a turn to support or get off big damage.

Mega Swampert is ironically one of the least popular Mega Evolutions for the Rain archetypes despite it having access to the Swift Swim ability. Good Swift Swim Pokemon exist outside of Ludicolo, but Ludicolo’s value to the Rain archetype makes it nearly staple on all Rain teams and many players don’t want to add many other Water-types outside of their Rain duo. However, Mega Swampert and lesser used Swift Swimmers like Kingdra are still viable, and definitely can help form more dedicated Rain teams.

The supporting cast

Steel-types are the typical first-stop for Rain teams as Steel-types appreciate the nerf to Fire-type attacks. Ferrothorn is especially good and weakened Fire-types makes Ferrothorn much harder to deal with. Aegislash is another option, but Aegislash commonly holds a Z Crystal which many players like to reserve for their Rain sweepers.

Tapu Bulu and Tapu Koko are the most popular Island Guardians. Tapu Koko enjoys spamming 100% accurate Thunder’s under Electric Terrain and its natural speed makes it a huge offensive threat. Tapu Bulu favors more control-centered Rain teams which players have been combining with the Gothtielle/Mawile core (which we’ll get to).

Example team 

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-3EF8-4C58

Mega Charizard Y/Landorus-Therian/Cresselia

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

While you could call this a “Sun” team, Charizard is really the only one who benefits from the Sun directly.

This core really focuses on the Charizard/Landorus combo as this high-power pair has excellent coverage and a lot of combined damage output. Mega Charizard Y is better on the Special Defense side so Landorus’ Intimidate helps Charizard handle physical attacks much better. Landorus likes being paired with two Pokemon that are off of the ground as this allows relatively free Earthquake spam. Cresselia basically gives this team a Trick Room option, but Cresselia’s bulk is helped by Landorus’ Intimidate. Cresselia’s access to Ice Beam helps against opposing Landorus.

Basically, these three cover each other really well and allow the team to branch in a number of directions. That’s the interesting thing about Mega Charizard Y teams, they don’t have to conform to being Sun teams and can be very diverse as a result.

The supporting cast

Honestly, three out of the four Island Guardians (sorry Fini) work well on Mega Charizard Y teams. Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele favor more offensive team compositions while Tapu Bulu, again, really supports more defensive play. Tapu Bulu and Tapu Koko are preferred since they help deal with Water-types which Charizard can hate going against without the Sun.

Wide Guard is almost a must-have in order to stop Charizard from getting hit by Rock Slide. Aegislash is fairly common as these teams appreciate both the Ghost and Steel-type attack coverage, but Stakataka is also a great option which can add to a team’s Trick Room mode.

Lastly, Fighting-types are common teammates as they help mainly against Tyranitar, which can get rid of the Sun thanks to Sand Stream. This slot has a lot of fun options like Hitmontop who can also use Wide Guard and give your team another Intimidate user. Thanks to its new Z Move, Kommo-o has become much more viable and a lot of players have noticed some great synergy with Mega Charizard Y.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-FDD8-4079

Mega Metagross/Tapu Lele/Hydreigon

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

When previewing Mega Metagross for the 2018 format, I mentioned how strong the Mega Metagross and Tapu Lele combo is, and players have noticed. Psychic Terrain, Tough Claws boosted Zen Headbutt coming off of Mega Metagross’ base 145 Attack stat can OHKO a lot of the metagame; but the shaky accuracy of Zen Headbutt always makes it a high-risk/high-reward play.

Tapu Lele is known for damage and it still does a lot. Tapu Lele is mainly here for Psychic Terrain as the terrain not only boosts the power of the team’s Psychic-type attacks but also protects the team from priority moves.

Finally, Hydreigon completes the Fairy/Steel/Dragon core and provides valuable Dark-type coverage for the two Psychic-types. Having Hydreigon allows Metagross and Tapu Lele to have a switch-in for the inevitable Aegislash encounter which Hydregion is able to deal with rather easily.

These three form a fairly offensive core that looks to score KO’s fast. They can be rounded out with either more offensive Pokemon or some more defensive and supportive ones to maintain the consistent damage output.

The supporting cast

Some players have been substituting Hydreigon for Tyranitar, which does break apart the Fairy/Steel/Dragon core, but shows that maybe the Dark-type coverage is more valuable than Dragon-type synergy. As mentioned previously, Metagross and Tapu Lele struggle versus Aegislash and other Ghost-types, so having a powerful Dark-type attacker is important for this team.

Amoonguss has also become common on these teams which may play into the more support-oriented supporting cast. Amoonguss works well with Tapu Lele as Psychic Terrain is able to override the Sleep-preventing Electric and Misty Terrains. Amoonguss can also redirect attacks away from damage-dealing teammates with Rage Powder.

Zapdos also works here with Psychic Seed over Misty Seed to reconstruct the threatening Tapu Lele plus Tailwind combo. Plus, Zapdos gives you a way of hitting Water-types, mainly Tapu Fini which can easily get rid of Psychic Terrain.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-4A8D-B6EC

Gothitelle/Mega Mawile (aka GothMaw)

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

A duo that was hyped up long before the 2018 season began, GothMaw has proven itself as a threat. This duo focuses on trapping your opponent’s Pokemon with Shadow Tag while Mega Mawile feasts under Trick Room. Gothitelle can support Mawile with Helping Hand and Heal Pulse while Mega Mawile pretty much sweeps by itself. Players usually combine Intimidate, Fake Out and even weather in order to disrupt any and all team compositions.

Trap and sweep is the name of the game with these two, and this combo is becoming increasingly popular just because of how consistent it can be.

The supporting cast

When I mention weather, Rain is the one players usually opt for. This is mainly for two reasons. One, Gothitelle can easily trap a Mega Charizard Y and switch in Politoed making Charizard essentially useless. And two, Politoed has access to Perish Song which can give this team a Perish Trap mode as well. Also with Mawile being a Steel-type, weakening Fire-type damage helps it a lot.

Tapu Bulu has been the go-to Guardian for these teams (especially with the Rain modes) because Tapu Bulu fits well with the controlling nature of the team. Grassy Terrain helps heal the team and can disrupt opposing Terrains while Gothitelle traps the poor Tapu. Like Mega Mawile, Tapu Bulu is another Pokemon that can deal massive damage and can easily sweep while Gothitelle traps the opponent’s Pokemon.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-7E9F-4522

(I know that this is the third team with a Rain mode, but Rain is really popular right now so you’ll be seeing it a lot)

Now that you have some basic cores to start teambuilding, get out there and start practicing for the new season. While these are the most common cores out there, there are still a ton of unexplored Pokemon and strategies that are waiting to break the metagame. With the first big tournaments of the season coming up, we’ll just have to wait and see which core proves to be the best.

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 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 hot takes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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 san jose regional championships

VGC 2018 San Jose Regional Championships recap

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

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Jirawiwat Thitasiri

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

2. Emilio Forbes

3. Rene Alvarenga

4. Matthew Greaves

f:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221113p:plainAlola Form

5. Karim Dabliz

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

6. Patrick Smith

7. Mitchell Davies

Alola Form

8. Sam Pandelis

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

International impact

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

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

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

Travel awards decided

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

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

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

Just like old times

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

A competitive guide to Blacephalon (UB Burst)

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

Stats and typing

FireGhost

Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

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

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

Movepool

Learned by level-up

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

Learned by TM/HM

Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

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

Learned via move tutor

 heahea beach pokemon Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

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

Potential held items

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

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

Life Orb Life Orb Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

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

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

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

Checks and counters

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

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

Heatranheatran Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

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

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

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

Viable teammates

Tapu Lele tapu lele Pokemon VGC 2018 Blacephalon UB Burst Guide

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

Speed control (Tailwind or Icy Wind)

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

Will Blacephalon really blow our minds?

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


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

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

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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]

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

5. Lorenzo Semeraro [ITA]

6. Jamie Dixon [GBR]

7. Davide Carrer [ITA]

8. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]

f:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221113p:plain

 

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 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)

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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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!


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