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!


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Pokemon 2018 season announced: The most important changes

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

World Championship qualification bar 

Pokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

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

Removal of BFL for Regional and International Championships

Pokemon 2018 season announcedPokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

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

Improved prize money payouts

Pokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

Speaking of which…

A ton of events announced already

Pokemon 2018 season announced

Image thanks to @PokeStats_TCG on Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

So this is the 2018 format?

Pokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

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

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

The official announcement for the 2018 season:

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

Overview of 2018 season:

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

Pokemon.com’s Official Tournament Locator

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

Information on each of the tournament levels:

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

Updated Rules Documents (thanks @ParanoidOddish on Twitter) 

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

Forum post on @TrainerTower discussing the 2018 season announcement

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

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

  • https://twitter.com/JenBamo

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