vgc 2018 oceania international championships

Italy takes another International – VGC 2018 Oceania International Championships recap

The nation of Italy adds yet another International Championship title thanks to an impressive run from Alessio Yuri Boschetto. With this win under his belt, Boschetto is now the global leader in Championship Points at 1377. There was a lot of great action from Syndey including some great sets, Rock Slide flinches and off-meta Pokemon making it to Top 8 and beyond. But first, here are your results and teams from the land down under.

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Alessio Yuri Boschetto [ITA]

Mega MetagrossMega TyranitarTapu LeleLandorus (Therian)ZapdosAmoonguss

2. Jans Arne Mækinen [NOR]

Mega MetagrossLandorus (Therian)TyranitarRotom (Wash Rotom)TogekissNidoking

3. Isaac Lam [NZ]

Mega GyaradosLandorus (Therian)Tapu KokoCresseliaIncineroarTsareena

4. Ashton Cox [USA]

Mega SalamenceTapu KokoTapu FiniAegislashAmoongussTyranitar

5. Alberto Lara [USA]

File:Mega Charizard Y.pngCresseliaLandorus (Therian)CelesteelaGothitelleSnorlax

6. Nico Davide Cognetta [ITA]

Mega GengarCresseliaHeatranTapu BuluHitmontopKommo-o

7. Javier Valdes [CHI]

Mega MetagrossNihilegoScraftyGastrodon (West Sea)VolcaronaWeavile

8. Luke Curtale [AUS]

Mega MetagrossMega TyranitarTapu FiniLandorus (Therian)AmoongussZapdos

Metagame highlights

Nidoking: We’ll start off with the Pokemon that made it the farthest. Nidoking is an off-meta choice I’ve had my eyes on ever since it was allowed back into the VGC metagame. While it suffers from a painfully awkward Speed-tier, it excels in how much damage it can deal. Sheer Force is an amazing ability which boosts the power of moves that have secondary effects, in exchange for those effects not ever activating. This allows Nidoking to deal tons of damage with attacks like Sludge Bomb, Earth Power and Ice Beam which Jens Arne Mækinen used on his Nidoking’s move set. These three moves provide excellent coverage against the metagame, making Nidoking a terrifying opponent for the Island Guardians, Heatran and even Landorus.

Tsareena: This is a Pokemon no one expected to come back. After winning the Japanese National Championships back in 2017, Tsareena once again faded into obscurity. Isaac Lam, despite his public dislike for Tsareena, took this Pokemon back to the top.

Despite being rather weak, Tsareena has some great tricks to take advantage of. Tsareena’s signature move, Trop Kick, guarantees an Attack drop on the target which makes it a pretty spam-able move against the plethora of physical attackers. Feint is a move that Isaac Lam made very good use of, being able to break opposing Protect. This allowed his Mega Gyarados and Tapu Koko to score big KO’s if Lam’s opponent decided to go on the defense. Oh, and Tsareena’s ability Queenly Majesty blocking priority moves is nice, although priority hasn’t been as popular since Tapu Lele came around.

Weavile/Nihilego: Javier Valdes often led this duo which is why I’m putting them together. Valdes’ Weavile was carrying Life Orb rather than a Focus Sash which made Weavile much more prone to being KO’ed, but gave it a big damage boost. Even Weavile’s Fake Out was doing a lot more damage, but the combination of Ice Punch and Knock Off is probably what Valdes valued in his selection of Weavile.

Nihilego stuck to its main role as a Special sweeper, but it was finally revealed in Valdes’ Top 8 set versus Ashton Cox that Nihilego was holding an Adrenaline Orb. When Cox led with his Salamence, the Intimidate gave Nihilego a boost in speed which explains why Valdes’ Nihilego was slower than a Tapu Lele we saw in an earlier stream match. Adrenaline Orb makes sense considering how Nihilego’s Speed has become more average with many more faster Pokemon being introduced into the metagame. Without having to worry about investing into its Speed stat while holding an Adrenaline Orb, more can be invested into Nihilego’s bulk which suffers heavily on the physical side.

A good tournament for Rock Slide

vgc 2018 oceania international championships

The clutch double flinch from Boschetto visibly upsets Cox.

No move generates more hype and simultaneous disgust than Rock Slide. That 30% chance to flinch the opponent’s Pokemon can be game-deciding, and no one knows that better than this tournament’s champion. Alessio Yuri Boschetto experienced both the good and bad side of Rock Slide with both instances deciding sets. Our first instance came in Swiss Round 4 where Boschetto was matched up against fellow countrymen and defending European International Champion, Simone Sanvito. Boschetto and Sanvito were running nearly identical teams making the set an intense back and forth between two of the world’s finest players.

Game 2 came down to a Landorus/Zapdos mirror match where luck with Rock Slide would decide the game. Sanvito had only Landorus left against Boschetto’s Choice Scarf Landorus and healthy Zapdos. Sanvito’s Landorus dodges a Rock Slide while Boschetto’s Zapdos uses Roost, allowing Snavito’s Landorus to score the KO on Boschetto’s. With Boschetto’s Tailwind gone, it came down to Sanvito’s Landorus at 20 HP versus a Zapdos at nearly half of its HP. With the speed advantage, Sanvito connects his first Rock Slide but doesn’t flinch. Instead, Boschetto’s Zapdos misses a Heat Wave which all but sealed the game up for Sanvito. This would be Boschetto’s first and only loss throughout the tournament.

As you know by now, things eventually went well for Boschetto, as the RNG gods smiled in his favor in his Top 4 set against Ashton Cox. In game three, Cox had the advantage with his Amoonguss and Aegislash (with a Mega Salamence in the back) against Boschetto’s Landorus and Zapdos. Boschetto needed a double flinch in order to prevent either Amoonguss putting his Zapdos to sleep or Aegislash KO’ing his Zapdos. Boschetto got the double flinch. There was still a speck of hope for Cox, but another Rock Slide flinch on his Aegislash allowed Boschetto to set up Tailwind, sealing up the game from there.

Later, Boschetto admitted on Twitter that Cox had outplayed him and that the flinches were necessary for his victory. Look, you can hate on the fact that Boschetto got that lucky in such a crucial moment, but hey, it’s Pokemon. My only question is: why wasn’t anyone using Wide Guard?

The two biggest things that we learned from Sydney were 1) Italy is yet again the force to be reckoned with and 2) Rock Slide is busted. We also learned a lot more about the potential diversity of the VGC 2018 metagame, and why you should be using Mega Metagross if you want to win tournaments. In all seriousness though, congratulations to Alessio Yuri Boschetto for his big win in what was such an exciting tournament to watch. Rock Slide flinches and all. Tournament season continues next weekend where we’ll have coverage from two major regionals in Collinsville, IL and Malmo, Sweden.

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 Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokemon Shuffle, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

Teams data collected/provided by Nicholas Borghi and Trainer Tower

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vgc 2018 leipzing regionals dreamhack

From Mega Metagross to… FLORGES?: VGC 2018 Leipzig Regional Championships recap

Pokemon returned to Dreamhack this year with yet another regional championship being held within this prestigious gaming event. Again, there wasn’t any streamed coverage which still puzzles me along with many other members of the community. Still, this event is significant as it was the first 2018 regional over in Europe, giving us valuable insight into what the metagame is looking like across the pond. Let’s see what strategies players in Europe are finding success with in the early 2018 metagame.

Results and Teams (Top 8)

1. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]


2. Markus Stadter [GER]

3.Maxime Muller [FRA]


4. Alex Gomez [ESP][​IMG][​IMG]

5. Nemanja Sandic [GER]


6. Luca Lussignoli [ITA]


7. Ben Kyriakou [GBR]


8. Serkan Tas [GER]


Metagame Highlights As expected, Tyranitar was just as big in Leipzig as it was over in Dallas, with four out of the eight teams here looking nearly identical. While Serkan Tas caught on to the Porygon2 plus Tyranitar hype, many stuck with the more standard Tyranitar plus Amoonguss combination with some players choosing to use the Mega Stone on their Tyranitar. While many of these teams using Tyranitar look alike, there is still something to be said about Tyranitar’s versatility in this new metagame. There’s a Dragon Dance set using Mega Tyranitar, a Trick Room sweeper variant with Porygon2 and even just using normal Tyranitar can still be effective. This Pokemon is good (I mean we’ve known that for almost 18 years now), but Tyranitar is cementing itself as a metagame staple early-on.

[​IMG]Mega Kangaskhan: Boy, have the times changed. If this were two, three, even four years ago Mega Kangaskhan would’ve likely had most of these Top Cut placings. In 2018, there was just ONE Kangaskhan player in the combined Top 24 between Leipzig and Dallas. Does this mean Kangaskhan is bad? No. But she’s definitely fallen down a couple pegs since her massive nerf in Pokemon Sun and Moon. I still think Kangaskhan is a Top 5 Mega Evolution in this format, but it might take a couple more tournaments to see her truly shine. Kartana is all the rage now considering its plethora of options thanks to the Move Tutor. As the metagame’s most popular Ultra Beast right now, Kartana is looking like a Pokemon that can be slapped on a number of different archetypes. There are reasons for this being that Kartana a) has excellent coverage combined with its insanely high Attack stat b) has access to a fast Tailwind and c) has Sacred Sword in order to counter the Chansey evasion boost strategy. Anti-gimmick with both offensive and support capabilities? Kartana looks like the complete package.

[​IMG]Mega Metagross: I would say that Mega Metagross and Mega Charizard Y are the most popular Mega Evolutions right now, with Metagross having the better showing in Leipzig as opposed to Dallas’ Charizard-dominated Top Cut. Interestingly, it seems that European players favor partnering Tapu Lele (and apparently Tapu Koko) with Metagross as opposed to the more standard option of Tapu Fini. When you see Metagross and Tapu Lele you immediately think offense as Metagross variants will often forgo coverage options like Stomping Tantrum or Ice Punch in favor of the more powerful, yet risky Zen Headbutt. Aside from that, the rest of the team is basically the same with the only real difference being Psychic Seed over Misty Seed on Zapdos if they’re not running Electrium Z. This is an archetype you should be prepared for, as both Leipzig and Dallas have clearly shown its dominance.

Mega Gengar & Friends: I want to talk about Markus Stadter’s team mainly because I feel like we haven’t touched on the anti-meta tilt machine that is Mega Gengar. This standard team composition has a ton of different modes that all capitalize on Mega Gengar’s Shadow Tag ability which traps both of the opponent’s Pokemon. Mega Gengar and Whimsicott is especially notorious for threatening the infamous Encore+Disable combo or being able to threaten a KO on pretty much anything with a combination of Fake Tears from Whimsicott into a Sludge Bomb or Shadow Ball from Mega Gengar. Tapu Bulu is usually seen on these teams as it is the best Tapu for control-esque teams and it does well to support Stadter’s Heatran. Kommo-o is a Pokemon we didn’t see at all in Dallas, but it seems to be finding itself a home on teams with Mega Gengar. Kommo-o often relies on its signature Z Move, Clangorous Soulblaze, as a means of turning Kommo-o into a threat and Mega Gengar’s trapping ability make it so the opponent cannot switch defensively into this powerful Z move. This is a team composition I would watch out for because I think it’s only a matter of time before this team starts appearing more often. Gyarados: Hey its the only other Mega Evolution besides Kangaskhan and Rayquaza to win a World Championship in the Masters division. Mega Gyarados is another example of an off-meta Mega Evolution that has some serious potential. What’s interesting here is that Alex Gomez decided to use Mega Gyarados without any sort of redirection support (insert Pachirisu joke here). But seriously, Mega Gyarados is known for its potency as a Dragon Dance sweeper, so it often relies on that redirection to send attacks away from it as it sets up. Well if Tyranitar has shown us anything is that powerful Dark-type attackers are great right now, and Mega Gyarados is a similarly threatening sweeper.

Greninja: While this frog has dominated the single battle metagame it hasn’t had the biggest impact in VGC. While we don’t know Nemanja Sandic’s exact strategy when it comes to Greninja, I can say for certain that there are a lot of options for this Pokemon. With its Protean ability, Greninja can change into pretty much any type which has benefits on both the offensive and defensive side. On the offensive, this gives Greninja the same type attack bonus (STAB) for every single attack which makes its coverage options like Ice Beam, Gunk Shot, Low Kick and even Rock Slide do much more damage. While mainly known for its offense, Greninja has some great support options like Mat Block that acts as a protective barrier for both Pokemon on your side of the field. Greninja is an interesting choice for sure, and I think it has a lot of potential if your team is looking for a sixth member to cover a plethora of weaknesses.

Florges: This is certainly a new one. Well… Not exactly for Ben Kyriakou. Anyone remember Kyriakou’s 2014 World Championship Top 16 team? Kyriakou definitely has experience with this pseudo Grass-type Pokemon, and it looks like he’s brought his old strategy back with a modern twist. The reason I call Florges a pseudo Grass-type is that despite being a Fairy-type, this Pokemon can do a lot to support Grass-type Pokemon. Florges has a rather unique ability called Flower Veil which prevents a Grass-type partner Pokemon from having it stats lowered or being affected by status conditions. So this means Kyriakou’s Kartana can’t be burned, paralyzed or affected by Intimidate while Florges is on the field. While I don’t this this strategy will become a common thing, I am certainly a fan.

Well that just about wraps up our week one regional championship coverage for VGC 2018. We saw a number of different strategies from teams that will define the metagame to others that were just crazy enough to work. This metagame has a ton of potential, and I, like many others, are beyond excited for the Oceania International Championships where all of these amazing strategies will converge in what’s sure to be an amazing tournament. Now if we could only fix the game freeze problem…

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 Ultra Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

Featured image from Dreamhack Leipzig’s official site

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

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

vgc 2018 dallas regionals

A hot start halted by freezes: VGC 2018 Dallas Regional Championship recap

The first regional championship weekend for the 2018 season was packed with action from both Dallas, Texas and Leipzig, Germany. Today we’ll be focusing on Dallas, a regional with over 300 Masters and a Top 16 Cut, a first for a VGC regional in quite a while. With Dallas being such a big tournament, expectations were high, and there were a bunch of story lines both good and bad. Players and spectators alike got their first look at what the 2018 metagame looks like at the top level, and the amount of variety in teambuilding was vast. Unfortunately, there is bad news, as the infamous “double game freeze glitch” plagued a number of sets throughout the weekend with even some showing up on stream. We’ll cover it all, but first let’s look at the Top 16 players and teams from Dallas.

Results & teams (Top 16)

1. Cedric Bernier


2. Chuppa Cross 


3. Carson Confer


4. Sam O’Dell


5. Blake Hopper


6. Mitchell Davies

7. Jakob Swilley


8. Ryan Tan


9. Brendan Zheng


10. Adrian Singler


11. Israel Ramirez


12. Hugo Cortez


13. Alvin Hidayat


14. Christian Ramirez lira


15. Noah Stern


16. Jake Muller


Metagame highlights Everyone’s favorite sand-setting dinosaur has undergone quite the change in the 2018 format. It appears the days of Choice Scarf are long gone for Tyranitar as players are finding new ways to alter its speed. We saw players like Chuppa Cross and Blake Hopper opt for Tyranitar’s Mega Evolution with a moveset using Dragon Dance to capitalize on Tyranitar’s amazing Mega Evolved stats. Then there was the dynamic duo of Porygon2 and Tyranitar which functioned a lot like Porygon2 and Gigalith from last year, a Trick Room duo that can deal big damage. Both of these variants composed three out of the four Top 4 teams, establishing Tyranitar as a versatile force to be reckoned with.

[​IMG]Porygon2: Move aside Cresselia, there’s a new floating duck ready to take your job. Astonishingly, Porygon2 had greater usage in Dallas than Cresselia which would’ve been unheard of in years past. Porygon2 functions very similarly to Cresselia as it is a Trick Room setter with access to Ice Beam, but something tells me Porygon2 will have the edge this year. Pokemon like Tyranitar, Aegislash and Scrafty are everywhere making the Psychic type a lot less desirable. Porygon2 is a Normal-type and its only weakness in Fighting-types have seen a dramatic drop in usage since the introduction of Fairy-types in the metagame. Porygon2 also has better attacking coverage with access to Thunderbolt as well as Ice Beam and a great ability in Download which can boost its Special Attack. I think it’s time for the resurgence of Fighting-types, or else Porygon2 will reign over this format for a long time.

Mega Latias: I initially thought that Mega Latias was going to be the breakout star for this tournament, but the Top 16 results said otherwise. After scoring two impressive on-stream wins in the hands of Brian Youm and Chris Danzo, many viewers were hyped for the potential of Latias in the later rounds of Dallas. Unfortunately, Latias fizzled out, but potential as a Calm Mind sweeper still remains strong.

Mega Blastoise/Hawlucha/Xurkitree: Basically Sam O’Dell’s team. This team brought back memories of the Tailwind plus Tapu Lele teams from last year, but now Tapu Lele has some new support tools (and apparently sweepers) at its disposal. Hawlucha, much like Drifblim, has the Unburden ability which doubles the users speed stat when its hold item is consumed (in this case it would be the Psychic Seed). Despite being known for its offensive presence, Hawlucha gets access to great support moves like Encore, Taunt and Feather Dance.

With its Mega Launcher ability, moves like Dark Pulse and Water Pulse do a ton of damage from Mega Blastoise. The focus of this team was for Hawlucha to set up Tailwind in order to bring in Blastoise so that it could spam a powerful Water Spout. Pretty much a better version of that Wailord gimmick from last year. Xurkitree resorted to its bread and butter which was come in under Tailwind, maybe set up a Tail Glow and start racking up Beast Boosts after each KO.

Mega Camerupt/Reuniclus/Staraptor: Welcome to Hard Trick Room: VGC 2018 edition. Mega Camerupt, despite being an amazing Trick Room sweeper, has never really had a break out performance, but players like Mitchell Davies and Drew Nowak were looking to change that. Reuniclus was an interesting option for a Trick Room setter as both Davies and Nowak opted for Psychium Z and Z Trick Room. Z Trick Room gives the user an accuracy boost which means a more accurate Hypnosis. Staraptor is a notable user of Final Gambit, a move that sacrifices the user in order to deal its HP in damage to the target. This combined with Intimidate, makes Staraptor a great lead and usually leads to pretty guaranteed Trick Room set up.

Mega Steelix: Probably one of the most disappointing debut’s was Wolfe Glicke’s Mega Steelix. Glicke’s performance was by no means disappointing as he finished with a 7-2 record in the Top 32, but his Steelix did not do well in its streamed match against Chris Danzo. The Mega Steelix team aims to set up Steelix with both Trick Room and Sandstorm, giving Steelix speed and power in order to deal massive damage. Unfortunately, Mega Steelix had a poor matchup against Danzo’s Mega Latias team, and Steelix’s one game in that set reinforced this fact. Props have to be given to Danzo who played amazingly during the set, and it’s one that I recommend watching if you haven’t seen it.

Chansey: Yes Chansey was in Dallas, but unfortunately had a rough go on stream. I’m not going to bash Chansey players as even though I hate this strategy, if it’s something that you enjoy playing and winning games with then go ahead. My problem is putting this team on stream. Chuppa Cross knew how to beat this team, and despite the 50 minutes of nothing that happened he had the crowd hyped to take down Chansey. Stalling out the round timer meant the end for Jeremy Rodrigues and his Chansey squad, and viewers rejoiced at his defeat. Like I said, bring Chansey if you want, but tournament organizers please do not stream Chansey games for the sake of your viewing audience.

The freezes continue

Surprise, surprise the double game freeze glitch devastated Dallas regionals after TPCI’s move ban a few days prior. This only proves that it’s the IR connection or Live Competition mode that is responsible, which means all future tournaments are at risk for disaster. Seeing this happen on stream was utterly embarrassing as viewers were essentially watching a tournament being played on a broken game. Imagine paying money for travel and admission cost just to have your tournament run ruined by a glitch that you are powerless to stop. The 2018 format’s first International in Sydney, Australia is two weeks away, which should bring a flooring of the gas pedal for this 1.2 patch.

That’s it from Dallas, but our recap from Leipzig is on its way. VGC 2018 is off to a strong start, but it hasn’t quite reached its full potential. The metagame and tournament play was exciting to watch, but these freezes are going to kill interest in the game if they’re not fixed.

I’m speaking for the entire community when I say get it together TPCI. We need this patch. Now.

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 Ultra 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

entei vgc 2018

Entei spits Sacred Fire! – VGC 2018 – The underrated list

One of the biggest improvements in 2018 over the 2017 format is the plethora of new Fire-type Pokemon at players’ disposal. VGC 2017 was a metagame starved of viable Fire-types, and with an entire Pokedex to work with, Arcanine is nearly drowned out. Many players have been going with the typical choices like Heatran or Volcarona, but like I said we have an entire Pokedex to work with. This Fire-type comes from a trio you wouldn’t expect to see more than one member used successfully.

Suicune is usually the sole representative of the legendary beast trio, but we’re here to talk about its volcanic brother: Entei. Entei had some viable placings in the 2015 format, but it’s usually not a player’s first choice when picking a Fire-type. I’m here to make a case for Entei, and how its role on a team can be valuable for many matchups in the 2018 metagame.

Stats & Typing

Fire entei vgc 2018

entei vgc 2018

Being basically a legendary Pokemon, it’s no surprise that Entei’s stats are solid all-around. Entei’s stats place it in the role of a physical attacker that can choose to focus on speed or bulk. It can speed-tie with Charizard and it out-speeds Pokemon like Landorus-Therian making Entei a great pick against Sun-based teams. While Entei’s Special Attack isn’t too shabby, you’ll likely want to focus on the physical side for reasons we’ll get to later.

As a pure Fire-type, Entei is weak to many common attacking types, especially attacking types with strong spread attacks like Earthquake and Rock Slide. Without access to its Hidden Ability Flash Fire or any ability that’s better than Pressure, Entei is sort of stuck with its unfortunate weaknesses. However, Fire-types are actually pretty valuable in the early VGC 2018 metagame with the abundance of Grass and Steel-types. Entei’s type coverage also gives it ways to deal with opposing Fire-types making it a solid check to other popular Fire Pokemon like Heatran.


Entei’s movepool is infamous for being shallow, but it has recently gotten access to moves that have helped its type coverage immensely.

Learned by level-up

  • Sacred Fire: By far the most useful move in Entei’s arsenal is Sacred Fire, which was a move previously exclusive to Ho-oh. Sacred Fire has a 50% chance to burn the target and is a base 100 power physical Fire-type attack. This move does have low PP and doesn’t have 100% accuracy, but this attack will be Entei’s main means of damage output.
  • Eruption/Lava Plume: Some cool Special Fire-type attacks Entei gets, but you’re better off using Sacred Fire.

Learned by TM

  • Roar: The move infamous for allowing Entei to flee as a roaming legendary actually has some competitive viability as well. Roar can be used to phase out Trick Room setters or set-up reliant Pokemon like Snorlax.
  • Flame Charge: Another Physical Fire attack that can make Entei just a bit quicker.
  • Will-O-Wisp: If you’re looking for a more supportive move for Entei that has a better chance of burning a foe, Will-O-Wisp is a good choice. Personally, I’m not really a fan of Will-O-Wisp on Entei mainly because Sacred Fire is right there.
  • Stone Edge: Remember how I said Entei was good against Volcarona and Charizard? Well here’s your way of one-hit-KO’ing both of them.
  • Bulldoze: One of two Ground-type options Entei has that aren’t Earthquake. You can lower your opponent’s speed, but you’ll lose out on a lot of damage. If you’re looking for support, go with Bulldoze, but if you want damage stay tuned.
  • Substitute: As a Pokemon with many great matchups, Entei forces a lot of Protects, switches and double targets onto it. Substitute is a great way to capitalize on your opponent’s defensive plays and protect Entei from those attempted double targets.
  • Snarl: I’d consider Snarl the perfect fourth move for Entei if you decide to give it an Assault Vest or just don’t run Protect. Snarl can cripple powerful Special attackers which Entei can struggle with at times, and disrupting your opponent’s damage output can help the rest of your team as well.

Learned by Move Tutor

  • Iron Head/Tail: Entei doesn’t really need Steel-type coverage, but the option is there.
  • Stomping Tantrum: Finally a decent Ground-type attack for Entei. This is your way of KO’ing Heatran and dealing with other grounded Fire, Poison and Rock-types.

Potential held items

Firium ZFirium Z: Entei has a high attack stat and a powerful Inferno Overdrive off of Sacred Fire. If your Entei build is all about damage, consider this Z Crystal.

TagMago.png“Pinch” Berry: Mago, Figy and Aguav Berries are all great items to get Entei’s health back in a pinch. Entei’s bulk is good enough to make use of an item like this, almost making it like a 2017 Arcanine.

Assault VestAssault Vest: Entei’s Special Defense is its worst stat and the Assault Vest not only helps it, but also promotes Entei’s strong attack stat. I know I said Entei’s movepool isn’t that great, but there’s definitely enough in its arsenal for a solid four move set.

Checks & counters

Landorus-TherianImage result for landorus there entei vgc 2018

Entei doesn’t like Intimidate, Earthquake or Rock Slide making Landorus a hard matchup for it. Luckily Landorus is unaffected by Terrain effects so Sacred Fire will always be able to burn it. Also Entei (most of the time) will have the speed advantage making it even more likely for Landorus to get burned.

Water-types Image result for suicune entei vgc 2018

Rain, Tapu Fini and Suicune are the notable examples that hard counter Entei. Entei has absolutely nothing to hit Water-types super-effectively and can really only use Snarl to decrease damage onto it.

Strong Special AttackersImage result for tapu lele entei vgc 2018

Unless you’re using an Assault Vest, Entei will struggle taking Special hits. Strong special hits such as Tapu Lele’s Psychic, Tapu Koko’s Gigavolt Havoc and Hydreigon’s Draco Meteor are not good news for Entei despite how bulky you build it.

Good teammates

Bulky Water-typesImage result for tapu fini entei vgc 2018

This is mainly due to the fact that pairing Entei with a Water-type is two thirds of a Fire/Water/Grass core and Entei can deal with Grass and even some Electric types that threaten a Water-type partner.

Mega SalamenceImage result for mega salamence entei vgc 2018

As a Dragon-type, Salamence benefits from Entei’s ability to deal with Ice and Steel-types while also being a switch-in for Ice and Fairy attacks.

Mega MetagrossImage result for mega metagross entei vgc 2018

This pair might hate Landorus, but Entei can help a Metagross team a lot by dealing with opposing Charizard teams. Entei has the coverage to deal with most Fire-types making it a great teammate for any Steel-type.

So why use Entei?

entei gif entei vgc 2018

Entei is the non-conventional Fire-type that you’ve been looking for. This literal beast has great stats, a serviceable move pool and can help a team against many common matchups in the metagame. It may not have access to a great ability or some of its better attacking moves, but Sacred Fire pretty much makes up for all of Entei’s shortcomings in its movepool. Entei has potential, and I assure you that it is more than capable of giving a team the heat it needs to make an excellent tournament run.

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 Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, The Pokemon Anime/Movies, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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! 

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pokemon vgc 2018 san jose regional championships

VGC 2018 San Jose Regional Championships recap

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

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Jirawiwat Thitasiri

Alola Form

2. Emilio Forbes

3. Rene Alvarenga

4. Matthew Greaves

f:id:Yuuichi_u1:20170619221113p:plainAlola Form

5. Karim Dabliz

Alola Form

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


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.


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]


2. Alex Gomez [ESP]

3. Carson Confer [USA]

4. Davide Cauteruccio [ITA]

5. Lorenzo Semeraro [ITA]

6. Jamie Dixon [GBR]

7. Davide Carrer [ITA]

8. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]



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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