Ashton Cox’s Lucky Pineapple: VGC 2017 Latin America International Championships Recap

Ashton Cox is your first ever Latin America International Champion for Pokémon VGC, thanks to a lucky pineapple. Yes, you read that right. A pineapple.

Aside from Cox’s innovative good luck charm, he played an impressive finals set in the face of a dominating Game 1 win from his opponent. With some controversial, lucky critical hits going his way in Game 3, Cox took Torkoal and Lilligant to their first major win of the season. There’s a lot more to discuss from São Paulo, but let’s first take a look at the Top 8 results.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Ashton Cox [US]

2. Javier Senorena [ES]

3. Gabriel Agati [BR]

4. Carlos Ventura [PE]

5. Ian McLaughlin [US]

6. William Tansley [UK]

7. Tommy Cooleen [US]

8. Markus Stadter [DE]

Weather WarsImage result for torkoal png

São Paulo’s Top 8 consisted of five different weather setters, with three different weather conditions being featured in the top three teams. We saw weather playing a pivotal role in the finals match between Ashton Cox and Javier Senorena. Positional switching determined the effectiveness of both Cox’s Torkoal and Lilligant, and Senorena’s Ninetales. Is it possible that weather will finally make its way to the top of VGC 2017’s usage?Image result for lilligant png

So far, only two weather team modes have made themselves known: Double Duck and
Torkoal+Lilligant. With Double Duck recently claiming its first major tournament in Utah, and now Torkoal+Lilligant with a victory in São Paulo, we could see a dramatic rise in weather usage in the coming months.

But not just Torkoal and Pelipper, this also means definitive rise in the hail and sandstorm setters, Alolan Ninetales and Gigalith. A popular way for teams to counter opposing weather is by setting their own, which Ninetales and Gigalith perform effectively.Image result for alolan ninetales png

Aside from their weather benefits, Ninetales and Gigalith mainly play much more pivotal roles. Ninetales is effective in supporting its teammates with Aurora Veil, which boosts both defensive stats for the entire party for five turns. Gigalith, on the other hand, takes advantage of its low speed to act as part of an ant-Trick Room or pro-Trick Room mode on a given team.Image result for gigalith png

What’s fascinating about weather in this format is the slight alteration to its role. Instead of weather-based modes and teams becoming popular, we’ve seen weather being used mainly to disrupt opposing weather conditions. Pokémon like Ninetales and Gigalith serve much different roles, with their weather conditions simply being a plus.

Poor Politoed probably misses its friends Kingdra and Ludicolo.

Xurkitree & Smeargle: An 8-0 Swiss Run

Hm… Smeargle paired next to a boosting sweeper? Where have I seen this before?

image courtesy of PokémonShowdown!

Oh right, last year’s atrocity of a format…Image result for xurkitree png

Anyway, Ian McLaughlin piloted a rather new strategy that could launch this shocking Ultra Beast into the realm of relevance. Meet Smeargle’s newest partner in crime: Xurkitree. Another powerful Pokémon with an amazing set-up move that can just as easily take advantage of Smeargle’s insane supportive abilities to ruin your life.

Despite Xurkitree’s very sub par defenses, this strategy features a bulkier build, holding one of everyone’s favorite 50% HP recovery berries. By abusing Fake Out and Follow Me from Smeargle, Xurkitree can boost to absurd levels of Special Attack by using Tail Glow (boosts the user’s Special Attack by three stages).Image result for smeargle png

While we didn’t see Xurkitree shine in McLaughlin’s streamed match versus Eduardo Fontana, what we did see was just how scary Smeargle can be when paired with another Ultra Beast. By, once again, abusing Fake Out and re-direction, McLaughling was easily able to sweep through Fontana’s team with Pheromosa. With Smeargle there to protect the constantly boosting Ultra Beast, Fontana stood no chance against Pheromosa’s onslaught.

I think McLaughlin’s performance with this team proves just how scary Smeargle still is. There are still powerful Pokémon in this format, mainly the Ultra Beasts, that can easily take advantage of Smeargle’s endless supportive move pool.

Carson St. Denis: The 5 Mon Champion 

The Senior division rarely gets a lot of attention, but Senior player Carson St. Denis did the impossible in São Paulo. He won the entire tournament with a party of only five Pokémon.

St. Denis most likely fell victim to a fate that has plagued a number of strong players this season: team sheet errors. For those unfamiliar with the rule, if there is information on a player’s team sheet that is inconsistent with what appears in game, the affected Pokémon can be removed from the player’s party.

Luckily, St. Denis is one of the strongest Senior’s players in the world and really did not need Snorlax much in his Finals match against Jan Tillman. Tillman’s team featured his own Snorlax, but not an accompanying Trick Room mode which would’ve been a reason for St. Denis’ Snorlax to be useful. St. Denis played an amazing set despite his handicapped party to take a 2-0 victory, and another International title.

Tman’s Top 8 Curse Image result for pelipper png

I unintentionally called this in my last piece, but Tommy Cooleen made it yet again to an International Championship Top 8 with his signature Double Duck team. But, unfortunately like London and then Melbourne, Top 8 was as far as the ducks could swim.

Nevertheless, Cooleen’s consistent performance with the same archetype is beyond impressive. Out of the three International Championships so far, Cooleen has made it to the Top 8 in all three tournaments. With just one International left, can Cooleen make the cut again and potentially break his Top 8 curse? We’ll find out in Indianapolis.

Final Thoughts

With the penultimate International Championship behind us, we set our sights stateside for the upcoming Virginia Regional Championships, which proves year after year to be one of the US’s most competitive events. As for the International stage, the final tournament in Indianapolis could be a make or break tournament for players both native and foreign. It’s going to be an exciting end of the season leading up to the World Championships in August. Only time will tell what groundbreaking new strategies will claim these last few tournaments.

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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!

pokemon murkrow using shadow ball

Niche Picks – The Darkness Pokémon, Murkrow

Meet Murkrow

Portrait of Pokémon Murkrow

One of the first dark type Pokémon to be introduced by Game Freak, Murkrow originally hailed from the Johto region of the Gold & Silver games. It is considered an omen of bad luck, and has a propensity to play pranks on people and Pokémon.

In appearance, Murkrow bears a strong resemblance to a crow. The feathers on its head jut forward and up, creating a witch’s hat appearance, while its tail feathers mirror the head of a broom.

Along with its unique appearance, Murkrow possesses a unique ability, Prankster. Prankster allows Murkrow to use its status moves with increased priority. However, if evolved into Honchkrow, it loses access to the Prankster ability. Due to this, Murkrow finds itself fulfilling a niche role on certain teams.

Not only does forfeiting evolution grant Murkrow access to Prankster, but also allows it to use the item Eviolite. Holding this item boosts an un-evolved Pokémon’s defense and special defense.

Pranking the Competition

Pokémon Murkrow uses swift

Murkrow’s main goal is supporting its party by using Prankster to get Tailwind up on turn one. Once Tailwind is up, the Trainer can take advantage of the speed boost to gain the upper hand in the match.

There is another surprise move that Murkrow can use against unsuspecting foes though, and it has the potential to really mess up a Trainer’s synergy. The move is Quash, and it forces the target to move last for the round. The key is for Quash to work, it needs to go before the target.

With Prankster, this is not an issue, however. Murkrow is free to Quash any threat that is faster than it, unless it is a dark type (dark types are immune to Prankster-enhanced moves). The result is a speedy sweeper, such as Kartana, being forced to go last and getting KO’d before it can even use its first Leaf Strike.

Using these two moves, Murkrow can dictate the flow of battle. Beware though, even with the boost to bulk provided by the Eviolite, Murkrow is still fairly delicate.

Example in the Wild

Spectators were able to observe the Darkness Pokémon in action during the Anaheim Regional Championship in February. Used by Trainer Gary Qian, the team managed to place in the Top 16.

Gary Qian’s Anaheim Regional Murkrow:

murkrow
Murkrow @ Eviolite
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Calm Nature (Gary’s was Impish due to shiny)
IVs: 0 Atk
– Quash
– Taunt
– Foul Play
– Tailwind

Gary’s Murkrow is par for the course as far as these birds go.

Moves are self explanatory with Tailwind and Quash providing immense tempo control as described in the previous section. Along with that, Taunt gives Murkrow a way to shut down opponents from setting up. Finally, Foul Play gives it a way to do some damage and not become worthless if taunted.

The EV spread, along with Calm Nature, gives enough special defense to survive a Moonblast from Tapu Lele. This bulk provides Murkrow enough staying power to hang around a couple rounds and be a real nuisance.

As for teammates, Pokémon that benefit from Tailwind and can immediately pressure the opponent are best. This includes, but is not limited to, Gyarados, Garchomp, Kartana, and Pheromosa.

pokemon Murkrow showing its swag

All images courtesy Game Freak

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salt lake city utah

Pokémon VGC Regional Preview: Salt Lake City, Utah

Ten Regionals Down

Salt lake city Utah Pokemon Regional logo

 

Salt Lake City Utah will play host to the upcoming eleventh North American Pokémon Regional. The Tournament is scheduled to take place this weekend, April 8-9.

With only five Regional Championships remaining in the 2017 season, Salt Lake City promises high stakes to those wishing to win admission to the World Championship. Between the remaining Regionals and the upcoming International Championship, time is running out.

What too Expect

Without a doubt we will see a combination of Tapu Lele and Drifblim. Ever since the ONOG Invitational the spirit of Trainer Shoma has lived on as his powerful lead has flourished in the Meta.

It also shouldn’t be a surprise to see Arcanine, Porygon2, and Garchomp as team staples. This trio of Pokémon have proven themselves as three of the most abundant species this season. However this is for good reason, as each one can carry its own weight on an abundance of teams.

Pokemon Gigalith at salt lake city utah regionalFinally Gigalith is very likely to be a key player in Salt Lake City. Already a fairly popular choice with its impressive attack, and Trick Room flinch-locking. With the rise of the Tapu Lele and Drifblim lead, Gigalith has only found more work for himself.

Supposedly the energy that Gigalith stores in its core is powerful enough to blow away mountains. How fitting it would be then for this rock Pokémon to blow away the crowds in this Rocky Mountain Pokémon Battle.

Battle in the Mountains

utah state fairpark logoUtah State Fair Park is going to be the venue for the tournament. Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and bordering Constitution Park. This event should provide great access to trainers from Nevada, Colorado, and Idaho.

If you are planning to attend, more information can be obtained from both the Utah State Fairpark website. As well as the official Pokémon website. Trainers should attempt to get their early on tournament day, on top of eating a solid breakfast and getting plenty of sleep.

Good luck to everyone who attends. Make this a Regional tournament to remember.

Follow me on Twitter: @aeroashwind

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VGC 2017 Spring Metagame Preview

With a sizable amount of tournaments in the books, what’s next for the VGC 2017 metagame? In a format that’s been flipped on its head after every tournament, creativity has begun to slow but has not stopped. Many new cores and strategies have emerged and are waiting to be countered, which further expands this format’s potential development. These months leading up to Worlds should be exciting, and here are the Pokémon we should expect to see:

A War of Speed Control

Trick Room and Tailwind are the most popular forms of speed control, and they are set to clash until the format’s end. With both modes becoming increasingly more viable, there are some solid Pokémon to add to a team if you’re looking for a speed advantage.

Tailwind

DrifblimImage result for drifblim

I think we’re all sick of this thing already. Everyone knows what Drifblim does, but for those unfamiliar, let me explain.

Drifblim, usually paired next to a Tapu Lele, will lead with said Tapu Lele activating Psychic Seed which boosts Driflbim’s Special Defense by one stage due to Lele’s Psychic Terrain. Unburden now doubles Drifblim’s speed since it has no item allowing it to be the fastest thing on the field. Drifblim sets up Tailwind and now Tapu Lele and friends can wail on your opponent’s team.

Although Drifblim might appear standard, there’s a lot of move options outside of the standard Tailwind and Shadow Ball. Will-o-Wisp is common to burn physical threats like Garchomp, Snorlax, and Muk. Recently, Aaron Zheng won Oregon Regionals with a Destiny Bond Drifblim, which was able to clutch some cheeky KO’s if Drifblim becomes expendable. Then there are fun options like Disable and Hypnosis if you want to make your opponent smash their 3DS.

MandibuzzImage result for mandibuzz

Mandibuzz functions very similarly to Drifblim as Mandibuzz opts mainly for Seed items. However, Mandibuzz is the more defensive option. With access to great support moves like Snarl, Taunt, Foul Play and Toxic, Mandibuzz can set up Tailwind and stick around to torture your opponent. Plus Mandibuzz is a bit more versatile as it can work with Tapu Fini as well as Tapu Lele.

Trick Room

Porygon2Image result for porygon2

This little duck will never go away. Porygon2 is such an adaptable Pokémon that it doesn’t even need Trick Room to thrive. Though that’s an option most tend to opt for.

The standard Porygon2 set has morphed significantly over the course of 2017, which is a testament to Porygon2’s versatility. It’s insanely bulky due to Eviolite and has a ton of move options for both offense and defense. I think Special Attacking Porygon2 might be making a comeback, but Trick Room and Recover are still staples.

If unchecked, this thing can win a game 1v4, so either Taunt or a Fighting-type should be present on a team.

MimikyuImage result for mimikyu png

The newest member of the Trick Room club is everyone’s favorite Pikachu knock-off: Mimikyu. Mimikyu’s unique ability Disguise brings an interesting dynamic to how it can function in a match. It’s able to take a free hit allowing it to set up Trick Room for its partners or deal some good damage with its solid STAB.

Mimikyu has found some good synergy next to Trick Room sweepers such as Snorlax and Gigalith since it doesn’t share a Fighting-type weakness like the aforementioned Porygon2.

If you want a full Mimikyu analysis, I recommend my buddy Drew’s piece showcasing all of Mimikyu’s talents. Regardless of what the Pokédex says, everyone loves Mimikyu.


The GoodStuffs

Every format has its standard and VGC 2017 is no exception. These are the Pokémon you will see at least once per game in this format.

GarchompImage result for garchomp png

When Landorus isn’t around, the Ground-type to rule them all is Garchomp. We’ve seen Garchomp undergo a lot of change so far with moves like Poison Jab, Fire Fang and Rock Slide revolving in and out of the standard move sets. Right now the most popular build is a bulkier set-up sweeper with Swords Dance to take advantage of Tailwind being set up.

Without a Ground resist in its way, Garchomp can annihilate teams that aren’t prepared for it. It makes a Fairy-type or an Ice-move a necessity to any team.

ArcanineImage result for arcanine png

When Arcanine is good, it’s really good. By far the most popular Intimidate user in the format, Arcanine is a fantastic blend of offense and occasionally defense. Stopping Kartana and Celesteela in their tracks is one of the main reasons (other than Intimidate of course) Arcanine finds a place on a majority of successful teams.

SnorlaxImage result for snorlax png

Much like its role in the single-player game, Snorlax can be quite the formidable obstacle. Insane bulk coupled with Gluttony to take full advantage of the 50% berries, Snorlax isn’t easily removed. Plus it can set up Curses while sitting there and endlessly Recycling its berry.

The premier Trick Room sweeper at this point in the meta game, however, there is another that has been rocking the format as of late.

GigalithImage result for gigalith png

This thing is a stone-cold killer under Trick Room. With an amazing Attack stat, Gigalith can hammer on opponents with strong Rock Slides. To complement its offensive prowess, Gigalith can also set up with Curse or protect your own team with Wide Guard. What’s most attractive about Gigalith right now is its excellent match-up versus Drifblim and Tapu Lele, but it has to have Trick Room up first.

Tapu KokoImage result for tapu koko png

In my opinion, the perfect sixth member for any team in this format is none other than Tapu Koko. Dominating the format in usage, Tapu Koko is by far one of the most versatile threats in the game. Mainly valued for its offense and speed, Tapu Koko can take advantage of many different items and move options.

The most popular item is often Life Orb, but we’ve seen success with items like Assault Vest and Choice Specs to capitalize on Tapu Koko’s offensive presence. Electric and Fairy-type moves are standard for Koko, but easily can be added or replaced by Hidden Powers, Sky Drop or Nature’s Madness just to name a few.

It’s essential to have an answer to this Pokémon or have it on your team for success in 2017.

Tapu LeleImage result for tapu lele png

I’ve already briefly touched on Tapu Lele’s primary role in the format right now, but there’s more to it than just being Drifblim’s right-hand. Psychic Terrain combined with Tapu Lele’s high Special Attack stat makes it a threat as soon as it hits the field. Tapu Lele’s move set doesn’t often deviate from its STAB attacks, but it can branch out depending on what item it holds.

Most Lele now are much more defensive rather than speedy since they’re usually accompanied by a Tailwind user. Expect either a choice item (Specs or Scarf mainly) or a Life Orb with Taunt to help stop Trick Room.

Tapu FiniImage result for tapu fini png

The Tapu Fini hype might have died down a little, but Tapu Fini is far from gone. Tapu Fini’s ability to disrupt opposing Terrains and offer decent offensive support gives a comfortable role on many teams in the game. Plus the AFK (Arcanine, Fini, Kartana) core is still really good, so I wouldn’t let Tapu Fini slip under your radar.

KartanaImage result for kartana png

One of two Ultra Beasts that continues to top the usage charts is the slashing sweeper Kartana. Most Kartana have moved away from the once popular Assault Vest for just full on offense and speed with a Focus Sash.

Although now a new trend featuring Scope Lens (an item that raises critical hit ratio) has popped up to many players’ dismay. Scope Lens gives Kartana’s Leaf Blade 50% chance to critical hit which can be clutch in racking up Beast Boosts.

Yeah this thing is the reason Fire-type moves are a necessity for any team.

CelesteelaImage result for celesteela png

Speaking of things that make Fire-type moves essential, let’s talk about Celesteela again.

Celesteela has done its fair share of adaptation, but the ol’ bread and butter Leech Seed strategy is still going strong today. Though now, Flamethrower has become the default rather than Substitute in order to deal with those pesky Kartana running around.

A new trend that’s appeared recently are offensive Celesteela, mainly focused on the Special Attack side. Believe it or not, Celesteela gets access to a bunch of great moves like Air Slash and Giga Drain if a Special Attacking Celesteela that can boost interests you. But let’s not forget Celesteela’s physical side with moves like Flame Charge and Earthquake which could be valuable.

Celesteela may be unbelievably annoying at times, but it’s been quite a fun Pokémon to see used as of late.


Common Cores

Tapu Lele & Drifblim

Image result for tapu lele pngImage result for drifblim

Not to be redundant, but if I’m talking about cores, I have to mention these two. The only thing left to add is that the typical team composition for these two can suffer significantly if a loss is suffered in terms of speed control. Speed is the name of the game with this team, with Pokémon like Garchomp and Kartana being present to take full advantage when it’s time to sweep.

AFK or ATK 

Image result for arcanine pngImage result for tapu fini pngImage result for kartana pngImage result for tapu koko pngImage result for tapu lele png

Remember the Arcanine, Fini, Kartana core I mentioned? I think it’s fair to branch out to include the other Tapu Pokémon despite the less attractive acronym. The Tapu Pokémon compliment Arcanine and Kartana well in terms of offense and defense which is why this combination retains its popularity. Its quite often to see more than one Tapu on a team with this core because of how well some of the Tapus work together. A common starting point for most teams that will probably remain in the meta game until the end of the format.

Mimikyu & Snorlax

Image result for mimikyu pngImage result for snorlax png

MimiLax, as those familiar with this core know it, is a common Trick Room mode for teams not solely dedicated to Trick Room. Both of these Pokémon can be tough to remove in the first few turns, so for this combo, setting isn’t hard at all.

While most Snorlax opt for Curse, we have seen Belly Drum pop up from time to time ever since its success in the Top Cut of Anaheim Regionals. This is a bit more risky of a strategy, but can be used effectively in the right hands.

With recent success in Oregon, Gigalith can easily replace Snorlax as Mimikyu’s partner. It functions pretty similarly while also having a much better match-up against Tapu Lele and Drifblim teams.


Unseen Forces

We’ve seen a lot of niche Pokémon thrive in this format, and here are some that I think have the most potential going forward.

Alolan PersianImage result for persian alola png

This shady cat has snuck its way into a few recent Top 8’s and even secured a Regional win in Buenos Aires. Persian is a special blend of bulk and speed that is able to offer effective support for its teammates. Its become popular next to Snorlax dues to its ability to switch into it with Parting Shot after lowering a threatening opponent’s stats. With some valuable synergy with other common Pokemon, Persian has potential to keep placing well in future tournaments.

Tapu BuluImage result for tapu bulu png

Tapu Bulu being the least used of its Tapu brethren has earned it a bit of a bad reputation in the format. But despite this, it has since earned a Regional victory under its belt and a few solid placings at Internationals.

Grassy Terrain is still a powerful terrain allowing for not only Tapu Bulu, but for its teammates as well. Tapu Bulu can fire off strong Grass-type attacks while its partners are protected against Ground moves and are slowly healing.

Since a lot of common Pokemon right now struggle with being Earthquake-resistant, Tapu Bulu offers a nice solution to this problem. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tapu Bulu top the results of another major tournament in the near future.

Togedemaru Image result for togedemaru png

With the rising popularity of Gyarados and the current popularity of Tapu Koko, Togedemaru has a great place in the meta game right now. Dan “Adrive” Clap initially showed us the power of the electric rodent in the ONOG Invitational, leading to Alex Underhill taking it all the way to a Regional victory in Collinsville.

Togedemaru has a great defensive typing, outside of being Garchomp food, that excellently supports the great Water Pokémon in this format. It also has neat moves like Zing Zap which can score crucial flinches to halt your opponent’s momentum.

All I’m saying is an electric rodent won Worlds once. A bit of a bold prediction, but I think Togedemaru can do it.

BuzzwoleImage result for buzzwole png

In a metagame full of speed control, a Pokémon like Buzzwole can shine. Buzzwole’s awkward speed stat places it in a special place to be useful under Trick Room and Tailwind.

Buzzwole flexes for a reason, as its Attack stat is pretty beefy. Its move pool is great too, with moves like Ice Punch and Poison Jab offering great coverage for popular threats. With a big All-Out-Pummeling courtesy of Fightinium-Z, Buzzwole can easily start racking up Beast Boosts.

This monstrous mosquito’s success hasn’t expanded much farther than a couple Top 8’s, but its usage will definitely increase with things like Snorlax, Porygon2, and Gigalith being popular.

MudsdaleImage result for mudsdale png

Galloping into the last entry for this section, Mudsdale brings some untapped power. Since a Ground-type is nearly essential to deal with Tapu Koko and the occasional Muk, Mudsdale can play a role suited for an effective Ground-type.

It’s speed and usability under Trick Room is Mudsdale’s main selling point, being able to threaten huge damage when speed is in its favor. Not to mention every time its hit with an attack, Stamina kicks in to give it a Defense boost. All of this with a solid arsenal of attacks gives Mudsdale a good case for a Trick Room attacker.

Having claimed a Regional title in Dallas, Mudsdale shows promise for more solid finishes. Its unique role as a Ground-type in the format is one that more players will consider adding to their team.


Just a Snapshot

As the title of this section would suggest, this is only a small look into the vast pool of Pokémon that are viable in VGC 2017. I’m just telling you what to expect, not what to bring. This particular year in VGC is immensely rewarding for creative minds looking to find the next big strategy. These last few months before Worlds are sure to produce some great tournaments, and the ones who innovate will be leading the charge.

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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A Wild Silvally Appears – Claims First in Japan’s Battle Road Gloria

The Battle Road Gloria

Banner for Pokémon Battle Road Gloria in Japan

Image courtesy of amalgame.jp

During the weekend of March 18th-19th, Japanese Trainers came together to compete in an epic tournament. The Battle Road Gloria provided spectators lots of excitement, along with a few surprises. Most notable of which is Silvally appearing on the first place team.

Trainer KOOTA managed to devastate opponents left and right, handily taking home first. Swapping between a tricky Mimikyu/Silvally lead and a more aggressive Tapu Koko/Garchomp. This strategy left many of his challengers unable to adapt, and eventually they would crumble one by one.

Just Who is Silvally?

Pokemon Silvally with trainer gladion

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Seeing Silvally on a first place VGC team just fills me with so much joy. Being introduced with Pokémon Sun and Moon, Silvally has been ripe with controversy. Everything from its stats to its move pool have been targets of attack, and now it has proven itself.

Silvally is basically a clone of the God Pokémon Arceus. However, unlike Arceus, its base stats are a model 95/95/95/95/95/95. Combine that with a somewhat mediocre move pool and it is easy to see why Silvally has been shunned by the community.

What it lacks in specialization, it makes up for in mystery. Much high level Pokémon play revolves around reading your opponent and predicting their moves. Silvally can prove to be tricky to read, causing your opponent many headaches during the course of a battle.

There are a couple of factors that make Silvally especially hard to predict. First is the fact it can change its type by holding an item. Want a steel type? Make him hold a Steel Memory, same goes for the other 17 types, other than normal. Silvally is normal by default, and therefore can run a normal type by holding any item other than a memory.

Silvally type variations

Image courtesy of serebii.net

Second, its access to a narrow, but varied move pool. While many critique Silvally for its lack of access to some of the more powerful physical attacking moves, what it does have is variety. As such, a trainer can build their Silvally in a plethora of viable ways. No matter if they want a physical attacker, special attacker, or support.

Silvally’s First Place Performance

On KOOTA’s team, Silvally played a very specific role. Serving as a pivot/suicide scout, it was not always present; but when it was, its presence was felt.

Here is the build, though I am unsure of how it was EV trained:

Pokemon silvally

Silvally @ Choice Scarf
Ability: RKS System
Level: 50
Jolly Nature
– Parting Shot
– Explosion
– Rock Slide
– Flamethrower

Choice Scarf  – Means that Silvally is a normal type, giving the already powerful Explosion STAB damage.

Parting Shot – Gives a means to pivot out of a bad position, while at the same time lowering the targets attack and special attack as well as letting Silvally swap out.

Explosion – Sacrifices Silvally to deal massive damage to all Pokémon on the field. Ghost is immune, so work great next to Mimikyu.

Rock Slide – Abuses Choice Scarf speed boost in order to attempt a flinch-lock.

Flamethrower – Acts as a powerful special attack to check prominent threats, such as Kartana.

In practice, Silvally was a pleasure to watch. KOOTA would generally send it out on turn one alongside Mimikyu. Then, based on his opponents’ Pokémon, he would either Parting Shot to a better matchup, or launch an attack while Mimikyu set up Trick Room.

The Silvally/Mimikyu pair was especially deadly due to Mimikyu’s ghost type immunity to Explosion. Because of this, Silvally was free to blow up the opposing team on turn one if they were not prepared.

In a Top 8 game, KOOTA pulled this strategy off, using Explosion to KO both Ninetails-Alola and Tapu Koko on turn one. This left his own Mimikyu unscratched to set up Trick Room, finally sending out his Gigilith to replace the fallen Silvally.

The strategy was brilliant, to say the least.

A Future for Silvally

While certainly fantastic seeing Silvally take a spot on the winners podium, I doubt it will achieve any kind of critical success during the remaining VGC season. Too much stigma has formed around this Pokémon, and not enough is known about its potential.

Maybe this can be the first step for Silvally onto the MainStage of Competitive Pokémon. I would love nothing more than for this new demigod to prove all the naysayers wrong. KOOTA demonstrated that, in the hands of a capable Trainer, Silvally certainly can perform.

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Catching Pokérus – The Cure to Slow Training

A Different Kind of Flu

Pokerus tag

The Pokémon franchise contains a multitude of ways to train your Pokémon and get them ready for battle. Though time-consuming, there are certain tools to speed up the training process. One such tool is the Pokémon virus, or Pokérus.

Like so many things concerning competitive Pokémon, Pokérus is mostly shrouded in secrecy. In the games it is only indicated with a tag next to the Pokémon’s name. You may even have an infected Pokémon in your PC box and not even know it.

Catching the Virus

Nurse joy giving the pokerus news

Introduced into the series with Generation two, Pokérus is mostly shrouded in mystery. However, unlike many virus’s in our world, this virus is beneficial to those it infects.

A Pokémon who has contracted Pokérus will experiance increased Effort Value gain while training. Because of this, competitive Trainers seek to get their hands on an infected Pokémon so that they can spread it to others they wish to train.

Getting an infected Pokémon yourself is not easy though. A Trainer has about a 1/21,900 chance to actually encounter an infect Pokémon in the wild. So you are more likely to find a shiny Pokémon, than one infected by the Pokémon virus.

Fear not though, most Trainers turn to the Pokémon Global Link in order to obtain Pokérus. Once obtained the virus can be transferred between the Trainers Pokémon, as well as placed in stasis by putting an infected Pokémon in PC Storage.

Life After Pokérus

 

Pokemon Bagon with PokérusSo now that you have a Pokémon with Pokérus, you can pass it to that young Larvitar you plan on EV training. Simply place the infected Pokémon into your party next to the target Larvitar and go battle. After each battle their is a chance for the virus to spread to adjacent Pokémon.

Now that Larvitar has Pokérus, you can head to your favorite EV training ground. EVs gained while infected by the Pokémon virus are doubled. Now Larvitar can power through that training session.

Combine Pokérus with power items for an even more dramatic effect. Using these methods, EV training can be reduced to a fraction of the time it generally takes.

Final Thoughts

Secret tools do not mix well in a competitive environment. While cool from a role-playing perspective, things like Pokérus really only serve to hurt the competitive community.

Competitive Trainers and the Pokémon community as a whole would benefit Game Freak would open up when it comes to matters concerning competitive battling. Making it more accessible to more trainers is only a good thing for the franchise.

All images courtesy Game Freak

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Pokemon VGC’s Championship Point Dilemma

Recently, there have been a number of players voicing their opinions on the current championship point structure and what it could mean for the future of Pokemon VGC.

A Rundown of the Problem

The current championship point (CP) requirement for Worlds qualification in the two major regions (United States and Europe) is 500. The remaining regions of Latin America, Asia Pacific, and South Africa require 350 points.

With the adjusted tournament structure now offering smaller CP payouts for placings beyond top 16, best finish limits set in place, and limits to the frequency of local tournaments, The Pokemon Company (TPCi) has quite a problem to fix.

The current structure caters heavily to high-level players who can afford to travel, which isn’t ideal for the game’s growth. With the bar at 500 CP to qualify for Worlds and fewer ways to earn those points, there is less incentive for new players to compete. Basically, it’s extremely hard to qualify for Worlds if you are a less-experienced player who can’t afford to travel to higher CP events.

Perhaps a solution would be to lower the Worlds’ CP bar to 350 or 400 with the current CP payouts as a way to properly scale how much CP is awarded at each tournament level. This way, there’s incentive to attend local tournaments which could translate to higher attendance at larger ones. This could make Worlds qualification more accessible, which would allow top players to shift their focus to making it further in the tournament.

However, some would say lowering the bar would make Worlds too easy to qualify for. This was an issue in 2016 when local tournaments could be “farmed” for CP, which made higher level tournaments seem less significant. However, it also made the scene much more accessible for local players, which is obviously great for the game’s potential growth.

See the problem here?

We either have tournaments that appeal to top performing players and “wallet warriors”, or we lower the CP bar making Worlds an easier tournament to qualify for.

Now that there’s a general outline of the problem, let’s dive into some specific topics that players have brought up regarding the issue.

International Championships and the Best Finish Limit

With the best finish limit for Internationals set at four, the mentality of “quantity over quality” is very applicable if a player is able travel and perform well. With top players in each region receiving stipends to travel to each country’s Internationals, it makes it too easy to flood these tournaments with players from regions that already have enough tournaments to qualify for Worlds.

On the other hand, if TPCi restricts the best finish limit to one and limits incentive to travel, one or two bad finishes for a top player could end their season.

Regional Favoritism

It’s obvious that North America is the region with the best treatment in Pokemon VGC. The US has the most tournaments and most coverage over any region in the circuit, which explains the large number of American players at Worlds.

More US players receive stipends, allowing them to travel to and dominate tournaments overseas. The more developed scene makes community-organized tournaments possible to award a travel award to the winner.

Of course, countries like Japan need an improved qualification structure, buts that’s been an issue since the beginning.

The Return of the LCQ?

The Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) was a tournament held the day before Worlds as an opportunity for non-invited players to play for a chance to compete at the main event.

No one is certain why the LCQ was discontinued, as it was an incentive for non-invitees to attend Worlds. Not to mention, it also produced a World Champion in the Seniors division in 2013.

It was popular among the community, which gives it even less of a reason to be absent from Worlds. With the recent attendance restrictions at the 2016 World Championships and now the Sao Paulo Internationals, you’d think TPCi is deliberately trying to make their tournaments smaller.

Final Thoughts

What we should take away from this is that no tournament structure is going to please everyone. The championship point structure is crucial to every aspect of Pokemon VGC’s tournament structure including maintaining the player base. If you don’t appeal to new players, the game won’t grow, but if you disappoint the veterans, people will leave.

TPCi has some big questions to answer when deciding how to handle their 2018 season. There’s no clear solution, but there’s a lot that needs improvement.

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Pokémon Best in Show – Unmasking Mimikyu

The Nightmare of Alola

The Pokémon VGC 2017 season rule set brought with it a plethora of bulky and slow Pokémon. This shifting of the speed curve has seen the rise of Trick Room tactics, as can be seen by the Porygon2 on almost every Trainers team. Do not let this fool you, however. While Porygon2 is a fantastic Trick Room setter and utility Pokémon, he is not the best of the format. That title goes to Mimikyu.

Once you get past Mimikyu’s frighteningly cute exterior, you will quickly realize the arsenal of tools and tricks it masks under its sheet. Whether it is scaring opponents with a Never-Ending Nightmare or constructing a Trick Room, when Mimikyu is summoned it must be dealt with.

Mimikyu Breakdown

Mimikyu stat chart

Image courtesy of Bulbapedia

Taking Mimikyu at face value, it seems like a somewhat underwhelming specimen. While its Ghost/Fairy typing leaves it with a single double-resistance to Bug, and three immunities to Normal, Fighting, and Dragon, its stats leave much to be desired.

Special defense it Mimikyu’s highest stat, boasting a base of 105. However, Mimikyu’s pitiful base HP of 55 means that it won’t have the staying power to take many hits regardless of how hard it tries. Rounding these out with an average 90 base Attack and 96 base Speed, and it is easy to see why Mimikyu can get overlooked.

Trainers who follow this line of surprise are in for a shock. Mimikyu makes its average stats absolutely workable by means of a great move pool and amazing ability. The combination of these two factors leads to a game winning machine.

Don’t be Fooled by the Disguise

What really makes Mimikyu such a versatile asset while team build is the tools it can bring to a team.

First is Mimikyu’s signature ability, Disguise, acts as a single-use substitute for Mimikyu. Basically, the first time Mimikyu would take damage during a battle, the damage nullified and the Disguise is broken. From that point on during the battle, Mimikyu can be damaged normally. Disguise does not prevent status effects.

Busted Mimikyu

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Disguise will basically give Mimikyu one free pass. This can allow it to do things such as set up Trick Room for its team or boost itself with a Sword’s Dance. It can also serve to give Mimikyu a free switch in. Whichever you choose to use Disguise, it is easy to see how effective this ability can be.

Moves to Die For

While focusing on Mimikyu’s Disguise can be tempting, forgetting about the moves it is packing can be deadly. Mimikyu is anything but a one-trick pony.

Here is a list of moves you can expect to encounter during the course of VGC17:

Offensive:

  • Play Rough – Physical Fairy STAB attack. Packing 90 Base Power and hitting most things for at least neutral damage. Play Rough’s only real drawback is its 90% accuracy rating.
  • Shadow Claw – Physical Ghost STAB attack. 70 Base Power and 100% accuracy makes it weaker, but more reliable than Play Rough. However, the two moves provide 100% neutral coverage.
  • Shadow Sneak – Priority Physical Ghost STAB attack. 40 Base Power and 100% accuracy. Shadow Sneak is good due to the fact it provides elevated priority.
  • Wood Hammer – High Power Physical Grass attack. While gaining no STAB, Wood Hammer provides a massive 120 Base Power at the expense of recoil damage.

Support:

  • Taunt – Prevents opponents from setting up. As well as shuts down status effect users, and protects. Great Trick Room counter.
  • Will-O-Wisp – Burns a Pokémon causing residual damage. Also lowers the opponent’s Attack, causing their physical damage to be lowered.
  • Trick Room – One of the greatest threats Mimikyu has on the right team. Reverses speed priority causing slower Pokémon to go first.
  • Swords Dance – Boost Attack stat by 2 levels. One Swords Dance will allow for immense pressure on the opposing team.
  • Thunder Wave – Paralyzes and reduces speed of opponent. Recent changes have reduced its accuracy to 90% however.
  • Curse – Causes massive residual damage to the opponent at the expense of 1/2 the user’s HP. Can be used to break walls.
  • Toxic – Applies poison damage that increases each turn. Another way to build residual damage and break walls.
  • Destiny Bond – Faints the opponent if Mimikyu faints. Paired with Ghostium Z, Z-Destiny Bond also takes on the redirection of Follow Me.
  • Protect – Standard VGC move

An Item for all Occasions

Depending on the moves Mimikyu runs, here are a few items you can expect it to be holding:

  • Ghostium Z – Dual use item. Use to either turn Shadow Claw/Sneak into Never-Ending Nightmare for serious damage. Otherwise, you can augment Destiny Bond to add the Follow Me effect.
  • Fairium Z – Used to turn Play Rough into Twinkle Tackle, providing Mimikyu with a great way to take out major threats.
  • Mental Herb – Heals effects such as Taunt and Encore. Especially effective on Trick Room builds as Mental Herb + Disguise can practically guarantee turn one Trick Room.
  • Focus Sash – Due to Disguise, Focus Sash isn’t as useful. On a Swords Dance variant, it can provide a second layer of protection to set up a sweep though.
  • Life Orb – Increase damage output and does damage to the user in return. Great item for a Swords Dance Mimikyu.

Whether you choose to run Mental Herb, or Ghostium Z, on your Trick Room Mimikyu, the options are plentiful. The ability to leave the opponents guessing is one of this Pokémon’s greatest assets.

Sample Builds

 

Mimikyu sprite

Mimikyu @ Ghostium Z
Ability: Disguise
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Trick Room
– Destiny Bond / Taunt
– Shadow Claw
– Play Rough

This is standard Trick Room support. Disguise works to give Mimikyu the leeway to make things happen on the first turn. Trick Room is used to give your team an advantage against faster opponents. While Destiny Bond or Taunt are taken depending on Mimikyu’s partners. Shadow Claw and Play Rough are just there for offense once supporting is done.

With Ghostium Z, the Destiny Bond variant can become particularly deadly. Using Ghostium Z will give the trainer an option to either launch a devastating Never-Ending Nightmare. Otherwise, they can power-up Destiny Bond. Adding a Follow Me effect to Destiny Bond, thereby allowing Mimikyu to redirect opponents and allow its partner to set up.

Mimikyu sprite

Mimikyu @ Ghostium Z / Fairium Z / Life Orb
Ability: Disguise
Level: 50
EVs:  252 Atk / 4SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly / Adamant Nature
– Swords Dance
– Shadow Sneak / Protect
– Shadow Claw
– Play Rough

Hyper offensive Mimikyu variant. The simple goal of this set is to use the safety of Disguise to boost with Swords Dance. If successful, Mimikyu can become a force to be reckoned with. There are few Pokémon in the VGC meta game that can take a +2 Twinkle Tackle.

With Mimikyu, You Can

No matter if you need an offensive pivot, a reliable Trick Room setter, or a supplementary support, Mimikyu has you covered. This is the Pokémon to consider if your team is missing that extra oomph. Whatever you do though, don’t look under its sheet.

Pokemon Mimikyu jump out

Image courtesy of Game Freak

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Sao Paulo’s Attendance Cap – Another International Issue

These International Championships cannot seem to distance themselves from controversy. First, London’s timing and team sheets, and Melbourne’s lack of a stream. Now, an attendance cap for the upcoming Sao Paulo International Championships. The tournament is only a month away, and this news has likely ruined a number of non-South American player’s planned trips that were not courtesy of an official stipend.

First, Let’s Talk About Melbourne

Failure to provide live coverage from another large tournament? Sounds like TPCi.

After setting up the International Championships structure, and allowing top players from across the world to compete in different countries, you’d think there would be an extra push to stream these high-profile tournaments. Sadly no, and we’ll likely never receive an explanation for why this happened. Streaming should be a priority for TPCi when it comes to an international event. Getting people to watch the game will only help it grow. We as spectators should not have to rely on Twitter or other unofficial sources (that usually do an amazing job) for live coverage. I can understand not streaming a few regionals. However, there is little excuse for not streaming the International Championships, regardless of what country they’re in.

Now Onto That Attendance Cap…

128. 128 players is the max attendance for an International tournament. Does this bring back memories of how the 2016 World Championships was closed off to spectators, and how we found out about it only a month in advance?

Seriously, I have no clue why TPCi would have an attendance cap that is lower than the amount of players at Worlds last year. Not only that, they’re giving stipends to the top four players in each region. This further restricts the number of players who are able to compete. For a series of tournaments that encourages players to travel to other countries, it makes little sense to cap the attendance at such a low number. It also makes the communities’ efforts to organize tournaments to award stipend money a complete waste at this point.

Another aspect affected is Championship Point and prize money distribution, if the player number were to not reach 128. How CP and prizes are given is based on attendance. For example, if 127 people were to enter instead of 128, Championship Points would be distributed to the Top 16 instead of the Top 32 according to the current system. This is more of an issue with the number the player cap is set at rather than there being a cap at all. This wouldn’t be an issue if the cap wasn’t in place, however.

To make matters worse, since this is now a smaller tournament, there’s probably not going to be an effort to stream this event either.

What Does This Mean for Indianapolis?

Honestly, I have no clue. North American tournaments are usually well organized. In light of the circumstances that have plagued these Internationals, there’s a reason to be worried. TPCi needs to drastically improve their communication with their players, as announcements like these cannot be tolerated. It seems like every announcement about these tournaments are nothing but bad news. Players will continue to voice their complaints into the void of Twitter, only to not receive any official response.

If you would like to view the official announcements for the Latin America International Championships, check here for stipend info and here for more info on the attendance cap.

Images courtesy of Pokemon.com

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Pokemon togedemaru steals the show

Pokémon VGC 2017 Collinsville Regional Wraps Up – Alex Underhill Takes First, Togedemaru Steals Show

Farewell Collinsville

Competition wrapped up this weekend at the Pokémon VGC Collinsville Regional tournament, and fans were not disappointed. Around 300 Trainers showed up for their chance at walking away with $3,000 cash, and Championship Points towards entrance to the World Championship. While many Trainers competed, only one proved he had what it took to be a champion. Alex Underhill marveled the crowd as he battled his way to his first major VGC victory.

Alex Underhill using Togedemaru to win Collinsville regionals Pokemon

Image courtesy of @LexiconVGC

Alex combined offensive pressure from Gyarados and Arcanine, with Celesteela’s stalling ability. To top it off, Alex’s centerpiece was his Togedemaru, a little steel mouse capable of unnerving foes with its shocking tactics. Throughout the entirety of the tournament, Alex impressed the crowd with the expert use of his Togedemaru. Whether it was faking out opposing Tapu Koko, or Encoring Kartana into repetitive sword dancing. Alex was nothing short of fun to watch.

Togedemaru Wasn’t the Only Interesting Trend

Pokémon Togedemaru

Image courtesy of Game Freak

Togedemaru may have Zing Zapped his way into the fan’s hearts with his shocking display, but there was another interesting trend occurring. Teams running Tapu Lele and Drifblim were on full display in Collinsville this weekend. In fact, four of the top ten teams ran the combo. If this sounds familiar, it should be. This is because Tapu Lele and Drifblim are the pair Shoma used to claim victory in the recent ONOG Pokémon Invitational.

Watching the impact Shoma’s play had on many of the Trainers was an interesting thing to see. Even the second place finisher, Justin Berns, was using Tapu Fini and Drifblim. However, the disruption caused by Togedemaru’s antics just proved too much to overcome. After three full rounds, Justin found himself yielding victory to Alex when the final match came down to Snorlax versus Celesteela.

See You Down Under

melbourne australia for pokemon international

Image courtesy of Australia.com

The next major Pokémon VGC event will be the International Championship in Melbourne Australia. This will be the second in a series of four tournaments in the brand new International Championship Series. With a massive Championship point payout and open admittance to all Trainers worldwide, International Championship Series tournaments promise to bring a large crowd of talented Pokémon Trainers.

Scheduled to begin March 10th, the tournament will run until March 12th. Make sure to keep an eye out for new strategies. Will Porygon2 still be a staple? Could Togedemaru be a surprise VIP? Maybe Evoboost Eevee will take the cake. If nothing else, the VGC 2017 season certainly has been dynamic. See you in Melbourne!

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