2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Japan is Back!: 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

The 2017 Pokemon World Champions have been crowned after an exciting weekend of fierce competition. Japanese National Champion Ryota Otsubo brings Japan another World Championship title while cementing the nation at the top of the Pokemon Video Game Championships. There were a ton of headlines from this weekend and we’re here to cover them all! Let’s take a look at what went down in Anaheim.

Results and Teams

(All players with two or fewer losses advanced to Top Cut. Top 8 is here for now, will be updated later with the rest of the Top Cut)

1. Ryota Otsubo [Japan]

2. Sam Pandelis [Australia] 

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3. Paul Ruiz [Ecuador]

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/373.pngAlola Form

4. Tomoyuki Yoshimura [Japan]

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5. Nils Dunlop [Sweden]

Alola Form

6. Sebastian Escalante [Argentina]

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7. Rene Alvarenga [El Salvador]

8. Dorian Andre Quimones Vallejos [Peru]

First, An Update on Our Picks

Nick Navarre (4-3 – Day 2): 

Navarre had a rather rough start to his tournament, falling to 1-3 to end his run. Despite the results, Navarre has proven himself as one of North America’s best and I doubt this will be his last Day Two appearance at the World Championships.

Markus Stadter (4-3 – Day 2):

Stadter had by far one of the coolest teams at the World Championships, showcasing the power of Pokemon like Lucario and Slowking. Stadter started off strong at 2-0 but quickly racked up three losses to eliminate him from Top Cut contention.

Sebastian Escalante (Top 8): 

Escalante led the charge for Latin America into Anaheim’s Top Cut and eventually reached the Top 8 as the token Rain representative. However, Escalante’s rain team was not normal, trading Pelipper out for Politoed and adding Klefki to support his team with Reflect and Light Screen.

Christopher Kan (3-4 – Day 2):

Outside of Sam Pandelis, Australia had a pretty quiet tournament in the Master’s Division. Kan’s incredible momentum came to an end in the early rounds of Day 2 where three losses halted his advancement to the Top Cut. His little brother, however, had a much different result which we’ll get to in a bit.

A Repeat Run Cut Short

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Wolfe Glick (Left) versus Alex Underhill (Right) in Day One

Wolfe Glick had a pretty underwhelming season coming into the World Championships, but if there’s anywhere he knows to play his “A” game, it’s at Worlds. After surviving the gauntlet that was Day One, Glick earned his spot in the Top Cut at the 17th seed, requiring a play-in match in order to advance into Top 16. Glick made it to Top 16, but unfortunately his run ended there.

Glick’s team wasn’t anything crazy, but it was definitely the right call for the tournament. After multiple games on stream over both days while being consistently flinched by falling rocks, Glick was the highest placing American in the tournament. Surely a tournament run to be proud of.

The Unstoppable Junior: Nicholas Kan

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Nicholas Kan – 2017 Junior Pokemon Video Game World Champion

The three-time Junior International Champion ends his season with a World Championship to add to a staggering list of accomplishments. Interestingly enough, the team he used to do it was his older brother Christopher’s team that he used to win the North American International Championships in the Masters Division.

His opponent, Tomas Serrano, gave Kan a difficult match with a hard Trick Room team that focused on the synergy of Oranguru paired with Torkoal and Gigalith. Kan was able to withstand the onslaught of Choice Band-boosted Rock Slides from Serrano’s Gigalith in order to set up his own Snorlax to win the game.

Bottom line: This kid is good. Another fun fact, Kan’s ending Championship total was 2310. Could this kid be some sort of prodigy in the making?

#Don’tSleeponLatinAmerica

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Dorian Vallejos (Left) versus Paul Ruiz (Right) in the Top 8

The surprise region for this year’s World Championships ended up being Latin America, having by far the most representation in the Masters Top Cut with Latin American players comprising half of the Top 8. Sebastian Escalante was an obvious favorite from the region, but break out performances from Paul Ruiz, Rene Alvarenga and Dorian Andre Quimones Vallejos have put Latin America on the map for future International events. The promise for a growing scene is there, and we’re all excited to see more big names emerge from Latin America.

Japan is back on top

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Ryota Otsubo – 2017 Masters Pokemon Video Game World Champion

The last Japanese National Champion to win the World Championships was 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami, and it looks like Ryota Otsubo kept with the trend. His opponent, Sam Pandelis, was no easy opponent for Otsubo, as the set reached a third game without a clear winner in sight.

Despite his team’s outstanding damage output, Otsubo had trouble breaking through Pandelis’ Aurora Veil, allowing Pandelis to set up his Garchomp and Xurkitree to sweep game one. Ostubo brought it back in game two as he took advantage of his Alolan Marowak’s ability to smash through Pandelis’ Aurora Veil with Brick Break.

Game three looked bleak for Otsubo as he blew his Z-move into great Manbdibuzz switch-in from Pandelis, making the Prankster Twinkle Tackle ineffective against the Dark-type Mandibuzz. Despite this seemingly major set back, Otsubo was able to eliminate Ninetales early, and with a crucial double-up into Pandelis’ Xurkitree as his Garchomp protected itself, Pandelis was hopeless against Otsubo’s Choice Specs Tapu Fini under Whimsicott’s Tailwind.

Like Otsuba said in his post-match interview, he proved Japan is the best. With another World Championship under its belt, the nation and it’s players have dismissed 2016’s fluke and reclaimed their place at the top of Pokemon VGC.

Popular Strategies that didn’t quite make the Cut

Alolan Raichu

alolan raichu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

The Surge Surfing Alolan Pokemon made a return to the metagame in Anaheim alongside its friend Tapu Koko. Players using Alolan Raichu look to capitalize on the Surge Surfer ability to double Alolan Raichu’s speed in the Electric Terrain, allowing for disruption with Fake Out and Encore or fast, big damage with a surprise Z-move.

On stream, we saw two different ways Alolan Raichu was used on two very similar teams. Alvin Hidayat had an impressive Day One run reaching 5-0 with his Alolan Raichu holding the Aloraichium Z which gives his Raichu access to its powerful signature Z-move that guarantees paralysis on its target. In Day 2, we saw Ryuzaboro Hosano use his Alolan Raichu to raise the Speed of his Snorlax with Speed Swap, giving his Belly-Drum boosted Snorlax the Surge-Surfing speed of Alolan Raichu.

Unfortunately, despite the Day One success, these teams were likely met with their fair share of Togedemaru and Alolan Marowak and their disruptive Lightningrod abilities. This is likely the reason these teams fizzled out and the Lightningrod Pokemon prevailed.

Salamence + Metagross: Bulldozing the Competitionsalamence 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Another popular combo that was a buzz in Anaheim was the combination of Salamence and Metagross. This duo was popular many years back due to their great type synergy, but Salamence and Metagross both have had pretty underwhelming seasons in terms of usage.

These two eventually were paired up again as part of a strategy involving Bulldoze and activating Weakness Policy. Basically, Salamence uses Bulldoze next to its partner Metagross both lowering the opponent’s Speed and activating Metagross’ Wekness Policy. Metagross’ Clear Body prevents the lowering of Metagross’ stats while not taking much damage from the weak base power of Bulldoze.

metagross 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Despite the immense popularity of the duo, only one variant of this team made it to the Top 8. This could have been due to a lot of factors such as players being unfamiliar with matchups, Metagross’ lacking accuracy or simply the competition being prepared for it. Regardless, I expect this will duo will become popular again during the Fall Regional Championships.

Big Plays From Anaheim

Lightningrod

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With Tapu Koko being the most common Pokemon in the format, the Lightningrod users, Togedemaru and Alolan Marowak, were able to dominate the World Championships. These two were able to support the common Tapu Fini and Celesteela making them much harder to deal with. Tapu Koko still managed to have an excellent tournament, but its effectiveness was severely limited thanks to the abundance of Lightningrod.

Celesteelacelesteela 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Celesteela was the defensive backbone for many Worlds teams, and it did its job very well for those who used it. The incredible bulk, great defensive typing, Beast Boost, and most importantly, Leech Seed made Celesteela the ideal Pokemon to get into a good position to win games.

We saw Celesteela’s full power on display during the Top 4 match between Tomoyuki Yoshimura and Ryota Otsubo. Otsubo’s Celesteela managed to out-stall Yoshimura’s entire team in game one, leading to nearly 40 minutes taken off the round timer. After a long, agonizing set, Otsubo’s Celesteela came out as a major MVP, simply due to its amazing defensive power.

Mimikyumimikyu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

Due to the popularity of Snorlax, Mimikyu became many players’ go-to Trick Room setter to accompany the large Trick Room sweeper. Mimikyu’s ability to take a hit, deal damage and set up Trick Room made it a valuable asset for setting up a team’s Snorlax, and there were a ton of different moves we saw for every Mimikyu on stream. We saw Shadow Ball, Will-o-Wisp, Swords Dance and Psych Up just to name a few. This versatile little Pokemon will likely remain relevant alongside the abundance of Snorlax in the remaining months of the 2017 format.

See you next year in Nashville!

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

The 2017 World Championships was a tournament full of surprises and excitement. We saw some of the best Pokemon played of the entire season, and I’m sure thousands are inspired to compete for a spot in next year’s World Championships, announced to be happening in Nashville, Tennessee.

With such an amazing World Championships behind us, the VGC 2017 season comes to a close. Now begins the road to Nashville, as the VGC 2018 season kicks off in just under a month.

Thanks for reading!


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2017 pokemon world championships

Who Will Win the 2017 Pokemon World Championships?

We’ve talked enough about which Pokemon will have an impact on the 2017 World Championships, but what about the players? To be honest, it’s been a pretty wild season considering how many top performances each respective region has put up at the international level. Predicting the winner of this year’s World Championships is not an easy task, but we’re gonna try. Let’s take a look at each region and which of their player’s has the best shot of winning it all.

pokemon international north america 2017 pokemon world championships

North America

Total # of Invites: 45

Current #1: Nick Navarre

Highest Individual CP Total: 1370 

International Top Cut Appearances: 11

International Championship Titles: 1

North America is always a safe pick with the powerhouse of the United States producing the most invites with all of them belonging to well-deserving players. The US has always had strong showings at the World Championships, having won four of the previous seven thanks to Ray Rizzo and Wolf Glick. The US is an obvious favorite, but Canada and Mexico are also countries capable of producing quality finishes.

Looking at this season, North America falls just behind of Europe in International Top Cut appearances, but like Europe, North America managed to win an International in Latin America thanks to Ashton Cox. One thing the United States has going for itself this season is consistency, with Tommy Cooleen’s three straight International Top 8’s and Nick Navarre’s two Top 8 appearances being prominent examples. Other notable examples include Gavin Michaels and Drew Nowak who excelled in the regional circuit with each scoring two regional victories this season. Also, North America is home to the best Eevee player in the world, Giovanni Costa, who will likely have the team perfected for Worlds.

To be honest, I fully expect the United States to carry North America’s World Championship results, but Cesar Reyes’ recent Top 4 placing at the North American International Championships gives me hope that we’ll see either a Mexican or Canadian player make a run.

Smart Money’s On: Nick Navarre

nick navarre 2017 pokemon world championships

Image from pokemon_vgc_center on Twitch

I know it’s lame to pick the overall number one, but there are good reasons to put you’re money on this player. One of the most consistent players in the format by far with a regional victory and multiple international top cut appearances to his name. Nick Navarre just seems like he knows what he’s doing in this format, and his play as well as his teambuilding skills are a testament to his knowledge of this metagame. In our interview with Navarre, he almost made it sound easy for himself to find ways to win in this format, and a player with that kind of skill and confidence is a threat for sure. However, this is his first time competing at the World Championships, but I don’t expect the first-time jitters will phase him too much.

Other Notables: 

Paul Chua:  Coming off a second place finish in Indianapolis, Chua looks to have the most momentum going into the World Championships.

Drew Nowak: I’m putting Nowak here over Gavin Michaels simply because of Nowak’s later-format success. Despite not performing well at the International level this season, Nowak did manage to make it to the top cut of last year’s World Championships and I think he’s one of the best newer players to the Master’s division.

Wolfe Glick: Our reigning World Champion hasn’t had the best season of his career, but to be fair, most World Champions enter a bit of a slump unless your name was Ray Rizzo from 2010 to 2012. Glick has the ability to perform at the World’s level, and I do think there’s a possibility for a resurgence for our previous World Champion.

pokemon international europe 2017 pokemon world championships

Europe

Total # of Invites: 38

Current #1: Markus Stadter

Highest Individual CP Total: 1384 

International Top Cut Appearances: 15

International Championship Titles: 1

Overall, Europe looks to be the strongest region going into this year’s World Championships. The reason being, their International performance is above all other regions despite only having won a single title. The number of strong players is becoming on par with the United States, but I think the advantage of quality this year goes to Europe. In addition to the superior International results, European top players have much higher CP totals, with the Top 8 all having over 1000. European players have been consistent too. Markus Stadter, Nils Dunlop and William Tansley top cut multiple International Championships this season.

2017’s World Championships looks to be Europe’s for the taking.

Smart Money’s On: Markus Stadter

I’m picking a number one again, but Markus Stadter is a number one above the rest. Finishing his “World Tour” with 1384 Championship Points puts Markus Stadter at number two in the world. Sure he did his fair share of travelling, but his results remain impressive. Stadter has a pretty good grasp on this format when looking at his results and how he was able to shift between very different teams. Tapu Fini looked to be his go-to, but then he ended up using Tapu Bulu and Porygon-Z to reach another international Top 8 in Indianapolis. After placing third at the World Championships last year, Stadter is hungry for another chance at the title, and boy does he have a good one.

Other Notables:

William Tansley: Like previously mentioned, Tansley has had success at the International level and has a pretty high CP total to boot. A player who is sure to make Great Britain proud.

Nils Dunlop: Dunlop has also reached the top cut twice at the International level, but the fact that he’s done it at such a young age and from Sweden is quite impressive. Dunlop mentioned in one of his interviews during the North American Internationals that he’s looking to grow the competitive Pokemon scene in his home country, and a great World’s performance could be a great start.

Baris Ackos: Top 8 at World’s last year, Top 8 at the Oceania International Championships and he’s close friends with Markus Stadter. Ackos is a strong contender that is looking to keep Germany on top of the European circuit.

pokemon international oceania 2017 pokemon world championships

Oceania (Australia, Asia Pacific)

Total # of Invites: 30

Current #1: Christopher Kan

Highest Individual CP Total: 1157

International Top Cut Appearances: 3

International Championship Titles: 2

Beyond North America and Europe, predicting favorites from the next two regions becomes a bit more difficult. Expect some safe predictions.

Despite being considered one of the “weaker” regions, Oceania has made quite a name for itself this season thanks to Australia. Their attendance overseas was limited, but Australia snagged two International Championship wins thanks to Zoe Lou in Melbourne and Christopher Kan in North America. Outside of their International, Australia kind of got the shaft until they received two regionals near the end of the season. Still, Australia has developed quite a few story lines this season that are looking to continue in Anaheim.

As for Southeast Asia, there are a number of players at the top of Oceania’s CP rankings from countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia etc. While mostly flying under the radar, players from these countries are more than capable of putting up solid World Championship results.

Oceania is the underdog story of the 2017 season, and it will be a fun region to watch during the World Championships.

Smart Money’s On: Christopher Kan

christopher kan 2017 pokemon world championships

Image from @Pokemon on Twitter

I said picks for this reason would be relatively safe, so I’m picking yet another number one. Christopher Kan is riding arguably the biggest wave of momentum after winning Sydney Regionals and the North American International Championships back to back. I’m not sure if this wave will carry him to Anaheim’s Top Cut, but I at least anticipate a solid performance. Then again, this region has been known to surprise us. Plus, Kan has his incredibly skilled younger brother Nicholas if he ever needs help teambuilding or testing before the main event.

Other Notables

Sam Pandelis [AUS]: Current 4th in CP standings for Oceania

Melvin Keh [SG]: Current 2nd in CP standings for Oceania

Jirawiwat Thitasiri [TH]: Current 9th in CP standings for Oceania that has top cut some North American regionals.

pokemon international latin america 2017 pokemon world championships

Latin America

Total # of Invites: 57

Current #1: Sebastian Escalante

Highest Individual CP Total: 1525

International Top Cut Appearances: 5

International Championship Titles: 0

An underrated region for sure, but I’m placing them near the bottom in terms of overall strength. That’s not to say that Latin America is a weak region, they surely proved their strength with appearances in all but one International Top Cut. Unfortunately, most of those placings were because of one player who we’ll get to shortly. Latin America may be home to the highest CP total in the World, but the drop off between number one and two is a pretty steep 500. Latin America has proven themselves at the International level, and I’m not saying they don’t have a shot to win it all. What I’m saying is that Latin America’s hope for a World Championship likely rests in the hands of one player who I’m putting the Smart Money on.

Smart Money’s On: Sebastian Escalante

sebastian escalante 2017 pokemon world championships

Image from @SebasVGC on Twitter

Say hello to the number one player in the world by Championship Points with a staggering total of 1525. Escalante is no doubt Latin America’s strongest player, and the results perfectly reflect his skill level. He wasn’t able to make it to the Top 8 at his home International, but he’s managed to hold his own overseas with two Top Cut appearances in Melbourne and Indianapolis.

One issue I notice with Escalante however, is his choice of team. His team for both Internationals he cut were nearly identical and there’s no doubt players know how the team works and how he plays it. Knowing this, Escalante will likely change things up for World’s, but who knows how well he’ll do if he decides to go with a different team. Still, the team he has is powerful enough with the combo of Alolan Persian and Snorlax, and maybe sticking to what he knows might be his best option.

Other Notables:

 Diego Ferreria [CH]: Placed 10th at the North American International Championships

Japan & Korea

Total # of Invites: 

Japan: 50

Korea: 8

National Champions:

Japan – Ryota Ootsubo

Korea – Jeonghun Shin

Japan and Korea have much more punishing qualification requirements to get in to the World Championships, which leads to a ton of new faces every year. Big names like 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami from Japan and 2014 World Champion Sejun Park will not be in attendance…for the video game at least. Sejun is going for the TCG title which leaves us with a bunch of players looking to make a name for themselves on the World’s stage.

For anyone who’s followed VGC for a while, there’s little doubt that Japan is an insanely strong region despite their terrible tournament structure. Sejun Park put Korea on the map in 2014, but since then we haven’t heard much. I’d give the edge to Japan since they’ve shown consistent success over the years and their unconventional take on the metagame might be key for a successful World’s run.

Smart Money’s On: Honestly any player from the Top 8 of Japan or Korea’s Nationals (favoring Japan here)

The rest of the field

South Africa

Total # of Invites: 2

Current #1: Marc Kramer

Highest Individual CP Total: 352

Russia

Total # of Invites: 2

Current #1: Kelly-Kato

Highest Individual CP Total: 413

There’s not really a whole lot to say here, but I’m hoping that we see someone from one of these two countries come out of nowhere and do well.

Final Thoughts

That’s our take on who will come out on top in Anaheim. I realize I picked all of the number one players for each region as the “Smart Money” pick, but I hope the reasoning I gave for each justifies why I feel they’re the strongest from each region. Regardless of which region seems the strongest, there are sure to be a ton of surprises to come out of this year’s World Championships. Will we see a single country dominate Top Cut like previous years or will 2017 bring new nations to the top stages of the World Championships? All of these questions and more will be answered this weekend in Anaheim!

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!

Other previously non-credited images from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

pokemon world championships 2017 metagame preview

Pokemon World Championships metagame preview

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

Tapu’s and Terrains

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

tapu koko pokemon world championships 2017

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

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

tapu fini pokemon world championships 2017

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

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

Boosting Beasts

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

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

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

buzzwole pokemon world championships 2017

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

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

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

Trick Room: More than just Snorlax

snorlax pokemon world championships 2017

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

gigalith pokemon world championships 2017

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

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

mudsdale pokemon world championships 2017

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

 

What about the Setters?

porygon2 pokemon world championships 2017

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

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

Weather Wars

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

 

Japan’s Influence?tsareena pokemon world championships 2017

 

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

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

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

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

Popular Cores/Team Compositions 

AFK (Arcanine/Fini/Kartana)

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

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Tailwind + Tapu Lele 

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

Goodstuffs

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

NBA (Nihilego/Tapu Bulu/Arcanine)

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

A Tournament Full of Surprises

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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


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Pokemon world championships

Five Pokemon that could be “the play” for the 2017 World Championships

The 2017 World Championships are just over a week away, and after a long hiatus, it’s almost time for competitors to start wrapping up their teams. With the metagame pretty much becoming stagnant after the North American International Championships, many players might be wondering how a potential World Championship metagame will develop. Will the “goodstuffs” Pokemon of the format reign supreme? Or will the world be blown away by a brand new strategy designed to bring down the format’s best Pokemon?

Of course, with any big tournament, deviations from the metagame are essential to avoid being an easy, predictable opponent. Much like our list prior to the North American International Championships, here are five Pokemon that could be valuable additions to a World Championship winning team.

Tapu Bulu

tapu bulu pokemon world championships

I know, I know.

“Tapu Bulu was on the last list you did!” I hear you angrily screaming at your computer screen.

Just hear me out.

There were only two teams that featured Tapu Bulu in Day 2 of the North American International Championships and zero that appeared in the recent Liverpool Regionals Top 8. While these stats don’t make Tapu Bulu look too great, those two teams in Indianapolis placed in the Top 16 and Top 8 respectively. I think this shows more than anything that a well-played Tapu Bulu team can be very threatening, and it seems that every tournament has shown us a different team that can work well with Tapu Bulu.

The NBA (Nihilego, Bulu, Arcanine) core is still incredibly strong. Now popular with Hariyama, you instantly have four team members that are well equipped to deal with the metagame. Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain is a very useful tool in order to nerf the sweeping potential of the now popular Choice Scarf variant of Garchomp, while also offering valuable HP recovery over time. Plus, being a solid way of disrupting the rest of the Tapu Pokemon is nice too.

In addition to the fantastic “Surge” ability, Tapu Bulu has undergone a ton of variation to its move sets. Horn Leech and Wood Hammer are almost staples in order to deal damage under Grassy Terrain, while also having a recovery option, but the third move slot is quite open. A Tapu Bulu could either opt for a supportive move like Substitute, Disable, Leech Seed or Whirlwind or go right on the offensive with moves like Bulk Up, Superpower, Stone Edge and Nature’s Madness.

Bottom line: Tapu Bulu is a very versatile Pokemon that I seem to gush over in every metagame-related piece I write. I won’t even get into the mind games with Speed and defensive investment that can throw your opponent off from turn 0. I guarantee at least two or three will make it into Anaheim’s Top Cut and I’m sure they’ll all be on different types of teams with very different builds.

Tapu Fini

tapu fini pokemon world championships

Tapu Fini is by no means “underrated”, but its usage has dropped a bit with Tapu Bulu on the rise and Tapu Koko remaining on top. Still, I mentioned in my NA International Championships Recap how big Toxic was and how big it could be in Anaheim. I also mentioned how good Tapu Fini is at stopping Toxic, which is why it’s on this list.

Actually, instead of Toxic, we’ll put Will-o-Wisp on here too. Basically, I believe the status effects of burn and poison will be popular techs players use to stop the beast known as Snorlax. These status effects are still able to hinder many other Pokemon in the format, and what better way to stop the infliction of status conditions than Misty Terrain.

Other than Misty Terrain, Tapu Fini remains prevalent as a core member of the AFK (Arcanine-Fini-Kartana) and FAKEPG team compositions and is still a solid Pokemon. It has amazing defenses while also being able to go on the offensive with either a Choice Specs item or after a couple of Calm Mind boosts. Being a slower Tapu, it’s able to disrupt faster, opposing Terrains while also providing your team protection from unwanted burns or poison.

Tapu Fini is looking like the go-to anti-Toxic tech for the World Championships. If double-Tapu teams are popular in Anaheim, expect Tapu Fini to be on a majority of them.

Hariyama

hariyama pokemon world championships

Second only to Snorlax, I would consider Hariyama one of the best anti-Trick Room Pokemon in the format. Hariyama is incredibly versatile both in and out of Trick Room, being able to disrupt your opponent with Fake Out or deal big damage to popular Trick Room Pokemon like Porygon2, Gigalith and Snorlax.

The main aspect of Hariyama’s versatility is definitely its plethora of viable moves. Fake Out and Feint are great ways to disrupt your opponent, making up for Hariyama’s low speed by having priority. A strong Fighting-type move in Close Combat is sure to scare off most of the metagame’s Trick Room abusers. Hariyama also has access to great coverage moves like Heavy Slam, Poison Jab, Knock Off and Bulldoze which compliment Hariyama’s most popular item: the Assault Vest.

Remember how I said moves like Toxic and Will-o-Wisp would likely be popular in Anaheim? Well, Hariyama’s access to Guts could be another great anti-status tech to add to a team. We’ve seen Flame Orb be used on Hariyama in the past, most notably by Drew Nowak and Gavin Michaels, but now self-inflicted burn may not even be necessary.

For any World Championship competitor looking to combat the onslaught of Snorlax that is sure to dominate the field, Hariyama remains a solid pick. Knock Off + Close Combat shuts down the majority of Trick Room modes while Fake Out and Feint can disrupt any opponent regardless of Hariyama’s speed tier. All while Hariyama soaks up hits with its great HP and defensive stats.

If I could recommend any Fighting-type to add to a Worlds team, it would no doubt be Hariyama.

Metagross

metagross pokemon world championships

Another Pokemon we have making a return appearance is the one and only Metagross. Metagross remains one of the format’s most underrated Pokemon in my opinion, but I think a number of players are catching on to how good it can be.

One of the main reasons I decided to put Metagross on this list is that is just scored a regional victory over in Liverpool as a member of a Rain team. Much like the Japanese National Champion team, Thomas Plater chose Metagross as his Steel-type of choice to take advantage of the Rain’s nerfing of Fire-type attacks. When you eliminate Metagross’ Fire weakness, its defensive typing becomes even better. Dark and Ghost aren’t the most common types in VGC 2017, and Ground-types are easily dealt with thanks to the Rain mode.

Along with being a solid Pokemon defensively, Metagross does a whole lot of damage. Its ability Clear Body makes it so its Attack cannot be lowered, so not even Intimidate can slow it down. Its attacking options remain strong with moves like Zen Headbutt and Meteor Mash, but the shaky accuracy is a big deterrent for most players. Still, with an item like a Choice Band or Weakness Policy combined with a potential Psychic Terrain, very few things in the format want to take a hit from Metagross.

Alolan Marowak

alolan marowak pokemon world championships

I’ve already dedicated an entire article to Marowak’s Alolan form, but here’s a quick rundown on why Marowak is a great choice for a Worlds team:

  • Its Lightningrod ability makes it pretty much a counter to most Electric-type Pokemon in the format, mainly Tapu Koko.
  • A monstrous Attack-stat that can easily make use of Trick Room due to its naturally low speed.
  • Versatile third-move options
  • Great synergy with other good Pokemon in the format (ex. Celesteela, Tapu Fini, etc.)

If you’re tired of using Arcanine, Alolan Marowak is the perfect replacement Fire-type. It beats (arguably) the best Pokemon in the format, while also being able to dent a number of other Pokemon due to its amazing Attack stat. It doesn’t have the speed or defense of Arcanine, but its supportive capability and damage output make it a solid choice for a World Championship team.

Versatility is the key

One aspect of each of these Pokemon that makes them all great is their shared versatility. Each Pokemon on this list functions in a main role but can expand that role through different moves, abilities or builds. Basically, each of these Pokemon has the ability to be unpredictable, and being unpredictable is a quality that is essential to a successful Worlds team.

Shaking up the metagame with a team that works is the key to winning a World Championship, and I believe these five Pokemon can accomplish that goal.

Next time, we’ll take a look at the potential Worlds metagame as a whole, and what World Championship competitors should look out for when putting the final touches on their team.

Thanks for reading!


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Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

vgc 2018 liverpool regional championships

VGC 2018 Liverpool Regional Championships recap

*Note: We’re labeling Liverpool under VGC 2018 as the Championship Points earned from this tournament will go towards the 2018 season.

It’s weird to think about, but we’ve already had our first 2018 regional before the 2017 World Championships. Congratulations to Thomas Plater who is your Liverpool regional champion, and is now more than two thirds of the way to his worlds invite.

Liverpool was a tournament that just kind of…happened. No major coverage or even a stream came from the event, which was odd, but considering the timing it’s not surprising. Most of Europe’s biggest names made it to the event. Interestingly, usual favorites like Markus Stadter and Alex Gomez weren’t present in the Top Cut.

To be honest, there’s not a whole lot to say about Liverpool, but unfortunately this event did generate a controversy that caused a rather large uproar on Twitter. But before we get to all of that, let’s take a look at the results.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

1. Thomas Plater

2. Jamie Dixon

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3. Arash Ommati

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4. Daniel Oztekin

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5. Simone Perilli

6. Alessio Yuri Boschetto

7. Rafa Montes

8. Nico Davide Cognetta

Do the Top 8 teams reflect a potential Worlds Top Cut?

Possibly, but I don’t expect the number of familiar/standard compositions that made it into Liverpool’s Top 8 to dominate Anaheim’s.

I expected going into this tournament that a lot of European top players would not try too hard to team build for this tournament, as all of that creativity should be going towards a potential Worlds team. As a result, we have goodstuffs, two FAKEPG teams and a couple of familiar Tapu Lele teams. Without much of a reason for Europe’s Worlds competitors to team build for Liverpool, standard was likely the best call.

The only real interesting team here is probably Daniel Oztekin’s Torkoal/Lilligant team. Despite the team being from another player who Oztekin credited on his Twitter, the team had quite a few interesting tricks. Speed Swap Pheromosa, a Shell Smashing Torkoal and Oranguru as the team’s Trick Room setter to name a few. I don’t expect Sun to be an archetype that’s been forgotten come Worlds, and this team shows how crazy a Sun team can be.

Consistent teams are always solid choices for a tournament, but due to the nature of the Worlds metagame, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more interesting stuff in Anaheim’s Top Cut.

Trouble in Top 4

Ruling controversies are never fun to talk about, but there was a rather large one that came out of Liverpool. 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati was playing his Top 4 set against Jamie Dixon. Ommati had already won game one  and looked to have already secured game two. The game came down to Ommati’s Whimsicott Encore-stalling Dixon’s Porygon2, at which point Ommati suggested to Dixon that he should forfeit in order to save time and DS charge.

According to Ommati, Dixon agreed to forfeit, but a judge, overhearing Arash basically saying to his opponent “you should forfeit” decided to give Ommati a game loss for a violation of the rules. This distraction, Ommati claims, caused Ommati to misclick and essentially give the game to his opponent. Since game two had concluded before the ruling was decided, the judge ended up applying the game loss to game three instead, essentially giving the set to Dixon.

My thoughts

For those unfamiliar, the official Play! Pokemon rules specifically outlaw the manipulation of a match through “intimidation or distraction.” Basically, it is unsportsmanlike to ask your opponent to scoop the game to you.

To be fair, in this situation, Ommati was not intimidating or distracting his opponent, and it’s unlikely that there was any malicious intent behind Ommati’s suggestion. Although, asking your opponent to forfeit shouldn’t be allowed in any circumstance, especially considering this was a regional semifinal and Dixon should be allowed to play the game out if he wants. Also, it turns out that due to the mechanic of Encore ending if a move runs out of PP, Ommati was not 100% guaranteed the win, but the game was still heavily in his favor.

As for the ruling, I don’t 100% agree with this one. The game loss should have been applied to game two since the details seem to indicate that’s when this whole situation occurred. Though, if this happened in-between games, then it would make sense for the loss to be applied to game three. Then there’s the whole issue of Ommati’s claim that the judge distracting him caused him to lose game two, which doesn’t seem very fair to him as a player.

This situation as a whole could’ve been handled a lot better, but the bottom line is that asking your opponent to scoop the game regardless of the circumstances is never a good idea. Also, a player in this situation such as Dixon had a valid win condition and should be allowed to play for it.

Final thoughts

If it wasn’t already clear, Liverpool is quite a mixed bag for me. For one, the whole ruling controversy was a mess and I’m tired of seeing people argue back and forth about issues like this. Also, I don’t really agree with having 2018 tournaments BEFORE WORLDS. This tournament would’ve been fine if it had happened in September or later, but to have it in the time where most players are preparing for the season’s biggest tournament just seems distracting.

There is something positive that I would like to mention however. Matteo Dorrell, a European VGC commentator who’s well known in the community, posted a short statement before the event about why Liverpool was not going to be streamed. He claims that there was a miscommunication that unfortunately made the stream not possible. At the end of his post, he mentioned that he is optimistic about future streaming of European events and will prioritize his role as a streamer and caster.

Glad to see some good news come out of this event. Now with our first major 2018 event out of the way (still feels weird to write that) let’s again turn our attention towards the World Championships that are now just under three weeks away.

Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter @aricbartleti


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Pokemon Sprite Images from Pokémon Sun and Moon

Featured Image from Tournamentcenter.eu

 

Pokemon 2018 season announced: The most important changes

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

World Championship qualification bar 

Pokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

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

Removal of BFL for Regional and International Championships

Pokemon 2018 season announcedPokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

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

Improved prize money payouts

Pokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

Speaking of which…

A ton of events announced already

Pokemon 2018 season announced

Image thanks to @PokeStats_TCG on Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

So this is the 2018 format?

Pokemon 2018 season announced

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

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

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

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

The official announcement for the 2018 season:

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

Overview of 2018 season:

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

Pokemon.com’s Official Tournament Locator

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

Information on each of the tournament levels:

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

Updated Rules Documents (thanks @ParanoidOddish on Twitter) 

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

Forum post on @TrainerTower discussing the 2018 season announcement

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

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

  • https://twitter.com/JenBamo

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anaheim open

Is the Anaheim Open a good idea?

With the World Championships just under a month away, a topic that’s causing a fuss in the community is a side event known as the Anaheim Open. The Anaheim Open is being held at the World Championships this year and awards regional-level Championship Points to those who place well.

Upon closer examination, this seemingly harmless side-event could actually have a major impact on the 2018 season. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Anaheim Open, and evaluate whether or not it should exist.

pokemon world championships 2017 logo

Pros

It’s a huge incentive for more spectators to attend the World Championships

After the spectator ban at last year’s World Championships, it seems TPCi is almost pushing for spectator turnout. A tournament with Championship Points on the line is an incentive for any competitor. Also it is a great way for spectating players to spend their time while their friends compete in the main event. Entry does come at a bit of a hefty cost, but the potential to get a solid head-start on the 2018 season is huge for any player looking to compete next year.

It could be an “easier” tournament to earn this much CP

This is more of a pro for a prospective player, but not so much when evaluating the quality of the CP being earned. With most of the top players already competing in the main event, that would mean the Open would be an “easier” tournament right?

Well…not exactly.

Not every single top player in the world will be competing at Worlds, plus the tournament is open to Worlds players who fail to qualify for Day 2. It will likely be an “easier” tournament considering most of the world’s finest are battling to become the world champion, but that doesn’t mean winning this tournament will be easy.

It’s open to Worlds competitors too!

Of course, with an event like this, the players competing in the second day of the World Championships are sure to be upset that they missed out on potentially half of a 2018 invite. However, Day 1 players who fail to move on are eligible to compete, but there’s a slight problem.

For a Worlds player, signing up for the Anaheim Open is a gamble, as you’re basically betting on your success at the main event. If you register and end up making it to Day 2, that’s $30 wasted. If you are eliminated from Worlds play, you’re able to compete in the Open, but you’ve lost your opportunity to become World Champion.

There seems to be a negative either way unfortunately.

It’s great practice for events in the Fall 

All tournaments before the end of the year, even after Worlds, will still be using the VGC 2017 ruleset, so having the open is a good opportunity for getting in some high-level practice for fall regionals.

Cons

*Just a disclaimer, a couple of these points are speculation, and could turn out to be less bad than we thought.

 

With this much CP up for grabs this early, this could potentially start the “snowball” effect 

Something that 2017’s CP/travel award structure was notorious for was the snowball effect for players who earned a lot of CP early in the season. Having a lot of CP early on would mean travel awards to other big tournaments, which would then lead to a player gaining an absurd amount of CP by constantly being able travel and earn CP from other large events.

While this was the case for 2017, we’re still not sure if there will be any changes come the 2018 season. This CP earned from the Open could mean a lot less than we think, but I think it’s rational for some to be worried considering how the 2017 season was handled.

Prepare your wallet for entry

For a Masters player, the entry fee for the Anaheim Open is $30. In addition, players in the Open must have at least a World’s spectator badge which means an extra $20 just to be allowed into the event. Plus, if some players are traveling to Anaheim just for this event, there’s also potential airfare and other costs from the trip that stack up as well. With just entry alone, you’re looking at $50 at least for those who need a spectator badge. That’s already higher than the average entry fee for a 2017 regional. If you’re looking to compete in this event, just be prepared to make a sizable investment.

The Anaheim Open’s odd structure

The tournament, we’re assuming, will be run similarly to a normal regional event. The difference for this event however is that one less Swiss round will be played in order to accommodate the Top Cut to include all players with the same record as the 8th seed. Fortunately, this eliminates resistance being a factor in deciding Top Cut, but this does mean extra play-in games will be required, plus there’s the issue of pairing luck in Top Cut.

For those interested, here’s a chart with projected Top Cut numbers for the Open compared to a normal regional.

Anaheim Open

Image from user Wyrm’s Eye on Trainer Tower

So what do we think about the Anaheim Open?

pokemon world championships 2017 anaheim

 

As it looks right now, the Anaheim Open seems fine for the time being. Having such a valuable side-event for 2018 competitors will increase spectator attendance greatly and is a great incentive for those wanting to attend the event without an invite. The Anaheim Open is by no means perfect, as the potential it has to negatively affect the 2018 season is there, in addition to high-performing players at Worlds basically missing out on potentially half an invite plus more for the 2018 season.

Until the 2018 circuit officially begins, we have no way of knowing at the moment how this will affect it. This is something that could be brought back every year at Worlds, so knowing its effects on the upcoming season will be essential in evaluating it further.

For those competing, there’s definitely a ton of benefits, and it would be foolish to pass on unless you aren’t competing next season or just don’t want to pay for it. In the meantime, instead of dwelling on this smaller tournament, let’s shift our focus to the main event and get hyped for the most exciting event of the year.

Thanks for reading!


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Images from Pokémon 

alolan marowak

Alolan Marowak has a bone to pick! – VGC 2017 – The Underrated List

VGC 2017 is a format with basically one Fire-type. At least, that’s someone would think considering how often we see Arcanine on the tournament result pages. Believe it or not, there are other Fire-types that exist in the metagame, and the one we’re looking at today can be a fine team member for someone competing at the World Championships.

Meet Marowak’s Alolan Form. A Pokemon that drastically deviates in typing from its Kantonian counterpart, existing as a Fire/Ghost type. Like Arcanine, Marowak has a very useful supportive ability along with a powerful Flare Blitz to threaten its opponents with. Marowak is no stranger to the Top Cut stage this season, but in the face of Arcanine, this Fire Pokemon is quite underrated. Marowak might be the mix up a Worlds team needs to go all the way, and I’ll tell you why.

Stats & Typing

FireGhost

alolan marowak stats

Images courtesy of Bulbapedia

Stats

At face value, Marowak’s stats aren’t impressive by any means. A mediocre attack stat, terrible speed and alright defenses that are slightly undermined by Marowak’s low HP. Luckily, Marowak has a way to skyrocket its attack stat thanks to something we’ll get into later, which leaves a lot of room for investment into Marowak’s bulk. In a format filled with Trick Room, the low speed isn’t a big deal either, but Marowak does have to worry about slower sweepers that can deal with it.

Type(s)

Fire/Ghost is a very unique type combination that only three other Pokemon have. It’s especially unique to this format considering the relative obscurity of Ghost-types as well as Fire-types (outside of Arcanine of course). Defensively, it’s not great, being weak to Rock, Ground, Water, Dark as well as other Ghost-type attacks. However, offensively, there is little that wants to switch in on a Shadow Bone from Marowak, while Flare Blitz also being a great way to fry a Celesteela. Plus, Marowak’s most common ability does give it an immunity, helping it pretty much hard counter every Electric-type in the format. Speaking of abilities…

Abilities

Lightningrod

By far, Alolan Marowak’s most popular ability, Lightningrod, makes Marowak a hard counter to, arguably, the format’s best Pokemon: Tapu Koko. Thanks to updated mechanics courtesy of the fifth generation, Marowak gains an immunity to Electric-type attacks while receiving a pretty useless Special Attack boost. This ability gives Marowak synergy with most Flying and Water-type Pokemon in the format, while also making an opposing Tapu Koko’s life on the field much more difficult. This is the best ability for Marowak in VGC and likely the one that you’ll want on your team.

Rock Head

Since Marowak has access to Lightningrod, it’s doubtful Rock Head will see use in doubles. Though, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never seen a Rock Head Marowak successfully bluff Lightningrod while taking absolutely no recoil damage from Flare Blitz. It’s solid as a bluff, but for VGC I’d stick with the former.

Cursed Body

A very disruptive ability on a Pokemon like Gengar or Jellicent, but probably not the best choice for Marowak. Disabling moves can be nice, but Cursed Body would likely only come in handy once thanks to Marowak’s sub par bulk.

Movepool

Marowak’s arsenal is admittedly limited, with Flare Blitz, Shadow Bone and Protect being relatively standard. Although, that third move slot has seen some variation, and is capable of carrying some fun tricks.

Learned by Level-up

  • Flare Blitz: Marowak’s main Fire-type attack of choice. Despite the recoil, even a resisted hit from Marowak’s Flare Blitz is sure to do a lot of damage. Usually recommended only for super effective damage, as this next move also can do damage, without Flare Blitz’s recoil.
  • Shadow Bone: A new physical Ghost-type type introduced in Generation 7 that is exclusive to Alolan Marowak. At 80 base power coming off of Marowak’s impressive attack stat, is sure to pack a punch. Not many popular Pokemon resist Ghost-type attacks in VGC 2017, so Shadow Bone is very reliable damage output from Marowak.
  • Bonemerang: A move previously unique to Marowak’s Kantonian lineage has made its way to Alola. Ground-type moves that aren’t Earthquake are always useful, as they are not nerfed by Grassy-Terrain. Another neat aspect of Bonemerang is that while it’s only 50 base power, it hits twice, effectively turning it into a single-target Earthquake that can also bypass a Focus Sash. Despite how good this move sounds, Alolan Marowak doesn’t receive the same type attack boost since its not a Ground-type, so the damage output can be lacking. Also, 90% accuracy isn’t fun to play around with at times.
  • Will-o-Wisp: A lot of physical attackers in this format already don’t like going up against Alolan Marowak, and Will-o-Wisp can further put that matchup in your team’s favor. There are a lot of strong, physical attackers in the format right now, making Will-o-Wisp a nice move to pack on a team.

Learned by TM or HM

  • Substitute: Being a heavy hitter, Marowak often causes defensive plays, and what better way to punish defensive plays than with Substitute. This move will likely work better with a Trick Room mode, as Marowak with a speed advantage is way more dangerous.
  • Toxic: I’ve said before how good I think Toxic is right now, and Marowak is yet another example of a Pokemon who can use it.
  • Rock Slide/Stone Edge/Rock Tomb: A Rock-type move could be nice, but the coverage it provides isn’t really necessary for Alolan Marowak.
  • Rain Dance/Sunny Day: If your weather matchup is this bad, you should probably re-think your team. I would really only advise this in best-of-one play.

Learned from Breeding

  • Detect: Probably better than using Protect so you aren’t affected by Imprison.
  • Perish Song: A late-game win condition and an excellent answer to Eevee teams that actually has seen success on Marowak thanks to Hayden McTavish. Along with Substitute, I’d consider this the best third move option for Marowak.

Potential Held Items

There’s really only one.

Thick Club Alolan MarowakThick Club: Not to be confused with the Rare Bone, the Thick Club is an item that doubles Marowak’s attack stat. This is the only item you should ever run on Marowak, as this item is essential to Marowak’s offensive presence. It’s important to make sure Marowak holds on to this item, as you’ll quickly see how less scary Marowak becomes when it’s boneless.

Checks & Counters

Dark-type Pokemon (Foul Play+Knock Off)

alolan persianalolan muk

Alolan Persian, Alolan Muk and Mandibuzz are likely the biggest threats. Foul Play does a ton of damage to Marowak after its attack boost and Knock Off can remove Marowak’s essential item. Marowak also can’t really do much to Dark-types and will likely not live long enough to try.

Garchomp

Image result for Garchomp

Having both a speed and type disadvantage makes Garchomp a hard stop to any sweep an Alolan Marowak attempts. Marowak will be melted by a Tectonic Rage, and will not appreciate an Earthquake in addition to potential Rough Skin Damage.

Rock-type Pokemon (Nihilego/Gigalith)

nihilegogigalith

Nihilego can easily pick up a free Beast Boost from KOing a Marowak as Marowak’s Special Defense is not well equipped for Nihilego’s Power Gem. Gigalith outspeeds Marowak under Trick Room while Marowak can’t do much back, even with a super effective Bonemerang.

Water-types

Tapu Fini

Marowak hates the rain and will have a hard time dealing with bulky Water-types like Milotic and Tapu Fini. Definitely a better partner than an opponent for Marowak.

Intimidate

arcanine

The bane of most physical sweepers is VGC’s most popular ability: Intimidate. Marowak can out-damage Arcanine but struggles against the likes of Gyarados and Salamence.

Good Teammates 

Gyarados

gyarados

Probably Marowak’s most common (arguably best) partner is Gyarados. Gyarados can be difficult to take down without Electric attacks, which is where Alolan Marowak’s Lightningrod ability comes in. This allows Gyarados to set up Dragon Dances and deal with Marowak’s threats while Marowak can deal with a majority of Gyarados’ threats. This pair does have to watch out for Nihilego and other strong Rock-type attackers.

Celesteela

celesteela

Another Pokemon that appreciates not having to eat a Thunderbolt is VGC’s greatest defensive Pokemon: Celesteela. Celesteela loves the Lightningrod support, but Marowak doesn’t help much when these two are staring down an Arcanine.

Other Water/Flying-types

And basically every other Pokemon in the format that hates dealing with Electric-type attacks.

Trick Room

porygon2

Since Marowak is relatively slow, Trick Room seems like a natural choice. However, Marowak isn’t as slow as other popular Trick Room sweepers, so it has to be careful around opposing Snorlax, Araquanid and Gigalith.

So why use Alolan Marowak?

Why not use Arcanine?

Well, honestly, Marowak seems like an excellent metagame call for Worlds. We’re all aware how popular Tapu Koko is, and the popularity of Electrium Z makes Lightningrod a terrifying ability for most Tapu Koko to go up against. If you’re missing Arcanine’s Intimidate, Gyarados is a great team mate for Marowak, that provides both Intimidate and insane offensive pressure when those two are on the field.

Hopefully this showed off another great Fire-type in a metagame seemingly dominated by Arcanine. Marowak has a ton of fire power and can be a great supportive Pokemon with its Lightningrod ability.

Just be careful. If you have your own Electric-type on your team, try not to accidentally switch Marowak in when you click Thunderbolt. Trust me, it happens way more often than you think.

Thanks for reading!


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Images from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

pokemon weakness cup

Pokemon Global Link tournament analysis: Welcome to Weakness Cup!

While we wait for the inevitable showdown in Anaheim, let’s talk about a tournament with much lower stakes that has players excited to compete. Welcome to Weakness Cup, an online, double-battle tournament courtesy of the Pokemon Global Link that is restricted to Pokemon with five or more weaknesses (with some Legendary and all Mythical Pokemon being excluded). While this may sound like a format that features only some of the weakest monsters out there, you’d be surprised how many competitive staples have their fair share of weaknesses.

That being said, a lot of these previously viable Pokemon struggle with the other main restriction of the tournament: the allowed items. Held items in the Weakness Cup are restricted to berries that reduce super effective damage and Weakness Policy. Oh, and there’s also an item clause too so choose your berries and your Weakness Policy user wisely.

Hopefully by now I’ve captured your interest, but right now I can expect that some of you might be asking “Well, how do I build a team for this? What should I be expecting?”

Great questions!

To answer them, let’s take a look at some of the Pokemon that will likely dominate this format, split up into various categories based on their prospective roles on a team.

The full list of eligible Pokemon can be found here (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Fast, Frail Attackers

Greninjagreninja pokemon weakness cup

Greninja is one of the most versatile Pokemon in the game thanks to its Protean ability, allowing it to change into virtually any type it wants. This allows Greninja’s move set to be almost infinitely modifiable, and allows it to carry a plethora of surprise moves. Although Greninja hasn’t seen too much play in doubles, the type coverage it offers for this tournament makes it a fine addition to a team.

Weavileweavile pokemon weakness cup

A fast Fake Out user is always good for a doubles team, and Weavile’s back to serve that very role. Weavile might be a bit underwhelming without a Focus Sash, but having access to strong Ice-type attacks in a format filled with Grass types is valuable. Knock Off is also a great tool for setting up KO’s on Pokemon that lose their berry.

Breloombreloom pokemon weakness cup

Breloom isn’t nearly as fast as the previously mentioned Pokemon, but it does get a solid priority move in Mach Punch. Fighting-type coverage in a format full of Dark, Rock and Ice-types makes Breloom a great late game sweeper with Mach Punch’s increased base power thanks to Technician. Spore can also be helpful, but there are a lot of Grass-types that can easily switch in.

Support

Togekisstogekiss pokemon weakness cup

Togekiss was one that a lot of people were surprised had more than five weaknesses due to just how bulky it is. Being one of the only viable Fairy-type Pokemon in the format, Togekiss loves being able to redirect the Dark, Dragon and Fighting-type attacks with Follow Me. Plus, Tailwind offers a solid speed control option that even allows Togekiss to go on the offensive with its terrifying Air Slash flinch chance. A Pokemon you’ll definitely see on a lot of high rated teams, probably paired with a set-up sweeper.

Whimsicott whimsicott pokemon weakness cup

One of the game’s most formidable Prankster users still has a place in this format despite also being without its signature Focus Sash. Whimsicott can do a lot of things. It can set up Tailwind, Encore opponents into Protect or a set-up move, Taunt opposing support Pokemon and even threaten some damage with Moonblast. With Terrakion also being present, the classic TerraCott combo threatens to sweep unprepared teams with Whimsicott using Beat Up to boost Terrakion’s attack by four stages. A Pokemon that suffers a lot from how frail it is, but if played right, can be really annoying to play against.

Aerodactyl Aerodactyl pokemon weakness cup

Keeping with the theme of Pokemon who miss their Focus Sashes, Aerodactyl is also a solid support Pokemon for Weakness Cup. Sky Drop can disrupt your opponent’s moves while also setting up some cool combos like Weavile using a boosted Assurance on the Sky Drop target. Also, fast Rock Slide is always a win condition that Aerodactyl can set up from turn one.

Dragons

Hydreigon hydreigon pokemon weakness cup

A destructive force that thrives in the absence of Fairy-type Pokemon, Hydreigon is a solid Special attacker that only slightly misses holding a boosting item.

The Lati Twins latios and latias pokemon weakness cup

Normally, players favor Latios since it’s the more offensive of the two, but Latias could be a solid Weakness Policy candidate due to its natural bulk. While these two may not thrive on dropping Draco Meteors in this format, they both have a variety of other useful attacking options coupled with being able to use Tailwind.

Guzzlordguzzlord pokemon weakness cup

Poor Guzzlord. Always having to be associated with the word “weak”. Guzzlord actually wouldn’t be a bad choice for a Trick Room sweeper, as its natural bulk pairs well with a Roseli Berry to cover its Fairy weakness. Its ability to boost its Special Attack turns it into a potent sweeper too.

Kommo-o Kommo-o pokemon weakness cup

A lot of people were disappointed with Kommo-o, but it could see some play in this tournament. Like I said, Fighting-types are strong in this metagame, and Kommo-o doesn’t really have to worry about Fairy-types outside of Togekiss. Kommo-o has viability on the physical and special side and could see play as a formidable attacker with its solid stats and impressive move pool.

Trick Room Setters

Slowbro/Slowking slowbro and slowking pokemon weakness cup

These two are pretty inter-changeable depending on which defense stat you prefer. Both Slowbro and Slowking are insanely bulky, have solid move pools and can heal off damage with Slack Off and the Regenerator ability. With the help of the Colbur berry, these two don’t have to worry about taking a Dark-type attack in order to set up Trick Room, but they do need to fear Grass and Ghost-types.

Chandelure chandelure pokemon weakness cup

This format does lack solid Fire-types, but Chandelure is by far the best while also being a viable Trick Room setter. A monstrous Special Attack stat that is able to fire off strong Heat Waves and Shadow Balls makes Chandelure an offensive powerhouse that is also able to give your team some support.

Trevenant trevenant pokemon weakness cup

Trevenant is always a tough Pokemon to deal with, and the amount of Fighting and Rock-types works very well in its favor. Having the ability to spread burns and recover its health with Harvest and Horn Leech, don’t be surprised if your team has trouble dealing with this thing.

Trick Room Attackers

Gigalith gigalith pokemon weakness cup

Arguably the best Weakness Policy user in the format, outside of Tyranitar, Gigalith can tear through teams if it’s able to boost. Even without a boost, Gigalith’s excellent Attack works very well with spamming Rock Slide under Trick Room. Its attacking move pool may be kind of shallow, but there’s always the supportive option of Wide Guard which can be a good best-of-one tech to catch opponents off-guard.

Crabominable crabominable pokemon weakness cup

The reason this lovable crab makes it onto this list is because the offensive typing of Ice/Fighting is amazing for this metagame. Crabominable has some strong attacking options too, and can easily abuse Trick Room to start sweeping. Don’t sleep on this monster.

Other Offensive Powerhouses

Tapu Bulu tapu bulu pokemon weakness cup

The only Island Guardian in the format is certainly one not to be trifled with. In a format filled with Grass-types, Tapu Bulu can both boost itself as well as other Grass Pokemon without having to worry about losing its Terrain. Grassy Terrain also makes Earthquake a lot weaker, which can help Rock and Fire-type teammates while also recovering some health. As the only terrain-setter, I’d expect to see a lot of Tapu Bulu.

Tyranitar tyranitar pokemon weakness cup

These last two years of VGC have almost made me forget how good of a Pokemon Tyranitar is. Tyranitar has been known in the past to make good use of both Chople Berry (lessens Fighting-type super effective damage) and Weakness Policy, so it seems like a natural fit for this metagame. The combination of Togekiss and Tyranitar looks to be a popular choice considering Tyranitar benefits immensely from Togekiss’ typing and Follow Me support. Another Pokemon I’d expect to see a lot of.

Serperior serperior pokemon weakness cup

Being able to spam a powerful move like Leaf Storm while also boosting your Special attack with Contrary is what makes Serperior a threat. Serperior hasn’t seen too much play in doubles, but I think it could still make waves in this format.

Terrakion terrakion pokemon weakness cup

Finally, we have the only musketeer that I expect to see play: Terrakion. I touched on the TerraCott combination already, but also having a fast Fighting-type that can also use Rock Slide makes Terrakion a pretty strong pick. The TerraCott combo will likely be the main way Terrakion is played though, because a) it’s really strong and b) it’s best-of-one.

So that’s just a bit of a taste of Weakness Cup! This is a tournament that I’m personally a huge fan of and I would love to see more interest in it. VGC and Doubles players should feel right at home, with the item restrictions feeling like enough of a twist to make it more challenging.

This tournament may not have any big prizes or glory on the line, but it seems like a fun format to play for a weekend. Plus, for playing just three games you are eligible to receive the unreleased Mega Stones Altarianite, Ampharosite, Latiosite and Latiasite. Registration begins on the Pokemon Global Link starting July 20th and ends on July 27th. The competition runs from the 28th to the 30th.

Thanks for reading!


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Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Featured Image from Pokemon Global Link

pokemon big 6

Taking a look at VGC 2017’s potential “Big 6”

After securing a second place finish at the North American International Championships following numerous Top Cut appearances, this team composition of VGC 2017’s best is looking like it has become VGC’s new “Big 6” archetype.

The “Big 6” is a name given to a team archetype that usually consists of a combination of the best Pokemon in a given format. In 2015 there was CHALK and 2016 found its “Big 6” very early on with the popularity of Xerneas and Primal Groudon. It doesn’t take a teambuilding genius to put together a successful “Big 6” team, as we’ve seen just how effective slapping the format’s six best Pokemon on a team has been.

Whether or not this team is worthy of being called the “Big 6”, there’s no denying the consistency of its recent results. Let’s take a closer look at each member of the team, as well as some other potential options that could appear on future variants.

Tapu Koko 

tapu koko pokemon big 6

Nature(s): Timid, Modest

Item(s): Life Orb, Choice Specs, Assault Vest, Electrium Z

Common Moves: Thunderbolt, Volt Switch, Dazzling Gleam, Hidden Power (Ice, Fire), Sky Drop, Nature’s Madness

Undeniably the format’s most consistent Pokemon, Tapu Koko is no doubt the Island Guardian of choice for this team. It’s speed, power and flexibility allow it to function in a multitude of roles which range from dealing damage or supporting its team mates. Going into the North American International Championships, we saw the rise of the Assault Vest item on a majority of Tapu Koko. In addition to adding to Tapu Koko’s defenses, The Assault Vest allowed for great supportive moves like Nature’s Madness and Sky Drop which can be crucial in setting up KO’s for Tapu Koko’s partners.

However, despite the Assault Vest’s popularity prior to Indianapolis, there were no Assault Vest Tapu Koko in the Master’s Top Cut. Instead, players favored the Electrium Z, allowing Tapu Koko to fire off a powerful, terrain-boosted Electric attack. Having access to Gigavolt Havoc allows Tapu Koko to claim crucial KO’s on less defensive variants of Arcanine as well as opposing Tapu Koko. Paul Chua opted for Thunder on his move set, deciding that the risk of Thunder’s shaky accuracy was worth the increase of Gigavolt Havoc’s base power.

Cesar Reyes proved that Choice Specs was still a worthy item choice, enabling Tapu Koko to threaten consistent damage without needing to set up. Life Orb variants still exists, but my guess is we won’t see nearly as many on the World’s stage.

Arcanine

arcanine pokemon big 6

Nature(s): Adamant, Jolly, Careful

Item(s): Iapapa Berry, Figy Berry, Mago Berry, Firium Z, Assault Vest, Choice Band

Common Moves: Flare Blitz, Extreme Speed, Will-o-Wisp, Snarl, Helping Hand, Toxic

Sitting up there with Tapu Koko as arguably the format’s best Pokemon, it’s no wonder Arcanine appears on this team. With the format’s lackluster amount of good Fire-types, Arcanine’s great base stats and access to Intimidate make it a solid fit for most VGC 2017 teams.

Arcanine is able to function in both an offensive and a supportive role. Flare Blitz and Extreme Speed are pretty much standard for all Arcanine variants, but Arcanine’s third move slot can see a ton of variation. Helping Hand looks to be the most popular according to Indy’s Top Cut, as the Helping Hand boost can be crucial for Arcanine’s team mates to pick up KO’s. Snarl is a move that can almost be spammed at points in order to severely weaken the opponent’s special attackers. Will-o-Wisp is also not a bad option for punishing physical attackers as Pokemon like Alolan Muk and Snorlax become a lot less scary when afflicted with a burn. Finally, Toxic can be a great surprise move that can rack up much needed damage on slower, more defensive Pokemon like Snorlax and Porygon2.

Arcanine can certainly be used in a variety of ways, but we’re likely to see the defensive variants of Arcanine dominate the World’s stage.

Garchomp

garchomp pokemon big 6

Nature(s): Jolly, Adamant

Item(s): Groundium Z, Choice Scarf, Assault Vest

Common Moves: Earthquake, Rock Slide, Fire Fang, Flamethrower, Poison Jab, Swords Dance

Garchomp’s been a staple in VGC in the absence of Landorus, and the implementing of Z moves in Generation 7 have made it even more threatening. Most teams in the format struggle to resist Ground-type attacks, and teams with poor answers to Garchomp can find themselves being swept rather easily. Groundium Z gives Garchomp an insanely powerful attack that does a ton of damage, especially after a Swords Dance. The rising popularity of Assault Vest Tapu Koko created a deadly duo with Tapu Koko’s fast Sky Drop next to a Swords Dance Garchomp. This combination is able to guarantee KO’s on slower Pokemon, and serves as a great way to deal with opposing Trick Room modes.

If it weren’t for Paul Chua’s impressive use of the Choice Scarf on Garchomp, odds are I wouldn’t have touched on it. Definitely something that can catch an opponent off-guard. A Choice Scarfed Garchomp has the capability to run through teams that aren’t equipped to deal with it. Having two spam-able moves in Rock Slide and Earthquake, make the Choice Scarf a pretty good win condition when set up right. We saw Paul Chua use this set effectively after whittling down his opponent’s Pokemon in order for Garchomp to quickly pick up KO’s with Earthquake. Also, a fast Rock Slide is always threatening with that terrifying 30% flinch chance.

After Chua’s run in Indianapolis, I expect Choice Scarf to become a lot more popular. Although, Groundium Z is by far the more flexible option, and will likely remain the most common variant.

Celesteela

celesteela pokemon big 6

Nature(s): Relaxed, Impish, Modest, Adamant

Item(s): Leftovers, Pinch berries, Assault Vest

Common Moves: Heavy Slam, Leech Seed, Flamethrower, Wide Guard, Air Slash, Flash Cannon

Just barely holding off Kartana as VGC 2017 most common Ultra Beast, we have Celesteela. Celesteela is an amazing defensive Pokemon with its fantastic typing, move pool, and immunity to Earthquake. A majority of Celesteela opt for the standard Heavy Slam, Leech Seed and Flamethrower move set, but the North American International Championships showed us a couple new tricks. Baris Ackos ran Air Slash on his Celesteela perhaps as a way to hit Buzzwole while also having the chance to flinch slower opponents. Paul Chua decided protecting his team with Wide Guard was more valuable than hitting Kartana with Flamethrower.

Celesteela might appear standard in team preview, but like I said, Celesteela has a very diverse move pool. Attacking variants of Celesteela aren’t unheard of, but by far the most consistent Celesteela set is the standard Leech Seed variant. Let’s hope that World’s doesn’t subject us to any Celesteela stall wars, especially if none of them are running Flamethrower.

Snorlax

snorlax pokemon big 6

Nature(s): Brave, Impish, Sassy, Adamant

Item(s): Pinch Berries (Figy, Mago, Iapapa)

Common Moves: Return, Frustration, Facade, Curse, Belly Drum, Recycle, Wild Charge, High Horsepower

Where would this team be without a Trick Room answer? Indianapolis showed us that Snorlax is in and Gigalith is (potentially) out. Snorlax is the very definition of a tank. It takes a ton of damage to take one of these things down, but only if its not able to Recycle its berry.

Depending on whether or not a Trick Room setter is present, Snorlax can run either Curse or Belly Drum to set itself up. Curse is a lot safer since it also boosts Snorlax’s Defense and is far less of a commitment. Belly Drum is the more aggressive option that puts Snorlax in a better sweeping position at the immediate cost of its berry. The Curse variant is the more popular option for this team due to its consistency, and allows for Snorlax to work better outside of Trick Room.

In regards to Snorlax’s move options, we saw a lot of change to what looks like a pretty standard Pokemon. Facade was present on both Snorlax in the Master’s finals which was likely a great call for a tournament that featured the use of Toxic. In exchange for Snorlax’s coverage, Stockpile was seen on some Belly Drum variants as a way of adding more bulk in addition to Snorlax’s monstrous Attack boost.

Snorlax looks to be VGC 2017’s most consistent Trick Room Pokemon regardless if a team has a way to set up Trick Room. Curse will likely see more play in Anaheim over Belly Drum, but both sets are equally viable.

Alolan Ninetales

alolan ninetales pokemon big 6

Nature(s): Timid

Item(s): Focus Sash, Light Clay

Common Moves: Blizzard, Freeze Dry, Icy Wind, Aurora Veil, Roar, Encore

Finally, we have probably the most expendable member of the team: Alolan Ninetales. Even Paul Chua mentioned in his tournament report that he brought this Pokemon the least over the course of the weekend. Basically, Alolan Ninetales is really only needed for Aurora Veil. Other than that, spamming Blizzard is nice in some situations but its damage output will leave you hoping for a freeze.

Having Alolan Ninetales is a decent way to check opposing weather, but weather teams aren’t as common as they used to be. Still, having other interesting support options like Roar and Icy Wind can make Ninetales a bit more useful.

There’s a lot of debate over whether or not Alolan Ninetales is a “good” Pokemon, but you have to agree that it can be quite solid in certain situations. Aurora Veil protecting Snorlax is always tough to deal with, which is why we’ve seen this duo before.

Other Options

Trick Room

mimikyu pokemon big 6

With a Pokemon like Snorlax, having a Trick Room setter is never a bad idea. Mimikyu has seen the most play with this archetype since it has great synergy with Snorlax. Porygon2 has awkward synergy with Snorlax, since they’re both Normal type, but Porygon2 is consistent enough to work.

Another Tapu

tapu fini pokemon big 6

Tapu Lele and Tapu Fini have had many great tournament teams next to Tapu Koko, and this team composition could be a great fit as well. Tapu Lele provides another source of damage while Tapu Fini can support the team with Misty Terrain. Having either on the team can help keep the terrain advantage which is always good to have.

Kartana

kartana pokemon big 6

Kartana and Celesteela by no means function the same role per say, but when needing a Steel-type, either one works well. Celesteela will usually be favored due to its use as a defensive pivot and synergy with Garchomp, but Kartana can also work as another offensive option for the team.

Another Trick Room Attacker

gigalith pokemon big 6

Ninetales and Snorlax could easily be swapped out for Porygon2 plus Gigalith or Alolan Muk. Probably not the most likely change considering Snorlax’s overall consistency, but still an option.

So, is this team really the “Big 6” of VGC 2017?

While it has been a consistent team, it’s hard to say at this point. It’s very possible that this team could have a big showing at Worlds and will likely see some variation if players decide to bring it. Overall, this “goodstuffs” team is a solid pick for this stage of the format, but we’ll just have to wait and see if the “Big 6” can have another big tournament run in Anaheim.

Thanks for reading!


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Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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