Mega Metagross Mega Swampert Pokemon VGC

Metagross and Swampert: Two Mega Evolutions looking to dominate the 2018 metagame

The seventh generation introduced new speed mechanics for Mega Evolution, potentially allowing some new Mega’s to share the spotlight for the upcoming VGC 2018 format. By now we’re all familiar with Kangaskhan and Salamence, whose Mega Evolutions dominated the 2014 and 2015 formats. Since then, their abilities (Parental Bond and Aerilate respectively) have taken a welcome nerf to their damage output, offering some well-needed balance for the game.

So back to that mechanic change. In generation six, when Mega Evolution debuted, the speed stats were calculated before the turn started, meaning that Pokemon that received a speed boost upon Mega Evolution would have to wait a turn before they could take advantage of their increased speed stat. Pokemon Sun and Moon altered this mechanic by recalculating the speed of a Pokemon upon Mega Evolution, making it so the speed advantage can be used immediately.

Two Mega Evolutions that gained a huge buff due to this change were Swampert and Metagross. In addition to the speed buff, Mega Swampert and Mega Metagross have also benefited from favorable additions to the game as well as metagame changes that have skyrocketed their viability. This is why these two lesser-known Mega Evolutions should be on every player’s radar come 2018.

Mega Swampert

 

Mega Metagross Mega Swampert Pokemon VGCMega Swampert gains the ability Swift Swim upon Mega Evolution, allowing it to double its speed in the rain. With the addition of Drizzle to Pelipper’s list of abilities, Mega Swampert has gained a rather helpful partner. Pelipper helps Swampert deal with its terrible matchup versus Grass-types while also being immune to Swampert’s Earthquake.

The Battle Spot Doubles metagame is the prime format to test for VGC 2018, and this metagame favors Mega Swampert heavily. New powerhouses like Tapu Koko and old ones like Landorus and Heatran will easily drop to any hit from Mega Swampert, and there are a bunch other Pokemon looking to avoid rain-boosted Waterfalls. Of course Mega Swampert won’t be able to steamroll the format due to the presence of Pokemon like Ferrothorn and Kartana, but its matchup is great against the current field.

I know I’ve already talked about the changed speed mechanics, but Mega Swampert in particular has a neat trick you can pull off with its ability. Say you have a normal Swampert on the field with your Drizzle user (either Pelipper or Politoed) in the back. You can switch into your rain-setter which will set the rain up upon switch in, and then Mega Evolve your Swampert in order to get the Swift Swim speed boost right away. This works because since Mega Evolution now recalculates speed upon Mega Evolution, if rain is set up before Swampert Mega Evolves, the speed stat will recalculate with the speed boost from Swift Swim. Whether or not this was an oversight on the developer’s part is beyond me, but how cool is that?

Mega MetagrossMega Metagross Mega Swampert Pokemon VGC

Unlike Mega Swampert, Mega Metagross actually had some early-format success back in the days of the 2015 season. However, one thing that always held Metagross back was that lack of speed it had on the first-turn after Mega Evolving. Now, Metagross gets that huge 40 base point speed boost immediately. Needless to say, Mega Metagross just got a whole lot better.

Like I said, there are other factors that played into Mega Metagross’ favor outside of the immediate speed boost. With the introduction of the Tapu Pokemon, Fairy-type usage is at an all-time high, which Mega Metagross loves. With the increased base attack stat, Tough Claws ability and a favorable type matchup, Mega Metagross can potentially one-hit-KO three out of the four Island Guardians (with the exception of Tapu Fini who’s just too bulky). Speaking of the Tapu, there’s synergy there too.

Mega Metagross and Tapu Lele seems like a match made in heaven. Both are fast and can hit like trucks on both the physical and special side. Psychic Terrain turns Mega Metagross’ Zen Headbutt into something that may not even count as a “resisted hit” for some Pokemon. Basically, it’s almost too much damage. Also, one of the major annoyances for Mega Metagross known as Sucker Punch not only received a base power nerf but also can’t be used in Psychic Terrain since it’s a priority move. Slap a Hydreigon with these two and you’ve got yourself a solid core and half of a potential World Championship-winning team. Oh also being a Steel-type makes Mega Metagross a solid choice for a rain team, just saying.

With the major nerfs to dominant Mega Evolutions, the conditions seem perfect for previously ignored Mega Evolutions to slide into the spotlight. It’s hard to believe that the likes of Mega Salamence and Mega Kangaskhan could be dethroned, but Mega Metagross and Mega Swampert have already made a strong case for their spot in the top five Mega Evolutions going into the 2018 format. There’s a lot of change coming once the format switches over on January 1, 2018, and what a fun format 2018 is shaping up to be.

Thanks for reading!


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

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Featured Image(s) from the Pokemon anime

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pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Strategies to expect for the remaining 2017 Pokemon VGC season

The 2017 World Championships have come and gone, and so far, two regionals have already taken place. There are still many remaining events that will use the 2017 rule-set, including the London International Championships happening in November. If you are planning on competing in one of these upcoming tournaments, you’re probably wondering what kind of metagame you should prepare for. This can be difficult considering the last two top cuts in Ft. Wayne and Bremen looked almost nothing like Anaheim’s. So, how should you prepare for the post-worlds VGC 2017 metagame? Hopefully we’ll have some answers for you.

An Overview

For starters, I’d like to break down the current metagame into two categories: successful world’s teams and counters.

The three most popular teams to come out of Anaheim’s top cut are Sam Pandelis’ Mandibuzz and Tapu Lele team, Tomoyuki Yoshimura’s take on MetaMence and Paul Ruiz’s Persian and friends composition. The reason I mention these specifically is that all of these teams have appeared on popular VGC YouTubers channels (including but not limited to CybertronProductions, Osirus Studios and Ray Rizzo).

These teams are picking up popularity because they’re 1) Relatively easy to play and 2) Are quite consistent in a number of match ups.

I wouldn’t count on not seeing any other teams from the Top Cut of the World Championships, but if you’re bound to run into any, it will likely be one of these three.

Of course, when teams do well, the next logical step is to figure out a way to counter them. We’ve already seen Mandibuzz and Persian pick up in usage (not just because of Ruiz and Pandelis) but because Foul Play is a solid answer to MetaMence. I’ll get into some other counters in a bit, but your mission as a team builder is to create something that counters the meta and something that counters the counters.

Sounds easy right?

Popular World’s Strategies

I’ve already mentioned the teams from World’s that I think will be the most popular, but adaptations aren’t totally out of the question. These are modes from successful World’s teams that are the most likely to be adapted.

MetaMencesalamence pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

We’ve already dedicated an entire piece to MetaMence, so make sure to check that out if you want a detailed breakdown. One thing I praised MetaMence for is its flexibility in team building, which is why I expect it to return with a different supporting cast.

Foul Play users like Mandibuzz and Persian or bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini and even Milotic are good answers to this combo. Foul Play makes Metagross think twice about wanting to boost while the bulky Water Pokemon can these two for either neutral or super-effective damage.

Mandibuzz, Tapu Lele and Friendsmandibuzz pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Tailwind and Tapu Lele go together so well and it looks like Mandibuzz has taken over Drifblim’s spot as Lele’s speed-boosting partner. This team has become slightly harder to deal with now that Ninetales can buff up its teammates with Aurora Veil while Xurkitree and Garchomp set up in your face. The hyper-offense nature of the team forces a lot of defensive play so setting up and sweeping can be easy for this team to pull off.

Alolan Marowak was clutch for Ryota Otsubo in the finals as Marowak was able to break Pandelis’ Aurora Veil with Brick Break and halt Xurkitree’s Thunderbolts with Marowak’s Lightningrod ability. Tapu Fini works pretty well here too, being able to switch the Terrain and threaten Fairy-type attacks on Mandibuzz and Garchomp. Basically, denying the team set-up by taking away things like Tailwind, Aurora Veil and Psychic Terrain are the way to beat it. It’s tough considering one mistake could lead to Garchomp and/or Xurkitree 2-0’ing you.

Whimsicott’s Z-Nature Powerwhimsicott pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

How could I mention Worlds without talking about the team that won it all? We saw how much of a threat Whimsicott was, being able to fire off priority Z-moves and support Otsubo’s team with Charm and Tailwind. 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati has already earned a Top 4 and Top 8 placing with a team very similar to Otsubo’s with a bit more of a standard approach (Arcanine > Marowak, Garchomp > Krookodile).

While I don’t think Otsubo’s exact team will make big waves post-worlds, Whimsicott might solidify itself as a viable Tailwind supporter.

Persian and Boosting Sweepersalolan persian pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Paul Ruiz showed us yet again how terrifying and annoying Alolan Persian can be to deal with, especially with two monsters who can boost their stats next to it. Persian has a lot of disruptive options at its disposal making it easy for Pokemon like Snorlax to set up and sweep without even needing a Speed advantage. Fake Out can buy you a free turn, Parting Shot weakens your opponent’s threats and Foul Play can eliminate your opponent’s heavy physical hitters.

As for Dragon Dance sweepers, Gyarados and Salamence are great next to Persian. In his team report, Ruiz liked Salamence because of its higher Speed and Attack stats compared to Gyarados. Salamence, arguably, has better matchups, but like Gyarados, it has a 4x weakness to a very common attacking type. Something they also have in common is their heavy hitting Supersonic Skystrike coming off of moves that would normally take two turns to hit (Fly and Bounce respectively). What I personally don’t like about the Flynium-Z route for these two is that their attacking options become severely limited after the Z-move is burned. However, if that Z-move hits into a non-resisted target, expect a KO to start the game.

For counters, Ruiz didn’t like his match up against Mandibuzz and Trick Room (Mimikyu+Snorlax mainly). Mandibuzz does threaten his mostly physical team with Foul Play and can easily take away the speed advantage with Tailwind. Trick Room is threatening simply because this team has a fast Snorlax, allowing most other Snorlax to beat it under Trick Room.

Go check out his team report here!

Counters to Consider

Now here’s the fun part: the counters that you’ll have to counter.

Mandibuzz/Persianalolan persian pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Not to be redundant, but these two have picked up a ton of popularity after Worlds. Both can decimate a boosted Metagross and Snorlax with Foul Play while providing excellent support.

Lightningrodtogedemaru pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Tapu Koko and Xurkitree are as popular as ever following the World Championships, and there’s nothing that these two hate going up against more than Lightningrod (and maybe a Garchomp holding a Choice Scarf). Alolan Marowak looks to be the favorite, but I wouldn’t count out Togedemaru. Togedemaru can be a pain to deal with being able to Fake Out, Encore and flinch your team to death with Zing Zap. Marowak mainly just does damage. Lot’s and lots of damage.

Weathertorkoal pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

News flash: Rain and Sun are still good. It’s mainly the sun I want to talk about though. Since Worlds, Torkoal has won two regionals with a second one appearing in Ft. Wayne’s Top 4. Rain, on the other hand, has had zero appearances. I think players were sleeping on Torkoal while Pelipper and Golduck were tearing up the metagame, but Torkoal can still bring the heat. Whether partnered with Lilligant or under Trick Room, those Eruptions are going to melt teams unprepared for the Sun match up. For any team being built after Worlds, make sure you pack something that can deal with Torkoal, Lilligant and the other usual suspects (Tapu Lele, Pheromosa, etc.).

MimiLaxmimikyu pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

Despite all of the Foul Play, Snorlax is here to stay. Mimikyu looks like its back after an impressive showing at the World Championships as Snorlax’s main Trick Room setter. Mimikyu can be an incredibly annoying Pokemon to deal with especially since it basically has a free hit it can take thanks to Disguise. Not to mention, Ghostium Z has become the go-to item for Mimikyu so have fun trying to predict whether or not your opponent goes for NeverEnding Nightmare or Z-Destiny Bond.

Snorlax on the other hand, well, it’ll just keep using Belly Drum.

Smearglesmeargle pokemon vgc 2017 strategy

For our last Pokemon, here’s a bit of an underdog that I expect to do well post-worlds (I promise I’ll stop the puns now). A couple Smeargle have popped up in Ft. Wayne and Bremen next to Ultra Beasts that Smeargle likes to partner up with. Smeargle is a very disruptive Pokemon that can easily draw attention away from the boosting monsters known as Nihilego, Xurkitree and Pheromosa. Oh did I mention that Porygon-Z took home a regional title in Bremen next to Smeargle?

Taunt is likely going to be a good choice for your team.

Final Thoughts

So far we’ve seen two regional Top Cuts that look completely different from the World Championships that were just a month ago. I’m not sure how far VGC 2017 has left to go in terms of creativity, but I think I summed up what we’re most likely going to see in the next couple months. Then again, Dragonite has been on the rise so at this point anything can happen.

Hartford, Connecticut is our next location for regionals coming up at the end of the month. A stream will be provided thanks to Clash Tournaments which brings a huge sigh of relief for us journalists. We’ll be recapping everything that goes down in Hartford, but until then we’ve got you covered with everything Pokemon VGC!

Thanks for reading!


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

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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vgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Analyzing Meta-Mence: Is it really that good?

What were once some of the most niche Pokemon in the metagame have solidified themselves as a duo to be reckoned with in the late stages of the 2017 format. Salamence, a dragon that is mostly inferior to Garchomp, and an Intimidator that appears outclassed by Arcanine. Metagross, a solid Steel-type attacker that suffers immensely from its main methods of damage not being 100% accurate. These off-meta picks have seen sparse usage over the course of the season, but ever since the North American Internationals, these two have skyrocketed in popularity. Is this combo the next big thing for the VGC 2017 metagame? Let’s find out.

How this combo worksvgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Salamence has been known in the past for dealing fast damage as one of the game’s best Dragon-types. This season, realizing Salamence’s offensive potential has been stunted by the abundance of Fairy-type Pokemon, players came up with a more defensive variant holding the Assault Vest.

Metagross is still pretty much the same, being able to threaten major damage with attacks like Meteor Mash and Zen Headbutt. The Weakness Policy is an item that Metagross users have been satisfied with already, but what if there was a way to gain the boosts from Weakness Policy by activating it yourself?

Enter Salamence, and the move Bulldoze. Bulldoze is a pretty weak Ground-type attack that damages all Pokemon on the field while guaranteeing a Speed drop on those hit. Players usually train their Salamence defensively and in the Special Attack stat so Bulldoze won’t do a lot of damage to the partner Metagross. Metagross’ Clear Body negates the Speed drop of Bulldoze, but the super-effective hit activates the Weakness Policy, doubling Metagross’ Attack and Special Attack. This instantly turns Metagross into a massive threat, while Salamence can continue to provide Intimidate support for the team.

This seems like a solid strategy on paper, and believe me, it is a neat combo. However, this duo has its fair share of weaknesses which we’ll examine shortly.

Pros and Consvgc 2017 metagross salamence analysis

Pro: Team Flexibility 

  • Dragon and Steel is already a solid defensive core, and many players add a Tapu to complete the “Fantasy” core of Dragon/Steel/Fairy. Since most teams can easily complete this core, Meta-Mence has found itself on a number of different teams.

Con: Common Weaknesses

  • Salamence has been pushed aside for the majority of this format due to its weaknesses to the popular Fairy and Ice-type attacks. Metagross may not be able to have its stats lowered, but it does struggle against the ever-present Arcanine. Plus, neither of these two handle the format’s most popular Tapu (Koko & Fini) very well, and both can find it hard to take strong, special hits.

Pro: The Good Matchups 

  • While Salamence and Metagross do have their share of weaknesses, they both have the ability to deal with some pretty popular Pokemon. Salamence walls Kartana as well as Arcanine, while also being a great switch-in for Garchomp since Garchomps normally don’t run Dragon Claw. Metagross has a ton of resistances for just being a Steel-type and has a great move-pool to compliment its offensive presence. Together, these two work pretty well at handling each other’s weaknesses.

Con: The Mirror Match

  • When playing with these two, the likelihood of facing a mirror match at a large or local event is high. It can be difficult to gain an edge in the mirror match without accidentally activating the other player’s Weakness Policy. There is a lot of positioning needed to gain the upper hand, and knowing where you have advantages is crucial.

Pro: Consistency 

  • This duo can win, and if played correctly through Swiss, a title run is possible. Setting up Metagross can be quite simple if you’re given even the slightest advantage, and Bulldoze is a great way to disrupt the opponent as well. If you want results, Tomoyuki Yoshimura had a very unique take on a team fitting for these two and managed to get Top 4 at this year’s World Championships. That being said…

Con: People are prepared 

  • I should also mention, Yoshimura was the only one in Top 8 using Meta-Mence with only one other player in the Top 19 cut doing the same. Also, there was only a single Metagross in the Top 8 of the recent Ft. Wayne Regional Championship. By now this strategy has been in the game for a while and players will be prepared to face it. Like any other popular strategy, a new take on it might be necessary for success.

So how good is Meta-Mence?

Overall, I’d still say this strategy is pretty good. It fits on a number of different team compositions and is consistent enough to reach the highest levels of even the World Championships. If you’re thinking of building a team around these two, be warned, as you may run into a lot of mirrors since this combo has become so popular. It’ll just take the right team and the right plays for this strategy to potentially take one of the remaining regional championships for the 2017 format. We’ll just have to wait and see which player will take Meta-Mence to a title.


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

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

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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]

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

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

alolan marowak 2017 Pokemon World Championships recaptogedemaru 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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!


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

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

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

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!


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!

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 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

A clean Australian sweep: VGC 2017 North American International Championships recap

The first ever North American International Championships and the final tournament in the 2017 season before Worlds was a historic tournament for both sides of competitive Pokemon. While we saw the largest Pokemon TCG tournament in Play! Pokemon’s history, what emerged in the VGC was quite an unlikely rivalry that appeared in all of the finals matches.

USA vs. Australia was the story of this tournament’s top cut, despite the diverse array of nations that were represented in the tournament’s final stages. Former Seniors TCG World Champion Christopher Kan, as well as his younger brother Nicholas Kan, were both able to claim titles for their home nation with a little help from Alfredo Chang in the Seniors Division.

Let’s take a look at what made it big in Indianapolis and where this leaves us with Worlds coming in just over a month.

Results & teams (Top 10 Cut)

1. Christopher Kan [AU]

2. Paul Chua [US]

3. Cesar Reyes [MEX]

4. Sean Bannen [US]

5. Sebastian Escalante [ARG]

Alola Form

6. Markus Stadter [GER]

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7. Nils Dunlop [SWE]

Alola Form

8. Nick Navarre [US]

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9. Diego Ferreria [CHI]

https://i0.wp.com/www.trainertower.com/wp-content/uploads/pokedexminisprites/795.png

10. Tyler Miller [US]

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Tapu Koko and the new “Big 6”?

paul chua team

If it wasn’t clear by VGC 2017’s usage stats coming into the North American Internationals, the results from this tournament make a strong case for Tapu Koko as the format’s most dominant Tapu Pokemon. With this Pokemon’s place at the top, a possible new variant of the “big 6” could finally be emerging in the 2017 format.

vgc 2017 usage

The core of Tapu Koko, Celesteela, Arcanine and Garchomp is commonly referred to as a “goodstuffs” core as it features some of the best Pokemon in the format. To compliment this core, a popular team featuring Alolan Ninetales and Snorlax has been taking a number of high placings, including at this tournament.

What Paul Chua did differently

choice scarf garchomp

Paul Chua’s variant, being the most successful, featured this standard six, but a couple of unique tricks. One of the biggest surprises was Chua’s choice of the Choice Scarf item on his Garchomp. Many players don’t expect this item as it’s a common “best-of-one strategy” that is meant to catch players off-guard. Chua managed to play with this tech in a way that won him numerous games. Whether he was able to spam Earthquake after whittling down his opponent’s team or maybe score some clutch Rock Slide flinches to turn the tide his way.

Image result for electrium zElectrium Z was Chua’s item of choice for his Tapu Koko, in favor of the popular Assault Vest item that many other players have opted for at this stage of the season. Using Thunder as a means for a powerful Gigavolt Havoc, was risky given Thunder’s shaky accuracy, but the extra power boost was clutch in scoring KO’s on less bulky Tapu Koko and Arcanine.

Image result for alolan ninetales png

Chua’s Ninetales was also quite unique as Protect was left out in favor of Roar. Roar was important during one of Chua’s earlier matches against Markus Stadter where it was able to disrupt Stadter’s Z-Conversion boosted Porygon-Z, eliminating its stat boosts by switching it out of play. Ninetales also did a lot of work during the finals as it managed to set up Aurora Veil while also scoring a clutch freeze on Kan’s Porygon2, essentially winning game two for Chua.

Snorlax’s Facade

Image result for snorlax

A tech for Snorlax that was not unique to Chua was the inclusion of Facade as Snorlax’s Normal-type attack of choice. We saw this come into play during the finals set as both Kan and Chua featured the less common move. Facade is a move that doubles in power when the user is afflicted by a status condition, and the choice to use this move was likely in anticipation of the popularity of Toxic which we saw Kan use to effectively wear down Chua’s team.

With these kinds of metagame adaptations, this team is quite powerful. Though Kan’s effective use of Toxic was able to clinch the final game, which is why I think this move deserves a bit more depth.

A metagame turned Toxic

Toxic.png

In the finals match, we saw just how important Toxic can be for getting much needed extra damage on any of your opponent’s Pokemon. Despite boosting the power of Facade, Kan’s use of Toxic ended up being the crucial way for Kan to deal with Chua’s boosting Snorlax, as well as the rest of his team.

With the metagame naturally becoming a lot slower and more defensive, using Toxic as a way to punish slower play is almost a necessity for a team at this stage in the metagame. So many common Pokemon like Arcanine and Porygon2 have access to Toxic, and definitely have a good reason to use it. Nick Navarre used Chansey as his team’s Toxic user, but Chansey’s slow, defensive play style was able to be brought down by…You guessed it. Toxic.

Toxic could be a great weapon or the ultimate downfall for more defensively built Pokemon heading into Worlds. Tapu Fini might shoot back up in popularity as Misty Terrain could be a go-to strategy to ensure Toxic doesn’t slowly wear down your team. Definitely a move to watch out for.

What we’ve learned

Don’t sleep on any region

Image result for australia

Despite being a region that looked to be slightly doomed by their lack of tournaments, Australia came to play in this International. Beyond Australia, Nils Dunlop’s stellar run put the small VGC nation of Sweden on the map, and his mission to improve his country’s competitive scene looks to be in full swing. Sebastian Escalante and Cesar Reyes were able to represent Latin America and also the lesser known North American Mexican scene as legitimate contenders with their performances. The US and Europe may be strong regions, but I don’t think we should be surprised to see any new countries make the Top Cut stage in Anaheim.

Tapu Koko is the best, and will remain on topImage result for tapu Koko

With 26 day two appearances and eight of them in the tTop 10 teams, it’s reasonable to conclude that Tapu Koko is the most consistent Island Guardian in VGC 2017. It’s speed, power and versatility make it so vital to a ton of strategies, including the previously mentioned “goodstuffs” archetype. Is there potential for any more unique Tapu Koko variants to pop into relevance in Anaheim? At this point, I think we’ve seen it all, but Tapu Koko is not one to be considered predictable by any means.

Toxic will be popular and prepared for

Like I said before, if Tapu Fini’s usage begins to dramatically rise again, you’ll know why. Toxic is a fantastic move for this new defensive stage of the format, but now the world has seen how effective it can be.

Final thoughts

Overall, the North American International Championships was the perfect tournament to transition into Worlds. The sheer amount of high level play brought out some of the most exciting Pokemon of the entire season. I highly recommend watching or re-watching a lot of the streamed matches from the tournament, as there is a lot to take away and a lot to enjoy as well. We saw both established and newer players to the big stage make a statement in Indianapolis, and I expect nothing less from Anaheim this August. Only this time, we’ll have an even bigger pool of players, nations and strategies to watch. It should be an exciting finish.

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!

Featured Image from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak

Other Image(s) from ishmam on deviantart

VGC 2017 North American International Championships metagame preview

Previously, we looked at a list of Pokemon that could be great off-meta choices for a team competing in Indianapolis this weekend. This time, we’ll supplement that list with an overview of the current strategies and cores that define the current VGC 2017 metagame. These are strategies that players should expect to play against, and spectators should expect to see.

Common cores + team compositions

FAKEPG (and its variations)

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One of the most popular team compositions to hit VGC is the awkwardly named “FAKEPG” archetype. The clumsy acronym, for those unfamiliar, stands for: Tapu Fini, Arcanine, Kartana, Electric-type, Porygon2 and Gigalith. The team is popular for a reason, as its brilliant type synergy and move coverage makes it tough to go up against. The team also features a variety of modes, even being able to effectively abuse Trick Room with the combo of Porygon2 and Gigalith.

To avoid being predictable, the team has undergone a bit of change since it first came onto the scene. Tapu Lele has replaced Tapu Fini on some variants, while Tapu Koko has solidified itself as the go-to E in FAKEPG. Speaking of Tapu Koko, the rising popularity of the Assault Vest item on it has also given rise to a new breed of Kartana that carries Swords Dance and the Fightinium Z. Tapu Koko is able to use Sky Drop on Pokemon that threaten Kartana, so it can then set up a Swords Dance and pick up a KO with a boosted All-Out-Pummeling on the next turn.

Other than these notable changes, the rest of the team is fairly standard. Slight move changes can vary from player to player on Gigalith and Arcanine, but you should expect things like Flare Blitz and Rock Slide.

How to beat it

I found that both a well-played Alolan Muk and/or Kartana do very well against FAKEPG. These two do struggle with Arcanine, but Muk does well against the Tapu’s while Kartana can be hard to stop to the team’s Trick Room mode. Dealing with Arcanine should be a priority, as Arcanine is usually the team’s main answer to common Steel-types and strong, physical attackers that give the team trouble.

The team is good, but it can struggle if against a player who knows the match-up, and has ways to win against it. Prediction is key, and a lot of it goes into predicting what mode the FAKEPG player will bring.

Goodstuffs

Basically, all of the metagame’s best Pokemon on one team. The most popular version at the moment is a variant with Alolan Ninetales and Snorlax. This composition has also hopped on the Assault Vest Tapu Koko hype-train, with the Swords Dance partner as Garchomp. Instead of Kartana, Celesteela has made itself the team’s go-to Steel-type.

How to beat it

Again, this team relies on Arcanine a lot for Fire-damage and its Intimidate ability. The lack of ways to manipulate speed can make the team weak against Tailwind and Trick Room based teams. Most well-built variants will be prepared to deal with speed control, so taking advantage of Tailwind or Trick Room turns is essential.

Drifblim+Tapu Lele (Tailwind)

A combination that has remained relevant despite the slight drop off in its usage, Drifblim teams are still pretty scary. Users of Driblim are now not only able to abuse the power of Tapu Lele, but also Ultra Beasts that could benefit from the speed boost like Nihilego and Buzzwole.

Despite the predictability when it comes to the leads, this team has a lot of options. Drifblim can work well with any of the team’s main sweepers, while Drifblim itself could be carrying a bunch of unique techs in its move set.

Drifblim is great and all, but Mandibuzz has recently been climbing back up in usage and makes a good fit for this team’s Tailwind mode. Mandibuzz is harder to take down, but its lack of Drifblim’s speed could leave it susceptible to Taunt or Sky Drop. Mandibuzz is a bit more flexible, being able to work with Tapu Fini and apparently Tapu Bulu like we saw in Japan.

More than likely, Drifblim will be the one to be prepared for, as its almost guaranteed Tailwind set up is hard to pass on.

How to beat it

The team’s hyper-offensive nature leaves it very susceptible to a match up where it loses the speed advantage. Tapu Lele’s Taunt gives the team a way to stop Trick Room and slower Tailwinds, but can easily be baited out with a lead that threatens either option. Snorlax is a popular sixth member to help against Trick Room, but without it, an opposing Trick Room mode can run over the team.

Disrupting Psychic Terrain also hurts the team a bit by weakening Tapu Lele. Tapu Fini is usually the best candidate for this role since Misty Terrain can prevent potential burns from Drifblim’s Will-o-Wisp.

BAN (Tapu Bulu, Arcanine, Nihilego)

Since Tapu Bulu has been quickly climbing the usage charts, it’s fitting that it should get its own core. Drew Nowak proved that this combination could win a big tournament and is worth preparing for. Tapu Bulu is able to threaten huge damage by setting up the Grassy Terrain which helps its teammates not lose to Earthquake. Other popular teammates are Pheromosa, Porygon2, Tapu Koko, Metagross and Hariyama just to name a few. The team is able to support a ton of damage with Tapu Bulu and Nihilego, bulk with Intimidate and Grassy Terrain as well as a slower mode with Hariyama and Araquanid.

A surprisingly diverse team that has a very solid matchup against many of the metagame’s other top teams.

How to beat it

One common thread of Tapu Bulu teams are the many Ground weaknesses the team has. Getting rid of Grassy Terrain makes Earthquake a fatal move for the majority of the team’s members, so preserving a method of Earthquake spam is helpful.

If Nihilego is dealt with, the team may struggle with Arcanine. It’s reasonable to assume Nowak’s Madison team, or a variation of it, will be what most players opt for so Araquanid is to be expected. Terrain advantage is crucial in the matchup, and denying Grassy Terrain is a consistent way to cripple this team.

Weather teams

Rain

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Double Duck hasn’t gone away just yet unfortunately. Coming off a recent victory in the Japanese National Championships and the confirmation of Tommy Cooleen’s attendance in Indy makes Rain worth discussing. Often relying on the Pelipper+Golduck lead to set up Tailwind and drown threats with Golduck’s rain-boosted Hydro Vortex, the team relies on rain for both speed and power.

That being said however, the team can still function without the rain with Pokemon like Tapu Koko and Kartana being good checks to popular rain answers. Plus, the consistency of the team allows off-meta picks like Buzzwole, Metagross and now even Tsareena to function in the meta game. A team composition that looks standard, but is surprisingly sticking around and adapting.

Sun 

Not quite as common as Rain, but this archetype could still be a possible matchup. Torkoal+Lilligant is arguably a bit easier to deal with than Double Duck, but the mind games of predicting After You Eruption, a Z Move or Sleep Powder is not fun to play against.

Ashton’s Latin America team is a well-built version that might be the go-to for Sun team players, but its lack of recent success makes it less likely for it to do well in Indianapolis.

Sand

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The reason I’m even mentioning this mode is the fact that Lycanroc+Gigalith did make it to the Top 8 of the Japanese National Championships. Other variants use Stoutland as their Sand Rush abuser, being able to act more supportive rather than offensive. The team functions similarly to the aforementioned weather teams, but the reliance on Sand doesn’t extend far past Gigalith and its Sand Rush-ing partner.

It’s a strategy that most likely wouldn’t expect, but its lack of success at a best-of-three tournament leaves a lot of players skeptical.

Note: I’m not mentioning Hail since the weather mode has been pretty much non-existent. Still, Vanilluxe and Alolan Ninetales are solid on their own.

How to beat weather

Weather disruption is by far the best way to shut down every weather mode. If you don’t have a way to set up your own weather, here are some Pokemon that do well against each mode.

Rain: Gastrodon, AV Tapu Koko, Goodra, Kartana

Sun: Arcanine, Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Snorlax

Sand: Garchomp, Kartana (watch out for Fire Fang), bulky Water/Grass-types

Less common, but viable teams, modes, etc. 

Eevee

Someone always manages to take a tournament by storm with Eevee, and it’s still a team to be feared. I’ve gone into depth about Eevee before, but tl;dr Eevee sets up the Extreme Evoboost and Baton Passes it to a sweeper.

You beat it by denying that. Eliminate the boosts, Eevee and/or the sweeper(s). Sometimes this is easier said than done.

Porygon2 + Araquanid 

Remember when this pair won four consecutive regionals in North America? Well Araquanid is still a huge threat under Trick Room since many teams don’t have great Liquidation switch-ins.

MimiLax (Mimikyu+Snorlax)

Another Trick Room duo that has fallen off a bit, but can still rip through teams after Snorlax sets up Belly Drum. Mimikyu doesn’t go down easily, and nearly always has Mental Herb so good luck trying to Taunt it. Not to mention, Mimikyu can copy Snorlax’s maximized attack with Psych Up.

*shudders*

Lightningrod+Gyarados (or a combo of Water and Flying-types)

Togedemaru and Marowak could be good calls for Indianapolis considering the abundance of Tapu Koko, and one of the most common partners for these two is Gyarados. Gyarados can be troublesome to KO without an Electric attack, and leaving it unchecked could mean a Dragon Dance sweep.

Lightningrod Pokemon have also seen usage on teams with Mandibuzz, Tapu Fini and Celesteela which can make these bulky Pokemon also pretty annoying to take down. Lightningrod support helps Mandibuzz set up Tailwind, Tapu Fini set up Calm Mind and Celesteela do its thing.

Smeargle & Ultra Beasts

Ian McLaughlin taught us that Smeargle is still scary, especially when paired with a few Ultra Beasts. Smeargle’s ability to disrupt opponents and support its teammates make an Ultra Beast partner terrifying to go against. Xurkitree can Tail Glow, Nihilego can set up Substitutes and Pheromosa can out-speed and annihilate its main threats. All while Smeargle racks up stat boosts from Moody.

It’s almost here

Hopefully I was able to provide a solid overview of the most common Pokemon and strategies in the current VGC 2017 metagame. We’ll likely see all of these strategies, even the lesser-used ones, appear in one shape or another. However, as VGC 2017 has showed us time and time again, the player who finds a way to successfully counter the meta with their own unique strategy, likely wins it all.

I guess we’ll find out which teams will make it to the top in just a couple more days. A champion will be crowned, and all eyes will shift towards Anaheim, and what the World’s metagame will have in store.


Art/Images of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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