2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Japan is Back!: 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

Results and Teams

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

1. Ryota Otsubo [Japan]

2. Sam Pandelis [Australia] 

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3. Paul Ruiz [Ecuador]

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

4. Tomoyuki Yoshimura [Japan]

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5. Nils Dunlop [Sweden]

Alola Form

6. Sebastian Escalante [Argentina]

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7. Rene Alvarenga [El Salvador]

8. Dorian Andre Quimones Vallejos [Peru]

First, An Update on Our Picks

Nick Navarre (4-3 – Day 2): 

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

Markus Stadter (4-3 – Day 2):

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

Sebastian Escalante (Top 8): 

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

Christopher Kan (3-4 – Day 2):

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

A Repeat Run Cut Short

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

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

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

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

The Unstoppable Junior: Nicholas Kan

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Nicholas Kan – 2017 Junior Pokemon Video Game World Champion

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

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

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

#Don’tSleeponLatinAmerica

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

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

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

Japan is back on top

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

Ryota Otsubo – 2017 Masters Pokemon Video Game World Champion

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

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

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

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

Popular Strategies that didn’t quite make the Cut

Alolan Raichu

alolan raichu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

metagross 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

Big Plays From Anaheim

Lightningrod

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

Celesteelacelesteela 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

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

Mimikyumimikyu 2017 Pokemon World Championships recap

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

See you next year in Nashville!

2017 Pokemon World Championships Recap

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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Pokemon world championships

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

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

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

Tapu Bulu

tapu bulu pokemon world championships

I know, I know.

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

Just hear me out.

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

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

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

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

Tapu Fini

tapu fini pokemon world championships

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

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

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

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

Hariyama

hariyama pokemon world championships

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

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

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

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

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

Metagross

metagross pokemon world championships

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

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

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

Alolan Marowak

alolan marowak pokemon world championships

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

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

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

Versatility is the key

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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!

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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


You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Pokemon Sprite Images from Pokémon Sun and Moon

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alolan marowak

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

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

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

Stats & Typing

FireGhost

alolan marowak stats

Images courtesy of Bulbapedia

Stats

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

Type(s)

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

Abilities

Lightningrod

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

Rock Head

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

Cursed Body

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

Movepool

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

Learned by Level-up

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

Learned by TM or HM

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

Learned from Breeding

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

Potential Held Items

There’s really only one.

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

Checks & Counters

Dark-type Pokemon (Foul Play+Knock Off)

alolan persianalolan muk

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

Garchomp

Image result for Garchomp

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

Rock-type Pokemon (Nihilego/Gigalith)

nihilegogigalith

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

Water-types

Tapu Fini

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

Intimidate

arcanine

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

Good Teammates 

Gyarados

gyarados

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

Celesteela

celesteela

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

Other Water/Flying-types

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

Trick Room

porygon2

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

So why use Alolan Marowak?

Why not use Arcanine?

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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 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]

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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

Is this the new meta? VGC 2017 Japanese National Championships recap

The Japanese National Championships have decided the nation’s World Championship qualifiers, but the results have us western players scratching our heads a bit. Not only did a Pokemon that was unheard of in VGC 2017 win it all, but a bunch of other weird and unconventional strategies managed to succeed. Let’s take a look at the marvel that was the teams of the Japanese National Top Cut.

Results & Teams (Top 8)

Champion

Ootsubo Ryouta

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Runner Up 

Kimura Shouhei

Top 4

Nakagawa Gouki

Kinoshita Tohru

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Top 8

Amano Hikaru

Yonemura Takuya

Nakajima Teru

Yamane Souma

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A Popular Choice for Held Items    Image result for choice band

One thing that managed to be consistent was the popularity of Choice items for a number of popular Pokemon. I think this is the first time in a major tournament Top Cut where we’ve seen a Snorlax without its signature pinch berry. Instead, Amano Hikaru opted for a Choice Band to boost Snorlax’s Attack without having to rely on Curse or Belly Drum.

Hikaru’s team also featured a Tapu Koko holding a Choice Scarf, which also seems like an odd item considering Tapu Koko’s already impressive Speed stat. Moving away from Hikaru’s team, Nakagowa Gouki featured a team with a Choice Scarf Celesteela, and a Lycanroc with Choice Band. We’ll get to Lycanroc in a bit, but Celesteela holding a Choice Scarf is pretty bizarre. We’ve seen offensive items like Life Orb and Assault Vest have success with Celesteela, but never a speedy variant with Choice Scarf. It does make some sense since Celesteela has a very diverse move pool, but its very low base speed doesn’t compliment a Choice Scarf very well.

Besides Choice items, there were a few other weird item choices sprinkled around the Top 8. What could’ve spawned these unique ideas is beyond me, but let’s move on to the Pokemon themselves.

Niche Picks: Japan Edition

Japanese players are often known for their creative approach to the game, and their 2017 Nationals are no exception.

TsareenaImage result for tsareena

Is there a new queen of VGC? For 2017, it looks like it. Grass types as a whole aren’t very popular outside of Tapu Bulu and Kartana. So what makes Tsareena so special? With Ootsubo Ryouta’s choice of Fightinum Z for a held item, Tsareena can fire off a pretty strong All-Out-Pummeling with access to High Jump Kick.

Tsareena’s signature move, Trop Kick, is also fairly unique. It’s not the strongest attack at only 70 base power, but it always lowers the target’s Attack stat when it connects. Could be a useful tool for wearing down fast, physical-hitters after Ryouta’s Pelipper is able to set up Tailwind for Tsareena.

Finally, Feint is a highly underrated move that only a few viable Pokemon can make use of. Feint breaks the opponent’s Protect while also being a damaging move with priority. Feint works very well in a format full of strong Z-moves, and Golduck’s rain-boosted Hydro Vortex is one that often baits out Protects.

Overall, a Pokemon like Tsareena requires a very specific team composition to work, and Ryouta’s team looks to be a good fit. Is Tsareena a good Pokemon in VGC 2017? I’m not sure. We’ll just have to see if any western players are inspired by Ryouta’s success.

Lycanroc (Midday Forme)   Image result for lycanroc

With Gigalith’s current popularity, the Sand-abusing ability of Lycanroc’s Midday Forme makes it a solid partner. This scary combo threatens a ton of damage for a team without many Rock-type resistances. Lycanroc itself doesn’t have the greatest move pool, but Fire Fang is a very useful tool for dealing with Kartana who threatens this duo immensely. Coupled with the speed boost from the Sand Rush ability, Lycanroc becomes a threat under sandstorm.

But this lead, much like other “combo” leads, has its weaknesses. Since this combination almost always acts a lead, an opposing Ground or a bulky Water or Grass-type Pokemon lead can shut this combo down fairly hard. Also, opposing weather takes away Lycanroc’s speed boost which can make it a lot less threatening.

Lycanroc is a cool Pokemon for sure, but its necessity for Gigalith and its lackluster move pool do set it back. However, this combo can be scary for teams that aren’t prepared for it. Don’t expect Lycanroc to dominate the meta game, but definitely have a check for some sort of sand mode.

Gengar Image result for gengar

You’d think that in a format dominated by Fairy types, a Pokemon like Gengar would thrive. Well that would likely be the case if Gengar still had Levitate, as Ground resists are rather hard to come by.

Despite Gengar’s shortcomings, it’s by no means a bad Pokemon in this format. Having the ability to Taunt and set up Trick Room on its own, makes Gengar a tricky Pokemon to go up against if you don’t know what it has. Amano Hikaru opted to forgo Protect on his Gengar in favor of Destiny Bond which takes down Gengar’s attacker if it’s KO’d.

A Pokemon that still has potential in VGC 2017, but the loss of Levitate and its rather odd speed tier have made it a less popular choice. Don’t sleep on Gengar though, as its bag of tricks could be useful for a number of team archetypes.

Porygon-Z Image result for porygon-z

Porygon-Z has had significantly less time in the limelight when compared to its pre-evolution, but when properly supported it can turn into a problem. Most Porygon-Z this season have opted for Normalium Z to maximize the power of Hyper Beam, but Yonemura Takuya decided to take advantage of a strategy more often seen in the Single Battle meta game.

With the Normalium Z, Conversion not only changes Porygon-Z’s type to the type of the first attack in its move set, but also boosts all of its stats by one stage. Takuya opted for the Electric variant with support from a Smeargle holding a Choice Scarf. With Smeargle’s virtually infinite support move pool, Porygon-Z is likely able to set up and start mowing down its opponents.

Converting into the Electric type is a smart choice for VGC 2017. Not only is Tapu Koko’s Electric Terrain pretty much everywhere, but not many popular Pokemon resist Electric attacks either. Even more defensive Pokemon don’t appreciate taking an Adaptability boosted Thunderbolt after a Special Attack raise. Ground-types like Garchomp are still scary when setting up, but with Ice Beem, Garchomp in no problem after setting up Z-Conversion.

This strategy can run through a lot of popular team compositions, but struggles if played around correctly. Plus, even with the defense boosts, Porygon-Z is relatively frail and easy to KO. A fun strategy for best-of-one play, but a bit harder to pull off in best-of-three matches.

What This Means for The Western Metagame

So does this mean we’ll see all of these strategies at the upcoming North American International Championships? Perhaps some, but definitely not all.

The reason is that due to Japan’s National Championship having best-of-one Swiss rather than best-of-three, it makes these rather odd strategies a lot harder to pull off. Having the surprise factor of a faster Tapu Koko or an exploding Snorlax might work out for one game, but may suffer if your opponent is expecting it. Though, considering Ootsubo Ryouta’s Tsareena squad managed to do well in the best-of-three stage, it’s not too far fetched to expect to run into this team in practice or even in tournament.

Japan’s meta game has always made some sort of an impact on the West, so we’ll just have to see which strategy becomes the most popular among western players in the coming weeks. Will Tsareena take the west by storm? We’ll just have to wait to find out.

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

Five Pokemon that could be “the play” for the North American International Championships

With the North American International Championships just two weeks away, many players are scrambling to find the winning team. For a tournament that is sure to be in a tier of worlds-caliber difficulty, a “standard” team might not be ideal.

Unpredictability is key for a tournament this late into a format. Bringing just one Pokemon that many teams aren’t prepared for could be huge for making a deep tournament run. Here are five Pokemon that could be great metagame calls for the final International Championship of the 2017 season.

1. Tapu Bulu

Pokemon North American International Championships

 

Despite being the format’s least popular Island Guardian, Tapu Bulu has shown that it’s a force to be reckoned with. Winning two of the last four North American Regionals, Tapu Bulu is surely capable of making a deep run in Indy.

I’ve talked a lot about Tapu Bulu already, but it’s worth repeating some of Tapu Bulu’s main strengths. Grassy Terrain is an amazing field effect that not only boosts Tapu Bulu’s Grass-type attacks but also adds bulk to its teammates through the gradual HP gain.

Since Tapu Bulu is slower than most other Tapu Pokemon, Tapu Bulu is likely going to have the terrain advantage. Strong, physical Grass-type attacks are difficult for most Pokemon to take in this format, and with Tapu Bulu you’re always threatening huge damage.

Tapu Bulu has great synergy with both common and slightly less common Pokemon. Being able to set up Grassy Terrain covers one of the format’s most common weaknesses, in Ground, by halving the damage of Earthquake and Bulldoze.

While Tapu Bulu itself doesn’t have the greatest defensive-typing, teammates like Arcanine, Pheromosa, Nihilego and even Mudsdale can threaten many of Tapu Bulu’s scary match ups.

Power, diverse team builds and Grassy Terrain all make Tapu Bulu a great choice for a team right now. With its recent success, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more break into Indy’s Top Cut.

2. Alolan Muk

Pokemon North American International Championships

 

Speaking of Tapu Bulu’s scary match ups, Alolan Muk is a scary Pokemon that every Tapu hates going against. One of the prime users of the Gluttony ability, Alolan Muk can take hits and also dish out valuable Poison and Dark-type damage.

Alolan Muk being one of the few viable Pokemon in the format with access to Knock Off makes it very useful. In a format dominated by the “pinch berries,” being able to Knock Off a berry from an Arcanine or a Snorlax can put your opponent in a pretty rough spot.

Knock Off and a Poison-type move are staple, but Muk surprisingly has a lot of flexibility in its third move slot. There are support options like Taunt or Imprison and tons of offensive ones like Gunk Shot, Flamethrower and Curse.

If Alolan Muk is a Pokemon that interests you, make sure you have an answer for Garchomp. Without a strong Ground-type move to hit it, Alolan Muk becomes a huge problem for most teams to deal with. However, its Dark-typing has made strong Fighting-type moves from Buzzwole or Pheromosa serve as fine answers to it.

3. Metagross

Pokemon North American International Championships

One of the format’s lesser used Steel-types, but still a strong choice. Metagross doesn’t quite have the speed of Kartana or the bulk of Celesteela, but its great typing and offensive power make it quite threatening.

The reason why Metagross is on this list is because it seems like a great metagame call. Metagross can hard counter Pokemon like Nihilego, Tapu Lele and even Gigalith (as long as it doesn’t have Earthquake). Plus, if paired with Tapu Lele, Psychic Terrain-boosted Zen Headbutt does a ton of damage to targets that don’t resist it.

Meteor Mash and Bullet Punch are great Steel-type attacks for Metagross, helping give it a priority option and even a pseudo-Beast Boost with Meteor Mash’s chance to boost Metagross’ attack.

Metagross looks solid on paper, but its main weaknesses in low speed and shaky accuracy can make it difficult to use. However, with a great team to support it, Metagross can easily turn into a major threat.

4. Buzzwole

Pokemon North American International Championships

Buzzwole’s weak defensive typing and low speed can make it a bit tricky to build around, but it can turn into a monster with its offense. Coming off of a regional victory in Birmingham, Buzzwole has once again cemented itself in the realm of relevant threats. Its monstrous attack, insanely diverse move pool and its ability, Beast Boost, give it the power to run through unprepared teams.

We’ve usually seen Buzzwole as a member of teams with a Tailwind mode, with notable examples being Rachel Annand’s Driflblim team and Tommy Cooleen’s rain team with Pelipper. Buzzwole’s ability to fire off strong, STAB Superpowers into Pokemon like Porygon2, Gigalith and Snorlax make it a popular check to common Trick Room modes.

With a Beast Boost, Buzzwole can easily use the rest of its moves like Poison Jab and Ice Punch to finish off other popular team members like a Tapu or Garchomp.

The main draw of Buzzwole is that immense Fighting-type damage with either Superpower or possibly an All-Out-Pummeling. We’re likely to see a lot of Porygon2 and Gigalith in Indy, and what better way to deal with that pair than a giant flexing mosquito. Plus the crowd is sure to go wild if they see Buzzwole flex its way onto the big screen.

5. Milotic

Pokemon North American International Championships

The last, and arguably the most underrated Pokemon on this list, is none other than Milotic. Milotic has seen usage here and there, but has never had a break out performance. The reason I’m listing it here is that the Intimidate ability is everywhere in VGC, and Milotic is one of the best Pokemon to punish it.

Competitive is an ability that doubles Milotic’s Special Attack if one of its stats are decreased. Intimidate has always been around, but with the rising popularity of Gyarados and teams with multiple Intimidate users, Milotic is looking a lot better. Not to mention, most of the Intimidate users, barring Gyarados, are weak to the combination of Water and Ice-type attacks that Milotic often carries.

While Competitive is an amazing ability, Milotic can also function as a standard, defensive Water-type without the boost. Having access to Toxic and Recover makes Milotic a solid defensive Pokemon that’s able to win slow endgames. But if you’re looking to go more offensive, the Adrenaline Orb can pair well with the Competitive boost as the lowering of Milotic’s stats will allow the Adrenaline Orb to boost Milotic’s speed as well.

A bulky Water-type that can turn into a huge offensive threat, Milotic can be quite an annoying Pokemon to deal with. If you’re looking for a non-conventional Water-type member for your Fire-Water-Grass core, Milotic could be the one.

Only Scratching The Surface

This is only a short list to potentially generate some ideas for those of you making the trip to Indianapolis later this month. There are still a bunch of other underused, underrated and flat out weird Pokemon that have potential to go far in this penultimate tournament for the 2017 season. We’ll just have to see which unorthodox strategy or Pokemon choice topples the metagame in just a couple more weeks.


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

What happened in Mexico City: A matter of the rules or sportsmanship?

The final regional championship in Latin America has shrouded itself in controversy due to reports of actions that paint a very unpleasant picture of the community. Improper issues of game loss, judges mocking players and a stolen TCG deck are just to name a few, but the one that we’ll be focusing on today is the story of Kenneth Gamboa.

What Happened?

According to multiple accounts of players who attended the tournament, Kenneth Gamboa’s 3DS console ran out of power during round five, and his opponent refused to move closer to a charger. At this point in the tournament, Gamboa was in a good position to make it to Top Cut but unfortunately ended up losing a completely winnable set due to his system dying during game three. Gamboa did call a judge over to attempt to remedy the situation, but the judge was unable to do anything due to the nature of the rules concerning a system low on battery.

The Rules

Would you believe me if I said this entire situation was entirely legal under the official Play! Pokemon rules for VGC events?

The official rules regard the loss of power during a game or set as a major Game Play error that results in a game loss for the player whose system lost power during the match. While the player with the system low on power is allowed to request to move to a charging station, a request is all that they’re allowed. If your opponent denies your request to move, there’s nothing you or even a judge can do.

The Debate

Most of you are probably wondering why there is even a debate about this situation. Honestly, I’m not sure either, but a debate exists. The divisive issue in this scenario is where the accountability lies when one player’s system is running low on power.

There are players on both sides of the debate, with one side arguing that this type of behavior is unsportsmanlike and the other arguing that a system running out of power is the fault of the player.

Regardless of the technicalities, would you really want to win a match this way? It’s one thing for a system to run out of battery, but in this instance, Gamboa’s opponent was intentionally taking his time to make his decisions. While it doesn’t specifically violate a rule, there’s something that is in the rules that this situation complicates.

Sportsmanship and The Spirit of The Game 

spirit of the game pokemon

At the end of the day, we as players are expecting a fun and pleasant tournament experience. In the Play! Pokemon general event rules, The Spirit of The Game is the first rule listed for good reason. Above all, regardless of who wins and loses we as a community should ensure that our events provide a good experience for everyone involved.

Stories like this floating around paint a picture of the community that may discourage players from attending events. It’s an image of a community that values winning and prize money over fairness and sportsmanship. When examining both Gamboa’s story as well as the various others that tainted this tournament, it’s apparent that our community still has much to do to better itself. It’s on us as players, judges and spectators alike to maintain the Pokemon communities’ status as one of the best gaming communities out there.

Some Things to Remember

Regardless of which side of this issue you’re on, if you ever attend a tournament, remember these few tips to ensure something like this doesn’t happen to you:

  • It is a player’s responsibility to arrive to matches on time, have a tournament legal team and to make sure their system is charged.
  • It is a player’s responsibility to know the rules, but if there is ever a question about them, always contact a judge or TO for clarification.
  • Winning shouldn’t be the most important thing. Always make sure you are presenting yourself in a way that puts the Spirit of the Game above all else.

Despite what happened at Mexico City regionals, the discussion this event is generating is positive for the communities’ growth. Instead of making this a hostile back-and-forth battle of opinions, we should use what we’ve heard about from this event to ensure that things like this don’t happen in the future. It’s our job as a community to present ourselves in a way that keeps these events fun and inviting to players of all backgrounds. Mexico City was a stumble, but a necessary one to keep going towards improvement.

Thanks for reading!


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Images from Wikimedia Commons, Play! Pokemon and the Official Play! Pokemon Rules

Casual Misconceptions About Competitive Pokemon

One of the biggest barriers to the growth of competitive Pokemon is, ironically, the Pokemon community. Among the “casual” crowd, there are a number of misconceptions that cloud people’s perceptions about the game competitively. These misconceptions ultimately generate a ton of complaints and hate about aspects of the game that casual players barely understand. For this piece, we’re going to clear up some of these beliefs and show the casual crowd that competitive Pokemon isn’t so bad.

Misconception #1: There’s no diversity

vgc 2016 teams

By far one of the biggest complaints I hear from casual players is how there is no diversity in successful competitive teams. People usually reference 2015’s Worlds Top Cut or any Regional Top Cut from 2016 with nothing but Groudon and Xerneas teams. What most don’t realize is that even though teams might look similar, each Pokemon is usually built differently depending on the player. For example, 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami’s team featured some uncommon move choices like Sunny Day on Amoonguss and Protect on his Thundurus and Cresselia. Aside from that, the teams themselves in Top 8 were pretty unique with Pokemon like Volcarona, Aegislash, Scrafty and Hydreigon being featured in addition to standard Pokemon.

To be honest, I think we were pretty spoiled from the results of the 2014 World Championships, where Sejun Park won it all with Pachirisu. This is by far one of the greatest examples of the potential creativity that exists in competitive Pokemon. But you also have to take into account that Sejun was also using two of the most common Pokemon in the format in Garchomp and Talonflame to compliment his Pachirisu and Gyarados combo.

Going back to 2016, what won Worlds again? Wait, not Groudon/Xerneas? Oh yeah it was Rayquaza and Kyogre with the help of another electric rodent: Raichu. Even in a format as volatile to creativity as VGC 2016, the unorthodox team still came out on top.

Basically what I’m getting at is that a “metagame” will always exist, but it will never define every single tournament in a given format. Standard teams usually appear in trends anyway, and when a new one emerges, players will end up countering it in some way. There’s diversity for you.

Misconception #2: Legendaries are too overpowered

Image result for xerneas

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen RMT (Rate My Team) threads on forums where the poster will say that they’re trying not to use legendaries.

Why not?

Let me tell you why I hate when people say this. When a format allows legendaries, that means everyone gets to use them. Since legendary Pokemon typically have higher stats, people will use them. You can’t call them overpowered if everyone has access to them.

Also, most legendaries can be KO’d by non-legendaries. For example, in 2016 the most common answers to Xerneas were non-legendary Steel-types: Ferrothorn and Bronzong. Even the most common legendary in the format, Primal Groudon, could be taken down by a Golduck. You don’t need legendaries to beat other legendaries, because even legendary Pokemon have type disadvantages.

Just because a format allows legendaries, doesn’t mean they’re required. A recent example is Gavin Michaels’ two-time regional winning team that featured zero Tapus and zero Ultra Beasts. Like I mentioned earlier, legendaries have weaknesses, and Gavin’s team was perfectly assembled to exploit them.

No one is going to shame you for using legendary Pokemon. The self-imposed challenge of not using them isn’t worth it if you’re trying to win.

Misconception #3: Competitive Pokemon is too complicated

pokemon tcg bebe's search

Competitive Pokemon may involve a lot of numbers, but the math required does not exceed basic multiplication. What I can say is that there is a lot of memorization that goes into learning the game competitively. You need to know the type chart, what a majority of the Pokemon do, base stats, a few damage calculations and the list goes on. Casual players can get a basic idea of most of these aspects just by playing through the single-player game. It just requires a couple steps further. But what separates the normal game from competitive play, is the dreaded topic of breeding and EV training.

I’m not going to explain the intricacies of EV’s and IV’s because a YouTube video or forum post could probably do it better. It involves numbers yes, but the core mechanics are not complicated at all. What it boils down to is just a lot of research and time. Once you understand the mechanics, the process of obtaining competitive-ready Pokemon is a fairly repeatable process.

The amount of knowledge required is a reasonable barrier of entry into the competitive scene. It’s not super complicated, but there is a rather large time commitment. But that’s getting into any competitive game right? Just a lot of dedication.

 

Misconception #4: It’s all luck based

While there is a ton of RNG influence in Pokemon, it often doesn’t decide games. While there are pokemon gamblersome ridiculous mechanics like freeze, sleep and flinching, the better player will usually win. Pokemon is all about strategy, and the player who better executes their strategy will more than likely win. Plus there’s a lot that goes into matchups and team-building that gives a player an advantage before the game even starts.

Players complain about bad luck all the time, but I assure you it happens a lot less often than you think. Experiencing bad RNG or “hax” is inevitable, it’s just something you have to deal with.

Misconception #5: Competitive players aren’t “real” Pokemon fans

pokemon vgc

The wonderful thing about Pokemon is that it’s not just a competitive game. A majority of players are introduced to the competitive side after being long-time fans of the franchise. Pokemon players play the game because they’re passionate about it, and nothing shows passion like dumping hundreds of hours into training to be the very best.

In the end, we’re all Pokemon fans, and regardless of whether you play competitively or not. I hope this gave you casual players out there a better insight into what competitive Pokemon is all about. If the normal game has felt stale to you, getting into the competitive scene will definitely renew your interest.

The issue of competitive versus casual doesn’t need to be so divisive. We can all enjoy the game in our own way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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!

Images courtesy of Pokemon, Ken Sugimori, Trainer Tower & Pokemon Merch UK

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

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

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

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Ashton Cox [US]

2. Javier Senorena [ES]

3. Gabriel Agati [BR]

4. Carlos Ventura [PE]

5. Ian McLaughlin [US]

6. William Tansley [UK]

7. Tommy Cooleen [US]

8. Markus Stadter [DE]

Weather WarsImage result for torkoal png

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

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

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

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

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

Poor Politoed probably misses its friends Kingdra and Ludicolo.

Xurkitree & Smeargle: An 8-0 Swiss Run

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

image courtesy of PokémonShowdown!

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

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

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

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

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

Carson St. Denis: The 5 Mon Champion 

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

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

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

Tman’s Top 8 Curse Image result for pelipper png

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon courtesy of Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric!

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