vgc 2018 oceania international championships

Italy takes another International – VGC 2018 Oceania International Championships recap

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

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Alessio Yuri Boschetto [ITA]

Mega MetagrossMega TyranitarTapu LeleLandorus (Therian)ZapdosAmoonguss

2. Jans Arne Mækinen [NOR]

Mega MetagrossLandorus (Therian)TyranitarRotom (Wash Rotom)TogekissNidoking

3. Isaac Lam [NZ]

Mega GyaradosLandorus (Therian)Tapu KokoCresseliaIncineroarTsareena

4. Ashton Cox [USA]

Mega SalamenceTapu KokoTapu FiniAegislashAmoongussTyranitar

5. Alberto Lara [USA]

File:Mega Charizard Y.pngCresseliaLandorus (Therian)CelesteelaGothitelleSnorlax

6. Nico Davide Cognetta [ITA]

Mega GengarCresseliaHeatranTapu BuluHitmontopKommo-o

7. Javier Valdes [CHI]

Mega MetagrossNihilegoScraftyGastrodon (West Sea)VolcaronaWeavile

8. Luke Curtale [AUS]

Mega MetagrossMega TyranitarTapu FiniLandorus (Therian)AmoongussZapdos

Metagame highlights

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

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

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

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

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

A good tournament for Rock Slide

vgc 2018 oceania international championships

The clutch double flinch from Boschetto visibly upsets Cox.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Teams data collected/provided by Nicholas Borghi and Trainer Tower

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underrated mega evolutions vgc 2018

The Five Most Underrated Mega Evolutions in VGC 2018

Last time we covered the five best Mega Evolutions in the 2018 competitive Pokemon season, but the list of viable Megas doesn’t end there. What VGC 2018 has shown us is that the list of viable Mega Evolutions extends far beyond five. This time, we’ll tell you about five Mega Evolutions that have flown under the radar, but definitely have the potential to win a big tournament later down the line.

Mega Mawilemega mawile underrated mega evolutions vgc 2018

Let’s begin with one of my personal favorites. If I could’ve extended our previous top five by just one slot, Mega Mawile would’ve been the sixth. Think of Mega Mawile like a slower Mega Metagross, with Huge Power contributing to its monstrous Attack stat rather than Tough Claws. Of course, Speed is not an issue for Mega Mawile when Trick Room is a thing. Speaking of Trick Room, Mega Mawile forms the second half of the infamous “GothMaw” combo with its partner Gothitelle. This pair aims to set up Trick Room while simultaneously trapping the opponent’s Pokemon in while Mega Mawile picks up KO’s left and right. While Mega Mawile is capable of taking games by itself, it does have some considerable weaknesses. A low speed and less than stellar defense stats make Mega Mawile sort of reliant on having the speed advantage so that it can do damage before the opponent. However, Mawile more than makes up for its defensive shortcomings with its literal huge Attack stat and great typing.

Mega Tyranitarmega tyranitar underrated mega evolutions vgc 2018

Mega Tyranitar could’ve also been a sixth slot for our previous list, as it does technically beat out both Mega Mawile and Mega Gengar in usage. The reason I didn’t put it on the list is that Mega Tyranitar is usually a secondary Mega Evolution rather than a main one. Still, Mega Tyranitar is nothing short of a powerhouse. Mega Tyranitar is basically normal Tyranitar, one of the best Pokemon in the format right now, but with better stats. With the increase in Speed and Attack upon Mega Evolving, Mega Tyranitar usually like to run Dragon Dance in order to further boost their speed and power. Like Mega Charizard Y, Mega Tyranitar also sets up its preferred weather upon Mega Evolving, but also has the benefit of the Sand Stream ability in normal form, making Mega Tyranitar a decent means weather disruption. After a Dragon Dance or two, Mega Tyranitar can spam powerful Rock Slides and use Crunch to take out those popular Psychic-types like Cresselia and Gothitelle. While Mega Tyranitar is a great choice for a secondary Mega Evolution, it has the potential to carry a team on its own.

Mega Manectricmega manectric underrated mega evolutions vgc 2018

Now we’re getting to the interesting stuff. Mega Manectric is rather unique as it serves a bunch of different roles as a single Pokemon. The best way to describe this unique role would be an offensive pivot. Mega Manectric can take advantage of its impressive base 135 Speed with a rather impressive pool of attacks to choose from like Volt Switch, Flamethrower/Overheat, Hidden Power Ice making an ideal moveset. Snarl is another great option to lower the opponent’s Special Attack and this move combo’s great with Mega Manectric’s ability. Mega Manectric was blessed with one of the best abilities in the game in Intimidate, and with Volt Switch and its high speed it can easily pivot in and out of play allowing it to cycle Intimidates. Speaking of abilities, base form Manectric has a pretty useful ability as well. Manectric has access to the ability Lightningrod, which allows it to redirect Electric attacks. Manectric has already found a home on a popular team archetype which benefits from both its Lightningrod and Intimidate abilities, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mega Manectric’s usefulness extend to other types of teams.

Mega Latiasmega latias underrated mega evolutions vgc 2018

I would’ve loved to talk about Mega Latias in better detail in our Dallas Regional Championship recap, but it unfortunately didn’t get very far in the tournament. We still got to see it action a bunch on stream, and I think there’s something here with Mega Latias. What Latias has over its eon brother Latios is more bulk, allowing Mega Latias to stick around much longer. The stat boosts from Mega Evolution give Mega Latias great defenses, Special Attack and even Speed to work with. In order to capitalize on Mega Latias’ amazing bulk, players during the Dallas Regionals opted for a Calm Mind set with Roost in order to restore Latias’ health. In regards to attacks, Latias’ move pool is deep but it seems like the most popular choices were Ice Beam and Psyshock. Like I said, our exposure to Mega Latias was brief, but this is one Mega Evolution that is ready for a redemption run.

Mega Charizard X

 

mega charizard x underrated mega evolutions vgc 2018

Finally, we take a look at the other half of Charizard’s two Mega Evolutions. Mega Charizard X fell behind its Y counterpart due to a bit weaker of a defensive typing and the fact that its a physical attacker, making it struggle with the ever present Intimidate. Not only that, but Dragon-type offensively took a big hit with the mainstream introduction of Misty Terrain thanks to Tapu Fini.

So why is this Pokemon good again?

Well, there’s actually a lot to like about Mega Charizard X. First of all, Mega Charizard X has an excellent Attack-boosting ability in Tough Claws that it shares with Mega Metagross. Like Tyranitar, Mega Charizard also relies on a Dragon Dance boosting strategy which allows Mega Charizard X to clean up games with a boost or two. Since Dragon Claw has sort of fallen out of favor, Mega Charizard X mainly uses an absurdly powerful Flare Blitz that can one-hit-KO many Pokemon that don’t resist the Attack. Who needs Dragon Claw when Mega Charizard X has access to a Tough Claws-boosted Thunderpunch that can easily deal with the bulky Water-types that it give it a lot of trouble. I mentioned Mega Charizard X’s lackluster defensive typing, and its this very typing that makes it weak to the most popular Pokemon in the game: Landorus-Therian. Tapu Bulu’s ability to weaken Landorus’ Earthquakes makes it a perfect teammate for Mega Charizard X, and its this new support that also has made Mega Charizard X so much more viable this season. A Charizard in Team Preview may not be as predictable as in year’s past.

 

We’ve now listed ten Mega Evolutions that are great choices to build a team around this season, but something tells me the list goes on. I’m positive that I’ve missed at least a few more awesome Mega Evolutions, but here are ten great ones to get you started. We’ll just have to see which of these “underrated”choices breaks its way into the metagame, as we’ve still got a whole season left to find out. Right now, go and enjoy the Oceania International Championships this weekend, which we’ll be recapping next week! Also, patch 1.2 for Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon is out, so make sure to update your games before competing at your next event!

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured Image from Pokemon The Series: XY&Z

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best mega evolutions pokemon vgc 2018

The five best Mega Evolutions in VGC 2018 right now

With the return of Mega Evolutions into Pokemon VGC, they have once again become central elements of teambuilding. However, a lot has changed since the early days of Mega Evolution such as the altered speed mechanic as well as the nerf to some abilities and moves. Because of these changes, we’ve seen some significant shifts in usage compared to year’s past, and some different Mega Evolutions have risen to the top. In no particular order, here are five of the best Mega Evolutions in Pokemon VGC right now.

1. Mega Metagrossmega metagross best mega evolutions pokemon vgc 2018

We’ve discussed Mega Metagross before, but now we have a better idea of how this Pokemon performs. And believe me, it performs well. The typical Mega Metagross core featuring either Tapu Lele or Tapu Fini, Tyranitar and Zapdos has been racking up results left and right and its mainly due to what Mega Metagross brings to the table. Metagross was one of the biggest benefactors of the speed mechanic change as now it’s able to take full advantage of its base 110 Speed stat as soon as it Mega Evolves.

Also, Mega Metagross hits a lot of popular Pokemon. Hard. Tough Claws plus Mega Metagross’ base 145 Attack stat makes any attack from this monster hurt a lot. In addition to its hard-hitting STAB moves like Iron Head and Zen Headbutt, moves like Ice Punch and Stomping Tantrum give Mega Metagross ways to KO some of its biggest counters. Mega Metagross pretty much has it all. Great typing, move pool, stats and synergy with many of the metagame’s best. Depending on who you ask, Metagross could be the best Mega Evolution in the format.

2. Mega Charizard Ymega charizard y best mega evolutions pokemon vgc 2018

Like I said, Mega Metagross depending on who you ask, and some players might say Mega Charizard Y is even better. Mega Charizard Y’s main tool is its ability to set up the Sun with the Drought ability. This doesn’t make every Charizard team a “Sun” team per se, as Charizard itself is usually the only one that relies on the sun. But when the sun is out, Mega Charizard Y does damage with a beastly Special Attack stat and a boost to its Fire-type attacks. Having the sun out also gives Mega Charizard Y an excellent coverage option in Solarbeam which doesn’t have to charge an extra turn thanks to the sun being out.

The sun is great for Charizard, but the rest of the team can benefit as weather control can stop opposing weather, making matchups against the popular “Rain” archetype much easier. Synergy-wise, Mega Charizard Y forms a solid core with Landorus-Therian and Cresselia, mixing offensive pressure with defensive pivoting. Many Charizard teams have their fast, offensive mode with a Trick Room option usually available. A great example of this would be Cedric Bernier’s team that won the recent Dallas Regional Championships.

3. Mega Kangaskhanmega kangaskhan best mega evolutions pokemon vgc 2018

Oh what  a fall from grace has befallen Mega Kangaskhan. From winning event after event the past three years, the once most popular Mega Evolution had one Top Cut appearance in the first two 2018 regionals. But does that mean Mega Kangaskhan is bad or washed up? Definitely not as good, but certainly not bad. Sure, Mega Kangaskhan lost some power with Parental Bond’s nerf and the ability to boost her Attack stat with Power-up Punch, but Mega Kangaskhan still hits pretty hard. The nerf to Sucker Punch’s power also hurts, but these power adjustments have allowed Mega Kangaskhan to open up its moveset as well as its potential builds a lot more.

Instead of focusing on all-out speed and power, Kangaskhan can afford to be built much more bulky and defensive in order to accommodate more investment into its attack power. Mega Kangaskhan can now afford to run moves like Protect and Ice Punch which give it better offensive matchups and defensive plays. And being a Normal-type means Mega Kangaskhan is still as splash-able as ever, being able to fit on a number of different team compositions. Despite how hard this Pokemon has been nerfed, it’s still one of the best Mega Evolutions out there, and usage stats seem to agree.

4. Mega Salamencemega salamence best mega evolutions pokemon vgc 2018

Mega Salamence is also a victim of a slight nerf to its power with its ability Aerilate being weakened, but also the influx of meta-defining Fairy-type Pokemon hasn’t been great for it either. Still, Mega Salamence remains a threat as an offensive powerhouse. Flying is one of the best offensive types in the game and Mega Salamence can take advantage of that both on the physical side and special side thanks to its great mixed-attacking stats. A powerful single-target option in Double Edge and a great spread option in Hyper Voice give Mega Salamence two main means of offense that are effective in snagging KO’s or dealing consistent damage.

With the popularity of Tapu Fini, Dragon-type attacks have fallen out of favor for many Pokemon, but Mega Salamence didn’t seem to mind too much. Not having to run Draco Meteor means Mega Salamence can easily accommodate Tailwind onto its moveset giving it a way to support its teammates. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Mega Pokemon that has access to Intimidate before it Mega Evolves. But speaking of teammates, Mega Salamence can work well with a good amount of solid Pokemon, including the aforementioned Fairy-types. Mega Salamence can even default to a 2018 version of the 2015 archetype dubbed “Japan Sand” where it forms a threatening offensive combo with Tyranitar and Excadrill. Like Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Salamence had huge amounts of success in year’s past, and despite nerfs can still hang near the top today.

5. Mega Gengarmega gengar best mega evolutions pokemon vgc 2018

While Mega Gengar does fall behind a couple other Mega Evolutions in terms of Top 5 usage, I still believe it is worth being put in the Top 5 best Mega Evolutions category. The reason being is that Mega Gengar is the perfect counter to the metagame, and teams made with it have done just that. The influx of Fairy-types that has crippled Mega Salamence has done wonders for Mega Gengar. Not only does Sludge Bomb hit many popular Pokemon for neutral or super effective damage, but many teams also find it hard to switch into Mega Gengar’s Shadow Ball as well.

While Mega Gengar does excel on the offensive side, its support options as well as its ability Shadow Tag are where it really shines. Mega Gengar’s third move slot often includes moves that are aggravating to go against such as Disable or Perish Song that are even more annoying while Gengar traps its opponent’s in with Shadow Tag. Shadow Tag allows many different aspects of a Mega Gengar to shine including the infamous Encore+Disable combo with Whimisicott, cycling of Intimidate, Perish Trap and most recently a better set-up for Kommo-o’s Z move. Mega Gengar’s ability to control can steal games very easily, and with an even better metagame matchup now than it has had in previous years, Mega Gengar is proving to be the premier counter to 2018’s established metagame.

Of course “the best” aren’t the end-all be-all, especially in competitive Pokemon. One of the biggest story lines of the early months of the format is just how much variety exists in the 2018 metagame. Mega Evolutions are central to this new wave of diversity, with many more than these five winning tournaments across the world.

I think you know where this is going.

Next time we’ll be covering five underrated Mega Evolutions in VGC 2018 that have the potential to take first at the highest level.

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured Image from Pokemon The Series: XY&Z

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

vgc 2018 leipzing regionals dreamhack

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

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

Results and Teams (Top 8)

1. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]

[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

2. Markus Stadter [GER]

https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/798.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/784.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/485.png

3.Maxime Muller [FRA]

[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/248.png[​IMG]

4. Alex Gomez [ESP]

https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/130-m.png[​IMG][​IMG]https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/485.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/143.png

5. Nemanja Sandic [GER]

[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/798.png[​IMG]

6. Luca Lussignoli [ITA]

[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

7. Ben Kyriakou [GBR]

[​IMG]https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/798.png

8. Serkan Tas [GER]

[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/248.png[​IMG]

Metagame Highlights

https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/248.pngTyranitar: As expected, Tyranitar was just as big in Leipzig as it was over in Dallas, with four out of the eight teams here looking nearly identical. While Serkan Tas caught on to the Porygon2 plus Tyranitar hype, many stuck with the more standard Tyranitar plus Amoonguss combination with some players choosing to use the Mega Stone on their Tyranitar. While many of these teams using Tyranitar look alike, there is still something to be said about Tyranitar’s versatility in this new metagame. There’s a Dragon Dance set using Mega Tyranitar, a Trick Room sweeper variant with Porygon2 and even just using normal Tyranitar can still be effective. This Pokemon is good (I mean we’ve known that for almost 18 years now), but Tyranitar is cementing itself as a metagame staple early-on.

[​IMG]Mega Kangaskhan: Boy, have the times changed. If this were two, three, even four years ago Mega Kangaskhan would’ve likely had most of these Top Cut placings. In 2018, there was just ONE Kangaskhan player in the combined Top 24 between Leipzig and Dallas. Does this mean Kangaskhan is bad? No. But she’s definitely fallen down a couple pegs since her massive nerf in Pokemon Sun and Moon. I still think Kangaskhan is a Top 5 Mega Evolution in this format, but it might take a couple more tournaments to see her truly shine.

https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/798.pngKartana: Kartana is all the rage now considering its plethora of options thanks to the Move Tutor. As the metagame’s most popular Ultra Beast right now, Kartana is looking like a Pokemon that can be slapped on a number of different archetypes. There are reasons for this being that Kartana a) has excellent coverage combined with its insanely high Attack stat b) has access to a fast Tailwind and c) has Sacred Sword in order to counter the Chansey evasion boost strategy. Anti-gimmick with both offensive and support capabilities? Kartana looks like the complete package.

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

Mega Gengar & Friends: I want to talk about Markus Stadter’s team mainly because I feel like we haven’t touched on the anti-meta tilt machine that is Mega Gengar. This standard team composition has a ton of different modes that all capitalize on Mega Gengar’s Shadow Tag ability which traps both of the opponent’s Pokemon. Mega Gengar and Whimsicott is especially notorious for threatening the infamous Encore+Disable combo or being able to threaten a KO on pretty much anything with a combination of Fake Tears from Whimsicott into a Sludge Bomb or Shadow Ball from Mega Gengar. Tapu Bulu is usually seen on these teams as it is the best Tapu for control-esque teams and it does well to support Stadter’s Heatran. Kommo-o is a Pokemon we didn’t see at all in Dallas, but it seems to be finding itself a home on teams with Mega Gengar. Kommo-o often relies on its signature Z Move, Clangorous Soulblaze, as a means of turning Kommo-o into a threat and Mega Gengar’s trapping ability make it so the opponent cannot switch defensively into this powerful Z move. This is a team composition I would watch out for because I think it’s only a matter of time before this team starts appearing more often.

https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/130-m.pngMega Gyarados: Hey its the only other Mega Evolution besides Kangaskhan and Rayquaza to win a World Championship in the Masters division. Mega Gyarados is another example of an off-meta Mega Evolution that has some serious potential. What’s interesting here is that Alex Gomez decided to use Mega Gyarados without any sort of redirection support (insert Pachirisu joke here). But seriously, Mega Gyarados is known for its potency as a Dragon Dance sweeper, so it often relies on that redirection to send attacks away from it as it sets up. Well if Tyranitar has shown us anything is that powerful Dark-type attackers are great right now, and Mega Gyarados is a similarly threatening sweeper.

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured image from Dreamhack Leipzig’s official site

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

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vgc 2018 dallas regionals

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

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

Results & teams (Top 16)

1. Cedric Bernier

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2. Chuppa Cross 

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3. Carson Confer

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4. Sam O’Dell

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5. Blake Hopper

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6. Mitchell Davies

7. Jakob Swilley

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8. Ryan Tan

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9. Brendan Zheng

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10. Adrian Singler

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11. Israel Ramirez

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12. Hugo Cortez

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13. Alvin Hidayat

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14. Christian Ramirez lira

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15. Noah Stern

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16. Jake Muller

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Metagame highlights

https://i0.wp.com/www.serebii.net/pokedex-sm/icon/248.pngTyranitar: Everyone’s favorite sand-setting dinosaur has undergone quite the change in the 2018 format. It appears the days of Choice Scarf are long gone for Tyranitar as players are finding new ways to alter its speed. We saw players like Chuppa Cross and Blake Hopper opt for Tyranitar’s Mega Evolution with a moveset using Dragon Dance to capitalize on Tyranitar’s amazing Mega Evolved stats. Then there was the dynamic duo of Porygon2 and Tyranitar which functioned a lot like Porygon2 and Gigalith from last year, a Trick Room duo that can deal big damage. Both of these variants composed three out of the four Top 4 teams, establishing Tyranitar as a versatile force to be reckoned with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The freezes continue

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

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

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


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

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

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competitive pokemon curse ban

Pokemon Company bans moves in competitive play until Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon version 1.2 patch is released

Last week we looked at the various glitches in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon that have been causing trouble for 2018 competitive play. The Pokemon Company has responded, but not in the way we originally expected. A patch is coming, but not right away. Instead we were given a rule change that eliminates troublesome moves until version 1.2 is released for Ultra Sun and Moon. Let’s take a look at this small, but significant rule change that will affect the coming regionals.

Turns out Curse wasn’t the only move making games freeze, but how do we know if this list is complete? In a sudden rules document update, TPCI has mandated that the moves Curse, String Shot, Forest Curse and Power Trick are prohibited at official Play! Pokemon events.

With this change, all tournaments will switch back to QR codes using the Live Competition option.

While this list may seem insignificant, the banning of the move Curse may change the upcoming regional championships metagame quite a bit. Aside from Curse, I doubt many players will miss not being able to use Shuckle’s Power Trick gimmick for the time being.

No more Snorlax?

competitive pokemon curse ban sad snorlax

Snorlax is a Pokemon that has been picking up popularity in the 2018 metagame, but Curse has been one of the best moves to use on a typical Snorlax’s move set. While yes, Snorlax can use Belly Drum as an effective means of setting up, Curse has been the preferred move as the Defense boost makes Snorlax much better in the long game. Also, with Curse now banned, players using Snorlax are basically giving away that they’re using a Belly Drum set which can compromise information about their team.

While Snorlax is still a great Pokemon in the 2018 metagame, its usage will likely drop dramatically during the time of this rule change. Having to give up the preferred set-up move in Curse as well as the information game about a Snorlax’s move set might just be too big of a blow to Snorlax’s viability for the time being.

Will things really be fixed after this patch?

While it initially seemed like the move Curse was the only issue, the list has grown, and what’s to say this is the entire list? After various experiments with game play interactions, the issues with double game freezes looked to be from IR-based tournaments rather than just the moves themselves. Players competing in upcoming regionals are still scared that game freezes will happen because Live Competition will be the way tournaments are being held, while it clearly remains as the problem. However, perhaps a not-immediate patch is a good sign for things to come.

We clearly have a lot of issues to deal with and TPCI knows it. If this patch is taking time, it must mean that big fixes are coming. Hopefully by taking time on this patch, Game Freak and TPCI will be able to identify what exactly is causing these errors and maybe find out more than we do now about what is causing them. For now, there remains uncertainty about the stability of Live Competition tournaments and we have two big regionals coming up. All we can do now is hope that this temporary ban will be enough of a fix to ensure both Dallas and Leipzig regionals don’t end up being disasters. Also, let’s hope that version 1.2 of Ultra Sun and Moon will be the exterminator to all of these bugs.



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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chansey pokemon vgc 2018

Chansey’s early reign of terror in the 2018 competitive Pokemon season

It may be early into the 2018 VGC format, but there already exists a team so gimmicky that it’s actually viable. Chansey is a Pokemon notorious for just how hard it can be to get rid of due to its high defenses and access to great recovery. This new strategy that centers around Chansey basically ensures that you will not be able to knock it out, because you will simply not be able to damage it or hit it to begin with. There’s a lot of fear in the community surrounding this strategy especially considering that Dallas Regionals are quickly approaching and this team has proven that it can win. Let’s take a look at how you can easily lose to this terrifying gimmick.

How it works

chansey chansey pokemon vgc 2018

The centerpiece of this strategy is Chansey and the team’s goal is to boost Chansey’s defenses and evasion to the point where it becomes impossible to take down. First, you start with Guard Split, a move that averages the defense stats of the user and the target. The two main users of Guard Split are Carbink and Shuckle who are Pokemon known for their high defense stats. Chansey has amazing Special Defense and HP, but its Defense is pitiful, and this is where Guard Spilt comes in. With a boost to its Defense, plus the Eviolite item, Chansey becomes a defensive monster.

The gimmick team golden boy Smeargle is a typical lead for the team as it can disrupt the opponent enough so that Trick Room can be set up for Carbink. Once Smeargle leaves the field, it becomes Chansey’s time to shine.

After receiving the Guard Split, Chansey will then begin to set up Minimize and continue to use Softboiled to regain all of its lost HP during set up. With Chansey at a comfortable amount of evasiveness, it goes from a Pokemon with just amazing bulk to a Pokemon that can’t be touched. Finally, Chansey proceeds to spam Toxic and Seismic Toss while the opponent is hopeless to stop the residual damage as Chansey remains untouched.

This the main core, but the rest of the team has opened itself to some creative options. Pokemon like Reuniclus can use Skill Swap in order to give Chansey Magic Guard which protects it from opposing status ailments. Mime Jr. can use a similar strategy to give Chansey the Soundproof ability making it immune to moves like Roar and Perish Song.

While this team is excellent at stalling the in-game timer, it doesn’t fair too well against the round timer so players who are prepared to beat it should be able to.

It can be beat 

mega gengar chansey pokemon vgc 2018

Here are a few ways that you can tech to beat this strategy if you happen to face it in round one at your next big tournament.

Stopping support moves and stat buffs

Taunt is a move that can be slapped onto a number of Pokemon and can stop both Chansey and its teammates from executing their shenanigans. A lesser used option that had success last year in stopping Eevee teams is Haze which can eliminate all stat changes on the field. Clear Smog works similarly to Haze, but it’s an attack that relies on accuracy and is much less common than Haze.

Sound-based moves

If you’re able to deal with a potential Mime Jr. moves like Roar and Perish Song are solid win conditions against this team. Roar and Perish Song don’t rely on accuracy and can easily phase Chansey out or take it out in three turns as the Perish Song clock slowly winds down.

Brute Force

Like I said previously, Chansey’s base Defense is terrible, which can be exploited early-on to score a quick KO on it. Being a Normal-type, Chansey annoyingly only has one weakness, Fighting. Pokemon with access to a strong Fighting-type attack like Superpower and Close Combat so having a Fighting-type on your team can make this matchup much more difficult for the Chansey player.

While this strategy is a total gimmick, the reason that it is so scary is because that it can win very easily. Many players were not big fans of the timer being shortened to five minutes in the first place and this strategy takes full advantage of it. This team has been terrorizing the online ladder and already won a MidSeason Showdown, so its power is real.

I think I speak for a majority of the community when I say that I would hate to play against this team in a tournament where my hopes for qualifying for the World Championships were on the line. Hopefully with all this new information that exists about this team, players will be prepared to face it, making this strategy just a forgotten blemish in VGC 2018’s early history.

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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Competitive Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon Glitches

How Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s bugs are affecting competitive Pokemon

Despite how complete Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon feel as games, some surprising oversights in their programming have made themselves known through the early weeks of 2018 competition. While the Pokemon Company has been quick to patch out some of these issues, a new glitch involving the move Curse threatens to compromise infrared connection-based tournaments due to its capability to make the game essentially freeze. Let’s take a look at how these glitches have created a rocky start to the 2018 VGC season.

Issue #1: Was Wide Guard buffed?

clangorous soulblaze Competitive Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon Glitches

Surprisingly, many players thought that the issue with Wide Guard was actually a buff. Turns out, it was indeed a glitch.

The move Wide Guard essentially serves as Protect against attacks that do spread-damage. This move has become even more popular this year with the re-introduction of powerful Rock Slides from Landorus and Heat Waves from Charizard, as well as veteran users of the move like Hitmontop and Aegislash. In Pokemon Sun and Moon the move Wide Guard had no interaction with the newly-introduced Z move mechanic, but the addition of a new exclusive Z move to Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon changed everything.

Kommo-o is a Pokemon whose viability shot through the roof after it received its new, exclusive Z move: Clagorous Soulblaze. This Z move was the first of its kind that not only deals spread damage to the opponent, but also boosts all of Kommo-o’s stats by one stage. Wait. A spread-attack Z move? Now Wide Guard needed some alteration, but unfortunately this change extended to the rest of the Z moves out there.

Wide Guard was fixed in Ultra Sun and Moon to act similarly to Protect when the user is hit by a Z move, which reduces the damage taken to 25%. Like I said earlier, this “fix” originally affected all other Z moves too, which made little sense considering that all other Z moves were single target attacks.

Thankfully this issue was patched out before official VGC 2018 tournaments were held; but some players were okay with what looked to be an obvious bug. I guess players liked the idea of Wide Guard being better and thus nerfing Z moves, but this change might’ve been too good. Unlike Protect, Wide Guard is able to be used consecutively without fail, meaning that Wide Guard could be spammed indefinitely in anticipation of your opponent’s Z move.

Regardless on where you stand on the issue, two things are certain: Wide Guard and Kommo-o are still good.

Issue #2: A Curse on QR tournamentscurse pokemon Competitive Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon Glitches

Okay, so this issue goes a bit deeper than just the move Curse.

The seventh generation edition of the Pokemon Global Link introduced the ability to create tournaments using QR codes which function on similar software and connectivity of regional-level and above tournaments. Local tournaments, like Premier Challenges and Midseason Showdowns, have now adopted this mechanic in order to streamline things. But after the first weekend of VGC 2018 many issues became apparent.

 

As of now, the QR code generated tournaments that use IR (infrared) connection are very unstable, and are likely to freeze the game if you switch in the wrong Pokemon or even use a move in the wrong place on the battlefield. The move in question is Curse, and many Snorlax users reported that using Curse when Snorlax is in a particular position on the field will cause the game to freeze where neither player is able to make a move.

But it’s not just Curse though. Apparently differences in system models (old versus new 3DS systems) will cause the same issue if Curse is used like previously mentioned or even if Pokemon are switched in and out.

These tweets from Leonard Craft III (@DaWoblefet) summarizes the whole situation pretty well.

Back to Festival Plaza it is, but this solution can’t work forever.

With the 2018’s first batch of regionals just a couple of weeks away, the urgency of fixing any and all bugs and glitches becomes much greater. The “double freeze” glitch seems to only take place during tournaments using the “Live Competition” mode, which every regional-level and higher tournament uses.

Uh-oh.

Having this issue remain would essentially make tournaments unplayable due to the nature of how game freezes are treated in the rules. If a player using Curse is in a losing position they can pretty much save themselves by causing a game freeze. For now, local organizers should use Festival Plaza and Quick Link which does require a bit of extra work on the part of the TO’s and players, but it’s a temporary fix for now.

I anticipate that Game Freak will release a patch in a comfortable time frame before the first 2018 regional championships, so I don’t think we need to be worried about being cursed for much longer.

Thanks for reading!


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

Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

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Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

Common cores to get you started for Pokemon VGC 2018 teambuilding

It’s January which means the 2018 competitive Pokemon season is officially underway. As players prepare for the first big tournaments of the season, some may struggle to learn this vast new format. Fear not, because there already have been a number of high-profile Midseason Showdown tournaments across the world meaning we have a pretty solid idea of what the early 2018 metagame will look like. For those of you still struggling, here are some of the most common cores that have achieved early-season success.

Goodstuffs

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

Basically, using the best Pokemon out there.

For anyone who’s played a national-pokedex format in the past (the 2015 season for example), all of these Pokemon should be very familiar. Mega Kangaskhan may have been beyond nerfed since its glory days, but this Mega Evolution is still a force to be reckoned with. Parental Bond still makes moves like Double Edge and the also nerfed Sucker Punch do massive amounts of damage and can still pick up KO’s left and right. While Kangaskhan has changed from faster builds to much slower and defensive ones, it’s still one of the most versatile Mega Evolutions out there.

Landorus-Therian needs no introduction. Speaking of versatility, Landorus now has an ocean-deep pool of strategies at its disposal. It’s no longer just mindless Rock Slide spam with the Choice Scarf as Landorus players have taken advantage of items like the Assault Vest, Life Orb (for Special-attacking sets) and even various Z Crystals. Landorus is a Pokemon that can be put on a number of teams so it makes sense that it would be on a team with the best.

Cresselia and Heatran have been the bread and butter Trick Room for pretty much every year they’ve been allowed together and for good reason. Cresselia can do a number of things to support Heatran like Skill Swapping Levitate onto it, giving it Helping Hand boosts, and most importantly, setting up Trick Room. Heatran is another Pokemon that has taken advantage of Z moves as it boasts a very powerful Inferno Overdrive. Still, the typical set using Substitute and Leftovers can work quite well too.

The supporting cast

For the first time in a while the goodstuffs archetype has seen many significant new additions to its repertoire. Tapu Fini has remained relevant in 2018 especially after being given access to the Move Tutor-exclusive move Icy Wind. This allows Tapu Fini to play a much better support role, but an offensive build using Choice Specs can also work effectively with this team.

With the fall of Thundurus, Zapdos has swooped into the spotlight as the format’s premier Electric-type. Zapdos actually has really good synergy with Tapu Fini with the introduction of the Misty Seed, raising its Special Defense after it enters Misty Terrain. Oh yeah, Tailwind is pretty good too.

Volcarona is a Pokemon that has picked up a lot of popularity recently as a Fire-type substitute for Heatran. Volcarona also really likes Firium Z and can sweep through an opponent’s team after a couple Quiver Dances.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-AE02-4C18

Rain

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

If you thought Rain was scary in 2017, it’s gotten a whole lot scarier.

Rain players rejoice as you now have Politoed and a much better selection of Swift Swim Pokemon. Why is Politoed better than Pelipper? Well players seem to prefer it for its bulk and versatility over Pelipper’s frailness and limited usability. Pelipper still finds use on more hyper offense teams while Politoed’s bulk is preferred for balanced and defensive teams.

The main thing that makes Rain so much better in 2018 is the amount of better Swift Swim Pokemon there are available. Ludicolo is pretty much a staple on Rain teams as its Grass-type coverage is invaluable in assuring that the Rain lead won’t get walled by either Gastrodon or other bulky Water-types. Fake Out is also great for disrupting the opponent, allowing Ludicolo’s partner a turn to support or get off big damage.

Mega Swampert is ironically one of the least popular Mega Evolutions for the Rain archetypes despite it having access to the Swift Swim ability. Good Swift Swim Pokemon exist outside of Ludicolo, but Ludicolo’s value to the Rain archetype makes it nearly staple on all Rain teams and many players don’t want to add many other Water-types outside of their Rain duo. However, Mega Swampert and lesser used Swift Swimmers like Kingdra are still viable, and definitely can help form more dedicated Rain teams.

The supporting cast

Steel-types are the typical first-stop for Rain teams as Steel-types appreciate the nerf to Fire-type attacks. Ferrothorn is especially good and weakened Fire-types makes Ferrothorn much harder to deal with. Aegislash is another option, but Aegislash commonly holds a Z Crystal which many players like to reserve for their Rain sweepers.

Tapu Bulu and Tapu Koko are the most popular Island Guardians. Tapu Koko enjoys spamming 100% accurate Thunder’s under Electric Terrain and its natural speed makes it a huge offensive threat. Tapu Bulu favors more control-centered Rain teams which players have been combining with the Gothtielle/Mawile core (which we’ll get to).

Example team 

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-3EF8-4C58

Mega Charizard Y/Landorus-Therian/Cresselia

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

While you could call this a “Sun” team, Charizard is really the only one who benefits from the Sun directly.

This core really focuses on the Charizard/Landorus combo as this high-power pair has excellent coverage and a lot of combined damage output. Mega Charizard Y is better on the Special Defense side so Landorus’ Intimidate helps Charizard handle physical attacks much better. Landorus likes being paired with two Pokemon that are off of the ground as this allows relatively free Earthquake spam. Cresselia basically gives this team a Trick Room option, but Cresselia’s bulk is helped by Landorus’ Intimidate. Cresselia’s access to Ice Beam helps against opposing Landorus.

Basically, these three cover each other really well and allow the team to branch in a number of directions. That’s the interesting thing about Mega Charizard Y teams, they don’t have to conform to being Sun teams and can be very diverse as a result.

The supporting cast

Honestly, three out of the four Island Guardians (sorry Fini) work well on Mega Charizard Y teams. Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele favor more offensive team compositions while Tapu Bulu, again, really supports more defensive play. Tapu Bulu and Tapu Koko are preferred since they help deal with Water-types which Charizard can hate going against without the Sun.

Wide Guard is almost a must-have in order to stop Charizard from getting hit by Rock Slide. Aegislash is fairly common as these teams appreciate both the Ghost and Steel-type attack coverage, but Stakataka is also a great option which can add to a team’s Trick Room mode.

Lastly, Fighting-types are common teammates as they help mainly against Tyranitar, which can get rid of the Sun thanks to Sand Stream. This slot has a lot of fun options like Hitmontop who can also use Wide Guard and give your team another Intimidate user. Thanks to its new Z Move, Kommo-o has become much more viable and a lot of players have noticed some great synergy with Mega Charizard Y.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-FDD8-4079

Mega Metagross/Tapu Lele/Hydreigon

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

When previewing Mega Metagross for the 2018 format, I mentioned how strong the Mega Metagross and Tapu Lele combo is, and players have noticed. Psychic Terrain, Tough Claws boosted Zen Headbutt coming off of Mega Metagross’ base 145 Attack stat can OHKO a lot of the metagame; but the shaky accuracy of Zen Headbutt always makes it a high-risk/high-reward play.

Tapu Lele is known for damage and it still does a lot. Tapu Lele is mainly here for Psychic Terrain as the terrain not only boosts the power of the team’s Psychic-type attacks but also protects the team from priority moves.

Finally, Hydreigon completes the Fairy/Steel/Dragon core and provides valuable Dark-type coverage for the two Psychic-types. Having Hydreigon allows Metagross and Tapu Lele to have a switch-in for the inevitable Aegislash encounter which Hydregion is able to deal with rather easily.

These three form a fairly offensive core that looks to score KO’s fast. They can be rounded out with either more offensive Pokemon or some more defensive and supportive ones to maintain the consistent damage output.

The supporting cast

Some players have been substituting Hydreigon for Tyranitar, which does break apart the Fairy/Steel/Dragon core, but shows that maybe the Dark-type coverage is more valuable than Dragon-type synergy. As mentioned previously, Metagross and Tapu Lele struggle versus Aegislash and other Ghost-types, so having a powerful Dark-type attacker is important for this team.

Amoonguss has also become common on these teams which may play into the more support-oriented supporting cast. Amoonguss works well with Tapu Lele as Psychic Terrain is able to override the Sleep-preventing Electric and Misty Terrains. Amoonguss can also redirect attacks away from damage-dealing teammates with Rage Powder.

Zapdos also works here with Psychic Seed over Misty Seed to reconstruct the threatening Tapu Lele plus Tailwind combo. Plus, Zapdos gives you a way of hitting Water-types, mainly Tapu Fini which can easily get rid of Psychic Terrain.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-4A8D-B6EC

Gothitelle/Mega Mawile (aka GothMaw)

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

A duo that was hyped up long before the 2018 season began, GothMaw has proven itself as a threat. This duo focuses on trapping your opponent’s Pokemon with Shadow Tag while Mega Mawile feasts under Trick Room. Gothitelle can support Mawile with Helping Hand and Heal Pulse while Mega Mawile pretty much sweeps by itself. Players usually combine Intimidate, Fake Out and even weather in order to disrupt any and all team compositions.

Trap and sweep is the name of the game with these two, and this combo is becoming increasingly popular just because of how consistent it can be.

The supporting cast

When I mention weather, Rain is the one players usually opt for. This is mainly for two reasons. One, Gothitelle can easily trap a Mega Charizard Y and switch in Politoed making Charizard essentially useless. And two, Politoed has access to Perish Song which can give this team a Perish Trap mode as well. Also with Mawile being a Steel-type, weakening Fire-type damage helps it a lot.

Tapu Bulu has been the go-to Guardian for these teams (especially with the Rain modes) because Tapu Bulu fits well with the controlling nature of the team. Grassy Terrain helps heal the team and can disrupt opposing Terrains while Gothitelle traps the poor Tapu. Like Mega Mawile, Tapu Bulu is another Pokemon that can deal massive damage and can easily sweep while Gothitelle traps the opponent’s Pokemon.

Example team

Pokemon VGC 2018 Common Cores

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/usum/BT-7E9F-4522

(I know that this is the third team with a Rain mode, but Rain is really popular right now so you’ll be seeing it a lot)

Now that you have some basic cores to start teambuilding, get out there and start practicing for the new season. While these are the most common cores out there, there are still a ton of unexplored Pokemon and strategies that are waiting to break the metagame. With the first big tournaments of the season coming up, we’ll just have to wait and see which core proves to be the best.

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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pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

The first ever VGC 2018 tournament: Rutgers Fireside Open recap

Our first tournament for the 2018 season comes to us in grassroots form thanks to Rutgers University Esports. Even though there were no Championship Points on the line, this tournament gave us a very important glimpse into what the first few months of the 2018 format could look like. Being held in the northeast was a plus as the tournament featured many of the best players in the region such as Paul Chua, Chuppa Cross and the winner of the whole thing, Stephen Mea. Mea managed to win this tournament without even owning a copy of the game, having to borrow a copy and a team just for this tournament. Mea pulled off an impressive win versus Chuppa Cross in an intense three-game set in the finals, with a team archetype that you’ll see a lot of in this tournament’s Top 8.

Results & teams (Top 8)

1. Stephen Mea

2. Chuppa Cross

3. Paul Chua

4. Mihrab Samad

5. Bryan Tong

6. Irving Johnson

7. Will Vega

8. Steven Lasso

Rain reigns supremepolitoed pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

As many predicted, the Rain team archetype is going to be a very popular choice in the beginning of the format. Rain has a bunch more options now with the return of Ludicolo and better Steel-types to take advantage to the nerf to Fire-type moves. Ludicolo might be a tad weaker than its fellow Swift Swimming duck Golduck, but Ludicolo’s Grass-typing plus its access to Fake Out makes it the far better choice as a rain partner.

One interesting thing to note was the popularity of Politoed over Pelipper. Although Pelipper ended up winning the tournament, the favorite Drizzle user was clearly Politoed. In favor of the fast, aggressive play that Pelipper promotes with Tailwind, it seems that many players took the defensive route by using Politoed. Politoed is able to stay on the field a lot longer than Pelipper, but it also has a bunch of different support moves it can utilize such as Icy Wind, Helping Hand and a favorite for this tournament, Perish Song. I think Politoed’s bulk and versatility will slowly make it the favored rain setter in the upcoming format.

Image result for ludicoloAs for countering Rain, you can definitely see evidence of it here. Chuppa Cross opted for a more standard team, using Zapdos and Tapu Fini in order to utilize Zapdos’ Misty Seed. The Special Defense boost from Misty Seed enables Zapdos to live the onslaught of rain-boosted Water-type attacks including Z moves as we saw Cross’ Zapdos take a Hydro Vortex from Mea’s Ludicolo no problem. Bryan Tong tried to use Gastrodon to redirect Water-type attacks using its Storm Drain ability, but something tells me that Gastrodon didn’t appreciate the abundance of Grass-type Pokemon on these rain teams. Finally, Steven Lasso decided to change the weather altogether with a team featuring Mega Charizard Y.

 

Overall, Rain came out on top, but as official tournaments get under way, players will continue to find ways to shut this team down.

Every Tapu has a placetapu bulu pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

A rare sight in VGC 2017 took just one tournament to show up in 2018. Every Island Guardian was represented in Top Cut. Oddly enough, Tapu Bulu was the most popular, which again, was a rare sight in the previous season. The team compositions here give a pretty clear indication of how each Tapu will be played. For example, Tapu Bulu fit on rain teams with more defensive Pokemon that benefited from the gradual HP recovery from Grassy Terrain, with the Grassy Terrain also boosting the power of Ludicolo’s Giga Drain. Tapu Lele fit on to more hyper offensive teams utilizing the power of Mega Evolutions like Metagross and Mawile to deal big damage fast. Tapu Fini was interestingly only seen on one team, but its role as a bulky attacker and support Pokemon can fit on a wide variety of teams. Tapu Koko seems like it is the same way, mainly being a solid fast, attacking option with players like Mea taking advantage of Electric Terrain boosted Thunders that have 100% accuracy in the rain.

Right now, I think it’s fair to say that all of the Island Guardians have their place in the metagame which is great for promoting diversity in teambuilding. Tapu Bulu seems like it has a great start, with Tapu Fini likely still being the most popular. Considering the popularity of Landorus-Therian, I expect to see these two being the most popular for a while.

The return of Mega Evolutionsmega mawile pokemon vgc 2018 rutgers fireside open

Considering the popularity of Rain at this tournament, the most used Mega Evolutions seem to reflect that. Mega Mawile ended up being the most popular, with players like Mihrab Samad and Paul Chua taking advantage of the Goth/Maw combo which aims to trap your opponents in with Gothitelle’s Shadow Tag as they’re devoured by Mega Mawile under Trick Room. Of course the rain from Politoed helped with Mawile’s weakness to Fire-types, but Politoed also has another role on this team by being able to set up a late game win condition with Perish Song and Gothitelle’s trapping ability.

 

Speaking of Shadow Tag, a one-off choice for a Mega Evolution came from Stephen Mea’s use of Mega Gengar. Mega Gengar is usually on teams which take full advantage of Perish Song in conjunction with Shadow Tag in order to slowly lock their opponent’s Pokemon into KO’s. Mega Gengar can also provide a solid offensive role as well, as its coverage with Sludge Bomb and Shadow Ball deals with the plethora of Fairy-types and other popular Pokemon like Aegislash and Cresselia.

There was only a single Mega Kangaskhan which would’ve been unheard of a couple years ago. Mega Kangaskhan appeared on the team you probably expected it to, as it was accompanied by the VGC 2018 standard. One interesting thing to consider is how this standard has changed from the worlds-dominating CHALK archetype from 2015. We still have Kangaskhan and Landorus, but instead of Cresselia and Heatran, we now have Tapu Fini and Volcarona that are beginning to define the “goodstuffs” archetype. Mega Kangaskhan’s narrative will be an interesting one. Will the nerfs finally catch up to it or will it still be one of the best choices for a Mega Evolution?

The Rutgers Fireside Open was a great introduction to the potential of what the 2018 metagame has to offer. While there was a dominance from the downpour of rain teams, we saw a diverse representation of the Tapu as well as a good variety of Mega Evolutions which gives me hope that 2018 will be a great year for teambuilding.

Huge shoutouts to the Rutgers Esports organization as well as their Pokemon team which will continue to host great events for the 2018 season. VGC 2018 is just under a month away, but one more 2017 regional is coming up in Memphis, Tennessee which will serve as our final goodbye to the 2017 format. If this tournament showed us anything, it showed us how excited we should be for the 2018 season.

Thanks for reading!


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

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

Featured Image from @aProjectCypher on Twitter

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

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