Xurkitree Glows in Toronto: VGC 2017 Toronto Regional Championships Recap

Another regional in the books, with Martin Gasdosz taking the title in Toronto. Gajdosz successfully defended his home country against an onslaught of US players who made it into Top Cut. Gajdosz’s team was a relatively standard choice, but we saw quite a diverse group of Pokemon and teams in Toronto’s Top 8.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Martin Gajdosz

2. Joshua Lorcy

3. Ian McLaughlin

4. Alex Lebel

5. Nicholas Borghi

6. Sam Partin

7. David Mancuso

8. Trista Medine

Xurkitree On the RiseImage result for xurkitree png

Ian McLaughlin places in yet another Top 8 with his infamous Smeargle and Ultra Beast team. His strategy centers around Smeargle’s ability to disrupt and sometimes take over games with its insane support abilities while his Ultra Beasts sweep their opponents. One of the shining examples (literally) on this team is McLaughlin’s Xurkitree, which likes to set up Tail Glow with help from its friend Smeargle. We saw this strategy take McLaughlin to yet another impressive finish, but he was behind another Xurkitree user with a similar strategy.

Joshua Lorcy put a new, but similar spin on the common Xurkitree formula, with his partner of choice being Hariyama. Hariyama is a Pokemon valued for its bulk and access to Fake Out, which Lorcy showed could be quite useful to Xurkitree. Fake Out from Hariyama buys Xurkitree a turn to set up Tail Glow, and at this point I think you know where this goes.

If Smeargle and Xurkitree reminds you of Smeargle and Xerneas from last year, think of Kangaskhan & Xerneas when you see another Fake Out user like Hariyama.

Bottom Line: This is a deadly combo that will likely show up in many more Top Cuts this season.

The Blaster over The BladeImage result for celesteela png

Toronto’s Top Cut produced another interesting bit of data: Celesteela beat Kartana in usage. Something unheard of since the early stages of 2017, Celesteela appeared on five teams, with Kartana only featured twice. Are players beginning to move away from Kartana? I don’t think so, but I think it’s fair to assume that this is a usage battle that will likely flip-flop between tournaments.

Kartana and Celesteela serve similar roles on teams as a reliable Steel-type, but serve them a bit differently. Kartana threatens opponents with absurd amounts of damage, while Celesteela is threatening for its solid defenses. They both fit on a lot of popular team compositions, but Celesteela often fits better with the other common “goodstuffs” core with Pokemon like Tapu Koko and Garchomp.

A trend that we normally see emerge towards the end of formats is the increased bulk of teams. Teams usually opt for more defensive Pokemon and bulkier variants of offensive Pokemon. There’s no single explanation for why this is, but Celesteela’s usage dominance over Kartana could be a strong signal for the beginning of this trend in 2017.

Niche Picks

Toronto finally gave me a reason to bring this segment back. We have two interesting Pokemon to talk about today.

MachampImage result for machamp png

Despite winning two World Championships in the last two years, Machamp has flown under the radar for most of 2017 so far. Sam Partin finally brought the four-armed fighter into relevance with his rather unique take on Machamp. According to the stream casters, Partin’s Machamp was running Scope Lens as a means of helping the critical hit rate of Cross Chop.

Cross Chop is quite a smart move choice for this format and I’ll tell you why. The most common Fighting-type move on Machamp is Dynamic Punch, as its low accuracy is remedied by Machamp’s No Guard ability, with it also having a 100 percent chance to confuse the target. Unfortunately, the confusion chance is undermined by Tapu Fini’s ability to set up Misty Terrain, which will block any Pokemon from becoming confused.

Here’s where Cross Chop comes in. Cross Chop has middling accuracy as well as the same base power (100) as Dynamic Punch, but the critical hit chance will remain. Having the ability to score critical hits makes Machamp almost just as threatening as a Pokemon that can spread confusion. Although I think Scope Lens is a bit of an odd item-choice for such a slow Pokemon, Cross Chop makes a lot of sense when using a Machamp in this format.

VanilluxeImage result for vanilluxe png

This adorable ice-cream cone has fallen into relative obscurity in the presence of the new Alolan version of Ninetales. What you might not know about Vanilluxe is that it too was given the ability Snow Warning which allows it to summon hail when it enters battle.

Why Ninetales over Vanilluxe? Well, Ninetales is a lot faster and has access to the amazing support move Aurora Veil. The downside of Ninetales is that its offensive capabilities leave much to be desired. That’s where Vanilluxe can shine. Despite having a much lower speed stat, Vanilluxe has an impressive base 110 Special Attack stat which allows for much stronger Blizzard-spam. That’s why normally we see Vanilluxe hold the Choice Scarf to serve as a more offensive alternative to Ninetales.

This is the variant of Vanilluxe that Trista Medine used to get Top 8 in Toronto and will likely be the only kind of Vanilluxe we’ll see if another manages to make it this far in the future.

Final Thoughts

As the number of regionals left in the season dies down, our sights are now set on Madison, Wisconsin for the penultimate North American regional. Madison has been the sight for some exciting tournaments in previous years, and I’m sure 2017 will not disappoint. Huge shoutout to twitch.tv/kemony for their great stream coverage from Toronto and make sure to tune into twitch.tv/NuggetBridge for their stream from Madison Regionals!

Thanks for Reading!

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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