We have entered the final days before the 2018 Pokemon World Championships, and that means it’s almost time to bring the season to a close. There’s been a sizable lull in the action since the North American International Championships, as for the past month players have been silently perfecting their World Championship teams. Teambuilding for the World Championships is an arduous task for even the most seasoned of players, and the 2018 metagame shows promise for a very diverse field of strategies. As always, this leaves the World Championships metagame nearly impossible to predict, but we’re going to try.
The Smart Money Megas
The 2018 metagame has been dominated by Mega Metagross, with two International Championships and over 40,000 Championship Points to its name. However, players have been skeptical about how successful Mega Metagross will be on the world stage, and this author shares that skepticism.
The World Championships have usually trended towards players countering the most powerful Pokemon and strategies in a given year, and that might mean bad news for Mega Metagross.
So which Mega Evolutions will be the ones to beat in Nashville? We’ve got two picks that just so happen to be great choices in the Mega Metagross matchup.
Let’s begin with Mega Charizard Y. Mega Charizard Y was the most popular Mega Pokemon in Day 2 of the North American International Championships, and is the second most popular Mega Evolution in VGC 2018 as a whole. The name of Mega Charizard Y’s game is straight fire power. Mega Charizard Y has the ability to inflict serious damage on an opponent’s team simply from spamming sun-boosted Fire-type attacks.
With Heat Wave for spread damage and Overheat almost being a second Z move in terms of damage, Mega Charizard Y is no joke. Many teams featuring Mega Charizard Y embrace the hyper offense nature of its play style, with Pokemon like Nihilego, Tapu Lele and Braviary becoming popular partners for it. Mega Charizard Y’s great matchup against Mega Metagross and its ability to run over teams that aren’t prepared for it are sure to make it a popular choice for the World Championships.
Next we have Mega Gengar. Mega Gengar had a lock on the VGC 2018 metagame for a decent amount of time as it managed to win three North American regionals in a row. As players began to conquer the Mega Gengar + Kommo-o archetype, Mega Gengar lost its dominance; but it maintained a strong position in the metagame.
As new Mega Gengar teams pop up, many players have been looking back at the nightmare that once haunted the 2018 format.
Mega Gengar’s game is all about trapping and positioning. Shadow Tag is a powerful ability that allows Mega Gengar to prevent your opponent from switching their Pokemon. This allows the Mega Gengar player to shuffle Intimidate or lock up a favorable position for a set-up sweeper like Kommo-o, Azumarill or Xurkitree.
Many of the Mega Gengar teams we saw in Columbus switched to more balanced compositions, and this is looking to be the play for Mega Gengar in Nashville. However, some have speculated the return of Kommo-o with Gengar’s return to the spotlight, so players may require an answer to classic Mega Gengar teams as well.
The Dark Horse
What if I told you there was a third candidate for the Smart Money Mega Evolution for the World Championships? Well, there is, and it has a favorable matchup against the two listed above.
Enter Mega Tyranitar. Mega Tyranitar has played second fiddle to Mega Metagross on one of the metagame’s most popular teams for a while, but now it has finally begun to form its own identity. It recently just scored a major tournament win at the Valencia Special Event under Eric Rios as the team’s premier Mega Pokemon. Could this potentially be foreshadowing?
Players have been looking at Mega Tyranitar for the exact reason stated above: it has a positive matchup against the current field of Mega Evolutions. Mega Charizard can’t touch it without the sun, Mega Gengar can’t touch it with its weak type matchup and Mega Metagross drops to a Crunch if Mega Tyranitar sets up just one Dragon Dance.
These three Mega Evolutions (and the rest of their teams for that matter) are terrified of a boosted Mega Tyranitar, and the unique quality of a solo Mega Tyranitar team could be just the fit for a Worlds metagame. Just look at the teams used by Eric Rios at Valencia and both Wolfe Glick and Aaron Traylor in Columbus.
There’s a lot of hidden potential for Mega Tyranitar, and Nashville could be the place for it to shine.
The New Metagame-Defining Core
Does anyone recall AFK from last season? The core of Arcanine, Tapu Fini and Kartana that dominated the 2017 metagame has reformed itself into IFK, dumping Arcanine for VGC 2018’s premier intimidating Fire-type Incineroar.
This core has been popping up a lot ever since both Kartana and Incineroar skyrocketed into popularity during the 2018 season. It’s a core that can be slapped on a number of different teams. Fire/Water/Grass is a famous core in competitive Pokemon and one that many teams start with as a foundation.
The combination of Tapu Fini, Kartana and Incineroar not only has great type synergy, but a great mix of offense and defense as well. The core also boasts excellent positioning capability with Tapu Fini’s Misty Surge to reset the terrain and Incineroar’s Intimidate to weaken the opponent’s physical attackers.
Of course this isn’t the only way to use this type of core, but Fire/Water/Grass cores on a majority of VGC 2018 teams feature at least two of these Pokemon. With these three currently dominating the usage charts, expect to see this core a lot this weekend.
A Promising Niche Pick
I’m not going to say that this Pokemon is “the play” for the World Championships, but rather will be a Pokemon that has remained under the radar that looks like a promising pick for the World Championships. This Pokemon is Rotom.
Rotom is a Pokemon that has many forms, but we’ll be focusing on the Heat and Wash Rotom forms respectively. Rotom-Heat is on a bit of a hot streak after winning two major events back to back leading up to Worlds. Historically, Rotom has been a Pokemon capable of both offense and support, and the same can be said for this season.
Both Rotom-Heat and Rotom-Wash have powerful moves fitting their form change in Hydro Pump and Overheat and a solid secondary attack in Thunderbolt. The third move is where Rotom can act as an excellent supporter with moves like Electroweb, Will-o-Wisp and Ally Switch.
While Rotom-Heat has held the spotlight in recent times, Rotom-Wash has been the go-to in the past and still remains a solid choice for a team. Its just that in 2018 teams are looking more often for Fire-types that aren’t Incineroar rather than Water or Electric-types. To keep with the theme, Rotom-Heat and Rotom-Wash also have great matchups against the common Mega Metagross move set of Iron Head, Stomping Tantrum and Ice Punch, but can struggle against those that carry Zen Headbutt.
Well there’s just a short list of hot takes for the 2018 World Championships metagame. Regardless of whether or not any of this is correct, the Worlds metagame should be full of surprises. In a format like 2018, deviations from the standard have become commonplace and this metagame still has a ton of room to grow.
So now that we’ve gone over the Pokemon shaping up to be the success stories of the 2018 World Championships, what about the players? Check back next time for a region-by-region break down of the players who are the favorites for this year’s title of Pokemon World Champion.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.