What were once some of the most niche Pokemon in the metagame have solidified themselves as a duo to be reckoned with in the late stages of the 2017 format. Salamence, a dragon that is mostly inferior to Garchomp, and an Intimidator that appears outclassed by Arcanine. Metagross, a solid Steel-type attacker that suffers immensely from its main methods of damage not being 100% accurate. These off-meta picks have seen sparse usage over the course of the season, but ever since the North American Internationals, these two have skyrocketed in popularity. Is this combo the next big thing for the VGC 2017 metagame? Let’s find out.
How this combo works
Salamence has been known in the past for dealing fast damage as one of the game’s best Dragon-types. This season, realizing Salamence’s offensive potential has been stunted by the abundance of Fairy-type Pokemon, players came up with a more defensive variant holding the Assault Vest.
Metagross is still pretty much the same, being able to threaten major damage with attacks like Meteor Mash and Zen Headbutt. The Weakness Policy is an item that Metagross users have been satisfied with already, but what if there was a way to gain the boosts from Weakness Policy by activating it yourself?
Enter Salamence, and the move Bulldoze. Bulldoze is a pretty weak Ground-type attack that damages all Pokemon on the field while guaranteeing a Speed drop on those hit. Players usually train their Salamence defensively and in the Special Attack stat so Bulldoze won’t do a lot of damage to the partner Metagross. Metagross’ Clear Body negates the Speed drop of Bulldoze, but the super-effective hit activates the Weakness Policy, doubling Metagross’ Attack and Special Attack. This instantly turns Metagross into a massive threat, while Salamence can continue to provide Intimidate support for the team.
This seems like a solid strategy on paper, and believe me, it is a neat combo. However, this duo has its fair share of weaknesses which we’ll examine shortly.
Pros and Cons
Pro: Team Flexibility
- Dragon and Steel is already a solid defensive core, and many players add a Tapu to complete the “Fantasy” core of Dragon/Steel/Fairy. Since most teams can easily complete this core, Meta-Mence has found itself on a number of different teams.
Con: Common Weaknesses
- Salamence has been pushed aside for the majority of this format due to its weaknesses to the popular Fairy and Ice-type attacks. Metagross may not be able to have its stats lowered, but it does struggle against the ever-present Arcanine. Plus, neither of these two handle the format’s most popular Tapu (Koko & Fini) very well, and both can find it hard to take strong, special hits.
Pro: The Good Matchups
- While Salamence and Metagross do have their share of weaknesses, they both have the ability to deal with some pretty popular Pokemon. Salamence walls Kartana as well as Arcanine, while also being a great switch-in for Garchomp since Garchomps normally don’t run Dragon Claw. Metagross has a ton of resistances for just being a Steel-type and has a great move-pool to compliment its offensive presence. Together, these two work pretty well at handling each other’s weaknesses.
Con: The Mirror Match
- When playing with these two, the likelihood of facing a mirror match at a large or local event is high. It can be difficult to gain an edge in the mirror match without accidentally activating the other player’s Weakness Policy. There is a lot of positioning needed to gain the upper hand, and knowing where you have advantages is crucial.
- This duo can win, and if played correctly through Swiss, a title run is possible. Setting up Metagross can be quite simple if you’re given even the slightest advantage, and Bulldoze is a great way to disrupt the opponent as well. If you want results, Tomoyuki Yoshimura had a very unique take on a team fitting for these two and managed to get Top 4 at this year’s World Championships. That being said…
Con: People are prepared
- I should also mention, Yoshimura was the only one in Top 8 using Meta-Mence with only one other player in the Top 19 cut doing the same. Also, there was only a single Metagross in the Top 8 of the recent Ft. Wayne Regional Championship. By now this strategy has been in the game for a while and players will be prepared to face it. Like any other popular strategy, a new take on it might be necessary for success.
So how good is Meta-Mence?
Overall, I’d still say this strategy is pretty good. It fits on a number of different team compositions and is consistent enough to reach the highest levels of even the World Championships. If you’re thinking of building a team around these two, be warned, as you may run into a lot of mirrors since this combo has become so popular. It’ll just take the right team and the right plays for this strategy to potentially take one of the remaining regional championships for the 2017 format. We’ll just have to wait and see which player will take Meta-Mence to a title.
Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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