Simone Sanvito is your 2018 European International Champion. Sanvito was a player known for his shaky confidence in his play going into this tournament, but he was able to overcome his doubts by taking the European title. Not bad for someone who didn’t have a team prepared until he landed in London. Sanvito also managed to flip the narrative of last year’s tournament in London with the Italian vs. Spaniard finals going to Italy this time. Let’s kick off our coverage from London with your Top 8 results.
Results & teams (Top 8)
1. Simone Sanvito [ITA]
2. Alex Gomez [ESP]
3. Carson Confer [USA]
4. Davide Cauteruccio [ITA]
5. Lorenzo Semeraro [ITA]
6. Jamie Dixon [GBR]
7. Davide Carrer [ITA]
8. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]
Simone silences the haters (himself)
Something that was pointed out repeatedly during Sanvito’s run in London was that he was a player known for having serious doubts in his skill as a player. Take some of these tweets from the tournament as examples:
i lost to tapu bulu should i drop yn
—  Sanvy (@SanvyVGC) November 17, 2017
i also choked game one so not feeling good about my chances
—  Sanvy (@SanvyVGC) November 17, 2017
Sanvito had it all wrong despite an early round loss. He ended up finishing his first day of Swiss with an 8-1 record, putting him in a great position for the next day. Sanvito went on to only drop one other game, capping a 12-2 record with a Top Cut appearance as the 2nd seed. We all know the story from there.
Sanvito’s team seemed like a lot of Pokemon that we’ve seen before, but there were some tricks to these already established team members. One of the main moves Sanvito utilized throughout his run was Encore, which he had on both his Alolan Ninetales as well as his Togedemaru. With two Encore users, Sanvito found many opportunities to lock down his opponent’s Pokemon into either set up moves, like Trick Room or Curse, or attacks that couldn’t do damage to Sanvito’s available switch-ins.
One of the prime examples of this control playstyle was in Sanvito’s Top 4 match against Carson Confer. In this set, Sanvito was able to mitigate Confer’s ability to set up Trick Room for his Gigalith, while also shutting down Gigalith’s ability to boost its stats with Curse. With his Pokemon stuck into less-desirable move options, Confer had to continuously react to Sanvito’s plays, while Sanvito could easily maneuver his team into a winning position.
Encore also came in clutch for Sanvito in his finals match against Alex Gomez, where, with the help of Tapu Fini’s Haze, Gomez’ Snorlax was unable to maintain its Belly Drum boosts. After locking down his opponents, Sanvito was easily able to clean up the game with either his Choice Specs Tapu Fini, Garchomp or his Celesteela.
Like previously mentioned, Italy as a whole had a strong presence in London’s Top 8. Five of the original eight positions belonged to Italy, with the first seed coming out of Swiss and the tournament’s overall champion belonging to Italy. Does this mean Italy is the region to be reckoned with in Europe? Some players seem to think so:
Nice to see three international players in Italy Nats cut.
— 060aj (@_000aj) November 18, 2017
Because Italy has the most locals and most players in Europe and travel through Europe is reasonably priced (costs me less to fly to London than for some UK people to take a train to London)
— [ˈbiːnɪ] Yuree (@YureeVGC) November 20, 2017
Alex Gomez brings back Magnezone
We saw a lot of familiar teams and Pokemon in London, but Alex Gomez decided to fall back on a Pokemon that brought him success in the past. Well, more like an entire team that brought him success in the past.
Alex Gomez was one of two Tapu Bulu players in the Top 8, piloting a team very similar to the one that earned him a second place finish at the Sheffield Regional Championships earlier this year. This team featured many Pokemon that benefited from the Grassy Terrain as Pokemon like Nihilego and Magnezone appreciate taking less damage from Earthquake. For now, let’s focus on Magnezone.
Magnezone seemed like the perfect anti-meta pick for London. Celesteela was quite the popular choice for many teams, which Magnezone enjoyed. Magnezone has two solid abilities with the option of Sturdy to give Magnezone a pseudo-Focus Sash or Magnet Pull which can trap opposing Steel-types. I think you can see which one would be better against Celesteela. But, Magnezone’s combination of Steel and Electric-type attacks made it a perfect check to each of the other Tapu Pokemon, which already have a tough time dealing with Tapu Bulu. With two VGC 2017 regionals left to go, I think competitors should keep Magnezone in mind when teambuilding.
With 2018’s first International behind us and the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, we now begin our proper transition into the real 2018 season. Those looking to compete once again on the international stage have their sights on the Oceania International Championships which were announced to be hitting Melbourne, Australia this February. Until January rolls around, we still have two more VGC 2017 tournaments taking place, but in the mean time, players can now start officially training for the 2018 season in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Perhaps now is the time to uncover what the new format has in store for us as 2017 comes to a close in the coming months.
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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