One Mega Evolution emerged from nothing and is now the talk of the Pokemon VGC community. The Taiwan Open that happened this past weekend saw its Top Cut dominated by none other than Mega Aerodactyl. A Mega Evolution that previously had zero 2018 results to its name earned a grand total of 720 Championship Points in just one tournament. What’s even more crazy is that the four Mega Aerodactyl teams that made it to the Top 8 and the two that made it to Top 16 were identical in terms of Pokemon. Let’s try and figure out what drew players to such an obscure strategy.
Mega Aerodactyl itself
Thanks to a team report from a player known as “Sayha” who placed in the Top 8 at the Taiwan Open, we know pretty much how the entire team is meant to work. But let’s start with the star of the show. The Mega Aerodactyl moveset is one based on support with moves like Tailwind and Sky Drop. Rock Slide is in there of course because as Sayha mentions in his report “Rock Slide is the best move.”
According to Sayha, Aerodactyl even has utility before it Mega Evolves with its ability Unnerve. Unnerve prevents Pokemon from consuming their berries which comes in handy against a Belly Drum Snorlax. Sky Drop is a move that can disrupt the opponent by carrying one of their Pokemon into the sky for a turn. This can allow Pokemon like Xurkitree to set up a… Substitute? I was expecting Tail Glow, but I guess Sayha thought having Beast Boost would be enough to buff Xurkitree’s attack power. Also Sky Drop’s damage is boosted by Mega Aerodactyl’s Tough Claws ability, but its main means of offense in Rock Slide is not since it doesn’t make contact.
The idea of a support Mega Evolution isn’t crazy, but I don’t think Mega Aerodactyl seems like the best pick. Sure, you’ve got great support moves like Sky Drop and Tailwind, but what you get from Mega Evolving leans more towards offense with Tough Claws. Perhaps the insane amount of speed Mega Aerodactyl gets when it Mega Evolves is the key. At Mega Aerodactyl’s ridiculous 150 base speed, you’re pretty much guaranteed fast Sky Drops and (more importantly) fast Rock Slides. Maybe there is some potential here.
The Sky Drop strategy with Mega Aerodactyl is mainly to support the team’s other interesting member: Xurkitree. Despite not having Tail Glow, this Xurkitree is easily able to start boosting since it’s holding the Electrium Z. With the immense amount of pressure that both Xurkitree and Mega Aerodactyl put on, Xurkitree’s set up is pretty hard to stop.
The two sources of Intimidate on the team make sense as Xurkitree and Mega Aerodactyl are rather weak on the defensive side. Interestingly, the Landorus on this team has a Jolly Nature plus a Choice Scarf which suggests that this Landorus was valued more for speed than attack power. Incineroar isn’t packing Protect yet its holding a pinch berry, but like Landorus, it carries U-Turn. This duo is likely meant to pivot in and out of battle to not only cycle Intimidates but also disrupt the opponent with Incineroar’s Fake Out and a potential flinch from Landorus’ fast Rock Slide.
The last two members are fairly standard with Ferrothorn and Tapu Fini. The Tapu Fini is a tad different as it carries Haze as a support move and Hydro Pump as its main Water attack over Muddy Water. This is likely due to the Tapu Fini holding the Waterium Z which is something that has been picking up some popularity over in the West as well.
Overall, the team is very focused on setting up Xurkitree, without much offense existing outside of that. Still, Pokemon like Incineroar, Tapu Fini and Ferrothorn are able to score KO’s in the right situation and hey, there’s always Rock Slide flinches.
What a team we have here.
The impact on the West
If it wasn’t obvious already, the results from the Taiwan Open have definitely already caught the western VGC scene’s eye. Usually, us westerners are focused on tournaments from Japan or Korea, but rarely do teams from regions like Taiwan pick up popularity over here. The scenes may be smaller, but regions like Taiwan and even Malaysia have been having quite an impact on the western VGC metagame. And we haven’t even gotten to the main events in Japan and Korea yet.
While some western players will try to directly emulate this team, I predict some will try to adapt it to their own style. Will we be seeing Mega Aerodactyl start to dominate tournaments in the West? Smart Money is on “no”, but there’s no doubt that it’s viable. The Taiwan Open results have shown us that there are still undiscovered strategies and Pokemon that have yet to be explored in metagame that appears to be in its later stages. I’m sure it won’t be long before Mega Aerodactyl drops into another Top 8. Only this time, it’ll be on the other side of the world.
Thanks for reading!
Check out Sayha’s team report here. (It’s written in Chinese, but the moves/abilities are in English)
Also, check out the stream of the Taiwan Open here.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, The Pokemon Anime, Bulbapedia, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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