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Pokemon: 2019 European International Championships Finals Preview

A field of over 400 players has finally been reduced to two at the 2019 European International Championships. The title will once again remain in Europe, returning to the country of Italy. How do we know that? Both finalists are from there.

Davide Carrer versus Flavio Del Pidio is the championship matchup, pitting two of Italy’s finest in a bout to decide this year’s international champion for their home continent.

Flavio Del Pidio

1st Seed (13-2 Swiss Record)

2019 Pokemon European International Championships Finals

Calling this matchup will be tough considering both players have equally impressive accomplishments to make their case. Del Pidio enters this match with the better record and slightly more interesting team that seems to have been working out quite well for him. He made easy work of his Top 8 opponent, Christian Cheynubrata, and managed to overcome the Shedinja shenanigans of his Top 4 opponent, Melvin Keh (even though he didn’t actually bring it during their set).

Even though Del Pidio hasn’t made it this far on the international stage, he’s been to an international Top Cut, and has demonstrated his competence at the highest level. Getting past a player like Melvin Keh in the Top 4 was no easy feat, and his excellent Swiss record should illustrate that he’s the real deal.

Davide Carrer

2nd Seed (13-2 Swiss Record)

2019 Pokemon European International Championships Finals

Falling just behind Del Pidio as the second overall seed going into Top Cut is his fellow Italian, Davide Carrer. Like Del Pidio, Carrer has made it to the international’s Top Cut stage (interestingly still in Europe) as well, showing that he’s also familiar with the highest level of play. Carrer has also played in Day 2 of the World Championships two years in a row, and while he hasn’t claimed a major title like Del Pidio, he came quite close in 2017 at the Leipzig Regionals.

Carrer had a tall order in place for his path through Top Cut as he was forced to take down some of North America’s strongest players. Not only did he defeat Kimo Nishimura, a player who’s been out of the game for a bit but put on a strong performance in Berlin, but also a former World Champion in Wolfe Glick. Not only did Carrer defeat Glick, he made it look kinda easy. What’s interesting is Carrer claims he began competing after seeing Glick win the World Championships in 2016, so his win over him here he described as “emotional”.

After evaluating this two players based on their accomplishments, the call remains tough. How about their teams and how they stack up against one another?

Analyzing the MatchupImage result for nihilego

What this matchup boils down to is standard versus the non-standard. Granted, one could argue the Mega Rayquaza/Xerneas archetype is “standard” in the given format, but Del Pidio’s addition of Nihilego makes his variant much more interesting.

As we’ve seen in Del Pidio’s Top Cut matches, Nihilego poses quite the problem for the Xerneas/Groudon archetype which he will be facing again in the final. Not only do a majority of the Pokemon on Carrer’s team have a weakness against either of Nihilego’s main offensive types, but Del Pidio is packing a tech move known as Clear Smog that can eliminate Xerneas’ Geomancy boosts. Another thing of note is just how slow and bulky Del Pidio’s Mega Rayquaza is, as it is carrying the Assault Vest item. While it was shown that his Mega Rayquaza was even slower than a Primal Groudon, Del Pidio showed how much of a threat his Rayquaza was when it nearly KO’d said Groudon with Earth Power. The benefit of the Assault Vest allows Mega Rayquaza to take advantage of both of its offensive stats, making some unique tech options possible. Then of course there’s Xerneas, which Del Pidio will likely seek to set-up in the late game once Mega Rayquaza and Nihilego finish their jobs.

Although Pokemon like Mega Rayquaza and Nihilego remain problems for Carrer’s team, they’re not totally unbeatable. Carrer can easily take advantage of the Mega Rayquaza’s low speed stat to threaten it with his own Xerneas. While Carrer’s Groudon is a mixed attacking variant, meaning it hates Assault Vest Mega Rayquaza even more, having access to Earth Power gives it a 100% accurate means of dealing with Del Pidio’s Nihilego. Despite how many times we’ve seen Xerneas clean up games during the season, I don’t think setting up Geomancy will be key in beating Del Pidio. In order for Carrer to come out on top he will need to make full use of his Primal Groudon while also ensuring that Del Pidio’s Xerneas doesn’t find an easy way to set-up.

Overall, Del Pidio seems to have the edge in terms of the matchup and how familiar he is with dealing with teams like Carrer’s (especially in the Top Cut). Still, there’s no reason to count Carrer out as sometimes the standard approach can overcome any matchup in the hands of a good player. Tomorrow’s finals match should be a good one, as two of the best players from one of the strongest countries in Pokemon VGC will battle it out for Italy’s third International Championship title.

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Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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