It has been a long running joke in the VGC community to “sleep” on the region of Latin America. After an impressive showing at last year’s World Championships, Latin America has finally brought home a trophy thanks to Paul Ruiz of Ecuador. It’s finally time to wake up world.
Ruiz was matched up against Emilio Forbes, an American player who made his Masters Division debut at Worlds this year. Forbes’ team was an interesting take on the Perish Trap archetype which threatens the terrifying late-game win condition of Shadow Tag plus the move Perish Song. Ruiz arguably had the better matchup with his team relying on setting up Dragon Dances with his Mega Salamence (a strategy very similar to his team from his Top 4 run in Anaheim). With the combination of Mega Salamence’s incredible offensive presence and a surprising Groudium Z coming from Ruiz’s Gastrodon, Ruiz was able to escape Forbes’ trap and claim the World Championship title.
After his historic win, Ruiz had some inspiring words for his country, Latin America, and those who continue to chase their dreams to become a World Champion:
“This is for Ecuador, this is for Latin America. This time I don’t have any flag on because I’m representing my whole continent — the dream was real. To God be the Glory”
“Live with passion, otherwise you are doing it wrong.”
We’ve got much more to talk about from Nashville, but first here are your Top 8 results and teams:
1. Paul Ruiz [ECU]
2. Emilio Forbes [USA]
3. Nils Dunlop [SWE]
4. Yusei Matsuno [JPN]
5. Roberto Porretti [ITA]
6. Tomohiro Seki [JPN]
7. Frederico Turano [ARG]
8. Arash Ommati [ITA]
A Top Cut full of diversity
Every big four region was represented in Nashville’s Top Cut with eight different countries being represented. As expected, the United States, Italy and Japan had big showings, but lesser known nations such as Singapore and Sweden were represented by their big names being Melvin Keh and Nils Dunlop respectively. Despite the US and Italy living up to their expected presence in the Top Cut, only three of them advanced to the Top 8. Among those eliminated in the Top 16 were three International Champions in Simone Sanvito, Alessio Yuri Boschetto and Carson Confer. It was clear that both Japan and Latin America were poised to make it to the top after many stunning Top 16 upsets.
The pool of Pokemon and strategies was diverse as well. Five different Mega Evolutions appeared in Top 8, but Mega Salamence gave quite an impressive performance as the underdog to Mega Evolutions like Metagross, Charizard and Gengar. Staple Intimidators Landorus-T and Incineroar were in full force with at least one appearing on every single Top 8 team. Incineroar remained pretty much the same, but Landorus-Therian appeared in many different forms with notable variants being the special-attacking Choice Scarf variant and Emilio Forbes’ more defensive Landorus carrying Groudium Z.
Even though some Pokemon were much more common than others, each Top 8 team had its own flavor which distinguished them from the rest. Let’s get into some of the more spicier strategies that made it big in Nashville.
Metagame Highlights: Worlds Edition
Gastrodon: Gastrodon isn’t a new Pokemon to VGC by any means, but Paul Ruiz took a page out of the Japanese metagame when he decided to use Groundium Z on his Gastrodon. What’s unique about putting a Z move on Gastrodon is that this Pokemon is more oriented towards more defensive strategies relying on its bulk, typing and recovery to linger on the battlefield for a long time. Seeing a Gastrodon capable of threatening one-hit-KO’s to win the biggest tournament of the year was pretty cool to see.
Latias: Latias was a popular Pokemon mainly for its Mega Evolution, but Emilio Forbes kept Latias in its base form as an offensive support Pokemon. With Icy Wind Latias could slow down the opponent’s team to potentially set up KO’s from its own Psychium Z or any of Forbes’ other big hitters. Being a Dragon-type in 2018 isn’t easy, but Latias has both great offense and defensive capabilities that make it a solid choice for teams in the metagame.
Gothitelle: Unfortunately for Yu-Gi-Oh fans, Yusei Matsuno’s ace monster was no dragon, but rather a Psychic space queen. Gothitelle has fallen severely out of favor in the late-2018 metagame, but Matsuno brought new life to what has become Cresselia’s understudy. Gothitelle’s game is its ability Shadow Tag, but Matsuno decided to use Competitive instead. In a similar vein to Paul Ruiz’s Gastrodon we saw a traditionally defensive Pokemon turned into a major offensive threat. Any of those who doubt Gothitelle’s offensive capability, watch Matsuno’s Top 4 set versus Emilio Forbes where Forbes’ Latias takes 3/4 of its HP to Gothitelle’s boosted Shattered Psyche.
Snorlax: No one really did anything new with Snorlax (unless you count Yusei Matsuo who decided to revive Choice Band Snorlax), but its increased usage in Nashville is noteworthy. Snorlax kind of fell off around the same time Gothitelle did (likely because of Incineroar’s rise to prominence) but that doesn’t mean it lost its threat status. A Belly Drum-boosted Snorlax can still wipe teams while under Trick Room, and many teams with Trick Room modes or faster teams that needed Trick Room answers called upon Snorlax.
Rhydon: This Pokemon was probably the most interesting to make it to the Top Cut. Javier Valdes has been a fan of Lightningrod users next to Mega Charizard Y, but he took a new approach to this strategy by using Rhydon. With the Eviolite item, Rhydon can out-bulk its evolved form Rhyperior without having to give up Lightningrod for Solid Rock. With the help of Mega Charizard Y’s Drought ability, Rhydon can take on Water-types much easier while Grass-types crumble to a Fire-type attack from Charizard.
VGC 2019 is here already?!
Before the Top Cut commenced in Nashville, the casters took some time to introduce the world to the VGC 2019 format. To no one’s surprise, GS Cup is making a return on Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but with a twist. There are three different versions of this format players have to look forward to.
For those unfamiliar with the GS Cup rule set, this metagame includes powerful legendary Pokemon that aren’t normally allowed in the Video Game Championships. Players may have up to two of the following restricted Pokemon: Mewtwo, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Reshiram, Zekrom, Kyurem, Xerneas, Yveltal, Zygarde, Cosmog, Cosmoem, Solgaleo, Lunala, Necrozma. This aspect of GS Cup remains constant over the three series of the 2019 format, but each one will play much differently.
The Sun Series will be GS Cup, however Mega Stones, Z Crystals, and the Red and Blue Orbs won’t be allowed. This series begins on September 4th 2018 and lasts until January 7th 2019. The Moon series will allow Z Crystals (with the exception of Ultranecrozium Z) and will keep Mega Stones and the Red/Blue Orbs banned. The Moon series begins on January 8th 2019 and lasts until April 4th 2019. Finally, the Ultra Series allows all Z Crystals and items (including the previously banned Mega Stones and Red/Blue Orbs) along with the ability for Rayquaza to know Dragon Ascent and, therefore, Mega Evolve. The Ultra Series will round out 2019 as it runs from April 5th until the 2019 World Championships.
This structure of switching up the format during the season is completely new to the Video Game Championships, and it’s sure to shake things up dramatically. And the best part is, this rule set begins next week! Time to say farewell to 2018 and fully welcome in the new season.
Speaking of Worlds next season…
See you in Washington D.C. for the 2019 World Championships!
The Pokemon World Championships will return to the nation’s capital in 2019. Many east-coast U.S. players are excited to have Worlds back on their home side of the country, and this will surely inspire many players from this region to earn their invites.
The 2018 Pokemon World Championships were a fitting end to the 2018 season and format. We witnessed history with Latin America bringing home its first World Championship after conquering some of VGC’s strongest nations. Latin America’s journey to prove themselves has been completed, but their storied history in the future of VGC is one waiting to be written.
With the 2018 season behind us, many players are showing a renewed optimism in VGC with the announcement of the 2019 GS Cup rule set. 2019 is shaping up to be a fun and exciting year in VGC, and we don’t have long to wait before the next season is fully underway.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon, Pokemon Shuffle, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.