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Toppled By Toxic and a Rare Tapu: VGC 2017 Virginia Regional Championships Recap

Finally breaking his top 4 regionals curse, Nick Navarre takes home his first regional title in Roanoke.

While we saw a lot of the same teams featuring Tapu Koko and Tapu Fini this weekend, Navarre was able to take Tapu Bulu to its first major tournament win in North America. Aside from using the format’s least prevalent Island Guardian, Navrre’s team featured a plethora of unique Pokemon and strategies that managed to break through the Tapu Koko and Tapu Fini saturated field in Roanoke.

Results & Teams (Top 8 Cut)

1. Nick Navarre

2. Robbie Moore

3. Toler Webb

Alola Form

4. Kazuki Kanehira

5. Cameron Swan

6. Jake Hockemeyer

7. Aaron Traylor

8. Rajan Bal

Well That Looks Familiar

Image from Pokemon Sun and Moon

The team of Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Arcanine, Porygon2 and Gigalith took Virginia Regionals by storm this past weekend. The team was featured a total of four times on stream during Swiss Rounds, and in nearly every Top Cut match. Despite its dominance in usage, the team was only able to claim the title in Seniors but had an impressive finals run in Masters under Robbie Moore.

New Tricks

This team, of course, features some of the metagame’s most popular Pokemon, but some of the move and item choices were quite unique.Image result for tapu koko png

The popular Tapu Koko variant for this archetype opted to hold a Focus Sash to allow it to survive attacks and continue to Volt Switch in and out of play. Another interesting tech was Hidden Power Fire instead of Thunderbolt. In exchange for one of Tapu Koko’s most reliable forms of damage, Hidden Power Fire allows Tapu Koko to score a valuable knockout on an opponent’s Kartana which can give this team some trouble.

Image result for arcanine pngArcanine maintains its place as the literal “top dog” of VGC 2017, but this dog has learned some new tricks. Thief was a crucial part of Arcanine’s arsenal of attacks this weekend, as it robbed a number of Snorlax’s of their precious pinch berries. Taking away Snorlax’s berry basically shuts down its Belly Drum strategy, as it is unable to Recycle its berry after being hit with a move like Thief or Knock Off.Image result for kartana png

Instead of the popular Focus Sash or Choice Scarf on this team’s Kartana, most opted for the Grassium Z which can help Kartana quickly begin racking up Beast Boosts. In combination with Kartana’s more offense-oriented item choice, Substitute was present in order to punish defensive plays from opponents looking to protect themselves from Kartana’s rampage.

The Rise of the RockImage result for gigalith png

Porygon2 and Gigalith are a Trick Room duo that shouldn’t be messed with. While being featured in full force on the tournament’s most common team, this duo can easily place itself on a number of other builds (see Cameron Swan’s team). While Porygon2 remains mostly the same, Gigalith can either demolish its opponents with a Continental Crush followed by a flurry of Rock Slides or set up Curses like its friend Snorlax. Not having a reliable answer for these two can mean huge trouble for future teams.

Toxic Everything

Nick Navarre’s beyond conventional strategy featured two “modes” that allowed him to both pick up quick knockouts and also slowly wear down his opponent with Toxic.Image result for tapu bulu png

The first mode, which Navarre appropriately dubbed “Grass Spam”, is the offensive mode of the team. It features his Tapu Bulu carrying the Grassium Z which makes for one heck of a Bloom Doom in the Grassy Terrain field. Navarre returned to his reliable Scope Lens Kartana which he claimed is the one the mode was built for. Continuously putting multipliers on Kartana’s already monstrous Attack stat was Navarre’s goal for this mode, and an increased critical hit chance on top of the boost from Grassy Terrain, makes Kartana’s signature Leaf Blade terrifying to take a hit from.

Image result for salamence pngThe second, and likely most noteworthy, mode of the team was the use of Toxic. Those who look at Navarre’s team on the surface may not see anything that would normally run Toxic. Then you go up against Arcanine and Salamence. Arcanine is useful as a supportive Pokemon, but Toxic is quite low on the list of its common moves. Even Salamence, a Pokemon known for its offensive prowess, was utilized as a Toxic user holding a Sitrus Berry (an item you would normally never associate with a Pokemon like Salamence). Combined with the shifting of Terrain and Follow Me + Friend Guard support from Clefairy, this strategy proved quite difficult to break. This likely explains how Navarre did not drop a single game after his fourth round of Swiss.

Final Thoughts

I feel like I emphasize this in every article I write about this format, but VGC 2017 is prime for creativity. A team that dominated usage this weekend fell to a team that defied convention. Congratulations to Nick Navarre as he solidifies his place at the top of North America’s Championship Point standings with a whopping 1114 CP.

With only a few regionals remaining in the 2017 circuit, players are looking to make a final push towards claiming their World Championship invites. All of this culminates in the final International Championships coming up in just a few months in Indianapolis.

We’ll be back next week for coverage of a regional from just up north in Toronto!

Thanks for reading!

Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori

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