Our second piece of Regional Championship coverage comes from Birmingham, UK where Rachel Annand took a clean victory for her first regional title. Annand’s win in Birmingham places her comfortably at 17th in Europe’s CP standings, but unfortunately she sits just outside of a Day 2 World Championships invite. Drifblim+Tapu Lele was Annand’s team of choice, and her results prove that this combination is far from outdated.
Results & Teams (Top 8)
1. Rachel Annand
2. Lukas Muller
3. Matthias Sucholdulski
4. Jamie Dixon
5. Jamie Boyt
6. Matt Carter
7. Alex Gomez
8. Jason McCullough
A Balloon That Hasn’t Deflated
While the combination of Drifblim and Tapu Lele might appear outdated, Annand’s victory in Birmingham proves the opposite. The hyper-offensive nature of the team pairs quite well with the recent trend of multiple Ultra Beasts on top teams.
Annand’s Buzzwole and Nihilego arguably put in more work than Tapu Lele, picking up KO’s left and right with the help of Drifblim’s Tailwind. The recent popularity of Nihilego paired with Pheromosa, works well on this team with Buzzwole in Pheromosa’s place. Both can make use of Tailwind, allowing for more bulk rather than taking gambles with Pheromosa.
Players at this point are prepared to deal with Drifblim and Tapu Lele, but are they prepared to handle potentially new teammates. Annand’s decreased reliability on the classic lead shows that this team is able to adapt and doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.
A 6-1 Missed Top Cut?
The Pokemon VGC tournament structure is by no means perfect, and I think we’re all aware of it by now. David Koutesh was victim to a lesser-known tournament error that cost him a place in Top 8 at a 6-1 record.
According to Koutesh on Twitter, the error had to do with players being added after Round 1, but the amount of rounds staying the same. Due to the increased amount of players and the misaligned round numbers, this is likely what caused the error.
Luckily, at 9th place, Koutesh was able to claim his invite to the World Championships, but missing Top Cut could’ve cost him potentially 120 more Championship Points.
Scizor was a Pokemon that thrived for years in VGC, but so far in 2017 has been pretty quiet. Scizor’s usage usually drops a bit in seasons where it doesn’t have access to Bug Bite, but the issues for Scizor this season are beyond its own capabilities. Despite Scizor’s favorable matchup against Tapu Lele, Psychic Terrain has heavily nerfed Scizor’s main selling point: Technician-boosted Bullet Punch. Combined with the fact that Celesteela and Arcanine dominate the metagame, Scizor’s success in 2017 has reasonably been non-existent.
Matt Carter managed to find a way for Scizor to work, by ensuring he had ways to disrupt Psychic Terrain and stop Scizor’s biggest counters. This team composition is not entirely new however, as those who watched the stream for Toronto Regionals saw Nick Navarre feature a very similar team that unfortunately missed Top Cut after losing in the final Swiss round.
For those not familiar, the strategy centers around a Scizor holding Choice Band with a more supportive Tapu Fini that can Swagger Scizor in the Misty Terrain without the drawback of confusion. Salamence functions in a similar role on the team as a set-up sweeper with Dragon Dance.
It’s a clever strategy, but its skill curve is quite high. A lot of set-up is needed for the team to succeed, and making a few wrong plays can spoil the Scizor strategy rather quickly.
Can Scizor still be viable in this format? I still think so, but it’s heavily outclassed by Steel-types that can do its job much better.
Speaking of a niche Pokemon that reappeared on a familiar team, Silvally finally showed up in a western tournament’s top placings.
Ever since Japan’s “Battle Road Gloria”, Silvally has remained in relative obscurity. For those unfamiliar with this strategy, Silvally is normally holding a Choice Scarf with the moves: Flamethrower, Rock Slide, Parting Shot, and Explosion. In this role, Silvally functions as an offensive support Pokemon that can assist Mimikyu with setting up Trick Room for Gigalith. Parting Shot gives Mimikyu a higher chance of surviving, and Explosion can pick up two quick KO’s while not harming its partner Mimikyu.
I feel like Silvally is still heavily underrated, and its potential hasn’t extended far past this team. Silvally can literally be any type and has access to a ton of moves both offensive as well as supportive. Its stats leave a little to be desired, but Silvally can fit into a variety of roles that haven’t been explored.
Birmingham was Europe’s final regional for the pre-Worlds 2017 season, but there’s still a rather large tournament happening in the states that could interest some European players still looking for a Day One or Day Two invite. This last International could have a major impact on European CP results as there’s sure to be a lot of players looking to make the trip. There’s a little over three weeks to go, so we’ll just have to see if any Europeans will take North America by surprise.
Thanks for reading!
Featured Image from Pokemon and The Pokemon Company International
Art of Pokémon from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori
Pokémon Sprite Images courtesy of Game Freak