It’s time yet again for another International Challenge tournament. The International Challenges are online tournaments held on the Pokemon Global Link that pit players across the world in battles using the current competitive format’s rule-set. However, this tournament is a bit different since all battles are best-of-one, kind of like if you’re playing on the Battle Spot ladder. So what should you expect during your 45 battle run? Here’s a pretty good idea.
The current top 30
These are the Top 30 most used Pokemon on the Championship Battles ladder on Battle Spot, and you should expect to see all of them. Some notable examples are the Island Guardians, Metagross, Snorlax, Incineroar, Zapdos, Salamence, Landorus-Therian, Tyranitar, Cresselia and many others. Of course it would take forever to go over each individual Pokemon, so we’ll just give you the highlights.
This should come as no surprise to anyone that has ever played VGC this year. Mega Metagross is by far the most popular Mega Evolution and for good reason. It has great speed, power and bulk with some great move coverage to help it tear through an opponent’s team. Expect to see the usual partners like Landorus, Zapdos and Tapu Lele, but there could be some variations to the Mega Metagross team formula. Recently, a team that uses Porygon2 and Araquanid has seen success with Mega Metagross, and I expect to see a fair amount of those teams in this tournament. The name of Mega Metagross’ game is consistency, and thus using one of these teams is usually a safe pick for guaranteeing a good number of wins.
Another Mega Evolution that has been dominating usage charts is Mega Manectric. This Pokemon isn’t too impressive on its own, but what it does for its team is amazing. Mega Manectric relies on pivoting and lowering the opponent’s stats by cycling Intimidate using Volt Switch and using Snarl to lower the opponent’s Special Attack. Usually this leads to a switch into Gothitelle which can trap the weakened foes while Snorlax sets up an almost free Belly Drum. This team composition is also a pretty safe pick, though its play style might be a bit slow for a 45 game best-of-one gauntlet.
Mega Charizard Y
Like the above two, Mega Charizard Y is a pick for consistency. What makes Charizard preferable to Manectric in my opinion is its ability to play much faster. Sure Charizard teams usually have some sort of Trick Room mode with Snorlax or Tyranitar, but this Trick Room mode is usually focused on making the most of those Trick Room turns with offense. The fast modes of Mega Charizard Y teams are also potent as Pokemon like Kartana and Tapu Koko can control speed while also firing off high damaging attacks. Combine all of that with Mega Charizard Y’s spamming of Heat Wave in the sun and you could potentially have some quick games.
Mega Salamence hasn’t had nearly the level of success it’s had in the past, but players are finding away to keep this Mega Evolution among the best. Mega Salamence fits into a category of Mega Evolutions that like to set-up and sweep. Some other notable examples are Mega Tyranitar, Gyarados and Charizard X respectively. Mega Salamence’s Aerilate ability gives it a boost to its Normal-type attacks while also turning them into same-type boosted Flying-type moves. After just one Dragon Dance Mega Salamence can win games on its own, which makes it a perfect Pokemon for best-of-one play.
The last Mega Evolution I’ll mention is one that has recently emerged into the spotlight thanks to a certain Intimidating cat not named Landorus. Mega Gardevoir has typically had a slow play style in the past, but Mega Gardevoir is another Pokemon that can win games on its own. Most Gardevoir teams have both a fast Tailwind mode and a Trick Room mode that rely on putting Mega Gardevoir in a position where it can spam Pixilate-boosted Hyper Voice to victory. The typical Gardevoir team composition is another known for consistency, and this could be an attractive option for many players looking to play a more simple team.
Other notable Pokemon
Of course I could put Pokemon like the Island Guardians, Landorus and Cresselia in here, but let’s look at some more interesting Pokemon from the aforementioned Top 30.
We’ve talked a lot about this Pokemon and its new ability already, but the hype train for Intimidate Incineroar has just barely left the station. With access to great offensive coverage, Fake Out, good bulk and a surprisingly flexible fourth moveslot (and Intimidate obviously) Incineroar can almost be slapped on any team right now. Expect it mainly with Mega Evolutions like Gardevoir and Salamence who benefit from Incineroar’s ability to use Fake Out to buy them a free turn of damage or setup. This Pokemon will likely be everywhere, and I encourage you to keep count of how many you face just to see the absurd amount of times you’ll likely go up against it.
Want to counter Incineroar and Intimidate in general? Milotic is probably the Pokemon for you. There were a lot of haters of Milotic before the Charlotte Regional Championships that it ended up winning. Competitive is an amazing ability that allows Milotic to turn a inconsequential Attack drop into doubling its Special Attack. Granted, this doesn’t turn Milotic into a sweeper and players who do see Milotic that way are playing it wrong according to Charlotte Regional champion Wolfe Glick. Milotic can do damage with that Competitive boost, but keeping it around for the long game is essential to using it effectively.
The reason I put this Pokemon here is that it has the ability to boost all of its stats with its powerful Z-move. The common Mega Gengar+Kommo-o team composition has had sort of a drought in tournament play, but a team like that could easily work for an International Challenge. The team likes to play slow outside of Kommo-o with Pokemon like Tapu Bulu and a Trick Room mode that relies on Gengar’s Shadow Tag to usually set up a long, painful game for the opponent, but unprepared teams could fall prey to an easy Kommo-o sweep. Make sure your team has some sort of Fairy-type coverage as you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a sweep thanks to Clangorous Soulblaze.
I know I said I was going to make this section more interesting, but Snorlax is a consistent pick for both best-of-one and best-of-three play. Snorlax in this tournament will likely be Belly Drum variants who will do nothing but rack up KO’s and Recycle their berries when their health gets low. Expect Snorlax to be paired alongside a Trick Room setter like Gothitelle or Cresselia and some sort of Pokemon that can cycle Intimidate like Mega Manectric and/or Landorus. I’m surprised that Snorlax stuck around despite the increase in Incineroar usage, but that should be a testament to just how good this Pokemon is. If there’s one thing I absolutely do not recommend is sleeping on Snorlax.
And that’s just a quick preview to this month’s International Challenge tournament. Whether you’re playing for Championship Points or just for fun, these tournaments are great to practice the current competitive format. But that’s not all the action happening this weekend as the Portland Regional Championships will be going on with a stream of the event being graciously provided by the people over at NuggetBridge. There’s a ton of Pokemon happening this weekend and we’ll be here to cover it all!
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokemon Shuffle, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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