The 2020 season of the Pokemon Video Game Championships is fully underway with the recent regional championships wrapping up in Bochum and Dallas. The 2020 metagame had been slowly developing up until the format’s first official tournaments, but now with those said official tournaments’ results, we have a much better idea of what the top level of play looks like for the foreseeable future.
Of course, metagames are always subject to quick, drastic change so what’s on top now may not be there for much longer. So, here is a brief look at the VGC 2020 metagame, and some insight on what the future could hold.
Teams & Results
(Teams collected by Nimbasa City Post)
At this point, it’s safe to say that the player base has discovered some of the best Pokemon in 2020 metagame, and these tournament results reflect that.
Let’s start with an eighth-generation newcomer in Dragapult. Dragapult is Galar’s sole pseudo-legendary Pokemon, specializing in speed and offense. It’s easily the fastest Pokemon in the format and can make excellent use of both its physical and special attack stats. Popular teams like to support Dragapult with re-direction so that it can set-up a free Dragon Dance and pull off an easy sweep with Dynamax. That support often times comes from this next Pokemon.
Togekiss is no stranger to the world of VGC, but this year it finds itself as quite possibly the best Pokemon in the game. Players value Togekiss mainly as a support Pokemon utilizing Follow Me and the newfound Yawn which can help protect its teammates and slow down opposing Dynamax. However, in 2020, Togekiss is a prime candidate for the offensive role, becoming a potent sweeper with the effective use of Dynamax and the Weakness Policy item. An even more cheeky approach is letting Togekiss hold a Scope Lens with the ability Super Luck, granting it a 50/50 chance of landing a critical hit with every attack. Talk about versatility.
The foundation of any competitive Pokemon team is a solid type core, one of the most famous being the Fire/Water/Grass core. Many successful VGC 2020 teams have made use of this core using Pokemon like Arcanine, Gyarados, Rotom (Heat, Wash, Mow forms), Ferrothorn, Gastrodon, etc. Another common core is the Dragon/Steel/Fairy core using Pokemon like the aforementioned Togekiss and Dragapult, but another popular pick is Dragapult’s Dragon-type competition in Duraludon. Expect to see both of these cores round out many more successful teams this season, and who knows how far players will take these established type cores.
A Battle For Speed Control
The changes to speed mechanics in Pokemon Sword and Shield made the struggle for speed control even more prevalent. Whimsicott has become one of the most essential Pokemon for many teams because it’s the only Pokemon in the Galar Pokedex that has the combination of the Prankster ability and Tailwind (giving the move priority). Since speed changes now take place mid-turn, the immediate Tailwind gives Whimsicott’s teammate a speed boost right off the bat. This has made non-Prankster Tailwind users like Braviary fall slightly out of favor, but these Pokemon are well-rounded enough to be solid choices for a team.
The reaction to this surge in Whimsicott usage has been the plethora of Trick Room teams looking to flip the speed order on its head. There are a lot of viable Trick Room setters like Dusclops, Bronzong, Gothitelle and Jellicent renowned for their ability to easily set-up Trick Room due to their outstanding defensive stats.
Then there are the Trick Room sweepers, mainly found in Pokemon like Rhyperior and Torkoal. Weakness Policy is also one of Rhyperior’s favorite items as its Solid Rock ability lessens the damage taken by super effective attacks. The strategy for many Rhyperior teams is to prock their own Weakness Policy with a Pokemon like Dusclops using Bulldoze (hits all Pokemon on the field) to hit its partner.
Torkoal has returned to regional Pokedex prominence as not only a Trick Room attacker, but as one of the premier weather setters in VGC. Torkoal’s sun is mainly contested by the Sand duo of Tyranitar and Excadrill, where Excadrill abuses the opposite end of the speed spectrum by doubling its speed in the sand. Sun has its own duo outside of Torkoal with Whimisicott and Charizard, another duo that appreciates Tailwind and the Prankster ability giving priority Sunny Day. Aside from François-Xavier de Lageneste’s Top 4 finish in Bochum, Rain has been uncharacteristically quite so far in 2020. Perhaps some innovation is needed for this once-dominant early-format archetype.
Grimmsnarl: Another one of the premier Pokemon with the Prankster ability that has a ton of diversity in its potential move set. It’s best known for setting up Light Screen and Reflect, but the last two move slots can be the combination of moves like Fake Out, Foul Play, Swagger, Fake Tears, and the list goes on.
Mudsdale/Conkeldurr: These two are becoming sort of the anti-Rhyperior Trick Room Pokemon. Both have positive type matchups and can perform well against Rhyperior and in the Trick Room matchup in general for faster, more balanced teams. Both had statement wins and several Top Cut placings (over Rhyperior), so many players will likely be testing these Pokemon out.
Durant : Binjie Wang made a statement for all of the slow-building hype around the monster that is Durant. With the Hustle ability, at the cost of accuracy, Durant hits like an absolute truck and can easily overwhelm teams with an early use of Dynamax. Following Wang’s example, players have already begun working on improving the durant archetype, and this Pokemon might be even better by the time the next major event rolls around.
This has been just a brief overview of the very young VGC 2020 metagame, and it’s reasonable to expect many more new Pokemon and strategies break out at future tournaments. Even though a regional Pokedex format may seem restrictive on the surface, the amount of diversity seen so far in the format has been steady. With the explosion in tournament attendance and overall greater interest in the competitive scene, innovation and greater heights are inevitable for VGC 2020.