If you thought the Collinsville Regional Championships featured some unique teams and strategies, the results from the Cannes Special Event will surprise you even more. Sure Cannes had a few prominent team archetypes reach the Top Cut, but it was the more creative teams that dominated and won the event.
The Winning Team
Forest Aurelien is your Cannes Special Event Champion, and it’s his team that most of the scene has had their eyes on.
This team featured the restricted Pokemon combination of Groudon and Kyogre, two Pokemon that have been duking it on opposite sides for all of VGC 2019 so far. These two are no strangers to being on the same team, as back in 2016 they composed the popular “Dual Primal” archetype when they both could revert back to their powerful Primal forms. In 2019 however, the weather duo will have to wait until Ultra Series to regain access to the Red and Blue Orbs, and not many players have effectively paired the two in the Sun and Moon series thus far. Interestingly, Aurelien chose to include both Ludicolo and Venusaur whose abilities, Swift Swim and Chlorophyll respectively, take advantage of the weather summoned by either Groudon or Kyogre. Perhaps Aurelien’s team had two different weather modes to handle certain matchups, with the team’s more interesting pair ready to win in the back.
The team’s main attraction is the terrifying combination of Ditto and Shedinja. These two Pokemon are the epitome of “anti-meta” as both of these Pokemon fill a very specific niche. Shedinja’s infamous gimmick is its ability Wonder Guard which prevents any damage to it other than super effective attacks, weather conditions or status ailments. We’ve seen Shedinja succeed in this metagame due to its weaknesses usually not being present on more than one Pokemon on the typical VGC 2019 team. Once these weaknesses are eliminated, Shedinja can literally just sit on the field and win the game by itself. It may only have one HP, but it is able to survive two attacks thanks to the Focus Sash item. Curious how this Pokemon managed to win an event having to go up against teams with Yveltal, Incineroar, Ho-Oh, etc.
Ditto is a bit more straightforward as its main job is to use the opponent’s strategies against them. By transforming into an opponent’s Pokemon, Ditto can easily copy a Geomancy-boosted Xerneas or any other troublesome Pokemon which now the opponent has to deal with. Ditto can carry a bunch of different items, but one of the most common is Choice Scarf which guarantees Ditto out-speeds any of its opponents now with the copied Pokemon’s stats.
This team is weird, but it managed to overcome some stiff competition and take out one of the best teams in the 2019 metagame. Could it be possible that some players would try to emulate Aurelien’s success or will his team be a passing gimmick that just happened to make it big? I’m eager to find out.
Jamie Boyt Is Back to His Old Tricks
Now the one player that should have a weird team in a European event is none other than Jamie Boyt. Boyt is well known for his effective use of weird Pokemon, and this team feels like it came straight from his mind.
Prior to this tournament, Boyt took a page out of Wolfe Glick’s book by creating his own tournament preparation video series which he is currently uploading to his YouTube channel. From what we know so far, Kommo-o carries the team’s Z Move, Excadrill held the Choice Band item, Serperior had Wide Lens and Salazzle was an offensive support. Excadrill is an interesting choice considering the absence of Sand teams in VGC 2019, but this Excadrill is all about dealing damage to troublesome Pokemon like Incineroar and Xerneas (which it does quite well with Choice Band).
Serperior is another notable member and it seems to fit on this team as a Kyogre check. Serperior can become a terrifying threat thanks to the combination of Leaf Storm and the Contrary ability, but it also has some nifty support moves up its sleeve such as Glare and Taunt. Kommo-o is back to its old ways with its signature Z Move boosting all of its stats, but on this team its job seems to be fending off opposing Stakataka with its Fighting-type moves and serve as a switch in to some of the metagames most prominent -ball, -bomb and -blast moves with the ability Bulletproof. Finally we have Salazzle which works well as a niche offensive support with the excellent offensive combination of Fire and Poison-type attacks. Its support potential is great too as it has access to the annoying Fake Out and Encore.
After his resolution to make 2019 his year, Jamie Boyt has come back in a big way, and what’s even better about this result is that he did it with a team that is totally him. It’ll be exciting to see what he comes up with for his next major event. For now, I highly recommend his video series in which you can see for yourself how this team came together.
Other Metagame Highlights
Malamar: Like Serperior, Malamar also makes excellent use of the Contrary ability but with the move Superpower instead. Other than its ability to beef up its stats, Malamar also has access to Trick Room which potentially could’ve helped out Ricardo Appamea’s Groudon if it was built to be slower.
Raichu: Raichu is known to be a great support Pokemon in formats that allow restricted Pokemon (see the 2016 World Championships). Raichu appeared twice in Cannes’ Top Cut on two identical teams that featured the restricted combination of Kyogre and Ho-Oh. Both of these Pokemon are weak to Electric-type attacks, which is precisely where Raichu comes in with its Lightningrod ability which redirects and absorbs Electric attacks. Raichu and Kyogre make a pretty great team especially in a metagame where Tapu Koko is running around, and I’m anticipating Raichu’s usage to keep rising in the coming months.
Ho-Oh: This restricted Pokemon is nothing too crazy, but it had a pretty good weekend in both Cannes and Collinsville. With the continuing dominance of Pokemon like Xerneas and the many Grass-types in VGC 2019, Ho-Oh seems like a strong choice to go against the meta. Of course, Ho-Oh can have very bi-polar results depending on the game, as it has the ability to win on its own but also do absolutely nothing. We’ll just have to see if the Ho-Oh hype train continues.
We have just one month remaining in VGC 2019’s Moon Series and I think by this point we’ve seen it all. The weekend of Cannes and Collinsville produced some of the most wacky results we’ve seen all season, and it begs the question of how the metagame will respond. There are still some big events remaining in Moon Series, and we’ll just have to wait and see if these results have any significant impact on how players approach the final stretch of the Moon Series metagame.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
Featured Image from PokeStats_TCG on Twitter