The Shaping of a Meta
The competitive Pokémon meta in the VGC format changes from season to season. The VGC 17 season has seen its meta develop at a breakneck pace. After last year’s rules allowing restricted Pokémon to compete, this year’s lower power-curve has resulted in many changes to the variety in the metagame and strategies teams are employing.
Many components come together to form the VGC meta. With the most important being how the Pokémon on trainer’s teams work together to beat their opponents. Things like covering each others weaknesses or setting up a gimmick are examples of this. Trainers build their teams with these factors in mind in order to overcome many of the challenges they will face.
Empowerment Through Terrain and Weather
Since its rise in popularity in gen five, weather has had the propensity to be a dominate force. Rain especially has been strong in the Pokémon VGC meta. This season, however, terrains have been introduced as somewhat of a compliment to weather. When a Tapu comes onto the field, their ability creates a terrain effect, much like weather. These terrains create different benefits. From rendering status effects ineffective, to increasing the damage grass type moves do, terrains along with weather can truly shape a match.
Terrains are extremely popular at the moment due to the strength of Tapus, and appears on almost every team. Where as weather is seeing popular use with a few popular teams.
Torkoal + Liligant
Torkoal provides Sun weather when he comes onto the field. Sun both boosts Torkoal’s fire attacks, but also provides Liligant with a speed boost. This allows Liligant to set up sleep and provide Torkoal with an opportunity to sleep.
Tokoal + Liligant saw a quick rise in popularity in the beginning of the season, but since has become more of a sleeper. However, it is extremely dangerous if you are unprepared for it.
Pelipper + Golduck
Pelipper sets Rain when he enters the field, and provides a sharp boost in speed to Golduck. Golduck will then attempt to use the boost in power from rain to sweep the opposing team. Much like the Torkoal team, this strategy can be strong, but easily dismantled.
Speed Control is So 2016
Speed control has always been an extremely important part of any VGC season. In the early days of VGC 17, however, tools such as Tailwind and Thunder Wave become less popular. Trick Room is the de facto form of speed control for VGC 17. While Tailwind still makes an appearance, Thunder Wave’s popularity has plummeted with a nerf to its accuracy.
There are a few popular Trick Room users, but one is solely responsible for its shear popularity this season.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP / 92 Def / 164 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Trick Room
– Tri Attack
– Ice Beam
On top of having Trick Room, Porygon2 has an extremely diverse move-pool. It also benefits from holding an Eviolite, granting it tremendous bulk. Combined with the fact gen seven introduced many slow and bulky Pokémon, and Cresselia is not allowed in VGC 17, Porygon2 has found itself right at home.
Pelipper @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
Pelipper finds itself as the most popular Tailwind user this year, receiving buffs to both its stats and ability. Now with the ability Drizzle, Pelipper can summon Rain as it enters the field. Rain will serve to both boost Pelipper’s own STAB Scald, as well as grant Hurricane 100% accuracy. This gives Pelipper a lot of offensive potential, on top of Tailwind and Rain utility.
How About Some Goodstuff?
Goodstuff is a term coined in Pokémon VGC for Pokémon and teams of Pokémon who are individually strong and well rounded. VGC 17 is no different.
Tapu Koko @ Life Orb/Focus Sash/Fairium Z/Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Dazzling Gleam
Tapu Koko creates Electric Terrain when it enters the field. This prevents sleep, along with boosting the power of electric type attacks. Combining this boost of electric damage with Tapu Koko’s already impressive offensive stats results in quite the monster.
Celesteela @ Leftovers
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 180 HP / 180 Atk / 148 SpD
– Heavy Slam
– Leech Seed
– Wide Guard/Protect
A master of stall, and a great defensive pivot, Celesteela has a fantastic steel/flying typing. When Celeteela enters the field, prepare for a long drawn out conflict, unless you have an answer prepared immediately.
Muk-Alola @ Figy Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 44 Atk / 108 Def / 100 SpD / 4 Spe
– Poison Jab
– Knock Off
– Curse/Shadow Sneak/Imprison
Muk-Alola not only provides impressive stats and good move-pool, but its typing leaves it with only a single weakness to ground. Muk also acts as a fantastic counter to all of the Tapu Pokémon.
Snorlax @ Figy Berry
EVs: 68 HP / 196 Atk / 244 Def
IVs: 0 Spe
– High Horsepower
Snorlax provides a neutral powerhouse that can be a force to be reckoned with. Generally running the Curse set and lots of bulk, Snorlax will mow down teams and counter Trick Room in a pinch.
All of these Pokémon have one thing in common. They are all extremely deadly in almost any setting without any work needed. When building for VGC 17, it is important to supplement your core to counter as many Goodstuff Pokémon as possible. While no true Goodstuffs team has solidified for VGC 17, there are many Pokémon who fit the mold.
Gimmicks Can Be Silly, But They Are Dangerous
VGC 17 has brought with it a host of gimmicks. Two, however, are seeing use at some of the highest levels of play.
Eevee @ Eevium Z
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Last Resort
– Baton Pass
– Helping Hand
You will normally find Eevee alongside Pokémon like Clefairy or Smeargle for Follow Me support. While holding an Eevium Z item, Eevee is able to use an exclusive move called Extreme Evoboost which doubles all of its stats. Eevee then attempts to use Baton Pass to pass the stat increases to a sweeper such as Tapu Lele or Espeon.
Porygon-Z @ Normalium Z
EVs: 20 HP / 28 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Shadow Ball/Thunderbolt/Ice Beam
– Tri Attack/Shadow Ball/Thunderbolt/Ice Beam
Porygon-Z now gains access to Z-Conversion while holding the item Normalium Z. Z-Conversion both boosts all of Porygon-Z’s stats by one stage, as well as change its type to match that of the move in its first slot. This turns Porygon-Z into quite a formidable enemy, and must be accounted for.
In VGC 17 AFK Will Put You Away
One core has risen to the top so far during the course of VGC 17. AFK, standing for Arcanine, Fini, and Kartana. These three Pokémon comprise a fairly traditional fire/water/grass core. However, these three bring some seriously deadly synergy.
Arcanine @ Iapapa Berry/Sitrus Berry
EVs: 84 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
– Extreme Speed
– Flare Blitz
– Snarl/Wild Charge/Will-O-Wisp
Arcanine is a proverbial swiss army knife of a Pokémon. It can be run fast or bulky, with a focus on offense or support. Bringing Intimidate to the field to weaken the opposing Pokémon’s physical attack also allows Arcanine to immediately apply pressure.
Tapu Fini @ Leftovers
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 44 Def / 196 SpA / 4 SpD / 12 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Calm Mind
Tapu Fini’s ability to support its teammates is without question. Its Misty Terrain prevents status effects from taking place. While Tapu Fini’s bulk and boosting ability make it a powerful force on the field if it is able to set up.
Kartana @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Smart Strike
– Leaf Blade
– Sacred Sword
Then there is Kartana. Kartana brings a grass/steel typing and high offenses and speed. When Kartana is on the field it has one objective: apply as much offensive pressure as possible and rack up the KOs.
This is Only Just the Beginning
VGC 17 is only just getting started. What we see now could quite possibly be totally different from the most popular teams in two months. This is one of the things that makes Pokémon VGC so exciting. Who will be the key player in the World Championship is anyone’s guess, let’s find out together.
All images courtesy of Game Freak
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