Pokemon returned to Dreamhack this year with yet another regional championship being held within this prestigious gaming event. Again, there wasn’t any streamed coverage which still puzzles me along with many other members of the community. Still, this event is significant as it was the first 2018 regional over in Europe, giving us valuable insight into what the metagame is looking like across the pond. Let’s see what strategies players in Europe are finding success with in the early 2018 metagame.
Results and Teams (Top 8)
1. Flavio Del Pidio [ITA]
2. Markus Stadter [GER]
3.Maxime Muller [FRA]
4. Alex Gomez [ESP]
5. Nemanja Sandic [GER]
6. Luca Lussignoli [ITA]
7. Ben Kyriakou [GBR]
8. Serkan Tas [GER]
Tyranitar: As expected, Tyranitar was just as big in Leipzig as it was over in Dallas, with four out of the eight teams here looking nearly identical. While Serkan Tas caught on to the Porygon2 plus Tyranitar hype, many stuck with the more standard Tyranitar plus Amoonguss combination with some players choosing to use the Mega Stone on their Tyranitar. While many of these teams using Tyranitar look alike, there is still something to be said about Tyranitar’s versatility in this new metagame. There’s a Dragon Dance set using Mega Tyranitar, a Trick Room sweeper variant with Porygon2 and even just using normal Tyranitar can still be effective. This Pokemon is good (I mean we’ve known that for almost 18 years now), but Tyranitar is cementing itself as a metagame staple early-on.
Mega Kangaskhan: Boy, have the times changed. If this were two, three, even four years ago Mega Kangaskhan would’ve likely had most of these Top Cut placings. In 2018, there was just ONE Kangaskhan player in the combined Top 24 between Leipzig and Dallas. Does this mean Kangaskhan is bad? No. But she’s definitely fallen down a couple pegs since her massive nerf in Pokemon Sun and Moon. I still think Kangaskhan is a Top 5 Mega Evolution in this format, but it might take a couple more tournaments to see her truly shine.
Kartana: Kartana is all the rage now considering its plethora of options thanks to the Move Tutor. As the metagame’s most popular Ultra Beast right now, Kartana is looking like a Pokemon that can be slapped on a number of different archetypes. There are reasons for this being that Kartana a) has excellent coverage combined with its insanely high Attack stat b) has access to a fast Tailwind and c) has Sacred Sword in order to counter the Chansey evasion boost strategy. Anti-gimmick with both offensive and support capabilities? Kartana looks like the complete package.
Mega Metagross: I would say that Mega Metagross and Mega Charizard Y are the most popular Mega Evolutions right now, with Metagross having the better showing in Leipzig as opposed to Dallas’ Charizard-dominated Top Cut. Interestingly, it seems that European players favor partnering Tapu Lele (and apparently Tapu Koko) with Metagross as opposed to the more standard option of Tapu Fini. When you see Metagross and Tapu Lele you immediately think offense as Metagross variants will often forgo coverage options like Stomping Tantrum or Ice Punch in favor of the more powerful, yet risky Zen Headbutt. Aside from that, the rest of the team is basically the same with the only real difference being Psychic Seed over Misty Seed on Zapdos if they’re not running Electrium Z. This is an archetype you should be prepared for, as both Leipzig and Dallas have clearly shown its dominance.
Mega Gengar & Friends: I want to talk about Markus Stadter’s team mainly because I feel like we haven’t touched on the anti-meta tilt machine that is Mega Gengar. This standard team composition has a ton of different modes that all capitalize on Mega Gengar’s Shadow Tag ability which traps both of the opponent’s Pokemon. Mega Gengar and Whimsicott is especially notorious for threatening the infamous Encore+Disable combo or being able to threaten a KO on pretty much anything with a combination of Fake Tears from Whimsicott into a Sludge Bomb or Shadow Ball from Mega Gengar. Tapu Bulu is usually seen on these teams as it is the best Tapu for control-esque teams and it does well to support Stadter’s Heatran. Kommo-o is a Pokemon we didn’t see at all in Dallas, but it seems to be finding itself a home on teams with Mega Gengar. Kommo-o often relies on its signature Z Move, Clangorous Soulblaze, as a means of turning Kommo-o into a threat and Mega Gengar’s trapping ability make it so the opponent cannot switch defensively into this powerful Z move. This is a team composition I would watch out for because I think it’s only a matter of time before this team starts appearing more often.
Mega Gyarados: Hey its the only other Mega Evolution besides Kangaskhan and Rayquaza to win a World Championship in the Masters division. Mega Gyarados is another example of an off-meta Mega Evolution that has some serious potential. What’s interesting here is that Alex Gomez decided to use Mega Gyarados without any sort of redirection support (insert Pachirisu joke here). But seriously, Mega Gyarados is known for its potency as a Dragon Dance sweeper, so it often relies on that redirection to send attacks away from it as it sets up. Well if Tyranitar has shown us anything is that powerful Dark-type attackers are great right now, and Mega Gyarados is a similarly threatening sweeper.
Greninja: While this frog has dominated the single battle metagame it hasn’t had the biggest impact in VGC. While we don’t know Nemanja Sandic’s exact strategy when it comes to Greninja, I can say for certain that there are a lot of options for this Pokemon. With its Protean ability, Greninja can change into pretty much any type which has benefits on both the offensive and defensive side. On the offensive, this gives Greninja the same type attack bonus (STAB) for every single attack which makes its coverage options like Ice Beam, Gunk Shot, Low Kick and even Rock Slide do much more damage. While mainly known for its offense, Greninja has some great support options like Mat Block that acts as a protective barrier for both Pokemon on your side of the field. Greninja is an interesting choice for sure, and I think it has a lot of potential if your team is looking for a sixth member to cover a plethora of weaknesses.
Florges: This is certainly a new one. Well… Not exactly for Ben Kyriakou. Anyone remember Kyriakou’s 2014 World Championship Top 16 team? Kyriakou definitely has experience with this pseudo Grass-type Pokemon, and it looks like he’s brought his old strategy back with a modern twist. The reason I call Florges a pseudo Grass-type is that despite being a Fairy-type, this Pokemon can do a lot to support Grass-type Pokemon. Florges has a rather unique ability called Flower Veil which prevents a Grass-type partner Pokemon from having it stats lowered or being affected by status conditions. So this means Kyriakou’s Kartana can’t be burned, paralyzed or affected by Intimidate while Florges is on the field. While I don’t this this strategy will become a common thing, I am certainly a fan.
Well that just about wraps up our week one regional championship coverage for VGC 2018. We saw a number of different strategies from teams that will define the metagame to others that were just crazy enough to work. This metagame has a ton of potential, and I, like many others, are beyond excited for the Oceania International Championships where all of these amazing strategies will converge in what’s sure to be an amazing tournament. Now if we could only fix the game freeze problem…
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
Featured image from Dreamhack Leipzig’s official site
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