Monday, 1 May 2017

April VGC Report : Part 2

Hey guys today I am back to discuss the other half of my VGC experience in this month, this month quite unexpectedly was a lot of fun regarding VGC because I didn’t had much studies to do so ad also I took some really good notes on this metagame though, without saying more of formal stuff, lets get into this:

Sau Paulo Internationals:
I didn’t catch up the day one stream at all because I had some other work to do, so later I went to watch the uploaded streamed matches and I have to say in quite a while these were some of the most interesting streams to watch for me, especially the last round of swiss that had Kom vs Link was very much hype to watch. Following are the teams that made into the Top cut:
1)      Tapu lele, Pheromosa, Nihilego, Xurkitree, Arcanine, Smeargle.
This is Ian McLaughlin’s team otherwise known as ‘raikoo’ in the community, he brought this team and went undefeated, in quite a while we have seen a triple UB team go so far, especially the choice of smeargle on this team seems very interesting.
2)      Arcanine, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Togedemaru, Gigalith, Porygon 2
This is as standard as a team can get in this format, the cores of AFK and p2 + Giaglith sure do seem to go well together on a team, this team includes togedemaru which is the usual optional slot and surely would provide a lot of support and disruption to this team. This team’s performance also shows the strength of the meta-mons
3)      Buzzwole, Tapu Koko, Golduck, Pelliper, Porygon2, Muk
This is another favorite of mine and yet Tommy Cooleen proves another time that double ducks isn’t out of this metagame yet, combining that with the usual to see, tapu koko and the core of porygon 2 and muk with buzzwole is the way to go for Tman making the third top cut in the international championships with this archetype. This is seemingly a risky move as he did use a very much similar team on his media and it is gaining popularity.
4)      Tapu Koko, Persian, Snorlax , Arcanine, Tapu Fini, Kartana.
This is the team another favorite (and yes there are more that made cut) brought to this tournament, being a very similar team to the one he used in Melbourne as well as in an invitational tournament, he continues toshow his love for the tapu fini + tapu koko archetype combined with the solid AFK core and the Persian + Snorlax core.
5)      Pheromosa, Torkoal, Lilligant, Tapu lele, Mimikyu, Snorlax.
Probably the person I most want to win this tournament is Ashton who brought this team consisting of very strong cores and combinations and I was happy to see him bring the psych up + belly drum strategy to this game in a real tournament.
6)      Tapu Bulu, Arcanine, Salamence, Porygon 2, Muk, Politoed.
This is a team very similar to what Wolfe Glick brought to the London Internationals in the start of the season and finally for all tapu bulu fans out there a team finally made it into cut, also a point tonote here is that this team is piloted by the only native player who made it into the top cut.
7)      Tapu lele, Arcanine, Muk, Porygon 2, Ninetales, Garchomp.
This is also quite a standard team including cores of arcanine + tapu lele and porygon 2 + muk, this shows that these cores were very good in this tournament and in the current metagame so far.
8)      Tapu Koko, Celesteela, Tapu Lele, Arcanine, Garchomp, Snorlax.
Last but not the least a classic celesteela core finally has made it into the top cut of this event, another goodstuffs team that has always been expected to do well in this game proved itself here as well.

Cores and Pokemons Used:
Porygon2 + Muk: 3
AFK: 2
Tapu Lele + Arcanine: 3
Celesteela + Garchomp + Arcanine + Tapu koko: 1
Other than the most used cores mentioned above others used were 2 Pheromosa + Tapu Lele cores as well Mimikyu and Persian + Snorlax cores, only one Porygon 2 + Gigalith cores came into the top cut. Tapu Pokémon Combinations of Tapu Koko + Tapu fini and Tapu Koko + Tapu Lele made it into the cut. Overall arcanine once again was the most used pokemon in this top cut, with quite some being the only ones on their respective teams like Mimikyu, Persian and most noticeably Xurkitree and Smeargle.

Watching the Finals and Results:
Whenever Ashton goes to an event he is my favorite throughout the day I didn’t have much time to watch but I came in at the correct time and watched the full finals. It happened to be Javier vs Ashton to my complete surprise, a lot of my favorites had already been driven out of the cut and I was rooting for ashton. Following is how the games went: in Game 1 ashton missed a play rough and an essential sleep powder which really set him back (the pineapple seemed to fail) and then Javier cleverly used his Arcanine + Muk duo to pick up the game which was a key combination for him to win the match an excellent play made him excel in the match when he predicted the snorlax switchin, in the last turn of game 1 ashton got quite a bit of info as he revealed his z-move on lilligant and found out how much damage it did onto muk as well as got the info that arcanine also held a pinch berry on it. Game 2: was a more balanced team and was in Ashton’s favor a key play from ashton and a unfortunate misplay from Javier was that he switched in his muk which was OHKO’d by ashton’s snorlax, which was a huge leap for ashton to win from where he picked up that game easily. Game 3 started with a balanced side and after a lot of swithins here and there the match overall looked very much close. However ashton got  double crit of on which only the arcanine one mattered from where ashton picked up his muk against his own snorlax. Honestly even it ashton didn’t got the critical hits the match would have come very close, but definitely was a unfortunate event for Javier.
Overall Ashton cox did won with a pineapple so try, basically he tweeted out about it when he got to sau Paulo that someone gave him a Pineapple and said Good Luck, he did got extremely lucky before this on the day 1 stream against Gavin as well as a turn swinged the game entirely onto his favor. And with that he got his first major tournament win, a lot of people have made a reputation out of ashton for nly being lucky and winning because of surprises that he brings but his prediction skills are some of the truly best I this game and after such amazing finishes since he joined the masters divisions made him a deserving winner to the International Championships.

A Better Understanding of the Metagame for me:
So I finally started paying some more attention to the games which I played with my previous marowak team, I really never was able to understand the terms whenever someone says that ‘x tem helped me understand the metagame better’ until when I got to experience it for myself, so when I was playing with that team I took some very important notes on how the metagame and the games in this format were functioning which I think is a huge leap in this format in terms of knowledge atleast for me and will improve my teambuilding by a lot:
·         Most of the games start of with Offensive or Combination Style or even for other defensive teams more conservation and flexible as well as disruptive leads such as tapu koko + arcanine or double intimidate leads respectively. Leads that are present on most teams which I would call as the first phase of the match.
·         The Match enters a second phase in which there are switch outs in terms to preserve some pokemon a game of information as well and it is usually being played conservatively in this phase, in terms of stalling or disrupting terrains, weathers, using support moves to cut down an opponents’ strategy.
·         The Third and The final phase of a match happens to be the stalling aspect, when your opponent brings out their wall such as celesteela or snorlax especially by the time they have eliminated the main threat of your team for that wall and then stall out to win the game, some teams have wall modes that can function well in between the game when the opponent doesn’t have sufficient answers to that mode of their opponents, any common on field wall can be in the form of Tapu fini + Celesteela. For offensive teams or modes this was the time when the preserved pokemon comes out and finishes up the games.
When I think about it these situations were almost a part of every match I played but then getting to take note of this was very much important for me in terms of how I would approach team building. Talking of teambuilding I had the following ideas revolving in my mind after watching the internats streams:

Teambuilding Ideas and notes:
Pinch berries were getting very much annoying in some situations especially after getting to know that araquanid started running the move bug bite I was quite inspired by that aspect of it. So bug bite was somewhat of a starting point for me on this team. Other notes I took were that I must have solid ways to counter when the match is closing up or is in the stalling aspect of the game, this was calling for a defensive team but overall I felt like it would be nice to make a team with a mix of bulk and offense. After testing out again arcanine with bulk and support with araquanid and tapu bulu, I soon realized that I didn’t work well for me. Then I thought of using Silvally + Mimikyu cores and starting building from there, it was quite successful, and the following is the team I used:

The Team:

Silvally @ Life Orb  
Ability: RKS System  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 204 SpA / 44 Spe  
Naughty Nature  
- Explosion  
- Ice Beam  
- Flamethrower  
- Protect

First of all starting with silvally, I would have to say that it was one of those pokemons that was one of my favorite in this generations’ pokemons, however I did fail to use it on any team, after seeing a video of someone using it and reading about how it works alongside mimikyu, I felt like that it could work, this variant is a bit deviated from what is the most common cores around it, that is why I would really very much like to explain it. I started from testing out with scarf but everyone knew the idea they would just go for double protect and once trick room is set they would start of adjust and then attack me, scarf’s damage output was bad as well, that is why I felt like I really needed to break that conception of this pokemon, that is why I gave it life orb to increase damage output as well as give it more moves to use in battle, this could also work when my opponent had a faster pokemon like kartana or garchomp, then I could go for the trick room and attack with my silvally, now explosion’s damage output was enough to get the OHKO’s it was once lacking and overall I really liked how this variant planned, worked as I thought and as I wanted it to on paper. Ev spread is quite simple too I gave it speed to outspeed many and most Tapu Fini builds and maxed out its attack to maximize the explosion damage and then chose the naughty nature to not deduct the special attack too low for it to not pick out enough damage when it really needed to, I decided not to give it –def nature as a lot of arcanine’s still use extreme speed as well as for those some people who have started using vacuum wave kartanas. Rest was dumped into the special attack

Mimikyu @ Mental Herb  
Ability: Disguise  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Atk / 116 Def / 124 SpD / 4 Spe  
Brave Nature  
IVs: 0 Spe  
- Shadow Claw  
- Play Rough  
- Trick Room  
- Psych Up

Moving on the center of the core, is mimikyu, mimikyu is both a supportive member and an aggressor of the core’s strategy, as you do see I have psych up here so naturally a belly drum partner can be thrown its way quick. I recently picked up this mimikyu variant online from a report and I think its one of the best, it lives many very strong attacks and then allows mimikyu to set up the trick room with almost all surety also the mental herb helps a whole lot for the people who think that it now carries a ghostium z which is really falling behind in usage mostly due to drifblim being able to burn it before it can attack. Attack is there to 3hko common mandibuzz which comes in handy as well, I could not have been happier with any other spread on this mimikyu for this team of mine. That is why some tapu lele are a threat as it doesn’t survive some specs or orb variants’ attacks, but I modified this spread by cutting down the attack to ad onto the special defense for it to live a tapu lele’s psychic. Silvally + mimikyu was my most common lead and a lead I really liked because of the way it worked because either your opponents can attack into mimikyu and get the explosion damage or they can double protect and then the trick room goes up.

Hariyama @ Sitrus Berry  
Ability: Guts  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Def / 252 SpD  
Brave Nature  
IVs: 0 Spe  
- Fake Out  
- Close Combat  
- Poison Jab  
- Belly Drum

Upnext is a stranger belly drum variant, when I started out this silvally idea I really needed a belly drum user, most people use snorlax because of its bulk and the loved gluttony ability however I went onto a different path and used hariyama, it may looked terrible, but worked when I was trying out the core, the strategy worked with the lead of silvally + mimikyu lead and then I would have four turns of trick room left, on the fourth turn I can go for belly drum + psych up, hariyama gets 70% of its health back and mimikyu also now sits are +6 attack, from where they will atleast have one turn to attack in the trick room considering the protect, move, protect expected from opponents, which basically means that I get to ko atleast 2 pokemons of my opponents. Now for the main reason that I chose hariyama, really has to be that it could work offensively in more situations where as a defensive pokemon like snorlax would have failed for me, that is what that doesn’t make this belly drum mode very viable but it is great in the games that I do get it off in. hariyama beats some top pokemons like porygon 2 and snorlax as well as gigalith which are basically some of the scariest things to face when you have a trick room core of your own. Also with other pokemons it could work flexibly on this team by providing fake out support. Some times in the late game belly drum also helped out greatly whereas normal hariyama wouldn’t get the chance

Araquanid @ Waterium Z  
Ability: Water Bubble  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def  
Adamant Nature  
IVs: 0 Spe  
- Liquidation  
- Bug Bite  
- Protect  
- Wide Guard

I tried to fit in a core of three pokemons that cover the majority of the metagame, for some time I tried to use my older araquanid + tapu bulu + arcanine as I saw araquanid on the least was getting some use, but then switched the bulu to kartana for good usage and effective reasoning. The team isn’t much strategically complex from this point on, as you do know that araquanid is very good of a pokemon. And then one of the best things were that I got to use the move bug bite once again something that I was quite interested in as it got those pinch berry users very well, it could also be a very good trick room attacker. It was my main counter to muk as well in a team of many physical attackers, a pokemon with burn immunity was quite good. Overall I really liked this pokemon in the back when bringing my main core.

Kartana @ Focus Sash  
Ability: Beast Boost  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  
Jolly Nature  
- Leaf Blade  
- Smart Strike  
- Protect  
- Sacred Sword

Upnext is the replacement of tapu bulu tapu bulu couldn’t work as I had major weaknesses to tapu lele, as well as didn’t have much muk counters, kartana was way more flexible and less situational then tapu bulu. Focus sash was the best item as I did want to keep some coverage as well as more pokemons with protect on this team. It could also take rock type attacks really well for araquanid. Overall katana fit in this team really well forming solid counters to tapu lele and tapu fini as well as many other common pokemons and I overall liked it way more than a tapu bulu which requires a lot of support around it other than giving some to its partners as well. Main goal was to counter all water types which it does very well too. If I put together the things that tapu bulu or kartana allow me to achieve both go very much close to each other but for the purpose of more coverage, metagame comfortability and speed as well as not a terrible matchup against muk made me pick kartana as the slot on my team

Arcanine @ Safety Goggles  
Ability: Intimidate  
Level: 50  
EVs: 244 HP / 44 SpD / 220 Spe  
Timid Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Flamethrower  
- Snarl  
- Morning Sun  
- Will-O-Wisp

I really didn’t knew what to do for this last slot on my team, then I looked that my matchups against kartana and celesteela were bad, sun matchups were increasing and more difficult for me now than ever. That is why I have this somewhat niche arcanine here of this team. Safety goggles is quite an early meta choice for the teams who didn’t have much against this sun duo but now it works well too. It was also then able to counter those few people who has started to use the support of smeargle alongside ultra beasts like xurkitree and pheromosa. Intimidate ability of this pokemon really helped me out in a lot of mimikyu’s calculations, an important one to consider is the tectonic rage survival from whenever my opponent has kokochomp in front of my silvally + mimikyu, that also fills up for the part where silvally can go for parting shot with its usual scarf which is absent on this team. Another niche I noticed was that my arcanine outspeed the usual garchomp which tend to outspeed the 252 neutral speed arcanine where I can go for a will-o-wisp and get them to -3 stages of attack after the intimidate. Hariyama was also helped by arcanine in the late game to set up and sweep with a belly drum boost. Arcanine did make my late game very strong which was something I lacked in my previous teams.

Expected Metagame Changes After Internationals:

Gunk Shot Muk:
A trend that we saw in the internationals was some people trying out a gunk shot muk, the main reason for this is, from atleast what I think is to get ko’s on the variants that some people use that get a 2hko from the normal poison jab, I do realize that gunk shot has lower accuracy, but muk’s main job had become of utility in this format, that is why the trade of a bit of power over accuracy is seemingly fine.

Will-o-Wisp Arcanine:
Some people were also seen using this variant on their physical arcanines, it can always be a good support for when the people find themselves against pokemons like muk or gigalith, making arcanine not ompletely useless, this usually makes the opponents lose their extreme speed or wild charge, but it would be important note to take which ones get replaced.

Return of The Sun:
As we all do know that a sun mode team won the internationals, it is greatly expected to once again dominate the metagame, it was just overlooked but never was that bad of an option to consider. Especially more and more trick room teams have started to appear that do not happen to have ranguru + torkoal but do keep torkoal in them.
Others like Poisonium Z Pheromosa as well as stockpile snorlax may also add to this metagame.


Personally for me it was quite an unexpectedly exciting month regarding VGC, hope u liked going through my thoughts on the things that happened in this month, and liked going through the post overall and it was worth your time, Bye for now. 

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