VGC 2014 Retrospective

Hello Hat Lovers!

With ORAS coming out this week we’ll be saying goodbye to the VGC 2014 format as we knew it. Move tutors from ORAS will available for use in the current format, meaning we’ll have a slightly modified metagame for the rest of the year. On that note We’d like to take a look back on the 2014 format and reflect upon the last year.

History as Players:

VGC 2014 is the first format that Mark and I took seriously. Mark tried to get me into VGC 2011, but I hated almost all of the Generation Five Pokemon so I never got into it. I played a bit of VGC 2012 on Showdown, and used an Action Replay to make a team to use at a local event. In 2013 I went to Oregon Regionals for TCG and ended up playing VGC on the second day using a clone of  Mark’s team. I expected to go 4-3 and have some fun spamming double Blizzard. Instead I used Heracross & Togekiss all day and made top 8. Mark went to BC Regionals and made top 8 as well.

Because Worlds was in Vancouver in 2013 Mark and I were able to justify going without an invite. We played in some side events and watched the top cut matches. This event got us excited to play VGC competitively for the first time. We played around online, trying out stuff like Liepard/Machamp and Liepard/Starmie.

Season in Review:

We both went to Oregon Regionals in January and both failed to make Top Cut with a Safeguard/Swagger team. We both made T32 so we got 30 points for it that would matter later on.

After Oregon Regionals I started using Mega Charizard Y on my teams which lead the team I used in the next Regionals

I made the trip out to Washington alone and got 4th place with Charizard & Venusaur. This team honestly doesn’t look like anything special in retrospect but I was one of the early adopters of Mega Venusaur and the metagame wasn’t ready for it. With this I had 120 points and earned a travel stipend, making the decision to go to Nationals justifiable.

After this point Mark and I started using teams built around Mega Venusaur. We used these at the Premiere Challenges in Vancouver as well as the May International Challenge where we saw modest success with it. By the time the June International Challenge came around I wasn’t feeling good about Mega Venusaur and started trying out other teams to use while Mark lacked the time to practice and kept moving forward with what he knew.

At some point I decided to build the most generic rain team possible. I started with Politoed and Ludicolo of course, then added Kangaskhan because I didn’t have a Mega and Kangaskhan was the best Mega. I added Hydreigon because I had answers to Garchomp and Salamence which left Hydreigon free to lay waste to bulky Pokemon like Rotom and Mawile. I added Talonflame because my time with Venusaur taught me that rain needs every Venusaur counter it can get. For the final slot I put Aegislash on because I wanted more defensive options. I ended up using this team at Nationals, getting knocked out by Alex Ogloza who was running the same team but with different spreads. I told him he had to win the tournament to make up for eliminating me and he took those words to heart.

Mark chose 6 Pokemon he liked using from his box while in the registration line and used those.

Mark’s comment: Honestly… that’s pretty accurate. Prague was awesome though.

We both ended with a disappointing 5-4 record, but after that we got to enjoy ourselves for the rest of the weekend. We watched our super-Junior Theo Young make T4 and win himself a new 3DS XL.

The 2014 season effectively ended for us here, but the format is still being used for the start of the 2015 season and we’ve gotten off to a strong start at Premiere Challenges.

Thoughts on the 2014 Format:

Going into XY, we were wowed with all the positive additions to the game. Thanks to the new breeding mechanics we could breed perfect Pokemon in a short amount of time, meaning Max could breed legitimate Pokemon instead of punching in 20 line Action Replay codes. Battle mechanic changes like giving Electric types an immunity to paralysis and Grass types an immunity to powder moves were also welcome inclusions.

We were pretty happy with the 2014 ruleset when it was announced. The blue pentagon rule meant that we wouldn’t have to hunt for Shards to use the move tutors or replay the entire series to get a move from Generation 3. The Kalos Pokedex restriction eliminated almost all the legendaries, meaning we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time soft-reseting in pursuit of a good Cresselia or Thundurus.

This format wasn’t without problems. Mega Kangaskhan was incredibly overpowered, there was a lack of speed control, Dark Void should never have existed.

I never really figured out how to deal with Will-O-Wisp and Intimidate. We used Safeguard Meowstic early in the season. After that all of our teams have favoured special attackers (with the lone exception being Mark’s Premiere Challenge team which had Gothitelle to prevent repeated Intimidates).

Mark’s confession: For most of the season, I never really dealt with Mega Kangaskhan properly. I just spammed Intimidate and 2HKO’d it instead of putting WoW on my teams or a straight counter like Lucario. Most people were scared of Staraptor’s Close Combat but they really shouldn’t have been…

Overall, we’ve enjoyed VGC 2014 more than any other format. That is mostly because we played very little of the previous formats so the flaws of the 2014 format weren’t as apparent to us.

Mark’s comment: In 2011, I played one match at Seattle Regionals (losing handily) the whole season, so I can’t say I was serious then. But I’ve played VGC in the background since 2011, and had used Trick Room, Thunder Wave and Tailwind throughout 2011-2013. The lack of speed control this format was pretty apparent. This format was also really missing a solid bulky support Pokemon, best emphasized by Alex Ogloza’s 1st place US Nats team not even running Protect. This was a format where you just hit as hard as you could because nothing could really take a hit all too well.

Favourite Pokemon in VGC 2014:

Here we pay our respects to the Pokemon we’ve enjoyed using the most during the season.

Shared: Charizard, Venusaur, Rotom-H, Salamence, Garchomp, Ludicolo

Charizard has been on every team that we’ve done well with this season. We’ve each used different mega forms but its still N006 in the Pokedex. While Charizard has been putting in work in the Premiere Challenges it used to be overshadowed by another favourite.

Between Washington Regionals and US Nationals both me and Mark had been on the Mega Venusaur hype train. It all started when I put a Mega Stone on Venusaur because I couldn’t think of another item to give it. Since then it has been walling the opposition with it’s massive bulk as well as causing the resistance to lose to the spies many a time. #VenusaurBros

Rotom-H has been on many of our teams/drafts, as we haven’t been fond of Talonflame, and Charizard can’t go on every team (maybe that line of thinking was our mistake). Rotom-H brings a ton of resistances to the table and gives us a Fire attack to prevent the opponent from winning the endgame with an Aegislash or Ferrothorn.

Garchomp & Salamence have put in a lot of time on our teams during the season.

Ludicolo has recently danced it’s way into our hearts. Ever since the increased popularity of rain and the decline in Mega Kangaskhan Ludicolo has been very appealing as a team member. Ludicolo has a ton of special bulk to take advantage of all the special attackers trying to get around Will-O-Wisp and Intimidate. Ludicolo also has great coverage against the metagame and makes a great check to rain teams.

Max: Raichu, Zapdos, Mamoswine, Aegislash, Gengar

After US Nationals I started using Tony-style Perish Trap on Showdown with Raichu. As I continued to play with the team I started leaning away from Perish Trap and more on set-up sweepers. There was a short period of time on Showdown when the Metagame was really weak to Raichu/Gyarados, I don’t know why because it’s a really weak combo IMO but it was working well for a while. I tried all sorts of partners for Raichu before settling on Charizard and eventually reaching the team I have now. Without Raichu I don’t even know how I’d approach team-building right now, it is my Togekiss this year.

Zapdos & Mamoswine are here for their recent contributions to my teams. Scrubchu wouldn’t work without these two and I’m grateful for their service.

Aegislash is something I always put on teams when I don’t know what I want or need something that can switch in on everything. Without Aegislash none of my teams would have the defensive potential they do. Walling the two best Mega Evolutions in the format, Kangaskhan and Mawile, has also been appreciated.

Gengar deserves a mention because without it I might not’ve found a team I like as much as my current one. It has also been fun with Raichu on Showdown, allowed for a viable team using Umbreon to exist and won me a Premiere Challenge. So thank you Gengar, you’ve been a pal.

Mark: Staraptor, Gyarados, Gothitelle, Mawile

Staraptor is just too cool. Which makes me really sad that one of its best uses was to kamikaze into a Rotom, Garchomp, Charizard, and Mawile when you made “the plays.” But spamming Intimidate with U-turn (or just switching in and out) was appreciated. Gyarados, you spammed Intimidate too, but eventually I grew to love the Imouto Island Gyarados spread. My Gyarados problems were later solved by adding a Life Orb. I still ran a support Gyarados, and the Life Orb recoil didn’t matter unless I attacked with it. Most of the time I was launching Thunder Waves and Taunts, so Life Orb was really just to pick up extra damage with Waterfall after I’d crippled their team. Gothitelle/Mawile was a combo I picked up from Sejun’s winning team. I won a Premier Challenge with it, and then Cybertron won Philly Regionals with his team (which in retrospect was very similar to what I’d settled on). Goth/Mawile really closed out VGC 2014 for me with a combo I could enjoy.

Conclusion:

We’ll be saying goodbye to the 2014 format as we know it soon, and next year we’ll say goodbye to it completely. While a lot of players are saying good riddance to VGC 2014, we look back on what was the best format we played seriously in. Judging from what we’ve recently seen from ORAS, the next format with be National Dex + Pentagon, meaning all the problems people have had with the current format should be gone while retaining all the positive changes X&Y brought to the table. And that’s something to look forward to.

Cheers,

The VGC with Hats team

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