Top 10 Pokemon from London/San Jose: Number 5 Will Shock You!

Hello Hat Lovers!

The first two major VGC 2017 tournaments have finished over the last two weeks. I’ll be looking at the top 10 Pokemon from these events that I didn’t write about in the last post. The list is not sorted in order of importance.

Golduck

golduckNotable Moves: Hydro Pump, Scald, Ice Beam, Protect

Without Ludicolo and Kingdra in the format we don’t have any good Swift Swimmers. The fact that Golduck is playable shows we’re really scrapping the bottom of the barrel. We’re now in this awkward position where a bad Pokemon like Golduck has made top cut at both major tournaments this format.

I don’t have any real insight to offer on Golduck. As I write this I look at Golduck’s picture and I just can’t take it seriously. I can’t imagine Golduck remaining as a prominent member of the metagame, but I never would’ve imagined it coming this far in the first place. 2017 is the format where pretty much everything feels like it has a chance to work, and Golduck embodies this.

Pelipper

pelipperNotable Moves: Scald, Hurricane, Tailwind, Protect

Pelipper has become the preferred rain setter on aggro-rain teams using Golduck. From my days of using Pelipper in game back in Pokemon Ruby I was under the impression that Pelipper was pretty bulky. Pelipper does have an impressive Defence stat, its HP and Special Defence stat are both mediocre.

Pelipper is one of the few Pokemon in the format with Tailwind. With Focus Sash and Golduck’s offensive pressure Pelipper can usually find time to set up Tailwind and get an attack off before going down. Being able to remove other weather and patching up a team’s Fire weakness also make Pelipper a solid teammate.

Politoed

PolitoedNotable Moves: Scald, Ice Beam, Encore, Perish Song, Protect

Aggro-Rain teams chose Pelipper for Drizzle, Politoed was the choice for more defensive teams. Fire is one of the types that is featured on nearly every team this year which makes Drizzle an appealing option. Torkoal in particular can be obnoxious if you let the sun shine.

Politoed hasn’t been known as a fast Pokemon in the past, but this year Politoed naturally sits above a much higher percentage of the metagame in terms of speed. Encore has been used on Politoed in the past, but this year the range of Pokemon that are slower than Politoed has gone up. Most notably, Politoed is faster than Celesteela, who does not enjoy being locked into a specific move. More surprisingly, Perish Song has become a valuable move even without Shadow Tag. This can be used to force switches from Pokemon like Celesteela or Eevee, or as a win condition when the opponent is down to 2 Pokemon.

Gastrodon

gastrodon-eNotable Moves: Scald, Ice Beam, Sludge Bomb, Toxic, Stockpile, Recover, Protect

With rain teams growing in popularity, Gastrodon has seen a rise to answer them. Similar to how Marowak supports the team with Lightning Rod, Gastrodon supports the team with Storm Drain. Traditionally  Gastrodon was a poor rain counter because Ludicolo could eat it for breakfast. In 2017 there are a myriad of strong Water types in the format and none of them have strong options to deal with Gastrodon.

Gastrodon can gain incredible bulk through Z-Stockpile. In addition to the usual effects of Stockpile the Z-move will fully heal Gastrodon as well. Between Stockpile and Recover Gastrodon can be impossible to KO through brute force if the opponent lacks a Grass move. Toxic hasn’t seen much play in previous VGC formats because it was doesn’t have any immediate impact and is too slow. Thanks to tanks like Gastrodon and Porygon2 Toxic to be a game changer.

Magnezone

magnezoneNotable Moves: Thunderbolt, Flash Cannon, Discharge, Hidden Power, Substitute, Protect

Magnezone is one of those Pokemon I’ve always really liked I used Magnezone a lot of in Gen 4 OU but never in VGC. Magnezone was one of the Pokemon that I thought could be good in 2017. When Kelvin told me that our NPA manager was using Magnezone I copied his team and began testing Magnezone.

I was using a Sturdy Choice Specs set, though Gavin recommended Magnet Pull to trap Celesteela. I figured a slow Choice user with a common 4x weakness would appreciate Sturdy. After testing it I switched to Magnet Pull. When you trap Celesteela you’ll know which slot is switching out for Marowak and can target it appropriately.

Gavin wasn’t the only player to adopt Magnezone. There were a few Magnezone sprinkled throughout London and San Jose. From what I could see most players opted for a more defensive set with Substitute and Protect so Magnezone wouldn’t be as vulnerable.

Salamence

9357d-salamenceNotable Moves: Draco Meteor, Dragon Pulse, Flamethrower, Substitute, Protect

After using Mega Salamence for the past two formats it seemed like such a step back to use regular Salamence. The loss of Tailwind is also felt when trying to use Salamence. Salamence still has Intimidate and solid base stats (it seems silly to say a 600BST Pokemon only has solid base stats, but that 135 attack is wasted).

Without all the options available in 2015/2016 the obvious starting point would be to use 2014 sets. Choice Scarf Salamence is pretty mediocre, almost every team in the format has a trick room option or something like Swift Swim / Surge Surfer to prevent Salamence from taking the speed advantage. Choice Specs seemed to be the most common option in the beginning. By the time London rolled around Z-move Salamence became the standard set.

Using Draco Meteor as the base, Devastating Drake becomes a base 195 power move with no downsides. After using the Z-move Salamence gets a second attack with Draco Meteor before having to switch out. If Salamence gets to Intimidate the opponent’s lead and get a Z-move and a Draco Meteor off it probably pulled its weight in battle. Flamethrower provides coverage against Celesteela, Kartana, Tapu Bulu and Magnezone. The last move is fairly open to whatever you want. Substitute has become popular thanks to Wolfe Glick’s team report.

Goodra

goodraNotable Moves: Dragon Pulse, Draco Meteor, Sludge Bomb, Flamethrower, Ice Beam, Feint

With Assault Vest equipped Goodra can sponge special attacks with ease. Even super effective Z-moves like Salamence’s Devastating Drake will fail to OHKO Goodra. Goodra has a wide range of attacks to hit many common Pokemon for super effective damage.

Sap Sipper is the preferred ability on Goodra. Celesteela and Tapu Bulu can’t touch Goodra without Leech Seed / Wood Hammer. Goodra can shut down Torkoal/Lilligant on its own. Lilligant can touch Goodra and Eruption will barely affect Goodra at all.

Drampa

drampaNotable Moves: Draco Meteor, Dragon Pulse, Hyper Voice, Energy Ball, Flamethrower, Thunderbolt, Protect

I wasn’t too impressed with Drampa at the beginning of the format. It’s slow and has great special attack, making it an ideal Trick Room attacker. There are plenty of great Trick Room sweepers at the moment so it was hard for Drampa to set itself apart from the rest. Drampa’s Berserk ability grants it a +1 special attack boost whenever it drops below 50% HP. With a Sitrus Berry Drampa could feasible get 2 boosts in a game, and with Roost it could theoretically get to +6. There’s even the dream scenario where you have Gigalith and Leftovers and manage to get yourself just above 50% so that you’d get a boost every turn from Sand and then Leftovers heals you above 50%. I won’t say these sets don’t have potential, but they haven’t had much success so far.

Drampa was featured on the team that won San Jose Regionals. This Drampa was Cloud Nine, negating the effects of weather. This was a clever way to deal with Lilligant/Torkoal. Rain teams can’t use their goto strategy for preventing Trick Room, which was to double into Porygon2 with a Z-move. This also lets Drampa OHKO non-Assault Vest Gigalith.

Muk

alolanmukNotable Moves: Poison Jab, Knock Off, Shadow Sneak, Gunk Shot, Curse, Toxic, Minimize, Protect

I didn’t include Muk in my last article, and I probably should have. At the same time, Muk probably should’ve seen more play before London. Muk was actually the third Pokemon I bred, though I never found a team for it. Muk also didn’t see a lot of play early on, preventing me from forming a proper opinion of it.

Muk is blessed with three great abilities. Poison Touch gives Muk’s contact moves a 30% chance to Poison the target. Gluttony lets Muk use berries like Figy Berry as if they were a Sitrus Berry. Being able to heal for 50% when your HP goes below 50% adds a lot of survivability to Muk. Power Of Alchemy lets Muk inherit the Ability of a fallen ally. This can reactivate terrain and weather abilities as well as Intimidate.

Before Sun and Moon were released Kelvin and I theorized that Toxic could be a prominent move in the metagame as a way of dealing with bulky Pokemon like Porygon2 and Gastrodon. Muk is excellent when both sides are relying on bulky Pokemon to grind out a win. Poison types are immune to Toxic and bypass the accuracy check when using the move.

Gigalith

gigalithNotable Moves: Stone Edge, Rock Slide, Earthquake, Heavy Slam, Wide Guard, Protect

Gigalith is another Pokemon I’ve always liked, but was never good enough to use competitively. With Sand Stream available Gigalith can earn a place in the metagame. Gigalith removes other weathers and gives itself a special defence boost with Sand Stream. Gigalith is also one of the slowest Pokemon in the format, making it a pain against opposing Trick Room teams.

Random Thoughts

Team Sheets Matter

We saw multiple day 2 players have to drop a Pokemon from their team because they didn’t match what they wrote on their team sheet. Having experienced the same I know their pain, though this was at a much greater scale than a MSS. A lot players are frustrated by this ruling, as the typos were trivial (Meadow Plate and Miracle Seed are functionally the same item) but consistency in rulings is important.

Hopefully players will learn from this example and we won’t see this being a problem in the future. I didn’t hear about any problems in San Jose so this seems like its been resolved. Its just a shame that Europe’s biggest tournament of the year had to be the testing ground for this.

Substitute Goes With Everything

A minor worry with these posts is that if I exclude a Pokemon/move someone is going to leave a comment like “why didn’t you include this?” and I’ll have to explain that I either didn’t bother including it or underestimated it. I realized after posting the last article that I probably could’ve put Substitute as a viable move for nearly every Pokemon on the list. Its no secret that Substitute has traditionally been a great move, but I don’t think I would’ve recommended it on as many Pokemon in previous formats as I would have in this one.

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