Sunday, May 29, 2016

VGC Metagame Changes Episode 4: Nationals and stuff

It's time to talk about things that are going on in the current VGC metagame. Some things are getting more popular while others are starting to fad out. Since I'm not the best with intros, let's start with the first change that's going on in the current VGC season since Episode 3 was published.

Cresselia
cresselia
After Alex Gomez won the 2016 UK Nationals in a close game with Ethan Hall, players started to look at his team and see if there's anything they really liked about his team to try on their team and improve it. Alex's Cresselia was a big one that players really enjoyed. Even though Alex ran a Dual Primals team, his Cresselia had a lot of tricks. The use of Icy Wind and Thunder Wave provided Cresselia with effective ways to use multiple forms of speed controls. Icy Wind helped both of his Primals to use their powerful spread moves like Water Spout, Origin Pulse, Eruption, and Precipice Blades to utterly destroy teams with precision. Also, the use of Thunder Wave on his Cresselia allowed it to essentially act like a Thundurus since it could paralyze a threat after it used it move so it could be crippled the subsequent turns while the rest of the team could be take their team out. This was used by Chuppa Cross IV. to get Top 8 at Madison Regionals, which shocked players when facing it since it was so recent after it bursted into the scene.

Thundurus-I
thundurus
While Thundurus hasn't been through some major changes, it has been through changes which will be discussed. When the season started for Thundurus, Thundurus' EVs were 252 Sp. Attack & 252 Speed since bulky Thundurus was deemed unviable. As time went on, Thundurus started to carry a Sitrus Berry and started to invest move into bulk so it can take hits as the metagame got more defensive. Also, in order to be better equipped to handle Primal Groudon, Thundurus started to carry Hidden Power [Water], which can OHKO Primal Groudon with enough investment in the Heavy Rain. While offensive variants are still viable, it'll be up to players to decide which fits best with their team.

Big 6 Variants
kangaskhan-mega salamence-mega groudon-primal xerneas talonflame smeargle + ( thundurus cresselia)
When the format started, the new common team known as the Big 6 emerged, which was a very common & powerful team that has won countless Regionals & Top Cut many more that it both win and didn't win. As the metagame went on however, players have started to realize that while the early meta variant is still strong, some changes were going to be made to be able to keep up. Some big changes were changing a member to something else, like Thundurus and Cresselia would clear up a sixth slot, which would help out other matchups. If Talonflame wasn't on the team, then Salamence would drop Draco Meteor for Tailwind while Smeargle got slower and started to carry Crafty Shield so opposing Smeargle couldn't put your team to sleep. Xerneas got a little slower and bulkier. Primal Groudon stopped being a primarily special attacker and started to be more of a physical attacker. Kangaskhan and Talonflame are still the same sing the beginning of the metagame.

Bronzong
bronzong
Bronzong is a Pokemon that has been through some changes since Alex Gomez got 2nd at Wakefield Regionals then Aaron Zheng won Anaheim Regionals with it alongside both Primal Pokémon. When Bronzong first got popular, the main goal it was doing then is what it's doing now. Bronzong's role in the format, which probably won't change is that Bronzong can use a STAB Gyro Ball to OHKO Xerneas and act as a support Pokémon with Trick Room and Gravity. After it uses Gravity, it can use Hypnosis to put Pokémon to sleep with ease. It also has access to Skill Swap to help both of the Primal Pokémon control weather and not get hit by Groudon's Precipice Blades. Bronzong is commonly seen on Dual Primal teams as it provides an effective answer to Xerneas which can OHKO Xerneas after it uses Geomancy. Even though it isn't common, Bronzong does have access to Safeguard to shield the team from status moves like Thunder Wave, Dark Void, and Spore, which can cripple a team.

Dual Primal
 kyogre-primal
Dual Primal is a core that emerged and has gain popularity since Alex Gomez got 2nd at the Wakefield Regional and Chuppa Cross IV got Top 4 at the Collinsville Regional. The idea of this core is to use both forms of weather with the Harsh Sun and the Heavy Rain to control the battlefield. These are 2 very diverse Pokémon as they can go fast or slow, and everything in between. The tricky part on your opponent's part is figuring out which is which. You may see this core paired with Intimidate users, Gravity setters for Groudon and Kyogre's signature moves, or some nice speed control, which is all set up in a way for Groudon and Kyogre to be the star of the show, though the other 4 members of that team will get their time to shine. Recently, Alex Gomez used it to win UK Nationals, Diana Bros used it to win Madison Regionals and Tom Nishimura used it to win Seattle Regionals, so this core is currently shining and it'll be up to the players going forward to either try and stop its continued success or join in on that success.

YvelDon (Yveltal + Groudon)
 
With the increasing popularity of Dual Primal, since Alex Gomez won UK Nationals and recently, Diana Bros and Tom Nishimura winning Seattle and Madison Regionals respectively. Yveltal came in the picture as it can use a powerful Sucker Punch to do at least 50% to both Primal Pokémon. Yveltal is a very strong Pokémon against the Dual Primal core generally won't have the firepower to handle it on its own, while it can do more damage to both of them before they can KO you. Since Xerneas is the natural enemy of Yveltal, Groudon comes in as a physical powerhouse to use powerful moves like Precipice Blades and Fire Punch to do more damage to Xerneas to Groudon before they do more damage do you. This core is generally strong as it started as an anti-meta core, which Arash Ommati used to win 2016 German Nationals, and Alessio Yuri Boschetto won the 2016 Innsbruck Regionals with this core.

Some changes that are happening, but aren't common of big enough for their own section.

  1. kyogre-primal - Kyogre start to use the Bold Nature to take physical hits better and also have Icy Wind as a form of speed control.
  2.  - Mewtwo has increased in usage as a fast Gravity setter and an offensive threat.
  3.  - Kyurem-White has increased in usage as a Gravity abuser with Blizzard since it gets a lot of important damage when needed.
I hoped you enjoyed this article. If there's anything that you think should be added, let me know in a comment below. Check out my older content if you haven't already. I'll see you next time in a new article. I have a couple in the works that are coming soon so be ready for them. 
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Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Madison Regionals Preview

I'll be writing up a preview article for the upcoming Regional in Madison. I hope to do a good job and will try my best. If you can't make it out to the tournament that weekend, you can watch the stream from home, which will be linked down below. 

Difficulty Rating: 3 types of competing weather / 5 
groudon-primalkyogre-primalrayquaza-mega / 5
Location: 1 John Nolen Dr. Madison, WI 53703  
Registration time: 8am - 9:30am
Last year's winner: Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom) 
Link to the Senior Division Preview Article for all US Spring Regionals: Link
Link to the Official Stream: Link 

Madison will be streamed in the 2nd week of the US Spring Regionals season, which will be happening for both Saturday and Sunday. Players from all across the Midwest will be traveling here, looking to earn CP to get ever closer to a Day 1 Worlds invite, as well as players from other places in the country, which will make it for a very strong tournament. Unlike last year, this tournament will operate with the Swiss rounds being all Best of 3, which will make for more intense matches, eliminating some of the hax and luck brought out by Best of 1 play. I'll be breaking down the attendees by state and the players coming from outside the Midwest.
  
Team Illinois

Team Illinois will most certainly come into this tournament with goals of victory, which I predict will become a thing when Illinois can get at least 2 players in making Top Cut at Midwest Regionals. Alex Underhill (Lexicon) has had a ton of success since his impressive Top 8 finish at US Nationals and his more recent Top 8 finish at the Collinsville Regional. Also earned his first Worlds invite, Alex will be looking to do well here to potentially secure a Day 2 invite. Next up is Mario Serrano (Mario C). Mario is a player that has a good deal of success since 2014, but has flown under the radar in terms of players to watch out for. Since his Day 2 finish at 2014 US Nationals, he got Top 8 at this tournament last year. This season, he managed to Cut the Ft. Wayne Regional and also getting his first Worlds invite as well, he'll be looking to do better than last year. Next up is Stephen Morioka (Stephen). As an older player in the scene with playing even back in 2006, Stephen knows what he's doing. Earning a Worlds invite all the way back in 2012, Stephen knows how to play well at high levels with a Day 2 finish back at 2014 US Nationals, maxing out his Premier Challenge finishes this season, and a Top 8 finish at Collinsville along with Alex, Stephen will be someone to watch out for. Dane Zieman (Agentorangejuliusis another player to watch out for. With a Top 16 finish at Collinsville and another one at Arizona last season, you'll want to take note of this man. He also earned his Worlds invite recently so he'll come into Regional trying to rack up CP before Nationals to get to Day 2. Kamaal Harris (Kamaalis someone to keep track of. I believe he said he'll be attending Kansas City instead, but if he does show up, he be someone to watch out for. Winning St. Louis in 2013, Top 4 at Florida this season and Top 8 at Ft. Wayne are a few of his accomplishments, as well as playing at Worlds for 3 years, he'll be looking to surpass 500 CP with an average finish at whichever Regionals he attends. Brad Warnecke (Darbis a pretty underrated player that has been racking up accomplishments by getting a 1/2/4 record at Illinois and Wisconsin Midseason Showdowns recently. Almost at his Worlds invite at 346 CP, a strong finish will get him a Worlds invite, which if he keeps playing like he normally does, he reach at least 430-500 CP by the end of his US Nationals tournament run. Kyle Begovich (bagofchips99is a player that had real success around this time last season. Last year, he got 9th at Madison and went 6-3 to get Top 64 at US Nationals last year. This season, while he hasn't has to much success this season, if the numbers repeat themselves, Kyle will be doing some cool things at Madison and in Columbus. Nick Sefernak (SefernakVGC) is another player that did well last year at Madison, making Top 8 along with Mario. This season, he's currently at around 300 CP so he'll be looking to run through and gain the CP to get his Worlds invite, which is something he can do. Evan Deligannis (nave), has had some Regionals success, getting Top 16, Top 32, and Top 64 at recent Regionals events and is getting ever so closer to a Worlds invite, which he can do with a strong finish in the future at Madison and replicating his Day 2 finish at US Nationals in 2014. Matt Swanson (Swanner), is a player to watch out for. Even though he is has transitioned to a TO, Matt is still a strong player, going 5-3 at Collinsville. Last year, Matt found success getting Top 8 at Madison last year, so I wouldn't slouch if I'm paired up with him. Even though he isn't in the Chicago area, Leonard Craft III (DaWoblefetis a strong player, getting drafted to the Hearthome Holy Spirits this season and in last season. Also got 17th at US Nationals last season, this tournament is something he'll be looking to do well in. Greyson Garren (GreySong) will be attendance Greyson was a Worlds competitor all the way back in 2011 and was also on the Fuchsia City Ninjas for NPA back in 2013. 


Team Michigan

Team Michigan is certainly no slouch with players. After dominating Ft. Wayne with 3 players in the Top 4, Michigan certainly knows how to pick their players. Andrew Burley (Andykins) is a strong player, getting 2nd at Ft. Wayne, and will be looking to return to Worlds this season like he did last year. Grant Weldon (Velocity) is showing off why you should take him serious, recently earning his Worlds invite by traveling to various Midseason Showdowns to get gain a huge chunk of CP, as well as his recent Regionals success by getting Top 32 at both Collinsville & Ft. Wayne. Sam Schweitzer (Sam) has been doing well recently, getting Top 8 at Kansas City last year, Top 16 at Ft. Wayne, and Top 64 at Madison and Houston last year. Nick Navarre (Nails) is a new player to the scene, but a solid finish at Ft. Wayne means he knows what to do and seeing him do well should be slightly expected. Caitlin Beach (RandomVGC) is a threat to watch out for as her recent accomplishment of joining Andrew in Top 4 at Ft. Wayne. She is also leading Michigian in in terms of CP so watch out if you play her. Kevin Swastek (Kswas) is another strong Michigan player, trailing behind Caitlin in the CP ladder for Michigan. Kevin is competing in the ICPA, where his team did advance to Top 4. He also got Top 16 at Florida so I wouldn't be surprised to see him doing well. Jonathan McMillian is another player attending to keep an eye on. He got Top 4 at Ft. Wayne and on the same ICPA team with Kevin.

Team Indiana

While not the strongest in terms of player count, Indiana players know what to do. The most famous Indiana player, Jon Hu (Jhufself), got Top 4 at 2014 US Nationals, Top 8 at the Illinois Midseason Showdown and Top 32 at the 2015 US Nationals, is known for using wacky things on his team like Lapras, will be looking to lock up is Worlds invite. Chance Alexander (Paragon) is a strong player. Getting Top 32 at 2015 US Nationals, you can expect Chance to come in swinging for another accomplishment to add to that list. Zach Dalton (Oasis) may attend as well, but getting 17th at US Nationals last year means he knows how to handle a Best of 3 match well and doing well he here may not be to difficult for him. 


The Rest of the Best in the Midwest


The rest of the Midwest is strong and will be representing at Madison. Alec Rubin (Amr97) and Andy Himes (Amarillo) might be attending, though I heard Andy will be a judge. Alec made Day 2 Worlds last season while Andy is one of the more seasoned players, so they are both threats to look out for. Another player, Corey Esmeier, might attend. Corey has been getting Top 8 at a couple of Midseason Showdowns near him, so he'll be a player to watch out for. Jake Muller (MajorBowman) is a player I'd bet on to go deep should he attend. Going 9-0 in Swiss at St. Louis last season and attended 2015 Worlds, Jake will be looking to do well. Ashton Cox (Linkyoshimario) will be in attendance. Ashton has qualified for Worlds every year since 2014 and recently got Top 4 at Florida Regionals this year with a Pikachu. Aaron Liebersbach is another player that will be attending from Minnesota. Aaron got 9th at 2015 US Nationals so he'll be a player to watch out for. Franklin Lewis (avos5) is a player from Missouri that you'll want to take notes on. Franklin got Top 4 at Collinsville Regionals not to long ago, so he'll be a face to watch out for. At 314 CP, he's really close to obtaining his Worlds invite, so he'll be on the hunt for that remaining 36 CP he needs to qualify for Worlds.

Out of Region Invaders

Players coming to the Midwest from the East and West coast, as well as down South might attend and will be someone to look out for. Chuppa Cross IV. (Chuppa) is attending. Dominating the New York area tournaments and getting Top 4 at Collinsville, I guarantee to see Chuppa doing well. James Baek (Jamespeed1) will be attending. James got 2nd at Madison last year and attended Worlds in both 2014 and 2015, as well as earning his 2016 invite, so this event will be something he'll strive to achieve the 1st place victory he was close to achieving last year. Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom) is expected to attend. Collin has won this Regional the past 2 years, got 3rd at 2014 Worlds, along with a multitude of other accomplishments on every level of tournament event, so he'll definitely be a threat to lookout for. Jake Skurchak (Pokebeys) is another player to watch out for. Even though he's a year 1 Master, he had success as a Senior by getting Top 4 at 2015 US Nationals and Top 8 at the 2015 World Championships. Jake is already qualified for 2016 Worlds so he'll be a force to be reckon with. Tommy V. Cooleen (Tman) is another New York player traveling to Madison. Tommy is a very strong player, getting Top 4 at Lancaster and Virginia this season, Top 16 at Florida in 2015 and Virginia in 2014, and Top 8 at Massachusetts in 2014, so he'll be hungry for a Finals appearance. Already having locked up his Worlds invite, Tommy will be looking to gain more CP for a Day 2 invite instead of his current Day 1 invite. 



Smart Money Predictions: I'm placing my money with Grant Weldon (Velocity). Grant has been doing really well recently and feel that if he keeps this up, I feel that he'll obtain his 1st Regionals victory. If not, I feel that that the worst he'll do is Top 16. I also feel that Brad Warnecke (Darb) will lock up is Day 1 Worlds invite. Being at 346 CP currently, Brad can easily pass 400 CP and join the other 70 or so players who are qualified for Day 1 Worlds. I'm also hoping that Sam Schweitzer (Sam) will do well, only cause I want to see someone named Sam do well. 

Thanks for reading this and good look to everyone at Madison and in the future. Shout-out to @Sam for helping me with this
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