Saturday, August 27, 2016

Worlds 2016: Analyzing the trends in the Top Cut teams (Juniors)

This is the 1st part of a 3 part mini-series where the goal is to analyze the trends from the Top Cut teams of the 2016 VGC World Championship Teams in the Juniors Division. There are a lot of cool trends that are noticeable in the 8 players who made it into the Top 8 and I thought I talk about it.

Winner: Cory Connor

Link to the teams: http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/worlds/2016/teams/juniors/

Before we start, for reference, I'll add what place the the 8 players used to at least make it to the Top 8.
  1. Cory Connor -  
  2. Shu Harasaki - 
  3. Rikuto Noda - 
  4. Enzo Reci -
  5. Kaisei Ichikawa - 
  6. Corey Yuen - 
  7. Chang Joon Seo - 
  8. Parker Hurley - 
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Kyogre was a pretty prominent threat, as Cory Connor, Shu Harasaki, and Kaisei Ichikawa all used it to get 1st, 2nd, and 5th place respectively. Something that's interesting to note is that Cory's Kyogre ran an interesting moveset with Scald and Icy Wind, where we see Scald mostly on movesets that have Water Spout on it when the player doesn't like Origin Pulse. Icy Wind is interesting as it started to pop up during Spring Regionals where players like Sam Schweitzer used it to get 9th at Seattle with it, which Cory and Kaisei. The other interesting thing to note is that his Kyogre had a Timid nature, which is less common than Modest which Shu and Kaisei used on their Kyogre. This showed that Icy Wind was probably a good idea to use in Juniors as Ice Beam on Kyogre was really present. Shu's Kyogre ran a pretty common set with both Scald and Water Spout as water stab. Ice Beam was his other move, which is standard and not much to talk about.


Groudon was very common in the Top 8 as 6 out of 8 players used it. What's interesting is that the rise of Eruption showed it got much more common as 2 out of 6 people that used Groudon had Eruption and only 1 player ran a fully special attacking set and the other person used a mixed attacking set. The other 4 players ran a fully physical attacking set with Substitute getting more common as 2 out of the 4 players used Substitute and the other 2 used 3 attacking moves, which showed that unlike Kyogre, Groudon can afford to use very different sets. For the natures, 1 Groudon was Adamant, 1 was Modest, 2 used Brave, and 2 used Jolly, which showed that the Adamant and Jolly Groudon were more physical attackers while the Modest and Brave Groudon were more focused on being mixed and special attackers, though 1 of the Brave Groudon was a mixed attackers.


Xerneas is interesting as it hasn't really changed much throughout the format as it has progressed. You can mostly find Xerneas using the combo of Geomancy and the Power Herb item, which allow Xerneas to use the Geomancy to gain 2 stages in its Sp. Attack, Sp. Defense, and Speed each in its stats, but the Power Herb allows the move to skip the 1 turn of waiting for the move to finish. The moves are commonly Dazzling Gleam and Moonblast, which are nice as it allows Xerneas to have 2 stab Fairy type moves, one for a spread move to hit both targets in front of you and Moonblast, which only hits a Pokemon of your choice. You can either find Xerneas using a Modest Nature, which didn't make an appearance, and Timid which all 3 players that at least made the Top 8, decided on using that nature as opposed to Modest.


Rayquaza had a lot of success throughout the World Championships, taking 2/3 of the World Championships team, but this is Juniors where it was used by Cory Connor to win, and Kaisei Ichikawa who finished in the Top 8. Cory's Rayquaza was interesting as it had the move Swords Dance, which can give you 2 stages of increased Attack, allowing to knockout almost anything that would take a neutral attack from Dragon Ascent, meaning it can potentially sweep the stage. Kaisei's Rayquaza was really interesting had it differed from the common build as it held an Assault Vest and had the move Icy Wind and Earth Power, meaning it could control the speed and have a move for common Fire types like Primal Groudon and steel types like Mawile if they pop up.


Kyurem-White is the final Restricted Pokemon and only made 1 appearance, so its pretty apparent that when Baz Anderson popularized it, it made its mark on the Juniors Division as it was able to crack the Top 8. Its moveset is pretty cool as it uses Blizzard which can be a really strong move if it didn't have to deal with that pesky 70% accuracy, but Corey Yuen made sure that wasn't a factor by using the move Gravity on his Cresselia. He also had Ice Beam which could help when Gravity wasn't a viable option and Fusion Flare as an option for Pokemon like Ferrothorn, Bronzong, and Mawile.

Now let's go into the Mega Evolutions that made an appearance at the World Championships on 1 or more teams.

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Kangaskhan is a Mega Evolution that hasn't really changed since it was released back in 2014. Shu Haraski and Enzo Reci Kangaskhan is reminiscent of the common 2014 set with Power-Up Punch to gain 2 stages of increased attack thanks to the Parental Bond ability and then use Return to clean up. He also used Inner Focus, which gained popularity to deal with the prevalence of Fake Out users like opposing Kangaskhan, Raichu, Hitmontop, and Smeargle. Parker Hurley decided to combine both the 2014 and the modern set with both Power-Up Punch and Double-Edge to get the boosts and take advantage of the power.


Salamence has gone through a lot of changes since the 2016 metagame started. The main change can be detailed in Enzo Reci's team, where his Salamanca opted to use Tailwind over Draco Meteor, which can be attributed to the fact that players have decided that the Dragon type coverage in the move wasn't as important, where moves like Tailwind would be more valuable for a 2nd option like Tailwind, since Xerneas could do the job of taking out Dragon types much better with its strong Fairy type attacks. Its pretty cool that Rikuto Noda used a Hasty nature over the popular Naive nature, which is be because the Hasty nature allows Salamence to survive a spread damage Dazzling Gleam from an unboosted Xerneas, which can be helpful since it means before Xerneas uses Geomancy, Salamence can go toe to toe with it until it uses Geomancy.


Mawile only made an appearance on 1 team from Kaisei Ichikawa where his set was pretty standard, but it worked as he made the Top 8. The moves of Iron Head, Sucker Punch, and Play Rough allowed Kaisei to have some great move coverage to hit some big meta threats like Xerneas and Yveltal for big damage with Iron Head and Play Rough respectively, which made Mawile much bigger of an instrumental piece in his success.

Now let's go into the non-Restricted Pokemon that made an appearance at the World Championships on 1 or more teams.

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Togekiss was only used on Cory Connor's team, but it was able to win the World Championships. His set was very cool as it was able to use the combination of Air Slash + Serene Grace for a 60% chance to flinch the opponent every turn its used. It also had Follow Me for redirection to help out the rest of his team. It also had Tailwind for some nice speed control so it can help out his team get some attacks off before the opponent generally had a chance to really do something. His final move was Safeguard, which can be a surprise as he could block all status ailments like burn, sleep, and paralysis, but also gave his Togekiss a Lum Berry so he can accurately use Tailwind.


Thundurus was only used by Cory Connor to take the tournament and Parker Hurley to finish in the Top 8, Cory Connor was interesting as it had a Chesto Berry to block sleep while Togekiss held the Lum Berry. He also had the Hidden Power [Water] so it can knock out opposing Groudon. The rest of his set was standard with Thunderbolt for damage, Thunder Wave for speed control, and Taunt to stop status moves. Parker's Thundurus is very similar but he didn't have Hidden Power and the Chesto Berry item, but Protect and a Focus Sash, which meant that the offensive Thundurus was a better call for the Juniors metagame.


Scizor only made an appearance with Cory Connor, but his set was pretty standard shows off why Scizor is such a good Pokemon. The combination of Bullet Punch and Bug Bite combined with its Technician ability and that Life Orb and that Adamant Nature allows Scizor to do some major damage when it hits for super effective damage. It also had Swords Dance so it gain 2 stages of increased attack and do even more damage, which made it a bigger threat.


Hitmontop was a Pokemon that wasn't really present in this metagame, where it really didn't exist until the World Championships where it won in both Juniors and Masters. Cory's Hitmontop had both Fake Out and Feint so it could flinch the target then break a Protect if it feels that's the best idea. It also had Close Combat as its main damage move which is good against Kangaskhan, and had Wide Guard, which was good for blocking all the prevalent spread moves like Origin Pulse, Water Spout, Eruption, Precipice Blades, and Dazzling Gleam, which can be really helpful for gaining momentum. His item of choice was Rocky Helmet, which if they go for a physical move, then it can get some chip damage. He also had Intimidate, which is always nice.


Shu's Cresselia was pretty cool. He had Ice Beam for damage which is nice for hitting Salamence and also having a damaging move makes Cresselia not full Taunt bait. He also had Helping Hand to boost attacks, Skill Swap to control the weather and also taking away a Pokemon's ability that they might really need and Trick Room for speed control. Corey's Cresselia is not that different from the one used by Shu, but it did have Gravity instead of Helping Hand because he had a Kyurem-White that had Blizzard so it would've been helpful to have and he gave his Cresselia a Mental Herb instead of a Sitrus Berry to block a potential Taunt that might come his way.


Shu had probably one of the coolest Whimsicott because he had 2 forms of speed control that worked for his team. He had both Tailwind and Trick Room, which was great as you can either speed up your Pokemon with Tailwind or take advantage of their slowness with Trick Room. He also had Safeguard to block status moves and Moonblast so it wasn't full Taunt bait.


Shu's Ferrothorn was pretty cool as it had the move Worry Seed, which is a move that replaces the target's current move with Insomnia, which can be great to get weird of the Primal weather to help out his team. He also had Gyro Ball and Power Whip for stab moves and the Lum Berry to block sleep.


Talonflame was a Pokemon that was big in 2014, almost gone in 2015, and back in the spotlight in 2016. Rikuto Noda's Talonflame had Brave Bird as his offensive move, but had an interesting move in Taunt, which is pretty cool for mainly Taunting Smeargle and stopping Dark Void. He also had Quick Guard to block priority moves and Tailwind for speed control. Enzo Reci's Talonflame was very similar, but he had Flare Blitz and Protect over Quick Guard and Taunt. Corey Yuen's Talonflame was pretty standard, but he gave his Talonflame and Lum Berry to block status ailments like sleep and paralysis.


Smeargle was a pretty threatening Pokemon that was a big threat throughout the season. Rikuto's Smeargle resembles the early metagame Smeargle where it had a Timid Nature, the Focus Sash item and the Moody ability, which is makes Smeargle a faster Pokemon to use Dark Void right away. He also taught his Smeargle Crafty Shield to block all non damaging moves, Wide Guard to block spread moves, and Follow Me for redirection. Enzo's Smeargle is very similar, but he had Fake Out and Spiky Shield for a flinching move and a move to act as a Protect. Chang's Smeargle acts as the way Rikuto and Enzo decided to use their Smeargle. Kaisei's Smeargle was very cool as it held a Choice Scarf and knew the move Transform so it can use a fast Dark Void and then use Transform to potentially turn into a powerful Pokemon for a powerful threat. He also had Quck Guard to block priority moves.


Raichu was used by Kaisei but was very cool. He taught it Nuzzle for speed control and have a small way to damage something and then paralyze them. He also had Feint to break a potential Protect move and even Wide Guard or Quick Guard. He also had Encore, which is cool to lock them into a move that could benefit Kaisei and Fake Out for a guaranteed flinching move. His ability was Lightning Rod to redirect all electric type moves and gave his Raichu a Focus Sash to guarantee itself to survive any attack that hits only once.

I hoped you enjoyed this. Part 2 will come out as soon as possible when we'll talk about the Top Cut teams in the Senior Division and that'll be fun. See you then and check out my older content if you haven't and I'll see you next time. Bye.