Masters Top Cut Teams
1. Liam Gilbert
2. Jay Tyrrell
3. Daniel Walker
4. Simon Konsti
5. Brian Amedee
6. Richard Buckley
7. Graham Amedee
8. Henry Rich
What To Expect
As New Zealand Regionals approaches tomorrow, and Perth the following week, deciding on whether to switch teams is often a difficult decision. Here, I will analyse not only the metagame trend in Top cut, but the general consensus surrounding teams that had positive finishes.
From the usage statistics, it is clear that Arcanine is the most used Pokémon in the format. However, its common partners such as Tapu Koko and Garchomp have slightly dropped from their usual standing, with Tapu Lele and Kartana replacing them. Both are relatively difficult for Tapu Koko to deal with outside of its Electric Terrain. With Bloom Doom and Scope Lens on Kartana, alongside bulkier Choice Specs or Life Orb Tapu Lele potentially picking up the OHKO on Tapu Koko, leading to its lower usage in Top Cut.
Porygon2 has also severely dropped in usage, much lower than the results seen at PCs before the Australian Intercontinental. The rising Snorlax usage does make any Trick Room reliant Pokémon less effective, with Pokémon such as Araquanid and Gigalith struggling to break through Snorlax’s Curse and Recycle moveset. Due to Snorlax also being a Normal Type Pokémon, there is a clash in typing. Therefore, many players may opt against including both Snorlax and Porygon2 in a team. Porygon2 was seen much more in swiss, with the Tapu Fini team archetype ‘FAKEPG’ featuring Porygon2.
The archetypes used by players in Top Cut vary greatly, with some teams utilising Pokémon which have dropped in usage, most noteworthy is the Pheromosa + Tapu Lele core. This hyper offensive team archetype features two of the hardest hitting Pokémon in the format, and allows for the user to take control of the game from an early point if they can read their opponent correctly. Daniel Walker may have predicted this, using Dual-Ghost Type Pokémon in Marowak and Trevenant. With Pheromosa relying on High Jump Kick, the user must always keep these Ghost Types in mind, and thus a mental game develops. Outside of Top Cut, Pheromosa was far less common, with very few players spoken to reporting that they had played a Pheromosa. Of all Pokémon at Regionals, Pheromosa would have one of the greatest usage to top cut ratios.
On the other hand, Tapu Fini is a defensively orientated Pokémon which relies on team synergy and board position. Arcanine and an abuser of Misty Seed were utilised in these teams, with Simon choosing Metagross as his Steel Type. This Steel Typing is usually present on Tapu Fini teams to aid in dealing with opposing Tapu Lele and Garchomp, both of which can overwhelm Tapu Fini’s slower playstyle. ‘FAKEPG’ was seen commonly throughout Swiss, and occupied a large portion of Top 16 positions. With such high usage, FAKEPG did not perform to levels seen elsewhere, potentially due to Pheromosa threatening switches and removing key Pokémon such as Arcanine early in the game.
As an emerging archetype, Richard Buckley used Tapu Bulu and Nihilego. As a newer archetype, many players may have been inexperienced in the match up. Thus, not knowing the mechanics of the bulkier Grassy Seed Nihilego could potentially be deadly when relying on hitting Nihilego on it’s weaker defensive side. However, Tapu Bulu was very rare outside of Richard’s team, and was not a common Tapu Pokémon throughout the day.
The winning archetype was Driflim + Tapu Lele, a team archetype which came to prevalence a couple months ago. Though seen as outdated by some due to its weakness to Tapu Fini this archetype was used by Liam to take Sydney Regionals. By calling Protects and even attacking Ninetails with Garchomp outside of Tailwind, Liam’s read based playstyle became obvious. Using Tapu Lele’s high Special Attack and offensive Garchomp and Arcanine, he aggressively took control of games and shifted them into his favour early. Although Drifblim + Tapu Lele performed well it much more suited to players who are aggressive and rely on reads. The usage of Drifblim + Tapu Lele was low throughout the tournament, potentially due to the fear of ‘FAKEPG’ being common.
The Call For New Zealand
Recently, I asked players who competed at Sydney, as well as top players, of their opinions on ‘the call.’ Personally, I think Mimikyu + Snorlax is a very strong archetype, as Mimikyu can abuse the hyper offensive nature of Pheromosa teams. On the other hand, Snorlax’s immense bulk can quickly boost it’s Attack safely in front of Tapu Fini and its friends. This provides strong alternatives to deal with both extremes of team building. Balanced Tapu Koko, Arcanine and Garchomp teams, as well as Celesteela, have dropped in usage, and such Mimikyu is usually able to safely set up Trick Room for Snorlax. Of the top cut teams, only Daniel Walker would be able to adequately deal with Snorlax in Trick Room due to Celesteela. Thus, I personally believe that Mimikyu and Snorlax is the strongest archetype in the current metagame.
Matthew B, a retired Adelaide player, responded that ‘Big 6 with Salamence and Groudon’ is the call. Though this is slightly outdated, the concept still holds. As New Zealand is a relatively unknown area, a ‘safe’ proven team may be the best call. Luke C who placed top 4 at the Oceania Internationals mentioned Eevee, and Mitch K mentioned FAKEPG as some of the strongest archetypes in New Zealand. All of these teams has relatively standard archetypes which have been proven to earn results globally and therefore can be played into whatever VGC metagame New Zealand has.
Jay T and Richard B who recently placed 2nd and Top 8 respectively at Sydney Regionals, both agreed that hyper offensive teams including Pheromosa were a good idea. Pheromosa’s speed advantage over the ‘safe’ teams listed above allows for it to quickly take control against many teams, and with its recent success in Sydney it has proven its ability to perform in Australia. Richard referred to his Sydney Regionals Tapu Bulu team as also being a good call, due to the predicted high Tapu Fini usage. With some teams not using a Steel Type Pokemon and Garchomp with Poison Jab dropping in usage, Tapu Bulu may also be a viable call for Regionals.
To all players attending New Zealand Regionals, good luck! I hope this analysis of Sydney results will spark some consideration regarding team choice. It will be very interesting to see whether New Zealand can defend their Regionals this year after allowing an International Player win last year. However, Australia is sending some of our strongest players, so New Zealanders will need to give it their all.
Thanks to Trainer Tower for the Sydney Top 8 Teams.