Preparing For Worlds: A Metagame Analysis

vgc16
 

Hello there! My name is Bailey, though you’d probably know me as Bargens. Recently there hasn’t been too much going around regarding the metagame at Worlds and after having a relatively positive response last year I decided I’d try and give my insight into how I think Worlds will be this year. I’m going to be basing my opinions off of a few things: usage stats from Nationals globally, general trends in the metagame up until this point in time, what I’ve gathered from communicating to those who will be attending Worlds, and what I personally believe players will be leaning towards in general here. I’ll be backing up all my opinions with evidence, or at least a justification as to why I think certain Pokémon and archetypes may be successful, but remember this is all my opinion, so I may completely wrong, but I’d like to think that I somewhat know which direction the format is heading in.

To keep this as structured as possible, I’m going to be splitting it into what is solely based off of usage and statistics, which will be split into regions, followed by my own personal opinion and the opinions of those I’ve spoken to. As for each region’s usage stats I’ll also explain why I think the usage is a good indication of what will be used at Worlds, or if I think these players due to circumstance are more likely to change teams or even archetypes completely.

Usage Statistics

United States

Usage by Paid Invite recipients:

  • P-Groudon + P-Kyogre: 1
  • P-Groudon + Xerneas: 5
  • P-Groudon + Dialga: 1
  • P-Groudon + Mewtwo: 1

I’m going to begin with the US here, as it’s the location of Worlds and its metagame will probably be a very large influence when it comes to team building for those internationally.

The most apparent archetype here is obviously Xerneas Groudon (XernDon) or Groudon in general, and given the insanely consistent results here, competitors may choose to follow suit, which seemed to be a common occurrence in the US across Regionals and in the lead up to Nationals. Due to this it’s fair to say that XernDon or Primal Groudon in general will be leading the charge, given the ratio of US players to international players at the event, and the 5 out of 8 players who have already made Day 2 piloting this very common core.

Other notes that have come out from the US Nationals are the two Venusaur who appeared in the top 16, as well as the overall growth in Bronzong. Venusaur hasn’t seen too much usage, but given the fairly centralised Mega Pokémon usage (being primarily Kangaskhan and Salamence), finding new Pokémon to fit into teams where Salamence and Kangaskhan’s roles have been filled definitely allows for a little more innovation, and given Venusaur’s typing it may become more common due to the ever growing threat of Xerneas throughout events. Although being a great counter to Xerneas, its speed tier and weakness to both of Xerneas’ major partners, Salamence and Groudon, makes opting for Venusaur as a Mega Pokémon a little questionable, but with the right support may be overcome to fully come to potential.

On the topic of Xerneas counters we also have huge growth in popularity of Bronzong, for its amazing defensive typing and access to support moves such as Skill Swap, Gravity, Hypnosis and Trick Room, making it one of the primary Pokémon thought of when contemplating how to counter Xerneas, and thus a major staple in the format as of recently. This usage coinciding with the usage of XernDon brings into question the usage of Big B (XernDon with Bronzong), which may be the primary variation of XernDon at Worlds, especially considering that Big B scares away most other variations of the XernDon archetype. Overall the US Nationals results are a reflection of the huge amounts of XernDon teams which will most likely be present at Worlds, possibly also carrying Bronzong, alongside a couple little instances that need to be accounted for, given Worlds is being held in the US.

US Players Changing Teams

I think there’s a fairly good chance that US players will change their teams for one primary reason: communication. With so many US players discussing teams and their favourite archetypes with each other most of these players would already have a general idea of how Worlds is going to look. Obviously these statistics are just statistics, so hearing that multiple players are using certain archetypes may encourage the use of teams to counter what is believed to be the metagame at Worlds. Obviously some players will choose archetypes based on comfort, but assuming that all of the data above will translate across to Worlds may be quite incorrect.

Japan

Usage by Day 2 Invite recipients:

  • P-Groudon + P-Kyogre: 1
  • P-Groudon + Yveltal: 1
  • P-Groudon + Xerneas: 5
  • M-Rayquaza + P-Groudon: 1

Analysing Japan’s results has already been done by Kamaal on Nugget Bridge, so a lot of the data there will be referenced here when trying to justify Japan’s influence in shaping the Worlds metagame.

Overall, the Groudon usage, most specifically with Xerneas, Bronzong and Kyogre as partners, overran Japan Nationals, with nearly 75% of teams utilising Groudon in one way or another, nearly 50% of which were with Xerneas. Bronzong is another Pokémon to note, being present on over half of the Top 32 field.

There isn’t too much else that will make a major influence at Worlds, but the use of Rayquaza and Groudon (RayDon) paired with Choice Banded Talonflame and Sylveon to win the event is definitely a surprise, and not something that is generally known about. Given this team archetype won Japan, it’s fairly safe to say that this archetype will generally grow in usage as players from around to globe trial this team and possibly even use it at Worlds.

Although looking quite different on the surface I don’t think Japan’s results vary too much from the US results, at least less so than in previous years where the dominating teams were completely different. For example, for paid invites, there were 5 XernDon teams, 1 Dual Primal team, and 2 teams consisting of Groudon and another restricted Pokémon. Comparing this year to last year, the teams at Worlds were primarily a mixture of teams present at US Nationals and those present at Japan Nationals. Last year, there was a mixture of Kangaskhan/Gardevoir-based teams coming from Japan, and Charizard/Sand/Gardevoir based teams coming from the US, with Europe having a large diversity added in between. This year, with Japan and US being so similar, non-XernDon and non-Bronzong based teams may just be diluted by the sheer usage in both major regions.

Japanese Players Changing Teams

The argument of Japanese players changing teams is also somewhat valid, but statistically I think it’s quite unlikely. As was present last year at Worlds, Japanese players have a larger tendency to stick with the teams they’re comfortable with. The primary reason behind this is most likely the language barrier, as being unable to communicate with players from around the globe leads to very little information being shared beyond Japan, and metagame calls being too difficult in a foreign country. Therefore I don’t think it would be bold to assume that this data will transfer across to Worlds.

Europe

Usage by Day 2 Invite recipients:

  • P-Groudon + P-Kyogre: 5
  • P-Groudon + Xerneas: 6
  • M-Rayquaza + P-Kyogre: 2
  • P-Groudon + Yveltal: 2
  • M-Rayquaza + Xerneas: 1

Europe is the largest region and has the greatest diversity of team archetypes. In saying this, one trend stands out: the large use of Dual Primal and XernDon, which together occupied 2/3 of the 96 teams in Top Cut across all three Nationals. The paid invite recipients’ team usage at Nationals mirrors the average usage stats, with Dual Primal and Xerneas Groudon leading the charge followed by some smaller archetypes such as Rayquaza Kyogre (RayOgre) and Groudon Yveltal (YvelDon). This diversity makes it quite difficult to analyse too much, as this could go either way.

There are instances where specific Pokémon have had more usage, such as Ferrothorn (18 teams), Cresselia (31 teams) and Thundurus (53 teams), who were used much more than in other regions. Possibly due to the higher RayOgre usage, these 3 Pokémon are generally regarded as having a positive match-up against this archetype, and with European players gravitating towards these Pokémon to cover this archetype you can expect that Ferrothorn, Cresselia and Thundurus will have more usage from Europe as opposed to the rest of the world.

European Players Changing Teams

Of all regions, Europe’s players have generally been the ones to make metagame decisions, as European Nationals are usually earlier than other Nationals, and as such the metagame has changed between the time they earned their invite and Worlds. Adding onto this, European players have three Nationals, and switching teams between Nationals to avoid scouting may lead to data being somewhat incorrect due to the team they earned their Paid Invite with not necessarily being the team they’re completely comfortable with.

Korea

Usage by Day 2 Invite recipients:

  • P-Groudon + P-Kyogre: 1
  • P-Groudon + Xerneas: 1
  • M-Rayquaza + P-Kyogre: 1
  • P-Kyogre + Xerneas: 1

Asia Pacific

Usage by Day 2 Invite recipients:

  • P-Groudon + Xerneas: 2
  • M-Rayquaza + P-Kyogre: 1
  • P-Groudon + Yveltal: 1

Latin America

  • P-Groudon + Xerneas: 3
  • M-Rayquaza + P-Kyogre: 1

Korea, Asia Pacific and Latin America probably have the smallest influence on the Worlds metagame, so I’m going to combine them here and discuss them as a whole.

The first thing to note, as has been present in previous regions, is the dominance of XernDon and Dual Primal in these regions too. Archetypes involving Bronzong, however, were fairly absent barring a few, which differentiates these continents from the US, Europe and Japan. These regions had the greatest diversity of XernDon teams, with Tangela, Scrafty, Whimsicott, Cradily and Tauros all being used. Whilst it is likely these won’t make an appearance, knowing roughly the capabilities of these Pokémon could be beneficial, especially those which could take a surprise Game 1 at Worlds.

Asia Pacific, Latin American and Korean Players Changing Teams

Half of the Paid Invites in these regions are occupied by players who used XernDon at Nationals, which has a very large carry-on effect at Worlds in these regions specifically for a few reasons.

Firstly, the large amount of Championship Points required for both Latin America and Asia Pacific Paid Invites (over 950) means that it is impossible for any of these players to have just had a single solid placing at Nationals. To put it into perspective, the player with the lowest CP of all the 8 Paid Invite players in Latin America and Asia Pacific had one Regional win, a second at Regionals and a top 4 at a Regionals and a Nationals. The consistency required to retain such a solid record means that most players, once achieving highly in multiple events, would stick to what they’re comfortable with and what has gotten them such consistent results. I don’t think it would be incorrect to say that the users of XernDon here would have most likely used it throughout the entire season, and the same probably goes for the other 3 Latin America and Asia Pacific players who achieved a Worlds invite with YvelDon(1 Player) and RayOgre (2 Players).

Korea is the polar opposite here, only really having a few major events in three leagues and a National. However, the same still applies here; Korean players are more likely to use a team similar to what they used at Nationals. Without multiple Regionals or other larger TPCI run events, it’s very difficult for Korean players to test teams in a Best-Of-Three format with players they will be playing against, and as such are less likely to have made a metagame call for Nationals, and would be more inclined to use an archetype they’re most experienced with and could allow them to go deep into the tournament.

Metagame Opinions

I’ve spent the last week or so messaging a lot of players about their personal opinions on what will be present at Worlds, and I had overwhelmingly similar results from every single player I contacted. The questions asked were primarily focused around what archetypes/variations of archetypes will be used, so I’ll be splitting this section into archetype specific sections, discussing the usage of each archetype and it’s influence on other archetypes.

XernDon Influence


The one team archetype that was relative across every player contacted was, as results above reflect, the dominance of XernDon at Worlds. Being the most popular archetype as of recent does open up possibilities to be heavily countered by other teams, so Gengar Crobat, Red Card (on Amoonguss and Talonflame) and Bronzong will be heavily used, whilst Pokémon archetypes weaker to XernDon and its counters, including Yveltal-based teams and Trick Room-weak teams, drop in usage.

Adding to this, as XernDon is primarily a comfort pick for majority of players with a Paid Invite, it is safe to assume that these counters will be incorporated into the XernDon archetype, with XernDon with Crobat, ‘BigA’ (XernDon with Amoonguss) and, ‘BigB’ (XernDon with Bronzong) usage going to be greater than the usage of other XernDon archetypes. Archetypes I expect to drop in usage would be BigT (XernDon with Thundurus), standard Big 6, BigC (XernDon with Cresselia) and BigR (XernDon with Raichu). In short, Thundurus and Raichu XernDon teams have an almost autoloss to BigB, with the standard ‘flowchart’ being unable to be stopped by either of these Pokémon, and this fear will probably scare most players out of using both of these Pokémon.

In saying this, I still think Thundurus especially will have decent usage, due to its access to Taunt to restrict the usage of the growing support Pokémon such as Amoonguss, Trick Room setters, Tailwind setters and Smeargle in general, so I wouldn’t count it out fully, but definitely less so than without Bronzong. Cresselia is the other Pokémon I myself and others believed would drop in usage as whilst probably being a solid option for Worlds, will be primarily overlooked as a Trick Room setter for Bronzong due to its greater match-up against Xerneas.

Now at this point Bronzong has been referenced quite a bit, and whilst it is generally believed to be one of the stronger variations, may not actually be used as much as I’ve made it out to be. To quote Luke C (Dawg), ‘the mirror is CENSORED,’ and this may deter certain players from playing BigB, with BigB Vs BigB often being heavily decided on RNG if both players opt to play safely. In my personal opinion, BigB will still be heavily used, however BigA and Crobat variations will be used almost as much.

Dual Primal Influence


Dual Primal will definitely have solid usage at Worlds for a few reasons.

As Gengar and Crobat are declining as XernDon counters due to their Bronzong weakness, Dual Primal, or Bronzong Dual Primal, is one of the few teams still considered to have a positive match-up against all types of XernDon. With Dual Primals’ major weakness in Yveltal dropping in usage it’s never been safer to run this team, hence why I personally think this is a very solid call for Worlds and many players will see this. Dual Primal without Bronzong on the other hand won’t have too much usage, as there’s not many reasons at all to not simply shove a Bronzong onto the team and completely flip certain match-ups in your favour right from Team Preview, so I do expect the absence of this type of team in both days of Worlds.

Originally with the Trick Room varaints of this team both Primals used bulkier builds with little Speed, as can be expected on a Trick Room-based team. However, as of recent the Groudons used in this team have started to become almost maximum Speed. This is most likely due to the Kyogre being primarily the one to benefit from the Trick Room mode, as Bronzong and Kyogre together cover more than Groudon and Bronzong do, with Intimidate being one factor that makes Kyogre the go-to sweeper in most cases. Faster Groudon allows for a team to have a faster, non-Trick Room based mode where Groudon and Kyogre, usually backed by Kangaskhan, Salamence and/or Thundurus, is able to be played without its speed tier becoming an issue for Groudon. This versatility leads me to believe that Dual Primal will definitely have a place at Worlds, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it being one of the most used archetypes throughout the event.

Rayquaza Kyogre Influence


Rayquaza Kyogre is the one archetype I’m extremely iffy on, and I can’t really say for certain whether it will have high usage or next to none. The first reason for this is its awkward XernDon match up, given Groudon is used in Trick Room. The team composition of RayOgre primarily consists of Pokémon who have solid match-ups against Xerneas, such as Crobat, Gengar, Ferrothorn and Raichu, just to name a few. Looking at these Pokémon there is one clear weakness; Gravity Precipice Blades.

With one half of the team dedicated to KOing Groudon but weak to Xerneas (Rayquaza and Kyogre), and the other half of the team dedicated to preventing Xerneas sweeping (Crobat, Gengar, Raichu, Ferrothorn) a wrong lead could be extremely dangerous for the RayOgre user, whereas a positive lead match up could almost be a free win. For example, leading Gengar Crobat into a Mental Herb Cresselia/Bronzong and a Groudon is almost definitely a lost game, whereas leading it into Xerneas Smeargle is almost always a win if played correctly. On the other hand, leading Kyogre into Groudon Cresselia/Bronzong is usually a really good position, whereas leading it into Xerneas requires too many hard reads to be able to play the game effectively. This is also relative to Dual Primal Trick Room teams, and having to guess leads based on very little information would most definitely scare players away from the current composition of the archetype. In saying this, there may be other variations of the archetype that haven’t been fully explored yet and I would love to see the true potential of this team come out at Worlds.

Yveltal Groudon Influence


Gonna come right out and say that this is easily going to be the least used archetype and for a few reasons. Firstly, against Xerneas teams it is super difficult as having Yveltal out on the field against Xerneas at any time usually results in a loss, as Geomancy is more often than not fairly free. If Yveltal is not brought to the game you have an uphill battle to fight as you don’t have a restricted Pokémon, whereas bringing Yveltal to the game often requires 3 Pokémon to be used against Xerneas until it’s removed and Yveltal can come in and win the game.

With XernDon usage increasing Yveltal usage for the most part will drop, unless there are specific Pokémon built with the XernDon match-up in mind, as seen by Japan’s second place Nationals team, which featured Bronzong, and Arash Ommati’s Germany Nationals winning team featuring Jumpluff. Although the latter is probably less of a counter due to accuracy reasons, the former is a great adaption to the archetype.

Another Pokémon who has seen usage on Yveltal teams is Red Card Amoonguss, which, like Bronzong, is solely on the team to limit the amount of damage Xerneas can do to the Yveltal team, as with Xerneas in the back it’s often hard to switch in on an Yveltal. I do expect that for those who do choose Yveltal through a comfort pick that Bronzong and Amoonguss will play key roles, especially for those who end up going deep in Swiss.

Other Archetype Influence

The last two I want to make note of just briefly are RayDon and Xerneas Rayquaza (XRay), although personally I have no clue how these archetypes will perform.

RayDon has had some decent results previously, but outside of Japan it hasn’t ever performed to an extremely high level and I’m not sure if many Worlds competitors have experience with this team or would be willing to switch to this team so close to Worlds, and there hasn’t been too many details shared regarding the strengths and weaknesses. The primary information I know about RayDon is that Groudon is Special, usually with Hidden Power Ice, but the rest is variable as this archetype is pretty new.

As for XRay, this is very similar. Arcanine and Scrafty have been seen quite often, with Arcanine having Safeguard and Scrafty carrying Quick Guard, both with the goal of supporting Xerneas with Intimidate and protection from Dark Void and Priority Taunt respectively. The Rayquaza on this team also commonly carries Dragon Dance, so a few little things to note if you happen to be going in blind against XRay.

As for usage, both teams will be seen, however the lack of knowledge of players regarding these teams may lead to players opting for comfort picks, but knowing roughly how to tackle these match-ups may be very beneficial if you do end up playing one at Worlds.

Conclusion

To all those who read the article and are attending Worlds, I wish you all luck, and I hope that I managed to put the metagame of Worlds into perspective for you. A huge thanks goes out to Lightcore and RPIndaHouse’s collection of Top Cut teams from Nationals, which was used as a primary reference point for what is written here. Thank you to the players who took the time to reply and give me your personal opinion, as it was great to see the viewpoint of players from around the globe and be able to compound this onto where I personally felt the metagame was heading.

About BargensVGC

Bailey started playing competitive Pokemon at the age of 11 under the alias of Bargens, with a primary focus on singles, before moving to VGC in 2014 at the age of 14. Bailey has become a much bigger VGC nerd since then, focusing on understand the metagame.
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