Whaddup guys, it’s your recent International finalist, Graham “Ammodee” Amedee, here! The last couple of weeks have been insane since my return from the North America International Championships. I have been working on my YouTube content in addition to doing my own Worlds preparation. I’d love to share some of my thoughts on the upcoming metagame, as well as some of my mentality heading into the toughest VGC competition of the year.
The state of the meta is always wild, no matter what year of VGC we are in! So far I am noticing a trend in some dominating cores, which have resulted in top cuts at International and Regional levels.
The first core is Mega Rayquaza and Primal Kyogre. This core dominated VGC16 and is also dominating VGC19. We’ve seen teams like Wolfe Glick’s North American International Championships winning team, which included a Gengar, Celesteela, Tapu Koko, and Incineroar. You also have Jonathan Evans’ RayOgre team, with Mimikyu, Metagross, Incineroar, and Tapu Koko. Quentin Colon was the runner-up in the Senior division, and also used the RayOgre core, supported by Tapu Koko, Incineroar, Ferrothorn, and Crobat.
The second core is Xerneas and Primal Groudon. You will see a common team running Tornadus, Mega Kangaskhan, and other Pokémon like Incineroar, Amoonguss, Mega Mawile, Tapu Koko, and Kommo-o. Kyle Livinghouse, Ashton Cox, and Flavio Del Pidio all used the XernDon + TornKang core and placed in the top 8 at the North American Internats with it. There are other successful variants with Tapu Fini, Mega Salamence, Amoonguss, and Incineroar, which was used by Davide Carrer to place second at the European Internationals. There is also the XernDon core with Mega Gengar, Tapu Fini, Incineroar, and Landorus-T, which adds a Perish Trap element to the team. This can be helpful against more passive teams.
The third core is Xerneas and Mega Rayquaza. I personally think this core is strong and very viable still. It had huge success at the Europeon Championships, as Pado won the tournament using a variant with Nihilego, Amoonguss, Tapu Fini, and Incineroar. I believe this core will always be strong with Fake Out and redirection support. These teams usually support Xerneas well, and sweep with its sheer power after a Geomancy. XRay has always been and will always be a strong team when played by a knowledgeable player. The key to using these teams is to identify what can prevent potential set up, as well as realizing which support Pokémon to bring to assist the restricted duo in powering through their opponents.
I think a well-built Yveltal team will make a break into the top 16 of the World Championships. Since the rise in Xerneas’ and Mega Rayquaza’s usage, it’s been very difficult for Yveltal to do well. I’ve personally noticed a huge rise in Lunala usage, and I believe this is not a bad period to build a strong Yveltal team, as it has a huge advantage over Lunala teams.
I would also love to see Ho-Oh, Zekrom, or Giratina make an appearance at Worlds. I believe these restricted are too passive and would struggle to obtain a top 16 result, but I would be happy to be proven wrong!
Mentality going into Worlds
This will now lead into my mentality for the Worlds competition. There is no other tournament where you play such tough rounds from the get-go. No free wins, no practice rounds; it’s straight into tough Swiss rounds against those who have worked hard to earn their qualification. Practice is the key to performing at a tournament. The best players in the world will be playing hundreds, if not thousands, of games to perform optimally at the Worlds stage. Not only this, but you will need to rehearse your match-ups, especially the cores that you find yourself weak to.
Elements of luck will always play a part in VGC. Precipice Blades misses, Rock Slide flinches, relying on max Sleep turns: whatever it is, there will always be some degree of luck involved. You will find the best players doing all they can to eliminate their odds of inconsistencies – e.g not relying on inaccurate moves, using the correct terrains to counter-act Status conditions, and so on.
In relation to this, I will discuss what it takes to not only practice, but also to perform well when it comes to competition day. As any coach would say: practice is key. But practice is not just about hopping on Showdown or Battle Spot and attempting to win games. I always hear people say, “yeah, I’m so ready, I’ve won 30 games in a row”. I also hear the opposite: “man, this team sucks, I’ve lost 5 games in a row now”. Wins and losses don’t mean anything if you’re not analysing the games. If you want to be at the top level, you need to do A LOT of practice games.
You need to look closely at how you are winning and ESPECIALLY how you are losing. Don’t go constantly blaming hax when you lose. Find ways to increase your odds mathematically, so you avoid those odds of losing. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re ready just because you’ve reached the top 50 on the leaderboard if you know you had to rely on Sleep turns or critical hits to get there. When these odds suddenly go against you in a tournament, you’ll be x-3 before you know it.
Be tough on yourself, and make it difficult to win during practice. Practice with the timer on, make it so you can’t re-select your moves after entering them, and don’t have the Damage Calculator open during a game. You won’t have these luxuries in a real life competition. There is an element of speed that’s involved in the game. Train yourself to not misclick – it’s one of the biggest excuses I see from many VGC players. Give yourself no excuses for losing a game. You want to finish your games with your head held high, and be able to say you gave it 100% and that you put in 100% effort with your prep whether you win or lose.
Getting a good night’s sleep before the tournament is important. Do whatever it takes: try relaxation techniques like meditation, read a book, turn electronics off an hour before bed, etc. If I can’t sleep at night, I listen to peaceful music and go through easy breathing exercises to slow my system down and relax.
Nutrition and hydration is a huge factor throughout the competition day. Don’t any of you dare blame the lack of a lunch break as an excuse for why you did poorly at an event! Bring your own food. Bring a backpack with something as simple as a 6-pack of natural muesli bars. Pack yourself a lunch box with a sandwich or a piece of fruit. And most importantly, keep a water bottle on you at all times, and keep sipping water throughout the day. Being hydrated and well fed will help keep your mind healthy for the competition.
Lastly, on tournament day, ALWAYS take it one game at a time. Don’t panic if you start 0-1 or 0-2. Always look back at each individual game and consider how you lost, or even how you won. I’d be feeling more confident with a 0-1 start knowing I played well against a tougher match-up than I would be winning against an opponent by relying on dodging Origin Pulses or other luck factors.
ALWAYS STAY POSITIVE, AND ALWAYS BACK YOURSELF! The amount of times I see someone say: “oh my gosh, it’s such and such, he’s the World Champ!” So what? You both have a brain and a DS with 6 Pokémon each. Go play that game as if the player is a similar rating to you on Battle Spot. Having a mindset of defeat before the game starts will only lead to you being more likely to lose during the match.
To all the VGC competitors across the globe, I wish you all the best of luck at the biggest Pokémon VGC competition in the world. Good luck with your final prep for this competition, and I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the Worlds stage!