Pre Season VGC'16 analysis: What does this differ from VGC'15?

#1
Well guys, this is Steven Stone yet again bringing you one of these really long and tiring articles. But this one is special. Consider it my Christmas gift! Ok, so here i'm going to cover what we have learned these last 2 weeks about how VGC'16 metagame is going to turn on, and we're going to learn what is different from the VGC'15 season, including my own feelings about this new season. So, let's begin!

#1.- Metagame marking Pokemon.

Well, considering the amount of new Pokemon we've received for 2016 season, even now there are a lot of Pokemon that are a lot more common than others, which are:
  • Primal Groudon
  • Xerneas
  • Mega Kangaskhan
  • Ferrothorn
  • Talonflame
  • Crobat
  • Smeargle
  • Primal Kyogre
  • Mega Mawile
  • Mega Rayquaza
  • Cresselia
  • Thundurus
From my own experience, i would call this the top 12 most used Pokemon (definitely not in order though, otherwise Mega Rayquaza would be last).

The sets are pretty much generic for most of these Pokemon, however, Primal Groudon now has 3 different sets and a lot of viable options in its movepool that make it a pretty dangerous threat. So far, i've been seeing more special variants than physical ones, which would be explained by the need of OHKOing opposing Primal Groudon, which is something you can't overlook.

The need to OHKO Primal Groudon is something every single team had to take into consideration: a 2HKO is in most scenarios almost impossible to afford because by each turn Primal Groudon stays in the field, it can easily take out 1 or 2 Pokemon of your team by the means of Eruption or Precipice Blades. Not to mention, but Golduck is no longer something that can safely beat Primal Groudon due to the increase of the max speed variants of this Pokemon. Please stop using it!

#2.- Base 90 Benchmark

Base 90 speed Pokemon are a lot more frequent than ever, these mons include Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, Dialga, Giratina and Ho-Oh. I can see myself and a lot of other players EVing to outspeed these Pokemon, as now the prominent speed tier stopped being the base 100s / 70s but now it's the 90s.

#3.- Playstyle differences

VGC'15 usually had an either really offensive gamestyle in which you tried to reach a safe position and start comfortably doing damage from there until the opposing team was down to the count. Well, not anymore! VGC'16 playstyle differs from VGC'15 because threat conservation is almost impossible without having to fodder a Pokemon, which makes the metagame really offensive. The amount of nukes VGC'16 provides is incredible, and even Pokemon like Cresselia and Giratina-O get 2HKOed by moves like LO Dragon Ascent from Mega Rayquaza, Eruption from Primal Groudon and Water Spout from Primal Kyogre. The term "safe switch-in" is almost unexistent in this format, and games are really fast paced because of this, no matter what Pokemon you are running in your team. Team Preview is a lot more relevant than ever because games can literally be lost if you do a mistake on team preview, and these mistakes are a lot easier to commit. Let's just say, the game will be over in 6-7 turns no matter what.

#4.- CHALK's current situation

VGC'15 was hated by a lot of people because of the overcentralization of CHALK, a team structure which you saw every in single tournament held since not only worlds, but Japan Nationals too, and in the ladder it is unavoidable to see, either. When VGC'16 was introduced, a lot of speculation about how CHALK would die was done, and a lot of posts related to how useless Kangaskhan was going to be were made the first day. However, i can say that Kangaskhan, even in a metagame flooded with these powerful Uber legendaries, is still the best Mega Evolution around.
In fact, CHALK as a team structure hasn't completely died at all. The only members that actually dropped its viability a lot were Heatran and Amoonguss in a way, but Landorus-T, Thundurus, Cresselia and Kangaskhan are still top-tier threats that people have to watch out for. Landorus-T not so much but that's only because it's slightly outclassed by Primal Groudon and gets destroyed by Primal Kyogre, not much against this Pokemon. CHALK variations will be seen a lot in this new format, and i can even see Mega Kangaskhan winning yet again this year's World Championships. So yeah, saying that VGC'16 would stop CHALK's overcentralization was a pretty wrong argument, and i can definitely see CHALK variations take the crown for many tournaments this year.

#5.- My personal opinion on the metagame

I dislike this metagame a lot, not because of the strong legendaries that are around, but because of the playstyle. We had a pretty interesting way to play VGC during these lasts 5 years, a playstyle that was pretty much the same on every year and that consisted of having a good defensive synergy and being able to wear down check and counters for one of your Pokemon to go wild. Threat conservation was possible, and securing a safe end-game was definitely the main objective of last season. Now we sack everything up in the few turns we have to win so our most important members of the team win the games for us, and i dislike that feel that 4 out of 6 Pokemon are entirely useless and their only purpose is to cripple the opposing team so the 2 mons we have in the back win. Smeargle + Crobat is a pretty clear example of this situation i describe.

Well, that's my small analysis! What do you guys think about this metagame so far? We still have a lot to learn about this metagame, but we are definitely discovering things about this metagame.
That's what i call my Christmas gift from me to you, Smogon VGC community! I wish you a merry Christmas!
 
#2
The worst thing about this metagame are not all the Dark Void Smeargle or the weather wars or even the fact, that some things are impossible to switch into without taking casualties, BUT the Speed ties. At least for me.
A single lost Speed tie can easily mean, that you've lost the game then and there, in this format.
The amount of my games in VGC16, that came down to Speed ties or that have been decided by Speed ties, is just enormous and it kind of kills the fun for me.
 
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#3
The worst thing about this metagame are not all the Dark Void Smeargle or the weather wars or even the fact, that some things are impossible to switch into without taking casualties, BUT the Speed ties. At least for me.
A single lost Speed tie can easily mean, that you've lost the game then and there, in this format.
The amount of my games in VGC16, that came down to Speed ties or that have been decided by Speed ties, is just enormous and it kind of kills the fun for me.
As much as I like this format, yes. You need to look for ways to minimize speed ties, but you'll hit them.

The nature of this metagame and how many nuke-like Pokemon there are pushes speed to either extreme, or at least it has been so far (it's still early), which means it's very difficult to avoid speed ties at some point.

I do think it's possible to build around to an extent, but it's still way more prevalent than in previous formats, and each tie carries much more weight.