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The VGC metagame is vastly different from the metagame we play on simulators. For one thing, this metagame is doubles, a completely different story from singles. For another, being on the cartridges means that not every Pokemon has perfect IVs. Breeding is another related factor, and while the RNG could be circumvented in Generation 4 after the release of the RNG Reporter, Generation 5's RNG is yet to be completely cracked (though it is abusable to an extent), so the likelihood of imperfect IVs is much greater. This affects the likes of Speed ties.
There are no instant weather inducers in Unova, so all global effects must be set up using the respective move. This makes weather wars a lot more interesting, since it is not possible to switch to induce weather, so teams must prepare to actively have most of their Pokemon able to abuse weather, or they must run their own weather.
For once, Sunny Day isn't the underdog. With access to Whimsicott, an excellent choice for setting up Sunny Day, powerful Pokemon like Darmanitan will enjoy the boost to Fire-type attacks, and among the Chlorophyll Pokemon, Lilligant looks to be the most threatening sun sweeper, with access to Sleep Powder. Sunny Day appears to be a dangerous weather effect this generation, and it can easily abuse the lack of Sleep Clause.
On paper, Rain Dance is horrible this generation. There is only one Swift Swimmer—Seismitoad—and its offensive stats aren't overly stellar. Now then, how does rain manage to survive in this metagame as a result? There are a couple of answers to that question. By using Choice Scarf Jellicent as a mini Kyogre, rain teams can lay the pain on the opposition. Also, Thundurus and Tornadus appreciate the accuracy boosts to Thunder and Hurricane respectively, and can abuse these powerful attacks to the maximum extent.
Sandstorm is a good global effect to use. With access to Excadrill, a rampaging sandstorm team is not very easy to stop. However, sandstorm sorely misses automatic weather inducers, meaning that it is a lot easier to stop. Balloon Excadrill synergizes well with Landorus, another potent threat, to spam doubles Earthquakes under sandstorm, which are extremely powerful if unresisted.
Trick Room is an effect that changes massively from singles to doubles. In singles, it's an underwhelming effect that works mainly based on the element of surprise most of the time, while in doubles, it becomes one of the most feared global effects, with an arsenal of Pokemon ready to abuse it. Pokemon that are good, like Conkeldurr, become great, and some of the not-so-famous threats like Carracosta get their chance to shine. All in all, a very dangerous global effect that usually acts as an "anti-weather" effect by turning the tables on fast sweepers.
Tailwind gets a boost this generation, lasting an additional turn. This means that Tailwind teams are a lot more viable, and with Whimsicott around, it isn't too hard to set up. Tailwind is a move almost any Pokemon appreciates, unless you are employing a Trick Room team. The Speed boost lets teams get some breathing space to try and beat down weather teams, and in general lets some of the slower Pokemon get a jump on their faster counterparts. While still considered a novelty by several, it's a strategy that has become a lot more powerful, and if you have a free move slot on a Pokemon learning Tailwind, consider putting it there.
Chandelure boasts the highest Special Attack in the VGC metagame, at an impressive 145. Defensively, its typing and ability give it 3 immunities and 5 other useful resistances, and while Chandelure's defenses don't exactly afford it numerous hits, it can still stick around long enough to fulfill its role within your team, whether it's setting up Trick Room or melting the faces of your opponents Pokémon with the double targeting move Heat Wave. With STAB Shadow Balls available in Chandelures arsenal, Jellicent is forced to think twice before coming in to take Fire moves, and Samurott is also wary of Energy Ball.
Countering Shandera can sometimes be a case of simply outspeeding it killing it before it kills you, which can often be difficult to judge since Chandelure sits in an awkward Speed bracket: slow enough for Trick Room, fast enough for Tailwind. If you're looking for a solid counter for Chandelure though, Hydreigon boasts resistance to everything in Chandelure's movepool bar a freak Hidden Power. Sucker Punch will also make Chandelure particularly cautious.
Jellicent is an excellent Pokémon whose usage first rose in a desperate attempt to emulate the hard hitting Water Spout strategy of VGC10's TopOgre. People have since realized that 85 Special Attack just doesn't have the same impact as Kyogre's tsunamis, and so Jellicent has begun to excel in other areas. Once again, the Ghost typing and Water Absorb ability allow Jellicent several opportunities to switch in unharmed, thanks to the abundance of Fighting and Water moves, and Jellicent can choose to either support, with options such as Safeguard, Will-O-Wisp, and Trick Room, or go full-out offensive with Water Spout, Shadow Ball, or Ice Beam. Countering Jellicent, is once again, a case of knowing its Speed and role, as it's just as capable of sitting around and burning your physical attackers and then recovering off the damage as it is hitting your Pokemon hard with Choice Scarfed attacks right off the bat. Hydreigon's Dark/Dragon typing serves it well once again against the Ghost-types, resisting both of Jellicent's STAB moves, however, in this case it must be careful to avoid Ice Beams and Blizzards. Amoongus can take Ice moves without too much trouble and then hit back with Giga Drain, or Spore if Safeguard is not in play. Thundurus will outspeed all but Choice Scarf variants and fry the jellyfish with Electric attacks.
Conkeldurr is popular in VGC for a number of reasons. Firstly, the low Speed makes it fantastic in Trick Room teams. Secondly, that massive base 140 Attack stat can put a hole in anything that doesn't resist its attacks. Thirdly, the combination of Flame Orb, Guts, and a first turn Protect will leave Conkeldurr with a monstrous 300+ Attack stat and status immunity. Another huge bonus is Mach Punch, which hits first more often than not thanks to priority, and can wreck big threats such as Hydreigon and Terrakion. When Conkeldurr already has a Speed advantage, it can utilize powerful options such as Hammer Arm, Rock Slide, and Payback to give the red nosed rascal excellent coverage. Drain Punch can be used to restore health while Facade gives Conkeldurr an option for hitting Amoongus hard.
Countering Conkeldurr usually depends on stopping its partner from setting up Trick Room. If Conkeldurr has a Speed advantage already, your best bet would be bulky such as Reuniclus and Musharna, who can take a Payback and KO back with Psychic. Pokémon faster than Conkeldurr outside of Trick Room with the ability to OHKO it include Tornadus and Archeops.
The 600 BST Beast of the BW Generation feels right at home in VGC11. Sporting resistances to some of the most commonly used attacking types, as well as 2 immunities, Hydreigon's presence can shut down a number of Pokémon before it even gets around to attacking. But when it does unleash hell, damn, you better hope its Draco Meteor misses. Thanks to Steel-types being virtually non-existent in VGC11, Hydreigon's STAB attacks give it almost unresisted coverage. With Draco Meteor and Dark Pulse backed by several options for the third attacking slot, including Fire Blast and Surf, you'll be hard pressed to find a switch-in that isn't hit super effectively, never mind resist its attacks.
Where Hydreigon begins to fall short is when you consider its problematic Speed stat, which leaves it in the middle ground below the genies and fighting dogs who can all do a number on the three headed Hydra. And while Hydreigon's typing gives it great advantages, it's also the cause of Hydreigon's Achilles heel: Fighting weakness. Coupled with its middling Speed, the Fighting weakness alone leaves Hydreigon open to powerful blows from Terrakion, Virizion, and even Mienshao. Conkeldurr is also a constant threat thanks to priority Mach Punch.
Being one of the few Pokémon in VGC11 to learn Fake Out immediately gives Mienshao a niche that is sure to send its usage skyrocketing, but Fake Out isn't the only move at Mienshao's disposal that makes it almost an unrivaled master of offensive support. With access to both Wide Guard and Fast Guard, Feint, and Taunt, Mienshao has a couple of immediate answers to several popular leads. Its Inner Focus ability means it never has to worry about being flinched on the first turn.
Despite a very respectable base 125 Attack, Mienshao often finds itself doing mediocre damage thanks to its poor offensive options being limited to not much besides Fighting moves and Rock Slide, and High Jump Kick is its only worthy attack with a Base Power over 100. Quite often, Mienshao will find itself simply waiting to die once it has done its job at the start of a match.
This miserable mushroom is the bane of many new players unfamiliar with VGC11. Deceptively bulky and unashamedly annoying, Amoongus will stick around for a long time and Spore your entire team if you can't shut it down first. In addition to its signature move Spore, Amoongus is capable of taking hits on behalf of its teammate too, thanks to Anger Powder. This makes Amoongus especially useful in supporting Trick Room teams.
If you want to make things hard for Amoongus, Tornadus can OHKO it with Flight Jewel Acrobat and Chandelure will hit it hard with boosted Heat Waves. Taunt or a faster Fake Out can also delay it from spreading sleep.
The VGC metagame is very interesting, and if you can't make it to the real event, never fear! There are lots of people on Pokemon Online who'll play you! Join us, and explore the new metagame!
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