USM OverUsed through WCoP 2019

By Jordy and Leo. Released: 2019/08/15.
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Art by Kaiju Bunny

Art by Kaiju Bunny.

Introduction

This year's edition of the World Cup of Pokémon has come to an end with team US West taking the blue trophy in an intense finale. Due to the tournament's focus on SM OU, it is the perfect opportunity for new trends to surge and for the meta to evolve. Let's take a look at some popular teams and Pokémon throughout the latest edition of WCoP.

The teams

Mega Tyranitar Excadrill Tangrowth Toxapex Celesteela Kartana

(used in xray vs Sjneider, Round 1)

Throughout WCoP 2019, sand teams were commonly used, especially in the earlier rounds of the tournament. This team was used by xray against Sjneider and is a good example of the archetype. The main allure to sand teams is the speed and potential to sweep that Excadrill possesses under sand. On top of that, Excadrill provides useful defensive utility against Pokémon like Tapu Koko by virtue of its typing. In this case, the team runs Mega Tyranitar as the sand setter. Mega Tyranitar also provides very valuable compression with Stealth Rock and Pursuit, which allows it to weaken annoying Pokémon such as Tornadus-T and Zapdos. Tangrowth is used to handle Pokémon like Kartana, Mega Lopunny, and Garchomp, which can be really annoying to deal with if played right. Toxapex provides the team with a few important things: a good Ash-Greninja check that becomes a great one once paired with Mega Tyranitar, since the latter resists Dark Pulse, and Toxic Spikes support, which is a great tool to put additional pressure on bulkier Pokémon like Tangrowth. Since Psychic-types are hard to deal with for classic sand teams, Celesteela is used to take care of them. Mega Alakazam in particular could prove to be very annoying without Celesteela, as it can Trace Excadrill's Sand Rush. Lastly, Kartana synergizes well with the team's main offensive core. It's capable of pressuring Zapdos thanks to Breakneck Blitz and can also put immense pressure on Rotom-W. It massively benefits from Mega Tyranitar, which can Pursuit trap most of its common checks, like Mega Latias and Tornadus-T.

Ditto Tornadus-T Mega Scizor Chansey Toxapex Gliscor

(used in Trosko vs lax, Round 1 Tiebreaker)

This team was first used by bro fist in his Round 1 game against ramboss and then made another 2 appearances in the Round 1 Tiebreak with Trosko and Axel using a slightly edited version. This type of Chansey + Ditto semistall had not seen much success since OLT V, with a near-identical structure and Zygarde as the Ground-type as opposed to Swords Dance Gliscor. Despite Zygarde's ban right before SPL, this archetype managed to make a resurgence thanks to the rise in popularity of Ditto in bulkier teams as a countermeasure to some of the threatening setup sweepers in the tier. The combination of Chansey, Mega Scizor, and Toxapex makes for a very sturdy defensive core that a lot of teams struggle to break without setup, which Ditto feasts upon. Tornadus-T provides some offensive pressure with either Flyinium Z or Fightinium Z giving it the power to get early KOs and Regenerator giving it the longevity it needs. Gliscor is the last member and acts as the team's primary wincon with a heavily specially defensive Swords Dance set, although bro fist's version originally had Defog on it instead.

Mega Lopunny Gastrodon Heatran Tornadus-T Clefable Celesteela

(used in ABR vs Spectear, Round 1)

This team was one of the first instances of Gastrodon being used to great success in this tournament and would spawn a trend that continued for the rest of Round 1 and allowed Gastrodon to return to the spotlight after a long time. Its ability to provide an Electric immunity and check some of the biggest threats in the tier in Ash-Greninja and Heatran makes for a lot of defensive utility and is complemented by Clefable's resistance to Dark, which allows it to switch into a Choice Specs Greninja locked into Dark Pulse should it take down Gastrodon through flinches. Clefable also provides Wish support for its teammates and a solid Fighting resistance. Wish support is greatly appreciated by Firium Z Heatran, which lacks the longevity of Leftovers variants and is prone to getting worn down with hazards. It's one of the best wallbreakers in the tier and is able to cripple some of its best checks in the Lati twins with the combination of Toxic and Protect. While Heatran's bulk is not bad at all, it can't act as a proper defensive Steel-type without the necessary investment and Leftovers, so a secondary Steel-type is needed. Celesteela fulfills this role and also provides a check to Mega Alakazam and Tapu Lele as well as a much-needed Ground immunity. Its typing is nicely complemented by Gastrodon's and rounds out the defensive core very well. Due to the slow nature of the team so far, the last two members of the team are dedicated to covering faster threats. Tornadus-T is one of the premier pivots in the tier due to its great bulk, fantastic Speed, and Regenerator ability, which provide a great balance between its defensive and offensive capabilities. Mega Lopunny rounds out the team as another fast offensive threat that takes advantage of the holes Heatran can punch in a team to quickly dispose of the rest of its members, with double STAB priority being great for revenge killing on a team that lacks a Choice Scarf Pokémon.

Gastrodon

Compared to previous recent tournaments like SPL, Gastrodon saw a significant increase in usage this WCoP. This is because it's one of the sturdiest checks to many Pokémon such as Heatran, Ash-Greninja, and Magearna. In addition to this, it's also one of the best checks to Volcarona if it's running Clear Smog, and its typing also makes it a huge bother for VoltTurn teams that make use of Tapu Koko and Rotom-W. Although none of these perks are new discoveries, Gastrodon still saw an increase in usage because of them, as all these Pokémon were and still are extremely popular.

Mega Alakazam Heatran Gastrodon Skarmory Tornadus-T Clefable Axel vs Sjneider Mega Lopunny Rotom-W Kartana Landorus-T Magearna Hydreigon

Starting off the match, Axel leads Heatran as Sjneider leads with Rotom-W. After exchanging status moves, Sjneider sends out his Landorus-T to set up Stealth Rock, which prompts Axel to set up both Spikes and Stealth Rock, so Sjneider has to find a way to get rid of the hazards before the pressure becomes too much to handle. Following suit, Sjneider decides to make a double switch into his Kartana, expecting either Gastrodon or Clefable to switch into Rotom-W. He then catches Axel's Skarmory switching back in with Knock Off, forcing it to use Roost. This lets Rotom-W freely come back in to remove hazards from the field, while Axel takes this opportunity to switch Gastrodon into play. Because Sjneider doesn't have anything that can safely switch into Gastrodon, he switches to Landorus-T to pressure it out, which unfortunately gets burned by Scald in the process. On turn 31, with both players setting up entry hazards again and Axel successfully scouting Sjneider's Hydreigon in the mean time, Sjneider switches to Mega Lopunny as he predicts Gastrodon's Recover, which ends up in him getting a timely critical hit with Return against Axel's Clefable, putting him under a lot of pressure. However, Axel sacks Heatran to Sjneider's Mega Lopunny and then switches in Mega Alakazam, successfully forcing it out. Since Clefable is substantially weakened and paralyzed, Sjneider uses Black Hole Eclipse with Hydreigon followed by a Dark Pulse in hopes of breaking through it. Unfortunately, Clefable does not flinch or get paralyzed, allowing it to use Soft-Boiled. In a last-ditch effort after unsuccessfully trying to break through Clefable via a full paralysis and sacking Kartana to its Moonblast afterwards, Sjneider forces Axel's Clefable out into Gastrodon with Magearna once more, again using this to switch Mega Lopunny into play. He then manages to catch Axel's Skarmory with High Jump Kick. After Skarmory gets KOed, Axel gets a free opportunity to claim a KO with Mega Alakazam, as Magearna is too weakened at this point in the game. Axel, playing it very safely, does not want to risk getting his Mega Alakazam crit by Mega Lopunny's Fake Out, so he switches Mega Alakazam out for Clefable, which then manages to KO Mega Lopunny, officially finishing the game.

Ditto

Throughout WCoP, Ditto experienced a significant burst in usage and success. Ditto is an excellent fit on teams that rely on very bulky backbones and as a result often don't have the sheer power required to break through opposing bulky teams. This all changes with Ditto, which can continually copy a Pokémon with recovery and as a result basically has unlimited PP, meaning that it can drag these matchups along for a while. Do note that Ditto has to get its Choice Scarf removed for this to work optimally. That is, however, not the only thing that Ditto has going for it; it's also great at preventing your team from getting swept, as it can copy sweepers and countersweep as a result, and its ability to trap Magnezone is great for teams that rely on Pokémon like Celesteela to check Psychic-types.

Mega Scizor Toxapex Chansey Gliscor Ditto Tornadus-T Trosko vs lax Tornadus-T Landorus-T Mega Charizard X Jirachi Toxapex Breloom

At the start of the game, Trosko leads with Ditto, allowing Trosko to scout lax's Toxapex's moveset. Trosko switches into Tornadus-T and simply uses Hurricane the following turn, since lax doesn't have any solid switch-ins. Because of this turn, Trosko now knows that Toxapex is not running a lot of special bulk, meaning that Tornadus-T can more easily pressure it throughout the game. Predicting lax to switch out, Trosko uses U-turn with Tornadus-T and pivots in his Ditto, which allows him to scout the set that lax's Jirachi is running. lax's Tornadus-T reveals Hidden Power Ice, which is useful against Gliscor, but Hidden Power Ice doesn't do nearly enough, as Trosko's Gliscor happens to be very heavily invested into Special Defense. lax's Breloom is running Spore, which allows it to neuter Mega Scizor. Realizing that Breloom won't be able to do much, lax switches out to Tornadus-T as Trosko switches to his Gliscor, which has almost fully recovered HP at this point. Both players switch out, with Trosko switching in his Chansey and lax switching to his Landorus-T. Both players use this to make progress, with Chansey crippling Landorus-T with Toxic and setting Stealth Rock the turn after, while lax simply elects to set Stealth Rock with Landorus-T to then switch in Breloom. lax is unfortunately forced to switch in his own Tornadus-T, which gets hit by Facade but manages to narrowly avoid the 2HKO from it thanks to Breloom's Leech Seed. lax's Breloom is unfortunately forced out after Trosko switches in his Gliscor and uses Swords Dance. Not wanting to lose his Breloom at this point or allow Gliscor to set up to +6, lax switches in his Landorus-T, which gets worn down significantly by Facade. Trosko switches to his Ditto the next turn, which is relatively safe considering that Landorus-T is one of the best checks to itself, and it notably allows him to scout lax's Landorus-T's moveset. After switching around for some turns, Trosko manages to land a Toxic against lax's Tornadus-T, which is great, since it'll put extra pressure on Tornadus-T for Gliscor. Following that, Trosko manages to catch lax's Breloom, giving him a free opportunity to use Swords Dance. Because both Landorus-T and Tornadus-T are so worn down, lax is forced to sack both before he is able to switch his Mega Charizard X into play. After pivoting around Mega Charizard X for a few turns, Trosko manages to come out of this rather unscathed, only losing his Chansey in the process. He then proceeds to switch into his own Ditto, forcing lax's Mega Charizard X out. After a few turns, Trosko switches his Gliscor into lax's Jirachi, forcing lax to go for Iron Head flinches, which he ends up getting, ultimately forcing Trosko back out into Tornadus-T. Luckily for Trosko, the next time he brings Gliscor in, it manages to not flinch every time and successfully sets up a Swords Dance and takes out Jirachi. Now that Gliscor is fully set up, there's not a lot lax can do anymore, ending the battle with a win for Trosko.

Gliscor

Swords Dance Gliscor used to be a sleeper threat that occasionally saw usage on some balance teams but never picked up in usage in particular due to the abundance of fast threats that could revenge kill it such as Ash-Greninja, Mega Latios, and Mega Latias. This, however, didn't stop it from singlehandedly winning a surprising number of games during the first round of the tournament, which led people to realize how overstated its flaws had been in the past. Another factor that led to Gliscor's rise in usage was the discovery of more specially defensive sets, which allow it to switch into Pokémon like Tornadus-T and Hidden Power Ice Landorus-T more reliably and use them as setup fodder. When supported properly, Gliscor becomes a very difficult Pokémon to handle, and while it needs to set up to pose a real threat due to its low base Attack stat, it can still dish out early attacks on frail revenge killers trying to switch in on it like Greninja.

Mega Latias Magearna Serperior Landorus-T Tapu Fini Magnezone FMG vs Axel Mega Scizor Toxapex Chansey Gliscor Ditto Tornadus-T

This is a very long game where Gliscor shows how much of a lasting threat it can be for FMG's team. The game starts off with a very common Ditto lead from Axel facing FMG's Tapu Fini that quickly transitions into them switching in their Stealth Rock users and trading hazards. A bit later, on turn 8, Axel brings in Gliscor and starts a slow but methodical gameplan that consists of slowly wearing down what would be considered a hard Gliscor counter in Mega Latias in order to waste all of its Recover PP and win with Gliscor. This of course takes a very long time, so FMG has several opportunities throughout the game to try to push through with his own sweepers. On turn 15 Serperior enters the field and reveals to be a Substitute set with both Glare and Leech Seed, so Axel switches between Chansey and Toxapex until Serperior has used up some Leaf Storm PP to finally go to Scizor and force it out due to its lack of Hidden Power Fire. It doesn't take long for Gliscor to hit the field again and hit the Mega Latias switch-in with Facade, continuing with Axel's gameplan. Some smart switches from Axel allow him to get Gliscor in a few more times before FMG gets another chance to bring in Serperior. Once again, though, his attempt at breaking Axel's team proves ineffective, and he decides to save Leaf Storm PP for later and switch it out. Axel's Gliscor comes back in against Magnezone and is caught by a double switch from FMG to Tapu Fini. However, Gliscor's high Special Defense in combination with Poison Heal allow it to shrug off Scald damage and get off another Facade on Mega Latias as it switches in. Some turns later FMG decides to try to get the most out of his Serperior, and some well-timed Leaf Storms allow him to claim the first KO of the game on Axel's Toxapex in turn 102. From here, Axel is able to heal his Mega Scizor with Roost and switches Chansey into FMG's Tapu Fini to catch a Taunt and knock it out with Seismic Toss, while FMG gets some Moonblast damage to keep it low. FMG's Landorus-T comes back in, and Axel decides to sacrifice his Tornadus-T to a predicted Supersonic Skystrike to bring Gliscor back in immediately after. Mega Latias comes in once again, which gives Chansey the opportunity to heal the damage Serperior and Tapu Fini had dealt, putting FMG back in a tough position. Some more Gliscor switches later, FMG realizes that he soon will run out of Recover PP on Mega Latias, so he starts setting up with Calm Mind against Axel's Chansey. Axel gives up most of its HP to land a Toxic on Mega Latias and then switches to Ditto to copy it and use Recover. From this point, FMG struggles to keep Gliscor in check and is unable to break through Ditto with his Mega Latias due to Toxic damage racking up while Ditto uses Recover to heal any damage. The game ends with Mega Latias finally going down alongside Ditto and Gliscor being left to clean up FMG's Magnezone.


Closing Thoughts

The World Cup of Pokémon is now over, with US West taking the trophy home after several years of US Northeast winning uncontestedly. Certain metagame trends have been established and will continue to develop going into the future, with Ditto and Gliscor now being premier picks for balance teams and Gastrodon making a return as a common bulky Water-type. Make sure to keep up with the OLT playoffs, which will be starting soon, and the upcoming Smogon Snake Draft if you want to watch more top-level matches as the metagame continues to develop. Who knows what will be top tier next!

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