Other Tiers Nintendo Cup '97 Hub


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Introduction & History
Nintendo Cup '97 is the oldest official competitive format in Pokemon history and would shape the way Nintendo makes GBU and VGC formats in the future. It introduced bans on Mew and Mewtwo, Team Preview, Species Clause, Sleep Clause, Self-KO Clause, and "Bring 6 Pick 3". This format was originally made to promote Pokemon Red and Green, and would even see matches televised on 64 Mario Stadium, Nintendo's TV show in Japan. This would all culminate into a national tournament at Spaceworld 1997 that would be won by Tōru Miyasawa, whose team was immortalised in the Stadium games. You may know this venue for being where Pokemon Gold and Silver would first see their playable reveal. This format would also become what's referred to as "Poke Cup" in English versions of Stadium, though it plays very differently due to changes in mechanics.

Today, Nintendo Cup '97 is often played by Japanese players, though without a good simulator (until now, though we have language barriers...) it's mostly played at real-life tournaments, such as the Historia Cup 2016 trilogy of tournaments, which was well-received and has some popular VODs on YouTube.

What makes this different from OU?
The differences between RBY OU and NC97 cannot be overstated. While you have "the usual suspects" clause-wise, the similarities end there, this format plays completely differently. Battles often end in less than 20 turns unless some Evasion debauchery happens, so you have to make every turn count. This makes it great if you just want to have a quick fight and don't have much time for anything else.

Players of formats like Battle Stadium and VGC can corroborate that teambuilding in a "Bring 6 Pick 3" Team Preview format differs significantly from how you would build 6v6. You have to make a team where most team combinations aren't objectively worse than others while teching in specific Pokemon to give yourself better matchups against different opponents. This style of teambuilding takes quite a bit of getting used to, and is probably one of the biggest hurdles to getting into the format. For a basic example, L55 Zapdos and Articuno is a decent combination where you can essentially run two cores at once, benefitting either bird and getting completely different matchups as a result.

Additionally, Nintendo Cup '97 features a unique ruling where you can use Pokemon with a range of levels from 50 to 55, and those entering the battle cannot have a combined level of over 155. This effectively gives you 5 levels to distribute amongst your 3 Pokemon going into a battle. Since there's no move relearner or breeding, this means that some moves are effectively locked out, or have to receive level investment to be "unlocked". For example, to use Dragonite or Agility Legendary Birds, you need to make them L55 and build around them from there. Factoring in the previous paragraph, this makes NC97 a much more builder-intensive metagame than RBY OU by a long shot. It's not uncommon to see people using Pokemon like Dugtrio, Jolteon, and Electrode to speed creep L55 Pokemon without investment. Generally, Speed is the most valued stat.

There's also a lot of stuff unrestricted here, like Freezing, Dig/Fly, OHKOs, and Evasion. This can make for a bit of a silly format, though the variance is significantly reduced by the sheer fast-paced nature of the format. You'll definitely still see it in action, though, and you will have games where you just can't do anything. The OHKO moves are surprisingly not that bad, in part due to the speed creep metagame and the nature of the moves not succeeding against faster Pokemon. Evasion is something you'll be seeing frequently, but it can be counterplayed through means such as Toxic, Leech Seed, partial trapping, PP stall (which is often quite easy due to not having much room for attacks) and more. You can manipulate the rules when challenging people to clause this stuff out if you really wanted to - Pokemon Showdown is very flexible - but obviously, this is never a standard, being official and over 20 years old and all. You're playing this primarily for the historical factor, after all, you may as well experience it in all its glory.

Because this is played on the Japanese Red and Green versions, there are some mechanical differences to consider as well, in addition to your usual mechanics;
  • The infamous 30.1% Freeze Blizzard is unleashed, which often prompts people to bring Pokemon like Jynx and Lapras to abuse it, as well as help stave it off.​
  • Swift doesn't have its "true" accuracy, so it isn't counterplay to Evasion. Bide still ignores accuracy, though.​
  • Draining moves fail on Substitute, just like in Stadium, though it still doesn't block status. You'll be shocked to know that the international games letting draining moves work was actually a glitch that would later become a feature!​
  • In V1.1 of Red and Green specifically, you could cause the wrong side to faint during partial trapping if residual damage is involved, which causes a desync. PS! presumably simulates V1.0 or V1.2, so we don't have to put up with it.​
  • Since the format happened during the Red and Green era, Yellow moves are often disallowed, though this doesn't make any substantial format differences. The biggest one is losing Bind Pinsir and Fly Charizard, for what it's worth. There's a guide I wrote about this here.​

Viability Rankings
To start this off, I'm going to be using Gold's VR from Pokemon Battle Historia, which we can build from. I compressed some of the tiers to make it more readable, but it shouldn't be a problem. I'll also include some abbreviated explanations for SSS-A, inspired by loose translations of their PBH pages. It's semi-ordered, but we can sort that out with time, eh? Each Pokemon has a link to their Strategy Dex page, which features sample sets.

:jynx: Jynx
Jynx defines the format. Being one of the best leads, it's possible to score Sleep+Freeze right off the bat. The main thing stopping it from being completely broken is the existence of Lapras; you can switch it in on the incoming Blizzard to quad resist and not lose all momentum. It likes to use Double Team to cheese after scoring sleep, but it can be PP stalled and often has to drop Rest for it. People often run Electrode to always speed creep it regardless of level, but Gengar is another good option for a more consistent OHKO with Explosion. Or, if you're a crackhead, you can lead Dodrio (or Tauros but that's only good against low-levelled ones) and OHKO it with Hyper Beam. It's very powerful, but not unbeatable; don't invest too much in it since it's often better spent on Tauros, Lapras, and other aces. You can absolutely invest levels though, L52 is quite good.

:tauros: Tauros
:lapras: Lapras
Tauros is very strong as always, with some variety in levels. L55 is the most common because you're piling all your investment in the best cleaner, and it outruns and OHKOes lower-levelled Jynx, which makes it a good lead. You can also carry stuff like Horn Drill more reliably since you're outspeeding a ton of stuff at that level. However, L52 can outspeed L50 Starmie and L55 Zapdos, so you can use this with Thunderbolt if you want. L50 Thunder Tauros is also a thing that 2HKOes L51 and below Cloyster. You're still using this on almost every team, regardless of whether you can pack levels in or not.

Lapras is often heavily invested in and can use Double Team + Rest consistently, but it can drop it in favour of better options if L55 due to already beating Tauros head-to-head. Note that L55 Lapras gets the jump on Victreebel and Cloyster. Generally, this thing is just ridiculously bulky and strikes back hard...being able to stop freeze is extremely valuable too, so you'll be seeing this thing a lot. If you're using the Double Team + Rest strategy, watch out for Toxic and try to take paralysis if possible. If you can't figure out a 6th, Lapras will probably fill it. It's very droppable though, in my opinion.

:electrode: Electrode
:jolteon: Jolteon
:exeggutor: Exeggutor
:alakazam: Alakazam
:gengar: Gengar
Electrode and Jolteon are low-cost, high-Speed Electrics, which in this format are much more valuable than Zapdos since you can dump more levels into your other Pokemon. However, L52-ish Electrode can Explode on Jynx, and Jolteon sometimes has levels invested to dunk on Lapras. The biggest value of these, in my opinion, is their near-uncontested paralysis in a format where you're not likely to see Rhydon anywhere near as much. These two are just really helpful and can really take over games if you know what you're doing.

Exeggutor suffers greatly from Jynx's dominance, being a better sleeper and having a nuclear Blizzard. However, it is still very serviceable because of its ridiculous stats and Electric resistance, which lets it help prevent Jolteon from becoming too dominant. Plus, having an Explosion to finish off the opponent once they've had one or two Pokemon disabled is really, really fun. Leech Seed can help against evasion, so if you're one of the 5 remaining people who use that in regular OU, this may be just the format for you.

Alakazam usually wants to be L52 or higher to pre-empt L55 Gengar and Tauros, but it doesn't have many clearly losing matchups, so it's worth it. It profits a lot from Evasion Clause not being around since it can use Double Team + Recover to often last a while. It's very risky considering its fragility and drastically lessened attacking PP though. Same old Alakazam, no truly losing matchup, always a nice Pokemon if you're not sure what to run.

Gengar has a faster sleep than Jynx and can even Explode on it if need be, which makes it a good pick for more aggressive teams that can afford a drop in consistency. It's usually run without level investment, but increasing it can help it outrun stuff like Starmie. Being immune to Toxic and Wrap is super helpful as well. Gengar can serve as a makeshift Electric-type if you're not fond of them for whatever reason, and with Electrode being eager to Explode, it's not a bad strategy.

:dugtrio: Dugtrio
:starmie: Starmie
:rhydon: Rhydon
:zapdos: Zapdos
:venusaur: Venusaur
:nidoking: Nidoking
Dugtrio, like the Electrics, is a low-cost, high-Speed Pokemon, and acts as a helpful answer to them. As you would also expect, being fast and having access to Fissure can be funny. L53 will outspeed L50 Jolteon. Its last slot is a bit more valuable, as Toxic can force out Double Team users if shit hits the fan. Substitute can also be fun as always.

Starmie makes a good L55 ace; same old Starmie, only it's got more advantages in a Bring 6 Pick 3 format, plus Minimize to give it an edge in PP stall situations against opposing Double Team users. Since it's so fast, you can often use the L50 one and still outrun stuff while threatening with its amazing coverage. It tends to struggle against Alakazam if it isn't invested in, though, and is often just a Thunder Wave bot. Use at L55 with an L55 Tauros as your second ace for best results.

Rhydon absolutely despises Lapras but has the bulk and power to act as a very convincing stop to the Electrics as usual. Substitute is funny against Mega Drain Exeggutor, I guess. You should already know what Rhydon wants to do. However, one very big change exists in its access to Blizzard, which can allow it to somewhat viably fish for a freeze; use Substitute + Blizzard to freeze Starmie for maximum seething. It can also farm Double Team against Electric-types if you're that kind of person but don't actually use Double Team Rhydon. Run Horn Drill on a paralysis-spamming team if you're a masochist.

Zapdos often requires you to invest it to L55 for Agility, which limits what teams it can be placed on. Lower-levelled ones do exist though and end up using Thunder for OHKOing Slowbro and 2HKOing Tauros. Just be prepared for a lengthy battle against Jolteon and/or Electrode. Generally, it's the same Zapdos you've been fighting for the past few decades, only it now has to contend with L55 Nidoking and more prevalent Blizzards.

Venusaur despises the Blizzard-infested environment but the existence of Razor Leaf and consistent sleep are its saving grace. You can 2HKO Lapras or put it to sleep before it starts getting out of hand, and with investment, it can often take a nasty hit to still get the sleep off. It's a shame it's just a hair short of outrunning L50 Jynx at L55. Access to Leech Seed gives it unique counterplay to evasion as well, which I like using.

Nidoking is a very strong L55 pick, and it can act as a decent alternative to Rhydon in the Electric-stomping effort since it one-shots all of them with Earthquake. Being immune to Toxic on top of this is a nice boon to your Lapras usage as well. Plus, it ties L51 Jynx when invested in here, so you can really hammer it. You're also likely to beat Lapras and the other top tiers with Thunder or even Thunderbolt or carry something silly like Horn Drill. Its Speed is extremely important and a large part of why it's viable. Having a stronger Blizzard is also far more valuable in this format, making it more threatening than "oh it's just gonna try and freeze". Now it's "oh fuck it's gonna try and freeze"!

:victreebel: Victreebel
:cloyster: Cloyster
Victreebel is a bit less valuable than Venusaur for a change, due to a lack of access to Leech Seed and worse bulk. You'll often be using this at L55 because of this, as you'll live two Chansey Blizzards and one Articuno Blizzard while increasing the damage of Wrap. +2 Hyper Beam at that level one-shots even L53 Jolteon too, which is very nice. You can also 2HKO L50 Starmie with Razor Leaf! There's a lot of cool stuff here.

Cloyster is another decent partial trapper, which works well on ToxWrap teams like Victreebel. It's also a bit more important than usual with Tauros often getting pumped full of levels. You may want to use it at L51 to handle a Jolteon/Starmie Thunderbolt. It's not really changed, except for its Surf slot sometimes being allocated to Toxic for the incoming Lapras.

:moltres: Moltres
:dragonite: Dragonite
Moltres is buffed with Jynx's increased presence, which actually makes it a serviceable counter-lead to OHKO with Fire Blast; note that Jynx is often used at L50, so you'll have the Speed advantage with level investment at L53+. If you want the funny AgiliSpin combo, you'll need to be at L55, so this can work against you if someone knows that; expect a Toxic from them in that case! While it despises the Blizzard-heavy metagame, if anything, it's better than usual. Fly abuse also exists.

Dragonite is locked to L55 due to the metagame's restrictions, but outside of that, it's the same as ever. AgiliWrap exists, massive movepool, the catch-22 of Wrap + Thunder Wave, it's all there. The only issue is it's dying if a cold breeze blows in its general direction, and less paraspam puts it in a weird spot in the Speed department.

:nidoqueen: Nidoqueen
:golem: Golem
These Pokemon are basically less viable but usable versions of their counterparts; Nidoqueen is a worse Nidoking, Golem is a worse Rhydon.

Nidoqueen has basically nothing over Nidoking but remains viable solely for the fact it's a Nido and can take Blizzards and Psychics a bit better. Make sure you know what you're doing if you're going to pick it; analyze both Nidos and see if your team could use the calls. You won't, but it's the thought that counts.

Golem has Explosion if your team needs it, which with Snorlax's decrease in usage, is a serviceable choice. Nothing else to really say, it's the GolDon debate all over again.

:rapidash: Rapidash
:slowbro: Slowbro
:chansey: Chansey
:snorlax: Snorlax
:articuno: Articuno
Rapidash is the fastest Fire-type and has access to Horn Drill and Agility, which makes it a very strong and cheesy Pokemon on its own. AgiliSpin is sometimes forgone in favour of Horn Drill since Toxic is regularly run now, and this naturally threatens any Fire Spin usage. Run at L52+ to take an Exeggutor Explosion, which it'll often do after being roasted by Fire Blast. Definitely an interesting pick, but don't run it like a crackhead.

Slowbro, Chansey, and Snorlax aren't bad Pokemon, but they all suffer from the same issues: as bulky and slow as they are, it's not as important when they're so easy to put in the ground with OHKO moves, Toxic + partial trapping, explosions, crits, and Blizzard freeze. The offence in this tier is just really strong and their defensive profiles are less valued. However, they are all usable for the same reasons as regular OU, and with paralysis support, they can absolutely work; plus, since they're so slow, you don't really need to allocate levels for Speed creep, so they are also low-cost. Slowbro's Amnesia can let it overwhelm teams if given breathing room, Chansey remains the blob of bulk it's always been, and Snorlax has amazing offensive potential and Self-Destruct access.

Articuno has the strongest Blizzard - the strongest unboosted special attack in the game, in fact - which makes it a strong pick for teams. L55 is required for Agility, but it's not a massive concern and is very usable without it. Articuno is deceptively bulky, so it can even run Double Team + Rest if needed. Fly access is also quite funny if you want to sit in the air all day after being paralyzed.

:charizard: Charizard
:ninetales: Ninetales
:tentacruel: Tentacruel
:dewgong: Dewgong
:kangaskhan: Kangaskhan
Charizard has a wide movepool with access to Slash, Swords Dance, Earthquake, Dig, and more. Plus, an immunity to Ground-type moves is nice. The big-ticket thing it likes, though, is the ability to lock down lead Jynx. It can OHKO it 33.3% of the time with Fire Blast, which with a couple of Fire Spins, is guaranteed! Just remember it can't fly yet...Yellow gave it that, but you can use Dig instead if you want to abuse the semi-invulnerability glitch. It's also really, really weak to Thunderbolt and Blizzard, which you see everywhere, so Charizard has trouble.

Ninetales is similar to Charizard, only it's not weak to BlizzBolt coverage and has higher Special. It OHKOes Jynx pretty much every time with Fire Blast right out of the gate, since it has higher Special. It has Dig too, which lets it abuse semi-invulnerability like Charizard. It's pretty much the same outside of that, only it dies to Earthquake instead.

Tentacruel is the fastest user of Wrap and has access to the funny Blizzard, which gives it a lot of potential utility. It really, really hates the moves being thrown around though; it's still got the potential to be OHKOed by freeze, Thunderbolt, and Earthquake. Jolteon's omnipresence really hurts this poor bastard.

Dewgong is pure cheese; Double Team + Rest, Horn Drill, Blizzard freeze, it's all there. The main issue is there's little reason to use it over Lapras bar Speed.

Kangaskhan can outspeed and OHKO Jynx at L55 with Hyper Beam, which is absolutely hilarious. It also has Rock Slide to hit Articuno and Moltres, unlike Tauros. However, unless you're using both it and Tauros, there is little reason to use Kangaskhan on a team. In which case, it's a nice alternative ace for the purpose of getting better matchups. The Rock Slide access really helps here!

:blastoise: Blastoise
:venomoth: Venomoth
:magneton: Magneton
:dodrio: Dodrio
:onix: Onix
:hypno: Hypno
:marowak: Marowak
:gyarados: Gyarados
:vaporeon: Vaporeon
:flareon: Flareon

:raichu: Raichu
:sandslash: Sandslash
:clefable: Clefable
:parasect: Parasect
:persian: Persian
:poliwrath: Poliwrath
:tangela: Tangela
:mr-mime: Mr. Mime
:electabuzz: Electabuzz
:omastar: Omastar

When nominating VR changes, ensure the following;
  • There's proper evidence to support your claim. Replays and calculations are very helpful here. Theorymon is good, but testfiring your stuff is better. Remember, we're all new to this 24-year-old metagame.
  • You've played the metagame and can demonstrate your knowledge of the subject when constructing your point. TL;DR, post intelligently.

This will expand as more resources are produced.
:jynx: Pokemon Battle Historia
A Japanese website dedicated to Gen 1-2 run by Gold, centred on Nintendo's official formats, which are how they're played over there. They have their own analyses and VR from Gold's point of view.

:jynx:Levels & Moves in Nintendo Formats
A guide that basically tells you how to not fuck up in the builder, showing level restrictions for moves alongside anything outright lost. This guide shows lost Yellow moves as well, though it's much less important.

RoA Sample Teams
Sample teams from players of the metagame will be stored here. Updated periodically, and I'm open to submissions if you DM me!
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Thank you for the great thread!
I think that Japanese Gen1 metagame is well researched by Plague von Karma.
As far as I can see, there is no erroneous description.
(I specialize in Gen2 and not Gen1, but I've heard information about Japanese Gen1 metagames.)

It's also interesting to say that NC97 is "builder-intensive metagame".
"Bring 6 Pick 3" and level restrictions are the same for Gen2 NC2000, and probably NC2000 is also "builder-intensive metagame".

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