Aaron Zheng stuck with the combination of Drifblim, Tapu Lele, Garchomp, Arcanine, and Kartana that helped him win the Portland Regional Championships. Unfortunately, swapping out Metagross for Marowak doesn’t seem to have been enough to keep this team ahead of the curve in Indianapolis. But the popular Trainer had already earned his invitation to the 2017 World Championships, so he’ll remain a Trainer to watch in Anaheim.
Giovanni has earned quite a following as an ardent defender of Eevee, and his team highlighting the Evolution Pokémon at the North American International Championships may be the most interesting yet. His Tapu Koko was a tough puzzle to solve—with Brave Bird, a Fire-type Hidden Power, and Sky Drop available, there were a lot of ways for things to go wrong for Giovanni’s opponents. His Dragonite absolutely stole the show on Friday by winning a decisive game three from a one-versus-four disadvantage.
The always-innovative Jamie Boyt composed a team that included several strategies other Trainers chose to forego. We haven’t seen many Trainers give their Pokémon an Adrenaline Orb to hold, but we’re sure this Xurkitree’s unexpected item got his foes’ blood pumping. He was also one of the few Trainers to stick with the combination of Tapu Lele and a Drifblim holding a Psychic Seed that was so successful at the Oceania International Championships.
René’s team stands out because of his peculiar Nihilego. While most Trainers give the Parasite Pokémon a Focus Sash or Life Orb to hold, René enabled his Nihilego to function completely different by giving it a Choice Scarf instead. That selection limited Nihilego’s individual damage output and flexibility, but it gained a huge edge against fast, frail opponents, and it could set up knock outs for Tapu Koko and Celesteela with Acid Spray.
The reigning World Champion had a rough go of things in Indianapolis, but savvy Trainers can still learn from one of the brightest minds in Pokémon. Wolfe used a combination we’d seen from other players—a Snorlax that knew Belly Drum and a Ninetales with Aurora Veil—but his take on the Fox Pokémon was unique. He gave his Ninetales Light Clay instead of Focus Sash to hold, and taught it Disable instead of Blizzard. The suite of support moves gave it the potential to be a clever asset to his team—or to quickly put him at a disadvantage by giving up an easy knock out.
Ben fell just short of an opportunity to earn his third International Championship top cut. He went back to a team that was very similar to the one he used to make it to the European International Championships top-8 back in December. But while he selected the same six species of Pokémon, he probably caught opponents expecting an identical team off-guard with his Hariyama's Groundium Z held item, his Kartana's Aerial Ace attack and his Ninetales' Encore.
Each Pokémon on Rajan’s innovative team features its own delightful surprise. He was one of several Trainers that combined a Metagross holding a Weakness Policy with a Pokémon that knew Bulldoze and had the Intimidate Ability—but his choice was Arcanine instead of Salamence. With a Snorlax that knew Stockpile, a Tapu Bulu that possessed a Fire-type Hidden Power, and a Tapu Fini that knew Soak and Heal Pulse, Rajan put together a team to be proud of.
Sam’s team featured several tactics his opponents probably weren’t expecting. He avoided including the popular Arcanine on his team, instead using both a Gyarados and a Salamence with the Intimidate Ability. But the most surprising Pokémon on his team was Chansey—the unexpected Egg Pokémon was sure to scramble the plans of opponents who relied heavily on special attacks.
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