Reminiscent of a popular strategy from 2013, Shoma used Cresselia's Trick Room to help accelerate Amoonguss, who in turn used Rage Powder and Spore to protect Heatran. Amoonguss also uses Sunny Day to increase Heatran’s damage (in 2013 Tyranitar served this purpose). Shoma’s tricky Thundurus is set up very defensively by holding Safety Goggles and knowing Protect—perhaps a counter to the many Amoonguss Shoma expected to face.
We see a bunch of rather common Pokémon on Hideyuki’s team, but he put his own twist on them to throw his opponents off guard. Aegislash with Shadow Sneak is a good example, a surprising Ghost-type Physical move that has increased priority to steal Knock Outs.
Yosuke became the top-seeded player heading to the top cut thanks to a clear strategy and smart play. He used Kangaskhan’s Fake Out to give either of his two Steel-type Pokémon the opportunity to use Substitute. Helping Hand is more popular in Japan than anywhere else, so while Japanese players would likely expect to see Sylveon know it, it probably surprised (and frustrated) many other players in the field.
Entei stands out on Naohito’s team, a seldom seen option to fill the Fire-type role, but it was highly effective. It’s the only Fire-type Pokémon in the format that knows the powerful Sacred Fire move. With a 50% Burn chance (which also halves its target’s Attack), it allows Entei to continue to dish out big damage while impairing the other team’s Physical attackers.
Lajos’s team had the choice to go fast with Hydreigon with Tailwind, or bring out a slower team and use Gardevoir and Trick Room to flip the script. His Rotom is fascinating—it has the rarely used move Electroweb to give his team more ways to control team speed. It also knows Toxic which, while uncommon, is representative of Lajos’s reputation as a defensive player.
Daichi’s team is one of the more traditional Trick Room teams, with more sluggish Pokémon such as Tyranitar and Amoonguss taking advantage of the move. Once Trick Room is in effect, Daichi can also use his Heatran to hit with an Ice-type Hidden Power, as well as a handful of powerful moves from his usually slower Pokémon. On games where it’s not as advantageous to set up Trick Room, he can rely on Landorus’ Rock Tomb and Thundurus’ Thunder Wave attacks to control his opponent’s Speed.
Speed control is usually viewed as one of the most important aspects in top-level play, but Daiki made the top 8 without a single way to control speed. The one minor exception is Tyranitar holding Choice Scarf to help it overcome its natural slowness. Daiki’s Cresselia is especially interesting—a four attack Pokémon without the typical moves to support its team that we’re used to seeing, such as Trick Room and Helping Hand.
Hayato didn’t follow the trend of giving Kangaskhan Fake Out, instead going with Protect to help it stay on the field longer. Its teammates Amoonguss and Scrafty helped protect Kangaskhan through a mixture of Rage Powder and Fake Out while it built up its Attack with Power-Up Punch. His Cresselia has the usual Trick Room, but also knows the uncommon Hidden Power to give it some offensive oomph.
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