Spotlight on Sao Paolo

Some of the world's top Pokémon Trainers are heading to Sao Paolo, Brazil, to compete in the Latin American International Championships from April 21–23, 2017. With big prize money on the line, battles are sure to be intense. Plus, August's World Championships in Anaheim are drawing near, and time is running short for Trainers to earn their final Championship Points.

The Latin American Trainers made a memorable impression at the 2016 World Championships with their spirited cheers for Argentinian Sebastian Escalante. Sebastian became the first Latin American Trainer to advance to the top cut of the Masters Division World Championships, and he followed up that performance by finishing as the top player after Swiss rounds at this year's Oceania International Championships.

Sebastian's fellow Argentinian, Federico Turano, also made it to Day 2 in Melbourne, finishing in 26th place. And many other Latin American Trainers have earned international renown through Battle Spot Rating Battles, most notably Chile's Estephan Valdabenito. Trainers should expect a challenge from Latin America's elite players in Brazil.

Top Trends from Melbourne

Only six weeks separate the Oceania International Championships from the event in Latin America, so winning strategies from Australia are sure to have an impact. Any recent winning team could reemerge in Sao Paolo, but aspiring Champions should focus their preparations on the following contenders.

  • Tapu Koko
    Magnezone
    Tapu Lele
    Gyarados
    Garchomp
    Drifblim
    Zoe Lou
    Oceania Internationals Masters Division Champion
Tapu Koko
Magnezone
Tapu Lele
Gyarados
Garchomp
Drifblim
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Taunt
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Focus Sash
Ability:
  • Electric Surge
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Thunderbolt
  • Flash Cannon
  • Magnet Rise
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Electrium Z
Ability:
  • Sturdy
Moves:
  • Psychic
  • Moonblast
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Thunderbolt
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Choice Specs
Ability:
  • Psychic Surge
Moves:
  • Waterfall
  • Dragon Dance
  • Protect
  • Flamethrower
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Sitrus Berry
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Substitute
  • Earthquake
  • Rock Slide
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Groundium Z
Ability:
  • Rough Skin
Moves:
  • Will-O-Wisp
  • Shadow Ball
  • Tailwind
  • Haze
Nature:
  • Timid
Held Item:
  • Psychic Seed
Ability:
  • Unburden
Hide Details Show Details

We wrote about Zoe's Magnezone following Oceania. Her Drifblim and Tapu Lele are also key Pokémon other Trainers may emulate.

Trainers have struggled to find reliable Pokémon to control Speed since the 2017 format was announced, and Drifblim is the first to match Porygon2's reliability. Drifblim is typically given either a Psychic Seed and paired with Tapu Lele, or a Misty Seed paired with Tapu Fini. Consuming a Seed activates Drifblim's Unburden Ability, which doubles its Speed. That, in turn, enables Drifblim to set up Tailwind and speed up its entire team. The Blimp Pokémon also enfeebles foes with Will-O-Wisp or Hypnosis and deals supplemental damage with Shadow Ball or Acrobatics. Drifblim should stay afloat for the remainder of the season.

Zoe's Tapu Lele isn't surprising for its held item or move set (Choice Specs with its most popular attacks) but for the way it was trained. Its Special Attack-increasing Modest Nature is combined with training to achieve near-maximum HP and Defense. We've seen the strategy of combining an offensive Nature with percentage-based damage boosts (Psychic Terrain and Choice Specs, for example) and defensive training excels at many World Championships. This Tapu Lele seems ahead of its time, so we expect to see Trainers explore similar strategies on different Pokémon as the season continues.

  • Persian
    Tapu Koko
    Snorlax
    Arcanine
    Tapu Fini
    Kartana
    Sebastian Escalante
    Oceania Internationals Masters Division Quarterfinalist
Persian
Tapu Koko
Snorlax
Arcanine
Tapu Fini
Kartana
Moves:
  • Foul Play
  • Parting Shot
  • Taunt
  • Fake Out
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Darkinium Z
Ability:
  • Fur Coat
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Thunderbolt
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Volt Switch
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Electrium Z
Ability:
  • Electric Surge
Moves:
  • Return
  • High Horsepower
  • Curse
  • Recycle
Nature:
  • Brave
Held Item:
  • Iapapa Berry
Ability:
  • Gluttony
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Flare Blitz
  • Snarl
  • Extreme Speed
Nature:
  • Careful
Held Item:
  • Mago Berry
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Calm Mind
  • Moonblast
  • Muddy Water
Nature:
  • Bold
Held Item:
  • Wiki Berry
Ability:
  • Misty Surge
Moves:
  • Leaf Blade
  • Smart Strike
  • Sacred Sword
  • Razor Leaf
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Choice Scarf
Ability:
  • Beast Boost
Hide Details Show Details

Sebastian Escalante leads the Latin American Championship Points leaderboard and finished 5th in Melbourne, making him one of the most important players to watch.

His Melbourne team included Tapu Koko and the popular “AFK” combination of Arcanine, Tapu Fini, and Kartana, but it's the remaining two Pokémon that stand out. Snorlax has been blocking Trainers' paths for decades, but recently it's become the most popular choice to thwart teams that rely too heavily on Trick Room or using Special Attacks. Persian is unique—it brings an extremely quick Fake Out and supports its team with Taunt. It can even heal incoming teammates with Z-Parting Shot, a largely new tactic to this season's Video Game Championships. Since his fellow Argentinian Federico Turano also used Snorlax, Arcanine, Persian, and Tapu Fini in Melbourne, we advise Trainers plan for these Pokémon in Sao Paolo.

Whether to Go with Weather

Choosing a weather-based strategy is one of the riskier—but potentially more rewarding—strategies to adopt for a large tournament. If too many opponents bring Pokémon that can change the weather, performing well becomes almost impossible. But the chance of success is high when the skies are clear.

  • Pelipper
    Golduck
    Tapu Koko
    Porygon2
    Muk
    Buzzwole
    Tommy Cooleen
    Oceania Internationals Masters Division Quarterfinalist
Pelipper
Golduck
Tapu Koko
Porygon2
Muk
Buzzwole
Moves:
  • Brine
  • Hurricane
  • Tailwind
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Focus Sash
Ability:
  • Drizzle
Moves:
  • Hydro Pump
  • Scald
  • Ice Beam
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Waterium Z
Ability:
  • Swift Swim
Moves:
  • Thunder
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Volt Switch
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Life Orb
Ability:
  • Electric Surge
Moves:
  • Return
  • Toxic
  • Trick Room
  • Recover
Nature:
  • Sassy
Held Item:
  • Eviolite
Ability:
  • Download
Moves:
  • Poison Jab
  • Knock Off
  • Curse
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Figy Berry
Ability:
  • Gluttony
Moves:
  • Superpower
  • Poison Jab
  • Ice Punch
  • Leech Life
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Assault Vest
Ability:
  • Beast Boost
Hide Details Show Details

Tommy Cooleen dove in with rain-based teams in both London and Melbourne, and he was rewarded with two top-8 finishes. We wrote about his genius decision to teach Pelipper's Brine already, and Tommy's team included two other gutsy Pokémon choices. Buzzwole isn't common in high-level play, but it troubles teams reliant on Porygon2 and pairs well with Pelipper's Drizzle. Muk presents risks similar to rain. Its Curse move can win games singlehandedly, but one shot from the popular Tectonic Rage Z-Move will usually knock it out. Despite Muk's lessened popularity since London, Tommy proved it's still a Pokémon to respect moving forward.

  • Tapu Koko
    Arcanine
    Tapu Lele
    Gigalith
    Porygon2
    Gyarados
    Ben Kyriakou
    Oceania Internationals Masters Division Semifinalist
Tapu Koko
Arcanine
Tapu Lele
Gigalith
Porygon2
Gyarados
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Light Screen
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Timid
Held Item:
  • Fairium Z
Ability:
  • Electric Surge
Moves:
  • Flare Blitz
  • Wild Charge
  • Extreme Speed
  • Will-O-Wisp
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Mago Berry
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Psychic
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Taunt
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Wiki Berry
Ability:
  • Psychic Surge
Moves:
  • Rock Slide
  • Stone Edge
  • Curse
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Brave
Held Item:
  • Iapapa Berry
Ability:
  • Sand Stream
Moves:
  • Ice Beam
  • Thunderbolt
  • Trick Room
  • Recover
Nature:
  • Sassy
Held Item:
  • Eviolite
Ability:
  • Analytic
Moves:
  • Waterfall
  • Earthquake
  • Dragon Dance
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Groundium Z
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Hide Details Show Details

Tommy was defeated by Ben Kyriakou, one of three Trainers to make top cut with a Gigalith that knew Curse and held an HP-restoring Berry. With so many Gigalith in the final stage of the tournament, it was almost guaranteed that Tommy's Drizzle-based strategy would eventually be cleared away. Another of the Trainers who used Gigalith—Nico Davide Cognetta—joined Ben and Tommy as the only players to make top cut in both Internationals. Note their teams—they've all shown serious expertise at forming winning teams for prestigious events.

Nico, Ben, and quarterfinalist Nick Navarre had more than Gigalith in common. All three also included Porygon2, Gyarados, Arcanine, and Tapu Koko on their teams. The way the Pokémon were trained varied between Trainers, however—facing down Nick or Ben's Gyarados (holding Groundium Z) required different solutions than Nico's (with Flyinium Z).

The Wildcard

Another team demands special mention. While few Trainers piloted it in Melbourne, the ease with which this team crushed two North American Regional Championships stands out.

  • Snorlax
    Mimikyu
    Hariyama
    Porygon2
    Araquanid
    Magnezone
    Gavin Michaels
    Anaheim Regional Masters Division Champion
Snorlax
Mimikyu
Hariyama
Porygon2
Araquanid
Magnezone
Moves:
  • Return
  • High Horsepower
  • Belly Drum
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Brave
Held Item:
  • Figy Berry
Ability:
  • Gluttony
Moves:
  • Shadow Claw
  • Destiny Bond
  • Taunt
  • Trick Room
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Ghostium Z
Ability:
  • Disguise
Moves:
  • Fake Out
  • Close Combat
  • Knock Off
  • Feint
Nature:
  • Brave
Held Item:
  • Flame Orb
Ability:
  • Guts
Moves:
  • Ice Beam
  • Thunderbolt
  • Recover
  • Trick Room
Nature:
  • Bold
Held Item:
  • Eviolite
Ability:
  • Download
Moves:
  • Liquidation
  • Lunge
  • Substitute
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Brave
Held Item:
  • Waterium Z
Ability:
  • Water Bubble
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Flash Cannon
  • Volt Switch
  • Hidden Power
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Choice Specs
Ability:
  • Sturdy
Hide Details Show Details

Gavin Michaels's teams are the only “hard Trick Room” teams to achieve major success this season. In fact, he seems to have struck gold. Selecting the right combination of Mimikyu (with Trick Room, Never-Ending Nightmare, Z-Destiny Bond, and Disguise Ability), Porygon2 (with Trick Room and Eviolite), and Hariyama (Fake Out) can almost always guarantee Trick Room is set up successfully. And the combination of Snorlax's Belly Drum with Mimikyu's Trick Room or Z-Destiny Bond (which causes attacks to target Mimikyu for the remainder of the turn) forms another potent combination we've seen many Trainers emulate. Expect to see this pairing—and perhaps the whole team—in Sao Paolo.

You'll be able to see all the top teams from Sao Paolo on Pokemon.com shortly after the event concludes. Remember to check back to Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon TCG and video game strategy and tournament analysis.

Back to Top