American Carson Confer used a similar approach to building his team as his finalist opponent Yuki Wata—putting his own spin on a well-explored archetype. Carson’s Thundurus was taught Hidden Power and held a Life Orb, giving him the opportunity to get important, unexpected knockouts against his opponents’ restricted Pokémon. The other big twist from Carson was using both Cresselia and Bronzong on his team instead of just one or the other, which we hadn’t seen from a team built around Kyogre and Groudon before.
Yuki Wata represented Japan by using some popular Pokémon in unconventional ways. Yuki’s Groudon knows only special attacks instead of the physical attacks we normally see from Groudon paired with Xerneas. Groudon’s Thunderbolt was especially surprising, and probably helped Yuki defeat plenty of opposing Kyogre and Talonflame. Yuki also broke the mold by teaching Talonflame Snatch. We don’t see Snatch very often, but Snatching away a key move can completely change the course of a match.
Mostafa Afr from the United States was one of the only Trainers we’ve seen select Terrakion this season. Terrakion is extremely effective against Kangaskhan, but it struggles against many other popular Pokémon. Mostafa tried to get around this by teaching Whimsicott Beat Up. Terrakion and Whimsicott are one of the classic combinations of the Video Game Championships, and a Terrakion with its Attack increased four levels through its Justified Ability can take out even restricted Pokémon.
Kazuki Ogushi of Japan was another player that put an interesting spin on some familiar Pokémon. Kazuki’s Groudon specialized in special attacks, and it was taught Thunder Wave so that it could slow down opposing Pokémon. Fake Out is a great attack, but it probably surprised opponents to see it from Smeargle. Speaking of surprises, it isn’t unheard of to see Roar or Tailwind from Salamence, but this Salamence using both instead of Protect is a very original strategy.
Hong Ju Young represented South Korea with some Pokémon we didn’t see on many other teams. Mawile was one of the most popular Mega-Evolved Pokémon at the 2014 World Championships, but we haven’t seen it very frequently since. Young even taught it Fire Fang instead of the more common Iron Head to help it take down other Steel-type Pokémon. The coolest Pokémon on Hong Ju Young’s team was probably the Landorus Therian Forme holding Life Orb. Typically Landorus is taught physical attacks in this Forme to take advantage of its sky-high Attack, but Young took a hit in raw power to maintain the Intimidate Ability Landorus only has in its Therian Forme.
Nils Dunlop was the only player to represent Sweden in the top cut of any age division at the Video Game World Championships this year. He was one of the only Trainers to use Aegislash in San Francisco, a Pokémon that can deal massive damage to Xerneas by using its Gyro Ball move. Gyro Ball’s damage is determined by how slow Aegislash is relative to its opponent, so Nils gave Aegislash an Iron Ball to hold to reduce its Speed and increase Gyro Ball’s damage. The Coba Berry Amoonguss holds isn’t something we see very often either, but it can allow Amoonguss to endure a Dragon Ascent from Rayquaza and stay on the battlefield.
Daravone Souphommanychanh of Canada used the powerful combination of Kyogre and Groudon. Daravone’s Groudon has a Jolly Nature to give his team a quicker option, while Kyogre has a Quiet Nature to work with the slower strategy enabled by Bronzong’s Trick Room. Salamence’s Tailwind and Thundurus’ Thunder Wave can help either restricted Pokémon outspeed the competition.
The team used by former Junior Division World Champion Brendan Zheng will probably look familiar if you followed the livestream of the Pokémon World Championships. He used the same Hitmontop, Rayquaza, Gengar, Kyogre, Raichu, and Bronzong team that Wolfe Glick took to the finals. Brendan’s brother Aaron similarly used Wolfe’s team the last time he made the finals of the World Championships in 2012… where Aaron also lost in the top-8.
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