Trainers competing in Day One at the Pokémon Video Game World Championships were battling for final seats in Saturday’s tournament. They were prohibited from using Mega Stones, Mythical Pokémon, some Legendary Pokémon, and any Pokémon not found in the Alola Region Pokédex. Tapu Koko, Arcanine, Garchomp, and Snorlax were the most frequently selected Pokémon overall, and the teams below showcase other tournament trends like pairing Salamence with Metagross, the Drizzle Ability, and some unexpected Pokémon choices. Check out more teams and tournament analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.
2011 Senior Division World Champion Kamran Jahadi brought what many Trainers may have expected to be the archetypical team featuring Salamence and Metagross. Kamran brought plenty of ways to protect Metagross after its Weakness Policy activates—Salamence’s Intimdiate Ability, Politoed’s Drizzle Ability, and Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Surge. This top Trainer proved he was also a top Tapu Trainer with some clever adaptations—both Tapu Bulu’s Fightinium Z and Tapu Koko’s support-oriented set, with Sky Drop and Nature’s Madness, probably surprised opponents.
Alvin’s team also featured the popular Metagross and Salamence combination, but his strategy featured several clever modifications. Pairing Clefairy with a Snorlax that knew Belly Drum gave his team a second duo that was sure to command opponents’ attention, making it harder to anticipate what he would do. His duo of Electric-type Pokémon could score quick knockouts of their own on Electric Terrain with some help from their Choice Specs and Aloraichuium Z held items.
The always-creative Gary Qian put on an exciting show Friday using a team that featured interesting takes on both Belly Drum and Rain. Most Trainers have their Pelipper hold a Focus Sash to help it use Tailwind safely, but Gary forewent support and gave it a Choice Scarf for some speedy offense instead. In place of Golduck, he used a Poliwrath that knew Belly Drum, and he included a Snorlax that knew that move, too.
Till was one of the best-performing Trainers who hadn’t earned a Day Two invitation to the World Championships before Friday, but he steeled his resolve using two intriguing Steel-type Pokémon. He added Togedemaru to his team and used its Lightning Rod Ability to defend his Tapu Fini and Celesteela from Electric-type attacks. While Celesteela may have been protected from electricity, however, it’s battles were still shocking—almost every Celesteela is taught Heavy Slam or Flash Cannon to deal damage, but this one unexpectedly knew Iron Defense instead.
Most Trainers in Anaheim were trying to follow or adapt trends, but Eduardo paved his own path entirely. The 2016 World Championships semifinalist has been outmuscling opponents with his trusty Mudsdale all season, and he gave the Draft Horse Pokémon one last ride . The combination of Arcanine, Tapu Fini, and Kartana on Eduardo’s team isn’t as popular now as it was months ago, but he showed they still make for a tough battle against any opponent.
2013 World Champion Arash Ommati came within inches of making it to Day Two using a team that had some surprising sources of damage. Instead of training his Arcanine to increase its defensive stats, Arash chose an extremely aggressive strategy built around the Choice Band held item. His Whimsicott stands out as exceptional—its Normalium Z held item allows it to use Z-Nature Power, which can become Bloom Doom, Gigavolt Havoc, Shattered Psyche, or Twinkle Tackle, depending on the current terrain.
We’d seen Trainers shy away from Tapu Lele before the start of the Pokémon World Championships, but Kaede’s team may send his competitors back to the drawing board. The Psychic Terrain created by Tapu Lele’s Psychic Surge Ability can increase the damage of Metagross’ Psychic-type attacks, as well as boost Mandibuzz’s Special Defense by activating Psychic Seed. Kaede taught his Arcanine Bulldoze to activate Metagross’ Weakness Policy, a major deviation from the Salamence most other competitors chose instead on Friday.
Estephan used very different methods to power-up his Metagross than did his fellow competitors—Tapu Lele’s Psychic Terrain increased the power of Metagross’s Psychic-type attacks, while the Iron Leg Pokémon’s Fightinium Z held item did the same for its Fighting-type attacks. Trevenant stands out as the most surprising Pokémon on the team. Pelipper’s Drizzle Ability negates Trevenant’s Fire-type weakness, making it easier for the latter to survive long enough for its Harvest Ability to produce Berries.
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