Trainers at the Pokémon Video Game World Championships were prohibited from using Mega Stones, Mythical Pokémon, some Legendary Pokémon, and any Pokémon not found in the Alola Region Pokédex. The top-8 players in the Junior Division brought a mix of well-established strategies and surprising Pokémon choices, including Braviary, Xurkitree, and Stoutland. Check out more teams and tournament analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.
Nicholas Kan is a three-time International Champion, but despite his success, he’s not afraid to look to his elders for some guidance—this is the same team his brother used to win the Masters Division event in Indianapolis. The Kan brothers have shown a shared affinity for teams that are balanced on offense and defense, so a team built around the Intimidate Ability and Snorlax fits like a glove for either sibling.
We’ve seen many Trainers in the Junior Division pair Torkoal and Oranguru on their teams this season, but including Lucario and Celesteela, as well, made Tomás’ squad pretty unique. There are few Pokémon that can dish out more damage than a Torkoal holding Choice Specs, and Tomás provided it with some extra protection by teaming it with a Lucario that knew Follow Me.
The trio of Arcanine, Tapu Fini, and Kartana are normally used, at least in part, because of their defensive strength. But Wonn went all-in on offense by having his Tapu Fini hold Choice Specs and his Arcanine hold Firium Z. He put a surprising twist on another well-known combination by teaching Mimikyu Shadow Sneak and Snorlax Crunch.
Zachary finished in the semifinals of the North American International Championships with this “ultra” exciting team, and he made it to the semifinals again at the World Championships without having to make many changes. His team featured a Smeargle that knows Fake Out, Spore, Tailwind, and Follow Me to defend his many attackers—a Tapu Lele and the Ultra Beasts Pheromosa, Nihilego, Celesteela, and Xurkitree.
Cho’s team featured a two-Pokémon combination we don’t see very often—a Gigalith with the Sand Stream Ability used to increase the Speed of a Stoutland that has the Sand Rush Ability. Stoutland can dish out an incredible Breakneck Blitz by combining Giga Impact with its Normalium Z, or it can use After You to instead help its teammates act quickly (much like the Lilligant found on many Drought-based teams).
The two Pokémon that stood out most on Corey’s team are Braviary and Nihilego. The Valiant Pokémon’s Defiant Ability penalizes opponents who bring the Intimidate Ability—typically to weaken Garchomp and Snorlax—by causing Intimidate to power-up Braviary instead of weakening it. Nihilego is a tricky Pokémon to utilize because of its low Defense, but its exceptional damage output against Arcanine and the Tapu can alter the course of matches.
Trainers rarely choose to double up on Grass-type Pokémon, but Ren’s Kartana and Tapu Bulu both enjoyed increased Grass-type damage thanks to the Grassy Terrain created by Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Surge Ability. The key cog on this team is Mimikyu—Snorlax and Gigalith are both extremely slow, so it was vital that Ren’s Mimikyu successfully used Trick Room in many matchups.
William’s team is one of the most defensively oriented we’ve seen in a Junior Division competition. Five of his six Pokémon held Berries that can restore their HP, and even Oranguru’s Mental Herb is a defensive item that protects against Taunt. Arcanine, Tapu Bulu, and Politoed formed a cohesive defensive core, enabling him to make safe switches. Snorlax gave the team a way to deal some significant damage—and fit the theme by presenting a conservative alternative to the more popular Belly Drum strategy.
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