After 9 long swiss rounds, the first day of the European International Championships, held in Berlin, has concluded. Over 400 players from all kind of nationalities have participated in the biggest event held during this season, and it has been a great start for the Ultra Series format.
However, only the strongest of all have been able to advance to Day 2. These 38 players have won at least 7 rounds, and they will face each other in 5 swiss rounds to decide who will advance into Top 8. Then, after the Quarter-finals and Semifinals matches, we will know the names of the players that will fight for the title the next day.
The Streaming has been casted by Markus Stadter, Lou Crome, Sebi Ernst and Adam Dorricot. Thanks to their work, we have been able to see how the Ultra Series metagame has developed during the past couple of weeks.
Cats > Dogs
As we would have thought before the event had even started, Incineroar keep dominating the competitive scene. If anyone had any doubt about Incineroar’s viability in a metagame full of Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon, all of them have been answered. Since its Intimidate ability release, this cat has been almost mandatory in about a 95% of VGC19 teams.
Furthermore, only one person from the 18 people that have been featured on stream didn’t have an Incineroar in their team. The other 17 people did have an Incineroar, but we have seen a whole variety of sets.
Incineroar’s versatility is one of the widest in the format, and for this reason we have seen different moves throughout the 2019 season. Fake Out and Flare Blitz have been staples in Incineroar’s moveset from the beginning of the format (although nowadays some players are starting to drop Flare Blitz in favour of other techs), but there have been some changes introduced in the Ultra series format. For example, Knock Off was almost a mandatory move in the Sun and Moon series formats, however, players seem to prefer Snarl, Throat Chop or Darkest Lariat as they don’t rely on ‘Knock-Off-able’ items. Other options, such as U-Turn, Roar or even Protect are used as its fourth move.
In Sun and Moon Series formats, Incineroar used to carry either a Pinch Berry or an Assault Vest. However, we have seen more players opting for a Z-move instead of a defensive item, as OHKOing some big threats such as Gengar, Lunala or Necrozma is always positive.
The king is back!
Thanks to Groudon’s primal reversion and the new Fire typing that this involves, it can support Xerneas by dealing with Amoonguss, Stakataka or Mega Gengar, that otherwise would cause trouble for Xerneas. This is why we have seen a lot of teams from well-known players, such as Alex Gómez, Ashton Cox or Till Böhmer, that used this core. Players seem to like Gengar or Salamence as their mega evolution of choice, and use Incineroar, Tapu Fini or Amoonguss to support this core both in the offensive and the defensive side.
On the other hand, RayOgre didn’t have as much success or usage as the previous core. Players such as Alessio Yuri or Kimo Nishimura have used this core, and even though Kimo made a great 8-1 result, Yuree made a disappointed 5-4 and got Top 128.
Other cores that were popular in VGC16 have also seen some success. For example, Javier Señorena used his infamous XRay to get a 7-2 result, and players such as Daniel Oztekin or Wolfe Glick piloted YvelOgre for a 7-2 result, an archetype that won the Daytona Beach Regionals the past weekend.
Finally, we have seen the recently-added Ultra Necrozma, both in its Dusk Mane form that Alex Underhill used, or in its Dawn Wings form that players such as Nick Navarre or Luca Marcato used to achieve Day 2.
Higlights of the day
This sort of tournaments are usually the stage where obscure Pokémon choices shine, usually attempting to either break the metagame leading up to the event or catch the opponents off-guard. We’ve selected some of those choices as the highlights of the day.
1. Scarf Ogre and Ninjas
The first match of the day did surprise all of us with Porengan’s sets. First of all, he sent his Kyogre to the field, but the Blue Orb didn’t activate at all, as it was a Choice Scarf variant. Furthermore, he had two ninjas on his team, Greninja and Accelgor. The first one made use of its great offensive capabilities and wide movepool with Grass Knot and Hydro Pump, that threatened both Primal Groudon and Kyogre. It also used Ice Beam, which OHKOed the foe’s Mega Rayquaza with Subzero Slammer.
2. Shedinja headaches
It’s not a secret that Melvin Keh likes to use this annoying and controversial Pokémon, and we have seen that in Round 5. Shedinja’s Wonder Guard affects the opponent’s choices at team preview, as they have to be careful with both a common Shedinja or a Water-type Shedinja thanks to Tapu Fini’s Soak.
3. Shed Shell Stakataka
It was a completely standard game between Daniel Oztekin and Luca Maracoto until we saw Luca’s Stakataka switch in front of a Mega Gengar! Since that moment, the Round 7 set was a crazy one, and everyone was excited after seeing Daniel’s Stakataka use Skill Swap onto his own Kyogre predicting a Groudon switchin that happened, but after that Luca’s Stakataka used Skill Swap onto his own Groudon predicting that Skill Swap, and Dan’s Kyogre wasn’t able to go for a Water-type move to nuke Groudon.
4. Ditto and Bite Mega Kangaskhan
Round 9 streamed set, between two really good players in the form of Gabriel Agati and Nick Navarre, was also very exciting due to the fact that Agati used a Choice Scarf Ditto. It was able to copy Xerneas’s stat boosts and almost sweep through Nick’s team multiple times. We also saw how it transformed into Amoonguss, and used Spore in order to sleep a boosted Xerneas, switch back and then copy the opposing Xerneas that was asleep.
But the most hyped moment in that set was when Nick’s Kangaskhan used Bite onto Agati’s Lunala, that was about to click Menacing Moonraze Maelstorm and send Nails’s Xerneas to the PokéBall. However, Bite has a 30% chance to flinch, and in combination with Kangaskhan’s Parental Bond it sums up to 51% chance, and Nick was lucky enough to flinch Lunala and keep Xerneas at full health.
We have seen a lot of interesting sets and good players throughout this Day 1. However, only 38 of them have been able to advance onto Day 2.
5 swiss rounds and both a Top 8 and Top 4 are going to be played tomorrow. As always, from Victory Road we are going to keep you informed, so don’t forget to follow us on Twitter where we will announce every streamed set. So, having that in mind, who will you root tomorrow for?