Now that 2017 has come to a close, it’s time to look at the top Pokemon Showdown teams of December! While Snorlax may end up being the king of January, December saw a fair bit of diversity on the Showdown ladder. Dive in below, as we look at the top archetypes of the month, and some of the niche outliers.
Before we jump into some of the specific archetypes which showed up through December, you may find the full lineup in our Data Mining spreadsheet found here: https://goo.gl/xfE8n8. These teams are all at the 1500+ rating cutoff, with a minimum of 500 matches played.
Charizard-Mega-Y has proven to be a mainstay in the VGC 18 format, as even the strongest checks don’t seem to be shutting these teams down. Currently, Charizard teams are looking more and more like good-stuff teams, seeing few flex slots rotating in and out. Not quite as oppressive (yet) but Charizard/Cresselia/Landorus-Therian/Snorlax is looking to be a very strong team core, and almost a new variant of VGC15’s CHALK. It will be interesting to see where this core goes forward, as more builders get their hands on it and tune things up.
Charizard-Mega-Y is a great lead for these teams, working nicely alongside any of the core really. That said, use caution when Landorus and Charizard are on the field together as a Wide Guard Aegislash shuts down a good portion of the duo’s moves. Snorlax and Aegislash both make for good cleanup Pokemon, who are able to take care of the tail end of an opponent’s team once their synergies have begun to run dry. A well buffed Snorlax is a very difficult threat to take down, though checked well by Kangaskhan. To make sure Kangaskhan can’t run freely, Landorus and Kartana make for good answers to it, offering 2HKOs via Superpower and Sacred Sword respectively.
Kommo-O has been a bit of a sleeper Pokemon, that’s recently come onto the scene and done quite well! That said, there isn’t a whole lot of complex strategy to discuss with regard to its playstyle. Once Kommo-O is setup with a Z-move, it can tank hits from most anything in the format. Kommo-O works very well in the cleanup role as it is able to produce massive AoE damage, buffing itself tremendously in the process. The main threats to a Kommo-O are the four Tapu’s, as their Moonblasts and Dazzling Gleams will often result in an OHKO. As long as a partner can check the faeries, Kommo-O can put in some serious work for your team, so it’s going to be worth consideration on many teams that include suitable duos.
Team strategies vary quite heavily around this 3-4 Pokemon core, so trainers can be creative in how they want to utilize the core. This gives the team a lot of flexibility in preparing for a meta, where you can bring all kinds of hybrid teams to compliment your core against whatever field you expect to face at an event.
The above leading Trick Room teams look fairly cookie cutter, with a few interesting additions. Porygon2 is the Trick Room setter we all know and love from VGC 17, even still partnered with its favorite Steel-buddy. As well, we’re seeing a lot of VGC 15’s main setter, Cresselia as a very strong player in the current meta. Alongside the two main pillars in the trick room archetype, Gothitelle still makes for a very acceptable replacement as the team’s main setter, and is seeing success in some more hybrid Trick Room teams.
Charizard-Mega-Y is a dominant partner to the Trick Room archetype (…and every other team in the meta). Charizard provides a strong offensive option for the matchups where the Trick Room plan can’t succeed as the all-in strategy. While it looks like a mere <1% Landorus-Therian are running a -Speed nature, Landorus remains an auto include on all of the above teams. Generally relying on an Adamant/Jolly nature, Landorus fits in the same role as Charizard does when the Trick Room strategy will not win on its own. As a purely good stuff role, the Tapus are continuing to shine in various styles of Trick Room teams, with Psychic Terrain helping the TR setters avoid Fake Outs and and other obstructions to the plan.
As far as Trick Room abusers go, Snorlax looks to be coming out on top, and taking down the meta. Even making its way into non-TR teams, Snorlax+Cresselia make for a very strong self contained TR package, that can take down a game all on their own if Snorlax is able to abuse the Recycle-Berry loop. Marowak-Alola makes for a strong check to some of the Fire-weak threats in the meta, such as Tapu Bulu and Celesteela. Lightning Rod is also a strong counter to Tapu Koko and other Electric users if the opponent isn’t expecting a switch in.
In our recent analysis of the metagame’s top pairs (http://goo.gl/Jz3f3m), the Pelipper/Ludicolo and Politoed/Ludicolo pairs looked to have relatively low win percentages against the field. While this was initially taken as Rain not currently being very strong, an analysis of this type is not a good overall predictor of the archetype. When we later crunched the numbers on full 6-Pokemon teams, some Rain teams showed up with very promising results. This leading us to believe that the lackluster duo win %’s may have stemmed from popularity of the archetype, and sub-optimal team-building as the meta was still quite fresh. As some players figured out what was working better, it seems some variants of Rain have become further optimized, and put up better numbers as a result.
As far as the rain cores go, there isn’t a whole ton to report on here. The rain archetype hasn’t seen a lot of change in recent years, with the main Rain setters being Pelipper/Politoed as they remain the only non-Mythicals with the Drizzle ability.
Ludicolo is the king of Rain abusers, and is present on just about every popular Rain team putting up good results. Rain teams will commonly run into difficult checks in Tapu Fini and Rotom-Wash which Ludicolo deals with quite well via STAB Giga Drain/Energy Ball. Swampert, while less used, is a very strong pick in the current meta offering a flex spot for a Rock, Fighting or Ice type Phsycial move, checking major threats like Charizard, Kangaskhan and Salamence respectively. The prominence of Earthquake on Swampert makes Pelipper the go to Drizzle teammate, so the move may be spammed without worrying about its partner.
The team’s pseudo-abusers of weather show up as Scizor (reduced Fire weakness from 4x to 2x) and Tapu Koko (allowing it to uitilize the Rain for a buff to Thunder). Between the Rain buff to Thunder, and Electric Terrain, this makes Koko a very strong Electric attacker allowing it to OHKO some threats more consistently than Thunderbolt, such as Salamence and Tapu Fini. Scizor is a strong check to Tapu Lele when you are able to mitigate Psychic Terrain with a terrain of your own, which Tapu Koko takes care of nicely.
Gothitelle turns the team into a bit of a hybrid Trick Room/Rain team, being used alongside Incineroar and Mawile (both likely sporting Brave natures). This allows the team to remain flexible at the matchup screen, depending on which strategy will better handle your opponent’s team before heading into the match.
There doesn’t look to be a lot of variance in Sand teams as it stands right now. As usual, Tyranitar will be the main setter for the team, with teammates aligning to reduce self-harm from weather. Unfortunately Tyranitar sports a number of weaknesses, so alongside its massive bulk, teammates must be setup to account for these. Amoonguss fills this role well with its common bag of tricks allowing Tyranitar to avoid a lot of damage intended to be directed its way. Landorus-Therian is a major threat to Tyranitar, which is accounted for with the Tapu Fini/Rotom-Wash/Milotic slot in the team. Rotom fills this slot better in many cases, as Landorus can easily outspeed Fini to remove large chunks of health before taking an OHKO. Rotom is able to take hits much better, alongside providing Burn control in Will-O-Wisp neutering Landorus for the remainder of the battle.
Zapdos provides very good checks to any form of Water threats to the team, while also providing Tailwind speed support to the team. With a Tailwind up, Fini has a much better chance of outpacing Landorus, so this is an important role to have filled. Zapdos is protected via the team’s choice Water user, as well as Excadrill’s Steel typing to keep all of the meta’s faeries in line. Metagross also does a fantastic job shutting down the Tapu’s, and may be used in place of Excadrill if desired.
In place of Zapdos, Salamence works quite well as another Tailwind setter option, and can pack moves like Flamethrower to handle Steel threats that may cause issues with the team’s captain, Tyranitar.
And there you have it, that’s a good chunk of the field on Showdown through December 2017! Despite a few pillars being prominent throughout many teams, the field is actually looking quite diverse, and in a lot of ways better than last year’s VGC 17.
Have any insights on what’s to come? Are we going to see a breakout of Snorlax teams soon, and who will step up to create an answer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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Until next time trainers, good luck battling, and thank you for all of the support you’ve shown us! You’re the reason we’re here, so it’s great to hear so much feedback from the community!
-Griff @ Pikalytics