VGC 2020 has been a wild ride so far, and Isle of Armor brings new life to the format to keep things interesting. Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield have been massively popular games since their release, and have led to record sized tournament numbers through the Regionals and International Championships.
Since the beginning of the VGC 2020 season various rule changes have been integrated, shaking things up every couple of months and demanding constant team building innovation from trainers competing. Isle of Armor, the first of two DLC releases for Pokemon Sword and Shield, launches on June 17th, along with a slew of Pokemon not included in the initial release of Sword and Shield. Sure enough, this list of new faces includes many heavy hitters from past formats, including Amoonguss, Politoed, Scizor, Talonflame, Chansey and more!
Let’s take a look at some of these Pokemon, and dive into how they’ve impacted past formats they shone in!
Urshifu is the brand new pseudo-legendary Pokemon, being introduced for the first time in Isle of Armor. Urshifu comes with two different forms, Single Strike and Rapid Strike, bringing Fighting/Dark and Fighting/Water typing respectively. While Fighting/Dark is a combination commonly seen in the popular Scrafty, Fighting/Water is a far more unique typing, only shared by Poliwrath and Keldeo.
Despite the typing differences, both Urshifu forms bring the new Unseen Fists ability, allowing contact moves to bypass Protect and likely Max Guard. This makes Urshifu uniquely powerful if players can read into opposing Protects, as this effectively wastes a turn that decisions had been planned around. A large portion of doubles balancing has revolved around Protect being a constant in the past, so this ability has the potential to really shake up team building.
Though support Pokemon aren’t generally the face of a team, Togekiss has proven otherwise over the course of VGC 2020. One of the main reasons that Togekiss has performed so well up to this point is the inclusion of Follow Me in its move pool. Follow Me redirects incoming attacks from opponents, forcing moves onto the user regardless of the original target.
With Isle of Armor, the widely dreaded mushroom Amoonguss makes its Sword and Shield debut packing Rage Powder as an alternative to Follow Me. Anyone who’s faced down Amoonguss is past generations knows the level of board control it brings along with it, stalling with Black Sludge + Regenerator + Giga Drain, and spamming Spore + Rage Powder to heavily disrupt opposing strategy.
Rain Teams have been a very rare occurrence up to this point in VGC 2020. Pelipper as the main Rain setter in the format leaves much to be desired as far as staying power on the field, and impact to the board state. Pelipper has been pretty well forced to bring a Focus Sash, and rarely accomplishes more than a Drizzle Raid set + Tailwind before perishing.
Politoed is about to change all of this with the Isle of Armor release, hopefully bringing another weather condition back into the spotlight! Politoed brings the same Drizzle ability as Pelipper, but on a much bulkier body, with interesting move choices such as Perish Song, and the new powerhouse Sword and Shield addition to its movepool… Ally Switch!
Scizor will be joining the roster with Isle of Armor and looking to take over the Bug/Steel niche that Durant has carved out for itself in VGC 2020. While Scizor doesn’t have the same Speed factor that Durant does, Technician Bullet Punch hits HARD against a field as full of fairies as VGC 2020 has been.
Scizor will likely be a very common teammate on Rain teams, packing all kinds of resistances, and weather helping to mitigate the risk of Scizor’s 4x weakness to Fire. Bring your Torkoal and Sun if you want a chance against this metal bug!
Talonflame is likely to be a hot pick in the post-Isle of Armor VGC meta… where to even begin listing the perks of this monster. Gale Wings introduces the second priority-Tailwind user to the format (step aside Whimsicott). Brave Bird, the 120 BP recoiling Flying move is affected b Gale Wings as well, allowing Talonflame to dive bomb its way into any target at +1 priority, for heavy damage.
Other notable inclusions to Talonflame’s diverse movepool are utility moves such as Will-O-Wisp to control the physical-heavy VGC 2020 field, and Taunt to disrupt supporters like Togekiss and Amoonguss.
Though Talonflame generally relies on Flare Blitz to utilize its Attack investment, Overheat is another common option to get around Physical walls/Follow Me, and OHKO some of the common 4x weaknesses (Scizor and Ferrothorn) without taking any recoil damage back.
Chansey is a threat, previously discussed on Pikalytics, that has plagued many formats before this one. Utilizing game mechanics from Guard Split users (like Shuckle), Chansey tends to bulk tremendously, then Minimize/Toxic stall full teams to death while sitting back with an Eviolite and spamming Soft Boiled to recover HP.
This is an infuriating mechanic, which must be handled with moves like Haze, Knock Off, Taunt, and other assorted supporting moves to disrupt various steps of the Chansey Guard Split strategy.
Though Chansey is unlikely to jump to the top of the usage rankings, watch out for this strategy on ladder and at tournaments, as it will often steam roll anyone caught off guard.
These are just a few of the historic all-stars of past VGC formats. Other notable inclusions that Isle of Armor bings along are:
Isle of Armor looks to be an exciting addition to the VGC 2020/Battle Stadium Doubles meta game. Stay tuned to Pikalytics for the latest meta trends and usage rankings as the format begins to adjust!
See you on the other side, we look forward to exploring the Isle of Armor with you all!