Pokémon

VGC 2017 Metagame Report January

Pokémon

│2017.1.23

VGC 2017 Metagame Report January

Author:Krelcroc(@Krelcroc)

It has been two months since VGC 2017 ruleset announced.
Players are trying hard to build team with their strategies and keep competing on rating battle and tournaments. So what’s going on with VGC 2017 metagame? We can check PGL Pokémon Ranking as usual but unfortunately, PGL is still not providing Pokémon Ranking for S&M Rating Battles.

Although PGL once announced Top 10 Pokémon on December 19th 2016, this usage stat is only for the early meta.
It has been a month from December 19th and meta has changed now.
So I made usage statistics of 100 players over 1800 rating on the last week of Season 1 Championship Battle.

Usage Statistics of 1800+ players

Rank Pokémon Number of use
1 Arcanine 63
2 Garchomp 56
3 Tapu Koko 51
4 Kartana 49
5 Tapu Fini 40
6 Porygon2 32
7 Tapu Lele 30
8 Celesteela 27
9 Nihilego 19
10 Ninetales-A 18
11 Metagross 14
12 Gigalith 13
13 Arquanid 11
14 Whimsicott 10
15 Snorlax 8
15 Gastrodon 8
15 Pheromosa 8
18 Mandibuzz 7
18 Gyarados 7
18 PorygonZ 7
18 Torkoal 7
18 Tapu Bulu 7
18 Xurkitree 7
24 Pelipper 6
24 Muk-A 6
24 Hariyama 6
24 Salamence 6
24 Vanilluxe 6
29 Milotic 5
29 Togedemaru 5
31 Liligant 4
31 Golduck 4
31 Talonflame 4
31 Marowak-A 4
31 Aerodactyl 4
36 Incineroar 3
36 Raichu-A 3
36 Mudsdale 3
36 Mimikyu 3
40 Primarina 2
40 Vikavolt 2
40 Smeargle 2
40 Oricorio 2
40 Politoed 2
40 Clefable 2
40 Krookodile 2
40 Kommo-o 2
40 Murkrow 2
40 Buzzwole 2
50 Gengar 1
50 Cloyster 1
50 Eevee 1
50 Espeon 1
50 Seaking 1
50 Oranguru 1
50 Golisopod 1
50 Clefairy 1
50 Sandslash-A 1

Compared to previous Top 10 list, Kartana, Tapu Fini, Nihilego and Ninetales joined Top10 eliminating Marowak, Gyarados, Tapu Bulu and Oranguru.

About Top 10 Pokémon

#1 Arcanine


Arcanine is dominating current metagame.
As you see from Usage Statistics, 63% of players have Arcanine in their team.
Arcanine helps most team with Intimidate ability and
Most players are running Arcanine as physical attacker with Choice Band/ Firium Z.
Common moveset is Flare Blitz/ Wild Charge/ Extreme Speed/ Close Combat.
If Arcanine holds Firium Z, Protect is used instead of Close Combat.
Arcanine can OHKO Celesteela, Tapu Lele and so on with Inferno Overdrive/+1 Flare Blitz. Even if opponent survives, Arcanine finishes remaining HP with Extreme Speed.
Bulky Arcanine with Flamethrower/ Snarl/ Will-O-Wisp/ Protect, Roar, Morning Sun is also common. This set is similar to Arcanine from previous VGC format. Most held item is Sitrus Berry and Aguav Berry. This Arcanine survives with very low HP most of time by weakening opponent with Intimidate, Burn and Snarl so Aguav Berry has many chances to get activated.
Assault Vest Arcanine using Bulldoze is getting popular lately.
There aren’t many Icy Wind users in this VGC 2017 so Bulldoze is viable speed control option and this Arcanine has decent bulk to do Speed Control continuously. Problem of Bulldoze is you should do Protect+Bulldoze or use Bulldoze with Ground immune Pokémon most of time because it hits teammates.
Arcanine is great counter for Kartana so more people are using Arcanine to beat it.
In addition, most fire type Pokémons in VGC 2017 are not really good so people are using Arcanine as their fire type slot.

#2 Garchomp


Almost every players are using Garchomp as physical attacker.
Popular moveset is Earthquake/ Poison Jab/ Protect/ Dragon Claw, Fire Fang.
Standard moveset for Garchomp has been Dragon Claw/ Earthquake/ Rockslide/ Protect for a long time but Garchomp is running Poison Jab now to deal with Tapus.
The most common item for Garchomp is Groundium Z. Garchomp’s Tectonic Rage can OHKO most Arcanine even with -1 Atk by Intimidate along with bulky ground weakness Pokémons such as Muk, Gigalith, and so on.
Tectonic Rage has 180 base power when the original move is Earthquake so it is basically good move for Garchomp to pick up KO.
Assault Vest is next common item for Garchomp. It allows Garchomp to survive unpredictable Hidden Power Ice, Moonblast from Tapu Lele and ice Beam from Porygon2. Garchomp cannot use protect with Assault Vest so this Garchomp use 4 attacks. Dragon Claw/ Earthquake/ Poison Jab/ Fire Fang. Sometimes Rockslide instead of Dragon Claw or Fire Fang.
Choice Scarf Garchomp is getting popular because this can counter Tapu Koko, Kartana, Pheromosa, and Nihilego.
Choice Scarf Garchomp doesn’t have to be max speed because its base speed is high enough with Choice Scarf so most Scarf Garchomp is Adamant with some bulk invested. By investing some EVs on bulk, Garchomp can survive HP ice from C252 Nihilego so Garchomp can even beat Focus Sash Nihilego.
Common moveset for Choice Scarf is Earthquake/ Rockslide/Fire Fang/Dragon Claw. Poison Jab is option to use instead of Fire Fang or Dragon Claw.
Scarf Garchomp is especially good in BO1 because it easily picks up surprise KOs.

#3 Tapu Koko


Tapu Koko remained Top3.
Tapu Koko has higher base Atk stat than base SpAtk stat but Tapu Koko is used as special attacker because Tapu Koko learns many great special moves such as Discharge/ Volt Switch/ Dazzling Gleam/ Hidden Power. On the other hand, Tapu Koko cannot even learn Play Rough so physical attacker is not popular.
Common moveset is Thunderbolt/ Dazzling Gleam/ Protect/ Discharge and popular items are Life Orb/ Choice Specs.
However, Discharge is not good to abuse if your team doesn’t have ground types so many player use different move instead of Discharge for 4th moveslot.
For example, Taunt, Volt Switch, and Hidden Power are common.
Taunt is really good against Trick Room. Most Trick Room setters are bulky enough to survive Tapu Koko’s Thunderbolt and set up Trick Room but Taunt doesn’t allow them to use Trick Room and sweep with their ace.
Volt Switch is useful when other Tapus took the Terrain. Breaking sash of Nihilego, Kartana and switching out is pretty good too. This is most common move for Choice Specs Tapu Koko to use instead of Protect.
Typical Hidden Power type for Tapu Koko is ice which can OHKO Garchomp.
Ground is also good for Marowak.
Recently some top players are running modest Tapu Koko to deal more damage. Furthermore, Tapu Koko outspeeds Kartana, Garchomp and many other Pokemons even with neutral nature max speed.
Electrium Z is getting popular because Gigavolt Havoc OHKOs Tapu Fini outside of Electric Terrain. It is appropriate to deal with increasing Tapu Fini. Moreover, STAB Z-move with Electric Terrain boost is strong enough to OHKO most Pokémons with 1X damage.

#4 Kartana


Kartana is a rising star in current metagame.
Leaf Blade/ Smart Strike/ Sacred Sword/ Protect with Focus Sash is common set for Kartana. Kartana is easy to get OHKOed due to its low SpDef stat so Focus Sash that assures Kartana to survive from any moves once is common item for it.
This has been the most popular and the only Kartana set in meta before but Assault Vest, Grassium Z and Choice Scarf is now considered as another option for Kartana.
Kartana runs AV when other member of team runs Focus Sash or there is Ninetales/ Vanilluxe which breaks Kartana’s sash with Hail weather. However, players worked on spread for AV Kartana and found Kartana can guarantee 3HKO from some special moves with SpD investment so sometimes it’s better than Focus Sash.
Common Move set for AV is Leaf Blade/ Smart Strike/ Sacred Sword/ Night Slash.
Grassium Z is used because Kartana can OHKO Garchomp, Tapu Fini even with -1 Atk, and Tapu Koko with Bloom Doom. Of course players invest some bulk for this Kartana to survive at least LO Thunderbolt from Tapu Koko. Instead of Sacred Sword Grassium Z Kartana runs Substitute because it can conserve their Atk from Intimidate and once it is successfully used, Kartana becomes really bothering.
Choice Scarf is really good in BO1 because of its unpredictability. Scarf Kartana easily gets surprise KO from Scarf Vanilluxe, Scarf Tapu Lele and so on. Getting surprise KO and sweeping with Beast Boosted Leaf Blade is typical winning pattern of Scarf Kartana.
When it comes to damage, Scarf Kartana runs Adamant nature so it has 56.3% chance to OHKO H4 Garchomp with Atk+1 Leaf Blade.
Common Moveset is same as AV Kartana but Guillotine, Razorleaf can be used instead of Night Slash.

#5 Tapu Fini


Tapu Fini was the most unpopular Tapu but its usage is growing recently. Perhaps top players’ success with Tapu Fini may have affected the meta. Common set of Tapu Fini is Muddy Water/ Dazzling Gleam/ Moonblast/ Scald with Choice Specs. Tapu Fini is basically slower than Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele so Tapu Fini can take away terrain from Tapu leads by leading Tapu Fini against them. For Tapu Bulu, Arcanine who is considered as the best partner of Tapu Fini easily counters Tapu Bulu. Also Tapu Fini is good against Arcanine and Garchomp with its STAB moves.
Lately, Calm Mind Tapu Fini is increasing because with one Calm Mind boost, it deals same damage as Choice Specs and it is able to use Protect.
Popular set is Calm Mind/ Muddy Water/ Moonblast/ Protect with Leftovers.
Tapu Fini cannot do much job without Choice Specs/ Life Orb / Calm Mind because its base SpAtk is only 95 and Misty Terrain doesn’t increase move power of specific types. However, supportive Tapu Fini seems to be viable too.
Wolfe Glick made Top 8 on Georgia Regionals with Heal Pulse/ Swagger/ Nature’s Madness Tapu Fini. This Tapu Fini buffs teammates with Swagger+Misty Terrain and restores their HP with Heal Pulse. Plus, Wolfe was 9-0 on Swiss Rounds.
As long as your teammates are not flying type/ Levitate, Misty Terrain prevents team from status affliction. In my opinion, this is one of the reason why Tapu Fini is good because Misty Terrain prevents some possible RNG that may mess up the game. For example, unexpected Freeze from Ice Beam and Paralyze by Thunderbolt.

#6 Porygon2


Porygon2 is consistently used among players.
It has decent bulk because of Eviolite and learns many useful moves.
Item of Porygon2 is fixed on Eviolite because 1.5 Def/ SpDef boost from Eviolite is significant. It enables Porygon2 to survive from high power move including Shattered Psyche of Tapu Lele in Psychic Terrain and sets Trick Room.
Common set for Porygon2 is Trick Room/ Recover/ 2 Attack Moves with min speed.
For 2 Attack Move slots, Ice Beam that can OHKO Garchomp and STAB move Tri Attack is the most common. Thunderbolt and Shadow Ball are next common. Return is also considerable because Porygon2 gets Atk boost with Download against popular Pokémons in current meta.
Toxic is also a popular move for Porygon2 because Porygon2 can even win 1 vs 2 by stalling with Recover after poisoning opponents.
Slow Pokémons with high Atk such as Arquanid, Snorlax, Gigalith and so on are useful teammates for Porygon2 because Porygon2 can set up Trick Room for this sweepers. Also Porygon2 OHKOing Garchomp with Ice Beam makes synergy with this sweepers because TR sweepers like Gigalith and Torkoal are weak against Garchomp.

#7 Tapu Lele


Tapu Lele is one of the strongest special attackers in VGC2017.
These days Life Orb special attacker is the most common set of Tapu Lele. Choice Scarf was the most popular set of Tapu Lele in early meta but players are now using Tapu Lele with Life Orb/ Choice Specs more because Tapu Lele can deal outstanding damage with it. In Psychic Terrain, Tapu Lele is able to OHKO most Pokémons with 1.3x/+1 Psychic.
Common moveset for this Tapu Lele is Psychic/ Moonblast/ Dazzling Gleam/ protect. Choice Specs Tapu Lele runs Thunderbolt instead of Protect to beat Celesteela on certain situation.
Among with Life Orb/ Choice Specs, Choice Scarf is still popular though. Choice Scarf Tapu Lele sweeping without allowing opponents to use priority moves is powerful sweep setup. Nowadays Hidden Power- Fire is viable option for Scarfed Tapu Lele to OHKO Kartana.
Even though they are running Life Orb, most players are investing bulk for Tapu Lele because Tapu Lele can survive from Nihilego’s Sludge Bomb with some HP investments. However, Tapu Lele’s physical defense is still low even with HP investment so teammates with Intimidate is needy for Tapu Lele if you are building team around it. I recommend Arcanine as partner for Tapu Lele because it helps Tapu Lele to survive from physical attacks with Intimidate ability and OHKO steel type that has Psychic/ Fairy resistence.
With Psychic Surge ability, Tapu Lele has great synergy with fast frail attackers like Pheromosa, so Tapu Lele is frequently-used for teams built around fast sweepers and Tailwind teams.

#8 Celesteela


Celesteela is well known for its Leech Seed + Substitute setup.
Lately, Flamethrower is trend for Celesteela to counter Kartana because increasing Kartana is problem for Leech Seed + Substitute setup because it is immune to Leech Seed and resists Heavy Slam and has notable physical defense. To make slot for Flamethrower, players are not running Substitute anymore so Heavy Slam/ Leech Seed/ Flamethrower/ Protect is common Celesteela set now.
Besides, new style of Celesteela set known as ‘Celesweeper’ is getting popular among players. Flame Charge/ Heavy Slam/ Earthquake/ Protect with various items (Misty Seed/ Groundium Z/ Wacan Berry are examples) is common physical attacker set. This works as sweeper by getting Spe Boost with Flame Charge and Atk boost from Beast Boost.
By the way, there is special attacker version too and special attacker is more used than physical attacker. Celesteela has huge SpAtk movepool and physical sweeper is easy to stop with Intimidate but there isn’t Intimidate for SpAtk. Most special Celesteela is used on Tailwind team or Trick Room team because it requires speed control to make Celesteela hit first to work as sweeper. Popular Moveset is Flash Cannon/ Flamethrower/ Energy Ball or Giga Drain/ Protect with Expert Belt.
Giving Assault Vest and using Air Slash for Protect slot is recommend set for special Celesteela because bulk is important for Celesteela to stay with boosted SpAtk.

#9 Nihilego


Poison type attackers are proper counter for Tapus and Nihilego is one that can OHKO most Tapus with STAB Sludge Bomb. Nihilego is becoming trend because it also deals considerable damage to Arcanine with Power Gem and beats Garchomp with Hidden Power-Ice after outspeeding it.
Common special attacker set is Sludge Bomb/ Power Gem/ HP ice/ Protect with Focus Sash/ Life Orb.
Nihilego has frail physical defense so Focus Sash is necessary for Nihilego to make move in front of physical attackers after surviving their attack.
Life Orb is also popular because Nihilego can 100% OHKO most Poison/ Rock weakness Pokémons with 1.3x damage boost. Some Life Orb Nihilego subtracts some SpAtk investment to make it get Spe boost from Beast Boost. After Nihilego successfully got its Spe boost, it hits Tapu Koko, Scarfed Tapu Lele/ Garchomp before they make move and OHKO them.
Trick Room Nihilego with some bulk is being seen recently. Max speed Nihilego is able to outspeed most-used Pokémons but it struggles with some Scarfed / over 103 Spe stat Pokémons. However, using slow Nihilego on Trick Room makes Nihilego can outspeed those fast Pokémons Nihilego struggled against and non-maxspeed Nihilego in Trick Room also outspeeds some most-used Pokémons that Nihilego was able to outspeed with max speed. Power Gem/ Sludge Bomb/ Trick Room/ Protect with Focus Sash is trendy set for Trick Room Nihilego.

#10 Ninetales-A


The number of Ninetales is suddenly increasing because of Aurora Veil.
Common Ninetales set is Aurora Veil/ Blizzard/ Freeze-Dry/ Protect with Focus Sash. Aurora Veil lowers damage for 5 turns so it gives advantage for damage race. OHKO becomes 2HKO, 2HKO becomes 3HKO and so on. Some bulky Pokémons like Tapu Fini is incredibly bulky in Aurora Veil so Ninetales works great for them.
Also hailstorm is proper weather to break Focus Sash of popular Focus Sash users(Kartana, Nihilego, etc).
Ninetales itself is extremely good against Ice 4x weakness Pokémons and some water types who takes 4x damage from Freeze-Dry.
Aside from this, Icy Wind is recommendable move for Ninetales. Icy Wind is a speed control move that deals a damage and force opponent unwilling to switch in. If you use Icy Wind, it will be great speed control option that helps team a lot. Moreover, some top players’ teams are running Icy Wind Ninetales now!
However you should give up Protect to have slot for Icy Wind.

What is current Top Tier strategy?

Tapu Fini / Arcanine / Kartana

This core is the most popular core among players on high ladder.
It is built around outstanding synergy among Tapu Fini, Arcanine, and Kartana.
Tapu Fini and Arcanine has great type synergy and bulk to do switch play. Furthermore, Tapu Fini and Arcanine beats counters of each other.
Kartana deals with opponent’s Tapu Fini, Nihilego and other mons that Tapu Fini+ Arcanine core suffers.

common teammates


OHKOing Muk-A and Arcanine with Tectonic Rage is perfect option for this core.
Garchomp for this core doesn’t use Dragon Claw at all. Fire Fang/ Flamethrower to beat opponent’s Kartana is frequently used.


Ninetales can set Aurora Veil and has speed control move Icy Wind which helps this core a lot.


Belly Drum/ Curse Snorlax is considerable option to counter Trick Room teams.


Misty Seed/ Sitrus Berry Mandibuzz is also popular. It taunts Trick Room users, beat opponent’s Kartana with Foul Play and learns Tailwind.


Tapu Koko is especially good for mirror match. Tapu Koko can finish opponent just using Discharge in late game.

Korean VGC player. 2012,2014,2016 Worlds Competitor

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