Explosive kick-off of the 2018 World Championships – Worlds 2018 Day 1 Recap

With Diana Bros’ win on stream against Chinese-Canadian Zheyuan Li, Day 1 of Worlds was officialy over both on stream and at the Nashville Music City Center. Over 270 Masters Division players from all over the World fought through 9 Swiss Rounds hoping to grab one of the 25 golden spots (9.12% of the player pool) for Day 2.

We will now take a look at the most relevant and successful teams and strategies that have been showcased today as well as the highlighted moments of the day while we wait for Day 2’s action to kick-off on 9 AM CDT (streaming schedule for over 30 countries here!)

Players advancing to Day 2

RecordCountryPlayer
7-0Cedric Bernier
7-0Jake Smith
7-0David Koutesh
7-1Brian Youm
7-1Javier Señorena
7-1Aurélien Lefebvre
7-1Roberto Porretti
7-1Akihiro Takahashi
7-1Kiwamu Endo
7-1Koji Morimoto
RecordCountryPlayer
7-2Alvin Hidayat
7-2Andrew Nowak
7-2Brendan Zheng
7-2Diana Bros
7-2Emilio Forbes
7-2Jeremy Odeana
7-2Nathaniel Innocenti
7-2Nils Dunlop
7-2Davide Carrer
7-2Riccardo Appamea
7-2Christoph Bley
7-2Matthias Suchodolski
7-2Rinya Kobayashi
7-2Yusei Matsumo
7-2Yuki Shimizu

Charizard has reborn from the ashes

Without a doubt, Charizard has been one of the most seen Pokémon through Day 1, both on stream and side-stream matches. After a constant but slow decrease in usage in the last months, due to the prominence of omnipresent threats like Incineroar and Landorus-T, a lot of players have put their hopes on Charizard to get through Day 1, like Cedric Bernier with his impressive 7-0 record, whilist others have fallen short by a single set, like Joji Kaieda from Japan or Collin Heier from the US, both finishing at 6-3.

Like always, Charizard’s most common Mega Evolution is its Y forme, which aims to abuse of the sun weather called upon its Drought ability in order to use strong STAB-boosted Fire-type attacks like Heat Wave, Overheat and Flamethrower. In order to further abuse of the weather conditions, most teams with Charizard-Y feature another Fire-type Pokémon of the likes of Incineroar or Heatran, both of them known for being good abusers and checks at the same time of Sun teams. As Cedric Bernier mentioned on his interview after Swiss Round 7, Incineroar might seem a bit overlapping and redundant to use with Charizard-Y, but his performance proved this assumption very wrong.

When it comes to the general team structure, Charizard teams seen on Day 1 follow the usual patterns of those seen throughout the season. Landorus-T becomes a prime choice and one of Charizard’s partners-in-crime, providing both a Ground-immunity and an Intimidate user to the team, which are extremely valuable assets when covering Charizard of its threats. Physical variants abuse of Charizard’s Flying-type in order to spam Earthquake freely while the Special-oriented Landorus usually pack HP Ice in order to get the upperhand against opposing Landorus, thus meaning both sets are to be expected and relevant.

Alolan Island Guardians are a must on almost every team, and Charizard-based ones are no exception. Tapu Koko and Tapu Fini are the most common choices of the day, although Tapu Lele has proven good success at multiple Internationals under Singaporean Melvin Keh’s team. The most offensive and straight-forward Charizard based teams are willing to do huge damage trades with Tapu Koko’s Gigavolt Havoc, Landorus’ wide array of moves and Charizard’s onslaught of single-target and spread moves, although more flexible and comfortable builds feature Tapu Fini, which helps immensely against Kommo-o and can use Icy Wind to support Charizard even when the Sun is active and its Water-type moves are reduced in power.

Last but not least, Pokémon aiming to assert speed control are a need with such an offensive but volatile archetype. Apart from Charizard’s Tailwind, a common choice this season, Cresselia and Porygon2 are both prime users of moves like Icy Wind and Trick Room, both suiting Charizard’s needs depending on the chosen approach. In the final slots, Kartana and Tyranitar are frequent as extra tools against Rain teams while being complete and effective Pokémon on their own.

RecordCountryPlayerTeam
7-0Cedric Berniercharizard-mega-y Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadcresselia Victory Roadkartana Victory Road
6-3Joji Kaiedacharizard-mega-y Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadcresselia Victory Roadheatran Victory Roadporygon2 Victory Road

As you might have noticed if you followed the matches on stream, Charizard-Y is not its only viable forme. In fact, 2016 World Champion Wolfe Glick featured a Charizard-X based team reminiscent of the one piloted by him both on his Top 16 finish at Boston 2015 and his win at North Carolina Regionals back in March. Unfortunately, Wolfe was defeated in Round 8 by Christopher Blay, meaning we won’t be seeing him on Day 2 tomorrow.

RecordCountryPlayerTeam
5-4Wolfe Glickcharizard-mega-x Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadmilotic Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadtyranitar Victory Road

Oldie but goodie

Another common choice of the day has been, to no one’s surprise, M-Gengar, extremely common on side-stream matches of the day.

The most successful players piloting it today have kept the traditional approach popularised by Alberto Lara and consisting of Shadow Tag’s abuse in order to remove key threats such as Incineroar with Gengar’s partners, like a Groundium Z-packed Landorus-T. Incineroar helps immensely when it comes to keeping the trap in play, both with its Fake Out + Intimidate combination that allow Gengar to stay longer on the field even with its pitiful defenses and with its slow U-Turn that permits Gengar to leave the field and re-enter at the end of the turn.

Most teams feature Tapu Fini which serves both as a Water-type switch-in and a defensive counterplay to opposing terrains, although Tapu Bulu was also featured on Gengar teams starring Kommo-o. Finally, other common choices include Kartana, which benefits both from trapping opponents weak to its attacks and the easy removal of Incineroar that Gengar + Landorus-T’s pin create. Pokémon such as Cresselia, Tyranitar or Amoonguss round out the most common approaches to the archetype.

Here’s a sample of some teams used today:

RecordCountryPlayerTeam
7-1Roberto Porrettigengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadtyranitar Victory Road
7-2Diana Brosgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadcresselia Victory Road
6-3Patrick Smithgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadheatran Victory Roadcresselia Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road
6-3Case Bongirnegengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-bulu Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadlatias Victory Roadgastrodon Victory Roadmimikyu Victory Road
6-3Tomoyuki Yoshimuragengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkartana Victory Roadclefairy Victory Road

Gardevoir is back

In a metagame full of M-Metagross and M-Gengar, it was hard to augury M-Gardevoir being popular at Worlds. Nevertheless, the Japanese players have proven its value very much like they did back in 2015 in the prior months to Worlds.

Gardevoir’s success doesn’t seem much affected by the nerf of its Pixilate ability, while Gen 7 has given her a new tool to further abuse of Trick Room and Hyper Voice in Incineroar, which covers Gardevoir’s back with Intimidate + Fake Out while dealing with opposing Steel-types more effectively than Scrafty did back in 2015.

Similarly to Metagross-based teams, Gardevoir enjoys having Tapu Fini and Zapdos on its side, allowing for a TailRoom approach to the archetype that gives extra flexibility and an element of unpredictability when it comes to determining which mode will be brought by the opponent when playing against it. Another common partner is Amoonguss, supporting Gardevoir both when attacking and setting up Trick Room thanks to its Rage Powder while abusing of Spore’s threat.

RecordCountryPlayerTeam
7-1Koji Morimotogardevoir-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadzapdos Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road
6-3Ryota Otsubogardevoir-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadrotom-heat Victory Roadgastrodon Victory Road

Highlights of the Day

The World Championships 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 5 of those choices as the highlights of the day.

1. Lycanroc

First shock of the day caught by surprise Wolfe Glick on stream during Swiss Round 2. Japanese player Ryota Nishizawa featured Lycanroc on its team, a very rare choice outside of Japan.

Thanks to its respectable 115 base Attack and a 112 base Speed that can be doubled under sand thanks to its Sand Rush ability, Kyota was able to put in a lot of work on his Game 1, both KOing from full HP Wolfe’s Charizard-X with a Splintered Stormshards, Lycanroc’s exclusive Z move, which also has the side-effect of removing any terrains in play, as well as threaten huge amounts of damage onto Wolfe’s Kartana with Fire Fang. Even though Ryota ended up losing the set 2-0, Lycanroc’s utility was well proven.

2. BoomLax

The Japanese never cease to impress the rest of the World when it comes to Pokémon. Round 4 showcased Game 3 between Yusei Matsuno and Nils Dunlop from Sweden, where Yusei’s team showed up some tricks under its sleeve, like Calm Mind Tapu Koko or Self-Destruct Snorlax. Both of those choices helped him take the set after a very effective play against Nils’ boosted Snorlax, and both players have advanced to Day 2, meaning we could be seeing some more BoomLax in action tomorrow.

3. Empoleon

When teams and matches seemed to settle by round 5, François De Lageneste proved us all wrong with his Empoleon making an appearence on stream at 4-0.

Back in 2009, Empoleon was one of the 6 Pokémon on Kazuyuki Tsuji’s Worlds winning team, but it hasn’t seen much competitive play since then. However, François showed its competitive value in 2018, where it can abuse of its Defiant ability to pressure Intimidate Pokémon like Incineroar or Landorus-T out (which are both threatened by Empoleon’s Liquidation as well) while supporting the team with moves like Icy Wind or Knock Off. François packed it with an Assault Vest, allowing Empoleon to become a powerful tank. Unfortunately, François did not qualify for Day 2, meaning we’ll likely not see any Empoleon for the remainder of Worlds.

4. Rhyperior

Rhyperior is not a stranger in high stakes of competitive play, but its usage is quite reduced. Nevertheless, Diego Montes from Spain and Collin Heier from the US both featured it on their teams. Neither of them qualified for Day 2, although Diego achieved Top 4 at Valencia’s Special Event a few weeks ago. Rhyperior’s main utility is the coverage it offers to Charizard-Y from Electric-type attacks thanks to its Lightning Rod ability, whereas it can still be an offensive behemoth under Trick Room with powerful moves like Z-Rock Wrecker (200 BP) or Earthquake.

5. Psych Up Mawile

The last highlight of the day is for Zhengle Tu, who ran a team with Psych Up Mawile in addition to his Belly Drum Snorlax and Trick Room Cresselia. Since a lot of players tend to play passive and attempt to either reposition themselves or stall Trick Room turns when dealing with Snorlax, M-Mawile easily counters those plays by copying Snorlax’s boosts with Psych Up at the same time it drops an Intimidate upon entering the field. Since Mawile has got access to priority moves such as Sucker Punch, it can very well keep the pressure out of Trick Room. Zhengle has lost his final Swiss round against Diana Bros on stream, Mawile has proven it’s a threat it should not be sleeped on.

Conclusion

Day 1 of Worlds 2018 has been a very intense day. 9 Swiss Rounds made it very hard for players to keep up their mental stamina while fighting some of the best from every corner in the World. However, more action awaits tomorrow: about a hundred players will be competing in 7 more Swiss Rounds and a Top Cut bracket until only 2 are left.

The Finals set deciding 2018’s World Champion will be taking place on Sunday, but you shouldn’t miss the matches of Day 2 (live on Pokémon Twitch and Pokémon VGC Twitch). On our Twitter account we’ll keep you updated minute by minute, both in English and Spanish, all the action of the 2018 World Championships that is yet to come.

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