Wild Area News – A review of the new Gigantamax forms for Series 4

Series 3 is coming to a close very soon, which means that a new format, Series 4, is approaching. With it comes a handful of new Gigantamax forms allowed in competitive VGC 2020 matches.

Only a few Gigantamax forms have actually seen a substantial amount of play in the past, often because the effect you get from regular Dynamax moves is generally superior, or because the Pokémon’s base form is considered weak and unpopular.

This article will break down all new G-Max forms introduced in Series 4, assessing their potential and whether they’re about to see much play at all. If you’re interested on jumping right into play, check out our VR May Challenge, an online tournament held this next weekend (May 2 & 3), already with the new format in play.

duraludon-gmax Duraludon

Duraludon has been a popular offensive choice for months now, and also a popular Dynamax candidate. Duraludon’s new G-Max form replaces the Dragon-type Max Wyrmwind with the new move G-Max Depletion. Instead of lowering the Attack of the opponent, G-Max Depletion makes it so that the opponent loses 2 PP on their last used move.

Duraludon using G-Max Depletion

This is one of the least impressive G-Max moves we have seen so far, especially in doubles where the strategy of PP stalling (extending the battle until the opponent runs out of PP on certain key moves) practically never comes into play.

In a metagame like VGC 2020, where matches are decided by big tempo swings and the players getting the most value out of their D-Max and G-Max turns, reducing PP simply doesn’t affect the game enough for G-Max Duraludon to be useful in any real way. On the other hand, having the ability to reduce your opponent’s Attack with a normal Max Wyrmwind will almost always come in handy, which is why you should expect to keep on seeing regular D-Max Duraludon often.

copperajah-gmax Copperajah

Cooperajah has seen little to no competitive play so far. Can this new G-Max move change that? The answer is probably not.

Its signature move G-Max Steelsturge replaces Max Steelspike and sets up a Steel-type entry hazard on the opposing field, similar to Stealth Rock or Spikes. The opposing Pokémon will lose from 3.125% to 50% of their HP upon entering the field, depend on how their typing matches against Steel-type. As with all entry hazards, Defog and Rapid Spin removes it and Pokémon with the Magic Guard ability are unaffected.

Copperajah’s G-Max Steelsurge in play

Just like PP stalling, entry hazards are pretty much useless in doubles play, exactly for the same reason: this meta is all about getting the most from a few key turns, and spending your G-Max Pokémon’s turns to set up an entry hazard is not going to cut it.

To its merits, G-Max Steelsurge feels slightly better than G-Max Depletion because of the abundance of weak targets like Togekiss and Tyranitar. But here again, if you absolutely want to use Cooperajah, you’re probably going to appreciate the Defense boosts your team gets from a normal Max Steelspike a lot more than G-Max Steelsurge’s effects.

machamp-gmax Machamp

Machamp has also seen very little competitive play so far this season. G-Max Chi Strike replaces Max Knuckle and boosts the user’s and its partner’s critical hit rate by one.

Machamp’s fists launch a powerful G-Max Chi Strike

It should be noted that G-Max Chi Strike’s effects are stackable (if you use it twice, your party’s critical hit ratio increases by two) and independent from other critical hit multipliers, such as Scope Lens. Because of this, people have theorized on social media that Machamp could be viable when paired up with Super Luck Togekiss, giving it a 100% chance of a critical hit after one boost.

Although G-Max Chi Strike’s effects are notable, there is going to be situations where the normal attack boost you get from Max Knuckle would be better, as guaranteeing an attack boost is more consistent, especially because the critical hit boost stops at 1.5x, whereas attacking boosts are stackable up to +6.

Nonetheless, G-Max Chi Strike is definitely the best from the G-Max Moves we have discussed so far, and you could make a legitimate argument for using a G-Max Machamp over a normal one. Although that doesn’t mean that Machamp is going to be particularly good or see a lot of play, we will have to wait until the new format develops for that.

garbodor-gmax Garbodor

Garbodor is also part of the “never used in VGC” team, and this G-Max move probably won’t change that either. Garbodor kind of falls in the same trap as Cooperajah and Duraludon, where the G-Max move doesn’t provide a very useful effect in doubles.

G-Max Malodor poisons both your opponent’s Pokémon, meaning they will lose a consistent 1/8th of their total HP at the end of each turn (as they will be poisoned, not badly poisoned). This is not a terrible effect, but it needs some turns until the effects add up and are noticeable, and in such fast-paced games as VGC 2020’s, poison just doesn’t affect the dynamics of the game like paralysis, burn or sleep do.
 
Inducing poison is more useful for Garbodor than getting a special attack boost from Max Ooze, though, but that alone is probably not going to turn Garbodor into a top metagame threat.
Garbodor uses its G-Max Malodor

gengar-gmax Gengar

Gengar is probably one of the G-Max forms people have been most excited for. With this new form, Max Phantasm gets replaced by G-Max Terror, which applies the effect of Mean Look on the opposing field.

Many are theorizing that this might allow the revival of Perish Trap teams. For those of you unaware, this is a strategy where players take KOs through Perish Song’s effects instead of dealing damage, very much like some Lapras players do lately, but Perish Trap also combines this with the effects of trapping moves and abilities that don’t allow the opponent to switch out and thus reset their perish song count, like Gothitelle’s Shadow Tag.
 
However, both Centiskorch and Sandaconda’s G-Max forms have G-max moves with trapping effects while also dealing residual damage at the end of each turn, yet they did little to nothing to make Perish Trap teams viable again. Having said that, completely ruling out G-Max Gengar would be a mistake. Having the option to run a Gengar over Sandaconda and Centiskorch is already a big bonus in itself, as Gengar is a Swiss army knife, pretty frail but fast and threatning on itself.
G-Max Gengar sitting on the field

On the other hand, even if you can make use of the trapping mechanics that G-Max Terror provides, Gengar is pretty squishy, so keeping it on the field is going to be a challenge. It also raises the question if you really want to spend your G-Max turns on protecting Gengar from harm, instead of building up your endgame by dealing damage and providing stat boosts to itself and its partners.

Overall, Gengar shows the most promise of the five new G-Max forms, although utilizing the trapping mechanic efficiently is not going to be an easy task.

Conclusion

So far, almost all new G-Max forms have been lackluster in competitive play, as they lack providing tempo and value to the games to be actually effective over other Pokémon, strategies, and even the regular D-Max version of themselves.

Whether we like it or not, Pokémon VGC revolves a lot on resource management, and spending your precious three turns on a gimmick is certainly not the best idea.

Thus, while I don’t think any of these new G-Max forms provide enough value or pressure to become top threats in the meta, it is likely that at least one of them will prove utility and will see some usage.

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