Series 6: A brief introduction to the new metagame!

It has already been two months since Series 5 started after the release of The Isle of Armor and the VGC 2020 metagame could not have experienced a bigger change. The format that would have been used for the cancelled World Championships has ultimately been used for many major online competitions that have spanned weeks or even months: from regional ones like Victory Road’s European Cup, the first events in VR Spain’s Circuito Galar, the Japan Decisive Battle and Korea’s Pokémon Trainers Cup, to the worldwide Pokémon Players Cup.

Post-Worlds metas have usually signified the change to a new season of competitive play, but 2020 has been a year to put things upside down even with Pokémon VGC. The recently-announced Series 6 comes as an experimental metagame of sorts, maybe a transitional one towards what is to come in autumn when The Crown Tundra gets available.

In this article we will introduce all that the new format of VGC, as confirmed on the 13 August issue of the Play! Pokémon ruleset document, brings to the table starting on 1 September and all the impact that the absence of the Pokémon that have dominated the competitive scene for the last eight months will cause.

Ineligible Pokémon

In every format that has been used for VGC, evolutions have meant an addition to the metagame of some new features: new available Pokémon, new Abilities for already available Pokémon, new moves, etc.

However, for the first time ever, for VGC 2020 Series 6 some Pokémon have been determined ineligible for competitive play during the season. Those are the top 10 Pokémon used during the July season of ranked battles in both singles and doubles as per the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield statistics compiled in the mobile version of Pokémon HOME.

The following Pokémon that could be used for Series 5 teams will not be available starting on 1 September:

Ineligible Pokémon for VGC 2020 Series 6
VenusaurGyaradosPorygon2TyranitarTorkoalHippowdon
VenusaurGyaradosPorygon2TyranitarTorkoalHippowdon
MagnezoneTogekissExcadrillWhimsicottIncineroarMimikyu
MagnezoneTogekissExcadrillWhimsicottIncineroarMimikyu
 RillaboomCinderaceIndeedeeIndeedee-FemaleDragapult
 RillaboomCinderaceMale IndeedeeFemale IndeedeeDragapult

Impact on the metagame

The unavailability of some of these Pokémon deeply impact the current metagame of VGC 2020. Let’s take a look at the major changes:

Redirection

The redirection of moves has been a key strategy in VGC 2020 due to the importance of making the most out of the three turns of Dynamax that a player has per battle and avoiding that the opponent does the same. The two most used Pokémon for this have been Togekiss and Female Indeedee with the move Follow Me.

The absence of these two may result in an increase in usage of other redirector Pokémon, like Amoonguss, Butterfree or Volcarona with Rage Powder and Clefairy or Clefable with Follow Me. Who knows, maybe even Tangrowth and Togetic see some usage!

Speed control

Other aspect that has been utterly devastated by the changes is the speed control. Bulky Trick Room setters like Porygon2 and Mimikyu will be missed almost as much as Whimsicott and its priority Tailwind. However, it seems that the metagame will experience a general decrease in average speed as they are not the only ones disappearing: with the new Gen 8 mechanics, Dragapult, Cinderace, Gyarados and even Togekiss have been used for speed control with their Max Airstream moves.

Returning bulky Trick Room setters like Dusclops and Bronzong will surely be used and priority Tailwind can be summoned by the rising Gale Wings Talonflame. However, the Dynamax-based speed control may be now dominated by the hyper-offensive Porygon-Z and its Max Strikes. Do not discard other Normal-type and Flying-type moves users though, as they may try and succeed in taking down the Virtual Pokémon!

Intimidate

Labelled by many as the most important Ability in VGC, Intimidate has been a staple in VGC for a long time. The new Series 6 deletes two of the most common Intimidate users in Gyarados and the ever-reigning king Incineroar.

With its competition out of the game, Arcanine roars rampant as the best support replacement for the Fire-type Alolan starter… Is it? Hitmontop, Scrafty and Krookodile are knocking on the teambuilders’ doors, and maybe even prince Torracat itself decides to avenge its elder.

Terrains

Indeedee‘s Psychic Surge Ability has been dominant all year long for some Psychic spam strategies, especially after the move Expanding Force was released. However, a hard competitor came in June to reclaim the terrain setter throne: Grassy Surge Rillaboom with Grassy Glide quickly became the most used Pokémon and kept that place for several weeks.

All this path has come to an end. The Psychic Terrain setters are completely wiped out and the Grassy Terrain can now only be summoned by Thwackey, Rillaboom’s pre-evolution. Has the moment of Pincurchin and Alolan Raichu Electric spam strategies finally arrived, or will the importance of terrains and natural terrain setters be eliminated altogether?

Weather

Sun and sand have been the dominant weather-based strategies used in VGC 2020. Since Venusaur was released and furthermore when its Gigantamax form became available, sun teams based on Drought Torkoal and Chlorophyll Venusaur have reached huge levels of success, often accompanied by Solar Power Charizard to increase the offensive pressure. On the other side, the combination of Sand Stream Tyranitar and Sand Rush Excadrill has had a similar role against which every team should be prepared.

It seems that sun teams could still be seen with the weaker replacement of Drought Ninetales or some fast Sunny Day user, like Prankster Sableye. However, sand teams have a much darker future: Sand Stream Gigalith could function as a replacement for Tyranitar and its also disappeared alternative Hippowdon, but Stoutland and Midday Lycanroc look like very poor Excadrill wannabes. It seems that rain teams can actually be deeply explored with its main rivals more weakened than ever!

Other archetypes

Other strong cores have suffered the loss of many of its members… or even all! The famous TED archetype (Togekiss + Excadrill + Dragapult) has suffered complete annihilation and Magnezone, a Pokémon that has seen a huge raise in usage in August, will also take some time out.

Many people have theorized the return of Series 2 archetypes: expect to see some power cores like the one formed by Hustle Durant or Dracozolt accompanied by Competitive Milotic; the raw strength of Gigantamax Snorlax shenanigans; the returning early-meta trio of Grimmsnarl, Duraludon and Mudsdale; or the bulky and trustworthy group of Gastrodon, Corviknight and Heat or Mow Rotom.

But a lot has changed since then, and with The Isle of Armor a whole new lot of possibilities arose: do not hesitate to try the core formed by Clefairy and Porygon-Z; the Beat Up strategies with Justified Terrakion, Cobalion and the forgotten Virizion; the strong coverage provided by both styles of Urshifu; or the consolidated teams based on Gigantamax Lapras or Steam Engine Gigantamax Coalossal.

Conclusions

Overall, the changes introduced in September will change so many aspects of what is now central in the metagame that it is very difficult to make predictions on what new and returning strategies will prevail. Some people have already been building teams for this new Series 6 that you can already check out in our rental team compendium page!

Victory Road will hold an upcoming VR Summer Challenge so that you can test your strength in the new metagame. In the meantime, if you are a Spanish speaker, you may also want to try out your new teams in the fifth Circuito Galar event that will take place on 5–6 September!

Don’t forget to follow us on our Twitter account to have the latest information about all the upcoming news and events!

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