Series 9: After the detour

It has already been three months since Series 8 started and the Restricted Legendaries modified the metagame. This format has been used for some major competitions, mainly:

During this Series, we have seen the postponement of the 2021 World Championships, as was expected given the current situation, as well as the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Pokémon, which came with the announcement of some new titles for the coming months; in particular, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl might be very relevant for next year’s competitive scene!

However, it is time to wrap up and prepare for the next series… or recover the notes from the past winter? This is because, just a short few weeks into the metagame, we were all surprised by the early announcement of Series 9, which would be starting on 1 May 2021 and would correspond to the same ruleset as Series 7, which was in force from November 2020 to January 2021.

This unusual timing has made many players think of Series 8 as a somewhat pointless metagame, since its development would be stopped in three months just to go back to a previous ruleset. But is it just a step back?

In this article we will introduce all that the new format of VGC, as confirmed on the 29 March issue of the Play! Pokémon ruleset document, brings to the table starting on 1 May and the impact that the three-month detour to a format with one Restricted Pokémon may have on the previously established metagame of Series 7.

Uneligible Pokémon

With the new ruleset, the following Pokémon currently available in Series 8 will no longer be eligible for competitive play starting on 1 May:

List of uneligible Pokémon for Series 9
List of uneligible Pokémon for Series 9
mewtwolugiaho-ohkyogregroudonrayquaza
MewtwoLugiaHo-OhKyogreGroudonRayquaza
dialgapalkiagiratinagiratina-originreshiramzekrom
DialgaPalkiaGiratina
(Altered F.)
Giratina
(Origin F.)
ReshiramZekrom
kyuremkyurem-whitekyurem-blackxerneasyveltalzygarde-50
KyuremWhite
Kyurem
Black
Kyurem
XerneasYveltalZygarde
(50% Forme)
zygarde-10cosmogcosmoemsolgaleolunalanecrozma
Zygarde
(10% Forme)
CosmogCosmoemSolgaleoLunalaNecrozma
necrozma-dusk-manenecrozma-dawn-wingszacianzacian-crownedzamazentazamazenta-crowned
Dusk Mane
Necrozma
Dawn Wings
Necrozma
Zacian
(Hero of Many Battles)
Zacian
(Crowned Sword)
Zamazenta
(Hero of Many Battles)
Zamazenta
(Crowned Shield)
 eternatuscalyrexcalyrex-ice-ridercalyrex-shadow-rider 
 EternatusCalyrexIce Rider
Calyrex
Shadow Rider
Calyrex
 
List of uneligible Pokémon for Series 9
List of Restricted Pokémon
mewtwolugiaho-ohkyogre
MewtwoLugiaHo-OhKyogre
groudonrayquazadialgapalkia
GroudonRayquazaDialgaPalkia
giratinagiratina-originreshiramzekrom
Giratina
(Altered F.)
Giratina
(Origin F.)
ReshiramZekrom
kyuremkyurem-whitekyurem-blackxerneas
KyuremWhite
Kyurem
Black
Kyurem
Xerneas
yveltalzygarde-50zygarde-10cosmog
YveltalZygarde
(50% Forme)
Zygarde
(10% Forme)
Cosmog
cosmoemsolgaleolunalanecrozma
CosmoemSolgaleoLunalaNecrozma
necrozma-dusk-manenecrozma-dawn-wingszacianzacian-crowned
Dusk Mane
Necrozma
Dawn Wings
Necrozma
Zacian
(Hero of Many Battles)
Zacian
(Crowned Sword)
zamazentazamazenta-crownedeternatuscalyrex
Zamazenta
(Hero of Many Battles)
Zamazenta
(Crowned Shield)
EternatusCalyrex
 calyrex-ice-ridercalyrex-shadow-rider 
 Ice Rider
Calyrex
Shadow Rider
Calyrex
 

Learning from the past

Several conclusions can be taken just by looking at the results and usage stats of the past Series 7.

Glastrier and Spectrier

Some Pokémon were dominant in Series 7, but saw themselves relegated to niche roles because a newly available Restricted Legendary Pokémon filled its slot better on the teams. The clearest example of this are Glastrier and Spectrier, which were nowhere to be seen in Series 8 due to the availability of Ice Rider Calyrex and Shadow Rider Calyrex, respectively. However, their time is here again.

Glastrier in particular was one of the most successfully used Pokémon in Series 7, especially accompanied by Dusclops and Tapu Fini. Teams with those three Pokémon got the first place of Qualifiers #9 and #10 of VR Spain’s Circuito Galar, as well as Taiwan’s Taipei Regionals and South Korea’s Crown Tournament.

Spectrier was also a force to be reckoned as it could function offensively or in a supportive role, depending on its set. Takuto Notohara (Notton) used it on his 1st place team of the Ranked Battles Season 14 ladder (January 2021) and it was present in several top cut teams from many tournaments.

Galarian Moltres and the Steel types

Other Pokémon that will benefit from the absence of Restricted Legendary Pokémon will be Galarian Moltres, Metagross and Celesteela. They for sure will not miss Yveltal or the various Steel-type Legendaries, such as Zacian, Dialga or Solgaleo. Often holding a Weakness Policy, these naturally bulky Pokémon will take advantage of the offensive potential given to them by its item activation.

Galarian Moltres was the most dominant of the three, with its access to the key Max Airstream and its Ability Berserk, and was present in the team with which former World Champion Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) conquered the Pokémon Players Cup II.

Rillaboom and Tapu Fini

The terrain setters Rillaboom and Tapu Fini have seen some use in Series 8, but the truth is that they had been much more dangerous in Series 7. Together with Incineroar, these Pokémon had grabbed the top 3 spots in usage. Notoriously, only the early-meta VR Tundra Challenge saw a winner in Joseph Ugarte (JoeUX9) that did not have at least one of them in their team!

Rillaboom has been surpassed as the Grass-type preferred option in Series 8 teams by Whimsicott and Venusaur. The generally slower metagame of Series 7 may be a signal that Rillaboom will regain its type’s top spot for Series 9.

The establishment of Psychic spam teams, especially those with Shadow Rider Calyrex, made the Misty Terrain concede its second place to Indeedee’s Psychic Terrain. With the removal of that threat, it is expected that Tapu Fini will regain that spot soon enough.

The influence of Series 8

Some Pokémon that were extensively used in Series 8 had already been used much in Series 7. This is the case of Incineroar, Regieleki, Single Strike Style Urshifu or Landorus (Therian). However, other Pokémon saw a huge increase in usage during Series 8: let’s talk about them.

Lapras had been present in many of the earlier 2020 series since its Gigantamax form became available, but its use had declined in favour of other screen setters, such as Grimmsnarl or Regieleki. The new Series 8 archetype it formed with Zacian (commonly known as “LapDog”) is not easily replaceable without the Legendary Pokémon, so its use will likely decline again.

This is probably not the case for Charizard. The sun archetype was already strong in Series 7. With the unprecedented dominance that it has shown in Series 8, it is difficult to think that sun-based teams will not try to develop further into the Series 9 metagame, with the triad of Torkoal, Venusaur and Charizard. This will likely be the most noticeable difference between the previous Series 7 and Series 9, at least at its earliest stages, even though Groudon being away may hinder the usage of Charizard along another special Fire-type.

Other Pokémon that may suffer from the change of series will be the Incarnate Formes of the genies Tornadus and Thundurus. The departure of Kyogre will mean the decline of rain-based teams, so Tornadus will not be as necessary to accompany them nor Thundurus to counter them. The absence of Zacian, against which Intimidate users were almost a must, will also diminish the need for Thundurus.

Other options

In any case, other teams like those based on Gigantamax Coalossal or on the combo of Weezing + Regigigas will also need to be taken into account when teambuilding for this new series. Do not forget that these cores starred on the Grand Finals of Series 7’s Pokémon Players Cup II!

Who knows? Maybe a new, unexplored team composition is awaiting your discovery… Meta calls are key for it, but the distinct metagame of Series 8 may have brought some applicable ideas for Series 9, and there is the chance that it will end up developing in a complete different direction than that of Series 7.

What's next?

Although it may be important to study the past Series 7, Series 9 will surely not be neither as similar nor as different from it. We do not know an end date for this format, and, although the early stages can be a chaotic mix of Series 7 stuff and new ideas coming from Series 8, the development of the metagame with already three months of experience can be a key point. Take a look at our Rental Teams hub if you are lost!

Prepare for the ruleset that will be played in the newest instalment of our VR Circuit: the Spring Series! The first Qualifier will be held this weekend, and registrations are already available here!

Further in the metagame, other major tournaments will be held, including the Taiwan Nationals, the Japan Nationals and the Pokémon Players Cup IV. The offline celebration of two National Championships in some parts of the world, even with many restrictions to the participation in them, is a sign that the return of live events elsewhere gets closer!

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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