Pro Players Insight! — About VGC Series 2 and the Paradox Pokémon

Series 1 has been loved by many players and it is said to have gone too soon, after it has only been used officially in Tainan (with closed lists), San Diego and Liverpool (both with open lists) Regionals. It is time to get to the new page in the VGC ruleset with Series 2, a format that will be played much more, including in this season’s Oceania International Championships!

As we already did when we first found out about all Pokémon in Paldea, we have talked a bit with some of the best players from all around the world so that they can give us some of their insight regarding the Paradox Pokémon, that are now allowed in the new ruleset of Pokémon Scarlet & Pokémon Violet VGC!

New Pokémon allowed in Series 2
Great TuskScream TailBrute BonnetFlutter ManeSlither WingSandy Shocks
Great TuskScream TailBrute BonnetFlutter ManeSlither WingSandy Shocks
Iron TreadsIron BundleIron HandsIron JugulisIron MothIron Thorns
Iron TreadsIron BundleIron HandsIron JugulisIron MothIron Thorns
 Roaring MoonIron Valiant 
 Roaring MoonIron Valiant 
New Pokémon allowed in Series 2
Great TuskScream TailBrute BonnetFlutter Mane
Great TuskScream TailBrute BonnetFlutter Mane
Slither WingSandy ShocksIron TreadsIron Bundle
Slither WingSandy ShocksIron TreadsIron Bundle
Iron HandsIron JugulisIron MothIron Thorns
Iron HandsIron JugulisIron MothIron Thorns
Roaring MoonIron Valiant
Roaring MoonIron Valiant

Table of Contents

Great Tusk

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Great TuskGreat TuskGroundFightingProtosynthesis115131131535387570

Brought to you by JPN Naoto Mizobuchi, the 2019 World Champion and 1st place in Ranked Battles Season 1!

Great Tusk learns the new Ground-type move Headlong Rush, and it is the only Pokémon that can get it with STAB. I think it is a very good move because it does not target allies, unlike Earthquake, and has more BP than Stomping Tantrum. Also, it is characteristic that Great Tusk’s Speed is a bit higher than Gholdengo’s, and Great Tusk can OHKO it with Headlong Rush! In addition, it is favorable against Iron Hands, an opponent that is expected to have a high usage in Series 2.

I recommend Steel Tera Type for Great Tusk because it covers 5 of its 6 weaknesses (Fairy, Psychic, Flying, Ice, and Grass), and is hit neutrally by Water (the sixth weakness). I guess Ground or Fighting Tera Types would be good if you’d like it to be offensive.

However, Great Tusk suffers from the disadvantage of its quite low Special Defense, which makes it be easily KO’d by powerful special moves. Assault Vest is nice item for Great Tusk as it covers this low stat! Besides Assault Vest, White Herb looks good to me because it can nullify Intimidate and the negative effects of Close Combat and Headlong Rush, even though just once. Boosting its strong stats with Life Orb or Booster Energy would be great as well. How to use Great Tusk and which item to give it is up to each player’s playstyle!

▶️ Before Series 2 was announced, ESP Guillermo Castilla, finalist at 2022 Worlds, also shared his impressions about Great Tusk. Check them out here!

Scream Tail

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Scream TailScream TailFairyPsychicProtosynthesis115659965115111570

Brought to you by IRL Mattie Morgan, semifinalist at VR Welcome to Paldea!

Scream Tail is one of the bulkiest Pokémon in the format. It also has a high base 111 Speed stat. You can expect to see it mostly use supportive status moves to make the most of these stats, including Perish Song, Trick Room, Light Screen, Reflect, Helping Hand, Fake Tears, Encore and Sing to name a few.

This Pokémon is difficult to use due to its low Attack and Special Attack, meaning that after it has used its supportive moves it can become dead weight and not contribute much more to the battle. Some trainers have been using an offensive move like Dazzling Gleam or Psychic Fangs on it to help it be more threatening. As for items, Sitrus Berry can help it stick around a little bit longer and Mental Herb can block a Taunt which otherwise almost completely shuts it down. I don’t expect it to Terastallize often, but I would recommend using it with a Dark Tera Type to block Prankster moves as well as having good defensive synergy with its original type.

Everyone playing Series 2 should be prepared for the combination of Gothitelle + Scream Tail: Gothitelle’s Shadow Tag can prevent foes from switching out of Scream Tail’s Perish Song. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it paired with Torkoal, being the bulkiest Trick Room user in the format and benefitting from Torkoal’s Drought to activate its Protosynthesis ability!

Brute Bonnet

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Brute BonnetBrute BonnetGrassDarkProtosynthesis11112799799955570

Brought to you by TWN Chyr Wei, the 2022 Taiwan National champion!

Brute Bonnet is a Paradox Pokémon parallel to Amoonguss, but its high base Attack makes it a more aggressive mushroom. It retains both Spore and Rage Power, which are two of the most important moves to the usual Amoonguss sets, and is now able to learn Close Combat and Sucker Punch. Compared to Amoonguss, Brute Bonnet may not be able to pivoting around without the ability of Regenerator. However, Protosynthesis makes it a better ability alongside Torkoal. It is able to provide more offensive pressure when Protosynthesis has been activated by the harsh sunlight, and it still has the option to Spore before the opponent moves while Trick Room is set up.

Dark Tera Type boosting up Sucker Punch could be helpful to clean up the game. Besides, Water or Fire Tera Types could be considered for defensive purposes to avoid Fire- and Fairy-type damage, respectively. As for the held item, I would recommend damage-reducing berry such as Occa Berry or Roseli Berry; a Sitrus Berry for some HP recovering; or even Life Orb or Loaded Dice (used in Bullet Seed sets).

Amoonguss will certainly still be better preferred in order to help the team pivoting around with Intimidate Pokémon such as Arcanine, Gyarados or Tauros, but it is worth to consider bringing Brute Bonnet in order to be more offensive.

Flutter Mane

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Flutter ManeFlutter ManeGhostFairyProtosynthesis555555135135135570

Brought to you by AUS Sam Pandelis, finalist at 2017 Worlds!

From its release, Flutter Mane was always going to be considered one of the strongest Pokémon in the format, given its versatile offensive typing, its insane Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed stats, and the options on how many different sets it could run. It was considered so broken that it was even banned in some unofficial doubles formats, when the rest of the Paradox Pokémon were not.

There are many great moves and strategies Flutter Mane has access to, as it can be played as bulky setup with Calm Mind, hyper offensive with Choice Specs or Life Orb, focused on survivability with an item like Focus Sash, or simply to take advance of its ability Protosynthesis by running Booster Energy to boost its Speed or Special Attack. Flutter Mane has great moves at its disposal, such as Moonblast, Dazzling Gleam, Shadow Ball, Mystical Fire, Substitute, Thunderbolt, and it even has the option to be run with Perish Song or to provide a fast Taunt or Thunder Wave on a support set. There’s certainly a lot of different ways it can be run to abuse its great stats.

Flutter Mane has a lot of great Terastallization options, with many of those depending on what direction you want to go in. A favourite of mine is using it with Fire Tera Type, as this defensive Tera Type allows it to wall Torkoal’s Eruption and Gholdengo’s Make It Rain with its absurd Special Defense stat, and allowing it to fire off some insane damage while taking these big crucial hits. Of course, there is always the option for Terastallizing it with Fairy or Ghost Tera Types to get an even more powerful attack from one of its original STAB moves. Regardless of anything, I am sure Flutter Mane is a Pokémon we are going to be seeing a lot of in VGC Series 2.

▶️ Before Series 2 was announced, THA Chaiyawat Traiwichcha, the 2022 Thailand National & World Cup champion, also shared his impressions about Flutter Mane. Check them out here!

Slither Wing

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Slither WingSlither WingBugFightingProtosynthesis85135798510581570

Brought to you by USA Chuppa Cross, finalist at the 2023 San Diego Regionals!

Slither Wing is one of the hardest Paradox Pokémon to describe, because it doesn’t excel at one particular role the way many of its counterparts do. Its Fighting type and focus on its high physical Attack stat of 135 mean that it is even hard to compare to its relative, Volcarona! However, that resemblance is also the reason why it has access to a strange and useful combination of Bug, Fighting, and even Fire-type moves.

Some of the Bug-type moves Slither Wing can choose from include an extremely strong U-turn, Leech Life to extend its bulk capacities, and First Impression. First Impression is the most interesting one of these to me: even a single turn of priority 90 BP is extremely strong, and helps Slither Wing avoid having to rely on its middling Speed stat. Close Combat and Flare Blitz are other powerful options to help round out its coverage. U-turn could be a nice way to let Slither Wing reset Close Combat’s Defense drops while keeping up damage and pivot at the same time. When it comes to status moves, Slither Wing learns moves like Morning Sun, Bulk Up, and Will-o-Wisp to extend its bulk.

It is difficult to say what sort of partners Slither Wing would excel with. Being a Ground-type resist is a useful trait in a format with so many of the top Pokémon weak to the type, but the goodstuffs teams utilizing those top Pokémon might struggle to find room for it. Another potential route could be to go all in on Slither Wing’s offense with an item like Booster Energy to raise its Attack, and Flame Charge to increase its Speed even above Iron Bundle’s and Dragapult’s!

Overall, I don’t expect Slither Wing to see as much success as other Paradox Pokémon, but it still has some really unusual attributes that creative teambuilders may find a way to exploit!

Sandy Shocks

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Sandy ShocksSandy ShocksElectricGroundProtosynthesis85819712185101570

Brought to you by USA Chuppa Cross, finalist at the 2023 San Diego Regionals!

What Sandy Shocks lacks in especially high stats or depth of its movepool, it makes up for with its strong offensive typing and unique moves. It is only the second Ground/Electric-type Pokémon after Stunfisk, and is poised to leave a greater impact on the VGC metagame than its flat friend.

Two moves that most Sandy Shocks will want to run are Earth Power and Thunderbolt. Not many Pokémon in the Series 2 metagame learn Earth Power, so having access to this strong Ground-type move is one thing that sets Sandy Shocks apart from the competition. However, outside of these moves, Sandy Shocks has to rely on moves like Tera Blast, Flash Cannon, and Body Press for additional coverage. It is common to see it use Tera Blast with a Flying or even Ice Tera Type to make up for the fact that Grass-types can resist both of its STAB moves.

Sandy Shocks is also one of the few available Gravity users in Series 2, and by far the fastest of them with Booster Energy. This makes it a strong partner for other fast Pokémon with inaccurate moves, such as Espathra with Hypnosis and Iron Bundle with Hydro Pump or Blizzard. Sandy Shocks can also take advantage of its own Gravity with powerful, but normally unreliable, Electric-type moves like Thunder or Zap Cannon. I feel that this Gravity set will be one of Sandy Shocks’ most common roles, but don’t be surprised to see Choice Specs and Life Orb sets as well.

Iron Treads

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron TreadsIron TreadsGroundSteelQuark Drive901121207270106570

Brought to you by GTM Juan M. Santizo, Day 2 player at 2022 Worlds!

Iron Treads is a really bad Pokémon. It lacks that differential factor that many of the other Paradox Pokémon have. Its only good quality is that it can totally wall Flutter Mane… unless it runs Mystical Fire, which is fairly common. Iron Treads is also weak to Iron Bundle’s Hydro Pump which, even if it does not get the KO, deals massive damage.

Its typing is great deffensively, as it can resist 8 types (including Fairy) and has 2 immunities, however its 4 weaknesses are really prominent in the metagame, and include Ground, Fire and Water. Its bad Special Defense forces it to run either a Focus Sash or an Assault Vest, which you would prefer to use on better Pokémon. It gets outclassed by its sibling form, Great Tusk, which with its signature move Headlong Rush does a better job as an offensive Ground-type attacker. If, after all this, you still want to use it, its best set is Assault Vest with Flying or Steel Tera Type and the moves Knock Off, Ice Spinner or Rock Slide, Heavy Slam and Stomping Tantrum or Earthquake.

To sum up, Iron Treads is a C-tier Pokémon who gets outsped, outdamaged and outclassed by others in the metagame.

Iron Bundle

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron BundleIron BundleIceWaterQuark Drive568011412460136570

Brought to you by AUS Sam Pandelis, finalist at 2017 Worlds!

Iron Bundle is absolutely sure to be a Pokémon you’ll run into this season playing VGC Series 2, as it is the third fastest Pokémon in the format, outspeeding Flutter Mane, and only being outsped by Electrode and Dragapult. It also has access to a great Special Attack and physical Defense stat, and is unique in the sense that it can operate as both a good damage user, and a good support Pokémon at the same time.

As far as items go, it is most commonly seen with either Focus Sash or Booster Energy, as this allows it to either survive any attack, or boost its Speed using its ability Protosynthesis to be able to even outspeed other Pokémon under Tailwind. It is most commonly seen running the moves Hydro Pump, Freeze-Dry, Icy Wind and Protect, as these two primary STAB damaging moves allow for its greatest damage output potential, while there are other options such as Ice Beam or Freeze-Dry which allow it to deal huge damage to Pokémon like Palafin, Gastrodon, Gyarados, Dondozo, Tatsugiri and more, and is certain to be a more popular option. Icy Wind is a great way to manage speed control, as Iron Bundle is likely to move first in the turn; it will often be able to provide speed control to your allies. It’s worth noting that it has access to Encore as well, as given its Speed it is a niche move that could get a tiny bit of use.

As for Terastal options, there’s a few versatile options Iron Bundle can take advantage of, and I suspect it will most commonly be seen using defensive Tera Types, such as Grass to counter Amoonguss, or Ghost to remove the Fighting-type weakness, as opposed to an offensive STAB-boosting Tera Type such as Water or Ice. Although we are sure to see a lot of Iron Bundle, I do suspect that this will often not be the chosen Pokémon to Terastallize in a game given the role it plays in the team.

Iron Hands

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron HandsIron HandsFightingElectricQuark Drive154140108506850570

Brought to you by JPN Naoto Mizobuchi, the 2019 World Champion and 1st place in Ranked Battles Season 1!

Iron Hands brings really efficient base stats. By giving its EVs to Special Defense or making it hold an Assault Vest, its stats become well-balanced and it is not easily defeated.

Iron Hands is expected to be seen in so many teams because of its pivoting efficiency with Fake Out and good bulk.
Close Combat and Wild Charge have good power but both of them decrease its bulk, so I would recommend Drain Punch and Thunder Punch if you’d like to make the most of its high defensive stats.

Also, in Electric Terrain, it gets both the effect of boosting its Electric-type moves’ power and the activation of its ability Quark Drive at the same time. Its Wild Charge and Close Combat in Electric Terrain are as powerful as a Flying-type Tera Blast by a Terastallized Choice Band Dragonite!

▶️ Before Series 2 was announced, AUS Henry Rich, the 2022 Brisbane Regional champion, also shared his impressions about Iron Hands. Check them out here!

Iron Jugulis

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron JugulisIron JugulisDarkFlyingQuark Drive94808612280108570

Brought to you by THA Narawitch Naenna, finalist at the 2022 Thailand Nationals & World Cup champion!

Iron Jugulis is a Pokémon that has not yet been thoroughly investigated, but it appears to have potential thanks to its strong Special Attack stat and a good special movepool, which includes the likes of Air Slash, Dark Pulse, Earth Power, Hurricane, Heat Wave, and Hydro Pump.

I once saw my national team colleague Jong Dae-Jung use it on his Rain team as an offensive Pokémon, holding a Life Orb and using Hurricane, and it looks pretty cool, but I think the bulky support set with Speed-boosting Booster Energy and Snarl spam is also an interesting way to use Iron Jugulis: it is a quick Tailwind user and pressures most of the special attackers in the metagame. This is one of the fantastic set that I’ve been wanting to check out.

I won’t be surprised to see this Pokémon doing well in a tournament, since with the Terastallization mechanics you can use it with either Steel or Poison Tera Types to ressist Flutter Mane’s moves and also not get super effective damage from Iron Bundle’s Ice-type moves.

Iron Moth

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron MothIron MothFirePoisonQuark Drive807060140110110570

Brought to you by GTM Juan M. Santizo, Day 2 player at 2022 Worlds!

Iron Moth is a really interesting Pokémon, as it has a really good offensive typing in Fire/Poison, which makes his 140 base Special Attack a big threat. It is also faster than almost any Ground-type available Pokémon (except for Dugtrio), which makes its main weakness not that strong against it, since if you use it with Grass Tera Type and pair it up with Energy Ball you end up with a really offensive set that threatens any resisted opponent.

We actually saw Víctor Medina (Torviv) get runner-up at a tournament hosted by Nino PokeBros with an Iron Moth set consisting on Booster Energy as held item and Heat Wave, Acid Spray, Energy Ball and Protect as its moves. The other usage of Iron Moth comes from Rain teams, as using it with Flying Tera Type and the move Hurricane will make it never miss in Rain to neutralize the Grass types that could be problematic to ally Palafin.

Although it is a great Pokémon that will see some usage, its low physical Defense and being slower than Iron Bundle leave it vulnerable to combos of Icy Wind + a physical attack, while also being weak to Iron Bundle’s Hydro Pump or Freeze-Dry if it Terastallizes with either of its best Tera Types. To sum up, it is a B-tier Pokémon with strong offensive tools that can become a real threat with good support.

▶️ Before Series 2 was announced, HKG Pan Si Ming, the 2022 Hong Kong National champion, also shared his impressions about Iron Moth. Check them out here!

Iron Thorns

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron ThornsIron ThornsRockElectricQuark Drive100134110708472570

Brought to you by THA Narawitch Naenna, finalist at the 2022 Thailand Nationals & World Cup champion!

Iron Thorns is not a common Paradox Pokémon at the moment because of its defensively weak typing, but thanks to the Terastallization mechanics, this Pokémon can still pose a threat due to its high Attack stat, strong defensive stats, and offensively good STAB types.

Assault Vest is one of the most common items I saw on the Pokémon Showdown ladder, with Rock Slide, Wild Charge and some coverage move; or the set with Dragon Dance, Rock Blast and Pin Missile paired with a Loaded Dice held item, which is uncommon but seems to work well on this Pokémon with Bug Tera Type. This set is what I consider to be the most interesting one! With Bug Tera Type, it turns nearly every weakness of Iron Thorns into resistances and helps boost the power of Pin Missile to KO some of the meta Pokémon like Roaring Moon, Brute Bonnet and Female Indeedee.

Roaring Moon

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Roaring MoonRoaring MoonDragonDarkProtosynthesis1051397155101119590

Brought to you by IRL Mattie Morgan, semifinalist at VR Welcome to Paldea!

Roaring Moon has already established itself as a popular pick in Series 2. It boasts high stats around the board, most notably its 139 base Attack and 119 base Speed stats. At the moment it is most commonly ran with Booster Energy to boost its Attack or Speed, usually with the combo of Flying Tera Type and Acrobatics which gives it a ridiculously strong STAB move. If you don’t want to run Booster Energy, Clear Amulet is another strong option with a different Tera Type such as Fire or Steel, notably allowing Roaring Moon to resist Fairy-type moves which its original typing has a double weakness to. Dragon Dance sets are often complemented with supportive Pokémon such as Iron Hands and Amoonguss that can help it boost its Attack and Speed even further. Another strong option is Tailwind, allowing Roaring Moon to support its teammates. Some Pokémon that can utilise Tailwind well beside Roaring Moon include Gholdengo, Flutter Mane and Great Tusk, which all often carry strong spread moves. Crunch, Jaw Lock, Dragon Claw and Protect are good options to round out its moveset, although other options such as U-turn, Snarl and Breaking Swipe have room to be explored.

This is one of the most important Paradox Pokémon to be prepared for in Series 2 due to its incredible stats and high usage. Damage reduction such as Intimidate (for non Clear Amulet sets) and Reflect can help your team survive Roaring Moon’s attacks. Speed control such as Tailwind or Trick Room can also help deal with Roaring Moon as it becomes possible to KO it before it moves if it isn’t moving first. Flutter Mane and Iron Bundle both outspeed Roaring Moon and threaten super effective damage, so it is worth considering putting them on your team if you are worried about this Pokémon.

▶️ Before Series 2 was announced, USA Joseph Ugarte, semifinalist at 2022 EUIC & NAIC, also shared his impressions about Roaring Moon. Check them out here!

Iron Valiant

IconPokémonTypingAbilitiesHPAtkDefSpASpDSpeBST
Iron ValiantIron ValiantFairyFightingQuark Drive741309012060116590

Brought to you by TWN Chyr Wei, the 2022 Taiwan National champion!

Iron Valiant has the only type combination of Fairy and Fighting in Pokédex. It outspeeds a lot more Pokémon compared to the original Gallade. However, it seems pretty awkward since Gallade obtained the new ability Sharpness and, besides, it is still unable to outspeed Flutter Mane, Iron Bundle and Roaring Moon, which are considered three of the most popular Paradox Pokémon in Series 2.

It is interesting that Iron Valiant has 130 base Attack and 120 base Special Attack. That Special Attack may seem a waste if it only carried physical moves, but thinking from a different perspective, it can be trained as a special attacker in order to take advantage of information difference in closed team list games, such as the Ranked Battles ladder or some TPC tournaments, since it can learn Moonblast and Focus Blast. Iron Valiant also has the option to use Hypnosis with Booster Energy or Choice Scarf Sandy Shocks setting up Gravity. It can also learn other status moves such as Wide Guard, Disable and Encore.

I would consider Iron Valiant as a more supportive Pokémon that can do pretty good damage. However, I have to admit that Iron Valiant may not seem as a powerful Pokémon with high usage at first glance, but it may have more potential when the four Treasures of Ruin are allowed in the future.

Conclusions

What do you think about these Pokémon? Do you agree with these players’ takes?

Time will tell about this metagame, but the tournaments are about to start. We will see our first major events this weekend with the Victory Road to Melbourne, preparing the Eastern world for the upcoming OCIC, and Orlando Regionals, set to be the largest-ever Regional event in the world. Don’t miss out!

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