Online Competitions featuring Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon continued in January with the Alola Friendly. This special tournament featured similar rules as the 2017 Video Game Championships, but with one major difference—the tournament took place using Single Battles instead of Double Battles. Just like in the Video Game Championships, Trainers were required to give each of their Pokémon a different item to hold and were allowed to use only Pokémon in the Alola Pokédex. Plus, they were also prohibited from using Mythical Pokémon and the most powerful Legendary Pokémon, including Solgaleo, Lunala, and Zygarde.
This tournament was a chance to find out what it would be like if the World Championships featured Single Battles instead of Double Battles. Some Trainers may have looked to the World Championships format for inspiration for their teams because the two formats permitted the same Pokémon. However, the difference in popular Pokémon between Championships Battle and this tournament highlights the differences in the types of Pokémon players prefer in Double Battles compared to Single Battles. For example, key supportive Pokémon from Championships Battle—including Arcanine, Porygon2, Pelipper, and Torkoal—were selected much less frequently in the Alola Friendly.
Trainers may have had more luck looking toward a different form of Rating Battle for inspiration—the first season of Single Battle Rating Battles. In fact, the only differences between the two formats were that Mega Stones and Pokémon captured through Island Scan were not permitted in the Alola Friendly as they were on the Battle Spot. Those battles were probably great preparation for many players, but the absence of Aegislash, Mega Gyarados, Mega Salamence, and other Mega-Evolved Pokémon gave the Alola Friendly a unique feel despite the similar formats that preceded it.
It’s All About Popular
Not everything was new in the Alola Friendly. The most frequently selected Pokémon in the Alola Friendly was Garchomp, one of the few Pokémon that has proven a popular choice in each Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon competition format so far. One reason Garchomp excelled was that Garchomp could execute different strategies depending on its held item. Trainers looking to quickly knock Garchomp out with a supereffective attack could be foiled by a Focus Sash, and those expecting to outpace it could be slowed down if it instead held a Choice Scarf. Items that increased Garchomp’s damage were less common, but we’d guess that Trainers who gave their Garchomp a Dragonium Z or Choice Band benefitted from their opponents preparing for different held items.
Trainers may have tried to get around Pokémon holding a Choice Scarf by using moves with increased priority, but the Psychic Terrain summoned by Tapu Lele’s Psychic Surge Ability stopped such tactics cold. Many Trainers chose to give their Choice Scarf to Tapu Lele, creating a speedy attacker that was tricky to stop. We also saw plenty of Trainers give Tapu Lele Choice Specs, Psychium Z, or Life Orb to hold—these Tapu Lele were more vulnerable to a surprise knockout because of their lower Speed, but they could dish out truly devastating Psychic-type attacks because of their items and the damage boost to Psychic-type attacks from Psychic Terrain.
The other Tapu that saw play on a huge number of teams was Tapu Koko. Much like Garchomp, Tapu Koko seems to excel in any format it is permitted in. The tactics we see most Trainers use with Tapu Koko are a little different in Single Battle competitions than in Double Battle competitions. Both U-turn and Volt Switch were among Tapu Koko’s four most common moves, enabling players to use a hit-and-run strategy. By slowly whittling down foes and escaping, the speedy Tapu Koko could set itself up to sweep through weakened enemy teams late in matches while helping its team to create advantageous type matchups.
Mimikyu was the second most commonly selected Pokémon in the Masters Division, ahead of even Tapu Lele and Tapu Koko. Almost all the Trainers who used Mimikyu in the Alola Friendly taught it Play Rough, Shadow Sneak, Swords Dance, and Shadow Claw. Most Pokémon are in danger of being knocked out while they increase their stats. But Mimikyu is special: it can mitigate some of the risk of using Swords Dance with its Disguise Ability, which absorbs the damage from the first attack targeted at Mimikyu. It can then dish out damage to a slower opponent with Play Rough or Shadow Claw, and using Shadow Sneak’s increased priority even allows Mimikyu to put some damage on a quicker opponent that might knock it out in a single blow.
Trainers are probably used to seeing most of the Pokémon that appeared near the top of the Pokémon Ranking for this event, but we’d like to draw special attention to Cloyster. It’s not an extremely popular Pokémon in most competitions, but it was a tricky opponent in the Alola Friendly. Most Cloyster knew Shell Smash, which greatly increases Cloyster’s Attack, Special Attack, and Speed while greatly lowering its Defense and Special Defense. Using Shell Smash can be a risky strategy, but Cloyster can dish out some horrifying damage with the move Icicle Spear boosted by its Skill Link Ability. Since Icicle Spear hits more than once, it could get around Garchomp’s Focus Sash and Mimikyu’s Disguise. And the increased Speed from Shell Smash could sometimes allow Cloyster to outpace Pokémon holding Choice Scarf, too.
Go Your Own Way
The Alola Friendly was no exception to this trend, with many of the top teams looking built to pull off specific strategies instead of focusing on general battling strength. Overall, the top-10 teams featured 33 different Pokémon between them, including some surprising choices such as Dugtrio, Misdreavus, Chansey, and a Silvally holding one of its signature items, Ground Memory.
Trainers also tried their hand at building teams around Eevee’s Extreme Evoboost Z-Move in the Video Game Championships, but it was on one of the top teams in the Alola Friendly where Eevee found greater success. Seeing Eevee use Baton Pass probably didn’t surprise many Trainers, but the Drifblim that knew Minimize, Substitute, and Baton Pass made it a team most Trainers would have preferred to avoid. Combined, the two Pokémon could Baton Pass some enormous stat boosts to their teammates when everything went right. Eevee’s Trainer was also one of the few who used Krookodile, a Pokémon that missed out on making the Pokémon ranking this time, despite appearing on two of the top-10 teams.
The Misdreavus that appeared in the top 10 spooked its opponents as part of a Ghost-type trio alongside Mimikyu and Marowak. Misdreavus itself brought back a tricky strategy from Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver competitive play by combining Mean Look and Perish Song, while Mimikyu and Marowak supported the team by lowering their foes’ Attack with burns from Will-O-Wisp. The team also included a Celesteela that knew Leech Seed and a Tapu Fini that knew Haze and Nature’s Madness, proving that Trainers could be successful even without the ability to dish out powerful attacks.
Another of the top teams featured a very defensive strategy, but stop us if you’ve heard this one already. You may remember one of the top teams in the Battle of Alola included the combination of Skarmory, Toxapex, and Blissey. In the Battle of Alola, the same Trainer once again finished near the top of the field, this time combining Skarmory, Toxapex, and Blissey’s previous evolution, Chansey. While none of these Pokémon are heavy hitters, they could slowly deal damage with Toxic, Toxic Spikes, and Stealth Rock while using Recover, Roost, and Soft-Boiled to stay healthy. These Pokémon were joined by a Tapu Bulu that knew both Leech Seed and Substitute, a tricky Pokémon to take down for opponents using similarly defensive teams.
Whether you prefer fast-paced battles full of quick knockouts or slower, defensive matches, we hope you enjoyed the Alola Friendly Online Competition. Stay tuned to the Pokémon Global Link for information on more Online Competitions and global missions, and check out Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon video game strategy and analysis.
Source: Pokémon Global Link