Some of the world’s top Pokémon Trainers are heading to Sao Paolo, Brazil, to compete in the Latin American International Championships from April 21–23, 2017. With big prize money on the line, battles are sure to be intense. Plus, August’s World Championships in Anaheim are drawing near, and time is running short for Trainers to earn their final Championship Points.
The Latin American Trainers made a memorable impression at the 2016 World Championships with their spirited cheers for Argentinian Sebastian Escalante. Sebastian became the first Latin American Trainer to advance to the top cut of the Masters Division World Championships, and he followed up that performance by finishing as the top player after Swiss rounds at this year’s Oceania International Championships.
Sebastian’s fellow Argentinian, Federico Turano, also made it to Day 2 in Melbourne, finishing in 26th place. And many other Latin American Trainers have earned international renown through Battle Spot Rating Battles, most notably Chile’s Estephan Valdabenito. Trainers should expect a challenge from Latin America’s elite players in Brazil.
Top Trends from Melbourne
Only six weeks separate the Oceania International Championships from the event in Latin America, so winning strategies from Australia are sure to have an impact. Any recent winning team could reemerge in Sao Paolo, but aspiring Champions should focus their preparations on the following contenders.
We wrote about Zoe’s Magnezone following Oceania. Her Drifblim and Tapu Lele are also key Pokémon other Trainers may emulate.
Trainers have struggled to find reliable Pokémon to control Speed since the 2017 format was announced, and Drifblim is the first to match Porygon2’s reliability. Drifblim is typically given either a Psychic Seed and paired with Tapu Lele, or a Misty Seed paired with Tapu Fini. Consuming a Seed activates Drifblim’s Unburden Ability, which doubles its Speed. That, in turn, enables Drifblim to set up Tailwind and speed up its entire team. The Blimp Pokémon also enfeebles foes with Will-O-Wisp or Hypnosis and deals supplemental damage with Shadow Ball or Acrobatics. Drifblim should stay afloat for the remainder of the season.
Zoe’s Tapu Lele isn’t surprising for its held item or move set (Choice Specs with its most popular attacks) but for the way it was trained. Its Special Attack-increasing Modest Nature is combined with training to achieve near-maximum HP and Defense. We’ve seen the strategy of combining an offensive Nature with percentage-based damage boosts (Psychic Terrain and Choice Specs, for example) and defensive training excels at many World Championships. This Tapu Lele seems ahead of its time, so we expect to see Trainers explore similar strategies on different Pokémon as the season continues.
Sebastian Escalante leads the Latin American Championship Points leaderboard and finished 5th in Melbourne, making him one of the most important players to watch.
His Melbourne team included Tapu Koko and the popular “AFK” combination of Arcanine, Tapu Fini, and Kartana, but it’s the remaining two Pokémon that stand out. Snorlax has been blocking Trainers’ paths for decades, but recently it’s become the most popular choice to thwart teams that rely too heavily on Trick Room or using Special Attacks. Persian is unique—it brings an extremely quick Fake Out and supports its team with Taunt. It can even heal incoming teammates with Z-Parting Shot, a largely new tactic to this season’s Video Game Championships. Since his fellow Argentinian Federico Turano also used Snorlax, Arcanine, Persian, and Tapu Fini in Melbourne, we advise Trainers plan for these Pokémon in Sao Paolo.
Whether to Go with Weather
Choosing a weather-based strategy is one of the riskier—but potentially more rewarding—strategies to adopt for a large tournament. If too many opponents bring Pokémon that can change the weather, performing well becomes almost impossible. But the chance of success is high when the skies are clear.
Tommy Cooleen dove in with rain-based teams in both London and Melbourne, and he was rewarded with two top-8 finishes. We wrote about his genius decision to teach Pelipper’s Brine already, and Tommy’s team included two other gutsy Pokémon choices. Buzzwole isn’t common in high-level play, but it troubles teams reliant on Porygon2 and pairs well with Pelipper’s Drizzle. Muk presents risks similar to rain. Its Curse move can win games singlehandedly, but one shot from the popular Tectonic Rage Z-Move will usually knock it out. Despite Muk’s lessened popularity since London, Tommy proved it’s still a Pokémon to respect moving forward.
Tommy was defeated by Ben Kyriakou, one of three Trainers to make top cut with a Gigalith that knew Curse and held an HP-restoring Berry. With so many Gigalith in the final stage of the tournament, it was almost guaranteed that Tommy’s Drizzle-based strategy would eventually be cleared away. Another of the Trainers who used Gigalith—Nico Davide Cognetta—joined Ben and Tommy as the only players to make top cut in both Internationals. Note their teams—they’ve all shown serious expertise at forming winning teams for prestigious events.
Nico, Ben, and quarterfinalist Nick Navarre had more than Gigalith in common. All three also included Porygon2, Gyarados, Arcanine, and Tapu Koko on their teams. The way the Pokémon were trained varied between Trainers, however—facing down Nick or Ben’s Gyarados (holding Groundium Z) required different solutions than Nico’s (with Flyinium Z).
Another team demands special mention. While few Trainers piloted it in Melbourne, the ease with which this team crushed two North American Regional Championships stands out.
Gavin Michaels’s teams are the only “hard Trick Room” teams to achieve major success this season. In fact, he seems to have struck gold. Selecting the right combination of Mimikyu (with Trick Room, Never-Ending Nightmare, Z-Destiny Bond, and Disguise Ability), Porygon2 (with Trick Room and Eviolite), and Hariyama (Fake Out) can almost always guarantee Trick Room is set up successfully. And the combination of Snorlax’s Belly Drum with Mimikyu’s Trick Room or Z-Destiny Bond (which causes attacks to target Mimikyu for the remainder of the turn) forms another potent combination we’ve seen many Trainers emulate. Expect to see this pairing—and perhaps the whole team—in Sao Paolo.
You’ll be able to see all the top teams from Sao Paolo on Pokemon.com shortly after the event concludes. Remember to check back to Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon TCG and video game strategy and tournament analysis.