Whenever a new Pokemon game arrives, it's always an exciting time for the competitive Pokemon scene. New Pokemon means new teams and a whole new potential for strategy. Because Pokemon Sun and Moon does not feature all 800 Pokemon available, the teams that people come up with will be much more creative, and they boiled down to the same identical Pokemon. In both VGC 2015 and 2016, nearly all of the finalists had matching or nearly matching teams, mostly consisting of Landorous, Zapdos, Mega Kangaskahn, and overall the same strategy.
For those that aren't aware, VGC, or Video Game Championships, is the official Pokemon competitive format. Players make a team of 6 Pokemon for 2v2 double battles, only at the beginning of each battle the player chooses 4 of their 6 Pokemon to use. This allows for multiple strategies instead of a single one that features your entire team. The rules for VGC differ from year to year, and this year, you are only allowed to use Pokemon found in the Alola Region and no legendaries except the Tapu Guardians. In addition, Mega Pokemon will not be allowed; however, Z-Moves and Ultra Beasts are legal to use.
With all that said, here are five Pokemon you can expect to see in VGC 2017!
Ribombee - Bug/Fairy
HP 60 - ATK 55 - DEF 60 - SPA 95 - SPD 70 - SPE 124
Ribombee at first glance doesn't have much to offer in terms of stats. It's very fragile, and it's most redeeming stat is its Speed at 124 and its Special Attack at 95. Ribombee is easily one of the fastest Pokemon in the new metagame, and 95 Special Attack is just high enough to be threatening. What makes Ribombee an interesting competitor for VGC 2017 is its signature move, Pollen Puff.
Pollen Puff is a bug type move that has 90 base power, which alone puts it on par with moves like Flamethrower and Ice Beam. However, if Pollen Puff is used on a teammate, it actually heals them instead! Healing moves are few and far between in competitive Pokemon, especially in VGC, because it's often more useful to use that move slot for protection or type coverage. Because of Ribombee's lackluster defenses, I see it as a Pokemon that can be brought in when one teammate is low on health, and one has been knocked out. I would probably give it a Focus Sash to hold to make sure it gets at least one recovery or hit off.
Wishiwashi - Water
HP 45 - ATK 20 - DEF 20 - SPA 25 - SPD 25 - SPE 40
HP 45 - ATK 140 - DEF 130 - SPA 140 - SPD 135 - SPE 30
Wishiwashi is one of the most interesting Pokemon we could see in VGC this year. Alone, it has incredibly mediocre stats, but it has a unique ability called Schooling, which assembles a school of Wishiwashi into a single giant Wishiwashi! In its School form, Wishiwashi gains incredible stats that total to over 600! The only lacking stats are Health and Speed, but it s offensive and defensive qualities more than make up for that. Wishiwashi doesn't have any unique attacks, but because its Attack and Special Attack are even, it could invest in either based on what your team needs.
As powerful as Wishiwashi is, it does have a weakness. If Wishiwashi's health goes below 20%, it reverts back to its single form at the end of the turn. At this point, Wishiwashi is fairly useless, and it unfortunately doesn't have the health to make its School form last very long. As far as hold items go, I would probably give it an Assault Vest to minimize as much damage as possible, and I may even pair it with Ribombee to keep that health up.
Tsareena - Grass
HP 72 - ATK 120 - DEF 98 - SPA 50 - SPD 98 - SPE 72
Tsareena is a Pokemon that I can't help be feel is overlooked. It has very well-rounded stats, decent Defenses, and excellent Attack. There are two unique traits about Tsareena that I think will make it formidable. The first is its ability Queenly Majesty, which prevents it from being hit by any moves with priority. This means anything that moves at a higher priority—such as Quick Attack, Fake Out, Extreme speed, Sucker Punch, and by extension anything Flying that Talonflame could use—does not work. Secondly, Tsareena has a unique attack called Trop Kick, which has base power of 70, but it guarantees the target's Attack will drop one stage with every hit.As far as stat distribution goes, it's hard to say what exactly will work best at this point in time. Tsareena has very well-balanced stats and could do well as a bulky build or a speedy one. However, because this current metagame is so focused on bulky Pokemon rather than fast ones, I think a speedy build with a Life Orb is most effective. Trop Kick is an excellent attack, but it's a bit too weak, so a fast build with a Life Orb allows Tsareena to deal the damage she needs, out-speed the slower Pokemon, and survive most non-super effective attacks.
Tapu Lele - Psychic/Fairy
HP 70 - ATK 85 - DEF 75 - SPA 130 - SPD 115 - SPE 95
Some of the core fighters of VGC 2017 will be the Tapu Guardian Pokemon. These are four Fairy types that all share a "Terrain Surge" ability, which activates a different terrain skill upon entry. Tapu Lele is quite possibly the most accessible Tapu of the bunch. Its Psychic and Fairy typing make it only weak to Poison, Steel, and Ghost, and it has exceptional Special Attack. What really makes it stand out from the rest of the Tapu is its Psychic Surge ability, which makes the terrain "Weird." That prevents priority moves from working altogether—essentially Tsareena's ability only it works for all Pokemon.
All of the Tapu have their own advantages. Tapu Koko activates Electric Terrain and pairs excellently with Alolan Raichu, however, Tapu Koko has better Attack than Special Attack and that isn't ideal for an electric type. Tapu Bulu has outstanding Attack and Defense but Grass and Fairy typing make it very weak to Poison. Tapu Fini has good defenses but no power to make an impact, and Misty Terrain isn't very good to begin with. Tapu Lele is the only one out of the group with good stats, good typing, and an ability that doesn't hinder the team or give the enemy team a huge advantage.
Toxapex - Water/Poison
HP 50 - ATK 63 - DEF 152 - SPA 53 - SPD 142 - SPE 35
Toxapex is one of the most defensively frightening Pokemon in Pokemon Sun and Moon. It lacks any substantial health, power, or speed, but its Defense and Special Defense are almost unrivaled for VGC 2017. Even super effective attacks won't be able to easily shut this monster down. Water and Poison typing add on to its defensive nature, making it only weak to Psychic, Electric, and Ground. It won't likely win any fights, so you'll want to build your team around Toxapex, or at the very least have someone to cover its weaknesses.
Toxic is a must have for Toxapex; it doesn't have many other options for dealing damage. It also has a unique move called Baneful Bunker, which acts like Protect, only if an opponent makes contact with Toxapex they become poisoned. Scald is also a good option for other Poison types or Salazzle who can poison Toxapex. Toxapex also has many utilities for keeping itself alive: it can hold Black Sludge to regain health every turn, it can learn Recover, or it can have the ability Regenerator, which restores one third of its health every time it switches out.
This only scratches the surface of what VGC 2017 will have to offer. I haven't even touched on Ultra Beasts or Alolan Pokemon, both of which are definitely going to make sure this year's VGC will be both new and exciting. This will likely be the first of a series of articles, and I'm excited to go over all the other exciting new Pokemon.