Recently I made the decision to go to the "last chance qualifier" for this year's Video Game Championships. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to get used to the format of VGC, but I soon found out how wrong I was. This might be the hardest rule structure I've ever played in. Let's take a look, shall we?
Chapter 1: The Basics
The basic rule structure is as follows: Each player brings any six Pokémon from Unova (with the exception of Genesect, Keldeo, Victini, Reshiram, and Zekrom) and is shown a "team preview" of their competitor's team. They then choose the four Pokémon that they think would be most useful against their opponent and fight with those. It's a double battle, so the first two Pokémon in your team slot are sent out.
With the structure out of the way, let's look at what makes this so different, and so much more difficult, than an average 6v6. Firstly, rounds are a ton shorter. While an average OU tier match is over in about 30-40 turns, due to walls and willy-nilly switches, an average VGC match is about four turns. Yeah, four. It's not like two turn wins are a rarity either. Moves such as Rock Slide and Surf that attack multiple opponents at the same time allow for that.
Chapter 2: The Big Contenders
Your average non-VGC game will probably be littered with Garchomps, Tyranitars, and Machamps, but since VGC mandates that all Pokémon be from Gen V, there are a whole new cast of characters. Let's look at a few, shall we?
These two genies are common mostly because they are statistically some of the best Pokémon in the 5th gen that aren't banned. I left out Tornadus, because he fills a different niche that I'll talk about later. Landorus and Thundurus mainly serve as sweepers.
These guys both sport the ability "Prankster," which gives their non-damaging moves an increased priority. Both of these Pokes can learn "Tailwind," which doubles the speed of your team for four turns, which is a huge advantage in the short rounds of VGC. Other uses of this ability include taunting to stop trick room teams, status effects, etc. Tornadus is the more offensive of the two, and can act as a sweeper as well, with access to Acrobatics, which, with the help of a Flight Gem is a force with which to be reckoned. (Gah, grammar makes clichés sound even dumber. Moving on.)
With rounds being so short, a trick room team is a VERY viable option. When it comes to trick room, the Pokémon I listed are the best in the business. Musharna will usually set up Trick Room, due to its massive bulk, and then Amoonguss and Chandelure, along with some other slow Poke (lulz C wut I did thar?), will take advantage of it. Amoonguss will usually use spore to put the opponent's Pokémon to sleep while Chandelure wipes the floor by using Heat Wave.
Other stars are Terrakion, Jellicent, Mienshao, and some others. It's a fairly small group that gets used often, really.
Chapter 3: Miscellaneous Stuff
Now for just a few tips. First is that Protect is insanely useful here. Because switching out is way more of a risk, due to the reduced number of Pokémon you can bring in, an alternative is the use of Protect. It also allows you to "scout" and see what moves your opponent are using. Because of this, Encore sees some use, because people will try and trap you into protecting.
Another tidbit is how useful the type gems are in this structure. They increase the damage of a move of its corresponding type by 50%, then are consumed like a berry would be. Because Pokémon only get one or two opportunities to attack in this metagame anyway, these things are pretty baller, especially with a move like Acrobatics, which is stronger when without an item. That way, you are able to do a powerful flying attack that is powered up by flight gem then continue using the boosted Acrobatics due to your not having any items.
There you have it, Pokéfolks. If any of you are going to the VGC last chance qualifier, I'll see you in Indianapolis.