Trainer Tower VGC 17 Meta Snapshot [December 2016]


This analysis will take into account tournaments of Regional level or higher that took place between 1/12/16 and 31/12/16. This includes the following:

Top 15 Pokémon by Usage
Pokemon Name Times Used (Out of 83) % Of Teams
Porygon2 45 54.2%
 Marowak-AAlola Form 37  44.6%
Tapu Koko 36  43.4%
Celesteela 35  42.2%
Tapu Lele 26  31.3%
Garchomp 23  27.7%
Arcanine 21  25.3%
Kartana 21  25.3%
Tapu Bulu  19  22.9%
Gyarados 16  19.3%
Gastrodon East Sea 15  18.1%
 Araquanid 15  18.1%
Muk-A Alola Form 14  16.9%
Krookodile  13  15.7%
Gigalith 12  14.5%


Being the only Pokémon seeing usage in over 50% of top cut teams in the month of December, Porygon2 has quickly established itself as the premier Trick Room setter in a format otherwise somewhat bereft of speed control options. Its ability to provide offensive support itself makes Porygon2 very versatile, as it can be used to provide a Trick Room mode on teams that don’t rely heavily on Trick Room. Below is a standard Porygon2 set that you can expect to see regularly. Common variations from this include Tri Attack, Shadow Ball, and Toxic as alternate moves.

Standard Porygon2

Marowak-A Alola Form

Second place in usage, Alolan Marowak has seen early success in the VGC 17 metagame. Its low speed tier allows it to be used as a Trick Room attacker or even an answer to opposing Trick Room, though the prevalence of Pokémon like Araquanid and Gigalith on Trick Room teams somewhat limits Marowak in this latter role. Due to its bulk and ability however, Marowak has proven to be useful even on teams that don’t opt to use a Trick Room setter. Its ability; Lightning Rod makes it a popular answer to the extremely prevalent Tapu Koko, as well as a common partner for the likes of Celesteela and Gyarados. Below is a standard Alolan Marowak set. This set is one of the more set-in-stone Pokémon of the metagame so far, though variations do exist, and may include other natures, such as Brave or even Careful. Perish Song has seen usage over Bonemerang on Enosh Shachar’s 2nd place San Jose Regionals team, and Substitute has also been used in the same moveslot on teams such as Till Böhmer’s 12th place London International team.

Standard Marowak-A

Tapu Koko 

Tapu Koko is the fastest Pokémon in the top 15, and the equal second fastest in the metagame as a whole, only outsped by Pheromosa. Its underwhelming offensive stats have quickly established boosting items such as Life Orb and Choice Specs as commonalities on Koko. Though its base attack is higher than its special attack, the latter option is more commonly utilised thanks to its lacking physical movepool, which contains no fairy-type option. Conversely, its special movepool contains a myriad of useful options, including Thunderbolt, Discharge, Dazzling Gleam, Volt Switch, and Hidden Power. Below is a standard special attacking Tapu Koko set. Common variations in items include Choice Specs, Focus Sash, and even Assault Vest. Common alternative moves include Volt Switch, Hidden Power Ice, Nature’s Madness, and Taunt. It’s also worth mentioning that its nature is also variable, with both Timid and Modest being viable options.

Standard Tapu Koko


Celesteela’s standard moveset was established fairly early on in the VGC 17 metagame, with minor variations in its last moveslot. One of the more interesting intricacies of Celesteela is its Beast Boost ability, since it can be EVd to boost almost any of its stats. The most popular of these boosts early on was attack, however in recent weeks special defence has been the more commonly favoured boost. Another interesting detail on Celesteela sets is the speed stat, as speed-creeping opposing Celesteela often leads to success in the infamous Celesteela mirror match, as the first Celesteela to set up a Substitute and subsequent Leech Seed usually wins. A somewhat standard Celesteela set used by Till Böhmer in the London International is listed below, and features a considerable speed creep. Common variations from this set include Flamethrower or Wide Guard instead of Protect, as well as changes to the nature and therefore stat receiving Beast Boost.

Standard Celesteela

Tapu Lele 

Tapu Lele is December’s second most used of the Tapu quartet, featuring in just under a third of top cut teams in the month. Its ability; Psychic Surge provides Tapu Lele’s psychic-type moves with a considerable boost in power, allowing it to OHKO or 2HKO almost anything that doesn’t resist its STAB moves. Below is a standard Tapu Lele set. Both Timid and Modest are viable natures, and choice usually depends on the role it is required to perform. The item choice on Tapu Lele is highly variable, with other options including Choice Scarf, Life Orb or Sitrus Berry. Psychic and Moonblast are standard options, with Dazzling Gleam and Substitute alternatives to Taunt.

Standard Tapu Lele


Garchomp has quickly established itself as the premier versatile ground-type in the VGC 17 format. With a myriad of viable item choices, Garchomp’s unpredictability is one of its greatest assets. Its moveset is fairly consistent however, with Earthquake being the mainstay, supported by a mix of Dragon Claw, Poison Jab, Rock Slide and Fire Fang. A standard Garchomp set is listed below, though common variations include Assault Vest, Choice Scarf, Focus Sash, or Yache Berry.

Standard Garchomp


Arcanine is largely outclassed by Marowak as an offensive fire-type, though its niche comes in the role of a defensive option on teams featuring the likes of Celesteela and Gastrodon, providing them with a safe switch-in against the likes of Kartana. A standard Arcanine set as used in Till Böhmer’s London International team is listed below. Common alternative sets include Morning Sun or Roar instead of Protect, as well as Burn Up in combination with Firium Z instead of Flamethrower and Sitrus Berry. Flare Blitz is also a common attacking choice on these more supportive sets, as it allows Arcanine to handle specially defensive variants of Celesteela better, and consistently deals more damage.

Standard Arcanine


Though Kartana’s movepool is underwhelming, its STAB moves alone, in combination with its excellent speed and attack stats are enough to overcome its shortcomings and make it a force to be reckoned with in the VGC 17 metagame. Said movepool makes Kartana somewhat predictable, as it rarely varies from the standard moveset. Despite this, its ability to take on the likes of Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu and Gastrodon are enough to persuade as many as 25% of top cut teams in December to include it. A standard Kartana set is listed below. Focus Sash is the most common alternative item, with Life Orb and Choice Band other niche choices. On sets without Assault Vest or Choice Band, Night Slash is the move most commonly replaced by Protect.

Standard Kartana

Tapu Bulu 

Tapu Bulu is similar to Tapu Lele in as much as its ability; Grassy Surge ensures that almost anything that doesn’t resists its grass-type moves will be KO’d in one or two hits. Its grassy terrain also has the added bonus of reducing the power of the most common ground type move; Earthquake, providing it with extra defensive utility for its teammates. A standard Tapu Bulu set is listed below, though again its moveset is variable. Leech Seed, Taunt, and Disable are all viable alternatives, and no move on the standard Tapu Bulu set is irreplaceable. Leftovers, Grassium Z, and Assault Vest are all possible alternatives to the Meadow Plate/Miracle Seed on the set below.

Standard Tapu Bulu


Gyarados’s high all round base stats and useful defensive typing make it one of the premier water-types early in the VGC 17 metagame. The supportive set that saw some minor usage in VGC 15 has disappeared in VGC 17 thanks to the nerfs to Thunder Wave and Swagger, with the Dragon Dance set being by far the most used variant of Gyarados. Gyarados’s usage in December came mainly from the first event; the London International, as it faded into the background during the latter regionals in favour of other water-types, namely Araquanid and Tapu Fini. A standard set is listed below, as used by William Tansley in his top 8 run in the London International. Dragon Dance, Waterfall and Protect are the mainstays of the set, with Ice Fang, Taunt, Stone Edge and Earthquake all viable options for the final moveslot. Jolly is often used as an alternative nature to allow Gyarados to outspeed Tapu Koko after a Dragon Dance.

Standard Gyarados

Gastrodon East Sea

Gastrodon is unique in the metagame in as much as it has almost no offensive pressure in most situations, relying primarily on its ability, typing, and defensive bulk to wall a vast number of common Pokémon, beating them slowly with Scald, Toxic and Recover. Its ability to redirect the powerful water-type attacks from the likes of Golduck, Gyarados, and Araquanid provides Gastrodon with utility that any defensive team appreciates, even simply for the team preview pressure and switch in mind-games. A standard Gastrodon set is listed below, though Sassy, Relaxed, and Calm natures are also viable. Scald, Recover and Toxic are the mainstays of the set, with Hidden Power Ground, Stockpile and Protect all viable alternatives to Ice Beam. Sitrus Berry is a common option, though Maranga Berry, Leftovers, or Normalium Z in combination with Stockpile can also be used.

Standard Gastrodon


Araquanid has quickly established itself as one of the premier Trick Room attackers, featuring in combination with Porygon2 on both hard and partial Trick Room teams. Its underwhelming stats (with the exception of fantastic special defence) are subsidised by its fantastic ability; Water Bubble, which simultaneously doubles the power of its water-type moves, halves the damage it takes from fire-type moves, and prevents it from being burned. With Waterium Z, Araquanid gains access to a one-time use nuke powerful enough to KO almost any Pokémon that doesn’t resist it. A standard Araquanid set is listed below. Lunge is a common alternative to Leech Life, with Wide Guard, Substitute and Poison Jab all viable options in the final moveslot. Other item options include Life Orb or Normalium Z in combination with Stockpile.

Standard Araquanid

Muk-A Alola Form

Alolan Muk’s solid typing and well rounded stats, in tandem with access to the combination of Gluttony and Figy Berry have made it a popular choice on many teams. A standard Alolan Muk set, as used by Alex Gomez in his top 16 run at the London International is listed below. Poison Jab and Knock Off are mainstays on any Alolan Muk, with Shadow Sneak, Gunk Shot, Curse, Taunt, Toxic, and Protect all viable options in the other two moveslots. Assurance will also be a viable option once it becomes available after the release of Pokémon Bank. Figy Berry is standard on a Gluttony set, with Assault Vest, Sitrus Berry and Life Orb all options on a Muk set with Poison Touch or Power of Alchemy.

Standard Muk-A


Krookodile has played second fiddle to Garchomp as a ground-type option thus far in the format. Though it does boast the ever-useful Intimidate ability, it’s lower stats across the board leave Krookodile slightly less favoured than its dragon-type counterpart. That said, there are a number of reasons to choose Krookodile over Garchomp. The aforementioned Intimidate ability, the absence of a 4x weakness, access to STAB dark-type moves, and access to Taunt are all valid reasons why Krookodile is sometimes preferred. A standard Krookodile set is listed below. Darkinium Z is perhaps the most common alternative to Groundium Z, though Focus SashAssault Vest and Choice Scarf are also viable options. Earthquake, Crunch and Protect are the mainstays of the standard Krookodile set, with Taunt, Assurance, Rock Slide and Snarl all common filler moves. Krookodile also features on Eevee teams with a moveset involving Power Trip. You can read more about these teams here.

Standard Krookodile


Gigalith has established itself as something of an anti-meta option in VGC 17, being one of the few checks to the common Porygon2 + Araquanid combination, as it can underspeed and OHKO Araquanid with Stone Edge. It also serves as a good option against teams with opposing weather, particularly sun or hail teams, and can pick up OHKOs on common Pokémon including Tapu Lele and Marowak. A standard Gigalith set, as used by William Tansley in his top 8 team at the London International is listed below. Rockium Z is another popular item choice on Gigalith. Stone Edge and Heavy Slam remain popular move choices on Rockium Z sets, with a combination of Wide Guard, Protect, Rock Slide and Earthquake usually filling in the remaining moveslots.

Standard Gigalith

Honorable Mentions

Tapu Fini 

Standard Tapu Fini


Standard Salamence


Standard Pelipper

Common Cores


  • Alola Form
  • East Sea
  •  /

This combination most commonly features Focus Sash Pelipper and Waterium Z Golduck, and functions on the premise that Golduck can pick up a KO on turn 1 with a rain-boosted Z-Hydro Pump, allowing Pelipper to set up Tailwind with the aid of its Focus Sash if necessary. The remaining Pelipper & Golduck in combination with powerful offensive teammates then ideally sweep through the rest of the opposing team within the 3 turns of Tailwind, or at least put the opponent in an unrecoverable position. This core saw most of its December success in the earlier events in the month, failing to make top cut at Dallas regionals. That said, don’t write it off or forget about it, because underprepared teams will suffer quick losses to this core.

Popular checks: East Sea

Specially defensive Porygon2 is a solid way of setting up Trick Room against this combination, as Z-Hydro Pump from Golduck + Scald from Pelipper will not be able to OHKO it. Though setting up Trick Room will not necessarily beat the most well built Pelipper + Golduck teams on the spot, it is almost certainly a good option against these teams. On the other hand, Gastrodon’s ability to take away the rain combination’s access to water-type moves make it the bane of these teams existence. As such, many Pelipper Golduck teams will opt to run the likes of Tapu Bulu, or conceal a Bloom Doom or Hidden Power Grass somewhere on their team.

This combination, termed “terrain offence” or “surge offence” by some, focuses on the synergy between Raichu and Tapu Koko and/or Tapu Lele, who boost Raichu’s STAB electric and psychic-type moves respectively. Raichu on these teams often carry Psychium Z, with Life Orb carried by one of the Tapus, though this does vary.

Popular checks: Alola Form

Again, specially defensive Porygon2 (or Oranguru) is generally bulky enough to take the combination of Raichu Z-move + any attack from the accompanying Tapu to set up Trick Room, greatly hampering the fast and frail Raichu and Tapu combination. Alolan Muk’s typing allows it to OHKO Raichu and Tapu Koko, as well as some frailer variants of Tapu Lele. It can also take any two attacks from any standard combination of these Pokémon thanks to Figy Berry and Gluttony, and its typing ensures it doesn’t have to fear the Psychium Z Raichu, though it does have to be wary of the less common Aloraichium Z variants. Given that these strategies rely heavily on controlling terrains, overwriting these terrains with the likes of Tapu Bulu is a solid option, though switching in on a potential Psychic from Tapu Lele can be risky, even without psychic terrain active. Finally, Alolan Marowak is a very clean answer to surge offence teams that only run the Tapu Koko + Raichu combination, but suffers against those that run Tapu Lele.

Touted the early “goodstuffs”, this core was initially most common with the addition of Garchomp and Gyarados. That team of six has since faded into the background, seen as too susceptible to combinations such as Porygon2 + Araquanid. However, this core of four still remains somewhat popular, and is still a potent combination, as shown by Austin Bastida-Ramos, who took it to a 9-0 swiss record at the recent Dallas Regionals.

Popular checks: East SeaAlola Form

Araquanid in Trick Room is one of the best ways to break this core down, as none of the 4 listed resist its powerful water-type moves. Gastrodon can prosper in this match up, but has to be wary of Porygon2 with Toxic. Alolan Muk is able to KO Tapu Koko and Alolan Marowak, as well as remove Porygon2’s Eviolite and Celesteela’s Leftovers with Knock Off. Rain teams that feature Tapu Koko with Taunt can also cause this core problems.

Porygon2 + Araquanid is perhaps the strongest two mon Trick Room core in the current metagame, and can almost be tacked on to any team as a small core, or can feature on hard Trick Room teams, such as that of Gavin Michaels’ San Jose Regional winning team. Porygon2 often carries Thunderbolt on these teams to deal with the likes of Gyarados, which Araquanid otherwise struggles with.

Popular checks: East Sea

Gigalith and Gastrodon are two of the more common checks to this combination, the former because it underspeeds Araquanid and can OHKO it with Stone Edge, the latter because it restricts Araquanid’s access to its prized water-type moves and takes very little damage from the standard Porygon2 set. Other than these Pokémon, preventing Porygon2 from setting up Trick Room with Taunt is also a popular approach to neutering this combination.

This combination of bulky Pokémon with good synergy both in terms of typing and abilities has seen some early success in the VGC 17 format. Though there is really no single Pokémon that can break this core, certain combinations and techs can give these teams a tough time. Porygon2 that carry Toxic, or a well supported Kartana can cause these teams problems, and as such, this core has faded somewhat later in the December metagame, failing to make top cut at the latest regionals (Dallas). Once again however, it’s important not to write this core off or disregard it when teambuilding.

Popular checks: 

As mentioned, no single Pokémon can truly claim to single-handedly beat this core, however, opposing Pokémon that carry both Toxic and Recover such as Porygon2 and Gastrodon can whittle this core, whilst a well supported Tapu Fini (whose Misty Surge denies access to the crucial Toxic status) often in combination with Kartana can cause plenty of problems.


The combination of Tapu Fini and Kartana featured on as many as 7 of the top 16 teams from the recent Dallas Regional, with all but one of these 7 accompanied by an Intimidate user in the form of Arcanine or Krookodile. Similarly to Gastrodon/Celesteela/Arcanine, there is no single Pokémon that can truly claim to beat this core. Tapu Fini’s Misty Surge can help prevent Kartana from being burned, whilst Arcanine helps complete a fire/water/grass core, resulting in great type synergy.

Popular checks: 

As mentioned, no Pokémon single-handedly beats this core, however a well supported Kartana or Tapu Koko can pressure this combination, particularly the variants with Krookodile rather than Arcanine. Conversely, Garchomps that run Fire Fang and Groundium Z (though rare) can cause problems for the Arcanine variants.


  1. I’ve been waiting to see a “meta snapshot” feature for Pokemon VGC for a long time, and I’m glad someone has taken the effort to make this happen! Hope to see more of these in the future

  2. Thanks for taking to the time to write this!

  3. Thank you for posting this, this helps a lot!

  4. Love all the info i can see almost daily in this page, im a noob learning about this game and enjoy a lot all the things i can read and learn here and in stunkfist. Thx a lot for the good job.

  5. That is the best VGC couverage I have seen since I started playing. You guys are doing great

  6. Great stuff! I hope you keep updating this!

  7. Thanks for the article, these will be great to see how the metagame evolves.

  8. Just FYI, the sets provided don’t appear to be fully importable because – was used instead of -. Probably just an auto-correct issue which can be easily fixed but I thought I would let you know in case other people have an issue.

    Despite that this information is great for an aspiring VGC player like myself. 🙂

    • Thanks for pointing that out, as you expected it was an easy-to-fix auto-correct issue. We’ve resolved it now, and you should be able to import the sets.

      Thank you for the kind words, we’re glad you enjoy the content

  9. Thanks for the post, really informative and I love the analyses of common cores. We can see that you guys put in a lot of work into this!
    For a little hopefully constructive criticism though, I believe the metagame in the Dallas Regionals shifted so much that it shouldn’t be stacked together with the London and SJ metagame into one post. Including it in the January may also not work because Pokebank could bring about some drastic changes. I personally think that this segment can be published over irregular intervals, as it can capture a more accurate “snapshot” of the metagame at the period.

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