Prepare for Trouble, and, as always, make it Double, Puclonians! It is time for a VERY special installment of Double Trouble. Did you read the word “Celebrate” in the title? You read titles before clicking to read more, right? Of course you do. So you know what that means!

Yup. We’ve had a birthday! August 8th was MickeyPanda’s birthday! Unfortunately we did not celebrate it last week which would have been more timely due to Double Trouble being moved to a biweekly schedule (sorry, y’all – real life taking necessarily taking priority) but I am so excited to celebrate it now. And as an extra especially fun fact that is all the more timely keeping in mind the PUCL Podcast’s next topic, MickeyPanda shares her birthday with Red from the Manga! How cool is that? Very, indubitably.

As is tradition, for our special “Celebrate” editions of Double Trouble, paying tribute to the PUCL writers and their hard work on behalf of this community, I asked MickeyPanda what some of her favorite Pokémon were to be the subject of this article. So without further ado…

WAILMER

One of MickeyPanda’s favorite Pokemonis the totally adorable Wailmer! And whereas with most NFE Pokémon that are favorites of the writers usually get mentioned in these articles with their evolutions being examined for the VGC, Wailmer will get the full treatment without addressing Wailord.

Because it technically can be justified over its evolution, Wailord, with an Eviolite giving it better bulk, and there being a plethora of more offensive Water types anyway if you were looking for offensive prowess as a reason to use Wailord over Wailmer. What would you DO with a Wailmer on your team? Ummmmm… it learns Icy Wind! Icy Wind is a fantastic move for providing Speed support to your team. Oh, and Soak – it can learn Soak which has QUITE limited distribution and be used to a variety of fun ends such as making an opponent weak to a partner’s attacks or making a Shedinja weak to just two types. And not much that learns it is particularly viable in the first place, so definitely capitalize on something that unique! Wailmer also learns a variety of other utility moves that could be put to good use in the VGC such as Tickle and Swagger. And even its Hidden Ability, Pressure, can be of use in the VGC for making opponents run out of PP on low PP moves (it can happen, especially in conjuction with Protect). If we’re being honest, we know there are better, more viable choices for your Water type than a Wailmer. But if you do ever find yourself using an Eviolite Wailmer in the VGC, take heart in knowing that it will not be completely dead useless, and that there are a number of things it can accomplish.

(MEGA) LUCARIO

Next on MickeyPanda’s list of favorites (that all happen to be blue in hue) is Lucario, and by extension, Mega Lucario. And WOW has Gen VI been good to Lucario. Just looking at Gen VI, Lucario has had remarkable success in the VGC. Which makes sense because a lot of its qualities are desirable in the VGC but even more specifically they are fantastic qualities to have in a VGC where Mega Evolution exists. Everyone knows of the world’s most famous Pachirisu that won worlds last year, but lest anyone forget, Jeudy Azzarelli came in second place right behind Sejun Park at Worlds last year with a team featuring Mega Lucario. And Lucario has been on plenty of other successful teams at Regional at National tournaments (Mega and non).

The first thing that Lucario has in its favor for the VGC in its current format is the Abilities it has access to, the big winner being Inner Focus. In a format where Fake Out has huge utility and is a common move on THE most common Pokémon in the format (Mega Khangaskhan) and Rockslide is more common than Zubat in a cave, having Inner Focus is highly valuable very frequently. Justified and Steadfast both have merits to them, but Inner Focus definitely wins best in show for Lucario’s abilities to use in the VGC. Making Lucario even more appealing in the VGC is its dual typing combination of Steel and Fighting. Fighting types used to be one of the most prominent in the VGC, but they really have dwindled in visibility in a post-Fairy type world. And it isn’t JUST Fairy types that contributed to this: Consider everyone’s favorite Aerilite-using Mega Evolution, and everyone’s favorite priority-Brave Bird spammer, and the fact that virtually all the most commonly used redirection Pokémon resist Fighting (seriously: Amoonguss, Clefairy/Clefable, Togekisss, and Volcarona ALL resist Fighting). The metagame has become far less hospitable to the Fighting Type which was one of the most prominent types in it just a couple of years ago. But Lucario’s additional Steel typing in a format where Steel is much more useful as an attacking type greatly assists it, crushing the same Fairy types that have scared away many of its Fighting type compatriots. And then there’s the fact that Lucario has access to redirection itself and has an excellent Mega Evolution with tremendous offensive presence and a fantastic speed tier.

Perhaps the best thing about Lucario’s Mega Evolution for the VGC specifically is the fact that Lucario does not NEED to always Mega Evolve, making it a fantastic secondary Mega on dual Mega teams. That is a huge selling point for Lucario in a format where many people pick one Mega Evolution and build just around it. Do keep in mind Jeudy Azzarelli’s second place-winning Worlds team last year featured Mega Lucario ALONGSIDE Mega Charizard Y, after all. And of course, ever a selling point for many of the most successful VGC Pokémon, Lucario is deceptively versatile: it can go physical OR Special OR mixed, it has priority, AND it offers a remarkable amount of support for such an offensive Pokmeon with access to moves such as Follow Me for redirection, Quick Guard against priority, Feint to get past Protect, and even Helping Hand AND Heal Pulse.

If you are interested in utilizing Lucario for yourself in the VGC, even moreso than with other Pokémon you need to consider the rest of your team. Are you using Lucario’s Mega Evolution (which is certainly not a requirement to have success with the jackal)? If so, is it the only Mega Evolution on the team, or is it part of a dual-Mega team? Most Lucario are presumed to have two STAB moves two match its two types, but even that leads to multiple options? Physical, or special? Are you running priority, and if so, what does it achieve? Once you pick your attacking moves is when the real versatility kicks in. What exactly do you want (Mega/) Lucario to DO for you? While Protect is frequently considered a de facto move on Pokémon in the VGC, Lucario is a Pokémon you can see NOT running it often enough (or Detect, which it also has). Do you want Lucario’s situational redirection support? Would you like it behind a Substitute? Blocking opposing priority? Getting past Protect? Boosting allies? Use Lucario’s last two moveslots to accomplish what your team needs most from it.

(MEGA) BLASTOISE

Before going into any more actual analysis, we all really need to applaud MickeyPanda for championing a very underappreciated subset of Pokémon. MickeyPanda’s very favorite Pokémon is none other than Wartortle, a middle evolution. Oh sure, everyone loves their cute starters and thinks their fully evolved forms are soooo badass and cool. But what about the Middle Stage Pokémon? Often, they’re no longer cute and plush sized, but they also aren’t yet the big Mega Evolution-capable final forms with all the bells and whistles who have reached their zenith. A comparison between these middle evolution Pokémon and puberty would have a good amount of common ground, and these Pokémon deserve love too. So major kudos to your taste in Pokémon, MickeyPanda.

And as is also the standard procedure, when a writer’s favorite Pokémon is not fully evolved, for convenience we celebrate their favorite Pokémon but we examine its fully evolved form in the VGC. And of the Kanto Starters, Blastoise is the OG of the VGC. With the advent of Mega Evolution, Charizard and Venusaur have both been heavily popularized whereas you would never see them before. But Blastoise has seen use (and success) BEFORE Mega Evolution was a thing. How did that happen, you may be asking yourself?

Fake Out. The influence and power of Fake Out is something stressed in my articles regularly, because its impact is REAL. And wouldn’t you know, Blastoise can learn Fake Out. And Blastoise is the only fully evolved pure Water type to learn Fake Out, which means it has a distinction, which means it can have a niche, which means there could be teams for which it is the best choice for a team slot.

Getting a Mega Evolution is also noteworthy, of course. (Mega) Blastoise definitely was on more successful teams during VGC 14 than during any other year. But it is worthwhile to address its richer history in the VGC compared with other starters than have now eclipsed it in popularity. As the only Mega Evolution with the Mega Launcher ability and all the moves to use with it, in addition to the popular (but tricky) Water Spout, Mega Blastoise is definitely viable in this metagame, although it is less popular this year compared to last due to the influx of Water types once again available in this year’s format such as Suicune, Milotic, and Gastrodon.

If you are interested in using Blastoise on your team in the VGC, make sure it’s the right Pokémon you want for the job, first. Because there are a LOT of Water types, good Water types, bulky Water types, powerful Water types, out there. Most of which will also not require your Mega slot. So you need to be sure the Water type you use is the best one possible for what you need. Mega Blastoise stands out from the rest with access to Fake Out support, Water Spout, Mega Launcher, and a mono Water typing. Does your team best capitalize on that combination of characteristics? If so, perhaps Blastoise is the right Pokémon for your team. What nature you want for Blastoise will depend on how fast or slow you are comfortable with it and what forms of Speed control your team uses (remember, Blastoise also learns Icy Wind and can provide Speed control that way). After settling that, decide what coverage and utility you want. In spite of getting a bunch of moves boosted by Mega Launcher, it is entirely possible to run a viable set without any of the boosted moves at all (Protect/Fake Out/Water Spout/Ice Beam, for example). The pulse/aura moves are great when you can’t fit an additional Pokémon with a different type on your team but want particular coverage. Like using Aura Sphere for Fighting Coverage, something very few Water types can offer. I will say the one Mega Launcher-boosted move you should definitely avoid is Dragon Pulse, though. This is NOT a Mega Evolution anime special. Ice Beam has far better coverage and hits a lot of the dragons, including Mega Salamence, much harder on top of nailing other targets Dragon Pulse does is merely neutral on such as the genies. The return to a national dex format has put Blastoise on a backburner in terms of popularity but it can definitely still be used to success.

Happy Birthday, MickeyPanda! And thank you so much your awesome work that you have contributed to our PUCL community (and as a fellow writer, I know it IS work – especially the many awesome pictures you insert)! For anyone that has not read “The Underground Star Scoop” by Mickey Panda, do so immediately. As someone that very rarely actually watches to Pokémon TV show but still wants to know what Ash and company are up to, it is a fantastic resource. I LOVE reading MickeyPanda’s synopses and ratings.

Until next time, Puclonians! Looks like I’m blasting off again!