Double Trouble: Captivate Your Opponents – Gender in the VGC
Prepare for Trouble, and make it Double, Puclonians! As the VGC Writer for PUCL, I feel obligated to open this week with a reminder that, should anyone be interested, there are a number of large VGC Regional Tournaments taking place all over the U.S. this weekend.
…This Valentine’s Day weekend. Why the Sophie’s Choice, Nintendo? Why do you twist the knife in me so? It kills me because the largest VGC Regional that I can actually attend in person is on Valentine’s Day. And while many of us may enjoy occasionally pretending otherwise, there are things in our lives more important to us than playing Pokémon. My relationship to my boyfriend of two years and the Valentine’s Day dinner we reserved weeks in advance – a little bit frustratingly – are some of those things that supersede even my enthusiasm for the VGC. So I will NOT be attending the most readily accessible large-scale VGC Regional Tournament near me this weekend.
The amorous holiday does serve as the springboard for this week’s topic, however: the role of gender in VGC play! Although the gender of a Pokémon is usually arbitrary to performance, or simply a matter of aesthetics for Pokémon with vastly different appearances based on gender, there are certain circumstances where a Pokémon’s gender is relevant and can be taken advantage of tactically, some of them being more prominent in the VGC format. So there is worthwhile information to be gleaned from Digging into the subject as a topic. And believe it or not, although the move’s name is appropriate for the holiday, none of it involves the super gimmicky and unreliable move, Attract either.
Rather, did you know there is a gender-dependant spread move in Pokémon? It is a non-damaging move so when looking at possible spread attacks for your Pokémon, it often gets overlooked. But it ought not be so readily dismissed, because Captivate can be quite useful in the right circumstances as a tech move and has actually been used to good effect on occasion in the VGC format in years prior. Captivate is a spread move that only targets the opponent’s Pokémon , reducing their Special Attack stat by not one by two stages! In the best of circumstances, halving the damage of two Pokémon you are facing against in a single turn with a single move is really potent.
Of course, this is supposing both opposing Pokémon are Special Attackers, on top of being the opposite gender of the Pokémon using Captivate – neither of which are qualifiers you would want to rely on. With that in mind, Captivate’s potency plummets… or so it would appear at the surface level. You may be asking yourself how this is any less gimmicky than Attract. Aside from targeting both of your opponent’s Pokémon in a double battle and having a guaranteed and instant effect instead of relying on luck when Captivate does work on an opponent, there are also a number of relevant Pokémon in the VGC format Captivate comes in handy against.
Like Latios. And Thundurus. Especially his Therian Forme. Note my use of a male pronoun here – when talking about Pokémon, I do not gender them unless the Pokémon is specifically gendered (as was the case last week with the always-female Mega Kangaskhan). And there are a number of exclusively male Pokémon that Captivate can be utilized on very reliably. The aforementioned pair can claim being the primary justification for ever looking to Captivate, but the move can be used with confidence against the likes of Nidoking and, in years past, Landorus with his (no longer available) Hidden Ability. And poor Tornadus, too, I suppose. During Gen V especially, when Dragon Gem Draco Meteors were a VGC standard, if your team was weak to Latios, adding Captivate as a tech was a legitimate way to better handle him.
The only Pokémon to ever see notable usage with Captivate is Sableye. Because of Prankster, a female Sableye can be relied upon to use Captivate on any opponents’ Latios or Genies. Of course, with Gems no longer available in Gen VI Latios, while still good, is having a rougher year than he has in the past. And the biggest allure of Thundurus currently is Prankster support (his Taunt being faster than a Sableye’s Captivate anyway). So Captivate is currently weaker than it has been in the past. Still, if you are using a female Sableye and have room for it, the move comes in handy, particularly often against the plethora of Pokémon with gender ratios of seven to one for males to females. And although Captivate has never been an especially common attack, because it has developed a reputation for its utility against male Legendaries, some VGC players always opt to make their Special Attackers female whenever possible just in case.
On the flip side, Mega Kangaskhan, Florges, Latias, and Cresselia are always female, so a male Pokémon with Captivate could be used against them reliably, hypothetically. Unfortunately, Mega Kangaskhan is a Physical attacker and the latter three are all primarily used as support Pokémon rather than hard hitters, leading Captivate to be primarily aimed at the males.
If you wanted to exploit Mega Kangaskhan’s locked gender, you would be better off using a male Pokémon with the Cute Charm ability, which at least would not require spending a turn using Attract to cause Infatuation. Since Mega Kangaskhan hits twice, that effectively doubles the odds of Cute Charm activating, too. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Pokémon with access to the ability have better alternatives for the VGC available to them. But the one Cute Charm Pokémon that could justify the ability is the adorable Clefable. Clefable is also seeing more use than ever in the VGC this year thanks to its new Fairy typing combined with its access to Follow Me for redirection support. Follow Me and Cute Charm complement each other quite well, so if you find yourself looking to the Original Fairy of Pokémon it Is worth considering. The only other ability in Pokémon that relates to gender is much harder to ever justify, however. Never use Rivalry.
The final situation of gender being relevant to the VGC to be covered today is with regards to Meowstic. While Meowstic can be either gender, you will pretty much never encounter a female Meowstic in the VGC. With what Hidden Ability Meowstic has depending on its gender, male Meowstic was blessed with the incredible Prankster ability where as long as you have status moves to abuse, your stats do not necessarily matter, and male Meowstic definitely has the movepool to use it well. Female Meowstic receives the Competitive ability instead. And while Competitive is an especially fantastic ability for the VGC, Meowstic’s has never received the popularity alternative Competitive Pokémon have for one reason or another. It lacks the type coverage Wigglytuff can run and definitely lacks the bulk and power that has made Milotic especially popular this year, on top of pure Psychic typing being arguably quite underwhelming for an attacking Pokémon in the VGC.
So there is a move, an ability, and also a Pokémon, all where gender plays a very relevant role in the VGC. Perhaps gender is not as arbitrary in competitive battling as many of us would like to think. At the very least, do try to breed for female Pokémon when breeding your Special Attackers just in case.
That’s all from me this week, PUCL! Whether you have plans with a special someone this Valentine’s Day, are attending a Regional Event, or just chilling out without plans, have a great weekend, y’all. Until next time, looks like I’m blasting off again!