Double Trouble: Double Megas

Prepare for trouble and make it double! Double Trouble, of course. Let me start this week with a question: how is the upcoming PUCL-sponsored UUTC like the VGC? No, no – aside from promoting acronyms, otherwise I’d have thrown the TCG in there as well.

The answer is that you register more Pokémon than you take in any one battle! This makes the UUTC much more similar to the VGC format in ways that 6-on-6 single battlers may not be familiar with. There are quite a number of ramifications to how one plays Pokémon when you never take your entire team to battle against an opponent (and neither do they), and in hopes of better preparing people for the UUTC and the VGC simultaneously, today’s topic comes from one such altered aspect: running multiple Mega Pokémon on the same team.

This is already something you can technically do jumping onto any Smogon-created tier whenever you want. Really, if you were of the inclination, you could make your entire team out of mega-evolving Pokémon and give them all their corresponding mega stones. This would obviously be a terrible idea since only one Pokémon on your team is allowed to Mega evolve per battle, but the possibility is there and I am sure someone at some point has done it for laughs. When you are not able to take every one of your registered Pokémon into a battle, however, having more than one Mega suddenly becomes waaaaaay more viable. Having two Megas on your team is, at least. Three for the VGC is perhaps possible, but far from advisable. Plus, one of the rules of the UUTC is that you can only have two Mega Pokémon on your team, anyway, so let’s stick to two as the de facto.
To give you an idea of just how viable running double Megas on the same team is, in the Masters Division at this year’s VGC World Championships,19 of the 60 competitors had two Pokémon on their teams with Mega Stones, including those who took 5th, 4th, and 2nd place – over half of the top five teams had double Megas! That is also including the highest ranking players from both the US and Japan this year. Is it right for every team? No, and you should not try to have double Megas on a team just for the sake of it. But the odds are if you make enough teams over the course of the VGC season at some point some it will be right for some of the teams you make.

A starting guideline is if you are going to be running a second Mega on a team, justify it. Are there certain team-matchups for whom your first chosen Mega-mon is a poor choice to bring? For teams only containing one Mega Evolution, it is actually a common trap for newer players to constantly bring it to battle even when it has a bad matchup just because it is their Mega evolution – if a Mega Evolution is not going to be very effective in a battle, do not bring it into the battle if your other Pokémon will fare better. When you play singles this is never an issue since you take your whole team so it can be easy to fall into this trap when first coming to the VGC. Knowing what one Mega Evolution is weak to and not to bring it up against is the starting point for adding a second Mega, should another Mega Evolution be a really good answer for those situations.
Using the Queen of VGC 2014 as an example, most Mega Kangaskhan, in spite of usually running Sucker Punch, do not like battling in Trick Room (something far more ubiquitous in double battles than singles). They are also weak to Fighting type Pokémon. One of the more common double mega partners for Mega Kanga this last year was Mega Mawile, which can function much better under Trick Room than Mega Kangaskhan and eat Fighting types for breakfast with its soul-consuming Attack stat and a super-effective STAB Play Rough. One can run both of these Megas on the same team and use Mega Kangaskhan as their primary choice for most matches and run Mega Mawile when facing a Trick Room team.

Legal in VGC

The example of Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Mawile together is also a good example because you could also run them together with your own team being the one setting up Trick Room. Given the flexibility of picking four of your six Pokémon for every battle, it is not uncommon for teams to have multiple strategies available to choose from depending on the circumstance. Some teams feature a “Trick Room mode” – while the whole team may not be devoted to using Trick Room to get to victory, enough of it may be tailored to have four Pokémon you can select to use Trick Room as the strategy for a particular battle. While one person might run the two together to have Mega Mawile available to fight in Trick Room when the opponent uses it, another person could run them both and use Mega Mawile when setting Trick Room up themselves – they demonstrate that double Megas should be able to cover things that the other would not want to be present for, but that those circumstances can emerge for different reasons.

Also legal in VGC

One sort of weakness the previous example has is that Kangaskhan and Mawile are both hugely underwhelming Pokémon when unable to Mega Evolve so you can never feasibly bring them both into the same battle. And that is largely the point of having them both – you get to pick which one is more effective for every battle. But one more thing to bear in mind when running double Megas is that some CAN be picked for the same battle. It is very niche and only a serious option for very few combinations, but it is advantageous if you have the option of running both of your mega evolving Pokémon at the same time and have them still function and contribute to your team. This essentially means you lose use of an item on one of them, but it means more combinations of Pokémon to bring to battle are viable for your team, making you even more versatile, potentially. Consider the combination of Mega Charizard Y and Mega Venusaur, another better-known double mega pair of this last year: Venusaur can still definitely pull its weight without Mega Evolving thanks to its Chlorophyll ability and Mega Charizard Y’s Drought support. But for battles when Mega Charizard Y and sun are not a good choice to bring, such as against Rain and Sand teams that can win a weather war, Mega Venusaur can very often shine. In best-of-three matches, running two Megas on the same team that can be used together in the same first battle can allow you to surprise your opponent in the second or third battle should you Mega Evolve the other one.

Some other Pokémon that can be effectively run on double mega teams without having to always Mega Evolve include Gyarados, Scizor, and Tyranitar. Even while holding their Mega Stone and not using it, they all have qualities that let them contribute to your team without having to mega evolve every single battle even without the benefit from an item if you have two Mega evolving Pokémon on your team. With ORAS also out now, Salamence and Metagross join their ranks. Metagross in particular will likely be a very versatile Pokémon for such double mega teams because it has a fantastic Mega Evolution but can still get a lot done without needing an item or mega evolving every time it is used. Salamence is currently the more dominant Mega, but if it isn’t going to Mega Evolve, it is going to miss having an item more so it is likelier to only be on double mega teams where you only bring one or the other, though the Intimidate support it can provide means it may not be out of the question.

You should not try to force yourself to have two Mega Stone-holding Pokémon that can be used in the same battle and still both be really useful, though. If it happens to be the case that it is possible and the best decision for your team, great – but do not try to force it if it is not right for your team. For that matter, while double Megas can be fantastic and make it so you can pretty much always use a Mega Evolution in every battle and know it will be valuable, not every team needs them and having them does not automatically make your team better than a team with just a single Mega Evolution. A second Mega Evolution is often used in situations where a first one is not a good choice, but you can use Pokémon that handle such situations without your Mega Evolution and without the need for one. Perhaps the most important thing to be learned from how viable double Megas are is Megas are not always needed. Running double Megas is a great option that should always be considered, but that does not make it right for every team. With the UUTC allowing for TEN registered Pokémon, though, I do imagine it’s even more viable there than in the VGC, and look forward to seeing how common and successful it is. I shall be watching.

Until Christmas Eve, Puclonians. I’ll be blasting off again before then.

Also, the rules for the VGC 2015 format got released yesterday; expect an article about them right after the New Year, when they actually go into effect! Ciao~

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