Double Trouble: Fast Mode
Prepare for trouble and make it double, Puclonians! It is time for yet another installment of Double Trouble. Are your VGC format games, which are already much shorter than 6-on-6, taking longer than you would like? Maybe they can be shortened further.
In playing Pokémon competitively, regardless of your preferred format and play style, it can probably be universally agreed upon that there are many, many factors that one has to learn to consider for the entire process: team building, synergy, cores, speed tiers, strategies, counters, checks, team match-ups, prediction, et cetera. What many VGC players refer to as a “fast mode” is yet another consideration to add to the already long list of things one needs to think about.
Although the VGC format’s popularity has grown exponentially over the years, it still remains one of the least familiar formats for many avid Pokémon players, thanks in no small part to the many consequences of how fundamentally different playing in Doubles is. And although there are many people who would like to explore what the format is all about and participate in VGC events without knowing what to expect, both online and in person, there always seems to be a very large swathe of players who do not yet entirely know what they are doing when playing the VGC format or how best to handle the variety of situations that will inevitably be thrown at them.
Enter the fast mode. A fast mode is simply a combination available to a team that is capable of dishing out a lot of damage extremely quickly, preferably using relatively fast Pokémon, unless an opponent knows how to respond. Against newer and less experienced players it can be an effective way to get the momentum rolling in your favor quickly. But the efficacy of a fast mode relies on an opponent not knowing how to appropriately respond. It is the equivalent of having a way to briefly play on auto-pilot. A team will assuredly not rely on its fast mode as a way to beat everyone or something to do in every battle, but often serves as a good go-to against people playing on the online ladder with their in-game teams or people who attend Regional events not knowing all the rules of the VGC. So even if you yourself are extremely new to the VGC, it is worthwhile to know about them so you will know to expect them and respond accordingly.
Plenty of fast mode combinations have emerged and waned over the years of the VGC with the format changing every year. For rain teams, a Scarf Politoed combined with virtually any Swift Swim sweeper is a fast mode. Mega Charizard Y plus a Chlorophyll sweeper is a fast mode. Scarf Tyranitar and Sand Rush Excadrill is a fast mode. Using less immediately obvious weather examples, during VGC 14 Scarf Gardevoir and Garchomp emerged as a more common fast mode option (bonus points if the Gardevoir had Telepathy allowing Garchomp to spam Earthquake safely). Another variant was Talonflame and Garchomp. An updated version for VGC 15 would likely replace Garchomp with (Scarf) Landorus-T. One core that is the foundation for many VGC 15 teams is (Scarf) Hydreigon and Mega Metagross, which also combine to form a fast mode. Some people considered the combination of Hitmontop and Volcarona (TopMoth) a fast mode in previous years.
How do you learn to combat the Fast Mode or use it for yourself? Play more in the VGC format. Having a fast mode is intended to just more reliably and efficiently rocket through those completely unaware with the VGC format – those who jump on the ladder with the VGC rules without any knowledge whatsoever about the format or metagame (which is fine, of course, but they will inevitably tend to be overrun by those who ARE familiar with it already). For any of the online international challenges, a huge portion of the people who participate do not know about the VGC format and metagame. This is precisely the circumstance in which a fast mode will most likely be useful.
Until next week, Puclonians! Until then, I’m blasting off again!