The concept of cores in competitive Pokémon is one that transcends the different formats we play in, permeating them all. But as is so frequently the case with various aspects and foundations for competitive battling, applying them a Doubles format necessarily changes the nature of things. In addition to the considerations one looks at for playing in Singles, the efficacy of how two Pokémon work together on the field at the same is suddenly yields new considerations. Shared weaknesses can also become much more of an issue and liability when there is a prominent spread attack both Pokémon are weak to (and you might be surprised at how many prominent pairs share a weakness to Blizzard). On the other hand, the potential to perform two moves in a single turn opens up a myriad of new forms of productive collaboration between two Pokémon, forming aspects of synergy otherwise impossible (consider the examples of Pledge teams, the infamous TerraCott, and Disable+Encore).
With this in mind, examining notable VGC on their specific merits has a certain value, especially to those less familiar with the VGC format. And to that end, this is the first in a new mini series of entries entitled “Hardcore”! And each entry will examine a specific core that has seen use in the VGC.
Hydreigon and Metagross have a lot in common, and a lot that differentiates the two. They are both so-called “pseudo legendaries” with enormous movepools, they both take forever to evolve if you use them playing through the main games, and both of their evolution lines even involve adding more parts. Three heads, four arms – you get the idea. And together, they form a core for the VGC that is remarkable on multiple levels.
To begin with, their typing synergy is just about flawless, with the pair covering up each other’s weaknesses. Metagross is weak to four types: Fire, Ground, Ghost, and Dark. Hydreigon is conveniently immune to one of the four and resists the other three. On the other side of the equation, Hydreigon has five weaknesses of its own: Fighting, Ice, Bug, Dragon, and that nasty 4x Fairy weakness. Of those, Metagross resists three, with Fighting and Bug being neutral. Fortunately, Metagross can still threaten Fighting types with super-effective STAB Psychic attacks, while Bug as a typing is REALLY weak in the VGC these days, and not much of an issue.
Yet another advantage of the pair is that one hits on the physical side of the attacking spectrum, while the other hits on the special side. And their synergy offensively is pretty commendable as well, as the Fairy type is the only single type in the game that resists Hydreigon’s STAB attacks, which Metagross can pound with super effective Steel STAB attacks. Conversely, anything that can resist the STAB attacks of Metagross will NOT be able to resist the STAB attacks of Hydreigon. Their offensive synergy goes even further beyond just being unresisted, however. The most common moveset for Metagross is two STAB attacks and Ice Punch (gotta leave room for Protect), leaving it walled by Steel types. But not only does Hydreigon hit Steel types with its Dark STAB unresisted, its third attacking move is almost always either a Fire type attack (Fire Blast or Flamethrower, the age-old choice between power and accuracy) or Earth Power (EAT IT, Heatran), for nailing those Steel types that often happen to wall Metagross. Of course, if you would rather your Metagross run Earthquake to get past Steel types that usually hold it back, Hydreigon will be unbothered thanks to its Ground immunity.
And one final advantage this pair shares is that they have the versatility to fit on a variety of team archetypes. They can work well in Rain and Sand. Both are happy with a Tailwind behind them or some other form of speed control. And they even make a strong starting point for simple good-stuffs style teams or as a general starting point when teambuilding because they have such good typing synergy just by themselves. Obviously, Metagross is expected to be the Mega Evolution when on a team, but do also keep in mind that it can function really well on Double Mega teams and can also hold its own without Mega Evolving if need be. Blessed are the physical attackers in the VGC that can switch it without worrying about Intimidate.
As a testament to the prevalence of this core, the Pokémon most frequently paired with Metagross on the Doubles Battle Spot is Hydreigon, while Metagross is Hydreigon’s second most common partner (they both also share Landorus-T as their third most common partner, which conveniently resists the only two types the pair does not resist by themselves – slap him on and you’ll have half your team!). The core has seen plenty of success at multiple VGC tournaments, proving its viability at high-level VGC play.
If you are new to the VGC and just looking for a starting point to start playing and experimenting with or even to build a team around, definitely consider a Metagross and Hydreigon core. What it brings to the table can serve a new VGC player well, and its versatility onto multiple styles of teams allows one to explore their preferences with it.
Until next time, Puclonians. Until then, it looks like I’m blasting off again!