Double Trouble: VGC 2014.5 / The Mirage Format

Hey, all you Puclonians playing Official Pokémon Events!

The imminent arrival of ORAS has everyone vibrantly enthused the way we always are when new Pokémon games are unleashed upon the world.

And rightly so, of course. Our vacation to Hoenn this year brings with it a swath of new mega evolutions to play with, the return of move tutors, more legendary Pokémon to catch than can be counted on your fingers, the sweet, sweet ride atop your trusty Lati@s, and so much more! Regardless of what format or tier you have a preference for, you can be sure the onset of ORAS is going to shake things up for it.

But if you play ever play VGC specifically, you’re in for something rarer than an event-only Pokémon distribution. From the time ORAS is released to the beginning of 2015, VGC players will have a new unique format to play in that isn’t the VGC 2014 format you’re used to but also isn’t the VGC 2015 format which has not yet been announced. Call it VGC 2014.5, and it comes as a consequence of new Pokémon games not being released at the start of the VGC season, and the Pokémon Company always allotting a certain amount of time for trainers to experience the games and actually catch, raise, and breed things with the games out before they become they become used in VGC events with the new format for the year being announced. This means that until next year, Pokémon-sanctioned events will still take place on X and Y cartridges and the rules for VGC 2014 still apply.

So what makes this time-period any different if the rules are still the same? The answer is simple: ORAS move tutors. In spite of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire not being allowed for VGC quite yet, utilizing the move tutors the games offer is not a violation of the rules for the VGC 2014 format. Pokémon can be born or caught in Kalos, transferred over to Hoenn to learn new attacks, and then transferred back and still be legal to use. And this alone brings a lot of changes to the format.

The biggest changes come from the newest Pokémon from generation VI, who up to this point have never had access to move tutors and for the first time ever have new potential sets and combinations available to them. The Pranksters of Kalos, for example, have new priority moves available to them, with Klefki acquiring Magic Coat and Magnet Rise, and (male) Meowstic gaining Heal Bell and Gravity, among other things. Many Kalos Pokémon have their potential as supporting Pokémon rise with the distribution of Helping Hand, too, giving new life to Pokémon such as Aromatisse and Florges. This is the first time many Kalos Pokémon can use notable moves such as Icy Wind, usually a staple in doubles for speed control, and the newly buffed Knock Off.

For attackers, the distribution of Hyper Voice also provides Sylveon, Aurorus, and Heliolisk with new reliable spread moves. Pixilate Sylveon with Hyper Voice was something that technically already existed and if you played just about anything other than VGC, you’re much likelier to already be familiar with it, but this is the first time any VGC-legal Sylveon can use it, taking the newest Eeveelution from relatively unseen in the format to a huge threat with the 131 Base Power completely accurate spread move. You can definitely expect it to see use.

While not necessarily new Pokémon, mega evolutions have never had access to move tutors for VGC purposes before, either, and this breathes new possibilities for them. Mega Houndoom gains a Heat Wave that even puts Mega Charizard Y’s to shame in the sun, while Mega Gengar can pass its incredible ability to its partner with Skill Swap now (which is incredibly scary to think upon). And like Sylveon, Mega Gardevoir also gains Pixilate-boosted Hyper Voice – Substitute users beware!

For clever and creative team builders, this is an especially ripe and exciting time, because when new possibilities are first available, the odds of opponents not knowing what to expect or how to react to something they’ve never fought before are at their highest. Don’t forget old favorites, though, who may have lost access to certain valuable moves in VGC 2014 until now.

Scizor immediately comes to mind, finally getting Bug Bite back after spending the last year unallowed to steal Sitrus and Lum Berries and seeing a sharp decline in VGC usage in comparison with seasons past. Zapdos also finally gets back Heat Wave, a frequent staple for the thunder bird until this year where it couldn’t legally learn it. You can probably count on some Bisharp to start carrying Knock Off, too. This is the first VGC it can use it with the move’s Gen VI buff! Personally, I’m most excited about my beloved Vaporeon getting Icy Wind back.

You can see every Pokémon’s ORAS move tutor options here: ( Are your favorite Pokémon from the current VGC format getting any new toys or recovering old ones to play with? What move tutor attacks do you look forward to bringing back to Kalos from your trip to Hoenn?

ORAS is changing everything, and we still have no idea what is and isn’t going to be allowed for VGC 2015 until the rules for it are announced. But amid all the excitement of new Pokémon games for us to enjoy and obsess over, VGC players have a once-in-a-blue-moon situation on their hands as the transition from XY to ORAS takes place and we have a completely new VGC metagame to play with and explore for a while. This is going to be a short-lived one, so enjoy this temporary Mirage VGC Format while it lasts.

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