‘Pokémon Sun And Moon’: Battling, Z-Moves, Alola Forms And Leaks Discussion With aDrive

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Tapu Koko and the other Tapus may change the metagame of 'Pokemon Sun and Moon'
Tapu Koko and the other Tapus may change the metagame of 'Pokemon Sun and Moon' Pokemon Company

With Pokémon Sun and Moon only days away, there is still a lot of information that fans of the Gen 7 games just don’t know, despite the best efforts of data miners.

One aspect Pokémon fans do know is that battling in Sun and Moon will never be the same. With the implementation of Z-Moves, new Alola Forms and new abilities and attacks, Pokémon battles will forever be changed.

But just how will Pokémon trainers change their battle strategies? I got to speak and geek out with PokeTuber aDrive, who has been creating Pokémon content since 2014 and competes in various online leagues like the Global Battle association (GBA), United Championship League (UCL) and National Pokemon Association (NPA).

We talked how Z-Moves and Alola Forms will change competitive Pokémon battling and the Sun and Moon data mine leaks.

Note: This interview was conducted before Sun and Moon leaks revealed base stats, abilities and moves.

iDigitalTimes: So when Sun and Moon finally release what are your plans for the channel?

aDrive: “I want to do something really different in terms of my streaming content and I’m really trying to focus a lot on my YouTube content. My biggest plan is to do the 151-hour livestream, with two of my friends, CrimsonCBad and BooksandGames. And I thought it would be a great way to kick off the hype for Sun and Moon and give people a stream that they can watch the entire week of release or whether they want to watch shiny hunting or the Let’s Play or even Wi-Fi battles. All three of us bring a different element to people in terms of our streaming content and it was a great approach for a game that everyone is really excited for and why not go all out and try and do as much as I can for the first week. And then I plan to settle into a pretty normal, steady schedule as I normally would. Six straight hours a day streaming and then post YouTube content regularly.”

Do you have any particular thoughts about which new Pokémon can change the meta of Pokemon battling?

“First and foremost, my competitive background really comes from the Singles Format. I haven’t been one of those people who play the Doubles or VGC Format but I do feel the the VGC Format will be affected a lot with the release of Sun and Moon . We’ve seen a lot of the new Pokémon like the Tapu Pokémon that have their terrain effects. [GameFreak] are incorporating these effects that are more impactful in a Doubles setting where you can assist your partner and secondary Pokémon with these battle effects. I think a lot of the focus, from what we know, now are more towards the VGC style of battling. Even Alola Raichu getting its ability allowing it to double its speed in electric terrain, I think things like that will be a very big shakeup for that style.

“In terms of Singles Format, which is what I mostly play, I play a Counter-Team style format where you draft a team in the beginning of the season and you stick with these 11-12 Pokémon for 12-16 weeks against a different Coach each week. And then you face off against each Coach knowing what Pokémon they have but not their moves and items. That stuff changes every match. From that perspective, I think the Format is going to get very interesting, especially when you throw in Z-Moves. That’s going to be the biggest thing, the Z-Moves are going to completely change the Counter-Team and Singles Style Format.

Pikachu will be getting its own Z-Move in 'Sun and Moon'
Pikachu will be getting its own Z-Move in 'Sun and Moon' Pokemon Company

“For example you have a Blastoise with Dark Pulse, this is a terrible example, but if you have that Blastoise hold the Dark Z-Crystal and then fire off the Dark Z-Move with a boosted power it will make things very interesting. That Z-Move can really be the move that changes the game and flips it the other way.

“In the Counter Format, you can have a Swampert against a Celebi. Normally Swampert can’t really do much to a Celebi besides using Ice Punch, you can now use the Ice Z-Move to one-shot the Celebi when otherwise you wouldn’t be able to. From that, it’s going to be a big shakeup for both Doubles and Singles.

“It’s hard to go too in-depth without knowing base stats and move pools but it seems like there’s a lot of cool new Pokemon that could have a huge impact but without knowing the stats and move pools it’s harder to predict.”

Well the VGC rules are getting rid of Mega Pokemon for the upcoming season so Z-Moves will be huge.

“Yea I saw that. That’s really cool, they are focusing almost entirely on the Z-Moves, which I’m a little skeptical about but I’m excited to see how they are integrated into VGC and how people use them and what becomes the standard play for Z-Moves. Because obviously, you only get one of them and I don’t know if we have confirmation that Z-Moves can be stopped by Protect. They don’t seem like they are just some crazy trump card that you can use to win, but if they are integrated into your strategy they can be very effective.”

If I remember correctly, you can only use a Z-Move once per battle so if someone Protects then you’ve just wasted it.

“Exactly. And I think the other thing, too, is not only is it used once per battle but you are sacrificing a hold item. A great example is Garchomp and Mega Garchomp, where regular Garchomp is better because it has that opportunity to run a different held item. If you take that away, and give it a Z-Crystal, will it be better or worse? What will be more effective? Will Decidueye benefit from running a Z-Crystal or running a Choice Scarf? That kind of stuff will be very interesting to see and how people evolve the competitive metagame because so much of it relies on what is good and what people figure out is good. So it’ll be interesting to see how Z-Moves are going to be integrated and whether they make a big impact.”

When Alola Forms were first introduced, I wasn’t a fan, I felt they split off the Gen 1 Pokémon and force a choice between the two. For example, Alola Raichu may be better than regular Raichu competitively but I wanted to know your thoughts on Alola Forms.

“I see your perspective but I’m on the opposite side. When I first saw the Alola Forms announced I was excited because in my mind the Pokémon they chose to make Alola Forms for are generally pretty bad from a competitive perspective. I say that right after Raichu is on the World Championship team with Wolfe Glick, but nevertheless, most of these Pokémon from competitive standpoint are not very good.

Alola Raichu in 'Pokemon Sun and Moon'
Alola Raichu in 'Pokemon Sun and Moon' Pokemon Company

“In Singles Format all of these Pokémon are low tier. Persian, Sandslash, Ninetales without Drought, Marowak, Exeggutor, Raticate, Raichu and Muk are all in NU tier or in the lowest tiers in competitive format. So when I saw that these were being reimagined for the Alola Region, not only was I excited that they were giving them new life but I liked that they were trying to integrate them into this region and capture that vibe of Hawaii and the Alola Region and fit them into the mold. My only disappointment is that now that we’ve seen the leaks and all of the Alola Forms I feel there was an opportunity to go even bigger with it and make it more Pokémon Alola Forms, but I understand why they didn’t and want to keep the focus on the new Pokémon.

“We’ve seen in the past where new forms come around and replaced their original forms like Shaymin Sky. Shaymin Sky is far superior competitively then land Shaymin and the various Rotom forms where Rotom Wash is better than Rotom Fridge or Rotom Cut. So to me it’s not that big of a deal to have different forms, if anything it’ll be really cool to see if Alola Marowak or Exeggutor sees some competitive life and actually be more useful than their original forms.”

Speaking of the leaks, the community seems split on the idea of data mining and spoiling some aspects of the game. Where do you fall?

“If I was not someone whose job relied on making Pokémon content I would probably try to go into the game without any spoilers. I went into X and Y relatively spoiler-free but I wasn’t creating content then. So as someone who spends 10-15 hours a day looking at Pokémon stuff, I felt it wasn’t realistic to avoid the leak so I said ‘you know what, I can’t avoid them so I may as well embrace them.’ And even though I know a lot about this game I’m still incredibly excited. I know it’s going to be a great game and I know I’m going to have a great time playing it the first time and the 20th time. Even with the datamine leaks, there’s still a lot we don’t know. We don’t know stats, we don’t know movepools, there’s still a handful of Pokémon we don’t know the types for, there’s still a lot of question marks around the story. So if anything, the datamine leaks piqued my interest even more because we have all this information with question marks surrounding them.”

Which of the new Pokémon or Alola Form Pokémon do you want to use competitively?

“I can definitely say Vikavolt right off the bat. It’s been the Pokémon that I’ve been most excited for since it was revealed. Bug types are my favorite, they have always been my favorite and I plan to do a Bug-only playthrough of Sun and Moon in the near future so definitely Vikavolt.

The Grubbin evolution line in 'Pokemon Sun and Moon'
The Grubbin evolution line in 'Pokemon Sun and Moon' Pokemon Company

“With the right stats, this thing could be really good. Just give it Tail Glow and this thing will be insane. They may shaft it but I gained more hope when they showed Charjabug evolving into Vikavolt at level 40. Finally evolving at Level 40 that leads me to believe that it may be better than some of the other Bugs you can get like Butterfree. Having it evolve that late puts it in a small class of Bug types with Volcarona. So I’m hopeful and its typing isn’t too bad, it only has a weakness to Rock and Fire, I believe, and it has an immunity with Levitate so give it a solid Speed stat and Special Attack stat, give it Tail Glow, which I’m probably asking for too much, and it will be very fun competitively.”

What’s your fantasy set for Vikavolt?

“Oh man, it’s really going to be based on its stats but I feel it will have good Special Attack and Speed. From the trailers we’ve seen it has Protect, Bug Buzz, Discharge and I don’t remember the last move. I’ll probably run something similar. I’d say you have to run a Choice Scarf variant with Volt Switch, Bug Buzz and depending on some of its moves maybe Air Slash or Ancient Power, something similar to Yanmega. I don’t expect Vikavolt to be all that crazy. I expect the usual Electric and Bug moves like Silver Wind, maybe X Scissor. U-Turn, Vikavolt, Electraweb.

“It would be cool to have utility moves like Tail Glow, Sticky Web and stuff like that. But I think Vikavolt will be a very very interesting Pokémon competitively.”

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