Recently Nuggetbridge has posted a few articles focusing on the 2015 Japanese Nats as well as the teams used. I thought I'd make a post with a few of my thoughts about Japanese Nats, some trends we saw, and possibly of things to come.
I'll start with one of the most obvious meta trends that their is...
Garde-Shroom shouldn't have been a surprise. It has been popular in Japan for months to the point where we saw teams almost hard countering it! (See RainRoom with Escav!)
Every Garde was paired with Shroom, LandoT and Heatran barring Barudoru's rain variant with Krook over LandoT.
I really can't think of a good reason as to why M-Garde hasn't picked up usage in the west. Some have said it lacks power or is underwhelming. Whilst it doesn't have the offensive pressure of the other top mega Pokemon it can support it's team very well with TR compared to say MMence which requires the team to support it so it can Dragon Dance. Garde is extremely strong and I would be very surprised if it wasn't used more and more leading up to Worlds. Redirection has always been incredibly strong and Garde offers board control with TR. These leaves 4 slots for you to work around other modes and functions of the team. It can also be changed very easily to catch your opponent off gaurd. ie Running a faster Garde with a Timid Heatran playing on the fact your opponent would expect a modest or quiet Heatran.
The next point I would like to talk about is the use of double mega.
This season it has been far more difficult to use doubmega as effectively as last season. Of the 6 Charizards used at Japanese Nats...4 were paried with Kanga. Bicho posted a double mega team of ChariY/Kanga/Thundo/LandoT/Aegi/Sylveon. I cant find the orignal blog post of this team but have the pastebin if anyone is really that interested.This is also the team that both Conan and Adit were reffering to in the Japanese Nats Podcast This was as far as I saw, the first very public double mega team of the kind. I have heard SHADE had been using his winning team for a few months and this fits in with the timing. Clearly this was a missed opportunity for all of the West had a team like this taken off.
I think this is a really, really strong call for any Bo3 Swiss tournaments as you have so much room to move and change the teams style between games.
Next point! This is a bit of an elephant in the room; Japan Sand!
Japan Sand was used once at Nats and ended up being paired in the same group as Paranoia, the player that piloted it to success in the Japan Cup. I think the lack of Japan Sand is really interesting, a team that has taken the western metagame by storm topcutting and performing well at everything from PCs to Nats. The sand team has been used successfully once in Japan during Japan Cup and once at Nats. From this it is clear that the Japanese Meta is on a completely different wavelength than the western one. Goggles Overheat Heatran ( a common set used on the MGarde teams) does well against the sand team with Amoonguss or Gardevoir. On a smaller scale the recent SG Nats had a senior final of MGarde+Shroom+TTar+Goggles RotomH vs Sand. As soon as TR went up the Sand team had a lot of trouble due to the faster, harder hitting Pokemon unable to perform and the slower, anti-TR Pokemon dying out to their counters. ie Shroom losing to Goggles RotomH
I would expect a good handful of JapSand teams, or variations, to perform well at US Nats given that a lot of people will most probably be running it. I dont think we'll see the red back of a sandy Salamence for a while!
The battle of the Thunder-Birds!
In total their were 12 Zapdos' present at Japanese Nats compared to 9 Thundurus-I's.
In Australia their were 4 Zapdos in topcut (16) compared to only 1 ThundoI.
The 3 European Nationals saw a total of 36 ThundoI in topcut compared to just 7 Zapdos! This is an interesting comparison as many Japanese value the bulk and recover of Zapdos over the Prankster Thunder-wave. A few months (maybe weeks?) ago I remember Scott tweeting that Thundurus-I's was seeing too much use. I believe this is from the same set of tweets detailing non-mega Pokemon in the format, that were spoken about in my Regs+Nats team report. I'm very interested to see if Zapdos becomes popular going into US Nats following this trend or if they continue the other Western regions and fly in with a Thundurus. LandorusT has, and still is dominating the format. Zapdos has the ability to outspeed it after a tailwind and also threatens the bulkier bulky-waters like Milotic that are becoming more frequent.
This has been a relatively short, unedited article and I have tried to keep it informal. Sorry for any spelling/grammar mistakes. Hopefully it has delivered some kind of insight and represented my opinion well.
One a final note, good luck to everyone going to US Nats. Enjoy, have fun and try your best!!