Pokemon Go esports is funny. While I’m not in the boat of saying “oh it’s not a proper esport” like many others, it’s undeniably hilarious to watch two players stare at their phones for the duration of a grand final bout. Pokemon Go PvP is a complicated beast at high levels, whether you’re fighting for your life on the ranked leaderboard, or under the spotlight at a major tournament.
Like all esports, there’s a distinct meta. 15 of the top 16 teams at last weekend’s Latin America International Championships included Medicham. Most also used Lanturn. Gligar was similarly popular, and the likes of Swampert and Umbreon are longtime Pokemon Go esports mainstays. But only one person in the top 16 of the LAIC brought Charjabug, and he only went and won the whole thing.
Ewerton ‘LNDsRargef’ Malvezzi is the man responsible for taking Charjabug to the top, using it for its decent bulk, nice typing against the meta, and decent coverage with Discharge and X-Scissor.
While he didn’t use it at all in the final – the matchup didn’t warrant it – Malvezzi brought it to great effect in the Winners Finals against Bastian ‘Bastii170’ Gonzalez. Malvezzi led Charjabug against Serperior, a great start, and used X-Scissor to chip away at Lanturn when it switched in. He held his shields for the entire match and, despite the midgame getting a little ropey in a stall-off between his Umbreon and Gonzalez’ Gligar, Charjabug returned to finish the job and put Malvezzi 1-0 up.
Note: Unlike VGC, there are no items in competitive Pokemon Go, meaning that Charjabug can’t carry Eviolite to boost its defense
His second match against Gonzalez saw Malvezzi change up his strategy, instead leading Lanturn in a double-electric lineup. Charjabug was saved as a sweeper in this instance, but couldn’t do enough to take out Gonzalez’ Gligar – although that was as much Lanturn’s fault for not getting off an unprotected Surf before it was knocked out.
He didn’t bring the bug for the third match of the set, but the fact it was an option baited Gonzalez to bring Gligar. Saving Lanturn until the very last moment, the surprise Water-type took Gonzalez off guard and turned the tides of a precarious situation. Had Gonzalez brought Serperior, Lanturn would have had a tough time, but the threat of Charjabug fended that off and gave Malvezzi a distinct tactical advantage in the 3v3 matchup.
Tip: Charjabug is much bulkier than its evolution Vikavolt, which is why it’s used far more in Pokemon Go PvP. It also gained the exclusive Fast Move Volt Switch during Grubbin Community Day, which allows it to farm energy more efficiently and fire off those recently-buffed X-Scissors more consistently
Pokemon Go is a game of poker, bluffing and double bluffing. It’s similar to VGC in that way, as the Pokemon you don’t bring to a match can be just as important as those you do. Charjabug is a threat, the battery-shaped bug dealing damage wholly disproportionate to its size.
Before you add Charjabug to your Go Battle League squad, though, a word of warning. The GBL ladder is littered with Galarian Stunfisk and Steelix, Pokemon which don’t see as much use in the esport. You could see how much it struggled against Gligar in the hands of a pro player, and the three common meta monsters could prove fatal in a 3v3 best-of-one format.
It’s always refreshing to see players trying something new, going against the meta and succeeding. Malvezzi’s Charjabug won’t go down in history like Sejun Park’s iconic Pachirisu or Ray Rizzo’s bulky Thundurus in 2011 which essentially broke the metagame, but it gave us a bunch of fun matches at LAIC, and that’s what matters right now.
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