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Opinion: Tera-ific Future for Competitive Pokémon

Written by Danielacorn

The Implications of the Terastal Phenomenon on Pokémon's Competitive Scene 

I'm going to start this piece by admitting something that I should perhaps be ashamed of, or perhaps proud of, or perhaps a bit of both! 

 I've only ever enjoyed playing Pokémon for the competitive aspect.

 Well, I suppose I'm being a bit simplistic. Why do people partake in competition in the first place? The fact that there's many ways to compete in the world tells us that we have to enjoy, or at least be proficient at, the thing we're competing in. 

 So why do I really love Pokémon? 

 The first time I asked myself this question was when I was playing Battle Stadium Ranked Doubles in Pokémon Shield. But I wasn't playing with the Switch in my hands; I was sat in front of 'The Big Screen'. It then occurred to me - because Kyogre's screech was louder and the Dynamaxed Pokémon were bigger - that I love the atmosphere and aesthetics of Pokémon battles. 

And what Pokémon game appears to have mastered the atmosphere and aesthetics of battle better than the upcoming Scarlet and Violet titles?  

Just look, for example, at the beauty of the Terastal Phenomenon. We are treated to all of the same drama as Sword and Shield's Dynamax, but, oh my, it's all so much more shiny (I'm easily pleased), and, unlike Dynamax, there's so many beautiful forms (18 Tera Types) that each Pokémon could potentially turn into. 

The last time I experienced this 'aesthetic vibe' was when I played Pokémon Rumble - the game where Pokémon were like rough, polygonal toys, reminiscent of the early days of 3D video games. This 'polygonal effect' will probably bring feelings of nostalgia to many people. 

For a competitive player like myself though, let's not ignore the Donphan in the room here. The fact that there are up to 18 types that any Pokémon can terastalize into at any point during a battle is absolutely insane. The strategic possibilities will be endless - the meta will open up like never before. You could have a Vaporeon, normally a water type, with the Ability Water Absorb, but able to Terastallize into a Fire Type. The only Pokémon to date that is both a Fire type and has Water Absorb as its ability is the Mythical Volcanion, which normally can't be used in Competitive matches.

What's especially intriguing about the Terastal phenomenon, for me, is the aspect of timing. As opposed to the last generation where Trainers had to decide when the best moment to Dynamax was, determining when to Terastallize seems much more pressing. If you decide to turn your Electric type Pickachu into a Flying type at the wrong moment, you could get countered and obliterated by a super effective Rock type Tera Blast! We also have to consider STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) which results in a 50% increase in damage when you use a move that is the same type as the Pokémon using it. You could potentially lose or gain STAB after terastalizing, so timing will be absolutely essential, and will certainly distinguish a great player from a masterful one. 

Trainers will also need to be mindful of the difference between a Best-of-3 match type scenario and a Best-of-1. In a Best-of-1 type, you would have no clue what Tera Types your opponent’s Pokémon possess. This allows for maximum creativity and a way for the meta to constantly evolve. In a Best-of-3, things will be insanely interesting. Would you reveal your Tera Types, or would you hide them until the last battle? Would you, knowing your opponent’s Bastiodon's Tera Type is Flying, go for a Ground type move against it? The mind games will be what's best described as, delicious. 

For the first few months of the game's release, the masterful players won't be the ones who are necessarily experienced, but creative. This is because the Terastal phenomenon is a brand-spanking new dynamic. A new generation always opens up avenues for those with creativity to blossom new ideas for the meta. It's truly a very exciting time for the competitive scene and a perfect time for new players to jump into the competitive scene.

And just remember... 18 types!


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Written by Daniel Oakes

Edited by Mark McAllister, Paul L. Russell and Jen Griffiths

Graphic by Paul L. Russell