The Pokémon Scarlet and Violet meta continues to evolve with each passing tournament in the Regulation C format, and Hartford Regionals on May 21 saw a familiar face with a not-so-familiar strategy—Gholdengo with a Choice Scarf and the move Trick.
Veteran player Markus Stadter used the strat with Choice Specs Gholdengo earlier this year to win Bochum Regionals, and it seems to be gaining more popularity recently as seen in Hartford.
In the Hartford semifinals, Ryan Haig masterfully used this exact strategy to sweep his opponent 2-0 and advance to the finals. While he wasn’t the only one running Gholdengo with Trick, his stream match showed just how effective it can be against popular VGC threats like Kingambit and the very pesky Amoonguss.
Here’s how the strategy works: the Choice Scarf grants the holder a speed boost but locks them into the first move it uses until it switches out. Trick swaps the items between the user and their target. This means Gholdengo has two options when it’s sent out—spam one attacking move like Make It Rain with the speed boost, or use Trick to lock the target into using only one move. By doing the latter, Gholdengo also frees itself from being Choice-locked so it has the option to set up with Nasty Plot before firing off attacks.
In the first semifinal game, Ryan’s Gholdengo only had a sliver of HP left and was vulnerable to a Sucker Punch from the opposing Kingambit.
Using Trick not only made the Sucker Punch fail but also locked Kingambit into the punching move. With the opposing Kingambit locked into Sucker Punch and Amoonguss not being able to do enough damage, Ryan secured game one.
Game two had an even more impressive showing of the Trick strategy. With the numbers not in his favor, Ryan had his Gholdengo use Trick against Amoonguss to lock it into Pollen Puff. This was a huge play because it meant the pesky mushroom could no longer put Ryan’s Pokémon to sleep or redirect their attacks. Instead, Amoonguss was forced to heal its allies or do little damage with Pollen Puff. From there, Ryan sealed the deal with Gholdengo’s Nasty Plot and Make It Rain with a tiny bit of help from his Iron Hands.
While Trick might be a newer approach for Gholdengo, the strategy will sound familiar to those who’ve played competitive Pokémon for a while. Before Gholdengo even existed, Rotom was a common Trick user with Choice Scarf.
We haven’t seen much of Rotom yet in Scarlet and Violet VGC, so it’s nice to see another Pokémon picking up the Trick strat to shut down ‘mons like Amoonguss.