Pokémon pros are running Palafin and 3 other Pokémon to crush the competition in a major Scarlet and Violet tournament

You don't want to mess with this core.

Image via Nintendo

With day one of the European International Championships in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet officially underway, the usage stats of the most popular Pokémon have been released.

To no one’s surprise, Flutter Mane reigns in the No. 1 spot. But interestingly enough, Amoonguss, Arcanine, and Palafin follow soon after, with the top four most popular Pokémon coincidentally being a part of the FAAP core—also called PAAF occasionally—that has grown to be the face of the balanced team archetype.

With Regulation B letting the Paradox Pokémon run rampant in VGC, the metagame quickly turned to favor hyper-offense. But with the turn of Regulation C came bulky Pokémon that flipped the meta, such as Ting-Lu and Wo-Chien, quickly making the format adapt by using balanced teams.

The backbone of every balanced team is good defensive synergy and making sure you have Pokémon as switch-ins for nearly every scenario, which means every Pokémon on a balanced team needs to complement one another with appropriate defensive typings.

Related: How to get free tournament-winning Palafin in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

One of the most common defensive type cores is the Fire-Water-Grass core, also known as the FWG core or the Elemental core. The three types in this core cover for each other incredibly well defensively and adding three different Pokémon each with one of these types into your team will give you a lot of defensive flexibility.

As you may have noticed, three of the four Pokémon in the FAAP core (Flutter Mane, Amoonguss, Arcanine, and Palafin) possess types that make them a prime example of the archetypal FWG core, which is a big factor as to why Amoonguss, Arcanine, and Palafin have been doing so well when used on a team together.

But a fourth addition to this core was seen in the form of a Ghost and Fairy dual type: Flutter Mane. Now you might be asking, what value does Flutter Mane add to this established FWG core? Well, what doesn’t it add?

There is a reason Flutter Mane has consistently been at the top of usage statistics since its release back at the beginning of Regulation B: It is fast, it hits incredibly hard with type coverage that nearly no Pokémon resists, and it is surprisingly bulky and can be built to take a lot of hits with the right EV spread. While Amoonguss, Arcanine, and Palafin make sure that the core has superb defensive synergy, the addition of Flutter Mane ensures that the core’s offensive presence does not go unchecked.

The Flutter Mane on these balanced teams is usually of the Choice Specs variant as well. This lets Flutter Mane invest a lot of EVs into its bulk, allowing it to live crucial hits from common Pokémon, especially on its weaker physical side, while at the same time not compromising on its offense. 

This is not to say that the other Pokémon in the FAAP core can’t dish out damage, though. You can argue that Palafin dishes out even more damage than Mane, at least in its Hero form. Nevertheless, these four Pokémon create the perfect balance of offense as well as defense, making this core incredibly formidable.

And this is exactly why these four Pokémon have each taken one spot in the top four most popular Pokémon for day one of EUIC. And while it is possible that the Pokémon in ranks two to four might switch things up on days two and three, Flutter Mane with a current usage rate of nearly 80 percent might just consistently see a top spot placement throughout all days of the International, which we have seen it do in previous major tournaments as well.

Related: 7 underrated Pokémon you should use in Scarlet and Violet’s Regulation C VGC

To give you an idea of just how dominant Flutter Mane has been and currently is for EUIC, the second-most popular Pokémon, Amoonguss, has a 58.1 percent usage rate, while Flutter Mane has a 79.0 percent usage rate, beating out the second place Pokémon by more than 20 percent. It has been almost unheard of throughout VGC history for any single Pokémon to be having such astronomically high usage rates in major tournaments.

Apart from the FAAP core starring as the top four most popular Pokémon on day one of EUIC, there are eight other Pokémon filling out the rest of the top 12 spots on our little competitive Pokémon popularity contest:

  1. Flutter Mane – 79.0 percent
  2. Amoonguss – 58.1 percent
  3. Arcanine – 38.8 percent
  4. Palafin – 36.8 percent
  5. Ting-Lu – 34.8 percent
  6. Chien-Pao – 31.6 percent
  7. Chi-Yu – 27.4 percent
  8. Dragonite – 21.9 percent
  9. Iron Hands – 20.2 percent
  10. Gyarados –  18.2 percent
  11. Kingambit – 16.0 percent
  12. Iron Bundle – 15.7 percent

Right after the top four, we see three of the standard Ruin Pokémon—Ting-Lu, Chien-Pao, and Chi-Yu—coming in at fifth, sixth, and seventh, respectively. It’s a sad time to be Wo-Chien, but the rest of the Ruin Pokémon are looking happy to have their time in the spotlight in the current meta.

Dragonite has been a meta pick ever since Scarlet and Violet’s competitive scene began, so it’s not surprising to see it in eighth place, especially when it can be partnered with Chien-Pao for immense amounts of raw damage.

Iron Hands and Kingambit are not surprising to see on this list, either. The former is a great counter to all of the Ruin Pokémon while Kingambit is just a great Pokémon in general, possessing phenomenal stats all around.

The surprising spots on this list, however, are Gyarados in 10th and Iron Bundle in 12th. Gyarados isn’t usually on the list of most popular Pokémon at a major tournament, but it does make sense seeing it this time around because it’s a perfect counter to the threatening Ting-Lu.

Iron Bundle has gone through a real fall from grace, however, regularly seeing a top-three place in usage rates for major tournaments but now being lowered down to 12th. This can very easily be attributed to the rise of Assault Vest Ting-Lu, lowering Bundle’s offensive presence to a near halt, with its Freeze Dry barely picking up a four-hit KO on Ting-Lu itself, who is, in fact, weak to Ice moves.

About the author
Yash Nair

Yash is a freelance writer based in the tropical state of Goa, India. With a focus on competitive Pokémon, he also writes general guides on your favorite video games. Yash has written for sites like Dot Esports and TouchTapPlay, and has a distinct love for indie video game titles.