15 unique Pokémon made it to NAIC top 8—and one was the MVP of the winning team

The Pokémon North America International Championships (NAIC) wrapped up this past weekend, and the Scarlet and Violet VGC metagame was full of diverse and unexpected ‘mons, as seen in the top cut lists.

While it was no surprise to see the popular Fire/Water/Grass core in Incineroar, Urshifu, and Rillaboom used by top players, there were also 15 Pokémon that only made a single appearance across the top teams. If you’re someone who doesn’t like seeing the same lineups dominating the meta, NAIC was an absolute treat to watch.

Top 8 teams at Pokémon NAIC 2024.
So many unusual ‘mons found success at NAIC. Screenshot via The Official Pokémon YouTube channel

To be fair, some of these Pokémon are popular and proven meta threats, like Flutter Mane, Farigiraf, Calyrex, and Miraidon. But the fact that they weren’t copied and pasted across the top eight shows we’ve reached a point in the Scarlet and Violet meta where there’s room for lesser-used Pokémon to shine with some creativity. For example, it’s wild but also refreshing to see the likes of Iron Jugulis, Scream Tail, Volcarona, Wo-Chien, and Overqwil make it so far in the competition.

Looking at NAIC data provided by Nimbasa City Post, those 15 ‘mons were:

  • Ditto
  • Farigiraf
  • Flutter Mane
  • Iron Jugulis
  • Landorus Incarnate
  • Overqwil
  • Pelipper
  • Scream Tail
  • Smeargle
  • Tornadus Incarnate
  • Volcarona
  • Whimsicott
  • Wo-Chien
  • Shadow Rider Calyrex
  • Miraidon

There was also only one Pelipper in the top eight teams, and it ended up playing a huge role in the deciding game three finals between Patrick Connors and Aurélien Soula. In fact, you could argue it was the MVP of Connors’ winning NAIC team.

Pelipper on the winning Pokémon NAIC team.
Pelipper was the most valuable bird of NAIC. Screenshot via The Official Pokémon YouTube channel

In game three, Connors sealed the deal by sending Pelipper out against Soula’s Terapagos. The VGC community called this “one of the greatest anime moments of all time” because the bird essentially turned Soula’s restricted Legendary Pokémon into a sitting duck. Soula had just committed their Tera to Terapagos and locked the turtle into Tera Starstorm with the Choice Specs, and Pelipper was the perfect counter with Wide Guard to block spread moves. This forced Soula to either swap out Terapagos or leave it in without dealing any damage due to Pelipper’s Wide Guard. With no way out for Soula, Connors won the match and became the new NAIC champion.

Pelipper is by no means an off-meta pick as the 12th most-used Pokémon on day one, but it was awesome to watch Connors’ Pelipper thrive as the last of its kind still going strong into the top eight. It can even say it beat out fellow rain setter Kyogre, who appeared in two top eight teams. And after that amazing final performance, I’m hoping we get the NAIC champ’s Shiny Pelipper as the Mystery Gift during Worlds in August.

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