Welcome to Pokemon of the Week, the fourth installment in a recurring series that looks at the impact of some of our favorite Pokemon on the anime, TCG and VGC. Taking a trip down memory lane to see the impact these Pokemon have had on the series and our lives is what makes Pokemon the magical thing it is.
Eevee and its evolutionary tree are some of the most well-known Pokemon of fans even outside of the core fandom. None of them ranks higher in popularity the original pure Dark-type Pokemon, Umbreon. Known as the Moonlight Pokemon, Umbreon has been unique from the start. It is the only one of its brethren that had a unique typing in its generation. There would not be another pure Dark-type Pokemon until the third generation introduced three more. It is the only non-Psychic type to have access to the ability Synchronize.
Statistically it ranks near the top of its categories. When it comes to other Dark-types it is tied for the highest Special Defense with behemoths like Mega Gyarados and Hoopa’s Unbound forme. This also leaves it tied in this category with Sylveon for the highest Special Defense among the Eeveelutions. Umbreon is also tied with Leafeon for lowest Special Attack among the Eevee tree. In one last bit of uniqueness Umbreon was one of two starter Pokemon in history that was an evolution, not a basic. It and Espeon were the choices a trainer got to pick from when beginning their journey in Pokemon Coliseum.
In the anime
Umbreon made occasional appearances along the way but three characters had recurring roles in the anime. Ash, Brock and Misty visited the famous Kimono Sisters twice on their journey through Johto marking the first appearance of Umbeon in anime form. Each sister possessed one of the evolutions and Umbeon paired alongside Tamao. One of the elder siblings, Umbreon tended to be quite protective of the youngest of the bunch, an Eevee that would evolve into an Espeon between the groups visits.
The next Umbreon to make an appearance that belonged to a famous character resided with none other than the original rival Gary Oak. After traveling through Kanto as an Eevee it would evolve during Gary’s Johto adventure. Umbreon made an impressive debut against an Alakazam, winning without being touched by a single move. This would continue to be a trend as it would not be touched until its final appearance in the Sinnoh region, where it fell in battle against Saturn of Team Galactic and their Toxicroak.
More recently Umbreon has returned to a recurring role alongside Gladion. As the main rival of our heroes in Alola, the show bore witness to battles from all of Gladion’s Pokemon and Umbreon was no exception. Its notable early battles involved trying to stop Faba and a brain-washed Lusamine from delving too far into an Ultra Wormhole, taking on Hypno, Alakazam and Absol in the process.
It would also play a pivotal role in his battle against his sister Lillie in the first round of the Manalo Conference. While every one of Gladion’s other Pokemon battled Ash and showed the ability to use a Z-move, Umbreon was never shown doing either.
Since moving into the Sun and Moon era Umbreon has seen some increased success in the TCG realm. However, just prior to that it finished off the XY era with a mild presence. Umbreon EX was released in Fates Collide and would play a featured role in the popular Yveltal EX deck, notably in the SPEIL Special event in October 2016.
Its attack, Endgame, allowed the attacking player to take two additional prize cards if the damage dealt by it knocked out a Mega Pokemon. Given that Mega Mewtwo Y EX and Mega Gardevoir EX were common fixtures in the format this attack could steal games. The EX would move on to feature in the rogue Rainbow Road deck to limited success.
As the GX era dawned, Umbreon GX was one of the first to appear. Many a player attempted to tech it into a variety of strategies based around Zoroark BKT. As one of the first GX attacks, Dark Call GX would give the player the option to discard 2 energy from the opponent’s active Pokemon. This would pale in comparison to many of the future GXs but at the time of limited options it stood out. Furthermore, Shadow Bullet was a simple attack, doing 90 damage to the Active Pokemon and 30 damage to a bench Pokemon. This would fix math and allow players to take advantage of low HP basic Pokemon before they would have a chance to evolve.
Moving into the Tag Team realm, Umbreon & Darkrai GX became the basis of the rogue Dark Box deck that continues to intrigue people who want to crack the code. So far the most success it has seen 16th place at the World Championship. Another Umbreon that only saw rogue success came in Lost Thunder. It was used in a few random decks that had access to Dark energy for its Retaliate attack. This would allow it to attempt to take knockouts to avenge other Pokemon. Neither of these cards were able to secure a win but they were often experimented with.
While the success for the Moonlight Pokemon is admittedly limited in recorded VGC history the one result on record is extremely impressive. At last year’s World Championships, in a format filled with Mega Pokemon, Z-Moves and Legendary Pokemon, Umbreon was a core part of a team that made it all the way to the finals on a team piloted by Hirofumi Kimura.
There was a lot of power on this team and Umbreon was there in a supportive role. The restricted Pokemon of choice were Dusk Mane Necrozma and Primal Groudon. Groudon is one of the most successful Pokemon in VGC history so that choice makes sense. Dusk Mane packed a powerful Z-Move that would transform it into Ultra Necrozma and also had access to Trick Room, giving the team a variety of strategies.
Tapu Lele, Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Salamence rounded out the tam. All three Pokemon have played prominent roles in every VGC format that they were legal for and Umbreon was an expert choice to cover some weaknesses. First, the ability Inner Focus gave it immunity to Intimidate and flinching (such as from Fake Out) which are common mainstays in VGC.
Helping Hand allowed it to boost its partner’s moves to take important knockouts. Moonlight provided recovery so that it could stay on the field longer. Snarl provided minor chip damage and lowered the Special Attack of both opponent’s Pokemon. Finally, Foul Play provided an attacking move that dealt more damage the higher the Attack of the target. In a format filled with high powered attackers (including Dark weak threats like Lunala, Mega Metagross and Ultra Necrozma) Foul Play becomes a threatening tool. This was a great unique meta call and puts a bow on this entry in Pokemon of the Week.