Sunday, March 11, 2018

CIL Season 5 Transactions



CIL Season 5 Transactions



The following are a brief rulesets regarding how CIL Transactions and Z Captain are determine:
  1. Each team has about 4 transactions to make during the season and 1 Z-Captain per team. 
  2. All transactions can be made during the start of Week 2 to the end of Week 5. 
  3. All new transaction Pokemon (trades / add / drops ) must wait one CIL Week (2 Weeks IRL) to use the new Pokemon. They cannot be used immediately until the start of the new CIL week. 
  4. Z-Captains can be changed at least once during the season. Any Z Captains can be dropped as well, though another Pokemon must fill the vacant role. 
  5. If in the event the "2nd" Z-Captain is dropped, the coach can no longer have any Z-Captains, thus cannot use Z-moves for the remainder of the season. 


Before getting into the analysis, do want to clarify my thoughts the original team and ultimately why there I'd ended up using all four of my transactions to "improve" our new squad.  Based on the original CIL teams for Season 5, the LA Nidokings had one of the strongest drafts built with a strong offensive and defensive cores alike. Some might think there's nothing wrong with having a defensive core of Mew, Zapdos, and Clefable backed up by offensive threats such as Charizard X, Excadrill, and Manaphy. Do feel that the first five Pokemon and Mega Evolution was the main core of my team, however the last few mons were geared mainly for specific roles the original lacked. At first, it didn't really occur to make any transactions until the end of week 2, and the start of week 3. One of the issues I'd notice was the team's lack of "speed", in which most of the entire team hovers around base 100 speed, with Sand Rush Excadrill being the fastest Pokemon. For that matter, wanted to get at least one good fast Pokemon to be able to revenge kill most threats, given I'd already had good defensive core, and even offense to fall back to. It wasn't until my battle after week three until I began to realize some of the Pokemon didn't work well together, or wasn't going to be brought at all in certain match ups. 

As strange as it sounds, the main reason for the the following drops were actually doe to the "over-extension" certain roles on my team to make it look "scary", at least on paper. Best example of this was during my time in a doubles league, I'd had Sheer Force Landorus-I paired with dangerous threats such as Zapdos, Gyarados, Gengar, Metagross, Terrakion, and Whimsicott. For that league, the best (and perhaps broken part) was how even all regular Pokemon can be Megas, so I basically had three powerful Mega Evolutions, kind of making the team exceptionally powerful. Problem was I'd lack any form of "redirection" or even slower Pokemon to ensure the team's matchup against possibly Trick Room matchups. After looking at the team holistically, realized perhaps having many offensive threats might be 'too much', and dropped Landorus-I for Magmortar....yes I know. Didn't want to make the drop, but considering how Magmortar was the only viable Fire-type with redirection  in Follow Me (thanks to an event), felt it was for the better for my team. This redirection support was vital to helping out key Pokemon like Gyarados, Mega Metagross / Gengar, or even other mons.

Maybe this anecdote might not be the best example, but the point is there were roles in which my team sorta already fulfilled twice over, but compound the same overall weakness.  For the first three weeks of the season, I'd wanted to gauge how "effective" certain Pokemon were to my team and how they either helped, or hinder in any matchups. Soon after week 2, immediately began to look into any possible transactions, notably any potential drops / adds firsts before doing any "wild" trades. A couple Pokemon such as Alolan Muk, Gigalith, and even Roserade where Pokemon I'd had to reconsider given they can act as bulky attackers and even some makeshift walls, but to be honest, why bother using mediocre stuff when you already have the real deal with the other Pokemon mentioned. As mention, these Pokemon and another were either dropped or traded to gain new teammates that I personally think can lead the LA Nidokings to a title. 

With all that, here's the following transactions made:



New Additions




Transaction No. 1: Add: Greninja - Drop Alolan Muk


With the first major transaction for the LA Nidokings, Alolan Muk was dropped in exchange for the speedy Water/Dark-type in Greninja. To be frank, this was the first decision to make given the teams lack of speedy threats and Greninja can fulfill this role quite well thanks to its base 122 speed. Don't get me wrong, Alolan Muk was a good utility mon on paper, just that when you have even better ones such as Clefable, Zapdos, and Mew it makes it harder to justify. One major concern for the team was the apparently weakness to Ground-type moves and unfortunately believe Alolan Muk cannot respond back against such threats. In terms of what Greninja offer, this Pokemon has a great speed tier where it can outspeed up to base 122 speed while hitting most targets with good coverage. Greninja is unique compared to most fast Pokemon as its one of the few who have access to both Spikes versions, Taunt, Haze, U-Turn, and a form of priority in Water Shurikan. With Greninja's fast speed tier, it can ensure itself being able to outspeed most common threats which from there can either setup hazards, go with some disruption, attack, or pivot out for another Pokemon. Some coverage option Greninja has in its disposable are great moves such as Scald, Hydro Pump, Dark Pulse, Ice Beam, Grass Knot, Extrasensory, Rock Slide, and etc. In searching for Alolan Muk's replacement, made sure the Pokemon coming in had to be a Dark-type since it can help against opposing Ghost- and Psychic-types who are usual far faster than the garbage sloth. Keep in mind, not trying to say Greninja is better than Alolan Muk, just that they both perform different roles at the end of the day. What I'm losing here is some overall bulk in Alolan Muk gain in a fast revenge killer or suicide lead in Greninja who can always pivot out to the main bulkier walls of the team. 

Note: Torrent is only allowed on Greninja in CIL, unlike Protean or Battle Bond due to both ability's massive wall breaking and revenge killing potential offensively. 


Transaction No. 2: Add Amoonguss - Drop Roserade


The second drop of our team was perhaps the 2nd most controversial, or perhaps in a way a backtrack of all the praise I'd made for Roserade. While Roserade served me well as an amazing hazard setter, do feel like its as a makeshift pivot was extremely unreliable. One of the problems I'd noticed was Roserade can't recover damage without using either Giga Drain, Leech Seed, and Synthesis, which all three had faults. Giga Drain is somewhat of a gimme, though relies on targeting super effective hits. Leech Seed is interesting on bulkier sets, but usually needs another recovery move and lacks the proper bulk to abuse. Finally Synthesis, though its best form of recovery, is even hinder by the potential sand from my Gigalith. Don't get me wrong, Roserade is one of the better Grass-types in Draft League, for this team it seemed like I need another bulky pivot who can not only sponge hits, but take pressure away from my main defensive cores. When I'd started looking into Amoonguss, it wasn't my first choice, but with more time I'd reconsider using this mushroom. Having only used this guy effectively in VGC, Amoonguss thrives on supporting its teammates via spreading status options such as Spore, Toxic, or Stun Spore while chipping away at the opponent's health. What makes Amoonguss stand out in this case is its ability Regenerator, which always recovers 1/3rd of its HP every time it switches back. With a Pokemon like Amoonguss, it doesn't have to worry about running a recovery move aside maybe Giga Drain. Even its attacking movepool Amoonguss has interesting options to pull from such as Foul Play to hit physical attackers, Clear Smog to remove all stat changes, Sludge Bomb for poison damage, Grass Knot / Energy Ball for strong Grass-type moves, and a new toy in Stomping Tantrum to let it hit Electric-, Fire-, Steel-, and Poison-types. Do believe Amoonguss's regeneration ability can alleviate my main walls thanks to its massive 114 HP / 70 Def / 80 SpDef bulk can allow the mushroom mon to take hits with a good defensive spread. On a last note, this does give the team a strong Sleep inducer as it can most likely put targets to sleep last, and even give my offense a chance to setup. In all, do believe Amoonguss was the right choice to make for this season as it might prove invaluable in future matchups. 



Transaction No. 3: Add: Hippowdon - Drop: Manaphy (Trade)


The third transaction for the LA Nidokings was actually one a trade given this involves two Pokemon on my roster spots: Manaphy and Gigalith. After using Gigalith both in Week 1 and Week 3, realized that Gigalith's somewhat strong bulk is hindered down by its abysmal speed and pure Rock-typing. Yes I know Gigalith is a rather a "low-tier" pick to consider for possible Sand teams, but the weaknesses to Water-, Grass-, Fighting-, Steel-, and Ground-type Pokemon and attacks make it a very unreliable at times aside possibly setting up rock, or the sand itself. Now why am I discussing Gigalith, when 1) Manaphy is in question first and 2) wasn't the exact Pokemon I dropped for.  Regarding the second point, I knew I couldn't trade away my Gigalith for either Tyranitar or Hippowdon for a better sand setter, so therefore I had to make a concession that one of my top Pokemon was going to be traded off. After looking into my future battles, felt the best decision was to part ways with Manaphy (hence have Greninja as my part Water-type user), and use the last transaction to drop Gigalith for another Pokemon to fill in Manaphy's place. The reason I'd traded off Manaphy was mainly because upon seeing future matchups after week 3, there are several teams (potential playoff matches included) who consistently pressure my Z-Captain user with either fast threats or revenge killers. In the end, don't see the use of having a strong Z-Captain user when I can't even bring it to battle without thinking "obscure" sets, which my others Pokemon can fulfill better. Did offer Manaphy to the Matt of the Mattmonlees who also had a rain core team, so might as well try to trade off Manaphy to get Hippowdon, which benefits both side.

Essentially what Hippowdon brings to the table for this team is another physical wall which a better typing than Gigalith and practically outclasses it in nearly every role. Hippowdon essentially fulfills the same roles as Gigalith does from getting Stealth Rock up, being a defensive wall, spreading possible status options, and even hitting the opposing side with strong moves such as STAB Earthquake, Stone Edge, Ice Fang, etc. Do admit Hippowdon does sacrifice some attack, defense, and even the special defense boost all Rock-type gain, this Hippo makes up for in a higher HP stat with access to reliable recovery in Slack Off. Thanks to these two features, Hippowdon is able to tank some of the strongest physical attacks in the game thanks to its still impressive 108 HP / 118 Def / 72 Sp Def allocation. With Gigalith, the only form of recovery it can rely on was Leftovers, Berries, and possibly Wish-Pass, which at that point makes it a burden to maintain on the battle. Hippowdon's singular Ground-typing is far better than Rock-typing as it drops three weaknesses for resistances to Rock-, Poison, and even an immunity to Electric-type moves. Even the slight increase in speed allows Hippodown to at least not get outspeed by some bulkier Pokemon around a base speed of  47, unlike the worse 25 speed.  Most of Hippowdon's moveset is somewhat the same with Gigalith, though there are some key moves that make its standout like Slack Off as mentioned, Whirlwind for phazing, elemental fangs for coverage, and Yawn for sleep status. Hippowodn can also utilize a Curse setup better than Gigalith as it has better coverage options, higher HP, and longevity with its Slack Off recovery move. Perhaps the best tradeoff about getting Hippowdon is it doesn't need the Sand Stream ability to be instantly "good", as is synergize extremely well with my defensive wall core. Hippowdon can work well with Pokemon such as Clefable, Mew, Amoonguss, and Zapdos since it can either resist key attacks well, or threaten / wall out opposing ground weak Pokemon like Fire-, Rock-, Poison-, Steel-, and Electric-types. In turn, most of my defensive Pokemon can easily withstand or pressure Water- and Grass-types while even alleviating Hippowdon a bit with cleric support, and defensive synergy. In all, Hippowdon has many traits going for itself as a strong physically defensive Pokemon who can achieve a plethora of roles and provide the sand when needed. 


Z Captain Change: Mew 


As mentioned above, with Manaphy's exit from the roster, this was practically a no brainers as Mew becomes now the main Z-Captain of the team. Frankly, does this need to be explain? Like seriously? Having access to all TM and Move Tutor moves in the game allows Mew to work as a Z-Captain quite possibly more effective than Manaphy. At best, Manaphy still has a somewhat predicable, though serviceable movepool unlike Mew since with a potential Tail Glow boost, it can easily bypass some of its hardest checks checks in the format. Mew can still function as a wallbreaker with access to setup options such as Calm Mind, Nasty Plot, Sword Dance, and Bulk Up, not to mention its expansive movepool to abuse to make use. With Manaphy's departure, this makes Mew a far more valuable Pokemon as its Z-Move potential cannot be underestimated that can prove invaluable in certain matchups should it come. 

Note: Mewium Z is banned from Mew in the CIL due to following GBA ruling.

  

Transaction No. 4: Add Kyurem - Drop Gigalith 


With the departure of Manaphy, and thus Gigalith's due to Hippowdon's introduction, there was one more transaction I can make for the LA Nidokings for the rest of the season, and this had to count. There were several things considered when selecting the last Pokemon almost like in a Draft such as speed tiering, roles, offensive / defensive values, and possible overlaps, or gaps on my team that need fixing. One Pokemon that struck me was Starmie as it can be a reliable spinner and pivot thanks to its fast 115 speed stat. The main concern with adding Starmie was it overlapping potential role from either Greninja and Mew, while sharing the same typing which didn't appeal to me. Having lost one of my best special attackers, felt there was a greater need to find a Pokemon who not has a high Special Attack, but can always play in multiple roles in for the team. After some debate, felt Kyurem was the "best" candidate for the team as it has one of the best offensive stats in 130 in both attacks and special attack, and has access to a bulkier defensive allocation as well. Kyurem is honestly underrated given it might have a myriad of weaknesses such as Fairy-, Steel-, Dragon-, Fighting-, and Rock-type Pokemon, this icy dragon can still pack a punch with powerful STAB Ice Beam or Draco Meteors. Even with its weaknesses, Kyurem's stat distribution is relatively superior compared to even most pseudo legendaries with viable coverage options such as Earth Power, Dragon Pulse,  Ancient Power, Shadow Ball, Psychic, Flash Cannon, Focus Blast, etc. In practice, thanks to the massive 130 special attack and a plethora of moves, Kyurem can act as a powerful special wall breaker capable of 2HKOing most of the draft format. To add to its depth, Kyurem can function as a utility or wall with options such as Roost, Light Screen, Reflect, Noble Roar, Toxic, etc paired it impressive 125 HP and 90 Defenses. Pressure suit Kyurem exceptionally well for this role as it along with Zapdos can form a Pressure stall duo which teams might fine hard to break. On a last note,  Kyurem can fill valuable roles as a revenge killer, a wall breaker, a utility wall, mixed attacker, or any other roles it can. Will be interesting to see how Kyurem can integrate itself into the team especially during the ladder half of the season winding down. 


Conclusion

With these transaction enacted, the LA Nidokings look close out the remainder of the CIL Season 5 on a strong note and go into playoffs. Definitely feel confident with the new team at hand as it now I have viable options from each member of the ranks. Some might only come maybe for one game or two, but given how short the season is, as long as they perform their roles this won't matter much. Alright that's all for now so will be back soon!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

CIL Season 5 Draft Analysis



CIL Season 5 Draft Analysis

(Guess who is coming back)


Another Run

Before giving my take on the latest LA Nidoking team, want to take a moment to reflect on some the notable milestones. In the 2nd season of CIL, the LA Nidokings made a great run going undefeated in all battles in the regular season. There were some great battles I had in this league such as from KantoCastBlue, RealMikeMadness, MightMamoswine, the commissioner (or should I say Kevimissioner), and of course Chase from in our finals battle. I know most of these people have come and went in the league over the past year and a half, though do want to give a shoutout nonetheless for making this league happen. Do find it engaging that everyone comes together to play some Pokemon and at the end of the day have fun. With that said, here are the main rules of the draft.



CIL Draft and Rules

Here are the following rules and overall sturture of the CIL League. Will a link to KevinVGC's blog since it has the complete rules to the League, though will explain the main points.

  • The CIL League has a 10 people drafting up to 11 Pokemon, which includes a Mega Evolution. 
  • For CIL Season 5, the draft itself will be a snake draft with a "Free Draft" style. Basically no restriction in any selections aside predetermined Pokemon and abilities that are banned in standard Singles play.
  • There will a total of 6 battle weeks in the CIL. As mentioned on site, a CIL week is actually 2 weeks IRL to accommodate for scheduling and time.
  • There will be 1 Z Crystal user in each team and can be change once per season (separate from transactions). 
  • Each team has a total of over 4 transactions including trades and free agency add/drops. 
  • The top four teams from the CIL will advance to the playoffs. 
    • 1st seed and 4th seed will faceoff as will the 2nd and 3th seeds.
    • Winners of each battle will move on to the CIL Championship Finals who will decide the overall winner of the season. 
  • For more clarification, see KevinVGC's blogspot page.


LA Nidokings Team



Now that the rules of the CIL have been discussed, its time to this season's LA Nidoking roster. For the draft lottery, the Nidokings were in the 6th spot, or effectively in the middle of the draft, which was the first time we've been in such a situation. Given this will be the must "even out spot" in the draft, felt the probability to get the mons I'd want was "high", but maybe not getting certain cores. At least I don't have to wait as long during the who selection process, especially how this is a free draft. Do want to mention how there are only 10 people this time did effect drafting given most people will go for the high tier picks and focus less on the moderately good stuff. This meant most of the CIL team will be stacked as hell this time around, though everyone was probably aware of this. For my first pick, didn't know what to select but maybe between Tapu Koko, Mega Scizor, Landorus-T, but in the end decided to go with this pick.



1st Round: Mew
Type: Psychic
Base Stat Total 600 - HP: 100 / Atk: 100 / Def: 100 / Sp. Atk: 100 / Sp. Def: 100 / Spe 100
Weaknesses: Dark (x2), Ghost (x2), Bug (x2)
Resistances: Psychic (1/2x), Fighting (1/2x)
Ability: Synchronize

For our first selection, Mew the first pick for the LA Nidokings mainly because of curiosity. What I meant there is this is the first time Mew was available to be selected by myself and the opportunity to select this unique Psychic type. What makes Mew exceptionally unique is how this little cat can learn nearly TM and Move Tutor moves in the game along with some interesting event options. Factoring it the base 100 stats across the board and you have one of the most versatile pokemon in the game who can essentially fulfill any roles for the LA Nidokings. As mention, Mew learns all setup based moves such as Sword Dance, Rock Polish, Calm Mind, Bulk Up, Tailwind, and Nasty Plot and has the movepool to hit everything in the game with neutral coverage. Alongside the usual Psychic STAB, Mew is one of the few Pokemon who have access to Aura Sphere, a 80-based Fighting-type move that forms a strong offensives coverage. There are other moves to take note of such as Reflect-type to change its type, Baton Pass to pass any boost to one of my mons, and Transform, which in of itself can create some interesting mind games by turning into the enemy Pokemon. Lets not forget Mew one of the most annoying defensive support Pokemon in League which access to reliable recovery, Knock Off, Will-o-Wisp, Dual Screens, Defog, and Volt Turn for pivoting. In terms of the ability, Synchronize might not seem as optimal, but at least Mew can inflict the same burn, paralysis, or poison status back, which can be helpful for defensive builds. In short, Mew was not just a 'safe' first-round selection to chose from, but also perhaps one of the better Pokemon to select in a Draft League. IMO, there are few Pokemon who can can be either an offensive user, a bulky pivot,  a defensive mon, or a setup user as best as Mew. Definitely going to consider Mew and use it to the fullest extent for every battle when it presents itself. 



2nd Round: Manaphy
Type: Water
Base Stat Total 600 - HP: 100 / Atk: 100 / Def: 100 / Sp. Atk: 100 / Sp. Def: 100 / Spe 100
Weaknesses:  Electric (x2), Grass (x2) 
Resistances: Fire (1/2x) , Ice (1/2x), Water (1/2x)
Ability: Hydration

In terms of the draft, did not expect Manaphy to fall to my hands once again mainly because felt someone would select the blue angle Pokemon, yet somehow I got it for this league. To be honest, Manaphy in tandem with Mew is probably the best offensive core I got started up mainly because both can setup in some fashion, especially Manaphy with Calm Mind and Tail Glow. As one of the pixie Pokemon, Manaphy has a base stat total of 100s across the board with an moderately great special move pool with Water-type moves like Scald, Surf, and Brine respectively. In terms of coverage, Manaphy has some fantastic special moves such as Ice Beam, Dazzling Gleam, Energy Ball, Shadow Ball, Psychic, Ancient Power, Signal Beam, etc. There are plenty of interesting roles Manaphy can fulfill for this team such as being a defensive wall, a setup sweeper, a CM Hydration tank, Duel Screen, and pivoting options. To be honest, Manaphy is a great 2nd round pick for this team given how much of a threat it is in terms of draft league. Just one well timed Tail Glow and Manaphy can go for a sweep or possibly wall break the enemy team to make a possible win much easier. Despite the mainly positive traits about Manaphy, the only issue with this Water-type is that it kinda needs that initial setup to be threatening, however Manaphy's bulk should be able to allow for a Tail Glow or Calm Mind boost. 



3rd Round: Zapdos
Type: Electric / Flying
Base Stat Total 580 - HP: 90 / Atk: 90 / Def: 85 / Sp. Atk: 125 / Sp. Def: 90 / Spe 100
Weaknesses:  Ice (x2), Rock (x2)
Resistances: Bug, Fighting, Steel, Flying, Grass (all 1/2x)
Immunity: Ground
Abilities: Pressure / Static 

To be honest, this was another Pokemon I was extremely amazed fell this into my hands, alongside many other viable Pokemon like Latias, Kyurem-B, Clefable, etc With that said, Zapdos is one of the most versatile Pokemon thanks to its great Electric/Flying-typing that allows it to be a threat from the offensive, but defensive standpoint. As the 5th time I've selected this Pokemon, Zapdos's Electric/Flying-typing cannot go understated with a resistances powerful offensive types such as Fighting-, Steel-, Flying, and even an immunity to the ever present Ground-type. While do admit Zapdos might not have the "best" stats in its defense, this isn't much of an issues Roost to not only replenish its HP by half, but also remove its Flying-type to gain a resistance or neutrality to Electric-, Rock-, and Ice-type moves. If it wasn't clear, the main reason for selecting Zapdos wasn't just for it defensive capabilities, but for pivoting options like Volt Switch / U-turn, hazard removal to relive Mew from this role, and access to a powerful Electric-type mon with an incredible 125 Special Attack. Zapdos has a plethora of Electric-type moves to abuse and an decent coverage options from Thunderbolt, Discharge, Heat Wave, Air Cutter, Thunder Wave, Dual Screens, Baton Pass, Toxic, etc. In terms of abilities, Zapdos has to interesting abilities in Pressure and Static that surprisingly give the thunder bird its defensive capabilities. With Pressure, Zapdos can continuously waste vital power point values on a move which can put my opponent in an unfavorable position should the battle drag out. Static can be more "immediate" certain situations if my opponent's Pokemon make contact, there's a 30% chance they'll be inflicted with paralysis, thus giving me a shocking, yet effective speed control option.  In all, Zapdos is one of those Pokemon certainly haven't been disappointed using at all, and know this will solidify my defensive cores to come. 




4th Round: Excadrill
Type: Ground / Steel 
Base Stat Total 508 - HP: 110 / Atk: 135 / Def: 600 / Sp. Atk: 50 / Sp. Def: 65 / Spe 88
Weaknesses:  Fighting (x2), Fire  (x2), Water (x2), Ground (x2)
Resistances: Rock (1/4x), Dragon, Bug, Fairy, Steel, Flying, Normal, Psychic (all 1/2x)
Immunity: Electric, Poison
Abilities: Sand Rush, Sand Force, Mold Breaker

With three specially inclined Pokemon already drafted onto this team, its time to start picking out some physically attackers to balanced this out. Took awhile to see what Pokemon was available, but then noticed Excadrill wasn't selected, which actually fit my team exceptionally well. Funny part about this pick is I never actually used Excadrill in a draft league, yet it always gives me trouble in almost any draft league, so at least its on my hands. In terms of offensive prowess, man Excadrill is one of the most feared Pokemon in any thanks to having Sand Rush to double its speed and potentially breaking or sweeping a team with powerful Earthquakes. For a Ground / Steel-type, Excadrill is an unusual amount of resistances and immunity listed above can make it difficult to revenge kill at times. For instances, Excadrill resists all three of the dubbed "fantasy core" with Steel-, Dragon-, and Fairy-typing respectively and can take advantage coming in on Electric- or Poison-type moves unharmed. As mentioned, Excadrill has a powerful 135 attack stat while plenty of coverage options such as Earthquake, Drill Run, Iron Head, X-scissor, Rock Slide, Rock Tomb, Shadow Claw, Brick Break, or even Sword Dance to heighten its attack power to the nth degree. Even from a defensive standpoint, thanks to its typing and amount of resistances, Excadrill can take advantage of some defensive or support qualities such as Stealth Rocks, Toxic, or the coveted Rapid Spin, (not to mention giving me three viable hazard removals options this early!) In terms of possible abilities. Sand Rush is very powerful on Excadrill thus doubling its somewhat middling speed stat to frightening levels and can revenge kill, or possibly sweep / break opposing teams. Another decent ability for Excadrill is Mold Breaker, which ignores the opposing abilities of any Pokemon, which can come in handy facing Levitate or Magic Bounce Pokemon. Sand Force isn't that great since it gives the mole a Life Orb boost kinda, but its not as reliable as Sand Rush or Mold Breaker. Do think Excadrill is a good value pick up this deep at this point, offering the team vital offensive roles or defensive capabilities that can't go understated.



5th Round: Clefable
Type: Fairy 
Base Stat Total 483 - HP: 95 / Atk: 70 / Def: 73 / Sp. Atk: 95 / Sp. Def: 90 / Spe 60
Weaknesses:  Poison (x2), Steel (x2)
Resistances: Bug, Fighting, Dark (all 1/2x)
Immunity: Dragon
Abilities: Cute Charm / Magic Guard / Unaware

So this pick has a story to tell. Originally I was going to select Tyranitar or Hippowdon as my 5th Pokemon to complete my sand core. However during the inter period selection, both of them got pick, especially T-tar who almost one selection away before getting it. Kinda scrambled at first trying to find a good replacement Pokemon to get instead and noticed few of the Fairy-types (save Tapus) were chosen, so decided now its a good time to pick one up. Honestly there couldn't been a better Pokemon than Clefable who is one of the best defensive Fairy-type Pokemon in the game, especially when considering its many valuable traits this pink star has. To start off, Clefable has access two of the best defensive abilities in Pokemon in Magic Guard and Unaware, which both have there uses. Magic Guard basically prevents any form of residual damage on Clefable, and must be a direct move to inflict damage. This mean Clefable cannot be harmed from the likes of hazards, leech seed, burn, or most importantly Toxic poison. Unaware is interesting when you consider Clefable can ignore the accumulated stat boosts of an enemy, meaning it possibly wall most forms of setup Pokemon. Both abilities allows Clefable to act as a vital sponge for the team against possibly residual damage or be a main line of defensive against setup sweepers. In terms of support coverage, Clefable inherits a large special movepool originally from its Normal-typing as it boasts moves such as Moonblast, Flamethrower, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Calm Mind, Thunder Wave, Stealth Rocks, etc. With access to Wish and Heal Bell / Aromatherapy, Clefable can act as a Cleric option for the team to replenish lost HP value or cure problematic status.  To be frank, this isn't the best option for Clefable as arguably the best sets for this Fairy-type is the setup variants revolving around Calm Mind or Cosmic Stored Power as once it gets going, few Pokemon can stop. Overall Clefable is a exceptionally great Fairy-type to select probably as one of the best steals of the draft to me that actually forms a strong defensive core with Mew and Zapdos. Definitely satisfied with how the team is looking as the draft enters the middle where all the best tier 1 mons are gone. 



6th Round: Alolan Muk
Type: Poison / Dark
Base Stat Total 500 - HP: 105 / Atk: 105 / Def: 75 / Sp. Atk: 65 / Sp. Def: 100 / Spe 50
Weaknesses:  Ground (x2), 
Resistances: Dark, Ghost, Grass, Poison (all 1/2x)
Immunity: Psychic
Abilities: Gluttony, Poison Touch, Power of Alchemy

This was perhaps the one time I actually debated about selecting a Pokemon in the Draft after the Clefable pick from the 5th round. Was interested in finding another viable Dark-type Pokemon and there were plenty of poison to chose from, but Alolan Muk kept being at the top of my list. As a result, decided to go with this colorful Hawaiian garbage thing that had an interesting niche in being a Poison / Dark type. As mentioned, Alolan Muk is actually weak to one type in Ground-type and has a good amount of resistances, especially to Ghost- and Psychic type Pokemon. At this point, wanted to have a Pokemon who can actually deal well against Ghost- and Psychic-type Pokemon who can somewhat pressure this team so Alolan Muk was great chose. With options such as Pursuit, Knock Off, Taunt, Clear Smog, Poison Jab, and the elemental punches make this a dangerous slouch that can't be slept on. Do want to mention perhaps the reasoning for selecting Alolan Muk this early was because it was one of I think exclusive Pokemon with access to the Ability Gluttony, and move Recycle, thus giving this thing an interesting recovery option. Now that Alolan Muk has Recycle, it can now play a role similar to what Snorlax in VGC 17 played for much of the format as a Recycle setup mon, though in this case reliance on Curse boosts. With a decent 105 HP and Special Defense stat, Alolan Muk can easily patch its lower physical defense stat to capable levels and can always recover back HP when its goes below 50%. Overall felt at the time Alolan Muk time was up to go in the draft in my hands as I certainly didn't want to face this thing in a potential matchup. Well I guess there's always free agency to patch those weaknesses up. 



7th Round: Buzzwole
Type: Bug / Fighting
Base Stat Total 570 - HP: 107 / Atk: 139 / Def: 139 / Sp. Atk: 53 / Sp. Def: 53 / Spe 79
Weaknesses:  Flying (x4), Fire, Psychic, Fairy (all x2)
Resistances: Bug, Ground, Fighting, Dark, Grass (all 1/2x)
Abilities: Beast Boost

This next selection didn't take as long as the Alolan Muk pick as this Pokemon was probably one I wanted to try out in the Draft League format in quite awhile and that's the Bug-/Fighting-type Buzzwole. First thing to note is as an "Ultra Beast", or "Sub-Legendary", Buzzwole is blessed with a strong-yet adnormal stat allocation with an emphasis in HP, Attack, and Defense. Like to be honest, never seen a Pokemon like Buzzwole with a physical based allocation like that, and the movepool to utilize this as much as Buzzwole can. Speaking of movepool, this mosquito bodybuilder alien...thing has two STAB moves with "BOTH" recovery options in Leech Life (guess that's why Game Freak buffed the move), and the newly acquired Drain Punch. Not only that, Buzzwole has a capable physical based movepool from the likes of the elemental punches, Rock Slide, Earthquake, Hammer Arm, Poison Jab, Iron Head, Lunge, etc that only complement its high attacking power. If that weren't enough, Buzzwole can utilize such option to make a decent physical wall with moves like Toxic, Lunge (lowers attack of enemy), Roost (if it already didn't have enough recovery...), Taunt, and Bulk Up, man this can one of the most difficult physical tanks to take down without special moves. Yet.... if that wasn't enough, Buzzwole has access to one of the best abilities in Beast Boost, which raises Buzzwoles highest possible stat, being either Attack, Defense, or Speed (due to its stat allocation). With all these positive traits, do want to mention a few weaknesses, though this does keep in line how well Buzzwole fits onto this team. Basically the team needs a Pokemon capable of switching onto powerful physical-based moves like Earthquake from time to time and Buzzwole has amazing defenses to do so. Literally the first six Pokemon on this team can handle Flying-types with Zapdos, Fire-types with Manaphy and Excadrill),  Psychic with Alolan Muk and Mew, and Fairy with Alolan Muk and Excadrill. In return, Buzzwole can manage deal with some of most physically offensive mons in the game like Mamoswine, Krookodile, Terrakion, etc as some examples while my main defensive core can sponge possibly special attacks from this guy. Some of these physical offensive Pokemon want to setup against some of the Pokemon my draft has, but Buzzwole can tank such hits, then possibly proceed to steamroll the opposing team. Definitely gonna be a fun Pokemon to use. 


8th Round: Roserade
Type: Grass / Poison
Base Stat Total 515 - HP: 60 / Atk: 70 / Def: 65 / Sp. Atk: 125 / Sp. Def: 105 / Spe 90
Weaknesses:  Flying, Fire, Psychic, Ice(all x2)
Resistances: Electric, Fairy, Fighting, Water (all 1/2x), Grass (x1/4)
Abilities: Natural Cure, Poison Point, Technician

As we approached the later stages of the draft, did feel like it was time to start getting more viable hazard support options while still filling up my main types for the LA Nidoking squad. When I looked what was leftover, felt I can go at least one more round before selecting Gigalith, but felt Roserade was probably gonna be taken now so might as well get it. To start, Roserade is by no means a slouch when it comes to the offensive coverage with a powerful 125 special attack and a plethora of strong special moves like Energy Ball, Giga Drain Leaf Storm, Sludge Bomb, Shadow Ball, Dazzling Gleam, and Technician-boosted Hidden Power, etc. Not only can Roserade be an effective special attacker, but can be a rather annoying status or hazard setter with access to moves like Toxic Spikes, Spikes, Sleep Powder, Stun Spore, Toxic, Leech Seed, etc. Keep in mind, Roserade can sometimes be built from a defensive standpoint to make use of hazard setting or possible walling potential with moves like Leech Seed, Giga Drain, or even Natural Cure Rest to recover most of its HP while switching out the following turn. Do want to mention how Roserade has been one of of the few Pokemon I've used consistently in multiple draft and has won me championships. Can't understate how important hazard stacking can be to help get vital chip damage against the opposing team whether it be from Spikes or Toxic Spikes damage. With this, along with possible Stealth Rock damage can help wither the opposing team down enough where my main heavy walls or sweepers can win. With that said, hazards might be a little harder to maintain since everyone has Defog options, though Roserade is certainly a valuable member of this team. 


9th Round: Gigalith
Type: Rock
Base Stat Total 525 - HP: 85 / Atk: 135 / Def: 130 / Sp. Atk: 60 / Sp. Def: 80 / Spe 25
Weaknesses: Fighting, Steel, Water, Grass, Ground (all x2)
Resistances: Fire, Flying, Normal, Poison (all 1/2x)
Abilities: Sand Force, Sand Stream, Sturdy

After getting sniped from acquiring two possible Sand Stream setter, Gigalith was going to be next Pokemon selections due to how valuable the weather was for Excadrill. In terms of what Gigalith brings to the table compared to Tyranitar and Hippowdon, its not as much, though does receive a special defense boost like T-tar does. Having used Gigalith in VGC 17, thing this pile of rock has going is is "lack" of major weaknesses like Tyranitar, though still persistent.  As a Rock-type, Gigalith can setup Stealth Rocks and check Fire-, Bug-, and Flying-type Pokemon who might threaten the team. With a high physical defense, and boosted special defense thanks to the sand, Gigalith can be one tough Pokemon to break, especially when it has a respectable 135 attack stat. Gigalith's offensive movepool is enough to pressure opposing teams with attacks such as Stone Edge, Rock Blast, Earthquake, Heavy Slam, Superpower, etc. Do have to keep in mind Gigalith is one of the slowest Pokemon in the game. With all that said, Gigalith's main role for this team is to provide hazards in Stealth Rock, check any Pokemon it has an advantage over, and most of all provide the sandstorm for Excadrill. Know I'd said this multiple times, but Excadrill in the sand can effectively outspeed the unboosted format. Will like to give a special mention that at least Gigalith can provide hazard support much better than others like Clefable, Mew, or Excadrill who might want that extra moveslot. In all, Gigalith is an essential component of the team who can act as a wall, provide the sand, hazard control, and chip at my opponent. 



10th Round: Porygon2
Type: Normal
Base Stat Total 515 - HP: 85 / Atk: 80 / Def: 90 / Sp. Atk: 105 / Sp. Def: 95 / Spe 60
Weaknesses: Fighting, (x2)
Immunity: Ghost
Abilities: Trace, Download, Analytic

For the last two Pokemon, noticed around this time, everyone but myself already selected their mandatory Mega evolution and my "preferred" choice was basically ensured. There were some very interesting Pokemon who weren't selected, however, Porygon2 was a Pokemon I had on my radar and felt "ehh why not?" In terms of what Porygon2 offers, this Pokemon is notorious with bulk thanks to the Eviolite item, which raises its defense by 50% each. With the augmented defense stats, Porygon2 can be used as a one of my best walls against some of the hardest hitting Pokemon to switch into. As a Normal-type, Porygon2 has some notable advantages as having access to a wide variety of special attacks, support, recovery, and even setup options from Ice Beam,Thunderbolt, Toxic, Recover, Foul Play, etc. Even Porygon2's ability selection is quite interesting with options like Trace to copy the opposing abilities, Download to get an immediate +1 boost in either Attack stats, or Analytic which gives the virtual duck a 1.3x boost in power if its the last to move. Throughout the time I've seen Porygon2 in action, do believe it works best with  partners willing to sponge powerful hits (even Fighting-moves) aside this guy from time to time. With defensive options such as Mew, Zapdos, and  Clefable, Porygon2 can easily thrive thanks work together with my team to form a strong defensive core willing to spread the damage among each other. Might sound counterproductive to say this, but even the sturdiest Pokemon need reliable partners to pair. Do feel Porygon2 can work for my team, though we'll just have to if this duck can prove my claims. 



11th Round: Mega Charizard X
Type: Fire / Dragon
Base Stat Total 634 - HP: 78 / Atk: 130 / Def: 111 / Sp. Atk: 130 / Sp. Def: 85 / Spe 100
Weaknesses: Rock, Ground, Dragon (all x2)
Resistances: Fire, Grass (x1/4),  Bug, Electric, Steel (x1/2)
Immunity: None
Abilities: Tough Claws

By the last round, most of the people already knew what was going to be my last selection for the draft and I knew myself following the 3rd or 4th round with some possible Mega choices going. Like in a seriousness, Mega Charizard X was one of my choices, but thought it might have been chosen long ago by someone else and didn't expect it to survive this late into the draft. By the time KevinVGC selected his Mega Evolution (and seeing his team composition), kind of expected Charizard X to fall to me with the the much needed Fire / Dragon typing. To keep this short, Charizard X was my main mega from Season 2 who was part of my main championship team and was effective towards the end of the season and finals. Do think back then, Charizard X struggled mainly because it was forced into one-for-one situations where it faints upon taking out a Pokemon, though usually vital walls or win cons. Do feel this time around, Charizard X will have a better time with the new teammates as they are generally focus in wearing down the opposing enemy team. Do feel Charizard X can fulfill several roles for this team aside being the ever present Dragon Dance wall breaker / sweeper such as a Will-o-Wisp tank, specially defensive mon, Sword Dance wall breaker, or just an all-out attacker. If there's one thing I'll say why Charizard X was "successful" on my team the last time, its that there's few Pokemon capable of taking down this mon. This is why Fire / Dragon is such an incredible offensive typing on X as with moves like Flare Blitz, Outrage, Dragon Claw, etc not only get a STAB boost, but also Tough Claws (which also boost any contact moves by 1.3x). Do feel given the team composition of the LA Nidokings that Charizard X will play a major role as the one of the main offensive options or even the cleaner. Though Mega Charizard X was selected last on my team, at least I know exactly how to use this Mega and rest assured, this mon will be my kill leader. 


First Impressions


Based on the what the LA Nidokings drafted initially for Season 5, I'd say this is one of our strongest and perhaps most durable drafts built. Quite frankly, anyone can argue that I'd run just only the first five Pokemon from our selection with Charzard X and that team can still perform well. The fact the Nidokings draft a strong defensive core in Mew, Clefable, and Zapdos, but also powerful wallbreakers and sweepers like Excadrill, Manaphy, and Charizard X make this team strong and one of the hardest to prepare for. The last 5 Pokemon before selecting our Mega Charizard X were essentially role players that provide the team with options such as physical tank, bulky pivots, hazard support, or pursuit trapping. In terms of hazard support and control, the squad has a great balance of Stealth Rock setters, and reliable removable, especially with Zapdos, Mew, and Excadrill. Did notice how most the entire team has some form of reliable recovery, bar my sand core which is frankly remarkable to be able to sustain themselves from taking damage over time. 

Perhaps the biggest concern with this draft is the lack of reliable revenge killers or Pokemon above the 100 speed tier like having Weavile or Latias last couple seasons. Some might not see this as a cause of concern, but for me it is somewhat of a glaring weakness which will be address in free agency. Guess the best remedy for now is to rely upon our bulk, or use Sand Rush Excadrill, Dragon Dance Charizard X, or any other Scarf Pokemon for the time being. Another concern regarding the team composition is the potential of certain Pokemon in this draft being "outclassed" in terms of walling or setup potential. This might go into how Clefable, Mew, and Buzzwole like to setup, though this might leave out Alolan Muk, or even Charizard X out of setup roles. The same can be said about the amount of walls I have on this team and might overuse certain Pokemon over another. Guess on the plus side, that's exactly how I'll approach our future transactions.

In terms of type synergy, most of this team can reliably switch with each other in the right matchups and still pressure the enemy team offensively and defensively. Take the defensive core of Mew and Clefable for instance, as Mew is weak to Ghost-, Bug-, and Dark-type Pokemon while Clefable is weak to Steel- and Poison-type Pokemon.  Mew can easily threaten Poison-types and threaten Steel-types with a coverage option, meanwhile Clefable can tank any Bug-, and Dark-type Pokemon hits though Ghost-types will be neutral. For that matter, Alolan Muk and Porygon2 can easily wall most Ghost-types and threaten them with Dark- and Ghost-type most of their own, or potential status. Fighting-type Pokemon might pressure these two and Gigalith, however the Mew-Clefable pairing not only beats most Fighting Pokemon, but Zapdos, Buzzwole, and Roserade resist said type. 

For offensive capabilities, the threat of Manaphy, Charizard X, Excadrill, Mew, Buzzwole, and other setup Pokemon on this team synergy exceptionally well together. Take Buzzwole for instance as it can take hits from Grass-, Dark-, Bug-, or Ground-type moves which can pressure either Manaphy, Charizard X, or Mew. From their Buzzwole can use this opportunity to setup, attack what's in front, or make a prediction. In that case, do feel this is where Manaphy, Buzzwole, Excadrill, and Charizard X will thrive best in certain matchups as they can setup or immediately go for the offense. Manaphy, Excadrill, and Charizard X synergize amazing together as Char X / Drill can beat opposing Grass- or Electric-types Manaphy is threaten by. In turn, Manaphy can easily setup against opposing Ground-, Rock-, and some Water-types that can pressure either Char X or Excadrill. 

Overall this new LA Nidoking team for CIL S5 is by far strong in terms of defensive and offensive potential. Due have to credit the fact that this time around there were only 10 people in the draft and my selection can around the 6th slot. The amount of wait time I had before selecting was about as even compared with most people aside Sam who was in a similar spot as I was. Will reiterate that most of my draft, do want every Pokemon to partake in all the matchups at least once or twice to show how much depth there is. Going into any draft, versatility is key to any draft league as it ensures your opponents guessing what sets you'd run, as well as the potential near unlimited options a team can have going into each week, and possibly into playoffs. 


Closing Remarks
  

That's all I go to say about the new LA Nidoking team for CIL Season 5 going into this. Will mention I'm not going to do individual weekly writeups this time, as these will be covered in video format on my Youtube channel for each matchup. In those videos, I'll go over my team preparation, what my opponent has in anticipation, and finally the replay of the battle. Might do a reflection of how the season went for post season, and possibly a transaction posts on certain Pokemon were moved or dropped for others.  Will want to mention the KevinVGC's Blog as he has all the CIL rule update for Season 5 and other past seasons as well. As mention in my previous analysis, these battles are meant to have fun for everyone, so I'll go into these game with my best, and not having any regrets. Alright Cya!




Tuesday, February 13, 2018

NBA Season Report #1: Week 1 thru Week 3



NBA Season Report #1: Week 1 thru Week 3




Preview: The following is a summarized week-by-week version of PFA/NBA Season for the first three weeks of the league during the span. I've decided to recount the weekly experience in team preparation, matchups analysis, and of course the actual battles in a brief setting. Given the magnitude of essentially writing for a good quarter of the season it be best to work on a few individual season-reports before dissecting possible playoffs battles. Won't go extremely overboard in the write-ups, but give insight into how I prepare for each week, the battles itself, and the outcomes. With all that said, here is the report.


Season Thoughts: 


Initial LA Nidoking Roster: Manaphy, Zapdos, Entei, Kyurem, Nidoqueen, Metagross, Umbreon, Ribombee, Type:Null, Gourgeist, Cryogonal


After serving a year and a half break from the PFA, the LA Nidokings return to to the draft league format in pursuit of another title. Did take a minor break from league from August just before the eventual start of the new NBA season by the end of 2017 with interest in Ultra Sun/Moon high.  By the time everyone had drafted, I looked at my team and noticed some issues with it, but didn't look far past them aside the initial strengths. Once again, we are paired with a strong core of Manaphy, Kyurem, Entei and Zapdos after all which in of itself is the best offensive cores early season. Both Nidoqueen and Metagross were amazing bulky offensive Pokemon in their own right with access to the team's hazard support. Pokemon such as Ribombee and Type: Null provided their niche roles as a Eviolite wall or Sticky Web support. Cryogonal and Gourgeist were interesting Pokemon given how they both have astonishing special or physical bulk with good recovery options and semi good walling capabilities . Umbreon was the team's cleric Pokemon which at first seems like a strong pickup thanks to that insane bulk and pivot options. 


So with those traits...why did I blow up my team at the start of week 3?


If anyone wants to review the LA Nidokings Draft Analysis, might be best to start here to get an idea on what happen with certain changes to the team, however I'll touch on some important points. The main core issues with the initial team was 1) team synergy, 2) lack of "good" walls and support Pokemon, 3) overall costs, and lastly 4) lack of clear roles. Could tackle down all these points in a separate post, but might as well briefly discuss them. Like you see, a good draft team has a team that allows Pokemon to perform a multitude of roles whether it be play as a bulky pivots, offensive options, cleric support, or a good wall cores. The team has an amazing offensive core yes, but most of those Pokemon are extremely weak to Rock-typing (or Stealth Rocks), Fighting-types, Dark-types, and Ghost-types. This point will be emphasis in weeks 1 and 2 given what were the battles outcomes. 

As mentioned, the lack of clear roles and synergy was an important issue for the team given how there wasn't a clear defensive options or pivots. Like Umbreon was at least decent from Season 4, but at the time, it felt like the only good wall which has limited offensive capabilities. As later discovered, Gourgeist, Type:Null, and Cryogonal are good makeshift walls, but that's about it. Aside their STAB options, they don't really have a good movepools to abuse their bulk, especially Type: Null whose movepool was really atrocious. What really drives this point is they are only niche Pokemon which can do one good role and that's it. Gourgeist doesn't have the best Ghost-type moves, Type:Null has to rely on Wish support or Rest for recovery, and Cryogonal, though a good Water check and hazard removal, has a limiting movepool with only strong Ice STABs. 

In short, these Pokemon don't synergize well with the other type Pokemon and certainly was erroneous of me to selecting them in the first place. Speaking of the team, the costs of maintaining Manaphy into the overall team was rather taxing and felt it was best to part ways with our beloved captain this time (see you in CIL lol). By removing the 100 point tax for selecting an S Tier, this open the team up for new Pokemon to select from the B, C, and D Tier mons which weren't drafted. In the end at the cost of dropping Manaphy, Type: Null, Umbreon, Cryogonal, and Rimbombee the team ended up selecting a overall strong pairings of Mega Lopunny, Primarina, Florges, Miltank, and Spiritomb. As mention I'd go into why I'd selected or picked up these Pokemon in free agency so read here

With that out of the way, lets get into the weeks 1 thru 3 games. 
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Artist: All0412


WEEK 1: Toronto Staraptors (Gamma) - Replay


My Team: Zapdos, Entei (Z), Kyurem (Z), Metagross (Z), Ribombee, Gourgeist, Manaphy, Nidoqueen, Umbreon, Type: Null
Cryogonal

His Team: Excadrill, Reuniclus (Z), Heliolisk, Gigalith, Gligar, Gurdurr, Tapu Bulu, Terrakion, Mimikyu (Z), Blastoise
Oricorio-G (Z)


If there was one week where I noticed most of the issues with the team, it was with our week 1 battle against Gamma. For those who don't know, Gamma was one of the newest players from Season 5 who made strong run with a 8-4 record. Looking at the matchup, it seemed like a typical sand based team with Excadrill, Gigalith, Heliolisk, and Reuniclus, paired with offensive Pokemon such as Tapu Bulu, Terrakion, and Mimikyu. Already the Sand Rush Excadrill and the Terrakion where a huge pain to team build for, however I felt he had the tools to win this game. Looking at the team, Manaphy, Life Orb hazards Nidoqueen, and Scarf Metagross can play good offensive roles for this game, especially if I can at least setup Tail Glow. Zapdos was brought here to mainly to deal with the Blastoise and gain momentum for the team with Volt Switch, and of course Reflect to cut the damage of all physical moves in half. Gourgeist had an interesting set in Bullet Seed to break Mimikyu's Disguise and Sludge Bomb to handle Tapu Bulu more efficiently. Lastly Specs Rimbombee was a last minute choice but felt ok at the time since it can 2HKO most of his team and can provide Sticky Web support.  

In terms of the actual battle, I had a good amount of momentum up until turn 11 when I decided to "sack" Zapdos for setuping screens. Honestly felt at the time this was a terrible play for what's to come later on that game since Zapdos had Roost, but at the time I felt there wasn't any usefulness aside to setup the Reflect. What it really came down to was most my team getting picked chipped initially from the likes of Mimikyu, Gigalith, and the apparent scarf Heliolisk. Scarf Metagross really wasn't the best Pokemon to utilize for this game and it getting hit by 50% from Mimikyu wasn't the best trade either. As mentioned, this battle did seem as is we were doing well up until turn 11, which at that point didn't realize my opponent was setting up for a Reunclus sweep. 

When it was Nidoqueen v Reuniclus, I thought about going for Earth Power but decided it was best to save it for Metagross instead to try an Explode or Trick it, but once it setup Trick Room, I realized it was too late. By that point I was practically forced to try and sack my Pokemon here and there. As a result of this onslaught, the I wasn't able to recover and didn't have the resources needed to win out as Gamma can just sack mons for a Reuniclus endgame. If there was one teambuilding mistake I'd made, it was not considering a 50% berry on one of my mons or the possibility of Light Screen on Zapdos. Umbreon might have been a better call over Ribombee, but it open a door to Terrakion to setup with any Justified boosts. 

Overall, this battle exposed my teams issues with speed tiers and special bulk as there was few ways I'd be able to respond to an offensive cores, especially if they were powerful special attackers. Surprisingly was able to handle the sand core of Gigalith, Excadrill, and Heliolisk, however Reuniclus just cleaned my team. Speaking of Reuniclus, I had only two ways to beat in Heart Swap Manaphy and Trick Explosion Metagross, but again didn't prepared for a possible Trick Room route. This was essentially one of those battles that was rather eye opening to see the strengths and weakness of the team as well as spark and possible movements. Despite these calls for change, do give my opponent Gamma credit for beating me down the way it happen. Goes to show how much planning and battle experience is needed to be on your toes in a draft league






Artist: Mark331





WEEK 2: St. Louis Swablus (Wenwuk) - Replay


My Team: Zapdos, Entei (Z), Kyurem (Z), Metagross (Z), Ribombee, Gourgeist, Manaphy, Nidoqueen, Umbreon, Type: Null, Cryogonal

His Team: Hydreigon, Zygarde 50% (Z), Roserade, Mantine, Swellow (Z), Magmar, Mega Steelix, Florges, Lucario (Z), Vikivolt Toxapex


At this point I was convinced the upcoming schedule for the Nidokings was one the hardest after losing to Gamma and now facing Wenwuk who's rather experience in the draft league format. The team Wenwuk drafted might seem rather unorthodox but I felt there was strong potential from both his defensive, and even offensive options to beating me. The wall core of Mantine, Florges, Toxapex, and of course Mega Steelix was by far going to be difficult to break What annoyed me the most when teambuilding was the prospect of facing both Toxapex and Mantine who both had Haze to remove the boosts from Manaphy while they recover or toxic stall. Even offensive threats such as Swellow, Hydreigon, Zygarde, and Lucario to me had the potential to sweep my team if given the chance. The way I'd approached this battle was to bring Tail Glow Manaphy with Psychic (expecting no Mantine), offensive Zapdos to deal heavy damage to most of his mons, and Kyurem to setup Substitute in prime positions when Mantine or Toxapex were in. Metagross and Nidoqueen were brought given they at least can pressure his wall core with the appropriate coverage and had good bulk (or in Nido's case Shuca Berry) to revenge Zygarde. Lastly Cryogonal was added as my scarfer given the lack of revenge options for Swellow, Scarf Hydreigon, and again Zygarde.

To be frank, this battle wasn't clean as I'd hope given the amount of misses and crits on both sides. If there was one thing I regret, its that I didn't have HP Electric Manaphy to break thru Mantine, otherwise it was actually good game from there. Instead the battle is sluggish on my end as I attempt to halt Wenwuk offense while breaking his walls. Despite missing some Heat Waves, Zapdos manages to deal some considerable damage to most of Wen's team, however it eventually falls to Zygarde as it tanks the HP Ice with a Yache Berry. In a swing of momentum, Cryogonal manages to scare off the Zygarde, however am faced with a Lucario instead with the possibility of setup. With most of my team taken some damage, Kyurem remains as the last major Pokemon that poses a serious threat to Wenwuk, and of course it does. After gaining a Sub on Mantine, Kyurem is able to kill Roserade on a sack and a Lucario as it broke the Substitute.  However Hydreigon is able to put a stop Kyurem's slight bout, so Nidoqueen is sacked. 

In a three v three situation, Metagross, Kyurem, and Manaphy were my best chances to win the game and knew it probably come down to prediction. In one instance, Wenwuk correctly predicts my switchout to my Kyurem to kill it off, however in an unfortunate twist misses his Draco Meteor. This alone shatters the momentum from the prediction to my favor as it dies to the Ice Beam. With a weaken Mantine and Zygarde, Metagross is able to pick off the remaining Pokemon with its bulk and thus steal a win here. Will like to mention this one of the best games I had in awhile especially come off from an extended break. Didn't expect to win this game, and rightfully so given the actual outcome, though Wenwuk did say I did have a better matchup. 

As for the Draco Meteor miss, it did matter since at that point all what Wenwuk had to do was sack Hydreigon via doing chip damage to Metagross via Dark Pulse and then revenge with Zygarde to win the game. Then again given his fear of a potential Shuca Berry on Metagross, he might have saved Hydeigon, which ironically gives me a chance to win assuming Mantine is sacked and him immediately bringing in Hyderigon. It would come down to Manaphy tanking an Extreme Speed from Zygarde but it be close. Either way, this doesn't excuse the fact both my play and to a degree preparation wasn't on point. I know its rather unfortunate for Wenwuk since he now had a 0-2 start via bad hax, but its one of those things we can't prepare for anyways. We'll take the win no doubt as it helps for the next batch of strong opponents. 





Artist: Ishman





WEEK 3: Mesa Macargos (GingerxPug - "Ryan") - Replay


My Team: Zapdos, Entei (Z), Kyurem (Z), Metagross (Z), Ribombee, Gourgeist, Manaphy, Nidoqueen, Umbreon, Type: Null, Cryogonal


His Team: Dragonite, Chansey, Golisopod (Z),Gardevoir (Z), Aggron, Tangela, Mega Pidgeot, Infernape (Z), Ditto, Lanturn
Gengar


Going in this battle, I'd already made some important transactions to take advantage of the upcoming free agency for these Pokemon and as mention will be the last games for a couple members, even Bloo included. Don't want to dive on the topic further, just know by now we made key moves that will help long-term for the team's success. Getting back to the battle, GingerxPug, or Ryan is one of the original members of PFA who has stick out throughout the this time and he's one of the best battlers from our group. If there was any who can possible beat me, it was Ryan with his rather interesting strong offensive core of Dragonite, Gardevoir, Infernape, Gengar and Mega Pidgeot. There were some ubiquitous threats such as the Chansey and Ditto who practically can halt any potential setup from Manaphy. Lanturn was another Pokemon that can give Ryan momentum with the Volt Switch, but can deal with both Zapdos and Manaphy which I intended on bringing. Golisopod, Aggron, and Tangela were Ryan's last selection, though didn't expect them to come since they fair poorly against my team, though Golisopod can setup Spikes at least. 

Given the matchup, I decided it be best for Manaphy to play the role as a Choice Scarfer along with bringing Extreme Speed Entei to pick off his team. Given the opportunity,  both Kyurem and Entei had Substitute to able to take a Seismic Toss from Chansey without breaking, and possible setup or lure is other mons in. Kyurem's case in particular was actually a mono attacking set with Z-Ice Beam as an option to blast thru Gardevoir or Dragonite with its Multiscale. The main draw was the move Endeavor, which might sound weird for a Pokemon with High HP like Kyurem, but I get to about 50% of my HP total, Endeavor would deal up to 75% to no special bulk Eviolite Chansey, thus allowing me to nuke it with Z Ice Beam.  Entei was a similar set with Howl to attempt to setup its Attack stat enough where Sacred Fire and E-Speed can pick off most of his team. The last mons I selected were Assault Vest Metagross, Defensive Zapdos, and Poison Point Nidoqueen with Stealth Rocks...which I did ran to 1) not let Gardevoir trace Sheer Force, and 2) poison stuff. 

In terms of the battle, it really came down to who was best prepared, and judging by Ryan's play and even sets midway, I can already tell he used the same team and sets as last week. The momentum of the battle when to my favor the moment Gardevoir went down to a Z-Ice Beam as Kyurem was able to deal with a huge threat. Nidoqueen deserves some mention here as it was able to deal with the rather annoying Infernape. From there Zapdos, Nidoqueen, and eventually Entei manage to pick apart the team slowly but surely. There was a brief scare when Zapdos was almost knocked out by the Golisopod, who I recognized as a Choice Band set. The endgame was basically Entei setting up a Substitute and using Sacred Fire to beat the Golisopod and the Chansey having both been severely weaken. Overall 4-0 win in the Nidokings favor.

Likewise I didn't went to in-depth here since Ryan was too busy with irl stuff mostly school and work so he didn't prep or play as well as he told. Do think there was some good play from Ryan via using Shadow Ball on the predicted Metagross and the Choice Band Liquidation on Zapdos which narrowly got the kill. If Ryan had time to prepare for the following battles, think he might have made a good run in dealing Zapdos or Entei which both had good matchups, In the end, I won't harp my opponent down since the match shouldn't be taken seriously after all.



Conclusion

Hope everyone enjoyed the read and most importantly the battles! Next time I'll discuss the upcoming free agency transactions for the team along with the next three battles for the NBA with the new squad. As mentioned some of these games were interesting to say the least and we still managed to get a decent 2-1 record start despite the setbacks in week 1. As the Nidokings progress into the season, we'll continue to discuss the upcoming matchups and battles that will likely make or break our season.