Saturday, May 21, 2016

CIL League (Draft Analysis, League Rules, Thoughts and More!)

(Krookodile is the Mascot...and for good reasons.)

Overview: The CIL League

During the second to last week of March, I came to the conclusion getting practice in another Draft-style leagues is beneficial for future successes in the format and try out new teams. Honestly went back and forth on this for a couple days until seeing a notice from the Casualness Intensifies League where they asked for new potential members to join via doing a survey. What changed my opinion about joining the CIL league was every "week" (maybe I'll refer to it as rounds)  were 2 full weeks and all the battle are on Showdown. Eventually the survey was done a couple days before the due date, however I had the impressions there was a good chance I wasn't going to be one of the new people picked for this season. Beforehand, I even told Mudkiplegend, the manager of the PFA about this and he joined for the same reasons to improve in draft league. 

 Later on the week, best case scenario happens we realized that both of us got accepted and learn the draft will be within a couple of days. The CIL draft was basically a snake-style format, however anyone can any tier and there was no limit to however amount of potential OU/RU/UU/NU mons in each team. What made  this draft a bit more interesting was it was an all-week draft given not everyone can draft on the a particular time.  On a final note, I found out our team had wheelbarrow picks so with the added time I could think of potential cores to draft for my team. 

Now here's a summary of the draft overall:

(Lots of Snipes... and yes I sniped this Gif from Kanto Cast Blue)

Ok honestly the way I see it, certain Pokemon like Manaphy or Victini weren't going to be pick late give most people have seen it in used by popular Youtubers before or notice a rise in any Pokemon viability in draft or Smogon. Again this was a long draft so everyone including myself included had sufficient time to chose any Pokemon to fit  for their team best. Afterward, nobody seemed too upset about their teams, rather everyone was curious how they work'd out in the upcoming weeks ahead. As for the LA Nidokings, well I feel really confident about this draft in particular given how much versatility I see in every Pokemon. Without any further delay, here's the LA Nidokings rooster for the CIL League.


With the LA Nidokings getting the back-to-back picks for every turn until the very last pick, I knew this was a good opportunity to draft around potential cores I was familiar with going into this draft. Again I'd already expected to get some of my "pre-draft idea" picks chosen ahead given how I have to wait like a certain amount of turns. For the first two picks, I knew immediately I wanted 2 OU Pokemon that had versatility and can be reliable in every match I bring when needed.  By the time it was my turn, I still struggled in my head which Pokemon was better to draft, however one thing was extremely obvious. For any good draft team, they need Defog support that can ensure hazards aren't an issue in each game. 

Latias was the first Pokemon selected for the LA Nidokings mainly for said reason above while being a overall great utility with offensive support. For sure, everyone mostly picks her brother, Latios or the improved Mega Latias (which I was close to picking) in competititve battles, but the female Eon Dragon stuck out to me more than any other Pokemon in the draft. Aside from Defog support, Latias can serve as a special wall, a CM sweeper, a suicide Duel Screens with Healing Wish, a Scarf user, and defensive pivot, etc. Again the only reason why Latias was selected over her Mega option because I didn't want to have my main mega be a Defogger or reduced to potential defensive roles.    Not many people know this, but Latias as has a vast movepool aside from STAB moves (Draco Meteor, Psychic/Psyshock) with attacks like Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Earthquake, Energy Ball, Grass Knot, Surf, Calm Mind, Shadow Ball, Stored Power, etc. The range of support Latias gets is great with moves like Thunder Wave, Charm, Icy Wind, Magic Coat, Psycho Shift, Reflect Type, Tailwind, Wish, and of course both Defog and Healing Wish. On that last note, I think Healing Wish is fantastic in league format as it can allow a weaken Pokemon new life in the late game after they have already soften up the team. Latias can sacrifice herself in such a scenario to fully recover the teammate without any harmful status. Course this is a late game decision I have to make if Latias is truly expendable, otherwise chances are she won't be such roles as often than not. Honestly could have went with Mega Latias, however I felt having one Defog user as the primary Mega Evolution was a wasted slot especially if its the only one with hazard control. Latias can still hold any other held item it chooses each week for any particular situations she finds herself in. Guess this is what I meant by reliable right?

Like I'd said earlier, the first picks were going to be reliable Pokemon, which one of them had to be a great Mega Evolution to use throughout the season. There were a couple of Megas in mind (especially the ones that I didn't expect to go early), however one stuck out to the team more: Mega Charizard X. Now before anyone screams at me for saying Charizard X is weak in league play since every opponent will bring Stealth Rocks...well no shit. Like seriously... I expect that from my opponents to have or attempt to maintain Stealth Rocks on the field on a daily basis so that won't change. There's a couple things I'll add regarding Charizard X since I personally believe this Mega Evolution is one of the best in Singles and even in Draft-style play. To start off, Charizard X is one of the fiercest wallbreakers in the OU tier without question thanks to having a base 130 Attack, Tough Claws, powerful STABs, and the potential make a sufficient wall if needed.  What made me chose this Mega Evolution in the first place was how versatile it can be with the sets as well as maintaining offensive pressure. Everyone is familiar with the standard Dragon Dance variants with Flare Blitz, Dragon Claw, Earthquake, and Roost. Charizard can also setup with Sword Dance to ensure it can wall-break, Tailwind to outspeed any potential scarfers, and even Belly Drum which... might win me the game if my opponent can't revenge kill it. Funny enough, Charizard X still has a great physical movepool with attacks like Thunder Punch for Electric-types, Brick Break for Rock-types, Iron Tail for bulky Fairy-types, and even Quick Attack for priority. Even a defensive Charizard X with Will-O-Wisp can stop most physical attackers in their tracks as it attacks with STAB options or even setup for a sweep. Finally I like point out Charizard X has a usable base 130 Special Attack as well so I won't remove any mixed variants out of the question. Overall, Charizard X is a powerful Mega Evolution that can both close out games, and/or soften the opposing team to the point where other teammates can clean up. 

The third Pokemon on this list is actually my fourth round pickup, however since I both back-to-back selections, might as well explain my thought process for this one first. The LA Nidokings had 2 extremely powerful Dragon-type Pokemon and already I can see the potential for random Dragon-types or Ice-types taking about this team. Automatically I knew the team was in need of a potential revenge killer that can act as a scarecrow of sorts while being relatively fast. Then I noticed something, Weavile wasn't selected at all. If I select Weavile, this can remove a potential bad matchup against Latias/Charizard X while serve as an excellent revenge killer. Weavile is an dangerous Pokemon to face in the OU environment and league format its no different with STAB options like Knock Off, Icicle Crash, Ice Shard, Pursuit, Ice Punch, and a ton of other coverage. I'll leave the rest up to you since everyone know how strong Weavile is as a revenge killer. 

The fourth main Pokemon for the LA Nidokings was a Water-type I'd wanted to test out in awhile especially in Draft-style format: Suicune. At the time, I felt Suicune paired extremely well as the primary bulky Water-type given its synergy support from the past three members to beat/check Grass/Electric-type Pokemon. Obviously the most commonly used set for Suicune is the infamous CM Rest Talk with Scald give it is an excellent end game Pokemon to abuse in this format. Suicune also gave the team a vital Water-type Pokemon and an impressive wall with its base 100/115/115 defenses to tank any hits aside from powerful Grass/Electric attacks. Probably the best part about Suicune on this team is it can help against potential setup sweepers with Roar in case I need an emergency phaze option.  There are some other interesting options Suicune can learn, however I'd probably leave it for the future match-ups to see how effective it can be. One thing is for I definitely want Suicune to be engaged with the match ups and round I intend to bring it. 

The fifth selection for the LA Nidokings was honestly a Pokemon I personally don't have too much experience with, except it being the best offensive pivot switch Pokemon in the game: the pure Flying-type Tornadus-T. At first, Tornadus-T wasn't on my radar until I found out the CIL Draft wasn't tier based so Tornadus-T was free to be chosen if I where to chose it. What intrigued me about using Tornadus-T was pairing it with potential defensive wall cores I can draft in the later stages of the draft and especially with Latias and Suicune who both appreciate having a special pivot to absorb hits. What "makes" Tornadus-T such a threat is the Regenerator as it can always  recover about a third of its HP and a fast U-Turn to abuse this ability. The most notable Tornadus-T set is the Assault Vest to tank special hits to better while being a decent special attacker.  I'd like to point out is Tornadus-T gives Weavile a bit of breathing room by a being another base 120+ speed Pokemon that can outspeed most things in the format and give my team a strong fast mode. In short, I expect Tornadus-T to be a great addition to the team as a great momentum switch Pokemon who can replenish health, take pressure away from my walls, while be a great offensive response for opposing teams. 

For the sixth pick, the infamous Ghost/Steel-type who won GBA S4, Doublade was chosen primarily for a couple decisions aside fulfilling my primary Ghost slot, or aka the Spinblocker. In my opinion, Eviolite Doublade is on par with a couple other Eviolite Pokemon like Chansey or Porygon2 as the best defensive NFE Pokemon with the potential to wall teams or setup in front of their faces. Ghost/Steel-typing alone is the second-best defensive typing in the game and Doublade can use is astronomically boosted defense stats (from 59 HP / 150 Def / 49 SpDef) paired with a base 110 Attack, and the potential setup sweep with Sword Dance - Shadow Sneak combo. What made Douablade "click" for my team was I needed a response for both Fairy-type Pokemon who threaten Latias, Weavile, and Charizard X for a bit, a decent spinblocker who can block Rapid Spin (potentially 1v1 them) and break down defensive cores if given the chance. What holds Doublade back is the reliance of the Eviolite item, however even Doublade can take a Knock Off from and Non-STAB Pokemon plus we got the best Knock Off user in the game in Weavile on the same team, so Doublade won't worry too much about this. Doublade has the potential to be a great assets for the LA Nidokings whether it is being a great offensive wall breaker or a semi decent defensive wall thanks to its unique traits. 

For the seventh pick of the CIL Draft, the team needed another wall breaker of sorts that can synergize well with our Charizard X and Suicune pickups. There were still some notable Pokemon to get on the team, however, I eventually settled with the team mascot himself, Nidoking! Ok what made Nidoking a potentially viable member of the our team was a number of assets like the wide array of physical / special moves, Sheer Force to boost literally its entire movepool, unpredictability in potential movesets, and finally access to both Toxic Spikes and Stealth Rocks. Nidoking also takes away from of the pressure from Electric-type, Grass-type, and Fairy-type Pokemon who don't want to face this monster in a 1 v 1 scenario. Even from personal experience, I still have problems figuring out if certain Pokemon are safe against Nidoking or not since it might pack Ice Beam for Dragons, Super Power for Normal-types, Poison Jab for defense-weak Fairy types, etc. The coverage this Pokemon gets alone will make Nidoking a difficult Pokemon to switch into which can ultimately result in a kill for Nidoking. 

In every draft I've ever done, I've always made it sorta a priority to get a rather decent Electric-type Pokemon who can form a part of a U-Turn or Volt Switch core for my team. By this time, most of the viably good Electric-types were snagged on both the OU/UU tiers with people already scrambling to get the other lower-tiered ones. When someone thinks of a generic Electric-type, surely Eelektross, the eighth member of the team, doesn't come to mind. While moderately bulky, Eelektross sports a passable 115/105 offensive stats with a low base speed of 50, not what most Electric-type Pokemon are thought of. What makes Eelektross standout from the remaining Pokemon was the fact it has no weakness with Levitate (aside Mold Breaker EQ I get it),  a rather suprising vast movepool with immense coverage/utility options, and finally the "slow pivot" of the team. Regarding that last point, Eelektross has a low base 50 speed to abuse volt-turning either on the switch or when my opponents already made their attacks to bring in a offensive Pokemon like Weavile or Nidoking safely. For sure the key of using Eelektross this season will be abusing the slow pivot switch options and taking full advantage of the plethora of sets this Electric-type can run.

By the ninth and tenth rounds of the draft, I was starting to become a bit concern about waiting a too long to get some defensive Pokemon that weren't selected primarily in the OU/UU tier and the lack of hazard options on my team. For the last picks, these Pokemon have to be essentially the glue to the teams that can pair well with my high tiered Pokemon. Now when I noticed that Chesnaught hadn't been drafted for this long, there was no reason to wait any longer. First off, the team needed a reliable Ground-, Dark-, and Rock-type switch in that can tank hits easily, recover off the damage, setup some hazards, and slowly wear down the opposing team with its bulk. Chesnaught sports an impressive 88 HP / 122 Def / 75 Sp.Def with access to Leech Seed, Drain Punch, Spikes, Taunt, and Synthesis to a it a formidable wall. Access to Spikes allows Chesnaught to pressure opposing teams as well as the combinations of Toxic Spikes from Nidoking and Stealth Rocks from it and my last couple picks to make a hazard stack team. Unlike most other Grass-type Pokemon, Chesnaught has a rather large physical movepool such as Hammer Arm, Drain Punch, Wood Hammer, Earthquake, Rock Slide, Payback, Super Fang, Poison Jab, Thunder Punch, Superpower, etc. Spikey Shield is Chesnaught's "unique move" that can punish physical attackers who make contact minus 1/8th of their health and an instant "better" protect. To end on this note, Chesnaught won't fail as a wall as I has the necessary components to make this Pokemon work with other team members for my team. 

Last Two Picks (...and they're gone)

Alright I have to stop and give an rather important update or stop in the CIL Draft for the LA Nidokings. The last Pokemon...hence the title were dropped in replacement of 2 other Pokemon in higher tiers I felt fit the team better in the long term. Now this doesn't mean I'll stop with the LA Nidokings Draft Analysis now. Keep in mind I'll explain what was my thought process for drafting these Pokemon on my team at the time and later I'll give a brief explanation of the new recruits. Now onto the final section. By  the time I chose Chesnaught, I feared that potential Flying-type Pokemon would take advantage of my Chesnaught so a Rock-type Pokemon can to mind such as Rhydon (Rhyperior was drafted beforehand). Then I notice my team was still missing a Fairy-type Pokemon and it might be time to get another one from the seemingly thin pool. Sooo.....

So I got a rather odd Pokemon or Mythical legend for this team, regular Diance. Unlike its highly used Mega Evolution counterpart, regular Diancie has a low base HP stat / speed stats, mediocre 100s offenses, incredibly high 150s defenses with access to strong STABs like Moonblast / Diamond Storm. As stated above, Diancie fulfilled most of the requirements I've mentioned about and has some decent tricks up its sleeves like Heal Bell, Gravity, Trick Room, Endeavor, and even Explosion. Honestly this was my least liked member of the team since by the time the draft ended, I'd realized the team was in need of another Defog and a reliable Stealth Rocks user (I'll explain later on.) In the end, Diancie was going to be traded for a free agent Pokemon that wasn't picked.

The last Pokemon of the CIL Draft was a Pokemon I personally felt was likely going to stay on the team than Diancie. There were a couple of Pokemon that were on my radar such as Lucario, Metagross, Rhydon, Empoleon, and Diggersby.  After a last review of the team, I realized there the team still needed another Stealth Rock user, and the walls weren't going to be enough in the long term. Finally, Uxie was chosen as the last major member of the team since it gave me another Ground-type immunity, strong utility options, a potent CM user, and the a mixed wall of any choosing. Out of all the Pokemon on the team, Uxie was the only Pokemon I had used from PFA Season 1 and 2 now likely this part of the CIL season...or so I thought. After the draft, I kinda doubted whether Uxie would stay on the team given the potential to grab another higher tier Pokemon instead of Uxie. While Uxie makes for a great budget or low tier wall, it certainly a Pokemon that can get exploited as setup fodder. Of cours,e this Psychic-type has a ton of utility options, the lack of reliable recovery is what ultimately made me chose another Pokemon. 

The First Two Free Agents

Empoleon is the first Pokemon that I chose as my free agent in replace of Diancie. Yes getting another Water-type is questionable at best, the fact I have two Dragon-types, a Ground-type, an Electric-type, and two-other Grass type Pokemon made me worry less about the Electric weaknesses compounding. Now after looking at the board, Empoleon was one of the last viable Defog users on the team while still setup Stealth Rocks for my team. This Water/Steel-type starter sports 10 resistances and 1 immunity including against the Dragon-, Ice-, Flying-, Steel, and Fairy-types which Chesnaught might need help in. Sporting a base 111 Special Attack, Empoleon has one of the strongest Scalds among Water-type Pokemon especially when considering the potential Torrent boost. Empoleon has a rather strong movepool for a Stealth Rock setter and a special wall with access to Flash Cannon, Ice Beam, Grass Knot, and etc. Even its physical movepool is large with both Sword Dance and Defiant to maybe even get a surprise sweep. If anyone compares or thinks of other reasons why I'd drop Diancie for Empoleon, for starters its a better Stealth Rock user that alleviates pressure from using Defog from my own Latias. By the time the CIL Draft ended, I realized the team only had only reliable way to remove hazards in Latias and having another reliable wall / rocker can be advantageous to keep hazards off from my field, while maintain my own rocks even. In my opinion, Empoleon won't be a detriment to the team because of these features and will be integral to my success. 

This latest free agent pick was rather a shock for me even, as Celebi was a Pokemon I'd originally considered on my team like Empoleon. Celebi was originally picked up by MarvoTrainer of the Poison Stings, though with his own reasoning, decided to drop Celebi and 4 other Pokemon from his team. Since no one else but myself claimed Celebi beforehand as a free agent, I knew if I didn't this Pokemon will likely be on another team to support. Honestly, Celebi was a Pokemon which I didn't sport any form of experience with, however there were several notable things this Pokemon has over Uxie. First off, Celebi's base stat total is around 100 all across the board, meaning it can be almost anything it wants either a special/physical sweeper, cleric, Baton Pass user, defensive pivot, scarfer, CM user, etc just like say Manaphy, Jirachi, or Victini. To add to what this Pokemon can do, Celebi makes for a efficient wall with access to Giga Drain, Stealth Rocks, Recover, Leech Seed, Baton Pass/U-Turn, and much more to stop any potential threats for the team. What set Celebi apart from Uxie was the fact it has self recovery options as listed, and the powerful Baton Pass capabilities to give to my team like Nasty Plot, Calm Mind, and even Sword Dance. Almost any one of my Pokemon on the LA Nidokings team could appreciate a quick Baton Pass from Celebi during the mid-to-late game once all the necessary threats are dealt with. There are so many options I can think of for Celebi, however I feel like I'd rather have everyone see who this pixie will perform on my hands. 

First Impressions

To be honest, this is going to be one interesting team to pilot given the rather unique amount of high OU/UU Pokemon we got from the wheelbarrow picks. There were other Pokemon I'd love to use or even get as my first or second round selections, but both Latias and Charizard X is a good Dragon-type core to begin with.  Getting both Weavile and Tornadus-T rather later in the rounds was a bit perplexing since usually people would get either or by the 1st / 2nd rounds. Weavile is a Pokemon I didn't want to deal with at all since it can easily beat my Dragons while I have another Pokemon who can revenge kill opposing Dragon-type Pokemon. My defensive cores consisting of Latias, Tornadus-T, Suicune, Chesnaught, Empoleon, Chesnaught, and Celebi seems like a great choices to build on. If there's one thing people have noted about my draft, the weakness to Ice is rather common, though I might only worry about Non-STAB Ice-Type attacks considering most of the LA Nidokings do have a good amount of bulk to take one. Ground-type and STABs are also rather concerning for the team given it four of the eleven Pokemon for super effective damage, however the combination of Chesnaught, Suicune, Celebi, Latias, and other Ground immune I have are likely responses. 

The only thing which to me doesn't "break" this team is the lack of a good Fairy-type Pokemon or response to them since some of my most offensive members of the team are checked by them easily. Of course Doublade, Empoleon, and other members of my wall cores can take them on, most of the Fairy-types typically carry coverage options for these incoming threats. Finally, this team would be so must stronger if it was able to complete the infamous Steel-Dragon-Fairy core, though I think our bulk will be capbale to compensate. If there are any Pokemon I'd love to have drafted, it was definitely Manaphy, Victini, or Mega Altaria since those mons I've used at some point in the PFA League I've been working on as well (there will be a future post regarding the PFA S3 Draft).

Overall, this draft is quite both offensive and rather balance at the same time to which I can tailor the team for any specific threats for every team and upcoming rounds. One point I wanted to make out is aside from doing VGC for the past year semi-casually (from taking a break from Smogon), I never did any other major Singles battles until I joined the PFA league and now this one. These are Pokemon used prior to the my eventual intrigue for VGC like Charizard X, Latias, Suicune Weavile, etc. Other selections like Tornadus-T and Celebi are rather new faces to utilize given there recognizable traits in the OU tier.  

Major CIL Rules

Not going to give my own thoughts any opinions, since most of the rules are reasonable enough and makes sense given everyone in this league has other obligations, whether its for work, school/college/uni, personal lives/issues, problems, etc. Again with all the battles going to be on showdown instead of the cartridges, I can at least prep a team with worrying about genning it (yes I admit this feature has to be done to use League Format). At least this gives me less issues getting the team legal, checked, and ready when anyone can just go on Showdown and do the battle there. I've already made my first two transactions for the team which I don't have any sorta remorse whatsoever about since both Empoleon and Celebi are amazing Pokemon in such a format. If I am going to make any sorta "free agency" post in the future to discuss the potential last three, then maybe I will at one point. 

Full LA Nidokings Schedule 

  • Week 1: vs Blazikens / Mighty Mamoswine 
  • Week 2: vs Pinsirs / Sanyer1124
  • Week 3 vs Net Balls / MadMikeNebbia
  • Week 4 vs Whirlwinds / TheFlyingFiona
  • Week 5 vs Gengar Knights / Satoshi_Red_Ash
  • Week 6 vs Poison Sting / MarvoTrainer
  • Week 7 vs Wynauts / KantoCast
  • Week 8 vs Kinglers / KevinVGC
  • Week 9 vs Bisharps / GatorJonah
  • Week 10 vs Aqua Jets / Hank the Pidgey

Closing Remarks

If there's any main takeaways from this, note I wanted to join this league to enjoy the game I play with other people who share the same interest. Having to do two league at the same time (and manage one) might sound a bit stressful, but this is definitely manageable with the dedication and time. Obviously the LA Nidokings are going to do their very best to reach that championship goal as a expansion team, but I believe its possible. Regardless of our placements, I do know the Nidokings will take aim surely make a mark on the league. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Los Angeles Nidokings / PFA Season 2 Final Reflections

(Time certainly flies by...)

Its been a while since I discuss my thoughts about Season 2 since the Finals concluded about 3 months ago and the LA Nidokings are now deep into Season 3 of the PFA. Consider this sorta a late post since I originally intended on having a draft analysis of my Season 3 team sometime during March... however life happens and being the second-in-charge of a 16-person draft league is still much responsibility to take up.  For now, this post isn't going to go on about the operations of PFA (that's another topic to discuss later next month), however it does take up my "free time" to post any blog posts here (also hence why I sorta "quit" VGC for a time). I'm going to try my best to recall my team for Season 2, though it will only be a summary post of how I felt about "winning" with the LA Nidokings Team, and my overall thoughts about Season 2.

Season 2 Final Team Review

(Slight Error: Scrafty played 2 games instead of 1 during the Playoffs)

Free Agency Drafts

Before I go on and discuss the overall view of Season 2, there's one important thing to discuss about: the PFA Free Agency Drafts. When I joined PFA for the 2nd Season, one of the newest (and probably the more controversial to some) addition  was a secondary draft-like system where people can switch 1 Pokemon from each of their tiers without any restrictions (same with trades). I know most of you all are thinking, most of the people here will attempt to "counter-pick" each other throughout the season to gain an edge. At the time, the person in charged feared the league would "collapse" like it did last season given there where some people who where dissatisfied with their own drafts. During the 1st Season of the PFA, there was a lack of retention since many people simply left the league either because many people were either upset with their records at the time, the teams they drafted themselves, or simply forgot about it.

As a result, a new rule was placed so anyone had the opportunity to change the around their team however they pleased. We wanted to make ourselves "different" from the other leagues since a good majority was based on either the GBA-, Smogon-, or Point-style system. Since there were only 12 players in the PFA at the start, most of the drafts were already "stacked" with a group of 12 mons per team with the option to virtually trade/drop their entire team if possible. Personally, I was never "for" or "against" this one feature since we wanted to differentiate ourselves within the PFA and from other leagues as well to reward everyone. Surprisingly, this actually made the league more competitive in the long term as the Free Agency Drafts did allow teams to test out certain Pokemon on their teams to see if they fit. At the same time, it kinda refrained certain players from actually leaving the league based on having a "poorly-drafted team" from dropping out and kept everyone pleased.  

So why do I bring this up, well again this all goes back to "how I won PFA Season 2". I admit most of my changes were to improve the matchups of my fellow coaches while at the same time retain some synergy and original members of the team. At one point, I had a half a team of legendaries using this, though I eventually drop most of them. No one really complained about it since on average most teams did make about like 6-7 transactions, though the Nidokings count was the largest with 12 changes.  There were some Pokemon that weren't included on the list like Garchomp (even had M-Garchomp at one point), Durant, Frogadier, Aromatisse, Gurdurr, and Virizion what where on the LA Nidokings team though only had one game played. In the end, no one complained about these changes, except when I suddenly got half my team with legendary mons from OU to PU so this also explains parts of the LA Nidokings transactions towards the end of the regular season.

Now we are heading into my favorite section of the article, the "championship team" of PFA Season 2". Throughout all season, the Nidokings were most definitely the favorite to win out the league given how much team-building and preparations we go into every battle. One important member I want to give a shoutout to is Rogue from the Pokemon Forever Forums and a Competitive Smash Player as I've consulted with him several times with certain Pokemon to bring or watch out for. Most of the movesets and EV spread were done by myself since while I felt a little assistance isn't too bad, I still need to get the best possible potential from my squad in each battle. 

The Best Free Agents?

If there were any "free agents" I personally believe was the best by far, it is certainly the Psychic-/Steel-type pixie Jirachi  (and the first Free Agent pickup from all of them). Aside from the potential Serene Grace "hax", Jirachi was by far the most "diverse" Pokemon on the team given its base 100 stats all across the board allows it to be a physical/mixed/special attacker, almost any wall, a cleric, a setup mon, a scarfer, etc. The coverage on Jirachi alone is almost insane alone and added the potential of Serene Grace means Jirachi will far likely tip the battle to my favor. My personal favorite set I ran with Jirachi most of the time was Substitute with a physical attack or Sub - CM two attacks based on whatever Jirachi was going to face off depending on the team matchup. Towards the end of the season, I finally settled with a specially defensive one with a physical coverage, so yes things did get Iron Head flinched, though not at the rate I originally thought. Though Jirachi wasn't brought to the finals mainly for matchup purposes, it was definitively the secondary glue to the Season 2 team and without Jirachi, I think we wouldn't have won this championship or maintain a perfect record. 

Druddigon was the second FA pickup of the LA Nidokings after dropping Garchomp for Jirachi. The reasons Druddigon was selected as the our primary free agent was how utility-based this Pokemon can be as well as to fill in my Dragon-type slot I'd would not have. In all the five battles  Druddigon was brought, it did work...period. Druddigon was able to maintain offensive pressure thanks to its main utility options like Sucker Punch / Pursuit, Dragon Tail, Stealth Rocks, and my favorite move of all, Glare. Druddigon did the most work in the PFA Finals thanks to the physically defensive set with Rocky Helmet / Rough Skin + Glare to punish most of my opponent's offensive Pokemon with residual damage or even paralysis. This Pokemon isn't a slouch on the physical end either as it broke down arguably the bulkiest team by itself with repeated Dragon Tails. In all, Druddigon was an absolute great member of this team and I'm glad to get it extremely early. 
slight story ahead

The last and arguably the most controversial free agency pickup of Season 2 was Mega Latias instead of the regular Latias when that one was available. Honestly, I shouldn't have gotten this Pokemon towards the end of regular Season 2 schedule- heck even during the initial draft this Pokemon was on my radar. Before playoffs was about to start,  we voted to have one last FA, however it would be drop one - add only one for your team. Earlier before, I had dropped Mega Manetric because I felt it lacked a bit of offensive pressure and most of the teams by week 9 already developed or obtain Pokemon that can beat my main Mega Evolution all season. In response, I actually drafted Mega Garchomp since I wanted a powerful Ground-type Pokemon that can wall break teams, while with a decent amount of bulky. Honestly this was a poor choice given 1) regular Garchomp is better 2) the potential to hold items, and 3) I needed to have a Mega Evolution on my team. Funny enough, Latias was still available for the last one-pick up Free Agency and it suddenly fell to my team... even though I did thought of adding it Week 9. 

While Latias didn't do as much work in playoffs, it certainly was a fantastic wall to switch into every time, especially with the base 80/120/150 overall defensive with Levitate. Access to STABs, Bolt-Beam, Defog, reliable recovery, Calm Mind, and a bunch of other stuff made Mega Latias one of the more offensive Pokemon on this team that can actually make a good pivot/wall. Had I chosen Mega Latias back in Week 9, this team would certainly been more threatening to some teams to respond to, though everyone did prep for it extremely well. Sadly, Lati didn't have enough screen time aside from the finals since using it proved her Mega Evolution can be a definitive first round / Free Agency pickup. If I do manage to make it in another league, we might see the return of Maki the Mega Latias soon.

The "Honorable Members" Pickups

Most of these three Pokemon where there to "fill in the void" in terms or covering weaknesses, typing, and gathering useful abilities they might have. To start off this group, Scrafty was the only traded Pokemon I got all season since most of the Pokemon were FA pickups at the time in exchange for my Virizion. Though Scrafty never got as much screen time as say the others on this team, it certainly was a huge reason why we won the first round by spamming Knock Off and Super Fang almost all the time. The combination of these two attacks, Intimidate, and an Assault Vest made Scrafty a defensive pivot that assured me a couple matches especially in the early game. I thought about bringing Scrafty in the 2nd round Semi Finals, however I knew it served its purpose as a decent pickup as a defensive pivot of sorts. Electivire was added to fill the void Mega Manetric once had prior to its "departure" of being the Electric-type Pokemon, though since it was the end of the season, it never did as much work... aside fainting a Ditto imposter of Manaphy....and literally deciding playoff positions. 

Then we get to Miltank, partially the the key member why the Nidokings won the title. Remember when I said earlier about looking for useful abilities? Well look no forward to Miltank with access to three good ones in Scrappy, Sap Sipper, and most of all, Thick Fat. If anyone has any weaknesses to Ice/Fire/Grass-type Pokemon, need a good Stealth Rocker, a decent wall, and even a setup mon, look no further than the great cow that murdered many gen 2 kids back  in the day. On a serious note, Miltank really was a Pokemon I wanted on the team, however got sniped during the first round. Only in Week 9 someone decided to drop Miltank and immediately I knew there was no reason not to pick this wall up. Access to Milk Drink, Curse, EQ, Elemental Punches, Body Slam, T-Wave, Stealth Rocks, etc as well as a decent defensive stats and speed for Miltank to be a great "low-value" pickup. 

Funny enough, I never used Miltank until the PFA Best of 3 Finals... and man that was the last minute best decision I'd made period. In game 2, this Normal-type Pokemon came in clutch as our specially defensive variant with Curse, Body Slam, Milk Drink, Ice Punch and Thick Fat ability tore huge hole against the Indianapolis Jolts and probably did the main wall-breaking enough so Bloo swept in the end. 

The Playmakers

These are the Pokemon who where part of my rather instrumental pasts of my "unusual" wall cores through the Nidoking's initial run. Starting off this list with arguable the "least yet effective" Pokemon of this group was Regirock. To be completely clear with everyone, Regirock was drafted because of my uncertainly from the physical defense side since aside from my Intimidate Core (M-Manetric before, Scrafty, Arcanine), Uxie, Druddigon, and my two Pixies (Manaphy/Jirachi), nothing on my team had the stellar defense as Regirock. When I did bring Regirock, it was to check probably the most physically offensive Pokemon in the format like Victini, Weavile, and M-Pinsir since most of those Pokemon can break holes on my team if used well. Regirock has an astronomical overall defense stats of 80/200/100 so this thing can be used even as a special wall which I did invest on occasions. Access to moves like Thunder Wave, Stealth Rocks, Drain Punch, EQ, Stone Edge, Explosion and even Counter were the reasons why I never dropped Regirock in the first place. Of course Regirock was brought in 2 battles of the total 15, however it served its purpose to wall out the heavy offensive that could break the team. 

Uxie was by far the most used "wall" on this team given the amount of utility options and moves it has access to such as Thunder Wave, Stealth Rocks, Foul Play, Knock Off, U-Turn, Duel Screens, Memento, etc. Even on the offensive side, Uxie has the potential to setup Calm Minds just like Cresselia and has a faster speed stat to achieve its utility goals for the team for the long-term. In the first battle, I almost thought Uxie was the most useless Pokemon on the team with the freeze almost immediately though after two battles, I gave it another chance. Though week 4 Uxie was still sorta death fodder, by week 5 and onward this Pokemon suddenly became probably the most important switch-in and utility-momentum switch Pokemon on the team. If I need Rocks, Uxie can get them up quick thanks to its 95 base speed. If there's an annoying fast Pokemon, well Thunder Wave solves that issue. Can I predict a switch and get momentum, well Uxie can surprisingly get off slow U-Turns to get the proper switch in. Uxie was an all-around great utility wall that served me well even in the final stages of PFA. If anyone ever considers drafting a bulky wall that isn't setup fodder IMO, while carrying out the team's main duties, give Uxie a try for sure.

Now we get into the Pokemon that's "defined" the PFA Season 3 Metagame itself thanks to its performance in Season 2 and the Finals: the wonderful Roserade. Whenever we think of the "bulky" Grass-type Pokemon, we'd think of things like Mega Venusaur, Tangrowth, Amoonguss, Chesnaught, Ferrothorn, etc. When Roserade is placed in the mixed, well it sorta sticks out like a soar thumb since its not as defensive as the others. Heck for a time, I did happen to drop Roserade on my team in favor of Nidoqueen, then decided to bring back Roserade. Let me explain why this decision was made given Nidoqueen as a great Pokemon in of itself. Roserade provided the team access to both layers of Spikes and Toxic Spikes, which both were useful whenever it was brought to battle. Roserade is a great check to both Water-types and Fairy-type Pokemon that my team didn't appreciate at  the time and can serve as an offensive Pokemon with Giga Drain/Leaf Storm, Sludge Bomb/Venoshock, Shadow Ball, Dazzling Gleam, and Technician Hidden Power. There are other utility moves Roserade had, but never got to show off such as the yellow magic spore, green magic spores, Aromatherapy, Leech Seed, etc. Never got to use Sleep Powder/Stun Spore since honestly...the 75% accuracy can make/break a game especially if league matches are best of 1 oriented. 

To this day, sometimes I debate who was the "true" MVP of the PFA Season 2 Finals, though everyone who's seen the battles told me Toxic Spikes from Roserade essentially won those battles, and I might not agree entirely since it was a team effort, though Roserade did play a role. To explain my reasoning for T-Spikes for that match, three of Mudkip's main methods of hazard control where either Sandslash, Shitry, and Starmie, both of whom cannot  switch into Roserade at all thanks to its STAB options. On top of that, there was no Poison-type Pokemon that can remove the Toxic Spikes without having Blissey, Mega Altaria, or his main hazard control waste a turn to clear the hazards or heal his team with Heal Bell/Aromatherapy. Roserade was also my team's "only" check to Mega Altaria which was a huge gamble on my side since Jirachi was also a great check as well with the potential T-Wave and steel coverage. Throughout the matchup, I was concern about Alec's "offensive core" of Jolteon, Darmanitan, and Sharpedo (who almost won him the battle) and expected all three to make an appearance. Toxic Spikes was one of the methods my team had to wither down these frail Pokemon to the point where anyone else can revenge kill. This as well gave Alec a short timer to initial his offense and break through Roserade, Rocky Helmet/Rough Skin Druddigon, and bulky Mega Latias.  

The reason I'd mention Roserade pretty much defined the Season 3 PFA since now everyone has hazard control options, Poison-type Pokemon, or even Toxic Spikes of their own to win game. Roserade is still on my team for Season 3 and it hasn't made any real appearances, except 3 non-existent games where it played. Still Roserade back in Season 2 was a vital member of the team where it an apply offensive pressure while retain its support value for the team.

The Heros

If there was a Pokemon I felt truly uncomfortable and very much odd for the team, it definitely was my main Fire-type Acanine.  Viewed as Entei's rather weaker cousin, Arcanine was a Pokemon I never got to use much in Singles, except mostly in VGC or Battle Sport Doubles where I'd ran many defensive sets. Going into the PFA S2 draft, Arcanine was the the only potential Fire-type Pokemon aside Entei, though once Entei left, Arcanine was our primary Fire-type pickup. Unlike Entei, Arcanine has a wide coverage options like Close Combat, Wild Charge, Crunch, etc and even more defensive support with Intimidate along with access to recovery in Morning Sun. Much of PFA S2, I'd only used defensive Arcanine since this was a great Pokemon to fall back to whenever I'd tried to face any physical attackers. Arcanine's claim to fame on this spot of the list was honestly the 6th and 7th battles when I faced both Alec and Zig respectively and it came in clutch. The defensive value Arcanine brought in both battles was immeasurable as it walled most of the major threats and fainted key Pokemon with its coveted Extreme Speed attacks. I think the only problem with Arcanine like most Fire-type Pokemon is the fact is suffer from 4MSS since there are battles where I want Will-o-Wisp, Extreme Speed, or some other coverage option. By the time of the PFA Finals, I'd chosen Arcanine to be the primary offensive clean up mon for my team with Choice Band Adamant set to ensure frailer stuff like Jolteon, Starmie, Darmanitan, and Sharpedo were picked off one by one with Extreme Speed. While Arcanine didn't have too much screen time  in the Finals, it definitely served its purposes as an defensive, and later on offensive threat for teams. 

Now time to showcase the "face" of the LA Nidokings of Season 2: Crobat. This mon best represent the style of play I love it use since Crobat has so much utility support to offer while being a great revenge killer. Throughout most of Season 2, Crobat served primary as a fast utility mon with offensive support moves like Super Fang to get weaken wall cores, U-turn for momentum, Defog to remove hazards, Tailwind to give my team speed, Toxic/Taunt to keep bulky Pokemon in check, and etc. Heck I even debated about running a special set Crobat for a time, however the utility support options Crobat supplied to my team alone vastly outperforms either a special set, or a Choice Band Set I'd toyed around with on the UU ladder. Crobat is one of those Pokemon where its probably going to be the most annoying Pokemon to fight on any given team just because of its utility support, and the potential to get revenge killed. At a base 130 speed, Crobat was the fastest Pokemon on the Nidoking's roster and was tailored to outspeed only the opponent's next fastest threat so it can have leftover EVs on any stats it needed. One final note, Crobat is not a slouch at killing stuff as well since it tied with Manaphy with 16 kills and was the runner-up for the MVP race. With access to a powerful Flying-STAB in Brave Bird, Crobat almost felt like having a Talonflame on this team, but with a wider support coverage. Heck Crobat even 6-0ed an entire team once everything was weaken enough which if funny enough to add. In all, Crobat served as the team's main utility supporter and the main revenge kill option if needed. Definitely Crobat is one of the best Pokemon to consider drafting in any format, though it takes experience to use it sufficiently

Now we get to the overall best Pokemon on the team: Manaphy. First off, I made it a goal of mine to never use Manaphy as an offensive Tail Glow set  given 2 reasons: 1) didn't want to eagerly sweep everyone in each battle since they'd probably prepare for this one and 2) to test out potential defensive sets on the Mythical legend to abuse both the overall base 100s across the board.  Manaphy the 1st overall pick for the Nidokings since it was essentially going to be the "glue" to the team, rather the main All-Star Pokemon. Obviously everyone knows what Manaphy is capable potentially sweeping teams after a Tail Glow boosts, though I felt the need to try out other sets, even give more HP or Defensive investment so it can maintain a sweep, or be an efficient wall.  Funny enough, Manaphy never "swept" any team until the PFA Finals Game 2 when it was used as  a sack at first, which eventually evolved into a sweep with some notable plays. Most of the time, Manaphy would be brought to revenge kill Pokemon only and get out of there in case there's a target with a potential Grass/Electric  coverage. Manaphy has clutched out battles before like when I ran a defensive Rain Dance Hydration Manaphy set to maintain my HP high against the opposing team.  Other sets I experimented where Calm Mind Substitute, U-Turn 3 attacks, and a set utilizing Heart Swap as a safety option in case my opponent where to setup too much.  

By playoffs, I'd decided to run the Tail Glow set almost as my standard set given how accustom people seen me used the defensive or non-Tail Glow sets. In the end, I guess this plan did work out and the Nidokings got the first main title due part of Manaphy's heroics. To be honest, at that point in the game, Miltank had removed Jolteon, paralyzes most of the fast threats, and weaken the team to the point where Manaphy won the game.  After the finals, Season 3 of PFA was about to start and I ultimately on franchising Manaphy since 1) I thought I never got enough "screen time" for arguably the best member and 2) there's honestly little to few flaws with such a Pokemon. There's a reason why many people regard Manaphy as the best Water-type Pokemon in league play, and to an extend Draft-style play since its can have utility for the team while still have the potential to sweep. Besides by the time we part ways with Bloo the Manaphy, I'd definitely be experience enough to deal with such a Pokemon. 

All PFA SEASON 2 TEAMS (Pastebins)

Here are all the teams I used for PFA Season 2 so everyone can see. Keep in mind most of the EV spreads are based on Level 50 and attacks around this area do more damage than usual. Anyone is free to view them as they please so I don't mind. 

  1. Week 1: Vs Unit
  2. Week 2: Vs Epic
  3. Week 3: Vs Reed
  4. Week 4: Vs Ben
  5. Week 5: Vs Travis
  6. Week 6: Vs Mudkiplegend (Alec)
  7. Week 7: Vs Zigzagger456
  8. Week 8: Vs ItalianG62 (Kyle)
  9. Week 9: Vs Mitchmaster24 (Mitch)
  10. Week 10: Vs ElMiguelVGC
  11. Week 11: Vs GingerxPug
  12. Round 1 Vs Unit  (Used: Manaphy, Jirachi, Scrafty, Crobat, M-Latias, Arcanine)
  13. Round 2 Vs ElMiguelVGC  (Used: Jirachi, Mega Latias, Crobat, Arcanine, Uxie, Roserade)
  14. Finals Bo3 Team Vs Alec (I've explain the finals team here)
  15. (Slight Unfortunate circumstances happen where I lost my Showdown teams, so I can't have my round 1 and round 2 teams 

Finals Thoughts and Reflections Regarding PFA Season 2

After going 11-0 in the regular season, and 4-0 in the playoffs to win it all undefeated, there's still far more information for me to learn and unexplored territory to take in regarding Draft-style league format. After all, this win doesn't mean much if we can translate this to success in other seasons of PFA and/or in any other Draft-style league since we need to maintain somewhat like battling efficiency of sorts. Of course, what I mean by "unexplored territory" I mean the fact that this "specific" way to play Pokemon has gain popularity as a result of the rebirth of the GBA and other popular leagues. In order to maintain this efficiency and a high success rate in wins (let's be honest games will come down to percentages/mind games),  I have to commit practice into other Smogon-based Tiers/VGC, ladder and understand how each Pokemon is used  . This doesn't necessary mean  laddering to the top of every tier (if I had time), but get to know the Pokemon better so if I where to draft a team, at the very least I know the potential of each Pokemon, their movesets, stats, abilites, and potential synergy cores to base on. 

One issue to keep in mind for any future drafts is to keep in mind how much "transactions" any team can make, or if any at all. Honestly the major reason I'd won PFA Season 2 was because certain members of the team whether they were used or not were changed to another Pokemon, which I may or may not have like at all. Fortunately in the PFA, there's an unlimited amount of transactions to make and Free Agency can basically "replenish" and team of Pokemon they feel was unnecessary. Speaking of the PFA Free Agency, I think the way we conducted this was fair to everyone since the worse-performing teams got the best available Pokemon while the best-performing teams settled with leftovers or the dropped Pokemon. The Nidokings made about 12 total changes to their roster, though after talking with some people about this from Season 2, most agreed this feature might need to be restricted or at least regulated. They weren't upset about the excessive changes since other teams took advantage of this as well.

 In other leagues, this isn't a luxury or a free get-out-of-jail free card at all. Having the potential to change almost an entire team by the end of the season can either make someone get a powerful draft, or get cluttered out with the potential lack of synergy. For sure, if there are going to be any team drafts in the future for the Los Angeles Nidokings to participate in, we have maintain synergy with each of the Pokemon, not only attempt to counteract or to some veterans "counter-pick" in the league format. I mean if any team isn't able to function with their offensive or defensive cores at all, then how the hell can they even compete to begin with? This all goes back to one thing I have to continuously work on in Competitive Pokemon in the future: Team Building.

Team Building for me has been something of a hit or miss for me. While the Nidokings have yet to experience this issue in direct fashion, I feel the lack of participation in most of the other Smogon-Tiers or leagues will eventually bite us in the ass (I'm being serious on this). Eventually one of these days, I'm going to battle someone with far more experience and adept-battling knowledge as a moderate like myself, though at least we'll give them a run for their money. Making my own EV spreads instead of using the recommended Smogon or VGC sets has in a way helped mitigate with at least some of my wins when it comes to tanking a hit. Adding even a slight EV Spread of 12 HP / 4 Def /4 Sp Def or a max defense set of 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD as helped win games where I honesty should have lost, both in the regular seasons of PFA 2/3 and in the playoffs. Definitely I'll continue to research how to make efficient EV spreads for my Pokemon whether they need them in specific battles, or even when laddering on Showdown/Battle Spot Doubles. 

Of course, we are not going to win all our games before, like we already lost to Mudkip in season 3, the same person we battled multiple times and in the Finals, in a intense 47-turn battle on the cartridge in a 0-1 loss. After reviewing the battle, I notice there where some key plays I could have made, but I think the biggest reason I'd definitely lost was bull running my prep fast as usual to have the battle down far earlier than usual. Of course I might not have had a good mind set going into the battle, but obviously as fuck I can't rush my battles again until there's I already the best possible team, or on a deadline day to fight. Reason this was brought up is same goes to any future battles, we cannot rush our preparation. Whether this takes 1 hour, or even 7 hours (ok maybe not on the laptop, rather ruminating thoughts and team ideas this on my head), there's no excuse for not doing this for any battles. Look I'm not taking this too seriously, just that for any future battles, we have to maintain a positive mindset even when identifying win conditions (opposites alike) and work my way to getting that victory.

Eventually we are going to come across something that will bite us like every Pokemon player: RNG. As much as people complain about the RNG element of the game, I've accepted this as rather part of the game we play. There will be games where a certain move either misses, 10% chances of status, an untimely crit can run a setup sweep / defensive wall cores, confusion, etc. As far as damage rolls are concern, I typically don't consider this too much as hax, rather its on me since I did of course give the Pokemon I'm using that specific attack investment or lack of item. Eventually we are going to lose a game because of this, though I feel like this will only come up often if there isn't too much preparation involved in the battle. Obviously practice needs to be in order on managing "hax" or RNG since these are critical moments in the game anyone has to respond towards and how well I do can dictate the battle. At the same time, I sorta have to "accept" attempting to win certain games off a certain RNG element like a crit, consecutive hax (paralysis/flinch), or something of that nature. Most of the league battles are best of 1 anyways so every battle has to be approached differently whether its from the team building, preparation, testing, participating on showdown, etc

 One a final note, I want to end off this reflection with a simple word of advice which seems rather bland: have fun and enjoy the games as best as possible. For the PFA Season 2, I didn't take it too seriously throughout the season and even in the finals since I was battling with people I've known online for the past almost year now. For no reason, I don't want to throw our time away and be a super competitive prick to everyone either in the PFA chat or even for any other formats. Of course I will remorse about certain RNG elements "initially" given as a simple human reaction to luck, but we move on by learning from our mistakes. No one likes hearing someone complain about the game as often since it bogs everyone down and creates this weird tension about "good-bad" players. That's what we wanted to avoid in PFA and certainly we have done a great job in doing so. 

For anyone who wants my personal advice on league format, just play the game, practice, prep, and just do your best.  Don't get too over confident,  make friends, live life, etc. If there's one thing to note is Draft-style play is definitely an interest and well-deserve format in Competitive Pokemon that needs attention to grow. I'll make sure this format is enjoyable for everyone who participates in the league or give my insight in the near future.

Closing Thoughts

Didn't realize this was going to be a rather huge blogpost regarding PFA Season 2 and a bit of my own thoughts regarding Draft-style format. Honestly could have split this all up into two segments, but I rather have this instead since I just thought of whatever that came to my head naturally since I do love playing Pokemon. For anyone whose gotten this far, thanks for keeping up with my thoughts about PFA S2 and other miscellaneous stuff I'd gave my opinions about. I will do this again for CIL and PFA S3 in the future, though it won't be as long or hopefully not as "deep" as I want it to be. I did say after all I wasn't taking this too seriously...right?