With two consecutive high-scoring victories, the Nidokings are looking to seek another win against one of the new expansion teams who have been off to a rough start: the Net Balls coached by MadMikeNebbia (or Mike). For this battle, I'd already prepared a team prior shortly after my match against Sanyer, but in a surprised twist, Mike made a series of transactions to which made me heavily reconsider heavy elements of my team. We'll get to the Nidoking preparations shortly, however I would like to announce our first transaction of the season. For the Los Angeles Nidokings, the Water/Steel-type Emopoleon has been selected from Free Agency to replace our Diancie to add a bit of special bulk, Defog support, and defensive synergy for our team. While I've already discuss why Empoleon was selected on our CIL Team Analysis, the main reason it was selected was because of the Defog/Stealth Rocks support it can provide and alleviate certain Pokemon on this team like Latias or Celebi/Nidoking. Even though Empoleon was the only selection we made recently, it was brought recently in the upcoming battle against the Net Balls.
Week 3 VS The Net Balls
The Net Balls: M-Gyarados, Mamoswine, Staraptor, Roserade, Alakazam, Lucario, Sceptile, Togetic, Electivire, Swampert, Magneton
Los Angeles Nidokings: Mega Charizard X, Latias, Weavile, Suicune, Tornadus-T, Doublade, Nidoking, Chesnaught, Eelektross, Empoleon ( new member ), and Uxie.
Looking at his team, the newest additions Mike had made were the Roserade, Lucario, Togetic, and Alakazam in replacement for Cobalion, Moltres, Hydreigon, and Breloom respectively before we matched up for the battle. To be honest, there were a couple threats like Breloom and Hydreigon who honestly were slightly difficult to prepare for given the good amount of effective sets they can run. However, we are going to discuss what the Net Balls had brought with this current team since some new Pokemon were threatening. The additions of the 3 of those new Pokemon (I never "considered" Togetic as a threat) as well as old team members like Mamoswine, M-Gyarados, and Staraptor made me chose not to run Charizard X. While in our team preparation phase, I felt 100% confident Mike would bring M-Gyarados, Staraptor, Mamoswine, and Alakazam since a combination of those four run through my wall cores. Mamoswine was another sore thumb in this match up as it could "snipe out" my team with super effective STAB Ice- and Ground- attacks, if played well. Staraptor and Alakazam are both powerful wall breakers and potential scarfers that had to be scouted for despite the team's lacking responses to the two. The only other Pokemon I saw possible brought to the matchup was Lucario (for priority) , Swampert (amazing check to Zard X), Roserade (good hazard stack mon) and one of his Electric-types (Tornadus-T check). Here's what the Nidoking's lineup look like after our second review / preparation.
For this week, the Los Angeles Nidokings brought the following six: Weavile, Latias, Tornadus-T, Doublade, Chesnaught, and our new recruit Empoleon. First off, Weavile returns after a rather "non-existent" game 2 (for reasons), with the moveset Knock Off, Ice Shard, Low Kick, and Beat Up. This Weavile set was meant to again break through the potential Sash / Colbur Berry Pokemon (I'm looking at you Alakazam), while spam Knock Off against his team since few Pokemon aside M-Gyarados, Togetic (will lose the Eviolite), and Lucario would take it easily. Yache Berry Defog (yes DEFOG) Latias with Psyshock/Grass Knot/Healing Wish was brought to this matchup since the team was in need of a "reliable" revenge killer for Mamoswine and Roserade since both can do decently well. Fast Defog was something I felt was more important than a slow Defog from Empoleon (also frees a moveslot), and Healing Wish to sack Lati for a free healthy switch for one of my damaged Pokemon. Tornadus-T participates in its last battle, with the offensive set of Air Slash, U-Turn, Superpower, and Grass Knot to again hit everything on Mike's team for good damage. All three of these Pokemon were considered primary win cons since all of them outspeed and hit the majority of Mike's team for heavy damage and can clean up weaken targets for the endgame.
The defensive core of the team consisted of Chesnaught, Empoleon, and our primary kill leader of the Nidokings, Doublade. Both Chesnaught and Empoleon shared on specific move to deal with the Mega Gyarados: Roar. I stressed all week on how to deal with a Sub - Dragon Dance M-Gyarados and the only reliable solution was to run Roar as a last ditch effort so Weavile/Latias/Tornadus-T can deal with it reliable. First lets talk about the primary answer to the physical offense from the Net Balls: Chesnaught and Doublade. Chesnaught's moveset was Drain Punch, Roar, Spiky Shield, and Earthquake sorta emphasize the need to scout for my opponent's team. Earthquake was a last minute move change since it was originally Spikes since I realized Magneton /Electivire could be a problem for the team assuming Mike brought it. For this week, Doublade played the role as our main physical defensive wall for Staraptor with max defense, eviolite, and a moveset consisting of Shadow Sneak, Iron Head, Sacred Sword, and Sword Dance. After doing some calculations, Doublade's new physical defense literally skyrockets to the point where Choice Band Adamant Reckless Brave Bird only does about 24% damage! Doublade was so heavily defensive and potent this battle, I had to exchange Charizard X's place in favor of Doublade since at the time, nothing on my team could beat the Sinnoh Bird reliably.
Lastly, our latest recruit for the team, Empoleon was a specially defensive holding the Shuca Berry with Scald, Roar, Stealth Rocks, and ...yes Aqua Jet. This Empoleon originally had Grass Knot as a way to deal heavy damage to M-Gyarados, Swampert, and even the Mamoswine, however I wanted to have a mediocre "revenge killer" for a weaken Mamo, Lucario, Staraptor, and Alakazam with Aqua Jet. Empoleon was going to be my defog user this week, but almost anything can outspeed and potentially OHKO the metal penguin I'd settled with Defog on Latias to clear hazards quickly while retain Empoleon as a wall, and maybe a sneaky revenge killer. With all that said, lets get into the battle...however I not going to do a play-by-play, rather my thoughts about during and after the battle, then some closing thoughts.
(Highly Recommend to Watch First, then Read)
To start off, this match up was honestly one of those battles my opponent well kinda made some weird plays, a little of RNG sprinkled around, and more importantly making some costly over-predictions almost costed me the battle. If there's any sorta RNG that mattered, the only was the special defense drop against my specially defensive Empoleon from an Alakazam. Fearing a potential Focus Blast, I had to switch out to my Tornadus-T, which then takes heavy damage from a Psychic, which I don't know if Mike predicted the switch out. Had that special defense drop never occurred, I firmly believe the outcome of the battle would be far different since Empoleon taken easily take on to setup rocks, or break the potential Focus Sash. Of course during the time of the battle the Nidokings were ahead after taking out a Roserade lead with Latias, but getting either Stealth Rocks or damage on Alakazam was important as well. Now let me explain perhaps the most important turn of the battle in Turn 7 as I switched Doublade out to Tornadus-T expecting either an EQ from Lucario or a switch...but Tornadus-T gets annihilated with an Iron Tail. At this point, in the battle I wanted to get as much switch initiative/momentum as possible to ensure my cleaners can easily win the battle since no Staraptor and M-Gyarados weren't there surprisingly enough, however not only do I lose Tornadus-T, Latias fails to OHKO with a Psyshock as she receives a critical Extreme Speed damage.
After Lucario dies to its own Life Orb, I just realized how much momentum and resources I'd lost from that exchange from the Fighting/Steel-type. In my head, I honestly felt Swampert was coming in on the switch for Lucario to tank a Sacred Sword from Doublade and wanted to prevent Stealth Rock on my side of the field. Instead, we lose one of our win cons, Doublade is chipped a bit, and Latias can no longer "revenge kill" Mamoswine. As Lucario died from LO, I setup to +2 in case Mamoswine or Togetic were brought in as both now look like strong opposition. Fortunately enough, Doublade gets a "lucky" break by doing half damage to a Swampert with a +2 Shadow Sneak via a critical hit of my own as it takes an EQ. As Doublade is switched out to Latias, Swampert also switches in place of Mamoswine and now I'm in a tough spot. Nothing on my team wants to take on Mamoswine from full as I felt the best way to beat it was to bait a Ice-move on an Empoleon switch (also serving as a sack), activate the Shuca Berry, and kill with Scald + Aqua Jet. The plan almost worked, except Empoleon gets hits by a Superpower instead to faint. Despite these small set back, thanks to the defense drops, and Life Orb hits, Weavile can come in.
Next couple of turns both Weavile and Latias beat both Mamoswine and Swampert respectively which now it seems like the battle is almost over...or not. Remember when I didn't prepare for Togetic at all? Well this comes to bite me in the ass. Togetic proves to be incredibly defensive as I cannot OHKO it with the proper attacks. Originally, my thought process was "Oh this thing has to carry Defog, some support options, and maybe Dazzling Gleam. No big deal". Seeing Seismic Toss, I became convinced it Togetic couldn't touch Doublade with anything, except when our Week 2 MVP dies to a Flamthrower. Now I'm actually legit worried and sorta "choke". Since Latias doesn't have Recover, Leftovers, or even something like Ice Beam or Thunder Bolt, I can't touch Togetic at all aside from Weavile. Then I sacked Chesnaught for no reasons. The only one I can think of getting into a decent position to win this battle was to "Roar" the Togetic into the Alakazam, have it kill Chesnaught, then "force" Mike to choice what to faint / cripple either Alakazam or Togetic with Knock Off from Weavile. At one point, I should have continued using Psyshock against the Togetic, but I wanted to avoid a scenario where if Ice Shard (my only Ice-type attack this week) doesn't kill that the Fairy can get either a Crit / Burn to seal the game for Mike. The game does in fact comes down to this scenario, to switch thankfully Weavile doesn't get burnt /crit and finishes the game for the Nidokings in a 1-0 close match.
This battle goes to show why sometimes its might be better off to go with the safe plays instead of making over predictions which can almost cost the battle. I'll definitely give Mike credit for giving the Nidokings surprisingly one of the hardest battles we've every fought to date with his plays. Not bringing both Mega Gyarados or Staraptor really confused me at first, but I realized the Nidokings had ways to deal with everything else except for the Togetic in the end. Originally, I wanted to have Ice Punch on Weavile for a stronger Ice STAB, but felt that Knock Off was going to be the better STAB option to spam. Would definitely have liked to have taken out the Focus Sash Alakazam via using Beat Up, however since Lucario was on Mike's team, it was a wasted moveslot. Typically most Lucarios have Justified for their ability since they resist Dark-type attacks and can a get a +`1 boost. If...Lucario switched in as Weavile went for Beat Up, our team would have been easily counter swept and would have lost for sure.
Though I already alluded to this, Ice Punch was the stronger STAB option for Togetic, a Pokemon I ranked as the last Pokemon to bring for this matchup, yet did moderately well. Definitely there was a moderate degree of RNG in Mike's favor, the the only one that mattered was the Special Defense drop from Shadow Ball. If this never occurred, either the Nidokings get up Stealth Rocks, or break the potential Focus Sash on Zam. There was one turn where Doublade could have stayed in on the Swampert and go for Sacred Sword on the Mamoswine switch, but fearing the Scald burn or crit, we were forced to switch to Latias. The only other preparation I could have done was give Tornadus-T an AV and a bulkier EV Spread to take on Alakazam, though this was changed to Life Orb to 1) faint Swampert / Mamoswine with Grass Knot and 2) if in case Alakazam had Life Orb Psyshock which can heavily damage or OHKO Tornadus-T
Either way, given the amount of RNG that was occurring made me play safer than I should have, which in turn lost me a considerable amount of momentum we'd gained after knocking out Roserade Turn 1. The reason why we were able to "win" this battle was by making aggressive plays again to give ourselves a good chance for the endgame. The endgame of this battle is something I really want to avoid the following rounds of the CIL Mike's best chance to win was either Crit or burn the Weavile, and I knew it was going to come down to this exact scenario (only difference could be doing this early) once Doublade fainted to a crit Flamethrower. Definitely we have to give my opponent credit for making safe and yet aggressive plays which benefited him more in the late game by removing both Tornadus-T, Empoleon, and Chesnaught.
Will admit the critical hits in the battle especially towards the end almost got to me, but I kinda had to "deal with it". One last thing that almost occurred in that battle, but thankfully didn't was my laptop crashing just 2 minutes after both me and Mike already done the battle. If this situation would have occurred "earlier", the Nidokings would have lost the game especially if this happen in the last couple turns. Since I'm posting this page on late Friday, my "computer issues" have been mitigated to where my laptop doesn't randomly freezes or hangs, though I'm likely going to get a new one for myself this summer. Regardless good game to Mike as he gave us the most difficult battle yet. Next week we'll be battling Fiona of the The Whirlwinds (which did happen), so expect that post to be up by Monday of next week. In the meantime, take care everyone.