Thursday, September 8, 2016

CIL Season 2 Week 10: VS The Cobleskill Charizards




Artist: Dragonith

Preview 

This is the last game of the CIL for the LA Nidokings. The final battle before playoffs and who else is it than Kyle or ItalianG62. Well before we go deep into the matchup, there won't be a teambuilder, for some reasons I'll explain later. What's important to mention is technically speaking, both Kyle and I have already made playoffs (partially due to Hank the Pidgey's record prior) and we didn't want to showcase our best sets if we battle again in Round 2 of Playoffs. Given the playoff situation, I am going to get the Round 1 bye as Kyle battles Iceolate in an all stakes battle. Either way, I'm going to try my best to work out all possible matchups, mitigate any random yet effective sets, and potentially see how I'll approach the potential rematch of Kyle/Iceolate. On the other side, Chase has won his conference with Sanyer and Darby (replacement for both Mighty Mamoswine and Marvo) claiming the final spots. However we don't know which team Darby will bring for playoffs as both the Poison Stings and Blazikens are locked in a tight playoff positioning, possibly contributed by Darby himself. To give an idea of the playoff picture, either Chase, Sanyer, and Darby will face either myself, Kyle, or Iceolate in the grand finals depending who make it out the 1st and 2nd round. I guess that's all the relevant playoff information available at the time writing this. 


Week 10: Vs The Cobleskill Charizards

My Team: Charizard X, Latias, Suicune, Weavile, Sylveon, Doublade, Nidoking, Chesnaught, Empoleon, Galvantula, and Gliscor
His Team: Mega Slowbro, Latios, Raikou, Scizor, Tornadus-T, Nidoqueen, Emboar, Whimsicott, Sneasel Snorlax, and Zygarde


Before we go on and discuss the nature of the opposing team, I'd like to simply recall a couple events. If anyone has kept up with the CIL, the Charizards use to be the Aqua Jets owned by none other than Hank the Pidgey, a former GBA Competitor and Analyst. By the time it was Week 5, Hank finished four of the ten seasonal weeks, achieved a good record of 3-1,  losing to Chase in a close battle Week 4. Honestly forgot when exactly Hank announced his departure, but it was during Week 5 for sure. While I won't mention the exact details of his exit, Hank's reasons were understandable (again I won't mention exact details). From his message, Hank didn't want to slow down the league, bother / slow down the league with his absence, again due to IRL issues on his side. A couple days later, we came up with a solution to have a replacement coach take charge of Hank's team for the time being. Here both Mudkiplegend (Alec) and I decided to have someone from the PFA league "join" the CIL so we can fill in the slot ASAP. There was a list of people we recommended from our league, and the CIL people narrowed it down to Kyle, or ItalianG62 to replace Hank. Since taking over Hank the Pidgey's slot, Kyle has gone 3 - 2 and recently as Week 9, clinched the playoff spot for the new restructured Charizard team. 

Now regarding the Charizard team, there squad is rather strong compiled with some of iconic meta defining Pokemon in both the OU and the draft league format. Mega Slowbro...the seemingly unsinkable ship of the Charizard team bolsters massive defenses and multiple utility options. If I let Mega Slowbro Calm Mind over my team, then the Charizards will take the game in their favor. Latios, Raikou, and Tornadus-T are the relatively strong pivots of the opposing team with either strong nuking STABS, Volt-Turn potential, and all sporting a fast base 110 / 115 / 121 speed respectively. Scizor and Whimsicott are both capable priority users abusing the Technician Bullet Punch, or Prankster status moves, and do have some kinda of U-Turn potential. Next we have the slow wall breakers of the team: Nidoqueen / Emboar who take full advantage of their respective abilities and strong natural coverage to literally overpower the opposing team. Sneasel is essentially a "mini-Weavile", though with less speed and power, this Ice/Dark-type is still strong in this format. Finally we get to the setup mons: Snorlax and Zygarde who part are extremely dangerous if they setup, or abuse their natural bulk. 

Considering this was the last battle of the regular season, thought I bring a couple unique sets for this battle. Charizard X has a unique set with Flame Charge, Dragon Claw, Sword Dance, etc to allow itself to become a massive threat to Kyle's team if it can setup. At +2 with Stealth Rocks up, Tough Claws Dragon Claw can 2HKO Mega Slowbro; any status options ensure the 2HKO. Sylveon was meant to be a bulky Wish Baton Passer to get in my heavy hitters (Char X/Latias/Weavile) easier so not much there. Next we sorta a suicide lead Nidoking with both Stealth Rocks / Toxic Spikes, along with Earth Power / Ice Beam for neutral coverage. Originally, I thought about bringing another Pokemon, though Latias became a clear favorite due to its strong movepool to hit most of Kyle's team to either bait or force switches. Finally, Pursuit Weavile and CM Roar Suicune was brought, though aside from rather obvious coverage and STABs, not much to explain here. Alright let's get into the match!




Turn 1 I lead with our specialized Nidoking as Kyle leads with the Whimsicott, so a slightly favorable matchup on my side. As I setup Stealth Rocks, Whimsicott switcheroos the Life Orb, in exchange for a Choice Band. Already render near useless, Nidoking is swapped out for Sylveon, as Whimsicott taunts my switch. Predicting the Nidoqueen, I recall Sylveon for Nidoking, but Kyle instead swaps for his Scizor. I try to make a ballsy prediction by going for the Ice Beam to catch Latios, however Kyle preserves the Nidoqueen for his Slowbro. Now I'm like, "well shit this thing is going to start Calm Minding in front of me", so my response to send in Suicune ASAP. For a couple turns, we both try to net the Scald burn, and I followed up with one Calm Mind setup. Strangely, Kyle goes hard to Sneasel on a predicted Calm Mind, but Suicune's +1 Scald does massive damage to the point it will die to rocks if switched out. As Sneasel Knock Offs the Leftovers, Suicune faints the weasel from play with another Scald. 

Whimsicott is sent out and here I'm forced to switch out my +1 Suicune for Charizard as 1) Whimsicott has a Life Orb which any Grass-type move can still do decent damage, and 2) I still need Suicune for the Slowbro. Charizard is Taunted on the switch in, though it wouldn't matter much as Prankster Encore is a thing. Thought about this play for awhile, and thus it was time to reveal the Flame Charge.  As Whimsicott went for the Tailwind, Charizard X goes for the Flame Charge to get the one shot, though it turns out the Grass/Fairy-type has defense investment. As Charizard X  faints the Whimsicott, Kyle is able to Encore my Mega into my weaker Flame Charge attack, rendering my setup useless. As Nidoqueen is switched in, Latias is called forth to take the incoming Earth Power, and uses Roost until the Tailwind peters out. Mega Slowbro is sent out to take Latias's STAB Psychic attack, however I reveal the Shadow Ball the next turn and thus eliminate a setup threat to my team. 

By turn 16, three of Kyle's six Pokemon have been eliminated and all I have to do is play smart without losing any momentum. Kyle sends in Latios to revenge kill my Latias, I switch my Eon Dragon in place of Sylveon since I felt Latias was important especially in the late game. Sylveon tanks Latios's Shadow Ball, which reveals the Blue Eon Dragon doesn't carry a boosting item. To further maintain momentum, as Kyle switched to Scizor, Sylveon Baton Passes back into my Latias. It was kinda obvious that Latias was carrying the HP Fire, so Latios has to come in to take on either Scizor or Nidoqueen. Sylveon is sent out again as Latios goes for the Ice Beam this time, again not resulting on a strong damage output. The next several turns might look strange on my end, but I decided to "sack" Sylveon and attempt to weaken the rest if Kyle's team with Pixilate Hyper Voices. With both Scizor and Nidoqueen alive, this result felt likely.

The reasoning for staying in on Sylveon were a number of reasons. 1) Didn't want to have anyone I considered Wins Cons take unnecessary damage, or possibly faint. 2) Nidoqueen and Scizor were relatively health, but getting chip damage will leave it in range from my other attacks. 3) If Sylveon "faints", I still had 5 other relatively usable Pokemon ready for battle, plus I get a matchup initiative as a result. As perplexing as this sounds, staying in with Sylveon kinda threw off Kyle. As he tried to predict my Sylveon switch out to Latias, yet both Scizor and Nidoqueen never went for their respective STAB moves. Despite using Pixilate Hyper Voice on both Poison / Steel Pokemon (note they don't have that combined typing), the resisted damage eventually mounted to the point where both couldn't take anymore, and thus fainted At one point, I went for Wish to heal my Sylveon on a Scizor's Bug Bite. As Kyle tries for a last ditch Sword Dance, Sylveon's Hyper Voice takes out the low HP Scizor. As Nidoqueen is called forth, again Hyper Voice is the play just to get a free switch from a sack. Funny enough, Sylveon manages to faint both Scizor and Nidoqueen in these several turns, though at the cost of being at 9% HP with leftovers. With Latios as the final Pokemon, Sylveon is sacked to allow Weavile to end the battle with an Ice Punch. Thus the Nidokings finish the league with a 10-0 record!


Afterthoughts 

Before we are going to talk about the season / playoff situation, I admit this battle wasn't taken too seriously compared to the other battles done in the previous weeks. At this point in the regular season, both Kyle and myself already secured playoff positions in the CIL, so I guess that's one reason why the outcome became somewhat lopsided. In fact, most of the battle we both were attempting to scout out and figure out the movesets of our teams. This explains why Kyle lost his Mega Slowbro, as he probably thought I didn't have a coverage move for it, but in turn Latias did with Life Orb Shadow Ball. If I were to comments about the battle, it was essentially me playing safe and Kyle trying to predict what I'll do, however most of these exchanges ended in me getting in a better position. Pretty much, I had to keep playing to where I know I'm in a favorable position without losing any vital momentum. 

By the time the score was 6-3, the battle was heavily favorable for me with the proper Pokemon in Latias, Charizard X, Suicune, and Weavile capable of beating the combination of Scizor, Latios, and Nidoqueen. Game could have ended alot sooner if I'd managed to send in Weavile at any point on Latios, and pursuit trap it, but that never happen. Guess one can say I made some questionable plays with the Sylveon as it was my only counter to Latios at the time, however getting damage on both Nidoqueen and Scizor was far important for the long run. Remember that both Scizor and Nidoqueen are natural checks to Sylveon, so I knew my Fairy-type was't going to be useful in the late game, unless it kept doing chip damage. If anyone notices from the replay, if Kyle mispredicts (he did multiple times), Sylveon just got off around 25-30% damage against Scizor/Nidoqueen, which again is extremely good for a resisted hit. 

Even I have trouble thinking a Sylveon beat both Nidoqueen and Scizor via spamming its signature attack Hyper Voice, and only falling to the Latios in the end game. Staying in with Sylveon in the last few turns threw off Kyle's predictions to the point I inflicted more residual damage needed. I guess the only real won con Kyle had to go for was spam and hope for critical hit Draco Meteors. Problem with this win con is the mere presence of a 9% HP Sylveon prevented such a scenario. Remember 1) Fairy-types are immune to Dragon, and 2), Latios was in fact Scarf (while not revealed unto the end) so locking itself to a Dragon move would result in Sylveon fainting Latios. If Sylveon wasn't going to faint the Latios, Weavile will outspeed (well it didn't), and knock out the Eon Dragon, so I kinda had everything covered.

With that, I guess the last weekly MVP award will go to Sylveon for Week 10 for not only fainting both Nidoqueen/Scizor, but preventing Latios from utilizing its Dragon-type moves for the endgame. Latias deserves an honorable mention for fainting the Mega Slowbro, though guess Nidoking and Suicune too helped wear it down with Scald and Stealth Rocks. I'll say the end result was not what I wanted, rather kinda want to shoot for a Charizard X sweep of sorts, though it would have compromise my position and lost vital momentum. Now that we are in playoff, this will be the end of our CIL Regular Season, but there will be coverage of the CIL Playoffs, as the Nidokings battle in the Semifinals, and possibly advance for to the CIL Championships. Regardless how well we performed in the playoffs, we were able to secure a perfect record 10-0, so that in of itself  is amazing. 

To be honest, don't know when our playoff battle will be, however I'll prepare for whatever outcome, whichever team, and possibly matchups. I do have some time before the semifinals, so going to use this to the best of my advantage. As soon as I know who my opponent will be, I'll go full hard for the upcoming battles, even to the championship. Just because we went 10-0 and doesn't mean I can't let up, otherwise we lose.Again we got to go hard with the preparation, team building, and battling to ensure the Nidokings get one more title.  Definitely we'll know this result by the end of September, so stick around until maybe October for these updates. 


Monday, September 5, 2016

PFA Season 3 Playoffs: Overview & Round One



(Artist: All0412)


Preview: To start off, the following article is based on the Pokemon Forever Association Season 2 playoffs, and what I, Black117 did throughout the next games in terms on team building, preparation, battling assessment, etc. Keep in mind, these matches occurred around the Mid-June to the beginning of July, so I'll attempt to recall as much as possibly, while being concise and accurate (at least on my end). Instead, consider the following blogposts as a retelling from my perspective at best. I'll provide the "links" to the battles in the description with functional Battle Codes for everyone to see in-game. Before anyone as for how long these codes will be up, lets say about 4 months, or possibly earlier if the battle servers for XY /ORAS cease in favor of Sun and Moon, which I hope doesn't happen. Without further delay here's the LA Nidokings path to the Championship, whether we win or lose in the end. Here's the records of PFA Season 3 for reference


Overview: Playoff Picture

Once again, the Los Angeles Nidokings make playoffs for the second season in a row after winning almost every battle in the league with an impressive 14-1 record and +55 differential. Given how the Nidokings this season once again got the best record, we essentially secured the overall 1st place spot and will battle the following opponent who falls in the 8th slot. Even before I battled my last opponent, Unit501 for the last week, there's was already envision playoff picture I had in mind. At this point into the season (aside myself), Ryan (Mesa Macargos), Alec (Indianapolis Jolts), Epic (Indy Latis), ItalianG62 (Schenectady Sceptiles), and PxGKashHoward (Puerto Rico Panchams) all had maintain a guaranteed playoff spot in the PFA. The three teams I wasn't sure who would make it in were Chimcharred7's LA Lucarios, Marcusube's Virginia Vibravas, and Zigzagger456's Mississauga Mences. Why did I focused on these three teams moreso than the others? Basically I knew by Week 14 (and how standings work), one of these three will be in the 7th spot, eliminated from playoff contention, or land in the 8th spot...to be my opponent. 

To start off with Vinny, I've had already battled him during Week 14 and got a 5-0 win as a result. Despite winning by a huge margin, this was against a team which had nearly every Pokemon with some form of setup or instant offense (Mega Pinsir, Serperior, Mamoswine, Raikou, Feraligatr, etc), which actually kinda forced me to play a defensively moreso than I'm used to. It might sound weird say this, but when your opponent doesn't have hazard control plus access to three damaging hazards, this made the matchup far easier. If I had battled Vinny "again", I've would have used a similar team, but this time with access to all my hazards since I forgot to give Stealth Rocks to one of my Pokemon, thankfully Toxic Spike + Regular Spikes did the trick. Between the three opponents this was likely the "easier route" as my team had a straight out team matchup, and the lack of hazard removal on Vinny's end made makes the match better to prepare for. 

For Zigzagger456, this was honestly the more difficult matchup to prepare for, and I actually devoted slightly more time for this one than the other two, well at least during Week 15. What made me concern about Ziggy's team was actually his FWG in Entei, Vaporeon, and of course Mega Venusaur. When one pairs this core with others like Thundurus-I, Conkeldurr, Nidoqueen, Togekiss, Druddigon, etc, it was an extremely diverse team with the capabilities of going offensive, balance, or defensive stall. This was one of the matchups I actually wanted to avoid as Zig had the better matchup and it basically would come down to how I get past Thundurus and his FWG core. Despite the disadvantage matchup, I felt confident with our late hazard stacking playstyle can be a major difference in the battle as Zig had few responses to it. Even so, our team had enough firepower to bypass the FWG core, however the key would have to play around the Thundurus since it has multiple viable set. 

However, both Zig and Vinny had essentially an all-stakes battle where essentially one of them would make it into Playoffs, and the other wouldn't. One last thing noting is Zig had already lost to Vinny, so I factored how Zig played the last time, which was a 0-4 defeat. Despite the close Week 15 battle, Zig was unable to beat Vinny, which meant that my opponent for round 8 was as shown below:


PFA PLAYOFFS R1

  1. LA Nidokings (Black117) vs Virginia Vibravas (Marcusube)***
  2. Mesa Macargos (GingerxPug) vs LA Lucarios (Chimcharred7)
  3. Indianapolis Jolts (Mudkiplegend or Alec) vs Puerto Rico Panchams (PxGKashHoward)
  4. Indy Latis (Epiclolz) vs Schenectady Sceptiles (ItalianG62)

So with that, my opponent for round 1 was going to a previous opponent from Week 4, Marcusube and his rather unorthodox team. Not going to lie, this was the matchup I actually "expected" from Round 1 given the potential for Zig losing to Vinny again. Not disrespect to either player, just Vinny had the resources and overwhelming setup options to bypass Zig's balance team. If Zig lost to Vinny, the Marcusube was going to be my opponent, even if he himself lost to Abruptfury, his week 15 opponent. Immediate reactions were subtle. I knew this was going to be a difficult series to prepare for just with the last minute transactions Marc made plus the rather unpredictable nature of his sets. 

Before continuing, here's a brief review of the Playoff Rules
  1. Best of 3. Person who wins 2/3 advances to the next phase of playoffs
  2. Rounds have to be continuous, and players cannot change sets (attacks, EVs, IVs, Nature, Items etc) in between rounds (unless they advance on to Round 2, and Finals).  Think VGC Bo3.
  3. Highest seed opponents will always battle the lowest seed (Super Late rule which I'll explain why I was "upset" later).


PFA ROUND 1: VS VIRGINA VIBRAVAS



My Team: Mega Altaria, Manaphy, Victini, Gengar, Zapdos, Gyarados, Roserade, Bronzong, Flygon, Aerodactyl, Mesprit, Miltank, and Articuno. 

 Marc's Team: Mega Pidgeot, Talonflame, Tyranitar, Klefki, Reuniclus, Chesnaught, Gligar, Medicham, Sneasel, Clawitzer, Quagsire, Hitmonchan, and Vileplume.


Looking at Marc's team, he had the necessary tools and threats to potentially sneak his way into a game 3, and maybe win with some proper play. The only problem I notice no his side is that he can't bring every threat, so that's something. The immediate Pokemon that stood out to me was actually Marc's last transaction, Tyranitar which he made right before the playoffs. Every team got a chance to get a new transaction in exchange for another for playoffs, and the Tyranitar move kinda made me confident he was going to bring it no matter what. In all honestly, the right Tyranitar set can actually semi wall break or sweep my team with a Dragon Dance set as few Pokemon were able to reliably check it. The next Pokemon likely to make an appearance was the Talonflame since, despite having a low attack stat, Gale Wings allows the Fire/Flying-type to outspeed my entire team. Heck Talonflame has such a  "diverse" matchup that I kinda had to prep for a Bulky Wisp, Suicidal Tailwind, Choice Band, some Natural Gift Grass/Electric, or Sword Dance. Again, if I don't respond properly with Talonflame, my team can get swept easily. Mega Pidgeot was a new Mega Evo Marcusube was using for the latter half of  the season, dumping Mega Sharpedo. While this Mega isn't as strong, or maybe valued to some players, I felt Marc would bring a Work Up Set to actually wall break with a potential Hurricane, HP Electric, and even Hyper Beam (for Zapdos). The last Pokemon I was fairly certain about was his bulky Psychic-type Reuniclus, by far the most concerning for me. Reuniclus was the most "upsetting" to prepare for since nearly all the viable "Smogon" sets were relatively strong against me. These include the LO Trick Room, CM Defensive, Assault Vest Regen, or an all out offensive set. However, usually Marc has made it a habit to bring different Reuniclus sets, to I had to prepare in general for the CM set and the LO Trick Room attacker.

The last two Pokemon were honestly filler, but the right defensive cores / wall breakers can act as viable backups. Out of all the other defensive / support Pokemon, Klefki was rather annoying since not only will Marc potentially spam the Spikes, but this forces my Zapdos to Defog, and clear my own rocks for his Pokemon (Talonflame / Mega Pidgeot). Klefki utilizes an immense support options for Marc that invaluable with moves like Prankster T-Wave, Toxic, Heal Block, Metal Sound, Duel Screens, and of course the trapping-suicide move Fairy Lock. Not going to lie, Vileplume was my suspected 6th last Pokemon Marc might bring as it actually can wall a good chunk of my team and even carry Sleep Power / Stun Spore  / Effect Spore to spread status. Chesnaught was a decent "pseudo" replacement for either Klefki / Vileplume as it can still be rather annoying with Spikes, Super Fang, Leech Seed, and coverage moves, yet the only problem is the lack of other Status (aside Toxic). Medicham and Sneasel where kinda listed at the middle of Marc's potential Pokemon to bring for either wall breaking or revenge killing purposes. Only problem with these two were both are relatively weak defensively and are actually easy for my bulkier Pokemon to pick them off, assuming they tank the hits well.

The last Pokemon on Marc's team (Gligar, Clawitzer, Quagsire, Hitmonchan) were likely not going to come to the matchup, though I still didn't rule them out. Honestly the one Pokemon here that still does decently against my team is the Clawitzer, thank to its Mega Launcher ability, however Marc might be a "little" too weak to Electric attacks from Zapdos. Gligar and Quagsire were both relatively decent answers for Zapdos, yet for the rest of my team, not so much. In fact, Gligar was potential setup fodder for two of my Pokemon, and Quagsire gets overwhelmed by most of my special attackers. Lastly Hitmonchan can work as a decent jack-of -all-trades with priority, wall breaking potential, and Rapid Spin, except Medicham does exactly what Hitmonchan (except to spin) and has more killing potential. 

Even though my team has a slight edge in terms of overall stats, notably both defense / special defense, Marc had the faster Pokemon on his arsenal to use, and it felt obvious he would take full advantage his speed. Perhaps the biggest advantage going to Marc's favor was how crafty he was during his own preparation. During Week 14, Marc was able to nearly beat Kyle, or ItalianG62 with rather strange, yet effective sets which almost work. However this same battle was the one when Kyle actually reverse swept him with his defensive Charizard X, 1v1 a counter in Quagsire, and won the game. From that battle, it became clear to me the best way to approach this was to bring my absolute best Pokemon in this battle no matter what. I knew if Marc didn't have something for TG Manaphy, his team gets swept, I get 2 kills minimum. If there's no revenge killers/Tyranitar, Victini can overwhelm him with V - Create / Bolt Strike spam. Finally, if there's no Tyranitar, Zapdos can kinda 1v1 most of his team (again bar his Ground-types).  Finally my recent transaction, Gyarados was going to be necessary in this matchup, whether I go for a defensive build, or go plain offensive to pressure his team. 

After those three, the last two Pokemon were quite unknown for me. Just about everything on Marc's team has proper responses, so most of my frailer Pokemon were ruled out. By the end of this process, only Miltank, Flygon, Mega Altaria, Aerodactyl, Bronzong, and Mesprit were left. Two days before we planned the battle (Sunday 19th of June), I had doubts regarding the current team which had Aerodactyl and Miltank, but I felt as if both weren't strong enough overall to keep up with Marc's team. Throughout the week, I've done like 40+ test battles on showdown with a couple "ACs", yet we never definitely came to a conclusion which last mons to bring. Eventually we decided Mega Altaria was a viable option to check Tyranitar and Bronzong just to do "things". By Sunday morning, the teams EVs were set and I genned the team onto my OR version to wait to battle Marc. Do recall like sleeping for 5 hours, before I knew it like 11:00 am in the morning, and realized the battle was going to happen soon. Kinda regret taking at least 2 hrs of my time during the past two weeks to prep for this matchup, as I could have done other things, but its playoffs. I didn't want to be the guy to have the best record and lose so, guess there's that. If anything, this was insurance. 

So for all, even Marc if you are reading this are wondering what I brought, this was the team:

ROUND 1 TEAM

Flora (Altaria-Mega) @ Altarianite  
Ability: Natural Cure  
Level: 50  
EVs: 244 HP / 60 Def / 180 SpA / 24 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 1 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpD / 30 Spe  
- Hyper Voice  
- Flamethrower  
- Hidden Power [Rock]  
- Roost  

The combination of Hyper Voice, Flamethrower, and HP Rock can hit everything on Marc's team for good damage, if not 2HKO at the very minimum. To explain my pick on why HP Rock over something else like Heal Bell/Agility/Double Edge, any other Mega Altaria set was potential setup fodder for Talonflame. It kinda sucks not running Agility or Heal Bell, but I knew if Talonflame gets a Sword Dance off, it will tear apart me team. Tyranitar was another concern as it can take a Pixilate Hyper Voice with the sand up, but will take moderate damage. Didn't know how this team would scout for Tyranitar, but I felt confident it had to be Altaria once it Mega Evolves to remove the Flying type for Fairy. Really wanted to have Fire Blast over Flamethrower, except I needed to do "something" to either Klefki, Vileplume, or Chesnaught. Roost was the last option to replenish HP when possible, though it was "likely" Mega Altaria will be sacked in the battle.


GateKeeper (Bronzong) @ Light Clay  
Ability: Heatproof  
Level: 50  
EVs: 244 HP / 108 Atk / 108 Def / 4 SpA / 44 SpD  
Relaxed Nature  
- Stealth Rock  
- Rock Slide  
- Reflect  
- Light Screen  

This set was originally going to have Explosion like I did last time, except I felt Marc might see that coming again. For this battle, Bronzong has the Heatproof ability to better check Mega Pidgeot and even take any Fire-type attack from Talonflame. Stealth Rocks was my only hazards, but just enough needed for the battle. Duel Screen Reflect and Light Screen was going to be my main response to mitigate Marc's offense, but also attempt to setup my own. If his team didn't have any Defog user, chances were likely screens will be disrupted to his team and mess up Marc's momentum. Kinda wanted to have Gyro Ball for some of his faster threats, but Rock Slide was opted to ensure the OHKO on Talonflame if the attack lands. Forgot what the EV Spread did unfortunately since this was a last minute addition to the team.  


mj√∂lnir (Zapdos) @ Leftovers  
Ability: Pressure  
Level: 50  
EVs: 232 HP / 16 Def / 40 SpA / 204 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 30 HP / 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA / 30 SpD  
- Thunderbolt  
- Hidden Power [Flying]  
- Defog  
- Roost  

This offensive Zapdos was part of the dubbed "trinity" of my team and played an important role in the matchup. The decision to run Modest nature and moderate speed investment was mainly to outpace the Medicham, the fastest thing on Marc's team Zapdos can outspeed. Thunderbolt was a 100% OHKO on a 252 HP / 20 Sp Def Talonflame, yet can't OHKO the specially defensive variant, or Wacan Berry. There was some "debate" of running Discharge instead of Thunderbolt for the paralysis chance, yet kinda wanted to get the guarantee OHKO on non specially defensive / Wacan Berry Talonflame. HP Flying was opted as this allows Zapdos to hit the Vileplume, Chesnaught, Medicham, and Hitmonchan for STAB SE damage. The third slot was up in the air since there were several move I'd consider "strong" in this battle like Volt Switch, Charge Beam, Thunder Wave, and even Roar. Eventually, Defog was the "safe" option as it prevents my team from being hazard stack by the Klefki, though I strongly felt Marc wasn't going to bring it. Roost is to allow Zapdos to stick around the battle, maybe play with some Pressure stalling if needed. 


PlzAlecWhy! (Gyarados) @ Leftovers 
Ability: Intimidate  
Level: 50  
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 12 Def / 188 SpD / 60 Spe  
Careful Nature  
- Waterfall  
- Bounce  
- Dragon Dance  
- Substitute  

This Gyarados set was one of the main Win Cons as it attempts to setup on some of his specially oriented Pokemon and a few of the physical attackers. Gyarados was originally going to be Adamant nature with a more balanced EV's spread, yet looking at my team, didn't have a proper switch for the Clawitzer (also the Reuniclus) so this set was made. At the cost of some power, if Gyarados manages to setup to +2 or +3, the battle is won, assuming A) Gyarados can take the incoming priority moves, B) no crits, C) Quagsire, D) playing around Spikey Shield, and  E) random status. Of course, all these conditions can be meet, but it will mean Marc won't have something like Reuniclus, Klefki, Sneasl + Talonflame (for priority), or Chesnaught / Vileplume on the same team as it would compromise his own team composition to be weak  to other Pokemon. In short, Gyarados was there as a supplement, and a backup in case my other strong Water-type can't sweep / wallbreak 


SSJ BLoo (Manaphy) @ Leftovers  

Ability: Hydration  
Level: 50  
EVs: 156 HP / 180 Def / 36 SpA / 36 SpD / 100 Spe  
Timid Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Scald  
- Ice Beam  
- Tail Glow  
- Rain Dance  

Second part of the Trinity and the anchor of this team: Bloo the Manaphy. Despite having a low scoring season, I envision Bloo to perform extremely well come playoff time and this was the case for Round 1. The EV spread is all over the place, but I'll elaborate. the HP / Def investment allows Manaphy to take two Stone Edges from Adamant Tyranitar, two LO Brave Birds from Jolly Talonflame, and one Wood Hammer from defensive Chesnaught. Scald and Tail Glow were the overall coverage options to have for this battle with Tail Glow and Rain filling up the last two slots. Rain Dance as actually not considered until I realized to potential problems: 1) Unaware Quagsire, 2) Thunder Wave Klefki, and 3) Sand from Tyranitar. Rain-boosted Scald + the burn allows Manaphy to beat Quag, Hydration prevents any status from Klefki during the rain, and finally I can remove the Sandstorm to remove Tyranitar's Special Defense boost. If played / conserved well enough, Manaphy had the potential to sweep under the potential screen support from Bronzong, not to mention the increase overall bulk. 


Ohayo! (Victini) @ Choice Scarf  
Ability: Victory Star  
Level: 50  
EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 236 Spe  
Adamant Nature  
- V-create  
- Bolt Strike  
- Blue Flare  
- U-turn  

Third and final part of the Trinity, Ohayo the Victini. Kinda a standard Choice Scarf set as one can see, but there wasn't any other set I can think of aside Band or Scarf. Like Victini can be Banded, but then it gets Pursuit trapped by some of Marc's Pokemon relatively easy. Given that most of Marc's team was still relatively faster than mine, Choice Scarf was the overall better option. The moveset is self explanatory, yet Blue Flare was added as an option to hit Marc's Grass-types if they were there. 


ROUND 1

Team Preview and Pre-Game Mindset

My Team: Mega Altaria, Bronzong, Zapdos, Gyarados, Manaphy, and Victini
Marc's Team: Mega Pidgeot, Tyranitar, Talonflame, Reuniclus, Sneasel, and Medicham

The lack of Vileplume, Klefki, Chesnaught, and Quagsire hinted to me this team of six Pokemon Marc brought to this battle was likely offensive in some fashion. At the very least, I don't have to deal with hazard stacking too much, though Defog on Zapdos was kinda a dead move. Same goes for the specially defensive Gyarados set as it cannot outspeed at least some of the Pokemon here and has to rely on setting up two Dragon Dances, though the Intimdate might still be useful here. All four threats (Mega Pidgeot, Talonflame, Tyranitar, and Reuniclus) were brought to this battle, yet kinda surprised to see both Sneasel and Medicham on Team Preview. Though both Sneasel + Medicham are strong in their own right, just having both of them immediately alerted me this was going to be an offensive game of sorts. If I can somehow outdamage + maintain offensive pressure against Marc throughout the entire series, then I felt confident to win two games. For leads, originally wanted to have Gyarados first, but then the thought of Tyranitar leading was problematic. So I chose Mega Altaria and we'll see how it goes from here...


Game 1:  URNG - WWWW - WW4A - 9TGQ


We lead off with the Mega Altaria as Marcusube leads Talonflame. Wasting no time, Mega Altaria hits Talonflame with surprise Hidden Power Rock just as Marc attempts to setup a Sword Dance, thus eliminating a huge threat turn 1. Reuniclus is sent out and I opt to keep hit with a Pixilate Hyper Voice just to maintain more pressure, however Marc reveals Thunder Wave. This kinda change a bit of my plans as Mega Altaria paralyzed and can't help beat certain Pokemon on Marc's team with the chance of paralysis.  Victini is sent on a predicted Recover / Psychic, and try to scare Reuniclus out as my Scarfer goes for U-Turn, yet Marc stays in to replenish lost HP. Manaphy is sent out to possibly break through the Reuniclus. After setting up Rain, I tried to hit Reuniclus with a Rain-boosted Scald, yet its not a 2HKO. Predicting another Recover, I decided to go for the Tail Glow and severely weaken the Reuniclus. To my luck, +3 Rain-boosted Scald with the crit is able to OHKO Reuniclus as I suspect Marc probably went for damage to revenge kill Manaphy, yet now he finds himself in an awkward position. Sneasel is sent out to possibly kill Bloo the Manaphy, yet fails to OHKO with the Knock Off, resulting another faint for Bloo. 

In the first ten turns, I managed to get to 6-3 start immediately, however as long as Tyranitar + Mega Pidgeot was there the battle was not over. Once Mega Pidgeot is sent out, I debate whether to sack Mega Altaria, Manaphy, or get in Zapdos/Bronzong. After a minute, the decision was to sack Mega Altaria as the potential Paralysis was going to neuter its usefulness. Mega Altaria can't outspeed anything on Marc's team, meanwhile Manaphy can still outspeed Medicham and Tyranitar. As Mega Altaria is sack to two Hurricanes, Bronzong is sent out to setup Screens. There was a bit of an exchange like me placing one screen, Marc going for Hurricane, placing another Screen, him defogging, while I either go for Rock Slide. After some turns, I grew a bit impatient and go immediately on the Zapdos on the incoming Roost. Now the next several turns as soon as Marc hits me with the first Hurricane on Zapdos, it becomes confused, and literally never got off an attack at the Mega Pidgeot. This sequence in the battle was upsetting, though looking back at it now, Zapdos hitting itself in confusion, and only getting a couple Roost offs helped me stay in the game. Didn't realize this until later on, but Zapdos was actually PP Stalling the Hurricanes from Mega Pidgeot, which comes to player soon.

At this point in the game, Mega Pidgeot only revealed Roost, Defog and Hurricane, yet I'm wondering why hasn't Marc sent out Tyranitar, especially if Hurricane "might" be his only strong move against my teams. Back to the battle, Mega Pidgeot gets another confusion infliction with a critical hit, this time as a result of hitting itself in confusion, Zapdos has become near useless with extremely low Hit Points. Eventually Bronzong is sacked to Hurricane as Victini is sent out again to scare the M-Pidgeot. Once again as my Scarfer U-Turns, Mega Pidgeot stays in. Now I have lets something else go, either Manaphy or the Zapdos, and some thought, I wonder if this was Pidgeot's last Hurricane (or two), as if it was, then Gyarados might get some use in the battle after all. Zapdos is sent out to faint to the Hurricane as now I tested whether Marc will stay in to spam Hurricane or switch out. Gyarados goes for the Dragon Dance on the Medicham switch with the U-Turn. The Psychic/Fighting-type gets a crit Fake Out, but this confirms it this being non Scarf. Gyarados goes for Bounce as Medicham takes 50% recoil from the High Jump Kick since I'm protected for one turn. Here Marc sends in Mega Pidgeot as death fodder, but the +1 Bounce from my Specially Defensive fails to OHKO, yet leaves the bird at low HP and a paralysis. 

Here Gyarados goes for the Substitute, as I hoped either A) Mega Pidgeot is paralyzed, B) we stalled it out of Hurricanes to force a switch/U-Turn (won't break the sub). After confusing my team with Hurricane spam, Mega Pidgeot gets paralyzed as Gyarados gets a free Sub. Here I decided to go for as many Dragon Dances as possibly while maintaining the substitute against maybe the Tyranitar. The U-Turn on Pidgeot fails to break the Sub, and now Marc is in a really tough spot unless he has something that can stop a +2 / soon +3 Gyarados. Marc tries to switch Medicham out to Tyranitar, hoping I might choke the game, yet I knew +3 Waterfall at this point wins me the game. Once Tyranitar is taken out (thankfully no Passho Berry), Marc forfeits the battle to me. While it odd to forfeit the battle, to Marc's defense, I know he doesn't want to reveal anything else and +3 Waterfall easily OHKOs the remaining members of his team. (I'll explain further details about game 1 later).  The battle ends on a 3-2 win in favor of the Nidokings.



Game 2:  V26G - WWWW - WW4A - 9THF


After game 1, this time Gyarados is sent out against the incoming Sneasel and get an attack drop against it. Here we do disconnect turn 2, but we replayed it as the following: Gyarados goes for Waterfall as Sneasel Sword Dances. Sneasel goes for a +1 Knock Off, but fails to OHKO Gyarados as I faint it with a second Waterfall. Now I'm debating whether or not to sack the Gyarados to the Pidgeot, or keep it for Intimidate support, which I decided the latter. Zapdos is sent out against the Mega Pidgeot and thankfully doesn't get confused. Instead of staying in the last time, Mega Pidgeot U-Turns straight for Tyranitar, as I get off a good 27-30% HP with a mildly invest Modest Thunderbolt. Here I thought this was the turn to "sack" Gyarados via getting an Intimidate off so Manaphy can setup to +3 special attack on a -1 attack Tyranitar. This plan backfires as Stone Edge fails to hit. Soon I find myself in a weird spot as the Gyarados fails to OHKO me, so try to get some last ditch damage on the Rock/Dark-type with Waterfall. Instead, Reuniclus takes the hit, and now I'm kinda forced to sack Gyarados here as I don't have a switch for Reuniclus. As Gyarados goes for Waterfall again on Reuniclus,  I completely forget about the sand as Marc recovers the damage off, also fainting my Pokemon in the process with sand residual damage. 

Bronzong is sent out to place Screens, however Marc paralyzes my Bronzong with Reuniclus, then going back to Mega Pidgeot to Defog the screens. We both do the same exchange of attacks sequences from before, (screens, defog, rock slide, roost), and on the turn I thought Marc would roost, Mega Pidgeot actually U-Turns out of my incoming Zapdos for Medicham. Here I let Marc get the Fake Out off, as I want Medicham to be low enough from Life Orb recoil where HP Flying can OHKO. As Marc attempts to attack with Medicham, Zapdos outspeeds and OHKOs his Medicham with the HP Flying. Tyranitar is sent out as I'm still concern what Tyranitar has. The only decent switch available was Manaphy, so as I switch Manaphy in, Tyranitar reveals the Rock Polish. The speed-boosting Tyranitar set with Rock Polish confirms my suspicions regarding what the exact purpose it, possibly to sweep my team once everything was weaken. Here I weird play, instead of going for Tail Glow, I opt for Rain Dance instead to remove the special defense boost from the sand stream, get an extra turn of Leftovers (instead of sand canceling it), and hope Rain-boosted Scald can OHKO Tyranitar (if not maybe Mega Altaria can). Once again, Tyranitar misses the Stone Edge as Manaphy uses Rain Dance. The third Stone Edge this time crits my Manaphy, but I'm able to OHKO Tyranitar, thus removing the immediate threat. 

Mega Pidgeot is sent back in to revenge kill something, but I still want Manaphy for the late game in case Talonflame was an issue. Bronzong takes the incoming Hurricane nicely and here I still debate about whether to setup Screens, or finally reveal Stealth Rocks, which the following move I try the latter. Knowing Marc will have to Defog the rocks (as it hits Talonflame and Mega Pidgeot for 50% / 25% respectively), Zapdos is called out to force out the opposing bird. At this point in the battle all Marc has left is Reuniclus to take the incoming Thunderbolt attacks. Between turns 23-33, both Marc and I engage in a stall mate similar to what occurred in his week 14 battle. As I continuously go for Thunderbolts /Roosts, Marc attacks with Shadow Ball to either hit the Victini switch, or get special defense drops. It was my goal to weaken the Reuniclus as much as possible with Zapdos (maybe get a Thunderbolt paralysis ) to ensure my other mons can revenge kill it. Again since Marc has no resistance to Electric attacks, scarf Victini can spam Bolt Strike against Reuniclus, then Talonflame, and finally the No Guard Pidgeot (assuming I can hit the other two). 

Finally on turn 33, Zapdos gets high Thunderbolt damage roll to where Reuniclus faints subsequently. Talonflame is sent out and here I decided to remain in despite Zapdos being at 50% HP to ensure Marc doesn't get a free Sword Dance and has to attack. To my surprise, Marc goes for the Sword Dance as before, however without any thing protecting Talonflame (like possibly Wacan Berry). Thus Zapdos easily OHKOs perhaps Marc's last best Pokemon in the series. With Mega Pidgeot alone, even if Marc manages to OHKO my Zapdos, Scarf Victini can come in on a free switch for a final Bolt Strike. Remember No Guard makes it so any attack will land, even the 93% accurate move. Knowing the immediate result of such an attack, Marc forfeits the last battle to me in a final 5-1 score and the Nidokings move on to Round 2.



Final Thoughts and Conclusion

After the battle, both Marc and I discuss what happen in the battle and looking back at the short conversation, he was understandably upset. Marc did told me despite calling most of my team and to some of my movesets, he still felt there was a good chance for him to win both games. I do ask if he called the exact Hidden Powers for both Mega Altaria and Zapdos for their respective Hidden Power coverage, and he expected a different coverage move instead. That was mostly the conversation we had, but again despite the 3-2 and 5-1 wins, this was still a close series, especially game 1. Definitely the three things that caught Marcusube off guard was the the HP Rock Mega Altaria, the crit on the Reuniclus with my +3 Manaphy in rain (which was a 56.3% damage roll with only 252 HP), and the Gyarados setup in the end. Regarding what I said about the Hurricane confusions, this was probably what change the momentum of the battle as Zapdos inadvertently stalled the Mega Pidgeot out of most of its Hurricanes. Eventually upon reviewing the game again, I did in fact PP Stalled all the Hurricanes the turn I "sacked" Zapdos after getting confused hit and a critical hit before hand.

 No mistake game 1 was a bloody mess on both sides with equal misplays, but as soon as Gyarados got to +2 Dragon Dance, the game was essentially over (unless Tyranitar can live the +2 Waterfall). Even if Mega Pidgeot didn't get paralyzed on that turn, all I had to do was get one more Dragon Dance as Marc had no more Hurricanes leftover to at least leave Gyara where a couple Fakes Outs from Medi can kinda OHKO, but then he's forced to sack things. Without any Hurricanes PP, Mega Pidgeot was essentially setup fodder for my Gyarados, which was the end game result I had to go for. Regarding going for the Sub instead of the Dragon Dance, if Mega Pidgeot got paralyzed on that turn,  this would basically result in me either getting to +3 or +2 with a sub. I did go for +3 with Gyarados, mainly for assurance to OHKO the rest of his entire team, and don't think the paralysis on Pidgeot matters if it can't even retaliate back without any Hurricane power points. If anything, it was Marc's reluctance to switch in Tyranitar at this critical junction of the game to where it could have done massive damage or hell swept my team with Rock Polish. A good time for this was against on the confused Zapdos, though I felt he was hesitant due to not seeing the nature of my Gyarados set. Despite this, Marc could have swept me with Rock Polish Tyranitar, but didn't pulled the trigger quick enough before it was too late. 

Game 2 was less hax filled (at least in my opinion), but there were some moments that decided the battle. Perhaps the biggest turn was when when Tyranitar missed the Stone Edge on Manaphy which then gets a crit Stone Edge back. No matter what, as long as Marc didn't get two critical stone edges in a roll, Manaphy was going to faint the Tyranitar with the Rain-boosted Scald. Looking back, I should have went for the Tail Glow instead of Rain Dance since +3 Scald does more than a boosted one, however I felt if in case Manaphy fainted, Mega Altaria can definitely knock out the T-tar with a Pixilate Hyper Voice without the sand up. Either way, this exact matchup was going to have some form of RNG decide the game as either Marc gets the double crit to OHKO my defensive Manaphy, or I basically get the OHKO on T-tar (maybe with a Scald Burn if it somehow survives). The whole Reuniclus and Zapdos is somewhat similar as the exchange was decided on RNG rolls with Marc being unable to get a Shadow Ball drop, however my goal was to 3HKO Reuniclus, or leave it to the point where a Bolt Strike from Scarf Victini can KO it and possibly the rest of the team. Course this requires that I hit the two on Talonflame and Reuniclus, though thanks to Zapdos, we were able to avoid this. 

Overall this was a tense series which RNG was a factor, but there were still plays we both made which pretty much decided most of this game. Even with the Best of 3 set, there's still a possibility of RNG being present in the game, not to mention the information game going on just like in a standard VGC set. To be honest, Marc definitively played well in the series and was a strong opponent. However at the end of the day, I strongly feel that taking consideration my position in every turn of the battle and thinking long-terms allowed myself and the Nidokings to stay ahead in the series. Of course RNG can suck at time even if it can matter in the slightest detail, but either the player has to mitigate it, or play through as best as possible. Again good game to Marc as we now advance into Round 2. See you all next week for ROUND 2.