Monday, September 14, 2015

Pokemon Forever Draft League (Smogon Singles)


For a long time I was interested in participating in a competitive league of sorts,, similar to the GBA, EXPNU, or UCL from Youtube considering the amount of preparation and planning needed to win games. Simply you don't bring the most common set, rather everyone is encouraged to counter team each other. Obviously the phrase "counter team" is somewhat of a bad word or thing to mention competitively but honestly that'swhat it is. Now I got that opportunity to be apart of one in the newly formed Pokemon Forever League featuring both an Singles and VGC Sub-League I'm currently in. The drafts took place about around August 17 for the Singles and 18 for VGC. Honestly, I really did not want to participate at first in the Singles league and just focus VGC primarily, but I realized this is only to get back into playing Smogon considering I've stopped playing since early March. Now heading into week 4 I'm where I'm currently 4-0 in the Singles division and and 3-0 in the Doubles so hopefully the Los Angeles Nidokings can take a double crown.

Here I'm only going to take about the picks and recent trades I made for the Singles draft.  These analyses will be short since I'm not gonna say everything about the Pokemon and their qualities...I'll let my opponents figure it out themselves.

Singles Draft:

OU: Mega Altaria, Weavile, Hippowdown
UU: Entei, Shaymin, Empoleon
RU: Uxie, Scrafty, Bronzong
NU: Sandslash, Stoutland, Shiftry
PU: Ninetails, Clefairy (Swapped with Swanna), Raichu (Swapped with Swoobat)

Analysis of Draft: 

OU Draft

Getting the 4th pick in the 16th person draft meant I can potentially get whatever Pokemon I wanted bar someone sniping me. Since this was the OU tier, I felt it be best to get a self sustaining Mega Evolution/sweeper capable of fulfilling many roles for my team. Mega Charizard X and Mega Scizor came to mind as both were arguably the best Megas to build around since I had a great amount of experience with using both. However I've only played early ORAS until March 2015 so I didn't know how much the OU metagame changed. After looking at the viability rankings from Smogon, it became very clear Mega Altaria was the best Mega for this format with one of the best defensive typing in the game (Dragon/Fairy), access to a plethora of setup options, and can run multiple sets such as Mono Fairy attack-Dragon Dance, all-out special attacker, or even a cleric set. What sold me into drafting Mega Altaria was its sheer unpredictability it has in the singles metagame so I can easily take advantage of this fact and force my opponents to play the guessing games where I have the advantage. To be completely honest, Mega Altaria alone can carry the team behind her back us because of these traits alone and wouldn't be surprised if it were the main MVP of my team.

Of course, this meant I had to build around Mega Altaria, but the snake style draft setting made me wait awhile until I get my next picks. As mentioned, I could have easily picked up Tyranitar and Excadrill to form a sand core option with massive offensive pressure, however when I saw Weavile wasn't picked yet, I knew I had to draft it onto my team. Weavile was selected to be the dedicated revenge killer with access to priority, STAB Knock Off, Sword Dance to sweep teams, and basically become main offensive presence of the team itself. With 120 attack and 125 speed, Weavile alone can pick off weaken targets and wall-breaks teams if played well. I heard Weavile is currently one of the best revenge killers right now in OU so hopefully Weavile pays off for this league.

For my last OU pick, Hippowdon was chosen to act as the team's main physical wall with access to Stealth Rocks, Whirlwind, Slack Off, and STAB Earthquake. The main reason why Hippowdon was picked was due to my experience using Hippo during XY OU and XY UU so I knew the plethora of defensive and even offensive capabilities it can do. Hippowdown pairs really well with Mega Altaria as it can take any Poison or physical Steel type attacks which threatens my Mega. Ice types would be somewhat problematic, but I have to play around it or get some Fire and Steel type Pokemon in my later picks. Since I didn't pick Excadrill, Hippowdown's Sand Stream ability isn't as needed unless I get to a couple of Pokemon from the NU tier. Basically Hippowdon would run Sand Stream as a means to wear down frail sweepers enough so that Weavile, Altaria, and some of my other sweepers can potentially beat or revenge kill at worse.

UU Draft

I cannot stress how essential it was to draft the main core of my team in the UU tier since none of my top 3 OU members have the best synergy typing wise. Considering I drafted Mega Altaria, a Fire type was required to have a strong response for Steel and Ice types but my main target Pokemon, Arcanine and backup Rotom-H were sniped from me. Fortunately for me, Entei wasn't picked so I scooped of this Pokemon since it still had access to Extreme Speed, Sacred Fire to burn switch ins about 45% of the time, and even Flare Blitz for even more fire power. Man I'm not gonna lie but this was the only pick I was kinda unsatisfied at first since Arcanine had a better movepool with Intimidate while Rotom-H gave me a Will-O-Wisp/Thunder Wave immunity and even a potential Volt Turn core. Entei is just honestly a scare crow for this team as its main task is to burn targets with Scared Fire on the switch ins, take those incoming Ice hits for Mega Altaria and Hippowdon and pick off weaken Pokemon with Extreme Speed.

The 2nd UU pick I was extremely excited to get Shaymin-Land on the team and extremely dumbfounded how it wasn't picked up earlier. Shaymin is essentially my "Mew" or "Celebi" of sorts as it has 100 base stats across the board meaning it can be a special attacker, physical sweeper, secondary cleric, or even a wall if granted. For me there are two main selling points of Shaymin: Seed Flare and Natural Cure Rest combo. Seed Flare is IMO the best Grass move in the game due to its 40% chance to drop target's special defense by about -2 stages, effectively a powerful wallbreaker if it gets those drops. With access to Giga Drain, Air Slash, Earth Power, Dazzling Gleam, Energy Ball, Psychic, Leaf Storm, and Ominous Wind (lets not forget the potential HP Power Types), Shaymin can break some of the sturdiest walls period especially if it gets the Spd drop from Seed Flare. On the support/defensive side Shaymin is no slouch either with access to Leech Seed, Tailwind, Endeavor (Quick Attack), Toxic, Aromatherapy, and Healing Wish. However, since Shaymin's main ability is Natural Cure, it can easily recover up all its health lost with the move Rest, switch out, and come back ready without any sleep ailments. This is  why I was excited to pick up Shaymin as it can come back fully healthy ready to fight again.

For my 3rd UU pick, Empoleon was chosen since I didn't have any way to remove any hazards on the field with either Defog or Rapid Spin. This was especially noted now the team had three Pokemon weak to Stealth Rock, including my Mega Altaria initially before it loses the Flying type for Fairy. Empoleon is unique unlike most Defog users as it has access to Stealth Rock itself so it can attempt to "beat" opposing Stealth Rock setup with Defog and get its own on the field. Empoleon can be used as the team's primary special wall being resistant to 10 types and a relatively ok support movepool with Knock Off, Yawn, Icy Wind, Sleep Talk-Rest, Scald, Roar and Toxic. Offensively Empoleon is no slacker as it can run a potential Petaya berry agility set with Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, Flash Cannon, or even Grass Knot to great effect and has a strong base 111 special attack stat to back up a sweep. Finally with Empoleon on the team, this gave me great partner for Mega Altaria as it can easily switch in for any Poison/Ice moves which Empoleon would take little to no damage at all from those attacks.


Now that I got a FWG core from the UU tier, it was virtually time to patch up my teams weaknesses by getting some bulky walls. Honestly it was really tempting to get Eviolite/Scarf Magneton for my team, but I realized two main flaws which proved otherwise. 1) The team had no switch ins for Fighting or Ground types. Mega Altaria can take these attack but I don't want my Mega to take unnecessary damage and my opponents can easily exploit this by running ice coverage. 2) The team had no "true dedicated" support Pokemon (bar Shaymin) who has access to speed control (Thunder Wave), or maybe even screen options for my Mega Altaria to setup and sweep. Uxie does all of the above and more (as I'll explain later) so it was pick immediately as my first pick for RU. While some might see Uxie as a Poor Man's Cresselia, I see opportunity in this psychic pixie. What differentiates Uxie from Cresselia is it has access to the much needed U-turn, a faster base speed of 95 speed, access to Foul Play to hit physical attacker (especially Ghosts), Stealth Rocks, and a surprisingly "better" coverage both specially and physically. The only thing Uxie lacked was a form of recovery, which I didn't mind too much with an overall defense of 75/130/130. For now, Uxie remains as the team's dedicated support Pokemon who can setup Reflect/Light Screen, Thunder Wave support and provide rare switch initiative with U-Turn.

For the 2nd RU pick I chose Scrafty simply because of familiarity with in my short 3 month time in XY UU. With Dark/Fighting typing, the only super effective hits Scrafty would take are Flying, Fighting, and Fairy type attacks. Scafty is a unique similar to Shaymin and Mega Altaria has it has a great amount of sets to chose from thanks to its three abilities. Moxie complements Scrafty for a potential Dragon Dance set with 3 attacking moves such as Drain Punch for recovery, Knock Off for Dark STAB with item removal, and coverage like the elemental punches, Poison Jab and Stone Edge for coverage. Shed Skin complements a Bulk Up set with Knock Off, Drain Punch, and Rest so it can wake up when hopefully instantly or the following turn thanks to its ability. Intimidate is usually seen in VGC to reduce the attack stat by one stage, a defensive Scrafty set is still  viable as it has  65/115/115 defenses and a wide array of support options from Super Fang, Fake Out and even Counter.  Scrafty definitely pairs well with my RU pick Uxie since both can take hits relatively well and can just form great defensive synergy due Uxie taking on Fighting hits and Scrafty absorbing Ghost and Dark attacks for Uxie.

There was one particular type which breaks my RU draft and its must definitely the   Fairy type. For my last pick, I chose another dedicated support Pokemon, one I've been familiar with since Gen 4 and that's the Steel/Psychic Pokemon Bronzong. I really hate the fact that Game Freak nerf both Bronzong and Metagross since Steel/Psychic use to take neutral Dark and Ghost hits relatively well, but now they can't anymore with the type chart change in Gen 6. Rant aside, I've extremely familiar with Bronzong as a defensive pivot as its only weak to Fire, Ghost and Dark types (if we consider Levitate as its main ability to block Ground type hits). Defensively, Bronzong is somewhat on par with Uxie and Scrafty with 67/116/116 and has an offensive rating of 89/79/33. Bronzong can provide the team with Stealth Rocks, Light Screen/Reflect, Hypnosis, Trick Room, and even Gravity. Offensively it can use Earthquake, hit powerful Gyro Balls, Rock Slide, Psychic and even setup some Calm Minds if needed. Bronzong was drafted since my team was starting to look extremely weak to Fairy types and Bronzong can aid in Entei and Empoleon's efforts to protect the team against them.

NU Draft

At this point I was satisfied with all three of my OU, UU, and RU picks so any of these Pokemon where consider supplemental. Remember when I said Hippowdon really didn't need Sand Stream since the team didn't have access to Pokemon capable of abusing it? Well now its time to patch that up. For my first NU pick I chose Sandslash manly because its fulfilled this role relatively fine. There really isn't not much to say about Sandslash as it offers the team Rapid Spin support, Stealth Rocks STAB Earthquake, both Rock Slide/Stone Edge, Super Fang, Brick Break, Poison Jab, Knock Off for Ghosts, and Sword Dance. While Sandslash is no Excadrill, hopefully I get to use it in some of my matches really soon with maybe a sand sweep.

The second NU draft pick was honestly the only Pokemon I wanted in the NU draft an it was the mighty dog Pokemon introduced in Gen 5 Stoutland. First off, Stoutland is not a bad Pokemon at all just because its somewhat often compared with Snorlax as the premier Normal type in competitive. In no way can Stoutland beat or is better than Snorlax, however lets focus on the positives For starters, Stoutland has access to Intimidate and Sand Rush so now I have a secondary Intimidate Pokemon and Sand Rush user on hand. Stat-wise, Stoutland has a base attack of 110 which is passable and a speed stat of 80 which is a great stat to be in for a weather sweeper. Defensively its no slouch with an above average defense of 85/90/90 so it can take at least one strong neutral hit. Here's a list of notable moves it gets: Superpower, Return, the elemental fangs, Crunch, Play Rough, Rock Tomb, Wild Charge, Thunder Wave, Charm, Pursuit, Yawn and Iron Head. Its really unfortunate Stoutland doesn't have Sword Dance to boost up its high attack stat, but I guess it has to settle being a Sand Rush user that can pick off weaken targets.

My last NU pick was Shiftry as I wanted another relatively fast Pokemon with setup opportunities and can potentially Defog hazards away. Shiftry is somewhat interesting as it has access to both Nasty Plot, Sword Dance, and even Growth with base 90 attack and 80 special attack so it can easily patch up its mediocre stats by double. Offensively it has access to Leaf Storm, Giga Drain, Knock Off, Dark Pulse, Seed Bomb, Low Kick, Quick Attack, Foul Play, Rock Slide, X-Scissor, Focus Blast, and even Explosion.  Not gonna lie but Shiftry was just drafted just to replicate something I hope to do in my future matches. (PS: I already mentioned it).

PU Draft + Trades

This is probably the only section where I'll take a break from giving individual Pokemon analysis for the team so I was fairly confident with my overall draft and anything else was icing on the cake. There wasn't any Pokemon I really wanted for the draft in PU since again wasn't familiar with the tier. Not gonna lie but there was one rule that struck out where weather abilities are allowed, just that the Pokemon has to count for I have a limit of bringing 3 OU Pokemon per battle. The second rule was that no team was allow to carry 2 Pokemon with weather shifting abilities in battle (Charizard Y and Tyranitar) but one of them must carry a non weather ability. Therefore it became clear who I wanted to get...

Ninetales was probably the best draft pick from the PU tier simply because it has access to Drought, powering up Fire moves while weakening Water attacks. Its support movepool is simply amazing since it can setup spread Will-O-Wisp burns, induce sleep with Hypnosis, Power Swap-Overheat, Disable, Foul Play, and Pain Split. Since Ninetales is receiving a additional boost to its added Fire STAB thanks to Drought, its capable of potentially wallbreaking teams by setting up Calm Minds or Nasty plot and just roasting the field with Flamethrower, Solar Beam, Hex, Extrasensory, Psyshock, Overheat, Dark Pulse, etc. I really believe getting Ninetales was a steal in the draft since this gave me two weather modes I can use to great effectiveness with my Sand and Sun core.

Honestly I'm just gonna talk about these two here since I really have no use for them until they were traded.  Swanna was picked up only because I felt the team needs another Water type Pokemon and possibly another Defog user. That's literally all I can think of to be honest. Swoobat was probably the only other pick that I only got just for trade purposes which I'll get to later. I knew for a fact that Swoobat had access to Simple so it can setup a couple of Calm Minds and sweep teams with Stored Power, unless they had a Dark type. Swoobat has some decent coverage like Giga Drain, Heat Wave and even some interesting support moves like Thunder Wave./Trick Room to help the team. If anything, I should have definitely tested Swoobat in battle first, but I realized a couple trade opportunities to take action before people realized.

The first Pokemon I  kinda fucked up and forgot to draft was Clefairy since I needed another Fairy Pokemon who can pair well with Hippowdon. Back in XY OU, I was able to ladder a sand team with Hippowdon,Mega Pinsir, and Clefable up to the 1780s which was a great achievement itself for getting back into competitive after a break to focus on school. Around that time, there was a UU RMT which caught my attention that featured a Clefairy on the team and it was able to do just as much defensive work as her older sister. Basically Evolite Clefairy was almost like Clefable but without the higher HP, Unaware, and a limited item choice. However, in my time in VGC I realize how bulky Clefairy was for taking double target attacks as it Follow Me and redirected enemy attacks to itself. Now it only has to worry about one target so  unless my opponent has a powerful Steel or Poison user, Clefairy isn't going down anytime soon. With access to Soft-boiled, Thunder Wave, Calm Mind, Healing Wish, Encore, Stealth Rocks, and a strong movepool (Flamethrower, Moonblast, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt), Clefairy can be somewhat successful as my Clefable from my XY days. As of right now, I've traded Swanna for Clefairy from the Dallas Dunsparce owned by Princessgamer.

If anyone noticed, I really didn't have any Electric Pokemon on this team and it was rather concerning for several reasons. The team lacked a Volt Switch users so I can effectively gain momentum for someone like Mega Altaria, Entei or Weavile. Second, the team lacked a someone that can hopefully take an Electric hit bar maybe Mega Altaria, Hippowdon, Sandslash, or Shiftry. However it was the lack of a "good Volt Switch" user which concerned me so I looked for trading my Swoobat from something that can fit this description. After looking at the team listings, ItalianG62 had a Raichu on his PU team and as well as a Thundurus-T so I thought maybe he'd trade for my Swoobat. He agreed since Thundurus-T basically outclassed Raichu for his main Volt Switch Pokemon so helped me get an much needed Electric type. Aside from Volt Switch, Raichu can setup with Nasty Plot, use an array of support moves such as Fake Out, Encore, Thunder Wave, and has a good attack movepool with Thunderbolt, Grass Knot, Surf and Focus Blast. I'm not gonna lie that Raichu isn't the best Electric Pokemon but the fact the team was in need of a fast Volt Switch user was reason enough to get Raichu.


So that about wraps up the analysis for the Singles draft and latest trades so I'll discuss my VGC draft team in the next blog post. I do plan on revealing all the teams I used to go to the finals of the Dodrio Cup so be sure to be on the lookout for that piece in the future. Lets go NIDOKINGS!

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