Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Faraway Island Reflections: Major Updates & Personal Thoughts

Wonder where Mew is hiding...?


Before I go and discuss anything further regarding what's been on my mind lately, this is going a rather stretched out than it should be. Might overdo this update, however this has long been overdue considering my absence for the past say 3-4 months until releasing the PFA S2 Finals page mid-April. Most of my time was devoted to finishing the last weeks of the friendly PFA league strong, team building for a potential VGC IRL run  (which failed), making new posts for Pokemon Forever, and other IRL obligations. Unfortunately, I can't discuss every IRL issues here given I don't feel ready to discuss all of these problems to the general public. If there's anything to reflect upon, it's mainly one cannot expect to do things at certain times when 1) there's a lack of motivation, 2) know one's limits, and 3) to plan / schedule ahead. This is where the update post comes in, I'm going to discuss what to expect from me for this page whether its Competitive Pokemon, Sun / Moon News, opinions pieces, Draft-style league events like PFA/CIL, maybe some VGC/Smogon team posts, and etc. 

Funny enough, this update post should have been posted at around last week, however due to a series of laptop crashes and failures (likely on my end), it made me so stressed out to the point I'd said, "fuck it" and gave up. Eventually I'd came to my senses and asked some of my friends from PFA to help. Before continuing forward, shout-outs to ItalianG62 for alleviating these issues to the point I can at least type this post since my 3 year old laptop would crash at any random point. Aside from informing everyone of this, I wanted to start off with that story more so as one of many events have sorta frustrated me to the point you'd give up one the issue and either move on, or in some way deal with it later. If there's one thing I'd learn from that, I need to seek out help when needed and set myself with a clear mindset on what to do on a daily basis.

Faraway Island is not an obligatory thing for me to do, nor am I going to ignore it, or make broken promises of writing 4-5 posts per month since by now I've realized that's no longer a foreseeable constant. For now on, this site will only have at least two posts per month, as minimum with at least one of them being relative to Competitive Pokemon of any fashion. Personally, I'm only working on posting content on this site so everyone can see how much work and involvement I put into arguably my favorite series and competitive format (at least related to esports or other similar competitions). These new posts will be far more polished out and straight to the point, than potential detailing my entire thought processes for say a team build or matchups. If there's any sorta delay, I'll try to make it up for everyone with an extra post or two for the following months, though I'll don't want to get burnt out from making these write-ups.

Now that I've gotten most of the "main news" out of the way, I'd like to discuss and share of my thoughts on certain subject matters since these are the only things that have kept me invested into the greater online Pokemon community. These things might be discuss once in a while when I feel like writing these topics, though the personal opinion posts will not surpass any of the competitive posts.  With all this said, here's the topics I'll be discussing below: VGC, Pokemon Forever, PFA/CIL, and close off with some statements.

VGC: Why the Lack of Content?


At first, I started out out this format with eager to test out potential new teams and began using a Yveltal-Groudon team, which surprisingly enough now became semi-standard by the time writing this post. Then I'd moved on from that team and worked on a Ray-Orge team that's now been published on Pokemon Forever. Honestly the Ray-Orge team was fun for a time until people started to run better answers for it. By the time it was early March, I noticed most of my online friends and an increasing number of VGC players were upset about certain aspects of the format whether its was the "potential" bans on Smeargle/Dark Void, dealing with "Big Six", arguments concerning RNG, overuse of  "Legendary Pokemon". Though a good number of people "left" from participating in the format for these reasons, I also had my reasons as well. What changed my motivation to play VGC 16 was the lack of incentive to do so and personal support to go to events. Based on my location, there aren't as many PCs/events where I live while even if I tried to "schedule" one for myself , I still haven't gotten the full support from my overall family to even attend an event simply on the notion I should focus on more "important" issues which I've argued with but eventually came to an understanding.

Originally, I wanted to compete at Anaheim Regionals where Cybertron eventually won, but the lack of income at the time and slight poor economic situation compared to now made me more "stressed" than what I already was. Of course, one can make arrangements prior (like months beforehand) to attend such events, however for me there's always something that prevents a good experience. For my age, I should have the necessary finances, the resources, and even time available to compete or make an attempt, however I don't have any of those... yet. On one last note, I almost quit playing Pokemon entirely around mid-February simply because I'd became more stressed about attending than doing well (didn't expect to have a positive record... at least). Least just say attempting to have a "serious conversation" with IRL people in your life about a game you played isn't the best way to reason with them. 

To be fair, I don't fault my family at all, rather myself. I should have known better to have seriously consider a possibly first time VGC run without understanding the full implications and responsibility one has to bear. Yes these things can be managed. Even I know VGC players who EV train their Pokemon while going to their local events. Chances are I 100% have to make all my necessary teams before a certain deadline, charge my 3DS to avoid any "Red Flashes", have the money to book a room, have the money and other expenses to pay for like a ride back and forth (yes I don't own a car). I know these are things people eventually get use to over time, however I'm a modest person who maybe wants to aim high, yet fall short. Aside from playing on the Battle Spot Special and Showdown ladder, these are things I typically don't even think about, however I simply don't know how to prepare honestly. Guess the main takeaway my family was telling me all this time was to have a plan, yet I have myself to blame for not starting one. 

Long story short: stress, finances, conflict scheduling with work, and "personal conflicts" kinda forced me to drop VGC 16 out of my plate of formats to play starting early March. I don't fault anyone from my family since the were being mindful of what I typically do in these type of events. This doesn't mean that I given up on the format entirely, as I occasionally give advice I could give to people, follow "start-up" / dedicated VGC channels like Wolfey, Baz Anderson, Kyle Cole, and of course Cybertron. Only recently these past few weeks (Late May) I started taking interest again with seeing a Groudon-Yveltal team from Arash Ormmati and spike in interest following the recent Spring Regional /National events to at least do some Showdown battles. For now, VGC 16 will mostly be a side course here given I don't if people will take interest in what teams I post or my insight (though can't say much regarding what happen between March to Late May). If in case there's a VGC 16 team I "casually" ladder with gets high on the rankings on Showdown, maybe I'll focus on doing a write up in the near future with team explanations. 

Guess the best way to think of this is as an "extended" break until the conditions are right for me to start competing later in the year or the start of the new VGC meta likely based on Sun/Moon. One thing I didn't mention throughout the this segment is how I feel about the format. Personally, there are certain issues were that should have been addressed at some point (Dark Void/Moody), however I follow the rules and won't complain for now. As far as any metagame trends, I haven't paid attention to what's been going on during the time I took a break mainly because the slight increase in stress / depression, work, and League Format (though I enjoy doing these). Now I won't describe what's been going on lately, but for now things better than they were back the beginning of the year.

 Pokemon Forever Sun & Moon Timeline

One of the things I've noticed since doing this long update post is my lack of presence or minor absence in the Pokemon Forever community. Aside GMX, Marcusube, Mudkiplegend, and others, there were few people who posted about VGC 16 or bother mostly because the community isn't too fond of the format. Though there's a small minority who look for my advice for assistance, I feel as though I can't offer the best help since I didn't bother even on the Showdown VGC ladder from March to May. Now the forum community is invested either in working on their own personalized teams for any formats, trading for certain Pokemon, and discussing ideas or news like Pokemon Sun and Moon. With the main community's attention now focused on the eventual released of Sun / Moon, I wanted to focus on making blogposts and even forming a group on Skype/Discord to discuss anything regarding the new games. 

Recently, I came across an idea to make a Pokemon Sun / Moon Timeline of all the major events courtesy from information from the official Pokemon company, the main Japanese affiliates, Game Freak / Nintendo, and to an extend from the fan sites like Serebii / Poke Jungle / Poke Beach. What motivated me to work on this timeline was to have all the relevant information all in one posts (or thread) and have people discuss about their thoughts and ideas regarding any news or rumors.  At the time writing this blog, we've only gotten the following relevant information: a confirmed new generation (Gen 7), the Alola region (based on the Hawaiian Islands), the Alola Starters, first looks at the legendary "sun / moon" Pokemon (based on a lion and  bat / dreamcatcher) and tons of minor screenshots of the new features and towns. Not going to go on an explain each details, however I'd like to focus more so on making updates to the thread there so people can get notified of potential new information.

For now, my time in the Pokemon Forever community will be reserved mostly helping people around as possible (though avoiding trades), assisting people for any concerns regarding their teams, or anywhere else in general. For sure, when Pokemon Sun / Moon information gets released monthly, I'll try to "report" on the matter to the forums so anyone can all have a great discussions about what our impressions and hopes for these games. Eventually, I'll make an overall summary and opinion / review posts about what I feel about the games as we get more information, though I still think this is somewhat lacking compared to how much we got from the entry of XY. Chances are anyone reading this will get to see my opinions on the timeline first, though they might change over time. 

Draft Leagues: PFA

If there's one thing that's honestly helped me continue playing Pokemon at a competitive level, its by watching all these draft-style leagues become increasingly more popular with the exposure from the GBA, UCL, NPA, etc. After the disband of the first PFA league, one of my online friends by the name of MudkipLegend decided to host a second season with all the notable players from the Pokemon Forever and greater JFlynn community. The second season was a success as the LA Nidokings managed to win the first title and eventually MudkipLegend had asked for my help to organize the third season. Most of the season 2 people eventually along as fortunately it only took a few weeks to transition from season 2 to the draft. While I won't explain what happen at the draft (though in due time), there was an increased level of competitions with Alec, ItalianG62, GingerxPug and newcomers like PxGKashHoward, Improved MetaKnight, MarsxVenom, Marcusube, and other people within the Pokemon Forever community. 

 During this time, I'd worked on improving on what we had for the Pokemon Forever Association League spreadsheets into a centralized hub where people can look at all the records, teams, progression, rules, team stats, etc. It was mine as well as everyone's endeavor to make this league as "legitimized" as possible while retaining our roots of having simple competitive battles. To be honest, Season 3 of the PFA League is definitely the best season by far given how people do take the time off their days to prepare for their match ups and still have some level of friendly competition. Now the league is at the end of Week 13 and heading to the fourteenth, or second to last one before the top cut hits around mid June. Everyone I've talked with at least seems fine about how the league is going and anything else is mostly legitimize criticism of how playoff seedings and placements would measure (currently being resolved).

The lack of PFA team analysis and updates here has been dry given how much involvement I've partake from adding stat totals on a daily basis to preparing my own teams. If there is one advantage to this is someone like myself can get to study the patterns of Pokemon usage from each team and have a feeling regarding what they'll likely bring. As far as the current season for the LA Nidokings are doing, I do have the best record with 13-1 only losing to MudkipLgend in a close 0-1 loss which is fine by me. The Nidokings have already clinched playoffs, the top seed, and the best record by now and all we have to do is finish strong. In practicality, I'm surprising not taking the league as "seriously" compared to last season since I usually attempt to "analyze" the ... after-game, or explain to myself what I could have done better.  Though this type of talk is ok, I decided not to pursue this as much given my work / personal schedule and having this same conversation with other PFA members. 

Aside from playoffs, we are looking to expand /improve the quality of the league this upcoming Season 4, likely to drop this July though I'm not sure the exact schedule as well as who's coming back. There are only 14 people in this league and we want to bring that number up by 16, though with certain people leaving, I believe we'll be looking for around 3-6 new players in the PFA. There's major ruleset and draft changes that are being scheduled at this time, though it probably best not to share until I have a "final draft" of the new PFA document. If there's any information I can give out to the public, the PFA, or the name of the league will change to something that fits our current community of people from Skype, Discord, the Pokemon Forever forums, the late Replay community, and others.What the exact name will be I don't know, however there will be an update post for the PFA Season 4 on this blog soon. 

Looking back at our season, there might be an overall draft + regular season summary in the future considering my current LA Nidoking team is drastically different than the one I started with back in late February. This post won't go as in-depth and will be a quick rundown on what happen in those battles,the preparation taken, the key sets I ran, and finally what decided the outcome of the game.  Considering the PFA S3 regular season is far longer than the the Season 2 and all the teams I'd battled, this will be ...another lengthy post to describe the time from February to this June. Finally there will a Playoff / Reflections post like how I did with Season 2 so look forward to that. The LA Nidokings are looking to end with another strong season of great players from the community so this upcoming June will be interesting no doubt.


 Draft Leagues: CIL

As the Season 3 of the PFA comes to a close, the CIL Draft League is just heating up with the level of "casualness" (maybe that joke failed but don't care). At the moment, we are currently 3-0 and second in the league with only Hank the Pidgey having 2 differential points higher and the same record. Just like in the PFA, the Nidokings won't be an easily opponent to face as we head deeper into the regular season. While I'll admit my absence is noticeable in the CIL compared to the PFA,I do come by from time to time in the chat to the middle of a conversations, or likely in GIF exchanges. Honestly feel despite doing well in this league so far, I'm doing my part to at least converse with them with non-Pokemon related stuff, though I'd rather keep some, if not most of my private life to myself for now. Everyone in the league including Mudkip add their own unique experience and life (not IRL) to the league. Maybe I can't get the proper words to explain this, though the CIL league is far more fleshed out than some of the other leagues since everyone knows each other...maybe hate each other who knows? Well I won't over think this. 

Right now, the Nidokings have only used about 3 of their 5 overall transactions to improve the chance of success for our team with Diancie dropped for Empoleon, Uxie for Celebi, and lastly Tornadus-T for Sylveon. All I can say about maybe these trades is the fact that I can finally make a solid Fire-Water-Grass &Steel-Dragon-Fairy core with potentially 4 Pokemon by adding another viable Steel-type in Empoleon and a solid Fairy-type in Sylveon. As far as content goes, there will be summary post similar to how I did with my CIL Draft Analysis, however there's one major catch: there will be only 4 of them for the CIL regular season and maybe 1 last one for Playoffs / Reflections. For the first two posts, there will be a discussion of 3 weeks and as well as the transaction I've made. The final two posts will be rather short, but will run the same format as the previous two weeks detailing the battle preparations, battle analysis and final words about the week. 

There isn't really a whole ton to discuss about the CIL aside from the fact there will be one summary post of the starting three rounds as well as my transactions sections. Everyone in the league are honestly great people and I really hope to get to know them more as great friends in the online Pokemon community.

Closing Thoughts

Regardless if anyone skipped this point, that's basically a rundown of what happen during my time with the Pokemon community without getting too much in detail of my IRL stuff. There was a bit of guilt I felt the more I continued on with my day and not having anything for this site for almost 4 months. For now, Faraway Island will be far more flesh content from my end in the upcoming months especially for the summer. VGC for now I'm going to be taking a time off from this site until I feel like I have something to contribute whether its a team report, using certain play-styles, metagame trends in the recent Spring Regional events, etc. You're best bet for VGC content will be to search at the improved Nugget Bridge as they now host many blogsites of players with their teams and personal thoughts in detail. For my time in Pokemon Forever, I'll continue to post their and help with any advice people need regarding Pokemon and/or the competitive scene. 

As far as any personal actions, I've be updating the Pokemon Sun & Moon Timeline as I continue on throughout the following weeks. If anything, there will be an fleshed out opinion post regarding Sun & Moon in Late June  /Early July, however this will be on the information we know at this point. Both PFA and CIL content on my blog won't die down in the future, rather these section will vamped up with maybe 2 post planned out this next June. Finally I'm going to work hard to help or assist the PFA community as we go on, though I hope nothing serious causes any splits. 

One of the reasons why all of this information and details was arranged into this long post aside from my absence is I wanted to explain, or at least attempt to show that there will be future content for this page provided I'm around. This isn't an end to Faraway Island, rather a start of a new chapter in both my experience with the Pokemon community and myself in general. Thought anything from my IRL will always outweight these events, don't be mistaken as everyone I'm known in the Pokemon community have been great to interact with and I'm looking forward to continue this trend. 

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