Monday, January 4, 2016

PFA: Week 8 Vs Schenectady Sceptiles

Week 8: Vs ItalianG62

Schenectady Sceptiles Roster (5-2) : Mega Venusaur, Heatran, Rotom-W, Lucario, Salamence, Metagross, Rhyperior, Typlosion, Spiritomb, Weezing, Lapras, Cradily

LA Nidoking Roster (7-0): Manaphy, Jirachi, Mega Manetric, Crobat, Roserade, Arcanine, Druddigon, Uxie, Scrafty, Electivire, Regirock, Articuno

The end of the year is here (about a week ago...) however that won't stop the LA Nidokings from defeat with a great 7-0 record. This week we face off against the player with the best record from his division, ItalianG62 and his  (5-2) Schenectady Sceptiles. While Italian might not have the best record among the league, he still leads his division while there were about 3 other teams (Indianpolis Jolts, Goldenrod City Glailes, Mesa Macargos) with 5-2 and in my league. Out of all those matches I've played this week, the Schenectady Sceptiles might be the most diffiult to break down given his team has a fantastic wall core in Mega Venusaur, Heatran, Rotom-W, Rhyperior, Spiritomb, and Cradily paired with offensive juggernauts like Lucario and Salamence who both lead the league in kills. Just Mega Venusaur-Heatran-Rotom-W alone  can help wall most of my team and Mega Venusaur/Cradily/Lapras threatens my Manaphy from sweeping his team. Obviously I can't forget about the other two threats in Lucario and Salamence since both can easily wall-break my team provided they get setup first with Sword Dance/Nasty Plot/Dragon Dance. Spiritomb was another Pokemon I looked over multiple times given its the only Pokemon who beats the one Pokemon who can wall-break his team (I'll get to that specific Pokemon in a bit). Typlosion was another offensive threat to look at, however I doubt he bring it with my Arcanine, Druddigon, and Manaphy at hand. As for other threats from the Sceptiles, Lapras/Cradily might make an appearance just to wall the Manaphy. 

For this week, I did a comparison of all the Pokemon from Italian's team based on Base Stat Totals to mine (done below) and found out that his team has an slight edge with more HP/Def , as well as significant amount of Atk/SpA compare to the Nidoking roster. While Italian had an advantage in most stats, the Nidokings had a better Sp Def. compared to the Sceptile, and a whopping 20 point difference in speed. Of course I'm not forgetting about the idea of Italian using priority like Spirtomb, Metagross, and Lucario (well Rotom-W, Typlosion, Lapras do have priority of sorts though lacking), or the potential scarfers like from either Rotom-W, Salamence, or Typlosion. The rest of Italian's team would likely bunker down against my attacks since none of them can outspeed most of my own team baring Druddigon, Scrafty, or Regirock. What I mean by this statement is my team is naturally faster and Italian would have to run a significant amount of speed investment to outspeed even a couple of my Pokemon. In the end, I made a gamble to run defensive spreads for most of my team thinking Italian would likely have one scarfer, one nautrally fast mon, and the rest of the team defensively oriented. Now here are the stats below. 

Italian's Schenectady Sceptiles

LA Nidokings

Now I'll go over who I brought for this week's match.
  • A specially defensive leftovers Manaphy with Scald, Psychic, Calm Mind, and Substitute. At first, I'd thought about bringing an offensive Manaphy with Tail Glow + Energy Ball  (funny enough I haven't used the move all season), but Scald + Psychic were good enough for this matchup. I did speed creep my Manaphy a bit in case any of his Pokemon tried to do so, however did invest significantly into HP/SpDef. Anyone might be wondering " Oh Kevin, why did you invest into Sp Def and not Def like most CM variants in any format. Well my reasoning is because after 2-3 CM boost, not even defensive Wash Rotom, Cradily, Lapras, or even Mega Venusaur can break Manaphy's Substitute. I did debate about Scald vs Surf, and while Surf does more damage, Scald burns can help this setup... and I don't get randomly frozen. Yeah I don't want a repeat of what happen to Pokeaim V Adrive but Manaphy is just the main special defensive anchor of the team so I might not need it as much compared to my other Pokemon. 
  • For this week, I've decided to bring a physically defensive Leftovers Jirachi with ...again Psychic, Moonblast, Substitute, and Calm Mind. OK you might be wondering why I'd bring Jirachi for this battle, however its a no-brainer for me as it can handle most of Italian's squad with the proper moveset. In the end, I chose Jirachi to be the team's main win condition, not Manaphy. Jirachi's has to setup against one of his Pokemon (likely either M-Venusaur, Lapras (can't learn Scald), Cradily, or on the switch in. The idea here is to setup Jirachi once everything on Italian's team is weak, or at a breaking point so where after 2 CMs Jirachi can wall break. Psychic is Jirachi's main STAB for his team and Moonblast was chosen in case Jirachi has to face off against Spiritomb or Salamence. One last thing to mention is Moonblast with Serene Grace has a 60% chance to drop the SpA stat of a Pokemon by one stage and given that Italian's likely switch ins will be special attackers, their damage output from special moves will drop considerably against my own bulky team.
  • Returning permanently for the rest of the season, we have the lovely Technician Roserade with Expect Belt as its main item chose and the following moveset: Giga Drain, Dazzling Gleam, HP Ground, and Spikes. If I said that Jirachi was my main win con, Roserade is the initiator for this team matchup given it can wall Rotom-W thanks to its Sp Def and access to Technician HP Ground to hit Heatran, Typlosion, Lucario, Metagross, and Rhyperior for some good chip damage or even OHKOs for a couple mention here. Dazzling Gleam is coverage for Spiritomb or Salamence (can OHKO with Rocks) in case either switch in an taste a strong Fairy coverage. Giga Drain is STAB for any other Pokemon, notably the Rhyperior or Rotom-W to regain a bit of HP. Now Spikes was really important in this match as only Salamence has the move Defog so his Italian elects to Defog my hazards away while Roserade is on the field, I can easily go for the Dazzling Gleam and get an OHKO.  Otherwise the goal for my Grass-type Pokemon is to get as much Spikes as possible as it will severely reduce his wall cores effectiveness, put LO Lucario on a timer, and allow for a potential sweep from any of my mons here. 
  • After a great performance last week, Crobat hits the field again with enough speed only to outspeed the rest of hist base 100 Pokemon (non-scarf s/boosted). This week, Crobat has the item Sky Plate to boost the power of its Brave Bird attacks with the remaining moveset being Super Fang to leave any Pokemon at 50% HP, U-Turn for switch initiative, and finally Roost for recovery. As anyone can see, Crobat can at least do 50% to any of Italian's Pokemon with the combination of Sky Plate Brave Bird or Super Fang, however I'd first want to rely on Super Fang first for chip damage. Pair Super Fang with all the hazards from I'll bring, Crobat can help both wear down Italian's team, and finally clean up with Sky Plate Brave Birds. 
  • This week, physically defensive Uxie returns yet again to act as the team's main response to Salamence, Metagross, and Lucario with a moveset of Stealth Rocks, Psychic, U-turn, and Foul Play. Reason that I brought Uxie for this week is that I don't want any of my mons to take on either three of Italian's UU  Pokemon until I can confirm their sets in general. Stealth Rocks is useful for hazards, Psychic is generally for Mega Venusaur/Weezing, and Foul Play if he tried to setup with either Salamence or Metagross (note Lucario can have Justified). The last moveslot I debated heavily what to pick between Toxic, Energy Ball, Memento, or even Calm Mind again, but I settled for U-turn since switch initiative might make a difference in this battle. 
  • Last, but certainly not least we have our pivot for Heatran/Rotom-W in Lum Berry Druddigon with the ability Mold Breaker and the following moveset: Dragon Claw, Earthquake, Glare, and Taunt. This Pokemon is mainly to handle Rotom-W since I really don't know what set it can have and Druddigon is my main response for it. If any of his three Pokemon (Wash Rotom, Heatran, or Weezing) attempt to Will-O-Wisp it, Druddigon can eat its Lum Berry, and hit a strong Earthquake against these threats. Glare is to paralyze any Pokemon from his team, though mainly those who are fast like Lucario, Heatran, Salamence, etc. If Druddigon is against Mega Venusaur, then I'd probably go for Glare to 1) slow it down for Druddigon and 2) to allow Jirachi/Manaphy an easier setup fodder it Venusaur gets paralyzed. 

The Match: 3JTW-WWWW-WW3A-NX6U

Schenectady Sceptiles Roster Brought to Battle : Mega Venusaur, Heatran, Rotom-W, Lucario, Salamence, Cradily

TEAM PREVIEW: So looking at Italian's team, he brought his mostly OU/UU team again + Cradily so I immediately deduced Cradily/Heatran would lead to get off rocks immediately, so chose Uxie to lead and follow suit. Italian brought his FGW core and both his heavy hitters so my plan is to get Spikes + Stealth Rocks as fast as possible to wear down his team. Rotom-W had to be scouted for sure given if its either a defensive, Scarf, Specs, or any sorts of item/moveset will determine the outcome of the battle. Heatran and Lucario can't switch in on Roserade due to the power of  Expert Belt Technician HP Ground will either weaken them, or net OHKOs. Essentially as long as I don't let Italian get to comfortable with his defensive core or let Lucario/Mence sweep me then I should be able to hold out. 

The match starts off as expected: Uxie V Cradily and we both exchange rocks the first time. Fearing a potential Toxic, I switch out Uxie with U-turnto get  Roserade in to block the potential Toxic as Cradily goes for Ancient Power to get the 10% stat raise. I predicted the Cradily to switch out to either Heatran or Lucario as I revealed HP Ground (or maybe not since it was neutral damage) and crits the Cradily as it goes for another Ancient Power. As Roserade setups its first layer of Spikes, Cradily gets the Ancient Power boost against my Roserade and now the battle is now hit a stone wall for me. Basically I have to lose all my momentum and potential deal with Cradily with either Jirachi or Druddigon. Jirachi was likely going to be the one to win me the game as Druddigon seems useless and can Glare or Dragon Tail Cradily out. Roserade gets a second layer of Spikes, however Ancient Power at +1 leaves Roserade to where another one will OHKO so I now have to decide if Roserade is important for the match, or I sack it to get all my hazards on the field. 

Roserade was saved for Rotom-W as Druddigon switches in to take an Ancient Power from Cradily doing an OK amount of damage. Then I realize I don't have Dragon Tail on Druddigon foolishly enough and I'm forced to Glare Cradily so it my Jirachi has time to setup. Cradily outspeeds Druddigon as I Glare the fossil Pokemon down and its now paralyzed. At this point, Druddigon has lost too much HP to where it can handle Rotom-W or Heatran so I decided to go for repeated Dragon Claws as Cradily takes me out with an Ancient Power. I switch into Roserade thinking maybe Italian's Cradily has lost all its Ancient Power PP so I Giga Drain to scout for Earth Power. Here's is where the battle shifts in my favor, as I Giga Drain the Cradily to get decent damage off  as it receives a critical hit and a full paralysis on the same turn. Now the Cradily is at around 10-15% health so I can finish it off with a Giga Drain, but I settled to get up the last layer of Spikes and 1v1 the Cradily somehow. Roserade goes for Spikes as Cradily yet again gets paralyzed. This is unfortunate for my opponent as now he's sorta forced to sack off the Cradily despite the stat boost from Ancient Power, so I go Giga Drain as Cradily lives with a sliver of HP and goes for Giga Drain. I'm under the impression Cradily doesn't carry Earth Power as it could have killed my Roserade the same turn, and even so likely stalled out all the Ancient Power boost.

Finally, Cradily goes down as Heatran switches in for my opponent. Realizing Roserade has done its job of setting up hazards, I go for a last ditch HP Ground to kill the Heatran as it goes for Earth Power... and doesn't kill Roserade. My Pokemon gets off an HP Ground and with Heatran taking 37.5% damage with hazards is a clean OHKO. Even though with all the trouble with Cradily, Roserade had just broken down 1/3ths of Italians team, both of which were huge threats to my Jirachi and Manaphy, and setup all its Spikes. Lucario is sent out, however takes about 31.25% damage so if Lucarios is Life Orb as well, it has to setup Sword Dance immediately against my Roserade. I make a risk and switch into Uxie as Lucario goes for the safe Extreme Speed play as HP Ground can OHKO Lucario from that range. Lucario does reveal it has Life Orb so Italian kinda has to sack Lucario given it won't survive too long with hazards + Life Orb recoil or send in Rotom-W to take the hit. 

Here's is where I believe the turning point of the battle was decided: Lucario is switched out for Rotom-W as Uxie's Psychi crits Italian's switch in and is now hovering around 50% ( I'll explain why this crit matter more than the parahax and the other crits against Italian). Pretty much the critical hit on Rotom-W confirmed to me that it was likely an offensive variant so I decided to U-turn to the 17 HP Roserade and sack it off to either rocks or the incoming attack. There was a chance that Rotom-W goes for either Pain Split to recover back some HP while deal damage to Uxie, however I took the risk anyways and I did outspeed his Rotom-W inflicting more damage. Roserade faints to hazards as Rotom-W reveals Shadow Ball so Italian wanted to damage my Uxie for a likely Salamence sweep. Jirachi is sent out since I cannot risk either one of my Pokemon since they were too important for the end game. Here I go for Moonblast and it does knock out the Rotom-W and now Crobat can likely clean up the game. Lucario is sent out, however it takes more hazards damage. Jirachi is saved for Salamence and Mega Venusaur as Uxie basically comes in on the Earthquake, and take little damage aside from the opposing Stealth Rocks. 

Lucario switches out (likely rendered useless now) and Salamence switches in to take a Psychic + Steath Rocks damage. I did notice that Salamence has Intimidate so he cannot get Moxie boost if any of my Pokemon faints to Mence. Here there wasn't any reason NOT to go for Foul Play as Salamence attempts to boost with a Dragon Dance, and faints subsequently. Now the game is "won" and at this point I can play safe and fire repeated Psychics at both Lucario (who likely dies with one LO recoil hit) and Mega Venusaur (who takes about 37.5% with rocks). Venusaur is sent out, takes a ton of hazard damage to where two Psychics 2HKO Venusaur, and does so. Lucario is sent out and Italian goes for a final one last attack with Close Combat, knowing full well Uxie can take any hit. With that the LA Nidokings expand to a 8-0 win streak (longest in the league as Italian falls to 5-3 for Week 8. 

Thoughts: The Parahax and Crits

First off, after watching the replays and talking with Italian about each other sets, I can somewhat tell that I definitely got lucky against both the Cradily and the Rotom-W. Now against the Cradily, I didn't think he'd bring it over something like Lapras, however it became annoying following the Ancient Power boost which changed the momentum of the battle to his favor. The Glare from Druddigon definitely helped me win the game as I was able to stop the Cradily from potentially outspeeding my entire team with another boost. There was some thoughts that if this Cradily gets additional boost (unlikely but possible), then I'd be in a terrible position considering most of my team were slow (not not that slow). Essentially just think of this way, if Cradily "DID" get additional boosts (remember these are all its stats bar HP, but with recovery in Giga Drain), it could have done enough damage to where Salamence + Lucario sweeps with Mega Venusaur and Rotom-W where there as backups. 

Yes I'll admit the parahax was unfortunate, however I did expect only one parahax to occur, not two consecutive ones and a crit Giga Drain on top of it all. The reason why Roserade was sent in the first place despite the low amount of HP was because I needed to scout for either Earth Power or one last Ancient Power boost. Now after the game I did count that Italian got all his Ancient Power boost, but at the time I didn't and could not risk Crobat to come in. During the times Cradily was paralyzed is when Italian attempted to Recover (hence no Earth Power) as I got fortunate with the parahaxs + crit. When Italian went for Giga Drain, honest is when I think he should have went for Recover, though maybe he wanted to sack it off for Heatran to come in. Speaking of the Heatran turn,  Italian told me he thought Earth Power would be safe and knock out the Roserade from where it was at. Roserade lives and OHKOs Heatran with an Techician HP Ground, so on that point he should have went for Flamethrower for the safe play as he would still have Heatran, though severely weaken with hazards damage. In the end, I think Heatran had one more switch in before a third switch knocks it out with all the spikes + rocks hazards against Italian. 

Now here's where the I think the hax mattered: Uxie getting a crit Psychic against Rotom-W. Now the reason why I say this is because while Cradily could have recovered off the damage when it was able to move, Rotom-W wasn't defensive, rather an offensive Specs variant. This meant that Rotom-W could in fact help bring Italian back in the game, however the excessive damage was too much for Rotom-W. Honestly, I would have either chose to sack my Roserade off given it really didn't do much in that matchup and already low on HP. Rotom-W might have been at 50%, however I think the fact that 1) Uxie outsped Rotom-W as it was locked into Shadow Ball and still had Jirachi, Manaphy, and Crobat in the back healthy meant I can probably win the game with either one of these Pokemon. If Rotom-W had lived the Moonblast, there was a strong likelihood I'd get the 60% SpA drop and can tell if it were Specs (unlike after the battle). 

In the end, hax did play a role in this battle (largely towards my favor), however the planning definitely came through almost perfect with the hazard stacking since it would chip away at Italian's bulky team. The plan was technically to wear him down and prevent any setup with his team by having most of my Pokemon take on his two offensive threats in Lucario and Mence. If anything, I think Italian did catch me off with the Cradily since it did get two kills one Druddigon and Roserade from hazards so it did some work for his side. Roserade was the MVP of the battle overall...and no its not because of the hax. Rather Roserade was able to beat Cradily and Heatran in 1v1 matchups, and get all layers of Spikes to which paired with Stealth Rocks just tore through his team. Uxie got 3 kills (yes I'm count the LO damage on Lucario as a SU for now), and practically walled his entire team. Salamence didn't get a single hit off, as Uxie knocked it out with a +1 Foul Play from his Dragon Dance boost. Uxie did receive help with the hazards to maintain the mini sweep, however it punished most of Italian's team with constant residual damage from Psychic/U-turn/Foul Play. I did mention earlier that I thought I had Dragon Tail on Druddigon, but that was a mistake in battle as once Dragon Tail hit (if I had it) could have only only forced out the Cradily, but also changed the direction of the battle completely depending on who got phazed in. 

Closing Thoughts

In the end, we played well and got some lucky breaks in the battle which were unfortunate for Italian especially the critical hits. Honestly, both me and Italian will likely face off in playoffs since given the playoff positioning atm, I might have to face him at one point so I'm looking forward facing him. In terms of playoff seeding, the top 8 teams of the 12 get in so technically with an 8-0 record the LA Nidokings just either clinched a spot or need one more win to do so. I really want to end the season off with an 11-0 record and remain undefeated in the regular season, however there's one team that can prevent this so we'll see about that. In the meantime, we face off against Mitch, El Miguel VGC, and GingerxPug who are all likely playoff contenders so I'll see how the LA Nidokings fair against them.