Friday, 28 August 2015

I try out something new for a change! "And such..."

Hey Fools!

I've done a voice recording for this installment. Please click on this link to get to my SoundCloud page. If you have the time, please give it a listen and send me whatever feedback you have. If there is an interest in this sorta thing I can certainly do more of it, and potentially even get people like Stephen, Dale and Morné to join me as we talk Pokémon related stuff. It's not necessary to follow/subscribe to the SoundCloud page, as I'll always provide the links in the blog.

Obviously, this first recording-thing (I should find a name for it, frankly) is a bit all over the place, and I now know that there needs to be a structure for this kind of thing in future. So I can certainly plan things a lot better next time!

I also want to mention that the content will be a bit more interesting next time, because I'll make sure that I have more quantity and quality with regard to topics to talk about. Did that last sentence make sense? I doubt it, but anyways :P


Remember to check out Dalehand's Youtube page too!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

My take on the Worlds meta

Hi Fools!

I'm sure we're all excited to see what'll unfold at the World Championships next week: Who'll make it through to day two, who'll be crowned the best VGC player, but most importantly: what Pokémon will be used at Worlds? I feel it's important to note the phrasing of that last point, since I didn't focus on what Pokémon the winner will use per se. Often at Worlds some really interesting Pokémon come out of the woodwork, awesome synergies are thought up, and players make a name for themselves for using really niche, but effective Pokémon.

Last year we had the pleasure of seeing Pachirisu, Sawk, Moltres, Mega Gyarados, Rotom-Mow, Florges, Rotom-Fan (? is it even called that?), Marowak and many others reveal their potential. In a format that was reasonably stale, that's a lot of interesting diversity if you ask me. We can definitely expect to see many more deviations from the mold next week. I asked myself "Why would players want to use seemingly sub-par Pokémon?" Well, certainly because they perform specific roles e.g. make the team less susceptible to Intimidate (by using a special attacker over a physical one with the same typing); have a specific ability (looking at you Clefairy); or they are uncommonly used (read: seen as crap until someone spots its uses) and the opponent doesn't know what that Pokémon is capable of doing.

We saw an unprecedented shift to counter Mega Kangaskhan at Worlds last year. Closely on its heels was the shift to counter Rain which had won a couple of Nationals prior to Worlds and had identified itself as the most threatening archetype in the format. Worlds competitors are the best in the business, I mean it's obvious, otherwise they wouldn't be there. And being the best means they'll be able to make the mature calls and go for something anti-meta, yet still effective. I'll be honest here, when I had learnt that South Africa was eligible to compete at Worlds last, and year having won our Nationals (and thus earning an invite) I knew immediately what team I was going to use: Rain with Mega Kangaskhan. Hopefully you've been following up until this point and have realised that that would have been a horrible choice to make. Majority of the field was stacked against those exact components of my team. I do question whether I would have done well last year... I don't think I would have!

Anyways, what the above ramblings were meant to lead to was this: Worlds will see a rise in Pokémon used to counter the currently popular Pokémon, some of those counters will be less well known and that's really exciting to me. To be more friendly towards the newer players (or if you're just genuinely curious to see what I think) here is my list of big names currently doing the rounds (in somewhat of an order too):

  • Thundurus-Incarnate; since Prankster is such a strong ability, its usage is guaranteed. Add to the fact that Thundurus has really good typing, and we have a winning formula. Taunt and Thunder Wave add consistency and any self-respecting player wants that, especially in the Worlds format. I believe this is a bigger threat than Landorus-Therian, since Lando already has such a huge reticule aimed towards it, and everyone mindlessly knows that Lando needs to be countered.
  • Landorus-Therian; reasonably good typing, great ability, and functional movepool. Just looking at the usage of Scarf Latios is already indicative of the extent that players are willing to go to counter this tiger-esque menace. Choice Scarf is to be expected, until proven otherwise, since Rock Slide is best VGC.
  • Mega Salamence; although it's not my favourite, I do recognise that Mega Sally puts in work. More so than a lot of other Mega Pokémon. It's very versatile in that a physical, special or mixed set is entirely viable, it can nuke a lot of Pokémon in the format, has a good pre-Mega ability and has reasonable coverage moves if you're into that sort of thing.
  • Aegislash; easily the Pokémon to use for a consistent team. Aegislash brings a myriad of resistances to the fore, has a really great ability in that it operates both offensively and defensively in equal portions, it is one of few viable Wide Guard users in the format, its STAB attacks get some of the best coverage in the game and can survive a lot of attacks that do super-effective damage. But you knew all that, didn't you? ;)
  • Mega Gardevoir; having proven its mettle in both US and Japan Nats, Gardevoir has to be on this list. I am personally a huge fan of this Mega, because it has the omnipotent Hyper Voice, great typing, a ridiculous Special Attack stat, can function equally well in and out of Trick Room (and can even set up TR, or can be used to bait the TR bluff),and it can be EVed to survive a lot of threatening attacks.
  • Heatran; once it manages to get a Substitute up, and your Landorus-Therian has been dealt with, GG. Alright, I've exaggerated, but y'all get the idea. For Worlds I personally feel that Flamethrower is the play instead of Heat Wave, since I'd expect a rise in Wide Guard's use. But that could just be me.
  • Mega Kangaskhan; I always feel that Landorus-T can be used to keep Kangaskhan in its place, much like it has with Charizard Y, if Lando is used correctly. It's certainly much less menacing this season than last season, in relative terms, but needs to be here lest we forget.

So, with this knowledge added to our arsenal, let's move onto what are not only Pokémon that have the potential to perform well at Worlds, but are also viable counters to the aforementioned threats.

For this next piece to make sense, I'd like to state that I personally believe that Trick Room will have a good showing at Worlds, I assume bulkier Pokémon will be more common, redirection will be a commonly used tactic, and cheesy tactics like Void Cats won't run rampant.

Escavalier @ Life Orb / Assault Vest / Lum Berry
Ability: Overcoat
Nature: Brave
IVs: 0 Speed
252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD

 - Megahorn / X-Scissor
 - Iron Head
 - Drill Run
 - Protect / Knock Off / Quick Guard (if you're really brave)

I think Escavalier has the potential to threaten a lot of common Pokémon with its good move pool. I haven't deviated at all with the EVs, since there is little need to. Only Fire attacks can OHKO it, and not necessarily everyone will run this in a Rain team, so I felt further justified in not fiddling with the EVs. Overcoat easily renders Amoonguss helpless, and since I feel redirection will be commonplace, it will pay out good returns. Lum Berry is to work around burns, and Assault Vest is to improve longevity of Escavalier.

252+ Atk Life Orb Escavalier Megahorn vs. 220 HP / 172 Def Cresselia: 221-265 (99.1 - 118.8%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO -- Megahorn isn't the most reliable of moves due to its poor accuracy, but if your risk appetite allows it, I think this will be a great choice.

252+ Atk Life Orb Escavalier Drill Run vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Aegislash-Blade: 231-273 (138.3 - 163.4%) -- guaranteed OHKO  --- Knock Off also gets the OHKO on Aegislash-Blade, and out of Trick Room, Escavalier will underspeed Aegislash which is exactly what you want.

252+ Atk Life Orb Escavalier Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Mega Gardevoir: 190-226 (108.5 - 129.1%) -- guaranteed OHKO -- Iron Head is the Fairy punisher and will pretty much demolish all Steel weak Fairies.

252+ Atk Life Orb Escavalier Drill Run vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Shuca Berry Heatran: 130-153 (65.6 - 77.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO -- disappointing that it doesn't get the OHKO through Shuca, but that is to be expected.

Defensively speaking, Escavalier doesn't perform well against Fire-types as previously mentioned, evident from the following:

252 SpA Expert Belt Charmander Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Assault Vest Escavalier: 178-216 (100.5 - 122%) -- guaranteed OHKO ;)

Rotom-Heat @ Sitrus Berry / Choice Scarf / Safety Goggles
Ability: Levitate
Nature: Modest / Bold

Bold: 252 HP / 100 Def / 100 SpA / 4 SpD / 44 Speed

 - Will-O-Wisp
 - Overheat
 - Protect
 - Thunderbolt

With this spread Landorus-T's Rock Slide is a 3HKO, and Rotom outspeeds neutral-nature max-speed base 60s.

252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 252 HP / 100 Def Rotom-H: 66-78 (42 - 49.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery.

I'm not the largest Rotom advocate around, but some people like it and do well with Rotom. I think Sitrus Berry is a good choice for it, since R-H can stick around and spread some more of that burning love.

On the other hand a less defensive version, more offensive option is perfectly viable, as R-H gets reasonable coverage with Fire, Electric and HP Ice.

Starmie @ Choice Scarf  i.e. anything that can learn Ice Beam and use a Choice Scarf
Ability: Natural Cure 
Nature: Modest
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Speed

 - Ice Beam
 - Psychic
 - Power Gem
 - Hydro Pump / Scald

To be perfectly honest, Starmie is only here because it outspeeds and OHKOs both bulkier Landorus-T and Mega Salamence. Something like Tentacruel could easily pull off the same job, just getting a different STAB. I don't think anyone will use Starmie, but if I had qualified, I think I would have used it...

Natural Cure removes paralysis upon switching out, and the other abilities weren't really all that impressive. Starmie is one of few Pokémon that actually learn Power Gem, so I threw it in there for the coverage.

252+ SpA Starmie Ice Beam vs. 252 HP / 100 SpD Landorus-T: 204-240 (104 - 122.4%) -- guaranteed OHKO

252+ SpA Starmie Ice Beam vs. 100 HP / 84 SpD Mega Salamence: 188-224 (102.7 - 122.4%) -- guaranteed OHKO

252+ SpA Starmie Psychic vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Mega Blaziken: 168-200 (108.3 - 129%) -- guaranteed OHKO

252+ SpA Starmie Power Gem vs. 244 HP / 4 SpD Mega Charizard Y: 152-180 (82.6 - 97.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Conkeldurr @ Assault Vest / Lum Berry / Sitrus Berry
Ability: Iron Fist / Guts
Nature : Adamant
IVs: 15 or less Speed IVs to underspeed Aegislash and unleash a super-effective Dark-type attack when it's in Blade forme
EVs: 164 Atk / 196 HP / 148 SpD (this is a very simplified EV spread, look here for a better one)

 - Drain Punch
 - Mach Punch 
 - Ice Punch / Wide Guard / Protect
 - Knock Off / Payback

Conkeldurr is such a reliable Pokémon. It has a good Attack stat (140 base), good-ish defences (105 HP, 95 Def and 65 SpD), takes care of Mega Kangaskhan like no-one's business (with 164 Atk EVs Mach Punch is a guaranteed 2HKO on 4 HP Mega Kangaskhan), it can be EVed to survive a lot of Fairy attacks too. I hope this guy has a good showing at Worlds, because I personally feel it deserves to. It also painlessly takes care of Tyranitar too, and with a bit of patience can also overcome Heatran.

252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 196 HP / 0 Def Conkeldurr: 157-187 (76.5 - 91.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

164+ Atk Iron Fist Conkeldurr Drain Punch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 168-200 (92.8 - 110.4%) -- 56.3% chance to OHKO

252+ SpA Mega Gardevoir Moonblast vs. 196 HP / 148 SpD Assault Vest Conkeldurr: 164-194 (80 - 94.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

164+ Atk Iron Fist Conkeldurr Mach Punch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tyranitar: 168-204 (95.4 - 115.9%) -- 75% chance to OHKO

Tryanitar @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Sand Stream
Nature: Jolly
4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Speed

 - Ice/Fire Punch / Ice Beam 
 - Rock Slide
 - Crunch / Assurance
 - Superpower

Despite being very well popular at the moment, Tyranitar has a way of always showing up at Worlds and perfoming really well. That's definitely due to its glorious base stats! and its middling speed so it can function either in or out of TR should it be 'trained' that way. With the first slot, I was trying to show that Ttar can run a lot of coverage moves. Whatever your team is lacking in, this can definitely help patch that up. With 'Japan Sand' doing the rounds, Ttar was on everyone's radar going into the Nationals events (Arash did really well with it in the UK and placed 2nd!) and I think some saw the opportunity to run Politoed as a suitable counter-measure. As I had identified in the former part of this article, Thundurus-I is a big Pokémon to counter. Rock-types like Tyranitar and Lum Berry Terrakion will make short work of Thundy.

Weather always plays an important part in team building, whether that be as an archetype, or building to counter. Removing the advantages your opponent has is always a good idea, and I feel that Ttar is the best at being the most easy 'weather setter' to slot into a team.

Milotic (F@ Maranga Berry / Sitrus Berry / Leftovers
Ability: Competitive
Nature: Bold 
244 HP / 156 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 100 Speed

 - Icy Wind / Ice Beam
 - Scald
 - Protect
 - Recover

Competitive is where it is! Milotic is a really defensive choice, and can add support in the form of Icy Wind speed control. With 100 Speed EVs, Milo outspeeds 252 neutral nature base 100s (like Kangaskhan) after an Icy Wind drop. I think Wolfe (and I'm sure he wasn't the first) was really clever in using Maranga Berry, as it allows Milotic to heavily invest in Defence without having to focus too much on the Special Defence spectrum. I believe a noticeable increase in Milotic's usage will be witnessed in Boston. However, I could be totally off with that calculation since I'm not really all that good at predicting what others will think. I certainly think a solid Milotic counter will be needed and I look forward to see what the Worlds competitors bring to handle this lusty lady of the lake.

Otherwise, I'm not too sure what the EVs do to be honest (very poor workmanship on my part, I know), but it does survive Mega Kangaskhan's Double Edge.

252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 244 HP / 156+ Def Milotic: 153-181 (76.1 - 90%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

252+ SpA Mega Charizard Y Solar Beam vs. 244 HP / 4 SpD Milotic: 144-170 (71.6 - 84.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Here's my Hail Mary for the article:

Regigigas @ ... 

lol jk. I'm not sure what sort of spread, or moveset to use outside of Wide Guard.
With an ability like Slow Start, it's tough to want to invest in Regi's promising Attack and Speed stats. Worry Seed, anyone?

Well Fools, that's all I have for today. This was a real mammoth article for me to write, so I hope you have at least found it lime, if not sublime! If you have any comments, don't hesitate to post 'em (really, we hardly ever get any :'D ). See you sometime after next week so we can discuss what happened at Worlds.


Monday, 10 August 2015

Special doubles format Battle Spot team + Mega Sharpedo

Hey Fools!

This addition will be a short one, but I'd like to post it anyway. Last year when the Special format that prevented the top 20-most-commonly-used-Pokémon came out, I was too busy to play it (and didn't really give a hoot about it either). However, after hearing that people had a lot of fun with the format, I knew that I couldn't allow myself to miss out again.

To be entirely frank, I'm not really moved by BS Special Season 11. Sure, it's nice to not see Landorus-T on every second team! However, when I struggle to find matches both on Showdown and on Battle Spot, it sort of ruins the fun of it all...

So I have obviously been left with no strong opinion of this team, or the format for that matter, although I do like the individual members of the team a lot.

Nidoking (M) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Sheer Force
Level: 50
EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Naive Nature
- Ice Beam
- Earth Power
- Sludge Bomb
- Rock Tomb

After seeing Nidoking in a recent NB article, I was interested in using it and this was a great opportunity to do so. However, with Sylveon, Gardevoir, Aegislash and Landorus-T not being usable in this format, Nidoking was seldom brought with to matches. When a counter is used for specific Pokémon, and those targeted Pokémon (let's call them 'countees') aren't brought, then the aforementioned counter is of diminished value.

Jellicent @ Lum Berry
Ability: Cursed Body
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 156 Def / 4 SpA / 100 SpD / 4 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Protect
- Scald
- Will-O-Wisp
- Recover

Longing for a decent Ghost-type, I turned to Jellicent. It can pull its weight around, for sure. But, when Dark-type Pokémon hit the field I'm really inclined to eject Jelli outta there!

Zapdos @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Pressure
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 100 Def / 20 SpA / 100 SpD / 44 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def
- Tailwind
- Thunderbolt
- Roost
- Hidden Power [Ice]

Having lost Thundurus, I was longing for an Electric/Flying-type surrogate. Having used Zapdos a lot in the previous season, it fell right into place on this team.

Lopunny @ Lopunnite
Ability: Limber
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Protect
- Fake Out
- Return
- Low Kick

My favourite Mega outside of Charizard-Y at the moment. Lopunny is an absolute babe, and it's on this team purely for aesthetic purposes /s. Triggered!

Hydreigon @ Choice Specs
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 24 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 224 Spe
Modest Nature
- Earth Power
- Dark Pulse
- Draco Meteor
- Fire Blast

I'm not too big a fan of Hydreigon, but with its main threats out of the format (being Gardevoir and Sylveon especially) this Dark/Dragon-type shone incandescently. Dreigon hits hard and reasonably fast. I'm pretty sure this tank would be considered at least A+ tier in this format.

Blaziken @ Life Orb
Ability: Speed Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 44 Atk / 220 SpA / 244 Spe
Hasty Nature
IVs: 30 HP / 30 Def
- Protect
- Overheat
- Superpower
- Hidden Power (Ice)

Not an awful lot to comment on here. Hasty is the best nature for this guy. Trust me, I'm a genius.

Well, that's a wrap for the team fellow Fools! But, before I sign off, I'd like to share a piece on Mega Sharpedo.

Mega Sharpedo @ Sharpedoite
Ability: Speed Boost -> Strong Jaw
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant nature

 - Protect
 - Ice Fang
 - Waterfall
 - Crunch

Well, the moveset and EV spread are nothing surprising at all. And here's the best part: they don't need to be! Once 'Pedo has fired off a Speed Boost, it outspeeds Choice Scarf Adamant Lando-T and gets the OHKO with Ice Fang even at -1:

-1 252+ Atk Strong Jaw Mega Sharpedo Ice Fang vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Landorus-T: 188-224 (113.9 - 135.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
Please note that Waterfall does not get an OHKO at -1 on Landorus-Therian.

And, while not nearly as impressive as the above calculation, here is Crunch against a commmon Cresselia spread:

252+ Atk Strong Jaw Mega Sharpedo Crunch vs. 220 HP / 172 Def Cresselia: 176-210 (78.9 - 94.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Naturally, no Pokémon in VGC/Doubles lives in a bubble. It has teammates and opposing Pokémon that need to be thrown into the formula too. That's why I think it's really important to team Sharpedo up with some strong support Pokémon.
Volcarona, Clefairy and Clefable all do well in supporting Sharpedo do its thing in the form of redirection. I'm not sure how well Pachirisu would function here, but it could certainly be worthwhile testing. I would personally recommend Clefairy, since the Friend Guard boost to Sharpedo's defences is much appreciated. In most instances Clefairy will be using Helping Hand as one of its 4 moves. With the HH boost, Sharpedo gets the OHKO on the aforementioned Cresselia! 

252+ Atk Strong Jaw Mega Sharpedo Helping Hand Crunch vs. 220 HP / 172 Def Cresselia: 266-314 (119.2 - 140.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO

That's a reasonably convincing OHKO at that.

EDIT: Also, I find it really funny that I posted this Sharpedo section the day before the Worlds distribution event is revealed to be a Sharpedo with Destiny Bond, and comes in that super sexy Cherish Ball. Hot damn, son! If anything this truly is divine intervention informing us all to go out and use Sharpedo ;)

So, maybe next time you're looking for something uncommon to test, give Sharpedo a shot!

Thanks for reading!

2nd EDIT: If you get the time and are keen to see some new Youtube content, my friend Dale has just started his own channel with Battle Spot battle vids being uploaded regularly. Here's the link. <---