All posts by m4gnation

Every Granbull has its Day

by Dillon P

 

Every time I look at Granbull, I imagine Denis Leary’s ladybug character from “A Bug’s Life” yelling “So! Being a ladybug automatically makes me a girl! Is that it?!” I’m sure Granbull didn’t ask to be a Fairy type, but we can’t deny the benefits it has brought him.

With the introduction of the meta-balancing Fairy type in Generation 6, many Pokemon were renovated with this new type, either having it added to its original typing or replacing its old typing completely. Snubbull and Granbull were subject to such a change, as their Normal typing was changed to Fairy. This new typing gave the often forgotten Granbull new life in a battling format heavily focused on Fairy types and their new potential roles. However, as many Fairy types were brought to the top of Smogon tier ratings, Granbull to this day is still lagging behind in the Rarely Used tier. Granted, Granbull does very well in this tier, but many players that focus on higher tiers may not be accustomed to the true utility this Pokemon has. Especially in a league format, Granbull’s constant overlooking can be detrimental to anyone foolish enough not to be scared of this thing.

The core of any Pokemon’s usefulness competitively is its stat distribution. Granbull has mediocre defense and special defense stats at 75 and 60 respectively, and an even lower speed stat at 45. However, Granbull packs quite the punch with it’s massive 120 attack, a base attack overshadowing higher-tier Pokemon such as Krookodile, Lucario and even Entei.

Of course, an impressive attack stat isn’t enough to warrant much attention from the competitive community. But luckily for Granbull, it has several ways to counter its shortcomings. Its pure Fairy typing certainly helps with its defenses, resisting Fighting, Bug and Dark, as well as being immune to the notorious Dragon type. Aside from this, one of Granbull’s most commonly used abilities, Intimidate, lowers the opposing Pokemon’s attack by one stage, helping Granbull live that one hit and strike back with a vengeance. To make up for its low speed, Granbull has another ability called Quick Feet, doubling its speed from a base of 45 to a much more respectable 90, making it a real problem for many unsuspecting opponents. If Intimidate is too important an ability to give up, having Thunder Wave in a move slot will certainly help, cutting the target Pokemon’s speed to a quarter of what it was.

Speaking of move slots, another key to any halfway decent Pokemon is a diverse moveset, and Granbull has quite the diversity. Of course it knows Play Rough, currently the hardest-hitting (and only, believe it or not) physical Fairy-type move there is, but it knows a plethora of other useful moves: Close Combat, Crunch, Rock Slide, Low Kick, Stone Edge, Wild Charge, Iron Tail, OUTRAGE! Not to mention Thunder, Fire/Ice Punch/Thunder/ Fire/Ice Fang (if you need all of those at once), as well as its best answer to its only two weaknesses in Poison and Steel, Earthquake. Even if you want a bulkier support Granbull, you have plenty of options with the aforementioned Thunder Wave, along with moves like Heal Bell, Reflect, Taunt, Torment and Roar. The best part about this immense diversity is that you can mix and match to your play-style, and THAT is what’s most dangerous about Granbull in a league format.

Many people only see Pokemon based only on their tier ratings and fail to look past OverUsed and UnderUsed for a Pokemon’s potential, but there are many low-tier Pokemon that are low-tier for one reason: someone else does their job better. In Granbull’s case, Mega Mawile, Mega Altaria and Azumarill are very, VERY hard-hitting physical Fairy-type Pokemon, but in a league format, they usually get drafted in the first or second round (Yes, I know Mega Mawile is in Ubers, and it still makes me sad to this day).

So when your turn to draft comes around and you find that your team is made up primarily of special attackers, or your team is particularly Outrage-able, don’t forget about little Granbull sitting in RU. It’s always better to have its fangs facing down the field away from you as opposed to the other way around, as your opponents will surely discover.

 

[October 6th, 2016]

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[Sun and Moon Speculation] – Alolan Ninetales

 

by Ben Hyman

With the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon on the horizon, there’s still a lot of things we don’t know too much about. Ultra Beasts, Z-Moves, the possibility of Mega Evolutions disappearance or return, and much more. Will Game Freak shake up the type matchups again like they did when Steel received its nerf, or will the status quo remain the same? There’s so much to speak on regarding this, but for now I’ll focus on what I’m personally most excited for: Alolan Forms!

When Alolan Forms were first revealed, I nearly lost my mind. I mean how couldn’t I? Alolan Exeggutor is the most ridiculous thing! Being a fan of Ice types far more than is probably competitively healthy, I also instantly fell in love with the Alolan Sandslash/Ninetales lines….And I’ll be primarily focusing on the latter today. Alolan Ninetales is an interesting beast, and it’s time for some rampant competitive speculation. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

To start, let’s go over the non-Alolan form. Ninetales has always been an interesting pokemon. With pretty much average or below average stats all around, save for base 100 Sp.Def and Speed, there needed to be a very good reason to use the crafty fox. Then, Generation 5’s Dream World came and blessed it with the amazing ability of Drought. Bringing the Sun for a ride whenever it came into play was a metagame changing event, one that warped Black and White’s meta, for better or for worse. So, what can Alolan Ninetales get to make it better than its brethren?

Let’s start with stat distribution, shall we? Ninetales stat-line is as follows: 73/76/75/81/100/100. Not too impressive, as it stands. Assuming Ninetales receives only buffs to important stats and/or decreases from irrelevant stats to put into relevant stats, we may end up with something along the lines of: 73/51/65/101/105/105. Much more fitting of an Ice/Fairy type, right? Ice types are generally fast and decently strong, whilst Fairy types tend to be weaker on the physical side whilst very strong on the special side, a nice mixture! Speaking of that Ice/Fairy typing, it’s definitely a double-edged sword. Defensively, you are now 4x weak to Steel, gain a Poison weakness, are now neutral to Fighting, and gain a Dragon immunity. Seems pretty good to me, you weren’t staying in on Steel types anyways! Offensively, there’s really not much to say other than holy crap. Two of the best offensive typings in the game on one Pokemon? Sign me up! Watch out for those dastardly steel types as per usual, but Dragons beware, a new Dragon Killer has usurped Azumarill.

As for moveset, this is where things get interesting. Assuming Alolan Ninetales (Now referred to as A. Ninetales for convenience)has its only ability available at the start to be Snow Cloak, it effectively has no ability since it cannot afford to set up Hail on its own. Awkward. Moving on, we can assume it’ll get both Ice Beam AND Moonblast, so that’ll likely be on every set. At least part of Ninetales normal move-set will carry over…which isn’t too useful but will give us some neat options like Dark Pulse and Psyshock. Really, anything to hit Steel types neutrally is what we want. Calm Mind is also an interesting option, boosting that speculated Special Attack stat even higher, threatening many a wall with the possibility of just getting blown away by a +1 Moonblast or Ice Beam. On the other hand, the rest of the support move-pool will likely be…lacking. Unless Game Freak blesses A. Ninetales with Will o Wisp, there’s not much else this icy fox is going to be able to do. It’ll be one dimensional, but it’ll be very very good at its job.

Now, for probably the set it’ll run 90% of the time

Alolan Ninetales @ Life Orb

Ability: Snow Cloak

EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

– Ice Beam

– Moonblast

– Calm Mind

– Dark Pulse

 

Keep in mind, as with all speculation none of this is even REMOTELY confirmed, so keep your ear to the ground and eyes to places like Serebii, you never know what info might pop up.

 

[September 13th, 2016]

Tauros – Under Rated in League Format

by Cyndurr

 

Although majorly outclassed as a physical Normal type by many ‘Mons from higher tiers, as a Tier 5 pick it can be a useful addition to many teams due to its base 110 Speed stat and its Sheer Force ability. Despite a lack of powerful Physical moves that make use of Sheer Force boosts, with a base 100 Attack stat and a Life Orb to boot, it can still punch holes in the opponent’s team.
 
The Sheer Force, Life Orb physical attacker is Tauros’ where its main usage lies, with Rock Climb hitting at nearly 240 base power (after Life Orb, Sheer Force and STAB boosts) you have a spamable move that will deal massive damage to anything that isn’t Defensive or resisted. The biggest drawback of Rock Climb is its 85% accuracy that makes using it a bit of a risk, especially when Body Slam has 5 less base power and is 100% accurate but as we all know, if you train in the mountains, you never miss so you won’t be needing the improved accuracy. As for the other 3 moves, it depends on what you’ll be facing, however, Earthquake or Bulldoze is advised if you’re walled by Steel or Rock-Types, Earthquake hits harder even without the Sheer Force boost but does mean you’ll be taking Life Orb recoil that you won’t take if you go with Bulldoze. Zen Headbutt helps take down Fighting-Types that take advantage of Normal-Types only weakness, Iron Head can take down Fairy and Rock-Types and Rock Slide is viable if you have an issue with Flying, Fire, Ice or Bug types and have a slot spare. Other options include Pursuit to trap Ghost-Types, Façade for if you get burnt, Retaliate for a revenge killer set, Natural Gift can help deal with any weaknesses on your team and Wild Charge or Outrage if the coverage is needed but you will take heavy recoil from Wild Charge + Life Orb and Outrage leaves you susceptible to whatever comes in.
 
However, what makes Tauros a wild card and hard to predict is its range of Special Attacks in its arsenal. Fire Blast/Flamethrower, Blizzard/Ice Beam, Thunder/Thunderbolt and Water Pulse take advantage of the Sheer Force boost and despite a base 40 Sp. Att stat it can still hit harder than expected. This is especially true to Pokemon that may have walled it before with 4x weaknesses, Landorus-T and Gliscor can be OHKO’d by Ice coverage, Ferrothorn, Scizor and Forretress get hit hard and potentially OHKO’d by Fire Coverage and Gyarados gets OHKO’d by Electric coverage, even 2x weaknesses can be taken advantage of and deal massive damage to making predicting Tauros very difficult and to an extent, giving it a case of 4-move syndrome. It even has Solar Beam that can help take down bulky ‘Mons such as Quagsire, Gastrodon, Rhyperior and Swampert, however, that is very situational and gimmicky.
 
Another possibility is a Choice Band set that lets you run any physical move without the recoil damage but limits you against physical walls but still takes advantage of Tauros’ very good speed. An Expert Belt set takes a little power away but also lets you run any move without the recoil from non-Sheer Force boosted moves and can still deal with walls but finds itself relying on rolls to OHKO even 4x weak ‘Mons. Choice Specs can catch your opponent off guard and take down a physical wall, though it does leave you in a limited role. A Choice Scarf can let you outspeed anything not scarfed and can act as a very competent revenge killer but lacks the power to OHKO many things that can OHKO it in response. All of these sets are viable but need team support to either sets up hazards to make it easier to KO late game or weaken down walls and threats so Tauros can come in and revenge fallen team-mate.
 
Although from first look an All-Out Attacker seems like Tauros’ only niche, it isn’t. Another ability Tauros has is Intimidate, couple that with decent bulk of 75/95 on the physical side and you have a decent physical wall that also can make use of Refresh, can Rest-Talk to chip away at an opponent as well as Toxic for residual damage, in the right situation you can stall out slightly less powerful physical attackers. Also, without Sheer Force, Body Slam has a chance to Paralyze and cripple anything on your opponent’s team.
 
Another move that could be used is Work Up, in conjunction with Substitute, Tauros can be a lethal set-up sweeper on either the physical or special side. Though it means you don’t have the same coverage with one or two slots filled, you can still hit hard once set up and once certain threats are dealt with can sweep through the rest of an opposing team with ease.
 
Lastly, Tauros has access to Sunny Day, Rain Dance and Sandstorm. With its 110 Speed it can be a strong weather setter on any team and with a Focus Sash can soak any one hit to either make sure you can set the weather up again or come in later to deal damage once faster threats have been dealt with. With access to Fire Blast/Flamethrower and Solar Beam it can hit hard in the Sun and Water Pulse and Thunder to hit hard in the rain, meaning it doesn’t have to switch and can still deal damage on weather teams. Alternatively, Endeavor can be run to bring down a threat to 1 HP to be picked off by another teammate later on.
 
To Conclude, Tauros has its flaws and is outclassed but for a Tier 5 pick it can still do a number of jobs for your team and should not be overlooked. Not many Normal types have the same wide movepool Tauros does and that gives it a niche not only offensively but defensively as well, certainly a very underrated ‘Mon.
July 2nd, 2016

Aerodactyl – Under Rated in League Format

by Ben Hyman

 

Aerodactyl: A Gift From the Land Before Time

 

Oh Aerodactyl.  One of my favorite Generation 1 Pokemon, and yet another Tier 3 Pokemon that has gone undrafted, unlike its Mega Counterpart.  So, this begs the question: compared to other Tier 3 Pokemon, why should you have drafted non-Mega Aerodactyl instead of what you drafted?  Let’s get straight to the point, shall we?

Rock/Flying is not a very good typing defensively, let’s be perfectly honest.  Resisting pretty much nothing aside from Normal, as well as a ground immunity, the chances of Aerodactyl coming in on a safe switch are almost slim to none in most circumstances.  A stiff breeze could knock this thing over.  A statline of 80/105/65/60/75/130 doesn’t help it much either, but the bulk isn’t horrid.  You could feasibly switch into a resisted Normal STAB and live to tell the tale, but you’d definitely be bleeding afterwards.  With that said, Rock/Flying is a MUCH better typing offensively.  I don’t think much needs to be said about the coverage it offers, only that Aerodactyl really wishes it had access to Brave Bird or a better Flying STAB than Aerial Ace/Wing Attack in terms of power.  However, this brings me to my next point.

From what I only assume to be a blessing from the Gen 1 Gods themselves, Aerodactyl has quite a bit of coverage, on both sides of the offensive spectrum.  EdgeQuake(Stone Edge/Earthquake), all three elemental fangs, Aqua Tail, and a plethora of other interesting moves such as Fire Blast, Earth Power, and even Sunny Day AND Rain Dance.  This versatile movepool of course also includes the all important Stealth Rock.  Moving right along, let’s get to some sets to utilize this impressive movepool.

Aerodactyl is not going to switch in much; we have accepted this fact.  So, what’s a good way to avert this than to use it as a suicide lead?  I know that suicide leads can be frowned upon in this format due to differential, but Aerodactyl’s potential to be used as such is impressive, and should be considered.  Stealth Rock/Taunt/Earthquake/Stone Edge.  Note that the last two moveslots can be customized however you wish, ranging from Fire Blast to Iron Tail.  A simple spread of 252 Atk/252 Spe/4 HP with a Jolly Nature is used here, which once again, can be customized to your leisure to speed creep the opposing team.  This set aims to lead off, taunt whatever the heck is in front of you, set up hazards, and do as much damage with the attacking moves as possible.  If running a special move such as Fire Blast to nail Forretress, Ferrothorn, and the like, an alternative spread of 76 Sp.Atk/184 Atk/252 Speed with a Naïve nature should be utilized(once again, customized to your needs)to ensure Sturdy is broken on Forretress, and dealing massive damage to Ferrothorn.

Some calcs to illustrate the above point

72 SpA Aerodactyl Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 168 SpD Ferrothorn: 180-212 (51.1 – 60.2%) — 84.4% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

72 SpA Aerodactyl Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Forretress: 352-416 (99.4 – 117.5%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

Mmmmm…crispy.

Next up, we have a much more offensively inclined set, and a bit off the wall.  Reaching deep into its movepool, one would find that Aerodactyl can do a passable impression of a Choice Specs set.  Air Cutter/Earth Power/Ancient Power/Coverage(or utility move).  Once again, a simple spread of 252 Speed/252 Sp.Atk/4 HP Modest Nature is used here.  Modest is to bring out as much power as you can from that base 60 Sp.Atk, and given your 130 speed tier, you aren’t likely to be needing that extra speed like the suicide lead set.  Air Cutter and Ancient Power are your STABs, whilst Earth Power completes the Pseudo EdgeQuake in terms of type coverage.  The last move slot is pretty much freestyle.  Whatever you need, jam it on there.  Sunny Day, Rain Dance, Stealth Rock, Sleep Talk, Toxic, ect ect.  You get the picture.  As always, these EVs and movesets are always up to customization based on the matchup.

Some calcs before we go to our final set.

252+ SpA Choice Specs Aerodactyl Ancient Power vs. 96 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Tornadus-T: 146-174 (45.2 – 53.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock

252+ SpA Choice Specs Aerodactyl Earth Power vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Raikou: 198-234 (61.6 – 72.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Whilst it may be very situational, Choice Specs Aerodactyl might be exactly what you’re looking for to weaken and outspeed some key threats on the opposing team.  Be wary of speed tiers if using Modest.

Finally, we’re gonna rock out with a Choice Band set.   No games here, we’re just gonna load up with coverage and blast the enemy team to pieces.  Earthquake and Stone Edge are all you need to complete perfect neutral coverage, but with Aerodactyl’s versatile movepool you can go whichever way you like.  Some notable moves you should consider: Iron Tail/Head, Aqua Tail, Ice/Fire/Thunder Fang, Crunch, ect.  A spread of 252 Speed/252 Atk/4 HP is of course used, but once more customization and versatility is the name of League format.

252 Atk Choice Band Aerodactyl Iron Tail vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Sylveon: 264-312 (67 – 79.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

252 Atk Choice Band Aerodactyl Stone Edge vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Landorus: 231-273 (72.4 – 85.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Yikes, this thing is strong.  RIP to White Canary on the SJ Sharpedos and Mr. Man of the Borussia Donphan, Aerodactyl wanted a snack and you two were close by.

In closing, Aerodactyl is a surprisingly versatile mon, if you can get past the lack of defenses.  Key things to note when playing with Aerodactyl: Remove priority, you lose to most forms of it.  Don’t switch in unsafely because chances are, you can’t live whatever hit is coming your way, and most importantly, do NOT be afraid to play reckless with this thing.  It’s fast and strong but it can’t take a hit.  A true glass cannon.

[July 1st, 2016]

 

Every Frog Has Their Day

by Gregulator818

 

Typically, underrated Pokémon in league format are rarely drafted. For whatever reason, these Pokémon are often passed up for ones with a proven track record of excellence. But what if I told you there was one Pokémon that could dismantle most Fairy-Dragon-Steel cores (FDS) with its dual STAB and coverage move, switch into scald, WHILE 2HKO’ing standard Mega Venusaur! It should be one of the most coveted Pokémon on draft day. It’s one of the most underrated Pokémon in the league format, Toxicroak! Toxicroak’s typing, move pool, and versatility make this Pokémon a dangerous threat in league format.

On the surface, Toxicroak looks unimpressive. It’s frail (83/65/65 defenses) and has slightly above average offenses (106/86/85) with a middling speed tier. However, Toxicroak’s typing makes this Pokémon dangerous to switch into. Its dual STAB of Poison/Fighting with Ice Punch threatens most Fairy-Dragon-Steel (FDS) cores – a typical backbone of most draft format teams. Toxicroak has access to high base power (BP) moves like Gunk Shot, which can OHKO any variant of Clefable, Sylveon, Florges, and Aromatisse at level 50 with a Life Orb.  Toxicroak’s frailty allows it to effectively use Life Orb and oftentimes recoil is more than recovered through use of Drain Punch. Toxicroak has access to Sucker Punch, which means it can pick off faster threats with priority. Knock Off is another option to help cripple certain checks like Hippowdown on the switch. Toxicroak’s movepool really helps it perform well in the league format.

But how can Toxicroak come in safely? Well fear not! Toxicroak’s best ability is Dry Skin, which gives it a water immunity and allows it to safely switch into Scald, one of the most feared moves in the game. Coming in on scald allows Toxicroak to get off relatively free attacks or to setup on bulky water types. Imagine using Milotic, Vaporeon, and Tentacruel as setup fodder! This turn can be used to fire off Gunk Shots or use a bossting move like Swords Dance. Toxicroak at +2 is one of the most threatening Pokémon you can face if you don’t have Hippowdon or Skarmory on your team. To help mitigate its poor speed, Sucker Punch and Vacuum Wave are options to help out. Dry Skin gives Toxicroak added value on rain teams and gives it passive recovery to make up for Life Orb recoil. Do not underestimate the amount of opportunities you have to setup with Toxicroak.

What could possibly make Toxicroak scarier? Well, Toxicroak is quite unpredictable actually. Access to Nasty Plot and Swords Dance mean Toxicroak can function as a special or physical attacker. This asset is huge in league format. While your opponent may be prepared to take on a physical Toxicroak, suddenly they’re faced with a Nasty Plot boosted Toxicroak. Wait! You don’t think it’s a threat? Let’s look at the aforementioned checks Skarmory and Hippowdon.

+2 252 SpA Life Orb Toxicroak Focus Blast vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Skarmory: 347-409 (103.8 – 122.4%) — guaranteed OHKO

+2 252 SpA Life Orb Toxicroak Focus Blast vs. 252 HP / 112 SpD Hippowdon: 437-515 (104 – 122.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

As seen earlier, Toxicroak can easily setup a Nasty Plot on bulky water types. Let Rotom-W burn you as you Nasty Plot. The mind games are truly threatening with Toxicroak and its real potential lies in team preparation.

Granted, there are drawbacks to using Toxicroak. It has to overcome its Base 85 speed. Pokémon that resist Vacuum Wave and Sucker Punch will have little trouble revenge killing Toxicroak. Toxicroak also has issues with Bulky ground types if it’s a physical variant or dedicated special walls if a special variant. Toxicroak also has a glaring 4x weakness to psychic which mean some water types may opt to carry HP Psychic. But what utility does Vaporeon truly have if it has to carry HP Psychic? Dry Skin also adds a fire weakness to Toxicroak and it loses health in the sun which the opponent can exploit. Lastly, Toxicroak’s damage output is mostly dependent on Focus Blast and Gunk Shot, which are notorious for their less than stellar accuracy. Overall, these factors shouldn’t dissuade you from using Toxicroak. Paired up with devastating wall-breakers, sweepers, and type synergy, this is one frog your opponents won’t want to see on game day.

 

June 28th, 2016

Wigglytuff – Underrated in League Format

by: Josh K.

 

While mostly out-shined by fellow Kanto fairy, Clefable [and even Clefairy to some extent]Wigglytuff still puts in some use in league format.  Yes, Wigglytuff has a lot going against it with detrimental defensive and speed stats along with average at best offensive stats, however where Wigglytuff shines is his humongous HP, massive movepool, and amazing abilities.
Wigglytuff’s HP allows it to be “tankier” than his defenses would let on, tanking hits you wouldn’t expect him to.  For example, a fully invested Wigglytuff is able to take a +2 Talonflame’s Brave Bird and fire back one of his many attacks [which I’ll list in a moment just bare with me].  Speaking of moves [yes, there it is!], Wigglyutff has access to a wide arsenal of both offensive and supportive moves.  STAB coverage with Hyper Voice and Dazzling Gleam as well as coverage moves ranging from BoltBeam to Fire Blast and Focus Blast for Steel types and Psychic for Poison types.  Wigglytuff also provides great support options with moves such as Knock Off, Icy Wind, Stealth Rock, Wish + Protect, Heal Bell, dual screens, and the ability to carry 3 different status moves in Lovely Kiss, Toxic, and Thunder Wave.  Finally Wigglytuff sports 2 great abilities, both of which can be very useful.  Competitive allows Wigglytuff to be a Defog deterring Stealth Rock setter while Frisk allows Wigglytuff to scout sets to an extent and eliminate many surprises.
While Wigglytuff does have his flaws he more than makes up for it as a versatile, low cost Fairy type that does very well at his niches and can easily throw an opponent off guard.
[June 24th, 2016]