Category Archives: League Analysis

Something Wicked This Way Comes

by BlameTheBlax

With Pokémon Sun and Moon officially out worldwide, countless trainers have rushed to beat the game and finally venture out into the competitive aspect, myself included. Today, I’d like to do something a little different from the standard analysis of single Pokémon. Instead, I’d like to look at the notable Ghost types this generation and share some of my personal thoughts about them.

Marowak-A

When we first got the stats of all our Alolan formes, we were all vastly disappointed in the lack of significant changes. Marowak, at first, was no different in this regard. However, as the meta slowly started to develop, this has definitely changed. As of right now, Marowak-A is, in my opinion, the best anti-meta Pokémon in Smogon. With access to Lightningrod, it now has the potential to counter some of the most threatening attackers in the game, being Xurkitree, Pheromosa, and Tapu Koko. As a matter of fact, the only way these mons can beat Marowak is by running a Hidden Power, which often times still fails to net the OHKO. However, this isn’t all Marowak can do. With access to Will-O-Wisp and Stealth Rocks, it can help support a team, and with access to Flame Charge and Swords Dance, it even has sweeping potential. Rock Head + Flare Blitz is also a massive threat due to the lack of recoil damage.

Mimikyu

While Mimikyu’s Disguise isn’t as good as a Substitute, it still has its niche. The ability to take any one hit, regardless of power, and return fire is amazing in any format. The fact that it has access to Thunder Wave, Will O Wisp, and Destiny Bond only bolsters this thing’s viability. It also has some nice sweeping potential, thanks to a passable Speed and Attack stat and access to both Swords Dance and Shadow Sneak. While it can still be statused behind a Disguise, keep in mind it can run items such as a Lum Berry and even Substitute, which won’t break the Disguise (I’ve tested it personally and can confirm this is the case). I can definitely see this thing pulling off some insane stuff in League format, not to mention standard play, where I’ve gotten multiple matches won thanks to the Pikachu imposter.

Dhelmise

The first thing to note is that Dhelmise has three STAB types to utilize, thanks to the ability Steelworker. The second thing to note would be access to Earthquake, which would otherwise have this thing be walled by most Steel types. This is such a huge boon to this thing’s viability, which means it’ll probably be used a lot more than it’s spooky lawn counterparts like Trevenant and Decidueye. The third would be Ancher Shot, similar to Spirit Shackle in its ability to trap opposing Pokémon. As a matter of fact, I see this thing as a much harder hitting and slightly bulkier Decidueye. It really just makes me sad that Decidueye will probably be outclassed at every angle by this Pokémon. However, the fact of the matter is that this thing is really good, and in important matches, it can be your anchor. Pun totally intended. Also, Phantom Force. ‘Nuff said.

Personally, after around three years of playing with XY and ORAS, I’m really loving having new stuff to utilize and analyze. The freshness of this new meta is really spicing things up and reminding me of my love for Pokémon, so I think this couldn’t have come at a better time. But what do you guys think? Anyways, expect to see some more covered in the following weeks.

[Dec 12th, 2016]

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Noticing Necrozma

by BlameTheBlax

With Pokémon Sun and Moon officially out worldwide, countless trainers have rushed to beat the game and finally venture out into the competitive aspect, myself included. Today, I’d like to introduce one of my favorite Pokémon to be introduced in the new region, Necrozma. While Necrozma surprisingly isn’t an Ultra Beast, despite its odd design and placement in the Pokedex, there’s no denying that it can be a beast in the right hands. Let’s look more in depth at the Prism Pokémon.

Typing and Stats

Psychic is a very strong offensive typing with only one type being immune and two resistances, being Dark, Psychic, and Steel, respectively. However, the weaknesses of Psychic types seem to be their biggest problems. Despite not having an overwhelming amount of weaknesses, only being Bug, Dark, and Ghost, the threat of moves such as Knock Off, Sucker Punch, Pursuit, Shadow Sneak, Shadow Ball, and U-turn are a big factor as to why quite a fair share of Psychic types typically aren’t seen as too threatening, especially in League format. However, the ability of the Prism Pokémon is a game changer for these weaknesses. But we’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s take a look at the stat distribution, which is 97/107/101/127/89/79, leaving Necrozma with a respectable BST of 600. While the speed leaves much to be desired, that same statement can be said about almost every single Pokémon introduced in this generation, so that can be forgiven. The Special Defense is a little weaker than expected, but certainly still viable. The rest of the stats are notably above average, certainly worthy of being picked up earlier than most based off of that alone.

Ability

As mentioned previously, Prism Armor is an enormous game changer that elevates the utility of Necrozma. For those Unaware, Prism Armor is just a fancy redesign of the Filter ability, which reduces the damage done with super effective moves by 25%. Just in case you’re trying to grasp this concept fully, take a look at one of the more important calcs regarding this ability.

252 Atk Life Orb Weavile Knock Off (97.5 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Prism Armor Necrozma: 292-345 (73.3 – 86.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

At first glance, one might scoff at the amount of damage dealt and claim Necrozma is hopeless. However, one must keep in mind the facts. This is a super effective and STAB Knock Off coming off of Weavile’s 120 Attack stat, and somehow Necrozma can take the hit thanks to Prism Armor, not to mention getting an OHKO in revenge with a Brick Break. While I will admit this is more of a gimmick in standard play, it’s a boon to its viability in League matches, being able to almost always tank a single hit and do something in return. Before we move on to the pool, here’s a showcase of all the other noteworthy calcs to keep in mind.

252+ Atk Technician Mega Scizor Bug Bite vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Prism Armor Necrozma: 267-316 (67 – 79.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Life Orb Gengar Shadow Ball vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Prism Armor Necrozma: 281-333 (70.6 – 83.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Life Orb Ash-Greninja Dark Pulse vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Prism Armor Necrozma: 318-376 (79.8 – 94.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Movepool

While being able to take a hit is nice, what you do with that bulk is what makes a Pokémon viable. And Necrozma has plenty of options, if I do say so myself. With access to moves like Rock Polish, Swords Dance, and Calm Mind, Necrozma can well function as a late game setup sweeper. With moves such as Earthquake, Night Slash, Psyshock, Brick Break, and Power Gem, a sweep is almost never out of the question for this behemoth. But wait, there’s more. Access to dual Screens and Stealth Rocks give Necrozma the option to also be a suicide lead if one were so inclined. Rock Tomb and Trick Room also give it more options to help out a team, allowing it to slow whatever is currently in or entirely flip the speed tiers on their head. Even Prismatic Laser can be an option, giving it a STAB nuke as a final option before going down. Hell, it even has access to two different recovery moves, being Moonlight and Morning Sun. With a team supporting it, Necrozma is a monster in both supporting and sweeping.

Team Synergy

As stated earlier, Necrozma can fit into virtually any team with its endless possibility of roles to fill. While certain ‘mons can fit some roles better, like Cresselia as a bulky Screen setter and Azelf as a suicide lead, very few can do all of these at once. As such, the best team members for Necrozma can be just about anything. However, if you’re looking for specifics, it would be best to use a Pokémon that can effectively deal with Ghost types. Bisharp and Weavile immediately come to mind, appreciating the Rocks and Screens from a support set, but almost anything that can fit this role will work. Another team member you’d probably like to have would be a reliable Fighting type. While Necrozma certainly has the means to deal with its counters, it’s always nice to have some back up. Fighting types break through Dark and Steel type, which can otherwise check or counter Necrozma. Lastly, it would be recommended to have something that can enable it to come in and set up for a wipe. Wish passing and Volt Switch/U-turn users immediately come to mind, allowing for a healthy switch and set up or a threatening pivot that forces a switch, respectively.

Final Thoughts

Necrozma has quite a bit of versatility, almost a bit too much in my own opinion. With the sheer amount of roles that it can fit into, it’s definitely bound to be one of the more sought after Pokémon in this generation. While the stats are certainly nothing to scoff at, the ability and movepool will be the defining factor in prep. In certain situations, statusing Necrozma is the only way to beat it. Regardless of how it gets placed in Smogon, it’ll be an ultra powerful beast in League format.

[Dec 2nd, 2016]

How Emvee broke the format

by:Wutpulver

Emvee joined the GBA for Season 6 and immideately made a splash, without having prior draft experience. He assembled a unique team and abused some of the quirks of the counter team format.

Building a core

In case you need to refresh your memory, here is Emvees draft recap. The first three picks are fairly standart. Dragon/Fairy/Steel cores are very common and for good reason. Notable is the inclusion of Togekiss since it counters the added ground weakness that Mega-Ampharos brought to the trio. These three pokèmon do not leave many holes to be filled by later picks since they have the option to set Stealth Rocks, Defog and U-Turn. So far this isn’t really innovative but it is a solid foundation for whats to come.

Weaknesses

There are only 2 notable weaknesses that I could make out. First is the lack of strong fire attacks. Fire is one of the most important attacking types and a Togekiss or Gyarados Fire Blast is not exactly the strongest Fire coverage.

Second is the lack of recovery. Outside of Togekiss, every Pokémon of the Chimchargers has to resort to Rest to gain some HP back. This results in the team losing steam in drawn out battles.

Set up

Four of Emvees pokèmon are very well known as set up sweepers. Haxorus, Gorebyss, Gyarados and Slurpuff are famous for just that. It doesn’t stop here though. We’ve seen Rock Polish Donphan, Agility Mega-Ampharos and even Swords Dance Keldeo during the season. Almost every Pokémon on the roster can take over a game and be a win condition. This is incredibly important in counter team formats since it is impossible to check every single threat this team presents. What makes set up based teams even more effective is the tier system. No team can consist only out of top tier pokèmon wich makes it very hard to keep up the pressure and not offer too many safe turns. A tier 4-5 Pokemon is usually not able to threaten an OHKO, which opens up a lot more opportunities to run away with the game. In 7 out of the 12 regular season games, Emvee managed to have 1 Pokémon that killed at least half of the opposing team. Together, with Emvees tendency to bring very unusual sets, this team style makes it incredibly hard to prepare and play against it.

Will this change the meta?

I believe that this team archetype is superior to the ones we’ve been seeing so far and fully expect more coaches to try piloting one next season. The more common it becomes, the easier it will be to counter, since phasing will be the best way of working around it and teams will include more and more of these in their plans. I do think that this should have an impact on how the GBA is played and am curious to see how the drafts will develop.

[October 14th 2016]

 

 

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]

Luxray and Drifblim are underrated

by: Wutpulver

There are some features that make a Pokèmon very desirable in draft leagues.Some of the more well known ones are Electric types, Defoggers and versatility.The biggest upsides for Electric as a typing are the lack of weaknesses (only weak to ground) and Volt Switch.The momentum gained from it is crucial in the format since teams usually have a few star pokèmon that do the heavy lifting. Protecting these from damage and enabling them to apply pressure is one of the best things low tier pokèmon can achieve and these two tier 5 “losers” do it very well wich makes me wonder why they have not been used so far.

How to use them

Luxray

Actually that is not true. El Scizor and the Borussia Donphan picked up Luxray in the 4th week of season 5. However, it was not used a lot and since it did not get drafted initially in any season, I think it is still eligible to being called underrated.

Even though its best stat is the 120 base attack, Luxrays main role is that of a defensive pivot. Intimidate is a great ability to have on weaker pokèmon since it always cripples physical attackers regardless of the actual power of the user. This also applies to other chip damage/crippling abilities like Rough Skin, Flame Body and Static. Here, it allows Luxray to take physical attack surprisingly well and a slow Volt Switch is great to gain momentum or bring in vulnerable pokèmon like Weavile or Talonflame. It has many attacking types in its arsenal but often has to settle for the inferior version. Instead of the elemental punches it only has the fangs and instead of Close Combat is has to be content with Superpower. Wild Charge as the main STAB-move is also suboptimal since the recoil will keep Luxray from sticking around longer. The best items are probly Rocky Helmet, Assault Vest and Sitrus Berry to improve your chip damage, bulk or staying power.  A few more interesting moves are: Roar, Snarl and Thunder Wave. An offensive set with Guts and Facade is also possible but lacks the speed to really make use of Luxrays attack stat.

Drifblim

I’ll be honest. The reason I wanted to include Drifblim in here was Defog and Aftermath. Suicidal utility is very effective coming from low tiers. Once I started looking into its expanded movepool it became clear that it can be extremely effective and I am going to make the bold claim that it is in the TOP 10 OF TIER 5 POKÈMON.

Let’s calm down for a bit and look at what it actually has to offer. The base hp of 150! seems tempting but the underwhelming defense stats hold it back quite a bit. The overall bulk is still decent in tier 5 but it could have been so much more. The ability Aftermath is one of the best you can have on this type of pokèmon. Potentially losing a quarter of their max health to a sack will make people very cautious around the DEMON KING DISGUISED AS A BALLON! Ghost/Flying is an amazing typing as well. Important immunities to Fighting/Normal and Ground are great to have. Spin blocking is especially useful. Speaking of hazard control Drifblim learns Defog wich any team enjoys in their lineup. Utility in general is probably its biggest selling point. Not convinced? Well I have this list: Clear Smog, Haze, Baton Pass, Calm Mind, Memento, Disable, Knock Off, Pain Split, Sucker Punch, Thunder Wave, Destiny Bond, Trick, Will-O-Wisp, Icy Wind, Skill Swap, Magic Coat and Weather Ball. Drifblim is a damn swiss army knife.

I guess I failed at that calming down part. Anyway this MONS… I mean underrated low tier Pokèmon obviously has some downsides attached to keep it in check. One of the biggest problems is lackluster recovery. Drifblim is one of the few Flying types that do not learn Roost. There are other options available like Stockpile/Swallow and Rest (Resto-Chesto into Unburden anyone?) but they just dont feel the same. Pain Split is largely useless due to its insane hp stat anyway.

The offensive movepool is functional but not outstanding. Hex and Knock Off are probably the more effective options but Drifblim is not supposed to be a sweeper anyway. You can still use Unburden for some offensive plays but it does not allow for attack enhancing items like Life Orb wich really stops any sweep attempts. The most effective Unburden triggers are probably Chesto/Resto, Power Herb/Phantom Force/Fly and Natural Gift. Still Drifblim can do so many things on a slim budget that you are guaranteed to get a lot of bang for your buck.

Sample Sets

Luxray

  • @Chesto Berry
  • Ability: Intimidate
  • HP 252 Atk 12 Def 244 Relaxed
  • Volt Switch
  • Superpower/ Ice Fang/ Fire Fang/Signal Beam/Hidden Power
  • Wild Charge
  • Rest

 

  • @Flame Orb
  • Ability: Guts
  • Atk 252 SpDef 4 Speed 252 Jolly
  • Facade
  • Wild Charge
  • Quick Attack
  • Crunch/Ice Fang

Drifblim

  • @Chesto Berry
  • Ability: Unburden
  • Atk 252 SpDef 204 Speed 56 Careful
  • Rest
  • Defog
  • Destiny Bond
  • Acrobatics

 

  • @Rocky Helmet
  • Ability: Aftermath
  • Def 252 SpAtk 4 SpDef 252 Bold/Calm
  • Clear Smog
  • Will-O-Wisp/Thunder Wave
  • Hex
  • Thunderbolt

 

Conclusion

There are still many hidden treasures buried deep in tier 5. Most of them should only be used as enhancing talent to your core but every man with two hands has a fighting chance. The choice of your benchplayers is more important than most players realize and they often offer the crucial bit of spice to really unlock your teams potential. They are more than just waterboys.

[Oct 3rd, 2016]

 

Ban or Not: Hoopa-Unbound

By bhahn

I’m a very analytical person.  I love to debate, exchange facts, and convince people to do something.  Luckily in Pokèmon, there is a great time and place to do this: tier assignments.  Speculation isn’t my strong suit, so I’ll leave that on the back burner until more facts are available on Sun and Moon ‘mons.  That aside, I will be writing a series about several Pokèmon who are on the border between OU and banned in league format.  I’ll discuss three catagories: Typing/Stats/Ability, Movepool/Coverage, and Team Synergy/Prep.  I will decide whether these ‘mons should be allowed, and afterwards I will speculate (yay!) on how what we know about the new generation will potentially change their tiering.

So let’s start with the first entry.

Hoopa-Unbound

I remember laughing when I heard that this thing would be suspected in OU.  I know it’s good, but never did I expect it to clear Smogon’s standard tier.  I just scratched my head upon hearing it was no longer legal in OU.  Apparently, members of my league agree, as it was actually lowered to OU-B (we use the GBA’s old point system, but select a tier for each ‘mon ourselves).  Other leagues, like the GBA, left Hoopa on the banlist.  To see why, let’s break the Djinn Pokémon down.

Typing/Stats/Ability

One look at the base stat total proves that Hoopa-U is a beast.  This thing rivals Rayquaza in its ability to run crippling physical and special sets.  Dark and Psychic serve as predominantly special attacking types, so the choice specs set is run most often, but physical options are equally viable.  160 and 170 are no doubt Uber attack stats.  Special defense is strong as well.  The rest of the stats leave a bit to be determined.  Base 80 speed doesn’t cut it for sweeping; I always scarf Hoopa.  This flaw was a larger issue in OU, a much more speed-centric tier than Ubers, and an even bigger one in league play.  Hoopa’s defense is also very poor considering U-Turn is its Achilles’ heel.  Between the lack of speed and poor defense, Hoopa is left to wallbreak rather than sweep.  Magician is a pointless ability considering Hoopa-U needs a choice item to function in top form.  Dark and Psychic is a sound defensive type, with only two weakness; U-Turn one of only a handful of moves which can finish this dark magician.  Overall, only two of the six stats scream banlist, and while typing is strong defensively, Hoopa is to physically frail for it to matter in some cases.

Movepool/Coverage

Hoopa-U has all the STAB power it could ever ask for and then some.  On the special side, Dark Pulse is the primary dark STAB, while Psyshock is the psychic one (Psychic also works but forfeits the mixed coverage).  Conversly, Hyperspace Fury, Zen Headbutt, and Knock off work on the physical spectrum.  Non-STAB coverage is pretty standard for a special psychic type: Shadow Ball, Signal Beam, Focus Miss, Energy Ball, and Thunderbolt highlight the list.  Elemental punches offer much needed patching to complete Hoopa’s type coverage.  Given the insane stats in both offenses, this diverse moovepool makes Hoopa downright scary, especially in standard play.

Team Synergy/Prep

Hoopa, like Landorus-I in many ways, was banned in standard play because its unpredictability is too great.  But in the league format, preparation is far more critical and there are ways to mitigate Hoopa’s destructive power.  Almost any bug-type move will knock out Hoopa, and many ‘mons get signal beam.  Having a fast sweeper with Signal Beam can force Hoopa to run a scarf.  Defensive fairies can check choice scarfed Hoopa well, forcing switches and costing Hoopa’s team momentum.

Certain support is needed to aid Hoopa.  A strong steel type is ideal to shrug of bug and fairy type moves and to kill fairies in return (unless one is willing to risk running Gunk Shot). Good steel types are rare, so this is a bit of an issue for Hoopa teams.  Thunder Wave support is a must if Hoopa isn’t holding a choice scarf, as is Heal Bell support.

Final Thoughts

Hoopa is great and hits insanely hard, but its blasé speed is what keeps it from obliterating everything, especially in league format.  Hoopa is also crushed by status, and is too frail to survive the physical onslaught of OU unscathed.  It is not the only thing without switch ins: Victini V-Create is scarier in my opinion, as is a Mega Lop HJK or +2 Pinsir Return, and these are all faster.  Hoopa’s best selling points are more potent in standard play than league format.  It has just enough checks in the league format.

Verdict: Not Banned

Sun and Moon?

Z-moves are the main thing to watch here.  Hoopa already hits hard enough that it won’t be beneficial; z-moves will be better on weaker ‘mons.  That said, a z-type fairy or bug move will easily finish Hoopa if they are indeed as strong as advertised.  Depending on the availability of these moves, Hoopa may be left outgunned as well as outrun, sealing its fate as an unbanned Pokèmon.

Feel free to comment with Pokèmon you’d like to see discussed in future articles.

 

[Sep 29th, 2016]