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PSPL is back! For those of you not in the loop, PSPL (which stands for Pokémon Showdown! Premier League) is a team tournament where the biggest rooms on PS duke it out for the title of best room. We were lucky to get 32 teams to sign up again this year, and similarly to last year, the tournament was set up like the World Cup, starting off with three group stages to eliminate 16 teams and then moving onto a single elimination bracket for the final 16 teams. However, there are some key differences between this year's PSPL and last year's, such as the fact that we decided to remove Random Battles for Little Cup in an attempt to make the tournament as skill-based as possible. We also were lucky enough to have the inclusion of prizes this year: the winning team would receive status as a "featured room" on PS and would get to be at the top of the room list for one week. Now that all the explanations are out of the way, let's get right into it!
The purpose of the group stages is to eliminate the teams that simply aren't up to par with the top teams. You don't want to have one of the better teams getting unlucky in the first round and getting eliminated prematurely. Once you get to the playoffs, however, it's all or nothing, as now it's single elimination matchups between the best teams, all of which already had to secure wins during the three group rounds to qualify. The playoffs and quarterfinals definitely had some intense matchups, such as Little Cup vs NeverUsed and Ubers vs Português, all of which had stellar players and battles. All of the teams fought their hardest, and eventually the field was pruned down to four teams: RarelyUsed vs Português, and Italiano vs Español. RarelyUsed was definitely one of the stronger teams in this tournament, so their spot in the semifinals was deserved, but they just could not square up against some of Português' stronger players such as WhiteQueen and Zxut. Italiano was the defending champion from last year's PSPL, so it was a given that they would make it this far. However, due to some unfortunate hax, Español was ultimately the team to make it to the finals alongside Português.
From the beginning, Português had it rough in the tournament. There were confusions—mostly exclusive to the host—over who exactly was leading the team and whether or not the room was actually going to participate this year. Fortunately, everything worked out in the end so that The Deceiver (also known as Dark Intruder) would be the team's manager. Furthermore, he was able to nab some high-level tournament players such as WhiteQueen to play for him. Other skilled players such as Zxut, AccidentalGenius, and Ren-chon also joined the team and consistently performed well throughout the competition, much to Português' benefit.
During the group stages... Português had a fairly decent matchup against PU, NeverUsed, and Academics. Being the frontrunner that they were, they scored a big 4-1 win over PU in Week 1. From that point, Week 2 saw tons of incomplete matches, but rolls and activity calls landed in favor of Português, deeming them the landslide victor over NeverUsed. Without the lucky rolls, the outcome might have been very different! Finally, in Week 3, more incomplete matches resulted in Português grabbing a 4-1 activity victory over Academics, assuring Português a spot in the playoffs.
During the Top 16... Português found themselves against another one of the frontrunners in the competition, Battle Spot, right off the bat. The Português team was to remain wary, as Battle Spot kept a consistently high win record throughout the group stage and shaped up to be an intimidating menace throughout the tournament. That is, until Português easily knocked them down a peg with an impressive 4-1 victory.
During the quarterfinals... Português faced Ubers, a team that shaped up to be incredibly difficult for Português, given that their opponent had proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in the previous rounds and whose captain, Sweep, was hellbent on persevering. The matches were incredibly close, and Ubers even came within reach of snatching the win, as Facts, Haruno, and Fireburn all pulled off some stellar victories. Fortunately for Português, star player WhiteQueen and dark horses Zxut, zdrup15, and Golden Freddy's managed to pull the rug from beneath Ubers' feet and snicker all the way to the semifinals.
During the semifinals... RarelyUsed expected to stride confidently into the finals with an easy win over Português. They were wrong. Português proved their walls were insurmountable, and only valiant players lighthouses and thecrystalonix were able to bring RarelyUsed victories before Português dominated, claiming their spot in the finals versus Español.
Español slid very quietly through the tournament, not making much noise and going nearly unnoticed in any round in particular. The team, managed by Lost Seso and xJoelituh, stayed mostly consistent throughout, with key players such as ZaelTX, Sken, Lolazo, and New Attitude. Other valuable players scored important victories early on, such as angel0mike, and Español wouldn't have made it to their comfortable seat in the finals against Português without them.
During the group stages... Español was not intimidated by its competitors, a pool consisting of Other Metas, Monotype, and CAP Project. The team grabbed a 4-2 victory over Monotype in Week 1, though Week 2 was far closer, with Other Metas fighting tooth and nail for their victory at a 3-3 standing. However, they were able to win in the end when Sken and Zael brought home their victories. Unfortunately for Español, Week 3 held a surprise 4-1 loss against underdog CAP Project. Thankfully, Español had already made a name for itself with its prior two wins and proceeded into the playoffs, taking its only loss with pride. That will teach teams not to take CAP Project for granted in the future.
During the top 16... Español found itself paired against a very high-level team: Challenges. This opponent had made a point of performing exceptionally well in the group stages, so it was sure to be a good matchup. For the sake of an exciting playoff round, they did just that and went 3-3 until Shockblade Kongou snatched a victory over BenOhver, now known as Twix, taking Español right into the quarterfinals.
During the quarterfinals... Español was pitted against a new crowd favorite in Trivia + Social Media + The Studio, a team whose inter-room collaboration hoped to take them all the way to the top. In the end, a 3-2 standing resulted in a win for Español, as unfortunate activity calls landed both tennisace and Zodiax losses for the Trivia + Social Media + The Studio team. This pushed Español forward once again, with no complaints from the team, as they stood securely in the semifinals.
During the semifinals... The matchups that everyone had been waiting for, such as one that decided whether or not Italiano would be fighting for its title in the finals after all, had finally come. Things didn't look good from the start, as one of Italiano's star players, Tricking, went down very quickly against NocturOP in Doubles OU. From there, Italiano suffered more unfortunate losses (and fortunate wins for Español) and Español proceeded to the finals with a beautiful 4-0 win over the PSPL II champions.
|Ren-chon's team||Lolazo's team|
Lolazo has a nice matchup against Ren-chon, with Sneasel and Haunter able to deal heavy damage to almost every one of Ren-chon's Pokémon. Lolazo leads with Sneasel, which is a good call because it has a good matchup against everything except Mawile. Ren-chon leads with Lanturn, though he immediately has to switch out in fear of a Choice Band-boosted Knock Off. Ren-chon switches out to Intimidate Mawile, which is a smart play by Ren-chon because Mawile is a strong counter to Sneasel. Lolazo is forced to switch because Sneasel cannot do very much in the situation except be taken out by a Play Rough. Xatu switches in for Sneasel, predicting Stealth Rock, but Ren-chon smartly opts for Baton Pass to scout what Lolazo will switch into. Ren-chon brings Lanturn back in for a better matchup. Lolazo then predicts a Scald and switches Hariyama in, hoping for a burn so that Hariyama's Guts will activate.
Hariyama outspeeds Lanturn (after missing the burn), which means that Lolazo is running Speed creep EVs, catching Ren-chon off-guard. Hariyama gets huge Knock Off damage, but more importantly, it removes Lanturn's Leftovers. Lanturn Volt Switches out to Tauros, which is smart because if Ren-chon predicts well, he can do huge damage to an incoming Pokémon or even knock out Hariyama. Unfortunately, Tauros misses with Iron Tail, which would have OHKOed Hariyama with the Life Orb and Sheer Force combination.
Hariyama hits back with Knock Off, letting Ren-chon know that Hariyama is Choice-locked (because otherwise why not use Close Combat?). Tauros proceeds to use Rock Climb, knocking Hariyama out. Lolazo brings out Sneasel, a good call considering that Sneasel can Pursuit trap Tauros and OHKO it no matter what. Lolazo predicts that Ren-chon won't switch and goes for the safe option in Knock Off, ensuring a KO on Tauros. Ren-chon brings out Scyther, which tells Lolazo that it probably runs Choice Scarf, as Sneasel normally outspeeds Scyther. Scyther U-turns out to Lanturn as Lolazo switches directly into Lanturn, absorbing the U-turn. Lolazo fishes for a burn with Scald while Ren-chon's Lanturn persists with a Hidden Power Ground or Grass. Lolazo proves that he really wants the burn but still doesn't get it while Ren-chon tries to predict a switch and goes for Scald as well.
Lolazo continues with Scald and finally gets the burn on Lanturn, while Ren-chon also burns the opposing Lanturn before his Lanturn succumbs to its own burn. Ren-chon brings in Archeops and uses Earthquake to finish Lanturn off. Lolazo brings out Regirock, which can eat up any hit Archeops wants to throw at it. Ren-chon switches in Uxie to take a Rock Slide, though Lolazo could have set up Stealth Rock there. Lolazo switches to Xatu to prevent Ren-chon's own Stealth Rock from going up (which is unlikely because Mawile has Intimidate, which is often paired with Stealth Rock), and Uxie can't do very much to Xatu, while Ren-chon goes for Giga Drain, hoping Lolazo keeps Regirock in, to get some super effective damage off. Uxie then goes for Signal Beam, doing some meager damage to Xatu, especially considering that Xatu has Roost. Xatu goes for Thunder Wave to cripple something and maybe get some parahax. Xatu then goes for Signal Beam, which looks like a smart play, but with Uxie's natural bulk, the attack does less than 30% damage. Uxie goes for another Signal Beam, which scores the same amount of neutral damage on Xatu as the super effective hit on Uxie, effectively showing how immensely bulky Uxie is. Xatu heals with Roost, which seems like a good play, but Uxie goes for Calm Mind to bolster its offense and bulk. Xatu uses Signal Beam once more, but Uxie's is more powerful and confuses Xatu in the end. Lolazo keeps Xatu in, probably so it can faint and he can bring in Sneasel to revenge kill Uxie, provided that Sneasel has Pursuit.
Uxie continues to break through the paralysis and decides to use Giga Drain to regain health, which is a smart play given that with Leftovers, it gets 12% health back, with Xatu only doing a maximum of 20%, so Uxie is really only taking 8% damage per turn. When Xatu faints, Lolazo brings out Haunter, which probably means that Sneasel lacks Pursuit. Still, Haunter scares every Pokémon that Ren-chon has left. Ren-chon switches Scyther in to a Shadow Ball, which does around 70% and gets a Special Defense drop, which doesn't matter because the next hit would KO anyway. Lolazo switches Haunter out to Regirock, a good counter to Scyther, while Scyther uses Knock Off, only scoring a middling 14% damage.
Scyther stays in, risking being knocked out by Rock Slide while Lolazo sets up Stealth Rock. Ren-chon lets Scyther faint to Rock Slide, as it can't come back in again anyway, and then he brings out Uxie, hoping to break through Rock Slide's flinch chance and its paralysis, though it cannot and falls to Rock Slide. Mawile comes out, and if it lacks Iron Head (which is uncommon on Intimidate Mawile), it's over for Ren-chon. Mawile goes for Play Rough, meaning that it lacks Iron Head, and then it is demolished by Earthquake. Regirock then OHKOes Archeops, securing a strong win for Español. Lolazo had the advantage because Regirock countered or checked three of Ren-chon's Pokémon. Sneasel was a huge threat to all of Ren-chon's team as well, bar Mawile, and Haunter had been a threat to everything except Lanturn.
|White Queen's team||ImSNT's team|
Right off the bat, both players are looking like solid contenders. WhiteQueen starts the game with Beedrill and immediately Mega Evolves and U-turns out to Salamence as Nidoqueen sets up Stealth Rock, which is an obvious move and a smart play by WhiteQueen to get Salamence in before it would take entry hazard damage. ImSNT then switches to Shaymin, likely predicting an Earthquake, though it might have given WhiteQueen an opportunity to set up, so either way it was a risky move. On the switch, Salamence drops a Draco Meteor that takes a huge chunk out of Shaymin's HP. Shaymin remains in, probably hoping to either Rest or outspeed Salamence and OHKO it with Hidden Power Ice, but Salamence wins what is assumed to be a Speed tie and finishes off Shaymin with another Draco Meteor. ImSNT goes to Feraligatr, which is a smart choice given that Salamence is at -4 Special Attack and it's an opportune time for Feraligatr to set up. Instead, however, ImSNT opts to use Crunch on WhiteQueen's switch to Porygon2, only getting middling damage off.
Without having set up, Feraligatr is essentially useless squaring up against Porygon2, so ImSNT switches to Reuniclus, likely predicting a Thunder Wave or Toxic, both of which are detrimental to Feraligatr's sweeping potential. However, WhiteQueen opts for Tri Attack, and due to ImSNT's double switching, Chandelure ended up paralyzed, though it does manage to Trick its Choice Specs onto Porygon2. WhiteQueen switches to Gligar knowing that if Chandelure stays in, he will be able to set up Stealth Rock, with no chance for Chandelure to OHKO Gligar without hax. With Stealth Rock now up, ImSNT switches to Feraligatr, and WhiteQueen knows that Gligar would just avoid being OHKOed by both Waterfall and Ice Punch and decides to slow U-turn out to Salamence as Feraligatr instead uses Crunch, scoring yet again very meager damage. ImSNT switches Feraligatr out for Chandelure to sacrifice what he deemed a useless Pokémon at that point. Salamence cleverly Roosts and then drops a Draco Meteor on Chandelure.
A revenge kill is imminent. ImSNT has lost two key Pokémon to Salamence and finds himself in prime position to remove it from play, so he brings in Aerodactyl and Mega Evolves it, proceeding with a Stone Edge to OHKO. Fortunately for WhiteQueen, he sees through the obvious revenge kill attempt and switches to Porygon2, narrowly missing the attack. A few turns of Tri Attack-Roost-Stone Edge leapfrog and some crippling freezes later, Mega Aerodactyl falls to Porygon2 and ImSNT forfeits, issuing the win to WhiteQueen and Português!
In the end, after zdrup15, Golden Freddy's, and Brazilian Army pulled off three more wins for Português, they were able to snag the championship title for themselves, winning Pokémon Showdown! Premier League III! Both teams fought valiantly and played some impressive games. Commiserations to the Español room and all of its talented players, and we hope to see similar attitudes in the next PSPL. Italiano could come back and reclaim their title, Português might deny anyone access to their championship, or—who knows?—a new competitor could step up to the plate to assume their rank as the top team on Showdown. See you guys next year!
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