Smogon Premier League 8 - Week 6 Overview

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Introduction

If you've missed last week's edition, make sure to catch it here.

The Smogon Premier League (SPL) is Smogon's most prestigious team tournament, assembling a plethora of squads filled with distinguished Pokémon battlers competing in a multitude of Smogon tiers, ranging from the minuscule threats in Little Cup to the behemoths dwelling in Ubers. In the eighth instalment of one of the most highly anticipated tournaments in Smogon's yearly cycle, the ten squads will contend for the elusive Smogon Premier League trophy. This series seeks to address the weekly incidents in said tournament and provide a general overview of what exactly is going on in SPL, as well as featuring highlight matches in the aforementioned tiers. We've asked a few knowledgeable players coming from a multitude of different tiers to chime in and contribute to the weekly editions in order to obtain an unbiased and proficient outlook on the tournament. In this specific instalment, we will be covering everything related to the sixth week of SPL. For all SPL aficionados as well as casual Smogon readers, the coverage of the 8th Edition of the Smogon Premier League is a weekly must-read.

The Week in Review

Around The League

In this week's edition of Around The League, we will be interviewing BKC, the Raiders' 34k GSC OU starlet, and Funkasaurus, long-time Ever Grande BIGs manager and personality. This segment will hopefully showcase what's going on in SPL from an insider's perspective as well as accentuate focal points and disclose what we should be keeping an eye out for during the remainder of the hectic season. Following the sixth week of the Smogon Premier League's cycle, we decided to approach BKC and Funk with a handful of questions pertaining to their team's performance in general as well as their own roles within the team.

Sunday Raids: BKC Interview

Obviously, your price tag has been a point of discussion since the auction. While 34k isn't totally unprecedented, it certainly stands out, and you happened to be the most expensive player in this year's auction. Did you feel any added element of pressure to perform because of this? Do you think that the price tag puts a target on your back for opponents to try and take you down because you're obviously one of the best players in the pool given your price? Do you think you should have cost this much, more, or less?

I've heard every mockery there is in my time playing Pokémon but "34K and not winning" is one you definitely don't want to hear, because it's letting your team down. In addition, my team tournament records are generally not stellar, so I had that as motivation as well. Plus I really, REALLY want that SPL trophy, and winning my games is among the best things I can do to help achieve it. In conclusion, winning is Great.

Granted, my ability to assist my teammates in a variety of ways is also part of what drove my price up, since I have made and continue to make a million teams in gens 3-5, have my fair share in 2 and 6, and am very familiar with SM, RBY, and Ubers as well. Plus I'm a good teammate, since I'm a generally nice guy with a fun sense of humor and a knack for writing well-received fanfiction of my teammates (I think this last part is what the other teams bidding on me were really trying to get).

I'm not sure if it's the price tag that'd make people really want to beat me as much as it is wanting to beat BKC, as horribly egotistical as that sounds. (Really, I'm sorry.) It's a benefit to beat the most expensive player, for sure, but everyone wants to win real bad in SPL no matter what unless your in-season fate is determined already. It does mean that everyone will be watching to see how the most expensive guy does, though.

I think I should've cost less; 34K is absurd for just about anyone. Personally I don't think any player is worth over 30K (over 25K is a stretch to begin with honestly) and that price shouldn't even be approached save for a very select few. However I'm glad the Raiders went as high as they did on me.

Oh and my price also graced us with this log:

The Raiders are off to a fantastic start, and you're one of the biggest contributors to this success. You guys surely have a lot of good players, but there's also an element of synergy that has to do with it. Are you happy with your entire team and do you get along with everyone on board? Do you have any regrets whatsoever about how this SPL has transpired so far? Do you think the Raiders will continue to cruise through the regular season into the playoffs or will it become more challenging?

No regrets whatsoever. Like, I could nitpick small things like my buddy and #1 GSC helper CasedVictory does (for example a few moves in my game against Veteran In Love, or one move in particular against d0nut, or giving roscoe's week 1 Bronzong max Defense so it could adequately counter Jirachi) but it is seriously hard to complain about anything on this team. Everyone gets along really, really well, and I wouldn't get rid of anyone. I mean, I write stories about our lovely LC player's love life (if you're wondering, it features two members of the OU council). Hard to have better comraderie than that!

I think our Sunday raids will continue through the next three weeks, yes. We've definitely had some tense moments—several of our series have been very close—but I have complete faith in the guys and girl. M Dragon mentioned the regular season record, SPL 3's 8-1 BIGs (16 points, albeit in a season without ties, but still very impressive) and I think we can definitely at least match that record (honestly I think we'll surpass it, but I'm supposed to say that to show confidence in us and all).

If you had to ask an individual in the Smogon Community what tier you are the best at, a vast majority of those who answer would say ADV, DPP, or BW. So far, you have played only GSC, and this week, you are slotted in SM Ubers. Do you find this SPL particularly interesting to participate in due to the tiers you are playing and do you enjoy this moreso than the norm? Do you think that you will play either of these tiers more in formal tournament settings in the future? Do you think that SM Ubers is a tier you are capable of performing at a consistent SPL level in until your teammate, Hack, comes back?

Those ignoramuses should definitely be answering RBY, because it's my favorite! Playing GSC has definitely added an element of interest to SPL because there are so many more intricate parts of the tier I haven't yet explored. You could go "hey man, how about trying (insert Snorlax set) this week" to Conflict or Earthworm or Jorgen and they'd go "eh, done it a million times" and I'd be all "hot dog, that sounds fun!" That, and the tier's surface-level similarity as opposed to its later gen counterparts allows me to keep from going crazy in the building/choosing process, which is definitely the part of Pokémon that is the least fun for me (I love making teams in general but making teams specifically for a certain tournament battle drives me insane). I'll definitely be playing GSC in the Smogon Classic with a renewed vigor now that I understand it, and if I play next SPL then there's another tier that teams can put me in, so there's that.

As for Ubers, I find it fun, but I'm really here just for the week while Hack takes a break to recharge his batteries for when we really need him in the playoffs, so don't read too much into it. If I had to play it from here on out, I'm sure I could become proficient enough at it to get my team at least a serviceable record (ideally more than, considering my price). I'd certainly put in the effort, if nothing else. I've liked Ubers since DPP and I look forward to the Open each year even if my performances are never, uh, phenomenal, so maybe this time around I'll like what happens in the tier and go further. It's just that the lack of Ubers in other tournaments makes it really hard for me to give it more than a passing thought once in a while until it's time to play it, much like with other lower tiers, as opposed to the guys who live and breathe it.

Your teammate, Jayde, has had one of the most successful SPL starts in BW OU in recent history. You obviously play a significant part in his preparation and you did so during WCOP, too. Do you think Jayde has developed into one of the best BW OU players? Do you think he will continue to dominate his opponents throughout the remainder of the season? How much influence do you have on his teams when it is all said and done? Which one of you decided that Custap Berry Tyranitar was the way to go (I need to know who to thank because that's a nice tech)?

Jayde is definitely one of the best BWers around. He was definitely more than capable back when it was the main generation (I actually used a team of his in one of my WCoP games a few years ago) and he's really grown as a player overall. Nowadays he's just lights-out and I would not be surprised at all to see him go undefeated.

As far as the influence, we're always throwing stuff around and working together on everything imaginable. I always approve the final product (not hard to, he knows what's good in the tier so it's not like I'm stuck explaining why weatherless Volcarona HO is "ungood" as we like to say) after we're done sorting all our options out. As far as the credit for building the actual team that gets used goes, it varies -

Custap on Tyranitar was actually KratosMana's idea! He posted about it in RoA last summer. We didn't need Chople and I was considering Lum but it also felt unnecessary. It actually would've come into play in the match, but SoulWind's Draco Meteor that would've put Tar in range as Jayde KOed it missed. Go figure.

You're one of the biggest old generation enthusiasts and players in the community, without a doubt. Is there any specific match this week or perhaps one that is likely to happen over the course of the next two weeks that you're particularly looking forward to spectating? Are there any individuals in any tier RBY-BW that you believe have proven themselves as strong players during this SPL?

I love questions like this! We've gotten a ton of classic matchups this year in DPP (this week we'll have 6A9 Ace Matador vs. Philip7086 for example), and the next two weeks further reflect that, but there are tons of potentially great battles in many tiers, especially as the playoff race reaches its zenith; it's going to be an incredibly close home stretch. Refraining from mentioning any Raiders in this answer.

Week 8
Tigers vs. Scooters
SM - p2 vs. TheThorn / obii
ORAS - Nintendi vs. Axel10
DPP - Tamahome vs. Philip7086
ADV - McMeghan vs. Ojama
Ruiners vs. Sharks
BW - sugarhigh vs. dice
DPP - august vs. ToF
Wolfpack vs. Falcons
SM - FlamingVictini vs. Sweepage
GSC - Fear vs. Mr.E
BIGs vs. Cryonicles
SM - Finchinator vs. Poek
BW - Ciele vs. SoulWind
RBY - Alexander vs. Peasounay
Week 9
Classiest vs. Sharks
BW - Eo Ut Mortus vs. dice
DPP - 6A9 Ace Matador vs. ToF
GSC - Earthworm vs. Veteran In Love
BIGs vs. Falcons
SM - Finchinator vs. Sweepage
BW - Ciele vs. Shoka
DPP - Mael vs. Sauga
RBY - Alexander vs. Bedschibaer
Scooters vs. Wolfpack
SM - obii vs. FlamingVictini
ADV - Ojama vs. Astamatitos
GSC - Mr.378 vs. Fear
Tigers vs. Cryonicles
SM - p2 vs. Poek / njnp
ORAS - Nintendi vs. njnp / Poek
BW - Tokyo Tom vs. SoulWind
DPP - Tamahome vs. Atticus / Marshall.Law
ADV - McMeghan vs. Fakes

There have been several great performers in each tier who've really shown their stuff and show no sign of stopping, so I'll finish off with those:

Pushing for Postseason Participation: Funkasaurus Interview

You've now been managing the Ever Grande BIGs for a few years. Is there any aspect of managing that you find to be especially enjoyable? How about any aspect that you find to be the least enjoyable?

Yeah, I've been a part of BIGs management since SPL 4. Been a rollercoaster of performances. SPL 6 is definitely the peak of my managing. I don't think I'd ever draft a team as good as that one ended up being. It's more likely that this season will mark the end of my managing "career," though. Never got to be a part of SPL as a player, so I'll try my hand at it next season. But to get back on topic, the auction is usually the best part of SPL for me. Usually would get into a Skype or Discord call with my assistant manager and retains and see if our auction predictions as far as pricing is concerned are correct or close. I usually make new friends with the people I draft during the auction. It's unfortunate that I made friends with Finch through it, though... Otherwise, the not enjoyable part of SPL is, well, losing. Losing games always sucks. A bunch of players tend to beat themselves up after a rough loss, and it feels bad. :(

The Bigs have been in the middle of the pack and the heat of the playoff race for a while now. Is there anything that you believe your team needs to do in order to solidify their position and make a final push into the playoff picture that you could reveal to the public? Are you satisfied with the overall performance of your team so far or do you think that you guys can do much better?

I think once we fully get our roster sorted out (I think after this week, it'll stay stagnant), we'll start winning weeks and not tying. A lot of players have impressed me quite a bit with their play. Level 56 probably impressed me the most with his play thus far. His play has been as close to immaculate as you can get. Otherwise, the overall play from most players has been really good. Posho's game against Lcans was just... wow, and ZoroDark is managing to do well despite him not being an LC player lol. I think the team will really step it up in the coming weeks and finish strong.

Ciele was one of the most interesting players bought in the auction, and his price was something that people had very different opinions on. You got him for 15k, which is probably a good value given his success over the previous year, but he has gone 2-4 so far in SM OU and BW OU. Needless to say, this is a bit of an underwhelming result so far. Do you regret purchasing him as a player? Do you think these struggles are temporary? Do you think there is anything he can do to turn it around and show his full potential as a player this SPL?

Ciele was someone who, when I knew he was signing up, I really wanted on my team. He and I have been buds for quite a while and I consider him to be one of the more consistent players nowadays. I expected him to go for way more in the auction, so for the price paid, I was ecstatic to have him aboard. I would say if Ciele signed up with the intention of playing any of the older gens that he's more known for playing, he would have been considerably higher in price. That being said, his faltering in SM hasn't instituted any regret at all. Ciele is very knowledgable in the tiers that he is very much familiar with and is always willing to provide feedback and helpful testing wherever appreciated. While 2-4 is not a great or formidable record, he's still a vital part to the team, and I can't say I have any regrets from picking him up. After the switch-up in tiers between him and Finch, he'll be much more comfortable in one of his better tiers, and his record should certainly should show improvement as a result.

Your team has now tied four weeks out of six total. This keeps you guys in contention, but might be quite frustrating to the members of your team seeing as you have blown multiple big leads and also failed to capitalize on some very winnable matchups and thrown away some games because of questionable decisions. Does this turn you off at all as a manager and dishearten you, or does this motivate you to improve in the future weeks? Is there anything you, as a manager, hope to change internally in order to try and win weeks or do you plan on keeping things the same?

In my tenure as a manager, my team has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. SPL 5, we started 2-0-0 with +12 BD and we finished 8th or something. SPL 6, we finished the season with the most wins / points, and we got knocked out in the semifinals. Despite how bad it gets, you just have to try to remain positive. Losing big leads certainly is really unfortunate, but you have to see some sort of a bright side in that situation, you know. "At least we didn't lose the week." You still get points for a tie, so it's not all bad. I think for a few, a lack of effort put forth can be detrimental to our success. If they step it up, I think we'll be okay. And as I said before, once our roster is fully settled in, I think we'll be fine for future weeks. I'm confident we'll be playoff bound by the end.

Battles of the Week

In this week's edition of Battles of the Week, we will be taking a closer look at the most intriguing games that have taken place during the sixth week of SPL. Let's delve straight into the action, shall we?

Highlight Match

SM OU - Obii v TDK - written by Finchinator

In Obii's SPL debut, he faces OverUsed Tiering Leader TDK in a key match that will play a large role in deciding the outcome of the series between the Scooters and Raiders during week 6. TDK brought an interesting team that had a nice bulky offensive backbone consisting of walls like Toxapex and perhaps Mega Scizor, but also an offensive threat like Tapu Lele and a trapper in Magnezone. On the other side, Obii brought a solid balance team with a clear bulky Fire / Water / Grass core and Zapdos.

The matchup in this game looked fairly even from a spectator's perspective. While TDK had a Magnezone to trap the opposing Mega Scizor, Mega Scizor often run Speed EVs, so perhaps a key factor in how the game will transpire is if TDK will be quicker than Mega Scizor with his Magnezone or not. TDK also has a Tapu Lele, which can potentially threaten almost every team, so the set he uses will be noteworthy. On Obii's side, the Zapdos spread and moves will be relevant, as Zapdos can potentially be irksome to the core of TDK's team. Additionally, a well-played Zygarde can potentially weaken or defeat TDK's team depending on the context of the game and, therefore, should be played around easily and can perhaps turn the tide in Obii's favor.

As the game transpired, both players set up entry hazards, and Obii managed to trap the opposing Toxapex with a well-played Magma Storm Earth Power Heatran. This gave Obii an early advantage in his first SPL game, but there was still a long way to go. TDK brought in his Landorus-T to regain momentum and attempt to revenge kill the Heatran. He managed to force Obii's hand into foddering his Amoonguss, evening the game out and giving Obii a chance to regain momentum of his own. A pair of pivots and a series of Substitutes and Roosts from Dragonite on Zapdos led to Obii finding himself, once again, in a commanding position, with his Zapdos putting Dragonite in an awkward position. Eventually, TDK managed to goto his Mega Scizor on Zapdos and, subsequently, hit it with Knock Off due to avoiding a incoming Heat Wave, which was a relevant piece of luck in the favor of the Raiders' OU player.

TDK brought the aforementioned ORAS Dragonite set, Substitute / Dragon Dance / Roost / Fly, but it did not prove to be too effective in this matchup despite being quite interesting; Obii's Zapdos with Discharge and Hidden Power Ice eventually defeated it handily after forcing it out for the first time earlier on. Then, TDK managed to KO the opposing Scizor with Supersonic Skystrike from his Landorus-T, giving him an advantage going into the closing sequence of the game.

During the late-game, Tapu Lele posed a huge threat to the remaining Pokémon on Obii's team, and it managed to pick Heatran and Zapdos off between pivoting away from Zygarde into his Scizor and U-turning back into Tapu Lele on the Zapdos. Then, Tapu Lele also KOed the aforementioned Zygarde, as it happened to be quicker, after which it was revenged by Keldeo; however, Magnezone nailed the final KO on Keldeo and gave TDK the victory. Overall, both players played relatively well, and Obii showed that he is capable of competing at an SPL level while TDK, once again, demonstrated his continuous success this SPL. Hopefully we will see more high-level battles featuring both of these players in the near future!

Featured Replays

DPP OU - Philip7086 v roscoe - written by Finchinator

Two of the best DPPers in the field this year fought each other during week 6. Philip7086 of the Indie Scooters and roscoe of the Team Raiders played in a game that was crucial to the outcome of the week.

Phil led a Machamp while roscoe led with Dragonite. Phil got off to an early lead as roscoe pivoted to Gengar on an Ice Punch and then used Will-O-Wisp into the Machamp but encountered a Lum Berry, which meant the Machamp could make quick work of the Gengar with Payback. Then, roscoe followed up with Roserade, which put the Machamp to sleep, set up a layer of Toxic Spikes, and got a critical hit with Sludge Bomb, doing 94% as Machamp did not wake up. Unfortunately for Phil and the Scooters, Roscoe got another critical hit on the following turn with Hidden Power Ground, which was aimed at the Machamp, but hit a Tyranitar for 61% damage.

He then KOed it with the same move on the following turn and forced an Infernape from Phil onto the field. Infernape U-turned into a Lum Berry Kingdra, which encountered a Swampert. In an eager attempt to weaken the Swampert, Kingdra used Outrage, hitting it once as it laid up Stealth Rock and then prompting roscoe to switch to his Jirachi. Jirachi was a Choice Scarf variant and U-turned out as Kingdra set up Dragon Dance; then Jirachi pivoted back in to tank the ensuing Outrage as Kingdra fainted to residual damage and another U-turn, after which Swampert came out for roscoe and Infernape for Phil. Phil's Infernape revealed that it was holding Choice Band, as it did 50% to Dragonite with Close Combat, but then roscoe made a good prediction by Fire Blasting into a Rotom-W switch-in from Phil, who predicted Dragonite to use Extreme Speed.

Rotom-W used Shadow Ball twice into the incoming Roserade, while a very weakened Roserade managed to take out the Rotom-W on the second turn with Sludge Bomb. From there, Phil revealed Heracross, which survived a Fire Punch from Jirachi before fainting to residual damage, and roscoe revealed his last Pokémon, a Raikou, which survived a Mach Punch from Infernape and revenge killed it, securing a 3-0 victory for roscoe of the Raiders.

Conclusion

I hope you've all enjoyed this week's edition of Smogon Premier League Week Overview. It was undoubtedly a dynamic follow-up to the intriguing fifth week, and that should only rise to higher levels as we approach the later rounds of the competition. For any further information that may pertain to Smogon Premier League, make sure to check out the following resources:

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