Smogon Premier League 8 - Week 8 Overview

By Klefkwi.
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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 eigth 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

With the regular season nearing the end, many teams were in close contention for the playoff spots—while the undefeated Raiders had already secured the first seed and the Classiest already had been eliminated, the other eight teams were going neck to neck, so this week was a true do or die moment for most of them. Let's take a look at how they did!

Circus Maximus Tigers (8) vs Indie Scooters (4)
SM OU: Steve Angello vs obii
SM OU: p2 vs TheThorn
SM OU: Eternal Spirit vs Welli0u (recreate here)
SM Ubers: Mazar vs Gunner Rohan
SM LC: OP vs Star
SM DOU: MajorBowman vs Biosci
ORAS OU: Nintendi vs Axel10
BW OU: Tokyo Tom vs Tricking
DPP OU: Tamahome vs Philip7086
ADV OU: JabbaTheGriffin vs Ojama
GSC OU: McMeghan vs Mr.378
RBY OU: Golden Gyarados vs Crystal_ (Game 1 | Game 2)

The Circus Maximus Tigers came into Week 8 following an even series against the BIGs, which eventually resulted in a (6-6) tie. tennisace's squad seemed like a longshot for playoff contention, sitting in 7th prior to week 8. Similarly, the Scooters also possessed a similar record, but they were doing significantly better in terms of position regarding the overall standings. Nonetheless, both teams were very much still in the postseason mix and were extremely motivated coming into a decisive week.

Getting into the series, the Tigers' OverUsed core thoroughly impressed spectators once more, with Steve Angello and p2 putting on incredible displays despite Eternal Spirit's loss to Welli0u (following a bizarre series of events that found the game having to be re-done a few times). As far as older generations go, Tokyo Tom and Tamahome (this time in DPP compared to last week's RBY win) both were able to come out on top, against Tricking and Philip7086. Likewise, McMeghan was able to achieve the positive result after bouncing back from the Week 7 loss against dekzeh, this time knocking down Mr.378, who seems to be in a run of bad form as of late, having dropped his last 3 games following an undefeated start. In a spectacular contest, MajorBowman was able to edge Biosci in DOU (game coverage will follow further down the article) while OP and Mazar both also won their matches in SM LC and SM Ubers, respectively. For the Scoots, the few bright spots included Ojama and Crystal_'s victories in older generations (ADV and RBY) as well as Axel10's ORAS OU victory over Nintendi. Following the somewhat unexpected one-sided outcome, the Scooters have dropped to 7th while the Tigers climbed towards 6th placed, as both squads can still make the playoffs depending on favourable results in other series as well as their own.

Alpha Ruiners (3) vs Stark Sharks (9)
SM OU: Geemick vs xtra$hine
SM OU: Enki vs -Snow
SM OU: ABR vs PDC
SM Ubers: Pohjis vs Minority
SM LC: Hogg vs Corporal Levi
SM DOU: Nido-rus vs I Am a Rookie
ORAS OU: Blunder vs reiku
BW OU: Sugarhigh vs dice
DPP OU: Golden Sun vs ToF
ADV OU: Smurf. vs undisputed
GSC OU: Idiotfrommars vs Bomber
RBY OU: MetalGr0$$ vs Kevin Garrett (Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3)

Following their Week 7 loss at the hands of the Wolfpack (7-5), the Stark Sharks came into Week 8 in need of a convincing win not only to keep their playoff hopes alive, but also to ensure that the Ruiners would be eliminated from the tournament. Said Ruiners were also coming off of a loss, though in much more staggering fashion, having been eradicated by the Cryonicles (10-2) in what was an extremely poor showing overall.

For the surging Sharks, all of their SM OU players won their matches in convincing fashion, laying down the foundations for a successful week. Minority continues his solid run of form after being subbed in for Lord Outrage, winning in SM Ubers against a fresh face in Pohjis and waltzing towards an impressive 3-1 record. Moving along, all of reiku, dice, ToF, and undisputed won in old gens and guaranteed the positive result for the Sharks, with I Am a Rookie furthering his splendid season in SM DOU with yet another win. The Ruiners, on the other hand, seemed to be incredibly sluggish and apathetic, dropping pretty much all of their games early in the week, indicating the demeanor that was bound to ensue. All of their SM OU players dropped their games, while the older generation players didn't fare much better either, going 2-4 (idiotfrommars and MetalGr0$$ did manage to win) by the end of the series. Hogg achieved the final win for the Ruiners, who were eventually eliminated from SPL as a result, sitting in 9th place, only ahead of the Classiest.

Wifi Wolfpack (6) vs Firebot Falcons (6)
SM OU: FlamingVictini vs ben gay
SM OU: Gingy vs Aurious
SM OU: Freestylerking vs xray
SM Ubers: The Trap God vs Lacus Clyne
SM LC: Sken vs zf
SM DOU: SamVGC vs finally
ORAS OU: Chill Shadow vs Get This Money
BW OU: LuckOverSkill vs Leftiez
DPP OU: Bad Ass vs Mizuhime
ADV OU: Astamatitos vs Triangles
GSC OU: choolio vs Mr.E
RBY OU: Nails vs Bedschibaer (Game 1 | Game 2)

After an astounding midseason turnaround, the Wi-Fi Wolfpack came into Week 8 following a 7-5 win over the Sharks, placing them in prime position to contend for the playoff spots. On the other end of the spectrum, the Firebot Falcons were defeated by the seemingly infallible Raiders and fell down the standings, needing a positive result to put them back on top. Everything was set for an invigorating series, which was exactly what we got from the two squads.

Following last week's positive results, Chill Shadow and Nails were both able to achieve yet another win in successive weeks, beating out Get This Money and Bedschibaer, respectively. To round out the older generations OU core, Astamatitos, Bad Ass, and LuckOverSkill also won their matches, while their only loss in that department came from choolio at the hands of Mr.E in GSC. However, the Wolfpack did not display such superiority in SM, where the Falcons admittedly edged them out, winning in 2/3 of the OU matches (ben gay and xray) as well as Ubers, LC, and DOU. In Ubers, Lacus Clyne made use of a solid team as well as some positive luck to dispatch The Trap God and further her unexpected SPL success. In the end, neither team was consistent enough to pull away from the other, ending the series in a 6-6 tie, still leaving the Wolfpack in a comfortable third place whilst the Falcons remain in a struggling position at 8th, needing a small miracle to get them through to the next round.

Team Raiders (8) vs Congregation of the Classiest (4)
SM OU: Nedor vs JohnYiu
SM OU: reyscarface vs z0mOG
SM OU: TDK vs Advantage
SM Ubers: Kingler12345 (activity win) vs FAJI
SM LC: mad0ka vs GOAO
SM DOU: Croven vs Braverius
ORAS OU: KratosMana vs Lcans
BW OU: Jayde vs Eo Ut Mortus
DPP OU: roscoe vs Reymedy
ADV OU: UD vs Danilo
GSC OU: BKC vs Earthworm
RBY OU: Tobes vs Lusch (Game 1 | Game 2)

As per usual, the Raiders strolled into Week 8 after having beaten the Falcons (7-5) during Week 7, adding to their already surreal winning streak. They were already a lock for the playoffs, meaning that managers Sam and FLCL could do some testing and shuffling around during the final weeks in order to prepare even better for the incoming postseason. On the Classiest side, they didn't have much to play for either, having been decisively eliminated long ago and playing pretty much for pride at this point.

As expected, the Raiders took care of the Classiest during these seven days, winning eight out of a possible twelve matches, with the OverUsed stars in TDK, Nedor, and KratosMana all winning their matches. Furthermore, the undefeated duo of Jayde and reyscarface have proven to be the epitome of the Raiders' consistency, coming out victorious against Eo and z0mOG. Having been subbed in for a missing Hack, Kingler12345 obtained the activity win over an also missing FAJI, while the fresh face in Croven defeated Braverius. To round out the eight wins, old gens connoisseur BKC beat Earthworm in GSC OU to push the Raiders onto Week 9 in the best of form, having ploughed through the opposition. On the Classiest side of things, they seem to be leaving the tournament in the same way they've been through all of it, having lost almost every series, with only GOAO, Danilo, Reymedy, and Lusch obtaining positive results. Despite this being an unimportant series, it did still showcase quality play from both sides and was definitely entertaining.

Ever Grande BIGS (7) vs Cryonicles (5)
SM OU: Finchinator vs Poek
SM OU: Posho vs Zamrock
SM OU: Obliviate vs Marshall.Law
SM Ubers: Level 56 vs Fireburn
SM LC: ZoroDark vs ice tea
SM DOU: DaAwesomeDude1 vs njnp
ORAS OU: Genesis7 vs Atticus
BW OU: Ciele vs SoulWind
DPP OU: Mael vs Colchonero
ADV OU: dekzeh vs New Breed
GSC OU: d0nut vs Fakes
RBY OU: Alexander. vs Peasounay (Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3)

In perhaps the most anticipated series of the week, the Ever Grande BIGs were set to face the streaking Cryonicles. In the previous week, the BIGs had tied with the Tigers (as per usual) while the Cryonicles were coming off of an incisive thrashing of the Ruiners. With playoff hopes and positioning in play, everyone expected this matchup to be extremely enticing and heavily contested.

The BIGs' "vocal leader" and OverUsed starlet in Finchinator starts us off with an interesting loss at the hands of the equally skilled Poek in SM OU. Posho was able to pull it back for the BIGs, defeating Zamrock. Peasounay defeated Alexander. in a dramatic RBY series, but the BIGs went on to take a big lead, with ZoroDark and DaAwesomeDude1 both achieving their own wins in SM LC and SM DOU while the oldgen players in Genesis7, Ciele and d0nut also attained positive results in what was a favourable week for the BIGs. However, quality meme generator and Ubers Tier Leader Fireburn pulled back for the Cryos, defeating the recently disgruntled Level 56, who has absolutely dipped in form after a blistering start to the season. To further the Cryonicles' chances at a victory, Colchonero and New Breed all won their matches, which almost led to an incredible Cryonicles comeback during SPL Sunday. Nonetheless, it was not enough, as the BIGs finally managed to win a week (after four consecutive ties) when Obliviate secured the win against Marshall.Law. They now look to finalise their great season with a trip to the playoffs (currently sit in second behind the Raiders), whilst the Cryos sit right behind, in fifth, also looking to make a splash onto the playoff scene by winning during Week 9 and making it to the coveted postseason.

Around The League

In this week's edition of Around The League, we will be interviewing the Wolfpack manager duo (Pearl and rozes) as well as SM OU/Ubers prodigy Mazar and the undefeated Raider in reyscarface. 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 eigth week of the Smogon Premier League's cycle, we decided to approach Pearl, rozes, Mazar, and reyscarface with a handful of questions pertaining to their team's performance in general as well as their own roles within the team.

Awooooo: Pearl & rozes Interview

Coming into this season, there was a lot of comments thrown around regarding the Wolfpack's draft. Can you comment on your mindset/plan going into the draft as well as how the draft eventually turned out (analysing it with current insight)? Do you think you guys were at fault for picking up so many players?

Pearl

First of all, I'd like to thank you for giving me the chance to do this! I truly appreciate what you've been doing, since SPL is, in my opinion, one of the best things Smogon has to give to people who work hard to receive recognition, and sharing it with newer players might be a good way of motivating them to do better. With that said, this is actually a topic I've discussed with my own players in the past. Going into the draft, our plan featured an interesting combination of seasoned veterans in Astamatitos and Fear, and a lot of unproven players, with the biggest question marks to outsiders probably being Void, Snowy., and Tony. However, there was one single trait we searched for in all of our future players: maturity. I know that there are many abrasive players that still get bought every year due to their sheer talent, but both rozes and I agreed that we'd rather have a good time instead of spending the whole season trying to keep egos from clashing. In the end, this proved to be vital, since it allowed us to bounce back from a very rocky start, as aside from Oliver PROBLEMS, everyone else stayed on their toes and kept giving it their all. However, there are obviously some things I would've done differently: for starters, I would've invested money on an active Ubers player instead of gambling on a known player with shaky activity. Besides that, I think it would've been beneficial if we drafted a big name to hold the SM OU fort. Two of the people I had in mind for that before the draft were Poek (who's currently 6-2) and PDC (who's also 6-2). As for the whopping number of people we've drafted, I regret nothing about it, since literally everyone on the team has contributed to our success, even if they haven't received the chance to prove it on the battlefield. All in all, between the successful campaign post Week 2 and the many hilarious moments we've shared together, it's safe to say that I'm very pleased with how our draft turned out.

rozes

Well, going into auction we had a very set-in-mind plan on who we waned in terms of first pick, second pick, etc for most tiers. Joey + FV also gave their thoughts on who they thought we should pick up, and in the end we had a very solid gameplan that ended with the draft going the way we wanted to. Our main aim was to basically get Asta as soon as possible, then kind of center the draft around him, picking up players like Fear who we knew would work well with him.

Looking back at it, I think it worked out pretty well for us. There were obviously some things I would do differently, like spending a lot of money on certain slots and not up bidding players to run other teams out of money, and pick up players that could have helped out. At the end of the day though I think our roster turned out very solid, and I really wouldn't change too much. And as for the comments that say we drafted to many players, I don't really get why that's considered such a bad thing. We have a lot of players that work well together and support each other, and in the end we are as close if not closer than a lot of other teams. Basically everyone on the team has high activity, and in the end we are all going towards the same goals, so it works.

You're both one of the most "in-tune" managers out there. Can you describe the whole process of starting off badly and coming back to sitting in a favorable position right now (as of the end of Week 8)? What do you think were the biggest reasons for such an impressive turnaround? Can you comment on your team's current scenario as well as mood and overall demeanor?

Pearl

Although I often take pride in my ability to deal with people, even under dire circumstances, I won't deny that I was pretty shaken after the first two weeks. Don't get me wrong; I knew that our team had potential to do better than it did in the first two weeks of SPL (in fact, I still believe that our Week 1 loss was mostly due to external factors, but there's no point in dwelling on that anymore), but it's still complicated to start SPL off with two big defeats. I'd say that the most important factor behind our comeback was, as I've previously mentioned, the fact that out of 20+ people, only one of them actually lost motivation. Pretty much everyone stayed cheerful and kept on testing and sharing ideas for their games, which allowed us to barely stay afloat until the end of Week 4. With that said, midseason was definitely the turning point for the Wifi Wolfpack. By selling back our two inactive players and trading Tokyo Tom to the Circus Maximum Tigers, we had just enough credits to patch up most of our holes while also reinforcing some of our stronger points with the additions of Vinc2612 and Fiend. With a refreshed squad and a slightly less punishing schedule post Week 5, the team managed to "bounce back like Kyle Zamrock", as I affectionately like to say. As for our current situation, all I have to say is that it's great to be in control of our chances to make playoffs, and everyone on the team is extremely motivated to prove their worth in this last week of the regular season, so assuming that our attitude carries on to our performance, expect some great games from the Wifi Wolfpack! As a side note, I'd just like to add that Pokemon is far from being the only thing that the people in our team talk about; but I'll just let our Discord server talk for me on this one.

rozes

We had probably one of the worst starts imaginable (0-2-0 and down 0-4) with not much looking good for us in the following weeks. However, we kept doing our best, everyone on the team kind of hit this rhythm and found what works best for them, and we haven't dropped a series since. Everyone kind of found their pace and how they want to approach the weekly matchup, and that motivated everyone else once we started winning. We also have gotten a lot closer since then, and it's probably been the most fun I've had, whether we have been winning or losing, just to be a part of this great team. Well, right now the situation is about the same we've been dealing with every week; we need to win or we are out. Since our bad start we've basically been on the brink of elimination most weeks where a loss would tank our season, so our motivation has always been the same.

When we interview managers for our SPL recaps, we like to get some background information on them so that our readers can have some insight on the people running our teams. Both of you are extremely well known within your communities as well as on Smogon as a whole, but for those who aren't aware, we'd like you guys to share anything that can help us know you better, in regards to your personalities outside of Pokémon as well as some information about yourselves as battlers and SPL managers.

Pearl

As a wise Pokemon mastermind once said: "I have absolutely no idea who you are, but you know who I am." Jokes aside, I'm someone who's active across many different parts of Smogon, but I'd say that UU is probably my main area of interest, ever since I started playing it back when ORAS rolled around. As far as tournaments go, I actually don't have any big individual accomplishments attached to my name, with my sole claim to fame as a player being a 9-10 record across two SPLs. I do have some bright moments such as making Top 8 of the most recent RU Open or having the second highest number of points in BW OU (behind BKC) during Smogon Tour 21, but that's pretty much nothing in comparison to the repertoire of most "known" names. Although some people don't even know that I actually play Pokemon, the truth is that I legitimately like this game and am always looking to improve as an individual player, even if it's not through blindly joining every single tournament. With that said, maybe this will be a good year for me? We'll see eventually. That aside, I'd say that what I'm mostly known for are my contributions to the UU and RU forums and my infinite archive of memes made for the sole purpose of racking up mad likes on this website. There are also my positions as an SPL manager and as a WCoP captain, but those sort of go without saying here. As for personal tastes, my favorite Pokemon of all time is Walrein, and I don't really have a favorite tier ever since I got burned out of DPP UU. Right now I'm enjoying everything SM related, but after I get tired I'll probably fall back on BW OU and UU metagames in general. To conclude this segment, I'd just like to say that I see myself as a very approachable person (a vast majority of the time), so feel free to contact me if you ever feel like I'll be able to help you out with anything.

rozes

Well I'm mainly a NU player if you look at my Smogon resume so to speak. I started playing competitive pokemon around SPL 6, when an irl friend showed me the forums and I found my way to SPL and kind of realized that it would be a lot of fun to play in it eventually; that's when I made it my goal to get drafted in SPL eventually. I kind of stuck to lower tiers and eventually settled with NU when Cased drafted me in NUPL as kind of a pity buy, and after blunder quit I had to start in BW1 NU. I had fun and sort of stuck with the community after that and picked up on ORAS NU starting in like April and May, eventually getting voiced in the NU room in July.

Since then I got drafted for NU in SPL7 and played in WCoP for Team US West, playing ORAS in group stages and BW in playoffs. I was also recently promoted to NU Tier Leader with the departure of ryan, and that about sums up what I do competitive wise. I also contribute to Smogon's Twitch and host tournaments like SmogTour and the recent OU Circuit.

In terms of playing I like basically every generation but RBY since I've never really gotten the hang of it. But right now my favorite tiers to play are ADV OU and ORAS NU, since I've had a lot of fun playing the tiers and feel the most comfortable in them. My favorite Pokemon is Umbreon because I fell in love with shiny Umbreon once I saw it the first time.

Week 8 was set to be a huge week for the Wolfpack, going up against a direct competitor when taking into account potential playoff positions. Compared to other weeks, how did your roles change (if they did at all)? Did the team's preparation change at all? On the same note, can you comment on the impact the midseason pickups had in this late postseason run?

Pearl

For what it's worth, I feel like the Wolfpack's structure didn't change at all for that particular week, considering that we've been working hard during every single week. Personally, I believe that lately I've been slowing down a little when it comes to supporting my players with their Pokemon endeavors, not due to a lack of interest, but because I've also been preparing my games for some individual tournaments, which gives me less time and patience for test games. However, I still discuss possible team choices and share ideas with my players, with my biggest contributes being in BW OU and SM OU. As for our midseason pickups, they've been doing an amazing job! As I've said before, pre-midseason Wolfpack was in desperate need of something that would give the players the needed push to actually close off weeks on a positive note rather than just tying them every time, and all of our new additions contributed to that. In spite of the fact that neither of the games he has played so far went his way, Freestylerking is a pretty laid-back person with many innovative ideas (although I'm still a little sad that neither Porygon2 nor Kartana worked out the way we expected them to), and I think he's going to grow into a fine player if he starts getting more involved with the Smogon community. The Trap God is one of the few Ubers players that tried out for the team originally, and although I didn't draft him at first, I remember being pretty impressed with his level of play and creativity. With that said, after my original Ubers player quit on me, I knew just who I wanted to take over the slot. Even though his record isn't the best at the moment, I can safely say that I have absolutely no regrets regarding my choice (note: this might or might not be a lie based on the meme potential that exists within Fireburn's PS! custom avatar). Fiend is probably the one I've talked with the least to out of our players, but he's as reliable as helpers go, since the LC chat is always filled up with him and Sken sharing ideas every time I look at it. As for Vinc2612, the sole man keeping the Ruiners from collapsing (that is, until they acquired Papa Lazarus Long), I'm truly glad that we managed to salvage his SPL experience halfway through, and he's been extremely supportive in spite of the fact that we don't really have any place for him in the player lineup.

rozes

Well, I think every week has been very important and close for us since we started in such a bad position. I think this week (week 9) is the first week we aren't playing someone higher than us in standings since the Classiest in week 5. Everyone's role has basically remained the same though, since we really found our groove from week 3 onwards with everyone knowing where they need to help out and how they need to prep. In terms of midseason pickups, they have all been really helpful in terms of the tiers they play in: Fiend helping Sken in LC, Vinc helping in BW and ADV, Freestylerking in OU and Ubers, and The Trap God for picking up the Ubers mantle and keeping his chin up despite shitty luck almost every week...

Mazar Interview

You've had somewhat of a mixed journey throughout past editions of SPL. How was the process of getting back into SPL and the tournament community as a whole following your rough past in previous iterations of the tournament? Can you give us some insight into your mindset as well as your overall demeanor going into SPL 8 as well as what has changed throughout these 8 weeks?

Honestly I did not expect to get drafted this SPL. Not only did I have a pretty rough first SPL season one year before, I also felt quite rusty myself, as I took a break from mons and came back for the new generation. I was planned to be working in a supportive role, but somehow I did quite well pre-season, which gave me the opportunity to start in Week 1; and although losing to stall was a pretty hard experience, I think it made me stronger, which led to my first SPL-win ever against PDC in my 4th try and took a lot of pressure off me. I generally think that this game was the key for an open mind for the rest of the season and helped me and my team especially, which was a high priority for myself.

You've been extremely successful this season. Most of it has come from learning a new generation of OU seemlessly as well as mastering Ubers in just as little time. Can you comment on those processes as well as your opinions on both metagames? Why did the shift onto Ubers happen? Do you have any previous history in the tier?

I always liked the Ubers community just because of the number of good newcomers it produces, and also because it always had pretty edgy players, which I dislike but somehow still enjoy. Ubers certainly is where my favorite games following RU were during my Grand Slam run in 2015. So I signed up for Seasonals and at first only played teams from other people as well as Edgar's. When Edgar lost to Trap God, he told my manager to let me play in Ubers, as I had had a good seasonal run so far. Although feeling a bit unsure, because Level 56 is consistently one of the best players in Ubers, I think I gave him quite a good run for his money. And the week after I got another surprising win against Gunner Rohan, which was pretty cool, because it not only helped my team to get away with 3 points out of 2 important weeks but also improved my overall SPL record hehe.

The Tigers are one of the most, if not the most, diverse teams in all of SPL. With "older" players like McMeghan, Tamahome and Edgar and newer faces in Eternal Spirit, p2, Nintendi (just to name a few), most feel like your squad is a mixed bag of pieces. Can you give us some words about that dynamic as well as your teammates and outline the general scenario within the Tigers during these 8 weeks? Do you have any closer friends within the group itself? Who have you been impressed with the most?

The Tigers are actually a fantastic team. Not only we have veterans like Jabba, McMeghan, and Tamahome as well as esteemed RU Tier Leader atomicllamas, we also have some fresh blood in Nintendi, who might be the youngest SPL player this year. I really liked preparing with him the first weeks, although my ORAS is pretty bad, because I—thank god—missed the last stage of the metagame; I saw a lot of myself in him and I think if he wants to he can become an impressive player in the future. Before his game vs Genesis7 he posted his teamm and McMeghan thought the Choice move on Magnezone was not necessary, so I suggested Chople Zone, while Tama wanted AVZone, which wasn't really a thing in Gen 6; and although the team was pretty weak to Lopunny he picked the AV and Zone lived a hit vs Genesis's Hydreigon. That was probably one of the funniest moments this SPL. Tamahome and McMeghan in general impress me the most. They both support our old gens so much and can read their opponents, their playstyles, and their habits like a book. They were totally worth their price. MajorBowman aka the guy that visits the whole world during one SPL also is someone that really brought some openness into the team when he posted pics when he was drunk in the conversation; together with the Mastermind behind him, miltankmilk, he was a really cool pick for our Doubles slot. Jabba, who always doubts himself, tennisace, who seems to only be online on Sundays, Golden Gyarados, who is just too unlucky despite being a god in RBY preparation, DeepBlueC, who is a huge prospect in DPP, and Zebraiken and OP, who are a congenial duo I really like, they work together, and despite being quite unlucky at start OP figured out how he could improve his win percentage. It also was pretty cool that Zebraiken as a former TD got to know me from another perspective. Giara had a rough individual SPL; still, I think "Gignac," like I call him, is a fantastic player who just couldn't show what he did past years. Knowing the lack of GSC players I was actually really happy when I saw I got drafted into a team with him. I hope he will have his moments in the remainder of SPL.

In midseason we got memelord Tokyo Thomas, who is one of the funniest guys I've ever met. I mean, he's not even Japanese, but Chinese, and his name is not even Thomas lol. I like him a lot; he even said sorry to me personally after he lost to LuckOverSkill because I wanted to at least get one win over Pearl's Wolfpack, but Tokyo Tom wanted to play it over me—what a nice person <3. And finally our OU core that definitely overshadowed a lot of other teams. Ranked #10 in Power Ranking, Steve Angello, p2, and Eternal Spirit showed everyone how good our SM OU is, and Eternal Spirit, who builds a ton of teams every week, and p2, who doesn't seem like a newcomer at all, have good builds and know what to do against their opponents. I like building with Steve for his OU matches, and although he always has some weird ideas, I saw that they are working and adapted to them. I mean, he is the reason I got into SPL this year, so I can't be mad at him using an absolute trash autolose-versus-standard team against thunderblunder777. With Ginku completing the Mahlzeit-group on Discord, who feels like a member of our team looking at how much he's involved in smalltalk and general talk, and Century Express completing the group of Brazilians, we are a cool mix of crazy guys that all had a pretty good SPL so far.

Strolling into undefeated territory: reyscarface Interview

You've taken up SM OU like no one else, going undefeated so far (8-0) in this iteration of SPL. You're usually regarded as an old gen player. Can you give us some insight onto that switch into this new generation after being somewhat labelled as unfit in new metagames?

People have this misconception about old gen players a lot. They think old gen players aren't up to par in the new games and that's why they stay away from them. The truth is, most of them don't see a point in trying out the new generations, be it because of the power creep, general laziness, or apathy towards learning all the new stuff, and even burn out. Some of these old gen greats were already extremely active at one point in the community, much like you see the SM players right now, and a lot of them have moved on from Smogon for the most part. If they stay in the community it's mostly to play games here and there, and it translates to only playing the generation they know. Nothing wrong with this, most of them are amazing players. Just don't think they're not skilled enough to be a part of new gens; they just don't bother with it most of the time.

Speaking for me specifically, gen 6 came out at a time in which I was just getting into med school and was a bit busy, and I didn't find the new gen appealing, so I didn't ever bother learning it. Now as a 4th year, SM comes out right before SPL, and with my newfound free time I decided to really delve into it. You could see me playing a ton of games ever since gen 7 was added to Showdown. What separates me from most of the old gen greats is that I had the free time and will to put effort into SM; if they cared enough they'd be doing just as well.

Can you comment on your impressions of SM OU so far, giving us some pointers to illustrate metagame trends as well as highlight some quality Pokemon or styles?

I think SM is in a pretty decent spot right now. The metagame has adapted to most threats so far and it is quite diverse. It might not seem diverse, especially if you jumped into the replay thread of SPL and looked at the replays of one specific week. Trends are shifting extremely fast right now. As an example to illustrate this, let's say someone brought CB Zygarde Week 4 after seeing it used on the ladder. Then suddenly everyone sees CB Zygarde and how strong it is, and everyone uses it Week 5. Then by Week 6 people have found ways to deal with it, so CB Zygarde isn't as good as before. It's the constant variability throughout the weeks that makes SM very high maintenance to keep up with, but it also makes it pretty fun. Another example: Toxapex was regarded as a completely useless mon and only seen on stall. People get creative and decide to build Toxapex bulky offense or balance teams. They destroy everyone in SPL. Then the next week a "young prodigy" brings Psychium Z Volcarona and devours the Toxapex team. Suddenly Toxapex isn't as appealing anymore. Same thing happened with Mega Metagross after Defog Mega Scizor started seeing some usage (shoutouts Omfuga the allseeing). Speaking of Mega Metagross, its good we didn't suspect test it as soon as possible, since the metagame evolved to take care of it for the most part. Pheromosa is still ridiculous though. Also, I haven't been able to form an opinion on Mega Mawile yet, I've played a ton on ladder and so far I'm bordering on okay to decent, but its probably because people haven’t realized how to properly use it yet (myself included). Will be interesting to see it develop.

As for some great mons: CB Zygarde is ridiculously good and one of the reasons Scizor is getting popular. Mega Gyarados is your anti-stall mon (although there's been some stall builds that are significantly weaker to some other stuff in exchange for Mega Gyarados coverage, like ABR's Bulu stall) that can also do great work against bulky teams with the right support; definitely an underappreciated choice. Mega Sableye is also very interesting; the fact that it completely renders very common stuff like Ferrothorn, Celesteela, and Tangrowth useless is huge, especially if you expect your opponent to use them. Mamoswine deserves a mention as another mon that deserves more use. Very anti meta right now, provides priority, which every team should probably have, has ability to set up Rocks, and provides a decent offensive check to Tapu Koko.

Much like yourself, the Raiders have also attained an undefeated 8-0 record so far this SPL. How does it feel like, being a part of such a successful group of competitors? How would you describe the mood within the team? Do you have any interesting stories or anecdotes to share about your time with the Raiders?

It feels really good, that's pretty much all there is to it. This is the first time I've been on an SPL team that does so well and let me tell you its great. Literally no worries about making playoffs or anything, just a bunch of silly banter in the chat. It is extremely entertaining. It's also great to know you can count on your teammates to bring wins. Being in a team with great SM players like Anti, TDK, and Nedor has definitely helped me out personally. Lots of teambuilding happening all the time, and even though I have preferred to build my own teams this SPL, it's hard to pass up on so many great teams being made. Watch out for Croven by the way, he always says he's underwhelming, but the dude is a very impressive player regardless of his 0 confidence in himself (lol).

A lot of OU battles have taken place during these 8 weeks. With you being in prime position to analyse old gen as well as SM OU matches, can you maybe pick a couple of your favorite OU matches so far and talk a bit about them? Do you think the level of competition has been the highest it's ever been this SPL?

Steve Angello vs Leftiez

This one mainly because it shows how extremely strong a good lure can be. A completely unexpected Latios set takes Leftiez by surprise and wrecks any chance he had at winning this game. Mega Gyarados making an appearance and being key in weakening Magearna enough for a Water Shuriken cleanup was also fun to see.

Sweepage vs Hector Hard Mode

Perfect usage of a very uncommon set at the time (Scarf Dugtrio) to trap the biggest threat to Sweepage's team makes this game a highlight for me. He played his team like it was built to be played.

And of course if you want high-level gameplay, watch Anti and TDK's games, they've been playing awesome and with very creative builds.

As for old gens, watch all of roscoe's games; seriously he's been playing out of his mind this SPL and it's ridiculous to see someone outplay his opponents as hard as he has been. Phil's games have been entertaining because he really wants to get the trophy for wackiest teams in DPP. For ADV I liked Astamatitos vs undisputed (great usage of an uncommon Flygon set).

Finally, your eighth victory of the season has come at the expense of z0mOG. Similarly, the Raiders also beat the Classiest this week for their 8th win. Can you give us a short synopsis of your game, highlighting some crucial turns and or decisions on your part and providing some insight into your plays in general? If possible, could you also talk about the series as a whole?

About the series, we really didn't pay much attention to the week. Since we had secured our playoff spot, we've been in chill mode for like the past 3 weeks. Instead we have been focusing on watching the relentless bullying that occurs in the channel. I missed a lot of the banter this week because I was stupid busy so yeah :(

As for the game vs z0mOG, I was busy with finals for the first half of the week, and for the second half I was away from home, so I didn’t have time to build a team. This is where having great teammates helps, as TDK gave me a team and I liked it so I decided to use it. Turns out it's quite weak to Assault Vest Tornadus and Volcarona, which I ended up facing, unfortunately.

Anyways, as soon as the battle started I was like "welp, this is a tough matchup." I was sure of two things: I could not let the Volcarona set up at all, and I had to avoid letting Magearna get trapped. A team with Tornadus-T usually leads with it since it's so versatile, so Magearna was an alright lead. I used Flash Cannon instead of Volt Switch going off of what I said before of not letting Magearna get killed by Dugtrio, and I eat up a Fire Blast because I have no good switch-ins for the Volcarona (if I go Chomp and it has Hidden Power Ice then I lose, and I cant go straight Gyara because then my only check is weakened).

After all those shenanigans are done, I manage to put Dugtrio asleep (huge so Magearna stays alive) and kill off Volcarona, leaving Tornadus-T as the only threat. One big turn afterwards was getting the prediction right and hitting the Landorus-T with Hidden Power ice instead of Sleep Powder. Had I put the Landorus-T to sleep predicting a switch, I would have lost the game, as Scizor + Toxapex + Tornadus-T would have put too much pressure on me. Killing off the Landorus-T with Hidden Power Ice meant I could put something to sleep. After that, z0mOG makes a mistake and uses Roost instead of Defog as I put his Scizor to sleep. Defogging would have made my life a pain, since the Tornadus would have reached full HP in no time. After that it was just a matter of using Leech Seed Tangrowth to heal up my Magearna on the Toxapex and spam Volt Switch without giving his Scizor time to wake up and get a Defog off.

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 eigth week of SPL. Let's delve straight into the action, shall we?

Highlight Match

ORAS OU - blunder v reiku - written by Finchinator

In this week 8 ORAS OU match-up, blunder of the Ruiners matched up with reiku of the Sharks. Both of these players have been quite successful in the ORAS OU metagame in recent years, and, therefore, there was quite a lot of hype going into this game. And seeing that I have written up Jayde's game almost every week going into this one, a change of pace seemed long overdue! Getting into the game, both players brought teams that appear to be bulky offensive, but blunder's was a bit more to complete offense while reiku's was slightly closer to the balanced end of the spectrum. Looking at the match-up, both players seem capable of handling the threats on the opposing team to an extent, but the Hydreigon on reiku's team looks quite threatening to blunder's team if it could get into the battle safely on multiple occasions, while the Manaphy on Blunder's team seems threatening to Reiku's team depending on what set it is.

The game opened up with blunder leading with Jirachi and reiku leading with Clefable, but the Jirachi revealed itself to be a Toxic variant, likely used in conjunction with the various attackers on blunder's team in order to weaken opposing walls with poison, as he traded statuses with a Thunder Wave Rotom-W on turn 2 prior to Rotom-W Volt Switching out and Jirachi U-turning and us finding a Manaphy in on a Clefable. Sure enough, the Manaphy managed to set up and do upwards of 60% with Shadow Ball to the incoming Rotom-W, which Volt Switched into the threatening Hydreigon. Manaphy managed to do approximately half with Scald and net a burn before Hydreigon got rid of it. Blunder followed up with Heracross on the Dark Pulse-locked Hydreigon, and after a sequence of pivoting and foddering that resulted in Rotom-W getting KOed, the Hydreigon came back in to revenge the now-Mega-Evolved Heracross of blunder's. Unfortunately for reiku, blunder decided to pivot to his Jirachi, taking the Draco Meteor with plenty of health to spare. Eventually, blunder managed to get his Heracross again, and reiku had to fodder the aforementioned Hydreigon; however, this allowed Tornadus-T to come in and Knock Off Jirachi's Leftovers. The Clefable got in against Jirachi, and due to paralysis, it was able to heal itself up and set up Stealth Rock before blunder could really do anything, giving reiku an advantage and momentum.

Jirachi finally got fully paralyzed and on the ensuing turn, and reiku went to Metagross while blunder U-turned into his Latios, interestingly. He then Defogged away Stealth Rock as Latios fainted to Ice Punch. The Metagross then also Ice Punched into Landorus-T while Blunder overpredicted and U-turn, sending in his Weavile, which was then walled by the aforementioned Clefable. In the final stages of the game, Clefable managed to KO the Weavile, after which it got revenge killed by Heracross. The combination of Metagross and Garchomp was able to weaken Heracross, remove Landorus-T and Jirachi, and then leave the game in the hands of Tornadus-T versus last Pokemon Mega Heracross for blunder, which was in range for Heat Wave, giving Reiku a tight 2-0 victory with Garchomp and Tornadus-T remaining! Each side played relatively well and brought fairly standard but effective teams and momentum shifted throughout the game. Overall, it was a solid, close match that helped the Sharks take the week against the Ruiners and give them a prime opportunity to make a final push into the playoffs!

Featured Replays

SM DOU - MajorBowman v Biosci - written by miltankmilk

Easily one of the best Doubles OU matches of the season was between MajorBowman and Biosci this past week of SPL. Biosci has shown once again that he is a reliable pick for DOU, coming into the game with a 6-1 record while MajorBowman stumbled a bit in the middle of the season and comes in after taking week 7 off with a 3-3 record. At Team Preview, this was a matchup that favored Biosci, as many of MajorBowman's bulkier Pokemon such as Celesteela, Tapu Fini, and Heatran can be broken down by the combination of Tapu Koko and Kyurem-B or the Azumarill after a Belly Drum. Getting into the match MajorBowman is able to whittle down the Kyurem-B with a good read by bringing in Landorus-T on the Gigavolt Havoc while getting off a Parental Bond Seismic Toss on the Kyurem-B. The big turning point in the game comes when Biosci is able to bring in his Azumarill next to Jirachi and get off a Belly Drum. MajorBowman is fairly limited in his counterplay to a +6 Azumarill, but through a series of great reads and bold predictions he is able to KO both the Jirachi and Azumarill with his Heatran, putting himself in an excellent position from a point where many thought he had already lost. Finally, MajorBowman is able to finish off the game with his Celesteela and Tapu Fini and pick up an unlikely victory in a fantastic game.

Given that there was no Week 7 SPL Recap, we decided to include a Week 7 game review at the end, in order to showcase some of what happened during the eventful week.

SM LC - ZoroDark v OP - written by Kingler12345

The Week 7 battle between ZoroDark of the Ever Grande BIGs and OP of the Circus Maximus Tigers was important to their teams' playoffs contentions. The series before the game was tied at 5-5 and a swing either way to 7-5 would be huge to increase the likelihood of their making playoffs. OP's team at preview appears to be a somewhat standard balance with threats that work well together. Zoro's is more noticeable, however, as he chooses the route of using Snover, a relatively unexplored Pokemon in the SM LC meta, with Mienfoo and Mareanie serving as a defensive backbone of sorts, Kabuto being a Flying switch-in and Stealth Rock user, and Diglett and Alolan Grimer trapping certain problematic Pokemon to the team.

The players lead off with their Fighting-types, pivoting around after hitting each other with Knock Off, until OP manages to get Snivy in on Kabuto with a good play in U-turn. Zoro switches in a would-be excellent check in Alolan Grimer, only for it to get KOed by Leaf Storm followed by a +2 Breakneck Blitz. OP sacs his Croagunk to the incoming Snover, anticipating that it wouldn't be very useful with Mareanie and even Diglett in the wings. He makes a good prediction by Pursuiting on the predicted switch, considering that his team is fairly weak to Snover and he needs to make sure it gets as few opportunities to switch in as possible. Zoro switches in Mareanie to check Alolan Grimer and imminently threaten a Scald burn. OP switches out into his Staryu on the Toxic Spikes, resulting in a 1v1 matchup where neither Pokemon can do much to the other bar get a Scald burn, resulting in an eventual switch. In this case, OP's Staryu's Thunderbolt becomes a potential 2HKO thanks to the hail chip damage. He uses Thunderbolt once and double switches to Alolan Grimer on the likely switch to Mienfoo, removing the Toxic Spikes on his side of the field. This doesn't really give him an advantage, though, as Scalding on a switch to Mienfoo would give him a chance to burn it without much risk even if Mareanie stayed in. Zoro's Mienfoo U-turns on the Vullaby switch-in into Kabuto, getting Stealth Rock up on the field as a result of this switch sequence. OP switches in Staryu, in response to which Zoro pivots in Mienfoo, using Fake Out and then U-turning to Snover in order to chip Staryu to the point where two turns of hail and burn chip damage KO it. Instead of just KOing the Staryu with Snover, after which Alolan Grimer would trap it with Pursuit, he makes an interesting maneuver in switching to Mienfoo as Staryu gets KOed by burn damage.

At this point, Zoro, who had been playing pretty well so far, got surprised by OP's Weak Armor Eviolite Onix, expecting the Sturdy set and hoping to get a little more residual damage with Fake Out before Onix KOed his Mienfoo. This was a pretty significant error on his part, considering that if that were the case, he could use U-turn to the same avail or sac his Mareanie to send Groundium Z Diglett in; the chip damage from hail would break its Sturdy, and Tectonic Rage KOes even Eviolite Onix a majority of the time after a round of hail damage. After the reveal, Zoro had to sacrifice Kabuto to get damage off with Aqua Jet, KOing the Onix with Snover's Ice Shard. This allowed Alolan Grimer to trap it with Pursuit. At this point, it was all but lost bar Rock Slide flinches with Diglett for Zoro, and his Mareanie and Diglett got KOed by Vullaby.

This game marked a clutch, highly needed victory for the Tigers in a series that went on to a tie. It also marked the use of Eviolite Weak Armor Onix, a set that has been gaining traction among SPL players in the tier.

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 seventh 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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