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With the advent of newer players coming in and aspiring to play in ADV, it was refreshing to see that some players are willing to help them out. I found one such player in reyscarface, whose recent performance in SPL really caught my eye. I decided to follow the numbers and see just how well reyscarface has been playing in ADV, and the numbers show a player who's only continuing to improve.
Right after Smogon Tour Season 12 Week 9 had concluded, reyscarface won the Hoenn Cup, an ADV tournament hosted by Umby. This might have come to a shock to those who saw reyscarface go 4-6 that season in ADV, but it was really significant as it marked the turning point where he solidified himself as a top ADV player. After winning the Hoenn Cup, reyscarface went a disappointing 1-2 in ADV during SPL 3, but this was only a small blip for him and probably can be chalked up to variance, for a 4-6 ADV record one tour ago suddenly turned into an impressive 11-4 ADV season in Season 13 that equaled the wins of his previous 2 seasons of ADV during Smogon Tour, with less than half of the losses. This kind of jump is almost scary, and it continued strong as he went 7-2 in ADV during the most recent SPL while holding a 5-0 ADV record in Superstars at the time of this article.
With this kind of rapid improvement, I had to sit down and talk to reyscarface and there I learned a lot about the player and the person. More importantly, he took me into the brain of a successful ADV player and reinforced the theories that he uses when playing. All of the following information came from our interview and is directly quoted or paraphrased with the permission of reyscarface. Enjoy!
So the question that I'm dying to ask is, "what is the source of the rapid improvement in your ADV metagame?" I've shown you the numbers, you've transformed yourself completely into one of the best ADV players on this site.
Honestly, I was still learning ADV during that tour and for a while before it. I taught myself for the most part, but I did receive help from goofball who was able to lend me a team and teach me how to use it and what to be wary of.
So take me into the mind of reyscarface right now. I open PO and open my team builder. How do I begin?
When I make teams, it usually starts with a brainstorm, where I consider what can work well together and then build the team around that. I don't really believe in a stagnant playstyle and will either go with something I know works or break the norm and try to completely catch the opponent off-guard.
Give me an example of you breaking the norm.
My favorite surprise team is definitely the one I used vs. CBB in the final week of SPL. It's centered around Rhydon wrecking the opposing team. Originally, I had decided on Alakazam but I knew CBB wasn't the kind of person to use Blissey which is why you would use Alakazam. So I eventually settled on CB Rhydon due to the sheer amount of power it possesses (it 2HKOes every bulky Water-type after one layer of Spikes), and then added Thunder Wave support in order to get two hits with Rhydon and then sweep with Salamence after the bulky waters are weakened by Rhydon.
You definitely think ahead of how you want your battles to go, but the theories are fairly simple. Still, you're pretty far ahead of the pack at this point; what is it that gives you the edge?
Back when I first started playing Pokemon, my tutor Stathakis taught me really well to always think ahead. I've played with that philosophy ever since and it's why I find Pokemon really fun. It sounds simple but it's a trait a lot of players lack and I've gone ahead and added it to my teambuilding as well. The amount of ADV games I've played helps with this as well, as it allows me to experience common battle scenarios so I can plan accordingly in future matches.
I want to get back to you as a player, but I'm curious to know your thoughts about ADV as a whole. As an opening question, rattle off names of some of the ADV players you respect the most.
M Dragon, Earthworm, Veteran In Love, and goofball.
I think we can all assume that the respect stems from their ability to think ahead and build effective teams, but I'm going to pose the difficult question of who you feel is currently overrated in ADV at the moment.
There are three players who stick out to me in this regard. Kevin Garrett usually just had a different player's team and was very conservative in his gameplan, making it a lot easier to predict and play accordingly. The worst thing you can do as a player is to remain predictable and always play safe, as it just opens up holes with double switches. Crashinboombang is a player I keep hearing is incredibly good at ADV but I just haven't seen it yet. While I can't comment on his teambuilding, his playing just wasn't at the level of a top ADV player imo. Sir is the last player I would comment on. His recent success in ADV in SPL has led many people (including himself) to believe he is way better at ADV than he actually is. I like that he's less predictable than the usual player as he can risk the move to give himself an edge, but this leads to him making huge mistakes which are exposed by subpar teambuilding.
Hopefully no one takes offense to those critiques! On a lighter note, I want to talk about innovation. It's a trait I think new players are missing and I think it's important for players to try and shape the metagame in a way that is effective. Do you have any innovations as an ADV player that you feel responsible for?
I'd like to think I brought Dragonite back as a good Pokemon considering it has stayed almost forgotten in ADV. After my SPL game vs kael, I've seen three or four ADV players use Dragonite and that's probably because they've realized how good it can actually be when you're not using it as a bad Salamence. I'd also like to think I've brought Rhydon back to the spotlight after that last SPL game, but only time will tell.
Tell me about Dragonite and what inspired you to use it.
The team I used Dragonite on was very Skarmory-weak. I knew I needed a sweeper; Salamence and Dragonite were the main candidates. What made me pick Dragonite was that it gets access to Thunder, a move that 2HKOes Suicune and Milotic after Spikes while also doing 80% to Skarmory. Now one would say, "Why use Dragonite when you can have Fire Blast on Salamence and kill Skarmory as well?" and the reason for that was that I wanted my sweeper to be able to kill Aerodactyl. By opting for Fire Blast 'Mence, I have to give up Rock Slide, therefore making it more prone to getting revenge killed. Thunder Dragonite does a lot of damage to Aerodactyl to the point of killing it if it has taken any prior damage.
Do you have any combinations you feel you've helped popularized?
I've been a huge proponent of Dugtrio and Heracross as an offense breaker combo, as they synergize perfectly. Heracross always takes out something, gets revenged by Dugtrio, and then your own Dugtrio KOs the opponent's Dugtrio.
I don't think I hate a Pokemon more in ADV than Dugtrio which is a subject I've argued with you about before. You're very upfront about the fact that you feel Dugtrio adds much more skill to ADV. Try and sway me with an explanation.
Dugtrio and Magneton are two of the reasons why ADV is so fun. As I mentioned before, I love long-term thinking, and I love planning my moves ahead. Dugtrio's and Magneton's sole presence in the metagame makes you think ahead and not risk anything that you might need to those Pokemon, which in turn can give you an advantage by luring them into unfavorable situations and taking advantage of it. As a user of Dugtrio or Magneton, if your opponent lacks that ability to think ahead, you're going to have a very easy game. I think the ability to think ahead and not risk anything to those two is what separates the "good" players from the "best" players in ADV. I also think you need to note that it improves teambuilding. Making a team not weak to Dugtrio isn't exactly hard and requires basic strategy or thinking. The combo of Heracross and Dugtrio that I mentioned earlier is a really good way of taking out an opponent's Dugtrio along with a Pokemon of your choice.
Let's talk about Pokemon. It's hard to call anything a staple but do you consider any Pokemon in ADV a staple on almost every team; if so, why?
Suicune, because it has the perfect balance of offense and defense. It works as a counter to an insane amount of Pokemon in the metagame, and it's an extremely threatening sweeper under the right conditions. Even though it always carries Calm Mind, it's a hard Pokemon to counter. If it's fast and has Ice Beam, say goodbye to your Celebi. If it has Roar, your Calm Mind Blissey just let it get +6, and if it's Crocune and you let it be the last 'mon with your Celebi dead, you automatically lose.
Give me your most overrated Pokemon of ADV.
It's definitely Starmie. If you go defensive spinner with Recover, it doesn't do any damage and isn't even bulky enough to stand hits from Pokemon like Salamence, not even mentioning it lets said Salamence set up. If you go offensive spinner, you have no Recover, which means you're going to die really fast, probably before the Spiker of the other team does. It can be a good late-game sweeper, but the prevalence of Calm Mind Blissey, Curse Lax, Calm Mind Celebi, Mix Tyranitar, and others doesn't do it any favors. With the amount of assistance it needs for a late-game sweep, you'd be better off with another choice.
So I started playing ADV when it was seemingly at a snail's pace. Why do you think it's developed as rapidly as it has now?
It really just has to do with the introduction of ADV back into Smogon Tour and SPL, as well as the Baton Pass test. When all of these good players began playing again, new strategies to counter the old ones were developed and it'll just continue to cycle.
Do you think these changes have made ADV worse or better than when you first started?
It has definitely gotten better. I'll always be of the idea that an offensive ADV is way more fun than a defensive ADV. It has the perfect mix of amount of Pokemon, power, and defense to make an offensive metagame really enjoyable, unlike BW.
I want to dig deeper into you as a player. Name 6 Pokemon on a team of yours and what you're leading with, and I'll name an opposing lead. Walk me through your mindset.
I'll use my Rhydon team for this (Gengar, Rhydon, Salamence, Blissey, Suicune, and Forretress with Gengar leading).
Alright, your opponent is leading Metagross. Walk me through your mindset.
Metagross is extremely versatile, and while Forretress can be a good switch to get some free Spikes, revealing Forretress so early opens up Magneton to kill it, so that's a no-go, not even mentioning it could be Hidden Power Fire Metagross. Metagross is using Meteor Mash so that leaves Blissey, Salamence, and Rhydon out of the question. That leaves me two options, Will-O-Wisping with Gengar or switching out to Suicune. CB Metagross, as strong as it is, can't OHKO my Gengar when it's burned and even though Suicune is a great switch to any Metagross, an Explosion would mean a Salamence or Tyranitar will sweep me, so I cannot risk Suicune. So I have to take my chance and use Will-O-Wisp with Gengar, permanently crippling the Metagross, meaning Suicune can now switch in with impunity and Salamence can set up on it. The loss of HP on Gengar isn't that huge, as Blissey can pass a Wish to it later in the game.
So you Wisp, it hits, and the Metagross CB Meteor Mashes. What do you do from here?
As tempting as it is to get a layer with Forretress, the threat of Magneton and my lack of Earthquake makes the risk way too huge. Suicune can't be trapped and I can easily do a double switch after Metagross switches in order to get my momentum back.
Do you tier threats or classify them in any way?
I classify threats on the switch as either big threats or minimum threats. A big threat would be switching in my Raikou on a Dugtrio double switch, or my Forretress into a Magneton. A non-trap example would be letting Heracross switch in for free with Blissey, if I have no ghost. A Choice Band Focus Punch can take down even the sturdiest of walls with a little bit of damage. Minimal threats would be those that I find threatening but can afford to play into them. They can't really do a lot of damage unless I fuck up badly, such as Calm Minding with Suicune as my opponent goes to Zapdos, or letting a Salamence get a Dragon Dance for free if I still have my Suicune alive. These can become big threats if I play incorrectly too often.
I'm going to keep pressing. What is giving you that edge that new players aren't abusing to their advantage?
Like I've said, they don't bother to think ahead. They like to think the win is in their hands if they have a favorable situation and rush in order to finish the game, instead of securing it, which in turn leads to choking. That's an end-game example; mid-game examples would be failing to scout your opponent correctly before executing a gameplan and not analyzing your opponent's behavior during a battle (as a side note, this is why erratic players such as Earthworm are so dangerous. You can get an idea of what he's going to do but you can never be so sure).
Do you have a recent example of you taking advantage of this?
Sure. I'll go back to my SPL 9 match vs. CBB. I got a full layer of Spikes up vs. him and I figured out he was thinking that he needed to get those Spikes off the field, evidenced by his behavior. He kept trying to get Forretress in for free around 2-3 times. So in a turn, I have a Salamence out vs his 30% Swampert who can use Ice Beam on me. I do 25% on average, so the "right" move would be to switch out to my Blissey. This gives him the perfect chance to switch that Forretress in and get a Rapid Spin off, giving him momentum and a big boost on his switching. I even wrote notes at the time of the battle declaring that I was 100% certain he was going to switch to Forretress. He obviously wanted to get Forretress in as evidenced by his past actions and so I used his obvious plays to my advantage. I used Hidden Power Flying again in order to 2HKO the Forretress and let my Spikes stay up for the rest of the game, which would prove vital. That's the kind of stuff that gives you the edge in battle and it's why predictable players are easy to play against. You can study their behavior and play accordingly.
If you were in his shoes, would you have stayed in with Swampert?
I would have definitely Ice Beamed the Salamence, as the risk of letting Salamence 2HKO your win condition / set up (especially when your Salamence counter is at 30%) is a horrible situation to be in. Risk vs. Reward there, the risk is huge and the reward isn't (my Forretress was healthy, and those Spikes could have gone up again later in the game).
People accuse you of being a bad sport. This is a full player bio so give me the details. Are you always angry? Only when someone misplays and doesn't realize it? Or is it just the competitive nature of the game? I know for me personally, it's when someone misplays and doesn't realize it at all that I get legitimately annoyed.
It definitely pains me to see people make horrendous mistakes such as the Chase vs Marth SPL match. To just throw away win conditions is horrendous and just shows you don't deserve to play in SPL. Going back to sportsmanship though, a lot of what is said about me really isn't true. People think I whine about hax a lot but that's mostly been a non-issue for my games for a long time. I do get extremely mad about hax though when my teammates get lucked, because it's annoying to see their hard work go to the trash due to retarded luck.
Do you have any closing pieces of advice for the readers?
Yeah. Never make teams weak to Dugtrio and if you must, make sure you have lures to take advantage of it. And always, always assume there is a Dugtrio or a Magneton on the other team.
I thought there was a lot of merit to what reyscarface said in our interview together. Thinking ahead is so easy in theory, but somehow difficult in practice. Don't rush towards the finish line. Secure your spot. Identify the best play at all times and assess your opponent's behavior. These are traits of winning players who earn respect in the community. I hope you learned a little from a great player, and about a great metagame. Thanks for reading.
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