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NUPL, better known as the NeverUsed Premier League, was the first of its sort outside of the official Smogon Premier League (SPL). It worked very similar to the SPL, with six managers and an auction to determine which teams the players went to. The teams were the Blackthorn Braviaries, managed by FLCL; the Canalave Camerupts, managed by Zebraiken and Honus; the Dewford Dewgongs, managed by Raseri; the Lilycove Ludicolos, managed by CrashinBoomBang; the Sootopolis Samurotts, managed by Annoyer and the Safari Zone Sawsbucks, managed by Django.
FireMage, the creator and host, wanted NUPL to be a way to help newer NU players integrate into the tier better.
"My original hopes for NUPL mostly lay on creating something that not only NU players could participate in, but something in which newer players who had no idea how to play the tier would be able to pick up the tier and at the same time be able to learn enough of the tier from other players to eventually fall into the NeverUsed community and post. Also, I wanted something everyone could play in, seeing as sometimes people can get really discouraged from actually being rejected to play," he said.
With this idea in mind, FireMage began to seek approval for NUPL, as well as look for managers.
"As this was an exercise in helping users get into NU, I went for Tutors + Experienced NUers as they would make better users to bestow knowledge to their teams. I made a shortlist of who I'd like to manage so when the time rolled around they'd be available and fully able to help their teams improve," FireMage said.
However, a day before the auction, two more managers were added: Annoyer and CrashinBoomBang. This was due to the player amount exceeding FireMage's expectations.
"I added the last two at the last minute to lower the average team size, making it easier for the managers to manage their teams and allow players to get a few more matches in over the season," FireMage said.
CrashinBoomBang said he mostly accepted the position to help out FireMage.
"I accepted the position because FireMage was in a dilemma where one of the people who wanted to manage suddenly died, and I don't just leave people hanging, especially after jokingly saying that I want a manager spot myself a few days prior to that."
Annoyer, on the other hand, accepted it to put his drafting skills to the test
"Ummm... I don't regret it all because it was fun managing a team like I'm da boss and all that; making fun of cbb was cool too, and I only accepted because I am the draft king and really really wanted to draft very badly."
With the managers set, all that was left to do was to wait for the auction. All the managers had a strategy for the auction, with some even writing lists of players they were interested in.
While the managers had hopes for certain players, many of the players were eagerly awaiting the auction. Treecko, one of the newer players at the time, said he ended up with the team he wanted.
"Since I was still relatively new to Smogon, I didn't really know anybody yet. The only manager with whom I was familiar was Raseri, and it was from a completely unrelated mini-tour. I sort of wanted to be on his team because of that. I knew I played well in the battle we had, and even though I haxed him out a bit, he was still really cool and level-headed. These are qualities I appreciate in somebody coaching a team in real life, so I knew I would appreciate it here as well."
He continued to say, "I was really looking forward to playing in NUPL. Because I didn't really know anyone yet, I knew that this would be a really easy way to get immersed within the community, and I was totally right. I got to play skilled players who knew what they were doing, which was refreshing since I had only ever played on the ladder prior to this."
LivingRhino, who was also new to NU, was also looking forward to playing in NUPL.
"When I first joined a team, I was looking forward to talking in a team about how we could improve our sets, and just see how real competitive battling is going on in a team."
On auction day, most players were bought in the draft, with Iris of the Lilycove Ludicolos receiving the highest bid of 12,500. Once everyone was in teams, all that was left to do was wait for the season to start.
One of the more controversial parts of the earlier weeks of NUPL was the tutee bracket; a bracket where only people signed up to Battling 101 or designated tutees could battle.
"The start date happily coincided with B101. I talked to some of the tutors that were tutoring that round (Django and Raseri) and asked them if they were happy to have their tutees participate. After talking with some others on #neverused at the time I was more convinced that allowing the tutee bracket would be more beneficial to newer players to play against those of a similar skill level and not get some one-sided matchups. It allowed them to make the occasional error whilst having access to some high-level NU players to learn from as opposed to just the one tutor. This allowed for a more diverse opinion and more sources of information and input, giving them a fuller experience of NU," FireMage said.
CrashinBoomBang however was openly opposed to the tutee bracket throughout the season.
"I think everyone knows that I think the tutee bracket was a really bad idea by now because it a) gave people who had an actual tutee a huge advantage, b) forced me to basically lose a game every week because I got people who didn't even answer my messages for the first 3 weeks, and c) I was not even told about that until after the auction; there was basically not a single mention of it before or during the auction," he said.
Chieliee, one of the tutees with a perfect record in the first three weeks, enjoyed the tutee bracket for the most part.
"I liked both getting tutored and putting my skills to the test at the same time, although it was kind of strange. Kind of like being the ugly duckling in a team, IDK. Still a very fun experience!" When asked about his highlights in the first few weeks, he replied: "Highlights were my 3-0 record (including one coinflip against TeraVoltage, whom I lost against in All-Star Week, but w/e :P). Aside from that I liked all the testing I did, and it helped me socialize in #neverused too."
Another player who saw success in the early weeks was Malekith, with a perfect 3-0 record.
When asked about his experiences in the first three weeks, his response was:
"It was a good experience, because I've never played the metagame I played (post-Jynx); I only knew how to play NU Current, but I managed to make good teams and win. All the battles were funny and that's something I have to be grateful for since in this game there are a lot of boring matches. All my teams had my personal touch which I like to have in them, and each one had a different strategy."
At the end of the first three weeks, the Samurotts were leading with a score of 22, with the Braviaries close behind at 20.
The All-Star Week featured various challenges. This included a gauntlet, where FLCL was voted as the challenger who had to defeat all the members of the Samurotts to win. However, he failed at this task and lost the first match to EBeast, which destroyed his winning streak of zero. There was also an opportunity for everyone who had a perfect record to face off, as well as one for those who were benched or who had lost a game during the season. Finally, there was a mascots event, where each manager had to use their mascot in a battle against every other manager. Annoyer of the Samurotts won with a score of 4-1, with his only loss being against CrashinBoomBang of the Ludicolos.
Week 4 saw the Sawsbucks win only one game against the Dewgongs. Before the week started, the Sawsbucks were sitting comfortably in third place, but once the week finished, they were joint-last with the Camerupts.
When asked why he thought this happened, Django replied:
"I honestly don't really know. The team was pretty active, everyone was getting their matches done and not playing horrendously. I think a few small things just didn't go our way and we lost confidence / motivation and tbh I lost a lot of motivation myself which probably didn't help the team."
At the end of Week 5, the Samurotts had secured their #1 position, defeating the Dewgongs 5-0. The Samurotts finished the season with a score of 40, and the Braviaries in second place, with a score of 32, both qualifying for the finals.
HotNCold, one of the Braviaries' won both of his matches in the final two weeks.
When asked about how he felt going into the finals, he said:
"I felt safe, even though I started the NUPL a little bad using a pair of stalls that are high-risk, high-reward. I had great confidence in the rest of my team also because they were good players and I knew about many of them. Honestly, I knew that our team was one of the best since the start of the NUPL, because we had a great quality of players dedicated to lower tiers and that were active during the tournament."
EBeast, one of the Samurotts' players, shared his thoughts on how he felt going into the final.
"Pretty much felt we were guaranteed to get into the final. We had a good team and time and time again, regardless of what happened, we managed to pull through," he said. When asked about whether he enjoyed the last two weeks, he responded: "Final 2 weeks, I can't really say I did. It was mostly a john fest and by then everyone had stop caring, including me."
Novaray, one of the players for the Camerupts (finishing in last place with a score of 20), was disappointed at where his team placed.
"I thought we were a strong team after the auction, maybe the best based on raw talent alone. I think we all had high expectations for each other and expected to perform well. Finishing in last place is definitely disappointing for us. I think the main reasons for this was the lack of NU players despite having great players overall and a lack of chemistry, testing, and working on teams together. I think we could have put more effort into test battles and building teams together."
CrashinBoomBang of the Ludicolos reflected on the season.
"My team could certainly have done better, but again, I don't blame any of them; I wouldn't be all that motivated myself when I notice that my manager doesn't give much of a *censored* himself. I was pretty surprised at how well some of them (the team) battled, which I didn't expect at all, so huge shout-out for all of the people on my team even though I certainly wasn't very helpful unless you directly approached me."
The first match of the finals was Cherub Agent vs MoP in a 101-turn thriller. Cherub Agent came out on top and won the battle of the Walrein, giving the Braviaries the first win. shnen and Sweet Jesus were next up, facing off in a stall war. Despite a few illegalities, shnen rose high like a bird and got the second win for the Braviaries.
HotNCold claimed the third win for the Braviaies, defeating Fusxfaranto 3-0. Finchinator however destroyed the Braviaries streak and put the Samurotts at 1-0, defeating Tyrano.
Hope was fleeting for the Samurotts, as Reiku snatched back the finals and defeated skylight, putting the Braviaries at 4-1. However, due to players being unable to complete their matches on time, the Braviaries soared like eagles as they had won NU's first Premier League.
When asked about what his feelings were once his team won, FLCL was very humble:
"Well I was the manager that probably cared about this the most so yeah *censored* the rest of you *censored*!!!!!!"
The Braviaries' mascot towards the end of the season was user Keiran, who shared his thoughts on the season.
"I watched 1 game and harassed the team captain, FLCL, and donated top quality pictures."
When asked if he would be the mascot for any other team he responded:
"The Braviaries are the ones for me, caw."
shnen, one of the Braviaries' players, shared his thoughts on the season. When asked about how it felt winning, he responded:
"Good, although I'm not going to pretend it was that meaningful, but it's nice of course. Personally, I definitely could have done better as I was inactive (I'm not a john, I promise) and I *censored* up in my loss vs Ginku pretty early but oh well. I guess it would have been nice to get a good record since I *censored* up in SPL, but hey 2-1 is alright. IDK if the team could have done better as it doesn't get much better than winning!!!"
Cherub Agent, another Braviaries player, thought the cultural diversity of the Braviaries was one of the most interesting parts of being in the Braviaries team.
"Well, it was interesting playing with three Spaniards and our team chan was always like in Spanish lol, so I had fun trying to understand what they were saying! No wait make that four Spaniards :O" he said.
Annoyer, the manager of the Samurotts, accepted the loss like a man.
"It was kinda disappointing, but not really since I didn't care too much. I'm not really going to put my team on blame here because I didn't really put a good effort towards helping my team, but many of my players became inactive during the season or quit Pokemon (ex. BROStime, ala, ium, CasedVictory... I love you all tho!). The team didn't let me down at all. Braviaries are not strong because FLCL sux jajaja."
The Samurotts' players were also disappointed to have lost the finals, despite finishing first in the season.
"It felt pretty disappointing to have done so well only to fail at the end, though I'm still proud of my team and we still all had fun. I only wish it didn't end on activity..." Fusxfaranto said. When asked about the positives of NUPL, he replied: "It was a whole lot of fun, and very popular, as evidenced by the new wave of metagame Premier Leagues. My team was full of awesome people, my opponents were courteous, and the tournament director was well organized. On the other hand, it was a bit nerve-wracking joining, since despite being encouraged to join regardless of skill, I was worried that I was just going to let my team down."
Sweet Jesus, another Samurotts player, also was disappointed in the loss, although mainly because most of his team quit.
When asked about their highlights and least favorite parts, this is how those in charge responded.
When asked about his least favorite parts of NUPL, he responded:
He also added that Dewgong defeating Braviary with a critical hit in All-Star Week was another highlight of his. His least favorite parts were not being able to play, MMF johning, and
His highlight was that NUPL improved his graph-making skills, as he made a graph reflecting how his season went.
The only disappointing part of NUPL was that his team lost.
Since NUPL started, every tier (and Other Metagames) has created their own version of NUPL, a tradition which will likely carry on for years to come.
Thanks to everyone who agreed to be interviewed for this article, and hopefully you had an enjoyable season!
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