Battle Spot Singles: What will Pokémon Bank change?

By DragonWhale.
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Art by momonite

Art by monomite.

Introduction

Pokémon Bank is finally compatible with Pokémon Sun and Moon, and with it comes very noticable changes to the Battle Spot Singles metagame. There are several hundreds of Pokémon that were unavailable in Sun and Moon, and a lot of previously usable species now have access to new moves and hidden abilities. This article's aim is to guide you through some of the changes that are predicted to affect the Battle Spot Singles metagame in a substantial way.


Hot New Fire-types

The first thing that stands out is the influx of great Fire-types that are now usable in SM Battle Spot Singles. In the pre-Bank format, the only usable Fire-types were Alolan Marowak, Arcanine, Chandelure, Salazzle, and Incineroar, of which only Marowak was commonly seen. The lack of Fire-types made a lot of Steel-types like Mega Metagross and Aegislash rise in popularity. It also contributed to the prevalence of Celesteela in this format, a lot of which run Flamethrower to make up for the lack of Fire-type options. So, what kind of Fire-types can we expect to succeed now that Pokémon Bank is released?


Blaziken

Blaziken is the first one on this list simply due to the insanely good matchup it has against a large portion of the format and the beneficial changes that were brought about between ORAS and SM. Although it cannot Mega Evolve yet due to the unavailability of Blazikenite, Blaziken is still extremely versatile. It has a fantastic offensive typing with powerful STAB moves, good coverage options, one of the best abilities in the game in Speed Boost, and the option to Baton Pass these boosts to a teammate.

Blaziken's natural enemy number one, Talonflame, took a huge fall in viability due to Game Freak's merciless nerf of Gale Wings. Before, Talonflame was able to switch in against any non-Rock-type move and scare Blaziken away no matter how many Speed Boosts it had. Now, it is incapable of moving before Blaziken if it takes any damage on the switch in.

Another new element that greatly benefits Blaziken is Tapu Lele. The Psychic Terrain the guardian sets on the field helps Blaziken sweep by stopping priority attacks, and it aids Tapu Lele in the same way if Blaziken Baton Passes it one or two Speed Boosts. The synergy between these two is amplified by the fact that common switch-ins to Tapu Lele, mainly Steel- and Dark-types, get destroyed by Blaziken. The core of these two top-tier Pokémon will definitely be a major threat to look out for.

Finally, we must not forget about the paralysis nerf; a paralyzed Blaziken will only have its Speed cut by half instead of 75 percent. While paralysis does cripple Blaziken and the chance to get immobilized on any given turn makes it harder to pull off a sweep, it is a big improvement from previous generations, where this Pokémon became completely useless the moment it was paralyzed. There's now even a 10% chance Blaziken doesn't get hit by a Thunder Wave!


Mega Charizard X Mega Charizard Y

The second Pokémon on this list is another Fire-type starter, but unlike the first, its Mega Stones are obtainable in the game and usable in Battle Spot Singles. Charizard's ability to Mega Evolve into two completely different Pokémon helps greatly in a format where Team Preview selection is very important.

In the Fire-type department, Mega Charizard X doesn't add too much to the table, where it hits less hard than Alolan Marowak and is usually slower than Blaziken, but it still has respectable stats on both fronts. From a Dragon-type perspective, though, there's finally a good Dragon Pokémon (hint: not Turtonator) that is not weak to the army of amazing Fairy-types that were introduced in Generation 7. It is one of the best sweepers in Battle Spot Singles with access to great setup moves like Dragon Dance and Swords Dance.

Mega Charizard Y may seem weaker with the omnipresence of Tapu Koko in the format, but its ability to change the weather combined with a Special Attack stat that surpasses Mewtwo's means that this Pokémon is not going to disappear into obscurity anytime soon. Although Mega Charizard Y faces a lot of competition to fill the Fire-type slot on a team and struggles against many opposing Fire-types, it is able to dent many teams with a sun-boosted Fire Blast or Overheat. Mega Charizard Y also has the privilege of being the only Mega Evolution with a weather-inducing ability, meaning it is guaranteed to win the weather war on the turn it Mega Evolves unless your opponent manually changes it with a weather move or VoltTurns into their own weather Pokémon.


Heatran

Heatran is good in any format it's allowed in, and this fact will likely remain true in SM Battle Spot Singles. Back in ORAS, the greatest strength of Heatran was its versatility and consequently its unpredictability. Some were stalling with Toxic and Magma Storm, others were punching through teams with Choice Specs, and some were floating in the air with an Air Balloon to win against Earthquake users at specific points in the match. The new things in Generation 7 are believed to enhance Heatran's viability even further.

With the introduction of Tapu Bulu and its ability to call in Grassy Terrain upon entering the field combined with the Terrain's property of halving Earthquake damage, Heatran is able to run things besides Air Balloon to beat Earthquake users. Heatran does not benefit too much from Misty Terrain, however, as it prevents Heatran from poisoning or burning the opponent while Heatran's immunity to these statuses remain the same.

The debut of Z-Moves may also affect Heatran's usability. With Z-Moves, it is able to deal one devastating blow of various types due to Heatran's relatively wide range of coverage. This unpredictability and Heatran's decent Special Attack stat allow it to lure and knock out switch-ins or simply nuke one Pokémon at the beginning of the match for an early advantage. Defensive Heatran sets will likely struggle against Z-Move users, though, as they will be more susceptible to be taken out without warning and in some cases knocked out through Protect.


Volcarona

Volcarona's potential in the Battle Spot Singles format was overlooked for a long time in Generation 6. In the last few seasons, it suddenly started appearing in a lot of top-rated teams and gathered attention. With one of the best setup moves in the game in Quiver Dance combined with very high stats and great dual STAB options, Volcarona is able to be a deadly endgame sweeper. Like with Blaziken, the Talonflame nerf has boosted Volcarona's viability even further, as it is now able to sweep without worrying about being stopped by a priority Brave Bird every other game.

One of Volcarona's most redeeming qualities is its Speed stat, which combined with Quiver Dance reaches sky-high levels. After one boost, it is capable of outspeeding the majority of common Choice Scarf Pokémon, a boosted Porygon-Z, and very fast Pokémon like Pheromosa. It's important to remember that Volcarona doesn’t really have the bulk to freely set up whenever it wants, and some players in the past have opted to use Choice Scarf Volcarona to hit fast and hard the moment it is sent out. The paralysis nerf definitely helps as well, since it will still be able to reach decent Speed with a few boosts.

Z-Moves give Volcarona a nuking option to muscle through Pokémon that are normally able to revenge kill or cripple it. Volcarona has a number of Z-Crystals to choose from, but Firium Z is probably the most viable, as it allows Volcarona to launch a powerful Overheat-based Inferno Overdrive. While this move is equal in power to a Choice Specs Overheat, it can be used in conjunction with Quiver Dance, doesn't get the harsh Special Attack drop, and won't lock Volcarona into the move.


Rotom-H

Rotom-H's unique Electric / Fire typing gives it a trait not a lot of Fire-types have: the ability to get past Tapu Fini and Suicune. Coincidentally, Rotom-H's base Speed stat is one point above these two Pokémon as well. From an Electric-type's perspective, Rotom-H is one of the few Pokémon that scare away Grass-types not named Mega Venusaur. It is also capable of walling Tapu Koko, which makes it worth using for a lot of teams.

While Rotom-H is limited to only Overheat for its Fire-type attack, it is usually good enough. With Choice Specs, it does a considerable amount of damage to anything that doesn't resist Fire-type attacks, and when it's holding a non-Choice item, it can Volt Switch out afterwards to reset the Special Attack drop. Like Volcarona, it can also use Firium Z to great effect.


Groundbreaking Ground-types

Even with Garchomp around, there was still a pretty noticable lack of Ground-types in the pre-Bank Battle Spot Singles metagame. A lot of it had to do with Garchomp and Krookodile both being weak to Fairy-type attacks, which meant even if they were to switch in to stop Electric attacks from Tapu Koko they would still need to deal with Dazzling Gleam. There was a Fairy-resisting Ground-type option in Alolan Dugtrio, but its mediocre ability and stats turned many people away from using it. The lack of Ground-types definitely played a big role in making Tapu Koko as prominent as it was in this format. What kind of new Ground-types would we expect to see succeed with the release of Pokémon Bank?


Landorus-T

Landorus-T is another Pokémon that is good in almost every single format that allows its use due to its amazing ability, typing, and stats. The combination of U-turn and Intimidate lets Landorus-T switch around while lowering the opponent's offensive capabilities. Even when it isn't used to shuffle Intimidates, its high Attack stat enables it to dish out out a lot of damage to the opponent. It can viably run a lot of items like Choice Scarf, Rocky Helmet, and Assault Vest, so it has a lot of versatility as well.

In Generation 7, Landorus-T gets a new toy in the form of Z-Crystals. While previously it was unable to utilize its Flying typing for offensive purposes, with Flyinium Z and Fly it can now use a powerful Supersonic Skystrike to nuke an unsuspecting Grass- or Bug-type sitting in front of Landorus prepared to take minimal damage from an Earthquake. Tectonic Rage is also extremely powerful coming from a Landorus-T, although it must be selective in using it, as most opponents will send out Ground-resistant or Flying-type Pokémon against Landorus-T.


Hippowdon

In ORAS, Hippowdon was used a lot for its immense bulk combined with Rocky Helmet allowing it to neuter Mega Kangaskhan, ability to set up weather, and moveset that helped teammates set up for a sweep. Even though Mega Kangaskhan is nowhere near as common as it was in Generation 6, this hippo is not going to be obscure anytime soon. Hippowdon isn't as versatile as a lot of Pokémon mentioned in this article, but it is really good at the one or two things it can do.

One of the key elements that differentiate Hippowdon from other physical walls is the ability to set up Stealth Rock and use Yawn. Yawn in particular makes Hippowdon a difficult Pokémon to take down because if the opponent refuses to switch on a turn they are drowsy to knock Hippowdon out, the Hippowdon user can send in their sweeper and set up on a guaranteed sleep turn. If the opponent wants to avoid falling asleep, it is forced to switch out and take Stealth Rock damage while Hippowdon restores HP with Slack Off.

Hippowdon's interaction with the various Terrains is important to keep in mind while using it. Electric and Misty Terrain both prevent Hippowdon from making grounded Pokémon drowsy and supporting teammates for a sweep, but they also prevent Hippowdon from getting statused itself. Grassy Terrain halves Earthquake damage, but the extra recovery can help Hippowdon survive the next hit.

Like for a lot of other bulky Pokémon, Z-Moves may make it harder for Hippowdon to stay on the field like it did in the past. An unexpected Z-Move at an unexpected time could leave Hippowdon in a position where it is unable to do what it is supposed to do or simply knock it out when it would survive a regular move. Hippowdon also struggles against a lot of guardian deities and Ultra Beasts, so it would be interesting to see if it will still successfully pull its weight this generation.


Excadrill

Excadrill has a lot of things going for it that give it great potential in SM Battle Spot Singles. It is gifted with two great abilities in Sand Rush and Mold Breaker, both of which can serve important roles in the format. Ground / Steel typing is a wonderful combination that makes Excadrill an Electric-immune Pokémon that resists Fairy-type attacks, a feat only accomplished by Alolan Marowak and Alolan Dugtrio before Pokémon Bank.

Sand Rush makes Excadrill a complete monster in sand. Excadrill is by no means a slow Pokémon, and the ability to double that Speed means it is going to be outspeeding the vast majority of the metagame, including Choice Scarf Pokémon, without having the downside of being locked into a move. This, when combined with a really high Attack stat, decent offensive move options, and the ability to boost damage output even further with Swords Dance and held items, makes Excadrill a very potent sweeper when used alongside Sand Stream Pokémon like Hippowdon and Tyranitar.

Mold Breaker Excadrill should not be overlooked either. This ability allows Excadrill to bypass notable abilities such as Levitate, Sturdy, and Disguise, which is a huge benefit for a Pokémon with access to Earthquake and Horn Drill. Most Mold Breaker variants have run Choice Scarf in the past, and this set will be useful in SM once again, as Excadrill can outspeed Mimikyu and knock it out without the need to break its Disguise. This ability is especially useful against stall teams, as it lets Excadrill use Horn Drill against Sturdy Skarmory.

Groundium Z Excadrill is a set that has a lot of potential in the new metagame. If the opponent sends in a physical wall that isn't airborne while Excadrill uses Swords Dance, a +2 Tectonic Rage is going to deal significant damage the next turn. For reference, it is guaranteed to OHKO a fully physically defensive Bold Suicune.


Gliscor

Substitute. Protect. Repeat.

Gliscor is a very powerful Pokémon that was infamous in Generation 6 for its very time-consuming strategies that involved repeatedly using Substitute and Protect while Poison Heal meant it lost no HP in the process. Some people used Gliscor's timer stalling capabilities to its extremes, stalling out the entire 30 minute match timer once the Gliscor side was ahead so that it won the tiebreaker once the time ran out.

Due to changes in the timer mechanics in Pokémon Sun and Moon, it is no longer possible to stall out the match timer like before. However, Gliscor is still able to stall out a badly poisoned opponent, fish for OHKOs with Guillotine while hiding safely behind a Substitute, and stay on the field for a long time thanks to its great natural bulk.


Fairy-Killing Grass-types

There are only two Grass-types that stand out in the new SM Battle Spot Singles metagame: Ferrothorn and Mega Venusaur. These two Pokémon were very good in Generation 6, and their viability is going to increase even further this generation with the influx of multiple influential Fairy-types. The Grass typing is noteworthy mainly to face off against Tapu Koko, as it is currently the most popular Pokémon in the format.


Ferrothorn

A lot would have been different in the pre-Bank Battle Spot Singles metagame if Ferrothorn was obtainable in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Not only would the lack of Fire-types make it easy for Ferrothorn to move around, it also is capable of defeating all of the island guardians one-on-one. There are a lot more good Fire-types in the format with the release of Pokémon Bank, but Ferrothorn will not disappear anytime soon.

What really distinguishes Ferrothorn from many other Pokémon is the amazing matchup it has against all the island guardians. Against Tapu Koko, Leftovers Ferrothorn is not 3HKOed by Life Orb Thunderbolt in Electric Terrain while its Gyro Ball 2HKOes. Choice Specs Hidden Power Fire or Focus Blast Tapu Lele is capable of OHKOing, but otherwise Ferrothorn is able to survive any hit and OHKO back. Defensive Tapu Fini deals negligible damage outside of halving Ferrothorn's health with Nature's Madness while Ferrothron can Leech Seed and eventually win. Offensive Tapu Fini are going to be forced to run Hidden Power Fire if they want any hope of getting through Ferrothorn. Tapu Bulu can use Superpower for a lot of damage, but the combination of Iron Barbs and the Defense drop means Gyro Ball has an extremely high chance of knocking it out afterward. Ferrothorn does, however, struggle against a lot of Ultra Beasts, so not everything in Generation 7 went in its favor.

Overall, Ferrothorn is blessed with a great typing, defensive stats, and movepool. Like in previous generations, this Pokémon's strategy of wearing down the opponent using a combination of Leech Seed and Protect, or supporting Pokémon in the back with Stealth Rock or Thunder Wave (albeit nerfed) is still effective. Rocky Helmet is also a viable option to stack up recoil damage against foes that come in contact with Ferrothorn, but the decline in Mega Kangaskhan usage means it isn't as useful as it was before.


 Mega Venusaur

Mega Venusaur was able to wall a lot of common Pokémon in Generation 6, and this list grew longer in Generation 7 with the introduction of a lot of strong Fairy-types. The disappearance of Talonflame and Mega Kangaskhan definitely helps Venusaur move around as well, as before it was constantly forced to switch out against those two. Venusaur does face a new challenge in the form of Z-Moves, though, as they enable more Pokémon to muscle through it.

Three of the four guardian deities, with Tapu Lele being the exception, are terrified of Mega Venusaur entering the format. Tapu Koko's strongest attacks are walled completely by Venusaur, to the point where some may resort to using Brave Bird for this specific reason. Tapu Fini and Tapu Bulu are both unable to do much besides keeping Mega Venusaur's health low enough with Nature's Madness to revenge kill it with the next Pokémon. Even then, Venusaur is able to maintain a high amount of HP by using Giga Drain against Tapu Fini and getting extra recovery from Tapu Bulu's Grassy Terrain.

It's interesting to note that Mega Venusaur may become the most successful sleep inducer in this format. Misty and Electric Terrain are so common that sleep users aren't able to perform too well against teams that have Tapu Koko or Tapu Fini. However, if Mega Venusaur is out with neither of those Terrains active, the opponent is forced to switch a Tapu Koko or Tapu Fini in on a Venusaur to block the Sleep Powder. Either way, Mega Venusaur will still be in a pretty good position.


Other noteworthy Pokémon

Greninja

Although Ash-Greninja is banned in Battle Spot Singles, regular Protean Greninja is still a very powerful threat. It has the full package of what any sweeper wants: a fast Speed stat, amazing coverage, and an ability that uses these traits to their fullest potential. Generation 7 gave the ninja frog an extra buff, as it is immune to Prankster-boosted Thunder Waves as long as it is a Dark-type. Needless to say, Greninja is a Pokémon that a team cannot afford to be weak against if they want to succeed.


Suicune

Suicune is one of the best Calm Mind users in the format. Its immense bulk with a great defensive typing allows it to set up Calm Minds in front of a lot of Pokémon, Rest if it needs to recover, and fish for burns with Scald. It also got access to Sheer Cold as a level-up move starting in Generation 7, but due to the reduced accuracy it's hard to know for sure if it's worth using a moveslot for it. Sheer Cold Suicune was a very powerful Pokémon back when the accuracy was still 30 percent when used by non-Ice-type Pokémon.

It's important to note that Suicune does struggle against a lot of Tapus, especially taking their Terrain effects into account. Misty and Electric Terrain prevent Suicune from using Rest, Electric Terrain boosts the power of Electric-type moves, and Grassy Terrain boosts the power of Grass-type moves. Suicune also needs to be wary of Z-Moves that can come out of nowhere, since it usually doesn't go for Rest until its health is relatively low.


Cresselia

Cresselia is so bulky you might as well think it resists every single type it isn't weak to. It was one of the best walls in the Generation 6 metagame due to its ability to switch into Mega Kangaskhan and deal a lot of recoil damage with Rocky Helmet. Even with the decline in Mega Kangaskhan usage, the inability to get terrain benefits due to Levitate, and Z-Moves making things harder for bulkier Pokémon, Cresselia will still have a solid presence in the SM Battle Spot Singles metagame due to the large number of Pokémon it keeps in check and the amazing support it provides with Lunar Dance and Trick Room.


Tyranitar

Tyranitar is one of the most versatile Pokémon in the game, with very good compatibility with a decent number of items. It is also able to function in a wide variety of teams, whether it is in a stall team to Pursuit trap Mega Gengar, set up Stealth Rock and spread status to support its teammates, or Dragon Dance and sweep in an offensive team. Sand Stream is useful to combat opposing weather teams, boosts Tyranitar's Special Defense, and makes Tyranitar a great teammate for Sand Rush Excadrill. Tyranitar is also capable of nuking opponents with a wide selection of Z-Moves.


Rotom-W

Rotom-W does have a lot more going against it in SM than it did in ORAS. Spreading status is now a lot harder for Rotom due to the prevalence of the Tapus, and the demand for a Talonflame switch-in is nonexistent, but it is still a good Pokémon. It has an amazing typing with an ability that removes one of its two weaknesses, has access to good moves like Will-O-Wisp, and is effective at Tricking Choice items or gaining switch initiative with Volt Switch. Even with Talonflame gone, Rotom-W is still useful to stop Flying spam from Mega Salamence.


Changes to Pre-Bank Pokémon

Season 2 of Battle Spot Singles allows the use of Pokémon obtained in the Generation 6 games, which means some previously available Pokémon will have access to new moves. These are some of the more notable changes that Pokémon Bank will make on pre-Bank Pokémon.

Ice Punch is the first on this list because of how significant it is for Pokémon like Kangaskhan, Metagross, and Rhyperior to have this coverage option to deal with prominent threats like Garchomp, Salamence, and Landorus-T. Ice Punch is a valid option on many other Pokémon as well.

A large list of Pokémon now has access to Knock Off, one of the best moves in the game due to the unique secondary effect of removing the target's item and its decent Base Power. This is especially useful for Weavile, which previously had to resort to Throat Chop as its Dark-type attack. It also acts as a good coverage option for a lot of Pokémon like Conkeldurr and Scizor. The rise in Knock Off users hurts Alolan Marowak because many Pokémon are now able to remove its Thick Club and render it useless.

Hyper Voice is somewhat minor, since two powerful users in Mega Gardevoir and Mega Altaria are still unreleased. The Pokémon that really benefits from this move is Sylveon. While Mega Salamence does get this move as well, most people prefer using the physical attacker set.

Kangaskhan gets two useful punching moves that make it a lot stronger: Ice Punch and Power-Up Punch. The more notable of the two is Power-Up Punch, which increases Mega Kangaskhan's damage output to extraordinary levels to sweep the opponent. Ice Punch, as mentioned above, lets Kangaskhan deal with a lot of common Pokémon that are weak to Ice without the need to rely on Ice Beam.

Scizor finally has more options besides U-turn, Bullet Punch, and Thief for its attacking moves with access to Bug Bite, Knock Off, and Superpower. Scizor's moveset changes will likely be the most visible of them all.

Serperior now has access to Contrary. This alone turns Serperior into a threat, as it can easily become unstoppable if it has the opportunity to boost multiple times.

Mamoswine can have Thick Fat, so Fire- and Ice-type moves won't do too much against it anymore.

Chansey is no longer useless offensively, since it can get Seismic Toss as an Egg move. It even has the option to run Counter to snatch a few surprise knockouts.

Dragonite can use Extreme Speed now. Be careful not to get swept by this Pokémon.


Conclusion

Pokémon Bank has brought with it a lot of changes to the Battle Spot Singles metagame. While this article aims to predict the effects on the format as much as possible, the post-Pokémon Bank environment is still very young. It is likely that innovative discoveries are going to see the metagame evolve in ways this article fails to anticipate, and the addition of newer Mega Evolutions will amplify this even further. Keep an eye out for Battle Spot Singles analyses, as those will continue to keep up with the metagame's development and give updated advice when new Mega Stones are introduced into the format.

SPL Week 3 Recap »

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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 installment 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 third 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

Alpha Ruiners (6) vs Wi-Fi Wolfpack (6)
SM OU: Geemick vs Snowy.
SM OU: ABR vs FlamingVictini
SM OU: blunder vs Gingy
SM Ubers: Astounded vs aim
SM LC: Fatty vs Sken
SM DOU: Memoric vs SamVGC
ORAS OU: Rodriblutar vs ChillShadow
BW OU: Sugarhigh vs Luck>Skill
DPP OU: Smurf. vs Void
ADV OU: Golden Sun vs Astamatitos
GSC OU: idiotfrommars vs Fear
RBY OU: MetalGro$$ vs Nails (#1 / #2 / #3)

Following a disappointing 0-2 start to the season and a 0-4 start to the series against the surging Ruiners, the Wi-Fi Wolfpack were able to assemble an impressive comeback to eventually tie the series at 6 wins apiece. The Alpha Ruiners came out firing on all cylinders with a 4-0 lead, thrashing in the first few games after losing last week's series to the BIGs. blunder and Rodriblutar maintained their stellar play with two more impeccable showings while Smurf. also added another point to the positive column. As an encore to last week's performances, Void and aim once again dropped their matches for the Wolfpack, (despite aim's loss being credited almost exclusively to negative luck) while SamVGC, Sken, and FlamingVictini were all able to bounce back following tough losses to push the Wolfpack towards the dramatic comeback. Eventually, it wasn't enough for the Ruiners, as Fear and Sken took the last two matches, ultimately tying the series at 6-6.

Cryonicles (4) vs Indie Scooters (8)
SM OU: psychicmewtwo vs Hector Hard Mode
SM OU: mencemeat vs Sabella
SM OU: Zamrock vs TheThorn
SM Ubers: Poek97 vs Gunner Rohan
SM LC: Ice Tea vs Star
SM DOU: KyleCole vs Biosci
ORAS OU: njnp vs Axel10
BW OU: SoulWind vs Jirachee
DPP OU: Fakes vs Philip7086
ADV OU: New Breed vs Ojama
GSC OU: Colchonero vs Mr.378
RBY OU: Peasounay vs Crystal_ (#1 / #2 / #3)

Subsequent to a negative result against the Sharks in the previous week, the Scooters looked to return to their winning form against a 2-0 Cryonicles team boasting one of the scariest lineups in the whole tournament. Mr.378 (Scooters) and psychicmewtwo (Cryonicles) added to their already flawless records with another win, pushing both to 3-0 individual records. For the Scoots, Axel10 and GunnerRohan once again were able to impress and notch favorable results of their own, while Ojama achieved his first win of the season. For the Cryos, it was a somewhat mediocre showing, with Zamrock, SoulWind, and Peasounay (as well as the aforementioned psychicmewtwo) clinching the only wins. The Scooters finally came away with a one-sided 8-4 victory in what can be seen as an exciting but somewhat hax-ridden series of contests.

Congregation of the Classiest (4) vs Firebot Falcons (8)
SM OU: FAJI vs Leftiez
SM OU: Lysergic vs Get This Money
SM OU: Lcans vs Cicada
SM Ubers: sin and victimization vs Lacus Clyne
SM LC: Heysup vs zf
SM DOU: Braverius vs kamikaze
ORAS OU: High Impulse vs xray
BW OU: Eo Ut Mortus vs Shoka
DPP OU: 6A9 Ace Matador vs Sauga
ADV OU: Danilo vs Triangles
GSC OU: Earthworm vs Mr.E
RBY OU: Lusch vs Bedschibaer (#1 / #2 / #3)

The Congregation of the Classiest seeked to achieve their first win of the season following a 7-5 Week 2 loss, freezing at the hands of the Cryonicles, while the Firebot Falcons similarly did not possess a single win following mediocre performances against the Scooters and Tigers (Weeks 1 and 2 respectively). In an impressive series of results, the Firebot Falcons were able to turn their fortunes around and win the ensuing week, with solid performances from Lacus Clyne in Ubers as well as Leftiez, GTM, and Cicada (all in SM OU). For the Classiest, there wasn't much to be excited about apart from Earthworm's second win in three games and Eo Ut Mortus's first win in SPL 8 (also his first week slotted into BW OU). In the battle of the 0-3 squads, the Falcons were able to ultimately edge the Classiest team and come out with their first win of the young season.

Stark Sharks (6) vs Circus Maximus Tigers (6)
SM OU: dragonuser vs p2
SM OU: -Snow vs Steve Angello
SM OU: PDC vs Mazar
SM Ubers: Lord Outrage vs Edgar
SM LC: Corporal Levi vs OP
SM DOU: I Am a Rookie vs MajorBowman
ORAS OU: Trosko vs Nintendi
BW OU: dice vs McMeghan
DPP OU: ToF vs Tamahome
ADV OU: undisputed vs JabbaTheGriffin
GSC OU: Veteran In Love vs giara
RBY OU: The_Chaser vs Golden Gyarados (#1 / #2 / #3)

One of the most exciting Week 3 series culminated in a 6-6 tie between the Sharks and the Tigers. With both squads previously having one win to their names, the series was definitely set for exhilarating and contested matches in pretty much every tier. For the Tigers, their SM OU core continues to impress with p2, Mazar, and Steve Angello all being victorious, while Edgar continues his remarkable Ubers SPL run with another win, this time over a disgruntled Lord Outrage. For the Sharks, this week's success came in the way of their undefeated SM DOU starlet in I Am a Rookie, who was able to defeat the previously unbeaten MajorBowman. Trosko and Corporal Levi also won their matchups convincingly in what was undoubtedly a thrilling week for both squads as well as the spectators.

Ever Grande BIGS (4) vs Team Raiders (8)
SM OU: Ciele vs TDK
SM OU: Obliviate vs KratosMana
SM OU: mael vs reyscarface
SM Ubers: Level 56 vs Hack
SM LC: ZoroDark vs mad0ka
SM DOU: Laga vs Stax
ORAS OU: Posho vs Nedor
BW OU: Finchinator vs Jayde
DPP OU: Porengan vs roscoe
ADV OU: dekzeh vs UD
GSC OU: d0nut vs BKC
RBY OU: Alexander. vs Tobes (#1 / #2 / #3)

Perhaps the most electrifying performers so far this season, the Raiders came into this week looking to sustain their unbeaten record (sitting at 2-0) against an also impressive BIGs team. With two stacked lineups going head-to-head in a myriad of tiers and generations, it was of general consensus that this would be the prime series of the week. With well-renowned stars in a plethora of tiers on both sides, such as BKC, Jayde, Level 56, KratosMana, and ZoroDark (among others), the stage was set for certain entertainment. Following a heavily contested bout, the Raiders were able to slightly edge the BIGs in an 8-4 victory, which seems a lot more one-sided than it really was, given that the BIGs came into the final day with realistic chances of tying up the series. For the Raiders, the "3-0 squad" (featuring BKC, Jayde, reyscarface, TDK, and KratosMana) extended their sensational performances onto Week 3, while some BIGs players such as Level 56, Posho, and ZoroDark were also able to come away with victories of their own. Considering the tremendous expectations coming into this week for both teams, it was definitely an enticing show for the fans and undeniably an apprehensive outcome, indication of what the playoffs have in store for all of us.

Around The League

In this week's edition of Around The League, we will be interviewing teal6, Smogon's Head TD and manager of the Cryonicles (currently 2-1), as well as Mr.378, the Indie Scooters' GSC player. 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 third week of the Smogon Premier League's cycle, we decided to approach Mr.378 and teal6 with a handful of questions pertaining to their team's performance in general as well as their own roles within the team.

When #10 actually means #1 - Mr.378 Interview

Coming into the season rated as the #10 GSC prospect, you've definitely surprised a few people following your flawless 3-0 start. Do you think being underestimated by your peers gave you any additional motivation? Why do you even think you were rated so low?

It sort of did. I was already motivated to do well this season because this is my first time in SPL after trying for a while to break into the team tour scene and because I really do enjoy the tier, and I should give my best to playing it at the highest level regardless. However, being ranked so low gave me some extra motivation because it was just one more reason to go out there and show what I'm capable of. The main reason I was ranked so low was because I had no prior team tour experience like the other GSC starters did, and to most that seemed like a great hindrance. I was unknown potential in an older generation where it isn't that common to get great new players.

With GSC being one of the older generations, it's rare to see such a young player like yourself being so successful in it. Can you tell us a bit more about how and when you got into GSC and what you like about the tier?

I wouldn't call myself young; rather, I'm young compared to the rest of the pool. I first started playing the tier back 5 years ago in late 2011/early 2012 when I read some guides on PO. In-game, GSC was always my favorite, so I decided to try the generation out competitively. To do this I built teams, learned about the tier, and played on the ladder when I could. I continued this on and off process for a few years until early 2015 when I started playing in some forum tournaments here and I achieved some decent results in them. That combined with GSC being added to WCOP made me focus on the tier a lot more and refine my skill in it. After a few failures and missed team tours I finally got drafted in the current edition of SPL and finally got my opportunity to prove myself.

As for what I like about GSC, I like how strategic it is compared to the other generations. In a lot of matches you have to feel your opponent out and make long-term game plans on the go. At the same time, the short-term technical aspect in playing is also very important and reading your opponent and knowing to weigh your risks against rewards for a certain turn is crucial. In short, GSC is a generation that takes a certain skillset that is different from the other generations of Pokémon, which I always seemed to be natural at.

Out of the remaining pool of GSC players in SPL, who's game do you admire the most and why?

I'd say it's a toss up between idiotfrommars and Earthworm. idiotfrommars is a great guy who I've known for a bit that really knows his stuff in GSC. Probably the best of the more modern GSC players. Meanwhile, Earthworm is a legend on this site that rarely plays GSC. Getting to play him in SPL is a great opportunity that I'll definitely make the most of. Hopefully both of the games I play with them as well as against the rest of the field are great though.

Talking those icy rumors - teal6 Interview

Following a solid start to your season, the Cryonicles found themselves going down to the Indie Scooters on Week 3. What do you think were some positive aspects of the negative run and what could have been done better?

A loss is a loss, we take these things in stride and come back from them. We've started Week 4 off with a win already, I think the players will learn from losing a week and come back stronger for it. I think man for man we are one of the, if not the, strongest teams in the entire tournament. While obviously I'd like to win week in week out, maybe being shown that we aren't invincible just showing up will keep everyone on their toes. I've 100% faith we will make the playoffs, which is the only goal of the regular season; and anything can happen once we are there, so that's all I really focus on for the time being.

A lot of malicious comments have been thrown around during the week concerning the numerous substitutions you and Valentine have made. Can you elaborate a bit more on those, as to why those were made and if you were satisfied with the results?

People will often talk about things that they don't understand. There are internal team dynamics, requests made by the players as well as ideas that we have internally about which things will work best. A huge benefit to players like psychicmewtwo, njnp, or Zamrock is that they can fit in multiple tiers and play them all to a high level. I'm confident with someone like New Breed in literally any tier we put him in—he was first seed in Grand Slam and Classic for a reason, after all. We're back to a more standard lineup this week, but I see no reason that we'll stop this practice in times when we think it will benefit the team as a whole.

Another hot topic of discussion for the Cryonicles has been psychicmewtwo's performance. Despite his flawless record so far (2-0 in Ubers and 1-0 in SM OU) some have assessed his performances as subpar or poor. Can you talk a bit more about the whole situation as well as your own opinion on the matter?

He's an excellent player and the main thing that matters is execution. With a 3-0 record, I can't ask for any more. I had a rough first week last year and when the Smogtours chat was starting to rev up its engine, I luckily had Sweepage to take all the focus off of me, which let me bed into the tournament a bit more. Psychicmewtwo doesn't have exactly that, but I think his conduct has been amazing thus far; I have faith he'll keep winning. One factor that a lot of people on the outside tend to overlook is the psychological difficulty of playing in SPL. It isn't like WCOP where your round 1 games can be overlooked due to the sheer number of them—every game has nonstop pressure and analysis going on, and even great players can be brought down a peg due to this. Mewtwo's executed well and won all three games so far, he's played better every single game so far, he'll keep evolving, and he'll keep winning as he goes.

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

Highlight Match

BW OU - Jayde v Finchinator - written by Finchinator

Two notable BW players off to strong 2-0 starts in Jayde and Finchinator were matched up during this Week 3 battle. Going into the game, the Raiders had a 6-4 lead in the series with the final battle being another crucial game, Ciele of the Bigs against TDK of the Raiders. Moreover, this game held substantial importance, as Finchinator needed to win to give Ciele and the Bigs a shot at tying the week, while a Jayde win would clinch a win for the Raiders during this week and solidify their standing as the first place team throughout the first three weeks of SPL.

Getting into the teams, Jayde's team seemed to be relatively standard, continuing the trend of fairly boring teams being used by the top BW players this season as reliable fallbacks. The structure of his team indicated that he likely wished to control tempo against other generic builds while luring or trapping common defensive pivots in order to clean up with Keldeo or Landorus-T. Jayde likely chose to use Mew because it's a solid measure against Finchinator's normal sand balance teams, which he is known for using incredibly often. On the offensive end of the spectrum, Scarf Keldeo and Hidden Power Fire Latios tend to give faster paced, less defensively oriented teams trouble, which turns out to be crucial in this match. Given his choice of not using a dedicated Water resist or multiple resistant pivots, a bit of an issue with Jayde's team, that many other offensive teams tend to encounter as well, is the reliance upon Latios to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to tanking rain-boosted Hydro Pumps. This leaves Jayde quite vulnerable to offensive Starmie and various other rain attackers. Overall, Jayde's team looked to be solid, but he had to play more aggressively and had to preserve the right Pokémon in some of the aforementioned matchups if he wished to have a chance to emerge victorious.

On the other side, Finchinator brought a team that, surprisingly, was not a standard sand team with his fetish Pokémon, Landorus-T. Finchinator's team appeared to be rain offense with Thundurus-T, which isn't the most common Pokémon out there, but certainly poses a threat with rain support and solid play. Additionally, he possessed an offensive Starmie to pressure Jayde's team and various hard hitters to keep pressure on throughout the game, keeping him within striking distance. One common problem for rain lacking Tentacruel or Toxicroak is the weakness to opposing Keldeo, specifically Scarf variants. This meant that Jayde could pressure the entirety of Finchinator's team with his Keldeo, which evened out the matchup quite well and gave Jayde an offensive fallback that could punish Finchinator for making so many otherwise safe and optimal plays. Despite using Fighting Gem Focus Blast Politoed and Hidden Power Flying Thundurus-T to deal with common defensive pivots to rain attackers such as Ferrothorn and Amoonguss, Finchinator's team can still struggle with dedicated Water checks that have a certain degree of longevity. Thankfully for Finchinator, Jayde lacked one of these, but Latios with recovery and Keldeo that outsped five team members and tied the other did not provide a particularly welcome alternative for Finchinator. Moreover, the bushy-browed Big would need to play cautiously at times and aggressively at others if he wished to come out of this game at 3-0 and keep his team alive.

Getting into the game, Jayde quickly reveals an offensive Jirachi packing Thunder, while Finchinator displays a non-Choice offensive Politoed. After trading significant damage, each player pivots out to threatening Pokémon, Jayde showing Mew, more of a defensive problem, and Finchinator showing Thundurus-T, which can handle almost anything offensively-oriented in rain. With another pair of attacks being exchanged, both for 2HKOs, Jayde pivots into Latios on the second Thunder and avoids paralysis in order to come in safely. Jayde then pulls back into Mew on the Ferrothorn, displaying true mastery in terms of game management and prediction throughout the early game.

In a questionable sequence of events, Finchinator allows his Ferrothron to take a Will-O-Wisp, which cripples it, while Jayde allows his opponent's Ferrothorn to set up the first layer of Spikes as he burns it. Subsequently, Jayde makes a masterful prediction, pivoting his Tyranitar into the opposing Starmie switch in order to trap it. A strong Hydro Pump lands on Tyranitar and then Starmie goes down to Crunch, leaving Jayde in a 6-5 position, but with multiple worn-out Pokémon. Finchinator goes to Landorus-T and both players use Stealth Rock. With rain and momentum in mind, Finchinator takes out the Tyranitar with U-turn and sends in Politoed, ensuring rain for the remainder of the battle.

Jayde sends out his Keldeo to revenge kill the Politoed, and Finchinator promptly answers with his own Keldeo, showing the true vulnerability to opposing Scarf Keldeo his team had. After trading Surfs, Jayde doesn't seem to want to risk a Speed tie and fodders off his weakened Jirachi on turn 13. Then, Latios is his follow-up as it Recovers into a Ferrothorn switch-in. Finchinator knows Jayde will switch and tries to wear down the incoming Mew with Leech seed, but then he switches into Thundurus-T on the recovering Mew. Despite Leech Seed recovery, Mew still comfortably takes out Thundurus-T after taking a strong Thunder.

At this point, Jayde has the clear advantage due to Latios being healthy, Ferrothorn being weakened, and a safety blanket of Scarf Keldeo being alive to threaten the entirety of Finchintor's team. This position is mainly a testament to overall solid play, but one exceptional moment has to be the Tyranitar getting rid of Starmie. The benefits of that aggressive gameplay will be seen throughout the remainder of the game. On the contrary, Finchinator can 2HKO or OHKO the entirety of Jayde's team with Keldeo, and he can potentially deal with some variants of Latios with his burned Ferrothorn, so we will have to see how this unfolds and if Finchinator can dig himself out of this somewhat sizable hole.

Keldeo is the switch-in of choice for Finchinator and Surf cleanly revenge kills the weakened Mew, but that invites a healthy Latios back into the match. Jayde then makes a risky play and uses Hidden Power Fire, but that risk certainly works out, as Finchinator goes to Ferrothorn, which was in 2HKO range after Stealth Rock and burn damage, and suddenly Finchinator's chances to claw back are diminished significantly due to his Latios counterplay remaining essentially being getting a critical hit with Keldeo. Jayde then uses Surf into the Landorus-T pivot, which was made in order to stall Life Orb damage despite it being mainly futile at this point.

Finally, Latios takes out Finchinator's Keldeo, which failed to land a critical hit beforehand, and after chipping Ferrothorn more than it already has, it goes down. Keldeo comes in for Jayde and with a simple click of Surf, the severely weakened Ferrothorn falls and Jayde wins this tough contest at 2-0 against Finchinator, moving him to 3-0 and Finchinator to 2-1. Overall, this was a fairly well-played match on both sides, but Jayde grabbed the upper hand early on with a few double switches, while Finchinator valued Spikes more so than Ferrothorn's longevity, so Jayde's team outlasted Finchinator's team and through solid execution, he emerged victorious in the long run in an extenuating bout.

Featured Replays

SM LC - mad0ka v ZoroDark - written by Kingler12345 & Mr. Highways

This week's LC highlight match features mad0ka of the Raiders and ZoroDark of the Ever Grande BIGs. The former brought an ORAS-esque bulky offensive build with an incredibly hard-hitting Pokémon in Corphish and a slow Mienfoo to bring it in with a slower U-turn. The latter had a more interesting approach, with two fast and potent Pokémon in Doduo and Elekid and a defensive backbone of the Mienfoo + Foongus (Regenerator) core, rounded off by likely Stealth Rock + Rapid Spin lead Kabuto with Weak Armor and Groundium Z or Life Orb Diglett. At Team Preview, mad0ka's Corphish seemed to be a massive threat to ZoroDark's team, especially since his check to it, Foongus, was vulnerable to Knock Off and could be trapped by Diglett or even lured and KOed by a Flyinium Z set. Likewise, Zoro's Elekid was a threat against most of mad0ka's team with Diglett gone, as it could continuously regain momentum with Volt Switch. ZoroDark also had to be wary of many hazards being put up in the event that mad0ka's Ferroseed carried Spikes, especially because Ferroseed hard counters his spinner in Kabuto.

The match started off with Zoro getting the advantageous lead matchup with Foongus against a Snubbull, pulling a double switch to Mienfoo on the Ferroseed switch-in. He continued to gain a slight edge by playing aggressively, revealing a defensive High Jump Kick Mienfoo set, which forced a Snubbull switch-in due to mad0ka's own Mienfoo being 2HKOed by it. This allowed Zoro to play mind games with Foongus, threatening a double switch back to Mienfoo every time it was in. On Turn 7, mad0ka switched in Ferroseed on the Sludge Bomb, which allowed her to set Stealth Rock up. It helped that Ferroseed hard walls Kabuto and can easily KO it with Bullet Seed should it try to switch in and Rapid Spin on it. This one-sided one-on-one matchup meant that even though Zoro riskily used Rapid Spin on the predicted Spikes on Turn 11, mad0ka could just set them up the next turn due to the imminent threat. After going to Mienfoo again and using U-turn, Zoro decided to risk the roll against Eviolite Snubbull with Diglett's Tectonic Rage, which basically resulted in a one-for-one trade. This was not too bad of a trade, as Diglett wasn't very useful for the remainder of the match, while Zoro's Mienfoo now was a huge issue to deal with. On Turn 18, Zoro's Mienfoo was heavily weakened and mad0ka's Snubbull would faint to entry hazards upon switching in, which meant that she could trap it with Diglett. As a result, he made a nice play to double switch into Foongus on the switch-in. mad0ka decided to chip it down slowly with Ferroseed with the knowledge that even Hidden Power Fighting would not kill and would activate Ferroseed's Berry Juice. However, Zoro instead smartly decided to chip Ferro above Berry Juice activation range where Doduo's Jump Kick had a very high chance to KO it. Unfortunately for mad0ka, her Diglett did not have Rock Slide, which meant that she could not KO Doduo with Diglett. After this, d0ka simply did not have the resources needed to deal with Foongus combined with the other threats on Zoro's team, which gave him a fairly straightforward path to victory.

This was a well-played battle on Zoro's end, as he played aggressively against an opponent who is known for being far more aggressive in her play than he is. mad0ka also showcased Eviolite Snubbull, which showed its ability to lure Diglett in with the opponent, in general, thinking that it's the more common Berry Juice set. Both the players also used Groundium Z Diglett, a set that has become relatively popular among tournament players.

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 second 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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SPL Recap by Klefkwi | HTML by SparksBlade and The Dutch Plumberjack | Scripts by Quite Quiet and Toast++.
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