Monotype Winners and Losers

By Megazard.
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SPL Week 4 Recap »

King Mantyke

Art by Bummer.

Introduction

We've seen a lot of shake-ups in Sun and Moon Monotype, from the addition of new Pokémon and Alolan formes, to the introduction of Z-moves, to the unbanning of some of last generation's Ubers, and to the unavailability of some Mega Stones. All of these changes leave some types much better off, or a lot worse off. Let's take a look at some of Monotype's Generation 7 winners and losers.


Winners

ToxapexAzumarillMantine

Water was already one of the best types in ORAS, but it gained the most benefit of any type with the advent of Sun and Moon. Offensively, Greninja is an incredibly powerful threat that puts extreme pressure on any hyper offensive build with its excellent Speed and Protean-boosted coverage (Battle Bond has been banned). Water also has some of the best Z-move abusers with Z-Belly Drum Azumarill being a solid alternative to Sitrus Berry, Z-Bounce Gyarados gaining a powerful Flying-type attack to break past Mega Venusaur and other bulky Water-resistant Pokémon, and Z-Rain Dance Manaphy finally having a way to boost its Speed as well as its Special Attack, making it a much more potent sweeper. However, Water gained just as much, if not more, defensively. Toxapex has some of the best defenses in the game and makes it very easy for Water to utilize Toxic Spikes. Tapu Fini is an interesting new choice for a Defogger; it can also run an offensive Calm Mind set, and Mantine's newfound access to Roost significantly buffed its longevity. Mega Slowbro is also unbanned for the time being, and giving Water one of the best defensive boosters in the game just makes it even better; however, if needed, Water still has access to previous mainstream Mega Evolutions such as Mega Gyarados and Mega Sharpedo. Honorable mentions go to Pelipper for being a superior rain setter to Politoed, and to Pyukumuku and Araquanid for being interesting new additions.


GreninjaMega SableyeAlolan Muk

Dark was also a top tier type in ORAS, but it's mostly the addition of previous Ubers that made it even stronger. On the offensive side, Greninja is a powerhouse with the coverage to decimate unprepared teams and gets plenty of support from other Pokémon like Tyranitar, Bisharp, Mega Sharpedo, and Hydreigon. On the defensive side, Mega Sableye's unbanning more than makes up for the loss of Mega Tyranitar; it allows Dark to control the entry hazard game alongside Mandibuzz and punish passive teams with Calm Mind, as well as faring much better versus Fighting. Alolan Muk is also an interesting addition; Dark is never short of priority users or Pursuit trappers, but Alolan Muk's typing is still a godsend versus Fairy, and its bulk helps to check some of the strong offensive threats introduced this generation like Xurkitree far better than Skuntank or Drapion. Dark also received a few other niche options like Guzzlord and Alolan Persian, and with the introduction of Z-moves, a few Pokémon such as Weavile can effectively take advantage of them. However, for the most part, the reintroduction of Greninja and Mega Sableye has contributed the most.


Tapu KokoAlolan RaichuXurkitree

Unlike the prior two types, Electric was renowned for how poor it was in ORAS, being very slow, one-dimensional, and matching up poorly versus many types that didn't even carry a type advantage. However, the added trio of Tapu Koko, Alolan Raichu, and Xurkitree completely changed the Speed and power issues and turned Electric into a formidable threat. Although Electric Terrain buffs the power of all Electric-type moves used, it also has other Pokémon-specific benefits. Alolan Raichu in particular pairs amazingly well with Tapu Koko, as it becomes the fastest Pokémon in the metagame under Electric Terrain due to Surge Surfer, and together, they can quickly break down teams without a strong Electric immunity like Excadrill. Xurkitree provides excellent offensive pressure with its Tail Glow set, which is often seen with Z-Hypnosis in order to boost its Speed and become a much more potent sweeper. Additionally, it can be seen running a Choice Scarf to clean teams with incredibly strong Thunderbolts boosted by Electric Terrain. Another previous issue for Electric was its lack of Stealth Rock users. While previously only Stunfisk had access to the coveted entry hazard, Alolan Golem can now set it up and has a much better offensive presence. Alolan Golem can also run a fully offensive wallbreaking set, which is an excellent option, as it is Electric's most reliable physical wallbreaker. Not everything is amazing for Electric, however, as it lost its only Mega Evolutions in Mega Manectric and Mega Ampharos, both of which would've greatly appreciated Electric Terrain support, and it still has one of the smallest pools of offensive Pokémon of any type. However, the new offensive pressure it can bring, especially versus more offensive builds where many Pokémon are outsped and KOed by Alolan Raichu under Electric Terrain, significantly changes the way Electric plays in Monotype and has turned it into a far more desirable option.


Mega Charizard XTorkoalSalazzle

While Fire received comparatively little in the transition to Sun and Moon, the buffs it got were just enough to turn it into a real powerhouse. By far its biggest addition was the unbanning of Mega Charizard X, which remains as one of the strongest non-Uber setup sweepers in the game and can dominate types that lack good options to stop it like Normal and Steel after just one Dragon Dance. Torkoal's newfound access to Drought was another big change, as it reduces the opportunity cost of running Mega Charizard X instead of Mega Charizard Y and makes a Pokémon that was already obligatory for being one of Fire's only entry hazard removers far less of a dead weight. Alolan Marowak and Salazzle, while not great additions, both have their uses, and the nerf of Gale Wings and Talonflame's subsequent unbanning gave Fire access to another solid offensive option. Finally, while Fire may not have the best Z-move abusers, Heatran and Entei can both attempt to make use of strong Grass-type coverage. Fire may not have gained a lot, but when adding to its already very hard-hitting roster of Pokémon like Victini, Infernape, and Volcarona, Sun and Moon managed to turn it into one of the stronger types around.


NihilegoToxapexAlolan Muk

Poison was an interestingly middle-ground type in ORAS, being more pigeonholed to specific counterteams than anything else, but its additions have certainly made a splash. Nihilego is one of the best offensive Pokémon the type has with solid coverage that rivals Nidoking's, as well as a far better Speed tier to work with. However, its biggest buffs came defensively, with Toxapex's insane bulk and Alolan Muk's incredible utility versus Psychic-types. Both Pokémon give Poison a lot more freedom, as it previously had very few options and was almost always forced into running very similar setups that generally suffered against the same threats. Toxapex in particular stops strong setup sweepers that could previously dominate Poison, such as Mega Scizor, with Haze, and can be very hard to break through when paired up with Mega Venusaur . Salazzle is another interesting addition that adds some type coverage and badly needed Speed to Poison, although the recent ban of Mega Metagross has made it far less mandatory. Last generation Poison mostly suffered from having too few options, and with the new buffs it has a much stronger footing in the metagame.


Losers

BuzzwoleKommo-oCrabominable

Fighting was granted several new interesting additions with some original secondary typings that it never had access too; however, this does not manage to take away from the fact that neither Medichamite nor Galladite (nor Heracronite but this is less important) were released. Both Mega Evolutions, Mega Medicham in particular, were absolutely crucial for the type by providing strong wallbreaking, a secondary Psychic typing, and either strong priority or a good Speed tier respectively. Neither of their non-Mega Evolved formes manage to fit the role too well, and consequently Fighting has become a lot weaker and has a significant amount of trouble breaking through Pokémon such as Mega Venusaur, Toxapex, and Buzzwole. As far as new Pokémon are concerned, Fighting has access to Bewear and Crabominable, both of which are too slow to be effective on such an offensive type, Buzzwole, whose bulk helps versus certain matchups but is often outclassed by Heracross, and Kommo-o, which is a solid physical, special, or mixed sweeper but does not stand out enough to carry the type. The other huge issue Fighting has gained is having too many poor matchups. Flying, Fairy, Psychic, and Electric are all incredibly hard for Fighting to overcome, especially with Fairy's new access to the island guardians and Electric's powerful core of Tapu Koko + Alolan Raichu. While Fighting has some unique new typings with access to Normal-, Ice-, and Dragon-types, its loss of Mega Evolutions and the worse matchups versus Electric and Fairy have significantly decreased the effectiveness of Fighting teams.


Porygon-ZBewear

Normal definitely drew the short stick when GameFreak was handing out the new Pokémon, and the following examples do absolutely nothing to prove otherwise. Bewear is the only decent addition and has solid offensive and defensive presence, but every other new Pokémon including Drampa, Oranguru, Silvally, and Komala, are all mediocre at best, so Normal's roster has changed very little. Swellow and Dodrio received useful buffs, but they're not significant enough for them to become key players when Staraptor is already so crucial both offensively and defensively. The most beneficial addition to Normal was Z-Conversion Porygon-Z, which can be an incredibly dangerous setup sweeper once faster Choice Scarf Pokémon have been taken care of. However, the largest blow Normal received by far is the lack of Lopunnite and Pidgeotite. Both Mega Evolutions were Normal's fastest Pokémon, best cleaners, and main way to gain offensive momentum all in one. Without either Mega Evolution, the offensive capabilities of Normal are far more limited, which puts more pressure on Porygon-Z to be the main offensive threat. The best thing Normal has going for it is the defensive core of Chansey, Porygon2, and Staraptor, but the induction of even stronger threats such as Xurkitree and Araquanid hasn't done any favors for them either. When more Mega Stones are released, Normal will likely be able to make a comeback, but for now it simply suffers from losing more than it gained.


DrampaTurtonatorKommo-o

Another major contender for the least interesting additions award is Dragon, which received several new secondary typings that all face very similar problems. Kommo-o is the most viable addition of them all, but Dragon has never had an issue finding good late-game sweepers, so Kommo-o faces competition from Pokémon like Dragonite, Choice Scarf Kyurem-B, Salamence, and Dragon Dance Flygon. As for the rest of the additions, Alolan Exeggutor has interesting coverage but is very slow, Turtonator has solid defenses and can attempt to abuse Shell Smash but is also very slow, Drampa has a unique gimmick going for it with the new ability Berserk but is very slow, and Guzzlord has great defenses and movepool but is only a little bit too slow and also faces heavy competition from Hydreigon. There seems to be a fairly common trend here with the aforementioned new additions—they're all slow as hell. Dragon's biggest strength was always having strong, fast attackers with great coverage, and adding so many slow Pokémon to the type, regardless of their strengths, clashes too heavily with the hyper offensive nature of the type to be useful. On the plus side, multiple Dragons can abuse Z-moves such as Z-Outrage Flygon and Z-Fly or Z-Outrage Dragonite, but all this does is make the same setup sweepers slightly scarier. The other big hit Dragon took was losing Mega Latias, whose incredible defensive capabilities could make it either Dragon's best Defog user or a simultaneously fast and bulky Calm Mind sweeper. Without Mega Latias, Dragon has become very one-dimensional, almost always being forced into similar-looking hyper offense builds that rely on Pokémon such as Dragonite, Kyurem-B, Latios, and Garchomp to break teams as fast as possible; however, even this is much less reliable with so many new Pokémon that present significant issues, including Greninja, Tapu Koko, and Toxapex. While initially Dragon had some life left in it thanks to the advent of Zygarde and Zygarde-10%, their bans have left the type with very little to work with and a severe lack of diversity.


Tapu BuluDhelmiseNihilegoMinior

Strictly speaking, neither of these types are outright losers. Sun and Moon hasn't changed the viability of Grass or Rock very much, but that's the problem—both were already considered terrible last generation. While Grass and Rock received a decent amount of new and interesting Pokémon, none of the additions have managed to make either type any better. Grass received Tapu Bulu, Dhelmise, Shiinotic, Decidueye, Alolan Exeggutor, and Lurantis, but while all of these Pokémon provide more unique secondary typings, wallbreaking, and entry hazard control options, none of them help Grass with its terrible matchups versus types like Ice, Flying, Fire, and Bug. Similarly, Rock was granted Minior, Nihilego, Lycanroc, and a buffed Gigalith, but it still has incredibly poor matchups versus types like Water and Ground. Kartana was the only great addition for Grass, but it was banned for being completely overpowering on Steel. Rock might've had better luck if it still had its Mega Evolutions, but Diancite, Tyranitarite, and Aggronite remain unreleased, plus the new rule regarding Mega Evolution (which only allows Mega Evolutions that share typing before and after Mega Evolving) would make Mega Aggron illegal on Rock despite it being one of its most important Pokémon in the previous generation. It's clear that Gamefreak really tried to help these types, particularly Grass, but ultimately none of these additions can help this pair from having some of the worst defensive typing and consequently the worst type matchups in the game. And it's not to say that on paper type matchups make or break a type, as evidenced by Dragon being arguably worse than Bug, but it'll take far more than what GameFreak did in Sun and Moon to turn these types around.


Conclusion

Monotype has changed significantly going into Generation 7, and there's a lot more changes that simply couldn't be covered in a single article. So get out there and try experimenting!

SPL Week 4 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 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 fourth 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

Editor's Note: Our apologies for the lack of series recaps this week; it was an extremely hectic time for the writers and we unfortunately could not get that section done. Normal articles will resume next time. However, feel free to click one of the buttons below to view the matchups in more detail and view the replays.

Around the League

In this week's edition of Around The League, we will be interviewing Hack, the Raiders' Ubers player, and CrashinBoomBang, the Indie Scooters' manager. 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 fourth week of the Smogon Premier League's cycle, we decided to approach Hack and CBB with a handful of questions pertaining to their team's performance in general as well as their own roles within the team.

UTL talks SPL: Hack Interview

Since a lot of our readers are new to the tournament scene and especially unfamiliar with SM Ubers as a tier, can you give us a small assessment of the tier in general when compared to ORAS Ubers and what we should be on the lookout for in terms of high-level tournament play?

SM Ubers is much more balanced in comparision to ORAS Ubers (which regrettably wasn't very balanced). The nerf to burns and Thunder Wave effectively nerfs Primal Groudon slightly, and while it is still almost necessary, it did lose a bit of efficiency on its Lava Plume set, and its Thunder Wave + Swords Dance set completely. Salamence, the big dragon in the room, is approximately 8% weaker, which for instance makes it unable to 2HKO a Bold Arceus with Double-Edge. There are a bunch of significant cases this power drop is noticable, and you tend to see a lot less random sweeps from this Pokémon. Another balancing factor is the banning of Hypnosis on Gengar, which otherwise also lost efficiency due to burn and Destiny Bond nerfs. Alolan Muk gives more options for Pursuit trapping as well. Another big change is the nerf of Dark Void, making Darkrai almost obsolete. This changes a lot of the dynamic for hyper offensive teams, which can't simply rely on the Deoxys-S lead + Darkrai lead strategy. Since Prankster and Thunder Wave have been nerfed, you won't see as much of the lovely Klefki these days, but everyone's new favorite Steel-type in Celesteela is a nice addition to tier, providing some sort of hybrid check to the big four offensive Pokémon (Xerneas, Primal Groudon, Arceus, Mega Salamence) if they shouldn't carry the right coverage moves. Other neat additions are the mentioned Alolan Muk, Zygarde-C, and Lunala, but honestly it is the mechanical changes that mostly differentiate the tier from ORAS. It's hard to answer what readers should be on the lookout for, but in general I'd say a lot of seemingly random sweeps can be facilitated in the blink of an eye, making Ubers extremely hype at times.

During the tournament, we've seen a lot of similar teams coming from your end of things. Can you elaborate a bit upon why you've currently taken towards that approach, maybe expanding on a specific Pokémon or core you've been comfortable with using thus far in SM Ubers?

I can understand this question from a more broad sort of "playstyle"-analysis standpoint, but this is such a shallow way to look at it. I think my teams have been towards the bulky end of things (mostly), but there are subtle nuances and separate weaknesses to each team. While it has lead to some awkward matchups on paper, especially in weeks 3 and 4, I don't think anything has been unwinnable in practice thus far (although after doing a deeper analysis of the week 3 it was really just not in my favor). The simple reason for me using teams is that I deem them to give me the best possible chances to win the given games; I don't think there is really any more elegant way of explaining my approach to the game, it has always been like this. I do like Alolan Muk though, as in conjunctions with other nerfs on offensive Pokémon, it really makes bulky teams much better for many reasons. I'm still responsible for 3/5 wins for this Pokémon in Ubers, and it has had three losses too. Maybe it's a Pokémon that just suits me, but in week 4 both Edgar and Lacus won with it, so it's always nice to see some success for it coming from other people.

Can you tell us a bit about what goes into your preparation process for matches, and more specifically, how did you prepare for Minority during Week 4?

Without revealing too much about my general process for playing in tournaments, I can just say that I find preparation for opponents to be heavily overrated. Getting comfortable at playing through tests is much more important (this assumes your team is actually good and doesn't have to bank on getting matchup). I'd recommend people to stop thinking so much about their opponents and start thinking more about themselves and their own capabilities. I'm pretty sure it helps to improve you as a player in the long run. So, for Minority "specifically" I built a good team and I played through most relevant matchups in the metagame. This included matchups where I faced Pokémon I had to PP stall, such as Zygarde and Ferrothorn. While I probably would have figured out what to do in the actual game, it just saved me a lot of time since I knew that I had to go for a PP stall vs Minority's Ferrothorn from turn 1 regardless. Since Minority hasn't played an ORAS or SM tournament game, I had no real teambuilding preparation process. I chose a team I saw fit to win the game.

After a strenuous and tough battle, you were able to come away with the victory against Minority. Can you give us a short overview of the match, with a few comments about your performance and the pivotal moments in the game?

Well, it's hard to give a short synopsis, but basically my thoughts on Team Preview was that it was going to turn into a long game. Some pivotal moments included when he revealed Rest Primal Groudon and risked being outcrept by Ho-oh and straight up lose. This was a tilting moment for me, since I thought the matchup looked to be good up until that point (as I said earlier, I can and will PP stall the Ferrothorn with double Regenerators if SR isn't up). I also tilted from the fact that he actually risked his Primal Groudon instead of risking in a more safe situation. There was also some situation in the middle game I remembered thinking to myself that I just pressed buttons, so I had to calm down there. The most pivotal moment was when I got his Primal Groudon in an unfavorable situation against me in the late-game. It was only then I knew I had a really good chance to win. In general I don't remember many pivotal moments where I felt I was getting back into but I definitely kept pushing turn by turn. I sadly remember my two misplays most: getting SR bounced by Mega Sableye a bit later in the game where I had no reason to not attack and eating a Judgment with my Muk. There might have been more, but over 360 turns I find it acceptable to make a few tactical errors—as long as you stick to your strategy.

Scooting to the postseason? CrashinBoomBang Interview

A lot of people have assessed your draft as well as your pre-draft trades for Star and Ojama as solid moves coming into this season. What was your mentality and focus coming in this year, and what did you do differently than what you had planned come draft night? Could you elaborate on the trades as well as your motivations for them?

Our overall plan was basically going for established old gen players such as Ojama, Philip7086, and Jirachee, while going for "new blood" that John and I could help prepare and get up to shape, since a new generation is kind of a free-for-all in the sense that no one has an overwhelming amount of experience in it. It definitely shows in how our auction went, as we spent a majority of our money on old gens and paid way less than most other teams for our newer gens, but I'm definitely not unhappy with our Sun and Moon performance, all things considered. The draft actually went almost as envisioned, with the only change being that we missed out on both of our original GSC picks after Phil was rather expensive, but I don't think we can really complain about that seeing how hard 378's been beasting it despite being kind of a last-minute plan we came up with. Gunner Rohan, I have to admit, also wasn't first on our list for Ubers, and we almost bought another Ubers player after Ojama told us that he doesn't like his name (yeah), but I'm glad we stuck with him; I have a lot of faith in Gunner to perform excellently for the rest of the season, and he's a very smart and capable guy, and a really good player. As for the Star trade, after playing some Little Cup myself last LCPL (and doing quite well!!), I considered LC to be half a wasteland. There were only so many LC mains that I also consider to be generally good at Pokémon, something that I consider to be very important coming into a new gen. Star was one of the few LC players who I considered to be alright at Pokémon, which I figured would give him an edge against most other LC players by being a better player than most people who actively play the tier, but also more acquainted with the tier than random "good players" starting in LC without actual knowledge of the tier. Of course, it hasn't worked out that well so far, but I'm sure Star's performance is gonna pick up from here on out, so whatever.

You being a very proficient OU player yourself, I'd imagine you'd be very involved with your OU players and their own preparation. How would you describe yourself in terms of your manager role and how has the experience of working alongside other competent OU players worked out for you so far this season?

As mentioned above, I unfortunately didn't have much input Week 4 (or Week 3), as I was rather busy for both of those weeks, which is a real shame; I thoroughly enjoy working on teams and such with these guys because everyone is super motivated and you can feel they just want to play the game and perform well! However, I do think that Week 1 in particular bro fist and I contributed a lot to the preparation phase, and I think both of us being seasoned and experienced players means the "new dudes" can learn a lot from us, seeing how both of us kinda saw 3-4 generations come and pass in our time playing Pokémon, meaning we've kinda seen most stuff at this point in time. Generation shifts are always a wild time, and this time was no exception, but I think John and I have played and seen enough Pokémon over the years to kinda realize what "works" and what doesn't. I think our experience definitely gives us the role of a guide for these newer players, and I hope they'll learn something from working together with us. Like I already said, I enjoy preparing with all these guys a lot; they're all very smart and capable players, and I think the main reason they haven't performed outstandingly is because nerves have been getting to them a lot, which is definitely understandable. I remember being extremely nervous for my first SPL myself, and SPL nerves will always be a thing, but I definitely feel like they're improving in that regard. Special shoutouts to obii, who probably helped preparing our OU guys more than anyone else and is definitely a cornerstone of sorts for our SPL team. Definitely one of the biggest-value pickups all season I believe.

Your Week 4 series against the Ruiners was definitely one of the closest and most entertaining ones to watch so far this season. Can you elaborate on the series as a whole, what were you pleased with, what could have been done better as well as some of your own influences in teams and preparation of your players during the aforementioned series?

I think our series against the Ruiners was an okay showing. While I do wish we won, I'm very very glad that we at least tied over losing the week completely. I do, however, think that we slacked a little bit during our prepwork; between me unfortunately not being very active that week and people kinda just preparing for themselves instead of as a team, it definitely feels like we could have done more, so having more activity overall is definitely something we could have done better in retrospect. I also feel like we let our early 3-1 lead get to our heads a little bit too much, but whatever. I think the most important wins for us this series were the early upset of Thorn against blunder, as well Axel10 and Mr.378 proving that they really are our most reliable wins every week and two people we can definitely always rely on to somehow pull off a win.

A lot has been said as of late regarding Valentine's administration of the Cryonicles roster. With you being a manager yourself and being somewhat vocal about Valentine's antics, could you explain to us what exactly has been going on and why do you think this sort of issue has occurred?

As I (and very many others) said before and during the season, I don't think Valentine has what it takes to be a manager. Between blatantly lying to people before the auction (and apparently in a team environment too), being abusive to his players, and in my opinion not being a very trustworthy person in general (understatement), the whole thing was always a recipe for disaster. The whole mess he basically put us through during the Starmaster trade, including guilt tripping Star a few days before auction with a sappy pastebin without any actual content, the way he acted towards our entire team Week 3 when we were up against one another with famous lines such as "you won't get a single point this week", all the recent things he has done being brought to light by njnp, all of those as well as all the other stuff he has done are very clear signs that Valentine can't work with other Pokémon players in a respectful team environment. SPL has you interacting with people first and foremost, not random drones to do your bidding. I feel like this is definitely something he didn't realize at all, earning him the distrust of pretty much every other management, as well as his own players. I'm actually guilty of this myself, and I'm sure many people who were around for SPL 6 remember the old Scooters "tyranny" I used to lead, and I definitely fucked up big time that season. But I also somewhat tried to salvage the season and work out stuff with my players on the spot (even if you could feel them not trusting me anymore starting halfway through, and rightfully so), and most importantly, I learned from my mistakes. I think that managing definitely isn't for everyone, and I feel that two of those people were me during SPL 6 and Valentine this SPL. Val, I feel, is someone who doesn't learn from his mistakes, bringing him and his SPL team to the situation they're currently in, where they had to have a change in management because of general unhappiness and trust issues leading to rule breaking. I do, however, think that teal6 and SoulWind are gonna make for a great manager duo; both of them are very approachable people (in fact, I approached teal for pretty much everything Week 3, such as issues in scheduling we actually managed to work out), incredibly nice people, as well as good friends of mine. The Cryonicles, I feel, are a very strong team now that they are free of the main thing that used to hold them back, as they definitely have a lot of individual talent. I also think that they'll be able to act as an actual "team" more freely, and I do think they're a definite contender for the trophy now.

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

ORAS OU - Trosko v TDK - written by Finchinator

In this Week 4 ORAS match, Trosko of the Sharks and TDK of the Raiders played. Trosko brought a balance team featuring Mega Lopunny with a defensive core of Slowbro and Skarmory, while TDK used a balance team with Mega Metagross and a defensive core of Gliscor, Clefable, and Amoonguss. Looking at TDK's team, it appeared to be very solid; he was able to take advantage of his Magnezone's trapping support with specially defensive Swords Dance Gliscor, Garchomp, and Mega Metagross offensively while still having sufficient overall defensive capabilities due to the aforementioned defensive core. Given the fact that Trosko brought a Skarmory, he was vulnerable to Magnezone's trapping. However, Slowbro's defensive presence could help him deal with the physical attackers of TDK's team regardless of Skarmory being healthy or not. With this said, Slowbro does not normally handle specially defensive Swords Dance Gliscor all too well due to Poison Heal and Roost and TDK has most of Trosko's team kept in check with his defensive core, so the matchup likely favored TDK.

The battle starts with each player leading with their Generation 4 Ground-type: Gliscor for TDK and Garchomp for Trosko. Right off the bat, Trosko reveals that he is running a mixed attacking Garchomp as he fires off a Draco Meteor, doing a bit over half, while TDK's Gliscor simply Earthquakes for a third of Garchomp's health. A few turns later, Trosko's Slowbro goes for Psychic against the Amoonguss pivot from TDK, revealing that Trosko likely lacks Calm Mind on Slowbro, as Psyshock is much better on Calm Mind variants in order to combat other Calm Mind Pokemon effectively. Therefore, TDK must be more wary of Thunder Wave or a third attacking move on Slowbro than he normally would be; and Slowbro indeed ends up revealing Thunder Wave into an Amoonguss pivot from TDK a couple turns later, after which Amoonguss gets off a Spore on Garchomp on turn 10.

Later, after TDK's Clefable pivots into a Scald from Trosko's Slowbro, TDK proceeds to Thunder Wave the Slowbro, which likely intended to do the same in return but failed to do so due to a full paralysis. Unfortunately for Trosko, he cannot paralyze the Clefable on the subsequent turn, either, due to a Magnezone pivot from TDK into the Slowbro's Thunder Wave. After a few turns of repeated pivot switches, turn 25 shows both players deviating from their previous lines of action as TDK goes to Gliscor and Trosko goes to Skarmory. TDK's Gliscor takes this opportunity to Roost up to full health while Skarmory sets up the first layer of Spikes. With a crucial turn coming up due to Spikes being somewhat annoying to TDK and Magnezone being potentially deadly for the Magnezone, both players elect to switch-out, with TDK likely predicting Trosko to predict Magnezone and, therefore, going Clefable, while Trosko does just that—predict Magnezone—and goes to his previously untouched Lopunny and Mega Evolves it as TDK brings in Clefable. TDK proceeds to go for a conservative Thunder Wave into the safe Slowbro switch of Trosko's, leaving the game in what might be the same sequence as beforehand if neither player elects to take a different approach this time around. Fortunately, TDK switches straight into Gliscor this time around while Trosko goes for Thunder Wave in attempt to finally paralyze the Clefable. Gliscor Swords Dances up while Trosko goes to Mega Lopunny, fearing the Magnezone coming in for his Skarmory and knowing that he can pressure the Gliscor with the prospect of Ice Punch if he gets it in safely.

Mega Lopunny doesn't reveal Ice Punch, if it even has it, and instead goes for Return while TDK safely switches in his Clefable, taking only 40% damage. Clefable heals up while Trosko goes Skarmory, likely signaling that he's willing to trade Spikes and momentum for his Skarmory, given the presence of TDK's Magnezone, but also potentially provoking some sort of prediction with hazards up and Whirlwind. However, TDK correctly goes to Magnezone while Skarmory Spikes up again, letting Magnezone Volt Switch to KO Skarmory on turn 35 and bring out his Gliscor. Trosko now starts playing a bit more aggressively in order to try breaking through TDK's team; on the other hand, TDK now can play more liberally with his Magnezone now that Trosko's Skarmory has been trapped and it is no longer needed. By double switching it back into Trosko's Mega Lopunny on the likely Slowbro switch, he enables it to finish off Trosko's Garchomp with Flash Cannon as it attempts to absorb a weak Electric-type move. This puts Trosko at a 4-6 disadvantage until the weakened Magnezone of TDKs falls on the following turn to Mega Lopunny's Return.

Looking at the game currently, TDK appears to have a pretty clear advantage, as Trosko struggles to KO his Clefable while he can progressively threaten Trosko's team due to Gliscor dealing with Slowbro and Skarmory having been removed earlier. Trosko will have to play very aggressively and take the right risks if he wishes to come back in this game while TDK can play fairly safe from here on out. A few turns later, another Swords Dance by Gliscor is met by an aggressive switch by Trosko into Latios, forcing TDK out into his Amoonguss while Trosko doubles to Mega Lopunny. Not wanting to risk damage rolls or a critical hit with Clefable at 78% before Leftovers, TDK fodders a relatively useless Amoonguss to Mega Lopunny's Return, bringing the game to 4-4. Then, after Gliscor uses Swords Dance on a weak Scald from Slowbro, Trosko relents from his aggressive counterplay to Gliscor and goes to Tyranitar while Gliscor gets another Swords Dance under its belt. However, Trosko wisely goes to his Latios on a turn 54 Earthquake from Gliscor, letting the Latios get in safely. Interestingly, TDK's Gliscor stays in this time and takes a Life Orb Surf for 64.2% and then reveals an interesting move—Baton Pass—letting him pass off the +4 Attack to Garchomp, which poses an immediate threat to the entirety of Trosko's team. TDK then Outrages into a Tyranitar fodder from Trosko, after which Trosko goes to Mega Lopunny. Fake Out from Mega Lopunny does 24%, and Garchomp gets confused as it flinches. The confusion kicks in and, in conjunction with Return from Mega Lopunny, the damage Garchomp takes this turn finishes it off, leaving the game in a 3-3 position.

As usual, TDK goes to his beloved Clefable on the Mega Lopunny, but he doubles out to Gliscor again, catching Slowbro. Then, he Roosts while Trosko goes to Mega Lopunny predicting the Roost. A previously untouched Mega Metagross comes in on a critical hit Fake Out from Mega Lopunny and, then, wisely uses Thunder Punch into the incoming Slowbro from Trosko. Unfortunately for TDK's Metagross, it gets burned by Scald on the subsequent turn after dealing out a second Thunder Punch. Slowbro is down to 9% and Mega Metagross is able to KO it, but it, too, is weakened, as it sits at 22% and is burned. Knowing Trosko wants to preserve his Slowbro and he could potentially KO it with Meteor Mash anyway given how low it was, regardless of it being not very effective and Mega Metagross being burned, TDK clicks Meteor Mash while Trosko goes to Latios, hoping to tank a Thunder Punch but knowing that it was likely that he would have to use it as fodder anyway, as it was only at 29%. After TDK fodders off his Mega Metagross to Trosko's Mega Lopunny and Gliscor is unable to muscle its way through Slowbro, he goes to Clefable promptly. Clefable proceeds to use Soft-Boiled and Moonblast three straight times while Slowbro was fully paralyzed four consecutive turns, and the last Moonblast is enough to KO the Slowbro and essentially seal the game in TDK's favor. On turn 75, Mega Lopunny comes out for Trosko and reveals Ice Punch as its final move against the Clefable, which uses Moonblast to KO it and end the game, giving TDK a 2-0 victory and his fourth consecutive win, leaving him with a perfect 4-0 record so far this SPL—3-0 in SM OU and 1-0 in ORAS OU.

This game was relatively well played by both parties, with Trosko having to take some more risks than TDK due to the matchup and being incapable of overcoming the Clefable and Gliscor of TDK's in the long haul. TDK's preparation and team for this match were quite good, as he seemed to have everything of Trosko's in check while also having a clear path to victory throughout. His execution was fairly boring, but it was effective, and he had no need to take risks with his defensive backbonem as preserving them was his key to victory. Moreover, TDK was rewarded for consistent optimal play and wise teambuilding, while Trosko suffered from being relatively vulnerable to the defensive scheme of TDK's team and having an overall reliance on Choice Band Tyranitar and Ice Punch Mega Lopunny to break most opposing teams, which clearly did not work out for him here. Both players have done well during the first half of the season, and hopefully there will be many more high-level games in the coming weeks from each of these players. Finally, the Raiders defeated the Sharks in this series, moving them to a perfect 4-0 for the year while the Sharks suffered defeat, but they still remain in contention, as they have been in the middle of the pack throughout the first half of the season.

Featured Replays

SM DOU - Stax v I am a Rookie - written by miltankmilk

Going into the match, this had the potential to be one of the best matches of the season for DOU. Rookie has surprised many by getting off to a hot 3-0 start, and Stax, at 2-1, continues his consistent track record of winning. At Team Preview Stax looked to have somewhat of an advantage, with Charizard having limited checks depending on sets and Deoxys-A also being a potential problem to Rookie’s team, but with some interesting sets Rookie was able to neutralize these threats effectively. On turn 1, Rookie revealed the Choice Scarf Landorus and KOed the Charizard with Stone Edge, despite immediately losing it on the same turn to Deoxys-A' Psycho Boost. He then revealed a second Choice Scarf user in Alolan Ninetails, which was able to KO the Deoxys with a combination of Blizzard and hail damage. Rookie's hot start was eventually halted by Stax as he was able to KO Rookie's Scrafty with a critical hit from Landorus-T's Tectonic Rage and then basically evened the game by nearly clearing the field with Earthquake and Moonblast from Landorus-T and Tapu Lele. In the end Rookie's Mega Venusaur was able to outlast Stax's Heatran with the help of Leech Seed, hail damage, and Protect which quickly whittled down the Heatran, ending the battle in a narrow 1-0 victory for I am a Rookie.

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 third 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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