Introduction to the Smogon Frontier

By Eraddd.
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In 2005, after the initial success of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, Nintendo released their typical updated version of the games - Pokemon Emerald. While this game had a few aesthetic and gameplay updates, one major difference that set it apart from its predecessor was the addition of a certain section of the game, called the Battle Frontier. While everyone and their grandmothers were able to defeat the Pokemon League with their over-leveled starter, the Battle Frontier was another sort of beast; boasting seven "Frontier Brains," each facility of the Frontier pitted the player against a different challenge, eventually leading to a battle with the Brain him/herself. Each Facility required a great deal of skill, a coherent team (not your over-leveled Blaziken) in most of the facilities, and a great deal of luck on the side of the player. From this concept, the Smogon Frontier was born. The Smogon Frontier pits each challenger against the best of what Smogon has to offer; these chosen Frontier Brains from all around the world represent some of Smogon's strongest, craftiest, and luckiest players. The challenge is this: are you able to defeat twelve out of thirteen Frontier Brains, Smogon's premier players?

The entrance into the summer of 2012 marks the sixth season of the Smogon Frontier. With our beloved host Kevin Garrett taking a break this year, the Tournament Directors felt fit to appoint a new Tournament Director to host this year's Smogon Frontier, Eo Ut Mortus. Eo Ut Mortus has a great deal of experience of how the Smogon Frontier works, serving as Palace Maven last year; he played the greatest number of games that year after reyscarface. Moreover, he's familiar with the tournament scene in general, having played in them since 2009. A rather intelligent and tempered individual with the tools to host a great tournament such as this, Eo Ut Mortus should be a fine host throughout this season.

Chances are, if you've played the Battle Frontier on the cartridge games, you have an idea of the difficulty of defeating all the Frontier Brains. Numerous trainers lay ahead of you with each facility throwing in their own twist, from using points for items, to using a number of random Pokemon selected by the AI. Now take this difficulty, and crank it up by tenfold and you'll have the true difficulty of the Smogon Frontier; even without the number of trainers you must battle before the Frontier Brain, the Brain himself is a much more intelligent player than the cartridge AI and boasts a much better team. Statistically speaking, looking at last year's stats, an average player has about a .0000522% of defeating twelve out of thirteen Brains in a row. This speaks to the absurd difficulty of this tournament; to be clichéd, you'll be covered in your own tears, sweat and blood (online of course) by the time you're done with this tournament, and chances are, you probably won’t even have won.

Now you, the reader and challenger, are probably thinking to yourself, "How do I succeed in this prestigious tournament against such an absurdly stacked roster and odds?" Throughout the course of the Frontier, only three challengers have succeeded in defeating this all-star roster: Atticus, Bloo, and Gouki, all three prestigious and successful battlers themselves with extensive experience in battling throughout the course of their stay in Smogon. History is against you; looking at the odds, there might not even be a winner this season. But that's no reason to lose hope; a truly skilled (and lucky) player is able to overcome odds and emerge triumphant.

With this in mind, there are a few things to consider before taking on the Frontier. While some of the best tournament players on Smogon usually don't need to practice as much, due to having refined their battling skills over the past years, you'll want to have mastered, not only improved, your battling skills, in order to be fairly successful. Keep in mind that these Frontier Brains have battled for years in numerous tournaments and are at the point where they don’t even need to ladder to hone their skills. A week of laddering won't suffice; think more along the lines of a year of laddering and tournament play. Yet fear not; if you're reading this article and are serious about taking on the Frontier, it's likely you yourself have a good deal of battling experience. The Frontier partly puts your mastery of battling to test and if you truly have what it takes to be elite.

With the Frontier boasting the likes of the previous Frontier winner Bloo, the previous Smogon Tour winner ToF, and more, the average player is more likely than not to be intimidated by this imposing line-up. As stated above, the odds are so stacked against you, and it's easy to see why looking at this roster. Yet, the lack of confidence often contributes to a player's eventual defeat; intimidation and a lack of confidence saps your play-style in that you're less likely to be aggressive and less trusting of your own ability, which is damning in a tournament match. Psychologically, without a confident mindset, you're more likely to put yourself down and deny yourself the victory. Instead, adapting a confident attitude will help push the tides of defeat even if just a bit. A well-known tournament player told me that to win, you have to be confident enough to know you can beat anyone. Yet, he also added that your ego shouldn't be too big that your whole competitive mindset will be shattered if you lose. As the Smogon Frontier allows up to two rematches, it's important to keep confidence in check so as to not be completely crushed by a defeat. A competent battler will know how to keep his ego in check, while not being completely dominated by the intimidation of the Frontier Brains.

And finally, a successful player will have the Pokemon gods on his side, or rather, the RNG. Throughout Smogon’s tournament history, a great deal of battles has been decided by a timely critical hit or a miss, tipping the scales to the underdog. Furthermore, contemplate the likelihood of luck not being a factor during the course of your Frontier experience. The longer your run of the gauntlet goes on, the greater the likelihood of luck coming into play, whether for or against you. As a complete underdog coming into the tournament, you will have to rely on the RNG to tip the scales in your favor more often than it tips for your opponent, to level the imbalance of skill against you. Even more so, you'll have to be able to weather not just your opponent's team and absurd skill difference, but also the chance that the RNG might favor your opponent instead, which you can control with the help of this article. Keep this in mind when going into battle against a Brain.

As a prospective player in the Smogon Frontier, you'll be constantly reminded that the odds are against you, whether in the form of a completely one-sided battle, or the reputation of the Brains themselves; the Smogon Frontier exists only for those who have the skills, the will and the luck to win against an absurd amount of odds. Yet, even in the face of a storm, there's always hope for those willing to battle; it's only a matter of being able to muster up the strength to play against those pesky Brains standing in the way of your glory. Also, the Battle Frontier is an opportunity to test your mettle against the best; even though you may not triumph, you'll be able to measure your skill against some of the toughest players on this site and see where you stand competitively. And finally, while the Frontier exists as one of the most competitive tournaments, always keep in mind that you're playing Pokemon, not being thrown into the coliseum. Always make sure not to lose sight of the big picture, that you're here to have fun and enjoy yourself while testing yourself against the best. With that, I and the rest of The Competitor wish you luck in your endeavors in the Smogon Frontier.