Smogon Premier League Coverage

Art and article by Kinneas.
« Previous Article Home Next Article »

In recent weeks, hype has been building in the community over one of the most highly anticipated tournaments in Smogon's history: The Smogon Premier League. The SPL sees Smogon's best battlers formed into teams to take each other on in a "Best of Eight Battles" match-up each week. Teams earn points for winning and are placed in a League format. With metagames from every generation involved, managers need to think long and hard about covering all areas of competitive battling: a team containing eight of the best DP OU battlers probably won't fare too well in this environment.

Managers select their players in an auction format from a pool of over 200 potential players, and if they manage to outbid all of the competition, then the player will be added to their roster. This new and relatively untested method of selection proved to be frantic and unpredictable in the early stages, with some fantastic players being snapped up for next to nothing, while other lesser known players went for extortionate amounts in the final few days as managers desperately tried to spend their remaining money to fill their rosters. With the bidding over and rosters finalized at the start of the season, the result is ten highly competitive and evenly matched teams.

In this article we'll be taking a brief look at each team's initial roster for week 1, and doing our best to catch the managers for a quick word before the start of the season.

Indie Scooters – Synre

Assistant Manager(s)
alex, Carl

If, like me, you were disappointed to find that the Scooters logo doesn't jump out of the screen when you don a pair of 3D glasses, then at least you won't be disappointed when checking out the sleek, stylish, and menacing Indie Scooters roster. Indie Scooters are the first team in our SPL rundown. Managed by moderator Synre, the Indie Scooters lineup is compact, being one of 4 teams with only 10 players, but take one look at some of the players in that roster and it quickly becomes evident that it is a highly competitive one, featuring huge names from past and present such as Gouki, husk, Smogon Frontier conqueror Atticus, and the highest valued player in the SPL: JMC, who finally went for an incredible 28.5K in the final stages of the player auction. Unfortunately Synre is a very elusive moderator and was unavailable for any sort of interview at the start of the season. He must have been busy with his pre-season preparations!

Alpha Ruiners – whistle

Assistant Manager(s)
matty, Scofield
The Chaser

After a heated bidding war with Congregation of the Classiest, whistle and Scofield managed to outbid Rory and secure previous Smogon Tour and Official Tournament winner Loki for what was a record breaking 25K at the time. For the middle stages of the auction, the Ruiners were reasonably quiet, only picking up one more player for over 10K, solid UU player Aldaron; but still managed to bag some astonishingly valuable players for very little at all, such as Jira for 4K and Duskie for a rock bottom 3K. In the final few days of the player auction, the Ruiners bolstered their squad by picking up 5 extra players, bringing their roster size up to 16, making them equally the largest team along with Les Elégants and The Flaming Charmanders. The Ruiners have all areas covered by flexible players such as Sk and _Rewer_, as well as Loki who can fill in, and probably win, wherever he is needed. We managed to grab whistle for a quick interview before the start of week 1.

Kinneas: You got some good deals in the player auction, how did you find the format and handling of the auction?

whistle: Despite all the only half-joking harsh words that flew around during the beginning of the bidding process, I found it a lot of fun. After we got past the initial wave of drama over "sniping" players, the social aspect of SPL became really apparent and I enjoyed all the joking around and banter that we exchanged in #SPL. There were a few snags regarding rules that had to be ironed out, but I think the hosts / Tournament Directors handled the situation extremely well by temporarily halting the auction. The entire process was also a great learning experience for all of us. I still laugh a little to myself every time I think about how the relative pricing for players changed over the course of the bidding (from when 10K was considered a decently large bid at the beginning to when it was considered pocket change near the end).

Kinneas: While Loki will undoubtedly be a huge asset to your team, his price tag reflects this. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

whistle: Well, apart from Aldaron and Loki, the rest of the team is in approximately in the same price range. When picking players to bid on, we focused on those who we felt had the capability to beat every other player in their respective tiers. I'm actually pretty surprised that we got away with all of our players at the prices we did. I think every one of them has the potential to do extremely well, so it's hard to say who I think will be the best value (except for Loki... he costs too much)!

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

whistle: I'm sure most people will agree that the teams owned by Synre and Fabbles are the ones with the most intimidating rosters. My team has some pretty decent player matchups against theirs, though, so while those are the two teams that look the most challenging, we aren't scared to face them at all!

Kinneas: I've been staring at your team logo for a while now and I can't help but think there might be a hidden message in it somewhere. Once I work out what it is I'll let you know, but for now, what do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

whistle: The artwork is great. I like how each piece is themed around a specific color, which really helps promote the team nature of this competition. All the little quirks in each logo are really cool as well. Speaking of quirks... it seems like the Unown in our logo really are "Psychic" (I swear I didn't get that joke from Scofield)!

Congregation of the Classiest – Rory

Assistant Manager(s)
Dubulous, RBG
Deep Thought
Eo Ut Mortus
Lady Bug
Seven Deadly Sins

At first glance at the bidding statistics, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Cong' were a fairly average team. Only two bids over 10K and one of only two teams not to have shelled out more than 20K for a single player, but take a more in-depth look at the Classiest roster in the SPL, and you'll soon realize that Rory has made some incredibly intelligent bids during the player auction. Cong's line-up is packed with skill: A saturated DP roster featuring two Season 9 Tour Playoff Finalists is backed up by competent past gen players Skarm and TTS, with FM and goofball more than capable of covering any metagame. Congregation of the Classiest are a team to look out for this season. Rory was kind enough to lend us a few moments at the start of the season to answer some questions about his pre-season experiences:

Kinneas: In my opinion, you were one of the managers with the best grasp on the player auction, and you managed to get some great deals. How did you find the bidding process overall?

Rory: The bidding process was very competitive. Some managers were forced to team up against others in order to even survive! I tried my best to be very honorable when bidding.

Kinneas: You picked up a lot of great players for less than 5k, who do you think will prove to be the best value for money in your team?

Rory: Yes, I got a lot of good players for less than 5k, but I think the best value was goofball. He's great at all tiers, which helps all the players, and I got him for only 18.5k (that's a lot less than other players who are good at all tiers).

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

Rory: I really didn't want to face Synre's team. We've gotten along the best and his team is pretty intimidating. On the other end of the spectrum though, I cannot wait to crush the Wifi Wolfpack.

Kinneas: Your logo contains a Bidoof, one of the weakest and most annoying Pokémon of all time. I know Persian is your main mascot, but if the teams ever had a mascot battle, you better hope Alpha Ruiners don't have a Hidden Power Fighting Unown. I'm just saying. Sorry, I'm supposed to be asking: what do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

Rory: The SPL artwork is really great. I don't know what else to say about it really, except that I love what Zracknel did based only on the teams' names.

The Firebot Charmanders – jumpluff

Assistant Manager(s)
6A9 Ace Matador
Sage Abdul

The Charmanders are a team who are already sporting an impressive fanbase amongst the Smogon Community. Seeded number one in the Smogon Tour playoffs, 6A9 Ace Matador was the first player secured by jumpluff, and is capable of overcoming any opponent in the three DP disciplines. Despite competition from the majority of other teams, MoP (Aeroblacktyl) was confirmed as a Charmander going for an impressive 27.501K in the player auction, and will be a keystone in the team's campaign this season as he can cover any metagame if needed. Other notable names in Jumpluff's team include Arin and past gen specialist Floppy. The Charmanders are looking good to live up to their fans' expectations this season. jumpluff was on hand and happy to answer some question during pre-season:

Kinneas: Congratulations of winning the battle for MoP! I have a good idea of your feelings on this issue, but I have to ask: how did you find the format and handling of the auction?

jumpluff: While it was a time-consuming and worrisome process, I'm satisfied, since I managed to form a roster to be proud of. There were the inevitable issues that arose, but LN and Shiv did their best to deal with them as they appeared, and moreover we were on schedule. At least I can relax now!

Kinneas: In comparison to some of the more extreme bids, Ace Matador ended up relatively cheap for you. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

jumpluff: I can't really say since I'm not clairvoyant, but I did manage to get some good players cheaply towards the end. If I had an idea, though, I wouldn't say, since I don't want to place any more pressure to perform on any of my team than they'll be getting. Sorry!

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

jumpluff: Synre's and Fabbles's teams should scare the living daylights out of most of the managers, including me. Every team has at least one player to watch out for, though.

Kinneas: Have you ever seen Fonejacker in Australia or do you just really love cookie's avatar? While we're on the subject of your logo, I should probably also ask you: what do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

jumpluff: I haven't seen Fonejacker, but cookie's Fonejacker avatar is iconic of Firebot, and I thought the logo we got was pretty fantastic! I'm a fan of Zracknel's style; he uses bold lines and bright, contrasting colours to create very realistic logos, and I couldn't be happier with my logo. I'm sure the other managers like theirs a lot as well.

Smogon's Greatest Brits – twash

Assistant Manager(s)
Kevin Garrett
Twist of Fate

The Brits are a team with a packed DP roster featuring popular names such as Kevin Garrett, Philip7086, Twist of Fate, and Season 8 Tour finalist Krack. The past gen roster may seem a little lackluster, with only three players registered to cover the respective metagames, but hopefully Lesm46's 28.001K price tag will prove a testament to his abilities, and spies and Havak will be competent enough to deliver too. An interesting bit of trivia: SGB only actually have two British battlers (Havak and Nachos), there are other teams with “more British” rosters than SGB, such as The Cryonicles with three British battlers in their line-up (Taylor, Kinneas and B-Lulz). Twash sat down and spent some time with us during pre-season, in which he was happy to go over the bidding process and assess his team's chances in a short interview:

Kinneas: I remember seeing that you missed out on signing Mien by two hours. There were quite a few changes to the rules and format throughout the auction week, how did you find the handling of the auction and the format in general?

twash: I never really concentrated on the times, just whether or not the spreadsheet said they were locked or not. At first I unsurprisingly found it fun, as I nabbed four superb players for a rather low cost. As it went on though, I got more and more annoyed (I kind of find it funny when I look back on it now). Everytime I would bid, something would go wrong. I had real trouble securing some extra players for old-gens. Eventually we got there though, and I am very happy with my lineup. I didn't really mind the rule changes partway through. Props to stellar and LonelyNess who did a fantastic job on the spreadsheet.

Kinneas: You got caught up in a few crazy bidding battles, one of which saw you shelling out 28K for Lesm46. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

twash: The prices varied depending on the position of the other teams...which I think is partially why I got some awesome albeit cheap players early, when other managers had their sights set on others. My favourite buy is probably spies, who I somehow managed to get for 4.5k. This was an early buy and was important later when I was struggling to secure old-gen players with the money I had.

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

twash: Tough question. If I wasn't managing, I'd love to see the clash with Fabbles' team, as I personally think he has one of the strongest lineups—which is why I am slightly more concerned about facing them as a manager! I also look forwards to taking on Jimbo and jumpluff, because I think these meets will be quite lighthearted as we are good friends.

Kinneas: I'm going to be referring to you as "Smogon's Greatest Buts" in all future articles, as I'm convinced that's what it says on your logo. Posh fonts aside, what is your opinion on the artwork for the SPL?

twash: You're just jealous that you aren't on the greatest British team living. Anyway, I love the artwork and an absolutely fantastic job of it has been done. My favourite concept is probably the Wifi Wolfpack logo, but my overall favourite is probably The Cryonicles'.

The Wifi Wolfpack – Jimbo

Assistant Manager(s)
SoT, Stellar
gotei(13) hyorinmaru
j. franky
Legacy Raider

The Wifi Wolfpack looks to have one of the most well-rounded rosters this season, featuring a host of great players for every metagame. gotei(13), VIL, Jackal, Mekkah and homsar are all available to fill the past gen slots, while Jimbo has a whole host of options for DP, including reachzero, Abutorn, Legacy Raider, and franky. It's incredibly difficult to spot any one weakness in the Wolfpack; their roster has arguably the most depth out of any team in the league and they should be considered serious competitors this season. The Smog editor and Wolfpack manager Jimbo leant us a few minutes of his time to talk tactics and reflect on his SPL experiences so far:

Kinneas: Jimbo, you've got a great squad, if you don't mind me saying. How did you find the format and handling of the auction?

Jimbo: At first I thought it was really fun and hectic at the same time. I was really hoping to keep some people for only 3k in the beginning, but that didn't always work out. Near the end (especially for me, after I had no money left) it seemed a little bit duller and very slow. Overall I thought it was fun, but a draft maybe would have worked better.

Kinneas: As well as some big money buys such as VIL and reachzero, you also got several well known players for under 4K. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

Jimbo: I think homsar was a steal. Since I was not around to see the ADV generation for myself, I had to ask around to see who was good. I heard of homsar from a few sources and expected other people to go for him, but I was happily surprised. I'm really glad to have my entire squad though; I think we have a great mix of people.

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

Jimbo: The Indie Scooters (who we probably will have faced by the time this is published). Their team is very intimidating!

Kinneas: Are you annoyed that Fabbles's team have Wailord as their mascot and you don't? I mean, Wailord is YOUR Pokémon. Oh, and what do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

Jimbo: Despite the fact that Fabbles is now dead to me, I really love our logo. It perfectly personifies what our team stands for; Zracknel really did a great job with everyone's logo. AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The Ever Grande BIGs – Fabbles

Assistant Manager(s)
Quantum Mechanics

Fabbles' team contains quite literally some of the biggest battlers on Smogon today. After managing to pick up imperfectluck and LonelyNess early in the player auction, more notorious names were quickly acquired, including JabbaTheGriffin, vashta, and dbolt. The final BIG to join was the ever threatening Zak91, who will undoubtedly prove invaluable to the BIGs in the DP metagames. IPL and Jabba are excellent all-round players who will probably be at the forefront of the BIG's past gen campaign this season, but are also more than capable of covering any of the DP disciplines. All things considered, the BIG's are an incredibly solid and well-rounded team who appear to have all bases covered this season. Expect them to be challenging for the top spot. Fabbles answered some questions for us:

Kinneas: Early on in the player auction, you got some good deals, how did you find the format and handling of the auction?

Fabbles: Well, I have played a lot of fantasy sports, so I know my way around player drafts and auctions. I prefer a draft, but as LonelyNess was not going to change the format, I was stuck with the auction. By the second day I saw none of the managers doing anything, so I made a big splash by bidding on a lot of players. I know that there are tons of good players in SPL, so I bid on as many as I could and hoped for a few to fall into my lap. My real qualm with the process was the other managers complaining about so-called "sniping." With the 24-hour deadline, it made things difficult for me because at least half of the managers did most of their bidding while I am asleep and at school, so I had only a little time to even respond to their bids. I made sure that there were at least three hours left before a player that I was about to bid on was up, but the other managers sadly did not show that same courtesy. I'm still hoping SPL moves to a draft format next year so that there will be no more grudges held between teams because of "sniping."

Kinneas: With the possible exception of Zak91 costing almost twice as much as your next most expensive player, everyone on your team seems to have a decent price tag. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

Fabbles: Too early to tell at this point. I am really happy with how the auction went and I think the BIGs have a great chance to make a run for the championship. I thought my best moves were getting quality players in PurpleWeezing and Quantum Mechanics for so cheap. I am confident that if they need to play that they will perform well.

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

Fabbles: Most people have picked the Indie Scooters as the pre-season favorite, but I am not too sure at this point. I am more nervous about playing teams with a strong core of DP OU players as I am still trying to work out who will be starting on my team.

Kinneas: Stealing Jimbo's favourite Pokémon to use as your logo could prove an effective form of psychological warfare. What do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

Fabbles: Well, I had no say in making our logo, so I apologize to Jimbo, but the Ever Grande BIGs' logo looks absolutely fantastic. My favorite part is the slogan at the bottom: "We are the BIGGest users."

Les Trous des Élégants – Sonuis

Bad Ass
Chomper The Sharptooth
Dark Wolf
M Dragon

While most of the managers decided to focus solely on a few key players during the start of the player auction, Sonuis took an entirely different approach, which resulted in Les Élégants' hosting one of the largest rosters this season. Making up to 15 individual bids at a time and completely saturating the market with 3K bids led to a few distinguished names managing to avoid the attention of other managers. Bad Ass, locopoke, GARLIC, and Sapientia are just a few of the names that became Élégants for the price of mere commoners. As well as a flurry of 3k bids, Les Élégants also made two big money signings in zerowing (now makiri) and one of the highest regarded DP players: Earthworm. While the team's roster isn't short of players, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to fend off some of the smaller, more polished teams. We managed to snag a few moments with Sonuis at the start of the season:

Kinneas: You seemed to have a different strategy to the rest of the managers when making your bids. How did you find the format and handling of the auction?

Sonuis: I did? The format and handling of the auction was simple. You could say it was like a pair of shorts. It was comfy and easy to wear.

Kinneas: You have more 3K players than some teams have on their entire roster. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

Sonuis: Bad Ass. Not only is he a team mascot, but he's a top notch UU Ladder player. There are plenty of other awesome players I got for cheap. Can you say, CHOMPER THE SHARPTOOTH?

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

Sonuis: Why should I be afraid of other teams?

Kinneas: I hope having an NFE as your team mascot doesn't reflect your team's battling prowess. Is your Metang holding anything in that fist he's making, and what do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

Sonuis: If you're talking about mascots, then you really should be asking, "Why is Raikou the mascot of the Circus Maximus Tigers?" A dog is not a cat. Though I guess the same goes to mine, since it doesn't have an ass. Also, it has its pinky up. Metang isn't holding anything. Finally, the artwork is nice enough.

The Circus Maximus Tigers – tennisace/Thoughts

Assistant Manager(s)

The Tigers were the focus point of some off season controversy, as manager tennisace had activity problems early in the player auction, which meant co-manager Thoughts was thrown into the bidding fray and quickly took charge. The Tigers managed to pick up some big names in DP, including Smogon Tournament 6 winner Hanke and the Oceanian terror Panamaxis. Other popular DP players include Reyscarface, Delta2777, and Tito, while Slobroking, CaptKirby, Giga Punch, and Pirotechnix share the majority of past gen responsibilities. tennisace had returned back to managerial responsibilities when we spotted him for a quick interview pre-season:

Kinneas: How did you find the format and handling of the auction?

tennisace: I thought it was handled extremely well overall. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of clarity with the amount you could raise a bid by. It seemed that at the end, bidding amounts weren't multiples of 500, which even affected my own team as I had an extra 735 dollars left over. However, the bidding process was well organized, and there were several strategies that could be utilized that really made the auction interesting.

Kinneas: I've heard a few players saying Giga Punch will be inactive and a waste of money. I'm sure you've considered this, but who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

tennisace: That's a hard question to answer, really. All of the guys on my team were gotten for a reason. However, I feel that in terms of price, Piro was the best bargain on my team. I've seen him play and all I can say to opposing teams is: watch out. As for your comment on GigaPunch, I doubt he'll be inactive, since he knows he's an integral part of the team. Even if he is, we have people who could step in for however long he's gone.

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

tennisace: None of them scare me too much. I will give props to Synre and the Indie Scooters though. They have a really strong lineup, but they sure aren't immortal!

Kinneas: I've been told to mention this, and I really hate to break it to you, but Raikou is a legendary dog, not a tiger! Ignore this for a moment though and tell me: what do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

tennisace: Dog, tiger, gerbil, wildcat, who cares? Raikou is a badass no matter what. That said, I love the art for SPL! Zracknel did an amazing job with the logos, and they look extremely clean and professional.

The Cryonicles – Huntofthelion

Blue Kirby
Dark Lucario

The final team in the SPL this season is The Cryonicles, who were reasonably quiet throughout the player auction until the final stages, where Huntofthelion had enough cash left over to outbid the other managers in the bidding wars for Taylor and Smogon Tour Season 8 champion DarkLucario. Filling out the rest of the DP roster are some great names including Blue Kirby, Romeojustdie and Stallion, while the past gens are shared between Aeolus and 3K bargain Shiv. The Cryonicles seem to lack a dedicated GSC player, but still look formidable in all other areas. Huntofthelion was on hand to answer a few questions before the start of the season:

Kinneas: You seemed to pick up some of your best players at the end when the other teams couldn't afford to bid against, was this your strategy all along? And how did you find the format and handling of the auction?

Huntofthelion: My strategy was more to wait and see what everyone else would do first, so I guess you could say I was playing it patiently. I was involved in the bidding throughout, and I was trying to get some top players early but I was content to wait and try and build the team off of value picks. I thought the format was well done, though I would have preferred a draft because I think it would have been more fun/balanced.

Kinneas: Your team is fairly balanced in terms of cheaper players and big money signings. Who do you think will be the best value for money in your team?

Huntofthelion: I think the best value would have to be romeojustdie. I consider him to be one of the best DPP OU players, so obviously getting him for under 10k seems like a bargain to me.

Kinneas: Which team are you least looking forward to facing?

Huntofthelion: The Indie Scooters, their team on paper is definitely the most balanced. That said, it will be a lot of fun to see how our team stacks up against them!

Kinneas: While the Regice in our logo is doing its best to look intimidating, I can't help but feel that deep down he's really just asking for a hug. What do you think of the artwork for the SPL?

Huntofthelion: I think the artwork is amazing, and Regice is by far the most intimidating!

Let the games begin!

And there we have it. 128 players, 22 managers, 10 teams, only one winner. The SPL promises to live up to expectations as one of the most heated and engaging tournaments ever on Smogon. Expect sparks to fly and tempers to be lost, rivalries forged and friendships jeopardized in this 11-week roller coaster. Smogon members are already picking sides and predicting winners. Hopefully our interviews have given you an insight into the inner workings of some of the teams and helped familiarize you with the players in each squad. The only question left to answer is: Who will you be supporting?

« Previous Article Home Next Article »