As a cool little activity to keep me occupied in the MBA off season, I've decided to join the other coaches in making a season prediction, as well as taking the time to explain a couple rivalries I have with two of the other MBA coaches. Indulge me, if you will.
I'm going to be honest here there are a lot of teams that I feel could make the finals and finish strongly this year, so bear with me if the mid section in particular feels a bit arbitrary. I'll have to trash talk those who end up being ranked lower on this list at least a little bit, if only to ge them fired up. It will be fun to revisit this at the end of the season, just to see how wildly innacurate my predictions were. If you're interested to check out and rate the teams yourself, they're available in this google doc.
1. Glen Waverley Gyarados - Obviously this is an overconfident prediction, but if I didn't back have faith in myself to win the whole thing, I'd be doing myself in through lack of confidence. Aside from that I do really like my team - I expect to take a few losses this season, but I will be disappointed if I don't make finals.
I'll leave the analysis of my team's draft by Tottenham Espurr's coach:
This team is the pinnacle of team balance. A lack of high tier walls is deemed redundant due to typing and composition answers. Sticky Web is a fantastic compliment to his team as it ensures Bisharp and Arcanine, potent threats, to be faster than most mons. Keldeo Mega Latias and Bisharp are hard to build a core around, due to potential set up that can clean up opponents, or wallbreak opponents. Reliable hazard set up and removal, prankster, voltturn usage are all found in the drafting of lower tier mons and can be used to great effect. What a great exponent of team balance. Outlandish sets and careful planning will be required to defeat this team.
As a result of this critique, our season hashtag is to be #teambalance.
Key to victory: Keldeo
2. Tottenham Espurr - They showed their dominance both in lineup and in piloting last season in topping the league and winning the final. With much of the old lineup returning, I expect the Espurr to be a strong threat again, as their coach clearly knows how to get the best out of his pokemon. The team also looks to have great depth from the lower tiers to support their huge offensive threats, although on the whole the lineup could be considered a little on the frail side. Most teams will need to turn to bulk to survive and return KO's, especially since only three have access to Sticky Web to slow the Espurr down,
Key to victory: Hippowdon
3. Richmond Raikous - Have looked absolutely terrifying in preseason because of their bountiful offensive threats. I expect many of Richmond's matches will turn in to quick shootouts, and if they do, expect them to favour Richmond more often than not. Also I'm salty because they drafted Volcarona before I got a chance to. Richmond may be vulnerable to some of the more defensive teams if setup can be prevented or interrupted. While preseason has seen them cop some unfortunate RNG, all it takes is one free turn for any number of their powerhouses to set up a win if they manage their board right. Their few bulky support mons will be very important for keeping their offensive threats alive and in a position to win.
Key to victory: Volcarona
4. Miami Heatmor - I am honestly really scared of the Gardevoir on this team - I passed over it in favour of Latias. There is a lot of bulk in this team, and so it will be hard to break down if you cannot hit water super effectively. There are definitely a few good tricks up this team's sleeve, but it remains to be seen how well its bulky core will be able to set games up for the few attackers on the team that are able to go straight off the bat, and how well tricks will be able to be executed.
Key to victory: Slowbro
5. Sydney Shuckles - Another team with more focus on offense than defense at first glance - to keep with that thought underestimates the power of the OU mons on this team though, particularly a well set up Clefable, who has many options to choose from. The Shuckles scrapped all the way to the Finals last season, and the team seems balanced and versatile enough to be a finals chance again, as they have solid enough options for both offensive and defensive set ups to use as win conditions.
Key to victory: Clefable
6. Blackburn Brelooms - Smeargle really scares me here.This team has quite good survivability and defensive type synergy in it, but may struggle if it allows hazards to get set up, particularly since many things outspeed Smeargle and are more than happy to finish it off if its sash has been broken. Thankfully, Moody and Sleep clauses are a thing as well. Diancie without its mega stone as well is less scary, but still nothing to be sneezed at. Blackburn's coach appears to have a good grasp of the minutae of pokemon battling, so I expect to see some cunning victories conjured up by him, which could be enough for the fellow rookie to make the finals in their debut season.
Key to victory: Smeargle
7. Wildwood Wobuffets - The ability for Wobuffet to selectively destroy opposing threats will mean that every other coach will need to be on guard here. The team feels more focused on defense than offense, so even with the support of Wobuffet, careful teambuilding from opponents should see them safely get past defensive behemoths. Ditto can be a huge pain to opposition and provide another offensive outlet, but might struggle to be used effectively if opponents manage their board position well. A hint: Imposter and Toxic don't go through substitutes.
Key to victory: Wobuffet
8. East Side Excadrill - I am salty because they drafted Gyarados, who was my preferred mega going in to the draft (although I am quite happy with Latias and Keldeo). While nothing especially on the Excadrill's team sheet stands out as alarming, it is a strong lineup with many options and a reasonable depth - the trade off between these two aspects, and that I know the Excadrills coach and his skills.
Key to victory: Gyarados
9. Burwood Buizels - While Burwood has got a number of threats on their team this year, they did have a lackluster season one, so (and probably harshly) I figure they will improve on their previous seasons result, but are not likely to penetrate far in to the top ten. Given the vast options available to the squad though, this prediction is likely to be way out if the Buizels bring their A game to enough battles, which preseason battles have shown is a real possibility, especially if he is allowed a free turn to let certain key pokemon do their thing (Looking at Manaphy, Mega Ampharos here).
Key to victory: Manaphy
10. Utah U-Turners - There is a lot of bulk and utility in this lineup, however most teams will build around that. Without too many high tier offensive threats, the U-Turners might struggle to gain offensive momentum should opponents successfully get some offensive momentum going. Breaking them down will be difficult, but most other teams here have the options to do so, as the U-Turners can only bring 6 pokemon. If last season is anything to go by, the teams that had overwhelming offensive prowess with good support options were the best performing ones, and I just don't see that in this lineup. That said, I now expect to be ground down to zero by impenetrable bulk when I face these guys.
Key to victory: Raikou
11. Sunshine Squirtles - While Mega Glalie exploding will be hilarious, I feel like the Squirtles squad lacks the ability to support its top end mons adequately. It would be a mistake to underestimate the bulk and niggle that it can provide, but I feel like too much will be left to too few here, especially without the ability to mega-evolve Sableye.
Key to victory: Mew
12. Epping Eevees - While drafting nearly all of the Eeveelutions may seem like a bit of a joke, I would not be surprised to see the Eevees be a surprise packet again this year - after all, our preseason battle was quite close. However, I feel like the team lacks synergy and enough dimensions to get past most other teams in this competition, however close it may get. I look forward to seeing them pull off some upsets, and hopefully none of those are me.
Key to victory: Leafeon
13. Tullamarine Auras - One of the new coaches this season, so it is a bit hard to know what to expect from the Auras - audition battles aren't always the best indicators ones battle capabilities. While there are definitely a number of strong offensive threats here, I'm not sure there is the bulk to back it up, or adequate support to consistently get the Auras in to winning positions against tricky opponents.
Key to victory: Talonflame
14. New York Klefkis - I battled coach Travis in an audition battle, and while he didn't do too badly, I felt like there were some aspects of his play he could improve. I feel harsh, and like a smug bastard in tipping the Klefkis for 14th place, but someone had to be put there - I'm sure Travis will show me the error of my ways, as his team does have quite a number of threats, though I do feel like its offensive and defensive depth is a bit lacking compared to other teams. Also boo for drafting Darmanitan - yes Arcanine is versatile, but Darmanitan hits like a truck when it's allowed to.
Key to victory: Scizor
Season MVP: Rotom-W stands out to me as a bulky and versatile pivot for the Heatmor, and it looks like it will definitely play a central part in its teams potential success. This is tough to predict simply because of the different metrics by which opponents might measure MVP-ness. For me it will be the one that does the most to set up a victory/potential victory, either by damage output, or stopping the opponent from executing their game plan, and so will not always be the Pokemon that picked up the most KO's. Other likely candidates? Sableye, Wobbuffet, Kyurem-B, Thundurus-I
Season Golden Fist: Alakazam - Many teams have 6-0 capable mons, but I think Alakazam's strong form last season in averaging just over 2 KO's per battle will be hard to top. Honestly, for many of these teams it depends how many KO's are stolen by tryhard teammates, and how reliant teams get on one mon for all its KO's. Other likely candidates? Clefable, Keldeo, Gyarados, Dragonite, Manaphy
vs Epping Eevees
Epping's coach, Chris, went to the same school as myself, in the same year level. In fact, Chris was the one that introduced me to Shoddy Battle back in the day, and so was the earliest person who I learned competitive battling from. Many years have passed since then, and a student from our old school has since won a TCG national championships, but the question remains - which of us can claim to be the best Pokemon trainer from Melbourne High?
vs East Side Excadrill
Josh, the coach of the newly renamed Excadrill, is a university and football friend of mine (please read that in an inbetweeners voice) - MVTID. We have had many battles in many different formats over the last few years, and there is always a bit of pride on the line in those battles. I introduced Josh to the VGC format last year shortly after discovering it myself, and we have both drastically improved our play in all formats since then. Now Josh's involvement (and Chris') have drawn me in the the MBA - it will be exciting to see who gets the bragging rights in our next battle.