Yes, somehow we stil have another MBA preseason post coming up.
Over this past week, a preseason single elimination tournament was held to prime the coaches up for the season proper, which starts this Sunday. The bracket is viewable here, and would you believe it, I made it to the finals but lost there in a nailbiter. In addition, the fixture for the upcoming season was released over last weekend.
I'll give a brief rundown of the preseason cup now. Although I we could change teams as much as we liked throughout the tournament, I decided to just make one and stick with it as long as I was in the tournament, as much out of laziness as hubris and wanting to identify weaknesses in essentially my top 6 (by tier) against particular teams. So, here is the team that I ran with during the preseason cup, all the way to the finals:
Pink Lady (Latias) @ Latiasite
EVs: 252 HP / 128 SpA / 128 Spe
- Calm Mind
- Dragon Pulse
Clop Clop (Keldeo-Resolute) @ Leftovers
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Calm Mind
- Secret Sword
Steak Knives (Bisharp) @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
- Iron Head
- Swords Dance
- Sucker Punch
- Knock Off
Grrrrrrrr (Arcanine) @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
- Close Combat
- Flare Blitz
- Extreme Speed
- Wild Charge
Fit the Mould (Shuckle) @ Leftovers
EVs: 252 HP / 32 Def / 224 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
- Shell Smash
Spiderman (Galvantula) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Compound Eyes
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Sticky Web
- Thunder Wave
- Bug Buzz
Most of the team is pretty standard fare for what I've been testing, with Shuckle going full troll because I felt like against most teams I didn't need to worry overly much about setting up Rocks, or clearing hazards, while Shuckle could put in work against many by being really annoying. Basically this is what I'd describe as one of my best one size fits all lineups for the MBA without worrying about making secret techs for each matchup. Not a lot else to say in my opinion, other than observing that it was highly offensively geared, looking at setting up board position through Sticky Web, removing threats and breaking walls by relentless heavy offense, with the ability to set up sweeps as well in the right circumstances. I guess I could also stall and chip away with Shuckle if I needed to slow the battle down as well.
Being faster than opponents was important to me; as was winning damage trades through coverage, having the right pokemon out at the right time positioning wise, and neutering threats early on to conserve my own win conditions for later in the battle - often I fell behind early in the pokemon count, but made it up in the end because of superior positioning and threat removal.
Round 1 vs Epping Eevees:
I played pretty averagely here. I was especially disapointed with the way I let Bisharp go down (to surprise Specs Vaporeon, no less), and was only bailed out by a lucky burn on my Latias saving it from toxic damage. While I had got in to a decent position prior to that to roll over my opponent from a 3-4 position, I let it slip and choked, having to rely on the charity of my opponent and RNG to save me in a 1-0 win.
MVP: Probably Bisharp for its huge damage output during the match, although Latias gets a special mention for saving my bacon at the end.
Round 2 vs Wildwood Wobbuffets:
Unfortunately, replays were down due to a DDoS attack (apparantly), so none of my last three battles of the tournament were saved - I have the transcripts, but they're a bit lengthy to include in a post, and I don't have a great way to upload documents and link them on here.
I sacked Arcanine early, but it was worth the trade as I got huge damage on two important Pokemon, Blissey and Gliscor, which essentially neutered them for the rest of the match. Keldeo was in a pretty good position then, but Red Card on Donphan did come in handy for it, allowing a free KO on my Galvantula, before Keldeo returned to pick up its second KO of the match. Charizard's Air Slash meant that I couldn't simply stall out the sun, so Shuckle was sacrificed to allow Bisharp to come in and get some damage off. Bisharp picked up a couple of KO's again, before Latias came in to finish off a weakened Gliscor, and beat the lone Wobbuffet at the end through endless calm mind boosts, although it did go down to Destiny Bond as a trade, leaving me with a 2-0 victory. I was happier with this win as it was less sloppy and more controlled than my earlliier match against Epping.
MVP: Lots of pokemon were very useful here. Latias might have picked it up had I been less conservative in my use of it, but I think Arcanine's early work should be rewarded.
Semi Final vs Tottenham Espurr:
Again, no replays, but I'll try to accurately describe the battle.
I led with Shuckle here, confident that it could put in a lot of work against whoever it faced off against from this team. It significantly chunked Magneton and Hippowdon before being roared out, whereby Latias then picked up two KO's, on it and on Hitmontop. With no threat of rapid spin or Stealth Rocks, and Latias heavily damaged, I was happy to let it go down so I could freely set up a sticky web with Galvantula, to neuter Alakazam and a potential scarf Victini. Later, Shuckle was even able to pick up a KO on an opposing Magneton. The battle nearly took a turn for the worst with Substitute Belly Drum Linoone getting free set up turns against Shuckle, but fortunately Bisharp and Arcanine still had a lot of health left and were able to make Linoone not an issue, although perhaps I was a little careless in sacrificing Bisharp rather than Shuckle to it. It turned out Victini was Choice Banded, but Keldeo was stil able to take care of it, and put Alakazam into KO range for Arcanine to pick up the last two KO's, securing a close 2-0 victory and seeing me in to the finals. Another close match, probably more so outcome wise than against Wildwood, but I was very happy with how my team paced itself and set up its win conditions despite that.
MVP: Almost certainly Shuckle for the sheer amount of work it put in setting up the match and frustrating my opponent, although Arcanine was very very useful as well. Pretty much everyone contributed in this battle.
Final vs Sydney Shuckles:
The match started with a hazard trade - his rocks for my sticky web. Galvantula then went down, job done as it had also got solid chip damage against Mamoswine, which was important since it can otherwise do solid damage against my team. Latias then picked up the KO here, but I foolishly let myself get revenge KO'd by Regice in case of a switch in being heavily punished. Bisharp then finished off Regice to bring it back to 4-4. In hindsight, I could have kept Bisharp in on Thundurus to trade damage with it, but I was happy to sacrifice Shuckle to bring Thundurus in to Extremespeed range from my Arcanine. While Sam wisely conserved his Thundurus, Arcanine was then able to finish off Jellicent and gravely damage Clefable once it was apparant that with rocks up, Arcanine could no longer switch back in. Keldeo finished off Clefable, but was picked off by a max speed Thundurus, which I was kind of hoping it wouldn't be just so I could sneak a win. The game was still in the balance though, with Bisharp around. In hindsight, a Swords Dance when getting Thunder Waved would have put me in a better position, as although Bisharp then KO'd Thundurus, and was at risk of being paralysed, in the Metagross vs Bisharp matchup, my Bisharp only had the slimmest of chances to KO a full health Metagross without a boost. Unfortunately for me, the 6.3% roll didn't happen, and neither did a critical hit, although I wasn't paralysed either. A close 1-0 loss, and lessons learned for the main season, where I will hopefully be able to tailor my team a bit better for this matchup. While I am dissapointed not to have won the preseason cup, I was overall pretty happy with my play here
MVP: Bisharp, even though it wasn't able to get me over the line, did so much heavy lifting in this battle it is without a doubt my MVP for the final. Not quite enough support from its teammates, (Arcanine nonwithstanding) especially since Keldeo had a poor matchup, meant that I just fell short, but I can take solace in the knowledge that I was in with a chance right to the last turn, and a few decisions either way earlier in the battle could have changed the outcome in my favour.
Preseason Team Golden Fist:
7 KO's, jointly Latias (KO'd 2 times) & Bisharp (KO'd 3 times)
Bisharp, for being able to put in so much work in putting holes in opposing teams, both for picking up KO's and punching holes for teammates to exploit, as well as being so consistent in its contributions this tournament. Arcanine gets a special mention for serving a similar role, but with less KO's for its efforts. Definitely surprise packets in some ways as earlier testing leant towards Keldeo and Latias as important win conditions.
Week 1: vs Wildwood Wobbuffets
Week 2: vs Blackburn Brelooms
Week 3: vs New York Klefkis
Week 4: vs Tullamarine Auras
Week 5: vs Tottenham Espurr
Week 6: vs East Side Excadrill
Week 7: vs Epping Eevees
Week 8: vs Richmond Raikous
Week 9: vs Miami Heatmor
Week 10: vs Sydney Shuckles
Week 11: vs Utah U-Turners
Week 12: vs Burwood Buizels
Week 13: vs Sunshine Squirtles
The season will be a tough one due to the quality of the competition, but the middle weeks especially will be a challenge, and the key to me making playoffs - reigning champions Tottenham kick that stretch off in round 5, followed by two rivalry grudge matches in a row, then four teams in a row that I've also rated very highly in my preseason predictions. Should I make it through that gauntlet fine, I still have to worry about my last two weeks as they won't be pushovers either, and I'll want to get off to a good start early to get more leeway for my mid-season slog.
I hope to get more big wins than the none I had in the preseason cup, as with such a close competitive season ahead, KO differential will be very important, and being at a net +4 after four battles leaves little room for error.
That's all for this edition, stay tuned for the return of the Art of (Pokemon) War, and MBA in-season posts starting from this weekend!