Week Five vs Tottenham Espurr
This week I battled against the reigning champions of the MBA, the Tottenham Espurr. We kicked off the week, so this update comes fairly early as well. You can find the results both by scrolling through this post, or in the League's Google Doc. I have to apologise for this blog being otherwise ghostly quiet otherwise, I've just found my writing time a bit squeezed, and inspiration a little lacking too. Rest assured a new Art of (Pokemon) War post is nearly ready to be presented.
Firstly, here is Tottenham's squad.
When we look at the lineup, we see a lot of really fast threats, with massive nukes on both sides of the attacking spectrum, as well as quite strong defensive options, again on both sides of the spectrum. There are lots of things to be frightened and careful of, so I had to cover a lot of bases, and not overcommit to guessing any one particular lineup, even though some picks on his side were more likely than others.
On paper I feel like I've got enough lineup advantages to have the upper hand in the matchup, but it is really close, and poor/spectacular play on either end could turn the tide of the battle very easily, especially knowing the caliber of Mark's play based on his performance last season.
Large tracts of Marks team can't do much about Water/Fighting coverage in terms of switching in, but additionally, set up and webs would be required to make full use of that. Other than use of Toxic, Phazing, and Hydreigon, Mark doesn't have much to answer bulky psychic types either in my opinion - for me that is Latias, but for others this might include pokemon like Cresselia, Reuniclus and Musharna, and possibly Clefable even though that's a fairy. Of course, there are ways and means of playing around this, but it seems one of the few weaknesses I can find.
Although it isn't a part of my team, combined Flying/FIghting coverage also seems to match up pretty well against Tottenham, as does Fire/Fighting, which my Arcanine can use. I'm just putting that out there for any other coach thinking of ways to try to beat Tottenham - just keep in mind that you'll need to break through Hippowdon with these to truly secure win conditions, which isn't an easy task.
Without further ado, here were my notes:
Web up immediately if possible Look after Bisharp and Keldeo as they do well in general. Keep Bisharp away from (fast) Mienshao, Hippowdon unless really weakened (<30% HP). Also watch out for Magneton (Magnet Pull esp), Hitmontop, Hydreigon. Probably won't bring all 5 of these.
Keep Keldeo away from Victini, Alakazam early game, High HP Tangrowth and other things unless boosted.
Stop Empoleon from Defogging with Bisharp. Don't let Linoone happen – watch out if he switches it in on Shuckle for free – or have encore. Target Hippowdon down as a priority – gets wrecked by Shuckle for eg. Need chip damage/substitute to be sure of taking out Alakazam and Victini with Keldeo.
Tangrowth is Physically bulky, as is Hippowdon (Arcanine flare blitz not a 2hko unless >20% chip). Magneton better physical defence, as does Miltank. Keep this in mind when attacking. Keldeo gets essentially a free switch in on Hydreigon and Empoleon. Keldeo can only deal with Victini, Alakazam using substitute, or with web and >=+1 boost. Magneton also a potential issue, as can be Mienshao if no boosts. Latias handles Mienshao, Alakazam ok, should trade ok with magneton, empoleon (provided no freeze) Shuckle is great after a few boosts, if a slow way of grinding this team down. Also won't handle Magneton/Empoleon as well since they're immune to poison. Rocks hopefully not too important.
Hydreigon not affected by web – A bit threatening, but can only run one set of Specs/Scarf/LO, and one of Timid/Modest, so play carefully and accordingly. If you can, use Bisharp to Pursuit trap Victini/Alakazam and remove them, they're annoying. Be careful switching in on Empoleon, but +2 Knock Off KO's it – good chance even on max physical bulk version.
Win Cons: Keldeo to +2, Web up. Latias +1, Empoleon and Hydreigon gone/heavily damaged. Bisharp in, Hippo/Hydreigon gone, or Bish at +2 and those guys heavily damaged. Conserve these three as considered necessary. Don't lose Galvantula until Defog threat is gone if possible. Shuckle can be used to sponge hits or grind down HP, whichever you think is best. Mostly don't try to switch in on Victini, esp with Latias as you need the HP. Shuckle can tank everything if Shell Smash is set up and Phazing threats are gone.
From that detailed plan, this is the team I went with:
Horny Beast (Keldeo-Resolute) @ Leftovers
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Calm Mind
- Secret Sword
Hoenn Airlines (Latias) @ Latiasite
EVs: 252 HP / 76 SpA / 180 Spe
- Calm Mind
- Dragon Pulse
Chopped (Bisharp) @ Life Orb
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
- Knock Off
- Sucker Punch
- Iron Head
Fluffy (Arcanine) @ Leftovers
EVs: 64 HP / 252 Atk / 192 Spe
- Morning Sun
- Extreme Speed
- Flare Blitz
- Close Combat
Eggshells (Shuckle) @ Chesto Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
- Shell Smash
Tesla (Galvantula) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Compound Eyes
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Sticky Web
- Bug Buzz
- Energy Ball
Season Team Caps: 5 - Keldeo, Latias, Arcanine, 4 - Bisharp, Galvantula, Shuckle; 2 - Claydol, 1 - Aromatisse
You can see that there aren't too many bolded items here - that is in part because of the risk averse nature of my build this week, and in part because I felt like bringing more or less my standard best six would be the best answer to whatever Mark woud bring.
Due to experience with substitute in the past, I put Encore on Shuckle as a way to hamper his play and earn myself time to improve my positioning.
I also gave Pursuit to Bisharp on the off chance I could pursuit-trap one of Mark's scary Psychic types, particularly Victini if it managed to get in safely enough to KO one of my team-members.
Arcanine was given Morning Sun, and Leftovers, because I felt like having the ability to keep it around longer would be ideal, rather than Kamikaze attacking, because I knew from the preseason keeping it around to Extremespeed in the late game was a vital option to keep wins open. Apart from that it's just a strong attacking set, designed to make use of Sticky Web and dent opponents where possible.
I put Bug Buzz and Energy Ball on Galvantula on the off chance that it would have time to sit around and attack something, allowing it better coverage against Mark's team, which didn't have great answers to combined Bug/Grass/Electric coverage. Mostly it was there for its Sticky Web, which greatly enhanced my matchup against Magneton, Victini, Alakazam and Mienshao
Arguably I could have tried a Scarf Keldeo again this week, but I'm not really comfortable with using it in that way just yet, and don't like relying on Hydro Pump's shaky accuracy to pick up KO's. Latias as well was a bog standard CM+Recover set as I felt it covered what it needed to. I would have loved a Refresh/Heal Bell fifth move slot, but alas, that is why 4MSS exists.
Replay Result: 2-0 WIN
I was certainly caught off guard by Substitute Magneton to start with, but was very happy to be allowed a free Sticky Web to start off the battle. Galvantula then scouted out Magneton's spread - it appeared to be decently bulky based on Thunder not breaking through the substitute. Latias then seemed pretty free to switch in and start threatening with a set up. It was a little annoying to have Arcanine sent out by Hippowdon's Whirlwind, but some switching around led to the effective trade of Galvantula for Hydreigon. In hindsight I could well have pursuit trapped Alakazam with Bisharp when it switched in to my Keldeo, but I preferred to make the less risky switch in to Latias. I could have also set up a calm mind with Keldeo, as I was only two Calm Minds away from one of my noted win conditions, and Hydreigon's damage output with leftovers meant that unless Mark made a clever switch in or got a critical I could have easily got up to it and won from there. Ah, hindsight.
Around this time I had to answer a skype call from my girlfriend, who is back in Melbourne while I am on a diet study and training camp in Canberra. I don't think this distracted me overly, but it may have led to some sub par plays, and I could definitely blame a potential loss on it if I wanted to be a salty bad loser. I probably made a mistake in letting Latias get toxiced, and in letting Tottenham get a free Defog off, but Roar on Empoleon caught me out a bit as I was otherwise expecting to win the damage trade with Empoleon and come out the other side with some sweeping potential from my Latias. Bisharp was brought in, so I decided to just finish off Empoleon, forgetting of course that I couldn't KO an Eviolite Magneton from its HP range, and of course in turn being revenge KO'd by Magneton with Magnet Pull. I'm not really happy with this passage of play, but at least in getting rid of Empoleon and heavily damaging Magneton and Hippowdon, I was most of the way through Tottenham's bulk - the question remained as to whether I could now withstand their offense.When Alakazam put Latias in KO range to Toxic damage, I decided to switch in my Shuckle as I felt it was well placed to deal with remaining Pokemon with that. While I could have Encored Alakazam in to Substitute, I decided to Shell Smash first turn in case he didn't have substitute. While I was in a good position to stall out Alakazam at that point, I did make a mistake in not encoring HIppowdon in to Stealth Rocks after it switched in to do just that.
Although Keldeo was able to KO Victini after being put in a good position against Hippowdon, the end game was quite tricky in trying to get rid of the Hippo while still having the bulk to survive and finish off Alakazam, a predicament my earlier plays had put me in to. After sacking off Shuckle to put Arcanine in, the game hinged on either Tottenham or myself making a superior read. I ended up making the right play for the wrong reasons, imo, by staying in with Arcanine and Flare Blitzing Hippowdon, and getting a burn, while he Whirlwinded me out in to Keldeo, predicting me to switch out in to Keldeo and trying to get some free chip damage with Stealth Rocks. I think I had in my mind that I could use Substitute on Keldeo as a win condition. While I was confident mine was a winning play at the time, in hindsight losing Arcanine to an EQ would have lost me the game, since Keldeo couldn't keep its substitute up in the face of Hippowdon EQ's, which is what I would have needed to have up to survive Alakazam. Arcanine ended up picking up the last two KO's of the battle, and some credit for having nerves of steel and staying in where it really shouldn't have. This was inadvertantly one of the only and best reads that I made this battle, and it paid off.
In the end, I finished with a close 2-0 victory. My own conservative and passive plays for most of the battle, and Mark's own good plays meant that even though I felt like I was in front for most of the battle, he really could and possibly should have won it (Those 50-50 calls) after successfully removing many of my win conditions and conserving his own. I played pretty well, but I still feel like there was room for improvement. In the end I'm just glad I came out on top, with a 5-0 record putting me in a great position for the rest of the season. Hopefully now I can experiment a bit more with team setups, and sets, and get to work focusing on improving my play so that should I make the finals, I won't be tripped up by my own mistakes like I have been close to doing in the last few weeks.
Team Golden Fist
Week Five: 2 - Keldeo, Arcanine, 1- Bisharp, Latias
Overall: 7 - Bisharp, Latias, Arcanine; 6 - Keldeo; 1 - Shuckle, Aromatisse
Team MVP Votes:
It was really hard to pick votes here as I felt the load was spread pretty evenly across the team and that basically everyone did a good job, even if the pilot could have performed better. Latias and Arcanine shared top spot - Arcanine rewarded for its clutch end game, while Latias was rewarded for being such a thorn - sticking around and picking up a lot of neat chip damage
Week Five: 2 - Arcanine, Latias; 1 - Keldeo, Shuckle
Overall: 7 - Bisharp, Latias; 6 - Arcanine; 4 - Keldeo; Shuckle; 1 - Claydol, Aromatisse
Latias Art by Macuarrorro. Check out more of his work at http://macuarrorro.deviantart.com/
Arcanine Art by Side34. Check out more of his work at http://side34.deviantart.com/
Week 5: 2-0 WIN vs Tottenham Espurr (Replay)
Week 4: 3-0 WIN vs Tullamarine Auras (Replay)
Week 3: 2-0 WIN vs New York Klefkis (Replay)
Week 2: 4-0 WIN vs Blackburn (Replay)
Week 1: 3-0 WIN vs Wildwood (Replay)
Vs East Side Excadrill (Josh)
East Side did knock me off once in preseason testing, so I'll have to be careful with how I approach and play this one - especially since we're fierce rivals, so I know that Josh will be pumped up to try to beat me.