Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Challenging Return to Competitve Battling

A new generation, a new competition. As you can probably tell, things have been pretty busy. My last post was 16 days before Sun and Moon came out! But that's life. Between work, family, paying bills, and everything else in this overrated thing called "adulthood", I haven't had time to keep up with this blog. And likewise, I haven't been able to keep up with competitive battling. It's certainly been a while, and I was itching for a fight! Luckily, the announcement of the February International Challenge gave me an opportunity to use Scratch! The International Challenge also follows VGC 2017 rules, so this served as perfect practice for upcoming live events.

McGonagall, Ivan Ooze, Soos, Ariel, Bullseye, and Magneto are ready to battle!

The team originally was about allowing Pheremosa to sweep, but I decided to drop her and instead focused on defense. Besides, Tapu Lele provided more than enough offensive pressure! As Mudsdale, Alola Muk, and Gastrodon are tough to break through, I added Magnezone and Alola Persian for additional disruption. This proved a lot more successful than I anticipated, but there are a few kinks I'd like to address.

Remember how I had that thing called adulthood? Well, turns out it also gets in the way of training a proper team. Thanks to a few matches on Pokémon Showdown, I knew essentially what I wanted to use. But ... breeding takes time. Luckily, my coworkers didn't judge when I pulled out my 3DS during lunch. After finally wrapping up prep work on Saturday, my first few matches went great! I pretty much executed on every Parting Shot, Knock Off, and Scattered Psyche to earn commanding victories.

It was a roaring good time!

With strong wins, I was confident ... a bit too confident. Just as much as I swept opponents, I got swept back. It was clear both Garchomp and Kartana caused quite a bit of trouble. I had ways to deal with them individually, but it was difficult fighting them together. A single misplay usually cost me the game. There are always exceptions, however.

Besides defeating a Garchomp + Kartana combo, there were other things that made me proud of this team. Trick Room, for instance, wasn't too threatening since most of my team was slow. In fact, I often outsped some Trick Room threats, which surprised some opponents. At times, opponents would also miss the fact my Magnezone was carrying an Air Balloon, so they'd tirelessly spam Earthquake to no effect. Rain teams without a Grass-Type didn't pose much of a challenge either -- it was easy to bring in Gastrodon and disrupt an opponent's momentum. There's no greater feeling than Gastrodon coming in on a Hydro Vortex. Learning from my matches on Showdown certainly helped.

The face when you waste your Z-Move.

But there was still plenty of learning to follow! Extra coverage moves Pokémon had were the bane of my existence. For instance, Alola Ninetales will often carry Freeze Dry to hit Pelipper hard. This also means that Gastrodon can get hit hard. Furthermore, some Pokémon like Bewear would have interesting item choices like Choice Scarf which caught me completely off guard. And don't get me started on the Oricorio + Lilligant combos. The fact you can get off three attacks between two Pokémon in one turn makes zero sense! Not gonna lie, still a bit salty about that. But, now I know the full effects of Dancer and that it allows Oricorio to use BOTH Petal Dance and Air Slash in the same turn. Hopefully I can find a good way to discourage it.
Don't be fooled -- this thing's a jerk!

For the limited prep time I had, I gladly walked away with a 25-19 record (and that one disconnect). While I wish I could have gotten a stronger win record, I learned a lot about the meta game and am feeling much more confident about future competitions. Once I reaccess the team and modify it a bit, I know I can get a better record the next time around! Besides, anything's possible when you put your mind to it.