PDL Shadow Boxing Season 3 Week 4 Power Rankings

Hey all. I want to bring to your attention a topic that I think can serve everyone well, no matter where you are in your journey of competitive Pokémon. That is, ‘shadow boxing’. Clod has previously covered what you should look for in a draft and how you should prep your team when looking at your current opponent. Today we are going to focus on what to do after you have your six mons prepped and ready to go. This is where shadow boxing comes into effect.

 

For those who may not know or need a little refresher, shadow boxing is a practice in combat sports where you practice against an invisible opponent to hone your technique before the real event. We apply this to Pokémon but running through various scenarios that could arise in a match and how you will react in each of them. Most importantly this applies to your opener. Many matches are won or lost by the openers. The types of pressure you can apply or momentum you can gain oftentimes can be too much for your opponent to overcome. So the majority of this article is going to focus on how you create good openers. What to look for and how to read your opponent.

 

In order to accomplish this we are going to focus on my match with Jeremy from week 4 of the 2019 UUTC. If you look at our lineups below a few things stand out (as a reminder this is OU format): 

 

Jeremy

  • Lando-T
  • Ferrothorn
  • Mew
  • Tapu Koko
  • Tapu Lele
  • Mega Lopunny
  • Toxapex
  • Dragonite
  • Volcarona
  • Greninja

 

Geo

  • Lando-T
  • Toxapex
  • Tapu Koko
  • Mega Camerupt
  • Greninja
  • Skarmory
  • Tangrowth
  • Kyurem Black
  • Hoopa Unbound
  • Mega Heracross

 

Jeremy has a good mix of walls and breakers with a few mons that can end the game. Dragonite is always a threat since it can be very hard to just OHKO and Volcarona has very potent setup in Quiver Dance. There is also the threat of Mega Lopunny getting off easy hits and wearing down my walls. So I had to balance out ways to not let him gain an advantage while still being able to take down his walls.

 

I eventually settled on a line up of Lando, Skarm, Camerupt, Toxapex, Koko, and Tangrowth. This is a line up that can take hits from Lele, Koko, and Lopunny, while also checking Dragonite (unless Gigavolt Havoc) and Volcarona. So getting to the meat of all of this, how does one set up an opener to provide an advantage? This is where prep comes into play. When watching Jeremy’s previous matches two things were very apparent. He liked to open Lopunny to get the easy mega evolution with fake out and he liked to get rocks or Volcarona set up early. Feeling pretty confident in the Lopunny opening I decided that I would open Lando for the intimidate drop with a hard switch into Skarm. This insured that Skarm would take minimal damage that would mostly be recovered. Following this you are still looking at a -1 atk Lopunny versus a defensive Skarm. Knowing his tendency to want to get rocks up or Volcarona set up, I figured he would then go for a switch into one of Ferro or Volcarona. In turn I would double switch into Camerupt. Camerupt then pressures his entire team with fire blast as Jeremy has no reliable switch into Camerupt. Even Toxapex can’t take a fire blast into an earth power. This is the type of event that leaves you with an advantage. My prep settled on a way to get Camerupt in to inflict free massive damage. If you watch the vid, you’ll see he switches into Ferro when he sees Skarm. He then switches into Volcarona to take the fire blast. The whole match is a good showing from Jeremy while playing from behind. Losing Volcarona early was just a little too much to come back from without other reliable ways to win the game.

 

But what if things were different? It’s always nice when things go to plan, but preparing our openings is such that we have a ‘plan’ even if the opponent does things we don’t expect. Let’s look at some these other situations. I wasn’t so much afraid of Lopunny using any moves other than fake out. But if Jeremy caught wind or suspected the switch he could’ve gone into Volcarona or Ferrothorn immediately thus leaving him with momentum. The unfortunate thing for Jeremy was that a scarf Lando opening is hard to play around for his team. Scarf U-Turn can just generate lots of momentum if there are no rocks to punish that play. Dragonite can’t open because of Lando’s Intimidate and U-Turn. Koko can’t open here cause of the EQ. Perhaps in hindsight Ferrothorn was his best opening because then the barbs put some damage on Lando and gets some easy rocks up.

 

All of this becomes exponentially more difficult for the draft format. Everything I described previously was in a format where sets were locked in. This is a format where match to match everything can change dramatically. Other than Mega mons, items get to to change leading to mons filling different niches from week to week. What you need to do is first identify what particular strategy you are going to employ. Once that is set you need to also look at what their likely mons are going to be against yours. Which mons are going to be putting pressure on yours, which mons can be run defensively and which mons are their win conditions. You can then begin to formulate how to best set up your win.

 

The mon you open up with should facilitate the set up of your win conditions. Whether through momentum, pressure, or hazards etc. You should have your first likely moves planned out. Like if you open Ferro and they open Toxapex what are you going to do? Once you have settled on your mon determine what you are going to do when faced with each of his mons. Then what do you do next? Who do you switch into? What kind of attacks can you use? The permutations can get pretty insane and this is only move 2. In order to keep this focused divide the match up into four stages: opener, early game, mid game, and late game. Try and set a role for each of your mons depending on what stage of the game you’re in and whether you are ahead or not. The level of risk you want to take in each stage is up to your personal play style. This should still tie into your overall game plan on how you want to win. Flexibility is still key as your opponent may have an unexpected tech and your win condition may change part way.

 

Power Rankings

 

Well now it’s time for everyone actually cares about, power rankings. Last time I said I was going to weight drafts in disproportionately, this time I’m back to my ‘normal’ which basically means all of the factors that include going deep into a play off run. I know Clod is coming at it from a similar angle. As for y’alls I honestly don’t know cause I see COG at 11 and that’s just not right but enough jokes, here are the rankings.

 

Geo

  1. RCF
  2. MID
  3. KDH
  4. PIP
  5. SAE
  6. EDE
  7. TDU
  8. BFS
  9. HAW
  10. SCS
  11. HEH
  12. SSS

 

Clod

  1. SAE
  2. MID
  3. RCF
  4. BFS
  5. SSS
  6. PIP
  7. KDH
  8. EDE
  9. TDU
  10. HAW
  11. HEH
  12. SCS

 

Community

  1. SAE
  2. RCP
  3. MID
  4. KDH
  5. EDH
  6. PIP
  7. SSS
  8. TDU
  9. BFS
  10. HAW
  11. COG
  12. SPS

To see current results and schedule come to the PDL season 3 hub at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UODS5_FFXCFhRCDKVbv0QZbmHR4bg5hcUIvipL2pkJs/edit?usp=sharing

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