Not Very Effective: Time for Premier Cup

It’s been a hot minute since I updated the world on my trials in PokemonGo Battle League. Participating in Open Ultra League was interesting. After settling into Gengar-Gyarados-Lapras, I had a fairly steady climb. After my last post where my ELO stood at 2248, here is how things went leading up to the switch to Ultra Premier Cup (these represent my end of day ELO rating):

  • 2318
  • 2302
  • 2290
  • 2417
  • 2431
  • 2431
  • 2474

That 2474 came on last Saturday. I took off Sunday, confident that Veteran rank was in reach. I did one set of Open Ultra on Monday where I went 1-4 and dropped to 2432. I was not worried as I knew I had a good line for the Premier Cup and waited for the roll over before getting in a few more sets.

My line starting Premier Cup was Sirfetch’d in the lead (Counter-Leaf Blade/Brave Bird), Alolan Muk on the swap (Poison Jab – Dark Pulse/Acid Spray) and Lapras in the back (Ice Shard – Ice Beam/Surf). This was the team I had settled on last Premier Cup and carried my final few sets in a positive direction.

After going 3-2 in my first set to boost my rating back 2447 I went 2-8 across my next two sets with this team and ended Monday at 2363. My confidence in the lineup wavered and I tried to figure out where I was losing.

Some of it was me being out of practice. There was one match I lost where I had a Brave Bird loaded against a Venusaur with one shield. Connecting with Brave Bird would win me the match. Instead I tried to bait with Leaf Blade and they didn’t shield. This was a mistake as I should have realized Brave Bird was my best win condition. I had a Lapras left that they did not know about. The Lapras could have chunked down Venusaur and maybe I would have been able to get off another Brave Bird in the end.

That being said I was seeing a number of backlines that were giving me trouble. Abomasnow, Empoleon, and Venusaur in the back gave me fits. Once I get more reps in this time around in Ultra Premier, these are the kind of lines I can reliably predict and then line up my Sirfetch’d line correctly. This early in a cup’s life, however, I am still sussing out what people are running and have not built up enough pattern recognition to figure out proper alignment.

After two match losses Tuesday morning, I switched to my other old reliable Ultra Premier line. This one sees Roserade (Bullet Seed – Weather Ball-Fire/Leaf Storm) in the lead with Gallade on the switch (Confusion – Leaf Blade/Close Combat) and Magnezone (Spark – Mirror Shot/Wild Charge) in the back. The idea behind this comp is that Roserade can put on a ton pressure early with its quick charging moves. It also can chew up leads like Venusaur and Empoleon while holding its own against anything that isn’t Flying or Fire type. Gallade is a solid swap and Confusion can chunk down a ton. Magnezone is there as a way to handle problematic flyers and deal with Dragon types while also putting in work against Abomasnow.

After going 0-2 with my original line I managed a 2-0-1 to round out my first set of Tuesday (2362). I then rattled off three straight 3-2 sets to boost me up to 2404. I should have put down my phone and called it a day. I had a positive run and was getting the hang of my team again as I am pretty sure I left at least three wins on the table from being out of practice.

Reader, you can see where this is going.

My last set was a 1-4 affair that plummeted me to 2360. Here there were at least two games I could have conceivably won if I had played correctly. I think I was too distracted and too eager to get my sets in. I saw the chance to make more progress towards my season goal (hitting Veteran and ending above a 2500 ELO) and instead got jumpy.

So tomorrow I’m going to try something different. I’m going to take my time and if I can end up going positive after two sets, I might do one more. If I’m negative, there’s a good chance I’ll let it lie for a day until I can get my head right again. There are a few more weeks to go and I know I can hit my target.

I just can’t get in my own way.

Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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