Rapha’s NPA review

Hello hat lovers!

With the NPA season now over for me, I’ve decided to write about the tournament. For those who don’t know what the NPA is, it was a tournament held by NuggetBridge in which the managers of the twelve teams would “bid” on the players who signed up. Each week, eight players from each team would play against each other.

This year I returned to the Castelia Cones after playing for them last season. I unfortunately didn’t do as well as I would have liked, only going 5-4 due to my lack of practice leading to poor team decisions and subpar playing, but I nonetheless held my own in a field against other high level players.

Week 4: Lega, Fallarbor Flames (2-1W)

His team: salamence-megakangaskhan-megaterrakionrotom-heataegislashmilotic
My team: kangaskhan-megaclefairylandorus-therianthundurusaegislashheatran

I didn’t play weeks 1-3 and my first opponent was German player Lega, who finished 5-2 at worlds this past season. This set was quite close: I had game 1 won but made a mistake near the end when I switched Landorus. In game 2, I got lucky with some RNG rolls, and though it was nothing that truly decided the game, it gave me enough outs to win. The turning point of the game being when my slightly damaged Kangaskhan was able to survive a Close Combat from Terrakion because of its defensive investment and Clefairy’s Friend Guard. In game 3, I thought my opponent played his Salamence recklessly and lost it too early. I then made a mistake with my Clefairy when I used Follow Me when I should have used Helping Hand, but I got lucky with a crit Power Up Punch anyway that allowed his Terrakion to be in range for a Sucker Punch.

Week 5: Boah, Fuchia Ninjas (2-1L)

His team: kangaskhan-megasmearglegothitellescraftygengar
My team: gardevoir-megaamoongussheatranlandorus-therianthundurus

Game 1: WGDW-WWWW-WW34-5DJ7
Game 2: 4TQW-WWWW-WW34-5DJV
Game 3: ZZZG-WWWW-WW34-5DKL

Plenty of mistakes were made in this set, and a lesson why you don’t necessarily have to make changes in a BO3. In game 1, I led double genies to my opponent’s Kangaskhan + Smeargle. I win the game handily because Landorus was able to OHKO his Kangaskhan on turn 1 and he no longer had enough offense to make a comeback, despite Smeargle’s best efforts to pull off shenanigans. In game 2 I anticipated my opponent changing his leads given how poorly game 1 turned out for him. He led Kangaskhan + Smeargle again, which caught me off guard, but I really should have led double genies again as it was by far my safest option against any possible lead he had. I lost this game convincingly. I led genies in game 3 to his Kangaskhan + Smeargle once again, and a string of turns where I didn’t make the best play lost me the set. On one turn his Smeargle had gotten a speed boost and was next to Scrafty; he was definitely going to Fake Out Thundurus, and I used Taunt on this turn when I should have attacked. Doing so would mean Thundurus would burn its first sleep turn immediately. Instead, it was asleep for three turns, a big reason why I lost this set.

Week 6: DonVGC, Lilycove Cruisers (2-1W)

His team: kangaskhan-megavolcaronalandorus-therianthundurussylveonmilotic
My team: kangaskhan-megaclefairylandorus-therianthundurusaegislashheatran

Juan Naar (or “Don” as he’s known on the forums) is wildly considered the best player from South America. I met him in Boston and we had a casual battle after day 2. No battle videos unfortunately, as I forgot to save them and I DCd at the end of game 2 as I KOed his last Pokemon. Other than that, nothing too eventful happened in the first two games. In game 3 I lost my Kangaskhan on turn 1 because he Hyper Beamed it with Sylveon. I manage to down his Kangaskhan soon after, and Rock Slide proved its worth in the next few turns. My Landorus was faster than his and he mistakenly locked himself into Rock Slide instead of choosing to KO Heatran with Superpower. This bought me enough turns to chip away at Sylveon without it ever attacking again because of some timely crits and flinches made possible by a faster Rock Slide. I was then up 3-1 with Landorus / Heatran / Clefairy vs his +1 Special Defense Milotic. I probably would have lost this game if he just chose to keep using Recover as Landorus continuously weakened itself with Superpower, but he chose to attack, and I was able to win a close game.

Week 7: Lajo, Shalour City Rollers (2-1L)

His team: mawile-megamilotic
My team: kangaskhan-megaamoongussheatranlandorus-therianthundurus

Lajo, the only non Japanese player who made top cut of worlds this year. I was definitely looking forward to playing this set! I was given the team the night before because I didn’t want to use Gardevoir. I felt that despite having never used the six Pokemon together, I’ve used them all individually before and would be familiar enough with how it functioned; the team itself was fine as I also used it to get top 4 at a PC later in the day, but I lost due to some key turns where I got outplayed in game 1, and made mistakes with Amoonguss and Heatran. In game 3 I failed to adapt in a BO3, because due to the fact that people have a tendency to change their Pokemon selections after they lose, my opponent would likely bring one or both of Malamar and Hydreigon (he brought both). Even though the 4v4 matchup was fairly neutral, I should have brought Azumarill, and while it wasn’t a perfect solution because my opponent also had Mawile / Trevenant, it would have given me a better chance than what I actually brought. I then lost because of some strong reads from my opponent. I lost to some pretty weird Pokemon but this set was a lot of fun.

Week 8: pball0010, Viridian Forest Hornets (2-0W)

His team: kangaskhan-megavolcaronaamoongussaegislashlandorus-therianthundurus
My team: politoedludicologothitellemawile-megalandorus-therian

Game 1: FM2W-WWWW-WW2T-5P4P
Game 2: RMZW-WWWW-WW2T-5RS2

Strange team decisions can happen in a tournament like the NPA: Pat had tried to counter team my Gardevoir team from worlds / nationals, whereas I tried to counter team Charizard archetypes that he’s been using for much of the season. In the end, despite some less than perfect playing from my end, I managed to take a clean set because I wound up having a good matchup.

Week 9: Chuppa, Fortree Brave Birds (2-0L)

His team: kangaskhan-megalandorus-therianaegislash
My team: politoedludicologothitellemawile-megalandorus-therian

This set was supposed to be a featured match, meaning it would be uploaded to NuggetBridge’s YouTube, but Chuppa and I neglected to save the battle videos, so there are no battle videos. Thankfully, too, as I played this set incredibly poorly. As in, nothing I did made any sense. On turn 1 of game 1, I went for a Helping Hand + Sacred Fire play onto his Aegislash and was surprised when it didn’t even come close to OHKOing. This was because he led Landorus, and I didn’t realize my Entei was intimidated… then, when I was up 4-2 in game 2, I forgot Trick Room was still up and I could have outright won if I just used Perish Song and stalled out the three turns, as he could no longer switch. There are normal mistakes you make in your games, but these two were inexplicable oversights. I hadn’t been playing very much Pokemon and my rust really showed in this set. It was an embarrassingly bad loss.

Week 10: Henrique, Celestic Stars (2-1W)

His team: salamence-megaaegislashamoonguss
My team: gardevoir-megaamoongussheatranscraftylandorus-therianthundurus

Game 1: 6GDW-WWWW-WW2V-LRE3
Game 2: RSWG-WWWW-WW2V-LREZ
Game 3: EB3W-WWWW-WW2V-LRFJ

My opponent was Markus Liu, who was a worlds semi finalist in 2014. This set is another example of why you don’t necessarily need to make changes in a BO3. I led Gardevoir + Thundurus with Heatran and Amoonguss in the back in all three games. While this was probably predictable as soon as he saw my leads in game 2, it doesn’t necessarily mean he had an appropriate response to my plan. His team was fairly weak to Thundurus and he continuously double targeted it. In game 1 I had some difficulty learning was his Raikou’s set was; I could have KOed his Taunted Aegislash with Hyper Voice + Thunderbolt, but fearing a Snarl from his Raikou, I chose to play differently. I go on to lose the game. Games 2 and 3 I won the game thanks in large part to reading the first turn perfectly. I almost choked away game 3 with some silly mistakes but thankfully the early advantage allowed me to win the set.

Week 11: MrEobo, Mistraltron Jets (2-0L)

His team: kangaskhan-megaamoongussheatranlandorus-therianthundurus
My team: politoedludicologothitellemawile-megathundurus

Fairly uneventful set. It was a mistake for me to use the team I did considering I had so little practice with it, and that Mawile teams tend to require a fair bit of skill and familiarity to use effectively, and I paid for it. I don’t think I brought the right Pokemon in these two games either, as Entei is a Pokemon that gives staight forward Kangaskhan centric teams fits, but I never brought it. I had enough outs vs Azumarill, I thought, but my opponent outplayed me and I ironically fell victim to my favorite Pokemon.

Quarter Finals: Tman, Celestic Stars (2-1W)

His team: kangaskhan-megaaegislashthundurus
My team: kangaskhan-megaheatranamoongusslandorus-therian

http://www.twitch.tv/tmanvgc/v/24024940

Looking back, I’m not exactly sure why I decided to use CHALK this week, as I knew my opponent was going to be using Azumarill, a Pokemon that gives CHALK nightmares. I had been practising with CHALK in the days leading up to this game but I should have been prepared better for this matchup. The set was very close, and it came down to the very end of game 3, but there wasn’t anything too fancy that happened. I brought Hydreigon in game 1 and game 2 because I feared Aegislash, which my opponent never brought, and Hydreigon did nothing but fall victim to double Fairies. I left it behind for game 3 and won a nerve racking set to give the Cones a 1-0 lead over the Stars.

Unfortunately the Cones couldn’t pull through as we lost 4-3 to the Stars and were eliminated from the NPA, in large part because our best performer amr97 Namuko Pro (day 2 worlds competitor Alec Rubin) had his Swampertite mysteriously devoured or something, but alas, the NPA was a fun tournament. We made it to the playoffs after missing out last season and I got to play a number of high level players. Maybe next year!

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