Hello Hat Lovers!
Today I’m going to talk about the animosity some players have against the 2016 format. Every year it seems we hear players saying “this is the worst format ever” while using lines like “there’s no creativity” or “every team is the same”. What seems to separate this year from previous formats is that we’re hearing this not just from bad players, but we’ve been seeing some major criticism on the format from highly accomplished and respected players.
Groudon and Kyogre are two of the best Pokemon in the format and it’ll be rare to see teams doing well without one of the two. Both of these Pokemon share the same base speed stat and thus speed ties will be a common occurrence. This is a fair complaint; there have always been speed ties between popular Pokemon but now you are almost guaranteed to face a potential speed tie every round. While speed ties are common that doesn’t mean we have to let games be decided by them. Speed control is an important aspect of VGC, and you can always EV your Groudon to survive attacks from other Groudon. You could also build your teams such that you aren’t reliant on your Groudon/Kyogre to beat opposing Groudon/Kyogre.
Groudon and Kyogre gained new signature moves in ORAS, Precipice Blades and Origin Pulse, respectively. Both of these moves carry a 85% accuracy rating. Using these moves adds another element of luck into battles. Kyogre can mitigate this by using Water Spout so that you only need to risk missing when your HP is low. Groudon either has to go special/mixed and use Earth Power for a reliable STAB or be partnered with a Gravity user like Cresselia or Sableye.
Another aspect of the RNG is Smeargle, which brings both Dark Void and Moody to the table. I’ll restate my opinion on Dark Void: It absolutely should be banned because there is no positive merit to keeping it around. At the same time it doesn’t ruin the game and it’s probably not getting banned unless it dominates Winter Regionals so we have to deal with it.
In my experience playing Smeargle you don’t actually use Dark Void that often. Fake Out & Follow Me are Smeargle’s bread and butter while Dark Void’s value is in the threat that the opponent has to respect. Moody can win games on its own; there honestly isn’t a lot that can be done about that. Its worth noting that in the mirror between the standard six Smeargle is almost always left behind.
I’ve never understood people who say things like “this format is boring, every team is the same”. Showdown and Battle Spot have shown me that no matter what the format is like if you’re at the lower ranks you will face a wide variety of teams, so the people saying this shouldn’t have any trouble finding a variety of teams to lose to. If you’re only facing one type of team then you have a clear goal of what you need to beat, and if you are doing well enough that you only see that one team hopefully you’re good enough to counter it.
In the TCG there were often formats where one deck was the strongest and we got a balance of that deck, counter decks and everything else. While there are fewer viable archetypes these formats are often regarded as some of the most skill intensive formats (so long as the mirror had a fair amount of player interaction and wasn’t just a spaghetti race).
So if you’re tired of seeing the same team dominating a format, counter the crap out of it. No one gets bored of VGC because they win too much (with the possible exception of Ray Rizzo, but he had to win worlds three times before that happened). Perhaps the people complaining about the lack of variety are more interested in spectating matches than playing, but I found that watching the worlds top cut matches last year to be really exciting despite having teams that were so similar on the surface.
Remember Last Year?
While the RNG does play a big role this format is it that different from last format? Remember we just left a format where ~50% of teams were using Thundurus and Landorus. I honestly think the RNGenies brought more luck to the table than Smeargle and Primals do.
Thundurus spamming Thunder Wave and Swagger is actually harder to stop than Smeargle. If the Thundurus player is in a pinch they always have the option to use Swagger to give them a 45% chance of winning. Thunder Wave let them stack the odds and it never wore off so it put in even more work during a long game. I’ve found Smeargle to be more manageable than Thundurus. Prankster makes stopping Thunder Wave and Swagger a lot harder. Thundurus was also somewhat difficult to OHKO. Prankster Swagger users are still fairly common, but they’re significantly less prevalent than Swagger Thundurus was last year.
How many games did you win/lose last year because of Landorus getting Rock Slide flinches? Tell me how often you see Rock Slide nowadays? The only relevant Pokemon that Rock Slide is good against are Ho-Oh and Talonflame. Against everything else Rock Slide does such piddly damage that it isn’t worth using over another move. The Pokemon that use Rock Slide also aren’t as fast as in previous formats. At best Groudon needs to win a speed tie, hit with Rock Slide and get the flinch in order for it to be worthwhile. Other Pokemon that can get Rock Slide like Landorus and Terrakion aren’t great this year.
Speed ties and inaccurate moves were still a thing last year. The greater variety of teams available and the tendency to not run full speed investment meant speed ties weren’t as common but you still had to worry about how your Kangaskhan/Thundurus/Heatran would fair in the mirror. We also saw a lot of inaccurate moves used, though we generally settled for 90% accuracy rather than 85%. Taking a step back to look at it I would say 2016 is actually better in the RNG department than 2015 was. RNG will always be part of the game but the best players will find a way to rise above it.
This format isn’t perfect, and many of the complaints towards it are valid. At the same time, to say it is significantly worse than previous formats seems unfair to me. We’re still going to see the consistent players from previous years do well. We’re going to have random players do well, but that happens every year (we were all that random player that came out of nowhere at one point). There will be games that are won off of speed ties and Smeargle RNG, but according to Twitter no one ever lost a game last year with a critical hit/flinch/Swagger to explain it.
So can we all stop complaining about how this format is so boring and luck based?