Smogon Snake Draft IV - Semifinals

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talah

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tbh these are my more my thoughts on how each game should go on paper, which is slightly different than a predict? i don't expect these to be 100% accurate after the week ends (i hope they are!), but just want this post have some substance and be an enjoyable read more than anything else (it was fun to write, at least). anyway,

OU: beatiful vs Regnite:

both players are breakouts (at least in CGOU), and both of them have showed decent things. i think bea's showed a higher ceiling, as well as a lot of fearlessness, although maybe a bit too much sometimes; he's got the guts to click and tends to trust them a lot. he had a pretty decent showing in OLT, although I think his snake has overall been a lot better, and seeing as this is snake, i want to judge mostly off that. regnite's played fine, but i haven't been loving his play. like, he's had a few solid moments, but he made some crucial mistakes in his game vs Raiza, as well as his game vs Hantsuki. they're pretty easy to recognize though, and very fixable, so i hope he has a better showing this week. that said, i think this is gonna be decided in the builder more than anything, and if it's a neutral matchup i'd say bea takes it. i'm more often a fan of the teams bea uses than not, and i think the lindworms are a very solid building bunch, so i'm definitely giving him the edge there.

OU: Garay oak vs Ima: garays showcased some solid play, cool ideas, and pretty good execution on them, but he's had one of the toughest schedules this snake. with an easier schedule he'd probably be sporting the same record as ima, and i think he's hungry to prove he's good at CGOU too. ima on the other hand, is en route to the Prophecy, and he's gonna do anything in his power to revel in the 8-3 glory. he's one of the best clickers in the tour, but his clicking status as well as his tendency to bring teams that only close matchup holes by outplaying 20 turns in a row (which he has done before, multiple times i might add) can mean he can lose or win vs anyone. he's always a joy to watch, and i expect him to ramp it up for playoffs. honestly no fucking clue who will have matchup here, but if it's garay, i think think he's gonna have to play better than he's played so far to win. probably my most anticipated game of the 4, looking forward to it.

OU: Jytcampbell vs Sacri': i expect sacri to win, but i do think it's gonna be a closer game than most think, and i definitely think jyt's got a decent shot at winning; his record should be better with neutral luck, and he's played consistently well over the tour. sacri, however, has had a much more skill-affirming tour in my eyes. he's showcased one of the highest ceilings in the tour, and i think he's gonna be motivated to win again. jyt and sacri tend to play very similar styles team-wise, and on an even field, i'd trust sacri to take it. he's more experienced in high-pressure situations, and always confident to make the plays that win (or lose, click click). jyt's most solid shot is in the builder; he needs to switch it up team-wise, and i trust the lindworms to make that happen. sacri does tend to have outs for (almost) anything, and i really really don't think game will ever be won purely on matchup. jyt's gotta prove himself in probs the most important game he's played on smogon so far, and hopefully he does!

OU: Eo Ut Mortus vs Robjr: i think eo's the undisputed top dog of this tour, and i'd bold him vs anyone right now. as far as i'm concerned, he's the best metagamer and builder in the tour, which he backs up with consistently great play. rob's a very good player too, but i do think eo's showed a higher level this tour overall, along with just better building than anyone on the nagas. the magician's tricks will not land here(although i am very excited to see what he has under his sleeve), so rob will probably have to rely on outplaying to win. he can do it, he's showed the level and confidence to upset here, and i think this has been his best CGOU tour to date by a very good amount. regardless, i'll put this game as an eo win, and frankly, he just has more ways to go about winning it. i'm trusting him with an edge in both building and playing, and i see this as the least likely upset.

lots of friends playing on both sides here, hoping they play a quality series. in the meantime, GO RATTLERS!!!!!!!!!
 
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Feliburn

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RU Leader
RU predicts for the fans:

Pepeduce vs atomicllamas

These two have similar records in the tour but llamas gives me much more confidence as a builder so I'm gonna predict him to win off that. Playing wise he's a v standard player, never takes unnecessary risks and plays v smart, while Pepeduce has had his ups and downs making plays. If he's playing well then this could be v tricky due to how unpredictable he could be, however if he's playing bad, llamas will snatch the dub cause he's less prone to throwing (unless he uses Poltergeist ROFL love u llamas).


Ajna vs snaga

Ajna has been incredibly solid this tour, using v strong teams that can get him out of almost any situation and playing them v well. snaga hasn't looked too hot but not too bad either, I just think Ajna has the upper hand in both building and playing the tier so there's a big chance we see some cheese type stuff from him here. I still feel confident in Ajna to bring this one home tho.

Regardless, good luck to my peers, hoping to see some fun matches.
 

Finchinator

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OU & NU Leader
To my American friends: remember to vote if you can and have not already done so! Happy election day, stay safe.

To everyone: Wear a mask, please and thank you.

OU: beatiful vs Regnite - beatiful has risen to prominence recently. Amazing STour showings thus far, a deep run into OLT, and now some big wins in Snake. Obviously every newer player is dealing with a small sample size and sometimes I feel bea makes unnecessary plays given his positions in games. However, I feel that he also makes strong plays and good team choices to get into this position to begin with. Regardless of the nitty-gritty details, bea is clearly the stronger of the two here. Regnite is not a bad player, but he is an unproven one and the spotlight is shinning as bright as can be in the playoffs of a trophy team tournament. I think he will ultimately fall short against the hotter hand and slightly more experienced opponent.

OU: Garay oak vs ima - Eo has not had the strongest SSD in OU, in my opinion. ima has. In fact, ima is a dark horse for best OU player of the last 13-14 months. He has taken some pages out of the book of lax, timing his aggression optimally to get a lot out of a smaller number of risks. ima has improved so much in recent times and I feel like this will be a routine victory for him. Yes, Garay has held his own and even beaten some great players while having a daunting schedule overall, but I do not think he is quite up to ima's level. ima just has to avoid being overly predictable and weak to HO and he should be well-off.

OU: Jytcampbell vs Sacri' - The Sac. Sacri' has established himself once more as one of the strongest SS players. I expect him to unleash a strong bulky-offense or balance team here like he normally does after he deviated a bit with some Blissey and HO recently. Jyt is good, but not great. He will use things that are "in" the meta and I do not think that will do much against Sacri', who sticks to his own stuff, that tend to demolish common structures. I favor Sacri' stylistically and as a player overall, but Jyt can sneak a victory in with some timely cheese, if it is not rotten and he pilots it optimally.

OU: Eo Ut Mortus vs robjr - Obligatory bold against Eo.

He is the favorite here though. Eo has been one of the best OU players this generation. Sure, he got a little fortunate against guys like Santu, but you cannot have blind Lindworm luck to get a record like his against the opponents he played. Only Bro Kappa truly outplayed him that much in my eyes. robjr is someone who can play the part, but lacks the metagame insights and teambuilding profile to match-up directly with Eo. So then it comes down to his team support, which is likely Gama. Gama is super hit-or-miss, with some strokes of genius met alongside some nasty defensive holes on occasion. I think that makes this one spicy, but honestly if it were not for my constant bolding of Eo's opponents, I would have to side with mortimer the mighty bagon for this one due to consistency. I will say that rob's record is unfair -- he's been unfortunate.

DOU: umbry vs Tenzai

UU: Poek vs SoulWind - Both are spectacular. SoulWind has proven he is one of the all-around best players, dominating most formats. Poek, on the other hand, has had some strong moments this season himself. I gotta go with the guy who has been doing it more consistently for longer over more formats, but I think team choice could determine a lot here.

RU: Pepeduce vs atomicllamas - Close one though. llamas is sneaky good, but Pepe has had so many on-point tricks up his sleeve this season.

NU: Realistic Waters vs Ren-chon - Seems really hard for Ren-chon to take this one tbh. RW is one of the best and Ren-chon is still struggling in officials I feel.

PU: TJ vs Kink - I wanna bold Kink because I'm salty at TJ for complaining about not getting a roll against me in STour after he threw his win condition early, only to win off of a Toxic miss into a defense drop into a 4 hit Rock Blast -- someone get out the lavos calc pls, but I can't stay salty at this guy when he has been playing mad smooth all tour. For a guy in his debut tournament, he has lived up to any hype thrown his direction and I think he should be proud of that. A positive regular season against a sneaky good PU pool, especially after a shaky start, is pretty impressive. He builds great teams and does not make too many mistakes in recent weeks. Ironically enough though, I do think long games may be his weakness and I wonder if Kink will deviate his approach to cater to something like that. Kink has used more proactive cores historically and even brought Rain earlier this season, so I am not even sure if he is capable of managing a drawn-out contest either. TJ has the better fundamentals and recent track record, so gonna stick with him.

LC: dcae vs Ninjadog

OU: Samqian vs FMG - Samqian vs Raiza was a weird game and I think some mistakes were made, but a win is a win and that's huge for Sam going into his first playoffs. I have been on the hype train for most of the season and do not intend to jump off here either. I think he is capable of rising to the occasion. FMG is good. He is able to win against opponents who do not go above-and-beyond. He will bring a solid team and play without any crippling mistakes, but I think you need to do more than that to beat Samqian if he's at his best. Perhaps Samqian is more mistake prone and has a lower floor here, but his ceiling is higher and I trust him to be at his best when it matters most, especially in a tier he is super familiar and comfortable with like this.

OU: lax vs HANTSUKI - HANTSUKI's wins are kind of weird. I do not think he is bad at all, but I do not rate him super highly yet. lax had a rough second half and his team last week had some pretty big holes imo, but he plays well enough and I also think that win did a lot for his confidence. He's a confidence driven player with a super high ceiling, too, so I think that he will win here. If the Cobras are smart, HANTSUKI will have their best brand of cheese locked-and-loaded to try and tilt lax back down, but I do not think that will be enough, especially with some smart preparations from lax, so I will go with the Rattlers round one pick here.

OU: talah vs mncmt - talah's still more of a metagamer than a starter to me in all honesty. He's not a bad player, but I think the execution part is going to be a challenge for him whereas the prep may come easier. mncmt is a bit erratic with team choices, sometimes forgoing specific things without much clear reason as to why. I feel like he is able to compensate with strong play and avoiding running into these issues a lot, but I give talah an outside shot if he can exploit things enough. If the playing field is level, mncmt is the clear pick. He's had a fantastic year and that is largely because of how well he plays and how timely the risks he has taken have been.

OU: Kebab mlml vs 1 True Lycan - I still am kind of at a loss for what happened with Kebab last week. His team choice was solid, but his execution was all over the place and then he especially crumbled down the stretch, only to get bailed out on numerous occasions. I think his season has been a series of events just slowly falling out of his control in all honesty. I rated him higher in WCOP than I did thus far in Snake. I think playoffs may chang things if some of his old Italian teammates can support, but I am not exactly sure what's going on behind the scenes and am not about to start speculating that for a single prediction. To make it brief, 1TL has looked a lot better and his mistakes have been a lot less costly thus far, so I'll side with the stronger of the two thus far. I will say that 1TL has to be careful with his building approach here though as Italians are dangerous.

DOU: Ezrael vs Qwello Lee

UU: CBU vs Lilburr - CBU got manhandled by Accelgor, but he's a really strong player and will be able to shrug that off. Lilburr is great and even underrated in my eyes, but I think she will struggle with someone like CBU, who I think is more consistent with his builds and less erratic with his play.

RU: Ajna vs snaga - Ajna is locked-in, so it's an automatic bold.

NU: bugzinator vs Sjneider - Earlier on in the season, I'd pick Neider without a doubt, but I think some games have slipped away from him whereas bugzy has been locked-in. This is still a highlight and both are super capable, but bugzy has a great support network and plays the game well each week. Gotta go with him in a tight one.

PU: Vulpix03 vs Xiri - Vulpix03 is underrated imo, but Xiri is still one of the top dogs in PU in my eyes. Has the support, has the plays, and has the killer timezone. Unbeatable trifecta here.

LC: Serene Grace vs Shrug
 
Sky Tower Lindworms (0) vs (0) Lanakila Nagas

OU: beatiful vs Regnite
OU: Garay oak vs Ima
OU: Jytcampbell vs Sacri' - picking the upset but either way this will be funny
OU: Eo Ut Mortus vs Robjr
DOU: Umbry vs Tenzai - ???
UU: Poek vs SoulWind
RU: Pepeduce vs atomicllamas
NU: Realistic Waters vs Ren-chon - both would lose to Eternally, however
PU: TJ vs Kink
LC: dcae vs Ninjadog - he’s looked like absolute fire, I was taken aback a little by how well he’s done. Also ninja lost to me, which makes me think he might falter in the playoffs (sorry had to add that in lol)


Rumble Hall Rattlers (0) vs (0) Celadon City Cobras

OU: Samqian vs FMG
OU: lax vs HANTSUKI
OU: talah vs mncmt
OU: Kebab mlml vs 1 True Lycan
DOU: Ezrael vs Qwello Lee
UU: CBU vs Lilburr
RU: Ajna vs snaga - I’m sorry buddy
NU: bugzinator vs Sjneider
PU: Vulpix03 vs Xiri
LC: Serene Grace vs Shrug
 
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IPF

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Congrats to all the teams that made playoffs! Last week was absolutely dire for me (7/18, 90/165 overall) but we move. No longer having to write 20 predicts a week is blessed so let's get right into it

OU: beatiful vs Regnite - Fresh off an OLT semis appearance and boasting a respectable 3-2 record in addition to a whopping 28 SS points in Stour, bea is easily one of the hottest CG players on the site right now and I'm definitely going to ride the hot hand here
OU: Garay oak vs ima - Some late season stumbles have put 8-3 in jeopardy but ima has definitely been much more dominant this season than Garay, who once again has drawn a difficult matchup this season. He's played well and obviously the hellish schedule has been detrimental to his record but I don't think ima will let anyone get in his way en route to a repeat
OU: Jytcampbell vs Sacri' - From a 3-0 start Jyt slumped back to 4-4 and has generally been pretty average I feel, whereas Sacri has been piloting his balances extremely well all tour. I believe both players have similar floors but Sacri's ceiling is higher, so I believe he'll take this one
OU: Eo Ut Mortus vs robjr - Ridiculously good tour from Eo, predicting against him is simply a mistake. Been extremely creative in the builder while dominating with his play as well, all around he will be favoured here

OU: Samqian vs FMG - FMG hasn't really lived up to his status as a R3 pick with a poorly 2-5 record, but I do believe he can come up clutch here. Sam hasn't been extraordinary either so I'm going to pick the player who's had more experience under pressure, and is also less mistake prone
OU: lax vs HANTSUKI - Very up and down season for lax, but I don't expect him to fuck around now that it's crunch time. He is the better player of the two and has the pedigree to go along with it.
OU: talah vs mncmt - Been a hell of a year for mncmt and definitely has the higher ceiling of the two players. talah has been better than what I initially expected but I do believe he's overmatched here
OU: Kebab mlml vs 1 True Lycan - This is one of the more even matchups to me, Lycan has impressed me more with his play and I've found Kebab to be a bit questionable with his decision making at times so I'm giving 1TL the edge

Rooting for Cobras because of god Xiri, good luck to everyone!
 

Eo Ut Mortus

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Rumble Hall Rattlers (2) vs (2) Celadon City Cobras

OU: Samqian vs FMG

sam has taken on a wider breadth of playstyles than FMG this tour, including both stall and hyper offense. Granted, he's looked better on the things in between, but this experimentation should pay off for him now; heading into playoffs, he and the Rattlers will have a clearer idea of what best suits him or how he can improve upon what he's already used. In contrast, FMG hasn't deviated from his trademark balances, and on top of that, the cruel taskmaster snaga deprived him of two weeks of play after he switched a Weezing out of a Tangrowth. Now, FMG could be poised for a resurgence if he spent those two weeks soul-searching and experienced a metagame epiphany, but if I had to bet, he was boarding a flight to wherever Florida-residents retire when he heard he'd be back in for playoffs. That said, it's not like FMG is washed up; he was one missed 40% chance away from beating tama four weeks ago. But what he's shown so far as his comfort zone this tournament has been relatively narrow, and I think sam will exploit that.

OU: lax vs HANTSUKI

This is closer than it might seem at first. HANTSUKI has been quietly active throughout SS, even if this has only shown itself on ladder and as SS support for the Ruiners. But there's still some l2p to be done here, because as recently as last week, HANTSUKI decided Turn 1 AV Reuniclus Knock Off against a potential (and actual) Trick Clefable was the play. lax has been pretty volatile throughout this tournament; I'm getting the impression that he needs a team to have some sort of fun/surprise factor to be interesting enough for him to use, and as we enter the dying throes of this metagame, such an approach becomes more likely to flop than not. I still favor lax, but it's entirely possible that he'll live or die based on what he ends up bringing.

OU: talah vs mncmt

mncmt's last four games have been washes due to one or both players bringing HO. Against me, I think he could've played better, but the other three games were pretty much decided off match-up and maybe one or two early turns. Meanwhile, talah showed his playing chops vs. Vaboh, winning the game off multiple hard reads even in the face of luck; however, he then underwent a complete regression against Tace, letting a Kommo-o ravage his team and eliminate his win condition despite having a useless Primarina available for switch-in. Some might argue that the game was inconsequential, and talah was playing on autopilot, but the same could be argued for mncmt's game against me, so it kind of evens out. My takeaway from this game is that talah might struggle with longterm planning, which could be consequential should this match-up feature HO yet again. I also have to call out his timer not showing past turn 1, but a quick glance through mncmt's games shows that these players are actually both very busy people with places to be. So, in honor of this click-happy match-up, I will spend no more than 30 seconds guessing a winner and bold the name that first springs to mind.

OU: Kebab mlml vs 1 True Lycan

Potentially the most defensive matchup in this series. Both have tended towards some fairly stallish builds in the back half of the season. Both have also been punished for this, by LBP2 and robjr specifically. Those losses illustrate why these types of stalls aren't the most consistent right now; staples like Corviknight and Toxapex don't offer enough complete coverage against the bevy of offensive threats in the metagame and are susceptible to being overloaded. I think it's in both players' best interests to switch it up, and I think Lycan has a better chance of succeeding. He's already shown he's capable, netting a convincing win with the token one-time HO pick. On the other hand, it's difficult to tell what Kebab's bread and butter is; it seems to me that these Zera semi-stalls/balances may have been a push towards greater comfort, earning him a win vs. watashi, but throwing a couple of sweepers into the mix a la last week made everything look a bit shakier. So, for me, there are lingering question marks regarding how good he'll look if he changes it up, but if he sticks to something safe, I expect it'll be punished. The Baron will still have to work for it, but I expect him to win here.
 
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