There are many ways to play competitive Pokemon, and each format has its own group of top players. These groups usually don't cross paths, but YouTubers created an online league to remedy that. Last weekend, two elite trainers from the singles community took on their "doubles" counterparts in a clash of the titans.
Joey "pokéaimMD" and "Lord Emvee" both have a respectable list of tournament wins and moments at the top of online ladders as singles players. Meanwhile, Wolfe Glick and Markus Stadter are both world-class doubles players who compete in the official tournament series, the Pokemon Video Game Championship. The former is the 2016 world champion while the latter finished third.
Both pairs also happen to be best friends who joined the Multi-Battle League to stake their claim in a lesser-played competitive format. (Disclosure: I am an analyst for this league, meaning I participate in round-table discussions of the league and weekly match previews.) Unlike singles, players fight with two Pokemon on the field at a time in a multi-battle. Yet, unlike the doubles format, each side splits control of their team among two trainers. This forces players to, among other things, come to agreements on team-building and in-game decisions.
To top it off, each of the 12 teams involved in the league drafted 10 Pokemon at the start of the season and must pick six to bring to each battle. This set-up lets players directly counter-team each other in a way that is impossible in normal competition, where being prepared for a wide-array of popular teams is crucial.
In this match, Team Not Scald (Joey and Emvee) brought Buzzwole, Malamar, Mega Garchomp, Arcanine, Lickilicky and Suicune against Team Dream Ball's (Wolfe and Markus) Tapu Fini, Zapdos, Heatran, Zygarde, Bronzong and Scrafty. You can watch the showdown below:
The battle started on relatively even ground, with both teams trading massive damage right out of the gate. Team Not Scald (Joey and Emvee) lost their Malamar early, but Team Dream Ball (Glick and Stadter) lost their Zapdos soon after. Both teams then demonstrated their predictive abilities and mastery of Pokemon as they tried to put themselves in an advantageous position.
Eventually, Team Dream Ball was able to safely boost their Zygarde's Attack and Speed stats with a Dragon Dance in the face of Not Scald's threatening Buzzwole. With the Ultra Beast's four-times-super-effective Ice Punch and the ability to resist Zygarde's ground type attacks, Dream Ball had to slowly weaken its damage output with Scrafty's Intimidate ability to stay alive.
But, just when Zygarde was poised to go on a rampage through much of Not Scald's team, Buzzwole stopped it in its tracks with a 10 per cent chance to freeze. Stuck repeatedly on the wrong side of a 20 per cent chance to unthaw, Team Dream Ball lost a great deal of the offensive pressure they were using to keep Not Scald on the ropes.
From there, both teams took turns getting knockouts until it Dream Ball eliminated all the Pokemon on one side of the opponent's field. With their Bronzong and Heatran in a 2v1 against the Buzzwole that caused their team so much trouble, it seemed as if Dream Ball still had a shot. All Glick and Stadter had to do was bait an attack from Buzzwole into Heatran's Protect and then take the muscle-mosquito down with a super-effective Zen-Headbutt from Bronzong. At that point, they could do their best to double team the Suicune team Not Scald still had in the back.
Not Scald knew better though, and used their own Protect to give themselves a chance to knockout Heatran the next turn. After their plan didn't pan out, Dream Ball failed to get the double-protect (a 1/3 chance) and the game turned into a 1v1. To make matters worse, Bronzong also missed its 90 per cent accurate counter-attack, meaning Buzzwole had a chance to do one last chunk of damage before it fainted. With a full health Suicune against a heavily damaged Bronzong, Team Not Scald just had to spam Scald until their win was sealed.
Now, it's hard to say what would have happened without both the freeze and the Zen Headbutt miss, but that's the nature of Pokemon. Either way, team Not Scald gets to go into week two with some confidence and team Dream Ball will look to bounce back from a close loss.
To keep up with the rest of their battles and to catch the other five games from week one, here is a link to the official MBL YouTube channel.