Saturday, 21 February 2015

[VG] Greninja: Love It or Hate It

(Artist: frostystar)

What in the hell, two articles on here within one week, really? Jesus fucking Christ, what am I doing with my life!? Well, this is literally what spontaneous writing and spontaneous writing only does for you.

Anyway, this one... It's a rant for sure, but I better try to keep serious for the most part because serious intentions actually are what laid the foundation to this happening to begin with. As the title says, it's about Greninja. As the title says, some love it. As the title says, some hate it. Where put me into those groups? You probably know very well from my tone, oh sure you do...

The Back-Story

It all started with that fateful encounterround 1 match of my most recent Premier Challenge. I had to play this new girl to the VGC scene who had just thrown away all she'd done before thanks to taking a trip to our beloved Nugget Bridge -- and in turn, this was no easy matchup at all, just like all others nowadays. (On the off-chance that you're actually reading this somehow, dear Miss-you-who-played-me, you better brace yourself, maybe. I don't know you well enough yet to tell whether you will get through this thing just fine or whether you'll throw up your precious meal from last Christmas and then devour it again at the sight of my gibberish. But please do try not to hate me for what I'm gonna do now, haha.)

What she ended up using was a Charizard Y + Greninja lead, Scarf Garchomp in the back and some more annoying stuff to round it all out but less relevant to the topic. Right when I saw that lead alone, I basically was like: "fuck, I can't beat that -- at least not the legit way". Fortunately, I had Hypnosis in the fourth moveslot of my own Choice Scarf Milotic. Fortunately, it hit the Charizard. Fortunately, her lack of experience kept her from exactly understanding what the fuck I was gonna do, and so I was able to dismantle that troublesome combination roughly in a manner comparable to how someone with Parkinson's would cut onions. Fun times, fun times... And even after that it still became a very close game, because all that flinchbot Garchomp would have needed to screw me over for good would have been: one flinch, one single flinch. (Man, I actually wonder if this one game was to blame for me fucking up the whole tournament, or if I was completely out of it that day regardless. I will know whenever I next have a disgusting start into a tourney, I guess. Hey wait, that one I actually had! BisaBoard Winter Open literally had me lose with a Rock Slide weak team against Rock Slide in the very first game, and then I felt shit all fucking day, even though I made the cut this time at least. Oh how I hate first games really, they're like always so awkward, literally always...)

Back to topic, pal. That matchup, or more like, that combination totally wouldn't exit my system for weeks to come. Yes, we did see that combination in early 2014. Yes, we quickly learned in 2014 that this combination was absolute shit. Yes, we had to accept that this Ashton guy somehow made this shit work anyway (should call him Ash, for the real one does have Charizard and Froakie+ and also had a Gible, you know). Yes, we... something. Change we can (at least try to) believe in, maybe!? (Oh you...) It made sense on paper, really! Charizard fears Rock Slide users and fast Electric/Flying types, and Rock Slide users and fast Electric/Flying types fear Greninja. Easiest synergy in the book. Also replace Garchomp with Landorus because that's how this format works, and Landozard basically is the better Charchomp now. With the intention to drop my Togekiss/Excadrill team for good, I got into that (possibly) creative phase where I'd like cough up more team drafts than take shits in total, and maybe some of them wouldn't even be...shit, I guess!?

Quick Team-Building and Practice Run-Down

Charizard the obvious. Greninja with Life Orb for the OHKOs on weakness. Landorus with Scarf because fuck using a more skill-based Landorus in a team that I so have no clue about at all (there's a chance I'm actually regretting that decision now, but later more on that). Then I also added Sash Bisharp, and sadly I can't even remember what its purpose was. (But sure looks good next to Greninja, only the Talonflame'd be missing to make the trifecta of super dumb single-target sissies complete. Fun fact, I actually got bodied HARD by that trio during my practice. Couldn't handle their freaking battle-analyzer-style reads, that is all.) So yeah, might get rid of that in a next draft I might possibly make. I do have an idea actually, but I do understand it's quite far out there, lol... Next thing I added anyway was Amoonguss because Trick Room matchup yet again was shit, what else. It's really hard to do something different when you don't have experience playing that matchup with the team, please bear with me... And to finally complete the team I took Terrakion: for helping with Kang and possibly also cheesing some games out with RNG Slide. (At least I did have some experience using both Landorus and Terrakion at the same time. This is the kind of stuff that we all want to cry over...)

With that I went onto Showdown. It was pretty close to the worst ever. Even to the extent that while my other Landorus/Terrakion team the day before went entirely undefeated, this one took the piss and won almost none at all, and I feel like it wasn't even my fault playing-wise for the most part. Basically, everyone I played had some effective/efficient/whatever form of Speed control, while I was relying on stuff like natural Speed, Scarf, priority and redirection and all with frail mons. Of course this couldn't go too well, dude! They get Tailwind up, they steamroll me. They get Trick Room up, they steamroll me and Amoonguss can't do everything alone. They spread Thunder Waves and I get fucked by FPs or at least get rewarded with clinically dead slots for the future. Ugh. What even was I thinking... This kind of team really doesn't cut it without some serious ass momentum control.

So does this mean that the Charizard/Greninja/Landorus core by itself is trash already? I'm not sure, but I want to assume it's not as bad as it turned out for me in general. Gotta figure it out somehow to actually prove it though. It seems feasible, because again, the Landozard thing is defensively viable, that much we know for sure. Could always heave up a solid core with them and then add Grenny as the sixth mon or so, if you really don't want something else in that slot by then.

Special shoutout goes to Shiloh now for, well, top cutting St. Louis with the only Greninja. I very much assume her team is better than my unloving draft. I do hope for her that this Thundurus is defensive though, because, you know, if that's offensive as well, we're looking at a team with 4 fast mons and some-powers-of-that different ways to lose positions way too easily. Dedicated fast mode only works when you're feeling lucky, man, and it's so not for the faint of heart.

Why I Hate Greninja

It can't switch in. It simply can't. If you want to get it in safely, something has to die most of the time. Bulky Waters and Cresselia pretty much are the only mons Greninja could theoretically switch into, but of those Greninja has to fear even worse things than just to get hit.

And this brings me to the bigger thing: Speed control and its implications. If the other side goes for it, Greninja is so fucked, and in the worst case all of its team with it. Fast moding your way through everyone and everything doesn't work at a proper level of play, which can in fact generally be assumed for pretty much any match by now even, so some really solid team building is needed if you don't want to grow older at tenfold pace.

And to top it all off, we have our beloved Item syndrome, if you will. One could think that you could just run Focus Sash to help with the previous issues to the extent that your opponent has to put extra resources towards getting rid of Greninja. Sadly not this easy, sadly not. The first disadvantage, naturally, is that you're losing a crucial share of damage dealt, including OHKOs. The next one isn't hard either: When they get to move before Greninja and have a multi-target move, they don't even need to double-target in order to get rid of it, and so Greninja's partner totally isn't safe even for that one turn.

You could say, Sash Greninja sort of is a poor man's Gengar, and I can't say I'd disagree with this. The truth is, I hate non-Mega Gengar as well. I think it's an utter disgrace to team building with its zero-ish defensive contributions whatsoever and its only purpose to cripple something and then go down most of the time. But it speaks for Gengar that it can at least do exactly that; it has a pretty good support movepool and the typing/Ability at least give it a plethora of resistances and immunities up to the level of totally walling the likes of Kangaskhan just by standing there doing nothing. Greninja simply can't do that, it just does some kind of damage and then dies when you blow it early. If anything, Greninja has the potential to be quite a sweet endgame mon, but that's far from trivial too -- it means you'd essentially be limiting yourself to play with theoretically only 3 mons available at any time, and then you can still be forced to bring it into bad momentum and simply lose from that.

One more thing. I also hate Greninja because it's annoying to play against. At least on those days when I'm using rather offensive teams, like at that Premier Challenge I mentioned. If you're hiding your ass behind Cresselia, Venusaur, Aegislash, Ferrothorn or what have you, you'll probably not have to worry much about facing Greninja. But Gengar, yet again, has the potential to be annoying almost always, being less limited in what it can do.

Wrapping Up (No Presents)

I tried! I tried to make Greninja work and got let down hard. In case I'll try again and actually make it work that time, you'll probably hear of it as well, but if not, then it likely has all been in this article already. To take it all with a grain of salt in the larger picture, there will still always be those few people who actually are happy with Greninja, and possibly even one or two who definitely aren't beginners. You know, if yoloing absolutely everything is exactly your thing, Greninja is your mon -- easy as that. What independently from that also can be said, is that Greninja mostly is only as strong as the stuff you're pairing it up with. Live and die by good positions and succeed in maintaining them -- that is the whole mystery unraveled, pretty much.

So that's it for today. I wouldn't be too surprised if I told most of you nothing new, but maybe it was at least some kind of entertaining. Next article will probably be (way) longer than a week away now, because I've got some stuff to do again. Instead, my Report on Nugget Bridge should soon be up, so you can look forward to that. (Oh yeah, and if you-who-unsuspectingly-caused-me-all-of-this have actually been reading through this but are not disgusted, please say hi. Having no Internet handle sucks, and I already hated how I physically couldn't talk to you when you tried to Battle me on the game while I was in a tournament last Sunday, lol.)

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