PvP Feature – The Specialist Cup

This week, Friday Night Fights will feature battles in the Specialist Cup. So before the action happens this week, we’re going to take a little time to talk to the man who created the Specialist Cup and get the details on how it works.

Just what the doctor ordered

The Specialist Cup is the brainchild of mrdoctorpants.* I reached out to him to get the history on this cup and talk about its future.

Q: First, tell us a little bit about yourself and your interest in PvP.

mrdoctorpants: I got back into Pokémon GO when PvP was released so I redownloaded the game. We had a pretty strong local scene in Silph Season 1. It was great to get that higher level of competition right off the bat. I live near Chicago, so when GO Fest came around, I was able to go up there and play in several 7 round Rainbow Cups. I saw the sheer scale of the PvP scene. Since then I’ve been working on fully understanding the mechanics in the game and doing what I can to help the game progress as a competitive PvP game.

Q: We will break down the details of the Specialist Cup below but give us a brief description of what it is.  

mrdoctorpants: Players start by choosing a class, similar to a Trainer class you would see in the main series games. Each class is granted a different set of typings to use in their team building, with a few small extra limitations. There are 8 classes total – each fits a different play style. Each class is allowed 3 typings and each has one unique banned pokemon. This allows each Trainer to build a unique team to try and lean into their class’s strengths while covering its weaknesses.

Q:  What inspired you to create a new format like this? What was the process for figuring it all out?

mrdoctorpants:  I’ve always enjoyed playing competitive games, so when PvP came out this was something I knew I wanted to be a part of. The big issue with PvP, though, is that there’s a significant lack of mechanics. This is why the Silph Arena created a show 6 pick 3 format with restricted metas. This adds a whole new layer of skill to the game that the basic mechanics don’t always allow for. Silph metas can be hit-or-miss, so I wanted to create a format in which each battle would be unique and add as much skill to the game as possible. 

The class system was made to prevent each player from having the exact same team. It was based on the idea of each trainer specializing in a type, like gym leaders, but changed to be more thematic and allow you to cover your weaknesses instead of running 6 pokemon all with one type. Hopefully my team and I can continue to find ways to provide players with high skill based tournaments and show people that PvP can be more than just Azumarill, G-Fisk, and Altaria.

Q: How do the tournaments work?

mrdoctorpants: There are many formats for tournaments right now. The most common format is the general Silph style. You choose a class, then lock in a team of six exactly as you would in a Silph tournament. For the season finals, and more competitive tournaments, we have a draft format that’s similar to games such as League of Legends. In this format players take turns banning classes until each has banned 2 classes. From there, one player gets first pick of the remaining classes and the other player gets a counter pick. The last step is that each player gets to ban 3 pokemon and then they get 10 minutes to build teams with what is left available to them. The trainers play best of 3 with a show 6 pick 3 format.

Q: How can someone get involved? 

mrdoctorpants: Our tournaments and season schedule is run through a discord. It’s open to everyone. We’ve also partnered with a few other discords to host flash tournaments and produce content.

Q: How can someone watch the matches? 

mrdoctorpants: Right now we only have one tournament produced. We do most of our production with Team Rocket PvP, so check out their Youtube and Twitch channels to see the Season 1 Finals!

Q: How do you see this growing? Will this cup continue to evolve or will you add new formats to the series?

mrdoctopants: We’ve just started our second season and we do plan on continuing and evolving the meta. As it takes a while to understand and learn the meta, we’ll be keeping the first set of classes around for this season and possibly a third so that more players get a chance to play the original set. Besides new classes, we’ll also be introducing new formats and mini events throughout the season to provide players with both competitive and casual ways to play the Specialist Cup.

Q: What has been the most surprising thing about pulling all of this together?  The most challenging?

mrdoctopants: Surprisingly the first set of classes required very little work to help balance them. I created each group of 3 typings to cover each other’s weaknesses. Though, I feared that one class would be overpowering in the meta. After a few tweaks to add extra coverage to the weaker classes, everything more or less fixed itself. Each class has shown up strong in tournaments, even the ones people initially thought wouldn’t be playable. 

The hardest part is definitely maintaining the discord. It’s currently set up very similar to the GO Stadium server and works as a game client for the format.

Q: Which class do you think is the strongest?

mrdoctopants: Surprisingly, when I first posted this on Reddit to get feedback, everyone thought that a different class was overpowered. Warlord was really popular at first but now it’s widely considered by the player base to be the weakest class. Personally, I like Rogue the best, but each class speaks to a different play style. Currently, Beauty and Scientist are the most popular in the open Silph format.

* Not a doctor.

During a normal, Silph style tournament, each Battler will pick one of the following classes to build their team. No Mythicals or Legendaries are allowed in any Class. They will play with the same team for each round of the tournament.
Ace Trainer Fire Type Grass Type Water Type
Banned Pokémon: Azumarill Azumarill
Beauty Fairy Type Water Type Flying Type
Banned Pokémon: Skarmory Skarmory
Hiker Rock Type Fighting Type Ground Type
Banned Pokémon: Swampert Swampert
Mystic Ghost Type Psychic Type Dark Type
Banned Pokémon: Umbreon Umbreon
Ranger Flying Type Bug Type Grass Type
Banned Pokémon: Drifblim Drifblim
Rogue Dark Type Poison Type Ice Type
Banned Pokémon: Scrafty Scrafty
Scientist Normal Type Electric Type Steel Type
Banned Pokémon: Galarian Stunfisk Galarian Stunfisk
Warlord Dragon Type Normal Type Fire Type
Banned Pokémon: Munchlax Munchlax

The battles this week are a mixture of all this cup has to offer. You will see a 5 Battler team challenge – one Battler from each team plays 3 matches against one Battler from the other team. Each win counts as 1 point for the team. The team at the end with the most points wins the challenge.

Most weeks these team challenges are the kind of draft style where each team picks 5 Pokémon that neither team can use and then a Pokémon can only be used by one Battler on each team.

Drafts work differently in the Specialist Cup. The draft occurs between a pair of Battlers facing each other each round. Each Battler bans 2 Classes and then selects the Class they will use from the ones left. Then each Battler bans 3 individual Pokémon that neither of them can use (in addition to the 1 Pokémon banned in each Class). Here’s the kicker: after all the bans are made, each Battler only has 10 minutes to figure out what Pokémon they are going to use on their team. This is for true Specialists! 

This week features battles between teams QwillOfTheHill and The Under Ducks. You will have to tune in to see what teams each Battler chose but here are the bans per match.

TrainerBanned ClassesSelected Class
BukkAce Trainer
TrainerBanned ClassesSelected Class
Ace Trainer
TrainerBanned ClassesSelected Class
Ace Trainer
TrainerBanned ClassesSelected Class
LaminateStasisAce Trainer
Banned Pokemon – LaminateStasis
Banned Pokemon – ScamLocust
TrainerBanned ClassesSelected Class
Ace Trainer

Where and When to Watch the Battles

Tune in to the TeamRocketPvP Twitch channel on Friday, February 5th at 7 pm PST to see the battles.

A few days after the event has been broadcast, you can find the video on TeamRocketAcademy’s YouTube channel, along with other Friday Night Fights and PvP content.

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"Gatherer of facts." I love knowing stuff. I love redistributing that knowledge.

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