In the beginning of 2017, I reached #1 in GXE on the ladder but failed to become the #1 ranked player, which was Peasounay at the time (I erroneously thought it was roudolf; he reached #1 at the end of the year, not in the beginning). As I hadn't played any RBY in a long time and was the coach of the Mosdeep Supernovas in PPL, I thought it would be pertinent to play some games on the ladder and see if I could hold my own. One win led to another--before I knew it, I was #1 in GXE once again with a score of 93.5%.
It was brought to my attention by somebody in my discord that ladder reports are few and far between, and that a retrospective of my performance would be of use of others vying to accomplish what I did. Thus I decided to undertake the arduous labor (at times, at least) of analyzing my recent run--hopefully it aids you, my dear readers, in some way.
Team #1 - 1000-1200: Alakazam/Tauros/Snorlax/Exeggutor/Chansey/Lapras
I wasn't totally sure what to expect in terms of current trends, so exploiting the metagame as I'm known for doing was out of the question. My first team was the time tested Zam/Lapras, which is a sound choice if you aren't sure what your adversary will use (marco once told me, "Lapras is the best 6th if you aren't sure what your opponent is gonna bring," during my run in the Global Championship five years ago). In recent times, players have opted to switch out their lead (Alakazam and Starmie) into Chansey to absorb the Thunder Wave, whereas they almost always stayed in prior. This was a change I didn't prepare for, but didn't encounter too much in the early goings here.
More on the team: Lapras made sense for somebody in my position (out of touch and rusty) due to its ability to fight a diverse range of threats, even if it can't reliably beat all of them by itself. Plus, it provides great utility as a secondary sleeper. I went with Counter Snorlax most of the time, as it gave me additional options against the fluctuating playerbase, such as being able to switch into predictable Hyper Beams. In my first game I had Amnesia/Blizzard/Selfdestruct, but I quickly switched to Counter and Earthquake as I felt this handled the largest number of threats.
Unfortunately I only saved one replay with this team during my time between 1000-1200, and that game was unremarkable to say the least. I'll move on.
Team #2 - 1000-1200: Starmie/Tauros/Snorlax/Exeggutor/Chansey/Alakazam
The other team I used in the early going was Starmie/Alakazam, otherwise known as the premiere defensive team. What I felt made this team more appealing than Zam/Lapras was Starmie's secondary function as a sleep blocker, as almost all of my opponents used Thunder Wave on turn 1 (switching out is a move you should only prepare for in tournament play or against somebody you recognize). My Snorlax was Amnesia/Selfdestruct, which helped me manuever past opposing Chanseys as well as pressure the ubiquitous ReflectLax. My Starmie was Blizzard/Thunderbolt; it seems more reliable in this climate than FriendlyMie, as opposing Starmies are a lot more common than Gengar and I felt confident in my ability to overcome Chansey. My Chansey was Seismic Toss/Defense Curl ostensibly to win the stalemate against Reflect Chanseys, but on the ladder, not everybody is entirely familiar with the mechanics, so it's easier to take advantage of the speed boosts gained by using it over Reflect. Alakazam is the 6th to give me additional defense against trappers and reliable paralysis support, especially when Tauros is out.
In this game, my Starmie is able to pressure his own as well as switch in comfortably against Exeggutor on turn 54. AmnesiaLax is able to dispose of Chansey, and Alakazam functions well as the speedy last, neutralizing the threat of Zapdos enough to force the game into a Tauros ditto.
Ideally, your ladder teams will be able to address as many threats as possible, which is another notable strength of Starmie/Zam. Starmie is able to immediately neutralize Victreebel, while Alakazam was at least able to paralyze Zapdos. The majority of ladder players have little knowledge of the tier and just copy/paste teams; unfortunately, many are enamored with trapping teams due to their tendency to allow poor skill to power through superior opposition.
Team #3 - 1200 - 1481: Gengar/Jynx/Rhydon/Tauros/Snorlax/Chansey
Team #4 - 1200 - 1481: Jynx/Gengar/Rhydon/Tauros/Snorlax/Chansey
Every successful ladder player has his or her own philosophy in regard to what kind of teams you should run, how often you should use them, and how many teams you should have. Some swear by using just one or two teams and mastering them, while others rely on using several, if not dozens. My own philosophy is, unsurprisingly, to pay attention to the patterns and trends you see and build accordingly. In my case, I had been seeing Zapdos and Reflect Chansey a lot, so I wanted to build a team with Rhydon; however, the basic Starmie/Rhydon team would not suffice here. In addition to Zapdos I was seeing a fair amount of Jynx, so I wanted a team that would not only wall Zapdos but give me an early advantage. Thus, this anomaly of a team that dropped Exeggutor for a non-lead Jynx was born. The premise is simple: put the opposing Jynx to sleep, and switch out if they lead with Starmie or Alakazam. Alternatively, I could also use Explosion on the Jynx and then switch into mine on the following turn, as Exeggutor and Starmie are the most logical answers to a first-turn double KO. After gaining the early advantage, it was up to my Chansey to spread paralysis—most notably on the opposing Chansey—which would make Rhydon an even bigger threat. Speaking of which, Jynx helps secure momentum for Rhydon by being one of the best answers to Exeggutor thanks to its Psychic typing (Lapras can switch into Psychic but not without its risks, and it hits harder than Starmie). Another odd element of this team is that I decided to run Leer on Rhydon as opposed to Substitute, which helped break through Reflect. As for Snorlax, my moveset was either Harden/Ice Beam or Counter-Hyper Beam/Earthquake/Selfdestruct. The former won stalemates against other Snorlaxen and pressured paralyzed Chansey, whereas the other gave me more opportunities to switch into physical attacks as well as be able to unleash immediate destruction upon coming out. I ended up leaning towards the Counter set a lot more due to it usually being reliable, whereas the Harden set can be borderline useless in certain situations. By this point, I had been primarily running Boltbeam Chansey (Ice Beam/Thunderbolt/Thunder Wave/Softboiled) for similar reasons; that is, overall reliability against being a dud occasionally. Moreover, Boltbeam Chansey gave me better protection against additional threats, namely the trappers, Slowbro, and Starmie.
Facing off against lead Exeggutor is almost like winning the jackpot with this team. As long as Hypnosis doesn't miss, you're in prime position to paralyze the Chansey or even land a second sleep thanks to the skill level of ladder not being the greatest.
In this game, I go for the safe play and use Explosion, land the sleep on Alakazam, and then paralyze Chansey, which result in me securing the victory.
Here I face a random assortment of letters (alt alert) and a lead Starmie--luckily I have Jynx in the back. I'm able to put it to sleep as well as paralyze his Chansey, which help me overcome the trapping team that my adversary copy/pasted from somewhere.
I face a lead Jynx this time, so I explode on it and then bring out my own to gain another early advantage and win comfortably.
That's right, another trapping team, but this time with Toxic Zapdos as the lead. I'm able to land the sleep on Snorlax and win thanks to a lucky Wrap miss. Another useful aspect of this team is that it can combat trapping teams fairly well, which I saw a lot of on the ladder.
Eventually I made Jynx the lead due to its much safer matchups overall (it's only worse if you face off against another Jynx or Gengar), which helped me regain lost ground that I suffered at the hands of terrible RNG and the occasional fair loss. Overall, despite the fact that I did not try to go past 1500 with this team (I came close enough and would have gone past 1500 if not for my streak of bad luck), I'd still stay that Gengar/Jynx can be a deadly combo even in tournament play, as it will likely give you an early advantage against certain teams without needing to rely on superior play.
I put the Starmie to sleep, paralyze his Chansey, and have Rhydon to counter his Zapdos to give me the edge in this tough game. Gengar had to be my sleep bait, as its only other use was exploding if Sleep Powder missed.
Team #5 - 1470/80-1600: Jynx/Tauros/Snorlax/Chansey/Persian/Zapdos
As enamored as I was with the concept of both Gengar and Jynx while dropping Exeggutor, I was having notable issues switching into attacks. Furthermore, only having Chansey as my paralysis spreader compounded this problem, so I decided to change things up yet again, this time opting for a speedy offensive team. Jynx was the lead as it only gave me bad matchups against Gengar, which I wasn’t seeing a lot of, and I was willing to take my chances against an opposing Jynx. Also, putting the Starmie or Alakazam to sleep was a fantastic way to start the game, as both give Persian (and even Zapdos to an extent) trouble.
My gameplan with this team was to take paralysis and put the lead to sleep, try to freeze the incoming Chansey once, then go to mine and fire off Thunder Wave. With both the opposing lead and Chansey paralyzed, this team was in very good position to pull off the victory. I chose Persian in particular because it preys upon Reflect variants of Chansey and can also wreak havoc on many other things, most notably Tauros, which it outspeeds. Zapdos is also here because it is not only an offensive behemoth but also has Thunder Wave at its disposal, which provides assistance to the Normal triumvirate of terror (Tauros, Snorlax, and Persian).
Going into my moveset choices, I primarily ran Boltbeam Chansey to help ward off the trappers and help me dispose of the odd Slowbro, which did end up appearing every now and then. Besides that, I used Seismic Toss/Defense Curl for its stability. I actually ran Counter/Earthquake/Selfdestruct on Snorlax because I felt this moveset never put me at a disadvantage on the ladder due to its immediate power, and Counter let me do things like switch into attacks. I was using Hyper Beam before, but by this point I felt Selfdestruct was the better option because it was better to kill something than wound it.
I play a textbook game with this team: Jynx gets the sleep off, blocks Exeggutor later on, my Chansey comes in to paralyze the opposition, and Snorlax successfully uses Counter on the Tauros.
Things don’t go according to plan in this game—thank goodness I had Zapdos. It fulfilled its other duty as the secondary paralysis spreader exceptionally well here, coming through after my Chansey died early. Persian also demonstrates why it can be a dangerous threat in the current state of RBY. I got lucky at the end, but it also highlights another one of Persian’s valuable assets, that being its obscene Critical Hit ratio of 22.46%.
Another textbook start: land sleep on the first, paralyze the second. Chansey disposes of the rare Slowbro, and then Zapdos once again comes through with Thunder Wave, and then my Tauros seals to win thanks to being Tauros. Had the Hyper Beam on Exeggutor not been a Critical Hit, it still would have been very hard for him to win as I had both Zapdos and Persian at full. Also, depending on the roll, I would have been able to kill it with one Drill Peck after landing the Hyper Beam anyway.
Team #6 - 1470/80-1600: Alakazam/Jynx/Tauros/Snorlax/Chansey/Exeggutor
The other team I used in my ride to 1600 was an odd one. After a quick, cursory glance, everything seems in place—until you notice that I had Jynx in the back and not Alakazam. Doing so allowed me to take advantage of the current trend; that is, switching into Chansey on turn 1. I could respond by also switching into my Jynx and thus gain the early advantage. Also, Jynx being in the back gave me more firepower against Exeggutor, and I could also switch into it to take the Thunder Wave on turn 1 if I wanted to (against an opposing Starmie, for example). Exeggutor finally made its return after a long hiatus due to its bulk and overall reasonable matchups.
Now onto the movesets. I ran Counter on Jynx because I find it more useful on the ladder over Rest, especially because it is often unexpected. Chansey was usually Boltbeam for the same reasons as before, and Exeggutor had Mega Drain to mitigate Starmie’s threat level. Snorlax was still Counter/Earthquake/Selfdestruct—I rather adore this moveset on the ladder.
I knew my opponent's tendencies here, so I decide to switch into Jynx, which ended up paying off, and then I land the lucky freeze for good measure. Jynx then launches a heavy assault on Snorlax before going down, which highlights how destructive it can be overall (sleep + freeze + STAB Blizzards is crippling). Snorlax lands the Counter and I win in a close one.
Anybody who dedicates serious time on the ladder knows how often things can (and will) go wrong—being able to maneuver around bad luck is a must. In this game, I get off to a tragic start but outplay my more inexperienced foe. The timely Critical Hits on Rhydon and Tauros also helped tremendously.
After peaking at 1600 on the dot, I ran into a familiar foe once again in what is the best example of mindgames that I can offer. Sure, I could have gone to Jynx on turn 1, but when you end up facing the same opponents multiple times, it’s easy to second-guess yourself and consider the possibility that they’re onto you. I keep Alakazam in, which was not the ideal move, and eventually the game is lost. I also have to note that my admirable adversary used my own creation against me in his path to victory, that being BeamGore (Hyper Beam Exeggutor).
After falling to adosso, I lost once again and thus decided to pack it in, ending with a high of 1600 and a GXE of 93.8%. I was #4 in the former and #1 on the latter, so I was content to at least reach one of the two mountaintops. I’m also satisfied that I was able to achieve notable success with Persian just like I did in my 2017 run, proving that it’s quite the fearsome foe when used in the right hands.
One final note: I may be scrutinized for using my established account, “Yummy Ice Cream,” towards the end, but I actually fell from 1499 to somewhere between 1470-1480 and then didn’t drop a game until I hit 1600, so I don’t think my achievement is any less significant because I didn’t stick with using “gregarious soul.”
And, well, that’s it. I hope this guide will be of at least some use either on the ladder or in general.
Zam/Lapras bog standard:
Starmie/Zam bog standard: (Zam can also be the lead)
Jynx/Gengar/Rhydon: (Gengar can also be the lead)
Persian triple paralysis: (this is a team I used to run in 2018 and a couple of times on the ladder)