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A Detailed PokeDraft Walkthrough: Setup and Round 1 to 4

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Introduction

The draft phase of a PokeDraft league is full of fun and intrigue. Competing with your fellow trainers to select a team of ten Pokemon that can defeat any raid boss requires research, resources, and a healthy dose of meteorology. To help you build a cohesive team in your next draft, some of the best drafters around shared their pick-by-pick rationale from the latest season run by the r/pogoraids Discord server.

The r/pogoraids league consists of a three-tiered pyramid with promotion and relegation after each season. This is the draft completed by Evergrande Division, one of the two Champions’ Divisions atop the pyramid, and home to some of the most skilled and knowledgeable raiders on the server. The season began when Cresselia rotated in on November 28, 2018, just before the release of PVP and the associated changes to the type effectiveness multipliers. After a two-week break for the holidays, the season resumed on January 2, 2019, just in time for the raid boss HP buff.

This is a two-part series. Here in part one, the players lay out their general draft approaches and cover rounds 1-4. Part two covers rounds 5-10 and sums up the draft. Average Draft Position (ADP) values are derived from all 16 divisions participating in season four.

Approach

CuttyWow, 1st Pick

As this is the first season with true promotion/relegation, job one is to stay up! Based on previous seasons, I figure that will require a minimum of 600 points, which means a minimum of 75 points per boss. On the pogoraids score system, then, I need to log times that are at least 66% as fast as the top times in the division for each boss.

To do that, I’ll target clear weather generalists early in the draft to back up dedicated counters that I can get later on. Even in winter, we get enough sun in the Northeast USA to bank on. That, plus the probability of a winter-themed event, makes Fire-types a good bet. If I can get a couple of them while pulling down a top neutral generalist (Mewtwo, Rayquaza, Metagross), I should be able to hit 600 points no problem.

Varunadi, 2nd Pick

Selecting a lineup during drafting can be quite tricky. What do I choose first? What if I don’t get this pick? Such questions can pop up in one’s head, to seasoned and novice drafters alike. The process is very fun but the decisions one makes matter a lot and can hugely dictate your performance throughout the season.

Participating in Evergrande division, one of the two Champions’ Divisions, alongside some of the best soloists in business, I had to think a lot before making decisions. There are several factors in mind – weather, Pokemon types and movesets, generalists etc. Also, knowing when to pick a Pokemon is important.

David (Net Tools), 3rd Pick

Any coherent approach I had going into the draft was quickly torpedoed. You’ll see what I mean.

BellaBaolam, 4th Pick

I will start by saying I love the drafting phase the most in a Pokemon draft season. This is my first season at the top division of r/pogoraids (and my third draft season overall). So my goal is to stay in the top division. I did not know at the time what the criteria for pro/rel would be and simply guessed that staying in top half would be safe. [NOTE: the top three in each Champions’ Division, plus two wild cards, stayed up, consolidating with two promoted players into a single Champions’ Division moving forward.]

For the area I live in, in winter, these weathers are considered somewhat common (you can expect to find them at least a couple hours every week): partly cloudy, cloudy, sunny/clear. The rest are uncommon but we do have a chance if the duration of a rotation is two or three weeks. I made an educated guess that there would be an Ice event (weak to Fire, Steel, Rock, Fighting).

Icarusvonlubey, 6th Pick

The review from Downunder! I had a hard draft in sixth position. Being the only player in my timezone and having a middle draft pick means the other players have to wait for you, which can lead to a very disjointed draft. Also, you miss out on the top tier picks (Mewtwo, Groudon, Kyogre). So with this in mind I had to use the only thing I could: the weather. With Melbourne entering summer, I had to plan my draft around that.

Razvan, 7th Pick

Being a late autumn and winter draft, I decided to use last year’s weather experience for my area, which meant cloudy and partly (fucking) cloudy mostly. That meant I needed to focus on Rock, Fighting, and Poison as my main attacking types, while also trying to get as many double types as possible. Also worth noting that my approach was to be able to do any boss, thinking that would grant me a top half position (I was wrong :) ). Since Poison and Rock should cover all the bosses weak to Fire, I planned to avoid Fire-types (wrong again, Skarmory was there with weaknesses to Fire and Electric only).

Zyxwgh, 8th Pick

For the first time, I entered a draft with the goal of being able to do any boss or almost any boss. I considered Machamp and A-Raichu as "permanent" raid bosses with a probability of 90%, most other bosses were rated between 10% and 30%. So my ranking was an average of the performance against all bosses (weighted by my guesstimate of their probability) and the performance against the hardest bosses (mostly Skarmory, Claydol, Umbreon, Jolteon, Ninetales, Onix, Hitmonchan, with an outside chance of Mantine, A-Ninetales, Gligar, or Kingler). I didn't consider Alakazam hard because generalists were still an option prior to the super-effective buff.

I wanted to follow my ranking (calculated from my Choose Your Attackers spreadsheet v12, assuming level 33 for legendaries, level 37 for rares and level 40 for commons—I'm not a hardcore player) at least for my first picks, and then try to choose between high-rated picks and type coverage options (more on that later). A peculiarity of this draft was the many new Pokemon that need a Sinnoh Stone to evolve, and the lack of Sinnoh Stones (nobody knew when and how many would be available).

yourcalcprof, 9th Pick

The draft period itself is my favorite aspect of PokeDraft, and it’s the part I consider to be my greatest strength. I spend lots of time thinking about counters and typically enter the draft with a sort of ranked list, but of course, the decisions I make depend on what’s been taken by others and the strengths and weaknesses of my own team. My raid execution probably needs a bit of work to be competitive in the top divisions, but has gotten better, for sure.

Going into any draft, I always like to consider the weather I’m likely to have available to me during the season. While cloudy is by far the most common weather type in my area in the winter, it isn’t a terribly useful one to have (at least before Roserade). I also expected to have some shots at clear, wind, and snow, so as I fill out my team, I have to keep this in mind to pick counters likely to be boosted in these weather types.

Machamp and Alolan Raichu seemed to be nearly guaranteed bosses, while the possibility of a Christmas event meant it was likely we’d see some Ice-type bosses as well. Unfortunately for me, the rotation of Ice-types coincided with our holiday break, and so I didn’t get a chance to pull top times on bosses like Jynx and Piloswine with my Metagross.

Round 1

Pick 1: Mewtwo (Classic) [ADP 1.3]

CuttyWow: After three consecutive drafts from the last slot, I finally get a high pick! This was a toss-up for me between Classic Mewtwo and Groudon. I’d been impressed by the performance of Groudon owners in previous seasons, as it’s one of the few top picks to guarantee a significant margin against a couple bosses (A-Raichu and Jolteon), plus it has decent Grass-type coverage. On the other hand, Mewtwo’s coverage is unmatched, and I had a few high-IV ones I wanted an excuse to power up. A quick glance at the extended local forecast showed precious little sun, so I went with Mewtwo for the top-tier neutral DPS and strong matchups vs certain difficult bosses (Hitmons, Claydol). I should be able to use him in every raid, which (pre-SE/NVE and HP changes) is what you want from your first pick.

Pick 2: Mewtwo (Elemental) [ADP 7.2]

Varunadi: Legendaries, mainly the Weather Trio and Mewtwo, are the best choices at second overall, thanks to the combination of excellent base stats, diverse movepools, and being strong specialists (which can advantage you against certain bosses, like Kyogre vs Claydol for example). My choice was, in my opinion, a gamble – Elemental Mewtwo. I chose it because of its versatility. That massive 300 base attack, combined with three powerful elemental charge moves means it has very wide coverage. A 3-in-1 Pokemon.

Pick 3: Groudon [ADP 3.7]

David: Groudon offers great role compression with Ground/Grass coverage. In particular, it excels against the most difficult raid boss to draft for, Jolteon, and the ever-present Alolan Raichu. The A-Raichu matchup is significant because 1) it is likely to get chosen as a boss and 2) Groudon’s strongest competitors need fog to match it while sun-boosted. Obviously, fog is rare for most people and clear is relatively common. Gengar is also fairly common in raid rotations, and Groudon competes well with unboosted Dark/Psychic/Ghost attackers.

Pick 4: Moltres [ADP 3.5]

BellaBaolam: I am at the 4th position and Classic Mewtwo, Elemental Mewtwo, and Groudon were picked. Moltres is the obvious pick at this point based on my weather. Rayquaza was considered but I do not often have windy. Also, before the PVP rebalance, Fire generalists do well. What I plan for Round 2 will be another good Fire Pokemon (Entei, Charizard, Flareon) to finish the Fire team.

Pick 5: Kyogre [ADP 5.8]

Pick 6: Entei [ADP 15.7]

Icarusvonlubey: I chose Entei over Rayquaza mainly for weather reasons. Clear is more reliable than wind.

Pick 7: Rayquaza [ADP 3.8]

Razvan: I make the tactical mistake of picking Rayquaza first, as the strongest generalist back then, with access to Ancient Power for PFC (which I didn’t even use once, as Outrage was stronger than boosted AP vs Pinsir) and securing half of a Machamp (but without help from other ‘mons or windy boost it is better to have Lugia, at least she handles the run alone).

Pick 8: Rhyperior [ADP 14.4]

Zyxwgh: With Classic Mewtwo, Groudon, Moltres, and Kyogre gone, I pick Rhyperior. Not as good as Groudon, but definitely easy mode for A-Raichu and Jolteon, plus it's the best partly cloudy option together with Tyranitar, but I have more Rhyhorn candy than Larvitar candy (we didn't know about the December Community Day replay yet). I’m hoping that this time Scyther or Aerodactyl is a draft boss (but also Flareon, Ninetales, Pinsir, and Jynx should fear the power of Smack Down). Nice to have: access to Surf against Ground bosses like Onix. Only two drawbacks: it's not good against Machamp (but there are still so many options available—at least at this point), and Mud Slap/Earthquake is not a dodge-friendly moveset. I also need two Sinnoh Stones (one for the Rock set and one for the Ground set), but I probably won't need both in the first wave of bosses.

Pick 9: Salamence [ADP 11.3]

yourcalcprof: All of the top choices (both versions of Mewtwo, Groudon, Kyogre, Moltres, and Rayquaza) were gone at this point. At the top of my wishlist were Salamence, Latios, and Metagross. Considering I’d be picking again two spots later and the person making two picks between me is from Morocco, I went for Salamence here hoping that Metagross would be available in Round 2. I picked Salamence over Latios knowing that most Fire-types were likely to go quickly and I’d miss out. Of course, the rebalances nerfed Dragons out of first round consideration, and this pick didn’t really work out. I should probably have gone with Latios for its ability to counter Machamp, which would have saved me from needing to take Espeon later.

Pick 10: Latios [ADP 16.8]

Round 2

Pick 11: Gengar [ADP 9.7]

Pick 12: Metagross [ADP 8.1]

YCP: Passing on Metagross paid off. Clearly the best pick still on the board for me with fairly reliable access to snow, so this seemed like a no-brainer. I felt like I was in a pretty comfortable spot at this point, but I still hadn’t drafted a top counter to Alolan Raichu, so I’d have to consider my next picks carefully.

Pick 13: Blaziken [ADP 20.3]

Z: My turn again. I surprise everyone by picking Blaziken, mostly to have Skarmory covered (but also Tangela, Pinsir, Piloswine, and Jynx) and keep a chance at beating Umbreon. Drawback: it's not very tanky. I would have picked Weavile instead, but I already had Rhyperior and didn't want to bank on Sinnoh Stones I don't have.

Pick 14: Roserade [ADP 14.7]

R: I thought that Rock has more choices than Poison against types weak to Fire (which I was avoiding), so I decided to have the upper hand in cloudy-boosted types. I choose Roserade to take advantage of the weather.

Pick 15: Exeggutor [ADP 18.8]

I: I love Kanto Exeggutor in draft league. He can play either in clear with the strong Solar Beam or in wind with Psychic moves. So versatile.

Pick 16: Tyranitar [ADP 6.9]

Pick 17: Alakazam [ADP 18.3]

BB: I was surprised that Alakazam was still available. I rate it higher. So another obvious pick for me. Also Charizard and Flareon were still available. There were 6 picks before I could pick next. So I liked my chance getting either of them.

Pick 18: Dragonite [ADP 14.3]

D: Would not have been my first second pick, but it offers good neutral DPS (which is less important now with the type effectiveness changes combined with the raid HP buff) and is a great counter to Machamp, which is pretty much going to be picked in every draft version. Dragonite’s Steel Wing/Hurricane moveset also provides OK coverage for Granbull.

Pick 19: Venusaur [ADP 24.5]

V: Some of my next picks have one thing in common – being dual type. Venusaur is one of the best grass types, and comes with some solid Poison type coverage.

Pick 20: Charizard [ADP 22.9]

Round 3

Pick 21: Flareon [ADP 28.6]

CW: With Blaziken off the table (really, Zyxwgh?), I was looking at two of Charizard, Flareon, and Breloom. Clear-boosted neutral damage had proven to be a winning strategy in prior seasons, and raiding in the sun is always nicer than raiding in the rain (I mostly play on foot). However, top-tier Fighting DPS was very attractive, particularly with the clouds rolling in. But with Moltres, Entei, and Blaziken gone, taking both remaining A-tier Fire-types would deny the rest of the division Fire-type coverage, and give me enough firepower in clear weather to beat nearly any boss. Plus, Flareon is so FLUFFY!

Pick 22: Honchkrow [ADP 39.7]

V: Dual-type again. Honchkrow has very competitive Flying and Dark DPS, which covers a lot of bosses such as Machamp, Gengar, Alolan Raichu etc. The addition of Sky Attack to its movepool came too late for Machamp and Pinsir this season, but only increases its value in future seasons

Pick 23: Ho-Oh [ADP 41.1]

D: To be quite honest, Ho-Oh was a mistake. It should not be picked third. I made this self-sabotaging move in order to prove that I didn’t care about PokeDraft anymore. It is decent for Machamp, and can deliver modest Fire-type damage, but it should not be picked in the early rounds.

Pick 24: Typhlosion [ADP 38.5]

BB: CuttyWow surprised me by picking both Charizard & Flareon. At this point I had to settle with Typhlosion. The good thing is Icarusvonlubey (Entei) and yourcalcprof (Salamence) do not have any more good Fire Pokemon to choose (beside Magmortar but in my opinion it would be a reach for their third and fourth picks).

Pick 25: Weavile [ADP 22.1]

Pick 26: Gyarados [ADP 22.5]

I: I picked up Gyarados next, again a versatile ‘mon with powerful Water moves. I also have a few of these set up with the Dark and legacy Dragon moves if needed.

Pick 27: Breloom [ADP 22.7]

R: Breloom for cloudy weather, as I said above. The late-season addition of Grass Knot to the movepool was a nice bonus.

Pick 28: Electivire [ADP 28.2]

Z: My turn, and it looks like I have to be the first to pick an Electric Pokemon. So I pick the best non-legendary, Electivire. Now I really hope to get another Sinnoh Stone soon. Skarmory shouldn't be a problem now. Also all those Water raid bosses, and the likely Aerodactyl and Scyther. A great generalist, it's ahead of the clock against most bosses. Drawback: it's a monotype.

Pick 29: Espeon [ADP 34.1]

YCP: This may have been a bit of a reach. I figured Espeon with Metagross would be a pretty great 1-2 punch against Machamp (why did I take Salamence over Latios again?), but Espeon doesn’t have a ton of other favorable boss matchups. It helped me with Machamp and Gengar, but otherwise Espeon rode the bench for most of the competition due to the proliferation of Psychic bosses.

Pick 30: Gardevoir [ADP 25.5]

Round 4

Pick 31: Sceptile [ADP 32.7]

Pick 32: Alolan Exeggutor [ADP 30.9]

YCP: This was my third time drafting A-Eggy and he’s never let me down. The double-resistance to Water makes it a pretty solid Grass pick, and Grass seems to be one of the most important draft types, with quite a few double SE matchups on previous tier 3s. I was feeling pretty okay at this point, but still sweating the Alolan Raichu matchup a bit. I’d looked at previous draft results and saw that Bugs weren’t generally taken until a bit later, so I was praying that I’d be able to bag Shiftry, Scizor, or Pinsir with my next pick.

Pick 33: Machamp [ADP 21.0]

Z: I pick Machamp. I have already one maxed out and it's the undisputed top Fighting attacker. It gives me a realistic chance, almost a monopoly, if Umbreon is picked as a draft boss. Machamp also has top-tier DPS in cloudy, which is the most common weather here in winter. Drawback: it's another monotype.

Pick 34: Golem [ADP 31.7]

R: Ground is needed for Electric and Poison bosses, so I leveraged the Rock guys’ double typing, aiming for a middle of the road time for A-Raichu and a top time for Jolteon; it went as expected for A-Raichu, subpar for Gengar, and Jolteon didn't rotate in; but what can you expect from B-tier Rock/Ground mons like Golem and Rhydon? The great ones (Rhyperior, Tyranitar) went in the first and second rounds.

Pick 35: Pinsir [ADP 45.3]

I: I was going to pick a fighting type here (Hariyama?), but Pinsir was still available and I had to snap up this powerful Bug-type. With 5 out of 8 bosses eventually selected being weak to Bug, this was a good choice.

Pick 36: Scizor [ADP 36.9]

Pick 37: Victreebel [ADP 40.7]

BB: Now I had Fire as my main team. It is weak against Ground, Rock, Water. Naturally I wanted Grass to counter all three. So I chose the best Grass available, Victreebel. My hope was I could get a Grass/Dark Pokemon next so that I have two Grass and two Ghost/Dark.

Pick 38: Magmortar [ADP 48.3]

D: Magmortar was essentially an apology to myself for picking Ho-Oh third in case I did want to try to win. I wanted to make sure I had good Fire types because 1) clear is common 2) with the possibility of the Lake Trio, Palkia, Dialga, or even the return of Rayquaza, Fire would help with Bug-type or Ice-type Bosses.

Pick 39: Swampert [ADP 43.0]

V: Yet another dual-type. Swampert has a very good typing of Water/Ground. It might not be one of the best Water-types, but it surely isn’t far behind and having a two-bar move in Surf helps a lot. This is another pick that may be even better in the coming seasons, with the likely addition of Hydro Cannon.

Pick 40: Cacturne [ADP 49.7]