May 31, 2023: Innocent Cup Development Notes
This cup was named how it was because of it’s lack of horrible, nasty, mean things that can resist those lovely, happy fairies. As fate would have it, it’s also the Silph Arena’s 40th and final monthly cup, and in the end, it’s fittingly named.
All everyone at the Meta team has ever tried to is come up with interesting rulesets that keep the game fresh for people. It is an arduous, difficult, and often thankless task – I’ve had the privilege of learning that the hard way in this final season. We might not have been perfect, but we were certainly innocent!
What we’re hoping for
This season has seen us try to balance the presence of neutral matchups with maintaining a fairly broad meta. Sometimes it was fairly successful like in Naiad, others it wasn’t like in Ionic, and with Ember move updates even took it out of our hands. We’re hoping here that the largely unresisted Fairy typing will allow a lot of neutral play in the cup with both fast move pressure and spammy charge moves, while the inclusion of a very few limited Poison types will help centre the meta in a way that lends itself to more traditional Silph-style team building.
With all this in mind, we’re hoping that the cup gives competitors a chance to successfully experiment with using Fairy types in a way that differs from the standard Charm tap-tap that is often associated with them. We’re hopeful that the variety of viable second typings and coverage moves that come with options like DEDENNE and WHIMSICOTT will offer strong competition to the longstanding presence of AZUMARILL.
To some extent, we’ve leaned back on what we liked about Naiad here, with Water and Psychic types each providing lots of options. The intent was then to create something where Fairies could fill the Normal Role, which, in turn, largely limited the power of Dragons – which are still there to help centre the meta introduce some interesting coverage options.
The inclusion of Flying was a source of great debate internally (as can be seen with the number of bans that have the typing) but we thought there was enough merit in including some of the more interesting options that haven’t seen relevance in a while like JUMPLUFF, ZAPDOS and DRIFBLIM to increase the diversity of the cup to merit the bans that come with it.
Having learned from the way the overwhelming power of Beedrill played out in Ionic, we wanted to ensure there were proper counters to fairies available if people wanted to use them, which is why there are very limited Poison types allowed. ARBOK and DRAGALGE really aren’t Fairy answers at all, but we felt they fit in here due to their Dragon type damage. Similarly, SWALOT and GARBODOR can’t put pressure on Fairies with their fast moves and so allow plenty of opportunities for opposing fairies to land a couple of big hits before they have to worry about taking any real damage, and the variety in the charge moves mean they serve slightly different niches.
- Fire, Poison and Steel – As mentioned, this gives Fairy the play we wanted to see.
- Ice – Helps secure Fairies’ premier role by removing the other big Dragon answers, and helps differentiate the rest of the meta from Naiad a bit.
- Cresselia and Mew – Threatened to oust all other Psychic types from the meta due to Mew’s ability to beat them all and Cress’ serious lack of counters and great coverage.
- Lanturn – Including Lanturn would’ve caused too many knock-on effects for the rest of the meta and increasing the likelihood of RPS matchups. Lanturn would’ve made Dragons and Mudboys more important, which makes the Fairies even stronger while also pushing the Poisons out of the meta given the new importance of the Water/Ground types.
- Selected Flying Types – Banned for either their accessibility issues or their potential to have very strong neutral matchups that threatened to take that role away from the Fairies.
Matt’s Final Thoughts
I guess these really are my final thoughts. I didn’t know this was to be the final ever monthly cup when I was on the team that put it together. There are strong options in this cup that I have very fond memories of using down the years, and I can’t think of a better way to close out the Silph Arena for the majority of our competitors than with a ruleset that encourages the use of Great League staples such as Jumpluff, Seaking and Dedenne,
On a more personal note, I’ve played well over 1,250 competitive Silph matches now, and to anyone reading this who sees my name at the top of the article and thinks “Oh, I recognise that guy, I think I played him in X Cup”, I want to say thank you. What made the SIlph Arena so much fun wasn’t the monthly cups or the fancy tournament interface, it was being able to interact with you – being able to joke about how crap the game was before we played as we struggled to receive a battle invite, discussing the merits of picking Qwilfish over Beedrill after games, and most of all, being able to shake your hand and smile afterwards, regardless of if I’ve won by switching my pre-Shadow Ball Noctowl into your Bronzong to catch a Bulldoze, or if you’ve won by Rock Smashing down my Probopass with, of all things, your Swalot.
It has truly been a pleasure.