Project Spill the Sinistea! - shaneghoul


your affection <3
is a Community Leaderis a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributor
PU Leader
Approved by Shaneghoul.
Inspired partially by the previous iteration of Player of the Week as well as Player Interview.
Art by the awesome Citadark Isle and myself.


Favourite Pokemon: :phanpy:
Most used SS PU Pokemon: :sandslash:
Most known for: PU tier leader, PU Swiss I winner.

Hi, Shane! It’s so nice having you in our new iteration of Spill the Sinistea! How are you doing on this fine day?

Hi Ishtar!! Delighted to be here and I'm doing great, hope you're the same! Got home from work about 30 mins ago and now I'm chilling with a cup of green tea, listening to Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell and loving life! It's just passed 1am though so I'm a little bit tired, been finding it hard to balance real life and mons the last few weeks and it's starting to catch up with me but other than that I'm fab thanks for asking :))

I'm glad to hear that you're doing well! Yup, the classic struggle of mons and irl, hoping you're able to find the balance. On the topic of irl, can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of Smogon?

Sure! You'll be shocked to learn that my real life name is Shane, and even more shocked to learn that I'm not actually a ghoul :O I'm 24 and I'm from Ireland, lived here all my life though these days I travel away a lot for work (in beautiful Portugal right now!!). Like a lot of people on here I studied Computer Science in University, though I'm not actually working in that field now that I've graduated, but I'm pretty secretive about the details of that because I don't want to get doxed! Some other random facts about me are that I'm technically fluent in Japanese and that I absolutely love basketball, having played it and been around it since I was 11 years old.

wow that's awesome, hope you're enjoying your stay there right now, must be really gorgeous! i assume you graduated before you came back in gen 8?

It is! I'm sitting by my window with an incredible night time view of the city beside me as I write this :D And yep you'd be mostly correct, I actually came back to mons shortly before graduating. To be honest, I was finding my final year of Uni very stressful and I was really struggling to get my final year project complete and so I needed a distraction which led to me wandering back to Smogon after 3 years off the site. I mainly came back to play in NUPL as I wanted to run some ORAS NU games and then when that was over I ended up signing up for PU Swiss on a whim. I had no real intention of sticking around and I was just messing around with samples for the most part but I ended up winning that tournament and one thing led to another and now I'm PU tier leader so ya, not really sure how we got there to be honest hahaha. Was never the intention but I'm very grateful for being given the shot and I couldn't think of a nicer community to be involved with so I'm very lucky in a lot of regards. Big thanks to HJAD, one of the nicest people I've ever met and then Chloe alongisde a slew of other people right after that for bringing me back in and helping me re-integrate with the tier, I love you all <3

And circling back to the University question, I did end up finishing my project and graduating with an alright grade. I really struggled through University and I needed an extra year to complete it because I'm a silly billy but I've come to terms with that :p I got there in the end is the main thing and I'm super fortunate to have an incredible family and parents around me who always support me in whatever I'm doing, I really can't put into words how great they are and they mean the world to me.

That's really sweet. We are also glad to have you back of course and very lucky! And gz on graduating, I myself am experiencing some hurdles with that and tryna get there so this relates to me as well lol. On the topic of your return, I was curious how you got into PU in the first place. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Best of luck with it and stick with it, you'll get there eventually and once you do it will all be worth it! With PU, I hate to admit it but the credit there goes to my good friend Yogurt Bears, though I think he goes by yogi now. I'm admittedly a bit hazy on the fine details of it but for the longest time I was an NU main and towards the end of my intial stint on Smogon a lot of my NU friends started transitioning to PU as the NU landscape started to change a bit, mainly spurred on by yogi and the other Brits like HJAD and teddeh (love you bros). I can't say I was ever a PU main or anything like that at that stage but my face was known at that stage and I think I had a very brief stint on the council for like a month before I up and disappeared.

Fast forward to last Summer, I tried to pick up NU after my stint in NUPL, since that was still the tier where I had the deepest ties, but I really didn't like SS NU and I still don't to be honest. PU was next in line since I had friends around there and that started with Swiss and then the rest is as explained above!

Thank you so much! What was your impression of PU as a community when you came back? Obviously the friends you mentioned don't play it anymore but show up once in a while to say hi, but apart from that, what changed and stayed the same?

My biggest initial impression was that it was quiet, and this was kind of my impression on Smogon as a whole, though funnily enough PU was better than most tiers in this sense (largely due to the incredible work of Chloe and team) which is probably why I stuck around. The complete move away from PS! to discord was a bit of a shock to me as I had great memories of just chilling in PS! rooms and having fun there, which by the time I came back had basically become impossible due to how inactive the rooms were. I still think that the move to discord, despite how convenient it is, has largely killed much of the sense of community in a lot of tiers, and that did extend to PU a little bit. The atmosphere and enthusiasm around the tier just wasn't the same and while a lot of the same incredible people were still there, there was a certain toxic feel about it that I still think lingers around Smogon much more than it did when I was initially around. People stick to their bubbles and there's a certain sense that people feel above the idea of interacting with communities which is a development I didn't love, and it felt like it led to discussion of tiers stifling a bit.
That's just a general observation and not meant to be a criticism of anyone though and I have to say, I loved a lot of what PU had going on when I came back. The main constant was the amazing high quality people that were involved in the tier who are just a joy to be around. The people who make you actively want to stick around and involve yourself in the tier and it felt like PU had a premium on them, and still does! I wouldn't still be around if it weren't for the wonderful people like Chloe, pix, gum, asa and a whole list of other people who made the tier a welcoming place for me to come back to, and then more recently people like rien and fish anemometer who keep me sane leading the tier :D

It's really interesting hearing you say that. When I initially started playing PU and getting acquainted with the community as a whole I always valued the room way more than most people I felt like and I ended up noticing a lot of the same things you're saying here. To this day I kinda wish we had put more effort into the room, but it's still a wonderful place where you meet great people! I appreciate the thorough answer and I'm glad you found a home with us again. You had plenty of success the moment you came back to PU which I’m sure kept you interested in all of the aspects related to the tier. Do you feel like there was a difference in your approach to the game that led you to the success you had within SS such as your previous PUPL record as well as winning PU Swiss I?

That's really cool to hear! We have some plans in the backburner to try and push room activity and make it more welcoming again, and I really feel the need to shoutout rien and zoowi who have been downright fantastic in managing it and making it a welcoming place the last few months. As a player though, I've always had a sort of sense of imposter syndrome as, while I enjoy the game I've never felt I'm particularly good at it and I make mistakes all the time, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't hold certain insecurities about my playing ability. I'll usually go into a tour game quite jittery and need to throw on a hoodie even when it's warm because I get goosebumps and would get shivery if I didn't. All that is to say that I'm not the most confident player in the world and I'm sometimes surprised to see myself doing well and it's a weird feeling.

In regards to SS PU specifically though? I think a decent amount of it starts in the builder, I thought in PU Swiss, particularly in the later rounds when I was building, I had some pretty novel ideas on the tier that helped give me a bit of an edge and a lot of them came from just messing around with friends, particularly HJAD and his CB Gigalith. By PUPL I was fairly invested in the tier, and I thought I had some cool builds that pressured some of the more standard stuff that was coming out, though I was still disappointed with my 2 losses in that. I think my best PU performance was my 5-0 in PUWC towards the end of the generation, where I really felt like I had full control over what I was doing and was able to generate a huge advantage for myself going into the games, which is honestly half the battle. I've always felt that, when you build teams yourself, even if they may not end up being as fundamentally sound as other teams you use, it gives you a much better understanding of how to use the team and that allows you to perform better in battle and that's what carried me through those games.

Familiarity goes a long way when it comes to playing for sure, and I feel people often forget how important it is to trust your builds. Moving onto a more modern topic, how are you liking current SV PU? Are you hoping for any drop in particular next shift?

Absolutely, gameplanning is everything and when you can make that cleared earlier in the game it makes a huge difference. SV PU is in a weird state for me. I've been quite critical of Tera as a mechanic since the start of the generation and while I've come to terms with it, my opinion on it's competitiveness as a mechanic hasn't changed a whole lot. I think Pokemon is an interesting game in the amount of unknown quantities it normally presents you with, as you don't know what Pokemon you'll load into before the game, and then before the game starts you don't know what sets, items or spreads to expect which adds a nice metagame knowledge bonus to tiers. Tera takes this too far though as it's an unknown quantity that can complete flip gamestates and is far too punishing for how little drawbacks it adds, as unlike something like Z-Moves (which I wasn't a huge fan of either), it doesn't force you to lose an itemslot and it can invalidate certain counterplay to Pokemon at a moment's notice. Even just looking at this PUPL, we've seen a huge number of games come down to does the Lilli / Articuno / Gogoat / Persian / whatever game changing mon you want have the correct Tera type to deal with the counterplay the opponent brought. That being said, it looks like it's here to stay so it's not worth crying over spilt milk and I think SV PU is gravitating towards a decent state. I think Persian-Alola and Rotom-Frost toe the line of broken right now, and I don't think Missy or Gogoat are that far off either, but I'm hoping that a potential Chansey drop will alleviate a lot of these issues, though it might bring certain problems of its own with it.

It'll be fun seeing how the tier changes with HOME drops soon as well! On the topic of PUPL, there’s great matchups happening every week and there’s already been plenty of surprises within the tournament. Can you show me your favourite game so far within the tour and explain why you find it so interesting?

Sure thing, I'm going to take this chance to show off one of my favourite PU users and one of our best up and coming players in the tier Fish Anemometer, who I made sure to get on my PUPL team this year.
I've been doing a bit of unofficial tutoring this year, and one of the key concepts I try to drill in is that Pokemon is a game about managing variance. Variance, or hax as it often gets called, is built into Pokemon as a key mechanic, with the simplest example being that nearly every attack in the game will deal damage in a range, and you're inevitably going to have to deal with it in-game. In this replay Fish does an exceptional job of managing that when it flows against him in the early game, as he's able to adjust his gameplans on the fly and doesn't get dragged down by the poor hand he's dealt. He then executes a gorgeous end game to dispose of the Persian-Alola without having to risk a Blizzard miss and gets the guaranteed win as a result. This game really felt like a masterclass in adapting to what's happening in front of you and I was so happy to catch this live, and am delighted to see Fish seeing the success he deserves on the big stage.

That was a great game. It is quite nice seeing fish do well, i'm really excited to play him this week! Ya'll have a really fun team and I'm sure we'll have lots of great mus this weekend! And with that bit of knowledge out of the way, it is time for art media question of the day! Have u gotten into any fun media/art/games lately? (Books, shows, music, movies, podcast, vids, w/e)

Should be really exciting to watch and I'm hoping we have a great series! Mons ends up taking a lot of my free time which somewhat limits me in getting into new stuff when I've a busy schedule, which is a bit of a shame because it means that I've ended up placing aside some of my other interests like other video games and anime. I've been casually getting into chess recently the last few weeks though as we set up a big chess tournament among the staff and individuals I work with which has been a blast. We've been gathering in the hotel corridor every night to play chess games and watch the bracket move along and it's really revitalised my enjoyment of the game. I used to play a lot of chess when I was a kid (like 9-14 years old) but I lost interest in it eventually and it's been a lot of fun revisiting it in a very casual and community centered setting. Funnily enough I think mons has also helped me a little bit when playing it as there's a bit of crossover in terms of gameplanning and looking turns ahead, and I've learned some stuff about mons in the process too! That being said though, it's still pretty casual play and all for fun, and I know anyone who properly plays chess would wipe the floor with me but I've been enjoying it so that's all cool by me!

That's awesome! I absolutely love chess though I'm a lot more "serious" about it I guess? Would be fun to play anyways though :3 It's a wonderful game and I'm glad its gotten a lot of love in recent years.

Now onto our Spill the Sinistea segment! I’m wondering if you remember any of this: You were the very first tour player I actually faced outside of random ladder games! We played for PU Battle of the Week back during SM and I was really excited, it definitely made me nervous at the time and mattered way more than it should’ve since I wanted to do well. I was reminded of what you said earlier about how you don’t consider yourself a great player, and I can relate to that mentality still to this day, so it’s interesting how these sorts of experiences can come back around. Now both of our teams are playing each other for PUPL and we’ve both had different successes and that makes me quite happy and excited for other people’s growths within our community. Having said this, I’m curious, did you have any game or series earlier during gen 6 that made you grow as a player or that you remember as formative to your development?

I think it might be fun for you as you eat away at all my pieces, maybe not so much for me though hahaha And yes I do actually remember that! Battle of the Week was one of my absolute favourite forum projects and I actually kinda forgot about its existence, I'm not sure how well it would work nowadays though the general Smogon landscape is very different. But yea, I loved both the NU and PU edition and was always super excited whenever I got to take part in them, they were the type of community events I absolutely adored and I have some fantastic memories from them. I feel a bit bad but I actually don't remember the specifics of our games though :blobsad: If you have the link please do share it!

Most of my history as a competitive mons players ties back to ORAS NU where I made my initial name for myself and played in SPL when lower tiers were still a thing there (don't look up my record please!). When I try to think of big defining games I've been involved in though I find myself immediately remembering an endless list of big games I lost, and I blank when I try to think of ones I won which probably links back to the insecurities I talked about earlier but such is life \o/ If I had to pick one though it would be my very first PL game in NUPL 4 against Honchkrow / tennis (iplaytennislol at the time). Tennis was someone I always looked up to as a player and for the longest time I wasn't near their level and so getting this opportunity to start in week 1 of a premier league after some good solo performances and then beating someone I really looked up to was huge for me. Looking back on it I actually played better than I would've expected, forcing the Lanturn down early and leveraging y Jynx quite well to break the team (go 17 year old me whoo!). I'm not really sure how I did in the rest of the tournament but that's a game that always stuck with me.

here ya go! it was actually a weird af series cuz of the calc not working so not the most competitive thing ever but still very fun! and thats a lovely game, things like these are always fun to look back on! I had one final question for you, shane: With chloe’s recent retirement, you’re now the only TL, I’m sure people would love to know things you’re looking forward to in this new page of PU’s history and where the community and the tier can go next. Any projects or things that excite you?

Ohhh! Sorry I didn't realise you were Kelly Kafka the only name change I was aware of was from keppy :v That's awesome then, I remember that series and I vividly remember geeking out with HJAD about Electro Ball Raichu-Alola being the next big thing, which I brought in g2 haha (it wasn't :p). I'd also like to apologise 4 years later for bringing jank offense to every single game even if that does strike me as something I'd do heh

Looking forward to, thanks to the incredible work Chloe has done, I think the community and tier are in a good spot, and our goal is to expand on that to really open up the tier as much as we can. One of our big projects is PU related media, and we've already made a start on that with the Smogon PU YouTube channel (which is on a temporary hiatus while I'm travelling for work) and the recently released PUPL power rankings article, which is our first time ever having the PRs as a full blown flying press article!

Aside from that, we'd like to make the discord a more welcoming and colourful place (and my fantastic partner in crime gum has made an incredible start to that), and really try and strengthen the link between the room and the discord as I feel like there's still a bit of a disconnect there, though progress there has been slow while I've been away and had less time to plan things out and put stuff in place. Thankfully, I get a huge amount of help from my fantastic council in managing the server so I'm not worried about our ability to make that happen.

Long story short we've an incredible community here and we'd like to try my best to maximise that and help connect all parts of it, while making it a welcoming place for people to join. Though admittedly, for the minute the main focus is on making sure that PUPL is a success as it's one of our most important yearly events and it's key to us that it's able to go down without a hitch, so forum projects and changes will be scaled down a bit until the tournament is over.

Thank you so much for your time, shane. This has really been a blast and we as a community are super thankful for your constant contributions to the tier. You care to do some shoutouts to some of your favorite people on the site?

Thanks for having me I'm very humbled to be the first guest, and thank you a million times for hosting the project! The community wouldn't be what it is if we didn't have amazing people like you who are willing to give up their time to help it grow!

I could be here all day if I was doing full on shoutouts so I'll probably try and keep it brief-ish, and I've made so many friends here that I'm bound to leave someone out so I'm sorry if I do!

Chloe - Can't put it into words how amazing you are. Thank you for everything, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wouldn't have gotten back into PU if it wasn't for you and idk how to even go about thanking you for everything you've done for me. Thanks for the amazing times leading with you and I hope you get all the joy in the world in whatever you pursue next because you deserve it <3

My PU council gum, rien, asa, Vulpix03, fish anemometer. You guys keep me sane and I can't put into words how lucky I am to be constantly around you all. I think I told yall before but I've been on a few councils across my years and none of them have even come close to what I have with you guys and I just want to say thanks for everything you do behind the scenes because I know it might go publicly appreciated. Love you all so much

And then some spitfire PU friends who keep make the tier what it is
DugZa - you're one of my absolute favourite people on the site and I was selfishly so happy when you decided to manage for pupl because it means we get to see more of you
zS - your positivity is actually just contagious man I love being around you, and I love watching your games because there's always going to be something wack brought haha
Blue YM - it's great to have you back man, I know I'm awful at responding to messages but ilysm and you really help keep me sane skrimps and
sleid - including you both in the PU section because your PU mains now ;) love you both and thanks for making me apart of your crew
2xTheTap - I always love our random chats man and it's great having you still around to talk to, ありがとう homie
tlenit - I know it's been a bit rocky the last while (completely my fault) but I still really appreciate you and all the time you give me, you're a good dude and I always enjoy talking with you
Magnemite - You really made my holidays last Christmas when you messaged me when I was down and I'm forever grateful for that, been great staying in contact even as you've lost interest in the current gen of competitive mons

And I'd be wrong not to mention some of the other great users we have like Aurist , uhBella , PU Rules , zoowi , Hera , Akir , TONE , SergioRules ,Drud , pannu (you're officially a PU main now) and a whole list of others

And just some random friends to finish it out All my forza englandia goons yogi , HJAD , dibs , Taskr , Anty, Teddeh if you ever see this I love you all and yous got me through some tough times <3 Jisoo - Been amazing linking back with you after so many years, you've no idea how happy I am to see you doing well, love you bro Lasen , Luck O' the Irish , Oathkeeper , Theia , bb skarm this is getting very long so I just wanted to say thanks to all of you, love you all

Shane is dedicated to changing people's perception of SS PU with this amazing team:
:trevenant: :vikavolt: :gigalith: :sandslash: :ribombee: :mareanie:

So this is one of my all-time favourite SS PU teams and it’s originally from this teambuilding lab request, which is part of why I love it, as I get a great thrill out of helping others and loading this up reminds me of that a small bit! It doesn’t deviate super heavily from a lot of the Gigalith + Sandslash teams you see having success in SS PU, but it features some of my favourite Pokemon of the generation and I always have so much fun using it. I also feel like it does a good job of avoiding the passivity issue that a lot of those teams fall into which has made it one of my go-to's. Trevenant is a Pokemon I’ve always loved, dating back to my ORAS NU days where I had tons of fun with friends on the ladder using the “Cathy” substitute Starf berry set. It’s also always a bit of a logistical challenge to build around because it means you can’t use Knock Off, but that’s part of the fun! The Jolly speed is so that you can outspeed adamant Sandslash and all the other Pokemon in that range, plus it doesn’t need the extra power due to how strong its stabs are. Vikavolt was the next part of the mandated core so that was an easy add, I honestly had my doubts initially because it then makes it hard to fit speed control onto the team but I was clearly overlooking Raspouniak’s genius as the two work seamlessly together. Another Pokemon that I love to use because of what it does to balance teams, and the spread and moves are nothing special. I’m a huge GigaSlash believer and that’s partly why I picked a team with both of them for this showcase. Nothing too exciting about the Gigalith but Sandslash is a kind of mix between defensive and offensive utility, being able to run Rock Slide and not worrying about the inability to pressure Eldegoss as I’m able to get free switches into Trev and Vikavolt on it anyway. I guess this is where I bring out my hot take on Sandslash being the best Pokemon in SS PU because of how many roles it can fulfil and how well it can do them. Scarf Ribombee provides some speed control alongside Sandslash, and Aromatherapy is super valuable in this tier and almost mandated a lot of the time. It only needs Moonblast as its attacking move so you can afford to run support moves in the last three slots for games where you want to trick away your scarf. The speed is for +2 Thievul and the defense is to guarantee you take one hit from Silvally-Ghost. It used to be a very bulky Heavy Duty Boots set to deal with Scrafty better, but I made it Scarf to help with the offence matchup as Trev and Vik mean you’re very solid against balance teams anyway. Lastly is my favourite blob Mareanie to shore up some of the defenses and more importantly to give me a Toxic Spikes absorber and setter. I could’ve gone with Neutralising Gas Weezing here either but I like the idea of Mareanie more and regeneration is cool. Physically defensive Haze is great into stuff like Doublade and Sivally-Ghost that might be a problem otherwise, and Toxic Spikes are sort of broken in this tier so I wanted them.

All in all it’s not the craziest of teams but it’s one I’ve always loved and have had huge fun using. It’s a bit weak to all-out offense which just comes with the territory when you’re using two balance breakers, but it can make it work and Scarf Ribombee is a real back-breaker for a lot of offensive teams. Here are some replays to give you an idea of how it plays!
Danny vs Punny in PUPL:
Me vs One Last Kiss in SSPL:
Me vs in Dj Breloominati circuit playoffs:

Ask shane some questions to take part in spilling the sinistea!
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fav album?
worst team tour experience? (u can say mushies)
fav anime?
fav mon to use? can b any tier / gen
I'm not a big music person as you probably know from council chat. Once upon a time it might have been a Kanye album but they kinda leave a sour taste now so it's probably Good Kid M.A.A.D. City or Case by Creepy Nuts now (I'm also kinda insecure about my music taste which is why I don't share stuff that much :p)

ZUPL IV, there were a lot of issues with that team and I was basically running it by w4 despite not wanting to have any involvement in that side and being fairly new to ZU at the time. I'm also not even sure we won a week, we were way out from poffs anyway I know that it. Though it did produce this legendary replay which is something I guess. Mushies was a lot of fun, cool people and we nearly made poffs so it was fun that the games meant something

It flips between Madoka Magica and March Comes in Like a Lion on the daily. I've kind watched so much at this stage that it's hard to nail one down though. Psychopass and some of the mainline fate stuff would be up there too

Sub tox mantine in ORAS NU, idk why it's just so satisfying

honest thoughts on gsc pu and adv pu?
I've enjoyed what I've played of adv, though I've always enjoyed adv in general tbh. Gsc I only played in that one kickoff tour and I don't really know much about it other than that. It's a tough one because it's very separated from the rest of PU and there's little community crossover so it almost doesn't feel like a PU tier in a lot of ways, whereas ADV is very much a PU community tier.

Whats your Most and least favorite vegetable?
Tomatoes are so good when they're ripe, I'll happily eat them by themselves. Red, green and yellow peppers are vile

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