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Landscaping business from 0 to 23k service appointments in 4 years

This post is mostly for those who’re thinking about starting a landscaping business. If you have one, there may still be some values in it.
Industry
$99B on lawn care spend in 2019. Average ~$800 annual spend per household. Over 500k landscaping businesses in the US, over a million workers.
Why & What
We started a yard care business (southwest US) 4.5 years ago because we couldn’t find one that’d pick up our calls, or show up to see our yard, let alone do the work. Got frustrated and decided to build a business for it. We wanted to make the process of hiring a landscaper easier, so we built a website to let people book lawn service online. They search their address, see the instant quote, and can book the service. We can change the pricing anytime with a click. The day we launched we had our first online booking. A young professional booked our first appointment and he’s still a client to this day. On the business side, when a new booking comes in, we assign our crew to a new client. Send out auto-reminders the day before the service. We built lots of features to automate the workflow (scheduling, invoicing, payment, clients, crew’s login). We have a feature to charge all houses by clicking a “Charge” button. We do 30-40 houses a day. This saves us hundreds of manual clicks. You’re building a business, not a job. Ideally, money should come in with or without you around. It won’t be 100% no involvement but you want to be as hands-off as possible. Automation is your friend. Try to automate as much as possible.
Numbers
Revenue comes mostly from recurring yard and lawn maintenance, weekly, biweekly, monthly. We had no prior landscaping experience, learn the trade on the go by tagging along with the crew. We grew to 420 recurring clients as of today. ~23,000 appointments served since launched. The instant quote, booking feature of our site really help fuels our growth. Service ranges from $40-$300+ per yard depending on how large the yard is. Plenty of add-ons services (irrigation repair, install, tree trimming, removal, planting, grass reseeding). Tree removal, installing a new irrigation system could be in the thousands. NET margin’s roughly 20%. If you apply good business practices, $500k+ annual revenue is very realistic. As for pricing your job, we use our site to set the maintenance pricing. If you don’t have that, some use hourly rate. Some quote by the job. Use what best fits you.
Hiring
This is probably generic and applies to any industry. Our first hire was our own yard guys. His brother also does work for us. He knows someone from his church. One leads to others. We now have 6 crews. We tried indeed, craigslist, have a job application page on our site. We never had luck with them. We’re lucky all our current guys are great. Very little turnover. They are the most hardworking people we know. Good crews are hard to come by. Pay them well above the average. If you had to fire someone, do it fast. It hurts all sides if you fire slowly.
Operations
Send clients service reminders at least a day before the service. Your crew should have access to all service info. Group all the houses in the same area on a specific day. It saves travel time and gas. Our maintenance service doesn’t just mow and go. We trim bushes, remove weeds on gravel (majority of yards here have rocks). Check the irrigation system, help clients set up irrigation timers. Look out for leaks, broken sprinklers (add on revenue), report to clients if you see any. They will appreciate your attention to details. Crews will forget gate code, when they ask, tell them, don’t let them wait. Your job is to make their job easier. Clients will have special requests, how much to remove this bush, how much to trim this tree. Get the quote out asap, best to do that on the same day of maintenance. Crews may miss things. Forget to trim a shrub, left the debris at the corner. You need to be ready to fix the mistake, put out the “fire”. Maintain good communications, always. New leads will call to ask you to come out to see the yard, we direct them to our website that has an instant quote or have them send you the most recent photos (not the photos on Zillow that’s 6 months ago), if they want an accurate quote. If mowing only, you can ask how tall the grass is in inches, go to findlotsize.com to measure the area. You can give them some rough estimates that way. You will get one-time cleanups often, try to turn them into recurring maintenance. We charge more on the one-time service and discount the first service if they sign up for maintenance. We tell the clients something like this:
There's no contract on the maintenance service, you can cancel at any time. However, if cancel right after the first service and before the next maintenance service. The difference between the one-time service ($300) and the discounted first service ($250), will be charged.” *Maintenance $50.*
Clients cancellation
Ask them why anything not happy with. Don’t make the same mistakes if you’re in the wrong. Many clients won’t tell you unless you ask. If they move, make sure to let them know to leave your number to the new owner. Ask them to leave you a review if they haven’t yet. Many new owners end up signing up with us.
Problems
Stolen tools. We’ve had $600 blowers, $800 lawnmowers stolen multiple times. Need to lock them in the trailers.
Our city doesn’t rain much. If it did, we had to reschedule that day’s appointments. Fixing an irrigation leak could take much longer than expected. Finding the source is much harder than fixing it sometimes. This will mess up the day’s schedule. Rescheduling could be a mess just to check what days to reschedule to. Notifying the clients, make sure they’re ok and the crew’s route is optimized so they don’t need to travel far from one yard to the next. Limit the number of houses to no more than 12-15 per 2-3-men crew daily. For any automation experts, we’d like your feedback on how to automate the rescheduling.
There’s often gravels on the lawn. We’ve broken 2 sliding door glasses, a van’s glass parked on the driveway when we weed eat the lawn. We lived up to our mistakes. Told the clients immediately and always pay for the damage in a timely manner. A sliding door glass easily runs $500 and up. Having liability insurance that has good coverage is very important.
Bad clients
We’re fortunate most are nice people, but some are absolutely unbearable. One client always wanted us to do free work. Got mad if we don’t do it even though we stated clearly what’s and not included in the maintenance. Threaten to leave us bad reviews. Fire these types of clients quickly, you won’t regret it. We do a little bit of free work here and there for clients sometimes cos we’re nice people, but a line should always be drawn, business is still business, we’re here to make money. We’ve had about 5-10 clients who straight out scammed us from not paying us (mistakes we didn’t get their cards first). All big cleanups. If it happens to you, after a few invoices, don’t spend more time on it, send them to collections. Your time should be spent on taking care of your clients, crews, and getting new business. Always in your best interest to get their credit card info. Tell them: The card info is for reserving the appointment only. It’ll be posted as a pending/authorized transaction, however, it won’t be charged until the service is completed.
Marketing
We don’t do printed ads, never printed door hangers. We do have business cards that we give out to new clients. Not a big fan of traditional marketing. Maybe we’re missing a lot though. Yelp is downright terrible. Hide good reviews and always call to get us on their ad platform. We never bite. Any bad reviews we respond professionally. Smart consumers can see who’s in the wrong. We do get Yelp's new lead message from time to time. We check the lead’s profile. If you only see 1-star reviews they give everywhere, don’t respond. Chances are, they will give you a 1-star too. Wait for a few days, yelp will email you to remind you to respond, then click don’t intend to reply. This way, it won’t hurt your response time and rate. We focus more on google review. We tried fb ads, google AdWords, thumbtack, HomeAdvisor's initially. Never had good results. You must set up your GMB and Bing business page. Add photos, posts regularly. Use their analytics to narrow down the search keywords. Use them to optimize your site SEO. Our site traffic and people calling are mostly organic search through google. Send an auto email to clients after each service with a simple review link at the end to increase the number of reviews. We have some CRM in place though not systematically. We have thousands of old and existing clients in our database. Trees need trimming once a year; lawn needs fertilizer regularly. Reach out to them. More reason to have repeated clients than a one-off. You should have add-on business regularly either you reach out to them or they ask for it. You need a CRM plan if you want to grow to the next level.
Social Media
We’re present, but not active as in having daily scheduled posts. It’s very time-consuming to post, follow others, be engaging, just to hope others will retweet/share or follow back. We aren’t sure how much more effort we should put into it. Currently, no ad spend. We’re open to it. Just need a plan. If you’re spending $$ on ads, good to know your client segments so you can target them.
Templates
We have many message templates for generic questions, to save time communicating with leads and clients.
Examples: “If you have recent photos of the yard, please send them to us so we can provide a much narrower price range. Thank you!”
Please refer to our ongoing maintenance service details here for your reference. >> “link to your site’s page that describes the maintenance work”
You can see some of our work here for your reference. “Link to your photo gallery or IG page of your work photos.”
These are some irrigation, tree trimming work of ours for your reference. “Links to your photo gallery”
You can also login here to view the service schedule and details. Thanks. “Link to the client login page.”
Refer to your friend and family to get a 10.0% discount on your next appointment if they book with us. >> link to your referral page <<
We have a few spreadsheets we created to calculate fertilizer, weed/feed, new sod, reseeding price. Plug in the area, give you a price. This makes it quick to send estimates.
Final take away
Anyone can start a landscaping business. You don’t need to have much knowledge or invest thousands of dollars to start. We didn’t even have a truck, a lawnmower when we started. This (https://imgur.com/a/W0XsHuD) is what we have. You just need a system that can run your business efficiently and a crew who has the experience and know what they’re doing. Have the vision to set the business up so you’re not the one who does the labor work, instead, you’re the one who manages, markets the business. As you build up your client base, you can invest more into trucks, equipment, and hire more workers. Our model is working. We have online booking almost daily with no ad spend. it can work for you too. Focus on smaller clients instead of big HOA, commercial clients. You’ll be glad when hundreds of recurring clients constantly give you additional work. Many will say don’t start a landscaping business, it’s bottom of the barrel, you’re competing with low wage folks who charge nothing. If you are reliable and dependable, you will get business, and people are willing to pay more. Use good business ethics. People can book online on our site but there are still many prefer to call you. Pick up the calls. I can’t tell you how many times we heard on the other side of the phone saying, “OMG, you’re the first one who picked up my call!” There’s no passive income in all of these. You’re active if you want to succeed. Crew, client questions, complaints, new leads requests. It’s non-stop. Don’t low ball any quotes, don’t use words like cheap, low cost in your marketing message. Use reasonable, competitive pricing instead. If you follow good practice, your business will grow, it won’t be a candlestick growth but it will grow. It happens to us. It will work for you too.
Photo gallery:
https://imgur.com/jxz4JyT
https://imgur.com/a/c59MMiu
https://imgur.com/a/BG7eswH
Any comments, feedback, questions, let us know. Thanks!
EDIT: WOW!! thanks for all the feedback, questions, and upvotes!
submitted by HouseOfYards to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

[12 Month Review] E-Commerce High End Men's Shoes | Reflections, Improvements & Case Study

Hi everyone,
I am a more of a lurker here and in sweatystartup. I made a post there about 7 months ago that documented the start of my journey. If you want to check it out later here it is. Long post incoming, so apologies I don't do this often. Also, English is not my native language so bear with me.
Super Quick Background:
My name is Kostas, originally from Greece living in Sweden for the last 6 years. I am a water engineer with an MSc. but the job sucked and I hated taking orders from bullies, slowpokes and unqualified people. Let alone the racism I went through. In April/May 2019 I quit in the span of a week to pursue my true interest: Selling Goodyear Welted Men's Shoes Online. To be master of my own self. The shop is called The Noble Shoe.
I didn't want to be a wantepreneur but I knew I had to be diligent. I had saved up 10000$ enough for 12 months of survival, then got a part time job for the first 4-5 months in Suitsupply, a Premium RTW Suit Store. The manager was yet another bully, so I gave him 6 months to stay as a boss when I quit in the 28th of December. He was fired a few weeks ago. The pay was great but I decided it was time to go full time, which i do for the last 7 months.
Sum of Start Up:
I also do photography, SEO, maintenance and promotions myself. Packing, including a handwritten note is done in house by me. I also run for the last 2 years a Style/Review Blog and a recently started YouTube Channel. More later.
Current Situation
Let's start with the important stuff everybody wants to read. As mentioned, I have quite a healthy margin on my products. I currently carry physically 3 Brands:
and a few more MTO/MTM brands that I don't need stock of. I included a link to each collection so you can see the differences between each brand/looks etc. If inappropriate, let me know and I will delete the links. You are most likely not my niche target, but it is important to showcase what I do.
The bulk of my sales (90-95%) comes from the first Portuguese value brand. They are great people to work with and deliver a great product for the price. I was their customer before, so for me to quit my job and start with them was a testament to how much I believed in them.
My initial projection for the year 2020 (Jan to Dec) was $100000 however I shattered it already in April, increasing my projection to $300000. I am however a very ambitious person and never satisfied. My advice is to set the bar as high as you can. So my current goal is $500000 in sales for the year.
In retrospective, I have sold 673 pairs of shoes for a combined gross revenue of $265000 with a 14.5% return customer rate. For comparison, $170000 of that came in the last 6.5 months. My conversion is not as great down to 0.45% but I am working on it, plus I am advertising to increase my traffic, awareness and reach at the moment. I have developed a strong following of return buyers and word is that I offer the best prices and best service they have dealt with. 90% of my customers are in the USA. It's very appealing since they don't pay VAT or import taxes under $800 and shipping is free.
My goal for next year is to bring $2000000 in revenue and start getting paid properly as a lot goes back into the company right now, plus my mom's got cancer so I pay for the treatment. I will also try to hire some freelancers to help with some trivial tasks as I am burning out.
Covid hasn't affected me much as I am online, plus people looked to refresh their wardrobes after quarantine and big companies with physical stores got hammered hard. I believe whoever comes out of this crisis will come out stronger than ever before.
In the meantime, let me share my tips and lessons learned from a few different areas.
Customer Service Is KING
So here's the thing. I am not just an owner, I am a customer. I bough many shoes before and it SHOCKED me how shitty the customer service was/is in many high end shoe brands. Reaching out to ask for sizing and receiving a message 4 months later, or none at all means I won't recommend your brand anywhere and also never buy from you again.
So this was my big opportunity. I love talking and interacting with people. I never leave an email hanging in my inbox and reply as soon as I can. Sometimes at 3 am in the night. I don't care, the only thing that matters is the mission. And my mission is to be the best in the world at what I do and offer the best service you have ever seen.
Feedback is great. You know, sometimes when I spot something strange in an order, or a made to order has arrived I give a quick call to the customer. They are mostly shocked, telling me they have never had such service before. If they don't reply, a very quick email works too.
Additionally, I write a handwritten note in every box. Sometimes I include a dad joke (ex. why are there no cats on mars? Because "curiosity" killed them all), sometimes I just thank them, or tell them how to properly take care of their shoes. This will be a challenge when the numbers increase, but I have some ideas already.
TLDR: Genuinely Care for your customer, and they will be your champions and ambassadors. Got a shitty customer? Deal with it and don't be afraid to say no. I have had only a handful of customers that I never want to hear from again and I can spell their names in a heartbeat. Don't sacrifice your integrity for a few $$$.
You Can Never Prepare Everything, Be Hungry To Learn Yourself
Think you can control and prepare everything pre/post launch? Impossible. I hired the website designers and they sucked. Waste of money. So I learned how to build my own website. Shopify has limitations but it is rather intuitive. I don't know code, but I learned how to find workarounds or notice patterns.
Last week I had to deal with bugs of products not showing as "Sold Out". It took me hours and hours but I did find a way.
If you are a lazy ass and think you will make a quick buck or have the money flow in you are in for a tough ride and shouldn't be in it alltogether. The goal is to work on what you love, find partners and workers you can trust and outsource the things you don't like, so you can focus on the important parts like business growth. But it takes time.
I also learned photography and photoshop, and lightroom, and illustrator. Because I had to. A cornered fox is more dangerous than a jackal. Don't give up, fight back and the smile on your face when you manage something as simple as uploading the SVG logo in your header on your website is worth it.
TLDR: Be ready to learn. A Jack of all trades is ok but in the long run you need focus and specialization. Nobody remembers the middle wheel of a truck. Be prepared for a rough 1-2 years.
Logistics Are As Important
I worked with the local post. It was my biggest source of anxiety. God damn sometimes it took 7 days to reach the US, sometimes 1.5 month. I contacted DHL and now I ship for super prices all over the world. 1 business day to New York. Unreal. Delivered to your door.
From my engineering days, we said that in a 3D model if the data that goes in is shit, the data that goes out will be shit. Same here, if your infrastructure is terrible, then you are sabotaging your whole brand/product.
Don't Be Afraid To Negotiate
My DHL prices are great. However I reached out to them a month ago and told them about my progress. They invited me to renegotiate to a better rate after the summer.
I also called my phone provider and reduced my phone bill for the exact same data by $10 a month. That's $120 a year.
I increased my stock a lot and asked for a discount on orders, I got a 3% off big orders. It quickly adds up. But nothing would happen if I didn't chase it or ask. Do it!!!!
Attracting Investors
During my last day at Suitsupply I met by sheer luck a guy. He loved my shoes and we ended up going for a coffee. Turns out he was a big investor. We reached an agreement yesterday.
We will make something great out of this. Always be ready to pitch your brand and products, have focus and know what makes you unique. Show true enthusiasm and some knowledge. Good investors will invest in YOU not the product only. It's the difference between "doing ok" and success.
One thing to note, having investors is a partnership for the long term. If you don't trust or have a good feeling about that person, don't go into it even if you need the money.
Finding investors if you have something good is not hard, finding the correct investors is. Always be prepared!
Notice What Competitors Do & Do It Better
Cliche I know, but find something you can do better and you already have a head start. For me customer service was one thing and the other was photography. Now, I am by no means a pro but when I went to a shop that sells my shoes and I couldn't see what color the shoes truly are, It means I would never buy. All of them have those annoying product photos with fake light. Well, I take my pics outside in the real world in natural light and conditions.
There's always something to improve in the formula, even if it's tiny.
Invest In Yourself
I don't pay myself right now apart from the basics. However, I do spend $700 a month right now for a personal trainer. It's worth every penny for me. It keeps me sharp, healthy and looking/feeling good. Working in the office made me a "fat blob" as I sank in my ridiculous cubicle looking at excel sheets and slowly dying by the day.
Keep learning, keep growing and find some time for yourself. Otherwise you will burn out.
Social Media Is Important But Sucks Ass
Everything these days is pay to win. You are more often than not not going to drive any sales organically. I have 25K followers on IG but most of those who follow can't afford my shoes. What it IS important for though is BRAND EXPOSURE. Be consistent and be active. It is a time pit though so if and when you can outsource it.
Don't bother with influencers or anyone that calls themselves this. They won't net you a dollar. Instead, look for small niche people like I did on YouTube etc specializing in your field. If you are truly big then you can work with brand ambassadors but don't waste your money. Those mongrels can't even spell a sentence right or pitch their products. I charge influencers 50% more when they ask for free stuff.
I gave a total of 3 pairs of shoes to a 8k subscriber guy on YouTube and he has netted me $50000 in return. Laser Focus over quantity.
Build A Community
It all started for me 2 years ago with a blog about style and shoes (Misiu Academy). It allowed me to build a small audience so when I launched my shop I already had some buyers/preorders.
I now also launched my YouTube channel 2 months ago as visuals are important in such industries.
It's a hobby for now but it will help me learn a lot. You don't need such things, but if you have laid the foundation, your growth can be much quicker.
Paid Advertising
It varies from each industry. Most of you can do the Google Ads by yourselves. Their interface is unbelievably bad, but don't waste too much money on it.
The real conversion seems to be on Facebook and Instagram. HOWEVER. Don't do it by yourselves unless you are a pro. Otherwise it is a colossal money pit. Finding a good agency is super tough and you need to be prepared to spend to make money.
I would focus 20-30% on Google and the rest on FB/IG depending on industry. I currently spend about $5000 on ads in total. Crunch the numbers based on profit and spend/roi to figure out if you are actually making/losing/breaking even.
Also, if you thought that you will hire an agency and then they do all the work...reconsider. You have to be on top of things as very rarely they will get your brand message correctly. In one of the test ads a guy sent me a template that had my shoes and the moto "keep slayin". Not even joking. I died inside a bit. Be active and review everything initially until you are on auto pilot.
Future?
Always plan two steps ahead so you never end up one step back. If that makes any sense. I am hungry for success and improvement. Currently I am changing my company to an LLC and will apply for a bigger credit line for safety with my bank.
I plan to delegate some social media handling, find better storage and optimize my marketing.
Sorry, it was a long post and I got a little tired so I will write a little less now :)
Do It, But Be Prepared
It is worth to take the plunge only to do something you enjoy. You don't need passion, passion disappears after a while. Going all in without any plan however is a surefire way to fail for most of us. Don't see problems, see opportunities and challenges.
Because the sense of freedom, financial security, financial independence and not being anyone's puppets, while giving people a smile and making their day is worth every penny.
I work around 100-110 hours a week now. It is not easy, I am almost burnt out but I know that in the next 6 months I can take a lot off my shoulders. I do have the blog/youtube however so it doesn't mean you are going to do that much. But the more time and effort you are willing to spend, the bigger rewards you will reap.
I hope it was ok to post this and I hope you enjoyed a first timer's/amateur's adventures over the course of 13 months.
I will be more than happy to answer any questions or just discuss with you.
Best, Kostas
submitted by methanol88 to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

[OC] The Chicago Bulls rebuild imploded again this year. How can they pick up the pieces and make it better next time?

As we continue to wait for real basketball to happen (or not?), it may be a good time to monitor teams that will definitely be missing out on all the playoff bubble hijinks.
Here's a look at the CHICAGO BULLS, with a special shoutout to true Bulls' fans like celsius_two_3_two for helping me review the content.
PART ONE: From Playoff Challenger to Challenger space shuttle
Like any proper degenerate, I like to make a few Las Vegas "oveunder" bets before the season (note: don't try it at home, it's usually a waste of time and money.)
Still, a few win totals jumped out at me. Among them: the Chicago Bulls, oveunder 33.5 wins.
Now, the logical move may have been to pound the "under" here. After all, this was a team coming off two seasons with 27-55 and 22-60 records. However, I couldn't help but overthink this one. Sure, the Bulls had a very bad 2018-19 season (highlighted by Fred Hoiberg getting fired and Drill Sergeant Jim Boylen taking over). At the same time, they played better in the second half of the season. Boylen (douche or not) would presumably keep improving their defense. Moreover, Boylen and the front office were on shaky ground in terms of their job security, which usually motivates an organization to push forward and win as much as possible.
The front office clearly had that in mind as well, signing Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young to sizable $10M+ contracts. Neither are great players, or perhaps even good players, but they're solid and reliable veterans whom the team could immediately plug into a rotation. These Bulls felt deep, balanced, and perhaps ready to strike. After all, star Zach LaVine would be set to enter Year 6 in the league. Otto Porter would be entering Year 7. Some of their other "young" pieces weren't that young; for example, Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are both 26 right now.
Overall, this felt like a recipe for success. Or at least, semi-success. The Bulls were ready to take a jump. Making the playoffs may have been unrealistic, but 35-38 wins felt doable. "OVER" it is!
Flash forward nearly a year later, and I've got so much egg on my face that vegans won't even talk to me anymore. Turns out, these "new Bulls" were the "same ol' Bulls." They'll end the season with a 22-43 record, which would have put them on pace for 27.8 wins over 82 games, well under the 33.5 set by Vegas.
So what went wrong? How did this potential darkhorse run so far off the rails that it needed to get shot and turned to glue? Let's take a closer look.
PART TWO: Missing Otto Porter III + D
One of the major reasons the Chicago Bulls disappointed in 2019-20 was injuries. Center Wendell Carter missed time, and Otto Porter III barely played due to lingering hip injuries. He appeared in 14 games, and only drew 9 starts (averaging 23 minutes per game.)
On the surface, Porter shouldn't feel like a huge loss. After all, this is a player who's never averaged as much as 15 PPG in any season in his career and has never sniffed an All-Star team.
That said, the loss of Porter had a trickle down effect that hurt the team in numerous ways.
Offensively, Porter is a low-usage player who's about as efficient as anyone in the league. For his career, he shoots over 40% from three (40.4%). Better yet, he's only averaged 0.8 turnovers per game (1.1 TO per 36 minutes.) He's what you'd call a role player / assassin. He gets in, hits his target, and slips out without being noticed. Porter actually has a little more versatility to his offensive game than the average catch-and-shoot player (he can take you down on the block, for example), but most often, he's used as a spacer and he thrives in that regard. Without Porter's shooting, the Chicago Bulls' offense looked even more sluggish than usual. Their offensive rating ranked 27th out of the 30 teams in the league.
Porter's loss also showed up in other ways. Porter's not a great defender -- he's probably "above average" -- but that's still an asset to have in your lineup. He's a savvy player who's usually locked in defensively, despite one infamous Shaqtin' A Fool moment. He also has good size and length for his position at 6'8" with a 7'1" wingspan.
That size is a key element to this discussion. Porter has "plus" size as a small forward. In his absence, the Bulls struggled to fill that void with the same. They ended up shifting Zach LaVine (6'6", 6'8" wingspan) over to small forward quite a bit. LaVine played 67% of his minutes at SF this past season according to basketball-reference. You can take those positional play-by-plays with a grain of salt because it's not easy to track and label, but that's still a notable difference in terms of the roster composition. The Bulls were smaller than average at SF, and smaller than average at SG with rookie Coby White (6'4", 6'5" wingspan) playing the majority of his minutes there.
The natural follow up to this may be: so what? Even with those size limitations, Jim Boylen's Bulls still finished with the 14th best defense (up from 25 last year.) However, the lack of size on the wings helped contribute to the Bulls' problems on the glass. They finished 30th (out of 30 teams) in total defensive rebounds, and 28th in rebounding differential (-3.6 per game). Using rebounding totals isn't always the best metric to use because bad teams miss more shots (and thus allow their opponents more rebounds). However, if you dig deeper, the numbers still aren't pretty. The Bulls' grabbed 75.6% of their potential defensive rebounds -- 5th worst in the league. Overall, they grabbed 47.9% of all potential rebounds -- 2nd worst in the league. "Rebounds" may be not be an en vogue stat in general, but it's a weakness that still hurt the team at the margins. When you're a mid-level team, those extra few possessions per game could mean the difference between a win and a loss.
The good news? Porter will likely be back and healthy next season. The bad news? He's not cheap. He'll almost certainly pick up his oversized $28M player option. In another circumstance, he may try to rip it up and renegotiate a long-term deal with the Bulls or another team instead, but the murkiness around the cap and around his health makes that too difficult to imagine. Barring a trade, he'll be back with the Bulls next year, and will help the team win a few more games.
PART THREE: Misusing their offensive weapons
The Chicago Bulls are a young team, built around young stars like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Both LaVine and Markkanen have some limitations overall, but they're both gifted offensive players. So given that, how is it that the team only finished 27th in offensive efficiency?
In terms of the national media, a lot of the blame tends to fall on Zach LaVine. After some inefficient play early on in his career, the narrative has stuck that LaVine is an "empty calorie" or "volume" scorer. However, the results on the court don't really justify that anymore. Sure, LaVine shoots a lot, but he doesn't take as many bad shots as you may expect. He takes 8.1 threes per game (and makes an above-average 38%). He takes 5.6 free throw attempts per game (making 82% for his career.) Overall, that's a winning formula. LaVine's efficiency and true shooting is above league-average, no small feat for a player averaging 25.5 points per game this year. You'd like to see him hammer his way to the line even more, but he's not the problem for this team (offensively.)
Meanwhile, Markkanen has some work to do. For a 7-footer, he's a gifted shooter. He shot 42.3% from three in college (and even flirted with 50% early in the season.) He carried that success over to the NBA for his first two years, netting over 36% from three each year. His results at the free throw line (84% then 87% as a second-year player) illustrated his potential to keep improving from there. 7-footers tend to get labeled as "stretch bigs" if they can get anywhere over 30% from three; Markkanen has the potential to get closer to 40%.
However, that leap didn't happen in Year 3. Markkanen sagged to 34.4% from three, and "only" 82.4% from the free-throw line. But those percentages aren't what bothers me. Percentages will go up and down over smaller sample sizes like that. What's more concerning is how Markkanen's role shrunk offensively. After averaging 15.3 field goal attempts last season, he slipped down to 11.8 attempts this season per game. Even if you account for a few less minutes, he dropped from 17 FGA to 14 FGA in terms of "per 36" numbers.
As mentioned, Markkanen is an offensive player. He's a shooter. I'm no coaching genius (and neither is Jim Boylen apparently), but I'd encourage a shooter to SHOOT. Because if Markkanen isn't a focal point of your offensive attack, then he's not doing much good for your team. He's not a good defender -- he's not a good rebounder. This is like the Justice League sending Aquaman off to the find evil aliens in the desert; we're misusing his talents here, people.
Practically speaking, the next Bulls' coach needs to rethink the approach with Markkanen. Personally, I believe he has more in the tank offensively than he's been allowed to show so far. Maybe he's not Dirk Nowtizki, but he's still an extraordinary talent as a shooter for his size; I'd make a point of funneling him the ball. And if the problem is that he's getting marginalized by ball-dominant LaVine, then Markkanen should come off the bench as a 6th man scorer instead. He needs to be an offensive priority whenever he's in the game. And consequently, a better offensive philosophy and system needs to be installed in order to allow that to happen.
PART FOUR: Natural growing pains
When the Chicago Bulls' playoff chances slipped away, Jim Boylen and the front office finally unleashed their rookie, Coby White.
White took advantage of that greenlight and turned up the gas as a scorer. He'll end the season with a modest 13.2 points per game, but that undersells his impact as a scorer. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 18.5 points per game. That trended upwards over the course of the season as well. White averaged over 20 points per game in February and March (albeit over a limited 14 game size.) If White can do that as a 20-year-old rookie, then it's fair to suggest that he could be routinely scoring over 20 PPG in his prime.
While Coby White has some obvious virtues -- highlighted by his quickness and his cool hair -- there are some natural concerns and growing pains that he showed. He scored, but he didn't necessarily do that with efficiency. He shot only 39.4% from the field, and netted only a 50.6 true shooting percentage that's well below the league average.
Defensively, White also struggled. Playing "up" at SG for 71% of his minutes (and even at SF for 17%!), White's limited size and limited experience showed. ESPN's real/plus minus metric graded him as -1.9 impact per 100 possessions. If you wanted to count White as a point guard, that would rank 89th best (out of 94 qualifiers.) If you envision him as a shooting guard, that would rank 134th (out of 137 qualifiers.)
That debate -- is Coby White a point guard or shooting guard? -- is an important one. Sure, we're in an era of "position-less" basketball to some extent, but players still have certain roles offensively and certain assignments defensively. White's limited size and length (6'5" wingspan) projects best as a point guard. However, he's more of a scorer than a natural distributor. He only averaged 3.8 assists per 36 minutes this season, not far removed from the 5.2 assists per 36 minutes he averaged back in college at UNC. His playmaking can improve, but he's more of an attack dog by nature.
This combination of strengths and weaknesses makes you wonder about the long-term fit next to Zach LaVine. If the Bulls' long-term plan is to play White at SG and LaVine at SF, then they're always going to be behind the eight-ball in terms of length and rebounding (especially with Lauri Markkanen at the 4.) If their plan is to start White as a point guard, then they're going to have to rely on LaVine to be more of a lead facilitator, or on the entire team to adopt more of a ball-moving offense 1-5.
Most realistically, White projects best as a super-scorer off the bench, a la Lou Williams. To excel in that role, he'll need to continue to draw more free throws (he was at only 2.0 FTA per game as a rookie), but the potential is there to improve his shot selection and become a big-time scorer. Staggering White and LaVine would also allow them to be aggressive as scorers without stepping on each other's toes.
PART FIVE: Done with Dunn?
The other reason that it'll be important for the new Bulls' coach and front office to devise a long-term plan for Coby White is because it will affect other decisions on the roster. Among them: the fate of Kris Dunn.
Like Coby White, Dunn has some extreme strengths and weaknesses -- they just happen to be in opposite order. He EXCELS defensively. He has a big frame (6'9" wingspan) and natural instincts on that end. He nabbed 2.0 steals this season in only 24.9 minutes of action. A lot of times, "steals" can be misleading because they amount to gambling. For Dunn, it's more reflective of his actual talent. He has extremely quick hands; he could have made a lot of money as a gunslinger back in the Old West. In some ways, he reminds you of Andre Iguodala on the ball defensively, combining length, strength, and savvy.
The rest of Dunn's game is a mixed bag. He's not a bad distributor (averaging 6.0 assists in both 2017-18 and 2018-19), but he's a poor shooter. He's also had injury issues flare up over the course of his career. As mentioned, he's already 26 years old, so it's unrealistic to expect him to become a wholly different player in the next few years. With Kris Dunn, you mostly know what you're getting to get. So the question is: do you want it or not?
The Bulls will have to make that choice this offseason, as Dunn enters his (restricted) free agency. There's a chance that COVID will infect the cap and allow them to retain him on his one-year qualified offer of $7M. Alternatively, there's a chance that another team will swoop him and sign him to an offer sheet. He'd make some sense for a team like the Detroit Pistons, who could invest in him as an heir apparent to Derrick Rose at PG. If a team like that offers Dunn a deal in the 3 year, $8-10M per year range, will the Bulls match it? TBD.
Again, a lot depends on their views regarding Coby White. If they envision White as a future starter at PG, then there's less of a need for Kris Dunn. The Bulls would be able to start White at PG as soon as next year, with Tomas Satoransky as a combo guard off the bench and Ryan Arcidiacono serving as a third point guard and insurance policy. If the team envisions Coby White as a SG (or combo guard off the bench) then there's more of a need for Kris Dunn to platoon with Satoransky as a lead guard.
This game of musical chairs may be getting more crowded, because there's also another element at play: yet-another lottery pick.
PART SIX: Drafting some Help
Currently, the Chicago Bulls are slated in the # 7 position in terms of the NBA Draft order. They have a 9% chance of moving up to # 1, and a 32% chance of moving into the top 4. If they can make that leap, then that would mean adding another potential star to the fold. It's not a strong draft by any stretch, but SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia) and C James Wiseman (Memphis) have the potential to be good starters. If they can land someone like that, you ignore "fit", take the potential stud, and work out the rest later.
More likely, the Bulls will be picking in that 7-8 range. That's still a good pick, of course, but not one that should cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore the composition and needs of your team.
Again, this is why the "Do the Bulls need a PG?" question becomes so critical. This is a poor draft, but it's strongest in terms of its point guard depth. According to ESPN's draft experts, 5 of the top 13 prospects are point guards (LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony). A few of those -- namely Hayes and Anthony -- are "pure" point guards who don't have enough size to switch around and play minutes at the 2.
Among the crop that's likely to be available around pick 7, here are some potential fits.
PG TYRESE HALIBURTON, IOWA STATE (# 8 on espn). Haliburton is one of the easiest "fits" for the Bulls and for basically every team, because he offers a versatile set of skills. He's technically a point guard (averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 assists last year) and can capably fill that role. Better still, he can be effectively off the ball. His three-point shot looks a little wonky, but he converts it well, hitting 42.6% of his threes in college. Defensively he's got good size (6'5" with a 6'10" wingspan) and instincts (2.5 steals, 1.3 fouls last year). In a sense, Haliburton can be a "3 + D" point guard that plays alongside a ball-dominant player, be it Zach LaVine or Coby White. If the team drafts him, you figure it'd be with the intention of using him as an upgrade on Dunn (slightly worse defense but better offense.)
SG DEVIN VASSELL, FLORIDA STATE (# 16 on espn). Like Haliburton, Devin Vassell is another player who could fit well on virtually every team because of his 3+D potential. He's hit 41.7% of his threes in his two years at FSU with a good-looking form that's aided by good size for his position and a higher release than Haliburton. Right now, Vassell is listed around 6'6" with an estimated 6'10" wingspan, but he looks bigger than that to my eye. That's crucial because it would allow him to play both SG and SF and draw some different assignments defensively. I also like Vassell's personality off the court; he seems like a good kid that should continue to improve. Like Haliburton, Vassell is the type of player that should easily into a lineup with LaVine and/or White.
SF DENI AVDIJA, ISRAEL (# 5 on espn). I'm not going to pretend to have as much confidence in my projection of Avdija, who's played in the international youth circuit and has been a rising star with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Based on what I do know, he could be an intriguing boom/bust pick around # 7. He's a big forward (6'9") who can convert inside, and better yet, has a real knack for playmaking. The Bulls' young stars -- Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen -- are all better scorers than passers right now, so perhaps Avdija can operate as a de facto point forward and help the offense click into place. Right now, his shooting results have been shaky though, so he's not someone you can just throw out there and tell to stand in the corner as a 3+D option. If you take him, you need an actual plan to highlight his skill set. The Bulls' top exec Arturas Karnisovas is from Lithuania originally, so you presume that he'd have no qualms about selecting an European like Avdija (whose dad is Serbian) if need be. Of course, that logic didn't quite work out for Sacramento GM Vlade Divac and Luka Doncic.
SHAKIER FITS. Alternatively, there are some players in the Bulls' draft range that may not be ideal fits. As mentioned, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony are more of traditional ball-dominant point guards; I don't love the idea of that next to Coby White and Zach LaVine. I'd also be wary of Dayton's PF Obi Toppin. Toppin has strong scoring potential with a decent shot and good athleticism inside. That said, he's a little stiff in the hips defensively, and may duplicate Lauri Markkanen in that regard.
PART SEVEN: Buh-Buh Boylen
One of the Chicago Bulls' biggest decisions will be among their first. Technically, the new front office has not fired coach Jim Boylen yet, but it appears that his clock is ticking on that decision. It's only a matter of time.
Candidly, Boylen gets too harsh of a rap from national media and fans. He's not a complete asshat. He's had success as a defensive assistant in the past, and did help the Bulls' defense improve some over the past few years. He'd be a fine assistant coach somewhere in that limited capacity.
However, he does seem woefully out of his depth as a head coach. He's never had success in that role before, and he didn't have any now. His offensive system is virtually nonexistent, and his attitude is boarish. Usually those "Drill Sergeant" coaches get a short-term year or two of improvement from a young team, but he couldn't even do that. We need to pull him out of there before there's a full-on Full Metal Jacket rebellion here.
Looking ahead, the Bulls need to pick a coach that can get the team back on track, especially in terms of their offensive philosophy. That said, the Bulls have to be careful not to "zigzag" too much in their coaching hires. They went from Tom Thibodeau (the gruff, defensive-heavy coach) to the Anti-Thibodeau in Fred Hoiberg (likable, low-key former player), and then jumped on the seesaw again with the complete opposite in Boylen. There's always a tendency to go for the opposite of your last coach, but presumably there's a happy medium in between these two poles. Goldilocks was happy to find something "just right," so Karnisovas should be as well.
According to media reports, Ime Udoka is a top candidate, and would be a natural fit. While Udoka doesn't have head coaching experience yet, he's about as "ready" as any first-time coach would be. He's a former player, and a long-time assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio (and now has worked the last year in Philadelphia.) The Spurs' philosophy is an ideal template for the Bulls to use, both in terms of their offensive ball movement and their locker room culture.
I'd also recommend Kenny Atkinson as a viable candidate. He didn't mesh with the new superstars in Brooklyn, but he'd done a great job prior to that in terms of rebuilding a broken Brooklyn team. He specializes in pace and space offense, and player development. That sounds ideal for this team right now.
There are a few other candidates out there that would be worth interviews (Chris Finch, Wes Unseld Jr., Chris Fleming, Nate Tibbetts, Alex Jensen, Dave Joerger, etc) but Udoka and Atkinson represent a very solid top two. Hiring either of them would be a great first step for this new administration.
TL;DR
The Chicago Bulls' "breakout" didn't happen; instead, they broke down. However, the foundation isn't bad here. If the new front office wants to push for the playoffs next year (manifested by keeping Otto Porter and continuing to play veterans) then it's not unrealistic that they can get up to 35-40 wins with better health and a better offensive system. Conversely, the team may decide they're further away than that, and take a step back to collect their bearings.
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nbadiscussion [link] [comments]

Landscaping business from 0 to 23k service appointments in 4 years

EDIT: I posted this on Entrepreneur couple weeks ago. It seems to be quite helpful to some. I'll try my luck here. Hope you find it helpful too.
This post is mostly for those who’re thinking about starting a landscaping business. If you have one, there may still be some values in it.
Industry
$99B on lawn care spend in 2019. Average ~$800 annual spend per household. Over 500k landscaping businesses in the US, over a million workers.
Why & What
We started a yard care business (southwest US) 4.5 years ago because we couldn’t find one that’d pick up our calls, or show up to see our yard, let alone do the work. Got frustrated and decided to build a business for it. We wanted to make the process of hiring a landscaper easier, so we built a website to let people book lawn service online. They search their address, see the instant quote, and can book the service. We can change the pricing anytime with a click. The day we launched we had our first online booking. A young professional booked our first appointment and he’s still a client to this day. On the business side, when a new booking comes in, we assign our crew to a new client. Send out auto-reminders the day before the service. We built lots of features to automate the workflow (scheduling, invoicing, payment, clients, crew’s login). We have a feature to charge all houses by clicking a “Charge” button. We do 30-40 houses a day. This saves us hundreds of manual clicks. You’re building a business, not a job. Ideally, money should come in with or without you around. It won’t be 100% no involvement but you want to be as hands-off as possible. Automation is your friend. Try to automate as much as possible.
Numbers
Revenue comes mostly from recurring yard and lawn maintenance, weekly, biweekly, monthly. We had no prior landscaping experience, learn the trade on the go by tagging along with the crew. We grew to 420 recurring clients as of today. ~23,000 appointments served since launched. The instant quote, booking feature of our site really help fuels our growth. Service ranges from $40-$300+ per yard depending on how large the yard is. Plenty of add-ons services (irrigation repair, install, tree trimming, removal, planting, grass reseeding). Tree removal, installing a new irrigation system could be in the thousands. NET margin’s roughly 20%. If you apply good business practices, $500k+ annual revenue is very realistic. As for pricing your job, we use our site to set the maintenance pricing. If you don’t have that, some use hourly rate. Some quote by the job. Use what best fits you.
Hiring
This is probably generic and applies to any industry. Our first hire was our own yard guys. His brother also does work for us. He knows someone from his church. One leads to others. We now have 6 crews. We tried indeed, craigslist, have a job application page on our site. We never had luck with them. We’re lucky all our current guys are great. Very little turnover. They are the most hardworking people we know. Good crews are hard to come by. Pay them well above the average. If you had to fire someone, do it fast. It hurts all sides if you fire slowly.
Operations
Send clients service reminders at least a day before the service. Your crew should have access to all service info. Group all the houses in the same area on a specific day. It saves travel time and gas. Our maintenance service doesn’t just mow and go. We trim bushes, remove weeds on gravel (majority of yards here have rocks). Check the irrigation system, help clients set up irrigation timers. Look out for leaks, broken sprinklers (add on revenue), report to clients if you see any. They will appreciate your attention to details. Crews will forget gate code, when they ask, tell them, don’t let them wait. Your job is to make their job easier. Clients will have special requests, how much to remove this bush, how much to trim this tree. Get the quote out asap, best to do that on the same day of maintenance. Crews may miss things. Forget to trim a shrub, left the debris at the corner. You need to be ready to fix the mistake, put out the “fire”. Maintain good communications, always. New leads will call to ask you to come out to see the yard, we direct them to our website that has an instant quote or have them send you the most recent photos (not the photos on Zillow that’s 6 months ago), if they want an accurate quote. If mowing only, you can ask how tall the grass is in inches, go to findlotsize.com to measure the area. You can give them some rough estimates that way. You will get one-time cleanups often, try to turn them into recurring maintenance. We charge more on the one-time service and discount the first service if they sign up for maintenance. We tell the clients something like this:
There's no contract on the maintenance service, you can cancel at any time. However, if cancel right after the first service and before the next maintenance service. The difference between the one-time service ($300) and the discounted first service ($250), will be charged.” *Maintenance $50.*
Clients cancellation
Ask them why anything not happy with. Don’t make the same mistakes if you’re in the wrong. Many clients won’t tell you unless you ask. If they move, make sure to let them know to leave your number to the new owner. Ask them to leave you a review if they haven’t yet. Many new owners end up signing up with us.
Problems
Stolen tools. We’ve had $600 blowers, $800 lawnmowers stolen multiple times. Need to lock them in the trailers.
Our city doesn’t rain much. If it did, we had to reschedule that day’s appointments. Fixing an irrigation leak could take much longer than expected. Finding the source is much harder than fixing it sometimes. This will mess up the day’s schedule. Rescheduling could be a mess just to check what days to reschedule to. Notifying the clients, make sure they’re ok and the crew’s route is optimized so they don’t need to travel far from one yard to the next. Limit the number of houses to no more than 12-15 per 2-3-men crew daily. For any automation experts, we’d like your feedback on how to automate the rescheduling.
There’s often gravels on the lawn. We’ve broken 2 sliding door glasses, a van’s glass parked on the driveway when we weed eat the lawn. We lived up to our mistakes. Told the clients immediately and always pay for the damage in a timely manner. A sliding door glass easily runs $500 and up. Having liability insurance that has good coverage is very important.
Bad clients
We’re fortunate most are nice people, but some are absolutely unbearable. One client always wanted us to do free work. Got mad if we don’t do it even though we stated clearly what’s and not included in the maintenance. Threaten to leave us bad reviews. Fire these types of clients quickly, you won’t regret it. We do a little bit of free work here and there for clients sometimes cos we’re nice people, but a line should always be drawn, business is still business, we’re here to make money. We’ve had about 5-10 clients who straight out scammed us from not paying us (mistakes we didn’t get their cards first). All big cleanups. If it happens to you, after a few invoices, don’t spend more time on it, send them to collections. Your time should be spent on taking care of your clients, crews, and getting new business. Always in your best interest to get their credit card info. Tell them: The card info is for reserving the appointment only. It’ll be posted as a pending/authorized transaction, however, it won’t be charged until the service is completed.
Marketing
We don’t do printed ads, never printed door hangers. We do have business cards that we give out to new clients. Not a big fan of traditional marketing. Maybe we’re missing a lot though. Yelp is downright terrible. Hide good reviews and always call to get us on their ad platform. We never bite. Any bad reviews we respond professionally. Smart consumers can see who’s in the wrong. We do get Yelp's new lead message from time to time. We check the lead’s profile. If you only see 1-star reviews they give everywhere, don’t respond. Chances are, they will give you a 1-star too. Wait for a few days, yelp will email you to remind you to respond, then click don’t intend to reply. This way, it won’t hurt your response time and rate. We focus more on google review. We tried fb ads, google AdWords, thumbtack, HomeAdvisor's initially. Never had good results. You must set up your GMB and Bing business page. Add photos, posts regularly. Use their analytics to narrow down the search keywords. Use them to optimize your site SEO. Our site traffic and people calling are mostly organic search through google. Send an auto email to clients after each service with a simple review link at the end to increase the number of reviews. We have some CRM in place though not systematically. We have thousands of old and existing clients in our database. Trees need trimming once a year; lawn needs fertilizer regularly. Reach out to them. More reason to have repeated clients than a one-off. You should have add-on business regularly either you reach out to them or they ask for it. You need a CRM plan if you want to grow to the next level.
Social Media
We’re present, but not active as in having daily scheduled posts. It’s very time-consuming to post, follow others, be engaging, just to hope others will retweet/share or follow back. We aren’t sure how much more effort we should put into it. Currently, no ad spend. We’re open to it. Just need a plan. If you’re spending $$ on ads, good to know your client segments so you can target them.
Templates
We have many message templates for generic questions, to save time communicating with leads and clients.
Examples: “If you have recent photos of the yard, please send them to us so we can provide a much narrower price range. Thank you!”
Please refer to our ongoing maintenance service details here for your reference. >> “link to your site’s page that describes the maintenance work”
You can see some of our work here for your reference. “Link to your photo gallery or IG page of your work photos.”
These are some irrigation, tree trimming work of ours for your reference. “Links to your photo gallery”
You can also login here to view the service schedule and details. Thanks. “Link to the client login page.”
Refer to your friend and family to get a 10.0% discount on your next appointment if they book with us. >> link to your referral page <<
We have a few spreadsheets we created to calculate fertilizer, weed/feed, new sod, reseeding price. Plug in the area, give you a price. This makes it quick to send estimates.
Final take away
Anyone can start a landscaping business. You don’t need to have much knowledge or invest thousands of dollars to start. We didn’t even have a truck, a lawnmower when we started. This (https://imgur.com/a/W0XsHuD) is what we have. You just need a system that can run your business efficiently and a crew who has the experience and know what they’re doing. Have the vision to set the business up so you’re not the one who does the labor work, instead, you’re the one who manages, markets the business. As you build up your client base, you can invest more into trucks, equipment, and hire more workers. Our model is working. We have online booking almost daily with no ad spend. it can work for you too. Focus on smaller clients instead of big HOA, commercial clients. You’ll be glad when hundreds of recurring clients constantly give you additional work. Many will say don’t start a landscaping business, it’s bottom of the barrel, you’re competing with low wage folks who charge nothing. If you are reliable and dependable, you will get business, and people are willing to pay more. Use good business ethics. People can book online on our site but there are still many prefer to call you. Pick up the calls. I can’t tell you how many times we heard on the other side of the phone saying, “OMG, you’re the first one who picked up my call!” There’s no passive income in all of these. You’re active if you want to succeed. Crew, client questions, complaints, new leads requests. It’s non-stop. Don’t low ball any quotes, don’t use words like cheap, low cost in your marketing message. Use reasonable, competitive pricing instead. If you follow good practice, your business will grow, it won’t be a candlestick growth but it will grow. It happens to us. It will work for you too.
Photo gallery:
https://imgur.com/jxz4JyT
https://imgur.com/a/c59MMiu
https://imgur.com/a/BG7eswH
Any comments, feedback, questions, let us know. Thanks!
submitted by HouseOfYards to sweatystartup [link] [comments]

[D] Comprehensive CS:GO Trade Up Contract Guide 2020

In this guide I will talk about everything you need to know about trade up contracts. Feel free to skip ahead if you have done trade up contracts before. My goal is that even if you have, you still might learn something new. This guide includes everything from barebones knowledge, up to more advanced details. Throughout the guide, I mention a few websites/programs/YouTubers, but none of this is sponsored in any way. It represents what I personally believe is best from my experiences over the past 4 years doing hundreds of trade ups.

The Basics:

Every skin is CS:GO is assigned an exterior float value as well as a quality (rarity). The float ranges for each condition are as followed:
Condition Float Range
Factory New 0.00-0.07
Minimal Wear 0.07-0.15
Field-Tested 0.15-0.38
Well-Worn 0.38-0.45
Battle-Scarred 0.45-1.00
In order to do a trade up contract, you need 10 skins of the same quality to trade up to 1 skin of the next highest quality. The potential outcomes from the trade up contract are directly related to what skins go into the contract. It does not matter which inputs from the same collection you use, so long as they are the same quality. In practice, you would choose whichever inputs cost the least amount.
Note: you cannot perform a trade up contract using 10 covert skins, as this is the highest rarity. Also, to perform a stat-trak trade up, you need 10 stat-trak skins (you cannot mix normal and stat-trak skins in a contract).

Floats Explained:

The float value of the skin you receive is directly related to what skins are used as inputs. A great tool that I use is http://csgo.exchange/collection/. This website allows you to see every skin in every collection, and more importantly their possible float values. If the desired skin you want has the full normal float range from 0-1, simply having the average floats of your 10 input skins below 0.07 will result in a Factory New skin. You do not need to have 10 Factory New skins to achieve a Factory New float, you can include Minimal Wear skins (or even Field Tested in some cases) as long as the average is below 0.07. I will talk about how to calculate the float values of skins where the range of float values is different in the next section.

Skins with Varied Float Ranges:

Some skins have float values where the minimum possible is greater than zero, and others have float values where the maximum possible value is less than 1. Some skins have both. Although the math for calculating them is largely the same, I will be showing 2 examples: 1 where the maximum float is less than 1, and another where both the minimum and maximum floats are different.
The formula for calculating what the average float you need is this (in this formula, ‘Desired’ refers to the maximum float range of the condition you want, for FN this would be 0.07, MW would be 0.15, etc).
Our 1st example, which will be useful later in the guide, is the Aug Syd Mead from the Gamma 2 case. This skin has a maximum float value of 0.8 and a minimum value of 0.00 The formula to get the average float needed for the Aug in Factory New is this. This means that you only need an average float less than 0.0875 to get the Aug in Factory New.
Our 2nd example is the AK-47 Asiimov. This skin has a maximum float value of 0.7 and a minimum float value of 0.05. The formula to get the average float needed for the AK in Factory New is this. Note that it is fairly difficult to get the AK Asiimov in FN since you need an average float less than 0.0307692…. This is the reason that the AK Asiimov is much more expensive in FN than in other conditions. It also is because Asiimov skins typically scratch easily and people are willing to pay a premium for a cleaner looking skin.

Outcomes:

To easily see what is inside every collection, we will again be using http://csgo.exchange/collection/. To illustrate an example, we will be using the Gamma 2 case pictured here since it is a fairly standard case. Say you have 10 Restricted quality skins from this collection and are about to do a trade up with them. You have 3 potential outcomes since there are 3 Classified skins in this collection. You would have a 1/3 or 33.33% chance of getting either of the 3 skins completely at random. If you want to trade up to a Covert skin from this collection using 10 Classified skins also from this collection, you would have a 1/2 or 50% chance of getting either the AK or the Famas completely at random.

Performing a Basic Trade Up:

Update: 7/4/20 Since making this guide, I have found that https://csgofloat.com/trade-up is an easier to use website than csgo.exchange and provides an EV calculation automatically. Also, one of our community members u/6matko just created another website to try to find trade-ups: https://tradeup.ninja/about
http://csgo.exchange/contract/tradeup is a great tool to test out different trade up contracts. For csgo.exchange, make sure to use the ‘New Theory’ formula to calculate the correct odds. I have marked where you need to change this option in the example’s picture below with a yellow arrow. Once you understand how the trade up works, you can move to an Excel worksheet/google sheets to make it a little less tedious than using the website (I have linked mine at the bottom of the guide).
Here is an example of what a basic trade up from Restricted to Classified would look like. Note: This is not a profitable trade up and I would not currently recommend doing it. Also, always check what the float ranges are for all of your potential outcomes before buying skins for the trade up. You can use any combination of the Restricted skins, I included 4 for the sake of the example. Some skins might be cheaper in minimal wear relative to factory new, which should play into which inputs you buy (although that is not necessarily the case for this example). For the skins in the Gamma 2 collection, only 2 of the 3 Classified skins have a ‘normal’ float range- the Tec 9 and the Mp9, while the Aug has a non-normal float range that we previously calculated. I was able to achieve all Factory New outcomes while mixing in 4 Minimal Wear skins because the average float of the inputs is below 0.07. It is possible to do this with more or less MW skins, just make sure the average float is below 0.07. The float that you will receive if you get either the Tec 9 or the MP9 will be exactly equal to the average float of the skins that you input in the contract, which in this case is 0.065. The float for the Aug will be slightly lower because it has a max float less than 1.

Manipulating Outcomes:

Mixing in skins from different collections will change the number of potential outcomes that you could receive. Think of all the potential outcomes as marbles in a basket. In this example, adding a skin from the Gamma 2 collection would add 3 marbles to the basket. Adding a p2000 Amber Fade would only add 1 marble to the basket since it only has 1 possible outcome- the R8 Amber Fade. This property enables you to manipulate trade up contracts in your favor. You would do this if the skin you are using to manipulate is cheaper than the other inputs, and also has less outputs. A few good collections to use for manipulating contracts include Italy, Lake, Safehouse, Train, etc. I refer to skins from these collections as filler as the guide goes on. You can see all the potential outcomes from the collections page in csgo.exchange for yourself. Going back to our example, you would think that since there are 5 P2000s and 5 Gamma 2 skins that there is a 50% chance of getting either a skin from the Gamma 2 collection or the Dust 2 collection. This is not the case since outcomes are like marbles in the basket. Despite using 5 P2000s, you only have a 25% chance of getting the R8 (5/20 outcomes).
Mixing collections can also work against you. If your desired result only has 1 possible outcome, but the cheap inputs you use have more possible outcomes, you will have a lower chance of getting what you want. For example, this trade up does not have a 20% chance for the Gungnir, nor a 10% chance for The Prince. Because of the outcomes (think marbles in the basket) there is only a 2/17 chance of getting the Gungnir and 1/17 chance of getting The Prince. The rest of the results would be a massive loss not stonks. Be careful when selecting your filler skins to avoid doing something similar to this cough cough Sparkles.

Expected Value:

Likely the reason you are doing trade ups is to make a profit. To do this somewhat consistently, you need to understand the concept of Expected Value or EV. For a trade up to be worthwhile, the EV of doing the trade up should be greater than the cost to do it. To calculate EV, you take the probability of an event multiplied by the amount you would receive from it.
For example, going back to the Gamma 2 classified trade up. The EV of the classified skins at the time of making this guide is ($9.07 * 33% + $7.95 * 33% + $8.31 * 33%) = $8.44. This also does not take into account steam tax (roughly 13%), which you will have to pay if you sell your result back on the steam community market. The after-tax EV of this trade up is roughly ($8.44 * 0.87)= $7.34. For this trade up to be worth doing, the cost of all 10 inputs would need to be less than $7.34.
Mixing in cheap filler skins would also change the EV since the outcome you could get from using one of those is often very cheap. The reason that you would use filler skins is if you can get a higher profit from (EV - cost) than by using just 10 skins purely from the collection you want. If you do use filler skins, don’t forget to add them into the EV equation along with the probability of getting a skin from that collection.
Also, I will be using the Classified skins from the Bravo Collection to illustrate another point to consider. This collection is a great example where 2/3 of the outcomes require a much lower float than the third. You can double check the math for yourself, but to get the P2000 Ocean Foam and Awp Graphite in FN, you need an average float less than 0.583. However, to get the P90 Emerald Dragon in FN, you need an average float less than 0.0217. You can see the large discrepancy in required floats, which will inevitably lead to a higher cost of inputs and lower EV if you try to get the P90 in FN. A more viable option would be to just have a low enough float to get the P90 in FT or MW without increasing the cost of the overall contract too much relative to its EV.

How to Find Good Trade Ups:

I will not be telling you what trade ups I am currently doing in this guide, because as more people start doing trade ups, profit margins shrink or disappear. Trade ups I mention might not be viable a few months, or even a week after this guide is posted. There are currently tons of youtube videos to get started on ideas for trade ups. I personally got my start from watching McSkillet videos long before that whole incident. Currently, the most prominent (and in my opinion the best) content creator in the space is TDM_Heyzeus. You can find his youtube channel here. He has made dozens of helpful trade up guide videos and explains the minimum float required to get whatever the desired outcome is without having to do the math yourself. Now that I showed how to use the formula to calculate the required floats above, you can also double check for yourself. The only problem with having a channel that size is that the trade ups mentioned in the video often quickly become unprofitable. It is not Heyzeus’ fault, just the nature of people hungry for profit in a competitive market. The real lesson to be learned from his channel is that it gives ideas of certain types of trade ups to look for. He also preaches the value of using buy orders to maximize profits. I go into further detail on this in the next section.
Now that you have access to the collections page on csgo.exchange as well, you can start to play around and find trade ups that might be profitable for yourself. Mixing collections to manipulate outcomes can also be a good way to find profitable trade ups. I have even found 100% guaranteed profit trade ups in the past, but those are hard to come by and don’t last for very long. Happy hunting!

Using Buy Orders to get Inputs:

Placing buy orders can be a good way to get skins for cheaper, but there is no guarantee that the float value will be as low as you want/need- just something to keep in mind. You can always sell them back on the community market afterwards, although you might lose a few cents due to steam tax if the spread between buy orders and sell orders is small. What I’m getting at is that in some situations, it might just be better to buy the skins outright instead of through buy orders.
In buying directly from the market, you can also directly pick which floats of skins you buy. Instead of booting up the game and clicking inspect on every listing to find the perfect floats, there are extensions for web browsers that will automatically pull up every skin’s float. All you need to do is log into steam like you normally would, but through your web browser and then you can buy skins like you would through the steam application. The extension I use is for Google Chrome and is called CSGOFloat Market Checker. I have personally used the program for at least a year or 2 and have never had an issue. Note: you need to be in Chrome for the extension to work. Here is the link to download it for yourself.

Template For You to Use:

Here is the template for the spreadsheet I made that I use for easily keeping track of my trade ups. To use this for yourself, you need to download the file as an Excel document since Google Sheets won’t allow for simply making a copy. To work around this, you can always just upload the Excel file back to Google Sheets. I personally use Google Sheets because it automatically saves, and you can access it in more than 1 place without having to email the file to yourself or put it on a flash drive. I have included notes in some of the cells, so if you hover over them you will be able to read them. I also included a trade up that I actually did a few months ago so that you can see how the formatting should look. Feel free to copy down more rows of cells as needed. You might need to start manually adding the profit/loss cells to the running total if you copy down enough rows (I only coded for so many). You could also alter the spreadsheet to better suit your own needs if you feel there is something else I could have added or done better, but for my purposes this has done everything I need.
Thank you for reading the guide. If you liked it, be sure to upvote, save it and share with friends. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and someone including myself can try to answer them. You could also hop into our discord server to ask people there. My name in our server is ‘Babz’, but there are also plenty of others capable of helping. Just be sure to hop in the appropriate channel for your question.
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[Sealed][Draft] The Theros: Beyond Death Forcing Spike Prerelease Primer

Welcome back to another common and uncommon review from Forcing Spike! I’m JacetheOD and I’m here to prime you guys for your prerelease and first drafts of Theros: Beyond Death! As usual, this write up is done assuming you’ll be looking at the commons and uncommons yourself and wondering about a card or two, looking for another opinion. Without further pontification, let’s get started!
-WHITE-
Alseid of Life’s Bounty – I’m normally NOT in the market for 1 mana 1/1’s, even if they have lifelink. However, this one also comes with a built in counterspell! This card is great and if you have creatures to defend it will always see play.
Achon of Falling Stars – A 6 mana 4/4 flyer is going to win games, and this one brings sweet enchantments back from the graveyard. I think how good this is will depend on what it brings back, but the tension between leaving this on the battlefield and returning your best enchantment from the graveyard is going to make is a nightmare for your opponents. So long as the format isn’t too fast, this card will be great.
Banishing Light – Unconditional removal we’ve seen in the past. Take all of them and play all of them. Not much to discuss here.
The Birth of Meletis – This feels very similar to Wall of Omens to me. Obviously, we can’t draw nonland cards and we won’t have the blocker the turn we play this, but it’s a guaranteed land, 0/4 defender, and 2 life that synergizes with our cards that care about enchantments. I think it’s great.
Captivating Unicorn – A 5 mana 4/4 is a bit below rate, but when it comes with a relevant combat ability like this one, it’s great. I can imaging having this on the battlefield and playing a meaningful enchantment (banishing light comes to mind) and also tapping down a blocker and getting a huge swing it. This will probably be a 5 drop of choice if you’re looking for one.
Commanding Presence – Ok, we made it to our first aura, and this one packs a punch! All of our auras come with their disaster scenario, but if you manage to get one or more 1/1 soldiers out of this, it’s probably worth the risk.
Dawn Evangel – This is what I like to see. A 3 mana 2/3 that mitigates the risk of our enchantment disaster scenarios. We can still get blown out by instant-speed removal spells, but this goes a long way to mitigating that cost. If you get one of these, all of your auras and small creatures go up in value a bit.
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun – This is a great card. If you want to play it early and often you need something like 10+ plains in your deck, but 2 mana for what is probably a 2/4 most of the time that gains you a meaningful amount of life over the course of the game. Sign me up!
Daybreak Chimera – Hold the phone. This creature can potentially be a 3 mana 3/3 flyer on turn 3 and will often be a 2 or 3 mana flyer on turn four. This may be white’s best common creature by an appreciable margin.
Dreadful Apathy – And here comes what is potentially white’s best common period. A 3 mana pacifism isn’t great by modern standard with all the abilities creatures tend to have, but this can exile the enchanted creature, the devotion is still going to matter, and it will synergize quite well with all of your enchantment matters spells. This card is quite good.
Favored of Iroas – I have dreams of slapping our Commanding Presence on this guy and getting in for some serious gravy. This card will be quite good if you have enough enchantments to play, and a gray ogre if you don’t. Given the density of enchantments in the set, it will likely be on most of the time it matters.
Flicker of Fate – Being able to flicker your auras and move them, save a creature from a removal spell, reset a saga, or trigger all of your constellation abilities is going to make this card QUITE good.
Glory Bearers – This card is probably quite a bit better than it looks. A 4 mana 3/4 in white is mediocre, but this one makes all of your creatures much more likely to survive combat. Being an enchantment brings more to the table here, too. I think I’ll play this more often than I don’t.
Heliod’s Pilgrim – The value of this card boils down to the power of the aura it fetches. If you have a game-winning bomb aura this is great. I don’t recommend playing this when your auras are mediocre.
Heliod’s Punishment – This is an arrest variant that lasts for four turns. That seems like enough to break a game and seems quite good to me!
Hero of the Pride – A 2 mana 2/2 with heroic. This looks like a straight C to me, and will play well in most aggressive white decks.
Hero of the Winds – This guy seems like a beast. I have a soft spot for 1/4s that are difficult to block, and this one makes all of your creatures better when you target it. I like this card quite a bit.
Indomitable Will – The combat trick that plays into the theme of the set. I imagine you’ll play the first one of these QUITE often, but extras will be underwhelming.
Karametra’s Blessing – A giant growth variant that again mitigates the fragility of auras and enchantment creatures. You can’t ask for much more for a single mana.
Lagonna-Band Storyteller – This card is great so long as it has a target! Even if it gets back something like Indomitable Will, I’ll be happy to cast this.
Leonin of the Lost Pride – This seems like a sideboard card against powerful escape cards, or just a 2 mana 3/1 if you need it.
Nyxbourn Courser – A 3 mana 2/4 that pushes your devotion and enchantment count will probably see quite a bit of play.
Omen of the Sun – This Raise the Alarm variant seems ok to me if it’s triggering your constellation cards. Then it boosts your devotion and can be sacrificed to dig. I think this will mean most when all of the parts of the card matter, and less when you’re just getting 2 1/1 creatures.
Phalanx Tactics – This seems like a great combat trick to me. Using this on your Hero of the Winds seems like a way to live the dream. For 2 mana, this is a pretty good combat trick.
Pious Wayfarer – This is probably better in an aggressive deck. I’d sideboard this in against opposing X/1s, but I don’t think this is worth starting unless your are REALLY in the market for 1 drops.
Reverent Hoplite – I feel like this needs to make 3 1/1s to be worth it, and that’s going to be relatively easy since it brings one devotion to the table. If you’re heavy in white, this card is great!
Revoke Existence – This will be MUCH better than disenchant usually is, and is definitely worth at least ONE main deck slot in this format.
Rumbling Sentry – Kind of a C-, just a defensive 5 drop that is very replaceable.
Sentinel’s Eyes – Being able to bring this back for a paltry 1 mana is going to make this card much better than it seems. I’m sure I’ll find myself always playing the first one. These fall off quite quickly in multiples as you need to have cards to exile.
Sunmane Pegasus – As a 4 mana 2/3 flyer it would be playable, and we can give it vigilance and lifelink to boot, increasing the power of any auras we’ve attached to it. I like this 4 drop quite a bit.
Transcendent Envoy – This will be a key common in most of the white decks that rely on auras to perform above rate. An enchantment itself, this card will slot into just about all of the white decks and be taken early, often.
Triumphant Surge – This might be worth a main-deck slot, especially with auras powering up creatures as much as I think they might, but if you don’t see targets or the format plays out differently, I can see this being boarded out often or just moving to the sideboard to start.
TLDR WHITE: Aggressive with a strong constellation/aura/devotion theme. It may even be aggressive enough to be worth playing!
-BLUE-
Alirios, Enraptured – This seems like a creative way to get a 3/2 and keep your devotion count up when it dies. If you get to untap the 2/3, it gets to block as well. I’m a fan of this creative design, and I think it will play quite well.
Brine Giant – We finally get to our “Affinity for Enchantments” vanilla creature. I feel like this card will often cost 5 or 6 mana, which is mediocre, but is great if you can cast it for 4 or less. It’s playability rests on your enchantment density.
Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea – This is everything I want in my 3 drops. This will often be a 3 mana 3/3 that gets stronger with each permanent you play and puts a soft shield up on all of your creatures and enchantments, while also contributing 2 to your blue devotion count when it matters. I LOVE this card.
Chain to Memory – This is a bit of a flavor fail. I don’t know many chains that last until the end of the current turn. This card seems like a dud to me.
Deny the Divine – A cancel variant that exiles. Unfortuantely, this doesn’t counter removal spells. This seems like an OK sideboard card, but I wouldn’t start this most of the time.
Eidolon of Philosophy – I like this card as an innocuous 1 devotion enchantment that can be cashed in when you get to the late game. I think I will play this more than expected.
Elite Instructor – A 3 mana 2/2 that loots is going to be great at making your fourth land drop and fueling your escape cards. This will be a premium blue common.
Glimpse of Freedom – Think twice this is not. This seems like a dud to me.
Ichthyomorphosis – blue removal that powers devotion. I’m in!
Medomai’s Prophecy – this is VERY close to a scry 2, draw 2, peek 2 for just 2 mana! So long as you aren’t under pressure, this card will be great. I like this quite a bit!
Memory Drain – 4 mana counterspells are not usually where I want to be. I’m off this.
Naiad of Hidden Coves – This seems like more of a constructed plant, but enough of these may make your mediocre instants worth playing, and a 3 mana 2/3 enchantment creature is probably worth it enough. This may be begrudgingly playable, but I like my 3 mana 2/3s to have better abilities than this.
Nyxborn Seaguard – These enchantment creatures with CC in their casting cost look like they can potentially pull so much weight, contributing to devotion and constellation. As a 2/5 for 4 it’s a D, but these other aspects of this card probably make it a C.
Omen of the Sea – This seems good to me. Instant speed scry 2 draw 1 that you can turn in for another scry 2 later if you don’t need the devotion seems pretty good so long as the enchantment and/or devotion matter.
One with the Stars – This is basically a blue pacifism for 4, but if I’m playing blue I’m willing to pay these taxes. This card seems pretty good.
Riptide Turtle – If you are in the market for defensive 2 drops, this is a pretty good one. This shuts down most ground attackers and I think will see play in most blue decks no matter what.
Sage of Mysteries – I only want this if I have multiple escape cards to fuel with it. Otherwise, this is a brick.
Sea God’s Scorn – The 6 mana bounce 3 is usually a great top end for tempo-based blue decks. There will be times when you want this and time when you don’t, but you generally want this card in a more aggressive deck, because it really underperforms when you’re behind.
Shimmerwing Chimera – This card is GREAT. Unlike the normal templating of this type of card, this one won’t return itself to your hand, which means your free to cast your Omens or trigger your constellation permanents again and again. It’s also a Fighting Drake with the Enchantment card type. This card is sweet.
Shoal Kraken – This is my kind of constellation card. If you trigger this once, it was good enough and each trigger after is gravy.
Sleep of the Dead – This will be a reasonable card in aggressive blue decks and pretty bad otherwise.
Starlit Mantle – I like this design quite a bit. Being able to end step this or counter a removal spell is clutch. I’ll probably always play the first one of these.
Stern Dismissal – Being able to bounce and enchanted creature is the dream here. In aggressive blue decks that want bounce spells, this will be pretty good.
Stinging Lionfish – Blue seems to want you to play cards on your opponents turn to some degree, and I could see this working well with stern dismissal. It’s also an enchantment and has 2 power. A role player in the aggressive blue decks for sure.
Sweet Oblivion – If you get one of these, I think you want to target yourself looking for escape cards more than targeting your opponent, but I’m sure there is a defensive blue deck that wins with this. Please send me the screenshot!
Thirst for Meaning – This seems like one of the best blue commons. There will almost surely be an enchantment to discard, and an instant speed draw three pitch one for 3 mana is very, very good.
Threnody Singer – This will allow you to ambush and double block some very big threats, blowing your opponent out by ruining critical combat steps. This card is very good.
Towering-Wave Mystic – You might be able to fuel your own escape cards with this, but I don’t think this is a way to win. I’m off it in general.
Triton Waverider – A 4 mana 3/3 that has flying part of the time is quite good. A very good common.
Vexing Gull – I love wind drakes, especially when they have flash. Excellent card.
Whirlwind Denial – This seems like a good limited and constructed card. Being able to counter a key spell and maybe a trigger or two seems quite good to me!
Witness of Tomorrows – A 5 mana ¾ flyer that you can use to filter draws is very good. This is one of the better 5 drops you can hope for. It’s also an enchantment!
TLDR BLUE: Midrangey and based around constellation and a small “playing cards on your opponent’s turn” subtheme. I don’t think the playing on your opponents turn theme will matter much, but the cards seem on or above rate.
-BLACK-
Agonizing Remorse – For two mana, this card is pretty good. It’s close enough to thoughtseize that I’m interested.
Aspect of Lamprey – Being a Mind Rot mitigates the potential 2 for 1 risk that comes with running auras, and if you get lifelink on an evasive creature, this can be quite good. I’d want multiple good targets before I main deck this, and I’d be quick to side it out if I see a lot of removal/bounce from my opponent.
Blight-Breath Catoblepas – Even if it costs 6, Flame-Tongue Kavu is still very good. This will commonly give -4/-4 and be one of the best black commons, I’m sure.
Cling to Dust – I’m not sure about this card. 1 mana to cycle and exile a noncreature card, or 1 mana to exile a creature and gain 3 life are both underwhelming, but having the flexibility of either mode and being able to recast it might make it good enough. I’d wager it’s much more of a sideboard card.
Discordant Piper – A 2 mana 2/1 that leaves a 0/1 body seems bad, but there might be auras to attach to the 0/1. I think this will just be an ok creature most of the time.
Drag to the Underworld – This card is bonkers. If you’re black, you will never pass this. 2 mana unconditional removal is absurd.
Elspeth’s Nightmare – If you add up the three parts, this card is borderline playable. I’d start this in the sideboard most of the time, and I don’t know how often I’d bring it in.
Enemy of Enlightenment – Holy moly. If you’re casting this for 6 your opponent’s hand is likely quite small and after this is on the battlefield they won’t be able to hold their instants or flash creatures to ambush you. Plus, it’s a 5/5 flyer. This card is as good as uncommon 6 drops get.
Final Death – Clunky unconditional removal at common is still unconditional removal at common. I’ll always play the first one of these.
Fruit of Tizerus – This looks like the black common build-around for the blue-black deck. Chipping in with flyers and then finishing your opponent off with this seems like something you might be able to do with the blue self-mill cards.
Funeral Rites – This is similar to divination, and fuels your escape cards. I think this will be good in black control decks.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel – This was an absurd common before and will be a very powerful, but less frustrating uncommon.
Grim Physician – This will be pretty good at blocking 2 toughness creatures. I like to play cards like this in aggressive black decks, and leave them out of other decks.
Hateful Eidolon – This is a very good card. Your auras remain vulnerable to instant-speed removal, but this makes it much less likely that you’ll be ruined when your enchanted creature is destroyed.
Inevitable End – This can get out of hand quickly and will almost always lead to your opponent sacrificing the creature it is attached to. Beware, there will be situations where small creatures are sacrificed while an evasive fatty beats you because this wasn’t “real” removal.
Lampad of Death’s Vigil – Without a way to make creature tokens, this is just a way to turn your chump blockers into more meaningful sacrifices. I like that this is a 1/3 and an enchantment. I think there is enough here for it to make most main decks.
Minion’s Return – This will be a blowout when it ambushes a combat that was supposed to be a trade. It also seems good with ETB effect creatures. I like this quite a bit.
Mire Triton – This card is VERY good and will be playable in every black deck.
Mire’s Grasp – Probably the best black common. I’m all about this and will play as many as I can get!
Mogis’s Favor – I can see this working well on some blue flyers, and the self-mill in that color combination makes this look a little better.
Nyxborn Marauder – The enchantment devotion vanilla creature of black. I’m sure these will be surprisingly playable.
Omen of the Dead – A raise dead that comes with devotion and future payout. If I have a creature worth getting back, I’m in for this.
Pharika’s Libation – I’m NOT a fan of edicts in limited. I’m off this.
Pharika’s Spawn – This card is awesome and dripping with value! I just said I don’t like edicts in limited, but I can’t get past the value generated by escaping this more than once.
Rage-Scarred Berserker – This will force a chump-block, but is otherwise just a 5 mana 5/4. You’ll know if you need a 5 drop, but this one is replaceable.
Scavenging Harpy – 3 mana 2 power flyer that exiles meaningful graveyard cards. Sign me up!
Soulreaper of Mogis – This is another card that will just make your chump blocks a bit better if you can’t make tokens or something, but trading your chumps for cards will feel quite good when you need it.
Temple Thief – This evasive 2/2 will probably play quite well I’ll be maindecking these in my aggressive black decks all the time.
Tymaret, Chosen from Death – Excellent black card. Again, you want 10 or so swamps to be able to cast this on turn two, and it’s exile ability is amazing. This is extremely good!
Underworld Charger – If you’re aggressive, this 3 mana 3/3 coupled to a 5 mana 5/5 is very good!
Underworld Dreams – This is a much desired reprint for constructed and not much more. I guess some controlling black decks could win with this and the devotion bonus is nice, but I’m not into this.
Venomous Hierophant – Very good 4 drop! A 4 mana 3/3 deathtouch is good, and the self-milling seems super meaningful in black.
TLDR BLACK: Controlling with good removal. A smattering of auras, constellation, aristocrats, and devotion. This color seems SOLID.
-RED-
Anaz, Hardened in the Forge – This continues the cycle of legendary enchantment creatures that I’ve been very happy with and this does not disappoint. It will often be a 3 mana 3/3 or larger and will make many satyr tokens. This card is a gem and will be picked highly, just like the others.
Arena Trickster – A 4 mana 3/3 is below rate, but if you cast a single spell on your opponent’s turn, this is a 4/4 for 4. How good this is will depend on if you can reliably make it a 4/4. This may end up working surprisingly well with Glimpse of Freedom, even though I don’t feel like that card is great. I think if you end up in the UR instant deck, you’ll play both of these happily.
Aspect of Manticore – This checks a lot of boxes: being an enchantment, triggering heroic, adding to devotion, and being castable on your opponent’s turn. If this were just an instant, I think it would be over-costed, but I think checking our other boxes makes this playable. As with all of our borderline auras we’ve gone over, don’t get blown out by casting into instant speed removal if you can avoid it.
Blood Aspiriant – Another piece of our aristocrats deck. I like that this lets you cash in small creatures or enchantments that have outlived their usefulness. This looks like a very good 2 drop in aggressive red decks.
Careless Celebrant – Any 2 drop that can kill a 4-toughness creature deserves attention. I think this card is great and I’m glad it’s uncommon because it would be OBNOXIOUS at common. Excellent card.
Dreamshaper Shaman – This card seems quite good to me. If you have some tokens or no-longer-useful nonland permanents lying around, you can cash them in for a random nonland permanent from your deck (which is better than a card that is absolutely useless). It’s also a enchantment and a 5/4. I’m a big fan and will probably play this often.
Dreamstalker Manticore – Now this is a payoff for playing on your opponent’s turn. I don’t love 3 mana 4/2’s, but this ability is EXCELLENT. Hugely important in the blue-red deck, and just good in general.
Escape Velocity – I’m not into this card unless a re-castable aura is super meaningful. This just doesn’t seem worth a card to me.
Fateful End – Premium red removal. I love it.
Final Flare – More red removal. You’ll want to make sure you have creatures to sacrifice for this.
Flummoxed Cyclops – a 4 mana 4/4 with reach that sometimes can’t block is still quite playable. I will probably find myself starting this and siding it out often.
Furious Rise – I’m not sure how I feel about this card. It’s probably better than I think it is, I just don’t like that you don’t get value when you cast it. I’m dubious, but can see this thing getting out of hand quickly.
Hero of the Games – This is a very good common. I’ve said more than once I don’t care for 3 mana 3/2’s, but when they have great abilities like this, I’m in.
Heroes of the Revel – I like that this makes a 4/4 and 1/1 and the ability powers them both up. Probably a great top end card for an aggressive “go-wide” style of deck.
Impending Doom – This seems odd to me. I do like an aura that gives +3/+3, but I don’t like the attacks each turn clause on my creature or my opponent’s creature, and I feel like it makes the potential for aura disaster even worse than usual on your own creature. I think this is quite bad unless you are EXTREMELY aggressive. I’m off this.
Incendiary Oracle – The bread and butter aggressive 2 drop for red. Looks like a straight C to me.
Infuriate – When I want combat tricks, I want them cheap and this does the job. That being said, I only ever want one or two combat tricks.
Iroas’s Blessing – I love this. 4 mana to kill a creature and power yours up. This checks many boxes. I don’t like that you can get blown out, but it may be the best red common.
Irreverent Revelers – This would be much better if there were more powerful artifacts in the set, but we’re in enchantment world. Haste isn’t even that great on a 2/2. I think this will be left in the sideboard often.
Nyxborn Brute – Our vanilla red enchantment creature. A 5 mana 7/3 that is an enchantment and increases your red devotion by 2 will probably see some play, but this is an underwhelming 5 drop.
Omen of the Forge – This will be a great, great common. I’ll be drafting and playing as many as I can get.
Oread of the Mountain’s Blaze – Another card that checks a lot of boxes. Good defensive speed, enchantment supertype, and meaningful ability. Sign me up!
Portent of Betrayal – If you can sacrifice the creature you steal, this is great. Red has two ways to sacrifice creatures at common and black has two more at common. Watch out, this might be a format where the threaten effect is pretty good!
Satyr’s Cunning – This is probably a key card for the black/red aristocrats deck, and probably mediocre otherwise since our satyr tokens wont’ be blocking. Know when you want this.
Skophos Maze-Warden – Reasonable creature, and very, very good if you get a Labarynth.
Skophos Warleader – One of the sacrifice outlets for our aristocrats deck. becoming a 5/5 with menace is no joke. I’ll probably want one of these in most of my black/red decks.
Stampede Rider – This card is very, very good. There are two 4 power commons in red and three 3 power commons that are easy to pump. Don’t ignore this one.
Thrill of Possibility – Probably a player in the blue-red instant deck. I’ve never liked that this is card neutral otherwise.
The Triumph of Anax – I can actually see this being quite powerful in a blue-red or white-red deck with lots of flyers. Just a good, aggressive saga.
Underworld Fires – Sideboard card. There are 8 X/1’s at common in the set. Four of them are in green. The other colors each have one. Sideboard this against green decks with lots of X/1’s or red decks making lots of satyr tokens.
Underworld Rage-Hound – I like this card quite a bit. A 2 mana 3/1 that attacks every turn is much more acceptable when it can come back as a 4/2.
Wrap in Flames – Might be ok in aggressive red decks. Probably just sideboard material.
TLDR RED: Aggressive with good removal at common. Usual red.
-GREEN-
The Binding of the Titans – I don’t really like that your opponent get the opportunity to escape their stuff before you get to exile it. I wouldn’t sideboard this. I’d start this if I had some good escape cards to fuel.
Chainweb Aracnir – This card is GREAT. I love spiders, and when I can get a small spider and large spider, stapled to a pair of plummets with variable efficacy, I’m in.
Destiny Spinner – Why is green so good? This almost reads like a rare to me. Thank goodness it doesn’t grant hexproof! I like this card quite a bit and I think it’s going to be making large attacking lands quite often.
Gift of Strength – Reasonable giant growth variant. Playable if you need cards like that.
Hydra’s Growth – This can get absurd quite quickly. The ceiling on this is more than worth the risk of ruin that comes with auras.
Hyrax Tower Scout – a 3 mana 3/3 than untaps a creature that just attacked is quite good. This can also untap our Alirios, Enraptured (for what that’s worth).
Ilysian Caryatid – This card is just good. 2 mana elves are excellent, and this can be even better if you’ve got ferocious turned on.
Inspire Awe – If you are DEEP in some enchantment deck, this card can be a blowout. That being said, your opponents will have quite a few auras and enchantment creatures themselves. I’d start this in the sideboard and look for an opportunity to bring it in when it can do some serious damage.
Klothys’s Design – I am going to lose to this card so much it’s unreal. This is great because it generates a situation where you opponent usually has to block, but also usually cannot do so profitably.
Loathsome Chimera – The value from these common escape creatures really piques my interest. I think this is another good one that will be picked highly.
Moss Viper – I LOVE the 1 mana 1/1 deathtouch. Especially in a land of auras. Sign me up.
Mystic Repeal – This card will play very, very well in this environment. Sign me up.
Nessian Hornbeetle – Another excellent green creature. You can’t go wrong with a 2 mana 2/2 with the potential for growth.
Nessian Wanderer – Defensive speed that helps you hit your land drops. I think you only need to hit once for this to be worth it and every other hit is just gravy.
Nexus Wardens – Speaking of defensive speed! This will block most of the flyers in the format and pad your life total generously. This should be picked highly.
Nylea’s Forerunner – This is the card I want to pair with my Klothys’s Design! Definitely playable without it.
Nulea’s Huntmaster – Reasonable vanilla test results and meaningful ability on a 4 drop. I’ll play these often.
Nyx Herald – Playing this on turn three will result in some absurdly short games. I’m all about this.
Nyxborn Colossus – Probably surprisingly playable if the GGG in the casting cost matters. Also VERY good with Nyx Herald.
Omen of the Hunt – I love that you get to rampant growth at instant speed here. I’ll play this often, I’m sure.
Pheres-Band Brawler – Excellent card. Six mana for a 4/4 that fights on entry is very good.
Plummet – Sideboard excellence.
Relentless Pursuit – Useful for fueling escape or hitting your fourth land drop.
Renata, Called to the Hunt – I don’t think I could say enough good things about this card. Super powerful.
Return to Nature – This is main-deckable in this format. Destroying meaningful enchantments and exiling escape creatures will be quite good. I wouldn’t be surprised If I’m main-decking more than one of these by the end of the format.
Setessan Petitioner – The potential to gain an absurd amount of life here is real. I’d start it most of the time.
Setessan Skirmisher – bread and butter aggressive green 2 drop. Straight C.
Setessan Training – I love that you get the card back and I love that you get trample from this. It is also quite affordable. I’ll play these.
Skola Grovedancer – This will be very good at powering escape cards, and just a bear otherwise.
Voracious Typhon – Very good common. This is both a 4 mana 4/4 and a 7 mana 7/7. The epitome of green.
Warbriar Blessing – This is the fight spell in aura form. I like that you get a toughness boost, but wish you got a power boost. Since green creatures are usually better girth on rate anyway, I’m sure this will be pretty good.
Wolfwillow Haven – Enchantment based ramp that makes an extra blocker later. I like this quite a bit.
TLDR GREEN: Midrangey with above rate creatures and lots of value generating cards.
-GOLD-
Acolyte of Affliction – Signpost green/black uncommon. Value generating 4 drops are what we want here. Great card, especially when we’re getting back a bomb.
Devourer of Memory – Signpost blue/black uncommon. This color combination seems to want to fuel escape cards and this 2 drop will be a beast at it.
Eurtopia the Twice-Favored – Signpost blue/green uncommon. This card is POWERFUL. I love the blue-green ramp into big flyers strategy and this card gets us there!
Hero of the Nyxborn – The white-red signpost uncommon. This is very aggressive, and indicative of the “go-wide” aggressive strategy in red and white.
Mischevious Chimera – This is a pretty good reward for playing at instant speed. The signpost blue-red uncommon is also an aggressive 2 mana 2/2 flyer. I’m in!
Rise to Glory – This card has a very low floor and very high ceiling. You need to have good targets for cards like this and when you don’t they’re just not good enough. That being said, returning your game-breaking fatty to the battlefield will win a LOT of games.
Siona, Captain of the Pyleas – This is very telling of the dense constellation theme in Green and White. This card also seems powerful and digs deep. If you went first, played this on turn 3, and have 4 more auras left in your deck you’re about 66% to hit. You need 6 Auras left in your deck in order to be 81% to hit. So you need a LOT of auras for this to be good (which is why it digs 7 cards). I would be wary of playing this with fewer than 5 GOOD auras. I think this will underperform often.
Slaughter-Priest of Mogis – This is a CLUTCH card for the aristocrats deck and will over-perform in it for the cost of 2 mana.
Staggering Insight – The white-blue signpost uncommon is very indicative of the aura theme in white and plays well with the flyers in blue. This is just an above-rate aura and worth playing.
Warden of the Chained – I’m glad this has 4 power, because that is the theme of red and green. Even when it can’t attack a 3 mana 4/4 defender blocks incredibly well. This card is just good.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST FOR OUR DEEPER DIVE INTO THE 2 COLOR ARCHETYPES!
-Artifact-
Altar of the Pantheon – Great card if you’re looking to splash, ramp, or increase devotion. If you’re gaining life from this, more power to you!
Bronze Sword – This is an OK turn 1 play, but an equip cost of 3 seems like a lot. I want to have a LOT of evasive or first-strike creatures if this is going to be good. I’m off it in general.
Entrancing Lyre – I love me an icy manipulator and this does a great impression. I don’t think I’d pass this except for the best cards in the set.
Mirror Shield – This is flavorful, but pretty bad. Sideboard it against deathtouch creatures (maybe).
Soul-Guide Lantern – I think this is a good sideboard card against heavy escape decks and quite bad otherwise.
Thaumaturge’s Familiar – I like this card quite a bit because it is flexibly, but it’s probably a D. A 1/3 flyer for 3 that scries 1 and can be played in any deck seems like it exists to make monocolor more possible.
Thundering Chariot – This is quite good. Being able to turn any of your creatures into a 3/3 first strike, trample, haste seems great. I guess the creatures needs at least one power, but this is limited and your creatures probably have some power.
Traveler’s Amulet – A reasonable inclusion if you’re trying to splash.
Wings of Hubris – Better than the sword or shield before it. A thrifty equip cost of 1 makes this actually pretty good, especially in green or red decks where flyers are basically nonexistent.
-LAND-
Field of Ruin – Constructed Plant.
Unknown Shores – I’d only play this in a desperate need to splash.
-TLDR CARD-BY-CARD: The set is chock-full of cards that check a LOT of boxes. Many of your cards have additional value because they are enchantments or have multiple colored mana symbols in their casting cost. I think the cycle of omens is pretty good, and the cycle of vanilla enchantment creatures with multiple colored symbols in their mana costs will be surprisingly playable. Finally, my pick for the best commons in each color are as follows:
WHITE: Revoke Existence
BLUE: Ichthyomorphosis
BLACK: Mire’s Grasp
RED: Iroas’s Blessing
GREEN: Return to Nature
I’m going out on a limb a bit by claiming the disenchant/naturalize variants are the best commons in white and green, but I think they are going to be incredibly well.
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Welcome to the “Simplified” Jungle courtesy of GO: Stadium

Before we get started, this is an attempt to distill the Jungle Cup Meta down to the central Pokémon you should be prepared to face and the matchup dynamics within this concentrated Meta. That being said, some off-Meta Pokémon are potentially viable due to unique coverages against the distilled Meta and can occasionally leverage their lesser known matchups to gain an advantage. By nature, the simplification within the Meta graphic does omit certain “checks” as we often opt to exclude close matchups (e.g. bait-dependent wins). The relationships displayed here are strictly counters, not checks.
Just like previous Meta analyses, the information displayed is a combination of real testing, PvPoke.com simulations compiled into a detailed spreadsheet generated prior to the 06.27.2019 PvPoke update (credit to Gotts for putting this together), and hours of discussions among those willing to participate in the GO: Stadium Discord Server (now over 7000 users!). This is by no means a one or two person effort and many people have contributed to the information in this post. Our analysis doesn’t stop at Discord or Reddit posts, check out the GO: Stadium Twitch channel and YouTube channel for Meta breakdowns, Silph Cup scrimmages, and collaborative efforts to expand the PvP landscape, such as livestream draft tournaments. You can also join us on Twitch Wednesday July 3rd at 8 PM EDT for an in-depth meta analysis of this infographic featuring Choostemaster and u/JRE47! Lastly, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @GOStadiumPvP to stay dialed in to all things PvP.
So let’s dive in! For the Jungle Cup, Pokémon with at least one of the following types are permitted: Bug, Grass, Normal, and Electric. Additionally, Tropius and the Burmy family have been excluded from eligibility.
L denotes a Legacy move
STAB – Same Type Attack Bonus
DPE – Damage per Energy
OHKO – One-Hit Knockout
 
— Vigoroth (and other Counter users) —
Vigoroth Counter + Body Slam + Bulldoze or Brick Break
With the banana-clad sauropod Tropius sidelined, Vigoroth is the odds-on favorite to win any rumble in the Jungle. Counter damage decimates large portions of the Meta, and Body Slam fires at an unrelenting pace often hitting for neutral STAB-boosted damage. For the most part, it even lacks true counters, the exception potentially being Heracross. The majority of its threats—such as Grass/Poison and Bug types—win by resisting Counter and dealing back neutral damage, but even some of these matchups can be tense when the HP and energy differential are shifted in Vigoroth’s favor. Altogether, this leaves Vigoroth the undisputed King of the Jungle.
Moveset Considerations:
Body Slam + Bulldoze
You’ll be using Body Slam almost exclusively, but Bulldoze can net a couple of wins such as the no-shields matchup with Kanto Raichu. Its utility though is highly situational, so you could even opt to run Body Slam alone if dust is limited.
Body Slam + Brick Break
Brick Break has dreadful DPE and, similar to Kanto Raichu, should only be used in instances where it has a +2 Effectiveness edge on Body Slam (e.g. against Alolan Golem or Magneton). Even there, however, Counter + Body Slam is often sufficient. More simply put, Body Slam is still preferred for the mirror and against other Normal types. With this in mind, Bulldoze arguably provides better coverage. See Kieng’s video for supportive analysis.
Heracross Counter + Megahorn + Close Combat or Earthquake
This brawling beetle is the hardest counter to Vigoroth in Jungle. However, its double weakness to Flying attacks could prove problematic in this Meta. Heracross also defeats Fortress, Electrics with the Rock and Steel secondary typing, Breloom, Lanturn in the 1-shield, and even Grass Pokémon if it can land a Megahorn. Close Combat provides a neutral option against Normal/Flying types in an energy advantage situation. Earthquake offers the same when pitted against the Bug/Poisons and could be helpful against Electrics in an energy-lead, shields-down scenario.
Breloom Counter + Seed Bomb + Sludge Bomb or Dynamic Punch
When compared to Heracross, Breloom has a less consistent matchup with Vigoroth. This is in part because it doesn’t resist Counter damage, but also because it’s subject to IV-determined outcomes. Breloom requires Seed Bomb to beat Vigoroth in no-shields, which is critical to its niché in Jungle. Sludge Bomb is helpful against Grass types, while Dynamic Punch provides a better Steel matchup. Breloom shares with Heracross a double weakness to Flying moves, but it also touts better matchups against Lanturn and the Raichus due to its Grass secondary typing.
 
— Ungrounded Power —
With no viable Ground threat to keep them in check, Electrics could surge to the forefront in Jungle.
Lanturn Water Gun + Thunderbolt + Hydro Pump
Despite the absence of Ground, Grass is still a concern, especially for Lanturn. In addition to covering Flying and Bug types, its bulk and Water Gun damage allow it to dominate most of the other Electrics, with only narrow losses to the Raichus in 1-shield. Lanturn mostly fears Grass types and Breloom, although it can lose to Beedrill, Heracross and Vigoroth with shields up.
Kanto Raichu Thunder Shock L + Wild Charge + Brick Break or Thunder Punch
Kanto Raichu (K-Raichu) fires off Wild Charges rapidly and utilizes Brick Break to dominate Magnezone and Magneton and gain a slight edge in the 1-shield mirror as Brick Break costs 5 less energy than Thunder Punch. It has a slightly worse matchup against Vigoroth than its Alolan form, but also benefits from having no weakness to Bug attacks. Generally, you’d rather be landing Thunder Punches if baits fail, but if the Mag Boys and the Alolan Rock Duo are prevalent then you’ll be wishing you had brought Brick Break.
Alolan Golem Rock Throw + Rock Blast + Wild Charge
Alolan Graveler Rock Throw + Rock Blast + Stone Edge
The rock-hurdling Alolan duo are more relevant than ever, here in the Jungle Meta. Rock Throw hits for neutral or Super Effective damage across nearly the entire concentrated Meta. Alolan Golem (A-Golem) and Alolan Graveler can quickly demolish Bug types and wall Noctowl and Pidgeot, but would prefer to avoid facing Lanturn, Counter users and Grass types. Wild Charge will fire slightly faster than Stone Edge in energy carryover situations, but Alolan Graveler barely flips the 1-shield Kanto Raichu matchup to a win due to its slight edge in bulk. Otherwise, they have nearly identical matchup coverages, although it’s really no contest when you compare the attack animations.
Magnezone Spark + Wild Charge + Flash Cannon
Magneton Thunder Shock L + Discharge L + Magnet Bomb
The Mag Boys are back. As the Electrics with the best Grass matchups, this polarizing duo definitely have an argument for a spot on your roster. Magnezone can even defeat Venusaur and Ivysaur in the 1-shield scenario without baiting; however, they both lose to Meganium and shielded Victreebel. Trading Grass matchups for a few Electric head-to-heads, Magnezone and Magneton rely on their hard-hitting charge moves to excel. While comparable in many respects, Magneton does better with shields and an energy lead, and Magnezone can be an exceptional closer. Notably, Magnezone wins the head-to-head with even energy.
 
— Flight Club —
— Normal Fliers —
Noctowl Wing Attack + Sky Attack + Night Shade or Psychic
Noctowl is the ultimate wingman (I wasn’t going for that one, but why not?) to Vigoroth. It covers the Bug and Grass types that stymie Vigoroth, while its slothy teammate handles the Electrics. Primarily losing to Vigoroth and Electrics, Noctowl doesn’t have much else to fear in the concentrated Meta. Noctowl can even pull out the no-shields win against Vigoroth if it hits a bulkpoint for Counter. As for moveset, Sky Attack is Noctowl’s principal source of damage with outstanding DPE and STAB. In fact, singly-resisted Sky Attack nearly matches Psychic in terms of DPE (e.g. Lanturn matchup), and is arguably the better option with shields in play. For this reason, we feel that Night Shade is the best coverage move as it also helps against the Mag Boys and Alolan Raichu; in our assessment, Psychic only appears useful against Alolan Golem or unshielded Lanturn.
Pidgeot Wing Attack L + Aerial Ace + Brave Bird
Pidgeot is a slightly inferior substitute for Noctowl. In terms of coverage, there are many parallels to Noctowl, but a few scenarios where it falls short are losing to Cradily and ties against 1-shield Yanma and a successfully baiting Beedrill. Brave Bird is the lower energy cost finishing move, but you can get an IV-dependent win against Vigoroth in no-shields with Hurricane.
— Bug Fliers —
The Bug Fliers play an important role in shutting down Vigoroth and the Grass types but lose to the Flying types and Electric types. These Pokemon can make up one of your flex or anti-Vigoroth picks and can hit hard and often with their charge moves.
Scyther Air Slash + X-Scissor + Aerial Ace
With its combination of Flying and Bug coverage, Scyther is a big threat to the Bug and Grass types that make up a large part of the Meta, while also serving as a counter to Vigoroth. Aerial Ace is the coverage move of choice to hit the aforementioned types harder when shields are down and deal neutral to Normal Fliers. Fury Cutter is an interesting alternative fast move which has higher EPT and can flip the Alolan Raichu matchup to a win.
Masquerain Air Slash + Silver Wind + Ominous Wind
Masquerain is a cost-effective alternative to Scyther with boost potential. Air Slash still deletes Heracross and Breloom, and the double Wind charge combination means you’re constantly rolling for that statistic boost. Its biggest downside compared to Scyther is the lack of a neutral charge attack when facing Normal Fliers.
Yanma Wing Attack + Ancient Power + Silver Wind
Yanmega Wing Attack + Ancient Power + Aerial Ace
Yanma, and its evolution Yanmega perform very similarly across the Meta. Both have access to Ancient Power, which provides valuable coverage when in a bad matchup with Normal Fliers. Yanma has access to Silver Wind for more boost potential, and Yanmega runs Aerial Ace for a harder hitting STAB move. Wing Attack makes them more reliant on charge moves for damage, which is in part why Scyther and Masquerain look to be stronger options. Additionally, Yanma needs to be maxed out to hit the Great League cap.
 
— Jungle Flora —
Venusaur Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant L + Sludge Bomb
Venusaur is back for another Cup where it is again shaping up to be the best Grass type available. Unfortunately for Venusaur, Grass types are more limited in their role in Jungle, only countering the Electric types and Vigoroth. Frenzy Plant is an exceptionally powerful move that cannot be easily shrugged off even when resisted. Sludge Bomb provides coverage against Flying counters and is critical for Grass head-to-heads. Losing to Magnezone and Heracross is an intriguing caveat to its dominance, which could possibly open the door for other Grass types to see more usage.
Ivysaur Vine Whip + Power Whip + Sludge Bomb
Ivysaur is nearly identical to Venusaur in terms of matchup coverage, with an increase in overall bulk at the cost of Frenzy Plant access. Power Whip is a serviceable substitute, but it doesn't carry the raw power of the Community Day move. Sludge Bomb provides valuable coverage as stated for Venusaur. Additionally, Ivysaur can force a Charge Move Priority (CMP) tie against Venusaur in the head-to-head matchup.
Victreebel Razor Leaf + Leaf Blade + Sludge Bomb or Acid Spray
Victreebel is another top Grass option in Jungle. Razor Leaf does most of the heavy lifting, but Leaf Blade and a Poison type coverage move provide it with solid shield pressure. Defeating Heracross with shields distinguishes it from Venusaur, and even Magnezone must perfectly shield bait to pull out the win.
Meganium Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant L + Earthquake
Meganium has a potential place here due to its exceptional matchup against the Mag Boys and its ability to trade with Exeggutor. Flying types present a greater challenge with only Earthquake as its coverage move, but Meganium certainly warrants discussion due to its TDO prowess.
 
— A Cup for Entomologists (the Bug section) —
The Jungle landscape is teeming with arthropods, most of which counter the top sloth but all fear their avian counterparts.
Beedrill Poison Jab + Sludge Bomb + X-Scissor or Aerial Ace
Beedrill is an outstanding Vigoroth counter, especially with shields in play. X-Scissor can apply tremendous pressure, and Sludge Bomb provides a potent STAB option against Fliers. Beedrill stands out from other Bugs due to its Electric matchups, namely defeating Lanturn with shields up and Alolan Raichu in all even shields. X-Scissor is required for the Alolan Raichu win and is Beedrill’s best option against the Mag Boys and Alolan Rock Duo. Alternatively, Aerial Ace affords it a win against Scyther in the 1-shield scenario and an edge in the 1-shield mirror.
Vespiquen Bug Bite + X-Scissor + Power Gem
Vespiquen is the bulkiest of the Bug/Flying types and stands alone as the only non-Counter or Razor Leaf user to defeat Vigoroth at a 1-2 shield disadvantage. As a Bug Bite user that also handily beats Vigoroth, Vespiquen fills a unique niché. Power Gem gives it a coverage option against other Bug and Flying types, such as the bait-dependent win against Venomoth in the 1-shield; however, some such as Noctowl will be able to tank a Power Gem.
Venomoth Confusion + Poison Fang L + Silver Wind
Confusion allows Venomoth to chip away at almost anything, and legacy Poison Fang is excellent for shield baiting and maximizing damage output. Venomoth is relatively frail, but can steamroll unsuspecting opponents if it gets the Silver Wind boost. Whether or not you choose to run it, its ability to delete Fighting and Poison types, such as Heracross or Beedrill, is important to consider when team building.
Dustox Confusion + Silver Wind + Sludge Bomb
Dustox is very similar to Venomoth in both moveset and matchup coverage. Without access to Poison Fang, Silver Wind will be your shield baiting option with Sludge Bomb serving as the high DPE coverage move. Dustox must be maxed for Great League play, but its non-legacy status arguably makes it more accessible than Venomoth. Despite maxing well under the CP cap, Dustox still has more bulk than Venomoth enabling it to swing a few extra wins. For example, Dustox is able to tank a Wild Charge and still defeat Alolan Raichu in the 1-shield, while Venomoth cannot.
Forretress Bug Bite + Heavy Slam + Earthquake or Rock Tomb
This spinning ball of destruction, which was the cornerstone of many Rainbow Cup teams, falls from grace as we transition to Jungle Cup. The greatest detriment to Forretress is the prominence of Vigoroth and Noctowl. Dissimilar to Rainbow, Heavy Slam generally goes unresisted in Jungle and is the essential move for this Meta. The choice between Rock Tomb and Earthquake, however, may depend on your desired coverage. Rock Tomb has only marginally better DPE than Heavy Slam against Noctowl, and Heavy Slam is sufficient against many of the other Bug types. Rock Tomb could situationally provide a late game nuke against Bug Fliers, but Earthquake seems like the better option for both Electric types and closing neutral damage.
 
— The Misfits —
Alolan Raichu Spark + Wild Charge + Thunder Punch
Surf, sun, and Electric moves are all this mellow mouse needs. Although it won’t enjoy contending with the widespread Bug attacks, Alolan Raichu (A-Raichu) should definitely see run as one of the few checks to the central Meta core of Vigoroth-Noctowl. Most of its Electric counterparts perform better against Bug types, but its Psychic typing also enables it to resist Counter, truly distinguishing A-Raichu by giving it the best Vigoroth and Heracross matchups within the group. So how does it stack up against the Bugs? A-Raichu can beat Venomoth with shields, Vespiquen in the 1-shield with bait, but consistently loses to Beedrill and Forretress. Against other Electrics, A-Raichu often relies on landing a Wild Charge for success. It tends to beat or tie K-Raichu and Magneton, while losing to the Alolan Rock Boys and snagging a narrow win against Lanturn in the 1-shield.
Cradily Infestation + Grass Knot + Stone Edge
Cradily finds itself alongside A-Raichu among the Misfits namely because of its odd matchups against the Flying and Bug categories. As a Grass type packing Grass Knot, you may expect it to perform similarly to the likes of Venusaur or Meganium, but access to Stone Edge and positive matchups against Venomoth, Scyther, Pidgeot and Beedrill to name a few allow it to truly shine as a Rock type given the expected Meta. That said, the main drawbacks to Cradily are its weakness to Counter and inability to defeat Noctowl in even shields. For a more extensive look at Cradily, please check out this write-up from our friend u/JRE47.
Exeggutor Confusion L + Seed Bomb + Psychic
Exeggutor’s double weakness to Bug means it gets shredded by the likes of Vespiquen and Forretress. It also must be wary of the Bug, Flying and Poison charge moves rampant throughout the Meta. Despite those vulnerabilities, it fills an interesting niché as a glass cannon that’s able to beat the Counter users, Beedrill, Venomoth and Grass/Poison types. Aside from Magnezone, it also has favorable matchups against Electrics. While Exeggutor might sound dominant on paper, several of these wins, such as Vigoroth, are by narrow margins; however, it can be a matchup nightmare for an unsuspecting opponent.
 
— Jungle Roster Archetype —
Vigoroth is the single focal point around which the Meta revolves. Therefore, we expect that the majority of trainers will opt to bring Vigoroth along with multiple counters. For the Jungle Cup, team composition projects to be highly diverse across competitors. Noctowl pairs well with Vigoroth to form a strong complementary core and will be a common theme in team building. Electrics serve as a reliable option against Fliers and have few Ground threats to contend with in Jungle. Even running two Electrics appears to be a viable strategy given the slight coverage differences amongst the group. We expect the overwhelming majority of trainers will elect to run Noctowl, but here we chose to be inclusive to other balanced rosters as well. Lastly, one subtle point our projected roster archetype seeks to highlight is that you will want to be mindful in your selection of Vigoroth counters to minimize overlapping poor matchups. For example, if you only brought Grass and Heracross, then your Vigoroth counters now both lose to Fliers and Bugs.
This appears to be the general template that many balanced rosters will follow. However, as always, creative strategies will emerge, and we look forward to seeing how roster compositions and the Meta evolves over the course of the month.
 
— Final Thoughts —
There’s Vigoroth, and then there’s everyone else. Despite its unquestionable dominance, the rest of the field is quite diverse. For Jungle, we expect to see a wide variety of team builds succeed, not too dissimilar from Rainbow. However, playstyle in Jungle could be divergent from previous Cups in that Vigoroth brings with it some unique considerations and challenges—a Meta King without a true hard counter. This stands out from Rainbow Quagsire or Kingdom Bastiodon, which had to fear Grass and Lucario, respectively. Vigoroth, however, does have a number of checks and will not run through a well-balanced team. There’s still plenty of space for creativity to thrive, and we expect to see some innovative strategies take home the Cup. Be careful out there #battlers, the Jungle isn’t for the faint of heart.
Be sure to join us on Twitch Wednesday July 3rd at 8 PM EDT for an in-depth meta analysis of this infographic featuring North American Quarterfinalist Choostemaster and u/JRE47!
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HBR: Big Lie of Strategic Planning

First of all, you gotta love the provocative title of this article from Roger Martin, ex-Dean of Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto here. Big. Lie. Hard to get past those two words. Big Lie.

Why is strategy (potentially) a scary thing?

Martin starts by making the seemingly simple point that strategy is about the future. Okay, so far so good, I am tracking. . Then he proceeds to remind us that the future is unpredictable – oh, sheesh, Covid-19. That seems really true.
So, how do business executives respond to this uncertainty? Strategic planning.
The natural reaction is to make the challenge less daunting by turning it into a problem that can be solved with tried and tested tools. The plan is typically supported with detailed spreadsheets that project costs and revenue quite far into the future. By the end of the process, everyone feels a lot less scared. – Martin

Strategic planning is common

Confession time. Yes, I was a strategic planner. It’s on my Linkedin resume, and frankly, I am fairly proud of the work we did. Learned a lot about how the business was run, and surely, we were better off with an annual operating plan and budget than without one. Yes, strategic plans have a purpose. No, it is not strategy.

What does strategic planning look like?

While it might vary from company to company, it probably doesn’t. It’s a fairly formulaic process of macro (tops down) economic research on the business cycle, end-user demand, competitive dynamics, corporate initiatives and micro (bottom up) revenue forecasts from sales and cost estimates from finance. In simple terms, it’s your collective best guess of the next 12 months.
The intention is noble. Get all the facts and forecasts possible, then roll them into a longer-term plan from which to run the business. It serves a few purposes:

Sounds good, what’s the problem?

1. Surprisingly, not a lot of strategy

Let’s start with the first step. Strategy is about creating a set of self-reinforcing activities which create a sustainable competitive advantage. It’s about creating massive value for your customers and getting some of that profit. Creating an economic moat. It’s about trade-offs. You can’t copy-cat your way to success.
Some potential questions to ask:

If your strategic planning sessions have that kind of rigor, bravo. Usually, it’s not like that at all. Instead, it’s a little bit of kabuki theater where executives reiterate anecdotes about competitors and customers. Same ole, same ole.
[The traditional approach] . . . is a truly terrible way to make strategy. It may be an excellent way to cope with fear of the unknown, but fear and discomfort are an essential part of strategy making. In fact, if you are entirely comfortable with your strategy, there’s a strong chance it isn’t very good. – Martin
Let’s look at a oldie-goldie exercise, and how we might improve it. . .
SWOT. Yes, I admit it. I’ve done it, so have you. 2×2 grid with Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats. Sadly, it’s typically created ad-hoc during a workshop with limited rigor, and even less follow-through. There is very little push-back among the workshop participants. It’s more of a choir than an idea fight club.
Quick tip: Try to dig-into the SWOT. . 1) what is the EBITDA implications of that threat/opportunity? 2) who’s the owner of that issue 3) How does that strength feed into our competitive advantage? Can we increase that? Is it an economic moat? 4) Weakness for whom? The entire corporation or a product line. 5) What are we deciding NOT TO DO?
So what does the unofficial process look like?

2. Incremental: What did we do last year?

It’s just human nature that a business executive does not want to be wrong. We are all a little risk-averse. It’s easy (and a bit lazy) to build off of last year’s plan. Also, we tend to think that next year will look like this year (lots of heuristics).
“Worse, actually choosing a strategy entails making decisions that explicitly cut off possibilities and options. An executive may well fear that getting those decisions wrong will wreck his or her career.” – Martin
So the default choice is to go through a series of excel-driven templates that build off of last year’s calcified assumptions. In defense of the thousands of companies that take this copy/paste + 3% approach to planning:

These are all ingredients to a cake that looks like planning, not strategy.

3. Sycophant: What’s the answer?

When I was a strategic planner, I was 29-32 years old, and I did not step outside of my lane. In fact, I aggressively worked backwards from the answer I felt the executives wanted. It’s natural to “seek to please” the client or the executive. No shame there. However, it is also NOT strong opinions, loosely held.
Yes, strategists and management consultants are paid to help clients and executives to bridge cross-functional mess and get to yes. However, we should also build up enough expertise, relational equity, courage, and heart to push our CEO/CFO/CMO/COO to think a bit deeper, and act more bravely.
Keep the strategy simple. Martin argues that strategy needs to focus on the customer (the ultimate arbiter of value) and ask two questions:

That’s what we should be asking, not “what’s the answer my boss/client wants.”

4. Internal negotiations

Ask anyone in charge of the strategic planning process (or for that matter – any company-wide, forecasting process), and they will tell you there are multiple rounds of internal negotiations on cost allocations, sales targets, and bonuses.
Too often – definitely in my experience, the strategic planning process is less about winning in the market, and more about organizing the internal departments and “getting alignment.”

So what?

Assigned this article to the strategy class for the first time, and the timing was eerily perfect. The global economy was systematically shut down and classes were moved to remote. Yes, the perfect plans in the syllabus were changed. In fact, every strategy group and strategic plan this year was 30-50% wrong.

Strategy involves a bet

Roger Martin is ex-Monitor, Michael Porter’s firm that got acquired by Deloitte. Martin argues that strategy is about placing a bet. It’s not about coming up with some perfect excel-model-Nirvana.
At its very best, therefore, strategy shortens the odds of a company’s bets. Managers must internalize that fact if they are not to be intimidated by the strategy-making process. Boards and regulators need to reinforce rather than undermine the notion that strategy involves a bet. – Martin

Strategy is a portfolio of call options

Read an article from Bain called, “Five Ways the Best Companies Close the Strategy-Execution Gap” here and it super resonated. The idea is that we live in a VUCA (volative, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, and of course, our strategy will be imperfect. It’s a strategy, not a plan, remember?
So if you think of it like “call options”, you can invest a little bit here, and there, and wait and see. If the strategy starts to bud – invest more. If it starts to die – reassess and be willing to cut bait, and de-fund the venture.

Discovery-driven strategic planning

On this topic, also a huge fan of Rita Gunter McGrath’s (Columbia) article entiteld Discovery Driven Strategic Planning here. Very similar to the Bain idea that instead of putting together a 300+ page PowerPoint that you don’t look at through out the year, why not simplify it and make it easy to refer to, and marginally fund the ideas that work. Test, test, test. Jim Collins would approve.
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Profit Margin Dashboard Template in Excel (Dynamic and Flexible)

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