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Starting competitive play. (Singles) (Work-in-progress)

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Over the years, I've read, replied, reread, and replied again (and again) one simple question: How do I start playing Pokemon Competitively? 


First of all, it looks overwhelmingly complex, if you haven't touched the competitive scene yet. No, I mean OVERWHELMINGLY COMPLEX. Why am I declaring this? Because I don't want you to give up in what, in my opinion, is the best experience from the Pokémon franchise. 


(Before reading this, please make sure you are already experienced with EVs - IVs - Natures, and these things)


Now, without further ado, let's finally break this 'overwhelmingly complex system' and turn it quite simple.


 1- Building a team.


- A team is a combination of 6 Pokémon that work well together. In a fancy common used term, they possess good 'synergy'.

- A team is also the final process of analyzing, testing and adapting to a certain meta. This means a team is also a whole line of thought put into it, other than the 6 Pokémon. It also means a beginner won't most likely understand what makes some teams 'good' or 'bad', and therefore they shouldn't use someone else's teams (for now).


But hey, good grief, I'll finally explain how to deconstruct these ideas, so you can at least build yourself a solid-ish team, so you can then practice, test and adapt, until it becomes a really solid team.


1- Know your style. Different players have different styles, which means they see the match differently, which means they'll use different sort of units.

 Examples of styles (but not exclusively): Stall - Defensive - Balanced - Offensive - Hyper Offensive (Don't mind too much designations).


    - Stall: A team that endures the enemy's offensive pressure as much as it can, while gradually chipping down the opponent team. They often have no offensive pressure, and thus are somewhat passive, relying on the enemy's plays.


    - Defensive: Sometimes considered stall too. Its a style where the team's player is able to safely switch against most of stuff, but there is some offensive pressure there.


    - Balanced: A mix of defensive and offensive gameplay. Typically you won't have free safe switches for everything at once, so, ideally, you pressure these threatening things with the offensive mons.


    - Offensive/Hyper offense (HO): Sometimes considered the same. These teams rely on their player and their plays to constantly seek for momentum, because most of the time, they struggle to find safe switches for the opposing pressure. It offers a more high risk-high reward environment.



  Every style has different sort of cores, but (for now) I'll try to sum them all in one swing.


  - What is a core? It is a combination of 2 - 3 different Pokémon that synergy well with each other, in a given meta. The core is, well, the core of your team. The basis of your team. The core is what the team focus on and specializes about. This means, if a core isn't good, the other Pokémon won't miraculously save it.

  - What cores should I use? Anything that synergies well with each other, in a given meta. Let's give examples that you might be familiar with:


RAIN!!!:  What is a good rain core? Well, that would be Peliper + Kingdra, or Peliper + kingdra + Kabutops. (explanation: Peliper boosts Kingdra and Kabutops speed, as well as water-stab power. Kingdra deals with most stuff not named bulky waters or fat blobs (chansey/blisseys), and kabutops deals with these fat blobs, complementing Kingdra, to an extent.


Volt-Turn: Mienshao + Jolteon, or Infernape + Rotom, or anything similar. (Explanation: These offensive Pokémon are able to gain momentum, and shift positions with a u-turn or volt switch, to keep the pressure. (Example of example: Let's take Mienshao against Blissey. Mienshao u-turns an eventual cofagrigus/skarmory switch, making Jolteon enter the field. Now jolteon has further pressure exert on the enemy) - Note: These teams work nicely with a dedicated rock-setter slot, and units that deal with voltblock units  (electric-immunity Pokémon)


Conkeldurr - Tyranitar: Simple enough: Conk is drawn back by ghosts or psychics in the tier, and Tyranitar helps remove them. 


Anyway, these are just examples, but you can understand the main idea: Build cores of Pokémon that help each other (There are almost endless options!!!)


3- Rest of the team:

  Have you created your unique core? Amazing, that's the hardest part. Now create more cores (Yes, more cores!) Why? Because, in the future, you won't build teams from scratch. (Hell no!) You'll be building different teams, based on the initial cores you developed, and evolved through your experience.


  Now, how do you complete these teams?


  - Rule #1 : Trial and error. As you have probably guessed by now, there is no way in hell a 2-3 Pokémon core handles most of the meta, by itself. You're right, they won't. And you also won't be able to consider all eventual matchups you'll face, when building a team. Therefore, stick to this rule: Test different fixes for your core, and adapt them until your team can handle most stuff comfortably.

    But hold up! This is indeed overwhelming. Is there any guideline?


   There are some yes. Here is what you need to consider, while building your very first team (and many others):

      - Rain: Your team should handle rain. How? Well, it depends in your core. Let me give examples of units that deal with rain: Ferrothorn, Blissey, Milotic, Jellicent, to a lesser extent: Rotom-Wash.

      - Sand: Less common than rain, and probably less pressuring considering you only have 1 Pokemon to look for: Excadrill. Examples: Rotom-Wash, Skarmory, Gliscor, hippowdon, etc etc etc. (And, as you can see, Rotom-wash can ease pressure coming from both Rain and Sand. Its called a multitask Pokémon, and they are key when complementing cores.

      - Common powerful threats, like Conkeldurr, Scizor, Garchomp, Reuniclus. Again, these units are so powerful and so common, that you need to handle them comfortably, otherwise they will roam freely and punch holes in your team. Multitask Pokémon are great here too. For instance, Hippowdon handles both Sand, and Conkeldurr/Scizor.


Note: There are plenty of other substyles or underutilized meta teams, and obviously you won't be able to counter them all in one team. But hey, you don't need. A team is just half of the job. The player is the other. Just make sure your team handles the common stuff used in the tier, to the extent where you can always have a chance of beating it, as well as being not utterly helpless against other not-so-used Pokémon (See the importance of multitasked units?)


But wait, you may be already asking. If I go through all these analysis, my team will be more defensive than offensive, am I wrong?


Indeed. Balanced is, in my opinion, the go-for-it style to learn first. Not only you'll realize how to use both defensive/offensive Pokémon, but you'll also be able to perceive how the enemy uses them. And, once you understand well the meta, feel free to test other styles, to see if any fit you better.



This went a bit long, sorry. Any issues, feel free to contact me, or anyone else either in-game or in discord.

Please also let me know if anything I posted was misleading. 


I'll deconstruct it a bit better later on.



Edited by pachima
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  • pachima changed the title to Starting competitive play. (Singles) (Work-in-progress)

Common cores: (Some stuff from op will be changed)

1- Rain 


Peliper: Best rain setter in the game
Kingdra (Choice specs): Best rain abuser in the game

Kabutops(Band/Life orb): Great user of rain, while also possessing good synergy with kingdra, due to physical + special combo.


Scizor (Probably Band): Scizor is a bit interchangeable with Kabutops if you struggle with finding 2 filler slots that patches most weaknesses. But you can also use them together. Scizor both appreciates rain support to decrease fire-type damage, as well as being able to pressure some fat blobs and/or bringing Rain back, after u-turning to Peliper.



Weaknesses your filler Pokemon should try to minimize:

- Rotom-Wash/Mow (A volt blocker is therefore recommended to use in a filler spot)

- Ferrothorn (If you are struggling with it, Kabutops is able to learn superpower, and Scizor handles it nicely, if you chose not to pick it)

- Gastrodon (Currently seeing less usage so won't go deeper into this)

- Jellicent/Milotic (A filler that abuses the passive presence of these two is therefore recommended)

- Sand (Kind of a rat and cat situation, where both teams can be simultaneously both. Whoever has the leading weather has immense advantage over the other team, thus its recommended some pivot that takes back the weather)



Extra note: Pure rain, although used commonly, has a massive drawback, consisting in having literally no defensive answers. In other words, any momentum shift forces the rain user to sacrifice a Pokemon most of the time. Because of this, in my opinion, I suggest picking solid defensive answers for the filler spots (Not necessarily meaning walls. Simply something with switching capability. Rain's core offensive power is already outstanding, so no need to capitalize on that. On the same note, similar to 'Sand' A pivot like Scizor or Rotom is recommended to keep exerting pressure with Peliper's rain.




Edited by pachima
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