Now that you've conquered the Elite Four with your level 88 Charizard, you're feeling pretty good about yourself. You decide to battle this guy from Smogon. It's an easy game, right? Of course it is. You go in with your mighty Charizard, now level 89, and five other guys. The plan is to Blast Burn everything - OHKO, right? You lose in six turns. You then decide to go on Serebii and rant about how Smogonites overanalyze everything and take this game too seriously. You're a hypocrite for even being here. Get out and enjoy your "life".
That aside, competitive Pokemon is a lot different from in-game. First of all, you're battling people, not CPU's. Most of the time you can't even use recovery items. That Max Revive doesn't seem so handy now, does it? Oh, and also, people switch. Your Charizard may never even touch that Ferrothorn. Your team may have a sudden, unexpected weakness to Water-type attacks. Perhaps picking Charizard, Golem, Blaziken, Typhlosion, and Infernape wasn't the best idea.
Competitive battling can be split into a few parts. Battling itself is without doubt the biggest part, but your super-special-awesome-team-that-kills-everyone can't be complete without basic knowledge in teambuilding. Additional things may include competitive communities, like that Smogon over there that you hate because you're no longer allowed to use your Blaziken, and you just don't know why, and have never bothered to find out why.
I hope you're ready to read a lot. If you're planning to learn, you better not pull "tl;dr" crap.
Before you start battling, there's some mechanics you need to be aware of, as well as some clauses.
A burn takes away 12.5% of the inflicted Pokemon's health at the end of each turn. Not only that, but it halves the Attack stat as well under normal circumstances. Guts Pokemon, however, are not affected by the Attack drop, as their ability reverses it to boost by 50%. This does not work for Quick Feet. Also, Magic Guard users ignore the damage that is usually done because of their ability; they do not ignore the Attack drop. Heatproof causes Burn to inflict only 6.25% each turn.
Paralysis cuts a Pokemon's speed by 75% and gives it a 70% chance of actually moving (25% of its speed, 30% chance of not moving). Quick Feet reverses the drop and increases by 50% instead, much like Guts does. But also like Guts, it does not ignore the chance of being fully paralyzed and unable to move. Magic Guard users are completely affected, as there is no passive damage from paralysis.
Poison has no stat drops, fortunately. It only does 12.5% each turn, except in the case of being badly poisoned, in which case, it starts at 6.25% and increases by that increment each turn until the Pokemon switches out. Poison Heal luckily is another ability that can not only ignore the effects, but also heals 12.5% of the user's HP each turn when it is poisoned. Before, there wasn't much of a sign of whether or not it was badly poisoned, but Gen V now introduced an easier way: on the icon indicating poison, a Pokemon is badly poisoned if the letters are purple, and isn't if they're white letters.
Pretty annoying status. Sleep lasts a random amount between 1-3 turns in Gen V, 1-4 in Gen IV, and 1-6 in Gen III. Rest, however, always makes sleep last 2 turns. Before Gen V, one could burn off sleep turns and switch out and switch back in safely to burn more. Now it can't, because the sleep counter resets. Sleep Talk, though, allows a sleeping Pokemon to not be completely useless.
The most annoying and arguably most broken status. There is no way, fortunately, in the game to control freeze. However, on simulators, the Freeze Clause exists to limit it. One thing to note is that a Pokemon thaws out when it or another Pokemon uses a Fire move or Scald (the other must target the frozen Pokemon).
- Sleep Clause: No more than one Pokemon may be put to sleep
- Evasion Clause: No Double Team/Minimize. This doesn't ban Sand-Attack or other Accuracy dropping moves.
- Moody Clause: The ability Moody is banned.
- Soul Dew Clause: Soul Dew is banned
- Species Clause: No two Pokemon may have the same Nat. Dex number.
- OHKO Clause: OHKO moves (Sheer Cold, Fissure, Guillotine and Horn Drill) are banned
- Self-KO Clause: If each player is on their last Pokemon, and one uses a self-KO move and KOs the opponent's Pokemon, the user of the move is the loser.
- Arceus EV Restriction Clause: Only active for Gen IV. It was a restriction on the amount of EVs Arceus could have, since it was only legitimately released at Lv. 100. At Lv. 100 in Gen IV, you could not EV train it to its full potential.
- Item Clause: You cannot use more than one of each item. This is generally active for VGCs. Most competitive battlers do not use this clause.
- Freeze Clause: This limits the Freeze status ailment to only one Pokemon per team. It is only active on simulators.
Other bans in place include Swift Swim and Drizzle on a single team, Sand Veil/Snow Cloak, and SmashPass (Shell Smash+Baton Pass on the same moveset). Swift Swim+Drizzle and Sand Veil/Snow Cloak are banned in all but Ubers, while SmashPass is banned in anything except Ubers, OU, and UU.
TeambuildingTeambuilding, where dreams become reality, or just fall to pieces. Right now you start to realize that Charizard may perhaps not be the best choice for a team that can slaughter everyone. The biggest reason being that Charizard's nemesis is the ever present pointy rocks pointed towards your field. Oh, I should mention, they're ninjas too, apparently. Judge a book by its cover.
How to lose miserably at Pokemon:
"You can make any Pokemon good if you teach it the right moves and boost its stats." This is not true for every Pokemon. There are some that will be terrible no matter what you do.
Hyouki's teambuilding process:
Now, my process isn't so detailed in my mind, but it's not extremely simple. Essentially, my teams are balanced.
The first part of my team is always what I consider "inspiration", and that's a Pokemon I want to build a team around, or maybe a specific core. Most of the time it will be a sweeper, but occasionally it will be a wall, a sponge, or tank.
The next part is finding a core to use. I've always played balanced so I tend to take balanced cores, but often also take a defensive core. I make sure that between the 2 or 3 Pokemon in the defensive core aren't all defensive on one side, and also that they, together, resist as close to 17 types as possible. I accept 14 as the minimum usually. Immunities are the best to have here, as that means that Pokemon can make many more switches than the others.
What's left is another few slots. The first thing I want to put in these is something fast, most likely a scarfer. This almost always is my revenge killer, so it resists or is neutral to Stealth Rock. My scarfer covers what can wreck my core, and I have a preference for Pursuiters when it comes to being weak to Psychic or Ghost types, to ensure they don't mess with me later. If a Pursuiter isn't required, U-Turn/Volt-Switch is another thing I want. The ability to keep the advantage like that is something very much needed when you're not perfect at predictions (which you can't be).
By now, I start checking out my team to check certain things such as common types, or physical/special attackers. I tend to keep them balanced between physical/special, and seldom use more of one. As for types, I almost never use more than 2 of one type (unless there's certain rules for the team, like mono-type). The final member is where I become the most indecisive. I always have many options, and of course, I'm not sure what to use as they all could fit into the team. Pretty much, I just stick one on, call it a day.
No, it's not really over. I begin testing the team on the ladder (I've never cared much for ranking so I don't change names). As I play more often, I start seeing specific weaknesses and try fixing those up (If there's too many, I just scrap the team). After correcting the mishaps, I repeat this step again, and most likely find a few other needed tweaks. After repeating this many times over, I call the team finished and just use it freely.
The teambuilding process works differently for everyone. While my process tends to work for defensive teams, some may want to build offensive teams, in which case they'd worry more about hitting the most instead of taking the most.
CoresSince the advent of fifth gen, cores seem more important than ever. The idea of a core is to have 2-3 Pokemon that work well together - offensively, defensively, or overall balanced. Offensive cores are all about covering the most types possible, such as by spamming high powered Attacking moves like Outrage. Defensive cores are all about switching into resisted hits, with an especially strong emphasis on type synergy. Lastly, Balanced cores are meant to be played in well, a balanced manner. In addition, type synergy is extremely important when making good cores, especially defensive ones. I can't emphasize this enough. Have Pokemon cover each other! One good example for a balanced core is Gliscor/Rotom-W/Jirachi. Gliscor tanks many Physical attacks, Jirachi takes Special hits very well with good typing and heavy investment in Special Defense, while Rotom-W takes hits from both sides of the spectrum. Lastly, all members of the core have access to a recovery move outside of Rest, and all either resist are are immune to a type of Entry Hazard, allowing for repeated switch-ins. Below are examples.
As explained above, this is a balanced core. Between Rotom-W, Jirachi, and Gliscor, just about every type is resisted. In the core itself, Gliscor functions as the physical wall; Jirachi the special wall, and lastly, Rotom-W as the middle ground. In addition to being defensive, this core also has offensive capabilities. Rotom-W is able to fire off powerful Hydro Pumps, even more powerful when rain boosted. Gliscor is able to run a Swords Dance set that can provide for Physical offensive needs. Jirachi, though traditionally running a Sp. Def (252 HP/224 Sp. Def, Calm/Careful) set when using this core, is able to run an offensive Calm Mind set that can sweep unprepared teams. Lastly, every member of this core has a recovery move or ability, as well as resistance or immunity to a certain Entry Hazard, allowing for longevity.
Heatran and Celebi cover each other pretty nicely. Heatran is able to take the Fire, Flying, Bug, Psychic, Ghost, Ice, and Poison attacks aimed at Celebi; Celebi shrugs off powerful Water, Ground, and Fighting attaks aimed at Heatran. This core was popularized in 4th gen, and functions as a balanced core, though it is generally aimed to be more defensive. Even though this core is less common now, it is still very effective thanks to the newfound ability in being able to combat weather. Heatran takes on Hail and Sun, while Celebi can take on Rain very well, and the two take on Sand to some extent.
Latias and Heatran function very similarly to "CeleTran", the only difference being that Latias has the ability to Roar, racking up Entry Hazards damage and making it very hard to Pursuit trap. Latias with Roar can also take on CM Reuniclus, something Celebi struggles to do. However, Latias generally runs a Calm Mind set, which means that it most of the time only has Dragon Pulse to deal damage with, while Celebi has a whole array of moves to choose from in Leaf Storm, Giga Drain, Hidden Power Fire, Earth Power, and Psychic, among others.
Popularized by Marriland in 4th gen. This core is simple: Skarmory takes the Physical hits; Blissey takes the Special ones. However, this core is no longer as effective as it used to be due to the introduction of Psyshock, as well as many more Fighting-type Pokemon entering the competition. New stallbreakers in Jellicent and Gliscor also give them a harder time. Nevertheless, it is still a solid core, and a very easy one to use too.
Anti-weather 5th gen. Skarmory covers many offensive pokemon in sand; Heatran beats sun, while Gastrodon can take on many Pokemon from rain teams with a new boost to its ability "Storm Drain". In addition, Skarmory provides a solid lining of physical Defense; Heatran Sp. Def, while Gastrodon can take hits from either side of the spectrum, though it originally invested in Sp. Def when this core was first formed.
A trademark of early 5th gen, dominant during the Excadrill era, and still going strong. FerroCent, as it's commenly called, or JelliThorn, if you're feeling hipster, is a solid defensive core. Ferrothorn easily stacks up Hazards on the opposing side of the field thanks to its fantastic defensive typing, despite being weak to Fire and Fighting, both common offensive types. Jellicent is Ferrothorn's partner in crime, spinblocking, thus keeping hazards up. Together, the two resist or get immunity to every single type in the game outside of Flying and Ground. The two also get good recovery moves, despite the former only having Leech Seed, but that's already plenty because Ferrothorn pisses people off! Latias and Heatran are good partners to go along with this core in a defensive manner. Latias is able to help phaze with Roar, and even abuse all the layers of Entry Hazards to attempt a Calm Mind sweep. Heatran helps complete a classic FGW, or Fire-Grass-Water core, that proves solid in both defense and offense. The two also help provide an extra defensive barrier against Sun, which, despite Jellicent resisting Fire-type moves, cannot completely beat.
Ferrothorn + Tentacruel is the "sister core" to FerroCent. Ferrothorn + Tentacruel is a popular combination seen on Rain Stall teams. Between the two, all layers of Entry Hazards are produced, in addition to Rapid Spin support for the rest of the team as well as absorbing Toxic Spikes. Together, the two are a dick to beat. However, the one key advantage Jellicent does have over Tentacruel is that there are less Pokemon that can set up on it thanks to access to Taunt. In this case, Ferro-Cruel is very weak to Toxicroak, something Jellicent would normally be able to deal with with relative ease. However, Ferrothorn + Tentacruel is much harder to beat by comparison. Tentacruel gets a fantastic ability in Rain Dish, which, in tandem with Protect and Rain, gives it a rather reliable form of HP recovery. In addition, Tentacruel sports a surprisingly high speed of Base 100, meaning that it can focus much more in the Defense department as opposed to outspeeding Pokemon.
Probably the most prominent core of the early stages of BW2, this core is damn near unbreakable even without Heatran. Amoonguss and Slowbro each have Regenerator and compliment each other very well with typing, as well as being able to sponge hits from all sides of the spectrum. Heatran complements the core by adding an extra layer of Sp. Def or just being middle-ground, and providing a resistance to Dragon and Flying. The only unresisted type is Ground, which can be covered by a fourth Pokemon. Amoonguss and Heatran can alternate their roles between mixed wall and Sp. Def. The three together are much like the Skarmory/Gastrodon/Heatran core in that they combat all forms of weather well.
Offensive pressure can be achieved through constant switch-advantages. Rotom-W and Scizor does this perfectly, abusing Volt Switch and U-turn respectively, hitting for decent damage while netting switch advantage. For example, if Rotom-W is out against Gyarados, Rotom-W would Volt Switch. This puts Gyarados at a check position: Either get OHKO'd by Volt Switch, or switch out to a teammate while Rotom-W Volt Switches the teammate and now the Rotom-W user knows exactly what Pokemon to go into to beat the Pokemon that was just sent out. With Entry Hazards on the field, a lot of pressure is applied to the opponent's team. In addition, Rotom-W and Scizor also have excellent type synergy: both are only weak to one type of attack, which they cover inbetween them. However, Entry Hazards are a huge bane to this core, especially Scizor. Repeated switch-ins wear both Pokemon down as they U-turn and Volt Switch frequently. Be sure to pack a Rapid Spinner for this reason.
Fighting + Dragon has unresisted coverage in this game. on top of that, all three Pokemon mentioned here hit extremely hard. Just about everything in the game is at least 2HKO'd by Terrakion's dual STABs in Close Combat and Stone Edge. Very few Pokemon enjoy switching into a powerful Draco Meteor from Latios, while Dragonite can pose an immediate threat with Choice Banded outrage, or set up a free Dragon Dance with Multiscale intact.
Haxorus's two natural enemies lie in Skarmory and Ferrothorn. The former taking less than 40% from Max Attack Choice Banded Outrage, while the latter not having a solid recovery move outside of Leech Seed, making it easier to beat. Magnezone helps remove these two Pokemon with its ability and Hidden Power Fire for Ferrothorn, thus letting Haxorus wreck havoc. Pretty much everything is 2HKO'd by Outrage, including many resists. Anything that doesn't resist is almost always OHKO'd. The idea of DragMag is based on this idea of Dragon + Magnezone. As of BW2, however, Haxorus can now put giant dents in Skarmory and Ferrothorn with access to Superpower.
With Excadrill gone, Starmie is now the top offensive Spinner in OU. The basic idea behind this core is simple: Get Starmie in, spin, then send out Volcarona and wreck the opposing team. Alternatively, Tentacruel can be used over Starmie as it provides Toxic Spikes support, which allows Volcarona to come out on top when facing Blissey and Chansey. The best part is that with the arrival of BW2, Volcarona has now gained Roost, which can help this core be somewhat defensive. Unfortunately it's usually not a good idea to run Rapid Spin and Recover on the same Starmie.
Upon Genesect's release, it quickly rose up in the ranks of OU and began its domination before being banned. With a great special movepool and U-turn, Genesect threatened many things and kept momentum in a match, especially with a Download boost to Sp. Atk. Genesect's enemies were great special tanks such as Heatran. However, it found an extremely useful partner in Dugtrio, who removes Heatran easily. Was that an Air Balloon? Well congratulations, it just broke to U-turn and now you're trapped. By removing some of the greatest tanks with Dugtrio, Genesect then made its move in wrecking the rest of the opposing team. This core was immensely popular in the sun with Xatu as a third member, to keep hazards at bay so that Dugtrio and Genesect can stay alive, since Dugtrio depends on Focus Sash.
While often Keldeo is seen on Rain teams, Landorus and Tyranitar work well with it. Typically a Banded Tyranitar will be used, as it can trap and kill anything that stops Keldeo or Landorus, while Landorus is usually a special set. The Lati twins, Jellicent, Celebi, all fallen to the might of Bandtar. This leaves Keldeo and Landorus to wear down the rest to the point that one of them can sweep. Virtually no team can stand up to all three.
RolesEach Pokemon on your team should be there for a specific reason outside of "I think Pokemon X is cute". Pokemon can be split into two main categories: Offensive and Defensive. The name Offense should be self explanatory: These are the Pokemon that deal high damage and net the kills. Defensive Pokemon switch into attacks and gradually weaken down the opposition. Lastly, while not exactly a definite category, Utility Pokemon are Pokemon such as Jellicent and Gliscor, that use moves like Taunt, Toxic, and Will-o-Wisp to hamper the opponent. Utility Pokemon can be both Offensive or Defensive. In this case, Jellicent is a more Defensive Utility Pokemon while Gliscor is more Offensive thanks to Swords Dance sets that it commonly runs. While those are the basic categories, the Pokemon within those categories can be further split, as shown below:
Offense:Physical / Special Sweeper (Attacker): Physical and Special sweepers aim to sweep an opposing team, however, many times, they are not able to accomplish this goal themselves. As such, pairing them with Wall Breakers (see below) if you choose to take the more offensive path is the way to go. Many Physical and Special Sweepers have the ability to set up with moves such as Calm Mind, Swords Dance, and Nasty Plot, making their sweeps easier. Good examples are Pokemon such as Lucario, Dragonite, Salamence, Latios, Scizor, Celebi, Terrakion, and Gyarados.
The line between Wall Breakers and Sweepers is pretty thin. Some Pokemon can function in both roles, such as Salamence, Latios, and Terrakion. Stalin once stated that if you throw enough men and arms at the enemy, the enemy will eventually be defeated. This same logic is applied here. Wall Breakers are Pokemon that can deal exceptionally high damage right off the bat, severely weakening defensive Pokemon on the opposing team. While they may die in the process, the Pokemon they weaken or kill will open up room for other teammates to sweep.
For offense teams, a revenge killer is almost always necessary. Revenge killers avenge the death of one of their comrades by ensuring the death of the attacker. They are often scarfed and serve other functions such as U-turning, but their main function is always to kill off a threat after it KOs a member.
Defense:Tank: Tank is a Defensive Pokemon that can also deal respectable damage. Tanks take hits and deal damage back, hence the name "Tank". They are generally less Defensively oriented than Sponges and Walls, meaning that they are quicker to die. A good example of a tank would be Swampert, who was highly popular as a lead in 4th gen.
Sponge / Wall:
Walls and Sponges are the Defensive Pokemon. They switch into powerful attacks and shrug them off with ease. Since Walls generally do not have very good offensive stats, they rely on passive damage to do damage, such as through Entry Hazards and Status Conditions like Burn and Poison. Walls and Sponges generally have recovery moves, which allows them to switch into attacks multiple times while maintaining high health throughout the match. Some Walls also fall into the Cleric category due to team support moves such as Heal Bell and Wish. Good examples of Walls are Skarmory, Blissey, Ferrothorn, and Jirachi.
Utility:Cleric: Clerics provide team support for the rest of the team with moves such as Wish and Heal Bell. Clerics are generally more defensively oriented, and can be thus considered a sub-category Defensive Pokemon. Defensive teams generally appreciate Clerics since they can heal up otherwise fatal status conditions such as Toxic. A good Cleric would be Blissey, who has access to both Wish and Heal Bell.
Stall Breakers are akin to Wall Breakers, but more diverse. Stall Breakers are Pokemon that can help beat Stall. Generally, offensive teams enjoy these, as well-played Stall can wear down unprepared Offensive teams. Stall Breakers aim to beat down and defeat multiple Defensive Pokemon, enabling the rest of your team to maneuver around opposing Stall teams. Stall Breaking is achieved in several ways, but most commonly Taunt, which prevents Defensive Pokemon from using their main "weapons" of Offense, such as Toxic or Entry Hazards. As said above, many walls do not have good Offensive stats, and therefore will suffer at the hands of Stall Breakers that have good defenses, such as Mew, Jellicent, and Gliscor. Reuniclus also gets a mention because of its ability "Magic Guard", which prevents all damage from non-direct attacks. This renders Toxic useless on Reuniclus. It is also not affected by Entry Hazards. In addition, Reuniclus has solid HP and great bulk, allowing to use Recover to get its health back if damaged, and slowly but steadily start to set up Calm Minds and prepare for a sweep. However, due to the fact that many Stall teams have a phazer, Reuniclus users often have to rely on a Last-Pokemon sweep to pull this off.
TiersIf you're getting into competitive, you've definitely heard about tiers. Mostly, they are based on usage, save a few that are based on the Pokemon's stage, or the banlists.
By default, one would follow Smogon, the most competitive site around.
The tiers are listed here with their Pokemon: http://www.smogon.com/bw/tiers/
A description of each tier: Tiers and MetagamesMetagames
Ever wonder what people talk about on Smogon's IRC or on PO? What's TyraniBOAH? Why is it called Haxrachi?
Those are lists of common terms in competitive battling. You'll learn most of them just by context.
While not exactly a tier, Speed tiering is important if you want to know what Pokemon you want to outrun. In general, the offensive Speed tier lies in the base 90 - base 115 Speed range, or 279 - 361. Many of the popular offensive Pokemon in battling fall in this range. Another popular Speed tier is found in the base 70 Range, or in other words, 176 - 262. Many defensive Pokemon and slower offensive Pokemon do not go past 239 number (maximum for neutral base 70) in how much they can hit at max, and as such, if you aim to use stall breakers such as Gliscor, that's generally a good number to hit. Another popular Speed tier is 244. Max Speed Tyranitar hits 243 and can be very dangerous if it Dragon Dances, after which it can outspeed all of the Pokemon in the common offensive Speed tier, sitting at 364. Gliscor needs 72 Speed EVs with a neutral Speed nature to achieve 244 and Taunt or 2HKO Tyranitar with Earthquake. Defensive Rotom-W also aims for this range, requiring 144 Speed EV's with a neutral Speed nature, being able to then Speed-tie with Gliscor or Will-O-Wisping Tyranitar and rendering it crippled. In addition, noting how much certain Pokemon hit after a stat boosting move is another good way to determine how much to invest in the Speed Stat. For example, a Gyarados with 168 Speed EV's and a positive Speed nature is able to outspeed Jolteon (Base 130) after a single Dragon Dance. As such, the remainder of the EVs can be added for extra bulk that can allow Gyarados to potentially live a few more hits than it would not otherwise.
Another thing that should be noted is that between neutral natures, the difference between each base stat is 2, so a neutral nature Lucario (base 90 Speed) maxes out at 279, while neutral nature Dragonite (base 80 Speed) maxes out at 259. This is a 20 point, or 80 EV difference. In positive natures, the stat difference is 2.2 per every base stat point difference, with the decimal rounded down. As such, per every 10 stat difference in positive natures, there is a margin of 22, thus a 88 EV difference. You can use this to your advantage to help slower Pokemon outrun Pokemon that are just a little faster than themselves, but often don't invest Speed, and vice versa for fast Pokemon against slower Pokemon that invest a lot of Speed. For example, Gliscor with Jolly nature likes to run 216 Speed EV's to outrun base 90 Pokemon that invest maximum in speed, with the remainder of its EVs invested in HP/Defense for slightly more bulk.
Speed creeping is the idea of outrunning Pokemon that commonly run a similar Speed investment. While 244+ is a good target to hit, many Pokemon that try to aim for that range really go for about 248 or higher due to speed creeping. Gliscor generally try to outrun each other and Taunt the opposition, making the opposing Ice Fang do insignificant amounts of damage after Poison Heal, while setting up Swords Dance to eventually sweep or force the opposition out. As such, Gliscor generally run 76 Speed EVs or higher, but the number that many Gliscor users run is actually much higher, some sitting at 92. However, one must be careful not too invest too much in Speed, as that makes less room for defensive capabilities.
Speed tiers for OU: http://www.smogon.com/bw/articles/ouspeed_tiers
ConclusionAs you'll notice, when you switch from community to community, there will be differences among the metagames and such. That is because these are different people, so they have different preferences. It's up to you to learn what's different about where you play, and how to play it.