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Old December 30th, 2011 (10:21 PM).
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Join Date: Dec 2009
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I. Introduction

Team rating is something that can seem intimidating to a lot of people. It takes a little practice to really get the hang of it, but once you do, you will be able to improve teams in what is a rewarding experience for the rater and the team builder alike.

II. General Approach

The mission of any team rater is to improve the team in question while keeping it as true to its original form as possible. To do this, well, you will first have to identify the basic identity or strategy of a team. For example, a team with defensive Pokémon and all three entry hazards is almost always going to be a stall team. It is usually pretty obvious what a team's strategy is. If it's not, it could very well be a team that just lacks synergy and needs a lot of work; in this case, you will want to help the team builder form a coherent strategy.

Sometimes you will have to change the basic identity of a team for it to really work, but for the most part you should keep it as close to its original form as possible. After all, there is nothing worse than posting a team only to have the final product completely different than what you had intended in the first place. Similarly, you will not want to divert from its basic strategy when making changes. If you replace Politoed on a Drizzle team to deal with a Rotom-W weakness, you're doing more harm than good.

In other words, you will want to be sure that the changes you make don't cause more problems than they solve. Doing that successfully is what this guide is for.

III. Identifying Weaknesses

With a team's strategy in mind, you can turn to identifying threats so that you and the team builder both know what needs to be fixed. You should also explain why the threat you mention is indeed a threat so that your rate is as clear as possible. It is also much more helpful and constructive to explain why the threat exists so that the team builder knows exactly where the source of the problem is and can avoid simple team-building mistakes that could have led to that weakness.

There are two different kinds of threats. Identifying both is key to giving the most thorough rate possible.

A. Individual Pokémon

The most traditional kind of threat is an individual Pokémon. You will often see raters say something like "this team is Starmie weak" or something similar to that. It is important to figure out what individual Pokémon cause problems because these are potentially deadly weaknesses that are usually pretty easy to fix. Of course, not every Pokémon can be countered or even checked, but major threats should be accounted for, at least to some degree.

If you struggle with figuring out exactly what Pokémon give a team trouble, you can just look at the list of OU Pokémon and look at the team to see their answer to it. For example, if you look at Terrakion and then see that the team has a Slowbro on it, you can assume that Terrakion is not a threat. However, if when looking at Rotom-W you see that there are no immunities or resistances to Electric-type attacks and the only special wall is Tyranitar, who is weak to Rotom-W's Hydro Pump, it is something to make note of as a major threat to the team.

Of course, this can be time-consuming, but it comes easier—and and much more quickly—with practice and knowledge of the metagame. For example, if the team in question has Specially Defensive Jirachi and Latias, most special attackers are probably going to be stopped by one of the two, so you can quickly skim through them.

Again, a team's strategy comes into play here. A stall team is going to mostly want hard counters and a few reliable checks to deal with offensive Pokémon. An offense team is going to rely much more on checks and just outplaying opponents by utilizing the resistances and natural bulk of attackers. A Choice Band Scizor is probably going to be the best answer to Haxorus you're going to find, but given the fact that offense teams attempt to control momentum and kill before being killed, checks and revenge killers are suitable answers to offensive threats.

B. Playstyles

Entire playstyles can also be threatening. The most common example of this is that many teams cannot break stall teams. By themselves, defensive Pokémon are very easy to counter, as they are not usually offensively threatening and can be forced out by attackers that can pick on a weaker defensive stat and/or a type weakness. However, this is only a short-term answer when playing against a stall team. Skarmory does not mind being forced out by Jolteon if it gets down a layer of Spikes, as it has already started contributing to the strategy of wearing you down, and it can always come in later to lay down another layer. Stall teams will easily survive long enough to lay down their hazards against teams that aren't prepared to break through the defensive prowess of the stall team, and then, despite the fact that all of the Pokémon are individually accounted for, the stall team will easily stall out its opponent and win.

People Playersoften use "stallbreakers" to overwhelm walling combos. These are usually powerful and/or diverse attackers like Haxorus and Lucario that with only a little support can run over a stall team. More generally, strong offensive synergy will bring down a stall team, especially when it is accompanied by a lure or trapper Pokémon. Rapid Spinners and Taunt + Toxic stallers are other ways to combat stall teams. If someone's team lacks most or all of these things and does not appear to have any way of breaking stall, it is just as important to mention as a weakness to Salamence or Landorus. It is also a tell-tale sign that a team is weak to stall if one walling duo can easily shut down the whole thing.

The other playstyle that is typically a problem for teams is weather-based teams. Drought, Drizzle, and Sand Stream can power up multiple attackers for an entire match and allow them to gradually overpower the defenses of an opponent, and Snow Warning makes Blizzard 100% accurate for those brave enough to attempt a Hail team. If a team has three Pokémon weak to Water and only a Celebi to sponge those hits, it probably won't last very long against Rain stall or Rain offense.

To figure out if a team is weak to a certain variation of weather, it is a good idea to look at how the team deals with the most popular weather abusers. If it can handle them pretty well and has a backup plan of some sort, it's probably fine, but having a gaping weakness to CBTar and Landorus means that Sandstorm teams as a whole are going to be an enormous problem.

IV. Fixing Weaknesses

Once you have pointed out what the threats are to a team and properly explained them, you will want to suggest solutions. This can be difficult because you can basically redo the team in the process (which is never good) or you can create as many weaknesses as you eliminate.

To do this well, a good place to start is looking for a Pokémon that does little to contribute to the overall strategy of the team or just isn't very helpful or outclassed. This is usually a Pokémon that performs the same role as a team member and just seems redundant. Replacing that Pokémon with one that deals with most of the weaknesses you noticed will go a long way toward making the team more solid and should help with its synergy. That being said, your replacement should not be equally incongruous: recommending a frail Choice Scarfer for a stall team or a mixed wall Porygon2 on a Heavy Offense team might cover a few weaknesses, but it's still not very helpful because they don't fit in with the teams' playstyles.

Many good teams do not have a Pokémon that appears to be "dead weight," but there are still a few weaknesses that need to be taken care of. One way to do this is to look for a Pokémon that performs the same role as one of those already on the team that can also fill in a weakness. For example, if someone is using Choice Band Tyranitar to trap [email protected] with Pursuit and generally provide a hard hitting physical attacker, but Haxorus and Trick Room Reuniclus cause problems, a Choice Band Scizor would be a reasonable replacement. It deals with Reuniclus and Haxorus pretty well and, as long as the team does not rely heavily on Sandstorm, Scizor is a solid replacement. It can be tricky trying to keep the original synergy intact and sometimes your suggestions just won't work. That just comes with the territory and you can't be afraid to make a wrong suggestion or else you might withhold a really useful one.

The last step of fixing weaknesses is explaining how they improve the team. One of the most common rating mistakes is when people say "use this" and post a moveset. Even if the advice is good, you are not giving the OP any reason to take your suggestion, and by not explaining how it helps, the team builder might not even understand why exactly they're making the change if they do in fact take the suggestion. It usually only takes one concise sentence to explain your suggestion, and it really can be a big help.

V. Other Fixes

So far, this guide has covered how to fix errors in a team's structure, mostly relating to things that are strategic in nature. However, there are more minor tactical changes that are also important. Most good teams won't require many of these fixes, but they are important to maximizing each Pokémon's individual potential. These changes include fixing any inefficient or numerically impossible EV spreads, replacing any completely outclassed Pokémon, fixing a moveset to give the Pokémon better type coverage, etc. These kinds of changes will sometimes be the lion's share of the changes you make in a rate, so even though they're routine and often require little thinking, you shouldn't overlook them!

VI. "Noob" Teams

Whenever you run into a team with users of Fly, Hyper Beam and its clones, and four starter Pokémon, you're rating the team of someone who is new to competitive battling. Most of the rating strategies discussed above will not benefit them much because they won't understand why they're important or where they went wrong with Hyper Beam Meganium. In cases like this, you'll want to explain some of the more glaring errors they made and link them to the necessary guides, which will usually be an Introduction to Competitive Battling or an introduction to EVs. There is no point in being needlessly rude or gashing the entire team and replacing everything with standard OU Pokémon. After all, it's not like their first team is going to take the leaderboard by storm. Fix the most egregious errors and then set them up for future success with the appropriate links. Being too harsh can kill a new player's spirit.

In other words, just remember that rating a team that discusses Scizor's synergy with Latias and a cool lure Gengar should be approached differently than one made by someone who wouldn't even understand the first part of this sentence. It's common sense, really.

VII. Conclusion

Hopefully this guide was helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or ask for help in the Simple Q&A Thread or Competitive Battling Chat stickies!

looks good. i just wanted to add that sometimes being gashing can be useful. i remember when i first posted my first RMT before the wipe, i had like SD Lucario with a Choice Band. Clearly I didn't know what I was doing, but I got torn apart pretty bad for it by a certain user who won't be named but it rhymes with schmyndrome. That's not to say it's always the case, but sometimes tough love with a hint of positive direction pays off.

Also, VERY IMPORTANT to everyone who reads this and is new to Team Rating, make sure you read that part about staying true to the team. Then re-read it. Then re-read it again. So many people do not understand that.
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