Team Building GuideBy Anti Pop Culture Warrior & format design by BeachBoy
Pokémon team building is one of the most important skills a competitive battler should have. It is also a skill that many competitive battlers struggle with. This guide is here to help you hone your team building skills so that you can compete on a high level with battlers everywhere.
[a id]intro[/a id]I. Introduction
Some Pokémon are better at performing some tasks than others. Each Pokémon you consider for your team will fit into specific roles, which are described below. It is vital to any trainer's success to understand what each of these types of Pokémon do and how to effectively counter each strategy.
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II. Basic Roles
[a id]offense[/a id]A. Offensive RolesThese Pokémon are used to inflict pain on the opponent's Pokémon. They are regularly used on offensive teams, but they also show up on most other types of teams. These Pokémon include:
→ Physical Sweeper
Description: Physical sweepers use physical attacks to attempt to sweep the opposing team. Physical sweepers have good attack and speed, and they often use stat-up moves like Swords Dance and Dragon Dance. Some physical sweepers use a Choice Band to power up their attacks without any setting up required. Physical sweepers also have the benefit of being able to abuse powerful moves like Outrage, Close Combat, and Earthquake, which can make them difficult to stop.
→ Special Sweeper
Description: Special sweepers use special attacks to attempt to sweep the opposing team. Special sweepers have good special attack and speed, and they often use stat-up moves like Calm Mind and Nasty Plot. Some special sweepers use Choice Specs to power up their attacks without any setting up required. Many special sweepers have problems dealing with Blissey (who walls most special sweepers), which can make them less attractive than physical sweepers.
→ Mixed Sweeper
Description: Mixed sweepers use both physical and special attacks to attempt to sweep the opposing team. Mixed sweepers have good attack and special attack and usually have decent speed as well. Mixed sweepers are most often used to break through both physical and special walls, so they are popular Pokémon for dismantling stall teams.
→ Revenge Killer
Description: Revenge killers are Pokémon that come in after one of its teammates has fallen to defeat the Pokémon that defeated it. Revenge killers commonly use Choice Scarf to outspeed the Pokémon they are looking to revenge kill. Priority moves like Ice Shard and Aqua Jet are also not uncommon to see on revenge killers. Revenge killers are often staples of offensive teams to ensure the defeat of other threatening sweepers.
[a id]defense[/a id]B. Defensive RolesThese Pokémon are used to stop sweepers from inflicting serious pain on all other Pokémon. They are regularly used on stall teams, but they also show up on most other types of teams. These Pokémon include:
→ Physical Wall
Description: Physical walls are Pokémon used to stop physical sweepers and to wall physical attacks in general. Instant recovery outside of Rest/Sleep Talk is always an asset to physical walls, and many have access to it through Roost, Recover, or even Slack Off. Typing is very important for physical walls so that they can buy a resistance or immunity to common attack types they will be facing while also avoiding weaknesses to those very types.
→ Special Wall
Description: Special walls are Pokémon used to stop special sweepers and to wall special attacks in general. Instant recovery outside of Rest/Sleep Talk is always an asset to special walls, though few actually boast it. Special walls generally depend on large HP and/or special defense stats so that special sweepers cannot do significant damage before they are defeated, whereas physical walls traditionally depend on their resistances and immunities to wall opposing sweepers.
→ Mixed Wall
Description: Mixed walls are Pokémon used to stop all kinds of sweepers and to wall both physical and special attacks. Mixed walls are especially useful for stopping mixed sweepers since they can take both physical and special attacks. However, most mixed walls cannot wall physical attacks as well as normal physical walls orspecial attacks as well as normal special walls, so they should not be overestimated.
→ Bulky Water
Description: Bulky waters are Pokémon whose water typing gives them very few weaknesses, and added on top of good HP and defense stats, they can effectively wall a handful of physical sweepers. Bulky waters are often used to defeat dragons like Salamence and Dragonite with Ice Beam. Bulky waters have taken a hit with the coming of more powerful physical sweepers in DP, so they usually aren't as reliable as traditional physical walls.
→ Counter Utility
Description: Counter utilities are Pokémon that are almost exclusively designed to counter a few specific threats very effectively. Most counter utilities are walls or Pokémon that are focused on defense rather than offense. They are very useful for filling in very specific holes in teams.
[a id]support[/a id]C. Support RolesThese Pokémon are used to support all kinds of teams in various ways; this depends on the specific role of the supporter. These Pokémon include:
→ SRer / (Toxic) Spiker
Description: SRers (Stealth Rockers) and Spikers lay down Stealth Rock and Spikes, respectively. Spikers are usually only seen on stall teams to rack up damage on incoming Pokémon, and Toxic Spikes are not far behind. In the case of Stealth Rock, however, many Pokémon can effectively set it in play, and it is the key for many sweepers to get the KOs they need to sweep. Some leads exist for the sole purpose of laying down Stealth Rock to set up the team's sweepers.
→ Hazer / PHazer
Description: Hazers and PHazers (Pseudo-Hazers) are Pokémon used to eliminate stat-ups the opposing Pokémon has accumulated. They are often used to counter Baton Pass strategies. PHazers usually carry either Roar or Whirlwind to blow the opposing Pokémon out of play, which effectively eliminates all stat boosts as well as substitutes. PHazing moves are also useful for abusing entry hazards like Stealth Rock, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes.
→ Rapid Spinner
Description: Rapid Spinners are Pokémon that attempt to get rid of popular entry hazards like Stealth Rock, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes by using Rapid Spin to clear the field of them. They are a necessity on teams that have several Pokémon weak to Stealth Rock, especially Pokémon like Moltres and Yanmega. However, ghosts can block Rapid Spin, so rapid spinners are the most effective when they can deal with the ghosts that try to block Rapid Spin.
→ Baton Passer
Description: Baton Passers are Pokémon that use Baton Pass to pass stat boosts and much, much more to help teammates. They are primarily used to set up sweepers by either making them extremely fast or incredibly powerful, but they can pass other benefits as well. More information regarding what can be passed to teammates using Baton Pass can be found here.
Description: Clerics are Pokémon that use Aromatherapy or Heal Bell to wipe out status ailments that their team is being plagues with. Clerics are often replaced on teams by status absorbers that take status for the entire team (usually with Rest/Sleep Talk). Clerics have seen less usage in DP due to the fact that they give the opponent a free turn to switch out or set up.
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III. Building Your Team
[a id]types[/a id]A. Team TypesIn order to build a successful team that can climb the leader board, you must first choose the type of team you think would best fit your playing style and the current conditions of the metagame. Pokémon team types include:
Description: Offensive teams are the force in the metagame today, using high-powered sweepers and speedy revenge killers to wipe out their opponents before they can respond. Most offensive teams require Stealth Rock for certain sweepers to sweep, and they often use leads whose sole purpose is to set up Stealth Rock for the rest of the team.
Description: Stall teams are the polar opposite of offensive teams, as they almost exclusively use walls and defensive Pokémon to wear out and stall their opponents to death. They abuse entry hazards and like to badly poison foes to make them easier to stall out, and they are great at slowing down the game.
Description: Balanced teams are the teams that use a combination of offensive and defensive techniques to remain defensively solid while retaining enough power to potentially devastate the opponent. They use all kinds of Pokémon to help achieve victory, so the structures of balanced teams will vary. Balanced teams are rare to see since they usually don't have the offense to break stall teams or the defense to stop offensive teams.
→ Weather / Trick Room
Description: Weather teams are teams that are set up around a weather effect like hail, sandstorm, rain, or sunshine. The former two are used to do more damage to the opponent (and occasionally abuse evasion abilities like Snow Cloak and Sand Veil), while the latter two usually have offense in mind. Trick Room teams are much like Rain Dance and Sunny Day teams, as they use slow, powerful Pokémon to sweep the opponent in the five turns that it is in effect.
→ Baton Pass
Description: A team dedicated to passing around stat boosts with Baton Pass to prepare a sweep. These kinds of teams often use 5 Baton Passers with various stat boosting moves with a sweeper at the end of the so called "Baton Pass chain," but can also have two or even three sweepers, which may or may not also know Baton Pass though their primary focus is to sweep. They are very hit-or-miss, and for that reason, they are rarely seen in serious competitive battles.
[a id]selection[/a id]B. Pokémon Selections & StrategyOnce you know what type of team you want to use, you'll want to choose Pokémon that fit that team type, and more importantly, your playing style. However, restricting yourself too much when selecting your Pokémon will likely lay the foundation for an unsuccessful team. Sometimes, not over thinking things and just trying out what you think will work gets you the best results.
Also, it's important not to get too caught up in Pokémon roles. Being sure that your team always has a certain numbers of physical walls and sweepers, special walls and sweepers, tanks, etc. will restrict you too much and often ends in a disjointed and disunified team. On the same token, you can restrict yourself by trying too hard to be unique or to stand out from the crowd, which is only setting yourself up for failure. While creative and unexpected movesets have their place, using them in excess will only hurt your team when Pokémon who are better suited for the job are being left out. Just stick with the reliable old standards, and when you get good enough, then you can try to be more creative.
Instead of over thinking selections and restricting your options, come up with a simple strategy for your team. A lot of teams try to open a a sweep for a certain Pokémon and have the rest of the team get rid of its counters and pave the way so that it can accomplish its goal. This is a common strategy for offensive teams. Some teams just try to wear down the opponent and slowly suck their life away, which is what almost every stall team's strategy is. While it is possible to win without a specific strategy, it is very helpful for building a successful team.
Once you have a team type in mind and a strategy in place, it is time to select the Pokémon you want to help execute your strategy. If the strategy or your team is to sweep with Swords Dance Lucario in the late game, then you'll want Pokémon that support it. For example, Choice Scarf Dugtrio will trap and kill ScarfTran and Choice Scarf Magnezone on the spot, which eliminates two potential roadblocks. Gliscor counters SDLuke, so using Toxic Heracross to cripple and and wear it down to the point where it is no longer a factor also contributes to the team and what it is trying to accomplish.
However, even the best strategy can fall apart in the middle of a battle. If Heracross and Dugtrio are both knocked out at the beginning of the battle, you have to have a backup plan. For example, you could use Swampert, who is a good counter to Heatran, Magnezone, and Gliscor to keep these threats to Lucario at bay. You could also invest in other independant sweepers to try to crush your opponent's team that way or at least weaken it to the point where Lucario can sweep. Being unprepared for disaster will spell doom, so have a backup plan if the original strategy falls apart.
Also, be sure not to use a Pokémon that is completely outclassed by another one. Why use Calm Mind Espeon when Alakazam is faster and more powerful? Also, if you want to make a serious team that is supposed to be able to compete with anybody, you will have to get over how much you hate a certain Pokémon and be willing to use it if it's best for your team. Otherwise, your team will never reach its full potential.
While building your team, it is important that you understand that your opponent won't be waiting to fall victim to your strategy. Your opponent will also be trying to execute a gameplan to defeat your team. You will have to be prepared for what your opponent could throw at you, so you'll want to have a counter, check, and/or revenge killer to as many threats on this list as you can. It's almost impossible to counter everything, so don't waste your time trying to. For your RMT threads, you can copy and paste the threat list you need from here and put it into your RMT to do some of the work for the team raters while adding depth to your RMT.
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IV. Threat List
[a id]overused[/a id]A. OU Threat ListIf you're building an OU team, this is the threat list you're looking for. It has been divided into two sections: Offensive Pokémon and Defensive & Support Pokémon. A lot of the Pokémon listed can fit into both sections, so be sure to check out the link to each Pokémon's Smogon analysis page so you know exactly what to prepare for.
Defensive & Support Pokémon
[a id]underused[/a id]B. UU Threat ListIf you're building an UU team, this is the threat list you're looking for. It has been divided into two sections: Offensive Pokémon and Defensive & Support Pokémon. A lot of the Pokémon listed can fit into both sections, so be sure to check out the link to each Pokémon's Smogon analysis page so you know exactly what to prepare for.
Defensive & Support Pokémon
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V. Perfecting Your Team
[a id]test[/a id]A. Testing Your TeamThe first thing that you should do when you complete your team is start battling with it. Many problems and weaknesses will become obvious right away, while you will get used to your team and learn how to win with it. Problems that show up when testing should be dealt with as soon as possible, and then you should battle more to see if the changes you made had a positive effect.
It is important not to fool yourself into thinkingt that only battling in a few matches will give you a clear picture of what your team can and can't do, because that simply isn't the case. You will need to battle a variety of different Pokémon and playing styles before you can make any solid conclusions.
It is also important to be honest with yourself. If you lost because you played poorly, that's fine, but be sure that you know when a loss was your fault and when it had something to do with the way your team is structured. It is tough to always be right in that regard, but not being in denial about your losses will help you improve your team..
[a id]rate[/a id]B. Posting A RMT ThreadAfter you have completed testing your team, a good way to improve your team is to post a RMT Thread in Strategies and Movesets on PokéCommunity or Stark Mountain on Smogon. For more information on making an attractive RMT post, look here. Team raters can give you valuable insight on what your team might need help with. Be sure to be open to their suggestions even if your team is doing well, as there is always room for improvement.
Also, don't be afraid to replace Pokémon on your team for new ones. Trying out new things is always beneficial, and if it doesn't work out, you can always go back to what you had before. Besides, you will gain experience with different Pokémon, which can be useful when playing against those Pokémon or when you are building another team in the future.
Once you've gotten the most out of your RMT thread, tested your team, and taken care of problems with certain opposing Pokémon, you've finished your team! Congratulations! Now you get to battle and ladder with a solid team and have fun doing it. If any new problems emrge, you can always retrace your steps to get the problem fixed.
That concludes this guide on team building, and I hope you found it helpful! Team building can be a long and even painful process, so hopefully this gave you some insight into how to make it a smoother and more fun process. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.
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VI. Closing Comments
Good luck, and happy battling!
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