The Beginner's Guide to Pokémon Showdown

By Alter.


  1. Introduction and Background
  2. Settings
  3. Commands
  4. Teambuilder
  5. Battling
  6. Community
  7. Rooms
  8. Resources and Links

Introduction and Background

Pokémon Showdown, often formatted as Pokémon Showdown!, is a popular competitive Pokemon simulator. It was created by Zarel and opened in October of 2011, but it was not until July 2, 2012 that it was adopted as Smogon's official battle simulator. Pokémon Showdown is a web-based project available on all major browsers and also has a downloadable client. This means you can play Pokémon Showdown on web browsers such as Google Chrome or download it from the internet and play it straight from your desktop.

Pokémon Showdown was designed to simulate the conditions of WiFi Pokemon games in a more stable environment, which creates a more efficient method in which to be involved in the competitive Pokemon setting. The aim of this guide is to explain to new users to the way in which Pokémon Showdown operates and integrate said users into the community as a whole. This guide may also contain sections which help give understanding to aspects of the program to veterans of the site, as well.


Pokémon Showdown also allows users to customize their settings to their own preference. In order to change those settings, one should navigate their cursor to the top right of the main menu when logged in and hit on the gear button to open up the settings menu.

Currently, it is possible to change one's avatar, change the background, disable animations, and change chat preferences. Most of these options are purely aesthetic so feel free to alter them to whichever way you prefer. Using commands, it is also possible to change some settings relating to battles. This will be covered more in-depth in the next section.


Within any of the chats it is possible to type in commands (messages beginning with /) in order to perform a particular action. A wide variety of these commands exist, with some only available to certain users. For instance, the /wall command is only available to Drivers and above. Similarly, only users ranked Leaders (&) and above (~, #) are able to promote other users within a room.

These ranks will be explained later in the guide in more depth. For more information, see the "Community" section. The commands listed will be separated into Useful & Commonly Used Commands, Highlights, Room Commands, and Miscellaneous Commands. A brief description will be provided next to each command, explaining what it does.

Useful & Commonly Used

This is a list of the most commonly used or practical commands that you will use on Pokémon Showdown.

  • /msg OR /whisper OR /w [username], [message] - Send a private message to a user.
  • /rating OR /ranking OR /ladder OR /rank [username] - Get user's rating on all of the ladders they have battled in. Leave [username] blank if you want to view your own rank.
  • /learn [pokemon], [move, move, ...] - Displays how a Pokemon can learn the given moves, if it can at all.
  • /calc - Provides a link to a damage calculator.
  • /dexsearch [type], [move], [move],...
    • Search categories are: type, tier, color, moves, ability, gen.
    • Valid colors are: green, red, blue, white, brown, yellow, purple, pink, gray and black.
    • Valid tiers are: Uber/OU/BL/UU/BL2/RU/NU/NFE/LC/CAP/Illegal.
    • Types must be followed by " type", e.g., "dragon type".
  • /data OR /info OR /stats [pokemon/item/move/ability] - Obtain details on this pokemon/item/move/ability.
  • /nick [new username] - Change your username to [new username]. If the username is already registered you will be prompted to enter a password.
  • /challenge [username] - opens up the option to send a battle challenge to another online user
  • /help [x] - Gives information on a specific subject. Replace x with a different command, subject, or 'all'.
  • /blockpm - Blocks other users from PMing you. Cannot block messages from staff.
  • /unblockpm - Unblocks other users from PMing you.
  • /blockchallenges - Blocks other users from challenging you.
  • /unblockchallenges - Unblocks other users from challenging you.


If you've spent any time in the Lobby you notice users refer to a concept of 'highlights'. In a nutshell, highlights are words that trigger a message to appear at the corner of your screen, akin to private message alerts. You may choose to highlight on specific words such as your name so that you know when people are directing discussion, questions or answers towards you specifically.

  • /highlight add, word - add a new word to the highlight list.
  • /highlight list - list all words that currently highlight you.
  • /highlight delete, word - delete a word from the highlight list.
  • /highlight delete - clear the highlight list.


The commands listed below are all relevant to the rooms. This topic is discussed more in-depth in the Rooms subsection.

  • /rooms [username] - Show what rooms a user is in
  • /roomauth - Shows the particular staff for a room in a pop-up
  • /roomhelp - Gives information on all commands that a staff member in a room can use
  • /roomban username - bans user from the room
  • /roomunban username - unbans user from the room
  • /roomvoice username - appoint a room voice
  • /roomdevoice username - remove a room voice


This is a list of the rest of the commands which aren't as commonly used or don't fit under any other specific categories. Here you will find commands you may have never even heard of, such as /faq doubles or /opensource!

  • /reply OR /r [message] - Send a private message to the last person you received a message from, or sent a message to.
  • /ip - Get your own IP address.
  • /ip [username] - Get a user's IP address. Requires: @ & ~
  • /avatar [new avatar number] - Change your trainer sprite.
  • /whois [username] - Get details on a username: group, and rooms.
  • /ignore [username] - negates messages from and ignores another online user.
  • /effectiveness [type1], [type2] - Provides the effectiveness of a [type1] attack to a [type2] Pokémon.
  • /user [username] - opens up a small tab which gives you the option to challenge, PM and check the rooms / rank of another online user
  • /analysis [pokemon], [generation] - Links to the Smogon University analysis for this Pokemon in the given generation.
  • /smogdex [pokemon], [generation] - Same as above.
  • /groups - Explains what the + % @ & ~ next to people's names mean. (This is also covered later in the guide)
  • /opensource - Links to PS's source code repository.
  • /avatars - Explains how to change avatars.
  • /intro - Provides an introduction to competitive pokemon.
  • /cap - Provides an introduction to the Create-A-Pokemon project.
  • /om - Provides links to information on the Other Metagames.
  • /weakness [pokemon/type] - Returns the type weaknesses for a specific Pokemon or type.
  • /away - Blocks challenges and PMs. Cannot block from staff.
  • /back - Unlocks challenges and PMs. (opposite of /away)
  • /faq [theme] - Provides a link to the FAQ. Add deviation, doubles, randomcap, restart, or staff for a link to these questions. Add all for all of them.
  • /clear - Clears the chat that you're currently in of all text
  • /restarthelp - Gives information regarding server restarts
  • /om month - Links to explanation of the Other Metagame of the month.
  • /timer on - Turns the battle timer on.
  • /timer off - Turns the battle timer off.


The teambuilder is a large part of Pokémon Showdown and enables users to create their own teams from scratch, important other people's teams, or edit any of their currently existing ones. Some formats on the simulator will not require you to create a team and let you jump straight into battle. An example of this is the very popular 'Random Battle' mode, or as it is commonly referred to, 'Randbats' for short.

Other tiers and formats, such as OU, Ubers, RU, and NU will require the user to create a team that coincides for the rules of that tier. If you'd like a listing of what you can and can't use for each tier, click here. If you intend to create a team for playing the Sixth Generation, a different ruleset is currently available here. In order to create a team, click on the 'Teambuilder' button in the main menu.

Building a team is fairly self-explanatory with the teambuilder guiding you along each stage of the process. You can select a Pokemon's Item, Ability, Moves, Stats, and other details such as its Level (from 1 to 100), its Gender (None, Random, Male, or Female), Happiness, and whether or not it is Shiny. Keep in mind that some sets may require a Pokemon to have particular attributes. For example, Entei can only obtain the moves Flare Blitz, Extreme Speed, Crush Claw, or Howl from a specific event which dictates that it must have an Adamant nature and be Shiny. If you attempt to enter a battle with an moveset which doesn't abide by these rules, you will be prompted to alter it before you battle.

Other features of the Teambuilder include the ability to rearrange the team slots (the "Move" button on the top right of the above image), delete existing Pokemon or teams, or import/export text versions of the team so that you can share your team with friends or the community.


Organising a battle on Pokémon Showdown is a very easy task to do. One can either opt to play in a ladder game (in which you receive a random opponent), or to challenge a specific user. To play in a ladder game, select your format and team in the top left hand corner using the drop-down boxes. If your team is accepted and deemed legal by the server for that specific format, you will be put in a queue amongst other players to join a match. The server matches you with people with the closest rank to you ideally, but expands the parameters as time progresses.

Alternatively, you can type /challenge username into chat or click on a person's name to challenge them manually. However, these types of games will not change your ranking on the ladder. From the point of two players entering a game, you'll either be thrown straight into a battle or into the Team Preview. Team Preview occurs in the majority of formats, in which case you will be given time to choose your leading Pokémon based on your opponent's team. After you've made your choice, the battle will begin almost identically to in the actual games themselves.

The process of choosing your moves and switching Pokemon is quite straightforward altogether. If you wish to mega evolve a Pokemon, click the checkbox located next to the moves and the Pokemon will then turn into the respective Mega form. If you're interested in improving your battling skill or learning more about a particular metagame, the Battling 101 and Mentoring sections of Smogon can aid newer players. To learn more about these programs, click the the links provided.


Pokémon Showdown itself is coupled with a unique and vast community which ranges from each room on the simulator as well as its forums. If you're frequently in the Lobby, you will notice regular users who discuss a range of subjects in the chat. If one has any questions, asking them in this Lobby chat is the ideal way of getting a response and if your question isn't particularly complicated, this answer will most likely be quick. In the case that you believe your question is too difficult to answer accurately through the common knowledge of others, asking said question on the Pokémon Showdown forums is also an option. Alternatively, one can also post the question in its respective Simple Questions / Simple Answers (SQSA) thread on the Smogon forums or PM a Voiced user (+) on the simulator to answer your question individually.

One of the most common questions I see on Pokémon Showdown would be, "How do you get that plus sign?", or "How do you become a mod?". These different symbols (+, %, @, &, and ~) all denote a particular level amongst staff or that the user is a "Voice".

It is no mystery that people are interested in contributing to the site or gaining status and this can be done in a range of different ways. Primarily, one can potentially be promoted through user ranks for chat contributions. This essentially means being a good influence in chat by leading strong and intelligent discussion, answering questions of other users, and not breaking the rules. One can also gain the Voice status by being a well-known and distinguished member of the community, completing the (discontinued) Voice challenges, or contributing to the simulator itself.

Being voiced marks you as a particularly good user, granting you a position at the top of the userlist, the ability to speak in moderated chat, and shows that you are a respected member to other users. Asking for status will not aid your cause and is most likely to set you back. In a similar vein, sucking up to staff is not beneficial and is not encouraged at all.

The staff members of Pokémon Showdown have a particular set of roles. Above all else, these users will enforce the rules of Pokémon Showdown if they are breached. Exceptions exist for those that are given staff membership for programming abilities or are more focussed on Smogon Policy. It is recommended that users don't direct questions towards staff, especially Administrators, if they are answerable by regular users.

According to the Staff FAQ, below is a list of ways one can be promoted. Take note that just because you fulfill these requirements doesn't mean you will instantly become ranked and that these requirements exist to set a standard, and help users understand what they can do to contribute to the site. Following these points will not ensure that you're added to staff; indeed, they are merely guidelines which can help you understand how you can join staff.

  • Be on Pokemon Showdown regularly and contribute regularly to the chat. Being a staff member requires both a high level of activity and quality. Being on the chat regularly gives a good indication of your intelligence and will ensure, with good behaviour, that you earn respect from other users.
  • Do not flame, be argumentative, or be a poor user in general. You obviously won't be given any power if you insult other users, break rules, or otherwise make more work for the staff. As well as the above, sycophancy is not beneficial, and will not aid your cause.
  • Know what you're talking about when answering questions or having discussions. Although you don't need to be a great battler by any means to be a staff member, it does help if you know the metagame, so as to make it easier for you to help others.
  • Show that you are mature and level-headed enough to have the privilege of power, and the responsibilities that come with it.
  • Moderators have the power of banning users for long periods of time, and to earn this power, you must show that you are level-headed enough to only use this and other Moderator powers when absolutely required.
  • Most importantly, gain the respect of the users and staff members. You will only be considered for a staff position when you have the respect of all of the Pokémon Showdown staff and users.


While the main room used on Pokémon Showdown is the Lobby, a variety of different rooms exist for different purposes. These rooms can range from different language rooms, rooms for people with particular hobbies or those dedicated to a particular playable format. Rooms can either be official, public (which means they're listed under "chat rooms") or they can be private.

The only currently existing official room is the Lobby, in which most discussion and activity resides. Examples of public rooms include the Tournaments and Spanish (Español) rooms which anyone may join provided they are not room banned. Private rooms are undisclosed to the public are are generally for private communities or staff areas.

Resources and Links

  • Pokémon Showdown is Smogon's official competitive simulator and is the basis of this guide.
    • Pokémon Showdown Forums are the forums section of Pokémon Showdown. One may report bugs, suggest ideas, or appeal bans here.
  • Replays contains all uploaded videos of Pokémon Showdown battles which have been saved to the server. One can search for specific battles here.
  • Antar's Guide to the PS Ladder Mechanics is a guide to Pokémon Showdown's conventional rating systems.
  • The Guide to the PS Mystery Ratings is a guide to Pokémon Showdown's suspect testing requirements rating system, written by their creator, Antar.
  • The Rules outline what are punishable offences on Pokémon Showdown.
  • #showdown is the official IRC channel.
  • News contains an archive of the Pokémon Showdown news bulletins that have been published on the server.