"Battle Me... FOR HONOR!" Jousting on 1v1

By DEG and partys over.
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Art by LifeisDANK

Art by LifeisDANK.

The 1v1 metagame is quite the special one, as it doesn't follow singles rules nor doubles rules and is another game on its own. What happens when the Pokémon you're using doesn't have a team to support it by constantly switching in and out? What happens when most decisions are made in the teambuilder and in Team Preview? If you're interested in joining 1v1, here are six maxims that you need to remember or know before jumping into the competitive scene.

1. The unexpected Pokémon, moveset, or EV spread is very powerful in 1v1. To succeed at the highest level, your opponent cannot know everything about your team

When it comes to 1v1, people may assign a set to your Pokémon directly from Team Preview and proceed to use a Pokémon to beat that specific set. So your job as a 1v1 player is to tweak that set and be able to defeat whatever your opponent throws at you. The way you can do that is by either using an unexpected Pokémon, moveset, or EV spread. The first option gives you the edge in Team Preview, as your opponent may not know what role this Pokémon fills, leading them into choosing the wrong Pokémon. But be sure that the unknown Pokémon you're using is viable in a way that its moveset can beat some Pokémon in the metagame and isn't just used because you like the Pokémon. A Pokémon that has little to no niche or unpredictability cannot perform well.

Some Pokémon are known for a specific moveset or two; tweaking such a moveset into an unexpected one may hand you some wins. For example, the common Magearna set carries Choice Specs to maximize its damage output, making it weak to Ground-type Pokémon such as Donphan and Garchomp. If you want to lure in Ground-type Pokémon to earn wins in important games, you can run Air Balloon Magearna, which can check all Ground-type Pokémon or the ones that carry Ground-type coverage easily, earning you the win if your opponent chooses that Pokémon.


Other examples of moveset tweaking can be the changing of moves instead of items; an example of this is Greninja, which can run different moves depending on what its team is weak to. A standard Greninja runs Choice Specs with this set:


On the other hand, if Mega Venusaur gets tricky to beat, you can run Extrasensory Greninja to defeat it, or if Fairy-type Pokémon get in your way, Life Orb Gunk Shot Greninja can surprise the opponent. A Greninja that checks Mega Venusaur can be represented by this set:


EV-tweaking isn't uncommon in the 1v1 metagame, and it is also a great way to achieve success on high-ladder or tournament play. An example of Pokémon that may tweak its EVs is Mega Mawile, which often runs maximum HP and maximum Attack when trying to do its job and dismantle other Pokémon. When your opponent knows that a way of defeating Mega Mawile is to have a Pokémon that are bulky and hit it with a super effective attack, things tend to get tricky, though; thus, you can have the upper hand and change Mega Mawile's EVs to make it survive stronger attacks, such as Earthquake from Choice Scarf Garchomp and Choice Scarf Porygon-Z.

Mega Mawile

If you want to take unexpected to another level, you can try running underused Pokémon, which can surely do the trick and earn you some wins or give you the upper hand in tournament play. When your opponent sees a Pokémon they have never seen before, they probably won't know the common threats it beats, so you'll have the upper hand to an extent. There's a lot of unexpected Pokémon and sets that you can try to make work; they may not be the best Pokémon, but they can do their job checking big threats enough for a tournament or high ladder game.


This is an example of an underused Pokémon in the metagame that doesn't see much usage on the ladder. With this set, Araquanid acts as a special sponge, allowing it to survive nukes such as Hyper Beam from Meloetta, Porygon-Z, and Genesect while retaliating back with Mirror Coat. When facing another battler, whether in tournament or high ladder, they might not know what to pick against Araquanid and misplay on the first turn, giving you the upper hand.

2. The more lures the better

This might also seem somewhat self-explanatory; however, it's still important. On the 1v1 ladder where you will often battle the same opponents multiple times, one single lure can get old quickly. However, with multiple lures, you can repeatedly catch opponents off guard and win the game because of it. There's two types of lures: a team lure and a singular lure. Both are pretty similar. The team lure is used when your whole team is weak to a Pokémon, so you adjust one Pokémon on your team that usually loses against a specific foe so it can beat it. This strategy pushes the opponent to pick the Pokémon your team is allegedly weak to and ends up surprising them with your set, giving you the win. Meanwhile, the singular lure can be used on any team and given EVs to beat a Pokémon that is common in the metagame even though your team already beats it; this gives you a higher chance to beat it.

Example of team lure:

Tapu Koko @ Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 248 HP / 8 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Thunder
- Charge
- Substitute
- Taunt

Charizard-Mega-X @ Charizardite X
Ability: Tough Claws
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Dragon Dance
- Flare Blitz
- Outrage
- Will-O-Wisp

Magearna @ Air Balloon
Ability: Soul-Heart
EVs: 228 HP / 84 Def / 184 SpA / 12 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Flash Cannon
- Fleur Cannon
- Hidden Power [Fire]
- Thunderbolt

As seen by Team Preview, this team is clearly weak to Ground-type Pokémon, especially Donphan and Choice Band Garchomp. If your opponent has one of these Pokémon, they will clearly not hesitate to send it in, so you need a check to that Pokémon. In this case you have actually two options. The first is to run Fairium Z on Tapu Koko to OHKO Garchomp, which doesn't solve the Ground weakness. The other option is to run Air Balloon on Magearna, which allows it to easily take on the most notable Ground-type Pokémon in the metagame, Donphan and Garchomp.

A singular lure is a tweaked moveset a Pokémon uses to check a Pokémon it normally loses to. It can be added on any team even if that team isn't weak to the specific Pokémon you're trying to lure in. An example of a possible singular lure is Dragonite. Everyone expects a physical Dragonite, so running a special Dragonite can surprise many physically defensive threats such as Mega Slowbro, Counter Donphan, and Mega Sableye.

Heracross-Mega @ Heracronite
Ability: Guts
EVs: 236 HP / 188 Atk / 52 Def / 32 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Close Combat
- Arm Thrust
- Pin Missile
- Rock Blast

Dragonite @ Dragonium Z
Ability: Multiscale
EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Mild Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Fire Blast
- Earthquake
- Extreme Speed

Tapu Fini @ Waterium Z
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 192 HP / 180 Def / 80 SpA / 56 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Moonblast
- Hydro Pump
- Rain Dance
- Calm Mind

This team isn't weak to physically defensive Pokémon at Team Preview, but the usage of special Dragonite can be beneficial, as you gain more checks to the aforementioned threats that can be found in a lot of tournament games and high ladder.

On the other hand, once you have shown a player the lure, even if they lose, they can adapt. Because of this, it's also important to not reveal lures unless you need to use them to win. Despite this, lures are still an incredible tool in 1v1 that are often crucial to winning games. Having multiple lures is a great strategy that many players use to excel.

3. Making the correct plays during a 1v1 battle is underrated but equally important as teambuilding and choosing your Pokémon

While some people think that 1v1 is almost completely decided by turn 1, that isn't very true. There are plenty of matchups completely decided by skill. This is where predicting comes into play. Matchups like Substitute Tapu Koko vs Protect Blaziken depend on who predicts what. Here is an example of a particularly well-played Mega Charizard X winning a tricky matchup using prediction.

But that doesn't stop here! Teambuilding is as important as making the correct play. You need to build a team that isn't weak to any Pokémon at Team Preview, and if it is, you need to use lures effectively to beat that Pokémon as mentioned above or just edit the team until you get a working team. No team is perfect, and no team can beat the whole metagame, but the trick is to create a team that can beat a huge portion of the metagame with the combination of three Pokémon. For example, a team of Mega Mawile / Mega Venusaur / Tapu Fini sounds solid, as it can beat a good amount of the metagame and high ranked Pokémon such as Mega Gyarados, and Mega Charizard X, though some matchups can be tricky such as against Tapu Koko. This shows you that no team is perfect. It needs to be tweaked to be able to take on top threats in the metagame even if only one Pokémon can beat another and not two or three (here only Mega Venusaur can defeat Tapu Koko).

4. Always be suspicious of 252 / 252 EV spreads. Ask yourself which Pokémon you are trying to KO, not be KOed by, and outspeed.

In a metagame with only three Pokémon on a team, beating as many Pokémon as possible with one Pokémon is important. While EVing your Pokémon to beat 1 one specific Pokémon might not make a difference, it can be hard to beat top tier threats without optimized spreads. There's already a written guide on that in the 1v1 thread, which can be found here. This is an extract of the post showing why you need to EV your Pokémon:

"6v6 is all about synergy and about having switch-ins for every move to survive as long as possible and take out your opponent in the process. In 1v1 this isn't the case, it's about the individual strengths of your Pokémon and their ability to support each other. This is why in 1v1 having a good set is essential. A Durant with 252 Attack and 252 Speed (Jolly Nature) simply can't top a 228 Atk / 28 Def / 252+ Spe Durant because in the end you beat things you normally could lose to, while not losing to new things in the process."

Also keep in mind that not all Pokémon need to have custom EVs to succeed. Some can be fine with 252 / 252 because custom EVs do not add anything or allow them to be better, such as Greninja.

5. If you can only win with hax, go for hax

While this rule may seem obvious, in a 1v1 scenario hax is often game-changing. Clicking the forfeit button and moving on might seem tempting; however, you can definitely win games you won't expect to. With a bit of luck, Pokemon like Mega Charizard Y can use moves like Air Slash to take advantage of its 30% chance to Flinch Pokemon such as Golem, which would win without hax. With this in mind, it's also quite important to not over-rely on hax. If you find yourself in a matchup you think you can't win, evaluate all your options. With that said, you should still go for hax if your other options will make you lose. Don't be the guy who picks Jirachi every time at Team Preview and won't stop clicking Heart Stamp against Charizards, though.

6. Remember that you are facing everyone on the ladder when you choose to play. Be prepared to change your movesets, EVs, and team to counter the ladder

When you're on the 1v1 ladder, you usually won't find a very diverse set of opponents and Pokémon. Instead, you'll often encounter the same Pokémon and teams. Because of this, you can maximize your chances of winning by adjusting your team to what Pokémon are on the ladder. If there's a coverage move you haven't been using, consider editing it in to better suit what you're currently facing. However, when editing your team, make sure your team as a whole is still solid. Just because you're not repeatedly encountering a top tier threat like Mega Charizard Y doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared for it. You'll see new Pokémon from new players as well as other players adjusting their own teams.

These are the six maxims (that were originally pointed out by Kentari) you need to know to be able to join the 1v1 competitive scene and succeed in tournaments that are hosted in the 1v1 room and in the OM Subforum.

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