Getting Started with Competitive Battling

By Jordy, maroon and TPP. Released: 2021/01/12.
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Art by tiki

Art by tiki.

Hi there, welcome to Smogon :)

This guide is here to help you transition from playing Pokémon on a casual level to playing it competitively here on Smogon. In this article, we will teach you the differences between playing in-game and playing competitively. We will talk about the essentials of teambuilding and battling, and finally, we will also teach you a little about the forum and where to go after finishing this article.

When playing in-game, Trainers build teams to take on different challenges such as beating the Gym Leaders and Elite Four. However, in competitive battling, your opponents are other people. Each person will bring a different team and use different archetypes. You will need to learn how to adapt against the various playstyles and build teams to take on Pokémon's multiple different cores. Smogon has multiple different tiers, ranging from their infamous usage tiers to other official tiers such as Ubers, LC, DOU, and Monotype, as well as OMs. Each of these different tiers can be played in multiple generations. Some tiers are playable in older generations, as they have been around for a long time; however, others can only be played in more current generations due to how they are set up.

A generation in Pokémon refers to the different regions, with each one having different mechanics based on the games that were released for that generation. Each generation has different acronyms on Smogon that are based on the title of the games that were released. Generation 1 is RBY (Red, Blue, Yellow), Generation 2 is GSC (Gold, Silver, Crystal), Generation 3 is ADV (Advance), Generation 4 is DPP (Diamond, Pearl, Platinum), Generation 5 is BW (Black, White), Generation 6 is XY (X,Y), Generation 7 is SM (Sun, Moon), and finally, Generation 8 is SS (Sword, Shield). The names are pretty easy to remember, with the exception of Generation 3, which was named Advance due to the games being released on the Gameboy Advance console.

Previously, generations would work on top of each other and add new mechanics, Pokémon, and items. However, the Galar region featured a cut in the Pokédex, resulting in a loss of many Pokémon and several mechanics being removed such as Z-Moves, Mega Evolution, and some older moves such as Hidden Power, Pursuit, and Return.

Usage stats are what defines Smogon's usage-based tiers; UU, RU, NU, and PU are affected by them, as Pokémon may rise from their tier due to higher usage in a tier above. OU is not affected by this, as a Pokémon can not rise from OU due to high usage in Ubers but can only be banned from OU.

Now, before we hop into teambuilding, there are a few basic necessities to know when playing competitive Pokémon. We will briefly go over stats, EVs, IVs, and natures. Base stats are unique traits that every Pokémon has, and they are vital in determining how much potential a Pokémon can have. If a Pokémon is very fast, it will be able to attack before a majority of other Pokémon in the tier. For example, Volcarona is Pokémon with base 100 Speed, and Hydreigon is a Pokémon with base 98 Speed. With just its base stats alone and no external factors, Volcarona will always outspeed Hydreigon. However, thanks to EVs and natures, the reverse can become possible. EVs allow you to adjust a Pokémon's role or performance by customizing their stats. By boosting their stats, you can increase the offensive or defensive potential of your Pokémon. For example, if you invest 252 EVs into a Pokémon's HP stat, that Pokémon is better at tanking hits and will overall take less damage than it would if it did not have those HP EVs. On the other hand, if you invest EVs into the Speed stat, then your Pokémon may be able to outspeed other Pokémon that it usually would not outspeed. If we go back to our previous example of Volcarona and Hydreigon, a Level 100 Volcarona with no Speed EVs and a neutral nature will have 236 in Speed. A Level 100 Hydreigon with no Speed EVs and a neutral nature will have 232 in Speed. Now, if we add in 252 EVs to Hydreigon, Hydreigon's Speed is now 295, which is higher than Volcarona's. This is just one way EVs can change things. EVs can be tailored in any way a user chooses, and making the most of them will only boost your Pokémon's potential and performance. Now, you may have noticed we mentioned a neutral nature. What exactly is a nature? Natures are traits that increase one base stat by 10% and decrease another by 10%. There are 20 different useful natures for Pokémon in competitive battling. There are also natures that do not affect stats at all, but they are not used in competitive battling. As for the term neutral nature, it simply means that the nature has does not affect the stat that is being discussed. In this case, a nature that does not affect Speed would be a neutral nature when discussing the Speed stat. As for when a nature promotes the stat in question, that is referred to as a beneficial nature. Here's an example of a nature being beneficial on a Pokémon called Toxapex, which is commonly used as a wall due to its high defensive base stats. In order to further promote its Defense and take less damage from physical attackers such as Urshifu-S, it may opt to use a Bold nature, which boosts its Defense stat while lowering its Attack stat. The Attack stat was chosen to be lowered because the Toxapex in this example has no physical attacks. It is common practice for special attackers to use an Attack-reducing nature such as Timid or Modest while promoting their Speed or Special Attack stat, respectively. Physical attackers, on the other hand, will use a nature that reduces Special Attack such as Adamant or Jolly, which promote their Attack and Speed stats, respectively. Finally, the last basic topic we'll cover are IVs. IVs are individual values that range from 0 to 31. The higher the IV, the higher the stat will be. Due to there being no limit on what an IV can be, competitive Pokémon usually have 31 IVs, or perfect IVs, in every stat. The exceptions to this are Pokémon used on Trick Room teams, which may opt for 0 IVs in Speed to become as slow as possible. Special attackers such as Volcarona are another exception; since they don't use physical attacks, they run 0 IVs in Attack to minimize Foul Play damage.

Intro to Battling

Battling in competitive Pokémon is significantly different than playing in-game. For starters, your opponent, much like you, is thinking about the moves they make and also frequently switching out their Pokémon like you would when the type matchup is unfavorable. Additionally, healing items are not permitted, meaning that you do not have the option to heal a Pokémon with a Full Restore, nor are you allowed to use a Revive to bring back a team member. However, the general goal of eliminating all 6 of your opponent's Pokémon is the same, and how you choose to do that is up to you.

The Art of Predictions

You may be wondering, "How can I win if my opponent won't let me land a super effective attack?" and the answer to that is predictions. Competitive Pokémon is essentially based around predictions and how both players choose to use their Pokémon while considering the opponent’s moves and goals. This may sound complicated, but let’s start off with an easy example. One player has a Machamp on the field, and their opponent has a Tyranitar on their field. Their opponent also has a Slowbro in the back, which is resistant to Fighting-type attacks. Tyranitar, on the other hand, is very weak to Fighting-type attacks, meaning that there is a strong chance that the opponent switches out Tyranitar and sends in Slowbro to take a Fighting-type attack. If the Machamp player is aware of this, then they have a few options. If they have an attack that is super effective against Slowbro such as Thunder Punch, then they may use it against the Tyranitar and watch as Slowbro switches in and takes super effective damage. Another option is for Machamp to click a utility move such as Bulk Up to raise its stats in order to pose a bigger threat to the opposing team. The Machamp player will only go for this move if they have deemed it acceptable for Machamp to handle the incoming Slowbro after using Bulk Up and to do more work after defeating Slowbro. The last option is for the Machamp player to switch out. This scenario in which a player switches out their Pokémon while predicting their opponent to make a switch is referred to as double switching. The intention behind a double switch is to bring in a Pokémon that has a favorable matchup against the Pokémon you are expecting your opponent to bring in. Double switches are usually done when the Pokémon you have on the field, in this case Machamp, is unable to accomplish anything significant against the expected Pokémon coming in, which is Slowbro in this case. For this example, the Machamp player may switch out their Machamp in order to bring in their Raichu, which can potentially knock out Slowbro. This cycle repeats until one player sends in a Pokémon that is capable of making progress through a utility move or an attack.

Making Progress

In order to damage a Pokémon, there are 2 ways of doing it: direct damage and indirect damage. Direct damage, simply put, is using a damaging attack such as Thunderbolt. Indirect damage, on the other hand, has several forms, including status conditions (burn and poison), entry hazards (Stealth Rock, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes), and weather effects (sand and hail). There are also items that can provide residual damage such as Life Orb, an item that powers up moves at the cost of 10% of the user's total health, and Rocky Helmet, an item that deals 17% damage if the opposing Pokémon uses a contact move against the Pokémon holding it.

Using strong offensive Pokémon to deal significant direct damage in order punch holes in the opposing team is referred to as wallbreaking. Wallbreaking is commonly used to take down defensive Pokémon such as Skarmory. This is because defensive Pokémon typically have recovery moves such as Roost and Recover. This makes it difficult to knock out a defensive Pokémon quickly enough, and this is why direct damage is quicker and more efficient at defeating those types of Pokémon. Offensive Pokémon like Greninja on the other hand, have no recovery moves, meaning that when they take any damage, that damage is permanent. This is why indirect damage affects offensive Pokémon the most. For example, when Greninja switches in while Stealth Rock is on the field, then it will lose 12% of its health and has no way of undoing that damage, meaning that it’s fundamentally on a timer solely as it switches in and out. This is a very common way for most players to wear down and defeat offensive Pokémon. The reason direct damage does not work against offensive Pokémon is because the opponent is very likely going to switch out their Pokémon in order to save it for later.

Each method of dealing damage is effective, and there are conditions in which one is more favorable than the other. Direct damage, or wallbreaking, is usually done by strong attackers such as Rillaboom because the likelihood of dealing significant damage and guaranteeing progress is the highest. This is including the fact that your opponent will probably switch Pokémon before taking Rillaboom's attack and it is only possible because Pokémon with high raw attacking power are difficult to switch into. However, these strong Pokémon are not perfect, and one typical flaw is their Speed stat. These Pokémon will typically have enough Speed to outspeed defensive Pokémon such as Clefable, but there are plenty of faster offensive Pokémon that will switch in afterwards in order to force your Pokémon out. Keep the last point in mind because we’ll go more in depth on that later.

Team Preview

When starting a battle, the first thing you must do is select your lead Pokémon. While doing this, both players are able to see the opponent's entire team. This is called the Team Preview and it’s one of the key aspects in every game. Team Preview is commonly used for players to formulate their game plan in order to determine the most optimal path to achieve victory. Team Preview is also helpful in order to identify pitfalls to avoid that may give the opponent an opportunity to sweep or obtain victory. At Team Preview, what you want to do is consider how your opponent’s team interacts with yours. This includes identifying the biggest threats on the opposing side, as well as identifying strong options on your side. For example, let’s say you have a Volcarona that has Quiver Dance, Flamethrower, Roost, and Bug Buzz. In order for Volcarona to sweep, you will need to determine how it can set up with Quiver Dance as well as what Pokémon on the opposing team can prevent it from sweeping. If there is a Pokémon that can safely switch in and stop Volcarona from sweeping such as Primarina, then your goal for that game would be to knock out Primarina and then find an opportunity for Volcarona to set up. Setup opportunities can be fairly easy to identify. The most reliable way to go about doing it is to send Volcarona in against a Pokémon that cannot threaten it. For example, Rillaboom is typically unable to deal significant damage against Volcarona, meaning that the Rillaboom player is certainly going to switch out. It is during this turn that Volcarona is able to go for Quiver Dance.

This kind of strategy is something both players want to account for at the start of a game. The Rillaboom player may recognize that Volcarona will sweep if it can get a setup opportunity, and thus they may be hesitant to get a KO with Rillaboom, which would otherwise result in Volcarona switching in for free and setting up the following turn. This is just one type of interaction between Pokémon on each side. It’s important that players do this for all of their Pokémon in order to see how things may play out.

Once both players have formulated their game plans, then each side will select a lead Pokémon and the battle will start. Selecting a lead Pokémon can sometimes be easy for some and challenging for others. A good lead Pokémon is one that has a favorable matchup against most of the opposing team and / or is capable of pivoting out in order to end up in a favorable position at the end of the first turn.

Risk vs. Reward

Before making your move, it is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind the risk and reward of each play. A risk would refer to a play that provides little to no benefit and yields a negative consequence on the following turn or the turn after that. Risks can also have long term consequences. For example, if your only Grass-resistant Pokémon is Corviknight and the opponent has a Grass-type like Rillaboom, then ideally you will want to keep Corviknight safe and healthy in order to keep the opposing Rillaboom at bay. An example of a risk would be letting your Corviknight get knocked out or severely weakened while obtaining little to no benefit in return. Let’s say the battle starts off with the opponent leading Rotom-H and you leading with Corviknight. It would be ideal for you to switch out and bring in a teammate that is favorable against Rotom-H. A risk in that scenario would be clicking Body Press, which could result in Rotom-H losing a small amount of health, but the reality is that Corviknight will get knocked out before it gets to use Body Press and will therefore accomplish nothing. After this turn, the opposing Rillaboom is now capable of posing a massive threat against your team, and the game becomes much more difficult to win. A reward, on the other hand, is a play in which the benefit far surpasses the risk taken. In our previous example, a rewarding play would be to safely switch out Corviknight and bring in a teammate like Gastrodon, which has a favorable matchup against Rotom-H. Once Gastrodon is switched in, the momentum is on your side and you are in a better position than the previous turn. For every turn in a game, it is ideal to search for an optimal play that has minimal risk and maximum reward. Doing this turn after turn is what will allow you to effectively travel on the path to victory.

Short Term vs. Long Term

Before you make a play, it is necessary to consider the short-term and long-term effects. Short-term results are when a player makes a move while only thinking about the results of that turn and sometimes the turn after. Earlier in this section, we mentioned a scenario where Volcarona needed to find a setup opportunity in order to sweep the opposing team. One case was if the opponent had a Rillaboom that was on the field for Volcarona to set up against. If the Rillaboom player was in a position to lose to Volcarona after a single Quiver Dance, then it would be in their best interest to consider the long-term effects of what happens when Rillaboom gets a KO. By considering the long-term result, the Rillaboom player may be able to avoid granting Volcarona an opportunity to set up. However, if they are only thinking about the short-term effect, then they may claim a KO with Rillaboom without considering how Volcarona will sweep starting from the next turn. Example of questions to ask yourself when thinking about the long-term effects would include, "What happens after I send this Pokémon in?", "What will switch in after I get a KO?", and "What do I need to do in order to find an opportunity for my sweeper to set up?". It will take time and practice to become better at long-term thinking, but it’s a good skill to start working on in every game.

Practice Makes Perfect

Now that you’ve learned the essentials to battling in competitive Pokémon, it’s time to put that knowledge to the test. Words are one thing, but actions are another, and practice is the best way to gain experience. Experience from battling can spike your development very quickly, as it can teach you how a lot of strategies, such as predictions, truly come into play. You will learn what works well and what doesn’t work so well. The end result to all of this is that you will be able to make accurate predictions against Pokémon you have beaten before, and you will be able to more quickly recognize win paths and pitfalls at Team Preview. Whether you win or you lose, as long as you learn something from the battle, then you’re always a winner.

Teambuilding Part 1: Different Archetypes of Teams

Hyper Offense

Often, hyper offense teams support their wallbreakers and setup sweepers through utility such as stacking entry hazards and setting up dual screens, giving them more room to set up and break through the opposing team. Just like any other archetype, predicting is vital to the team's success, reading plays and playing correctly around that. However, it is extra essential with hyper offense teams because a miscalculation can cost the team lots of momentum that's difficult to regain again, but once a path has been cleared for a specific Pokémon to wreak havoc and win the game, it is straightforward to do. Overall, hyper offense is defined by its simple goal of breaking down the opposing team with brute strength using wallbreakers and setup sweepers, clearing a winning path for another teammate to win through either wallbreaking or setup sweeping.

Bulky Offense

Bulky offense teams rely on offensive and defensive pivots to safely bring in wallbreakers and setup sweepers, allowing them to execute an attack safely. Defensive Pokémon are the backbones of these teams, providing support to their offensive teammates by being able to tank attacks and safely pivot to bring them into battle. They also can switch into powerful attacks, allowing the team to preserve their wallbreakers. Pivoting moves such as Volt Switch, U-turn, and Flip Turn are staples for bulky offense teams, continuously allowing them to keep momentum on their side thanks to Pokémon that have a good matchup against the foe. As such, keeping entry hazards off the field is crucial. Typically, bulky offense teams try to utilize pivoting moves when they predict the opponent to switch out, allowing them to go into an ideal teammate and keep up the offensive pressure. Overall, the primary way bulky offense teams set up a game plan is to safely bring in powerful teammates to break through the opposing team and sweep.


Balance is seen as a common middle ground between hyper offense and stall, where the team has a strong defensive backbone that can act as defensive pivots and strong wallbreakers that can punch holes through the opposing team. Defensive walls act as switch-ins to strong attacks, and they are able to chip down the opposing team, typically with status conditions or attacks such as Scald and Knock Off, to clear a path for their offensive teammates. Much like bulky offense teams, balance teams rely on their offensive Pokémon being brought in safely to do damage. Once the opposing team has been sufficiently chipped for a wallbreaker, setup sweeper, or cleaner to come in, they do so and try to win the match from there. Balance teams appreciate entry hazards being removed, as it allows their walls to switch into powerful attacks more easily and keep the offensive Pokémon as healthy as possible so they can sweep late-game.


Semi-stall is an archetype defined through its use of multiple walls to support one bulky setup user. This archetype takes lots of preparation and careful planning, as it depends on all of its teammates to win the match. Semi-stall requires a lot of patience to play, as it needs the player to wear down the opposing team methodically in order to allow a bulky setup user, usually using Bulk Up, Calm Mind, or Curse, to clean through the remaining team. Like other archetypes, these teams also appreciate a way to clear entry hazards, as the archetype's several walls can not do their job as well if they are continuously taking chip damage. This archetype consists of multiple walls and a single wincon, so teams generally play very slowly and require patience to maneuver. The teams typically have several passive ways of wearing down the opposing team, crippling them with attacks such as Scald, many status conditions, and often different entry hazards.


Stall is the slowest archetype to use and defined through its main win condition being residual damage provided by bulky walls to wear down the opposing team slowly. Each piece of the group is as vital as the last. If one piece falls, the others will come down with much more ease. While stall teams can have bulky win conditions akin to semi-stall, the main difference is that the team is not built around any bulky setup user. Instead, it primarily focuses on its longevity and residual damage to chip down the foe. This can happen in multiple ways, whether it be through phazing the foe with entry hazards up or healing throughout continuous damage. Other ways include putting the foe on a timer with Toxic, crippling them with moves like Knock Off, and even PP stalling to a point where they cannot take down the team anymore. Overall, this archetype takes lots of patience to use, as winning will take quite a while due to the team's nature, but on the flip side, it can be frustrating to break past.

Teambuilding Part 2: The Roles of Pokémon

When building teams, there are 4 general roles that you will commonly come across: wallbreaker, setup sweeper, wall, and pivot. Each one has a unique purpose and learning to utilize each one is critical when learning to teambuild.


The purpose of a wallbreaker is to break down or punch holes into the opposing team with their immediate power. Pokémon that fulfill this role are very offensive in nature and will commonly use items such as Life Orb, Choice Band, and Choice Specs to boost their damage output.


Rillaboom is a good example of a wallbreaker. It has a respectable base 125 Attack stat and access to strong moves such as Wood Hammer and Superpower. Rillaboom's ability Grassy Surge boosts the power of its Grass-type attacks even further, which allows Rillaboom to deal solid damage even against Pokémon that resist Grass-type attacks.

Setup Sweeper

Setup sweepers aim to clean up games once the opposing team has been sufficiently weakened. These type of Pokémon require a few things. The first is a safe opportunity to set up. This is usually done by bringing in the setup sweeper against a Pokémon that is unable to deal significant damage or threaten it with status effects. The second requirement is that, if there are any Pokémon that the sweeper is unable to defeat even after using a setup move, then those opposing Pokémon need to be taken out of the picture or severely weakened to be in KO range for the sweeper. This task is done by the sweeper's teammates.


Volcarona is a good example of a setup sweeper. Thanks to its strong offensive typing and access to Quiver Dance, it is often able to clean up late-game once the opposition is weakened. The Speed boost from Quiver Dance makes Volcarona especially difficult to stop, as it will most likely outspeed everything on the opposing team.


Walls are bulky Pokémon that aim to shut down offensive Pokémon consistently throughout games. These Pokémon have solid defensive stats as well as access to recovery moves that allow them to stay healthy at all times. They also tend to use other utility moves such as Stealth Rock and Toxic in order to support a team.


Chansey is a very good example of a wall. It uses its high HP and Special Defense stats coupled with an Eviolite to put a stop to almost any special attacker. Its access to reliable recovery in Soft-Boiled is key in doing this consistently. It often uses the turns that it generates for itself to set Stealth Rock, use Heal Bell, or maybe even use Wish.


Pivots attempt to gain momentum through forcing out Pokémon without wasting turns. It's worth noting that there's a difference between the types of pivots; some are defensive and aim to force Pokémon out with their defensive presence, and some are offensive and aim to force out Pokémon with their offensive presence.


Toxapex is a good example of a defensive pivot. It can reliably switch into many Pokémon such as Clefable, Scizor, and Volcarona thanks to its typing and great natural bulk. However, it's not considered a wall like Chansey, as it doesn't have to spend turns healing as often thanks to Regenerator, giving it more opportunities to use Toxic Spikes, Scald, or Knock Off.


Zeraora is a good example of an offensive pivot. Thanks to its high Speed and decent attacking power, Zeraora can often switch in and force out opposing offensive Pokémon. From there, it can use Volt Switch to hit the defensive switch-in for a little bit of damage and bring in a teammate safely in order to take advantage of the defensive switch-in.


There are two different types of synergy: offensive and defensive. Offensive synergy is defined as a core of Pokémon's ability to help each other wear down the other checks or shared common checks. Defensive synergy is defined as a core of Pokémon's ability to help cover the other's defensive weaknesses. An example of an offensive core would be Dragapult + Hydreigon. Dragapult has difficulty breaking past Clefable and Mandibuzz, both of which Nasty Plot Hydreigon can weaken or take out. Alternatively, both Hydreigon and Dragapult can put pressure on Fairy-type Pokémon such as Clefable and Primarina to allow one of them to overwhelm these foes. An example of a core that has defensive synergy is Amoonguss + Tyranitar. Tyranitar is weak to Grass-, Water-, Fairy-, and Fighting-type attacks that Amoonguss can easily sponge from Pokémon such as Rillaboom, Primarina, and Urshifu-R. Amoonguss is weak to Flying-, Fire-, and Psychic-type attacks from Pokémon such as Tornadus-Therian, Volcarona, and Necrozma, which Tyranitar tanks in return.

Checks and Counters

Checks are defined as Pokémon that can beat foes in a one-on-one scenario, while counters are defined as Pokémon that can switch into the foe's attack and still proceed to beat it. An example of a check would be Urshifu-S to Excadrill. While it can tank even Life Orb Excadrill's Earthquake, it can not take the hit twice; however, it can OHKO Excadrill with Close Combat or pick it off with Sucker Punch. An example of a counter would be Skarmory to Excadrill. No matter what attacks Excadrill selects to use if Skarmory is switched in, Skarmory will always be able to take Excadrill's attacks. Skarmory can then proceed to beat Excadrill with Body Press. While it is not possible to run a counter to every single threat on a single team, it is possible to run a combination of checks and counters in order to try and cover as many threats as possible. Checks can revenge kill and threaten offensive Pokémon that they outspeed, while counters can stop faster threats that lack the power to break through them. Each one has a purpose, and determining which kind your team requires will be of utmost importance while team building.


Once you have completed your team, it is time to battle. Battling is what will show you how your team works in practice, and it can provide helpful knowledge to you get better acquainted with your team, as well as find ways to improve on whatever the team may struggle with. The best places to practice are on the ladder for the tier your team is formatted for and any friends who are willing to play with you.


Finally, here are some useful sections to help you progress on your journey through competitive Pokémon:

Smogon Pokédex

The Smogon Pokédex is an amazing starting point for players to look up information regarding any Pokémon. The Smogon Pokédex contains written analyses covering the most optimal sets for each viable Pokémon within a tier. Sometimes a Pokémon will have only one set, but other Pokémon might have multiple sets. These sets are written in great detail in order to teach users how the Pokémon and its set or sets functions, along with helpful information such as recommended teammates and counterplay options.

Competitive Discussion

Competitive Discussion is the subforum dedicated to discussing Smogon’s various metagames. The forum is split into fourteen sections: one for each tier, Other Metagames, Ruins of Alph, and Pet Mods. Each of the fourteen subforums is filled with discussion threads, resources, and projects for the community to participate in. Below are common threads that each metagame's subforum will have.

Notable Resources:



Rate My Team

The Rate My Team section is the area for users to share their teams in order to garner feedback from other users. Feedback from other users, or rates, comes in the form of suggestions from one user to another in order to improve a team. This can be through adjusting sets on a Pokémon or a substitution of a team member for a new Pokémon. These suggestions are accompanied by explanations to justify these changes, and this not only improves a team, but it can give users teambuilding advice. The Rate My Team section can also benefit users who wish to have access to more teams than just the sample teams in a given section. While the quality of teams varies greatly, users can learn more about a tier by reading threads created by other users. Reading the teambuilding process of any team can be helpful to understanding the team, and it can provide helpful information that may be useful for future teambuilding. In addition to this, the option for users to try out a team posted by another user always exists, and this can allow users to gain battling experience as well. Should one wish to study successful teams, the most ideal places to look are the RMT Showcase and RMT Archive sections. Both sections have well presented and highly successful teams that are full of valuable information. The RMT Archive in particular has a selection of metagame-defining teams, meaning that those teams are not only successful, but they accurately capture the image of a standard team in a certain stage of a metagame. Whether the purpose is to showcase a team or to seek feedback to improve it, the Rate My Team section will be the place for any user to share a team.

Battling 101

Battling 101 is the subforum where users can receive direct one-on-one tutoring with a certified tutor. Users are required to have some experience with playing competitive Pokémon before signing up, as it is the tutor's job to refine a user’s level of skill rather than teach them the basics. Users can sign up for tutoring in a specific tier, such as OU, and after some time, a moderator will pair them with a tutor. After that, the tutor will contact the tutee and they will have sessions and discussions to begin their tutoring. Tutors can not only help users in regards to battling and building, but they are also capable of introducing users to the rest of Smogon Forums and highlight useful resources. After a tutor and a tutee are finished with their tutoring, tutees will provide feedback on their experience. Once that is complete, tutees are free to explore the forums and are always allowed to seek further tutoring for whichever tier they would like. Additionally, the B101 section has a small resource forum that contains helpful information that covers most tiers. You'll find lists to helpful threads as well as a directory to analysis for Pokémon in each tier and a list of helpful Rate My Team threads to check out.


Tournaments is the section that can provide users an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and gain further experience by watching high-level players compete in official tournaments. While knowledge is vital to playing Pokémon, practice is just as important. Battling is important because some strategies that may work on paper do not always translate over to practice. This is partially due to the opponent having the option to switch their Pokémon and the ability to execute their own game plan. Learning to play with that in mind can be very rewarding and allows you to learn and create new strategies when battling. Repeating this process will cause you to gain more and more skill, and going up against different types of opponents is what will make this possible. Tournaments are always ongoing and consist of official tournaments that reward the winner with a trophy, circuit tournaments that are run by most tiers, and non-official tournaments that may have a special set of rules. To enter a tournament, all one needs to do is check if the tournament is in the sign-up stage and post “in” to join the tournament. From there, once the desired number of sign-ups is reached, the tournament will begin and you will be matched up with an opponent. Most tournaments will have a deadline of one week for users to schedule a time to battle their opponents, and once a week has transpired, the next round will be posted, and the process will continue until only one player remains.

While entering tournaments and gaining battling experience is helpful, tournaments also include high-level players for others to watch and learn from. Most of the time this can be done by watching games from official team tournaments, and then playoff matches for official individual tournaments, or circuit tournament playoffs as well. Understanding how both players make their decisions while engaging with other spectators can be an exciting experience that is not only helpful, but enjoyable. Users may also pick up on strategies used by other players while watching them battle, which can then be incorporated into their own playbook.


Discord in general is very convenient when wanting to contact someone, and it's a great application to have that is used just about every day by most people. There are several Discord servers that are affiliated with Smogon. The biggest one is the main Smogon server, and in addition to this, each tier and subforum has a server that is run by the moderators of that section. The main Smogon server in particular has a few channels dedicated to helping users out with competitive Pokémon. Each server will have discussion channels for you to chat with other users, and you will also be able to find staff members that that are associated with that section, such as moderators and council members. If you ever need help quickly, Discord is a great place to go.


Congratulations on taking the first step into learning competitive Pokémon! From here on out, you are free to explore the forums and determine for yourself what tiers you want to learn. If you need help, then don't forget to check out a subforum for a tier you're interested in, the Smogon Pokédex, or the Trainer School subforum.

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