Singles An Introduction to 3v3 Singles (aka BSS)

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Battle Spot Leader
90% of this was stolen from JabbaTheGriffin 's retired thread. I've just rewritten the common pokemon section. minor gp help from gato

What is 3v3 Singles?
To put it simply, 3v3 Singles is bring 6, pick 3, similar to how VGC doubles is bring 6, pick 4. As a Smogon user, you're probably fairly accustomed to Smogon's OU metagame, which is 6v6 singles. Gamefreak's main singles metagame, however, is a completely different beast. It has its similarities to 6v6, with several threats being equally potent in both metagames, but it plays at a much faster pace. Even on Wi-Fi, battles are often over within a couple minutes. Yet that doesn't stop it from being a very enjoyable metagame. With the faster pace, the consequences of your decisions become much bigger than in 6v6. Where a well-timed double switch may gain you a bit of momentum in regular singles, a similar double switch in 3v3 could win you the entire battle. Furthermore, the initial strategy that goes into picking your three choices for the battle can give you an advantage or disadvantage right off the bat, but it's generally nothing you can't overcome by outplaying your opponent. The high stakes and fast pace of 3v3 makes it a great metagame for those who enjoy constant thrills in their battles.

Take note that if you plan to play on your cartridge, you'll have to breed yourself a team. Luckily, Gamefreak has streamlined the breeding process this generation, and it's the easiest it's ever been. Smogon has several resources on breeding perfect Pokemon in S&M, notably by TheMantyke (old guide for X&Y but still relevant).

Furthermore, the Battle Spot singles ladder operates on a very bare-bones banlist. Only cover legends and event Pokemon are banned from the ladder. This includes Pokemon like Mewtwo, Jirachi, Darkrai, and Ash-Greninja, but not Pheromosa, Landorus, or Suicune.

Notable differences from 6v6
As mentioned above, many of the big threats in 6v6 (such as Tapu Lele and Blaziken) also terrorize 3v3. However, there are some key teambuilding differences between the two metagames. For instance, hazards are nowhere near as common in 3v3. Generally, the time it takes to set up hazards is better spent getting in a free attack. Stealth Rock does still have some utility in breaking Sashes (which are much more viable in 3v3 due to the lack of hazards) and neutering 4x Stealth Rock weak Pokemon such as Volcarona and Charizard.

The rule set is also somewhat different from Smogon OU. Species Clause is still in effect, but notably OHKO clause and Evasion clause are not present. This, on paper, means that people can just throw around Fissure and Minimize to their heart's content. In practice though, much like hazards, your time is better spent attacking. You may run into the occasional Guillotine Gliscor or Minimize Chansey, but these encounters are few and far between.

Item Clause is also in effect, meaning that you can only use one of an item on your team. This is nowhere near as limiting as it seems, as you generally don't want more than one of an item on your team anyway. You want your team to be diverse and cover as many threats while also threatening as much as you possibly can. Running three sets of Leftovers on your team is definitely not conducive to such a strategy. Luckily, since Mega Evolution stones are not technically the same item, you can use as many as you want on a team. Unlike 6v6, where you only want one Mega Evolution on your team, in 3v3, it's generally preferable to have two and bring the one that has the most favorable team matchup into battle.

Common Pokemon
Once again, it should be noted that many of the threats you'll find in 6v6 are the same in 3v3 singles. However, here I'll point out major threats so you know what you'll want to breed and what you'll need to cover these threats.

Mimikyu: As mentioned earlier, Focus Sashes are arguably the most valuable item in BSS, and Mimikyu basically has one built into it due to its Disguise ability, which allows it to take one hit before receiving damage from more attacks (but does not stop residual damage). A lot of Mimikyu will even hold a Focus Sash to be even trickier to KO! It also has fantastic STAB moves and priority in Shadow Sneak which it can boost with Swords Dance, making Mimikyu a potentially devastating sweeper. Mimikyu can also play a supportive role with moves like Will-O-Wisp, Trick Room, and even Curse. Mimikyu is a Pokemon you need to prepare for with every team.

Tapu Lele: Much like Mimikyu, Tapu Lele has its ability, Psychic Surge, to thank for much of its popularity, which automatically summons Psychic Terrain when Tapu Lele enters the field (much like how Drizzle summons rain). Psychic Terrain gives all Pokemon touching the ground a 1.5x boost to their Psychic-type moves and protects them from priority moves. This makes Tapu Lele the premier revenge killer in the format, as it can utilize a Choice Scarf to outspeed foes while it and its teammates don't have to worry about being picked off by a strong priority move. You'll also see plenty of Tapu Lele being paired with fast sweepers like Blaziken, Pheromosa, and Garchomp, to prevent them from being picked off by a priority move mid-sweep.

Charizard: Due to its unique niche in having two mega evolutions, Charizard is probably the most unpredictable Pokemon in BSS, and simply predicting the wrong version at team preview can result in you losing the match. However, just guessing whether it will be a physical (X) or special (Y) attacker is only the beginning, as each mega has their own myriad of sets to use as well! Will it be a fast sweeper with Dragon Dance or Flame Charge, or wallbreaker with Swords Dance? Or will it be a bulky version with Roost and Will-O-Wisp? And what coverage moves will it choose? The trick is to look at its team, for example; often if your opponent has a lot of special attackers it will most likely be Charizard X, and vice versa.

Tapu Koko: Another common terrain you'll encounter is the Electric Terrain summoned by Tapu Koko, which gives all Pokemon touching the ground a 1.5x boost to their Electric-type moves and an immunity to sleep. Along with Misty Terrain from Tapu Fini (which prevents all status), this has put an end to the sleep-spam gimmicks seen during generation 6 from the likes of Breloom, Liepard, and Mega Gengar. However that is only a minor part of what makes Tapu Koko popular; it also has a blazingly fast speed stat and great mixed offenses, meaning it can be quite unpredictable and punish you if you guess wrong.

Garchomp: Garchomp is definitely one of the best Pokemon in the metagame. It has the bulk to take most hits (even some of the weaker Ice Beams) and has a great Ground / Dragon-type STAB combination. Swords Dance sets get a lot of chances to set up and then wreak havoc. Scarf sets serve as very good cleaners, though being locked into Earthquake or Outrage are both dangerous situations for Garchomp. It can also lead with a Focus Sash and moves like Stealth Rock and Rock Tomb.

Blaziken: Speed Boost has always been one of the most dangerous abilities, especially in a format as fast as 3v3 singles. Blaziken doesn't even need to Mega Evolve to be a huge threat, but most that you'll run into once its mega stone is released will be the Mega variety. Generally you'll see Protect/Swords Dance/Flare Blitz/High Jump Kick, however it also uses a special/mixed set with Overheat and Hidden Power Ice quite often as well. Blaziken is the true definition of a nuke. However, even with Speed Boost making it impossible to outspeed, it's still fairly easy to check. Tapu Fini, Primarina and Gyarados resist Blaziken's STABs, and Primarina even has priority that Blaziken is weak to. Slowbro flat out counters Blaziken, if you want to opt for a more defensive route.

Salamence: Arguably the best mega evolution in the format, it simply aims to get a Dragon Dance off against something that's scared of it and then sweeps. You'll see a lot of random things carrying Hidden Power Ice for Mence (and Chomp) when they could be using something else for "better" coverage, purely because you need multiple ways of dealing with it.

Aegislash: aka King's Shield mindgames. The most popular sets use a Weakness Policy or Ghostium-Z and are usually special-attacking with Shadow Ball and Flash Cannon, however it has great physical moves such as Scared Sword and Shadow Sneak as well. It's also a really potent user of SubToxic! When beating it, you might want to run EQ on your physical sweepers just so you don't get hit by that -2 from King's Shield. In fact, King's Shield is almost the sole reason Overheat Blaziken became a common thing, as special-attacking Fire-types are usually the best for KOing it, as well as Dark-types like Hydreigon as they don't care about Shadow Sneak.

Mawile: This Pokemon's attack stat is insane. You'll often see this paired with a Porygon2, Mimikyu, or Cresselia for Trick Room support, and if you let them set it up prepare to get swept. Mega Mawile is one of the few Pokemon actually strong enough to end a battle before the Trick Room turns expire. It even has Swords Dance and Sucker Punch to mess you up big time outside of Trick Room too, however it is mostly dependent on speed control so if you can stop that you can minimize the pain Mawile dishes out.

Landorus-T: This does pretty much what it does in OU; you'll mostly run into them running a Choice Scarf or going defensive with a Rocky Helmet and Stealth Rock. Pretty straigh-forward for this thing.

Celesteela: Although slightly less popular now than it was before PokeBank updated and flooded the format with good Fire-types, Celesteela still has the potential to wall your team and sap your health away with Leech Seed while acquiring Beast Boosts that can make it harder to KO or even faster/stronger. If you don't have a Fire- or Electric-type nuke to bop this thing before it gets the process going it will annoy you.

Battlespot Ladder
One of the most fun parts of being a 3v3 enthusiast is competing with other Smogoners trying to rise up the ranks of the world ladder on your 3DS and running into all the quirky stuff the Japanese community comes up with. Several of the top players in the West are Smogoners, with GroudonEmpire, Jmal, NOVED, Theorymon, Natalie., and chemcoop regularly achieving great ladder ranks.

You can see how everyone on Smogon stands and the teams most of them have used to achieve their ranks in this thread:

Feel free to join us, and someday, together, we can take down the Japanese from the top of the world ladder!
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Just thought I'd go through a few concepts and terms that have been floated around in a lot of Japanese blogs that I've been reading and it may or may not be useful to those of you out there building teams or trying to translate blog posts yourself. Most of this will be either stuff that is less commonly applied here in terms of teambuilding or specific team archetypes that are difficult to translate for google translate that might be difficult to translate. To give an example of the latter in English, Mimilax from VGC, which is the Mimikyu + Snorlax core. Probably will update this sometime or another too.

Reception Loop:

If you trawl through posts, you'll probably hear about the reception loop a lot. At first, I mistook this in my quick scanning as Baton Pass. It is not and is in fact a completely different concept. A reception loop is the idea that most solid teams have checks or full answers to most mons and so you get this pattern of continually switching in checks to mons. Let me give an example (I just made this up) of this.

Turn 1: Tapu Lele vs. Tapu Koko lead

Here it's pretty likely that the Koko player is going to want to switch out so as not to take a psychic. Lets say you have a spdef Aegislash on your team, you might want to switch into that.

Turn 2: Tapu Lele vs. Aegislash

Now there is the possibility here Tapu Lele could shadow balled turn 1 predicting aegi, most top Japanese players seem to prefer not to shadow ball and use this technique which is less risky and more likely to win games in the macro sense of things. Lets say the lele player has a relatively bulky Zard Y here.

Turn 3: Charizard vs. Aegislash

Now if I have ev'd my Zard Y so that it lives two shadow balls from spdef aegi (this could also be celesteela for example), then I can Flame Charge no matter what he does here, creating a win condition just through that manipulation of switches. Now Koko can check Zard Y normally, but not at +1 speed, breaking the reception loop and creating a win condition just through playing the matchup.

A lot of top Japanese teams discuss about how to break these reception loops, generally through pairing powerful pokemon together that have limited specific switch ins that then can be taken advantage by another mon which is unstoppable once set up such as +1 Volcarona, +2 Naganadel, Mega Zard and Mega Salamence to give some examples though this clearly depends on matchup. Essentially giving opportunity to certain teams just through playing the game out normally.

Damage Rolls and EVs:

Most EV benchmarks used by top Japanese teams are pretty different to a lot I see used by the Battlespot community. Both have the general idea of Ev'ing for specific attacks that you are likely to encounter such as specs leles psychic, lets snuggle forever, z-draco from naganadel for example, but a lot of the top Japanese teams prefer their EVs to do more things than Western teams, which is why you see the idea of living everything except one damage roll.

Lets take the Mega Kangaskhan spread from a team above:

Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Parental Bond
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 228 Atk / 68 SpD
Adamant Nature

This spread is supposed to take most Modest Specs lele Psychics if need be, in fact it will KO on only three rolls (Ie. 18.8% of the time). It also takes some physical hits, otherwise the HP EVs would be 196.

Here's the calc below:

252+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 212 HP / 68 SpD Kangaskhan-Mega in Psychic Terrain: 178-211 (85.9 - 101.9%) -- 18.8% chance to OHKO
Possible damage amounts: (178, 181, 183, 186, 187, 189, 192, 193, 196, 198, 199, 202, 204, 207, 208, 211)

Now notice how the damage rolls are distributed, the difference between taking 81.2% of Psychics and 100% of Psychics is 7Hp. This in terms of EVs is 56 HP EVs, ie. the difference between 196HP Kang and 252HP Kang. This gives you a lot more EVs to work with in construction than otherwise. A lot of calcs are based on rather than living every hit, living everything but one roll when that extra roll requires 24 EVs to do. There are exceptions to this, to mons you cannot be KOed by no matter what like Naganadel.

Basic Team Archetypes

This is more for those trying to translate Japanese than anything (as I don't know the mons names in Japanese since I never played the Japanese games). You're likely to find these which are difficult to look up due to their combinations.

Mimigassa (ミミガッサ): Mimikyu + Breloom
KabaMandaGardo (カバマンダガルド): Hippowdon + Mence + Aegislash
KabaLiza (カバリザ): Hippowdon + Charizard X/Y
KabaManda (カバマンダ): Hippowdon + Mega Salamence
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The below link is a guide to help people who are just coming into the community based off my own experiences starting out, climbing the ladder and building teams. If you have the time and patience to read a lot of text, but are unsure what you are doing when it comes to Battle Spot Singles, it could help you get better at the game or broaden your perspective, which should help you win more and climb, whether you are playing on showdown or cartridge. If you have any questions, pop me a message and I am happy to help out.
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