Other doughboy teaches teambuilding: Lesson 1 - What makes an effective team?

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doughboy teaches teambuilding series
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Introduction
Hello everyone. I have some extra time this week so I wanted to get this project off the ground. The teaching teambuilding series intends go over concepts in teambuilding, from the most basic to the nuanced, to make you a more effective teambuilder. These concepts will be presented through RMT's which will introduce a concept, explain how the concept ties into the current ORAS OU metagame, and show how that concept was implemented with each of the six pokemon featured in the RMT. This is my way of introducing newer folks to my personal teambuilding style, so some other players might take a different approach to teambuilding

With that in mind, let's get started with week #1's topic: What makes an effective team?

Topic: What makes an effective team?
From my experience, there are 4 central components of a good team. When building a team, I always try to evaluate my team to make sure it has these things in mind:
  • Win condition: The ultimate path for victory for a team, this is the component on the team that will win you the game. This can range from a set-up sweeper to accumulating residual damage (note these are not the only two ways). Effective teams usually have two win conditions in case one of them fails or the original one is simply too ineffective against certain team matchups.
  • Strategy: The way a team attempts to goes about to accomplish its win condition. For example, a HO team may use a sweeper as its win condition, but is a hazard-stacking or dual-screens strategy the most optimal way / strategy to accompany the sweeper?
  • Counter-play: The elements of a team that attempt to prevent opposing strategies from being executed. In addition, couterplay is the elements of the team that account for the team's strategy failing and attempting to find a way to win. How does this team attempt to counteract / play against common strategies?
  • Synergy: How the Pokemon on the team interact with each other that aids in taking down or taking on eachother's checks and counters. Note that there is more to synergy than complimentary typings, which I will cover in a later RMT.
As you get better at teambuilding, you won't have to think about all five of these components individually. There is strong overlap between all of them, and you will notice by adding one pokemon, you can cover multiple components.
Some Important Notes:
So if you want to build an effective team, there are a couple of things you need to take note of:
  • Every competitive team needs a pokemon that knows the move Stealth Rock. The chip damage Stealth Rock provides limits the amount of times an opponent can switch in a game. In addition, it prevents several pokemon from just dominating such as Talonflame, both Mega-Charizards, Dragonite, and Thundurus (there are many others).
  • You need to know the difference between a check and a counter. A counter is a pokemon that can directly switch into an opposing pokemon. A counter has to force out an opposing pokemon consistently throughout a match and has to be to force it out regardless of the opposing pokemon's moveset. A check is a pokemon that (A) can force out a pokemon, but without directly switching in (B) can force out a pokemon consistently, but only with a certain moveset (C) can directly switch into a pokemon regardless of its moveset, but only once or twice in a match
Building a team: Where do I start?
There are many different starting points for building a team. The simplest and easiest way to start building a team is just to pick one pokemon and build around it. This is the method of teambuilding I will be covering today and it is the method of teambuilding most new players start out with. The "pick a single pokemon" method teambuilding, however, has its shortfalls. It is more conducive to offensive teams because offensive teams gear themselves to one pokemon sweeping and offensive teams limit their switching. Meanwhile, balanced and defensive teams have to consider synergy more because they switch around more, and their win condition isn't necessarily centered around one pokemon (this is especially true for stall).

Alternatively you can build around a core of pokemon, a framework, or a strategy you have in mind. For example, the first idea that you may have in mind is that you want to build a defensive hazard stacking team, but you do not have in mind what combination of Spiker+Shuffler you have yet. A framework is a collection of roles that you would fill in with a collection of pokemon until you find a combination that works. An example of a framework used for HO teams is Hazard Lead / Wallbreaker #1 / Wallbreaker #2 / Sweeper / Choice Scarfer / Pivot Switch and Lead Support. By not exclusively building around one pokemon, your team is more flexible for editing later down the line after testing.

Example team: DD Gyarados Balance
Here is a team that have laddered with recently. The single Pokemon I decided to build around was non-Mega Bulky DD Gyarados. Gyarados has an interesting niche in the current ORAS metagame. Landorus-I, especially variants with HP Ice, is becoming popular as of late and is considered by some to be good enough to be placed back in the S-rank on the OU Viability Ranking. If you look closely, normal Gyarados can set up on three S-rank threats (Lando-I, Keldeo, Mega-Metagross) and takes advantage of teams that prepare for Water+Dark coverage as opposed to Water+Flying. The order of the Pokemon in this list is the same order I considered the Pokemon in teambuilding. Let's get started:

Gyarados (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 88 HP / 220 Atk / 4 Def / 196 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Dragon Dance
- Waterfall
- Bounce
- Substitute​

Dragon Dancers are a classic choice for a win condition because they are equally useful against faster offensive teams and bulkier balanced / defensive teams. So for this team I decided to use one of the more under-rated and underused Dragon Dancers in the tier: Bulky DD Gyarados. Bulky DD Gyarados has several advantages over its offensive Mega variant that make it a good sleeper pick in the current ORAS OU metagame. First, Bulky DD Gyarados keeps this team's Mega-slot open for any other role I need, in other words it keeps my options open. Second, normal Gyarados has several key resists + consistent Intimidate over its Mega-variant that gives it a ton of setup opportunities. While Mega-Gyarados has these resists un-mevo'ed, it loses them once it needs to use STAB Crunch to break through an opponent. Normal Gyarados doesn't lose those resists in a mid-game sweep and it has Leftovers to add to its longevity while using those resists. STAB Bounce hit Crunch Gyarados checks like Keldeo, Azumarill, Mega-Altaria, and Mega-Venusaur hard. Substitute eases prediction against more offensive teams and protects against slower Scald users.

Basically, normal Gyarados offers a solid win condition against defensive and offensive teams that isn't very difficult to get into play.

Metagross @ Metagrossite
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
Naive Nature
- Meteor Mash
- Zen Headbutt
- Hammer Arm
- Grass Knot​

For my next pick, I needed a solid wallbreaker to aid in weakening the opposing team for Gyarados. Bulky Gyarados has difficulty with Unaware pokemon, bulky waters, and Ferrothorn. Mega-Metagross was the first pokemon that came to mind to partner with Gyarados. The combination of Meteor Mash + Grass Knot easily deals with Clefable and Quagsire. On top of that, Mega-Metagross can weaken bulky waters that annoy Gyarados like Slowbro and Rotom-W very well. Mega-Metagross can also bait the opponent to give setup opportunities to Gyarados. Mega-Metagross' insane bulk means nothing short of STAB Ground or Fire moves knock it out in one shot. If the opponent uses those type of moves to revenge kill Metagross, they will give Gyarados an opportunity to set up a Dragon Dance or Substitute.

Latias (F) @ Life Orb
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Psyshock
- Defog
- Healing Wish​

Gyarados is 2x weak to Stealth Rock, so a hazard setter was required to get it the most amount of set up oppurtunities as possible. I also needed a solid counter to Rotom-W. Latias is one of the best entry hazard removers in the metagame and it is a great pivot switch. Draco Meteor and Psyshock are Latias' two main STAB moves to make sure it has as much power output as possible. Defog is the team's obligatory hazard removal. It makes getting Gyarados into play much easier and gives me some counter-play to hazard stacking teams. After some carefull consideration, for the final slot I chose to use Healing Wish on Latias. One of bulky Gyarados' problems is its susceptibility to status and it losing too much health to set up in the late game. Healing Wish gives Gyarados a second lease on life. If it gets burned by a stray Scald, paralyzed by a Thundurus' Thunder Wave, or simply lost too much health from using Substitute, Latias can sacrifice herself after using Draco Meteor or Defog. Certain targets that tank Draco Meteor (Jirachi, Metagross, and Tyranitar) are free setup opportunities for Gyarados once they have been Intimidated.

Terrakion @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Justified
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Stone Edge
- Close Combat
- X-Scissor
- Rock Slide​

I was opening myself up to a large Bisharp weakness with Defog Latias, Mega-Metagross, and Intimidate. In addition, I was still lacking a solid secondary win condition and a revenge killer in case plans had gone awry. Basically a Fighting-type Choice Scarfer is what I needed, and I settled upon Choice Scarf Terrakion. Scarf Terrakion can revenge kill a +2 Bisharp after a Defog and this will always happen because Latias can Healing Wish Terrakion if its health is too low. Terrakion can revenge kill pretty much anything because of its insanely high speed with Choice Scarf. I decided to go with Terrakion over Keldeo in this position because its targets line up with Gyarados' and Mega-Metagross' more than Keldeo's do. In addition, it is a stronger cleaner Keldeo because the base power of its moves are higher and more accurate. 120 base power, 100% Close Combat vs 85 base power Secret Sword or 110 base power, 85% accurate Hydro Pump.

Heatran (M) @ Air Balloon
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
- Taunt
- Magma Storm
- Earth Power
- Toxic​

I still had several issues that I still needed to patch up. I had a weakness to Mega-Scizor and to stall, so I needed poke that could patch up those two weaknesses nicely. I settled upon Magma Storm Heatran for my team. Magma Storm Heatran is one of the best stall-breakers in the current OU metagame. Heatran can lure in Chansey, trap it with Magma Storm, and proceed to chip away at it with Taunt+Toxic+Magma Storm chip damage. With max speed, Heatran can check even the fastest Mega-Scizors, albeit it has to do it with an unreliable 75% accurate Magma Storm. Lastly, Toxic Heatran is a great partner to DD Gyarados because it can lure in and Toxic bulky waters (ex. Rotom-W, Slowbro, and Azumarill). A Toxic'ed bulky water loses its Leftovers recovery. In addition, Gyarados can actually stall turns with Bounce + Substitute to make sure the Toxic damage racks up on the bulky water its trying to set up on. Leftovers can be used for an improved matchup against stall.

Ferrothorn (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 88 Def / 168 SpD
Impish Nature
- Power Whip
- Knock Off
- Leech Seed
- Stealth Rock​

So for the final slot of the team, I still needed a Pokemon that could set up Stealth Rocks. In addition, my SR setter needed to able to handle most of OU's Electric-types, be a second water resist that wasn't Gyarados, and be a solid defensive backbone of my team. Ferrothorn fit that role very well. Power Whip is essential to stop Gyarados. Originally I had Gyro Ball in the second slot, but I found that the utility of Knock Off to be too good to pass up. Knock Off allows Ferrothorn to have some use against defensive teams, it can Knock Off the Leftovers of opposing Steel-types and Eviolite from Chansey. Knock Off is crucial to the Ferrothorn mirror matchup. It makes sure that by switching into my own Ferrothorn, I don't give opposing Ferrothorn the chance to recover for free. In the long run, opposing Ferrothorn will be weakened because they won't have access to either Leftovers recovery or Leech Seed recovery (since I have a Grass-type to stop it). Leech Seed is for recovery throughout the match and Stealth Rock is to limit the switches of my opponent.
Review
So now that I have built the team, how does the it fulfill the five components of a good team?
  • Win Condition: DD Gyarados is the team's primary win condition. Dragon Dance boosting both its attack and Speed means that it can be useful against both faster offensive teams and bulkier balanced teams. Substitute on Gyarados is an extra buffer against offensive teams and status reliant stall teams. Choice Scarf Terrakion is this team's secondary win condition. It covers Gyarados' inability to keep up with very high-speed offensive teams. With its 100% accurate, 120 base power Close Combat it is an effective cleaner.
  • Strategy: This team doesn't really have any real overarching strategy, which stems from the fact that we chose the "pick a single poke and build around it" method of teambuilding. Really all its aims to do is have every member of the team have some ability to support a Gyarados sweep. Every team member outside of Terrakion can support Gyarados. Mega-Metagross wallbreaks, Latias removes hazards and heals, Heatran statuses Water-types, and Ferrothorn removes Leftovers from Steel-types.
  • Counter-play: Choice Scarf Terrakion is the team's go to answer to offensive threats. Its high speed, high power, and great type coverage means most offensive threats are checked. Against very defensive teams, Heatran can easily trap and break down passive defensive pokemon. Defog Latias stops hazard-based strategies.
  • Synergy: The team has solid defensive synergy with eachother. The Steel-types Ground and Fighting weaknesses are covered by Latias and Gyarados. Meanwhile Gyarados' Electric and Rock-weaknesses are covered by Ferrothorn, Latias, and Metagross. If a pokemon revenge kills Mega-Metagross or Terrakion, usually Gyrarados can set up on the revenge killer with Intimidate.
After building a team, I always check to see if it covers threats from S-rank to A rank. These are the most prominent threats in the metagame, and if you don't have a solid game plan against most of them, your team won't be consistent on the ladder or in tournaments.

Conclusion
So hopefully with this RMT you learned what components an effective team has, how to start out building your own teams, and what the difference between a check and counter is. If you have an idea you would want to show, PM me. If you have any questions or comments, please post for below! Thanks for reading!
 
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  • Synergy: How the Pokemon on the team interact with each other that aids in taking down or taking on eachother's checks and counters. Note that there is more to synergy than complimentary typings, which I will cover in a later RMT.
Can you cover this next week? This is where I fall short 99% of the time when I teambuild, and guides like this help not only me, but everyone else who has the same problems that I do. I support this project entirely, and really hope it doesn't die out like some other, similar projects tend to do. Props for doing this =]
 
This looks like a good project so can't wait for the next installment!
BTW I think you meant "hazard remover" in the first line of the Latias description.
 
Great thread Doughboy. Teambuilding is by far my weakest point when playing pokemon so I hope this becomes a succesful project.

Also i would like to request you to cover Synergy but not the one between pokes, the one between roles. For example hazards setter+sweeper.

Thank you for the hard work :D
 
You should cover both offensive and defensive synergy next, and what's my biggest teambuilding weakness, how they need to be woven together on each archtype of team.

Great thread, keep it up :-)
 
Great thread. I really like it because team for playstyles other than sand offense is really diffucult for me atm.

If you mind? I was wondering if you or anyone here can explain what factors need to be considered when deciding a second win condition base off our first?
 

Dlanyer

Il faut de la kératine pour win.
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doughboy , lemme ask you a question: some of my team seem good on the teambuilding. They had a good synergy, have a win condition...But, when i start to fight with it, the team doesn't work at all....
I feel really confuse with that :(
 
doughboy , lemme ask you a question: some of my team seem good on the teambuilding. They had a good synergy, have a win condition...But, when i start to fight with it, the team doesn't work at all....
I feel really confuse with that :(
Hope you dont mind if I give you some advice. Often, new teams screw up for several reasons and one of the most important is familiarity with the team. Theres a certain level of certainty you need with a team, understanding what each mon will do in a match, whether you need to preserve them etc. This comes with experience using the team and after a while you should have a "bond" with the team in which you can instinctively know what to switchin at what time. The second is specific threats you didnt account for in teambuilding. Recently, I built a team super weak to sash alakazam, a pretty uncommon mon in ou. I didnt think about it during the teambuilding process and thus has no way of beating a well played alakazam. This is one of the most important habits to get into for any competetive game, analyse your game whether it's a win or a loss. Note what you did well, what you didnt and really important is to see what threats your team had trouble with and check how you can do better against them, editing accordingly. Often teams that looks really solid on paper have weaknesses you wouldnt think so testing is important. Dont beat yourself up though, teambuilding takes a while to get decent at so dont expect amazing teams off the bat.

Hope this helped
 

Dlanyer

Il faut de la kératine pour win.
is a member of the Site Staffis a Forum Moderatoris a Top Smogon Media Contributor
Moderator
Hope you dont mind if I give you some advice. Often, new teams screw up for several reasons and one of the most important is familiarity with the team. Theres a certain level of certainty you need with a team, understanding what each mon will do in a match, whether you need to preserve them etc. This comes with experience using the team and after a while you should have a "bond" with the team in which you can instinctively know what to switchin at what time. The second is specific threats you didnt account for in teambuilding. Recently, I built a team super weak to sash alakazam, a pretty uncommon mon in ou. I didnt think about it during the teambuilding process and thus has no way of beating a well played alakazam. This is one of the most important habits to get into for any competetive game, analyse your game whether it's a win or a loss. Note what you did well, what you didnt and really important is to see what threats your team had trouble with and check how you can do better against them, editing accordingly. Often teams that looks really solid on paper have weaknesses you wouldnt think so testing is important. Dont beat yourself up though, teambuilding takes a while to get decent at so dont expect amazing teams off the bat.

Hope this helped
One of my team was totally broken by diggersby scarf, another uncommon mon in OU. I don't even check this kind of threaths because they are not really important, but, as you said, i'm going to do a good temabuild, check threats while testing, and try to improve the build in order to mange with them.
Thx for the help :)
 
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