Resource doughboy teaches teambuilding - Lesson 2 - Synergy

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doughboy teaches teambuilding
Approved by Reverb, Aragorn the King, and AM.

Hello everyone. It has been awhile since I wrote the last one of these because these articles take awhile to make and I was pretty busy. For those unfamiliar with the last thread, these lessons aim to teach players, from the beginners to the more experienced, the more advanced concepts of teambuilding. You can find a list of the lessons at the bottom of the page. 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 and might not agree with everything in here. Anyway here is lesson 2 about synergy, as requested by -Clone- in the last lesson.

Topic: What is synergy and what types are there of it?

Synergy is the way pokemon on a team interact with eachother to take on or take out eachothers checks and counters. Teams with basic synergy see if that one pokemon is weak to one attacking type, it has a partner pokemon to absorb that hit. Good team synergy, however, is more than handling attacks from the opponent. Good team synergy considers the kind of moves thrown out by the opponent, what Pokemon is throwing out those moves, and the punishment the follows when an opposing pokemon throws out a move. It's not just about being able to take an attack, its about gaining momentum on your side and forcing your opponent to second guess themselves. Let's take a look at some examples before moving on to the full team, starting from the most basic to the more advanced.

Basic Synergy:

  • Type Synergy
    • Fire-Water-Grass (FWG) is the most well known defensive core basis. They were prominent back in gen 4, but are less common today. FWG cores rely upon basic type synergy: one pokemon in the core resists or is immune to an attacking-type weakness of another. Most novice teambuilders follow this style of teambuilding by starting off with a pokemon and then searching for a pokemon that resists its singular weaknesses (ex. OK I have a Heatran hey look Mega-Venusaur resists all of Water and Fighting!). This example FWG core covers most attacking types in the game and gets most common attacking type combinations (Water + Ice, Dragon + Fire, etc.).
    • While this style of teambuilding is good when you start playing, it will only get you so far. Synergy should not just let you handle the opponents hits, it should consider the punishment that follows afterwards. The concept of punishment is central to good synergy. A punish is the way you get closer to your fulfilling your team's win condition. The simplest punishment is getting a strong attack off on the opponent. It also includes stuff like setting up a sweeper with a boosting move or setting up SR. The above beginner teambuilding method only takes into account when you are on the receiving end of the opponent's attacking moves, it doesn't take into account what plays you will be making after the hit. In other words, it does not consider gaining momentum and only considers slowing down your opponents momentum.
    • As a side note, if you build cores like this you should consider attacking combinations. For example, the above core has both a Flying resist and two Fighting-resists, but it is pretty clear that a Mega-Pinsir can rip through this core cleanly with Return + Close Combat.
  • Basic Combinations

    • +
    • There are pokemon combinations in the game that are laid out for you to follow a certain strategy. A rain inducer with a swift swim user is an example of one these "laid out" combinations. Politoed automatically induces rain with the ability Drizzle, which in turn doubles the speed of pokemon the ability Swift Swim like Kingdra and Mega-Swampert. These pokemon / ability combinations can form solid bases for a team (I've even used them myself with success), but if you want to widen your teambuilding options, you will have to look beyond what is intuitive and what is "laid out" for you in the game.
Advanced Synergy

  • Creating setup opportunities
    • Good team synergy considers what opposing pokemon killed your own pokemon to create setup opportunities. This is especially true for well-built HO teams which normally have an early game wallbreaker that gets revenge killed. The opposing revenge killer is then set up upon by your sweeper, then you setup a secondary sweeper on the first sweeper's revenge killer, etc. The easiest way to create a setup oppurtunity is on moves from common choiced trappers (Pursuit, HP Fire / Thunderbolt from Magnezone, and Gothitelle's Psychic) because the opponent's strategy will usually rely heavily on successfully trapping.

    • A common combination of pokemon that uses this tactic is Healing Wish Latias and a Dark-resisting sweeper. Latias is one of the most targeted pokemon for a Pursuit trap, normally by Scarf Tyranitar or Pursuit Bisharp. If Latias is put into a checkmate position by either of these pokes, it can use Healing Wish on Pursuit to make sure a Fighting-type or Fairy-type sweeper is at full health to set up. Sub CM Keldeo, SD Lucario, and Belly Drum Azumarill are all good choices to pair with Latias. You should further consider what type of team that revenge killer or trapper would be on. So for example, Scarf Tyranitar is often paired with Keldeo and Landorus-I. Scarf Ttar could potentially revenge kill Lucario itself. Out of Extremespeed, Ice Punch, Crunch, Iron Tail, and Bullet Punch what moves would be the best to put on Lucario? Scarf TTar is easier to wear down than Keldeo since it is neutral to SR while Keldeo resists and it usually takes Latias' Draco Meteor damage. Mega-Venuaur / Unaware Clefable aren't usually on Sand teams because of Sandstorm cutting off their recovery. Finally bulky Ground-types that cover TTar's weaknesses like Gliscor, Landorus-T, and bulky Chomp are more common than bulky Psychic's. Even if the opposing team has a bulky psychic, it is easier to remove because of its Pursuit weakness. This would mean that Lucario's optimal moveset when paired with Latias is Extreme Speed > Bullet Punch and Ice Punch > Crunch + Iron Tail. This type of strategy can also be used with leads (ex. replace Latias with Azelf vs Scarf TTar).
  • Punishing moves from the opponent
    • Creating a sweep is the best punishment you can create. Most of the time you will not be able to create a sweep by pressuring the opponent to switch. Throughout the game, your team synergy should give you smaller punishes that contributes to your win condition off of the moves your opponent throws out. Whether this be getting an extra attack off with a wallbreaker, a chance to status the opponent (Toxic or throwing out Scald), or even forcing a double switch to rack up extra hazard damage.
    • Dragon Dance Charizard X is one of the most fearsome sweepers in the metagame. Its best check, Scarf Landorus-T also happens to be one of the most used sets in the game. Scarf Landorus-T often throws out U-turn to get switch initiative. Pairing Charizard X with Rocky Helmet Garchomp or Rocky Helmet Ferrothorn means that every time Landorus-T tries to gain switch initiative with U-turn, it gets 29% damage. Eventually you can weaken Landorus-T to the point where a Flare Blitz can straight up KO. This strategy can be used against other pokemon that use U-turn and contact moves, like Talonflame vs Mega-Loppunny / Keldeo + Rocky Helmet Garchomp. Another example of this strategy in practice is pairing a Pokemon that is normally targeted by Ground-moves with an unrevealed Magma Storm Air Balloon Heatran. If you have a Raikou vs an opposing Scarf Landorus-T, the opponent will be more willing to throw out an Earthquake since he believes you do not have an Earthquake immunity. On the Earthquake switch in Heatran and you get a free trap on a target.
    • Mega-Altaria is another fearsome sweeper in OU and it can be paired with Keldeo, Manaphy, Rotom-W, or any other Water-type that uses Scald to fish for burns on Altaria's checks. Generally all the water-types paired with Altaria try to accomplish the same job, but some lure in different targets more than others. For example, a Keldeo wouldn't necessarily bring in Ferrothorn on a Scald because of its Fighting-STAB while Manaphy or Starmie wouldn't bring in Mega-Venusaur or Amoonguss because of a +3 or STAB Psychic respectively. Depending on whether you team finds Ferrothorn or Grass / Poison types more difficult to handle means a different Scald user may work better for you.
  • Getting abilities to work with eachother on a team

    • This was touched upon before with Politoed and Swift Swim Kingdra, but there are less obvious examples. Normally this aspect of synergy does not appear on teams, but sometimes abilities can combine together so that pokes can aid eachother. It is good to watch out for these if you can easily place one pokemon with a viable alternative that accomplishes the same role + a complimentary ability.
    • Charizard Y with an accompanying Sandstreamer is a classic example of pokemon having complimentary abilities with eachother. Charizard Y teams are very formulaic and a Sand Streamer can fit in two different slots: the bulky ground slot or Pursuit trapper slot. If a Charizard Y team used Hippowdon or Tyranitar, the team could reset Charizard Y's Sun turns by switching in the sandstream user. This way, if Charizard Y came onto the field 3 turns later after it initially came in, it would not have only one turn of sun left.
    • Double Intimidate cores are another great example of stacking abilities with eachother. Landorus-T + Mega-Manetric was a particularly popular core in the late XY metagame that was used to handle physical attackers. Another example is that any weather besides sunlight can be used to restrict the recovery of Pokemon reliant on Synthesis or Moonlight. Scarf Tyranitar + Keldeo uses Sandstream to cut off Mega-Venusaur's recovery.

Now that we have an idea of what good synergy is, let's see what it looks like when put into practice!

Example Team - DD Altaria Balance

This is an example team that I have used on the Landorus-I suspect ladder that uses some concepts of synergy that are talked about earlier. Dragon Dance Mega-Altaria is the team's primary win condition. It is a good pick on the suspect ladder because Landorus-I is banned and Gengar is much less popular and those two were common powerful Sludge Wave users. Every member of the team somehow contributes to weakening Mega-Altaria's counters. I started with the core Keldeo, Mega-Altaria, and Tyranitar.

Altaria @ Altarianite
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Dragon Dance
- Return
- Earthquake
- Roost​
Dragon Dance Mega-Altaria has become much more popular as of late. Pixelate Return even when unboosted by Dragon Dance is very powerful. I opted for the offensive Dragon Dance set because after Landorus-I's ban balance is the most used playstyle on the ladder and the extra power is needed to break balance. Return + Earthquake is the best and most powerful physical coverage without taking away from Altaria's bulk. Because Altaria does not have Leftovers and it is one of the team's pivot switches I decided to give it Roost to stave of Sandstorm damage from my Tyranitar and attacks from the opposing team.

Keldeo-Resolute @ Choice Specs
Ability: Justified
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Scald
- Secret Sword
- Hydro Pump
- Icy Wind / Hiddern Power Electric
Choice Specs Keldeo is one of Altaria's best partners and a fearsome wallbreaker in its own right. Scald is essential to get a chance to burn Altaria's counters such as Mega-Venusaur and Amoonguss. Oftentimes Keldeo comes in from my Landorus-T's or my Jirachi's U-turn on a bulky Steel or Ground-type. The opponent is then pressured to switch out to his Keldeo counter to eat a powerful Scald. This is where I get most of my chances to burn. Icy Wind is nice to catch Lati@s when Tyranitar fails to trap them and to stop stuff from Dragon Dancing. Hidden Power Electric can be used as extra insurance against Mega-Gyarados. Keldeo is also an important defensive answer to Bisharp, Weaville, and Mega-Scizor who threaten a lot of my team. Overall, Keldeo is super important to the balance matchup because it is my teams best tool of breaking down bulky walls with Hydro Pump and Altaria counters with Scald.

Tyranitar @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Stone Edge
- Crunch
- Pursuit
- Superpower
Tyranitar is the most important pokemon on this team. Sand stream lessens the recovery given by Mega-Venusaur's Synthesis and Unaware Clefable's Moonlight. The speedy Pursuit support is not only great for trapping Keldeo's counters, but for also eliminating offensive pokemon that threaten Mega-Altaria. Both Mega-Metagross and Gengar are powerful offensive threats that could prevent Altaria from setting up. Either could get a powerful hit off by switching in on its Return. Tyranitar prevents that from happening. In addition, it and Scarf Jirachi form a great anti-offensive pair. Together they can revenge kill almost any offensive threat (weather sweepers included). Sometimes people are taken by surprise and do not expect dual scarfers. Even in stall matchups, Tyranitar isn't dead weight like most Scarfers because of Sand and Pursuit support.

Jirachi @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Iron Head
- Fire Punch
- U-turn
- Healing Wish
Choice Scarf Jirachi is this team's primary answer to Fairy-types. Its STAB Iron Head is a nuisance for every Fairy type sweeper ranging from Clefable to DD Mega-Altaria. Fire Punch is used to have a secondary revenge killer against Mega-Scizor incase Keldeo gets weakened. U-turn makes it an excellent pivot to Keldeo, who comes in the bulky Steel and Ground types (ex. Heatran and Lando-T) that try to stomach Jirachi's attacks. Healing Wish is an awesome move to pull out lategame; usually Mega-Altaria or Keldeo are on the receiving end. Healing Wish makes sure status doesn't put an end to Altaria's chances to sweep. Teams that rely on Prankster Thunder Wave or Scald burns to stop Altaria get a nasty surprise late game. It also means that like Tyranitar, Jirachi isn't entirely weight in stall matchups.

Landorus-Therian (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 248 HP / 16 Atk / 236 Def / 8 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Stealth Rock
- Earthquake
- Stone Edge
- U-turn
Landorus-T is this team's Stealth Rocker and best pivot switch. It covers Tyranitar's and Jirachi's Ground and Fighting weaknesses very well. Landorus-T's second job is to assist Reuniclus, my secondary win condition, by luring in and eliminating standard Mega-Sableye. An Adamant nature and 16 Atk EV's means that if I U-turn on a Mega-Sableye trying to block SR, the next time it tries to block SR it will get 2HKO'ed by Earthquake. Like Jirachi, it attracts bulky Ground and Steel-types so when it U-turns on them it gives Keldeo another chance to Scald.

Reuniclus @ Life Orb / Leftovers
Ability: Magic Guard
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Spe OR 252 / 200 Def / 56 SpD
Bold Nature
- Calm Mind
- Psychic / Psyshock
- Focus Blast
- Recover​

Another important aspect of synergy is make sure you have pokemon that can handle the three different playstyles well (stall, balance, and offense). Reuniclus was put on the team to resolve this team's matchup with stall and to give the team a reliable way of killing Venusaur, Amoonguss, and Ferrothorn. Unlike most Reuniclus, I decided to go with Psychic + Life Orb. Without Life Orb and Psychic, Reuniclus will be unable to break Unaware Clefable and Quagsire. Take a look at these calcs:
0 SpA Reuniclus Focus Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Quagsire: 147-174 (37.3 - 44.1%) -- 100% chance to 3HKO after Leftovers recovery
0 SpA Reuniclus Psyshock vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Clefable: 93-109 (23.6 - 27.6%) -- 77.7% chance to 4HKO after sandstorm damage and Leftovers recovery

0 SpA Life Orb Reuniclus Psychic vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Quagsire: 216-255 (54.8 - 64.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
0 SpA Life Orb Reuniclus Psychic vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Clefable: 168-199 (42.6 - 50.5%) -- 1.2% chance to 2HKO after sandstorm damage and Leftovers recovery
The standard set that uses Psyshock, Leftovers, and 56 Sp. Def is equally good because it lessens my Fairy weakness by countering Mega-Diance and Clefable. The standard set can avoid Diance's Moonblast 2HKO and win the CM war versus Clefable with Psyshock. I also decided to go with Reuniclus over Clefable because it can block Ferrothorn's Leech Seed recovery much more easily than Clefable. Blocking Ferrothorn's Leech Seed recovery ensures that Mega-Altaria has an easier time sweeping. Most teams are reliant upon Gengar or strong Dark-type moves to take on Reuniclus. This is problematic for opposing teams, however, because Gengar is trapped by Scarf Tyranitar and if Reuniclus killed by a Dark-type attack Mega-Altaria gets an opportunity to set up a Dragon Dance.

So how did this team effectively use synergy?
  • Basic Synergy
    • The Mega-Ataria + Tyranitar + Keldeo fairy weakness is largely covered by Jirachi, who can check most Fairy types. Keldeo and Jirachi also take on Mega-Alataria's weakness to offensive steel types. Landorus-T covers Tyranitar's and Jirachi's Ground weakness.
    • Tyranitar + Jirachi cover most offensive threats and offensive teams due to their high speed. Dragon Dance Mega-Altaria and Keldeo can break up balance teams through sheer power output. Reuniclus can break through even the bulkiest of stall teams through its resistance to residual damage and Calm Mind.
  • Basic Combinations
    • Tyranitar Pursuit traps common Keldeo counters with a Dark weakness such as Latias, Latios, and Celebi.
  • Creating Setup Opportunities
    • Tyranitar eliminates Gengar and Mega-Metagross easily by trapping it with Pursuit. This means DD Altaria and Reuniclus do not have to worry about letting in a strong attacker in for free.
    • Choice locked Fighting and Dark moves are easy bait for DD Mega-Altaria to setup. Reuniclus forces Dark-type attacks because of its immense bulk and immunity to residual damage.
    • Healing Wish from Jirachi ensures that even if Altaria is statused, it still has a second chance to sweep.
  • Punishing moves from the opponent
    • U-turn Landorus-T and U-turn Jirachi bring in Keldeo safely on switched in bulky Steel and bulky Ground types that normally come in on Landorus-T and Jirachi. This allows Keldeo to get a free Scald off (an extra chance to burn) a Mega-Altaria counter.
    • Adamant Landorus-T punishes Mega-Sableye that attempt to switch into a potential Stealth Rock. Mega-Sableye gets 2HKO'ed after a U-turn by EQ the next time it comes in, which means Reuniclus has an easier time sweeping.
  • Getting abilities to work with one another
    • Tyranitar's Sand Stream and Reuniclus' Magic Guard accomplish the same thing: cutting off the recovery of Mega-Altaria counters. Sandstream forces Mega-Venusaur and Unaware Clefable to only recover 25% from Synthesis and Moonlight respectively. Magic Guard prevents Ferrothorn from gaining recovery from Leech Seed
So now you should see that synergy is much more than covering weaknesses. Good synergy considers what pokemon are attacking and what would be the optimal way to punish said pokemon in common in-game scenarios.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to post below! Apologies that this week's team is similar to last week's team, it just happened that way accidentally lol. Also if you have an idea about what to talk about for the next lesson PM me or comment below. Thanks for reading!

Lessons List:
Lesson 1: What makes an effective team?
Lesson 2: Synergy


is a Pre-Contributor
So this is what you talked about when you mentioned a big post coming up! Not gonna lie this is gonna prove REALLY useful down the road and I really do appreciate this going up :)
Really nice to see this return! I've seen some of these examples of the more advanced synergy but I never really thought of it as so in the past.
Thanks for the guide, very helpful. On offensive teams, I'd always like pairing up mons that can setup on each other's counters, but this went way more in depth then that. Gonna try to apply what you talked about in the next team I build. :]
Ey Doughboy, think you could mention things on offense, like pairs something to counter threats like to do, such as on offensive teams, like offensive cores that have synergy with each other, like gyara-flameserperior core, with them covering weaknesses! Or counters and checks being blocked on offense
I would perhaps mention that part of what makes good cores into potentially great teams in the initial phase is taking a weakness to the core in particular and finding a way to create even more synergy with it. To take the ZardX + RH Chomp example, fairies such as Altaria and Diancie just destroy both. Scarf Jirachi can come into them relatively comfortably and not only does it get momentum back with U-turn, it also appreciates Landorus-T's U-turns being punished by Chomp and loves ZardX busting through bulkier physical walls like Hippowdon while potentially packing Healing Wish to give Zard a second attempt at a sweep if it's been crippled by a hard hit like ZardY Focus Blast or status like suicide TWave from Thundurus / Klefki. Of course this is really open to ground move spam and Keldeo, so Lati@s fit the bill here - Defogs for Zard's SR weak and draws in Steels/Pursuits for Zard to set up on.

Very good read otherwise, nice work
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