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Legacy Raider

sharpening his claws, slowly
is a Top Team Rater Alumnusis a Community Leader Alumnusis a Smogon Discord Contributor Alumnusis a Top Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
Itt I'm just going to go over some guidelines for giving good rates, some basics that when stuck to won't let you go wrong.

Bits and pieces that are good to have on hand when rating.

I know I'm a visual learner and find it difficult to rate teams that are text only, but I think I'm safe in saying that everyone finds it quite a bit easier to overview the team when they are lined up as sprites. I find that Marriland's Team Builder is a great tool for doing just this. You can quickly enter the six Pokemon's names and it brings them up as icons at the lower part of the screen, while in the top section it shows the cumulative resistances and weaknesses of the team. Doing this takes literally 10 seconds, and you can now spot obvious weaknesses if you hadn't seen them in the rmt already. For example, if you see that the team has no resistance to Rock, variants of Tyranitar will almost always give it hell. Likewise, seeing no Electric resistance or immunities in a team will most likely mean it will have trouble taking Rotom down, or be at danger from being swept by Specs Jolteon, etc. This is a quick and easy to use tool but is almost always worth bringing up in a tab and entering the team.

Once you've been rating for a while you don't need to refer to them nearly as much, but when starting off or when you're struggling to spot potential weaknesses, it can be a good idea to take a glance at the Offensive and Defensive Threat Lists (courtesy of Jumpman). They were out of date for quite a while but have been recently updated with Platinum changes, etc, and are a rather forgotten resource here on the forums. They have OU Pokemon and a couple of lower tiered ones as well split up with regard to how they can be a threat to a team - whether it be sweeping a team through sheer power or being very hard to take down and giving a better damage output than they are receiving. It can be useful to just scroll down it quickly and just check off the things the team you are rating can handle comfortably, leaving you the Pokemon that can pose more of a threat to it.

The latest Server Stats Thread (provided monthly by DougJustDoug) can be used in a similar way, letting you scroll down quickly and check off the Pokemon that don't threaten the team. It is helpful in that the Pokemon are listed in order of usage, and so big threats can be identified quite quickly. Stats threads are also great for checking out what leads are common and need to be addressed.

Will keep you straight.

Rating can be made formulaic once you've had practice. Teams can be widely different, but rating them can be done step by step.

1) Identify the threat
The first step to take when trying to fix a team is identifying what is wrong with it, i.e. what it is threatened by and how these threats can be reduced. A team's biggest threat might not necessarily be a single Pokemon -- in fact, most well built teams will never be too vulnerable to a single foe. Teams can be weak to residual damage, when there are too many SR weaks or too many grounded Pokemon that give the likes of Skarmory and Forretress free switchins; they can be weak to defensive combinations and have a hard time breaking them (SkarmBliss and CeleTran may be simple, but they are used because they work, and teams are often quite weak to them without realizing it. This is where the defensive threat list comes in handy); and more defensively inclined teams may be vulnerable to common offensive strategies such as Magnezone + Dragon, or Pursuit-bait + SD Lucario, etc. Identifying what a team is weak to is the first step in helping it patch up the weakness. Experience in the current metagame is paramount when trying to help a team, and as raters you have to make sure you know what is common and what is effective. Being comfortable and confident in your own Pokelogic goes a great way in improving your ability to help others.

2) Explain how it is a threat
It's not enough to just say "Gyarados can 6-0 your team". You have to back that statement up and explain briefly how it can do this. With the case of the Gyarados example, you would highlight opportunities it would get to DD up, e.g. on Choice locked Bullet Punches or Fighting attacks, and just point out how the team's 6 Water-weaknesses or whatever mean they can't stand up to its Waterfalls. This should be done very briefly. Providing damage calculations can be helpful for more obscure or extremely potent threats, but they are not necessary. However, you should always try to give an explanation, however brief, of why the threat is one in relation to the way the team works.

3) Provide a solution
Pointing out a problem is not enough - as raters you are expected to fix it as well as best you can. Letting the new player know that he is weak to Gyarados is great, but now all he is going to do is slap an Electivire on the team and call it a day, wholly believing that this Electric type has him secured against the threat. Providing a solution is another point at which the range of your competitive experience is important - you can't really recommend something unless you've seen it used successfully or done so yourself. Therefore I can't highlight enough how important it is to play the game regularly and try out a variety of styles and Pokemon, thus best preparing you to help others make the right choices.

The solutions you recommend needn't be new Pokemon. Indeed, it is often best to try and deviate as little as possible from the original team as possible. Remember, you're here to rate the team, not rebuild it. Don't destroy a team's central strategy in order to fix a simple Heatran weakness - instead, cater your fix around the team's strategy. Quoting stathakis, "good rates are ones that help people beat threats without compromising the team's purpose; even better rates are ones that improve the execution of the team's purpose without compromising its ability to deal with threats". If the team is desperately in need of having 3 or more of its Pokemon replaced, then it's hardly worth rating and should be closed under rule 15, with its poster being directed to Battling 101. Changing an EV spread or tweaking a moveset are the best changes if they would help the team. However, some teams really just need some Pokemon replacing, and so don't be afraid to do this if you know it will help the team more than the Pokemon whose place it is taking. Also, when recommending sets, try to do it in a neat, concise way. Taking up 7 lines just to write out a set just stretches out your post unnecessarily and can make it annoying to read. I like to use the following format when recommending Pokemon:

Pokemon @ Item | Ability
Nature | EVs / EVs / EVs
Move1 / Move2 / Move3 / Move4

You don't have to do it like this, but try to keep your recommendations as concise as possible. It makes your post a lot easier to read for one :).

4) Explain how the solution helps
Again, rather basic, but you should take care not to miss doing this out. Even if it's a very basic "Celebi resists Waterfall and can paralyze Gyarados before outstalling it with Grass Knot and Recover", try and always note how the fix you recommended will help with the problem. If you've recommended the right solution, this shouldn't be hard to do at all, since you'll have had reasons for choosing the Pokemon in the first place. Getting these down in your post will help the person whose team you are rating see your (hopefully) correct reasoning and realize that the fix is helpful. At the end of the day, by rating a team you are just trying to help the guy out, and so backing up your points to convince him that your solutions are good will make him a lot more likely to pay heed to your advice. It can be annoying when people just ignore what you are trying to advise them with, but most of the time it is because you didn't explain why your help is helpful well enough. Either that or they are just obstinate and are losing out anyway.
while the information in this thread is excellent and completely true in every way, I think that most of the people who need to be reading it will misconstrue the content. I think to fix this, you should put more emphasis on the purpose of the team. Recently, I have noticed that most of the rates, from badged and nonbadged members alike, have given little thought to the purpose of the team. People are replacing 3+ pokemon just to deal with threats and this is not ok. while changing maybe one mon to fix a terrifying weakness is acceptable, changing half the team just to deal with stuff is unacceptable, and for this reason: we are talking about the "rate my team" forum, not the "build me a new team" forum. when you change 3+ mons, most of the time the purpose of the team is completely lost. If, somehow, the team retains its purpose after changing 3 pokemon, then chances are the poster of the thread has not put enough thought into the team and doesnt deserve effort and thought of a teamrater. There are too many rates that disregard the purpose of the team completely and just change pokemon to fix threats. This promotes what I call "passive teambuilding," where one simply tries to build a team that deals with every threat, rather than having a purpose of its own, which is not a good thing.

Rant about the quality of rates aside, this is pretty easy to fix. I would take the second paragraph of "provide a solution" and make it its own section. I'd title it "Change as little as possible" or something along those lines. While this doesn't do anything for intelligent people who try hard to make good rates and thus read the whole thread thoroughly, a very large portion of this subforum is both dumb and lazy, meaning that if something isn't bolded they may miss its importance.

I'd also expand on step 4 of the sequence you've outlined here, talking about how people should actually make sure the solution is good for the team and not, in fact, making it worse. Make sure that your suggestion actually helps the team. While putting celebi over scizor alleviates the gyarados weakness, it may open up a gengar weakness that outweighs the fact that gyarados is now not a threat. I see people replacing pokemon left and right without regarding what the team loses by losing the pokemon that got replaced. While replacing pokemon is ok when it is justified, you need to make sure your suggestions actually help. The teamrater should weigh the pros and the cons of their suggestion, and make sure the good actually does outweigh the bad. If they do this this themselves to make sure their suggestion is good, then it should be even easier to explain to the op how the suggestion helps (since they've already done it for themselves, at that point, all they have to do is put their thoughts into words).

And now I'm going to suggest a slightly bigger change to further help point teamraters in the right direction. What you have outlined here implies that good rates are ones that help people beat threats without compromising the team's purpose. In my opinion, even better rates are ones that improve the execution of the team's purpose without compromising its ability to deal with threats. For instance, if there's a subcmjirachi team, one might suggest, say, a toxic spikes roserade over lead swampert and then in some way finding a way to deal with salamence while still helping jirachi. The teamrater has given the op much more help than one who covered a scarftran weakness, because he has helped the team execute its purpose much more effectively while still not losing out to any threats.

So what I'd like you to do is add some maybe another small section or some closing words talking about how it is good to improve coverage against threats but even better to help the team fulfill its purpose more effectively, and that if this can be done without compromising the ability to deal with threats, it should.

Of course, this is all just in my opinion as a fellow teamrater, so if you feel like disregarding everything in this post, go ahead. If you'd like me to write up the things I suggested, I can do that too. I refrained from doing so in this post because if you didnt like my ideas I'd rather not waste my time writing something that will never be read.

cheers, and thanks for taking the time to make this thread!

Legacy Raider

sharpening his claws, slowly
is a Top Team Rater Alumnusis a Community Leader Alumnusis a Smogon Discord Contributor Alumnusis a Top Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
You raise very good points stath, which I did try and hint at by saying it's best to deviate as little from the original team as you can.

Stathakis said:
If you'd like me to write up the things I suggested, I can do that too. I refrained from doing so in this post because if you didnt like my ideas I'd rather not waste my time writing something that will never be read.
Tbh you've done a great job with your post as it is, and you could leave it and still get this important point across. If you want to add write anything more though go ahead - I can add it to the OP or you can keep it in your post, your choice. The input of other experienced raters was exactly what I was after by making this thread.
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