OU Part 6: Complete guide to battling and team building. Idiot proof

Part 1: http://www.smogon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51778 (outdated, but still good)
Part 2: http://www.smogon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65122 (outdated, but still good)
Part 3: http://www.smogon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81313 (outdated, but still good)
Part 4: http://www.smogon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=84227
Part 5: http://www.smogon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=84449

If anything I say here contradicts what I’ve said before (and a lot of it will), then the more accurate info is here. This is really all you should need to read. I’ve left out about 60% of the guide, which mostly details my team. Last time I released it, there was a pretty disgusting onslaught of net-teaming. I’ll post it when I feel like it.

This is almost a no-hold-barred guide, I'm releasing just about everything I can think of (except for a few, far more advanced ideas/strategies/concepts, which I'll leave you guys to figure out). Everyone should be playing at at least a competent level (assuming you aren't new to the competitive scene) by the end. Not too many secrets this time, I'm trying not to pull what I did with the first 5 installations, which was giving you guys second string info or teams. This is the real deal. I'm trying my best to put everything I do subconsciously on-paper so you guys can hopefully do the same (but given I'm doing it subconsciously, it's really hard to pinpoint just what it is I do sometimes; I just see it as "common sense", albeit I have to realize it doesn't appear that way to most players). There's a decade worth of experience in this guide here.

However, I did leave out some key concepts, some key beliefs that I hold purposely. The problem with releasing my ideas and concepts though, is the fact that I'm releasing my thinking. My thinking isn't always 100% accurate, and it leads to close-minded thinking if everyone were to follow it. And even if it is, it isn't the only viable form of thinking. It'd just be a bunch of mini-Borats running around playing each other with the same mindset, probably the same teams. Not cool. Or pretty cool, depending on how you see it. So you'll see a lot of generalizations being made in this guide, and they're broad and general on purpose. I want to leave room for interpretation, and by saying "so and so pokemon is bad", it would eliminate that pokemon from the scene entirely. Diversity is a big part of what makes a metagame fun, and limiting it too much by way of certain philosophies or beliefs on the way the game "should" be played, that not only eliminates the creativity and diversity in the team-building process, but it also greatly hinders metagame evolution.

Snorlax used Curse!
Snorlax's Attack rose!
Snorlax's Defense rose!
Snorlax's Speed fell!

Yes, we all know the preconceived notions. Ready to stop being mediocre?

A pretty in-depth guide like never before seen to making your own, COMPETITIVE GSC teams. As well as competitive battling. I’ve also include, as example, my very own compilation and building process, with every bit of “in-the-mind-of-Borat” thinking you could possibly want. However, I would strongly prefer it if you guys strayed away from using this team, since this is mainly for educational purposes. The point of this guide is to teach YOU how to make your OWN team. And net-teaming, copying, is not cool, and somewhat disrespectful.

Team Building Guide

On the topic of curselax: it isn't something you should slap on a team and automatically expect to win games with it. In fact, you should never solely depend on it to win games for you. You'll NEVER have consistent game-to-game performance from it, you WILL run into hard walls. If you EQ, then Skarm, curse forretress, Miltank, misdreavus, and Umbreon wall you. If you Fire blast, then ttar, rhydon, miltank, umbreon, misdreavus, and gengar (played smart) will wall you. If you LK, then ttar, rhydon, skarm, curse forr, miltank, steelix, misdreavus, umbreon, and gengar will wall you. If you drum, then missy, gengar will wall you, and you have to drum vs skarm, ttar, rhydon, and steelix. Even if you curse + STAB + 2 of the listed moves, you will STILL be hard walled by a couple things. So you see, no matter what you run in that secondary, even tertiary slot, you're sacrificing something, somewhere, sometimes. And snorlax is a pretty important slot to just "waste". However, you can use these "disadvantages" to your advantage as well.

Short version:

Tip: Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of attempting to do too much with a team. If you're trying to do everything, often times, you end up doing nothing. It's better to do a few things right, and to cover the rest up with in-game plays, than to try and do a lot of things wrong.

Step 1a: find a purpose with team (roar spikes toxic, joltwak, para support + wak, druidcruel, drumzard, drumquag, drumfable, cursechamp, cursehera, growthpass blah blah anything you can think of)
Step 1b: if possible, fit more "goals" and different "paths" to take (goals/paths that complement each other)
Step 2a: find proper support (do you need a phazer? spc wall, physical wall, beller, etc); take a look at team roles/genre
Step 2b: round out team of six if you haven't already; take into account switch patterns and synergies*; take a look at team roles/genre
Step 3: account for Snorlax/electrics/whatever other threats or defensive walls you need to consider
Step 4: test, then return to step 2

If you're offensive, be lenient to yourself on how much defensive coverage you need. Sacrifice it for offense if needed. Offense can cover defense. If Machamp can't switch into anything, it isn't really beating your team is it?

Likewise, if you're defensive, you can be pretty lenient on how much offensive coverage you need. On the other hand, defense does NOT cover offense. The lazy man's fix is just to throw a drumlax on it, or if you think you're skilled enough, all you need is to ensure spikes (e.g. forr + missy), which should be plenty enough to guarantee the game won't draw out forever.


1. core strategy
2. team synergy*
3. roles
4. defensive/offensive threats/holes/gaps

*Team synergy: Basically one way to look at it is how fluid the team performs in battle. Play out a hypothetical match in your head. Good teams with good synergy offer many paths and options by way of double-triple-quadruple switches to keep offense/defense flowing and not stagnant. This is the idea behind constant pressure. If you're playing a marowak, chances are you can force in Cloy/Cune/Skarm, so you need something to capitalize from that position, either switching into Cloy/Cune/Skarm, or double switching to another offense that performs well vs Cloy/Cune/Skarm (electrics come to mind). Likewise, a curselax can probably force in steelix/miltank/skarm matchups, so you probably want something to capitalize off those matchups as well. These are just defensive switch-in examples. Sometimes, there are offensive "holes". If you're running starmie, then you run the risk of freely letting in lax, be it drum, curse, mix or any other of the million variants. You'll need something to fall back on from this position. The idea is to have many overlapping functions between a team, to make the team perform... as a team, rather than individuals. It's a general concept, and tough to grasp, but when you build a team with good synergy, it'll just "feel" right.

Example scenario: I send machamp, they send zap, I send lax, they send skarm, I send zap, they send lax, I send champ again. So if I make a double switch anywhere, I can force the ideal mismatch I want, be it zap vs skarm, lax vs zap, or champ vs lax. This allows me to get that all important curse on the switch, hit on the switch, para on the switch, fish for a CH, or whatever it is I need. These little switch triangles, squares, what-have-yous, make the team that much more dynamic and allows for more flexibility in real-world situations. Good teams have plenty of these hidden vs a wide variety of different matchups.

A team with good synergy is usually built from the ground up with this synergy concept in mind, rather than the "I need defense vs pokemon X so tack on pokemon Y". It makes the focus about the team, rather than the opposition. Otherwise, you have a team that feels somewhat disjointed. However, the holy grail here is almost a catch-22 concept. You want the team members to complement each other, but you want them to avoid OVER-RELYING on each other. Just something to keep in mind.

After multiple tests and changes to the team to address problems, it will become one of two things:

1. Better
2. Worse

Humor me. If it's better, then good, keep at it. But don't base "better" off just wins or anything, wins can be deceiving depending on the quality of opponents. Sometimes curselax will net you the easiest of wins against bad or even mediocre players, but in reality require a lot of setup for it work vs better opponents. Don't fall into the trap and make sure you see through this illusion of "false" success. Base the performance off something less tangible, but a more reliable measure of improvement, whether it "feels" better, more synergetic, more comfortable to play, performance in-battle, etc.

If it's worse, time to start over, maybe even scrap it and find a new core strategy to build around. Teams usually become worse because generally changes made were to cover up defensive gaps, since if a team loses, it's losing to certain attacks? And the best way to address those attacks? With defense! Don't fall into this trap, or you end up with a team that's completely disfunctional on both fronts.

However, if stalling was your goal in the first place, then maybe covering additional things made you suseptible to stuff you weren't weak to in the first place. Then look for alternatives, or just decide which one is more important to cover, and learn to play around the other thing.

It's very likely that whatever problems you're addressing could be covered up by playing differently, so if a team is at the point where it's starting to "feel right", then check to make sure if there's any changes you can make to the way you play before you make changes to the team and mess up the synergy.

Be creative.

Long version:

Basically, if you’re serious about GSC teams and want to play at the highest level, there’s a couple things to remember. You need at least one curselax check, this can be anything from Skarmory, Miltank, Umbreon, Machamp, Misdreavus, Porygon2, Gengar, Meganium, Forretress (with curse), Steelix, Rhydon, Tyranitar (with roar), Dragonite (with haze?), Slowbro (with growl), to even your own curselax. You can be pretty creative here. Not all coverage is equal obviously, with Miltank, you’ve got a pretty good shot of covering all forms of non-LK/drum curselax, and with Miltank + Skarmory, you’ve got pretty much all forms of curselax covered (except maybe FB and LK?) bar luck. Miltank + Skarmory + Tyranitar, curselax can just about forget it. And with Gengar, you’ve only really got mono-attacking Snorlax coverage. With Machamp, you’ve got more of an offensive coverage, nothing really to switch into it. How much curselax coverage you want depends largely on what you can spare, and how defensive a team you want. Dedicating your entire team to defense makes for a pretty unimpressive offensive repertoire, but not having anything for the most popular Pokemon in GSC is just retarded. Having at least one is mandatory in OU GSC.

There’s no such thing as a Snorlax counter. Stop looking for one. Finesse is your best friend. You have to learn to play around Snorlax, with switches, with scare moves, with aggression, with a wide variety of tactics. You have to know when to be passive, and when to be aggressive, and what your team is capable of. Learning how to play around Snorlax, learning how to play WITHOUT snorlax, are two key aspects of getting to the elite levels of GSC play. The most common ways to kill a Snorlax is either CH, or Explosion. Probably followed by Destiny Bond. Other deaths usually result when a game is already won or lost. Snorlax is a big part of the metagame, use that to your advantage. Too many players are over-reliant on Snorlax, either in mindset, or in team composition. Ultimately, it’s just one pokemon.

Following that, another universal threat is probably that of Zapdos and Raikou. For the most part, if you’re using Snorlax anyway, it’s not a huge deal, but the odd CH can really put you in a pinch if you’re not careful. Some options to consider here are Tyranitar, Raikou, Marowak, Steelix, Meganium, Blissey, Rhydon, Nidoking, Jolteon, and definitely, Quagsire. But Tyranitar hates taking Thunders, and Marowak really has a hard time dealing with Zapdos, and gets close to being 2-shotted by Hidden Power Ice/Water/Grass. This isn’t as important as before, especially when considering Zapdos/Raikou both have a pretty hard time getting through Snorlax, but still, being the second and third best pokemon in GSC is worth taking note. This is especially true if Snorlax is taking spikes damage on the switch, taking net 40%+. Either invest into a secondary special wall, or start playing with more finesse. Having grounds should at least force the Electrics to do more than just blindly Thunder on the switch, which is very important for damage control. Those that want more coverage may want to look for a legitimate secondary special wall in either Blissey or Raikou, if finesse isn’t an option. Keep in mind Blissey offers very little on the offensive side.

And unless you’re settling for a team that never plans to win-win, then the first defensive wall you need to be able to get through is Snorlax. Not so much curselax, but snorlax in general. The best way of dealing with curselax is still neutralizing it, rather than flatout killing it, which is pretty fucking hard. Options are really aplenty, and creativity is key. Your opponent would probably be sacrificing Pokemon after pokemon just to keep snorlax alive. Killing Snorlax through the physical side is much easier than through the special side, but that’s not saying special side is impossible either. Any of the growtheons can potentially do it, Zapdos/Raikou often do it with a bit of luck, even Jynx (lk and nightmare), Zam (encore, reflect, and twave), and Houndoom (sunny day)can send it running. Moltres is also doing close to 50% with SD. In general though, these special hits are chip hits for the hard physical hitters to finish it off. If you’re not building a stall team, then you’re probably going to want to have at least 1 (usually your own snorlax), but probably at least 2 legitimately physical hitters. In fact, it’s probably not a bad idea to have even more, anywhere from 2-5 is what I like on offensive teams.

At this point, you should have at least one thing capable of taking special hits from the likes of Zapdos an Raikou, at least a couple hits. Then you’re going to have to have at least one curselax answer. This can be a defensive one, an offensive one, or anything in between. Technically, both roles can be filled with just one pokemon: Snorlax. That should be all the “mandatory” defensive measures you need to take, albeit a phazer might be a good idea as well. Mean Look + Baton Pass Umbreon would be a horrible embarrassing thing to lose to.

Then you have to make a decision base on which path you want to take. Whether or not you want to make your team more offensive, or more defensive, or anything in-between, is completely up to you. Just make sure you’re addressing the right kind of problems, and not end up fixing something that didn’t need fixing in the first place. This is a very naive approach, and overly simplifies the process of team-building. But in general, it should work. If your team’s lacking offense, look through the list of offensive options and tack that on? Defense? Same thing. If you need a little bit of everything, then look for pokemon with overlapping roles (e.g. Ttar).

Just remember, NONE of the following roles are MANDATORY on ANY team. They are just quick tweak guidelines if your team is lacking something.

If you feel your team needs a bit more of an offensive punch, then there are a couple of different genres/roles of Pokemon to consider.

Mixed sweepers: These are the ones that can hit anything hard on the spot and require no set-up to do it. In general, they are primarily physical attackers who hit decently on the special side against skarms, forretress, and other physical walls. The notable exceptions on this list are Exeggutor/Gengar, whose physical side comes primarily from Explosion. And Marowak/Machamp, who are physical attackers that hit Skarm and friends just fine.

Nidoking (EQ, LK, and two special attacks of your choice. Counter will surprise HP legends/physical attackers)
Dragonite (plenty of variation here, special attacks of your choice, DP, DE, HP Flying, Extremespeed)
Tyranitar (again, many paths to take; FB, RS, DP, EQ, Crunch, Pursuit, Surf, Tbolt)
Rhydon (probably better as a curser, but you can run HP Bug to surprise eggs, or ZC for para on stuff)
Snorlax (unlimited possibilities, your choice of STAB, Self-D, EQ, FB, Thunder, LK, etc etc)
Exeggutor (Giga Drain, HP Fire, Psychic, Seed makes things awkward, Explosion, Sleep/Stun Spore)
Gengar (DP hits ttar switches really really hard, Explosion for others, then elemental attacks)
Muk (probably best to stick to the standard Curse, SB, Explosion, Fblast. I don't see Giga being worth it)
Porygon2 (Curse limits their offenses, then an IB freeze makes things real awkward)
Machamp (to curse or not to curse; both variations will deal massive damage to just about anything)
Marowak (Just make sure you have EQ, SD recommended, but FB can work for instant offense. HP Fly/Bug)

Set-up sweepers: As the name implies, they are pokemon whose offensive merits really begin to show after a turn or two of “set-up”, usually stat-upping. P-hazers are the usual problems with these guys, as well as how ineffective they become if the proper wall shows up. Oh, and it takes a while (Belly Drum and Marowak withstanding) to set up. Also, some require the proper timing and set up, e.g. with Curse/Roar/Substitute/Return Kangaskhan.

Machamp (With a curse and the proper supporting moves, pretty much nothing in the game matches up well)
Tyranitar (Curse version is probably stopped cold by suicune, but pretty damn good vs anything else. And it phazes!)
Rhydon (With a STAB EQ, it hits a lot harder than ttar, but on the flipside, you can't gamble vs [HP] waters at all)
Snorlax (curselax, drumlax, cursedrumlax, you know the deal)
Miltank (this is kind of a stretch, since you probably want it to bell as well. Nevertheless, it's an option to curse).
Porygon2 (curse is the standard, and for a good reason. Twave makes things real awkward for growltanks, and freeze = win)
Vaporeon (growthvap, hereby referred to as BORAT)
Kangaskhan (aforementioned curse, sub, roar kanga beats growltanks + phazers in one)
Marowak (SD wak, often combined with agi-pass. However, equally good, if not better, with some para support)
Espeon (growthespeon will be the next big thing in GSC. BP or HP Water/Grass creates matchup problems for most teams)
Muk (same set as above; just so god damn underrated how much havoc this causes. Ridiculously bulky as well)
Jolteon (growthjolt is an amazing pokemon, BP or not, it's just great. like espeon, it's just asking to break the meta)
Clefable (Drumfable was something I advocated for the longet time, and it can still win games like nobody's business)
Quagsire (Drumquag is the next big thing on the physical side of the game. It can rest for longevity, or SB to break eggs, good AGI BP target too)
Tentacruel (an old vet classic, and will wreck Vap and Thunder Electric teams. Druidcruel forgotten treasure)
Charizard (another vet favorite, it's never had any true counters that weren't dispatchable. Drumzard is a threat to every team all the time)

Exploders: Pretty straight forward stuff. Use these as a means to make the game “simpler”, take out the variables, and make it more about strategy. Some explosions tend to be better than others. Snorlax, Cloyster, Egg can all nail just about anything (albeit cloy usually explodes on starmie/other cloys). Gengar as well, but has a hard problem getting around T-tar. Steelix is a pretty one dimensional explosion, and really a last resort-bait kill thing. Muk has an EXTREMELY underrated explosion, but he’s definitely one of the better pokemon at taking care of business without the use of explosion. Forretress has a limited explosion for the most part, seeing that Gengar, Cloyster, Skarm, Ttar, other Forretress, Steelix, etc etc are all relatively safe switches depending on the set.

Snorlax (explosion on lax can nail anything. Classic mix/starterlax, or be creative with curse, LK, and/or even drum/rest)
Cloyster (can't learn spin and explosion, which is a real hit to cloy. regardless it's still damn nasty)
Forretress (somewhat limited explosion a far a targets go, but it's better than nothing. some choose to forgo it though)
Steelix (probably even more limited than Forr, since you're probably helpless vs air, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Gengar (amazing explosion from this thing. worst case scenario is Umbreon/ttar, but Dpunch will cover latter. And you can always just sleep them)
Muk (as aforementioned, absolutely underrated in every regard. Muk often doesn't have to explode to wreck havoc, but having it makes it that much better. just poison ttars)
Exeggutor (another pretty good explosion, but Skarm/Forr/Ttar often ruin your fun depending on your set. And umbreon. You can always go triple attack explosion though)
Golem (not really worth mentioning, but it's an option. And it hits a lot harder than steelix with neutral attacks, with FB for skarms)

Baton passers: Straight forward. Pass stats around. Or the occassional Mean Look.

Jolteon (pass growth or agi. or sub if you're a pansy. or both. probably a good idea to carry HP ice/water for ground phazers though)
BORAT (pass growth or the occassional aa)
Espeon (pass growth, that's all)
Umbreon (ideally, pass mean look. Rarely work vs good players. Or growth, maybe with HP fire for steel phazer. Curse is an option too, but good luck with that.)
Scizor (Pass agi and/or SD, but you'll have a hard time getting around Skarm)
Smeargle (Pass agi and/or sub and/or drum/sd. you have spore to ensure at least 1 pass; you'll probably die after that)

As far as the defensive route goes, there’s also a couple genre-types to consider.

Mixed walls:

Raikou (it's the premier special wall in GSC, with some physical bulk as well. it'll threaten any non-lax mixed sweeper, and takes any non-eqs pretty well)
Suicune (the definition of a mixed wall. takes hit from nido, ttar, dnite, and scares them off with it own attacks. applies to non-curse lax, hera, and even champ)
Miltank (with one turn recovery, you have the statistical adv. vs DP. Body Slam para might scare some of them off as well, since mixed attacker don't usually rest)
Heracross ("resists" non-stab boltbeams with ease, and EQ/fighting to boot. neutral to RS, but you scare ttars off easily. mirror match with other heras)
Snorlax (pretty good, you'll have to rest loop most of them. and you're banking on DP not hitting, and you won't do a good job walling lax/champ/hera.)
Tyranitar (not the best, but will take non-stab non-se special hits, and all non-bug/fighting/ground physical hits)
Forretress ("resisting" boltbeam is a huge help, but you better make damn sure they don't have a fire attack. FB from lax OHKOs)
Porygon2 (can take hit from non-stab special attacks pretty easily. if you twave, that's a huge help. doesn't like fighting attacks or megahorn though)
Umbreon (easily takes hits from any non-se attack, and toxic would probably deter them from pursuing things further. charm will bail you out vs fighting/bug if you have no other option)

Growlers/Charmers: Self-explanatory, but pretty good given the sheer amount of cursers in the game. One Growl/charm will generally negate/neutralize any physical attacker and give you leeway as far as switching goes.

Miltank (self-explanatory set. use bs in most case, return if you're really scared of drumlax)
Umbreon (again, easy enough. toxic/pursuit's the standard for a reason. st growl/charm if you really want to be gay)
Blissey (not the best growler, because growlers need speed and some physical bulk, but at least it doesn't give curselax free setup)
Meganium (here because i've used it personally on a BL team, and it sorta worked. it's not great, but it's an option)
Slowbro (this use to be the premier growler in gsc if there ever was one, celia loved the thing. but celia's not that good, so slowbro's better off doing other stuff)

P-hazers: Again, another self-explanatory, but almost mandatory role. You do not want missy or something getting free kills on you. P-hazer is generally plan A or plan B vs stat uppers.

Skarmory (the first standard phazer, good for all forms of non-FB/LK/thunder lax. good for hera, umbreon, scizor, quag, there's honestly too many to list)
Tyranitar (originally used as the complement to skarm for covering FB lax. pretty good as a curse roarer, or if you just need ttar to take on multiple roles)
Steelix (pretty amazing phazer if your opponent hasn't got anything to hit it from the special side; lives 999 non-stab EQ, resists twave/thunder/toxic so plenty of longevity)
Suicune (roar cune has a use again with vap being so popular; toxic shuffle was one of the dominant strats for the longest time because it was reliable. lives 999 stab return)
Raikou (premier special wall in gsc, probably the best spikes shuffler in the game because of it walling/threat combination)
Rhydon (still pretty fucking good, even with HP legends. hitting 150 STAB off 358 hurts, and curseroar is always tough to stop)
Kangaskhan (phazer mostly used offensively to protect it against other phazers, not really defensively)
Zapdos (use to be a pretty popular phaze, but has since dropped off. if you're in a pinch, this is an option)
Any other pokemon with roar
Any pokemon with Perish Song
Any pokemon with Encore

Physical walls: Probably a good idea. Eats explosions when you need to (does that make Gengar/Missy a physical wall???). Takes normal hits from lax. GSC is generally seen as a physically-offensive gen for a reason.

Skarmory (the premier physical wall in gsc, with just about everything covered here. probably the only thing that reliably walls hera. too many to list)
Suicune (328 defense and 403 HP with no physical weakness; the main kicker is that it threatens most mixed/physical sweepers to boot: ttar, nido, marowak, dragonite, machamp to an extent)
Tyranitar (not bad either, as long as the attack isn't fighting, ground, or bug. ttar is generally the swiss army knife of roles, almost snorlax-esque)
Steelix (498 def makes it shrug off even SE moves, not so much Rhydon's EQ and machamp's CC though. a curse will patch things right up though)
Forretress (not bad at all, better than most, but it lacks the ability to phaze, so it can't really do anything in return. it does reflect, and curse, if you want to go there)
Rhydon (similar to steelix but with far more offensive punch. and you're weak to ice. and will prolly ko'd by any water/grass attack)
Cloyster (400+ def is great, 300 HP not so much. lacking physical resists, only physical weaknesses, and can't phaze. but it does reflect)
Golem (usually seen as an inferior rhydon/steelix, but usable in the odd case you need physical presence + explosion)
Miltank (growl alone makes tank into a physical... tank. only weak to fighting moves, and if it's not machamp, one growl will neutralize it)
Umbreon (pretty similar to miltank, but you get -2 attack at the cost of no one turn recovery. also, speed is slower than dnite/hera, but still faster than the rest)
Slowbro (growl/reflect combined with 300+ def and almost 400 HP make it pretty good. but it is very slow. but you can always para)
Dragonite (if you played a defensive dnite, it's totally viable. reflect and haze makes for plenty of walling potential)
Zapdos (zapdos with reflect is an extremely formidable wall and immensely tough to take down)
Heracross (mostly on typing, since def stat isn't too impressive. resists fighting and eq and scares off rock/normal attackers for the most part)
Exeggutor (same as hera, but slightly less because of the lack of recovery. synthesis/moonlight is an option though, and there's still seed/drain)
Snorlax (seems almost counter-intuitive, but massive HP and a single curse patches up just about all non-Machamp CC physical attacks)

Special walls: Again, pretty damn important. Electrics are dominant in GSC, #2 and #3. Not having anything for them doesn’t make any sense at all. You’ll often find that a lone Snorlax often not enough to take the full brunt of Thunders off 348/328 spc atk, and you might want to invest into a secondary special absorber. It’s also possible to play around with finesse, using prediction to grounds to force the HP legends to HP more than Thunder on the switch, minimizing the damage Snorlax/something might have to take.

Blissey (#1 in terms of walling power, but that's all you're doing with it. passing a screen lets other, more threatening stuff wall and threaten at the same time though)
Raikou (the real #1 special wall imo, since it threatens most special attackers AND phazes. no spc weaks, only spc resists. monster threat in itself)
Snorlax (not bad, but won't take special hits forever, especially with spikes and/or toxic in play. growthers can take it down as well)
Jolteon (similar to raikou, but 333 hp, and [generally] lacks rest and roar makes it subpar)
Meganium (typing and stats make it damn good. fire attacks are rare, and ice attacks are usually non-stab, but synthesis has 8 pp)
Suicune (monster bulk makes up for sub-par special typing. takes SE hits up to the power of thunder dnite and giga drain egg, and threatens both in return)
BORAT (about 1% bulkier than suicune on the special side, so takes even SE hits well. and it usually STs. chalk another one up for BORAT)
Dragonite (
Zapdos (with light screen, becomes a real pest. no real special weaks since ice attacks are non-stab. shows off zap's versatility, and just a great set)
Muk (sort of, you survive two starmie psychics. and you're not weak to boltbeam. make something of it. muk's great)
Heracross (good spc def, not weak to boltbeam, threatens every non-zap special attacker to no end. don't want to be taking 180 base power hits from 300+ spc though)
Tyranitar (sort of, good spc def, good hp, not weak to boltbeam, but unless you have rest, don't do it too often. like hera, don't take 180 bp off 300+ spc)
Porygon2 (similar to the previous two, but less HP, but one turn recovery!!! with 32 pp! and like the previous two, don't take 180 off 300+)

Quagsire (a very unique case. it doesn't wall any of the special attackers, EXCEPT the two most common ones: zapdos and raikou. at least until they start running HP grass. this is worth mentioning, since not even Snorlax can switch into the electrics comfortably)

And of course, the misc support roles...

Sleeper: Not necessary, but it punishes teams that choose to forgo a status absorber and turns games into 5v6s instantly.

Snorlax (LK version wasn't as good as when I first used it in 2004, but still good. can sleep just about anything. LK drumlax is unstoppable)
Gengar (Hypnosis almost used defensively here, since it has few options vs umbreon/ttar. makes things awkward for most STers with its offensive threat)
Exeggutor (not bad, but once egg drops sleep, it seems to lose a lot of its power. skarms/forr come in all day if it doesn't fire, ttar if it doesn't giga)
Nidoking (pretty predictable sleep, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. hit zap a few times to make it think twice about taking LK)
Smeargle (really really predictable, but again, doesn't make it easier to deal with. good players will play aggressive vs smeargle. smeargle gets 2 shotted by everything)
Jynx (again, another staple. you threaten the most common STer in zapdos, so that's a bonus. sub lets you sleep when you want. jynx is fragile though)
Jumpluff (personally, I'm not a big fan of jumpluff, but it learns powder. so i'm listing it. and it does learn encore, which is an amazing move)
Blissey (i don't know why sing blissey isn't more common, but your opponent has control over what he wants you to sleep. you can use that to your adv as well. and sing can bail you out sometimes)

Para support: Again this is not mandatory, but probably one of the best support statuses in the game. I feel it's a great way to consistently make Marowak contribute (far more than joltwak anyway), since it's not a one-and-done thing. It also brings out the best in the likes of Drumquag, Drumfable, Drumzard, Drumlax, Growthvap, Cursechamp, Cursehera etc etc, those that just need a tiny push, where speed is the only thing stopping them.

Exeggutor (the best in the game, especially with leech seed forcing switches. combined with substitute and it's an absolute horror to play against)
Porygon2 (extremely underrated, definitely one of the best in the game at spreading any status around. twave + curse makes growltanks job pretty tough)
Zapdos (especially with twave, which probably puts it at #2 as far as para spread is concerned. a testament to zapdos' flexibility. thunder still counts too)
Dragonite (again, dragonite is plenty flexible when you need it to be. extremely good at paraing electrics, which helps out a lot of sweepers. oh, and thunder)
Snorlax (bslam snorlax spreads the love. curse + bslam has a small chance of lucking growltanks)
Starmie (might deter snorlax a bit, since a para'd lax is quite a bit less threatening. also deters electrics as well. damn good if you're not afraid of gengar spinblock)
Steelix (body slam is an old classic because steelix simply does not die. you can nail just about any flying pokemon, and growltanks too, which synergizes with other cursers)
Miltank (body slam is all it has, but all it needs. growl can forces switches to give you different looks, as long as they don't have missy/gengar)
Blissey (it doesn't always have to bell, y'know. twave to neutralize one of the many threats coming your way. makes tenta etc cry)
Raikou (thunder stuff)
Nidoking (thunder stuff again; please don't use body slam)
Marowak (Body Slam ST Marowak is underrated, more in the sleep talk section)
Slowbro (pretty versatile support pokemon if you couldn't tell)
Alakazam (works, but in the sense that it'll be an inferior starmie)

Toxic/poison: This is a great status vs teams without bellers, and still good vs bell teams. The fact that most offensive teams forgo the belling, and now even forgo resting, means this status puts them on a pretty short counter. Coupled with spikes, it has the potential to 5HKO without you throwing out a single attack. It's mostly the poison worth mentioning, since the Toxic "stacking" rarely matters (great vs last poke non-rest scenarios though!). Poison also stacks with spikes for 25% on the switch damage.

Umbreon (toxic charmbreon is the standard because it is. it does what it does.)
Suicune (toxic shuffle, the original version. if you can keep spikes, suicune can do a good job abusing it)
Skarmory (same as suicune, but slightly less so since it doens't threaten anything)
Blissey (used in conjunction with flamethrower for steels. pretty helpless vs poisons though)
Cloyster (pretty fucking good vs other cloysters, and give you a chance to keep spikes vs starmie with enough prediction)
Forretress (again, rapes cloyster and ensures you'll last longer than they do. that's probably it though, but that alone is worth it)
Porygon2 (um, it learn it. and pgon2 is surprisingly good at spreading status)
Snorlax (toxiclax, a classic set. with flamethrower for steels)
Tyranitar (put machamp on a counter if it doesn't rest, which most don't. give you a shot vs growltanks, and annoys the hell out of a couple other ttar switches)
Alakazam (honestly not that bad on him, but zam is not that good. so the two make for a very mediocore combination)
Muk (poison ttar/rhydon with sb, then your sweep is just about good to go)
Tentacruel (likewise, except not as much. your targets usually don't mind poison as much, but poison is poison)
Starmie (another status for starmie, and i've actually found toxic to be better than twave vs snorlaxes. and believe me, snorlax will switch into you)
Raichu (eh, bob/vil's encore toxic raichu is worth an honorary mention, and is the only "competitive" set raichu has)
Anything else you can think of with this universal TM

Pseudo passers: Since it's GSC, all that you're probably passing is Reflect/Light Screen. Safeguard is pretty bad. With that said, ppassing either of the screens is an almost forgotten strat that'll throw a lot of people off. An LS to Marowak means your opponent almost has to phaze it instead of hitting it with water/ice/grass attacks, and it makes the likes of Machamp really awkward to deal with. Giving reflect to Snorlax or Clefable lets them drum on just about anything they want to. And stuff like Tentacruel and Charizard are really difficult to play against when they've got screens up and you're looking down a potential sweep.

Zapdos (extremely overlooked, but a huge part of zapdos' alternative game. probably the best p-passer in the game)
Raikou (not as good as zapdos, mostly because roar is already in heavy competitive with ST as the main 4th move. reflect is not to be forgotten though)
Blissey (light screen can be used in conjunction with bell, and pretty good at setting fragile stuff up. but if you don't need bell, it easily becomes one of the best reflect passers)
Forretress (not bad, usually as a filler move. might save you an explosion vs drumlaxes overpredicting)
Cloyster (again, a filler move, and has similar usefulness as forretress')
Starmie (it's neutralizing snorlax switch-ins somewhat. also makes cloyster think twice about exploding. make's forretress's job a bit tougher as well)
Exeggutor (underrated ppasser, but only for the fact that it has so many other useful moves)
Porygon2 (again, this is an often overlooked, but very useful utility role player. it does more than just curse y'know!)
Dragonite (defensive dragonites are possible, and reflect/haze can legitimately shut down curselax, vap, among other things. oh, it screens too, for those pesky electrics)
Alakazam (pretty good way to ward off snorlax users. and if they curse, you can just encore it)
Jumpluff (see jumpluff description above)
Slowbro (growl and/or reflect makes for a pretty good defensive slowbro. good stats to boot, definitely worth a look. it was ou for a bit for a reason)
Ampharos (holder of both screens, something raikou can't attest to. pure electric, something zapdos can't attest to. too bad it's slow, but still viable as far as ppassing goes)

Sleep talker: Generic status absorber. But the idea here, is not to necessarily TAKE sleep if you don’t have to. You definitely want to be in control of your own sleep cycle, rather than banking on the randomness of Sleep Talk. Not being in control also makes you hyper-suseptible to off turn wake-ups, causing you to lose more turns than its worth. It’s extremely annoying when the sleeper is faster than you (Gengar/Nidoking?).

Zapdos (probably the universal set at this point. dp has no place except vs blissey, I'll take HP fire over DP vs hera)
Raikou (pretty common as well, but less so because roar raikou is more viable than any of zapdos' alternatives. same set as zap. crunch is nice in mirror matches)
Snorlax (iffy as a sleep talker, becuase you're losing a lot of offense on the best offensive pokemon in the game. but it becomes a monster tank)
Heracross (amazing sleep talker. s-toss for support, curse for the sweep vs non-dp teams. amazing typing and stats makes this guy last pretty damn long)
Suicune (probably a mixed sweeper's worst nightmare is a sleep talking cune. incredibly tough to take down, even with SE moves)
Machamp (cursechamp will catch a lot of teams that look to wear it down via spikes/toxic or something. similar to cursehera)
BORAT (i'm great. i made it. transitive property. it's great)
Marowak (a forgotten set, but EQ with either RS/BS gives marowak that much needed longevity, and what's really taking hits from 516 attack? not a good status absorber though)

Spiker/spinner: Self-explanatory again. Spin spikes for control. Switching is a huge part of GSC, more than any other generation. In longer matches, he who controls spikes, wins. It’s not super important in games < 40-50 turns, but still somewhat worth mentioning.

Starmie (probably the most reliable spinner of the three, at the tradeoff of not being able to set spikes. offers defensive coverage and support)
Cloyster (extremely suseptible to toxic. resting with it is definitely tough, and hard to keep spikes down vs starmie without outside support)
Forretress (the more defensive spiker, and keeps spikes vs starmie for the most part. loses it vs cloy, but you can toxic them. decent physical wall to boot)

Beller: Even more self-explanatory.

Miltank (the physical beller of the two. provide para support, and more importantly: growl. Fast too)
Blissey (the special side of the coin. it can technically growl, but that won't save you since you're slow and fragile. biggest upside are Light Screen and Sing)

That’s basically a generic plug-n-chug way of building good formulaic teams. It won’t be the best, or the most creative, but it might. I figured this was slightly better than spoonfeeding teams anyway.

General ranking list (subject to change):

1. Snorlax
2. Zapdos
3. Raikou
4. Exeggutor
5. Skarmory
6. Suicune
7. Gengar
8. Tyranitar
9. Cloyster
11. Steelix
12. Forretress
13. Miltank
14. Starmie
15. Machamp
16. Nidoking
17. Marowak
18. Blissey
19. Jolteon
20. Espeon
21. Heracross
22. Misdreavus
23. Umbreon
24. Charizard
25. Quagsire
26. Rhydon
27. Dragonite
28. Muk
29. Tentacruel

Msc list:


Rankings completely subjective, based on a “potential”. It’s a combination of a few factors, all subjectively rolled into one rating. It based largely on a pokemon’s impact on the meta, which was quantified by a hypothetical “what the meta would be like WITHOUT a certain pokemon”. This combined with offensive/defensive/support contributions and actual in-game performance, along with factors of consistency. Some examples: Egg's probably #2 in terms of sheer threat, but both Zapdos and Raikou offer better game-after-game performance, whose consistency probably surpasses that of even Snorlax's, therefore takes the spots above it. Skarm doesn't offer the best in-game performance, but pretty good at least in terms of defensive and support coverage, and is consistently walling 2-3 pokemon on the opposing team. But the biggest factor comes into play when we consider a meta without Skarm. There would be almost no reason to use FB on Snorlax, Heracross would run absolutely rampant, teams wouldn't have anything to fall back to for Quag/Marowak, last poke lax would be more threatening than ever, Explosion would be harder to stop, even if you predict correctly, etc etc. Skarm shapes the meta with its presence.

Having said that, initially, you WILL be having problems with your team. Some more blatant than others. And if you feel like the team has potential, which you clearly do, or you wouldn’t be building it, I recommend giving it a chance. You can’t put it on the backburner until you’ve spent at least a hundred or so matches working out the kinks, shaping it, modifying it, etc. For comparison’s sake, my team took me 7 years, and it’s still being modified. Remember though, team synergy is the most important aspect above all. It's what makes it tick, makes it flow, makes it unique, makes it fluid to play. Don't toss in 6-random pokemon, even though you may win many of your battles doing it, find a reason why they work together, or why they don't work together.


As far as leads go, I maintain that leads aren't that important. In fact, switching up the leads is definitely a good idea for a couple reasons. For one, it makes the opponents think you're using a different team. Moreover, having a static leads opens you up to counter leads, which are just retarded. So basically, as long as you don't lead with something retarded, you should be fine (aka not Skarmory, Steelix, Miltank, Vaporeon, or something equally stupid, but anything else should be fair game as a lead). Having an advantageous lead is having 1 free turn. It can just as easily be turned around with 1 correct prediction. Having the advantage is definitely a good thing, but NO LEAD will guarantee you the advantage. Every lead has its counters, and you'll run into its counters eventually and find yourself on the short end of that 1 turn adv. Furthermore, the idea of switching up leads offers pretty consistent adv with regards to at least keep your opponent guessing what your first move will be, and at times, guessing what your team is. If you stick with one lead, you stick with certain plays, and those certain plays become very predictable. Zapdos vs nido is instant adv to zapdos, but the first move is so obvious that by switching to Snorlax to take the 100% hidden power you've suddenly turned that 1 turn disadvantage into an advantage just like that.

In conclusion, having a lead advantage is obviously a plus, but because there's no way to guarantee it, it might be worth it to just... change what you're leading with. There are so many good leads in any given team that this shouldn't be hard anyway.

One of the bigger differences I found, that’s probably invisible to the average player, is the well-built team’s ability to just “play the game”. I know I’ve advocated otherwise, that all teams need a purpose (and a well-built team should have one), a goal to work for, blah blah blah, and I stand by it. But an even more advanced lesson, is really a basic one: play the game. Opportunities arise, even the best of players make mistakes. And those mistakes can come at any moment, you just have to know to identify them, and how to capitalize off them. This often comes in the form of pulling the trigger on explosions, or getting in that extra hit, spikes roar predictions, not everyone plays perfectly. The reason? The perfect play is often the most predictable play, and if perfect plays were made everytime, then it’d be predicted everytime, then it wouldn’t be the perfect play anymore. That’s some catch-22 for you.

So yeah, having a plan, having a purpose, this is all very important, but equally important, is just playing the game at hand. I thought it was pretty evident and common sense, but for those that follow my guides religiously, and everything I say, they seem to have dropped this very basic style of play and adapted to a TOO goal-oriented style, and it ends up backfiring. Just know that opportunities arise every game, you’re not playing yourself, you’re playing someone else. They don’t think the same way you do. If you would never think to make a certain “mistake” play, it doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t.

Teams and players revolve too much of their play around the goal have a pretty significant flaw: not being able to play the game the way it’s meant to be played. However, teams that don’t have a purpose altogether also have a pretty significant flaw: not having anything to turn to. This is especially evident against stalls, where you’re mindlessly switching or attacking. Problem is, both of these flaws go unnoticed on most teams. And it’s really compounded by the fact that for the most part, the opposing teams being faced share the same problems, so it is even less evident.


When facing a faster paced team, or any team that’s not a stall (stall in the sense that even an idiot can play it), then you can get away with teams not having a strategy. And if you’re facing a lot of these teams, then you really lose grasp of some of the basics of competitive play, which is accounting for both spectrums of offense and defense. You begin to create teams that cheat on offense. What this means is that you notice you have more than enough offense to be successful, but because all you’re facing is non-stalls anyway, maybe you never really had enough offense to begin with. And by detracting from that, and “cheating” the meta, you end up with a far less competent team should the meta change, or should you face someone skilled enough to adapt to any style he/she wishes to. The same applies to defensive teams. They too start to “cheat” on the defensive aspect because they see they have more than enough defense to wall the usual teams, and by taking away from that, what they end up with is really a team with Down syndrome – a team without an identity.

But that’s not to say there’s only offensive and defensive teams. There is a middle ground, yes. What was originally referred to as “fail” teams is really nothing more than another archetype, much like offensive and defensive. To say these “fail” teams are “inferior” is a false statement, albeit it is much easier to create bad “fail” teams than it is if you’re focused on “stall” or “offense”. That is what I had originally wanted to convey. If you think about it, no offensive team can ever be successful without taking into account defensive measures, and no true stall team can ever be successful without taking into account offensive measures. Aren’t all good teams “fail” teams then?

In any regard, just some food for thought. What I mean by playing the game is just the basics. I know you want to “set up vap for the sweep through bait exploding”, but that might not be the best option. The game should not be played in a strictly purpose-oriented matter. Those residual hits, the chip damage, they add up. They add up to the point where even Snorlax can take out Steelix or Skarmory, to where Zapdos can take out Raikou, etc. At any point in time, you have 5 legitimate sweepers (everyone except Cloyster), whose stock is constantly fluctuating with each turn. Maybe in the process of trying to set up vap and exploding Raikou, you find problems, maybe missing a crucial Hydro Pump or being hit with a CH. But now, you might’ve crippled Snorlax enough where a Zapdos sweep is now the best option. But wait, while going after the Zapdos sweep, opposing Miltank ends up getting lucky with dodging Thunders and winning speed ties and you’re now short on Thunders. But wait, that last para put Snorlax in a legitimate spot to do its own thing against Miltank. And so on.

The problem with having a single focused goal is the risk reward decision making factor. When you play with the mindset, “well I need to set up vaporeon”, then you lose sight of a wide variety of factors. You hype the importance of certain pokemon, and downplay the importance of others. So while you view their Zapdos as the “most important pokemon, and the only thing standing in your way”, your opponents might not see it the same way. So while you’re thinking, “no way is he letting me have Zapdos this easy”, maybe, just maybe, he kinda is. True story, personal experience.

The ideal way to play out a battle is assume all 6 of your pokemon are threats (although in practice, few teams exceed 3 true threats, 4 and 5 are amazing numbers to hit without sacrificing a ton of defense). However, the level at which they are threats obviously depends on what your opponent has and the status of their pokemon, and on a deeper level, the style of play they show. After every turn, the “stock price” of these six pokemon change, be it a status, or a damage dealt. And in your head, you should have update the “stock price” to see which of the six now have the best chance. And that’s the one you strive for. So in one turn, you might be trying to set up Vaporeon, but the next turn, all of a sudden setting up Zapdos makes more sense, so you go that route. The actual “stock price” is your own judgement, your own opinion on which pokemon has the best chance. Thus, it’s almost impossible for any player to see through your strategy, provided you know what you’re doing and you have the weapons required to pull it off.

This should all be done in your head simultaneously, and the accuracy of said updates is only a matter of experience, knowledge, and familiarity with your opponent. Not only that, you have to be familiar with your own team, the limitations of each of your pokemon, the different paths it can take to achieve a certain goal, and so on. Know the team inside out, you should be able to describe your team in the same detail that I have with mine. You should know what you’re doing at all times, it should never be guess work. No matchup should be new to you (granted, if you face Granbull or something odd, that doesn’t really count), you should know what to do in just about every situation you’re in.

If you were planning on a Vaporeon sweep, and instead of Zapdos, they end up sending their own Vaporeon. Then you should know that in a fresh Surf Vaporeon mirror match, it’s almost never a good idea to start surfing before you reach +3. +4 is preferrred, but +3 is also acceptable, depending on the status of the other pokemon on their team. This should be hardcoded into your head, you shouldn’t even have to think about it. Machamp vs reflect Starmie is simply a case of cursing 3 times before using HP Ghost. Know your team. So before you blame your team on every loss, see if you could’ve played the battle any differently for a different outcome, chances are, you could’ve. There are a few instances where a team simply cannot win, but those are too far and few in between when considering good teams (which are the only ones you should be building after reading this).

Moreover, definitely know when to switch speeds with your team. If it’s clear they’re wearing you down, and you’re really running short on options, then maybe it’s time to sit back and kind of play the game. Get residual damage here and there, and see if you can improve the odds to the point where it makes sense to go back to your strategy. Don’t push yourself to the brink of win-lose if you don’t have to and back off for a bit, but other times, it’s better to apply constant pressure.

No battle ever plays out the same, in part due to luck, in part due to the fact that we’re humans. We’re random. If something isn’t working, try something else. Learn double switches, triple switches, quadruple switches, to put yourself in a better position, rack up spikes damage, recover with leftovers, hit things on the switch (very fucking important) etc. Be more open, and don’t strive for one specific goal. Have several, and keep an open mind about all of them. Learn to identify which path is the best to take, take it. Once you’re on that path, recalculate the “distance” to the other paths in case this one leads to a dead end. This is assuming you’re playing with a team that can do more than just stall + drumlax, in which case, stay tuned for another guide.


Defensively though, you do have to keep track of what you need to keep alive to give yourself a chance. This team is somewhat suseptible to Curselax, especially the mono-DE kind like the one run once Steelix goes down. So it’s probably in your best interest to keep it alive to keep the battle going. However, don’t go into the approach with close-minded thinking either. Check to verify that you’re not taking some of your defensive walling capabilities for granted. And if it becomes clear your opponent is trying to go after a specific wall, perhaps either status, or just chipping it, then immediately catch on and try to understand why. If it’s something you can recuperate from and capitalize on, let your opponent keep doing it and make them feel like they’re accomplishing something, even though you’re fully aware of what’s going on.

One of the bigger mistakes I see people make is really trying to preserve TOO much. If you’ve sent Gengar in on a Snorlax to take the predicted normal attack, only to have it curse up. Fearing EQ, you turn to Zapdos for the check, only for Snorlax to curse again. Now at +2, switching in Suicune really isn’t an option, and depending on the circumstances, it’s time to cut your losses. If you start having to take down Snorlax, sacrificing half, maybe more, of your team to get your phaze, ,it’s simply not worth it. You can’t really win from that position either. You’ve really gone too far. So here, you just go with intuition and send Gengar, and bank the game on whether or not he has Earthquake. If it turns out he does, then really, there’s no difference, you would’ve lost anyway. If it turns out he has Fire Blast, then you still have the option of wasting Fire Blasts through prediction, or if you have Dbond, or w/e. And if he doesn’t have any secondary attack, then good for you. Good thing you didn’t just send 3-4 pokemon only to find that out.

HOWEVER, if you still have the option to sacrifice less, e.g. you can take down snorlax with enough resources to really guarantee you at least a chance at winnning, then do that. If it takes 2 explosions, but you still have something resembling a team left, go for that route instead. Banking the game on whether or not he has a move is really a last-ditch move, but a far better one than giving up your entire winning arsenal as I’ve seen so many people do. So hypothetically, if your opponent gets off Jolteon pass to Snorlax, then maybe it’s probably a good idea to cut your losses send your Gengar in for the explosion and not try and “outpredict it” or anything.

And don’t get into the habit of automatically absorbing explosions with your Skarm/Forr/Tyranitar/Steelix. In some cases, that’s exactly what your opponent wants. Think before every move. Exeggutor paralyzing Skarm, hitting it on the switch with Psychic, then another while taking DP, then exploding on it, bringing it to 20-ish% and paralyzed. Then sending Raikou/Zapdos to scare it off, turning straight to curselax for the curse, and guess what, you’ve just lost the game because Skarmory is no longer a legitimate curselax wall because you were too busy taking Explosion.

And again, to stress the importance, KNOW what you’re doing. You won’t find too much success “guessing” the right play. Foresight. Get some. Prediction is 1-3 turns ahead. Foresight is 10-30, even 50, 100 turns ahead. It's the long term goal. You've gotta have a plan in your head, or you're playing blindly, and chances are, it'll never end. Hence, stall. Hence, most everyone who's ever played GSC = mediocre. Hence, when you spec a battle, you'd know if something is going on, or if two players are just clueless. If you feel helpless, it's time to give it up in GSC. Save yourself the time. If there's hope, keep playing.

One key question to ask yourself repeatedly is: "SO WHAT?" Unless you have an appropriate response, maybe it's better to rethink your moves. Say you have cune active vs marowak, and you pretty much know for sure it's switching out, what do you do? Do you surf the switch, toxic it? In either scenarios, ask yourself: "SO WHAT?" So what if you Surf their snorlax/raikou? So what if you toxic their snorlax/raikou? If there's no legitimate answer, then maybe it's best to improve your position in another way. Maybe switch in Machamp, or your own Snorlax, or Nidoking. This is why most players, past and present, don't have a clue what they're doing. Cool, you can predict my switch and do something, but if that something is irrelevant, then you're really... not doing anything. Clueless plays like this leads to stall. If there's no purpose, then you won't win. You're only not losing.

And prediction counts for something no matter how much I downplay it. 1 layer of spikes is all GSC players need to capitalize on opponents (rapid spin is the sole reason Starmie has been OU for the past decade). Prediction has all but fallen off the map for some reason. If you're in a mismatch, switch. You don't leave it in to die, just so you could bring out something different, only to have your opponent switch. Stuff don't run around with 700 attack and 500 speed in this gen. You chip at stuff, you have to know when to give up, you know when you go for a 10% status, a 25% effect, a 30% status, a 50% move, a 70% move, etc. Know when to back off, and know when to keep pressing.


Perhaps the most important aspect of competitive battling as a whole, and this is ESPECIALLY prevalent in GSC matches, is switching. Learning to predict a switch, when a switch is about to occur, this is the most common and the most important prediction. I’d say on a good day, you can easily be 90-95% accurate with this prediction. However, this is not to be mistaken with a prediction to WHAT in particular, in which case the percentages drop way down, but merely, a switch will happen in the next turn. In this case, can your team capitalize off this? What pokemon has a good matchup against any of the possible switch ins? Fragile offensive pokemon are generally your go-to guys in these scenarios, or if you’re on the defensive side of things, you’re most beneficial roarer (assuming you’ve got spikes/poison/SOMETHING to punish them with). These occur many, MANY times throughout a battle. How often you identify and how potently you capitalize determine how dominant you are in a match, and really, makes for a much more entertaining battle. This is akin to playing one step ahead. In one example, you have steelix active vs your opponent’s raikou, you’re pretty much 90-95% sure a switch is going to occur, but you’re not certain WHAT it is they’re switching to. Looking through your options, maybe you have Nidoking, a fragile offensive pokemon that matches up well against just about anything is a good choice. A mixlax perhaps, dragonite maybe? Another example, you’ve got a decently HPed Gengar active vs Skarmory, and you know he doesn’t have a Ttar/Rhydon, then this could be the perfect opportunity at pulling off an explosion that WON’T end up hitting skarm.

Along the same lines of reliable prediction, there’s the concept of complement prediction. You can’t always predict what your opponent will do, but often times, you can predict what your opponent WON’T do. Using an example of Steelix vs Raikou, you’re not quite sure if he’ll switch, if he’ll Hidden Power, or if it’ll throw up a screen, however, you can be 90-95% sure it WON’T be using Thunder/thunderbolt/thunder wave, so see if you can capitalize off that. You can even send in Cloyster; worst case scenario, you take an HP/screen, whereas best case scenario, you get matchup advantage for the following turn + spikes. This doesn’t work as well later on into the game, once you and your opponent have gotten comfortable with each other, and the HP starts dwindling, but it’s something to keep in mind.

And with regards to sacrificing a Pokemon just so you can get in an extra hit as so much of the newer gen revolves around, you should only do it with a crystal clear plan in mind. The added attack is nice, but that's adv thinking unless you have formulated a clear plan to victory. That extra attack, unless it's GUARANTEED to mean something, isn't worth the death. A far more common scenario is the act of sacrificing something to keep hope alive. e.g. Charizard comes in on Steelix. If you stay in, you're dead if he FBs. If you switch out, you're dead if it drums (assuming Zard was in a position to sweep). Remember, sometimes it's better to cut your losses than to bet everything on a prediction, unless you're that sure about yourself.

You should have a couple go-to plays in your arsenal to get around common stuff. 3hkos are obviously important to prevent a pokemon from rest-loop walling you, but 38% is a tough mark to hit in GSC. So one of my favorite plays involves turning the 30% 4hko moves into that all important 3 hitter, or turn 38% moves into 2 hits, and so on. There’s a couple ways to go about it, but it all revolves around the same concept: you want an extra hit on the switch in. This allows Zapdos to KO Snorlax in a pinch, Raikou KOing Zapdos, Egg KOing Raikou, Snorlax KOing Suicune/Umbreon, Heracross to KO Skarmory, etc. If your opponent is in desperation mode, using Miltank to loop Raikou, then instead of playing for a CH, or for a para, you can simply Roar it out. That way, if it wanted to switch in to re-wall, it would have to take 2 thunder/thunderbolts to do it. In the case of Heracross/Zapdos vs Skarm/Snorlax, things are a bit trickier. You have to force enough damage such that they rest, and you have to predict the turn they Rest and switch to something that’ll scare it off on the same turn. That way, if they wanted to switch in, they’d have to take 30% without using up one of their Rest turns, effectively giving you 4 hits while they Rest. Now some teams aren’t even equipped with the right tools to threaten Snorlax, so yeah. This is far harder to pull off if your 4hko pokemon is SLOWER than the thing you’re trying to KO though.

The more of these plays you learn, the better. The more you can turn to, the better. And each pokemon has their own unique tricks against a wide variety of matchups, you just have to take the time to find and learn it. Moreover, take into the fact that you have 6 pokemon, and each combination of pokemon has their own unique synergistic traits, so as far as learning the team goes, it’s one of the most important aspects of competitive play. You can never expect to take someone else’s team and get the same results as them (assuming you two are are similar skill) because they’re far more familiar with the team and the “bag of tricks” than you are.

And if you’re serious about playing competitive GSC, one thing you want to master is the art of playing WITHOUT Snorlax.

And without further ado, here’s an in-depth team building guide by example. Every bit of information you could possibly want, my thinking, my analysis, it’s all here. In immense detail.

Team Begets Team

This is the original, largely responsible for the “offensive side of the metagame” seen today. It’s technically never been lower than #1 on PO, bar that month and a half of rating decay, where it dropped to like #2 or something. I don’t play with it too much, to avoid people developing natural counters to it, but I could probably fill up top 10, 20, 30, etc with it if I wanted to.

Before you scroll down and just copy-paste, just saying it might be worth it to learn the intricacies of the team. The guide itself is located towards the bottom of the post, but the “team history” is worth looking into when considering team building process, along with metagame adaption. Furthermore, I provide in-depth detail on how to play the team, and what to do in certain matchups, worth looking at if you do plan to use the team.

Please take note of the team building process, the decisions made, the factors I considered, when making your own teams. Notice what I’ve done to adapt it and update it with the changing meta, and pretty frequently, even dictating the meta myself. This is largely a team building guide by example, and something to take into consideration on any serious level of competitive play, in any generation. While most of the sets seem “standard”, do keep in mind the age of the team and how much it pre-dates today’s “standards”. Standard sets are not necessarily the most effective, and if no one ever deviates from it, then you would’ve never had more than one set per pokemon. In addition to introducing Growthvap to GSC, this was the first team to make use of "bait explosion", the most dominant and prevalent offensive tactic in GSC today. It was a strategic approach to GSC, to the meta, that enabled the consistency to which it performed. Attack attack attack, low HP, boom was a brainless and embarrassing way to play offense. This team was also one of the first teams pioneering the "Thunder revolution", which is probably even more common than Thunderbolt nowadays, and also one of the first to use Exploding curselix outside of an explosion team setting, since hitting air [with either Body Slam or Rock Slide] was always preferred ("what’s the point of switching into DP Zapdos if you can’t even hit it?" was the thinking). That and it abused LK Snorlax before LK Snorlax ever became a threat. So while the metagame may seem stale and unevolving at any moment, that hasn’t really affected me from pushing it and pushing it to newer limits, I don’t see why anyone else couldn’t do the same, just put in thought and not be discouraged by a couple early negative results. Clamp Cloy, Hydro Pump Vap? These were early 2011 additions. It's still evolving. And I there are more. Just need the right people.

2004 original


This was a team I used dating back to early 2004 when I first devised growthvap, with a few updates. "Big" updates came in early 2007, then in early 2010. By following this pattern, the next update will come out sometime in 2013. This ended up being my most successful team without me even realizing it, despite my always putting it off for its first 6 years of inception as a second string team. Net me 100+ win streaks on old NB servers with the 2004 version, and with the update, was one of my most consistent offenses at taking down stalls. I preferred a more "stable" team, so I usually turned to the Raikou/Miltank/Skarm/Starmie stall, but it turns out, this was the most stable of all. While I don’t exactly have the authority (or do I?) to necessarily use the superlative “best team in GSC”, it’s definitely the most effective and flexible team in existence. Turned out to be the “best” team I’ve ever made, which should account for something. In fact, it’s overly effective and influential, to the point where I even have problems deviating too much from it when trying to create something new.

Team-building process:

Take this “process” with a grain of salt. I only have the final product, and a vague recollection of how it came to be. It’s mostly accurate though.


Pretty straight forward, this was my favorite creation [and I LOVED creating “odd” sets at the time] and I was pretty damn eager to try it out on the competitive front. Keep in mind Vaporeon was a UU pokemon whose widely accepted standard set was Surf, Ice Beam, Haze, Rest. I was sure I wanted it to be a sweeper, and really the only moves I had to make a decision based on was Acid Armor vs Sleep Talk. Originally, I actually was leaning towards AA (and it found immense success early on as people were just stuck on what to do as my Vap outpaced their Curselax), because it beat curselaxes straight up, and curselaxes were pretty fucking popular. But after a few test runs, I found I needed a Sleep Talker status absorber thing. It wasn't until later on that I even notice Ice Beam, Roar, and Baton Pass were all legitimate options. To me, it was AA/ST or bust. But I was still miles ahead of anyone else at the time so whatever.

Vaporeon Snorlax

Again, straight forward. Ever since 2002, I've held the firm belief that no competitive OU GSC team should be without Snorlax. And since I'm really only interested in the highest level of play, Snorlax was a no brainer. Standard set at the time was BS/DE/Return, EQ/FB, Curse, Rest. After finding Vap in lieu of NYPC moves, I found out Snorlax learned LK (and Heracross learned S-toss, but that's another story), and wanted to make use of it right away. Last Poke-lax already had few counters, the best of which was probably just another Snorlax. Keep in mind, Growltanks didn't exist yet, and Sand Attack Skarms were pretty damn popular. LK gave me the natural advantage in this department.

Vaporeon Snorlax Umbreon

So to solve the problem of a mono-attacking lax, I turned to the only [OU] pursuiter I knew (never liked Houndoom anyway). Plus, it countered other Snorlaxes anyway. Set I ran at the time was Pursuit, Charm, Moonlight, Toxic. It was semi-creative for its time.

Vaporeon Snorlax Umbreon Exeggutor

I already understood the concept of bait explosion at the time, and I figured I'd turn one of Exeggutor's biggest disadvantages into an advantage. Being weak to both of the legendary Electric-type's secondary attacks, in addition to Electrics being primarily used as Sleep Talkers at the time, Exeggutor was deemed a second-tier OU because it was "always" countered. However, I flipped that on its head and took advantage of that. Taking out electrics would be a big boost for me, so I was fully willing to being "dominated" by electrics, since they were playing right into my hands.

Vaporeon Snorlax Umbreon Exeggutor Gengar

One of the two biggest threats to consider at the time were Druidcruel (Tenta) and Drumzard. They were considered universal threats, and some of the top sweepers and most used sweepers in OU GSC. Because everything on my team was slower than Charizard, I was naturally suseptible to a sweep at any time, with no way of recuperating. Gengar at least gave me second wind versus Charizard, and is a pretty good "semi-hard" counter to Tentacruel (will explain below) which otherwise got in free on Vap and just went to work on me.

Vaporeon Snorlax Umbreon Exeggutor Gengar Skarmory

Skarmory was the final, no-brainer pick. I needed a p-hazer, I needed a normal resist, I needed a Flying type, I needed something to stop initial Joltwak, and it didn't hurt that it was arguably the most popular Pokemon at the time to catch my attention. I ran Thief variant, in hopes of stealing Leftovers from an electric, to further support Vaporeon.

Vaporeon Snorlax Tyranitar Exeggutor Gengar Forretress

I ran into immediate problems. Umbreon + Skarmory paved way for a lot of offensive teams to run havoc against me, and Umbreon was doing a really poor job pursuiting Misdreavus, since Misdreavus survives Pursuits just fine. Furthermore, Skarmory stopped the one Pokemon I didn't have too much problem with anyway. Thus, I figured I'd nail two birds with one stone and replaced Umbreon and Skarmory with a Pursuit + Roar T-tar, which was unheard of at the time. This freed up a slot, and seeing Gengar, I figure I'd try to fit in a spiker. Forretress was far more popular than Cloyster at the time, so that was my natural choice. Plus, it offered plenty of support in the form of Spin + Explode + Reflect on the same set, something Cloyster couldn't do. Plus, I figured, I had a water type anyway. Forretress also helped a bit with covering the newly found EQ curselax weak (keep in mind this was 2004, people saw it do 8% or whatever behind Reflect, and just switched out).

Forretress (M) @ Leftovers
- Explosion
- Rapid Spin
- Reflect
- Spikes

Gengar (M) @ Leftovers
- Explosion
- Ice Punch
- Mean Look
- Thunderbolt

Snorlax (M) @ Leftovers
- Curse
- Double-Edge
- Lovely Kiss
- Rest

Tyranitar (M) @ Leftovers
- Curse
- Pursuit
- Roar
- Rock Slide

Vaporeon (F) @ Leftovers
- Growth
- Rest
- Sleep Talk
- Surf

Exeggutor (M) @ Leftovers
- Explosion
- Hidden Power [Fire]
- Psychic
- Stun Spore

This was the era where skarmbliss peaked in popularity, and players that have faced me (or my vap) recently damn well know Blissey does not stop Vaporeon at all. Basically, this team revolved around two sets that didn't exist at the time: LK Lax and Growth vap. Maybe it was the fact that NYPC moves was still constantly the topic of debate in organized play, but regardless, these were non-existent sets. LK lax were used by a few, but as far as I could tell, no one even gave vap a second look at the time. Idea was pretty simple, bait-explode electrics with Gengar/Egg to set up Vap. If that wasn't an option, pursuit ghosts to set up Snorlax. It was simpler times.

This net me quite a few 100+ winstreaks on NB's old Battledome, and it was wreckless to Tafop/Blue Heaven players as well. Vap won probably over 50% of games flat-out, and it was ridiculous how people consistently fell for the same strategy over and over and over again.

Forretress, ironically, was on there because it complimented Gengar's ability to wall Rapid Spin, and not vice-versa. Gengar was a far better spin block back then, since there were far more non-Psychic Starmies back then (Reflect was pretty damn popular because Forretress was more popular, as well as Thunderwave). Mean Look + Explosion Gengar was awesome for catching Raikous, and occassionally let me trap Blisseys an stuff for a guaranteed Explosion. However, Gengar's biggest role, and the main reason for Mean Look, was the ability to catch Tentacruels (which were OU-OU) that got in free on my Vap. They'll usually hit you behind sub, and that's where ML comes in. Gengar survives 2 Hydro Pumps handily, allowing it to Mean Look, Tbolt the sub, then Explode for the kill.

HP Fire on Exeggutor was largely there to scare Skarmorys, which were MORE popular than they are today, if you can believe it. It was arguably MORE popular than Snorlax (probably because people didn't know better at the time though). However, Umbreon was also more popular as well, so Egg's role is largely just Explosions. Tyranitars at the time rarely ran Pursuit, so not hitting those wasn't a big deal. Curse/RS/Roar/Rest was the common set, followed by EQ/Crunch over Rest. Screech was a popular option as well. Occasionally there would be a four attack mixed sweeper or something, but Pursuit was largely forgotten.

Vaporeon anchors this team hardcore, offensively and defensively. Jynx was on the upper end of BLs, Charizard was still frequenting OU, Vap played a pretty big role just holding down the fort. My work was really made easy because people really underestimated Vap, sending in generic walls thinking my vap was a non-factor offensively, only to have me set up on their Starmie/Blissey.

2007 update


I stopped playing GSC sometime around early 2005, and came back to play for nostalgia’s sake sometime late 2006. The meta has changed quite a bit (mostly died off).

I decided to give the old team a whirl at the urge of Flameout/DWash (if anyone remembers him). To set the scene, the meta now was a bit different. ViL had created a pretty damn good stall-archetype in the form of Snorlax, Miltank, Raikou, Skarmory, and Starmie. Me and Flameout began using Thunder in a competitive setting, first on Dragonite (probably Flameout's signature Pokemon), then on Nidoking, then on the electrics themselves. The extra power was a pretty big plus when hitting Snorlax, and PP wasn't too much of an issue. It grew on me personally, and I started considering it on legitimate teams. HP legends were "officially" banned, which was a pretty annoying hit, but not too bad. Drumlax became a bit more used, Tentacruel a bit less, Charizard a bit less, and I was ready to give my old friend some much needed touchups.

Team-updating process

Again with a grain of salt, but more accurate this time. Because I have a couple of the “inferior” versions saved, which I remember to be “stopping points” en route to the final 2007 team; akin, the team-updating process.

Vaporeon Snorlax Tyranitar Exeggutor Gengar Forretress

The original. I updated Forretress's set a bit and gave it HP Bug over Rapid Spin. People became a bit smarter, and I couldn't just spin all willy nilly without anything to threaten... anything. At this point, I've already indentified Gengar's main role as exploding on Raikou, so Mean Look stayed for that reason. I've had glimpses of changing up Egg's set to a powder one, giving Snorlax more freedom in terms of attack, since LK was no longer exclusive and was instead pretty popular. This made it less appealing for me, but ultimately, LK Snorlax was too good to really pass up. I knew my stall hated it, so playing the other side of the coin, I'd use it.

Vaporeon Snorlax Tyranitar Exeggutor Raikou Forretress

Raikou was a more natural fit at the time. It was really a coin-flip decision whether I kept Gengar or Egg as my primary bait-exploder. But because Raikou was my preferred electric at the time, keeping Egg over Gengar was a no brainer. It was a choice between a ground weakness or a ground resistance AFTER adding a pure electric. Raikou was a p-hazer initially, to take advantage of spikes, but I quickly made it a sleep talker once I realized just how much special hits it ends up having to take. Electrics were more prevalent than ever. Keep in mind the HP legend ban.

Vaporeon Snorlax Tyranitar Exeggutor Zapdos Forretress

As aforementioned, HP legend ban meant Rhydon and Steelix was coming in on Raikou all day, scaring it to death with nothing to do about it. Not to mention, other grounds (most notably Nidoking and Marowak) came in and wreaked havoc. This made the Zapdos substitute in the electric spot a pretty straight forward switch, and while it didn't really help with Rhydon, it certainly helped damage control versus Steelix + spikes, not to mention Nidoking/Marowak "forcing" me to switch.

Vaporeon Snorlax Tyranitar Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

The addition of Cloyster was to aid the ground pounding I was receiving. I found out really how ridiculously useful Zapdos was, and how often it seems to stay in play, so the occasional ground was really troublesome, even with Egg and Vap. Forretress was usually just set up bait for grounds anyway, while Cloyster gave me something to scare them with, and an additional "electric bait exploder". I lost the spikes spin war vs starmie, but Toxic made it up somewhat with a bit of prediction.

Zapdos @ Leftovers
- Drill Peck
- Rest
- Sleep Talk
- Thunder

Cloyster (M) @ Leftovers
- Explosion
- Spikes
- Surf
- Toxic

Snorlax (M) @ Leftovers
- Belly Drum
- Double-Edge
- Lovely Kiss
- Rest

Tyranitar (M) @ Leftovers
- Crunch
- Pursuit
- Roar
- Rock Slide

Vaporeon (F) @ Leftovers
- Growth
- Rest
- Sleep Talk
- Surf

Exeggutor (M) @ Leftovers
- Explosion
- Leech Seed
- Psychic
- Stun Spore

These changes were largely inspired by stalls at the time. One of the main things I tried doing was taking the basics of stall, and picking the most offensive variants of their respective roles. Suicune -> Vaporeon as the generic bulky water, Raikou -> Raikou/Zapdos as the electric mainstay, Skarmory -> Tyranitar as the phazer and normal resist, Starmie -> Cloyster as the spiker/spinner/sacrifice slot, Miltank -> Exeggutor as a defensive stop gap, and Snorlax -> Snorlax obviously. It's funny how that worked out. This is a big part of why this team is so ridiculously flexible.

I was a big advocator of drumlax in 2007-2009, since stalls were more prevalent than ever. Drumlax was the one true unstoppable forces in GSC, no matter what you did to it. It was also my firm belief that LK Drumlax was so stupidly broken it'd be offensive for me to use on my "main" team (the stall posted in part 2ish of my guide), so I relegate it to this "second-tier" team. Again, it never really caught on that this second-string scrub team was a lot more fun, a lot more effective, and a lot less bland that the Raikou/S/S/S/Miltank genre.

Regardless, the switch to Zapdos was extremely nice. I lost some of the offensive punch that I had with Gengar, but I made up for it with a more stable, long lasting team. Dropping the EQ weak was also nice. And it was surprising [not really] that vaps found its way into the BL tier, so Zapdos was definitely welcome. Oh, and the whole egg thing as mentioned before.

Tyranitar received a minor change, mostly in response to the rise in popularity of Exeggutors. Eggs were now prepped with Giga Drain pretty often, since Grounds were at its peak without HP legends. Crunch became necessary for me to get some damage in. Moreover, the invention of Growltanks led to a previously non-existing problem of being hardwalled instead of free setup. Crunch + Pursuit led to some nice damage on Miltank. Even more importantly, I realized Pursuit + double damage Pursuit didn't cut it as far as killing Misdreavus/Gengar goes, and Misdreavus/Gengar alive, even with 1 HP, is no good for my main form of offense: LK Drumlax.

Egg was relegated to a more support role than ever, with double status. This was when I realized I didn't so much as had to explode on the electrics persay, but I could merely paralyze them, which gave Vap a pretty good chance at beat them on its own. Furthermore, Snorlax switching into Egg really forced my hand before, when I either had to Explode on the spot, or risk being down +1/+2 to curselax. Leech Seed gave me something to do against them. It didn't hurt that seed + Psychics did work against a paralyzed Skarm. Again, this defensive thinking was influenced by Miltank's role.

I notice though, that vap became more and more of a solo player, and that its role on the team was really questionable. Bulky water is nice, but obviously, Suicune wasn't part of the core 5 on the stall, so Vap wasn't really core 5 status either. This led me to more open minded thinking in the next revision, but for now, I was pretty satisfied.

2010 update


This one's gonna be pretty long. The biggest change to the meta by far is the unbanning of HP legends.

Team-updating process:

This is pretty spot on as far as the different things I’ve tried to make work. Well-documented and noted.

Vaporeon Snorlax Tyranitar Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Started off with the original, but I immediately changed Zapdos to an HP legend for obvious reasons. Hitting Blissey was never a priority versus hitting something far more dangerous, like Rhydon or Marowak. Furthermore, this led to a few problems on the defensive side, since with HP legends unleashed, there were more Zapdos/Raikou than ever, and Snorlax was taking huge amounts of damage every game.

Vaporeon Snorlax Skarmory Exeggutor Raikou Cloyster

I briefly went back to Raikou for the HP legend absorb, to take some weight off Snorlax. Plus, I was eager to drop Tyranitar now that I no longer had anything for Heracross, and getting rid of the added Ground weakness was a priority, enter my old friend Skarmory. I really wanted to make the Egg to Gengar switch as well, for “perfect” curselax coverage, but Egg was really too useful to give up.

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Realized Steelix and Exeggutor had "perfect" HP legend coverage (minus HP Fire electrics, which are just retarded), which allowed me to go back to Zapdos. Raikou was really problematic, adding another Ground weak. The biggest difference between Zapdos and Raikou though, was probably Nidoking. Fresh Zapdos actually has the upper hand against Nidoking. Marowak was another problematic Pokemon. I switched Snorlax back to curselax, since teams were far too offensive for me to make use of Drumlax consistently. You'll see I reached the "final 6" long before I actually reach... the final 6.

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Starmie

Since I was more or less slowing things down, I realized my lack of recovery on 3 pokemon really made me susceptible to spikes, and what more rewarding than the best spinner in the game.

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Machamp

As quickly as I tacked on Starmie, I dropped it 2-3 games later. The drop in offense was incredible, and my team was in no position to give Snorlax a free switch the way Starmie did. So I went on the opposite side of the spectrum, Machamp. This is mostly in part of the "newly discovered" Curse + triple attack Machamp. I fell in love with it instantly.

Those of you that are sharp should notice this is the six I posted on Smogon. Those of you that are extremely sharp should notice that in that thread, I clearly mentioned Machamp was NOT the best option in this slot, but merely one of the ones I liked more, because of how potent the offense was with Machamp. And honestly, in a more spikes free but spin full environment, such as the one I was playing at the time, Machamp does really shine. I had to worry more about Starmies than spikes, and Machamp did just fine against Starmie, if you knew how. Reflect ones were straight forward, Psychic ones required a bit of prediction, but all in all, definitely possible.

But Machamp never really felt "right". While it threatened anything and everything, anything and everything threatened it. Statuses, a DE/Slam from Snorlax, and most importantly, spikes. Not to mention, anyone who's ever used Machamp will testify that 8 PP from CC is an issue. Nevertheless, CH CC broke games wide open. And Machamp synergized with the team immensely.

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Heracross

Heracross, with Curse, HP Rock, Megahorn, EQ made a short appearance here. It was, for the most part, a secondary Machamp. The main reason for the attempt was that I noticed a lack of Skarms for a while, and the influx of HP Zapdos, who definitely was not enough to stop Heracross. I also tried a sleep talk set with s-toss, because longevity was a problem, but having two Pokemon that couldn't hit Gengar was not smart. Especially now that I no longer have pursuit.

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Nidoking

Nidoking was the everyman's answer, and it did work. Another EQ weak ground, another sleeper (which was great btw). One of the biggest upsides was that between Egg and Nido, it was pretty easy to take down Zap and get in a better sleep. Downsides were definitely longevity, pretty much not being able to switch into anything, slightly less so than Machamp, but that's not saying anything. Boltbeam coverage was ehh, and the usual Suicune/Miltank problems. But I noticed the increase in speed made the team that much more potent, even if it was "only" 268. Dishing a hit before receiving a hit is underrated in GSC sometimes.

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Espeon

Following the speed theme, I one-upped myself. Espeon was a pokemon I favored, and something I've always wanted to use competitively. I saw it as the reincarnation of Vaporeon, Vaporeon 2.0 if you will. This was going to be the next big thing to hit GSC. And for about 2-3 weeks, it absolutely wrecked. I almost settled. Passing +1 to Zapdos meant instant win against non-Raikou teams, not to mention Espeon was pretty damn good at covering the Gengar weakness I've recently developed. Around this time, I settled on a ST Snorlax set as well, so I didn't mind the slight drop in defensive coverage.

Eventually though, Espeon's fragility caught on. Spikes and 333 HP didn't make for a long lasting Pokemon, especially coupled with 218 def. Not to mention, dodging statuses was a bitch, even Toxic took its toll. But what destroyed it was the influx of Roar Tyranitars, which were a hard counter to Espeon. Sometimes I think the entire meta is against me (or copying me).

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Gengar

Again, speed theme. I liked the boost in offense Espeon gave me, so I went with another fast offensive option, one that I had forgotten long ago. Gengar felt "right" for a while. Extra coverage against FB curselax, which were more popular than ever was great. Explosion was very welcome, and running the Mean Look set, allowed me to trade with p-trappers plenty of times. The extra bait-explosion was welcome as well. It REALLY shined in Miltank matchups, able to wreak havoc, and was pretty reliable in getting me a freeze. Furthermore, it gives me a fall back vs mono attacking Snorlaxes, allowing explosions freely from either Gengar or Steelix. Again, the problem here was longevity. Taking a hit, even a surf from cloyster, was hard to recover from. Thunder from Zapdos? No chance. The offensive bump was so good though that I wanted to overlook all of its downsides. But again, the T-tar heavy meta made this a no-go. It's a timing thing.

Machamp Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

At this point, I figured, I'd just stick to Cloyster. Cloyster had one of the best Explosions in the game in terms of "targets". All of the regular explosion walls don't really have the option of going into Cloyster. Furthermore, I found spikes to be a bigger and bigger part of the game than I had originally thought a year ago. So instead, I began to fiddle with the Vap spot, which I remembered being somewhat lackluster. Machamp was the natural choice, since I had plenty of success with it before. The boost in offense was pretty noticeable, but because I forgot how much Vap did defensively, I noticed a pretty significant drop in that department as well. Regardless, Cloyster + Machamp offered a previously not possible synergy: exploding Starmie to pave way for Machamp. But Machamp's dominance was declining at this point. Nidokings were more popular, and people began to learn how to play around 3 attack Machamp.

Porygon2 Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Porygon2 was definitely something I had a lot of hope for. It's been the most mediocre OU since the dawn of GSC, capable of so much, and falling up short everywhere. I've always liked it, and I've wanted to make it work on so many teams. Two sets, standard cursegon2, and twave/ice beam. First one failed, as expected, the usual problems. Miltank, Skarm, Ttar, Gengar, etc etc. The second one worked, to a degree, surprisingly well. The growing number of non-bell teams, even bell teams, were limited to what they could sent into a twave. A permanently disabled Ttar wouldn't do any good defending against curselax or egg. Starmies? Nah. Raikous/Zapdos? Nope. However, one of the problems I ran into, one that I didn't really expect to, was again, longevity. Taking a status really cripples it, and spikes wears it down. And it really falls short against stall teams, taking down Cune is a real bugger, and even Skarms are tough. Granted, I still feel like it has some potential left.

Tyranitar Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Another defensive switch, I thought I'd bring back my old pal, now with more flexibility since I knew I didn't have to run neither Roar nor Pursuit in this case, so I was free to do whatever the heck I wanted with it. Curse was my first test, but having 3 cursers in theory, overlapping offense was good, but in practice, it wasn't. Tough to explain, but too much of it rode on Steelix being able to nail Miltank. Then come the problem of what if they had Miltank + Starmie/Vap/Suicune? Then Tyranitar is still fucked. And Snorlax isn't doing so hot against Skarm/Steelix/Ttar/Gengar/Missy, and exploding Miltank is such a small part of that. After that, I decided to give a more offensive mix-tar a go, but it just seemed inferior to something else.

Nidoking Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Inferior to Nidoking. This allowed me to throw Spore back on Egg, which I was missing. But turned out, I liked Seed more anyway. But that's beside the point. Nidoking was instant offense that I was really missing out for a while, since the team was becoming more and more about setup, lacking the punch it needed. However, longevity was still a problem, with HP legends in place, Nidoking needed special care switching it in, and any damage or status it took was nonrecoverable.

Espeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Figuring offense was the way to go, I thought I'd give my other favorite Eon a shot. I don't know if I was just lying to myself, but I swear I almost settled again. Passing to Zapos is just so God damn good. But Exeggutor was a top 5 pokemon at this point, and it being a near hard counter, in addition to all the status avoiding I was doing, was not the best option for the team.

Gengar Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

This was the natural experiment following Espeon, as I've come to learn. Again, I settled for quite a while here. I wanted to overlook the fragility of Gengar, all that it has to offer in terms of spin blocking, ANOTHER exploder, a backup to mono-laxes allowing me to freely explode Steelix, a sleeper freeing up Egg for the lovable role of Seeding. There were just so many upsides to using Gengar, but once again, the timing was off. Tyranitar absolutely wrecked the team upside the head. Not to mention, for some reason people stopped the mono-attacking lax fad, so Gengar's usability was a bit crippled. That and the fact that for a month, I swear everyone was running the same kind of teams as me. I saw maybe 2-3 Miltanks in that span, the matchup where Gengar really shine.

Raikou Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

The double electric experiment. It was almost unfair versus offensive teams how good two electrics were. Get one explode on, no problemo, a second one comes right back to fill the gap. The coverage was insane on the special side, and something really awesome to enjoy. But come more defensive teams, two electrics overlapped a bit much, and was quite annoying with regards to killing that all important special wall. In retrospect, I might give this another shot though.

Charizard Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

This was an odd choice to make, but I made it. Looking over some of the older threats, I notice Charizard absolutely wrecks my team... why not use it myself!? It ended up require too much work than it was worth. Part of the beauty of the final 6 was that you could just play the game, and not worry about too much. You had many paths to go, an all the Pokemon could contribute in almost every game. Charizard was a ballhog, so to speak, and it really didn't fit. Not to mention, no screens on the team, no status except for sleep and Thunder. I did have Cloyster to kill Starmies, and Egg to kill Raikous, so there was some synergy, but not enough to make it work consistently enough to my standards.

Muk Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Muk was a better alternative to Charizard (surprisingly), but I think it has to do with the surprise factor more than anything. Not a big fan of that. It sacrifices vs Gengar pretty often, and does a good job of it. Sometimes. Muk gets random matchups, so it's hard to quantify.

Misdreavus Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

Having exhausted all of the offensive options (I used Marowak in there somewhere, don't rememeber where, but it had all the problems Machamp had, but magnified 10 fold), I turned back to defensive routes. Misdreavus gave me a legitimate spin-blocker (whereas Gengar failed vs Psychic Starmies), not to mention, semi-relible unstoppable offense if I really needed it. I could always force phazers to rest via attacks, then send in Missy for the kill. However, one of the first teams I wanted to test against wasn't offensive teams, where I knew I'd be decent in, but rather, hardcore stalls. I wanted to test this whole "force phazers to rest" thing, and it turns out, it's another on-paper thing tbh and not mega-reliable. And while I can keep my spikes pretty well, they also keep theirs. And my team doesn't recover as much.

Miltank Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

This was a quick fix to the influx of EQ/FB curselaxes. It gave me more status to work with, and allowed me to be a bit more reckless with Egg and Tyranitar. That was all fine and dandy, but this was never a true stall team at heart. Gave an opening to Gengar, and I don't need that at all.

Suicune Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

The home stretch now. Mixed sweepers were becoming problems, ST Snorlax was good, but between Thunders from Raikou and Rock Slides from Tyranitar, EQs from Nidoking, all the while not being able to hit Gengar was tough to live down. Cloyster/Egg can only switch into grounds so often before it has to make a life or death decision, not to mention both don't exactly take boltbeams. Suicune solved that problem in a jiffy. Now I had a pretty good shot against any half-assed offensive team, even more so than before, but the problem came again, with stalls. Suicune offered nothing when I needed it most. All it had was a 10% freeze, something I couldn't even bank on because I'd usually freeze something inconsequential, or they'd just bell right up. Suicune was just incapable of facing off versus stalls. Naturally, I tried going for a more offensive Snorlax to make up for it, but that wasn't an option given my lack of coverage on the special side, comparably to stalls that run drumlax anyway. So finally...

Vaporeon Snorlax Steelix Exeggutor Zapdos Cloyster

We're back to square one. Technically square three if anyone's counting, but that's irrelevent. For some reason, Vap felt more right than ever. The defensive coverage I was missing was back, the offense seemed more potent than I had last remembered, and more teams were weak to it than I could count. Vap has the exact same special side defense as Suicune, being able to live through most non-STAB SE hits (and even STAB SE hits, such as Giga Drain from Egg). Furthermore, it was plenty to get through even LS Blisseys with a bit a strategy at basically 100% success rate (statistically anyway). And thus, we have arrived.

Final result

Zapdos @ Leftovers ** Lively
- Hidden Power [Ice]
- Rest
- Sleep Talk
- Thunder

This is probably the most important member of the team, despite playing a pseudo "support" role. It's probably the best instant offense in the game, and just an all around threat. It'll end up being the sweeper more times than you can count end game, it's almost surprising. In part, usually by taking out the electric (Raikou), you take out one of the only Zapdos stoppers. And with spikes in play, Zapdos does quite a number to Snorlax, not to mention Snorlax is pretty occupied with Vap/Egg as well. Not quite a runaway #2 best in GSC as Jorgen had pointed out; Raikou is still in close contention and largely meta-based as to which is the superior electric legendary worthy of #2.

Alternate options: HP Water is always an option, and really a toss up with Ice. Fire is becoming more and more viable as players are turning to the Egg/Steelix combo, but still not quite worth it. Thunderbolt is definitely a superior option if Vaporeon ever becomes a problem. As far as pokemon replacements go, Raikou is always a possible alternative, albeit Zapdos edges out Raikou on this team imo.

Key matchups


Perhaps the number one most common matchup in GSC history is the Zapdos vs Raikou matchup. If a team has Zapdos, and another has Raikou, you can almost guarantee that they’ll face off multiple times in the course of the battle. When you know your opponent has Raikou, you definitely have to learn one thing: whether it carries Thunder or Thunderbolt. The Thunder kind threaten Zapdos pretty handily, both on sheer damage and the doubled para rate. However, if they do carry Thunder, do take note Vap has a better shot at taking it down than if it had carried tbolt. If it bolts, you can pretty safely go for the para if you wanted to, since tbolt falls short of 3hko. But just don’t be too predictable and switch immediately following the para ALL the time. It doesn’t hurt to learn if it roars or sleep talks, if it HP waters or ices either.


A close second to Raikou, you’ll definitely see your fair share of Snorlax switch-ins. On the higher end, Zapdos can deal upwards of 30% to Snorlax, taking out a decent chunk. 30% is more than enough for a 4hko, so in a pinch, you can kill a Resting snorlax switching into thunder. Odds of hitting 4 thunders in a row are about 24%, which isn’t terribly by any means. One thing to watch for is Thunder PP if you’re consistently relying on this though. Also, a paralyzed snoralx never hurt anyone.

One of the worst positions to be in is have a Thunder miss on the switch to an incoming fresh 100% snorlax. The tourney play here would be Thunder, since you can recover against curselaxes, but a drumlax would be a devastating loss. But against lower skilled players, it’s almost always curselax, so it’s safe to go to cloy for the spikes, Egg for the sleep, steelix for the curse/phaze, or Snorlax for the mirror match.


Another pretty common matchup. Most steelixes tend to have explosions now, so if you’re ballsy enough you can hit them for free. But many teams capitalize off Steelix bait exploding Zapos, so be wary. And I think Zapdos on this team, in general, plays a larger role than Steelix on theirs. However, having said that, with Steelix down, it gives your Snorlax that much more leeway, so there are pros and cons to this switch. Moreover, there’s also the now, nearly non-existent Body Slam/Rock Slide Steelix variants, and those are the ones you might want to watch for. Rock Slide can be pretty devastating later if Cloy/Vap/Egg are down.


Probably a top 3 occurrence with the unbanning of HP legends. Non-Ice Beam Nidokings aren’t worth mentioning here. Fresh vs fresh, Zapdos has the upper hand definitely. But switching zapdos INTO Nidoking is an iffy play. It depends on a variety of factors including how much you know about their team, whether you’ll need zapdos for something else. Do keep in mind the default team has 2 other Sleep Talkers, all of which can switch into Nido equally well, and don’t play as flexible a role as Zapdos does. 3 high damage IBs can kill zapos, but one play I’ve found pretty reliable is that if Nidoking is aggressively pursuing Zapdos, IB becomes almost a 100% prediction. It’s pretty safe to go to Snorlax or something mid cycle, then back to Zapdos to give it the extra Leftovers turn, enough to survive another IB.


This matchup occurs fairly common, but I would avoid it if you have better options. Depending on the status of Zapdos/Vaporeon, Vaporeon may end up having the upper hand. Status in the form of para or sleep definitely swings the momentum away from Zapdos, not to mention Thunder’s 70% acc is really costly here. If you’re fresh, then it’s fine, or if you’re looking to switch it up, otherwise, Cloyster and Egg are better options. Even Snorlax.


Pretty common if the opponent actually runs blissey. This usually leads to a pretty safe switch to Cloyster for early spikes, taking Toxic at worst (granted, Toxic is pretty bad, but that’s one less thing Vap has to worry about). Ideally, you’re taking Light Screen or Ice Beam as you switch to Cloy. However, you also have the option of going for the para. And if it drops a screen, I’d be wary of Marowak or Machamp or something coming in to capitalize. Every once in a while, you’ll face a Sing blissey, so there’s that. Ice Beam doesn’t 3 shot zap.


Pretty common, Egg almost forces your Zapdos. Sometimes I like to throw Vap or Snorlax at it early to see if it’ll bite. It’s almost a coin flip between Eggs WANTING to face an active Zapos, and those Eggs that are just looking for any matchup it can get. If you can take the sleep early with something else, it’ll be pretty nice and lets you go to your own Exeggutor for your own sleep. However, the Stun Spore variants are also pretty common, so if you end up facing those, then you’ll just have to play and see where it takes you. Just know you don’t need Zapdos to counter Vap as so many teams do, you have Egg, Cloy, Snorlax, and even your own Vap to fall back on if need be.


The mirror match. A Thunder and two HP Ices kill. If this occurs, then one of you is desperate. It’s 50/50, and really to be avoided if possible, but sometimes it just isn’t because of how God damn good Zapdos is. If your opponent’s awake, Thunder might be the better choice, and go for the HP Ices if he’s asleep. In general, if you’re not going for the para, or if Thunder’s not going to KO, then go for HP Ice. But there are too many factors to consider, and just a coin flip for the most part. Also keep in mind, statistically only 11/16 Thunders will hit, so PP wasting them isn’t completely out of the question either. You have the upper hand versus Tbolt Zapdos, but it’s not by a huge margin or anything. It’s still largely a coin flip, since Tbolt has ok odds of 3hko. And do keep in mind that this is a speed tie, so really depending on which way the tie goes, HP Ice is enough to KO on its own.


Not out of the question with the overwhelming popularity of HP Zapdos compared to DP Zapdos. Thunder falls short of 2hko. Keep that in mind. Against the sleep talk s-toss/EQ versions, you’re free to play it anyway you want to. Cursetalking Hera is a bit tricky. You can go for the kill with HP Ice followed by double Thunders, but don’t bet the game on it. Also, if Thunder won’t kill, and it looks like they’re going for the Rest, save Thunder’s PP and just HP Ice it. Rule of thumb: if it takes an HP Ice and a Thunder to kill, it’s almost always a better idea to HP Ice first in case they rest that turn. Anyway, fall back to Steelix when Thunders aren’t going your way and things are looking dim. +2 is a good time to cut your losses if you can. For the most part though, Heracross probably won’t stay in on you.


Thunder falls short of 2hko as well, at least from full. If it takes spikes damage, then Thunder has a pretty good shot at killing. Anyway, if it’s active Machamp vs active Zapdos, no stat upping involved, then it’s pretty safe to Thunder or HP Ice. If it’s the curse rest-talk kind, just Thunder, or switch to egg. If it’s s the curse 3 attack kind, then you might want to just Thunder and not get too crafty for no reason. A more interesting matchup is Machamp going into a Snorlax Rest/Curse/failed Sleep Talk, getting a curse on the switch as you switch in Zapdos. My favorite play from this position is Thunder, followed by switch to Egg [who is now faster] for the Psychic. But if Machamp’s low enough such that Psychic KOs flat out, then that’s probably the better play. Or if you haven’t used Sleep Powder yet, maybe it’s time to cut your losses -- 75% accuracy is better than 70%.


Probably a good idea to switch to Egg, Snorlax, or Steelix to prevent the Joltwak/lax set up. Keep hitting it with Thunders on the switch, and if you’ve already taken out Marowak/Snorlax/Quagsire/the target of the pass, then just Thunder it. There are also Growth versions to watch out for. In general, if it’s your first time seeing Jolteon, switch out. Immediately.


This thing is stupidly dangerous. HP is something like a 6hko, so don’t be a fool and be wreckless with it and let it drum. Switch to Cloy if you haven’t set spikes, Egg or Vap if you want to give it different looks or if one of them offers better matchup. But don’t be afraid to pot-shot it every once in a while as well.


This one’s pretty rare, since Tyranitar isn’t the best option as far as switching into Thunder goes. You’re looking at close to 40% damage after leftovers, with the added para chance. The mixed ttars can hit the entire team hard if Vap’s gone, otherwise, Vap’s usually a safe switch, even if ttar tbolts (which doesn’t 3hko). You generally want to avoid trading hits unless you’re short on options, or you’re feel confident in 1 turn prediction. There are times where you need to go for the para as well, so that’s that.


You have pretty much a guaranteed 2hko if spikes are lain, but without it, you need two max rolls to kill it. If you hit it on the switch, then it’s almost a no brainer to hit it a second time. If you thunder it on the switch, then it’s a bit more tricky. In general, if you’re at a high HP, feel free to go for the hit, then fall back on Vap/Cloy/Egg to finish it off. If you don’t want to take that risk, you can go straight to those for the scare and see if you can hit wak on the switch next time.

Cloyster (M) @ Leftovers ** Emma
- Clamp
- Explosion
- Spikes
- Surf

Clamp was a late addition, and one I found to be quite nice. Those looking to "take" an explosion with Tyranitar or Forretress would be pleasantly surprised. Plus, if Forretress thinks it can set spikes and get away by taking a single surf, it needs to think again. Clamp a Snorlax that things it can get a free slam on you while you set spikes, only to have you explode. Spikes for Snorlax? Sounds like a good trade to me. Clamps other things that might be annoying, 238 speed outspeeds a lot surprisingly. Vaporeon, Exeggutor, Machamp, and Blissey are a few common things Cloyster outspeeds. Plus, in a pinch, you can trade for unwary Missy who thinks they have a free ML opportunity. Just keep in mind Clamp has 2-5 turn duration, and not the best of accuracies. Regardless, how often do you use the 4th move on Cloyster anyway?

Alternative options: Toxic or Ice Beam over Clamp is pretty straight forward. Toxic is pretty good, and gives you a small shot at keeping spikes down versus Starmie provided your prediction is good enough. Ice Beam gives you that freeze chance, and takes Zapdos and more importantly, Exeggutor out of the equation. Reflect is another possible option as a p-passer, if you plan on keeping Cloyster for a while. Screech for p-hazing, and a last ditch shot vs curselax. You can combine it with Clamp to make it that much more guaranteed. And finally, Icy Wind gives you better explosion control, and another shot at keeping spikes down vs Starmie if you’re good enough. There are no pokemon replacements worth mentioning, until Starmie becomes at least #5 most used Pokemon in GSC or something.

Key matchups


This is one of the worst matchups to have tbh. He spins your shit, and you gain very little through killing it. On the other hand, if you don’t kill it, it’ll just wear you out. HOWEVER, this in turn becomes very predictable. So if you feel like you can really capitalize off Starmie switches, and on many occassions, you probably can, so send Cloy to force Starmie in and run wild. However, if you can’t, then you can consider exploding on Starmie just to take it out of the equation and make things simpler for you. Clamp if needed.


Another pretty common matchup. What you do here depends largely on their set, and whether or not
you need Cloyster for anything else. If they spin, chances are, you might want to find a way to keep spikes and trade for their cloy. Keeping spikes vs a spin cloy isn’t terribly hard by itself, unless they run HP electric. But actually killing, you’re banking on going first and/or them surfing you in return. If they’re the non-spinning kind, then you have to make the decision of trading with them early, with clamp or otherwise (since cloy has a easy switch into steelix, and for the most part, into vap as well; not to mention, cloy’s explosion is damn threatening to eerything), or play the game with both cloys alive. Make the decision early is my advice.


A rare matchup, but rare in the sense that Missy isn’t all too common anymore. Regardless, if your opponent has a Misdreavus, this should occur with decent frequency. If in the odd case Misdreavus tries trapping you, sometimes it’s a decent idea just to let it, and go for the Clamp on the Perish Song turn. It’s definitely a payoff, because Misdreavus’ role in part is countering Snorlax, so that’s one less Pokemon to worry about. Plus, Misdreavus forces Steelix switches, and you never want to be in the position to be forced to do something. Clamp has 75% accuracy, with turn duration of 2-5. If you land Clamp on the Psong turn, you have a relatively good chance of nailing the trade. Plus, worst case scenario, you still have Explosion. However, watch out for Thundermissys. Definitely do not want to get trapped by those.


Obviously, if you think you can explode on it, do it. Otherwise, backoff. Cloyster for Raikou is always a good trade. If you’ve gone to Steelix in the past couple of matchups, then you can consider explosion if you feel Raikou’s over predicting. Very high-risk and high-reward.


Similar to Raikou, and the main reason to consider IB over Clamp (Egg’s another reason). Cloyster for Zapdos is always a good trade, but not exactly worth gambling a Thunder miss over. Same analysis as Raikou.


You have the upper hand versus Forretress. Honestly, if he hasn’t set spikes yet, then I would strongly consider Clamping it before setting your own Spikes. That lets you get some damage in, and really force Forretress to either Explode or die. And Forretress has really no chance of spinning versus you. Surf JUST falls short of 2hko with help of Clamp.


Pretty different from Misdreavus, you definitely do not want to be clamping these things. Gengar usually switches into Cloy for two reasons: explosion prediction, or rapid spin prediction. Gengar doesn’t take Surf too kindly.


If you hadn’t set spikes yet, then there’s a good chance Snorlax might try and get in a Body Slam potshot. If you feel like this is the case, then Clamp instead of Spikes, and promptly explode. Trading Cloyster + Spikes for Snorlax is almost always worth it. However, the safer play would be to set spikes, in case Snorlax LKs, or if they switch or something. Minimum damage Explosion does is 87%, so spikes + explosion is almost guaranteed KO on even a fresh Snorlax.


A double switch might be a good idea here if you’ve already set spikes. Either that, or go for the clamp on something and see where that takes you. Steelix usually wants nothing to do with Cloyster.


Surf will fall short of 2hko most of the time, but Fire Blast/Crunch/Rock Slide won’t 2hko you either. If you hadn’t set spikes yet, then you have a decision to make. Tyranitar is very likely to stay in and go for the Slide/Crunch/Fire Blast on your spikes turn, so you might want to consider surfing, then spiking on the subsequent turn as it gets scared out. Tyranitar rarely wants to trade more than 1 hit with you, so really, turn 1 surf, followed by a turn 2 explosion isn’t a terrible move and would probably nail you something good. I’ve done it with regularity. The best explosions are the most unexpected explosions. I wouldn’t switch Cloyster into Tyranitar too often though, stick to vap for that.


If you hadn’t set spikes, Marowak might go for the free EQ. So you can Clamp and kill, but you’d lose a good chunk of your life doing so. Another option would be to Surf as it goes for the pot shot, then lay spikes as it switches out. And there’s setting spikes, then exploding as it switches out to something to take the “surf”. Be creative here, you’re in control. If you’ve already set spikes though, things are a bit different. It’s almost guaranteed to switch out, so you can go for a double switch to something else, or go for the Explosion on the switch.


This one’s a bit tricky. You want to explode on it if possible, but you’re slower, and you’re risking getting growled. And if you take too long, you also risk getting paralyzed. Cloyster for Miltank is almost always a good switch, since it gets both Heal Bell, the Snorlax counter, and the Steelix counter all out of the way in one go. The problem is the lack of reliability of pulling it off. Surf + spikes damage puts it in range for explosion should it growl, but a Milk Drink erases that possibility. You really have to pick your spots to nail the explosion on this one, but if the opportunity arises from residual damage, take it.


Cloyster is one of the better switches into a ST Cune, but you don’t want to take Toxic unnecessarily. However, the Toxic Cunes usually carry Roar, and thus a hard counter to Vaporeon. And Toxic cunes are VERY likely to stay in versus Cloyster to go for the Toxic, especially if you haven’t set spikes yet. So you can take advantage of this and go for the explosion, but realize Explosion won’t kill Suicune from full HP. Trading Cloyster for a Roar Suicune is worth it most of the time, but for an ST cue


You can clamp and explode for a guaranteed explosion. This team is one of the better teams at dealing with Vaporeons, so it depends on what stage of the game you’re at. If most your team is crippled to the point where Vaporeon is a huge threat, then go for the explode. Otherwise, you can go to one of your other counters. However, keep in mind that Vaporeon doesn’t like staying on Cloyster in the first place because Cloyster outspeeds and it can explode. So exploding from this position can nail you something decent if that’s the case.

Snorlax #1 (M) @ Leftovers ** Watson
- Curse
- Double-Edge
- Rest
- Sleep Talk

If it wins, it's usually in last Pokemon style. I have enough exploders to force a last poke lax matchup if the opportunity arises, but for the most part, I tend to avoid using Snorlax except when I need a defensive breather. ST Curse DE gives me the best shot in lax vs lax matchups, which are damn common. Especially because I'm pretty reckless with Steelix. This is definitely the most defensive snorlax of the bunch.

Snorlax # 2 (M) @ Leftovers ** Watson
- Earthquake
- Double-Edge
- Fire Blast
- Self-Destruct

Snorlax # 3 (M) @ Leftovers ** Watson
- Belly Drum
- Body Slam
- Earthquake
- Rest

Snorlax # 4 (M) @ Leftovers ** Watson
- Curse
- Body Slam
- Fire Blast
- Rest

However, I will say, because of the simple fact that I almost actively avoid using Snorlax when using this set, that's a testament to how lackluster offensively this set is. Pretty often, I switch to 3 attack mixlax + Self Destruct for even more offense, and other times I turn to drumlax, and even FB Curselax. The idea here is with Snorlax, you can really dictate how the team will play, a faster pace, a slower pace, or somewhere in-between.

Alternate options: Listed. Largely meta-dependent. Lovely Kiss on any set. Alliteration.

Key matchups


Tough to get around, however, if you’ve managed to keep spikes down, hitting it on the switch with DE isn’t a bad option. Furthermore, you can force Miltank matchups, then subsequently capitalize with just about any other member on the team. You can throw up a curse to make it all the safer to switch out to one of your special attackers. If you’re running LK, that’s an option too. With drum, you don’t even have to worry about it.


Tough if you’re a mono-attacking snorlax to get around, but if you’re running anything else, it shouldn’t be too bad. LK is a big help here, obviously. However, do take note that +1 DEs hurt Skarm quite a bit, so if you can land a para with Egg or something, it might pay off. Overall though, hopefully you have FB or LK to get around Skarm, otherwise it’s walling you all game. HOWEVER, you can also use this to your adv if your opponent becomes too predictable with skarm, letting you double switch to Zap/Vap/Cloy pretty easily. Or Steelix to rack up spikes damage if you have it down.


ST Curselax technically has the upper hand in any 1v1 mirror match. However, opposing LK Snorlax can be a real drag if you get unlucky with sleep length, sleep talks, and speed ties. For the most part, you don’t want to go into other Snorlaxes, but if you don’t have Steelix (or if your opponent is an FBer), then Snorlax might be your best bet. That is, if you’re running ST. If you’re not, then it’s a tough call. Definitely avoid this matchup, however, chances are, your opponent’s trying to avoid it as well.


DE does over 40% on the switch, upwards of 50 with spikes. Machamp shouldn’t be switching into you in most cases, but don’t go head to head unless you have a good reason to (crippled zapdos/egg). It’s a straight foward matchup tbh. But there’s the pot shot while it curses, and a switch to egg/zap is a possibility if you’re feeling rebellious.


If you’re using mono-lax, this is a really annoying matchup. And chances are, Steelix is going to be backed by spikes support. Good thing 4/5 all match up reasonably well with Steelix though, so the Roar wouldn’t take them too far. If you have FB/EQ, then it’s your call whether or not you want to gamble the explosion.. If you’re a mono-attacking sleeper, I don’t think sleeping it is a huge help. It doesn’t really benefit anything on the team, and you probably still won’t kill it. If it doesn’t pack explosion, a last pokelax beats curselix unless you get extremely unlucky (assuming it doesn’t rest, and you went with DE. I think BS won’t do enough damage, and Return is a toss up. Helps to ST so leftovers doesn’t bite you in the ass).


Same thing with lix. Last pokelax will beat curse tar (unless it rests). However, until then, it depends on ttar’s set. Dpunch is something you want to avoid taking if you can (Vaporeon’s an automatic switch to ttar if you need it anyway). The other 4 are all questionable switches at best; how you deal with ttar depends a lot on the status of your team imo. This is true for almost all teams trying to deal with ttar though.


A mono-attacking lax’s worst nightmare imo (save gengar, but gengar generally has to check for EQ, whereas Missy doesn’t). If your opponent has one of these things, consider double switching to Steelix early, if it racks up some spikes damage, Zapdos is an option. So is Egg. Obviously you don’t leave Snorlax in though. Ever. Unless you can land a killing blow and can avoid/dont mind Destiny Bond.


Again, if you’re a mono-attacker, this will give you nightmares. Worse yet, it hits the rest of the team hard, especially if it packs FP. If you’re sure it doesn’t psong, then it isn’t a terrible ideal just to do some PP wasting for a while. If you’ve just taken sleep at relatively high HP, and you know it doesn’t FP, then Steelix isn’t a bad idea, but it doesn’t shrug off IP + spikes either though. And 1 EQ won’t kill Gengar. If you’ve got EQ, then Gengar shouldn’t be too bad, however, if you do have EQ, I don’t think getting exploded on is a good idea either. As far as FB is concerned, you need 5 to kill Gengar from full HP, on average, you’ll hit 6 or 7 of them. So make them count. You’re gold if you land a burn though, but that’s not something to bank on.


A pretty rare matchup that never happens unless both players are switching. Snorlax probably isn’t going into megahorns, and Heracross isn’t coming into DEs. However, some Heracross are looking for the LK so it does happen through that. Depending on the status of the pokemon, you should probably switch out if both are fresh, or if Hera’s in better condition, but if he’s poor condition and “forced” to rest, then you can go for the Curse or DE. If you’ve got him walled anyway, there’s no reason to risk it. And there’s no point mentioning Reversal hera because those are bad. Curse heras are the ones to watch for against this team. It can really go off if you’re not careful, even with Zapdos/Steelix.


If you’re an ST-er, definitely take the sleep. However, I don’t recommend staying in on Nido after that if you’ve got better options. General rule if thumb: if the ST-er is slower than the sleeper, then it’s usually not the best idea to stay in and rest talk. If you can’t regain control of sleep cycle, things turn ugly really fast. Poorly timed wake ups, resleeps, really turn against you quick. If you haven’t got ST, then obviously try to bait LK with either Zap or Vap. Snorlax is usually a pretty tempting target to sleep anyway.


This is becoming more and more common, and as mentioned several times, this is one of the better teams at dealing with Vaporeon. ST gives you a pretty big advantage, however, DE recoil damage will creep up on your if you’re not careful. If you’re a non-STer, then it depends on the condition of the two pokemon, and whether or not Egg/Zap/Cloy is available. In general, I like to curse first if vap is at full HP, otherwise, it depends at what % and what’s the most effective way to take it down (obviously).


Most eggs are probably looking to sleep/explode you. Some have seed. And some just know you’re an ST-er and won’t bother and throw out a psychic/explosion instead. Egg is ranked #4 in my book overall, and #2 in terms of offensive threat... for a good reason. It’s completely up for grabs how you play, but if you’re a ST lax, and well walled, then you can probably trade for Egg and it might help you in the long run. If you’ve got other attacks, then you’re probably a game changer, and you can make something like Vap take the sleep/explosion.


This usually occurs when you’re switching into Jolteon’s agility (steelix/egg crippled for some reason), this is where things are real tricky. If you’ve got SD, it might be wise to cut your losses and explode here. If you’ve got ST and are in relatively good condition, play for curse. You should be fine vs either the Marowak or Snorlax pass. Watch out for the ocassional machamp pass as well though. If they end up passing to Marowak, technically Cloyster can still bail you out living an EQ and exploding.


Usually the intended target of an AGI pass, but more and more teams are using lone Marowaks. In this case, SD’d EQ has a small shot to OHKO, and 2 EQs will miss 2hko most of the time from full HP. Avoid taking hits if possible: you’ve got Zapdos, Egg, and Cloy. Make it count. If you’ve already got a curse up, then by all means, attack Marowak damnit.

Steelix (M) @ Leftovers ** Blake
- Curse
- Earthquake
- Explosion
- Roar

For a while, I had Rock Slide over Explosion simply because I felt Steelix was too important defensively to blow up non-chalantly. Then I realized, I really needed Steelix to contribute offensively, or the team lacks one of the best bait-exploders in the game. Kills anything from Suicune to Miltank, Skarmory to Zapdos, Steelix is probably better than even Egg at opening games up.

Alternatives: None really. But I do like Rock Slide every once in a while for an off speed pitch, for those Skarms looking to trade, only to find that I’ve got a 999 attack EQ/RS Steelix to deal with.

Key matchups


A common go-to play that I pull is Curse on the switch, Explosion for the guaranteed kill (Steelix survives Surf no sweat). This opens up Vaporeon especially if the cune roared, and Egg somewhat if it was a IB-er. But in general, you better have a good reason to explode your p-hazer, and sometimes Cune is a good reason.


Waters will be pretty common. Exploding here usually allows you to keep Spikes, but again, throwing away your p-hazer better be a justified move. A Hydro Pump will OHKO, but no good Starmie will HP. Watch out for Reflect though. Generally either trade with it, or don’t bother.


Again, Explosion being the only offensive weapon you have, you better have a good reason to suicide your p-hazer. Egg is a pretty big problem to most teams, and this “super team” is no different. If you can spare it, it isn’t a terrible trade to make.


In general, not worth it to trade here. Cloysters annoy Steelix to no end. But good thing Cloysters usually end up trading with your own Cloyster.


An odd matchup, ideally you want to explode on it (assuming Snorlax benefits a great deal here), but there’s that risk of getting Growled. A -1 Explosion is in the ballpark of ~55% damage, but it could Milk Drink if it’s in the 50s or 60s. Taking para is beneficial and not beneficial, it’s really a toss up. You could be walling sleepers like Snorlax or even Nido. Not to mention, it saves your PP if it comes down to that. One play I do enjoy, is tossing up a few curses while it growls, then getting a free switch to Zap/Vap without having to worry about Slams on the switch.


If you’ve got spikes down, shit’s money. Roar roar roar etc. If it’s clear they’re trying to trade Skarm, and you don’t mind it, at least make sure you get it. Curse all the way before exploding, preferably Exploding on the switch. If skarm curses the turn you explode, and it will, it has a small chance to survive a 999 explosion.


Steelix is the safest initial switch to Jolteon, since going to Egg risks facing a sub jolt. Initially go for the roar if it AGIs, take the HP water if needed. Not a deal breaker. If it turns out it’s growthing, exploding on the spot is an option to cut your losses short.


Assuming you’re switching in on a curse, then roar is the safe play, curse if you feel he isn’t the FB-ing type. It’s really straight forward. As always, look for the explosion on lax if you think you can get it.


Steelix almost hard counters umbreon, but it’s also a forced thing early. Scouting for mean look is the safe play, but once you know it doesn’t mean look, then you can venture out to other switches. SA/Cray + ML + BP is a queer set, and it’s annoying to play against.








Vaporeon (F) @ Leftovers ** Johansson
- Growth
- Hydro Pump/Surf
- Rest
- Sleep Talk

Hydro Pump was definitely a late addition, and I'm still at odds at whether it's actually better than Surf. In general though, if you're awake, you'll appreciate the extra power. When you're sleep talking, the misses seem to really bite you in the ass. Hydro Pump gives it a better shot versus lax (notice "better", not a guarantee by any means, lax still has the upper hand at +1 vap full vs full lax for the most part). It's also a far better shot against Zapdos, and moderately better against Raikou, depending on how much residual damage you can get in. General rule of thumb, against teams where vap would've raped anyway, Surf is probably better to guarantee the win. But in cases where Vap is struggling on its own to break an electric, or Snorlax, then the extra power will be appreciated, and it being a risk is irrelevent since Surf wouldn't have done anything anyway. And against teams where vap's nigh worthless (ST zap, Roar Suicune, DE/Return curselax, LS Starmies, LS Blisseys, or God forbid, Kingdra), then... well, does it really matter? Surf is definitely better vs LS Blisseys though. And you'll find PP is definitely an issue for Vap, and it's really annoying when you just can't nail that Hydro Pump while Nido's just pounding your ass.

Again, Vap's defensive qualities should not be undermined. Let vap take the sleep if Zapdos is playing an important role. Let vap take the explosion from cloy/egg/forr if need be. Let vap anchor versus some hard hitters. Briefly put Charizard on hold, weaken Machamp, etc etc.

Alternatives: Vap was the most substituted slot, as aforementioned. Raikou/Gengar are great options, depending on the meta. Heracross, the curse kind is pretty great as well. However, Vap probably offers the most well-rounded benefits, offensively and defensively. As far as moves go, Baton Pass is an offspeed pitch.

Key matchups


With HP, you have a pretty good shot assuming Lax comes in on a growth. With Surf, it’s a minor toss up. In general, you have a good shot versus Drumlaxes, but a minor toss up versus Curselaxes. I’d say, Return/Frustration Curselax, especially ST kind are the worst to face. Body Slammers don’t do a ton of damage, but a badly timed para could mean death. DEs takes a bit of finesse, because the recoil really ends up biting DE’s in the ass. Whether you growth once, or growth twice, really depends on your HP, Snorlax’s HP, and the HP of the rest of your opponents (assuming you’re going for a sweep).


Gamble vs Thunder kind usually in last ditch efforts, however, if it’s asleep, it’s definitely worth a shot to gamble. Tbolt variants have the upper hand in terms of consistensy, so I might try to avoid those. Hitting and weakening this on the switch is a good idea if a vap sweep is your best bet. If you’ve got surf, +1 just misses 2hko most of the time. +1 HP is guaranteed, but you’ve got a 64% shot of nailing two in a row. Regular HP + 2 turns of leftovers (assuming you HPed on the switch) and a +1 HP misses the kill as well. You can live 1 tbolt/thunder pretty handily though, so there’s that. If it’s paralyzed, I’d say go for it.


Almost identical analysis as Zapdos, but with one key difference: spikes. If it’s taking spikes, then you can definitely punish it pretty quickly. If you’re using HP, just watch out for PP issues, but otherwise, it’s no different than Zapdos. It will survive 2 +1 surfs guaranteed though, but on the flip side, Vap also has a slim chance of surviving 2 tbolts.


Giga Drain needs 3 high rolls to kill Vap, and on 8 PP, you have a pretty good shot at wasting it. Explosion kills you though, obviously. However, because these things rarely rest, and if they’re taking spikes, you’ve got a great shot of just flat out wearing them down. If you’re packing HP, then at ~50% and spikes set, Egg can’t switch into HP anymore. Leech Seed ones are annoying though. I take Egg’s sleep with vap at times, since I’m pretty protective of Zapdos.


If your opponent’s turning to Blissey, they’ve run short on options, or they’re inexperienced. Growth up and reap the benefits. If it turns out they’re the Light Screen variation, Growth on the 4 turns the screen’s up, and Surf on the turn the rescreen turn and fish for CH. CH regular hit + regular LS’d hit still kills. PP stalling is also an option IIRC. Tbolt is nowhere near a 3hko. If they’re spamming Softboiled, realize you outspeed them, so they’re blindly spamming and you have full control. You can either fish for CH, or alternate a Surf hit with Growth; you have 24 surfs, he has 16 softboileds. And if she starts getting cute by not boiling immediately, then you have to start predicting and try to catch them. With HP, you’ve got a tougher job vs LS Blissey. PP stall might be the most reliable way, or if you’re feeling lucky, do the same method as mentioned above.


Again, this isn’t a problem at all in most cases. Generally, they’re just fishing for spc downs, and you generally let them. If they get lucky, there’s nothing you can do. Growth up, and do work. Tbolt misses the 3hko and if they Light Screen, it’s hopeless. Time it so you can get a free switch out of it at least.


Hit these on the switch, nothing really to it. Jolteon serves a different purpose. Go for the kill if it’s there though.


The mirror match, pretty common sometimes. If you’re a surfer, it’s probably best to attack after 4 growths, that’ll get you a 3hko most of the time. If your opponent’s in a ST loop, there’s the option of going for the +5 and getting the guaranteed 3hko. However, if your opponent isn’t a ST-er (and somehow you know this), +3 might be a slightly better option. If you have HP, +5 gives you a 2hko, which is awesome, but you’ve got to force him to rest first. +3 gives you a guaranteed 3hko, but the odds of hitting 3 are about 50/50. Anyway, a toss-up matchup assuming you don’t Surf at +1 or anything. But again, this is one of the better teams at dealing with Vap, so it’s avoidable if you choose to. No reason to bet the game if you don’t have to.


If it roars, you’re helpless. If it doesn’t, then you’re gold. Growth up and reap benefits. However, there’s the option of going last pokestyle if it roars, but that is very rare, and your opponent has to be pretty dense to not see it from a mile away to prevent it. However, it’s still an option.


Vaporeon is probably one of the better Pokemon at taking sleep from Jynx, and water hits for neutral. Awesome. HOWEVER, Jynx does outspeed you, so if you’re getting unlucky with sleep talk/sleep duration, that could turn to trouble real fast (e.g. taking Psychic on the switch, LK, then waking up when trying to ST taking another Psychic, etc). Once you take the sleep, it’s probably not a terrible idea to go to Lax or something.


Megahorn hits you very very hard. Unless you have the kill or something, it’s not a matchup in your favor.


HP/Surf both deal a number to it, with the former being a near guaranteed 2hko. His tbolt is strong enough to 3hko, so you can’t really fuck around with that. Not to mention, it packs explosion. HOWEVER, vap takes ip/fp/hypnosis all pretty well, so it can pivot switch into other stuff if you need it to. If it Giga Drains (lol), then you’re chill.


Thunder’s technically got a 3hko, but it’s got to hit 3 in a row first. Actually, that’s not quite true. 2 Thunders and a DE finish you off, so Vap isn’t quite Suicune-esque in this sense, but nonetheless, if you’re in a pinch, Vap can hold off Dnite for a bit if your luck’s decent. Furthermore, Dnite’s on a 16 PP counter, and once you’ve got a few growths under your belt, things might even be in your favor. Also, once Dnite gets into the “habit” of trying to land Thunders, then it’s pretty safe to go to Zapdos or Snorlax or something. 16 PP really isn’t tough to dance around.


This matchup really isn’t in your control. Your best bet vs cloyster is really your own cloyster. Steelix is usually too risky to take explosion, Zap/Egg/Snorlax are all too valuable in most games. However, Surf/HP both hit cloyster damn hard, but ultimately, it’s still faster than you, and it “can” clamp, so it’s not really your decision if he happens to explode. HOWEVER, if he doesn’t, then fuck yeah, it’s all you.


Man, if there ever was a hard counter to Vap (and the team), Tenta would be it. Honestly, it’s tough. Hopefully you’ve got ST Curselax to at least give you a shot, otherwise, Zapdos might be your best bet (and it isn’t a terribly great one, getting through sub + speed tie + a multitude of things). Obviously you DON’T leave Vaporeon in though, unless you’ve already lost, or if Tenta has like 10%.

Exeggutor (M) @ Leftovers ** Scarlett
- Explosion
- Giga Drain/HP Fire
- Psychic
- Sleep Powder/Stun Spore

Another pokemon that can really dictate the pace of the team. Switching up the set, perhaps to include leech seed, even synthesis, adds a ton of longevity to egg, and enables the team to play at a much slower pace and grind it out with the best of them. Egg nails Zapos with ridiculous frequency, albeit because more and more Eggs are going Giga Drain over HP Fire, Skarmory is becoming a more and more common switch. Turn 1 explosions use to be fully viable, but not so much anymore. And don't get me started on Forretress. The drop in Umbreon usage certainly hasn't hurt egg either. Avoiding statuses is pretty crucial, so against an HP Water/Thunder electric, don't go too happy on switching into Thunders. Those do almost 30% anyway.

Alternatives: HP Fire if Ttar drops in usage and/or Forretress/Skarmory spike. Also useful for the mirror match, but yeah. Leech Seed is another option if you’re running LK on lax, gives you a moderate shot of beating skarm on your own without HP Fire.

Key matchups


Probably what defines Exeggutor. This was the original goal for egg, and it still is one of the better “goals”. Egg for Zapdos helps the team in so many ways, that trading for it is almost a no brainer. And Zapdos usually have a tendency to stay in on Egg. In some cases where you get lucky, you can kill Zapdos without explosion, but for the most part, if you think you can nail it, nail it. The earlier the better. This is especially true if you’re using a non ST Snorlax.


One of the worser matchups for Egg, however, with Sleep Powder, you can at least ward it off for a little bit.











If you’ve read my thread on Smogon, which I take it most of you have, I think most of the usual stuff is covered. I’ll take a slightly different approach this time.

Zapdos and Snorlax

Pretty standard synergy, overlaps quite a bit more than people would’ve initially thought. Zapdos lures in Raikou with some regularity, and while Steelix is the preferred switch, Snorlax can subsitute in case Raikou decides to get cute with HP. Not to mention, going to Egg means irrecoverable damage, whereas Snorlax is a walking hospital.

Zapos and Vaporeon

The most blatant synergy is Zapdos paralyzing Raikou for Vaporeon. Other ones include Thunder putting Lax in 2 shot range for +2 vap, sometimes even +1 Vap. Zapdos paraing or weakening other Zapdos, Vaporeon weakening Zapdos/Raikou etc. Snorlax is one common “threat” they both face, and doubling up on damage never hurt anyone. Pretty annoying when the 70% and 80% attacks start missing though. Together, they’ve got pretty complete ST coverage as well, taking ST from a multitude of things.

Zapdos and Cloyster

In a perfect world, Cloyster would nail opposing electrics. And quite frankly, this happens quite often, and when it’s Raikou, it’s pretty damn awesome. Zapdos runs absolutely WILD all over teams. Cloyster also gets the odd snorlax who think it can just get in a free bslam/DE or something before I set spikes. So Clamp as it attacks, then explode the following turn without setting spikes, putting it in single digit %HP. This is also great news for Zap.

Zapdos and Exeggutor

Exeggutor is probably the premiere Raikou/Zapdos bait-exploder since all the way back in revision 1 in 2004. Through non-HP legend periods, Egg was even better (DP zapdos and Crunch Raikou?). Egg had custom built weaknesses to these two, and shit was awesome. Using the optional moveset of HP Fire, this would more or less guarantee Raikou (provided they don’t have the rarely used houndoom/umbreon), which again, is awesome news for Zapdos. Vaporeon too, but that’s a different story.

Zapdos and Steelix

Snorlax and Vaporeon

Snorlax and Cloyster

Snorlax and Exeggutor

Snorlax and Steelix

Vaporeon and Cloyster

Vaporeon and Exeggutor

Vaporeon and Steelix

Steelix has the one-two Explosion vs Cunes that hard counter vap. Steelix can also draw in some matchups that Vap capitalize off of real well: Miltank, Umbreon, Skarm are a couple examples. Sometimes I even go Vap into Cloy to force some plays, if it Explodes, then that leaves my Cloy to explode on something else. Furthermore, Zapdos isn’t terribly uncommon of an Explosion target, nor is Exeggutor. And the aforementioned Cloy, you can open vap up that way. On the flip side of things, Vap hits Cloy pretty hard, and Cloys do switch into vap looking for the explosion. If you trade there, or if you weaken it enough, that gets rid of one of Steelix’s biggest threats.

Cloyster and Exeggutor

Cloyster and Exeggutor have the advantage of many overlapping explosion targets, especially true with HP Fire variant of Egg.

Cloyster and Steelix

One of my favorite plays is switch to steelix to take tbolt/thunder from raikou/zap, then immediately to cloy for early spikes. No one in their right mind would tbolt an active steelix with raikou/zapdos, especially not within the first 5 turns of a game. This lets me scout out HP should they decide to use it, or I keep spikes. Furthermore, explosion targets overlap, just like many others

Exeggutor and Steelix

The HP legend coverage, and the two most important wall breakers.

Interestingly enough, I went full circle here if you take a look at the process. And from the above process, you can see just how flexible the team can be, in terms of going from full blown offense, to full blown defense. And it's important to treat it that way. I can't emphasize how important it is to at the very least, SWITCH UP YOUR SETS, if not switch up some pokemon altogether. You have to at least make Gengars check Snorlax for EQ, make Zapdos check for IB on Cloyster, Skarmory check for RS on Steelix, etc. Furthermore, switching up offense and being unpredictable is never a bad thing.

And, if-and-when Tyranitar isn't insanely popular, Gengar should be one of the first go-to replacements for just about anything on the team (specifically over Vap or Egg slot. MAYBE Steelix, but probably not).

From part 3 (outdated):

Plenty of flexibility in offense, reliable offense (not explode and pray). Has a methodical physical route, and a methodical special route, and a "luck" route (explode and hope it does something) to break stalls, which is everything basically. It's the most complete offensive team I've made. And I've made them all. Bitches.

Snorlax opens; instant advantage. LK from lax is completely unstoppable, and you should be able to sleep almost anything you want to. Many games end right here. Defensive anchor for the most part, especially with the ST curselax set. Allows me to slow the game down if needed, and definitely forces some favorable matchups. Getting Tyranitar active is the safest way to bring in Machamp. Getting Skarmory active lets me get Zapdos into a Rest loop early, not to mention test the waters with vaporeon (pun intended) and formulate a plan. This is my new way of "scouting", which involves "scouting" the threats and relevent pokemon, instead of using Roar and basically die-rolling.

Steelix with curse explosion set can nail Skarmory with regularity. All it takes is +3 to be in OHKO range (easy if you opponent lacks anything threatening), and +4 or higher guarantees it. Need the full +6 against curseskarms though. This helps Snorlax and eases the load on Machamp. Exeggutor can also explode more freely.

Curselix also nails Suicune, with +1 granting the OHKO. This is awesome for Vaporeon, and generally opens her right up for a sweep. Not to mention, eases the load on Machamp.

Probably the most surprising is Steelix's ability to take out Zapdos. Teams often resort to Zapdos once they find out my Steelix can't hit air, and this is just gravy for both Vap and Machamp. Exeggutor also runs wild without having to see Zapdos' ass all the time. Body Slam variation also helps a little here, since a paralyzed zapdos loses to Vaporeon's 2HKO, and definitely to Machamp's flinch slide.

Steelix also faces Starmie in many matchups. Depending on Starmie's set, exploding on Starmie could open Machamp up to do bigger and better things. Oh, and depending on the set, Vaporeon benefits as well. Para slamming Starmie ends her ability to beat machamp, so that too.

Cloyster ruins Steelix's plans completely and utterly though.

Machamp is awesome. For breaking good defenses in its most basic form is a two step process: knocking a hole in the defense, surge offense through said hole. Machamp is probably the best pokemon to break the game wide open. The stuff people try to throw in front of Machamp to try and stop it are far too many to list. From memory, common matchups were Zapdos, Starmie, and Gengar.

Machamp gets more Zapdos matchups than you can imagine, and a +1 almost always beats Zapdos (and takes a beating in the process though), so that opens Vaporeon right up. Since Zapdos is usually the talker, that also lets Snorlax maintain sleep on someone important. Losing Zapdos also means Exeggutor gets a free shot at something else.

Starmie is an oddball. You can beat non-Psychic starmies handily, assuming starmie is switching in (there's no reason you should be switching machamp INTO starmie anyway). Curse on the switch, then 2hko it. For Reflect starmies, curse once on the switch, once more while it reflects, then you have the option of either cursing again or just start attacking (+2 does 42-49 to a reflected starmie). Against Psychic starmies, things are a little trickier. Basically what needs to happen (other than praying for a CH), is basically deal non-recovered damage to Starmie, while staying out of Psychic kill range. A non-boosted HP Ghost and a +1 HP ghost 2 hits starmie. So basically, you want to hit it with HP ghost on the switch, then if you predict a psychic, switch to zapdos; if you predict a recover, go in for another HP ghost, until you feel it's going to psychic. If you predict correctly, you might put starmie in a position where it can't survive the next +1 HP ghost, while you can take a psychic and ask for more.

Gengar is another common matchup, usually through a 1 for 1 trade with either Explosion or Destiny Bond. This is just fine, as Snorlax could actually be a part of the offense, not to mention it's an all threatening pokemon that deals a number to zapdos, exeggutor, and vaporeon that I no longer have to worry about.

Zapdos anchors. Hard. It's difficult to explain on paper, but it just works in practice. Best sleep talker in the game, and one of the only non-stat upping offenses that work. Common para targets are Snorlax, which doesn't really matter, but doesn't hurt either; Blissey, which doesn't matter at all; and finally, Raikou, which matters a lot. Zapdos has enough spc def to sit in front of Raikou and take tbolts all day, so you're free to Thunder until you para. And if you do, Vap's probably got a good shot of winning the game. Nailing Raikou with the para also opens up Exeggutor to bigger and better things. And Machamp surprisingly benefits quite a bit from it, since speed is really a big issue with the team (not counting Zapdos, the second fastest pokemon on the team caps out at 228, then you have a pair of 208s, and two more 158s rounding out the team).

Sleep Talk is amazing, as long as it's because of Rest and not Sleep Powder/LK/Spore/something. Will elaborate later on. Absorbs statuses like a champ, since it really has no weaknesses. Beats Nidoking more times than not, and just takes shit like a man. One method of killing Snorlax (and any pokemon that is a 4hko) is forcing a switch on the turn it uses Rest (e.g. Snorlax used Rest! return zapdos, go Machamp; Snorlax is forced to switch next turn), then go right back to Zapdos, that way you can hit Snorlax on the switch without using up a Rest counter. Then you pray for 3 consecutive Thunder hits (odds of 4 thunders in a row are about 25%, factoring in CH, which isn't that bad if you think about it). It's 4x better than just praying for a CH. Speaking of CHs, 60% on the switch to Snorlax is a monstrosity and generally ends the game.

Exeggutor is one of the best defensive offensive pokemon in the game. Second most dangerous explosion in the game (after Snorlax) due to unpredictability. Typing is just cool, too bad grass pokemon suck (Celebi doesn't need to come back and ruin the balance). General concept is Stun Spore or Sleep Powder on the opposing electric to pave way for Vap. Explosion if you're feeling impulsive for quicker results.

Secondary use comes from the Umbreon switches, which are extremely common. Sleep is preferred in this case, as sleep allows for Snorlax to go apeshit on Umbreon. A para isn't bad either, since it allows Snorlax to get in that +1 hit for 50+, which is just great. And should Umbreon FP, that's that. Slowing umbreon also lets Steelix get in on the action. A +1 Explosion is great stuff.

Nailing Raikou with an explosion opens Zapdos right up. And Zapdos is far more threatening than you can imagine if all you've got is Snorlax.

Nailing Zapdos with explosion opens Machamp right up. And Machamp doesn't need the same disclaimer Zapdos does.

Vaporeon is vaporeon. She doesn't perform as well as I had hoped, but she's still great. She'll either dominate, or not really do anything. She's the inspiration for the team's creation. She can actually anchor defensively surprisingly well, and ends up forcing the opponent to trade more times than not (Cloysters explode on her frequently). So in games where she's facing 3+ walls, that's not a bad route to go. Another sleep talker is great, since I'm more willing to go to Vap for the "oh fuck, I have to take a forced sleep" situation than Zapdos, who's a consistent contributor. I'm probably taking what she does for granted, but there are some games where I just go to vap, notice a Starmie switch-in, and gg. Vap is pretty selfish and doesn't really help anyone else out, while the rest of the team is sucking her cock dry. Fuck bitches, get money.

Also, don't blame me if you use the team and lose to some explosion team. That's the easiest to beat this team, since non-spin teams have an inherent weakness to spikes, which happen to be a natural fit on explosion teams. And teams with more strategical offenses aren't as quick as 4-5, even 6 skill-less explosions, and they lack the bulkiness to really take an explosion even if it's predicted. If you're up against this situation, then don't misplay Steelix. Also, attack more often, setup less often. They can't take strong hits from the like of Zapdos, Machamp, and Snorlax either. This should almost level the playing-board, despite it being a pretty bad, almost hardcounter team-esque matchup.

Attack early, attack hard, find the weakness of your opponent's team and exploit it. Be it through Machamp, or a good ol' fashioned timely Steelix/Egg explosion. Check the offensive routes, all of them. Don't rely on Vaporeon, she's not the focal point of this team. don't try to set-up any one pokemon all the time. It's often different against various teams, and that's the beauty of this teams. Too many teams often rely on a "set up Snorlax", a plan that often takes much longer than it should in some matchups, and is nigh-impossible in others. Sometimes, setting up Zapdos is the best move, sometimes Snorlax; it's not always Vaporeon, with Machamp doing the dirty work. Any one pokemon has the potential to sweep in any given game, you just have to find out which one that is. Also, don't be afraid to sacrifice if it'll put you in a better position. The team functions just fine without say, Snorlax, or Machamp, or Vaporeon. Much of the defense lies in a combination of typing and stats, as well as the sheer offensive potential. Relentless threats help keep control in your hands, forcing your opponent to switch often, never giving them a chance to build any momentum.
Bleh, fixed some misconceptions. I think the way I wrote it gave off the wrong impression. I don't think you should consider snorlax/electrics BEFORE even constructing the team. That's just wrong. Most of the time you cover snorlax/electrics mid-build process anyway. Synergy is the most important aspect of all. No synergy, no team, just a pack of OUs.

Step 1a: find a purpose with team (roar spikes toxic, joltwak, para support + wak, druidcruel, drumzard, drumquag, drumfable, cursechamp, cursehera, growthpass blah blah anything you can think of)
Step 1b: if possible, fit more "goals" and different "paths" to take (goals that complement each other)
Step 2a: find proper support (do you need a phazer? spc wall, physical wall, beller, etc); take a look at team roles/genre
Step 2b: round out team of six if you haven't already; take into account switch patterns and synergies; take a look at team roles/genre
Step 3: account for Snorlax/electrics/whatever other threats or defensive walls you need to consider
Step 4: test, then return to step 2

If you're offensive, be lenient to yourself on how much defensive coverage you need. Sacrifice it for offense if needed. Offense can cover defense. If Machamp can't switch into anything, it isn't really beating your team is it?

Likewise, if you're defensive, you can be pretty lenient on how much offensive coverage you need. On the other hand, defense does NOT cover offense. The lazy man's fix is just to throw a drumlax on it, or if you think you're skilled enough, all you need is to ensure spikes (e.g. forr + missy), which should be plenty enough to guarantee the game won't draw out forever.


1. core strategy
2. team synergy*
3. roles
4. defensive/offensive threats/holes/gaps

*Team synergy: Basically one way to look at it is how fluid the team performs in battle. Play out a hypothetical match in your head. Good teams with good synergy offer many paths and options by way of double-triple-quadruple switches to keep offense/defense flowing and not stagnant. This is the idea behind constant pressure. If you're playing a marowak, chances are you can force in Cloy/Cune/Skarm, so you need something to capitalize from that position, either switching into Cloy/Cune/Skarm, or double switching to another offense that performs well vs Cloy/Cune/Skarm (electrics come to mind). Likewise, a curselax can probably force in steelix/miltank/skarm matchups, so you probably want something to capitalize off those matchups as well. These are just defensive switch-in examples. Sometimes, there are offensive "holes". If you're running starmie, then you run the risk of freely letting in lax, be it drum, curse, mix or any other of the million variants. You'll need something to fall back on from this position. The idea is to have many overlapping functions between a team, to make the team perform... as a team, rather than individuals. It's a general concept, and tough to grasp, but when you build a team with good synergy, it'll just "feel" right.

Example scenario: I send machamp, they send zap, I send lax, they send skarm, I send zap, they send lax, I send champ again. So if I make a double switch anywhere, I can force the ideal mismatch I want, be it zap vs skarm, lax vs zap, or champ vs lax. This allows me to get that all important curse on the switch, hit on the switch, para on the switch, fish for a CH, or whatever it is I need. These little switch triangles, squares, what-have-yous, make the team that much more dynamic and allows for more flexibility in real-world situations. Good teams have plenty of these hidden vs a wide variety of matchups

A team with good synergy is usually built from the ground up with this synergy concept in mind, rather than the "I need defense vs pokemon X so tack on pokemon Y". It makes the focus about the team, rather than the opposition. Otherwise, you have a team that feels somewhat disjointed. Just something to keep in mind.

After multiple tests and changes to the team to address problems, it will become one of two things:

1. Better
2. Worse

Humor me. If it's better, then good, keep at it. But don't base "better" off just wins or anything, if it "feels" better, more synergetic, more comfortable to play, performance in-battle, etc.

If it's worse, time to start over, maybe even scrap it and find a new core strategy to build around. Teams usually become worse because generally changes made were to cover up defensive gaps, since if a team loses, it's losing to certain attacks? And the best way to address those attacks? With defense! Don't fall into this trap, or you end up with a team that's completely disfunctional on both fronts.

However, if stalling was your goal in the first place, then maybe covering additional things made you suseptible to stuff you weren't weak to in the first place. Then look for alternatives, or just decide which one is more important to cover, and learn to play around the other thing.

It's very likely that whatever problems you're addressing could be covered up by playing differently, so if a team is at the point where it's starting to "feel right", then check to make sure if there's any changes you can make to the way you play before you make changes to the team and mess up the synergy.

Be creative.
Borat you are honestly the best guide writer on this site and my only regret is that you don't do this for more metas. (Of course I realize how many years it took you to gain this level of knowledge and experience in GSC but still it would be nice if others discussed metas with this much detail and depth.)
Thanks for the comments guys.

First major update, added three more sections of different roles (para support, toxic, and pseudo passing). Gave description/insight to every one of the pokemon listed (about 7-8 pages worth of text, single spaced). Hopefully that'll give even new-gen players a rough idea of how to use each pokemon properly to fulfill the proper roles. And hopefully also let them know, what certain pokemon are NOT capable of, despite appearing so. And vice-versa (raikou a mixed wall?? how?).

Hopefully it'll familiarize people with the meta, instead of going into every battle thinking "oh, what's that suppose to do?", or "hm, an active starmie, must mean it's a special sweeper".

@TobesMcGobes: I have this cycle thing I do, and have been doing if you couldn't tell. Basically, I've had my fun being secretive to myself, being head and shoulders above every one and getting free wins on basically "clueless" vet opponents that were supposedly greats. I've done it throughout GSC's popular years, kept to myself, not sharing any knowledge, lurking and learning other people's strats while keeping my own a secret, disallowing specs when possible, and being the absolute best because of it.

And when I first returned, mostly nostalgic reasons, and not really for any competitive "glory" or anything like that, I felt like I should share what I know and make people better. I found, that with the first couple posts, talks with other GSC players, that they actually had some interesting insight too. And that sparked some more ideas out of me. Basically, if there are questions, uncertainties, I generally stay in the scene until I figure things out. Then I'll share what I've gathered and let the meta "grow", to see if anyone else can build on the foundation I've lain. I'll check back every so often if something catches my eye, is new and exciting, is game-changing. Then I'll come back to inspect if anything is worth pursuing, or if it's sparked a new idea out of me or something, then improve upon what I already know about the meta. Then I'll release [most of] what I've learned once again to bring the rest of the meta up to speed, to see if it can once again "grow". Cycles every 6-12 months or so.

Albeit, sometimes, I do like to think what GSC would be if I hadn't written a thing, if I stuck to the same secluded knowledge and advantage that I had over everyone else. What GSC would become, and if I'd even enjoy "winning a lot" versus inferior competition. Can't say I would. Winning is great, don't get me wrong, but I'd rather have one "good win" than 50 "undeserved" wins (most recent example being 1st month of PO GSC... so many bad players). And plus, I can't say input from the rest of the community hasn't helped spark multiple ideas and changed my view on a couple things. I'd still be using rigid tactics instead of finding the right balance between hard strategy and blindly playing turn by turn; a fluid, dynamic, but still-goal oriented style of play.

But I can definitely see why most good new-gen players don't want to publish their findings. I've been there. Winning is pretty awesome. Winning consistently at pokemon gets all the girls, amirite?

But GSC's a decade old. Winning "a lot" isn't even an option anymore. There's no glory in it. If you take a look at SPL, arguably the least experienced GSC-er came out with the best record. The entire knowledge thing is extremely open in gen 2, which makes competition that much stiffer, such that almost every game is a toss up. Oh yeah, that and... gimmicks rule best of 1s, and most vets are far too proud to "gimmick". We don't have that new-gen mindset.

And yes, my posting this is the end of another cycle.


be the upgraded version of me
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Borat you are honestly the best guide writer on this site and my only regret is that you don't do this for more metas. (Of course I realize how many years it took you to gain this level of knowledge and experience in GSC but still it would be nice if others discussed metas with this much detail and depth.)
The team building advices obtained here can most definitely apply to more modern metagames. It is timeless!

Thank you for another awesome revival of GSC, Borat! Looking forward to the next installation, man.
Whoops. Fixed it.

Thanks Pocket. Been a long time. Back when you were still using Magmars and stuff. Yeah, I still remember. Releasing just about everything concrete I can think of though (just about...), so there probably won't be a part 7. It's pretty hard to explain what's subconsciously done anyway :p. But I'm trying not to pull what I did with the first 5 installations, which was giving you guys second string info or teams. This is the real deal.

However, I did leave out some key concepts, some key beliefs that I hold purposely. The problem with releasing my ideas and concepts though, is the fact that I'm releasing my thinking. My thinking isn't always 100% accurate, and it leads to close-minded thinking if everyone were to follow it. And even if it is, it isn't the only viable form of thinking. It'd just be a bunch of mini-Borats running around playing each other with the same mindset, probably the same teams. Not cool. Or pretty cool, depending on how you see it. So you'll see a lot of generalizations being made in this guide, and they're broad and general on purpose. I want to leave room for interpretation, and by saying "so and so pokemon is bad", it would eliminate that pokemon from the scene entirely. Diversity is a big part of what makes a metagame fun, and limiting it too much by way of certain philosophies or beliefs on the way the game "should" be played, that not only eliminates the creativity and diversity in the team-building process, but it also greatly hinders metagame evolution.


be the upgraded version of me
is a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Team Rater Alumnusis a Community Leader Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Top Contributor Alumnus
Lol, Mini-Borats! I agree with your reasoning, though. Some of the previous guides were centered too much around a specific example (your team / your battle), that it stifled creativity; it was not about the concept anymore, but the actual lineup and movesets that you revealed. The approach you took here allows room for invention and self-discovery. I really loved your latter-half eye-bleeder tips!

Magmars? You mean Electabuzz? :P
Nah, your buzz idea was 2008/09. I'm referring to Magmar all the way in 2004. Before Pocket became a household name.

Yeah, I'm trying to take a different approach. Induce thought, instead of "here, use this". I do hype up electrics a little more than deserved though.
Good guide. I liked the threat list on a different thread and the team roles on this one.
Overall good read as well.
Massive massive update. This is everything I've written really, yeah I know the links aren't working. If you want to take time to fix them, let me know!

Keep in mind this whole thing was drafted for ~about a decade -- there might be some inconsistencies? Still unfinished, and I'm afraid it might stay that way.

Net team away guys.
Just a nitpick, you say slowbro doesn't have any physical weaknesses, but he is weak to bug and ghost, ie. hidden power bug and shadow ball.
Mayhaps, but I think I can get away with leaving it off. Clearly don't switch into heracross, but apart from that, there's nothing to worry about. Every HP bugger is better off EQing (ie rhydon/marowak, idunno who else runs hp bug but probably no one/grounds; and shadow ball also no one). Imo it's like saying kingdra has no weaknesses; on a technicality, it's not true, but it might as well be in practice.

But not seeing heracross is a pretty big oversight, but oh well. For all intents and purposes, slowbro can be played defensively as a physical cune.
What about machamp? I ran bug on champ to hit starmies and eggies. That's pretty important because champ is the kinda thing bro might think about switching into.

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