OU Teambuilding heuristics

I believe that detailing the general principles of your teambuilding is beneficial for veterans and new players alike. In a tier like ADV, where the metagame has a healthy amount of threats and defined styles, I find this topic to be of more interest than for other generations. Though there aren't limitations to the prompt, here are some guiding questions: what dictates your building? What threats, combinations, and teamstyles do you prepare for? How do you begin your teams? How do your guidelines shift between offensively and defensively oriented compositions? What combinations of Pokemon do you find yourself returning to often? Avoiding? How do you negotiate your matchups? Where do you find that you're 'rigid'? Is this a bad thing? How do you reduce your teambuilding doctrine into short, universal snippets? How do the myriad factors that go into your building define your personal style? And whose styles do you emulate in the process?

For example, I always prefer to have at least 1.5 ground immunities on my offensive teams, with at least 2 on slower teams. Though this shifts depending on my team's hazards-control, I find this # to be a typical benchmark. .5s include things like Swampert, defensive Suicune, Celebi, etc.

For slower builds, I also tend to assume core elements of my team have 'no synergy' (CroCune for instance). And building the team without their defensive allotments in mind allows for more solid cores.

What about you?
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From personal experience, the like... adv teambuilding checklist item I really prefer checked off is decent defensive redundancy against special threats in particular (a fair bit because accomplishing the same against physical threats tends to happen naturally, ie Metagross + water, Skarm + Pert, SpDef Astarachi serving as a supplemental rock resist and normal resist alongside a dedicated rock resist like Flygon, etc.).

When I was completely new to adv a bit over 3 years ago at this point, I spammed a double CB rock big five TSS I scraped off an M Dragon team dump (so CB Aero/CB tar/Gengar/Skarm/Pert/Bliss) for while in tournament games and on ladder, and while my adv green-ness prevented me from really pinpointing the issue then, I eventually came to understand that teams that almost singlehandedly barricade the door off against special threats with just one decent special response can be *really* annoying to pilot---especially so when half of your team is bait for a class of special attackers like waters. The opponent having the better end of the weighted diceroll by miles (ie you have to risk a shitload to stop their double/anti-Bliss/Celebi/Lax play for potentially very little gain) every time Zapdos or whatever gets on the field is obnoxious for a obvious reasons, but arguably the more major issue is Dugtrio's consistently fantastic synergy with special threats. Blissey, SpDef Celebi, SpDef Jirachi, and even Snorlax---ie the 'main' special sponges on many structures---can be removed by Dug with varying degrees of setup or finesse on the part of the Dug user required and consequently blow open the doors for getting bled by special threats every time they get in. On the flipside, bulky waters---imo the closest opposite there is to general special sponge given the broad range of physical threats they check---don't really suffer from this trapping issue. You pretty much have to facilitate their removal through sheer pressure via spikes, sufficient offensive redundancy, and/or lures like Slide-Quake HP grass Tar, Thunder Tar for Milo, etc. Not that redundancy in this physical department is unimportant at all.

That said, I don't think teams like the big five + Molt/Aero/Metagross/etc, big five w/ Celebi over Blissey + Molt/Aero/Metagross/etc, or a lot of Forry/Bliss/Pert structures (although tbh Suit Tar getting in the way of Gar pressuring Blissey is really nice) are bad at all---I just enjoy the flexibility granted by defensive backbones like Milo/Celebi/Rock resist (Milo can force non-Sub Cunes to rest w/ Toxic, walls Pert, can sit on Starmie, etc), Pert/Bliss/Zapdos (Zapdos can backup Blissey against waters, can trade decently with opposing electrics via status), Pert/Lax/Zapdos, water/Blissey or Lax/Claydol (Claydol helps a bit vs electrics and Gengar), etc. in terms of what they do for your in-battle option sets.

It's definitely especially important to stretch out defensive responsibilities in adv because of how limited revenge killing is compared to gen 4 and on since scarf doesn't exist, although, once again, special threats in particular stress this point given how immediately fast they often are, between Jolteon, Starmie, Gengar, +Spe Zap/Rachi/Celebi/Molt, Raikou, Zard, the odd swift swimmer, etc.

This isn't my primary concern when evaluating teams (both others' and my own) obviously, as the fundamentals like basic threat coverage, clear team aim (ie what winpath or winpaths the team tries to build towards), style matchup coverage (ie accounting for how stuff like special offense, phys offense, and TSSes function in practice), and whatnot are 100% paramount to having an arguably auxiliary luxury in that they are more major factors in a team's quality. But yeah, this bit is definitely something I'm 'rigid' about when building/picking out teams and an important part of adv team composition imo.
This is a really awesome prompt and something I think about a lot so excuse me while I ramble on.

Personally I try to avoid thinking about team building in terms of checklists and try to take a more holistic approach. With that being said this is all probably going to sound a little bit vague but I hope it provides some insight into how to think about these things with a little bit more nuance. Every team is a little bit different and so not every team needs to cover the same checklist items every single time. Im not going to cover overall gameplans since I don't think that can easily be condensed into a neat paragraph so this is mainly going to be about how I try and ensure a team is good enough from a defensive standpoint without compromising the overall gameplan.

Once I have an idea in mind for a team's gameplan, the first priority is if my team allows sequences for a specific threat to just run away and kill all of my pokemon with no counterplay. The most obvious example of this is with aerodactyl. Because of its speed if you don't have solid normal/rock and even ground resists it just wins with out much effort a lot of the time. This is a particularly common issue i see with untested double trap lax teams trying to fit cheeky mons like houndoom into their line up. These teams are often 20% on mag away from just getting out traded by double edge because they forgot that second normal resist. The same can be said of really any pokemon your team can't outspeed. If you have nothing that outspeeds offensive starmie and it 2hkos every pokemon on your team it can also reliably out trade you. A more complex example comes from DD tar. A common scenario on teams that replace pert for a slightly shakier rock resist like metagross is that they end up having nothing that both ohkos ttar and outspeeds or survives +1 tar which when combined with something like say non twave bliss which gives ttar a fairly consequence free +1 means they can end up in a no win scenario. This doesn't mean you need swampert or flygon or whatever on every team though as you can solve this issue by adding something like hp fight aero that outspeeds and ohkos +1 tar preventing it from just winning on the spot or by adding mach punch breloom that outspeeds tar at any boost and turns even seismic toss from the blissey it's setting up on into a sweep ender by putting it in mach punch range.

Once you get past that first priority, determining if you're truly weak to a specific threat becomes a lot more complicated and comes down to the balance of how your team can handle its finite tempo recovery resources and how easily it can remove those same resources from the opponent's team. These resources include pokemon sacrifices, salac berries, lum berries and health on mons like gengar and aerodactyl who can generally switch in on specific threats once or twice per game, among other things. Basically they are any tools you can use one time throughout the match to recover tempo from the opponent. With this in mind there are times where you can allow certain threats to pick off resources on your team as long as you have the ability to use those threats to return tempo to your side and in turn remove a resource from the opposing team. To take a common example we can look at Zapdos vs Smeargle HO. There are very few pokemon that can reliably recover tempo from zapdos without expending a finite resource. It's basically just steelix + kinda sorta blissey and celebi who both run the risk of getting deleted by a baton pass to dugtrio None of these pokemon fit on smeargle HO. That being said, because of zapdos' relatively low speed and the existence of several common pokemon who can avoid an ohko and severely threaten zapdos, you pretty much always have the option to sack a pokemon and then follow up with one of those pokemon (until you run out of sacks). On paper these teams look incredibly weak to zapdos but if they have the tools to consistently trade back whenever zapdos gets in then they're not completely dead in the water.

The other side of that coin is how much room your team gives opposing teams to use non finite resources (ie hard counters that can come in over and over again) to recover tempo and this really comes down to offensive synergy. Let's say your win condition has issues getting around milotic but you're able to set up a scenario where it is consistently switching in on mixmence hp grass. This is "safe" for milotic but if that hp grass crits then milotic is forced out at low percent and you can start going for a heavy punish on their team. This is a great position to be in but if your team has say a mono pert that milotic can freely switch into at very low percents and get a recover back off on then you're suddenly back at square one. This is a more subtle weakness in your team building but it is a weakness nonetheless and something I actively try to avoid. If my gameplan involves wearing down a specific threat like milotic, swampert, or blissey and I have a pokemon on my team that gives free recovery right back to those pokemon that is a huge flaw as it means my opponent can continually come in on my threats without having to expend a resource since they just have solid walls to me.

A lot of the time it can be difficult to see some of these things in the builder and they only really become apparent after you've played around with a team for a while. With that being said the main thing I want to stress is that there are creative solutions to that first priority I mentioned that don't necessarily involve using a pokemon that just can switch in over and over again vs specific threats. You don't need blissey to be able to switch over and over again into zapdos and you don't need swampert to be able to switch over and over again into dd tar in order to not be weak to those mons, and if those pokemon give room to pokemon you have a hard time getting around then just slapping them on because they solve that first issue is bad team building.
really interesting post, going to explain how is my teambuilding proccess in ADV as an offense spammer.

first of all when I start building I focus in a strategy or my wincon, I mostly pick offensive mons and build thinking how to support it, before im sure about use the picked pokemon I start calcing damages agaisnt meta trendings and start applying theory and philosophy about how the Pokemon will work, how can it face standard archetypes and stuff, lets pick for example Camerupt, Camerupt is a really slow Pokemon but it have a nice typing since its an electric inmunity and fire type helps it to pressure TSS teams, Camerupt have Explosion which gives it another usage to break fat water types, at the moment with that small analysis I can get that I can use Camerupt as Zapdos / Jolteon / Gengar answer, it can pressure SkarmBliss teams and open holes for Salamence or Metagross since it can boom into Milotic or Suicune, if you toy with EV spread you can see it can outspeed fat Swampert and Slow Tyranitar, which makes it a viable option.

after that I chose the wincon or the strategy, I start finding a base where this can work, usually I think in what the Pokemon can do, how it can support the other pokemon and how it can win alone too, in this case Camerupt removing skarm, exploding into bulky water and stuff makes Salamence and Metagross strong options, both take advantage of Camerupt and they can sweep or put a lot of offensive pressure to opponent, Salamence also is a ground inmunity and have intimidate, only focusing into offense I already have natural defensive support for Metagross and Camerupt, while Metagross can switch into snorlax or aerodactyl, Metagross can boom as well and this gives me: Another way to create holes, take kills and defensive support.

after I found a base for the main wincon to have a nice support focusing only in ways to win I start adding more things that make the team work, for example in this 3 mons I saw my team needed more offensive pressure and ways to stop other archetypes, so I added Suicune and Snorlax, Snorlax gives me a third boom and special defensive backbone, Snorlax hates Gengar but Camerupt loves face it, while Suicune can sweep and tank a lot with CM Restalk, Suicune can 1v1 Tyranitar and other stuff, it dont mind switch into Earthquake while Camerupt loves switch into Electric types and Celebi

Finally after I have a solid base and a free slot, I choose what I need more, in this case I though I needed speed control and had room for offense so I picked Aerodactyl, Aerodactyl is one of the fastest pokemon in the metagame and CB Rock Slide can always win, this team had ways t remove Bulky Waters, Skarmory, Steels in general and Swampert, Aerodactyl needs all that supoort to end sweeping and thats how this team works.

after the team is done, I check if its too weak to Skarmory, if it can break most common archetypes, I think situations where you can lose and see if you can manage bad matchups, I check if the wincons can win, if the team can create scenarios where offensive mons can win, etc. when you focus only into defensive teams are too passive and cant break other defensive teams, for me the best way to create a great team is focus into the offense, as you saw focusing in your wincon or win plan you can naturally defend and break teams.

sorry my bad english, hope this can be understandable and great post.
Wanted to try and revive this thread bc I think it provides a great prompt for people not only for building in adv, but also building in general. I posted in the advcord that everytime I build w someone else, I realize how little I know about a tier I've been playing for the last 10 years and played on console when it came out (holy shit im old). Seeing how those heuristics bear out is the one of the cool things about competitive Pokemon. This is also just my perspective: there are many great ADV builders out there who see the tier much differently than I do.

EDIT -- I finished this up. tl;dr take an idea you have, try to look for other teams already used you enjoy to see if you can replicate something, and then have a heuristic if you handle major threats. Above all, test to see how your team performs in real games to see if works. Repeat to strengthen the team.

ADV is one of the most balanced gens in competitive Pokemon. Generally when I build, I typically start with what style I want to build. I am very influenced by the old Borat guide (the last iteration seen here) where all of my teams have to have some kind way of making progress. I would define most of my teams to be of the style "aggressive stall" in terms of being able to switch into major threats (the big three to me are a rock resist, offstar check, and heracross check, but there are others like being able to limit Skarm's spikes, prevent celebi from passing cm/sd, having at least one pokemon not affected by spikes, etc) while also having a gameplan. What that gameplan is depends on what I want to use: there are many, but some examples include spikes, trapping, set up spam, etc. Even my most dedicated stalls have a way of winning beyond PP stalling (but are not afraid of that).

How to accomplish that depends a lot on the style. To take an example, let's start if I want to build w cm rest suicune + dugtrio. From here, I generally think of what metagame factors limit that idea. Suicune has poor recovery exacerbated by being phased while asleep, is passive until it gets multiple boosts, is affected by spikes, and generally struggles to break through bulky grass types, electric types, and physical water/dragon types. Dugtrio traps dangerous threats to suicune like tyranitar and metagross while also potentially resetting the weather while being vulnerable to giving reverse set-ups or traps. So then where do we go from here? First, I like to figure out what kind of direction I want to go w for the team -- Will I go in an aggressive direction like this team I used against teclis last week : :jirachi: :dugtrio: :tyranitar: :zapdos: :machamp: :suicune:(skeleton import here) or will I try something more bulky a la this team mcmeghan used in adv cup: :blissey: :dugtrio: :skarmory: :suicune: :jirachi: :claydol: .

Since I built that first team, I can go through the teambuilding process and then extrapolate any overarching principles I use when I build. I wanted to go in an offensive direction against teclis. Once I decided that, I look to some more public replays to see what I can glean from what's already out there. Suicune + Dugtrio is a pretty common piece of a core; there are many viable version out there, but one place to look at is the zoomer classic :zapdos: :jirachi: :tyranitar: :breloom: :dugtrio: :suicune: that was spammed throughout callous invite and was popularized by fear (iirc, I know zom had a hera version that I first got the original from). This team has a lot of synergy: Zapdos + Dugtrio helps remove threats for jirachi and suicune, jirachi + breloom + suicune + dugtrio in theory is enough for rock resists and handling physical threats, tyranitar can pursuit gengar so gar spikes isnt as threatening; zap, a fast jirachi, and dugtrio is generally enough to survive against heracross for this kind of offense. However, from testing this kind of team out, I (these are known I just happened to notice them too) noticed some issues: bulky dd tar can be a real pain if it gets to +2 against zapdos or on dugtrio upon forcing out zapdos or jirachi. Zapdos is extremely hard to switch into long term. Suicune needs ice beam or else dd mence can be a real pain. It is difficult to force enough damage on swampert that jirachi's subcm tbolt/ice punch can break through. Gar will survive the pursuit and you have nothing to take a burn. I wanted to try and fix some of these issues when I built the team above and hope the offense I generate is enough to overcome the others. There is no such thing as a perfect team.

Firstly, Jirachi is an unusual lead. The idea here is that surviving rocks long term is difficult for zapdos + dugtrio teams, as either you sacrifice you zapdos (and your only ground immunity unless you use gar > loom and become even more weak to dd tar) t1 or you switch to loom/suicune (or pert) and take a huge hit. Jirachi tries to combat both the long term zapdos weakness by being specially bulky and toxicing it and the rock weakness by hp fighting ttar t1, which has good chances to 2hko a max hp ttar. Other special offenses like those that lead w jynx like to sacrifice it t1 to ice beam metagross and ttar leads -- you can do this too if you so choose and trap them. I got the idea to lead something specially defensive from the roro regice team seen here. From here, the other unusual mon you see is machamp. Machamp is a specially bulky dd tar counter that switches in and a) ohkos gar w hp ghost while taking its hits well and b) is a viable option to subpass to. Another line you can try is to hard zapdos on metagross t1 and sub on the switch out. if they go ttar, your sub survives both crunch and rock slide, meaning you get a free focus punch. Machamp also is never ohkoed by ddtar without a crit, so you dont have to let your suicune or dugtrio be your only answer/can be slower or less strong to better trap other things. Going w machamp that answers gengar allows you to regain some of your sweeping prowess of spdef jirachi > subcm by going bulky lum ddtar > pursuit tar. It also gives you a back up answer to salamence in case suicune takes too much damage. You can select the rest of your sets accordingly: Suicune needs to have ice beam, or else your salamence answer is too weak, but also needs bulk/rest to answer rocks and swampert long term. How did i know these were all metagame factors I needed to address? I practiced a lot w both the archetype and the team.

From baring this out, generally what I need to see in a team I like are handling metagame trends in adv that i mentioned above (rock resist, offstar check, and heracross answer among others). I am in the bkc camp that i typically do not ignore threats in the teambuilder -- i try to be able to either out offense or at least have a check to everything in the metagame. My teams also generally always have a plan to the pace, whether thats spikes, a set up threat, trappers, sleep, etc. I also try to avoid having teams that are too grounded or I can't handle spikes long term. Some of these heuristics are complimentary -- heracross answers are generally not grounded, offstar checks can generally help you team survive long term against spikes, etc.

The idea phase is typically where I find myself negotiating mus. In the above example, picking your suicune and dugtrio set can help organize your mus. Will you choose a suicune set that better sweeps teams lacking bliss in full out offcune? Or will you try a cm rest variant that can handle metagame factors a bit better? Will your dugtrio be fat? Slow? adamant? Another way to do it is for example Charizard + Breloom as an idea. Charizard is very effective against bulky tss that lack suicune or milotic, whereas breloom is quite effective against non only sleep those, but also against more offensive teams zard might struggle w. I typically find myself emulating someone like altina (and by extension, astamatitos) and their builds a lot. The best way to improve your building is to get out there and try stuff!

Thank you for reading so far!
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