Hey there everyone!
You might be finding this article in your quest to start learning about PvP, you might be looking to up your knowledge to hit the next tier of ranked play in GO Battle League in Season 12 - or maybe even you’ve registered and signed up to participate in Regionals or an upcoming Mazer Regional Rumble?! (Shameless plug!)
In any of the cases above, you’ve come to the right place. Over the upcoming weeks, the Mazer team will be releasing content to help you prepare to be the best battler you can be, in any facet you find yourself. We are titling the series the Regionals Prep Guide for those planning to attend the upcoming Indianapolis, Vancouver, Milwaukee or Columbus events - but this information should be applicable to battlers of all types!
This article will feature insight into fundamentals of team-building and cores, as well as insight and tips from the best set of Pokémon Go PvP players out there, the Mazer Main Team and Mazer Academy. There hasn’t been an updated version of this information in quite some time in the PvP community - so I’m stoked to tackle this gargantuan topic for you and hope that it brings you value!
With that said, let’s jump in!
Team-Building Bootcamp - Defining What it Means to Build a Great PvP Team
(DISCLAIMER: If you are a seasoned battler - you can likely move onto the next section!)
Things you’ll need:
- An understanding of the league/cup at stake
- Great/Ultra/Master League? CP cap? Cup limitations?
- Pokémon built to meet those standards
- pvpoke.com + www.stadiumgaming.gg
We’ll keep this really simple! First - pick out the league or cup at hand and analyze the limitations involved. Without this information, you’ll waste valuable resources building Pokémon that can’t battle in the particular rule set.
When you have an idea of the rules and some Pokémon you’d like to test out, the best places I can point you to are to pvpoke.com and www.stadiumgaming.gg. These sites are a compilation of statistical data points on Pokemon in relationship to:
1. Their moveset, bulk, consistency and overall rank in comparison to the Pokémon that are available to choose from in the selection pool in question.
2. Insight into the IV ranking of your specific Pokemon and its usefulness in PvP play.
Using these two pieces of information - you can be sure that the Pokémon you are testing out are suited for the tournament you’re entering. If you find that they are not highly ranked in either area, it might be best to try and consider another option.
From here, you can begin to build a team - whether on your own or using the great ‘Team Builder’ on pvpoke.com - based upon the meta of the league or cup.
The ‘meta’ - a term we will utilize throughout the remainder of the article - is defined by the best of the best Pokémon (or most popularized Pokémon) in the pool of choices. The more limited the selection pool, the more critical the meta will become in influencing your choices for team-building.
Armed with all this knowledge, you can begin piecing together a team with relevant, meta Pokémon that compliment one another (or maybe even some spicy, out-of-the-box picks!) - primarily due to typing and movesets. The better you understand the super-effective, neutral and not-very-effective type natures of your team, the better split-decision maker you will be in the battle itself. If you’d like a quick link to a type chart to study up, you can find one here. (Shoutout to Silph Arena for the great type chart!)
That’s a wrap on bootcamp - now let’s get into some examples.
Understanding What Makes a Great Core
The best part about team-building is uncovering great synergy between Pokemon that lead to really consistent matchups throughout the course of a battle.
A core - a pair or trio of Pokémon that work well together in battle - is the foundation to any great PvP team. A core is highlighted, and is usually popularized, because of its ability to cover a a great swath of the meta of a certain cup without yet bringing in additional pieces to the team. The coupling is most often seen in a Lead/Closer relationship - where a Pokemon opens up the battle and takes a strong position then the paired Pokemon can finish up the counters to the lead in the back. This is often called a duo core.
Let’s take a look at a couple of key meta examples from the most recent Great League meta analysis over on pvpoke.com. I’ll challenge you to take the methodology you see here to build out your own great core - while super-meta picks are not always required, you can have alot of fun seeing the coverage you can get from even spicer picks as well.
Example: The core of all cores - Swampert + Skarmory
Even in the most recent of metas - a lot can be learned from breaking down what is argued to be a perfect (and very predictable) core in Swampert + Skarmory.
When you plug this pair into the Team Builder tool on PvPoke, what is the first thing that you notice about the matchup output? They are nearly opposite.
This is a very good thing, as the complimentary nature of the matchups bodes well for the ability for this duo of Pokémon to handle any team that comes their way.
Another way to think about this is from a typing perspective: Swampert is Water + Ground type and thus susceptible to Grass and other Ground type moves. Skarmory, a Steel and Flying type, resists both of those attacks. In essence, any Pokémon that Swampert is weak to, Skarmory can hang with. This is a key approach to a great foundational core.
Below are a couple of other examples you can take a look at - I’ve provided the direct link to the matchups over on PvPoke:
Ultimately, you can mess around with this idea for a long time! There are endless possibilities - which is what makes PvP (in my humble opinion) so much fun.
An additional piece of info here: You can extend this idea to encompass the third anchor of a team of three - the safe swap. When you lose hard on the lead, (take a Venusaur in our Swampert + Skarmory example) you want to be able to gain back switch advantage by toggling to another Pokémon in hopes that Skarmory can come back around to line up with the Venusaur down the line.
A safe swap usually is spammier in nature, with the ability to pressure shields in order to get the opponent in a down position so that you can come back in a take control after a rough start. Ideally, the safe swap could also draw out any additional counters to your heavy hitters so that way they can come back into the fold and wreck.
Teams that do this really well are considered to be trio cores, encompassing multiple pairings that aid each other.
Tips From the Pros - Mazer Main Team and Mazer Academy
For our last section, we’ll get some great tips from our Mazer Main Team and Mazer Academy Team - some of the best battlers out there - on how they approach team building. It was a treat to chat with each of these battlers and I hope you find their nuggets of wisdom helpful in your own builds!
TIP #1: Build a balanced (or unbalanced!) team - counter your lead’s counters.
One great method of construction that our Mazer Teams often recommended was to think about countering your lead’s counters. If you can answer ‘What is my lead weak to?’ and there is answer in your backline, then you have created a feasible team construction for competition.
Whether this results in a balanced ABC type line - where every Pokémon supports the other - or an ABB type line - where the lead (A) is covered by two similar types that counter what the lead is weak to (BB) - the team construction allows for a defined playstyle and the ability to ensure that you have an answer for your weakness.
For you Show-6 tourney participants, it’s a good idea to have multiple options for each role in your lineup of six, hopefully to construct an on-the-spot response to the team of six your opponent brings to the table.
I prefer two bulky Pokémon in back and one of them makes a good catch for what my lead is weak to...I draw stuff out if I can - (typically) with an ABB type line. -@4theBattles
I try and make sure my back line can handle whatever the lead Pokémon is weak to. For example, if I lead a Venusaur, I know it does very poorly against flying types. To accommodate that, I might have two steel types in the back, or a steel and an electric type. That way, if they lead a Skarmory, you can safe swap into the steel type, while having another answer to the flying type later on. - @PurpleKyogre
Once I have the Pokémon picked that I want to play, I will attempt to balance a team around it based on what would be a good safe swap to gain shield or switch advantage based on current meta Pokémon. - @thebiebsbro
Tip #2: Study up and use it to your team-building advantage
There are a ton of great tools out there for understanding the current meta and PvP in general. Just a shortlist here:
- Current YouTube content on Pokémon Go PvP
- Silph Arena Popular Teams
- WildSusanBoyle’s PvP Basics eBook
We live in the information age - where battlers have ample tools to learn exactly what is good and bad in the meta. However, these tools can be used to a unique advantage as often, the content-focused Pokémon start to become more popular. Therefore, you could argue building anti-meta teams against that Pokémon is the best strategy.
The meta and the current state of popularity of given Pokémon are always changing, so make sure you have a pulse on the current meta picks in the content world to be sure you are always in tune to the best combination of usefulness and uniqueness.
It depends on the meta but I always consult related meta YT videos and pvpoke.com before a tournament starts...I find I do much better if I can give myself some buffer with health and some spice, hoping my opponent won’t know all the counts/match ups for unfamiliar Pokémon*. -@GracieZ
For show 6 tournaments, I always look for teams other people are using on Silph and I try to use Pokémon that are good against those teams... - @C9Snow
When I build my teams I like to take into account what other people are using and what the meta currently looks like. I try to build my teams around a Pokémon I think that would perform very well in the state of the game. - @PoGoDylan
Tip #3: Comfort is key.
Everyone has their favorite pair of jeans. They just fit so well. You can dance when Lizzo comes on your dance mix in your living room with ease.
That’s how your PvP team should feel.
The more comfortable you are with your squad, ttheir timing, their move counts, available HP, damage that they take from particular attacks and overall amount of fun you have using them all play into success at the tournament level. Even if it’s the oldest and most boring Pokémon in the meta, if it gets you a W, who cares?
I build teams the same way season after season. I choose a Pokémon that I LIKE! - @HMLondon
In my opinion the most important part of team building is using the Pokémon that you want to use. In PoGo, and even esports in general, experience triumphs. Knowing what mons you like and have experience using, in GBL for example, will help you massively in other formats. - @0xScourge
Use GBL to get to know every Pokémon. My best piece of advice. It doesn’t matter if you lose there, not if you don’t let it, and it’s so so good to learn. I was very uncomfortable with Trevenant until I learned it there. - @4theBattles
Tip #4: IV’s, Move counting and Real-time strategy.
When you start entering into the heavy tournament space, the little things start to matter more and more. In Pokémon Go PvP, this includes things like:
Move counts - which you can’t mention without the graphics of Seven
IV Spreads + Breakpoints - which you can confirm using https://www.stadiumgaming.gg/
(Disclaimer: While IV’s are very helpful in the ability to get a high stat product under the CP cap - they are not the end all be all. If you really need a particular Pokémon in order to round out your team and the IV’s aren’t 100% perfect, it’s worth checking it out anyways. We’ll flush this out in another article soon!)
Team of 6 selection strategies
These are much more advanced ideas that will be broken down in later Regional Prep Guide articles, but our Mazer Team mentioned them enough in the aspects of team building that it is worth a brief mention in this article as well.
Main key ideas to takeaway:
- Check your specific Pokémon’s ability to win/lose matchups, you might be surprised at the matchups you pick up with your extra +1 attack IV
- Know the move counts of some main meta Pokémon so that you know when someone is overcharging and so that you know the speed and flexibility of your own team of three
- When building a team of six, you have the ability to play games and strategize further based on what you see come up in your matchup. Allow yourself some freedom to make real-time decisions in the tournament with how you build out your team of six.
The most important thing I can say is know YOUR Pokémon. The more familiar you are with the Pokémon, the more effective you’ll be able to use it in battle. But not just the species, not just that Azumarill beats Altaria, but how well does YOUR Azumarill do against Altaria? - @mrdoctorpants
When picking 3 in the show 6 I try to see which 1 or 2 of my Pokémon are strong against the other team and also which ones of their team are strong against me so I built the play strategy around this Pokémon. - @C9Snow
And that is all I have! If you made it this far, I commend you and thank you for reading! Go out there and get some W’s, folks!
-Doctor Boo (@DoctorBooGo)
For more information about our next Regional Rumble or how you can get plugged in more with all thing Mazer - check out our Discord here: https://discord.gg/HNW9ZQWF