Chapter 1: Introduction
Hi, I’m SherIockHolmes and I’m a member of team lava, this is my first time posting a topic in the forums and I hope this guide helps you whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. This guide aims to generalize competitive Double Battles in order to attract newer players and even veteran players to learn more about the art of double battles as there are more to it than what it looks like in the surface. I’m doing all this because Doubles is the best and fun tier out there because of its big brain battle process. Take in mind that his guide is a combination of all resources and my own experience that I gained along the way as I learn competitive double battling. I hope you take some time to read the entire article, I’d gladly appreciate if you do and learned a thing or two from it!
1.1 What is Doubles? How is it different? Why does it matter?
Double Battles is a tier in competitive battling where players send out two Pokémon in the field. It’s different from other tiers because double battles tend to be fast-paced and focused on hitting spread move damages to finish the battle quickly. It’s a great tier to train your wits as there are many factors to consider when playing double battles such as: Typing, Threats, Pressure, Roles, and Movesets of all four Pokémon that is on the field in order to get the right call and predict properly.
In double battles, attacks that hit both opposing Pokemon are called spread attacks, and are only 75% of their usual base power. Spread attacks hit the teammate's Pokemon first, and then all of the opponent's Pokemon at the same time. The order of all Pokemon's moves is determined before the turn begins because of speed ties (Rakhmaninov has a guide on this one which you can check out here:
There are certain rules, clauses, and ban items that can be checked in-game. The goal of every battle is as we all know, to knockout every opposing Pokémon in the field. In some double battle tournaments, Sleep Clause and Evasion Clause are not in effect. This is balanced when considering evasion is very difficult to set up in such a fast-paced game, and many of the Pokemon that can learn Sleep-inducing moves have a below average base Speed. The most accurate Sleep-inducing move, Spore, only targets one opposing Pokemon at a time.
Chapter 2: The META
2.1 Common Pokémon
This can also be checked in-game in the Statistics section. @OrangeManiac and @Rakhmaninov has also made an incredible on each Pokémon which you can check out here:
2.2 Popular Abilities
Inner Focus is especially useful in double battles because of the widespread use of Fake Out. The Fake Out user is forced to hit your other Pokemon. Inner Focus eases prediction and allows the Pokemon with the ability to carry out an attack or strategy turn 1.
Intimidate lowers both opposing Pokemon's Attack one stage before moves are chosen. Due to the high usage of Earthquake, Rock Slide, and physical priority attacks, Intimidate can change a crucial OHKO to a 2HKO and render some Pokemon completely useless until they switch out.
Prankster allows the instant set up of strategies such as Tailwind, Charm, Encore, or Thunder Wave. This can completely disrupt the opponent's team. Prankster strategies are very difficult to prevent without Fake Out support or a Dark Type Pokemon that is immune to any status condition thrown by Prankster users such as Whimsicott
Volt Absorb, Motor Drive, Dry Skin, Water Absorb, and Flash Fire gives immunity to a type as well as boosting a stat or replenishing HP. Lightningrod and Storm Drain do the same thing, but draw in those types of attacks to target the Pokemon with the ability. These abilities can discourage common spread moves such as Discharge or Heat Wave.
One of the abilities that we will rarely see is Telepathy. It is one of the best strategic abilities in double battles but without Hidden Abilities, Elgyem is the only Pokemon capable of having this ability. With immunity to being attacked by their partners, Pokemon with Telepathy become important to teams that utilize moves such as Surf and Earthquake. Levitate is similar in this regard, providing an immunity to the common Earthquake from both your teammate and the opponent's Pokemon.
2.3 Popular Items
Focus Sash is used quite often in double battles due to the presence of so many strong attacks and spread moves. The chance of being OHKOed is much more likely, so frailer Pokemon tend to hold a Focus Sash. The lack of entry hazards in double battles rarely causes it to break.
Type resist berries are extremely popular. They are invaluable for surviving an attack from a specific threat. On the other hand, type-boosting Gems boost a single attack for a one time use. Double battles are usually short enough that one boosted attack is enough to decide the outcome.
Type-boosting Gems do not have the drawback of being locked in to one move, like Choice items do. They also make it difficult to switch out of a dangerous attack, as the Pokemon holding the Gem can just use another attack the following turn. Because of this, Gem-boosted moves are always a safe choice.
Life Orb may be the superior item in some situations, but Item Clause prevents you from using more than one. Pokemon holding type boosting Gems can also use Protect to play defensively and attack when the time is right.
Mental Herb allows the holder to instantly recover from many pseudo-status moves, the most important of which are Taunt and Encore. With a Mental Herb on a support Pokemon, non-attacking strategies such as Trick Room or Thunder Wave are practically guaranteed to work.
In terms of recovery, Sitrus Berry is preferred over Leftovers because it immediately restores HP and can help the Pokemon holding the Berry survive multiple spread moves. Double battles rarely last long enough for Leftovers to be more beneficial than Sitrus Berry. Lum Berry is a handy item to prevent the untimely paralysis from Discharge or getting burned by Will-o-Wisp and Heat Wave.
2.4 Supporting Moves
As we all know, spread moves are the most common moves we’d see in double battles but support moves are far superior than that because it can disrupt the opposing team’s strategy or help your team setup your own strategy aswell which is why some Pokemon that are not that viable in other tiers are of much more value in Doubles such as Amoonguss and Hitmontop. Support moves are quite common in double battles, even on offensive teams. These types of moves are almost required in order to maintain control of the battle.
Protect is arguably the best move in double battles. It can be used to scout for threatening moves, stop Fake Out, stall out Tailwind or Trick Room, and protect one Pokemon from a threat while taking it out with the other. Detect is similar to Protect, but is rarely affected by Imprison. Quick Guard stops your Pokemon from being attacked by any priority moves such as Fake Out or Bullet Punch. This is a very useful move considering the high usage of priority attacks. Wide Guard prevents damage from all spread moves to both Pokemon on the turn that it is used, making it incredibly effective at stopping strategies that focus on wearing down the opponent with spread moves. Take in mind that all these can be impaled by Feint, an interesting priority move that breaks any type of protection and deals additional damage to those who uses protect, wide guard, and even quick guard!
Fake Out is a fantastic move that can stop the opponent's strategy for one turn, render a faster threat useless, and break a Focus Sash. However, Ghost-type Pokemon and Pokemon with the ability Inner Focus are immune to Fake Out and can easily carry out their strategy. Protect also stops Fake Out from becoming a problem. Tailwind and Trick Room change the order in which the Pokemon move. These moves are used to allow slower Pokemon to hit hard before getting hit, or double the speed of Pokemon with a mediocre Speed stat. Tailwind and Trick Room can easily change the tide of the battle if the opponent let you set these up as you get the upper hand in speed control which is most essential in double battles.
Helping Hand is a support move that bulkier Pokemon tend to utilize. Boosting its partner's attacks by 50% for one turn, Helping Hand can compensate for the power drop of spread moves and turn a 2HKO into an OHKO. It also has an incredible +5 priority. Helping Hand fits into just about any strategy, making it all the more threatening. Follow Me or Rage Powder are useful moves that draw in the opponent's attacks to hit the user. Follow Me can be used to draw in a not very effective attack aimed at another Pokemon. It can also be used to set up a strategy, such as Trick Room, or a boosting move. These moves ease prediction and protect weaker Pokemon from strong single target attacks. These types of support moves are used more often in Setup teams to boost the process and help its allies to setup faster and prevent any type of disruption from the opponent.
2.5 META Shifting
META stands for most effective tactics at the moment but when it shifts, what do we call it then? A re-META, anti-META, or new META? Well, to put it shortly, it all began when Garchomp used to have Swords Dance, it became the strongest Pokemon no doubt during Season 1 so every player has to either have one on their team or a way to counter Setup Garchomps in one way or another. This is where the meta shapes itself and ever since Garchomp got nerfed and lost Swords Dance, everyone had to find a new way to dominate the ladders and create a new meta. Hence, the rise of Sand Teams which got countered by Rain Teams and became a new meta, the Rain Teams gets countered by Trick Room when properly used and became a new meta, the Trick Room teams gets countered by Tailwind when they can’t setup Trick Room, and the Tailwind teams gets broken by New Setup teams which we see today because of their offensive pressure and tailwind teams not having much of an answer against them, and so on. As long as there are players playing the game, the meta will keep on shifting in a cycle like a rock paper and scissors or the dog and mouse circle.
Chapter 3: Teambuilding
3.1 Using Popular Teams
Many players you might see when spectating others, use teams that others have built. These may be teams that have done well in previous tournaments in the format, teams that someone they believe to be good at teambuilding have given them, teams they found or saw online and recreated, et cetera. Even though teambuilding is a fundamental part of the game, you don’t have to do it yourself. Building a good team is a way of giving yourself the best tools possible to win, but battling and making use of those tools is what determines victory. In other words: you can’t play competitive Pokémon without battling, but you can play without building.
You can check out Rakhmaninov’s teambuilding compendium here which highlights all popular metagame teams which has won and dominated tournaments before:
3.2 Concrete Building Blocks
Thinking about the type chart when teambuilding. A common misconception is that your Pokémon team needs to cover all types offensively (need to be able to hit every type for super effective) or defensively (need to be able to resist every attack). In fact, typing is slightly more contextual than that. You’re going to want to get a sense of which Pokémon will be attacking you most frequently; your own experience or usage stats can be a great source of information. You will want some balance on your team’s types, however– you don’t want a common Pokémon to be able to plow through your team! Make sure that you have Pokémon that can switch in on common attacks for each other.
As previously mentioned, you’ll need a handful of Pokemon that can support your team and get out of sticky situation. You might want to consider adding a great support Pokemon in your team such as Togekiss, Blastoise, or Whimsicott.
Status Moves - Status conditions can be devastating when utilized properly. A status condition is one of: Sleep, Burn, Freeze, Paralysis, and Poison (Confusion is not considered a status condition as it is cured by switching out your Pokémon, unlike the others). Status conditions offer some sort of negative effect on the Pokémon they’re inflicted on. If ranked, I would say Freeze is the best as you can either thaw yourself, thaw by luck, or never thaw at all. Freeze>>>Paralysis>>Burn/Poison>Sleep.
Screens - It refers to the moves Reflect, Light Screen, and Aurora Veil. These are powerful support moves that decrease incoming damage to ⅔ their original value in double battles for 5 or 8 turns (NOTE! This is different than singles which is a ½ reduction!).
Stat Dropping Moves - Lowering your opponent's Pokémon's stats is one way of disrupting their gameplan. These moves take many different forms - the most common of them lower the opponents speed, which we touched on earlier. Other moves that have seen play include Fake Tears, which lowers the opponent's Special Defense two stages and sets up for easy KOs, Snarl which lowers the opponent’s Special Attack, Screech which lowers the opponent’s Defense, and Charm, which lowers opposing Pokémon's Attack stats by one stage.
Setup Moves - Setting up a Pokémon is a high risk, high reward activity. For that reason, these Pokémon are often paired with supporting Pokémon that can protect them while they’re vulnerable. Moves like Fake Out and Follow Me/Rage Powder have had the most success thus far for protecting their partners.
Recovery Moves - Recovery moves typically do best on Pokémon that are naturally very bulky and want to gradually chip away at their opponents. A Pokémon can make good use of a recovery move if you expect most neutral attacks to do a maximum of 40% damage. Porygon2, Dusclops, and Milotic are good examples of Pokémon that utilize recovery moves well.
Anti-Setup(Haze/Roar) - Pokémon that have the ability to set up are extremely dangerous, and extra measures are needed to stop them. The main culprits are stat boosts (e.g. Gliscor, Poliwrath, Hydreigon, Kingdra) and Trick Room.
Weather - Although the most consistent way of setting weather is to use a Pokémon with an ability that sets up the weather, there are times where having one of the weather setting moves can be helpful (referred to as "manual weather"). Typically, only Sunny Day and Rain Dance are used. Since Sun and Rain are opposite weathers, having a way to get the weather up AFTER your opponent has switched in their weather setter can be valuable. Manual weather is most powerful on dedicated weather teams.
Ally Switch - One of the most controversial moves of all time, Ally Switch switches the position of your two Pokémon, meaning any moves aimed at Pokémon 1 will instead land on Pokémon 2 and vice versa. It’s a move that is best when your opponent doesn’t know you have it, and thereafter forces difficult decisions from both players. Users such as Hitmontop usually run Fake Out, Feint, Close Combat, and Wide Guard but sometimes it can run Ally Switch on some team, unless you’re using a setup team it won’t be a surprise factor anymore.
Although both players input their moves at the same time during a battle, Pokémon move in an order determined by their Speed stat. This makes the Speed stat one of the most fundamental elements of a Pokémon battle. Moves that alter Speed stats or otherwise change the order in which the Pokémon move in during a turn are referred to as “Speed control”. Types of Speed Control:
1. Tailwind – it doubles the speed of your party for 3 turns.
2. Trick Room – it ensures that the slowest Pokemon in the field will move first, the fastest moves last.
3. Speed Drops – Moves like icy wind, electroweb, and the less commonly used bulldoze fall under this type of speed control.
4. Speed Boosts – Pokemon with Speed boost ability or Choice Scarf holders.
5. Priority Moves – Pokemon with decent priority moves such as Bullet Punch (e.g. Metagross and Scizor)
6. Natural Speed – Pokemon that are naturally fast such as Crobat and Jolteon are useful in faster teams and those that are naturally slower like Gigalith and Torkoal are good Trick Room abusers.
7. Others – Thunder Wave, Trick Lagging Tail, and Quash.
What Item Should I Use?
We’ve already discussed about the common items used in-game but if you’re still undecided on what’s the perfect item to equip, let’s get right into it!
Recovery – Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Aguav Berry
Damage Output – Choice Items, Life Orb
Damage Survivability – Type-Resist Berries, Eviolite, Focus Sash
Support – Lum Berry, Light Clay
How do I choose an item for my Pokémon?
Nearly every good item choice on a Pokémon will do one of two things for a Pokémon: bolster a strength or mitigate a faiblesse. Let’s look into these a little deeper.
Identify your Pokemon’s strength
· Does your Pokémon naturally threaten high amounts of damage? Consider adding a Choice Band, Choice Specs, or Life Orb to become even more threatening
· Is your Pokémon threatening because it outputs big damage and also has good staying power? Consider a type boosting item like Magnet or a Sitrus Berry
· Is your Pokémon a defensive wall who whittles away at opponents over time, such as Togekiss or Blastoise? Consider increasing its staying power with Leftovers.
· Is your Pokémon most threatening when moving first? Consider the Choice Scarf item.
These are just a few examples of things you might consider when augmenting something your Pokemon does well. Experiment with different items so you can learn which Pokemon they are strongest on.
· Is your Pokémon weak to a common type in the Metagame? Consider a type-resist berry such as Shuca Berry
· Is your Pokémon fast and frail and finds itself getting knocked out in one hit? Consider a Focus Sash
· Is your Pokémon getting KO’d in two hits often? Consider adding a Sitrus Berry
It’s worth noting that these questions are about the Pokémon we’re using, not the items themselves - you can add the same item (such as Sitrus Berry) to either bolster a strength or mitigate a weakness. As you get more experience with Items it will become easier to identify what each of your Pokémon needs!
3.3 Abstract Building Blocks
Synergy is a broad term used in teambuilding to talk about how well your Pokémon work together. Here are a few quick examples of synergy:
· Weather Setter and Weather Sweeper (e.g. Pelipper + Kingdra): Pelipper’s Drizzle Ability sets up the rain for Kingdra’s Swift Swim ability and Water-type attacks.
· Fake Out and Trick Room (e.g. Hariyama+Reuniclus): Using Fake Out causes one of your opponent’s Pokémon to flinch, meaning an ally Pokémon can use Trick Room more easily
· Trick Room setters and slow attackers (sweepers) (e.g. Dusclops+Tyranitar): Using Trick Room allows other slow attackers to move first.
· Intimidate and frail partners (e.g. Salamence+Tyranitar): A Pokemon with Intimidate drops opponent’s Attack, meaning that ally Pokémon with lower physical Defense stats have more breathing room
· Pokémon that slow the pace of the game down and Pokémon that like to set up (e.g. Electabuzz+Hydreigon): One Pokémon slows your opponents momentum by fake out or speed reduction, while the partner becomes gradually stronger.
These Pokémon combinations play out in different ways, which demonstrates the scope of synergy’s effect on a battle. Furthermore, as you can see above, the synergy between the Pokémon depends on what each contributing Pokémon is capable of– typing, stats, moves, and abilities all affect how your team will work together. The synergy between two or more Pokémon is roughly broken down into two main categories: offensive synergy and defensive synergy.
These synergies are not binary: different Pokémon combinations will have different amounts of offensive and defensive synergy. To return to our examples above:
· Pelipper and Kingdra: This pair has offensive synergy with its strong and fast Rain-boosted attacks. However, Pelipper and Kingdra don’t really have defensive synergy: they are weak to similar attacks, and can’t protect each other from Pokémon that threaten super effective damage.
· Fake Out and Trick Room: We wouldn’t really classify Fake Out with Trick Room as a defensive synergy, although it allows the attack to go off, so this combination is synergistic to some extent.
· Trick Room setters and slow attackers (sweepers): This is a purely offensive synergy; when Trick Room gets up, the slow attackers move first.
· Intimidate and frail partners: This is a defensive synergy: Intimidate allows the defensively weak partner to attack in situations where it may otherwise be threatened.
· Setup and Slowdown Pokémon: These Pokémon are often naturally defensive, and by working together, they can increase their defensive position while gradually threatening offense.
Offensive and defensive synergy are ultimately defined by how the Pokémon work together towards your goal of winning the battle. Do these Pokémon work together by taking knockouts at a brisk pace or by firing off strong attacks that opponents can’t withstand? Or do they work together by tactically covering each other’s bases, positioning and grinding out the opponent until you reach certain victory?
A core is a group of Pokémon that synergize so well that their synergy is a defining factor of how your team plays. The Pokémon in a core often aid each other both offensively (hitting different parts of the type chart for super effective, working together to take KOs, etc.) and defensively (switching in on super effective/threatening attacks for each other).
It is simply a natural extension of the synergy that you’ll build into your team at the beginning of the teambuilding process. Defining a core is practically useful to think about during teambuilding because once you have established a core, it can provide direction for your team, and you can base your remaining Pokémon slots on supporting its strengths and covering its weaknesses.
Tailwind – Crobat/Mienshao/Chandelure: an interesting core that stops Trick Room and ensures tailwind.
Rain – Pelipper/Kingdra/Jolteon: the classic rain where Kingdra abuses and Jolteon as a pivot.
Sand – Tyranitar/Excadrill/Salamence: it aims to setup tailwind or sand for excadrill to start rampaging opponents.
Trick Room – Hariyama/Reuniclus/Tyranitar: it focuses on the Fighting-Psychic-Dark Core where they cover each of their weaknesses.
Setup – Electabuzz/Hydreigon/Hitmontop: it makes sure the setter gets to setup without fail while covering each of their weaknesses.
How “lucky” or “unlucky” you are in Pokémon is determined by a lot more than your karma or random variance. There’s a lot that goes into whether a player is “lucky” or not, much of which is within a player's control. While this concept might be easy to understand in theory, it is difficult to internalize, even for the most advanced players. This article will cover the teambuilding part of improving your luck.
Take Control of the Odds
A player who prioritizes accurate moves in the teambuilding process is far less likely to lose games due to missing a move than a player who does not. This isn’t to say accuracy is the end-all, be-all of teambuilding - sometimes you need to run an inaccurate move to bring out the maximum value in a Pokemon. That being said, whenever you choose to use a move that is not a guaranteed hit you should be thinking about whether you are likely to have alternatives (such as Dragon Claw and Draco Meteor on the same Pokemon) as well as the scenarios where you will be forced to rely on the move.
Moving consistently after your opponent (having a team with poor Speed control) is implicitly risky. By moving after your opponent you’re risking critical hits and secondary effects (Scald burns, Thunderbolt paralysie, Muddy Water accuracy drops, etc) that might be prevented by attacking first. One of the best ways to ensure you avoid negative RNG is to knock out your opponent’s Pokemon before it can attack - after all, a fainted Pokemon can’t crit or flinch you. To set up opportunities for your Pokemon to move first, focus on speed control with fast Pokemon, the item Choice Scarf, or moves such as Tailwind, Icy Wind, and Trick Room.
Pay Attention to Team Composition
Certain playstyles can also be more susceptible to poor luck. If a team is very fast and frail, a single bit of bad luck can cause a domino effect that can cost the whole game. However, a team that is too defensive can lose too much offensive presence by a surprise knockout or status effect. Additionally, a team that is stretched too thin and relies too heavily on any one Pokémon for a specific matchup is susceptible to losing games due to a single bit of bad luck.
Surprise factor is a blanket term to talk about unorthodox options in Pokémon-- as players figure out what is strong within a format, standardization occurs, and by deviating from that, you can catch people off guard. This can be as simple as switching around the way a Pokémon is trained - for example, going faster on a support Pokémon than expected. Other options include running an unusual move or item on one of your Pokémon or even running a Pokémon that isn’t popular in order to catch opponents off guard. You can also use Pokémon in tandem in surprising ways - two priority moves or a surprise boost to your partner to pick up a surprise KO are some examples of combinations that can quickly swing a match.
3.4 Team Playstyle and Pace
We describe a team's playstyle in terms of how the Pokémon on the team affect the rate at which battles progress. Battles can have different paces: a fast-paced battle features lots of KOs and is over in a few turns, and a slow-paced battle is a grindfest where both players spend a lot of effort positioning and less time dealing damage. Certain Pokémon lend themselves well to either a fast or slow pace. Generally, a team falls into one of three categories of team playstyle based on its pace. These terms should be used to help you think about how a team achieves its goals. Think of these terms not as a roadmap for where your team should go next; but a toolkit to analyze how your team will function in battle.
· Hyper Offense: These teams tend to use fast but frail Pokémon to overwhelm the opponent. They typically value speed control and damage output over defensive switches and defensive typing. Hyper offense teams want to do a lot of damage fast- for a game to go beyond 8 turns would be unusual. Because of this, they are often prone to big momentum swings. They typically excel when they are in the driver's seat, and will collapse quickly if they end up out of position.
· Bulky Offense: This style of team focuses on balance - they want Pokémon with good defensive typing and good stats to allow them to maneuver their Pokémon around safely, but not at the expense of their damage output. Bulky offense teams value both offensive capabilities and making use of synergistic defensive typing. They’ll often have multiple ways of influencing the board state with speed control and other disruptive moves. It would be typical for a game with bulky offense teams to last between 8 and 12 turns.
· Hyper Defense: Some players (not me) prefer to play a more defensive style. These teams tend to focus significantly on the defensive capabilities of their Pokémon, and may employ tactics such as recovery and setup (especially defense enhancing setup moves such as Barrier/Calm Mind) to outlast their opponents. Lowering the opponent’s offensive capabilities with moves such as Snarl, Will-O-Wisp, and Light Screen allow defensive teams to control the pace of the game and disrupt their opponents’ offensive capabilities. Typically these teams tend to take 10-15 turns to win a game.
3.5 Customizing EVs, considering speed ties and survivability
You don’t have to always customize your EV as a beginner and use simple 252/252 EVs or EV spreads from common teams that we’ve mentioned before and can be found from Rakhmaninov’s Team Compedium with pokepastes in it.
You only really need to customize your EV when you are bothered by a certain threat to your team such as Reuniclus living a crunch from Tyranitar and hitting it back with Focus Blast/HP Fighting. Sometimes it’s outspeeding a certain Pokemon outside or under Trick Room while retaining damage.
Calc.pokemonshowdown.com will be your best friend in calculating damage so go ahead and don’t be afraid to do trial and errors until you get the perfect EV bump that you need to survive or outspeed a threat.
Also check out @Rakhmaninov's guide on speed ties in order to build a general knowledge on who's the fastest/slowest:
Goodstuff is a unique style of team. Goodstuff teams do not conform to one simple strategy. Instead, they try to win by having a stronger offensive presence. These teams can deal with all types of teams effectively, and generally have a unique or uncommon approach to winning. Goodstuff teams might carry a Taunt user for Trick Room, a bulky Thunder Wave user for weather and Tailwind teams, and maintain good synergy. All in all, these styles of teams are most balanced, but the most difficult to create.
3.7 On Paper vs Finalization
Your team might be good on paper but never be satisfied by it! On paper will be your scratch, showdown will be your draft, calcs will be your revisions, and breeding and training your Pokemon in-game and actually testing it in a battle will be your final product, it might cost a lot but that’s how Doubles is. Always have a friend or teammate to help you spar or coach you when on queue (I mean let’s be honest I’m sure some players are coached in ranked matches but don’t do this during a tournament, just have a guide on decision making and picking the right moves when you’re still starting)
Chapter 4: How to Battle
4.1 General Principles of Doubles PvP
Proactive Actions – it is straightforwardly dealing the first blood in a battle, the first to move and deal damage, the first to take momentum during Turn 1.
Reactive Actions – if you know that a certain threat to your team emits from the opposing side, react immediately to this. How will you counter their moves? How will you prevent damage to be dealt? How will you get out of Fake Out?
In battle, understanding the pressure that Pokémon apply to each other lets you determine what your good moves are. Are your Pokémon pressuring your opponent? Do you have any proactive moves that are low-risk? Or, are your Pokémon threatened by your opponent's, and do you have to react? Furthermore, pressure is your guide to your opponent's thought process: what are they threatened by? What proactive moves are their safest path to victory? By doing so, you'll figure out which moves they are most likely to make– which lets you think about the future with much more certainty.
· Which Pokémon is moving first this turn?
· What is it most likely to do, and how does that affect the field? Speed plays an important role in pressure.
· Which Pokémon are threatening knockouts?
· Can both enemy Pokémon work together to secure a knockout?
· Are any Pokémon threatening status moves that disable their opponent? (e.g. Sleep or Thunder Wave)
· What does the next turn look like? Think about what's going to happen if every Pokémon accomplishes its main goal this turn-- try to imagine the most likely next turn.
· Which player is favored in this hypothetical next turn? Then work backwards– why is that the case? If you can find that reason, you've found which Pokémon is applying pressure.
Other times, it may be less clear how pressure will play out in a turn. In fact, there may be many sources of pressure, and both players may have the opportunity to act proactively or reactively. In these scenarios, try your best to figure out what the most severe threats are and which actions are going to be the most likely to happen. It’s okay to overthink things and be 3 steps ahead of your opponent but manage your thinking distance because if you over-overthink, the opponent might deal a straightforward damage and take advantage of you being nervous and if you blindly pick out a move, you are unlikely to have enough pressure against your opponent or you will make wrong calls on your decisions.
Predicting is the best skill in the game and it is seen among the greatest players of all time. It’s a skill that you develop over time as you become more familiar with the meta and know how every team works but to put it simply, let’s divide how prediction works into two factors:
1. Your ability to anticipate every single possible combination of moves that your opponent can go for
2. Your ability to anticipate a specific play that your opponent is going to go for & reacting accordingly
Both of these are major skills that you will want to focus on as you play. The first one allows you to better find the best possible play each turn, while the second one allows you to gain major advantages and claw out of bad positions.
When should I use Protect?
There are plenty of reasons as to why you may want to use Protect on a given turn. The most obvious reason is to prevent your Pokémon from getting knocked out, or taking significant damage, but there are several other ways that Protect can also help you. Here are just some examples/scenarios:
· Against a Fake Out user turn 1 of the game into a double-up
· To avoid getting hit by an attack that can KO you
· To keep a key Pokémon healthy
· To reposition safely
· Stalling out your opponent’s Trick Room
· Stalling out your opponent’s Weather
· Saving one Pokémon and letting its partner deal with a current threat (or switch)
It also has a drawback where you give your opponent the opportunity to:
· Switch out their Pokémon
· Set up Speed control
· Set-up stat boosts
· Attack more confidently into that Pokémon the following turn since the odds of you getting a double Protect are very low
· Double target your other Pokémon
How do I beat my opponent if they’re the one to Protect this turn?
Force your opponent to Protect. Making your opponent use Protect will generally make their next turn substantially more difficult as they cannot use it again with much confidence. As a result, it can actually be useful to attack into something you think that is Protecting: if they don’t Protect, you can just get a large amount of damage off/KO them, and if they do Protect, you can pressure that slot a lot more the subsequent turn.
Double Protect? Triple Protect?
There are certain lategame situations where you’re Pokemon is cornered and need a few more turns to stall so this is where Double to Triple Protect, a method in which you pray to RNGesus to pull off. The odds of you getting back-to-back Protects with a Pokémon is 1/3 which means 2/3 of the time, your move will fail completely. This not only leaves your Pokémon completely vulnerable for the turn, but it also denies it the option of going for any other attack. As a result, it’s extremely risky to attempt consecutive Protects, and it should generally be seen as a last resort option. However, in the right situation, going for consecutive Protects can be game-defining if you get it off.
*Keep in mind that there are Pokemon that has access to Feint such as Hitmontop and Hariyama that can break off protect and you'd be wasting a turn for nothing. You have not much of a choice when you're cornered in such a situation.
· Survive an Attack with a Pokemon that resists it
· Gain momentum to position yourself next turn
· Make use of weather/tailwind/trickroom
· Saving the best for later
Risks of switching
· An attack that you won’t expect from the opponent will most likely hit you hard
· You could take too much damage if the opponent predicts correctly
· You might waste a turn for the slot that you’re switching in this turn
4.2 Team preview
Team preview is an incredibly important aspect of the game. A good team preview phase can give you an early advantage, but you still have to play well during the battle to get the win. Conversely, you can maneuver out of a bad team preview phase, but it means you’ll generally have to work harder (e.g. make more predictions/risky plays).
Step 1: If you opponent’s team threaten most of your Pokemon, what could be their best possible lead in Turn 1 and what Pokemon should you send out to counter this?
Step 2: If you think the opponent’s team can’t disrupt your strategy, bring out the Leading Pokemon from your team that can easily start up your strategy.
Step 3: How will you counter their counter lead against your counter lead? This is like outsmarting your outsmarting them but you can simply let them overthink and stick with your game plan.
4.3 Game Plan
A game plan is a general approach to how you plan on winning a battle once the team preview ends and the battle starts. They are helpful because they give you some sense of how you’re going to navigate the battle ahead, and what your goals and objectives are.
You will typically use a combination of the following in creating a successful game plan:
· Knowing the key strengths/strategies of your team: a good starting point for creating a game plan is focusing on your team’s primary strengths/strategies and modifying them based on your opponent’s team.
· Knowing the nuances of your team: Sometimes, even just a single move choice or EV spread can be specifically designed to beat a Pokemon - the more you understand the team you are using, the easier it will be to create a game plan. This is why familiarity with a team is especially important!
· Analyzing your opponent’s teams: game plans need to take the opposing team into account. You’ll often start with your key strengths/strategies & ask yourself how your opponent can handle these strengths.
· Identifying your key win conditions: Being able to figure out what your best path to victory is - this could be from a variety of ways (e.g. identifying the main Dynamax Pokemon you need to play around, identifying a key Pokemon on their side you need to eliminate quickly, etc.)
· Team Preview: If you can figure out what four Pokemon (and lead selection) give you the best chance of victory, you can theory out what you think the first two turns of the battle will look like before it starts.
Play around your team’s strength
How can you sweep the opponent’s team with your team? If you play Rain then how can you set it up quickly in Turn 1 without taking damage from your opponent?
Look for your opponent’s weakness
There is no perfect team in-game but for a professional player, any team can be perfect. Nonetheless, every team has a loophole and it could be a certain Typing, Speed, a specific Pokemon, their Lack of Damage, and their presence/pressure Early Game vs. Late Game.
· When you lead, are you going to have offensive pressure?
- If not, will you have a way to eventually get to that offensive pressure? If you only have defensive Pokemon, you’re not going to have the damage to finish the battle.
- If not, what opportunities will your opponent have to set up or take advantage of your defensive lead?
· What Pokemon on their team are going to be threatened by your lead? Which are not going to be threatened by your lead?
· What does the end of the battle look like in your head? What happens when Tailwind, Trick Room, or Weathers run out? Can your Pokemon in the back close the battle out well? For example, if they don’t do very much damage, you might “run out of steam” after you lose a knockout (e.g. supportive Pokemon that have very little attack investment are less useful if they are the last Pokemon remaining). If you can get a Pokemon into a solid defensive position by removing Pokemon that threaten it, or reduce your opponent to Pokemon with weak attacks, you can close out tight endgames.
First Impression Lasts, what is your Turn 1?
· The first turn of a battle often sets the scene for the rest of the game, especially if one player is able to gain a major advantage via a lead advantage– a lead that’s strong into their opponent’s choice.
· Try to play out the first turn in your head against a variety of lead combinations that you expect them to go with. Do you have a “safe” play that succeeds regardless of what your opponent goes for?
· When you come up with game plans, things can go south quickly if the early game does not play out how you expect it to. Do you have ways to come back from a bad turn 1?
It’s important to point out that game plans are adaptive - you’ll often change and deviate from your main strategy as the game progresses. Treat your game plan as a blueprint, it may not be final yet and certain situations can take a sudden turn and turn the tables against you so take it with a grain of salt. Practice makes perfect so keep playing!
People often dismiss competitive Pokémon because of the luck that is associated with it - critical hits, misses, flinches, freezes, etc. While luck, or “RNG” (random number generator, which people often use synonymously), is undoubtedly a component of competitive Pokémon, it actually plays a less significant role than people think. The reality is that the best players in the game are able to consistently maneuver themselves in a way to “maximize” their own luck, both during the team-building process and the battling process. They also understand when they may need to rely on some luck to win.
Doubles PvP is like poker in terms of luck but 4D chess In terms of strategizing. While there’s a fair amount of variance, the best players are able to win consistently over a long period of time. This is especially important if you are interested in climbing the ladder or competing in a tournament - in these scenarios, you’ll be playing a lot of Pokémon.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
If these tips haven’t helped you enough, here’s a few more!
1. Learn from the best – talking from experience, the best players in the game aren’t always grumpy and are actually friendly and will help you improve. Ask for their advices when they have time or ask to be mentored personally.
2. Watch ranked battles and tournaments – watch how top players battle and try to call out moves that they are likely to use to also increase how you predict relative to the player your spectating’s decisions.
3. Study every teams – may it be the popular ones or the niche ones that you see in ranked matches, you should take some time in studying them and how they are used in battle.
4. Play More – a great osu! Player once said, “Play More,” ‘nuff said. Experience is the best teacher after all.
5. It’s okay to lose – when starting your journey in Doubles, the meta may be harsh on you and you will often lose but it’s okay! Failure is part of our improvement and every wall you face is just another stepping stone for you to improve.
That’s all for my General Doubles Competitive Battling Guide and I hope that you’ve learned more than ever but remember to always be resourceful as more information is better than just one. Good luck with your competitive journey!