PokeMMO Competitive Battling Guide
PokeMMO Competitive Battling Guide by Barrage
Table of Contents:
1. Understanding the meta-game
3. Mentality and approach to battling
4. Advanced techniques
I’m Barrage, a competitive duelist who has been playing since December. Some of you might know me from dueling in Viridian where I have played hundreds of duels under the name “Ombre” as well as Barrage since March (for those of you who didn’t know that was me, I was just tired of being referred to as a Mexican man in teamspeak and on stream). I also participate in tournaments and have consistently placed well in the 6v6 tournament scene as well as 4v4 more recently, showing repeated quarter/semi/finals appearances in both environments as well as several official tourney wins including the Master’s Invitational Brawl. I consider myself to be a strong duelist with a tournament match win-rate of over 70% in OU for the month of May.
I decided to create this guide in order to try to help intermediate to advanced duelists become aware of certain more abstract or complex concepts of dueling. This guide takes for granted that you have good understanding of the fundamentals of battling such as the role of every Pokemon and the type effectiveness chart.
I will divide this guide into multiple sections and possibly accompany them with video demonstrations as I progress. This guide is most likely to be a perpetual work in progress as I add more to the guide over time and as the meta-game shifts. It is a long read, but please don’t be intimidated. My goal is to make a very comprehensive guide and pour almost all of my knowledge into it so that others can benefit. I want to do what I can so that we have a more experienced and knowledgeable dueling community in order to create a more interesting competitive scene. I hope the audience for this guide is there.
1. Understanding the PokeMMO meta
The first thing to consider when battling in PokeMMO is that the meta-game is vastly different from that of the generation 3 official series. PokeMMO is only in development and lacks many of the mechanics that exist in generation 3. Most notably, we do not have access to many held items, perhaps the most important one being the choice band which greatly affects the way we interact with physically offensive Pokemon in the meta. We currently do not have access to breeding moves either which has a large impact on the strength of certain Pokemon. In addition to this, certain abilities and attacks are not fully functional.
As a result, keeping the metagame in mind when teambuilding and determining the strengths and weaknesses of every Pokemon is important in PokeMMO. A big mistake I often see with many competitive players in PokeMMO is using smogon as a completely reliable source of information for an analysis of the strength of a certain Pokemon. Many people don’t take into account the PokeMMO meta when coming up with builds and movesets for their Pokemon and go with a cookie-cutter build. This is not necessarily the most effective way to proceed due to the unique nature of PokeMMO’s metagame. I strongly advocate the use of damage calculators and careful thought to come up with builds that fill specific purposes within our meta. A Pokemon should always be built with multiple objectives and have it be able to adapt and perform well under the most situations. That’s why when considering what Pokemon are strong, one should always think about how each Pokemon deals with the common threats of the meta. More innovative players will even think of extremely creative ways to deal with said threats. If you would like more information on this, please visit ThinkNice’s advanced guide to EVing.
2. Pre-battle knowledge
a] Knowing damage
In many players’ case, I believe some of the greatest blunders arise from a lack of knowledge of damage. I often hear people say “oh wow, I didn’t expect that to do so much damage” and similar things. Through experience and using damage calculators (smogon.com/calc/), a strong competitive battler will have an extremely good idea of how much damage a Pokemon will take from different attacks originating from many aggressors. This is extremely important in battling in order to predict how the duel will go in multiple scenarios. Knowing damage will affect how you approach the duel in every case and give a better grasp of good decision making. When every Pokemon is revealed and especially with the last handful of Pokemon remaining, it should be known to you how you should proceed in order to close the duel. This, of course, will not be static every turn and may vary as your opponent adapts to this as well in the case of two good players battling each other. In that case, it should also be known to you in which scenarios you could lose and to avoid those scenarios by assuming that your opponent is aware of them and is taking the same steps as you are to win. All of this begins with knowing damage to a tee.
b] Knowing every Pokemon stat-wise
In order to have good expectations of damage, you should know the stats of every Pokemon and how they physically and specially strong or weak, both offensively and defensively. There are certain standard builds in PokeMMO that you can expect to see. You should know how each Pokemon’s unique build interacts with another Pokemon’s build damage-wise. Scouting a moveset will often give you a good idea of what sort of damage you can expect. A moveset will often reveal a Pokemon’s build to you and you should adapt using this knowledge.
c] Knowing damage part 2 – predicting damage using knowledge of stats
Even in the case that you don’t specifically know how much damage a Pokemon will do with a particular move, using knowledge of STAB, type effectiveness and understanding of base stats, it is possible to deduce the strength of an attack on a given Pokemon. For example, you are in a duel vs. a Machamp. You have already scouted that he carries focus punch and he sent out his Machamp after you defeated one of his Pokemon with Snorlax. Your Snorlax is now threatened and your best switch option is Starmie, as it resists Machamps cross chop and threatens it out. Nothing else can take a hit from Machamp on your team at this time. However, you have scouted that he carries focus punch, but you do not want to risk the cross chop. You want to know how much damage a focus punch will do to Starmie in the event that he predicts your switch, but have never been in this scenario before.
Using math, we can determine how much this will do using relative knowledge of other moves against Starmie. Let’s say you have seen Ursaring’s earthquake damage against Starmie and know exactly how much damage it does. Ursaring has the same base attack as Machamp (130). Since you know that every Machamp and Ursaring are likely to invest 252 attack EVs, you are looking at a similar final attack stat, a max of 200 at level 50.
Knowing this, the next step is to do math to determine the end base power of the focus punch by calculating type resistances and stab. Focus punch has a base power of 150. Machamp gets STAB from fighting moves, so this power is multiplied by 1.5x, putting our number at 225. Lastly, we factor in Starmie’s resistance to fighting moves as a psychic type, and that will reduce our number to half the value, 112.5, or 113 rounded up. That means focus punch will do slightly more than Ursaring’s earthquake to Starmie.
This same process can be applied to determine the damage of Pokemon across different base stats even though in this example we used two Pokemon with the same base attack. It is important to know how much a base stat represents at level 50 with and without different EV investment and to understand what that represents in terms of damage to different targets using various base powers.
d] Building highly versatile teams and Pokemon
As I mentioned earlier in the guide, it is important to build Pokemon to deal with a large number of situations with movesets that are conscientious of the meta’s biggest threats. People often complain about walls and how they are overpowering. While this is true due to a lack of choice band and the implementation of certain Pokemon as well as moves like substitute, many players are not doing what they can to cope with the popular use of these walls, especially in condensed environments like 4v4. I personally believe mixed attackers are currently the name of the game in PokeMMO. With accurate predictions, it is possible to bring down walls using combinations of special and physical attacks within the same moveset.
Examples are Charizard, Salamence, Nidoking, Arcanine, Kabutops (to a lesser extent), and others. Starmie, for example, while a special powerhouse, will easily get walled by the likes of Blissey and Snorlax. While Starmie is certainly a great addition to many teams, one must ensure to pair it with wall-breakers and adequate protection in order to deal with special walls so that it can do its job as a late-game sweeper with excellent coverage.
Furthermore, there are certain Pokemon that are nigh-unwallable in our metagame, such as Marowak. A focus punch will take out most Skarmory in two hits, arguably the Pokemon that most effectively walls it. Another good example is Machamp, who does around 70% of Skarmory’s health with one focus punch and can often finish it off with a cross chop. When considering how you build your team, you should always carry effective ways to break down walls. Alternatives are special attackers with explosion such as Electrode and Gengar, who, with accurate predictions, toy with your opponent and force them to take free damage or lose a big part of their defensive core.
I feel like this is something people often overlook. Many don’t have the insight, skill, or confidence in battle to use wall breakers effectively and as a result, don’t see their strength. In the hands of a good player, however, wall breakers are currently the best way to deal with wall stacking in PokeMMO.
3. Mentality and effective thought process in battle
a] Adapting to your opponent
I consider this skill to be quintessential. This is what makes the biggest difference between a mediocre and a good competitive player. While Pokemon is a game with a relatively low skill ceiling compared to Starcraft or something like that, accurately adapting to your opponents is how you can learn to consistently beat players who are just as knowledgeable and good as you. I have been told by a few players that Pokemon is a game of rock paper scissors and that at the highest level, the game comes down to Pokemon match-ups. While this statement often proves to be true in the 4v4 format, I think it is not so applicable to 6v6. In 6v6 there is much more room for switching and you will often have teams that are better prepared for a variety of threats – not the case in 4v4. With more tools available to you, it is possible to outplay your opponent by understanding their thought process. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier regarding understanding the steps to winning the duel for both you and your opponent and predicting outcomes many turns ahead.
Adapting to your opponent involves analyzing their play and gauging their skill level. Based on their actions, what knowledge does your opponent appear to have? Are they adapting correctly to your play? What would you do in their situation – are they doing the same? It is possible to put yourself in your opponent’s shoes in order to predict what the most likely play would be for them. You should always adapt your play style based on the assumptions your opponent appears to be making.
b] Avoiding ‘overprediction’
I often hear players throw around the term ‘overpredict’. Sometimes, the anticipation of a certain play isn’t necessarily an overprediction – it may have been a good and reasonable prediction but the opponent did not realize the danger of the situation they were putting themselves in and didn’t react accordingly. That’s why gauging skill level is so crucial. I define overprediction as predicting your opponent to make a move that might appear to be optimal but was not in fact necessary for them to win the duel. I will explain with a case scenario.
In a duel, player A has Charizard out versus a Venusaur in the first turn. The Charizard player goes for focus punch, predicting a switch to something that can absorb the anticipated flamethrower. Two common special walls are Snorlax and Blissey, both with which focus punch deals quite well. As predicted, Snorlax comes out and the Charizard player proceeds to take it out with a brick break – a good prediction given the circumstances. Player B did not know whether player A was good enough to anticipate the blind (blind because player A has never seen Snorlax, he just assumed) switch to a special wall and did not want to risk crippling his Venusaur early on.
However, consider this next scenario: In a different duel, player A is down to his last Pokemon, a full hp Charizard equipped with a lum berry. His opponent’s remaining Pokemon are a full health Venusaur, which is out, and an 80% health Snorlax, meaning player A has already seen it. Unlike in the first scenario, it would be foolish for the Charizard to go for a focus punch here even though player B is in a technically unfavorable matchup. Player B can simply win by attacking the Charizard with Venusaur, since he knows it isn’t carrying overheat and physical Charizard cannot one-shot hp invested Venusaur with a flamethrower. Venusaur will go for a sludge bomb and the next turn Snorlax will finish the job with a body slam. Even though in a previously similar case, focus punch would have been a good call, these circumstances do not warrant focus punch. I consider this type of play an overprediction because player A predicted a move that his opponent did not need to make – it did not take into account the optimal play for player B. Granted, player A was probably screwed here unless he got a critical brick break on Snorlax after killing Venusaur. If the Venusaur player was inexperienced, it was also possible that he tried to go for a sleep powder, activating lum, and letting Charizard two-shot the Venusaur with flamethrower and escape without damage. This puts Charizard out of kill range for Snorlax, enabling him to get 2 brick breaks off to kill the Snorlax.
Always keep in mind how your opponent will try to win the duel and what you need to do to win in order to adapt your level of prediction.
c] Multi-level prediction
This leads into my next point about what I call multi-level prediction, for lack of a better term. It has been noted that most people strategize only predicting 1 step, or level, ahead of their opponent (for more information on this and an interesting watch, check out this video). For example, if a player has Marowak out versus Snorlax, the obvious play for Marowak is to press earthquake against Snorlax. The Snorlax player would then think level ahead of the Marowak, predict the earthquake, and send a flying type or a Pokemon with levitate. Predicting a step further ahead, Marowak would instead go for the focus punch, double-edge, swords dance maybe, or make a switch into another Pokemon to deal with the incoming Pokemon. If the Snorlax player predicts that the Marowak player will make a double-switch, he might switch into a Pokemon himself to deal with the anticipated oncoming switch-in or stay in on Snorlax and go for an attack. There are many ways to accurately determine on which level of thought you should be playing for most of the duel, which mostly involves analyzing your opponent’s typical level of play and adapting to that. However, in duels versus equally matched excellent players, it can be difficult to anticipate one another. You can often base your prediction on how the opponent previously responded to your plays. If a player reacts a certain way once, it is likely that he won’t react the same way in a repeated situation – this occurs often in 6v6. It is easy to take advantage of that. A really good player might react the same way twice though, knowing that you will anticipate the opposite. However, it is always important to determine the likelihood of your opponent making a risky play given the situation. Sometimes even if your opponent knows what’s coming, they will bite the bullet because it isn’t worth the risk to them. It is important to understand this yourself. Know what is important to your opponent and act accordingly.
4. Advanced battling techniques
While these may seem obvious, I often only see the strongest players dare to pull of these moves. It seems most players are afraid to take risks, or don’t correctly evaluate the importance of making certain plays. I hinted at these two techniques in the previous sections, but I will explain in somewhat more detail here, though they are quite self-explanatory.
A double-switch is a switch you make anticipating your opponent’s switch. Both players are switching out, hence the term “double” switch. For example, low hp Machamp vs. 100 hp Snorlax, Snorlax might go into full health Gengar. Predicting this, the Machamp player switches into his own low hp Starmie. This would seal the duel for the Starmie player if these are the last four remaining Pokemon. Had he stayed in with Machamp and went for a cross chop or rock slide, Gengar would have come out and put the Starmie player in a bad situation. Gengar would press t-bolt and kill Machamp. Starmie would come out for the revenge kill, but Snorlax is out of range of a single attack and it will kill the Starmie in a body slam or shadow ball. However, in the example where the double-switch occurs, Starmie can now kill Gengar, fall to the Snorlax, and Machamp can finish off Snorlax. Even if the Gengar switches back into Snorlax, it will take too much damage from psychic to survive a second one.
b] Pressure baiting
This uses the concept of pressure to bait your opponent into making a certain move. Obviously, having pressure is when you have the advantage and your opponent must make a defensive manoeuver or is put in a position where their play is extremely readable. Often, it will be advantageous for you to come into match-ups in a certain order for you to win the duel. Sometimes you can manipulate which match-ups you get by baiting your opponent into attacking a certain way or pressuring them out of a match-up and double-switching to something else to give yourself a more favorable position. For example, my opponent has a Starmie out vs. my low health Snorlax but I don’t want to lose it quite yet. Let’s say in this scenario, my best option is to bring out Kingdra and set up rain. However, I don’t want my Kingdra to get withered. I’m not sure if he will go for surf or psychic against my Snorlax, so I can’t necessarily switch in Kingdra safely. I switch into my Umbreon which can safely come in on either attack. I know that he doesn’t want to risk losing his Starmie or have it get chunked by pursuit, and he is probably carrying a lum berry to prevent status. The obvious play for him is to scout for the pursuit and go for a surf. If he isn’t wary of pursuit and switches out to something else, that’s fine too, given that we have already established that getting Kingdra out safely is all I need to do given the imaginary circumstances of this duel. Regardless of the situation, I have baited my opponent into making a move that plays into my hands – coming into a 4x resisted surf or coming in for free.
c] Blind prediction
One of the things I most rarely see is players making blind predictions – that is, making a prediction of an incoming switch without seeing the Pokemon prior to. In OU, this is especially easy to abuse due to the very common Pokemon used in that environment. The scenario involving Venusaur and Charizard exemplifies this perfectly. Without seeing the Snorlax, I can assume that the opponent is afraid of taking a flamethrower and will run to a special wall or something that will absorb the fire – a water type. Thus, focus punching, as mentioned, is a good measure to take in the case I mentioned. People often don’t take this risk, but most people play in a very standard way when they have not gauged the skill of their opponent or scouted their team. I strongly suggest doing this if you want to refine your prediction skills and take more people by surprise. Pushing your advantage is really important. You need to do everything you can to maintain your momentum – you want to keep the pressure on your side. That’s why I consider wall breakers to be so powerful.
Thank you for reading my guide. If you have made it this far, I salute you. I hope this guide helped give insight for players who are good competitive battlers but aren’t quite great. While the examples I listed are simple and pretty obvious to seasoned players, they are applicable on a much larger scale than a few turns. And while obvious, even ignoring the simplicity of one double switch, I have seen people lose finals rounds that they easily could have won if they just kept these things in mind or manned up enough to make a somewhat risky move. I know the competitive community has potential to grow but there is somewhat of a lack of information. If my guide aids people at all in developing better battling skills and creating a more competitive dueling scene, I will be content. If you have any questions, feel free to message me. Also, I would like feedback about whether or not my dueling scenarios are too confusing to follow. If they are, I may take screenshots or make short videos portraying the situations.