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How To Build A Team - Pokémon XY

Updated on July 11, 2014


Welcome to my team building guide! I've been battling competitively since early 4th gen, and was able to win a few tournaments on various forums. I like to bring teams to the table that look very standard but throw a surprising twist or two, and I hope this guide helps you understand the way I think when I go about team building. There are *tons* of ways to go about starting a team, but some of the strategies I apply to team building can be used in conjunction with many other team building guides, so pick & choose what works for you.

Also, if you don't feel like reading, skip down to my video example at the bottom, where I walk through (essentially) the same content and provide a real-time example of a Showdown battle. I'll talk you through the thought process of creating the same team I do in this article, then I'll get into the battle and walk you through my predictions. Whether you choose to read or watch the video, let's just jump right into it!

Step 1: Choose a Pokémon

You probably already have a Pokémon in mind that you want to build your team around. If you don't, now is a good time to make that decision. Choose a Pokémon (and a tier, if you're battling competitively.) Write down the species, nature, moveset, item, and EVs in a notepad document. You're going to want to keep track of all of these things to build a balanced team. Now, try to think of what role that Pokémon will play on your team. Is it a fast special sweeper such as Alakazam? Or maybe it's a bulky tank like Mega Blastoise. Keep the roles of your Pokémon in mind as you start to add on.

Step 2: Complimenting Your Choice

Now that you've got your first Pokémon figured out, you should find a Pokémon to back it up. For the purpose of this article, let's say my first Pokémon was

Espeon @ Choice Specs

Ability: Magic Bounce

Modest Nature

EVs: 6 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd

- Psychic

- Shadow Ball

- Grass Knot

- Dazzling Gleam

This Espeon is a fast special sweeper, boasting 110 base speed and even more Special Attack. Opponents switch in thinking they will be able to setup against it, and Espeon has the potential to blast a hole in the opponent's best sweeper with a solid prediction. But like all Pokémon, Espeon has several outstanding weaknesses that need to be covered. Dark type Pokémon like Greninja cause Espeon a lot of trouble. Despite Espeon's ability to survive a Timid Greninja's Dark Pulse and KO with a Dazzling Gleam, I don't want Espeon to take quite that much damage if I can prevent it. So my next Pokémon is going to have the opposite role of Espeon and be able to resist Dark and Bug attacks. I chose Scizor.

Scizor @ Scizorite

Ability: Technician

Adamant Nature

EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 6 Def

- Swords Dance

- Bullet Punch

- ???

- ???

This Scizor can safely switch in to block Espeon's weaknesses to Dark and Bug, and can either setup with Swords Dance or attack with a powerful physical move. Bullet Punch is necessary because most Pokémon that Espeon doesn't outspeed are going to need to be hit with priority moves. I left the last two attack slots blank for now because Scizor has a few good options for those slots, and they will depend on what my next Pokémon can cover.

Step 3: Assess Your Weak Points

It's important to keep your weak points in mind early, as competitive battle has the tendency to be predictable with regards to the tier you choose. For example, I'm making an OU team, so I need to have answers for Pokémon that appear most often. One of those Pokémon is Talonflame, and right now, my team doesn't really appreciate priority STAB Brave Bird. My favorite check for Talonflame is Azumarill.

Azumarill @ Sitrus Berry

Ability: Huge Power

Adamant Nature

EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 6 Spd

- Aqua Jet

- Belly Drum

- Play Rough

- Superpower

Azumarill has a powerful priority move just like Scizor, and the typing is well covered by Scizor and Espeon. In introducing Azumarill, there are still no major elemental weaknesses on this team, and I know I have some of the most troublesome Pokémon in OU accounted for. Now that Azumarill has Superpower, we can cross that off the list of potential moves for Scizor and start to narrow down possibilities. I'm still going to leave the last two slots blank for now, though. Let's go on.

Step 4: Building Bulk

You may have noticed that I don't have any bulky walls on my team yet. Maybe you do, and you need a sweeper. No matter what your team looks like now, pick a role you don't have covered. In my case, I need a wall. Since Azumarill's Aqua Jet isn't going to be enough to 1-hit Talonflame, I might need a little help. Stealth Rock is a great tool to utilize on almost every team, and it would be great if I could get that extra 12.5% damage early. I'm also a little sensitive for the possibility of a Pokémon setting up, so I want something with Intimidate to cover the Dragon/Swords Dancers. For this reason, I chose Landorus-T.

Landorus-T @ Leftovers

Ability: Intimidate

Nature: ??? (Defensive)

EVs: 252 HP / 6 Atk / 252 Def

- Stealth Rock

- Earthquake

- Stone Edge

- ???

I'm going to be utilizing a physically defensive Landorus-T, and I've added some of his core moves. I'm still unsure of the last move, and since Landorus-T has a huge movepool, I'm okay with leaving that blank for now. Let's see what else we still need to add before finishing up his moveset.

Step 5: Review Your Team

Once again, we need to do a quick team review. In introducing Landorus-T, I gave enemy Greninjas another Pokémon to poke at with his unpredictable moveset. Ice Beam is pretty common on Greninja, so I'm going to need something else to punish him. For this reason, I added Quick Attack to Scizor's moveset. While I'm at it, I need to cover the bulky Psychic types like Slowbro and Celebi, so I'm going to go ahead and top off his moveset with X-Scissor.

Scizor @ Scizorite

Ability: Technician

Adamant Nature

EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 6 Def

- Swords Dance

- Bullet Punch

- X-Scissor

- Quick Attack

So I've got 4 Pokémon so far. I'm currently missing a bulky special Pokémon and a second special attacker. I don't want Scizor to be my only reliable check to Greninja for fear of Scald, so I want to introduce a Special Sweeper that can guard against that Dark Pulse and stay in to attack a healthy Greninja. I also need something else to take care of popular setup Pokémon such as Dragonite and Salamence without too much trouble. Another very important trait my team is missing is a status move. To compensate for this, I chose Florges.

Florges @ Leftovers

Ability: Flower Veil

Calm Nature

EVs: 252 HP / 6 SAtk / 252 SDef

- Moonblast

- Energy Ball

- Toxic

- Protect

Florges' last move slot is also open to change, but I chose Protect because it compliments Toxic and allows me to scout out my opponent's next move, which can be a lifesaver when you're uncertain. So now there's just one Pokémon left, plus Landorus' moveset to figure out.

Step 6: Covering All Ground

Take a look at your team's attacks and see if there's anything outstanding that you missed. For me, that's Fire and Ice (neither ain't so nice!) I need at least one fire attack to deal with Pokémon like Scizor, Ferrothorn, and Forretress. I also have two Fairy types on my team (Azumarill and Florges), so it wouldn't hurt to have one extra cover for their weaknesses in case Scizor goes down. I need Ice to cover those pesky setup Dragon Pokémon that have the potential to turn games around if I don't be careful. I decided to go with Heatran.

Heatran @ Choice Scarf

Ability: Flash Fire

Timid Nature

EVs: 6 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd

- Fire Blast

- Earth Power

- Dragon Pulse

- Hidden Power Grass

Oh look, Flash Fire compliments Scizor really well. Who'd'a thunk?

While I wanted to get an Ice move, it's also important to have that surprise Grass move for the likes of Swampert and Quagsire. Espeon's Grass Knot might be predictable, but a Hidden Power could be less so. I feel the need for two Grass attacks because I can't rely on either one Pokémon to be my only check to the Water/Ground types. Notice I'm still missing an Ice type, but I do have Dragon Pulse on Heatran. Choice Scarf will go a ways in helping me hit Dragon types after they setup once, but it would be nice to have a solid backup in case Heatran isn't available. This is where I figured out Landorus-T's nature and final move:

Landorus-T @ Leftovers

Ability: Intimidate

Relaxed Nature

EVs: 252 HP / 6 Atk / 252 Def

- Stealth Rock

- Earthquake

- Stone Edge

- Hidden Power Ice

Hidden Power Ice hits just as hard on this set as it does on the Standard Smogon set that calls for HP Ice, so it's a viable option. Landorus can switch in on many of OU's major threats and deal massive 4x damage. Whether it's the Stealth Rocks setup to hit Talonflame, Dragonite, and Salamence hard or the Stone Edge to Talonflame, the Hidden Power Ice to the Dragons, etc., Landorus is a great Pokémon for me to switch in when the going gets rough.

Testing the Team

Now that our teams are together, let's start to test it. If you want to further review your team before dropping it in a battle, head over to Marriland's Team Builder to check out a weakness/resistance chart for your team. You should also download Pokémon Showdown on your PC, as it will speed up the testing process. If you're primarily playing the 3DS version, you're going to spend a lot of time breeding. Showdown is a way for you to test teams before you breed everything. Sometimes a team looks better on paper than it performs.

Video Example

In this video, I walk you through the team building process from my personal computer. You'll hear many of the same tips mentioned throughout this guide, and you'll get to witness some Pokémon Showdown battling in real time as I reason through my decisions in game. Be sure to give the video a thumbs-up if it helped you and subscribe for more gaming content in the near future!

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to post. I'm willing to give feedback on your teams, share battle strategies, and just entertain any comments you want to leave. What are your team-building tactics? Did I miss an awesome resource? Use the comments section below to tell me! Be sure to check out my other articles by visiting my profile, and I'll catch you guys next time!

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