Published on July 19th, 2012 | by Braverius


Defend Yourself With a Question

Sometimes when you’re battling, you lose focus on certain things you need to do before each turn and before the match begins. Making yourself a mental checklist to help remember these things is a great way to get in a good pattern of battling efficiently and making the correct move. I cannot count the number of times I have forgotten the turn of Tailwind or Trick Room, forgotten what the opponent’s last Pokémon was, or forgot if the opponent used a certain move during the game that could come back to haunt me.

Every time you enter a battle, you should have a running checklist in your head to go through. Until you master this checklist and can do it naturally, turn it into a system while you’re practicing. Ask yourself the questions before every turn. Take the extra 30 seconds that you would usually use to overthink a move or that you don’t use at all. It’s not timestalling if you are not stalling and are actually thinking, so don’t worry about others calling you out on that. You are given a certain time limit for a reason, and that’s so you don’t have to make a rushed decision about a move.

When you enter a battle, as you’re selecting your Pokémon, ask yourself the following:

  1. Are the four Pokémon I’m bringing capable of taking on any single Pokémon on the other team?
  2. After the selection screen goes away, can I remember the opponent’s team?
  3. What are the problematic Pokémon on the opponent’s team that I should be concerned about, and how will I stop said Pokémon?
  4. If you are the opponent, what do YOU bring against your team?
  5. What is the opponent likely to lead against your team?
  6. What’s the worst case scenario, and are you prepared for it?
  7. Is your opponent running any setup? How will you stop it?

It does seem like a daunting task to answer all those questions in about a minute, but remember this: through preparation and practice, it will become easier and easier once you get to know your team better and understand how to be better prepared for battle. Each question should make you more confident on what to bring to the battle and give you a good feel for how much of a challenge you are going to get team-wise.

However, trainer, beware! It is sometimes not always accurate, as the opponent may be using a different set, spread, or move on a certain Pokémon that you do not expect. A few things that, by doing this method, you can realize:

If another player brings a Pokémon you thought was not a good idea to bring against your team, odds are they are running something unconventional on it that actually DOES beat your team! Think outisde the box a little when you see this. For example, at Nationals, I had someone lead Tyranitar-Landorus against a Rotom-Metagross. I predicted a switch to Gastrodon and a Protect turn 1, but little did I know that the Landorus carried SMACK DOWN, which grounded my Rotom-W and allowed Gastrodon’s Earth Power to finish it off! The guy had no business bringing Landorus against a team with a Cresselia, Virizion, and Rotom-W on it, but he had a trick up his sleeve the entire time, and I should have been more prepared and seen it coming.

If another player leads something that resembles setup, you should already be prepared if you have thought ahead. If they DON’T lead something that resembles setup, still beware — there could be a Trick Room or Politoed in the back. Many effective teams work by killing off the setup stoppers and THEN setting up.

If the worst case scenario happens, THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC! It is best to work through these situations logically even if you fall behind at the start. After some experience with your team, you should know what to do against a team when you fall slightly behind. Always have a plan for your worst case scenario and understand what to do to claw your way back into the game once your opponent leads it.

While in the battle, make sure you have a few things running just in case they surface:

  1. Keep track of the turns of Tailwind and Trick Room. Tailwind runs for 3 more turns after it is set up, and Trick Room runs for 4 more turns after it is set up.
  2. Keep track of which Pokémon your opponent has used and their moves.
  3. Remember all status effects (especially Confusion) and stat rises/drops. This could come in handy later in the battle.

Finally, the biggest bang happens on a turn-by-turn basis. Before each turn, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is my opponent most likely to do, based on his team and the progression of the battle?
  2. Is my opponent going to switch?
  3. What’s the worst case scenario for a switch, and can I handle it with the move I make?
  4. What’s the worst case scenario for the moves, and can I handle it regardless?
  5. If you’re the opponent, knowing what you know so far, what move are you making against yourself?
  6. Is your opponent able to set up anything this turn? Will you be affected next turn because of this?
  7. What is the most optimal move assuming the obvious, and assuming the worst?
  8. What is the most likely move by your opponent?

Again, answering these questions accurately requires practice and the ability to adapt to a situation based on previous experience. The traits that are needed to answer these questions do not come overnight. Keep working on becoming a smarter player and making sure you do not make simple mental mistakes, and you will have an advantage over your opponent simply by being more efficient! Capitalizing on knowing these things gets more and more advantageous the more you know about the game. This is why the best players continually prove they are the best in their respective groups: they have played above and beyond the amount of their opponents and show a great understanding for the game through their play and constant winning.

You may even find more questions than just the ones posted here that you can ask yourself to help — it is not limited to only these. However, use this as a guideline if you are starting out or as a checkup if you are a seasoned player. There are obviously deeper and more accurate questions, such as those of double targeting, setting up, Protecting, etc. Starting off with a defensive mindset, though, can help you understand what you are encountering, and will help you make a better choice on the offensive side of things.

About the Author

started playing competitive Pokemon in April 2011. Since then he has been fortunate enough to compete in numerous official live events, qualifying for Worlds in 2013 and winning four Regionals along the way.

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