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Back To the Lab: Synergy and Cores in Team Building

Back To the Lab: Synergy and Cores in Team Building

What’s good guys, It’s Aero and we’re back in the lab again for some discussion about competitive team building, and some of the key ideas to consider when you are choosing your first ‘mons. This will be a part of an on-going series where I touch upon many of the different aspects of building, culminating in a freshly made team that will hopefully find some success in OU.

To start, I want to take you back to PUCL Episode 78, where yours truly discussed this same topic with Thatch. I spoke about the importance that roles play, and how each Pokemon should serve a specific function, as well as the fact that they should have some sort of synergy. We’re going to expand on what synergy is, and the different ways it can manifest on a team.

First, let’s flip to its official Oxford definition:



  • The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

So what does this mean for Pokemon? Simply put, it means that two or more Pokemon should be able to complement each other, in such a way that they help deal with the opposing threats that either wall or KO them. Without synergy, a team can struggle to find ways to break through a Pokemon or combination of them, or alternatively be completely swept by a Pokemon. For the purpose of this discussion, we’re going to be looking at two different ways synergy can manifest: Type Synergy and Counter Synergy.


                                                                        Type Synergy:

This is probably the synergy that most people are familiar with, and the easiest to understand. As the name implies, Type Synergy allows two or more Pokemon to compliment each other’s resistances, creating opportunities to force switches, or to hit back with moves that can threaten the opponent. One of the most time honored type cores is the Fire/Water/Grass Core, so let’s have a look at a recent iteration of it.

So this is a pretty nasty combination of bulky ‘mons, who are taking advantage of each other’s weaknesses to utilize a combination of status + hazards to slowly whittle down the opponent. A threatening ground type like Zygarde can safely be checked by Tangrowth, while Heatran can absorb any fire moves that come from powerful sweepers like Volcarona, and Gastrodon completes the loop by eating physical attacks for breakfast, causing havoc with a well-placed Scald or Toxic.

This is an example of a defensive core, and relies on pressuring switches to function best. But even for this iron wall of Pokemon, a wallbreaking Charizard Y set that sports Fire Blast, Focus Blast, and Solarbeam can clean through this team thus far. That’s certainly something we’ll keep in mind, as we discuss how to patch those holes up in future articles.

                                                                        Counter Synergy:

Although this can appear as if it is type synergy, it involves much more than simply resisting a hit to really work well. Counter Synergy more specifically aims to have two Pokemon remove each other’s counters completely, breaking holes in your opponent’s team, and either offensively sweeping through them or defensively stalling them out. For this example we’ll use an offensive core, since I think it lends itself better to showing how it performs.

This is a take on the idea of type spamming, which involves utilizing the physical and special coverage a type provides to clean through a variety of defensive checks. This version called BirdSpam (ironically neither of them are birds) takes advantage of the Physical damage Swords Dance Mega-Pinsir can do, and is complemented by offensive Autotomize Celesteela to resist Pinsir checks like Tapu Lele. Flynium Z is an ideal item on Celesteela, allowing it to secure KOs and guarantee that Beast Boost, paving the way for the rest of your team.

Once again, certain conditions need to be met to allow this core to perform best. Tapu Koko is a clear threat, so something that can safely trap and remove it such as Dugtrio would pair with BirdSpam nicely.

Wrapping Up:
So hopefully this little segment gives you a better idea of where to start when making a blueprint for your dream team. As with all things, these examples are far from perfect, and you might find out from your own gameplay that an otherwise solid core can face some serious hurdles against a single Pokemon. Fret not, my intrepid battlers, because next time we’ll be delving into how to build your team out from 2-3 ‘mons, what glue is, and how you can use it beyond your arts and crafts sessions. Finally, I want to wish a happy Fourth of July to those who celebrate it! Accept this appropriately themed gif for the festivities.
Feel free to let me know what your favorite cores are, whether they be OU or all the way down to Little Cup!
Teleporting for now, it’s Aero