Let’s Showdown! Pokémon Showdown!
I’m what some people may call a Pokémon veteran. After all, I’ve completed Pokémon Pearl, Black, Y, Alpha Sapphire, and Moon, just to name a few. But, I always got bored after becoming the League Champion. Sure, I messed around in the post-game with the Battle Park, went around catching legendaries, and worked towards completing the National Pokédex. But after a while of stomping the AI trainers and Elite Four, I was craving a real human battle.
But in reality, no one carries around their 3DS or Nintendo Switch for the chance to battle complete strangers. I mean, Pokémon Go does have battle capabilities now, but it’s not the classic Pokémon battling that we know.
So thank goodness for Pokémon Showdown. But a fair warning, it’s not for everyone.
To generalize here, there are basically two kinds of Pokémon players. The first player enjoys the fighting off the bad guys, running into Looker, flaunting their Red Gyarados, you know, fun in-game stuff.
The second player runs the Pokémon Day Care to the ground with promiscuous Dittos, grinds for IVs, flattens the tall grass for a rare Pokémon, and breeds heavily for Egg Moves–all in the name of competitive battle. If you’re the first player, then that might have been a lot of mumbo-jumbo, and it’ll only get more complicated when we move on to Pokémon Showdown.
Let me explain. Pokémon Showdown is a fully functional battle simulator that allows you to create your own teams. Now, this might not seem like a big deal but there’s more. You have the ability to determine the exact IV spreads of each Pokémon, their potential abilities, held items, movesets, natures, friendship levels, and whether or not you want a shiny. But wait, there’s even more!
Pokémon Showdown gameplay is divided into formats. The primary and most popular format is the OU (overused) tier, but there are plenty of others like Ubers, UU (underused), and so on. But if you’re not sure of what you want to do, you can just start with the most popular tier, Random OU battles.
(If you’re curious as to who makes these decisions and more, check out Smogon, the leading competitive play ruling organization.)
You can get ranked against the thousands of active players on Pokémon Showdown. The highest elo (ranking score) reaches to around 2411 (at the time of writing) in Random OU, whereas mine is floating around 1200. Right in the middle.
Playing randoms really puts your Pokémon knowledge to the test. In the random OU format, you and your opponent start the battle with six randomly spawned Pokémon from any of the seven generations to battle it out. With so many Pokémon, you could search for every type’s weaknesses and effectiveness, or pull up a typing chart to strategize. But some (and by some I mean a lot) of people are impatient and start the in-game timer immediately. I’m guilty of this too, but for other reasons, like AFK or disconnected players. But I digress.
To battle effectively requires a decent understanding of Pokémon abilities, items, weather scenarios, general movesets of Pokémon, understanding what a Pokémon’s role is (tank, sweeper, set up, etc.) and overall strategies. For example, in the OU ladder, there are a number of Pokémon that get rotated around consistently each random team. Once you’ve played long enough, you tend to learn who has what moves, what are their stats, abilities, etc.
There’s a good side to all of this information though: control and potential. You can test out crazy setups, movesets, and play styles that you just couldn’t do in a normal cartridge game. You could set up a Ratatta fear team, make a Kommo-o sweeper team, be an annoying Hazards team; whatever you want, you can do! (as long as it falls within the guidelines of the specific format!)
Now, casual fans: I know what you’re thinking. What the heck am I talking about? What are IVs and Ratatta fear teams and what’s Kommo-o? Well, I encourage you to check out Pokémon Showdown to learn about it all. Heck, go for Google, or Bulbapedia, the Pokémon Wiki. Go look at type charts, go search what abilities do what and what items do what. And then play a game! Make a team, or play randoms, I don’t care! Enjoy yourself, instead of slaving away at a Pokédex that means nothing.
If you’re ever wanting to challenge me to OU randoms, just look for me in the lobby under Laroin. I’ll be sure to accept (if I’m there, that is).
Screenshots are Originals, from: