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Can you play Pokémon competitively using your favorite Pokémon?

WaterTypeStarter

Well-Known Member
Even if one of your favorites is something with poor stats or movepool like Skiploom, or even something unevolved like Magikarp. Theoretically, if you tries to enter using such Pokémon, would it still be possible to win by some means?
 

Metal64

Member
Even if one of your favorites is something with poor stats or movepool like Skiploom, or even something unevolved like Magikarp. Theoretically, if you tries to enter using such Pokémon, would it still be possible to win by some means?
Depends in what tier you wanna play and what strategy you have!
 

Ignition

Eternal thinkers
My favorite was the most used Pokémon in VGC at several points so I’d say so.
 

Xaby

SW-3553-0104-8530
Short answer is: possible, but it depends.

Long answer is: possible, but it depends on the stats and movepool. Pokémon is a team game, and even the strongest of sweepers have their role to play. There are three questions concerning the viability of a Pokémon in competitive battles:

1. What is it's role?
2. Can it do that role well in the format?
3. Are there better options for that role?

If your Pokémon doesn't fulfill the first two, either due to bad stats, movepool, abilities, or all three together, then it's probably dead to rights. I'm sorry, but Dunsparce probably isn't going to win any competition no matter how much you cheer it on.

That third one is usually what differentiates Pokémon usage, as most of the time it's really just better to use a, well, better Pokémon. But don't let that discourage you from trying out different strategies. Meta changes and that's usually due to trainers who try out different things, and counter-metas also exist as well. Se Jun Park's Pachirisu was used as a reaction to the meta being overly familiar with Amoongus as a redirector, and opponents really didn't know how to properly react to it, leading to probably the most celebrated Pikachu-a-like in VGC history.
 

shoz999

Sure, sure. Go for it.
Even if one of your favorites is something with poor stats or movepool like Skiploom, or even something unevolved like Magikarp. Theoretically, if you tries to enter using such Pokémon, would it still be possible to win by some means?
Usually yes. With that mindset, the goal you want to have in mind is to build a team around your favorite Pokemon. It's much harder if you're trying to build a team of favorite Pokemon.
 

WaterTypeStarter

Well-Known Member
Usually yes. With that mindset, the goal you want to have in mind is to build a team around your favorite Pokemon. It's much harder if you're trying to build a team of favorite Pokemon.
What is an example for a team that has some Pokemon with poor stats and/or movepools that would still be competitivly viable?
 

shoz999

Sure, sure. Go for it.
What is an example for a team that has some Pokemon with poor stats and/or movepools that would still be competitivly viable?
Orbeetle. It's a very good support Pokemon. Sticky Webs, Ally Switch, Recover, etc. Now that's the official meta. If you're talking about Smogon, that's a different story since they balance Pokemon through tiers.
 

Divine Retribution

See who you are, where from, what of
The short answer? Well, there is no short answer, so let's get right into it I guess.

Is it possible to win with a sub-optimal Pokemon? Absolutely, even at high level tournaments (see Pachirisu in VGC). If you understand what that Pokemon can do, what it can't do, and build your team to support it, and if your opponent doesn't know what it does or how to play against it or is simply less experienced/skilled than you, you can easily win with an otherwise sub-optimal Pokemon. Hell, you can win with a team of 5 Pokemon and an empty slot if you're good enough and those 5 Pokemon form a team that covers the threats you're likely to face in your chosen format, so you could realistically fill that empty slot with whatever you want and "win" with it, even if it essentially does nothing productive in the match (there was an example of this in a pretty high-level Smogon tournament some years ago where the winner brought a Pikachu which ultimately did nothing other than get sacced to a Manaphy to get a check in safely, but I can't seem to find the replay).

The problem is consistency. While you can win with a sub-optimal Pokemon, or even a sub-optimal team, it definitely lowers your chances compared to a more viable Pokemon or team. If the Pokemon you're using is outclassed by something better (as most low-tier Pokemon are), your mathematical chances of winning with the Pokemon who outclass it are almost always going to be higher. Using these Pokemon is always going to be a handicap; you can still win despite the handicap but you'd win more consistently without it.

This is where I think a lot of more casual players don't see eye to eye with more competitive players. Competitive players often don't care about using their favorites; they'll use whatever gives them the best chance of winning. This naturally gives them an advantage over players who might insist on using their favorites regardless of viability, and while you absolutely can overcome that advantage and beat competitive players with a, for lack of a better term, "casual" team, it often requires you to be significantly more experienced or skilled than your opponent. If you take two players of an even skill level and give one a competitive team and one a less viable casual team, the player with the competitive team is going to come out on top more often than not.

This is also where you see those cookie-cutter archetypal teams that utterly lack creativity spring up. If something works very well in the current metagame and gives the user the best chance of winning, a lot of competitive players are going to pick that up and use it instead of using their own teams, or use teams that are heavily based on the principles that make that team succeed, which results in a lot of teams that are essentially the same, or certain viable Pokemon having very high usage statistics. It's an inevitable byproduct of the competitive mentality.
 

nel3

Crimson Dragon
^ that is very true depending on your favorites and any surprises you may be able to pull of you can get a fair distance but there will be times the cookie cutter alphas will just be too much.

@Water starter: if you want to play with your favorites then assess how they fare against the alpha cookie cutters and do some battles against them. depending on your fav list it may or may not end up being a first rate team to counter every meta pokemon. if you want to stick to your favorites and they dont do as well as you'd like in the competitive battles then you can always have fun with the casuals and still come across the cookie cutters. the difference would be that you'd have a bigger range of opponents in casuals and probably more than a few fun battles than always facing the same 12 or so opponents. going with my favorites gets me to middle range for the most part but it wouldnt work competitively.
 

TheWanderingMist

Kanae, Keeper of the Gates Emblazoned
What is an example for a team that has some Pokemon with poor stats and/or movepools that would still be competitively viable?
I'm a little late but I know Pachirisu helped win one of the VGC championships or something a few years back and as its the regional Pikaclone, good stats aren't exactly its deparment.
 

Shiny Venusaur

Sinnoh's Champion
I'm interpreting this as 'can you specifically' and not 'can you general' so my response will be as such.

For me, yes, my two favorite Pokemon, Venusaur and Garchomp, have always been viable in both formats to some extent. Venusaur struggled a bit early on but really got it's footing in late ADV and never let up. As VGC has changed over the years, and the addition of it's Hidden ability, it has gotten even better in the double format compared to the singles format. Garchomp is well Garchomp, it's good no matter what you do with it.
 

The Admiral

solid state survivor
Yes, but I probably won't win.

Oh, uh, that's not because the 'mons are necessarily bad, it's just me. I'm not super great at this kind of thing.
 

Ophie

Salingerian Phony
I want to point out that, regardless of game, if there is a wide variety of choices to play as, there will be an entire category of player who do exactly this, the Johnny. The Spike player plays to win first and foremost, the Timmy player plays for the spectacle, but the Johnny player plays for style. People who use exotic teams, themed teams, and other unconventional teams in Pokémon are all Johnnies. The more competitive-minded Johnnies are not so much challenging other people as much as they're challenging themselves, wanting to see how far they can go with the Pokémon they've chosen, or in some cases, the Pokémon they've turned down.

It's a lot easier to play in this way in the official games, at least their online modes, due to it being best 1 out of 1 and, because of the pick-3/pick-4 rules, you can select whichever Pokémon you feel is best suited for the battles. To that extent, while they're still quite rare, I have seen the following teams in Ranked Sword & Shield:

  • A team made up entirely of Pokémon based on cats.
  • A team identical in makeup to Red's standard team (Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard, Pikachu, Arcanine, Lapras).
  • A team made up entirely of Pokémon based on aquatic creatures, only one of which was actually Water-type.
  • A team made up entirely of Generation VII Pokémon.
  • A team where exactly half are Electric-type and the other half are Ice-type.
  • A team in which every Pokémon has a move that causes itself to faint.
  • A team made up entirely of Psychic-type Pokémon (that isn't the same as Avery's).
  • A team made up entirely of Pokémon that can Gigantamax.
  • A team in which 5 of the Pokémon resemble food; the 6th is Frost Rotom (and is so far the only time I've encountered Frost Rotom online.)
And despite their silliness, every one of them was just as tough as the standard competitive teams I'd more commonly run into online. These people WANT you to brush them off as worthless, when in truth all of those teams were created with the Ranked metagame in mind and designed to counter standard strategies.

Naturally, you don't have to make themed teams. I myself put together teams based on whatever Pokémon I really like at the moment, though sometimes I can't find a good place for it and I save it for later. Sometimes, generations later, as is with the case with Zoroark, having waited four generations to make it onto a team of mine.
 
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