Competitive Glossary for Beginners

Competitive Glossary

At the very beginning of your competitive journey, it’s quite common to hear and read words and expressions that you may not recognize. As time goes by, you will start understanding and embracing these concepts. However, if someone had explained them to you first, it would have been easier.

We have gathered here some of these concepts that are essential for those starting to play and compete. You can find them sorted by theme and may also look them up alphabetically.

salamence-mega Victory Road Generic words

VGC

Acronym for Video Game Championships. It refers to both the format and the official circuit of Pokémon events, supported by TPCi.

TPCi

Acronym for The Pokémon Company International, the company that runs/supports official Pokémon events all around the World.

Format

VGC events managed by TPCi are regulated by formats, which are a set of rules and regulations that are applied to every tournament played while that format is official. Victory Road’s events are regulated by these formats as well, to keep up with the official standards.

You may see these formats referred to as ‘VGCxx‘, where the xx is replaced by a year. As a general rule, a format named VGC17 will be played during all of 2017, but every year specific dates are applied, so make sure to check out the current format in play.

Season

TPCi’s circuit of events is divided into seasons, a period of 12 months between September and August of the following year. For example, the 2020 Season started in September 2019 and will end at the 2020 World Championships.

This means that, as a general rule, at least two formats will be played during each season. For instance, players will keep using the VGC19 (Ultra Series) ruleset for events in the 2020 season until Jan. 4, 2020, where all events will transition into VGC20.

Championship Points (CP)

The best players at every VGC event receive Championship Points (abbreviated as CP) according to the event type and placement they got. Players having a certain amount of CP at the end of a season will be awarded invites to the World Championships. Check out here the CP payouts and requisites for the 2020 season.

Once the season has finished, all players get back to 0 CP.

Metagame

Set of Pokémon commonly seen within a format, usually centralizing it. For instance, the VGC18 format had a metagame of around 40 Pokémon like Kangaskhan, Tapu Fini, Tyranitar, Metagross, Cresselia, Kartana…

Keep in mind that metagame only refers to the Pokémon used the most, whereas format englobes all the Pokémon avaiable during a certain period of time. Despite this, people will oftentimes use format and metagame interchangeably — look out for the context!

STAB

Abbreviation for Same Type Attack Bonus, refers to the 50% damage increase of any given move used by a Pokémon that shares the same typing of the move.

For example, Tapu Lele gets a 50% boost when using Dazzling Gleam because both (Pokémon and Attack) are Fairy-Type. This doesn’t apply if the same Pokémon uses an attack that differs on typing, like Thunderbolt. 

Movepool

Set of viable moves in competitive play that a Pokémon may learn (by leveling up, TM, tutor…).

Nerf

Any Pokémon or mechanic that suffers a power/utility reduction is said to be nerfed, that is, weakened. For example, the 7th gen nerfed the move Thunder Wave by reducing its accuracy from 100% (always hits the opponent) to 90%.

Testing

Playing with a team that is not yet “completed” to find its weaknesses and weak points in order to improve it. Keep in mind that this is completely subjective.

MVP

Abbreviation for Most Valuable Player. It refers to the Pokémon that contributes the most to any given team’s success along the different games played at one or multiple events.

salamence-mega Victory Road In-battle concepts

Set (of matches)

Players compete in Pokémon VGC by enrolling in battles against each other. A battle is also known as a game or match.

When playing at events, players will dispute sets of these battles. The number of battles played in each set depends on the tournament structure, and will always be announced before it starts.

Bo1/Bo3

Abbreviation for Best of 1/3. It refers to the number of games used to decide the winner of a set of battles between two players.

Most of the time, sets will be played best of 3. In that case, whoever wins 2 games, wins the set. There are a few scenarios:

  1. Player A wins games 1 & 2 → A wins the set 2-0
  2. Player B wins games 1 & 2 → B wins the set 2-0
  3. Player A/B wins game 1, the other player wins game 2 → a game 3 is played → A/B wins the set 2-1

Win ratio

Ratio of games won out of all games played during practice sessions or at events. Normally used to quantify a team’s performance.

Match-up (MU)

Describes the advantage (or disadvantage) of a given team against any other team or Pokémon. This is normally used to refer to how well you fare against them, so you will hear expressions like “my team has a great match-up against Xerneas/Groudon teams” or “I had a terrible match-up against Nihilego”, for example.

Midgame / Lategame

Midgame is the state of the game after the first 2-3 turns, whereas lategame refers to the final ones before the match ends.

"Free" turn

Turn in which a player is allowed to switch, deal damage or set-up with its Pokémon at no cost because the opposing Pokémon do not set-up nor attack, their attacks are not effective, or they switch out of the field.

OHKO, 2HKO, nHKO

Amount of attacks needed to knock-out a Pokémon. This is used when calculating how many times you should use the same attack against a certain target. For instance, if my Aegislash can 2HKO a Heatran with Sacred Sword, that means I only need 2 hits to knock it out.

Outspeed

A Pokémon outspeeds another one when it is faster. Speed is determined by a lot of factors, so you will hear this very often.

An easy way to identify which Pokémon on the field outspeed each other is the ability activation and the attack order. Some Pokémon have abilities that trigger a message when they enters the field (such as Intimidate or Electric Surge). The order in which these abilities activate depends on speed, so if my Tapu Lele’s Psychic Surge activates before my Salamence’s Intimidate, Tapu Lele will be faster.

Similarly, the order in which Pokémon attack is determined by speed (and can be reversed using Trick Room!). If you pay attention during the first turns of a match, chances are you will exactly know how fast your team is compared to your opponent’s.

Speed tie

Situation in which both Pokémon have the same speed stat, so the turn order (who attacks first) is decided randomly by the game on a 50/50 basis (like flipping a coin).

Flinch(ing)

Effect of some moves, like Rock Slide, Icicle Crash, which makes the target Pokémon unable to attack during that turn.

While this is usually a secondary effect, the move Fake Out will always flinch its target if used on the first turn the user is on the field (otherwise, it won’t have any effect).

Spam(ing)

Using a move repeatedly on consecutive turns because there are no drawbacks on doing so. For example, a player’s Choice Scarf Landorus may use Rock Slide every turn as it moves the first of all Pokémon on the field and may flinch either foe.

Slot

This may refer to either moves (move slot) or Pokémon.

Each team is made up of 6 Pokémon, each of them allocated on a slot. You will usually hear someone talk about “how hard it was to find the perfect final slot for a team” to refer to the 6th Pokémon.

Similarly, Pokémon can only learn 4 moves, and they are allocated on slots. The fourth slot of several Pokémon is used to include protecting moves that may prevent damage against the user and/or its partners, like Protect or Wide Guard.

Target

The target of an attack is the receiving end of it, that is, the one losing health, getting infatuated… Single-target moves can only hit the selected foe, whilst double target moves can hit both opponents.

Roll

Damage-dealing attacks do not inflict a specific, constant amount every time they are used (like, 40 HP or 26.5%). The amount of damage received by the target is randomly chosen by the game from a pre-set range (i.e, 120-137 HP or 38.6-44.7%).

Since the exact amount dealt depends on probabilities, the range is known as roll, and has its lower ends (the smallest amounts possible within the range) and higher ends (the highest amounts).

Stall

Strategy that consists on defeating the opposing Pokémon thanks to residual damage dealt turn after turn.

This also refers to Pokémon with great defensive base stats to tank attacks from the opponents while their HP is gradually reduced. Celesteela can wall lots of Pokémon due to its incredible defences and typing while can defeat them just using the Leech Seed + Protect + Leftovers combination. 

Benchmark

A benchmark is a key condition players have in mind when designing their Pokémon when it comes to natures, EVs…

Benchmarks can be both offensive (I want my Salamence to always 2HKO a Tapu Fini with Double-Edge) or defensive (I also want my Salamence to take the standard Cresselia’s Ice Beam). They may also refer to speed (to always outspeed a certain threat when under Tailwind).

Speed creep(-ing)

Speed creeping consists of adding a few extra EVs in speed in order to outspeed a certain threat by more than 1 point.

Let’s say you’re trying to outspeed the most common set of Groudon (which has 125 speed) with your Tapu Fini. To do so, you would only need an 126 effective stat. However, chances are other players have thought of doing the same. If you added a few extra EVs to hit 127 or even 128 speed, you would be speed creeping that variant of Groudon.

salamence-mega Victory Road Pokémon Roles

Core

Group of Pokémon (usually 3, though it can be 2 or 4 at times) that works well together. Each Pokémon is covered by other members of the core both offensive and defensively. This mutual coverage is known as synergy.

Usually, cores are nicknamed based on the Pokémon they feature, or their typings. A FWG core stands for any viable core made up of Fire, Water and Grass-type members, whereas the RayOgre core indicates a team with both Rayquaza and Kyogre.

Check

Pokémon A is said to check Pokémon B if it can effectively knock it out or prevent it from posing a threat as long as it moves before B. However, if B can severely damage or even knock-out A when moving first, or if A has to switch into the field to stop B and gets caught by its attack, then A is not a check of B. This allows us to establish the difference between check and counter.

Let’s say you’re using a Tapu Koko to stop Kyogre: if your Tapu Koko is on the field as the Kyogre comes in, you might say you are checking Kyogre, as you’re the one posing a clear threat.

Nonetheless, if the opposing Kyogre players under Tailwind, or if Trick Room is activated, or you have to switch Tapu Koko in the middle of a turn with Kyogre in play, then your Tapu Koko no longer checks Kyogre, because it will get knocked out before it moves by a Water-type attack.

Counter

Pokémon A will counter Pokémon B as long as it can effectively knock it out or prevent it from becoming a threat while also reliably taking its attacks. The main difference with a check is that counters have no hard time to switch into any of B’s attacks.

An easy example is Tapu Fini, able to reliably counter Hydreigon thanks to its Fairy-type, making it immune to Dragon-type attacks and resistant to Dark-type moves. At the same time, Hydreigon’s quadruple weakness to moves like Moonblast allows Tapu Fini to counter it.

Win condition (Wincon)

A win condition is a Pokémon or scenario that a player needs in order to secure that they win the game. Being able to identify and protect yours while disrupting your opponent’s is key during a match.

Speed control

Pokémon or moves that allow the players to control the speeds of their Pokémon, or even the entire field. Having the speed favorable for you is key for an optimal positioning during the battle. Moves like Trick Room, Icy Wind or Tailwind are the most common; while Tornadus, Tapu Fini or Cresselia are common and excellent Pokémon to apply them.

Sweeper

Sweepers are Pokémon with strong offensive potential, being able to defeat most (or all) the remaining Pokémon after boosting its stats, thus being set-up sweepers, like Xerneas after using Geomancy, or once the game approaches the end (lategame scenario).

Abuser

Abusers are Pokémon that take advantage of a specific move, status condition or field condition. For example, Ludicolo under the rain is a weather abuser thanks to its ability Swift Swim (doubles its speed), whereas Alolan Raichu’s Surge Surfer acts similarly when Electric Terrain is active.

Revenge killer

Pokémon whose function is switching into the field once a partner has been knocked out in order to inflict severe damage (usually KO) the opponents on the next turn. For example, despite of its inability to tank hits, Tapu Koko inflicts huge damage to almost every Pokémon if switches in to replace a defeated partner.

Support

Pokémon or moves with the main goal of helping the rest of the team, which will defeat the foes. Supportive Pokémon usually have several moves and items to fit multiple teams’ specific needs.

Lead

Pair of Pokémon selected first on the team preview screen. They will be sent into the field to play the first turn.

Back

Pair of Pokémon selected for the battle but not as leads. These are the ones who are on the bench to switch into the battle if needed.

Fast mode

The fast mode of any team is made up by its 1-2 fastest Pokémon, usually among the fastest of the metagame as well.

This is common to find on teams where Trick Room (or other set-ups) is essential to the strategy, because it allows to pressure without having to set Trick Room up, and the fast mode Pokémon can usually ease the smooth execution of other strategies by allowing the user to pivot.

Phazer

Pokémon that uses moves that force the opponent to leave the field, such as Roar or Whirlwind. It is not weird to see Incineroar using Roar to force opposing Xerneas to switch and lose the stat boosts of Geomancy.

Trapper

Pokémon whose ability prevents the opponent to be switched out. These abilities have different effects, as Shadow Tag can’t trap Ghost Type Pokémon, Magnet Pull can only trap Steel Type creatures and Arena Trap has no effect on those Pokémon who are not in contact with the field (Flying Type and the ones with the Levitate ability).

Pivot

Pokémon commonly used for switching and repositioning during a game. These Pokémon are either sturdy or fast, because they have to exert pressure (either offensive or defensive) on their own, and also be solid switch-ins to save your other Pokémon in the middle of a turn.

Staple pivots are Incineroar (because of Intimidate, solid stats, great defensive typing, access to Fake Out and U-Turn) and Tapu Koko (offensive typing, can override other terrains upon switching in, learns Volt Switch).

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