Not improving

Discussion in 'Question & Answer' started by snooze11, Apr 8, 2017.

  1. snooze11

    snooze11 Member

    Jan 27, 2017
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    hello everyone! I've been playing VGC for several years now and At first I seemed to be improving but for the last 3 years I've been stuck in the same place. I haven't been able to improve my ladder ratings constantly or my win percentage, I have yet to preform above average at tournaments of any level, Ect. I've tried reading every article I can find I study past VGC tournaments and why players make the moves they did I've used successful teams from tournaments and still I don't see or feel any improvement! It's really starting to get to me. Have any of you been like this before? How did you break through that wall? Any advice would be nice I'm not sure what else to do to get to that next level. Help!
    WingedDragon likes this.
  2. Pyreon

    Pyreon Member

    Jan 27, 2017
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    Practice, practice and practice. Discuss with other people, have someone telling you the mistakes you did while playing and so on.
    Using successful teams does not guarantee success. It has to do with your ability to use the team and that only comes with practice. Each player has their own play style and each player feels comfortable with different teams.

    Practice will make you able to predict better, to manage your games better, to use your team better. Take notes, replay matches, find someone who can play with you over and over again so you can learn how to overcome some specific matchups. Those are all things that help.

    I'm not a top player myself, but this is what I try to do to improve, and I feel I am improving and starting to get some small results. It may be slow for some players, for some others it may be fast. We're not all the same, some players are naturally better or have more time/resources and have quicker success. No need to panic, just have fun playing and trying to improve.
    Pudgeysaurus likes this.
  3. Tamtam

    Tamtam Member

    Jan 27, 2017
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    I'm another very average-at-best player, so when I feel like I'm not improving, I look at what the top players do that I don't, or that I struggle to do. Here are a few things I've noticed:

    - They play with their friends! This may seem like an obvious point, but most top players have a circle of friends whom they keep in contact with daily (or if not daily, then at least often). They bounce ideas off each other, they teambuild together, they test together, they play BO3s, and as such they have a big advantage over a player who's trying to make it on their own. Getting a second perspective on your team or on your plays can be a massive help. I'd also like to note that it's important to find a friend with whom you can do this regularly, and not just once per month!

    - They don't give up and are able to make surprising comebacks. A lot of players, when put in a bad spot, get tilted and stop thinking, leading to them throwing the game even if there was a chance for them to win (I'm definitely guilty of this). A good example of a comeback of sorts is this part from one of Wolfe's Championship Challenge videos: when I first watched the match, I thought he had little to no chance of winning from that position unless he managed to get a burn, but instead he stalls out his opponent with Perish Song while avoiding Rough Skin damage by choosing to attack himself instead of the Garchomp, something I would not have even considered. As another example, if your only way to win involves double freezing your opponent's two mons, then you should go for it regardless of how unlikely it might be to happen. Don't click the forfeit button until it's truly over (at least not in a real tournament! Anything goes on the ladder).

    - Knowing your win cons is another thing average players sometimes struggle with. If your opponent brings a Celesteela and the only mon on your team that is able to do any real damage to it is Arcanine, then Arcanine would be your win con. Pretty simple so far. But this means that trading your Arcanine for your opponent's Kartana early on is not a good play in this particular situation, as it leaves you with no way to beat Celesteela later in the game. A newer player might be tempted to make such a trade regardless, but a more experienced player would choose to keep their Arcanine safe instead.

    - They play around hax. Are you in a situation where you're guaranteed to win unless your opponent double flinches you with Rock Slide? A less experienced player would likely take the risk, but a more experienced one might instead try to find an alternative way that allows them to win regardless of whether they are flinched or not or that minimizes the risk of hax, perhaps by doing some clever switching.

    - They get in their opponent's heads. This is just me saying to make reads, which is obvious, but I often find I spend too much time thinking about what play I should make when I should really be thinking about which play my opponent wants to make, and responding to that instead.
    Prof. Almeida, JediR and anti spiral like this.
  4. Wult

    Wult Member

    Jan 30, 2017
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    As the other's above have said, practice! Putting in the time helps. However, I want to emphasize quality over quantity. It is important to practice a lot with your team, be comfortable knowing offensive and defensive damage calcs, knowing speed tiers, knowing how other archetypes play against your team (i.e. knowing that, for example, no-one ever brings tapu lele against your team, so you don't need to worry about it so much in team preview).

    It is important that every time you go to practice, you are getting something out of it. It doesn't matter if you play 10-15 games a day if you aren't learning something from it. I am very bad at this, personally, and I try to fix it when I can. I find it best to take notes as though I was at a larger tournament, this forces me to think more when I play. It's also important to note that top players analyze their matches after they are finished, to see what they could have done better. I hope this helps!
  5. Milhau5

    Milhau5 Member

    Feb 8, 2017
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    Wakefield, MA
    1. You can watch better players. Try to find tournament matches commentated by Cybertron or Ray Rizzo, they're the few announcers that pick apart the players' decision-making process. Alternatively, watched the Road to Ranked series.

    2. If you can, fight against stronger players. You won't improve if you keep going up against people that don't give you a challenge. The only way to do this without going to an IRL event is joining and online tourney.

    3. Try using different teams. I was stuck in a rut for a while with a Salamence team that used to do well. Then was able to recognize my true potential when I started using a better team that's better adapted to the meta and has more advantageous matchups. At the very least, using a variety of different Pokemon is a first-hand lesson in meta threats: what is a Pokemon's strengths, weakness, and how do users of this Pokemon play it in certain situations?
  6. NoDam

    NoDam New Member

    Apr 3, 2017
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    In my opinion you shouldn't focus too hard on predicting opponent's move. You are human, you cannot read people's mind. And you cannot be sure that your opponent is able to think.
  7. Ace Trainer Andrew

    Ace Trainer Andrew Member

    Jan 27, 2017
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    Ohio, United States
    Personally, I think it is pretty important to be good at prediction. At least try to be aware of possible moves and what will and won't Protect (especially if you run High Jump Kick!), but never gamble a match on a prediction unless you have to. People can do unpredictable things, so don't, say, double up into something because you think its partner will Protect if the partner could throw the match in the opponent's favor by attacking. Prediction is about contingencies to be aware of, not certainties to base your play upon.
  8. Rinhos

    Rinhos New Member

    May 3, 2017
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    Let me share my experience:
    I genuinely think I am a pretty smart guy. Yes, I say it without shame. Sometimes I built some teams and I was very happy with them, I won like 8 games in a row in Battlespot and I was superconfident. Then I started losing a lot and my self confidence went to the floor and I thought I sucked. It will probably happen again and again.

    Although, now I am starting to not lose so much anymore, and I think I have understood why.
    It's important, in my opinion, to give everything the right amount of importance:

    Team building:
    having a good team that wins tournament is definitely important. BUT, it is even more important your confidence with the team and your understanding of the team. Using a good team inappropriately is just like using a crappy one. I did this mistake several times, and now I never use QR code teams or other people's teams anymore. Your feeling with the team is the most important. Example: I love Drifblim-Lele and I copied Aaron's team, but I lost a lot because I didn't like to use Arcanine and Metagross due to of the poor (IMHO) sinergy with my own Garchomp, plus, the metagame right now is full of Arcanine and Garchomps. I added then Gyarados and Gastrodon to deal with Rain, but then I was hugely weak to hail teams. Gigalith was then the solution, when I added him my win rate sky rocketed.

    The most important thing in team building, IMO, is YOUR style of playing. The team should come next. Never ever the other way round. For instance, Trick Room teams are usually very good, but I hate playing TR, therefore I never do :) you should first of all figure out what is your most comfortable style of playing.

    Bad plays:
    I will say now something probably very impopular:
    I think that prediction skills are like the 20-30% of the game. Not much more.
    Of course, some games, especially at a very high level, are decided by 50-50 calls and by the guts you have to make a read, but I think that most of the times being in the position of making solid plays that pay off a lot if they succeed and have relatively little downsides if they fail is the key. You won't win every game, but you will win a lot more.
    Have a look at Wolfey (which is, IMO, the best player that ever existed) and his phenomenal 2016 team. With that team, you could play supersafe almost every single turn of a match, because of Fake Outs, Nuzzles, Intimidates and a freaking scary Rayquaza that was ready to destroy you if you dared to make a call. With such a team, if you know how it works, there's absolutely no need to predict. No wonder that that team top8ed three times in Masters (and I think even Brandon Zheng did top 8 in Seniors).
    Being able to play as safe as possible is much better than predicting.

    Learning from your own mistakes (properly):
    Don't be stubborn. If you see that a Pokemon in your team is not working, take it away! If you see that bringing it is a dead weight, even if the matchup is in theory good, don't bring it. I was really proud of my Rindo Berry Gastrodon and his Stockpiling and becoming a monster, and I brought it almost in every game. Yeah, that won me probably 2-3 games. For the rest of the time, it stood there doing literally nothing.
    Also, re-watching your losses is crucial. I once figured out that 80% of my losses were caused by a late-game Garchomp sweep from my opponent, so the following times when I saw Garchomp in the preview I was very careful of keeping my Gyarados and my Lele alive as much as possible, even at cost of losing another mon for free. It helped a lot! I had AV Kartana but every time I was against Celesteela I was superscared. I went back to Focus Sash.
    Yeah, changing a lot of sets, especially when you need to breed egg moves and stuff, is a pain. But it has to be done. The team has to be perfect, otherwise don't play.

    Hax is nothing:
    My final point; complaining about hax is the first step towards mediocrity.
    Let's face it: hax exists and is annoying; however, if properly countered, is the least important thing in a game. I had a game today where in two turns my Gyarados was burned from a Fire Blast and I had three accuracy drops of Muddy Water, one on Lele and two on Gyarados, with following double miss of Moonblast onto Garchomp. I was so upset I wanted to ragequit, but then I calmed down and, somehow, I pulled that game off. I was so proud of that game like I never was before. Loot at Wolfey again: in his Regional Finals of VGC2015, his opponent got a triple Protect with Terrakion in Trick Room. Nevertheless, Wolfe still won, not even struggling so much (with all due respect, of course). That means that he put himself in such a position that hax was only stalling the opponent's agony.

    Hax can be huge if ignored. Hax is virtually nothing, if every precaution has been taken.
    Fun fact: somehow, I never miss 80 precision moves, like Stone Edge. I almost always miss 95 moves (High Horsepower and Fire Fang is my favourite ones to miss. Don't ask me why :D :D). I also never, ever, ever burn with Scald. That's also why I dumped Gastrodon xD

    I hope I gave some things to think about
    good luck!
  9. Pudgeysaurus

    Pudgeysaurus New Member

    May 10, 2017
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    Improvement comes with practice and adaptability to various meta changes.

    You need to be able to predict a Pokemon's moveset accurately (80/90% is a notable number as at this point you can develop strategies using what you have)
    By learning the more common sets you are able to predict the moves your opponent makes. If you can force your opponent into sub-optimal plays through prediction and careful switches you improve your chances of winning.

    Learn the notable ev benchmarks and write them down or stockpile them in a PDF file. By knowing sets you know the EVs the opponent is carrying, this further enhances your predictions and pressures the opponent.

    Ev benchmarks are the biggest tool you have in forcing switches. If your opponent sees a specific pairing he/she can switch to counter allowing for either chip damage, free status condition (also referred to as "hazing" by some) or momentum.

    Momentum. This is possibly the most important word to learn in VGC. While on the surface the format looks slow, certain strategies like Tailwind and Trick Room force the battle momentum in a single players favour. By using certain strategies you can put your opponent and a big disadvantage. Certain Pokemon such as Mimikyu while looking bad on paper force momentum in a single players favour by forcing the opponent to "over commit" attacks just to remove it. It's exceptional at setting up Trick Room for its team and forms a great neutral core with Curse Snorlax. Since Snorlax is very slow it's quite problematic in trick room. By understanding strategies like this and how to efficiently counter them you give yourself momentum in battle by knowing what to target/commit/switch

    This is probably the most asinine advice as you've probably heard it already a thousand times, but master type matchups. Alongside knowing strategies, sets and switches, you'll further increase your own skills by knowing what types the opponent's Pokemon are weak to, are immune to and resist.

    Learn every ability a Pokemon can learn. Some Pokemon have abilities that hold them back (Golisopod) and some have abilities that make them better than they first appeared (Persian-A has Thick Coat(?)). If you know what ability an opposing mon has you can counter it with greater confidence.

    Learn basic team cores. This might seem obvious but by learning basic team cores you learn which ability is better suited for your Pokemon.
    A quick example of a basic core is Togedamaru and Tapu Fini. Tapu Fini is weak to electric attacks, while Togedamaru has the ability Lighting Rod. Combined with Togedamaru's access to Fake Out you are able force your opponent into sub-optimal moves if they lead with Tapu Koko and Raichu. (There are many more examples, but this should suffice)

    Watch streams, YouTube videos etc. By knowing what Pokemon the best use, why they use them, what moves etc you gain a better feel for what you might start your team with.

    Practice. Again and again and again, practice. The biggest innovations come from hours of practice. A notable example would be Sejun Park changing the Amooongus he toured with for Pachirisu. It accomplished a similar goal while having a better matchup with the more prevalent M-Gyarados at the time.

    This might be a lot of information to take in and I do apologise for the length.

    There is another thing I forgot to mention. No matter what you do or don't do regarding any advice given, have fun. If you aren't having fun, take a few days break to clear your head then go back refreshed. Playing while stressed is the biggest performance block.

    If anybody else has anything add, please do, I usually forget a lot :)

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