About Team Battles

PVP IV team battles (aka “PVP IV team builder”) is a tool to help you build strong teams. Choose a league then enter up to three Pokemon to identify which Pokemon they do well against, which Pokemon are threats, and which Pokemon might also pair well with them. This article goes into detail about the team builder’s features and how to use them.

It’s important to remember that any type of scoring or ranking is somewhat arbitrary, especially when what you’re scoring becomes more complicated and abstract. Team Battles are PVP IV’s most abstracted feature (basically built on top of Rankings, which in turn are built on top of 1 vs All battles, which are built on top of 1 vs 1 Battles). As such you should avoid putting too much emphasis on the score a team gets; always look at individual matchups and overall record as well.

Background

When entering your team, you select a role for each Pokemon (Lead, Switch, or Closer) as well as a team strategy (Balance, Overlap, or Anti-Meta). I discuss these terms in detail in my guide to reaching Rank 10, so I recommend reading that. But I provide a summary here.

Roles within a team:

  • Lead: The Pokemon you send out first.
  • Switch: The Pokemon you switch to if your lead has a bad matchup.
  • Closer: The Pokemon that comes out last, unless it counters a Pokemon your opponent switches in.

Team strategies:

  • Balance: A team of 3 Pokemon with minimal shared weaknesses.
  • Overlap: A team where the switch and closer share strengths and weaknesses.
  • Anti-Meta: A team of 3 Pokemon which don’t necessarily have strong synergy, but have many positive matchups against the most common Pokemon.

Scoring

This team’s score is 51.09.

When you enter a team (or part of one), it’s given a score indicating how strong it is. The higher the score the better. This score is computed based on each Pokemon’s individual score against each opponent; individual scores are described in About Rankings. The team’s combined score against each opponent is shown in the Meta Matchups and Threats sections.

Beyond just summing individual scores for an opponent, the following modifiers are applied:

  • For all team types, if a team’s score against an opponent is negative, it’s weighted more heavily. This punishes teams for having few or no counters to an opponent, i.e. for lacking synergy.
    • For Balance and Overlap teams, the weight is the initial sum squared.
    • For Anti-Meta teams, the weight is the initial sum to the power of 1.2.
  • For Overlap teams, if both the switch and closer lose to the opponent, those losses are averaged rather than summing both of them. Inversely, if both the switch and closer have a winning matchup against an opponent, their combined score is squared. This is all done before adding the modified score to the lead’s score and squaring the sum if it’s negative.
    • This promotes balance between the lead and the other Pokemon, but promotes overlapping strengths and weaknesses between the switch and closer.
  • For anti-meta teams, the score for each opponent is weighted based on the opponent’s rank in that league’s rankings. This is done after squaring.
    • This promotes teams with wins over the league’s most popular Pokemon, often more than it punishes losses – even hard ones – against less popular Pokemon.

Implications

Because the scoring system is different for each type of team, it’s meaningless to compare a team’s score as a Balance team to its score as an Overlap team (refer to Better Alternatives for an indicator for this type of comparison). However, it is meaningful to compare one Balance team’s ranking to another Balance team ranking; as such, the main reason to look at the score (rather than less abstracted metrics like wins and threats) is usually to rank alternatives.

Also, note that the placement of the Pokemon (lead vs switch vs closer) only impacts the team’s score for Overlap teams. Because of simplifications like this, it’s always possible that some “bad” teams will score well, for example teams without a good safe switch. This is just another reason to take the score with a grain of salt.

Why square negative scores?

Negative scores (losing matchups) are squared to identify synergy. If losses weren’t squared, the best-rated team would always be a team with the 3 highest-rated Pokemon in the league (or 3 copies of the single highest-rated Pokemon) because adding those Pokemon would add the most points to the team’s score.

However, it’s often the case that we prefer to pair slightly lower-ranked Pokemon with our highly-ranked ones if they have complementary typing. For example, Azumarill and Registeel or Azumarill and Stunfisk Galarian each make a more balanced pair than Stunfisk Galarian and Registeel, even though Azumarill has the lowest individual ranking of the three.

Squaring losses correctly ranks Registeel and Stunfisk Galarian as the worst of these three pairs because it punishes teams that have two (or three) Pokemon sharing bad matchups against the same opponent, more so than it rewards teams with multiple Pokemon sharing a good matchup against the same opponent.

Key Threats

This team has 7 key threats, one of which is a major threat.

An opponent is considered a Key Threat if the team as a whole has at least 6 losses against it across the 3 even shielding scenarios. It’s considered a Major Key Threat if it has a full 9 of 9 losses. Regardless of which type of team you’re using, you want these numbers to be as low as possible. If a team has a lot of key threats or a couple major key threats, it may be a sign that it’s not balanced or strong enough.

Note that the Pokemon appearing first in the All Matchups section won’t necessarily be the Pokemon considered Key Threats or Major Key Threats. This is because the All Matchups section is sorted by score, which is impacted by lag turns as well as win/loss record. You can look for Pokemon shown as having at least 6 (or 9) losses in the All Matchups section to identify which are counted as Key Threats.

Better Alternatives

For this team, there were 51 alternatives considered, and only two improved the team’s score.

It can be difficult to interpret the score for a team, since it’s only meaningful when compared to the score for other teams of the same type. To make these interpretations and comparisons easier, we have Better Alternatives.

Better Alternatives look at how many alternatives could replace an existing Pokemon in the team and increase the team’s score. If this number is low, it’s a good sign that the team is strong.

You can also use Better Alternatives to get a sense of what play style fits a team best. For example, looking at the Skarmory/Shiftry/Meganium team:

  • 73 of 79 better alternatives as a balance team.
  • 37 of 79 better alternatives as an overlap team.
  • 69 of 79 better alternatives as an anti-meta team.

We can see that this team will play best as an overlap team, meaning you’re more likely to switch your lead out of neutral matchups. Even as an overlap team, this team scores relatively middle-of-the-pack because Shiftry is not well-ranked on PVP IV. While I’d argue that this team is over-hyped, it’s undeniably had success in the past, so this is a good reminder that the team builder doesn’t always tell the whole story.

Record

This team has an overall record of 72-78-99. It has 123 wins in the 0 shield, 122 losses, and 4 neutral matchups. It looks like it’s relatively balanced between the three even shielding scenarios, adding bait-dependent matchups to decrease both its wins and losses in the 1 and 2 shield compared to the 0 shield.

A team’s record is just the sum of the record of the individual Pokemon on the team in the 3 even shielding scenarios. As such, it gives you a good indicator of how strong the individual Pokemon on the team are, ignoring how much synergy they have with each other.

As described in About 1 vs All Battles, there are three categories of outcomes for each Pokemon and shielding scenario. So, when we see 123-122-4, we know the team has 123 wins, 122 losses, and 4 neutral (tie or bait-dependent) matchups for that shielding scenario.

You can also use a team’s record to identify potential issues like too many expensive moves or too little bulk. For example, a team of Shadow Victreebel, Sableye, and Rainy Castform might seem like it would do well with three highly ranked Pokemon and an overall record of 68-56-125 (more wins than losses). But we see that it has 112 wins in the 0 shield, 109 wins in the 1 shield, and 144 wins in the 2 shield. This indicates we have three shield-dependent Pokemon that win most reliably in the 2 shield, and there won’t be enough shields to go around if we combine them.

Matchups & Threats

This team’s score against Giratina Altered is -2.89. Combined, the 3 Pokemon on this team have 2 winning scenarios, 5 losing scenarios, and 2 neutral scenarios against Giratina Altered in the 3 even shielding scenarios.

Matchups against individual Pokemon are shown in two separate sections: Core Meta Matchups and All Matchups. Core Meta Matchups are matchups against the few Pokemon which define a league’s meta. These are Pokemon you should always consider when building your team, and you might want to think twice about your team if it has bad scores in this section.

All Matchups are matchups against all Pokemon in the meta, sorted by increasing score; that is, the Pokemon most threatening to the team will be listed first.

Each row shows the team’s score against that opponent, as well as the record in the even shielding scenarios. You can tap on a row to show the matchup details, as well as the top alternatives’ matchups.

Alternatives

Adding Giratina Altered would improve this team’s score by 2.96 points.

When you enter some Pokemon or a full team, PVP IV also scores all other teams that could be made by adding or replacing one Pokemon in the team. Each Pokemon that could be added is ranked as an alternative, with the highest ranking alternatives listed first.

Different forms (shadow vs non-shadow) and movesets are ranked as separate alternatives, but any alternate forms or movesets with the same name as a Pokemon currently in the team aren’t considered. While this increases diversity in some ways, it also means that more obscure Pokemon not included in PVP IV’s main rankings won’t be considered as alternatives.

This approach is quite different from other team builders (most notably Pvpoke), which rank alternatives based primarily on how well they do against the team’s top threats. This means that the alternatives PVP IV suggest are usually higher-ranked Pokemon overall compared to Pvpoke, since they have to do better against all Pokemon the team might face, rather than just a few select ones.

Similarly, because alternatives are chosen based on how much they improve the team’s score, if you keep picking the top alternative, most teams will eventually “converge” to a highly ranked team where no alternative makes the team’s score improve. For example, many teams in Ultra League eventually become the core meta Swampert-Registeel-Giratina Altered team if you keep inserting the top alternative.

You can tap on an alternative to choose how to insert it into your team. If you’re a Pro member, you can also tap to open a Comparison Battle between the alternative and the Pokemon it would replace.

More Info

If you have questions about Team Battles or anything else in PVP IV, you can contact me. Thanks for reading!

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