Ask The Experts: Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom) on Team Building

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Ask The Experts is a new column where we interview respectable players and try to get their opinions on the basics of competitive Pokemon. Read on to hear their insight! 

This time, we’re covering Collin Heier, more commonly known by his online handle TheBattleRoom. Collin had his breakthrough year this past VGC ’14 season, placing 4th in the Kansas City Regional, 1st in the Madison Regional, and ultimately finishing 3rd in the World Championships after qualifying through Championship Points. Today, he’s going to talk to us about the basics of team building! 

Chalkey Horenstein: What do you feel should be on every team you build?

Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom): Every since I began VGC I have used heavy speed control. My name is even based off of the move Trick Room. My two most successful teams this season have had an emphasis on speed control. I used a Trick Room based team at the Madison Regionals and at Worlds my team was based heavily around Thunder Wave support Zapdos.

Chalkey: I noticed you mention speed control as a big priority, but that you have used both Trick Room and Paralysis (so both under speeding and out speeding, depending on the team). What makes one better than the other for a given situation?

TBR: Back in Spring no one was ready for Trick Room, so I made the call and chose to play it at both Madison and Kansas City. I try to pick the speed control that can fit the best in the current meta. I personally felt that Trick Room would be countered for Worlds and I expected trouble if I ran it. Thunder Wave allowed me to use a more dynamic team that focuses more on me reacting to a team over my Trick Room team which focused on being in control.

Chalkey: How do you know when you’ve made a successful team?

TBR: Usually when I team build, I keep testing and using different things until I get a gut feeling that this is the team I need to use. Something clicks when I start using the team and it feels good to play.

Chalkey: How do you know whether to keep practicing with a team, or scrap it in favor of something else?

TBR: When I team build I am constantly trying new things. I keep testing and using different Pokemon and different Mega Evolutions until I find something that I can feel comfortable with. Generally I decide to scrap a team if it doesn’t fit my play style or it has too many holes that I cannot fix.

Chalkey: Followup question: when is it time to retire a team you have had a lot of success with and try a new one? I notice some players will keep the same team or core all season, and some change teams every tournament. What is your rule of thumb?

TBR: My rule of thumb is to always trash a team after an event. I actually broke the rule this year when I attended U.S. Nationals as I had no team ready and was forced to use my Regionals team. But besides that I have made a new team before each event. I also tend to avoid similar cores or similar Pokemon when I build a new team. I tend to rebuild my old teams or make teams very similar to an old one if I use old cores. I also like to keep my teams fresh with the meta.

Chalkey: What is something about teambuilding that you think not a lot of players understand? What is something you do that you don’t think many others do?

TBR: I think some players think that if you put in the time you should get the results but that’s not always true. There needs to be a drive and desire to get better. Attitude plays an important role in all things. If I blame the game or the opponent, I don’t grow as a person or a player.

Chalkey: when you say a player needs to put more than just time in, what should they specifically be doing and looking for while practicing?

TBR: I usually look for holes or issues for my team. If my team has a bad matchup vs something very common I try and fix it or make a new team. Also when I practice I like to save my replays of my losing matches so I can watch them back later and see how and why I lost. I figure out if it was a playing thing or a team thing, and I adapt accordingly. I also think working with friends can help a lot. I like to run my team past several people before every event.

Chalkey: What is your biggest problem when trying to balance your team choices and moves? How do you address that problem?

TBR: I always try to make my teams as defensive as I can while maintaining the proper offense to do well. I try not to have 3 weakness to a type and I also try to have 2 resists to almost every type. I use the team builder on Teammagma.net. Typing is very important to my team building as it allows me to switch easily.

Chalkey: We’re almost out of time – thank you so much for doing this, by the way!

TBR: No problem. As a noob, Wolfe [Glick] helped me out. He gave me advice that I play by. So I want to do the same – anyone who messages me I respond back and I try to help people.

Chalkey: What was advice Wolfe gave you?

TBR: To always use teams you make, because they are always better than stolen teams. That, and it’s more fun to play this game with something you make.

Chalkey: Any particular reason that feels true to you?

TBR: It gives a sense of accomplishment that something you crafted and put all this work into has succeeded and has won some tournament. I also think team building is the real fun behind this game, I love building and crafting new ideas

Chalkey: There’s also something to be said about being more familiar with how a team works if you personally designed it.

TBR: Yeah. You know all the flaws and issues and you can play around that.

Chalkey: Anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?

TBR: I need to thank, Benji, Blake, Oliver, Ryan, and Toler. These guys have been instrumental in my success and I would not have made it as far as I have. Thank you for Listening! I hope this helped.

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About Author

Chalkey Horenstein is the Editor of Team Magma. In his spare time, he also writes for Retroware TV. When not playing pokemon, he works for a homeless shelter in Boston, and enjoys traveling, running, and eating as much food as possible.