Pokémon Unite Glossary: A Trainer’s Guide

If you’ve ever found yourself asking “What does Gank mean?” this is the post for you!

One of the biggest learning curves when picking up Pokémon Unite (or any MOBA) is all the terms and lingo that the community throws around. It can take a while to pick up on what these common phrases mean and how to apply them to your understanding of the game. 

To that end, we went and compiled a glossary of all the terms we use in this guide or when discussing Pokémon Unite. From basic terms like “tank” and “jungling” to crucial tactics such as “invading” and “harassing,” this glossary will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the battlefield and help your Pokémon emerge victorious. 

Feel free to use this as a quick reference whenever you bump into a phrase you’re unfamiliar with, or learn ‘em all to casually drop in conversation and impress your friends! How you use it is up to you.

AREA OF EFFECT (AOE)

Moves or abilities that impact an area of the map and can hit multiple opponents have an area they effect, thus AoE. Generally moves like this are indicated with a circular tool-tip when casting to show how large the affected area will be.

Piachu targeting a group of swablu's with an AoE attack.
Everything within the targeting circle is subject to your Move’s AoE Damage and Effect.

ATTACK (ATK) /SPECIAL ATTACK (SPA)

Pokémon either do physical attack damage (Atk) or special attack damage (Spa) pay attention to your Pokémon’s Damage type as items will only boost one stat or the other. Conversely, defensive items generally will only grant defense against a single damage type.

CARRY

Pokémon who have the ability to output large amounts of damage and turn the outcome of a game with their plays. It’s said a Pokémon “carries” a team through a game if they’re securing kills and objectives consistently throughout the game and were instrumental in the team’s victory.

BACK/BASE

Teleporting back to base to heal up or reposition for an upcoming objective.

BACKCAPPING/BACKCAP

Scoring when the enemy team is distracted by an objective or fight on the other side of the map. Most often this happens during the Rayquaza fight. 

DO NOT DO THIS.*

You can help your team more by being at the fight than you can with a single score.

* Editor’s Note: there are very specific times in well-planned coordination where this can be beneficial, but please try not to risk this behavior if unfamiliar. When in doubt, don’t!

A red arrow pointing to a drawing of Sableye with his hat on backwards, wearing a gold chain and holding some Aeos energy.
This guy right here is the worst offender. Sorry Sableye Mains… u know it’s true.

BAIT

To lure opposing Pokémon into a risky position. Baiting an opponent with a weak/tempting target so your Jungler can take advantage of them being out of place is a common strategy in early gameplay.

BATTLE ITEMS

These are items equipped to your Pokémon at the start of the map that have an active effect. These items require the player to activate them and grant an instant benefit to the user. Once used these items cannot be used again until they’ve come off cooldown.

BOT/TOP/JUNGLE

The locations, and roles, that a team occupies in a match of Pokémon Unite. Typically the breakdown is two players top and bottom with a roaming Jungler clearing the central area, but in competitive matches with cohesive teams, other laning strategies can sometimes be used.

BRAWLER

A melee-based character that excels in more extended engagements, using a blend of low cooldown moves and basic attack weaving to deal consistent maintained dps, while also sustaining itself through the use of self-healing or shielding.

BUFF/DEBUFF

A buff is a power-up you get in a game of Unite that boosts your Pokémon’s stats for a limited time. There are two kinds of Buffs within Unite. 

Map Buffs are available when you complete certain objectives on the map, such as the center farm or bottom Regi objectives. These buffs are represented with an aura around your character that will disappear when the buff ends. 

Alternatively, certain items or Pokémon have active abilities that will grant them short term buffs to their stats. Most Unite Moves grant a buff upon casting. 

A debuff is the opposite; it makes your character weaker. These are typically applied by opposing Pokémon’s moves.  

BULLY

To adopt a forceful playstyle, pressuring opposing Pokémon to keep them away from key in-game objectives or early game farm.

BURST

The ability to do large amounts of damage in a short combo or limited timeframe. 

COIN FLIP/FLIP

When both teams try to race Rayquaza instead of fighting one another for control of the central area. Often a desperation strategy. Committing to a team fight is generally better than trying for a coin flip at the endgame.

a gif of a coin spinning endlessly.
Try to avoid hinging a game on a coin flip.

COLLAPSE

To close in on an opposing Pokémon that’s stuck in a bad spot, with most of your team coming together to trap it.

COOLDOWN (CD)

The amount of time it takes for an ability to become usable again after you cast it.

CROWD CONTROL (CC)

Any moves that hinder the movement and/or capabilities of the opposing Pokémon, i.e stuns, slows, freezes, knockups, shoves, grabs, paralyzes, sleep.

DIVE

A coordinated effort to assault an opposing Pokémon, usually when the target is on their base or protected by their allies. 

DUNKING 

To score points within a game of Pokémon Unite.

FACE CHECK

Walking into a bush that you have no vision on to see if opposing Pokémon are present without testing for opponents by using a move or ability. This is risky as it can allow your opponents to ambush you. 

FARMING/FARM

KO-ing wild Pokémon on the map to gain levels and resources as you progress through the game.

FED/FEEDING

Used to describe a player/Pokémon who’s managed a lot of early game KOs, granting them a significant Experience lead and allowing them to snowball throughout the match and dominate the game. If you’re constantly getting KO’d by an opposing Pokémon, you’re considered to be FEEDING them experience.

Ciderace, Sobble and Pikachu eating from big bowls of Pokéfood.
These guys love to be fed. Don’t do it.

FLANKER

A character who uses superior mobility and/or lack of vision to take alternative routes other than head-on around an enemy team to reach priority targets. This is usually done by junglers or assassins to avoid frontlines and get their burst off safer.

FOG OF WAR

The darkened area of the map that you cannot see. This area represents a lack of information for your team.

GANK/COUNTER-GANK

To launch a surprise attack on an opposing Pokémon with the help of one or more teammates with the aim of catching them out of position or overwhelming them with force.

Counter-ganks are when you turn the tables and ambush the opposing team while they’re attempting their own surprise attack.

A gif of Gengar and several Haunters/Gastleys popping up ominously.
Pictured: an accurate depiction of how spooky getting ganked is.

GAP CLOSER

This refers to any high mobility move such as dashes or abilities that grant a movement speed buff, allowing a Pokémon to close the distance between them and their target.

GLASS CANNON

Pokémon that have access to a lot of Burst or DPS Damage, but also have small HP pools and can easily be KO’d if targeted.

HARASS

To annoy an opposing Pokémon with cautious offensive moves and strikes.

Pikachu and Charizard shooting attacks at one another.
Perfectly executed

HELD ITEMS

Items that are equipped to your Pokémon that grant a passive stat boost and effect. These items can be leveled up to level 30 by spending Item Enhancers, gaining large boosts in their effects at level 10 and 20. 

These items are always active and grant their benefits to your Pokémon within a game of Unite, though some of their effects may have cooldowns or require the player to meet certain conditions such as scoring goals.

INVADE

To enter opposing territory to bother or take neutral objectives, often describing entering the enemy jungle in an attempt to prevent or hamper their Jungler’s experience and levelling.

JUNGLE

The “Central Area” in a game of Pokémon Unite. The Jungle lies between the lanes and is filled with wild Pokémon, two of which grant higher than average experience and buffs.

KITE

To keep moving away from opponents, maintaining a safe range, while also attacking from a distance to continue dealing damage without retaliation.

LAST HIT/SECURE

In Pokémon Unite, all of the experience for KO-ing a wild Pokémon is granted to the player (and teammates of the player) who’s attack did the final bit of damage to a wild Pokémon. Given that, learning to properly last hit the wild Pokémon or “Secure” the experience or the objective’s effect.

Clefable sitting at a large control desk aimlessly clicking buttons, looking confused. Text reads: I have no idea what I'm doing.
If you don’t want to learn how to secure, Clefable is always a great option.

LEASH/LEASHING

Attacking an objective and then leaving that objective’s threat radius, causing it to return to it’s original position and healing damage that was taken. This is a useful strategy for denying objectives to the enemy team if you suddenly find yourself outnumbered by enemies and want to attempt to prevent them from stealing the objective out from under you.

MAGE

A character that uses ranged moves and casts (usually special damage) to do the vast majority of their damage. They generally exchange extreme frailness and poor mobility for this large ranged power.

MAP CONTROL

Refers to how much of the map you and your teammates can safely travel around and the advantage your team holds on the map at any given point. 

Oftentimes referencing macro game mechanics like your team’s positioning, vision and access to the desired area of the map, but can also refer to taking opponents bases to reduce their access to resources when engaging nearby objectives.    

MACRO

Macro is the big picture decision making about the game state and where you and/or teammates should be in relation to each other. 

Macro skills involve map awareness, anticipating where your opponents will be next, deciding which objectives hold the most value at any given time.

Your macro skills will be loosely the same no matter which Pokémon or role you’re playing as they have more to do with the game level strategy of Pokémon Unite.

MICRO

Micro gameplay is your moment to moment decision making and mechanical skill with the Pokémon you’re playing. Your skill with your Pokémon’s combos, cooldown timers, farm secure etc. falls into this category.  

NUKE

A strong move or skill designed mainly to take down a single opposing Pokémon with an overwhelming burst of damage.

Venusaur with a shadow full of mushroom clouds, eyes also replaced with mushroom clouds.
VeNUKEsaur, amirite?

OBJECTIVES

Objectives are the large wild Pokémon that spawn on the top, bottom and center of the map. KO-ing these Objectives will grant your team a benefit that will impact the match. These objectives have a 30 second spawn timer that appears on the match leading up to their arrival. 

Bottom Objectives: (Regirock, Registeel and Regice) will grant your team global experience and a buff, top objective (Regieleki) will push in top lane towards enemy base and the center objective (Rayquaza) spawns at the 2:00 minutes remaining mark and often wins the game for the team that secures it.

PEEL

Adopting a strategy that will slow down opposing Pokémon or otherwise prevent them from engaging or entering a fight, thus buying time for the target to escape or retaliate. This can be in the form of CC hindering their actions, or even large amounts of damage that discourage them from continuing their actions in fear of getting KO’d.

PING

Using the pre-set communication options or clicking on the map to send an alert to your team. Useful to coordinate plays or communicate with your team what you will be doing or going next.

A thanks ping.
Remember to ping Thanks! whenever anything happens ever, so your team knows you appreciate them.

POKE

To continuously harass an opposing Pokémon with long-range attacks or abilities to whittle down HP over time.

POWERSPIKE

A power spike is a milestone within a game of Pokémon Unite where a Pokémon gets a higher than average boost to their relative power and damage output. This can come in the form of getting their Unite Move, Evolving, or Unlocking a Skill that lets their combo come online.

PROC

A phrase to describe effects that activate under certain conditions, involving either landing a move hit, being hit, or an element of luck, like landing a critical hit.

PUSH

Attempting to advance forward and claim more ground up to your opponents base and score.

RAYQUAZA/RAY/RAY FIGHT

When there is 2:00 left in the game, Rayquaza will spawn in the center of the map.

Defeating Rayquaza will grant the team that secured him a shield that buffs auto attacks, your ability in moveslot 1 and triples scoring speed.

This is what every game of Pokémon Unite builds towards in the first eight minutes of the match. 

You should be with your team in the center when Rayquaza spawns, and have your Unite move available. Being absent for this fight often will give your opponents the victory. 

In standard there’s also Zapdos, but same considerations apply. Be there. Losing either of them often means losing the game.

Uncle Sam Poster with Rayquaza's face superimposed. Text Reads: I want YOU to show up for ray fight. 2:00 mark. centre map. be there.
Please show up for the Rayquaza Fight. Your Team is Counting on you.

ROAM

To travel between the lanes, especially during early game looking for opportunities to help your team or hinder your opponents by stealing their objectives or farm.

ROOT

A form of crowd control that prevents opposing Pokémon from moving for a short time.

ROTATE

The act of leaving your called lane to group up with your team and focus on securing an objective or pushing a lane/advantage. This is different from “Jungle Rotation” which refers to a Jungler cycling through their center camps to clear the wild Pokémon.

SKILLSHOT

A move that requires the player to aim in order to land. These moves often can be cast regardless of if there is a target and are a good source of poke, but require the player to develop a certain amount of skill in anticipating where a target will be when used from greater range.

Blazekin targeting an Eevee with Overheat.
Note the delicate care and skill a masterful skill shot requires.

SQUISHY

An opposing Pokémon that is easily KO’d due to low HP pool or having taken significant damage.

SCALING

How well a Pokémon’s stats increase with levels and held items. Oftentimes on the guide we refer to scaling when discussing increasing damage or healing output.

SNOWBALL

When a player is able to take an early advantage and use it to secure more advantage throughout the game they’re said to be Snowballing, as they’re incrementally adding up advantages to become a big threat.

STACKING

Stacking can be a bit of a confusing term in Pokemon Unite because its meaning can be context dependent. If you see or hear someone say “Five Stack” or “Three Stack” they’re referring to the number of players on their team who are queuing into a match together.

Normally though, and on this guide especially, it refers to using one of the three stacking items and prioritizing scores early in the game to get an early advantage or leverage the scaling on their Pokémon’s moveset.

Generally if you’re stacking, you’re going to be prioritizing pushing onto the enemy base early and “micro-dunking” or scoring with small point totals in order to avoid having your scores interrupted. Each Stacking item can stack up to 6 times and grant a flat bonus to their respective stack on each score, regardless of the point totals scored.

Gif of Lucario scoring 4 goals one after another with text reading: Your mission: Get Stacks. There is a counter that goes up each time Lucario scores.

STEAL

To KO a Wild Pokémon or Objective that the opposing team has been attempting to secure. This refers to stealing the last hit on an objective you’ve otherwise not been attempting to secure, thus stealing it from the enemy team.

Gif of Venusaur attempting to KO Regice and having the objective get stolen from them by Espeon.
Yoink.

SURE HIT

An ability that is guaranteed to hit a target, but requires a target be in range to be used. Typically these moves have a shorter range but cannot be cast without a target, and are thematic opposites to the skillshot.

Pikachu targeting an alolan nineties with a sure hit move.
A Sure Hit move’s targeting reticule is fan shaped and will snap to available targets. The Pokémon that is targeted will be glowing orange.

TANK

A Pokémon with high defensive stats and large HP pool that can stay in fights longer than other archetypes. Typically these Pokémon are found in the Defender class and have movesets that provide a lot of CC or sustain to exert constant pressure on opponents and create openings for their team.

THROWING/INTING

Making plays that result in losing the match. Intentional or not, you want to do your best to avoid plays like this. Some examples would be rushing an enemy base a few seconds before the Ray fight, not showing up for Rayquaza or never rotating for objectives. 

TRUE DAMAGE

Damage not associated with Atk or Spa damage. This damage source cannot be reduced with defensive stats or shields. True Damage shows up as white numbers, so you know when your damage output is bypassing your opponents defence.

Tyranitar in his hoodie holowear next to the words "I like true damage and I cannot lie" There are three sets of white numbers hovering around him with the values 300, 600 and 1200.
My teammates can’t deny, when I stomp in all over the place, white numbers in yo face they get…

UNITE MOVE/ULTIMATE

Each Pokémon has an Ultimate ability called their Unite Move that is unlocked in the mid game, generally level 8 or 9. These abilities have large impacts on the game or teamfights and can only be used a limited time within a match.

UTILITY

The characteristics and powers that give your team helpful advantages that aren’t about direct attacks, like making your team move faster, lowering the strength or healing of the other team, or helping your team back out of battles safely.

WILD POKÉMON

These are the non-player controlled Pokémon that spawn on the map. They are the main path for experience and leveling up within a game of Pokémon Unite. Note: Objectives count as wild Pokemon for the purpose of move interactions.

ZONING

Harassing or peeling opposing Pokémon to keep them from accessing a specific area. This strategy is commonly employed to guard objectives or to stop opponents from earning experience.

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TiredGiant

TiredGiant is the nerd who put this site together. Not much of a Unite player; he probably needs this site more than the rest of ya combined which is why he offered to develop the version of it you're currently on. Interested in all things web and some things MOBA he comes to this game thanks to his nostalgic love for these little pocket monsters and came to making this site cuz he saw Joe complaining about web development in the meta chat. (On a personal note if we queue up together in SoloQ and I'm not playing Trevenant - I am so, so sorry. I gotta learn another Pokemon somehow.)
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