Linoone is truly a blessed Pokemon. What would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill, throwaway Normal-type rodent along the likes of Raticate and Furret has access to a one-turn, game-ending sweep setup. Belly Drum turns the mild-mannered mustelid into a pillar of hellfire, a screaming Harrier jet, a towering tornado of fury wielding 1048 Attack, 405 Speed, and an 80 Base Power, STAB priority attack. Packing Linoone gives you a deadly secret weapon for when your enemy shows a moment of weakness, and once its presence is known, Linoone becomes a powerful psychological threat that will have your opponent on his toes the entire match. Adding in team support makes Linoone a fairly reliable late-game sweeper. If you have an opportunistic, high-risk high-reward playstyle, Linoone may be for you.
Beware, however, that Linoone is extremely frail and unforgiving; improper scouting, or a single mistake in prediction, will quickly turn Linoone into a dead weight.
Linoone possesses a holy trinity of sweeping power: Belly Drum, STAB ExtremeSpeed, and Gluttony. These three elements combine to form the ultimate one-turn setup. After a Belly Drum, Linoone's shabby Attack stat of 262 skyrockets to an amazing 1048, ready for immediate sweepage. At the same time, Gluttony activates its Salac Berry, sending its Speed stat from 270 (136 EVs) to 405, outspeeding everything up to neutral-natured Pokemon with a Choice Scarf and base 85 Speed. Linoone can then proceed to sweep with ExtremeSpeed, a STAB 80 Base Power priority move that essentially ensures that the flipped-out polecat will almost never be struck before it can hit, and likely KO its opponent. Seed Bomb is the second attack in Linoone's sweeping arsenal, KOing many of the Rock-types that resist ExtremeSpeed, as well as doing a hefty number on bulky Water- and Ground-types. Assuming maximum defensive investment, Slowbro, Milotic, Claydol, Omastar, Quagsire, Cloyster, Rhyperior, Sandslash, Relicanth, and Gastrodon will all survive a +6 ExtremeSpeed, but will all fall to +6 Seed Bomb after Stealth Rock. Despite its large movepool, Linoone has very few usable offensive options. After ExtremeSpeed and Seed Bomb, those options boil down to the two in the last moveslot. Shadow Claw is for Ghost-types, and will OHKO any Ghost-type in UU, bar Spiritomb and Sableye, without fail (Stealth Rock is needed for an OHKO on Dusclops). Return, however, may prove more useful in the long run.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Linoone can use its reputation as a Belly Drum sweeper to run a surprise Choice Band set. While weaker than most Choice Band users, Linoone does have its advantages. First and foremost, it poses a psychological threat. Feigning a Belly Drum set, it intimidates many weakened sweepers into attacking instead of switching out, and many tottering walls will give up the chance to recover damage in order to get a hit off on Linoone. Second, it is the only user of STAB ExtremeSpeed in UU, which by all accounts is a powerful and reliable priority attack, even on a Pokemon with a pathetic 70 base Attack. Third, it has access to Switcheroo (as well as its identical twin Trick), which it can use to foil many of its counters. Steelix, Registeel, and Spiritomb, the three best Belly Drum Linoone switch-ins in UU, are all crippled by receiving a Choice Band, unless they are already holding one, which is a rare sight for the former two. With an Adamant nature, Linoone reaches a decent 393 attack. ExtremeSpeed is Linoone's primary attack, allowing it to put a huge dent on fragile sweepers which outspeed Linoone, such as Swellow and Alakazam. As mentioned before, Shadow Claw is Linoone's only way of dealing with Ghost-types, whilst without Seed Bomb, the badger has no chance taking on the likes of Rhyperior and Omastar. Although Switcheroo is the preferred move for the fourth moveslot, Return can net a lot of OHKOs and 2HKOs that ExtremeSpeed cannot, namely cleanly landing a fatality on Dugtrio and Swellow, as well as 2HKOing Life Orb Milotic.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Linoone has a fairly decent special movepool which includes even Ice Beam and Thunderbolt, but Linoone is unable to take advantage of it with its middling Special Attack stat. If you want a high-powered move, Linoone can learn Gunk Shot, but with the poor coverage it gets with it, coupled with the low accuracy, it is generally not a viable option. A gimmick set with Belly Drum and Last Resort can be fun, dealing a ridiculous amount of damage to most enemies. Physically Defensive Weezing takes 117.7% - 138.6% from a boosted Adamant Last Resort, and Cloyster with maximum Defense investment takes 95.7% - 112.8%, a clean OHKO with Stealth Rock. Pursuit is another option; however, with Linoone's poor base Attack, it won't be netting many kills apart from the rare Ghost-type that is locked into a Ghost-type move and needs to switch out. As tanks that wall Linoone such as Steelix and Registeel are bound to switch into its attacks, Super Fang can rob them of half of their current health, which is by far the best amount of damage Linoone will be able to inflict on them.
Checks and Counters
The best way to counter Linoone is to prevent it from setting up a Belly Drum. If there are no screens in play, almost any STAB attack along with Stealth Rock will deal more than 50% damage to Linoone. If screens are in play, it takes a fairly powerful STAB or Fighting-type attack from a sweeper or tank to deal the appropriate damage, although this is still not hard to do. Taking out a screen-shielded Linoone after eating a Memento takes powerful Fighting-type STAB from the likes of Hitmonlee, Hitmontop, Primeape, or Medicham. Many support moves are also viable ways to halt Linoone's setup, and are unaffected by screens or Memento: Encore, Trick, burn, sleep, Haze, and phazing moves can all put Linoone on the sidelines for the rest of the match by making it waste its Belly Drum.
Once Linoone has used Belly Drum, it still has several solid counters. Steelix is undoubtedly the best counter: with an Impish nature and 0 Def EVs, it is 3HKOed at best by Seed Bomb, and can KO Linoone with Earthquake or Gyro Ball, or phaze it away with Roar. Spiritomb is also an excellent counter, being immune to Linoone's STAB, 2HKOed by Seed Bomb and able to strike back first with its own priority STAB Sucker Punch, or burn Linoone with Will-O-Wisp. Registeel counters Linoone well, as long as it has Defense EVs or doesn't switch into Return; however, 0 Atk Registeel needs Explosion to put 50% HP Linoone down, as Iron Head will not KO. Shuckle almost always survives 2 Seed Bombs, even with Stealth Rock in play, but cannot do much back besides Toxic. Choice Scarf Mismagius and Timid Choice Scarf Rotom can both switch in on any Normal-type attack, outspeed the incoming Seed Bomb or Shadow Claw, and KO Linoone with Hidden Power Fighting or STAB Thunderbolt.
Without Shadow Claw, Linoone cannot OHKO the aforementioned Ghost-types (Dusclops, Bold Rotom, Mismagius, Drifblim, and Shedinja), which in turn can usually manage to KO, or at least burn, Linoone. Without Return, physically bulky Pokemon such as Tangrowth, Torterra, Torkoal, Gligar, and Weezing can survive a hit from Linoone if they are running max HP and Def. The same goes for physically bulky Pokemon weak to Grass-type attacks, such as Slowbro, Sandslash, Cloyster, and all Rock-types, provided Linoone lacks Seed Bomb. Linoone needs Stealth Rock in play to get many key OHKOs; without it, almost any bulky Pokemon with max Defense will be able to survive a single +6 hit at full health, as will any Pokemon with Focus Sash.
Some battle conditions can prevent or hamper a Linoone's sweep. Toxic Spikes (either one or two layers) are the most harmful, limiting the number of turns for which Linoone can sweep after a Belly Drum to 3, or 2 if Linoone switches in mid-turn. Stealth Rock and Spikes hamper Linoone's ability to take hits on the turn it uses Belly Drum. Sandstorm and hail don't cut sweeps short quite like poison does, but can finish off a damaged Linoone. Reflect on the defender's side reduces Linoone's attacking power by 50%, enough to halt its sweep.
If you carry a Pokemon with Intimidate, you can sap Linoone's Attack until it is unable to KO your Pokemon. At +5 Attack (after one Intimidate), Linoone fails to OHKO many walls, such as the aforementioned max Defense Uxie, Weezing, and Slowbro, sometimes even with Stealth Rock in play. Offensive teams lacking a wall may have to sacrifice a Pokemon or two in order to harass Linoone with multiple Intimidates. Other abilities such as Static, Flame Body, Rough Skin, and Aftermath can, with a little luck, disable or finish off Linoone in a pinch.