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With the recent banning of Salamence, the metagame has undergone a significant change. Pokémon like Toxic Stall Zapdos and Life Orb Shaymin are seeing an increase in usage to the point where they have become commonplace sets in the metagame. Even though these sets are standard and predictable, they are still very useful additions to a team. Yet, in this new metagame, it is more important than ever to have teammates who deviate from their standard sets while still being viable. A moveset is not a gimmick simply because it is seen less. In fact, being less common allows a Pokémon to present a shock value in addition to being a strong component of an OU team.
While a team full of "standards" can be very good, it runs the risk of being overly predictable. By integrating viable, underrated sets onto a team, it becomes harder to plan against. What separates a good team from a great team is the latter's sheer unpredictability. Hopefully this article will open up new perspectives and popularize fantastic movesets that don't get enough credit.
Aerodactyl @ Life Orb
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Stone Edge
Aerodactyl has often been relegated to serving as a Stealth Rock lead, but he has the capabilities to be a great sweeper. He fills a niche on offensive teams due to his fantastic offensive stats and solid STAB, Rock. This moveset is fantastic for crippling stall and combating offense.
Stone Edge is a fantastic choice of STAB. Hitting with a Base Power of 150, in conjunction with Life Orb, it scores OHKOs on Defensive Zapdos after Stealth Rock, and Gyarados provided Stealth Rock has taken its toll and Aerodactyl isn't Intimidated. Earthquake pairs well with Stone Edge, hitting Steel-types who resist Rock. For example, Aerodactyl KOes Jirachi who switch into a resisted Stone Edge with a super effective Earthquake. The third slot is designated for Roost so Aerodactyl can heal itself and preserve its longevity. Being weak to Stealth Rock, Aerodactyl must have a way to stay around for a while. The last move on the set, Taunt, shuts down defensive Pokémon. Skarmory and Gliscor, among others, are incapacitated.
The EVs take advantage of Aerodactyl's offensive capabilities. With a Jolly nature, he hits a blistering 394 Speed. With 309 Attack to boot, he's more than capable of sweeping on his own. While most people see Aerodactyl as merely a Stealth Rock lead, he is a potent attacker who should never be underestimated.
Kingdra @ Chesto Berry
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 48 HP / 96 Atk / 80 Def / 120 SpD / 164 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Dragon Dance
There are many different variants of Kingdra, but this is the set that is likely to be forgotten. In late-game, this thing is an absolute monster, capable of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. It's bulky enough to take a few hits while it sets up, yet it is powerful enough to do some serious damage to opposing Pokémon. The set's ability to pull off a sweep makes it one of the best late-game sweepers in the current metagame.
Dragon Dance may be the best set-up move in the game. It boosts Kingdra's Attack and Speed one stage, making it a dangerous threat. However, the set plans to boost Kingdra's stats more than once. The idea is to Dragon Dance as many times as possible and then Rest back to 100% health and proceed to sweep. With Chesto Berry, Rest acts as a one-time heal back to 100% health. The remaining two moves are STAB options. Waterfall does a good job against most threats, especially since Steel-types are pretty commonplace in the current metagame. However, many times Kingdra will resort to using Outrage right after it sets up. While it may seem like a waste to spend all this time for just two to three turns of guaranteed attacking, keep in mind that Kingdra is acting as a late game sweeper, so more often than not, the game will be over in a few more turns.
The EVs give Kingdra all-around bulkiness in addition to attacking power. For example, against special threats, defensive Rotom-A's Shadow Ball barely does 30%. Against the physical threats, standard Swampert's Earthquake can only 3HKO, even after Stealth Rock damage. 164 EVs boost Kingdra's Speed so that it can outspeed base 115 Pokémon after a single Dragon Dance and outspeed +1 Speed-increasing natured base 100s after two. The rest of the EVs go into Attack so Kingdra has some attacking power. Swift Swim is the optimal ability because it allows Kingdra to deal with opposing Rain Dance teams. The other option, Sniper, is an ability based solely on hax.
Metagross @ Iron Ball
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 236 HP / 252 Atk / 20 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Meteor Mash
- Explosion / Stealth Rock
You always see the same thing with Metagross: Agiligross, Lum Berry / Occa Berry Metagross, etcetera. There's no reason not to use those movesets; they're absolutely excellent. However, in this case, Metagross adds an element of surprise to your team that will leave your opponent flabbergasted.
Trick is notorious for crippling would-be counters who switch into your Pokémon. One of the most common switch-ins to Metagross is Rotom-A, who ordinarily walls the steel monster. In this case, Trick forces Rotom-A to obtain an Iron Ball, which not only cuts its Speed in half, but also negates its Levitate ability so Earthquake will hit for super effective damage. Beyond this, Earthquake provides coverage against opposing Steel-types, like Metagross and Jirachi. Meteor Mash is an excellent choice of a STAB move; its 150 Base Power couples well with Metagross' base 135 Attack, allowing it to hit hard. The last move slot can be designated for either Explosion or Stealth Rock. The decision comes down to whether or not your team has another Pokémon designated to use Stealth Rock. If it does, then Explosion offers a way to get rid of Pokémon who would otherwise set up on Metagross, such as Suicune and Gliscor.
The EVs give Metagross bulkiness and power. They give Metagross a gargantuan 405 Attack and 360 HP. Metagross scores guaranteed OHKOs against Tyranitar and Magnezone with Meteor Mash and Earthquake, respectively. Conversely, neutral-natured Azelf's Fire Blast and unboosted neutral-natured Infernape's Flamethrower will never OHKO. The remaining EVs go into Speed to give it an edge over opposing base 70s after it Tricks its Iron Ball, since Iron Ball halves its Speed.
Roserade @ Leftovers
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 252 HP / 120 Def / 136 SpD
Calm nature (+SpD, -Atk)
- Toxic Spikes
- Grass Knot / Energy Ball
- Rest / Hidden Power Fire
We're all familiar with the Toxic Spikes Roserade and Spikes Roserade sets. Both are excellent options for the Pokémon, but why not combine both entry hazards? The only other viable Pokémon who can set up both hazards is Forretress, who suffers from its Steel typing, which allows Magnezone to trap it. Roserade does not have this problem, and in fact it has an additional advantage over Forretress: its secondary Poison typing lets it absorb the opponent's Toxic Spikes just by switching in. With dual entry hazards, Roserade becomes an unorthodox threat.
Toxic Spikes are a defensive team's worst enemy. Blissey, Celebi, Vaporeon, and many other bulky Pokémon find themselves unable to operate under the steady damage that Toxic Spikes induces. Upon switching in, it is a good idea to use at least one layer of Toxic Spikes before proceeding to use Spikes. The reasoning is that the former serves to soften up the opponent's core. Spikes rips chunks out of the opposing Pokémon's HP so they cannot switch in with ease. Grass Knot is a solid STAB move that allows Roserade to damage certain opposing Pokémon when necessary. However, it has low Base Power against many foes like Rotom-A and Vaporeon, so Energy Ball is a viable alternative. The last move slot should normally be Rest, since Roserade's ability, Natural Cure, allows it to switch in later status-free. However, if Forretress is an issue, you can use Hidden Power Fire to deal with it.
The EVs give Roserade fantastic special bulk and reasonable physical bulk. With this spread, Roserade will always survive Adamant Choice Band Scizor's Bullet Punch, even after Stealth Rock takes its toll. Special threats find it hard to touch Roserade. The popular Rotom-A isn't doing anything to this organic monster without Overheat. Bulky Water-types, like Suicune, are a free ticket for Roserade to set up its entry hazards. Leftovers is the item of choice because it offers Roserade maximum survivability.
Rotom-w @ Choice Specs
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Shadow Ball
- Hydro Pump
When people see a Rotom forme without Leftovers recovery, they tend to assume that it's carrying a Choice Scarf. This set takes advantage of that assumption to score some surprise KOs. You'd be shocked at how many people carelessly switch into this guy, expecting a weak attack. However, thanks to Choice Specs, they're in for a world of pain. By using this set properly, you'll gain an edge over your opponents as they struggle to deal with a threat that they have likely overlooked.
Thunderbolt is Rotom-W's main STAB, as it hits more threats than Shadow Ball does. It does a shocking amount of damage, OHKOing both Suicune and Vaporeon. Specially Defensive Zapdos cannot switch in, as Thunderbolt 2HKOes it after Stealth Rock damage. Shadow Ball covers remaining foes like Celebi, whose defensive set risks facing an OHKO after Stealth Rock. Between its two STAB moves, Rotom-W hits the entire OU metagame, barring Magnezone, for at least neutral damage. The third slot makes use of Rotom-W's signature move, Hydro Pump. Hydro Pump allows the set to deal with Tyranitar, who would otherwise wall the set. Thanks to Choice Specs, Rotom-W can 2HKO specially defensive Tyranitar after Stealth Rock takes its toll. With Trick as its last move, Rotom-W can deal with its single greatest counter, Blissey, who fears being crippled by Choice Specs. If need be, Trick allows Rotom-W to stop stat-uppers from setting up; Trick stops Curselax, CM Celebi, and many others cold.
The EVs maximize Speed and Special Attack. A Timid nature is so Rotom-W can outspeed the likes of Heatran and neutral-natured Lucario. While the spread does make Rotom-W an excellent sweeper, it comes at a cost as this set is somewhat frail. Rotom-W has to be careful since even resisted attacks can do a lot of damage to it. Ultimately, its sweeping capabilities outweighs its defensive vulnerability.
A common misconception is that less popular movesets are inherently worse. In reality, they are viable additions to a team that aren't used enough. The most important thing for a battler is to have a team that maximizes its chances of winning. While sometimes the standard set is the best option, a less popular set can often prove superior. The best teams tend to be somewhat unique. Utilizing a Pokémon's commonly overlooked resources can ultimately optimize a team's results.
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