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At the very beginning of D/P, Spiritomb looked like a top-tier Pokémon. Unlike Dusknoir, it didn't possess a weakness to Pursuit - hell, it didn't possess any weaknesses at all - making it the ideal choice for a spinblocker on many defensive teams, most notably the infamous “ObiStall” team. However, many soon realized that despite Spiritomb's decent defensive stats, its lack of resistances left it vulnerable to many prominent offensive threats, including Heracross, Infernape, and Heatran. The final nail in Spiritomb's coffin, or rather, tomb (heh), was the arrival of Platinum, and with it, the introduction of the beefed-up Rotom formes, who possessed similar defenses and far more useful resistances and immunities than Spiritomb could hope to offer. Completely eclipsed, Spiritomb immediately fell in usage and was relegated to BL until the big UU / BL merge.
In UU, however, Spiritomb immediately secured its position as a top-tier threat. As a matter of fact, quite a few people initially thought it was too defensively powerful for UU! Players eventually found ways to adapt to it, though, and although the initial hype did die down, Spiritomb remains a central fixture in today's metagame who everyone should be on the lookout for.
Spiritomb possesses both base 108 Defense and Special Defense. Its balanced defensive stats make it a viable mixed wall, although most players choose to specialize in one of the two defenses. Maximizing its Defense stat allows Spiritomb to comfortably handle most Fighting-types, while investing in Special Defense lets Spiritomb check most Ghost- and Psychic-types. Spiritomb's ability, Pressure, has great synergy with its defensive capabilities, allowing Spiritomb to switch into various Encores and Close Combats and more easily deplete their meager PP.
Spiritomb's offensive stats are also identical, each sitting at base 92. Physical versions are generally preferred for their ability to trap and kill fragile sweepers through utilizing the combined threat of Pursuit and Shadow Sneak / Sucker Punch. The less common special variants usually incorporate Calm Mind, abusing Spiritomb's respectable defenses and lack of weaknesses in order to sponge hits as it gradually boosts its Special Attack to the point where it is capable of sweeping.
Spiritomb's offensive movepool is extremely shallow. Aside from its aforementioned STAB moves, it has access to Psychic, which is an excellent option for hitting Fighting-types (mostly Toxicroak) and Venusaur. Other useful moves include Hidden Power Ground, for hitting Houndoom, and Return, Spiritomb's strongest physical move outside of Sucker Punch. Spiritomb's support movepool is several times larger, although many of these moves are not competitively viable. Will-O-Wisp, Curse, Pain Split, Nasty Plot, Hypnosis, and Spite are just a few of the support moves Spiritomb has at its disposal.
The easiest way to deal with some of UU's most potent threats is by slapping a Spiritomb on a team. It checks a reasonable assortment of powerful yet frail sweepers, including Alakazam, Mismagius, and Rotom. The combination of Pursuit and either of Shadow Sneak or Sucker Punch means that Spiritomb can force these Pokémon into a “checkmate position”. If they switch out on a Pursuit or stay in on one of Spiritomb's other moves, they will either be KOed or at the very least end up taking severe damage. Furthermore, the Spiritomb user risks little to nothing in these match-ups, as Spiritomb has enough bulk to recover from a misprediction. These Spiritomb are typically equipped with a Choice Band and utilize Trick in addition to the other three moves; however, more specially defensive variants also see usage for their ability to switch into neutral hits more easily.
Spiritomb is also an effective lead, matching up well against an astonishing amount of opposing leads, including Uxie, Mesprit, Ambipom, Mismagius, and Alakazam. Its main form of attack is Shadow Ball, its power typically accentuated by a Spell Tag. Spiritomb also has Shadow Sneak to finish off Focus Sash leads and Pursuit to catch fleeing opponents, particularly U-turn users like Ambipom.
As the most defensive Ghost-type in UU, Spiritomb is a popular choice as a spinblocker, especially on stall teams. Will-O-Wisp cripples several common Rapid Spinners, most notably Hitmontop, Donphan, and Kabutops. Rest extends Spiritomb's longevity, and stall teams with cleric support have the choice of dropping Sleep Talk to free up a moveslot. Curse is a slightly unorthodox option, but is usable for phazing and/or aiding in wearing down the "last Pokémon" who defensive teams sometimes tend to struggle with.
Finally, special variants generally run a moveset of Calm Mind / Dark Pulse / Rest / Sleep Talk. This set was at first Spiritomb's most commonly-used set and the one that created such an uproar at the beginning of “New UU”. While it is not as popular anymore, this set is still worth watching out for. Due to its lack of weaknesses, Spiritomb makes an ideal boosting tank, and after several boosts, only (p)hazers and the strongest of physical attackers are capable of breaching its defenses.
One wrong switch into Spiritomb is probably not the end of the world, as its offensive capabilities are barely above-average at best; however, be aware of all the possible consequences that could occur from a misprediction. For instance, your Milotic switch-in may end up being Tricked a Choice Band, and Rhyperior switch-ins risk being burned by Will-O-Wisp.
The first thing to do upon encountering Spiritomb is to scout its set. If you've determined that Spiritomb lacks Leftovers, then it's likely Choiced. Rhyperior, Hariyama, and other reasonably defensive, physically-based Pokémon are good initial switch-ins, capable of taking both its attacking moves and Trick. If the Spiritomb has Leftovers, it's relatively safe to assume that it's a defensive set. Bulky status absorbers like Clefable are optimal switch-ins; if it ends up being a Calm Mind set, it won't be that hard to bring in a (p)hazer like Haze Milotic or Roar Steelix, or a strong attacker such as Aggron or Houndoom, to force it out.
It's not that hard switching into Spiritomb; the main problem is switching out of it due to Pursuit. Keep your frail Psychic- and Ghost-types under wraps until you weed out and eliminate any opposing Spiritomb; otherwise, you risk immediately losing a Pokémon!
Spiritomb is usable on any type of team; however, its lack of power and Speed make it a worse option on offensive teams than on defensive teams. Make sure your team can make up for its lesser offensive abilities before giving up a team slot for it.
Entry hazards will severely reduce Spiritomb's defensive capabilities, especially since it lacks reliable recovery. Rapid Spin support is definitely recommended. Hitmontop is probably the best choice; in addition to spinning, it can take on the Clefable, Chansey, and Rhyperior who might give Spiritomb trouble, while Spiritomb can eliminate the Ghost-types who switch in to block Rapid Spin as well as the threatening Psychic-types capable of OHKOing Hitmontop with Psychic. Conversely, entry hazard support works well with Spiritomb, as its Ghost typing prevents the hazards from being spun. Omastar is the best choice to lay these down for defensive teams, while Qwilfish is best suited for offensive teams.
Spiritomb is a central component of many defensive cores, since few Pokémon outside of it can check Alakazam and Mismagius as well as it does. It is commonly paired with Milotic and Weezing, who are capable of handling many common switch-ins to Spiritomb. Milotic deals with Houndoom, Rhyperior, Azumarill, and Blaziken, while Weezing staves off the likes of Venusaur, Hariyama, and Registeel.
Sweepers who struggle against Alakazam, Mismagius, and other fast and powerful threats also have decent synergy with Spiritomb. Fighting-types such as Hitmonlee are the most notable examples. They can also eliminate several of Spiritomb's counters, such as Aggron and Clefable.
UU as of late has been all about Fire/Water/Grass cores, both defensive and offense. If Pokémon like Alakazam and Mismagius are the offensive exceptions, then Spiritomb is their defensive counterpart. For a Pokémon who can handle some of UU's most lethal threats, there is none better than Spiritomb. Try it out, and you won't be disappointed.
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