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Still in its infancy, the Black and White metagame is constantly evolving. As the suspect process continues its cycle, some Pokemon rise into stardom and then fall into obscurity on a regular basis. Others maintain a high level of usage throughout the process; these Pokemon are the standards, the Ferrothorns and the Tyranitars. While the standard Pokemon are proven to be very effective at what they do and should for the most part be considered for every team, to separate yourself from the pack you must integrate non-standard but viable sets into your teams. Ladders are topped and tournaments are won due in large part to the creativity of the player. This article is intended both to showcase deadly sets that dont get enough credit and to inspire you, the reader, to think beyond the article and dig up sets of your own to surprise a few opponents with.
Jirachi @ Leftovers
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Calm Mind
- Flash Cannon / Psychic
In a metagame heavily influenced by incredibly powerful special attackers, Jirachi has gone from one of the most diverse pokemon in the fourth generation metagame to a one-trick pony in the fifth. The specially defensive set walls many nasty threats and spreads always-welcome paralysis, but it is certainly not all Jirachi can do. Once one of Jirachi's most prominent sets, Substitute + Calm Mind has fallen out of favor since the third generation, but the Black and White metagame has made the set even more dangerous than before.
The beauty of this set comes from its ability to freely set up on nearly every prominent wall in the Black and White metagame. Ferrothorn, Jellicent, specially defensive Jirachi, parashuffle Dragonite, Chansey, and many others will try to hit Jirachi with paralysis, Leech Seed, or burn, only to be outsped and blocked by Substitute. Barring unusual attacks or EV spreads, Jirachi's Substitute won't break from anything the aforementioned Pokemon throw at it, allowing it to rack up Calm Mind boosts behind the safety of a Substitute. Jirachi's sweep won't even be interrupted by weaker physical STAB moves, as its natural bulk allows it to take even a Gliscor Earthquake in stride.
Scolipede @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Toxic Spikes / Rock Slide
Scolipede belongs to a small group of seven fully evolved Pokemon that learn both Spikes and Toxic Spikes, the rest being Cloyster, Forretress, Garbodor, Omastar, Qwilfish, and Roserade. Every Pokemon in that group has problems that prevent it from becoming a prevalent force in the metagame, but Scolipede's strong Megahorn, Swarm ability, and good coverage allow it to work very well as a designated lead.
Smart use of team preview is required for this set to work well. Very rarely will Scolipede be able to set up both Spikes and Toxic Spikes; rather you should assess your opponent's team to decide which one is more prudent. If, for example, you ultimately want to sweep with ChestoRest Volcarona, you would set up Toxic Spikes if your opponent carries a Blissey, or Spikes if your opponent carries a Heatran. If you don't need Toxic Spikes for whatever reason, Rock Slide can be used to 2HKO Thundurus and Tornadus, who would otherwise be problematic with Prankster Taunt and resistance to Megahorn.
The advantage of Scolipede over other hazard leads such as Deoxys-S and Forretress is the ability to beat weather starters, Magic Bounce Pokemon, and Deoxys-S. Politoed, Ninetales, and Tyranitar are all 2HKOed, while Deoxys-S and Espeon are OHKOed. Overall, there are very few Pokemon that will prevent Scolipede from setting up the preferred hazard and doing some damage along the way, making it an excellent choice for a heavy offense team in need of hazard support.
Mew @ Leftovers
EVs: 252 HP / 220 Def / 4 SpD / 32 Spe
Bold nature (+Def, -Atk)
The effect that Fighting-types have had on the Black and White metagame is well documented; Terrakion and Conkeldurr have taken the metagame by storm, and Breloom, Lucario, Mienshao, and many others are all very real threats. Furthermore, Tyranitar and Scizor are still everywhere to ensure that Psychic Pokemon need to live in constant fear. A Pokemon that could wall and defeat every one of those Pokemon would surely spring up everywhere, wouldn't it? Apparently not!
Mew is the bane of many teams, both stall and offensive. With amazing physical defense and access to Will-O-Wisp to burn otherwise overpowering attackers like Swords Dance Scizor and Excadrill, Mew is one of the sturdiest physical walls in the game. Its Special Defense is not to be underestimated either; Mew will always survive a Choice Specs-boosted Latios Draco Meteor from full health. Taunt compliments Will-O-Wisp very nicely, preventing opponents from recovering, boosting stats, or inflicting status on Mew. Psychic rounds out the set by allowing Mew to counter Guts Conkeldurr, and preventing faster Taunts from rendering Mew useless.
Jolteon @ Leftovers / Life Orb
Ability: Volt Absorb
EVs: 8 HP / 248 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Baton Pass
- Hidden Power Ice
With Tyranitar, Ferrothorn, and many bulky Ground-types dominating the metagame, Jolteon's usage has predictably plummeted. No longer able to muscle through its checks with prediction, times are tough for the little electric dog. However, blistering Speed and a useful ability allow Jolteon to check a significant number of strong threats, most notably Thundurus and various Water-types. Jolteon can use this to its advantage to quickly get behind a Substitute then Baton Pass it to an ally on a resisted attack to quickly gain devastating momentum, possibly setting up a sweep.
Given that the two most common switch-ins to Jolteon will be Tyranitar and Ferrothorn, a Fighting-type makes an ideal partner. A Pokemon such as Lucario or Terrakion can take a Crunch, Stone Edge, or various special attacks from Tyranitar and maintain the Substitute, allowing you a free turn for a stat boosting move while simultaneously threatening Tyranitar with a STAB Fighting-type move. Against Ferrothorn, Scizor makes a good recipient because of its resistance to both Power Whip and Gyro Ball and the ability to use Swords Dance and Superpower. Every Pokemon is much better with a free Substitute when it comes in, so as long as you predict your opponent's attack correctly, you will gain valuable momentum no matter what you Baton Pass to.
The choice between Leftovers and Life Orb is the classic decision between longevity and power; Leftovers will allow Jolteon to pass a Substitute multiple times per game, while Life Orb allows Jolteon to threaten Pokemon such as Rotom-W and Latias with much more power. Life Orb also doesn't give away Jolteon's lack of an expected choice item until it is too late for your opponent to react. 8 HP EVs lets you make 4 Substitutes. The rest of the EVs are standard for Jolteon.
Celebi @ Leftovers / Life Orb
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest nature (+SpA, -Atk) / Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Nasty Plot
- Giga Drain
- Hidden Power Fire / Earth Power
- Recover / Psychic
For three generations, Celebi has played the role of a team supporter, most commonly utilizing moves such as Leech Seed, Heal Bell, Perish Song, and Baton Pass. However, with the release of the thirteenth Pokemon movie, Celebi gained access to the powerful boosting move Nasty Plot, allowing it to finally act effectively in an offensive role. This unpredictability, combined with Celebi's bulk and surprisingly useful STAB attacks, makes it a great choice for balanced teams looking for a Pokemon to both sweep and act as a member of a defensive core.
Celebi's decent typing gives it resistances to some of the most common attacking types in the metagame, including Water, Ground, and Fighting. These resistances, along with good bulk and Speed, allow Celebi to check and counter a lot of top threats, including Politoed, Gliscor, and Conkeldurr. From there, Celebi can use Nasty Plot to break Pokemon who rely on type resistances to check Celebi. For example, physically defensive Skarmory is always 2HKOed by Modest +2 Psychic. However, a clean sweep is rare, so it is best to use Celebi primarily as a utility counter until you know a sweep is possible.
A common mistake is to devote too many or too few teamslots to underrated movesets. In general, every team should have at least one spot for a pokemon with significant surprise value, and finding two viable underrated movesets to put on the same team will greatly increase winning chances. However, one must remember that standard sets are standard for a reason: they work. Defensive Ferrothorn, Specs Latios, and Swords Dance Excadrill are all very dangerous Pokemon that will hassle any team, even those built specifically around beating those sets. When putting a Pokemon on your team, make sure its role can't be done better by another Pokemon.
Finally, I'd like to give a shout-out to Reverb who wrote two editions of Underrated Movesets back in the fourth generation. Those are some of my favorite Smog articles ever written, and they are definitely worth looking at if you haven't already seen them. Thank you for writing those, Reverb. I know they improved both my teams and my approach to teambuilding, and I'm sure the same can be said for many others.
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