Featured NU Pokémon: Gorebyss

By tennisace. Art by sirndpt.
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Gorebyss has always been in the shadow of most Water-type Pokémon; always too slow to pose a serious threat, and no way to boost its power to do serious damage. Nonetheless, it had always possessed most of the raw tools to make an impact on the metagame, such as a great Special Attack stat, along with a good Defense stat that somewhat protected it from priority. This mediocrity changed in Black and White, however, which brought a nice new toy for Gorebyss: Shell Smash enabled it to boost its Special Attack and Speed to ludicrous levels in one turn, though at the cost of lowering its defenses, making itself vulnerable to priority. For a while, Gorebyss was regarded as the Pokémon to beat in the NU tier. As the metagame evolved though, Gorebyss showed that the hype it received might not have been completely deserved, and it settled into the metagame nicely as a unanimous suspect vote declared it not broken. However, just because Gorebyss isn't broken doesn't mean it isn't still one of the most dangerous offensive threats in NU if played correctly.

Gorebyss's Qualities

When looking at Gorebyss's qualities, there are a few things that should immediately stand out. First is its excellent base 114 Special Attack stat, which is among the best of all NU Pokémon, and is well above average in general. Gorebyss's pure-Water typing is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it has excellent offensive STAB and defensive resistances to Water, Ice, and Fire; on the other, it sorely lacks a secondary STAB. Still, Gorebyss is not weak to Stealth Rock, which is always a plus. In addition, Gorebyss's movepool is tailored to exactly what it needs to perform well in the NU metagame: Shell Smash, a Water STAB move (either Surf or Hydro Pump), Ice Beam, and a Hidden Power of choice (generally Grass to beat Quagsire and other Water-types) is all it needs to survive and flourish. Finally, Gorebyss has an above-average base 105 Defense stat, which shields it against the myriad of priority moves that try to bring it down after a Shell Smash. Not everything is sunshine and roses for Gorebyss though, which is why it's stuck in NU. Without a boost, Gorebyss's base 52 Speed is quite low, and even after a boost, it still fails to outspeed Timid Choice Scarf Rotom-A. This makes it fairly easy to revenge kill, especially when Shell Smash drops both its defenses by one stage.

Playing with Gorebyss

In the NU metagame, the combination of Baton Pass + Shell Smash (colloquially known as SmashPass) is banned. This means using Gorebyss is even simpler than in higher metagames. Gorebyss should always have Shell Smash, a STAB attack (either Surf or Hydro Pump), Ice Beam, and either Hidden Power Grass or Substitute. Hidden Power Grass is usually going to be the best option for its ability to get through bulky Water-types (mainly Quagsire, who ignores Shell Smash boosts). Substitute is often invaluable, however, for its ability to shield Gorebyss from priority. To be quite honest, those are the best moves for Gorebyss in this metagame, and there's no reason to deviate from this template.

The only real choice is the item it carries. Among those, there are plenty of choices, the most common ones being Life Orb and White Herb, with Focus Sash, Lum Berry, and Leftovers being less common. The item is what determines how easy it is to set up a Shell Smash with Gorebyss. For example, if Gorebyss carries a Life Orb, one must be wary of priority users on the opponent's team, as Gorebyss can be easily KOed when weakened. If Gorebyss is carrying a White Herb, one can be a bit more reckless when setting up, since not only are Gorebyss's defenses untouched, but it isn't losing health every turn. Focus Sash is situational, but it guarantees that Gorebyss can set up once—provided that the field is clear of entry hazards. However, Focus Sash Gorebyss should not be switched into even weak resisted attacks. Lum Berry allows Gorebyss to evade paralysis or poison once, but comes with none of the benefits of the other items—its defenses are still lowered, its attacks aren't boosted, and it isn't guaranteed to survive an attack. Finally, Leftovers should be used with Substitute if one intends to set up multiple times.

Playing Against Gorebyss

The key to playing against Gorebyss is to limit its opportunities to set up a Shell Smash. In a perfect world this would mean using only Pokémon that Gorebyss can't set up on. However, this isn't always possible when teambuilding, and in reality, it isn't necessary to over-prepare for it. The easiest way to shut down Gorebyss is to keep up either offensive or defensive pressure.

For offensive pressure, keep your offense moving and keep momentum up through VoltTurn or just plain predicting and switching. In addition, keep at least Stealth Rock on the field so that Gorebyss can't switch in freely. Use Pokémon with U-turn or Volt Switch, such as Braviary, Swellow, and Rotom-S, to gain momentum with this strategy, and then bring in Pokémon such as Jynx, Exeggutor, and Magmortar to force even more switches. The more your opponent has to react to your offense, the less time they have to safely set up Gorebyss.

Defensive pressure is a bit harder to maintain, since Gorebyss can smash through most of the standard defensive Pokémon in the tier. However, there are a few keys to beating it. The number one thing when facing a Gorebyss is to set up Toxic Spikes, and to a lesser extent Spikes, as soon as possible. Poison not only breaks Gorebyss's possible Focus Sash, but the damage each turn combines with Life Orb damage to rack up quickly, allowing Gorebyss to be disposed of by even weaker priority from the likes of Golem and defensive Skuntank. In addition, Pokémon such as Lickilicky and Tentacool can take a hit and either shuffle Gorebyss out with Dragon Tail or poison it with Toxic, respectively.

Fitting Gorebyss onto your Team

Gorebyss is a rather easy Pokémon to fit onto a team, as there are only a few things it needs to be effective. Stealth Rock support is really nice, as it breaks opposing Focus Sashes, allowing Gorebyss to efficiently sweep the opponent once it has set-up. Golem is a great teammate for this purpose as, in addition to reliably getting up Stealth Rock at the start of a match, it's a good check to Choice Scarf Rotom-S, which is one of the few commonly used Pokémon in NU that outspeeds +2 Gorebyss. Additionally, Spikes and Toxic Spikes support help wear down opposing defensive teams, particularly ones with Lickilicky. Garbodor is a good Pokémon for this role, as it can set up either or both of the entry hazards while also dealing with pesky Grass-type Pokémon that make it hard for Gorebyss to set up, such as Torterra and Leafeon. While not strictly necessary, as with all sweepers, Gorebyss appreciates dual screen support to facilitate its setup. In fact, with Shell Smash lowering both its defenses, such a form of support benefits Gorebyss even more. A good teammate for this role is Gardevoir, who can set up dual screens and then proceed to use Memento to force a switch, giving Gorebyss a free turn to set up.

In terms of more offensively oriented partners, Gorebyss scares off Rock- and Ground-type Pokémon with the threat of a super effective Surf. There are plenty of Pokémon in NU that can take advantage of that, with the most prominent being Rotom-S (ironically one of Gorebyss's best checks), Swellow, and Braviary. All three Flying-types enjoy the likes of Golem and Camerupt out of commission, or at least forced out so they take entry hazard damage repeatedly.

Get Out There!

While Gorebyss only hovers around #20 in the February usage stats, don't be fooled! This is but an effect of how the metagame initially overreacted to it—as can be seen by the popularity of Mesprit, Absol, Rotom-S, Jynx, and even Golem, all of whom give Gorebyss a hard time in some manner. But make no mistake, Gorebyss is one of the premier offensive threats in the tier, and every team can benefit in some way from having it as a member!

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