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When most people think of DPP OU, they think of the tried-and-true standards that have shaped the metagame, such as Shuca Berry Heatran, Offensive Suicune, Choice Scarf Flygon, and so on. While no one can deny the effectiveness of these sets, one cannot deny that they are also predictable, and it is a well-known fact that the element of surprise is one of the greatest weapons to have on your side in battle. This article will attempt to shed some light on some of my favorite lesser-seen yet still effective sets on common OU Pokémon, as well as some lesser-seen yet still effective Pokémon from both OU and below, showing that even metagames of past generations always have room for creativity and innovation!
Aerodactyl @ Leftovers
EVs: 248 HP / 116 SpD / 144 Spe
Jolly Nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Rock Slide
Any experienced DPP player can tell you a horror story about the time they temporarily went bald from ripping their hair out due to the frustration caused by SubRoost Zapdos out-stalling their entire team. While Aerodactyl has spent the majority of this generation known as one of the top suicide leads, the Life Orb variant has been gaining popularity among top players as of late; however, the rocky bird is capable of running its own SubRoost set that not only rivals Zapdos in terms of sheer annoyance, but also, in my humble opinion, is even more effective at stalling its opponents out.
Under sandstorm, the Special Defense boost Rock-types receive gives Aerodactyl a Special Defense stat of 323, which allows it to take attacks it could never dream of before—a few examples include Scarf Rotom-A's Thunderbolt, Vaporeon's Surf, and Celebi's Leaf Storm. Coupled with a great ability, Pressure, which allows it to drain PP extremely quickly, and its excellent Speed stat that, with the given EVs, reaches a stat of 365 and therefore allows it to outrun several common threats such as Gengar, Raikou, and Scarf Tyranitar, this prehistoric terror is a stalling machine. Frailer attackers like Starmie struggle to survive consecutive Rock Slides in conjunction with sandstorm while unable to directly attack Aerodactyl, whereas slower defensive Pokémon such as Skarmory or Gliscor are Taunted to prevent phazing or recovery. It should also be noted that Heatran is considered by many to be the best Pokemon in DPP, and Aerodactyl is one of its best counters, although it has to be wary of switching in on a Toxic or Will-O-Wisp. This set is also one of the best counters to Mixed Flygon, a dangerous threat to stall teams.
Although Aerodactyl is extremely effective, it struggles with its fair share of Pokémon. Breloom is the most threatening, as it takes a pittance from Rock Slide while dishing out heavy damage with Seed Bomb. Lucario has a quadruple resist to Rock Slide and can crush Aerodactyl with Close Combat or Bullet Punch. Jirachi shrugs off Rock Slides like nothing and its physical/mixed sets pack Iron Head, although the Calm Mind sets aren't as immediately threatening with Thunderbolt due to the lack of STAB and Aerodactyl's Special Defense boost. However, Aerodactyl can make these counters not as threatening by Taunting them as they break his Substitute, meaning that you don't have to worry about them setting up as you switch to your counter. Celebi is a solid partner, as it walks all over Breloom and can also check Lucario nicely, as well as CM Jirachi variants should it choose to run Perish Song.
This set functions at its best with sandstorm support, mainly to boost its Special Defense, but also to provide a form of residual damage. Therefore, Tyranitar or Hippowdon will find their way onto your team. Tyranitar is an incredibly diverse attacker, while Hippowdon is one of the sturdiest walls in the game; although Tyranitar's diversity allows it to fit into more teams, either Pokémon is a fine choice. Aerodactyl's ability to force switches works extremely well with multiple layers of entry hazards; if paired with Toxic Spikes, it becomes brutally hard to kill, as some of its usual counters such as Swampert are being worn down while Aerodactyl hides behind Substitutes and heals itself when necessary. Forretress is a solid choice to set up any hazard you need it to, while also providing Rapid Spin support to compensate for Aerodactyl's Stealth Rock weakness.
In summary: if you're looking to try something uncommon that will give you a leg up on the rest of the competition, try this set out; I guarantee you will be pleased with the results.
Tyranitar @ Expert Belt
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 164 Atk / 100 SpA / 244 Spe
Hasty Nature (+Spe, -Def)
- Fire Blast / Flamethrower
- Crunch / Ice Beam / Thunderbolt
Tyranitar is one of the best Pokemon in DPP. While it is a formidable sweeper with Dragon Dance, it is most often seen with a Choice item. Its Choice Scarf set is highly effective at revenge killing a variety of top threats such as Starmie and Gengar. If it goes the Choice Band route, it's capable of ripping apart anything in the game with brutally powerful attacks. However, being a primarily physical Pokemon, especially one that is often Choice-locked, means that one can often take advantage of Tyranitar's presence—I've lost count of how many Tyranitar I've seen Pursuit a Rotom-A, only to be met with a hidden Lucario who set up a Swords Dance and proceeded to sweep. This is but one of many ways Tyranitar can be taken advantage of; other common scenarios include Breloom obtaining a free Substitute or Skarmory getting an easy layer of Spikes.
By working off the opponent's assumption that you are running a Choice set, this set can lure in and KO Pokemon that would otherwise take advantage of Tyranitar's inability to switch moves. At first, this set certainly does play like a Choice variant would; for instance, it's highly effective at switching in on Rotom-A and Pursuiting it for the kill (this is easiest to do against Choice Scarf sets locked into Thunderbolt or Shadow Ball; if it's a defensive variant, make sure it's weakened before you try to pick it off, and don't switch in on a Will-O-Wisp!). Some of Rotom-A's most common partners include Skarmory and Forretress, who will most likely switch in after the KO to attempt to set up entry hazards (or get off a Rapid Spin, in the latter's case). At this point, Tyranitar can unleash its Fire attack and obtain a free KO. This makes Tyranitar an excellent stallbreaker; Rotom-A + Skarmory / Forretress are common stall teammates, and as previously outlined, Tyranitar can dispatch of them quite easily, while also destroying the omnipresent Blissey with Superpower. It can also surprise RestTalk Gyarados with Thunderbolt or severely weaken Hippowdon with Ice Beam.
Other threatening Pokémon this set can nab surprise KOs on include Breloom, Scizor, Heatran, and Lucario, all dangerous threats who can take advantage of a Choice-locked Crunch / Pursuit. Speaking of Lucario, this Tyranitar is an excellent partner to it, as it can easily remove Choice Scarf Rotom-A that attempt to revenge kill, and Ice Beam will destroy unsuspecting Gliscor that think they've got Tyranitar walled.
The EV spread allows Tyranitar to outrun Adamant max Speed Breloom, KO physically defensive Skarmory after Stealth Rock (specially defensive variants are still easily 2HKOed and will be too weakened to do anything for the rest of the match), and the remaining EVs go into Attack to give its physical moves a bit of bite.
In summary: if you're a fan of Choice Tyranitar's utility but dislike the set-up opportunities it gives your opponent, this set is for you.
Scizor @ Leftovers
EVs: 248 HP / 56 Atk / 12 Def / 192 SpD
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Swords Dance
- Bullet Punch
- Bug Bite / Brick Break / Superpower
Scizor has had a bit of a fall from glory in DPP; its trademark Choice Band set that skyrocketed its usage to #1 in the Latias/Salamence era isn't as effective nowadays, with two of its biggest targets now residing in Ubers. However, since most players are used to Scizor being relatively easy to wear down through hazard damage and weaker attacks, they are usually caught off guard by the red metal bug when it's packing Leftovers, Roost, and investment in bulk, which makes it surprisingly hard to take out and therefore allows it to act as a very proficient bulky sweeper.
What this Scizor has over its Choice Band counterpart is surprising bulk that allows it to survive encounters with Pokemon that would normally wear down the Choice Band set by hitting it a few times and calling it a day; this allows it to do what it needs to, whether it's grabbing a Swords Dance, Roosting up for some recovery, or simply attacking. Some of the Pokémon that Scizor's effective at turning the tide against include Vaporeon, Suicune, Swampert, non-Will-O-Wisp Rotom-A, Raikou, Celebi, Shaymin, Jirachi, Togekiss, and even some variants of Zapdos.
While this Scizor is extremely effective at staying healthy, often by the skin of its teeth, and pounding the opponent with boosted attacks, there are certain Pokemon it will struggle with. Skarmory can come in as it pleases to set up Spikes, as the strongest attack Scizor can throw at it, Superpower, will barely leave a dent; the metal bird can also phaze out any boosts with Whirlwind, and in a last-Pokemon situation, can either try to stall Scizor out of Roosts with repeated Brave Birds, or can simply Taunt to prevent boosting and recovery, proceeding to PP stall Scizor out of its two attacking moves. If Scizor doesn't pack a Fighting move, Heatran can switch in with impunity to threaten it out with powerful quad-effective Fire STAB; if Scizor is in fact packing a Fighting move, a well-timed prediction will catch Heatran off guard, although Heatran's superior Speed means that if it can avoid coming in on said Fighting move, it can still threaten to KO. Defensive Will-O-Wisp Rotom-A takes whatever Scizor throws at it, boosted or not, halves its Attack with a burn that also wears Scizor down, and can batter away with STAB Thunderbolt. Gyarados has Intimidate, resists all of Scizor's attacks, and the defensive set can Roar it out to rack up entry hazard damage, although its Stealth Rock weakness is a slight hindrance. The Mixed Tyranitar set mentioned above can take out all of these Pokémon with the correct set; an offensive Shuca Berry Heatran carrying Hidden Power Electric is an excellent way of dispatching them as well.
The last moveslot varies. Bug Bite is a Technician-boosted STAB that deals high amounts of damage when backed by a Swords Dance, whereas U-turn is good at scouting Scizor's counters early-game. Brick Break and Superpower catch Scizor's most common counter, Heatran, on the switch, and the latter does respectable damage to Skarmory at +2, although the Attack and Defense drops aren't appreciated.
In summary: if you like bulky sweepers, try this guy out; he's one of the best and a lot of teams are ill-prepared for him.
Cradily @ Leftovers
Ability: Suction Cups
EVs: 248 HP / 8 Atk / 12 Def / 240 SpD
Careful Nature (+SpD, -SpA)
- Rest / Recover
- Rock Slide
- Earthquake / Seed Bomb
Say hello to one of the scariest sweepers in DPP. There are several Curse users, and therefore it is hard to stand out as one. Snorlax, Tyranitar, and Swampert are the only ones that have made it to OU, and all three of them have several other more popular sets. The main problem with Curse sweepers (outside of critical hits) is the fact that they rely on RestTalk for recovery, which means that they can easily be phazed out while sleeping. Cradily fixes that problem, as its ability Suction Cups makes it impossible to be phazed out. Cradily is also a Rock-type, which means its Special Defense is boosted to 511 in sandstorm along with 375 HP. Combine this with Curse boosting Defense and a healing move, either Rest or Recover, and Cradily can be extremely hard to take out.
The idea behind this set is the same as for every Curse user. The EV spread focuses on maximizing special bulk, while Curse boosts Defense and Attack to make Cradily bulky on both sides and lets it hit hard. Sandstorm support is important, as it gives Cradily's Special Defense an instant boost that Curse cannot provide. Suction Cups is key to this set, as it means Cradily cannot be phazed out, which would remove all stat changes.
The choice between Rest and Recover depends on preference: Recover seems like the obvious option since it doesn't put you asleep for two turns, but that is also Rest's advantage. Being able to cure Cradily of Toxic means only critical hits can really stop it. Ironically though, those two sleep turns increase the chance of being hit by a critical hit, so that's a choice you have to make. Rock Slide is Cradily's most reliable STAB move, while Earthquake gives the best coverage. Seed Bomb on the other hand provides another STAB move and also allows you to beat Hippowdon and Curse Swampert, something Earthquake cannot do.
Hippowdon or Tyranitar are required if you want to use Cradily so it can fully utilize its incredible special bulk. A counter to Fighting-types, such as Celebi is also appreciated, as they can greatly threaten Cradily even after a Curse or two, not to mention they might also carry a boosting move, which they can use while Cradily is asleep to bypass all its Curse boosts. It takes a fair bit of support, but the results are most definitely worth it, as once Cradily gets going, it's incredibly hard to stop.
Dugtrio @ Choice Band
Ability: Arena Trap
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Stone Edge
- Aerial Ace
- Pursuit / Sucker Punch / Night Slash / Beat Up
Dugtrio has had a rocky history as a Pokémon in the fourth generation. Its unique trapping ability is what separates it from other Pokemon; the triple mole was quite the facilitator in ADV, being a mainstay on many teams for its ability to trap several threats such as Tyranitar, Celebi, Heracross, and Raikou. In early DPP, it was still used, although it couldn't quite match its ADV glory, which eventually led to its drop to UU. It is a one-trick pony, set-up bait, with one great stat, one mediocre stat, and the rest absolutely pitiful.
However, it has a niche, and quite an important one at that. Heatran and Tyranitar are two of the best Pokemon in DPP; they are heavily relied on by so many teams that if they're removed from the match, you can gain an immense advantage over your opponent. Dugtrio's excellent Speed means that even Choice Scarf Tyranitar will be outsped, and the STAB it gains on Earthquake as well as the Choice Band boost assures that even Shuca Berry Heatran will be taken out in one hit. Dugtrio is not limited to trapping just these two Pokemon, however; there are a whole host of Pokemon that it can forcibly revenge kill, although its rather mediocre Attack stat means that some of them will need to have taken prior damage first. A few of the other Pokémon Dugtrio can check include Infernape, Raikou, Jirachi, Roserade, Blissey, Starmie, Suicune, Metagross, Empoleon, and Choice Specs Jolteon locked into Thunderbolt.
However, Dugtrio's defenses aren't doing it any favors, as they are among the worst in the entire game. This means that in order to trap something, it must either come in after a teammate has died, or catch its target on a double switch; neither strategy is particularly reliable, and perhaps that is what has turned so many players off at the prospect of using Dugtrio. However, those that recognize how much potential this little mole has have been using different methods to make sure it gets in safely; seeing as Dugtrio's targets are very easy to lure, and the Pokemon that lure them in have access to switch moves (for instance, Celebi has U-turn or Baton Pass), the Dugtrio user can scout the switch and safely bring it in for a free KO. Disclaimer: while this certainly is an effective strategy, it should be noted that it is considered "cheap" by some players, and it may result in people questioning your abilities as a player. Using Dugtrio alongside Magnezone on a dedicated trap team may also trigger such reactions.
While Dugtrio is excellent at trapping certain Pokémon, after it gets its KO, it is set-up bait for several dangerous threats, including but not limited to Dragon Dance Dragonite, Substitute Gengar, and Calm Mind Celebi; it is therefore recommended that your team has a strong defensive backbone to cover all the free set-up opportunities Dugtrio will inevitably give your opponent after scoring a kill.
In summary: Dugtrio is one of the rising stars in the current DPP metagame and, despite its UU status, should definitely be taken into account when making a team.
Although DPP has long since fallen into the category of past generations, the metagame is always evolving. Even as Generation VI approaches, DPP's influence in major tournaments, as well as the nostalgia factor for many players, assures that it will be around for a long time. If you've not played the metagame for a long time, give it a shot—although it is technically the same way that it was left at the beginning of BW, a lot of things have changed; you might be pleasantly surprised!
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