Featured OU RMT #1: Team 'Kevin, Please Come Home' by august and Kevin Garrett

Original team by august and Kevin Garrett, with commentary by Twist of Fate. Art provided by Cyzir Visheen.
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As a special treat for Smog readers, august and I have decided that two OU teams should be recognized for their success in the current metagame. The first, 'Team Kevin, Please Come Home' by Kevin Garrett and august showcases an offensive approach to the metagame, utilizing entry hazards to weaken the opponent's team and allowing fast, hard-hitting sweepers to clean up. For those that missed the RMT, here it is again for your viewing pleasure.

First Glance

Smeargle Rotom-H Salamence Latias Lucario Scizor

Intro:

The main idea of this team is to stack layers of entry hazards in order to make a clean sweep. Smeargle is an ideal choice for this role because it matches up well with several common leads and has access to all the moves necessary for it to be effective. It's also able to maintain a fast tempo that couldn't be achieved with other common Spike users, bar Roserade. Surrounding Smeargle is a team of the strongest sweepers in the metagame coupled with good typing for optimal synergy. Every type is resisted twice, except for Rock and Flying.

Another reason for this team's success is its ability to perform well against basically every type of playstyle out there if used correctly. Rain teams may look like they could be damaging to a team of sweepers, but once the rain stops falling, Salamence and Lucario rip through the entire team. Balanced teams can be easy or challenging depending upon the pace that's set in the game. Through working Smeargle smartly, the user of this team can choose to set the pace at any speed they want. The only time this team is in major trouble is when the user fails to control the game.

When the team was new, it would be able to work its way out of any match. It performs especially well against stall teams, which led me to great success in Season 8 of the Smogon Tour. It totaled a massive 20 points in OU. Both august and I laddered the team to cruise to a CRE over 1650 at the peak of its dominance. The name comes from a combination of my account and august's alias, please come home. Now that the team has been exposed and there are many other Smeargle leads out there, it has grown less effective due to the increase in leads that beat it.

Closer Look:

Smeargle
Smeargle @ Focus Sash
Ability: Own Tempo
EVs: 96 HP / 120 Def / 40 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Stealth Rock
- Spikes
- Spore
- Taunt

Smeargle is one of the best leads in the current metagame. It's the fastest user of Spore without Choice Scarf, which makes it largely successful as a Spiker against slower leads. Bronzong, Hippowdon, and Swampert are all at a major disadvantage against Smeargle. Stall teams struggle because they can't outspeed Smeargle, which ensures that I'll at least get Stealth Rock and one layer of Spikes down. It's expected to get most or all of the entry hazards down against stall.

Faster leads don't spell the death of Smeargle because it's easy to switch out and come back in to Spike later. The only drawback of waiting to set up is that it will likely lose its Focus Sash. Rotom-H helps cover Taunt leads, like Aerodactyl and Azelf, as it can come in and activate their Focus Sash while they Stealth Rock. Scizor can come in on lead Jirachi to take Iron Head. If they Stealth Rock or Trick, Scizor can U-turn out and take a chunk of damage out of something. The biggest problem Smeargle faces is Lum Berry Metagross. Since most of them run Occa Berry, Smeargle usually stays in on Metagross. If it has Lum Berry and I don't switch out, the chances of getting anything up is low.

Spike stacking is the foundation this team is built on. For an offensive team, Smeargle is the best one to take on this role because it is quick and can easily find a time to come in and plant an additional layer of Spikes. When this is done carefully, any of the five sweepers will be able to tear through teams. The type coverage each of them brings to the table force switches. It is not uncommon for Rotom-H or Latias to finish a Blissey off after being sent in to Spikes a few times. The same can be said for Lucario against things like Zapdos or Gyarados.

Taunt is a unique move that is rarely seen on Smeargle. It's most commonly used for blocking slower Stealth Rock users from laying it down. Salamence can function a lot better as an attacker and defender without taking 25% damage upon switching in. Taunt also prevents Sleep Talking. It's common to see my opponent's switch in Rotom-A, Suicune, Machamp, Gyarados, etc. to absorb sleep. I am guaranteed Smeargle will have more of a lasting effect on the game if I don't take a huge chunk of damage from Sleep Talk Thunderbolt. Taunt is also able to prevent recovery and status inflicting moves from opposing team supporters or walls. Lastly, it stops stat-upers from completely killing me. It works well against Ninjask too. I have enough time to Stealth Rock afterwards and switch out to Scizor to threaten Bullet Punch.

Rotom-H
Rotom-H @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Thunderbolt
- Shadow Ball
- Overheat
- Trick / Hidden Power Ground / Hidden Power Ice

What good is a spike stacking team without an anti-spinner? Rotom-H fills the role of anti-spinning amazingly well and has in my opinion easily earned the MVP role. Being able to easily switch in on just about every Rapid Spinner is invaluable against stall, especially teams that run two spinners. Thunderbolt OHKOs Starmie with Stealth Rock or one layer of Spikes down, whereas Forretress is easily OHKOed by Overheat.

While 252 HP may seem a little odd on a Scarfed Rotom-H, it really helps to take hits much better. Rotom-H can now actually take Fire Blasts, Dragon Claws, and Surfs much more feasibly and with Spikes almost always on the opposing filed (there are very few times I have not gotten Spikes down), Rotom-H doesn't need that much offensive power. Trick or Hidden Power is something we are never quite sure of. Tricking off the Scarf against powerful Dark or Ghost attacks, like Tyranitar, allows Lucario and Scizor both a free turn, which Lucario can easily use to set up or Scizor can use to throw off a U-turn to weaken the opposing core even more.

Rotom-H also acts as my insurance blanket against Gyarados, Mamoswine, +2 Lucario and other physical threats. Thanks to 252 HP, Rotom-H can now come in to Bulky Gyarados' Waterfalls much easier than it could with 4 HP and Lucario's Crunch no longer OHKOs so I can play Rotom-H a little more recklessly than previously. Rotom-H usually comes in on Swords Dance or an attack it is immune to. The ever so dangerous Mamoswine cannot muster a 2HKO on Rotom-H either while the return Overheat will OHKO the prehistoric beast. Rotom-H also provides a Pursuit weakness, which is something I generally do not like on a team. However, with Scizor and Lucario making great use of free turns with U-turn and Swords Dance, respectively. The most common Pursuits are Choice Band Scizor and Choice Band Tyranitar, 2 Pokemon that are more of a liability against this team than they are a problem.

On any other team I'd probably have chosen Rest Talk Rotom-H over Choice Scarf. However, once my opponent finds out Rotom-H is a choiced variant they will have to predict my attacks, which generally means switching. Switching will cause residual damage to build up which will allow for a late game sweep from just about anything on the team barring Smeargle.

Hidden Power Ice was used for a while to hit threats like Salamence who could hassle the team greatly. After a while, I found that Hidden Power Ice was not performing well as we had trouble directly bringing Rotom-H in to Salamence and decided that Trick would be better to aid Lucario and Scizor in setting up. Hidden Power Ground was on the very first draft of the team. While using Scarf Rotom-H on various other teams I always found that the most common switch in besides Blissey, Snorlax, and Tyranitar was Heatran, which would take a huge chunk from Hidden Power Ground. Hidden Power Ground ended up simply giving too many free turns to Dragon Dance Salamence and Choice Scarf Flygon and other Pokemon that were already causing a headache when trying to deal with them.

Salamence
Salamence @ Life Orb
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 16 Atk / 240 SpA / 252 Spe
Naive nature (+Spe, -SpD)
- Earthquake
- Draco Meteor
- Outrage
- Flamethrower

Salamence is the type of Pokemon who you can never be too sure of. Salamence has a plethora of sets that fill different roles, and each set has different counters. For example, Blissey can wall Choice Specs Salamence, but has no chance against Choice Band Salamence and vice versa with Pokemon like Skarmory. Because of this Salamence always has the opponent on the tips of their toes. Salamence can feign sets like Choice Band / Specs / Dragon Dance thanks to no leftovers recovery and cause switches which rack up passive damage on the opponent. Salamence is also immune to common Choiced Earthquakes which is a huge help in some situations.

The reason Mixed Salamence was chosen over any other type of Salamence is its ability to do immediate damage against the opposing team. Causing pain for switch ins with a Life Orb Draco Meteor is a great way to weaken the opposing core. Outrage also provides an unparalelled late game sweeping tool which comes off an incredible 135 base attack stat. Flamethrower and Earthquake round out the moveset thanks to the ability hit different types of steels. For example, Earthquake to hit Heatran and Flamethrower to hit Forretress and Skarmory.

Salamence's Intimidate ability can also prove useful when menacing late game Lucario / Scizor think they can run through my weakened team. Salamence provides a rather solid Fighting-type resist as well as 90 / 80 Def, which is nothing to laugh at when coupled with Intimidate. Salamence / Rotom-H / Latias form a solid defensive core that can keep up tempo, something most offensive teams struggle with. Rotom-H helps to stop threats like Choice Band Scizor or Swords Dance Lucario from running through me with ease, whereas Latias can come in on the majority of bulky waters with ease. Salamence's role is sometimes harder due to it's Stealth Rock weakness but no matter what Salamence will play an important role in the match, whether it be killing off half of the opposing team or simply intimidating a physical threat when needed.

Latias
Latias @ Life Orb
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Thunderbolt
- Recover
- Surf
- Draco Meteor

Latias is a versatile Pokemon on this team because it can inflict massive damage on the opposition and supply many needed resistances. It has wonderful synergy with Scizor and Lucario because they cover each other's weaknesses. She covers Electric attacks very well with easy recovery, whereas Rotom-H has to worry about collecting too much damage. Latias always causes a lot of switches and her mere presence attracts Pursuiters to come in. The beauty of Latias on a spike stacking team is that all Pursuiters are normally 2HKO'd by Surf after having a date with stealth Rock and Spikes. This allows her to see a lot more action over the course of the game and ultimately be more effective.

Calm Mind doesn't really have a place on Latias in this team because of its fast paced nature. Thunderbolt offers more covered a slim chance of paralyzing the opponent. The paralysis only has merit when Latias is stalling out something like Zapdos. With an increase in SpD Skarmory's, Thunderbolt is like an ace in the hole. They'll switch in to Surf and take only a modest amount of damage, think it's safe to Roost, and be taken out. It also takes the pressure off Draco Meteor against things that don't need that much firepower. Having two Pokemon that can use Thunderbolt also eliminates Suicune as a major threat to the team. It's also nice to surprise a stray Gyarados.

Vaporeon has trouble keeping up with Latias thanks to Thunderbolt. Wish only recovers most of the damage. If it stays in to PP stall Latias out, a critical hit or paralysis are inevitable. Latias specializes in weakening or scaring away things that threaten to wall the physical sweepers on this team. Zapdos and Gliscor have difficulty against her. The worst thing Zapdos can do to Latias is paralyze it, but faces being paralysed itself by Thunderbolt if it stays in. Latias can take out Def Zapdos from around three quarters of its health. After coming in to Stealth Rock, it is within range for Latias to kill.

Lucario
Lucario @ Life Orb
Ability: Inner Focus
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Close Combat
- Crunch
- Extremespeed
- Swords Dance

Once Lucario is revealed it is generally the beginning of the end. Once the hazards are laid and the stage is set the game is as good as over. A Swords Dance boosted Close Combat easily OHKOs Hippowdon with Spikes support and Stealth Rock weakens Gyarados and Zapdos, two other premiere Lucario checks. What makes Lucario so great on this team is the number of free turns it can get by thinking ahead. Latias and Rotom-H are commonly Pursuited, which gives Lucario an easy boost. Salamence's Rock- and Ice-type weaknesses can also give Lucario a free Swords Dance as well. Salamence and Latias are also constantly attracting Choice Scarf Flygon, who has a weak Outrage that Lucario can use to get +2.

Lucario has solid synergy with Latias as well as Salamence. Both Latias and Salamence can take ground attacks aimed at Lucario. Latias is the general weapon of choice to take Fire attacks from the likes of Choice Scarf Heatran thanks to its 130 Base Special Defense stat. Physical Fighting attacks like Close Combat tend to go to Salamence, which softens the blow with Intimidate. Most common Lucario checks are sponged by Pokemon on the team. Here are some examples:

Scarf Heatran: Latias

Scarf / Mix Jirachi: Rotom-H

Scarf Rotom-A: Thunderbolt / Overheat go to Latias, if it Shadow Balls Scizor has an easy Pursuit.

Lucario is not the centerpiece of the team, although it may seem it. This team more focuses around any of the five Spike Stack abusers getting a sweep. Lucario is arguably the best at getting a sweep late game, but without the support of the team, Lucario cannot accomplish this. While Lucario is generally the last pokemon shown, I am not afraid to bring it out early game to begin firing off 350 Attack Life Orb Close Combats to weaken the opposition for late game where literally anything on the team can rear its head and come out for a sweep. For example, if I do not get to lay spikes against a team with Hippowdon, I will not hesitate to SD Close Combat Hippowdon to bring it into range of U-turn.

Scizor
Scizor @ Choice Band
Ability: Technician
EVs: 248 HP / 252 Atk / 8 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Bullet Punch
- Superpower
- U-turn
- Pursuit

Scizor, the mindless U-turning spammer, finds its way into this team, much like it finds itself on many other teams since Platinum's release. Scizor is a secondary check against fragile offensive Pokemon such as Weavile thanks to its Technician and Choice Band boosted Bullet Punch. Scizor acts as a safety blanket against Dragon Dance Salamence as well should it manage to set up amidst the sea of attacks. Infact, Scizor is like a 4th part of the defensive core this team boasts, except instead of checking offensive Pokemon, Scizor tends to check defensive Pokemon. Scizor is the main switch into Thunder Wave Blissey since it can easily U-turn out or OHKO with Superpower. Scizor is also the primary check against Cresselia since U-turn does quite a bit of damage. Defensive Calm Mind Latias is another Pokemon Scizor can easily counter thanks to it's Dragon-type resistance and decent SpD stat.

After Smeargle and Rotom-H were added to the team, Scizor was my obvious third choice. Scizor's mere presence is enough to force switches, not to mention that U-turn is a ridiculous move on a team like this because it allows me to attack relentlessly and get matchups that force even more switches. Pursuit is hardly ever used on this set because most of the time I would rather U-turn to keep tempo in my favor than lock myself into a weak move that allows the opposition to set up on me. The only time I ever consider using Pursuit is against Choice Scarf Gengar and Scarf Rotom-A because they can easily stop Lucario and occasionally Salamence and Latias from sweeping. Superpower gives me a weapon to hit the omnipresent Magnezone and Heatran that just love switching into Scizor to threaten an OHKO.

Scizor's only immediate weakness is covered nicely by Latias' resistance and base 130 SpD stat. One of the main fears of using Choice Band Scizor is the fact that Lucario can easily set up and proceed to sweep. Thanks to Rotom-H and Salamence, Lucario cannot feasibly sweep my team unless Salamence is very weakened and Rotom-H gets hit on the switch in with Crunch. Perhaps the greatest asset of Scizor on this team is the number of resistances it has, particularly choiced attacks. Scizor has a resistance to Choice Tyranitar's Crunch and Pursuit, Rotom-A's and Gengar's Shadow Ball, opposing Scizor's Pursuit and Bullet Punch, and most notably the Dragon-type resist. Most Pokemon locked into these not very effective moves will flee to a Scizor counter, which Scizor will U-turn from. Most common Scizor counters, like Gyarados or Zapdos are covered by other members of the team.

Scizor and Lucario in particular are countered by similar Pokemon. It helps that most checks are Stealth Rock weak as well (Gyarados and Zapdos), meaning they are taking 25% from each switch in. By keeping pressure on them with Latias and Salamence, I can prevent Zapdos from Roosting and Gyarados from Resting so Scizor and Lucario can take them out late game. A downside about the offensive duo is that both have a Fire-type weakness. Since they are both Steel-types, it can be annoying because that means both of them are trapped by Magnezone, something I do not enjoy in an offensive combination. Nonetheless, Magnezone can't do much to Rotom-H, but by the time I can bring Rotom-H in I have lost one of my valuable offensive attackers.

Conclusion:

Overall this has been an extremely fun team to use in its day. In the current metagame, this team does not perform nearly as well as it used to. August used this team in the 1st round of World Cup of Pokemon to achieve his 3-0 record and I used it to win the 2nd round match against Kinneas. It goes without saying that this team has a few problems. Teams that carry a lot of Scarfed Pokemon (mostly Magnezone and Salamence) give this team a load of trouble, especially when combined with something to Pursuit Latias, who is the glue that holds me together against teams with many special attackers. Glass cannon offense can have its way with this team if I cannot keep Rotom-H alive for as long as possible. On the brightside, if this team is played correctly it has the potential to beat all opposing playstyles, which is not something I can say about other teams.

If you were to describe 'Team Kevin, Please Come Home,' bulky offense would be the words that come to mind. However, this team takes a sort of semi-stall approach to bulky offense, incorporating both Stealth Rock and Spikes. Unlike semi-stall, however, this team lacks dedicated walls to get each individual layer up. Quick layers usually leads to a quick demise for the opponent.

The secret of the team lies in its lead, Smeargle. Although somewhat unorthodox, Smeargle was highly effective in both neutralizing an opponent's lead with Spore, as well as getting Stealth Rock and at least one layer of Spikes up, thanks to its Focus Sash. Taunt further cements Smeargle's ability to support its teammates, preventing opposing Stealth Rock from being set up by slower leads such as Swampert. As the metagame evolved, however, many players started leading with things such as Lum Berry Metagross and Roserade, who can fire off a faster sleeping move. Nonetheless, Smeargle often succeeds in getting a few layers of entry hazards up, if not all of them, making it easier for KG / august to abuse their powerful, lurking sweepers.

First up on the lineup is the most powerful dual Dragon combination in OU, Latias and Salamence. Both Dragons provide KG / august with an overpowered move in Draco Meteor, ripping through basically any Pokemon. Salamence in particular has the ability to single-handedly beat Stall teams through its combination of four moves. If Salamence fails to break down the opponent's defense, often Latias is the one that ends up sweeping. Alongside Draco Meteor are Surf and Thunderbolt, each hitting major threats including Gyarados and Tyranitar. Recover prolongs Latias's longevity, allowing it to take on things like Rotom and Infernape with ease. Although both Dragons share common weaknesses, their offensive power often allows KG / august to play around these threats and retaliate back. With residual damage support, often nothing can stand up to these two Pokemon in conjunction.

Two Pokemon, however overpowered, do not complete a team, of course. In order to handle problematic Pokemon such as opposing Latias, as well as add to the resistances of an offensive team, Scizor is added to the mix. Scizor provides the necessary Steel-typing to a fast-paced team such as this, taking Ice attacks aimed at Salamence and Latias. In addition, Bullet Punch allows Scizor to revenge-kill many top threats in the OU metagame, such as Mamoswine, opposing Salamence, and Flygon. U-turn is perhaps the reason why Scizor is so valuable to an offensive team, being able to inflict heavy damage to an opposing Pokemon as well as place KG / august in an advantageous position.

Scizor's physical partner in crime is the deadly Swords Dance Lucario. KG and august take advantage of the fact that Scizor and Lucario are often walled by the same things by gradually wearing down opposing counters. Often, opposing teams only carry one Pokemon to deal with both of these physical powerhouses; as a result, sacrificing Scizor to defeat an opponent's Zapdos or Gyarados is often beneficial as it allows Lucario to sweep. The choice between Crunch and Stone Edge on Lucario is often brought up, and KG / august chose Crunch simply because the number of defensive Gyarados / Zapdos pales in comparison to the amount of defensive Rotom. Additionally, the team does have both Latias and Salamence to ward off Gyarados and Zapdos, so Stone Edge seems unnecessary after all.

The last slot of the team belongs to the "MVP", according to august and KG. Scarf Rotom-H patches up all apparent weaknesses this team has, including Swords Dance Lucario and offensive Dragon Dance Gyarados. Rotom-H also serves as the team's spin-blocker, preventing the work Smeargle spent on getting out hazards from going to waste. The EV spread might seem odd at first, but max HP is necessary on Rotom-H to be able to continually take hits from the likes of CB Scizor, Mamoswine, and Gyarados. Trick is invaluable against opposing stall teams, often crippling an opposing Blissey and making it much easier to break.

The basic premise of this team is bulky offense which relies on entry hazards to sweep the opposition. Resistances are an important part of this team, which KG and august have accounted for quite well, being able to defeat the majority of threats provided the plan goes well. However, all great teams have weaknesses, and this team's successes (and therefore weaknesses) stem from the Smeargle lead. If Smeargle fails to get up entry hazards, opposing stall teams have a much easier time switching in and out and stalling this team. Since Salamence lacks Roost, often Life Orb and Sandstorm damage take it out of commission, leading to the team's demise. Another thing worthy of note is the Pursuit weakness. If Tyranitar Pursuits Rotom-H locked into either Shadow Ball or Thunderbolt, Swords Dance Lucario has a very good chance of sweeping. Often KG and august play around this weakness, or rely on Salamence to tank a +2 ExtremeSpeed, but this combination is definitely the biggest threat.

Nonetheless, 'Team Kevin, Please Come Home' is an excellent showcase of an offensive approach to the metagame, and shows how deadly certain sweepers in the OU metagame are when supported by residual damage.

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