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While it was decent in ADV, Breloom was regarded as "just another Fighting-type". Its unique Grass / Fighting typing was pretty cool, but like Poliwrath, its primary typing gave it little in the way of reliable offense, as Breloom's poor Special Attack left it unable to utilize its STAB Grass-type attacks. On top of that, it had a nearly useless ability in the form of Effect Spore, which depended on Breloom's mediocre defenses to have any effect at all. It did have Spore, Leech Seed, Substitute, and an extremely powerful STAB Focus Punch to mix and match any way it wanted, but unfortunately, this wasn't enough to pull it out of the no-man's-land called BL.
Luckily, Generation 4 was right around the corner, ready to pull Breloom from the pit of despair and drop it directly into the limelight. The physical-special split gave it access to a now-physical Seed Bomb, and it also gained some new physical tricks, such as Superpower and Stone Edge. However, the most notable benefit it gained from Generation 4 was its new ability, Poison Heal. By holding a Toxic Orb, Breloom can not only heal 12.5% of its maximum HP per turn, twice the effectiveness of Leftovers and half of the HP of a Substitute, but it also becomes immune to status effects (once Toxic Orb is activated), allowing it to switch into Thunder Wave, Will-O-Wisp, and Toxic with impunity. This also allows Breloom to utilize Facade for fantastic neutral coverage and power.
When examining Breloom's stats, your eyes are probably immediately drawn to its massive base 130 Attack. That's because in terms of stats, everything other than its Attack is thoroughly uninteresting. Indeed, Breloom has the third-lowest base stat total in OU, beating only Ninjask and Smeargle. That said, Breloom's main power stems from a set of three moves: Spore, Substitute, and Focus Punch. With these three moves, Breloom is easily capable of shafting nearly any type of team. Spore makes it easy for Breloom to set up a Substitute, and once that Substitute is up, it can begin to fire off painful STAB Focus Punches off of its 394 Attack. To give you an idea of how powerful Focus Punch is, Salamence is 2HKOed by Focus Punch even with a resistance AND Intimidate's effect, and this is without a boosting item of any kind. Alternately, for mind-games, Breloom can scout with a Substitute, allowing it to more carefully choose which foe to Spore, and cause even more havoc with its Focus Punch.
While its base 70 Speed is often underwhelming, it still gives Breloom all the Speed it needs to do its job. With enough investment, Breloom can outspeed opponents such as defensive Rotom-A and Suicune, incapacitate them with Spore before setting up a Substitute, and chip away their health with Seed Bomb or Focus Punch.
Breloom also has a fairly diverse secondary movepool, which makes up the majority of Breloom's non-SubPunch options. Leech Seed can stack with Poison Heal's healing to fill Breloom's tank extremely rapidly, while also forcing more switches and stalling out some notable counters, such as Gyarados. Swords Dance sends Breloom's already excellent Attack through the roof, and is extremely effective when used alongside Mach Punch.
Breloom is pretty much a machine in OU, and using it is pretty simple. Once it gets in, taking advantage of either non-damaging moves, status moves (once Toxic Orb activates), or weak resisted moves such as MixPert's Earthquake, it can begin its reign of terror. Spore and Substitute are both excellent opening moves, and once Breloom gets a Substitute up, the fun begins. If your opponent isn't packing one of the very few counters to Breloom, get ready to watch them flail around as they sacrifice team members to try and break Breloom's Substitute and get at the soft, squishy mushroom behind it.
Breloom also has options outside of the standard SubPunch set. Leech Seed is an option to heal Breloom further, force switches, and generally annoy people. While the loss of the fourth move can be an issue, it can make it easy for Breloom to stall out Pokémon such as Rotom-A, who is immune to Focus Punch and normally 3HKOed by Breloom's Seed Bomb. By laying down Leech Seed and then just spamming Substitute, Breloom can easily stall out foes due to Poison Heal's healing. Breloom can also go offensive with Swords Dance. While Breloom loses its vicious STAB Focus Punch, it can still pick off foes with a STAB Mach Punch, eat Flying-types with Stone Edge, and hit everything else hard with Seed Bomb.
If you're looking for a way to shut down Breloom, there's no better way to do so than Celebi. With Natural Cure to shrug off Spore, resistance to Focus Punch and Seed Bomb, and reliable recovery, there's not a damn thing that Breloom can do to muscle past Celebi. That said, if Celebi isn't packing Hidden Power Fire or Psychic, it'll probably have a hard time breaking Breloom's Substitutes, and when it comes down to it, Focus Punch's 32 PP will outlast Recover's 16 PP any day.
If onions aren't to your taste, Salamence and Gyarados can also effectively "handle" Breloom by breaking its Substitute and forcing it out. However, note that without investing in Defense, both are 2HKOed by Focus Punch after Stealth Rock, even with Intimidate factored in, meaning that at most they can force Breloom out. Suicune's excellent defenses and ability to outspeed Breloom makes it fairly easy for Suicune to at least slow Breloom down. In addition, faster variants of Suicune can sometimes lure in Breloom looking to switch into CroCune and put it out of commission.
Breloom doesn't need much support to do its job, but it's still important to provide it with the token support that it needs to handle a number of notable opponents.
As with any offensive Pokémon, Stealth Rock heavily benefits Breloom. With Stealth Rock up, Salamence and Gyarados cannot be as cavalier in switching into Breloom, as Focus Punch becomes an easy 2HKO even at -1 Attack. Beyond that, however, Breloom doesn't need much. Toxic Spikes can help Breloom deal with Celebi somewhat, as it forces Celebi out over time, allowing Breloom to get at the rest of Celebi's team much more easily. However, outside of Celebi, Toxic Spikes don't do much for Breloom, so don't feel obligated to give it that support.
If you're looking to make a splash with SubPunch Breloom, you'll want to pack a way to get rid of Celebi. The standard Tyranitar can do fairly well, though Grass Knot can pose a large threat to Tyranitar, reducing its reliability. Choice Band Gyarados can lure Celebi in and dispatch it with a powerful Payback, and can also absorb Fire-type attacks aimed at Breloom. Heatran also does well, as it can come in on Breloom's Fire, Ice, and Psychic weaknesses and retaliate with its powerful Fire Blasts.
The Swords Dance set needs a little more support. While removing Celebi is still important, Breloom also needs support to remove faster Fighting resisters such as Gyarados, Salamence, and Zapdos. Tyranitar can maim pretty much any variant of Zapdos, but Gyarados and Salamence can be a bit tougher to dispatch. Since Salamence is unlikely to Earthquake against Breloom, its main recourse is whatever Fire- or Dragon-type attack it may be packing. Because of this, Choice Scarf Heatran can switch in with impunity and scare Salamence out with Dragon Pulse. As for Gyarados, Vaporeon meshes well with Breloom's weaknesses and can easily switch into Gyarados's assaults before KOing it with Hidden Power Electric.
If you want to watch unprepared teams panic and crumble before you, Breloom is the way to go. Its insane power behind a Substitute is incredibly difficult to handle, and at the end of the day, if you ask the average battler how they feel about facing Breloom, you probably won't hear very many nice things. What better kind of Pokémon is there to stick in your team?
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