Hello, Smogon, this is one of my favorite teams, and it has been quite successful for me. It has been on the leaderboard a few times over the past few monthes, and this was my ST6 tournament team. The main gameplan of this team is to use Skarmory as an effective Spiker/Stealth Rocker and set up plenty of hazards to make it easy for Sub-Pain Split Gengar to sweep weakened teams. This team debuted Sub-Pain Split Gengar prior to Phil posting his analysis on it. Since then, there have been many people trying it out, and I like to think that my team's success on the ladder influenced its popularity.
An in-depth view of the team and its members
Skarmory (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Keen Eye
EVs: 252 HP/4 Def/252 SpD
Impish nature (+Def, -SpA)
- Stealth Rock
Intro to the set
So, Skarmory was the candidate best suited to lead off the match for our team. At first, I was worried about its potential effectiveness. When we made the team, Skarmory's usage stats as a lead were "25 | Skarmory | 10101 | 1.23%." I even got one comment from an opponent I was facing on the leaderboard, "Skarmory, the worst of leads." I soon found out that it is a great lead. Two of the most popular leads in the Metagame are Swampert and Metagross, and they allow me to set up a free layer of Spikes and Stealth Rock because they can't touch Skarmory and its high defenses.
Basically, Skarmory is such a great lead, that if it does its job, and gets a up a layer of Spikes and Stealth Rock, my opponent can rarely ever come back in the match unless they have a spinner, which isnt the most difficult thing to play around. I am also not afraid to sacrifice Skarmory to get these aforementioned layers, and they are a critical part of the teams success.
Moves, set and spread
To me, the 4 moves for this set were fairly obvious. I chose Stealth Rock because I wanted to start the match with it, and I didn't want to waste another of my team member's moveslots with it. Spikes were a given, and the sole reason Skarmory makes an appearance on the team. Roost is an excellent move that allows me to switch in effectively and counter strong attackers like Agiligross, Tyranitar, Gyarados without Taunt, and the ever popular Scizor. Whirlwind is another effective move, and with some prediction, it can be hell for my opponent to get a counter in without it being sent away and taking Stealth Rock and Spikes damage. One other overlooked benefit of Whirlwind is that it makes Wish passing incredibly difficult. Vaporeon has to make a choice whether or not to stay in and heal itself, or just take a risk and hope the wish benefits the switch in that Whirlwind just brought in. Also, CM Wish Jirachi is rendered pretty useless before it gets a CM or two, as odds are, it won't be able to pass its Wish to the intended target.
I chose a Special Defensive spread for Skarmory because its defenses are high enough to switch in and counter what I need it to, and it is able to take on many Special Attackers at the same time. If I remember, a Specs Latias' Surf does only 50% to this Skarmory variant, and when used with Leftovers, I can Roost off damage effectively. Skarmory is also a great switch in to Draco Meteors, and with the Special Defense spread, it is able to shrug of the damage with roost. I chose Leftovers over Shed Shell because it gives me that extra little boost in recovery, which rarely goes unneeded. Suddenly, threats like Agility Metagross with Life Orb ThunderPunch can be stalled out with Roost because it can only do about 55% damage with its attacks.
Skarmory is not the easiest Pokémon to use. It requires a fair amount of intuition to wield effectively. Knowing whether to take advantage of the opposing Pokémon as setup bait and knowing when to Whirlwind the switch in is a skill that maximizes Skarmory's effectiveness. Typically, I will set up 1 or 2 layers of Spikes along with Stealth Rock before I try to do any Whirlwinding. Occasionally, if I can see the opponent switching his lead Celebi out from a mile away, I'll Whirlwind just to rack up some free damage. There are certain Pokémon that I will not take any chances with that attempt to threaten Skarmory. Salamence is one of those Pokémon. I will always Whirlwind it when it comes in if I don't know the set, because if it manages to get a DD as I switch, I'm in deep trouble. Dragonite is another Pokémon that I like to just get rid of, and deal with later because DD requires some effort to stop.
Latias (F) @ Choice Specs
EVs: 4 HP/252 Spe/252 SpA
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Dragon Pulse
- Draco Meteor
Specs Latias is a set everyone is familiar with by now. The main idea is to come in on a Pokémon you threaten to OHKO and start launching off powerful attacks. The main counter to this set is obviously the omnipresent Scarf Tyranitar. Fortunately, Tyranitar is affected by Spikes quite a bit, and Surf is a comfortable 2HKO should Tyranitar choose to switch in. As a general rule of thumb, if Tyranitar comes in and is at risk of a 2HKOed while Latias is at good health (above a Pursuit KO), I will switch out.
Moves, set, and spread
I chose Specs Latias because, with Spikes on the ground, it will score a lot of damage on the opponent. Choice Scarf Latias is too weak for my liking and it screams "Come here for a free KO, Tyranitar," which is why I decided not to put it on my team. Life Orb Latias was an interesting idea that I thought about, but overall I liked Specs Latias's immediate power and the ability to remove problem Pokémon with Trick. When you look at this set, you may be mildly surprised to see no Thunderbolt. I chose to not have Thunderbolt because it was much weaker than STAB Dragon Pulse unless it was Super Effective. Having a great STAB move that doesn't lower Sp. Atk is very useful and it's great for sweeping weakened teams.
Latias' idea is pretty simple. I use its nicely placed resistances to combat Pokémon like Heatran and Infernape and immediately threaten the team's switch in. Latias also makes a great all purpose check to other things as well. Switching in on Rotom-A's Thunderbolt and threatening to KO with boosted Dragon Pulses is, many times, invaluable in a match.
Blissey usually ends up showing itself early in the match when I bring Latias out, and I absolutely love to take risks and Trick early in the game. If I can get a successful Trick on her in the early stages in of the game, more often than not, stall is torn apart.
Jirachi @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 4 HP/252 Atk/252 Spe
Jolly nature (+Spe, -SpA)
- Iron Head
- Fire Punch
This is Scarf Jirachi. I believe most of you are pretty familiar with the way it is played. For my team, it provides a key Dragon resistance and allows me to revenge a myriad of threats. Taunt Gyarados surprised my Skarmory? Who cares? Revenge with Jirachi! Jolly is obviously so I can outspeed or at least speed tie with Dragon Dance Salamence, and with Jolly, I outspeed Agility Metagross, which is pretty convenient.
Moves, set and spread
I have actually been thinking about changing the moves on this Jirachi. At the time we made the team, this was, by far, the most effective Scarf Jirachi set. ThunderPunch was mainly to kill off the annoying Dragon Dance Gyarados along with any other weakened waters like Starmie. Fire Punch gives me a great answer to SD Lucario and SD Scizor. Fire Punch can also pick off a weakened Agility Metagross at around 45% health. Trick rounds out the set and is one of my favorite moves. I typically won't Trick unless I absolutely have to against an offensive team, but I like to unload my Scarf against a Stall team. Typically I end up catching one of their defensive walls like Forretress, and that makes it much easier to play against.
I am open to new sets, because Salamence just figured out that it is beneficial to run +Speed. Because of this, I have a lot of trouble revenging it, and it can sweep my team unless I can counter it with Skarmory while its stuck on Outrage.
Jirachi is an insurance plan for this team. For random setup Pokémon, Jirachi is my main answer. Tyranitar gets Iron Headed and Gyarados gets ThunderPunched, etc. Furthermore, I like to think of Jirachi as my backup Tricker. I tend to play it conservatively, and only Trick when I feel like it is needed. If I am playing a stall team, I don't mind giving up the Scarf to render one of the opposing walls useless. For example, if I am facing a Semi Offensive team, and Suicune is setting up on me, I will Trick with Latias before I try to Trick with Jirachi.
Kingdra (M) @ Lum Berry
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 4 HP/252 Atk/252 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Dragon Dance
Intro to the set
Kingdra seems a little out of place at first glance on this team, but, in reality, it is a very important member. Many times, when my other members can't seem to handle a particular threat, Kingdra comes and does a fantastic job countering whatever is giving me problems. As previously mentioned, it is a great switch in to Starmie, and it can easily dispose of it via Outrage. It is also just a fantastic Fire/Water/Steel counter with its great typing. If Latias happens to be at low health, and it cannot afford to switch into Heatran, Infernape, and other Pokémon like them, then Kingdra fills that role quite nicely. Also, if I deem it necessary, Kingdra can setup on the pesky Tyranitars that Pursuit my Latias.
Moves, set and spread
Originally, I was thinking about using Rain Dance Kingdra, which is a really good Pokémon. It turns out that Phil and I didn't know a good EV Spread, and we didn't like the spread on the analysis. For the time being, we decided to go with Lum DD Kingdra, which in my opinion, is a very underrated Pokémon. Waterfall and Outrage provide for awesome coverage only resisted by Pokémon no one uses (see Shedinja) and Empoleon. Dragon Dance is clearly for boosting Kingdra's rather average Speed and Attack stats, and Substitute can really play mind games with your opponent if you use it correctly. I managed to win one important match when I correctly used Sub to avoid a Twave and snatch a second Dragon Dance, which proved to be the deciding factor.
Kingdra's game plan will change many times during the match according to how it is going. If I am playing conservatively, Kingdra usually won't make an appearance unless Latias is at low health, or I get a free Substitute. Generally speaking, I will use Kingdra to open the match wide open if I get an opportunity, but I won't try to force Kingdra into play and try to make something happen unless I absolutely have to. If I get the chance to set-up on an unfortunate Scarf Jirachi locked into Fire Punch, ThunderPunch, or Iron Head, then so be it, but unless a situation like that arises, Kingdra will sit back and enjoy the match.
Kingdra is also a sort of last chance Pokémon for my team. When all is lost in a match, I will try my best to sacrifice something to give Kingdra a favorable matchup coming in. Kingdra has saved my butt many times when I cannot open a hole in the opposing team, and once it gets in a Dragon Dances, it is quite the effort to get rid of. Sometimes, it's too much effort and will just sweep outright, or it will give another Pokémon on my team an opening to exploit the other team.
Heatran (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 244 HP/220 Spe/32 SpA/12 SpD
Calm nature (+SpD, -Atk)
- Earth Power
- Lava Plume
Intro to the set
Wow, weird set, huh? This is perhaps one of the best Heatran sets I have ever used. Heatran has so many resistances that it can switch in for free on, and immediately threaten the opposing Pokémon with a KO. The main idea for this set is to use Heatran's bulk to Substitute while the opponent switches out or cannot break Heatran's sub. From there, the switch in will be dealt with in one of two ways. If the Pokémon is something that Heatran can KO with either Lava Plume or Earth Power, then it will be obliged to do so. However, most of the time, the switch-in is something that deals reasonably well with Heatran (like Swampert), in which case I will just use Roar and rack up Spikes and Stealth Rock damage. It is quite surprising how many times Heatran will Roar away the Pokémon that comes in to counter it, only to find that the Roar switch in is something Heatran can get another Substitute and repeat the process with.
Moves, set and spread
To be honest, I never even considered another Heatran set to use on this team, and I will not be considering a new set. This Heatran fits the team so well it is unbelievable. Lava Plume and Earth Power are mainly for coverage which is fairly self explanatory. Substitute gives me a way of safely Roaring away counters that would otherwise KO me before I could send them away. Roar makes the set so special and effective when used in tandem with Spikes and Stealth Rock support. Counters find themselves taking 25% from Spikes and 12% from Stealth Rock amounting to 37% damage. On top of this, they cannot stop my Roar unless they have Taunt, which is rare, so the next time they switch in, they will be down a cumulative 74% without ever laying a hit on me.
The EVs are from Philip7086's Torment Tran spread, and they allow me to take Rotom-A's Thunder Bolts like a pro. I can even survive a Life Orb Starmie's Surf with the given EVs, and ideally retaliate back with Earth Power. 220 Speed EVs allow me to outspeed neutral base 70 speed Pokémon, most notably Metagross and Breloom. And, to round out the spread, Calm allows for maximum ability to take hits from the Special side of the spectrum while attack is unneeded due to not having Explosion.
Heatran's goal is to rack up as much damage to the opposing team's counters as possible before going down. Generally, Heatran will be KOed at some point during the match, but more often than not, it will have significantly softened up the other team. Heatran provides me a great switch-in to Pokémon like Jirachi, Rotom-A, Magnezone, Non-Boosted Metagross, Skarmory, Scizor, and Zapdos.
For the most part, I will Roar away potential Dragon Dance Setup sweepers. This means that if I am up against a Salamence, and I am unaware of its moveset, then I will Roar. The same goes for Gyarados and Tyranitar although they don't pose the immediate threat that Salamence does thanks to Jirachi.
Heatran also serves as my status platform. Most of the time, if Skarmory is facing a sleep lead, Heatran is usually picked to take the sleep. It is immune to Toxic thanks to its Steel-typing, and Thunder Wave is not too bad to absorb with Heatran. Thunder Wave does limit the amount of Subs I can make, and I will be forced to use my brain and predict a little more as to what the switch in will likely be.
Gengar (M) @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP/252 Spe/252 SpA
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Focus Blast
- Shadow Ball
- Pain Split
Intro to the set
This set is so good in the end game, it's unreal. The whole idea of the set is to get Gengar in the game on something that it can force out or OHKO. From there, if the opponent isn't obviously staying in, I substitute and the decide how to deal with the switch in from there. If the switch in is something that I can KO from Spikes damage, which it is, more often than not, and I click the appropriate move. If the opponent is out of Gengar's KO range, but it can be 2HKOed, I'll usually make a judgment on whether it's worth it or not to get the KO, or Pain Split back to good health and switch to an appropriate counter. One special niche this Gengar possesses is the ability to take on Blissey. Any Blissey with over 50% health remaining is basically a free full health recovery. It can also take on Scizor from behind a Substitute, and Focus Blast First turn, then stay in on Pursuit and Focus Blast again, or exit to the appropriate counter with Bullet Punch.
Pain Split is also special because it makes taking on stall much easier. Blissey is the main Gengar counter on a Stall team, and it is unable to touch Gengar in the slightest. Instead, I can safely Pain Split from the comfort of my Substitute while Blissey wastes valuable Wish PP. In addition, the new fad, Gliscor, is unable to do anything to stop Gengar, which usually means a free Shadow Ball, Substitute, or Pain Split before Gliscor can Taunt me.
Moves, set and spread
For such an effective set, its set is pretty simple. Shadow Ball and Focus Blast provide unresisted coverage, which, when combined with Spikes, is hard to beat. Focus Blast's accuracy is pretty lame, but it is absolutely necessary for the set to work efficiently. Hidden Power Fighting wouldn't do nearly enough to anything when compared with the extra 50 Base Power I receive at the cost of 30% accuracy. Over many battles, Focus Blast's power makes up for its bad accuracy with the amount of potential KOes it opens up for me. Substitute and Pain Split are the moves that define the set. As described earlier, Substitute provides a shield and allows me deal with a switch in much easier. Pain Split gives me a reliable recovery move if I find myself low on health. Which is not uncommon with Life Orb, sandstorm, and Gengar's paper thin defenses. The EVs are the basic EVs for any Gengar. They allow me to hit as hard as possible because there is no sense in investing in Gengar's nonexistent Sp. Def and Def.
The game plan is simple: await the end game, come in on a resistance/KO and dominate the rest of the match. Once I get Gengar in successfully, and Spikes are on the field, it's pretty much "gg". Gengar + Heatran are excellent synergy partners where each is able to come in on most of the others' resistances. I try to not expose Gengar until I am sure most of the opposing team can be taken care of. Gengar's STAB Shadow Ball is extremely powerful, and can almost OHKO Salamence after Stealth Rock damage. Genar also acts as a nice late game revenge killer for things like Mix Infernape since most Pokémon don't have as a high a Speed Stat. Gengar can also serve as a nice Lucario counter since it's faster and is immune to ExtremeSpeed.
This team has been a lot of fun to play with, and it was a lot of fun to make. With Latias' departure from the metagame, I don't have much use for it unless I need a team for a Blast to the Past match of DPPt. And, a big thank you to Philip7086, who helped me with making this fantastic team!
With the recent banishment of Latias from the OU tier, I thought it was fitting to showcase a team that utilized Latias with its most successful set, the extremely powerful Choice Specs set. Team 'Whispers in the Dark' by undisput3d is a bulky offensive team that uses a powerful core of sweepers alongside entry hazard support to sweep opposing teams. Lead Skarmory provides the entry hazards early on, allowing Specs Latias, Dragon Dance Kingdra, and Roar Heatran to dent opposing Pokémon. The unorthodox yet increasingly popular Substitute + Pain Split Gengar rounds out the team, acting as an offensive spin blocker and excellent late-game cleaner.
As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, undisput3d leads off with Skarmory. The main goal for Skarmory is to get as many layers of entry hazards out as possible. Perhaps due to moveset issues with other Pokémon, undisput3d put both Stealth Rock and Spikes on his lead Skarmory. Although this can be a problem against leads such as Aerodactyl and Heatran, this strategy is highly effective against Metagross and Swampert leads, often leading to the setup of all entry hazards. Roost allows Skarmory to heal up against common leads, and continue to lay out entry hazards. Whirlwind is the necessary phazing move all Skarmory carry that helps spread the entry hazard damage. The EV spread is also nothing new, with maximum Special Defense and HP EVs to take special hits better, allowing for setup on Swampert and Vaporeon with ease.
Undisput3d's first heavy-hitter is the now banned Specs Latias. With entry hazard support, nothing barring Blissey can really take two consecutive Draco Meteors. Scizor and Tyranitar are both 2HKO'd by a Specs Surf after entry hazard support, and therefore are not true counters anymore. Dragon Pulse is chosen as opposed to Thunderbolt because undisput3d handles Pokémon like Skarmory and Suicune relatively easy as is, and Dragon Pulse is excellent for late-game sweeping without the downside of having to use Draco Meteor. Trick is an excellent tool for breaking down opposing stall teams, and absolutely neuters last Pokémon stat-uppers such as Snorlax, the aforementioned Suicune, and Jirachi. Although Latias is now banned from OU play, it was an incredibly important component of undisput3d's team, with its great resistances and extremely powerful attacks.
Complementing Latias offensively was another Dragon-type, Kingdra. If Latias was to somehow go down early, Kingdra makes an excellent switch into Heatran, and can revenge kill Infernape if necessary. Alongside its excellent resistances and typing, Kingdra is capable of sweeping through an unprepared opponent. Dragon Dance increases Kingdra's attack and speed stats, allowing Outrage to deal more damage than normal. Waterfall is a solid STAB move that allows Kingdra to avoid being locked into Outrage. Substitute prevents Kingdra from being statused, which is often the way opponents deal with Kingdra. Substitute often also lets Kingdra grab an extra Dragon Dance, leading to even higher powered STAB attacks. Lum Berry prevents confusion after the initial use of Outrage, which can be the difference between a guaranteed sweep and losing due to confusion damage.
Perhaps the premier definition of a bulky offensive Pokémon is undisput3d's Heatran. Not only does Heatran hit extremely hard with its high base special attack and excellent coverage moves, but it also has a bulky stat distribution that allows it to take hits as well. Heatran is an extremely important member of this team, being able to attack an opponents Pokémon hard with Earth Power and Lava Plume. Additionally, Heatran acts at the team's secondary phazer, racking up additional entry hazard damage. Substitute and Roar allow undisput3d to scout the opponent's team, and rack up entry hazard damage on his/her Heatran counter. The 30% burn rate from Lava Plume almost always ruins an opponent's counters to Heatran anyway, including Tyranitar, Swampert, and Gyarados. Potential burn damage and entry hazard damage makes this Heatran variant extremely difficult to deal with, especially if under a Substitute. Max HP EVs allow Heatran to take as many hits as possible. The Speed EVs are there to outspeed base 70 speed Pokémon such as Breloom.
Rounding out the offensive core is Pain Split Gengar, a newly discovered set yet an extremely effective and annoying one. The combination of Substitute and Pain Split allows Gengar to scout and defeat most of its common counters and checks, including Scarf Tyranitar and Blissey. Substitute is perhaps the crux of this set, allowing Gengar to escape the Pursuits of Tyranitar and Scizor. In Tyranitar's case, Scarf variants are KO'd by Focus Blast, meaning a 70% chance of death if Gengar is under a Substitute. Most Blissey cannot touch this Gengar set under a Substitute, and any Blissey over 50% replenishes all of Gengar's health with Pain Split. Shadow Ball and Focus Blast provide perfect coverage, with the ability to revenge kill Infernape, HP Fire Gengar, and Salamence. Late game, this Gengar variant is extremely difficult to kill, due to its high base Speed and likely entry hazard support.
Because this team is susceptible to bulky boosting Pokémon such as Gyarados and Salamence, undisput3d's last Pokémon is the most popular and perhaps the best 'failsafe' Pokémon, Scarf Jirachi. ThunderPunch catches boosted Gyarados for the KO, and Fire Punch revenge kills opposing Lucario and Swords Dance Scizor. Although undisput3d lacks Ice Punch on this Jirachi set, Iron Head hits most of the Dragons for heavy damage too, such as Salamence and Flygon. However, the disadvantage with this approach is that if Iron Head fails to flinch or KO a boosted Dragon, Jirachi is most likely dead. Ice Punch would have to replace Trick, however Trick is an invaluable move on this team. Having dual Tricksters means that undisput3d is almost guaranteed to defeat last Pokémon stat-uppers.
Team 'Whispers in the Dark' does have some issues, despite its well-crafted nature. As mentioned above, Dragon Dance Salamence can be a huge pain for this team. If Jirachi loses the speed-tie against a +1 Salamence, it often means the loss of a few Pokémon, possibly the game as well. Ice Punch would help alleviate this problem a bit, but that means undisput3d loses his dual Trick strategy. Another issue to this team is Life Orb Starmie. This teams best bet at handling Life Orb Starmie is either revenging it with Jirachi or taking it on with Kingdra. Kingdra does take rather heavy damage from a LO Ice Beam or Thunderbolt, however, so it needs to be played around carefully. Lastly, lead Machamp with Substitute can be a pain to take out because of the fact that Skarmory does not have Brave Bird. Often a sacrifice needs to be made in order to break the Substitute, which could leave undisput3d in a tough hole late-game. Regardless, team 'Whispers in the Dark' is an excellent testament to the success of bulky offense with entry hazard support, and a fitting farewell to Latias from the OU metagame.