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The OU metagame is constantly bombarded by commonplace movesets. Lucario has become synonymous with "Swords Dance user", and one cannot help but assume that every Scizor is carrying a Choice Band. Even though these sets are standard and predictable, they are still very useful additions to a team. But with a metagame that is constantly shifting, it is extremely important to have teammates that deviate from their standard sets while still being viable. A moveset is not a gimmick simply because it is seen less. In fact, being less common allows a Pokémon to present a shock value in addition to being a strong component of an OU team.
While a team full of "standards" can be very good, it runs the risk of being overly predictable. By integrating viable underrated sets onto a team, it becomes harder to plan against. What separates a good team from a great team is the latters sheer unpredictability. Hopefully this article will open up new perspectives and popularize fantastic movesets that don't get enough credit.
Heatran @ Leftovers
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpD / 4 Spe
Calm nature (+SpD, -Atk)
- Earth Power
Heatran has often been relegated to being a Choice Scarf user. And why not? With its amazing Special Attack and decent Speed, Choice Scarf Heatran deserves to be the standard Heatran set. This set aims to take advantage of many common Heatran switch-ins, who naively believe they're going to absorb a Choiced Fire-type attack.
Substitute is one of the best moves in the game. It provides a free turn to scout the opponent and respond to them. It can throw off opposing Heatran who think they are going to get a Flash Fire boost. Once under the Substitute, many Pokémon expect Heatran to be running Roar, so Pokémon like Gyarados and Tyranitar opt to stay in while breaking the Substitute only to be phazed away. However, instead of being phazed away, they are completely crippled by Will-O-Wisp. With their Attack cut in half, physical attackers are effectively neutralized. Flamethrower is the best STAB move for this particular set. Its high PP and Base Power afford Heatran another way to wear down its opponents. Earth Power is there to cover anything that resists Heatran's main STAB, namely other Heatran and Tyranitar. The two moves together cover a wide spectrum of types while the Pokémon who resist both attacks are crippled by burn.
The EVs are designed to maximize Heatran's special bulk so it can take special attacks easier, as Will-O-Wisp already helps it against physical attackers. With the current spread, Heatran reaches 386 HP and 348 Special Defense. By maximizing its special bulk, Heatran is able to take attacks that would normally kill it. For example, standard Heatran's Earth Power is only doing 67% on average. Life Orb Gengar's Focus Blast is doing 70% at most (providing it hits). With this spread, Heatran becomes an excellent switch-in to the Rotom formes as standard Rotom-A's Thunderbolt does a pathetic 20%. Leftovers is the obvious choice of item. The 6.25% it heals each turn ensures maximum longevity, especially since Substitute costs Heatran 25% of its HP.
Jirachi @ Expert Belt
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
Hasty nature (+Spe, -Def)
- Iron Head
- Ice Punch
- Fire Punch
- Grass Knot
In the current metagame, Jirachi is thought to be one of two things: a Calm Minder, or a Choice Scarf user. This set instantly evokes assumptions that Jirachi is indeed carrying a Choice Scarf. This assumption can prove to be extremely costly for the opponent. Because they assume that Jirachi is locked into whatever move it last used, he or she will switch into Pokémon that resist its current attack.
Ordinarily, all would be well as they switch into you with impunity. But in this case, their supposed counter is OHKOed by one of the other moves Jirachi is running. For example, if an opponent has Tyranitar out against Jirachi, they will switch out into their Swampert to take an innocuous Iron Head. Expecting Jirachi to switch, they opt to leave Swampert in only to be OHKOed by Grass Knot.
This Jirachi relies around scoring super effective hits rather than pure power. Expert Belt is the ideal item because it allows Jirachi to effectively bluff a Choice Scarf while boosting its super effective hits by 20%. While an important factor in choosing this set is its pure shock value, this set is still incredibly useful once the cat is out of the bag. Jirachi's extraordinary movepool gives it impeccable coverage, so it will be able to dish out super effective damage on a plethora of opposing Pokémon.
The EVs are self-explanatory. Maximum Attack and Speed give Jirachi the best chance of sweeping. Its all-around base 100 stats allow it to properly balance bulk with its offensive capabilities. Its ability to take a hit in the process of pulling off a sweep is what sets it apart from other sweepers. Ultimately, this set combines unpredictability with fantastic coverage. It is a great addition to any team that can handle it.
Lucario @ Life Orb
Ability: Inner Focus
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SpA)
- Close Combat
- Ice Punch
Because Swords Dance Lucario has become so bog standard, it is hindered by the volume of counters to it. This set aims to enable Lucario to destroy its would-be counters and hopefully the rest of the opponent's team. When you analyze OU teams, you notice that some of the most popular "counters" are Gliscor and Salamence. Both take advantage of their superior Speed and ability to OHKO Lucario. However, both are also 4x weak to Ice Punch, which is not seen on most Lucario sets. What this set aims to do is outspeed common Lucario counters by utilizing Agility while effectively disposing of the aforementioned Pokemon so Lucario can sweep.
With 110 base Attack and access to Close Combat, Lucario's only drawback is its average 90 base Speed. Agility allows it to overcome this weakness and effectively sweep. Considering most of Lucario's checks and counters deal with it by killing it before it gets a chance to attack, the current set can completely decimate an opponent.
The EVs give Lucario an impressive 350 Attack that when coupled with Life Orb, enables Lucario to wreak havoc on foes. Its Speed sits at a respectable 279 that when boosted by Agility, allows Lucario to outspeed virtually all threats in the OU metagame. By deviating from the accepted standard, Lucario will avoid being bombarded with counters. This set will keep the opponent on their toes as they struggle to recuperate after their "counter" is wiped out.
Sceptile @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP/ 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid nature (+Spe, -Atk)
- Leaf Storm
- Focus Blast
- Hidden Power Fire
- Dragon Pulse
Sceptile is rarely seen in OU. Despite its UU tiering, Sceptile has a host of advantages that make it a reliable OU sweeper. This set aims to take advantage of common defensive holes in teams so that it can obliterate the opponent. For example, a common defensive core of Gliscor + Tyranitar + Vaporeon is ripped apart by this Sceptile set. Its rarity makes it an unexpected threat capable of breaking up defensive cores.
The green gecko's movepool is absolutely tremendous. The current set exemplifies this, because Sceptile is capable of hitting most Pokémon in the game for super effective damage. Leaf Storm is there for high-powered STAB. With 210 Base Power factoring in STAB, it becomes Sceptile's primary means of eliminating opposing Pokémon. Focus Blast allows Sceptile to score super effective hits against Heatran, who walls the rest of the set. With Hidden Power Fire, Sceptile can OHKO Scizor, but has to fear a Choice Banded Bullet Punch. For this reason, Magnezone is recommended as a teammate. Lastly, Dragon Pulse allows Sceptile to nab those pesky Dragons.
The EVs take advantage of Sceptile's amazing base 120 Speed and solid base 105 Special Attack. With a whopping Speed of 371, Sceptile outpaces many of the metagame's most common threats. Its already strong Special Attack is complemented by Life Orb, which increases its power by 30% for a cost of 10% of its base HP every time it attacks. This set is extremely unique and unprecedented, but it is nonetheless extremely viable. Allowing Sceptile to reach its full potential can spell doom for all opponents.
Shaymin @ Leftovers
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 252 HP / 220 Def / 36 Spe
Bold nature (+Def, -Atk)
- Seed Flare
- Hidden Power Fire
- Leech Seed
Shaymin isn't used enough in general, let alone this particular set. This works by utilizing Shaymin's bulk so it can effectively provide team support. With the use of Leed Seed, many of Shaymin's checks are chipped away at while its health (or that of its teammates) is increased. For example, standard Shaymin is an offensive set that is stopped dead in its tracks by Blissey. This set can make Blissey's enormous HP work against it, by providing indispensible HP recovery.
The main use of Protect over the more standard Substitute is its scouting capabilities. In a metagame full of Choice users, being able to scout the opponent's next attack can be extremely important. Furthermore, Substitute comes at an expensive cost of 25% of the user's base HP. After using Leech Seed on an opponent, Protect allows Shaymin to gain both Leftovers and Leech Seed recovery while draining the opponent of 1/8 of their base HP. Seed Flare is there for ideal choice of STAB. With 120 Base Power and a 40% chance to lower the opponent's Special Defense by two stages, it is an excellent move to give to Shaymin. Hidden Power Fire is for coverage, which prevents Scizor and Forretress from being able to switch into this set.
The EVs are there for maximum bulk while allowing Shaymin to outspeed Jolly Tyranitar. Shaymin needs to be able to take the opponent's attacks in order to be an effective team supporter. Ultimately, this set differentiates Shaymin from its usual offensive role by utilizing its support capabilities. Its longevity allows to it to be a threat to the opponent throughout the battle. At the very least, this set can throw an opponent off their game.
A common misconception is that less popular movesets are inherently worse. In reality, they are viable additions to a team that aren't used enough. The most imporant thing for a battler is to have a team that maximizes their chances of winning. While sometimes the standard set is the best option, a less popular set can often prove superior. The best teams tend to be somewhat unique. Utilizing a Pokémon's commonly overlooked resources can ultimately optimize a team's results.
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