A Whole New World - A closer look at 1v1 Teams

By Quantum Tesseract.
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Art by Rocket Grunt.

You've just got out of a 700-turn stallfest on the OU ladder, and you don't have another three hours to burn playing. You're still interested in a game, but quite frankly, you don't have the time. Fear not; there's a metagame for you!

A Whole New World - A look into 1v1 Movesets

Before you start a game, however, there's one thing you need to do: get a team. While the banlist will be quite recognizable, there are a few fundamental differences in play, most of which boil down to one key difference: team size. In 1v1, you bring three Pokémon and pick one; if you bring an Ice-type in on that Landorus-T, it can't just hard switch into Toxapex. Similarly, all three-Pokémon cores must be self-contained, with each member covering each other's weaknesses while being able to operate without team support. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the match ends when one of the Pokémon faints; it doesn't matter how weakened your Pokémon is in the process, if your Pyukumuku survives their Dragonite's Devastating Drake with 2% HP to use Counter against it, you've won the game.

1v1 Winners



While Sturdy may not be as good as its banned cousin Focus Sash, it certainly doesn't disappoint in 1v1. Thanks to the nonexistence of entry hazards and prior chip damage, Sturdy can essentially guarantee that its holder survives whatever the foe throws at it at least once unless it's up against Mega Gyarados. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that every Pokémon that gets Sturdy uses it, as it's one of the few reliable counters to fast Z-Move attackers outside of going first. Donphan, Magnezone, and Golem are some of the most popular, but even the likes of Aron and Magneton can gain a small niche due to the sheer power of this option.

Recharge Attacks

Charizard Mega Y

Hyper Beam clones haven't been mainstream in any Singles tier since RBY, but in 1v1, their main downside is practically nonexistent. Since the battle is over as soon as the foe faints, the recharge turn will often not actually be a downside at all, and the added power is often handy for picking up KOs, making it a popular STAB move for offensive Pokémon that get them such as Mega Pinsir, Mega Charizard Y, and Greninja and even a decent coverage option for Choice Specs Magnezone and the like.

PP Stall


When switching is allowed, any PP stalling must be able to punish the foe for doing so, limiting options and effectiveness greatly. In 1v1, nothing of the sort is required, as every turn that a Pokémon is on the field against a PP stall Pokémon, its PP will decrease. This allows incredibly passive defensive boosters such as Mega Slowbro, Ferrothorn, and Deoxys-S to act effectively alongside the more normal sets such as Rest Zygarde-C, and this is so effective that it got Deoxys-D banned despite the nonexistence of its standard hazard set. With the exception of Mega Slowbro, all are still vulnerable to critical hits, but unless the attacking foe can boost itself or hit them super effectively, it isn’t isn't likely to win off just one critical hit. As such, they can set up on a wide variety of Pokémon, essentially without any fear whatsoever, and simply run the foe out of options.

1v1 Losers

Support Pokémon

Skarmory Rotom-Wash Toxapex Chansey

Who cares that Skarmory is an excellent hazard manager if there are no entry hazards to manage? What value does Rotom-W bring as a slow pivot when there's nothing to pivot to? Why pick Toxapex for a serious team if it can't use Regenerator or Toxic Spikes? What's the reason to run Heal Bell Chansey when there aren't any teammates whose status need curing? The answer is, obviously, no one, very little, essentially no reason, and none whatsoever, respectively; as a result, the Pokémon known for these sets tend to greatly struggle in 1v1 and many of them are almost entirely absent. Some of these, such as Chansey, can use their other positive traits to transition to another role, but losing one of your biggest niches is a hard hit to any Pokémon's viability.

Switch Prevention Strategies

Gothitelle Magnezone Dugtrio Mega Gengar

Other than attacking, switching is perhaps the single most important mechanic in Pokémon and has been since Generation 1. Anything that prevented it, such as Shadow Tag, Magnet Pull, and Arena Trap, has been able to propel its user far beyond what its stats or movepool would suggest; Shadow Tag and Arena Trap are banned everywhere other than Ubers, and even Shadow Tag's status there is quite precarious. Forcing a Pokémon to stay in and be removed is so potent that it's extremely difficult to pass up, but in 1v1 that's the default state of affairs. If you predict them using Gyarados and bring Tapu Koko, they just lose. Having Shadow Tag, therefore, is completely redundant and has no more effect than Illuminate. The only OU trapper with any sort of usability in 1v1 is Magnezone, which runs Sturdy; even Mega Gengar is a mediocre Hypnosis user at the best of times.



Despite being A-ranked or higher all generation in OU, Ash-Greninja has 0% usage in 1v1. Unlike the previous mentions, which simply saw their niche undercut or rendered irrelevant, Ash-Greninja is the only Pokémon that is both unbanned and unable to be used. In order to transform, Greninja must KO an opposing Pokémon, and while in Singles this is simply a minor hassle, in 1v1 it's flat-out impossible to do without having already won the game.

All-Around Champions



Z-Moves are Gen 7's attempt to follow up Mega Evolutions, and just like their predecessor, they find themselves as a nigh-universally potent pick, whether via powering up a STAB move into a powerful nuke to blow past a defensive Pokémon or OHKOing a would-be counter with a strong coverage option. While they do improve due to the lack of relevance for the one Z-Move per team limitation, they are somewhat counterbalanced by the similarly increased viability of Choice items, Mega Evolutions, and strategy-specific item choices such as Wide Lens Jumpluff. Z-Move users are some of the biggest threats in 1v1, but Z-Moves fall short of rendering other options irrelevant.

Tapu Koko

Tapu Koko

While in OU it also doubles as a pivot, Tapu Koko's biggest niche has always been as an incredibly strong Electric-type attacker, and in 1v1 it's no different. Generally, even coverage is foregone in favor of support moves to maximize the number of targets that Tapu Koko can annihilate with a STAB Gigavolt Havoc. By and large, checking Tapu Koko requires running something bulky enough to take a Gigavolt Havoc, even under Electric Terrain and potentially a Charge boost, or run an extremely powerful Choice Scarf user, neither of which are particularly common traits. Tapu Koko may no longer threaten Dragon- and Ground-type Pokémon or gain momentum, but its unique combination of power and Speed allows it to handily make up for that.

Mega Evolutions


Despite teams being half as large as their standard counterparts, it's nearly as rare to find one without a Mega Pokémon in 1v1 as it is in Singles. The extra stats and largely excellent abilities provided by Mega Evolution act as a large boost to the viability of almost any Pokémon to the point where many 1v1 teams even run multiple Mega Pokémon on the same team. Some, such as Mega Gyarados, Mega Charizard Y, Mega Metagross, and Mega Charizard X are more popular than others, but even many of those deemed unviable in Singles formats like Mega Garchomp are usable. It's hard to go wrong with Mega Evolutions, and by and large, their only flaw is the inability to equip a Choice-item or Z-Crystal.

A different way to play

Stat Changing Moves


While not overly rare, offensive setup sweeping in 1v1 is a far cry from its role in essentially every other metagame. For much the same reason that Overheat and Hyper Beam improve, normal offensive boosting is decreased; the boosted stats help not one iota against opposing teams after the initial KO, making it often more effective to simply blow away whatever Pokémon you're up against. Outside of Dragon Dance, whose key distribution and ability to boost Speed allow it to largely maintain a solid niche, most offensive boosting is confined to improving a Z-Move to defeat bulky Pokémon, such as Charge on Tapu Koko and Swords Dance on Kartana. However, not all is lost for this strategy. Defensive boosters such as Mega Slowbro and stat reducers such as Charm Chansey take advantage of the fact that Pokémon are locked into a matchup to great effect, but some of the biggest winners are attacks with secondary effects. Rock Tomb and Flame Charge are the primary beneficiaries, but the likes of Bulldoze, Electroweb, and Icy Wind also have a niche. If these Speed-altering moves allow a Pokémon to outpace their foe the next turn, then this can result in effectively free damage and can be very useful for breaking Sturdy, Substitute, and Disguise. Ordinarily, this would be counterbalanced by switching and moveslots, but coverage is much less important for most Pokémon and switching is impossible.



In the current Gen 7 OU metagame, Mimikyu is a somewhat niche revenge killer and blanket check thanks to its ability Disguise, which allows it to survive any one hit. In 1v1, it's used for the exact same reason but with even more success. Thanks to it activating before an attack, Disguise is essentially a strictly superior version of Sturdy and Focus Sash, to the point where if it was widely available, it would be easily banworthy. With Mimikyu as the only option, however, it's just barely manageable and has simply managed to assure Mimikyu a spot high up in the viability rankings. Unlike in OU, however, Mimikyu does not survive on its prowess as an offensive Pokémon and instead fills a more defensive role with Curse, Substitute, and Protect. Thanks to the passive damage from Curse not breaking Disguise, Mimikyu can beat essentially anything that's slower than it, and with its reasonable base 96 Speed stat, that's a significant portion of the metagame. It also has a free moveslot, which lets it choose between taking on frail threats with Let's Snuggle Forever or attempting to use RNG to break past would-be counters with Thunder Wave and Z-Curse.



1v1 has never had a sleep clause for what should be obvious reasons; namely, it would be a completely useless clause. There's just no way to put more than one Pokémon to sleep, so banning that from happening has never come up. However, nearly all sleep inducers have inaccurate moves or are slow, which reduces their win-loss ratio. Not only do you need to predict which Pokémon they'll be bringing, but you also have to get lucky. As such, the usual suspects—Amoongus, Breloom, and Tangrowth— - have vanished entirely, leaving a new set of suspects in their place. At the top is Jumpluff, the most reliable of the various fast sleep inducers. It uses its high speed to launch Wide Lens-boosted Sleep Powders before the foe can attack, and it then uses the free turns to hopefully set a up a Substitute and Leech Seed. From there, it uses a combination of Substitute and Protect to survive, ideally without taking a hit at all, while the foe is worn down by Leech Seed. It can still miss or get unlucky with sleep turns, but if the foe lacks counterplay, it can be lights out from turn one. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Snorlax, a slow and bulky Pokémon that uses Yawn + Protect to safely put the foe to sleep and then boost its Attack with Z-Belly Drum while they sleep in order to blow them away. Z-Belly Drum heals Snorlax, so even if it is hit by a powerful Z-Move on the first turn it's fine, unless it gets OHKOed. Despite Yawn's perfect accuracy, however, Snorlax is in many ways less reliable than Jumpluff. Sure, it lacks Jumpluff's crippling weakness to Choice Scarf users and fast attackers, but it experiences its own issues with strong bulky attackers and Sturdy Pokémon. Thanks to its lack of a safety blanket such as Substitute, Snorlax is quite vulnerable to one-turn awakenings against any Pokémon that it can't OHKO with an unboosted Z-Move and can take it down from half health, which prevents it from being completely overwhelming.


Get out there! 1v1 has an active ladder in case you just want to play a few games or mess around. It doesn't need to be any more serious than you want it to be, but if you're looking for a competitive challenge, there's also a higher level of play present in 1v1 tours and even just challenge matches versus good players from the room. Best of all, teambuilding and games are extremely quick, so trying out your new idea won't take more than a few minutes!

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