OU Spotlight: Mega Sableye

By NotFalse. Art by Rocket Grunt.
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Mega Sableye art


First released in Generation III, Sableye was an intriguing prospect. Its completely unique Dark / Ghost typing granted it three immunities and no weakness. However, having good typing does not make a good Pokémon. Subpar 50 / 75 / 65 bulk meant that Sableye struggled to take even neutral attacks. A relatively unimpressive movepool and a completely useless ability in Keen Eye didn't help Sableye's case either. Sableye did not make the cut for UU in ADV.

Things improved marginally for Sableye in DPP. Will-O-Wisp was added to its movepool, and Sableye still boasted reliable recovery; however, the newly released Spiritomb outclassed Sableye in just about every facet. Spiritomb sported greater offensive and defensive stats and had a vaster movepool. The only thing differentiating Spiritomb and Sableye was that Spiritomb lacked that same reliable recovery that Sableye had. However, this alone was not enough, and so Sableye remained, for the most part, unused.

Sableye was given new life when its hidden ability was released in Generation V. Prankster, a brand new ability, gave +1 priority to non-attacking moves. This fit perfectly with Sableye, as its movepool is littered with useful status moves such as Will-O-Wisp, Taunt, Recover, and Toxic. Will-O-Wisp, Recover, and Taunt were the usual three choices. Prankster Will-O-Wisp and Recover allowed Sableye to have an easier time handling physical attackers. Prankster Taunt stopped offensive Pokémon from being able to set up and more passive Pokémon from recovering or using their own status moves.

XY was more of the same for Sableye; buffs to Knock Off's Base Power and Will-O-Wisp's accuracy just about offset Sableye's newfound weakness to Fairy-types. Sableye was still only UU by tiering, but it was a highly viable UU Pokémon, and even a niche OU Pokémon too.

The big change for Sableye came in ORAS. Just as its partner Mawile had been in XY, Sableye was granted a Mega Evolution, which was established as an OU-viable Pokémon. However, the reception was not as expected. Many were so excited by the likes of Mega Salamence and Mega Metagross that Mega Sableye managed to fall somewhat by the wayside. Mega Sableye might have the lowest base stat total of any Mega-Evolved Pokémon, but that isn't stopping it from being one of the best Pokémon in the ORAS metagame. Mega Sableye is currently one of only four S-ranked Pokémon in ORAS OU.

Mega Sableye has even endured being suspect tested. The suspect test of Sablenite fell just short of the 60% pro-ban majority with a 53.5% ban percentage, thus allowing Mega Sableye to remain in OU.

Mega Sableye's Qualities

First and foremost, Mega Sableye is best known for its ability to shut down many common Stealth Rock and Spikes users, such as Hippowdon, defensive Landorus-T, Ferrothorn, and Skarmory. Mega Sableye is also a highly effective spinblocker. These two traits combined make Mega Sableye the most influential Pokémon when speaking about entry hazards.

Sableye and Mega Sableye possess two of the best abilities the game has to offer. Prankster grants status moves such as Recover, Will-O-Wisp, Toxic, and even Calm Mind +1 priority. Occasionally, Sableye will choose not to Mega Evolve when facing more offensive teams in order to fully capitalize on Prankster Will-O-Wisp and Recover. Magic Bounce is no less useful, however, granting Mega Sableye the ability to bounce back status moves, Taunt, or even entry hazards.

Mega Sableye receives a massive increase in bulk upon Mega Evolving. +50 to both base Defense and Special Defense makes Mega Sableye incredibly bulky, and with three immunities and only one weakness, as well as access to Will-O-Wisp, Calm Mind, and other utility options, Mega Sableye can be surprisingly difficult to take down. Mega Sableye also receives a marginal boost in both attacking stats at the cost of some Speed.

Good bulk, defensive typing, and reliable recovery make Mega Sableye one of the few Pokémon that is actually still an effective spinblocker in ORAS OU. Pokémon such as Gengar and Jellicent have been less effective spinblockers as of late due to common spinners such as Starmie and Excadrill both possessing ways to beat them.

Mega Sableye is by far the bulkiest Pokémon with access to Magic Bounce, and unlike other Magic Bouncers such as Mega Diancie, Mega Absol, and Espeon, Mega Sableye can actually switch into many common Stealth Rock users such as Hippowdon, Landorus-T, Ferrothorn, Garchomp, and Tyranitar to deter entry hazards.

Mega Sableye's aforementioned ability to not only deny entry hazards but also effectively spinblock makes it an unparalleled threat in the hazard game. Many teams that employ Spikes-stacking as a strategy are forced to rethink their game plan purely because of Mega Sableye's presence.

Playing with Mega Sableye

As the ORAS OU metagame has continued to develop, the prevalence of Mega Sableye has only continued to increase. Utility Mega Sableye has been used to great effect in some of the most noteworthy and metagame-defining teams in ORAS OU. Teams such as Branflakes325's Wonder Trio and Honus's Mega Sableye Semi-Stall utilize this variant, as do many other notable teams from the ORAS OU Team Showcase.

This variant of Mega Sableye fits best on entry hazard-stacking balance and semistall teams, as its ability to spinblock and prevent opposing hazards gives it an unparalleled ability to control the hazard game.

Knock Off is used to remove the items of many common switch-ins to Mega Sableye, such as Heatran, Clefable, Talonflame, and Togekiss. Foul Play is a fine alternative, deterring setup sweepers such as Swords Dance Gliscor, Dragon Dance Mega Charizard X, and Swords Dance Talonflame. Fake Out is also common on this variant. Fake Out allows Sableye to safely Mega Evolve against otherwise potentially unsafe matchups such as Mega Gardevoir, Keldeo, Charizard, Azumarill, Mega Altaria, Mega Lopunny, and Manaphy. Immediate Mega Evolution is useful because it allows Mega Sableye to immediately switch in and Magic Bounce hazards from turn two. This can guarantee the opponent will not be able to get up Stealth Rock in some matchups, which is very useful. Will-O-Wisp is an obvious choice and is used on all Mega Sableye. Not only does it cut the opposing Pokémon's Attack in half, allowing Mega Sableye to far better handle physical attackers, but it also wears down Pokémon turn by turn. Toxic is another viable option alongside Will-O-Wisp. Toxic is usually used to hit the Fire-types that Will-O-Wisp cannot, helping wear down Pokémon such as Volcarona, Bulk Up Talonflame, Mega Charizard X, and even Mega Charizard Y. Toxic also wears down bulkier Pokémon much faster, and it can be useful if Will-O-Wisp's Attack drop wouldn't be relevant. Recover is used on all Sableye variants and is key in keeping Mega Sableye healthy so that it can perform its role as a spinblocker and hazard deterrent.

The Special Defense investment allows Mega Sableye to effectively counter Gengar, taking less than 50% from any move. This is fantastic because many balance, semistall, and stall teams can struggle with Gengar. The remaining EVs are placed in Defense. This allows Mega Sableye to best take on Pokémon such as Bisharp, Weavile, Hippowdon, and Landorus-T. The 4 EVs in Speed allow Mega Sableye to outspeed 0 Speed base 20s, namely Ferrothorn.

If this article had been written a few months ago, this would be the featured set. Calm Mind Mega Sableye was by far the most popular set in the early stages of ORAS; however, as the metagame has progressed, Calm Mind Mega Sableye has fallen out of fashion. However, Calm Mind Mega Sableye is not inferior to the utility set in all team settings. There are some teams, specifically stall teams, that greatly prefer Calm Mind Mega Sableye.

Calm Mind Mega Sableye is the perfect stall Pokémon. Mega Sableye is almost the unanimous choice for the Mega Pokémon on stall purely because of the variety of roles it can perform. In addition to performing as a spinblocker, entry hazard deterrent, and status deterrent, Calm Mind Mega Sableye can also act as a wincon.

Considering stall's usual vulnerability to entry hazards and status ailments, Mega Sableye's ability to bounce back status and hazards via Magic Bounce makes it already a compelling choice for bulkier teams.

The choice between Dark Pulse and Shadow Ball is purely preferential. Shadow Ball provides better neutral coverage, as only Dark resists Ghost. However, Shadow Ball is unable to damage Normal-types such as Chansey, Mega Lopunny, Diggersby, and Mega Pidgeot. Lastly, Shadow Ball also has the potential to drop the foe's Special Defense, which can be good when Mega Sableye is trying to combat a Talonflame or an opposing Mega Sableye. Dark Pulse will allow Mega Sableye to hit Normal-types at the cost of some coverage; three types resist Dark and are hit much harder by Ghost.

Maximum Defense and HP investment allows Mega Sableye to be as physically bulky as possible. The extra physical bulk allows Mega Sableye to better handle some physically offensive Stealth Rock users. Extra initial special bulk isn't as necessary because Mega Sableye has Calm Mind to bolster its Special Defense. Recover obviously keeps Mega Sableye healthy, and Will-O-Wisp provides a buffer against physical attackers and provides chip damage.

Playing against Mega Sableye

Fairy-types, such as Clefable, Mega Gardevoir, Mega Diancie, Sylveon, and Mega Altaria, easily deal with Mega Sableye. Not only do most Fairies pack STAB super effective moves to hit Mega Sableye, but they also resist most of Mega Sableye's attacks, such as Knock Off, Dark Pulse, and Foul Play.

Fire-types take a different route. Immunity to Will-O-Wisp means that Fire-types cannot be neutered. Add that to the fact that most OU Fire-types either are very powerful or have access to setup moves such as Swords Dance and Nasty Plot, and you can see why Fire-types can easily dispatch Mega Sableye.

Powerful wallbreakers are similar. Pokémon such as Earth Plate Landorus-T, Choice Band Dragonite, Life Orb Excadrill, Hoopa-U, and Keldeo can all threaten to 2HKO Mega Sableye.

Pokémon that can avoid being burned such as Poison Heal Gliscor, Poison Heal Breloom, Substitute Gyarados, Lum Berry Garchomp, and Lum Berry Bisharp can all set up on Mega Sableye without risking being neutered by burns and are therefore are sturdy answers to Mega Sableye.

Keeping up pressure, especially in the form of passive damage, is another option, especially for teams that do not pack a dedicated response to Mega Sableye. Susceptibility to every form of entry hazard, every form of weather, and Scald along with a lack of passive recovery can really hurt Mega Sableye's longevity. Some teams without a dedicated answer to Mega Sableye must focus on pressuring it through passive damage and Scald burns in order to defeat it.

Lastly, Mega Sableye is not a universal answer to all entry hazard setters. Pokémon such as Clefable, Mold Breaker Excadrill, and Heatran will almost always be able to get Stealth Rock up against Mega Sableye, and some more offensively oriented Pokémon such as Earth Plate Landorus, Life Orb Mamoswine, and offensive Garchomp will threaten to 2HKO Mega Sableye. In this situation, the Mega Sableye user will often concede Stealth Rock, not wanting to take the risk.

Fitting Mega Sableye on a team

The ability to deter entry hazards and also act as an effective spinblocker makes Mega Sableye a fantastic choice for many hazard-stacking balance builds. Pokémon such as Klefki, Ferrothorn, and Skarmory are effective Spikes setters, and they can also deal with powerful Dragon- and Fairy-types, which Mega Sableye dislikes. Fire-type Pokémon such as Talonflame and Volcarona also pair well with Mega Sableye. Talonflame appreciates Mega Sableye's abilities to bounce back Stealth Rock and to Knock Off or burn troublesome Pokémon such as Landorus-T, Heatran, and Garchomp. In return, Talonflame deals with some Pokémon Mega Sableye cannot handle, such as Mega Charizard Y, Volcarona, and Clefable. Volcarona appreciates Mega Sableye's support for many of the same reasons. Volcarona can also deal well with Fairies, and it appreciates Mega Sableye's ability to Knock Off Pokémon such as Heatran, Chansey, and Talonflame. Obviously, Mega Sableye's ability to deter Stealth Rock is also helpful for Volcarona. Some other Pokémon that appreciate Mega Sableye's presence are Kyurem-B and Victini.

Get out there!

While Mega Sableye might not appear the most physically imposing of the variety of Mega Pokémon available in the OU tier, it stands true as one of the most metagame defining. The shortest Mega-Evolved Pokémon sure impacts the game more than its middling base stat total would imply!

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