OU Suspect Coverage (Mega Sableye and Shadow Tag)

By Celticpride. Art by Rocket Grunt.
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Gothitelle by Rocket Grunt


Over the past few months, most of you have probably heard about the term "Gothstall" somewhere, be it on the forums or in a PS chatroom. "Gothstall" was a type of defensive team that had taken the ladder by storm and shown great effectiveness in the OU metagame. OU had grown more and more offensive over the course of the generation, so a defensively oriented team dominating the ladder surely would be considered unusual. Yet there we were. Both of what are considered to be the main components of the team were put on trial, waiting to hear if they would be banned to Ubers (or, in Gothitelle's case, neutered through its ability getting banned to Ubers).

Before we begin, let's take a quick look at the team that made this a pressing issue. The team in question has some variation but almost always followed a similar makeup of Mega Sableye / Gothitelle / Chansey / Skarmory / Quagsire / Amoonguss. Mega Sableye is the linchpin, as its control over the hazard game enables its teammates to stay healthy and prevents them from being worn down throughout the match. Gothitelle, on the other hand, shuts down some very threatening stallbreakers, such as Clefable and Manaphy, in addition to acting as a general nuisance through use of Trick and Thunder Wave.

Shadow Tag

Next, a little background on Shadow Tag. Throughout the generations, Shadow Tag has been a sticking point in multiple different tiers. ADV OU and DPP OU both banned Wobbuffet and Wynaut to Ubers, due to their ability to trap being considered too strong for those generations, especially with the lack of Team Preview. In the current generation, Shadow Tag has been under fire in multiple other tiers. UnderUsed banned Shadow Tag early in XY, and as a result it is also banned in every tier beneath that. Ubers held a suspect test of Mega Gengar (an abuser of Shadow Tag that was quickbanned from OU near the start of XY) and later a suspect of the ability Shadow Tag as a whole. Not without controversy, both Ubers tests resulted in "No Ban" decisions. Most recently, Little Cup suspected two trappers of their own tier, Diglett and Gothita. That suspect test also resulted in "No Ban" decisions for both suspects.

So let us start by looking at the arguments against Shadow Tag getting banned. One of the most prominent, is that Shadow Tag is arguably not banned on every Pokemon that receives it. Primarily, Gothitelle seems to be the only problem. Why ban an entire ability when it seems to have only one primary offender? Another argument is that Gothitelle was not really a problem in XY. If Gothitelle had not been a problem before ORAS introduced new Mega Evolutions, then why would it be the biggest problem now? The answer is most likely that Mega Sableye pushed the direction of stallbreakers in such a way that more "Gothitelle-weak" stallbreakers, such as Manaphy, started rising in usage.

Additionally, Gothitelle is very limited in the teams it can be used on, and its usage almost exclusively comes on Mega Sableye stall teams. Gothitelle notably has a tendency to be matchup based and is dead weight in its fair share of matches. Gothitelle also is somewhat crunched for moveslots, and a lot of its effectiveness comes down to the moves used outside of Psychic and Trick. It is also restricted in itemslot, as it almost always runs a Choice Scarf. Furthermore, some of Gothitelle's threatening nature could be dispelled by aggressive play, especially with a Pursuit user such as Tyranitar.

There is of course an argument for Shadow Tag getting banned. Shadow Tag takes away a fundamental aspect of that game, that aspect being switching. Some people believe that taking away what is considered a fundamental aspect of the game should not be allowed in any form. These people also commonly called for a Shadow Tag suspect throughout XY and up to ORAS based on Shadow Tag's "uncompetitive" nature. The Gothitelle family also possesses the unique combination of Shadow Tag and Trick + Choice Scarf, which can lock a check into a boosting move without fail. Several common stallbreakers, such as Manaphy and Clefable, rely on boosting moves to break through bulkier teams, and TrickScarf Gothitelle is a huge deterrent to those stallbreakers setting up. In addition, stallbreakers that rely on recovery moves to sustain their breaking, such as Gliscor and Talonflame, are crippled by the combination of Trick and Choice Scarf. In fact, Gothitelle can even stallbreak opposing defensive teams itself too, as most defensive Pokemon, such as Chansey and Skarmory, get crippled by TrickScarf. Gothitelle also can force teams to run odd items such as Shed Shell specifically to avoid getting trapped. However, such items are useless in virtually every other matchup.

Wobbuffet is another notable user of Shadow Tag in OU, although its effectiveness is more limited. It is more or less a glue used by offensive teams to trap and eliminate certain threats such as Mega Lopunny. While Wobbuffet has played almost no role in Shadow Tag reaching the level of concern a suspect usually draws, it is still important to note that Shadow Tag has uses in OU outside of the typical Gothitelle set.

Mega Sableye

To start, what does Mega Sableye offer a team that makes it so effective? The combination of Magic Bounce, outstanding bulk, a defensive typing that leaves it with only one weakness, and reliable recovery makes Mega Sableye a great pivot. Capable of bouncing back Stealth Rock, Spikes, Taunt, and Toxic, Mega Sableye messes with several traditional methods of breaking down defensive cores.

Again, let's start with the argument against a ban. Mega Sableye may only have one weakness, but that does not leave it without its fair share of checks and counters. Fairies such as Mega Altaria, Mega Diancie, Clefable, Azumarill, and Mega Gardevoir are all capable of hitting it hard with their STAB moves. Fire-types, due to their ability to ignore burns, also make for effective Mega Sableye checks, with Pokemon such as Mega Charizard Y and Talonflame being prime examples. Other assorted stallbreakers, including Gliscor, Keldeo, Mega Gyarados, and Manaphy, can effectively beat Mega Sableye. Some Stealth Rock users can also adapt to Mega Sableye's presence, such as Mold Breaker Excadrill. In addition, Mega Sableye's bulk and typing make it a key defensive check to several threats, including Mega Medicham and Mega Gallade. That arguably adds overall balance to the larger metagame picture.

Now we move on to the argument for banning Mega Sableye. OverUsed is a hazard-based metagame and getting up Stealth Rock and possibly Spikes is important in wearing down defensive cores. Mega Sableye, due to its bulk and typing, outright walls most of OU's hazard setters. This makes it more difficult not only to beat Mega Sableye but also to wear down common teammates of Mega Sableye such as Skarmory and Chansey. The extra 12% damage can often be the difference between a clean 2HKO on Chansey and a 3HKO. Mega Sableye also offers additional control to the hazard game as the bulkiest spinblocker available. This makes it all the more difficult for balance teams to use bulky spinners such as Tentacruel and Starmie. This is also not to mention that Mega Sableye has all but invalidated Taunt-based stallbreakers, which rely on Taunt to cut off sources of recovery. Outside of Magic Bounce, Sableye's access to Prankster Will-O-Wisp before Mega Evolving can threaten a host of different OU threats, and many of the Fairies that can threaten Mega Sableye, such as Azumarill, do not appreciate a burn. While Mega Sableye has well-defined checks, it puts a restriction on a large portion of the metagame and also strains teambuilding.


In the end, Shadow Tag was banned and Sablenite was not banned. Shadow Tag received a ban by a very wide margin of 89%. Sablenite, on the other hand, crossed the 50% marker but fell short of the required 60% supermajority to ban a suspect. Overall, the result achieves the required effect of breaking up the so-called "Gothstall" team and hopefully moved ORAS closer to a healthy metagame in the long term.

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