RU Spotlight: Venusaur

By EonX. Art by LifeisDANK.
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Venusaur by LifeisDANK


Commonly viewed as the best of the original starter trio, Venusaur has usually been pretty relevant to any metagame it has been a part of. It started in RBY as a faster, albeit weaker, alternative to Victreebel. Thanks to its ability to outspeed Exeggutor and Victreebel and Razor Leaf's insane critical hit ratio, Venusaur had a mid niche in RBY's OU metagame. However, it was easily held back, like many other Poison-types, by the omnipresence of the ruthless Psychic-types that generally were kings of the metagame as well as by the fact that it had very little use over Victreebel and Exeggutor. It only had Speed over both and Razor Leaf over Exeggutor. It finds itself as one of the whopping fifteen BL Pokémon in RBY, which is astonishing considering there's only 151 Pokémon to begin with, and that's counting the pre-evolutions.

With the introduction of Dark- and Steel-type Pokémon to combat the once-dominant Psychic-types, Venusaur would seem to benefit greatly in the GSC metagame. However, this was simply not the case. The nerf to Razor Leaf's high critical hit rate took away a lot of Venusaur's power, and one has to keep in mind that Giga Drain was a pretty bad move in GSC with only 60 Base Power and 5 PP. Venusaur also oddly didn't get access to Sludge Bomb for GSC. Even though this was fixed in the future, the lack of STAB Sludge Bomb really hurt Venusaur, as it couldn't handle most Grass-types offensively. Due to these shortcomings, Venusaur found itself pretty low in the UU tier for GSC.

The advent of ADV fixed Venusaur's movepool by giving it STAB Sludge Bomb, which allowed it to reliably run sets revolving around Leech Seed and Sleep Powder. These sets could also reliably check physical or special threats depending on what the team needed. Venusaur could also take advantage of the advent of abilities by employing Magneton support to remove Skarmory and then find its way in to set up a Swords Dance sweep. Like with many Grass-types, though, Venusaur struggled with the massive presence Celebi had in the ADV metagame. Due to this, Venusaur was one of numerous Pokémon that found themselves in ADV's no man's land of BL.

DPP changed many things for Venusaur. STAB Sludge Bomb was turned special to allow Venusaur to run fully offensive special sets. Similarly, stronger Grass-type moves in Energy Ball, Grass Knot, and Leaf Storm were introduced to take better advantage of Venusaur's higher Special Attack. Power Whip was a very powerful physical Grass-type STAB move that gave Swords Dance sets new life. While the power creep in OU would drop Venusaur to UU, the original Grass starter would go on to become one of the most, if not the most dominating forces to grace and stay in the UU tier. Whether it was running sweeping sets with Swords Dance, wallbreaking sets with Life Orb, surprising opponents with a Choice Scarf, or taking advantage of its good defensive typing and bulk to check dangerous threats, Venusaur was a threat every team had to deal with for a reason. Its versatility and utility would arguably make it the king of DPP UU. It also saw some use in OU as a "go-between" of sorts with Celebi and Roserade. It featured bulk similar to Celebi's with Roserade's typing, which was very handy in both OU and UU to absorb Toxic Spikes for its team.

BW saw Venusaur undergo a major change in how it was played. Referred to by many as the "weather generation," the introduction of permanent rain and sun via Drizzle Politoed and Drought Ninetales gave significant boosts in viability to some Pokémon and crippled others. For Venusaur, it benefited thanks to gaining Chlorophyll as a Dream World ability. Between this, Growth's buff to boosting both attacking stats by two stages under sunlight, Giga Drain getting a 15 point Base Power buff, and BW's sleep mechanics making sleep moves more devastating than ever before, Venusaur shot up to OU as the tier's most prominent Chlorophyll sweeper. If you saw a sun team in BW, odds are it had Venusaur in it as the main sweeper. Venusaur could also run a Sunny Day set to turn the tables on opposing weather teams if you felt your team was weak to them but didn't feel like running your own weather team. While not very common in BW2, Venusaur did have a SubSeed set that was relatively common in late BW1. As a disclaimer, Drought + Chlorophyll are no longer allowed to be used on the same team due to a complex ban that happened after the start of XY, so you can't use Drought Ninetales in conjunction with Chlorophyll Venusaur in any official BW2 OU tours or battles, in large part due to Venusaur itself.

XY brought about Mega Evolution, and Venusaur was fortunate enough to receive one. However, this meant that its base forme would basically cease to exist, as its Mega Evolution was so much better thanks to the buffs it got; although this changed in ORAS near the end of 2015, when Smogon decided to split the usage of normal and Mega formes and tier them separately. As a result of this, Venusaur would make a one-month pit stop in its old DPP stomping grounds of UU before gracing the RU tier with its presence. Almost instantly, Venusaur made its presence felt in the tier by heavily pressuring the common defensive core of Mega Steelix and Alomomola as well as being a very reliable offensive switch-in for most Grass-types in the tier. While it has only been in the tier for two months, it looks as though Venusaur will be a force to deal with in RU for the remainder of ORAS.

Venusaur's qualities

Venusaur has pretty well-rounded stats, with none of them falling below base 80. Base 100 Special Attack may not seem like much with the likes of Mega Camerupt, Hoopa, and Meloetta around, but one must remember that RU is somewhat limited with special walls and many defensive Pokémon in the tier are weak to Grass- and Poison-type moves. Base 80 Speed is very good for a wallbreaker in RU, as that sets Venusaur ahead of Hoopa, Exploud, and Absol. Because of this, Venusaur commonly fares very well against slower teams, and even faster teams can struggle against it, since Venusaur has a decent defensive typing and the natural bulk to stomach a hit or two before going down.

Venusaur is most commonly seen using offensive sets in RU, featuring on offensive-minded teams as a wallbreaker and bulky Water-type switch-in.

Playing with Venusaur

Venusaur will most commonly run a Life Orb wallbreaker set, but there are a couple of others you might see on specific team archetypes that you should be prepared for in case you see them:



This is the most common set you will see on Venusaur. With a simple Synthesis + 3 attacks set, Venusaur can be very challenging to both switch into and take out quickly. Leaf Storm is an absolute nuke, and if your team lacks a Grass-type resistance, you'll be left wishing you had one. Sludge Bomb is much safer to use due to Leaf Storm's Special Attack drops and punishes the Fairy- and Grass-types Venusaur can switch into. Synthesis provides the needed recovery to continue to switch into bulky Water- and Fairy-types throughout a game and helps to offset Life Orb recoil. Sleep Powder is preferred in the last slot in order to keep Venusaur's checks and counters from being able to threaten its team. However, Knock Off is perfectly viable to hinder the likes of Bronzong, Registeel, and Golbat more directly. The EVs simply maximize Special Attack and Speed, while Timid is the primary nature to allow Venusaur to outspeed Adamant Hitmonlee and KO it with Leaf Storm. Modest is viable for more power, but outspeeding Hitmonlee and ensuring opposing non-Choice Scarf Medicham and Hoopa are outsped is usually too good to pass up. As Venusaur doesn't need to be on a sun team to function with this set, Overgrow is the primary ability so it can fire off one last super powerful Leaf Storm before going down.

Growth Sweeper


While sun isn't a very common strategy in RU, you'd be hard pressed not to consider Venusaur for a sweeping role if you go that route. Growth gives Venusaur a +2 Special Attack boost in sun, and combined with the boosted Speed from Chlorophyll, very few Pokémon will be able to stop it after that. Giga Drain is used over Solar Beam due to the HP recovery and the presence of Abomasnow in the tier. Sludge Bomb takes down opposing Grass-types with ease to keep them from slowing down Venusaur. Hidden Power Fire gets boosted by the sun and can cut straight through the likes of Escavalier and Bronzong. The EVs simply maximize Special Attack and Speed, while Life Orb is used for the power boost. Timid is used to keep Venusaur ahead of Victreebel in sunlight so that it can't cut it down with Weather Ball.



This set plays similarly to the wallbreaker set, but it uses Venusaur's bulk more than its power. With the increase in bulk, Venusaur becomes a much more difficult Pokémon to bring down and can stay alive for much longer. Giga Drain provides recovery and deals solid damage to the likes of Alomomola, Rhyperior, and Diancie. Sludge Bomb takes care of the defensive Fairy- and Grass-types Venusaur likes to switch into, and the 30% poison chance can put significant pressure on some of its checks. Synthesis keeps Venusaur in good health and ensures that burns from Scald don't overwhelm it too quickly. Sleep Powder is preferred to incapacitate a potential check or counter for at least a few turns, if not the entire match. Knock Off is a nice alterantive to more directly hinder Pokémon like Registeel, Bronzong, and Golbat. The HP and Defense investment gives Venusaur much more stability against neutral attacks and strong resisted attacks. It should also be noted that due to Black Sludge and Giga Drain, Virizion will have a more difficult time getting the prior damage it needs to remove Venusaur with Zen Headbutt.

An honorable mention should be given to Swords Dance sets. While not outright bad, Swords Dance Venusaur simply faces competition from the likes of Virizion that usually make special sets the better way to go.

Playing against Venusaur

Golbat Registeel

While they may not be the most appealing options to use on an RU team, Golbat and Registeel are generally the most reliable Venusaur answers in the tier. Golbat's 4x Grass resistance and Poison resistance mean it can switch into Venusaur for days, Roost off the damage, and then threaten Venusaur with STAB Brave Bird. Registeel is about the only Steel-type that can continually switch into Venusaur due to its incredible Special Defense stat. As Bronzong is usually used to check physical threats as of this writing and Escavalier is 4x weak to Hidden Power Fire, Registeel is your go-to Steel-type response to Venusaur. While it will rarely be able to do a lot back directly, it can use Thunder Wave to remove Venusaur's good Speed against slower teams, which are the types of teams Registeel should be on. Do note that Venusaur will use Knock Off on rare occasions, so make sure it's not carrying this before switching these Pokémon in, as Golbat can't check as many threats without Eviolite and Registeel's only form of recovery outside of RestTalk is Leftovers.

Outside of these Pokémon, you will generally need to predict the STAB move Venusaur wants to use and switch in the proper Pokémon that resists it. Poison-types are your next best bet. However, make sure that they don't have secondary typings that make them neutral to Grass- or Poison-type moves. Drapion, Garbodor, and Weezing are the best Poison-types to take on Venusaur, but they will all need some Special Defense investment to comfortably switch into Leaf Storms from the Life Orb set. A tank Venusaur of your own can soft check the Life Orb set. Fire- and Flying-types can switch into Grass-type STAB moves, but they can have some issues with STAB Sludge Bomb. Nonetheless, Fletchinder, Delphox, and Substitute + Bulk Up Braviary can switch into Leaf Storm and threaten out Venusaur. Fletchinder and Braviary can use Roost to continually switch into Venusaur's Grass-type STAB moves. If Venusaur opts to use Sleep Powder, it usually won't have Hidden Power Fire, thus making Escavalier and Bronzong much safer options. If you're using a faster team, most of your Pokémon should be able to outspeed Venusaur and either deal heavy damage or outright KO it. Flygon, Sneasel, Mega Glalie, Meloetta, and Choice Scarf Emboar are perfect examples of such Pokémon that can severely damage Venusaur or revenge kill it after it nets a KO.

Fitting Venusaur on a team

Venusaur loves Pokémon that draw in bulky Water- and Grass-type Pokémon, so it stands to reason that Diancie, Alomomola, and Registeel are very useful teammates for it. The wallbreaker set can set the stage for a myriad of offensive Pokémon to clean up the opposing team. Sneasel is extremely notable for its ability to Pursuit trap bothersome Psychic-types that could outspeed and remove Venusaur. Flygon's resistance to Fire-type moves can make it an especially appealing teammate to clean up behind Venusaur. Other offensive options include Fletchinder, Aerodactyl, and Accelgor.

The Growth set obviously wants sun setters to take advantage of Chlorophyll with. Uxie and Liepard are generally viewed as the best weather setters in the tier due to their bulk and Prankster, respectively, but Diancie and Volbeat are alternative options to look into. Powerful Fire-types such as Delphox, Emboar, and Houndoom are also very notable on these types of teams to use powered-up Fire-type STAB moves. Victreebel shares very similar counters to Growth Venusaur, and they can be used together to put significant pressure on their shared checks and counters.

The Tank set is best used on balance teams that need a more reliable switch-in for Grass-, Fighting-, and Water-type Pokémon. Diancie is a very notable partner due to its access to Heal Bell, curing Venusaur of any burns it suffers from inevitably switching into Scald. Mega Camerupt is an extremely potent offensive threat that appreciates having a solid pivot to switch out into for Water-type moves. Bulky Water-types such as Alomomola and Slowking can switch into the Fire- and Ice-type Pokémon Venusaur doesn't like to deal with. Finally, Fletchinder can be a helpful offensive partner, since this Venusaur set can more reliably switch into Rhyperior with the heavy HP and Defense investment.

All sets, especially the Growth sweeper set, dislike Fletchinder due to its 4x Grass-type resistance and Gale Wings STAB Acrobatics to strike down Venusaur. While a well-timed Sludge Bomb can do great damage to Fletchinder, having checks such as Rhyperior, Diancie, and Kabutops is advised so Venusaur can continue to take on bulky Water- and Grass-type Pokémon.

Get out there!

While it might not be new and shiny anymore, Venusaur is a very potent threat that every RU team should be prepared for. It may not be a king like it was in DPP UU, but that doesn't mean you should sleep on it for a second. Venusaur is a premier wallbreaker in the RU tier thanks to its STAB coverage, decent Speed, and solid natural bulk. It's a great addition to almost any team and you should definitely consider it for your next RU team!

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