USM OverUsed through SPL

By Teclis.
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LifeisDANK's Clefable + Reuniclus

Art by LifeisDANK.


Tournaments have always marked the evolution of Smogon's metagames, and Smogon Premier League is no exception. With the rulesets rarely changing, it is all up to the players to explore the limits of their tiers and find new trends. While playing on the ladder requires a good understanding of the current metagame and a precise knowledge of how to play around the threats with your teams, competing in high-level tournaments means focusing on being prepared for your opponent. Being prepared means finding ways to have the upper hand against a certain portion or even all of the current metagame, and that's how tournaments players are, more than everyone else, forced to evolve to win.

This article will focus on what the ninth edition of Smogon Premier League has shown us about the OverUsed metagame. The first part will be about the teams used; while the Logs & Replays thread has gathered all those high-level matches, we will only focus on samples from each archetype in order to have an idea of what is at the peak of OverUsed right now. But teams would not be anything special without players to use them, so the second part will showcase some of the most interesting matches of the tournament. Finally, and since Smogon Premier League has seen quite a few unusual Pokémon/sets being used, Reuniclus shows how a former OverUsed Pokémon can come back to the top of the scene.

The teams

Mega Medicham Latias Landorus-T Ash-Greninja Kartana Magearna (Used in John vs. Gondra, Week 1)

Both classic and effective, the offense John used for SPL Week 1 is a perfect example of how aggressive one can be in the seventh generation. Ever since ORAS, Mega Medicham paired with VoltTurn has been something extremely hard to deal with because of the Psychic-type Pokémon's decent Speed tier and ridiculously high sheer power. Landorus-T is not the most used Pokémon in OverUsed for no reason, and the great utility given by its ability to set up Stealth Rock and gain momentum makes it as effective as ever, especially with Medicham right behind. The second part of the VoltTurn core is also an OverUsed top dog and probably one of the most annoying Pokémon to face for special attackers, Assault Vest Magearna. The ability to not only stomach special hits with ease but also answer with great coverage as well as access to Volt Switch is a godsend for offensive teams, and John's squad uses it to its full extent. Since the team forces many switches, entry hazards can do good work and put opposing Pokémon in OHKO or 2HKO range for the sweepers, and that's part of why Ash-Greninja is the fourth member on the team. Not only does it have Spikes to pressure the opponent even more if needed, it is also a great wallbreaker able to fire of Choice Specs-boosted Hydro Pumps or Dark Pulses for free thanks to the VoltTurn support. As for the last two Pokémon, Choice Scarf Latias can help keep faster foes in check as well as provide Healing Wish to bring back a weakened Pokémon to full health to finish the game, while Fightinium Z Kartana can act as a Defogger if needed but will mainly act as a setup sweeper able to wear down the opponent's physical walls and allow Medicham to sweep—if not the other way around. This squad got a place in the Sample Teams, so don't hesitate to try it out if you want to!

Tangrowth Heatran Landorus-T Greninja Hawlucha Tapu Koko (Used in Lednah vs. John, Week 4)

A bit less offensive than the former team, John's bulky offense showcases a classic pattern of a defensive backbone used to facilitate a late-game sweep by an offensive core in Hawlucha + Tapu Koko. The Fire / Water / Grass core formed by Greninja, Tangrowth, and Heatran gives the team two solid pivots able to take hits as well as access to both Stealth Rock and Spikes. And the opponent won't get rid of those entry hazards that easily, since not only is Heatran able to 1v1 the most common Defoggers and spinners, but Greninja also uses Waterium Z in order to deliver one heavy hit against the likes of Mega Sableye, Zapdos, and Mew and prevent them from doing their job properly. Hidden Power Fire and Gunk Shot also cripple the remaining forms of opposing hazard control such as Ferrothorn and Tapu Fini as well as common switch-ins to an unchecked Greninja such as Assault Vest Tapu Bulu. Landorus-T acts as the team's Scarfer and momentum generator as well as the Defogger if needed, while Choice Specs Tapu Koko paired with Hawlucha is as annoying as ever for the offensive teams this squad is designed to face. Caution, though, as the lack of a proper wallbreaker means this team will struggle against the most defensive teams; however, it definitely is an offense killer.

Zapdos Landorus-T Greninja Zygarde Tapu Bulu Magearna (Used in TDK vs. Blackoblivion, Week 9)

Another form of bulky offense is the team used by the former OverUsed Tier Leader TDK in his game against Blackoblivion. Unlike the other two offenses, it aims at slowly chipping down the opponent's team in order to put one of its sweepers in a position where it can clean the remaining Pokémon. Zapdos is probably the best Defogger an offensive team can use thanks to its decent bulk, good Speed tier, and access to a recovery move as well as ability to theoretically PP stall the opponent's hazards with Pressure. Though TDK did not reveal much of his team, it is safe to assume that both Choice Scarf Landorus-T and Greninja carry hazards if needed, though they will rather serve to keep faster foes in check and as solid utility Pokémon capable of sweeping by themselves when the team's wallbreakers have done their job. Speaking of which, the Tapu Bulu + Zygarde core is able to dismantle pretty much all the defensive backbones bar the most stallish ones, with Zygarde being able to spam Thousand Arrows to support a Tapu Bulu setup. The Grass type Pokémon is using a rare SubSD set with Fightinium Z to break through its common switch-ins such as Zapdos and Mega Scizor or at least weaken them so they're not a threat to the rest of the team anymore. Last but not least is the rare Explosion Assault Vest Magearna, which not only gives the team a solid Steel-type pivot but also uses its decent base 95 Attack to surprise Pokémon such as Chansey and Mega Venusaur.

Pelipper Mega Swampert Ash-Greninja Ferrothorn Tapu Lele Hawlucha (Used in azogue vs. Snou, Week 2)

Rain teams have always been a decent type of team to use during the seventh generation, but the ones used in this SPL definitely show how they evolved since the well-known team built by njnp. Pelipper is still the rain inducer of choice, mainly because of its access to a reliable recovery move in Roost and its ability to generate momentum—which is super important because rain turns are limited—with U-turn. The same goes for Ferrothorn; Steel-types have always been important because of the threat posed by Dragon- or Fairy-type Pokémon, and Ferrothorn gives some defensive utility to the rain while enjoying its alleviated Fire weakness. Since rain teams force many switches, Ferrothorn's hazards are crucial to slowly wear down the opposing checks and counters such as Tangrowth, Tapu Bulu, and the like. The main differences start with Greninja being used as a rain sweeper and special attacker over Kingdra. Whereas the frog is not as fast as the Dragon under rain, it still has a good Special Attack and decent coverage moves. Hawlucha is kept to dismantle offense but is paired with Tapu Lele instead. The Psychic-type Tapu is running a Fightinium Z set to ease the matchup against common cores that threaten rain, especially Toxapex + Ferrothorn, a true asset for an archetype that usually struggles against these sorts of balance teams.

Clefable Celesteela Ash-Greninja Landorus-T Mega Venusaur Zygarde (Used in BKC vs. z0mOG, Semi-finals)

The team used by BKC for the semi-finals tiebreak is the last version to date of a well-known bulky offense archetype. The Celesteela / Venusaur / Clefable core is a pain to deal with for the classic offensive teams, since those three 'mons have great defensive synergy. One very interesting point is the use of Wish on Magic Guard Clefable; though Venusaur and Celesteela are decently bulky and have access to, respectively, a direct healing move (Synthesis) and a passive one (Leech Seed), they may lack PP or need immediate recovery. Thus, Clefable being able to pass them Wishes can be useful in both the short and long term. Zygarde is also using an uncommon set with Weakness Policy; since Landorus-T is at the very top of the OverUsed usage rankings, being able to use its Hidden Power Ice for your own benefits can be deciding, as shown in the game itself. The last two Pokémon are Choice Scarf Landorus-T, which is as good as ever at providing a team with both a pivot and a way to keep faster foes in check (and it can even get health back thanks to Clefable's Wish), and Choice Specs Greninja as a good special wallbreaker able to set up Spikes if needed.

Landorus-T Ferrothorn Reuniclus Latias Clefable Heatran (Used in Cdumas vs. Eo Ut Mortas, Week 5)

Midway between balanced and semi-stall is the team used by Cdumas against Eo Ut Mortus. As he says in his interview, its strategy revolves around hazard stacking to support the Magic Guard core formed by Reuniclus and Clefable. Mega Latias is immune to both Spikes and Toxic Spikes and is very good at using its perfect coverage to cripple offensive teams. Heatran is used to break the most passive teams, with Protect being able to help it to gain Leftovers recovery and to scout Choice-locked Pokémon's moves. Ferrothorn is used to set up Spikes and provides great defensive utility, while Choice Scarf Landorus-T helps the team keep faster foes in check and is decently bulky. This team is very good against offense especially and can PP stall most of the other balance teams or even autowin with Reuniclus, but it will struggle against well-played hard stall and probably force a tie if both players keep switching forever.

Mega Sableye Jirachi Chansey Tangrowth Zapdos Quagsire (Used in BHARATH_THEBEST vs. Cdumas, Week 9)

Speaking of stall, we saw a couple of those teams in the tournament. The first one is a classic Mega Sableye hard stall built by BHARATH_THEBEST to face Cdumas during Week 9. All the Pokémon's roles are quite straightforward, with the Ghost Mega Evolution paired with Zapdos being able to prevent any hazards from being set up on the stall player's field, either bouncing them out or Defogging them away. Chansey is the classic wall and glue for stalls, but Jirachi is used as a Steel-type over Skarmory, exchanging the ability to set up Spikes for providing the best Fairy-type counter (mainly against Tapu Lele) a stall team may find. Assault Vest Tangrowth is another good pivot in general thanks to its ability to stomach many hits and recover the lost HP with Regenerator. It is also the team's main switch-in to Zygarde and can help against Tapu Bulu with Sludge Bomb. Last but not least, Quagsire is the Unaware user, able to switch in on non-Grass Knot Tapu Koko safely as well as Mega Charizard X, both of which are a pain for stall to deal with.

Gliscor Weavile Chansey Zapdos Clefable Mega Venusaur (Used in Lednah vs. Leftiez, Week 5)

Another form of stall is the one used by Leftiez for his first SPL game against Lednah. It uses the Gliscor + Zapdos core as a form of hazard control able to PP stall all the opposing setters. Gliscor is also able to switch on most Heatran variants, unlike Skarmory, and is a good status absorber also able to Knock Off the opposing Pokemon's items. Mega Venusaur provides good defensive utility and is able to check Magearna, Kartana, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Mega Mawile, and Mega Diancie with ease, being helped by Unaware Clefable's Wish Support. The last member of the team is Weavile, whose first appearance on stall teams was on ABR's one back in ORAS. It has gone down in utility ever since but fits perfectly into this team, being able to revenge kill or trap otherwise dangerous Pokémon such as Tapu Lele, Swords Dance Landorus-T, Mega Medicham, etc. This form of stall does not rely as much on winning by setting up hazards but rather on slowly taking down the opponent's team through PP stalling and chipping down Pokémon unable to heal themselves. It may make the games very long, but it is very effective against (bulky) offenses, which are often autowins if you play well enough a couple of turns—especially with Weavile.

Ultra Matches

PoekPoek vs. FlamingVictini FlamingVictini (Week 1)

High-level confrontations happen right from the start in all the Smogon Premier League editions, and this match put newgen top player FlamingVictini against the third Official Ladder Tournament and Smogon Snake Draft winner Poek. The East player used an offensive team with the rarely seen Gengar, two Ground-types in Landorus-T and Zygarde, the first forming a pivot core with Magearna, a Gyarados, and a Kartana. Poek used a standard bulky offense with a Fire / Water / Grass core, Mega Scizor, Landorus-T, and what was probably a Choice Band Tyranitar as a supporter. We saw a mirror lead matchup with both Landorus-T being sent out and Poek taking advantage of it by directly U-turning to his Greninja, which endured the Hidden Power Ice quite well. This forced FlamingVictini to let Poek set one layer of Spikes and Stealth Rock against only Stealth Rock from his side. However, he was able to heavily weaken Poek's Ferrothorn by dodging a Leech Seed (and avoiding paralysis from Thunder Wave on his Kartana).

Poek made a risky play Turn 11 by directly clicking his Heatran's Tectonic Rage on the opposing Magearna, predicting either a slow Volt Switch or a switch into Zygarde. However FlamingVictini went for the safe Gyarados play, and not only had Poek wasted his Z-Move, FlamingVictini got an opportunity to set up with the Water-type dragon. This forced Poek to sack Ferrothorn, Mega Scizor, and Tyranitar before being able to put Gyarados in Water Shuriken's range. However, FlamingVictini just sent in his Magearna and took momentum back. Even the Hidden Power Ice used by Poek's Heatran was not enough to prevent Zygarde from setting up a few turns later, and the health it regained thanks to the Aguav Berry even allowed it to endure another Hidden Power Ice from Choice Scarf Landorus-T afterwards. When Greninja came to revenge kill it, FlamingVictini once more prevented it from getting a KO by sacking his Gyarados to Stealth Rock. However, when his Kartana came in, Poek got no fewer than five Water Shuriken hits including one critical hit, which KOed the Grass-type Pokémon and transformed Greninja into the Ash forme. At that point, and with FlamingVictini's Pokémon having little to no health left, Poek could have swept with Dark Pulse after Heatran's death... if only the Dark move weren't disabled by Gengar's Cursed Body. With no clickable move left, Greninja Struggled and fainted, leaving FlamingVictini the victory in this match full of twists.

CdumasCdumas vs. Sabella Sabella (Week 4)

One of the Week 4 highlights in OverUsed was the match pitting the Official Ladder Tournament finalist Sabella and the French rising star, Cdumas, who had, at the beginning of SPL a combined record of 14-2 in team tournaments, against each other. Cdumas brought some solid bulky offense with Heatran, Ferrothorn, Clefable, Zapdos, probably a Choice Scarf Landorus-T, and a Zygarde, which could be either Choice Band or Dragon Dance. On the other hand, Sabella went for a more offensive team with Tapu Koko, Hawlucha, Landorus-T, Ferrothorn, Greninja, and most likely a Mega Charizard X. He immediately sent out Charizard as his lead against Cdumas's Clefable and clicked Flare Blitz Turn 1, only to get paralyzed by a physically defensive Zapdos's Static. This was extremely annoying for Sabella, because Cdumas had little counterplays to a fast Mega Charizard X but could now spam Roost on it. Sabella was able to take momentum back on Turn 7 and revealed some Taunt Tapu Koko set, preventing Cdumas's Ferrothorn from setting up entry hazards and gaining a free switch to Mega Charizard X.

Not willing to risk Zapdos getting too low on health to prevent a Hawlucha sweep, Cdumas went directly into Landorus-T, but Sabella caught it on the switch with a Hidden Power Ice, putting it in Stealth Rock range and confirming the Ground-type Legendary was running an offensive set. Sabella was able to set up his Stealth Rock Turn 14 but was forced to play around Heatran with his Choice Scarf Greninja, which lost a large amount of HP to Magma Storm but was able to damage Cdumas's Zygarde with Low Kick afterwards. At Turn 26, Cdumas's Landorus-T was down and Zygarde was in the range of Spikes + Stealth Rock, while Sabella's Landorus-T and Mega Charizard X both were very weakened. Sabella let his Mega Evolution die in order to get his Tapu Koko on the field against Cdumas's Heatran. However, the Gigavolt Havoc was not able to OHKO the Fire-type Pokémon, and Tapu Koko fainted to Magma Storm. Sabella used that opportunity to send Hawlucha in and set up a Swords Dance on a Magma Storm miss. Despite beating both Heatran and Clefable and surviving with 9% of its HP, the wrestler did not get the critical hit it would have needed to KO Zapdos and was paralyzed by Static. At that point, Cdumas pretty much had to use his remaining Pokemon, Zygarde and Ferrothorn, to prevent Zapdos from taking a Greninja's Ice Beam and use the great coverage given by Discharge, Heat Wave, and Hidden Power Ice to end this close game.

BKCBKC vs. z0mOG z0mOG (Semi-finals)

As expected from a tiebreaker match, the one putting BKC against z0mOG was both crucial and anticipated for the Dragonspiral Tyrants and the Team Raiders. Team Preview revealed BKC using a standard form of bulky offense—his team being described above—which US East players particularly like, while z0mOG went for a Chansey offense with a dangerous breaker in Kyurem-B. He immediately sent it in as a lead while BKC went for his Landorus-T and U-turned out, revealing a Choice Scarf set. Kyurem-B clicked Ice Beam without Life Orb recoil, confirming it was holding the Icium Z and hitting Greninja decently hard. BKC then went directly to Clefable, expecting his opponent to either go to Chansey to check Greninja's set or click Fusion Bolt, trading Stealth Rock with the Normal-type Pokémon. Both switched out at the following turn and BKC got it right once more, now having his Mega Venusaur out against Magnezone. Both players kept alternating switches and attacks, trying to find a weakness in their opponent's team. Latios was also revealed to be z0mOG's Mega Evolution, with Kartana being his Scarfer, while we did not learn much about BKC's Zygarde or Greninja.

At Turn 21, z0mOG was able to send his Kyurem-B in on BKC's Venusaur and could pretty much just pick up a KO with its Subzero Slammer. It happened to be Clefable, a Pokémon that was not vital in this game for BKC, since he already had Celesteela to keep down Chansey, Landorus-T, and Latios and had his Stealth Rock on the field. After forcing Kyurem-B to switch out with his Choice Specs Greninja, he went for Zygarde on z0mOG's Chansey. Not willing to let a Pokémon that was probably a Z-Move user or some Substitute user set up on Chansey, z0mOG went directly to Landorus-T; the best play in appearance, but one that signified the end of the match for him. Having clicked Hidden Power Ice to damage Zygarde, he discovered the legendary Pokémon was holding a Weakness Policy, and with the boost, nothing on z0mOg's team could prevent a sweep. This game was a perfect example of how to bring an opponent into a position in which he can't win with safe plays and an unexpected set.

TDKTDK vs. ABR ABR (Grand final)

The match opposing ABR and TDK was not "only" a clash between the current OverUsed Tier Leader and his predecessor, but literally the most important game of the whole tournament. The tiebreaker's score was 1-1, and the winner of this match would take the trophy for his team. Both already fought in the regular finals in a match that ended in a victory for TDK, making it an anticipated revenge as well. Both players brought interesting bulky offenses, with TDK using the Venusaur / Clefable / Greninja core backed up by Tornadus-T, Magnezone, and Gliscor this time. On the other hand, ABR's team consisted of the classic yet extremely solid Toxapex / Heatran / Clefable / Latios core paired with Landorus-T and Magearna. All those Pokémon could run many different sets, meaning both players would have to play carefully during the early stages of the match.

ABR got a nice lead choice in going for Heatran against TDK's Tornadus-T, giving it a chance to burn Gliscor Turn 2. However, this did not happen, and TDK was able to show how much of a threat Gliscor could be by setting a Swords Dance up on the opposing Clefable and crippling Latios. Turn 5 was easily one of the most important turns of the game. ABR could hardly let Gliscor kill Latios and went for an Ice Beam, which is pretty rare but able to OHKO even specially defensive Gliscor variants had TDK stayed in. But, cautiously, he went to Magnezone, only to get it frozen. It not only neutralized one of TDK's Pokémon but also gave ABR all the momentum he needed back and allowed Latios to recover its HP.

Both players tested each other plays and reactions the following turn, with ABR reavealing a Magma Storm + Lava Plume Heatran. At Turn 12, TDK's Choice Scarf Greninja set up a layer of Spikes on ABR's Landorus-T, which was running Scarf as well but switched out to check the opposing Pokémon's set. TDK then tried to pressure his opponent as well as he could with Tornadus-T and Greninja but was eventually forced to let his frozen Magnezone be KOed. Despite his best efforts, Greninja eventually was KOed as well, since ABR limited its number of arrivals on the field with Stealth Rock. On another hand, Landorus-T's life expectancy was diminished, as it was forced to come in several times to Defog away TDK's hazards. ABR was eventually forced to keep it as death fodder, using it to get his Mega Latios in against Gliscor once. The late-game patterns were quite simple: TDK's Gliscor was blocked by the opposing Clefable and Mega Latios, with the second one basically being able to KO something each time it was sent in. Tornadus-T was walled by Toxapex, and Magearna and Clefable could not break through Heatran.

The game finally ended with TDK's team being too worn down to resist to the pressure imposed by ABR's Mega Latios, and ABR's defensive backbone being able to counter anything TDK could send to revenge kill it. It is quite hard to say how the game would have been without the freeze, but one thing is for sure: both players did their best to win this through good teams and accurate plays at the pinnacle of competitive Pokémon, which is respectable enough by itself.

SPL Spotlight: Reuniclus


During the fifth generation, Reuniclus was an extremely annoying Pokémon to deal with thanks to its decent typing, 110 / 75 / 85 bulk, and ability Magic Guard. Not only did this allow it to be a setup sweeper immune to poison, burn, and Leech Seed, but it also enabled it to come in as much as needed without taking hazard damage. This made Reuniclus a nice pick on Spikes stacking sand teams, able to survive any kind of hazard war with its checks and counters slowly losing their HP each time they were forced to come in. However, it was not used much in the early stages of the seventh generation, and even now the popularity of Tyranitar and Ash-Greninja is a nuisance for Reuniclus. Nonetheless, SPL IX has proven that it has a solid niche in the USM OU tier as a Calm Mind sweeper.

The spread is pretty straightforward; since Reuniclus has access to the best possible way to boost its special stats in Calm Mind, investing 252 EVs in HP and the maximum possible in Defense will allow it to take physical hits quite comfortably, and act as a check to Pokémon such as Magearna and Mega Medicham. The number of EVs put in Speed depends of what you want to outspeed. If you want to maximize bulk, you don't need to put anything in. If you want Reuniclus to be able to outspeed opposing Toxapex and hit it with a +1 Psyshock before it can Haze Reuniclus, you should put 48 EVs in Speed. Otherwise the only reason why you would put Speed EVs is to outspeed opposing Reuniclus and have better chances to win the Calm Mind war. It would have been useless a few weeks ago, but should Reuniclus be rising in usage, it is an option to consider.


The moveset is standard as well, with both Calm Mind and Recover being mandatory in order for Reuniclus to set up effectively. Psyshock is used as the Psychic-type STAB move instead of Psychic to beat other Calm Mind users 1v1 and inflict more damage on the likes of Chansey. The last move has to be something super effective against Dark-types, which gives you the choice between Signal Beam and Focus Blast. The second is only used to beat Tyranitar but has less PP and the well-known accuracy problem, while Signal Beam is more reliable but hits less hard than its counterpart. It depends of how likely you think your team is to face a Tyranitar.

Reuniclus is mostly seen paired with entry hazard support in order to wear down its checks such as the aforementioned Dark-types. Its immunity to Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Stealth Rock makes it a great asset—as it was in BW—for balanced teams such as the one built by Cdumas above. Pokémon able to lure or remove the likes of Tyranitar are also appreciated, with Surf Mega Latias or and Earthquake Mega Latios being the best for this job. Since Reuniclus won't be able to break stall on its own, it is better to use stallbreakers or wallbreakers capable of doing so with it.


Smogon Premier League 9 has finished, with the Wi-fi Wolfpack winning over Team Raiders. As the previous editions, it marked a milestone in the evolution of the OverUsed metagame as expected from a tournament gathering such a high number of top players. The Official Smogon Tournament is still underway and will probably allow us to see more high-level games and interesting teams, so keep a look out for its final stages! For fans of old generations, the Smogon Classic is also an anticipated event that will see no fewer than five OST-like tournaments to crown an old gen champion, so don't hesitate to show everyone what you can do in the old OverUsed metagames. There are still plenty of things to do in the Tournaments section, so don't hesitate to try to become the next Pokémon master!

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