Boiling Water: Sun Teams in UU

By Threw. Art by SailorCosmos.
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Sun Teams in UU by SailorCosmos


Weather teams have nearly always been something of a tough sell in singles, where the window of time to take advantage of sun's or rain's effects is much more limited and their apparent advantages are notably less (I know it's disappointing for all you hipsters, but Cherrim is miraculously even more useless) than in doubles, where such teams are standard. In UU, the difficulty of carrying out a weather team is compounded by the fact that Drizzle and Drought are unequivocally banned.

So the question is, Why go to the trouble of using a sun team? The fact is, sun teams right now are as anti-meta as they come. In a tier increasingly dominated by Water-types (even more so now, with the recent drops of Crawdaunt and Gyarados), having Sunny Day active cripples these omnipresent threats by lowering their primary STAB move's attacking power. A large part of sun's viability is that it activates Chlorophyll, a game-changing ability that can be a massive pain for offensive teams that rely on superior Speed and revenge killing Choice Scarf carriers to break walls and sweep; in addition, the wallbreakers commonly found on sun teams, such as Entei and Darmanitan, give even balance and stall teams lacking the bulkiest of defensive Pokémon trouble thanks to their immensely heightened attacking power.

Without further ado, let's take a look at what a prospective sun team would need to be successful.


1. At Least Two Sunny Day Setters and at Least One Pivot

At least two Sunny Day setters are strongly recommended for obvious reasons, but using more than that can be more inconvenient for your Pokémon's movepools than it's worth. In addition, it's a very good idea to have at least one pivot so as to minimize your sweeper's damage taken on the switch in. Whimsicott has both and, with Prankster, virtually guarantees that Sunny Day will get up. However, it also has a U-turn that outspeeds most of the tier. Forretress is a far superior option; not only does it have Sunny Day and a very slow pivoting move in Volt Switch, but it can also set up Stealth Rock and remove hazards (the importance of which will be touched on soon). The disadvantage to using it is the fact that it's easy Taunt bait—while you might consider running Mental Herb if this becomes a huge issue, Heat Rock is extremely important for Forretress, as the three extra turns it adds to Sunny Day are more than enough to decide a match.

While Whimsicott and Forretress are two great examples, there are an abundance of Sunny Day users, surely more than enough to find at least one that fills on a role in any team's playstyle. Cresselia is a phenomenal option because of its massive bulk and near-flawless defensive synergy with Mega Houndoom that allows it to switch in on common Choice Scarf carriers that give it trouble like Mienshao and Krookodile; Sableye, besides doing its normal job of neutering opposing physical attackers with Will-O-Wisp, can take advantage of Prankster to set a priority Sunny Day and use Taunt to prevent the other team from setting hazards; Azelf is a fantastic suicide lead that can set Sunny Day and Stealth Rock and then explode, a tactic that preserves momentum and prevents the opponent from removing entry hazards; Uxie is a bulkier pixie with access to Memento, which could potentially provide a free turn of setup for Nasty Plot Mega Houndoom, Growth Venusaur, and many more; and dozens of other Pokémon from lead Aerodactyl to Baton Pass Vaporeon and Umbreon are more than capable of setting at a pace of your choosing.

2. Entry Hazards and Hazard Removal

Spikes and Stealth Rock will break Focus Sashes (mainly for Mamoswine, whose Earthquake comfortably OHKOes Mega Houndoom) and greatly improve your team's chances for a clean sweep. On the flip side, perhaps Fire-types' greatest weakness is the fact that Stealth Rock will do serious damage to them as they switch in, and Solar Power and Life Orb sweepers need all the HP they can hang onto. These two in conjunction with the details in item 1 make Forretress an SSS-rank sun supporter! At this point, I've outlined a full set for that annoying, ugly little ball: Sunny Day, Volt Switch, Stealth Rock, Rapid Spin. Again, Forretress is hardly UU's only hazard remover. Donphan is normally checked by Water- and Grass-types, but Sunny Day significantly weakens these checks, making it another Pokémon capable of filling the dual role of setting and removing entry hazards.

It lacks a momentum move but can set up entry hazards just like Forretress, resists Stealth Rock, and doesn't have a 4x weakness to Fire-type moves that the active sun turns into a guaranteed OHKO from any Hidden Power Fire. One last warning about hazard removal: going to the trouble of switching around to remove hazards kills momentum and eats up crucial Sunny Day turns, so the most preferable option is that your team keeps up enough pressure to prevent them from being set in the first place. Defog is generally discouraged, as keeping Stealth Rock up on the opponent's side is vital to nabbing key OHKOs and removing them would completely erase the efforts of a weather lead.

3. Fire-type Checks

This is pretty much par for the course when using any glass-ish cannon like Mega Houndoom or most other Sunny Day sweepers: strong threats that are faster are a very big issue. Very few can eat a Stone Edge or Earthquake from Mega Aerodactyl or a Crobat's Brave Bird, so they need a very bulky switch-in with access to reliable recovery. As was mentioned above, Cresselia, the best defensive non-Mega in the tier, has naturally massive bulk and access to Moonlight that make it an easy sell to come in on typical fast attackers like the two mentioned above, and, with Levitate and its Psychic typing, it also resists or is immune to Ground-, Fighting-, and Psychic-type attacks that are super effective against various Fire-types and Chlorophyll users like Venusaur and Shiftry. Other viable options include Snorlax, Porygon2, Slowking, and Vaporeon, all of which can double as Sunny Day setters.

4. A Rabbit's Foot and Guts

Fire Blast misses sometimes. It just does. Solar Power and Life Orb damage can put your sweep on a timer, so it's not as though you really have the option of running a safer move like Flamethrower. That's the price of a balls-to-the-wall playstyle, which is unfortunate but true.

5. Wish Passing and Aromatherapy or Heal Bell

Because it has a tendency to kill momentum and can be a pain to fit on offensive teams, this item is more a strong suggestion than a strict necessity. As I've mentioned before, Solar Power damage has a strange tendency to stack up when you least want it to. Passing a Wish onto your sweeper of choice as it comes in will keep it around for a much longer time, although it can be troublesome to have to set up Sunny Day all over again. Something that's probably even more important: obviously it's immune to burn, but if Houndoom is affected by paralysis or poison, it will be excruciatingly difficult for it to fill its role. Paralysis will completely erase its Speed advantage and let normally slower threats swamp it. Poison damage will pile on top of Solar Power and have Houndoom lasting about three turns longer. Therefore, Aromatherapy and Heal Bell are incredibly important, almost important enough to be a necessity. Obviously, Florges can fulfill both of these requirements and use Sunny Day.

Effective Sun Sweepers

Although it is probably the most effective option overall, Mega Houndoom is hardly the only offensive Pokémon in UU capable of sweeping teams with a weather advantage. Here is a breakdown of it and other offensive Pokémon that are sure not to disappoint with the sun behind them.

Mega Houndoom

Mega Houndoom

It's something that's crossed all our minds after seeing Mega Houndoom's ability, Solar Power: just how powerful would a STAB + Sunny Day + Solar Power-boosted Fire Blast from a base 140 Special Attack be? I've taken the liberty of providing some calcs against common checks and special walls as reference points (by the way, Fire Blast in Sunny Day does more damage when resisted than Dark Pulse does neutrally).

252 SpA Solar Power Mega Houndoom Fire Blast vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Gyarados in Sun: 213-252 (64.3 - 76.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Solar Power Mega Houndoom Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Suicune in Sun: 189-222 (46.7 - 54.9%) -- 14.1% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

252 SpA Solar Power Mega Houndoom Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Florges in Sun: 294-346 (81.6 - 96.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

252 SpA Solar Power Mega Houndoom Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Blissey in Sun: 328-387 (45.9 - 54.2%) -- 3.9% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

All Pokémon that would normally comfortably wall Houndoom, reduced to 2HKOs. I'd also like to add that if you're predicting an obvious switch to one of these mons or a similar special wall, use Nasty Plot, and Fire Blast has at least a 50% chance to OHKO them all.

But now you're saying, "That's all good and well, but what if Gyarados and CroCune don't switch in but come in after a KO or a slow pivot? Houndoom can't stay in if it takes two Fire Blasts to KO them." Good point! Let's check the defensive calcs.

252 Atk Gyarados Waterfall vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Houndoom in Sun: 138-164 (47.4 - 56.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Solar Power damage

0 SpA Suicune Scald vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Mega Houndoom in Sun: 84-102 (28.8 - 35%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after Solar Power damage

That's right: the power loss on their Water-type moves turns Gyarados into something eminently beatable and CroCune into little more than setup bait. Even at +1, neither of these moves OHKOes (some things to watch out for: Gyarados often runs Earthquake, which comes very close to an OHKO, and Crawdaunt's Crabhammer still has a chance to OHKO—yeah, it's that strong). These matchups are possible primarily because of Mega Houndoom's phenomenal base 115 Speed tier, which trumps that of every Water-type in UU, except boosted Mega Sharpedo.

The set is mostly standard, except of course for Solar Beam, which nukes Mega Swampert and Quagsire. Sunny Day is mostly the preferred move in the fourth slot, but if you feel that you have enough setters, the massive power boost from Nasty Plot is appreciated both with and without the sun active.



As if Sacred Fire weren't spammable enough already, the 1.5x damage boost the sun lends this attack will have you thinking Entei's other three moves are a waste of space. At an effective 150 Base Power (think STAB Giga Impact without losing a turn plus a nightmarish burn chance), this legendary's Sacred Fire has virtually no switch-ins; in fact, typically reliable checks fold like wet cardboard to sun-boosted Entei.

252+ Atk Choice Band Entei Sacred Fire vs. 144 HP / 188 Def Thick Fat Snorlax in Sun: 205-243 (41.2 - 48.8%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after Leftovers recovery

252+ Atk Choice Band Entei Sacred Fire vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Swampert in Sun: 170-201 (49.8 - 58.9%) -- 99.6% chance to 2HKO

That said, the power drop between Mega Houndoom and Entei is noticeable. While Choice Band replicates the power-boosting effect of Solar Power, the 15 points that separate Mega Houndoom's Special Attack and Entei's Attack and the 10 points that separate Fire Blast and Sacred Fire add up. Flare Blitz helps erase that difference, but spamming this move wears Entei down remarkably quickly. Speaking of wearing down, an advantage Entei has over Mega Houndoom is its lack of recoil damage taken from Solar Power; however, it is much more susceptible to revenge killing due to its base 100 Speed, which pales in comparison to Mega Houndoom's base 115. Entei cannot viably carry any Grass-type coverage for Mega Swampert, so it has to depend on a burn from Sacred Fire, and it's worth noting that Entei appreciates a Knock Off about as much as your grandfather appreciates a 'Nam joke.



Choice Specs Chandelure comfortably beats Entei and actually barely passes Mega Houndoom in power; however, its base 80 Speed leaves it extremely vulnerable to revenge killing, as it has to worry about Pokémon that wouldn't bother the other two at all, such as Nidoking. The Choice Scarf set fixes the Speed problem, but at the cost of a significant reduction in power. Another tremendous advantage to running Chandelure is its ability Flash Fire, which would almost totally erase any worries about potentially dangerous Fire-types on the other team. Chandelure is one of those Pokémon lucky enough to have Solar Beam in its movepool. In the last slot I've slashed various moves that can all be used effectively on Chandelure and don't necessarily have any advantage over one another on a sun team.



As the best Chlorophyll user in UU and RU, Venusaur is an obvious choice on a sun team. Its reliable attacking power and bulk make it a sort of poor man's sun answer to Mega Swampert in rain. Its blistering Speed while Sunny Day is active makes it a deadly sweeper capable of dismantling teams with its powerful coverage. As is the case with all Chlorophyll users, it is weak to the Fire-type moves that the active sun boosts, although this is also a plus because it boosts the power of Hidden Power Fire, which Venusaur often runs. Finally, there is of course the fact that, while Sunny Day is active, Growth raises its Special Attack and Attack by two stages instead of just one. When it outspeeds everything, spamming Sleep Powder is an easy way to turn anything in front of Venusaur into setup bait. Just one turn to set up, in tandem with its Speed boost, makes Venusaur tremendously difficult to check.

Perhaps the best part about using Venusaur is that the Growth boosts make it very powerful even after Sunny Day is no longer active. Solar Beam is a good fit on the movesets of Fire-types as a very powerful coverage move, but Giga Drain is a better go-to STAB attack for Venusaur, as it doesn't become all but useless after the sun has died out and it helps Venusaur recover from Life Orb recoil. Sleep Powder is easily the best move to run in the fourth slot, but if you don't want to deal with annoying Steel-types like Mega Aggron and Bronzong, Hidden Power Fire is a sun-boosted coverage move that will make quick work of them. I felt obligated to slash Synthesis in the last slot because of the huge recovery it lends while Sunny Day is active, but Giga Drain mostly handles recovery just fine; use it only in tandem with Solar Beam.



Darmanitan earns a special mention because Choice Band + sun lets it nuke anything and everything opposing teams could possibly have for it, and even Choice Scarf Darmanitan's Flare Blitz hits slightly harder than Choice Band Entei's Sacred Fire. In short, it breaks every wall imaginable, like Juggernaut from X-Men.

252 Atk Choice Band Sheer Force Darmanitan Flare Blitz vs. 240 HP / 252+ Def Swampert in Sun: 233-275 (58.1 - 68.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery

252 Atk Sheer Force Darmanitan Flare Blitz vs. 240 HP / 252+ Def Swampert in Sun: 156-184 (38.9 - 45.8%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery (Choice Scarf)

252+ Atk Choice Band Entei Sacred Fire vs. 240 HP / 252+ Def Swampert in Sun: 143-168 (35.6 - 41.8%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery

252 Atk Choice Band Sheer Force Darmanitan Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Suicune in Sun: 198-234 (49 - 57.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery

252 Atk Sheer Force Darmanitan Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Suicune in Sun: 132-156 (32.6 - 38.6%) -- 98.9% chance to 3HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery (Choice Scarf)

252+ Atk Choice Band Entei Sacred Fire vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Suicune in Sun: 120-142 (29.7 - 35.1%) -- 20.4% chance to 3HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery

Following is a list of alternative options for hard-hitting and effective sun sweepers/wallbreakers whose sets are standard and/or self-explanatory.









Problems with Sun Teams

I'm sure I've done such a great job convincing you of the viability of sun teams that you're already typing up your strongly worded VR post demanding that every Fire-type in the tier be banned before one of these teams comes along and ruins the five-game win streak on the UU ladder you worked so hard for; however, I'd encourage you to read on before doing so. Obviously, there are very good reasons why everyone isn't running around with these teams; here are a few.

Taunt Exists / Setting Sunny Day and Switching is Annoying

There are countless situations in which it would be very difficult to set Sunny Day up, but that isn't even the hardest part of using a weather team. The biggest problem with using weather in singles is ensuring that your team will get a chance to use it properly. While Forretress is a decent solution, it is, as was stated previously, very easy Taunt bait. Even if it does get Sunny Day active, you only have five turns to take advantage of the conditions, which might seem like more time than it really is, and your sweeper can be left a sitting duck if the sun dies down and it can no longer easily eliminate the threat in front of it, forcing you to hard switch and killing momentum.

Priority Moves, Choice Scarf, and Faster Pokémon Exist

Infernape's Vacuum Wave and Entei's Extreme Speed take over half Mega Houndoom's HP and do serious damage to most other sun sweepers, and most Choice Scarf users have effective ways of dealing with them as well. Using Cresselia is fine to a point, but continually switching it in against very fast VoltTurn cores like Choice Scarf Rotom-H + Mega Beedrill won't end well. Even if it is the right switch, it kills momentum and saps precious Sunny Day turns.

Special Walls

Sun teams will have trouble against hard stall playstyles that have some sort of Wish + Protect set—in other words, virtually all of them. Whether it's Florges, Umbreon, Alomomola, or nearly any other extremely bulky Pokémon that Houndoom doesn't OHKO, it isn't hard for them to stall your team out until either the sun dies down or Fire Blast runs out of PP. However, it's a relatively easy fix: simply Volt Switch into Venusaur and put these threats to sleep before they can use these moves, and then use them as setup bait.

Snorlax gets a special mention as the only Pokémon in all of UU that can survive three of Mega Houndoom's sun-boosted Fire Blasts with one of its typical sets (Goodra is taken out in three, unless it's Assault Vest Goodra, which I refuse to mention outside parentheses). Normally it would be easy to take care of, since Venusaur can just put it to sleep, but the CurseLax variants often carry Sleep Talk, so even in that situation you're sort of forced to dance with the devil. Entei, because it's a physical attacker, and Chandelure, because it's a Ghost-type, don't have to worry nearly as much about Snorlax if they are your Fire-type sweepers of choice.

Get Out There!

CoolStoryBrobat was gracious enough to provide me with this sample sun team of his. Pick it apart and use it as a reference point for a team of your own!

venusaur heliolisk Mega Houndoom Donphan Cresselia sableye
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