Your posts are great. I've always been more into Multi myself (working on a streak currently I'll post about eventually) but I love reading about unconventional strategies. I have tried a few Doubles teams in the past but I'm much more inclined to just run 4 sweepers and wipe everything out - guess I don't have the patience for longer strategies.Time for Battle Tower Doubles team number 4. This one has more of a novelty feeling to it, but the excellent synergy between the Pokémon on the team still makes it quite the consistent team, probably ranking somewhere in between the 'Turn 1 Victory' team and the Follow Me + Belly Drum Poliwrath one (closer to the latter), the order of those being obvious.
The purpose of this team was to optimize removing Slaking's ability. There are so many ways to do that… I've seen Pure Power Skill Swap chains, but these take too long and similar results can be achieved in other ways, for example by just boosting Slaking's Attack in another way. Then there's Levitate + EQ, Synchronize Slaking, Tank strategies with Amnesia, Safeguard + Swagger, Natural Cure, and many more. The most important aspect of getting Slaking to work is actually what its teammates do besides using Skill Swap, and how well that synergizes with which Pokémon Slaking destroys during or after the setup. In competitive environments, this team would be a joke for sure. Another important thing to keep in mind is the question "is slaking providing something unique here, or is the team REALLY novelty?" For example, Swagger strategies can be used with other Pokémon such as Tauros or Salamence. This is why I made use of Slaking's other stats as well; I really think Slaking fits the team, as stupid as that may sound since the original idea was to build around it. Hope you know what I mean ;)
Here is my tried-and-true result (I admit Xatu is not very recognizeable in the picture below):
View attachment 180858
Slaking @ Persim Berry
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
- Bulk Up
Xatu @ Lum Berry
Ability: Early Bird
EVs: 252 HP / 68 SpD / 188 Spe
- Skill Swap
- Light Screen / Safeguard
Gengar @ Cheri Berry
EVs: 40 HP / 252 SpA / 216 Spe
- Skill Swap
- Ice Punch / Psychic
Aerodactyl @ Choice Band
Ability: Rock Head
EVs: 6 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
IVs: 30 Def / 30 SpD
- Rock Slide
- Hidden Power [Ghost]
General Team Discussion
Ideally, Xatu uses Swagger on turn 1, during which the Persim-healed Slaking tries to eliminate the most important threat(s) using one of its attacking moves. Xatu is faster than Slaking for this reason. Due to the offensive presence of Slaking, and Xatu being relatively bulky, both Pokémon should survive turn 1, so that Xatu can use Skill Swap next turn, letting Slaking continue is onslaught. If Xatu still lives on turn 3, it can either wait a turn, for example if it wants to use Skill Swap on an opponent, or switch out if that is expected to be more effective later. Xatu is the only viable Pokémon that remains immune to EQ after using Skill Swap, and even though it's quite underrated it has just enough stats to fulfill all the tasks here. Gengar and Aerodactyl form the optimal backup in my opinion, but I don't think that discussion belongs to 'general team discussion'.
Strategies and on the Pokémon individually
The star of the team, Slaking, has a standard and fully offensive spread. This is really a matter of a 'best defense is offense' situation, maximizing the probability that both leads survive on turn 1. Swagger-boosted Return and Earthquake OHKO so many Pokémon. To compare, note that +2 Return is about 13% stronger than a Choice Banded Double-Edge, and we all know how many Pokémon are OHKOed by that. It is important to prevent recoil damage here, as Slaking will be taking hits as well in this environment. Bulk Up and Rest give access to a more long-term strategy, making use of the Early Bird ability Slaking receives. It can be used against physically (defensively) strong opponents that cannot be OHKOed easily, but also won't break Slaking's boosted Defense, such as against Forretress, Scizor, Shuckle, Cradily, Armaldo and sometimes stuff like Regirock and Tyranitar, depending on their allies. This is where Xatu's 'filler move', Light Screen, comes in handy too in some situations, for example against bulky waters or other bulkier specialists.
Xatu hits 300 Speed to outspeed Slaking and a majority of opponents. Its bulk guarantees it survives many important faster non-crit Thunderbolts, such as Gengars. Lum Berry is to make 'as sure as possible' that Xatu can use Skill Swap on Slaking. Against Raikou or Jolteon, however, it is better to switch out to Gengar on turn 1 while Slaking Earthquakes them away (especially Jolteon, since it outspeeds Gengar). This explains the specific Cheri Berry on Gengar. Gengar is a backup Skill Swapper AND Swagger-user, should Xatu not be able to use both moves on Slaking. The worst case scenario is when Slaking gets Swaggered by Xatu, but Xatu faints due to e.g. a surprise Quick Claw next turn. This situation should be avoided at all costs.
The last Pokémon, Aerodactyl, outspeeds the faster threats to the team such as the aforementioned Electric-types, OHKOes the Levitate Ghost-types that Slaking can't touch, and can use EQ alongside Slaking when it received Levitate from Gengar or when it has used (multiple) Bulk Up(s). As usual, Rock Slide can be used to fish for flinches if necessary. Gengar and Aerodactyl together have a good haymaker effect, and saved many pinch scenarios already. This is also the reason Gengar is not made more bulky; sometimes the offensive output is just the most important (for example when Gengar and Aerodactyl have to get rid of a bulky water together). Psychic on Gengar is a second option for opposing Gengar, but generally Ice Punch provides better coverage. A Flying-STAB such as Aerial Ace is not so important here as in the Poliwrath team, because most passive Double-Teamers lose to 'long-term Slaking' anyway and here the damage output is more important than merely hitting them.
- Keeping Xatu alive to help Gengar and Aerodactyl later if Slaking should faint too early; don't underestimate the power of Psychic;
- When in serious trouble, a decent last resort option is sometimes to use Swagger on Aerodactyl, or use Swagger against an opponent. This is why Safeguard is mentioned as a second option on Xatu;
- If extra momentum is needed, Slaking can OHKO its ally Gengar with EQ on the turn it Skill Swaps. This also prevents a 'do-nothing' turn on Gengar's side;
- Xatu can use Skill Swap against opposing Levitate users on the turn Slaking uses EQ (mostly on turn 1 or 2); this way Slaking can defeat opposing Gengar for example. Cannot be combined with Light Screen on turn 1, so keep track of the 'loafing around' turns;
- In some cases, it is better to switch out Slaking turn 1 and save it for later. Especially when Fire-types are around that might outspeed Slaking, such as Charizard and Typhlosion. Just switch to Aerodactyl and use Light Screen, for example. Note that Gengar has good type synergy with Slaking, so the AI can easily be fooled if it wants to use Fighting- or Ghost-type moves;
- Watch out when clicking Earthquake on Aerodactyl if Gengar doesn't have Levitate. If needed, try to Skill Swap the non-Levitate ability away when Aerodactyl comes in. Sometimes it is needed to anticipate an ally's fainting for this.
As discussed, powerful Thunderbolt users should be detected and dealt with. Tyranitar hampers Slaking's longevity significantly, it can use Crunch against Xatu and Gengar can't really touch it. Especially if Quick Claw activates on an unlucky turn, it's very dangerous. For the remainder, being unlucky with status on Slaking, such as full paralysis or freeze can spell doom, although it has Rest and with only one sleeping turn, it's quite difficult for the opponent to actually beat it, especially with the offensive presence of Gengar and Aerodactyl around.
A shorter-than-usual analysis indeed, but I think that's it. I'm curious to hear your opinion. Here is a sample streak as usual.
Thanks for reading!
Back home this weekend and got my hands on my original Emerald cartridge so can amend my Dome Singles record to 26 straight tournaments! I also managed to push my Pike record up to a very respectable 257 rooms; new target is 300. Little by little!
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