Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smogon Tier Updates: October 2012 and Other Updates

          It's been three months since the last tier shifts, and so now we have even more! This tier update is particularly notable because it is the first one to be enacted since the Pokemon of Black and White 2 were released (POKEMON BLACK AND WHITE 2 ARE COMING OUT THIS SUNDAY IN NORTH AMERICA!).
          Aside from that it's not a very massive or substantial tier change, but it is something that is necessary for the growth of the metagame.

          Let's first talk about OU. Nothing new has entered OU since Genesect, so there haven't been any changes in that regard. On the other hand, though, the top three Pokemon of the tier have changed massively since the last major tier update, and this one is a bit reminiscent of the beginning of Black and White.

          Politoed, Ferrothorn and Genesect make up the current top three of the tier, knocking down long-reigning kings Scizor and Dragonite to 5th and 4th place, respectively. This shows evidence of the massive incursion of Rain since the Therian forms and Keldeo were introduced. Genesect is also very viable in Rain (as it is on any type of team), so the momentum of this particular playstyle has picked up quite a bit from the time a few months ago when Sand was its superior. Other than this shift, nothing much really changed in OU except for Tornadus-I proving to be second-best in comparison to his big brother, as well as Mew, Meloetta , and finally Virizion each proving that they're not quite fit enough for this new metagame.
Oh Mew and Meloetta, it was a short stint, but you both came in at the wrong time.

Underused Overused threats become Overused Underused Threats 

         UU is probably my favorite tier at the moment, and with the introduction of these supreme offensive threats (two of which previously dominated UU for a time), it is definitely going to continue to be a fun metagame. Joining the ranks is Cofagrigus, the previous RUler of the RU tier, as his versatility as both a massive physical tank and as a Trick Room sweeper have proved efficient enough for the upper tiers. I say it's about time.

          Each of these five Pokemon will definitely make an impact on the UU tier, but the one that I think suffers the most is Virizion. For being a Fighting type, each of the four other new-UUs stops her dead in her tracks; Tornadus will surely OHKO any Virizion set, being able to outspeed as well; Mew and Meloetta should be able to take a hit and retaliate with a Super Effective STAB Psychic type move, and Cofagrigus will laugh at any Swords Dance variant. Virizion really couldn't have come any later to the UU party.

          But aside from their being able to counter and destroy Virizion, each of these Pokemon will surely diminish Fighting types in UU in general. Heracross, Mienshao, and Scrafty are three other potent Fighters that will likely suffer significantly with the new monsters. Heracross had even just claimed the top spot in usage for the past two months. Will he be able to hold his place on the throne, or will Tornadus blow the tier away and swipe it from him? It is definitely possible, but in order to find out for yourself, you're going to have to play!

The Other Tiers... 

          RU and NU really didn't change much at all in terms of new threats. Cinccino, Amoonguss and Ditto all continue to be very dominant threats in NU (the former two claiming the top spots) and I think that their potency can definitely carry over to the upper tiers as well. Amoonguss is even effective in all tiers, benefiting from its bulk, Regenerator, and Spore. Otherwise, NU was unchanged. Some threats did rise in usage, however, and were bumped up from "PU" to being actual "NU" status, but since PU isn't even a real tier, they've essentially just moved up from a lower spot in NU to a higher spot. Some of these things include Rapidash, Zangoose, Ditto, Eelektross and Cradily, some of which have seen higher usage thanks to their new Dream World abilities. But aside from that, NU remains a fun getaway from the hyper-competitive standard tiers.

          In other news, Stoutland has dropped once again to RU now that perma-Sand (namely Hippopotas) is banned from UU. Without permanent Sand, the dog will likely suffer a massive blow, and I wouldn't be surprised if he sees usage in NU in three months' time. He now has Superpower from the Black and White 2 move tutors, but I doubt that will be enough with a 100 base Attack and 80 base Speed stat.

          So as always UU has seen the biggest shift, while really nothing else has changed. The Black and White 2 changes are still taking their toll, however, and there's no telling what new Dream World abilities will be released within the next few months. This is definitely an exciting time to be playing Pokemon, so I suggest you all get out there on Pokemon Showdown or Pokemon Online and make an impact!

          Lastly, on an unrelated note, Intended to start a new project of Type Analysis in each tier, but I figured I'd postpone its debut until the tiers shifted so that I can have an updated analysis, so expect to see that soon!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Feature on this Blog

It's been a few weeks, as always. I just started school early this month, so I am expecting things to get quite hectic. However, I will not forget about this blog. I'll be posting limitedly; maybe about once every week or two, but I would still love to make as many good posts as possible.

In celebration of the fact that I don't have class tomorrow, I am going to start a new series on this blog called "Type Analyses". These will look into any given type in a particular tier (usually OU) so we can better see how the type functions as a whole, as well as what defensive and offensive members can do. I will begin writing this post tonight, and hopefully I'll finish it by tomorrow.

Here is a hint at what the first one will be:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Competitive Battling Spotlight #39: Old Pokemon Eleven

One of our oldest friends, Sandslash makes its debut as a good Pokemon in the current metagame!
Tier: RU (as of August 2012)
                                               Usable in: OU and RU                                                                               

H.P.: 75
Attk: 100
Def.: 110
Sp.A: 45
Sp.D: 55
Spe:  65


Sand Veil:  Raises this Pokemon’s Evasiveness by one level in a Sandstorm. This is a quite questionable ability for Sandslash to have. As an ability alone, it is quite good (only in Sandstorm obviously), but seeing as the only place to effectively run Sand is in OU, Sandslash becomes easily outclassed by things like Gliscor or Donphan who, despite both having better abilities to utilize, can take advantage of Sand Veil’s Evasion boost with higher stats and better movepools. With that being said, in RU, where Sandslash is usable, there are no truly efficient ways of utilizing Sandstorm other than employing a support Pokemon to set it up. For these reasons, Sand Veil becomes a very situational ability that will most often times be ignored when choosing Sandslash for your team.

Sand Rush:  Doubles this Pokemon’s Speed in a Sandstorm. This is definitely Sandslash’s best ability, though it comes with the same exact problem as the last; Sandstorm and its usability in each tier. While again for this ability to be made use of in the lower tiers you’ll need a manual Sandstormer, this actually does allow Slash to be reasonably threatening in the OU metagame, believe it or not. With Excadrill’s recent ban to Ubers and the fact that Sandslash has a similar typing and the same exact movepool in terms of coverage, Sandslash is indeed capable of taking over where Drill left off all those months ago.

This does not, however, come without its share of problems. First of all, while Sandslash is comparable to Excadrill in several ways, it is significantly weaker, and significantly slower to boot. Surely Sand Rush does erase the latter problem, but Slash might still find itself being outsped by faster Scarfed or boosted threats that can take advantage of its very low Special Defense and list of common weaknesses. Overall, however, Sand Rush is the best ability for Sandslash to run if you plan on using it in OU. It’s actually more viable than you might think.


            Sandslash has never really been an outstanding Pokemon by any means. As an offensive Ground type it is both slower and much weaker than most common threats like Krookodile, Flygon, and Golurk. Likewise, as a support Pokemon it has less bulk and moves in its arsenal than the likes of Claydol and Donphan. This then raises the question of: Why use Sandslash?

            Sandslash is a very unique Pokemon in regards to its usability in the competitive metagame. With its given stats, abilities, and its movepool, it is really at its best in either OU or RU, two completely different tiers with completely different threats and playstyles. Likewise, Slash itself fills different roles in each tier that both take advantage of its rather bland movepool.

            In OU, Sandslash acts as an effective Sand sweeper, boasting Swords Dance to boost its decent base 100 Attack, EdgeQuake for coverage, and other moves like Rapid Spin or X-Scissor to round off the set nicely. With these assets, Sandslash really does an exceptional job of picking off weaker threats, and with the given coverage it serves as a nice check to the new and powerful Tornadus and Thundurus Therian forms, among many other threats like Volcarona, Terrakion and Latios (if you carry X-Scissor).

            In RU, however, it’s a very different story. This metagame is where Slash gets to take advantage of its good Defensive bulk and access to Rapid Spin. With Claydol and Blastoise now long-gone from RU, Sandslash has taken over to become one of the best spinners in the tier. It can even utilize Swords Dance on a Rapid Spin set to beat out bulky Ghost types such as Cofagrigus and Dusknoir, or set up Stealth Rock on its own. If your RU team needs a Rapid Spinner, a good Physical Wall or a decent Ground type, Sandslash is the perfect option.

Potential Sets:

1. Offensive Rapid Spinner (Ghost Killer) –RU or UU
   252 HP/252 Atk/6 SpDef
    Adamant @ Life Orb/Leftovers/Lum Berry
    -Swords Dance
    -Rapid Spin  
    -Night Slash/Stone Edge

            This set makes use of Sandslash’s unique ability to plow through essentially all Spin blockers in the lower tiers after a Swords Dance. Because of its low Speed, max HP should be used to take advantage of Slash’s nice base 110 Defense, and to make its low Special Defense a little more bearable. Otherwise the ideology of this set is simple; set up a Swords Dance on a predicted switch and proceed to demolish anything that comes in, preferably Ghost types expecting to stop you from Rapid Spinning. With Night Slash, no Ghost is safe from Sandslash’s wrath, though if you’d prefer better coverage overall, you may forego it for Stone Edge.

            Life Orb makes each attack hit much harder, though if you’d like to play it safer Leftovers and Lum are viable options as well. This set works best in RU, though SD does give Sandslash a slight edge over some of UU’s best Rapid Spinners, making it potentially useful there as well. Just keep in mind that UU has threats that are tons more powerful than RU’s, so the risk is yours to take.


2. Bulky Support --RU
    252 HP/6 Atk/252 Def
    Impish @ Leftovers
    -Stealth Rock/Toxic
    - Rapid Spin
    -Stone Edge/Rock Slide

          All that physical bulk in addition to the ability to Spin away entry hazards from your side of the field make Sandslash a premium candidate for a defensive support Pokemon in RU. Its typing also helps it, giving it a usable Electric type immunity as well as resistances to Rock and Poison type moves. With Stealth Rock and good offensive coverage, this set is likely to help your team out in dealing gradual damage to weaken their threats. However, if you already have a different Stealth Rock user, Toxic is another great move to have.


Sand Sweeper (OU):    
 Due to the amount of differing variations, I will list a few effective versions of the Sandslash sweeper set here. Each of these will have the same moveset of: 
    -Swords Dance
    -Stone Edge   
    - X-Scissor/Rapid Spin

            EdgeQuake is the obligatory coverage duo here, hitting many things for at least neutral damage while Earthquake does so with STAB. X-Scissor is the best option for a third coverage move, as it gets Super Effective damage on things that normally wouldn’t take much from Stone Edge, such as Celebi and Latios, while it also allows you to hit Breloom, who resists both of the aforementioned moves. Rapid Spin, however, may be used in the last slot to get rid of those annoying entry hazards while still threatening a good portion of the metagame with mere powerful presence.

Also, each can use the items Life Orb, Leftovers, or Lum Berry, depending on how you’d like the set to function. The EVs are not listed above because I’ve come up with a few different spreads that each allow you to hit certain Speed numbers and bulk levels, depending on what exactly you’d like your Sandslash to outspeed. Here they are:

1. Speedy Sweeper
   12 HP/ 252 Atk/244 Spe

With the given EVs, Sandslash hits its most effective Speed tier, outspeeding as many of OUs fastest threats as possible. There really is no reason to invest 100% in Speed since the extra Speed points won’t allow it to outpace anything it couldn’t before. For this reason, the remaining 12 EVs can go in HP just to give Sandslash some slightly better potential to take some hits and live.

The nature of this set (either Adamant or Jolly) is very important here as it determines exactly what Sandslash can beat out. The main enemies here are base 101 Pokemon and below; with an Adamant nature and the given EVs, Sandslash becomes faster than everything up to Modest Choice Scarfed Tornadus-T, meaning that it can essentially revenge kill notable threats such as the former, in addition to Adamant Choice Scarf Salamence, Adamant Salamence after a Dragon Dance, any Dragon Dance Dragonite variant, any Terrakion variant that doesn’t have a Choice Scarf or Rock Polish, and anything slower than these threats. This is important because all of these listed are very potent Pokemon in the OU metagame, and the fact that Sandslash can attack before them and likely KO with a boosted move makes this set very relevant in the current metagame.
            If you'd like to forego a little bit of that power for more Speed, Jolly may be used, as a great deal more Pokemon are outsped with this nature. Firstly, the given EVs and a Jolly nature allow Sandslash to outspeed up to Timid Scarf Thundurus-T (or Jolly Scarf Landorus-I) and everything below. This is very important as one of the Pokemon Sandslash does get the edge on here is Adamant Choice Scarfed Terrakion, who is otherwise checked by very few things in OU.  

            This set functions best as a late-game sweeper, as it will be at its most effective once hugely defensive threats like Ferrothorn and Skarmory are out of the way. Also, while Sandslash does have a decent HP stat backed by good Defense, it suffers heavily from repeated assaults, especially with Life Orb as its prime weapon of choice. Furthermore, it will not enjoy taking priority moves from really anything; a Bullet Punch from Scizor and an Extremespeed from Dragonite (both Adamant with Choice Band) both 2HKO Slash, while Life Orb Lucario’s ExSpeed deals up to 40%. Sandslash also cannot stand being statused by anything, as Burn hinders its power and longevity, while Toxic does just the latter. Sleep is also a huge detriment.

            With all of these given problems, a couple effective partners come to  mind for this set. First, Magnezone is able to switch in on the likes of Ferrothorn, Skarmory and Scizor, OHKOing each of these with the appropriate move. Also, Blissey makes a great partner for its ability to pass Wishes and heal status with Aromatherapy. Lastly, anything else with high Speed and power will aid Sandslash greatly if it can remove anything else that threatens its sweep. Entry hazards are great too, as they demand less of Sandslash once it is in a one-on-one situation.

2. Sand Sweeper 2 (OU)   
    168 HP/252 Atk/88 Spe
    Adamant @ Life Orb  
            If you’d like to take advantage of Sandslash’s decent physical bulk while still attempting to outspeed and plow through your opponent’s team, this set provides an alternate variation with a more bulky twist. With 88 Speed EVs and an Adamant nature, Sandslash is faster than everything up to Tornadus-T in the sand. This will allow you to properly KO the big green bird with a powerful Stone Edge before it can wreak any more havoc on your team. What that means is that with this set, Sandslash becomes faster than every non-scarfed, non-boosted Pokemon in OU! That is, everything but one… Jolteon holds the title of the current fastest Pokemon in the tier, with a huge base 130 Speed stat. But while Jolteon is really not very common at all, if you fear being demolished by a powerful Hidden Power Ice (which Jolteon always carries), you may switch the EVs to 128 HP/252 Atk/128 Spe with an Adamant nature. Either way this set allows Slash to take a few more hits while still being the fastest thing in OU (without a Scarf, of course).

Other Options:

            As far as moveset goes, this analysis pretty much has it covered for the most part. You’ll always want to use Swords Dance, Stone Edge and Earthquake in OU, while the RU variation depends on the set you’re running. In OU you may also try Night Slash to beat out Ghost types, namely Gengar, but usually EdgeQuake +X-Scissor provides you with all the coverage you’ll need. Sandslash also has Hone Claws, which might be usable for its ability to make Stone Edge 100% accurate, but as it doesn’t reach the levels of power that Swords Dance does, it’s not much of a huge buff.

            There is also a good list of items for Slash to hold. Life Orb, Leftovers, and Lum Berry are the standard trio, each providing one benefit over the others. In OU, Slash may hold a Choice Band to remove boosting time altogether and begin hitting things hard from the moment it comes into battle. The downside with this is obviously being locked into one move, so either your prediction skills will have to be primed or you’ll have to make sure to eliminate anything that walls Sandslash beforehand.


            Sandslash has never been a really outstanding Pokemon in any generation, but Black and White has definitely been nice to it. With its great bulk, good typing and well-rounded movepool on the offensive and defensive spectrums, it’s become quite a force in the RU metagame for its ability to Rapid Spin effectively.

            Conversely, the aforementioned traits have allowed it to perform quite well in OU too, along with its new ability Sand Rush. Sandslash won’t be moving permanently into the tier any time soon, but it’s definitely a viable option if you’re beginning to find the current roster of Sand sweepers a bit bland.

Competitive Usability: 

  • Rapid Spin
  • Sand Rush makes it usable in OU.
  • Decent Attack stat and access to Swords Dance.
  • Reasonable physical bulk.
  • Enough coverage to effectively run an offensive set.
  • Low Special Defense.
  • Low natural Speed, making it useless without Sand in OU and even still slower than some threats in the Sand.
Verdict:  8 out of 10 (OU)
                8 out of 10 (RU)

            Sandslash is one of the oldest Pokemon in existence and, given that you can catch it rather early in Red and Blue, is one of the first Pokemon anyone has ever seen. For that reason its looks are by no means novel. Yet while it does carry the burden of being one of the originals, it’s still not as cool looking as beasts like Arcanine, Blastoise, or Dragonite. For those reasons Sandslash has never really appealed to me in terms of design. It’s unique, which is good, as there has yet to be another quilled shrew like it to date, but it’s nothing extravagant, to be honest.
Aesthetic Design:  6 out of 10

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Competitive Battling Spotlight #38: New Pokemon Fifteen

Currently the final Pokemon in the National Pokedex, the Amazing Genesect.
Tier: OU (as of August 2012)

H.P.: 70
Attk: 120
Def.: 90
Sp.D: 90
Spe:  99


Download: Boosts Attack if opponent has higher Special Defense than Defense. Boosts Special Attack if opponent has higher Defense than Special Defense. This ability is almost perfect for Genesect, and only further lengthens the book-length list of reasons to use it. With great Attack and Special Attack, STAB U-Turn and great Special coverage, Genesect can really take advantage of either of these two boost, dealing significant damage to almost any threat daring enough to switch into it. I cannot think of a better ability for this amazing Pokemon.


            Genesect has finally been released into the OU metagame, which marks a significant moment in Pokemon history, as all 649 monsters are now officially up for grabs (at least in Japan). What this means competitively, however, is that we now have a deadly force running rampant in our Overused metagame.

            Let’s start with the worst. Genesect has base 71 HP which, backed by two base 90 defenses is almost forgotten once you see this beast start to take hits. Its typing further erases the doubt brought on by this stat. Base 71 really isn’t that bad after all for an offensive Pokemon. Next, Sect has a rather low (by this metagame’s standards) Speed stat of 99. While this does allow it to outspeed and KO potent (but not very popular) threats like Lucario, Hydreigon and Haxorus, it still misses the bump on the tier’s most deadly threats. This low Speed isn’t such a problem, though, when Genesect is equipped with a Choice Scarf, arguably the best item for it to hold. Lastly, Genesect holds a four times weakness to the ever-common and ever-powerful Fire type. Sure, that’s a downer, but with no other weaknesses below its belt, a slew of notable resistances, and great power and coverage, I think one four times weakness is little compared to the world of hurt that this techno beast can unleash on the world.

            Now that all of the “bad” of Genesect has been covered, let’s look at all the outright factors it has going for it. First, it has beautiful coverage. With its four moves of choice it can dismantle many of today’s most effective threats, which is great on an individual level. However, Genesect’s raw power and coverage spans a much greater scale when factoring in its ability Download. This provides it a boost in either of its huge offensive stats, blessing it with the potential to diminish whole teams to laser dust. With a Choice Scarf equipped, STAB U-Turn and three coverage moves, Genesect can do no wrong. It also has plenty of other options in its movepool (such as Sub and Rock Polish) to abuse these factors in quite different ways. This thing is being hailed as the Special Scizor, and for good reason. However, I think Genesect has everything it needs to distinctively set itself apart from its bug-cyborg brethren.


Potential Sets:

1. GeneScarf
   16 Atk/252 SpAtk/240 Spe
    Rash @ Choice Scarf
    -Bug Buzz/Flamethrower
    -Ice Beam/Flamethrower

            Probably as standard a set as can be. While the spread may not be entirely standard, I made sure to give it just enough Speed to beat Scarf Modest Hydreigon or Scarf Adamant Haxorus, neither of which is super common, but still effective nevertheless since with a Scarf Genesect can still beat out every non-Scarfed, non-boosted Pokemon anyway. Max Special Attack and a Rash nature mean that all of Sect’s Special moves will be hitting hard, especially with a +1 boost from Download. U-turn is there to take advantage of any +1 Attack boosts received from Pokemon that would take the Special Attacks a lot better (like Blissey, etc) and the 16 leftover EVs from Speed are invested here just to give it a little more bump.

            In terms of which three coverage options you want Genesect to use, that will depend on your team. If you’re having a harder time dealing with Gliscor and Landorus, Ice Beam is supreme, though Flamethrower notably 2HKOs both of these. Bug Buzz is there for more STAB, and it gives you the supreme edge over the likes of Celebi and Tyranitar, but the former can still be KOed with Flamethrower, and the latter with U-Turn. Basically, to save myself space and to save you time, just choose whichever three options you think are best suited for your Genesect. They all work greatly against any team.

            You can go purely Special Attack and Speed in regards to investment, as well as using a Speed boosting nature to outspeed plenty more threats, just remember to never use an Attack diminishing nature if you’re using U-Turn, since Genesect can really utilize its Attack stat effectively thanks to Download.  

2. Offensive Non-Scarf
    6 Atk/252 SpAtk/252 Spe
    Naive @ Life Orb/Expert Belt  
    -Bug Buzz   
    -Ice Beam

            This one is very similar to the previous set, with a slightly more concentrated focus; forcing switches. Thanks to all of Genesect’s already stated assets (great coverage, power, etc), it can switch into many Pokemon with ease, while scaring them out for fear of being KOed. You may then proceed to hit the incoming threat with a boosted move, dealing a hefty chunk of damage, all the while being able to switch moves at will, should you mispredict. It should be noted that with Download and Life Orb, these moves will be dealing much more damage than the Choice Scarf set, and the lack of Speed is aided by the great bulk and typing.

            If you’d like to feign a Choice Scarf set to gain an edge on your opponent in the long run, Expert Belt is a great option to use, as with this stellar coverage you are likely to be hitting a lot of threats for Super Effective boosted damage. The coverage dilemma returns in this set, so again, choose the three moves you think are best suited for your team. U-Turn is also great to have as it again makes scouting a lot easier and it takes advantage of those stray Attack boosts, but if you’d wish for a more Special Attack-tailored spread, you may forego it for a Timid or Modest nature, as well as being able to use all four coverage moves in one set.


3. Rock Polish   
    124 HP/ 252 SpAtk/116 Spe
    Modest @ Life Orb/Lum Berry  
    -Rock Polish
    -Bug Buzz  
    -Ice Beam/Flamethrower    
            So you acknowledge that Genesect’s Speed is mediocre, but you don’t want to use a Choice Scarf set to make up for it? Well, as if Genesect couldn’t get any better, it also possesses the ability to double its Speed, taking it from “meh” to “Oh MEH God!”. With its natural ability to force switches and its good bulk to take neutral and resisted hits, Genesect won’t have too many problems getting up a Rock Polish and obliterating weakened opponents in the late game.

            The EV spread for this set is a little different. With the given EVs, Genesect has as much power as possible, while being given just enough Speed to still be faster than Timid Scarf Latios after a Polish, which gives you the opportunity to give it a little bit more bulk so that it can take even more hits.

            Again, you may choose any three coverage moves you feel will be best suited for this set, but the three listed give perhaps the best coverage possible, while lacking the ability to OHKO Ferrothorn (who is 2HKOed by Bug Buzz anyway). In terms of item, Life Orb is preferred, as it gives Genesect the maximum possible power for this set, but if you’d like to use Lum for fear of having your sweep ruined by status, that also works. You could even use Expert Belt if you don’t wish to take 10% recoil from Life Orb, but L.O. is probably the most optimum bet.

            Lastly, of course, if you do not wish to get all technical with the spread, the standard 252 Sp.Atk/252 Spe Modest spread may be used, as it will do essentially the same exact thing.

4. Sub + 3 Attacks  
    8 HP/252 Atk/248 Spe
    Modest @ Life Orb/Expert Belt/Leftovers  
    -Bug Buzz    
    -Ice Beam   
            A good spread that makes prediction on your part a little easier than the standard Life Orb variant. With a Substitute up, Genesect is free to safely fire off any of these three powerful moves, likely scoring a KO if it’s Downloaded some Special Attack. With 8 HP, Sect can set up a maximum number of Subs while being able to dish out an additional hit in the right circumstances. Life Orb is great for the power, but it can wear Genesect down very quickly in tandem with Substitute. For this reason, Expert Belt can provide a minor boost against certain threats, while Leftovers increases longevity at the cost of some oomph.

            Other than the fact that Substitute eases prediction and optimizes Genesect’s other stats, this set is still not too different from all the others. Still, it is very effective if used correctly.


5. GeneSpecs
    6 Atk/252 SpAtk/252 Spe
    Modest/Jolly @ Choice Specs
    -Ice Beam     

             This last set is a little bit different from the others in that its main purpose is to mow down anything that switches in to Genesect’s wrath. With brilliant coverage and great power naturally, Choice Specs is an obvious aid to this Pokemon’s dominance. However, Genesect has something that no other Specs abuser in OU can boast of; Download. This means that if you send Genesect in on something with high Defense, it will be blessed with an unbelievable 50% boost to its already sky-high Special Attack. That’s 837 Special Attack with a Modest nature and Choice Specs factored in, which is, needless to say, very deadly.

U-Turn is still here in case you are granted an Attack boost, as it can still allow you to scout your opponent’s team efficiently. Use this set with Thunder Wave support and you’ll be able to sweep any type of team later in the game.

Other Options:

Genesect does have a few other move choices that you would think might be viable, but not too many of them are, given its hit-and-run nature as well as the fact that all of the above listed moves usually get the job done better. On the off-chance you are using Sect on a Hail team, you may use Blizzard over Ice Beam. Likewise, Thunder over Thunderbolt can be selected on a Rain team. Solar Beam is decent on Sun teams, and Hidden Power is there to tighten up the coverage furthermore. Also, Psychic may be used to have an easier time against Terrakion, but this is generally unfavorable due to the fact that Terrakion is probably the only reason you’d run Psychic anyway (as everything else weak to it can be handled with another move).

            As far as physical options go, there really aren’t any that make use of the wonderful 120 Attack stat aside from U-Turn. Quick Attack is there for priority, but its coverage sucks and it’ll seem more like a wasted moveslot more times than not. It even gets Hone Claws, which could be good, but isn’t because the only physical move Genesect will be using would erase that boost anyway.            


            Despite Genesect’s one-sided movepool, it has plenty of other blessings that make it a truly versatile and prominent Pokemon in the OU metagame. It’s an excellent offensive threat capable of fitting onto any type of team you can come up with. There is some speculation that it might even be banned to Ubers, but until that day comes let’s enjoy the havoc caused by this ancient bug on a metagame that deserves its potential, but probably doesn’t need it too badly.

Competitive Usability: 

  • Download
  • Good Defensive Typing
  • Solid Defensive stats for an Offensive Pokemon
  • Great base 120 Offensive stats
  • Amazing Coverage
  • 4x Weakness to Fire
  • Middling base 99 Speed
Verdict:  9.5 out of 10 

            Genesect looks pretty cool. It reminds me a bit of Yanmega, as if the two could be prehistoric mecha-cyborg counterparts or something, which is nice. Genesect also looks robotic in its features, and with that badass cannon on its back, you know that it’s not willing to take s*** from any Pokemon! Overall, I commend Genesect’s originality. It also has an amazing back story; Team Plasma was attempting to enhance certain species of Pokemon by giving them biologically-attached weapons in an attempt to create the “perfect Pokemon”. N pulled the plug on this project, however, leaving Genesect in an imperfect (albeit still very powerful) form. Probably my favorite background story for any legendary Pokemon.
Aesthetic Design:  9 out of 10

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Competitive Battling Spotlight #37: New Pokemon Fourteen

The awesome Mienshao!

Tier: UU (as of July 2012)

H.P.: 65
Attk: 125
Def.: 60
Sp.D: 60
Spe:  105


Inner Focus:  Prevents being flinched by opponent’s moves. This ability is rather situational and, when compared to Mienshao’s other two options, doesn’t stand out much at all. It’s nice to be able to ignore an opposing Mienshao’s Fake Out, or even an Iron Head flinch run from a Jirachi, but in both of those scenarios, Mienshao will be taking a lot of damage due to its frailty. In short, you’re better off switching out to a Pokemon that can take the flinching hits than leaving Mienshao in to ignore them.

Regenerator:  Restores up to 1/3 HP when switched out of battle. For a frail offensive Pokemon, this may seem like an odd choice of ability, but it actually comes in handy more times than you’d think. Most common Mienshao sets will run Life Orb, which means that the restoration of 33% of your health will definitely be welcome. U-Turn also capitalizes on Regenerator’s effect, dealing damage on the opponent while scouting what they’ll do next. Definitely an excellent ability for Mienshao.

Reckless:  Boosts the power of recoil moves by 20%.  Hi Jump Kick nabs the boost from Reckless for its potential to lose half of Mienshao’s HP if it misses. This means that Mienshao’s most powerful STAB move is made even stronger with Reckless. This ability is probably tied for Mienshao’s best option because it is tailored toward more offensive play, which is how Mienshao should be used.


            Mienshao is a good Pokemon introduced in Black and White. With its Fighting typing and a very good movepool backed by good offensive stats, it really has everything it needs to take apart stall teams and even single-handedly beat out most of its common counters. However, despite its great list of assets, it just wasn’t cutting it in OU. With threats like Terrakion in the tier, most Fighting types have been subjugated to much lower usage, due to his beastly dominance and command of almost the entire metagame with just two moves. This, coupled with quite poor defenses, sent Mienshao packing at the end of June to the lower realms of UU.

            Which is, in my opinion, a grave mistake. Right as it entered UU, Black and White 2 became released into the competitive scene, blessing Mienshao with a purely offensive ability in the form of Reckless. Reckless allows for Mienshao’s already destructive Hi Jump kicks to hit very, very hard. It also has access to Hidden Power Ice backed by a decent base 95 Special Attack to take on the likes of Gligar or Claydol. Regenerator isn’t a bad ability for it, either, as with a standard Life Orb set with Fake Out and U-Turn, a lot of the damage taken from prior turns can be relieved.

            With this wonderful coverage and power, Mienshao has the potential to single-handedly increase the viability of offensive play in the Underused tier, being capable of ripping apart entire stall teams on its own. I never liked it too much in OU (I <3 Terrakion), but in UU I think it is safe to say Mienshao will quickly Jump up the ranks.


Potential Sets *all sets may effectively use either Regenerator or Reckless, unless specifically stated*:

1. Enter, the Shao
   252 Atk/6 SpAtk/252 Spe
    Naïve/Naughty @ Life Orb
    -Fake Out
    -Hi Jump Kick
    -Stone Edge/Hidden Power Ice

            This was a common spread during Shao’s stay in OU, and for good reason. With Life Orb and 125 Attack, Fake Out serves as an excellent way to get some early damage on the opponent’s Pokemon. Hi Jump Kick is the main move of the set, being able to punch holes in anything that doesn’t resist it. Stone Edge and Hidden Power are for coverage, while U-Turn gets Mienshao out of there and attains momentum in your favor.

2. Deadly Dancer
    6 HP/252 Atk/252 Spe
    Jolly/Adamant @ Fighting Gem
    -Swords Dance
    -Hi Jump Kick
    -Stone Edge/Hidden Power Ice/Substitute    

            If Mienshao weren’t so frail, or if it were just a bit faster, this set would probably ban it straight to BL. After a Swords Dance, Hi Jump Kick alone is capable of 2HKOing everything in the entire tier that is not a Ghost type. Even Slowbro, an expected counter to Mienshao, loses AT LEAST 60% of its health just by switching in to one of these. For this reason, with Acrobatics being able to hit a lot of things HJK can’t (in addition to being boosted once Fighting Gem is used), this set has near perfect coverage. Just pair Shao with a fast Pursuit trapper (ahem, Krookodile) to get rid of Ghosts and other fast threats, and you will have no problem sweeping teams.


3. Choice Scarf  
    252 Atk/ 6 SpAtk/252 Spe
    Jolly/Adamant @ Choice Scarf
    -Hi Jump Kick
    -Stone Edge   
    - Dual Chop/Aerial Ace
            With Mienshao’s unique and excellent Speed stat, as well as great offensive skill, a Choice Scarf set can be extremely effective, especially as it allows for you to outspeed and kill nearly every common Scarf user in UU (Flygon, Darmanitan, Krookodile, etc). Jolly is preferred here, to reach the maximum potential Speed, though Adamant allows for the Hi Jump Kicks to hit much harder.
            In terms of coverage, Hi Jump Kick and Stone Edge are almost all you need, having excellent synergy together. Dual Chop can be made use of to break Subs and hit Dragons hard, but usually Hi Jump Kick can do that better.

            You may run either Reckless or Regenerator on this set, depending on what you want to do. If you’d like HJK to be as powerful as it can be, obviously Reckless is what you want. But if you want ScarfShao’s role to be more of a hit-or-miss kinda thing that focuses more on prediction than doing heaps of damage, then Regenerator is grand with U-Turn. Either one works very well here. 

4. MienChoice   
    6 HP/252 Atk/252 Spe
    Ability: Reckless
    Adamant @ Choice Band
    -Hi Jump Kick   
    -Stone Edge
    -Aerial Ace
            Choice Banded Mienshao serves a different role than its Scarf counterpart, and that is to hit things hard. With Hi Jump Kick and Reckless, Mienshao becomes more powerful than even Choice Banded Adamant Terrakion, which is quite a feat to accomplish considering it is nearly just as fast. In UU, not many things can live a Hi Jump Kick from this set, meaning that you’ll be catching a lot of things off guard with your sheer outright power. Because of this, as always, team support will help optimize this set.
            Because the Adamant nature loses out on a little bit of Speed here, you’ll want to use something fast to make up for and take out the quicker threats that Mienshao might have trouble with (such as Azelf, or Flygon, to name a few). Maybe using your own Choice Scarfer could help greatly to patch up this lack in outright Speed. Also, because of Mienshao’s notoriety as both a powerful and versatile offensive threat, it is likely to force  a lot of switches from things like Scrafty, Snorlax, Porygon2, etc. For this reason, entry hazards will be a great aid to this set, as with any other.


5. Mienshao, Would You Knock it Off Already?!
    4 Hp/252 Atk/252 Spe
    Jolly @ Life Orb/Leftovers
    -Knock Off/Substitute  
    -Hi Jump Kick    
    -Stone Edge/U-Turn     

             Of course, where would I be without my somewhat-gimmicky sets. Here I’d like to believe that this set has the potential to cripple and possibly kill most of Mienshao’s common counters and checks, such as Slowbro, Azelf and any Ghost type. Using the logic that Mienshao will likely be forcing a lot of switches, you can use your awesome prediction skills to know when your opponent is going to send something in to wall or outrun Shao, smacking them with a Knock Off or Toxic (or setting up a safe Sub) and likely crippling their initial strategy (and definitely confusing the **** out of them!).

            Afterward, you may either fire off a Hi Jump Kick or U-Turn out to an appropriate check/counter. Stone Edge is also a great option here, as it can kill opposing Chandelure on the switch.

This set has the potential to work because it allows you to weaken something that would otherwise win one-on-one against Mienshao so that once it’s finally gone, Shao or something else on your team can remove the remainder of the weakened threats.

6.  Life Orb + 3 Attacks
    4 Hp/252 Atk/252 Spe
    Jolly @ Life Orb
    -Hi Jump Kick  
    -Stone Edge    

             Just like a standard offensive set, but with a small addition. With Protect or Sub, Mienshao’s ability to scout opposing threats is made apparent here. Using one of the aforementioned scouting moves, you can ease your prediction greatly, shedding light on how to react to an opponent’s Pokemon. Protect gives you the ability to determine (possibly) whether an opponent is Choiced or not, and also shows a bit of their strategy to taking your Mienshao down. once you have learned of this, you are free to act accordingly, giving you a slight edge.


            Mienshao is a fantastic addition to the competitive metagame with its great stats, typing and abilities. Additionally, its ability to beat out its own counters with some advanced prediction and rather unconventional sets make it a great strategy Pokemon for those who enjoy playing mindgames, or just altogether catching your opponent off guard. Definitely try out Mienshao on a UU team sometime soon, because it may not last there for long!

Competitive Usability: 

  • STAB Fighting and a movepool with good coverage.
  • Great Offensive stats across the board.
  • STAB Hi Jump Kick boosted by Reckless
  • Regenerator, to make up for its frailty.
  • Very fragile.
  • Narrow Special movepool.
Verdict:  8 out of 10 

            Mienshao looks like a weasel with long, floppy hands. Its coloration and design are also rather unconventional for a Fighting type. The good thing about all of this is that Mienshao is pretty unique, both as a Fighting type and as a Pokemon in general. The bad is that it’s actually kinda creepy, and I’m not entirely sure what type of look its designers were really trying to depict.
Aesthetic Design:  6 out of 10

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Competitive Battling Spotlight #36: Old Pokemon Ten

The most huggable of all Water/Ground types, Quagsire!

Tier: RU (as of July 2012)

H.P.: 95
Attk: 85
Def.: 85
Sp.A: 65
Sp.D: 65
Spe:  35


Damp: Prevents the opponent from using the move Selfdestruct or Explosion. Also prevents damage from Aftermath. Not a good ability in 5th gen. Not too many Pokemon use Explosion anymore because of its drop in power from last generation, and even if it was used often, the most prominent Exploders reside in the upper tiers anyway. Furthermore, the only Pokemon with Aftermath (Skuntank, Electrode, Garbodor) are also RU at best, meaning there’s not too much of a need for this ability. Plus, Quagsire’s other two are far superior.

Water Absorb: Restores 1/4 of HP when hit by a Water type move. This was Quagsire’s prime ability in 4th gen, and for good reason. Becoming immune to the ever-common Water type attack is quite the blessing, though this ability is probably optimized on much bulkier things. Still, Water Absorb is a great defensive ability on a decent defensive Pokemon. Also, because there are strong Water Pokemon in just about every tier, you will never find yourself at a huge loss for using it.

Unaware: Ignores opponent’s stat boosts. Quagsire’s best ability, in my opinion. With its great defensive typing, stats, and movepool, Quagsire really makes for an excellent Unaware abuser, becoming able to shrug off boosts from any tier’s top threats. With Scald’s chance for Burn and reasonably good bulk, Quagsire becomes an easy counter to just about any non-Grass type Physical attacker. You should definitely try Unaware Quagsire if your team struggles with powerful setup sweepers.


            Due to its bulk, good typing and decent movepool for a wall, Quagsire has always been a good defensive Pokemon in the lower tiers. Unfortunately, however, with Swampert being better in generally every single aspect, however, it always ended up falling to the likes of NeverUsed.
            When Black and White came about, however, a lot changed for the mud fish. These changes came in the form of two seemingly minor additions to its build that proved to be much greater at second glance. With Unaware, Quagsire now had the ability stop boosting sweepers cold, a problem it could never effectively deal with before. Additionally, with the new move Scald carrying a nice 30% chance to inflict a Burn on the target, as well as that hefty base 95 HP and 85 Defense, Quagsire’s usability really soared in the generation shift.

            Of course, Quagsire retains some major problems, as can be expected. While its typing only has one weakness, it is a quadruple weakness to a type that encompasses some of the best utility Pokemon in the games. With thorns like Celebi, Virizion, Roserade and Shaymin being used very often in the upper tiers, Quagsire’s biggest problem remains being able to beat these Pokemon that can force switches, catch a team member with Leech Seed, and/or set up entry hazards. Amoongus is also a deadly threat to Quagsire and teammates as with Spore and STAB Giga Drain it can force Quagsire out while putting another team member to sleep. It’s definitely recommended that you carry a Grass-killer on your teams if you’re running Quag.

            Quagsire’s bulk is also a bit subpar when compared to tanks like Swampert, Gastrodon and Milotic. As a Water/Ground type, it ignores the Electric type weakness that most other Waters suffer from, yet it doesn’t provide as much utility and power as Swampert, nor does it serve to wall dominant Weather threats in OU like Gastrodon. Still, the ability to effectively stall out weaker setup sweepers should not be ignored.

Now sitting comfortably in the RU tier, Quagsire has become one of those few lowly-used Pokemon that can be quite efficient in just about every single tier (yes, even OU!). From experience I’ve found that, with its newfound ability to ignore the power of certain threats and still use moves like Toxic, Yawn and Encore to beat stall, Quagsire remains a true quagmire of the competitive Pokemon metagame, and should not be overlooked in the category of bulky Water types.


Potential Sets:

1. Curse That Blue Blob! (Standard Curse)
    252 HP/4 Atk/252 SpDef
    Careful @ Leftovers/
    -Waterfall/Stone Edge

            This is the most standard Curse set for Quagsire, as with Unaware and a good amount of Physical bulk it becomes able to win against many opposing bulky setup-ers. After a few Curses, Quagsire will be able to take hits from just about any Physical Attacker to cross its pond. Waterfall and Earthquake together have decent coverage, though if you’d like better coverage at the cost of one less STAB move, Stone Edge may be used to hit certain other threats that don’t mind Water/Ground type moves.

            Of course, this set loses easily to any Grass type ever, and super powerful Special Attackers are a pain too, so team support is vital. Braviary makes a good teammate here, as with its sheer power on a Choice Scarf set, it can plow through just about every Grass Pokemon in RU and below, while still being able to down most Special Attackers.

            You can opt to use this set (the same exact spread) in UU and OU as well, though, of course the team support will be different. Try considering which threats in those tiers will cause problems for Quag and continue by patching up holes accordingly.

2. A Twist in the Curse  
    252 HP/4 Atk/252 SpDef
    Careful @ Chesto Berry / Leftovers

            This set deviates a bit from the standard Curse set, and puts more of an emphasis on pumping up Quagsire’s subpar Special Defense in addition to its already good Defense. This means that once Grass types are eliminated, Quagsire will be able to wall and setup up against almost anything.
            Another problem that the standard set has that this one attempts to fix is status ailments. Burn and Poison are real downers to any sweeper (and any tank, for that matter), so by employing the Resto strategy, Quagsire’s longevity will be essentially guaranteed after its put enough defensive boosts under its belt. Of course Water Absorb Pokemon and Bulky Waters in general will be annoying, so maybe  running a heavy-hitting Electric or Grass type will help you in the long run.

            I have used this set in OU/UU before, and I can assure you that I’ve achieved more sweeps with it than you or I would either believe. Kind of a gimmicky set, but once you have an Amnesia or two up, you can start picking things off after a Curse or more.

3. Physical Wall  
    252 HP/252 Def/4 SpDef
    Relaxed @ Leftovers
            This is probably Quagsire’s most common set, and for good reason. By now all of the above mentioned assets should be pretty clear and I’ll spare you the redundancy by not explaining how this set works in depth.
            Just send it in on any physical attacker or wall of sorts and utilize the appropriate move. Works well in any tier.
            Additionally, you may run Ice Beam to replace either Scald or Earthquake in order to catch Grass types as they switch in for some decent damage.

4. Yawning is Contagious (Pseudo Phazer)   
    252 HP/252 Def/6 SpDef
    Relaxed @ Leftovers

            This set takes advantage of the usual list of assets by utilizing a different type of set that Quagsire can shine with. With Yawn, entry hazards, and a good amount of prediction, Quagsire can really bring down entire teams by crippling their main threats. Essentially this set is amazing; using Quagsire’s good bulk, typing and ability, send it in against something that won’t really like going up against it (like Claydol or Magneton, etc). Then, by predicting who the opponent will send in, you are free to go for a Yawn on the switch, essentially forcing out the next threat, lest they be put to sleep.

With entry hazards up, this set can really do work by getting a significant amount of residual damage on their incoming threats. The EVs and the rest of the moveset are yours to decide, though Max HP and Defense are probably best since Quag’s Special Defense is so low you’ll probably want to either max it or ignore it. Stockpile

5. Choice BandSire!
    252 Hp/252 Atk/4 SpDef
    Adamant @ Choice Band
    -Stone Edge    
    -Return/Body Slam    

             This set, in comparison to the others, is probably best used in RU and NU for a bit of a surprise factor. With a decent base 85 Attack and pretty good STAB + coverage moves, Quagsire is a surprisingly good user of the Choice Band, where it can hit many things hard while still being able to handle sweepers with its bulk.



           Quagsire is not the best Pokemon out there. As both a bulky tank and a physical wall it is outclassed by a good many things. However, with its good typing and unique ability, it really fills a niche in the competitive metagame that not too many things can. It can prevent your team from being swept by an attacker that relies heavily on Swords Dance or Dragon Dance, while still retaining an ability to support its teammates. It is definitely a universal Pokemon that is quite underrated at the moment.

Competitive Usability: 

  • Good physical bulk + Scald
  • Good typing with only one weakness
  • Unaware
  • Subpar stats overall
  • 4x Weakness to the common Grass type
  • No offensive presence without Choice Band or Curse
Verdict:  7 out of 10 

            Ok, Quagsire’s appeal is much worse than its competitive viability. In terms of design, Quagsire easily comes off as dim-witted and simple-minded. Plus, it’s painfully basic, with only about 3 different color schemes and a blobby, under-detailed body design. It’s never really been one of my favorites in terms of looks.
            But I shouldn’t be too harsh on the little mud fish. Perhaps that Quagsire is simple is instead a good thing. He’s always smiling, which not too many Pokemon (especially those OU-ers) are capable of, and his most recent sprite art depicts him opening his arms out in anticipation of a hug. Maybe he is a little cute.  
Aesthetic Design:  6 out of 10