Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Competitive Battling Spotlight #34: Old Pokemon Nine

Sableye, the Darkness Pokemon; a true gem.


Tier: UU (as of January 2012) 

H.P.: 50
Attk: 75
Def.: 75
Sp.A: 65
Sp.D: 65
Spe:  50

Keen Eye: Prevents Accuracy from being lowered. This ability really doesn’t help Sableye out much. With Accuracy-lowering moves like Sand Attack and Flash being pretty much nonexistent (if not banned) in the competitive scene, you really won’t be benefitting much from Keen Eye. What’s more, Sableye has a way better option to go for in terms of ability that makes its horrendous stats seem surprisingly worthwhile.

Stall: This Pokemon will always attack last. 50 base Speed should be enough to tell you that this ability is pretty much useless on Sableye. It will basically force you to become slower than the likes of even Snorlax and Ferroseed. The benefits of that, you ask? There are none. STAB Payback with the promise of always attacking last, and thus always hitting with 100 Power, is cancelled out by the fact that Sab has an atrocious base 75 Attack (its highest stat) and nothing else to back it up. Stall is so bad, even Keen Eye is better.

Prankster: Gives priority to moves that do no damage (i.e. Taunt, Recover, Sunny Day, etc). If abilities could be incarnated into the form of an animate being, Prankster would be the hero and savior of Sableye’s world, protecting it from the flaming depths of the lowest rung on the usage ladder. In layman’s terms, Prankster makes Sableye worth a second glance, even despite his awful stats. It is for this reason alone that Sableye has soared from the nether-depths of NU to the highly efficient fields of UU all in the matter of a generation shift. With Prankster, Sab becomes a king of stall, and stall breaking, in its own right, outwitting otherwise faster and more powerful threats, and stopping them cold before much can be done. Haxorus giving your team problems with its powerful Outrages? Priority Will-O-Wisp can fix that. Don’t want Roserade setting up multiple layers of Spikes and then putting one of your teammates to sleep? Taunt will stop it before it can even twirl a petal. In short, Prankster is an amazing asset added to Sableye’s repertoire, and with a pretty varied support movepool and absolutely no weaknesses, Sableye can utilize it very appropriately and very effectively. It makes a bad Pokemon good.


            I could save you time from reading a super long and unnecessary intro by saying that pretty much all there is to be said about Sableye is explained in the “Prankster” section above. Basically, Sableye has all the markings of a decent Pokemon; great typing that yields no “It’s super effective!’s” in battle and a movepool that grants it enough coverage and support options to do work. What made Sableye bad in prior generations, however, was its painfully low stat spread. No real offensive or defensive presence made all these great assets seem wasted, while its two ability choices did nothing at all to help.

            Prankster allows for the successful boasting of this decent movepool, and while its stats are still no better, the fact that it can now make itself useful before the opponent is able to make a move is something to be celebrated. Usable in both OU and UU, Sableye is a gimmick-turned-staller that can add some unique and efficiently annoying support to almost any and every team. It’s still not amazing, but it works.

Potential Sets:

1. Small Wall
    252 Hp/252 Def/6 SpDef
    Impish @ Iron Ball/Leftovers
    -Trick/Torment/Foul Play  

            With all of Sableye’s assets, it really has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with some of today’s most monstrous Physical Attackers in both the UU and OU tier. For this reason, this set specializes as a Physical Wall and Sweep-Stopper. With max HP, max Defense and priority Will-O-Wisp, shutting down common Scarf/Banders like Flygon and Dragonite won’t be much of a problem at all, and with Taunt certain set-uppers like Dragon Dance D-nite and Bisharp can be easily shut down before they get a chance to do much.

            Unfortunately, however, not all Physical threats can be softened with this set. Most prominently of all, Fire types, who are immune to being burned with WoW, can come in and threaten Sableye, even with max HP and Defence. Furthermore, powerful Special Attackers can be a huge pain to Sab, as this set is not in the least designed to take hits from the weaker Defensive stat. So if you don’t have too much else on your team that can deal with Fire types and/or Special Attackers, Trick may be employed in the last slot, and an Iron Ball may be equipped for the ability to Trick faster threats and slow them down, crippling them indefinitely. If these don’t seem as much of a problem to your team, Torment can be used to stop powerhouses from spamming the same move over and over, while Foul Play can be used to further counter Physical Attackers by using their own power against them, with STAB.  

2. Wall Stall  
    252 HP/120 Def/136 SpDef
    Careful @ Leftovers
    -Mean Look/Taunt/Protect
    -Night Shade/Taunt/Protect  

            This set is used as a more standardized means of trapping and finishing your opponent’s walls so that your sweepers can have a much easier time plowing through. The EV spread here is pretty standard, as it gives Sab a good chance to take hits well from both sides of the offensive spectrum, and with priority Recover, longevity is optimized. Toxic is again to wear down bulky monsters more efficiently, as in at most eight turns they will be downed due to the gradual increase in Poison damage.

            The last two moveslots can make this set all the more interesting and unique if played correctly. If you are confident that your opponent is not too offensively inclined and cannot destroy Sableye easily, you may choose Mean Look to keep them from switching, giving you the edge and the appropriate amount of time to stall them out. With the inability to switch out and reset the Poison counter and Night Shade to continuously sap them of 100 HP every turn, it shouldn’t be hard to finish them off and get a sweep going with one of your more powerful offensive members. However, if you’d like to forego Night Shade for the ability to prevent them from recovering with Taunt, that can be an effective strategy as well, though you’ll miss out on the added damage Night Shade can provide. Lastly, in the place of either of these slots, Protect may be used to give you an extra turn while adding to their Poison counter, though you won’t have any other means of killing them other than Toxic. Mean Look/Taunt/Night Shade are preferred in any of the aforementioned combinations.

3. The Prankster
    252 HP/120 Def/136 SpDef
    Careful @ Leftovers
    -Confuse Ray
    -Mean Look/Knock Off/Toxic
            I think this spread is truly deserving of the title “Prankster”, as it has the potential to be one of the most annoying sets out there. Simply put, with priority on both Attract and Confuse Ray, you can have your opponent screaming in frustration in no time. Plus, with Recover for yourself, you can heal off any damage you happen to take while they are likely to miss more often than they can land an attack.

            Mean Look is a good option for trapping weaker threats that can’t fell Sableye easily, though Confuse Ray won’t be damaging your opponent too much. For this reason, Toxic or Night Shade can be used to add to the damage your opponent takes each turn. Knock Off is also there to strip them of their Leftovers, furthering in their frustration.

            If you do choose Mean Look, it might be nice to have entry hazard and/or Toxic Spike support so that you have an easier time finishing your foe. Paralysis support may also help, as with Attraction, Confusion and Paralysis, your opponent will only have about a 10% chance of landing a hit! That’s pretty damn annoying.

4. Diamonds in the Sun 
    252 HP/120 Def/136 SpDef
    Careful @ Heat Rock/Leftovers
    -Sunny Day
    -Night Shade/Foul Play

            This is a little more of a gimmicky set, but can work wonders in UU where permanent sun is long gone. Essentially this is a sun-summoner to aid in the abuse of Chlorophyllers like Sawsbuck, Tangrowth, Leafeon, or Charizard (who has Solar Power). With Prankster, Sunny Day will always go first, except against other priority users. However, as Sableye is immune to Extremespeed, Mach Punch, and basically Sucker Punch (as most of Sab’s moves are not attacking moves), it is safe to say you’re almost guaranteed to get the Sun up at least once per match. Heat Rock also prolongs this effect for three extra turns, giving your Sun sweepers more of an edge.

            For recovery, Moonlight is superior to Recover in the sun, as with the Sun up it heals 2/3 of Sab’s HP, as opposed to half. This is a great way to get a lot of HP back, prolonging your life and ensuring you set up Sunny Day more and more. The only downside to Moonlight is that it has about half as much PP as Recover, but again this can be reconciled.

            The last two slots are for residual and solid damage, respectively. Toxic is good for long term, while WoW can cripple some sweepers. Likewise, Night Shade gets solid damage on everything while Foul Play hits harder against more powerful threats. The choice is yours.

5. Calm Mind  
    252 Hp/252 Def/6 SpDef
    Bold @ Leftovers
    -Calm Mind
    -Will-O-Wisp/Hidden Power Fighting
    -Shadow Ball   

             On a Pokemon with such disgusting offensive stats, the last thing you’d expect of it would be a sweeper set. However, certain attributes, most notably Prankster and its typing, make Sableye a decent, albeit gimmicky, user of Calm Mind.

            Priority CM can allow you to get a +1 Sp.Def boost before your opponent strikes, giving you a bit of an edge over them. Furthermore, with priority Recover you can heal off all damage taken and absorb hits more easily after a few boosts. Shadow Ball is the primary offensive STAB here, as it hits nearly all of UU’s top 10 for at least neutral damage, and with the abundance of Psychic and Ghost types in the tier can really punch holes through teams with enough boosts. If you’d like the coverage and ability to hit Normal types, as well as being able to hit everything for at least neutral damage, you may use HP Fighting in the last slot. However, Will-O-Wisp allows you to take Physical hits much better and offers some residual damage, though the loss in coverage is notable.

            Sableye won’t be hitting very hard right away, but with patience, team support and enough turns of Calm Mind setup, you’ll have a sweeper on your hands that no one would ever see coming.


            Sableye is easily one of the most improved Pokemon from 4th to 5th gen. It has sucked ever since its release in Ruby/Sapphire, despite its cool-looking design. Prankster has finally given it potential with its awesome typing and decent movepool, as is evident in its immediate rise to the UU tier. It’s also very usable in OU with the predominance of physical attackers and fast sweepers.

            Still, Sableye is not perfect. Its stats are still begging for improvement (possibly through evolution) that is unlikely ever to come for it. And despite its decent support capabilities with Prankster, it is by no means a primed wall and can still die off to some of the more powerful hits in the tiers. But Sableye is good and can be effective on any type of team, against many common Pokemon. Try it out for yourself; it truly is a very annoying Pokemon for opponents to face.

Competitive Usability: 
  •  Prankster
  • A typing that yields no weaknesses.
  • Quite expansive support movepool.
  • Decent offensive movepool.
  • Low HP stat, very low defensive stats.
  • Very slow.
  • Poor offensive stats.
Verdict:  8.5 out of 10 

            When I first picked up Pokemon Ruby, and my brother Pokemon Sapphire, I was disappointed to find that the cool-looking jewel-ghost was only available in his game. And what was my compensation for this? A petite, ponytail-jaw yellow freak?
Ok, so I’ve never liked Mawile, but that’s not the point. Sableye is pretty intriguing. It’s small, which makes you think it probably should evolve, but those piercing diamond eyes and that elflike stature have always appealed to my more sinister aesthetics. Maybe because I love Dark type Pokemon, Sableye is a pinnacle for Ghost types everywhere. A truly awesome pinnacle.
Aesthetic Design:  9 out of 10


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