Back to the Lab: The Importance of Filling the Gaps in Your Team
What’s up PUCL, It’s your man with the Donphan, Aero. And we’re back in the lab again to pick up where we left off last week, discussing the key concepts of how to build cores and what synergy can look like. As I alluded to earlier, even the best cores can struggle against a single Pokemon, or a particular type that sports excellent offensive or defensive coverage. This is where the idea of glue comes into play.
For the sake of not having to plug another picture of Chansey reading upside down, I’ll assume you know what the adhesive substance is. But how does this factor into team building? Well..
It May Look Good On Paper..
To recognize the flaws in an otherwise well composed team,It’s going to take some prior experience through the metagame you’re playing to understand what it struggles against. Offensively speaking, this can mean that your team struggles against a combination of super effective moves that you wouldn’t normally anticipate on a single Pokemon, thereby creating issues for your core. Let’s take one of the more prominent examples of such a threat into account. Here’s a very solid core seen in OU.
Having great defensive synergy, this core splashes very well into balance or bulky offense teams, with its ability to deal with common threats like Tapu Lele, Mega Charizard X, and Ash Greninja. However, a Pokemon that utilizes psychic, grass, and fire moves could break this core with ease after, say, one quiver dance. What is this mysterious monstrosity? It’s none other than the Molten Mothra herself, Volcarona.
Volcarona @ Psychium Z
Ability: Flame Body
252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Quiver Dance
– Fire Blast
– Hidden Power Ground
Although this great ball of fire saw play in ORAS OU, Z-Moves have truly defined this Pokemon’s incredible wall-breaking potential. The Psychium Z set presents problems to many otherwise sturdy cores, as with +1 Special Attack, Shattered Psyche cleanly KO’s Mega Venusaur, putting Tapu Fini in 2HKO range, and of course wiping Celesteela off the map with a well-placed fire blast. Let’s not forget the other issue on the table. With the +1 Speed given by quiver dance, it hits 492 Speed, outpacing the entire un-scarfed metagame, and even many Scarfed mons’ who are under base 100 speed. So this is our problem; and this is when you need to add a little glue
The Ace in the Hole
We have our threat identified, now we apply the glue to patch that hole up. We need something that can threaten Volcarona, ideally out speed it, and KO it without having to worry about the special defense boost it receives when quivering up. Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite sixth Pokemon: Choice Scarfed Nihilego
Nihilego @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Power Gem
– Sludge Wave
– Hidden Power Ice
Nihilego checks off a lot of the boxes we need when countering Volcarona. It has a naturally higher base speed at 103, meaning that even after +1 quiver dance, our intergalactic jellyfish can outpace it with a scarf. It can live both one psychic and one hidden power ground (un-boosted) thanks to its stellar special defense. Most importantly, however, it has power gem, which allows it to OHKO Volcarona even after +1 SpDef. Nihilego also functions well as a check to Charizard-Y, a powerful wall breaker mentioned in our previous article, for the same reasons it handles Volc: a 4x super effective move and its ability to eat all its offensive coverage. Just as a precaution, it should be noted that charti berry Volcarona also sees play, allowing it to take one power gem after a quiver boost and KO with hidden power ground. With a bulky stealth rocker on your team, this can allow Nihilego to get a guaranteed KO.
Glue doesn’t always necessarily fill the same role in every scenario. For a team that is more passive and defensive, something that can revenge kill faster offensive sweepers is ideal. Other teams (such as rain) may find it difficult to put a dent through stall, so a stall-breaker may fit best in that spot. We’ll take a deeper dive into stall at a later date, but I will say that additions to stall such as Mega-Sableye and Dugtrio mean that simply packing a Pokemon with taunt won’t be a safe answer anymore. Here’s one possible brew to keep in mind:
Alakazam-Mega @ Alakazite
Ability: Magic Guard
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Dazzling Gleam
– Focus Blast
– Knock Off
Greninja-Ash (M) @ Choice Specs
Ability: Battle Bond
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Dark Pulse
– Hydro Pump
– Water Shuriken
The unique addition of knock off on Mega Alakazam adds some surprising utility, crucially removing items like Chansey’s eviolite or Dugtrio’s focus sash. It can that proceed to 2HKO the majority of the standard stall team, with Greninja being an excellent addition as a late game sweeper, clearing the physically defensive side of your opponent’s walls. As a final note, I would also recommend experimenting with unexpected Z-Moves on various offensive threats. Provided you have the damage calc to back it up, sometimes these 1-trick ponies can swing the momentum in your favor, breaking strong cores and allowing the rest of your team more opportunities for the win.
Glue is just as important in putting your science project together as it is in building a team; every build has a strong foundation, but you’ll always need that final touch-up to really make it stand the test of time (or the metagame). Just as a quick clarification, glue Pokemon can be defensive, but for the purposes of this article (and frankly how the OU meta has been shaping up) I felt that showing offensive team members demonstrated the examples a bit better. A special shoutout to Mega Venusaur and Tangrowth, two fantastic bulky grass types that take on a variety of threats, have access to recovery, and still manage to dish out respectable damage. Remember no matter what your sixth Pokemon turns out to be, make sure you identify what its role is, what issues it’s addressing, and how well it can perform compared to other possible contenders. As with last week, go ahead and let me know what your go-to team member is for that final slot, and why you like to use it!
Next time we’re going to be making a list and checking it twice, learning how and why having a checklist for the tiers you play can not only help you build teams more consistently, but even create opportunities to make innovative sets while you’re at it.
Bouncing for now, It’s Aero