Pokémon Metagame Analysis: DPP – Chapter 1.1
Months before leaving the competitive scene in 2013 I had begun having my doubts about the long term playability of a stale DPP metagame. The metagame had come to a grinding halt, partly due to a loss of DPP players, and of the interest, the ideas and vigour that they bring. Another factor was the lack of tournaments in which the metagame features. It’s mainly played on Smogon and Nintendo no longer caters to its older generation players. However, a breath of new life was injected into the metagame after the introduction of several Smogon trophy tournaments which feature its play including the premier league and the championship series.
Since returning, I have been astounded by the rejuvenation undergone by the new metgame, at the hand of a mixture of new and old. Users from French, Brazilian, Spanish and other Pokémon forums have begun a slow migration to websites such as Smogon, bringing with them a rich and diverse pool of ideas. Among these, I have posted a couple of sets which stood out to me. These sets are deeply connected to each-other and the majority of changes that the metagame has undergone.
Related set: Breloom Spore + 3 Attacks
Breloom @ Toxic Orb
Ability: Poison Heal
EVs: 236 HP / 252 Atk / 20 Spe
– Facade / Superpower / Stone Edge
– Seed Bomb
– Mach Punch
This set rising into favourable usage is quite striking. It differs from the old DPP sets built to stay around after a set up (Seed Bomb / Focus Punch / Substitute / Spore) and opts instead for a combination of Brelooms strengths. The set uses Mach Punch which offers a quick solution against weakened Tyranitar, Heatran, Empoleon and picks off many other Pokémon besides using its high 130 base attack stat. Facade / Superpower / Stone Edge are picked based on the teams needs, and paired with Seed Bomb makes up a high BP combo of moves which Breloom ustilises especially for the hammering of switch ins caused by its Spore.
How has it impacted the metagame?
The prominence of Breloom on many teams has lead to a new team archetype coming into form. This can be broken down into a 3 Pokémon core of Gliscor / Celebi / Clefable. It originated like most good music of our time with the Aussie’s, specifically with the magician known otherwise as Earthworm, who first featured it in a team with Tyranitar, Magnezone, Clefable, Bronzong, Celebi, Gliscor. The concept was themed around outlasting the enemy in typical Stall fashion, but without the use of hazards. It achieved this end with immediate consistent sand damage from a bulky Tyranitar, with Stealth Rock and through the team itself being so anti-hazard with no SR weaknesses, 2 resists, and only one Pokémon struck by sand. Bronzong provides support, and Celebi offers a win condition with a CM / Recover set that also doubles as a Breloom counter. Clefable uses Knock Off to rid opponents of their prized items on switch in, and further the punishment of sand for the once leftover carrying switch.
Now, Earthworm’s is a fine team. A great team, in the right hands. Now if I were to use it, I’d probably quit 25 turns in out of sheer BOREDOM. That’s because whilst it’s perfect for a patient and calculating player like Earthworm, many of us find greater thrill in a more aggressive strategy and build. Many players who share this view begun editing this team archetype. Following the ban of Sand Veil Gliscor in DPP OU (see our article on: the Smogon tiering system) the popularity of Clefable teams suffered a huge blow. Many players opted instead for a Breloom core, perhaps driven by the French influx because of a more welcoming Smogon. With French forums once banning the mushroom, they knew of its strength better than most. The champignons power to ward off all but CM Ice Beam Clefable sets was surely another factor. Breloom stands up to consistent SR and Sand damage, and by not cutting its health with substitute the Breloom user will usually opt for a hit ‘n run style. This can lead to high tempo games, not favoured by more strategically oriented players or those playing with slow teams.
Even in the 2017 metagame this style is prominent. I recently encountered a similar team in SPL; blind to the last set of CM Celebi for the duration of the game vs Sauga in SPL I suffered a nasty shock near the end of the game. The team is held up by Knock Off Clefable, Sand and Hazards from Tyranitar and Skarmory. By covering a weakness to Breloom with Celebi/Gliscor it creates a solid defensive set up.
Related set: Clefable Utility with Knock Off
Clefable @ Leftovers
Ability: Magic Guard
EVs: 252 HP / 96 Def / 156 SpD / 4 Spe
– Thunder Wave
– Seismic Toss
– Knock Off
Clefable suffers no damage from hazards or weather because of it’s magic guard. The EVs on this set aim to make for a reliable bulky switch in to a large number of common special sweepers, whilst still maintaining a natural physical bulk. Thunder Wave spreads around status, often abused by a slow but strong Choice Bander such as Tyranitar, and or a Substitute Breloom. Seismic Toss provides reliable damage and Knock Off furthers punishment for switching Pokémon by stripping them of their item.
How it has affected the metagame
Paralysis abuse has been gradually occupying a bigger place in the DPP metagame. The powerful status ailment will slow and frustrate enemy Pokémon as they struggle to get their attacks through. Pair this with weather, stealth rocks and whatever hazards may be up and the psychological toll against the enemy becomes tremendous. Teams like this often feature Clefable paired with a weather user (notably Sauga popularised the Abomasnow in recent tournaments), a Thunder Wave / Body Slam Jirachi, and a Starmie to eliminate hazards on the players home field. A bulky set up sweeper is usually added to the mix for a late game sweep and a Tyranitar is banded to wring the most out of the Thunder Waves, trap spin blockers and create sand.
This style often features an offensive lure to tempt in prey against which Breloom can be unleashed. Pokémon such as Zapdos attract Swampert and Tyranitar, or others such as Starmie have utility and offer defensive synergy with Breloom. Rotom offers similar perks, and is common in a more recent switch of the Clefable team type towards greater bulk. This is accomplished by adding a Nidoqueen and/or a Skarmory to add hazards and check Breloom. It is a stable team structure with the addition of a bulky water you end with a team such as: Tyranitar/Clefable/Nidoqueen/Starmie/Skarmory(?)/Rotom – X. These teams predominantly struggle against offensive archetypes that include Infernape, Specs or Rain Dance Kingdra’s, or Magneton trapper and set up teams.
In the 2017 DPP metagame we see a fusion of paralysis, sand, Clefable and Breloom on many top tier teams, and this looks set to continue until more aggressive strategies exploiting the fad build up. My own recommendations for beating this style involve Specs Heatran, who will tear down most Clefable teams with relative ease, LO Sub/Split Gengar who terrorises and sets up on Clefable, and mixed Infernape who is sure to tear down some walls. With the rise of slow, Bold Starmie sets the latter two sets are even more fearsome than usual.
In next weeks analysis we will discuss some more aggressively orientated team archetypes, go through a few ‘model’ teams for DPP that best describe the metagame as it stands, and cover some tips for the upcoming DPP tournaments on Smogon.