Welcome to the sixth installment of Pokemon of the Week! This week we will be shifting the spotlight onto the Darkness Pokemon, Sableye!
In gen 3, Sableye was notable for being the first and only Pokemon to have absolutely no type weaknesses. Just hearing that conjures mental images of a powerful, beastly Pokemon that can rip the arms off a Rhydon. However, what we got was a mischievous imp with diamonds for eyes. Outside of novelty, no one ever used Sableye seriously in competitive matches, and it had little use in life other than making Brawly look like a chump.
While Sableye's awful stats and shallow movepool have held it back, Sableye has found a new lease on life in gen 5. Prankster gives Sableye +1 priority to all non-damaging attacks, bypassing Sableye's poor Speed stat, as well as giving it an attack that relies on the opponent's Attack stat, rather than its own. These two things haven't pushed it to top-tier threat, but it is something that is not to be under-estimated, as it can completely cripple entire teams with mischievous pranks!
Sableye has risen from the depths of NU to a comfortable UU tier this generation, but is more than capable of competing in OU as well. One of Sableye's flaws is that it is fairly predictable and it has really bad stats in every aspect, but this doesn't mean that switching into it is always easy, and with the right prediction and team support, it can be very hard to bring down.
Calm nature (+Sp. Defense, -Attack)
EVs: 252 HP / 120 Defense / 136 Sp. Defense
Foul Play / Night Shade / Sunny Day
This is Sableye's best set in UU, and it works very well. Will-O-Wisp gives you a priority Burn attack, instantly ruining any non-Fire type physical attacker before they can attack you. This alone will drive out the likes of Flygon, Rhyperior, Machamp, and most other physical attackers in the UU tier. Be very careful that your opponent doesn't have Heracross on the Team Preview, because a Burnt Choice Scarf Guts Heracross could easily completely destroy your entire team. Recover is obvious for keeping Sableye healthy, and even Recover gets boosted +1 priority by Prankster, so Sableye can keep taking those hits that are dealing less than 57% per turn, due to Recover and Leftovers. Taunt is fairly obvious, as it keeps Sableye from being walled by, well, walls. Without their healing moves and Toxic to wear Sableye down, they're forced to attack. If those attacks are physical, they run the risk of being Burnt, so this can really present a major problem for opponents.
In the last slot, you have two main options. Foul Play gets STAB and uses the opponent's Attack stat to damage them, rather then Sableye's pathetic Attack stat, which can be really helpful against opposing Darmanitan coming in to take your Will-o-Wisp and wreck havoc with Flare Blitz. It's also really helpful against Victini, who is also weak against it. Night Shade, on the other hand, provides consistant 100 damage against all opponents, and can help you win those stall wars against opposing walls who've been Taunted into attacking while you Recover the damage off. Both are good options, and the choice is a matter of preference, as well as what your team has more trouble with.
Sunny Day should only be considered in OU, and only revealed when the oppenent's Tyranitar or has been killed off, and only in you're not using a team with conflicting weather. Sunny Day is meant to just remove their weather (especially useful vs. Rain teams that rely on Rain boosted Water type moves, which will be weakned under Sunlight) to take away their advantage. This can backfire, however, against Sun teams, making one of your four moves useless. If you're going with Sunny Day, make sure it isn't detrimental to your own team, and make sure you have something to deal with Chlorophyll Pokemon like Venusaur and Lilligant.
Capturing a Sableye in BW can be done in Challenger's Cave, but the only redeeming quality about Sableye is Prankster, so it is recommended that you get one from the Dream World, which can be found in Spooky Manor. Raising a Sableye in-game is actually... very difficult and not recommended. In competitive, Sableye provides wonderful Burn support for the team, but has little in the way of a real offensive presence, the only thing that really matters for in-game battles. Still, if you're dead-set on using one in-game, I'd suggest this:
Foul Play is good for attacking Pokemon with a high Attack stat, to maximize damage output. Shadow Claw is your secondary STAB, for hitting weaker Pokemon. Zen Headbutt hits Fighting types mainly, while Brick Break is for Steel and Normal types. Sableye really doesn't have much else it really can do, and there are many better options to use in-game.
Sableye is really cool. It's a tiny imp with diamond eyes that loves nothing more than to cause mischief, and this is represented by how good it has gotten with the Prankster ability. When the fourth generation came around, everyone forgot about Sableye, focusing on how much better Spiritomb was (which was only marginally better, suffering from no recovery move). Sableye has been under-rated all of its life, but do not under-estimate it; it's more than capable of crippling your entire team, and will keep your physical attackers constantly switching out in fear of the fastest Burn in the world, and you'll frequently find it on many of my own teams.
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