Gen 8 OU Banded Ace With a Balanced Breakfast

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I posted this team over on the Smogon forums a day or so ago, but so far I have yet to receive a response. Might as well post it here as well! More feedback, the better, after all!

Greetings, everyone! Are you tired of Cinderace seemingly only using Bulk Up Boots after Libero was released?

Are you tired of having Cinderace's sweep cut short by a stray Zen Headbutt/status/what have you?

Are you tired of seeing the fact that the soccer rabbit's Hidden Ability refers to a defensive position in volleyball?

Well, I have good news for you! It's still Libero Cinderace, but utilizing the massive 116 base Attack that someone thought it was a good idea to have on a Starter Pokemon! This team is a bit of an experiment more than anything, and it has given me stunning results so far. I just want to give this balanced offensive team a bit more fine-tuning, especially for later.

THE TEAMBUILDING PROCESS
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Cinderace @ Choice Band
Ability: Libero
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Pyro Ball
- High Jump Kick
- U-turn
- Zen Headbutt
First off, this thing. Look at its cheeky smirk, it knows it's ready to do some serious damage to your team.
Cinderace, after Libero was released, had a lot of offensive potential unlocked, freeing it from the shackles of only being a utility Pokemon. To capitalize on the raw power it can dish out, I gave it a Choice Band and a Jolly nature, to maximize its speed in order to counter certain faster leads. Cinderace's role is a simple one, but one it does very well: Punch holes into the opposing team. Pyro Ball and High Jump Kick are some of the most damaging moves in the game, and with base 90 accuracy on both, it's very, very rare that this misses. Gunk Shot is a potential alternative for High Jump Kick, allowing Cinderace to heavily dent Grimmsnarl, if not outright kill it should the football rabbit get a critical hit. Finally, I took Zen Headbutt for coverage, and U-Turn in case there's a Pokemon on the other end that I can't easily deal with, like Toxapex.

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Toxapex @ Black Sludge
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Haze
- Scald
- Toxic Spikes
- Recover
Speaking of Toxapex, here it is!
Toxapex's role is somewhat more complex. It is designated to spread hazards, stop setup sweepers with Haze, and tank special attacks which few other Pokemon on my team could. It is a giant damage sponge, with a Calm Nature to maximize its special bulk and Scald to stop physical sweepers in their tracks, like Excadrill or Bulk Up Libero Cinderace. Toxic Spikes not only breaks sashes, but it also spreads status for Dragapult to potentially abuse should all poison absorbers and threats to Dragapult be eliminated beforehand. However, while it can take a physical hit or two, that isn't really its job.
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Ferrothorn @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Impish Nature
- Body Press
- Stealth Rock
- Leech Seed
- Knock Off
Because that's Ferrothorn's job.
Ferrothorn is much like Toxapex. Spread hazards, leech seed, and instead of stopping special attackers, it stops physical attackers instead. Impish maximizes its defensive bulk, and Iron Barbs + Rocky Helmet allows it to easily switch into stray contact moves like Body Press without much issue. Knock Off gets rid of passive recovery for Toxapex, Clefable, and knocks the boots off of Rotom without Overheat, and Stealth Rocks performs a similar role to Toxic Spikes, except it instantly breaks Sash.
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Excadrill @ Focus Sash
Ability: Mold Breaker
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Earthquake
- Iron Head
- Rapid Spin
- Stealth Rock
"Now, hold on a second", you might say. "That's Excadrill's utility set, but with a Focus Sash instead of Leftovers. Why is that?"
Well, I'm glad you asked, reader who may or may not be saying that right now! Excadrill's role is to counter one of the worst things to happen to this team: Zeraora. It has other uses as well, like quickly getting rid of Toxapex and Gengar, but Zeraora is the main reason it's here. After sacrificing a Pokemon to Zeraora, Excadrill can, assuming no hazards are up, Rapid Spin to outspeed non-Choice Scarf variants and Earthquake it away. Iron Head takes care of Fairy types like Clefable, Togekiss, and Grimmsnarl, and Stealth Rock is there as an alternative set up instead of using Ferrothorn to do it/in case Ferrothorn bites the dust. Mold Breaker allows Excadrill to also break through Levitate Pokemon and Mimikyu's Disguise.
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Dragapult @ Spell Tag
Ability: Infiltrator
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
- Hex
- Will-O-Wisp
- Draco Meteor
- U-turn
Dragapult's role is to be a pivot that exploits the many hazards which are set up throughout the match, while also giving status of its own if need be. This is the normal Hex + Will-O-Wisp set, and I do find it serves the team well on the special side. Of course, it is purely blanked by Clefable, but it has U-Turn to switch out to Toxapex so it can handle whatever Clefable is throwing out. Modest nature maximizes its raw power output, and Draco Meteor is there as a last-ditch move in case it cannot status whatever is facing it.
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Clefable @ Leftovers
Ability: Magic Guard
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpA / 252 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Moonblast
- Teleport
- Wish
- Protect
And finally, what Gen 8 OU team would be complete without Wish Teleport Clefable? It needs no introduction. Wish and Teleport to support and heal other members of the team. Wish and Protect to stall out the weather, screens, and more, and Moonblast in case it needs to do damage. Countered by Ferrothorn packing Gyro Ball, but that could be used as an opportunity to sacrifice and switch out either to Cinderace, Dragapult, or Excadrill, the main offensive threats of the team.

Now then, here are some of the counters I have noted through my time testing this out:​
  • As noted before, Zeraora is a major issue facing this team, hence why I put Excadrill in. However, in the event Excadrill faints, the team in and of itself is basically screwed.​
  • Hippowdon is capable of tanking Cinderace and stalling out Ferrothorn and Toxapex due to having both weather and a better recovery move than Ferrothorn. Very dangerous to my team.​
  • Other Cinderace, should they get a Bulk Up setup, are a nightmare to deal with without Toxapex. Best option I have is to use Dragapult and hope Draco Meteor either crits or deals enough damage so my other Pokemon can deal with it. If Cinderace has Sucker Punch, it's game over.​
Overall, I hope to see this balanced offense team improve so the power of Libero Cinderace could truly be shown. With a higher Attack and Speed than the terror that was Dracovish, it has the potential to bust far greater holes than the half-and-half abomination could.

Cinderace @ Choice Band
Ability: Libero
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Pyro Ball
- High Jump Kick
- U-turn
- Zen Headbutt

Toxapex @ Black Sludge
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Haze
- Scald
- Toxic Spikes
- Recover

Ferrothorn @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Impish Nature
- Body Press
- Stealth Rock
- Leech Seed
- Knock Off

Excadrill @ Focus Sash
Ability: Mold Breaker
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Earthquake
- Iron Head
- Rapid Spin
- Stealth Rock

Dragapult @ Spell Tag
Ability: Infiltrator
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
- Hex
- Will-O-Wisp
- Draco Meteor
- U-turn

Clefable @ Leftovers
Ability: Magic Guard
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpA / 252 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Moonblast
- Teleport
- Wish
- Protect
 

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Anthrix

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I'm rusty on the OU scene, but I'd try and squeeze Sucker Punch onto Cinderace, and change Excadrill to Choice Scarf. You have Rocks on Ferrothorn anyway, and it'd give you a better revenge killer.

I'd be tempted to run Life Orb or Expert Belt on Cinderace, mostly because it would give him a better chance to clean sweep. You've got plenty of ways to reposition and stall out, and it would ease prediction as well.

As I said, I'm very rusty so I can't help with weaknesses and such, but I hope this helps!

[Edit] - I'd say I'm a relatively keen football fan (and depressed England supporter) and I have never heard of the term "Libero." I guess Centre-back or "Defensive Midfield" didn't sound that appealing for what is essentially Protean.
 
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Calaf

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This looks like an interesting team, I might give it a spin on the ladder myself tonight! I could definitely see it putting in a lot of work, but I do think Zeraora and Hippowdon could be problematic for it, as you mentioned as well. Zeraora often carries Close Combat, which means Excadrill isn't the safest check to it. You could try substituting Ferrothorn for something like bulky Rillaboom:


Rillaboom @ Leftovers
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 200 Def / 56 Spe
Impish Nature
- U-turn
- Drum Beating
- Knock Off
- Leech Seed / Taunt

It pretty much has the same functionality as your Ferrothorn (except for Stealth Rock, but Excadrill already has it and you might be able to fit it on Clefable), but it deals with both Zeraora and Hippowdon much better. If you do decide to test it out, I'd be interested to hear how it performs!

As for the football position of "libero", it's not surprising that you guys haven't really heard of it: from what I understand of it, it was quite a popular and successful defense technique in the previous century, but it's largely become obsolete in modern football in favor of techniques like zonal marking. :P
 
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Poke

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This looks like an interesting team, I might give it a spin on the ladder myself tonight! I could definitely see it putting in a lot of work, but I do think Zeraora and Hippowdon could be problematic for it, as you mentioned as well. Zeraora often carries Close Combat, which means Excadrill isn't the safest check to it. You could try substituting Ferrothorn for something like bulky Rillaboom:


Rillaboom @ Leftovers
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 200 Def / 56 Spe
Impish Nature
- U-turn
- Drum Beating
- Knock Off
- Leech Seed / Taunt

It pretty much has the same functionality as your Ferrothorn (except for Stealth Rock, but Excadrill already has it and you might be able to fit it on Clefable), but it deals with both Zeraora and Hippowdon much better. If you do decide to test it out, I'd be interested to hear how it performs!

As for the football position of "libero", it's not surprising that you guys haven't really heard of it: from what I understand of it, it was quite a popular and successful defense technique in the previous century, but it's largely become obsolete in modern football in favor of techniques like zonal marking. :P
Having decided to replace Ferrothorn with Rillaboom, I notice my performance against Zeraora and Hippowdon improved dramatically. Thank you very much for the suggestion!
 

Typhlosion

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And finally, what Gen 8 OU team would be complete without Wish Teleport Clefable?
I hate that this is true :madazurill:

I'm going to partially agree and partially disagree with Anthrix; I think Choice Band is a fine option for Cinderace and that's what I prefer to run. You've got a super-strong U-turn for pivoting, after all. That said, I second running Sucker Punch, most likely over High Jump Kick.

Since Rillaboom has improved your odds against Zeraora, would you then consider switching back to the standard Leftovers on Excadrill? Running Choice Scarf does sound like fun but without Ferrothorn, you would need Excadrill to be your Rocker.
 

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And finally, what Gen 8 OU team would be complete without Wish Teleport Clefable?
I hate that this is true :madazurill:

I'm going to partially agree and partially disagree with Anthrix; I think Choice Band is a fine option for Cinderace and that's what I prefer to run. You've got a super-strong U-turn for pivoting, after all. That said, I second running Sucker Punch, most likely over High Jump Kick.

Since Rillaboom has improved your odds against Zeraora, would you then consider switching back to the standard Leftovers on Excadrill? Running Choice Scarf does sound like fun but without Ferrothorn, you would need Excadrill to be your Rocker.
Yeah, Gen 8 Clefable had so much shift around it after LGPE that it turned from a decent stall Pokemon to a dang near essential Pokemon. The Landorus-T of modern times until the DLC comes out.

I'll take the advice on running Sucker Punch over High Jump Kick, since any offensive capability it has is already done with Pyro Ball, I've come to find.

I'm switching to standard Leftovers set right now. It's too early to judge, but so far I'm getting good results.
 
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