Smeargle, The Painter Pokémon. Smeargle marks the boundaries of its territory using a body fluid that leaks out from the tip of its tail. Over 5,000 different marks left by this Pokémon have been found. Once it becomes an adult, it has a tendency to let its comrades plant footprints on its back.
Smeargle. The great anomaly. The one Pokemon who takes everything you know about Pokemon and flips it on its head. If you take one look at Smeargle based solely on it’s stats, it clearly looks like a throwaway. Awful defenses with even worse offenses, and a mediocre base 75 speed as it’s only decent stat certainly doesn’t leave a good first impression. Then when you see it learns no TMs, has no egg moves, and can’t be tutored any moves, you really have to wonder what’s going on with this Pokemon. However, Smeargle has a silver lining that truly carves its niche and sets it apart from literally every other Pokemon in the game; Sketch. Every 10 levels, Smeargle learns Sketch, which permanently copies the last move used by any other Pokemon (be it an enemy or an ally in doubles), turning Sketch into that move. With this in mind, Smeargle is able to learn virtually every move in the game, barring Chatter, Struggle, and the Shadow moves from the Gamecube games. As a result, Smeargle’s versatility is unprecedented. It can have any number of movesets, giving it the largest movepool in the game, bar none. Eat your heart out, Mew and Arceus. However, even though Smeargle can learn pretty much every move in the game, it doesn’t mean it can utilize them effectively. Its offenses and bulk are still outright terrible, so don’t expect it to wall anything or take on an offensive role. Smeargle exists to fill a supportive role, which is less dependent on its stats. It may not sweep teams itself or wall anything, but the support combinations it can provide are literally unable to be replicated by any other Pokemon... as long as its best roles aren't banned!
Own Tempo: The Pokémon cannot be Confused while having this ability. - Own Tempo isn’t a great ability. I mean, immunity to confusion isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that confusion in general is seldom seen. That said, in formats where Moody is banned, Own Tempo becomes Smeargle’s best choice as far as abilities are concerned. So, if you’re playing in tiered formats, you’ll be using Own Tempo a lot.
If you enjoy tiered play, then this set is not for you, because SmashPassing it is banned. However, it is easily Smeargle's best role. The premise is very simple; set up Shell Smash, and Baton Pass it to something else. If something like Mega Garchomp, Kyurem-Black, or Mega Diancie receives a +2 Attack, Special Attack, and Speed boost, it can pretty much be match-ending right then and there. However, with Smeargle’s frailty, you need to create an opportunity to set up; that’s where putting your foe to sleep comes in. Spore is usually the most reliable means, thanks to its 100% accuracy. However, with the advent of Grass types and Overcoat users being immune to Spore, Dark Void can be an option. It may only boast 80% accuracy as opposed to Spore’s 100%, but nothing (aside from Magic Bounce users) is immune to it. However, it should become painfully obvious that this set is very susceptible to Taunt. That’s where Magic Coat comes in; on a predicted Taunt, Magic Coat can bounce that Taunt right back at its user, not only protecting Smeargle from it but also preventing the opposition from Taunting again.
Timid Nature and 252 Speed EVs are intended to maximize attack, while Timid nature is used over Jolly to minimize Foul Play damage (0 Attack IVs helps this, as well). 252 HP EVs and 4 Defense EVs attempt to salvage Smeargle’s awful bulk as much as possible. Focus Sash is the ideal item, as it ensures Smeargle will survive at least one hit to either put something to sleep or Boost (or both). However, if you’re feeling ballsy, you can opt for White Herb so you’re not passing defense drops along with the boosts, but do note that this will only be viable against slower threats, or you’ll be KO’ed in a flash. Although Moody might be appealing, due to the random nature of it, an inopportune stat drop can mess with your win condition (such as losing speed), so Own Tempo can be used for the reliability of knowing what boosts you’ll be passing. However, if you like gambling, Moody can be an option as well.
The Artist’s Lament
For something a little more tier-worthy, Smeargle can embrace the role of hazard setting. Unfortunately, it's not quite as good as the previous set due to the increase in Defog and Magic Bounce. It's not all bad news though. Fortunately, thanks to its nigh-infinite movepool, Smeargle has access to the rare Sticky Web. So, if you need to slow down grounded threats, set up that Web. Likewise, Smeargle also has access to Stealth Rock, making it one of just two Pokemon (the other being Shuckle) who can set both hazards. In order to afford itself time to set up hazards, Smeargle relies on sleep. Once again, Spore is usually the preferred sleep-inducer, but if Grass types and Overcoat users give you problems, Dark Void is an option, albeit a somewhat less reliable one. Finally, Magic Coat is again used to protect Smeargle from Taunt, which otherwise shuts it down completely.
Timid Nature and 252 Speed EVs are again intended to maximize speed and minimize Foul Play damage. 252 HP EVs and 4 Defense EVs is a desperate attempt to give Smeargle more bulk, but given it doesn’t have anywhere better to put those EVs it might as well. Focus Sash is essential for surviving long enough to put something to sleep and/or set up hazards, given Smeargle’s extreme frailty. Own Tempo is Smeargle’s only viable ability when Moody is banned, since Technician won’t do anything when you’re not trying to deal damage. Just be aware that given Smeargle's frailty and reliance on Focus Sash, it often won't get a second chance at setting hazards, so it's not quite that viable in tiered play, especially if it runs into Magic Bounce or Defog users.
-Spikes and Toxic Spikes are options as well, but given Smeargle’s frailty it doesn’t have time to set up multiple layers of hazards.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
While there are a variety of strong Pokemon you need to be prepared for in VGC 2016, most top players will agree there are four Pokemon that you absolutely need an answer to: Geomancy Xerneas, Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, and Smeargle. At first glance, one of those four really doesn't seem to belong. By itself, Smeargle isn't that much of a threat. In VGC 2014 and 2015 it could be annoying, but it wasn't the threat that it is in this year's format. With all the restricted legendaries around, teams can't afford to waste turns asleep when the Primals or a +2 Xerneas start launching massive spread attacks that can decimate any team.
Smeargle has become one of the most common Pokemon in VGC 2016, and it's most known for being on the common "Big 6" team (Primal Groudon, Xerneas, Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Salamence, Talonflame, and Smeargle), or at least Big 6 variants that may also incorporate a Trick Room user or another support Pokemon. Its enormous movepool can make it very tough to predict, especially if you don't know the item on it.
Every VGC player has a story this year where they got owned by a Smeargle. Despite its mediocre stats, Dark Void by itself can ruin games. Factor in possible Moody boosts, especially speed, evasion, or accuracy, and the biggest variety of support moves, and it's easy to see why Smeargle will likely be on a team that wins the World Championships.
The spread maximizes Smeargle's speed so that it can be as fast as possible to get off a Dark Void. Focus Sash lets Smeargle take any one hit (barring multi-hit moves or Parental Bond attacks), and the defensive EVs allow Smeargle to survive a Power-Up Punch from a Jolly Mega Kangaskhan 100% of the time. With Intimidate support, Smeargle even has a decent chance to survive a Low Kick. Moody as an ability can be risky. While some of the boosts you receive can be useless or severely hinder Smeargle, a clutch speed or evasion boost can put the game massively in your favor. Accuracy and defense boosts can also help Smeargle be more difficult to deal with.
Dark Void is generally the main reason to use Smeargle. Putting both opponents to sleep in a format where battles can go quickly due to the massive damage being thrown around can win teams games. Spiky Shield and King's Shield both keep Smeargle safe from opposing Fake Out, and can also give Smeargle a free turn of Moody boosts. While King's Shield is nice to drop the attack of things like Mega Kangaskhan, Spiky Shield will block status moves and Taunt, so it is generally preferred over King's Shield. Follow Me redirects attacks aimed at your restricted legendary or mega Pokemon, and works great with the Focus Sash. Fake Out helps give free turns of damage or setup to a teammate, while Wide Guard is great for playing mind games and completely blocks spread damage from an opponent to both Smeargle and its teammate. Crafty Shield is mainly for other Smeargle, but it also stops Taunt or other status moves. Opponent's moves like Smeargle's Dark Void, Thundurus' Thunder Wave, and Amoongus' Spore will do nothing if you use Crafty Shield.
A max speed Smeargle with Choice Scarf can be one way to catch opponents off-guard. Many teams deal with Smeargle by simply using non-Priority attacks if they think both their Pokemon are faster. Moody is a little more risky with the Scarf set since a speed drop can completely negate the purpose of your item, but can still win you games as it can with the Sash set.
Again, Dark Void is the biggest reason to use Smeargle and put both opponents to sleep before they can do anything. Transform can be clutch to turn into a Primal to reset weather your weather, copy a Xerneas' boosts, or just become a faster version of one of your opponents' Pokemon. Smeargle needs max HP for Transform, as HP is the only stat that won't be copied. Follow Me, Wide Guard, and especially Fake Out are essentially "all-in" moves. While you will be locked into these moves, getting a Fake Out off can allow your Xerneas to set up can win the game. Smeargle's Choice Scarf Fake Out will go before other common Fake Outs, like Weavile's or (non-Inner Focus before mega evolving) Kangaskhan's. Follow Me can still absorb single target attacks aimed at your sweeper and nullify Sucker Punches, while Wide Guard may be able to shut down opposing Primals against yours.
-Occasionally Smeargle is used under Trick Room, or to help counter Trick Room by making Smeargle slower than a minimum speed Primal. It isn't perfect, however, as opposing Bronzong will always outspeed it under Trick Room and may carry Safeguard or Hypnosis.
To counter Smeargle is somewhat atypical because in all honesty, pretty much everything in the game can KO it. However, as long as it puts something to sleep, it can do its job, so a different approach is needed. Magic Bounce users pretty much stop Smeargle cold; all it can hope to do is Skill Swap, given they’ll bounce back its Sleep move, and can bounce back hazards as well. Espeon and Xatu are the best users given they can readily switch into Smeargle, while Mega Absol, Mega Diancie, and Mega Sableye can only do so after Mega Evolving first. Things that can’t be put to sleep due to their abilities, such as Magmortar or Slurpuff, are usually able to start beating on Smeargle without fear of duress. Grass types are immune to Spore, but have to be wary of Dark Void. Anything that can set up a Substitute and is faster than Smeargle is pretty much free from any threat from Smeargle, and the very same Substitute can protect from anything that may come in via Baton Pass as well. Taunting Smeargle may sound good in theory since it shuts it down completely, but most Smeargle in Singles carry Magic Coat for that very reason, so be aware. Given Smeargle typically relies on its Sash, users of Fake Out, such as Mienshao, can break the Focus Sash and then KO Smeargle outright. If Smeargle is Baton Passing, phasing by using Whirlwind, Dragon Tail, etc. can get rid of the boosts, even on the turn the boosts are passed. For hazard setting Smeargles, given it tends to be “Suicide Lead” in that it sets up its hazards and then gets KO’ed, Rapid Spinners or Defoggers can ensure that those hazards go away, and do not get a second chance to be put up. Overall Smeargle’s not too hard to get rid of, nor is it very threatening on its own, but its support is what makes it a threat, so take care not to get steamrolled by the rest of Smeargle’s team if they take advantage of that support.
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