Sceptile, The Forest Pokémon. The leaves growing on Sceptile's body are very sharp edged. This Pokémon is very agile-it leaps all over the branches of trees and jumps on its foe from above or behind. Sceptile has seeds growing on its back. They are said to be bursting with nutrients that revitalize trees. This Pokémon raises the trees in a forest with loving care. It agilely leaps about the jungle and uses the sharp leaves on its arms to strike its prey.
As one of the starters of Hoenn, Sceptile is pretty well known, much like its counterparts Blaziken and Swampert. However, unlike its counterparts, Sceptile was the only one of the starters to not gain a second type. Not only that, but it often found itself being the least often picked of the three starters. Competitively, it tended to find itself getting the least attention as well, with Blaziken skyrocketing into super-stardom with its Hidden Ability, while Swampert has always been a reliable bulky water type. That’s not to say Sceptile is a bad Pokemon, as it’s one of the fastest grass types around and can pull off both physical and special sets. It’s just that its bulk has always been underwhelming, and neither of its offenses are particularly high on their own. As a result, Sceptile was always just an average Pokemon… that is, until OR/AS came along and bestowed upon it a Mega Evolution! Its Mega Evolution is certainly good, so much so that it’s rendered standard Sceptile almost completely obsolete since it pulls off Sceptile’s sets much better. So, if you’re planning on using Sceptile, you definitely want to Mega Evolve it, or you might consider using a different Pokemon instead.
Overgrow: When HP is below 1/3rd its maximum, power of Grass-type moves is increased by 50%. - Ah Overgrow, your standard grass-type starter Pokemon ability. In truth, this ability has never been particularly reliable. Getting your HP below 33% without being KO’ed certainly isn’t easy with Sceptile’s poor bulk, and even then, it only increases the power of its STAB attacks and not any of its coverage moves. This ability’s unreliability causes it to be fairly useless… although ironically, it’s still Sceptile’s most used ability. Why? Because as mentioned before, Sceptile pretty much always uses its Mega Evolution, and its Hidden Ability, Unburden, will never do anything on sets utilizing a Mega Stone. So, as unreliable as Overgrow it, you’ll still be using it on Mega Evolution sets, although 99 times out of 100 it will make zero difference.
Standard Sceptile isn’t really worth using when its Mega Evolution is oh so much better, but if for some reason you want to use Sceptile without its Mega Evolution, then the task becomes to try and find a set that it can do that its Mega Evolution doesn’t outclass it entirely at. And, well… there’s not a lot. Unburden may net more speed than its Mega, but it only works once and Sceptile has a considerable drop in power if you do that. However, Sceptile can opt for a little bit more power by utilizing a Life Orb. In addition, if you’re not able to use Mega Sceptile for whatever reason, this is usually the best way to use Sceptile, and among the most common sets in past generations as well.
Leaf Storm is Sceptile’s strongest STAB. It tends to lend itself well to wall-breaking due to its high power but unfortunate downside of a special attack drop. This also works well in hit-and-run situations. Giga Drain is preferable for staying in, as although it has significantly less power than Leaf Storm, it is able to be spammed, and the healing can help offset the recoil of Life Orb. Focus Blast helps Sceptile tremendously by allowing it to nail the steel types who otherwise wall its STAB. Just watch out for that unwieldy accuracy, since it will miss about a third of the time. Finally, Sceptile usually opts for Hidden Power to bolster its coverage, but in all honesty Sceptile has some freedom in which type it chooses, depending on where you use it. However, its most useful Hidden Power types are usually Ice, Rock, or Fire, with the latter two also covering Sceptile’s flying type woes.
Timid Nature and 252 Speed EVs are necessary to maximize Sceptile’s speed, while 252 Special Attack EVs also ensures it does as much damage as possible. The remaining 4 EVs are dumped into special defense. Life Orb squeezes out as much damage as possible for Sceptile, albeit with the freedom to switch attacks, since its neutral coverage isn’t quite good enough to go the Choice route. The recoil is of little consequence since Sceptile won’t be surviving (m)any hits regardless. Overgrow can give Sceptile a bit power in a pinch, and tends to be better than Unburden since only certain items synergize with Unburden.
Leaf it to Me
On the other side of the spectrum, Sceptile can run a physical set. Unfortunately, its attack stat is rather lackluster on its own, so there’s where Swords Dance comes in. Do note that with Sceptile’s lackluster bulk it can be harder to find time to set up, but it can get the job done. Leaf Blade is your best physical STAB, and it’s just a good attack in general with solid power, perfect accuracy, and no drawbacks. What’s not to love? Well, aside from the fact that it’s missing some coverage. Most notably, steel types with their usually high physical bulk love to wall Leaf Blade into oblivion. That’s where either Earthquake or Drain Punch can come in; both are valid options for dealing with steel types, as Earthquake is stronger but Drain Punch has the healing effect. Their coverage tends to be similar, with only a few targets being hit harder by one or the other. Regardless of which you choose though, flying and bug types may still wall you. But fortunately, that’s where Rock Slide comes in, giving you the most coverage you can afford.
Much like the previous set, maximizing speed is essential, so Jolly nature and 252 speed EVs accomplish this, while 252 Attack EVs give you as much power as possible and the remaining 4 EVs are put into special defense. Once again, Overgrow tends to be your best option as Unburden will only activate if you consume your item, which isn’t possible on this set. Life Orb helps further ramp up Sceptile’s attack, since it needs to do as much damage as possible to prevent other Pokemon from preying on its poor bulk, and it needs the freedom to switch attacks due to poor neutral coverage.
-Unburden could in theory be used in conjunction with Sitrus Berry or White Herb (for Leaf Storm), but in general, Unburden isn’t that great because you’ll find yourself with a noticeable drop in power, and Unburden will only work once, so good luck if you get forced out.
Double & Triple Options
Sceptile is actually seeing some usage in Doubles/Triples! But not because of its base form!
Sceptile doesn't have a secondary STAB, so other coverage options generally are underwhelming, especially considering how low base 105 SAtk is by today's standards. Not Mega Evolving hurts too. Sceptile has problems defensively, mainly the overabundant Ice type attacks and Flying type attacks in the Metagame. It's difficult to properly use Sceptile, when it's Mega is dependent on it's partner to deal decent damage.
Where standard Sceptile is most used, what you use to stop it really depends on the set it runs. Grass types tend to be the best answer to Sceptile overall, especially those that share a poison dual type. Defensive Vileplume can 1HKO Sceptile with Sludge Bomb the majority of the time after Life Orb recoil, and neither Life Orb Hidden Power Fire nor +2 Life Orb Earthquake can reliably 2HKO Vileplume. Weezing easily walls the SD set, and can even take on the special sets due to resisting most of Sceptile’s movepool. Garbodor can shut down special sets, and soundly 1HKO with Gunk Shot, but it doesn’t like eating Earthquakes from the SD set. Articuno also walls special sets, only being 3HKO’ed by Focus Blast (although the rare HP Rock could be a problem for it), but SD sets can break through its weaker physical bulk. Ninetails and Regice can stomach any special attack Sceptile throws at them an 1HKO back with their STAB attacks, but have to watch for SD boosted physical attacks. Scyther with Eviolite is a decent answer as well, barely being 4HKO’ed by Life Orb HP Fire, but when Rock Slide gets thrown around, Scyther crumbles. Despite some of its sets being tricky to switch into, most things can check it without too much difficulty. Almost any strong STAB can 1HKO or 2HKO Sceptile. Things like Swellow and Ninjask can outspeed Sceptile and 1HKO it with their STAB, if not pivot out on an obvious switch. Strong Scarf users such as Sawk and Pyroar can manage to outspeed Sceptile and then 1HKO it. Anything that has a poison, bug, fire, ice, or flying coverage move can usually dispatch Sceptile in a heartbeat, as it takes heavy damage even with minimal investment from its opponent due to its lack of bulk.
In more inclusive formats, Sceptile’s problems increase tenfold. Physical sets get shut down by Skarmory, while Chansey, Blissey, and Florges all laugh at special sets. There are more things that outspeed it as well, such as Talonflame, Crobat, Weavile, and Tornadus-T, in addition to a myriad of Choice Scarf users such as Darmanitan, Garchomp, Mienshao, and several others. At the end of the day, Sceptile struggles in more inclusive formats due to its lack of bulk and power, as it often fails to hit hard enough to prevent its weak bulk from being preyed upon. It doesn’t help matters that burns screw up physical sets while both types of sets hate to be paralyzed. In addition, Sceptile’s own dependence upon Life Orb for damage often puts it on a timer, as the recoil will add up.
Of the three Hoenn starters, Sceptile was probably the one who most needed a Mega Evolution, given its usage paled in comparison to that of its counterparts Blaziken and Swampert. Fortunately, the good folks at Game Freak recognized this as well, and bestowed upon Sceptile a Mega Evolution that brought with it not only a stat boost, but also an entirely new and unique type! As the Grass/Dragon type that many hoped Serperior would end up being, Mega Sceptile takes Sceptile’s strong points and makes them even better. To call this thing fast would be an understatement, as not only is among the top 10 fastest Pokemon, but it’s also both the fastest Grass type and the fastest Dragon type as well. Its offensive stats also got a generous boost as well, giving it a solid base 110/145 offenses. However, not all is well for Mega Sceptile, as although it is a massive improvement over standard Sceptile, in comparison to other Mega Evolutions it’s still somewhat lacking. It’s still rather frail, and Grass/Dragon isn’t the greatest defensive typing in the world, having only a handful of resistances and still plenty of weaknesses, such as the glaring 4x Ice weakness that many dragons already suffer from. Its ability, while certainly not bad, is also somewhat underwhelming in the face of other Mega Evolution abilities such as Aerilate, Parental Bond, etc. Still, it would be unwise to underestimate Mega Sceptile, because it can rip through a weakened team in a heartbeat with its blazing fast speed.
Lightningrod: Electric-type moves are drawn to this Pokémon. Electric-type moves will do no damage and the Pokémon's SP ATK is raised one stage. If the Pokémon is Ground-type, moves are drawn to it, but it gets no boost. - When Mega Sceptile was first revealed, a lot of people found Lightningrod to be a rather underwhelming ability. This is understandable, as Mega Sceptile’s typing already gives it a 4x resistance to Electric, so turning that into an immunity may seem like a nominal improvement at best. That said, it allows you to net a free special attack boost by switching into Electric attacks, which can make Mega Sceptile a great switch-in to something you expect to pivot out with Volt Switch. It also makes it difficult (although not impossible) to paralyze Mega Sceptile, since it will be immune to both Thunder Wave and Stun Spore. Overall, a decent ability.
King of the Jungle
Here we have it, Mega Sceptile’s standard set offensive set. With a base 145 in both Speed and Special Attack, it should go without saying that Mega Sceptile can effectively pull off a 4-attack, all-out offensive set, much like its Mega Evolution. The only difference is that Mega Sceptile does it better, since it has considerably more speed and only marginally less power than Life Orb Sceptile, but without the recoil.
Leaf Storm remains Mega Sceptile’s strongest grass STAB, packing a massive base 140 power. However, the special attack drop kinda sucks, so it usually lends itself well to a hit-and-run strategy. Of course, for those times when you need to stay in on an opponent, Giga Drain is the next best thing. Although it has a noticeable drop in power, its secondary effect of healing half of the damage dealt makes it worthwhile. On the other side of the STAB Spectrum, Dragon Pulse is Mega Sceptile’s best option for a Dragon STAB, and it has decent neutral coverage on its own. Of course, both Dragon and Grass have an obvious gap in their coverage, and that would be steel types. For this reason, Focus Blast will usually be your go-to answer to steel types. However, Hidden Power Fire can also be an option, albeit not usually your first choice. Although its power is low, it packs better accuracy than Focus Blast, and allows Mega Sceptile to not be walled by Doublade, and provides a better option against Forretress and Bronzong. However, with the IVs necessary to get Hidden Power Fire, you will miss out on speed tying with Mega Beedrill, so be aware of this.
TImid Nature and 252 Speed EVs are nigh mandatory to make Mega Sceptile as fast as possible, since it lives by its speed. Maximum speed investment allows it to outspeed everything up to Mega Beedrill, which it speed ties with. 252 Special Attack EVs ensure Mega Sceptile is doing as much damage as possible, while the leftover 4 EVs are put into special defense. Overgrow is the chosen ability prior to Mega Evolving, if for no other reason than the fact that Unburden will literally do nothing 100% of the time on Mega Evolution sets, so although it’s unlikely you’ll ever see any effect from Overgrow given you want to Mega Evolve your Sceptile ASAP, in theory it could have some use whereas Unburden will literally never have any use.
The Leaf is Mightier Than the Sword
Much like the previous set, Mega Sceptile can run standard Sceptile’s physical set, but with better effectiveness due to its superior stats. And just like standard Sceptile, Swords Dance is the crux of this set, allowing Sceptile to ramp up its average attack to much higher levels. From there, Leaf Blade remains its best STAB option, if not arguably the best physical grass attack in the game, given its lack of downsides. With its new secondary Dragon typing, Dragon Claw can be opted for, which has solid neutral coverage and hits decently hard after a boost. Finally, steel types remain an issue, so Earthquake or Drain Punch can be utilized for this, with the choice coming down to your preference of power vs. healing, although Earthquake handles things like Doublade better, while Drain Punch can crack through Ferroseed easier. Either one is viable.
As should be expected by now, max speed is absolutely mandatory. 252 Speed EVs and a Jolly nature accomplish this end. In addition, 252 Attack EVs ensure Sceptile can maximize its damage output. The remaining 4 EVs are put into special defense. Overgrow continues to be the preferred ability for Sceptile prior to Mega Evolving, namely due to the fact that it will never benefit from Unburden on Mega Sets… not that it much matters though, as Sceptile should always mega evolve as soon as it can.
-Substitute is an option, and a reliable one at that, to protect against revenge killing and ward off status. If you’re going to use Substitute, be sure to put your 4 leftovers EVs into HP to get off an extra substitute. You’ll usually see Substitute with three special attacks.
Double & Triple Battle Options
Mega Sceptile can be Mega Scary, but it's niche places it in a rather predictable spot, next to a Discharge user.
The main idea with Sceptile is to have its partner firing off Discharges left and right. Discharge is only resisted by Ground, Electric and Dragon types, two of which Mega Scpetile can handle with STABs and the remaining one can't touch Sceptile. To say the least it's an interesting way to go about Heavy Offense. A well placed Substitute will make your opponent panic. Every successful Discharge means Sceptile hits harder. But Hidden Power Ice handles the very common Landorus-T. Partners for Sceptile include Scarf Heliolisk, or Thundurus Therian. Both have wide spread electric attacks that have nasty side effects. Mega Sceptile was introduced in the same Generation Fairies were, so Hyper Voices and Moonblasts will be common enough and destroy it, not to mention the x4 Weakness to Ice. Mega Sceptile is a neat Tech, but competitively, other Megas will net you more wins consistently.
Countering Mega Sceptile
In a twist of fate, the best answer for Mega Sceptile is the ever-annoying Whimsicott. Due to its typing, it resists Mega Sceptile’s grass STAB, is immune to its Dragon STAB, and also resists its most common coverage moves. In addition, defensive/support Whimsicott can 2HKO Mega Sceptile with Moonblast, while the rare offensive Whimsicott can 1HKO it. Even if it doesn’t KO Mega Sceptile, it can utilize its annoying support options such as Tailwind or Encore to mess with Mega Sceptile. Defensive Aromatisse can shut down physical sets, but it does have to watch out for the chance of being 2HKO’ed by Leaf Storm on special sets. That said, it has no trouble 2HKOing Mega Sceptile with Moonblast, which can be a 1HKO with Stealth Rock up. Florges can run a defensive spread that allows it to wall special sets indefinitely while still being able to only be 3HKO’ed by an unboosted Leaf Blade, and still survive a +2 Leaf Blade so that it can 1HKO with Moonblast about half the time. Amoonguss is only bothered by Dragon Pulse on special sets, which can 3HKO, but it 2HKOs with Sludge Bomb, while typically only being 4HKO’ed by an unboosted Dragon Claw, although a +2 Dragon Claw can 2HKO. Doublade walls special sets lacking Hidden Power Fire by only being 4HKO’ed at best, while it can 2HKO Mega Sceptile with Iron Head. Physical sets without Earthquake are completely walled, but even then, a +2 Earthquake only 2HKOs, while an unboosed Earthquake only 4HKOs. Depending on the spread it runs, Porygon2 can counter either of Mega Sceptile’s sets, only being 3HKO’ed at best by Mega Sceptile’s Focus Blast, which of course has accuracy issues. In terms of checks, fast Scarfers such as Darmanitan, Mienshao, and Hydreigon can all outspeed Mega Sceptile and soundly 1HKO it with their powerful STAB attacks. Mega Aerodactyl stands tall for its ability to outspeed Mega Sceptile and 1HKO it, and its base form also outspeeds Sceptile’s base form as well. Mega Sceptile’s 4x weakness to ice can be a major hindrance as well, as it causes an Ice Shard from Mamoswine or Cloyster to 1HKO it in a heartbeat while also circumventing its speed thanks to priority. Fortunately for anyone attempting to counter Mega Sceptile, it actually hits slightly less hard than Life Orb Sceptile, so anything that can survive a hit from standard Sceptile can usually do so from Mega Sceptile as well, which allows them to prey on its weak bulk with powerful STAB or coverage moves.In more inclusive formats, Mega Sceptile has more issues. Much likes its base form, your standard walls such as Skarmory or Chansey can stop the respective sets with their extreme bulk. Mega Sceptile is entirely walled by Mega Altaria, who is immune to Mega Sceptile’s dragon STAB, and resists its grass STAB and most common coverage moves. Clefable and Sylveon have enough bulk to stomach Mega Sceptile’s attacks and can 1HKO or 2HKO it back with STAB Moonblast or Pixilate Hyper Voice. Ferrothorn stops physical sets cold (although +2 Drain Punches can be a problem), racking up Iron Barb damage to weaken Mega Sceptile while also pounding it with Gyro Ball. It has to watch out for special sets though since Focus Blast and Hidden Power Fire can be trouble. Talonflame and Weavile have no problem destroying Mega Sceptile with their STAB priority, and can revenge kill it in a heartbeat. Although Mega Sceptile is fast and can do decent damage, anything it can’t 1HKO will usually be taking a huge chunk of its HP away due to its poor bulk. At the end of the day, just pounding away at Mega Sceptile with strong STAB attacks can usually result in it being 1HKO’ed or 2HKO’ed by most things.
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