Serperior, The Regal Pokémon. It only gives its all fighting against strong opponents who are not fazed by the glare from Serperior's noble eyes. It can stop its opponents'movements with just a glare. It takes in solar energy and boosts it internally.They raise their heads to intimidate opponents but only give it their all when fighting a powerful opponent.
The Gen 5 starters were met with a lot of criticism when they were first revealed. With Tepig evolving into yet another Fire/Fighting starter, and Oshawott’s design being criticized left and right, the Gen 5 starters were not well received at first. However, there was one starter that stood above the rest in terms of popularity. This was none other than Snivy, who many fans dubbed “Smugleaf” due to its cocky grin. As a result, Snivy found itself being the most popular of the Gen 5 starters, and was picked the most often, leaving many people with Serperior once it had fully evolved. However, in Gen 5, Serperior was… not very good. Although its base 113 speed was great, and base 75/95/95 defenses were enough to get by… base 75 attack and special attack were extremely underwhelming, and a very limited movepool did it no favors. As a result, despite its popularity, Serperior quickly became a bottom of the barrel Pokemon.
But then in Gen 6, things changed for Serperior. The good folks at Gamefreak took pity on the Unova starters, and bestowed upon them their Hidden Abilities. Samurott was barely affected by getting Shell Armor. Emboar got a moderate improvement with Reckless. But Serperior… Serperior had its whole life turned around by getting the rare and powerful Contrary ability. And fortunately for Serperior, it has exactly the right move to take advantage of Contrary; Leaf Storm. Now Serperior has the means to overcome its lackluster offenses, by spamming its strongest STAB attack and getting a +2 Special Attack boost every time it does so. This makes Serperior progressively stronger, and it doesn’t take long for its damage to reach ridiculous levels. That said, all of Serperior’s old flaws are still there, so it’s not a perfect world for Serperior. A limited movepool means that Serperior lacks many coverage options, and will always have something that can wall it, in addition to making it rather predictable. It’s also not particularly powerful at first, so its coverage moves are pretty weak if it can’t get off a Leaf Storm or two first. Still, don’t discount Serperior as a threat; the simple addition of Contrary caused its usefulness to absolutely skyrocket.
Overgrow: When HP is below 1/3rd its maximum, power of Grass-type moves is increased by 50%. - Overgrow is your standard grass-type starter ability. It’s never been particularly reliable, given it’s not easy to get below 33% HP without being KO’ed, and even then it only powers up Grass type moves. Most grass types only use this if they don’t have anything better… but sure enough, Serperior DOES have something better! So it should never use Overgrow.
Serperior's most common set takes perfect advantage of Contrary; an all out offensive set. It should go without saying by now, but Contrary Leaf Storm is the crux of this set. 90% of the time you will be using this, because it brings with it a free +2 Special Attack boost. Even some switch-ins who resist Leaf Storm don't want to eat the +2 Coverage move that follows it. Speaking of coverage moves, unfortunately Serperior's shallow movepool means you only have two reliable options. The first is Dragon Pulse, which has decent neutral coverage and can mutilate dragons like Latios and Dragonite at +2 if they try to switch into Leaf Storm. Since Serperior's coverage is so poor, it needs to utilize Hidden Power for coverage, and the best option for Hidden Power is undoubtedly Fire type. This allows Serperior to get around Steel types and opposing Grass and Bug types, and is most notable for absolutely frying Scizor and Ferrothorn. You'll still have a few things that hard counter you, but such is life. For the final moveslot, Serperior has a few options, since its final slot is mostly a filler. Glare is arguably the best option, as many things that can switch in, such as Tornadus-T, get absolutely crippled by Paralysis. Giga Drain can be an option for a secondary STAB, as Leaf Storm does have low PP, and the healing can help a little bit as well. Finally, Substitute is also an option, which can help protect against revenge killing and ease prediction.
252 Special Attack and Speed EVs help to maximize Serperior's offensive presence, while a Timid nature ensures max speed to outspeed the likes of Thundurus and the 110's below it. It should go without saying by now, but you always, ALWAYS want to use Contrary. That said, Serperior does have a bit of a choice when it comes to items. Leftovers helps extend Serperior's longevity a bit, as it's passable bulk allows for Leftovers to shrug off the damage from resisted hits or residual damage. It works great with Substitute, too. However, Life Orb on the other hand helps maximize Serperior's damage output, especially given its low base offenses. Life Orb also makes Serperior dastardly hard to switch into, as many would-be checks face issues eating a Life Orb Leaf Storm followed by the appropriate coverage move. Just note that the Life Orb recoil will put Serperior on a timer, and it can sometimes lead to trouble on Substitute sets as you'll be losing a lot of HP that way.
If an all-out offensive approach isn’t quite your cup of tea, Serperior also has another option available to it in the form of SubSeed. Although SubSeed in general is a strategy with a few flaws, Serperior is arguably the best user of it. This is due in part to its great speed tier, but also due to the fact that it’s capable of maintaining offensive presence due to Contrary. Naturally, the crux of this set is Leech Seed, which many of Serperior’s checks and counters hate. Things like Heatran and Chansey can be worn down with relative ease thanks to Leech Seed. Of course, this is where Substitute comes in; although things like Heatran can deal high damage with its super effective attacks, Substitute limits the amount of damage to 25%, which with Leftovers and Leech Seed recovery can allow it to keep making Substitutes. Not only that, but it protects against status, which can greatly annoy Stall. Of course, there are times when you need to be able to deal direct damage against your target, and to that end, Contrary Leaf Storm remains Serperior’s bread and butter, doing solid damage with a base 130 STAB attack, while also netting +2 Special Attack in the process. Hidden Power Fire remains its best coverage move, and it is especially useful given that grass types are otherwise immune to Leech Seed, so it helps prevent this set from being shut down by Grass types.
Max speed continues to be important for Serperior, so to that end 252 Speed EVs and Timid Nature remain standard. 56 HP EVs ensure that Rotom-W is unable to break your Substitutes with an uninvested Hydro Pump, while the remainder of the EVs are put into Special Attack to maximize Serperior’s damage output. Of course, if you’re not concerned about Rotom-W, you can invest more in special attack as well. Leftovers is the only item you should be considering on this set, as its gradual healing is necessary to ensure you can keep putting up Substitutes. And of course, Contrary should always be your ability of choice. No exceptions.
Smugly Defying Mega Mom
- Leaf Storm
Finally, we have something that’s not at all standard. Popularized by Japanese players, this set is primarily used in the Battle Spot to stifle the dreaded Mega Kangaskhan, along with other physical attackers. While Contrary Leaf Storm may seem standard, the rest of the set is a little less so. Reflect ensures that Serperior takes pittance from physical attackers, allowing it to stall them out. On the flipside, Synthesis is critical in stalling, as it’s this set’s main means of keeping Serperior healthy, lest it crumble under accumulated damage. Finally, Glare is its best bet for the final slot, given it can cripple many of the switch-ins that might think themselves safe from this set, such as Mega Charizard Y and Tornadus-T.
Timid Nature continues to be the best bet for Serperior, but this set doesn’t run max speed. Instead, in order to focus more on bulk, this set only allocates 172 Speed EVs so as to outspeed Garchomp; although more speed can be an option, losing out on bulk hinders your ability to deal with Mega Kangaskhan, and many of the faster physical threats can pressure Serperior regardless. The 116 HP EVs and 220 Defense EVs ensure that Serperior is never 1HKO’ed by Mega Kangaskhan, as even Adamant Double Edge will fall short; thus, after Reflect goes up (which is easy to do given Serperior outspeeds Mega Kangaskhan), it will avoid the 2HKO as well. Rocky Helmet is the ideal item for this set, as the chip damage works wonders when wearing down physical attackers, most notably Mega Kangaskhan whose Parental Bond causes it to suffer double damage from Rocky Helmet. Of course, you understand by now that you definitely want to utilize Contrary since without it your Serperior won't hit anywhere near hard enough.
-Taunt can shut down things like Chansey and Skarmory, who rely on their support movepools pretty heavily, which really pesters Stall.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Serperior has been an underrated option in VGC since its creation. In Gen 5, with its high base speed and adequate defenses, it was a decent support Pokemon with moves like Glare, Taunt, Reflect, and Light Screen. Then Gen 6 gifted Serperior Contrary, and, just like in singles, it suddenly became an offensive threat if it could get going. As with many other Pokemon in VGC 2016, the introduction of all the restricted legends put a slight damper on the regal snake's offensive party, but it can still perform a solid job in its role if it can avoid going up in flames from Primal Groudon. .
The Half-Smug Prince
Contrary really needs no explanation at this point, and is fantastic in doubles formats where Icy Wind is so common. 244 speed EVs and a Timid nature allow Serperior to outspeed everything up to and including Thundurus, and the rest of the spread maximizes special attack. Serperior doesn't necessarily need a Life Orb for its damage output, as it'll need to get to at least +2 special attack to become a real threat anyway. Focus Sash allows it to survive one Ice Beam from Primal Kyogre or any flying type move from M-Salamence, Talonflame, or Rayquaza. Sitrus Berry, however, allows Serperior to take a Double-Edge from Jolly M-Kangaskhan, and adds to its overall bulk. Leaf Storm is of course excellent with Contrary, with its high base power and allowing Serperior to become a real offensive threat with the boost in special attack. Serperior can 2HKO both Primals with Leaf Storm due to the boosted 2nd hit, but can't live an Ice Beam from Kyogre or any fire move from Groudon without holding a Focus Sash. Dragon Pulse is likely Serperior's next best coverage option, and can do massive damage to Pokemon like M-Salamence and Rayquaza, but it has to be careful as both these Pokemon will outspeed it after they mega evolve. HP Fire is another option to consider as it can threaten Scizor or Ferrothorn. Glare is great to spread Paralysis and cannot miss, but most importantly it can paralyze ground type Pokemon, most notably Primal Groudon and Landorus-T. Protect, as always, is the best move in doubles.
-Life Orb can still be used to further maximize Serperior's damage output, but is probably best used in Battle Spot or Smogon Doubles, where it isn't immediately threatened by potential OHKOs from the Primals or M-Rayquaza.
Although Serperior’s high speed and ever-increasing special attack can be threatening, its low base power and shallow coverage means that there’s a few things that can handle it without much duress. Arguably the best counter is Assault Vest Goodra; with Sap Sipper it can freely switch into Leaf Storm and deny Serperior its boost, while its profound special bulk means that an unboosted Life Orb Dragon Pulse will only 5HKO. Even if Serperior is already at +2, then Goodra is only 3HKO’ed by a Life Orb Dragon Pulse, while Fire Blast and Sludge Bomb can 2HKO Serperior. Unless Serperior is carrying the extremely rare Hidden Power Ground, then Heatran can wall Serperior all day long. Offensive variants of Heatran can soundly 1HKO Serperior, while not being bothered at all by an unboosted Serperior, and only being 4HKO’ed at best at +2 even with Life Orb. Meanwhile, specially defensive Heatran is only 7HKO’ed at +2, and even if Serperior somehow boosted to +6, it’s only 3HKO’ed, while specially defensive Heatran 2HKOs Serperior with a slight chance of 1HKOing after Life Orb recoil. It’s worth noting though that Leech Seed can be a bit of a nuisance to Heatran, however. Talonflame makes a nice emergency stop for Serperior, as its priority Brave Bird will 1HKO Serperior in a flash if it gets too many boosts. Talonflame does have to be wary of Stealth Rock, however; given it loses half its HP to the hazard, Talonflame risks KOing itself with recoil by switching into an unboosted Life Orb Dragon Pulse or even Leaf Storm if at +2. In addition, switching into Glare can be a problem for it as well, but no matter what it manages to check Serperior with ease. Chansey can manage to beat Serperior 1v1 by wearing it down with Seismic Toss, which is a 3HKO, while enduring a few Life Orb Leaf Storms, which will 4HKO. However, if Serperior has a few boosts under its belt already, then Chansey can crumble to it. Taunt and Leech Seed can also make Chansey’s life miserable as well, so be aware. Mega Charizard Y is only 3HKO’ed at best by Serperior while soundly 1HKOing it with Fire Blast. However, if Stealth Rock is up, then Serperior is able to 2HKO with the combination of Life Orb Leaf Storm and Dragon Pulse at +2, so watch out for those hazards. Mega Venusaur really doesn’t care much about Serperior, as offensive Mega Venusaur is only 4HKO’ed at best while 1HKOing with Sludge Bomb. Although Amoonguss takes hits slightly worse than Mega Venusaur, it’s still only 3HKO’ed at Best, while it can 2HKO with Sludge Bomb, or troll Serperior with Clear Smog to eliminate its boosts. Plus, Regenerator allows it to stay healthy if it needs to pivot out and Spore can screw incoming switch-ins if you know you’re forcing Serperior out. Tornadus-T’s Assault Vest set is only 3HKO’ed at best, while Hurricane can 1HKO Serperior and Tornadus-T naturally outspeeds it. In addition, thanks to Regenerator, it can shrug off any damage it may take in doing so. Specially Defensive Zapdos is only 3HKO’ed at best, while it is capable of 2HKOing with Heat Wave, and healing off damage with Roost. There are also a myriad of Pokemon who can check Serperior, although they have difficulty switching in. Weavile is naturally faster and soundly 1HKOs Serperior with Icicle Crash, but Leaf Storm can deal massive damage even if unboosted, enough to 1HKO if Stealth Rock is up, and Glare is a major threat as well. Mega Manectric also outspeeds Serperior and can 1HKO with Overheat, although it also doesn’t appreciate a Leaf Storm, and its base form is outsped by Serperior. Mega Lopunny can 2HKO with the combination of Fake Out and High Jump Kick, the former of which aids in overcoming its base form’s speed tier, but like the others eating a Leaf Storm is painful, and Glare can be damning as well. Choice Scarf users such as Kyurem-B and Staraptor are capable of outspeeding Serperior and 1HKOing it with their STAB attacks, but Glare cripples both and a boosted Dragon Pulse can hurt them a lot, especially if Stealth Rock is up. Mega Pinsir can be 1HKO’ed by Life Orb Hidden Power Fire even without any boosts if Stealth Rock is up, and Serperior outspeeds it, but if Stealth Rock isn’t up, Mega Pinsir can soundly 1HKO with Aerilate Return. Aerilate Quick Attack can pick off a weakened Serperior, but it’s only going to do 70-83%, so don’t expect it to 1HKO Serperior from full health. As a last resort, Thundurus can utilize its Prankster Thunder Wave to strip Serperior of its speed, which can allow things like Gengar to more safely check it. Likewise, priority from the likes of Scizor or Breloom can pick off a low health Serperior if it’s under 50%, but neither can 1HKO Serperior without some serious boosting beforehand, and Hidden Power Fire makes both of their lives miserable. If you can manage to paralyze Serperior, you’ll be able to take away a lot of its viability, as its speed is what helps make it so dangerous. However, be aware that aside from the aforementioned Thundurus, Substitute can often hinder attempts to inflict status upon Serperior. Regardless, if you can knock out Serperior before it manages to accumulate too many boosts, then it’s not too hard to handle. However, if it gets rolling and your team is sufficiently weakened, you may have a bad time.
Much like its evolution, Snivy was nothing special in Gen 5. Then Gen 6 came along, and gifted it with Contrary, making it a potent force in the Little Cup. So just like with Serperior, with Contrary comes Leaf Storm spam, which nets you a solid +2 Special Attack every time you use it. However, unlike Serperior, Snivy’s coverage is somehow even worse, as it has no access to Dragon Pulse. As a result, its only viable coverage move is Hidden Power. However, it has numerous choices for which Hidden Power type it chooses, unlike Serperior who has a clearly superior choice. Hidden Power Fire deals well with grass types such as Foongus, while also dealing with Pawniard as well. Hidden Power Ground also hits Pawniard, in addition to dealing with Poison types like Croagunk. Finally, Hidden Power Flying deals well with bug and grass types while also dealing with Croagunk as well. Which Hidden Power you choose largely depends on what your team needs a little extra coverage against. From, there, Glare remains a solid choice, as many Pokemon in the Little Cup, such as Gastly, Ponyta, and Abra, can be absolutely crippled by Paralysis. Finally, Synthesis is utilized to keep Snivy healthy, which isn’t too difficult to use effectively due to Snivy’s decent bulk.
Timid Nature with 252 Speed EVs ensures Snivy reaches a solid max speed of 17, while 240 Special Attack EVs ensure that you hit 14 special attack to hit a bit harder. Eviolite is the item of choice, putting Snivy’s defenses at a solid 21/18/18, making it pretty solid. And of course by now it should go without saying, that Contrary is the only ability you should ever use; it’s just that good.
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