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[SMOGON] ScVi OU Moveset Ideas & Analysis | Skeledirge
Alright, here we are with part of my starter competitive analysis for Scarlet & Violet! Please remember this is very early on, and the meta is still being shaped as we speak. It's a learning process and I don't expect my ideas and observations to be 100% accurate. if you have your own ideas, please experiment, share and discuss below! Let's not waste any time now and get into the analysis of the Fire-type starter; Skeledirge!

[Image: Skeledirge.png]
Type(s): Fire/Ghost
Hp: 104
Atk: 75
Def: 100
SpA: 110
SpD: 75
Spe: 66
Ability: Blaze / Unaware (Hidden)

In complete contrast to Meowscarada, Skeledirge boasts an impressive Special attacking prowess that pairs nicely with its signature move, as well as decent physical bulk overall. It has relatively average typing, thanks to the additional Ghost-type it gains two new weaknesses in Ghost and Dark, but also gains immunity to Normal and Fighting. It loses a lot of neutral damage calcs, making it a lot better overall to take hits, in my opinion. However, its Fire-type does make it more susceptible to Stealth Rock, something which will need to be played around given this Pokémon's stat spread. Its Ability Blaze, of course, boosts the power of Fire-type moves when it reaches a certain damage threshold. It's a very slow Pokémon with 66 Base Speed, making it critically slower than one of this current meta's biggest threats, Corviknight, by 1 point. As you can imagine just by the stats alone, Skeledirge will lend itself well to Trick Room teams. While right off the bat, there isn't a lot to say about its stats, typing, and Ability, Skeledirge really shines with its impressive movepool, so let's not wait any longer and move on to some moveset ideas.

Moveset Ideas
We'll start with a standard damaging set, just like Meowscarada. Use this to practice with if you feel like it works, and fine-tune as you see fit.
[Image: Menu_SV_Skeledirge.png]
Skeledirge @ Choice Specs / Life Orb
Ability: Blaze  
EVs: 248 HP / 252 SpA / 8 SpD  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Torch Song  / Flamethrower
- Earth Power  
- Disarming Voice  
- Shadow Ball
As a naturally bulky Pokémon, Skeledirge lends itself well to the HP investment, with a little bit of Special Defense investment, as well as maximum EVs in Special Attack for the most damage output possible. A Modest nature is a given, paired with 0 Attack IVs to lower damage from possible confusion. Choice Specs will give a 1.5x increase to Skeledirge's Special moves, but lock it into using only the first one it used until it switches out. If you don't want to run that out of fear of being locked into a poor move, Life orb is a great substitute, with the drawback being it will deal recoil damage when used.

Starting from the bottom, Shadow Ball is Skeledirge's best Ghost-type STAB move that can obliterate certain new threats like Annihilape, Armarouge, and Ceruledge without so much as a second thought. It has the chance to drop the Special Defense of the opponent by one stage, a great tool for Pokémon who solely focuses on its Special stat to deal damage. It can threaten previously common Rock + Screen setter Bronzong, and returning OU menace Dragapult. As of today, Showdown's Damage Calculator has been updated to include the new Pokémon from gen 9, so my damage calculations of course are taken from there. Thank you to the Showdown/Smogon team for getting the resources available so quickly and allowing for a more in-depth look at these Pokémon. If there is enough interest, I shall go back and add damage calcs for Meowscarada as well.

Shadow Ball-specific Damage Calc(s);
   - 252 SpA Choice Specs Dragapult Shadow Ball vs. 248 HP / 8 SpD* Skeledirge: 410-486 (99.7 - 118.2%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Shadow Ball vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Dragapult: 482-570 (152 - 179.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
* Without the 8 Special Defense EVs, Dragapult's Shadow Ball is a guaranteed OHKO on Skeledirge. Now, we do have a way to make this even better for us when compared to this set, without sacrificing the damage output. Let's take a look.

   - 252 SpA Choice Specs Dragapult Shadow Ball vs. 248 HP / 64+ SpD Skeledirge: 348-410 (84.6 - 99.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
   - 196 SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Shadow Ball vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Dragapult: 422-498 (133.1 - 157%) -- guaranteed OHKO

With this setup using a Calm Nature over a Modest one, Skeledirge still has enough power to OHKO Dragapult but can also guarantee to survive its Shadow Ball, even with a Choice Specs and Special Attack boosting nature. We'll go over the specifics of this set later, but considering Dragapult is still as dangerous as it has always been, I felt this was worth mentioning early. Pokemon like Slowbro, Slowking, and Bronzong all get threatened by this powerful STAB move, and in a meta with solid Psychic and Ghost-types running around, this is undoubtedly a must-have.

Disarming Voice isn't considered a great move, and very fairly so. It's a 40 Base Power move, Fairy-type, and doesn't check accuracy. it's very mediocre. However, on Skeledirge it can have a fairly niche but effective use of threatening one of the new powerhouses on the block, Roaring Moon. With the set, as shown above, all the modifiers allow for pretty good damage on this Paradox-mon, forcing it to play a little more carefully lest it gets two-shot by a stray Fairy move it didn't expect. This doesn't take into account Tera Blast, which of course would be better. Returning threat Hydreigon also fears a Disarming Voice from Skeledirge, with its bulk being even worse than Roaring Moon, putting it in range to be OHKO'd by the move from full health. If Terstalizing becomes banned, or you play in formats / with your friends where it is banned, Disarming Voice is a decent choice to consider in place of Tera Blast.

Disarming Voice-specific Damage Calc(s);
   - 252 SpA Hydreigon Dark Pulse vs. 248 HP / 4 SpD Skeledirge: 320-380 (77.8 - 92.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Disarming Voice vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Hydreigon: 280-332 (86.1 - 102.1%) -- 12.5% chance to OHKO

   - 252 SpA Expert Belt Hydreigon Dark Pulse vs. 248 HP / 4 SpD Skeledirge: 384-456 (93.4 - 110.9%) -- 62.5% chance to OHKO
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Disarming Voice vs. 48 HP / 4 SpD Hydreigon: 280-332 (83 - 98.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

   - 220 Atk Roaring Moon Crunch vs. 248 HP / 0 Def Skeledirge: 270-320 (65.6 - 77.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Disarming Voice vs. 0 HP / 36 SpD Roaring Moon: 248-292 (70.6 - 83.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Disarming Voice, I can guarantee, will not become a meta choice. For the time being, however, I can see it being a niche threat to certain Pokémon like the ones I mentioned above. Specifically only on the Choice Specs set, as on the Life Orb set you will end up putting yourself in range for the aforementioned 2HKO moves to be guaranteed OHKOs. In place of it on the Life Orb set, you can opt for Snarl to drop the opponents' Special Attack, Overheat as a stronger Fire-type move, or even niche picks like Roar or Yawn.

Earth Power is Skeledirge's answer to one of this Gen's most prominent new trap-setters; Glimmora. Glimmora is dangerous because it has Toxic Debris, which gives it a free layer of Toxic Spikes when it is hit by a physical move, something which Skeledirge obviously doesn't need to fear. The go-to Glimmora set uses it as a fast bulky support, maximizing HP and Speed, and as we'll see in the damage calcs, it is completely checked by Earth Power from Skeledirge. Earth Power also checks Clodsire, setting it in range for a potential 2HKO. It is a great answer to many of the new Pokémon introduced, so many in fact that it's better to just get to the damage calcs and show, rather than tell.

Earth Power-specific Damage Calc(s);
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Glimmora: 680-804 (183.7 - 217.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Glimmora: 476-560 (128.6 - 151.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO

   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Coalossal: 444-524 (104.7 - 123.5%) -- guaranteed OHKO
   - 0 Atk Coalossal Rock Blast (5 hits) vs. 248 HP / 0 Def Skeledirge: 240-280 (58.3 - 68.1%) -- approx. 2HKO after Stealth Rock

   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Earth Power vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Iron Moth: 528-624 (175.4 - 207.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO

   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Iron Thorns: 660-780 (163.3 - 193%) -- guaranteed OHKO

   - 252 SpA Sandy Shocks Earth Power vs. 248 HP / 4 SpD Skeledirge: 354-416 (86.1 - 101.2%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Iron Hands: 392-462 (76.5 - 90.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

I could go on and on about how good Earth Power is on this Pokémon, but I think you get the idea. Earth Power helps to keep many of the new and dangerous Pokémon in check and is simply a must-have for Skeledirge, and really any Pokémon that can benefit from using it. Obvious warnings apply, watch out for Air Balloon and Levitate, and pick and choose when to use it carefully. If, for example, Sandy Shocks switches in on an Earth Power and has an Air Balloon, you are forced to switch out because it will OHKO you with an Earth Power of its own.

Now we get onto what makes Skeledirge so dangerous. Its signature move is called Torch Song. It is an 80 Base Power that has a 100% chance to raise the user's Special Attack by 1 stage. An already very strong move that can help to steamroll teams if it gets out of hand? Sign me up. On its own, Torch Song is just a little worse than Flamethrower, but considering its additional stat-raising property, it's a no-brainer to utilize this when you can. Forretress is back in the meta, so having a reliable way to deal with it is needed. Plus, since it runs Sturdy, Forretress is forced to either take two Torch Songs or switch out to another Pokémon, giving you a free +2 in Special Attack. It also reliably answers Iron Treads and Iron Thorns, as well as rival starter Meowscarada. It also answers Defog users Scizor and Corviknight fairly well, as well as Snow setter Abaomasnow.

Torch Song-specific Damage Calc(s);
   - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Torch Song vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Brute Bonnet: 386-456 (88.9 - 105%) -- 31.3% chance to OHKO

  - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Torch Song vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Forretress: 1152-1356 (325.4 - 383%) -- guaranteed OHKO (2HKO after Sturdy)

  - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Torch Song vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Baxcalibur: 216-255 (49.7 - 58.7%) -- 99.6% chance to 2HKO

  - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Torch Song vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Assault Vest Copperajah: 344-408 (89.3 - 105.9%) -- 37.5% chance to OHKO

  - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Torch Song vs. 252 HP / 88 SpD Amoonguss: 414-488 (95.8 - 112.9%) -- 75% chance to OHKO

  - 252+ SpA Choice Specs Skeledirge Torch Song vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Chien-Pao: 542-638 (180 - 211.9%) -- guaranteed OHKO

Without a doubt, this move is fantastic. Now, to argue against it for just a moment, on a Choice Specs set you are obviously forced into using only one move, so for Choice Specs, you might want to consider using Flamethrower instead. It loses the stat boost of Torch Song, but raw damage output might be better in some situations, for example against the Baxcalibur set. Torch Song will find itself used better on a set without Choice Specs, in my opinion.

[Image: Menu_SV_Skeledirge.png]
"Slow and Steady"
Skeledirge @ Expert Belt / Life Orb 
Ability: Blaze  
EVs: 248 HP / 252 SpA / 8 SpD  
Quiet Nature  
: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
- Torch Song  
- Earth Power  
- Disarming Voice / Tera Blast (Fairy) 
- Shadow Ball
As you can see, the moveset here remains the same, so we won't go over damage calcs again. The biggest difference is this set is accustomed for Trick Room teams. With its slow speed, Skeledirge finds a wonderful fitting on Trick Room to make threats that were once massive problems to it, like Dragapult or Gengar, all but obsolete as it begins to stockpile Special Attack boosts with Torch Song. We won't spend too much time on this, but a few things to watch out for are priority moves like Sucker Punch and Shadow Sneak. In place of Disarming Voice, you can run Tera Blast and any Tera Type of your choice. My suggestion is either Fairy or Normal to deal with Hydreigon + Roaring Moon, or to give yourself Ghost immunity. Choice Specs is not needed on this set as with Trick Room, the idea is you'll be 'fast' enough to get around threats as well as use the buffs from Torch Song. Experiment with this set as you see fit.

Potential Teammates to think of with Skeledirge include Pokémon who can set up the Sun. In this case, if you were to run a Sun setter, you might want to consider Solarbeam as an option to deal with Water-type Pokémon. Torkoal, in my mind, remains one of the prime Sun setters to use. Indeedee is currently the only Pokémon with access to Psychic Surge, making it an option to consider for countering priority moves. Trick Room is the best way to get the most out of this Pokémon, and the fastest option available currently is Iron Valiant. If that's not your style, you can always use Indeedee-M, Bronzong, or Slowbro to set it up.

Water Absorb Pokémon are going to benefit from having a massive target like Skeledirge on their side, so pairing this with a Pokémon like Clodsire or Gastrodon (Storm Drain), is generally good synergy to help scare off Pokémon like Palafin or Quaquaval. Additionally, Grass-types will also pair well to aid Skeledirge against Ground, Rock, and Water-types. Forretress, Donphan, and Maushold are great to pair with Skeledirge to clear entry hazards to keep Skeledirge going for longer, and in the case of the first two, can set up hazards of their own to hinder the foes.

Don't sleep on Skeledirge. I feel like this Pokémon has enormous potential as a Trick Room sweeper, and definitely has the moves to back it up. With Tera Blast and Terstalizing, you can scare off Pokémon that usually threaten you, such as turning into an Electric-type to scare of Water-types, or a Normal-type to negate your Ghost weakness, turning it into an immunity. With the right team, this Pokémon rivals other sweepers in the current meta, with or without Terastalizing. I seriously hope you consider using this Pokémon, I'm very keen to see how it helps to shape the meta moving forward. Thank you for reading, happy battles!

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