All Gens On building with niche picks

it’s late, i’m drunk so I figured I’d write up some content

A niche pick is a mon or set that is underused and therefore unexpected during play or under-prepared for during teambuilding. In the case of “viable” mons, niche picks tend to be set changes meant exploit common play patterns or building tendencies of specific opponents. There are many examples of sets across generations that draw from this principle but one that stands out to me currently is from GSC OU:

Vaporeon @ Leftovers
- Hydro Pump
- Ice Beam
- Substitute
- Growth

Compared to standard RestTalk Vap, this set has a few advantages. Substitute can be used to gain free turns on low-percentage sacs, blocks Explosions (from Cloyster in particular), and can fish for Thunder misses against Electrics. The increased power of Hydro Pump is useful for grabbing KOs against Raikou and Snorlax; this set doesn’t mind the PP or accuracy losses because it’s “all-in.” Ice Beam is consistently strong against Exeggutor and Zapdos, two of Vaporeon’s most common checks.

The downsides of this set vs standard RestTalk are fairly large as well. Vaporeon loses any form of longevity it could potentially have and cannot be used as a defensive pivot at all.

To build a team around a set like this, you have to play to its strengths. For this Vap set, you want teammates that can keep up offensive pressure, can create openings for Vap, potentially provide support like paralyzation on electrics. Additionally, this team should have ways to break Suicune-based stall teams because this Vap set is dead in front of a Toxic Suicune. The set choice makes Vap much better against boom offenses than usual while retaining is strong qualities against Suicune-less stalls.

Set variations like this wax and wane with the metagame - sometimes they’re a great call and sometimes they’re not. It up to the builder to make that metagame or counterstyling decision. Common ways to mix up sets include held items - resist and custap berries, choice items, gems (in bw), or just the standard item choice to bluff the standard set are all good ways to do this.

For “unviable” mons, it’s important to identify their unique niche and ensure they’re not explicitly outclassed. If the niche mon you’re using is outclassed at the role you are using it for by a mon that is not already on your team, then do not use that niche mon. You are just limiting yourself if you do. For example, Floatzel is completely outclassed as an offensive water type rain abuser in BW OU by Keldeo and Starmie. However, a mon like LO offensive Vaporeon is not because it possesses a quality neither Keldeo or Starmie do in instant recovery in Hydration Rest. Even then, you still need to justify why you would want to use Vaporeon - what is it good and what is it a liability against? In this case, Vaporeon is very good against bulky rain teams (ie rain stalls), ok against weatherless DragMag, and pretty bad against offensive sands. It also is good when opponents use Amoonguss as a solo water resist, or when a water-resist core of Latios + Rotom-W is used. I’d only roll up with Vaporeon if I was confident my opponent would bring a team Vaporeon could perform against. In the building stage, you need to build in a way to cover Vaporeon’s bad matchups while still playing to its strengths (maybe pair with a fast scarfer or sweeper like Agility 3 atks Thundurus-T that can clean against sand and rain offenses and also appreciate opposing Ferro being weakened). Sometimes you use niche mons to free up their competition for another set on the team - maybe something like SpD empoleon to free up your Jirachi set in DPP. And sometimes you have to just scrap your niche pick all together, it happens.

that’s all I’ve got for now, please talk about building intricacies that’re on your mind in this thread


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is a Two-Time Past SPL Champion
I don't build around niche picks. Niche picks are what I sometimes end up with when I have a solid team of five and need a sixth that something weird just happens to fit perfectly into. That's how Poliwrath ended up on my first DPP team and I almost used a GSC team once with Blastoise on it. :pikuh:
Really good players tend to be better at sussing out when you're using a "niche pick" just from your play and decisions. An obvious example is something like switching Snorlax out of Zapdos (what is he being so cautious for?). For GSC OU I think it tends to be very important for more offensive teams, other wise a predictable offense could get beaten by a stall that gets an early advantage, and simply has switches into your standard sets.

You have to visualize the situations where you are going to use a "niche pick", and thus you have to have a rather solid understanding of the mon in question to make a "niche pick" worthwhile. For me, I think using, and sussing out deviations from standard plays, as represented by the concept of the thread is an absolutely essential skill for players who are aspiring to be good.

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