ship's a'goin' down!
First off, I like the Flapple set you posted, I agree that in most instances DD is kind of a waste and using Draco to hit certain physical walls more reliably definitely seems more appealing. That being said, I don't agree with this nomination. Flapple is absolutely a devastating breaker on paper and also can bring this into practice, but my issues with Flapple arise with how consistently it can do this. The fact of the matter is, as you already suggest yourself, that there is a fairly limited pool of Pokemon Flapple can actually hope to switch in on, in fact the only popular things that it can switch into fairly reliably are bulky Ground types like Sandaconda and Quagsire. This leaves it not only with few opportunities to come in and break without appropriate team support, but also with strikingly little to support the team with in return. After all, Flapple doesn't have a lot of bulk or reliable recovery and is easily worn down even by the things it checks.Hi! A nom for my recent obsession:
Flapple @ Life Orb
EVs: 252 Atk / 80 SpA / 176 Spe
- Grav Apple
- Draco Meteor
- Sucker Punch
- Outrage / U-turn
This is a really potent breaker that actually carries significant utility vs offense. You get in on something like Sandaconda, Lanturn, Jelli clicking something that isn't wisp etc. and click Grav Apple. Then do as follows!
If they switch in a faster grass resist:
The defense drop means that every faster grass resist drops to a follow up Sucker Punch that isn't fast Tsareena (getting rarer and rarer nowadays) - Zard, Toge, Bee, Whims, Scyther, Articuno, Centiskorch will all drop to this combination. This is the point where you have to predict, but you've already made some progress at the very least because LO Grav is doing like 75% to a Ribombee or 50% to a Tsareena.
If they switch in a slower grass resist:
Levitate Weezing is guaranteed to drop to a Grav Apple and Draco Meteor combination. Neutralizing Gas Weezing needs either rocks or sand chip for it to be guaranteed. Tangela will drop to the same combination. Drud of course dies to Draco Meteor. Sap Sipper
Ferroseed is trickier - Outrage will 2hko even max phys def sets after a Grav Apple drop, but the recoil + gyro ball damage will leave you almost dead, so use with caution. U-turn is handy here as grav into u-turn does like 50% minimum. Sap Sipper Miltank is 2hko'd by outrage but again, Outrage is a pretty suicidal move so use with caution.
If they switch in a non-resist
Any offensive mon will be dead or in range of Sucker Punch. Anything slower will be 2hko'd - even max phys def Aggron can drop to two Grav Apples. If you see a pesky phys def Avalugg it's gonna die to a Draco.
I feel like this set works to Flapple's strengths better than most other sets. Missing once or twice is less significant on a set like this that comes in a few times a match to punch holes than on sweeping DD sets. The immediate power of adamant and Life Orb means it scares mons like Gigalith and Sandaconda out more effectively with the threat of being 1hko'd. Outrage is an absolutely absurd nuke and threatens neutral fatmons like Scrafty, Audino and Articuno with outright 1hkos. Sucker Punch has utility even without Grav drops, having a 50% chance to drop Silv Ghost from full, chunking scarf Toge for like 70, doing the same to Archeops and bringing it into defeatist range and outright killing Articuno-Galar. And Draco Meteor gives you something to click to worry less about missing!
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8pu-1448917067 - Once Ferro goes Flapple has complete free reign on a team of fat
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8pu-1441670691 - Even with a bunch of really unfortunate misses Flapple tears up a team.
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8pu-1457396676-vv0h5ivghfov7gdvnjm1dijewxevhnspw - Nothing super out there but nabs a kill on a Zard and Sandaconda.
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8pu-1454409861-30ifz4daz1eylrxcz5b2si3wo79gdcopw - Breaks through a core of Stunfisk-G and Weezing
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8pu-1457497780 - Breaks a Weezing and cleans up
https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8pu-1453476321-n5xgnusz1i8d5l66kg106p1awhuowpxpw - Kills 4/6 mons vs a standard balance squad
In short, super strong breaker with good utility vs offense and meta changes have been favourable to it - no pass to absorb sucker punches, no silv steel to eat up hits and no Drampa means less dragon nuke competition. It's held back by missing, a lack of longevity with Life Orb use and general vulnerability to passive damage, but still a very solid choice imo that deserves to move up.
Moreover, it being a Grass type makes it harder to fit another Grass type like Tsareena on the same team without stacking weaknesses or conceding other holes in your team's defensive structure. Given that Tsareena is basically the best Pokemon in the meta, providing massive utility between Rapid Spin, Knock Off, general breaking power, and good defensive utility with Synthesis, this is quite a sacrifice to be making on a serious team. I think some of the teams in your replays do display some of these issues I'm hinting at, for example deploying subpar hazard control options or lacking resistances to certain relevant offensive types because it's already hard to cover everything in this meta as it stands. While this opportunity cost is not a dealbreaker by definition, a breaker that offers little specific defensive utility over direct competition for a teamslot needs to bring something special to the table that makes it worth justifying over another Pokemon. In particular, what I would demand of such a breaker is a high level of consistency, meaning it can consistently pull its weight in matches as long as you provide opportunities for it to come in. For example, in PU we could think of a breaker like Specs Guno, which you can't just slap on any team but which is very dangerous when properly supported thanks to a high speed tier for such a strong breaker and spammable STAB moves because of the relative lack of good Steels and Darks in the tier.
The point I want to make here is that Flapple does not quite pull its weight enough to justify running on most serious teams. There is significant opportunity cost in running it, moreso than most dangerous breakers I have in mind (i.e. Guno, Gallade, Centiskorch), but I do not get the sensation that it offers enough in return. Sure, its power is incredible, but its moves are only so easy to spam. Grav Apple is a fantastic move, but it's also a Grass types move, meaning it is rather commonly resisted. Outrage, meanwhile, is never really fun to lock yourself into, whereas Sucker Punch relies heavily on mindgames to do any work. What you outline is true: when you make the right calls, Flapple is devastating, potentially even against a seemingly solid counter like Ferroseed. However, in most matchups, you do have to make those calls, and while you do a good job of clicking the right moves in the replays you provided, most of your opponents here are also admittedly not very good and don't try to play around Flapple very well. Against more experienced players, I doubt that Flapple could attain the same level of consistency.
Finally, I should address the elephant in the room, which is the accuracy issue. Hustle Pokemon in general are caught in this zone for me where they basically have to be borderline broken, or else I don't think they're really worth running. When a mon like Flapple is already reliant on prediction, it is especially painful to have a built in 20% chance to do absolutely nothing to your opponent even when you do make the right prediction. While this can be corrected for in matchups vs slower teams where you have two opportunities to hit the switchin, any team which has faster stuff like Charizard or Ribombee (very common mons) as their potential Flapple check, missing a move means you just lost all momentum. Given the limited switchins Flapple typically gets against an experienced player, this is a huge setback that is often not worth the risk. It is no wonder, with this in mind, that Flapple got 0 usage in SCL to my recollection. In the ladder games you provided, your opponents facilitate your ability to make Flapple shine either because of inherent flaws in their building (i.e. there is no Fairy type) or because they don't play around it very well. Unless I start seeing it achieve similar successes in tour games between experiences players, however, I'm very skeptical that Flapple is worthy of a rise and may in fact deserve a move down the ranks before anything else.