Using Banette As a Competitive Pokémon in Pokémon X and Y
The Marionette Pokémon
Special Attack: 83
Special Defense: 63
Banette is a frighteningly interesting Pokémon by design, although competitively it's never stood out among other Ghost types. Its limited movepool, poor bulk, low Speed and mediocre typing all held it back from being a great Pokémon. The 6th generation games have given Banette a fantastic gift in the form of a mega evolution. This makes what was once a Ghost type that, much like its Pokedex entry, was abandoned for other Pokémon that simply outclassed it, a very useful and and powerful threat in the 6th gen. metagame.
One useful property that Banette has is that it is one of a handful of useful Pokémon with the ability Insomnia, giving it immunity to Spore and all other sleeping moves, which is incredibly useful with so many different Pokémon that are now armed with Sleep Powder and Spore. It has taken over three Generations, but Banette now has the tools to be the great Pokémon it deserves to be.
Special Attack: 93
Special Defense: 83
The biggest buff that Banette receives when it mega evolves is the 50 point Attack boost, giving it an insane 165 base attack, on par with Mega-Tyranitar. Mega-Banette's defenses also get a boost, giving it usable bulk along with a now respectable 93 Special Attack to compliment its decent Special movepool. The biggest buff overall that Mega-Banette receives, arguably, is the ability Prankster. Prankster, along with Banette's great support movepool containing moves such as Will-O-Wisp, Destiny Bond, Pain Split, Taunt and Curse, make Banette a great support Pokémon, potentially outclassing even Sableye, one of the premier stall.support Pokémon of this generation. STAB Shadow Sneak and Shadow Claw coming off of a huge base 165 Attack are also very scary and can make quick work of the less bulky Pokémon in the metagame.
Unfortunately, Banette's painfully shallow physical movepool and pure Ghost typing prevent it from truly taking advantage of its massive Attack stat. Outside of Shadow Sneak, Shadow Claw and Phantom force for STAB moves, Banette's only other notable physical attacks are Sucker Punch, Pursuit, and Gunk Shot. This means that Dark types and some Steel types can easily wall Banette with its limited coverage. Banette also has less than stellar bulk without any EV investment, leaving it vulnerable to other strong Ghost types and Dark types, which are common in the OU tier. Even with these limitations, however, Banette still manages to be a great Pokémon with lots of potential.
Movesets To Consider
252 Def/252 Sp Def/4 Atk
Knock Off/Sucker Punch/Shadow Sneak
Thanks to Prankster and Banette's great support movepool, it can easily cripple opposing walls as well as physical attackers with Taunt and Will-O-Wisp. Pain Split acts as a form of recovery, and with Banette's low HP, no EV investment ensures that you'll always do massive damage against Pokemon with high HP and recover that much more health consistently. The choice between Knock Off, Sucker Punch, and Shadow Sneak comes down to which Pokemon you want to hit, and which Pokemon you don't want to have trouble with. Knock Off offers the most utility and reliability, since no Pokemon is immune to Dark type moves, and getting rid of the opposing Pokemon's item is always a good thing. Even without full investment, Banette's Attack is still high enough to dent whatever it hits with its attacking move. STAB Shadow Sneak is great for dispatching already weakened foes and pairs well with Pain Split. Most physical attackers are neutered by Will-O-Wisp and with the bulk granted by maximum defensive investment.
Any Magic Bounce Pokemon can easily ruin Banette's plans, but any of Banette's attacking moves can easily OHKO most Magic Bounce Pokemon except for Mega-Absol. Opposing Prankster Pokemon, especially Thundurus-I, can be very bothersome for Banette, as most of them carry Taunt as well, and even Banette's STAB moves don't easily KO them. In these cases it's better to switch out than to play the mind games necessary to play around other Pranksters. Opposing Ghost types can also be hard to deal with, especially Gengar, Chandelure, and Special Attacking Aegislash variants, but Banette's Shadow Sneak or Shadow Claw can be devastating to those Pokemon, so some careful prediction is required.
252 Atk/252 Sp Atk/4 Def
Shadow Claw/Shadow Sneak
Hidden Power Fighting
This set takes full advantage of Banette's massive base 165 Attack, and with Hidden Power Fighting, it doesn't fear Dark or Steel types. Shadow Claw is stronger than Shadow Sneak overall, but the priority combined with Pursuit trapping potential is another viable strategy. This is a very straightforward moveset, and the four moves you choose are really up for debate, depending on how exactly you want to play Banette. A priority move is pretty much mandatory, as it mitigates the low Speed that Banette has with a Brave nature. Pain Split is used here again as a form of recovery and it can easily bring physically bulky Pokemon down to size. Banette's base 93 Special Attack is enough to do a good chunk of damage with Hidden Power Fighting to anything that it hits super effectively, and it easily OHKOes Pokemon like Tyranitar and Bisharp.
Strong Ghost and Dark types, especially ones with priority attacks, are the biggest threats that Banette faces. Aegislash, Bisharp, and Pokemon with a strong Sucker Punch, such as Mawile, Absol, or Honchkrow are all capable of OHKOing Banette with Sucker Punch, so it's best to stay away from those Pokemon most of the time, unless you opt to run Will-O-Wisp over Pain Split, which is a viable option as well, and it lets you cripple most physical attackers that might try to set up on Banette or try to take it out. This set is much more frail, but with proper planning, it can be a very powerful asset to your team.
Being such a great support Pokemon, Banette makes for a great partner to lots of Pokemon that require set up in order to be the most effective. Its Taunt can disable walls and opposing Ghosts and Rotom from using Will-O-Wisp and Toxic to disable your sweepers and powerhouse Pokemon. Pokemon that resist Dark type attacks are also great partners since they can eliminate some of Banette's checks and counters to make it easier for Banette to do whatever job you want it to. Just remember that Banette is the kind of Pokemon that must be dedicated to one role on a team, and the rest of your team should support that or Banette should support them.
Dragonite has become one of the best Dragon type Pokemon in the metagame thanks to Multiscale and its great natural bulk. Dragonite is the only Dragon type in the OU metagame with a priority move, and a strong one at that, in Extremespeed. Dragonite's Dragon Dance set appreciates a free turn of set up, and Banette's Prankster Taunt is the perfect to ensure this against defensive Pokemon and Pokemon that might try to cripple Dragonite. Once Dragonite can set up, there is little that can stop it. Fantastic base 134 Attack and decent Speed that's made even better with a Dragon Dance make it a fantastic partner to Banette.
Conkeldurr is a Pokemon that is always a threat, and only the strongest of super effective moves can cleanly take it out. Now that the Assault Vest has made it even bulkier along with Drain Punch, but Guts lets Conkeldurr take all of the status moves that Banette doesn't want to, and before mega evolving, Banette can absorb all of the sleep moves that cripple Conkeldurr. Conkeldurr's great movepool and enormous Attack let it handle just about any Pokemon that Banette can't, and its Mach Punch takes care of just about any Dark type that Banette can't handle. This generation, Conkeldurr is a huge threat that should always be considered when choosing your teammates.
Greninja is possibly one of the best starter Pokemon of all time. With Protean, fantastic Speed, and decent mixed attacking stats, it's a very versatile Pokemon. A great movepool and Water/Dark typing make it a perfect partner for Banette in order to handle particularly annoying Pokemon. Gaining STAB on literally every move it has gives it a fantastic boost offensively and defensively, gaining resistances and immunities at will. With Banette for support, Greninja is free to punch holes and gain momentum with U-Turn as it pleases and weaken opposing threats for Banette to finish off later on. All of theses tools make Greninja one of the most flexible and useful Pokemon on just about any team.
Mega-Banette X/Y Battle
Banette In Action
This battle shows the synergy that both Mega-Banette and Greninja have with each other, and just how threatening Banette is in the late game with it great Attack stat and priority Will-O-Wisp.
Which Pokemon Should I Cover Next?
All in all, while Banette never had the chance to be a great pokemon, its new mega evolution is just what the doctor ordered for this cursed doll. It's a fantastic support Pokemon on offensive and balanced teams. It's also a surprisingly powerful physical attacker with priority and powerful STAB moves, albeit with a very limited movepool. If you haven't given Mega-Banette a chance yet, you should definitely give it a shot.
As always, there will be a reader poll so you can vote on the next Pokemon for me to cover! If I missed anything or if you have any suggestions for other sets, let me know in the comments below!
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