Trainer’s School: Sceptile Character Guide
Learn all about the ninja-like Forest Pokémon
This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.
The seventeenth Trainer’s School character guide is all about Sceptile, the Forest Pokémon. Sceptile and Blaziken both share a debut generation and origin- it’s just a shame that Swampart couldn’t appear alongside them both to complete the trio. Much like his Fire-type starter counterpart, Sceptile is a very swift and nimble character, but his movement and toolkit emphasize different aspects of rushdown. In fact, Sceptile is much more versatile and is perfectly okay with beginning his pressure from mid-to-long-range, taking advantage of his planted traps before moving in for combos up close.
Playstyle: Sceptile is a fast setplay character with a ‘ninja’ toolkit. Tools like his dash cancels, seeds, ceiling hangs and more are designed to allow you to harass your opponent at range, create an opening, and move in for big damage.
Values: 570 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 200cc Synergy Gauge.
Poké Moves: Bullet Seed: Preparation and Bullet Seed (Duel 5A…, Field n.A…,) Detect (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Leaf Blade (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Leech Seed (j.A,) Giga Drain (Duel only, 2A,) Leaf Storm (Duel only, 8A.)
High Stance: Heals dark green health.
Low Stance: Invincible against high-hitting moves.
Unique Features: Sceptile can Hang from the ceiling with j.R. Eventually, Sceptile will slip off the vine, but pressing R and a direction will let Sceptile hop away. Sceptile can also cancel Hang into aerials. Bullet Seed: Preparation is a command jump/command hop whose trajectory can be changed with a held direction. Bullet Seed: Preparation can likewise be cancelled into aerials, and a quick 5A tap will make Sceptile do a shorthop. (For brevity’s sake, I will refer to Bullet Seed: Preparation as BSP.) Several of Sceptile’s moves pass Defense debuffs onto the opponent: Field s.Y, Duel 8.Y, and Detect.
Several of Sceptile’s moves can be dash-cancelled with R and a direction or Hang-cancelled with j.R:
- In Field: n.Y, b.Y are dash cancellable
- In Duel: 5YY/5Y[Y], 5X/5[X], Giga Drain are dash cancellable. 6YY is Hang-cancellable.
- j.X can be Hang-cancelled in both Phases.
Several of Sceptile’s moves steal Synergy and HP from his opponent (or just grant him bonus meter.)
- In Field: b.Y (both HP and Synergy)
- In Duel: Giga Drain (both HP and Synergy,) Leaf Storm (bonus Synergy at the cost of an Attack debuff on self)
- Leech Seed (HP only)
Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.
Sceptile is a very typical ninja-like character at face value, with several dash cancels, tricky air movement, an Izuna Drop, and shuriken-like projectiles. However, due to his unique nature, Sceptile is less fragile than a normal rushdown ninja character, with the ability to heal himself by draining his opponent’s HP, and the ability to control the stage at any part of the screen. In both Phases, Sceptile’s Bullet Seeds and Leech Seeds can be used for damage, combos, block pressure, or healing. Sceptile can also either escape pressure with BSP, Hang, or Detect, or crush approaches at midrange with Leaf Blade. In Field Phase, the gecko Pokémon can harass his opponents with traps and projectiles, and in Duel, he can rushdown his opponent after opening them up from mid-to-far-range.
Sceptile has the ability to pollute the stage with a wide variety of time-delay projectiles that force your opponent to either respect your approach or use an aggressive tool that can clear or bypass them. Setting up j.Y and your Seeds as soon as possible will limit your opponent’s approach options. Field Bullet Seed fires a row of projectiles rather than the single projectile that appears in Duel, letting it cover more space. Likewise, Field Leech Seed shoots the two seeds horizontally rather than vertically, controlling the space in front of you more effectively. The j.Y bramble itself does no hitstun, but the main threat are the homing leaves after the bramble explodes.
The n.Y and s.Y projectiles are useful, but also require a bit more time to set up than your others, since they gain more utility on a charged input. The n.[Y] version of the shuriken are useful on okizeme, but you may as well just use your Seeds for the same purpose. Likewise, you can control the distance you throw the poisonous shrubbery with s.[Y,] but that’s mainly only useful if your opponent happens to retreat into it. You can use your b.Y to heal yourself if you’ve earned a bit of breathing room, or to throw crush, but otherwise it shouldn’t come out often in neutral either. (If you need to, you can dash cancel it in an unsafe situation.)
Remember all of your escape options if you need them. A charged b.[A]/4[A] Detect will let you vine swing away even if the counter armor isn’t triggered (but it won’t drop the Defense debuff poison explosion.) You can also cancel j.X into Hang as a feint, and then j.X again (but you can only j.X > Hang once.) Sceptile’s system movement is also very fast, allowing you to retreat and approach as you please. Leaf Blade’s deceptive range (the blade covers a large range) also lets you use the counter armor to punish mid-range normal approaches and clear the screen of enemy projectiles in front of you. (This is all essentially true in Duel Phase as well.)
Sceptile trades his ranged Y projectiles in Field for a plethora of moves with decent frame data that allow him to begin pressure at mid-range and then close in on his opponent, along with two command grab special moves. Furthermore, the big hitboxes and ability to dash cancel these moves, along with the threat of Seed traps, often make Sceptile safer than he really is. You can begin your setplay and okizeme pressure with both Seeds, run in with a standard 5YY blockstring (which we’ll talk more about in the Target Combo section) and then fade away if they’re continuing to block or they try a reversal. If they block or try to armor through the Seed traps from a distance, you can grab them with Giga Drain, steal some HP and meter, and then reset the situation. Since your Seeds and Giga Drain also deal no PSP (the actual projectile of Bullet Seed deals 3PSP, but otherwise the sprout deals 0PSP) these loops can keep your opponent in Duel Phase for a long time. The stun and distance that you earn on a critical Leaf Blade also gives you enough time to immediately throw with Giga Drain.
While your frame data is fairly decent, with most of your normal combo tools being -8 or less, you also don’t have an i11 normal on the ground, so you’ll mainly be relying on 5Y and 2Y for your pokes up close. J.Y is i11 and -8 but can be made safer if spaced well, since much like Leaf Blade it has a large hitbox. 5X/5[X] is slow, but can be dash cancelled at nearly any point, and the charged version will pierce, making it a good tool up close to punish wakeup command armor if your opponent wants to push through your Seed okizeme. 8Y has very tricky frame data (refer to the frame data sheet to understand more) but will mainly be used to anti-air and set up a briefly lingering poison cloud. If you get an antiair or a launcher hit- usually 6Y:Y or 8X- you can often try 8Y into Leaf Storm, but be aware that Sceptile will suffer a brief Attack debuff for landing a successful Leaf Storm.
Sceptile will likely build Burst very quickly if he’s using the tools that grant him bonus meter frequently and effectively, meaning that despite his 200c gauge he can potentially access Mega Sceptile in round one. Mega Sceptile’s transformation also lasts for 14 seconds, making his pressure last even longer than most other characters’. Sceptile gains the following properties while in Burst Mode:
- Both Field and Duel Phase grabs do additional damage as a result of having new attacks.
- Your Seeds will sprout faster.
- Leaf Blade receives a followup Poké Move, Dragon Breath. (6AA) Dragon Breath is -8 on block, compared to the -16/-20 Leaf Blade, and instantly Phase Shifts on hit.
Mega Sceptile’s main threat comes from the increased pressure from Seeds, the bonus damage from throws, and the relative safety of Dragon Breath. Your gameplan is mostly the same, but now with Dragon Breath your blockstrings have more pressure, and the threat of being caught out with a throw is high. Your opponent is also forced to respect your Burst Attack option, which you can use either as a reversal or to combo into after any special cancellable move. Mega Sceptile’s Burst Attack, Forest’s Flash, is an i23 counter-piercing dash attack that has counter armor on frame 1, and is invincible from frame 20. Its nature as a command counter makes it an exceptionally powerful reversal to use if your opponent somehow manages to put the pressure on you, but it also unfortunately means that you can be thrown out of it for a crit. It’s also best to use Forest’s Flash at close range, since it’s even on block and a fullscreen confirm won’t trigger the full damage animation.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Sceptile is one of the best characters in the game by far. Many notable players have found success with him in tournament due to his wide variety of tools, movement options, and excellent pressure at all parts of the screen. While he doesn’t have any traditional zoning (i.e. projectiles and fireballs from mid-to-long-range,) he still has large hitboxes and powerful pressure with Seeds and Field Phase tools. His ability to fade in and out of pressure up close also lets him play aggressively while also starting his setplay, and it’s totally possible to earn a Time Up win on your opponent even while going on the offensive. While Sceptile is by no means easy to learn, his tools are very cohesive and he doesn’t have any innate mechanic bloat, with no special gimmicks such as a stance system or Croagunk’s RNG. This grants him a fairly deep learning curve and even-to-favorable matchups with most of the cast, outside of his fellow top tiers like Mewtwo, Aegislash, and Chandelure. Sceptile is by far one of the most rewarding and versatile characters in the Pokkén roster.
Support and Cheer Pairings
Sceptile will find a few Support Sets particularly useful in every situation, and beyond that any other decisions are at the discretion of the player. Snivy-Lapras is a very powerful Set for the Forest Pokémon- Snivy serving as a powerful armored antiair to confirm into 8Y or Leaf Storm, and Lapras as an additional long-range pressure tool. In a similar vein, Rotom-Togekiss can lock down the air approach while enhancing Sceptile’s already exceptional mobility. Espeon-Umbreon can also give Sceptile some additional healing while clearing self-debuffs, or it can continue to pile debuffs onto his opponent while acting as another reversal option. Beyond that, your tastes may vary: Cubone-Diglett for pure block pressure, Yveltal-Latios for long-range traps, Mimikyu-Mega Rayquaza for high aggression, whatever suits you. Standard and Special Cheers will allow you to maximize your potential to snowball with valuable meter gains.
These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.
Sceptile’s main bread-and-butter loop involves special cancelling your combo starter into BSP j.3Y, following up with 5X, and repeating until you end with 5X Leaf Blade or something similar. Holding 3 (down and forward) during your BSP jump is essential in order for you to get the proper j.Y aim while also being close enough to your opponent in order to combo; however, this is also one of the main failure points of the combo, since if you hold 3 too early, you’ll get Giga Drain instead of BSP.
5YY 5A j.3Y 5X 5A j.3Y 5X 6A
5[X] 6R 5YY 5A j.3Y 5X 5A j.3Y 5X
The following loop will be harder, but will let you maximize your damage after a launcher such as a fully charged CA. If you don’t feel confident in the combo, ax explained in the Duel Phase section, you can often simply cash out by going directly into Leaf Storm from the 6Y:Y. (The just-frame 6Y:Y requires a delayed button press after the first Y, and causes a side-switch.) Similarly, you can also simply 8X into Leaf Storm.
[CA] 6Y:Y 8Y j.8Y 5YY 5A j.Y 6A
Sceptile is a ninja-like lizard Pokémon whose speed, unique movement, and wide variety of traps allows him to set the pace of the match. In Field Phase, Sceptile’s projectiles allow him to pressure his opponent by filling the stage with a variety of different obstacles that can be difficult to avoid. Once the game has Shifted to Duel, Sceptile focuses on dash-cancelling in and out of his opponent’s range while continuing to pressure them with his Seeds. No matter what Phase he is in, he has a plethora of tools that allow him to escape his opponent while also playing aggressively, and he can also heal himself while building his own meter. Mega Sceptile makes his Leaf Blade and Seeds more threatening while also providing him with an armored super move. Sceptile is generally considered a top tier character with few fully threatening matchups to be found.
The Sceptile guide was thankfully shorter than most of the recent guides, due to his relative simplicity compared to characters like Croagunk and Libre. The next guide will be the final character in the Speed-type category, before we move on to the Technical-type roster: the Sharp Claw Pokémon, Weavile!