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[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #8: Incineroar

Related imageTCG Art by Hitoshi Ariga (Sun & Moon 26)

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with my eighth PokéAnalysis, featuring a repeat of an analysis from the previous year. A hero we need, but don’t deserve, the almighty Incineroar!

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“Incineroar, the Heel Pokémon. This Pokémon has a violent, selfish disposition. If it’s not in the mood to listen, it will ignore its Trainer’s orders with complete nonchalance. Although it’s rough mannered and egotistical, it finds beating down unworthy opponents boring. It gets motivated for stronger opponents. When its fighting spirit is set alight, the flames around its waist become especially intense. After hurling ferocious punches and flinging furious kicks, it finishes opponents off by spewing fire from around its navel.”


Pokémon Details

Image result for incineroar

Abilities:

  • Blaze – When HP is below 1/3rd its maximum, power of Fire-type moves is increased by 50%.
  • Intimidate (Hidden Ability) – Upon entering battle, the opponent’s Attack lowers one stage. In a Double Battle, both opponents’ Attack are lowered. Pokémon with the Clear Body, Hyper Cutter, or White Smoke ability are unaffected.

Base Stats:

Stat Base Value Real Values
HP 95 155-202
Attack 115 108-183
Defense 90 85-156
Special Attack 80 76-145
Special Defense 90 85-156
Speed 60 58-123

The distribution of Incineroar’s stats are balanced with a relatively high base Attack stat of 115, as well as its considerable bulk consisting of its base HP stat of 95, along with base Defense and Special Defense stats of 90. Because Incineroar’s defensive stats are identical, this permits flexibility in bulk investment, which grants players many ways to train their Incineroar to take the hits it needs to. The main downside of Incineroar is its slow base Speed stat of 60, but it can also hard counter notable setters of Trick Room like Cresselia and Gothitelle, while functioning in Trick Room fairly well. Because of its Fire and Dark typing, Incineroar provides an interesting defensive coverage for its allies, as well as an adequate amount of offensive prowess from its base attack stat of 115.


Notable Moves

Flare Blitz
Incineroar’s staple move in competitive play. With its base Attack stat of 115, combined with the move’s base power of 120, there’s no way of turning down this sheer amount of power. Though there’s recoil damage from this move, it’s well worth the damage output Incineroar would dish out on opposing Pokémon.

Darkest Lariat
Incineroar’s signature move. With a base power of 80, Incineroar can deal adequate damage with this move. What makes this move stand out from other Dark-type moves is it ignores the defensive stat boosts of opposing Pokémon. Furthermore, this move also allows Incineroar to unleash its signature Z-Move, Malicious Moonsault.

Knock Off
Another important Dark-type move of Incineroar. Normally seen on utility sets such as Assault Vest or Pinch Berry, Incineroar would not only get a STAB, but it can also deprive its opponent of an important item, most notably their berries. This is especially useful on opposing Psychic-types such as Cresselia and Gothitelle.

Fake Out
Arguably Incineroar’s most important move aside from Flare Blitz. Though Psychic Terrain is existent in the format, Incineroar can still apply Fake Out pressure to many, especially Flying-types and those with Levitate as their abilities since they don’t benefit from the Psychic Terrain. This allows Incineroar to provide support for its allies to set up with either speed control or a stat boost.

Snarl
Most commonly seen on Assault Vest variants, Incineroar can further its bulk by lowering the Special Attack stats of opposing Pokémon, and combined with its newly released Intimidate, Incineroar is sure to be painful to take down.

Protect
The VGC staple, which allows Incineroar to dodge incoming attacks. Protect is especially helpful for more offensive variants, allowing players to keep their Incineroar on the field as long as possible.


Common Items

Assault Vest

The most popular item on Incineroar, the Assault Vest gives Incineroar an immense amount of special bulk, with the cost of being able to use any status moves. The Assault Vest variants of Incineroar are usually utility Pokémon with Fake Out and Knock Off as its supporting moves. It has access to other utility moves like U-Turn and Snarl. Incineroar also has a good offensive movepool, which makes move choices flexible for teams.

Incinium Z

A more offensive choice for Incineroar. The Incinium Z allows Incineroar to fire off its signature Z-Move, Malicious Moonsault, dealing immense damage to bulky Pokémon like Cresselia, Gothitelle, and Aegislash. This Z-Move also allows Incineroar to safely hit an incoming Heatran, which has Flash Fire as its ability, not allowing Heatran a free boost for its Fire-type moves.

Pinch Berry
 /  /  / 
Pinch Berries are another option for Incineroar’s utility, granting it an option for recovery, as well as the luxury to protect itself. In some cases, the recoil damage from Incineroar’s Flare Blitz would proc the berry, essentially a free recovery.


Role in the Metagame

Related image

During its debut last year, Incineroar was not a very popular choice because it was significantly outclassed by Arcanine. This is because of its natural ability in Intimidate, along with a great movepool comprising Extreme Speed, Bulldoze, and even an offensive coverage move in Wild Charge. However, with the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, along with the VGC 2018 format, Incineroar received a significant buff in its movepool. Incineroar gained access to one of its most important utility moves in Knock Off. It also gained access to coverage moves like Low Kick, Thunder Punch, and Stomping Tantrum. With a more diverse selection in Fire-type Pokémon, as well as the abundance of Cresselia and Aegislash, Incineroar became a rising star, even with Blaze as its ability. Its bulk and typing are what appeals to players the most when teambuilding for the format. More competitors have sustained success with this Pokémon in comparison to last year.

Just very recently, its Hidden Ability got released, and Incineroar significantly improved in the format with Intimidate. With this newfound ability in Intimidate, it significantly improves archetypes including Manectric and Friends, Gardevoir and Friends, as well as the increasingly popular duo of Salamence and Tapu Koko. Though Incineroar may be unable to dethrone Landorus-Therian in usage, it is unequivocally a much more substantial threat than it was before the release of its Hidden Ability. Naturally, Incineroar has been one of the best, if not, the best starter Pokémon in VGC history, being the first one viable without its Hidden Ability. Only time will tell if there will be another starter Pokémon poised to accomplish similar results like Incineroar has.


Sample Movesets

Razer Cat

Incineroar
Ability: Intimidate
Nature: Adamant
EV: H236 A116 B76 D68 S12
Stats: 200-165-120-XX-119-82
Held Item: Assault Vest
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– Snarl
– Fake Out

A: Hits mid-range bump
B: Survives a rain boosted Waterfall from an adamant Mega Swampert 15/16 times after an intimidate
D: Survives a rain boosted Hydro Pump from Kingdra 15/16 times
S: Outspeeds a minimum speed Cresselia of a quiet nature by 1

This is presumably a set most know about. I’ll start things off with Conan Wild (@RazerVGC)’s famous Assault Vest set that’s been widely used by many. This particular set is known to be a part of his famous team, “Gardevoir and ZapCat”. If you’d like to read about how the team works, you can find the team report on Trainer Tower. The way this spread was designed is mostly catered to the rain matchup, as he stated his team struggles against rain. His main benchmarks are for Incineroar to survive a Waterfall from Mega Swampert 15/16 times, as well as a rain boosted Hydro Pump from Kingdra 15/16 times. Now, with Intimidate, the Mega Swampert calc can apply to when it’s rain boosted. This is a great example of designing an EV spread based on the team’s needs, and with Razer’s team in mind, there is flexibility to utilize Incineroar’s supportive options while the rain is up.

If you want to try out his team, you can click the following:
Team Paste
QR Code

It’s Snack Time!
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Incineroar
Ability: Intimidate
Nature: Adamant
EV: H204 A116 B4 D164 S20
Stats: 196-165-111-131-83
Held Item: Pinch Berry
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– Fake Out
– Protect

H: HP stat is 4n, which is optimized for the berry
A: Hits the mid-range bump
B: Survives an Earthquake from an adamant Landorus-Therian, will be able to take two Stomping Tantrums from Mega Metagross 75% of the time after an intimidate
D: Survives a Choice Specs boosted Scald from a modest Tapu Fini 15/16 times, a Moonblast from a modest Tapu Lele is a guaranteed 4HKO with the berry’s recovery
S: Speed creeps a minimum speed Cresselia of a quiet nature by 2 and a Celesteela with 4 EV’s in speed by 1

This particular set is designed to let Incineroar heal itself while utilizing its supportive moves. With the exception of the Wiki Berry, Incineroar would enjoy the recovery from one of these berries, combined with its newfound ability in Intimidate. This allows Incineroar to protect itself alongside the recovery, which is something at least a few players would prefer over the Assault Vest. The main benchmarks behind this set are an Earthquake from a Landorus-Therian, as well as a Choice Specs boosted Scald from a Tapu Fini. On top of that, I made sure the HP stat is divisible by four to account for a random Guardian of Alola from a Tapu Koko. Because of Intimidate, there aren’t many other physical benchmarks that are significantly important.

Go for the Moon

Incineroar
Ability: Intimidate
Nature: Adamant
EV: H212 A196 B4 D12 S84
Stats: 197-176-111-112-91
Held Item: Incinium Z
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
– Fake Out
– Protect

A: Hits the highest bump
B: Survives an Earthquake from an adamant Landorus-Therian
D: Survives a Choice Specs boosted Muddy Water from a modest Tapu Fini, stat is one point higher than the Defense stat
S: Outspeeds Mega Metagross under Tailwind, outspeeds minimum speed Mimikyu

Image result for incineroar z move gif

With the popularity of Pokémon like Cresselia and Aegislash, this format is where Incineroar’s signature Z-Move can shine. Barring an intimidate, Incineroar can quickly knock out on Psychic-types and Ghost-types with the Malicious Moonsault. This particular set is inspired by the one created by Zac Emerzian (@ZacEmer) on the Trainer Tower analysis of this Pokémon. However, I wanted to prioritize speed since I felt being able to outspeed Mega Metagross is more important than picking up OHKO’s on a Landorus or a Tapu Bulu. This is strictly due to the fact Metagross now has access to Stomping Tantrum. As Emerzian stated, an Incineroar like this has an adequate mix of bulk and offense. The Special Defense stat is one point higher than the Defense stat just in case there is a Porygon2, denying a Special Attack boost. I’ve been a big fan of Malicious Moonsault’s animation in the games. Finally witnessing it in the anime only made this Z-Move much cooler.


Sample Partners

Gardevoir and Friends
Therian Forme +  / 
As famously demonstrated by Razer, Incineroar is an integral part of this archetype. It provides Fake Out support to help Gardevoir and Zapdos set up with their respective methods of speed control, as well as Tapu Fini for a potential Calm Mind. Players can shuffle intimidates throughout with both Landorus-T and Incineroar, allowing their allies to stay on the field much longer against physical attackers. Amoonguss provides redirection support, taking Fighting-type attacks for Incineroar, as well as putting opposing Pokémon to sleep. Both Amoonguss and Ferrothorn are prominent counters to rain; however, Ferrothorn threatens significant damage to faster Pokémon, primarily a Landorus-Therian carrying a Choice Scarf. Ferrothorn has a slower win condition in Leech Seed + Leftovers recovery, being able to stall out opposing Pokémon without much answers for Ferrothorn. Aegislash can not only switch into a Fighting-type move, but it also forces mind games on your opponent. Thanks to its ability Stance Change, Aegislash makes physical attackers cautious of getting their Attack stats hampered by a King’s Shield. Aegislash can also provide Wide Guard support for Incineroar, blocking super effective Rock Slides or Earthquakes. Another cool trick is utilizing Fake Out from Incineroar to allow Aegislash to set up a Substitute.

Manectric and Friends
 
With the access to Intimidate, Incineroar makes a solid asset for this archetype, assigning the team to answer Ferrothorn much more reliably, as well as providing Fake Out support. With Manectric, they are adept to shuffle intimidates around, hampering the Attack stats of opposing Pokémon in order to preserve their allies on the field much longer. Manectric and Incineroar both have access to Snarl as well, which means special attacking Pokémon aren’t off the hook from the slower pace of this team either. In addition, Manectric’s ability before Mega Evolution is Lightningrod, redirecting Electric-type attacks away from its allies and gain a Special Attack boost. This is especially helpful against a Tapu Koko or a Zapdos attempting to fire off a Gigavolt Havoc. Snorlax and Gothitelle are the focal point of the team. Their objective is trapping opposing Pokémon on the field after Snorlax sets up a Belly Drum, adapting it from a just a very bulky Pokémon into an offensive juggernaut, a terrifying threat under a Trick Room. Tapu Fini is a great partner for Incineroar because it takes both Water-type and Fighting-type attacks with ease, while Incineroar can take Grass-type attacks, especially from a Kartana. In addition, Tapu Fini’s Misty Surge protects Snorlax from getting burned or poisoned, allowing Snorlax to execute its ill power much longer. Celesteela is able to switch into incoming Ground-type attacks that may target Manectric or Incineroar. It can also counter rain with the Special Defense boost from the Misty Seed, as well as Acrobatics, dealing super effective damage to a Ludicolo. Moreover, Celesteela has a defensive win condition with Leech Seed + Leftovers recovery. With Incineroar’s support, Celesteela can be painful to face after several intimidates.

Salamence and Tapu Koko

A rising duo in the format, Salamence and Tapu Koko, otherwise known as “Mence/Koko”, can be safely lead against a handful of the meta because of their excellent synergy. Salamence intimidates an opposing Landorus-T with a potential Choice Scarf, while Tapu Koko threatens an opposing Zapdos or Tapu Fini that may deal super effective damage to Salamence. With the inclusion of Incineroar, there’s a strong dynamic with the three, establishing a Dragon/Fairy/Dark core, and so, the combination of “Mence/Koko/Roar” has been born. Prior to the release of Intimidate for Incineroar, the combination has been a bit lackluster, one of the reasons is how naturally powerful Landorus-Therian is with its ridiculous base attack of 145, along with the fact Salamence loses Intimidate once it Mega Evolves. Now that Incineroar has its Hidden Ability, there is a more consistent way to contribute the Intimidate support. What Incineroar can provide for this duo is Fake Out support for Tapu Koko to safely switch out with a Volt Switch, use a potential Hidden Power Ice on an opposing Landorus-Therian or Salamence, or even fire off a Gigavolt Havoc for a quick knock out. As for Salamence, Incineroar’s Fake Out support allows it to set up with either a Tailwind or even a Dragon Dance. Incineroar also provides Snarl support for Tapu Koko and Salamence, hampering the Special Attack stats of Pokémon like Cresselia and Heatran. What’s more, Tapu Koko covers Incineroar against Water-types, while Salamence covers against Fighting-types and Ground-types for Incineroar.


Threats

Landorus-Therian
Therian Forme
Landorus can hamper Incineroar’s damage output with its own intimidate, as well as threaten super effective damage with Rock Slide, Earthquake, Superpower, or even a Tectonic Rage. Make sure to have Water-type or Ice-type coverage to deal with an opposing Landorus.

Water-types
West SeaEast SeaWash Rotom
In general, Incineroar does not like to take damage from Water-types. Mega Blastoise has a faster Fake Out support, and with proper speed control, it can sweep teams with a Water Spout. Gyarados has its own intimidate support for its allies, and many Gyarados typically carry either the Flyinium Z or the Gyaradosite, which helps it attain Mega Evolution. Mega Gyarados may lose Intimidate after Mega Evolution, but it gains Dark-typing, which means it can completely wall Incineroar while setting up a Dragon Dance. Azumarill is notorious for Belly Drum combined with Huge Power, and with Aqua Jet, Incineroar is easily going to get knocked out. Suicune is very bulky, and it can set up Tailwind for its allies. Milotic is the bane of Incineroar’s existence because of its ability Competitive, which grants it a +2 special attack boost from the intimidate. Empoleon, though not common, has access to Defiant, which gets a free +1 Attack boost from the intimidate. With moves like Waterfall and Aqua Jet, Empoleon is a tremendous threat. Gastrodon has access to both Scald and Earth Power as super effective STAB coverage. Earth Power also has a slight chance to lower Incineroar’s Special Defense stat, possibly rendering the Assault Vest useless for future turns. Rotom-Wash is very bulky, and it can fire off a huge Hydro Pump. Sometimes, they can carry the Waterium Z to inflict fatal damage to Incineroar. Tapu Fini’s typings of Water and Fairy walls Incineroar completely, and it deals significant damage with a Muddy Water or a Scald. Sometimes, Tapu Fini would carry a Choice Specs, significantly increasing its damage output to put a huge dent on Incineroar.

 /  +  /  / 
Rain is a horrible matchup for Incineroar since many of the attacks can easily knock out Incineroar, or at least deal heavy damage. Politoed is obnoxious to face because of its bulk, combined with access to disruptive moves like Icy Wind, Encore, and Perish Song. Pelipper has access to Tailwind for speed control, as well as Brine, an effective response to the Assault Vest variants. Kingdra and Ludicolo are abusers that can fire off a fast Hydro Vortex, which deals terrible damage to many Pokémon that do not resist Water-type moves. Swampert is the only physical abuser, but the intimidate from Incineroar is not much of a concern since it will always 2HKO Incineroar outside of rain with either of its STAB coverage moves: Waterfall or Earthquake.

Rock-types

All, except for Nihilego, are physical attackers with access to the infamous Rock Slide. This move deals super effective damage to Incineroar, as well as implement its 30% flinch rate for each Pokémon on the opposing side. Aerodactyl has a supportive role, mainly setting up speed control in Tailwind or causing disruption with Sky Drop, preventing potential set ups from Incineroar’s allies. Tyranitar has Dark as its secondary typing, which walls Incineroar completely barring a potential Low Kick or Stomping Tantrum, which is very unlikely for the most part. Tyranitar typically carry Low Kick to account for opposing Tyranitar, which makes switching Incineroar into the field a risky move. Furthermore, Mega Tyranitar are notoriously known to carry Dragon Dance to position itself as an offensive powerhouse, cancelling out intimidates from Incineroar. Terrakion are known to be paired with Whimsicott for Beat Up + Justified shenanigans, giving Terrakion free Attack boosts. Terrakion and Whimsicott are naturally faster than Incineroar, which means Tailwind isn’t 100% necessary to set up. In this year’s format, Terrakion are known to carry the Rockium Z to work around Wide Guard, which forces a 50/50 scenario for Incineroar’s Fake Out. Terrakion is also a Fighting-type, typically carrying Close Combat as its STAB Fighting-type move. Since Incineroar is a Dark-type, Terrakion can easily switch into any of Incineroar’s moves safely, barring a burn from Flare Blitz. Nihilego is the only special attacking Rock-type. A Power Gem from this Pokémon can deal significant damage to Incineroar, and if Nihilego picks up a knock out, it gets a Beast Boost in Special Attack, which is terrifying to stare down. Stakataka has a huge base defense of 211. However, in order to grant it a Beast Boost in Attack, legendary three time World Champion Ray Rizzo (@RayRizzoVGC) stated that Stakataka should have a lonely nature with 16-17 IV’s in Defense. Although Stakataka gets a significant nerf in Defense, 201 is still a very high Defense stat, and Incineroar can’t deal very much damage to it in general. Furthermore, Stakataka has access to Trick Room, which means it will be a terrifying sweeper once Trick Room gets set up.

Fighting-types
 
Hitmontop and Scrafty are both Fighting-types with Intimidate and Fake Out support. they are built more defensively and don’t deal as much damage as the others, they are bulky enough to shuffle intimidates, already making them painful to deal with. Scrafty also has access to Knock Off, which can deny Incineroar of its Assault Vest or berry, granting an easier time to take down Incineroar. Mega Lopunny has a high base attack of 136, so it comes down to whether the opposing Lopunny has Drain Punch or High Jump Kick. If the Lopunny has High Jump Kick, Incineroar’s saving grace is it either misses or hits a protect, giving it a huge backlash of recoil damage for the move’s 90% accuracy. Blaziken and Kommo-o are a terrible matchup for Incineroar since they both resist Incineroar’s STAB coverage attacks, essentially allowing them to set up for free. Virizion can deal significant damage with Close Combat. In some cases, they may carry the Scope Lens to further boost the high critical hit ratios of Leaf Blade and Stone Edge, which slightly increases the critical hit rate of Close Combat as well. Considerably a “gimmicky” Pokémon, Primeape is actually terrifying for Incineroar because it’s a Fighting-type. With its base speed of 95 combined with its respectable base Attack of 105, it’s easy for Primeape to utilize its Defiant boost to pick off Incineroar with ease.

Sand
 +  / 
Sand is an unfavorable matchup for Incineroar based on typing alone. The best Incineroar can do against this archetype is intimidate the opposing side, or provide Fake Out support. Tyranitar in this archetype are typically carrying the Choice Scarf, although some players opt to go with its Mega Evolution to improve the matchup against opposing weather. Salamence can lower Incineroar’s Attack stat with Intimidate, and it can also resist a Flare Blitz from Incineroar with its Dragon-typing combined with its base Defense of 130. Against the Japanese variants, Incineroar may be capable of dealing super effective damage with a Flare Blitz to Excadrill; however, Excadrill is a Ground-type, which threatens super effective damage in return. It can even capitalize off a withdrawal by setting up with a Swords Dance, which can cancel the intimidate. Though not common, there’s also the American variant involving Landorus-Incarnate, which utilizes its Sand Force ability. Rather than a speed boost, Landorus would gain a damage boost from the sandstorm, which slightly improves the archetype’s matchup against Trick Room. Normally, Landorus-Incarnate is a special attacker, which means it does not care about an Intimidate from Incineroar. Landorus can deal significant damage with an Earth Power, or even a possible Stone Edge.

Other Pokémon with Defiant

Braviary is a slightly unconventional pick. Against the likes of Incineroar, it can prove very effective with the Defiant boost, as well as its access to Superpower. Braviary would normally carry the Flyinium Z, and with the Supersonic Skystrike based off Brave Bird, Incineroar would not have a fun time facing a Braviary. Furthermore, Braviary has access to Tailwind as a means of speed control for its allies. Bisharp doesn’t threaten Incineroar directly. However, with the way many teams are built nowadays, Bisharp can be a prime threat with Defiant boosts since many teams can’t efficiently respond to Bisharp as of now. With access to Sucker Punch, Bisharp can pick up quick knock outs onto offensive threats on the opposing side.


Closing Thoughts

In the beginning of the 2018 format, Incineroar has proven itself to become one of the best Fire-type and Dark-type Pokémon in VGC 2018. With the release of Intimidate, this Pokémon became a much stronger force in the format, granting its allies more versatility in their matchups. If you would like a Pokémon with a superb mix of offense and utility, Incineroar is a very noteworthy choice.

 

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[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #7: Ferrothorn

ferrothorn___power_whip_by_ishmam-d5zmcwn

Artwork by ishmam.

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with my seventh segment of my PokéAnalysis series for the VGC 2018 format! This time, I’ll be featuring one of the best anti-meta Pokémon in VGC history, the spiniest and slowest of all Grass-types, Ferrothorn.

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“Ferrothorn, the Thorn Pod Pokémon. They attach themselves to cave ceilings, firing steel spikes at targets passing beneath them. A hit from these steel spikes can reduce a boulder to rubble.”


Pokémon Details

598

Abilities:

  • Iron Barbs: If physical contact is made on this Pokémon, the opponent will receive damage equal to 1/8th of its maximum HP.
  • Anticipation (Hidden Ability): Warns when the foe knows 1-hit KO or super-effective moves.

Base Stats:

Stat

Base Value Real Values
HP 74

134-181

Attack 94

89-160

Defense

131

122-201

Special Attack

54

53-116

Special Defense

116

108-184

Speed 20

22-79


Notable Moves

Power Whip
Power Whip is one of Ferrothorn’s staple STAB attacks with an insane base power of 120, allowing it to deal a lot of damage to most Water-types in the format with ease. The biggest drawback to this move is its 85% accuracy, which is even lower than one of the most infamous moves in the game, Rock Slide. However, because Ferrothorn has a relatively lackluster base attack of 94, Power Whip is usually the superior option over the more accurate Seed Bomb, which has a lackluster base power of 80.

Gyro Ball
Gyro Ball is the other staple STAB attack of Ferrothorn, which increases the faster the opposing Pokémon is compared to Ferrothorn. Because Ferrothorn has an abysmal base speed of 20, it is the second slowest Pokémon in the format with access to this move, only losing out to Stakataka’s base speed of 13. With this in mind, Ferrothorn can deal a lot of damage to many fast Pokémon in the format, most notably Tapu Koko, as well as a Tapu Lele carrying a Choice Scarf.

Leech Seed
On many standard sets, this is Ferrothorn’s most infamous move, being able to steal HP from opposing Pokémon, as well as stalling them out with this move, combined with recovery from either the Leftovers or even a pinch berry. This move in particular gives the player a more defensive win condition, as Ferrothorn cannot be stopped easily by the majority of this year’s metagame. The biggest drawback for this move is its 90% accuracy.

Protect
A typical VGC staple, this helps Ferrothorn not only dodge attacks, but allow it to have a turn of free residual recovery from the Leftovers.

Knock Off
Typically found on Choice Band variants, this allows Ferrothorn to deprive an opposing Pokémon of its item. Normally, it allows Ferrothorn to deny recovery on extremely bulky Pokémon such as Cresselia and Snorlax, which grants its allies a significantly easier time in taking those two down.

Bulldoze
Another move found on Choice Band variants, this allows Ferrothorn not only Ground-type coverage, but also speed control for its allies, usually catching the opposing side by surprise since most Ferrothorn don’t typically carry this move.


Common Items

Leftovers

The Leftovers is the item most commonly seen on Ferrothorn, mainly to stack its residual recovery to 3/16 instead of 2/16 (1/8) from Leech Seed alone, providing a more defensive win condition that is easier for the player to utilize. Because Ferrothorn can’t be stopped by many opposing Pokémon in the format, the Leftovers works excellently with Ferrothorn.

Pinch Berry
 /  /  / 
With the excellent defensive typing of Ferrothorn, it is naturally difficult to take down, and with the pinch berry, it can heal 50% of its HP back when it hits very low HP with the cost of residual recovery. Paired with a move like Leech Seed, Ferrothorn makes a formidable wall for its allies.

Choice Band

The Choice Band is there to boost Ferrothorn’s lackluster base attack of 94 into something of terrifying power, especially with its STAB coverage moves being two of the strongest in the format, being Power Whip and Gyro Ball. This item allows Ferrothorn a unique set of offensive coverage while still being able to provide excellent defensive synergy for its allies, thanks to its Grass and Steel-typings.


Role in the Metagame

Image result for ferrothorn gif

Ferrothorn provides many teams a role that almost no other Pokémon in the format can provide: countering the other Pokémon its teammates struggle against. Usually, Ferrothorn can hard counter those opposing Pokémon because of its Grass and Steel typings, along with its abysmal speed. A combination of Grass and Steel as its typings provide excellent defensive coverage; however, Ferrothorn has a major weakness in Fire, and it’s four times weak to that type, so you’d have to play very cautiously whenever Ferrothorn is brought against a Fire-type. Ferrothorn’s most notable quality is its extremely favorable matchup against rain teams, as it is a strong archetype that is usually not very easy to check, and Ferrothorn usually makes the matchup almost something not to worry about so much. All in all, Ferrothorn is a Pokémon not too commonly seen; yet, it is also a Pokémon not many people prepare for when teambuilding. With its ability, Iron Barbs, Ferrothorn is even more of a pain to deal with for physical attackers since they receive damage equivalent to 1/8 of their HP after making contact.


Sample Movesets

Standard

Ferrothorn
Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Brave
EVs: H252 A252 D4
Stats: 181-160-151-XX-137-22
Held Item: Leftovers
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– Leech Seed
– Protect

This is your everyday Ferrothorn set, with maximum investment in HP and Attack, since Ferrothorn has excellent defensive typing, along with its natural bulk. The whole idea of a set like this is to deal as much damage as much as possible while being able to do what Ferrothorn does best: put opposing Pokémon in awkward positions and stall with Leech Seed.

 /  /  / 
Note: A pinch berry is just viable as the Leftovers, and to optimize the spread for those berries, Ferrothorn should have 244 EVs in HP, instead of 252 because that will make Ferrothorn’s HP stat divisible by 4, which accounts for a possible Guardian of Alola from most notably, Tapu Koko. The leftover 8 EVs can then be moved over to Special Defense.
 According to 2017 World Champion Ryota Otsubo (@barudoru)’s most recent team report, he gave his Ferrothorn a Wiki Berry in case of an opposing Scizor of an adamant nature. 

A Bulkier Version

Ferrothorn
Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Relaxed
EVs: H252 B108 D148
Stats: 181-114-181-XX-155-22
Held Item: Leftovers
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– Leech Seed
– Protect

B: A Low Kick from a jolly Mega Kangaskhan will 2HKO Ferrothorn only 1/256 times after Leftovers and Leech Seed recovery
D: Survives a Flamethrower from a timid Mega Salamence, as well as an Aura Sphere from a timid Mega Lucario

We’re back to the typical moveset like the first set, but this time, we’re going to change things up with more bulk. This particular spread is pulled from an old report Alberto Lara (@Alberto310) wrote back in 2015, featuring his run for Two-Time Regional Champion, as well as Top 32 at US Nationals, and I highly recommend reading this report because it has very insightful information on the game, and his thought process is just amazing to read about. For the current format, I made a very minor modification in moving 8 EVs from Defense to Special Defense, which I could afford to do since Mega Kangaskhan has been nerfed since the release of Sun and Moon.

Originally, he used the standard Smogon spread of 2015, which had the same nature with 92 EVs in Defense and 164 EVs in Special Defense for SoCal Regionals. Lara stated that he only used that spread because he couldn’t find any other bulky spread, and it survives a High Jump Kick from a jolly Mega Lopunny, as well as a Choice Band boosted Superpower from Scizor. Later on, from Seattle Regionals and on, he decided to lower the Special Defense investment to just enough where Ferrothorn would survive an Aura Sphere from a Mega Lucario, which ended up being 140 EVs in Special Defense, then moving the rest of the EVs into Defense to increase Ferrothorn’s chances of taking two Low Kicks from a jolly Mega Kangaskhan after Leftovers and Leech Seed recovery.

Now that Mega Kangaskhan has been nerfed, Ferrothorn is guaranteed to take two Low Kicks from a jolly Mega Kangaskhan after Leftovers and Leech Seed recovery; however, there was a missing piece of the puzzle: a special attacking Mega Salamence could KO that spread 1/16 times. After calculations, it turned out that Ferrothorn would survive the Flamethrower with 148 EVs in Special Defense, so I had to do some gruesome math involving the damage rolls from those jolly Mega Kangaskhan. After reducing the EV investment from 116 to 108, those Kangaskhan can 2HKO this spread only 1/256 times, which is certainly a lot lower than 1/16, making this a worthwhile trade. All in all, this is a great spread to utilize if you’re looking to keep Ferrothorn on the field as long as possible, but if you’re looking for damage, then the standard spread might be a better choice for you since the difference in damage output is very noticeable.

Choice Band
 
Ferrothorn
Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Brave
EVs: H252 A252 D4
Stats: 181-160-151-XX-137-22
Held Item: Choice Band
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– ???
– ???

Other options:

  • Bulldoze
  • Knock Off
  • Iron Head
  • Bullet Seed

The most terrifying item Ferrothorn can hold, the Choice Band, allowing it to deal ridiculous amounts of damage, with the cost of being locked into one move. Power Whip and Gyro Ball are Ferrothorn’s staple moves, and with the Choice Band, it’s a no-brainier that these moves are to be included in the set. As for the other two moves, they mostly depend on the team’s needs. Bulldoze provides Ground-type coverage and speed control, while Knock Off provides Dark-type coverage and the ability to deprive an opposing Pokémon of its item. Iron Head is a more accurate Steel-type coverage move that gives you a win condition in the 30% flinch rate under Trick Room. Bullet Seed is a more accurate Grass-type coverage move that can hit multiple times, though it does not hit five times 100% of the time. This move actually deals roughly the same amount of damage as Seed Bomb with three hits, making this move the better choice over Seed Bomb.

Life Orb
 
Ferrothorn
Ability: Iron Barbs
Nature: Brave
EVs: H236 A252 D20
Stats: 179-160-151-XX-139-22
Held Item: Life Orb
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– Knock Off / Bulldoze
– Protect

H: HP stat is 10n-1, which is optimized for the Life Orb recoil
A: Check out this Pastebin full of the offensive damage calculations from Power Whip and Gyro Ball!

What if you want Ferrothorn to deal a lot more damage without having to worry about being locked into one move, as well as having the luxury to protect itself? Life Orb may just be the item of choice. With only the drawback of residual recoil damage, Ferrothorn can function with this item fairly well, and a little fun fact I can share is back in 2016, Jamie Boyt (@JamieBoytVGC) piloted this particular kind of set all the way to Top 8 at the UK National Championships! While the damage calculations may not be relevant as of now, they still make this set a terror to face when you watch his team report. Between Knock Off and Bulldoze, they don’t deal as much damage as Power Whip or Gyro Ball, but the Life Orb boost still helps those two moves significantly, while being able to utilize their supportive options.


Sample Partners

Rain
 /  +  /  / 
Because Ferrothorn’s biggest weakness is Fire, rain is an excellent archetype strictly due to the fact it halves the power of Fire-type moves. In return, since rain is a fast and offensive archetype, Ferrothorn can provide these Pokémon an answer to Trick Room with its abysmal speed, and since it can counter a handful of the entire meta, rain makes this Pokémon a nightmare to deal with.

Landorus-Therian
Therian Forme
Because Landorus-T has Intimidate, it can reduce the damage output from opposing Fighting-type Pokémon like Hitmontop and Scrafty, or even opposing Pokémon with a Fighting-type move like an opposing Landorus-T and Tyranitar. In addition, Landorus resists Fighting thanks to its Flying-typing. Furthermore, Landorus is also a Ground-type, which means it can cover against Fire-types with either an Earthquake or a Rock Slide. In return, Ferrothorn can cover against the Water-types and the Ice-types that can beat Landorus.

Cresselia or Gothitelle

Cresselia and Gothitelle make excellent partners for Ferrothorn because of their capability of setting up Trick Room, which greatly benefits Ferrothorn’s abysmal speed. Cresselia and Gothitelle are Psychic-types, which means they can deal super effective damage against Fighting-types. Both also have access to Ally Switch, which allows them to take a Fighting-type move for Ferrothorn, dealing negligible damage to the two. Helping Hand is another great move these two have access to, which can provide Ferrothorn a boost in damage output from its attacks. Cresselia has Levitate as its ability, which allows it to switch into a possible Tectonic Rage that may target Ferrothorn, and with such immense bulk, both Cresselia and Ferrothorn provide excellent defensive synergy. Gothitelle, on the other hand, can trap opposing Pokémon with its Shadow Tag, and since Ferrothorn counters a handful of Pokémon in the format, Gothitelle makes a great asset for this Pokémon, as exemplified by Aaron Zheng (@CybertronVGC) in his Worlds 2015 team, which was piloted all the way to Top 32.


Threats

Fire-types
Alola Form  
Ferrothorn does not like facing any Fire-type Pokémon at all, even in rain since the special Fire-type attacks typically are still a 2HKO on Ferrothorn. Careful play is required when you choose to bring Ferrothorn in a matchup containing a Fire-type Pokémon. Mega Camerupt and Torkoal are especially problematic because not only they speed tie with Ferrothorn, but they also deal a lot of damage to the rest of the team with their abilities, Sheer Force and Drought, respectively. Should Ferrothorn decide to switch out or protect, Mega Charizard X, Blaziken, and Volcarona can gain a free set up with Dragon Dance, Speed Boost, or Quiver Dance, respectively. Heatran walls Ferrothorn’s STAB attacks completely with its Fire and Steel-typings, making it four times resistant to Power Whip and Gyro Ball. Incineroar recently just gained access to Intimidate as its Hidden Ability, which not only threatens Ferrothorn with a Flare Blitz, but also hampers its damage output significantly due to its lackluster base Attack stat of 94. Mega Charizard Y deals a lot of damage with its terrifying base Special Attack stat of 159, along with a boost from the sunlight, thanks to its ability Drought. Alolan Marowak makes a terrifying TR attacker against Ferrothorn, despite the higher base speed stat, and Entei not only deals terrible damage with a Sacred Fire, they normally carry a Firium Z, and it also has a 50% chance to burn a physical attacker that switches in for Ferrothorn, making board positioning awkward.

Fire-type Moves
 
These are Pokémon that can normally carry Flamethrower (or Overheat for Manectric) as a Fire-type coverage move. Salamence normally only has this move when it’s on a sand team as a special attacker. Kommo-o has its new signature Z-Move, Clangorous Soulblaze, which gives it absurd power if not played correctly against it. Celesteela sometimes carry Wide Guard or Substitute instead of Flamethrower, but expect it to have Flamethrower since the typical Leftovers + Leech Seed set can’t touch Ferrothorn without this move.

Fighting-types
 
Blaziken and Kommo-o have been mentioned earlier, but they are also Fighting-types, which gives them another option to damage Ferrothorn heavily. Mega Lopunny has a high base attack of 136, it comes down to whether the opposing Lopunny has Drain Punch or High Jump Kick. If the Lopunny has High Jump Kick, Ferrothorn’s saving grace is it either misses or hits a protect, giving it a huge backlash of recoil damage for the move’s 90% accuracy. Hitmontop and Scrafty have access to both Intimidate and Fake Out, and although they are built more defensively and don’t deal as much damage as the others, they are bulky enough to shuffle intimidates, already making them painful to deal with. Furthermore, Scrafty has access to Knock Off, which it can deny Ferrothorn’s residual recovery from the Leftovers or pinch berry, or even the damage boost from the Choice Band or the Life Orb. Terrakion is normally paired with Whimsicott for Beat Up + Tailwind shenanigans, and at maximum boosts, Terrakion is bound to pick up an easy OHKO on Ferrothorn with just one Close Combat or Sacred Sword.

Virizion is not commonly seen, but it recently made Top Cut at Costa Mesa Regionals by Joseph Selmer (@ModernGamer_MG). Now, I don’t know what his set is like, but Virizion has potential in the format because of its typing of Grass and Fighting. Back in 2015, they would normally carry the Life Orb or the Expert Belt to give it a damage boost for its lackluster base attack of 90 paired with a jolly nature. However, it also has access to two moves with a high critical hit ratio: Leaf Blade and Stone Edge. Virizion, along with Cobalion and Terrakion also has access to Close Combat as its STAB Fighting-type move. To help its lackluster attack stat, it can hold the Scope Lens to boost the critical hit ratios of the Leaf Blade and Stone Edge even further, and also give a little boost for Close Combat, making it have a much easier time picking up a OHKO on Ferrothorn, even if it’s been intimidated.

Fighting-type Moves
Alola FormTherian Forme
These are Pokémon that have access to a Fighting-type move, which are typically Low Kick or Superpower for the majority of them, and Sacred Sword for Aegislash and Kartana. Staraptor is especially threatening for Ferrothorn because of not only its ability Intimidate, as well as its access to Close Combat, but it normally carries a Choice Scarf with Final Gambit, being able to OHKO it with ease. Politoed is a special case since it’s a special attacker with access to Focus Blast, typically carrying the Fightinium Z when placed on a hard rain team, so be careful of that!

Opposing Ferrothorn

In a 1v1 scenario, Ferrothorn mirrors take absurdly long because of the fact they can’t do much to each other (assuming both are the standard Leech Seed + Leftovers sets). With this scenario, the game pretty much comes down to timer, so plan accordingly to prevent this.


Closing Thoughts

For a very good reason, Ferrothorn has been one of the best anti-meta Pokémon in VGC history, and for a good reason, being its natural bulk combined with its great defensive typing of Grass and Steel. On top of that, it provides excellent defensive synergy for many teams it’s placed on, and provides the player with a win condition in stalling the opposing team with Leech Seed and Leftovers recovery, as well as a way to answer Trick Room. If your team struggles against a handful of the Pokémon commonly seen in the format, Ferrothorn should be put into high consideration.

[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #6: Suicune

suicune___hydro_pump_by_ishmam-d8agdwu

Artwork by ishmam.

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with my sixth segment of my PokéAnalysis series for the VGC 2018 format! Today, I’ll be featuring one of the Legendary Beasts of Johto, the embodiment of the north winds, Suicune!

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“Suicune, the Aurora Pokémon. Suicune embodies the compassion of a pure spring of water. Said to be the embodiment of north winds, it can instantly purify filthy, murky water.”


Pokémon Details

245Suicune_Dream

Ability:

  • Pressure: When this Pokémon is hit by a move, the opponent’s PP lowers by 2 rather than 1.

Base Stats:

Stat

Base Value Real Values
HP 100

160-207

Attack 75

72-139

Defense

115

108-183

Special Attack

90

85-142

Special Defense

115

108-183

Speed 85

81-150


Viable Movepool

  • Scald – The user shoots boiling hot water at its target. This may also leave the target with a burn.
    • 30% chance to burn
  • Hydro Pump – The target is blasted by a huge volume of water launched under great pressure.
  • Ice Beam – The target is struck with an icy-cold beam of energy. This may also leave the target frozen.
    • 10% chance to freeze
  • Icy Wind – The user attacks with a gust of chilled air. This also lowers the opposing Pokémon’s Speed stats.
    • Lowers the opposing Pokémon’s Speed by one stage
  • Snarl – The user yells as if it’s ranting about something, which lowers the Sp. Atk stat of opposing Pokémon.
    • Lowers the opposing Pokémon’s Sp. Atk by one stage
  • Mirror Coat – A retaliation move that counters any special attack, inflicting double the damage taken.
  • Tailwind – The user whips up a turbulent whirlwind that ups the Speed stat of the user and its allies for four turns.
    • Doubles the Speed stat of your side of the field
  • Roar – The target is scared off, and a different Pokémon is dragged out.
  • Reflect A wondrous wall of light is put up to reduce damage from physical attacks for five turns.
  • Protect – Enables the user to evade all attacks. Its chance of failing rises if it is used in succession.
    • Chances of failing multiplies by 1/3 after each successful protect

Viable Items


Assault Vest – When held by a Pokémon, it increases the special defense stat by 50%, but requires the Pokémon to only use damaging attacks.


Pinch Berries – If held by a Pokémon, it restores the user’s HP by 50% in a pinch, but it will cause confusion if the user hates the taste.

  • In this case, Suicune will get confused when it consumes a Figy Berry.


Wacan Berry If held by a Pokémon, this Berry will lessen the damage taken from one supereffective Electric-type attack.


Role in the Metagame

Image result for suicune gif

Suicune is notably known as a bulky Water-type in the format, with a relatively high base HP of 90 alongside its high base defenses of 115. Because of its immense bulk, it has the ability to set up a Tailwind for speed control almost easily, as not many Pokémon in the format can easily knock it out in one hit. Suicune can also be obnoxious to face due to its ability to repeatedly lower the opposing side’s Special Attack or Speed stats with either Snarl or Icy Wind, respectively. However, with a lackluster base Special Attack of 90, as well as a limited offensive movepool, Suicune cannot pick up many easy knock outs in return. In addition, Suicune’s staple attack is Scald, which has a 30% chance to burn the target, which can make it even harder to take down. For the most part, Suicune can be a great asset for a handful of teams because of its supportive abilities, making it an underrated Pokémon in the format.


Sample Sets

Standard Support
  /  /  / 
Suicune
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Calm
EVs: H228 B36 C20 D196 S28
Stats: 204-X-140-113-176-109
Held Item: Any Pinch Berry (except Figy)
Moves: Scald / (Ice Beam / Icy Wind) / Tailwind / (See Below)

Other Moves:

  • Snarl
  • Roar
  • Reflect
  • Protect

H:

  • HP stat is 4n, which is optimized for the berry

B:

  • Guaranteed to withstand a Leaf Blade from a Kartana
  • Survives a Dragon Dance boosted Double-Edge from a jolly Mega Salamence

D:

  • Survives a Life Orb and Electric Terrain boosted Thunderbolt from a timid Tapu Koko
  • Survives a Psychic Terrain boosted Shattered Psyche from a modest Tapu Lele
  • Highest EV bump

S:

  • Under Tailwind, Suicune outspeeds a Mega Sceptile

This is an example of an EV spread that would be utilized for a standard bulky support set. Whenever I build EV spread that involves a pinch berry, I always make sure the HP stat is divisible by four to account for an incoming Guardian of Alola, which the berry will proc immediately afterward. 28 EVs in Speed allows Suicune to outspeed Mega Sceptile after it sets up a tailwind. My two defensive main benchmarks started with a Leaf Blade from a Kartana, as well as a Life Orb boosted Thunderbolt from a Tapu Koko. I then proceeded to benchmark for a Shattered Psyche from a Tapu Lele. 188 EVs are actually enough for Suicune to withstand this Z-Move, but I thought 196 EVs would be a worthwhile investment to reach the highest EV bump for this stat. I then dumped the rest of the EVs into Special Attack, as Suicune would need to deal as much damage as it can, especially having so much bulk to stick around on the field.

Suicune also has many great options for its last move. Snarl is a way to cripple the opposing Pokémon by lowering their Special Attack stats, and because Suicune is already naturally bulky, this move makes Suicune so obnoxious to face. Roar is a way to stop any potential set ups on the opposing side of the field, whether they would be a stat boosting move, or even a Trick Room. Reflect allows Suicune to decrease damage from incoming physical attacks for a few turns, which can provide useful for allies with a lackluster Defense stat. Lastly, Protect is a safe option for Suicune to stick around on the field for at least a few more turns, as well as scouting for the moves of the opposing Pokémon.

Offensive Tailwind
  /  /  / 
Suicune
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Modest
EVs: H196 B4 C252 D12 S44
Stats: 200-X-136-156-137-111
Held Item: Any Pinch Berry (except Figy)
Moves: Scald / Ice Beam / Tailwind / Protect

H:

  • HP stat is 4n, which is optimized for the berry

D:

  • One point higher than Defense

S:

  • Under Tailwind, Suicune outspeeds a modest Tapu Lele carrying a Choice Scarf

The concept behind this set is for Suicune to support its teammates with a Tailwind while being able to dish out as much damage as possible. The inspiration behind this is actually the standard offensive Cresselia set, which is basically max HP and max Special Attack. Because Suicune’s base Defense and Special Defense stats are identical, I had to make a slightly awkward defensive investment to make its Special Defense higher in case there’s a Porygon2 on the opposing side, as they sometimes carry Thunderbolt. 44 EVs in speed allows Suicune to outspeed a modest Tapu Lele carrying a Choice Scarf after it sets up a Tailwind. Suicune is already naturally bulky, and because this particular set is offensive, it can afford to have a lower investment in HP. Suicune can still take a lot of hits relatively well, but Suicune would need more support if it wants to stick around longer.

Wacan Berry
 
Suicune
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Bold
EVs: H252 B196 C12 D20 S28
Stats: 207-X-176-12-138-109
Held Item: Wacan Berry
Moves: Scald / (Ice Beam / Icy Wind) / Tailwind / Protect

B:

  • Survives a Bloom Doom from an intimidated Kartana

D:

  • Guaranteed to withstand an Electric Terrain boosted Gigavolt Havoc from a modest Tapu Koko

S:

  • Under Tailwind, Suicune outspeeds a Mega Sceptile

The idea behind this set is for Suicune to guarantee speed control when it faces a Tapu Koko by surviving an incoming Gigavolt Havoc. This particular set is team specific, and I would only recommend this set if the team struggles against Tapu Koko. Because Suicune cannot heal itself with a pinch berry, Protect makes the most sense when it comes to preserving it as long as possible.

Assault Vest
 
Suicune
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Modest
EVs: H236 B4 C76 D12 S180
Stats: 205-X-136-132-137-128
Held Item: Assault Vest
Moves: Scald / Icy Wind / Ice Beam / (Snarl / Mirror Coat)

C:

  • Hits the lowest EV bump

D:

  • One point higher than Defense
  • Mega Salamence’s Hyper Voice is a possible 5HKO
  • A Psychic Terrain boosted Psychic from a modest Tapu Lele is a 3HKO
  • A Hurricane from a modest Pelipper is practically a 4HKO
  • A Choice Specs boosted Moonblast from a modest Tapu Fini has a 10/16 chance to 3HKO, leaving the remaining 6/16 rolls for a 4HKO

S:

  • Outspeeds a Naganadel after it gets hit with an Icy Wind

With the Assault Vest, Suicune takes as many special hits as it can while sitting on the field. Because this set is relatively fast, Icy Wind is crucial in order for Suicune to outspeed Pokémon like Naganadel, and most notably Mega Salamence. Ice Beam is another Ice-type coverage move Suicune can have in case using Icy Wind is not feasible in a certain scenario. As for the last move, there are two options being Snarl or Mirror Coat. Snarl lowers the opposing Pokémon’s Special Attack stats to stack with Suicune’s boosted Special Defense, allowing it to stick around on the field longer, whereas Mirror Coat retaliates with two times the amount of damage Suicune has taken from a special attack, picking up revenge knock outs on Pokémon like Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele.


Sample Partners

Landorus-Therian
Therian Forme
It’s no surprise that the best Pokémon in the format makes a great partner for Suicune. This is because Landorus’s Intimidate complements Suicune’s natural bulk so well, making Suicune even more of a pain to take down. Furthermore, Suicune also threatens an opposing Landorus-T with any attack it will throw out, being a Scald, an Ice Beam, or even an Icy Wind, should the opposing Landorus attack Suicune. Landorus also threatens Tapu Koko in return, which is considerably the biggest threat to Suicune. However, this pair typically struggles against Tapu Bulu, so it’s to your best interest to plan accordingly.

Tapu Koko

Tapu Koko makes a great partner for Suicune because it can deal a lot of damage with a potential Gigavolt Havoc, namely to a Zapdos attempting to set up its own Tailwind. It can also use Taunt to shut down any potential set ups of stat boosts or even a Trick Room, thanks to its lightning fast base speed of 130. Suicune, in return, can easily cover against the likes of Landorus to protect Tapu Koko from an Earthquake.

Tapu Lele

Tapu Lele makes a great partner for Suicune because of its Psychic Terrain, which blocks priority moves against Suicune, which would mainly be a Fake Out or even a Prankster boosted Taunt. In addition to the terrain support, Tapu Lele has a high base special attack of 130, making a Psychic boosted from the terrain a terrifying attack to dish out. Furthermore, a Psychic Terrain booster Shattered Psyche from Tapu Lele is one of the strongest Z-Moves in the format. Tailwind support can be crucial for Tapu Lele’s base speed of 95, allowing it to outspeed even some opposing Pokémon potentially carrying a Choice Scarf .

Tapu Bulu

An interesting partner for Suicune because it can threaten Tapu Koko and provide recovery for Suicune, while Suicune can cover against Fire-types and Mega Salamence, as well as provide speed control with a Tailwind. Tapu Bulu is an offensive powerhouse with its base attack of 130, its ability to learn Wood Hammer, both complemented by a boost from the Grassy Terrain. In addition to Tapu Bulu’s raw power, it provides an eccentric defensive synergy for its partners with the Grassy Terrain, which bolsters Suicune’s natural bulk even further.

Heatran

Heatran provides excellent defensive synergy for Suicune because it’s four times resistant to Grass-type attacks, and Suicune can cover against Landorus-T and Tyranitar. Furthermore, Heatran provides a favorable matchup against Mega Charizard Y because of the boost from the sunlight, as well as its resistance to Solar Beam, along with its immunity to opposing Fire-type moves, thanks to its ability Flash Fire. Furthermore, Heatran’s Steel-typing can block an incoming Toxic.

Fake Out
Regular FormAlola Form
These are the most common Pokémon in the format with access to the move Fake Out. With Fake Out, Suicune can safely set up a Tailwind when the Psychic Terrain is not activated; however, all of these Pokémon do different things. Alolan Persian is a disruptor with access to moves such as Taunt, Snarl, and most notably, Parting Shot. Its main means of dealing damage is with Foul Play, which can heavily threaten opposing physical attackers such as Mega Metagross and Landorus-T. Raichu and Togedemaru are also disruptors with access to Encore, as well as Lightningroad as their abilities, which redirects Electric-type attacks away from Suicune. Mega Kangaskhan is the one Mega Pokémon that was infamously known for hitting so hard with its base 125 attack combined with its ability Parental Bond. Even though Kangaskhan got nerfed pretty significantly, it remains still remains no slouch in the format. Hitmontop has Intimidate as its ability, can block incoming Rock Slides to prevent flinches before setting up the Tailwind, and it can also deny a Protect/Detect with Feint. Mega Lopunny, on the other hand, has a very fast base speed of 135, even outspeeding Tapu Koko and Mega Gengar, and also has Scrapy as its ability, allowing Lopunny to hit a Ghost-type Pokémon with both of its STAB types, Normal and Fighting.


Threats

Electric-types
Regular FormWash Rotom
Electric is one of Suicune’s weaknesses, and these Pokémon can threaten a lot of damage on Suicune from a single Thunderbolt, or even a one hit knockout with a Gigavolt Havoc. Raichu and Togedemaru have access to Fake Out and Encore, two moves Suicune do not like facing either, and the fact they’re both Electric-types only makes things worse for Suicune. Zapdos is bulky, and sometimes, they would carry a Misty or Psychic Seed to boost its Special Defense stats, which allows Zapdos to easily match Suicune’s Tailwind no problem. Furthermore, Electrium Z is a common item on Zapdos as well, which poses as a huge threat for Suicune. Mega Manectric normally carry Volt Switch as its main attacking move, but it can cripple Suicune’s physical attacking partners with Intimidate, as well as repeatedly use Snarl to cripple Suicune and its special attacking partners. Rotom-Wash is especially problematic for Suicune because not only it can threaten huge damage with an Electric-type move, but it also walls Suicune completely since Rotom is also a bulky Water-type. Thundurus-Therian and Tapu Koko are offensive attackers that can easily launch a fast Gigavolt Havoc to wipe Suicune off the field, or even a fast Taunt to deny the Tailwind set up. Xurkitree can set itself up with a Tail Glow, which drastically raises its Special Attack stat, and when it’s been preserved correctly, Xurkitree can easily pick off Suicune and possibly just steamroll the rest of your team if you’re not prepared for it.

Grass-types
Mow Rotom
Grass is Suicune’s other weakness, and these are the most common threats in the format, with the exception of Rotom-Mow. Ludicolo easily outspeeds many Pokémon in the format with Swift Swim, and can easily threaten Suicune with either a Giga Drain or an Energy Ball, as well as a Fake Out to deny a Tailwind set up. Cradily has Storm Drain as its ability, which redirects Suicune’s Water-type attacks away and gets a Special Attack boost for its Grass-type moves, which is something Suicune does not want to see on the field. Amoonguss is especially irritating for Suicune, as it can redirect Suicune’s attacks away and take them fairly well with its bulk, and because it’s so slow, it can easily abuse Trick Room by repeatedly using Spore to slow the game down. Ferrothorn, Tapu Bulu, and Kartana are all physical attackers, and can easily threaten a clean knock out with their respective Grass-type moves: Power Whip, Wood Hammer, or Leaf Blade. Ferrothorn can also abuse Trick Room very easily, which makes it very problematic for Suicune to deal with. Against these three, Suicune’s only saving grace is to burn them with a Scald, which is a 30% chance to happen. Rotom-Mow, although not very common, is a huge threat to Suicune because its typing is both Grass and Electric, a combination of both of Suicune’s weaknesses. Because Leaf Storm has such a high base power, a Mow Rotom with an offensive build can easily pick up a knock out onto Suicune with a Bloom Doom or even a Gigavolt Havoc.

Opposing Bulky Water-types
West SeaEast SeaWash Rotom
Because Suicune’s coverage moves are typically only Water-type or Ice-type, it doesn’t provide much offensive presence to them. A Suicune mirror will make the game so slow to the point where it comes down to which one gets the burn off a Scald first. Milotic can heal itself with Recover, and will also benefit from an Icy Wind or a Snarl, thanks to its ability, Competitive. Azumarill and Tapu Fini are both Water and Fairy-type, which means Suicune absolutely cannot touch them with any of its attacks. Furthermore, both of them can set up with a Belly Drum or a Calm Mind, respectively, which they can threaten a lot of damage onto Suicune, denying future set ups for speed control. Tapu Fini also tend to carry a Choice Specs, which not only deals a huge dent onto Suicune with a Moonblast, but also has a slight chance to hamper Suicune’s Special Attack stat. Gastrodon has the ability, Storm Drain, which not only redirects Water-type attacks away, but also gets a Special Attack boost. In addition, some Gastrodon tend to carry Toxic, whittling down Suicune at a much quicker rate while healing itself with Recover as turns pass. As I mentioned earlier, Rotom-W is the biggest offensive threat to Suicune with its Electric-typing paired with its good special bulk, threatening super effective damage with an Electric-type attack.


Closing Thoughts

Suicune is among some of the bulkiest Pokémon in the format, and can prove itself to be a great asset for a handful of teams with its supportive capabilities. With the ability to cripple opposing Pokémon with its attacking moves, Suicune is worth considering if you’re looking for something that can take hits well and provide speed control. Though Suicune has not been at the top of the metagame for long, it has proven itself to be an underrated Pokémon almost every year in VGC history.

[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #5: Tapu Koko

Tapu Koko | Electric Terrain by ishmam

Artwork by ishmam.

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with my fifth segment of my PokéAnalysis series for the VGC 2018 format! Today, I’ll be featuring the electrifying Guardian Deity of the Alola Region, Tapu Koko!

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“Tapu Koko, the Land Spirit Pokémon. The lightning-wielding guardian deity of Melemele, Tapu Koko is brimming with curiosity and appears before people from time to time. It confuses its enemies by flying too quickly for the eye to follow. It has a hair-trigger temper but forgets what made it angry an instant later.”


Pokémon Details

785_Tapu_Koko

Ability:

  • Electric Surge – Activates Electric Terrain when it enters battle. This lasts for five turns.

Base Stats:

KokoStats

Viable Movepool:

  • Thunderbolt – A strong electric blast crashes down on the target. This may also leave the target with paralysis.
    • 10% chance to paralyze the target
  • Thunder – A wicked thunderbolt is dropped on the target to inflict damage. This may also leave the target with paralysis.
    • Does not miss in rain, 10% chance to paralyze the target
  • Discharge – The user strikes everything around it by letting loose a flare of electricity. This may also cause paralysis.
    • 30% chance to paralyze each target
  • Volt SwitchAfter making its attack, the user rushes back to switch places with a party Pokémon in waiting.
  • Electro Ball – The user hurls an electric orb at the target. The faster the user is than the target, the greater the move’s power.
  • Wild Charge – The user shrouds itself in electricity and smashes into its target. This also damages the user a little.
    • Recoil is 1/4 of the damage dealt
  • Dazzling Gleam – The user damages opposing Pokémon by emitting a powerful flash.
  • Nature’s Madness – The user hits the target with the force of nature. It halves the target’s HP.
  • Hidden Power [Ice] – A unique attack that varies in type depending on the Pokémon using it.
    • IVs determine Hidden Power type. The most common type for Tapu Koko is Ice.
  • Brave Bird – The user tucks in its wings and charges from a low altitude. This also damages the user quite a lot.
    • Recoil is 1/3 of the damage dealt
  • Sky Drop – The user takes the target into the sky, then drops it during the next turn. The target cannot attack while in the sky.
    • Cannot pick up Pokémon 200 kg or above (mainly Snorlax), Flying-types don’t take damage from this move
  • U-TurnAfter making its attack, the user rushes back to switch places with a party Pokémon in waiting.
  • Iron Head – The user slams the target with its steel-hard head. This may also make the target flinch.
    • 30% chance to flinch the target
  • Nature Power – This attack makes use of nature’s power. Its effects vary depending on the user’s environment.
  • Taunt – The target is taunted into a rage that allows it to use only attack moves for three turns.
  • Substitute – The user makes a copy of itself using some of its HP. The copy serves as the user’s decoy.
  • Light Screen – A wondrous wall of light is put up to reduce damage from special attacks for five turns.
  • Reflect – A wondrous wall of light is put up to reduce damage from physical attacks for five turns.
  • Mirror Move – The user counters the target by mimicking the target’s last move.

Role in the Metagame

Image result for tapu koko gif

Despite a lackluster base special attack of 95, Tapu Koko has been a monster in this format with a damage boost from the Electric Terrain, thanks to its ability, Electric Surge, along with its lightning fast base speed of 130. Because Tapu Koko is so fast, it is able to apply a lot of offensive pressure right off the bat, especially since most carry the Electrium Z. As a fast offensive attacker, Tapu Koko can fit on a lot of teams to cover against the likes of Tapu Fini, Zapdos, Milotic, and much more. Tapu Koko can also carry disruptive support moves such as Sky Drop and Nature’s Madness, which can sometimes mess with your game plans due to its fast speed. Ever since its debut last year, Tapu Koko has consistently stayed at the top as one of the best Pokémon in VGC.


Viable Items


Choice Specs – When this item is being held, the user’s Special Attack is increased by 50%, but the Pokémon is limited to using the first attack it uses until it is withdrawn from battle.


Life Orb – When this item is held by a Pokémon, the damage from the moves used by the holder is increased by 30%. The holder loses 10% of their maximum HP each turn.


Electrium Z – When held by a Pokémon, it allows them to either use the move Gigavolt Havoc when they have a Physical/Special Electric-type move, or it boosts their Electric-type Status Move.


Fairium Z – When held by a Pokémon, it allows them to either use the move Twinkle Tackle when they have a Physical/Special Fairy-type move, or it boosts their Fairy-type Status Move.


Flyinium Z – When held by a Pokémon, it allows them to either use the move Twinkle Tackle when they have a Physical/Special Flying-type move, or it boosts their Flying-type Status Move.


Normalium Z – When held by a Pokémon, it allows them to either use the move Breakneck Blitz when they have a Physical/Special Normal-type move, or it boosts their Normal-type Status Move.


Sample Sets

Special Attacker
 /  / 
Tapu Koko
Ability: Electric Surge
Nature: Timid
EVs: H4 C252 S252
Stats: 146-X-105-147-95-200
Held Item: Electrium Z / Life Orb / Fairium Z
Moves: (Thunderbolt / Thunder) / Dazzling Gleam / (See Below) / Protect

C:

  • Gigavolt Havoc: Over 50% chance to OHKO most bulky offensive Zapdos in Electric Terrain
  • Twinkle Tackle: Twinkle Tackle can’t OHKO most opposing Pokémon in the format, but it still can leave a huge dent on opposing Pokémon.
  • Hidden Power [Ice]: Has a good chance to 2HKO Landorus-T that carry an Assault Vest; this move boosted by Life Orb is guaranteed to 2HKO those variants, as well as being able to OHKO those that are max speed.

Other Moves:

  • Volt Switch
  • Discharge
  • Hidden Power [Ice]
  • Taunt
  • Substitute

This is your everyday standard, the special attacking set. Electrium Z is the most common item held by Tapu Koko because of the Electric Terrain boost, which means this Z-Move hits hard, especially based off of Thunder if you decide to run a rain team. Life Orb helps Tapu Koko deal a little more damage from its moves of different types, namely Dazzling Gleam and Hidden Power [Ice] since its base special attack is a bit lackluster. Fairium Z is the least common of the three. Although this Z-Move won’t OHKO many opposing Pokémon in the format, it still provides good coverage, and it definitely helps you at least deal a lot of damage to the intended target.

For this set, Tapu Koko has a wide variety of moves it can utilize. The most common set is typically, Thunderbolt, Dazzling Gleam, Volt Switch, and Protect. Thunderbolt is the standard Electric-type move Tapu Koko should carry, but if you decide to use it with a rain team, Thunder would be the better option since it doesn’t miss in rain, and it can hit very hard, especially with a Gigavolt Havoc based off this move. Volt Switch helps you get your Pokémon in a board position since this move allows Tapu Koko to leave the field after dealing damage. Discharge allows Tapu Koko to freely use this move next to Ground-types or those with the abilities Volt Absorb or Lightningrod to deal spread damage, as well as bank on a 30% paralysis rate for each target. Hidden Power [Ice] is way for Tapu Koko to answer the likes of Landorus-T, as well as Mega Salamence. Taunt denies potential set-ups such as stat-boosting moves and speed control moves, which can force your opponent to switch out the taunted Pokémon during the following turn. Finally, we have Substitute as the last featured move. Although it seems obscure, you can predict defensive play from your opponent and easily capitalize off of this by setting up a substitute, which can allow Tapu Koko to stick around on the field a bit longer. From there, you can apply a lot of offensive pressure with essentially a free Gigavolt Havoc if your Z-Move is still intact.

Nature Power

Tapu Koko
Ability: Electric Surge
Nature: Timid
EVs: H4 C252 S252
Stats: 146-X-105-147-95-200
Held Item: Normalium Z
Moves: Nature Power / Dazzling Gleam / Volt Switch / Protect

This set focuses around a team with more than one guardian deity, which can allow Tapu Koko to have flexibility on which Z-Move to unleash. Typically, Tapu Koko would be paired with Tapu Fini to deal big damage with a Z-Move of both STAB types, but it would also possible to use this set with Tapu Lele or Tapu Bulu. Dazzling Gleam and Volt Switch are ways Tapu Koko can deal damage with both STAB types outside of any terrain, and Volt Switch also allows Tapu Koko to switch around to reset the terrain for it to use Thunderbolt when it enters back into the field. Another thing to note is in case Tapu Koko ever gets a stat lowered, namely special attack or speed, it can utilize Z-Protect to reset its stats in case you’re in a bad spot.

Choice Specs

Tapu Koko
Ability: Electric Surge
Nature: Timid
EVs: H4 C252 S252
Stats: 146-X-105-147-95-200
Held Item: Choice Specs
Moves: Thunderbolt / Dazzling Gleam / Hidden Power [Ice] / Volt Switch

This set allows Tapu Koko to hit its hardest with special attacks, along with the flexibility to utilize Dazzling Gleam, Hidden Power, and Volt Switch in the same set. With the Choice Specs, Tapu Koko can easily knock out many Landorus-T that do not carry an Assault Vest, and it can easily knock out any Tapu Fini in Electric Terrain as well. Dazzling Gleam gets a significant boost from the Choice Specs, and is able to dish out more damage for a spread move. Lastly, Volt Switch allows Tapu Koko to switch out of the field if it does not feel safe locking itself into one move just yet.

Physical Attacker

Tapu Koko
Ability: Electric Surge
Nature: Jolly
EVs: H4 A252 S252
Stats: 146-167-105-X-95-200
Held Item: Electrium Z
Moves: Wild Charge / Brave Bird / (See Below) / Protect

Other Moves:

  • U-Turn
  • Sky Drop
  • Taunt
  • Iron Head

This set is a physical attacking set. Due to the lack of Play Rough, it seems obscure, but this set allows us to take advantage of Tapu Koko’s higher physical attack stat of 115. With the Electrium Z, a Gigavolt Havoc is sure to hit hard without an intimidate, and in fact, harder than one based off Thunderbolt. Brave Bird is another strong coverage move Tapu Koko can learn, and this is a great move for this set because not many Pokémon in the format resist Flying-type moves. Tapu Koko generally has an unfavorable matchup against Tapu Bulu and Amoonguss, and Brave Bird is a way to answer them if Tapu Koko is on the field. The third move should be a supporting move such as U-Turn for board positioning, Sky Drop for disruption, or Taunt to deny a potential set-up, namely on Snorlax since it is too heavy to be lifted from a Sky Drop. Iron Head is another possibility for coverage against opposing Fairy-types and Rock-types, as well as fishing for the 30% chance to flinch the target. Generally, physical Tapu Koko is a way to work around Zapdos that carry a Misty Seed.

A:

  • Guaranteed to 2HKO H236 B116 Zapdos with an Electric Terrain boosted Wild Charge; guaranteed to OHKO H236 B116 Zapdos with an Electric Terrain Boosted Gigavolt Havoc.
  • Guaranteed to 2HKO H252 B4 Tapu Bulu with Brave Bird (roughly 65-75%)
  • Guaranteed to 2HKO H252 B252+ Amoonguss (50% at minimum!)

Supersonic Mirror Strike

Tapu Koko
Ability: Electric Surge
Nature: Jolly
EVs: H4 A252 S252
Stats: 146-167-105-X-95-200
Held Item: Flyinium Z
Moves: Wild Charge / Brave Bird / Mirror Move / Protect

If you thought a regular physical attacking set is strange, then think again. This is the most obscure set I will be featuring, which was created by none other than Jamie Boyt (@JamieBoytVGC) back in the 2017 format. What he had in mind was having a Z-Crystal for two purposes: a Flying-type attack that deals a lot of damage or a way to set up Tapu Koko. Supersonic Skystrike is a great way for Tapu Koko to answer Tapu Bulu and Amoonguss effectively by being able to OHKO them with super effective damage. On the other hand, we have Z-Mirror Move, which allows Tapu Koko to raise its attack by two stages before copying exactly what the opponent has used, including Z-Moves. Although not so relevant for this year’s format, if you want to know his inspiration behind this set, you can watch his set in action here.


Sample Partners

Landorus-T
Therian Forme
Landorus-T is a great partner for Tapu Koko because of its typing, as well as being able to lower the attack stats of opposing Pokémon with the Intimidate ability, especially against opposing Landorus-T. After an intimidate, Tapu Koko is able to survive an Earthquake from an opposing Landorus-T, which is helpful when facing those that carry a Choice Scarf. Tapu Koko would then be able to pick off the opposing Landorus-T’s partner, or even retaliate with a Hidden Power [Ice]. In return, Tapu Koko can cover against Water-types and Zapdos.

Mega Charizard Y

Mega Charizard Y pairs very well with Tapu Koko because of its offensive power, its Flying-typing, as well as its Fire-typing. It can safely switch into a potential Ground-type move, or even a Tectonic Rage, and it can easily answer Tapu Bulu and Amoonguss with its Fire-type moves. When paired with Tapu Koko, Charizard Y can apply immense offensive pressure because both Tapu Koko and Charizard Y are fast, and they can also deal spread damage. Furthermore, they can adequately cover each other’s weaknesses, making them a terrifying offensive duo.

Mega Salamence

Because of both Intimidate and its Flying-typing, Salamence is a great partner for Tapu Koko, especially as a lead because Salamence can ignore an incoming Ground-type move, and thanks to its Aerilate ability, Mega Salamence can repeatedly fire off a Hyper Voice for spread damage, and it’s usually a safe move because not many Pokémon in the format resist Flying-type moves. Furthermore, it can also deal so much physical damage with a Double-Edge. Salamence can also provide speed control with a Tailwind, in which Tapu Koko can use Volt Switch to get itself out of the field, while Salamence sets up a Tailwind. Salamence can easily threaten Amoonguss and Tapu Bulu, while Tapu Koko can deal with Tapu Fini in return.

Tapu Bulu

Because of the Grassy Terrain, Tapu Bulu can easily hamper the damage output of an Eatrhquake or Bulldoze that would threaten Tapu Koko. With a high physical attack stat, Tapu Bulu can then fire off a Wood Hammer or even a Bloom Doom for massive damage, especially with the Grassy Terrain boost. Tapu Bulu can easily cover Tapu Koko against Ground-types, while Tapu Koko can cover Tapu Bulu against Flying-types.

Tapu Fini

Tapu Fini makes a great partner for Tapu Koko because of its ability to deal super effective to Ground-types, as well as providing the Misty Terrain for Tapu Koko that carry a Normalium Z, allowing it to deal a STAB Z-Move in Twinkle Tackle. Tapu Koko can also cover Tapu Fini by dealing with Zapdos and Mega Charizard Y.

Aegislash

Aegislash is a very unique partner for Tapu Koko, thanks to its typing, along with its defensive support. With Wide Guard, Aegislash can easily stop incoming Earthquakes and Heat Waves that would threaten both of them, and Aegislash can also switch into Poison-type moves very safely due to its Steel-typing. Aegislash can easily threaten the combination of Tapu Lele and Metagross, as well as Cresselia with its Ghost and Steel-typings, and can easily pick up a knock out with a Never Ending Nightmare. Because of King’s Shield, Aegislash can pressure mind games onto your opponent.


Threats

Ground-types
   Therian Forme
Mega Swampert easily threatens Tapu Koko because of its ability, Swift Swim, which doubles its speed in rain. This allows Swampert to fire off a fast Earthquake or Stomping Tantrum to pick up an easy knock out on Tapu Koko. Mega Camerupt threatens Tapu Koko significantly because Tapu Koko is weak to Trick Room, and Camerupt can easily pick off Tapu Koko with either an Eruption or an Earth Power once the Trick Room is set up. Because Landorus-T can carry a Choice Scarf, Tapu Koko is immediately threatened by this Pokémon. Without an intimidate, the opposing Landorus-T can easily OHKO Tapu Koko with an Earthquake. Sometimes, there might be a special variant, which can also pick up an easy knock out with an Earth Power.

Ground-type Moves
  
These are common Pokémon that normally carry a Ground-type move. Snorlax is very bulky, set itself up with either a Curse or a Belly Drum, and can threaten an easy knock out with a High Horsepower or Stomping Tantrum. There are some Mega Salamence that carry Dragon Dance, which can indicate the possibility of an Earthquake. Heatran and Hydreigon are special attackers that normally carry Earth Power to cover against opposing Heatran and Electric-types.

Poison-types
Alola Form
Poison-types deal a lot of damage to Tapu Koko, thanks to its Fairy-typing, and three out of four of these example Pokémon can easily pick up a OHKO with a Sludge Bomb, while one of them is a physical attacker. Amoonguss can just redirect a Thunderbolt away with Rage Powder, as well as deal super effective damage with a Poison-type move.

Poison-type Moves
West SeaEast Sea Therian Forme  Therian Forme
These are Pokémon that can typically carry Sludge Bomb, Clear Smog, or Poison Jab to deal with Tapu Koko for super effective damage.

Bulky Grass-types
Mow Rotom
Because Grass-types resist Electric-type moves, Tapu Koko can’t do very much to them if it’s a special attacker. Rotom-Mow is especially problematic since it’s four times resistant to Electric-type moves. Both Tapu Bulu and Ferrothorn can deal a lot of physical damage to Tapu Koko, while Amoonguss can just redirect a Thunderbolt away with Rage Powder, as well as deal super effective damage with a Poison-type move. Hidden Power Ice can deal a decent amount of damage to these Pokémon, but the output is still nowhere near significant with Tapu Koko’s lackluster base 95 special attack.

Lightningrod & Volt Absorb
Regular FormAlola FormTherian Forme
These are irritating Pokémon for Tapu Koko to face because not only they are immune to Tapu Koko’s Electric-type attacks, they can also either redirect these attacks away from their partners, or even regain health after being hit by these attacks. These Pokémon can carry disruptive attacks such as Fake Out, Encore, Follow Me, Snarl, and even Perish Song, which makes the Tapu Koko player have to play very carefully around them.


Closing Thoughts

With its fast electrifying power, Tapu Koko remains a monster in VGC, and it is versatile enough to fit on a lot of teams in the VGC 2018 format. With the ability to OHKO a Zapdos and a Tapu Fini with a Gigavolt Havoc, you certainly can’t ever go wrong with using this deity. Don’t underestimate its base 95 special attack because this Pokémon can sure apply a lot of offensive pressure on the field if your board positioning isn’t ideal.

[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #4: Tyranitar

tyranitar___stone_edge_by_ishmam-d6c63b8

Artwork by ishmam.

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with the third installment of my PokéAnalysis series for the VGC 2018 format! For this segment, I will be featuring one of the first pseudo-legendary Pokémon in existence, as well as one of the best weather setters in competitive play, the Godzilla-like Tyranitar!

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“This Pokémon is a mobile disaster, leaving mountains crumbled and houses destroyed in its wake. It wanders through the mountains seeking opponents to fight. If it finds an opponent that’s not worthy, Tyranitar ignores it and wanders on.”


Pokémon Details

248_Tyranitar

Abillity:

  • Sand Stream – Sandstorm blows when the Pokémon enters battle. This lasts for five turns.
  • Unnerve (Hidden) – Prevents opposing Pokémon from consuming berries.

Role in the Metagame

Image result for tyranitar gif

Tyranitar is a very strong force in the metagame, mainly with the ability to set up a sandstorm once it enters the battlefield. Although Tyranitar has a slow base speed of 61, its other stats are balanced and well-rounded with high base stats, most notably a naturally high base attack of 134. On top of all that, Tyranitar also has the capability of Mega Evolution, which will boost its stats even further. Because all the base stats of its base form add up to 600, Tyranitar is considered a pseudo-legendary Pokémon.

With the sandstorm in place, not only Tyranitar would gain weather control for itself and its allies, it also gains a special defense boost with its Rock-typing, and considering the combination of its base 100 HP and base 100 special defense, Tyranitar is able to take special attacks relatively well. Tyranitar is also a Dark-type, which allows it to put immense pressure on the likes of Pokémon such as Cresselia, Gothitelle, and Aegislash. Between all the weather setters of the metagame, Tyranitar is in the middle ground between Mega Charizard Y and Politoed, being both bulky and powerful.


Viable Items


Choice Scarf – When this item is being held, the user’s speed is increased by 50%, but the Pokémon is limited to using the first attack it uses until it is withdrawn from battle.


Life Orb – When this item is held by a Pokémon, the damage from the moves used by the holder is increased by 30%. The holder loses 10% of their maximum HP each turn.


Weakness Policy – When held by a Pokémon, it raises the Pokémon’s Attack and Sp. Attack stats by two stages whenever it is hit by a move that is Super Effective.


Darkinium Z – This item can be used to create the special Dark Z-Crystal. When held by a Pokémon, it allows them to either use the move Blackhole Eclipse when they have a Physical/Special Dark-type move, or it boosts their Dark-type Status Move.


Tyranitarite – This item, when held, allows for the Pokémon to Mega Evolve in battle.


Sample Sets

Choice Scarf

Tyranitar
Ability: Sand Stream
Nature: Jolly
Held Item: Choice Scarf
EV: H4 A252 S252
Stats: 176-186-130-x-120-124
Moves: Rock Slide / (Crunch / Assurance) / (Low Kick / Superpower) / Ice Punch

S: Outspeeds Thundurus-Therian

This set is fairly standard for sand teams because of its ability to pick up fast Rock Slide flinches with its newfound speed. Crunch is usually the standard choice; however, Assurance is another option to pair with its sand-abusing partner to pick up a quick KO with the move’s raw power, as demonstrated by Aaron Zheng (@CybertronVGC) with his 2015 Nationals Team. Low Kick is the more consistent option for Fighting-type coverage, but because Tyranitar would be jolly as opposed to adamant, Superpower is a great alternative if you’re looking for better damage output. Ice Punch is there to cover against the likes of Landorus and Salamence. Just be mindful that this set doesn’t outspeed everything that doesn’t carry a Choice Scarf.

Rykku and Lectro’s Black Hole Eclipse

Tyranitar
Ability: Sand Stream
Nature: Adamant
Held Item: Darkinium Z
EVs: H52 A204 B4 D4 S244
Stats: 182-198-131-x-121-112
Moves: Rock Slide / Crunch / Low Kick / Protect

A: Highest EV bump

S: Outspeeds Pheromosa under Tailwind

This is another speedy set designed for a sand team, but this time, with a bit of a twist. This particular set was designed by Spanish players Juan Gil (@Rykku2isi) and Juan Mateos del Amo (@thenotoriousvgc) for their variant of the Japanese Sand core. There is enough speed investment to outspeed Pheromosa under Tailwind, with a very high investment in attack, along with general bulk that would allow Tyranitar to stick around for at least a little longer on the field. The reason why this set benefits greatly from Darkinium Z is because many sand teams in 2018 are weak to Trick Room, and Tyranitar can easily stop Cresselia or Gothitelle from setting up their speed control.

Life Orb

Tyranitar
Ability: Sand Stream
Nature: Adamant
Held Item: Life Orb
EVs: H188 A204 B4 D92 S20
Stats: 199-198-131-x-132-84
Moves: Rock Slide / Crunch / Low Kick / Protect

H: 10n-1

A: Highest EV bump

D: Survives a Choice Specs boosted Moonblast from a modest Tapu Lele, always takes two Choice Specs boosted Dazzling Gleams from a modest Tapu Koko, one point higher than defense stat

S: Outspeeds opposing Tyranitar with 4 EVs in speed by 2, outspeeds minimum speed Cresselia by 3

This is a set designed for more standard teams, and I personally think Life Orb is the best item for Tyranitar because it allows for such ridiculous damage output, even from a simple Rock Slide. The way I designed this spread goes back to when I started to use Terry Newton (@UltraTerryy)’s Sun Balance team for Battle Spot Doubles in Sun and Moon. His team composition is great as a whole because not only it features two weathers, it is also a combination two cores of sun and FAT. I did laddering with his team for a while, then I eventually started to do my own adjustments to fit how I wanted to play the team.

Although Terry’s spread is solid, I decided I wanted to optimize the HP stat for the Life Orb recoil, as well as increasing the special defense investment to make up for the lower HP investment. So, my primary benchmarks were optimizing the HP stat while hitting the highest EV bump for attack. It seemed as Terry’s main benchmark was to survive a Choice Specs boosted Moonblast from a modest Tapu Lele 15/16 times, but because I was able to invest more into special defense for the lower HP investment, I decided to make it a guaranteed 2HKO. 84 EVs turned out to be enough for me, but my roadblock ended up being a tie between the two defensive stats, which would be a slight problem when facing Porygon2. I decided to bump it up a bit further by one point to make this stat higher than physical defense, and coincidentally, 92 EVs turned out to be just enough for Tyranitar to take two Choice Specs boosted Dazzling Gleams from a modest Tapu Koko. I had a few leftover EVs after meeting the benchmarks I wanted, so I decided to dump the rest into speed to account for opposing Tyranitar. The EV spread may look complicated at first, but given my thought process behind this spread, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds.

Weakness Policy

Tyranitar
Ability: Sand Stream
Nature: Adamant
Held Item: Weakness Policy
EVs: H236 A124 B52 D28 S68
Stats: 205-187-137-x-124-90
Moves: Rock Slide / Crunch / Low Kick / Protect

A: Mid-range EV bump

B: Survives an Iron Head from a jolly Mega Metagross

D: Survives a Choice Specs boosted Moonblast from a modest Tapu Lele 15/16 times

S: Outspeeds Mega Metagross under Tailwind

This is a modified version of Jack TheBattler’s spread (@JackTheBattler), where his main benchmarks have been preserved, with the exception of physical defense. He originally had a benchmark for a Meteor Mash from a jolly Mega Metagross, but I thought of tweaking it just to allow Tyranitar to survive an Iron Head from said opposing Pokémon because I personally feel Tyranitar could use more attack investment. It turned out that not only I hit the benchmark of Tyranitar surviving an Iron Head with at least 3 HP, the attack investment also hits an EV bump, which is the icing on the cake. Jack TheBattler said himself that Darkinium Z and Life Orb can also work with a spread like this, so those are other options to explore if you feel the bulk is something you like.

Mega Tyranitar

Tyranitar
Ability: Sand Stream
Nature: Jolly
Held Item: Tyranitarite
EVs: H4 A252 S252
Stats (Base): 176-186-130-x-120-124
Stats (Mega): 176-216-170-x-140-135
Moves: Rock Slide / Crunch / Dragon Dance / Protect

S: Outspeeds opposing Pokémon with a base speed of 70, outspeeds opposing Pokémon with a base speed of 130 after a Dragon Dance

Mega Tyranitar is another option if you want an offensive Pokémon that can sweep the opposing side after it sets up. This particular set needs to be max speed jolly because after a Dragon Dance, Mega Tyranitar can outspeed base 130 speed Pokémon, which are primarily Tapu Koko and Mega Gengar. It has a base speed of 71, so it is able to outspeed all Pokémon with a base speed of 70. You can even try to set up before Mega Evolution in case you’d like a second chance to set up the sandstorm against an opposing weather.


Sample Partners

Japanese Sand

The main goal of this core is to pick up fast Rock Slide flinches with Excadrill, as well as utilizing Salamence’s Intimidate ability before Mega Evolution. Salamence is an essential partner for both Tyranitar and Excadrill because they are both weak to Ground-type moves, and Salamence’s Flying-typing makes it able to safely switch into those kind of attacks. Mega Salamence also has a spread move of its own like Tyranitar and Excadrill do, being Hyper Voice. Because not many Pokémon have a resistance to Flying, a lot of damage would be dealt with a combination of Rock Slide and Hyper Voice to the opposing side. In return, Tyranitar can provide Dark-type coverage against Cresselia for Salamence, and it can also provide Rock-type coverage against many Fire-types for Excadrill.

FAT

This core, known as “Fini, Aegislash, Tyranitar,” or FAT for short, is a core comprising three bulky and offensive Pokémon that provide a fairy/dark/steel coverage. Because of the coverage they provide, along with their bulk, these three provide excellent defensive synergy for one another. Tapu Fini is both a Water-type and Fairy-type, so it takes Water-type attacks, as well as Fighting-type and Bug-type attacks for Tyranitar, while it can take Fire-type and Dark-type attacks for Aegislash. Tapu Fini can also cover against Ground-type Pokémon for both of its partners. Aegislash, on the other hand, is able to take Steel-type and Fighting-type attacks for Tyranitar, as well as Grass-type and Poison-type for Tapu Fini. It also provides Wide Guard support for Tyranitar against incoming Earthquakes or Muddy Waters. In return, Tyranitar can take Ghost-type and Fire-type attacks for Aegislash, as well as providing weather control against harsh sunlight for both of its partners.

Sun
Therian Forme
The idea behind Tyranitar’s synergy with the sun core is mainly weather control, with two options in sand and sun. Furthermore, both Mega Charizard Y and Tyranitar are not completely dependent on their weathers to function properly, which makes this core a flexible set of teammates for Tyranitar. All three of these Pokémon take Fighting-type attacks with ease, Charizard and Landorus threaten a lot of damage with spread moves like Tyranitar can, and Tyranitar is able to comfortably wreak havoc under a Trick Room with its slow base speed of 61.

Tapu Bulu

Tapu Bulu provides excellent defensive synergy for Tyranitar with its Grass and Fairy-typings, as well as its ability to set up the Grassy Terrain. Being able to take down Ground-types and Water-types, take Fighting-type attacks, as well as weakening the damage output of an Earthquake are what Tapu Bulu provides for Tyranitar. In return, Tyranitar can protect Tapu Bulu against Ice-types, Fire-types, and even Flying-types.


Threats

Rain
 /  +  /  / 
Though Tyranitar has an opportunity to seize weather control, rain is still a difficult matchup for it to pull through because not only Tyranitar is weak to water, it also loses out on its special defense boost from the sand, making it even more vulnerable. What makes this matchup worse is that Swapert is a Ground-type, and Ludicolo is a Grass-type, which makes rain a favorable matchup against Tyranitar. If you become unlucky, there may be a random Fightinium Z on the Politoed to KO things like Kangaskhan and Ferrothorn, and this eccentric attack is something Tyranitar needs to stay away from at all costs if you want to win the weather war.

Landorus-T
Therian Forme
Landorus-T will forever be the bane of Tyranitar’s existence. Landorus is faster, and it can easily threaten with either an Earthquake, a U-Turn, or even a Superpower. Furthermore, Landorus-T has access to Intimidate, which can hamper Tyranitar’s damage output.

Physical Grass-types

These three Grass-types specifically are not what Tyranitar want to see. Tapu Bulu and Kartana both have a very high base attack stat, so they easily threaten a OHKO from their STAB moves, Wood Hammer or Leaf Blade, respectively, or a mighty Z-Move in Bloom Doom. All three of them also have a high base defense stat, which means they don’t take very much damage from Tyranitar. Ferrothorn and Kartana are also Steel-types, which means they’ll be taking negligible damage from Rock Slide.

Fighting-types

These are examples of common Fighting-types in the format. Tyranitar is four times weak to Fighting, so it takes minimal damage from moves of both STAB types. Then, these Fighting-type Pokémon will easily OHKO Tyranitar, even after an intimidate. Kommo-o and Pheromosa are the only ones that are viable with Focus Blast, with Pheromosa being the only one of these that can use a Z-Move based off Focus Blast.

Fighting-type Moves
Therian Forme
These Pokémon are not Fighting-type, but are viable to carry one. Either with a physical move such as Low Kick, Superpower, Drain Punch, Sacred Sword, etc., or with a Fightinium Z that’s based off Focus Blast as a special nuke. Although not common on some Pokémon, it’s better to be aware of it if you want to keep Tyranitar around.


Closing Thoughts

Tyranitar is an offensive threat to the metagame, and its offensive prowess, combined with the defensive synergy it can provide to its teammates are unique on its own. The best part about Tyranitar is it doesn’t fully rely on its weather to function the way it wants to during battle. As of now, Tyranitar is currently one of the best Pokémon in the format, and I highly recommend using this Pokémon on a team sometime.

[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #3: Zapdos

zapdos

Artwork by ishmam.

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with the third installment of my PokéAnalysis series for the VGC 2018 format! Today, I will be featuring a Pokémon that went from underrated back in 2012-2016 to one of the best in 2018. A Pokémon that has been a classic, and has maintained its consistency in the competitive scene for years. What you’re about to read is an analysis on Zapdos!

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“Zapdos is a legendary bird Pokémon that has the ability to control electricity. It usually lives in thunderclouds. The Pokémon gains power if it is stricken by lightning bolts.”


Pokémon Details

Zapdos_Dreamworld

Ability:

  • Pressure – If this Pokémon is hit by a move, the opponent’s PP lowers by two rather than one.

Typing

Stats

Base stats taken from Bulbapedia.

Movepool:

Movepool

Role in the Metagame

Image result for zapdos anime

Zapdos is a versatile Pokémon with great typing, a great movepool, along with great stats, which include a high base special attack stat, as well as a surprisingly good amount of bulk. Upon the release of Sun and Moon, Thundurus-Incarnate has been heavily nerfed, which means Zapdos is now a dominant Electric-type Pokémon in the playing field of VGC. Because Zapdos is such a well-rounded Pokémon, it can fit in many teams so well, most notably being with CHALK and rain as two of its main archetypes. It can play different roles such as an offensive attacker or a bulky supporter, or maybe even a mix of both. Over the past years, Zapdos has been an underrated Pokémon for usage, and now, it’s proving itself to be a major threat in this year’s format.


Viable Items


Assault Vest – When held by a Pokémon, it increases the special defense stat by 50%, but requires the Pokémon to only use damaging attacks.


Life Orb – When this item is held by a Pokémon, the damage from the moves used by the holder is increased by 30%. The holder loses 10% of their maximum HP each turn.


Grassy Seed – This item will boost the user’s Defense by 1 stage when Grassy Terrain is activated.

 
Misty/Psychic Seed – This item will boost the user’s Special Defense by 1 stage when Misty/Psychic Terrain activates.


Pinch Berries – If held by a Pokémon, it restores the user’s HP by 50% in a pinch, but it will cause confusion if the user hates the taste.

  • In this case, Zapdos will get confused when it consumes a Figy Berry.


Electrium Z – When held by a Pokémon, it allows them to either use the move Gigavolt Havoc when they have a Physical/Special Electric-type move, or it boosts their Electric-type Status Move.


Sample Sets

Misty/Psychic Seed
 / 
Zapdos
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Calm
Held Item: Misty Seed or Psychic Seed
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Def / 60 SpA / 4 SpD / 92 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
– Tailwind
– Roost / Protect / Detect

Defensive Calcs:

  • -1 252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 236 HP / 116 Def Zapdos: 83-100 (42.5 – 51.2%) — 0.7% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Ludicolo Hydro Vortex (185 BP) vs. +1 236 HP / 4+ SpD Zapdos in Rain: 135-159 (69.2 – 81.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. +1 236 HP / 4+ SpD Zapdos in Psychic Terrain: 163-193 (83.5 – 98.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO

The first set I will be featuring is a modified version of Sam Temple (@templevgc)’s spread, which is originally found on his blog, The Nimbasa City Post. It allows Zapdos that allows to take advantage of terrains set up by Tapu Fini or Tapu Lele with its bulk. With these seeds, Zapdos has the ability to stick around on the field longer with a boost in Special Defense. The physical investment is a benchmark set by Conan Wild (@RazerVGC), which makes a Double-Edge from a Mega Kangaskhan of a jolly nature almost always a 3HKO after an intimidate, and I was surprisingly able to retain the other original investments made by Temple. According to him, Zapdos does not need much special defense investment since the seed would already boost the stat significantly, allowing Zapdos to survive a Hydro Vortex from Ludicolo in the rain, as well as a Shattered Psyche from Tapu Lele in Psychic Terrain. For this kind of set, Roost is generally preferred, but Protect or Detect are also decent options since they prevent Zapdos from taking any attacks. As for the choice between Hidden Power Ice and Heat Wave, it really depends on the needs of your team. Usually, I’d go with Hidden Power Ice, but if the team struggles against something like Ferrothorn, then Heat Wave would be the superior choice in this case.

Grassy Seed

Zapdos
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Bold
Held Item: Grassy Seed
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Def / 60 SpA / 116 SpD / 92 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
– Tailwind
– Roost / Protect / Detect

Defensive Calcs:

  • -1 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. +1 236 HP / 4+ Def Zapdos: 64-77 (32.8 – 39.4%) — 100% chance to 3HKO
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 236 HP / 116 SpD Zapdos: 85-102 (43.5 – 52.3%) — 12.9% chance to 2HKO

Surprise! This is a reverse engineering of the other spread above, and surprisingly, there are still important calcs in this one. Like the last spread, since Zapdos has the Grassy Seed, not much defense investment is needed at all. With its special defense investment, it’s able to take two Moonblasts from a modest Tapu Lele 14 out of 16 times. The nice thing about the synergy between Zapdos and Tapu Bulu is they can easily cover each other’s weaknesses, with Zapdos being able to hit Flying-types, while Tapu Bulu can hit Rock-types.

Gigavolt Havoc

Zapdos
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Modest
Held Item: Electrium Z
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Def / 28 SpA / 84 SpD / 44 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
– Tailwind
– Protect / Detect / Roost

Defensive Calcs:

  • -1 252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 236 HP / 116 Def Zapdos: 83-100 (42.5 – 51.2%) — 0.7% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 236 HP / 84 SpD Zapdos: 163-193 (83.5 – 98.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO

This EV spread was created by Conan Wild (@RazerVGC), which is probably the most standard of Electrium Z spreads at the moment. Like the first spread I featured, a Double-Edge from a jolly Mega Kangaskhan is almost always a 3HKO after an intimidate. Because Zapdos has a naturally high base special attack, it doesn’t need a whole lot of investment into the stat, especially with the Electrium Z being utilized for big damage. Zapdos has a surprising amount of bulk, and this spread allows it to survive a Shattered Psyche from a Tapu Lele outside of Psychic Terrain. Protect or Detect are preferred moves since this set is offensive, but Roost isn’t a shabby idea either since Zapdos is bulky enough to hold on.

Pinch Berry
 /  /  / 
Zapdos
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Modest
Held Item: Any Pinch Berry (except Figy)
EVs: 244 HP / 68 Def / 28 SpA / 92 SpD / 76 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
– Tailwind
– Roost / Protect / Detect

Defensive Calcs:

  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 244 HP / 68 Def Zapdos: 80-96 (40.8 – 48.9%) — guaranteed 4HKO after Pinch Berry recovery
  • 116+ SpA Pixilate Mega Gardevoir Hyper Voice vs. 244 HP / 92 SpD Zapdos: 82-97 (41.8 – 49.4%) — guaranteed 4HKO after Pinch Berry recovery
  • -1 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 244 HP / 68 Def Zapdos: 95-115 (48.4 – 58.6%) — 99.8% chance to 3HKO after Pinch Berry recovery

Other Benchmarks:

  • Outspeeds a modest Heatran
  • Outspeeds a +1 adamant Mega Salamence when Tailwind is set up
  • HP is 4n

This spread allows Zapdos to stick around on the field as long as possible while maintaining an offensive presence with its modest nature. With a pinch berry, a Rock Slide from an adamant Landorus, as well as a Hyper Voice from up to 116+ SpA Mega Gardevoir will always be a 4HKO. Even a Double-Edge from an adamant Mega Kangaskhan will almost always be a 3HKO after an intimidate. Roost is preferred here for Zapdos to sit on the field for longer, but Protect or Detect are also viable options for Zapdos to avoid getting hit by attacks. It’s also important to note the HP stat is divisible by 4, which makes the stat optimal for a pinch berry.

Life Orb

Zapdos
Ability: Pressure
Naure: Timid
Held Item: Life Orb
EVs: 28 HP / 4 Def / 220 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
– Tailwind / Heat Wave
– Protect / Detect

Other Benchmarks:

  • HP is 10n-1

This is a very offensive variant of Zapdos, which utilizes the Life Orb as its item choice. The most important benchmark on this spread is its HP stat, which makes it optimized for the recoil damage. For the most part, it is max speed to pick up as many fast KO’s as it can. Like always, Hidden Power Ice or Heat Wave would depend on the needs of your team. It’s recommended for Zapdos to have Tailwind as an option for speed control, but it’s also not a bad idea for Zapdos to be an all-out attacker. Keep in mind that this Zapdos is a lot more frail than the other spreads I’ve featured so far.

Assault Vest

Zapdos
Ability: Pressure
Nature: Modest
Held Item: Assault Vest
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Def / 44 SpA / 92 SpD / 20 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk if set does not have Sky Drop, or 31 Atk if set does have Sky Drop
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
– Sky Drop / Heat Wave
– Volt Switch

Defensive Calcs:

  • -1 252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 236 HP / 116 Def Zapdos: 83-100 (42.5 – 51.2%) — 0.7% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 236 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Zapdos in Psychic Terrain: 163-193 (83.5 – 98.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Other Benchmarks:

  • Outspeeds an adamant Bisharp

Zapdos has access to Volt Switch and Sky Drop, but unfortunately, those moves don’t really have a chance to shine in competitive play. The best way for Zapdos to utilize these two moves is with the Assault Vest, and with its typing, using this item shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Because Zapdos wouldn’t have access to Tailwind for this set, speed investment shouldn’t be much of a concern since all it really needs to outspeed is an adamant Bisharp. Just like almost the other spreads I’ve featured, we’ll be sticking with Razer’s physical defensive investment. As for the special defensive investment, Zapdos is able to withstand a Shattered Psyche from Tapu Lele, even in Psychic Terrain. Alternatively, you don’t have to run Sky Drop if you want to run both Hidden Power Ice and Heat Wave.


Sample Partners

Tapu Lele & Tapu Fini

Because Tapu Lele and Tapu Fini have terrains, Zapdos can utilize them to its advantage by increasing its special bulk with the Psychic Seed or the Misty Seed, respectively. Tapu Lele can cover for Zapdos by dealing a large amount of damage, while Tapu Fini can cover for its weakness to Rock-types. In return, Zapdos can cover for these two against the likes of opposing bulky Water-types, as well as Mega Charizard Y.

Tapu Bulu

Zapdos can utilize the Grassy Terrain to its advantage by increasing its physical bulk with the Grassy Seed. Although the synergy is not as common as it would be with Tapu Lele or Tapu Fini, Zapdos and Tapu Bulu have a more defensive synergy, namely against rain teams. While Zapdos can cover against Flying-types, including Mega Salamence with a Hidden Power Ice, Tapu Bulu can cover Zapdos’s weakness to Rock-types. Furthermore, Zapdos also resists Steel, another type that Tapu Bulu is weak to.

CHALK
 Therian Forme
Because Thundurus-I has been nerfed significantly, Zapdos is now one of the best Electric-types in VGC, and with the introduction of Tapu Fini, Zapdos pairs with this archetype fairly well. Kangaskhan can provide Fake Out support to help Zapdos set up a Tailwind, while Zapdos can take Fighting-type attacks with relative ease. Zapdos can easily switch into potential Ground-type moves that would target Heatran, namely those from Landorus-T, and Zapdos can easily retaliate with a Hidden Power Ice. With Cresselia, the opponent faces two very bulky Pokémon with different forms of speed control. Cresselia can provide support with Helping Hand to help Zapdos deal more damage, or even Icy Wind or Trick Room for speed control, while Zapdos can take Bug-type attacks in return. With Landorus, Zapdos can take care of Water-types, while Landorus-T can safely use Earthquake next to it. With Tapu Fini, Zapdos can gain a significant amount of bulk thanks to the Misty Seed.

Rain
 /  +  /  / 
Zapdos can pair well with rain because Charizard Y can threaten weather control, and Zapdos is a secondary option in stopping Charizard Y should the weather be changed to sun. Politoed is the preferred rain setter for Zapdos because it’s bulky, it has access to Icy Wind, and it also has access to disruptive moves such as Encore and Perish Song. Ludicolo is an excellent partner for Fake Out support in case Zapdos needs to set up a Tailwind. Kingdra can slightly deal more damage than Ludicolo thanks to its base 95 special attack stat, and it also has access to Disable as a disruptive move. Swampert is the only rain abuser that deals physical damage, and it’s a great option for stopping Pokémon like Tapu Koko and Nihilego.

Japanese Sand
 
Zapdos can provide a speed control option with Tailwind, Excadrill can safely use Earthquake next to it, and most importantly, Zapdos covers the Water-type weakness for Tyranitar and Excadrill. Zapdos can also help this core improve matchups against opposing weather.

Mega Gardevoir & Friends
Therian Forme +  / 
This is one of the more interesting archetypes Zapdos would naturally fit into. With this archetype, this team would have speed control options in both Trick Room and Tailwind, both of them being from bulky offensive Pokémon. Incineroar may not have access to Intimidate yet, but it is such a key partner for both Gardevoir and Zapdos.


Threats

Rock-types

Rock-types hit Zapdos for a lot of damage, and they are almost always guaranteed to 2HKO with Rock Slide. Nihilego is the only one that can deal special damage to Zapdos, which means it doesn’t need to worry about Intimidate. Aerodactyl naturally outspeeds Zapdos, so it’s always likely to set up a Tailwind first. Both forms of Tyranitar can deal massive damage, and Zapdos has to be especially wary of Mega Tyranitar, as they typically carry Dragon Dance. Terrakion is not seen as much, but Whimsicott can boost Terrakion’s attack with Beat Up, thanks to its ability, Justified, along with a Tailwind. Once Terrakion is all set up, Zapdos would be most likely not be able to do anything the moment it enters the field. Stakataka is very slow, it can set up Trick Room, and most importantly, it has a very high base attack stat.

Tapu Koko

Tapu Koko is a huge threat to Zapdos because it has access to Taunt to deny a Tailwind setup, and it can also threaten a OHKO with a Gigavolt Havoc on more offensive sets.

Bulky Grass-types
Mow Rotom
Because Grass-types resist Electric-type moves, Zapdos can’t do very much to them without Heat Wave. Rotom-Mow is especially problematic since it’s four times resistant to Electric-type moves. Hidden Power Ice can deal a decent amount of damage, but the output is still nowhere near significant.

Japanese Sand
 
Tyranitar threatens a lot of damage with Rock Slide, and sometimes, it can carry a Choice Scarf, which is especially problematic for Zapdos when it’s paired with Excadrill. Salamence naturally outspeeds Zapdos, which means that the opposing Tailwind will always be set up first, should both Pokémon use this move on the same turn. With that being said, if the Tailwind is set up for the opposing side, it is almost impossible for Excadrill to be outsped.


Closing Thoughts

With its underrated consistency throughout the years, Zapdos has finally gotten the attention it deserves, and the way it performs in the VGC 2018 format proves why it is one of the best Pokémon this year. If you need a reasonable Pokémon that can replace the heavily nerfed Thundurus-Incarnate, Zapdos is well worth considering.

[VGC 2018] PokéAnalysis #2: Mega Charizard Y

mega-charizard-y

Artwork by ishmam.

Alola! It’s Kasoman, and I’m back with the second segment of the VGC 2018 PokéAnalysis series! Today, I will be featuring a classic Pokémon that is still a widely popular choice to both competitive and casual players alike, Charizard! This segment will feature its Y forme of its Mega Evolution. Last time, I did an analysis on Landorus-Therian, and if you didn’t have a chance to read it, you can check it out here.

122116_2244_VGC2017PokA2.png

“Its wings can carry this Pokémon close to an altitude of 4,600 feet. It blows out fire at very high temperatures. When expelling a blast of superhot fire, the red flame at the tip of its tail burns more intensely.”


Pokémon Details

62257_006Charizard_Mega_Y_Dream

Ability:

  • Drought – Weather changes to intense sunshine as the Pokémon enters the battle. This lasts for five turns.

Details

Stats

Base stats taken from Bulbapedia.

Movepool


Role in the Metagame

Trevor_Mega_Charizard_Y

Mega Charizard Y is one of the best megas in the format because it has an option for weather control against archetypes such as Rain and Sand, it has one of the most basic typings in fire, and it has an excellent offensive prowess of a base 159 special attack, combined with a fast base speed of 100. What makes Charizard Y stand out as a Mega Evolution is its flexibility in sets. It is able to run a standard fast offensive set, or it can run a bulkier support set that utilizes the move Tailwind for speed control. All in all, Charizard Y proves itself to be one of the best Mega Pokémon since its debut in 2014.


Sample Sets

Terry Newton’s Offensive
 → 
Charizard
Ability: Blaze → Drought
Nature: Timid
Held Item: Charizardite Y
EVs: 60 HP / 196 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave / Flamethrower
– Solar Beam
– Overheat / Flamethrower
– Protect

Defensive Calcs:

  • -1 252 Atk Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 60 HP / 0 Def Charizard: 67-81 (41.6 – 50.3%) — 0.4% chance to 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 60 HP / 0 Def Mega Charizard Y: 124-148 (77 – 91.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 4 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 60 HP / 0 Def Mega Charizard Y: 138-163 (85.7 – 101.2%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252 SpA Aerilate Mega Salamence Hyper Voice vs. 60 HP / 0 SpD Mega Charizard Y: 58-69 (36 – 42.8%) — guaranteed 3HKO

Offensive Calcs:

  • Heat Wave:
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kangaskhan in Sun: 123-145 (67.9 – 80.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Heat Wave vs. 180 HP / 12 SpD Kangaskhan in Sun: 121-144 (59.6 – 70.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T in Sun: 123-145 (74.5 – 87.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-T in Sun: 81-96 (49 – 58.1%) — 96.5% chance to 2HKO
  • Solar Beam:
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Solar Beam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kangaskhan: 92-109 (50.8 – 60.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Solar Beam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 92-109 (55.7 – 66%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Solar Beam vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 124-146 (70 – 82.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • Flamethrower:
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Flamethrower vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kangaskhan in Sun: 156-184 (86.1 – 101.6%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Flamethrower vs. 180 HP / 12 SpD Kangaskhan in Sun: 153-181 (75.3 – 89.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Flamethrower vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T in Sun: 156-184 (94.5 – 111.5%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Flamethrower vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-T in Sun: 103-123 (62.4 – 74.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • Overheat:
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kangaskhan in Sun: 225-265 (124.3 – 146.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 180 HP / 12 SpD Kangaskhan in Sun: 220-261 (108.3 – 128.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T in Sun: 225-265 (136.3 – 160.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
    • 196 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-T in Sun: 150-177 (90.9 – 107.2%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO

Normally, one would start off with max special attack and max speed, which is perfectly fine for its simplicity. However, this offensive spread was created by Terry Newton (@UltraTerryy) for a Sun Balance team he piloted in the Battle Spot Doubles ladder in Sun and Moon (you can use it for VGC 2018). The main defensive benchmark is probably a jolly Kangaskhan’s Double-Edge after an intimidate, which is practically a 3HKO on this spread. Because some players would prefer Flamethrower for accuracy, I decided to include offensive calcs for Heat Wave, Flamethrower, and Overheat to help you decide which Fire-type moves you want in your set. Overall, the spread depends on your playstyle and your team’s needs, but this is a great place to start, and I’m personally a fan of this spread.

Tailwind Support
 → 
Charizard
Ability: Blaze → Drought
Nature: Modest
Held Item: Charizardite Y
EVs: 252 HP / 132 Def / 100 SpA / 4 SpD / 20 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave / Flamethrower
– Solar Beam / Overheat / Hidden Power [Ground]
– Tailwind
– Protect

Defensive Calcs:

  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 252 HP / 132 Def Mega Charizard Y: 156-188 (84.3 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 132 Def Mega Charizard Y: 64-76 (34.5 – 41%) — guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ SpA Life Orb Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Mega Charizard Y: 156-187 (84.3 – 101%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

The main goal of this spread is to have enough bulk to safely set up with Tailwind. It allows Charizard to survive a Rock Slide from an adamant Landorus-T 15 out of 16 times without needing an intimidate to weaken the opposing Landorus. The special attack and speed are key investments on their own. 100 EVs into special attack for modest nature allows Charizard to deal the same amount of damage as a max special attack timid Charizard Y, which gives you the luxury of investing more into bulk, as I’ve done in my EV spread. As for speed, the main benchmark is Bisharp of an adamant nature, and the reason why I benchmarked for Bisharp is because there is a possibility it may rise in usage, as a handful of teams out there are not very prepared for it, and Bisharp is good at dealing with Cresselia, Aegislash, Tapu Lele, and Tapu Bulu. It’s especially dangerous that Bisharp’s ability is Defiant, which gives it a +1 attack boost after an intimidate. There are a lot of viable base 100 speed Pokémon in the format, so you may need to adjust your speed investment accordingly. Hidden Power Ground is another option in attacks in case your team struggles against Heatran, and it can also deal decent damage to other Fire-types such as Incineroar and Camerupt.


Sample Partners

Sun Core
Therian Forme
A popular core from 2015, which is built around Mega Charizard Y, Landorus-T, and Cresselia. Charizard pairs well with Landorus-T because both of them have access to spread moves that deal a lot of damage thanks to their combined offensive prowess. Against opposing Landorus, Cresselia can cover Charizard with with Ice Beam or Icy Wind, as Landorus-T is one of the biggest threats to Charizard Y. Cresselia also has access to Trick Room as a method of speed control, and its especially helpful for those who run a Tailwind Support set as a secondary method of speed control.

If you want an in-depth explanation of this core, you can watch this video done by Jack TheBattler (@JackTheBattler), where he provides a very detailed explanation of what this core can do, as well as how you can EV each of those Pokémon to fulfill certain roles.

 

FAT

FAT, currently known as “Fini, Aegislash, Tyranitar,” is a rising core in the 2018 format because of their combined bulk, as well as their defensive typings. Charizard Y pairs exceptionally well with this core because it gives them another option of weather, and it also provides them fire coverage, completing a fire/fairy/dark core, something that became popular in the 2015 Post-Worlds metagame, which featured Charizard Y, Tyranitar, and Sylveon at the time. What this core does for Charizard is Tapu Fini covers against Landorus-T, as well as being able to take Water-type attacks. Tyranitar deals with opposing Charizard Y exceptionally well thanks to its high base attack and ability to use Rock Slide. Lastly, Aegislash provides Wide Guard support to block incoming Rock Slides from the opposing Pokémon. Terry Newton’s Sun Balance team, which is shared under his set is actually two combined cores of Charizard Y/Landorus-T/Cresselia and FAT.

Rotom-W
Wash Rotom
Although Rotom-W’s Hydro Pump will be weakened in the sun, it is an exceptionally great counter to Landorus-T, as it can deal a lot of damage with Hydro Pump, it is immune to Ground-type moves thanks to Levitate, it’s bulky enough to take hits well, and it can also easily burn the opposing Landorus with Will-O-Wisp since Landorus is a Flying-type. On top of that, Rotom-W deals with Water-types with Electric-type moves. In return, Charizard can cover against Grass-types such as Amoonguss, Tapu Bulu, and Kartana with its Fire-type moves.

Tapu Koko

Tapu Koko is great for dealing with Water-types with its Electric-type moves, and Electrium Z is one of the most popular items for this Pokémon. Tapu Koko is also a very fast Pokémon, so it is capable of picking up quick KOs against many opposing Pokémon in the format such as Tapu Fini and opposing Charizard Y. In addition to this, Tapu Koko also has access to Dazzling Gleam as a spread move to deal with Dragon-types such as Salamence, and it is also capable of picking up a KO on Landorus with Hidden Power Ice. Tapu Koko also has access to Taunt to prevent other Pokémon from setting up, and it’s especially helpful for the fact both Charizard and Tapu Koko are fast Pokémon.


Checks and Counters

Landorus-T
Therian Forme
Even though Landorus-T is one of its best partners, if not, the best partner, Landorus-T is also known to be its arch nemesis because of its ability to repeatedly use Rock Slide, especially when holding a Choice Scarf. Many max speed Charizard Y can easily lose to a Landorus-T holding a Choice Scarf, so careful play and speed control is required to play around it. The good news is that Charizard Y can deal a lot of damage to Landorus-T in return, possibly even picking up a OHKO with Overheat.

Mega Kangaskhan

Mega Kangaskhan is a threat to Charizard because it has access to Fake Out, which helps it deny a possible Tailwind set up on its first turn, and it can deal a lot of damage with Double-Edge thanks to its ability, Parental Bond, combined with STAB. Kangaskhan also has access to Sucker Punch, which helps it pick up a quick KO if Charizard Y has been heavily damaged. Because Charizard Y is a Flying-type, there’s no way it will get protected from the Psychic Terrain.

Rock-types

These are fast Rock-type Pokémon Charizard Y needs to very cautious of because they are almost always guaranteed to pick up an easy KO on Charizard Y. Aerodactyl is also capable of setting up Tailwind, as well as supporting its partners with Wide Guard, which is especially problematic. Nihilego is a special attacker, so it does not need to worry about an incoming intimidate to KO Charizard Y with Power Gem. Terrakion is known to be paired with Whimsicott for Beat Up + Justified shenanigans, and if Terrakion is all set up and ready to wreck havoc, chances are Charizard Y won’t be able to do anything when it enters the field.

Electric-types
Wash Rotom
Electric-types threaten a lot of damage to Charizard Y, especially fast ones like Manectric and Tapu Koko. In fact, thanks to the Electric Terrain, Tapu Koko easily picks up a OHKO on Charizard Y, no matter how bulky it is. Zapdos is naturally a bulky Pokémon, it has access to Tailwind as a method of speed control, and it can also take advantage of its own bulk by sitting there and using Roost repeatedly. The most common items on Zapdos are Electrium Z, Misty Seed, or Psychic Seed, so Charizard Y is either threatened to get KO’d quickly, or it cannot take down Zapdos quick enough. Rotom-W is both Water and Electric-type, so the only way for Charizard Y to hit Rotom-W is with a super effective Solar Beam, but don’t count on it picking up an easy KO since Rotom-W is also a naturally bulky Pokémon. Manectric has access to Intimidate as its ability, so it can easily cripple your physical attackers that you would need to take it down. Thundurus-T is fast, and has a ridiculously high base special attack, and a handful of them tend to carry a Choice Scarf. Xurkitree, on the other hand, can set up with a Tail Glow, and its bulk is no slouch either. Once Xurkitree is set up with proper speed control, Charizard Y will have a bad time.

Rain
 /  +  /  / 
Just as an opposing weather can cripple Charizard Y’s damage output, it can’t get any worse if it benefits Water-types, a type Charizard Y wants to avoid. The worst part is that each of the abusers of rain have Swift Swim as their abilities, and they are almost guaranteed to pick up an easy KO on Charizard Y is the opposing Pokémon has both the weather and speed control. Furthermore, Politoed and Pelipper can not only set up the weather, but they also have their speed control methods in Icy Wind and Tailwind, respectively.

Sand
 +  / 
Another opposing weather, and it’s a scary one for Charizard to face. Tyranitar has a high base attack stat, and some players who use this archetype would prefer offensive items such as Choice Scarf or Life Orb, and being paired with Excadrill is especially terrifying because of its ability Sand Rush, which doubles its speed in the sandstorm. This version of sand, known as Japanese Sand, has been known for repeated usage of Rock Slide because of the fast speeds involved, which is something Charizard Y absolutely does not want to deal with. Landorus-I is a somewhat strange Pokémon to mention, but a player named Angel Miranda (@AngelJMiranda) decided to use Landorus-I as the abuser to create the American Sand team, and he finished 3rd Place at Georgia Regionals with it back in 2015. Many renditions of this archetype would carry Sludge Bomb this year; however, Landorus-I also has access to Stone Edge, which the original version had, and it is specifically utilized to KO Mega Charizard Y. Mega Salamence, another known abuser of sand, though it doesn’t actually benefit from sand, can repeatedly use Hyper Voice to whittle down Charizard Y, threaten a lot of damage with Double-Edge, possibly even picking up a OHKO, and most of all, Salamence walls Charizard Y thanks to its Dragon and Flying typings. Another thing to be cautious of is that many Salamence tend to carry Tailwind, so it might be near impossible to outspeed the opposing Pokémon with your own Tailwind.

Heatran

If Charizard Y does not have Hidden Power Ground, it absolutely cannot touch Heatran, and thanks to Flash Fire, Heatran gets a boost for Fire-type moves when hit with Fire-type moves from opposing Pokémon. Furthermore, Heatran has a high special attack stat, so it is no slouch in whittling down Charizard Y with a Fire-type move, especially in the sun.

Tapu Lele

Although their type matchups do not directly correlate, Tapu Lele deals a lot of damage with Psychic in its own terrain, and if it holds the Psychium Z, it is almost always guaranteed to KO Charizard Y. Tapu Lele also has access to Taunt, which can be problematic for bulky Tailwind variants since it has a base speed of 95.


Closing Thoughts

Charizard has always been a classic Pokémon people come to know and love since the franchise first started, and its popularity in the competitive scene made a resurgence since it got a Mega Evolution in X and Y. Since its debut in 2014, Charizard Y has been one of the best Mega Pokémon because of its offensive prowess, its ability to set up weather, as well as an option in speed control. In 2018, Charizard Y will be consistent as one of the most used Pokémon in the format because of these qualities it has, just like 2014 and 2015.