TCG 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!
“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.”
- 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.
|Stat||Base Value||Real Values|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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
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.
EV: H236 A116 B76 D68 S12
Held Item: Assault Vest
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– 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.
It’s Snack Time!
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EV: H204 A116 B4 D164 S20
Held Item: Pinch Berry
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– Fake Out
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
EV: H212 A196 B4 D12 S84
Held Item: Incinium Z
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
– Fake Out
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
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.
Gardevoir and Friends
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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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.