Gen VII Pokémon Preview: Part 1

With the official release of Pokémon Sun & Moon, video game championship players are scrambling to figure out the newest generation of Pokémon before the competitive format changes on December 1. While it’s far too early to start on a meta-game guide, it is possible to preview potential options and their viable configurations.

Below is a list of Pokémon easy to obtain and breed in the Alola region and a brief consideration of their potential. Keep an eye out for part two (which will cover the new Alolan forms, legendary Pokémon and the Ultra Beasts) and part three (which will cover viable Pokémon from previous generations), coming soon!

Index

decidueyeDecidueye: Grass | Ghost

Stats: 78/107/75/100/100/70

Potential ability options: Long Reach

Potential items: Choice Scarf, Assault Vest, Focus Sash, Life Orb, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Potential moves: Spirit Shackle, Leaf Blade, Brave Bird, Nasty Plot, Sucker Punch, Roost, Shadow Ball, Energy Ball, U-turn, Substitute

Despite dropping its flying type in favor of ghost (and being one of the coolest final starter evolutions in the history of Pokémon), Decidueye still looks like a competitive disappointment at first glance. While its balanced attack and special attack stat may make it an unpredictable team-member, many players would have preferred the extra special defense went into speed as well. It is the fastest of the starters in a generation where most mons are significantly slower than in the past, but that won’t help it keep up with older staples that can rip this thing to shreds (Gengar, Weavile, Talonflame, etc.)

Long reach is also a mediocre ability that will probably not come in too handy, unless it’s physical and staring down Toxapex. Decidueye does have some good attacks on the physical side and access to recovery, it doesn’t have the strength or staying power to use either. Spirit Shackle remains its main draw with its potential for trapping in a format without Shadow Tag. Many players have demonstrated the great potential of trapping, but it might not be enough to warrant giving a spot to this edgy sniper bird.

incineroarIncineroar: Fire | Dark

Stats: 95/115/90/80/90/60

Potential ability options: Intimidate

Potential items: Choice Scarf, Choice Band, Life Orb, Focus Sash, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Potential moves: Fake Out, Crunch, Darkest Lariat, Throat Chop, Body Slam, Heat Wave, Flamethrower, Flare Blitz, Outrage, Cross Chop, Earthquake, Leech Life, Quash, Will-o-wisp, Swords Dance, U-turn, Snarl, Substitute, Dark Pulse

Incineroar easily seems like the best starter of the three from a competitive standpoint thanks to its incredibly useful ability, rounded stats and deep move-pool. It’s typing also does wonders for its stock both offensively and defensively. Plus, it’s the only Pokémon with this type combination usable in VGC 17. It’s a little slow, but still not at the bottom barrel and could be viable in Trick Room. Attack wise, it will hit much harder and live much longer thanks to its 115 base attack stat and Intimidate. Defensively, it actually has stats comparable to Arcanine and the support moves (such as Snarl, Will-o-Wisp and a slow Quash) to back up a bulky set.

From a move-pool standpoint, Incineroar is rather stacked. Fake Out is one of the best moves in the game and few sets won’t run that option. Flare Blitz will hit opponents very hard at the cost of a little recoil and Crunch isn’t terrible as a Dark type STAB (though no sucker punch sucks). The only downside is it doesn’t get many moves to cover its weakness, but there’s diversity in other types. Otherwise, the only thing that will keep Incineroar from play on day one is that it’s hidden ability might not be released for some time.

primarinaPrimarina

Stats: 80/74/74/126/116/60

Possible abilities: Liquid Voice

Possible items: Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Leftovers, Sitrus Berry, Assault Vest, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Perish Song, Aqua Jet, Encore, Sing, Hyper Voice, Moonblast, Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, Psychic, Shadow Ball, Energy Ball, Scald, Substitute, Surf, Dazzling Gleam.

While Primarina new hidden ability might make it look alluring, don’t let looks deceive you. Having a Water-type Hyper Voice is awesome, but it doesn’t get the extra little boost that most “-ate” abilities grant. Still, with 126 special attack and a type resisted by few others, not many mons will handle the damage well.

Due to its type distribution, though, it might end up serving as a more offensive/less bulky Milotic. It doesn’t have recovery, but it does have the ever valuable fairy type, a plethora of coverage moves and access to some fun support moves (Perish Song, Encore and Sing). With the right build and support, Primarina could be as annoying to deal with as it is fabulous. That being said, it probably won’t be setting the tone like some of its peers.

toucannonToucannon: Normal | Flying

Stats: 80/120/75/75/75/60

Possible abilities: Skill Link, Sheer Force

Possible items: Choice Scarf, Choice Band, Choice Specs, Life Orb, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Brave Bird, Boom Burst, Tailwind, Beak Blast, Rock Blast, Roost, Bullet Seed, U-turn, Substitute

Toucannon won’t have the same impact Talonflame did, but that doesn’t mean its unusable. Its biggest problem is a mediocre speed stat, but it’ll hit as hard as Staraptor does with a Brave Bird (they share the same base attack). Its special attack is considerably lower, but it would be one of the few Pokémon with access to STAB Boom Burst. It also may be the only Pokémon outside of Cinccino with access to Skill Link and the moves to put it to use. Rock Blast and Bullet seed are decent coverage options that will to a huge chunk of damage thanks to this glass cannon’s power.

In the end, there will likely be two ways to use Toucannon. The first is to run it as a fast Brave Bird/Boom Burst spammer that tries to blow things away before it drops. Choice Scarf will help it achieve this goal most of the time, though a Band or Specs are options with the proper speed control. The second set will be a mix between Skill Linked coverage moves and Tailwind. As a final note, the biggest disappointment is that this Pokémon has access to Sheer Force without many moves to benefit from it.

gumshoosGumshoos: Normal

Stats: 88/110/60/55/60/45

Possible abilities: Stakeout, Adaptability

Possible items: Choice Band, Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Focus Sash, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Moves: Last Resort, Super Fang, Crunch, Hyper Fang, Taunt, Earthquake, Return, U-turn, Substitute

Gumshoos looks about as useful as the real life person he resembles (shots fired). Despite a solid attack stat and a pair of good abilities, it just doesn’t have the stats or move-pool to justify a team slot. Adaptability helps Gumshoos hit almost as hard as mega Kangaskhan, but it still falls short of that mark and doesn’t hit twice. On top of that, it doesn’t have the bulk or speed (or Fake Out for that matter) to make it actually comparable.

Stakeout would be cool tech if it were perhaps on another Pokémon, but it will probably go to waste here. Gumshoos isn’t scaring anything out of play on its own, and it likely can’t hit whatever its partner might bait in for super effective damage anyway. At best, its access to Last Resort could make it a powerful Z-Crystal user, especially since no other item in particular would help it ascend to a useful state. Still, you could probably find a much better option.

vikavoltVikavolt Bug | Electric

Stats: 77/70/90/145/75/43

Possible abilities: Levitate

Possible items: Choice Scarf, Choice Specs, Life Orb, Focus Sash, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Moves: Electroweb, Thunderbolt, Air Slash, Bug Buzz, Roost, Energy Ball, Volt Switch, Substitute, Flash Cannon

Vikavolt is one of the coolest looking new Pokémon, and it actually might be one of the few bug types in the franchise to be useful in VGC. It has a monstrous special attack stat will roast water, flying and psychic types. Plus, it even has some decent coverage moves in Energy Ball and Flash Cannon. With those in its arsenal, ground types won’t be able to switch into electric attacks and rock types aren’t necessarily free to fire off Rock Slides.

Of course, all of that potential is mitigated by a fairly low speed stat. While that makes Trick Room an option, that forces players to spend a turn setting up when they’d likely rather be tearing through their opponent. A Choice Scarf might help, but lower speed stats get a far smaller boost than their moderately speedy peers. It does have access to some other forms of speed control to help it hit first, though. Electroweb is the same as Icy Wind except for the electric type, and String Shot sacrifices the damage to lower speed by two stages.

Vikavolt also happens to be one of the few Pokémon in this generation that can switch in on ground type attacks thanks to Levitate. That will certainly come in handy, but the jury is out on whether it will miss being able to benefit from Electric Terrain’s boost. As a final note, those wanting to experiment with Z-moves might be willing to try using the electric one with Zap Cannon as a base. Gigavolt Havoc draws on the 120 base power and is guaranteed to hit. Factor in the base 145 special attack stat and it’s not looking good for the Pokémon on the receiving end.

crabominableCrabominable Fighting | Ice

Stats: 97/132/77/62/67/43

Possible abilities: Iron Fist, Hyper Cutter, Anger Point

Possible items: Choice Band, Life Orb, Adrenaline Orb, Assault Vest, Lum Berry, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Wide Guard, Superpower, Ice Hammer, Close Combat, Earthquake, Brutal Swing, Rock Slide, Substitute

Meet Ice-Conkeldurr, gen-7’s biggest fist. While their stat lines are comparable, there are a number of differences between them outside of the ice type. First off, Crabominable doesn’t currently have access to priority moves. That makes it much more reliant on speed control, such as Trick Room, for its continued success.

However, if you can get this Pokémon set up, it’s likely to wreak havoc. Hyper Cutter can help you laugh off any Intimidaters, and Iron First helps you a fair bit harder with Crabominable’s new toy: Ice Hammer. The attack is basically an ice type Hammer Arm, but it also (technically) boosts the user’s speed in Trick Room. Aside from that, it gets powerful attacks like Close Combat and Superpower to take advantage of its Fighting STAB, and Earthquake and Rockslide always make for good coverage. It even has Wide Guard, which may still be useful in the 2017 metagame.

oricorio-collageOricorio Flying | Fire/Electric/Psychic/Ghost

Stats: 75/70/70/98/70/93

Possible abilities: Dancer

Possible items: Focus Sash, Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Life Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Tailwind, Safeguard, Helping Hand, Baton Pass, Roost, Air Slash, Revelation Dance, Hurricane, Calm Mind, Taunt, U-turn

Dancer is an awesome ability, but because set up is much rarer in VGC it may be significantly less-useful. Oricorio also prefers copying boosts from moves such as Dragon Dance and Quiver Dance as opposed to something like Swords Dance (because gotta go fast), and it’s hard to say whether any of these moves will see enough use to take advantage of this mon’s unique ability.

That being said, this Pokémon does have a diverse array of typings to choose from and a decently powerful move in Revelation Dance that matches said types. The metagame will eventually determine the best option, but Zapdos has proven flying and electric to be a powerful combination. It doesn’t have the legendary bird’s stats, but it is rather speedy for this generation and it has a decent special attack stat.

The other thing worth mentioning is this Pokémon’s deep arsenal of support moves. Tailwind and Helping Hand are rarely seen on the same Pokémon and are both desirable options. Safeguard could come in handy depending on how much status moves come into play this season, and Taunt is always helpful on a fast mon. Finally, if this bird look like it’s in trouble, it can always get out of dodge with Baton Pass or U-Turn.

ribombeeRibombee: Bug | Fairy

Stats: 60/55/60/95/70/124

Possible abilities: Sweet Veil

Possible items: Focus Sash, Sitrus Berry, Life Orb, Choice Specs, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Skill Swap, Speed Swap, Moonblast, Pollen Puff, Bug Buzz, Dazzling Gleam, Quiver Dance, Roost, Safeguard, Leech Life, Psychic, Energy Ball

Ribombee is an interesting Pokémon, and a lot of people didn’t think much of it when first revealed. However, it has a blistering high speed stat, a decent special attack stat and the ever valuable fairy type. Factor in access to Skill and Speed Swap and an array of powerful attacks, and this bug proves it means business.

Speed Swap will probably be more disruptive than players expect. For example, imagine the following. First, Ribombee swaps its 124 speed onto an ally for something very low. Then, on the following turn, it swipes the speed of an opponent, returning to its former glory and slowing an opponent in the process. It’s a bit slow, but Ribombee will cause problems if its left alone (especially with its multiple recovery options).

Aside from swapping shenanigans, it also has access to a new and useful move in Pollen Puff. While it hits with a solid 90 base power when used on an opponent, using on it on an ally heals them. That means players can slap Choice Specs on this sucker without sacrificing much supportive utility. The only down side is that bug type attacks don’t hit much for super effective damage, but that’s a minor drawback in the long run. Access to Moonblast more than makes up for it. Don’t sleep on this cutie.

lycanroc-collageLycanroc (Midday/Midnight): Rock

Stats: 75/115/65/55/65/112 | 85/115/75/55/75/82

Possible abilities: Sand Rush | No Guard, Vital Spirit

Possible items: Choice Band, Life Orb, Lum Berry, Focus Sash, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Sucker Punch, Accelerock, Quick Guard, Rock Tomb, Rock Slide, Stone Edge, Taunt, Substitute, Snarl, Fire Fang, Thunder Fang, Crunch

It’s hard to imagine Lycanroc being all that useful in VGC 17. It has great attack and both forms, as well as great speed in Midday (Midnight’s not bad though), but it’s so frail everywhere else. On top of that, pure Rock typing has some crippling weaknesses. This thing is a glass cannon no matter how you look at it, and it will live or die on its ability to pick off Pokémon before getting dropped.

What tools does it have to do so? Well, both forms have access to STAB Rockslide and Sucker Punch. Other than that, though, the best coverage moves it has are Fire Fang, Thunder Fang and Crunch. Nothing that impressive. The Midday form does have access to a rock type priority move that could be useful for picking some Pokémon when speed isn’t on Lycanroc’s side, but its biggest target (Talonflame) got a huge nerf and probably won’t see as much play. The only other moves it has going for it are Snarl and Quick Guard for a bit of support. The former might have some promise as a way to weaken opponents before they can attack, but the latter is probably accomplished better with Tapu Lele.

As a final note, its abilities are ok. Sand Rush is great on Pokémon with middling to low speed, but Lycanroc hardly needs the extra boost unless its squaring off with a Choice Scarf user. The Midnight form, alternatively, has No Guard with very few moves to take advantage that fact unless you really can’t stand Rock Slide missing. Vital Spirit might also be an option if it was still VGC 16, but Smeargle got hit with major nerfs that has likely ended its nightmare reign.

wishiwashiWishiwashi: Water

Stats: 45/20/20/25/25/40 | 45/140/130/140/135/30

Possible abilities: Schooling

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Assault Vest, Choice Band, Choice Specs, Life Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Muddy Water, Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, Earthquake, Return, Scald, U-Turn, Substitute, Surf, Waterfall, Endeavor

Wishiwashi seems like it has so much potential at first glance. Its school-form stats approach almost legendary levels, aside from HP and speed. It’s also balanced on both the physical and special sides, which makes it a rather versatile attacker. On top of that, its water typing makes it weak to only a few other types and gives it access to powerful STAB attacks, such as Hydro Pump, Scald, Surf and Waterfall. On paper, this thing could be a monster.

The only problem is that Wishiwashi won’t stay in its school form forever. In fact, due to the nature of double battles, it probably won’t be too hard to focus this Pokémon down to its weak, lone fish-form. It’s also important to understand that Schooling only triggers at the start of each turn, meaning players can’t heal it above the transformation threshold and expect it to change right then. That can be a boon for its first turn on the field when it attracts a lot of attention, but it certainly means Wishiwashi will be easy to pick off on the following turn. The only benefit it gets from being in its weak form is that it can hopefully avoid attention long enough to sneak in an Endeavor.

Despite this Pokémon’s weaknesses, its stat line will ensure it sees some level of use. Players will likely just have to build their teams around Wishiwashi to make sure it gets the support needed to do its job. With that in mind, Wishiwashi seems like a late-game sweeper that players skilled at board positioning can use to close things out once in a favorable situation. Alternatively, some might want to slap a Z-Crystal on this thing, bust out a powerful move with base 140 attack/special stat and just let Wishiwashi go down.

toxapexToxapex: Water | Poioson

Stats: 50/63/152/53/142/35

Possible abilities: Merciless, Regenerator

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Shuca Berry, Rocky Helmet

Possible moves: Baneful Bunker, Wide Guard, Toxic, Venoshock, Recover, Liquidation, Safeguard, Sludge Bomb, Scald, Substitute

Meet new-Ferrothorn, everyone. It has a relatively different set of weakness and resistances than its pointy predecessor, but it does boast beefier defense stats in return for a bit of HP and attack. That’s ok, though, since this Pokémon functions a bit differently than Ferrothorn.

Both serve primarily as walls, but Toxapex uses the poison status instead of chipping away at opponents with Leech Seed and Iron Barbs damage. This has its ups and downs. Opponents can’t get rid of Toxic by switching out like they could with Leech Seed, but Toxapex doesn’t get any health back and the target can’t suffer any other statuses. Toxic does put opponents on a shorter timer, though, since the damage inflicted increases with every turn. Also, since Toxapex has access to Recover and Regenerator, its chances of sticking around are a lot greater.

Toxapex also has a new way of inflicting poison, thanks to Baneful Bunker, which will prevent a lot of opponents from trying to touch it. However, most sets will probably still need toxic as a more reliable method of spreading status.

Toxapex’s method of direct damage is also different than Ferrothorn. Instead of using its slow speed to smash things with Gyro Ball, Toxapex can use Merciless to get guaranteed critical hits on poisoned Pokémon. Combine that with a move like Venoshock and Toxapex will deal decent damage despite its low special attack stat. Plus, it can always Scald pesky steel types that are otherwise immune to poison.

The main problem for Toxapex are probably what will become the two most common Pokémon in the format, Tapu Lele and Tapu Koko. Both have almost no problem OKHOing Toxapex with the proper investment. Players that want to use this mon will absolutely need to deal with those pesky guardians before Toxapex can get to work.

mudsdaleMudsdale: Ground

Stats: 100/125/100/55/85/35

Possible abilities: Abilities: Own Tempo, Stamina, Inner Focus

Possible items: Assault Vest, Choice Band, Life Orb, Lum Berry, Leftovers

Possible moves: Close Combat, High Horsepower, Earthquake, Superpower, Rock Slide, Substitute

Mudsdale is a fairly straight forward Pokémon, in that it will almost always be used as an offensive pivot against Electric types. It will enjoy free switches and then start to kick everything in the face the following turn. A high attack stat and a number of powerful moves will help it accomplish this. A slow speed stat will mean it accomplishes this job better in Trick Room, but its bulky enough that speed control may not be an absolute necessity to get some damage off.

Mudsdale’s other benefit is its staying power on the physical side. With base 100 HP/defense and access to Stamina, Mudsdale can switch into weak hits, get a quick boost and be super tough to get rid of. Players can even try for combos pairing AV Mudsdale with Beat Up Whimsicott. Opponents are going to need some serious damage (or toxic) to get that thing off the field.

Another option is to take advantage of Own Tempo and go for constant Swaggers to get free +2 attack boosts. Swagger’s reduced accuracy can make that a gamble, though, and it is a lot of eggs to put in one basket. This isn’t Primal Groudon we’re talking about, after all. Still, over all, Mudsdale is a promising new ground type that will show up on plenty of teams.

araquanidAraquanid: Water | Bug

Stats: 68/70/92/50/132/42

Possible abilities: Water Bubble, Water Absorb

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Life Orb, Choice Specs, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Wide Guard, Spider Web, Leech Life, Lunge, Liquidation, Entrainment, Crunch, Safeguard, Scald, X-Scissor, Poison Jab, Substitute, Waterfall

Looking at Araquanid’s stat-line doesn’t inspire much confidence. Sure, its defenses are pretty great and its typing only leaves it weak to electric, rock and flying. However, its move-pool doesn’t really lend itself to a defensive set, with only moves such as Wide Guard and Spider Web coming in particularly useful. However, once you understand what its signature ability Water Bubble does, everything changes.

At first, players thought it only prevented burns and lowered the damage of fire type moves. That didn’t seem to matter much for Araquanid, but with some considered other mons who might appreciate getting the ability with Entrainment. However, once Sun and Moon came out, players realized that Water Bubble also doubles the base power of all water-type moves. This Pokémon only has 70 attack and 50 special attack, but doubling the damage from a Waterfall, Scald or Liquidation is going to make up for that fact. Plus, if Entrained on the right water type partner, it could be a very helpful ally.

Araquanid isn’t going to be super popular, but it will succeed in the hands of creative players (which is what a lot of Gen VII Pokémon are doing).

lurantisLurantis: Grass

Stats: 70/105/90/80/90/45

Possible abilities: Contrary

Possible items: Choice Band, Life Orb, Power Herb, Lum Berry, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: X-Scissor, Leaf Blade, Synthesis, Solar Blade, Poison Jab, Swords Dance, Substitute, Synthesis, Leaf Storm

Lurantis is an interesting Pokémon to consider for VGC 17. Grass type hasn’t always been the strongest type offensively or defensively, but the metagame could change that depending on what’s popular. Ground types, after all, will likely be very common with all Tapu Koko running around.

However, Lurantis is also very slow — though it shares that problem with many of its peers. It does get a respectable attack stat and decent defenses for an offensively inclined Pokémon, but its strongest move requires either a turn to charge, a specific (single use) item or the correct weather on the field. Synthesis provides recovery, but it may not have the bulk to justify that choice. It can also serve as a poor-man’s Serperior, firing off endless Leaf Storms with Contrary to boost its special attack, but that’s never been a very attractive option. Finally, Solar Blade’s high base power makes Lurantis a decent candidate for a powerful Z-attack, but no one has enough experience with Z-moves to say whether that is worth a whole team-slot.

The only certainty about Lurantis is that it’s starting the season in a strange spot, from a competitive standpoint. Perhaps partnering with Tapu Bulu and Grassy Terrain could be the boost it needs to make it good? Only time will tell.

shiinotic
Shiinotic: Grass | Fairy

Stats: 60/45/80/90/100/30

Possible abilities: Effect Spore, Rain Dish

Possible items: Leftovers, Sitrus Berry, Rocky Helmet, Mental Herb

Possible moves: Leech Seed, Moonlight, Spore, Confuse Ray, Strength Sap, Moonblast, Spotlight, Safeguard, Sludge Bomb, Energy Ball, Giga Drain, Thunder Wave, Substitute, Dazzling Gleam

Don’t be fooled — Shiinotic is not Amoonguss. They both have bulky builds, but this mushroom offers a different kind of trip for players. Rain Dish isn’t as good as Regenerator, meaning bulky sets will have a harder time staying on the field. Giga Drain, Leech Seed and the new move Strength Sap might be able to mitigate that, but that remains to be seen. Shiinotic also doesn’t quite have the same capacity for redirection, since Spotlight doesn’t seem to be the same as Rage Powder.

Shiinotic does have the all-important Spore, though, and access to Effect Spore (for random status fun!). Plus, what it lacks in Regenerator, it makes up for with Moonlight. Factor in Moonblast/Dazzling Gleam and this mon can actually hit a fair amount of types for super effective damage.

The point is, while this Pokémon is certainly a useful option, players won’t be able to use it like they used Amoonguss. Adaptation will be crucial to success.

Ssalazzlealazzle: Poison | Fire

Stats: 68/64/60/111/60/117

Possible abilities: Corrosion

Possible items: Focus Sash, Life Orb, Choice Scarf, Choice Specs, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Knock Off, Fake Out, Disable, Encore, Toxic, Nasty Plot, Venoshock, Flamethrower, Dragon Pulse, Taunt, Leech Life, Sludge Bomb, Fire Blast, Will-o-wisp, Substitute

Salazzle is Alola’s resident disruptor thanks to its diverse move-pool, and solid special attack/speed. Despite a 4x weakness to ground, its typing also lets 4x resist fairy and hit plenty of Pokémon for super effective damage with powerful moves. Its ability is also pretty neat in that it can poison steel types, but it would have been better if it also let poison attacks bypass the immunity. On top of that, it has a number of nasty utility moves, such as Knock Off, Fake Out, Disable, Encore and Will-o-wisp. Finally, thanks to it speed and access to a high base power move in Fire Blast, it might make a decent Z-Crystal user.

In the end, the biggest problem with running Salazzle will be having to pick between STAB moves and utility moves. A general frailty will also be a hurdle to overcome, but if Weavile can do it, so can Salazzle.

bewearBewear: Normal | Fighting

Stats: 120/125/80/55/60/60

Possible abilities: Fluffy

Possible items: Choice Band, Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Assault Vest, Lum Berry, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Ice Punch, Wide Guard, Hammer Arm, Superpower, Dragon Claw, Taunt, Earthquake, Double-edge, Return, Rock Tomb, Brutal Swing, Shadow Claw, Rock Slide, Substitute

Mega Lopunny (the only other VGC legal normal/fighting type) never caught on, but that doesn’t mean Bewear will face the same fate. It has fantastic HP and Attack, making it one of the best Double-Edge users in the absence of Mega Kangaskhan. Superpower is also an excellent STAB attack to have, and then there are all of Bewear’s coverage options. Even Wide Guard is a potential option, if no other attacks stand out after picking up the requisite STABs.

What may be Bewear’s most interesting tech, however, is the bulk it’s afforded from Fluffy. It functions similarly to Fur Coat, but only with moves that make physical contact. That limit is a bit of a bummer, but there are plenty of moves Bewear will enjoy eating up with an effective 160 defense. The only caveat, though, is that fire type moves deal double damage. That basically gives Bewear a weakness to fire that it wouldn’t otherwise have, and that’s a fairly common offensive type. Also, its special defense is rather pitiful, meaning flamethrower will be doing a fair chunk of damage.

Still, Bewear should be a very reliable beat stick that has considerable staying power once players get rid of special attackers. Plus, it’s so darn cute, and there are plenty of players who will use it for that reason alone.

tsareenaTsareena: Grass

Stats: 72/120/98/50/98/72

Possible abilities: Queenly Majesty

Possible items: Choice Band, Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Lum Berry, Sitrus Berry, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Grass Whistle, Synthesis, Play Rough, Trop Kick, High Jump Kick, U-turn, Substitute, Feint

Bow down to her majesty, for she isn’t messing around. Unlike its fellow pure grass type (Lurantis), Tsareena may be a popular pick in VGC 17. First off, it has better attack, defenses and speed, making it much more threatening for that reason alone. Lurantis does have STAB moves with a higher base power, but Trop Kick does come with the handy ability to lower the target’s attack. Plus, it gets better coverage moves in Play Rough and High Jump Kick, and it’s one of the few Feint users of the new generation. Also, if Gravity somehow remains as “a thing,” Grass Whistle is there as an option, too.

Aside from its damage output, Tsareena’s ability is what makes it shine. Unlike Tapu Lele’s Psychic Terrain, Queenly Majesty affects all Pokémon (aka, flying types/levitators) from using all kinds of priority moves. On top of that, it only affects opponents, meaning the user gets a huge advantage. Opponents also can’t negate the effect by switching in another Tapu, and will have to deal with Tsareena herself. The only fly in the ointment here is whether or not Queenly Majesty protects Tsareena’s partner. If it does, it’s amazing. If not, it’s just ok.

comfeyComfey: Fairy

Stats: 51/52/90/82/110/100

Possible abilities: Triage

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Mental Herb

Possible moves: After You, Helping Hand, Leech Seed, Synthesis, Floral Healing, Grassy Terrain, Taunt, Safeguard, Energy Ball, U-turn, Substitute, Trick Room, Dazzling Gleam, Calm Mind

Comfey is about as obvious of a support Pokémon as possible, if only because of its Triage ability. With it, Comfey can use moves with healing effects at +3 priority, almost guaranteeing that they’ll make a difference on the turn. Floral Healing and Synthesis are the best ways to take advantage of Triage, allowing Comfey or its partner to recover a large of chunk of HP before the rest of the turn begins. In the former’s case, if Grassy Terrain is up, Comfey’s partner will recover even more HP.

There is more to Comfey than priority healing, though. It can help its partner hit harder with a Helping Hand or change the speed of the game through After You and Trick Room. Comfey could even, conceivably, set up Calm Minds, recover off any damage and try to sweep with Dazzling Gleam (though there are probably better options for it).

Comfey is probably best paired with Pokémon that want to stick around as opposed to those that accomplish their goal and get off the field. Mudsdale and Stamina or Wishiwashi and Schooling are good examples of this, as both can snowball their way to victory if they stay healthy. What remains to be seen is whether players will want to focus down Comfey’s damage dealing partners to remove all sense of offensive pressure or if they’ll want to get Comfey off the field as soon as possible.

oranguruOranguru: Normal | Psychic

Stats: 90/60/80/90/110/60

Possible abilities: Inner Focus, Telepathy

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Mental Herb

Possible moves: Calm Mind, Psychic Terrain, After You, Taunt, Quash, Stored Power, Nasty Plot, Instruct, Foul Play, Psychic, Psyshock, Taunt, Safeguard, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball, Focus Blast, Energy Ball, Substitute, Trick Room

Instruct sent the VGC community into a frenzy when it was revealed in a Sun & Moon trailer, and for good reason. Being able to hit with the same move twice at full power is better than both Helping Hand and Parental Bond, even if it costs a Pokémon’s turn to do so. Once players realized that Oranguru would also likely have Trick Room, it quickly became a favorite for the upcoming metagame.

However, once its stats were revealed, people became just a bit less enthused. Most VGC players were used to Cresselia as their Trick Room setter, which has significantly more bulk. The concern is that players could simply double into Oranguru and batter it even has a chance to use the negative-priority move. It does, however, do one thing Cresselia couldn’t: ignore Fake Out. Players may not even have to run Inner Focus to discourage the move either, as some Kangaskhan players learned in the tail-end of VGC 16. Plus, Telepathy makes it a good partner for Pokémon wanting to use Earthquake or Surf (with Instruct access no less).

It isn’t anything special from an offensive standpoint, but it could probably manage a coverage move that could come in handy in the rare situations where it won’t be using Trick Room or Instruct.

passimianPassimian: Fighting

Stats: 100/120/90/40/60/80

Possible abilities: Receiver, Defiant

Possible items: Choice Band, Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Focus Sash, Lum Berry Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Quick guard, Iron Head, Feint, Close Combat, Taunt, Earthquake, Rock Tomb, Brutal Swing, Rock Slide, U-turn, Substitute

Passimian had the unfortunate burden of being announced alongside Oranguru. While many people saw some potential in this lemur’s new ability, Receiver, it just didn’t seem to compare. However, now that all the information is out there, things have changed. Passimian actually has great stats, with decent physical bulk and solid attack and speed. It also gets access to Defiant, which is always useful in formats like VGC where Intimidators run rampant. Pair that with powerful moves like Close Combat, a single Defiant boost could snowball the game in a player’s favor.

Passimian also gets access to a number of solid attacks that cover its weaknesses, such as Iron head, Brutal Swing and Rock Slide. With access to those moves, Passimian will be great at protecting itself from Fighting types’ common weaknesses. It also one of two Gen VII Pokémon with Feint, which always forces opponents to play with more risk. Quick Guard is another option for this mon, but it remains to be seen whether Passimian will want all his slots for attacks or not. Either way, expect this Pokémon to be a sleeper hit.

golisopodGolisopod: Bug | Water

Stats: 75/125/140/60/90/40

Possible abilities: Emergency Exit

Possible items: Choice Band, Life Orb, Assault Vest, Sitrus Berry, Lum Berry, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Wide Guard, Aqua Jet, First Impression, Swords Dance, Razor Shell, Sucker Punch, Liquidation, Bulk Up, Leech Life, Rock Slide, Substitute, Snarl, Waterfall

This Pokémon is as monstrous as it looks, and it will likely see a good amount of play in VGC 17. The reasons are many, but a good start is its powerful attack and fantastic bulk. With an Assault Vest, Golisopod will be extremely hard to bring down, especially with Emergency Exit keeping it out of the fight when things get dicey.

Emergency Exit will help Golisopod in dealing damage, too, thanks to one of its new attacks. First Impression hits with Fake Out levels of priority and 90 base power. When you add Golisopod’s 125 base attack and STAB, it’s going to hit like a ton of bricks. The only rub is that the move can only be used on Golisopod’s first turn on the field, but Emergency Exit almost guarantees at least two opportunities to use it, if not more.

That isn’t the extent of Golisopod’s powerful options, though. It also gets access to Leech Life, Liquidation, Sucker Punch, Rock Slide and Aqua Jet. Plus, it can use Swords Dance to boost its power to even more ridiculous levels. It gets Wide Guard, too, but why waste a slot on something that isn’t an attack?

palossandPalossand: Ghost | Ground

Stats: 85/75/110/100/75/35

Possible abilities: Water Compaction

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Assault Vest, Life Orb, Passho Berry, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Destiny Bond, Hypnosis, Shadow Ball, Earth Power, Shore Up, Psychic, Sludge Bomb, Energy Ball, Quash, Substitute

Ghost and Ground is an awesome typing in terms of what Palossand can switch-into and in terms of powerful STAB attacks. Its main problem is getting attacks off, but a respectable bulk and Trick Room will help with that. Palossand also has a good special attack stat, meaning Shadow Ball and Earth Power will still hit fairly hard despite this mon’s more defensive nature.

And speaking of defensive nature, Water Compaction helps with that by a great deal. While Palossand won’t be in the best shape ever after a special water type attack, its defenses would go sky high. Assault Vests and even a Passho Berry could help mitigate that threat, but Palossand also gets access to a new recovery move (Shore Up) that will help keep it on the field.

pyukumukuPyukumuku: Water

Stats: 55/60/130/30/130/5

Possible abilities: Innards Out

Possible items: Leftovers, Sitrus Berry

Possible moves: Moves: Helping Hand, Counter, Purify, Recover, Substitute, Quash

This thing is bad. Innards Out is cool in theory, but it’s probably only worth switching into something like a Z-Move that’s guaranteed to KO. Otherwise, players are limited to Toxic stalling, Helping Hand and Counter. Those are all options, but not any that justify taking up a valuable team slot. Just don’t do it.

silvallySilvally: Normal (all types)

Stats: 95/95/95/95/95/95

Possible abilities: RKS System

Possible items: Memories, Choice Scarf, Choice Band, Choice Specs, Life Orb

Possible moves: Multi-attack, Iron Head, X-Scissor, Crunch, Double-Edge, Tri-attack, Air Slash, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Return, Shadow Ball, Flamethrower, Shadow Claw, Swords Dance, Rock Slide, U-turn, Flash Cannon, Surf, Snarl

Mini-Arceus has all perfectly rounded stats, giving it the versatility of many mythic Pokémon. In addition to that, its RKS System lets it be any time, meaning it can fill many missing slots on a given team. For that reason, it could very easily become the MVP 6th mon that players turn to when they aren’t sure what the situation calls for. Multi-attack is also a powerful way for Silvally to take advantage of its many type possibilities.

The one drawback, though, is that the Memories that change Silvally’s type don’t offer any kind of boost. And unless players want to run normal type, that means it won’t have access to the many items that could help it hit harder. It does have a fairly diverse move-pool across the physical and special side, though the physical side is lacking in high base power outside of Double-Edge and Multi-attack.

Also worth noting, though perhaps not worth its own entry, is the possibility of using Silvally’s pre-evolution, Type: Null. With an Eviolite, it will have massive defenses. Could be worth trying out.

miniorMinior: Rock | Flying

Stats: 60/60/100/60/100/60 | 60/100/60/100/60/120

Possible abilities: Shields Down

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Assault Vest, Life Orb, White-Herb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Ancient Power, Power Gem, Shell Smash, Calm Mind, Earthquake, Psychic, Rock Slide, U-Turn, Substitute, Dazzling Gleam

An interesting Pokémon, the challenge facing Minior-users is how trigger its ability without falling too low on HP. It’s not super bulky before the core reveals itself, so players may be able to transform close to 50 percent HP and start hitting hard the following turn. The unique opportunity Minior presents, however, comes in tandem with its two set-up moves: Shell Smash and Calm Mind. If played correctly, Minior players can use the Pokémon’s natural bulk to set up a bit before getting another free boost in attacks and speed once Shields Down triggers.

That could help it snowball its way through opponents with powerful special attacks, of which it has many. Ancient Power and Power Gem are both good special STAB options, and both Dazzling Gleam and Psychic are good back up options. The physical side is slightly less alluring over all, but it does get a handful of choices in addition to some flying STAB.

Still, Minior is the kind of Pokémon that requires finesse and understanding to play, which makes it an unlikely option for the early metagame. However, with the right support and EV spread, someone may well make this quite the scary Pokémon to deal with.

komala
Komala: Normal

Stats: 65/115/65/75/95/65

Possible abilities: Comatose

Possible items: Choice Scarf, Choice Band, Life Orb, Assault Vest, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Play Rough, Sucker Punch, Wood Hammer, Earthquake, Return, Double-Edge, Shadow Claw, Rock Slide, U-turn, Substitute

If only Komala had an evolution and kept its ability. Since it doesn’t, this Pokémon just doesn’t quite get there. Even from a design standpoint, it’s baffling that its special attack stat is even at 75 considering it gets learns three special attacks, total.

Regardless, this is a straightforward kind of Pokémon. It can be used as a switch-in to status moves since its always asleep, and it will simply fire off powerful attacks once it’s on the field. It does have access to some diverse coverage, but it’s a normal type. STAB Double-Edge and Return isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything to write home about. As for the rest of the moves, they won’t hit as hard as anyone would like.

In the end, this is a cool Pokémon that just doesn’t seem to fulfill a role something else couldn’t handle better. People may use it because they like Koalas, but it probably won’t win any major events.

turtonatorTurtonator: Fire | Dragon

Stats: 60/78/135/91/85/36

Possible abilities: Shell Armor

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Assault Vest, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Wide Guard, Flamethrower, Shell Smash, Dragon Pulse, Shell Trap, Overheat, Fire Blast, Focus Blast, Flash Cannon, Substitute

Fire/Dragon is a very rare type, which has only ever been seen on Reshiram. It’s nice because it makes both Fairy and Ice type attacks deal neutral damage despite adding on a weakness for Ground and Rock types. Still, Turtonator has plenty of physical bulk to not sweat its weaknesses too much. Besides, this Pokémon’s best attack (Shell Trap) encourages it taking a hit in the first place.

The hard part with that, though, is that it’s a very obvious trap. Players can simply not make physical contact with Tortenator to avoid taking at STAB, base 150 special attack. It’s up to the play, then, to punish opponents for trying to play around this mon. The best options to do that with are its other powerful attacks, such as Fire Blast and Draco Meteor. Another good option, thanks to Turtonator’s good typing and relative bulk, is to run it with a Z-Crystal. With 91 special attack, hitting with a base 200 Z-move will make your opponent pay.

Overall, though, this is another cool mon that will probably be slept on despite its solid potential.

togedemaruTogedemaru: Electric | Steel

Stats: 65/98/63/40/73/96

Possible abilities: Abilities: Iron Barbs, Lightning Rod, Sturdy

Possible items: Focus Sash, Air Balloon, Choice Band, Choice Scarf, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Encore, Fake Out, Zing Zap, Electric Terrain, Spikey Shield, Thunder Wave, Volt Switch, U-Turn, Wild Charge

Togedemaru is a good case of a solid support-pool being ruined by mediocre stats and a vulnerable typing. Ground is super common, which means Togedemaru is going to be running scared every time the threat of Earthquake rears its ugly head. Fighting and Fire types are common, too, and Togedemaru doesn’t really have the bulk to handle a Fire Blast or Close Combat.

Still, if you can look past that, Togedemaru has a lot of good options. It’s rather fast, which means it can disrupt a lot like regular Raichu does with Encore and Fake Out. It also has Lightning Rod, like Raichu, which will be handy to have with Tapu Koko running around. Its other abilities, Iron Barbs and Sturdy, don’t really help quite as much, though. It doesn’t have the bulk to make Iron Barbs work, and Sturdy isn’t that useful for something with such limited attack options.

mimikyuMimikyu: Ghost | Fairy

Stats: 55/90/80/50/105/96

Possible abilities: Disguise

Possible items: Focus Sash, Mental Herb, Life Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Destiny Bond, Wood Hammer, Shadow Sneak, Shadow Claw, Play Rough, Pain Split, Leech life, Will-o-wisp, Swords Dance, Thunder Wave, Substitute, Trick Room

Mimikyu may dress up like Pikachu to get people to like it, but it probably has nothing to worry about. Thanks to its Disguise ability, which is essentially a free substitute, it will have ample time to do whatever it’s built for. For example, it can easily inflict poison, burns and paralysis without having to worry about retaliation. Alternatively, it can set up a couple of Swords Dances and just Shadow Sneak for the win.

It is also one of the few Pokémon from Gen VII with access to Trick Room, though its fast speed makes it a weird option in that regard. Still, Disguise makes it perhaps the most consistent setter since Fake Out and Taunt likely won’t be able to interfere. Regardless of what direction players take Mimikyu, though, it has a lot of potential.

bruxishBruxish: Water | Psychic

Stats: 68/105/70/70/70/92

Possible abilities: Dazzling, Strong Jaws

Possible items: Mental Herb, Focus Sash, Sitrus Berry, Life Orb, Choice Band, Choice Scarf

Possible moves: Ice Fang, Aqua Jet, Crunch, Aqua Tail, Disable, Psychic Fangs, Synchronoise, Taunt, Scald, Substitute, Trick Room, Waterfall

Bruxish is as weird a Pokémon as it looks. It doesn’t quite have the offensive power to be a real offensive threat and it doesn’t have the bulk for a supportive set. Still, Dazzling is useful for protecting Bruxish from moves such as Sucker Punch, Fake Out or First Impression, but it might not quite be good enough. Strong Jaw is an option for more offensive sets (and it has a new STAB bite move in Psychic Fangs), but it also may not be enough. Basically, it all boils down to Bruxish occupying this weird space between decent and useful. It might find a niche, though.

drampaDrampa: Normal | Dragon

Stats: 78/60/85/135/91/36

Possible abilities: Berserk, Sap Sipper, Cloud Nine

Possible items: Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Life Orb, Choice Specs, Assault Vest, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Hurricane, Glare, Extrasensory, Dragon Pulse, Hyper Voice, Calm Mind, Ice Beam, Hyper Beam, Roost, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball, Flamethrower, Fire Blast, Focus Blast, Energy Ball, Surf, Snarl, Draco Meteor, Substitute

The grandpa of Pokémon is a Pokémon to parse without any experience playing VGC 17. It has a powerful special attack stat and access to just about every good coverage move in the game. That can be it a flexible team member when needed, but a jack of all trades is a master of none. Draco Meteor is still a powerful move if players maneuver around Fairies properly, and STAB Hyper Voice might still be useful even if it doesn’t hit anything for super effective damage. Berserk will likely help, too, if Drampa has a way to get healthy after earning its boost. Also, with Intimidate and the proper support, a Calm Mind set might be a powerful option as well.

Speaking of abilities, Sap Sipper and Cloud Nine are both interesting — though only the latter may actually be useful. Of course, that all depends on whether weather has a presence in 2017. A few old Pokémon did get access to weather setting moves, meaning there is a possibility for a Pokémon that can clear the skies.

dhelmiseDhelmise: Ghost | Grass

Stats: 70/131/100/86/90/40

Possible abilities: Steelworker

Possible items: Choice Band, Life Orb, Assault Vest, Sitrus Berry, Leftovers, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Gyro Ball, Anchor Shot, Heavy Slam, Phantom Force, Power Whip, Earthquake, Brutal Swing, Shadow Claw, Rock Slide, Substitute

At least one Grass/Ghost Pokémon looks good. Dhelmise is slow, but it has good bulk and a high attack stat. Plus, it’s the only Pokémon that has, effectively, three STAB types (thanks to Steelworker). With that being the case, its slow speed actually becomes a boon when using Gyro Ball. Anchor Shot might be the better Steel attack, though, since there are so few trapping options in VGC 17. Plus, the proper set can OKHO physically frail fairies, such as Tapu Lele.

As for its other attacks, Phantom Force and Power Whip are the ones that stand out. Phantom Force is like a mini Shadow Force, meaning it can ignore one of the most useful and common moves in VGC: Protect. It also gives Dhelmise a turn of semi-invulnerability making it useful when trying to buy some extra time. Power Whip is also a good option, though its low accuracy might scare some away.

kommo-oKommo-o: Dragon | Fighting

Stats: 75/110/125/100/105/85

Possible abilities: Bulletproof, Soundproof, Overcoat

Possible items: Choice Scarf, Choice Band, Choice Specs, Life Orb, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Clanging Scales, Belly Drum, Dragon Claw, Outrage, Dragon Dance, Brick Break, Sky Uppercut, Brutal Swing, Rock Slide, Poison Jab, Substitute, Draco Meteor, Flash Cannon, Flamethrower, Earthquake

Pokémon that are 4x weak to Fairy type attacks haven’t exactly had the easiest time, but Kommo-o might still be useful. Fighting and Dragon are an otherwise good combo, and Kommo-o’s pseudo-legendary stat-line means it can handle as much punishment as it can dish out. It also has a new signature special attack in Clanging Scales, but its physical attack is far better. The only downside for a physical set is that Sky Uppercut is its most powerful Fighting type attack. 85 base power isn’t bad, but it’s nothing to write home about. Besides, if players want more damage out of Kommo-o, Dragon Dance and Belly Drum are an option.

The other wonderful thing about Kommo-o is that it has a trio of fantastic abilities (though Overcoat is certainly the worst of them). Soundproof may become more useful in formats where Sylveon has access to Hyper Voice, but it could still come in handy. Either way, all three abilities grant Kommo-o the ability to switch in a wide array of attacks. Clever players will be able to take advantage of that fact to great effect.

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