Gen VII Pokémon Preview: Part 2

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 the VGC legal legendary Pokémon and a brief consideration of their potential. Keep an eye out for part three (which will cover viable Pokémon from previous generations), and don’t forget to check out part one (which covers breedable Gen VII Pokémon).

Index

tapu-kokoTapu Koko: Electric | Fairy

Stats: 70/115/85/95/75/130

Potential ability options: Electric Surge

Potential items: Choice Specs, Life Orb, Electric Seed, Z-Crystal

Potential moves: Electric Terrain, Brave Bird, Wild Charge, Discharge, Electro Ball, Nature’s Madness, Taunt, Thunderbolt, Volt Switch, Thunder Wave, U-turn, Dazzling Gleam, Substitute

The first guardian deity of Alola made a huge splash when announced, signaling to VGC players that terrains wars were the sequel to 2016’s weather. Players knew all it would take for this Pokémon to see widespread use was at least one solid attack stat and the right moves. Well, now that all its information is out there, fans basically got what they wanted.

Tapu Koko is one of the fastest Pokémon in the metagame, and that is certainly valuable in and of itself. It also gets two good attack stats, though many would prefer if their values were swapped. Still, thanks to the boost from Electric Terrain, access to Thunderbolt is about all Koko needs to wreck face. Still, what Tapu Koko sorely lacks is either Play Rough or Moonblast. Without either, its best STAB fairy move is Dazzling Gleam. That’s certainly a strong attack, but centerpiece Pokémon like this one wants as much power as possible.

There is currently one problem that all Tapu Koko players will need to prepare for, and that’s Alolan Marowak. With access to Lightning Rod, players will have a bad time having all of their powerful attacks negated. It also resists Dazzling Gleam, meaning players will have to find a way for Tapu Koko to ignore Marowak or bring something else to check it. One option for the former is Discharge, which will still hit the Pokémon next to Marowak. The only problem is Discharge hits the user’s partner as well, meaning it’s really only safe next to Ground types or other Alolan Marowak.

Still, this Pokémon will certainly see major usage during the 2017 season. Think of it like a modern-day Thundurus, only its calling card is damage instead of disruption. Or, in more simple terms, understand this: most teams will have at least one Tapu, and many will have Koko. Be prepared.

tapu-leleTapu Lele: Psychic | Fairy

Stats: 70/85/75/130/115/95

Potential ability options: Psychic Surge

Potential items: Choice Specs, Choice Scarf, Life Orb, Leftovers, Sitrus Berry, Psychic Seed, Adrenaline Orb, Z-Crystal

Potential moves: Psychic Terrain, Skill Swap, Psyshock, Nature’s Madness, Moonblast, Calm Mind, Thunderbolt, Psychic, Shadow Ball, Focus Blast, Energy Ball, Substitute, Dazzling Gleam

While many expected Tapu Koko to be the dominate guardian, many changed their tune once they learned the benefits of Psychic terrain. Safety from priority moves is amazing if your team is built to take advantage of it, and Lele even comes with Skill Swap to help keep her field on the board. Those reasons alone might have been enough to justify using this guardian, but Game Freak also gave it monstrous attacking power.

With its base 130 special attack and a boost from Psychic Terrain, Psychic 2HKOs even certain Pokémon that resist it. That’s crazy. Just about anything else is OKHO’d or borderline knocked out, making Tapu Lele an immediate threat every time it hits the field. Using Dark types as a safe switch isn’t even that safe since Lele gets access to Moonblast. Thanks to that, players are better off using bulky Steel types to try and check this thing. It’s either that or out-speeding and hitting hard on the physical side.

The only downside of this Pokémon is that it doesn’t get access to Trick Room, disappointing many. Still, with base 95 speed, it probably doesn’t want to go slow anyway. Tapu Lele seems much happier destroying everything that gets in its way. As far as items go, Life Orb or Choice Scarf seems best for offense and Psychic Seed seems good for bulky sets. Either way, whenever a player drops this thing on the field, its opponent will need an answer, fast.

tapu-buluTapu Bulu: Grass | Fairy

Stats: 70/130/115/85/95/75

Possible abilities: Grassy Surge

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

Possible moves: Grassy Terrain, Wood Hammer, Superpower, Disable, Leech Seed, Nature’s Madness, Zen Headbutt, Megahorn, Rock Slide, Smart Strike, Substitute

Remember how we just talked about all the havoc Tapu Lele wreaks on the special attacking side? Well, Tapu Bulu does the same on the physical side. This thing has a monstrous attack stat that is still decent after a single intimidate. Factor in Bulu’s grass type boost from its terrain and almost nothing is living a pair of Wood Hammers. In fact, intimidate is probably the only reason Bulu isn’t too busted for STAB move with base 120 power.

The other wonderful thing about Bulu is that the recoil from Wood Hammer is slightly mitigated by Grassy Terrain’s secondary effect: healing 1/16th of its HP a turn. The fact that it also heals opponents is a slight bummer, but don’t forget how much damage Tapu Bulu does. 1/16th won’t matter when Bulu swings for well over 50 percent almost every time. Plus, by giving this guardian Leftovers to hold, it can make the recoil damage even less of a factor. Alternatively, Life Orb’s recoil is offset by Grassy Terrain’s healing if players want even more power (though that seems a bit excessive).

Despite what the above may imply, Bulu also gets access to other good moves that aren’t Wood Hammer. Smart Strike stands out as a counter to Fairies and Minimize users, and Rock Slide seems good to cover Bulu’s Flying and Fire type weaknesses. Superpower is also an option for Steel types, and both Leech Seed and Horn Leech offer even more recovery options.

Basically, with the right support, Bulu can be just as much a monster as Koko and Lele.

tapu-finiTapu Fini: Water | Fairy

Stats: 70/75/115/95/130/85

Possible abilities: Misty Surge

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

Possible moves: Misty Terrain, Moonblast, Heal Pulse, Nature’s Madness, Ice Beam, Shadow Ball, Scald, Swagger, Substitute, Dazzling Gleam

Poor Tapu Fini. While everyone has been rapturously excited about its fellow guardians, few players seem particularly hyped about Tapu Fini. It’s not that Fini is bad, because it has a solid typing and fantastic defenses. It’s just that, in comparison to the other Tapus, it doesn’t make as much of an impact on the field. Based on its stats, signature terrain and move-pool, Tapu Fini is a far better supporter than it is a beat stick.

Still, it does seem like a pretty fantastic supporter. Misty Terrain protects Pokémon from status moves, which means gutsy players can go for self-Swagger shenanigans. It also gets Heal Pulse to keep its partners healthy, and it may be the only Tapu that could reasonably run Nature’s Madness. Alternatively, if players want to try and go for a bulky attacker, Tapu Fini does get access to some great moves in Moonblast, Ice Beam, Shadow Ball and Scald (though making opponents immune to burn kind of sucks).

The other main problem with Tapu Fini is that her brothers, Koko and Bulu, both blow her half to hell with their terrains up. And, since most teams will have at least one Tapu, the odds for running into a hard counter are rather high. Skilled players will be able to help it shine with the proper lineup, but Tapu Fini isn’t a Pokémon everyone will use.

nihilegoNihilego: Rock | Poison

Stats: 109/53/47/127/131/103

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

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

Possible moves: Power Gem, Mirror Coat, Psyshock, Thunderbolt, Psychic, Sludge Bomb, Dazzling Gleam, Trick Room, Substitute

Nihilego is one of a kind as the only Rock/Poison type in the game. It’s an interesting combination, but it does result in a pretty crippling 4x weakness to Ground. Factor in its pitiful base 47 defense and Earthquake guarantees this Pokémon will only ever be a glass-canon. However, if players can take out or redirect all of an opponent’s physical attackers, Nihilego’s substantial special bulk might come in handy.

Still, the original Ultra Beast is probably best used as a special attacker instead of a special wall. It has access to solid STAB moves in Power Gem and Sludge Bomb, and it has some good coverage in Thunderbolt, Psychic and Dazzling Gleam. It’ll even hit fairly hard with base 127 special attack, and a single Beast Boost will have it hitting harder. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to have a clear role in VGC 17. Nihilego might be a niche pick on some teams, but it doesn’t seem to do anything that another Pokémon can’t do better. Its only saving grace is if the meta-game evolves to the point where Rock and Poison attackers are extremely valuable.

buzzwoleBuzzwole: Bug | Fighting

Stats: 107/139/139/53/53/79

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

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

Possible moves: Ice Punch, Power-Up Punch, Leech Life, Hammer Arm, Superpower, Lunge, Roost, Earthquake, Rock Slide, Poison Jab, Substitute

Anchor arms much, Buzzwole? This jerk of a Pokémon is intimidating thanks to its fantastic attack and defense, but don’t be too scared. While taking a hit from it won’t be fun, most players should be able to outspeed and KO with various special attacks that can deflate this thing in an instant. Psychic, Flamethrower and Moonblast should be perfectly sufficient, but an Air Slash or Hurricane from almost anything is a guaranteed OKHO. Focus Sash and Ice Punch might make for some decent retaliation against Flying types, but that item seems a bit of a waste since Buzzwole’s physical defense is so high.

All that being said, if players can properly protect it, Buzzwole will put in a lot of work. Leech Life gives it access to plenty of recovery thanks to its high damage output, and both Hammer Arm and Superpower will do massive damage (though at the cost of some valuable stats). Also, as is the case with every Ultra Beast, getting a single KO might be enough to snowball your way to an easy victory. And, since that is the case, a Z-Crystal might be an easy way to ensure that KO comes early enough to make a difference.

pheromosaPheromosa: Bug | Fighting

Stats: 71/137/37/137/37/151

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

Possible items: Focus Sash, Z-Crystal

Possible moves: Quiver Dance, Quick Guard, Feint, Lunge, High Jump Kick, Speed Swap, Taunt, Bug Buzz, Ice Beam, Me First, Roost, Focus Blast, Poison Jab, U-turn, Substitute

No Pokémon has ever wanted a Focus Sash this badly since Deoxys Attack. Seriously though, a light breeze will blow this thing over with only 71 base HP and 37 in both defenses. Other than its frailty, there isn’t a whole lot that makes this Pokémon’s offensive potential different than Buzzwole’s. Here are the few differences that do exist.

For one, it can be a special attacker with Bug Buzz and Focus Blast instead of a physical attacker, and it also has access to slightly different physical attacking moves. It also has a few support options that make it trickier than its swollen mosquito counterpart. Quick Guard and Speed Swap could both be viable third moves depending on rest of the team’s needs, and Feint is always handy. Still, these few moves don’t make Pheromosa any more appealing. At best, it’s likely to pick up a single knock out before going down itself.

xurkitreeXurkitree: Electric

Stats: 83/89/71/173/71/83

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

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

Possible moves: Tail Glow, Thunder Wave, Thunderbolt, Signal Beam, Discharge, Energy Ball, Volt Switch, Dazzling Gleam, Substitute

A lot of players lost it when they saw this Pokémon’s obscene special attack stat. After all, this thing almost reaches Primal Kyogre levels of damage output. Then players remembered that there was an excellent Electric Terrain setter running all over VGC 17 and that Beast Boost could help Xurkitree OHKO just about anything that isn’t a ground type. Then the overreacting happened.

As one can imagine, the above does make this an excellent candidate for one of the best Ultra Beasts. However, it’s not as over powered as many players seem to think. For one, while it does get access to Tail Glow, that seems more like overkill than actual utility, giving opponents an extra opportunity to knock Xurkitree out before it can do damage. Second, it’s very obvious what this Pokémon will do once it hits the field. That makes it much easier to play around. Third, most teams will have a Lightning Rod user or a Ground type, if not both. There are plenty of ways to shut Xurkitree down or force it to use its narrow array of coverage moves.

All in all, expect to see Xurkitree on teams throughout the season. Just don’t expect it to be the new Xerneas.

celesteelaCelesteela: Steel | Flying

Stats: 97/101/103/107/101/61

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

Possible items: Leftovers

Possible moves: Wide Guard, Leech Seed, Iron Head, Giga Drain, Flash Cannon, Air Slash, Seed Bomb, Heavy Slam, Earthquake, Flamethrower, Fire Blast, Energy Ball, Smart Strike, Rock Slide, Gyro Ball, Substitute, Flash Cannon

Now, if you’re looking for a Pokémon that could centralize the metagame, look no further than this beauty. With what may be the best defensive typing in the game, well distributed bulk and access to Leech Seed recovery, Celesteela is a huge pain to get rid of. Players immediately noticed that it also fits on virtually any team, and its early-meta usage reflects that. This thing is so common that any VGC 17 team already needs a reliable counter, lest Celesteela whittle them away with Leech Seed.

Despite having a more defensive build, Celesteela does have access to a wide variety of physical and special attacks. Most players are simply opting for Heavy Slam, though, since Celesteela is the heaviest Pokémon there is. As a result, this Ultra Beast can OKHO basically every Tapu aside from Fini with the right build, and most other Fairies won’t fare much better. Some players have decided to run Flamethrower as a secondary attack, though, to help in the Celesteela mirror. That will be a thing this year, by the way — especially with the new chess timer. Pray that no major events end in a Celesteela stall war.

kartanaKartana: Grass | Steel

Stats: 59/181/131/59/31/109

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

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

Possible moves: Sacred Sword, Night Slash, Leaf Blade, X-Scissor, Psycho-Cut, Smart Strike, Substitute

Kartana’s biggest problem is it doesn’t get any moves with exceptionally high base power. That was likely quite intentional, as its base 181 attack would have been busted with something like Wood Hammer. Still, This Pokémon will manage to OKHO most Pokémon its meant to check, such as bulky Water and Fairy types. The third move will likely be a coverage attack, but substitute is an option if players can set one up for free. Getting a Beast Boost from behind a sub makes winning any given match much easier.

This Ultra Beast’s other drawback is its pitiful special defense and HP, which means almost anything can take care of Kartana with a neutral special attack. Still, much like Pheromosa, it should be able to pick up at least one knock-out before fainting. The difference here, though, is that it isn’t anywhere near as fast. As a result, Choice Scarf could be a common item to ensure its ability to attack before going down.

guzzlordGuzzlord: Dark | Dragon

Stats: 223/101/53/97/53/43

Possible abilities: Beast Boost

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

Possible moves: Wide Guard, Brutal Swing, Crunch, Hammer Arm, Heavy Slam, Dragon Claw, Earthquake, Flamethrower, Sludge Bomb, Fire Blast, Rock Slide, Gyro Ball, Poison Jab, Snarl, Dark Pulse, Draco Meteor, Substitute, Rest, Sleep Talk

It’s ya boy, Guzzlord, here to eat up hits like they’re nothing. That is, unless, those hits are Fairy type. In that case, Guzzlord is going to eat dirt. And, while on the subject, it isn’t crazy about 2x effective attacks either. Neutral and resisted attacks though — those are Guzzlord’s favorite. With base 223 HP, it’s able to take minimal damage from most non-super effective attacks no problem. Slap some recovery on it, use Protect plenty and Guzzlord will end up ignoring much of the damage it takes. It might even have enough HP to make it one of the few viable Chesto-Resto/Rest-Talk users. However, because Fairy types are so common, this Ultra Beast will want a fast, strong Steel or Poison type partner.

Offensively, Guzzlord has plenty of options, too. Hydreigon has already demonstrated the potent offensive prowess that Dark/Dragons have, and it doesn’t even get a free stat boost for every knock out. With that in mind, Guzzlord will probably work best on clean-up crew. By mopping up whatever Pokémon its partners have weakened, it will earn enough boosts to start taking care of things on its own. Draco Meteor is a fantastic nuke against almost anything, and its ability even helps offset the damage drops. Otherwise, STAB Dark Pulse is a good standby. For more supportive sets, though, it can opt for Snarl and recovery to make a Pokémon that could rival Celesteela’s staying power. That is, of course, if all the Fairies are gone first. That fact cannot be stressed enough.

Do not let this thing fight a Fairy.

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