Ability: Aura Break
Useful Moves: Thousand Arrows, Extreme Speed, Dragon Dance, Outrage, Coil, Substitute, Dragon Tail
Zygarde @ Choice Band
Ability: Aura Break
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Thousand Arrows
– Extreme Speed
– Toxic / Iron Tail
Zygarde @ Leftovers
Ability: Aura Break
EVs: 188 HP / 140 Atk / 180 Spe
– Dragon Dance
– Thousand Arrows
– Protect / Extreme Speed
Why this is good: No Pokémon invalidates entire types quite like Zygarde. There’s a reason why it’s banned from Smogon’s official Monotype ladder. This mon has become one of the most prominent threats in Gen 7, largely thanks to the introduction of the move Thousand Arrows (the best move in the game). Having a strong ground move has always been beneficial if not necessary on any team. Having a strong ground move that hits flying type Pokémon and Pokémon with the ability levitate is an unbelievably powerful weapon. The choice band set function as a wall breaker that can punch holes in teams with no set-up required. A Dragon Dance set will function more as a sweeper that can quickly end almost any game. Zygarde’s great typing and bulk make it even harder to deal with. The fact that Trial Captains and Kahunas are limited to one type and the Elite 4 members are limited to two types will further limit their answers for this mon and make it an even stronger option throughout the event.
How to beat it: Zygarde’s 4x ice weakness is its most obvious flaw. A strong ice type attack will KO it easily but don’t expect HP ice from every mon to do the same. Moves that force it to switch out like Roar, Dragon Tail and Whirlwind can help deal with a Dragon Dance set. For a choice band set, having bulky Pokémon that resist Thousand Arrows is a necessity. The best example of this would be Tangrowth which, thanks to the ability regenerator can switch in, tank the hit and switch out to recover the health it lost. Tangrowth can also run HP ice to hit Zygarde hard. Knocking off the choice band and intimidating it can help reduce its damage output as well. A big part of beating Zygarde is figuring out what set its running. Once you do you have to plan accordingly. Remember that Trial Captains, Kahunas and Elite 4 members are locked into the same team for all of their battles, so if they’re using Zygarde it will be the same set for all of your potential matchups.
Ability: Thick Fat
Useful Moves: Giga Drain, Sludge Bomb, Synthesis, Hidden Power Fire
Earthquake, Leech Seed
Venusaur @ Venusaurite
Ability: Chlorophyll → Thick Fat
EVs: 248 HP / 88 Def / 156 SpD / 16 Spe
– Giga Drain
– Sludge Bomb
– Hidden Power Fire / Earthquake
Why this is good: Hold on a second, let me update that image.
There, that’s better.
If you haven’t already guessed it Mega Venusaur is the ultimate tank. Thanks to its ability thick fat it only has two weaknesses; flying and psychic. That gives Venusaur the ability to switch in on many Pokémon and then stay in and wear down opponents’ teams. With the current fairy heavy metagame that we have, a strong poison stab is very helpful. Giga Drain allows Venusaur to deal damage while also recovering health. Synthesis allows for reliable recovery and HP Fire or Earthquake can be used as a coverage move to hit Scizor or Heatran respectively. If played correctly, a good Venusaur team will eliminate Venusaur’s few answers and set Venusaur up as a late-game win condition.
How to beat it: Strong Flying and Psychic moves are the obvious way to beat Venusaur. Venusaur actualy is not quite as strong at this point in gen 7 as it was throughout gen 6. This is largely due to the high usage of offensive psychic types like Alakazam, Tapu Lele and Latios. Z-Moves have not helped Venusaur out either, as a super effective Z-Move or a strong neutral Z-Move, can clear it fairly easily after some chip damage. Certain Steel types will always wall Venusaur as well. Once you know whether it’s running Earthquake or HP Fire you can safely switch Scizor or Heatran in on it every time. While Venusaur does function as a strong rain counter, it’s important to mention that the recovery from Synthesis is limited when weather is present. This means Venusaur can be worn down more easily in this scenario.
Useful Moves: Acrobatics, Swords Dance, High Jump Kick, Drain Punch, Poison Jab, Stone Edge, Bulk Up, Roost
Hawlucha @ Electric Seed / Grassy Seed
EVs: 104 HP / 252 Atk / 152 Spe
– Swords Dance
– High Jump Kick
– Drain Punch/ Stone Edge/ Poison Jab
Hawlucha @ Psychic Seed / Misty Seed
EVs: 248 HP / 44 Def / 172 SpD / 44 Spe
– Drain Punch
– Bulk Up
Why this is good: Hawlucha’s base stats are not all that impressive at first glance. However, arguably no Pokémon has benefited more from the prominence of terrains and the introduction of their seeds in gen 7. Placing Hawlucha on a team with a Tapu and giving it the correct seed will boost one of its defenses and activate unburden, doubling its speed immediately when switching it in to the proper active terrain. Hawlucha can then set up with Swords Dance or Bulk Up and begin to sweep. Acrobatics and High Jump Kick provide it with incredibly strong stabs to blast through opposing Pokémon. Drain Punch can provide a form of recovery, helping it stick around longer, while Stone Edge and Poison Jab help it hit the likes of Zapdos and the Tapus super effectively. The Swords Dance set can help you sweep opponents quickly, which could be especially helpful on Saturday, when you will be trying to collect stamps and Z-Crystals quickly to qualify for the Elite 4 on Sunday. The Bulk-Up, Roost set will play a little slower and be more difficult to set up, but can be just as threatening as the Swords Dance set.
How to beat it: The biggest knock on Hawlucha is that it only has one opportunity to sweep in any given battle. This is due to the way that Unburden works. Unburden will activate when the seed that Hawlucha is holding is consumed upon switch in, but if it Hawlucha is forced to switch out it will not receive the speed increase even though it has no item when it eventually comes back in. This will render it far less threatening the next time it comes in. This can be achieved by forcing your opponent to bring it in early than they want with offensive pressure then forcing it out by switching in a counter, or by using Roar, Whirlwind, or Dragon Tail. The other big issue is that Hawlucha is dependent on having the correct terrain up when it switches in. This means that if you can eliminate the Tapu that it’s depending on to set the terrain or switch the terrains you can deny it the boosts it wants upon switch in. Finally, Hawlucha tends to struggle with the likes of Zapdos and bulky fairies like Tapu Fini and Magearna. These three can usually tank a hit, even after Hawlucha gets up a Swords Dance, and then KO it in return.
Ability: Flame Body
Useful Moves: Quiver Dance, Fire Blast, Fiery Dance, Substitute, Bug Buzz, Giga Drain, Roost, Hurricane
Volcarona @ Buginium Z / Psychium Z
Ability: Flame Body
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Quiver Dance
– Fire Blast
– Bug Buzz
– Psychic / Hidden Power Ground
Why this is good: Volcarona was already a very prominent sweeper before Gen 7, but the introduction of Z-Moves has made it even stronger. The Z-Moves give it the potential to blast through a Pokémon that it otherwise, may have been slowed down by and then it can continue to sweep. Quiver Dance boosts, its speed, special attack and special defense all at once, making it more prominent both offensively and defensively. Flame body has the potential to burn any Pokémon that may be attempting to take advantage of Volcarona’s low defense stat. It’s deep move pool also provides great coverage options so Volcarona can fit in well on any team and help it fit any trainer’s play style.
How to beat it: With a bug / fire typing Volcarona has a 4x rock weakness. This not only means that any physical rock move is going to KO it, but it will also lose 50% of its health when switching in on stealth rocks. Because of this, Volcarona is always paired with reliable hazard removal, but battles often come down to whether or not the opponent can get stealth rocks up and keep them up. Volcarona’s low defense stat makes it very susceptible to physical attacks as well. Even a strong neutral physical attack can chunk this bug for big damage. Be wary of attempting to use special attacking water types to beat. Your attacks will do less and less damage as it Quiver Dances up and if it carries Giga drain you could end up providing it with recovery as well.
While the individual Pokémon listed above are all very strong these groups of Pokémon working together can be even stronger. Both of these cores rely on field conditions to boost their already strong stab attacks and quickly dismantle opponent’s teams. These will be especially effective on Saturday when facing mono-type teams, as they have the potential to abuse the Kahunas’ and Trial Captains’ limited resources in terms of Pokémon that resist their strong stabs.
Why this is good: Mega Alakazam was already a very threatening Pokémon to face off with in gen 6. The introduction of Tapu Lele and Psychic Terrain has made it even scarier this generation. This does two things for the spoon man. First, it provides a boost to all of it’s Psychic type attacks. With a base 175 special attack stat this is a scary concept. The second thing it does is block priority. Alakazam is a frail Pokémon and used to be easily picked off by priority moves. Now, when attacking in Psychic terrain it this is no longer an issue. Tapu Lele is no slouch either. With base 130 special attack and the same terrain boost it’s able chunk opposing Pokémon as well. The variety of sets it can run can create a guessing game for opponents too.
How to beat it: The first answer that may come to your head are dark types. While dark types are immune to psychic type attacks, Tapu Lele has a stab bonus on Moon Blast and Alakazam has access to Dazzling Gleam so you have to play them carefully. Your best option is likely going to be to change the terrain. This will reduce the damage output from your opponent and give you the option of using priority moves against them. You may need to sacrifice Pokémon to reposition yourself in this matchup. Fast scarf Pokémon like Greninja can catch your opponent off guard and give an advantage against this core.
Why this is good: Rain is currently the strongest it has been since permanent weather existed from generations 3 to 5. This is largely due to two changes this generation. The first, is Pelipper gaining access to Drizzle. This paired with Pelliper’s great bulk allows to take on the role of a utility weather setter. U-turn allows it to pivot out to a rain abuser, Defog provides the team hazard control and Roost provides it reliable recovery so it can continue to pivot in and out. The other major change involves an altered game mechanic that Mega Swampert greatly benefits from. In gen 6 Mega Swampert would not gain the ability Swift Swim until the turn after it mega evolved. This meant that it wasn’t as threatening that first turn and in many cases opted to run Protect for that one turn. Now, Swampert gains the Swift Swim speed boost immediately, allowing trainers to more efficiently use rain turns and freeing up an extra move slot. Kingdra acts as a fantastic compliment to Swampert. While Swampert blasts through Pokémon with physical attacks, Kingdra hits them hard on the special side, often running Choice Specs, to maximize its damage output.
How to beat it: Now you may want to pay close attention to this section because this core will be featured on my Champion team and I’m going to tell you what gives it trouble. The short answer is pretty obvious and that’s bulky water resistances. Ferrothorn is one of the better ones as it threatens both Kingdra and Swampert and can sit there and stall out rain turns. Tangrowth and Toxapex are fantastic as well as they have access to regenerator which allows them to repeatedly switch in and sponge hits. One final Pokemon with a good matchup is Mantine. It’s access to Water Absorb and recovery with Roost allows it to freely switch in on powerful water attacks and stall out rain turns as well. The key to the matchup is managing your way through rain turns. Having a Pokémon with Protect or Fake Out can help you do this. Priority moves that help finish of the rain sweepers can be beneficial too. The final tip I have is to know when to sacrifice something. Due to the offensive nature of this core you may find that letting something go down is your best play at times to put yourself in a better position the next turn. With all this being said you may want to think twice about bringing too many rain counters against the Elite 4. They are going to be well prepared for them and they may turn into dead-weight in some of the matchups.