Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on one of the greatest utility Pokemon in all of Little Cup. Perhaps the most innocuous of toads at first glance, Croagunk is prepared to go on the offense and attack your team with such quickness that moves with neutral priority are all but a futile attempt to beat Croagunk to the punch. The coveted Fake Out + priority combination belongs to this hasty fighter, who it well. There are numerous Fighting-types in Little Cup, but the reigning king among them, Mienfoo, cannot beat Misdreavus, which Croagunk does with relative ease. It is a similar situation with many other top threats, as niche typing and a Water-type immunity thanks to Dry Skin make many a Pokemon unable to break Croagunk before they meet their demise. Although it has a quadruple weakness to the Psychic-type and a comparatively mediocre Speed stat, Croagunk remains one of the most useful, niche Pokemon that any team can carry.
Croagunk inarguably checks a large amount of the Pokemon that are common in Little Cup. Misdreavus, Lileep, Snover, Scraggy, Staryu, Chinchou, Shellder, Magnemite, Tirtouga, Omanyte, Scraggy, weakened Drilbur, weakened Sandshrew, weakened Murkrow, and more all fall victim to the venomous tactics that Croagunk uses. For this reason, Croagunk is often used as the "glue" to check numerous threats that no other Pokemon can all at once. Croagunk isn't a Pokemon that you should use for power; if you want to do that, try one of the many other Fighting-types, such as Scraggy or Mienfoo. Rather, unleash Croagunk if you have trouble with Shell Smash sweepers, or Chinchou, or Misdreavus, or one of the many other Pokemon that Croagunk checks.
Moving onto the given moves, let's start off with Fake Out. Fake Out is an excellent move on Croagunk, allowing it to revenge kill Pokemon that Vacuum Wave alone simply cannot (especially through Focus Sashes). It also moves before all other priority moves, which is useful when attempting to check Pokemon with priority of their own, such as Snover. Vacuum Wave pairs extraordinarily well with Fake Out, making for a great one-two combination that KOes most glass cannons. Vacuum Wave also has the STAB bonus, is super effective on Snover, and does not activate Ferroseed's Iron Barbs. Drain Punch is both more powerful than Vacuum Wave and hits off of Croagunk's more powerful offensive stat, healing Croagunk's HP with every use, ensuring that it will not die whilst checking the Pokemon that it is meant to check. Rounding out the moveset is Shadow Ball, achieving perfect coverage with Drain Punch and giving Croagunk a way to hit Misdreavus and other Ghost-types, as well as hitting other Croagunk neutrally. While it might seem to somewhat compromise Croagunk's niche, Knock Off can replace the only move that is not entirely necessary, Fake Out, to remove the Eviolites held by many Pokemon in Little Cup. The loss of effectiveness in revenge killing is quite noticeable, but the tradeoff may very well be worth it.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Unlike the standard Eviolite Croagunk set, this set aims to sweep late-game with the Attack and Defense boosts from Bulk Up. However, it can still act as a bulky pivot throughout the match due to Croagunk's unique typing, fantastic ability, and relative bulk with Eviolite. These traits allow Croagunk to set up on many common Pokemon in Little Cup, such as Staryu, Chinchou, Tirtouga, Lileep and Mienfoo, though it must be wary of Knock Off from the latter. One notable Pokemon this set can beat is Timburr, which would otherwise beat Croagunk by boosting with a Bulk Up of its own. This set can boost up alongside Timburr, allowing it to beat one of its would-be checks.
The moveset is fairly straightforward. Drain Punch is a reliable STAB move that also allows Croagunk to recover some damage, which is crucial to Croagunk's ability to switch in and out many times throughout the match. Sucker Punch provides it with a powerful priority move as well as near-perfect coverage. This allows it to beat faster threats such as Abra if its Focus Sash has been broken. Payback in the final moveslot gives Croagunk a more reliable coverage move. This allows it to beat variants of Misdreavus that use Substitute to bypass Sucker Punch, although it still must be wary of Will-O-Wisp variants.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Croagunk's movepool is actually quite wide, filled with a bunch of decent options. The first of these is Pursuit, which puts Misdreavus and Gastly in a checkmate position—however, it's no help against the dreaded Abra, and is a huge risk due to Croagunk's inability to tank powerful neutral attacks repeatedly. If you want a Dark-type attack, Sucker Punch is almost always the better option. A Poison-type STAB move, such as Gunk Shot or Poison Jab, might seem tempting; however, it offers zero additional coverage and must replace one of Croagunk's much-needed moves. There are a few other options for coverage, such as Earthquake, Fire Punch, and ThunderPunch, although none are useful for much. The former has redundant type coverage, while the latter two only net coverage on the Flying-types that outspeed Croagunk. A few supporting options inhabit Croagunk's quirky movepool, including Taunt to prevent Dwebble from setting up entry hazards and Misdreavus from burning with Will-O-Wisp and Rain Dance to support rain teams and activate Dry Skin.
There are a few other sets that Croagunk has up its tight little sleeve. First and foremost is a Nasty Plot set, with Sludge Bomb as the main STAB attack, Vacuum Wave as STAB priority, and Shadow Ball to fill all gaps in coverage. It can be used to great effect, as once Croagunk's Special Attack stat is boosted it is capable of plowing through its opposition. Yet another setup option is a mixed booster set utilizing Work Up, but the need to split investment between its offenses and having no room for defensive EVs destines it to utter failure. Last up among boosting moves is the always fun Acupressure, but the unreliability makes it unappetizing. There's one more set available for Croagunk, a Substitute + Focus Punch set for a more powerful STAB move, but it creates an unnecessary four moveslot syndrome and loses out on the heavily beneficial recovery provided by Drain Punch.
Checks and Counters
While Croagunk seems to be all bells and whistles with few flaws, its array of checks and counters is actually fairly diverse. Ironically, Croagunk cannot break past itself, so Croagunk versus Croagunk is basically a stalemate hinging on which one gets a critical hit with Shadow Ball first. Its quadruple Psychic weakness is easily exploitable; Abra can switch into Vacuum Wave and deal a hilarious 366% - 466% with Psychic; Misdreavus that carry Psychic work decently as well. Another weakness to exploit would be its Flying-type weakness; Murkrow is not 2HKOed by Fake Out + Vacuum Wave at full health, and can retaliate with a powerful Brave Bird. Archen does not appreciate taking a Vacuum Wave but can if it needs to and OHKOes with Acrobatics. Vullaby can OHKO with Brave Bird and Drifloon is immune to both Fake Out and Vacuum Wave, is faster, and OHKOes with Acrobatics. Furthermore, Croagunk has a Ground-type weakness, which can be exploited by a Pokemon that is a hard stop to it, Hippopotas, and Drilbur and Sandshrew that are not too weakened to take the combination of Fake Out + Vacuum Wave. Vacuum Wave will do quite a bit to Sandshrew, however, so it has to be in top condition to take on Croagunk. Continuing down an unfortunate trail of weaknesses for Croagunk, it is hit super effectively by Fire-type attacks due to Dry Skin. Larvesta can switch into pretty much any attack that Croagunk might carry and OHKO with STAB Flare Blitz and Houndour OHKOes with STAB Fire Blast, though its Fighting weakness prevents it from switching in easily. There's also Ponyta, who outspeeds by quite a bit, can take Fake Out + Vacuum Wave, and OHKOes with Flare Blitz. Snover is pretty difficult for Croagunk to switch into generally, but in no way can it stay in on Croagunk due to its Vacuum Wave weakness. Alternatively, you can take a defensive route and wall Croagunk with Bronzor or burn it with Misdreavus. Really, it's not that hard to check Croagunk, but it has a way of working around most of its checks, so play carefully, otherwise you might be dealing with a Croagunk ripping apart your team.