Dusknoir returns to the latest generation in an unfamiliar position. Originally one of the best spinblockers in the DPP era, Dusknoir faces stiff competition from newcomers such as Cofagrigus, Jellicent, Chandelure, and Golurk, each boasting an impressive ability, a secondary typing, or sometimes both. In addition, the introduction of Eviolite gave its pre-evolved form, Dusclops, a new lease of life, as Dusclops can better perform some of the duties Dusknoir can with a 50% boost to both its Defense and Special Defense.
Still, don't let that discourage you from using Dusknoir, as its defenses still rank high compared to most Ghost-types, especially with the absence of the Rotom appliances' Ghost typing. Though Dusclops can perform the same duties Dusknoir can, Dusknoir does have decent Attack, meaning it can cause damage while taking it, instead of relying on Night Shade or Seismic Toss. And unlike some of the newer Ghost-types, Dusknoir boasts a plethora of status and niche moves it can make use of with its defenses, such as Gravity, Will-O-Wisp, Grudge, Destiny Bond, Skill Swap, Memento, Trick Room, and Toxic. Dusknoir may have taken a hit this generation, but it still serves as a great spinblocker who can hit back.
The standard wall from last generation returns, granted, with a few bumps on the road. Despite this, Dusknoir serves as a good spinblocker, and with Will-O-Wisp around, most physical attackers will struggle to defeat Dusknoir after the burn. Though Leftovers is around, Pain Split is needed to recover health, especially with Dusknoir's pitiful HP. This can be beneficiary though, as it cuts Blissey's and Chansey's health in half while Dusknoir fully recovers, leaving the door open for stronger physical attackers to jump in and finish either one off.
The last two slots are reserved for taking on potential counters. Earthquake is necessary for two reasons this generation: Heatran and Chandelure. Both will enjoy absorbing Will-O-Wisp thanks to their ability and both will surely OHKO Dusknoir after the boost. Heatran is OHKOed by Earthquake whereas Chandelure gets 2HKOed. The last move slot is up for grabs; Fire Punch is useful against foes such as Skarmory, Forretress, and Ferrothorn whereas Shadow Sneak can pick off weakened foes. It should be noted, however, that a Chandelure weakened by Earthquake is subsequently KOed by Dusknoir's Shadow Sneak afterwards. In addition, Stealth Rock and maximum damage from Shadow Sneak can 2HKO Chandelure on the switch.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Many will scoff at the idea of SubPunching Dusknoir making an impact when the Iron Fist variant of Golurk can hit harder, but Dusknoir can still effectively pull off the set with some notable advantages. For one, Dusknoir is pure Ghost-type, limiting its weaknesses to two; Golurk will struggle in setting up due to its Grass-, Water-, Ghost-, and Dark-type weaknesses. Also, common Rapid Spin users such as Starmie are beaten by this Dusknoir thanks to priority Shadow Sneak. In addition, Dusknoir has access to the elemental punches, meaning it has broader coverage. Lastly, Dusknoir has priority in the form of Shadow Sneak, something devoid in Golurk's moveset.
Substitute should be used as soon as possible so Dusknoir can whack foes with Focus Punch, in addition to protecting from status. With Ghost- and Fighting-type attacks, everything is hit at least for neutral damage. The final moveslot is up for grabs with the choices of Ice Punch, Will-O-Wisp, and ThunderPunch. Ice Punch covers Gliscor, who takes very little damage from anything Dusknoir launches otherwise; Will-O-Wisp weakens physical attackers, helping Dusknoir's Substitutes survive longer; finally, ThunderPunch covers Gyarados and other bulky Water-types, in addition to granting coverage against Skarmory.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With Dusclops's improved defenses thanks to Eviolite, many people will scoff at the idea of using Dusknoir in a similar role. However, Dusknoir still has merit with Gravity; its base Attack is 30 points higher than Dusclops, making DynamicPunch, with an 83% accuracy thanks to Gravity, an almost surefire KO against enemy Tyranitar that do not invest in HP and / or Defense, something Dusclops wishes it could do. Shadow Sneak helps in picking off weakened foes that DynamicPunch nearly finishes off. It also forms the Ghost / Fighting duo that provides unresisted coverage. The last slot is reserved for Pain Split, which helps Dusknoir recover health as it keeps up Gravity for its fellow teammates.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
A Calm Mind set is not out of the question; a 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD EV Spread with a Bold nature and a moveset of Calm Mind, Pain Split, Shadow Ball, and Focus Blast / Hidden Power Fighting gives great all-round coverage. Of course, Spiritomb, Chandelure, and Cofagrigus make better use of Calm Mind due to their higher base Special Attack, but Dusknoir can effectively wall both physical and special attacks after a Calm Mind or two. The other notable advantage Dusknoir has is access to Ice Beam and Blizzard. Trick Room on a defensive Dusknoir is largely outclassed by Eviolite Dusclops, who can come in multiple times to set it up thanks to Eviolite. The only advantage Dusknoir has over Dusclops is healing through Leftovers. Offensive Dusknoir can make use of it, but the power output of such a set is lacking.
As mentioned earlier, Dusknoir has many supporting moves, such as Destiny Bond, Grudge, and Skill Swap. Destiny Bond can force switches if your opponent fears KOing Dusknoir which in the process takes out their own Pokemon. Grudge depletes the PP of an opponent's move if Dusknoir is knocked out; however, Dusknoir is very slow to fully utilize it and it also comes at the cost of Dusknoir's life. Finally, Skill Swap deserves some mention, in the fact that it can rob an opponent of an important ability, so long as it stays in.
Checks and Counters
Taunt has been the bane to most Dusknoir; shutting off the ability to use a status move or heal is a detriment to most walls, and Dusknoir is no exception. However, if one desires a more straightforward approach to eliminating Dusknoir, Conkeldurr is the primary candidate. Conkeldurr adores being burned, and Dusknoir can do very little back, especially after a Bulk Up. If Chandelure comes in on a predicted Will-O-Wisp, it will win outright against most sets. Beware of Earthquake though, especially if it comes from a rare Choice Band set, which will OHKO.
In terms of defensive Pokemon, Spiritomb tops the list, having nothing to fear from Dusknoir, bar a status move. Next, Blissey and Eviolite Chansey have no fear of Dusknoir's chosen status move and take minimal damage from most attacks, outside of Focus Punch. Finally, as a wall, Dusknoir greatly fears Toxic and Will-O-Wisp. The former increasingly damages Dusknoir turn after turn; the latter damages it consistently but also cuts its Attack. Meanwhile Dusknoir will struggle to keep up its health outside of the risky Rest, which makes it setup fodder for powerful sweepers.