Gyarados

Intimidate
Lowers the foe's Attack one stage. Decreases wild encounter rate.
Moxie
Boosts Attack by one stage if the wielder knocks out another Pokemon.
Type Tier
Water / Flying OU
Level 100 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Min- Min Max Max+
HP
95
- 331 394 -
Atk
125
257 286 349 383
Def
79
174 194 257 282
SpA
60
140 156 219 240
SpD
100
212 236 299 328
Spe
81
178 198 261 287

Overview

Gyarados is easily one of the most threatening sweepers in the OU tier. While it hasn't changed much from DPP, nothing needed to be changed; Gyarados is still a monster. It has two STABs with great coverage and above-average stats across the board, in addition to two stellar abilities in Intimidate and Moxie. Gyarados is most commonly seen sporting a bulky Dragon Dance sweeper set, allowing it to set up on and tear apart many Pokemon. On the flip side, Gyarados can also run a more defensive RestTalk set aiming to utilize Gyarados's numerous resistances and the immense physical bulk granted by Intimidate. Gyarados can even utilize rain perfectly with its terrifying double-STAB Waterfalls. Unfortunately, the popularity of Electric-type attackers in general makes Gyarados's life difficult. Additionally, Gyarados has rather lackluster initial Speed, meaning it can be forced out easily, a problem that is compounded by its Stealth Rock weakness. Gyarados can also still be outsped and OHKOed by many Choice Scarf users after a Dragon Dance. However, physical Water-type attackers are a rare commodity, in OU at least, making Gyarados a tough competitor in today's metagame.

Name Item Nature

Bulky Dragon Dance

Leftovers Jolly
Moveset EVs
~ Substitute / Taunt
~ Dragon Dance
~ Waterfall
~ Bounce
88 HP / 248 Atk / 4 Def / 168 Spe

This is Gyarados's bread-and-butter set this generation, being able to set up on a multitude of Pokemon. Dragon Dance is just an amazing move for Gyarados, boosting its Attack to unbelievably high levels and patching up its underwhelming Speed. Gyarados's many useful resistances give it plenty of opportunities to set up, as does Intimidate, which allows it to take various neutral attacks such as Ice Shard, Icicle Crash, and Crunch. On top of this, Substitute enables Gyarados to avoid status, revenge killers, and Volt Switches. In a metagame full of those three things, Substitute makes it much less of a burden to set up. All walls that don't carry phazing moves are going to be in trouble against Gyarados, and as long as its Substitute is up, revenge killers such as Terrakion will be unable to finish it off without falling to Waterfall.

The other, less common variant of this set runs Taunt, which is geared specifically toward walls. Taunt renders walls unable to phaze, recover health, use a status move, or Perish Song. It is essential if you wish to beat Skarmory or Hippowdon with Gyarados, as both can take a +1 Waterfall and phaze Gyarados out. Additionally, it allows Gyarados to beat Perish Song Celebi paired with a Steel-type to take a Bounce, one of the most common cores used to handle Gyarados. As for the attacking moves, Gyarados's STABs generally provide enough coverage. Waterfall, especially with a rain boost, can put heavy dents in any Pokemon unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of it. Bounce has nice coverage with Waterfall, most notably hitting bulky Water-types, and ensures Gyarados's Substitute isn't broken while it attacks, only faltering against Thunder in rain while Gyarados is in the air.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Ability Nature

Offensive Dragon Dance

Life Orb / Lum Berry Moxie Adamant / Jolly
Moveset EVs
~ Dragon Dance
~ Waterfall
~ Bounce
~ Stone Edge / Earthquake
252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe

This Gyarados tosses aside easier setup for greatly increased offensive potential. After just one Dragon Dance, Gyarados can outspeed pretty much the entire unboosted OU tier and becomes nigh-impossible to wall. It has no trouble punching massive holes early- to mid-game, softening up the opponent's team to the point where another Pokemon can sweep. Furthermore, when you factor in the sheer power of this set, it needs much less support than other sets. You won't have any issue getting Gyarados in, either, due to the prevalence of Fighting moves in the metagame.

Naturally, Waterfall is the main move, ripping apart pretty much every Pokemon in the tier with rain and Dragon Dance boosts. Bounce is of course Gyarados's other STAB move, hitting Grass-types that resist Waterfall—such as Celebi—hard, as well as dealing heavy damage to all common Dragon-types. Without having to mess with a non-attacking move to set up, Gyarados also has room for a coverage move. Stone Edge hits Kyurem-B, Rotom-W, and Dragonite for heavy damage, while Earthquake hits Magnezone, Tentacruel, Toxicroak, Jirachi, and Heatran, which is especially useful in sun.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Ability Nature

Choice Scarf

Choice Scarf Moxie Adamant
Moveset EVs
~ Waterfall
~ Ice Fang
~ Stone Edge
~ Earthquake
252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe

While Gyarados is no doubt a deadly sweeper, it can also function as an effective revenge killer. With a Choice Scarf attached, Gyarados can outrun many notable threats, just barely outpacing +1 Adamant Dragonite and having enough bulk to tank boosted priority moves, such as Breloom's Mach Punch. Even better, thanks to Moxie, Gyarados can function as a late-game cleaner à la Choice Scarf Salamence. Rain-boosted Waterfall and Moxie are Gyarados's main advantages over other Choice Scarf users. The other moves are for rather specific targets. Ice Fang is the best move Gyarados has to hit Dragon-types, such as Dragonite, Salamence, Latias, and Latios. Stone Edge hits Volcarona and Kyurem-B hard; it is necessary for the former under sun and doesn't carry the risk of activating Flame Body. Finally, Earthquake does solid damage to Tentacruel and Toxicroak.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Ability Nature

RestTalk

Leftovers Intimidate Impish
Moveset EVs
~ Rest
~ Sleep Talk
~ Waterfall
~ Roar / Dragon Tail
248 HP / 252 Def / 8 SpD

Although it is an effective attacker, Gyarados can also perform well with a defensive set. With solid bulk, a great typing, and Intimidate, Gyarados has all the tools it needs to be a good bulky Water-type. However, Gyarados is a bit different from your usual bulky Water-type, as it doesn't have reliable recovery. On the bright side, resistances to Fighting, Bug, and Steel, as well as an immunity to Ground make Gyarados a stellar pivot. Consequentially, Gyarados is also a perfect counter to Scizor, Mamoswine, and Volcarona outside of sun. In order to be healthy enough to deal with these threats, Gyarados unfortunately must rely on RestTalk, which is a rather shaky combination, especially with this generation's sleep mechanics. On the other hand, it does make Gyarados much more sturdy. Just be sure to avoid resting while foes such as Jolteon are still alive, as Gyarados hates being forced out while asleep. Waterfall provides Gyarados with a reliable attacking move. The last slot gives Gyarados a phazing move, which helps against setup sweepers and allows Gyarados to spread entry hazard damage. Roar is 100% accurate and can hit through Substitute, while Dragon Tail isn't affected by Taunt and can hit Magic Bounce users, which is helpful for teams that struggle against Baton Pass chains.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Ability Nature

Choice Band

Choice Band Intimidate Adamant
Moveset EVs
~ Waterfall / Aqua Tail
~ Double-Edge
~ Ice Fang / Stone Edge
~ Earthquake
88 HP / 252 Atk / 168 Spe

This set sacrifices the ability to sweep for raw power right off the bat. With a Choice Band and Intimidate, Gyarados makes for an amazing offensive pivot. This is no surprise combined with Gyarados's Fighting and Water resistances and Ground immunity. Most importantly, Gyarados can switch into threats such as Volcarona and Mamoswine. Once it is in, Gyarados can hit the foe with a powerful attack. It plays as a sort of hit-and-run, all-purpose attacker; the best term here is "hard-hitting tank." Gyarados's rain-boosted Waterfalls strike fear in the hearts of its opponents. Boasting a fairly high flinch rate and perfect accuracy, Waterfall is almost always the superior move choice. However, Aqua Tail allows Gyarados to OHKO certain foes, such as defensive Landorus-T and Choice Scarf Jirachi. Double-Edge is mainly used to hit a lured-in Rotom-W, though no bulky Water-type other than Jellicent appreciates being hit by it. Ice Fang is preferred in the third slot to hit Grass-types such as Celebi and Breloom, being the only move on this set that can OHKO the latter; it also hits Dragon-types hard. Stone Edge, on the other hand, does a boatload of damage to Kyurem-B and opposing Gyarados. Finally, Earthquake deals heavy damage to Jirachi, Ninetales, Tentacruel, and Toxicroak.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>

Other Options

Gyarados really doesn't have any other options worth considering. Aqua Tail could be used over Waterfall on Dragon Dance sets for a bit of extra power, but its lower accuracy makes it usually not worth it. Fire Blast could potentially see use as a means for Gyarados to bypass opposing Steel-types on sun teams. While Scald might seem tempting for a bulky set, its lack of power and reliance on the burn chance makes it a gimmicky option. Flail wants Gyarados to be at low HP to be of any use, which isn't very ideal. Wacan Berry could be worth a shot, but Gyarados still dies to most Electric-type moves anyway. Bounce and Outrage might be worth a look on Choice sets, but they have detrimental lock-in effects that make them not worth your while.

Checks and Counters

Countering Gyarados is a unique challenge due to a combination of Waterfall's flinch rate, permanent rain being common, and the looming threat of a Moxie Attack boost. Because of this, unlike most sweepers, it's not a reliable strategy to sacrifice a Pokemon to check Gyarados later. Despite this, Gyarados has quite a few counters. The foremost of these is Ferrothorn, who can take pretty much any attack and break Gyarados's Substitutes with Power Whip. Additionally, it can set up Stealth Rock, which makes Gyarados's life miserable. Skarmory is also difficult to break through and can phaze out Gyarados, negating any boosts it has obtained. Rotom-W is also a good response, especially if it carries Thunderbolt. Gyarados really can't hit Rotom-W hard at all outside of a Choice Band-boosted Double-Edge. Opposing defensive variants of Gyarados also fare well, as they can phaze your Gyarados out. Kyurem-B is another solid counter, boasting the ability to take any hit, even Stone Edge in a pinch (and bypass Bounce with Substitute) and OHKO with Fusion Bolt in return. Finally, Porygon2 can shake off everything Gyarados can throw at it, possibly even Intimidate Gyarados with Trace, and OHKO back with a Thunderbolt.

Any Pokemon that can outspeed Gyarados after a Dragon Dance is a pretty good check. These Pokemon include Choice Scarf Terrakion and Choice Scarf Thundurus-T. Jolteon can only outspeed non-Jolly Gyarados variants that are at +1, but it is still usable. While Thundurus-T and Jolteon resist Bounce, none of them can safely switch in out of fear of Waterfall. Pokemon that resist or are immune to Water, such as Gastrodon, Starmie, Cloyster, Celebi, and Toxicroak, are also good checks. None of them, especially Celebi and Toxicroak, particularly enjoy taking a Bounce, however. For this reason, combine them with a Pokemon that resists Flying to take the hit. Perish Song Celebi is particularly effective when paired with such partners. Toxicroak is only useful against the Substitute + Dragon Dance variant, and only if it runs Substitute itself. Also, Gyarados is not a fan of residual damage. Offensive sets are limited in their ability to switch in due to Gyarados's weakness to Stealth Rock, while defensive sets have a harder time walling certain threats after taking Stealth Rock damage. Sandstorm, Toxic, and Leech Seed also take their toll on Gyarados, wearing it down or removing its Leftovers recovery. If all else fails, a surprise Electric-type move, such as ThunderPunch on Jirachi or Hidden Power Electric on Keldeo, will do in a pinch.