With the re-emergence of the rest of the 491 Pokemon in the VGC 2012 metagame, Heatran looks to establish itself as the premier Fire-type Pokemon. Unfortunately, with the omnipresence of Fighting-, Water-, and Ground-type attacks, along with Heatran's low Speed stat, it is easily knocked around like a pinball in a pinball machine. This problem is made worse with an increase in hyper offensive playstyles, coupled with hard-hitting attacks present in the metagame. However, Heatran's tendency to get slapped around doesn't take away from the fact that it possesses two of the best Fire-type attacks in this metagame; Heat Wave and Eruption. It has a phenomenal Special Attack stat that will punch through anything, given the right opportunity. If you're willing to gamble on this glass cannon, it will yield huge dividends.
With Heatran's sky-high Special Attack, Heat Wave and Eruption have the potential to knock out both opponents in one shot, or at least deal massive damage to those who don't resist, or aren't immune to Fire-type attacks. Heat Wave is a safer bet; with Heatran's tendency to get hit for massive damage, Heat Wave will consistently hit opponents for significant damage. However, Eruption is the high-risk, high-reward option, which allows Heatran to engulf its opponents in flames straight from hell. One must note, though, that Eruption will get steadily weaker as Heatran’s HP drops. Earth Power gives Heatran an option to hit opposing Fire- and Rock-types, who would otherwise take little damage from Heat Wave and even Eruption. Hidden Power Ice allows Heatran to hit opposing Dragon-types who resist Fire super effectively, whereas Protect allows Heatran to defend itself from incoming super effective attacks.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With its slow Speed stat, Heatran greatly appreciates Tailwind support, which Latios, Zapdos, and other such Pokemon can provide. However Heatran can also boost its own speed with a Choice Scarf and Modest nature, letting it outspeed a majority of the unboosted common VGC threats. On the other side of the spectrum, if using Trick Room, it is recommended that you use a 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD spread on Heatran, a Speed hindering nature, and 2 Speed IVs (in order to achieve a 70 Base Power Hidden Power). Fire Gem can also work well, giving Heatran a much stronger Fire-type Attack for one turn. Air Balloon can be used to give Heatran immunity to Ground-type attacks; be warned, however, that it should only be used if you are planning to lead with Heatran, as switching it in on an off-chance attack will ruin Heatran’s advantage.
As for alternative move choices, Dragon Pulse can be a much more effective option to hit Dragon-types over Hidden Power Ice. Heatran can also opt to run Will-O-Wisp to burn the Fighting-types that will inevitably switch into it. Substitute may be a nice option, especially when your opponents will undoubtedly be using Protect against Heatran’s super effective attacks, giving Heatran plenty of opportunities to set up. Overheat can work as an alternative over Heat Wave and Eruption, hitting one opponent for massive amounts of damage. Since switching is very difficult in this metagame, Overheat will debilitate Heatran afterwards, lowering its Special Attack stat by two stages. Finally, Explosion can be used as a surprise, dealing final blows to its enemies, while Heatran sacrifices itself.
Checks and Counters
Since Fighting-types are a staple on most VGC teams, it’s not very hard to counter Heatran. Hitmontop can employ either Mach Punch or Close Combat to quickly dispose of Heatran, and so can most other Fighting-types. Tyranitar also walls most of Heatran’s attacks, with the exception of Hidden Power Ice and Earth Power. However, as sandstorm boosts Tyranitar's Special Defense, it usually does not take as much damage from Heatran as one would expect, and it can KO back with a Low Kick or Earthquake. Rain teams also wall Heatran, with the rain neutralizing Heatran’s STAB Fire-type attacks. One must beware of the rare Explosion, however, as it can still deal severe damage to any rain team. Yache Berry Garchomp can survive a Hidden Power Ice and fire back an Earthquake to dispose of Heatran quickly. Finally, Gyarados is probably the supreme Heatran counter, only needing to watch out for the rare Will-O-Wisp, while taking little to no damage from Heatran’s attacks. It even has the added advantage of nerfing Heatran’s Explosion through Intimidate.
Heatran receives Flame Body as its Dream World ability; needless to say, Flash Fire is an infinitely better ability, giving Heatran an immunity and the ability to power up its Fire-type attacks. On the other hand, Flame Body provides no benefit whatsoever, exposing Heatran to Fire-type attacks and giving the small chance to burn physical attackers, who would normally KO Heatran anyways, due to Heatran's crippling weakness to Fighting- and Ground-type attacks.