Kabutops displays great success as a physical sweeper on teams that have difficulty against rain teams and a physical offensive Rapid Spin user that can beat Ferrothorn on rain teams—a trait that separates Kabutops from other spinners such as Starmie—and has access to the combination of Swords Dance and Weak Armor, giving Kabutops the chance to potentially sweep under rain. Kabutops can also be used on manual Rain Dance teams to make use of Swift Swim, allowing Kabutops to act as a fearsome sweeper against opposing rain teams while outspeeding the majority of them. Boasting a base 115 Attack stat, Kabutops also comes with a great offensive STAB combination, hitting almost every type for neutral or super effective damage.
One of Kabutops's biggest flaws is its disappointing Speed when Swift Swim is not activated, as well as its bad defensive typing, which leaves it easily revenge killed by anything faster than it. Kingdra gives Kabutops stiff competition, as it can be useful outside of rain. Other Rapid Spin users, such as Starmie and Tentacruel, are often better choices than Kabutops. Kabutops also suffers from four-moveslot syndrome, meaning that it usually has to choose between getting walled by Ferrothorn or Celebi. Heavy team support is also needed to keep Kabutops alive and to keep Rain Dance active. If you strategically use Kabutops while taking advantage of what it has to offer, then Kabutops will not fail in any role it is used to play.
This variant of Kabutops doesn't have to be limited to rain conditions; it can be used on other teams as well to check opposing rain teams. Kabutops works particularly well with sand teams, as the Special Defense boost from sandstorm aids Kabutops defensively. Kabutops is a great Rapid Spin user, as it has the ability to threaten nearly every relevant spinblocker in the tier. Stone Edge is Kabutops's primary STAB move, boasting both power and coverage, along with checking Dragonite, whom Kabutops OHKOes with Stone Edge if Multiscale is broken. Aqua Jet is its secondary STAB move, making up for the lack of Speed while allowing Kabutops to check the likes of Terrakion, Volcarona, and Mamoswine. The final moveslot is based on preference. Swords Dance is the ideal for providing Kabutops with a huge boost in power. With the Swords Dance boost, Kabutops can OHKO Jellicent with Stone Edge, making Kabutops increasingly difficult to spinblock. It can also OHKO Gengar with Aqua Jet, along with faring quite well against Hippowdon, a bulky Pokemon Kabutops usually cannot scar. However, with Low Kick, Kabutops isn't setup fodder against Ferrothorn, a common Pokemon on rain teams.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With Kabutops's access to Swords Dance and the ability Swift Swim, it can function as a decently powerful and fast late-game sweeper. This is the set where Kabutops's formidable coverage really shows; it provides a major offensive presence and allows Kabutops to dent many Pokemon in the OU metagame along with checking rain teams quite well. With rain present, Swift Swim mitigates one of Kabutops's biggest flaws. Waterfall becomes insanely powerful in the rain, having a Base Power of 180. It also has a nifty (though small) chance of flinching the foe, which is great if the opponent somehow survives Waterfall. Stone Edge is its secondary STAB attack, and hurts any cheeky Grass-, Dragon-, or Water-type Pokemon trying to switch in. The last moveslot depends on which Pokemon your team has trouble with. Low Kick does severe damage to Ferrothorn, which is arguably Kabutops's best counter. Aqua Jet on the other hand can hit priority users before they hit back with Mach Punch or Bullet Punch. Outside of rain, Aqua Jet also allows Kabutops to dish out harsh damage to Pokemon that can outspeed it, such as Thundurus-T, Garchomp, and Terrakion, especially when it has a Swords Dance boost.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
In spite of Kabutops's small movepool, it has a variety of other options to choose from. Kabutops can provide its own rain with the move Rain Dance; however, it loses power from the loss of a Life Orb and a valuable moveslot by sacrificing a move for Rain Dance. Kabutops also has potential with a support set, but it doesn't want to give up moveslots for support moves, and there are many other Pokemon better suited for that particular role. Rock Polish is an option when you want that additional Speed if Swift Swim is not used, turning Kabutops into a potent sweeper. Kabutops can also run a Choice Scarf or Choice Band set for an increase in overall Speed or power, respectively. However, Kabutops loses too much momentum to unlock this set's full potential, and it also wastes Rain Dance turns from the constant switches. Rock Slide can replace Stone Edge as a more reliable Rock-type STAB move for Kabutops, but it would rather have the additional power from Stone Edge. Likewise, Hone Claws can help with accuracy issues, specifically with Stone Edge. Foresight paired with Rapid Spin can be useful against spinblockers, but because Kabutops can defeat nearly every spinblocker in OU with its current Rapid Spin set, Foresight is deemed redundant. In short, Kabutops should stick with its niche of checking rain teams, specifically Ferrothorn, to be successful.
Checks and Counters
Despite Kabutops's offensive presence, one will find that it's surprisingly easy to counter it. The physically defensive variant of Celebi is one of the best counters to Kabutops, as it can take almost all of Kabutops's attacks while KOing it in retaliation. Gastrodon can absorb Kabutops's Water-type STAB moves and resists its Rock-type STAB attack while aiming for the burn chance in Scald. Latias is a decent check to the Rapid Spin set, as she can take a Stone Edge and go for the KO against Kabutops. Rotom-W is also a great check to this specific set. Physically defensive Jellicent can also prevent Kabutops from fulfilling its role as a spinner while crippling it with Will-O-Wisp or Toxic.
Weather inducers, bar Politoed, are checks to the Swords Dance set; without rain, Kabutops can be easily revenge killed by the likes of Keldeo and Terrakion. Rotom-W is a great check to this set as well, as it can absorb an attack thanks to its great Defense and proceed to KO it with Volt Switch. Will-O-Wisp is also a great choice against Kabutops as well, but Rotom-W is better off defeating Kabutops with Volt Switch. Being inflicted with the burn status also reduces the effectiveness of this set, as Kabutops relies on Swords Dance's Attack boost. Sableye is a great Pokemon to spread burn status to Kabutops; it cannot switch into Kabutops, however.
While there are not many hard counters to Kabutops, there are many checks that are effective against it in general. In a nutshell, almost every strong Grass-type Pokemon, such as Breloom, Venusaur, Virizion, and Shaymin, are great checks to Kabutops. Breloom in particular can easily defeat Kabutops with its powerful Mach Punch. Keldeo, Rotom-W, and the physically defensive variant of Jellicent are also great checks to Kabutops. Kabutops with Swift Swim activated makes it difficult to outspeed, even with the Choice Scarf. Even outside of rain, it's not easy to outspeed Kabutops, and even Pokemon that can outspeed it, such as Terrakion, dislike taking an Aqua Jet. One of the easier ways to handle Kabutops is to get rid of it before it attempts to set up Swords Dance, as it is much easier to defeat without the Attack boost.