Keldeo

Justified
Raises Attack one stage when hit by a Dark-type move.
Type Tier
Water / Fighting OU
Level 100 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Min- Min Max Max+
HP
91
- 323 386 -
Atk
72
162 180 243 267
Def
90
194 216 279 306
SpA
129
264 294 357 392
SpD
90
194 216 279 306
Spe
108
226 252 315 346

Overview

Keldeo may arguably be the cutest Pokemon in the OU tier, but that's not all there is to this pretty pony! With a great base 129 Special Attack and a good base 108 Speed, it has all the tools it needs to punch holes in opposing teams with relative ease. With Secret Sword, it becomes one of the only special attackers in the entire metagame capable of getting past Chansey and Blissey with ease. With all of these pros, it's hard to imagine that there are reasons to not use Keldeo, but sadly, this is the case. While Keldeo has great STAB coverage, especially with access to powerful moves such as Hydro Pump and Secret Sword, it has a very shallow movepool. In fact, what walls Keldeo is usually determined solely by the moves it runs. Keldeo is usually limited to running its STABs and a Hidden Power of choice for coverage, but this is not a one-trick pony. With a great boosting option in Calm Mind, the ability to run power-boosting items such as Life Orb or Choice Specs, and the ability to speed up with Choice Scarf, Keldeo can definitely wreak havoc on opposing teams.

Name Item Nature

All-Out Attacker

Expert Belt / Life Orb Timid
Moveset EVs
~ Hydro Pump
~ Secret Sword
~ Hidden Power Bug / Hidden Power Ghost
~ Icy Wind
252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

While Choice sets are very effective on Keldeo, it is also excellent as an all-out attacker. The main advantage of this set is the ability to switch moves; this is huge, as Keldeo often needs to switch up moves in order to hit the foe for heavy damage. There are two variants of this set—Expert Belt and Life Orb—that both play much differently. Expert Belt allows Keldeo to bluff a Choice item and thus surprise its counters with a super effective move, which tends to mess up the opponent via throwing off his or her game plan. On the other hand, Life Orb gives Keldeo a significant boost in power compared to Expert Belt, which only boosts the power of super effective moves, meaning Hydro Pump and Secret Sword are often fired off unboosted. Life Orb boosts the power of all of Keldeo's moves, making it a very reliable option.

Keldeo's STABs are obvious; Hydro Pump outright rips apart of all Keldeo's foes, especially when boosted by rain, while Secret Sword allows Keldeo to nail Tyranitar, Blissey, and Chansey. Their great coverage together can be utilized to its full potential with this set, as the lack of a Choice item allows Keldeo to switch moves. For the Expert Belt set, it is highly recommended to use Hidden Power Bug as Keldeo's Hidden Power of choice. Hidden Power Bug can surprise Celebi and KO it in one hit; it also helps against Latias and Latios, but Celebi is the number one target. It is also usable with a Life Orb, but Hidden Power Ghost provides competition there, as it always 2HKOes non-specially defensive Jellicent after Stealth Rock damage, which is huge, and still gets super effective coverage on the Lati twins. Icy Wind fills the last slot so that Keldeo always has good coverage with which to hit Latios and Latias and to slow down faster threats, such as Starmie and Tornadus. It also provides a way to KO Landorus and Landorus-T with less risk than Hydro Pump.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Choice Scarf

Choice Scarf Timid
Moveset EVs
~ Surf
~ Hydro Pump
~ Hidden Power Ice
~ Secret Sword
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe

With a Choice Scarf equipped, Keldeo might lack the wallbreaking power of its other sets, but instead becomes a powerful revenge killer and late-game sweeper for use on rain teams. At 129, Keldeo has the highest base Special Attack stat of all Water-type Pokemon available in OU; this and its excellent Speed clearly make it the best Pokemon for the job. It's extremely satisfying to see an opponent attempt to revenge kill Keldeo with Jolteon or Tornadus only to find that they are outrun and OHKOed by Hydro Pump or even Surf after Stealth Rock damage. Though running both of these STAB moves together might seem strange, Keldeo really doesn't need to use much else, and doesn't have many other options anyway. Surf is the staple move, but often the additional power of Hydro Pump will be required to revenge kill a specific threat. Secret Sword is relatively weak, but it will help to deal with troublesome opponents such as Blissey, Chansey, and Ferrothorn, 2HKOing all three. Other than that, Keldeo has very few options besides Hidden Power. Hidden Power Ice is the best, as it allows Keldeo to revenge kill threats such as Dragonite, which it will outrun even after two Dragon Dances, as well as +1 Salamence. Even when super effective, Hidden Power Ice is still not significantly more powerful than a resisted Hydro Pump in the rain, but it will hit targets such as Breloom more accurately, and is more effective against them outside of rain.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Choice Specs

Choice Specs Timid / Modest
Moveset EVs
~ Hydro Pump
~ Secret Sword
~ Hidden Power Ghost / Hidden Power Electric
~ Icy Wind / Surf
252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

While Keldeo's other sets are mainly based around sweeping, Choice Specs Keldeo is meant to break down walls. However, that's not to say it cannot sweep—if all Pokemon on an opponent's team are slower than Keldeo, the immediate power granted by Choice Specs certainly can allow Keldeo to smash through teams. Generally, the move Keldeo will use most often is Hydro Pump, and Secret Sword provides a solid secondary STAB attack that allows Keldeo to rip through Chansey, Blissey, Kyurem-B, and other Pokemon that won't be hit for too much damage by Hydro Pump. The choice between Hidden Power Ghost and Hidden Power Electric is dependent on what your team needs; Hidden Power Ghost surprises Jellicent and Celebi, but Hidden Power Electric can still hit Jellicent and take down opposing Water-types such as Politoed and Gyarados. However, Hydro Pump hits most Water-type Pokemon hard even if they resist it, so one should take all relevant damage outputs into account before making a choice. Icy Wind in the last moveslot allows Keldeo to hit Latias that try and switch in super effectively, with the added effect of lowering their Speed. Some variants of Latias are 2HKOed, while Latios will face the same fate as long as they don't hold a Choice Scarf. Surf provides a reliable STAB move to use in the late-game though, so the last moveslot depends on preference.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Offensive

Life Orb / Leftovers Timid
Moveset EVs
~ Calm Mind / Substitute
~ Hydro Pump / Surf
~ Secret Sword
~ Hidden Power Ghost / Hidden Power Ice
252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

Keldeo's offensive set has two main variants—Calm Mind and Substitute. Calm Mind is fairly straightforward—essentially, the goal is to attain enough Calm Mind boosts and then sweep. With great STAB moves, Keldeo can often do just that. Keldeo's high Special Attack in conjunction with its base 108 Speed allows it to outspeed every relevant threat, bar Latios, Latias, and Starmie, and sweep with relative ease. On the other hand, Substitute gives Keldeo protection from faster Pokemon, allowing it to function almost like an Alakazam or Gengar. Hydro Pump has tremendous power, especially under rain, and while Surf has less power, it is a viable alternative for its better accuracy; the power is not necessarily needed when sweeping late-game. However, with the protection of a Substitute, Hydro Pump should always be used, as you will usually have at least two chances to fire it off. Secret Sword is another STAB move, and while it lacks the power of Focus Blast, its value lies in its effect: it hits the opponent's Defense instead of Special Defense. This allows Keldeo to bypass some standard special walls, such as Chansey and Blissey. Both Hidden Power Ghost and Hidden Power Ice have their uses; the former deals damage to Jellicent—who walls Keldeo otherwise—and Latias on the switch-in, while the latter allows Keldeo to hit Dragon-types much harder.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

SubCM

Leftovers Timid
Moveset EVs
~ Substitute
~ Calm Mind
~ Hydro Pump / Surf
~ Secret Sword
252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

Keldeo's SubCM set is not very different from the Calm Mind set, but it does have some notable pros and cons that set it apart. Substitute grants immunity to status-inducing moves, such as Will-O-Wisp and Toxic, and also protects Keldeo from potential revenge killers, so Keldeo can clean fairly effectively. On the other hand, Substitute prevents Keldeo from being able to even touch Jellicent, and Keldeo's already-limited coverage becomes even thinner. If one is willing to look past that, though, SubCM Keldeo can be fearsome, as its limited coverage provides just enough to hit a majority of the metagame hard. Once Keldeo is able to nab a few Calm Mind boosts, Secret Sword and Hydro Pump (or Surf, if you like to play it safe) provide all the tools one needs for an effective sweep.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>

Other Options

Keldeo's other options are almost as shallow as its movepool. While Keldeo has access to a great boosting move in Swords Dance, its low base Attack doesn't do it many favors. Keldeo can also use Rain Dance to change the weather instantly (without provoking a weather war) and boost the power of Surf and Hydro Pump, though Drizzle Politoed does a better job at this because it can simply switch in and change the weather; not to mention Drizzle-induced rain is permanent. In short: if you aren't using one of the above sets, there is probably a Pokemon that you should be using instead of Keldeo.

Checks and Counters

Keldeo's counters are generally split into two groups: those that can wall it no matter what, and those that can wall some of its sets, but not all. Perhaps the best Keldeo counter out there is Slowking; despite its lower tier status, it remains a very effective way to always beat Keldeo (provided it runs Psyshock). However, other options to take down Keldeo do exist. Amoonguss does very well, and with Regenerator, it can constantly switch out to regain health. However, should Keldeo be behind a Substitute and have a sufficient amount of boosts to where Giga Drain will not break the Substitute, the Amoonguss user is in bad condition. The same applies to Celebi, as specially defensive versions with Perish Song completely shut down Keldeo; however, Celebi is ineffective against Keldeo that use Hidden Power Bug. Latias with Psyshock can generally switch into Keldeo, and with a 252 HP / 252 Spe spread and a Timid nature, it won't be 2HKOed by Keldeo's Choice Specs Icy Wind. For this reason, it remains a good check to Keldeo, but it won't be able to take on another Pokemon reliably after the skirmish. Jellicent is in the same boat—it's a great check to Keldeo as it is immune to both of Keldeo's STAB attacks with Water Absorb and can badly poison Keldeo with Toxic, but Keldeo can run Hidden Power Ghost to take on Jellicent, so one should be wary. It should be noted that Keldeo's SubCM set cannot touch Jellicent at all, though it can attempt to stall out the jellyfish.

Keldeo has many more checks than counters, though. With a great base 108 Speed, one probably should wonder why—this is because there are many faster Choice Scarf Pokemon that can easily prey on our favorite pony's weaknesses, and with other faster threats looming, Keldeo cannot always sweep as quickly as it would like. Alakazam, Latios, and Starmie are great users of Psyshock that can get by Keldeo with ease, even if it happens to be at +6. Additionally, Tornadus outspeeds Keldeo, and with Hurricane, it can decimate it; Jolteon does the same with Thunder or Thunderbolt. Most dedicated revenge killers can get by Keldeo, including, but not limited to, Thundurus-T, Terrakion, and Rotom-W. However, one must keep in mind that most of these Pokemon cannot switch into Keldeo, and even though many resist Keldeo's attacks, rain-boosted, STAB, Choice Specs-boosted Hydro Pump will mercilessly annihilate all of them. Of course, most of these Pokemon are not checks to Keldeo at all if it chooses to carry a Choice Scarf, so one must be wary and scout out the Keldeo set before attempting to revenge kill it.

Finally, a few more Pokemon can stand up to Keldeo's wrath. Even at +1, Roserade can OHKO Keldeo with Leaf Storm. Swords Dance Virizion can attack Keldeo's unboosted Defense with Leaf Blade, though Secret Sword will do a big chunk of damage should Keldeo win the Speed tie. Tentacruel with Toxic can wear down any Keldeo set except for SubCM set, which will actually beat Tentacruel. Similarly, Toxic Spikes do a number to hamper Keldeo's survivability, and the setup sweeper sets find it very hard to play through Toxic. Finally, Dragonite does well against Keldeo, but one always needs to be wary of Hidden Power Ice; also, one should remember that even though Dragonite resists Hydro Pump, Choice Specs and rain are two factors to keep in mind before attempting to tank!