Before BW, Sharpedo was hopelessly outclassed as a Water-type, its good offenses and Speed offset by its poor defensive typing and incredible frailness. However, it received one of the best offensive abilities in the game from the Dream World: Speed Boost. Now, Sharpedo is a sight to behold, and its scary base 120 Attack and good base 95 Special Attack are more threatening than ever before. That same poor defensive typing from last generation is now one of Sharpedo's greatest assets, because the only common Pokemon in the UU metagame that resists both of Sharpedo's STAB moves is Empoleon. Sharpedo is versatile as well, with attacking stats and a movepool that allow it to either go all-out physically or use a specially attacking set. As counters to the physical set are beaten by the special set, and vice versa, Sharpedo is difficult to deal with before you figure out the set, and it has very few 100% safe switch-ins.
Not all is bright and cheery for Sharpedo in UU, though. It's still ridiculously frail thanks to its 70 / 40 / 40 defenses, and it is susceptible to common priority, such as Hitmontop's Mach Punch and Arcanine's ExtremeSpeed. Even resisted hits from the likes of Honchkrow and Bisharp leave a large dent in Sharpedo, and when combined with a couple turns of recoil damage, they can bring Sharpedo to its doom. A common characteristic of Speed Boost users is their overreliance on Protect to gain Speed boosts, and Sharpedo is no different. This makes Sharpedo notoriously easy to play around, as most users of Sharpedo are cautious when it comes to attaining Speed boosts. Sharpedo's good mixed attacking stats aren't as good as they appear in the UU metagame, as Sharpedo has to OHKO everything in order to attain a sweep, and this simply isn't possible against most UU teams due to the bulky nature of the metagame. Many Pokemon can take a hit from Sharpedo and retaliate just as strongly. Sharpedo is definitely a threat to prepare for; however, its many flaws hold it back from becoming a top-tier threat.
A physically attacking set is Sharpedo's best way of attempting a sweep in the UU metagame. Speed Boost is the key to the set, and it makes Sharpedo progressively harder to beat. This set is threatening to offensive teams in particular, as they are usually frail and can't outspeed Sharpedo once it gets a few Speed boosts under its belt. In fact, Sharpedo is useful on offensive teams of its own, since it can be an effective late-game cleaner on its own against offense as well as act as a revenge killer for extremely fast threats, or against stall can clean up after its teammates have weakened the defensive core.
Protect is the most important move on the set, and it ensures that Sharpedo can get that extra boost if necessary. It usually never hurts to be safe, especially if you're not sure whether or not your opponent's Flygon or Darmanitan is carrying a Choice Scarf. It's especially useful against Fake Out users, and Sharpedo isn't a bad check to either of them. While it's good to be liberal with Protect, there's no need to allow your opponent to get a setup opportunity when they're slower than Sharpedo, as you can't allow Slowbro to get a free chance to heal.
Waterfall and Crunch are Sharpedo's most powerful physical STAB moves, getting wonderful coverage in UU. Waterfall hits mainly Fire- and Ground-types, including Darmanitan, Arcanine, Krookodile, Rhyperior, Nidoking, and Houndoom. Crunch takes out the many Psychic- and Ghost-types in UU, such as Azelf, Cofagrigus, Slowbro, Mismagius, and Xatu. However, their coverage overlaps on threats that that are hit super effectively or neutrally by both moves, such as Chandelure and Claydol, as well as Crobat and Zapdos, respectively. As the two moves have equal Base Power, your decision between the two should come down to prediction. If you think that your opponent will leave his or her Pokemon in, Waterfall is the better choice for its flinch chance; however, if you predict a switch, Crunch is the superior option because it has a chance to inflict a Defense drop. Earthquake rounds out the set by hitting Steel-types that would ordinarily get in Sharpedo's way, such as Registeel and Cobalion. It is especially useful for Empoleon, the only UU Pokemon that resists both of Sharpedo's STAB moves.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Sharpedo can run an effective special attacking set that showcases its wallbreaking abilities. This set can hit many threats harder than a physical one can; examples include defensive threats such as Zapdos, Arcanine, Hitmontop, Bronzong, Gligar, and Nidoqueen, as well as offensive threats such as Shaymin, Flygon, and Bisharp. Speed Boost is Sharpedo's greatest asset and turns it into an offense killer. However, this set can function well against both offense and stall because of its stronger main STAB move and Ice Beam.
Protect is often seen as a crutch when using Sharpedo, but it is completely necessary for just about any Speed Boost user to get a guaranteed boost before beginning its assault. It's also very helpful to scout for priority from the likes of Arcanine and Hitmontop while completely blocking Fake Out. When using Protect, it's better to be liberal with the move, as it allows Sharpedo to outspeed fast Choice Scarf users such as Flygon and Victini. However, you should still be wary of giving your opponent a free turn to set up.
As stated before, one of the main reasons that this set can break stall more easily than the physical attacker is its more powerful Water-type STAB move. Hydro Pump is the preferred choice because it is Sharpedo's most powerful STAB move and hits significantly harder than Surf. For example, Hydro Pump is a guaranteed OHKO against both Cobalion and Porygon-Z with one layer of Spikes up (or in the latter's case, just Stealth Rock will suffice), while Surf can sometimes fail to OHKO Azelf after Stealth Rock damage! However, Surf is the better choice for those who prefer reliability, and it isn't as inferior as one might think on teams that can easily stack hazards. Dark Pulse is a secondary STAB move that gets wonderful coverage in tandem with Sharpedo's Water-type STAB move; specifically, it hits Ghost- and Psychic-types such as Slowbro, Froslass, and Mismagius. Lastly, Ice Beam is one of Sharpedo's greatest assets from a special attacking standpoint, as it allows Sharpedo to hit the common Flying- and Grass-types, especially the relatively bulky Zapdos, Togekiss, Shaymin, and Roserade. It also gets the OHKO on Flygon, which Hydro Pump just misses out on; this is very important considering Choice Scarf Flygon is most offensive teams' best answer to Sharpedo.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While Sharpedo doesn't have any other notable moves at its disposal, it can run an effective mixed set with the moves it has. A specially based mixed set of Hydro Pump, Dark Pulse, and Earthquake makes for a wonderful Empoleon lure; an EV spread of 136 Atk / 252 SpA / 120 Spe along with a Naughty nature allows Sharpedo to lure in and KO Empoleon with the combination of Hydro Pump and Earthquake after Stealth Rock damage. However, Ice Beam is far superior to Earthquake on a special attacking set, as the latter option makes Sharpedo less effective overall just so it can accomplish a single goal. While that might prove effective if your team is based around Rain Dance Kingdra, it's hardly Sharpedo's optimal set.
Sharpedo can also use a Choice Band to power up its moves a little more. However, Sharpedo relies on its coverage to sweep, so locking it into a single move isn't worth the extra power. In addition, Sharpedo can't use Protect well when holding a Choice item, rendering it unable to get the Speed boost it needs in some situations. Sharpedo's only usable boosting move is Agility, but it's completely inferior to just using Speed Boost. Substitute can help Sharpedo avoid status and guard against revenge killers, but Sharpedo is pressed for moveslots as it is, and it's already the fastest thing around after it gets a couple of boosts. Likewise, Taunt is an option, but Sharpedo is too frail to use it effectively, and Substitute is the better option to avoid status. The only other coverage moves Sharpedo has access to are Double-Edge and Return; however, they offer almost the exact same coverage as Sharpedo's Dark-type STAB, and thus shouldn't be used.
Checks and Counters
While Sharpedo can be tough to counter before you know its set, there are a few Pokemon that can take it on no matter what set it's using. Porygon2 is one of the best all-around counters to Sharpedo that there is, as it is ridiculously bulky both physically and specially, has access to Recover, and can OHKO Sharpedo with either Thunderbolt or Discharge. Bulky Water-types such as Suicune, Milotic, and Blastoise are in a similar boat, as they all resist Sharpedo's Water-type attacks and don't take much from either Crunch or Dark Pulse. Milotic is the most dependable option here, as it has reliable recovery and can potentially burn Sharpedo with Scald or just stall it out with Recover while Sharpedo falls to Life Orb recoil. Suicune can set up Calm Mind boosts on Sharpedo while using Rest to heal semi-reliably, and more defensive versions can also wear it down with Scald. Blastoise can use Toxic to put Sharpedo in its place, although it can be worn down easily due to its lack of recovery. Snorlax is a good check to both sets as well; it hard counters the special set while only fearing Waterfall flinches from the physical set, can heal semi-reliably with RestTalk, and 2HKOes Sharpedo with Body Slam if it doesn't paralyze Sharpedo first. If all else fails, Life Orb Arcanine's ExtremeSpeed does a minimum of 80% to Sharpedo, which is enough to faint it after a turn of Life Orb recoil and Stealth Rock damage.
The physical set is best checked by bulky Grass- and Flying-types that can take a Crunch and hit back. Shaymin is one of Sharpedo's best Grass-type checks, especially if Sharpedo lacks Ice Beam, as it can take Crunch with ease and OHKO in return with Seed Flare. Togekiss is another strong check to Sharpedo that lack Ice Beam, and can paralyze it after first taking a hit. It can then stall out Life Orb recoil by using Roost or paralyze Sharpedo and use Serene Grace Air Slash flinches to greatly hamper it from even getting an attack off. Whether or not it is physically defensive, Zapdos too can take one of Sharpedo's physical STAB moves and KO with Thunderbolt. Defensive Hitmontop is the best direct counter to physically attacking Sharpedo though, as it can reduce Sharpedo's damage output with Intimidate and OHKO it with Close Combat. Even if it's weakened, Hitmontop can still do a number with STAB Mach Punch before it dies.
Umbreon is one of the best counters to the special set, as it can take any of Sharpedo's attacks with ease and stall it out with Wish and Protect, or use Toxic to cripple it tremendously. Swampert is also a pretty good check, as it can take a hit and hit back with Earthquake, although it can be 2HKOed by Hydro Pump. Kingdra 4x resists Hydro Pump and can take a Dark Pulse before OHKOing with Draco Meteor. Escavalier can take on the special set as well, for it is only 2HKOed by Hydro Pump and can KO with Megahorn in return. Specially defensive Escavalier can sometimes avoid even the 2HKO from Hydro Pump while still KOing with Megahorn. Bulk Up Scrafty is also a solid check to specially based Sharpedo, because maximum investment in Special Defense enables it to always avoid the 2HKO from Hydro Pump without hazards on the field; it can then OHKO Sharpedo with Drain Punch while recovering most of the health lost. Dragon Dance variants aren't bad checks either, but they must be careful when using Hi Jump Kick because there is always the threat of Protect.