With apologies to anthropologist Ashley Montagu, Staraptor's purpose is "to die young as late as possible." This predatory bird can certainly make an impact with its fearsome Attack, decent Speed, and high Base Power moves, with enough power to OHKO and 2HKO some of the most common threats in OU with little support. The reason why Staraptor outclasses comparable Normal/Flying-type Pokemon is no mystery: it has Close Combat to round out its type coverage, disposing of Rock- and Steel-types that would otherwise wall its Normal- and Flying-type STAB attacks. What differentiates Staraptor from other competitors in OU is its ability to take advantage of its Flying-type STAB, which has deceptively great coverage in the current metagame alongside Close Combat.
The bad news is that while Staraptor is capable of sweeping whole teams, its lackluster defenses, weakness to Stealth Rock, and reliance on recoil moves limit its survivability on the battlefield severely. The mere existence of faster competitors and priority attacks in the metagame regulates Staraptor's own presence as well. Despite these weaknesses, Staraptor has qualities that differentiate it from the many physical attackers that roam this new generation, making it a significant threat given the right conditions.
When equipped with a Choice Band, Staraptor becomes just as fearsome as it was last generation. With its decent base 100 Speed, Staraptor can outspeed much of the metagame and come out on top without being hit or severely crippled. Staraptor can even 2HKO some of OU's strongest physical walls, such as Vaporeon, Swampert, and Ferrothorn. The strategy is simple: spam a STAB move to puncture holes in the opposing team, or use Close Combat against Rock- or Steel-types. Choice Band Staraptor can also function as a pseudo-lead, as it can KO many potential leads or U-turn safely away from danger.
All of the moves on the set save U-turn have over 100 Base Power, and together have unresisted coverage amongst common OU Pokemon. Brave Bird is Staraptor's signature attack: save for recoil, Brave Bird is an otherwise completely abusable, consistent STAB move. Any Pokemon weak or neutral to Brave Bird will take a hefty chunk of damage. The next two attacks cover these gaps in Brave Bird's coverage: Close Combat will deal with most Steel- and Rock-types, while Double-Edge or Return will easily handle most Electric-types. Double-Edge is more powerful, but has the same recoil issues as Brave Bird. Return is a slightly weaker—yet still powerful—move which can be useful in picking off the frail or the weakened.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
One of Staraptor's obstacles to performing a successful sweep is the fact that there are many threats that can still outspeed and KO him before he can successfully land a hit. Giving Staraptor a Choice Scarf promptly eliminates this problem. By holding a Choice Scarf, it gains the ability to outspeed and take out its normal counters, yet still maintain a powerful offensive presence. Because of Staraptor's already high Attack and Speed, it can revenge or surprise kill many unsuspecting setup threats and would-be counters. Due to its high Speed, Choice Scarf Staraptor can also make a great lead; unlike its Choice Band counterpart, Staraptor can now eliminate faster threats and limit setup.
In contrast to some alternative revenge killers and scouts, Staraptor is not offensively weak and can actually serve multiple roles on a team with just one of its moves. Brave Bird, as always, is a reliable STAB that can be used consistently, despite recoil. The only type that commonly resists the powerful Brave Bird are the Steel- and Rock-types, which can be easily handled with team members or Close Combat, and Electric-types, which can be taken care of by repeated switch-ins to Staraptor's Normal-type STAB move of choice. In addition to Brave Bird, Return or Double-Edge can be used alongside it to provide a powerful Normal-type STAB. Return is a reliable move that can pick off weakened opponents, whereas Double-Edge is basically a Normal-type version of Brave Bird with different coverage. Keep in mind that since this set is weaker than his other sets, Close Combat should be used only on weathered Rock- and Steel-types.
Unlike the previous set, U-turn is crucial here so Staraptor can take advantage of its Speed and act more as a scout and revenge killer. U-turn is a fantastic utility move that can throw the momentum of the battle into the user's favor. In addition, certain—if not most—Pokemon faster than Staraptor are hit super-effectively by U-turn, so it can make a dent by predicting switch-ins and U-turning to the appropriate counter. The scouting method should be used early-game so Staraptor will not easily stopped by bulky attackers.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While Choice Band Staraptor is a monster in itself, one of the problems it consistently finds itself in is its inability to switch attacks and reliably beat the Pokemon that resist its STAB. Granting Staraptor a Life Orb allows Staraptor the pleasure of switching attacks in exchange for a bit of survivability. Instead of having to rely on prediction and teammates to beat its checks, Staraptor can now sweep through teams by simply abusing its powerful attacks with exceptional type coverage. Because of its high Attack and moderately high Speed, Life Orb suits Staraptor perfectly; whereas Staraptor with Choice Band is the "battering ram" of a team, this set aims to be more of a sweeper with good coverage.
Like on every Staraptor set, Brave Bird and Close Combat are givens due to having good coverage together and high base power. In fact, many Rock- and Steel-types can be 2HKOed by the simple combination of Brave Bird followed by Close Combat, so Staraptor is not easily countered. Return is the main option as a secondary STAB move because it does not induce recoil as Double-Edge does. Return can also reliably pick off weakened enemies, so Staraptor does not have to rely on its other risky moves to KO threats. Roost is given a slot to recover damage caused by recoil and Stealth Rock damage, thereby extending Staraptor's rampage. However, Quick Attack can also be put in place of it. At times, Staraptor may fall short, so Quick Attack can be useful against weakened opponents for a quick finish. U-turn can be used for scouting would-be counters, but it has more utility on Staraptor's choice sets where Staraptor takes less damage from recoil. Keep in mind that replacing Roost means that Staraptor will lack recovery, making its lifespan much shorter.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Like its Normal- / Flying-type peers, Staraptor doesn't have much else to say about the rest of its movepool, except that it's barren. Offensively, Staraptor always has to choose between Return and Double-Edge as its main Normal-type STAB move. Retaliate is another option, but is generally situational because the move can only be used at its full power (140 Base Power excluding STAB) on the turn after a teammate has fainted. Retaliate is best used on the Choice Scarf set where Staraptor can effectively revenge kill and is in need of more powerful options. Pursuit is an offensive option as well to pick off escaping Pokemon, though because of an extremely weak base power and having Brave Bird to hit Ghost-types, Pursuit is better left off to Tyranitar and Scizor.
A combination of Roost and Substitute can be utilized so Staraptor can scout and defeat its counters before they can touch it behind a Substitute. This set's attacking options should include Brave Bird and Close Combat because they offer great coverage as well as high base power. Roost is essential so Staraptor can heal off recoil caused by Brave Bird and Substitute, and instead of Life Orb, Staraptor can use a Sharp Beak to boost Brave Bird without additional recoil.
Agility can also be utilized with Life Orb. With an Agility and just a few Speed EVs, Staraptor can outspeed threats it couldn't touch before, including even Choice Scarf Terrakion. Most of the time, however, Staraptor would rather 2HKO threats rather than faint after a somewhat useless speed boost. Work Up is always an option on a Pokemon that has no other way of boosting its offenses, though Staraptor rarely finds time to set up with its defenses. Work Up can be viable on an all-out offensive set with a boosting item like Sharp Beak or Life Orb, or a support item like Lum Berry or Leftovers.
Checks and Counters
Staraptor generally hates having extra health taken away, and due to its recoil moves and frailness, it will not last long if it takes passive damage. Stealth Rock is the easiest way of making sure Staraptor's life span remains limited. Passive damage can also be achieved through sandstorm and hail, which can be induced by Tyranitar and Abomasnow, respectively. Taking into account recoil damage, Stealth Rock, and weather damage, you will find that Staraptor's life span is generally extremely short. By using prediction and switching in resistances to Staraptor's attacks, the bird will fall eventually. One can check Staraptor with faster threats such as Jolteon, Espeon, Starmie, Gengar, and Mienshao. Note that most of the Pokemon faster than Staraptor cannot take one of its attacks and some can be defeated by using U-turn or Quick Attack.
As for walling Staraptor, physical walls do a great job of checking it. Though most bulky Water-types risk being 2HKOed by Brave Bird, Double-Edge, and Return, they can take at least one of these attacks and retaliate with Ice Beam. Notable mentions are Swampert, Suicune, Vaporeon, and Quagsire. Zapdos is a much faster, more offensively-inclined physical wall that resists Close Combat and Brave Bird and can swiftly eliminate the predatory bird with its choice of Electric-type move. Zapdos does risk being 2HKOed by Staraptor's Normal-type moves along with being outrun, though. Cofagrigus and normal Rotom sponges and is immune to Staraptor's main moves, and, additionally, they can cripple Staraptor with Will-O-Wisp, rendering it nearly useless for the rest of the match.