Staraptor, of all Pokemon, is perhaps the most fitting personification of an Angry Bird. Intentional pop culture undertones aside, this means that Staraptor is a horrifically powerful threat with one major setback: it frankly doesn't last very long once it actually gets in the field. In a nutshell, Staraptor's typing doesn't bring it many benefits due to very few immunities and resistances, in addition to a weakness to Stealth Rock. Pair this with Staraptor's naturally low defensive stats and reliance on recoil moves, and you have a very unstable bomb in your hands.
However, despite these problems and a much less welcoming territory in OU, Staraptor still soars high above other threats in terms of viability and usefulness. As proven by Tornadus, Flying-type STAB has surprisingly good competitive merit, and is often unprepared for by many teams. Unlike Tornadus, however, Staraptor's main moves are 100% accurate, and are thus usable in absolutely any weather. While Staraptor's physical leanings make it walled by a distinctive list of threats, its relative rareness and nearly unparalleled power actually softens these issues significantly. It requires some support in the way of removing Stealth Rock and certain Steel-types, but overall, Staraptor is a decent assassin for offensive teams requiring a wallbreaker. Just don't expect it to last very long, and keep in mind its unparalleled perks (physical Flying-type STAB).
Even without a boosting item, Staraptor mows down a multitude of threats with Brave Bird alone. Therefore, due to Staraptor's power, good Speed, and a number of opponents that threaten to outspeed it, the Choice Scarf is a most suitable item for it, turning it into both a good revenge killer and battering ram. One notable advantage of using Staraptor over similar revenge killers—especially Latios, Garchomp, and Salamence—is that Brave Bird doesn't suffer notable drawbacks aside from recoil; Staraptor can just spam it multiple times and switch out if needed. It should also be noted that Staraptor's own Brave Bird can OHKO 4/0 Dragonite after Stealth Rock damage, and is much more powerful than other common scarf users' attacks by default (i.e. Terrakion's Close Combat and Salamence's unboosted Outrage).
The other attacks should only be used circumstantially as Brave Bird usually offers more power or better coverage. Double-Edge is a Normal-type equivalent of Brave Bird, and is Staraptor's best option against Rotom-W, Thundurus-T, and the uncommon Zapdos. Close Combat is used as a last resort against the Steel- and Rock-types that resist Brave Bird, but is somewhat average in power due to Reckless not boosting it. Finally, U-turn helps keep up constant momentum and scout out any counter attempting to tank a predicted Brave Bird or Close Combat.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set definitely showcases Staraptor's offensive might. Users no longer have to predict heavily around Steel- and Rock-types, as Staraptor can alternate between Brave Bird and Close Combat depending on the situation. The combination of both moves gives Staraptor both humongous power and nearly unresisted coverage, allowing it to act as a short-term wallbreaker with very few safe switch-ins. On that note, Staraptor only has to stay in for a little amount of time, paving the way for other teammates to sweep on their own. As for other moves, Double-Edge is still a useful option, though its use is merely limited to KOing bulky Rotom-W and Zapdos, as Thundurus-T outspeeds and Brave Bird already deals heavy damage to it. You may consider using U-turn in the third slot instead for scouting and grabbing momentum. U-turn can also be used in the fourth slot alongside Double-Edge to maximize offensive utility. Staraptor tends to force many switches, which is the perfect opportunity to use Roost to recover lost health from Brave Bird and Life Orb recoil in a pinch. Avoid using Roost continuously, however, since Staraptor's defenses aren't exactly best suited for doing so.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
The Choice Band takes Staraptor's wallbreaking powers to murderous extremes. Thanks to the stacked boosts from STAB, Reckless, and Choice Band, Brave Bird is now one of the most hard-hitting physical attacks in OU, just short of Kyurem-B's Outrage. Moreover, it is now powerful enough to power through several counters; after one layer of Spikes, 252 HP Jirachi is facing a potential 2HKO (45.04 – 53.21%) from Adamant Brave Bird. Thus, the game plan when using this set is to weaken the checks and counters of its teammates by spamming Brave Bird alone. Keep in mind that it is usually better to be locked into Brave Bird rather than Close Combat or Double-Edge due to immunities to those moves being very common in OU. If physically bulky Pokemon resistant to Brave Bird are present, simply use Close Combat or U-turn to work around them. The Normal-type STAB move of choice depends on preference, but Quick Attack is preferred over Double-Edge as it gives Staraptor a decent form of priority to use in a pinch, and Brave Bird and Close Combat both already do heavy damage to Thundurus-T and even bulky Rotom-W.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Outside of Heat Wave being used with Life Orb, there is absolutely no good reason for Staraptor to use other special attacks competitively. Pursuit is a semi-decent option on either Choice set to deal huge damage to escaping Psychic- and Ghost-types. Beware when using it on the Choice Band set, however, as Staraptor lacks the speed and resistances to take on common Pursuit targets such as Latios, Espeon, and Gengar. Pursuit has more value on the Scarf set, against which these targets are likely to flee in fear of a fast Brave Bird or U-turn. Agility may seem good on paper, though Staraptor barely finds opportunities to freely set up, and the Speed boost is somewhat useless when faring against Pokemon that can take at least one attack and KO Staraptor in return. Agility Staraptor is also short-lived thanks to its reliance on recoil moves and the popularity of priority attacks. Tailwind is a much better option in this case as it also benefits Staraptor's teammates when it eventually goes down. A SubRoost set may also seem plausible, though Staraptor is already hard-pressed for free turns, and will rarely successfully cycle between attacking moves, Roost, and Substitute.
Return can take the place of Double-Edge on any set to avoid recoil, though without a large Base Power and the boost provided by Reckless, Return fails to KO Double-Edge's main target: Rotom-W. Speaking of which, Intimidate can also replace Reckless on any set, although lowered physical attacks still already lower Staraptor's lifespan, and Staraptor itself will miss the free added power to Brave Bird and Double-Edge. Overall, since Staraptor is a glass cannon, Double-Edge and Reckless will almost always be the preferred combination on it.
Checks and Counters
As stated before, Staraptor's defensive vulnerability and reliance on recoil attacks will mostly prove to be its undoing in battle. Stealth Rock, sandstorm or hail, Leech Seed, and other forms of chip damage also greatly shortens Staraptor's life span even further in the long run. All of these factors ensure Staraptor will not last as long as it maximally should, though if the opponent isn't careful, Staraptor will have likely done some heavy damage by the time it faints, which in itself is its main role.
As far as non-passive counters are concerned, physically defensive Skarmory is easily the best counter, as it sports extremely high Defense and a neutrality to Close Combat. Even the Choice Band set cannot manage to 2HKO it, and the only way Staraptor can effectively deal with it is by using the uncommon combination of Life Orb and Heat Wave. Similarly, Jirachi, Metagross, and Bronzong all resist Brave Bird and are neutral to Close Combat, through without heavy investment in physical defense, they are all 2HKOed by Choice Band Close Combat or even Brave Bird with entry hazards. Other non-Steel-type physical walls such as Hippowdon also apply if they have enough health to take an attack, though most of them cannot withstand a second Brave Bird or Double-Edge. Aside from these, there is little else that can safely switch into Staraptor's attacks.
Provided Staraptor isn't holding a Choice Scarf of its own, any threat that can somehow outpace base 100 Pokemon or take one of its attacks makes an excellent check to it. Choice Scarf Rotom-W is a common example of this, being able to take momentum away by threatening to OHKO with a fast and deadly Volt Switch. Another example is Gengar, who is immune to both Double-Edge and Close Combat and can either Disable Brave Bird or hit with Focus Blast. A more defensive answer is bulky pivot Landorus-T, who can take Adamant Reckless Brave Bird with ease (after Intimidate) and OHKO with Stone Edge. Staraptor is also vulnerable to common forms of priority, including Scizor's Bullet Punch, Breloom's Mach Punch, Mamoswine's Ice Shard, and Dragonite's ExtremeSpeed. All these revenge killers, however, are hard-pressed to switch into Staraptor as they will be greatly weakened, if not instantly OHKOed, by Brave Bird or Double-Edge.