At first glance, Crawdaunt seems to have quite a bit going for it: strong STAB moves, great mixed attacking stats, and a movepool with gems such as Dragon Dance and Swords Dance. However, a closer look reveals some equally serious problems. Its defenses are average at best, and its Speed borders on pitiful. Despite these downfalls, Crawdaunt can become a threatening force in UU with proper support, and should by no means be underestimated.
With its newly acquired move, Dragon Dance, Crawdaunt gains the ability to raise its above-average Attack and meager Speed stats. Water and Dark is a powerful type combination in UU, resisted only by Toxicroak, Cacturne, Shiftry, and Poliwrath. Crawdaunt may seem very easy to revenge kill, but it is very difficult to switch into after a Dragon Dance, as nothing enjoys taking a hit from an Attack stat of 558. Waterfall and Crunch are compulsory for their STAB and great type coverage. X-Scissor helps Crawdaunt dent some of its biggest counters: Tangrowth and Leafeon. Additionally, Taunt may be used in the last slot to stop Haze Milotic and Will-O-Wisp Weezing from spoiling Crawdaunt's fun.
The EVs are straightforward: 252 Attack EVs are for maximum damage output, while the Speed EVs allow Adamant Crawdaunt to outspeed everything up to positive base 90s after a Dragon Dance boost. A Jolly nature is usable to outpace key threats, such as Mismagius, Scyther, and Houndoom, that target Crawdaunt's poor Special Defense. An Adamant nature is almost always the better option though, as it allows Crawdaunt to obtain several key OHKOs and 2HKOs.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Crawdaunt's high Attack and excellent physical movepool make it a decent Choice Band user that can outspeed and bulldoze many common UU walls. Crunch should be treated as the primary move on this set, as nothing is immune to or 4x resists it, and it has a chance of lowering the opposing Pokemon's Defense. Waterfall is a strong and reliable secondary STAB move, and it gets excellent neutral coverage with Crunch. The last two moveslots are mostly filler, but they can be useful for certain situations. Superpower smites Registeel, while also OHKOing Chansey and Clefable. X-Scissor is the strongest move that Crawdaunt has against Tangrowth and Leafeon (although it will fail to OHKO either); Return has nice neutral coverage and power; and Aerial Ace is worth consideration because it hits Toxicroak, which would otherwise have an easy time switching into and setting up on Crawdaunt.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Swords Dance can be used to an extent, although the amount of support it requires to effectively sweep is extremely prohibitive to its success. While Crawdaunt may have the offensive stats to go mixed, it has neither the Speed nor the bulk to pull off a set successfully. Crawdaunt is decent as a Trick Room sweeper, but it is generally outclassed by the heavier-hitting Rhyperior and Azumarill.
Rock Slide can hit Flying-types hard, especially Altaria. Knock Off allows Crawdaunt to support its team, but this role is better left to Drapion. Brick Break is a weaker Fighting-type move that does not lower Crawdaunt's physical stats, but Superpower is generally superior as Crawdaunt is more of a hit-and-run attacker on the Choice Band set. Night Slash is an option over Crunch if you feel like abusing its high critical hit rate. Crabhammer is a more powerful Water-type attack than Waterfall, but has lower accuracy, making it a less reliable option. Payback can hit hard on the switch, but two Crunches will do more on average than two Paybacks, as the second one will be weaker. Endeavor can weaken the opposing Pokemon as a last resort, but Crawdaunt is too slow for it to be effective. Due to its great base 90 Special Attack, Crawdaunt could use special attacks such as Surf, Ice Beam, Dark Pulse, and Hidden Power Grass to surprise its foes. However, running a pure special attacking set would make Crawdaunt quite inferior to the physical sets once the surprise has been shown, and utilizing a mixed set causes Crawdaunt to spread its EVs in three different locations, which greatly degrades Crawdaunt's ability to sweep.
Crawdaunt's ability is a matter of personal preference. Shell Armor prevents critical hits, allowing Crawdaunt to switch in on moves such as Night Slash and Shadow Claw with near impunity, while Hyper Cutter prevents Intimidate users like Hitmontop and Arcanine from lowering Crawdaunt's damage output. As Shell Armor is purely based on luck, Hyper Cutter is usually the preferred choice overall when it comes to sweeping.
Checks and Counters
Crawdaunt's list of bona-fide counters in UU is actually fairly small. Toxicroak and Poliwrath have very little to fear from Crawdaunt, with Aerial Ace being the only move that Crawdaunt has to land a super effective blow, while they can easily outspeed and KO Crawdaunt in return with a super effective Fighting attack. Weezing can simply switch into Crawdaunt and threaten it with Will-O-Wisp or Thunderbolt. Tangrowth and Leafeon fear almost nothing from Crawdaunt, and can OHKO it with STAB Grass attacks, although both will have to worry about taking heavy damage from boosted X-Scissor. Hitmontop can use Mach Punch to smash Crawdaunt, provided it switches in on the right move. Crawdaunt's biggest weaknesses are its low Speed and poor defenses, making it easy to revenge kill. A faster Pokemon wielding a Choice Scarf, or a Pokemon with Fighting-type priority moves, can easily finish off a weakened Crawdaunt.