The first thing you may notice about this odd-looking Pokemon is its correspondingly odd Poison/Dark typing. This typing is critical to much of Drapion's success, both as a sweeper and as a defensive utility counter. Offensively, the Dark subtype grants a great offensive STAB, which in turn complements Drapion's nice movepool. Defensively, Drapion's Dark subtype gives it useful resistances to Ghost-, Psychic-, and Dark-type attacks, while its Poison subtype neutralizes the Fighting-type coverage attacks typically used by Pokemon with those STABs and offers resistances to Grass- and Poison-type attacks. This Pokemon is not a common sight in UU, but don't let that fool you—Drapion is very good at what it does, both as a sweeper and as a defensive stronghold.
Drapion has solid Speed and Attack stats backed up by Swords Dance and great offensive moves, making it a dangerous UU sweeper. After Drapion sets up a Swords Dance, either on weak attackers such as Chansey or against switching Ghost- and Psychic-types, it can use its high Speed and excellent type coverage to terrorize the tier.
Crunch has excellent neutral coverage, so it is Drapion's preferred move for sweeping. Earthquake hits many of the UU Pokemon who resist Dark, including Registeel, Aggron, and Blaziken, for super effective damage. All of the remaining Dark resisters are hit for at least neutral damage. While these two moves provide nice coverage, there are some Pokemon who will wall the combination due to sheer defensive stats. Chief among these are bulky Ground-types, who can threaten Drapion with Earthquake. Aqua Tail helps alleviate this problem, as it OHKOes Rhyperior and can OHKO Donphan after a tiny bit of residual damage.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
It may seem like a shame not to use Swords Dance, but Drapion's access to Pursuit makes an all-out attacking set viable. Drapion has several qualities that distinguish it from other common Pursuit users. First, a neutrality to Fighting-type attacks means that Drapion performs better against Alakazam's Focus Blast and Mismagius's Hidden Power Fighting. Second, its relatively high Speed—greater than that of Rotom—allows Drapion to fire off attacks before it is hit by nasty status effects, especially burn. Finally, an expansive movepool with great coverage means Drapion has lots of team utility beyond just using Pursuit.
Pursuit and Crunch are obvious moves on this set. Pursuit lets Drapion perform its trapping duties, and Crunch gives it a reliable STAB attack. Earthquake provides the best coverage with Crunch, as it hits Steel-types super effectively and Fighting-types neutrally. Aqua Tail washes away Rhyperior and hits Donphan harder than any of Drapion's other attacks, but only Ice Fang will 2HKO physically bulky Torterra.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This variation from the standard Swords Dance set focuses on obtaining more than one Swords Dance with the help of a bulky EV spread. Drapion's typing allows it to set up on specially-inclined sweepers such as Mismagius, Rotom, and Choiced Alakazam, as well as against weak walls such as Weezing, Chansey, and Slowbro. However, the lack of Attack investment and Life Orb makes Drapion more vulnerable to its typical counters. Thorough scouting and well-timed setup is required for this set to function at its best.
Taunt allows Drapion to shut down common checks, including Registeel, Weezing, and Spiritomb, by preventing them from using status moves. It also stops Milotic from using Haze, and Blastoise from using Roar. This gives Drapion more chances to use Swords Dance and keep boosting its Attack. Crunch and Earthquake provide optimal coverage alongside each other. Protect may seem like an odd choice, but it can PP stall attacks such as Hitmontop's Close Combat, and is also very useful to garner Drapion additional Leftovers recovery.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Although Drapion has mediocre Special Defense, its resistances to Ghost-, Dark-, Grass-, and Poison-type attacks along with an immunity to Psychic-type attacks make a specially defensive set quite useful. It serves as a hard stop to offensive Mismagius, Rotom, Uxie, Mesprit, special Venusaur, and most Alakazam.
Crunch provides a reliable STAB attack that hits most Ghost- and Psychic-types super effectively. Drapion takes minimal damage from most attacks these Pokemon use—with perhaps the exception of Alakazam's Life Orb Focus Blast—meaning it has lots of free turns to abuse. These can be used to Whirlwind the opposing team, quickly racking up residual damage.
The choice of moves in the last two slots depends on what role you want Drapion to serve. Using Toxic Spikes along with either Taunt or Knock Off gives Drapion more versatility, but using Rest and Sleep Talk gives it much greater longevity. Toxic Spikes are effective at wearing down many grounded sweepers and walls despite the popularity of grounded Poison-types in UU. Taunt stops walls from using their recovery moves and from setting up entry hazards. Knock Off eliminates Leftovers, Life Orb, and Choice items, making both walls and sweepers easier to handle. Finally, if you really want to use Toxic Spikes without giving up Drapion's recovery, running Rest without Sleep Talk is a viable option as long as you have a cleric on the same team.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Drapion can make an effective lead, as it possesses the ability to shut down set-up leads with Taunt and set up Toxic Spikes against them. It can also outspeed and deal massive damage to, if not OHKO, common UU threats such as Rotom and Blaziken, giving it considerable use outside of the lead position.
Drapion can outspeed and Taunt common leads such as Uxie, Mesprit, and Spritomb, essentially preventing them from functioning as a lead. It can then proceed to set up Toxic Spikes, as the aforementioned leads cannot hurt Drapion. Aside from that, Drapion can make use of powerful attacks in Crunch and Earthquake. Crunch has STAB, and is Drapion's primary attack, hitting common leads such as Uxie and Mesprit for super effective damage. Earthquake provides good coverage when paired with Crunch, hitting Electrode, Houndoom, Qwilfish, and Steel-type Pokemon that resist Crunch for super effective damage. Lum Berry prevents Drapion from being crippled by status from the likes of Mismagius, Venusaur, Jumpluff, and Butterfree.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Most sets should invest fully in two stats and place the remaining EVs in HP or Defense. Defensive sets do not have any particular Speed benchmarks to worry about, while offensive sets usually derive more benefit from max Attack and Speed than from any minimal defensive investment. The one exception is on the bulky Swords Dance set, which should maximize HP, pick a Speed benchmark, then place the remaining EVs into Special Defense. 224 Speed EVs beat similarly natured base 91 and 90 Pokemon (Rotom and Moltres), 176 Speed EVs beat similarly natured base 85 Pokemon (Toxicroak and Pinsir), and 136 Speed EVs beat similarly natured base 80 Pokemon (Venusaur and Kabutops). A Jolly nature and 44 Speed will outpace neutral-natured base 80 Pokemon; this is more efficient than Careful with 136 Speed because Drapion's base Speed stat is higher than its base Special Defense stat.
Shed Shell is an option on all of Drapion's sets if Dugtrio is a problem, but the offensive sets will miss the Life Orb boost, while defensive sets will miss Leftovers recovery. The set that loses the least from using Shed Shell is probably the RestTalk set, since it has an alternative way to recover its HP. Payback can also be used on defensive sets since it guarantees the OHKO on sweeper Mismagius and Rotom without Stealth Rock. Crunch is usually a superior option, though, as it will still deal near fatal damage to those two while sporting higher PP and more reliable power.
A set with Rest, Sleep Talk, Acupressure, and Crunch can be tricky to stop if Drapion hits the right boosts early in its setup. It's not reliable enough to beat most of Drapion's standard hard counters, though.
Checks and Counters
Drapion's typical counters are physically bulky Pokemon, especially ones with a resistance to Dark-type moves or access to Ground-type moves. Whether a specific Pokemon can counter Drapion also depends on the Drapion set in question. Life Orb Drapion is quickly worn down by Intimidate Hitmontop, but the bulky Swords Dance set will simply set up additional Swords Dances on Hitmontop before KOing it with the help of Close Combat's Defense drops. Bulky Ground-type Pokemon such as Donphan, Rhyperior, Steelix, and Torterra have high Defense and STAB Earthquake. If Drapion packs Aqua Tail, though, Donphan and Rhyperior with offensive spreads will get mauled, and if Drapion has Ice Fang, Torterra will be in trouble. However, Donphan and Rhyperior who invest heavily in HP and Defense will survive as long as they are high on health. Unfortunately for Torterra, it can't survive a boosted Ice Fang even if it has max Defense—it must hope that Drapion neglects Ice Fang in favor of Aqua Tail to hit the more common Donphan and Rhyperior. Standard Steelix has nothing to fear from Drapion since it has an astronomical 200 base Defense, making it the most reliable Ground-type counter. If Drapion uses a bulkier set, its lower immediate power makes all of these Ground-types great counters.
Several other Pokemon can beat Life Orb Drapion by virtue of unique abilities or moves. Note that the bulky Swords Dance set with Taunt can shut down many of these strategies since they are based on moves that aren't direct attacks. Weezing and Spiritomb who pack heavy investments in Defense survive Crunch cleanly and can cripple Drapion with Will-O-Wisp. Milotic with Haze can stall Drapion with Life Orb recoil for a few turns and finish it off with Surf (which hits Drapion's much lower Special Defense stat), but this is a tad unreliable due to the higher chance of Drapion firing off critical hits. Tangrowth has Leech Seed and Sleep Powder at its disposal to disrupt Drapion, and it can also recover HP through Synthesis and hit Drapion with Earthquake. In general, bulkier teams need to use a bit of intelligent switching if they want to beat Drapion without losing part of their valuable defensive core.
Offensive teams have an easier time revenge killing Drapion because it has a prominent Earthquake weakness, mediocre Special Defense, and no priority attacks. Tauros is the best offensive switch-in to Drapion since it can buffer attacks with Intimidate, outpace Drapion, and OHKO with Earthquake. Other fast Pokemon such as Swellow, Scyther, Ambipom, and Manectric also check Drapion, but they should be careful not to switch into Crunch. Funnily enough, due to Drapion's naturally low Special Defense, Alakazam easily checks Swords Dance Drapion—if its Focus Blast hits. Offensive Hariyama boasts a resistance to Crunch, and it can handle Swords Danced Earthquake well if it's high on health. It may be a good idea to invest a few EVs into Defense, though, as Earthquake can become problematic if Stealth Rock is up and Hariyama is eating Toxic Orb / Flame Orb damage.