Infernape's high Speed and offensive stats make it a perfect sweeper, as it can outpace a large portion of the metagame and utilize its large movepool effectively. Life Orb makes Infernape a powerful sweeper, turning many 2HKOs into OHKOs. With the ability to use both Swords Dance and Nasty Plot, Infernape is aided by its unpredictability and is very difficult to counter without knowing its whole set.
Infernape's main drawback is its frailty. Just about any neutral attack will deal over 70% damage to it, and it will almost never survive a super effective hit. Not being able to handle Starmie and Gengar, two Pokemon who outspeed Infernape, doesn't help much either. Overall, Infernape is still a powerful threat, so underestimate it at your own risk.
While this set may not have the super effective type coverage of the specially-based mix set, it does have several things going for it. Due to its high Base Power, Close Combat becomes quite a bit more damaging than on the special set, and this set's Overheat is very nearly as strong as the special-based set's Fire Blast (less than a 2% difference in damage). Stone Edge makes this set much more deadly against Gyarados, and when also considering the fact that Infernape's Close Combat will easily 2HKO Vaporeon and Milotic after Stealth Rock damage, it is clear that losing Grass Knot is not a huge blow. Mach Punch is a decent option over Stone Edge, ensuring that your team will not be swept by Lucario, and providing some insurance against Dragon Dance Tyranitar, Weavile, and Agility Empoleon as well.
U-turn is really the key to this set, as it ensures that the few Pokemon who can safely switch into this set are dealt with by other members of your team. Additionally, max Attack U-turn allows Infernape to become a versatile early-game attacker, forcing switches to rack up Stealth Rock damage and scout the opponent's team. Keep in mind also that many of the primary switch-ins to Infernape are Flying-types; they will take 25% damage from Stealth Rock as you switch to a counter and force them to come in with under 50% health the next time. Even Starmie, who frequently switches into Infernape, will lose over half its health to U-turn, and you will be able to switch in an appropriate counter.
If you are willing to sacrifice some physical power, you can move 80 EVs from Attack to Special Attack (for a total of 144), and give Infernape Grass Knot instead of U-turn. This will allow Infernape to 2HKO Suicune and Hippowdon, and OHKO Swampert most of the time. In effect, you exchange the scouting ability of U-turn for better coverage, albeit with less physical power.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Infernape's versatility and wide movepool allow it to be a constant threat. This set utilizes Infernape's access to the move Nasty Plot, which doubles its Special Attack stat, and allows it to make the most of its two 120 Base Power STAB attacks. The basis of this set is to use Infernape's ability to force a switch and set up on the free turn. After a Nasty Plot, Infernape has two extremely powerful STAB attacks at its disposal in Fire Blast and Focus Blast. They both have a massive 120 Base Power, but have shaky accuracy at 85% and 70%, respectively. With a Nasty Plot under its belt, Infernape has a chance of OHKOing Gyarados with Fire Blast after it has taken Stealth Rock damage. The last move is up to personal preference, as they both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Vacuum Wave is a STAB attack that can give you priority against Choice Scarf Pokemon, such as Heatran and Tyranitar and enemy priority users such as Lucario. On the other hand, Grass Knot gives you a reliable way to deal with bulky Water-type Pokemon, such as Swampert, Suicune, and Vaporeon, as opposed to relying the inaccurate Focus Blast or an unboosted Close Combat.
If the poor accuracy of Fire Blast and Focus Blast are unfavorable to you, there is always the option of using Flamethrower and Close Combat. Flamethrower is an 100% accurate Fire-type move that comes at the cost of only having 95 Base Power. The lack of damage that this move deals can be made up for with it having the guaranteed hit, but you will miss out on some OHKOs such as against Gyarados. Close Combat is also an option over Focus Blast that can deal with special walls such as Blissey and Snorlax. If you opt for Close Combat, be sure to change the nature to Naive. With it, you will do a minimum of 104% on the standard 24 HP / 252 Def Calm Blissey; beware though, as you will lose the ability to hit bulky Water-type Pokemon unless you opt for Grass Knot as the third choice. However, if you opt for Grass Knot, you lose the ability to OHKO Choice Scarf Tyranitar, Choice Scarf Heatran, and Lucario, all of whom will jump at the opportunity to ruin a sweep.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set is similar to the Nasty Plot set, except that instead of attempting to set up, you drop Nasty Plot in order to gain better coverage with both Grass Knot and Hidden Power Ice. While the previous set is most useful as a wallbreaker against stall teams, this set is more useful against balanced and offensive teams, which often cannot avoid a 2HKO when switching out of this set.
Choosing which moves you keep hidden is a useful trick for this Infernape. If you show your opponent Grass Knot and Fire Blast, they may switch in Dragonite or Flygon, expecting to wall your set, but receiving a swift OHKO via Hidden Power Ice instead. With the Fire-, Fighting-, Grass-, and Ice-type move combination, Infernape attains perfect type coverage; it will deal at least neutral damage to every Pokemon in the game.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This Infernape is the most effective offensive attacking lead packing Fake Out. It is guaranteed to get Stealth Rock up against every common lead, bar Aerodactyl, and all the other leads, besides Hippowdon, will be defeated in the process. The idea is that you Fake Out on the first turn to render the opponent's Focus Sash useless, and then either attack or lay down Stealth Rock as the opponent does the same, while carrying the advantage of still holding Focus Sash. Naive Azelf will always be KOed by Fire Blast, and some other leads, such as Tyranitar and Jirachi, are obviously not great at taking Infernape's attacks.
Fire Blast and Close Combat finish off the set with two powerful, 120 Base Power STAB moves. Focus Sash allows you to easily activate Infernape's Blaze ability, increasing Fire Blast's already massive damage by 50%. Close Combat is not only very powerful, but also has good type coverage together with Fire Blast.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Endeavor and Vacuum Wave, when paired together with Focus Sash, provide an unusual twist to Infernape's mixed sweeper stats. After it sets up Stealth Rock, the fragile Infernape will likely take a hit which would be lethal, but Focus Sash will leave it at 1 HP. Endeavor will bring the opponent's Pokemon to 1 HP, and it can then be quickly dispatched with Vacuum Wave. Even if Infernape is KOed in the process, you can easily send out a faster Pokemon or one with a priority move to finish off the severely damaged foe. Note that if the opponent's Pokemon is faster than Infernape, then you must use Endeavor on the same turn that Infernape is attacked. You must also watch out for Hippowdon, Tyranitar, and Abomasnow, who will set up damaging weather, which will KO Infernape on the turn it takes damage.
Mach Punch may not seem like a bad idea, but the split in EVs that is needed to boost the power of both Mach Punch and Overheat / Fire Blast will cause Infernape to lose crucial OHKOs, most notably against opposing leads such as Bronzong, which is why Vacuum Wave is recommended. It should be mentioned that Vacuum Wave lacks the power to 2HKO max HP / 0 SpD Tyranitar; though Tyranitar will likely not stay in on Infernape anyway. Additionally, Overheat is recommended over Fire Blast; despite the power drop it causes, it allows Vacuum Wave to KO most Bronzong after a single Fire-type attack.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With a physical 120 Base Power STAB move (and maybe even two with Flare Blitz), Swords Dance Infernape is a major threat in terms of both sweeping and wallbreaking. After a Swords Dance, Close Combat will OHKO both Vaporeon and 252 HP / 0 Def Tentacruel, assuming Stealth Rock is in play, and Stone Edge will take out Dragonite, Gyarados, and Zapdos. Since all of these are common Infernape switch-ins, you usually will not have to worry about them switching out of your lethal attacks.
Flare Blitz can be a useful choice if you want to use Infernape for wallbreaking, but overall, Fire Punch is better since it scores the same OHKOs after a Swords Dance without causing recoil. Fire Punch easily OHKOes anything that it deals super effective damage to after a Swords Dance, and Close Combat and Stone Edge will clean up everything else. While Stone Edge is preferred for coverage, Mach Punch should really not be overlooked as an option. Mach Punch ensures that your team will not be swept by Swords Dance Lucario; it also has a chance to OHKO Heatran and will always OHKO Dugtrio after a Swords Dance, and it is generally useful for taking down random fast Pokemon as well as Choice Scarf users at low HP.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Like most Choice Band users, the set requires a lot of prediction, but the potential payoff is huge. Almost no Pokemon in OU can avoid a 2HKO from either Close Combat or Flare Blitz without resisting it, and everything that resists both of those is taken out by Stone Edge. U-turn allows Infernape to scout the opponent's team, deal some Stealth Rock damage as the opponent switches, and hit common switch-ins such as Starmie and Cresselia for super effective damage.
ThunderPunch is an option over Stone Edge or U-turn if you really do not like Gyarados, but the loss of scouting ability from U-turn or the loss of coverage from Stone Edge is significant. Additionally, a 75 Base Power Electric-type attack is a dangerous thing to be locked into, since even Pokemon who do not carry resistance or immunity take little damage, and they can use the opportunity to set up. As with previous sets, Mach Punch can also be used if you're in need of insurance against Lucario.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Choice Scarf turns Infernape into a potent revenge killer, with fantastic type coverage from its four attacks. Hidden Power Ice will OHKO Dragonite and Flygon, and Choice Scarf gives Infernape the Speed to make that an option, even after Dragonite has Dragon Danced or if Flygon has a Choice Scarf. Close Combat will 2HKO Blissey and Heatran, and easily OHKO any Tyranitar. U-turn is a great move, allowing you to scout what your opponent switches to, as well as hit Starmie for super effective damage. If you want to deal a bit more damage to the bulky Waters-types who commonly switch into Infernape, then Grass Knot is also a valid option.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Vacuum Wave is a decent option on special sets; however, most of what is faster than Infernape, bar Weavile, is not weak to Fighting and the loss of coverage by opting for Vacuum Wave is very significant. Mach Punch can OHKO Dugtrio on the Swords Dance version about 50% of the time, almost all of the time with Stealth Rock, and all of the time if you're holding Life Orb. 232 EVs in Speed with a Speed boosting nature allows you to outspeed Adamant Dugtrio already, although most Dugtrio use Jolly for this very reason. Either of the Fighting-type priority attacks will deal about 70% damage to Lucario, and hit before it can use ExtremeSpeed, so if your team has major Lucario problems then one of those may be a good idea.
Focus Blast is available on the special sets and can OHKO Blissey with a Nasty Plot and Life Orb, but the 70% accuracy is a major turn-off, especially with the 100% accurate Close Combat as an option. Flare Blitz and Blaze Kick are interchangeable on the sets that use either; Flare Blitz has more power and full accuracy, while Blaze Kick does not cause recoil damage to Infernape's already low HP.
Infernape learns Encore, and can sometimes use it to get free stat-ups. However, Infernape's fantastic coverage forces so many switches anyway that using Encore just to get a free turn is really a waste of a moveslot, and if you Encore on one of those frequent switches you will have wasted a turn as well.
An all special, four attack Life Orb set without a Fighting-type attack can have some surprise value, as no one in their right mind will switch Tyranitar and Blissey into Infernape anyway, but overall the loss of Close Combat is too heavy. Despite hitting many Pokemon for super effective damage, the set misses quite a few OHKOs, and with Infernape's poor defenses and only 104 base Special Attack, it is better suited to strategic wallbreaking than trying to muscle through teams. Choice Specs is a viable option on Infernape; however, it is considered inferior to most of its other movesets.
Infernape is a Pokémon in its own speed tier, and thus does not need to run max Speed to outspeed all threats. That having been said, given Infernape's fragility, there is no real reason to not max Speed on an all physical or special set, since Infernape is not likely to survive more hits with a few extra Hit Points, and that Speed may come in useful in the event of a mirror match or against random Choice Scarf Pokémon. The exceptions to this rule are the mixed sweeping sets, which drop down to 192 Speed EVs to score some key KOes and deal more damage in general. The only Pokemon whom Infernape will then fail to outspeed are Mismagius and other Infernape.
Checks and Counters
Water-types are the most common counters to Infernape. Here, the lighter the Pokemon, the better, as that means Grass Knot does less damage. Suicune's high all-around stats make it a great counter; however, like Milotic, it needs a reasonable Special Defense investment to take on Nasty Plot Life Orb Grass Knots. Gyarados can take on any Infernape which does not carry Stone Edge or ThunderPunch, but it needs a high HP investment to not be taken down by Grass Knot if your opponent has Stealth Rock in play. Vaporeon is a great Pokemon to switch into Infernape; not only does it have naturally high HP and decent Special Defense, but it is very light, causing only 60 Base Power from Grass Knot. Tentacruel is the best counter to one of the most common sets, the Nasty Plot sweeper, with a resistance to Flamethrower and Close Combat and high Special Defense to take neutral Grass Knots. Starmie is also a useful switch-in, as it is faster than and OHKOes Infernape, and can Recover off any damage taken in the process.
Dragonite resists nearly every move the typical Infernape has. However, Infernape is faster and sometimes carries Hidden Power Ice for the sole purpose of taking down the popular Dragon.
If you are sure that Infernape is physical or holding a Choice item, then Hippowdon and Swampert can take on Infernape. However, Infernape usually opts to use Grass Knot, so neither is a good initial switch-in.
Dugtrio can trap and kill Infernape, but you must be sure to use Jolly or you may be outsped. Dugtrio also cannot switch into any attack aside from ThunderPunch or Stone Edge, so it will usually need to come in on Nasty Plot, after Infernape KOs something, or by predicting Infernape's switch-in.
Azelf can come in on anything but Fire Blast or Flare Blitz and OHKO Infernape with Psychic. Aerodactyl isn't weak to any of Infernape's common attacks, and it has enough defenses to survive one good hit as it comes in, outspeeds thanks to 130 base Speed, and OHKOes Infernape with Earthquake.
Moltres, by virtue of its typing, resists both of Infernape's STAB attacks and Grass Knot, and will take little from Hidden Power Ice as well. It can come in on most Infernape and scare it off with the threat of Air Slash. The only thing that Moltres fears is Stone Edge from physical Infernape, but if it is losing half of its health to Stealth Rock on the switch in, Infernape can usually overpower it with resisted attacks.
With max HP, Cresselia cannot be OHKOed by Infernape even if it uses Nasty Plot or Swords Dance as Cresselia comes in; however, Cresselia will have little effect on Infernape without Psychic or Thunder Wave. Togekiss has the defenses to take a Nasty Plotted Fire Blast or a Close Combat and can OHKO back with Air Slash. It needs 252 HP, 120 Special Defense, and a Calm nature to survive Nasty Plot Life Orb Fire Blast from Naive Infernape 100% of the time.
Infernape is extremely frail, so it has difficulties switching in except after one of its team members faints. As long as you are throwing out attacks that Infernape doesn't resist, it won't find time to come in. Additionally, if Infernape gets paralyzed, it will be of little use, so anything with Thunder Wave or Stun Spore can severely reduce Infernape's effectiveness.