Kabutops packs quite a punch (or... slash) with dual STAB on Water and Rock, a combination resisted by only a handful of Pokémon. With its STAB Aqua Tail, backed by Swords Dance, Life Orb, and rain, Kabutops can march through anything that does not resist Water, and it can deal with just about everything else with STAB Stone Edge. Kabutops is almost impossible to revenge kill as well—thanks to Swift Swim, Kabutops's Speed doubles in the rain, and it has STAB Aqua Jet to deter common priority users such as Blaziken, Hitmontop, and Absol. Kabutops can also function well outside of rain, as its base 80 Speed is relatively high even without a boost. If Kabutops gains a free turn, it is almost guaranteed at least one kill, especially under rain. One would do well not to underestimate it.
With Swords Dance to back up those great STAB moves and that impressive Attack stat, this version of Kabutops can be a devastating sweeper. Stone Edge and Aqua Tail provide superb coverage, only resisted by Toxicroak, Poliwrath, and Quagsire in UU. Waterfall is a deadly, reliable STAB move that carries a potential flinch chance, and it is the primary option for Kabutops's main STAB move. However, Aqua Tail becomes noticeably more powerful in the rain, where a Swords Dance boosted Aqua Tail OHKOes Miltank, Hitmontop, and Weezing, as well as Registeel and Uxie most of the time. A Swords Dance and Life Orb boosted Aqua Jet is a very potent weapon and can OHKO many fast but frail sweepers, such as Blaziken, Nidoking, Houndoom, and Hitmonlee.
If you want some more coverage on Kabutops, you can swap Aqua Jet for one of several coverage moves, though this is not recommended since Aqua Jet's safeguard against priority is far more valuable than covering certain niche Pokemon. X-Scissor is perhaps the most notable option to deal slightly more damage to two of Kabutops's deadliest foes—Slowbro and Tangrowth—although it barely out-damages STAB Stone Edge and will not come close to OHKOing either without a lot of previous damage. On the other hand, Return will 2HKO Poliwrath and Quagsire after a Swords Dance, both of whom Kabutops cannot beat otherwise.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Moderate defensive ability and great attacking power make Kabutops a reliable lead. One of its main selling points is its ability to almost always be able to set up Stealth Rock at the beginning of the match. The most common Taunt lead, Ambipom, cannot touch Kabutops with its STAB moves and takes heavy damage in return, though you must beware of variants with Low Kick.
Stone Edge is a solid attacking choice that will OHKO Moltres and 2HKO Cloyster, Qwilfish, Mesprit, and Spiritomb. A Stone Edge combined with an Aqua Jet will finish off Intimidate Arcanine and Ambipom. Aqua Jet will also handle the occasional Focus Sash lead such as Alakazam, as well as giving Kabutops the ability to revenge kill some Pokemon like Blaziken later in the game. The final slot is not as important as the first two. Rapid Spin is really what differentiates Kabutops from other suicide leads—with it, Kabutops can stop Omastar from setting up more than one layer of Spikes and get rid of the opposing lead's Stealth Rock. On the other hand, Waterfall is a solid and reliable STAB choice that doesn't have Stone Edge's accuracy issues. However, its only real use is on Hippopotas and Nidoqueen, and the utility from Rapid Spin is usually more valuable for a lead.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
The attributes that make Kabutops a successful sweeper—namely, a stellar base 115 Attack and excellent attacking STAB—also make him a great Rapid Spinner. One of the difficulties entailed in Rapid Spinning is eliminating the Ghost-types who switch in to block Rapid Spin, and while most other UU spinners are walled by common spinblockers, Kabutops can hit every Ghost in the UU tier for solid, neutral damage with his STAB Stone Edge. Offensive Ghost-types such as Rotom and Mismagius are KOed by a combination of Stone Edge and Aqua Jet, and even the most defensive Spiritomb is 2HKOed by a +2 Stone Edge. In most cases, an opponent will have to risk losing a Pokemon to Kabutops in order to successfully preserve his or her entry hazards.
Stone Edge is Kabutops's strongest STAB option and is therefore absolutely necessary on this set. Aqua Jet provides excellent additional coverage and is invaluable as a priority move. In addition to finishing off weakened Mismagius and Rotom, Aqua Jet protects Kabutops from Dugtrio and allows Kabutops to pick off weakened or frail Pokemon such as Houndoom. Swords Dance enables Kabutops to beat Dusclops and Spiritomb, who will otherwise drain all of Stone Edge's PP with Pressure. It also lets Kabutops threaten a sweep and prevents other defensive Pokemon such as Milotic from walling him. Waterfall is not as useful without rain support, but it is an option over Swords Dance to hit the likes of Rhyperior, Steelix, and Donphan.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Kabutops's mediocre typing and Speed ensure that it will have a difficult time setting up on most of the metagame. A Choice Band set tries to amend these problems. Stone Edge will make Venusaur think twice about switching in, as those without any investment in Defense take 95% minimum. Kabutops's main Water-typed attack will score a super effective hit on most Ground-types trying to switch in on Stone Edge. Aqua Jet enables Kabutops to revenge kill faster, weakened Pokemon such as Arcanine and Houndoom. For its final moveslot, Return gives a nice neutral attack that has the added advantage of being able to hit Toxicroak, Poliwrath, and Quagsire.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Being weak to the ever popular Close Combat and Earthquake means that Kabutops's good Defense stat is somewhat wasted. In fact, you are better off specializing in Special Defense and running Sand Stream to capitalize on Kabutops's resistances to Ice and Fire, as well as improving its ability to take Surf from bulky Water-types.
This Kabutops can act as a pretty decent Rapid Spinner, mainly because of surprise factor. Pokemon like Venusaur and Hitmontop are more often the first switch-ins to Kabutops than Ghost-types like Spiritomb. Also, once your opponent catches on to the set, Kabutops can remove the spinblocker's Leftovers with a well-timed Knock Off, which, combined with sandstorm support, will significantly decrease its longevity. Stealth Rock is also a support option, but Hippopotas, the only Sand Stream Pokemon in UU, has access to it anyway. If you are using Kabutops outside of sandstorm, however, Stealth Rock is usually a better option than Knock Off for support.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Waterfall and Aqua Tail are the competing STAB Water-type moves on all sets, and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Waterfall's primary advantages are its 20% flinch rate and 100% accuracy. The increased accuracy means that Waterfall is much more reliable on frailer opponents that both Waterfall and Aqua Tail will KO anyway. However, Kabutops will need Stealth Rock support to ensure the guaranteed OHKOs under rain on Miltank, Hitmontop, Weezing, and Registeel on the Swords Dance set with Waterfall, whereas it is not needed with Aqua Tail. The difference in power becomes much more apparent on the Choice Band set. For example, under rain Aqua Tail has a 90% chance (due to accuracy) to OHKO 252 HP / 252 Defense Impish Hitmontop after Intimidate, whereas Waterfall only has a 51% chance, even with the possibility of a flinch. It is up to you to make the choice between power and reliability.
A +2 Aqua Tail, even in rain, has only a minuscule chance to OHKO max HP/max Defense Impish Registeel. Low Kick is therefore an option,as it will always OHKO the Steel-type behemoth with a Swords Dance boost. Natural Gift and a Liechi Berry provides an 80 Base Power Grass-type attack to maim Quagsire with. A Lum Berry can be handy on the Swords Dance set, so Kabutops's sweep isn't ruined by paralysis or burn. This is especially useful against the likes of Weezing and Uxie. Lastly, Kabutops can set up Rain Dance itself, but it generally needs the moveslot more than other Rain Dance sweepers such as Gorebyss, Omastar, or Ludicolo.
With the exception of the Support set, Kabutops should always max out Attack. For the Swords Dance set, 242 Speed (184 EVs, Adamant) is the recommended minimum to outrun positive base 60 Speed Pokemon. Kabutops can also aim for 250 (216 EVs) and 256 (240 EVs) Speed to beat Adamant Absol and Feraligatr, respectively. Kabutops can also run max Speed to tie with other base 80s, such as Gardevoir and Altaria. If you are supporting Kabutops with rain, 136 Speed EVs is probably the minimum amount of Speed you should invest. Those EVs give Kabutops a Speed stat of 230, which beats Timid Scarf Moltres in the rain. Other useful investments are 144 EVs, for Timid Scarf Rotom and 168 EVs, for Scarfed +nature base 95s.
Checks and Counters
Under rain, there isn't much that can stop Swords Dance Kabutops without relying on a low damage roll or a Stone Edge miss. Quagsire and Poliwrath are the best options; they 2HKO Kabutops with Earthquake and Brick Break, respectively, and Kabutops's +2 Stone Edge only musters a 3HKO on max HP/max Defense Quagsire and Poliwrath. However, both must be wary of Return, which will always 2HKO after a Swords Dance. Slowbro and Tangrowth take massive damage from a boosted Stone Edge or X-Scissor but will survive both attacks and OHKO Kabutops with Grass Knot or Power Whip. Both must invest heavily in HP and Defense to do so, though.
In the absence of rain, Kabutops is a bit easier to stop, as many Pokemon are no longer KOed by a boosted Aqua Tail or Waterfall. Fighting-types such as Hariyama and Intimidate Hitmontop can take any of Kabutops's assaults and OHKO with powerful STAB attacks. Registeel, Miltank, and Uxie can cripple Kabutops with Thunder Wave. Milotic cannot take a boosted Stone Edge, but in the absence of Swords Dance can cripple Kabutops with Surf or Hidden Power Grass. Offensive variants can also switch in on Swords Dance, outrun Kabutops, and OHKO it with Hidden Power Grass.
When the skies are clear, a lack of Speed will also hurt Kabutops. Toxicroak can switch in on any move, outspeed Kabutops, and KO with Cross Chop. Venusaur works in the same manner, although it must take care not to switch in on Stone Edge, especially not one boosted by Choice Band.