Porygon-Z was vastly over-hyped in the early stages of the 4th generation, claiming to be the only Pokemon that could OHKO Blissey with a special attack after just one turn of set-up. However, it soon fell into obscurity because of its average Speed and lack of resistances. With a couple of new move tutor attacks and some newly discovered sets, it is once more worth looking at for a slot on your team. Boasting the highest non-uber Special Attack in the game and a 160 Base Power Tri Attack (factoring in Adaptability and STAB), Porygon-Z is a potent addition to any team that can be tailored to its needs; it can 2HKO any Pokemon in the game after one Nasty Plot boost.
With Choice Specs equipped, Porygon-Z's Special Attack stat goes through the roof, reaching a whopping 607. Coupled with a 160 BP Tri Attack or a +1 Special Attack boost, it can mow down almost anything not named Blissey. Dark Pulse tears into any Ghost-type Pokemon, OHKOing all of them except Dusknoir and Spiritomb. Hidden Power Ground, boosted by Choice Specs, 2HKOes 4/0 Tyranitar with Stealth Rock on the field and hits all the Steel- and Rock-type Pokemon that resist Tri Attack hard. If you plan on running a Timid nature, Hidden Power Fighting may be used instead, as it gives the added bonus of OHKOing 4/0 Tyranitar.
Though it may be tempting to run Hyper Beam on this set just for the power it provides, it's nearly always a bad choice. In today's metagame, it only takes one turn for many of the top sweepers, such as Lucario, to set up and then OHKO you and possibly the rest of your team—and that's only if they don't just kill you outright while you're recharging! Tri Attack provides a much more reliable STAB move and is many times more forgiving if you fail to predict accurately.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Agility trades the power of Nasty Plot for much-needed Speed. Offensive teams may struggle to keep up. At +2 Speed, even Choice Scarf Flygon is outsped and taken out by Ice Beam. Hidden Power Ground deals a hefty 65% minimum to Choice Scarf Tyranitar with a Download boost, so with residual damage it should also be taken care of. The main reasons to use Hidden Power Ground, however, are Heatan and Magnezone. Hidden Power Fire is a lesser alternative, which gives you the power to OHKO Scizor as well as Skarmory, while 2HKOing Bronzong. If you know a Scizor is going to switch in, you can use it before Porygon-Z boosts with Agility to avoid Bullet Punch.
The EVs guarantee Porygon-Z after an Agility to be faster than 100s holding a Choice Scarf. Special Attack is maxed and the rest of the EVs are put into Hit Points. Scizor's Bullet Punch will do 74% maximum to Porygon-Z with the given EVs, but will still KO after Stealth Rock and two turns of Life Orb damage. To avoid being knocked out by Life Orb damage, you may opt to give this digital duck a Lum Berry or even Leftovers.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Once the flagship Porygon-Z set, the Nasty Plot sweeper has become a lot less useful due to Scizor and the ubiquity of Choice Scarf Pokemon. It still wields fearsome power, and can sweep an unprepared team. It's very simple to use and can 2HKO any Pokemon in the entire game after just one boost. Like on every other set, Tri Attack is Porygon-Z's most reliable STAB attack, while Dark Pulse hits Ghost-types, and Hidden Power Fighting hits Rock- and Steel-types for super effective damage. The biggest letdown is Porygon-Z's middling Speed. Base 90 Speed is outrun by a lot in OU. This makes it difficult to sweep some of the faster teams, but it is by no means a useless set.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Porygon-Z has a fairly large special attacking movepool; however, Tri Attack is so powerful that you should only consider moves that complement its type coverage. For the most part, you should be trying to hit Ghost-, Rock-, and Steel-types; Tri Attack will deal with everything else. Because of this, ignore moves such as Psychic, Signal Beam, SolarBeam, and Zap Cannon. Thunderbolt and Ice Beam have good coverage together, but are only useful on the Choice sets. Hyper Beam is a deadly suicide move, one that can even OHKO Blissey if a Modest Porygon-Z has a Nasty Plot and a Life Orb. However, it is difficult to find a moveslot for this attack.
Porygon-Z has an interesting support movepool as well, thanks to its more defensive pre-evolution, Porygon2. It includes Trick Room, Thunder Wave, Magnet Rise, Recycle, and more. They are better left to other Pokemon, as Porygon-Z packs so much power that it's better to spend your time destroying your targets instead of attempting to cripple them with status or play mind games. Conversion can be used with Dark Pulse and Nasty Plot (and a fourth move like Substitute, Recover, or another attack). Adaptability will make Dark Pulse as powerful as Tri Attack would once Porygon-Z is a Dark-type. The strategy takes two turns to set up, though: one to Conversion, making Porygon-Z a Dark-type (with STAB Adaptability Dark Pulse), and another to Nasty Plot, so you can do some damage. Using just Normal- and Dark-type moves will guarantee Conversion's turning you into a Dark-type. However, you can take a gamble and use a second attacking move as well.
Both of Porygon-Z's abilities are very potent and make it a dangerous special sweeper. Adaptability boosts the power of Tri Attack from 120 to 160 effective Base Power, giving it a considerable punch even when resisted. Download is recommended on the Choice sets, however. This is because Download boosts the power of all your special attacks by 1.5x if your target has lower Special Defense than Defense. Since you can only use one move, and it might not be Tri Attack, it is better to have that boost on your other moves as well. It is also interesting to note that a Download boosted Tri Attack is more powerful than an Adaptability boosted Tri Attack by 12%. This advantage is moot after a Nasty Plot, however. On Nasty Plot sets, Adaptability is far superior, because after one or two boosts, Tri Attack will destroy even Pokemon that resist it. On sets where you have no other means of boosting your Special Attack, use Download.
Checks and Counters
Porygon-Z can 2HKO anything in the game after a Nasty Plot, even Blissey, but often you only need to get one hit on it to knock Porygon-Z out. Its lack of resistances as a Normal-type and its average Speed make it easier to handle than it might appear. The fact that it is weak to both Vacuum Wave and Mach Punch helps, too.
Blissey is your best bet for countering Porygon-Z, especially ones with Toxic. Scizor with Bullet Punch can chase it away quite easily and come in on a resisted attack, and Lucario can use Vacuum Wave or ExtremeSpeed. Gengar can outrun Porygon-Z and use Focus Blast for a quick kill. Scarfed Heatran is a suitable revenge killer as well, with resistances to Tri Attack, Ice Beam, and Dark Pulse. Choice Scarf Tyranitar is in a similar boat to that of Heatran, but can Pursuit Porygon-Z as well. Basically take advantage of its average Speed and hit it with whatever you can. If you are bold enough, you can switch in a Pokemon such as Infernape or Gengar on Porygon-Z to outspeed and OHKO as it uses Nasty Plot.
The other sets are much easier to handle. Bulky Pokemon like Scizor, Metagross, and Tyranitar can switch in and scare them away, though Tyranitar must watch out for Hidden Power Ground, Fighting, or Water. Spiritomb, Dusknoir, and the Rotom formes can all switch in and attack it, but it's important to first find out if Porygon-Z is running Dark Pulse. Nearly anything faster than Porygon-Z that has powerful attacks, such as Azelf, can usually OHKO it or send it running. Paralysis is nearly as crippling to Porygon-Z as being hit by Scizor's Bullet Punch; once its Speed is quartered, there's really no way it's going to sweep.