Once upon a time, Raikou was one of the most dominant special attackers in the entire game, and ignoring it would be PokeSuicide. Unfortunately, that time is long since past in the ADV metagame. With the addition of Choice Scarf, Toxic Spikes, and monstrously powerful attackers such as Heatran, Raikou has been largely left in the dust in DPP. However, it's not all grim for Raikou. While Raikou faces stiff competition both as an Electric-type attacker and as a Calm Mind user, it's still more than adept at both, and with the addition of coverage moves such as the now-special Shadow Ball and Aura Sphere, Raikou still has all the tools it needs to be a top threat this go around.
This is a pretty straightforward set, and still one of Raikou's most lethal. After a Calm Mind, Raikou's looking at 493 Special Attack, which becomes even scarier when backed by a Life Orb and STAB Thunderbolt. There are very few Pokemon that can come in on this beast once it's gotten a Calm Mind up, and with Calm Mind's boost to Raikou's already solid 100 base Special Defense, the opponent is essentially limited to checking Raikou with physical Pokemon, allowing it to sweep unprepared or worn down teams with impunity.
The choice of Thunderbolt here is obvious, as after STAB, Life Orb, and a Calm Mind, it's pretty hard to survive it unless you resist it or your name is Blissey or Snorlax. Shadow Ball provides important type coverage, hitting Rotom-A and Celebi hard, as well as dealing significant damage to neutral targets. Hidden Power Grass is mainly used for smacking Swampert around, though it's also effective against other Ground-types such as Hippowdon and Mamoswine. Hidden Power Fighting is a viable alternative if you're not afraid of Swampert, as it hits Tyranitar extremely hard. The standard Choice Band Tyranitar is OHKOed 100% of the time after Stealth Rock by Hidden Power Fighting, and with solid prediction, Raikou can also nail Choice Scarf variants for serious damage on the switch.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With the combination of Substitute and Calm Mind, Raikou can set up on the bulky Water- and Grass-types that are commonly found on many teams, such as Vaporeon, Milotic, Celebi, and Shaymin that lack Earth Power. Substitute also allows Raikou to avoid status ailments and Trick, which can give it even more chances to set up.
With Substitute and Calm Mind, this set only has room for a single coverage move. The most effective choices for this slot are Hidden Power Ice and Hidden Power Grass. Electric and Ice provide excellent two-move coverage, and Hidden Power Ice's poor Base Power is supplemented by this set's ability to set up multiple Calm Minds. Hidden Power Ice also easily defeats Flygon, which is a common Raikou switch-in, and Substitute guarantees that Raikou can KO Flygon before it gets hit by Earthquake. However, Hidden Power Grass is an effective option and hits Swampert, which effectively walls Hidden Power Ice variants.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With its excellent Special Attack, solid type coverage, and priority in the form of ExtremeSpeed, Raikou can serve as an extremely effective attacking lead. This lead is designed to pose a significant offensive threat from the first turn onward, forcing opponents to decide whether entry hazards are worth facing a 100% Raikou. Thunderbolt serves as the primary STAB move, and with maxed Special Attack and a Rash nature, it hits like a truck. Thunderbolt easily puts most faster leads into KO range for ExtremeSpeed, while many slower leads, such as Heatran and Metagross, are 2HKOed with ease. Hidden Power Ice covers most Pokemon resistant to or immune to Thunderbolt, including Celebi, Shaymin, Gliscor, Dragonite, and Flygon. The last slot is up to personal preference. Extrasensory is the preferred option, as while it provides largely redundant coverage, it OHKOes Breloom and guarantees a 2HKO on Machamp and Roserade. The flinch chance can also prove valuable, as getting an Extrasensory flinch on either Roserade or Machamp lets you beat them without taking any damage at all. Shadow Ball is your best option against Rotom-A, and also guarantees victory against bulkier Azelf leads. Finally, Aura Sphere hits Tyranitar and Mamoswine, and also gives Raikou a more powerful option against Heatran.
One of the big advantages of this set is that despite the need to run a Special Defense reducing nature, Raikou is still incredibly bulky. Its 90/75/100 defenses allow it to take almost any attack that an opposing lead would throw at it. For example: Heatran needs a Life Orb in order to OHKO Raikou with Earth Power or Fire Blast; even with a Rash nature, Timid Heatran still does only 80.1% damage maximum to Raikou with Fire Blast or Earth Power. Roserade's Leaf Storm maxes out at 90.7% damage. Even Starmie's Hydro Pump only does 87% damage max. Meanwhile, on the physical side, Machamp's DynamicPunch can't deal more than 83.2% damage, and even Focus Sash Aerodactyl's Earthquake fails to OHKO. The only lead that can reliably OHKO Raikou is Metagross, which in turn is 2HKOed by Thunderbolt, meaning that its user has to choose between killing Raikou or setting up Stealth Rock.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With a Choice Scarf equipped, Raikou becomes an extremely effective revenge killer. With a Rash nature, Choice Scarf Raikou is capable of outspeeding top threats such as +1 Dragonite, +1 Gyarados, +1 Tyranitar, and +2 Adamant Metagross, and with its 361 Special Attack, it is more than capable of taking out all of these targets. Alternatively, Choice Specs Raikou is a powerhouse hit-and-run attacker that can come in on many defensive Pokemon, such as Skarmory, Zapdos, Vaporeon, as well as nearly every variant of Jirachi, and unleash an extraordinarily powerful Thunderbolt that's capable of 2HKOing even the great Tyranitar.
Thunderbolt, as always, is the most effective STAB attack for Raikou. Hidden Power Ice completes the BoltBeam coverage and allows Raikou to hit Dragonite, Gliscor, and Flygon, all of which can otherwise deal with Thunderbolt. Shadow Ball hits Rotom-A hard, and also deals the most damage to Pokemon such as Gengar and Celebi. Finally, Aura Sphere puts a beatdown on Tyranitar while still allowing Raikou to use Hidden Power Ice. Extrasensory is also an option, as it hits Machamp, Breloom, Roserade, and Heracross harder than any other attack that Raikou can use.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set makes use of Raikou's significant bulk to allow it to play a more supporting role. While mono-Electric coverage is fairly poor, this Raikou is an extremely potent counter to most special attackers, and can easily sweep once the opponent's Ground-types are removed. The combination of Rest and Sleep Talk allows Raikou to absorb status for the team, and also enables it to outstall most defensive Pokemon that give other Raikou sets trouble, such as Celebi and Blissey.
This set comes in two main flavors: Calm Mind and Roar. Calm Mind makes Raikou a hard counter to many special attackers, including Suicune, Vaporeon, Zapdos, and Gengar. However, it leaves Raikou extremely vulnerable to Ground-types, which can switch in with absolute impunity and force out Raikou for free. Roar reduces this set's offensive prowess, but brings with it a number of advantages. Raikou's excellent Speed allows it to activate Roar through Sleep Talk and shuffle out many opponents before they can act, and it can also wear down opposing teams through entry hazard damage. Roar Raikou also acts as an ironclad counter to Pokemon like SubCM or Wish and Calm Mind Jirachi, as Raikou can come in, absorb a weak attack, and Roar it out with ease.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Raikou has a couple of neat toys that aren't viable enough for full sets but can still provide some niche usefulness. Raikou gets Reflect and Light Screen, making it a decent user of dual screens, and it can also combine Reflect and Calm Mind to reduce both physical and special damage significantly. Charge Beam can be used over Calm Mind on the offensive set for a more offensive feel. If Raikou can hit an opponent on the switch with Charge Beam and pick up a Special Attack boost, it can allow for some KOs that it wouldn't normally be able to achieve. Finally, Event Raikou can use Weather Ball on a Rain Dance set, giving it perfect accuracy Thunder as well as a Rain-boosted 100 Base Power Water-type attack to use against Ground-types.
Checks and Counters
Blissey is the number one counter to pretty much every single Raikou set. As long as Toxic Spikes aren't up, Raikou has no chance against a healthy Blissey. The only thing that can cause problems for Blissey is either a RestTalk Calm Mind set or two layers of Toxic Spikes, but other than that, Blissey can wall Raikou, Thunder Wave or Toxic it, and then Seismic Toss it away. Tyranitar is also a solid counter to Raikou, though Hidden Power Fighting and Aura Sphere deal significant damage to it. Choice Scarf Tyranitar outspeeds Raikou and can easily KO it with either Earthquake or Stone Edge, though. Swampert walls variants of Raikou lacking Hidden Power Grass, while Flygon and Gliscor wall variants without Hidden Power Ice, and all three can eliminate Raikou with Earthquake. Snorlax may have issues switching into Life Orb or Choice Specs Thunderbolt, but it does threaten to KO Raikou with Earthquake. Hippowdon can KO Raikou with Earthquake and isn't KOed by a super effective Hidden Power. Finally, Electivire can serve as a situational counter to Raikou, as it can pick up a Motor Drive boost from Thunderbolt and hit Raikou with Earthquake.
Toxic Spikes get their own mention here, as they absolutely demolish every single set other than RestTalk. Even a single layer of Toxic Spikes can cripple Raikou to the point that it can no longer sweep. Offensive Raikou doesn't last very long when it's taking 22% damage per turn, and SubCM can't stall Pokemon out with Substitute when it's losing HP instead of gaining it. Roserade is an excellent source of Toxic Spikes, as its significant Special Defense and resistance to Electric-type attacks enables it to come in on Raikou later in the match as well. Forretress can also lay down Toxic Spikes and spin away Toxic Spikes on its owner's side of the field.