Torkoal is usually overlooked in favor of other bulky Fire-types such as Arcanine, or supporters like Donphan, but fortunately, it has several traits that distinguish itself from such Pokemon. Its massive 140 base Defense stat is certainly unique as far as Fire-types are concerned, allowing Torkoal to counter some top physical threats in UU such as Swellow, Absol, Scyther, and the assortment of Fighting-types. This is complemented well by a respectable support movepool consisting of Stealth Rock, Rapid Spin, Yawn, and Will-O-Wisp. While Torkoal does have its uses, with its weakness to Stealth Rock, low Special Defense, and lack of reliable recovery, the Coal Pokemon just falls short of being an ideal defensive Pokemon.
Torkoal's fantastic Defense stat gives it many opportunities to switch in and clear entry hazards with Rapid Spin or set up Stealth Rock. At the same time, this set can serve as a counter to many common physical attackers in UU, crippling them with a status move or blasting them with a solid STAB Fire-type attack.
Yawn is the favourable status option; other than sleep being a powerful tool, it forces Ghost-types hoping to block Rapid Spin to choose between switching out (thus losing their entry hazards) or being put to sleep. Toxic is an alternative to gradually wear down opposing Pokemon through poison damage, especially those who can shrug off Torkoal's Fire-type attacks. The choice between Lava Plume and Flamethrower comes down to whether you would rather have more power or an increased burn rate. Lava Plume is preferable due to its high burn rate, although it can conflict with Yawn or Toxic, while Flamethrower maintains the chance to burn while boasting slightly more power. Finally, Explosion can also be used in the last slot with a Relaxed nature to inflict some heavy damage before fainting.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Torkoal's biggest downside is its lack of instant recovery, and sadly, Rest is the ony way to solve this issue. Should you choose to run Rest, it's recommended that you use Sleep Talk as well; the other moves should preferably be a Fire-type attack and Toxic, allowing Torkoal to pose as much of a threat as possible while asleep. Protect is a decent alternative on the Support set as it gives a turn of free Leftovers recovery, and it can accumulate Toxic damage as well or scout the opponent's move after using Yawn. Torkoal may also invest in Special Defense EVs to handle some special attackers better, such as Moltres and Venusaur, as its massive Defense stat means it will still be able to tank physical hits quite well even without investment.
Outside of its usual support duties, Torkoal can make some use out of its respectable base 85 attacking stats. With a mixed attacking set consisting of Fire Blast, Earthquake, Stone Edge, and Explosion with maximum offensive EV investment, Torkoal may nab a few surprise kills on some Pokemon (such as Explosion on bulky Water-types) expecting an easy switch-in. Torkoal has access to Curse; however, with such a shallow physical movepool which lacks even a Fire-type STAB attack, it's best not to dedicate an entire moveset to it. Other than the occasional surprise factor, Torkoal is simply best sticking with defensive and supportive roles.
Checks and Counters
As previously mentioned, bulky Water-types are the biggest problem for Torkoal, as they resist Fire-type attacks and can threaten to deal heavy damage with their STAB moves. Milotic and Slowbro can continually switch in and shrug off any damage with Recover and Slack Off, respectively. Blastoise can use Rapid Spin to stop Torkoal's attempts to keep Stealth Rock on the field, while Omastar and Qwilfish can set up their own entry hazards. Azumarill must be careful of being burned when switching in, but the Aquarabbit Pokemon can then set up a free Substitute that Torkoal cannot break without Explosion. The only real defense Torkoal has against these Pokemon is hitting them with Toxic or Yawn on the switch.
Chansey, Clefable, and Altaria all boast Natural Cure, impressive bulk, and instant recovery, allowing them to completely wall Torkoal. Fire-types also wall Torkoal if it isn't running Toxic or Sleep Clause is already activated (thus making Yawn useless), as they resist Fire-type attacks and are immune to burns from Lava Plume. Houndoom can come in any of Torkoal's attacks to set up a Nasty Plot, or inflict some powerful blows with a Flash Fire-boosted Fire Blast. Moltres is another Fire-type that threatens Torkoal due to its high Special Attack and access to Roost.
Speaking of powerful special attackers, targeting Torkoal's weaker Special Defense stat is one of the easiest ways to defeat it or force it to switch out. Mismagius can plow through Torkoal with Shadow Ball after a Nasty Plot boost, or set up with Calm Mind to prevent Torkoal from breaking its Substitutes. Alakazam, and Espeon can OHKO Torkoal with a Life Orb-boosted Psychic after Stealth Rock damage, as can other immediate blows like Altaria's Draco Meteor or Nidoking's Earth Power. Some monstrous physical attackers can also bypass Torkoal's massive Defense stat, most notably Rhyperior and Aggron equipped with a Choice Band; however, these Pokemon must watch out for burns.