Does your team need a spinner who isn't vulnerable to the Spikes it deals with? Does your team need a half-decent check to Dragon Dance Tyranitar, Dragon Dance Salamence, and the likes of Flygon and Jirachi? Does your team need a resistance to the QuakeSlide combination? If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions then Claydol is an ideal fit for your team. However, Claydol is not without its issues. Firstly, its ability to check threats such as Tyranitar is substantially lowered because it may fall to two Crunches from a Boah or Luretar set, and if one wishes to conserve Claydol for later purposes, it is sometimes necessary to switch in order to scout a moveset, which could put you on the back foot very early in the game.
Claydol also sports six weaknesses, including those to the very common attacking types, Water and Ice. These weaknesses don't do the ancient doll any favors. Claydol also has paltry offensive stats and a lack of phazing moves, which leaves it as complete setup fodder for the likes of CurseLax, Dragon Dance Gyarados, Calm Mind Celebi, and Calm Mind Suicune. Although Claydol is very durable and lasts a long time in most stall-oriented matches—Claydol is much more suited to being featured on and against stall teams—one must remember that Claydol cannot deal any real damage to most standard teams if your opponent makes the appropriate switches.
The idea behind this set is simple—switch in whenever possible and remove any Spikes from your side of the field by using Rapid Spin. Rapid Spin is listed first on this set as it is the move that differentiates Claydol from other Ground-types in OU, and is an excellent supporting move. In drawn-out games, the deciding factor is often who has control of the hazards on the field, and Rapid Spin allows you to exert some control, and also give teams that rely on hazardstrouble. Earthquake is a powerful STAB move that can damage Tyranitar decently and force it out.
Psychic is used in the third slot to threaten Gengar and allow Claydol to spin with more ease against it, and act as a check to it to a certain extent. Ice Beam is slashed first in the fourth moveslot because with it Claydol is a good answer to Dragon Dance Salamence and an excellent one to Flygon. Hidden Power Fire is a fairly decent option on Claydol over Ice Beam, as it deals more damage to Skarmory than anything else Claydol can do,and also destroys Forretress, who can otherwise be a major annoyance to the ancient doll. Rest can also be used in the fourth slot, as it increases Claydol's longevity and removes its vulnerability to status, although Claydol is usually used on stall teams that carry a cleric, and Ice Beam and Hidden Power Fire allow Claydol to cover more threats in the short-term than Rest otherwise would.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Claydol can make use of either Light Screen or Reflect on one of its moveslots (besides Rapid Spin and Earthquake), or even both on the same set. However, in stall-based games (probably the games that are most likely to feature Claydol), screens are poorer options as five turns in ADV can often consist of only switches, support moves, and resisted attacks. Also, because there is a definitive answer to almost every sweeper in ADV (aside from the rare Flail or Reversal users), and because there is no Pokemon that is overpowered enough to muscle through its usual checks (when they're healthy) behind screens, using Light Screen or Reflect is a comparatively poor option.
Toxic is a fairly decent option on Claydol to wear down the bulky Water-types that tend to switch in on it, and is also notable for enabling Claydol to turn the tables on non-Resting Dusclops and Cloyster, who can keep Spikes up against Claydol otherwise. However, Toxic lowers Claydol's utility and ability to check certain threats overall, due to the fact that using Toxic means removing another key move from the set. Also, the abundance of Rest and/or Heal Bell or Aromatherapy in ADV lowers Toxic's overall effectiveness. Explosion is also an option to cause some surprise damage and open an opposing team up to a threatening sweeper, but it is not really suited to Claydol because once it is down, opposing Spikes users are free to set up and force multiple switches. Claydol's Explosion is also comparatively weak and may not OHKO opponents such as a healthy Suicune, for example.
Checks and Counters
Bulky Water-types, such as Milotic, Suicune, and Swampert, are the bane of Claydol's existence, as they are capable of shrugging off Earthquakes and can hit back hard with powerful super effective Surfs. Suicune in particular is an excellent Claydol counter, being able to set up on it freely with Calm Mind, and not particularly fearing Toxic thanks to Rest. Cloyster also gets a mention, because if Cloyster is the source of Spikes for a team, then Claydol will have difficulty keeping Spikes off the field. Every time Claydol removes Spikes, Cloyster can switch right back into it and set them up again. However, Cloyster must watch out for Toxic. Hidden Power Bug or Toxic Forretress can beat Claydol one-on-one, and thus is able to keep its team's Spikes up against Claydol. However, Forretress must watch out for Hidden Power Fire before taking Claydol on.
Dusclops is a very good Claydol counter, as it can block its attempts to Rapid Spin with ease. It can also easily take any attack that Claydol dishes out and retaliate with Shadow Ball. The bandaged spinblocker also doesn't fear Toxic when carrying Rest. Calm Mind Celebi does not fear anything Claydol has to dish out, and can boost multiple times freely on it. However, it should be emphasized that Leech Seed Celebi is not a Claydol counter as Rapid Spin's gargantuan 64 PP far outlasts Leech Seed's meager 16. Dragon Dance Gyarados is immune to Earthquake, takes little from Ice Beam and, like Celebi, can set up on Claydol freely. However, it should be noted that Gyarados should Taunt first against Claydol to scout for a harmful Toxic. Regice is a very good answer to Claydol, having good all-around bulk and a powerful Ice Beam.
Heracross is also a decent answer to Claydol, resisting Earthquake, taking Ice Beams well with its fairly decent Special Defense stat, and hitting back with a vicious STAB super effective Megahorn. However it should be noted that Heracross is unable to switch into Claydol's Psychic multiple times, and must predict to get in safely. Curse Snorlax takes little from uninvested Earthquakes and can set up on Claydol, potentially readying itself for a sweep. Blissey walls Claydol all day, especially Calm Mind variants who can set up freely on it.