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While Water may lack the crushing power of the Dragon type, or the pure defensive prowess of the Steel type, it makes up for this in spades with its absolutely incredible versatility. There are nearly twice as many Water-type Pokémon in OU as there are Pokémon of other types, and every single one of them stands out among the crowd. No matter what you want your team to accomplish, there's a Water-type that can do it for you. From the raw power and excellent bulk of Gyarados, to the versatility of Kingdra, to the boosting power of Suicune, to the support of Vaporeon, Water-types have become a veritable staple in the metagame, even moreso than nearly any other type.
We chose Water to be the final Type Analysis for this very reason. Both OU and UU are so packed with excellent Water-type Pokémon that there's easily twice the content in this article alone!
Gyarados is far and away the most used Water-type Pokémon in OU, and for good reason. Its physical power and Speed are comparable to that of Dragonite, and its Water typing also grants it a resistance to Bullet Punch, making it extremely hard to take down. When it comes to putting holes in teams, Gyarados can pretty much approach the issue from every angle. It can use a pure power Life Orb set to try and bully its way through teams, smashing through even powerful defenders like Skarmory with ease. On the other hand, it can go with a bulky spread, which exploits Taunt to prevent foes from phazing Gyarados or crippling it with status. By utilizing its excellent bulk and access to Intimidate, it can easily come in, rack up multiple Dragon Dances, and cleanly sweep through even the most well-prepared teams. In fact, back in early DP it wasn't uncommon to see Bulky Gyarados lead the match, picking up a couple Dragon Dances on their opponent's lead and then sweeping outright! It can also equip a Choice Band, using Payback to lure and destroy Rotom-A and Celebi, two common counters to other offensive variants of Gyarados.
While Kingdra may not have Gyarados' physical power or Intimidate, it easily makes up for this in other aspects. Its Water / Dragon typing grants it dual STAB coverage resisted only by Empoleon in the OU metagame, meaning that it can easily cover everything with only 2 moves, giving it immense freedom in the rest of its movepool. It can go fully offensive with Dragon Dance and Life Orb, or it can instead opt to use Lum Berry, Substitute, or both to prevent foes such as Celebi and Rotom-A from crippling it with status. It can also go specially offensive, utilizing the powerful Draco Meteor and Hydro Pump to blast holes in the enemy team. It can even go mixed, using Rain Dance to power up both its physical and special moves, while allowing it to invest fully in both due to Swift Swim's Speed-doubling effect. Make no mistake- Kingdra is definitely a top threat from any angle.
Starmie is the quintessential late-game cleaner. Its 115 base Speed and 100 base Special Attack, combined with its excellent special movepool, allow it to blast through teams lategame after they've taken Stealth Rock damage, various chip damage, Sandstorm damage, etc. It's also defensively no slouch, with 70 / 85 / 85 defenses and Natural Cure to shrug off status that would otherwise shut it down. It also holds the notable distinction of being one of the few Rapid Spin users that can threaten Rotom-A effectively, as nothing likes potentially switching into a Life Orb-boosted STAB Hydro Pump.
Suicune may lack Starmie's Speed, but it's definitely got its advantages as a powerful attacker. Its 100 / 115 / 115 defenses make it extremely difficult to take out, even when uninvested. It also has access to Calm Mind, something that Starmie would kill for, as boosted Surfs and Ice Beams hurt like hell. 85 base Speed isn't terrible either, as with enough investment, it can outspeed threats such as Adamant Lucario and Jolly Gyarados / Dragonite.
Even though Swampert's biggest claim to fame is its excellent defensive typing and solid stats, it's hard to overlook its oft-underused 110 base Attack. Combine that with the excellent coverage provided by Waterfall / Earthquake / Stone Edge / Ice Punch, and Swampert becomes a formidable user of Choice Band. It's easy to use it to lure in foes such as Gyarados and Dragonite and eliminate them with Stone Edge, or do the same to Celebi and Shaymin with Ice Punch. Its bulk makes it an excellent switch into Heatran and friends, and it can also check Dragon Dance Gyarados in a pinch.
Last, but certainly not least, there's Empoleon. The SubPetaya set is nearly legendary, as its incredible power and Speed once set up are unparalleled. For a comparison, it's like Specs Salamence spamming Draco Meteor every single turn, without the Special Attack drops, all backed by the Speed of a Choice Scarf! Also, unlike other SubBerry attackers, it packs 4x resistances to Bullet Punch and Ice Shard, and a 2x resistance to ExtremeSpeed and Aqua Jet, making it difficult to take down with priority even when it's at 18% after Stealth Rock and 3 Substitutes. If you let it get set up, and you're not packing one of the few Empoleon counters, get ready to watch everything get Surfed to death.
Swampert's "Mixpert" set has been a staple since ADV, supporting many a team for years. The top-notch coverage of Earthquake and Ice Beam combined with Swampert's 100 / 90 / 90 defenses and excellent typing makes it easy for Swampert to check a multitude of top threats. It can also lay Stealth Rock or Roar out opponents, allowing it to thwart setup, scout counters, or just rack up entry hazard damage. With only 1 weakness, it can be incredibly difficult to take down Swampert, especially if it's combined with Wish support. Swampert can also use its excellent two-move coverage with a ResTalk set, or it can use Curse to shrug off nearly all physical attacks while boosting its excellent Attack and eventually breaking through nearly any foe.
Vaporeon's massive HP and decent defenses make it easy for it to take neutral or resisted attacks, and unlike Swampert, it has access to Wish for reliable healing and team support. It can also hit fairly hard off of its 110 base Special Attack with Surf, Ice Beam, or Hidden Power Electric. It can also phaze with Roar, and just generally act as a top-notch counter to attackers such as Gyarados, Heatran, and Metagross.
Suicune may lack Vaporeon's recovery, but its far superior physical Defense allows it to check opponents such as Dragonite far more easily than Vaporeon, even when damaged. Suicune can also support the team with Roar, or can go for a defensive Calm Mind set. CroCune, a ResTalk Calm Mind mono-attacker with full Defense investment, can be incredibly difficult to shut down for unprepared teams. After a Calm Mind, its defenses are absolutely incredible on both sides, making 3HKOing it difficult at best, and with Rest, a 3HKO is needed to fully shut it down. It can even beat Vaporeon, which is immune to its only offensive move, by stalling it out with Pressure.
Tentacruel was wildly popular in early DP, as one of the few counters to Nasty Plot Mixape due to its light weight and neutrality to Grass Knot. It can also Rapid Spin, removing hazards from the field, and lay down Toxic Spikes to wear down attackers and defenders alike. Its solid Special Defense means that it's able to shrug off even super effective hits, such as Life Orb Heatran's Earth Power. While its usage has waned somewhat due to Nasty Plot Mixape's loss of popularity, it still stands out as a solid Pokémon for use on stall teams, as long as you can keep it away from Rotom-A and other threats.
Gyarados may be renowned for its massive power and ability to sweep with Dragon Dance, but it's also a top-notch defender. A ResTalk set with Waterfall and Roar is incredibly effective at shutting down many Fighting-type attackers, and can be incredibly difficult to eliminate without good prediction and a little luck with Roar. ResTalk Gyarados serves as an easy counter to Lucario, Machamp without Stone Edge, Flygon (watch out for ThunderPunch!), Scizor, and Heatran.
Empoleon may be used more as a powerful SubPetaya attacker, but its Water / Steel typing provides a huge roster of resistances, and is one of the few Pokémon capable of resisting the Water / Dragon combination boasted by Kingdra. It can easily wall a number of Pokémon with its 84 / 86 / 101 defenses and few weaknesses. Just keep it away from Earthquake and Thunderbolt and it'll do a bang-up job.
When it comes to Water-types in UU, the first thing that comes to many people's minds is rain. There are a plethora of UU Pokémon who possess the ability Swift Swim, which doubles Speed under rain. Taking into account rain's 1.5x boost to Water attacks, you have a lot of lethal threats to watch out for—or abuse.
On the special side, there's Omastar, who has an excellent base 115 Special Attack and near-perfect coverage with a moveset of Surf / Ice Beam / Hidden Power Grass. Gorebyss can run an identical set, and since its base Special Attack is one point lower than Omastar's, it can run a mixed set with Aqua Tail to 2HKO Chansey, the bane of all special rain sweepers.
Ludicolo's base 90 Special Attack stat is even lower than the aforementioned two, but it has several assets that completely make up for its lower power. It has access to STAB Grass Knot or Energy Ball to dispose of Milotic, as well as Focus Punch to beat Chansey. Furthermore, Ludicolo is capable of running a physical set of Swords Dance / Waterfall / Seed Bomb / Ice Punch (or Zen Headbutt). Its special set and physical set share hardly any counters, so switching in the wrong check will usually result in the loss of at least one Pokémon.
The physical rain sweepers don't hit as hard from the get-go, but they have the potential to sweep more easily thanks to Swords Dance. Possessing a great Attack stat of 115 and an excellent offensive dual typing, Kabutops is one of the deadliest sweepers in the tier, OHKOing nearly everything in UU after a single Swords Dance boost. It also has access to priority in Aqua Jet, which makes it difficult for frail Fighting-types to revenge kill it with Mach Punch or Vacuum Wave. And unlike most other rain sweepers, Kabutops retains a lot of its effectiveness out of rain. Not only is it still capable of sweeping, but it also has niches as a lead and a Rapid Spinner on non-rain teams.
Qwilfish is far less powerful than Kabutops, and its coverage pales in comparison to Ludicolo's; however, it has several traits that separate it from other sweepers. Disregarding the seldom-used Floatzel and the never-used Luvdisc, Qwilfish is the fastest Pokémon with the ability Swift Swim, an asset that can come into play should two rain teams face each other. Secondly, Qwilfish's unique typing grants it protection against most Milotic, as few run Hidden Power Electric as opposed to Grass. And lastly, Qwilfish has access to Explosion, which is useful for eliminating key threats to other rain sweepers, most notably bulky Waters. Outside of rain, Qwilfish is commonly used as a lead, capable of setting up Spikes (or Toxic Spikes), Taunting opposing leads, and Exploding.
Outside of rain, teams in need of a Water-type attacker usually turn to one of two physical behemoths: Azumarill or Feraligatr. Azumarill has the ability Huge Power, which double its otherwise pitiful Attack stat. A max Attack Adamant Azumarill has 436 Attack, which is more than that of an Adamant Rhyperior! Azumarill makes an excellent Choice Bander, with near-perfect coverage in Waterfall and Double-Edge and priority in Aqua Jet. Its bulk and ability to create 101 HP Substitutes also makes Azumarill the perfect candidate for a SubPunching set.
Feraligatr, on the other hand, relies on boosting moves to muscle its way through its opposition. It possesses both Swords Dance and Dragon Dance as well as an excellent offensive movepool, including Waterfall, Earthquake, Superpower, and Aqua Jet.
While not usually used for sweeping, Cloyster makes an excellent offensive lead, with the ability to set up Spikes (or Toxic Spikes) as well as eliminate entry hazards with Rapid Spin. When it's all done, it can depart with a powerful Explosion.
Milotic is UU's most prominent defensive Water-type. Its pure Water typing and excellent 95 / 79 / 125 defensive stats enable Milotic to take hits with ease. In fact, most neutral hits fail to 2HKO it! Access to Recover only increases its longevity, and its base 100 Special Attack allows Milotic to retaliate with moderately powerful attacks, something beyond the reach of other significantly less powerful walls.
Slowking's Psychic typing grants it a slew of additional weaknesses, most notably to Dark and Bug; however, it does have a few key perks over Milotic, namely in its resistance to Fighting, which allows it to check almost all variants of Blaziken; its access to STAB Psychic, which is helpful in deterring Venusaur from switching in; and its ability to cripple common switch-ins with Thunder Wave. Slowbro shares these traits, and while it can't deal with special threats like Moltres as easily, its increased Defense permits it to switch into most Fighting-types more easily.
While Lanturn lacks reliable recovery and can't take physical hits, notably Earthquake, very well, it possesses a few nifty qualities. It can take special hits very well (with base 125 HP / 76 SpD), possesses an invaluable resistance to the "Bolt Beam" combination, and has access to STAB Thunderbolt with which to hit opposing Water-types. Lanturn has several decent support options, including Heal Bell and Thunder Wave, as well as a few unorthodox options, such as Charge Beam, Stockpile, and Confuse Ray.
Although Blastoise is all but outclassed by other bulky Water-types stat-wise, it has a sizable niche in the UU metagame as a Rapid Spinner. While it isn't that powerful, it's not that easy to spinblock against Blastoise, as its Surf hits all Ghosts for reasonable, neutral damage. Like Hitmontop, Blastoise is also able to use the Foresight + Rapid Spin combination.
Omastar's typing is pretty horrid; however, it grants Omastar resistances against Normal and Flying, making it a decent check to Pokémon such as Swellow and Scyther. It also has access to all three entry hazards: Spikes, Stealth Rock, and Toxic Spikes. Omastar is commonly used as a lead for teams that require immediate entry hazard support, with Focus Sash versions used on more offensive teams and Leftovers on defensive teams.
Stat-wise, Poliwrath is probably the most balanced of any Water-type in UU. Unfortunately, this means that it is outclassed in most roles, especially without any form of reliable recovery. Poliwrath does have a few niches, though. It can boost its stats with both Bulk Up and Belly Drum, has Hypnosis to incapacitate potential counters, and has access to Encore, which has great synergy with its ability, Water Absorb. Upon switching into a Surf, Poliwrath can use Encore, forcing its opponent out and allowing it to set up a free Substitute.
Waterfall – 80 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – 20% chance to cause the opponent to flinch
Reliable power and a 20% chance to muscle past annoying counters makes Waterfall the go-to move of choice for physical attackers such as Gyarados, Kingdra, Azumarill, and Feraligatr. While it may not boast the offensive power of Outrage, Waterfall has excellent coverage, and is easy to support.
Aqua Tail – 90 Base Power – 90% Accuracy – No secondary effect
The physical "Power for Accuracy" move, Aqua Tail comes in handy any time that a "little boost" is required. While the extra power can come in handy, the lack of flinch chance and imperfect accuracy can cause issues, and as such, is rarely suggested as a primary attack.
Aqua Jet – 40 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – +1 Priority
The only Water-type priority move, and a very solid one at that. While it doesn't see much use in OU, Aqua Jet is dominant in UU, where top attackers such as Feraligatr, Kabutops, and Azumarill can use it to pick off key foes or sweep weakened teams.
Surf – 95 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – No secondary effect
The special "reliable power" attack, Surf has always been a standby for nearly every Water-type. Its combination of power and accuracy makes it hard to argue against, and pretty much every single Water-type gets it.
Hydro Pump – 120 Base Power – 80% Accuracy – No secondary effect
While the whole "20% chance to completely screw the user" thing doesn't say much for it, the raw power of Hydro Pump is undeniable. It provides Pokémon such as Starmie and Kingdra with the force needed to muscle through opponents, and is by far the scariest aspect of Starmie.
Water Spout – 150 Base Power – 95% Accuracy – Base Power is User's HP% x 1.5
As the signature attack of Kyogre (and Wailord!), Water Spout is absolutely brutal when the user is at full HP. While its uses outside of full HP are limited at best, and its distribution kind of sucks, its pure potential damage is devastating, and switching into a rain-boosted STAB Specs Water Spout from Kyogre without an immunity is one of the most frightening and nigh-impossible things to do in the entirety of Pokémon.
Rain Dance – --% Accuracy – Starts a rainstorm for 5 turns
I could go into more detail here, but that's a job for an entirely different article.
Water's pretty much got nowhere to go but up. Every single Water-type has its niche, and even when Gen 5 comes around, all that will happen is that the pool of awesome Water-types will increase. Normally, this is where I'd say that you should try out a Water-type today, but with so many awesome ones, I'm pretty sure you've already done that. So instead, I'd like to extend a thank you to everyone who's stuck with the Type Analysis series, and thanks for reading!
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