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The release of Black and White brought an influx of great Dark-types and Fighting-types to Little Cup, as well as buffing some old favorites. Dokkora and Kojofuu stormed the metagame with power rivaling 4th Gen's two premier Fighting-types, Machop and Mankey. Generation 5 unleashed a swarm of powerful Dark-types, including Komatana, Monozu, Speed Boost Carvanha and the now unbanned Murkrow. However, arguably the best new Pokemon in Little Cup is a combination of both types. The Dark- and Fighting-typed Zuruggu has, since its release, been one of the most common and most devasting Pokemon in the new metagame. Zuruggu is an extremely versatile Pokemon who can function well on both ends of the spectrum. From extreme sweeper to defensive behemoth, there are few things Zuruggu can't do. The fact that some of the best players in Little Cup consider Zuruggu to be a controversy attests to the pants-dropping lizard's power.
What stands out most about Zuruggu is its unique typing. Offensively, Dark / Fighting has fantastic coverage, being resisted solely by Croagunk, and Zuruggu gets STAB on both of them. On the defensive, Zuruggu offers notable resistances to Rock, Ghost and Dark, as well as an immunity to Psychic-type attacks. The resistance to Rock is especially great, since it allows Zuruggu to switch in without worrying about taking too much damage from Stealth Rock. Zuruggu's only weaknesses are to Flying-type and Fighting-type attacks. The Fighting-type weakness really hurts Zuruggu due to the presence of the speedy Kojofuu and the slow but strong Dokkora, who also possesses a powerful STAB Mach Punch. Croagunk, who resists both of Zuruggu's STAB moves, also can cause pain with a STAB Vacuum Wave.
When it comes to stats, Zuruggu is no slouch. Base 75 Attack reaches 17 Attack with a neutral nature and max investment, which is more than enough to do damage with. Zuruggu's base 50 HP may not seem like much, but when combine that with impressive base 70 Defense and Special Defense, you end up with a great defensive Pokemon. One of the greatest boons to Zuruggu is the Evolution Stone, which boosts those defenses by 50%. Oran Berry also gives Zuruggu access to quick healing, which is always appreciated on a defensive Pokemon in Little Cup. If Zuruggu invested in a belt so it constantly doesn't have to pull up its pants, it may have been better, since base 48 Speed is fairly slow by Little Cup standards. However, it is enough to hit 14 Speed, which allows Zuruggu to outpace the entire unboosted tier with Choice Scarf. Don't bother with Zuruggu's Special Attack, since base 35 isn't enough to do any decent damage in Little Cup.
Zuruggu's abilities are part of the reason why it is so good at what it does. Overconfidence is a fantastic ability, giving Zuruggu a +1 Attack boost whenever it knocks out an opponent's Pokemon. This allows Choice Scarf Zuruggu to clean up games easily and offensive Zuruggu to sweep with little effort. Shed Skin is another fantastic ability, especially on slower defensive sets. Being able to shrug off the crippling burn and paralysis statuses is great, but combined with Rest, Zuruggu can use the ShedRest strategy, which makes a once fairly risky move much more reliable. Through Dream World, Zuruggu gets Intimidate, which is a great addition to defensive sets. However, Dream World Zuruggu has yet to be released at the time this article was written, so it can't use this awesome ability.
There are very few Pokemon as versatile as Zuruggu. If you have a hole in your team that needs to be filled, Zuruggu can most likely fill it. Looking at those base stats, it is easy to see that Zuruggu can take a beating. Defensive Zuruggu fits well on almost any team, whether if it is offensive, balanced or stall. Zuruggu was blessed with the addition of the boosted Drain Punch, which now has 75 Base Power, to its movepool. Drain Punch is Zuruggu's most efficient way of healing. However, defensive sets can also use Shed Skin and Rest to recover from damage. Payback is great on a defensive set, since Zuruggu doesn't normally invest in Speed. The new Dragon-type move Dragon Tail is also a fantastic addition. Not only does it get perfect coverage with Drain Punch, it also causes the foe to switch out when hit. This is very useful on stall teams with numerous hazards up. Evolution Stone and Oran Berry are the top options, however, Evolution Stone is far superior if you are using the ShedRest strategy. Other great options on a defensive set include Protect, Taunt, Toxic and Counter.
Zuruggu can also be an efficient, albeit slow, lead in Little Cup. Almost anything that learns Fake Out in Little Cup can function as a lead, and Zuruggu is no exception. Zuruggu has other traits that make it an effective lead, including Shed Skin, which makes it less fearful of status-inflicting leads. Protect can keep Zuruggu safe from an opposing Fake Out and is great for scouting. If you are more worried about hazard leads than Fake Out leads, than Taunt might be more of your style. Ankle Sweep is an interesting and effective move in the lead position, since it does damage and lowers the foe's Speed. This is great for getting in a faster Crunch or Taunt next turn or for forcing the opponent to switch. Crunch is Zuruggu's strongest Dark-type STAB and is an all round excellent move. Oran Berry is the item of choice on lead Zuruggu.
If you want your opponent pulling his or her hair out, than this next set is perfect for you. With Evolution Stone, Zuruggu's defenses jump up by 50%. Combine astounding defenses with decent HP and Shed Skin, and Zuruggu is tough enough to take a hit. However, let's throw Rest, Bulk Up and Amnesia into the mix, and you've got one of the most frustrating Pokemon to ever play in Little Cup. Zuruggu's great defenses mean that setting up is fairly easy, even against some super-effective attacks. As for offense, Payback is the better choice due to Zuruggu's mediocre Speed. Crunch has more PP than Payback, so it is also a noteworthy choice. Regardless of what move you use, after a turn or two of setting up, this set is guaranteed to torture your opponent.
Zuruggu's slow by Little Cup's standards, but being able to reach 14 Speed makes it a perfect canidate for Choice Scarf. Choice Scarf Zuruggu may not be as powerful or as fast as Kojofuu, but it makes up for it with Overconfidence and a much larger movepool. Choice Scarf Zuruggu is also one of the few Pokemon that can take out Swords Dance Komatana without much fear. Hi-Jump Kick, which now has a whopping 130 Base Power, is Zuruggu's strongest and riskiest move. When Hi-Jump Kick misses, Zuruggu will be taking a colossal amount of recoil damage, but it is well worth the risk. Any Pokemon that is not a Ghost-type will be dented by a STAB 130 Base Power move. Crunch punishes perky Ghost-types who think they can switch in on a Hi-Jump Kick. For the final two moveslots, Zuruggu has a variety of options, including Head Smash, Zen Headbutt, the Elemental Punches and Stone Edge.
While all the previously mentioned sets are great, few will deny that the most threatening strategy in Zuruggu's arsenal is Dragon Dance. With maximum Attack and Speed EVs alongside a Jolly nature, you are looking at 25 Attack and 23 Speed. You don't even need max Attack, becaause Overconfidence can boost Zuruggu's Attack further every time Zuruggu's KOes something. This allows Zuruggu to invest more in its defenses, meaning it can take priority attacks easier, or it can set up multiple Dragon Dances, especially if it is holding an Oran Berry. Now factor in Zuruggu's astounding movepool, consisting of excellent moves like Hi-Jump Kick, Drain Punch, Crunch, Ice Punch and Zen Headbutt. Dragon Dance Zuruggu is one of the biggest threats in Little Cup. Status may not be much help either, since Zuruggu can decide to run Shed Skin so paralysis, poison or burn won't hamper its sweep. Every team should always have a reliable way to revenge or check Dragon Dance Zuruggu.
No sugar-coating things: Dragon Dance Zuruggu is damn near impossible to counter. You can rest assured it has Dragon Dance, a Fighting-type move and Crunch. However, its other move could be anything. Gligar can't counter it safely for fear of Ice Punch, and Koffing, Croagunk and Dokkora have to worry about Zen Headbutt. Even if you do determine what its final moveslot is, a boosted Crunch is going to hurt Koffing and Gligar (although if Gligar has Acrobat or Aerial Ace, it can still take Zuruggu out) while a Hi-Jump Kick or Drain Punch will leave Dokkora crying. Your best bet is switching in while it uses Dragon Dance with Dokkora or Croagunk, and hammer them with Mach Punch and Vacuum Wave respectively. If you can switch in a Ghost-type on a Hi-Jump Kick, it should weaken Zuruggu enough so priority can finish it off. Should you find a way to lower Zuruggu's Attack or Speed or boost your Defense, you are in good shape, but be wary of Shed Skin users if you rely on burn and paralysis. Revenge killing Dragon Dance Zuruggu is far easier, but only if Zuruggu has boosted its Speed once. Kojofuu and Washibon are the best at the job, since they can decimate Zuruggu with their high Attack stats and super-effective STAB moves.
The other sets are less troublesome. Lead and defensive sets are the easiest to stop. In general, Dokkora and Meditite do very well against them. Zuruggu runs Shed Skin and either little or no Attack EVS on these sets, so most Pokemon with high Defense, especially Koffing, can handle Zuruggu. However, Drain Punch and Evolution Stone can make taking down Zuruggu a slow process, which can cause problems if weather is brewing or you are suffering from Life Orb, poison or burn damage. The Bulk Up and Rest set can be extremely difficult to beat after it has set up, so try to take it down as fast as you can. Washibon and Dokkora can usually beat it quickly with their STAB moves. Also, Whirlwind, Dragon Tail or Roar users can stop it easily. Choice Scarf Zuruggu is beaten solely by good prediction. Just switch in a Ghost-type on a Fighting-type move or Fighting- or Dark-type on Crunch. The coverage moves are harder to predict, but Koffing can take them all except Zen Headbutt, which is easily stopped by a Dark-type.
It doesn't matter what kind of team you are using, there is a Zuruggu set just made for it. All the sets require little help from teammates and there are few Pokemon Zuruggu doesn't work well alongside.
Stealth Rock is a must on any offensive Pokemon, and Zuruggu is no exception. Stealth Rock does an extremely important job of breaking Focus Sash and Sturdy, which can potentially ruin Zuruggu. On defensive sets, Spikes and Toxic Spikes are extremely helpful to have. The Bulk Up + Rest set also appreciates either hail or sandstorm for wearing down the opponent even faster. Dual screens are also nice to have, but hardly mandatory.
Ghost-types are the best teammates for Zuruggu. Their immunity to Fighting-type moves and ability to stop Rapid Spin naturally make them excellent teammates. Ghost-types that can lure in and beat other Ghost-types, such as Misdreavus, work especially well. Other Pokemon that can dispose of opposing Ghost-types work well with Zuruggu, since it allows it to use Hi-Jump Kick without fear of a Ghost-type switching in. Komatana works well alongside Zuruggu because of this, even though they share a common weakness. Other than that, Zuruggu requires little support from teammates.
If you need a defensive keystone or a sweeper who can plow through teams with ease, Zuruggu may be the Pokemon for you. If you still need convincing to use Zuruggu, the best way is to see it in action against yourself. So just hike up those pants and get out there!
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