|« Previous Article||Home||Next Article »|
Despite being the very first Pokemon of the new generation, coming into the Pokedex even before Snivy, Victini started its public life in relative irrelevance, at least competitively. Hey look, it's Infernape with worse offensive stats, awful secondary STAB, a Stealth Rock weakness, and a Pursuit weakness in a metagame where Infernape is outclassed by Blaziken anyway! Alternatively, look, it's Mew with a Stealth Rock weakness and worse movepool in a meta where Mew is lackluster anyway! Not only was Victini overshadowed by superior similar offensive Pokemon, the OU metagame was simply not a friendly place for the little critter, with sand and rain teams dominating the metagame, and with Latios and Latias running rampant. Victini fell into obscurity as one of the generation's most forgettable legends.
But unending obscurity was not meant to be, and Victini was thrown back into the limelight in spring of 2011, when two huge things happened for it: (1) Smogon got usage stats and established a UU metagame; (2) Victini got V-create. What is V-create, you ask? Something completely unprecedented in Pokemon—a 180 Base Power attack. You heard right, a 180 Base Power STAB Fire attack. That is disgusting. Of course, the attack comes with some drawbacks, but who cares—180 Base Power. To understand how ridiculous the attack is, if you compare Choice Band Victini to Choice Band Ho-Oh attacking a standard defensive Lugia, V-create will dish out almost 40% more damage than Ho-Oh's Sacred Fire (and 25% more than Ho-Oh's Brave Bird). Rayquaza's Choice Band Outrage falls short of Victini's damage output by about 10%. That's one angry rodent.
Victini became an instant star, a Victory Star, and has since been the official poster boy of the BW UU metagame. BW's power creep makes itself felt, as looking at Victini's metagame, the gap in power between Ubers and UU has never been so narrow.
Victini's base stats are nothing incredible, and looking at them, it is no wonder the little guy was so initially underwhelming. Competitive battlers are no strangers to Victini's stat spread; 100 across the board makes an impressive, but deceptively high 600 base stat total that you can't really make full use of. 100 offensive stats are just weak enough to make mixed sweeping unviable—you're just too weak to split your EVs and still hit hard on both sides at once—so you can only effectively use 500 of your 600 BST. Nevertheless, the 100 / 100 / 100 defensive stat spread is one of the bulkiest to be found outside of Ubers, and 100 Speed is an important threshold.
Unfortunately for Victini, 100 Speed is not what it used to be, and its typing makes it decidedly unsuited for tanking. Fire / Psychic typing gives it weaknesses to Pursuit and Stealth Rock, decidedly detracting from its viability in a defensive role. Victini's stats and typing were at terrible odds with each other, until V-create came into the picture.
V-create turns a decidedly mediocre Pokemon into an offensive behemoth. 100 base Attack is only a little above average, but V-create makes Victini the second hardest hitting Fire-type Pokemon in the entire game—and when you're hitting harder than behemoths like Ho-Oh and Reshiram, you know you're doing something right. Damn Darmanitan...
When you are bringing that extreme level of power down to UU, you don't need to be fantastic, you just need to be above average to become a monster, and Victini certainly delivers. Victini's movepool has just enough to assemble impressive physical sets, with Fusion Bolt, Zen Headbutt, Brick Break, and U-turn giving Victini coverage and flexibility. Victini's physical movepool is just broad enough that its would-be counters cannot switch in recklessly—which in turn, lets Victini throw around V-creates more recklessly!
Perhaps one of the scariest things about V-create is that it brings so much raw power to the table that Victini does not need a lot of EV investment to hit hard with it. Wait, it can hit hard without much EV investment...?
"100 offensive stats are just weak enough to make mixed sweeping unviable—you're just too weak to split your EVs and still hit hard on both sides at once."
...Yeah scratch that, Victini can mix-sweep just fine —just relegate offensive EVs to Special Attack and let V-create beat face on Chansey. Looking at Victini's special movepool, you will find it has some killer attacking options. Victini gets Thunderbolt and Grass Knot to dish out fantastic blows to its bulky Water-type checks. With the accuracy boost from Victory Star, it can even make excellent use of Focus Blast and Thunder. Victini can even go full special, battering special walls with Psyshock and spamming Searing Shot, a 100% accurate Fire-type move with 100 Base Power and a 30% chance to burn.
Finally, it's bizarre, but Victini can even be a terrifying Trick Room sweeper despite its above average Speed. It learns Trick Room, and can abuse V-create in Trick Room to become 'faster' with each use!
Where it was once a very mediocre Pokemon with nothing special, V-create's immense power is lethal, and has made all of Victini's other options lethal too!
Victini has a surprising degree of flexibility for an offensive Pokemon with no boosting attacks. One should be sure to consider what type of role it will fill in the team. One thing to keep in mind is that, as one of the most prominent offensive powers of the UU metagame, every player will be well prepared for it. Victini is not an anti-metagame Pokemon, it is the metagame, or at least at the very heart of it. Every team will be packing Victini checks, and no one will be taken by surprise by just about anything you could do with Victini. The rest of your team should be prepared to deal with this heavy resistance.
As Victini's "pilot," you will also have to play with a mind for these checks and how to get around them. Victini's weakness to Stealth Rock and Pursuit means that if you screw up, you could easily lose all the effectiveness of what is likely one of your key offensive threats. Thinking about overcoming enemy checks is always important, but when you see a Slowbro, Houndoom, or Arcanine, you better give some special thought as to how you are going to get around them. If your team is relying on Victini to sweep, and you see a Dugtrio, you're in for one hell of a ride as far as mind games go.
It is not like Victini is totally dependent on its teammates to remove its checks. Set up rocks, then Brick Break / Focus Blast at the right moment, and Houndoom will essentially be toast. If you run Grass Knot, you can overcome Rhyperior with ease. Regenerator Slowbro is, without question, the most difficult wall for Victini to overcome, but if you use Expert Belt to fake a Choice Scarf, and bait a bit with V-create, you have a good chance of dispatching Slowbro with Thunder. Keep in mind that Slowbro users are well aware of this trick, and it'll be a real mind game to pull it off —if you mispredict with Thunder, the gig will be up.
When all things are said and done though, get Victini's counters out of the way and you are almost assured of victory —V-create lives up to its name well. While Victini couldn't really be called a sweeper (lacking any offensive set-up moves outside of Trick Room), its wallbreaking powers are so extreme that most teams will simply not be able to stand up again after being on the wrong end of a Victini bashing. This will ultimately be your goal on almost any Victini set. Whether you are Scarf, Band, Mixed, or Special, you are looking at many routes to the same goal: A broken enemy down to its last few Pokemon, easy pickings for your teammates dedicated to sweeping.
Despite the many sets Victini can use, the threat of Victini is pretty one dimensional. Victini has "many routes to the same goal," but ultimately, if you see a Victini, you pretty much know what it's trying to do: hammer your team with V-create. Even if you were to be facing a special set, the threat doesn't change much; if your team is prepared for the mixed set, it's prepared for the special sets too. You're just facing less raw power and a high chance to get burned. The special sweeper has Psyshock, but then you weren't going to depend on Chansey to take care of your Victini problems anyway. Just know that Victini will come trying to bust holes in your team, that its attacks are not that strong aside from V-create, and that you have to think of a way to play around it.
When using Slowbro, you ought to stay keenly aware of how much damage V-create is doing to you. Considering how little damage Choice Scarf usually does, it is easy to ignore, but don't be mistaken —there is a difference in damage between a fully physical Choice Scarf V-create, and a relatively un-EVed V-create coming from an Expert Belt Victini that may be packing Thunder. Keep this one point in mind, and Slowbro should excel. As long as Slowbro isn't dead, it always has a chance to get back in the game thanks to Regenerator.
When using Arcanine, get Stealth Rock up, period. Arcanine can reliably switch in and beat just about any Victini without fail; but it can't do it nearly as many times as Slowbro, especially if the opponent gets Stealth Rock up on the field as well. In short you can almost always rely on Arcanine to force Victini out, but you need Stealth Rock to make forcing it out relevant to the battle. Rotom-H is in a similar situation, and can help against a bunch of the Metagame's other odd offensive threats such as Nidoking, Mamoswine, and Rotom-F.
Outside of these generally reliable counters, you really have to play around Victini and make sure you don't get hit by the wrong move at the wrong time. Houndoom laughs at V-create and can destroy Victini with Pursuit or Sucker Punch; if you can switch into a Choice V-create, Victini will be dead for free and you'll have an extra Flash Fire boost on top of it! Rhyperior can and will deal with Victini... as long as it doesn't get killed by Grass Knot. Other bulky Water-types like Milotic and Suicune can easily shrug off Victini's super effective attacks once or twice, but repeated blows will bring them down. Kingdra can also force it out (and laughs at V-create), but you'll need to avoid taking repeated neutral blows. Getting Stealth Rock on the field will help ensure this doesn't happen, and decidedly puts the switching game of cat-and-mouse in your favor.
At the end of the day, there's always Dugtrio.
While it is an impressive force in the metagame, and extremely popular, odds are you are not going to want to just slap Victini onto your team with little thought (though you probably could and still do okay). The drops in Speed and defenses mean that Victini will always struggle at a sweeping role, and perform better as a wallbreaker. What this means is that you can't use it effectively in a role such as the lone offensive Pokemon on a stall / defensive team. Generally speaking, Victini will want to be matched up with teammates that carry some offensive prowess —Pokemon able to sweep and take advantage of the holes Victini punches in the enemy's defenses. Once again, when using Victini, you want to keep its overwhelming popularity in mind. Do not expect anyone to be surprised to see one or be unprepared to face it.
With Victini's role as a wallbreaker, general love of Choice item boosts, and access to U-turn, it is one of those Pokemon that really wishes it was good at switching in and out of battle. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Victini is exposed to Hail, Sand, Spikes, and Toxic Spikes, and has a nasty weakness to Stealth Rock. It is exposed to just about every form of passive damage, its only respite found in an immunity to burn. At the very least, keeping Stealth Rock off the field will dramatically improve Victini's performance. It is unfortunate that all of the metagame's Rapid Spin users also have trouble overcoming Slowbro; for instance, it outright counters Hitmontop and Donphan (the two most popular Rapid Spin users). Blastoise is probably the best candidate, being able to switch into Slowbro and poison it with Toxic, and also check Arcanine and Rhyperior. It should be noted that Donphan also checks Arcanine and Rhyperior. Xatu can also be used to bounce entry hazards before they get to the field.
Victini is not particularly concerned about its teammates as long as they are relatively offensive. Of course, Pokemon that can beat its counters are always welcome, so a Pokemon like Kingdra or Suicune, who can beat or set up on Slowbro and Arcanine, is always welcome. Generally speaking, as a wallbreaker that has no means of setting up, Victini loves teammates that can set up and sweep. Sometimes it is as important to consider an offensive core as much as it is to consider a defensive one.
Despite how prepared the metagame is for Victini, it's the UU poster sweeper for a reason —it can really beat face in! The onslaught of this little fella, with raw power that surpasses most Uber Pokemon, really is a sight that has to be seen —so go see it for yourself!
|« Previous Article||Home||Next Article »|