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Despite the sheer badassery of being a samurai otter with removable swords on its arms (fins?), Samurott never really made an impact on the competitive scene at first. The powerhouses of BW simply showed Samurott up in every way possible; even the likes of Carracosta received an OU analysis while Samurott sat in the dark, unused and unwanted. Samurott isn't overly strong, bulky, or fast; there seemed to be little reason to use it over other, more specialized Water-types, like Starmie, Suicune, Slowking, or even Swanna. Even during the early stages of NU, Samurott still existed in relative obscurity until a few people got together and realized: "Hey, this thing gets Megahorn!" And thus, the legend of Swords Dance Samurott was born.
From there, Samurott has steadily climbed in popularity. Megahorn gave Samurott the ability to decimate some of the more popular physical walls, such as Tangela, and the excellent coverage it provided allowed Samurott to run Aqua Jet too, and we all know that priority makes everything more useful. Jynx's recent banning really helped bolster Samurott's usage, as it wouldn't have to throw out a random Megahorn from time to time to catch Jynx on the switch-in. Samurott's previously unexplored base 108 Special Attack began to see some use as well, and a mixed Samurott set quickly became a premier option for shredding through every wall in the tier.
Even in NU, it's the life of the underdog for Samurott—at first glance, Samurott just doesn't seem that outstanding compared to its fellow Water-types. It's got solid 95 / 85 / 70 defenses, which aren't too bad for NU and let Samurott tank a few priority moves, but because it lacks a recovery move outside of Rest, it has no meaningful way to take advantage of them. Samurott has a great base 108 Special Attack and access to Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, and Grass Knot, but Gorebyss has all of that and more, as it has a higher Special Attack stat and Shell Smash. On the physical front, Samurott's base 100 Attack and Swords Dance are impressive, but Kingler has a base 130 Attack stat, Swords Dance, and a stronger STAB move in Crabhammer. It's not these individual factors that set Samurott apart, though; it is the combination of all of these qualities that makes Samurott one of the best Pokemon in NU. Base 70 Speed is not great, but it's enough to outrun all walls and quite a few prominent Pokemon (think Gorebyss, Emboar, and Exeggutor). Samurott also has access to priority in Aqua Jet, which is invaluable for offensive teams because there are so many powerful, fast threats such as Swellow and Cinccino. Aqua Jet also really aids bulky offense teams, as it gives them a way to handle Magmortar and Charizard, which could otherwise run rampant. It has several other niche moves in its repertoire, including Taunt and Encore, which blocks status moves and creates setup opportunities, respectively. The real star of Samurott's movepool, though, is Megahorn. Megahorn allows Samurott to power through physical walls (Tangela is OHKOed by a +2 Megahorn after a bit of prior damage) and gives fantastic coverage with its STAB moves. Megahorn also gives Samurott's special set the means to bust through Ludicolo, something that its fellow special Water-types simply cannot do.
If you're using Samurott, you should probably be using an offensive team. Samurott's defenses are alright, but if you're really looking for defensive Water-types, you should take a closer look at Alomomola, Quagsire, or Ludicolo, all of which have reliable recovery and better overall bulk. From there, it's simply a matter of which set best meets the needs of your team. Swords Dance Samurott fits best on teams looking for a good, bulky mid- to late-game sweeper, and especially on those that utilize entry hazards or need the priority. Special or mixed variants work wonders for hyper offense, as they can break through all kinds of walls for other sweepers. Although it might stack up weaknesses a little bit, mixed Samurott is fantastic on rain teams, as it will smash through most rain checks and rip apart bulky Ludicolo, which is normally a full stop to rain teams. Samurott doesn't need a whole lot of outside support to do its thing (although hazards are always nice), so feel free to experiment and see which partners you like best. When using Samurott, try to not waste any opportunities to KO something or grab a Swords Dance boost, as Life Orb recoil stacks up really quickly, especially when taking Samurott's medial bulk into account. Samurott isn't the fastest otter-swordsman around either, so getting rid of faster Pokemon or wearing them down into Aqua Jet range is a great idea.
When you spot a Samurott in Team Preview, the first step is to identify the set it's running, because each has entirely different checks and counters. Sometimes it's easy to judge Samurott's set based on the team it's with; for example, if all of its teammates seem to struggle with Tangela or other physical walls, there's a pretty high chance that it's a mixed set. If the team is lacking fast sweepers and priority, it very well could be a Swords Dance variant. Don't worry too much if you're unsure right from the start of the match, because you'll figure out as soon as it attacks anyway. The key to handling Samurott is to limit its potential boosting opportunities and to stack damage on it as quickly as you can, as it has no recovery. Double switching is a great idea, as it can lure Samurott in to take entry hazard damage and force it right back out.
As far as walling Samurott goes, it depends on the set. Swords Dance variants are easily beaten by Vileplume and Amoonguss, both of which are neutral to Megahorn and can Giga Drain Samurott to death or put it to sleep with Sleep Powder or Spore, respectively. Altaria also resists both Samurott's STAB and Megahorn, although it can't do a whole lot in return. Alomomola can Toxic Samurott and use a combination of Wish and Protect to stall Samurott to death. Quagsire deserves a special mention, as it ignores all of Samurott's boosts and isn't even 3HKOed by Waterfall. On the other hand, the mixed set is much harder to handle outright. Dedicated special walls or specially bulky Pokemon such as Lickilicky and Regice can tank a hit or two and retaliate, although even they will fall to multiple attacks. It's very important to try to wear down mixed Samurott with its own Life Orb as much as you can, so some smart switching is definitely to your advantage. Offensive teams have an easier time beating mixed Samurott than physical Samurott, as they don't have to worry about Aqua Jet when revenge killing it.
Samurott is one of those rare Pokemon that doesn't need a whole lot of support itself, but rather supports other Pokemon by breaking through walls and the like. In order to capitalize on its typing, Samurott works best in bulky Fire / Water / Grass cores, with teammates such as Torterra and Emboar. Entry hazards really maximize Samurott's effectiveness and can help both variants break through walls. For example, a +2 physical Samurott has a guaranteed OHKO on Tangela with Megahorn after a layer of Spikes and Stealth Rock. That chance drops to only 60% with one layer of hazards up, and to no chance without any hazards. Stealth Rock allows the mixed variant to OHKO Cryogonal with an unboosted Megahorn. Both sets work really well with powerful physical sweepers such as Sawk or Sawsbuck, as Samurott will lure and eliminate physical walls like Tangela regardless of its set. Pokemon that can reliably switch in on Vileplume and Amoonguss and KO them, such as Magmortar and Charizard, are great teammates for the Swords Dance set because Samurott will struggle to push through them on its own. Cinccino and Swellow are some of the best partners for Samurott, as they lure in bulky Rock- and Ground-types and U-turn away to Samurott, which can just use them as setup bait or OHKO them right then and there.
Samurott is undeniably one of the best Pokemon in NU, and it's definitely worth your time to give it a spin on your team. Whether it's dancing with those strange shell swords or Hydro Pumping everything into oblivion, there's plenty of this samurai otter to go around.
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