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Porygon's existence has been one more similar to the phoenix than the robotic duck. It was never a slouch in usage; it was blessed with good stats along with a wide movepool that grew even more over the years. Unfortunately, it was thought Porygon would never attain its full potential due to an idiosyncrasy with move legality. Porygon obtained the new ability Download in DPP, which gave it the potential to act as an incredible sweeper given the right conditions (such as Trick Room, which it conveniently also has), but Download was unfortunately found to be illegal with Tri Attack in Little Cup, as Porygon is genderless. It was never a bad Pokémon, however, and flaunted adequate Trick Room and Agility sets in the fourth generation.
With the dawn of BW, Eviolite was introduced into the metagame. This gave an opportunity for Porygon's much better defensive stats to truly shine. Defensive behemoths such as Porygon were now a much more dominant force in the metagame, and slowed down the incredible offensive prowess of once-unstoppable threats such as Murkrow. For one reason or another, however, Porygon simply fell out of favor. Murkrow was banned, Misdreavus was banned, Gligar was banned; suddenly, it was time for the robot to duck and cover in a metagame thriving with Fighting-types.
Thankfully, the story does not end there. With the reintroduction of all three aforementioned threats into the metagame due to a council vote, Porygon was suddenly back in business—and business is still booming. Porygon has found its niche as a Pokémon capable of handling the myriad of threats in LC that many other Pokémon simply cannot do, even with Eviolite. Let's take a closer look at just what makes this Pokémon virtually unstoppable.
Porygon sports one of the highest BSTs in Little Cup at a whopping 395 (to put that into perspective, the Pokémon with the highest BST in LC, Misdreavus, sits at just 435). Its 85 base Special Attack is simply mammoth, and is actually higher than many of the teeny behemoths in the tier, such as Houndour and Staryu. Its defensive stats don't appear to reach such an incredible level, but in tandem with Eviolite, Porygon's defensive prowess is all but unrivaled. With 26 HP and effectively 25 Defense, Porygon tanks most every attack bar those from Fighting-types exceptionally well. While Fighting-types may appear problematic for this reason, they may fear trying to switch in on Tri Attack, which will deal massive damage or even inflict some form of status.
Speaking of status, it is arguably Porygon's Achilles heel; Porygon works so well due to its incredible self-sustenance through Recover, and being badly poisoned or even burned greatly abbreviates the length of time for which it can cause the opponent trouble. Porygon's offensive sets, however, get around this by repeatedly switching-in and out when the moment calls, and lets Porygon prove itself as a threat due to the wide array of potential sets it can run. Perhaps where Porygon really shines is its movepool in tandem with its aforementioned stats; Tri Attack, Charge Beam, Shadow Ball, Ice Beam, Recover, and Thunder Wave all serve to make Porygon a tanky cannon early game and a potential sweeper late game.
Porygon typically flaunts a few different sets depending on what suits the team best. The most common set, pioneered by Smogon's own goldenknight, uses Porygon as a physical wall capable of soaking hits from Murkrow while still possessing the vital immunity to Misdreavus's STAB. These sets work well on teams with a cleric such as RestTalk Chinchou, where Porygon can stay healthy regardless of circumstance and take physical hits for the likes of Misdreavus, Larvesta, and Bronzor. As Porygon has reliable recovery, it will often be used to take a weaker hit when Pokémon such as these three (who all lack truly reliable recovery) may not be able to afford doing so. Porygon can also be used with a surprise moveslot, such as Thunder Wave, which could greatly aid the sweep of Scraggy or Dratini.
With Trace, it is easy to justify both offensive and defensive sets for Porygon. Notably, Choice Scarf Porygon can Trace Drilbur or Sandshrew's Sand Rush and then outspeed them, OHKOing with Ice Beam. This makes Porygon a fabulous counter to the up-and-coming "double Rush" strategy, which tries to use Drilbur in tandem with Sandshrew for a team that is difficult to revenge kill. Offensive sets also work well against Flash Fire users such as Houndour and Magic Bounce users such as Natu. Even without Eviolite, Choice Scarf Porygon possesses well rounded stats, yet it remains as one of the more underestimated revenge killers in the tier.
Trick Room has fallen out of favor this generation due to the prominence of Eviolite and just how easy it is to stall out the 5 turns with Pokémon such as Mienfoo spamming Fake Out. Nonetheless, Porygon remains one of the best choices for sweeping in Trick Room, and it pairs well with Slowpoke; together, both can achieve near perfect coverage and dish surprising damage to unsuspecting foes.
Before we discuss how to play against Porygon, let's discuss how not to play against Porygon. The most common mistake is to spam strong physical moves, such as Flare Blitz from Larvesta and Brave Bird from Murkrow. Spoiler alert: that one ends with recoil killing you and Porygon Recovering all the damage. The next mistake players make is to inflict Porygon with a burn by using Will-O-Wisp or Scald when they have Toxic users on their team. Most bulky Pokémon with Toxic can switch into Porygon at least once, so make sure to get the Toxic on it ASAP. The last mistake is a shout out to my friend Elevator_Music, who insists on using Shroomish to badly poison Porygon as it switches in to trace Poison Heal. Sorry bud, you'll learn not to do that eventually.
Fighting-types abound in LC, and almost all of them can deal massive damage to Porygon. If you pair a cleric with Mienfoo, it can spam Drain Punch to shut down the robot while not fearing status hax courtesy of Tri Attack. Timburr can pull off similar shenanigans without a cleric as it can garner a boost with Guts. Croagunk also works; but really, who likes Croagunk?
Porygon is also shut down by Toxic. It is very easy to pack Toxic on a Steel-type such as Bronzor; the downside is that Bronzor has no reliable recovery so it will struggle to repeatedly absorb Shadow Ball. Ferroseed resists most of Porygon's attacks, but has the added benefit of access to Leech Seed. In tandem with a bulky Water-type, such as Frillish or Slowpoke, Ferroseed will be able to stall out Porygon quite easily if you are capable of outpredicting Charge Beam.
Porygon appreciates teammates that can sponge Fighting-type attacks for it. Two of the most notable examples are Ponyta and Larvesta, who can use Flame Body in order to cripple the opponent's Mienfoo or Croagunk for the rest of the match. Misdreavus also synergizes nicely with Porygon, as Porygon is immune to Ghost-type attacks and Misdreavus is immune to Fighting-type attacks. With hazards support from Ferroseed (or if you're looking for a Fighting-type resistance, Shelmet), even defensive Porygon sets have the potential to deal massive damage just by spamming Tri Attack. Multiple layers of hazards are especially important in shutting down Mienfoo, who has Regenerator, and Timburr, who has an incredibly strong Drain Punch.
Toxic will whittle down Porygon especially quickly, so a cleric is also a good choice. Chinchou makes an especially strong choice, as it can use Scald in order to burn opposing Fighting-types as well. Nonetheless, Misdreavus once again displays excellent synergy, acts as a spinblocker, and gets access to Heal Bell. Natu is an interesting choice to counter Grass-types that give Porygon trouble, as it can make the most of Magic Bounce to act as a hard stop to Ferroseed and Foongus. Mienfoo is a good choice on almost any team these days, and can repeatedly Knock Off foes' items in order to give offensive Porygon an edge.
Now that you know just what Porygon has to offer as an anti-metagame Pokémon, what's stopping you from tearing up the ladder with the adorable virtual Pokémon? With a proper team, Porygon can stand as an unmovable force while dealing surprising damage to the foe. And while the duck may have its shortcomings in a meta with many Fighting-types, it's surely worth it to foot the bill.
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