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Slowbro's life is best described as a rollercoaster ride. Back in the Paleozoic era, better known as RBY, Slowbro was known as a fearsome sweeper, employing its trademark set, Tobybro, which consisted of Amnesia, Psychic, Rest, and Thunder Wave. As a testament to how good it really was, Tobybro was—and still remains—one of the most recognizable set names in the history of competitive Pokémon. A few years later, GSC rolled along and brought with it a few new toys for Slowbro to play with—namely Curse and Belly Drum—but the loss of Amnesia (which was literally Calm Mind on steroids, due to RBY mechanics) actually made Slowbro worse than it was before. So much so that it, in fact, dropped out of OU, never to return for the remainder of its prosperous career.
The Advance generation gave Slowbro a brand new niche as one of the few Pokémon that could stop all of Salamence, Dragonite, Gyarados, and physical Tyranitar in their tracks. However, Suicune, Milotic, and Swampert also existed, so Slowbro found itself a part of the BL metagame, where it differentiated itself from fellow bulky Water-type Blastoise thanks to its brand new toy, Calm Mind. Diamond and Pearl then came along and endowed it with yet another useful tool: Slack Off. This was great for it, as it meant it no longer had to employ the increasingly unreliable Rest to recover lost HP, allowing it to go back to its roots and employ a watered down version of its famous Tobybro set with Surf, Calm Mind, Slack Off, and a choice between Thunder Wave or a coverage move.
Finally, the most recent generation came along and granted it even more amazing gifts, including Psyshock, which allows it to not only hit Roserade super effectively on its weaker defensive stat, but also win Calm Mind wars much more easily, and the ever-irritating Scald, which acts as both a reliable STAB move and as a status spreader at the same time. The most notable of all of Slowbro's improvements, however, is undoubtedly what is arguably the single best ability in the entire game: Regenerator. All the weapons Slowbro has stockpiled through the years have made it a truly fierce competitor in its current environment, and it's sure to stay that way for years to come.
One of the things that stands out the most about Slowbro is that it possesses what is widely regarded as the best movepool of all the bulky Water-types (bar its cousin Slowking, who has the same movepool, plus Dragon Tail and Nasty Plot). Among its useful moves you can find Fire Blast, which it can use for coverage on the various Grass-types it dislikes; Calm Mind, which it can use to sweep late-game; and nifty coverage moves such as Grass Knot, which it can take full advantage of when sporting Choice Specs. On top of this, its great Defense and pretty good HP, in combination with its very cool defensive typing—which gives it a convenient resistance to most of the common powerful physical attacks in the tier—Flare Blitz, V-create, Close Combat, and DynamicPunch, to name a few—make it one of the sturdiest physical tanks in UU.
However, the quality that truly makes Slowbro the best at what it does is undeniably its incredible ability. In case you're unfamiliar with it, Regenerator allows Slowbro to recover 33% of its HP every single time it switches out. What this means—aside from the obvious fact that it's a lot harder to get rid of—is that Slowbro can spend its time using Scald and trying to burn opposing Pokémon instead of healing itself, greatly increasing its effectiveness. Additionally, it can fearlessly switch into U-turns from terrifying beasts such as Darmanitan and not be worn down over the course of the game. And as if that wasn't enough, Regenerator also exponentially increases the effectiveness of Slowbro's more offensive sets, namely the Choice Specs set. This is because, aside from being able to severely hurt anything in the tier with a moveset consisting of Scald / Surf, Psyshock, Grass Knot, and Fire Blast, its ability makes Slowbro nigh-impossible to wear down a bit at a time.
Ah, yes. This is the best thing about Slowbro—it's incredibly easy to use. Unlike other bulky Water-types, who need to find free turns to try and regain their lost HP through their respective recovery moves, thanks to Regenerator, Slowbro simply needs to switch out to do so! This allows it to be the hardest possible counter to physically offensive behemoths that love to U-turn around early-game to wear down their counters, such as Darmanitan and Victini. Fighting-types such as Machamp, and other dangerous Pokémon such as Flygon, also have a really hard time damaging Slowbro. As a rule of thumb, if it attacks physically and its name is not Heracross or Weavile, Slowbro is a good answer to it.
Generally, there are three things Slowbro should be doing aside from generally being a huge pain in the ass. Spreading status around the opposing team with Thunder Wave, Toxic, or Scald is probably the most common and effective one. A Calm Mind set with Scald and Psyshock for dual STAB coverage, and Slack Off to wrap up the set is also a common sight. Early game it plays similarly to the standard defensive set—spreading burns around with Scald, countering Fire-types, all that jazz—but late game, once its obstacles have been removed, it can start setting up Calm Minds utilizing its great Defense to avoid being KOed from that side, and STAB Psyshock to win Calm Mind wars. Slowbro can also take a more simple route and employ a Choice Specs set, which makes it much immediately threatening and gives it the ability to blow holes in opposing teams.
Hard-countering Slowbro is... surprisingly hard. Not only can it potentially status anything you switch into it, but its offensive movepool and Special Attack stats are large enough to actually hurt its switch-ins. That said, with its virtual immunity to status and borderline broken STAB Seed Flare, Shaymin stands tall as the single best Slowbro switch-in in the game, but even it takes about 50% from an uninvested Fire Blast and is OHKOed by a Choice Specs boosted one. Roserade is in a very similar boat, but it also needs to watch out for Slowbro's STAB Psyshock. Rotom-C also performs similarly, being able to threaten Slowbro with Volt Switch to gain momentum, but it lacks Natural Cure to heal status and fears Fire Blast. Other Electric-types, such as Zapdos and Raikou, usually have the bulk to take a couple hits and will absolutely demolish Slowbro with their STAB Thunderbolt.
If you want to take it down from the physical side, strong Bug- and Dark-type moves, such as Heracross's Megahorn and Weavile's Night Slash, are your best bet. However, neither of these can OHKO Slowbro without a boost due to its sheer physical bulk. Another option is to use it as setup bait for Pokémon who simply do not care about status; Dragon Dance Kingdra with either RestTalk or Substitute are the most notable options here. Finally, hitting Slowbro with a Toxic (or having it come in Toxic Spikes) prevents it from sweeping you with Calm Mind late-game, but thanks to Regenerator, its early game utility barely diminishes.
This isn't too hard either. Slowbro offers so much utility that the only real reason not to use it is if your team is already stacked with Slowbro's type weaknesses. Nevertheless, in order to maximize said utility, it's a good idea to pair it with the appropriate partners and give it proper support.
Defensively speaking, Slowbro appreciates partners that can tank the various moves commonly aimed at it. Snorlax is one of the more obvious choices, as it effortlessly counters Shaymin, Roserade, Zapdos, Raikou, and various other special attackers that threaten Slowbro's well-being. Specially defensive Escavalier is also a good partner, as in addition to countering Roserade and Shaymin (Hidden Power Fire-less ones, at least) and checking Raikou, it makes for an excellent check to most variants of Kingdra and hard-counters Weavile. Chandelure's unique typing lets it serve as a nice check to most Heracross variants, making it a great partner for Slowbro. Rapid Spin users are also nice to have around, as even with its mighty Regenerator, Slowbro will be hard-pressed to keep up with repeated blows on top of the added residual damage entry hazards deal. However, it might be enough to simply pair Slowbro with a grounded Poison-type, such as Roserade or Nidoking, as Toxic Spikes are the most hindering form of entry hazards to Calm Mind variants.
Although Slowbro's preferred partners are generally similar, certain Pokémon perform better alongside specific sets. For example, if you're using a Choice Specs set, a partner such as Offensive Calm Mind Suicune is ideal. Not only does it take advantage of holes Slowbro leaves behind, it also takes some pressure off of the less bulky spread that the Specs set typically uses. Alternatively, if you're using a Calm Mind Slowbro, you'll probably want to focus more on making sure it can sweep late-game, while the defensive set simply appreciates having good defensively synergistic partners. Keeping these things in mind is key to getting the most mileage out of each set—and this applies to every Pokémon, not just Slowbro.
So I suppose by now you're wondering why you haven't been using Slowbro more. The answer is simple: I don't know. It is legitimately as good as this article makes it sound, but don't take my word for it. Get out there! Go find out for yourself just how great this er... hermit crab / hippopotamus thing with a deformed Shellder on its tail (hermit hippo...?) really is! Until next time, see you on the ladder!
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