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Kackaw! How Murkrow has not had a spotlight / featured article to date is beyond me. It is constantly praised by many LC players for being the premier offensive threat in the tier. In fact, it was originally banned on the 25th of March 2011 because of its versatility and dominance in the LC metagame! On November 8th Murkrow was unbanned and since then has remained very high in usage over the course of Gen 5 and is a threat that every team should be prepared for.
Murkrow is loved by many players because of its versatility: it can tear teams apart with Life Orb, it can annoy the opponent with "SubRoost" and even "Parafusion" tactics, and with a Choice Scarf attached, Murkrow becomes a nifty little revenge killer too! With the ability to get to 19 in Special Attack, Attack, or Speed with their respective positive nature and with full EV investment, the sky's the limit with this Pokémon and it's not just because it's a bird. Also Dark- and Flying-type are just so good for STAB on an offensive Pokémon.
Since Murkrow can run a large variety of sets, it is quite flexible and easy to place on a competitive LC team. Need a wallbreaker? Then equip Murkrow with a Life Orb and Brave Bird, Sucker Punch, Heat Wave, and Hidden Power Grass and prepare to be amazed! With the right prediction, Murkrow can pretty much 2HKO any Pokémon, even dedicated walls, which makes switching into Life Orb Murkrow extremely hard. Life Orb Brave Bird packs a serious punch since the Flying-type is just such a good offensive STAB with all the Fighting-types lurking the tier. Also, Murkrow can easily switch into Spore users such as Foongus and Shroomish thanks to Insomnia and hit them with a super effective Brave Bird. Even if Brave Bird is not super effective against a Pokémon, it is still going to do heaps of damage and soften your opponent's team up quite a bit. Of course, Murkrow will faint pretty quickly from constant Brave Bird spam due to recoil, but then again by that time it is very likely that Murkrow would have destroyed everything in its path! Murkrow is also capable of threatening some of the most common Pokémon in Little Cup. The ever present Fighting-types in the tier—Timburr, Croagunk, Mienfoo, Riolu, and Scraggy—all get destroyed by Murkrow's insanely powerful Brave Bird. Murkrow's STAB Sucker Punch should never be underestimated, especially if the black bird is carrying a Life Orb, as it's very powerful for a priority move. It allows Murkrow to revenge kill most weakened threats and fast sweepers that aren't Dark- or Steel-type, such as Drilbur, Sandshrew, and Axew. Sucker Punch also lets Murkrow take on other common Pokémon, most notably Misdreavus, Abra, Gastly, and any Shell Smasher really, barring Clamperl behind a Substitute, Tirtouga, and the rare Shellder carrying Ice Shard. Heat Wave hits Steel-types that resist Brave Bird such as Bronzor lacking Heatproof, Magnemite, and Pawniard. Hidden Power Grass most notably hits Tirtouga and Chinchou, which are both bulky and resist Brave Bird, and Hippopotas whose gargantuan Defense lets it weather most other blows from Murkrow.
SubRoost is another way to go when using Murkrow and has risen in popularity due to the fantastic synergy it has with Choice Scarf Snover. Murkrow is blessed with Prankster, which gives it priority on all non-attacking moves. Having priority Substitute and recovery in Roost gives Murkrow the ability to stay healthy throughout the course of the battle while being protected against status. Sucker Punch combined with Substitute makes Murkrow very hard to revenge kill since behind a Substitute, the opponent is forced to attack, meaning Sucker Punch will always work. Substitute + Sucker Punch also turns Murkrow into one of the best Misdreavus counters in the tier since it can avoid Will-O-Wisp and ensure that its Sucker Punch will not fail. Roost also lets Murkrow PP stall some Pokémon. One of the most notable of these is AncientPower Lileep, which is not really a counter to Murkrow since after AncientPower is used eight times, Murkrow has nothing to fear from the fossil plant except the fact that it can heal off damage with Recover. Also, while Roost does give Murkow a weakness to Bug and Fighting temporarily, Murkrow is often behind a Substitute to protect itself from those hits and can fire back with a super effective Brave Bird. Speaking of Brave Bird, even if you don't opt for Life Orb, it is still powerful and allows SubRoost Murkrow to often achieve a late game sweep. Eviolite is usually the item of choice because it lets Murkrow's Substitutes survive weak hits, but Life Orb is also good on this set for the power boost its gives its STABs plus the fact that Murkrow can heal off any damage received with Roost.
Murkrow also has many other options. A Choice Scarf set is very good since Murkrow hits the 19 Speed tier. With a Choice Scarf attached, it can even outspeed Shell Smashers—Clamperl, Tirtouga, and Shellder—and of course the unboosted metagame. Brave Bird is strong enough to guarantee a revenge kill on most weakened threats, while Heat Wave and Hidden Power Grass are used again for coverage against Steel-types, Chinchou, and Hippopotas. A Choice Scarf Murkrow can even sweep late-game with Brave Bird, but keep in mind that as a Choice Scarf user, Murkrow will be switching out a lot, so Rapid Spin support will help it greatly by mitigating its Stealth Rock weakness.
Prankster combined with options like FeatherDance, Thunder Wave, Confuse Ray, Toxic, and Calm Mind make Murkrow capable of running other sets that are still quite viable, although you will probably be sticking to the first three.
Firstly, since Murkrow is quite versatile, finding out what set the opponent is using can really come in handy. For example, if your opponent has a SubRoost Murkrow, then switching in your Pawniard is a good idea. However, if your opponent is running the Mixkrow set with a Life Orb, it is a bad idea because Heat Wave will stop Pawniard from sweeping. Mixkrow is very hard to switch into, but a few bulky Pokémon such as Porygon, Lileep, and Bronzor are able to take 2 hits and fight back with status moves like Toxic and ThunderWave to make it easier to deal with. If Mixkrow is heavily weakened, then just finish it off with an attacking move. Some Choice Scarf users make good checks to Mixkrow since although they can't switch in, they can definitely threaten it. Mienfoo, Snover, and Chinchou are good examples. Mienfoo resists Sucker Punch and hits very hard with either Hi Jump Kick or Stone Edge, while Chinchou has STAB Electric-type moves and resists Brave Bird, letting it have the ability to check Murkrow, although Sucker Punch could KO if it is weakened. Choice Scarf Snover with Ice Shard can make Murkrow's attempts to Sucker Punch it fail and while it has only 40 Base Power, Snover has STAB on it and Mixkrow is often weakened due to Life Orb and Brave Bird recoil. SubRoost Murkrow is way harder to revenge kill, although without Life Orb it is more easily managed by Pokémon such as Porygon, Lileep, Bronzor, Magnemite, and Chinchou. Additionally, Shell Smash Tirtouga and Swords Dance Pawniard can even use SubRoost Krow as set-up bait! Choice Scarf Murkrow can be walled by the Pokémon above and set up on by Tirtouga and Pawniard, although it is pretty much impossible to revenge kill. Of course in general, Stealth Rock helps to weaken Murkrow due to its weakness to the floating stones and having a Flying-type resist is beneficial to stop Brave Bird spam.
Murkow is pretty easy to fit onto teams. One of the most popular cores going around is Choice Scarf Snover and SubRoost Murkrow. Snover can lure in Fighting-types such as Mienfoo, Timburr and Croagunk, which Murkrow can set up Substitutes on and scare them out with Bave Bird. Additionally, Snover resists Chinchou's STAB moves and can beat it with Giga Drain, clearing out one of Murkrow's counters. Mienfoo is also a good partner for Murkrow, as it can easily pivot to Murkrow with U-turn and lures in Ghost-types like Gastly, Misdreavus, and Frillish that Murkrow can beat. With Knock Off, Mienfoo can remove the Eviolites of walls, making it very hard to keep Murkrow from wrecking teams. Mixkrow can be paired with pretty much any set-up sweeper for its ability to single-handedly rip apart defensive cores. Some strong set-up sweepers include Scraggy, Tirtouga, Timburr, Pawniard, Misdreavus, and many more!
I hope you have gotten an idea of why Murkrow is so powerful and why you should use it because honestly, if you are not using Murkrow, then you may be at a serious disadvantage against the people who are! Kacaw!
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