Metagame Trends in Monotype

By Decem. Released: 2018/12/29.
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Brief description

Art by BlueberryBlanket.


Because of its state as a non-usage-based tier, Monotype is often disregarded as a static metagame with little or no innovation. This is not the case, as innovation and metagame development are two constantly reappearing traits of the Monotype metagame shown though tournaments such as Monotype Premier League and other Smogon-hosted tournaments. Typical Monotype teambuilding aims to have good matchups with as many types as possible. However, teambuilding in a tournament setting differs from usual teambuilding because tournament players will sometimes build with different Pokemon or unique sets as they prepare for specific possible matchups, which brings out the innovation in Monotype. Let's take a look at some examples of trending Pokémon and sets in the recent Monotype metagame.

Taunt Calm Mind Keldeo

  • Waterium Z Keldeo @ Waterium Z
  • Ability: Justified
  • EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
  • Timid Nature
  • IVs: 0 Atk
  • - Hydro Pump
  • - Secret Sword
  • - Taunt
  • - Calm Mind

Keldeo has always been an excellent offensive option on Water-type teams. Its strong Fighting-type STAB attacks coupled with its great Special Attack allow it to break down threatening types such as Normal, Dark, and Steel and threaten a vast majority of the metagame when given boosting items such as Choice Specs, an item that provides immediate wallbreaking power. However, Choice Specs Keldeo has been dropping in favor of Taunt + Calm Mind Keldeo. This set proves to be a devastating threat to balanced builds that have to prevent it from setting up, while Taunt keeps Haze users such as Toxapex and Mantine in check. Taunt is also useful for preventing Pokémon such as Celesteela and Slowbro from crippling it with status moves, which limit its sweeping capacity by putting it on a timer in the case of Toxic or slowing it in the case of Thunder Wave. Waterium Z is the preferred item, as it allows Keldeo to break through weakened defensive Pokémon such as Zapdos, Celesteela, and Toxapex after using Calm Mind. Leftovers is an alternate item that gives Keldeo passive recovery, which keeps it from getting worn down by burns and hazards. Choice Scarf Greninja is a good partner for Keldeo because it can help keep faster foes in check and use U-turn to bring Keldeo in when necessary. Replay

Curse Alolan Muk

  • Iapapa Berry Muk-Alola @ Iapapa Berry
  • Ability: Gluttony
  • EVs: 248 HP / 12 Def / 248 SpD
  • Careful Nature
  • - Recycle
  • - Curse
  • - Knock Off
  • - Poison Jab

Alolan Muk is an important member of balanced Dark-type teams because of its convenient Poison typing, which allows it to take Fairy-type attacks neutrally, along with its good special bulk that allows it to serve as a blanket check to special attackers. These attributes make Alolan Muk an important member of Dark's defensive core, along with Mandibuzz, Tyranitar, and Mega Sableye. Dark teams adapted to the overall prevalence of Fairy-type teams in the metagame by giving up Alolan Muk's Assault Vest set and using Curse + Recycle Alolan Muk instead. Running Curse on Alolan Muk allows it to threaten Fairy teams, as well as other types such as Electric, Grass, and Normal if it is able to set up effectively, while Recycle and Iapapa Berry serve as a form of longevity, especially when combined with Curse. Alolan Muk does need to be aware of Knock Off users such as Mew, Mega Sableye, and Azumarill while still holding its Berry, as Recycle cannot reuse items that have been removed with Knock Off, taking its only form of recovery. Although Assault Vest Alolan Muk is by no means unviable on Dark, it has begun to find itself overshadowed by Curse Alolan Muk, which keeps Fairy in check more effectively while also being a decent setup sweeper. Replay


  • choice band Metagross @ Choice Band
  • Ability: Clear Body
  • EVs: 84 HP / 252 Atk / 172 Spe
  • Adamant Nature
  • - Meteor Mash
  • - Bullet Punch
  • - Thunder Punch
  • - Pursuit

Choice Band Metagross has picked up usage on Psychic-type teams due to the fact that it performs well in the Fairy-type matchup and Psychic-type mirror matchup. A combination of Bullet Punch and Meteor Mash in conjunction with a Choice Band boost lets it pose a threat to Fairy-type teams, with the former being used to pick off threats like Mega Diancie and Mimikyu while the latter is used to break through Pokémon like Clefable. Pursuit is also great in the Psychic mirror matchup, as it allows Metagross to trap and pick off threats such as Latias, Latios, and Choice Band Victini after a V-create. Although Victini may seem like a better Choice Band user by far, Choice Band Metagross is also a decent pick on Psychic teams because it is able to capitalize on the Fairy- and Psychic-type matchups, with Mimikyu even picking up usage on Fairy teams to deal with Psychic teams of the sort. Celebi is a great partner for Choice Band Metagross, as it provides valuable resistances in Water, Ground, and Electric and it can use Thunder Wave to cripple opposing Pokémon for Metagross or bring Metagross in with U-turn. Replay

Stallbreaker Hydreigon

  • z Hydreigon @ Dragonium Z
  • Ability: Levitate
  • EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
  • Timid Nature
  • IVs: 0 Atk
  • - Dark Pulse
  • - Draco Meteor
  • - Taunt
  • - Roost

Hydreigon has been an important member of Dark-type teams since BW Monotype as one of their premier special attackers. Recently, a new stallbreaker set showed up for Hydreigon over the typical Choice Specs variants, an item that allowed Hydreigon to serve as a devastating wallbreaker. With balance being a major dominating playstyle in Monotype, stallbreaker Hydreigon is quite effective in this current metagame. The set revolves around using Taunt along with Dark Pulse to wear down bulky Pokémon such as Toxapex and Mantine while using Roost to heal off damage when necessary. Dragonium Z is the preferred item, supporting Hydreigon's offensive capabilities by supplying it with a nuke that allows it to break past defensive Pokémon with more ease as well as prevent offensive Pokémon from switching in for free. Be careful when switching directly into defensive Pokémon, as they usually carry status moves such as Toxic or Thunder Wave that can either put Hydreigon on a timer or slow it down to the point where paralysis gets in the way of its stallbreaking. That being said, Taunt + Roost Hydreigon does well against opposing balanced builds such as Water and Flying, matchups where it can easily use Taunt and Dark Pulse to take on a majority of the defensive cores. Although Choice Specs Hydreigon provides astounding wallbreaking power, stallbreaker Hydreigon is very easy to fit on Dark-type teams, as it breaks down opposing balanced teams while balanced Dark-type teams have their own defensive core to support it. Choice Scarf Greninja provides an excellent partner for Hydreigon, as it can use U-turn bring it in and check faster offensive threats. Replay

Mega Aerodactyl

  • z Aerodactyl-Mega @ Aerodactylite
  • Ability: Unnerve
  • EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
  • Jolly Nature
  • - Stone Edge
  • - Earthquake
  • - Pursuit
  • - Stealth Rock / Ice Fang

Mega Aerodactyl's presence on Flying-type teams comes from the variety of roles it can fill in one slot. Mega Charizard Y Flying teams took a hit in usage this generation because Mega Charizard struggles with Fairy-type Pokémon such as Tapu Koko and Mega Diancie and gets downright hard walled by Pokémon such as Toxapex and Mantine. Mega Aerodactyl is able to check the aforementioned threats that Mega Charizard Y struggles with, such as Tapu Koko, Mega Diancie, and Toxapex, as well as loosen up the need to run a Choice Scarf user to revenge kill fast threats. Access to Stealth Rock means that it can act as an effective hazard setter, and access to Pursuit allows it to trap and remove Pokémon such as Victini and Alolan Raichu that can pose a threat to Flying teams, as well as pick off weakened Pokémon. Ice Fang Mega Aerodactyl helps alleviate the hard Dragon matchup, as it is able to hit Kyurem-B with Stone Edge and its teammates with Ice Fang. Mega Aerodactyl's role compression is what makes it an excellent pick on Flying-type teams, and it supports Flying's defensive core well by picking off fast offensive threats such as Tapu Koko and Kyurem-Black that the core struggles to deal with. Replay


  • z Mimikyu @ Life Orb
  • Ability: Disguise
  • EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
  • Adamant Nature
  • - Swords Dance
  • - Shadow Claw
  • - Shadow Sneak
  • - Play Rough

In response to Psychic's overall dominance, Mimikyu started gaining usage on Fairy-type teams. By getting up a free Swords Dance with Disguise and using boosted Shadow Claws and Shadow Sneaks, Mimikyu is able to tear through a Psychic team with ease late-game. Although Psychic is a matchup that Mimikyu excels in, it can also support Fairy in other matchups by being a decent late-game sweeper with Life Orb. Disguise also provides decent utility in being able to blanket check opposing Pokémon. Life Orb is the preferred item on Fairy, as it provides the raw power that Mimikyu can use to sweep without having the need to use a Z-Crystal, which are often reserved for other slots on a Fairy team such as Z-Belly Drum Azumarill. On a typical Fairy team, replacing Klekfi or Clefable is usually the way to go in order to find a teamslot for Mimikyu. Fairy's offensive core pressures the opposing team and helps wear Mimikyu's checks and counters down, allowing it to sweep late-game. Replay


  • z Zeraora @ Choice Band
  • Ability: Volt Absorb
  • EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
  • Jolly Nature
  • - Plasma Fists
  • - Knock Off
  • - Close Combat
  • - Iron Tail

With the introduction of Zeraora, Electric-type teams were gifted with a more reliable physical attacker that has both the necessary Speed and coverage moves like Knock Off and Close Combat to threaten a multitude of types including the tough Normal matchup. Before Zeraora was introduced, Electric teams struggled with Normal teams because they relied on Alolan Golem to break through Normal's defensive core. Although Galvanize-boosted Return and Explosion do serious damage to Normal's defensive core, Alolan Golem struggles as a physical wallbreaker due to its terribly low Speed stat, and Diggersby is always able to come in on it. Zeraora applies a ton a pressure on Normal as it naturally outspeeds and threatens everything with Plasma Fists and Close Combat. Zeraora quickly became an important member of Electric-type teams and can even run mixed sets with Expert Belt or Life Orb to catch Pokémon such as Swampert and Gastrodon off gaurd with Grass Knot and surprise Gliscor, Landorus, and Garchomp with Hidden Power Ice. Unfortunately, fitting Zeraora onto a standard Electric team means giving up a slot usually dedicated to Magnezone; because of this, Alolan Golem started running a Magnet Pull set in order to trap Steel-type Pokémon, a role Magnezone would usually fulfill. Replay

Magnet Pull Alolan Golem

  • balloon Golem-Alola @ Air Balloon
  • Ability: Magnet Pull
  • EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
  • Adamant Nature
  • - Earthquake
  • - Fire Punch
  • - Stealth Rock
  • - Wild Charge

Stealth Rock has always been an important attribute in Monotype and competitive Pokémon in general, and Alolan Golem is the best setter available to Electric-type teams, making it an ever-so-important teammate. Before Zeraora was released, many Electric teams relied on Alolan Golem's good Attack along with Galvanize to break through Normal's defensive core, as Chansey defensively checks a majority of the type, which is almost entirely made of special attackers. However, Alolan Golem still struggled to defeat Normal's defensive core, as its low Speed stat, Diggersby's Electric immunity, and status and hazards all made its job hard. Currently, since using Zeraora on an Electric team usually means the team has to now forego Magnezone, Zeraora is commonly paired with Air Balloon Magnet Pull Alolan Golem to trap Steel-type Pokémon. The set compresses a Magnet Pull trapper and a Stealth Rock setter into one teamslot, providing utility as well as trapping and removing the majority of Steel-type Pokémon. Successfully taking out Choice Scarf Excadrill and Ferrothorn often means that the Steel team has no Electric answer, which means that Zapdos, Rotom-W, and Choice Specs Tapu Koko are able to grab momentum with Volt Switch or freely use high-powered Electric Terrain-boosted STAB moves. Replay

Get out there!

Although Monotype may at first seem like a stagnant metagame because of the reappearing archetypes along with the generic sets, there is still a lot of room for new ideas and teams. Tournaments like Monotype Premier League and even Monotype Seasonals showcase metagame advancements Monotype players make to adapt to recent metagame trends. It may not be as noticeable as other official tiers such as UnderUsed and OverUsed, but Monotype's metagame is slowly changing despite it not being a usage-based tier. Whenever you decide to play Monotype, be sure to analyze the current metagame, be prepared, and keep an open mind!

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