Monot(OU)ype part 3: Defensive Pokémon

By Dream Eater Gengar and Eien. Art by boyvirus.
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Introduction

Have you ever hopped on the Monotype ladder and noticed people using Pokémon from the lower standard tiers with success? Or have you wondered how to build a successful team for types that do not have access to several OverUsed Pokémon? Teambuilding in Monotype is often very different from building in the standard, usage-based tiers because of the limited pool of Pokémon each type has to choose from.

For one, defensive synergy is substantially different because the concept of "switching in something that resists it" on a predicted super effective attack is rare, since the entire team shares a type. Instead, defensive strategies center around walls and immunities, which may not be as viable in usage-based tiers. Because not every type has access to the best OU defensive Pokémon to cover important coverage moves and matchups, many teams resort to using less common options. For instance, Mega Aggron is an extremely handy Pokémon for Rock-type teams due to its typing and ability allowing it to take on various threats such as Scizor, Breloom, and Azumaril. Klefki is a key Pokémon for Fairy-type teams, since its role as support Pokémon is undeniable one of the best; not only it is able to set up Light Screen and Reflect easier, it is also able to cripple the foe with Thunder Wave and Spikes thanks to Prankster. In Monotype, Pokémon from the lower tiers are used to fill specific roles that the type may not have access to if only OU Pokémon were to be used, such as setting and removing entry hazards or taking offensive and / or defensive roles. This article is the final part of the series highlighting Pokémon from lower tiers—UU, RU, NU, and PU—that fill these important roles on teams in the Monotype metagame. This edition will be focused on defensive Pokémon.

The Pokémon

Klefki

Klefki

Klefki is one of the best support Pokémon for Fairy-type teams due to its ability in Prankster and great moves, and luckily these teams do have the Pokémon to take advantage of such a role. Although not often seen in OU, Light Screen and Reflect halve damage from special and physical moves, respectively, allowing Klefki's teammates to take take hits from the foe and set up. Thunder Wave paralyzes the foe to allow hard hitters on Fairy-type teams such as Mega Diancie and Azumarill to outspeed and OHKO it, and it also is able to stop opposing setup sweepers thanks to Prankster. The fourth is a choice between Foul Play and Spikes; both have their uses, but Foul Play is preferred to not be Taunt bait and allows Klefki to deal with Scizor, which is a huge problem to Fairy-type teams. Spikes punishes the opponent's switch-ins allowing Fairy-type Pokémon to nail OHKOs and sweep easily. Like said before, Fairy-type teams have great Pokémon to take advantage of such supportive capabilities. Azumarill is one of them, as behind Light Screen and Reflect it can set up Belly Drum with no fear of being OHKOed by a neutral attack and threaten the opponent with Aqua Jet. Clefable is another scary Pokémon behind screens and Thunder Wave, as it can effectively set up Calm Mind to boost both its Special Attack and Special Defense, turning it to a threat that is hard to stop for most teams.

Alomomola

Alomomola

When you talk about Alomomola in Monotype people scream "Stall Water!". Alomomola is an amazing Pokémon for Water-type stall teams, as it is the only reliable Wish passer for them. Thanks to its colossal physical bulk, Alomomola can switch on most physical attackers and heal back with Wish or pass the healing to an ally. This Pokémon is also blessed with Regenerator, giving it longevity. Alomomola is a passive defensive Pokémon, which is why using Scald on it a must to fish for burns that cripple the foe. Mirror Coat is the favored fourth move to use, as with 192 Special Defense EVs, Alomomola can survive a Solar Beam from Mega Charizard Y, a huge threat to Stall Water, and OHKO it with Mirror Coat. Toxic is the other option, allowing Alomomola to stall out the foe more easily.

Porygon2

Porygon2

It's no surprise that Porygon2 is on this list, as alongside Chansey it forms one of the most influential defensive cores in Monotype for Normal-type teams. Thanks to its great defenses coupled with Eviolite, it is able to withstand a handful of physical attackers that trouble Normal-type teams such as Mega Scizor and Bisharp. Furthermore, these threats cannot set up on it due to Foul Play's damage output getting boosted. Porygon2 runs Ice Beam to allow it to take on various threats such as Gliscor, which is able to break through cores of Normal-type teams, Garchomp, and Landorus. Toxic is used to cripple walls such as Zapdos. Thunder Wave is the other option beside Toxic to allow Porygon2 to cripple the opposing Pokémon Speed. As mentioned above, Chansey is the prime partner for Porygon2, as the former easily sponges specially offensive moves, allowing Porygon2 to fully invest in Defense EVs and tank hits on the physical side. Defensive Staraptor fits well between the two, as it can Defog hazards away and stop the team from being crippled by them.

Sableye

Sableye
  • Leftovers Sableye @ Leftovers
  • Ability: Prankster
  • EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
  • Careful Nature
  • - Recover
  • - Will-O-Wisp
  • - Taunt
  • - Confide

Sableye is a staple for Dark-type teams thanks to its secondary Ghost typing giving it an immunity to Fighting-type moves and a neutrality to Bug-type moves. On top of this, it is blessed with a great ability in Prankster, allowing it to check physical threats with Will-O-Wisp such as Excadrill, Scizor, Scolipede, and Terrakion. It can make good use of Recover and also stop opposing defensive Pokémon such as Chansey, Hippowdon, and Tyranitar thanks to its priority Taunt. While almost never seen in UU, Confide is a key move to the set, allowing it to weaken specially offensive Pokémon that could otherwise break Sableye, most notably Keldeo, a huge threat to Dark-type teams. Tyranitar and Mandibuzz are great teammates for Sableye, as together they can help switch into special and physical attacks, respectively. Bisharp also likes coming in on crippled Pokémon such as burned Dragon-types and Taunted defensive Pokémon, allowing it to set up more easily.

  • Leftovers Sableye @ Leftovers
  • Ability: Prankster
  • EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 SpD
  • Careful Nature
  • - Knock Off
  • - Will-O-Wisp
  • - Taunt
  • - Recover

Sableye is Ghost's best stallbreaker, capable of Taunting and slowly whittling down almost any wall. In addition to this, Sableye is a decent check to physical attackers, thanks to its priority Will-O-Wisp halving their Attack. To this end, Sableye can opt for a more physically defensive spread, which also helps it take Knock Off more easily, since it's the only viable Ghost-type not weak to that move. Speaking of which, Sableye itself brings Knock Off utility too, which lets it remove crucial defensive items such as Chansey's Eviolite. Sableye is also crucial to preventing entry hazards from being set up, as Ghost teams do not have any viable entry hazard removal options. It has a rough time against Fire-types that cannot be burned, but pairing Sableye with the likes of Jellicent and Chandelure goes a long way to patching up this weakness. Its unique typing, versatility, and access to so many valuable support options makes it a key member of many Ghost teams.

Whimsicott

Whimsicott

Whimsicott is a nice supporting Pokémon that Grass-type teams have access to. Its good secondary typing allows it to resist moves from threatening types such as Dragon, Fighting, and Dark. Stun Spore stops speedy setup sweepers and other offensive threats such as Hoopa-U, Mega Charizard Y, and Heracross. Leech Seed and Substitute let Whimsicott stall out the foe effectively without losing its health. Moonblast hits Dragon-, Fighting-, and Dark-type Pokémon such as Hydreigon, Breloom, and Sableye super effectively. Whimsicott pairs well with Mega Venusaur, Ferrothorn, and Cradily, forming a strong defensive core, since Mega Venusaur sponges Poison-type moves that Whimsicott is afraid of, and Cradily sets up Stealth Rock and is hit neutrally by Fire-type moves. Ferrothorn is the final piece of the core with an important neutrality to Ice-type attacks and a resistance to Steel-type attacks. It can also set Spikes, which Whimsicott's ability to force switches easily can capitalize on.

Jellicent

Jellicent

Jellicent is one of the key components of the Ghost defensive core. It has great special bulk and access to reliable recovery, which sets it up as a great candidate for being a wall. Jellicent's typing and ability are really what makes it so useful, though. While Ghost is not inherently weak to Fire, many Ghost teams use Will-O-Wisp as their primary way to combat physical attackers, and since Fire-type Pokémon are immune to burns, Jellicent's Water typing makes it a fantastic check to many of them. Many Ghost-types are also very susceptible to Scald, as the likes of Golurk and Chandelure are easily dispatched by any Water-type attack, which Jellicent can easily switch into at any time. Jellicent also does incredibly well against offensive teams that can't break through it. Its use of the unorthodox Acid Armor to boost its lower Defense and use of Toxic and Scald burns allow it to completely wall and stall out entire types, such as Fighting. Speaking of Golurk and Chandelure, Jellicent pairs well with them, as Golurk can switch into Electric-type attacks and Chandelure can take on Grass-type Pokémon. Because Jellicent is reliant on Acid Armor boosts for its Defense and hates losing its Leftovers, Sableye is also a great teammate for tanking Knock Offs.

Lanturn

Lanturn

Lanturn is one of the few Electric-immune Pokémon that Water teams can field, making it a very common presence on any balance or defensive team. It has a great HP stat and can pivot into many special attacks, thanks to its decent special bulk. It also comes packed with fantastic utility: Lanturn can viably use Scald, Toxic, and Thunder Wave to spread whatever status its team needs and can also even use Heal Bell to remove status that the opposing team might try to use in retaliation. Due to its low Speed, Lanturn can take great advantage of Volt Switch to bring teammates into play safely as well. Because it lacks reliable recovery and has poor Defense, one of Lanturn's favorite teammates is Alomomola, which can both provide Wish support and switch into many physical attackers.

Mega Aggron

Mega Aggron

I know what you're thinking: Mega Aggron isn't Rock-type! Luckily for Rock teams, though, regular Aggron had a Rock typing, and that's what counts. Mega Aggron is one of the most crucial pieces of the defensive Rock backbone thanks to its ridiculous Defense and the loss of its Rock typing. Mega Aggron's typing is uniquely useful because it's not weak to Water-type attacks and also resists Grass- and Steel-type attacks. With its post-Mega Evolution ability in Filter, it can survive the blows of even some of the most powerful Ground- and Fighting-type physical threats such as Landorus-T and Mega Medicham. It's hardly passive either, though, as it can serve as a sweeper thanks to its use of Curse and RestTalk. Mega Aggron can also viably run Fire Punch if desired to allow it to check one of the top threats to the type: Mega Scizor. All of this combines to make Mega Aggron one of the best physical walls of the entire type. It does still need some help, particularly from special walls such as Cradily, as almost any special wallbreaker will have no trouble at all taking down this behemoth.

Gastrodon

Gastrodon

Gastrodon is one of the most critical elements to a Ground team due to its ability Storm Drain. Few Ground Pokémon can boast a Water immunity, and Gastrodon is the most defensive of them all. By fully investing into Defense, Gastrodon can always switch into Choice Specs Keldeo, one of the main threats to Ground teams. Alternatively, investing into Special Defense would allow Gastrodon to counter Kingdra, instead and players should consider this tradeoff when deciding their EV spread. Gastrodon comes equipped with access to Recover and Toxic, which allow it to wall out and slowly chip away many foes. It can even use Earthquake, which allows Gastrodon to defeat Substitute + Calm Mind Keldeo. Gastrodon itself needs very little team support, as it is usually the supportive backbone for the team.

Cradily

Cradily
  • Leftovers Cradily @ Leftovers
  • Ability: Storm Drain
  • EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA
  • Bold Nature
  • IVs: 0 Atk
  • - Giga Drain
  • - Mirror Coat
  • - Recover
  • - Toxic

Cradily's Storm Drain makes it almost mandatory for all Rock teams. As the only available Pokémon with an immunity to Water-type attacks, Cradily is a very welcome check for a type so weak to Water. Its great defensive stats and access to reliable recovery make it a very useful wall. Its STAB Giga Drain allows it to deal respectable damage and importantly can help it break the Substitute of Mega Gyarados, perhaps the one biggest threat to Rock teams. Cradily on Rock teams choose complete physical defense investment for two reasons: to avoid the 2HKO from +1 Mega Gyarados and to avoid the OHKO from Choice Specs Keldeo's Secret Sword. Surviving Keldeo's attacks allows it to retaliate with a fatal Mirror Coat. Cradily is often paired with the likes of Assault Vest Tyranitar and Mega Aggron, forming a surprisingly resilient defensive core.

  • Leftovers Cradily @ Leftovers
  • Ability: Storm Drain
  • EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 SpD
  • Careful Nature
  • - Rock Slide
  • - Recover
  • - Stealth Rock
  • - Toxic / Earthquake

Grass teams use a completely different Cradily from Rock teams. Cradily is blessed with a Rock typing (one of the only times you'll ever read that line!) and takes only neutral damage from Fire-type attacks. This, combined with its good Special Defense, makes Cradily a fantastic check to the likes of Mega Charizard Y and Volcarona with its use of STAB Rock Slide. It can choose to run Earthquake to easily take out Heatran as well, if its team lacks such Ground coverage. Surprisingly, the benefits of that Rock typing don't end there. Cradily also takes neutral damage from Flying-type moves, making it a decent check to the likes of Choice Scarf Togekiss and Mega Pidgeot too! Cradily is often a very reliable provider of Stealth Rock support, utility every team needs. One of Cradily's favorite teammates is Mega Venusaur because it's physically defensive, resistant to Fighting-type attacks, and neutral to Ice- and Bug-type attacks. These two help form the defensive core of many Grass teams with Ferrothorn.

Rhyperior

Rhyperior

Rhyperior has incredible HP and Defense with a useful ability in Solid Rock, which makes Weakness Policy much easier to activate. This makes it one of the few Rock-type checks to Mega Medicham. Mega Medicham is incapable of OHKOing Rhyperior with High Jump Kick, which activates Weakness Policy, giving Rhyperior enough power to OHKO it back with Earthquake. In a similar fashion, Rhyperior can use Weakness Policy with Fire Punch to check Mega Scizor, as a +2 Superpower cannot OHKO it. It also carries fantastic coverage in Ice Punch, which allows it to OHKO Dragonite and Garchomp after taking an Earthquake. Rather than be a key actor of the Rock team, Rhyperior is the glue that takes out many of the threats its team cannot.

Cobalion

Cobalion

Cobalion is the more supportive of the two Stealth Rock setter options for Fighting teams. Cobalion is unique in that being part Steel-type grants it a neutrality against Flying-, Fairy-, and Psychic-type attacks, all three of the Fighting typing's weaknesses. This combined with its great bulk makes it a very useful defensive pivot. Thunder Wave allows Cobalion to threaten foes such as Latios and Kyurem-B that it easily switches into, and Iron Head makes it a great check against Fairy-types. Cobalion also serves as a great lead, thanks to its ability to use Taunt to prevent slower leads, such as Custap Skarmory, from setting entry hazards while getting up its own. The EVs are tailored to OHKO Mega Gardevoir with Iron Head after Stealth Rock damage while maximizing its Speed, to make it as good of a lead as possible, and bulk, to allow it to survive multiple hits from Fairy-types such as Mega Diancie.

Empoleon

Empoleon

Empoleon has the great Water / Steel typing, which grants it resistances to Psychic-, Fairy-, and Dragon-type attacks. It also comes with respectable bulk and can ward off many special attackers. Empoleon functions as a good switch-in for many Pokémon that use Grass-type coverage, although it lacks the ability to actually threaten Grass-type Pokémon. Its main role is as a great controller of entry hazards, capable of Defogging away what the opponent sets before setting up its own Stealth Rock. Empoleon can also use Scald and Roar, both of which keep it from being easy setup bait by providing a way to either burn or phaze the foe. It pairs quite well with Lanturn, although the Ground weakness is exacerbated, as Lanturn can easily switch into Electric-type attacks and brings a great deal of support. Because Water teams, and Empoleon, are often so weak to Ground-type attacks, Rotom-W is an underrated teammate, thanks to its Ground immunity.

Mega Ampharos

Mega Ampharos

Mega Ampharos is part of the defensive backbone of many Electric teams. Its great defensive typing offers resistances to Fire-, Water-, and most notably Grass-type attacks. One of its most important features is its fantastic bulk. Mega Ampharos is one of the only Electric-type Pokémon that can survive even one hit from Mega Medicham, allowing it to either cripple it with Toxic or deal significant damage with Dragon Pulse or Volt Switch. Mega Ampharos is one of the only viable Electric-type users of Toxic, allowing it to cripple troubling walls such as Mew and opposing Zapdos. Furthermore, its great Special Defense lets it take power hits from even special attackers such as Mega Charizard Y and Volcarona, both of which it threatens with Power Gem. Its use of Volt Switch helps it keep up the momentum and form a very powerful Volt Switch core with other members of the Electric team, such as Raikou and Rotom-W.

Swampert

Swampert

Swampert is a key member of many Water teams because of its access to Stealth Rock and its Electric immunity, allowing it to compress two necessary roles into one teamslot. Importantly, Swampert pairs its Electric immunity with the ability to offensively threaten them back, unlike others such as Lanturn. With is STAB Earthquake, Swampert can put the hurt on many grounded Electric-types while burning airborne Pokémon with Scald. Swampert's use of Roar allows it to phaze setup sweepers such as Mega Scizor. With both Roar and Scald, Swampert is difficult to take advantage of and can be a big threat to many teams that lack Grass-type moves or very powerful wallbreakers such as Mega Medicham. Physically defensive Swampert is often paired with specially defensive Tentacruel, which can also relieve some of Swampert's Grass weakness with its Poison typing. Tentacruel is further useful for Toxic Spikes, which Swampert can shuffle foes into with Roar, and Rapid Spin, which helps Swampert switch in and out more easily.

Togekiss

Togekiss

While this set may look strange and gimmicky, this Togekiss is one of the few viable ways for Fairy teams to reliably check Steel-types. Thanks to its great bulk and the use of a Babiri Berry, Togekiss can easily stomach even a +2 Mega Scizor's Bullet Punch and OHKO it back with Fire Blast, which is exactly what the HP, Defense, and Special Attack EVs help it do. Conveniently, the remaining Speed EVs allow it to outspeed even Jolly Bisharp, allowing Togekiss to OHKO it with Aura Sphere. Although this set can only take one Steel-type attack with Babiri Berry, Togekiss can use Roost to bring its HP back up after luring and KOing Mega Scizor, giving it the chance to still check slower threats such as Bisharp. In addition to luring and KOing Steel-types, Togekiss brings a much-needed Ground immunity, as many Fairy-types have trouble dealing with powerful Ground-type attackers such as even Excadril, once again thanks to the Babiri Berry. This Togekiss doesn't have much power, though, so it's a good idea to pair it up with strong wallbreakers such as Specs Sylveon or powerful attackers like Azumarill.

Conclusion

Monotype is a metagame that challenges a player's teambuilding skills because all Pokémon share common weaknesses. Top Monotype players know that just bringing the OU Pokémon from a type or only running the standard usage-based tier's sets won't lead to consistent success. Calling upon Pokémon from lower tiers to fill specific roles on a team is crucial. Now that you're equipped with some of the gems from lower tiers, get out there and try them out on Pokémon Showdown!

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