Filling a Niche: PU Pokemon in Monotype

By Moosical.
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Art by Cretacerus.


As metagames develop, Pokémon can either rise to the top of OU or fall to the depths of PU due to their poor stats, lack of coverage, mediocre typing, or inability to keep up with the rest of the meta. However, in Monotype, Pokémon find their niche due to a beneficial offensive or defensive typing, necessary utility they provide, or a lack of better options. Fortunately for select PU Pokémon, they all happen to fill specific roles in the Monotype metagame, even being ranked highly on the viability rankings! In this article, we'll take a closer look at some Pokémon that are great in Monotype even though they're the bottom of the barrel in standard tiering.

Armaldo (Bug)


As a type weak to Stealth Rock, Bug is desperate for good entry hazard removal. Its limited Rapid Spin options mean it's stuck with either Armaldo or Forretress as dedicated defensive spinners; Armaldo tends to have the upper hand. Armaldo is able to compress the roles of both hazard setter and remover while offering utility in Knock Off to help remove troublesome items such as Choice Scarf and Eviolite. On top of this, Armaldo's Rock typing grants it a key neutrality to Flying and Fire while letting it hit back with STAB Stone Edge. One important example of this is Armaldo surviving Choice Scarf Victini's V-create even after taking Stealth Rock damage and OHKOing it in return, eliminating one of the most threatening Pokémon in the Psychic matchup. In comparison, while Forretress is also able to compress similar roles, it has no offensive presence, can end up being setup bait, and compounds Bug's weakness to Fire. Thanks to these features combined, Armaldo solidifies its spot on the vast majority of Bug Monotype teams.

Alolan Raichu (Electric)


Alolan Raichu sits in an unfortunate spot in standard tiering: it's not good enough for OU, but without Tapu Koko's Electric Terrain support, it's not good enough for nearly any other tier. Additionally, its low base 95 Special Attack and poor bulk mean there are typically better Electric- or Psychic-types to use in standard tiering; however, these factors aren't a problem for Electric in Monotype. Tapu Koko, which is essentially mandatory on Electric-type teams, is able to provide Alolan Raichu the Electric Terrain support it needs to be viable. Its high Speed and ability, Surge Surfer, effectively allow Alolan Raichu to outspeed the entire metagame while Electric Terrain is active, including the formidable Sand Rush Excadrill. On top of this, its Psychic typing greatly supports Electric in dealing with troublesome Poison-types such as Mega Venusaur. Alolan Raichu also has access to an amazing movepool that provides a great deal of coverage options. It addition, it has access to Nasty Plot, which can allow it to act as an even more potent sweeper. Alolan Raichu is a great option for any Electric-type team thanks to its amazing speed control and great coverage.

Cradily (Grass)


Thanks to its favorable defensive typing, decent bulk, access to Stealth Rock, and reliable recovery, Cradily finds itself on nearly every Grass Monotype team. Along with Ferrothorn and Mega Venusaur, Cradily forms the formidable defensive Grass core that can be difficult for many teams to break as they are whittled down by hazards, Leech Seed, and poison. Cradily's Rock typing grants it key neutralities to both Flying and Fire, allowing it to absorb special attackers' hits, which are very troublesome for Grass teams. Its high Special Defense and access to Rock Slide enable Cradily to check and remove Pokémon such as Volcarona and Mega Charizard Y, which otherwise pose a huge threat to Grass. Cradily proves to be invaluable as part of the defensive core and should definitely be considered when building any balance Grass team.

Gastrodon (Ground)


One major flaw for Ground in Monotype is its glaring weakness to Water. To compensate for this, it has two options—Seismitoad and Gastrodon—thanks to their immunity to Water from their abilities. Seismitoad acts as an offensive Water-immune Pokémon with decent Speed and Special Attack. However, Gastrodon sports decent bulk and reliable recovery, allowing it to check offensive Water-types like Keldeo and Greninja more easily. It can prove to be difficult to break in conjunction with team support while whittling down foes with Toxic and threatening physical attackers with burns from Scald. Gastrodon works best on teams with Mega Garchomp in order to more effectively check Belly Drum Azumarill, as the main benefit of Seismitoad is its ability to outspeed and KO Azumarill. Gastrodon's defensive approach is different than most Ground builds but can prove to be a rewarding choice.

Alolan Sandslash (Ice)


Alolan Sandslash fits very nicely on most Ice teams, as the type has mediocre speed control. In combination with Alolan Ninetales for hail support, Alolan Sandslash reaches high Speed thanks to Slush Rush and can outpace the majority of Choice Scarf Pokémon. Its Steel typing also helps by providing a neutrality to Steel and Rock. Additionally, on offense-oriented teams, it can act as an offensive hazard remover in order to keep pesky Stealth Rock off the field for its teammates. Alternatively, with a different hazard remover, Alolan Sandslash can act as a Swords Dance sweeper and clean teams late-game. Its decent coverage also contributes towards its niche for Ice Monotype teams and secures its spot on most teams.

Avalugg (Ice)


Ice as a type lacks resistances and has numerous weaknesses, placing it in a hard spot in the metagame. Its weakness to Stealth Rock only compounds these problems for Ice, lowering the amount of attacks its Pokémon can switch into even further. Avalugg proves to be the best defensive spinner available to the type, boasting immense base 184 Defense and base 95 HP. It is able to switch into a plethora of physical attacks, even super effective ones such as Close Combat from Choice Scarf Terrakion, and then recover back its health. Access to Roar prevents Avalugg from becoming setup bait, and as long as Sturdy is intact, it can force out nearly any Pokémon. Its ability to remove Stealth Rock and other hazards is immensely appreciated by its teammates and grants it a solid spot on certain Ice teams.

Ditto (Normal)


Ditto is hardly an unknown Pokémon, having various amounts of viability among all tiers and occasionally popping up even in OU from time to time. However, it's a staple on Normal Monotype teams thanks to its overall utility, acting as a decent revenge killer and great setup deterrent. Normal teams lack effective speed control options outside of Mega Lopunny and Mega Pidgeot and can often be forced on the defensive against fast threats such as Victini and Sand Rush Excadrill. Ditto is able to fill the niche of checking such threats for most Normal teams. Its ability to counter setup sweepers pressures teams that rely on boosts to break past the Chansey, Porygon2, and Staraptor defensive core. If an opposing Pokémon like Mega Gallade tries to set up, it can face a counter sweep from Ditto thanks to its Choice Scarf.

Alolan Golem (Rock)


Alolan Golem's niche on Rock is its ability to trap troublesome Steel-types such as Ferrothorn, Mega Scizor, and Celesteela and remove them with Fire Punch and Wild Charge. These Steel-types, most notably Mega Scizor, threaten to cleanly sweep through Rock teams if given an opportunity. Rock's only other available check to these Pokémon is Rhyperior thanks to its overwhelming Defense. However, Alolan Golem is much more reliable in guaranteeing that these Steel-types are removed from play thanks to Magnet Pull. Its Electric typing grants it a very important neutrality to Steel, allowing it to much more easily deal with these Pokémon. Its great coverage allows it to also act as a very potent physical attacker for Rock, especially when supported with Sticky Web from Shuckle. Filling the niche of a Steel trapper makes Alolan Golem an extremely valuable Pokémon for any Rock team.

Shuckle (Rock)


Rock has many potential hazard setters, but Shuckle reigns supreme due to its access to Sticky Web. Rock features several fast and powerful attackers such as Terrakion, Mega Diancie, and Nihilego. Sticky Web support allows the three of them to outspeed the vast majority of the grounded metagame while also allowing Terrakion and Nihilego to utilize power-boosting items rather than having to rely on Choice Scarf for speed control. This alone makes matchups that sound hard on paper, such as Fighting, become much more manageable and easier to overcome. On top of its access to Sticky Web, Shuckle also provides a small amount of utility in Knock Off and Encore, which remove troublesome items and lock opposing Pokémon into setup or utility moves, respectively, allowing Rock to safely bring in its offensive Pokémon.


A Pokémon's viability in Monotype is not necessarily reflective of how it fares in standard tiering. Pokémon often fit onto teams because of their ability to fill a specific niche due to their utility, offensive capabilities, or favorable typing. One of the best ways to succeed in Monotype is to analyze how different Pokémon can contribute towards a team given that all their teammates will be the same type. Don't always count out some of these lower-tiered Pokémon, as they could be the key to success!

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