Trapped in Monotype

By Eien.
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Art by LifeisDANK

Art by LifeisDANK.


In Monotype, because your entire team shares a typing, being able to trap and remove key threats to your team is an important strategy for maximizing your success. As a result, for most, as long as a Pokémon has the ability to trap those threats, its viability jumps up significantly. In fact, being able to trap foes is such a potentially powerful strategy that an entire ability was banned for that very reason! While some Monotype trappers are commonly used in other tiers, some others are almost unheard of. So, let's take a look into those that are able to trap in Monotype!

Trapping Abilities


Dugtrio is no new face to the realm of trapping. However, in Monotype, it fills one of the most important roles on any Ground team: a Tapu Bulu check, which is why it has the otherwise strange move Sludge Wave. Choice Scarf Tapu Bulu is able to outspeed and OHKO almost every offensive Pokémon on a Ground team, and Choice Band Tapu Bulu is able to 2HKO every defensive Pokémon. With the recent addition of Sticky Web to Fairy teams that love to use Choice Scarf Tapu Bulu, not even Sand Rush Excadrill can outspeed and check it now. This is why Dugtrio has become one of the most essential Pokémon. If Tapu Bulu ever locks into Wood Hammer, and it must to realize many of the KOs it wants to get, Dugtrio is able to come in and guarantee its removal. Thanks to Focus Sash, Dugtrio will always survive at least one hit, meaning even Choice Scarf Tapu Bulu will fall to Sludge Wave after recoil and some chip. This makes Dugtrio one of only a couple of ways to stop Tapu Bulu and the only reliable one that can beat all sets without allowing them to switch out.

While being able to remove Tapu Bulu would have alone thrust Dugtrio into most Ground teams, its use does not end there. Dugtrio is also able to trap many other top threats to Ground as well. With Focus Sash allowing Dugtrio to always survive at least one hit on 1 HP, Reversal becomes a fantastic option that is able to deal a huge amount of damage to both Porygon2 and Chansey, two walls Ground traditionally struggles with. The full list of important targets would be too long to specify, but it includes Alolan Raichu, Greninja, Z-Belly Drum Azumarill, Kyurem-B, and Keldeo, all of which are incredibly difficult to handle otherwise.


For Electric teams, Magnezone is an option that should always be considered when teambuilding because of its ability to trap Steel-types. The most important Steel-type it traps, though, is a Choice item-using Excadrill. Air Balloon Magnezone is all but guaranteed to KO Excadrill with Hidden Power Fire if Magnezone doesn't get inconceivably unlucky. This can materialize in the Steel matchup, where Choice Scarf Excadrill's Mold Breaker allows it to hit Rotom-W on the switch with Earthquake while also forcing out Tapu Koko for fear of a faster Earthquake. It can also be a huge boon in the Ground matchup, where Choice Band Excadrill can OHKO Zapdos with Rock Slide after Stealth Rock damage. Magnezone's existence forces Excadrill to evaluate whether it should or even can revenge kill or wallbreak. While Life Orb Excadrill is technically capable of beating Air Balloon Magnezone, it takes a huge amount of damage from Hidden Power Fire and is forced to take two turns of Life Orb recoil damage doing so, which, when combined with Rotom-W, makes it very unlikely to be a lasting threat.

Outside of the main prize of Excadrill, Magnezone is also capable of trapping two more key Steel-types for Electric teams. The first is Ferrothorn, perhaps the most annoying Pokémon to handle, which is able to stand up to almost every Electric-type, even able to use Leech Seed as a Zapdos or Rotom-W comes in to stop it. Magnezone puts its shenanigans to an end by coming into any attack and 2HKOing it with Hidden Power Fire. The second is Klefki. Klefki's ability to repeatedly set up Spikes, Reflect, and Light Screen poses a huge problem for Electric, as a switch to Zapdos to Defog can give one of Klefki's teammates another free opportunity to threaten the Electric team. Magnezone can slowly chip it down through Light Screen and then Volt Switch out to Zapdos right before Klefki is KOed after stalling Reflect and Light Screen turns, minimizing the support Klefki would normally be able to provide.

Alolan Golem

Alolan Golem is the other viable Magnet Pull user in Monotype. Because Rock-types are weak to Steel-type moves, Steel has long been an almost impossible matchup for Rock to beat. This is true no more, as Alolan Golem does much to begin leveling the battlefield. Mega Scizor was the behemoth that Rock basically had almost no chance of beating, and Alolan Golem just laughs in its face. With Sticky Web support from Shuckle, Alolan Golem can outspeed even offensive Jolly Mega Scizor and OHKO it with Fire Punch. For the cheeky opponents with defensive Mega Scizor, Inferno Overdrive OHKOes even the most physically bulky spreads. Thanks to Alolan Golem's Electric subtyping, a +2 Bullet Punch from offensive Mega Scizor can't OHKO Alolan Golem, and defensive sets' +4 Bullet Punch also cannot even OHKO with Stealth Rock support. With Alolan Golem's help, the terror of Mega Scizor is all but completely gone.

Outside of just Mega Scizor, almost the entire Steel team fears Alolan Golem, as it is able to OHKO every offensive threat while 2HKOing defensive walls. Due to Sticky Web, even Steel-types as fast as Heatran are still outsped, leaving only Excadrill able to outspeed it. However, if Choice Scarf Excadrill attempts to spin the Sticky Web away, Alolan Golem is able to trap it as it does so, removing it altogether anyway. Even outside of Steel teams, Alolan Golem puts the hurt on Grass teams with Ferrothorn and Flying teams that use Skarmory to check Terrakion and other Rock-type threats.

Trapping Moves


Because Magma Storm is able to trap almost any Pokémon, trapper Heatran has become the most popular set for Steel teams in order to trap key walls that Steel has trouble with. While it's not intuitive, Poison teams are actually quite good at beating Steel, with Toxapex and Mega Venusaur being almost unbreakable walls. This is where Magma Storm Heatran comes in. After they've been trapped with Magma Storm, Taunt prevents them from healing, which spells impending doom. Almost nothing on a Poison team can come into Heatran safely, in fact. While Nidoking and Alolan Muk are able to switch in, they hate taking so much free damage. As a result, this set's ability to turn the Poison matchup into Steel's favor makes it perhaps the only often-used set.

As Magma Storm can trap any non-Ghost-type, Heatran is naturally very useful in many other matchups as well. Steel teams often have trouble beating the Flying defensive core of Skarmory, Zapdos, and Mantine and the Normal defensive core of Chansey, Porygon2, and Staraptor. Heatran is able to beat both cores as long as it has Taunt or Toxic. However, it isn't only defensive walls that fear Magma Storm + Taunt. Magma Storm reduces prediction for the user, as the opponent cannot double switch if they try to send something like a Terrakion in to take the Magma Storm, which allows the Heatran user to safely make switches to their checks.


While Azumarill has many sets that spark fear into offense teams, its Perish trap set on Water teams is just as dangerous for balance and more bulky teams. Because most players will go straight to a physical wall on Azumarill, that makes it very easy for Azumarill to surprise them with the Whirlpool. This is most valuable in matchups such as Poison and the Water mirror matchup, where walls are incredibly difficult to break through standard means. Pokémon such as Toxapex, Mega Venusaur, Mega Slowbro, and others can be rendered completely useless before this Azumarill set. With such walls out of the way, Pokémon like Suicune and Greninja become much more threatening. While Water teams typically don't fear Normal too much, thanks to the use of Toxic Spikes + Baneful Bunker Toxapex or Choice Specs Keldeo, this set's ability to just shut down the defensive core without being too passive means other options are made available to the team in those teamslots. Unlike most other trappers, this set is much more capable of trapping essentially any wall that lacks a Water immunity, but it tends to be rather useless against offense, meaning teambuilders will often take advantage of those extra teamslots to adequately prepare for offense.

Pursuit Trappers

  • Scizor @ Choice Band
  • Ability: Technician
  • EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
  • Jolly Nature
  • - Bullet Punch
  • - U-turn
  • - Pursuit
  • - Superpower

While it may seem unintuitive for Bug teams to run Pursuit, since they have an offensive type advantage against Psychic-types and Ghost teams are relatively unviable, there are two threats that basically necessitate a Pursuit user on every Bug team. The first is Victini, which is on every Psychic team partially to sweep Bug. For Heracross, Victini is needed to be at -2 Defense in order to be OHKOed on a retreat with Pursuit. However, for fear of Megahorn, it's very possible to just deal a huge amount of damage at just -1, as the opponent will almost never risk losing Victini, which would put it into Stealth Rock damage range. Scizor is able to always Pursuit trap a Choice Band Victini by outspeeding it after just one V-create and guaranteeing the OHKO even if it doesn't switch out while still trapping -2 Choice Scarf Victini. Without Victini to threaten the Bug team, almost any standard Bug-type sweeper can run through a Psychic team without fear.

The second huge threat is Heatran, which is on every Steel team. The main Bug wincon against Steel teams is Hidden Power Ground Volcarona. However, Air Balloon Heatran can OHKO it with Stone Edge, which is why a Pursuit trapper is incredibly helpful for popping that Air Balloon and almost guaranteeing the fast Volcarona sweep. Heracross and Scizor are both more than willing to sacrifice themselves to Heatran in order to pop that valuable Air Balloon. Heracross is more reliable because even if Heatran stays in, Pursuit will still pop the Air Balloon, while Scizor forces the Heatran player into a dilemma of predicting between Bullet Punch and Pursuit.

Alolan Muk

Unsurprisingly, Poison teams are afraid of Psychic-types for their powerful STAB attacks. As a result, Alolan Muk comes in as a fantastic Pursuit trapper. With its monstrous HP and Special Defense, most relevant specially offensive Psychic-types, such as even Double Dance Mew, can't touch it at all and fall to either Knock Off or Pursuit. While it's essential to preserve Alolan Muk's HP as much as possible against Psychic teams, in other matchups, it freely switches in to remove threats immediately. For instance, the otherwise threatening Alolan Raichu barely scratches Alolan Muk and is always trapped by it, leaving Electric teams almost powerless to break Alolan Muk's frequent teammate Mega Venusaur. Similarly, against Dragon teams, Alolan Muk happily switches into Latios and traps it. Without Latios, if Stealth Rock is set afterwards, nothing will be able to Defog, leaving the Dragon team highly vulnerable to being chipped away at.

Banned Trappers

Gothitelle Wobbuffet

Shadow Tag was once a monster to face in Monotype but has since been banned. Unlike the other abilities mentioned in this section, Shadow Tag has no restrictions on what Pokémon it can trap outside of Ghost-types being immune, which is shared by all trapping mechanics. This made Gothitelle have essentially no opportunity cost, as it would be useful in almost every single matchup, while other trappers tend to be more specifically tuned to one or two difficult matchups. While Gothitelle effectively trapped the same way these other threats did, Gothitelle was simply too good at it, with three entirely different sets that in total made a huge proportion of the metagame a trappable target. The classic example of Gothitelle's trapping is in the Steel matchup, where its Choice Specs-boosted Hidden Power Ground OHKOed Heatran, which enabled a Choice Scarf Victini to easily sweep through the rest of the team with minimal counterplay for the opponent. Wobbuffet, while not necessarily quite as powerful as Gothitelle, was also able to almost assuredly take out one if not more targets with its simple Counter / Mirror Coat / Destiny Bond / Encore set.

Final Thoughts

Keep these options in mind when you're building! If you're building a Water team, maybe think about trying that Azumarill. If you're building Steel, keep the Bug-type Pursuit trappers in mind. It's one thing to be able to check a threat, it's but another altogether to be able to assuredly either KO or cripple them. Being able to effectively use these trappers both in the teambuilder and on the playing field can make the difference between a good and a great Monotype player.

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