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Nihilego is a niche Toxic Spikes setter, one of the selling points of which is its ability to beat Toxapex, the best Toxic Spikes absorber. A good matchup against prominent Defog users like Tornadus-T and Tapu Fini also helps Nihilego keep Toxic Spikes up. Additionally, Nihilego's high Special Defense and typing let it act as a decent check to threats like Tornadus-T and Mega Charizard Y. Nihilego's typing has some major drawbacks, however, as every Ground-type in the tier easily beats Nihilego, and its STAB combination is walled by most Steel-types; this cuts Nihilego's effectiveness a lot given that both Ground- and Steel-types see use on almost every team. Nihilego also faces competition as a Toxic Spikes setter from Toxapex, which provides a ton of defensive utility to the team, and from Greninja, which is far more versatile and unpredictable than Nihilego and potentially can lure in and KO Toxapex too.
name: Toxic Spikes Setter
move 1: Toxic Spikes
move 2: Sludge Wave
move 3: Power Gem
move 4: Thunder
item: Electrium Z
ability: Beast Boost
evs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Electrium Z turns Thunder into Gigavolt Havoc, which hits most Steel-types for either neutral or super effective damage. Thunder is used over Thunderbolt in order to fire off a stronger Z-Move; Gigavolt Havoc from Thunder allows Nihilego to OHKO Toxapex and Celesteela after Stealth Rock and one Power Gem as well as inflict more damage on Steel-types like Magearna, Mega Mawile, and Celesteela.
Electrium Z is necessary to turn Thunder into Gigavolt Havoc, which prevents Nihilego from being a deadweight against Steel-types and lets it beat Toxapex.
Nihilego's main aim is to set up Toxic Spikes and keep them up during the battle by aggressively playing around your opponent's entry hazard removers and positioning your team so they won't have free turns to remove Toxic Spikes. The best method to bring Nihilego in on the field is through aggressive plays and double switches to keep momentum up and pressure attempts to remove Toxic Spikes. Use Gigavolt Havoc wisely, since Nihilego absolutely requires it to break past certain threats; also, be sure to chip down your intended Z-Move target before firing Gigavolt Havoc off. The chip damage is necessary because most Gigavolt Havoc targets, like Toxapex and Celesteela, are capable of surviving it from full HP. Be wary of Baneful Bunker and Protect from these two, however. Be especially careful with Gigavolt Havoc if any of your opponent's Ground-types are still active; if the move hits one of them, you will completely waste your team's Z-Move and all your momentum.
Toxic Spikes is a pretty niche move, so Nihilego fits only on teams containing Pokemon that can make use of it, like Mega Latias, Reuniclus, and Suicune. The former two also appreciate Nihilego being able to weaken Steel-types with a well-timed Gigavolt Havoc. Since Nihilego loses to any Ground-type in the tier, sturdy answers to them like Tangrowth, Mega Latias, and Tapu Bulu are necessary teammates. Pokemon that can take advantage of Steel-types make for great allies to Nihilego; for example, Suicune and Reuniclus can capitalize on passive Steel-types like Celesteela and Ferrothorn, while Heatran can also handle more offensive ones, like Magearna and Jirachi. Additionally, Heatran's Magma Storm synergizes very well with Nihilego's Toxic Spikes. Bulky Steel- and Grass-types such as Celesteela, Mega Scizor, Tangrowth, and Ferrothorn can switch into Pokemon that force Nihilego out, like Mega Alakazam and Ash-Greninja.
Hidden Power Ice prevents Ground-types like Garchomp and Landorus-T from coming in on Nihilego for free. However, Nihilego struggles to fit this move onto its set.
Checks and Counters
**Ground-types**: Garchomp, Gliscor, Gastrodon, and other Ground-types can come in on Nihilego and beat it one-on-one. Most of them dislike being poisoned, however. Landorus-T, while it can't really switch in on Nihilego, is able to revenge kill it with Earthquake. Gliscor is an especially notable counter to Nihilego because it is immune to poison and has a form of reliable recovery in Roost.
**Steel-types**: Pokemon like Magearna, Heatran, and Jirachi don't care about Nihilego's STAB moves, and their defensive sets take relatively small damage from Thunder and Gigavolt Havoc. Celesteela also sponges Nihilego's STAB combination relatively well, but it hates eating Gigavolt Havoc. Ferrothorn deserves a special mention because it resists or is immune to all of Nihilego's attacks and can set up entry hazards on it.
**Physical Attacks**: Nihilego's nonexistent physical bulk means that any physical attack will put a heavy dent in it.
**Faster Attackers**: While Nihilego's Speed tier isn't bad, there are still plenty of faster threats like Ash-Greninja, Choice Scarf Landorus-T, Kartana, and Mega Alakazam, all of which beat Nihilego.
**Chansey**: This Pokemon absolutely counters Nihilego thanks to its sky-high special bulk and cannot be outstalled by poison thanks to Natural Cure, reliable recovery in Soft-Boiled, and potentially Heal Bell.
- Written by: [[Egor, 439341]]
- Quality checked by: [[Jordy, 395754], [GMars, 237636], [curiosity, 443485]]
- Grammar checked by: [[deetah, 297659], [Empress, 175616]]