Featured Pokémon: Tyranitar

By Blue Kirby and Havak. For more information on Tyranitar, please visit the Strategy Pokédex.
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Featured Tyranitar


There's no denying that Tyranitar has always been a real powerhouse, stretching all the way back to the Gold, Silver, and Crystal generation. We're going to take a look at how Tyranitar has changed this generation, and how you should go about playing with and against it in the heat of battle.

In generations gone by, Tyranitar has relied solely on its impressive offensive stats to crush the opponent. With each new series released, Tyranitar has gotten more and more toys to play with, increasing its prowess as a top tier Pokémon. Tyranitar's roles have slowly been evolving. It began primarily as a physical attacker, mainly utilizing Curse in GSC. It also had the ability to act as a mixed attacker, crushing the opponent on both sides of the attacking spectrum. In Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, Tyranitar received a huge boost with the inclusion of Dragon Dance and Choice Band, and was further able to cement its wall-breaking ability with the invention of what is now referred to as "Tyraniboah", or "Boah" for short.

This generation, things seem to have gone from great to better, as Tyranitar benefited greatly from access to physical STAB moves such as Stone Edge and Crunch. Life Orb gave it the option to increase its damage output while still being able to switch attacks at the cost of 10% HP per turn, allowing it to fulfill a "cleaner" role mid to late-game. Its Sand Stream ability—which we'll look at closely shortly—granted it a Special Defense boost, making it harder for bulky Water-type Pokémon to counter it without significant investment in Special Attack. And yet, new counters appeared in giants like Garchomp and Hippowdon, while old threats such as Forretress got new moves of their own.

Then Pokémon Platinum rolled in, and this brought both good and bad things for Tyranitar. It got a bunch of new moves it could rely on, such as the elemental punches and Aqua Tail. This, along with the banning of Garchomp, gave it a much better shot at ripping through unsuspecting opponents. However, there was one change in particular that went against Tyranitar horribly. This, of course, was the addition of Bullet Punch to Scizor's movepool. All of a sudden, Tyranitar had to watch out for a priority move with 90 Base Power (factoring in Technician), and worst of all, it was super effective! Despite this, Tyranitar is, and will continue to be, a top-tier Pokémon.

Tyranitar's Qualities

So, let's take a closer look at this behemoth of a Pokémon. Tyranitar is a powerhouse both offensively and defensively. It immediately becomes apparent that Tyranitar can deal major damage to its opponents using both physical and special attacks—although it's easy to focus solely on Tyranitar's monstrous base 134 Attack, don't forget that Tyranitar also has a base Special Attack stat of 95 to fall back on too. With a fantastic offensive movepool and the ability to hit hard on both sides, it really comes as no surprise that Tyranitar has and continues to be employed primarily to break the opponent's team down one step at a time.

Tyranitar is no slouch in the defensive department either. Although it does unfortunately sport weaknesses to some of the more common attack types in today's metagame, including a 4x weakness to Fighting-type attacks, Tyranitar also has a handful of redeeming defensive qualities. Its base 100 HP is paired up with both impressive Defense and Special Defense, which sit at 110 and 100 respectively. This gives it great natural bulk to compliment its offensive capabilities. It doesn't end there, though.

With its fairly unique ability, Sand Stream, Tyranitar is one of the two Pokémon that calls a permanent sandstorm into play, which can only be ended by a different form of weather being introduced after. Offensively, the sandstorm causes any Pokémon that is not a Rock, Ground, or Steel-type or a Pokémon with the Magic Guard or Sand Veil ability, to take 6.25% damage per turn. This even comes before Leftovers recovery, so if you can knock your opponent down into this range, you can be sure that the sandstorm will finish the job. Keep in mind that these effects also apply to your own team, so this can be a double-edged sword. Tyranitar's primary advantage in a sandstorm lies within the side-effect given to the weather type this generation; Rock-type Pokémon receive a single stage boost (or a 50% increase) to their Special Defense. This means that, with a neutral nature, Tyranitar will have a starting Special Defense stat of 354, assuming it has a perfect IV. This allows Tyranitar to take plenty of hits on the special side; it's going to take a super effective attack and a reasonable amount of investment in Special Attack to leave a dent in Tyranitar, especially if you choose to pump your defenses even more. Tyranitar can fill a number of niches on any given team.

Playing with Tyranitar

Tyranitar can easily create a hole in your opponent's team for teammates to take advantage of. There are a few ways you can go about this. When wielding a Choice Band, Tyranitar's Attack stat reaches a maximum of 604. Between Stone Edge, Crunch, Aqua Tail, and Fire Punch, your opponent will have tough time finding a safe Pokémon to switch in. Additionally, you can use Pursuit to effectively "trap" particular Pokémon, hitting them for a lot of damage whether they switch or not. When using Pursuit, you'll want to make sure the rest of your team can quickly gather momentum and take control of the match once again, as although you may have crippled or even taken out a Pokémon, your opponent is given a free turn. Don't allow yourself to be tricked into allowing your opponent to take advantage of this and leave you in a position where you can't recover. You can utilize Choice Scarf or even Choice Specs to surprise your opponent—the unexpected boost to your Speed or Special Attack will allow you to severely damage Pokémon your opponent might otherwise think are safe against Tyranitar.

While Tyranitar is primarily used as a means of breaking the opponent's team down, you can take advantage of its sturdiness with in order to take the opponent by surprise. By pumping its Defense, one can utilize Counter and get past by some of Tyranitar's more common checks. By boosting Tyranitar's Defense with Curse, Tyranitar can become extremely difficult to take down thanks to the Special Defense boost provided courtesy of Sand Stream. Most players will take this one step further, using Rest and Sleep Talk to increase Tyranitar's longevity even more.

Thanks to Dragon Dance, Tyranitar even has the ability to finish games. Once the opponent's team has been sufficiently weakened, it is simply a matter of using Tyranitar's boosted Attack and Speed to clean up; often a single Dragon Dance is enough to do the job. Thanks to the rise of Scizor in Platinum, one might consider using a Babiri Berry to make sure Tyranitar's sweep is not hindered by the likes of Bullet Punch.

Playing Against Tyranitar

They say that "knowing is half the battle". This is definitely the case with Tyranitar. Its impressive stats and movepool really do allow it to pose a threat to any Pokémon. Your best bet is to find out what set it is running, and coming up with an attack plan from there. Generally you will find Tyranitar's bulkier checks are great at this, particularly bulky Water and Ground-type Pokémon. When scouting Tyranitar, keep in the back of your mind that it very possible for it to be carrying Pursuit, so take precautions until you know you're safe.

You will generally find that you can use Tyranitar's Speed—its lowest base stat—against it. Although Tyranitar packs quite a punch, it is also weak to many common attacking types, including a 4x weakness to Fighting. In spite of this, Tyranitar's defenses allow it to take a few super effective hits with a bit of EV investment, especially special attacks. When Tyranitar chooses to invest in Speed, it is sacrificing survivability for either raw power (Dragon Dance) or a surprise factor (Choice Scarf). Once you know what you're up against, you will have a much easier time responding to whatever threat Tyranitar is posing.

Fitting Tyranitar Onto Your Team

Having taken a closer look into Tyranitar, I bet you're raring to get one onto your next team, right? Well, there are a number of factors you should keep in mind. First and foremost, Sand Stream can play a large role in determining whether Tyranitar is a suitable addition to your team.

Sand Stream

How well does your team cope with the 6.25% damage per turn as a result of Sand Stream? Take a look at your teammates—immunity to sandstorm is not a must, but you'll find that at least one or two members of your team are anyway. Do any of your team members benefit from the sandstorm at all, either through their typing or ability? If Sand Stream is causing too many members on your team problems, then perhaps that alone is enough of a reason to leave Tyranitar alone for the time being.

Environmental Factors

Perhaps more than most Pokémon, Tyranitar really appreciates Spikes. Stealth Rock never hurts and is really quite common regardless, but the more layers of Spikes you have sitting on the opponents' side of the field, the more damage Tyranitar's primary checks will be taking. It is worth noting that some of the top checks to Tyranitar are actually resistant to Stealth Rock, so get those Spikes on the field if you can!

Like most Pokémon, Tyranitar appreciates screen support if possible, although this is by no means essential for Tyranitar to function effectively. Light Screen is particularly noteworthy, however, as Tyranitar's ability to tank special hits is sharply increased thanks to the additional Special Defense boost provided by Sand Stream. No matter how you plan to use Tyranitar, creating free turns by forcing the opponent to switch their special attackers is very important indeed.

Examples of Offensive Complements

There are a number of ways Tyranitar can be stopped offensively. Generally speaking, most bulky Water and Ground-type Pokémon stop Tyranitar dead in its tracks unless it has managed to grab two or three Dragon Dances—a single boost, be it from Dragon Dance or Choice Band, will not cut it against these defensive foes. Choice Specs Latias is a great switch to these Pokémon both offensively and defensively, and can additionally use Trick to cripple other teammates of the opponent. This is great to prevent the opponent stalling the duo out by simply switching.

Scizor has become a big problem for Tyranitar in Platinum; even when holding a Babiri Berry, Tyranitar is 2HKOed by Scizor's Bullet Punch. To this end, Magnezone is often Tyranitar's best friend if you can catch Scizor on a Bullet Punch. You'll also have the bonus of trapping other problematic Steel-typed Pokémon if you can catch them on any move that isn't Ground or Fighting. In the case of the former, Magnet Rise is an option; however you run the risk of being outsped when not carrying a Choice Scarf.

Examples of Defensive Complements

Tyranitar may have been blessed with fantastic base stats, but defensively its typing leaves a bit to be desired. Among other common weaknesses, Tyranitar sports a quadruple weakness to Fighting attacks. Gyarados makes a strong defensive partner for Tyranitar, as it can reliably take Steel, Ground and Fighting-type attacks. Thanks to Intimidate, Gyarados is able to take little damage from many other physical moves that would normally be aimed at Tyranitar as well, such as Waterfall. Tyranitar's high Special Defense allows it to shrug off Electric moves aimed at Gyarados in return.

The resistances the Rotom appliances have aid Tyranitar greatly. They are immune to both Fighting and Ground-type attacks, while taking reduced damage from Steel moves. In addition, to having strong Electric moves to pick off bulky Water Pokémon, Rotom-Appliance can target the lower Special Defense of bulky Ground-types with Shadow Ball (and potentially one of Leaf Storm, Hydro Pump, or Blizzard) and even burn them with Will-O-Wisp to make them much more manageable for Tyranitar. The Ghost and Dark moves that are commonly aimed at Rotom-Appliance can be redirected to Tyranitar.

Get out there!

This concludes our analysis of this issue's featured Pokémon, Tyranitar. We hope that you have found it both interesting and informative. More than anything, we hope that we've succeeded in showing you a quality of Tyranitar's that you weren't familiar with or had overlooked, or at least provided a different perspective on what you already knew. No matter what the case, all that's left for you to do now is to unleash Tyranitar's fury upon your opponents.

Let the sandstorm begin!

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