UU Spotlight: Mienshao

By ScraftyIsTheBest. Art by Blue Frog.
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BW is the generation that introduced many Fighting-type Pokémon into the competitive scene, Mienshao being one of them. Since the beginning of BW, Mienshao spent its time in OU; that is, all the way up until BW2 began. And granted, it wasn't a bad Pokémon by any means. It has a high Attack, superb STAB, nice Speed, and a great ability in Regenerator. Despite this, Mienshao still had a hard time standing out; with other powerful Fighting-types such as the fearsome brute known as Terrakion, as well as Lucario, Mienshao was stuck in the lower rungs of the tier, trying not to fall into UU. As soon as BW2 began, Mienshao finally made its fall to UU. It was a common sight in the early rounds of BW2 UU, although it wasn't a complete top-tier threat due to everyone hyping up the other new toy, Moxie Heracross. Eventually, people have started to realize how great Mienshao is, and it slowly started seeing more usage. As its qualities have become known, Mienshao has become one of the best Pokémon in UU, and you can be certain it will continue to be this way for months to come.

Mienshao's Qualities

Mienshao has plenty of qualities that make it the top threat it is. The first notable thing going for it is its high 125 base Attack, making it one of the hardest hitting Pokémon in the tier. It's certainly no defensive Pokémon, but its 105 base Speed is quite good, naturally outspeeding a large portion of the tier bar Crobat, Raikou, and Azelf. Mienshao also has a pretty decent 95 base Special Attack, and while it can't function as an all out special attacker, it can run a couple of different options for surprise factor. Mienshao also has some really good abilities in its arsenal: Inner Focus is useless, obviously, but Regenerator and Reckless are both excellent on Mienshao. The former is a pretty good tool to keep Mienshao's HP high throughout the match, meaning it can negate Life Orb damage. This is very good on the Life Orb and SubPass sets, allowing Mienshao to repeatedly use Substitute or attack with Life Orb boosted moves and recover off damage from Substitute and Life Orb. The latter is also pretty useful to power up Mienshao's STAB, giving it so much power that it can OHKO standard Flygon without any boosts or prior damage.

Mienshao's Fighting typing is one of the best traits to have in UU, since Fighting STAB is excellent, and its speed and power give it an easy edge over the other Fighting-types in the tier. It has a ridiculously powerful move in Hi Jump Kick, and its two abilities work very well in tandem with this move. Mienshao also has useful coverage options such as Stone Edge, while U-turn also makes Mienshao excellent, since it can handily switch out of common switch-ins such as Nidoqueen, Cofagrigus, and to a lesser extent Dusclops while bringing in a proper teammate. It also has some good special moves to work with such as Hidden Power and Grass Knot, allowing Mienshao to stand a fighting chance (no pun intended) against common physical walls such as Gligar and Slowbro. It has some other cool tools such as Swords Dance and Baton Pass, meaning it's never limited in options.

Playing with Mienshao

Mienshao's qualities make it so that there are quite a few ways to use it. Its most common set is the Choice Scarf set, which has established Mienshao as the best revenge killer in UU. With a Jolly nature, Mienshao's high Speed allows it to outpace the entire UU metagame, and a Reckless-boosted Hi Jump Kick also brings real pain. This set is a really simple mix of Speed and power, and the inclusion of U-turn also makes it a good scout.

However, that's not all Mienshao is limited to doing. If you're not looking for the sheer Speed and want more freedom in moves, then Mienshao can also run a Life Orb set, which gives up the ability to revenge kill, but packs real power and very few switch-ins can withstand its blows. Mienshao has excellent coverage between Hi Jump Kick, Stone Edge, and Hidden Power Ice, while again, U-turn gives it some scouting ability. Regenerator is also a great ability to remove Life Orb recoil, and this provides Mienshao with multiple opportunities to lay down the hurt on the opposing team. There are also other sets such as Substitute + Baton Pass, which is uncommon but very viable. This variant of Mienshao is deadly; it plays like the All-Out Attacker set, but can screw over common switch-ins, and can potentially pass the Substitute to a teammate to gain a ridiculous amount of momentum. Swords Dance is also a possibility to look into, allowing Mienshao to again serve as a lethal physical sweeper, but it can also use Baton Pass like U-turn, with the advantage of not letting the Attack boost go to waste.

Playing against Mienshao

Despite Mienshao running the usual same moves on most of its sets, it can sometimes be hard to predict its exact role on the opponent's team. The best way to deal with it is to usually find out what item, and hence the set, Mienshao is running. If it is running a Choice Scarf, being able to send in something particularly physically defensive that can repeatedly switch into it is very helpful. If it's running a Life Orb, then faster Pokémon such as Crobat and Azelf can make handy work of it; just be aware that its coverage makes them unable to safely switch in. Also keep in mind that Mienshao has U-turn as well as decent mixed attacking capabilities, which may make countering it more difficult in general. Exploiting Mienshao's frailty and its inaccurate moves can also be used to your advantage.

When looking for outright counters, Cofagrigus is easily your best friend for this. Its strong bulk, immunity to Hi Jump Kick, and useful movepool make it ideal; it can either set up Trick Room to make Mienshao's excellent Speed a liability, or simply cripple it with Will-O-Wisp. Sableye and Dusclops are lesser options but can certainly fit the bill with Prankster or high defenses, although the latter isn't exactly what I'd call a great Pokémon. There's also Slowbro, which resists Hi Jump Kick and has the bulk to take a U-turn. Just be careful about the rare Grass Knot on the switch-in! The same also applies to Nidoqueen, which has the bulk and typing to be able to take anything from Mienshao. Overall, your bet against it is to use a Pokémon that is capable of repeatedly switching into it.

Fitting Mienshao onto your team

Mienshao is usually capable of fitting itself on a multitude of teams, but it will need a bit of support to make the most of its potential. The Choice Scarf set is great to fulfill the important role of a revenge killer, and to an extent a sweeper. The other sets are harder to fit onto teams than the Choice Scarf set is, but they allow it to serve as a capable sweeper with proper teammates. The Life Orb sets would appreciate teammates to handle its common counters. For starters, Pursuit support from Pokémon such as Krookodile and Weavile can handle some of the common Ghost-types such as Cofagrigus; I mention these two in particular since they also deal heavy damage to Nidoqueen. Shaymin and Roserade are certainly appreciated as they can absorb Scald and Will-O-Wisp thanks to Natural Cure while also handling Slowbro. The former is also a great teammate for the SubPass set, since it appreciates the Substitute to fire off its powerful attacks behind. Moreover, you can run Slowbro or Slowking as well as Amoonguss to form a Regenerator core with Mienshao. Other than that, Mienshao should be able to fit into your team most of the time, whether as a revenge killer or simply a hard hitter.

Get Out There!

With all that aside, Mienshao is easily one of the best Pokémon in the UU metagame. It can serve as an amazing revenge killer and cleaner, outpacing everything in UU and hitting plain hard. Mienshao is a Pokémon that should always be considered when building a team, whether to prepare for it, or slap it onto your own team. Either way, do me a favor and stop reading this, because the time to use Mienshao is now.

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