Along with its tropical weather and tasty malasadas, the Alola Region of the Pokemon Universe has brought much to the table in terms of competitive battling. Even after analyzing the stats, abilities, moves, and typings of all these new Pokemon, it is a rather daunting task to form some sort of coherent “Top” list, and I have been forced to make some rather tough decisions on which Pokemon made the cut. For the purposes of this article, I have decided to omit Ultra Beasts for the time-being since they would most surely be dominating most of this list in lieu of the other competitors. After reading my opinions on what we can expect to see in VGC Singles and various other formats, please feel free to leave your own in the comments section. I’d like to see what you guys think. Oh, btw, “In the Meta” is finally coming back in the form of “In the Meta 2.0,” and this is the first installment. SURPRISE. Feel free to use my sets for the upcoming Ultimate Underground Tournament of Champions as well!
**WARNING – The content below may contain sensitive information that can possibly in some vague way be construed as spoilers if you have not yet finished the game. At this point in your reading experience please make one of the following decisions with posthaste. “Get out” or “Git gud.” Thank you for your attention.**
#5 – TSAREENA
I was “this” close not to putting Tsareena on this list in favor of a different Pokemon, but I kept coming back and saying, “Man, that is a FINE ability.” What ability I’m referring to is of course the ability “Queenly Majesty,” which prevents any higher priority move from affecting Tsareena. Sorry people, but no Sucker Punches against this Pokemon. At first, this might not seem so useful as you’d think. “Okay, my Talonflame will just use Flare Blitz instead of Brave Bird,” You might say. That, however, is where you’re wrong. Since Tsareena’s ability effectively provides immunity for it against ALL priority-influenced moves in general, you need to look at this Pokemon as you would a Pokemon with a Type Immunity. Tsareena will more often be using this ability to switch in and take zero damage from moves which have proven themselves to be integral throughout this game. Klefki, I am so sorry. Kangaskhan? No double Fake Out for you.
The best way to use a Pokemon like this is certainly questionable, but I have my ideas, and I am here to shamelessly share them with you. Here is my proposed set.
The Majestically Defensive Offensive Pivot Spinner
252 HP / 252 Attack / 4 Special Defense
Ability: Queenly Majesty
Moves: Trop Kick, Hi-Jump Kick, U-turn, Rapid Spin
Starting with a Trop Kick to the face of any potential switch-in, Tsareena can be quite formidable with both defenses. Hi-Jump Kick is tricky to use, but worth the risk due to the nice coverage it provides. U-turn and Rapid Spin have proven to be great tech moves which infinitely increase Tsareena’s worth on a team. If you want to include Leaf Storm in the set, run a Sassy Nature and drop one of the kicks. In retrospect, why would I have even considered Bruxish for this spot?
#4 – Golisopod
The epitome of the power of extreme cowardice, Golisopod has managed to find its way onto my list despite my gut telling me “They’re all gonna laugh at you” again and again. Some may look at Golisopod’s “Emergency Exit” ability and think that it is bad for a defensive Pokemon that’s supposed to sit on the battlefield and soak up attacks, but I argue that Golisopod is not meant for such destinies. Golisopod is a Pokemon with an INCREDIBLE Defense stat, a great Attack stat, and a workable Special Defense stat. These three combined with a move-pool specifically tailored to bring out the best of this Pokemon’s dubious ability, and we’ve got ourselves an unprecedented type of pivot with a free Eject Button tech. Anyways, here’s my set recommendation.
COME AT ME BR… Nevermind
Adamant / Careful Nature
252 Attack / 252 HP or 252 Special Defense / 4 Defense
Ability: Emergency Exit
Moves: First Impression, Sucker Punch, Aqua Jet, Spikes
This set is specifically designed to decimate an opponent unprepared for your shenanigans. First Impression is necessary so you can use Savage Spin-Out as a devastating Z-move. Aqua Jet and Sucker Punch let you circumvent the negative effects of your ability by almost ensuring that you always get an attack in. Spikes is there to apply pressure, and Emergency Exit complements it by providing a free switch. Why are the EVs in Special Defense you ask? Well, as DrShamu puts it, “You have a 20% chance to survive a Tapu Koko’s Thunderbolt,” and that’s impressive.
#3 – Alolan Ninetales
Excuse me for a minute while I sing “Hallelujah!” Alolan Ninetales is EXACTLY what Hail teams needed in my opinion. Done are the days of being stuck with the choices of Aurorus, Abomasnow, or (Dare I say it) Vanilluxe (Throws up a bit) as your Snow Warning Pokemon. If you don’t believe me, look at the reasonable success of Sun teams with normal Ninetales / Megazard Y and rain teams with Politoed. A decently fast Pokemon that can be used as an early game sweeper is really what Hail needed after being designed too similarly to Sandstorm teams. The fundamental difference is really the special defense boost provided to Rock Pokemon in a Sandstorm, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, Alolan Ninetale’s typing isn’t terribly good defensively, but I think this is offset by its offensive and supportive power. This thing hits like a semi-truck on the autobahn, no joke people. 100% accuracy Blizzard with STAB? Count me in! Take a look at my set recommendation.
Let It Go. Go. Go Go Go.
252 Special Attack / 252 Speed / 4 HP
Ability: Snow Warning
Moves: Blizzard, Moonblast, Aurora Veil, Psyshock
The most important thing to do with Alolan Ninetales is keep it alive. You’re going to need it if you want to successfully run a Hail weather team. Because of this, the move Aurora Veil is the most important move in this set, functioning as a Reflect and Light Screen at the same time, so you’re going to want to frequently switch in a use this when possible. The only catch is that it can only be used in Hail, but that’s no problem as long as you’re not facing a rival weather team. Blizzard and Moonblast are the best STAB attacks here, and Psyshock is for type-coverage / Chansey problem-solving.
#2 – Toxapex
I know I know. “SCRON, STOP BEING BIASED.” Well guess what, your pleas are falling on deaf ears, because Toxapex is and always will be bae from this point. Seriously though, this Pokemon is good. I could write a bloody novel on the different ways you could use this Pokemon, but I’m going to stick with the set I think to be the best. Unfortunately, I think its Regenerator set is much more competitively viable than its Merciless sets, so we’re going to go with that. Toxapex mainly has trouble with special attackers due to its Electric and Psychic weaknesses. Fortunately, these problems are minimal when you can regenerate 33% of your health just by switching it, so just deal with it. Check out this rad set I concocted for you.
I’m a Brutal STAR
252 HP / 252 Special Defense / 4 Defense
Moves: Haze, Baneful Bunker, Scald, Sludge Wave
This set relies on being unpredictable to what is expected. Typically, a well-timed Baneful Bunker can make the rest of the game tough for a team without adequate support. Ice Beam is here to deal with Dragon types like Salamence I expect to be likely to see at least until Bank comes out. Scald is here to deal with inevitable Ultra Beast threats like Kartana and hopefully burn stuff. Sludge Wave is here to deal with the Tapus and maybe Grass types like Lurantis or Tsareena. The best part of this set though is Haze. Toxapex can usually switch in to sweepers and survive one or two hits before needing to switch out again, providing time for you to negate all their hard work with a simple usage of Haze. Bwahahahaha. Now do you see why I love this Pokemon? Look into Merciless sets for Toxapex as well, though I don’t expect them to be as common.
#1 – Tapu Koko
HAVE YOU EVEN SEEN THIS POKEMON? JEEEEEZ. When I first looked at all the things about Tapu Koko, I got the feeling a first grader does when teacher gives them a lollipop. I mean, wow, just everything seems great to me. Okay, maybe its defenses aren’t the best around, but they’re not BAD, and does that really matter when you have 130 base Speed, 110 base Attack, 95 base Special Attack, and an ability that makes all grounded Electric moves deal 50% more damage. Just wow. Couple this with a Z- move that circumvents your type disadvantages entirely? I’m not going to lie, all the Tapus really should be on this list, I just think Koko is the best of them. By all definitions of the term, Tapu Koko is a Scout Pokemon meant to come in a few times, knock some stuff out, then gloriously be witnessed as it goes kamikaze. Truly Truly Glorious. Check out this killer set.
Look at Me Mom, I’m a Totem-Electric-Fairy-Bird
Hasty / Mild Nature
252 Special Attack / 180 Speed / 76 Attack
Ability: Electric Surge
Moves: Thunderbolt / Brave Bird / U-turn / Nature’s Madness
Tapu obviously is going to have good synergy on teams with Pokemon holding items like “Electric Seed” or who also have Electric type moves in order to capitalize on the effects of Electric Terrain. Not to mention, the effect of not being able to fall asleep is useful too. If you already have a Z-move user on your team, Focus Sash is an excellent replacement, and Dazzling Gleam can easily replace Nature’s Madness in that case. If you wish, Volt Switch can serve as a just as viable option instead of U-turn. The rest of the moves seem pretty clear cut though, I mean, there’s not a whole lot of strategy to it. Basically you just bash face in I guess?
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you guys this time. If you want to see more articles like this one, want to talk about other great 7th gen Pokemon, or just want to chat, please comment below. Also, since this article claims to be about competitive usage, I have to stick this disclaimer in here about how these sets are what I expect to see being used rather than what’s actually popular right now. Alola!
*Shout out to DrShamu for reeling me in from how weird these sets used to be.*