How to beat ’em all…in theory
With the recent trailer for Pokemon Sun and Moon detailing a wide range of new changes and features to the 20 year franchise, it feels like a good time to try and analyze what could happen in the Pokemon competitive battling scene. I will do my utmost best to try and guess what some of the biggest changes will be in the scene, as well as how one can try to adapt to the new environment early to get an edge on the competition. Keep in mind though that this is mostly speculation, and I may be wrong about things once the games come out.
While Pokemon X and Y introduced Mega Evolution as its major change and dominated the generation (with a massive assist from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire bringing even more Mega Pokemon to the mix), this time Sun and Moon are showcasing a multitude of new Abilities and the destructive Z Move that Pokemon can unleash. Most of of the new abilities that have been showcased thus far are massive game changers to the format, and will be need to be played around with as soon as possible. Take the new ability that Yungoos and Gumshoos’ can have, Stakeout, for example. If your opponent switches Pokemon on one of these Donald Trump lookalikes, the next move that hits will do twice the damage. It makes it so that moves like U-Turn and Volt Switch, staples on almost any competitive team to scout moves, extremely risky to use, as whatever comes out will most likely be hit for entirely too much damage. Depending on what stats that Game Freak decides to give to these too, I can easily see Gumshoos being extremely prevalent at the beginning of the generation in competitive battling.
Other new Pokemon Abilities that should be watched out for are the ones that can raise stats by being hit with certain attacks. Mudsdale and Mudbray have the Stamina ability, which automatically raises these horses’ Defense by a stage every time they get hit by a physical move. In addition, both Pokemon are Ground type, which has pretty much always been defensive beasts already. Just a few blows from the opponent, and my best guess is that these monsters will be only brought down by special sweepers. The new dragon Pokemon, Drampa, has another raising stat with Berserk. Though only activating when Drampa’s health reaches half or less, it has the power to raise the special attack of the Pokemon. Stat boosts are already widely used in competitive battling, so giving Drampa a last-minute boost could bring a few foes down, especially if you give Drampa a Salac Berry, which will raise the Speed stat when the holder’s health is low. If Drampa can learn Substitute, it has the chance to sweep through an opponent’s entire team. Dazzling, the ability from the garish fish Pokemon, Bruxish, prevents any priority attacking moves from being able to hit. Generation six has had many trainers and Pokemon use such priority moves like Bullet Punch and Extreme Speed, so taking away an entire move slot is damaging, particularly if the opponent is holding an item that locks them into a single move.
That’s not all for the new Abilities however. Game Freak have also announced some more situational abilities that are making their way to Pokemon Sun and Moon that you may want to be on the lookout for. Dancer is a normally useless ability, though if your foe uses a move that has “Dance” in the name, such as the stat boosting Quiver Dance, you will also use the same move right away. While most “Dance” moves are primarily used in lower level tiers, it will still need to be decided if using those moves are worth it, especially if someone can just swoop in and steal the same thing. Fluffy, another situational though more powerful ability, has the advantage of blocking half the damage from any physical attack while Fire type moves deal twice the pain. As of this generation, Fire moves are not used too often, and when they are, its usually easy to tell when they are going to be used. Should Beware, the koala who gets the Ability have even decent stats for the game, I can almost guarantee that more Pokemon will be baring Fire to combat the hugging bear. The Triage has the special effect of having any healing moves be used before the opponent can retaliate. While probably not all that useful during one-on-one battles, should any Pokemon that can obtain this Ability and can get the move Heal Pulse (a move that heals another Pokemon on the field) Triage will be a prominent slot in double battles.
Now that Abilities are out of the way, lets go ahead and talk about the next major change that Pokemon Sun and Moon are shoving onto us are whats known as “Z Moves.” Z Moves are extremely powerful moves that can only be used once per battle, not entirely like Mega Evolution. A lot of people that I know are thinking that Z Moves are going to completely take over Mega Evolution, and while I disagree, I can see why most people would think so, as they are very much in common. Not unlike Mega Evolution, Z Moves can only be activated if the Pokemon in question is holding a new item called a Z Crystal. Unlike the aforementioned Mega Evolution however, the Pokemon must also have a move that shares the same type as the held Z Crystal. These differences, as well as Mega Evolution already being shown and proved to be necessary in basically every single competitive team, makes me wonder if Z Moves will be used all that often. Now, having the chance to use any of the 17 types is certainly powerful, unless Z Moves do an unprecedented amount of damage, or can boost stats, I doubt that losing a valuable item slot will be worth the risk.
That is pretty much all that I have to touch upon for Pokemon Sun and Moon at this time, though I am willing to bet that most of these are correct. I know that the internet in general is ripe with discussion on this very same topic, and even some competitive Pokemon players are talking and digesting all the new information and planning their new teams. Take PkmnTrainerSteve’s video on him discussing some potential stats on one of the newest Pokemon posted above as just one example of just how serious some people take competitive battling. There are plenty more on the topic, and I expect it to only grow as time goes on. Let us know what you think in the comment!