Poké Monday 3/23/15: Staraptor

RNG (Staraptor) 

Smogon official tier: BL
Type: Normal/Flying
Base Stats: 85 HP, 120 Atk, 70 Def, 50 Sp.Atk, 60 Sp.Def, 100 Speed
Abilities: Intimidate, Reckless (HA)

Usable moves: Aerial Ace, Agility, Brave Bird, Close Combat, Detect, Double-Edge, Endeavor, Façade, Frustration, Heat Wave, Hidden Power (Electric, Fighting, Fire, Grass, Ice), Protect, Pursuit, Quick Attack, Rain Dance, Rest, Return, Roost, Sleep Talk, Substitute, Sunny Day, Tailwind, Toxic, U-turn, Whirlwind, Work Up

Overview

Imagine yourself in Sinnoh, a budding adventurer on a quest to defeat the Pokémon League. The first thing you encounter, even before getting a Pokémon of your own, is a Starly. You may reject it, thinking, “Man, it’s just a Pidgey clone.” You may accept it, thinking, “Hey, this might complement my starter well.” Whether you accept or reject the bird, it will come back to haunt you eventually; it turns out your rival has one! You may think, “I’ll just keep a Rock or Steel type around.” This is all well and good, but when the bird reaches its final stage and becomes a Staraptor, expect to suffer some major damage from a Close Combat, especially if that “Rock or Steel type” you were considering happened to be a Bastiodon. So, next time you encounter a Starly, think not about what it is, but what it will become (unless you happen to be a Little Cup player).

In the competitive scene, Staraptor falls under the category BL (Borderline) which means, while it’s not OU by usage, it is deemed too unbalanced for any tier other than OU. Unfortunately, it faces competition from other Flying-type attackers, e.g. Talonflame, Mega Pinsir, and Hawlucha. To elaborate further, here are some comparisons:

Talonflame
+ Gale Wings
+ better secondary STAB
+ greater Speed
+ Swords Dance / Bulk Up
– much less raw power
– no solid option against Rock-types (Tyranitar, for instance)
– greater Stealth Rock weakness

Mega Pinsir
+ higher base Attack and Speed
+ more powerful (and Flying-type) Quick Attack
+ Swords Dance
+ gets Earthquake, a less risky coverage move than Close Combat
+ has Hyper Cutter in base form, preventing it from being Intimidated pre-Mega
– takes up a Mega slot
– cannot hold an item other than Pinsirite
– after Mega Evolving, takes more damage from Stealth Rock
– Reckless Brave Bird = 144; Aerilate Return ≈ 132 (although the latter is recoil-free)
– no U-turn

Hawlucha
+ much better secondary STAB
+ higher base Speed, which is further complemented by Unburden
+ Swords Dance
+ no Stealth Rock weakness
+ resistant to Sucker Punch
– less raw power
– Acrobatics is its only useful Flying STAB which, even then, relies on item consumption

To summarize, the main reason to use Staraptor would be as a powerful wallbreaker with the freedom to hold an item while not taking up a Mega slot. Because it has no setup moves apart from Work Up and is relatively frail, it is best off running a Choice item, be it Band or Scarf. Either way, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Set 1: Choice Band

Staraptor @ Choice Band
Ability: Reckless
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Double-Edge
– Brave Bird
– U-turn
– Close Combat

The Choice Banded variant of Staraptor rips apart anything lacking resistance with its base 120 Attack and its Reckless-boosted dual STABs. Ferrothorn, no matter its spread, cannot withstand two Brave Birds. Physically defensive Zapdos cannot switch in on a Double-Edge (and the chance of OHKOing with Stealth Rock on the field is really high; 252 Atk Choice Band Reckless Staraptor Double-Edge vs. 248 HP / 176+ Def Zapdos: 286-337 (74.6 – 87.9%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO after Stealth Rock). Use U-turn to predict a switch or escape from anything problematic, or just for scouting. Use Close Combat to deal a heavy hit to types that resist its dual STABs (e.g., Tyranitar, Bisharp). EVs are put into offensive stats for obvious reasons, but keep in mind that the remaining 4 EVs should not be put into HP. Doing so sets its HP to 312 instead of 311, making it so that it can only switch into Stealth Rock four times instead of five if it keeps going for U-turn.

Set 2: Choice Scarf

Staraptor @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Reckless
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Double-Edge
– Brave Bird
– U-turn
– Final Gambit

This is the second variant of Staraptor: the Scarf set. The Choice Scarf patches up its average base 100 Speed and makes it a revenge killer with plenty of muscle (thanks to its dual STABs). One key difference you’ll notice here is Final Gambit. It is not listed under usable moves, but that doesn’t mean it’s useless; not very many offensive Pokémon in OU have HP at or below the 85 mark. At the very least, it’s the most damage that Staraptor can deal to Skarmory or defensive Landorus-T with any move.

Other Options

Return/Frustration can be used over Double-Edge in order to not risk recoil, although why bother running Reckless only for Brave Bird? Quick Attack can be used for priority on the Choice Band set, but there is much better priority out there (e.g., Azumarill’s Aqua Jet, Mega Metagross’ Bullet Punch, Breloom’s Mach Punch, Bisharp’s Sucker Punch, Talonflame’s Brave Bird). That should about cover it for what few other options it has; it gets Agility and Work Up for setup, but clearly it is inferior as a setup sweeper to its other fellow avians.

Sample Team

http://pastebin.com/DxGnPcYG – This team uses Choice Band Staraptor. Also, it lost its first battle.

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