VGC 2017 is a format with basically one Fire-type. At least, that’s someone would think considering how often we see Arcanine on the tournament result pages. Believe it or not, there are other Fire-types that exist in the metagame, and the one we’re looking at today can be a fine team member for someone competing at the World Championships.
Meet Marowak’s Alolan Form. A Pokemon that drastically deviates in typing from its Kantonian counterpart, existing as a Fire/Ghost type. Like Arcanine, Marowak has a very useful supportive ability along with a powerful Flare Blitz to threaten its opponents with. Marowak is no stranger to the Top Cut stage this season, but in the face of Arcanine, this Fire Pokemon is quite underrated. Marowak might be the mix up a Worlds team needs to go all the way, and I’ll tell you why.
Stats & Typing
At face value, Marowak’s stats aren’t impressive by any means. A mediocre attack stat, terrible speed and alright defenses that are slightly undermined by Marowak’s low HP. Luckily, Marowak has a way to skyrocket its attack stat thanks to something we’ll get into later, which leaves a lot of room for investment into Marowak’s bulk. In a format filled with Trick Room, the low speed isn’t a big deal either, but Marowak does have to worry about slower sweepers that can deal with it.
Fire/Ghost is a very unique type combination that only three other Pokemon have. It’s especially unique to this format considering the relative obscurity of Ghost-types as well as Fire-types (outside of Arcanine of course). Defensively, it’s not great, being weak to Rock, Ground, Water, Dark as well as other Ghost-type attacks. However, offensively, there is little that wants to switch in on a Shadow Bone from Marowak, while Flare Blitz also being a great way to fry a Celesteela. Plus, Marowak’s most common ability does give it an immunity, helping it pretty much hard counter every Electric-type in the format. Speaking of abilities…
By far, Alolan Marowak’s most popular ability, Lightningrod, makes Marowak a hard counter to, arguably, the format’s best Pokemon: Tapu Koko. Thanks to updated mechanics courtesy of the fifth generation, Marowak gains an immunity to Electric-type attacks while receiving a pretty useless Special Attack boost. This ability gives Marowak synergy with most Flying and Water-type Pokemon in the format, while also making an opposing Tapu Koko’s life on the field much more difficult. This is the best ability for Marowak in VGC and likely the one that you’ll want on your team.
Since Marowak has access to Lightningrod, it’s doubtful Rock Head will see use in doubles. Though, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never seen a Rock Head Marowak successfully bluff Lightningrod while taking absolutely no recoil damage from Flare Blitz. It’s solid as a bluff, but for VGC I’d stick with the former.
A very disruptive ability on a Pokemon like Gengar or Jellicent, but probably not the best choice for Marowak. Disabling moves can be nice, but Cursed Body would likely only come in handy once thanks to Marowak’s sub par bulk.
Marowak’s arsenal is admittedly limited, with Flare Blitz, Shadow Bone and Protect being relatively standard. Although, that third move slot has seen some variation, and is capable of carrying some fun tricks.
Learned by Level-up
- Flare Blitz: Marowak’s main Fire-type attack of choice. Despite the recoil, even a resisted hit from Marowak’s Flare Blitz is sure to do a lot of damage. Usually recommended only for super effective damage, as this next move also can do damage, without Flare Blitz’s recoil.
- Shadow Bone: A new physical Ghost-type type introduced in Generation 7 that is exclusive to Alolan Marowak. At 80 base power coming off of Marowak’s impressive attack stat, is sure to pack a punch. Not many popular Pokemon resist Ghost-type attacks in VGC 2017, so Shadow Bone is very reliable damage output from Marowak.
- Bonemerang: A move previously unique to Marowak’s Kantonian lineage has made its way to Alola. Ground-type moves that aren’t Earthquake are always useful, as they are not nerfed by Grassy-Terrain. Another neat aspect of Bonemerang is that while it’s only 50 base power, it hits twice, effectively turning it into a single-target Earthquake that can also bypass a Focus Sash. Despite how good this move sounds, Alolan Marowak doesn’t receive the same type attack boost since its not a Ground-type, so the damage output can be lacking. Also, 90% accuracy isn’t fun to play around with at times.
- Will-o-Wisp: A lot of physical attackers in this format already don’t like going up against Alolan Marowak, and Will-o-Wisp can further put that matchup in your team’s favor. There are a lot of strong, physical attackers in the format right now, making Will-o-Wisp a nice move to pack on a team.
Learned by TM or HM
- Substitute: Being a heavy hitter, Marowak often causes defensive plays, and what better way to punish defensive plays than with Substitute. This move will likely work better with a Trick Room mode, as Marowak with a speed advantage is way more dangerous.
- Toxic: I’ve said before how good I think Toxic is right now, and Marowak is yet another example of a Pokemon who can use it.
- Rock Slide/Stone Edge/Rock Tomb: A Rock-type move could be nice, but the coverage it provides isn’t really necessary for Alolan Marowak.
- Rain Dance/Sunny Day: If your weather matchup is this bad, you should probably re-think your team. I would really only advise this in best-of-one play.
Learned from Breeding
- Detect: Probably better than using Protect so you aren’t affected by Imprison.
- Perish Song: A late-game win condition and an excellent answer to Eevee teams that actually has seen success on Marowak thanks to Hayden McTavish. Along with Substitute, I’d consider this the best third move option for Marowak.
Potential Held Items
There’s really only one.
Thick Club: Not to be confused with the Rare Bone, the Thick Club is an item that doubles Marowak’s attack stat. This is the only item you should ever run on Marowak, as this item is essential to Marowak’s offensive presence. It’s important to make sure Marowak holds on to this item, as you’ll quickly see how less scary Marowak becomes when it’s boneless.
Checks & Counters
Dark-type Pokemon (Foul Play+Knock Off)
Alolan Persian, Alolan Muk and Mandibuzz are likely the biggest threats. Foul Play does a ton of damage to Marowak after its attack boost and Knock Off can remove Marowak’s essential item. Marowak also can’t really do much to Dark-types and will likely not live long enough to try.
Having both a speed and type disadvantage makes Garchomp a hard stop to any sweep an Alolan Marowak attempts. Marowak will be melted by a Tectonic Rage, and will not appreciate an Earthquake in addition to potential Rough Skin Damage.
Rock-type Pokemon (Nihilego/Gigalith)
Nihilego can easily pick up a free Beast Boost from KOing a Marowak as Marowak’s Special Defense is not well equipped for Nihilego’s Power Gem. Gigalith outspeeds Marowak under Trick Room while Marowak can’t do much back, even with a super effective Bonemerang.
Marowak hates the rain and will have a hard time dealing with bulky Water-types like Milotic and Tapu Fini. Definitely a better partner than an opponent for Marowak.
The bane of most physical sweepers is VGC’s most popular ability: Intimidate. Marowak can out-damage Arcanine but struggles against the likes of Gyarados and Salamence.
Probably Marowak’s most common (arguably best) partner is Gyarados. Gyarados can be difficult to take down without Electric attacks, which is where Alolan Marowak’s Lightningrod ability comes in. This allows Gyarados to set up Dragon Dances and deal with Marowak’s threats while Marowak can deal with a majority of Gyarados’ threats. This pair does have to watch out for Nihilego and other strong Rock-type attackers.
Another Pokemon that appreciates not having to eat a Thunderbolt is VGC’s greatest defensive Pokemon: Celesteela. Celesteela loves the Lightningrod support, but Marowak doesn’t help much when these two are staring down an Arcanine.
And basically every other Pokemon in the format that hates dealing with Electric-type attacks.
Since Marowak is relatively slow, Trick Room seems like a natural choice. However, Marowak isn’t as slow as other popular Trick Room sweepers, so it has to be careful around opposing Snorlax, Araquanid and Gigalith.
So why use Alolan Marowak?
Why not use Arcanine?
Well, honestly, Marowak seems like an excellent metagame call for Worlds. We’re all aware how popular Tapu Koko is, and the popularity of Electrium Z makes Lightningrod a terrifying ability for most Tapu Koko to go up against. If you’re missing Arcanine’s Intimidate, Gyarados is a great team mate for Marowak, that provides both Intimidate and insane offensive pressure when those two are on the field.
Hopefully this showed off another great Fire-type in a metagame seemingly dominated by Arcanine. Marowak has a ton of fire power and can be a great supportive Pokemon with its Lightningrod ability.
Just be careful. If you have your own Electric-type on your team, try not to accidentally switch Marowak in when you click Thunderbolt. Trust me, it happens way more often than you think.
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokémon and Ken Sugimori