One of the biggest improvements in 2018 over the 2017 format is the plethora of new Fire-type Pokemon at players’ disposal. VGC 2017 was a metagame starved of viable Fire-types, and with an entire Pokedex to work with, Arcanine is nearly drowned out. Many players have been going with the typical choices like Heatran or Volcarona, but like I said we have an entire Pokedex to work with. This Fire-type comes from a trio you wouldn’t expect to see more than one member used successfully.
Suicune is usually the sole representative of the legendary beast trio, but we’re here to talk about its volcanic brother: Entei. Entei had some viable placings in the 2015 format, but it’s usually not a player’s first choice when picking a Fire-type. I’m here to make a case for Entei, and how its role on a team can be valuable for many matchups in the 2018 metagame.
Stats & Typing
Being basically a legendary Pokemon, it’s no surprise that Entei’s stats are solid all-around. Entei’s stats place it in the role of a physical attacker that can choose to focus on speed or bulk. It can speed-tie with Charizard and it out-speeds Pokemon like Landorus-Therian making Entei a great pick against Sun-based teams. While Entei’s Special Attack isn’t too shabby, you’ll likely want to focus on the physical side for reasons we’ll get to later.
As a pure Fire-type, Entei is weak to many common attacking types, especially attacking types with strong spread attacks like Earthquake and Rock Slide. Without access to its Hidden Ability Flash Fire or any ability that’s better than Pressure, Entei is sort of stuck with its unfortunate weaknesses. However, Fire-types are actually pretty valuable in the early VGC 2018 metagame with the abundance of Grass and Steel-types. Entei’s type coverage also gives it ways to deal with opposing Fire-types making it a solid check to other popular Fire Pokemon like Heatran.
Entei’s movepool is infamous for being shallow, but it has recently gotten access to moves that have helped its type coverage immensely.
Learned by level-up
- Sacred Fire: By far the most useful move in Entei’s arsenal is Sacred Fire, which was a move previously exclusive to Ho-oh. Sacred Fire has a 50% chance to burn the target and is a base 100 power physical Fire-type attack. This move does have low PP and doesn’t have 100% accuracy, but this attack will be Entei’s main means of damage output.
- Eruption/Lava Plume: Some cool Special Fire-type attacks Entei gets, but you’re better off using Sacred Fire.
Learned by TM
- Roar: The move infamous for allowing Entei to flee as a roaming legendary actually has some competitive viability as well. Roar can be used to phase out Trick Room setters or set-up reliant Pokemon like Snorlax.
- Flame Charge: Another Physical Fire attack that can make Entei just a bit quicker.
- Will-O-Wisp: If you’re looking for a more supportive move for Entei that has a better chance of burning a foe, Will-O-Wisp is a good choice. Personally, I’m not really a fan of Will-O-Wisp on Entei mainly because Sacred Fire is right there.
- Stone Edge: Remember how I said Entei was good against Volcarona and Charizard? Well here’s your way of one-hit-KO’ing both of them.
- Bulldoze: One of two Ground-type options Entei has that aren’t Earthquake. You can lower your opponent’s speed, but you’ll lose out on a lot of damage. If you’re looking for support, go with Bulldoze, but if you want damage stay tuned.
- Substitute: As a Pokemon with many great matchups, Entei forces a lot of Protects, switches and double targets onto it. Substitute is a great way to capitalize on your opponent’s defensive plays and protect Entei from those attempted double targets.
- Snarl: I’d consider Snarl the perfect fourth move for Entei if you decide to give it an Assault Vest or just don’t run Protect. Snarl can cripple powerful Special attackers which Entei can struggle with at times, and disrupting your opponent’s damage output can help the rest of your team as well.
Learned by Move Tutor
- Iron Head/Tail: Entei doesn’t really need Steel-type coverage, but the option is there.
- Stomping Tantrum: Finally a decent Ground-type attack for Entei. This is your way of KO’ing Heatran and dealing with other grounded Fire, Poison and Rock-types.
Potential held items
Firium Z: Entei has a high attack stat and a powerful Inferno Overdrive off of Sacred Fire. If your Entei build is all about damage, consider this Z Crystal.
“Pinch” Berry: Mago, Figy and Aguav Berries are all great items to get Entei’s health back in a pinch. Entei’s bulk is good enough to make use of an item like this, almost making it like a 2017 Arcanine.
Assault Vest: Entei’s Special Defense is its worst stat and the Assault Vest not only helps it, but also promotes Entei’s strong attack stat. I know I said Entei’s movepool isn’t that great, but there’s definitely enough in its arsenal for a solid four move set.
Checks & counters
Entei doesn’t like Intimidate, Earthquake or Rock Slide making Landorus a hard matchup for it. Luckily Landorus is unaffected by Terrain effects so Sacred Fire will always be able to burn it. Also Entei (most of the time) will have the speed advantage making it even more likely for Landorus to get burned.
Rain, Tapu Fini and Suicune are the notable examples that hard counter Entei. Entei has absolutely nothing to hit Water-types super-effectively and can really only use Snarl to decrease damage onto it.
Strong Special Attackers
Unless you’re using an Assault Vest, Entei will struggle taking Special hits. Strong special hits such as Tapu Lele’s Psychic, Tapu Koko’s Gigavolt Havoc and Hydreigon’s Draco Meteor are not good news for Entei despite how bulky you build it.
This is mainly due to the fact that pairing Entei with a Water-type is two thirds of a Fire/Water/Grass core and Entei can deal with Grass and even some Electric types that threaten a Water-type partner.
As a Dragon-type, Salamence benefits from Entei’s ability to deal with Ice and Steel-types while also being a switch-in for Ice and Fairy attacks.
This pair might hate Landorus, but Entei can help a Metagross team a lot by dealing with opposing Charizard teams. Entei has the coverage to deal with most Fire-types making it a great teammate for any Steel-type.
So why use Entei?
Entei is the non-conventional Fire-type that you’ve been looking for. This literal beast has great stats, a serviceable move pool and can help a team against many common matchups in the metagame. It may not have access to a great ability or some of its better attacking moves, but Sacred Fire pretty much makes up for all of Entei’s shortcomings in its movepool. Entei has potential, and I assure you that it is more than capable of giving a team the heat it needs to make an excellent tournament run.
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, The Pokemon Anime/Movies, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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