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How the Hidden Ability Alolan starters perform competitively

Hidden Ability

It was announced this week that Hidden Ability Alolan starters are finally available. Exclusive to Pokémon Bank subscribers, they can be collected from Pokémon Centres the same as any other Mystery Gift.

All players need to do to claim their Alolan starters is log into the Pokémon Bank app with a Generation VII game in their console. Each trainer will receive one of each starter in its fully evolved form at level 50. This is the first time that these Pokémon will appear in the game with their Hidden Ability.

No end date for the distribution has been announced.

Along with the legendary Pokémon distributed each month, this offers trainers a new way to shake up their competitive teams.

 

Decidueye with Hidden Ability Long Reach

Hidden Ability
Decidueye, from Bulbapedia

Decidueye doesn’t stand out as a particularly powerful Pokémon for competitive teams. It has fairly average stats with disappointingly low speed. At a respectable 107, its Attack stat is its highest. Its 100 base Special Attack and Special Defense isn’t awful, but it also isn’t amazing.

Decidueye’s signature move, Spirit Shackle, can pack a punch. It offers a solid 80 base damage as well as STAB. It does lock in opposing Pokémon so they can’t be switched out. But, thanks to Decidueye’s generally average stats and typing, this isn’t a particular threat to many opponents.

Its Z-Move is more powerful still, with a lot of base power offering one of its biggest blows.

There are a few decent move sets available to Decidueye, if you know how to strategise around it.

Its typing is as unremarkable as its stats. While it is resistant to some common types, including Ground and Water, it has more type-based weaknesses than strengths. While it resists four types, it is weak to nine: Flying, Ghost, Fire, Ice and Dark. The immunity to Normal and Fighting types comes in handy, but it’s not enough to make up for its vulnerabilities.

Hidden Ability
Decidueye typing, from Bulbapedia

The Decidueye available through Pokémon Bank comes with Leaf Blade, Phantom Force, Shadow Sneak and Brave Bird. This move set comprised of powerful physical moves takes advantage of that high Attack stat. It also offers a little bonus in the form of Brave Bird, which Decidueye usually can’t learn until level 55.

Decidueye’s Hidden Ability, Long Reach, prevents effects caused by contact moves. This Hidden Ability only appears in the Rowlet evolutionary line.

Long Reach means that Decidueye won’t take recoil damage from moves like Brave Bird. It also prevents the effects of abilities like Poison Point and items like the Rocky Helmet. There are items that can do this for Decidueye, but this Hidden Ability frees up the item slot for something else. With some creative thinking, this can definitely be used to your advantage.

Decidueye’s Hidden Ability gives it more scope for competitive play. It means that its most powerful moves won’t take so much of a toll. This can be very valuable with the right strategy. But it may not be enough to make up for the vulnerabilities that have kept Decidueye out of the competitive sphere so far.

 

Primarina with Hidden Ability Liquid Voice

Hidden Ability
Primarina, from Bulbapedia

While it is also not likely to stand out as particularly powerful, Primarina does have fair stats. Its 116 Special Defense stat gives it a fair amount of bulk. At 126, Primarina’s Special Attack stat is the highest of the Alolan starter Pokémon. It is slow, but tanky, so does have potential on the competitive scene.

The signature move, Sparkling Aria, offers a base damage of 90, with 100% accuracy. It has the ability to heal the burn of its target. While this might not seem advantageous when directed at an opponent, a creative strategy could make it a strong asset, particularly in doubles.

Primarina is also blessed with the most powerful Z-Move out of all the Alolan starters.

Primarina’s typing gives it decent coverage. Although it is weak to Poison, Grass and Electric types, it is resistant to more types than it is vulnerable to. It has a type advantage over Fighting, Fire, Bug, Water, Ice and Dark, which gives it an edge over some very popular Pokémon. The immunity to Dragon types is especially nice.

Both Primarina’s types offer STAB to some fairly powerful moves. It has access to a decent range of attacks that can combine to make up some solid move sets. Its move pool includes a lot of popular moves for competitive battles, including Charm, Protect and Amnesia.

Hidden Ability
Primarina typing, from Bulbapedia

The Primarina available through PokémonBank comes with Hyper Voice, Moonblast, Perish Song and Icy Wind. Perish Song is notable in particular as it isn’t a move that Primarina, or any of its prevolutions, can learn through leveling alone. Usually, Perish Song is an egg move that can only be bred into a Popplio.

The Hidden Ability, Liquid Voice, turns any sound-based moves into Water type. This Hidden Ability only appears in the Popplio evolutionary line.

Liquid Voice means that both Perish Song and Hyper Voice, usually Normal type moves, will gain STAB when used by Primarina. This move set gives Primarina three out of four moves with STAB, as Moonblast already benefits from it as a Fairy type move.

Primarina’s move pool gives it access to some attacks that can really take advantage of its Hidden Ability. A lot of attention has already been drawn, in particular, to Round. While it has a base power of 60, that gets doubled when used immediately after another Pokémon. Added to the STAB afforded it by Liquid Voice, this could become very powerful in doubles tournaments.

Thanks to its combination of decent stats and typing, Primarina already has some potential for competitive play. The introduction of its Hidden Ability gives it a chance to exploit some high damage moves.

 

Incineroar with Hidden Ability Intimidate

Hidden Ability
Incineroar, from Bulbapedia

Incineroar’s stats make it a fairly decent tank, as far as its role in competitive teams goes. Combining 95 base HP with 90 Defense and Special Defense makes for solid cover. The addition of 115 base Attack seals its tanky reputation.

Incineroar’s signature move, Darkest Lariat, makes very good use of its high Attack stat, with 85 base power.

It has a solid move pool that is boosted by some very nice egg moves, if you’re prepared to invest some time in breeding. Capable of learning a lot of strong physical attacks, there are some interesting move sets available to anyone looking to get creative with Incineroar.

It doesn’t have a huge amount of versatility. Most of its move sets are going to be based primarily around its high Attack. But Incineroar is at least good at what it does.

Its dual typing of Fire and Dark offers fair coverage against other types. It is resistant to more types than it is weak against. The advantage of Fighting, Ground, Rock and Water isn’t amazing, as they all have some popular powerful moves. However, its resistance to Ghost, Steel, Fire, Ice and Dark does make up for that a little. Its immunity to Psychic types also helps.

Hidden Ability
Incineroar typing, from Bulbapedia

The Incineroar released via Pokémon Bank is comes with Fake Out, U-Turn, Darkest Lariat and Flare Blitz. This is a decent move set, all things considered. Fake Out typically appears as an egg move for Litten’s evolutionary line. Flare Blitz is usually only learned at level 55. This offers a bit of an advantage over home-grown Incineroar.

The Hidden Ability Intimidate is the only one of the Alolan starters that isn’t exclusive to their evolutionary line. It has been available to a wide variety of Pokémon since Generation III. In terms of competitive use, it’s not uncommon, but not unpopular either. It lowers the Attack of all opposing Pokémon.

Given Incineroar’s decent defensive stats, Intimidate can be very valuable competitively in adding to this. If you’re not going to lean into Incineroar’s literal fire power, then its Blaze ability won’t offer too much of an advantage. Intimidate, on the other hand, weakens opposing Pokémon, making it tougher for them to break through Incineroar’s defenses. It is also helpful in Double Battles, if Incineroar’s partner isn’t especially well endowed with high defense stats.

It doesn’t much affect the move sets you might choose for it, but Incineroar’s Hidden Ability could give it the edge it needs to make a mark on the competitive scene.

 


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Images from Bulbapedia and Game Radar

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