If you’ve played on the ladder the past couple days, you’ve likely seen an Incineroar in about 90% percent of your games. Maybe 100% if you’ve been using it yourself. At what seemed like one of the most random times, Incineroar was gifted with its long sought after hidden ability, Intimidate. If you’ve played or watched even one game of Pokemon VGC, you might already know that Intimidate is one of, if not the, best ability in the game. And of course, a Pokemon that gets that ability becomes much better than it was before. But why exactly does this make Incineroar good? Let’s try to find out.
What makes Incineroar different?
So what exactly makes Incineroar different from other Pokemon that get access to Intimidate like Granbull or Stantler? The thing is, Incineroar was already good without Intimidate. Giving it this ability just made it better.
I think it’s fair to say that VGC formats usually have issues with good Fire-types being available. Anyone remember how much Arcanine dominated usage last year? The 2018 format is different, as since we have the National Pokedex at our disposal, we actually have access to a decent amount of good Fire-types. Although, the popularity of the Rain archetype and individual Pokemon like Tyranitar and Tapu Fini make using Fire-types a bit trickier.
Here’s where Incineroar comes in. Incineroar has a rather unique typing of Fire and Dark which actually works really well offensively. With same-type boosted Knock Off and a powerful Fire STAB with Flare Blitz, Incineroar is quite the force to be reckoned with. Having access to other great filler moves like Low Kick, Snarl and Fake Out makes the Assault Vest the most preferable item on most Incineroar. So, you have a means of disruption with Fake Out, great damage output with Flare Blitz and Knock Off, and decent overall bulk with Intimidate plus the Assault Vest. Incineroar looks like the complete package. Not bad for a starter Pokemon.
Okay, Incineroar can be a good Pokemon on its own, but how does it stack up against the metagame right now? Check out this report from VGC Stats showing the Pokemon that earned the most Championship Points from the past weekend:
Stats from just this weekend, isolated from the rest of the year. pic.twitter.com/ZLOB56R0Bw
— VGC Tournament Stats (@vgcstats) March 12, 2018
Would you look at that, Incineroar is at the top. And for good reason too. Incineroar’s matchup against the majority of this field is largely positive. Being a Fire-type means that Incineroar has ways of dealing with Mega Metagross, Amoonguss, Celesteela and Tapu Bulu. Incineroar’s main means of Dark-type damage in Knock Off has a positive type matchup against the likes of Gothitelle and Mega Gengar, but Knock Off is also great against Pokemon like Tapu Fini and Snorlax who rely on their “pinch” berries to set up or remain on the field. Going back to my previous example of Fire-type counters, Incineroar can easily dispatch of Tyranitar with Low Kick and Knock Off allows it to cripple bulky Water-types that often utilize “pinch” berries. The Assault Vest gives it a strong matchup against potent Special Attackers like Mega Charizard Y, Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele, while Incineroar does massive damage back. And finally, Intimidate gives Incineroar a much better matchup against its physical attacking weaknesses like Landorus-Therian’s Earthquake or Kartana’s Sacred Sword.
With all of that being said, it seems like Incineroar is unbeatable, but that isn’t exactly true. Incineroar might be able to Knock Off items, but it can’t touch bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini beyond that, especially when Knock Off becomes 60 base power without an item to remove. Don’t forget that Landorus-Therian also has Intimidate and can even KO Incineroar easily with a combination of Earthquake, Rock Slide and SuperPower. Incineroar might have a slightly better matchup against a lot of its weaknesses, but like any other Pokemon, it still has its weaknesses.
So what does this mean for Incineroar going forward?
Call this an obvious prediction, but I think Incineroar will have a big showing at this weekend’s regional in Charlotte. And, I think there will be two archetypes in particular that will see a revival as a result of Incineroar’s increased popularity.
There was a popular team earlier on in the format that paired Mega Gardevoir and Incineroar together, but Incineroar having Intimidate makes this duo a lot better. Mega Gardevoir has kind of gotten the shaft with the nerfing of Pixilate and the introduction of the Island Guardians, but make no mistake that Mega Gardevoir is still a potent sweeper with its Hyper Voice spam. One of Mega Gardevoir’s biggest weaknesses is its low defense which makes a Pokemon with Intimidate a natural partner for it. With the combination of Fire, Dark, Psychic, Fairy and potentially Fighting-type coverage offensively, this duo is hard to switch into. Plus, with Fake Out Incineroar can easily score Mega Gardevoir a free turn to set up Trick Room. This team more than any is ready for a comeback. Check out this team report from “Therazer456” to see how a team like this is typically constructed.
Shortly after tweeting those stats from earlier, VGC stats tweeted this:
You guys might have your eyes on Incineroar, but personally I’m just confused about what Gothitelle, Celesteela, Gengar, and Kommo-o are doing up so high. They’re all Pokemon that typically range from #18-#30.
— VGC Tournament Stats (@vgcstats) March 12, 2018
I think I might have an answer to this. It all likely has to do with Incineroar. These teams that rely on Shadow Tag with Pokemon like Gothitelle and Mega Gengar love everything Incineroar has to offer. Fake Out for support, Intimidate to weaken the opponent’s Pokemon and an offensive typing that’s great for damage. These teams usually like to include Tapu Bulu as well, which Incineroar likes not only because its 2/3 of the way to a Fire/Water/Grass core, but also because Grassy Terrain can help Incineroar take Earthquakes a lot better. Trapping and the cycling of Intimidate can make it easy for Pokemon like Snorlax and Kommo-o to set up, not to mention Fake Out being amazing for set up as well. I’ve said in the past that a Mega Gengar team is the perfect anti-meta team, and I think this weekend will prove me right.
So, in short, Incineroar is pretty good after receiving this much needed ability. Many players are frustrated by the timing of this release being just before a big event, thus weakening a lot of potential team ideas. Just how frustrating this Pokemon this Pokemon can be is a testament to its metagame potential. One last thing, there’s been a lot of buzz about Milotic potentially skyrocketing in popularity due to the increased presence of Intimidate. For those unfamiliar, Milotic’s hidden ability Competitive raises its Special Attack by two stages when one of its stats is lowered, and Milotic’s typing gives it an excellent matchup against the format’s two most popular Intimidators. But, some players argue that Milotic still isn’t that great due to the presence of powerful Grass and Electric-type Pokemon in the metagame.
Anyway, regardless of how you feel about this recent shift in the metagame, Intimidate Incineroar is here to stay. Likely the biggest story to come out of this weekend will be the impact of this Pokemon on tournament play. The biggest question is, will Incineroar dominate the meta this weekend? Or will the field be littered with counters to it? We’ll just have to find out.
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, The Pokemon Anime, Bulbapedia, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
Featured Image from user All0412 on DeviantArt
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