A Competitive Review of Each Fully Evolved Alolan Form
One of the many new phenomena of this new Generation was the addition of Alolan forms; select Generation 1 Pokémon that were re-imagined and received new types, stats, and/or abilities in an attempt to mix things up. There were some Pokémon that greatly appreciated this change, and those that did not. Therefore, I have assessed each Alolan form’s potential, both on paper and most on the battlefield, to separate out the good from the bad, and hopefully help you choose the appropriate Alolan form(s) for your team. “The Good” are those that stand to move up in the usage ladders, and “The Bad” are those that stand to move down or remain where they are in usage. I will begin my assessment with “The Good.”
Alolan Muk’s new home seems to agree with it quite nicely. It’s Alolan variant adds a Dark typing to its standard Poison type, giving it a fantastic defensive typing. The two types combine for one weakness in Ground, an immunity to Psychic, and four resistances, making it ideal for monotype Poison and Dark. The addition of Dark typing also gives it STAB (Same Type Attack Boost) Knock Off, something to be feared by any Pokémon holding an item that doesn’t resist it, as well as Crunch for more reliable STAB, and Pursuit to play head games with the opponent.
Statistically speaking, Alolan Muk is identical to the original. This means solid HP, Attack, and Special Defense, which makes a bulky attacking Assault Vest set its best option. Muk has the power to cause problems for opposing teams, with a fantastic ability in Poison Touch, which gives it a chance to poison on any physical attack, particularly great on its non-poison moves, such as Knock Off and Pursuit. The only true concerns to Muk are fast or physically bulky Ground Pokémon, particularly Garchomp, as they will be able to potentially KO Muk with little to no damage to themselves.
Classic Muk ended Generation 6 officially in Smogon’s PU tier. However, in this new generation, I believe Alolan Muk’s added offensive and defensive utility from its Dark typing will elevate it to RU or UU. Despite all that it gains, I don’t believe it will be enough to elevate Muk to OU usage, due to the prevalence of Ground type Pokémon and coverage in the tier. I think it will find a home on certain OU teams, but probably not enough to warrant OU usage. That does not however, mean it won’t see usage in Monotype. Both Mono-Poison and Mono-Dark greatly appreciate its defensive typing, giving Poison a much-needed immunity to Psychic, and Dark a much-needed Fairy counter. Therefore, I foresee widespread use of Muk on Mono-Poison, with potentially less usage on Dark depending on team composition.
Unlike Alolan Muk, Alolan Raichu did not get any defensive help from its new dual typing in Electric-Psychic. Psychic adds three weaknesses (Bug, Dark, and Ghost) to Raichu’s original one Ground weakness, and while Raichu has never been a defensive force, there are now more dangers to consider when attempting to bring Raichu in. Offensively speaking however, Psychic gives Raichu amazing offensive STAB versatility, with not many Pokémon able to resist the combination, meaning powerful Psychic moves such as Psychic and Psyshock can deal a hefty amount after a Nasty Plot boost.
Also unlike Muk, Raichu does experience some statistical changes, gaining 5 base Special Attack and Special Defense, at the cost of 5 base Attack and Defense. Alola also brought Raichu a nifty new ability in Surge Surfer, which doubles its speed in Electric Terrain, at the cost of all abilities available to classic Raichu. In Generation 6, I would’ve considered this ability scoff-worthy, but with the addition of Tapu Koko this generation, I consider a Raichu-Tapu Koko core a legitimate threat, due to the sheer speed and power of Alolan Raichu with Nasty Plot.
Considering Raichu ended last Generation in PU, I would not be surprised if Raichu climbed up to RU. For it to be a legitimate threat in the upper tiers, I think it must be paired with Tapu Koko, which unfortunately for Raichu, seems to be lodged in OU for the start of Generation 7. Raichu lacks the bulk to reliably set up in the upper tiers and is unable to force many switches, meaning finding an opportunity to set up Nasty Plot is going to be difficult. I could however, see Alolan Raichu getting more usage in Monotype on electric teams if Tapu Koko is also on the team. I personally am not a huge fan of Alolan Raichu only having Surge Surfer as its ability, as I thought Lightning Rod gave it some utility to help Electric-weak team members and give it a free boost, but the speed it gains in Electric Terrain is certainly nothing to complain about.
Alolan Marowak is the first subject of this post that completely loses its original type in Ground, to become a Fire and Ghost type. This shift puts Marowak in a rather unique category, giving it an outrageous seven resistances, two immunities with potential for a third, but an unfortunate five weaknesses to common attacking types. From an offensive standpoint, Marowak maintains its classic movepool due to Cubone remaining unchanged that is then added onto by powerful physical Ghost- and Fire-type moves to match its new type, thus giving Marowak a wide range of offensive coverage.
Marowak also maintains two of its old abilities, Lightning Rod and Rock Head, and adds Cursed Body. I don’t think too highly of Cursed Body for competitive play, but Rock Head and Lightning Rod I feel are excellent abilities for it, as Lightning Rod gives it an Electric immunity (the potential immunity I spoke of earlier) and Rock Head allows Marowak to fire off powerful Flare Blitz’s without fear of recoil. Of the two, I believe Lightning Rod is the more beneficial, due to the added immunity it gives Marowak, particularly for Monotype Fire teams. A solid set for Marowak that is rolling around the meta currently has a Thick Club as the held item (doubles Marowak’s Attack) which frees up much-needed EV’s for Marowak’s still-pitiful Special Defense, with its move set being Flare Blitz, Shadow Bone, Earthquake, and whatever needed coverage move, a set which has been giving a fairly large portion of the meta trouble.
Like the previous two entries, Marowak ended Generation 6 in PU (anyone noticing a trend?). While I do not believe Alolan Marowak is a revelation in the standard meta, I do think it will see a solid amount of usage in OU as an anti-meta ‘mon, and see enough usage to become OU or UU. In the current meta, Marowak has key immunities/resistances to major in players, particularly Pheromosa and Tapu Koko, thus why I believe it will land in OU or UU. In Monotype, Marowak has a lot to offer to its two types, giving three immunities to Fire, including a much-needed Electric immunity to help Charizard-Y and Volcanion, and a potent physical attacker for Ghost. Given this, I believe Marowak will be a near-must for Fire teams with Charizard-Y and Volcanion, and its usage on Ghost will depend greatly on the kind of Ghost team being used.
Ninetales and Sandslash
I group Ninetales and Sandslash together because you rarely see one without the other due to the offensive synergy they have. Both Pokémon have become Ice-types, with Ninetales also getting Fairy typing and Sandslash getting Steel typing, both of which are new type combinations courtesy of Generation 7. While both face crippling weaknesses, a 4x Steel weakness for Ninetales, and 4x weaknesses to Fire and Fighting for Sandslash, they make up for them with their combined offensive potential. The STAB coverage of these two alone means there are very few Pokémon they aren’t hitting neutral or better, making them a force to be reckoned with when considering switch-ins.
What makes this pair dangerous is Ninetales’ ability, Snow Warning, which brings in Hail for 5 turns, combined with Sandslash’s new ability, Slush Rush, which doubles its speed in Hail. This allows Sandslash to hit hard and fast, especially with a Choice Band. While this does restrict Sandslash in terms of move choice, this can allow it to sweep through weakened teams without having to worry about residual damage from Life Orb. A Life Orb is a suitable alternative, particularly for a Rapid Spinner Sandslash, but there will be some missed KO’s that a Choice Band would have managed.
With all this talk about Sandslash, it is easy to forget about Ninetales in this duo, and while not nearly the force that Sandslash is, it still can assist its team in ways other than Hail-setting. Two viable sets, in my opinion, have emerged for Ninetales, one in more of a support role, sporting Light Clay for its held item and the new move Aurora Veil, which is in essence Reflect and Light Screen combined when Hail is in effect, greatly increasing the defenses of Ninetales’ team. The other set is a more offensive set, with Ninetales holding Choice Specs and sporting high-power special attacks; Blizzard, Moon Blast, Freeze-Dry, and a coverage move, which make it an offensive concern separate from Sandslash.
Ninetales and Sandslash finally got some much-needed competitive love this Generation, and the Ice-type in general is pretty happy about it as well. While their usage appears to have died off since the start of Gen 7 OU and Gen 7 PokéBank OU, I believe both ‘mons will see more usage than their old counterparts (PU for Ninetales and NU for Sandslash), and probably land in UU or RU. Offensively, these are two very potent Pokémon, especially as a pair, but the defensive concerns are too much in my opinion to land them in OU. Their dependence on the other is another reason for my placing them there, which is not necessarily a bad thing (see Tyranitar-Excadrill core), but it is still a concern, as Ninetales lacks the power to truly defend itself, and Sandslash is too slow without Hail support. In Monotype, I believe the pair will only be valued by Ice, for reasons above, as Ninetales gives Ice a decidedly better Hail setter over Abomasnow and Aurorus, and Sandslash gives Ice a quick and powerful sweeper. As such, I believe Ninetales will be a must on Mono-Ice teams, and will be accompanied by Slush Rush Beartic or Sandslash, possibly even both. Watch out for Ice teams that know how to use these combinations!
Golem’s move to the Alola region brought an intriguing new type combination: Rock-Electric. Defensively, I consider this a win for Golem, as this brings its number of weaknesses down to 4 from 6, and its number of 4x weaknesses from 2 to 1. It is no longer 4x weak to Grass and Water, though still weak to them, but trades them in for a 4x weakness to Ground, which is certainly still a huge concern for it. On the offensive side, Golem maintains its old move pool and adds to that the most powerful physical electric moves, giving it fantastic offensive versatility. Combine this offensive versatility with its fantastic base 120 Attack, and you have a very potent attacker.
While Golem doesn’t see any statistical changes, its new form does get some fun new abilities to play with. Golem maintains the age-old sturdy, but gets Magnet Pull and Galvanize as new abilities. While I’m not a huge fan of Magnet Pull on Golem, particularly since it lost its Ground STAB, I can see it having some use on mono Rock teams, helping to trap and dispatch those pesky Steel types. Galvanize is what makes Golem truly shine, as it makes all Normal-type moves Electric-type, and gives them a 20% boost. This can turn Golem into a true terror, especially given access to moves such as Explosion, which is elevated up to 300 base power by Galvanize. I played quite a few matches with Galvanize Golem in Gen 7 PokéBank OU, and had quite a bit of success with it as a suicide lead. Its ridiculous power has taken more than a few opponents by surprise, but sadly it can be rather hard to utilize against a TankChomp lead, as Golem doesn’t have much of an answer for Ground-types at the moment.
Like many of the other subjects in this blog, Golem ended the last generation in Smogon’s PU tier, though I hardly believe it will stay there. Golem is much improved defensively, and while it has pretty solid offensive coverage, I don’t believe Golem will be a very common option in OU, due to its lack of Speed and poor Special Defense. I see it landing in either UU or RU, as it makes for a very solid suicide lead with Galvanize Explosion and could see usage on Trick Room teams, something that hasn’t been as prevalent recently in OU. I do however, believe that Golem could see frequent usage by both Electric and Rock in Monotype, as it gives both types something they sorely need. Rock needs a Steel counter and trapper, as ‘mons such as Scizor can still be a terror, and Electric needs a powerful physical attacker, which the type has lacked outside of Zekrom. Overall Galvanize is really what allows Golem a chance for increased usage, and given how long it has spent at the bottom, I hope it gets its chance to shine at a higher tier.
I was on the fence with Exeggutor, as there are some things to get excited about, and then some not so much. Alolan Exeggutor now becomes a Grass- and Dragon-type, ditching Psychic and its 4x weakness to Bug. However, it ends up with a different 4x weakness, this time to Ice, and decreases its resistances from 6 to 4. It does see offensive improvement though, as it maintains its old movepool, and gains additional coverage thanks to its new Dragon-type.
Exeggutor gets even more offensive love, as it loses 10 base Speed (from its already terrible 55) and gains 10 base Attack, bringing it up to base 105. Ability-wise, it didn’t really gain anything in Frisk, and came at the cost of Chlorophyll, an at minimum usable ability. With this, Alolan Exeggutor has only one usable ability in Harvest, which isn’t really something to complain about. I battled some with Exeggutor, and while it is capable of dishing a lot of damage out in a hurry, it is also capable of being KO’ed in a hurry. Something I didn’t try that could be a great set for it is a Trick Room set, as it takes advantage of its abysmal speed and allows it to roll through teams with faster Pokémon.
Ending last Gen in NU, Exeggutor’s future is looking up, but likely only up to RU, especially given that it would face competition from its (in my opinion) superior Grass-Dragon counterpart, Mega Sceptile, in higher tiers. I could see Exeggutor getting a fair amount of usage in Monotype, but more so on Grass teams, as it takes neutral damage from Fire, and doesn’t take up a mega slot like Sceptile. Dragon, on the other hand, probably won’t benefit as much, especially given the abundance of other Dragon Pokémon that are 4x weak to Ice. With Exeggutor being the last of those fortunate enough to be on the good side of the fence, it’s time to discuss those on the other side of the fence.
Giving new meaning to the term “fat cat,” Alolan Persian flips its type from Normal to Dark, which is rather fitting in some ways. Offensively, Dark is a pretty solid type, as there are very few types that resist it, but I’m unsure if Persian will be able to take advantage of it due its pitiful offenses. On the defensive side, Persian adds Fairy and Bug weaknesses to the Fighting weakness it maintains from Normal, but adds two resistances.
Alolan Persian does see a shift in its stats, as it loses 10 base Attack and gains 10 base Special Attack to compensate. Either way, Persian’s offense is relatively the same output-wise. It also gets two new abilities in Fur Coat and Rattled in exchange for Limber and Unnerve, while maintaining Technician. This means it has two solid abilities in Fur Coat and Technician, usable for defense and offense respectively. Persian in battle should probably not be used offensively however, but more as defensive pivot because of its great defensive ability in Fur Coat, as it halves the physical damage it takes, and take advantage of strong physical attackers with Foul Play.
Persian was firmly in PU last Generation, but I see it moving up to NU or possibly RU. Alolan Persian has solid abilities and a solid move pool, but lacks the offenses to be an offensive powerhouse. It shows potential as a defensive pivot, but it faces stiff competition from much more balanced and reliable defensive pivots in the higher tiers such as Rotom-W and Rotom-H, both of which sport better defensive typings and stats. In a Monotype context, Alolan Persian could see some use as a defensive Pokémon, but overall I do not think it will be of much help given that it doesn’t help Dark from a type standpoint, and Mandibuzz sports better overall defensive stats.
Alolan Dugtrio is the first ‘mon in this blog to have been dubbed on of ‘The Bad’ and it’s not too difficult to see why. Dugtrio is the only Pokémon in this entire blog that ended Generation 6 in OU, and it could only go down from there. While the Pokémon now has fabulous meme-worthy hair, it is about the only thing Alolan Dugtrio has that the original didn’t. Alolan Dugtrio does get a Steel-typing now, which is nice, but it didn’t do Dugtrio any favors defensively. Steel quadrupled Dugtrio’s resistances and added an immunity to Poison, but it also added a weakness, for total of 4, making it weak to Fire, Ground, Fighting, and Water, some of the most commonly seen attacking types. Unfortunately for Dugtrio, that isn’t even the worst of the changes it saw.
Alolan Dugtrio also saw a decrease in its speed, from base 120 to base 110, to increase its Defense from base 50 to base 60. Not only does the increase to its Defense do virtually nothing for it, it also costs Dugtrio its precious speed. Had Dugtrio maintained its speed, it probably would have been in the first section of this blog. The final problem that plagues Dugtrio is the change to its abilities. It maintains two of its original abilites, Sand Veil and Sand Force, but eliminated its most commonly seen and most useful ability in Arena Trap, for Tangled Hair. Tangled Hair is a rather niche ability, as it decreases the Speed of any Pokémon that makes physical contact with it. On a more physically bulky Pokémon, this could be a useful ability, but with Dugtrio only having 60 base Defense, it doesn’t have much use.
As previously mentioned, Dugtrio ended last gen in OU, but I do not believe this variant of it will stay there. Alolan Dugtrio will probably end up only dropping down to UU, as it still possesses solid offensive stats and typing, but not as good as the original. As far as Monotype goes, I do not think Alolan Dugtrio will see more usage than regular Dugtrio on Monotype Ground, but I could see a choice band variant of Alolan Dugtrio potentially competing with Excadrill on Monotype Steel. The fabulous hair only seems to hold it back unfortunately, and I will be sticking with the old Dugtrio.
There isn’t a really a whole lot of good that I can say about Raticate (or as I like to call it, “Faticate”), as it gains a Dark typing that it doesn’t really want, and ability and stat changes that it doesn’t really want as well. With the transition to a Normal-Dark-type, Raticate becomes 4x weak to Fighting, and weak to Fairy and Bug as well. These weaknesses make it rather similar to Tyranitar, but the similarities stop there. Dark does give it a nice STAB Sucker Punch, but it lacks the punch (pun intended) to make much use of it.
Stat-wise, I don’t much like what they did to Raticate; they geared more towards a bulky Pokémon, as they took away 20 base Attack and 20 base Speed, which was then allocated in the form of 20 base HP, 10 base Defense, and 10 base Special Defense. It also sees some ability changes, which as I mentioned earlier, does it no favors; it loses perhaps its best ability in Guts in addition to Run Away (which doesn’t matter all that much in a competitive sense), and gets Gluttony and Thick Fat. It maintains Hustle, which along with Thick Fat, are the only useful abilities.
Raticate was another ‘mon that was comfortably seated in PU, and quite frankly I believe it is going to stay there. Its pitiful defensive typing combined with its terrible offensive presence make it unusable in any tier other than PU, especially when considering its 4x weakness to Mach Punch. I do not see it getting any use on either type in a Monotype context, as it adds nothing to either type, and only adds to their weaknesses. Overall, I believe this is an Alolan form that never should have been conceived.
The Final Verdict
Overall, I thought there was a lot to like about the select few Pokémon that got an Alolan form; new type combinations, stat improvements, and new abilities helped some find new uses and potentially climb out of the depths of the Smogon usage ladders. However, there was some bad to complement those that gained; pitiful defensive typings, bad stat changes, and lost abilities set some ‘mons back in usage. I hope the brief summaries I have provided on each Alolan form in a competitive context will help you competitive battlers out there decide what Alolan form(s) to add to your team, and how to use them! Enjoy a new Generation of Pokémon and I hope to see you out there on the battlefield!