Water is one of the most basic elements in any RPG. In Pokemon they bring some of the strongest and most useful attacks. It is easily the most common type of Pokemon and seems likely to keep that spot (unless we get a 100% desert based Pokemon game). I will be going over some general information about Water types in different tiers and the effect of Sun and Moon on the type.
As one of the starter types, Water has been around from the very beginning. The Water type is also the most abundant type by 25 Pokemon over Normal type. The type’s variety allows it to occupy a variety of roles in battle. It boasts good defensive Pokemon as well as offensive powerhouses that can dominate a battle. Rain is also one of the best weathers and allows the weather setters to be usable as support for Fire weak pokemon. This makes Water an decent choice for making your team’s core.
By the Numbers
# of Pokemon with this type: 141
# of Fully Evolved Pokemon: 70
# of Mega Evolutions: 5(6 with Ash-Greninja as a special form)
2x super effective against: Fire, Ground and Rock
Effective against: Normal, Fighting, Poison, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Ghost, Electric, Ice, Steel Dark and Fairy
2x resisted by: Water, Grass and Dragon
Ineffective against: Nothing
2x weak against: Electric and Grass
Damaged normally by: Normal, Fighting, Poison, Ground, Flying, Psychic, Bug, Rock, Ghost, Dragon, Dark and Fairy
2x resistant to: Fire, Water, Ice and Steel
Immune to: Nothing
- Mega Gyarados
- Tapu Fini
- Wash Rotom
- Ash Greninja
- Mega Slowbro
- Mega Blastoise
- Mega Sharpedo
- Aqua Jet
- Steam Eruption
- Hydro Pump
- Water Shuriken
- Origin Pulse
- Water Spout
- Aqua Ring
- Hydro Vortex
Analysis: How to Use Water
In OU many water types held extremely important spots. Keldeo, Wash Rotom, Azumarill, and Manaphy occupied four of the top twenty spots in OU at the close of the ORAS metagame. Manaphy was so defining that it received the coveted S-Rank in Smogon’s viability rankings for its ability to shape the structure of entire playstyles (Bulky Offense and Balance, respectively). The Sun and Moon meta has yet to be ironed out, so many of the major staples of the previous generation’s OU have fallen down to UU. Some of these may rise back up in the rankings when the meta evens out but currently Keldeo, Azumarill, M-Slowbro, and Starmie have all fallen below the OU usage requirement.
This shift in the meta has cause many Water types that you wouldn’t have ever thought would rise to OU. Perhaps the biggest rags-to-riches story is Pelipper, who has skyrocketed from PU to one of the best Pokemon in OU. This is because Pelipper got the ability Drizzle, which summons rain when the Pokemon enters the field, meaning Water finally has another weather setter other than Politoed and Kyogre. The new ability along with an +10 increase of special attack (85 to 95) has allowed Pelipper to rise to top 40 in Pokebank OU usage. Pelipper also benefits from base 100 defense and a naturally good defensive typing.
With the addition of Pelipper as a rain setter, this makes running rain in OU a bit easier. Pelipper is nice compared to Politoed because of its access to U-Turn. This means you can set the rain and get out of the field without having to switch directly. A choice scarfed Pelipper can even speed tie with a fully invested, speed boosting natured, base 105 speed mon with its speed maxed out.
This has led to an increase in use of Kingdra for its Swift Swim ability. Kingdra often runs either Choice Specs or Life Orb in order to dole out massive amounts of damage in a short period of time. For instance, a Specs and Rain boosted Hydro Pump 3HKO’s Tapu Fini… think about that. It also makes excellent synergy with fire weak mons like Ferrothorn, Scizor, Celesteela, Tornadus, Thundurus, Tapu Bulu, Tapu Koko, and Magearna. Many of these mons also cover Water’s weaknesses, giving them great synergy with Pokemon like Kingdra and Kabutops, which are rain team staples. Rain is a versatile playstyle that has only become even better this generation.
Mantine also received two buffs: the first was a modest buff to its base HP (65 to 85), but the second–the addition of Roost to its movepool–gave Mantine reliable recovery that greatly assisted its viability.
Toxapex is unequivocally the most important new water type added this generation. Simply put, this thing is cancer on the metagame due to its ability to fit well on almost any stall or balanced team. Its typing gives it key resistances to important mons like Pheromosa, Buzzwole, and Alolan Marowak. 50/152/142 bulk is incredible; most Toxapex run physically defensive spreads to better physically wall some of the aforementioned mons. Toxapex also has an incredible support movepool: Scald, Toxic, Toxic Spikes, Recover, and Haze provide it with all it could possibly hope for. And oh, by the way, it has Regenerator, which is the icing on the cake. Toxapex is sure to be a metagame defining Pokemon, especially in tandem with other stall staples like Kantoan Dugtrio and Mega Sableye.
After dropping from Ubers at the beginning of the Sun and Moon meta, Greninja has become an important piece for Water in OU. Its Hidden Ability, Protean, means that it changes your typing to match that of the move you are using. This not only means that you will always get STAB but it also allows you to take advantage of the defensive nature of those types. Shadow Sneak can even be used to avoid an otherwise super effective fighting attack like Mach Punch, and if you thought Fairies were a one-stop, guess again because this thing can also learn Gunk Shot. All of the above and more were among the reasons Greninja was banned early in ORAS. For now, it seems to belong in OU just fine, but as other, more powerful mons receive the ban hammer, this could change. Greninja also received a new ability Battle Bond from the Demo version of SM. This ability allows you to change into Ash-Greninja when you KO an opposing mon. Ash-Greninja has its attack and special attack increased by 50 and speed increase by 10 effectively being a conditional mega that can hold an item. Water Shuriken also receives a 5 bp increase and will always hit 3-5 times instead of 2-5. With two unique abilities that allow Greninja to run many different sets, it is easily the most versatile and unpredictable Pokemon in OU at the moment.
At first many considered Tapu Fini to be the worst Tapu. Misty Terrain does not provide a buff to Fairy type moves like the other three terrains, and its nerfing of Dragon type moves is hardly relevant when all of the Tapus are immune anyway. This however proved to not be true once the meta began to settle. One of the most used Tapu, Fini has excellent defense to go with the great Fairy/Water typing. It also gets access to many great support moves such as Nature’s Madness, Taunt, Defog and Haze. Being able to set up Misty Terrain with its ability Misty Surge also prevents any mon touching the ground from being statused and halves the power of any Dragon-typed moves. Unfortunately this does apply to the opponent as well. This means that Scald will only be able to burn mons with the ability Levitate or that are flying type. Relatively poor offensive stats do mean that you aren’t going to be able to pick up that many KOs. Setting up with Calm Mind or carrying a Z-Crystal can be used to add some extra power to your Fini.
For the most part, OU Pokemon like Mega Gyarados, Manaphy, and Wash Rotom function the same way they did in previous generations. Mega Gyarados remains the premier physically offensive water type Pokemon, while Wash Rotom is popular for its singular weakness and the immense utility it brings. Manaphy, likewise, can fit onto almost any team due to its standard Base 100 stats in each category; a Tail-Glow sweeper is perhaps the most dangerous of these and the reason it rose to S-ranking in Generation VI.
Also of note are the usage drops for a number of once important OU Pokemon. Quagsire, for instance, is not even registering as UU for the time being, while Azumarill, Keldeo, and Starmie–three of the most popular OU Pokemon last generation–now occupy places in UU. While it is possible that Azumarill and Keldeo may see increases in usage over time (or, in Keldeo’s case, likely a ban to BL), Starmie has simply been power crept out of relevance, especially with the addition of new pursuit trappers like Alolan Muk and more effective ways of removing hazards.
Unfortunately for Water, many of the better walls do have easily exploitable weaknesses. Either 4x weakness by being paired with ground or being weak to common attacking types. This means you have to be pretty good on the defensive to use the better walls. Offensively you have are a bit limited on good physical attackers that fall into OU. The only mons in OU currently that can run a physical set are Mega Gyarados, Greninja and Kingdra. Both Greninja and Kingdra are usually run as special attackers so this pretty much means one physical attacker in OU for Water. This doesn’t mean lower tier mons can’t get use but it does mean they aren’t getting the usage.
In Monotype Water is a middle of the ground typing because of its variety. Unlike in OU, the mons that shiny are much more varied.
Gastrodon, Lanturn, and Quagsire are more important because of their immunity to electric attacks. This also means that mons that are hit neutrally by grass or Azumarill with sap sipper can be important as well.
Empoleon is a great mon because of its Steel secondary typing in addition to its access to utility from Stealth Rock and Defog. Defiant and well-rounded stats with a great typing make Empoleon quite versatile as both a defensive and offensive mon, both physically and specially.
Weather is still extremely important and let you sweep with Swift Swim mons and increased damage. Controlling the weather is also important because other types also like to use weather to their advantage and taking that away can make many teams easier to take down. Sun and Moon also added several helpful mons that can add some more possible strategies to emerge.
Generation VII has added a few interesting mons to the mix for Water Monotype. It makes an addition playstyle possible thanks to the addition of many slow mons. Almost all of the new mons fall under 45 speed. This means you can set up with Trick Room with some pretty heavy hitting slow mons in the back. Golisopod is very slow and has First Impression which is a 90 base power Bug move that has Priority +2. A new fully evolved Bug/Water type allows Water to have a bit better time verse the monstrous Psychic type and is a hard hitting mon otherwise. Another mon that benefits from Trick Room is Wishiwashi who boasts an insane 45-140-130-140-145-30 but the low HP and Speed mean that you really need Trick Room to get any mileage out of it. Toxapex is a new addition that has seen quite a bit of usage because of its crazy 152-142 defenses and Regenerator ability.
The main threat to Water types in Monotype is that many of their best mon have similar weakness and quad weaknesses are common. Freeze Dry means that some mons that would usually be fine against Ice types are demolished by them. Alolan Ninetales in particular is a jerk to rain teams because of its ability to OHKO Kingdra, Pelipper, and Ludicolo. A lot of Water Pokemon get Ice attacks but Mega Venusaur remains a big problem for them due to Thick Fat.
In Ubers, water pretty much boils down to Primal-Kyogre and Arceus-Water. Palkia sees some use but the other two are much more common. Toxapex has some use in Ubers because of how good of a wall it is.
Tips and Tricks
As an Elite Four member of Pokemon Reddit League I have mainly used my type for my challengers. This meant I was using a monotype team vs OU teams which is quite a bit different than either of the separate metas. As an E4 member I was able to use a Water Uber and that was usually a Scarfed Kyogre. This allowed me to set lasting rain instead of Primal weather and unleash full powered Water Spouts on many mons. My Mega was usually Swampert but I also used Mega Slowbro every once in a while. I unfortunately never able to get any use out of Volcanion once it was released but it would help immensely with things like Scizor and Ferrothorn. In spite of its fallen usage, Starmie remains a reliable fast psychic type. I usually ran expert belt or life orb but I did run Choice Scarf once because I knew that my opponent was probably going to use Scarfed Garchomp. Other than that I used Rotom-Wash, Azumarill, Quagsire, Keldeo, Gyarados and Sharpedo in whatever combination seems best.
Usually my team was Kyogre, Mega Swampert, Gyarados, Rotom-Wash, Slowbro and Empoleon. I used Scarfed Kyogre which with Water Spout can pretty much do massive damage to anything that isn’t a special wall. Mega Swampert was a standard set. My Gyarados was usually all evs in special defense and HP with sub dragon dance. That provided the bulk to set up on many more mons and was a common way I would take out mons late game. Rotom-Wash was physically defensive and standard. Slowbro had Calm Mind, Flamethrower, Scald and Psyshock on most occasions. Empoleon was Assualt Vest or Air Balloon depending if I wanted to set up Stealth Rocks or not.
Water is an extremely varied typing allowing it to be good in pretty much all tiers. There are always a few that make it to the upper levels of any tier. The main thing they struggle with is that they are limited to 80 and 85 Base Powered moves for physical attacking for many mons and the two moves with higher base power have 90 accuracy and are fairly limited in distribution. Water will most likely continue to be the most abundant type since there is almost always several water areas in Pokemon games.