Ground is the type that literally shakes the earth, full of many Pokémon that are both tanks and heavy hitters. It’s a type I know well, being a ground type gym leader for a little over 2 years now, and using several different ground types in both the Smogon tiers and as a VGC player who started back in the days of Heart Gold and Soul Silver. I’ve faced a lot of different types of teams, including those with some of the biggest threats to Ground types, especially the fast ice types like Weavile and Frosslass, to the hard-hitting water types like Gyarados and Mega Swampert. With help from two of my favorite Pokémon, Donphan and Landorus-Therian, I have found ways around these weaknesses to leave my opponents quaking in their boots.
Ground has been around since the beginning of Pokémon, leaving a big impression as the type of choice for eighth gym leader and one of the most iconic evil team bosses, Giovanni. It also boasts a lot of hard hitters, as well as bulky mons, but is sadly restricted by slow speeds and the tendency of mons to have low special defense stats. However, there are ways around these weaknesses, as well as certain moves that allow them to put more damage on the field even before attacks have been launched. Working around these weaknesses and balancing the team allows for Ground types to become bulky powerhouses.
By the Numbers
# of Pokémon with this type: 75
# of Fully Evolved Pokémon: 33
# of Mega Evolutions: 4
2x Super Effective against: Electric, Poison, Fire, Rock, Steel
Effective against: Normal, Fighting, Fairy, Dark, Water, Ice, Psychic, Dragon, Ghost
2x resisted by: Grass, Bug
Ineffective against: Flying
2x weak against: Water, Grass, Ice
Damaged normally by: Psychic, Dragon, Ghost, Dark, Steel, Fighting, Normal, Bug, Fairy, Fire
2x resistant to: Poison, Rock
Immune to: Electric
Notable Competitive Pokémon
- Landorus Therian
- Mega Garchomp
Physical: Earthquake, Drill Run, Bonemerang
Special: Earth Power, Mud Bomb
Ground in OU
In OU, ground offers a lot of strong and diverse mons, the first being Landorus Therian form.
With his intimidate ability, strong move pool and diverse sets that exist for him, he is a Mon often seen on teams. He can be used in many different positions, from a bulkier stealth rock setter, to a speedy heavy hitter. His base attack of 145 and speed of 91 make him a good option for either choice scarf or choice band, and allow for leeway for a bulkier set build since his stats are well enough to not directly need an item to boost. His intimidate ability helps him on both sides, as he can be used as a constant switch in with choice scarf U-turn in order to bring down damage from physical attackers and bring down the attack to further keep damage down on him, allowing for stealth rock set up or boost his own attack or speed with swords dance or rock polish. His main weakness is the amount of water type Pokémon available and the amount of mons with the option of ice type moves which even with bulk investment often times are one hit knockouts or two hit knockouts. This can be played around a bit with the assault vest for the attacking Landorus or Yache berry for the set up Landorus. Overall, Landorus is a great Mon with a lot of versatility and power.
Next up is the number one dragon himself. Garchomp, who like Landorus is a speedy, heavy hitting mon. With a base speed of 102 and an attack of 130, he’s tends to out speed a lot of mons in his tier and others, with a higher possibility for one hit knockouts. Choice scarf chomp is one of the most played sets, as Garchomp tends to not need boosts to get guaranteed knockouts, especially with its access to stab earthquake and outrage. He does have the option for setup if necessary, with access to swords dance and a couple other moves that can allow him to take knockouts against a lot of different types, with moves like fire fang and poison jab. Garchomp also has access to stealth rocks, which gives another option as both a heavy hitter and a Mon that can allow you to set up entry hazards. Its abilities also help it greatly, with rough skin allowing for extra damage on mons or in some cases the damage needed to knockout a Mon that has been hit by Garchomp. It pairs well with rocky helmet, allowing for even more damage without having to attack. Sand veil is its other ability, and while rarely used it can offer some coverage, especially when on a team with a Mon who has sand stream such Tyranitar or Hippowdon.
Next up, we have the ace of the Quaking master himself, the ground steel type Excadrill. While Excadrills defensive stats are poor, its speed, attack and abilities more than make up for the deficit. With a base attack of 135, it is a heavy hitter with access to a lot of stab physical moves, such as earthquake and iron head. It is slightly on the slower side with a base speed of 88, but when placed with a team that can set up sandstorm, his sand rush ability activates allowing to gain more speed and give a boost to his special defense. Outside of a sandstorm team, he also has access to mold breaker, which keeps abilities that could stop an attack from stopping the attack. This allows him to hit more mons with stab earthquakes, knocking out some mons that can give it trouble getting a knockout, such as Rotom-Wash or Eelektross. With the sand rush set, it’s most common to either give it life orb to ensure knockouts or air balloon to keep other ground types or mons with ground type moves from knocking it out. With mold breaker, there is the option of the attacker or a bulkier set, as Excadrill has access to both stealth rocks and rapid spin, giving another option for a fast spinner who can also set up rocks on the opponent’s field.
Zygarde’s 50% form is finally seeing some use in OU. Although its shiny new ability, Power Construct, was banned to ubers very early in the SM metagame, people have come to recognize the potent weapons that are Thousand Arrows and Thousand Waves. Thousand Arrows allows Zygarde to hit any opponent, even Flying types and Levitators, and knock them to the ground; Thousand Waves prevents them from fleeing. These moves on the Choice Band set let it take out common Pokemon like Rotom, Skarmory, Celesteela, and Charizard Y.
Ah Dugtrio. This controversial little bugger was recently near-banned from OU, but fell short of Smogon’s 60% threshold. Dugtrio’s Arena Trap is an invaluable resource for stall teams, letting it trap and remove threats that could otherwise break through stall teams’ bulky cores. Earthquake spam is a little less useful now with Tapu Bulu running around, but the attack buff from 80 –> 100 base attack has helped Dugtrio become an OU all star. Too bad Alolan Dugtrio doesn’t get the same said about him.
Mamoswine rounds out the true OU ground types. This generation, Mamoswine finds itself in a similar role to the one Weavile filled in XY/ORAS. Since this metagame is more offensive, Mamoswine’s greater power and bulk and better offensive typing make it more useful than Weavile. Mamoswine is an important check to Landorus, who is rampant.
Can’t mention ground types without speaking of one of the most well-known stall walls. Gliscor is another Pokémon often seen in OU, whose bulk and ability to stall is well known. With his access to the ability poison heal, the recovery move roost and the ability to poison others with toxic, Gliscor can be on the field for quite a while. His stats are pretty well spread with a base 125 defense, 95 attack and 95 speed, allowing him to take a lot of physical hits, out speed most other stall walls and even deal consistent damage for knockouts. One of main ways he is played is the straight staller, using poison heal and roost to recover recycle and knock off and earthquake to put in more chip damage to knock out a poisoned Pokémon quicker. The other option he has is as a stall breaker, as he also has access to swords dance, which coupled with the toxic healing and roost can allow him to sit on the field and knock out mons at a quicker pace. He also has access to façade, which allows him to have a boosted attack with it due to poison, coupled with the recovery.
Types in Mono
Ground can struggle some in Mono, due to the many water and ice types mons, as well as grass types than can deal a lot of damage. Ground does have a lot of great attackers and mons with options for bulk, including the newly added Mudsdale, whose stamina ability can help his bulk while he keeps his attack up. There are ways to combat the different weaknesses, using specific mons for the types, such as Gastrodon and Quaqsire to cover water and ice and Mamoswine for grass types.
One of the best options to combat water and ice types is Gastrodon who’s bulkier in special defense with a base of 82, and access to the ability storm drain, allowing you to eat up water moves without taking damage and also boosting up Gastrodon’s special attack. He also has access to a lot of different types of special moves, such as his stab earth power, scald, ice beam, sludge bomb and mirror coat. There is also options for bulking up and recovery, as Gastrodon has access to acid armor, amnesia, rest and recover. He also has a plethora of weather setting options, having access to hail, sandstorm and rain dance. He does have the quad weakness to grass, which is something you have to either play around or if they are slow enough, try to knock out with boosted ice beam or sludge bomb.
Mamoswine is one of the few options ground has to straight combat ice types, as its dual typing as ground ice allows for stab ice moves and more possible knockouts with a base attack of 130. It is slower, with a base speed of only 80, but there are the options of choice scarf and focus sash which can allow it to either live a hit or out speed its opponent. It also has access to thick fat as an ability, which allows him to reduce damage he takes from ice and fire type attacks. He also has access to powerful stab moves, like earthquake and icicle crash, allowing for massive damage and possible flinches from icicle crash. He also has the option of stab priority in ice shard, which can allow him to take out a Mon that’s still slightly alive or one that survived his attack due to a focus sash. He also has access to entry hazards, specifically stealth rock, and that coupled with his typing can allow for more damage on harder to hit flying types. He also has the ability to ensure rocks in some cases, as his other ability oblivious prevents him from being infatuated, taunted or captivated.
In Other Metas
Ground has some options in Ubers, specifically Groudon, Primal Groudon and Landorus Incarnate form.
Both Groudon and Primal Groudon are rather versatile, allowing for automatic weather setup, drought allowing sun on the field and Primal Groudons desolate land which stops water types while he is on the field. They both are good at hazard set up, as well as status, with one the high ranking sets including both stealth rock and thunder wave. While they are decent enough to start out stat wise, they also have the option of increasing attack or speed with the options of swords dance and rock polish. They also have a lot of powerful stab moves, such as precipice blades, earthquake for both ad then sun boosted and stab eruption, flamethrower and lave plume for Primal Groudon.
Landorus Incarnate is about the same, with the set up option of rock polish and the option of being either physical or special, with a base attack of 125 and special attack of 115. He also has the ability sheer force, which while it removes secondary effects of attacks, increases the attack power by 30%, allowing him to hit even harder.
Zygarde-Complete holds a dominant position in the Ubers metagame right now. Once Zygarde-50% gets below half HP, it regenerates into the uber tanky complete form. Zygarde-Complete uses Power Construct to do everything Zygarde-50% can do in ubers and does it better. The fact that it can still hold an item makes it all the more attractive.
UU has the offer of one of the best spinners and entry hazard setup for the ground typing, Donphan. He has access to stealth rocks and rapid spin, allowing for setup and removal, as well as a high attack and defense, with both having bases of 120. He also has great move options in earthquake, knock off and ice shard, allowing him to deal more damage to mons that may switch in or other spinners and setters. He also has the option of forced switching with roar, allowing him to set up rocks and then force a random switch to begin to put damage on different mons. He also has the ability sturdy which allows him to live moves that would normally OHKO, allowing for almost guaranteed rock set up and after he faints, a safer switch in.
Also in UU, is the option of Nideoqueen and Nidoking, whose unique typing in ground and poison can allow for some extra knockouts and some stab poison moves. They can also be played either physically or specially, with a lot of options for different moves on the special side, including moves like sludge wave, earth power and ice beam. They do have a bad stat spread, which keeps them in UU, but they do also have some entry hazards options that appealing. They both have access to stealth rocks and toxic spikes, allowing not only for extra damage, but the chance to put a poison status on a mon without attacking, something very few ground types offer.
Zygarde-10% (AKA “Zydoge”) also graces the UU metagame with frequent use. Like Zygarde-50%, it mostly spams Thousand Arrows, but does so with just a little less overall power. In exchange for lower power and bulk, Zygarde-10% is faster than other Zygarde forms.
Finally in UU, we have one of my favorite mons in Gen 5, Krookodile. He’s another hard hitting Mon, with dual ground and dark typing allowing for a little more type coverage and with the ability intimidate for that nice decreased attack on the opponents side. It also has moxie as another ability, allowing for the option of a continual sweep Mon, as his attack is decently high with a base of 117. He also has access to some hard hitting moves, with earthquake, knock off, stone edge and superpower. He also has a nice stab priority attack in pursuit, which can be nice in trying to knock out your opponent before they can switch out into something else.
Tips and Tricks
OU core sets
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Stone Edge
– Knock Off
Gliscor @ Toxic Orb
Ability: Poison Heal
EVs: 244 HP / 8 Def / 200 SpD / 56 Spe
– Knock Off
This is kind of a jerk core to play, but it centers on Landorus decreasing the opponents attack and then either using the choice scarf to jump out immediately with U-turn into Gliscor or another mon to start the damage, or it can sit out for a bit and deal its own damage or remove items with knock off and then allow Gliscor to come in and either start the stall process, take a knockout or poison a mon.
Hippowdon @ Eject Button
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 Def
– Stealth Rock
– Slack Off
Excadrill @ Life Orb
Ability: Sand Rush
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Iron Head
– Rock Slide
This is one of my favorite cores, as Hippowdon isn’t looked at too often outside of mono as a sandstorm setter, due to Tyranitar being able to put out more damage. The Hippowdon can take hits better with the special defense raise from sandstorm and its high defense, and with the eject button it can allow for an easier switch in too Excadrill, allowing for him to get out and under sand rush as soon as possible.
How about them Rocks?
Donphan @ Iapapa Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 Def
– Rapid Spin
– Stealth Rock
Krookodile @ Life Orb/Choice Scarf
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Knock Off
– Stone Edge
This is just my favorite basic, let me set up rocks, do a little damage to your incoming mons and then get a quick sweep. Donphan sets up rocks, spins away the opponent’s hazards and forces switches to spread the damage around for a bit and allow for some easier knockouts for Krookodile so he can get set up with some Moxie boosts.
Ground is a hard-hitting type, with a variety of mons that can be used to support each other and reduce some of its weaknesses. While they are spread throughout the tiers, there are a few which sit in the highest ranking of the higher tiers, showing off their competitive viability. The main struggle can be the lacking speed or special defense, but there are ways to increase both stats as well as a handful which have a much higher base speed that can cover for the slower ones. While they lack in the number of stab moves compared to other types, the moves it does have are of a high base power and with no chance to miss unless there’s evasion boosts or accuracy drops. Ground will continue to be around, and after the mons that held well after the changes of Sun and Moon, they will continue to stick around in the top tiers.