Staraptor, The Predator Pokémon. It has a savage nature. It will courageously challenge foes that are much larger. The muscles in its wings and legs are strong. It can easily fly while gripping a small Pokémon.
It's a recurring theme of the Pokémon games to have a small bird available early on, who'll eventually grow to become a decent Pokémon. Pidgey to Pidgeot, Spearow to Fearow, Hoothoot to Noctowl, Taillow to Swellow and now Starly to Staraptor.
Staraptor is a fast but fragile Normal-Flying type, with a decent Attack stat and a poor Special Attack stat. As such, it's made in a similar mould to Fearow, Dodrio, Swellow and to a lesser extent, Pidgeot. Staraptor has one move at its disposal that sets it head and shoulders above its brethren however, and that's Close Combat. Most Normal-Flying types are completely walled by Rock and Steel types, but where they fail, Staraptor succeeds.
Despite being the best of its mould, Staraptor doesn't have the raw stats to break into the Standard environment, lingering in the no man's land of the Borderline tier. Base 120 Attack and base 100 Speed is a solid combination, and definitely too much for the Underused environment, but it gets crowded out by the hard hitters and strong defenders of the Overused tier.
Intimidate: drops the opposition's Attack stat by one stage (barring extenuating circumstances, such as an active Substitute or Clear Body). Staraptor is rather lacking from a defensive perspective. It doesn't pack too many resistances (although it benefits from two immunities), and it lacks raw defensive stats, but Intimidate will soften physical blows on the occasions that it has to take them.
- Brave Bird
With good Attack, good Speed, strong STAB moves and decent type coverage, Staraptor practically comes pre-packaged with a Choice Band attached. Intimidate and two immunities won't make up for Staraptor's poor defensive stats, but they'll be important aids when switching.
Brave Bird is Staraptor's top Flying move. Base power 120, STAB, and reliable accuracy to boot. It's only fair that it comes with a downside. This downside is a 33% recoil, so Staraptor will want to use this move sparingly if possible, otherwise the recoil will begin to catch up with it.
Staraptor will also want a Normal move. Return is usually preferable here, since it saves you running two recoil moves. It comes with a respectable 102 base power (assuming maximum happiness) and gets a further boost from STAB. The alternative is Double-Edge, which is more powerful, but as noted, it comes with recoil (33% again).
Close Combat catches super-effective hits on Rock and Steel types, filling in some important coverage that its STAB moves lack. Close Combat does lower both of Staraptor's defences by one stage, further exposing its already low defences. Low PP can also be a bit of a problem in prolonged battles, especially against Pressure Pokémon (such as Zapdos).
The final move-slot is something of a filler, supporting the three core moves.
Staraptor can chase down runners with Pursuit. The usual Pursuit targets are fragile Psychics and Ghosts, but Staraptor shouldn't cause the likes of Gengar and Azelf to run unless they're paralysed or locked into an unfavourable choice move. It still has some use however, chasing down weakened Pokémon who are certain to run.
Quick Attack picks up STAB, and gives Staraptor the opportunity to finish off faster opponents, who may think they can face it confidently. Assuming an Adamant nature, a Band-boosted Quick Attack will do 50-60% damage to the standard Weavile, 57-67% damage to the standard Jolteon, 46-54% damage to the standard Infernape and 47-56% damage to the standard Azelf. It can also finish off Sub-Salac users, as well as the occasional Reversal or Flail user.
U-Turn does some respectable damage and allows Staraptor to switch. This is mostly a scouting move, used to check if the opponent intends to switch or not (and if they do switch, it allows Staraptor the chance to switch to an appropriate counter).
EVs and Nature:
If you're going with an Adamant nature, then the straightforward 252/252 sweeper spread is what you'll be using. Staraptor is in the 100 Base Speed group, sharing company with Salamence, Celebi, Zapdos, Jirachi and Tentacruel (among others who linger in the Borderline or Underused tiers). This means that it'll at least want max to tie with them, should the situation arise.
The main alternative EV spread uses a Jolly nature. 304 Speed (164 EVs) allows Staraptor to outrun its aforementioned company, as well as Garchomp, provided they aren't using a Speed-boosting nature of their own. 319 Speed (216 EVs) allows it to outrun Electivire, Yanmega and Lucario when they are running Speed-boosting natures, as well as unlikely Infernape variants who lack a Speed-boosting natures. If you do shoot for 319 Speed, you may as well tag on an extra 4 Speed EVs for 320 Speed, giving some extra insurance against (unlikely) Gengar variants who lack a Speed-boosting nature (who max out at 319). Any excess EVs can be dumped into Staraptor's HP, or it can simply go with max again to match any of its aforementioned company who also run Speed-boosting natures.
With all of that in mind, the main alternate EV spreads are:
EVs: 92 HP / 252 Atk / 164 Spd
EVs: 36 HP / 252 Atk / 220 Spd
Life Orb, Choice Scarf, Feather Dance, Roost, Endeavour.
Pretty much every Staraptor variant runs around with the Choice Band move-set, and the only common deviations are the same move-sets, just with an item change. Life Orb gives Staraptor the freedom to switch between its moves, but Staraptor dislikes the 10% recoil. It's already exposed to Sandstorm/Hail damage, Stealth Rock and recoil, so the additional 10% will speed up its almost inevitable demise. It can also run a Choice Scarf, losing a power boost but gaining a one-up on the majority of its opposition. If you do choose to run a Choice Scarf, 270 Speed (136 EVs) and 285 Speed (196 EVs) are the main targets, to get the advantage against Scarfed Heracross and Medicham variants.
Staraptor has Feather Dance and Roost for some defensively-minded possibilities, but between its poor raw defensive stats and the hard-hitting nature of the Overused environment, Staraptor is very ineffective in a defensive role.
As noted, Staraptor takes a lot of residual damage, as well as recoil from one (or two) of its STAB moves. Endeavour can capitalise when it's low on HP, especially against healthy opponents who don't fear its damage output.
Staraptor is a fairly predictable Pokémon. It really has only one move-set available to it, and you'll be hard fought to find one that lacks Brave Bird, Return (or Double-Edge) and Close Combat. Choice Band is its usual item, but it should be noticeable if it's equipped with anything else (such as Life Orb, where the recoil will give it away).
Skarmory, Bronzong, Metagross and Jirachi are the safest bets. They carry resistances to Staraptor's STAB moves and their dual-types spare them a Close Combat weakness. Rhyperior isn't as preferable as the aforementioned four, since it does have a Close Combat weakness, but Solid Rock and inherently high HP and Defence help to limit Rhyperior's Close Combat fear.
Since Staraptor is almost certainly equipped with a Choice item, Dusknoir, Spiritomb and Gengar can work, since they are immune to Return (or Double-Edge) and Close Combat. Just watch out for boosted Brave Birds, which threaten 2KOs on Dusknoir, possible 1KOs on Spiritomb and is a certain 1KO on Gengar. All of the other Ghosts apply, but those three are the most frequently used.
Zapdos resists Brave Bird and Close Combat, and with a defensive EV spread it presents quite an adequate counter. Just be aware of Return and Double-Edge, which threaten 2KOs on even the most defensive Zapdos variants.
Residual damage is one of Staraptor's biggest problems. It picks up 25% damage from Stealth Rock and is exposed to both Sandstorm and Hail. In addition, Brave Bird (and possibly Double-Edge) recoil will start to eat away at its HP. Low defensive stats expose Staraptor to easy KOs, but in addition, Close Combat will lower Staraptor's defensive stats, making KOs even easier to come by.
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