Darkrai, The Pitch-Black Pokémon. It can lull people to sleep and make them dream. It is active during nights of the new moon. Folklore has it that on moonless nights, this Pokémon will make people see horrific nightmares.
Darkrai, one of the many new legends of the fourth generation (and also one of several that's difficult to obtain). Despite having Base Stats equal to the likes of Salamence and Tyranitar, who are accepted in the Standard competitive environment, Darkrai has been boosted to the status of an Uber (alongside Dialga, Mewtwo and co.). The primary reason for being moved to the Uber environment is Dark Void, a 90% accurate sleep-inducing move. This combined with Darkrai's incredible Speed stat would be highly imbalanced in the standard environment, and even in the Uber environment it's difficult to deal with.
Darkrai isn't a one-trick pony though. Although Dark Void is pretty much a necessity on Darkrai, it has an impressive Base 135 Special Attack stat and boasts a versatile Special move-pool (which can be boosted further by Calm Mind). It possesses several disruptive moves, including additional status attacks, Taunt and Haze. Its physical attack isn't as impressive but it possesses Swords Dance and usable physical move-pool.
Defensively, Darkrai is tolerable. When placed against its fellow Ubers, it won't shine, but Base 90 in each Defence is satisfactory and Base 70 HP is acceptable. It can take a hit but it won't be walling opponents.
Generally, the main threat from Darkrai will be the effect of Dark Void. Having a Pokémon put to sleep is always troublesome, and Darkrai can potential gain a free opportunity to set-up from the sleeping Pokémon. Its offensive stats may seem average when compared against its fellow Ubers, but Base 125 Speed is difficult to outrun and Base 135 Special Attack can hurt. The fact that its STAB is super-effective against a large number of Ubers is an additional bonus to its sweeping capabilities.
Bad Dreams: teams nicely with Dark Void. It deals 1/8th damage to any sleeping Pokémon that Darkrai is facing. Although the damage is minor, it negates the effects of Leftovers and it can be troublesome for defensive Pokémon, particularly Pokémon who rely on the rest-Sleep Talk combination.
- Dark Pulse
Dark Void is Darkrai's primary move. It's 90% accurate and backed by a Base 125 Speed stat, making it difficult for an opponent to avoid being put to sleep.
Since it's standard practice to switch after being put to sleep (for obvious reasons), a Calm Mind can be set-up with relative ease. Future Calm Minds will depend on the situation, but Darkrai has respectable Special Defence and against some of the weaker Special Attackers, several Calm Minds can be used.
Dark Pulse is Darkrai's best STAB move. Backed by Calm Mind or simply off of Darkrai's initial Special Attack, it does plenty of damage. The necessity of this move is further increased by the fact that the majority of Ubers are weak to Dark Attacks (7 out of 14*).
*Counting Deoxys only once and discounting Arceus and Wobbuffet entirely.
The final move is supportive, but both moves primarily block status attacks. Substitute can be used to scout for Choice attacks and blocks critical hits. Taunt can prevent Sleep Talk attempts and stops an opponent from using Recovery moves (as well as Heal Bell or Aromatherapy). Neither is a necessity and can be dropped in favour of an additional Special Attack to aid sweeping.
EVs and Nature:
The straightforward 252/252 spread is employed, and is generally effective enough. Speed gains the most priority, since it's one of Darkrai's greatest assets. Max Speed is nice, if only to tie or out-speed any opposing Darkrai, but it can be lowered slightly. A 374 Speed stat (216 EVs assuming max IVs) is enough to outrun the fastest Arceus whilst a 360 Speed stat (168 EVs assuming max IVs) is enough to outrun the fastest Modest Mewtwo.
Some focus can be given to Darkrai's Special Defence and/or HP, mostly to increase the chance that Darkrai will set off several Calm Minds successfully, but it isn't a priority. Most Uber Pokémon have high offensive stats, making Calm Mind difficult to use as a defensive strategy regardless of EV involvement.
- Dark Pulse
Darkrai does the job of a straight-forward sweeper pretty efficiently. Once again, Dark Void is pretty much the main reason to use Darkrai. Use it to eliminate a troublesome opponent who could stop your sweeping attempt or use it on the Pokémon most likely to cause your team troubles.
Once again, Dark Pulse is a necessity for its STAB and coverage.
Spacial Rend and Ice Beam do essentially the same job, eliminating Dragon Pokémon, but they handle some slightly different opponents. Palkia is weak to Spacial Rend whilst Groudon is weak to Ice Beam (and Rayquaza is weaker to Ice Beam than Spacial Rend). Spacial Rend also has a high critical hit ratio, which is more likely to be seen than Ice Beam's freeze chance. Generally, pick the one that's most preferable to your team.
Thunder hurts Kyogre as well as Ho-oh. The paralysis chance is also helpful. Focus Blast takes a large chunk out of Blissey and Dialga, although it suffers from unreliable accuracy. Focus Punch does a similar job to Focus Blast (eliminating Blissey and Dialga) but benefits from reliable accuracy. In exchange, it works off of Darkrai's weaker stat and will fail if Darkrai is hit.
Life Orb and Expert Belt are both viable options. Life Orb gives a straight-forward boost at the cost of HP whilst Expert Belt boosts super-effective attacks without costing HP.
EVs and Nature:
The straightforward 252/252 is the most reliable spread once again. Speed can be tweaked slightly to save some EVs. Even when Focus Punch is being used, Attack EVs aren't necessary (since its power is satisfactory with the item boost), but a Hasty (-Def/+Spd) or Naďve (-SDef/+Spd) nature would be preferable.
- Dark Void
Darkrai doesn't excel at physical sweeping. Even with its physical attack being respectable, by Uber standards its pretty forgettable, and it lacks hard hitting physical attacks to back it up (in particular, it lacks a solid physical STAB move). Still, Swords Dance makes it loosely viable, although it certainly lingers in the realm of novelty.
Dark Void is all pretty obvious. As the opponent is forced to switch (or stubbornly stays in sleeping), Swords Dance can be thrown up, giving Darkrai a sweeping opportunity. Saved for the late game, a Swords Dance boosted Darkrai has sweeping potential.
Pursuit is unfortunately as good as it gets for Darkrai's physical STAB moves. Shadow Claw shares essentially the same type coverage with more power (even after STAB) and an added critical hit chance. Pursuit does have the ability to hit switching opponents however, which is noteworthy (since, after a Swords Dance, certain Pokémon may attempt to flee when they realise that Darkrai is using physical attacks).
Fighting attacks have good type coverage with Dark (or Ghost) attacks, making them favourable. Hitting Blissey and Dialga for super-effective damage is also helpful. Brick Break has decent power and can break Reflects or Light Screens whilst Drain Punch has slightly less power but recovers HP.
EVs and Nature:
Simple enough, just like the other sets but with a focus on Attack instead of Special Attack.
Will-o-Wisp, Thunder Wave, Toxic, Thunderbolt, Psychic, Haze, Psych Up, Choice Specs, Choice Scarf.
Will-o-Wisp, Thunder Wave and Toxic provide other status options to use alongside Sleep. The strategy can be potentially crippling for an opponent. Once they lose one Pokémon to the Sleep status, they're likely to switch, at which point another Pokémon can caught with a status as it switches in. Just make sure you can handle Aromatherapy or Heal Bell (Taunt is handy) and Darkrai is set to go.
Thunderbolt can replace Thunder as a special attacking option. Thunder relies on Rain Dance being active (usually through Kyogre), so Thunderbolt proves to be more reliable although less powerful.
Psychic hits Fighting types, who can give Darkrai some problems. The main reason not to use it is because the majority of Ubers resist Psychic attacks, making it somewhat of a waste of a move-slot. Especially since there aren't any Fighting typed Ubers (barring Arceus) and few Fighting types that can viably compete in the Uber environment.
Haze provides some team support. Its fast enough to Haze the majority of opponents before taking a hit but a lack of defensive stats make Darkrai a fairly weak choice for the Hazer role.
Psych Up can copy status attacks but there are few opportunities for Darkrai to take advantage of the move, and the few that exist are highly situational. Once again, Darkrai isn't well suited to the role because of its mediocre defensive stats.
Choice items don't gel well with Dark Void. Whilst Darkrai can function without Dark Void, there's little reason to use it if you aren't using Dark Void. Choice Specs can give Darkrai a nice offensive boost whilst Choice Scarf can get a surprise jump on the few faster Pokémon (Mewtwo and Deoxys in particular).
The main problem when dealing with Darkrai is Dark Void. Several Pokémon can counter it with relative ease but most of them don't want to be put to sleep. Even Sleep Talking opponents have problems because of Bad Dreams chipping away at their HP.
Sleep Talking Dialga is the most reliable counter, as well as Sleep Taking Arceus with a plate that gives it an appropriate resistance. Bad Dreams will chip away at their HP, but they resist Dark Pulse and have reliable defensive stats. Watch out for a super-effective attack (such as Focus Blast) however, since that will take a large chunk of HP away from them. Sleep Talk is also unreliable when it comes to picking attacks, so the Pokémon could sit there for several turns selecting useless moves. Sleep Talk is also exposed to Taunt.
Aside from that, the best way to deal with it is to 'sacrifice' a Pokémon to absorb Dark Void, activating the sleep clause. Once that's done with, switch it out and deal with Darkrai, awakening the sacrifice at a later stage. Other possible ways to deal with Dark Void include Lum (or Chesto) Berry on a faster Pokémon (who can follow it with Taunt or Substitute) and using a Pokémon that's already been statused, although neither method is entirely reliable.
With Dark Void out of the way, Darkrai becomes much more manageable. By normal standards, Darkrai's defensive stats are respectable, but by Uber standards, Darkrai is mediocre and can be beaten down quickly. Arceus with a Fighting or Bug type is the best choice for its super-effective STAB attacks. Dialga also does nicely since it resists Dark Pulse and has strong offences. Ho-oh and Kyogre both have a strong Special Defence and a lot of offensive power, but both need to be cautious of a potential Thunder. Blissey doesn't fare too well against Calm Mind variants (and detests Taunt) but it can set-up Light Screen and generally absorbs Darkrai's Special attacks with ease.
Groudon and Rayquaza lack noteworthy Special Defences but have plenty of offensive power and aren't weak to Dark Pulse. Rayquaza in particular has Extreme Speed, allowing it to hit Darkrai before it can hit back. Mewtwo and Deoxys (Attack) both want to avoid Dark Pulse, but both are faster and have access to super-effective attacks.
Sleep Talk Heracross equipped with a Choice Scarf will counter Darkrai well (and absorb Dark Void for its team and receive a Guts boost in the process), but its defences are lacking, so switching into the wrong attack could lead to its demise. The fact that it's only loosely viable in the Uber environment doesn't help its case. Primeape has Vital Spirit, giving it a Sleep immunity, but it's even less viable in the Uber environment than Heracross.
Darkrai hates to be paralysed, since its Speed is one of its most important assets. It also lacks a recovery move, so repeated beatings are effective and passive damage will hurt it.
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