Decidueye, The Arrow Quill Pokémon. It fires arrow quills from its wings with such precision, they can pierce a pebble at distances over a hundred yards. Although basically cool and cautious, when it’s caught by surprise, it’s seized by panic.
Overgrow: When HP is below 1/3rd its maximum, power of Grass-type moves is increased by 50%. - Ah, Overgrow. Your standard, generic starter ability. When you’ve got a third of your HP or less, the power of your Grass type moves increases by 50%. It’s not easy getting to less than a third of your HP without getting KO’ed shortly thereafter, and even then, only your grass type moves get powered up. However, given Decidueye’s Hidden Ability is not yet released, it has no choice but to stick with Overgrow.
My Name Is Owliver Queen
Most people will want to use Decidueye in an offensive role. While it may lack the offensive stats and speed to pull this off in a top tier role, once the lower tiers form, it certainly can make it work. The first and perhaps most obvious way to do this is with some Choice Sets. Spirit Shackle is pretty much mandatory on every Decidueye set, as its trapping ability can put a stop to opponents predicting a switch and switching accordingly… not only that, but it’s also Decidueye’s strongest physical Ghost STAB, so it’s a win/win situation. U-Turn allows Decidueye to scout teams and keep some momentum, which helps on the expected switches that you can pivot out against. It also helps against things that may try to Pursuit Trap Decidueye. For the remaining two moves, Decidueye has a few choices available to it. Leaf Blade is an obvious STAB move, which can pressure the myriad of Water types that are omnipresent in the metagame. However, Low Sweep can hit steel types a bit harder, while also punishing most switch-ins by lowering their speed stat. Finally, Brave Bird packs an enormous amount of power and naturally good coverage, but the recoil damage can be a bit of a downer.
252 Attack and Speed EVs are obvious for an offensive role, while Jolly helps to maximize speed. The leftover 4 EVs are placed into its weaker defense stat. For the time being, its only ability is Overgrow, but upon the release of its HA, it will want to use Long Reach. Choice Scarf allows Decidueye to flip some speed tiers on their heads, allowing it to reach 393 speed, which outspeeds up to base 129… which no Pokemon actually has, so it outspeeds everything up through Meloetta-P at base 128. This also allows it to outspeed +1 non-speed natured base 80’s, such as Gyarados and Dragonite.
You Have My Bow
With Swords Dance in its arsenal, Decidueye does have the tools it needs to hit hard. Even Decidueye’s modest base 107 attack becomes a lot more threatening at +2. Spirit Shackle remains its best STAB, and the trapping effect can ease your prediction needed immensely. Sucker Punch, while ill-suited for the previous Choice sets, is right at home on this set, as it can help overcome Decidueye’s underwhelming speed by picking off faster threats that may try to revenge kill it. From there, the options open up once more. Leaf Blade will hit Water, Rock, and Ground types hard, while Low Sweep is good for Steel types and lowers speed. Brave Bird still has its high power and coverage, but Baton Pass is also an interesting option that allows it to escape from a bad situation, while also giving that nasty +2 to another ally.
Once again, for an offensive role, 252 Attack and Speed EVs are mandatory, while Jolly helps give a little more speed to tie with other base 70’s. Overgrow sadly remains your only choice until Long Reach’s eventual release. A Life Orb helps stretch Decidueye’s damage a little farther, although the recoil will shorten its lifespan.
From the Shadows
With its typing and special bulk, Decidueye does have the means to run a support set as well. Although its base speed may not be great for an offensive Pokemon, on a defensive set it is above average. Regardless, Decidueye’s ace in the hole is Defog, which lets it blow away entry hazards and screens… just watch out for blowing away your own as well. Roost allows Decidueye to keep itself healthy, which is important for it to be able to continue to blow away hazards. From there, Spirit Shackle remains Decidueye’s STAB of choice, preventing anything it hits from switching, which certainly eases the prediction needed. Finally, U-Turn allows Decidueye to pivot out against obvious switches (such as Defiant users), and maintain momentum for your team.
Unlike previous sets, this set opts for a specially defensive setup. 252 HP and Special Defense EVs, along with a careful nature, maximize Decidueye’s special bulk, which allows it to avoid a 2HKO from Starmie’s Life Orb Ice Beam, and avoid a 1HKO from Gengar's Life Orb Shadow Ball, among other things. Leftovers helps with passive recovery to keep Decidueye alive longer. As usual, you’re stuck with Overgrow until Long Reach is available, but when it is, you’ll want to use it.
Owl Be There For You
Finally, Decidueye has the means to utilize Baton Pass; its special bulk gives it opportunities to set up and pass. Substitute is arguably its most valuable asset, as it can catch more passive Pokemon off-guard if they try to utilize status, giving you the opportunity to set up a Substitute with impunity. Next, Baton Pass allows Decidueye to pass that Substitute to another Pokemon, which, even if broken on the pass, gives the Pokemon you’re passing to an almost free switch-in. Roost allows Decidueye to heal up, which helps recover the HP you have to spend while setting up a Substitute. Finally, Spirit Shackle should be pretty obvious at this point; not only is it a potent STAB attack, but its trapping effect gives it added utility as well.
Once again, a specially defensive nature and 252 HP and 252 Special Defense EVs play to Decidueye’s strength and allows it to be as specially bulky as possible, which is ideal for being able to set up Substitutes against specially offensive Pokemon. Leftovers remains the ideal item for this set, as the passive recovery helps offset Substitute HP-loss; four turns of Leftovers will recover the HP you spend on a Substitute. Finally, Overgrow is again mandatory until Long Reach is released, but once it is, it tends to be the better option.
-Shadow Ball, Energy Ball, and Hidden Power are Decidueye’s only viable special options. It can opt to run a mixed set, but fully special usually suffers due to being predictable, and lacking Spirit Shackle and U-Turn’s utility.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Welcome to VGC 2017! After 2016 was absolutely dominated by heavy hitters like Primal Groudon and Xerneas, the 2017 ruleset brings a breath of fresh air to competitive Pokemon fans. For anyone new to VGC, it is a doubles format in which you choose to bring 4 of your 6 Pokemon in the battle preview screen. The strategies can be quite different from single battles, but the combinations of Pokemon and moves due to having two of your Pokemon on the field allow for a lot of cool and creative battle strategies. Many Pokemon that are not typically thought of as "strong" in single battles actually thrive in doubles in support roles. The eligible Pokemon in this year's format are the Pokemon found in the Alola dex, minus some legendary or mythical Pokemon like Solgaleo, Lunaala, and Magearna. While mega stones are not allowed this year, Z-Crystals are, allowing for potentially even more Pokemon to become threats to dominate a battle.
As you can already see, we're starting our Generation 7 articles off with the grass starter, Decidueye. Despite having competition from other Grass/Ghost types in Trevenant and especially Dhelmise, Decidueye has a chance to carve out a solid role as the meta-game develops. Solid stats give it a chance to potentially fill a few different spots on a team, but its Attack and Special Attack, while respectable, leave it weaker than many other stronger attackers. It also has solid natural bulk on the special side, but its low defense and middling speed make things tougher for the ghostly owl. With its signature move (and Z-Move) and some cool tricks, Decidueye hopes to make a name for itself in early VGC tournaments.
So far in the early season, Decidueye hasn't quite kept up with some other heavy hitters in terms of power, but it has a nice niche as a support Pokemon with offensive presence. 252 HP EVs and 164 in Defense give Decidueye solid all around bulk. 92 Attack EVs with an Adamant nature allow the owl to 2HKO both Tapu Koko and bulky Tapu Fini with Leaf Blade, as well as OHKO non-bulky Tapu Lele with Spirit Shackle. Overgrow is the only available ability currently, but Long Reach will likely be the preferred ability later due to avoiding damage or effects from making contact with the opposing Pokemon. Sitrus Berry gives immediate recovery when Decidueye is low on health, and it helps turn nearly every common attack from the Tapus into a 3HKO except Pyschic from Tapu Lele in Psychic Terrain.
Leaf Blade is Decidueye's strongest STAB grass move and also has a higher chance to crit, which is a nice bonus with so much Intimidate in the format. Spirit Shackle is Decidueye's signature move, and its strongest ghost STAB move. The added bonus of trapping a target in battle can help set up Decidueye's support moves of Feather Dance or Light Screen. A physically attacking opponent hit by one or more Feather Dances can quickly become dead weight on the field if it is trapped. Similarly, Light Screen can lesson the strength of special moves against Decidueye and its partner. Finally, Protect is arguably the best move in doubles, allowing Decidueye to safely stall out turns of speed control or absorb double targets while its partner takes out a threat.
This set seeks to maximize Decidueye's highest base stat, its attack. Max Attack EVs are definitely needed, and max Speed helps it attack before getting hit in return. A Jolly nature can be used to outspeed as many things as possible, but if there is speed control on the team like Tailwind, an Adamant nature can be used and you may consider investing some speed in bulk if the extra speed is not needed. For example, only 84 EVs are needed for an Adamant Decidueye with Tailwind support to outspeed Tapu Koko (one of the fastest and most common Pokemon in VGC 2017 so far). Life Orb maximizes Decidueye's damage output, but Decidium Z can allow for a one time nuke using Sinister Arrow Raid. Again, Overgrow is the only available ability currently.
Once again, Leaf Blade and Spirit Shackle are Decidueye's strongest physical STAB moves, and Spirit Shackle is necessary to use Sinister Arrow Raid. Sucker Punch helps make up for Decidueye's mediocre speed by giving it priority, though it does have similar coverage to its ghost STAB. Protect is definitely necessary to help keep Decidueye safe from damage while its partner sets up Tailwind for it or takes out a threat.
Other Options & Team Ideas
-Focus Sash can guarantee that Decidueye lives any one hit, and can work with either set. In the support set, it can guarantee you get to use a support move or trap something. In the offensive set, it allows Decidueye to get off at least one strong attack and then follow-up with Sucker Punch.
-Speed control is very important for Decidueye to succeed, especially the offensive set. Tailwind may be the best way, but Thunder Wave (despite its less than perfect accuracy now) and even Trick Room, if you play it right, can help Decidueye outspeed threatening opponents.
With Decidueye’s modest offenses, it’s not too hard to work around, even with the limited Alola Pokedex until Pokemon Bank updates. Skarmory stands tall as a stellar answer; with its insane physical bulk, even a Choice Banded Adamant Shackle Shot only has a 1.4% chance to 3HKO, while Skarmory can 1HKO half the time with an uninvested Brave Bird. Any attempts to set up Substitutes or Boost can also be phased out with Whirlwind. Alola Muk resists both of Decidueye’s STAB attacks, and can 1HKO with Knock Off… although it does have to be wary as a boosted or Choice Banded Brave Bird can 2HKO it. Defensive Arcanine fears little, as Intimidate turns even a Choice Banded Spirit Shackle into a 4HKO, while it can soundly 1HKO with Flare Blitz. Offensive sets check Decidueye pretty easily as well, as Arcanine naturally outspeeds it. Unsurprisingly, Decidueye’s fire type counterpart, Incineroar, can check Decidueye pretty well. It resists both STAB attacks and can 1HKO with Flare Blitz or Darkest Lariat, but like Muk a Choice Banded or Boosted Brave Bird can 2HKO, but even then, it can still act as a check. Mandibuzz fears next to nothing from Decidueye, as it resists both STABs and its bulk means that even Choice Banded Brave Birds only 4HKO. It can utilize Foul Play to 1HKO Offensive Sets, and can still 2HKO defensive sets. Like Skarmory, it also has access to Whirlwind to phase out any Decidueye who might think they can set up. Umbreon’s has similar bulk, although its typing causes it to take Leaf Blades a little worse, being a 3HKO. However, it still 1HKOs Offensive sets with Foul Play, or 2HKOs defensive sets. Turtonator’s physical bulk allows it to only be 3HKO’ed by Choice Band Shackle Shot even without defensive investment, while it can 1HKO Offensive Sets or 2HKO Defensive Sets with Fire Blast. Drampa with Sap Sipper is immune to both of Decidueye’s STAB attacks, and can likewise 1HKO or 2HKO with Fire Blast, depending on the set. Low Sweep can be problematic for Drampa, as it can 2HKO on an offensive set. Granbull’s access to Intimidate means that its defensive sets are only 5HKO’ed at best, while being able to 2HKO with Play Rough. Alolan Sandslash can 1HKO with Icicle Crash, and is only 3HKO’ed at best by Spirit Shackle, but Low Sweep can soundly nearly 1HKO it so it has to be wary. There are many Pokemon who don’t like switching in, but have no problem outspeeding and KOing Dedicueye once they’re in. Things like Sharpedo, Weavile, Krookodile, Crobat, and more can utterly destroy Dedicueye, but the right move on the switch can spell doom for them. Decidueye will almost never survive a physical super-effective STAB, so hitting it on the physical side is always advisable. Fast users of Will-o-Wisp, such as Gengar and Mismagius, can try to burn it quickly to reduce its effectiveness, since a burn really hurts its damage output; however, Substitute sets can avoid this against slower users. Likewise, Toxic can hurt defensive sets by wearing it down, but this too can be avoided by Substitute. Defensive sets don’t particularly appreciate Taunt or Encore, which will usually force them to switch out. Ultimately, Dedicueye’s meager offensive presence makes it relatively easy to counter, so it’s not too difficult to switch into or force out.
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