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Community POTW #148

Serebii

And, as if by magic, the webmaster appeared...
Staff member
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Time for the next Pokémon of the Week and today we had to Johto!

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It's Ho-Oh!

 

KyogreThunder

Call of Fate
Ho-Oh
Jolly nature
Ability: Regenerator
@Heavy-Duty Boots/Life Orb
EVs: 252 Attack/252 Speed/4 HP
-Sacred Fire/Flare Blitz
-Brave Bird
-Iron Head
-Roost
Ho-Oh
Modest nature
Ability: Regenerator
@Heavy-Duty Boots/Life Orb
EVs: 252 SpAtk/252 Speed/4 HP
-Flamethrower
-Thunderbolt/Thunder
-Earth Power
-Giga Drain/Shadow Ball/Air Slash
 

Yveltal91057

Hurry up Ichigo! Follow the damn Baxcalibur!
Mystical Phoenix of Rainbows and Fire

EV spread: 252 Speed/252 Special Attack/4 HP


Ability: Regenerator

Held Item: Focus Sash/Heavy Duty Boots


Primary moveset

Recover
Flare Blitz
Calm Mind
Earth Power

Other moveset options

Earthquake
Thunderbolt
Psychic
Shadow Ball
Solar Beam
Brave Bird
Iron Head
Roost
Ancient Power
Sunny Day
Bulldoze
Protect
Burn Up
Mystical Fire
Light Screen
Reflect
Flamethrower
Fire Blast
Substitute
Sleep Talk
Giga Drain
Safeguard
Double Team
Rest
Façade
Dragon Breath (Transfer only)
Nightmare (Transfer only)
 
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Sceptile Leaf Blade

Nighttime Guardian
Ho-Oh @ Heavy Duty Boots
Ability: Regenerator
Adamant nature
252 HP, 252 Attack, 4 Speed
- Sacred Fire
- Brave Bird
- Earthquake
- Recover

Fairly straightforward. Use Ho-Oh's special bulk to win through Recover and attacking against special attackers while Sacred Fire is scary for physical attackers, particularly Zacian and Groudon. Brave Bird is a powerful attack that also provides Max Airstream. The recoil damage, while not welcome for a Pokémon relying on its bulk, can be mitigated through Recover and Regenerator. Earthquake is a reliable move that covers Heatran and Reshiram, and can be used after Max Airstream to eliminate weakened Zekrom. Ho-Oh is effective against most special attackers lacking super effective hits, it can effectively wall Pokémon like Lunala, Reshiram, Dialga, Kyurem-White, Magearna, and Xerneas, with Geomancy-boosted Moonblast failing to 2KO. It can also work well against physical attackers as long as they don't have too much offensive might, such as Mimikyu, Marshadow lacking Rock Tomb, Solgaleo, Scizor, etc, and against some others like Zekrom or Landorus landing a burn with Sacred Fire when they switch in can cripple them.
 
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Divine Retribution

¡Zapatistas se levantar!
I've been using defensive Ho-Oh a bit recently and it's really impressed me a lot more than I initially thought it would. I've almost exclusively ran offensive variants of Ho-Oh since Gen 4, and Fire/Flying is traditionally seen as poor defensive typing, but Ho-Oh has a lot of things going for it that can let it act as a pretty fantastic wall that can deal with some of the most dangerous sweepers in the game.

ho-oh.gif

Ho-Oh @ Heavy-Duty Boots
Impish - Regenerator
248 HP / 208 Defense / 56 Sp. Def
-Sacred Fire
-Whirlwind
-Toxic
-Recover

Ho-Oh has the ability to check a ton of the most dangerous threats in inclusive formats, like Xerneas, Calyrex-S, Marshadow, Eternatus, and Necrozma-DM. This ability to blanket check a wide variety of sweepers combined with Regenerator lets Ho-Oh act as an amazing defensive pivot for many team archetypes. This is the particular set I use and it's pretty straight-forward, but there are other options to consider as well.

Sacred Fire is generally your best STAB; Brave Bird is a little stronger and has perfect accuracy, but chips into your HP, undermining your staying power against powerful offensive Pokemon, and lacks Sacred Fire's 50% Burn chance, which is incredibly useful for punishing switch-ins like Tyranitar, Zekrom, and Zygarde-C. Carrying both moves is an option, though.

Whirlwind is key to shutting down set-up sweepers like Xerneas, Bulk Up Marshadow, Cosmic Power or Meteor Beam Eternatus (once it's used its Power Herb), and Dragon Dance Zygarde-C. Unlike other phasers, Regenerator makes it very easy for Ho-Oh to pivot into these threats, phase them away, and maintain enough HP to do it again and again throughout the match without getting worn down.

Toxic is used to wear down bulkier switch-ins like Kyogre and Yveltal who aren't as crippled by a Sacred Fire burn. Thunder Wave is a more crippling to a few key threats, such as Eternatus, as well as preventing Ingrain or last-mon Xerneas from pulling off a sweep, which Whirlwind cannot do. Defog is another option that allows Ho-Oh to remove entry hazards. Personally I carry it on another Pokemon, so I don't usually feel the need to carry it on Ho-Oh, but it is absolutely an option if you're looking for a Defogger.

It seems to be pretty popular to forgo Recover in favor of one of these other moves in the current metagame. While I can see the reasoning behind this, it does force you to pivot with other Pokemon a bit more aggressively than you otherwise might, and Recover makes sure that Ho-Oh stays healthy even in the face of multiple set-up sweepers that it needs to check throughout a game, so I usually do carry it.

The given EV spread survives a +2 Thunder from Modest Xerneas, with the rest being dumped into Defense to bolster your ability to check physical threats like Marshadow and Zygarde-C. Moving 16 EVs from Defense to Speed allows you to outpace a paralyzed Calyrex-S, which can be useful if you run Thunder Wave.

Ho-Oh is a very easy Pokemon to fit on many team archetypes. Redundant checks to certain threats, especially Calyrex-S and Xerneas, are definitely immensely appreciated, as with a little bit of luck and/or some chip, these threats can overwhelm Ho-Oh, but that's basic team-building. Playing Ho-Oh optimally generally involves a lot of pivoting to scout for moves like Rock Tomb on Marshadow or Toxic on various defensive Pokemon like Necrozma, so other defensive pivots like Tangrowth, Toxapex, Blissey, and defensive Yveltal make for fantastic teammates. If you choose not to carry Defog on Ho-Oh, you'll probably want it somewhere else on your team; while Heavy-Duty Boots is fantastic for Ho-Oh, having them knocked off could be devastating without a way to remove hazards.​
 

Sceptile Leaf Blade

Nighttime Guardian
One suggestion, Ho-Oh doesn't need Whirlwind for Xerneas unless Xerneas carries Electric attacks, it easily takes +2 Moonblast and can take Xerneas down with Sacred Fire in between Recover, and Xerneas puts itself in a very vulnerable position if it tries to go for multiple Geomancy boosts. I'm not sure on how much damage Ho-Oh does without investment but even after 2 Geomancy boosts Xerneas shouldn't threaten an OHKO with Moonblast (I estimate it's about 55-60% damage at +4 for a build like yours) and there's no way Xerneas can pull off 3 Geomancy boosts against Ho-Oh.
 

Divine Retribution

¡Zapatistas se levantar!
One suggestion, Ho-Oh doesn't need Whirlwind for Xerneas unless Xerneas carries Electric attacks, it easily takes +2 Moonblast and can take Xerneas down with Sacred Fire in between Recover, and Xerneas puts itself in a very vulnerable position if it tries to go for multiple Geomancy boosts. I'm not sure on how much damage Ho-Oh does without investment but even after 2 Geomancy boosts Xerneas shouldn't threaten an OHKO with Moonblast (I estimate it's about 55-60% damage at +4 for a build like yours) and there's no way Xerneas can pull off 3 Geomancy boosts against Ho-Oh.

Dropping Whirlwind can definitely be a consideration if you have other ways of handling things like Thunder Xerneas and DD Zygarde-C, but Thunder Xerneas is by no means a rarity. July's Showdown usage stats, the most recent data I have easy access to, indicate that Showdown users carried Thunder on Xerneas 41.9% of the time and Thunderbolt 18.8% of the time. Given how redundant these moves are it's likely that they were almost never used on the same set, so it's fair to conclude that Xerneas will be carrying Electric coverage about ~60% of the time in the format I play in. That's not including other Pokemon Whirlwind can help you check, like Dragon Dance variants of Zygarde-C and Necrozma-DM.
 

Sceptile Leaf Blade

Nighttime Guardian
True, I'm mostly going on what I see personally on the USUM battle spot, and I don't see electric coverage on Xerneas much there. For Zygarde I usually have Greninja with Ice Beam and/or Sash Marshadow to steal it's DD boosts as Spectral Thief bypasses Substitute. I'd never want to face Zygarde directly with Ho-Oh, it can hit super effective with Thousand Arrows.
 

Divine Retribution

¡Zapatistas se levantar!
I'd never want to face Zygarde directly with Ho-Oh, it can hit super effective with Thousand Arrows.

The first hit of Thousand Arrows actually hits you neutrally due to the quirky way Thousand Arrows interacts with secondary typing; namely that it doesn't. If Thousand Arrows negates an immunity, it does neutral damage, regardless of whether or not the target's second type should change that. In other words, the first hit is going to hit you neutrally, during which you should be phasing it with Whirlwind. If it hits you with Thousand Arrows once to negate your immunity, the next hit is going to be super-effective and then you're in trouble if you don't switch out.
 

Mestorn

Wandering Battler
Ho-oh loves loves loves the generational shift to Gen 8. Heavy Duty Boots is an Arceus-send, removing Ho-oh's most crippling weakness and enabling it to pivot repeatedly thanks to its fantastic Special Bulk and Regenerator. And that isn't even the half of it! The removal of Primal Groudon and Kyogre is fantastic for Ho-oh, removing two incredibly common pivots into the amazing Sacred Fire alongside Mega Salamence... Ok Kyogre can still come in on Sacred Fire, but at least it is chipped now instead of taking no damage whatsoever.

All of these changes has enabled Ho-oh to flourish as a mage killer, thanks to its high Special Defense and Attack (most Pokémon with high Special Attack have higher Special Defense and visa versa), consistently walling and taking out threats such as Xerneas, Calyrex-Shadow Rider, and Dusk Mane Necrozma. And not even Physical threats are safe, as Sacred Fire's 50% burn chance makes any Physical Attacker not immune to Burns or a way to circumvent them (re: opposing Ho-oh, and Zygarde Complete) think twice. And what makes Ho-oh even more treacherous is its access to STAB Brave Bird, which invalidates most Fire resists such as Kyogre.

However, Ho-oh has a case of suffering from success. It and the similarly Rock weak Yveltal are so oppressive that several Pokémon will run Rock moves (Meteor Beam on Lunala, and Eternatus, Rock Tomb on Marshadow [30%], etc.) just to have coverage to take them out. The fact that Yveltal is such a dominant force due to the lack of other good Dark types also strains team building considering the shared weaknesses. And that is not even getting into other excellent Pokémon such as Kyogre that also Share Weaknesses with Ho-oh. Additionally, Ho-oh needs Heavy Duty Boots to function at its best as a tank. Any set not running the boots must have excellent Entry Hazard support or get eaten alive by the Sneaky Pebbles. Knock Off is also incredibly crippling on Ho-oh for similar reasons. And while most new Pokémon aren't that threatening to Ho-oh, or at least trade with it evenly, Eternatus solidly walls any set lacking Earthquake and Regieleki can easily assassinate even bulky Ho-oh's thanks to its insane Speed and Electric power.

252+ SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Thunderbolt vs. 248 HP / 52 SpD Ho-Oh: 351-413 (84.5 - 99.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

In Doubles, Ho-oh has many of the same problems. Ho-oh's many common weaknesses haunt it in VGC. Regieleki, Thundurus and Kyogre are everywhere, and Rock coverage is common, especially with the strength of Rock Slide, leaving Ho-oh's immense bulk less impressive than it normally is. Intimidate is rampant, leaving Ho-oh's impressive attack often slaughtered. Additionally, Ho-oh's best partner, Groudon, tends to prefer Charizard whose power is even more nuclear, not impacted by Intimidate and compliments Groudon's physical offense with Special, as opposed to more of the same from Ho-oh. Incineroar being the best pokémon in VGC does not help matters either, as the weakness stacking leaves teams with a lot of Kyogre problems. Coupling this with Ho-oh's less than impressive speed and it is easy to see why it isn't used.

However, Ho-oh's good points still shine. Ho-oh boasts one of the best Max Airstream's in the game, really only beaten out by Landorus Therian and Defiant boosted Thundurus, giving it potent Speed control. Sacred Fire is as always an amazing, invalidating popular Pokémon like Zacian Crowned, Magearna, Rillaboom, opposing Groudon, etc. The fact is heals on switching gives Ho-oh a frustrating degree of durability and prevents being forced to switch from being a total momentum sink.

Divine Flames
Ho-oh
Ability:
Regenerator
Item Attached: Weakness Policy
-Brave Bird
-Sacred Fire
-Earthquake
-Recover
Nature: Adamant
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Spe

Bulky Ho-oh set that aims to exploit Ho-oh's many weaknesses and suburb bulk to get a Weakness Policy boost, especially after Dynamaxing. STAB Max Airstream is a busted move and punches holes in many, many threats. Max Flare gives protection against Water attacks as well as making Thunder unreliable. And Max Quake covers Zekrom (who otherwise walls Ho-oh's STABs) while making it even more Specially bulky. Recover keeps Ho-oh around longer so it isn't forced to switch out after the boost, while being a great Max Guard option while Dynamaxed.
 
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