Welcome to Pokemon of the Week! This week we'll be focusing on one of my personal favorite Pokemon to use in competitive battling. This week, we discuss Xatu.
Before generation 5, I could could on one hand the number of people that used, cared about, or remembered that Xatu exists. I think it's time for a brief history lesson.
See, back in the days of generation 1, Psychic type Pokemon were absurdly overpowered, and with only Psychic types resisting Psychic, and only Bug type attacks being Super Effective against them (Ghost attacks didn't even effect Psychic types in gen 1), things had to change. Generation 2 brought about Dark and Steel types to balance things out, but they also did something a little underhanded, and made nearly every new Psychic type in the generation purposely awful. Girafarig, Unown, Wobbuffet (it had no Shadow Tag back then and basically sat and did nothing while your opponent continually switches between Pokemon, stalling it out of PP, or using Toxic on it before it could Safeguard, killing any chance it had at being useful), and yes, Xatu. This was intentional, to balance the type out a bit, but these Pokemon suffered in silence as they were purposely put to shame. While Unown is doomed forever, and Girafarig still sucks, Xatu has been staring into the future for 11 long years... the time has come.
Dream World has blessed Xatu with arguably the best defensive ability in the game, Magic Bounce. This gives it the ability to bounce back entry hazards, status attacks, Leech Seed, and almost anything that isn't a direct attack. Combined with it's typing, it's a nearly perfect counter to Ferrothorn.
Not all is well for Xatu, however. Psychic/Flying typing leaves it very vulnerable to Tyranitar, and it has pretty low defenses overall. It also faces fierce competition with Espeon in OU, which has access to Baton Pass to escape the Pursuit of Tyranitar. If used to it's strengths and played smartly, however, Xatu is a wonderful teammate and a Pokemon that can cause severe fatigue to an opponent.
Calm nature (+Sp. Defense, -Attack) / Careful nature (+Sp. Defense, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 HP / 240 Sp. Defense / 16 Speed
Thunder Wave / Toxic
Psychic / Night Shade
Xatu can run an incredibly useful support set in UU with Magic Bounce to boot. Thunder Wave or Toxic is a decision that comes down to what your team prefers; Thunder Wave will cripple most sweepers, while Toxic breaks down opposing walls, ridding them of their ability to wall at all. Roost is for healing, and if you move before your opponent, you rid yourself of your Flying type for the turn, cutting down on the number of weaknesses you have. U-Turn is wonderful for scouting whether or not the opponent will switch out, and will keep momentum on your side.
Psychic is the STAB move of choice, hitting many foes for at least decent damage, with a 10% chance to lower the opponent's Sp. Defense to hit even harder. However, Night Shade is an option for hitting almost any foe for a solid 100 damage, and really helps wear down Steel types that would otherwise wall this set.
Bold nature (+Defense, -Attack)
EVs: 248 HP / 200 Defense / 60 Speed
Heat Wave / Night Shade
Bad puns aside, Xatu is capable of being a support Pokemon in OU, though it has a harder time. Toxic wears down many Pokemon in OU, and is Xatu's best offensive presence in the tier. Roost is for healing. U-Turn is great for scouting, especially if the opponent has Tyranitar, as that's a common switch-in to Xatu. It keeps momentum your side and allows Xatu to get out of sticky situations. Heat Wave is good for removing the opponent's Ferrothorn, while Night Shade is good for hitting nearly everything for a solid 100 damage.
Xatu has to be played especially carefully in this tier, as the low defenses will allow it to be KO'd very easily.
|Xatu@ Light Clay|
Bold nature (+Defense, -Attack)
EVs: 248 HP / 200 Defense / 60 Speed
If you battle me in any OU team, this is likely one of the Pokemon and sets I'm using. Reflect and Light Screen allow Xatu to take hits better, even surviving a Pursuit from Tyranitar while switching out after Reflect has been setup. Roost keeps Xatu alive, and Night Shade deals solid damage. This set is a wonderful counter to Ferrothorn, most Breloom (unless they carry Stone Edge, in which case it can go either way, depending on their full set and spread), and a variety of defensive Pokemon that don't have the means to KO Xatu. Dual Screens allows the rest of your team to survive hits that it wouldn't otherwise be able to, which is a wonderful boon to setup sweepers.
There are other options to use, but they're generally inferior. U-Turn allows Xatu to get out while doing damage, but it's much better to have a reliable attack. Heat Wave can KO Ferrothorn, but mono-Fire coverage is even worse, and Ferrothorn can't do anything back to this Xatu if you use Reflect, as Gyro Ball will fail to deal enough damage.
Special attackers, especially Electric types, are of the most concern to this set, as they can Volt Switch to hit Xatu very hard and escape to another Pokemon to maintain momentum, even if you switch out. Xatu needs a team that can support it just as much as it supports them, but if done correctly, it will be an irreplaceable staple of your team.
Xatu is decent in-game, but not as useful. If you do want to use it, you're still going to want Magic Bounce, but it's less necessary than in-game. Natu can be found on Route 5 in Black2 and White2 when they're swarming, but a better and easier option is to get one from the Windswept Sky or Pleasant Forest in the Dream World, which grants it the most useful of it's abilities. Here's what I'd recommend you use in-game:
Shadow Ball / Signal Beam
Heat Wave / Grass Knot / Wish
Xatu is significantly less useful in-game, where it's mostly taking turns slugging it out, but it can still be a valuable team member. Psychic is the STAB of choice, dealing good damage to most Pokemon. Roost keeps Xatu alive. Shadow Ball allows you to hit opposing Psychic types, but if you're willing to spend points on tutoring, Signal Beam hits Psychic types and well as Dark types. Heat Wave is a move tutor, but alows you to hit Steel type Pokemon, which you'd otherwise be unable to do. Grass Knot is an option for more coverage, while Wish is useful to heal teammates. Xatu's movepool is a bit barren, so it's not the most wonderful choice in-game where being defensive is more or less... useless. However, if you want to use a dual-screen set listed in the competitive section, that aids your teammates too, so that's an option, I suppose.
I'll be honest - before generation 5, I didn't care about Xatu at all. It was another useless Pokemon in a sea of them. I always thought it had an interesting design, but not enough to use it in any team. But with the gift it has received from Dream World, and my typically defensive style of competitive play, Xatu has become one of my favorite Pokemon to use competitively. I quite like Xatu, and I'm really happy that it has finally been given a chance to shine. It's not perfect, but it has a chance to be a wonderful supporter in a way that no other Pokemon can, and that's a wonderful quality in a Pokemon.
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