Grass-types don’t have the best reputation, and for good reason. Grass has the most weaknesses out of any type, totaling up to a whopping five (Fire, Flying, Poison, Bug, and Ice). It doesn’t help that Grass-type moves are typically geared towards support. Put that together with the fact that Grass-types have similar movepools and the typing almost seems to set itself up for failure.
However all is not lost! Grass is the only type to resist both Ground and Water, putting Grass Pokémon in a unique position in competitive play. A well played Grass-type can serve as a counter to both sand and rain, freeing up a team spot compared to the many teams that carry separate counters for each weather. But with so many Grass-types out there it can be very difficult to find the right one for the job, so let’s review a few of the better ones!
Whether Ludicolo actually wears a sombrero or just has an extravagant lilypad on its head we may never know, but what we do know is that Ludicolo is one of the most used Grass-types in the metagame. Its Water secondary typing offsets Grass’ two main weaknesses of Fire and Ice, while also allowing it to dip into the Water movepool. The addition of Surf, Ice Beam, and Hydro Pump allow Ludicolo to become an offensive presence.
Offensive Ludicolo is a standard Pokémon found in rain due to Ludicolo’s Swift Swim ability. It’ll typically be running max special attack and often also a power boosting item such as Absorb Bulb or Life Orb. After the boosts and rain, its Hydro Pump becomes disgustingly powerful, even able to OHKO very bulky Pokémon like max HP Zapdos. This version of Ludicolo is quite good in the current metagame since it can take on the sand teams that have become so prevalent. Ludicolo also serves as a check to other rain due to its Grass moves. The Grass typing also allows it to counter Gastrodon, one of the best answers (potentially) to rain. This version of Ludicolo often carries Fake Out since, with Swift Swim and Speed investment, Ludicolo can outspeed any other Fake Out user in rain.
Defensive Ludicolo is less common than offensive Ludicolo, but arguably more dangerous. This version isn’t found exclusively on rain teams; in fact it is probably found more on goodstuff teams in an attempt to counter rain. Instead of Swift Swim this version likes to run Rain Dish. Rain Dish gives Ludicolo very nice recovery each turn, especially combined with Sitrus Berry or Leftovers. On top of Rain Dish, Ludicolo gets Leech Seed, which is arguably one of the best Grass moves in the game. Leech Seed is the key to defensive Ludicolo working; it allows Ludicolo to outlast several Pokémon, including the bulkiest of Cresselia. However, it doesn’t just stick around because of its recovery. It has a surprising amount of bulk to anyone used to the offensive version; I remember a time where it got a lot of play because it was one of the few Pokémon that could reliably bait, survive, and recover off the damage from a Latios Dragon Gem Draco Meteor. In addition to Leech Seed, this Ludicolo version also uses Scald to get burns for passive damage and pseudo-buffing its defense. Scald burns really help it dealing with sand due to the physical nature of most of those Pokémon, but can also help it in a mirror against another Ludicolo.
Support Ludicolo is easily the least common version of Ludicolo, but my favorite. This Ludicolo is really a wild card capable of ruining your day. One such wild card support Ludicolo was found on Toler Webb’s (Dim) World Championships winning team. We had been talking and I had mentioned how good I thought Sunny Day was going to be at Worlds. Later he came back with Sunny Day Ludicolo, which was absolutely brilliant. Ludicolo would have next to no problems operating in rain and could easily throw up a fast Sunny Day to completely wreck an opponent running rain. Obviously, the results speak for themself. A support Ludicolo set I never quite got working, but never actually gave up on was Sweet Scent Ludicolo. Rain buffs three low accuracy moves: Hydro Pump, Thunder, and Hurricane (Hydro Pump getting a power boost; Thunder and Hurricane becoming unmissable). The main reason the moves aren’t used more is because of how easy it is to take down rain. With Sweet Scent, the moves could be used without fear of missing due to lost weather. The idea is simple, use Ludicolo to get a fast Sweet Scent off, then hammer away with high power low accuracy moves. Though I doubt we’ll see any Sweet Scent Ludicolos winning competitions anytime soon, I encourage everyone to try it out!
Abomasnow is one of those Pokémon that I really want to be good, but just never works properly for me. Abomasnow should be great. He should be able to come in, take down an opposing weather, resist sand’s Ground-type moves and rain’s Water-type moves, and hit a majority of Pokémon found in sand/rain super effectively. I've never been able to get him to work that way, though. I always seem to underachieve with him, either not having enough power or not having enough speed. The fact that Metagross is very likely the most used Pokémon further limits Abomasnow's usefulness. There have been a few successful teams this year which used Abomasnow in Trick Room to compensate for the lack of speed, but really I’m only mentioning Abomasnow due to Ice being a great offensive type and its ability to bring infinite hail.
Virizion was my favorite Grass-type I used this year. It is extremely versatile, as it can be either special or physical and operate under any weather condition. Virizion also has a vast support movepool containing everything from Taunt to Reflect, allowing it to provide some support while being an offensive presence.
To me, Virizion’s biggest selling point is its ability to beat weather. It can outspeed and hit every weather inducer; it has Grass STAB for Politoed and Hippodown, Fighting STAB for Abomasnow and Tyranitar, and the ever inaccurate Stone Edge for Ninetales. It can also run Hidden Power Ice, allowing it to take on sand even more reliably alongside some of its counters. In addition to stopping weathers, Taunt and Safeguard help protect against Trick Room and Swagger respectively. Usually when a Pokémon tries to check so many strategies it gets spread too thin. Luckily for Virizion, it has just enough raw stats to support this. For instance, the Virizion I used at Nationals was designed to be 3HKO’d by max Attack Excadrill’s X-Scissor, Garchomp’s Dragon Claw, Life Orb Ludicolo’s Ice Beam, and more while still outspeeding neutral base 80s and scoring a 2HKO back most of the time.
Anyone who’s ever played VGC ‘11 knows this Pokémon way better than they should. Considered one of the most dangerous threats in VGC ‘11, Amoonguss saw a large drop in usage once other Pokémon were introduced. Despite the drop, he remains one of the most threatening Grass-types; so much so to the extent that just by being on your team Amoonguss can convince your opponent to make poor choices.
Amoonguss trades his Ground resistance for a Fighting resist with a Poison secondary typing. This is both a blessing and a curse since it means Amoonguss won’t be as effective against sand teams, but can take on Hitmontop all day long. He’s also an oddity in that he inherently counters Trick Room. I don’t think it matters what kind of Amoonguss you are running, if your opponent is running Trick Room they’ll be very reluctant to set it up with an opposing Amoonguss around. However, this creates a situation where reverse speed creeping happens. Amoonguss can often be seen at lvl49 in order to out-slow other Amoonguss in Trick Room.
As far as sets go, the RestoChesto variant is probably the best Amoonguss in our current metagame. It can pull in a few hits from the opponent using Rage Powder and then recover off the damage. It always makes me smile seeing someone rage when they were about to kill off Amoonguss and Rests. Because it has a Chesto Berry, it can take on other Amoonguss in Trick Room without worrying about Speed ties (unless the other Amoonguss is RestoChesto as well). It doesn’t work solely in Trick Room, which is something I always look for.
First off, let me say this: I do not approve of Ferrothorn. I think it is a subpar Pokémon that excels in bashing noobs. It is complete dead weight against anyone who is prepared to handle it. That being said, I feel Ferrothorn must be included due to Luke Swenson’s (theamericandram38) success with it.
Ferrothorn is one of the greatest answers to rain, thanks to its high Special Defense. Of course, it also suffers from the same fate as Amoonguss in that it loses its Ground resist thanks to its dual typing. One-on-one, Ferrothorn can take down nearly anything that doesn’t hit it super effectively by using Leech Seed and Iron Barbs. An effective team for Ferrothorn must focus on taking out the things that beat it early, so you can come in later and wall. Luke’s teams did this perfectly.
Continuing with Pokémon I don’t particularly like we have Whimsicott. Generally I think Whimsicott just sits on the field, either being annoying or doing nothing. Occasionally though, Whimsicott does have a niche where it is the proper Pokémon to use. That’s the key to using Whimsicott effectively: it has to be used very specifically. The team I won Athens Regionals with would be an example. Whimsicott wasn’t just filler, rather it had a well defined niche; I won two games due to it.
It’s pretty easy to see that Whimsicott’s strength lies in its Prankster ability. Nearly every Pokémon who has Prankster sees some use. It’s just that good. To set it apart from the competition Whimsicott has some tricks that are unique to it. The first trick is priority Encore. Locking your opponent into a move really eases prediction, especially if the move was Fake Out, Protect, or Trick Room. However, Encore’s real strength lies in an often overlooked mechanic: in a double battle, if the Encored Pokémon is locked into a single targeting move, the target will be chosen at random. Another trick Whimsicott gets is priority Light Screen/Reflect. Screens are rather underused in VGC, which surprises me. You sacrifice one moveslot to make your entire team ⅓ more bulky. That extra ⅓ turns OHKOs into 2HKOs, 2HKOs into 3HKOs, etc. Especially in a metagame like North America’s where there is a large focus on surviving specific hits, I cannot see why people don’t use screens more. Whimsicott is also the only Prankster Pokémon to get Safeguard. If you don’t understand why this is fantastic, you probably haven’t played a game where your opponents spammed Thunder Wave or Swagger. Speaking of spamming paralysis, Whimsicott also gets priority Stun Spore. Although not the most accurate paralysis move, the Grass typing means you get to paralyze anything that doesn’t have Limber or Sap Sipper. Notably, this lets you paralyze threats like Garchomp, Excadrill, Landorus, and other assorted Ground-types.
Due to the recent endeavors of a certain Wolfe Glick (Wolfey), it would be a crime for me not to include Exeggutor on this list. In Wolfe’s Worlds report he talks about how much of an underrated threat Exeggutor is. I agree with this, as I also have experience with the sentient palm tree.
The main reason you’d want to use Exeggutor is its Harvest ability. With it you can have a potentially infinite amount of berries, translating to a potentially infinite amount of recovery, immunity to status, resistance to a type, etc. The build I have the most experience with is a defensive version with Sitrus Berry. I used it as a counter to rain and sand. It would resist their hits, recover using its berry if it needed to, then set up Trick Room so I could counter fast weather abusers without the need to have weather myself. Occasionally I ran Sleep Powder on it to stop opposing Trick Room from setting up, but 75% is a shaky accuracy to rely on. I could talk about how Exeggutor is surprising powerful and bulky, but Wolfe already did that in his article, so if you want to know more about Exeggutor I suggest you check that out.
Leaves on the Wind
The Grass type has always been one of my favorites. I’ve chosen the Grass starter on my first playthrough of every game (except Silver. Chikorita is terrifying.) because it seems like a relaxed type. I hope that if you were of the opinion that Grass-types were generic and bad that they have grown on you a bit. I hope to see a better variety of Grass-types in the upcoming season, rather than just Ludicolo!