Evolution: it's been a core concept to all Pokémon trainers ever since the beginning, with young and veteran players grinding in hopes their Charmander would become the mighty Charizard and purchasing the right stone for their precious Eevee. However, in recent times, some Pokémon have proven that they don't need to evolve to perform well. These are just some not-fully-evolved Pokémon that I think are cool to use -- some of them can actually outclass their evolved counterparts!
The core behind all Non-Fully Evolved (NFE) Pokémon, Eviolite was one of the biggest game-chaging items introduced in Generation 5. When held by a Pokémon that has not reached its final evolution, Eviolite increases that Pokémon's Defense and Sp. Defense by 50%. This turned many Pokémon that were once outclassed by their evolutions into overnight stars and adds a new core of defense in an offensive metagame. Below are just a few of the Pokémon that make the best out of this item, and a few of my personal experiences with them, and are all Pokémon you should consider if you want to utilize Eviolite.
Cool NFE Pokémon
The Beckon Pokémon is one of the Pokémon who benefited the most from Eviolite, as it has now become the most reliable Trick Room setup Pokémon besides Cresselia thanks to its immunity to Fake Out and access to a vast support movepool including Will-o-Wisp, Disable, and Helping Hand, as well as semi-reliable healing with Pain Split. With the added bulk from Eviolite, it outclasses its evolution, Dusknoir, and will almost never be OHKO'd by anything bar a Gem-boosted super-effective move or a critical hit. During the 2012 Philadelphia Regionals, both my Milotic and Garchomp struggled hard against this tank, as it kept using Pain Split and Will-o-Wisp to slowly whittle down my Pokémon's HP bars while healing itself. The match eventually ended on time with only my Milotic and his Dusclops left, the latter still at top HP.
A sort of mini-Cresselia, Porygon2 is another Pokémon who benefited greatly from Eviolite's boosts adding to its already-high defensive stats. One of the very rare Normal-type Special attackers and the only one besides Kecleon with access to Trick Room, Porygon2 is another fine Pokémon to set up Trick Room and is capable of dealing significant damage afterwards. Porygon2 can also function well outside Trick Room, using Thunder Wave to cripple opponents and control Speed. Porygon2 has also one of the most potent and underrated abilities in the game: Trace, which clones an opponent's ability when entering battle. This can range from copying Swift Swim from Ludicolo to copying Intimidate from Hitmontop and Salamence, to a wide variety of other hilarious incidents. I used a Bold mixed Defense, Special Attack, and Sp. Defense Porygon2 myself at the Regionals last year, and, besides my Milotic, it was the star of the team, sponging up a surprising amount of hits, while hitting hard with Thunderbolt and Ice Beam. During one match, I switched Porygon2 in for y fainted Garchomp, and ended up Tracing the opponent's Dragonite's Multiscale, increasing my bulk even more. With a wide offensive and supporting movepool, only one weakness (abiet a big one considering Fighting's prevalence in the metagame), and great defenses, you have a star that can easily outclass its mentally insane older evolution.
This is it: the Pokémon that gained the most benefit from Eviolite, the obese pink egg herself, Chansey. Once outclassed by Blissey, when Chansey got her stubby little arms on the purple stone, her already impressive Special Defense stat turned monstrous, capable of surviving more Special Attacks then her evolution while also beefing up her Physical defense past Blissey's. In a tier filled with Special Attackers such as Thundurus, Latios, Zapdos, and others, this trait is absolutely essential. She also has Thunder Wave, like Porygon2, to disable Pokémon that can give her trouble. With reliable recovery in Softboiled, Chansey can absorb the hits almost as much as she wants... unless they're physical, which preys on Chansey's miserable Defense stat, even with Eviolite's boost. This can be worked around, however, with partners such as Sableye Burning enemy physical attackers. Chansey is also the core behind the deadly Guard Split Shuckle set: when Shuckle shares it defenses with the pink blob, Chansey's Defense stat skyrockets, allowing her not even to be 5HKO'd be Terrakion's Close Combat! Another, abiet more luck-based, strategy is to use Minimize, an insanely annoying move for the opponent, as foes can even have trouble inflicting ANY damage on Chansey after usage! If your team is having trouble with special attackers or needs a good defensive core, Chansey is your Pokémon.
Clefairy, the originally-intended mascot for the series, has some fun tools that Clefable doesn't have: most notably, Friend Guard. This new ability increases the partner's defensive stats by 25%, saving it from a few unexpected OHKOs. It also has Follow Me, which directs all moves towards Clefairy, further protecting its partner. Clefairy also has a very large support movepool, including Thunder Wave, Encore, Lucky Chant, Reflect, Light Screen, Gravity, Tickle, and others, so it's often difficult for a foe to decide what any given Clefairy will do. Clefairy has started to rise in usage in the Japanese Global Battle Union metagame, a place where more weird Pokémon see usage, but it can prove to be an underrated supporter in our VGC metagame. So why not try it out for yourself, you might be surprised!
It shocks me as that Rhydon isn't more used, especially when I still see Rhyperior on a fair amount of teams. Their stats are barely different, and when holding Eviolite, Rhydon gains the amazing ability to take physical moves almost all day, while acting like a tank and demolishing the other team with STAB Rock Slide and Earthquake. Its ability Lightningrod is also great support, protecting your team from Thunder Waves. The only things that Rhydon shares with Rhyperior is its miserable Special Defense and Speed (though the latter can be alleviated with Trick Room), and its numerous weaknesses, but they can all be worked around with proper team support. It also lacks any sort of reliable recovery, unlike the other Pokémon above, decreasing its bulk by a bit. Despite this, Rhydon is not to be underestimated.
What's that tearing through the fabric of existence? No, it's not a bird, nor a plane, but the most powerful Outrage in the metagame. Zweilous, beside from looking absolutely adorable, has the ability Hustle, which boosts its Attack stat at the cost of a bit of accuracy. With this ability, it has a more powerful Outrage than even Rayquaza! With another STAB in Crunch, Fire Fang/Thunder Fang, Head Smash, and Thunder Wave, Zweilous can catch many teams off their guard. However, Zweilos is going to need MAJOR support before it can even think about attacking: it has horrible 58 Speed, requiring Trick Room or Thunder Wave support. Outrage also is a more luck-based maneuver, as it hits a random target and can miss due to Hustle, but if you're willing to take the risk, Zweilous can do some solid work for your team.
Sharing the same base stat total as Scizor except with a different layout, Scyther has always gotten the short end of the stick with its bad typing and having to use Quick Attack instead of a STAB Bullet Punch. Despite this, Eviolite made its life a bit easier by giving it even better defenses than Scizor, and it has good 105 speed, giving it a unique niche over its evolution. Scyther still has access to Tailwind, providing some bulky support. In many ways Scyther is still outclassed, but it can be fun to use for those who want to separate themselves from the norm.
[is Scyther really usable? Check out Dillon's A Cut Below US Nationals Team Analysis to find out! - Ed.]
Like nearly all the Pokémon mentioned so far, Murkrow was, for years, severely outclassed by its Gen 4 evolution, Honchkrow. That was until Gen 5 gave the little bird a new tool to play with beside Eviolite: Prankster. Since Prankster become Moxie if Murkrow evolves, it actually has a different niche from its evolution as a Prankster abuser. Murkrow separates itself from top tier Pranksters like Sableye and Thundurus through its unique support movepool, with exclusive access to priority Quash (a move which causes its target to move last, giving Murkrow's partner a turn advantage over a threat), FeatherDance (sharply decrerases the target's Attack, which is a great alternative over Will-o-Wisp), and Roost (making Murkrow the only Pokémon besides Sableye to have reliable priority recovery). It also can use priority Thunder Wave, Tailwind, Rain Dance, Sunny Day, and more, so it can fill a ton of roles for your team. Murkrow, unfortunately, doesn't have the best bulk even with Eviolite, meaning it's going to need some team support itself if it wants to do well. But if you're willing to play on Murkrow's strengths, you can take many teams off their guard with its wide variety of options.
Riolu is similar to Murkrow in that it has an exclusive ability its evolution Lucario doesn't: Prankster. With Prankster and its wide movepool, Riolu can provide a surprisingly good supporting role. It has access to +4 Follow Me, which makes it the only Follow Me user to get the jump on Fake Out, and a deadly combo in Roar + Follow Me. Roar still has terrible priority when Riolu uses it, but the next turn after a Pokémon is swapped out, it can use priority Copycat to use Roar again, forcing the switching out of the Pokémon again, making the opponent's head spin as their strategy will be thrown all over the place. It can even be more ridiculous if the target is sleeping, as switching will reset their sleep cycle back to 0! Basically, Riolu is a disruptive Pokémon, mostly punishing teams that don't pack Taunt to deal with it. Like Murkrow, however, Riolu can't do the job alone, and will need some good support from its teammates. Riolu received a usage jump in Japan's recent Beginning Cup last August, which was restricted to the new Unova Dex mons, but it can make a name for itself even outside that metagame.
That's right: the mascot of the entire franchise actually does have some decent usage in the VGC metagame! Pikachu is also notable as the the only Pokémon on this list that won't use Eviolite (it has possibly the worst defenses in the game, so boosting them would be worthless): instead, it uses its exclusive item, the Light Ball, which gives it Deoxys-like Attack and Sp. Attack. Pikachu's movepool is fine, able to hit very hard with STAB Thunderbolt or Thunder, Hidden Power, Grass Knot, and also has access to Fake Out and Lightningrod, which can also provide a little support to its allies. The downside? As mention before, Pikachu's paper-thin defenses means it's going to be KO'd by almost anything, and its low 90 speed means that Tailwind will be needed if it wants to outspeed Terrakion, Latios, and others.
[Do you, too, want to use Pikachu like Ash? Check out I Choose You!: A Guide to Ash Teams to see how you can make Pikachu work for you. -Ed.]
Eviolite truly opened up a new world in competitive Pokémon, bringing a ton of previously outclassed Pokémon back to the forefront of the battle. So now that you've seen my thoughts on these potent NFEs, why not try them out for yourself? They're some of the most interesting and fun Pokémon to use. Let me know your experiences and any NFEs you think I overlooked in the comments below!
What a sad existence you have Charizard, when all of these NFEs including Pikachu can do better than you ever will in VGC
Artwork is made by me, Ryan. Come and see more on my deviantART page.