Welcome to the thirty-third issue of 6th Generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week we'll be discussing a Pokemon that, opon Mega Evolution, becomes physically stronger than even Deoxys-Attack. This week, we'll be discussing Heracross.
Heracross thrusts its prized horn under its enemies, then lifts and throws them powerfully. It's so powerful that it can easily throw around an object up to 100 times its own weight.
Base Stats: 80 HP / 125 Attack / 75 Defense / 40 Sp. Attack / 95 Sp. Defense / 85 Speed
Upon introduction, Heracross was one of few usable Fighting types in the metagame, and while it lacked a good Fighting move back then, this has been remedied over the years, given access to Close Combat. This, in combination with Megahorn, a previously exclusive signature move, made it a threat to many Pokemon in OU, with decent enough coverage moves to keep it relevant.
Unfortunately, even while Heracross was getting stronger, so was the competition. Talonflame's presence in OU has kept Heracross solidly in UU this generation, along with a few other key threats such as Mega Gardevoir, Latios, and Mega Medicham. The middling Speed is a bit of an issue as well; 85 is not a great number to have for what is meant to be an offensive sweeper, making either Choice Scarf or Substitute a necessity for sweeping, or Choice Band for smashing through slower teams. The addition of Fairy typing was one of great annoyance as well, a type that resists both STABs on its own. But lets be honest, Heracronite is the reason you'd use Heracross these days, and we'll get to that in the Mega Evolution section.
|Heracross@ Choice Scarf|
Moxie / Guts
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack) / Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 HP
Knock Off / Facade / Sleep Talk
Choice Scarf is the best immediate remedy to Heracross's subpar Speed. Megahorn and Close Combat are your strongest STAB attacks, able to easily dispose of top tier threats such as Latias, Latios, Kyurem-Black, Excadrill, and Heatran, to name a few. Stone Edge is chosen for the third slot to deal with Flying types that resist both STABs.
The last slot is a bit filler. Knock Off is a great item in general, and can really hinder common switch-ins that wall Heracross, such as Skarmory, Landorus-Therian, and especially Gliscor if you hit it before Toxic Orb has activated. Facade is an option for switching into a status, preferrably Burn via a weak Scald or Will-O-Wisp, and abuse Guts to the maximum. Sleep Talk, on the other hand, allows Heracross to act as a reliable Sleep absorber, and when combined with Guts, punishes what would normally be a very detrimental position to be in. This has problems, however; Sleep Talk will not always pick the move you want it to, and since you're not using Rest, you won't know when the Sleep timer is going to end. Choose this with caution and use your best judgement to determine if and when this is reliable enough to use.
Like any sweeper, entry hazards are appreciated. Stealth Rock is the most important one here, hindering Flying types like Talonflame, meaning that they can't even easily come in on a quad resisted Megahorn. The choice of nature and ability is down to preference. Jolly is preferred to ensure you outspeed as much as possible, while Adamant makes you (noticably) slower for extra power behind your hits. Moxie is the preferred ability for the most part, since it's easier to activate, and allows Heracross to perform late-game sweeps once the Close Combat resists have been removed. Guts allows it to be a good status absorber though, but this isn't ideal as Paralysis cripples Heracross and being Badly Poisoned cuts too deeply into its longevity to be something you'd want.
|Heracross@ Flame Orb|
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Stone Edge / Knock Off
I have to start this by saying that this set is almost entirely outclassed by Adamant Mega Heracross, so if you're using this set, it's for one of a few key reasons: higher Speed, you're using another Mega, or the fact that you're essentially immune to status (this is, however, a weak defense at best). Mega Heracross's Pin Missile and Rock Blast outdamage even your Guts Megahorn and Stone Edge, while you gain a very marginally stronger Close Combat and access to Facade.
That said, if you are running another Mega and still want to use Heracross in OU for some reason without the restriction of a Choice item, this is probably what you want. Flame Orb and Guts does bring Heracross's power to frightening levels, able to leave huge dents in things that resist it, dealing up to 37% to the most physically defensive Clefable with either resisted STAB. Stone Edge is the preferred coverage attack, dealing with Flying types, though this is a bit of a letdown in OU, as most prominant Flying types will outspeed and OHKO you. There are some notable exceptions, however, such as unboosted Dragonite, who is OHKO'd if Multiscale is not intact. Knock Off is an option here, for breaking down common counters like Skarmory, Landorus-Therian, and Gliscor whose Toxic Orb hasn't activated.
Facade is chosen in the last slot for maximizing the return on Burn and Guts, able to deal hefty damage to Pokemon that resist both STAB attacks.
The nature and EVs ensure Heracross outspeeds positive nature base 80 Speed Pokemon, of which there are few in OU, but there's nothing else worth investing in when you're running a set that chips 12% per turn. Adamant really isn't an option here, since being outsped generally means game over for Heracross, and Guts is making up for what would be a lack of power anyway. Entry hazard support is appreciated, especially Stealth Rock and Sticky Web.
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Hiding behind a Substitute eases Heracross's prediction greatly, allowing you to play far safer than other sets. It also grants you protection from status attacks. These two things work very well with Moxie; setup a Sub on something that Heracross forces out, click the appropriate move for dealing with what they've sent out, and begin racking up Moxie boosts safely. Megahorn and Close Combat are your STAB attacks of choice, boasting high power and reliability, while Stone Edge is chosen for coverage. This set can even beat Talonflame if you've got a Sub up already when it comes out, which makes it difficult for the opponent to revenge-kill Heracross.
As always, Stealth Rock support is nearly vital, though this set benefits from any and all hazards you can provide, to ensure more Moxie boosts. Packing teammates that can remove things that wall Heracross is helpful. Bold Rotom-Wash serves as a reliable counter to Talonflame, while also putting pressure on Gliscor and Landorus-T with its STAB Hydro Pump, and threatening Skarmory with Volt Switch or Thunderbolt.
Base Stats: 80 HP / 185 Attack / 115 Defense / 40 Sp. Attack / 105 Sp. Defense / 75 Speed
Mega Heracross is pretty unique. It's one of few Mega Evolutions to get reduced Speed (-10) in exchange for a bigger boost to its other stats (+110 total). This sets his Attack stat higher than that of Deoxys-Attack's, which is a frightening prospect. Skill Link, in addition to new moves gained this generation (Pin Missile, Rock Blast, and Arm Thrust) allows Mega Heracross to deal insane amounts of damage to even Pokemon that resist his attacks, with enough bulk to tank many common attackers that don't hit with a STAB Super Effective move. The downside here is really the Speed drop, forcing it to lose out to even fully invested base 80's. The lack of a Speed boost means that Mega Heracross still faces the problem of being easily outsped and commonly forced to take an attack before delivering his brutal assault. It's a fairly balanced trade, and the increased bulk really helps it do this.
As a Bug type, Heracross faces competition from both Scizor (and Mega Scizor) and Mega Pinsir. While Mega Pinsir rarely runs any Bug type attacks and brings more weaknesses with it, it has much higher Speed, a STAB priority move in Quick Attack, and sweeping potential, while Scizor can fill a variety of roles. Mega Heracross's main use lies in being an excellent wall-breaker, and when played to its strengths using a team built with Mega Heracross in mind, it can be a devastating force that you'll find yourself relying on to win.
Moxie / Guts [Skill Link]
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 40 HP / 252 Attack / 216 Speed
Swords Dance / Bullet Seed / Knock Off
Mega Heracross is one of the best wallbreakers in all of OU, simply put. The damage output from his best moves when combined with Skill Link is something to be feared. Close Combat is still his strongest Fighting move, much stronger than even 5 hits of Arm Thrust, and with less damage from Rough Skin, Iron Barbs, and Rocky Helmet. Pin Missile is very strong, providing 5 STAB hits, each with a chance to land a Critical Hit. Rock Blast is used to deal with Flying types that resist both STABs, and deals massive damage to them, even dealing up to 25% to the most physically defensive Landorus-Therian after factoring Intimidate. This allows Heracross to wear it down through the match, especially when used in combination with Stealth Rock support, as Landorus has no reliable recovery.
The final slot has a few options. Swords Dance doubles Heracross's already absurd 515 Attack, setting it at 1030, which is frightening. If used in conjunction with Sticky Web, Heracross is very capable of performing a late-game sweep once things like Talonflame and Latios have been removed. Bullet Seed is wonderful for being able to OHKO the most physically defensive Rotom-Wash and OHKOing Azumarill. It also OHKOs standard Quiet 252 HP Diancie, and deals 72-85% to max HP, max Defense Relaxed Diancie, but outside of these Pokemon it has little use. Finally, Knock Off is just good on everything that learns it, being able to cripple your counters for the rest of the match.
As I mentioned earlier, Sticky Web and/or Paralysis support is highly appreciated to remedy the low Speed. The EVs allow Mega Heracross to outspeed max Speed Adamant Bisharp, maximize Attack, and give you a bit of extra bulk. The choice of pre-Mega ability is somewhat inconsequential, but Moxie can allow normal Heracross to pick off a weakened Pokemon, gain a 1.5x Attack boost, and Mega Evolve the next turn with the boost and normal Heracross's marginally higher Speed for that turn. Guts is an option as a fail safe if you somehow get Burnt as you switch in, but this situation is pretty uncommon and even then, Pin Missile and Rock Blast become unreliable options, so it's generally not an option worth considering.
Heracross is a Y version exclusive, found on Route 12, but can be found in either version if you have someone with a Heracross Friend Safari added to your friends list. Here's what I'd recommend for an in-game Heracross:
Megahorn / Pin Missile
Rock Slide / Rock Blast
Night Slash / Earthquake / Bullet Seed
Depending on whether or not you are going to be Mega Evolving Heracross in your travels, the moveset is a bit different. Close Combat remains your best Fighting attack regardless, boasting great power at the cost of lowered defenses. Megahorn is for normal Heracross, while Mega prefers Pin Missile, since Skill Link will boost it to higher power than even Megahorn can manage, with better accuracy to boot. Rock Slide or Rock Blast cover Flying types. The last slot is mostly filler. Night Slash provides a move to hurt Ghosts, while Earthquake has good general neutral coverage and hits some Steel types harder than Close Combat will (with Aegislash being a noteworthy example). Bullet Seed is usable with Mega Heracross's Skill Link, but it's very situationally useful.
Having actually raised a Heracross this generation, I can say that I like Heracross a lot. It's one of the more unique Fighting types, and I enjoyed both non-mega and mega Heracross. It's far from being one of my favorites, but I'm glad that it's getting more notice this generation. When random things like Escavalier, Nidoking, and Seaking began copying his signature Megahorn, he developed a new niche for himself with Pin Missile.
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