Welcome to the seventh installment of 6th generation's Pokemon of the Week! In this issue, we'll be covering a very unique Pokemon that has access to a move that may change the future of competitive battling forever. This week, we'll be discussing Hawlucha.
Despite Hawlucha's small stature, it has fighting skills on par with Machamp and Hariyama. It uses its wings to control its position in the air. It tactically dive-bombs its enemies from above.
Base Stats: 78 HP / 92 Attack / 75 Defense / 74 Sp. Attack / 63 Sp. Defense / 118 Speed
Hawlucha is, as I said, one of the most interesting Pokemon in the entire game. The fact that it has a type combination that no one other Pokemon has is pretty cool, but possibly more interesting than Hawlucha itself is is signature move, Flying Press. This move takes a bit of explaining, so I'll do my best to make it as clear as possible.
Flying Press is a dual-type move, despite its classification as a Fighting type move. It is both Fighting and Flying type simultaneously. This can be difficult to wrap your head around in practice, so here's the breakdown on how it fairs against each type:
Not Very Effective:
After examining the list, something becomes apparent: Flying Press gains very little from the combination of the two types and tends to lose more than it gains. This means that it is not convenient to carry this in place of a Fighting move and Flying move, but rather, it is often detrimental to run Flying Press in place of two efficient STAB moves. In fact, it's pretty detrimental to use Flying Press at all, given the mediocre base power and coverage. I am willing to bet, however, that this was intentional to test the waters for the fan reaction to mixture moves. Bring on the BoltBeam, Game Freak!
With all that said, Hawlucha is currently an underwhelming Pokemon. Don't mistake me - Hawlucha is not a bad Pokemon, but as of now, it does not have the tools it needs to succeed in the OU metagame. If and when Flying Gem becomes available, Hawlucha will become a deadly Pokemon, utilizing Acrobatics and Unburden simultaneously. Unfortunately, Hawlucha lacks Brave Bird, and so lacks a reliable Flying type STAB attack. Nevertheless, Hawlucha can pose a significant threat in OU if used correctly, and should not be underestimated.
|Hawlucha@ Power Herb / No item
Unburden / Mold Breaker
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Hi Jump Kick
Sky Attack / Stone Edge / Baton Pass / Encore
This is probably Hawlucha's most common set currently, due to the lack of Flying Gem at the moment, but this has it's own merits. Swords Dance allows Hawlucha to immediately double his Attack stat, setting him at 622, which is more than enough to sweep through most things with his high powered moves. Hi Jump Kick is the Fighting STAB move of choice, dealing massive damage to anything not resistant or immune to it, provided it hits.
Sky Attack is a multi-functional move; Power Herb will activate upon use and allow for a one-turn massive damage attack, which will then activate Unburden, putting Hawlucha in a position to sweep through nearly anything. From there, Acrobatics becomes the Flying STAB of choice, hitting base 110 power after Power Herb has already been consumed. If Sky Attack isn't your cup of tea, there are a couple other options at your disposal. No item can be used in conjunction with Mold Breaker, which allows Hawlucha to ignore such things as Dragonite's Multiscale, Mega Aggron's Filter, Unaware, and Magic Bounce (for Encore). Stone Edge can be used to hit Zapdos and Thundurus, as well as other Flying types, but it's generally not overly useful outside of those two Pokemon. Baton Pass can be used to escape from battle with your boosts intact if need be. Don't think of it as Hawlucha's main use, but as an emergency escape that can pass along SD boosts. Finally, Encore can be utilized to lock an opponent into an ineffective move, giving Hawlucha time it needs to boost while the opponent switches.
This set is resisted by few Pokemon, but one of them is extremely common in OU: Aegislash. If your opponent has Aegislash on their team, do not even attempt to use Hawlucha until it has been removed. What's even worse about this is that Aegislash cannot even be trapped with Magnezone, since Ghost types cannot be trapped this generation. Aegislash is immune to Toxic Spikes and resists Stealth Rock, so you have to have a solid answer for Aegislash on your team if you plan on using Hawlucha in OU. Spikes work well for punishing switch-ins. Landorus-Therian can handle most physically inclined Aegislash, while dedicated special walls that aren't weak to Ghost or Steel can handle fully special sets.
As with any sweeper, entry hazard support is appreciated. Hawlucha isn't terribly strong in comparison to most OU sweepers in terms of raw stats, but his high-powered moves allow him to knock out a majority of the metagame with little trouble. Stealth Rock and even a single layer of Spikes will go a long way in ensuring KOs against some of the most defensive Pokemon in OU.
|Hawlucha@ Choice Band / Choice Scarf
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Attack) / Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Hi Jump Kick
Hawlucha can forego a boosting set in favor of the immediate power of a Choice Band or the revenge-killing properties of a Choice Scarf, but it comes with a price: Acrobatics. This set isn't forced to rely on Hawlucha finding time to setup, however, and if played as a typical Fighting type, it can be decent. Hi Jump Kick is your most powerful move here, dealing heavy damage to a big portion of the metagame. Aerial Ace should be used sparingly due to the low base power, but can help deal with opposing Fighting types and has decent coverage. Stone Edge hits Flying types, and U-Turn gives Hawlucha a utility move to escape from common counters and put momentum in your favor.
This set is generally inferior to the previous one, and is best used on offensive teams that want a fast Fighting type with an immunity to most entry hazards, most notably Sticky Web. Poison Jab can be used over Aerial Ace if Fairy types are a problem, but it's only really useful for Azumarill in OU. Flying Press can be considered instead of Aerial Ace as well, but having two moves that are blocked by Ghosts is pretty bad and the Fighting addition to the move ruins most of the coverage that Aerial Ace gives, which is the only reason you'd even consider using Aerial Ace.
|Hawlucha@ No Item
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Taunt / Substitute / Encore
Hawlucha is capable of running a Baton Pass set to decent success. Swords Dance doubles your Attack, and is your best passing option. Taunt can shut down opposing defensive Pokemon, often forcing a switch that will allow you time to setup. Substitute can act as a buffer from status attacks and gives a secondary thing to pass, though Hawlucha's subs are extremely flimsy, even if you decide to load up on HP EVs, which I wouldn't recommend, as your subs are still generally broken in a single hit and Hawlucha loses any ability it had to deal damage. Encore is your final option in this slot, locking an opponent into a harmless move, forcing them out while you are given a free turn to setup.
The last slot provides Hawlucha a STAB attack to deal damage, should Hawlucha be Taunted (by a Prankster or something), or just need to do some damage itself. Acrobatics is chosen because of the great neutral coverage it nets, as well as its reliability and lack of damning secondary effect (Hi Jump Kick).
Hawlucha can be found on Route 10 in both X and Y versions, as well as Friend Safari if you have the right friend. It's available pretty early in the game and has great potential as both an offensive threat or HM Slave if you need one, with access to Fly, Cut, Rock Smash, and Strength. Here's what I'd recommend if you want a non-slave Hawlucha:
Hi Jump Kick
Poison Jab / Swords Dance
Stone Edge / Encore
Hawlucha has a fantastic offensive movepool and the stats to prove it's worth a slot on your team. Hi Jump Kick is your strongest attack, capable of dealing massive damage to anything that isn't resistant or immune to it. Acrobatics provides you with a secondary STAB attack, but you have to remember that Hawlucha should not hold an item, otherwise this attack is useless and worse than Aerial Ace. Poison Jab gives Hawlucha a means of offense against the mountain of Fairy types in X/Y, while Stone Edge gives it something to nail opposing Flying types. If you'd prefer, however, you can run Encore and Swords Dance, bringing Hawlucha into a useless move like Earthquake and Encoring it to provide you an opportunity to Swords Dance and sweep through your pathetic AI opponent's team. Fighting/Flying has pretty fantastic neutral coverage, only being resisted by 10 Pokemon in the game, so it's no big loss to give up coverage moves.
I hate Hawlucha. Hate. This bastard caused more deaths in my X Nuzlocke than anything else. It's absurdly fast and has two STABs that are difficult to resist. This Pokemon plagued my main playthrough and my Nuzlocke endless times and nothing can ever make me undo the hatred I've built up for it. I'm also not a fan of the design. It's just... silly. Get out of my face, Hawlucha. The blood of my Pokemon is stained on your wings... and your blood on my hands. And I'd do it again.
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I don't know if I can agree to that; Hawlucha's base 92 Attack is somewhat middling in comparison to the likes of Terrakion, Blaziken, Conkeldurr, and while his stellar Speed stat does not disappoint, his lackluster defenses certainly do.
In my ever-so-humble opinion, contenders for best non-Legendary Pokemon go to Aegislash, Blaziken (not out of bias either, just take a look at it, it was the first non-legendary Pokemon to be banned this gen), and Rotom-Wash.
I do agree that Hawlucha will likely get better as time goes on though. Move tutors could do him a world of good, providing nice things like element punches. And Flying Gem. He desperately wants Flying Gem. Well Hawlucha is one of the most versatile Pokemon out there. Not as much as Mew or Smeargle but the wide range of attacks it can learn is interesting.