By James Busby
The Alola region is home to some of the quirkiest pocket monsters ever encountered, and trainers all over the world are once again on a quest to catch 'em all. Sun and Moon are absolutely brimming with fresh Pokémon to catch, befriend, and train. But what if you want to be the very best? Like no-one ever was?
Some trainers want only the strongest companions to fill their roster. While most of us pick our favourites based on looks alone, the competitive side of Pokémon has always been intense. So which of the Sun and Moon Pokémon should you consider adding to your team?
Note: We’re only including Pokémon unique to Sun and Moon, with the exclusion of Legendaries and Ultra Beasts.
Kommo-o (Dragon- / Fighting-type)
This pseudo-legendary has a total base stat of 600 and will likely become a common sight in the competitive scene. Kommo-o may not be the fastest Pokémon around, but its high base defences of 125 and 105 allow the Alolan dragon to effectively tank incoming damage. Its inherent abilities – Bulletproof, Soundproof, and Overcoat – also help protect it against status changes and instant death attacks. In addition, Kommo-o also has very respectable attack (110) and special attack stats (100), giving the regal dragon the ability to hit hard in two different ways. The 4x weakness to Fairy-type Pokémon isn’t great, but it’s certainly not all doom and gloom - both Salamence and Garchomp have seen huge success despite sharing this weakness.
Wishiwashi School Form (Water-type)
When even the almighty Gyarados is said to flee this behemoth, you know there’s something going for it. Even the residents of Alola call it the demon of the seas and it’s not hard to see why - Wishiwashi’s School Form boasts an impressive base stat total of 620, with a monstrous 140 attack and special attack to match. Its defences are nearly as spectacular with both sitting at 130 and 135 respectively. These are the kind of numbers to make any trainer sweat with excitement - but hold! Wishiwashi proves that you can’t have it all. The demonic fish has lacklustre HP and speed, albeit those high defensive capabilities help a lot, but becomes seriously weaker when its HP dips below 25% - adopting a weak solo form. Nevertheless, Wishiwashi is definitely one of the strongest non-legendary Pokémon in the game.
Crabominable (Fighting- / Ice-type)
The Little Mac of Sun and Moon is none other than a feisty crustacean who loves pulverising opponents. Crabominable packs a mean punch thanks to its high attack of 132, which allows it to destroy Pokémon with a flurry of fighting-type moves. Make sure you get a Crabominable with the Iron Fist ability to ensure your punches are 20% stronger. Iron Fist not only gives Crabominable more utility in combat but adds damage to what is already an offence-focused monster. However, be aware that its low special attack means it can't take full advantage of Ice-type moves and its speed is on the low side (hey, it’s a crab) - but for those after a strong fighting-type Pokemon, Crabominable is the one. And what a name!
Salazzle (Poison- / Fire-type)
Time for some gender discrimination: only female Salandit’s evolve into Salazzle at level 33, so those of you who have caught a male may want to reconsider before levelling them up too far. This is important because only 12.5% of wild Salandit are female so encountering one is easier said than done, but once you’ve caught and evolved a Salandit the rewards are off the charts. Salazzle’s high speed (117) and special attack (111) make its Poison- and- Fire-type moves absolutely devastating, often winning fights swiftly and efficiently. The ability Corrosion also allows you to inflict poison damage on any Pokémon, regardless of their typing. This gives Salazzle the capability of wearing down absolutely any surprise opponents and, as part of a balanced team, gives her insane utility.
Incineroar (Fire- / Dark-type)
Incineroar has the highest HP out of all the starter evolutions, and its base defence and special defence aren’t too shabby. However, what really makes Litten’s final evolution stand out is the ability and movepool rather than the stats. Incineroar’s hidden ability, Intimidate, makes it take less damage from physical attacks - by far the most common attack type you’ll face across battles - which is way more useful than fellow starter Primarina’s hidden ability, Liquid Voice. Finally, Incineroar can learn physical attack moves of 70 base power or above from nine different types, making it a truly customisable cat out of hell.
Midday Lycanroc (Rock- type)
Lycanroc delivers both power and speed, something that Rock-type Pokémon have traditionally struggled with. However, there is a catch: the form it takes depends on the game it was evolved in. To get a Midday Lycanroc you need get your Rockruff to level 25 during the day in Pokémon Sun. The other forms are worth consideration but, for me, the Midday version’s high Speed stat (122) and access to all the heavy-hitting Rock-type moves, like Rock Slide and Stone Edge, tips the balance. If your team needs a fast hard-hitter that will catch opponents off-guard, then it’s always high noon with a Midday Lycanroc.
Mudsdale’s speed may be on the slow side (35) and its special attack is far from special (55), but despite these clear weaknesses this equine Pokémon is super strong. High HP, high defence and high attack make Mudsdale a great pick for both beginner and veteran trainers alike - unlike some others on this list, it can take a beating as well as dishing one out. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what your opponent will bring to a given Pokémon battle, Mudsdale being Ground-type is also a great counter to the extremely popular Poison-, Fire- and Electric-types. If you’re in it for the long-term, make sure to get a Mudsdale with the Stamina ability - this increases defence whenever it gets attacked, and makes the muddy horse even tankier.
Silvally has the same base stats as its unevolved form, Type Null. However, its speed gets increased from 59 to 95, making Silvally only slightly weaker than legendaries like Mew and Jirachi. It has the same base stats as the new Ultra Beasts, which makes sense as it’s specifically designed to fight them. This not only makes Silvally an excellent counter-pick, but adds to its overall versatility as it can be either a physical or special attacker, while also having access to a huge movepool due to the RKS System. The RKS System changes the type of Silvally depending on the Memory it holds, giving the chimeric creature the ability to fit specific roles as and when the team requires it. Familiarise yourself with Silvally because, even if it’s not your bag, this versatility will make it a very popular pick among competitive trainers.
Golisopod (Bug- / Water-type)
Good Pokés come to those who wait and, if you’re willing to put in the time levelling the small anthropoid Pokémon Wimpod, you will be rewarded. Golisopod is a Bug- and Water-type Pokémon with high base attack and defence stats that allow it to dish out damage, while also taking heavy hits from other Pokémon. Its typing gives it the ability to learn X-Scissor and powerful water-type moves like Surf, Liquidation and Waterfall.
However, the ability Emergency Exit can be a double edged sword, and severely limits Golisopod’s overall damage output. Emergency Exit forces it to swap out instantly, once per battle, when its HP reaches 50%. It’s not all bad, however: returning to battle gives Golisopod a chance to use First Impression, a high priority move that deals huge amounts of physical damage.
While it may not look like much, Pyukumuku is a force to be reckoned with, essentially the suicide bomber of the competitive scene thanks to the ability Innards Out: this deals damage to its opponent equal to the amount of HP Pyukumuku had left before it fainted. This makes it an unusual Pokémon indeed, being designed to faint and discourage your opponent from attacking.
This is reflected in Pyukumuku only having access to two damaging moves, Counter and Bide, while the rest of its movepool is geared towards supporting and empowering the rest of your party and stalling the opponent.