Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon have already ushered in a new era of competitive play. With the introduction of Alolan forms, totem guardians, and the brand spanking new abilities on their recently revealed Pokémon, the tier lists of both Smogon and this League will undoubtedly go through a paradigm shift. The real question isn’t how the game will change, but rather how it won’t. Today I’d like to discuss one of the more interesting new forms to be introduced. The Alolan Raichu, which I will simply refer to as Psychu, is a lovable Pokémon that fits the stereotypical Hawaiian image. But what chance might it stand in competitive play?
Let’s take a look at the typing first. With the added Psychic typing, Psychu has traded some weaknesses for some resistances and a new STAB. While I can’t quite make a judgement on whether or not that is worthwhile quite yet, I can list the pros and cons of such a change. Due to this new typing, Psychu now has four weaknesses, being Ground, Bug, Ghost, and Dark. In exchange, it can now hit Fighting and Poison types for super effective damage along with Flying and Water types. It would also imply either Psychu gets to learn Psychic, Psyshock, Zen Headbutt, or perhaps a new signature move with the Psychic type. Maybe even all of the above, for all we know.
Speaking of moves, the original Raichu already has a plethora of moves to utilize on a multitude of sets, varying from physically and specifically offensive to support. It can only be assumed that Psychu will inherit this same movepool with perhaps an added Psychic STAB. While there is a possibility of an entirely new movepool, unlike some of the other new forms, this Alolan exclusive has had a very small change. I doubt they’d edit the entire Pokémon for one small thing. Also, the Z-move that Psychu does (which is named Stoked SparkSurfer) is extremely fascinating and undoubtedly powerful.
Continuing on the track of editing, let’s go on to the most interesting feature, the base stats. While I doubt the BST will receive any change, since this is a form change and not an official evolution, I could definitely see some forms of change to the current stats. This new surfing idea behind our mascot’s elder and the animation from Psychu using Stoked SparkSurfer, I could definitely see this thing gaining a slight boost in speed in exchange for some defenses. Due to the animation on Stoked SparkSurfer, which seems to be a physical attack, I could also easily imagine that Psychu is slightly more physically oriented than his Kanto counterpart. With all of this in mind, I believe that the spread will look like 60/100/55/95/55/120. This stat distribution makes Raichu a much more offensive threat while still retaining that same BST.
Last but most certainly not least, let’s talk about its ability. Surge Surfer is exclusive to the shocking Alolan mouse, allowing for twice the speed inside of Electric Terrain. That is highly situational since neither Raichu nor Psychu can’t really take a hit, but I could see the benefits if paired with a Tapu Koko. I’m thinking it will keep Lightningrod as a hidden ability, thus maintaining its viability in Doubles and giving it a niche for Singles. That said, where will Psychu land in Smogon or League play? Assuming it does get a boost to stats similar to the spread I provided above, I could easily see it landing in UU or BL, potentially even OU due to just how fast it is. In League play, I’d see it landing a comfy spot in Tier 2, due to its potential as a glass cannon. It might even be able to hit Tier 1 if we see it getting used well enough. In the end, this is all merely speculation. Nobody truly knows where GameFreak will take us and how much the metagame will vary in the coming months. But given the information that we already know and some degree of creative thinking, anything is possible for this pancake loving surfer. Until then, we’ll just have to ride through the shock waves.
October 1st, 2016