Feraligatr, The Big Jaw Pokémon. It usually moves slowly, but it goes at blinding speed when it attacks and bites prey. It opens its huge mouth to intimidate enemies. In battle, it runs using its thick and powerful hind legs to charge the foe with incredible speed. It is hard for it to support its own weight out of water, so it gets down on all fours. But it moves fast. When it bites with its massive and powerful jaws, it shakes its head and savagely tears up its victim. Although it has a massive body, its powerfull hind legs enable it to move quickly, even on the ground
It's been two generations coming for Feraligatr to have its time, but in the Fourth Generation, all of the ingredients have been mixed right to make it… a pretty decent Underused Pokémon. Okay, so very little has actually changed when it comes to Feraligatr's classification, but as an overall Pokémon, it's improved by leaps and bounds. The physical-special split is the difference maker. Whilst it had Swords Dance before (and now has Dragon Dance too), having a physical STAB, backed by a couple of other good physical moves, has turned it into a true physical sweeper; something it couldn't really achieve a generation ago.
The general consensus is it's the UU answer to Gyarados. It's a relatively bulky, physically-inclined Water type with sweeper-oriented boosting moves… you can see the similarity. Sadly, this similarity means it's never going to break into the Standard tier with any endeavour, but in the Underused tier, Feraligatr can finally experience the joys that come with new game mechanics.
Torrent: boosts Feraligatr's Water moves by 50% when its HP falls below 33%. Like Typhlosion, as a sweeper, Feraligatr really benefits from this boost when it's taken a few hits.
- Dragon Dance
You can really see those Gyarados comparisons here. Everyone by now should know what a Dragon Dancer does. An Attack and a Speed boost from Dragon Dance opens up the opportunity to sweep. Whilst several Dragon Dances is ideal, the most ideal Dragon Dancers can do the job with just a single boost, and Ferilgatr can definitely do the business with just a single Dance under its belt.
Waterfall, with its 20% flinch rate and solid STAB power forms the core of your sweeping efforts, and the super-effective hit on Ground and Rock types helps to get rid of some of the tougher UU defenders too (such as Donphan, Regirock and Steelix). Ice Punch is a near-necessity for its super-effective hit on Grass types, who have an important resistance to Waterfall. The third move-slot is variable. Earthquake has a lot of varied type coverage and comes with plenty of power. Return lacks the super-effective hits that Earthquake offers, but in exchange you get near-perfect neutral type coverage when paired with Waterfall.
The item choice is the classic conundrum: more power or more survivability? It's been a little while since I've brought this up in the PotW, but not long enough for people to forget that Life Orb can make the difference between a 2KO and an OHKO but similarly. The downside is that 10% HP is chipped away with every attack, sacrificing much of Feraligatr's bulk. Leftovers offers better survivability, but of course, no direct benefits to Feraligatr's sweeping chances. There isn't much middle-ground here. Expert Belt doesn't benefit from enough super-effective hits, and the closest Feraligatr has to a compromise between sweeping and surviving comes from Mystic Water, which gives a flat 1.2x boost to Feraligatr's Waterfall.
- Swords Dance
No more standing in Gyarados's shadow, Feraligatr gets to fill its own set of boots here. Without the Speed boost from Dragon Dance, a Swords Dancing Feraligatr takes on a different dimension when it comes to sweeping. Its quicker to become a sweeping threat but it's far more exposed to faster Pokémon who can punish its so-so Speed stat. It may be a little harder to execute, but that's the trade-off to get a significant advantage when it comes to raw attacking power.
- Swords Dance
Despite being something of a go-between, Sub-Salac-Dance is very viable. Waterfall becomes particularly menacing, backed by both Swords Dance and Torrent. Return is significantly more viable here than it is on the other move-sets. On the other move-sets, it's “some neutral type coverage”, on this move-set, you only have a two-pronged attack, and whilst Normal may provide a boring lack of super-effective hits, it's the only move that pairs up with Waterfall to provide near-perfect neutral type coverage (just pack something to deal with Empoleon and Shedinja). Flail also chimes in as a viable option, since this move-set is designed around the concept of low HP, where Flail thrives.
The move-set's main detriment is that it's an “all eggs in one basket” type of move-set. There's little room for flexibility when your sweeping focus requires you to lose at least 75% of your HP, whilst the crowded move-set also limits your type coverage. It's far from the perfect move-set, but it has the ingredients to be a real menace in the right hands.
EVs and Nature:
Focus Punch, Superpower, Hydro Pump, Surf, Counter, Choice Band.
Focus Punch has gone unmentioned but it's a viable but awkward option. On the sweeping move-sets, the charge-up turn is the real sinker for it (you'll rarely be given the opportunity to strike unhindered), whereas the Substitute move-set provides a lot of synergy for it but suffers from necessitating all four of the moves stated (well, four of the five if you count Flail and Return separately). There is room for it on a Choice Band move-set, or even a move-set revolving around Sub-Punch, but on the given move-sets, it simply doesn't fit.
Superpower is another interesting unmentioned option. The real killer is that it drops your Attack stat (dropping your Defence stat is a minor hindrance in comparison), making all the hard work spent on boosting your Attack stat with Dances seem rather wasteful. Yet again, there is room for it on a Choice set, but I'll get to that later.
Hydro Pump and Surf are options geared more for the Standard tier. Were you to use one of the two, they'd provide useful options to launch at Skarmory and Forretress, as well as other Pokémon with a hugely lopsided defensive distribution.
Counter is one of those one-off “free KO” moves that a lot of Pokémon have thanks to the move tutors. From a gimmicky perspective, you could try it in place of Substitute, counting on the received hit to bring Feraligatr's HP low enough to activate the Salac but not so low that it faints, but as noted, it's gimmicky (and very unreliable).
Feraligatr has the stats and move-pool to pull off a Choice Band move-set. The real question is simply “Why would you when you can Dance?” Feraligatr has two of the best boosting options available to physical sweepers, and it seems a dire waste to overlook that potential in favour of a move-set that can be accomplished by many lesser (and many better) Pokémon than Feraligatr.
It's a recurring theme of these UU PotWs that I say “this isn't straightforward”, or something to that effect. It holds true again. Whilst Feraligatr is beatable, I wouldn't say there's many Pokémon out there that can contain it, or for that matter any Pokémon that can waltz in and counter it comfortably.
You have the super-bulky Weezing who can take a hit and burn away Feraligatr's sweeping hopes, but it'll struggle with the Sub-Dancer. Ice Punch stings a bit but Tangrowth can also do a satisfactory job, and the same can be said for Meganium, Venusaur and the other assorted “Bulky Grass” types with varying levels of success (needless to say, they need to be capable of OHKOing Feraligatr, since none of them can handle two boosted Ice Punches). Ludicolo is a very good counter in the absence of Return thanks to its 4x Water resistance. The only real downside is that Ludicolo isn't really built for the physical walling job and in the absence of a nice EV spread, Ice Punch can leave a heavy mark despite lacking a desirable super-effective hit.
There's not much else to mention. Obviously, some status disruption with paralysis or burn can go a long way. You can also overcome the Swords Dancer with faster attackers, but it's slightly trickier getting them into play; and of course, there's plenty of other game-play normalities that have gone unmentioned that can tilt things in your balance. It's a bit of a difficult Pokémon to manage, but most Pokémon that need to boost their way to success are manageable and Feraligatr is no exception.
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