Slaking, The Lazy Pokémon. Slaking spends all day lying down and lolling about. It eats grass growing within its reach. If it eats all the grass it can reach, this Pokémon reluctantly moves to another spot. Wherever Slaking lives, rings of over a yard in diameter appear in grassy fields. They are made by the Pokémon as it eats all the grass within reach while lying prone on the ground. Hordes of Slaking gather around trees when fruits come into season. They wait around patiently for ripened fruits to fall out of the trees. The world's laziest Pokémon. When it is lounging, it is actually saving energy for striking back. ť
One of the shocks that I came across recently was to see Slaking ranked by Smogon as an NU (Never-used) Pokémon. Sadly, this isn't really an unfair classification either, since its usage has fallen significantly. Either way, what was once a comfortable OU (Overused) Pokémon has taken a major fall from grace in the generation shift. The 4th generation gave lots of Pokémon many new options, whilst Slaking is a predictable one-trick-pony that's pretty much unchanged.
Its plus points come in the form of its Base Stats, equal in total to Groudon and Kyogre and fairly well distributed. Indeed, that Base 160 Attack stat means Slaking could give Godzilla a run for its money when it comes to destroying downtown Tokyo (or Manhattan, if you watched the American one). Slaking's downside is its ability, something very much intended by Gamefreak to make this a unique beast. Every other turn, Slaking “loafs”, also known as doing nothing and in competitive terms, giving your opponent a free turn. This is why Slaking is a one-trick-pony. It launches a nice smashing attack on the Tokyo Tower (or the Empire State Building) but will loaf around whilst Godzilla takes out the Rainbow Bridge (or Madison Square Garden). A good start, but more than enough time for Mothra (or Jean Reno) to show up and take out the large sloth-ape-gorilla thing.
Weird and out of place Godzilla comparisons aside, Slaking does one thing and one thing only. It hits its opponents very, very hard, and then switches out and tries to repeat that process. It has enough devastating power for the Overused environment, but the hindrance of its ability means it'll probably live out its 4th Gen days in the Underused environment.
Truant: makes Slaking do nothing every other turn. The upside is this resets every time you switch out, so you can make a move and switch, allowing you to repeat the process. This ability pretty much forces you to equip a Choice item, since you're switching out constantly anyway.
It's worth noting this ability can be Skill Swapped or ridded of by Worry Seed and the like, but that applies more to 2v2 play than 1v1 play.
Because Slaking will be switching around a lot, it's magnetically attracted to Choice items. Choice Band is the favourite, but Choice Scarf can't be ruled out for its devastating “revenge-killer” potential.
Return is your primary source of damage. Reliable, powerful and able to rip giant holes in anything that stands in its path. Earthquake is an obvious tagalong to take out Rock and Steel types whilst Night Slash rounds out the coverage for Ghosts.
Your final move-slot is a bit of a filler. Pursuit is great for chasing down runners, especially since running is the instinct for any Pokémon who knows it's probable that they could get annihilated by the beastly power that Slaking possesses. Sucker Punch isn't tempting for the Scarf variant, but with a Band it's nice to have an option that allows you to strike first.
EVs and Nature:
Not much needs to be said here. Jolly can be considered for that extra little bump (especially in the Underused environment, where many Pokémon lie between the 299 and 328 Speed markers), but otherwise, it's 252/252 all the way.
Shadow Claw, Hammer Arm, Focus Punch, Fire Punch, Thunderpunch, Ice Punch, Slack Off, Amnesia, Bulk Up, Counter, Encore, Giga Impact.
Shadow Claw… Night Slash… same thing really. High critical-hit ratio, 70 Base Power, super-effective hit on Ghosts (and to a lesser extent, Psychics)… the main difference is that Night Slash hits Normal types and Shadow Claw doesn't (in exchange for a resistance trade-off against Fighting types). I prefer Night Slash to Shadow Claw for the simple reason that Night Slash will wipe out Farfetch'd*, whilst Shadow Claw won't.
*Farfetch'd is simply a stand-in example for any defensively weak Normal type that could humiliate Slaking.
Hammer Arm is a strong Fighting move, presenting a decent alternative to Earthquake with a similar kind of coverage (although Earthquake is more accurate and hits Ghost types, whilst Fighting types won't). Focus Punch mixes nicely with Choice Band and prediction, but remember, when you aren't accounting for resistances and weaknesses, Focus Punch has a weaker Base Power than a STAB Return.
Fire Punch is essential in the Standard environment for a super-effective hit on Skarmory and Bronzong, two Pokémon who resist Return and are immune to Earthquake (and neutral to Hammer Arm). If you do use Slaking in the Standard environment, make sure to carry this and simply choose between one of Night Slash, Pursuit and Sucker Punch, rather than having two of the three.
Thunderpunch and Ice Punch fit nicely with Choice Scarf in the Standard environment, again for the “revenge-killing.” Thunderpunch slaughters Gyarados, whilst Ice Punch slaughters Salamence, with some others to account for amongst that type coverage. When you don't account for the 4x weaknesses (or Normal resistances), a super-effective Thunder/Ice Punch is weaker than a neutral Return.
Slack Off, Amnesia, Bulk Up, Counter and Encore are all nice moves that would work great if Slaking didn't have Truant. The only time when this occurs is when another Pokémon changes its ability. Having this within your own control only applies to 2v2 play, so unless you're using Slaking in a 2v2 strategy, leave these moves alone.
I'm mentioning Giga Impact for a similar “leave it alone” reason. You hit, then you lose a turn recharging…the same turn you'd lose because of Truant, right? Yes, it is, with one major problem - you cannot switch. This leaves Slaking completely exposed. Giga Impact KOs, they switch in Primeape*, and Slaking has to sit there recharging. It gets no choice about it, and sadly for the Ape-Sloth-Zilla, in a scenario like that, it's pretty much guaranteed to be KOed. Don't be blinded by that extra Base Power, it isn't worth it.
*For the sake of example.
In regards to the Underused environment, I'm going to say a flat out “tough luck, nothing.” There isn't a single Pokémon from the Underused tier that won't be brutally torn to pieces by at least one of Slaking's moves. The trick is to out-predict it… if you can. When Return comes flying forward, send in Aggron; when Shadow Claw strikes, send in… Aggron again; and when Earthquake strikes, turn to Farfetch'd. These are just examples, of course, but resistances (or immunities) mixed with good defensive stats make for the ideal switch-ins.
In the Standard environment, aside from just prediction, you do have some options that do well in almost all situations. Skarmory and Bronzong will only suffer a mere 55-63% and 60-70% damage respectively. Skarmory is the better off of the pair since it can Roost off the potential Fire Punch damage, whereas Bronzong doesn't have a reliable recovery move. Spiritomb takes 47-55% damage from Earthquake and Dusknoir takes 60-70% damage from Shadow Claw. Hippowdon only takes around 55% damage from Return, and can happily use Slack Off. Gliscor takes a similar 55-65% damage, gets a bonus Earthquake immunity and does a similar recovery trick with Roost (just beware of the occasional Ice Punch). Just as a note about these percentages, all of these damage calculations assume a Band-Adamant Slaking and +Defence 252/252 HP/Def EV spreads from the defending Pokémon.
As a final note, Truant is stopped cold by Protect and to a lesser extent, Substitute (from a faster Pokémon). Not really a counter but if you get fortunate enough to match up Slaking with a Pokémon equipped with one of these two, you can humiliate it.
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