Shedinja, The Shed Pokémon. A discarded bug shell that came to life. Peering into the crack on its back is said to steal one's spirit. A peculiar POKéMON that floats in air even though its wings remain completely still. The inside of its body is hollow and utterly dark. Shedinja's hard body doesn't move - not even a twitch.
Shedinja is a very unique Pokémon. It can be invincible and fragile at the same time, and it's designed to be an 'all or nothing' type of Pokémon. With just one hit point, it only takes a slight nudge to bring it down, but with the protection of Wonder Guard, sometimes that nudge is simply unavailable.
Shedinja fits into the competitive battling scene in a rather unusual way. It finds it nearly impossible to find a place in Standard (OU/Overused) battling, yet it manages to find some niche popularity in the Uber tier. The threat of Stealth Rock and Sandstorm damage are the main reasons for this irregularity. In the Standard tier, Stealth Rock is an almost guaranteed factor, whilst Sandstorm is quite common. In the Uber tier, Stealth Rock is relatively uncommon, whilst Sandstorm is rarely ever a factor (with Groudon and Kyogre frequently eliminating it from the battlefield).
Shedinja fails to make any kind of foothold in Standard battling, and unless a team is built in a way to compensate for its fragilities, Shedinja is more of a burden than an aid on a Standard team. Even in the UU environment it can find itself struggling a bit. The Uber tier is where it finds its value. Shedinja can find itself immune to entire move-sets at times, and whilst it still needs to be used with some caution, it's in this environment where it shines brightest
Wonder Guard: is what makes Shedinja unique. Shedinja can only be hit by super-effective attacks and indirect damage. The downside is that indirect damage is rather commonplace, and includes Spikes, Stealth Rock, Toxic, Will-o-Wisp, and weather damage (Sandstorm and Hail).
Wonder Guard can't be Skill Swapped or Role Played, shooting down any Double Battle strategies with that in mind. It can however, be Traced by an opposing Pokémon with this ability. Whilst it's an uncommon situation, it is something to be aware of.
Despite not being listed in Shedinja's Pokédex entry, Shedinja can learn one of Ninjask's moves. This happens as a result of evolving Nincada at the precise level that Ninjask would learn a new move, and allowing it to learn this move immediately upon evolving. Shedinja, the by-product of the evolution, is left with the same move-set as Ninjask, including any new move additions it made upon evolving. As a result, Shedinja can pick up one (and only one*) desirable move from Ninjask's move-pool.
*The exception being at Level 20, where Shedinja can pick up Double Team, Fury Cutter and Screech, although Screech is the only worthwhile addition from that trio.
Swords Dance / Status Support
- Swords Dance
Aside from its many immunities, the only other noteworthy attribute Shedinja packs is a decent Attack stat. Swords Dance bolsters this stat further, making it a relatively threatening attacker, although its low Speed hinders its sweeping attempts. Shadow Sneak compensates for this low Speed, and after a Swords Dance, it's capable of doing some decent damage (despite possessing low base power). X-Scissor is the most powerful STAB move at its disposal, and its super-effective coverage against Psychic and Dark types is quite valuable in the Uber environment.
Shedinja packs a rather shallow move-pool, and will usually find itself turning to a status move to perform as a useful filler. Will-o-Wisp poses a large threat to physical sweepers, whilst Toxic is more of a threat to defensive Pokémon. Shedinja doesn't wield a huge offensive threat, so being able to deter switch-ins with a status is a useful aid to its repertoire.
Since Burn or Poison damage is enough to put an end to Shedinja, Lum Berry is worth some serious consideration. Sometimes an opponent will carry one of those moves by surprise, so it acts as a helpful insurance. Since any direct hit will be a KOing move, Focus Sash is also worth the investment. Once again, it's an insurance against any 'surprise attack'.
Choice Band suits it comfortably as well, sparing it the one-turn set-up of Swords Dance and giving it a good Attack stat to work with from the get-go. X-Scissor is there for its STAB (and very good Uber type coverage), whilst Shadow Sneak is favoured for its priority modifier, compensating for Shedinja's low Speed. Shadow Claw also comes into the fold for this move-set. Once again, it packs STAB and wonderful type coverage in the Uber environment.
The shallowness of Shedinja's move-pool starts to show at the last move-slot. Once again, it'll probably have to turn to a status move to provide a useful filler. Aerial Ace is another option, putting an end to Heracross (and some other Bugs and Fighters in the lower tiers), but with poor power and rather insignificant type coverage, it hardly asserts itself as a Choice Band staple.
EVs and Nature:
Shedinja has no use for HP, Defence, Special Defence or Special Attack EVs, so the placement of its EVs is a pretty straightforward job. The only area of contention is its nature, but almost always, Adamant will take precedence over Jolly.
Jolly takes Shedinja from a potential 179 Speed to a 196 Speed. There aren't too many opponents of note between those Speed stats, and if anything, the only time to really consider Jolly is when Shedinja will have the support of Speed boosts (either Choice Scarf or Agility).
Agility, Choice Scarf, Protect, Grudge, Baton Pass, Natural Gift, Bug Bite, Thief, Heal Block.
Agility and Choice Scarf provide it with some boosting options to compensate for its awful Speed stat. The downside is that they clash with its Attack boosting options, meaning Shedinja's sweeping attempts will have to rely on Shedinja's Base Attack (and of course, it can't even turn to Life Orb for a boost, on account of the recoil).
Protect gives Shedinja a chance to scout what the opponent intends to throw at it and can stall out some additional Poison or Burn damage (assuming Shedinja carries a status attack).
Grudge drains all the PP out of a KOing attack. Using it successfully resigns Shedinja to fainting, but it can leave an opponent crippled, depending on what attack it catches. Low Speed makes this move a less attractive prospect, although pairing it with Agility can compensate for this weakness.
Despite having nothing to pass, Baton Pass is a useful move. It allows Shedinja to make its switch after the opponent has made a switch, allowing the Shedinja user to scout what Pokémon the opposition intends to use as their 'Shedinja counter'. Pairing a Baton Passing Shedinja with trappers such as Magnezone or Dugtrio allows for additional possibilities, presenting useful opportunities to destroy the opponent's counters.
Natural Gift is a worthwhile move, helping to compensate for the many gaps in Shedinja's type coverage. The Ice version (Ganlon Berry: Base 80 power) is very useful for its OHKO possibilities against 4x weak Dragon types, particularly Rayquaza. The downside is that it's a one-off move and it costs both a move-slot and an item slot.
Bug Bite can interfere with berry-based strategies, which aren't uncommon in the Uber environment. Thief is an option for similar reasons, although its use expands beyond interfering with berry-strategies. In exchange, its use is usually just 'one-off' (unless Shedinja steals an item that it can rid itself of, such as a Lum Berry), and stealing Leftovers is a waste, whilst Choice Specs or worse, Life Orb, is a hindrance.
Heal Block prevents the opponent from healing for five turns (although the effect fades when the opponent switches). This is mostly useful for stopping opponents who can Rest off Shedinja's status attacks, preventing them from beating Shedinja's stalling options.
As noted in the overview, it takes just one 'nudge' to bring Shedinja down. Unfortunately for Shedinja, that 'nudge' comes in many forms.
Firstly, there's direct damage. This one's pretty obvious, super-effective hits: Fire, Flying, Dark, Ghost and Rock moves. Mold Breaker also bypasses Wonder Guard, meaning all direct attacks (barring Normal and Fighting attacks, which it'll continue to be immune to) from Pokémon with that ability will score a KO. Future Sight and Doom Desire will also land, despite being of types that usually wouldn't affect Shedinja. Struggle damage will also affect Shedinja, as will Struggle recoil if Shedinja is forced to use Struggle.
There's also indirect damage. Poison and Burn damage will KO it, with the main sources being Toxic, Toxic Spikes and Will-o-Wisp. If Shedinja hits itself in confusion, it'll KO itself. It can also be KOed by Leech Seed damage. Entry Hazard damage (Spikes and Stealth Rock) or Weather damage (Hail or Sandstorm) will also KO it.
If Shedinja activates Sharpedo's Rough Skin, Drifblim's Aftermath or Liquid Ooze, it'll be KOed. If Shedinja is caught in Darkrai's 'Bad Dreams' ability, it'll be KOed. It's also exposed to Ghost-typed Curse damage and Nightmare. Like most Pokémon, it can also be KOed by Destiny Bond and Perish Song.
Finally, there's the 'unlikely things' that can KO Shedinja. Double-Edge recoil, Life Orb recoil, opponents equipped with a Jaboca or Rowap Berry and Sticky Barb damage.
Shedinja transcends battling tiers, finding frequent use with the Ubers, being welcomed in the Underused tier and seeing little use in the Standard environment. For the sake of neatness, I've split apart its counters into their separate tiers.
Despite not being Ubers themselves, Metagross, Scizor and Heracross make the odd showing in the Uber tier and pack Pursuit, which'll end Shedinja whether it runs or stays. Metagross and Scizor need to watch out for Will-o-Wisp, but Guts Heracross will happily suck up any status. Forretress can't do much to hit Shedinja, but it can throw up any of Spikes, Stealth Rock or Toxic Spikes, leaving an entry hazard that'll prevent Shedinja from making a repeat appearance (unless its team-mates help it out).
Once again, Metagross, Scizor and Heracross can hunt it down with Pursuit. In addition to that trio, there's also Spiritomb and Staraptor, although they have some status worries.
Hippowdon needs to watch out for status moves, but it can simply switch in and let its ability kick in for a KO. The same can be said for Abomasnow and Tyranitar, but they need to be extra careful with their switches, since they're both weak to Bug moves.
Probopass, Steelix and Aggron pack the right moves and resistances but have Will-o-Wisp worries. Torkoal, Ninetales and Magcargo have a similar story, only they'll dislike Toxic.
In general, the recurring theme is that Shedinja is slaughtered by Pursuit and needs its team-mates support if any entry hazards are thrown up. Being a rather slow Pokémon, faster sweepers make short work of it (or at least force it to switch), and since it only packs a mild offensive threat, its attacking attempts can be managed rather comfortably.
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