Tapu Koko, The Land Spirit Pokémon. This guardian deity of Melemele is brimming with curiosity. It summons thunderclouds and stores their lightning inside its body. It confuses its enemies by flying too quickly for the eye to follow. It has a hair-trigger temper but forgets what made it angry an instant later.
Hello everyone and welcome to our latest addition to the Pokémon of the Week saga. This week we'll be telling you a little bit about Melemele's islands very own guardian Tapu Koko. It's one the first Pokémon you see once you embark on our latest adventure in this universe, and it literally saves you and Nebby from falling to your doom. Talk about making an entrance. Besides the cover legends I can't think of a 'mon more iconic to Gen 7 and Alola than our friend Koko to be honest. On the competitive side of things it has a fantastic ability which activates Electric Terrain immediately when Koko is chosen for battle. Which powers up all Electric moves by 50 percent. I can't stress to you enough how amazing and perfect that ability is. Koko's SpA power is good, but it's not the greatest so it takes your otherwise average Thunderbolts and boosts their power to incredible heights. It's also very fast outspeeding nearly all non Mega Evolutions that aren't wearing a Choice Scarf, and it's movepool is just diverse enough to take on most things in the metagame. I do wish it had a better physical movepool since it's Base Atk power is much higher than its SpA, but overall Tapu Koko is easily my favorite thing to come out of Gen 7 so far.
Electric Surge: Activates Electric Terrain for 5 turns when the Pokémon enters a battle. Which means you get a 50 percent powerboost to all Electric Moves, and it prevents 'mons from falling/staying asleep. As long as they're on the ground that is. In addition to that 'mons with the ability Surge Surfer have their Speed doubled so it pairs really well with things like Alolan Raichu. Plus because it's free and activates Electric Terrain automatically when you switch Tapu Koko into battle you don't have to waste an extra moveslot. This is a fantastic ability.
A Watchful Protector
This is likely the set you'll see most people using. With Magnet + the Electric Terrain boost + STAB means you're looking at some freakishly powerful Thunderbolts and Volt Switch pivots without the recoil/diminishing returns that goes along running items like Life Orb. Hidden Power Ice will help you 2HKO special defense oriented Zygrardes and 1HKO Landorus-T after Stealth Rock damage. U-turn is a must because otherwise Dugtrio says hi and then proceeds to stomp all over your strategy for the match. Plus it's good for scouting and wearing down Koko's common checks.
Cuckoo For Koko
This is what I've been using. The first slot has to go to Thunderbolt obviously because it's you're most powerful viable stab move, and it's also going to hit really hard thanks to the boost from Electric Terrain. Dazzling Gleam is your secondary stab, and it'll help you take out unwanted guests like Kyurem-B and Latias/Latios. Grass Knot is there to take care of party crashers like Gastrodon and Hippowdon. Last but not least we have Hidden Power Fire to wreck things like Magnezone, Ferrothorn, and Excadrill. Also just as a side note I much prefer Expert Belt over Choice Specs on this set because of the lack of recoil and power boost from hitting your enemy's mons super effectively. Plus if you play your cards right you can trick your opponent into thinking you're running Choice Specs once they realize you're not running the standard offensive pivot or calm mind sets and maybe even get in a surprise KO or two. However that's just a personal preference of mine. Choice Specs is probably more consistent. Anyways I had a lot of fun with this set, and I'll hope you at least try it.
- Taunt: It's a solid other option that can help you cripple your enemy's more defensive 'mons. However you're much better off just pivoting with Volt Switch or U-turn and chipping away at their HP, and then sending out something that can overpower your opponent's walls immediately if at all possible.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Tapu Koko was one of the most hyped Pokemon leading up to the 2017 VGC season, and so far, it has not disappointed. With its base 130 speed that makes it one of the fastest Pokemon in the format and a great offensive typing, Tapu Koko has had a lot of success early in the circuit. While its high physical attack is not utilized as much due to a shallow movepool and the presence of Intimidate on so many teams, Tapu Koko's special attack is still solid, and its electric moves really can pack a punch thanks to its ability. Koko is great as a lead, or late in a game to clean things up, and has been very useful in taking out bulky Pokemon like Celesteela (especially in the first few weeks of the season) and Tapu Fini, who has come on more in recent weeks.
One of the most common sets in the format, but a very strong one. A Timid nature with maximum speed utilizes Tapu Koko's blazing speed, and max attack with a Life Orb makes it hit very hard. Electric Surge is the only ability available, but a great one for Tapu Koko in increasing its electric attacks, and can support the team by doing the same and preventing anything on the ground from falling asleep.
Thunderbolt is Tapu Koko's strongest reliable electric attack, and combined with the STAB, Life Orb, and Terrain boosts, it can really put a hurt on opponents. Dazzling Gleam is Koko's only fairy move, and although it doesn't hit as hard as say Tapu Lele's Moonblast, it can still do solid spread damage. Discharge is necessary to work around Lightning Rod Pokemon that may try to keep opponents like Celesteela safe, and even with the spread damage, it can hit pretty hard thanks to Electric Terrain. Protect is a necessity on most Pokemon in doubles to stall out opponents' speed control, absorb double targets, or even lesson the damage from an incoming Z move.
Similarly to the Life Orb set, this set with Choice Specs aims to hit as hard as possible. The Specs sets is even stronger though, and does open up another moveslot for a 4th move since Protect is not needed. Once again the spread aims to hit hard and fast, but a Modest nature can be used over a Timid one to further maximize damage output, especially since there are only a couple Pokemon (in particular, the no-so-common Salazzle) that will outspeed Koko if it was Modest instead of Timid. Speed-tying Aerodactyl or other Tapu Koko is good, but should it not be as important to the team, Modest can really make a difference in battle.
Thunderbolt is still the best electric move, especially with the Electric Terrain boost. Discharge is very strong spread damage, and helps get around redirection or Lightning Rod. Dazzling Gleam, its best fairy STAB, can especially hit Pokemon like Garchomp (expecting to safely take an electric move) on the switch-in, threatening the KO on the next turn. The final slot can be a few things, but Hidden Power Fire or Ice are the best options typically. HP Fire can OHKO any Kartana that is not holding a Focus Sash. HP Ice can OHKO non-Assault Vest Garchomp and Salamence, which Dazzling Gleam cannot achieve with spread damage, and also just provides good coverage alongside Thunderbolt.
While not as common as the first set, this one adds some utility to Tapu Koko's role on a team, while still being able to be a threat. The spread remains essentially the same, though there is not as much diversity in moves. Thunderbolt is still the preferred electric move. Hidden Power Ice compliments electric attacks very well, but Dazzling Gleam is still a good alternative for a secondary STAB and spread move. Taunt is the main difference of this set. Tapu Koko's incredible speed makes it one the fastest Taunt users, and sometimes an unexpected one as well. Koko's Taunt can shut down certain setup strategies by pulling a surprise Taunt on boosting moves or setup strategies like Porygon2's Trick Room. Protect is arguably the best move in doubles still.
Wait...it can fly?
While nowhere near as common as the special set, a physical one still looks pretty good theoretically. With a higher attack stat than special attack, Koko's Wild Charge should do even more damage than a Thunderbolt. Unfortunately for Tapu Koko, it did not receive Play Rough, so it does not have a good physical fairy move, and Intimidate from Pokemon like Arcanine is very common. Combined with a shallow movepool physically, it has limited potential, but can still be fun to try. The EV spread maximizes its ability to hit fast with strong physical moves. The last 4 EVs and nature depend on whether you choose to run Dazzling Gleam as the 3rd attack or not. A Naive nature is fine as well on the Dazzling Gleam set, but Hasty ensures that an opposing Porygon2 with Download will receive an attack boost instead of a special attack boost. A way to decrease the opponent's physical attack like Intimidate or Aurora Veil can help make up the difference.
Wild Charge hits very hard in electric terrain, and Brave Bird is another strong physical attack, particularly against grass type opponents. U-turn is on the set mostly for utility on getting damage off and switching (and there are few other options), but Dazzling Gleam ensures that Koko can still hit with a fairy move. Protect is again very important on a doubles set.
Other Options & Team Ideas
-Focus Sash has decreased in usage since Tapu Koko appreciates the damage boosts, but still can be a good alternative to ensure that Koko gets an attack off.
Countering Tapu Koko
Well you won't need to be an Ultra Beast to stand up to Tapu Koko. It has quite a few answers that can deal with it. Alolan Marowak is immune to your Electric moves entirely, and it has little to no trouble switching in to your other coverage moves. It's also vulnerable to other Electric Type 'mons as well because they benefit from the Electric Terrain as well and they resist your stab moves. Any set that's not running Hidden Power Fire is going to have lots of trouble with Magnezone. Raikou is naturally pretty bulky and can take your stab and your coverage moves with ease and start setting up on you. Ground Types are probably going to be your biggest headache though. Hippowdon and Gastrodon will easily destroy any set that isn't running Grass Knot for coverage, and special defensive Excadrill can stand up to Hidden Power Fire variants. Don't forget about Bulky Grass Types though because short of running a mixed set with Brave Bird you're not going to do enough damage to things like Mega Venasaur and Amoonguss, but it's recoil is too high of a price to pay in my opinion so you're better off getting of there if you run into either of those mons. In short most of our friend Koko's counters are heavily defendant on what coverage moves it's or isn't packing at the time, so play it carefully and you should be ok.
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