Hitmontop, The Handstand Pokémon. Hitmontop spins on its head at high speed, all the while delivering kicks. This technique is a remarkable mix of both offense and defense at the same time. The Pokémon travels faster spinning than it does walking. It fights while spinning like a top. The centrifugal force boosts its destructive power by 10. If you are enchanted by its smooth, dance-like kicks, you may get a closer experience with one than you'd like.
If there was an award for the strangest fighting type, Hitmontop would probably be right up there. While its cousins Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee were given obvious punching and kicking fighting styles, apparently Game Freak decided it’d make perfect sense to give Hitmontop the ability to fight by spinning on its head. Despite not making a whole lot of sense, Hitmontop has managed to carve itself a niche nonetheless, as it can function as a support Pokemon, an offensive Pokemon, and even a bulky defensive Pokemon. Its ability to spin is not purely aesthetic, as it has access to the coveted Rapid Spin to get rid of your foes hazards while keeping your own in play. Its access to things like Fake Out, Wide Guard, and Intimidate made it quite the star in Double Battles for a time as well. Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for Hitmontop. The transition to Gen 6 did nothing to help Hitmontop, while in turn giving it new threats that make its job harder. A massive power creep with the introduction of Mega Evolutions means that it can’t take hits as easily as it might have hoped, especially since its low base 50 HP will always leave a lot to be desired. A lack of reliable recovery outside of leftovers also prevents it from achieving the defensive potential it would love to have. A new fairy type weakness is a thorn in its side as well, limiting the number of things that it can safely do its job against. However, Hitmontop still has its uses. Although it may be questionable how spinning on your head as a top can be considered a form of fighting, this spinning Pokemon has plenty of ways to make itself useful.
Intimidate: Upon entering battle, the opponent’s Attack lowers one stage. In a Double Battle, both opponents’ Attack are lowered. Pokémon with the Clear Body, Hyper Cutter, or White Smoke ability are unaffected. In a link battle, if both sides switch on the same turn, and first player sends out a Pokémon with Intimidate, the opponent’s Attack will be lowered before the opponent’s Pokémon switches. - Intimidate is such a great ability. The ability to lower your foe’s attack just by switching in gives you an immediate advantage, and one that persists even if you switch out. There aren’t many physical attackers that like having to eat an Intimidate, and in Doubles, its ability to affect both of your foe’s Pokemon is an easy way to gain an advantage. Such a great ability, indeed.
You Spin Me Right Round
It should be obvious that Hitmontop’s niche is related to its ability to spin, and to that end, it makes a solid utilizer of Rapid Spin to do its decent bulk and resistance to Stealth Rock. What sets Hitmontop apart from other users of Rapid Spin, however, is its access to Foresight. Foresight throws the idea of spinblocking out the window, by allowing Hitmontop to utilize Rapid Spin against ghost types. This is helpful if you really need to keep hazards off your side for things like Moltres, but don’t want to get rid of your own hazards via Defog. Sadly though, Foresight has a definite downside in that it becomes completely useless if your opponent’s team doesn’t have a ghost type. In that event, you can opt for another move such as Toxic instead. But more on that later. Unlike other Rapid Spinners such as Claydol, however, Hitmontop’s not entirely passive after it’s done spinning. With its decent attack and high-powered moves, Hitmontop can do a bit of damage if need be. Close Combat is its most reliable option, with perfect accuracy and high power. However, for those who don’t want to suffer the lowered defenses that Close Combat brings with it, which has some merit on a bulky set, High Jump Kick is the only other alternative. However, High Jump Kick does have the unfortunate consequence of losing half of your HP if the attack doesn’t land, which includes misses, ghost types, and Protect. On the plus side, Foresight can remedy the ghost type issue slightly, but it still doesn’t save you if they switch into High Jump Kick. Despite the defense drops, Close Combat tends to be the move of choice due to reliability. The final moveslot has a bit of a choice involved; Hitmontop can opt for Sucker Punch or Mach Punch to give itself a little bit of priority, but without any attack investment, they won’t exactly hit all that hard. To that end, Toxic is also an option, given it can wear down things that Hitmontop might otherwise have trouble with such as Tangrowth. If Hitmontop opts not for Foresight if you feel like you’re not afraid of ghost types blocking your spin, you can pack both Toxic and a priority move as well.
The nature and EVs maximize Hitmontop’s physical bulk, while also minimizing Stealth Rock damage. Intimidate is the cornerstone of this set, as it causes Hitmontop to laugh at numerous physical attackers such as Emboar and Cobalion. Leftovers is always the preferred item, due to the fact that Hitmontop has no other form of recovery, and tends to get worn down without it.
-Assault Vest is an interesting option for Hitmontop, as it bolsters Hitmontop’s special bulk, which combined with Intimidate can allow Hitmontop to take more punishment than you’d expect from both sides of the spectrum. However, the loss of leftovers can make it more susceptible to being worn down since you’ll be without any recovery of your own, and of course you forgo your ability to use things such as Foresight and Toxic.
Double & Triple Battle Options
Fake Out, Intimidate, Wide/Quick Guard, Feint, Helping Hand... Hitmontop has A LOT of handy tools built for supporting its partner while at the same time still providing offensive pressure. One can even drop intimidate for Technician to take advantage of the low Base Power moves it has at its disposal including Mach Punch. The thing is, Hitmontop is a pure fighting type in a game where Fairies, Talonflame and Mega Salamence exist. It's tough for a Hitmontop right now, but not enough to push it into obscurity.
The EVs are to outrun Tyranitar of a similar nature, while hitting as hard as possible when Hitmontop does attack and the 68 HP is because base 50 is terrible (Even Venonat has more HP), so by investing in HP one is able to take advantage of Hitmontop's base 95 Physical Defense and base 110 Special Defense as natural bulk. The Eject Button combos well with Intimidate and Fake Out, it also provides some momentum for your team. Close Combat is there for obvious reasons. The third slot is for supporting the team. If you've Charizard, Volcarona, Talonflame and Vivillion on your team it might not be a bad idea to use Wide Guard over other supportive moves in this slot. The last slot can be filler, as Detect is redundant with Fake Out AND Eject Button. Feint is a nice tech that more or less ensures that your partner's attack goes through without complications. It also has higher priority than Mach Punch or Gale Wings Brave Bird so if the opposing Talonflame has a sliver of health left it's still possible to knock it out.
Ideal partners for Hitmontop will spook the Ghost types away. Aegislash isn't a bad option and neither is Bisharp. Aegislash will love free turns from Fake Out and Bisharp hates hitting into Protects, as frail as it is. Both do need to be cautious of Will-O-Wisp however. Hitmontop's prime years were before Generation 6 arrived. It was featured on many powerful teams in previous VGC seasons, TopOgre and TopMoth were both things to prepare for. Today however Hitmontop seems to be going they way of the niche Pokemon. Until Pokemon like Sylveon and Mega Salamence lose popularity (fat chance) Hitmontop may be far and few between. When you do see on in team preview though, don't underestimate it. It may not have Sucker Punch anymore, but it still fills the supportive role it did many years ago that landed it in many top players teams. Pun not intended.
Countering Hitmontop in the traditional sense can be a bit counter-intuitive. As its role is to spin away hazards, Ghost types to block its Rapid Spin might seem like a no-brainer, but Foresight can throw a wrench in that plan, and can cause certain ghost types, such as Doublade and Spiritomb, to go from an immunity to Fighting to a weakness to it instead. That said, just because it can spin with ease doesn’t stop other Pokemon from having a field day with it. In tiered play where Hitmontop is most common, Cofagrigus tends to be the best ghost type answer to Hitmontop; it’s bulky enough to not care about Hitmontop’s attacks even after Foresight, and although it hates Toxic, it can burn Hitmontop with Will-o-Wisp to wear it down and prevent it from having any offensive presence. Jellicent is in the same boat as Cofagrigus, although it’s a little bit less bulky on the physical side. Poison types such as Dragalge and Amoongus are immune to Toxic, resist Close Combat, and have enough bulk to generally not care about what Hitmontop throws at them. Dragalge can then proceed to obliterate Hitmontop with a Specs Adaptability Draco Meteor, while Amoongus can throw out a Spore to put it to sleep. Both of these Pokemon are noteworthy for pressuring switch-ins if Hitmontop tries to switch as well, since not much likes eating Dragalge’s nuke-level attacks or a Spore from Amoongus. Aromatisse doesn’t really care about any of Hitmontop’s attacks, and can dispatch Hitmontop without too much difficulty, but it’s not a fan of Toxic. Reuniclus brutalizes Hitmontop all day long, as it’s bulky enough to take most of Hitmontop’s attacks and Magic Guard makes it immune to Toxic. Braviary can demolish Hitmontop with Brave Bird, and thanks to Defiant, Intimidate will actually give it an attack boost. Mega Pidgeot has to be a little wary switching in as standard Pidgeot, and hates Toxic, but will absolutely shred Hitmontop with Hurricane. Moltres is largely in the same boat, although it doesn’t mind Close Combat. Gligar and Golbat are both plenty bulky due to Eviolite, resist Hitmontop’s STAB, are immune to Toxic (although the former is through an ability), and can wear Hitmontop down. Finally, Cresselia may hate Toxic, but otherwise it can deal with Hitmontop fairly easily, and set up screens to support its team while Hitmontop does very little in return. Anything that can slap poison or burn on Hitmontop tends to cripple it, since the passive damage greatly limits its survivability, and the burn destroys any kind of damage output it hopes to have. /p>
In formats with fewer restrictions, Hitmontop has even more problems. The numerous powerful fairy types, such as Sylveon, Clefable, and Mega Gardevoir really do not care about much of anything that Hitmontop can do to them, while easily 1HKOing HItmontop with Pixilate Hyper Voice or Moonblast. Numerous other powerful special attackers can rip through Hitmontop with ease, such as Mega Charizard Y, Latios, Latias, Landorus, and so on. Mega Metagross fears very little from Hitmontop due to its supreme bulk and immunity to Toxic, and its standard form’s Clear Body prevents Intimidate from being a problem for it. Gothitelle can easily trap Hitmontop with Shadow Tag and soundly dispatch of it with its STAB. Anything that burns Hitmontop, such as (Mega) Sableye or Rotom-W, severely limits both its survivability and damage output. Finally, at the end of the day, due to its lack of recovery outside of Leftovers, even though it may be able to mitigate physical damage with Intimidate, it really can’t continue to take repeated hits. Things like Azumarill and Talonflame still 2HKO it after Intimidate, and all they fear in return is Toxic. Just hit it hard and wear it down, and it won’t be able to recover. Ironically, the very hazards that it tries to spin away can help wear it down, because despite resisting Stealth Rock, it’s still fully affected by Spikes and Toxic Spikes.
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