Dialga, The Temporal Pokémon. A Pokémon spoken of in legend. It is said that time began moving when Dialga was born. It has the power to control time. It appears in Sinnoh-region myths as an ancient deity. It is said that time flows when Dialga's heart beats.
The deity of time has always been among the most threatening legendary Pokémon out there, and not just because it's responsible for the flow of time. The typing should be the first thing that stands out when looking at Dialga; Steel/Dragon is a very dangerous typing with a healthy share of resistances and only two weaknesses to Fighting and Ground, unlike most Dragon-types which are weak to Ice-type and the always threatening Fairy-type attacks. While its weaknesses are arguably more detrimental, its impressive set of resistances is complemented by fantastic bulk which makes it a very reliable answer to the majority of legendaries, and it stood as one of few legendaries that could attempt to keep the illustrious Mega Rayquaza in check. Dialga is also not lacking in the offense department, with an impressive Special Attack stat and further impressive movepool allowing it run a variety of sets. However, time has not been kind to its own deity, as the rise of more powerful and faster legendaries has slowly stripped it of its rank as one of the biggest threats. The biggest offender is naturally Primal Groudon, as tends to be the case, which is made further problematic by the fact that both reside in the cursed Base 90 Speed tier that many legendaries reside in. Furthermore, unlike most Steel-types, it has very little chance against a boosted Xerneas, so Dialga has trouble against two of the strongest legendaries already. Its incredible bulk is also shortchanged by the lack reliable recovery, so while it may be a sturdy tank, it isn't a deity without weaknesses. Don't let that be a reason to take it lightly though, it may not be the same top threat it was in Gen 4 but it still stands as one of the more versatile threats out there.
Pressure: When this Pokémon is hit by a move, the opponent's PP lowers by 2 rather than 1. Pressure may be a boring and uninteresting ability for a legendary, though draining PP faster is useful given that most legendary signature moves have low PP. It's also the only viable ability for Dialga in Singles so there's no reason not to use it there.
- Draco Meteor
Dialga's typing lends well to taking hits thanks to its numerous resistances, so a bulkier set works well. Draco Meteor is Dialga's primary STAB move and does impressive damage even without investment, which is particularly useful against Primal Groudon and opposing Dragon-types such as Mega Salamence and Rayquaza. Dialga is also bulky enough to function as an effective Stealth Rock setter, and more than capable of getting multiple opportunities to set it. Flash Cannon gives Dialga a secondary STAB move to use that doesn't lower its Special Attack and turn it into setup bait, and hits Xerneas and Mega Diancie. However, the damage against a boosted Xerneas isn't impressive. Fire Blast is an alternative that hit Steel-types such as Skarmory, Bronzong, Jirachi, and Ferrothorn, which complements the Dragon-type coverage. Thunder Wave allows Dialga to prevent dangerous sweepers such as Mega Salamence and Xerneas from running through the rest of its team and can punish a Latios or Latias attempting to Defog after Dialga has used Draco Meteor. Toxic allows it to put Primal Groudon on a timer, which is especially useful since Primal Groudon also lacks reliable recovery and doesn't have Leftovers to help it. This is also useful against threats that wall Dialga such as Blissey, Lugia, and Ho-Oh. Roar prevents Mega Gengar from trapping Dialga and can also deal with setup sweepers.
Maximum HP and Special Defense investment with a Calm nature makes Dialga as specially bulky as possible, which takes advantage of the fact that most of its useful resistances are primarily special attack types. This also allows it to take a Moonblast from boosted Xerneas and stop it with Thunder Wave or Roar, though Dialga cannot survive a boosted Focus Blast. A little bit of Speed investment can be used to creep above other defensive threats since there are several threats in this Speed range; 12 Speed EVs is a popular benchmark that doesn't sacrifice much bulky while allowing Dialga to outspeed Mega Diancie before it Mega Evolves, though this is less necessary if you drop Flash Cannon. Pressure is useful for draining PP faster since this Dialga is bulky enough to take several hits, and actually has an effect in Singles unlike Telepathy. Shuca Berry allows Dialga to take a hit from Primal Groudon and makes it a reliable check to Earthquake Mega Salamence. Dialga isn't really meant to wall teams so the lack of Leftovers recovery doesn't hurt too much. However, Leftovers gives Dialga some added longevity since it lacks any other form of reliable recovery.
- Draco Meteor
If switching into strong special attackers is less necessary, Dialga can take on a more offensive approach. Draco Meteor is Dialga's best STAB move and does huge damage to most foes that aren't Fairy-types or Steel-types. Flash Cannon is a secondary STAB move that doesn't lower Dialga's Special Attack and hits Fairy-types such as Xerneas and Mega Diancie, while also hitting Tyranitar and Rock Arceus harder than Draco Meteor. Fire Blast rounds out Dialga's coverage well by allowing it to hit Steel-types such as Ferrothorn, Bronzong, Jirachi and Skarmory. Dialga doesn't need a fourth offensive move so it can still function as a Stealth Rock setter due to its acceptable natural bulk. Earth Power can be used to hit Primal Groudon without worrying about Special Attack drops, though it has almost no use beyond this since Rock-types are better handled by Flash Cannon. Thunder gives Dialga a way to hit Ho-Oh since it can switch in safely otherwise due to its huge Special Defense, and also hits Primal Kyogre.
Maximum Special Attack investment with a Modest nature allows Dialga to hit as hard as possible, and the Speed boost from Timid doesn't help much comparatively. With 12 Speed EVs, Dialga outspeeds Mega Diancie before it Mega Evolves in the event that it doesn't use Protect, while the rest is placed in HP to increase Dialga's bulk. Full Speed investment is less useful for the same reason Timid isn't ideal, so it's better to take advantage of its bulk and typing. Shuca Berry allows Dialga to take a hit from Primal Groudon and Earthquake Mega Salamence, making it more difficult to take down in one hit since Fighting-type moves are considerably less common in formats with legendaries. Life Orb can give Dialga some extra power, though this sacrifices Dialga's longevity further and clashes a bit with the high HP investment.
- A Choice Scarf set is viable and has considerable surprise factor since most opponents don't expect Dialga to be fast. This also allows to Dialga to function as a sleep absorber with Sleep Talk. However, locking into Dragon-type moves becomes incredibly dangerous since it gives Xerneas guaranteed setup, which is a significant drawback.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Dialga was last legal to use in VGC way back in 2010, but it has returned in 2016 to perform a similar role. The ancient deity of time is blessed with a fantastic defensive typing, allowing it to be one of the best Trick Room setters in the format. While it can't carry a whole team to victory on its own, it's a reliable, balanced Pokemon that is definitely worth the consideration of being one of the two restricted legends on a team. .
It's 5 o'clock somewhere, time for Trick Room!
Telepathy is currently only legal for VGC through an event, which locks Dialga into a Modest nature. Telepathy allows Dialga to avoid Earthquake from its teammate, most notably Landorus-T, who often run Explosion next Dialga as well. Throughout VGC 2016, Choice Band Landorus has been a common lead next to Dialga. Intimidate further strengthens Dialga's bulk against physical attackers, and Landorus could either U-Turn out, or simply use Explosion to get massive damage off (and a free switch in to a sweeper) while Dialga sets up Trick Room. If there are no spread moves that damage a teammate on the team, Pressure is the preferred ability. While it is nearly impossible to PP stall in this format, Pressure can potentially help determine speed tiers of opponent's Pokemon based on the order in which abilities activate, and will at least allow Dialga the option to run a Quiet nature if it is on a dedicated Trick Room team. Sitrus Berry further increases Dialga's bulk.
Flash Cannon and Dragon Pulse are STAB moves that utilize Dialga's high special attack stat. Along with its great typing, these two moves can allow it to beat almost any dragon and Xerneas, provided that you stop a Geomancy boost on the latter. Trick Room is one of Dialga's main selling points. With its great typing and bulk, it typically has no trouble setting up Trick Room for slow, bulky Primals to sweep. While Protect is still amazing in doubles, Dialga, like many other great Trick Room setters, may not necessarily need it due to its great bulk, allowing for a coverage move to be in the 4th slot. Flamethrower is typically the most common coverage move, allowing Dialga to beat Ferrothorn, a check to both Trick Room and one of Dialga's frequent teammates, Primal Kyogre (just make sure Primal Kyogre's ability isn't active if you use it!).
-Shuca Berry is one alternative to Sitrus Berry that performs a similar role, as it halves the damage from Primal Groudon's Precipice Blades or Earth Power, two of the few attacks that can do massive damage to Dialga. Lum Berry can absorb a Dark Void from Smeargle while Dialga sets up Trick Room.
You'd think that a being that can control time itself would be nigh impossible to take down, but thankfully it's not that complicated. As with all other Steel-types, Primal Groudon's dominance is a detriment to Dialga and will always give it a difficult time regardless of whether or not Dialga is holding a Shuca Berry. While Primal Groudon generally does not take a Draco Meteor well, it's usually bulky enough to beat out Dialga and will almost always be something you have on a team with legendaries regardless. Ground Arceus works similarly though it's less effective against the common specially defensive Dialga, though it has reliable recovery and much greater special bulk to take whatever Dialga throws at it. While less common than Primal Groudon, Fighting-types such as Mega Mewtwo X, Mega Lucario and Mega Blaziken all easily outspeed and OHKO Dialga more reliably since Dialga is unlikely to run Chople Berry in favor of Shuca Berry, though all three of these face opportunity cost when compared to generally better Megas. Dialga also has no way to break through specially bulky foes such as Blissey and Lugia unless it runs the rare physical moves, though they can only force it or chip away at it very slowly out since Dialga can't be poisoned. Similarly, Ho-Oh's huge Special Defense and resistance to most of its common moves makes it a safe switch-in to Dialga, fearing only the occasional Thunder or Thunder Wave. Meanwhile Sacred Fire and Earthquake do huge damage back, with a Sacred Fire burn eating away at Dialga's lack of reliable recovery. While Primal Kyogre is also not a fan of Thunder, it also doesn't mind anything that Dialga does aside from Toxic and wear it down easily with its own moves, such as Scald on more defensive sets. With all of this in mind, the most important thing to keep in mind when facing Dialga is its lack of recovery. Even if you don't have many good answers to Dialga, it's not difficult to wear it down. But really if you're using a serious team in Singles, chances are you'll at least have Primal Groudon, so having at least one answer to the deity of time should not be too difficult.
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