Mienshao, The Martial Arts Pokémon. It wields the fur on its arms like a whip. Its arm attacks come with such rapidity that they cannot ever be seen. Using the long fur on its arms like whips, it launches into combo attacks that, once started, no one can stop.
Generation 5 was jokingly referred to by some as the “Fighting Generation”, due in no small part to the influx of Fighting type Pokemon introduced, with a staggering 16 new fighting types. Among them was the fighting ermine, Mienshao. Unlike many previous fighting types, Meinshao had little to no bulk to speak of, making up for it with a high speed stat of base 105 that had been uncommon amongst fighting types, along with a potent base 125 attack, awesome abilities in Regenerator and Reckless, and a powerful High Jump Kick to abuse. Yet despite all these perks, Meinshao never really made an impact on standard play. Why? Because as good as its attack and speed are, it had to contend with the fact that the very same generation introduced faster fighting types as well; with Terrakion having base 108 Speed, Mienshao’s base 105 didn’t seem quite as impressive in comparison. Even though Mienshao had quite a few tricks that its fellow fighting types didn’t, none of this was enough to really make a huge impact on standard play, so Mienshao was never able to become a top fighting type. However, if you think this means that Mienshao isn’t dangerous, then you’re dead wrong. Its speed and power are still top notch, and with Reckless, High Jump Kick turns into a base 156 power attack that’s sure to dent anything that’s not a Ghost. It may be frail and its reliance on High Jump Kick can backfire at times, but this furry fighting type is not something you want to take lightly.
Inner Focus: This Pokémon will not flinch. Does not prevent flinching with Focus Punch. - Inner Focus is not a good ability. Flinching is rare to the point of being a non-factor, such that this ability’s reliability is very low. Don’t bother using it, especially when Mienshao has such better options available to it.
Shao me your Moves!
-High Jump Kick
With a Choice Scarf attached, Mienshao is a frightening pivot and revenge killer, capable of outspeeding every single unboosted Pokemon (including Deoxys-S, just for the point of reference), while also outspeeding the myriad of base 100's at +1. High Jump Kick is Mienshao's main STAB, and although it has an unfortunate side effect of costing Mienshao half its HP should the move fail (such as through missing, Protect, or a Ghost Type), its base 130 power cannot be denied, as this move is what allows Mienshao to be as dangerous offensively as it is. Next, U-Turn works well on the Scarf set to act as a pivot if there's an obvious switch coming, which can help you force a double-switch for your opponent by U-Turning out on what they bring in. Knock Off is perhaps Mienshao's most valuable coverage move, as many of the Ghost types that love to switch in to try and troll High Jump Kick absolutely hate eating Knock Off. Things like Chandelure are 1HKO'ed outright by Knock Off, while things like Doublade absolutely hate losing their item. For the final moveslot, Stone Edge is your best bet, as it destroys many of the Flying types who might try to switch in and deal with Mienshao.
Jolly Nature and 252 Speed EVs maximize Mienshao's speed, which is pretty much mandatory for every Mienshao set. 252 Attack EVs help to give Mienshao as much power as possible, while the remaining 4 EVs are placed into special defense. The item of choice (no pun intended) is obviously Choice Scarf, as the entire set is predicated on the speed that this item affords Mienshao, allowing it to be as potent a revenge killer as it is. In terms of ability, both Reckless and Regenerator are viable. Reckless affords Mienshao more power on its High Jump Kicks, which is good when you're already maximizing Mienshao's speed, while Regenerator can allow Mienshao to recover HP while it pivots out, and can help make High Jump Kick misses a little less fatal. Either one is a viable choice and it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
-High Jump Kick
For a slightly different albeit still similar approach, Mienshao can forgo its Choice Scarf to take on a wallbreaking role. While it cannot revenge kill as effectively, its power is superior. Fortunately, the movesets are pretty much the same. High Jump Kick is still Mienshao’s strongest STAB, which can put a serious dent in almost anything that’s not a Ghost type. However, those very same Ghost types absolutely hate being hit with Knock Off, which is exactly why its coverage is so valuable. Next, U-Turn remains a fantastic means of pivoting and scouting, especially on obvious switches. Finally, unlike the previous set, Mienshao has a few more options that are are viable on a Life Orb set. Fake Out is one such option, as it allows Mienshao to break Focus Sashes and Sturdy, and also put in some chip damage. However, Stone Edge tends to be more valuable for its coverage against fighting types. If you’re really feeling daring, Poison Jab can be an option to catch Fairy types off guard, but since many are bulky it’s only a 2HKO, so plan accordingly.
Once again, Jolly Nature with max speed EVs are mandatory to ensure Mienshao is as fast as possible. 252 Attack EVs helps to maximize Mienshao’s damage, while the remaining 4 EVs are put into special defense. Life Orb is the item of choice for this set due to the fact that it ramps Meinshao’s damage up by 30%, helping its already high attack be even more threatening. In terms of ability, both are viable for different reasons. Regenerator helps offset Life Orb’s main drawback, the recoil damage, by healing Mienshao any time it switches out. However, Reckless boosts High Jump Kick’s power to ridiculous levels; Life Orb Reckless High Jump Kick is so powerful that it can guarantee a 2HKO on max defense Skarmory without Stealth Rock damage, after leftovers recovery. Which you choose comes down to personal preference.
-Hidden Power Ice is a respectable option thanks to Mienshao’s decent special attack stat, which can allow it to muscle past things like Gliscor and Landorus-T, who otherwise stop Mienshao without much duress. You’ll want to use a Naive nature if you opt for this move.
Double, Triples & VGC Options
- Fake Out
Mienshao has plenty of tools designed specifically for use in Doubles, and particularly in VGC, it functions as a viable support Pokémon on teams that want something with more offensive presence than Smeargle without taking a Mega slot like Kangaskhan. Mienshao still faces competition from Weavile and Raichu though, which offer many of the same tools with more Speed. Fake Out is mandatory since being able to help give its partner a safer or free turn is incredibly useful in such a fast-paced format. Feint is another one of Mienshao's niches as a support, allowing it to break through a predicted Protect or Quick Guard to allow its teammate to hit the target anyway. Wide Guard differentiates Mienshao from other Fake Out users, protecting its team from spread moves which puts pressure on Xerneas, Groudon, and Kyogre attempting to use their respective spread moves, and is generally the preferred option here. Quick Guard is an alternative to block Fake Out and other priority moves from Thundurus, Talonflame, and Mega Rayquaza, though this isn't as useful on something that loses to these priority users anyway. Low Kick is Mienshao's most useful STAB move which is useful for hitting Mega Kangaskhan and Ferrothorn while doing decent chip damage to heavy legendaries such as Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, and Dialga. High Jump Kick is an alternative that is very risky and normally never worth it in Doubles, but it's guaranteed to OHKO Mega Kangaskhan and actually has a chance to OHKO 252 HP Dialga. Lastly, Knock Off is an alternative to fit a more support-oriented role and slow down a Geomancy attempt from Xerneas, though this makes Mienshao much more of a liability against other threats. However, you can choose to drop one of the other support moves to keep the Fighting-type move if Knock Off is preferred, though usually Feint and Wide Guard are too useful to give up.
Maximum Attack and Speed investment with a Jolly nature allows Mienshao to hit as hard as possible with Low Kick or High Jump Kick, and makes use of its base 105 Speed to use Fake Out before Mega Kangaskhan can move. Mienshao is also too frail to make any reasonable use of defensive investment, but this is acceptable since Focus Sash is often used to make sure it isn't going down after a single hit. However, Lum Berry is an alternative to let Mienshao perform better against the Kangaskhan and Smeargle lead and take down Kangaskhan without fear of Dark Void. Inner Focus is the preferred ability to ensure that faster Fake Out users such as Weavile, Raichu, and Infernape can't simply prevent Mienshao from using Fake Out itself and therefore break its Focus Sash in the process.
Mienshao may be fast and strong, but there are a handful of things that can deal with it. Where Mienshao is most common, Chesnaught is perhaps one of the best answer. Life Orb sets can only 3HKO Chesnaught at best with High Jump Kick or Poison Jab, and using High Jump Kick against Chesnaught is a death sentence thanks to Spiky Shield. Meanwhile, it can also set up Spikes or Leech Seed if it forces Mienshao out, or just 2HKO with Drain Punch. The rare Aerial Ace can be a bother, but it’s almost never used so Chesnaught is a reliable answer. Defensive Granbull, thanks to Intimidate, is only 3HKO’ed by Life Orb Poison Jab, and only about half the time. Sets lacking Poison Jab really can’t break Granbull, while Granbull can 1HKO with Play Rough or cripple Mienshao’s speed with Thunder Wave. Scarf sets tend to be especially helpless against Granbull. Spiritomb stands tall as an exceptional answer to Mienshao in that it can switch into High Jump Kick to troll Mienshao, but it’s also not terribly bothered by any of Mienshao’s coverage moves. Life Orb Knock Off only 5HKOs Spiritomb, while Spiritomb is able to cripple Mienshao with Will-o-Wisp. Doublade works to a lesser extent as well, being able to exploit High Jump Kick, and only being 3HKO’ed by Life Orb Knock Off while it 2HKOs with the combination of iron Head and Shadow Sneak. However, it should be noted that Doublade hates having its Eviolite knocked off, as it severely weakens it for the rest of the match. Defensive Crobat is able to handle Mienshao if it lacks Stone Edge, although those packing Stone Edge can 1HKO defensive Crobat after Stealth Rock damage. However without Stone Edge, Mienshao is only 4HKOing with Life Orb Knock Off, while Brave Bird soundly 1HKOs. Offensive Crobat sets may not take hits as well, but with Crobat’s massive speed it can check Mienshao, although Choice Scarf can flip those speed tiers around. Defensive Cresselia is only 3HKO’ed at best by Life Orb Knock Off, while it can 2HKO (with a low chance of a 1HKO) with Psychic, or stall it out with Moonlight. With Intimidate, Defensive Arcanine can completely shut down the Scarf set, although Life Orb boosted Reckless High Jump Kick can guarantee a 2HKO on Arcanine after Stealth Rock Damage. Meanwhile, Arcanine’s Flare Blitz can deal upwards of 92%, or it can just burn Mienshao with Will-o-Wisp to cripple its damage output. Nidoqueen’s Poison typing affords her a resistance to High Jump Kick, meaning even offensive variants of of Nidoqueen are only 3HKO’ed by Life Orb High Jump Kick (although Reckless can 2HKO), while being able to 1HKO with Earth Power in Return. Defensive Nidoqueen only 2HKOed Mienshao, but it is mostly only 4HKO’ed by Mienshao in return. Physically defensive Tentacruel is only 3HKO’ed by Reckless Life Orb High Jump Kick or Knock Off, but it can 2HKO with Sludge Bomb or fish for a burn with Scald. Sableye is able to switch into High Jump Kick to troll it, but Knock Off is capable of 2HKOing so it has to be wary. However, Sableye can abuse Prankster Will-o-Wisp to cripple Mienshao by burning it. Gyarados can utilize Intimidate to beat Mienshao sets lacking Stone Edge. Although the aforementioned move can 2HKO Offensive Gyarados, Mienshao is only going to 3HKO that same Gyarados at best on Life Orb sets without it. Meanwhile Waterfall will 2HKO (or sometimes 1HKO if Life Orb recoil is considered), or it can set up a Dragon Dance instead. Although the Life Orb set may be harder to outright counter due to its higher power, it’s much easier to check. Things like Mega Aerodactyl, Alakazam, Mega Beedrill, Espeon, Infernape, and Mega Sceptile all naturally outspeed Mienshao and can 1HKO it, but Scarf sets can flip the speed tiers on their heads and allow Mienshao to get them jump on them. Likewise, common Scarf users such as Darmanitan can outspeed an unscarfed Mienshao, but they have to be wary of being outsped by Mienshao’s own Scarf set. Some Pokemon such as Florges have enough bulk to take any attack Mienshao throws at them without being 1HKO’ed, but still manages to be 2HKO’ed (in Florges’ case, by Poison Jab), so they can check Mienshao in a pinch when there isn’t a need to switch in.
In more inclusive formats, Mienshao encounters more problems. Landorus-T is a nigh perfect counter to Mienshao; thanks to Intimidate, defensive sets are 7HKO’ed while offensive sets are 4HKO’ed. Meanwhile, Landorus-T can 2HKO Mienshao on defensive sets or 1HKO on offensive sets. The one exception to this rule is if Mienshao packs the rare Hidden Power Ice, which exists almost exclusively to lure Landorus-T in, but as was already mentioned, this is rare. Gliscor is in pretty much the same boat; it tends to only be 5HKO’d by Mienshao while 2HKOing it in return, but the rare Hidden Power Ice can spell disaster for it. Mega Venusaur’s supreme bulk and typing prevents Mienshao from doing much to it. Offensive Mega Venusaur is only 3HKO’ed at best by Life Orb Reckless High Jump Kick, while being able to 1HKO with Sludge Bomb or 2HKO with Giga Drain; the latter’s healing allows it to outlast Mienshao as well. Defensive sets can only 2HKO regardless of the move used, but they’re only 4HKO’ed in return. Hippowdon fears very little from what Mienshao can throw at it; Life Orb High Jump Kick only 3HKO without Reckless, and even with Reckless it’s not a guranteed 2HKO. Meanwhile, Earthquake can do up to 78% to Mienshao, and between Sand Stream, Life Orb Recoil, and Slack Off’s Recovery, it can often outlast Mienshao, especially since utilizing Reckless to try and secure the 2HKO costs Mienshao Regenerator’s longevity. Mega Slowbro can shrug off most of Mienshao’s attacks without duress, as Life Orb U-Turn only 4HKOs at best, and less than 70% of the time. Meanwhile, Scald can 2HKO Mienshao, if it doesn’t burn it in the process. Physically defensive Skarmory can shut down the Scarf set and deal reasonably well with Life Orb sets, but Reckless High Jump Kick can 2HKO it, so it does have to be wary. However, Brave Bird will 1HKO Mienshao in return. Defensive Clefable is only 3HKO’ed by Reckless Life Orb High Jump Kick, but Life Orb Poison Jab can 2HKO. However, sets lacking Poison Jab are handled pretty well by Clefable, who can 1HKO Mienshao with an uninvested Moonblast. Mega Sableye isn’t bothered by much of anything, as it is only 5HKO’ed by Life Orb Knock Off, and it can cripple Mienshao with Will-o-Wisp. Mienshao’s not too difficult to check, as well. There are several powerful priority uses who can make Mienshao’s life miserable. The most obvious of these are Talonflame and Mega Pinsir, whose flying type STAB priority attacks can cleanly shred Mienshao like toilet paper. Scizor’s Bullet Punch can also take a bite out of Mienshao, as Choice Band Bullet punch can 1HKO about half the time, while Mega Scizor’s Bullet Punch can do updates of 78% to pick off a weakened Mienshao or 2HKO from full health. Azumarill is bulky enough to take any hit from Mienshao, although Poison Jab can 2HKO, but Azumarill can 1HKO Mienshao without a second thought. Likewise, Mega Altaria doesn’t like eating Poison Jabs, and Stone Edges can hurt its base form, but it 1HKOs Mienshao with its powerful Pixilate Return or Hyper Voice. Several things are capable of naturally outspeeding and 1HKOing Mienshao; or instance, Gengar, Latios, Latias, Keldeo, Raikou, Serperior, and Tornadus-T are all capable out outspeeding Mienshao and 1HKOing it. Just be aware that Mienshao’s scarf set can flip speed tiers around and its appropriate coverage move can deal with all of the above named checks. Thundurus also makes a good emergency stop to Mienshao, as its Prankster Thunder Wave can strip it of the speed it needs to survive. At the end of the day though, although Mienshao is fast and powerful, anything that it can’t 1HKO is going to take a bite out of it, as its nonexistent bulk allows it to be 1HKO’ed or 2HKO’ed by almost everything in the game.
In the context of the Little Cup, there is a Pokemon who has long since been considered the best of the best, being so prevalent that it’s on about half of all teams in the Little Cup. That Pokemon is none other than Mienfoo. As time passed, this king of the Little Cup found itself having to compete with other Pokemon, such as the slower but bulkier Timburr, but Mienfoo is still a top tier contender in the Little Cup, and one who can run a multitude of sets. If you don’t prepare for Mienfoo, you will not get far, as it is the most viable and the most common Pokemon in the Little Cup.
Winnie the Mienfoo
Mienfoo’s first and most common set runs a bulky set. Unlike its evolution, this set isn’t aimed at raw power, but rather, sustainability. For this reason, Mienfoo’s main STAB attack is Drain Punch; not only does it hit things like Pawniard, Magnemite, and Houndour hard, but it also helps to keep Mienfoo healthy with its healing effects. Of course, Ghost types are immune to it, but that’s where Knock Off comes in. The complementary coverage that Knock Off provides to Drain Punch is nigh perfect (with only Fairy types resisting both), but it’s also a blessing in the Little Cup as with no Mega Evolutions being in the tier, pretty much nothing likes getting its item knocked off, especially those things that rely on Eviolite. U-Turn rounds off Mienfoo’s standard moves, allowing it to pivot out, especially against obvious switches. It also synergizes quite well with its ability, Regenerator, allowing it to further its longevity. The final moveslot is where Mienfoo has quite a few choices available to it that depend on your personal preference. High Jump Kick packs considerably more power than Drain Punch, and can secure some KOs that Drain Punch fails to, such as 1HKOing Omanyte before it Shell Smashes. Stone Edge and Poison Jab are there to provide niche coverage, for Flying types and Fairy types, respectively. Taunt is also an option to shut down more defensive Pokemon, and the combination of Taunt and U-Turn can really steal momentum. Finally, Fake Out can be utilized to break Focus Sash and Sturdy, which works fantastic for things like Berry Juice-Sturdy-Recycle Magnemite. Regardless, which move you choose from the fourth slot really depends on what you’re trying to cover on your opponent’s team.
Jolly Nature and 236 Speed EVs allow Mienfoo to hit 17 speed, which ensures it will outspeed Pawniard. The rest of its EVs are split between its defenses; 196 EVs are put into Defense and 36 are put into special defense, giving it 21/14/12 defenses. However, Eviolite takes that a step further, giving Mienfoo a solid 21/21/18 defensive spread. Regenerator is the ability of choice for its ability to keep Mienfoo healthy as it pivots out… plus, since you’re not guaranteed to use High Jump Kick on this set, Reckless may not do anything at all, so Regenerator is the only reliable ability on this set.
Mienfoo Man Chu
-High Jump Kick
If bulky sets aren’t your cup of tea, then Mienfoo also runs a more offensive set with a Choice Scarf. With a Choice Scarf, Mienfoo outspeeds the entire unboosted Little Cup, in addition to some of the slower Shell Smashers like Tirtouga, making it a potent revenge killer and late game cleaner. High Jump Kick is the crux of this set; with its high power, it is an absolute nuke that anything that isn’t a Ghost type hates to switch into. However, as was just referenced, Ghost types love to switch into it due to its downside of stripping MIenfoo of half of its health if the attack fails. For this reason, Knock Off remains the coverage move of choice. It’s a potent weapon against the Ghost types that may try to troll High Jump Kick, and it’s just spammable in general since nothing in the Little Cup likes losing its item. U-Turn synergizes well with a Choice Scarf set, as it allows Mienfoo to pivot out quickly, which is good for chip damage against unfavorable matchups, but also allows for scouting as well. For the final slot, Mienfoo has a few choices. Drain Punch can be used in the event that you need to hit something for super effective damage but don’t want to risk a High Jump Kick miss. It’s also good for late-game cleaning when everything is sufficiently weakened. However, you can also opt for more coverage, such as Stone Edge to hit Larvesta or Poison Jab to hit Cottonee. Which you choose depends on your preference.
Adamant Nature and 236 Attack EVs maximizes Mienfoo’s damage output, giving it a solid 19 attack. 236 Speed EVs gives Mienfoo 16 speed, which, with its Choice Scarf attached, turns into a blazing fast 24 speed. Adamant Nature is chosen over Jolly since there’s not much else that Jolly outspeeds that Adamant doesn’t, so the power from Adamant is noticeable. The remaining 36 EVs are put into special defense for a little extra bulk. Regenerator remains the ability of choice due to Mienfoo’s tendency to pivot out and scout, so it’ll be able to heal off any damage taken and stay health.
Mienfoo does have a few other sets it can abuse, such as Life Orb or Baton Pass, but in general, these days they're neither as common nor as viable, so the two sets listed above are those you'll see most frequently within the Little Cup.
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