Unlike the other two starters from Pokemon Legends Arceus, Decidueye already existed in the Generation 8 games Sword and Shield. This was thanks to being able to enter from the 3DS Sun and Moon games through Pokemon Home. Also, like the other two fully evolved Sun and Moon starters, Incineroar and Primarina, Decidueye has enjoyed some competitive success, albeit nowhere near Incineroar.
Since his introduction in Generation 7, Decidueye has bounced around the mid-to-low competitive tiers among Pokemon Showdown players and has settled in Smogon’s NU tier, or the second lowest competitive tier in today’s Pokemon. While Hisuian Decidueye is just fine in the Legends Arceus adventure, how will it fare in the ensuing competitive scene of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, the first mainline Pokemon games the Hisuian forms will appear in competitively?
We’ve previously discussed how Hisuian Typhlosion looks like it can hang in the higher competitive tiers for at least some time. On the other hand, Hisuian Samurott appears poorly positioned thanks to its additional Dark typing actually being a defensive hindrance. Fortunately for Hisuian Decidueye, this Grass/Ghost Pokemon swaps its secondary Ghost type for a Fighting type in its Hisui form.
The Grass/Fighting type belongs to very few Pokemon, specifically Breloom, Chesnaught, and Virizion. Breloom has become a high-tier competitive Pokemon for much of its existence, Chesnaught was a solid Underused Pokemon in both X & Y and Sun and Moon, and Virizion was a mid-tier competitive mon in Black & White and X & Y.
With the competitive pedigree of the Grass/Fighting type established, let’s compare Decidueye with its new Fighting-type brethren. Probably the best place to start is with another Grass starter Pokemon, Chesnaught. They share the same 530 base stat points, but they are distributed quite differently. Chesnaught is a physical attacker and wall, but it’s fairly slow and below average as a special wall or attacker. However, as a defensive wall, it’s a solid Spikes setter, can hit hard with two same-type attack bonus (STAB) moves in Wood Hammer and Drain Punch, plus can regenerate health using Synthesis.
Decidueye isn’t much faster than Chesnaught but is a similar strong attacker, swapping defense for special defense. Where Decidueye has a huge advantage is its solid 100 Special Attack in addition to 107 physical Attack. Sadly, its best moves have been Ghost-type, including the signature Spirit Shackle, one of the cooler moves introduced in Sun and Moon. Sure, Leaf Storm and Leaf Blade are really solid attacks depending if you want to go special or physical, but losing STAB on Ghost-type moves like Spirit Shackle, Phantom Force, and even Shadow Sneak are a blow. Sun and Moon also had Z-Crystals, including the exclusive Decidium-Z which morphed Spirit Shackle into Sinister Arrow Raid. Alternatively, some players preferred to use Grassium-Z to turn any damaging Grass-type move into the formidable Bloom Doom.
Not only does Decidueye’s new typing in Hisui take away easily the mon’s best STAB move in Spirit Shackle, but originally, the only Fighting-type move Decidueye even learned was Low Sweep! Competitively, Decidueye has often been used as an all-out attacker, with his main move being Poltergeist, a physical Ghost-type move that has 110 base power but fails if the opposing Pokemon has no held item. Admittedly, that’s pretty rare in competitive play, so with Same-Type attack bonus that is a heck of a move for traditional Decidueye. The other moves it typically runs are Leaf Blade, U-Turn, and Shadow Sneak.
The good news for Hisuian Decidueye is that there are Fighting-type moves it gains to its moveset thanks to the new typing. Unfortunately, Hisuian Decidueye doesn’t learn Mach Punch in Legends Arceus, which is a physical Fighting-type move with priority, overcoming its mediocre speed to hit hard. Fortunately, Hisuian Decidueye does have a new signature attack for its moveset, a physical move in Triple Arrows, essentially replacing Spirit Shackle. Also, he learns Aura Sphere, a special Fighting Move, by level up. Running either of these moves, as well as keeping Leaf Blade and U-Turn, could make Hisuian Decidueye just as good as an all-out attacker. The Legends Arceus Training Grounds also allows him to learn Bulk Up to power him up more.
The best moveset for Hisuian Decidueye is likely Leaf Blade, Triple Arrows, Brave Bird, and Psycho Cut. The first two moves are obvious, physical attacks with Same-Type Attack Bonus. Since Decidueye didn’t have the Flying type to begin with, Brave Bird functions about the same as on regular Decidueye. Psycho Cut is useful as a Psychic-type physical attacking move that gives Hisuian Decidueye a super-effective move against Poison-type Pokemon. Of course, when the Hisui forms find their way to Scarlet and Violet, its likely their move pools will see substantial revamps, meaning the best Generation 9 moveset for Hisuian Decidueye could look a bit different.
While Hisuian Decidueye doesn’t have its hidden ability within Pokemon Legends Arceus itself (there are no abilities active in the game), it will still have the hidden ability of Long Reach when transferred to future games like Scarlet and Violet. Long Reach makes it so Decidueye’s attacks don’t actually make contact, so that things like Static and Poison Point don’t activate. It’s a corner-case ability, but it is rather useful.
In many ways, Hisuian Decidueye resembles a slower Virizion, who is also a mixed attacker with solid special defense (Virizion’s Special Defense is much better at 129, but it’s a legendary). Unfortunately, Virizion is a fairly low-end borderline competitive Pokemon in the Sword and Shield era. What gave Decidueye more of a chance to succeed was that Ghost typing, unfortunately, which made it immune to Normal and Fighting type moves. Not only does Decidueye lose its immunities, but it regains a weakness to Fairy, Poison, and Psychic, plus a 4x weakness to Flying. It does now resist Rock-type moves by one-half, and swaps its weakness to Dark for a resistance, and these are relevant.
On the balance, it feels like Decidueye loses more defensively than it gains offensively. Virizion has a deep move pool for type coverage, Chesnaught has recovery moves and high physical defense, and Breloom has a way for opponents to go nap time with Spore. What made Decidueye so neat was its Grass/Ghost typing, which it shares with only Dhelmise, Phantump & Trevenant, and Pumpkaboo & Gourgeist. The latter two pairs are untiered competitively, but Dhelmise has made waves in lower-tier competitive play. Decidueye was a really cool Pokemon and is easily the underdog of the three Sun and Moon starters. While Grass/Fighting is a cool typing, it loses a lot of what made it a sneaky strong Pokemon in the first place by swapping the Ghost type for the Fighting type.
Of course, Grass/Fighting is a better defensive type than Water/Dark in the Sword and Shield competitive universe. Sure, Hisuian Decidueye will get dumpstered by Fairy, Poison, and Psychic-type attacks, and obliterated by Flying-type attacks. Fortunately, it will still be able to pick its spots, and gaining Dark-type and Rock-type resistances are certainly positive.
Plus, reading regular Decidueye’s Smogon write-up about its good match-ups in the Sword and Shield NU and RU tiers should show you just how much the Hisui form loses defensively by gaining the Fighting type. Regular Decidueye doesn’t have to worry about Fairy types or Pokemon with Psychic, Poison, and Flying attacks. All of these mons now do massive damage to Hisuian Decidueye. These aren’t fatal defensive flaws, certainly, as these teams running Decidueye would have Flying-type checks such as Metagross anyway. It also doesn’t mind Incineroar and Umbreon nearly as much, which are both positives, and both should still be prevalent competitive Pokemon in the future.
Overall, Hisuian Decidueye is a good Pokemon, although defensively it seems a bit worse off in the current Sword and Shield metagame, which has plenty of counters for slower Grass/Fighting type mons. Fortunately, this Hisui form won’t see its official competitive debut until Generation 9’s Scarlet and Violet. Hisuian Decidueye has its fans, and it’s a solid team member in the Pokemon Legends Arceus adventure. Competitively, I think it has a shot at hanging around the lower tiers, but defensively, it lost just a bit more utility than it gained in punch (quite literally).
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