As Litleo was revealed in a 14-minute gameplay trailer for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, the Pokemon community learned that its evolution Pyroar would be returning for Generation 9. Pyroar debuted in Generation 6 with X and Y and is a Fire/Normal dual-type Pokemon. But, with Tera Types being added to Scarlet and Violet, Pyroar may have a few new tricks in battle by switching into a third type in battle.
Pyroar has two different forms for each male and female, which makes sense being based on an actual lion. The male has a shield shaped flaming mane and he is much stockier than its female counterpart who has a flowing mane atop her head. Pyroar evolves from Litleo at level 35 and has decent base stats: 86 HP, 68 physical Attack, 72 physical Defense, 109 Special Attack, 66 Special Defense, and 106 Speed. Overall, that’s a base stat total of 507, making it overall an above average Pokemon.
One may not expect Pyroar to be dominantly a Special attacker, but 109 is a very good base stat for Special Attack. You’d expect a lion to be physical, wouldn’t you? Anyway, expectations already subverted, you’d also expect a lion to be fairly thick defensively; again, this is not the case as Pyroar is rather frail. However, the one thing you would expect is a lion’s speed, and Pyroar has a strong 106 Speed stat, which can outspeed plenty of competitive Pokemon.
The bad news is the underwhelming defense stats are an issue for a Fire/Normal type, with three weaknesses (Ground, Rock, and Water) for its Fire-type, and an additional Fighting type weakness for its Normal-type. With four weaknesses, it does also have an immunity to Ghost types (thanks to being Normal type, too) and resistances to Fire, Grass, Ice, Bug, Steel, and Fairy type moves. So, while it has some very decent resistances, it’s not likely to tank a hit well. This means Pyroar needs to pick its spots and be able to OHKO its opponent.
Pyroar has a choice of three abilities, including its hidden ability Unnerve. While typically one of its abilities, Moxie, is good, Moxie only boosts physical Attack when the Pokemon with it knocks out an opponent. I’m not entirely certain why Game Freak bestowed this ability on a Special Attacker. Its other ability, Rivalry, isn’t really a competitive ability, as it boosts a Pokemon’s attacks by 25 percent if it faces the same gender, but decreases the attack’s damage by 25 percent if it’s the opposite gender. It’s one of the stupidest abilities in Pokemon.
Fortunately, Unnerve is a great hidden ability, which prevents opposing Pokemon from using Berries. Of course, Berries are common in competitive play, either for HP recovery, status healing, or lessening damage from a certain Type of attack. Unnerve does not affect your own team, however, so in doubles, your own partner Pokemon can still use Berries. So, ideally, you want a Pyroar with Unnerve; but, as its a Hidden Ability, you’ll likely need to use an Ability Patch item in order to unlock it. If you’re just planning on using Pyroar in the open world adventure, your best bet is to find one with Moxie, even if you only use Special Attacks, because Rivalry is actually a bad thing, as Diamond and Pearl players will remember with the otherwise amazing Luxray. (At least Luxray had its other ability being Intimidate!)
Being that its best ability is a Hidden one and its defensive shortcomings, Pyroar was a mid-tier competitive Pokemon at best in its debut generation. Because of its high speed and Special Attack, Pyroar was able to outspeed mid-tier threats like Jynx and Scyther, while speed tying Liepard, as Smogon University explains. Pyroar ran a best moveset of Fire Blast, Hyper Voice, Hidden Power Grass, and one of Flamethrower, Will-o-Wisp, or Taunt. It was often used as a wallbreaker which leaned on Fire Blast to hit defensive Pokemon hard and fast.
Typically, the best nature for Pyroar is Timid, which boosts Special Attack in exchange for points in physical Attack. That is perfectly fine, as you’re hopefully never physically attacking with Pyroar, and its Speed tier is high enough, especially with EV (Effort Value) investment, that a Speed-boosting Nature isn’t necessary. Some Pyroar would lean into their attacking prowess by equipping a Life Orb at the cost of losing HP each turn, while others would enough a 50 percent boost with Choice Specs, locking the Pyroar into a specific move. Fortunately, since you would often hard switch out Pyroar if a Pokemon with a super-effective move entered the fray, this wasn’t really an issue.
In Sun and Moon, Pyroar tumbled down the competitive ladder all the way to the lowest Pokemon Showdown tier in PU, which stands for exactly how it reads. Against bottom-of-the-barrel competition, though, Pyroar was good enough to become banned in PU, but never could quite catch on in higher tiers. However, Sun and Moon trainers did dip into a move that some Fire-type Pokemon can learn in Solar Beam, a powerful Grass-type move that typically requires a recharge.
However, in Sun and Moon, Z-moves existed, so very rarely did a Pyroar trainer actually choose Solar Beam itself. Equipped with a Grassium-Z, Solar Beam became a 190 power Bloom Doom. Other Pyroar would ditch Solar Beam for its familiar Hidden Power Grass and instead lean into Normalium-Z, boosting Hyper Voice into a 175 base power Breakneck Blitz. Because of being a Normal type, that Breakneck Blitz gained a STAB (same type attack bonus) of 50 percent, making it a 262 power attack.
While Pyroar certainly has the offensive guts to hang in low-tier competition, again the Royal Pokemon fell far short defensively and was easily revenge killed. Being that it was on its way to becoming irrelevant with incoming massive power creep in Sword and Shield, Pyroar was one of the Pokemon who was entirely cut from Generation 8.
With Hidden Power being removed, Pyroar lost its important Grass-type coverage move. While you could still run Solarbeam, the set-up turn required outside of Sun teams would make this move likely a mistake. However, thanks to Tera Types, Pyroar gains the ability to run a third type that not only improves it defensively, but gives it access to a new offensive move, too.
So, what Tera Type is best for Pyroar? Considering that it will be quite a hunt to find a Litleo or Pyroar that doesn’t have either a Fire or Normal Tera Type, it makes sense to lean into the Normal Tera Type. Thanks to already having the excellent Hyper Voice, Pyroar wouldn’t have to run Tera Blast to take advantage of the 50 percent additional same-type attack bonus. Terastallizing also means losing the Fire-type defensively, while retaining the 50 percent STAB for its Fire-type moves. It would then only be weak to Fighting-type moves, which it already was, and still blanks Ghost-type moves. A Fire-type Tera type is fine, too, but it loses the Ghost type immunity, which may be a fair trade-off for the additional 50 percent boost to your Flamethrower or Fire Blast.
However, there are scenarios in which you’d want to run an off-type Tera Type. Since you don’t lose the Pokemon’s original same-type attack bonuses, it makes sense to choose a type that will help with defensive or offensive coverage. There’s always the possibility of a Grass Tera Type, unleashing a Special-fueled Tera Blast that would essentially hit for 120 power, which is the same as a regular Solar Beam. Unfortunately, this then opens up Pyroar to brand new weaknesses, as it now becomes weak to Fire-type moves, as well as gaining new weaknesses to Flying-type and Bug-type moves. The payoff is that it gains Electric, Grass, Ground, and Water-type resistance and loses its weakness to Electric and Ground-type moves. It also means you can hit Ground, Rock, and Water-types with super effective damage. You’re essentially swapping one set of weaknesses for another, but on certain teams, you can probably cover for that, especially if you’re taking out what would otherwise be Pyroar’s downfall in a OHKO (one-hit KO).
So, Grass Tera Type is certainly an option. What about the Electric Tera Type? It’s been widely touted as the best Tera Type in the game, thanks to having just a Ground-type weakness. The problem is with offensive type coverage. While Electric is one of the best defensive types, it doesn’t help Pyroar against its main issues, which are Ground and Rock types. However, an Electric-type Tera Blast would again hit for 120 thanks to the Tera STAB, and you’d retain the other STAB moves power, too. Also, unlike Pyroar’s only other Electric-type move in Wild Charge, this Tera Blast would be Special based.
Choosing between Grass or Electric, we’d have to say that Grass gives the better offensive coverage. Since Pyroar isn’t going to survive many big hits anyway, it seems best to lean into a type that Pyroar has used with success in the past offensively. It’s also going to create mind games in which a Pokemon that should OHKO Pyroar suddenly won’t be able to upon the lion Terastallizing.
Another Tera Type that might be worth considering is Dark type. Pyroar does learn Crunch, but again, that’s a physical move. Dark does have weaknesses to Bug, Fairy, and Fighting type moves, though, and you’re only gaining type coverage against Ghost and Psychic type Pokemon. That doesn’t seem worth the trade-off.
While there are lots of other Tera Types to consider, it seems your best bet is a Grass or Normal Tera Type for your Pyroar. Fortunately, it should be very easy to find a Normal Tera Type Litleo, and if you’re just using one for your open world team, even a Fire Tera Type will be perfectly useful. While it’s hard to say if Tera Types alone will get Pyroar back into mid-tier competitive singles, the mechanic should at least give Pyroar a chance in low-tier singles and perhaps even a niche in VGC doubles as a pivoting revenge killer.
What do you think of Pyroar? Are you going to train one for your Scarlet and Violet adventure?
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