Quaquaval is the final stage evolution of Quaxly, and as many fans were anticipating, its design is at least loosely based on the legend of Don Quixote. This Pokemon is Water/Fighting type, reminiscent of Poliwrath. Its base stats are fairly well balanced, with physical Attack being the outlier as a strong 120 base stat. So, just how good is Quaquavada going to be in Scarlet and Violet?
As Meowscarada is easily the fastest and Skeledirge is easily the most defensive, Quaquaval is the happy medium of the two. It’s not particularly slow (85 base speed), and its defensive stats are palatable: 85 HP, 80 Defense, and 75 Special Defense. Its Special Attack is a solid 85, meaning that a mixed attack yet isn’t impossible. Most interestingly, Quaquaval’s hidden ability is Moxie, best known on Gyarados and Salamence, meaning its attack raises after an opponent’s Pokemon is knocked out.
On defense, Water/Fighting isn’t a great type to be, being weak to Electric, Grass, Flying, Psychic, and Fairy type moves. Offensively, though, it’s a great type. Notably, Quaquaval is much faster and hits harder than Poliwrath ever did. However, there are a couple of notable Water/Fighting Pokemon that have definitely seen competitive play: Keldeo and Urshifu-Rapid Strike.
Urshifu Rapid Strike has been so good because its decently fast, 97 base Speed, and it has the multi-strike Surging Strikes with a base 130 Attack stat. It’s also got great HP and strong physical Defense (base 100). Quaquavada is not quite up to Urshifu’s standards, not that we’d be expecting a starter Pokemon to compete with Urshifu.
Similarly, Keldeo is fast (108 base Speed), and has a strong Special Attack stat (129 base), but very good defenses (91 HP, 90 Defense, 90 Special Defense). It also gained a particularly sweet Special Fighting Move in Secret Sword. Keldeo also had Flip Turn, the Water-type version of U-Turn, meaning it could check out and chip in for decent damage.
While it may seem silly to compare Quaquaval to Legendary Pokemon, it’s not hard to see how there is precedent for a Water/Fighting type to be good. The question is if a Jolly nature (plus Speed, minus Special Attack) and full investment of Effort Values (EV’s) into Speed will be enough for Quaquaval to outspeed its potential checks and counters. It all comes down to Quaquavada getting a strong move to fully take advantage of its 120 Attack and make up for its otherwise lackluster stats.
It also doesn’t help that it’s been confirmed that Urshifu will eventually find his way back into competitive Pokemon when HOME connectivity occurs in Spring 2023. Quaquaval is just so much weaker than Urshifu-Rapid Strike that you’d just play the big bear over the duck. That being said, if Game Freak gives Quaquaval a strong signature attack along with something like Flip Turn for easy pivoting, this will be a surprising mid-tier Pokemon on a team heavily leaning into the Water type, which isn’t all that bad a concept for Battle Stadium singles.
Like the other two starters, Quaquaval does indeed have a signature attacking move, Aqua Step. Its an 80 base power physical Water-type attack that boosts the user’s Speed. This is a good thing. Also, the fighting duck does learn Work Up by level up, which boosts both Attack and Special Attack, giving the possibility that a mixed attacking set is a possibility. The move set by level up is actually pretty impressive, believe it or not.
Quaxly has access to the priority Water-type move Aqua Jet and the Flying-type Acrobatics. These are both very strong moves. Unfortunately, Acrobatics is really only good if the user has no held item, plus it’s not a move with a Same-Type attack bonus (STAB). It also learns Air Slash, which is a Special move. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome the downsides of each of these moves for Quaquaval as we’ll get to shortly. Liquidation is another physical Water move it learns, but you’d prefer Aqua Step thanks for the significant boost to Speed.
When Quaquaval fully evolves, it gains access to Close Combat, which is the only Fighting-type move it needs honestly. While Close Combat has the drawback of lowering the user’s Defense and Special Defense, Quaquaval’s defensive stats aren’t all that great to begin with anyway. Notably, Quaquaval can also learn Mega Kick by level up, a super powerful Normal type move that is also horribly inaccurate at 75 percent.
Now, there are two reasons why Acrobatics and Air Slash may be worth running. First off, you could Terastalize your Quaquaval into a Flying type. Also, Quaquaval learns Work Up, meaning that running a special move isn’t impossible thanks to the boost to both offensive stats. This means you’ll likely want to run a Naughty nature that boosts Attack while taking away from its worst stat in Special Defense. If you don’t want to bother with Air Slash and don’t mind having no held item, you could just go full on Adamant nature and just eat away at Special Attack to boost your Attack stat.
By TM, Quaquaval can also learn the much more powerful, but also more inaccurate, Hurricane. But, this is a Special Flying move, so you’ll have to lean into a boost with Work Up before going for it. Helpfully, Quaquaval does learn U-Turn to pivot. It also learns the powerful physical Brave Bird, and while the recoil isn’t fun, it is the best of its Flying-type attacking options.
There appear to be two good move sets, one with a Naughty nature with Work Up, Aqua Step, Close Combat, and Hurricane, while holding a Choice Band to help it hit hard enough to OHKO (one-hit KO) opponents. The other good move set would be Swords Dance (which it does learn by TM), Aqua Step, Close Combat, and Acrobatics. This set would either hold a damage-reduction Berry that would be consumed often enough to make Acrobatics hit for double power. Also, both variations would benefit from a Flying Tera Type to help mitigate weaknesses while also adding Flying as a third same-type attack bonus.
There is one more thing that’s good about Quaquaval, and it’s that it learns Baton Pass. You could use Work Up on one turn, then pass the Attack and Special Attack boosts to another Pokemon. Notably, the Baton Pass strategy is banned in most Pokemon Showdown formats (for good reason) but it does exist in Battle Stadium for Generation 9 for now. In doubles, Quaquaval also learns Helping Hand, again only good in doubles, but very good there.
Quaquaval can also set up Misty Terrain, to replace any other background environment or terrain already set. This terrain halves the power of Dragon-type moves, prevents Pokemon from being afflicted by burn, freeze, paralysis, poison, or sleep; but, it doesn’t cure anyone already afflicted. It also prevents confusion. Whether Quaquaval actually serves as a good Misty Terrain setter greatly remains to be seen, but it is an option to run the tall duck as a support Pokemon in doubles, probably just running Aqua Step as its only real attack just for the Speed boost that can be passed on.
Like with Inteleon in Sword and Shield, unfortunately, there’s something here to work with, but it simply may happen that Quaquaval is going to be the most underutilized of the starters in Scarlet and Violet. It may well be the worst of the final stage evolutions for these three starters.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad Pokemon; it’s just going to be too mediocre once Spring comes and many Legends Arceus, Brilliant Diamond, Shining Pearl, and Sword and Shield Pokemon are thrown into the competitive mix. Like Don Quixote himself, Quaquaval’s ending may end in abject failure, but we’ll love him all the same. It will likely be Terastalizing that saves Quaquaval from being good, but just not good enough to compete with the big boys.
What do you think of Quaquaval? I know how many people are Team Quaxly, and he’s going to be fine in-game for sure. Which starter would you choose and which final evolution excites you the most?