Is Staraptor a Good Pokemon?

As one of the Pokemon mysteriously absent from Pokemon Sword and Shield, Staraptor will return to the competitive Pokemon metagame in the Gen 4 remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. When it last appeared during Gen 7 – Sun and Moon – Staraptor was a fringe competitive option thanks to its hidden ability, Reckless, and strong attack stat. Will Staraptor be a competitive player in the Diamond & Pearl remakes and Scarlet and Violet?

A Brief History of Staraptor in Competitive Pokemon

Back in the Diamond and Pearl days, Staraptor was a fairly good Pokemon, especially in the main game playthrough. It has decent speed and its primary ability, Intimidate, lowers opponent Pokemon’s attack stats. Unfortunately, Intimidate does nothing against special attackers, so even in the regular adventure, you had to pick and choose the spots to use Staraptor. However, it can learn powerful moves such as Close Combat and Brave Bird, the latter of which is a STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) Flying move. So, Staraptor was a perfectly serviceable Pokemon, and was a fringe option on some competitive teams for several generations.

The problem with Staraptor lies in its typing, Flying/Normal, the same as another popular Pokemon Pidgeot who was absent from Sword and Shield. This means it’s two times weak to Electric, Ice, and Rock type moves. It’s also extremely fragile with merely a 70 defense stat and a 50 special defense stat. While investing heavily in speed and attack, especially with a plus speed nature like Jolly, can be good, Staraptor still gets outclassed by many other Pokemon. That’s even when it’s holding a Choice Scarf, which boosts its speed by 20 percent but is locked into using one move.

Fortunately for Staraptor, it gained a Hidden Ability called Reckless. This means the power of any moves Staraptor uses that involve recoil damage are increased by 20 percent. Since Staraptor learns both Brave Bird and Take Down, this is a perfect ability for this Pokemon. Additionally, in place of Take Down, Staraptor can learn Double-Edge through breeding, which is not only 50 percent more powerful, but 15 percent more accurate. With the ability to learn U-Turn, a bug move that returns the user back to the trainer, Staraptor gains the ability to switch out in unfavorable matchups. Plus, learning Endeavor through level up, it can cut the target’s HP to its own, making the recoil damage an actual advantage rather than a disadvantage. 

Additionally, Staraptor can learn the Fighting-type move Final Gambit. While this knocks out Staraptor, it deals damage equal to the user’s HP. This means it can reliably knock off 145 HP or more if Staraptor happens to hit first while at full HP. While sacrificing a Pokemon isn’t always the best strategy, it can serve as a way to deal with a stall Pokemon you wouldn’t otherwise have a way to KO. You could also give Staraptor Tailwind to boost your team’s Speed stat or Defog to clear hazards on your team’s side. 

How Good Was Staraptor in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl?

While Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl never had an official competitive series ever made for them, that didn’t stop the competitive Pokemon community from creating a top tier on Pokemon Showdown. In the OU (Overused) Tier of Smogon University’s Pokemon Showdown competition, Staraptor held its own, albeit being used on less than one percent of all teams according to Pikalytics.

When Staraptor did see competitive BDSP play, it ran a moveset of U-Turn, Brave Bird, Close Combat, and Double-Edge. Typical to its play in past generations, Staraptor exclusively used the Reckless ability, according to the data. It also held a Life Orb to boost its damage output by 30 percent. Its typical teammates were Garchomp, Luxray, Lucario, Empoleon, and Moltres, meaning that Staraptor provided a great defensive switch-in that could also dish out serious damage.

Sadly, Staraptor’s reintroduction into the franchise was a fringe one at best. Fortunately, Staraptor would get another shot at competitive play in the first Generation 9 games, Scarlet and Violet. But, how would it fare?

How Good is Staraptor in Scarlet and Violet?

In Series 1 VGC for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, Staraptor appeared quite infrequently. But, there were a couple of builds of competitive Staraptor which emerged. One was the typical Reckless attacker, this build having a moveset of Brave Bird, U-Turn, Double Edge, and Close Combat. But, instead of a Life Orb, Scarlet and Violet Staraptor typically ran a Choice Scarf to double its speed.

Another build of Staraptor in Scarlet and Violet utilizes it as a lead swapping Reckless for its Intimidate ability to cut opposing physical attackers. This Staraptor would also use a Choice Scarf for its held item, and instead of Close Combat it would run Final Gambit. Either build would serve teams that needed Flying coverage both on defense and offense. While it saw very little overall play, it did appear enough to be noted by Pikalytics.

Staraptor has fared better in singles, seeing about four times as much play in Smogon’s OU format for Generation 9. With the many bannings we’ve seen in that format, thanks to many new overpowered Pokemon being introduced in the generation, Staraptor seems to be poised to remain a fringe option in the format.

In competitive singles, Staraptor looks much like its build in BDSP, although players seem to prefer an Adamant nature to a Jolly one, maximizing its Attack stat. Also, Staraptor holds a Choice Band much more often to further boost its attacking prowess. It runs the familiar moveset of Brave Bird, U-Turn, Double Edge, and Close Combat.

Unfortunately, Pikalytics doesn’t have data regarding the best Tera Type for Staraptor. Fortunately, it’s easy to say that a Normal, Flying, or Fighting Tera Type can work for this Pokemon. The best Tera Type for Staraptor has more to do with how you build your team and what weaknesses you need to cover, as all three of its major attacking types are worth the additional boost.

My preference would be a Fighting Tera Type, as the 50 percent boost to Close Combat is likely more needed than the additional 50 percent boost to Staraptor’s Normal and Flying type moves. Just keep in mind if you will need Staraptor as a defensive switch-in and for what types your team is likely to need coverage.

Considering the many new competitive options that Generation 9 gave trainers, it’s hard to say if Staraptor will ever re-emerge as a serious competitive option. Still, it’s nice to see Staraptor again in competitive play, especially as it’s a good Pokemon that still can serve a role on some teams which could benefit from the Predator Pokemon’s raw attack power and Flying typing.

Have you ever found success with Staraptor?

Pokémon and All Respective Names are Trademark & © of Nintendo 1996-2023

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.
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