Hello! I’m Aurora and I’ve been playing the ORAS RarelyUsed (RU) metagame since early 2015. I’ve gotten pretty decent at the tier, and to hone my skills I often play games on Pokémon Showdown’s main server RU ladder. Unfortunately, games that cause me to be shocked at my opponent’s prodigious Pokémon skill are few and far between. This is because many people ladder with bad Pokémon, which really hurts the potential of their teams and often leaves them with one Pokémon down from the start of the match. One of these Pokémon is Ambipom. While it seems appealing thanks to its ability to, in theory, cause serious damage to offensive teams, Ambipom is actually an underwhelming Pokémon with insufficient power and far too many checks that render it an incredibly ineffective Pokémon. This makes it something you should avoid when building an RU team.
Ambipom @ Life Orb
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Fake Out
– Low Kick
– Knock Off
Ambipom is blessed with a fantastic base 115 Speed, a seemingly decent base 100 Attack, and a good ability in Technician. This, in conjunction with its access to Fake Out, allows it to get free chip damage on switch-ins, annoy offensive teams that lack a Pokémon faster than Ambipom, and revenge kill weakened, frail Pokémon such as Life Orb Medicham. Fake Out isn’t all it can offer, though; Ambipom also has access to Knock Off and Low Kick, which allow it to hurt Bronzong and Rhyperior leads and potentially stop them from setting up entry hazards, as well as a powerful STAB option in Return that allows it to, when predicted well, damage Pokémon that switch in on it predicting a Fake Out. Ambipom also has access to a plethora of other moves, such as U-turn, Pursuit, Baton Pass, and Nasty Plot, meaning you never really know what it will do.
Why you shouldn’t use it
Unfortunately, Ambipom is a terrible option in RU. Base 100 Attack is, in actual fact, incredibly underwhelming. This stops Ambipom from doing anything in a lot of cases. For example, tank Rhyperior, which usually runs 248 HP EVs with no investment in Defense, is only 3HKOed by Life Orb Ambipom’s Low Kick. This means that, even with flawless prediction, Rhyperior will still be able to all of get up Stealth Rock and then, after Ambipom has lost 20% of its health thanks to Life Orb recoil, get an almost guaranteed OHKO on Ambipom with Earthquake. Mega Steelix, one of the tier’s top 3 Pokémon and by far the best Steel-type, is also only 3HKOed by Low Kick, which, similarly to tank Rhyperior, allows it to easily get up Stealth Rock then OHKO Ambipom with Heavy Slam after Life Orb recoil.
Ambipom also has a ridiculous amount of checks. Assuming it actually manages to revenge kill something – that “something” almost always being a Pokémon the opponent no longer requires – all of Registeel, defensive Druddigon, Jolteon, Mega Steelix, Diancie, every Choice Scarf user in the tier, and a plethora of other Pokémon can proceed to switch in on Ambipom and either make mince meat of it or force it out, giving them a free turn. Bulky Rocky Helmet users, such as the aforementioned defensive Druddigon or Garbodor, also punish Ambipom severely by causing it to lose a whopping 26% of its HP just for clicking Fake Out (or, for that matter, any of its moves, as they all make contact).
Ambipom also has non-existent staying power, possessing pathetic 75 / 66 / 66 bulk. This means that Gurdurr, Hitmonlee (yes, something with 50 / 53 physical bulk), and Fletchinder if Stealth Rock is not up can easily pick off weakened Ambipom with their own priority moves; it also means that most powerful neutral hits will either OHKO or do massive damage to it. Ambipom isn’t even that effective against offensive teams as they will usually carry a Choice Scarf user anyway, leaving Ambipom incredibly vulnerable to being revenge killed.
I mentioned Ambipom’s admittedly giant movepool in the previous section. U-turn seems like a good idea because it lets Ambipom escape from bad match-ups, but it comes at the expense of a coverage move which really detracts from Ambipom’s “potential”. Please don’t even consider using Nasty Plot + Baton Pass Ambipom; it is complete garbage and outclassed by Togetic, which is bulkier and possesses much more utility than our unfortunate simian.
Here is a replay that demonstrates just how useless Ambipom is: http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/ru-342413156. While the set depicted in this replay (King’s Rock + Fling) is weaker and even more gimmicky than Life Orb Ambipom, it still does an excellent job at showing how awful Ambipom is against offensive teams that carry some form of defensive backbone, which is important given how hostile the RU metagame is to the offensive team archetype. Aromatisse and Ferroseed tank its weak attacks easily, and Ferroseed’s Iron Barbs punish Ambipom for every move it makes. My bringing a Choice Scarf user along rendered Ambipom even more useless, as it was easily put out of its misery late-game by the simple fact that Flygon was faster and carried a strong STAB move that hit neutrally.
What you should use instead
There are many suicide leads for the offensive teams Ambipom finds its “home” on that provide far more utility than the monkey. Accelgor, lead Qwilfish and the humble Omastar are almost guaranteed to get up two layers of entry hazards thanks to their Focus Sashes, while Mega Glalie can set up Spikes and threaten the most common Defogger in the tier, Flygon, with a 4x super effective STAB Ice Shard or Double-Edge. Assuming you keep up offensive pressure and stop the opponent from removing your entry hazards, which isn’t particularly difficult when running hyper offense, the hazards provided by these Pokémon can and will wear down the opposing team, facilitating a late-game sweep by another one of your Pokémon. This is utility that Ambipom simply cannot and will not grant you.
If you still need an offensive Normal-type, why not use Exploud or Meloetta? Exploud makes for an extremely dangerous wallbreaker thanks to STAB Boomburst, Choice Specs, and Scrappy, which allows it to hit through Ghost-types such as Spiritomb and the rare Cofagrigus. Meanwhile, Meloetta can run many sets, such as Substitute + Calm Mind, Choice Specs, Calm Mind + three attacks with Life Orb, and, if you are feeling game, a gimmicky Relic Song physically offensive set with Life Orb. There is absolutely no reason to use Ambipom when these infinitely more useful Pokémon are available.
Don’t use Cinccino, though. Please. I am not kidding at all when I say that it is arguably even worse than Ambipom.
Hopefully, this convinces you to steer very clear of the weak, frail and underwhelming Pokémon that is Ambipom when playing RU! If you’re curious about getting into RU, I highly recommend it. It’s an interesting and reasonably balanced metagame with plenty of room for creativity! There are plenty of resources available on Smogon: http://www.smogon.com/dex/xy/formats/ru/
Edited by bobandbill and Sylphiel.
Images courtesy of The Pokémon Company.