Clangorous Soulblaze: Overpowered or Underwhelming?

Clangorous Soulblaze has made Kommo-o far more powerful, but just how big a threat is it really?

On August 18th, we were treated to exciting new information about the upcoming Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon installments for the Pokémon franchise, the existence of several new exclusive Z-Moves. The first of these was introduced to us – Kommo-o’s Clangorous Soulblaze.

Using its own special Z-Crystal, Kommo-o can now unleash a massively powerful Dragon-typed attack. Not only does this hit both of the opponent’s Pokémon in a Doubles environment (such as the official VGC meta), it will also increase all of Kommo-o’s stats by one stage. Obviously this is an extremely powerful move, but just what does it mean for Kommo-o in Smogon’s competitive tiers? Competitive players are divided on the issue, with some suggesting the outright power of the move warrants a ban, whilst others believe the current state of the meta will render Clangorous Soulblaze far less effective than it seems on paper.

Kommo-o is an interesting Pokémon, with an excellent STAB combination in its dual Dragon and Fighting typing that is only resisted by a single type, Fairy. It also has an expansive movepool including powerful STAB moves such as Clanging Scales or Focus Blast, as well as excellent coverage options such as Flash Cannon which hits Fairy types super effectively. Furthermore, Kommo-o boasts potent attacking stats as well as bulky defenses and two excellent defensive abilities in Bulletproof and Soundproof, that render it immune to certain moves.

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It firstly deals an enormous amount of damage and then leaves Kommo-o as a Pokémon with a potential 492 Special Attack, 429 Defence and 370 Special Defence (assuming the standard set with a Modest nature is used). With its unresisted coverage and boosted offenses, frailer Pokémon will be completely unable to switch in to Kommo-o and even bulkier Pokémon can expect to take some fairly hefty neutral damage off of Clanging Scales or Focus Blast. Kommo-o also becomes a lot harder to kill, thanks to boosted defences.. Pokémon that could formerly score an OHKO on Kommo-o such as Weavile, Mega Pidgeoto, Mega Medicham and even some Zygarde sets no longer pick up the OHKO and are fainted themselves instead in retaliation.

When you consider those facts, it sounds like Kommo-o just became the pre-eminent threat in the OU tier. However, the current meta has not been kind to Kommo-o. Powerful Fairy types such as the Tapus are extremely prevalent in the current metagame, especially in the higher tiers. To add to this, Kommo-o is outsped by numerous powerful sweepers and revenge killers. Due to lacking a powerful physical Fighting move, Kommo-o is also forced to utilise its lower Special Attack stat and therefore struggles with specially defensive walls. This has left it relegated to the RU tier, where it is still outclassed by the likes of Flygon. Clangorous Soulblaze helps mitigate these problems somewhat, but perhaps not enough. If a Fairy switches into the one-off attack, it is wasted and the slow and vulnerable Kommo-o becomes dead weight. Additionally, even with +1 to all its stats, there is a legion of revenge killers and sweepers such as Mega Alakazam, Scarf Tapu Lele and Mega Diancie that can still outspeed and OHKO Kommo-o or bulky Pokemon that it can’t break such as Assault Vest Magearna, Chansey or Unaware Clefable. In fact, most of the OU-viable Pokémon that Kommo-o now beats are not particularly high in the OU viability rankings themselves. Using Clangorous Soulblaze also renders Kommo-o unable to make use of items other than its Z-Crystal.

In summary, whilst Clangorous Soulblaze will surely see Kommo-o become viable beyond the RU tier, the current state of the meta in combination with Kommo-o’s own shortcomings renders a lot of the boosts given by the Z-Move rather underwhelming. Kommo-o has without a doubt become far more threatening Pokémon and will likely ascend to the OU tier with the help of its new Z-Crystal, but it will not be as dominating a presence there as some might expect thanks to the wealth of checks, counters and competition there. It certainly isn’t about to be quickbanned to Ubers.

In the VGC format, Clangorous Soulblaze will also help Kommo-o garner relevance. However, prediction will be even more important. The 2017 format has been filled with Fairy-types that can switch in and block the attack (e.g. Mimikyu and all four Tapus), and Kommo-o’s 5 weaknesses means it may rely on the stat boost from a successful attack, or at least dedicated support from its partner, to stick around in battle. Add in competition from other Dragon-types like Garchomp and Salamence (both seen multiple times this weekend at Worlds and established staples in VGC), and one feels that Kommo-o is not terribly likely to drag itself into most teams.

With such a powerful new move already revealed to us however, it seems likely that some truly metagame altering additions may be waiting for us.

Check out the video of Clangorous Soulblaze in action here.
Edited by bobandbill and Volpe Artica.