- Item Held
- Life Orb / Choice Band
- Arena Trap
- Jolly (+Speed, -Special Attack) / Adamant (+Attack, -Special Attack)
- Effort Points
- 252 Attack – 252 Speed – 6 HP
- Rock Slide / Stone Edge
- Sucker Punch
- Aerial Ace
This is gonna be the standard Dugtrio set for D/P. It works exactly as it did in Advance, just switch in on something you are sure you can OHKO, trap it, then kill it. Earthquake is obvious and gets STAB, Aerial Ace OHKOs Heracross and Breloom and Sucker Punch hits Alakazam, Gengar, Azelf and Starmie. Rock Slide is for those who prefer accuracy and Stone Edge for those you like sheer power. But with Dugtrio being so fragile, Stone Edge’s 80% accuracy is a problem.
Life Orb over Choice Band or Choice Band over Life Orb is a matter that has concerned many players around the world. The Choice Band gives Dugtrio more power but after it has killed something with Earthquake, Pokémon like Gyarados and Salamence will freely come in and set up with Dragon Dance. Life Orb gives you the versatility you need in the cost of some loss in power. This little loss isn’t something important, Dugtrio still KOs what it wants to KO. It also reduces Dugtrio’s HP but it doesn’t matter as well. All those make Life Orb seem like a better option. But considering that Dugtrio should always switch out of Gyarados and Salamence as they can easily KO it, Choice Band is still useful. It’s all up to you and your style.
Choice Scarf Sweeper
- Item Held
- Choice Scarf
- Arena Trap
- Adamant (+Attack, -Special Attack)
- Effort Points
- 252 Attack – 129 Speed – 129 HP
- Stone Edge
- Aerial Ace
- Night Slash
Choice Scarf is a pretty cool surprise as it can give a nice boost to your Speed allowing Dugtrio to outspeed everything, even Jolly Ninjask. The only problem is the lack of power this set faces when compared to the one above. Thus, Stone Edge is a better option than Rock Slide now. Same for Night Slash over Sucker Punch, Dugtrio now has the Speed to attack first anyway.
Other Possible Options
Not many, really. Pursuit maybe for catching some fleeing Psychic-types off-guard while switching out to avoid Sucker Punch. Beat Up could also be an option but Dugtrio has better moves to use. A surprise set with Choice Specs, Earth Power and Hidden Power Ice or Hidden Power Bug could be used but Dugtrio is far better as a Physical Sweeper than a Special one.
If you want to be named a counter, you must be able to switch in. That’s a basic rule. But if your active Pokémon is unable to switch out, how are you going to switch in another one? That’s the only thing that makes Dugtrio stand out. Most likely, it will keep coming in to KO one of your Pokémon and then switch out. The only way to take it out is with unexpected hits in its weaknesses. Pokémon with the Levitate ability or Flying-type Pokémon don’t get trapped by Dugtrio’s ability and can easily switch to a counter. Any Pokémon at full HP using a Focus Sash can give trouble to Dugtrio if it has a way to strike back. Weavile can stop Dugtrio’s sweep but Choice Scarf Dugtrio stops it. If it’s a standard Dugtrio versus a standard Weavile, it is all a game of prediction. If Weavile uses Ice Punch, Dugtrio can switch out. If Weavile predicts the switch, it OHKOs with Pursuit. If Dugtrio predicts Pursuit, it can stay in and OHKO with Rock Slide, etc. Porygon2 and Gardevoir have fun coming in after something got killed and copying Arena Trap with Trace, then beating Dugtrio with one of their moves (STABed Psychic or Ice Beam). If Dugtrio is Adamant, Infernape can KO it as it strikes first. Finally, Yanmega can stall Dugtrio for one turn with Protect, become faster and hit back with Hidden Power Ice but Dugtrio is likely to switch out.
Opinion & Notes
The switch from Advance to D/P brought two gifts and one nightmare to Dugtrio. The gifts are Sucker Punch, a first-strike move for hitting a few Pokémon faster than Dugtrio, and Life Orb, a nice replacement for Choice Band. The Nightmare is Weavile as it can stop Dugtrio easily with some prediction. At least Dugtrio can still abuse its fantastic ability and get some Pokémon out before it gets knocked out. Also Dugtrio can be used along with a Shed Shell Skarmory to surprise a Magnezone that came to trap your Skarmory. Anyway, in my opinion, Dugtrio is worth being used in a standard team only for taking down cetrain threats like Magnezone, Heatran and other Pokémon that it can knock out easily.
A small note about Dugtrio’s Nature. Adamant vs. Jolly was never easy for many Physical Sweepers but Dugtrio’s performance is really affected by the selected Nature. Choosing Jolly sacrifices some power and actually can’t 2HKO a Bold/Impish max HP, max Defense Blissey but it gives Dugtrio the Speed it needs to outrun any +Speed Nature Pokémon at base 115 Speed. And some of them like Starmie and Raikou can OHKO Dugtrio with Surf or Hidden Power Ice. Adamant gives the power to 2HKO Blissey but all those Pokémon mentioned before will outrun you. So the choice depends on what you want to hit. Of course this only applies for the first set, in the second one Adamant is the obvious choice since the Choice Scarf raises your Speed.