Hey there Hat Lovers,
Today’s article is going to be a bit of commentary on metagame trends and reference to past formats. The history behind the comparison of these two Pokemon is rich. In both the 2012 and 2013 formats, Latios was the default choice for a strong, Specs-boosted Draco Meteor. However, in both seasons Hydreigon showed up later in the metagame, and by the World Championships seemed to be the favourite of the two. Why was that, and why is it that Hydreigon has started out so strong this year while Latios is so irrelevant? Does Latios have anything to offer to this metagame in place of Hydreigon? That will be the topic of the article today!
Thinking about Hydreigon
I got to thinking about Hydreigon the other day as I was considering swapping my Choice Specs Hydreigon for a Choice Scarf Hydreigon. At that time, I went back to an old favourite of mine being Choice Scarf Chandelure. With a Timid Nature, Chandelure can still hit relevant speed tiers (Positive base 80) while slightly out-damaging Hydreigon (197 SpA vs. 194). The Chandelure I was comparing was Timid to be able to out-speed and KO Landorus-T.
Hydreigon of course has the option of going a bit faster, but this is a comparison of scarfed Pokemon anyways. The two have similar coverage (Overheat and Draco Meteor as nukes, Shadow Ball and Dark Pulse hit similar targets, Heat Wave vs. Fire Blast) but differ in that Hydreigon can KO Dragons with Draco Meteor, while Chandelure is relegated to Hidden Power Ice for Salamence/Landorus/Garchomp. Thus Hydreigon had a significant advantage in carrying Earth Power for coverage against Heatran.
Chandelure is also weak to Sucker Punch, but teambuilding can somewhat alleviate that weakness in this metagame despite the omnipresence of Sucker Punch users (as it’s mostly the Fighting-weak Bisharp/Kangaskhan now).
The reason I’ve gone over this is to demonstrate what Choice Specs (or Scarf) Hydreigon has to offer a team, and what strengths it has over a Pokemon with similar coverage options. So how does Latios stack up against Hydreigon?
Thinking about Latios
Latios, in some ways, compares to Hydreigon much like Timid Chandelure. It out-damages Hydreigon slightly, has similarly deep coverage trading Dark Pulse for Psyshock, with filler options of Ice Beam, Thunderbolt or Energy Ball. Latios is also weak to Sucker Punch, and again like Chandelure, also lacks a proper way to hit Heatran for its 4x weakness (HP Ground is a decent option though).
But to Latios’ credit, he has his benefits. While Hydreigon is weak to Fighting, Latios resists it. While Hydreigon is doomed to be slower than the metagame’s Base speed 100 threats, Latios can outspeed them. Latios has the option of going Modest to creep above the neutral Base speed 100 tier, or Timid to outspeed Terrakion and positive Base 100 speed Pokemon. As a result, a Modest Latios poses a threat in team preview that Modest Hydreigon cannot.
I’ve got a bulleted list for Hydreigon’s coverage at the bottom of this article, but decided I didn’t want to take up space in the middle. The point of the list is to show Hydreigon’s role on a team, and help settle on 4 moves for Latios. Hydreigon’s Dark Pulse does a lot for why it’s so good. It also makes better use of its Fire-move coverage by hitting Pokemon with Sucker Punch, something Latios needs support to do. But in return, Latios picks up some options for dealing with Hydreigon’s problem Pokemon. Here’s my tentative Latios, and what it does:
Latios @ Choice Specs
EVs: 68 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 180 Spe
– Draco Meteor
– Energy Ball
– Hidden Power [Ground]
First, it reaches 153 Speed to outspeed neutral Base speed 100 Pokemon; the rest is dumped into bulk. It ends up slightly weaker than Hydreigon on the physical side, but stronger on the special side. As for calcs:
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Draco Meteor vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Kangaskhan: 184-217 (101.6 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Draco Meteor vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Mega Kangaskhan: 184-217 (86.7 – 102.3%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Draco Meteor vs. 244 HP / 4 SpD Mega Kangaskhan: 181-214 (85.7 – 101.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
Something that Hydreigon can’t guarantee, Latios can always OHKO fast Kangaskhans (and anything similarly bulky). Even at max HP investment, Kangaskhan isn’t completely safe. The fact that Kangakshan can Sucker Punch Latios is a bit of a moot point, since Kangaskhan can outspeed and Low Kick Hydreigon anyways. Slower Kangaskhan do get the advantage of moving first regardless though, so it’s a fair criticism. Latios wants a redirection partner like Rocky Helmet Togekiss or Amoonguss for this instance, but so did Hydreigon based on team preview.
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Psyshock vs. 252 HP / 196+ Def Togekiss: 88-105 (45.8 – 54.6%) — 53.5% chance to 2HKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Psyshock vs. 244 HP / 4 Def Sylveon: 157-186 (78.1 – 92.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Any Fighting Pokemon — guaranteed OHKO
Psyshock being able to hit the physical side of some Special walls gives Latios a niche Hydreigon can’t have. Even an extremely physically defensive Togekiss is 2HKOd more often than not by Psyshock. Sylveon gets chunked big time, allowing Latios to combine with something like Earthquake or Rock Slide for the KO much easier. While not listed, Psyshock of course also OHKOs any Fighting Pokemon that Latios might have to deal with. You miss out on hitting Trick Room setters by losing Dark Pulse, but that just defines what roles Latios fills versus Hydreigon.
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Energy Ball vs. 164 HP / 4 SpD Azumarill: 202-238 (103 – 121.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Energy Ball vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Terrakion: 186-220 (111.3 – 131.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Energy Ball vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Rotom-W: 158-188 (100.6 – 119.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Energy Ball vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mamoswine: 254-300 (137.2 – 162.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Energy Ball vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 112-134 (54.1 – 64.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Specs Latios can just guarantee a OHKO on BazAnderson’s Azumarill, which is near the bulkiest Azumarill you’ll possibly face. Even if you max out Azumarill’s HP, Latios still OHKOs 87.5% of the time. An interesting calc to point out is that Latios can actually cleanly KO Terrakion with Energy Ball, and can KO fairly bulky Rotom-W, allowing for better move choice when locking in for the rest of the game. Latios deals with Mamoswine, something Hydreigon misses out on. And while Latios isn’t going to take a Crunch, it can take a Dark Pulse and also 2HKO Tyranitars through sand. The above calc is for a bulky TTar, so as long as you can put TTar near 50%, Latios can finish it off.
Energy Ball also serves as a coverage option for Mega Swampert and Gastrodon, and hits Mega Slowbro pretty hard.
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Hidden Power Ground vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Heatran: 216-256 (109 – 129.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Hidden Power Ground vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Bisharp: 152-180 (107.8 – 127.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Hidden Power Ground vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Bisharp: 152-180 (88.3 – 104.6%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Hidden Power Ground vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Mawile: 118-140 (93.6 – 111.1%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Hidden Power Ground vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Aegislash-Shield: 80-96 (47.9 – 57.4%) — 44.1% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
252+ SpA Choice Specs Latios Hidden Power Ground vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Metagross: 104-124 (66.6 – 79.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
While it’s no Earth Power, HP Ground can at least OHKO Heatrans unless they’re incredibly specially bulky. It can also KO Bisharps that aren’t 252 HP 100% of the time, and 4HP Mega Mawiles ~69% of the time. Those two of course carry Sucker Punch, so Latios will need a relevant partner to make it happen (e.g. Togekiss, Amoonguss), and would prefer a teammate dealt with them anyways. You can 2HKO Aegislash-Shield, but may be OHKOd by Shadow Ball, or risk setting off Weakness Policy, so this isn’t really a good option unless Aegislash has prior damage. Latios also fails to do anything of value against Mega Metagross, while Hydreigon threatens a OHKO, and is slightly bulkier in the face of Ice Punch.
I went into this thought experiment objectively, but it really seems like Hydreigon has a lot more to contribute to a team than Latios. Dealing with Sucker Punch with impunity lets Hydreigon move with a lot more freedom than Latios, and lets it fit on a wider variety of teams. It may be my personal teambuilding bias, but it really seems like Latios would only really work well on a Togekiss team, something Hydreigon does nicely anyways. Amoonguss would also work, but lacks the synergy that Togekiss has with Dragons.
Hydreigon’s biggest advantage over Latios in this metagame is chunking Cresselia something fierce, taking out Metagross, Bisharp and Mawile, and dealing big damage to Trick Room setters. Hydreigon has better options against Aegislash, but nonetheless has to watch out for Weakness Policy.
The strengths Latios offers in return tend to be situational, and sometimes require support. Being confident in KO’ing Kangaskhan is a pretty good argument in Latios’ favour, but to do so safely you’d want something like Rocky Helmet Togekiss or Amoonguss anyways to clean up bulky Kangaskhans. This is a job that Hydreigon does already. Latios being above the Base 100 speed tier is an invaluable tool that shouldn’t be ignored, but with Sucker Punch being ever-present it can’t take advantage of this in a good portion of games without support; an important plus though!
Latios’ ability to deal better with troublesome Faeries like Sylveon, Togekiss and Azumarill is worth noting however. This is probably the greatest counterbalance to losing out on Dark Pulse coverage, and Latios’ best argument for inclusion. The other great strength Latios has to offer is that it doesn’t have to worry about Fighting Pokemon, which are quite common in a metagame where Kangaskhan still reigns supreme.
So pros and cons to using Latios>Hydreigon:
- Deals better with Faeries
- Deals better with Fighting
- Energy Ball offers unique, albeit niche coverage
- Can’t threaten Psychic type TR setters like Cresselia
- Fears Sucker Punch
- Doesn’t hit Metagross or Mawile convincingly
All in all, I hope this look into Latios vs. Hydreigon has been useful. The two have tangoed in the past over the role of launching boosted Draco Meteors. Hydreigon won out both times in mature metagames, and people haven’t forgotten that at the start of VGC 2015. But Latios does have its merits. Based on the coverage they provide, the two can’t simply be swapped in and out on teams. Hydreigon partners well with redirection in the same way that Latios does to avoid its weaknesses, but Latios needs it more.
Essentially, Latios seems to have been relegated to use as a niche Pokemon on a specific team. Quite a fall from grace as the once-default nuke button of past generations. But it doesn’t seem like it’s an unpolished gem waiting for its chance to shine once more.
To its credit, I can see Latios doing well. It has many strengths of which I hope I’ve convinced you. But the difference in teambuilding is that you’d have to start out with Latios and build carefully around it, while Hydreigon can just be plopped onto most teams and perform admirably.
p.s. here’s that list
Hydreigon’s coverage list
- Gothitelle and other TR setters
- General nuke (37.5% chance to OHKO 4HP Kangakshan)
- Dragons (Salamence, Hydreigon, Garchomp, Lati@s)
- Focus Sash Breloom
- Scarfed Gardevoir
- Jolly LO Mamoswine