VGC18 Pokémon Analysis – Tyranitar

Written by Damon Murdoch

Championships Battle Season 8 Ranking: 8th
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Unweighted: 12th (11.81300%)
1500: 12th (13.24225%)
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1760: 11th (15.06136%)

Throughout the history of VGC, Tyranitar has frequently been used as a disruptive weather setter to counter strategies such as rain or sun. It also has been used to drive teams built around its own weather condition. Tyranitar runs many similar sets to the ones it opted to use in 2015, such as Life Orb or Choice Scarf, but it also has many new and interesting sets now. Both Darkinium Z and Tyranitarite have become very powerful options too. Dragon Dance is also a common move choice now, which hasn’t seen play since 2014. With these and other options, Tyranitar is shaping up to be an interesting Pokemon in the 2018 format.

Notable Moves

Rock Slide

As one of the best moves in the game, there is almost no reason to not run Rock Slide on Tyranitar. It functions extremely well on Tyranitar as a source of powerful STAB spread damage, as well as coverage for common Pokemon such as Charizard and Zapdos. In addition to this, Rock Slide’s 30 percent chance to flinch a target provides you with an acceptable win condition even in situations where you really shouldn’t have one.

Damage Calcs


Crunch provides fantastic neutral STAB damage for Tyranitar, as well as options to hit common threats such as Mega Metagross and Cresselia. Crunch is used on almost all Tyranitar sets except for Darkinium Z sets, which can opt to use Foul Play instead for greater Z-Move damage as well as for abusing Snorlax Belly Drum.

Damage Calcs Crunch
Damage Calcs Crunch - Black Hole Eclipse
Damage Calcs Foul Play - Black Hole Eclipse


Protect is an extremely important move on Tyranitar due to its poor defensive typing and it allows it to play safely against common threats such as Low Kick Incineroar, Landorus-T and Hitmontop while a partner Pokemon attacks or switches in to provide better positioning. Tyranitar that do not run Protect tend to be mostly Choice item or Assault Vest variants. Without Protect, there are too many Pokemon that can OHKO Tyranitar.

Low Kick

Low Kick is a common coverage move typically used on Choice Scarf or Trick Room sweeping Tyranitar. It allows Tyranitar to deal heavy damage to common threats such as Heatran (120 BP), Kangaskhan (100 BP), Snorlax (120 BP) and other Tyranitar (120 BP). On Choiced Tyranitar, Low Kick is typically used alongside Ice Punch in the tech slots. However, Trick Room sweeping Tyranitar needs to run Protect over one or the other unless they opt to use both over Crunch if necessary.

Damage Calcs

Dragon Dance

Dragon Dance is a powerful setup move which can enable Tyranitar to set up and heavily chunk, if not sweep, unprepared teams. It can be used to punish your opponent’s passive plays or by using dedicated setup methods such as Fake Out or redirection support. Dragon Dance is far more common on Mega Tyranitar than regular Tyranitar, as the added speed and bulk makes it easier to get value out of boosts.

Ice Punch

Ice Punch is a strong coverage move which allows Tyranitar to hit Landorus-T and Mega Salamence super effectively. However, its utility outside of hitting those two Pokemon is limited. This move is almost exclusively used on regular Tyranitar, as Mega Tyranitar simply does not have room for it given that it needs to run both STAB moves as well as Dragon Dance or Low Kick.

Damage Calcs


Superpower is effectively Low Kick, but with more consistent damage at the cost of reduced attack and defense after it is used. This move allows for extra damage against several Pokemon which heavily threaten it such as Kangaskhan and Kartana compared to Low Kick (100 BP and 20 BP, respectively). However, the stat drops caused by Superpower make it much more difficult for Tyranitar to both take hits and deal damage and typically require Tyranitar to be switched out to get any value out of it afterwards.

Damage Calcs


Assurance is a move almost exclusively used on Choice Scarf Tyranitar as a replacement for Crunch because it allows for extra damage to be dealt when used alongside faster attackers such as Excadrill and Salamence. When used in conjunction with a partner Pokemon’s spread attack, Assurance can be used to OHKO Mega Metagross.

Damage Calcs

Notable Items


Overall the most common item used on both platforms, Tyranitarite provides Tyranitar with an impressive boost in its base stat total as well as a second chance to trigger its primary ability: Sand Stream. This makes Tyranitar extremely useful against opposing weather match-ups. Tyranitar which opt for this item choice are typically built as Dragon Dance sweepers with dual STAB options and Protect.

Weakness Policy

Weakness Policy abuses Tyranitars solid bulk and common weaknesses to massively boost its damage output after taking a hit. This often allows it to tear large holes in opposing teams and can even discourage your opponent from attacking it in a best of 3 scenario. Similar to Weakness Policy Aegislash, it forces your opponent to play differently against you with weaker super-effective moves which are often used to chip Tyranitar. Weakness Policy is a very versatile item on Tyranitar, and can be used on both Dragon Dance and Trick Room based sets.

Choice Scarf

Mostly used on Excadrill-Salamence based sand teams, Choice Scarf provides Tyranitar with the means to outspeed and heavily damage a lot of common Pokemon it would otherwise have trouble with such as Mega Metagross and Kartana. Choice Scarf Tyranitar is typically used with Assurance to synergize with its faster partner Pokemon on a set with Rock Slide and coverage options such as Ice Punch, Superpower, Fire Punch and Flamethrower.

Darkinium Z

Popularised by Eduardo Cunha’s Metagross Goodstuffs team in the early metagame, Darkinium Z Tyranitar is a powerful set which allows you to OHKO common Pokemon such as Mega Metagross, Cresselia, and Aegislash. Darkinium Z Tyranitar can run both Dragon Dance and Trick Room offensive sets and typically runs the standard move set outside the possibility of replacing Crunch for Foul Play for greater damage output from Black Hole Eclipse.

Life Orb

Most commonly used on variants of Carson Confer’s Charizard Y TailRoom team, Life Orb Tyranitar provides you with consistently powerful attacks at the expense of bulk over time rather than the single big hit provided by Darkinium or the reactionary damage boost provided by Weakness Policy. Unlike the previous items mentioned, Life Orb is seldom used on Dragon Dance sets due to the recoil and is mostly used for dealing reasonably high damage consistently under Trick Room or Tailwind.

Sample Sets

Mega Tyranitar

Bulky Dragon Dance Mega Tyranitar

Tyranitar @ Tyranitarite
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 188 HP / 60 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Rock Slide
– Crunch
– Dragon Dance
– Protect

The most common EV spread used on Pokemon Showdown’s 1760 weighted usage stats, this EV spread provides Mega Tyranitar with solid bulk and speed to outpace Pokemon such as Tapu Koko after Dragon Dance and live powerful attacks such as Ludicolo’s Hydro Vortex in sand or Landorus-T Superpower after Intimidate. Less attack investment means that this Tyranitar is more reliant on setting up to deal big damage than other sets, but the bulk makes it easier to do so consistently.

Offensive Dragon Dance Mega Tyranitar

Tyranitar @ Tyranitarite
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 244 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Rock Slide
– Crunch
– Dragon Dance
– Protect

The second most common EV spread used on Pokemon Showdown’s 1760 weighted usage stats, this spread exchanges bulk for much higher attack investment and drops a single point in speed to invest in HP. This set provides Tyranitar with much higher damage output, but less bulk and lower speed means that it is harder to set up initially. The reduction in speed also makes it more difficult to win the matchup against opposing Mega Tyranitar.

Regular Tyranitar

Standard Bulky Tyranitar

Tyranitar @ Life Orb / Darkinium Z / Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 HP / 164 Atk / 20 Def / 4 SpD / 68 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Rock Slide
– Crunch / Foul Play
– Low Kick / Ice Punch / Superpower
– Protect

Overall the most common EV spread used on Pokemon Showdown’s 1760 weighted non-mega Tyranitar, this EV spread provides Tyranitar with heavy investment in bulk to survive attacks from common threats such as Landorus-T and Metagross. It also provides Tyranitar with the speed required to out-speed Jolly max speed Mega Metagross under Tailwind.

Dragon Dance Tyranitar

Tyranitar @ Darkinium Z / Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Rock Slide
– Crunch / Foul Play
– Dragon Dance
– Protect

The second most common EV spread on Pokemon Showdown’s 1760 weighted usage stats for non-mega Tyranitar, this simple EV spread sacrifices bulk for speed and allows Tyranitar to outpace Mega Metagross after a dragon dance boost and deal heavy damage with powerful moves such as +1 Crunch or Black Hole Eclipse. While providing faster damage than the first set, this set requires much greater team support to set up due to the reduced bulk.


Depending on the item choice, Tyranitar’s role on a team will typically vary and as a result, they usually have quite different partners.

Mega Tyranitar appreciates redirection or Fake Out support to assist Tyranitar in getting up a Dragon Dance to sweep. For this reason, Amoonguss and Hitmontop are often used as support Pokemon. One example of a team that does this well is Barry Anderson’s Malmo / Oceania Internationals team. His team was built around Volcarona, Tyranitar, Jynx, Tapu Bulu, Lucario and Azumarill. It utilizes heavy setup based Pokemon and support them with Follow Me Lucario and Fake Out Jynx to ensure they get set up.

While Mega Tyranitar appreciates Fake Out support, it does not necessarily require it to be effective. The standard team of Mega Metagross, Mega Tyranitar, Tapu Lele, Zapdos, Amoonguss and Landorus-T utilizes Mega Tyranitar more as a backup Mega for match-ups where Metagross isn’t as ideal. It uses Amoonguss for redirection support to setup Dragon Dance when required. These teams can also opt to run Choice Scarf or Darkinium Z, although this is more common on the Tapu Fini variation of the team.

Dragon Dance Tyranitar sets which utilize Darkinium Z or Weakness Policy typically appreciate similar partners to Mega Tyranitar. However, generally less support is allocated to it as the reduced speed and base stat total compared to its Mega Form makes it harder for regular Dragon Dance Tyranitar to sweep. These sets often abuse the surprise factor of running Dragon Dance on regular Tyranitar to punish passive plays made by the opponent.

Trick Room sweeping Tyranitar appreciates support from Trick Room setting Pokemon such as Porygon2 and Cresselia, as well as counters to its common weaknesses to other Trick Room attackers such as Mega Camerupt and Mega Mawile. Unlike Mega Tyranitar, regular Tyranitar sets are less likely to have the team built around them and are typically used as a utility Pokemon to cover weather match-ups as well as provide consistent damage inside and outside of Trick Room.


Fighting Type Moves

Tyranitar’s poor defensive typing gives it a lot of common weaknesses that need to be accounted for when team building. Coverage fighting type moves from Pokemon such as Kartana, Incineroar, Landorus-T, Mega Kangaskhan and other Tyranitar are extremely good against Tyranitar. They can often pick up an OHKO before the Intimidate drop and sometimes even after the drop. Strong Fairy-type Pokemon will often pair with Mega Tyranitar as a result of this. Tapu Fini and Tapu Lele can deal big damage to STAB fighting type Pokemon, but they typically struggle against Kartana.

Steel Types

Mega Mawile and Mega Metagross are two if the biggest problems for Tyranitar. Mawile is able to take very little damage and deal heavy damage back and Mega Metagross is able to out-speed and potentially KO it with Iron Head. Therefore, Fire-type attacking partners such as Heat Wave Zapdos, Charizard Y, and Volcarona are common partners for Tyranitar.


Intimidate users such as Landorus-T, Hitmontop and Scrafty are very safe switch-ins to Mega Tyranitar and threaten heavy damage to it whilst also dropping its attack stat. These Pokemon can often force you to play defensively with Tyranitar by either switching it out or Protecting it and making a play with your partner Pokemon to put yourself in a better position.

Alternative Options

Mega Tyranitar can be put on teams for a number of purposes such as weather control, Trick Room sweeping or setup sweeping. While only it can really perform all of these roles by itself, several Pokemon which can be used for similar purposes if required are listed below:

Sand Supporters

  • Gigalith
  • Hippowdon

Setup Sweepers

  • Azumarill
  • Mega Charizard X
  • Snorlax

Trick Room Sweepers

  • Snorlax
  • Gigalith
  • Mega Mawile
  • Snorlax
  • Mega Camerupt
  • Stakataka


Tyranitar’s incredible power and versatility make it one of the best Pokemon in the VGC 18 format. Its consistent damage output, powerful weather support, and high base-stat total makes it a powerful Pokemon. Any team needing a counter to opposing weather conditions and/or a strong setup sweeper should look to Tyranitar.

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