One of Pokémon’s most intimidating characters is coming back into the Pokémon Sword and Shield VGC format in March, and the community is already voicing their concerns. Instead of being intimidated by Incineroar, however, let’s learn how to counter it.
Why is Incineroar so strong?
This is a common question among newer players who didn’t see Incineroar tear up the scene in VGC18. Once Inceneroar got Intimidate as a Hidden Ability, it became one of the top support Pokémon in Pokémon Sun and Moon. Intimidate is always a strong ability in doubles battles because it affects both opponents.
Intimidate isn’t the only thing that Incineroar has going for it. It has 115 base Attack, 90 base Defense and Special Defense, and 95 base HP. These are great base stats, and they allow Incineroar to deal a lot of damage while still being bulky. Its access to Fake Out and other great moves also contribute to its strength.
Which Pokémon counter the cat?
Milotic is easily Incineroar’s strongest counter. Its ability, Competitive, directly counters Intimidate by increasing Milotic’s Special Attack by two stages when its Attack decreases. While Fake Out is still annoying, none of Inceroar’s moves threaten this Water-type tank. Milotic can safely spam Muddy Water or Scald to take care of the fiery feline.
Primarina was quite literally made to counter Incineroar. It was the Water-type starter in Sun and Moon, and its Water/Fairy-typing counters both of Incineroar’s Fire/Dark-type STAB moves. Primarina is also a special attacker, so it doesn’t care about Intimidate. If Primarina has a Modest nature, it can invest 4 EVs in Speed to outspeed Incineroar.
Braviary’s ability, Defiant, is similar to Milotic’s Competitive. When Braviary’s Attack is lowered by Intimidate, it will increase by two stages, resulting in it being one stage higher than it was originally. Braviary can learn Close Combat, too, which is super-effective against the cat. Nothing Incineroar has will be super-effective against Braviary, and this bird Pokémon should be able to win a duel against it.
Bisharp also has Defiant, but its typing makes it a worse choice than Braviary or Milotic. Nevertheless, Bisharp can stand to gain from being hit with Intimidate. It also can learn Brick Break, which gives it a valuable Fighting-type move to use against Incineroar. Bisharp will outspeed it as well, which gives it an advantage.
Pretty much every Water-type special attacker does decently enough. The only real concern here is if Incineroar runs Snarl, which is why Pokémon with abilities that counter stat changes are so valuable. Running a Pokémon that has Intimidate itself, such as Gyarados, is also a decent option to drop its damage.
Remember that Incineroar can’t be reliably one-hit KO’d. It’s best to try to deal with other threats while mitigating the damage it can do. Once March comes around, be prepared to see a lot of it in Pokémon Sword and Shield.