Hello again, fellow travellers and PvPers! As I’ve done many times before (officially starting last April with Abra/Alakazam with Counter), I’m here to take a close look at this month’s Community Day spotlight Pokémon and examine its merits in PvP. And this month, that means the last of the Gen5 starters to receive its own special day. After Serperior got a boost that propelled it into true PvP viability after its Community Day in April, but then Emboar mostly let us all down in July, let’s see how SAMUROTT looks as we put it… under the lights.

First, as always, let’s break down the Pokémon itself…

Samurott Water

Stats

Great League Stats

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Attack Defense HP
129 (127 High Stat Product) 102 (102 High Stat Product) 132 (137 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-14-14, 1500 CP, Level 20)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
165 (163 High Stat Product) 130 (132 High Stat Product) 175 (177 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-15-14, 2498 CP, Level 32.5)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
179 (191 at Level 50) 136 (145 at Level 50) 182 (194 at Level 50)

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; CP 2826 at Level 40; CP 3194 at Level 50)

So Samurott LOOKS tough, with a muscular build that may lead you to think of bulk, but it’s actually the least bulky Water starter we’ve had yet. Blastoise being bulkier is surely no surprise, but Empoleon? Swampert? Feraligatr? Yep, they all outpace Sam in terms of bulkiness. So that’s not great.

Samurott also gets us back to pure Water for the typing for the first time since Gatr in Gen2, with Swampert of course being a Mud Boy, and Empoleon having its infamous Steel subtyping. So while Samurott is not critically weak to Grass like Swampert is (quite the opposite, actually, as we’ll see shortly) or vulnerable to Fighting and Ground damage like Empoleon, it does retain Water’s typical frailness to Grasses and Electrics, while single resisting Water, Ice, Fire, and Steel.

Overall, not an exciting start, but let’s see what else we’ve got!

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Movesets

Fast Moves

  • Waterfall – Water type, 4.0 DPT, 2.67 EPT, 1.5 CoolDown)
  • Fury CutterBug type, 2.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 0.5 CD)

Two very different ways to trick out your Samurott. First is Waterfall, with its high damage (and STAB on top of that) and slightly below average energy generation. But much more unique among Water starters is the option of Fury Cutter. Not only does this represent higher energy generation than any Water fast move (the highest currently being Bubble and its 3.67 EPT… which is actually the ONLY Water fast move with higher than 3.0 EPT), but it comes in a desirable typing: Bug, which deals at least neutral damage to everything that resists Water (Dragons and other Waters) and super effective damage to Water’s most notorious nemesis: Grass types.

But can it capitalize on that unique advantage and find a way to stand out from other Water starters? Well to answer that, we need to include the charge moves in the picture…

ᴱ – Exclusive (Community Day) Move

ᴺ – New Move (Newly available during/after Community Day)

Charge Moves

  • Razor Shellᴺ – Water type, 35 damage, 35 energy, 50% Chance to Reduce Opponent Defense -1 Stage)
  • Hydro CannonᴱWater type, 80 damage, 40 energy)
  • Megahorn – Bug type, 110 damage, 55 energy)
  • Hydro PumpWater type, 130 damage, 75 energy)
  • Blizzard – Ice type 140 damage, 75 energy)

So the exclusive move that you can only get during Community Day hours (and up to two hours after), surprising absolutely no one at this point, is of course Hydro Cannon. It’s actually the least potent of the “starter pack” of Community Day moves (Frenzy Plant deals 100 damage for 45 energy, and Blast Burn a whopping 110 for 50 energy), and has the lowest Damage Per Energy (DPE) of the three at “only” 2.00 (FP is 2.22 DPE, and BB at 2.20 DPE)… but make no mistake: Hydro Cannon is a disgustingly good move that greatly elevates the performance of anything blessed enough to have it.

And in Samurott’s case specifically, it’s especially a blessing thanks to coming in at a full 15 energy cheaper than any other charge move Sam has had to date. That means it instantly becomes not just a source of solid damage when it connects, but Samurott’s first true “bait” move as well, much like with Swampert where sometimes it wants to go straight Cannon, and other times what it really wants it to snag a shield with Cannon and then close things out with a big Earthquake or Sludge Wave.

Samurott doesn’t come with either of those, but it DOES have a trio of big closing moves of its own. Hydro Pump* deals massive, usually KO damage, but obviously offers no coverage. Blizzard actually deals more damage on paper, but in practice, Pump deals 10+ more damage due to having the STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) multiplier… but of course, Blizzard offers very good coverage as well, especially against Grasses, though both it and Sam’s Water moves are resisted by opposing Waters. But just as Fury Cutter has good advantages when paired with Water, so too does Megahorn, a Bug move which — as a reminder — hits everything Water does not for neutral (Dragons, Waters) or super effective (Grasses) damage. It is also Samurott’s most energy-efficient closing move, having the same damage to energy ratio (2.0) as Hydro Cannon, and coming 20 energy cheaper than Blizzard or Pump. Outside of perhaps certain limited metas down the road, Megahorn is the closing move you want to run on Samurott.

So operating under that premise, let’s see what the numbers show. Here is Samurott’s best pre-Hydro Cannon in Great League and in Ultra League, just to set our barometer. Pretty awful, right? Well, I am very happy to report that Hydro Cannon does offer a VAST improvement. By running Megahorn and Hydro Cannon, here’s what happens:

  • In Great League, Fury Cutter Sam picks up wins versus (going alphabetically) Abomasnow, Bastiodon, DDeoxys, Haunter, Hypno (and Shadow Hypno), Meganium, Mew (yes, with Wild Charge), Munchlax, Serperior, Talonflame, Umbreon, and Venusaur. It’s pretty obvious with even a quick scan what the biggest gains are: Samurott becomes a pretty decent Psychic counter (remember that Bug is super effective versus Psychic types, as well as Darks which is why Umbreon’s name now pops up too), can now deal enough Water damage fast enough to outrace Bastie and Talon, and perhaps most importantly, becomes a Water starter that legit beats down many big-name Grasses. It doesn’t do enough fast enough to overcome Razor Leafers, but a pure Water-type beating stuff like Venusaur, Meganium, Serperior, and Abomasnow is no small feat. Of course, these show as pickups because Hydro Cannon is now stealing a shield and then Sam is doing all its damage with its Bug moves (well, Bastie, Haunter, Mew, Umbreon, and of course Talonflame go down to just Fury Cutter and Hydro Cannon alone, but you know what I mean), but the sims ARE delaying the Cannon bait until it has the energy stored up to use Megahorn, and if any of those Psychics or Grasses DON’T shield and it turns out to Megahorn, they only go down faster. They’re baits, but they’re ones where if the opponent guesses wrong, they’re going down and they probably know it, forcing them to usually shield even when they don’t want to.
  • Waterfall Sam in GL can now beat Bastiodon, Greedent, Medicham, Melmetal, Munchlax, Obstagoon, Pidgeot, Skarmory, Swampert, Umbreon, and Whiscash. Nice to see Umbreon still goes down, and of course Bastiodon, but otherwise this list is different than the new wins that come with Fury Cutter. While Fury Cutter Sam had the majority of its pickups be things weak to Bug, here it’s more a matter of just dealing big unresisted damage. In fact, all of those new wins besides Umbreon come thanks to JUST the Water moves, and even the loss of Umbreon is compensated by a new win popping up versus regular and Shadow Hypno… one to keep in mind if you ever end up in that matchup, and one that pushes Waterfall Sam’s win total to the same number as Fury Cutter (18 rather than just 16, since it can beat Umbreon with Megahorn AND Hypno if you’re clever enough to go straight Cannon), just getting there a different way. Of course, neither of these reach the lofty heights of the more popular Hydro Cannon users like Swampert or Empoleon — or heck, even Blastoise — but it’s at least viable now, and can do something those others can’t… get into a drag-out brawl with many of the most common Grasses (and Psychics, for that matter) on even ground and straight-up win. That’s going to matter on the right team and/or in the right Cup meta one day.
  • For completeness, a quick look at shields-down scenarios shows that Fury Cutter Sam gains new wins Clefable, Cresselia, Haunter, Shadow Machamp, Munchlax, Shadow Nidoqueen, PowderTales, Umbreon, and Whiscash. Shieldless Waterfall Sam is a bit less impressive (not surprising considering that Fury Cutter allows Sam to reach multiple unshielded charge moves more often), but does make gains in beating Clefable, Dewgong, Drifblim, Melmetal, Shadow Nidoqueen, PowderTales, Sableye, Sylveon, Talonflame, and Toxicroak. Too slow to get things like Umbreon, but still a nice list of new wins.

Moving up to Ultra League now…

  • Fury Cutter Samurott sees familiar trends in its pickups: regular and Shadow Abomasnow (Grass), Umbreon, and Cresselia and Lugia (Psychic). But the sheer speed of Fury Cutter into Hydro Cannon also leads to wins against Shadow Nidoqueen, PowderTales, Shadow Snorlax, Registeel, Articuno, and Galarian Stunfisk. Nice gains there. Sam’s overall win record is still shaky (and doesn’t offer eye-popping numbers in other UL formats either), but it is undoubtedly much, much better now.
  • If you’re going to run Samurott in Ultra, Waterfall separates itself a bit more, with a higher win spread that now includes Articuno, Bronzong, Drifblim, Empoleon, Escavalier, Granbull, Greedent, Melmetal, Alolan Muk, Alolan Ninetales (Powder or Charm), Shadow Snorlax, Galarian Stunfisk, Swampert, and Togekiss. If you’re counting at home, that’s fifteen new wins with the addition of Hydro Cannon. Again, still not a great record by the numbers in open or limited format Ultra League, but there may be a team that can find room for it now, whereas it was just completely unviable previously.
  • And again, for completeness, let’s take a look at shieldless matchups. Interestingly, along with the new wins I will list, there are also some notable new losses when going from Hydro Pump or Blizzard to Hydro Cannon, which does make some sense when you think about it… when you know you can get a charge move around shields, something that deals 130+ damage is certainly much better than Cannon’s mere 80. And so, 0 shield FC Sam gains Bronzong, Defense Deoxys, Alolan Muk (with either Snarl or Poison Jab), Scrafty, Skarmory, Shadow Snorlax, Galarian Stunfisk, Swampert, and Togekiss — a similar list to its gains in 1v1 shielding — but new losses pop up versus Gengar, Shadow Nidoqueen, Talonflame, and Shadow Swampert. 0 shield Waterfall Sam picks up Gengar, regular and Shadow Machamp, Shadow Nidoqueen, Sirfetch’d, G-Stunfisk, Toxicroak, and Umbreon, but loses now to Drifblim and Alolan Ninetales.

So overall… well, I think we can at least label Samurott as spicy now, as opposed to a complete joke before. What you can do to help it a little further long during Community Day is find ones with really good PvP IVs, as then it has the potential to flip things like Registeel and Cresselia in Great League and stuff like Scrafty, Politoed, and Bronzong in Ultra League. Not vastly better, but hey, every little bit helps!

But we’re also not quite done… Samurott is actually getting access to TWO new charge moves this weekend. Hydro Cannon is a Community Day exclusive, but remaining in its movepool afterwards is brand-new-to-GO move Razor Shell. Unlike Hydro Cannon, this is purely a bait move, dealing only 35 damage for the same amount of energy. Its one advantage is coming with a 50% chance of slashing the opponent’s Defense, just as the move is known for in other Pokémon games. But uh… Hydro Cannon is only 5 additional energy and can deal an extra 45 damage in the here and now rather than hoping to deal more damage (by maybe reducing the opponent’s Defense) later. You really don’t want it with Fury Cutter, as its high energy gains are best applied to charging up big closing moves rather than spamming an underpowered move like Razor Shell, but even with slower charging, higher damage Waterfall, which better appreciates spammy moves and likes the idea of reduced Defense for the enemy, it just doesn’t work. And don’t even get me started on Ultra League…. 😬

Samurott TL;DR

I’ve been excited about Samurott’s potential for a long time… but I had a bad feeling that even post-Community Day, it would remain more on the fringe than at the core of any PvP metas. And lo and behold, even with Hydro Cannon AND the recent buff to Megahorn, if I’m being honest, it remains more curiosity than an exciting new Water option. Still, its ability to beat up on Umbreon and Psychics, turn the tables on several Grasses, and outrace a number of other big names will mean something at some point, I’m almost sure of it. Open formats may not be ideal, but Samurott’s unique profile will give it play with the right meta around it, and it didn’t have even that much going for it until now.

And thus continues a recent run of mostly unexciting Community Days, with fellow Unova starter Emboar with Blast Burn being just a bore, and Altaria being barely better than before, and upcoming Dusknoir looking like a very poor man’s Cofagrigus. (But you know I’ll still be breaking that down anyway when the time comes. 😉)

Bonus Razor Shell Sneak Peek

But before I let you go, let’s do a little speculating with Razor Shell for a minute, because it’s hardly exclusive to Samurott and family in MLG. Does it help any of its other potential recipients)? Let’s see!

  • One family I’ve seen people whisper about excitedly with Razor Shell is the Slows. Slowbro is a popular (though fringey) pick in Ultra League right now, but with Confusion powering out its charge moves, and those charge moves all being 55 energy or more, it certainly appreciates the potential of a true bait move with Razor Shell, now with the potential to beat things like Dragonite, Abomasnow, Gallade, Gyarados, Articuno, Swampert, Granbull, and even Skarmory, though, without the Psychic (the move) that Shell replaces, it does lose to fellow Waters Lapras and Politoed. And while it doesn’t make Galarian Slowbro much better overall than (picking up a potential win over Snorlax), it does give it a fun new flavor. As with many others, I hope to see this one happen.
  • Escavalier is already great in PvP, and in multiple leagues. But Razor Shell would give it an excellent bait move and potential new wins against Shadow Hypno, Defense Deoxys, DIggersby, and Politoed in Great League, and the chance to beat Galvantula, Gallade, DDeoxys, and Shadow Politoed in Ultra League (though no Drill Run means new losses to Nidoqueen and Gengar). Not drastically better, but a very nice sidegrade option.
  • Others that stand to get a bit better are Kabutops (who currently has Mud Shot or Fury Cutter alongside Stone Edge, but no good cheap charge move to pair with it), Barbaracle (who would just become even more unpredictable), and possibly Drednaw and Golisopod down the line. The potential is there… Samurott may not want it, but Razor Shell may make a PvP impact later anyway!

So once again (bonus TL;DR!), the quick summary on Samurott… get good ones with Hydro Cannon for Great League and Ultra League, as it’s a viable-ish Water-type that does a great job threatening Psychics and Darks and can be a legit anti-Grass counter too. It’s still behind most other Water starters but has some nice niches. Don’t worry about Razor Shell for it though… Hydro Cannon is much more worth it for just 5 extra energy.

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon.

Continued thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last nearly three years now of PvP play, and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And thank you for reading… I appreciate your attention and encouragement.

Catch you next time, and good luck out there, Pokéfriends!

(Photo credit for the sweet header image to DarthRaae. Thanks for another winner!)

Original Reddit article can be found here.

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