Japanese Name: サンダース (Thunders)
Classification: Lightning Pokémon
Weight: 54.0 lbs
Gender Ratios: Male 87.5% – Female 12.5%
Base Stats: HP 65 / Atk 65 / Def 60 / SpAtk 110 / SpDef 95 / Spd 130
Jolteon is, in every sense of the word, a glass cannon. Maybe even more so than a literal cannon made of glass. This Eeveelution is not at all known for its ability to take a hit, with its abysmal base 60 Defense, and even its base 95 Special Defense doesn’t help with an equally-abysmal base 65 HP. Jolteon also suffers from a very weak movepool – expect Hidden Power to give you any sort of variance in type coverage, if you’re lucky enough to get the correct one. Jolteon’s saving graces are the two stats it is known for: Special Attack and Speed. Jolteon is an incredibly fast Pokemon, reaching speeds up to 394 with a positive nature and full investment in Speed EVs. He outpaces the vast majority of the game that is not wielding a Choice Scarf, and even some that DO wield it. Jolteon also has a fantastic Special Attack, capable of cutting a swath of destruction through an opponent’s team.
There are really only six sure-fire competitive moves for Jolteon to choose from, which are Thunder, Thunderbolt, Charge Beam, Shadow Ball, Volt Switch, and Hidden Power. Thunder is a bit of a gamble on teams without Rain support, and getting the mechanics to line up to give you the optimal Hidden Power is a bit like trying to win the lottery. Thunderbolt is Jolteon’s primary attack, for good reason. 100 Accuracy and a base power of 95 with the STAB modifier makes for a very effective strike. Shadow Ball is also a common weapon for Jolteon, seeing as it has the very real potential to take down other Ghost or Psychic special sweepers who would otherwise be able to outpace your other teammates, even without the STAB modifier.
Volt Switch is a 5th Gen addition to Jolteon’s movepool that permits him to act as a scout, being able to Volt Switch away from a tough wall or unfavorable situation in the same manner as a U-Turner. Volt Switch is an Electric attack, though, so you have to be cautious if you suspect a switch-in of the Ground type or if your opponent is a Ground type itself. Charge Beam is an interesting attack, but one better left to lower tiers, such as UU. It has the added effect of raising your Jolteon’s Special Attack 1 stage with a 67% success rate, but the attack itself only has a base power of 50, and with Jolteon’s defenses, you could risk giving your opponent a free OHKO.
Jolteon with Volt Switch has the now impressive ability to scout as well as sweep, making him a much more versatile Pokemon than he was in 4th Gen. Despite the lack of a truly effective set-up move, his Special Attack can inflict major hurt on unsuspecting opponents, especially if equipped with an Electric Gem. While his Electric and Ghost type moves can inflict a lot of damage, Jolteon really has no other type coverage to choose from, so he is easilly walled by Ground types and special walls. Jolteon has access to certain support moves, such as Baton Pass, Agility, and Substitute, but none of them are very realistic in terms of usage; Jolteon will likely have every Substitute break from one hit, he has no real set-up moves to Baton Pass boosts to, and Agility opens you up to a potential OHKO and is rather superfluous with his amazing Speed anyway.
Jolteon’s abilities also have their benefits and drawbacks. Volt Absorb, Jolteon’s standard ability, is a fantastic way to negate your opponent’s Electric attacks and heal Jolteon up through careful prediction skills and smart switches, and can save one or more of your teammates from eating a Thunderbolt they wouldn’t recover from. Volt Absorb also applies to Thunder Wave, another common paralysis move that many Pokemon in the metagame run. Volt Absorb does not protect against the likes of Stun Spore, though, so watch out for Prankster Whimsicott carrying that status move. Also, even though Volt Absorb heals Jolteon, don’t be tempted to use it as a cure-all. Jolteon is still a very frail Pokemon, and throwing him into harm’s way in order to get a lucky heal is reckless. Jolteon’s Dreamworld ability is Quick Feet, which increases Jolteon’s speed by 50% when suffering from a status condition. Again, it’s a useful ability, but it suffers from specificity, and Jolteon is not a Pokemon that enjoys being paralyzed. Volt Absorb has a bit more utility over Quick Feet to that regard.
In short, Jolteon is a cool little Eeveelution that has a lot of spark and power, but he suffers from limitations that prevent him from really excelling at the OU level. He has a weak movepool and his defenses are paper, but he’s still a great Pokemon to use where you need him. His power and speed leave many people with their mouths hanging open, but you need to play Jolteon intelligently, and keep alert for potential switch-ins that will ruin his day.