Japanese Name: ギャラドス (Gyarados)
Classification: Atrocious Pokémon
Weight: 518.1 lbs
Gender Ratios: Male 50% – Female 50%
Base Stats: HP 95 / Atk 125 / Def 79 / SpAtk 60 / SpDef 100 / Spd 81
Gyarados is a fast, powerful, fragile attacker, period. He is built to run a powerful skill set, whether you give him a little extra for bulk or for offense, and to do as much damage as he is capable of dishing out, which is a lot. Left unchecked, a Gyarados has the very real potential to set up an early game-ending sweep, taking out an entire team if you play it right, as many unfortunate players have likely already experienced. Capable of one-shotting Pokemon with Waterfall, even in strong sunlight, Gyarados is an impressive OU physical sweeper. Sadly, his Special Attack is only base 60, and the water dragon gets some of the best special attacks in the game, which turn into even worse than gimmicks if used.
Gyarados, while not possessing the highest base speed in the metagame, has a very usable base 81 Speed, which allows him to outrun Dragonite and a number of other unboosted Pokemon, and Dragon Dance only serves to make the water dragon a formidable force to be reckoned with. With a single Dragon Dance, a Jolly Gyarados can outrun an unboosted Timid Jolteon, replying back with any number of attacks to inflict massive harm with his base 125 Attack. Unfortunately for Gyarados, he relies quite heavily on his Attack and Speed to get the job done; his survivability is intensely limited by his typing more than his defenses, which still do little to aid him. Gyarados has the quite obvious 4x weakness to Electric attacks, where even a Thunderbolt from a Pokemon that does not get STAB from it will one-shot Gyarados, as well as the weakness to the ever-present Rock type. Gyarados also takes 1/4 HP loss from switching into Stealth Rock, making that particular entry hazard lethal.
Fragile as Gyarados is, however, his Attack and physical movepool make up for it; access to Earthquake, Waterfall, the ever-efficient Ice Fang and Stone Edge makes Gyarados a formidable powerhouse, though one with a rather mono-dimensional range. He is an excellent counter to many Dragon types, being able to supereffectively hit all Dragon/Flying types with Stone Edge and Dragon/Ground types with Ice Fang, and can take on the most hardened Fire types in the sunlight with STAB Waterfall and Earthquake, but is quite easilly walled by Water types and Steel types with immunity or resistance to Ground attacks, such as Ferrothorn and Skarmory, and the ever-terrifying Eviolite Porygon-2.
Still, even the most valiant Steel type runs into trouble with either of Gyarados’ two abilities: Intimidate and Moxie. Intimidate has been used throughout 3rd and 4th Gens to help soften up otherwise overwhelming physical attackers, deal a devastating passive attack against opponents in multi battles, and to weaken his own opponents, which works to great effect in many different situations. Utilizing Intimidate on opponents with a bulkier set allows one to set up a healthy number of Dragon Dances in an effort to engage a sweep, as their non-Electric or Rock physical attacks will be hard-pressed to do enough damage to Gyarados to prevent it without a switch of their own. Moxie is also a brilliant ability for the water dragon, giving it the ability to generate a sickening number of Attack boosts from KOs. An opponent unlucky enough to fail to stop Moxie Gyarados from setting up Dragon Dance and sweeping will, at the end of the match, be facing a +1 Speed, +6 Attack Gyarados, something in and of itself terrifying to behold. It loses the more passive protection that Intimidate offers, but a Moxie Gyarados often carries enough momentum to, if not sweep a team completely, deal enough damage to the bulkiest counters an opponent has to clear the way for the other members of your team.
As was stated earlier, yes, Gyarados has a number of impressive special attacks. He has access to the Bolt/Beam/Thrower trinity, as well as the Thunder/Blizzard/Blast trio, Hydro Pump, Surf, and Hyper Beam. However, with a base 60 Special Attack, none of said moves will have any real effectiveness in the competitive metagame. The only reason that Gyarados should have Surf is if you are planning on making Gyarados into a Surf/Waterfall/Dive/Strength HM user, and/or have the desire to Surf around Unova on something other than a Ducklett or a Basculin. For competition, though, utilizing the special attacks might be a surprise, but the kind of surprise that often leads your opponent to smashing Gyarados to bits seconds later.
In summation, Gyarados is a powerful cannon of a Pokemon, certainly living up to his Atrocious reputation. Despite having his fair share of imperfections, he is a brilliant Pokemon that can give a team a bulldozer to crush a number of troublesome counters to your own Pokemon and make battling in general that much easier. As long as one watches Gyarados’ weak spots and keeps a level head, Gyarados can serve you quite well in the role of the sledgehammer.