Empoleon as a Tera Raid boss in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Screenshot by Dot Esports

Best Pokémon to counter Unrivaled Empoleon Tera Raid event in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

That's one tough penguin.

Empoleon is swimming into the Paldea region as the next seven-star Tera Raid boss in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and this battle is definitely trickier than previous raid events featuring Starters.

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From Thursday, Feb. 1 at 6:00pm CT to Sunday, Feb. 4 at 5:59pm CT, Empoleon Tera Raids will first appear on the Paldea map in the Gen IX games. They will then reappear the following week from Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6:00pm CT to Sunday, Feb. 11 at 5:59pm CT. These Starter Tera Raid events might not sound as appealing now that all Starters are catchable in Scarlet and Violet thanks to The Indigo Disk DLC, but this remains the only way to obtain Pokémon with the exclusive Mightiest Mark. Plus, players who like a challenge might want to see if they have what it takes to defeat this mighty penguin.

Unrivaled Empoleon won’t be easy to defeat—especially if you don’t know what to expect. Here’s everything you need to know to beat the Empoleon Tera Raid in the Gen IX games.

How to beat the Unrivaled Empoleon Tera Raid in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Selfie with Empoleon in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Don’t underestimate this penguin. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Unfortunately, beating Unrivaled Empoleon isn’t as straightforward as other seven-star Tera Raids have been in the past. What makes the Empoleon Tera Raid so challenging is its ability, Competitive, which boosts its Special Attack by two stages whenever one of its stats is lowered. This is especially bad in solo raids where NPCs will use Pokémon with abilities and moves that lower the raid boss’ stats, like Intimidate and Leer.

Therefore, the key to defeating Empoleon is to work around its Competitive ability. In other words, do not use any moves or abilities that can lower Empoleon’s stats, or use a strategy that can change or ignore its ability. This sounds easy, but things can still go horribly wrong when working with NPCs or other players who aren’t aware of how Empoleon’s ability works. 

If you’re attempting to solo the raid, avoid NPCs with Intimidate users like Staraptor, Tauros, and Arcanine. I did a raid alongside the NPCs with Heracross, Gardevoir, and Garganacl, for example, and they thankfully did not lower any stats to activate Empoleon’s Competitive ability throughout the whole raid. The set of NPCs you get stuck with in a solo raid comes down to luck, and you may have to reroll multiple times, so group raids should be much easier as long as everyone is on the same page.

In addition to the penguin’s pesky ability, you must also take into consideration its typing, Tera type, and moveset. There’s a lot to keep track of, so we’ve broken it all down for you.

What type is Unrivaled Empoleon in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Tera Raids?

Empoleon is naturally a Water/Steel-type Pokémon, and it has the Ice Tera type for this specific Tera Raid event. This means you can hit it for super-effective damage with Fighting, Steel, Rock, and Fire attacks, though Empoleon counters Fire and Rock Pokémon pretty well. That’s why Fighting and Steel are the more optimal types to bring to this raid.

What moves does Unrivaled Empoleon know in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Tera Raids?

Empoleon’s moveset isn’t as annoying as its ability, but it does rely on a setup strategy that makes it pretty bulky. It opens up the raid by setting up the snow with Snowscape, boosting its Defense while making its Blizzard 100 percent accurate. It further raises its Defense stat with Iron Defense later in the raid.

All of Empoleon’s attacking moves are special to take advantage of its Modest nature (+ Special Attack, – Attack) and any Competitive boosts. If it gets more than one Competitive boost during the raid, it’ll hit hard with any move it has.

Moves

  • Surf
  • Flash Cannon
  • Ice Beam
  • Grass Knot

Additional Moves

  • Snowscape
  • Blizzard
  • Iron Defense

Best counters for the Unrivaled Empoleon Tera Raid in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

As previously mentioned, Unrivaled Empoleon is tough to beat, but bringing the right counter can increase your chances of success. Iron Hands is a solid pick for group raids, while the Gen IX Fire Starter, Skeledirge, works surprisingly well in solo raids.

Best Iron Hands Tera Raid build in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Iron Hands standing in a cave
Empoleon is gonna catch these hands. Image via Game Freak

Iron Hands is known to be one of the strongest options for Tera Raids, and it’s got a good matchup against Unrivaled Empoleon since it can hit its Ice Tera Type for super-effective damage with Fighting attacks.

Normally, Iron Hands would start by maximizing its Attack stat with Belly Drum in exchange for half its HP, but this is risky to do in front of Empoleon if you don’t have a Light Screen or Defense Cheer up. Instead, it’s safer and easier to just spam Drain Punch while holding the Metronome to increase damage output each turn. 

Drain Punch should heal enough of Iron Hand’s HP to keep it healthy throughout the raid as long as Empoleon doesn’t get any Competitive boosts. Terastallize to the Fighting Tera Type as soon as possible to boost your attacks. This worked nicely in a group raid with fellow Iron Hands users, and it almost succeeded in a solo raid (if I hadn’t ran out of Drain Punch PP).

Tera TypeHeld ItemAbilityNatureMovesetEVs
FightingMetronomeQuark DriveAdamantDrain Punch252 HP 
252 Attack 
4 Special Defense

Best Skeledirge Tera Raid build in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Skeledirge standing on its hind legs in its Pokédex entry.
This croc isn’t afraid of penguins. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Skeledirge may sound like an unexpected counter, considering its Fire typing isn’t ideal in the face of a Water Pokémon like Empoleon. However, Skeledirge’s Unaware ability is perfect against Empoleon since it allows the user to ignore the opponent’s stat changes, as seen in a video by popular content creator Austin John Plays. In other words, the Paldea Fire Starter doesn’t care how many Competitive boosts Empoleon gets because the penguin’s attacks won’t be dealing extra damage. The only time you’ll need to worry about a super strong attack is when Empoleon nullifies Skeledirge’s ability for a turn. Whenever that happens, simply use Protect to keep your crocodile safe. Heal HP with Slack Off when necessary.

And to minimize the damage from Empoleon’s Water-type attacks, it’s important to keep the sun set up with Sunny Day. This also powers up Skeledirge’s signature move, Torch Song, which raises its Special Attack each time it’s used. You’re basically going to be spamming Torch Song and using Protect, Sunny Day, or Slack Off on turns when they’re needed.

Tera TypeHeld ItemAbilityNatureMovesetEVs
FireShell BellUnawareModestTorch Song
Protect
Sunny Day
Slack Off
252 HP 
252 Special Defense
4 Special Attack

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Author
Karli Iwamasa
Karli is a freelance writer based in the Bay Area. She has written about your favorite video games on sites like Dot Esports and TheGamer. When she's not writing, she's playing VALORANT or the latest Pokémon game.