Shiny Pokémon are typically just a rare aesthetic anomaly, but one new addition in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet may have some competitive edge if you’re using a shiny variation: Tatsugiri.
The combination dragon- and water-type Pokémon already made a splash in the competitive scene because of its compatibility with Dondozo in double battles. Tatsugiri is able to hop inside Dondozo’s mouth and give it a stat boost. There aren’t a lot of examples of specific Pokémon having contextual interactions with their battle partner, so just as a cool gimmick, Tatsugiri and Dondozo have become a pretty notable competitive team since they debuted in Scarlet and Violet in November. However, Wolfey, one of the top competitive players in the scene, points out that using a shiny Tatsugiri can maybe help you get one over on an opponent.
Tatsugiri has three forms: its curly form, droopy form, and stretchy form. Each form gives Dondozo a different stat boost, and which form you’re using is most readily identifiable by its color. When you have a Shiny Tatsugiri, that makes things a bit trickier, because not only are these different colors than their original, the Shiny droopy form is very close in color to the standard curly form. Wolfey suggests that the closeness in color is in and of itself a deceptive advantage, as the opponent might have a harder time distinguishing one form from the other.
The one glaring flaw in this strategy is that shiny Pokémon have stars that appear around them when they’re sent out to the field, which would signal to an opponent that they’re looking at a shiny variation. This can throw a wrench into the strategy, though these are less noticeable in 2v2 battles where the camera won’t focus on Tatsugiri as it’s sent out. The strategy relies on your opponent’s either ignorance or lack of attention, but it’s still an interesting idea.
Why using this shiny Pokemon is actually optimal
Countering Tatsugiri and Dondozo is all about knowing what buff to expect, and to adjust your plan accordingly. If Dondozo gets an attack boost, having a strong physical defender would be ideal. If it gets a defense boost, having a stronger special attacker that can circumvent the increase entirely is the way to go. Dondozo can be a powerhouse with the right composition, but preparing for what Tatsugiri boosts is how you keep it from wiping out your team. A shiny Tatsugiri might not fool every player, but it’s an interesting wrinkle to the Pokémon’s competitive career, which has already been fun to watch unfold since Scarlet and Violet’s launch.