Pokemon of the Week 12: Tyranitar, the Armor Pokemon

Mimikyu, Pokemon
Pokemon and Daniel Arsham team up for art collaboration.. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company, James Law /

Welcome to Pokemon of the Week, the twelfth installment in a recurring series that looks at the impact of some of our favorite Pokemon on the anime, TCG and VGC. Taking a trip down memory lane to see the impact these Pokemon have had on the series and our lives is what makes Pokemon the magical thing it is.

Tyranitar has been around since the second generation and has been a fixture in the fandom ever since. The Armor Pokemon was the pseudo-Legendary Pokemon of its generation and has ascended to legendary status over the course of time. The only ever Rock- and Dark-type Pokemon it has set itself apart from the rest for more than two decades.

Tyranitar is the slowest of all the pseudo-Legendary Pokemon but the Mega comes with a different combination of numbers. Mega Tyranitar has the highest Attack and Defense of all Dark-type Pokemon. Furthermore, it has the highest base stat total of all Dark-type Pokemon and is tied with Mega Diancie for highest base stat total for all Rock-types.

For all the popular and dominant Pokemon that have appeared on this list so far most have crossed over to other forms of media or gaming. So far, however, this monstrosity has only appeared as a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. That being said the Armor Pokemon has more than made up for this lack of appearances elsewhere by making repeated impacts throughout the Pokemon universe. As the original bringer of the sandstorm to the world it makes sense that it should have that level of impact.

Pokemon Sword and Shield, Mimikyu
Photo: Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield key art.. Image Courtesy The Pokémon Company International /

In the anime

Even though all that success has been alluded to, in the anime Tyranitar has often played more of a background role. It made its initial appearance in a dream sequence belonging to Ash’s Larvitar as the sad Pokemon remembered a traumatic experience that resulted in its separation from its mother.

Alain would use a Tyranitar in the finals of the Kalos League and went up against Ash’s Pikachu. Despite what should be a pretty clear type advantage Alain’s behemoth was quickly dismissed by Ash.

Throughout the years Tyranitar would appear as a background character or in the opening sequences of multiple movies. It was regularly feautered anytime the various Mega Pokemon were being showcased as a way to remind fans that while the traditional Tyranitar was more popular there was always the looming shadow of its Mega forme. Multiple times in the shows history there were Tyranitars throwing a temper tantrum only to be calmed down by one hero or another.

While the big Pokemon regularly came off as ornery and upset there was oftentimes a reason for its aggression. Dating back to the original appearance it was a mother protecting its child, further cementing what Tyranitar would become in competition. It is the protector and the glue that holds many strategies together.

(Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images) /


Tyranitar has been successful in the TCG going all the way back to 2005. It was commemorated in one of the World Championship decks after Dark Tyranitar was piloted to the finals in the Senior division. There were two different Dark Tyranitars that made up this strategy, one being a pure Dark-type and another being the rare dual Dark- and Fighting-type.

After this marked success Tyranitar would mostly vanish from the top tables of TCG competition until its return as part of a useful Tag Team Pokemon, Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX made appearances starting at the 2019 World Championships.

As part of the rogue Dark Box strategy, the Tag Team had two useful attacks that could come in in a pinch to steal games. First came Greedy Crush that did 210 damage and if it was used to knockout a Pokemon EX or GX then the attacking player takes an additional prize. Its GX attack, Gigafall GX, does 250 damage and if it has five extra energy the top 15 cards of your opponent’s deck are discarded.

The cost of both of these attacks is steep but they are game-breaking. This led to it helping two players finishing in the top 80 spots of the World Championships. It would continue to be a part of the strategy as it found its niche in the Expanded format.

It found a new home in the evolution of the Mewtwo & Mew GX deck that became a fixture in the most recent format known as Ultimate Mewtwo. This allowed the Mewtwo & Mew GX deck to take extra prizes in the right scenario, hit for weakness against Dragapult VMAX and gave it an alternate win condition against control strategies.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) /


VGC has and likely always will be the place where Tyranitar reigns supreme. While it has only won one World Championship it has still never been far from the competitive landscape.

That World Championship actually came all the way back in 2012, where Ray Rizzo third and final World Championship. Tyranitar had five top eight finishes at that event as well as two in 2010, three in 2013 (including runner-up), four in 2014 (including runner-up), two in 2015, one in 2018 and was on track to be a fixture in 2020 before it was called off.

In 2012 Tyranitar was everywhere, being the basis for any strategy that wished to take advantage of the weather and would create a sandstorm. This raises the special defense of all Rock-type Pokemon and does incremental damage to a variety of Pokemon. For example, at the Charlotte Regional Championship in 2012 Tyranitar was a part of Ashton Cox and Wolfe Glick’s finalist teams at the event.

As of the release of Sword and Shield Tyranitar was one of the top Pokemon in the format. It started at the Bochum Regionals in January where it finished in second place. The following week it would finished in seventh place at Dallas. The International Championships in Melbourne one month later saw five top eight finishes for the Armor Pokemon in addition to many other Day 2 finishes.

Before the season paused it was part of the winning team of two of the final three Regional Championships. Like Dragapult that we discussed last week Tyranitar has been banned from the format as it was far too ubiquitous a presence.