Speed Control: Options and Analysis

Hey there Hat Lovers,

Today’s article is going to be a further discussion on Speed in the ORAS metagame. There are many things that aren’t 100% in Pokemon; you have inaccurate moves, flinch chances, critical hits and more. The best players look for ways to either give themselves consistently favourable RNG rolls, or avoid random chance altogether. The former is a discussion I briefly brought up a long while back in my article “The Blame Game.” Today I’m going to focus on an aspect of the latter: ways to avoid random chance altogether. And possibly the most predictable thing in Pokemon is not move accuracy, not flinches, not crits, not random burns or freezes, but Speed.

Why you should think about Speed

See, the Plusle and Minun trainer is what we call “bad”

With the ability to reliably predict what moves first based on which Pokemon has the highest Speed stat, building your team’s Speed options is of the utmost importance. I would argue that EV’ing to hit important Speed stats is just as important as trying to minimize inaccurate moves on a team. If you don’t build your team with the ability to reliably predict what Pokemon moves first, then you leave yourself at a real disadvantage. For example, it’s really good practice to make each Pokemon on your team have a unique Speed stat; if you have two Pokemon on the field with the same Speed stat, you are unable to predict which will move first and which second, which can complicate turns quite a lot.

Beyond simply EV’ing for success, you will likely find that strong teams in VGC 2015 have at least one Pokemon that can control which Pokemon move first; the current VGC 2015 format has quite a few options for Speed control. Today, I’ll be looking over those options to give you, the reader, an insight into what each option brings to the table. Specifically, I’ll be looking at Trick Room, Tailwind, Thunder Wave-like, Agility-like, Icy Wind-like, and Rock Tomb-like. I won’t discuss moves like Scary Face, or moves that have niche distribution like Sticky Web, because they’re pretty terrible. Honestly, that list contains some sketchy options already.

Options for Speed control

  1. Trick Room
  2. Tailwind
  3. Paralysis
  4. Agility-like
  5. Icy Wind/Electroweb
  6. Rock Tomb-like

1. Trick Room

Cresselia

The premier Trick Room setter

Trick Room lasts for five turns, including the turn it is set up. That means that you set up Trick Room, and for the next four turns the slowest Pokemon on the field move first. Trick Room has the distinction of being the longest-lasting on-field effect for Speed control. The unfortunate part of using Trick Room is that it has a negative priority, meaning you’ll be guaranteed to move last that turn. This leaves the user open to attacks from the opponent’s Pokemon, which makes setting up Trick Room unscathed nearly impossible.

As a result, Trick Room setters traditionally are incredibly bulky, such that they can take a hit and still be useful the next turn. Unfortunately, Trick Room’s distribution is limited to mostly Psychic and Ghost types. This leaves most Trick Room setters vulnerable to a powerful Dark attack like Knock Off from Bisharp or Dark Pulse from Hydreigon. Aromatisse, Kecleon and Porygon-2 are the only noteworthy (i.e. bulky) non-Psychic non-Ghost types that have access to Trick Room.

From the past few years, most successful teams I’ve seen incorporating Trick Room have used it with mid-Speed Pokemon that didn’t have to rely on Trick Room against many Pokemon; but they could take advantage of the move when facing fast opponents. For example, Pokemon like Heatran (Base 77 Speed) or Scizor (Base 65 Speed) are fast enough to out-Speed extremely slow Pokemon reliably, while under-Speeding most Pokemon in the metagame. Priority moves also make for a good back-up plan when Trick Room expires or can’t be set up.

I’ve also seen teams that dedicate to setting Trick Room up as their primary game plan. While a hardcore Trick Room team can work, it really needs to be built with as many ways to disrupt the opponent on Turn 1 as possible. Due to Trick Room’s negative priority, Fake Out users are a must-have for any dedicated Trick Room team.

2. Tailwind

Togekiss

Togekiss, bringer of flinches and despair

Tailwind was buffed in generation VI, getting an extra turn of effect. After the turn where Tailwind was used, the team will be at double speed for another three turns. Tailwind functions much like Trick Room but with a much better distribution. Tailwind has the advantage of having neutral Priority, meaning a Tailwind user can set up Tailwind as a last hurrah before being knocked out. Talonflame was used this way throughout VGC 2014.

With its extensive distribution, Tailwind can also function as a great surprise play when you predict a switch. For instance, Whimsicott often forces switches with the threat of Prankster Encore, while Charizard-Y threatens powerful Fire attacks that often force people to switch. However, just like Trick Room users, Tailwind users benefit from being extremely bulky. You’re most likely to see Tailwind being set up by Pokemon like Suicune, Togekiss or Zapdos. But any time a Pokemon can set up Tailwind, it’s sure to pay dividends. If I had to pick a move that was most likely to see success on an obscure Pokemon, I think it would have to be Tailwind.

3. Paralysis (Thunder Wave / Glare / Stun Spore / Nuzzle)

Making waves across this great nation

The above four all have one thing in common: paralysis. Paralysis is one of the most powerful forms of Speed control, being the only method that’s effectively permanent. Once a Pokemon is paralyzed, barring niche moves or Abilities, it isn’t going to get un-paralyzed. While a Pokemon is paralyzed, its Speed is cut down to 1/4 of its original stat. Paralysis also comes with the benefit of a 25% chance for the recipient to be fully paralyzed.

The disadvantages of Paralysis as a method is that the most available method (Thunder Wave) is an Electric-type move. This means it cannot hit Ground-type Pokemon, and thus is useless against them. As of generation six, Electric types are now also immune to paralysis. Lastly, the niche-but-relevant Ability “Lightningrod” can prevent Thunder Wave from hitting its desired target, possibly at the cost of buffing Raichu’s Special Attack.

Glare is much better, being 100% accurate and able to paralyze even Ground-type Pokemon. The only problem is its distribution. The only Pokemon I can see using Glare in battle are Serperior, Smeargle and Heliolisk. I wouldn’t say that’s a promising list, but the power of paralysis could be worth it for some people.

Lastly, Nuzzle has the nice advantage of being able to break Focus Sashes while also dealing paralysis, fulfilling two purposes in some games. Its distribution is similarly horrible. The only Nuzzle Pokemon you’ll ever see a semi-competent player using are Pachirisu and Raichu.

4. Agility / Autotomize / Rock Polish / Dancing

1fb51-mega-charizard-x

No team is complete without a Dragon Dancing Charizard X!

A personal Tailwind is never a bad thing. Unlike Tailwind, the use of a personal setup move will also remain until you switch out. Like Trick Room or Tailwind, a Pokemon using an Agility-like move really wants to be bulky so it can stand to take a turn off to just set up.

One of the issues with a dedicated Agility-like move is that most of the bulky Pokemon that can set it up also have access to Tailwind. All the partners on your team would hate your Pokemon if it was so selfish as to set itself up rather than support the team. Not to mention that many Pokemon aren’t going to stay in and also survive more than 4 turns anyways. At least not without the support of a partner. So for most teams, you’d likely be better off setting up Tailwind.

Dragon Dance offers a nice way to both set up your Speed and have something to do afterward. To be really effective at +1 Speed, a Dragon Dance Pokemon really wants to be able to out-Speed the major threats of the metagame like Base 110 Pokemon (178 Speed), Mega Salamence (189 Speed), or scarfed Adamant Landorus-T (214 Speed). As such, you’ll Want to at least start with 120 Speed, preferably 127 Speed, and ideally 144 Speed. At that point, if you can, you’ll likely also want to out-Speed Base 100 Pokemon (152 Speed) so you’re not reliant on Dragon Dance for out-speeding opposing teams. There are a few decent Pokemon with Dragon Dance, notably Gyarados, Salamence, Tyranitar, and on the fringe, Dragonite, Charizard and Scrafty.

Volcarona also gets Quiver Dance, which is even better.

5. Icy Wind / Electroweb

Need a new speed controller? Why not Magnezone?

Back to the more common Speed control options, Icy Wind’s great distribution thanks to the ORAS move tutors gives many good Pokemon the option to support the team while dealing chip damage. An often forgotten option for the same effect is Electroweb. What’s really neat is that Electroweb has picked up some new users in ORAS.

Raichu, Pachirisu, Thundurus and Heliolisk all now have access to Electroweb where before they did not. There are more good/decent Pokemon with access to Electroweb like Rotom and Magnezone. I’m somewhat intrigued by Thundurus, Rotom, Magnezone and Raichu having access to the move. Electroweb would be a neat utility move that can’t be Taunted like Thundurus’ usual Speed control option, Thunder Wave. It would also prevent the need for prediction (barring Wide Guard). Rotom would just be flat out surprising, and pretty good just like Icy Wind is in general. Magnezone is a relatively bulky Steel type that might be worth exploring more now that Faeries are relevant; and Electroweb would be useful just like Icy Wind. Raichu being a general support Pokemon anyways could make good use of a move like Electroweb as a parting shot before something else comes in to take advantage of the Speed control.

The major issue with Electroweb, of course, is the same as Thunder Wave; Ground-type Pokemon are immune. This is a major advantage of Icy Wind, but the additional distribution with Pokemon like Thundurus and Rotom ought to give people a reason to consider the Icy Wind equivalent.

6. Rock Tomb / Low Sweep / Mud Shot / Bulldoze

50aa7-garchomp

Garchomp can set up sneaky pebbles too

Moves like Rock Tomb give a Pokemon the option to punish whatever switch-in an opponent brings, while also having some utility for KO’ing 4x weak Pokemon. Rock Tomb gets to hitCharizard/Talonflame, Low Sweep can KO Bisharp and possibly Tyranitar, while Mud Shot deals disappointing damage to Heatran. All of these moves can also threaten 2HKOs on most 2x weak Pokemon if launched from a competent attack stat.

The problem is finding a Pokemon where it’s worth using one of these over a solid damage-dealing attack. After all, why slow down a Pokemon when you could have just KO’d it? But various Pokemon can consider these moves without raising too many eyebrows. Garchomp, for instance, can use Rock Tomb over Rock Slide to beat Wide Guard. Low Kick is really a move you would only use as an answer to Bisharp where that moveslot really wants to accomplish that KO without being useless in every other matchup. Mud Shot… I’m admittedly having trouble with justifying. Heatran is the main 4x weak Pokemon to hit, and it’s far too bulky to fall to something like Mud Shot; at that point, you really ought to be using something else.

Bulldoze gets a mention here because technically it exists.

Conclusion

I think that about covers everything you could possibly see messing with you this upcoming Regionals! The big moves to watch out for are definitely Trick Room, Tailwind, Thunder Wave, Icy Wind, and Dragon Dance; but if I faced something with Electroweb or Glare Serperior, I would be sure to give it the respect it deserved. No matter how you do it, being able to attack before your opponent is one of the best ways to win games. Like I said, most strong teams in VGC 2015 have at least one Pokemon for Speed control. If you don’t have a way to make yourself move first reliably, you’re really missing out on an integral aspect of the game.

VGC 2014 lacked strong options for Speed control, so if that was your first format, then the concept of Speed control can be pretty foreign. hopefully this review has been useful for any players that are a bit newer to the game!

Cheers,

Crawdaunt out

p.s. I never went over Stick Web (an entry hazard), but you could see Galvantula, Shuckle or technically Smeargle using it.

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