Welcome back to Tactical Tuesdays, where we take a Pokemon every week and attempt to provide an in-depth competitive analysis of it. This week, we’re continuing our coverage of all three Hoenn starters by looking into Blaziken! So hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, because, for the first time, we’re about to dip our toes into the ferocious waters known as the Uber tier. If you have any comments, questions, or requests, please leave them below.
HP: 80 – Average
Attack: 120 – Outstanding
Defense: 70 – Okay
Special Attack: 110 – Excellent
Special Defense: 70 – Okay
Speed: 80 – Mediocre
High Jump Kick
Hone Claws (TM)
Fire Blast (TM)
Flame Charge (TM)
Shadow Claw (TM)
Stone Edge (TM)
Sword Dance (TM)
Power-Up Punch (TM)
Agility (Egg move from mult.)
Baton Pass (Egg move from mult.)
Night Slash (Egg move from mult.)
Knock Off (Tutor)
Thunder Punch (Tutor)
Generation V, as I’ve said many times in this column, was an amazing generation for competitive Pokemon. A slew of new Pokemon, features, and traits that defined the generation left a near-permanent mark on the metagame, or, at least, changed it for better or worse. The Dream World was one of these earth-shattering new elements that turned everything on its head; bringing the new “hidden abilities” with it, the Dream World blew the door right open for new possibilities. Old and tired Pokemon like Espeon and Xatu were given new life with Magic Bounce, “useless” Pokemon such as Politoed and Ninetails skyrocketed to the top of OU when granted Drizzle and Drought, and old-guard Pokemon such as Dragonite became relevant once more with the likes of Marvel Scale. But how could one forget, arguably, the best ability of them all? Let’s get this out of the way quickly – Speed Boost is an ability that tends to make nobodies into somebodies when it comes to competitive Pokemon.
Even when it was first introduced in Generation III, the lone possessors of the ability, Ninjask and Yanmega, brought a slew of quirky, yet effective, strategies that made use of just its ability alone. Ninjask was functionally a part of ever tier from NU to Uber because of its unique ability to slowly garner Speed Boosts passively, even though all of its stats sans speed were absolutely atrocious. Even this early on, we already witnessed the power of Speed Boost and how it would impact the meta-game.
Generation V and VI then decided to let all hell loose by giving a number of Pokemon the newly christened hidden ability – Sharpedo went from a RU-tier glass cannon to a threat to be reckoned with in OU due to its incredible new speed and naturally insane attacking prowess, and Scolipede shot straight up to OU and Ubers with its new unique blend of speed and hazard setting. But of course, we can’t forget about perhaps the single luckiest Pokemon in the franchise – the Torchic line also received a divine gift from Arceus by also being granted the coveted Speed Boost.
But what was life like for Blaziken before Speed Boost? In short, nothing special. It was seen as a good wall-breaker in UU because of its excellent dual-stab, but was always downplayed because of its not-OU-worthy speed. In fact, it was believed that Infernape was a better Blaziken in every sense of the word, possessing far superior speed and mixed-sweeping potential. But guess what Speed Boost fixed for Blaziken? You get one guess.
Speed Boost makes monsters out of average Pokemon, and Blaziken is the best example of this. All of a sudden, Blaziken became the most feared wall-breaker and sweeper in the OU tier, being harder and harder to revenge kill the more Speed Boosts it accumulated. It somehow gained the best physical options in the game for the arguably best attacking STAB in the game with Flare Blitz and High Jump Kick for the fire and fighting type respectively, with both moves clocking in at a terrifying base 120 and 130 power. A single Protect with max speed investment meant that Blaziken could already out-speed its natural checks, the “bulky waters”, and could even set up a potent Swords Dance that would break the entire meta. When the physically defensive gate-keeper of OU, the mighty Skarmory, shudders in fear over a single Pokemon that KOs the rest of the tier, it’s not hard to see why Blaziken was quickly banished to the Uber tier to never been seen again.
The Ubers tier is where the most terrifying of Pokemon reside. Kyogre and Groudon constantly are locked in a power struggle for weather, Mewtwo tears apart all Pokemon with its overwhelming mix of special attack and speed, Giratina and Lugia induce automatic rage-quits with their unmatched pure-wall makeups, and the almighty god of Pokemon himself, Arceus, enters the fray with his many forms, each being more unpredictable than the next. How on earth could Blaziken ever survive when pitted against the likes of Ho-Oh, Palkia, and Zekrom? The answer is simple – it makes use of its natural abilities to go toe-to-toe with the legends and, with good planning and prediction, come out on top. As already mentioned, Blaziken possesses two amazing dual STABs in Flare Bliz and High Jump Kick, and even gets excellent coverage options in Brave Bird and a slew of other moves. In fact, standard attacking Blaziken is among the easiest Pokemon to use; a single Protect gets the speed chain going, Flare Bliz and High Jump Kick act as standard STABs, and one slot remains for either an interesting support or set-up option, or an additional coverage move.
Indeed, there’s quite a few ways to utilize Blaziken, even in the face of Xerneas and Deoxys. Agility or Swords Dance can build its attacking stats up to truly terrifying levels, a quick Baton Pass can make an already dastardly Uber Pokemon even worse to deal with, or perfect team-mate Groudon can set up the sun in order to make Blaziken one of the definitive wall-breakers of the tier.
It should be warned, however, that Blaziken is not an instant win button in the Uber tier. A number of Pokemon put a stop to it, namely Giratina/ Giratina-O, both which are immune to High Jump Kick and resist even a +2 Flare Blitz like it’s nothing. Predictable uses of High Jump Kick can lead to being countered by Protect or switching in an aforementioned Ghost type, automatically costing Blaziken a whopping half of its HP. And, of course, common Extreme Speed users such as Rayquaza, which also resists its dual STABs, also have no trouble KOing Blaziken due to its pathetic defenses by Uber standards. But, with this in mind, let’s delve into some of my favorite shop-wrecking sets for the flaming chicken.
1.) “Flaming Chicken”
[email protected] Orb
Ability: Speed Boost
EVs: 252 Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Swords Dance/Brave Bird
– Flare Blitz
– High Jump Kick
– As previously stated, Blaziken might be the most “idiot proof” Pokemon to use in the Uber tier. Whereas others such a legendaries have a plethora of viable options, the best Blaziken has to offer is pretty much exactly what you’d expect without putting much thought into it. A Life Orb makes the absolute most of what the chicken has to give, making each attack hit harder and harder next to Swords Dance.
– You have to keep in mind that this Blaziken is very prone to killing itself; Life Orb damage, Flare Blitz recoil, and the massive draw-back to missing High Jump Kick, which takes away a whopping half of your health.
– This is very much worth it, however, because Blaziken’s dual STABs are absolutely lethal when combined with a Life Orb and even just one Swords Dance. High Jump Kick takes care of a huge part of the tier, hitting the likes of Dialga and Arceus for massive damage on top of hitting many, many Pokemon for scary strong neutral damage. Flare Blitz also works incredibly well in conjunction with HJK, with perfect accuracy and the ability to hit even harder under Groudon’s sun.
– Protect is an absolute necessity on any Blaziken that has any type of offensive purpose in mind. Without Speed Boost’s effect, Blaziken is a high-UU/low-OU Pokemon that gets out-sped incredibly easy, and OHKO’d incredibly easy due to its lack-luster base speed and defenses. A single Protect jumps Blaziken’s speed up to reasonable levels, able to out-speed more of the bulkier legendaries of the tier. An additional Speed Boost puts its speed levels up to common Choice Scarf users, while a third makes you virtually untouchable except the speediest of Scarf users.
– I’ve put Brave Bird as a good substitute for Swords Dance if you so desire. However, you should keep in mind that although Blaziken’s base attack is pretty awesome, it’s kind of in the middle of the pack when compared to the rest of the Uber tier. If you wish for Blaziken to be a true contender among Mewtwo and Arceus, you’ll most definitely need the attack boost that Swords Dance provides.
Ability: Speed Boost
EVs: 252 Attack, 252 Speed, 4 HP
– Swords Dance
– Flare Blitz
– Baton Pass
– Perhaps the most fun thing about using Blaziken is being able to bluff an attacking set then using Baton Pass. Yes, the above set is most definitely the most common that I’ve seen, Mega version or otherwise; however, Blaziken also was granted the incredibly strategic Baton Pass, and, much like its Speed Boosting predecessor Ninjask, just a great job of building up passive buffs and transferring them to a team mate. Except Blaziken can actually fight back.
– Any Ubers player will tell you that it’s completely expected for Blaziken to Protect on the first turn it gets, and this holds true for this set. A single Protect, once more, makes Blaziken not completely useless by suddenly being able to out-speed many of Uber’s non-Choice Scarf users. However, additional Protects can be used either on a switch (In which case Protect fails and gives you another 100% accurate attempt), or after you’ve modulated attacks to either Swords Dance or Flare Blitz.
– Passing Speed Boosts is great, but passing Swords Dance makes it even better. Due to Blaziken’s tendency to force switches after just a single Speed Boost, opportunities for a Swords Dance or two are more plentiful than you might think. After a Swords Dance, you can get yet ANOTHER Protect off, adding to your Speed Boost turns, and making a guaranteed quick Baton Pass a near certainty.
– Like with any Speed Boost set, however, you need to be careful; when passing any type of speed, via Speed Boost, Agility, or whatever, you need to watch out for the “quick Baton Pass”. What this means is that although you’ll be able to Baton Pass before your opponent’s turn, your opponent then gets a hit on whatever Pokemon you bring out via Baton Pass. Be careful that you don’t BP straight into a super-effective move that could very well OHKO you, and thus completely wasting your effort at a chain.
– Flare Blitz is a great way to stop Blaziken from becoming set-up fodder against Uber’s plentiful threats, and also keeps Blaziken from becoming complete Taunt bait. With the EV spread still heavily favoring an offensive presence, this Blaziken is also perfectly capable of being an offensive threat by itself should your Baton Pass strategy take a turn for the worst.
- Blaziken is incredibly popular because of its typing and design, but it’s also nice that it got such a useful ability. Bringing the “cool” factor with it into battle is just the icing on the cake for what is among the better options in Ubers when it comes to a wall-breaker that can set-up both Attack and Speed at the same time.
– Unlike Mega Sceptile and Mega Swampert, I don’t think I’ll be doing Mega Blaziken. Why, you might ask? Well, it’s because Mega Blaziken honestly isn’t that different from regular Blaziken. All of its stats are boosted, but its ability remains Speed Boost, making strategies from it functionally the same, except a bit more lethal because of its increased stats. Really, you could just substitute Blazikenite in favor of either Life Orb or Leftovers for the above stats, and you’d be set.