Prepare for Trouble, and make it especially Double, Puclonians! After quite a dry spell, it is finally time for a deluge of “Celebrate” installments of Double Trouble this month.
As is customary for these articles celebrating the writers of PUCL and their work on behalf of the community, I asked Scron what three of his favorite Pokémon were. His picks were Arbok, Eelektross, and, of course, Crobat! Here’s a quick examination of them in the context of the VGC format!
As far as badassery and Pokémon mix, Arbok is at the top of the coolness charts. It has the honor of being Jessie’s first fully evolved Pokémon in the anime which gives it huge Team Rocket (and by extension, Double Trouble) cred, it is involved in one of the most explicitly violent and therefore badass scenes in the manga, and it is purple. What? Purple, especially in Pokémon, is cool! See: Mewtwo, Master Balls, and obviously Arbok. Aaaaaand… that’s where I have to stop praising all the good things Arbok represents. While Arbok has a lot of cool features to brag about in the broader Pokémon world it has very little to brag about in the VGC, having no noteworthy history or accomplishments to its name.
It is sort of ironic, though, that Arbok has the single most influential Ability in the VGC, Intimidate (if you want Shed Skin, take a look at Scron’s article on Arbok oriented for playing in the singles format – in the VGC, there’s no way you WOULDN’T pick Intimidate). Yet in spite of having such a coveted Ability for the VGC, with so many more viable Intimidaters available, Arbok is too far down the list to have ever been the best choice for Intimidate. Still, the fact that Arbok has such a good Ability at all is its biggest selling point, and guarantees that Arbok will never have done nothing for you in the VGC.
If you for some reason insist on using Arbok in the context of the VGC, at least Intimidate would guarantee it could provide team utility. And Arbok can even outspeed and one-shot the ever-popular Sylveon! That is a pretty significant and useful benchmark to meet. And it could hypothetically keep the utility going with Glare! Take THAT, Ground types that demolish Arbok! HA! Arbok also has a surprising amount of coverage moves available to it, but be aware that even a maximum Attack Adamant Arbok fails to knock out a Garchomp in one hit with Ice Fang, despite the quadruple weakness to Ice. You could improve your situation and get the KO after using Coil, an awesome but poorly distributed move boosting Attack, Defense, AND Accuracy all by one stage and one of the rarer moves Arbok has access to, but the VGC is NOT kind to most set-up for most Pokémon. Still, there are plenty of worse (and less cool) Pokémon.
Moving on to another Coil-capable favorite of Scron’s, Eelektross is more notable than Arbok in the context of the VGC format, if by nothing else, by virtue of the fact VGC 2011 only allowed the use of Unova Pokémon. Unsurprisingly, given the restrictions, Eelektross had quite a solid and successful year in that VGC format. Having no weaknesses, solid (enough) bulk, a wide and unpredictable movepool (including but not limited to: Flamethrower, Grass Knot, Acrobatics, Flash Cannon, Rockslide, and whatever Electric attack you want – all this just back in VGC 2011) and the stats to attack from either side of the spectrum saw to that. Even with a Legendary Electric type Pokémon available to players, Eelektross was good enough and district enough to merit plenty of healthy use and successes – it certainly liked Trick Room more, and Trick Room was really good (shocker).
But even without the VGC 2011 format giving it a noteworthy history for doubles, Eelektross is legitimately viable in the VGC even today, although it would be a pretty hard sell. In a format like the current VGC of 2015, in now has to compete for a slot with the likes of Zapdos, Raikou, both Thundurus formes, as well as those pesky (if not Legendary) Rotom forms among others, but Eelektross is unique enough with enough strengths in its favor that for certain teams, it would be the best choice possible. The fact that it is an Electric type with an immunity to Ground types gives it something in common with the most successful Electric types in the format (beware those Mold Breakers though).
What sets it apart from its competition is definitely how much more it prefers Trick Room, though. AND without the Ground weakness or taking up one’s precious Mega Evolution slot while adding more weaknesses to deal with, AMPHAROS. With a speed reducing nature, the viability of mixed sets increases as well, and Eelektross definitely has the stats and the movepool to take advantage of this in a meaningful way. Unsurprisingly, Quiet and Brave natures combined are on more than half of all Eelektross. Also, using a set-up move like Coil in the fast-paced VGC immediately seems dubious, but having completely accurate Rock Slides is an impressive and noteworthy possibility at the very least. If you ever run into an Eelektross in the VGC, do not immediately write it off like you might an Arbok.
Rarely is it the case that among someone’s list of favored Pokémon, their very favorite also happens to be the most viable. And yet Scron is lucky enough to have that to be the case with his signature favorite, Crobat. Crobat has been a relevant fixture of the VGC for years, occupying a small but private niche, and having graced many teams that have done well at regional tournaments around the world.
Crobat’s biggest selling point in the VGC is having what is arguably the most reliable turn-one Tailwind in the game. More reliable than anything with Prankster, even. This is because of its Inner Focus ability combined with its blazing Speed stat. Whereas even Prankster Pokémon intended to set up Tailwind like Whimsicott and Tornadus, or even Galewings Talonflame, can be flinched by Fake Out’s higher priority, Crobat can be relied up to set a Tailwind up even in the face of a Fake Out user by virtue of its ability. And if your team strategy heavily relies on it, even if Crobat accomplishes nothing else, that reliability can be worth the teamslot in and of itself. Fortunately, Crobat does have other assets to bring to the table while performing this specific role.
Like Taunt. It is not quite as powerful as a Prankster Taunt, but a 130 Base Speed Taunt is literally the next best thing and great for shutting down all sorts of opposing shenanigans and strategies like Trick Room, allowing Crobat to hinder opposing strategies in addition to setting up a reliable Tailwind for those interested in using it. Crobat rounds out its precise support movepool with Quick Guard. Because after you double your team’s speed, NO, your opponent does NOT deserve to get around that with priority attacks. It also has Brave Bird for STAB (and, if you are truly willing to sacrifice another slot, Roost to heal the recoil)which, if Talonflame has taught us anything, still hits extremely hard even coming off of Attack stats below 100. Another route many people opt for, however, is Super Fang, allowing Crobat to contribute meaningful damage against even the bulkiest of opponents, and reducing the need for investing EVs into Attack (everyone’s favorite Pachirusu used it). Yet another useful attacking option is U-Turn allowing Crobat to keep the momentum going after setting up. Some combination of the aforementioned moves, combined with the possibility of the ubiquitous Protect, compose the majority of move sets for Crobat, although of course there are outliers. Given Crobat’s speed and capacity for reliably setting up immediately, it does a fairly good job of setting up Weather as well (Rain Dance is the 10th most commonly seen move on it). Unsurprisingly, Crobat’s most commonly held item is a Mental Herb, ensuring not only flinches fail to stop it, but those damnable Pranksters with Taunt, the only Pokémon with even a chance of preventing Crobat from doing what it does better than anyone else, fail. It may not be a metagame-defining powerhouse, or a Pokémon with incredible staying power through bulk, but by golly, Crobat has still managed to make a name for itself in the VGC, and unless GameFreak creates a Pokémon Ability that sets up Tailwind automatically (they have certainly done crazier things), it will continue to be a relevant presence in the doubles format, occupying a niche no one else can fill as well.
Happy (upcoming) Birthday, Scron, my Poison Type Pal! You are awesome as head of the writing staff and it is always good working with you! For anyone who somehow hasn’t read Scron’s In The Meta series, do so (immediately)! It has its own tab and the latest entry is just a few posts beneath this article. Until next time, it looks like I’m blasting off again!~