Double Trouble: The Center of Attention Via Redirection
Prepare for trouble, Puclonians! And as always, make it double, because it is time for yet another installment of Double Trouble! And this week we cover a doubly important topic relevant just to the Doubles format: redirection!
For anyone that does not play in Doubles, the concept of redirection is likely to be entirely foreign to them, because it is a mechanic in Pokémon battles entirely exclusive to Double (and Triple) battles. But if one has interest in the VGC format or Doubles in general, it is absolutely essential to be familiarized with it because it is an extremely powerful tool, literally shaping the formation of teams and integral to many strategies for offensive and defensive purposes. Consider that just last year, everyone’s favorite World Champion Sejun Park used his famous Pachirisu that could use… yup, redirection.
So what is redirection? As the name indicates, redirection is taking attacks and, literally, redirecting them elsewhere. In Doubles, it is almost exclusively used to refer to two specific moves: Follow Me and Rage Powder. Both of which make their users the “center of attention” and force opponents to target the Pokémon using the move. Both moves also have a priority of +2 (it was +3 in previous generations which mattered quite a bit) so the move is almost assuredly used before opponents get to use their attacks, ensuring they are redirected as intended to the Pokémon redirecting.
In a format such as the VGC where there are four Pokémon out in the field at a time and factors to consider such as turn order and far more outcomes and possibilities per turn in a battle, redirection has some obvious applications and reduces the number of possibilities making various maneuvers possible with greater confidence. Most obviously and frequently, you can have a Pokémon redirect all attacks onto it to ensure its partner is safe to get off whatever move it needs to. So let’s just jump in.
Follow Me is considered the better of the two moves so it will be covered first. In years previous, the only especially notable Follow Me user was Togekiss, considered the best user of it for having the highest bulk of all the options (World Champions Sejun Park and Ray Rizzo have both taken Eviolite Magmar and Elecatabuzz with Follow Me to Worlds before, however – a combination now illegal per the Pentagon rule). But last year when we were limited to the Kalos Dex and Togekiss was not available, various other Follow Me users stepped up to the plate. Pachirisu won it all with Follow Me, and just behind it was a Mega/Lucario with Follow Me in second place, ushering in much more aggressive Follow Me Pokémon that can still do a lot even after being Taunted.
But with this year’s return to a National Dex, there have been much bigger changes into what we see using Follow Me. Although Togekiss itself is a completely different Pokémon thanks to its new Fairy/Flying typing and still seeing great success and use this year, what has emerged this year as a surprising new Follow Me user people are seeing success with this year is none other than Clefable (with Clefairy also being viable)! Now a Pure Fairy Type with fantastic Abilities that accomplish different things and an ENORMOUS movepool and solid bulk, Clefable has taken the VGC by storm as a support Pokémon, and Follow Me is a very big part of that. It has Follow Me AND Helping Hand to offer whatever support is best for the situation, can one-shot a Landorus-I with Ice Beam or opt for a STAB Moonblast, and has literally just about whatever coverage or support move you want. And recovery. And Speed control. And status. Of course something that versatile with a good typing and Follow Me is seeing success. It you prefer to rely on luck instead of skill, it also has access to the combination of Follow Me and Minimize and has won a regional with that combo (be aware that the person who won with it claims Minimize was the most useless move for the entire tournament and would replace it if he could go back in time).
And Clefairy offers a unique niche of having even better bulk than Clefable thanks to Eviolite and a very unique way to support the team with its Friend Guard ability (Friend Guard IS somewhat counterproductive alongside Follow Me, but the support it provides is still notable). Clefable and Togekiss have both seen a lot of success this year and are both extremely versatile Pokémon that can do many of the same things. If picking between the two, consider which typing is better for your team and which of their distinctive selling points better serves you.
As for Rage Powder, just one generation ago it was literally just as good as Follow Me, but the transition to Gen VI very palpably hurt it. Rage Powder is now considered a “powder move” (because duh) which means all Grass types are immune to it, as are Pokémon with the Overcoat ability and Pokémon with Safety Goggles equipped (and Safety Goggles see plenty healthy use in the VGC in part because of Rage Powder). While this does make Rage Powder the inferior move, the redirection effect it brings is otherwise just as valuable and Rage Powder will continue to see plenty of use because different Pokémon with different typings and movepools learn it compared to Follow Me, making them more desirable for various teams.
The face of Rage Powder is none other than Amoonguss, who very much lives and dies on powder moves between Rage Powder as well as Spore, both of which virtually every Amoonguss in the VGC runs. Back in VGC 14 when many of the prominent Follow Me Pokémon were not available, Amoonguss was the undisputed ruler of redirection. It helps that in aside from the sheer amount of support Spore and Rage Powder offer by themselves, Amoonguss offered additional syngery with Rage Powder by virtue of its Effect Spore ability which sees use even competing against Regenerator thanks to how common contact moves can be. Paired with a Rocky Helmet, redirecting attacks to Amoonguss does quite a bit to dissuade the attacks that it can guarantee are aimed at it in the first place. To give an idea of how potent access to that combination is, even though Rage Powder is the worse of the two redirection moves, Amoonguss continues to be the most frequently used Pokémon that offers redirection, even after the VGC format opened up to the National Dex again.
And although the most common, Amoonguss is not the only Pokémon one can encounter that brings Rage Powder to the table. Although not as popular as it was in the past (thanks, Talonflame), Volcarona is known to carry the move and was very famously paired with Hitmontop to form a combo known as TopMoth back in Gen V. Just like Amoonguss, Volcarona’s ability also synergizes nicely with Rage Powder, with Flame Body threatening any physical attackers with a Burn for touching it. And an even frailer Rage Powder Pokémon that has seen success with the move is, surprisingly, Vivillon! This Generation’s Butterfree has quite a nice support movepool available to it between Rage Powder, Compound Eyes-boosted Sleep Powder, and its signature Powder move. A Focus Sash is pretty much a requirement for something as frail as it is, but especially last year with a smaller pool of Pokémon to pick from, Vivillon manages to get Top Cuts at major tournaments and ought not be disregarded as a viable Pokémon with access to redirection. On the right, very specific, team, it can pull its weight and is the exact Pokémon you want. Other Pokémon with access to Rage Powder that have not seen the same levels of success but are at least worth naming include Tangrowth, Venomoth, Parasect, and Butterfree, although you likely to find a different redirecting Pokémon will serve you better.
It is also worth noting that while redirection is most frequently used to refer to the effect of the moves Follow Me and Rage powder, there are other forms of redirection in the game as well. Lightning Rod and Storm Drain both function as always-on forms of redirection, although only for Electric and Water type attacks specifically, but Pokémon with those abilities will have them in the VGC for the very specific redirection support they can provide to a team if it is beneficial enough, and it certainly can be.
Now, while redirection is an incredibly powerful and influential tool in the VGC, there are a number of weaknesses it has (aside from Rage Powder’s new faults as a powder move). Another Doubles-exclusive mechanics is very much a foil to it: spread attacks. Since spread attacks hit both opposing Pokémon, trying to redirect them is useless. You cannot redirect a spread attack to only hit one of your Pokémon. Yet another weakness of Follow Me and Rage Powder is that they are both susceptible to Taunt, also a VGC standard. And lastly, although to a lesser extent, being reduced from a +3 priority to just +2 in the transition to Gen VI brought about a number of situations where redirection fails to be as effective as it previously was. At +2, it now shares a speed bracket with Extremespeed, letting a faster Extremespeed user target whatever it wants before the redirection occurs. At just +2, Fake Out is now in a higher priority bracket sitting at +3 whereas in Gen V both redirection and Fake Out were in the same tier, giving a faster redirection Pokémon a valuable edge. These are all things to keep in mind when playing against redirection and to be aware of when using it yourself.
And even with those setbacks, redirection is still solid enough to be incredibly useful and worthy of consideration for a team. So definitely consider it. Your opponents all will. Until next time, Pucl, looks like I’m blasting off again!