And I am back with an all new installment of the RU series! (At least, I think it's all RU at this point, they did change up the tiers...)
I am pleasantly surprised how the Cryogonal thread is going when compared to the some other threads about competitive discussions, and it makes me proud that something actually stimulating can come out of these when you look past the whole usage thing. So I am going to keep the ball rolling by talking about everyones favorite Iron Snake, Steelix.
Ahh yes...the wall of death from Generation II has certainly fallen on hard times in recent years. With the competitive metagame becoming complex and more physical, Steelix has remained the same since Generation II; something that is both good and bad, but well get to that. Despite it's drop to the RU tier after spending much time in the OU/UU brackets, Steelix is still a viable defensive wall; and has some tricks up it's metal sleeves to stay relevant in the metagame if given a chance.
So now is the tale of the tape!
Abilities: Rock Head, Sturdy, Sheer Force (DW)
Right away, it's core stat should jump out at you; a whopping 200 defense. It is, I believe, the second-highest defense for a pokemon in-game,barring Shuckle. That defensive stat alone is half of the reason for Steelix' uses, it can pretty much be the physical wall for 90% of the games primary hitters, barring the OU tier which could penetrate it, like Conkeldur, Breloom and Gliscor. From this it has access to an absurd amount of resistances,11 in total with two, poison and electric, having no effect what-so-ever.
It also has 4 weaknesses, Fire, Fighting, Ground and Water, two of which that can cover Steelix' biggest drawback; Speed and Special Defense. It has a terrible speed stat (which makes sense considering the type of pokemon it is) and a fairly weak Special Defense, a max of 251 if invested with EV and IV. While it's Special Defense is it's Achilles heel, there are a myriad of ways to work around it; and to use Steelix effectively.
One of the strangest things I see with Steelix is people making high attack sets with it. While attacking is a viable option for the iron snake thanks to a respectable 85 Atk Stat, most of the time it takes nature, EV and IV to make it very effective. For me, the best bet has always been a more defensive Steelix; so automatically there should be no investment in Atk or SpA. Speed, HP and Special Defense should be the primary point distributions.
This is borrowing a set from the POTW that I really like as an example.
Solid Snake Set
Steelix @ Leftovers/Air Balloon
Nature: Careful (+SDef, -SAtk)
EV: 252 HP, 252 SpD, 4 Spe
- Stealth Rock
- Dragon Tail
The set above is a defensive one because it sets up Stealth Rocks, the best entry hazard in the game, has Dragon Tail which can disrupt baton-passers and force switch-outs, and for my money, the use of Toxic which can whittle down opponents while still getting the major stab and coverage from Earthquake. Provided that the lead for the opposing team is not something that can effectively OHKO Steelix, the set makes for a good opener to matches, laying down rocks and holding ground until a switch-out is necessary. It has enough attack power to not be taunted, and enough status-inducing power to mess with opponents.
And that is Steelix' trick; it is a very effective physical wall and can stall a lot of teams if you are not prepared.
Here is a set I have used in the past as well:
Nature: Careful (+SpD, -SpA)
EV: 252 HP, 252 Def, 4 Atk
The combo of block/taunt can be devastating if you catch the opponent setting up with a defensive pokemon. Block prevents escape, and if it's on something that is not very effective against Steelix, it can mean a death sentence since it takes so much to kill the iron snake; it is especially useful against pokemon that set up, like Forettress, as well as most poison/electric types and other physical walls. Once the pokemon is blocked, using Rock Polish/Automize will double speed up, 2 hits of that would be enough to speed up significantly, effectively becoming a more viable attack option until death. the STAB for earthquake also hits hard, while Taunt/Toxic can be used for more options to mess with the opponent, or Ice Fang for more coverage, especially against grass types like Whimsicott.
Some other effective moves that Steelix can use include Stone Edge, Gyro Ball, Curse, Rock Slide, Thunder and Fire Fang, Rest combined with Sleep Talk, Roar and Torment. There is surprisingly a lot of options available, and with good scrutiny you will notice a majority of them either have secondary effects or are primarily used for stalling pokemon, the role that Steelix is born to play. Steelix is also a very viable user for Trick Room, especially if you plan on stalling pokemon and wearing them down; the number of combinations that Toxic/Tormnent/Taunt/Block/Stealth Rock can create are great when in trick room, and can really throw a wigit into the opponents strategy.
On the downside, Steelix is not without it's counters. Bulky Waters are the biggest threat; especially ones like Gastrodon and Cloyster, which can take the punishment and dish it out in turn. High powered physical attackers with a lot of speed or priority moves; like Conkeldurr and Gliscor, are also a problem since they hit first and hit hard. Anything with high special attack, like Volcarona, Reniculus and so forth also can rip holes into Steelix if Special Defense is not invested in, and it should be. Almost always. And even the, super-effective hits will be devastating, although thankfully Sturdy still gives a chance for set-up and making the choice move for the match.
So there you have it, an effective pokemon that, despite not really changing much over the years, if given the right support and moveset, can be very damaging against opponents.