Welcome to the fourteenth installment of 6th Generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week, in honor of his confirmation for Smash 4, we'll be looking at a fan favorite since the very first generation. This week we'll be discussing Charizard.
From the moment it is born, the flame at the tip of Charmander's tail indicates its life force; a healthy Charmander has a bright orange flame. If the flame is ever put out, Charmander will die. Charmeleon swings its tail savagely, elevating the temperature of the surrounding area to unbearable levels. This is used to both intimidate foes, as well as make it's own Fire attacks stronger. Its powerful tail is used to knock foes off their feet, before Charmeleon lunges at them and tears at them with sharp claws. Charizard's wings can carry it close to 4,600 feet in the air. It expels intensely hot fireballs from its mouth that can melt almost anything. The fire on its tail burns hotter when Charizard is in a harsh battle.
Base Stats: 78 HP / 84 Attack / 78 Defense / 109 Sp. Attack / 85 Sp. Defense / 100 Speed
-Charizard X: 78 HP / 130 Attack / 111 Defense / 130 Sp. Attack / 85 Sp. Defense / 100 Speed
-Charizard Y: 78 HP / 104 Attack / 78 Defense / 159 Sp. Attack / 115 Sp. Defense / 100 Speed
For being a fan favorite, Charizard has been nearly unusable since its introduction in Red and Blue. It has consistently been outclassed by better Pokemon, and let down by its subpar typing and mediocre stats. With the introduction of Stealth Rock, using Charizard in any serious battle has been laughable at best... until this generation.
The introduction of Mega Evolutions has given many old Pokemon new life, and Charizard is one of only two Pokemon to have been given not one, but two Mega Evolutions. Charizardite X changes Charizard into a Fire/Dragon type, giving it a nearly unresisted STAB combination, and gives it Tough Claws, elevating its physical contact moves to terrifying levels, especially when you consider that it has access to both Dragon Dance and Swords Dance.
Charizardite Y takes another approach, retaining Charizard's type, but drastically increasing his Sp. Attack and giving him access to Drought, not only increasing his Fire attacks, but giving him a useable Solar Beam, making bulky Water switch-ins a non-option. With access to a wide array of coverage moves and even a healing move in Roost, both Charizard forms are absolute monsters to deal with in competitive OU.
Now consider that you won't necessarily know which Charizard form the opponent is using, and that the counters for each form are very different, and Charizard is finally living up to the hype that we had for it all those years ago when we chose him in Red version.
Since Charizard itself without a Mega Evolution is unusable in OU, I won't be doing an analysis for the Pokemon itself in this article, and rather, focusing on the Mega Evolutions.
|Charizard@ Charizardite X|
Blaze [Tough Claws]
Jolly nature (+Speed, -Sp. Attack) / Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Defense
Dragon Dance / Swords Dance
Outrage / Dragon Claw
Earthquake / Roost / Thunderpunch
Before this analysis begins, I'd like to gush for just a moment about how awesome everything is about this Charizard form. A sleek black design with blue, tattered wings, blue flames spewing from his mouth, Fire/Dragon typing... it may not look much like your old Charizard, but it's what we always wanted.
Anyway, onto the actual analysis! Charizard X is one of the most frightening Pokemon in the OU metagame. With access to both of the good physical boosting moves, you can pick your poison. Dragon Dance is the safer option, giving a one-stage boost to Attack and Speed and ensuring that, at the very worst, you tie with positive-natured base 100 Speed Pokemon. Swords Dance, however, gives a two-stage boost to Attack, turning Charizard into a nuke with unbelievable power. To give an example of just how strong it is, +2 Jolly Charizard's Outrage deals 84.6 - 99.7% to Bold 252/252+ Suicune, one of the bulkiest Water types in existence, giving you an 81% chance to OHKO with Stealth Rock on their side of the field. Speaking of which, the choice between Outrage and Dragon Claw is a difficult one. Outrage's raw power gives Charizard the means to break through walls with his dual STABs, but Outrage suffers from leaving Charizard vulnerable to Fairy types while it's locked in. Fortunately, Charizard's Fire type offsets what would be a weakness to Fairy, making him neutral to the attack. Still, giving Azumarill a free Belly Drum or Mega Mawile a free Swords Dance is never a good idea, and can leave you open to being counter-swept by an opponent. Dragon Claw is considerably weaker, but is a much safer option overall, so make your decision wisely, and consider your team before deciding.
The last slot is a tough one. Earthquake is the main recommendation, ridding you of Heatran that lack Air Balloon, who is immune to Fire and resistant to Dragon. Roost is a great move for healing Charizard after a boost, and Charizard's new type removes many of his weaknesses. It does, however, expose him to Ground type moves, so keep this in mind. Thunderpunch is an odd choice, but it gains a Tough Claws boost, and hits Azumarill Super Effectively, who is immune to Dragon and resists Fire, immediately OHKOing Azumarill at once you're at +1 Attack (Dragon Dance). Again, the choice here is up to your team and what you'd like to be able to do.
Jolly nature is recommended to tie with other base 100's and outspeed Pokemon that fall short, but Adamant is viable, especially if you're using Dragon Dance and/or are running Sticky Web support, for much better damage output. Paralysis support is also helpful here, and Ferrothorn is a good defensive partner that can provide it. Thundurus-Genie is a good offensive partner for this Charizard, dealing with many bulky Water types, as well as providing priority Thunder Wave if necessary. Mew can provide Thunder Wave support as well, while also having access to Defog, to help ease Charizard's entry into battle, especially before Mega Evolving. Given Mew's unpredictable nature, this is a good choice for helping ensure a safer entry. Wish or Healing Wish support can also ease Charizard's entry onto the field, and can provide a chance for a late-game sweep.
The last thing I want to mention is that Brick Break is an option for hitting Air Balloon Heatran, and it even gets the Tough Claws boost, but is generally a poor option that provides little utility.
|Charizard@ Charizardite Y|
Solar Power [Drought]
Timid nature (+Speed, -Attack)
EVs: 252 Sp. Attack / 252 Speed / 4 Sp. Defense
Fire Blast / Flamethrower / Overheat
Earthquake / Focus Blast
While Charizard Y might not be the most drastic visual change from the original Charizard, the way it plays certainly is. Charizard Y receives Drought upon Mega Evolving, and his Sp. Attack jumps to an absurd base 159, setting it at 417 Sp. Attack with a Timid nature. This is enough to plow through some of the most dedicated special walls. Fire Blast is the move of choice, sporting a great 110 base power and 85% accuracy is not low enough to be too worried about missing. If you prefer ensuring your hit, Flamethrower is an option, but it comes at the cost of some power. Finally, Overheat is an option to serve as a nuke attack, dealing a massive amount of damage to anything not immune to it (Flash Fire), or anything that doesn't change the weather and resist it (Tyranitar, Politoed). This comes at the cost of a reliable STAB, however, and so it's not recommended unless you favor heavy offense above all else. Solar Beam is recommended as the second move for a few reasons. Not only does it provide a highly powerful Grass attack to deal with Water types, but since weather is far less common in this metagame, it is unlikely to have any drawback. Keep the opposing team in mind, however, especially if they've got Tyranitar, as that's the most common instant weather setter running around at the moment. The third slot is multi-functional; Roost not only heals Charizard by 50%, but also removes the Flying type for that turn, removing weaknesses to Electric, making Rock only 2x Super Effective, and giving a resistance to Ice, while making it susceptable to Ground (this all assumes you're faster than your opponent when Roosting). It also mitigates the damage of Stealth Rock if you're unable to keep it off the field.
The final slot really depends on what you hate. Heatran takes slightly more from Earthquake than it does from Focus Blast (66.3 - 78.7% compared to 54.4 - 64.2%). While this difference isn't too big, what is important is the accuracy. Earthquake's 100% accuracy allows you to breath a bit easier, while Focus Miss will often leave your blood boiling as you repeatedly miss over and over and over and this isn't fair, why is my luck so terr-
Err.. right, so Focus Blast has some accuracy issues, being set to 70% and leaving us to wonder why Game Freak hates us so much. However, Focus Blast has some utility in hitting Tyranitar much harder - even 252 HP, 252 Sp. Defense Careful Assault Vest Tyranitar takes more from Focus Blast than it does from Earthquake, while still being able to deal with Heatran in 2 shots.
Charizard Y requires a Defog and/or Rapid Spin supporter is mandatory to keep Stealth Rock off the field. Latias makes a good defensive Defog user, while Latios can be a great offensive partner that forces switches, allowing you to keep hazards off the field while being a significant threat. Forretress can provide Rapid Spin support, as well as your own entry hazards to chip away at opponents. Excadrill can provide Rapid Spin and Stealth Rock as well, if necessary, while also threatening Heatran and Tyranitar (though it should not be switching directly into either of their attacks).
Ah, finally an easy one. Charmander is offered as a starter choice by Professor Sycamore in Lumiose City. Didn't pick it? Well, fear not! The days of starter choice being an actual decision are far behind us, as Charmeleon can be obtained in some Fire Friend Safaris. Here is what I'd recommend for your in-game Charizard:
|Charizard@ Charizardite X|
Roost / Flare Blitz
|Charizard@ Charizardite Y|
For Charizard Y, you really don't need to do much thinking at all for playing it in-game. It basically goes like this: Does the opponent resist fire? If not, Flamethrower. Solar Beam provides coverage vs. Water and Rock foes. Earthquake, while being on a Pokemon who is primarily a special attacker, allows Charizard to deal with Fire types. After that... you really don't have much left resistant to your attacks. Air Slash is chosen in the last slot since it gets STAB, and can hurt Flying Dragons, something the rest of the moves don't accomplish very well.
Charizard... is Pokemon. We pretty much owe Charizard for much of the success of the first games. Sure, Pikachu became the mascot of the anime and became the face of the franchise, but before Pikachu's adorable red cheeks stole our heart, let's look back to the first two games in the series. Pokemon Red Version and Pokemon Green Version in Japan. When these games were released here, Green was changed for Blue overseas, and Venusaur was shafted for Blastoise, but Red remained a constant. Charizard's popularity has been undeniable since the beginning, and it's obvious why! Charizard is a flying, fire-breathing dragon (don't complain about this, it is), and who doesn't want that?! Charizard's popularity drew people in before they even knew what Pokemon was. Charizard's design got people interested in the games, and it's what many of us strived to achieve when we hastily received our baby Charmander from Professor Oak, unknowingly handicapping ourselves to the first two bosses of the game.
Charizard's hype in generation 1 was only rivaled by Pikachu, as mentioned, but everyone knew that Pikachu was worthless in battle (remember, Light Ball didn't exist in generation 1!), but Charizard was a final evolution! Surely he's a great choice for incinerating our stupid friends that picked Bulbasaur... right? Right? No. Charizard has never lived up to the hype we all gave it back then, and it was clear in nearly every competitive medium. Not only was Charizard a bad competitive choice in R/B/Y, but it was a bad choice in the Trading Card Game, where it was frantically saught over by grubby 9-year-old hands for his devastating 100 damage attack. Blastoise decks had a much better, more consistent strategy that accelerated Energy distribution, rather than literally burning it. Generation 4's introduction of Stealth Rock sealed Charizard's fate, and Charizard fanboys everywhere were upset and disappointed.
So my thoughts? Charizard has been unable to live up to the image we projected on him for so many years... it's about time we've given him the upgrades he deserves! Cries of "Oooh, Charizard's not a Dragon!" were SILENCED! "Charizard's typing lets it down too much to be used in any serious battles!" were REJECTED by the current statistics of Charizard Y being a very common -- and dangerous -- OU threat. Charizard finally has the means to live up to the hype we gave him all those years ago, and you know what? He deserves it. Now go train (another) Charizard and love him. He's the second coolest Fire starter, after all! That's right, I said it.