Welcome to the seventeenth issue of 6th Generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week we're finally going to be talking about one of the OU Fairy types, of which there are currently 3. This week we're discussing Azumarill.
Azurill lives near water. It moves quickly on land by bouncing its large tail, which it also swings to combat opponents bigger than itself. Marill's fur naturally repels water, so it can stay dry even after swimming. The ball on the end of its tail is filled with oil that is lighter than water, so it acts as a float. Azumarill develops long ears that act as sensors. It can distinguish the movements of living things on riverbeds. The bubble pattern on its stomach helps it camouflage itself inside the water.
Azumarill has truly gotten better with every generation. 3 saw it getting Huge Power which doubles its Attack stat, effectively giving it the same Attack as a fully invested base 150 Attack Pokemon. And though it wasn't amazing for it back then, it allowed it to at least deal out some damage, even if it wasn't backed by STAB. 4 saw the physical/special split, giving it STAB Waterfall on a physical move. 5 gave an indirect buff with the boost of infinite Rain, and now 6 has given it possibly the best thing it could have ever asked for: Fairy typing. Not only did it gain Fairy typing, but it has the best physical Fairy move: Play Rough! The combination of Water and Fairy is resisted by very little, and when combined with either Ice Punch or Superpower, you're shrinking the size down dramatically. Add in Aqua Jet to bypass Azumarill's horrible base Speed, and Azumarill is now a huge threat in the metagame.
But, as is the case with all Pokemon, Azumarill is not without faults. Mega Venusaur walls it to hell and back and even outspeeds and threatens a OHKO with Giga Drain or Sludge Bomb. Azumarill's terrible base Speed means that it often has to take a hit before it can deal one back, and though it's both bulky and powerful, repeated hits will take their toll, as will entry hazard damage. Finally, Azumarill really only has one set that is actually any good in OU, and I'll explain why as I list both possible sets.
|Azumarill@ Choice Band|
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Attack / 4 Speed
Knock Off / Ice Punch / Superpower
This is probably the overall best and most accessible non-Uber Fairy type in the game right now. Very few things can outright wall Azumarill. Waterfall and Play Rough form the STAB core, with Waterfall being slightly more reliable due to the perfect accuracy, but Play Rough being slightly more powerful. Only a handful of Pokemon in OU resist both of these moves, with Mega Venusaur, Ferrothorn, and... yeah, that's it. Tentacruel technically does too, but with its pathetic Defense, you need Bold nature and a significant investment in Defense to avoid the 2HKO from Play Rough. Amoonguss walls it fairly well too, but isn't standard in OU. Aqua Jet is a powerful STAB priority move that can finish off damaged opponents.
The final slot has a few tempting options. I recommend Knock Off as the strongest option since it's just a fantastic move on anything that learns it, and it can cripple many Pokemon that switch into Azumarill. Unfortunately, it does nothing to Mega Venusaur, Azumarill's biggest counter. Ice Punch is nice for hitting Grass types on the switch, and is capable of OHKOing all but the most defensive of normal Venusaur on the switch, but after Mega Evolving, Modest 252 HP / 0 Defense Venusaur isn't even 2HKO'd at full health, and it's faster with Giga Drain... and has Synthesis even if you switch. Finally, Superpower is a good choice for at least being able to 1-2HKO Ferrothorn, which can pave the way for later STAB spamming if that's the Grass type the opponent is using.
As might be obvious, a method of removing Azumarill's counters is necessary. Latios can take both Electric and Grass attacks, and has a powerful Psychic or Psyshock that can wreck Venusaur effortlessly, while also threatening Rotom-Wash, who is faster than Azumarill and can either electrocute it or just Burn it to ruin it for the rest of the game. Gothitelle can trap and kill Venusaur with Psychic. Jirachi resists Grass and is immune to Poison, and can also provide Paralysis and/or Wish support, along with being able to use Psychic or Zen Headbutt, depending on your preference. If none of those appeal, there's always Blissey to just make them ineffectual, but it has to watch for Leech Seed from Venusaur, and Trick from Rotom-Wash, so it's not the best solution, especially since neither of them are terribly threatened by Blissey, and both have ways to circumvent its usefulness (Leech Seed or Synthesis, and Trick or Pain Split, respectively).
The EVs may be adjusted if you'd like to add some Speed, but it accomplishes very little. 84 Speed EVs allows you to outspeed Jellicent by 1 point, but... no one uses Jellicent anymore. It's pretty much always better to stick with max HP and Attack. You can also use Splash Plate to feign a Choice Band, but... it's not the most effective strategy given how slow Azumarill still is. Still, it can catch people off-guard when they think you're locked into Aqua Jet.
Return and Double-Edge are options worth mentioning since they can theoretically 2HKO Mega Venusaur... but it's faster and has both Giga Drain and Synthesis, so it's not really worth it. Double-Edge can wear Venusaur down (Dealing 54.6 - 64.5%) if you maintain Stealth Rock on the field, but it provides nothing in the way of type coverage and leaves you completely helpless to Ferrothorn.
|Azumarill@ Sitrus Berry|
Adamant nature (+Attack, -Sp. Attack)
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Attack / 4 Speed
I'm going to preface this set by saying you probably should not be using this set without a lot of support to ensure its success, and honestly, it needs so much that it's often not worth it. But let's talk about the set first before I tell you why it's bad. Belly Drum halves your HP in exchange for a +6 boost to Attack, giving you 1,744 Attack if my math is correct. Dropping to 50% activates Sitrus Berry, bringing you back up to 75%. From there, you're basically free to spam Aqua Jet, with Play Rough hitting things that resist Water. Brick Break OHKOs Ferrothorn after the Belly Drum boost. Theoretically, all of this sounds like it should lead to an easy sweep... but it doesn't against anyone that is any good in the OU tier.
Do I even need to say Mega Venusaur anymore? It outspeeds and OHKOs you, and takes a maximum of 42.8% from Aqua Jet after the boost, which it promptly recovers with Giga Drain. But let's forget Mega Venusaur for a minute; it's not on every team, and not everyone wants to sacrifice their mega slot for a defensive Pokemon. Let's talk about Rotom-Wash. Bold 252 HP / 252 Defense Rotom-Wash outspeeds and deals 46.5 - 55.4%, and only takes 35.8 - 42.4% from Aqua Jet. A more offensive Rotom-Wash can OHKO outright. Being so weak to such a common threat is a huge setback and there is nothing this Azumarill can do to circumvent this problem. Now factor in that if Azumarill takes a hit while setting up, it has even less time to do anything useful. Sticky Web support can be moderately useful, but then you have to use Galvantula or Smeargle and you're basically sacrificing a Pokemon slot for a chance to make it somewhat useful, and even then, Rotom-Wash isn't effected. You can pack Gothitelle to deal with Mega Venusaur... but then you're using Gothitelle and that's just... not so great, with the buff to Knock Off and the frequency of U-Turn. With all you'd need to do to give Azumarill a chance to sweep through a good opposing team, it is rarely worth it. If you have a means to effectively remove Azumarill's counters and deal with the problems it faces and this set is appealing, by all means, but it faces too many problems for me to seriously recommend it.
Edit: My good buddy, RubyRobin brought up a good point that 244 Speed EVs will allow you to outspeed a Modest 0 Speed Venusaur, and promptly KO it with Knock Off. This will also KO Ferrothorn after the Belly Drum, so the main counters to this set are immediately wiped out. Unnfortunately, Mega Venusaur can run 4 Speed EVs to tie with Azumarill, so the best option is to max Speed at this point, dumping the leftover 4 into HP. This is a double-edged sword, however, as 0 Speed Bold Rotom-Wash still outspeeds you and deals 56.1 - 66.6%. If the Rotom is an offensive variant, it can immediately KO you. Talonflame can also revenge-kill you much easier with this spread, as his Choice Band Brave Bird deals well over 75%. While the Speed EVs do help remove one big problem in Mega Venusaur, they make it much harder to achieve a Belly Drum sweep overall, since the loss of the bulk makes it significantly harder to setup. The Speed only really allows you to outspeed uninvested base 80 Speed Pokemon as well, so you'll still be relying on Aqua Jet a lot, so think carefully before choosing this spread.
Azurill can be found on Route 3 and Route 22, both very early in X and Y. Marill can be found on Route 3 as well, but only while Surfing. Azurill evolves at max happiness, and Marill evolves at an early level 18, so if you can get a Huge Power Azurill early on, it will pretty much end up being one of the best Pokemon on your whole team if you have the patience to max happiness. Here's what I'd recommend you use:
Waterfall / Aqua Tail
Power-Up Punch / Return / Dig
Huge Power Azumarill is one of the best investments you can make early on in X and Y. I don't usually suggest an ability for a Pokemon, but without Huge Power, Azumarill is practically worthless, so... use that. The alternative is Thick Fat, which is a good ability that weakens damage from Fire and Ice... types Azumarill already resists. So... don't use that when Huge Power is so much better. Anyway, Waterfall is your most reliable STAB move, but Aqua Tail is an option before you have access to Waterfall. Waterfall is slightly weaker, but the perfect accuracy makes it much more appealing. Play Rough has more power and slightly less accuracy than Waterfall, but the Fairy type is an amazing offensive (and defensive!) type so the slightly imperfect accuracy is worth the payoff for a powerful STAB move only resisted by Fire (which Azumarill has no trouble with), Steel (which Azumarill has an answer for), and Poison (...run). Superpower hits the Steel types that resist Fairy. The last slot is... well, Azumarill's movepool without Egg moves and tutors is small. Power-Up Punch is a free Attack boost with damage, so that's cool. Return is a good option because your happiness is already maxed by the time Azurill evolves, but... it doesn't really... hit much of anything you'll be facing in-game harder than your STABs would. Dig is okay in-game, and it'll hit Aegislash and bypass the obvious first turn of King's Shield. It also gives you a tool to hit Poison types, so that's something.
Azumarill is freaking adorable. Look at him! He's so happy! The long ears, the adorable face, the bubble pattern, the crinkle-tail with the ball on the end... anyone that doesn't like Azumarill hates happiness. His strongest attack has the word Play in it... everything about Azumarill just makes me smile. Go catch an Azurill right now and train it to be an Azumarill, you'll come back with more love for this Pokemon than you'd have ever imagined. Of course, I could be biased by the fact that in a Nuzlocke run of X, an Azurill I caught ended up being one of three surviving Pokemon at the end of the run, but that just goes to show how reliable a Pokemon it really is!
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