Welcome to the thirty-fifth issue of 6th Generation's Pokemon of the Week! This week we'll be discussing the original dominant Psychic type of Red and Blue. This week we'll be discussing Alakazam.
Abra sleeps for 18 hours a day. While sleeping it uses extrasensory powers to sense its surroundings, allowing it to Teleport away from any impending attacks. Kadabra's Psychic abilities are too powerful for it to control - the alpha waves it emits causes machines to malfuntion and clocks to run backwards. Alakazam's brain cells multiply continually until it dies. As a result it can remember everything. Its brain can outperform a supercomputer.
Base Stats: 55 HP / 50 Attack / 45 Defense / 135 Sp. Attack / 95 Sp. Defense / 120 Speed
Alakazam was the special attacking king of Generation 1. Alongside physical attacking king Tauros, Alakazam used its spoonbending power to bend the metagame around it. It had no counters back then, nothing that wanted to switch into Psychic, taking a possible Special drop or Thunder Wave to ruin it for the rest of the match. Fast-forward 15 years, and Alakazam is still relevant, but has had many harsh blows dealt to it that has seen it fall from grace. The horrible defenses generally allow it to take one neutral hit at best, and common physical priority in the forms of Extremespeed, Bullet Punch and Aqua Jet will often cut short his ability to sweep. Even with that said, Alakazam still functions as a great special attacker that is difficult to switch into, a competent revenge-killer, and even a decent Choice item user with access to Trick.
|Alakazam@ Focus Sash|
Timid nature (+Speed, -Attack)
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Sp. Attack / 252 Speed
Hidden Power Ice / Thunder Wave
Giving Alakazam a Focus Sash allows it to function as one of the most reliable revenge-killers in the game. Since Magic Guard stops it from taking any damage from entry hazards, the Focus Sash cannot be broken by any Sneaky Pebbles, something any other Sash user would love.
Psyshock is your best STAB attack in this case, doing more damage to Chansey than Psychic or even Focus Blast would, as well as doing more damage to Assault Vest Conkeldurr. It also deals massive damage to Mega Venusaur, ensuring a 2HKO even on offensive variants, and 2HKOing the defensive Mega Venusaur after it has taken Stealth Rock damage. Focus Blast allows it to deal with Steel types and Dark types that resist and are immune to Psychic respectively, while Shadow Ball allows you to damage other Psychic types like Latios, Latias, and Slowbro. The final slot either allows you to deal massive damage to common Dragons that are 4x weak to Ice, such as Garchomp, Dragonite, or Paralyze common switch-ins. Hidden Power Ice is very useful, especially for revenge-killing Dragons locked into Outrage, while Paralysis support is not only useful in crippling would-be counters, but can actually give Alakazam an extra turn to deal some damage, which is appreciated on a Pokemon with virtually no ability to take the powerful hits found in OU.
The nature and EVs are straightforward, providing as much Speed as possible to ensure you can deal 2 hits in most scenarios, while maximizing damage output. Life Orb is an option on this set, but is generally not worth considering because it's mostly outclassed by Latios who has better typing, bulk, and movepool.
Entry hazard support is highly recommended, since getting a KO is essential if you want to keep Alakazam alive for as long as possible. Stealth Rock support is the best hazard to provide, though Spikes are also helpful, and Sticky Web is useful for preventing Speed ties with other base 120 Speed Pokemon, and makes the last slot option more of an obvious choice. In terms of partners, Alakazam appreciates Pokemon that can threaten Dark types most of all, as it greatly fears Bisharp, Weavile, Greninja, and Tyranitar. Breloom is a great check to all of these, packing a STAB Technician Mach Punch to threaten them, as well as Spore to shut things down for a while. Keldeo also makes a great partner, boasting high Speed and Secret Sword to run through the aforementioned Dark types and Chansey, a Pokemon that will give Alakazam trouble. Conkeldurr is a bulky offensive option to consider that can also absorb Paralysis aimed at Alakazam and abuse it with Guts. It's significantly slower than Breloom and Keldeo, though, but STAB Mach Punch off its base 140 Attack more than makes up for it.
Finally, I want to briefly mention that this set can be run with a Choice item, with Trick used in the last slot, but there are usually better Pokemon that can do this, even better Psychic types, given that nearly every Psychic type has access to Trick, and with Mega Stones unable to be Tricked away, Zam can find itself in an unfavorable position. It does, however, completely ruin opposing Chansey by removing its precious Eviolite, so it's worth considering.
Base Stats: 55 HP / 50 Attack / 65 Defense / 175 Sp. Attack / 95 Sp. Defense / 150 Speed
Alakazam received a Mega Evolution this generation, and upon finding out about it, it was very poorly received at first. Losing Magic Guard in exchange for Trace was a very poor trade, and the inability to weild a Focus Sash removed its ability to reliably revenge-kill, while Timid Life Orb Alakazam deals only slightly less damage than Modest Mega Alakazam. After the Aegislash ban and the Mega Mawile ban, however, using Mega Alakazam actually is a viable choice that does have some advantages over the non-Mega counterpart. The first is the wonderful base 150 Speed - even Modest Mega Alakazam outspeeds Timid non-Mega Alakazam. The modestly increased defenses also allow it to take hits marginally better, though this is hardly a selling point. Finally, the ability, while usually not something you'd want over Magic Guard, is occasionally very useful. Switching into Heatran gives you an immunity to Fire via Flash Fire, while switching into Greninja will grant you Protean, as well as outspeeding and OHKOing Greninja, something that non-Mega wishes it could do. Or you could just bring it in on a weakened Clefable and Trace Magic Guard.
Magic Guard [Trace]
Modest nature (+Sp. Attack, -Attack)
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Sp. Attack / 252 Speed
Psychic / Psyshock
Hidden Power Fire / Shadow Ball
Taunt / Encore / Dazzling Gleam
Mega Alakazam is a very fast and powerful special attacker, fast enough to outspeed even base maximum Speed base 130 Pokemon without even needing to run a +Speed nature itself. Psychic is the most powerful STAB Alakazam has access to, and deals the most damage to things on average, but Psyshock deals more damage to some things such as Chansey and Assault Vest Conkeldurr. Focus Blast is there for Dark types and Steel types. The choice between Hidden Power Fire and Shadow Ball comes down to whether you want to OHKO bulky Mega Scizor (after Stealth Rock) and nearly OHKO Ferrothorn, or if you'd rather be able to deal damage to Psychic types like Latios and ensure a OHKO on Mega Medicham (because this still hasn't been banned for some reason, apparently).
The final slot doesn't really require any additional coverage that would be significant enough, but Alakazam does have non-damaging tools that can help it get past Pokemon that would normally give it trouble. Taunt shuts down defensive Pokemon, stopping their healing and any status attacks they might attempt. This is especially effective in shutting down stall teams. Encore can lock an opponent into an unideal move, forcing switches, and nothing particularly enjoys taking 2 of Mega Alakazam's hits. Finally, Dazzling Gleam is a niche option for revenge-killing Kingdra - since Trace will copy its Swift Swim on Rain teams, it will outspeed and OHKO Kingdra, while also dealing more damage to most Dragons than any of your other moves. This isn't the strongest option, but it's worth considering if Rain teams give you trouble.
Stealth Rock support is obviously helpful to help ensure KOs. Sticky Web is also helpful to help outspeed Choice Scarf Pokemon that could otherwise kill you. It's also important to keep Trace in mind when deciding to switch in. Switching in at the right time could give Alakazam an amazing ability, and just having Trace can cause the opponent to change their strategy if Zam is kept alive throughout the match. Turning the opponent's ability around on it can often find Alakazam in a favorable position, so keep it in mind when using Alakazam, but don't rely on it too heavily if Alakazam is needed.
Abra can be found on Route 5 of the Kalos region. It comes with only Teleport, so training it is a bit of a grind, but Kadabra is great in the middle portion of the game. Finally, Kadabra requires trading to evolve, but that's not too big a problem these days, especially with all the kind folks willing to help on PKMN.net! Once you've gotten Alakazam, it's a crazy strong powerhouse, blasting through most things that aren't resistant or immune to Psychic. Here's what I'd recommend:
Psychic / Psyshock
Charge Beam / Calm Mind / Psyshock
Using Alakazam in-game is about the same as using it in competitive. Psychic is generally your best STAB, but Psyshock allows you to deal physical damage, which means you're able to get around special walls. You can use both if you'd like because the last slot is kind of filler, which I'll get to momentarily. Shadow Ball and Focus Blast cover opposing Psychic types, Ghost types, Dark types, and Steel types, all important targets to be able to dispose of. The last slot has a few filler options. Charge Beam can deal damage while occasionally boosting your Sp. Attack, which is situationally useful. Calm Mind boosts Sp. Attack and Sp. Defense, setting you up for an easy sweep most of the time. Finally, as mentioned earlier, Psychic and Psyshock can be used together to hit different targets, though Psyshock is only occasionally more useful than Psychic.
As I once mentioned, Alakazam is one of the Pokemon that got me into competitive battling, using rentals on Pokemon Stadium. He's got a pretty cool design, and I've always enjoyed using him. I... honestly don't have much to say about Alakazam. It's pretty much a legend among Pokemon by this point. If you played Red and Blue, you knew that Alakazam was pretty much the best Pokemon in the game that wasn't Mewtwo, so he deserves some respect. You may need new silverware, though.
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