Alakazam, The Psi Pokémon. Its brain cells multiply continually until it dies. As a result, it remembers everything. Its brain can outperform a supercomputer. Its IQ (intelligence quotient) is said to be around 5,000. Alakazam's brain continually grows, making its head far too heavy to support with its neck. This Pokémon holds its head up using its psychokinetic power instead. It has a thorough memory of everything that has occurred in the world.
As one of the classic Generation 1 Pokemon, Alakazam’s had an interesting life over the two decades that Pokemon’s been around. It was an absolute titan in Gen 1 due to its high speed and special, and although it stayed good after Gen 1, it had a steady fall from grace due to the metagame changing around it. With things like the special split, the physical/special distinction, and new threats left and right, it found its job becoming ever more difficult. It hit the low point of its descent in Gen 4, but then suddenly came roaring back in Gen 5 with the advent of its hidden ability, Magic Guard. It was pretty well off when Gen 6 came around, but things still got a little better for it when XY gave it a Mega Evolution! Overall… despite the changing generations, and receiving a few blows throughout the years, Alakazam is still doing alright, with its high speed, special attack, and great ability allowing it to wreck opposing teams. However, all of Alakazam’s shortcomings from years passed are still problems today. It’s always had utterly abysmal HP and Defense which means that it takes physical hits like wet tissue paper. Mono psychic typing sure isn’t what it used to be either, being arguably one of the worst defensive typings. Still, even though Alakazam has its flaws, it’s managed to stay relevant for generations. With spoons in hand and a glorious stache on his face, Alakazam is always ready to lay down the hurt! .
Synchronize: When this Pokémon becomes Poisoned, Paralyzed, or Burned, so does the opponent. However, Fire-type and Water Veil ability Pokémon cannot be Burned, Poison-type and Steel-type and Immunity ability Pokémon cannot be Poisoned, and Limber ability Pokémon cannot be Paralyzed. - Synchronize is a decent albeit situational ability. For things that rely on status, being able to inflict it upon them in return can be a nuisance. However, two things make this ability situational. Number one, many Pokemon are immune to the status they’re inflicting; for instance, Will-o-Wisp’s burns from Fire types, Toxic’s poison from Poison types, and Thunder Wave’s paralysis from Electric types. Second, this ability does nothing if they’re not using status. This is one of those abilities you really only use if you have nothing better… but fortunately, Alakazam does have something better!
Mind Over Matter
With high speed and special attack, an offensive set for Alakazam should go without saying. Having a STAB attack should be obvious, and Alakazam has two viable choices. Psychic packs more power and can on occasion get lucky with a special defense drop, while Psyshock can target the opponent’s defense, allowing a slightly easier time getting around special walls. However, there’s a few obvious gaps in Psychic’s coverage. The most obvious of which is Dark types and Steel types, both of whom are handled by Focus Blast, which for the former can often be the only thing standing between Alakazam and a Pursuit trapping. Shadow Ball is next up on the coverage list, as it hits opposing Psychic types hard, in addition to dealing super effective damage against Ghosts as well. For the final moveslot, Alakazam has a few options available to it. Encore can be used to troll some of the more passive Pokemon, in addition to messing with Substitute users and things trying to set up. Substitute can help ease prediction, in addition to being a great way for Alakazam to avoid Sucker Punch. Finally, Hidden Power Ice is always an option for its good coverage, in addition to the fact that many prevalent threats such as Gliscor, Landorus-T, Garchomp, and Dragonite sport a 4x weakness to Ice.
Timid Nature and 252 Speed EVs ensures Alakazam reaches max speed, which is important since it can’t take a hit. 252 Special Attack EVs ensure Alakazam hits as hard as possible, while the remaining 4 EVs are put into special defense. As was mentioned earlier, Alakazam should always, always, ALWAYS use Magic Guard. And for an offensive set such as this, Life Orb will boost your damage, while Magic Guard will offset its downside by negating the passive damage. A win/win situation!
Focus Your Mind
Although sacrificing a bit of power with this set, Alakazam can make a potent revenge killer. Of course, some things remain the same. For instance, Alakazam still has the choice of Psychic or Psyshock for its STAB attack, with the former having more power and the latter helping to muscle past special walls. Focus Blast remains the coverage option of choice, which prevents Tyranitar, Bisharp, and other Dark and Steel types from having their way with Alakazam. Here’s where things start getting different. With access to Thunder Wave, Alakazam can bring certain Pokemon to a screeching halt, especially those that rely on their high speed. With Focus Sash allowing it to take a hit, it can often have an opportunity to neuter faster threats, such as Mega Charizard X at +1, or Tornadus-T. Finally, Hidden Power remains an option for preying on those 4x weaknesses; Hidden Power Ice pesters Garchomp, Dragonite, Landorus-T, and Gliscor, while Hidden Power Fire can roast Ferrothorn and Scizor.
Once again, max speed is essential, so 252 Speed EVs and a Timid Nature are the way to go. 252 Special Attack EVs ensures you’re hitting as hard as possible, while the leftover 4 EVs get put into special defense. As always, Magic Guard is the only ability worth using. This set utilizes Focus Sash well, given Magic Guard prevents hazards, status, and weather from breaking it, so Alakazam is able to come in and paralyze or KO something after taking a would-be lethal hit.
-Taunt is another option to allow Alakazam to shut down Stall, especially given Alakazam outspeeds almost every Stall ‘Mon. However, it’s useless against the Savior of Stall, Mega Sableye.
Alakazam may have speed, power, and plenty of tricks, but it is by no means uncounterable. Sylveon is capable of beating Alakazam 1v1, especially if it lacks Psyshock. Life Orb Psychic only 3HKOs Sylveon while a Choice Specs Pixilate Hyper Voice can soundly 1HKO, ignoring Alakazam’s substitutes as well. Defensive Sylveon is only 3HKO’ed by Life Orb Psyshock, while it 2HKOs with Hyper Voice. All-out offensive Alakazam struggles to get past Chansey, who is only 3HKO’ed at best by Life Orb Psyshock, although Taunt, Encore, and Substitute can be a nuisance for Chansey. Thanks to Multiscale, as long as Stealth Rock isn’t up, Dragonite can switch into anything Alakazam has (including Life Orb Hidden Power Ice) and then destroy it with its Choice Band Extreme Speed. Klefki can switch into any of Alakazam’s attacks (except Taunt) and proceed to cripple it with Thunder Wave, although if Alakazam sets up a Substitute this can cost you momentum. Mew’s specially defensive set is only 3HKO’ed by Life Orb Shadow Ball, while it can 1HKO with Knock Off. Scizor can switch into anything but the uncommon Hidden Power Fire and 1HKO with Choice Band Bullet Punch. Meanwhile, Life Orb Focus Blast only 2HKOs Scizor, while the accuracy makes this about a 50% chance of actually being successful. Bulky Mega Scizor is typically only 3HKO’ed by Life Orb Focus Blast (which is of course Accuracy permitting), while Bullet Punch 2HKOs. Both variants of Scizor are capable of Pursuit trapping Alakazam as well, as it often switches out against them. Assault Vest Tornadus is only 2HKO’ed by Alakazam, while it outspeeds it (just barely!) and 1HKOs with Knock Off. However, it should be noted that Life Orb Psyshock can 1HKO if Stealth Rock is up, so be careful with that. Mega Sableye is only 3HKO’ed at best by Life Orb Shadow Ball while being immune to Psychic and Focus Blast, and it can either 2HKO Alakazam with Dark Pulse or Shadow Ball, or set up Calm Minds on it since it can’t be Taunted or Encored. However, Dazzling Gleam is a sound 2HKO, so watch out for that. Priority can be an issue for Alakazam, because it circumvents its great speed and targets it meager bulk. Talonflame’s Brave Bird soundly 1HKOs Alakazam, while things like Azumarill and Mega Pinsir can 2HKO with Aqua Jet and Quick Attack, respectively. Bisharp deserves a mention as it can play intense mind games with Alakazam due to Sucker Punch and Pursuit threatening to 1HKO Alakazam if it attacks or switches out, although this is risky because Focus Blast 1HKOs Bisharp and Substitute can troll Sucker Punch. Faster Scarf users such as Jirachi, along with naturally faster Pokemon such as Weavile and Mega Lopunny, are capable of revenge killing Alakazam due to its horrid bulk. Bulky Pokemon like Latios and Latias are capable of surviving any hit without being 1HKOed, and 1HKOing in return, although they are outsped and 2HKO’ed so they can only check. Although Alakazam is fast and strong, anything that it can’t 1HKO can usually deal heavy damage to it due to its frailty, so it’s not too hard to take down unless your team is heavily weakened already. Pretty much any unresisted physical attack can deal heavy damage if not 1HKO, and even resisted attacks from things with high attack can still 2HKO Alakazam; for example, Heracross’s Close Combat still can deal a minimum of 70% to Alakazam. As a result, Alakazam really can’t switch into anything, so it’s not too hard to pressure.
When XY introduced Mega Evolutions, many classic Generation 1 Pokemon got the blessing of a Mega Evolution. The starters. Gengar. Gyarados. Mewtwo. And of course… Alakazam. With more spoons that it can hold with its hands, and a glorious beard to accompany it, Mega Alakazam is certainly a sight to behold. The usual stat boosts that accompany Mega Evolution were pretty generous to Alakazam; its already good speed and special attack have been ramped up even higher, such that it’s now sporting an absurd base 150 speed tier and base 175 special attack. Not only that, but it got a new ability in Trace, which, while not always as consistent as Magic Guard, can allow it to mess with many Pokemon whose success hinges on their abilities. However, all is not well for Mega Alakazam, as it’s still incredibly frail and prone to being KO’ed by powerful physical attacks. In addition, now that it no longer has Magic Guard, passive damage becomes an issue for it again. Regardless, with its speed, power, and glorious facial hair, Mega Alakazam is quite the viable threat, and one who is not to be underestimated.
Trace: Ability becomes the same as that of the opponent. Switching this Pokémon out of battle restores its original ability. In a Double/Triple Battle, a random opponent’s ability will be copied. - Trace is an interesting ability, and one that can range from devastating to completely useless. Trace is largely matchup dependent, but some of the abilities it can copy can be awesome. For instance, Trace allows Mega Alakazam to copy Excadrill’s Sand Rush, so that it can revenge kill it in a sandstorm. Likewise, Tracing Heatran’s Flash Fire or Manectric’s Lightningrod (before it Mega Evolves) can put pressure on them by making Mega Alakazam immune to their STAB attacks. Things like turning Gyarados or Landorus-T’s Intimidate against them works fantastically as well. There’s a world of possibility for Trace, but just be sure to keep an awareness of what you’re putting Mega Alakazam up against… it’d be a shame to Trace something like Truant!
You Spoony Pokemon!
As it so happens, Mega Alakazam can run the same offensive set that standard Alakazam does, although sacrificing a little bit of the power that Life Orb would’ve granted for more speed and utility from Trace. The movepool, however, is pretty much identical. The choice of Psychic or Psyshock for your primary STAB depends on if you want a higher base power, or if you fear special walls more. Focus Blast is the coverage option of choice for dispatching dark and steel types, most notably Tyranitar and Bisharp. Shadow Ball lets Alakazam deal with opposing Psychic types, such as Latios, Jirachi, and Celebi, while also hitting ghost types for SE damage. Finally, Encore and Substitute are both potent means of trolling Sucker Punches, while also annoying Stall in general. Encore helps to cripple setup sweepers, while Substitute can ward off status and prevent revenge killing. However, Hidden Power Ice is also an option for the myriad of ice-weak Pokemon in standard play.
252 Speed EVs and Timid Nature maximize Mega Alakazam’s speed so that it can take full effect of that base 150 speed tier, which in turn lets it outspeed things like Mega Beedrill and Mega Sceptile. 252 Special Attack EVs ensures that Mega Alakazam hits as hard as possible, while the remaining 4 EVs are put into its slightly more salvageable special defense. Magic Guard should always be the ability of choice before Mega Evolving, as it will prevent entry hazard damage.
-Dazzling Gleam remains the best option if Mega Sableye is a problem for you, but its coverage otherwise isn’t quite as good as Focus Blast or Shadow Ball.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Alakazam is not quite as strong in doubles as it is in singles. While its speed is still incredible and it has the special attack and coverage options to hit many Pokemon hard, its lack of bulk when going up against multiple opponents really hurts. Many priority moves, especially Sucker Punch from Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Mawile, Bisharp, or Yveltal, really give Alakazam a hard time. Despite this, Alakazam has a lot of cool tricks up its sleeve, and had some moderate success in the past, especially with redirection support to protect it from Sucker Punches.
"My brain is better than everybody's!!"
Magic Guard doesn't have quite as much usefulness in VGC since hazards are non-existent and Toxic stalling is very rare, especially in the 2016 format. Inner Focus, however, has a lot of usefulness in being able to avoid flinches from Fake Out should you choose not to mega evolve. This can be very useful for a number of niche moves Alakazam can have in its arsenal to shut down your opponent's strategy. Although it copies a random ability (but not certain ones like Stance Change) from the two opponents, Trace can be very clutch if you mega. Tracing abilities like Lightning Rod, Flash Fire, Prankster, and Intimidate can help win games. Max special attack and speed with a Timid nature allows Alakazam to hit as hard as possible, while speed tying things like Mega Salamence before mega evolving, and then outspeeding essentially everything except Mega Aerodactyl (who you speed tie) after mega evolving. Focus Sash is a good item to allow Alakazam to always live one hit (except from Mega Kangaskhan), but the mega is likely preferred due to the speed increase.
Psychic is Alakazam's strongest STAB move. HP Ice is mainly for Mega Salamence and Landorus-T, as Mega Alakazam outspeeds even Adamant Choice Scarf Landorus-T. Protect is the best move in doubles to absorb double targets or stall out turns of your opponent's Tailwind or Trick Room. Although the 4th moveslot can be a coverage move, it's often best filled by a support move, which can be great with Mega Alakazam's insane speed. Skill Swap was strong in VGC 2015, especially with Trace copying some good abilities. In VGC 2016, it can be very important to help win the weather war between Primals. Disable and Encore both mess with your opponent. Encore can shut down your opponent by locking them into Fake Out, Protect, or even a Primal Kyogre into a water move while the sun is up. Disable on the other hand can shut down Sucker Punches or big attacks from your opponent, especially spread moves from Primals. Taunt and Safeguard are mainly there to deal with Smeargle's shenanigans (especially since you can avoid Fake Out flinches with Inner Focus before mega evolving, or outspeed Scarf Smeargle after mega-evoling), but Taunt can also be used to deal with Geomancy Xerneas and Trick Room users, while Safeguard can avoid burns and paralysis to the team.
-Psyshock can be considered over Psychic to hit your opponent's physically defensive stats harder.
Countering Mega Alakazam
Fortunately, Mega Alakazam has many of the same counters as its base form. Bulky special walls like Sylveon, Mew, and Chansey are still great at dealing with Mega Alakazam, while Mega Sableye still is untouchable by any set lacking Dazzling Gleam. Powerful priority from Scizor, Talonflame, Mega Pinsir, Dragonite, and Azumarill are all capable of 1HKOing or 2HKOing Mega Alakazam, which is helpful due to Mega Alakazam’s absurd base 150 speed tier. Klefki is still capable of switching into anything Mega Alakazam has and utilizing Prankster Thunder Wave to a put a stop to Mega Alakazam, although it does have to be wary of Prankster being Traced and giving Alakazam a Prankster Taunt or Substitute. A bit of a higher speed tier is needed for Choice Scarf users to overcome Mega Alakazam due to its incredible speed tier, so Choice Scarf users need to be at least base 84 speed tier to be able to outspeed Mega Alakazam. This makes faster Scarf users such as Jirachi and Excadrill good answers to Mega Alakazam. Landorus-T’s Scarf Set can also deal with Mega Alakazam, but it has to be wary of its own Intimidate being Traced and turned against it. Finally, bulkier Pokemon such as Ferrothorn, Tornadus-T, Latios, and Latias can all avoid being 1HKO’ed by standard Mega Alakazam, and then 1HKO in return. The loss of Magic Guard also makes Mega Alakazam more susceptible to passive damage, so things like Toxic, Scald Burns, and Entry Hazards can all chip away at Mega Alakazam, making its already poor bulk have a harder time standing up to attacks. Its speed may have increased and it may have gotten a little more defense, but Mega Alakazam is still going to be hit hard by anything it can’t 1HKO itself. Fortunately, since Alakazam and Mega Alakazam share many of the same checks and counters, in most cases, if you can handle one, you can handle the other. Mega Alakazam is still at minimum 2HKO’ed by pretty much any reasonably powerful physical attack, and it actually hits a little less hard than Life Orb Alakazam, so it’s not too difficult to put a stop to, unless it’s late in the game and a team is heavily weakened.
In lower tiered formats, Kadabra runs a set that is not unlike its evolution's. Although it can run an all-out offensive set as well, its lesser speed tier makes this set its most reliable. It should go without saying that Psychic is Kadabra's main STAB attack; it also has Psyshock available to it, but Kadabra really needs the extra power of Psychic more than the defense targeting of Psyshock. Shadow Ball helps it contend with things like Mr. Mime and Gourgeist, while Hidden Power Fighting deals with dark types, most notably Pawniard. However, Encore is also an option to screw with Stall, setup, and things that might try to hide behind a Substitute. Finally, Thunder Wave is a good way to put a halt to speedy threats, and can be a way to stop a sweep in conjunction with Focus Sash.
Max speed is obtained through Timid Nature and 252 Speed EVs, while 252 Special Attack EVs ensure you hit as hard as possible. The leftover 4 EVs are placed into Special Defense. Magic Guard remains the obvious choice for ability, given it's just really, really good. Focus Sash is the item of choice which allows Kadabra to be a revenge killer, given that Magic Guard ensures passive damage such as entry hazards won't break your Sash. Kadabra does have the option to go more offensive with Life Orb, but in general Focus Sash has more utility.
On the opposite end of the evolutionary spectrum, Abra is one of the mightiest Pokemon in the Little Cup. With the highest special attack in the tier, and the ability to reach the coveted unboosted 19 speed, Abra is something to be feared. Its STAB Psychic has no trouble ripping through even the bulkiest of fighting types, making even the dreaded Mienfoo’s “bulky” set seem soft. Hidden Power Fighting allows Abra to get past its would-be Nemesis, Pawniard, by preying on its 4x weakness. Energy Ball destroys pretty much every Shell Smasher, such as Omanyte and Tirtouga, while also working well against Chinchou. However, Dazzling Gleam is also an option to deal with Vullaby. You can opt for whichever you don’t choose in the fourth slot, or you can also opt for Protect, which exists almost exclusively to block Fake Out, which can otherwise break your Focus Sash.
240 Special Attack and 200 Speed EVs with a Timid Nature ensures you reach 20 Special Attack and 19 Speed, which maximizes Abra’s offensive potency. As is the case with its evolutionary relatives, Abra always wants to use Magic Guard because it’s just an amazing ability and nothing else Abra has is even remotely close to how good it is. Focus Sash allows Abra to be nigh impossible to 1HKO, which is a good thing in the fast-paced Little Cup, in addition to letting it revenge kill things such as Shell Smashers. Life Orb can be an option as well, but Abra prefers the all-around utility that Focus Sash affords it.
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