Ally Switch. The infamous move that strikes fear and disgust into a majority of the competitive Pokemon community. A move that can win you games at any skill level, and might be the ultimate tech for best-of-one play. A move that is so horrifyingly good that it could ruin the upcoming World Championships – for both competitors and spectators alike.
What’s the Deal with Ally Switch?
Despite its usage being somewhat uncommon at high-level competitive play, every Pokemon VGC player now knows about this awful move. Ally Switch does pretty much what you think it does: it switches the spots of the user and its ally in a double battle. This move is a perfect means of diverting attacks and status from one Pokemon while that Pokemon can set-up or launch a powerful attack for free. It’s a move that has priority, no built-in consequence, and can make a single game of Pokemon become a game of coin flips.
So why hasn’t this move been used in years past?
Ally Switch got quite the buff in Generation 7 with a bump up to the priority level of +2. It also became available to many more Pokemon. Before Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ally Switch only had +1 priority and could only be learned by some uncommon Psychic-types and Krabby (for whatever reason). Now, it seems like almost everything has access to Ally Switch, and I’ll direct you to its page on Bulbapedia just so you can see for yourself how many Pokemon can get access to this move via Ultra Sun and Moon’s Move Tutor.
How Ally Switch Ruins the Game
This move is good for all of the wrong reasons. It has become one of the shining examples of Pokemon’s inability to be a truly competitive game, almost reaching the tier of Rock Slide flinching.
Ally Switch isn’t a team gimmick that an opposing player can adapt to after seeing it for the first time in a set. What’s even more infuriating is that this move becomes exponentially harder to deal with after your opponent reveals it. You’re put into a position where you have yet another play to predict from your opponent that could easily lose you a game if you guess wrong. Trying to predict your opponent to use this move is nearly impossible regardless of whether or not you know they have it. Also, Z – Ally Switch doubles the user’s Speed, which, on top of the advantages the regular move already gives, makes this move have an even greater level of utility
From the spectator perspective, the only crowd-pleasing result is when someone makes a huge read and correctly predicts Ally Switch. Not only will an audience groan in despair when they see it on stream, but the battle they’re watching basically comes down to who guesses the coin flips correctly. Ally Switch removes so much of the strategy and intrigue of competitive Pokemon to the point where it becomes unbearable to watch.
Could it Ruin Worlds?
Potentially, and there’s good reason to suspect this tournament above all else. Worlds is a tournament where a competing player is going against the other best players in the world that are likely using more unorthodox teams and strategies. So not only are you being put up against the best Pokemon players out there, there will likely be teams and techs that you could be completely unprepared for.
Ally Switch gives you an edge regardless of what skill level your opponent is, as even the best players in the world wouldn’t dare risk predicting Ally Switch most of the time.
This tweet from Gavin Michaels puts it best:
In addition to the tweet earlier, I think everyone should be using ally switch at worlds if they can help it. No other move boosts your odds of winning by so much, and vs the best players in the world you should take every advantage you can get.
— Gavin Michaels (@komvgc) July 30, 2018
With a World Championship title on the line, players will do anything they can to win, and that might result in a spike in the usage of Ally Switch. Not to mention that Ally Switch was on two straight national-level tournament winning teams in both Japan and North America (some of the strongest regions in Pokemon VGC), so the evidence of this move’s success has already been cemented.
But hey, let’s look at the bright side. If Ally Switch does end up dominating the World Championships this year, this might convince Game Freak to nerf the move into oblivion or, even better, really take a step back and evaluate how they can improve Pokemon to be a more competitive game. Perhaps seeing just how broken Ally Switch is will impact either Junichi Masuda and/or Shigeru Ohmori in the same way that watching MKLeo use Bayonetta at the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Invitational did Masahiro Sakurai, in that they’ll realize change is desperately needed for their game.
So, it’s looking like Ally Switch is the play for Worlds. The best we can hope for now is that every competitor at this year’s World Championships somehow agrees to not put Ally Switch on their team, or every Ally Switch play on stream gets punished.
Neither of those seem likely in any way, so I wish all of you competing in Nashville the best of luck. With all of the 50/50’s your games will likely come down to, you’ll need it.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.