Ever since Incineroar showed up, it has been hard for other Fire-types in the 2018 metagame to find a place on a lot of teams. Mega Charizard Y has dominated the Fire-type Mega Evolution slot for years. Only a couple other mega evolution appearances include the likes of Mega Camerupt and Mega Blaziken.
Mega Blaziken seems like it’s turning into one of the most popular anti-meta Pokemon in the format. The sheer amount of offense Mega Blaziken teams possess can easily overwhelm a team that isn’t prepared. However, with such a focus on offense, using Mega Blaziken means you can rarely play safe or defensive. Let’s see how a Pokemon built on the strategy of “high risk, high reward” fares in VGC 2018.
Stats & Typing
Being a Mega Evolution naturally means that Mega Blaziken has solid stats across the board. As mentioned before, Mega Blaziken’s focus is on offense, which is reflected in both its Attack and Special Attack. This gives Mega Blaziken the ability to not adhere to just one side of the attacking spectrum, as it can use both physical and special moves effectively. One of the biggest upgrades it gets is in its Speed stat which is 20 points higher than normal Blaziken. This allows Mega Blaziken to out-speed many common threats even before a Speed Boost. Base 80 in HP and Defense aren’t too bad, considering Blaziken’s defenses receive a slight boost from Mega Evolving. However, you shouldn’t count on this Pokemon soaking up a lot of hits.
Fire and Fighting is an amazing offensive typing, and Mega Blaziken has both the stats and moves to back it up. Other than Incineroar and the occasional bulky Water-type, Fire-type attacks have very few resistances in the metagame, allowing Mega Blaziken to inflict a lot of damage. The other half of Mega Blaziken’s offense comes from his Fighting typing. This allows Mega Blaziken to approach in many different ways. Mega Blaziken is fortunately one of the few Fighting-types that can deal with Fairy-types better, thanks to it being half Fire-type.
Even though Mega Blaziken has a few defensive advantages, it still has to deal with all of the other woes of being both a Fire and Fighting-type in VGC 2018. Being a Fire-type means that Mega Blaziken struggles to break through bulky Water-types like Tapu Fini. Fighting-type attacks may do well against Pokemon like Porygon2 and Snorlax. Though, compared to the rest of the metagame that’s dominated by Fairy-type Pokemon and bulky Psychic-types like Cresselia and Gothitelle, using a Fighting-type becomes a bit more challenging.
Mega Blaziken can find use for both moves on the physical and special side, so that’s how we’ll be dividing up this category.
- Flare Blitz: The go-to Fire-type attack for most Fire-type physical attackers. While there’s recoil that makes this move risky to use, Mega Blaziken’s focus, again, is to inflict as much damage as possible. With that in mind, this move delivers very high damage, and showcases Mega Blaziken’s offensive capability quite well.
- High Jump Kick: One of many of Blaziken’s high-damaging Fighting-type attacks. Though, this one is probably one of the least advised to use. The reason being that Protect and the high chance of missing, meaning you could easily whiff this move and lose half of Mega Blaziken’s HP for nothing. If you want to gamble like a Pheromosa in VGC 2017, then feel free to try out High Jump Kick.
- Rock Slide: A fast Rock Slide is never a bad option in VGC, and Mega Blaziken can deliver. Having this move available usually solves most Mega Blaziken teams’ matchup against Mega Charizard Y, so its worth it for coverage.
- Superpower: Not as risky as High Jump Kick, but definitely not a means of consistent damage output. Superpower may be 100% accurate, but you do have to deal with the drops in Attack and Defense after a successful use of it. A good option for a Swords Dance set where you can boost your attack to the point of not worrying about the single stage drops to Mega Blaziken’s Attack stat.
- Low Kick: The physical Fighting-type attack with the most “consistent” damage output. While Low Kick never misses and doesn’t lower stats, this move’s power is entirely dependent on the weight of your target. Great for Pokemon like Tyranitar and Snorlax. Not so great for Porygon2 and Kartana.
- Thunder Punch: Thankfully, Mega Blaziken has a way of dealing with bulky Water-types, though the damage here isn’t the greatest. Mega Blaziken that run ThunderPunch usually have a Tapu Koko on their team for the Electric Terrain boost.
- Swords Dance: If your team has the proper means of support, Swords Dance can be devestating for an opponent. After just one use of Swords Dance, Mega Blaziken can start picking up one-hit-KO’s left and right. Many players usually like to opt for coverage over set-up on Mega Blaziken, but Swords Dance is by no means a bad option.
- Overheat: The go-to Fire-type attack for Special and mixed variants of Mega Blaziken. Like Superpower, this move drops Mega Blaziken’s stats (this time a two stage drop to Special Attack), but the damage output is worth it. This works out fine on mixed sets that have physical moves to work with, so the drop in Special Attack doesn’t matter too much.
- Focus Blast: If you’re feeling as risky as High Jump Kick, Focus Blast is pretty much the Special equivalent. 70% accuracy often feels like 20% after some extended play with this move, causing many competitive players to advise against using it.
- Hidden Power: Hidden Power might be a move that every Pokemon has access to, but Mega Blaziken is a solid candidate for Hidden Power Ice. With Mega Blaziken’s Special Attack, it can easily pick up one-hit-KO’s on two of its biggest counters in Landorus and Mega Salamence.
Mega Blaziken’s Physical move pool is a lot better than its Special one, leading many players to opt for mixed sets rather than just strictly Special ones. Physical-based sets are the most popular right now, but mixed sets are effective enough to not be discounted when seen.
Ability: Speed Boost
The ability that got Mega Blaziken (and normal Blaziken) banned from Smogon’s OU singles metagame is what also makes it a huge threat in doubles. Speed Boost raises Blaziken’s Speed by one stage every turn. This is insane, coming from an already fast Pokemon. What’s even better is that Protect is even more usable in doubles, making turn one pretty much a free speed boost for Mega Blaziken. With just one boost, Mega Blaziken can out-speed a lot of common Choice Scarf Pokemon. With two, it can even ignore an opponent’s Tailwind in most cases. This ability is amazing, and it allows Mega Blaziken to become a huge threat after being in the battle for just a single turn.
Checks and Counters
Even though Thunder Punch is an option for Mega Blaziken, it surely won’t pick up KO’s on Pokemon like Tapu Fini, Milotic and Suicune. To handle this weakness, Mega Blaziken appreciates a Grass or Electric-type teammate.
Mega Blaziken cannot touch Cresselia at all, making it a hard counter to it. Not only that, but Cresselia can easily spam Icy Wind to negate Mega Blaziken’s speed boosts or just set up Trick Room to flip the speed order.
Intimidate+Earthquake is a horrible combo for Mega Blaziken to go up against. Luckily, Mega Blaziken can out-speed even the fastest of Landorus after one speed boost and do massive damage with Flare Blitz. If you want to OHKO Landorus-Therian though, then consider having Hidden Power Ice.
Intimidate+strong Flying-type damage is another combo Mega Blaziken hates going against. Unfortunately, unlike Landorus, Blaziken can’t touch Mega Salamence with Fire or Fighting-type moves, so Hidden Power Ice or a potentially weakened Rock Slide are the only way to damage it.
Physical-attacking Mega Evolutions in VGC 2018 like to have a Pokemon that does well against Intimidate, and this is where Bisharp comes in. Bisharp does well against the Psychic and Fairy-types that Blaziken hates. Meanwhile, Blaziken can handle Incineroar pretty well for Bisharp. These two have such great synergy that Bisharp+Mega Blaziken is considered an archetype by many players.
An answer to the bulky Water-types and having Electric Terrain to boost Mega Blaziken’s Thunder Punch. Tapu Koko’s high speed combined with Blaziken’s high speed make these two a solid offensive duo.
Having Tapu Lele paired with Mega Blaziken reminds me of the days of Tapu Lele and Pheromosa back in VGC 2017. The combination of Psychic/Fairy and Fire/Fighting is a strong offensive combo, and these two have the capability to do massive damage if left unchecked.
So why use Mega Blaziken?
If you’re a player that enjoys playing hyper offense, this is the Pokemon to build your team around. With a great offensive typing and solid offensive moves and stats, Mega Blaziken can dent opposing teams without much help. It does have to watch out for the occasional Landorus or Tapu Fini, but it does well against the increasingly common Mega Gengar team archetype.
Also, Mega Metagross is still around, and Mega Blaziken loves that matchup.
Mega Blaziken may not be the most consistent or popular Mega Pokemon out there, but the surprise factor and ability to overwhelm opponents is probably why its been picking up in usage as of late.
The last time we did an “Underrated List” piece on a Mega Evolution was for Mega Scizor. Shortly after, it won an International Championship.
Perhaps some big-time success isn’t too far off for Mega Blaziken too.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, The Pokemon Anime, Bulbapedia, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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