Steelix, The Iron Snake Pokémon. Its body has been compressed deep under the ground. As a result, it is even harder than a diamond. It is said that if an Onix lives for over 100 years, its composition changes to become diamond-like. Steelix live even further underground than Onix. This Pokémon is known to dig toward the earth's core, reaching a depth of over six-tenths of a mile underground. It chews its way through boulders with its sturdy jaws. Its eyes can see in the dark underground. Tempered underground under high pressure and heat, its body is harder than any metal.
Steelix hasn't changed much in the generation skip. As with the 3rd generation, it's a formidable physical wall hindered by common weaknesses. Its common physical weaknesses have been expanded upon a bit, particularly with the addition of Waterfall and stronger Fighting moves (like Close Combat). Special attackers can also take advantage of a few more of its weaknesses now, using new additions such as Earth Power and Focus Blast, but this is a change almost all defensive Pokémon have had to cope with. Despite its common weaknesses, it has a boatload of resistances, making it a useful addition to any team, especially as a measure against opposing Choice Pokémon.
Offensively, Steelix is much the same as well. The addition of the elemental fangs and Stone Edge are definitely appreciated though, and Gyro Ball gives it a very viable Steel STAB. Additionally, Stealth Rock provides a very useful support move that Steelix can lend to its team.
Steelix walks through the generation gap fairly unscathed. A few new threats cause it problems and a few new additions make it more attractive, but it's still an effective BL physical wall that can't make the jump to OU because of its common weaknesses.
Sturdy: prevents OHKO moves, which are rarely seen in competitive battling. As a result, this ability is useless most of the time, although it tends to get chosen simply because the other ability choice (Rock Head) is also useless if Steelix isn't using Double-Edge.
Rock Head: prevents recoil from Steelix's recoil moves, which basically refers solely to Double-Edge. It unfortunately does not block the 'recoil' from Life Orb or Struggle, so unless you're using Double-Edge, the ability is useless.
The move-set is something of an obvious standard. Earthquake provides a reliable source of damage and useful type coverage. This can be backed further either by Stone Edge (which is useful for Flying switch-ins) or Gyro Ball, which works nicely off of STAB and its terrible Speed stat (for a more detailed explanation of its mechanics, see the game mechanics article on it).
Stealth Rock provides obvious support to Steelix's team-mates, and it works nicely for Steelix as well, since it serves to discourage (most) Flying types from switching in. Explosion serves as its last ditch move, and with what is effectively a Base Power of 500 (since it halves the opponent's defence prior to landing), only resistant types should expect to survive.
Choice Band presents another obvious option for Steelix, although the removal of Leftovers slightly lessens its defensive capabilities. In exchange it picks up a rather nice 1.5x boost to all of its offensive moves. In particular, Explosion becomes something of a guaranteed KO when backed by Choice Band, baring resistances or immunities.
EVs and Nature:
Being its superior stat, and one of its most important, a Defence boosting nature is obviously worth the investment. The 10% goes a long way. On a max IV Steelix, it'll boost its Defence from 436 to 479 (a jump of 43). A Choice Band Steelix may want to consider an Attack boosting nature for some added power, but aside from that, Steelix will generally want to stick to a Defence boosting nature. As for its EVs, it'll definitely want to max its HP, which will have significantly more bearing on its bulkiness than Defence EVs would. Special Defence EVs are also worth the investment, to allow Steelix to deal with stuff like Hidden Power [Ice] and special moves that it resists. 200 is generally the Special Defence stat considered to be the most desirable to aim for. The rest of its EVs tend to go towards its Attack stat.
Reaching the lowest possible Speed stat is desirable when you're using Gyro Ball. A Speed lowering nature (such as Relaxed or Brave) is preferable, just to notch it down a few more points. Understandably, the lowest possible Speed IV is also ideal.
Crunch, Ice Fang, Thunder Fang, Fire Fang, Rock Blast, Double-Edge, Block, Roar, Rest, Toxic, Macho Brace.
Crunch has some use for the floating Ghosts, such as Gengar and Drifblim. It's also got some use for levitating Psychics, such as Cresselia and Azelf.
The elemental fangs are nice new addition. Ice Fang is obviously useful for the 4x weak dragons, as well as Gliscor. Thunder Fang is useful for catching Gyarados. Fire Fang is the least useful of the bunch but it'll cause Forretress and Scizor some agony and stings Heracross a quite nicely.
With all four of these moves, it's worth considering if they're worth using in place of Gyro Ball, which on many occasions can match or better the power of some of these moves against the foes they would be super-effective against.
Rock Blast is a possible alternative to Stone Edge, although with unreliable power it is quite unattractive. The main selling point is its multiple hits, allowing it to break through a Substitute and then hit the Pokémon behind it.
Double-Edge is a Normal typed move with Base 120 Power, and no recoil when Rock head is in use. Much like Crunch and the Fangs, the main thing to consider is its value when weighed against Gyro Ball, especially since it won't ever land a super-effective hit.
Block is a situational move, which is unfortunately difficult to pull off successfully, but can be of some use. The main thing to consider is when you have a foe you want to trap, the turn you use the move, the opponent will have had the opportunity to switch to a counter, so more than likely you'll end up trapping your opponent's counter. It's a nice way to guarantee what opponent you'll be dealing with however, especially when it comes to using Explosion. Nice, but probably not practical enough to justify the use of a move-slot.
Roar is a pseudo-hazing option, particularly useful for breaking up Baton Passing chains and sending away some stat-boosters (such as Curse Snorlax). The move is somewhat less useful now than it was in the previous generation, but its uses remain the same, and a spot of passive damage from Stealth Rocks and Spikes is a nice bonus.
Rest is the only healing move Steelix gets, so its mention is obvious. A sleeping Steelix is defenceless though, and a Rest-Talk Steelix only has two move-slots available, so Rest isn't a particularly attractive option.
Toxic is a decent option, especially on such a defensive Pokémon. It'll particularly annoy Bulky Water types, who usually have an easy ride against Steelix.
Macho Brace halves Steelix's Speed. The purpose of using this item is to double the power of Gyro Ball (or double it until it hits its power cap). The most ideal Speed stat for a Level 100 Steelix is 58, taking into account a Speed lowering nature and a 0 Speed IV. This means that Gyro Ball would reach its power cap (150) against an opponent of about 350 Speed. With a Macho Brace, its Speed would (ideally) be 29, and comparatively, it could hit the Gyro Ball cap against an opponent with about 176 Speed.
Sacrificing Leftovers recovery is an unattractive prospect, especially for the sake of a single move, but Macho Brace is worth some consideration. Having a STAB move that'll consistently strike at Base 150 power is an attractive prospect.
The most immediate thing that jumps to mind when countering Steelix is to target its weaker defensive stat, namely its Special Defence. Beyond that, it's obviously preferable to target its weaknesses, Fire and Water being particularly easy targets due to the abundance of special moves from those types.
Bulky Water types tend to be the favourable choice for dealing with Steelix, with bulky enough Defence to suck up STAB Earthquakes and a STAB Surf to fire back. Swampert, Slowbro, Starmie, Milotic and Suicune come to mind. Gyarados is viable as well, provided Steelix is lacking Stone Edge.
Among non-water types, there's a fair amount of choice. Gliscor carries a handy immunity to Earthquake, a STAB Earthquake of its own and Roost. Claydol has similar benefits, Ground immunity and STAB Ground moves. Cresselia and Weezing benefit from Ground immunities and good defences, but will need to turn to non-STAB special moves to deal damage, although Weezing in particular has access to fire moves and Will-o-Wisp.
Dusknoir can manage with Will-o-Wisp, and benefits from a very useful Explosion immunity. Donphan can Spin away Stealth Rocks and turn to STAB Earthquake for damage. Hippowdon can comfortably Slack Off any damage it takes and fire off STAB Earthquakes of its own as well. Special attacking Tangrowth variants can manage as well, benefiting from a useful Ground resistance.
Pretty much every counter listed up there (except for Dusknoir) needs to worry about Explosion. With Steelix being slower than most of the aforementioned counters, the main way it'll catch them with Explosion is to use it as they switch-in, so some prediction is the main means to avoid it. Aside from Explosion, Steelix doesn't carry too many tricks it can pull. Macho Brace Gyro Balls might pull off more damage than expected and Toxic can be problematic for a lot of its counters, but aside from those two, its move-set is pretty predictable.
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