Gallade, The Blade Pokémon. A master of courtesy and swordsmanship, it fights using extending swords on its elbows.
Gallade is Gardevoir's new physical counterpart. It's set apart from its fellow Fighting types by its plethora of status options. With Hypnosis, Thunder Wave, Will-o-Wisp and Toxic it gives all of its counters potential problems. Of course, as far as straight-forward “hitting things” is concerned, Gallade is no slouch. Base 125 Attack stings, especially with a fairly strong move-pool and the possibility of Swords Dance. Its Speed lets it down when it comes to sweeping, but the potential is certainly there.
Steadfast: is one of those traits that's occasionally helpful but it can't be relied on. There are a few Flinch moves, but they're certainly not commonplace enough for Steadfast to activate on a frequent basis. It's advisable to not use Gallade with Steadfast in mind, but when it activates, accept it as a handy little bonus. It certainly could do with the Speed boost, and the activation of it could open up a decent sweeping opportunity.
Attacker and Status Support
- Close Combat
With a Base 125 Attack stat, Gallade performs quite well offensively. Close Combat and Psycho Cut provide it with excellent STAB moves, but both are resisted by Psychic types, necessitating the use of Night Slash. It has a few other attacking options, but those three would generally form the core of its offence.
A status attack fills up the last slot and can cause most of its counters problems. Hypnosis is always useful, but because Competitive Battles are held under a Sleep clause, it can only be used against one opponent at a time. Thunder Wave severely cuts the opponent's Speed, making it a very effective choice against opposing sweepers (and the chance of paralysis is a handy bonus). Will-o-Wisp halves the opponent's Attack stat, essentially crippling physical attackers.
Expert Belt is usually a decent choice on any attacker that doesn't want to be taking Life Orb damage. Life Orb is always an option, but Gallade has a respectable Special Defence stat (allowing it to take a few hits) and Life Orb damage would severely cut its defensive capabilities. Leftovers is always an option to give Gallade some minor healing (or negate Sandstorm/Hail damage).
Swords Dance Sweeper
- Close Combat
Gallade has some decent sweeping capabilities, and with the backing of a Swords Dance it can reach a rather impressive Attack stat. Low Speed lets it down when it comes to sweeping, but it can still pull it off with proper preparation.
Expert Belt and Life Orb are there for typical sweeping options, as is Leftovers for the minor healing boost it gives. Salac Berry could be considered an option to make up for its fairly poor Speed. With a small investment in its Speed EVs and a Salac Boost, Gallade can outrun a lot of opponents, although activating the berry can be difficult without forcibly doing so with Substitute (and using Substitute would force the loss of one of its offensive moves).
- Close Combat
Two statuses are harder to deal with than just one, although it comes at the expense of a move-slot. Between Hypnosis and either Thunder Wave or Will-o-Wisp, Gallade can spread a crippling status onto several members of the opponent's team quite easily (especially if the opponent isn't expecting Gallade to use two status attacks).
Since the move-set has less of a focus on offence, offensive-minded items such as Expert Belt and Life Orb become less attractive. Leftovers is the preferable choice for the healing boost. Wide Lens is worth a look if both Hypnosis and Will-o-Wisp are in use, since the small accuracy boost can help them land at a more reliable rate.
- Close Combat
Choice items seem to be an obvious match for Gallade. Choice Band gives its attacks an extra sting whilst Choice Scarf allows it to outrun the vast majority of common threats. The main reason for them not being primary choices however is when comparisons are drawn against Medicham, who arguably performs better than Gallade with both items. With Pure Power, Medicham's Attack stat (potentially) reaches about 100 points higher than Gallade's would. Status attacks and a better Special Defence stat help set Gallade apart from Medicham, but with status attacks out of the equation, it's difficult to justify using Gallade instead of Medicham.
Regardless of comparisons against Medicham, Gallade can still perform effectively with both items. Stone Edge is the only new addition to its standard three attacks. Its use will primarily go to assaulting Gyarados and Salamence, as well as any other Flying types that dare to show their face.
EVs and Nature:
Adamant with 252 Attack EVs tends to be preferable. More defensive minded Gallade's would probably want to shoot for either Max HP or 336 (which is an ideal number for maximum Leftovers recovery). Some Special Defence EVs are worth consideration, since it'll be primarily taking hits from the Special Side. When Will-o-Wisp is in use, Defence EVs can become worth some consideration, since it can take physical hits from opponents suffering from Burn.
Speed EVs are always worth consideration, although Gallade is in a Speed group where it doesn't have too many worthwhile opponents to outrun. With little EV investment, 203 Speed is a realistic number that allows it to outrun the standard Agility-Metagross, Rain Dance-Kingdra, and generally any Pokémon that expects to get a 2x Speed boost. Shooting a little higher, 222 would allow it to outrun Tyranitar (should the need ever arise). Max Speed is acceptable on more sweeper orientated variants of Gallade, especially if a Salac Berry or Choice Scarf is in question. If a Speed boost from either Salac or Scarf is expected, 256 should be the minimum number to shoot for, to guarantee that it'll outrun a Jolly Weavile when the boost is active.
Jolly isn't particularly useful when compared to Adamant, but it does allow it to outrun Adamant variants of Heracross. When boosted by a Choice Scarf or a Salac Berry, a Jolly Gallade can also outrun the likes of Jolteon, Aerodactyl and Crobat.
Brick Break, Thunderpunch, Ice Punch, X-Scissor, Earthquake, Leaf Blade, Focus Punch, Trick Room, Reflect, Light Screen, Taunt, Bulk Up, Substitute.
Brick Break is an alternative to Close Combat for Fighting STAB, if you intend for Gallade to maintain respectable defences over an extended period of time.
Thunderpunch is useful for hitting Gyarados whilst Ice Punch is useful for Salamence and Gliscor. Both punches are only available from Emerald though, so a Ralts or Kirlia would need to be traded from the 3rd Gen.
X-Scissor is very helpful for taking down Celebi. It's a viable replacement for Night Slash, since it also deals with opposing Psychic types (although you lose the coverage against Ghost types).
Earthquake, Leaf Blade and Focus Punch are three strong moves Gallade learns but has little use for. Most of what the three of those cover can be handled just fine by either Close Combat or Psycho Cut, and the few exceptions aren't significant enough threats to merit the move-slot.
Gallade is a bit too fast to effectively use Trick Room, but it can set it up for team-mates and it can catch some faster opponents by surprise with it.
Reflect and Light Screen are too viable supportive options. With Will-o-Wisp and Reflect, Gallade can stand up to physical sweepers whilst with its great Special Defence and Light Screen, it can stand up to special sweepers. However, without a recover move, Gallade doesn't perform defensively as effectively as one would hope, and it's already starved for move-slots as it is.
Taunt is a fun option to use against opponents that try to deal with it passively. For the most part, it'll see use blocking status attacks, recovery moves and Sleep Talk.
Bulk Up is a viable option, although Swords Dance favours the direct sweeper. With Will-o-Wisp and Bulk Up, it's possible that Gallade may be able to find time to set-up against a physical attacker, but it will be difficult without a recovery move and probably won't come off as effectively as a straightforward Swords Dance sweeper would have.
Substitute is an effective way to activate stat-boost berries (most notably, the Salac Berry). An additional bonus is that it can be used to block status attacks and provides a handy defensive buffer, allowing Gallade to scout the opponent's offensive attacks.
One of the significant problems when dealing with Gallade is its wide array of status attacks. Almost all of its counters risk being shutdown by at least one of its status moves, and the ones that don't are usually weak to at least one of its common attacks. The fact that it has a fairly diverse move-pool makes matters a bit more difficult. Scouting what it has with Protect or prediction (such as switching in Starmie to absorb whichever status it throws out) can be helpful, but then you risk getting beat-up with a Choice Band attack or allowing it time to set-up a Swords Dance.
Celebi is a decent option to send in against it. Natural Cure lets it shrug off Gallade's status attacks and it resists both of its STAB moves. Although it's weak to Night Slash, it has the defence to handle it, but Recover-stalling isn't advised, since an unlucky critical-hit would become inevitable. Rest-Talk variants of Cresselia, Claydol, Slowbro or Uxie are nearly as effective as Celebi in finding out what attacks Gallade is using, but they all share the same problem with Night Slash. Most of these Psychic types also lack the hard-hitting power to deal with a Swords Dance Gallade swiftly.
If status attacks aren't a factor, Salamence and Gyarados are capable of switching in against it, cutting its Attack with Intimidate and resisting Close Combat. An elemental punch or Stone Edge will sting however.
If Will-o-Wisp is absent, Gliscor is a great counter and Hippowdon, Skarmory and Forretress are reasonably capable against it. Without Will-o-Wisp or Night Slash, Dusknoir deals with it quite well and without Psycho Cut, Weezing will deal with it nicely.
Just about all of the above counters will be shutdown by Hypnosis if they aren't using Sleep Talk, so sending in a Sleep absorber is advised against Hypnosis variants. Aside from that, it's a matter of finding out what's being used. Some counters work great against some variants of Gallade but fail miserably against others. Finding a Pokémon that can deal with every variant of Gallade is difficult (if not impossible).
Despite being difficult to counter, Gallade has several problems that hold it back. Without a reliable recovery move, repeated beatings and passive damage catch up with it very quickly. Its core attack, Close Combat, lowers its defensive capabilities significantly and most notably, for a Pokémon that would be defined as a sweeper, Gallade is pretty slow. If Gallade does manage to take down a Pokémon, it's always possible to send in a faster sweeper to pick up a revenge KO.
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