Steelix, The Iron Snake Pokémon. Steelix lives even further underground than Onix. This Pokémon is known to dig toward the earth's core. There are records of this Pokémon 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 darkness underground. Tempered underground under high pressure and heat, its body is harder than any metal.
Steelix does a great job of picking the slack for Onix, and not just in terms of aesthetics. While Onix suffers from uncharacteristically high Speed and low Attack for a Rock-type, Steelix remedies this by turning Onix into a proper tank boasting superior Steel/Ground typing. However, while it fixes the fact that Onix hit like a wet noodle before evolving, Steelix still struggles from its own host of problems. Steelix boasts one of the highest Defenses stats in the game, but that's all that Steelix really has going for it stat-wise, with average HP and mediocre Special Defense bringing it down as a defensive threat. Steelix has an acceptable Attack stat and high powered STAB options to pose a threat as a defensive Pokémon, but its lopsided bulk and lack of reliable recovery ultimately keep Steelix from being a top level threat. Its typing grants it very useful resistances though, despite very problematic weaknesses to Water-, Fire-, Ground-, and Fighting-type moves, so it can function as a tank under the right circumstances. However, if you want a reliable Steel-type to function as a tank, Steelix is probably not quite what you're looking for.
Rock Head: Does not receive recoil damage from recoil-causing damages. Steelix has nothing worth using this ability, not much else to say here.
- Heavy Slam
Steelix functions best as a tank to take advantage of its decent power while functioning as support for its team. Heavy Slam is Steelix's best Steel-type STAB since it's heavy enough to hit most foes at maximum power. Earthquake is a more reliable STAB move that boasts greater neutral coverage than Heavy Slam, and is particularly notable for threatening Fire-types that otherwise threaten Steelix. Stealth Rock provides useful support for its team, and due to Steelix's physical bulk it can usually find several opportunities to set it up. Toxic allows Steelix to threaten other defensive threats that otherwise have little trouble switching into Steelix, but Roar is an alternative if your team is weak to setup sweepers and has little need for Toxic support.
Maximum HP investment ensures Steelix is as physically bulky as possible, while the rest is placed in Attack with an Adamant nature to give it as much offensive presence as possible. Defense investment is unnecessary while Special Defense investment isn't helpful enough unless you sacrifice significant Attack investment. However, a specially defensive set with Careful nature is also viable if taking hits is more important than Steelix's damage output. Leftovers gives Steelix its only form of recovery, which helps it shrug off weaker attacks and switch in more frequently.
- Taunt may seem worthless on something so slow, but it can be useful with some speed investment to shut down other slow defensive threats.
Steelix's weak point is its awful Special Defense, so any powerful special attacker that can afford to take a Heavy Slam or Earthquake is usually enough to take down Steelix. Despite its insane Defense stat, Steelix lacks any form of recovery so it can easily be worn down even with physical attackers, and Knock Off in particular can put Steelix in a tough spot. Steelix also suffers from very common weaknesses despite an impressive set of resistances and immunities, with Water-, Ground-, Fighting-, and Fire-type moves all being very common even as coverage moves. Low Speed also does Steelix few favors, as this will usually result in Steelix taking a hit before getting a chance to do anything in return. Physically bulkier Pokémon that can afford to take an Earthquake or Heavy Slam can also take advantage of Steelix's limited offensive presence, and attempt to set up if they're careful with the threat of Toxic or Roar. Similarly, Taunt users can shut out any attempts to set up Stealth Rock, which can be devastating for the Steelix user if their team is dependent on getting hazards set up safely. Steelix isn't the kind of Pokémon you can easily take down in one hit, but it shouldn't be too sturdy of a wall for most teams to take down.
Mega Steelix is a fairly straightforward upgrade to Steelix as far as Mega Evolutions are concerned. The boosts that Steelix gains upon Mega Evolution simply attempt to improve its ability to function in the same role as it always does, but trading Leftovers for improved Attack and Special Defense. While giving up its only form of recovery might not even seem like an upgrade, the boost to its Special Defense and Attack are a huge step up, allowing it to focus more on being as bulky as possible on both sides. Sadly for Mega Steelix, it doesn't do quite enough to make Steelix all that much better. The decision to give it Sand Force does nothing for it, since it's both weather dependent and offense-oriented which is exactly the opposite of what Mega Steelix needs. The attempt to make it a hybrid offensive tank with huge bulk ultimately falls flat, as Mega Steelix lacks both the Speed and reliable recovery to fit such a role successfully. In addition to its lack of recovery, Mega Steelix still maintains the same typing as before, which means the same flaws of its typing still hold it back. Mega Steelix is most certainly still an upgrade for Steelix, but unlike many of the other ORAS Megas it unfortunately doesn't do quite enough.
Sand Force: Ground-type, Rock-type & Steel-type moves have their power increased by 33% in a Sandstorm. This ability only got worse with the nerf to weather abilities, and putting this on a Mega makes it a wasted slot. Mega Steelix really wishes it had an ability it could realistically make use of, because Sand Force is not that.
- Heavy Slam
Mega Steelix functions exactly the same as regular Steelix, trading better stats for no recovery. Heavy Slam remains the best Steel-type STAB for Mega Steelix since it only gets heavier, which makes it even more effective than it is for regular Steelix. Earthquake provides a more consistent STAB option though, which also grants greater coverage overall to let it threaten Fire-types and opposing Steel-types. Stealth Rock is very easy to set up with Mega Steelix's huge bulk, and despite its lack of recovery it's almost always getting multiple opportunities to use it throughout a battle. Toxic allows Mega Steelix to wear down opposing defensive threats, while Roar allows it to stop setup sweepers that may try to set up on it otherwise.
Maximum HP and Special Defensive investment gives Mega Steelix as much special bulk as possible, while the choice between Impish and Careful depends on whether you need the extra physical bulk or extra special bulk. Steelixite is required for Mega Evolution, while Sturdy is the ability of choice prior to Mega Evolution. This may seem unnecessary, but there are times where Steelix can't afford to switch out and is unable to take the hit unless it can avoid Mega Evolving to utilize Sturdy.
- Stone Edge or Rock Slide can be used to hit Flying-types harder, particularly those that also resist Heavy Slam. However, it's difficult to make room for a coverage move solely for this purpose.
VGC & Double Battle Options
Although Steelix is not in VGC 2017 bceause it is not found in the Alolan Pokedex (and its mega evolution would be banned anyway), it is still a fun Pokemon to use in doubles formats where it is legal, such as Battle Spot Doubles. Unfortunately it does require a lot of support to truly thrive and have its stats and ability maximized, though Mega Steelix can become very powerful under Trick Room and in Sandstorms.
-Heavy Slam / Gyro Ball
Maximum attack with a Brave nature lets Mega Steelix hit hard, but also maximizes its Gyro Ball power and how fast it is under Trick Room. 252 HP EVs make it as bulky as possible. Sturdy can allow Steelix to live any one attack on a switch before it can mega evolve, and Sand Force increases many of Mega Steelix's moves in a Sandstorm.
Heavy Slam and Gyro Ball are Mega Steelix's primary steel STAB moves. Heavy Slam can do high base damage to many Pokemon thanks to Steelix's weight, while Gyro Ball can also do strong damage with how slow Steelix is. Earthquake is Steelix's other strong STAB move, though it has to be careful about potentially hitting a teammate. Rock Slide has good coverage alongside Earthquake, and also works great for getting flinches with how "fast" Steelix can be in Trick Room. Fire Fang, on the other hand, can super-effectively hit Pokemon that resist its other moves, like Ferrothorn, Kartana, or Celesteela. Protect is arguably the best move in doubles, and can allow Steelix to stay safe while you set up Trick Room with its teammate.
Other Options and Team Ideas
-Ice Fang is another great coverage move to hit dragon-types and other Pokemon super effectively.
Countering Mega Steelix
Countering Mega Steelix is almost no different than countering regular Steelix. The biggest difference is that Mega Steelix no longer fears Knock Off or Trick thanks to Mega Stone mechanics. The lack of reliable recovery makes Mega Steelix even more prone to being worn down though, so repeated switching as well as entry hazards can put a lot of pressure on it. Mega Steelix isn't bothered much by Stealth Rock though, and only really needs to worry about Spikes which don't have relevance outside of a 6v6 Singles setting. The improved Special Defense makes Mega Steelix less hopeless against special attackers, so extra caution should be exercised when trying to beat Mega Steelix with special attacks. Even without investment, Mega Steelix still hits fairly hard with its STAB moves so be careful using anything that can't afford to take a strong Earthquake or Heavy Slam. Abusing its common weaknesses to Fire-, Ground-, Fighting-, and Water-type moves is even more important due to Mega Steelix's greatly improved bulk, since it's even more difficult to take down Mega Steelix in one hit. While Mega Steelix will often go down in order to bring down a foe, this is sometimes all it needs so be careful trading KOs with Mega Steelix. In many cases Mega Steelix may care more about getting Stealth Rock up as well, so having ways to remove hazards or prevent them can also put Mega Steelix in a tough spot.
While Onix may have serious issues being a huge Pokémon with a horrible Attack stat, Onix makes for a very effective Stealth Rock setter in a Little Cup setting due to its great Speed. Its fantastic Defense stat also allows it to take a beating on the physical side, though its poor Special Defense and lackluster typing makes it difficult to take full advantage of this bulk. Access to Sturdy makes it very difficult to take down Onix in one hit though, especially when combined with Berry Juice giving it an easy full restore. Onix struggles from many of the same things that Steelix does, but the Little Cup setting is definitely far less hostile to everyone's favorite Rock Snake.
Onix functions best as a lead due to its solid Speed stat and Sturdy, allowing to safely set up Stealth Rock early in the game. Earthquake is Onix's strongest STAB move, allowing it to check Electric-type such as Magnemite while giving it a spammable STAB move. Rock Blast is useful for breaking through Berry Juice users such as Dwebble, and despite its varying power it can be a very powerful STAB option for Flying-types and other threats that don't mind Earthquake. Onix can make effective use of Taunt due to its Speed in order to prevent setup and opposing entry hazards, while Roar can phase out setup sweepers that may already be in a dangerous position. Berry Juice in conjunction with Sturdy makes it very difficult to take Onix down in one hit, which makes it easy to set up Stealth Rock, while the given EV spread maximizes Attack and Speed with the leftovers being put into HP.
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