Poké Monday 10/6: Malamar

RNG 

Smogon official tier: NU
Type: Dark/Psychic
Base Stats: 86 HP, 92 Attack, 88 Defense, 68 Sp. Attack, 75 Sp. Defense, 73 Speed
Abilities: Contrary, Suction Cups, Infiltrator (HA)

“Usable” moves (according to Pokémon Showdown): Aerial Ace, Calm Mind, Dark Pulse, Destiny Bond, Façade, Flamethrower, Foul Play, Frustration, Hidden Power (Electric, Fighting, Fire, Grass, Ice), Hypnosis, Light Screen, Night Slash, Payback, Protect, Psychic, Psycho Cut, Psyshock, Rain Dance, Reflect, Rest, Return, Reversal, Rock Slide, Sleep Talk, Substitute, Sunny Day, Superpower, Switcheroo, Taunt, Thunderbolt, Torment, Toxic, Trick Room

Overview

Malamar can be classified as a heralded combination on the wrong set of stats, similarly to how Hustle Aerial Ace is squandered on the likes of Delibird and Togekiss, or (albeit on a slightly different track) Fur Coat on a Pokémon like Furfrou with odd stats and few support options. It’s something of a balance, I guess.

So, even after the 5th generation, when Spinda was given Contrary with Superpower as a Dream World exclusive move, it seems GameFreak wanted another Contrary user with Superpower, presenting itself in the form of Malamar. All, and I mean all, of Malamar’s stats are better than Spinda’s and Malamar gets the luxury of two STABs, but Malamar has a 4x weakness to Bug (which is really common thanks to U-turn), a 2x weakness to Fairy, and an immunity to Psychic—nothing to write home about compared to Spinda’s one 2x weakness to Fighting and one immunity to Ghost. Another thing Spinda has that Malamar lacks is Sucker Punch. Without priority, even if Malamar has +6/+6 in Attack and Defense, if it’s at a killable percentage, it’s easy to revenge thanks to its base 73 Speed.

Speaking of that Speed stat, the problem with it is that it is too slow for standard sweeping and too fast for Trick Room. All other Trick Room users (in NU, at least) are slower than that, and any uninvested wall below base 50 is also slower. Fortunately, nothing below that speed tier is likely to U-turn in your face (except Vespiquen, but who uses that?).

In summary, Contrary+Superpower is a great combination, but Malamar’s typing and stats are meh and its Dark STAB is not up to snuff.

Set 1

Malamar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Contrary
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Adamant Nature
– Superpower
– Psycho Cut
– Night Slash
– Rock Slide

This is the set I used during playtesting, but I did not have much time to do so because I placed most of my time elsewhere. (The rest of the sets are entirely from the head; keep that in mind.) Typical me. As a matter of fact, I was so naïve, I just went with a run-of-the-mill bulky set and gave no thought to speed creeping. 12 EVs put Malamar past uninvested Seismitoad…and that’s the only speed creep I can think of.

At any rate, Superpower is the main move with which anyone associates Malamar. Paired with Contrary, there is a chance that it might do things (yeah, its status as a sweeper is shaky). Psycho Cut and Night Slash are its two main STAB moves, offering some pretty nice coverage with Superpower, and anything beyond that is filler.

Set 2

Malamar @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Contrary
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Superpower
– Psycho Cut
– Night Slash
– Switcheroo

This set brands Malamar as more of a revenge killer than a sweeper of any kind. However, its problematic base 73 Speed puts it behind Electrode, Accelgor, pretty much anything else with a Choice Scarf, and anything above base 43 at +2. The moveset is pretty much the same outside of one trick (no pun intended) that cannot be used on the Assault Vest set: Switcheroo. It allows Malamar to cripple walls (or potentially setup sweepers) if need be and gives it the freedom to use Superpower with other moves, like it can on non-Choice sets.

Set 3

Malamar @ Life Orb
Ability: Contrary
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Brave Nature
– Trick Room
– Superpower
– Psycho Cut
– Night Slash

In this case, Iron Ball can be used over Leftovers to outslow the real slow slouches. (On that note, you could also run Fling as a gimmick, heh.) Offensive Trick Room allows it to get by its Speed problem (if only slightly) while at the cost of short duration and lack of priority as a failsafe.

Other Options

A set of Superpower / Night Slash / Rest / Sleep Talk can also be used, but it is completely walled by Fairies, of which there are 8 in the tier (Carbink, Dedenne, Floette, Granbull, Mr. Mime, Slurpuff, Togetic, Wigglytuff), and Rest+Talk is hardly a viable strategy with Malamar’s subpar stats. Tanga Berry can be used to reduce the sting of U-turn, but it is entirely situational and merely single use. Any other options are victims of four moveslot syndrome, extremely situational, or better left to other team members.

 

I will provide a team, but definitely take this one with a grain of salt because it has literally lost more times than it has won. http://pastebin.com/0pfRpALq

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