Friday, March 07, 2014

Pivot, a Guide to the Pivot Role on a Pokémon Team

What is a pivot?

The pivot it is a role on a pokémon team that allows you to alter the field position by facilitating a switch into a pokémon that would not be safe without the pivot. In this way the active pokémon switches into the pivot pokémon who then allows the 3rd pokémon to switch in safely or switch into an advantageous position.

While the role of pivot is often a secondary role for a pivoting pokemon, some monsters have a unqie combination of move set, ability, stats and typing that allow them to consistently pivot for team members reliably throughout a match.

A pivot can be the pivoting pokemon, or the act of pivoting its self. As in: "I need a good pivot for this
team." Or: "Blissey performed a great pivot that turn."

Because doubles is such a fast paced format, and because doubles allows attacks to come in from two sources pivoting seldom functions in that game style. As a result the pivot is most often seen as a feature of the singles meta game.

Why pivot?

The main utility of pivoting pokemon is that they provide safe or advantageous entry for another pokemon. You might be looking to bring in a pokemon to set up swords dance with a free turn, or you might want to bring in a counter to your opponent's active pokemon, but are unable to do so safely or reliably given the threat the current opponent presents. By using a pokemon that can switch in safely against the current threat you gain the initiative and have the opportunity to create the right conditions for the 3rd pokemon to succeed.

An example: You're looking to set up a late game sweep with alakazam, but your opponent has a sucker punching golem active. Alakazam can't take a hit, and will get wasted if you do a manual switch (hit the switch button and then use your turn to bring alakazam in). In order to get alakamzam in you're going to switch into amoongus whose potent giga drain threatens golem, and on the switch your amongus takes some chip damage from .

Your opponent can either choose to risk the sleep due to spoor or risk the giga drain damage, and if they do then all the better, but they do the likely thing and switch to something that can handle your pivot, they switch in charizard. Being able to predict that your opponent will switch to a pokemon better able to deal with amoongus you now get a free turn to bring in alakazam who is now ready with full hp to being to sweep.

Without amoongus in this situation, bringing in alakazam in on golem would have been extremely risky, and would have most definitely resulted in alakazam being OHKOed by a sucker punch.

The Makings of a Good Pivot


Immunities and Resistances

Being able to take an incoming hit is the key quality of a would be pivot, and crucial immunities and resistances ease the pains of prediction when switching in your pivot. Immunities to key attacking types like fighting and dragon allow those pokemon who boast them to switch in fearlessly. Doubled up resistances allow pokemon who aren't immune to the incoming attack to take big hits like a champ. These immunities and resistances should be considered in terms of the pokemon you'll be attempting to pivot into. A good pivot has a complementary typing, allowing it to scare off pokemon that would suit up well against your incoming monster. 


Forced Switches

Ideally pivot pokémon should force your opponent to juggle their roster as well because of the threat

they pose to the current pokémon. In this way team members that were initially placed in the party as a sweeper can fill the role of pivot once you know what your foe has in their balls. You might end up using mega-garchomp exclusively to lure out fairy pokémon in a battle, instead of stomping faces with impunity like you thought you would. Because garchomp is such a force to be reckoned with, it demands an equal response which you can use to facilitate the entry of another team mate. 



There are many abilities that allow for some pokemon to fill the role of pivot. These are typically ones that create the opportunity for the pokémon to regain lost health, to pick up extra immunities, to limit the capacity of the opponent's active pokémon or just otherwise be hard to deal with. Key abilities are flash fire, volt drive, volt absorb, lightning rod, sap, sipper, water absorb, dry skin and levitate, which all grant a bonus immunity. Another great asset is regenerator, which causes the owner to regain 1/3 of their hit points when switching out, allowing for repeated switch ins. Natural cure is a similar ability, but it cures status effects when switching instead of HP, allowing the owner to buff out incoming will-o-wisps, spores and thunder waves. Consider abilities like sturdy, thick fat,

Beyond abilities that are defensive in nature, abilities that put your opponent in a bind can be helpful. One such ability is intimidate, which can stunt the effectiveness of physical opponents by reducing their attack. 



There are a number of tools for pivots in the form of items. Many of these overlap the effective usage themes of abilities, and so are useful for the same reasons. A good example is focus sash, which is essentially the item form of the ability study. Any item that allows the holder to gain some bulk is an asset too, such as leftovers, sitrus berries, full restores and the like. Full restore might not be tournament legal, but they're legal in my heart. Another item to consider would be the assault vest. 


Move Sets

There are as many moves as there are shining stars in the heavens above Goldenrod City, but only some of them are fated to help pivotal pokémon succeed. Important moves are ones that force switches of course, moves like thunder, blizzard, hydro pump and draco meteor.

Beyond sheer power, there are moves that provide the pivot with utility to get their job done. Momentum maintaining moves like volt switch and u turn keep the heat on while making the switch to their ally. Beyond those baton pass is also a helpful pivoting move, which will allow you to pass on an set ups you may have put together while creating the right conditions for the pokémon it will pivot to.

Status moves can aid the switch as well. In the cases of burn a physical threat can be neutralized or forced to switch. Paralysis can greatly reduce the risk of your 3rd pokémon taking a big hit on the switch. Sleep is like thunder wave help, but with its own set of associated odds. As a result of their associated statuses these moves, or sometimes just the threat of their use can be very helpful in making the switch.

Other potentially effective moves are wish and leech seed, which can help the next pokémon turn the odds in their favour if there's concern about them not being able to take a blow on entry.


Pivotal Pokémon

There are as many potentially pivotal pokémon are there are circumstances where you find your self in need of one. Most pokémon that end up being pivots are there because one of their team mates has a foe present that is inhibiting their capacity to succeed. That being said here are some suggestions for pokémon who are well enough suited to the role that in the right team, they could have the dedicated job of pivoting for their team mates.


Bold Nature, EVs: Hp 252, Def 252, SpDef 4
Regenerator, Black Sludge/Focus Sash
Giga Drain
Sludge Bomb
Hidden Power Fire / Clear Smog / Protect / Rage Powder*

With a great combination of type, ability, move set and stats, amoongus is an ideal pivot. The last move slot is a great place to handle issues your team has else where, with rage powder making an appearance to ease the use of a pivot in doubles. As that user becomes the target of all incoming attacks, rage powder acts like setting a pick for the incoming pokémon, setting a pivot of sorts.

Pokémon with Low Hp

One of the best pivots on any team is a pokémon with few hit points who has already served their greater purpose on the team, and is likely not going to see much more action in the battle. You can use one of these pokémon to take an incoming hit, and when they get KOed, the battle initiative resets, and you can bring in your next pokémon for free. By manually switching this way you let a pokémon that isn't likely to see action again this battle buff out some damage for a pokémon who still has a key role to play.

Frogs are supposed to be blue.
A good example would be a politoed whose primary function, let's say, is to on your team is to set up rain. Once that's been accomplished, yay for politoed if it's able to get a few hits in, but kingdra is the big big gun on this party. You might need to bring kingdra in now that the rain has been set up to sweep in the late game, but your opponent's magenton is still threatening powerful thunders. Why not let politoed take one for the team so that kingdra can take on the magnets on a more even footing?

Take 'em to the Field

Using pivots on your team is mostly a matter of resourcefulness, prediction and loss assessment. When done well pivots act like the gear box that let's a well oiled machine shift. When done poorly important pokémon end up taking big hits needlessly. the only way to get to know what situation you're in is to experiment on the battle field. Get out there champ in the making!

Check out a video of the example I used in motion. Watch as alakazam sets up a sweep that wouldn't have been possible without the pivot help of its buddy amoongus.

1 comment:

  1. Nice insight! The term 'pivot' gets thrown around a lot, and this is a great primer.