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Pokémon VGC — What is Speed Control and How To Master It?

Moving first can be the ultimate factor in deciding the outcome of your competitive Pokémon match. Here we’ll cover the importance and the methods of controlling the pace of the game.

What is Speed Control?

To keep it simple, speed control is a term used by the Pokémon community to describe the various ways in which a player can manipulate the move order in the field.

Speed control has existed in Pokémon from the very first generation but with each new game different mechanics that influence speed have been introduced to the game.

Although not obligatory, speed control is considered by all competitive players as an extremely important part of the game, and most teams are built with either a Pokémon that can manipulate speed. Moving first can make bulky Pokémon into formidable offensive threats and fragile glass-canon Pokémon into sweepers.

How to manipulate speed control?

Just like any other stat in the game not all Pokémon are born the same. Each Pokémon has its own base stat, which can be further increased by a limited amount even before the battle starts. Factors that influence a Pokémon’s speed outside of the game are its IVs, nature, and EVs.

When it comes to battles you can find numerous ways to control the speed of each Pokémon, here we have listed the most common ones:

Tailwind

Tornadus using Tailwind

Tailwind is a non-damaging Flying-type move introduced in Generation IV which doubles the speed of all Pokémon from your side for four consecutive turns.

Its unique characteristics allow for Pokémon with the ability Prankster and Gale Wings to enhance their team’s speed from the get-go, setting up their offensive threats.

Pokémon such as Murkrow, the Gen V Genies, and Zapdos are some of the meta-defining Pokémon who stood the test of time through the use of Tailwind and can be seen on numerous major events finals.

Paralysis

Considered the grandfather of speed control, paralysis is the status condition introduced in the game’s first generation. When paralyzed, not only does a Pokémon have a 25% chance of losing their turn due to full paralysis but they also have their speed decreased in half (before Generation VII paralysis used to reduce the Pokémon’s speed by a whopping 75%!)

Offensive moves such as Body Slam and Thunderbolt have a secondary effect that can paralyze the opponent however paralysis is mostly inflicted through the use of non-damaging moves, the most common being: Thunder Wave, Nuzzle, and Glare.

zapdos

Paralysis has some unique disadvantages such as not being able to be afflicted by Electric-Type and Ground-Type (when the move is of the Electric-Type) Pokémon. Another less obvious disadvantage is that, when paralyzed, a Pokémon cannot have other status conditions such as Sleep and Burn which depending on the situation can be more beneficial.

Icy Wind / Electroweb

Both Icy Wind and Electroweb have distinct characteristics but when it comes to speed control they are fundamentally the same. Both moves are spread moves meaning they can hit both foes at the same time and when they connect they reduce the Pokémon’s speed by one stage.

These moves are one of the few damaging moves which guarantee some sort of speed reduction and can be extremely present depending on the current regulation’s allowed Pokémon list.

Trick Room

Trick Room, or just TR, is probably the most famous speed control method in Pokémon. With the effect of inverting the move order of all Pokémon for five turns teams are built entirely around this move, either to benefit or counter it.

Some heavy-hitter Pokémon are usually nerfed by design by having a low-speed stat which means most Pokémon can outspeed and thus deal damage on them before they can even have a chance to send one attack out. With Trick Room all of this is turned upside-down and Pokémon such as Ursaluna and Torkoal can completely sweep teams with almost no contest.

dragonite

Quash / After You

Both are single-target, non-damaging moves and can completely change the course of a round. Although they don’t necessarily increase or decrease a Pokémon’s speed stat when they connect they completely disrupt the priority bracket.

The Pokémon inflicted by Quash will always move last, when you pair Quash with a Pokémon with the Prankster ability such as Murkrow you can now make the fastest Pokémon in the game slower than the worst Slugma.

After You, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. When a Pokémon is inflicted by After You it will be the next to move, independent of its speed or if other Pokémon utilized priority moves.

Priority

“Last” but definitely not the least important are Priority moves. These are moves that, by default, have a priority when it comes to move orders. Move such as Extreme Speed, Sucker Punch, and Aqua Jet fall under this category.

Most if not all metas will have at least one of these moves present and players must be constantly looking out for these as they can completely ignore speed tiers and change the tides of the game.

When two Pokémon utilize a priority move the one with the most speed will go first which can lead to some interesting situations. It should also be noted that due to the notoriety of Priority moves some counter-measures have been created by The Pokémon Company. Abilities such as Armor Tail, Queenly Majesty, and Psychic Surge have the potential of completely negating Priority moves.