Level 50 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Metagross is a dominating physical attacker in VGC 2012. Its Steel typing allows it to check hail teams and resist Rock Slide, while its bulkiness prevents it from being OHKOed by common spread attacks. In past years, Metagross was closely associated with Explosion. However, Explosion no longer halves the Defense of Pokemon before it hits, so it is less useful than before. Despite the nerf, Metagross is incredibly difficult to take down without it dishing out serious damage beforehand.
This is a straightforward set focusing on pure damage output. Metagross's ability, Clear Body, prevents Intimidate and other stat-reduction strategies from crippling it. STAB Meteor Mash deals enormous damage to anything that does not resist it. Bullet Punch is a useful priority attack for dealing with Focus Sash users and fast, frail Pokemon. Earthquake somewhat rounds out coverage. It gives Metagross a way to hit opposing Metagross, Jolteon, and Fire-type Pokemon. Earthquake is not always the best option for Metagross, however. Explosion still has 187.5 Base Power when factoring in how spread moves' Base Powers are calculated in double battles. As such, Explosion may be necessary in order to deal heavy damage to Pokemon such as Zapdos, Gyarados, and Rotom-W. Occa Berry allows Metagross to survive most Fire-type attacks. This is especially important because of its lower base Special Defense and the widespread use of Heat Wave. Normal Gem is also an option in conjunction with Explosion, drastically increasing its damage output.
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Metagross is rarely seen as a Pokemon who can outspeed its enemies. This set is situational, but it yields an incredibly high reward if it pays off. With a Choice Scarf, Metagross outspeeds many of its counters and hits them with a super effective move. Many prominent Pokemon in VGC 2012 have trouble dealing with fast Steel- and Ice-type attacks. Iron Head is a decent STAB attack, and the flinch rate is even more useful with Choice Scarf. Ice Punch deals heavy damage to Zapdos and Garchomp. A super fast Explosion can catch teams completely off-guard. With the Explosion nerf, double Protecting to scout for it has become quite rare, allowing a first-turn Explosion to be more effective. Earthquake can be used to get coverage on Heatran and opposing Metagross. Trick is extremely useful as Metagross can Trick its Choice Scarf onto support Pokemon, such as Cresselia. Getting rid of the Choice Scarf also allows Metagross to switch attacks if the matchup becomes unfavorable.
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Zen Headbutt gives neutral coverage on Zapdos, Politoed, and Ludicolo and also hits Hitmontop for super effective damage. Iron Head is a decent alternative to Meteor Mash, improving Metagross's accuracy, at the cost of power. If Ferrothorn becomes a problem, Hammer Arm is a good coverage move that can hit Ferrothorn; it can also lower Metagross's Speed, allowing it to function in Trick Room. If Trick Room Metagross is appealing, a Brave nature with 0 Speed IVs is recommended, allowing it to be one of the "fastest" Pokemon on the field in Trick Room. Metagross can make use of ThunderPunch or Ice Punch on any set to deal with Gyarados or Garchomp, respectively. Lum Berry is a solid item choice, protecting Metagross from being frozen by multiple Blizzards, being put to sleep by Spore users, or being burned by Will-O-Wisp.
Checks and Counters
Metagross hates battling against physically bulky Pokemon who resist its powerful Steel-type moves. Exceptional counters to Metagross are those who resist or are immune to Earthquake on top of its Steel-type attacks. Zapdos, Rotom-W, Garchomp, Suicune, and Gyarados render almost all of Metagross's attacks useless. Zapdos and Garchomp deserve special mention because of their ability to hit Metagross with a super effective Heat Wave or Earthquake, respectively. Ninetales (and sun teams in general) give Metagross all kinds of trouble; Fire-type Pokemon such as Heatran resist Meteor Mash and can KO Metagross through Occa Berry if sun is up.