Salamence is often overshadowed by Rayquaza. However, many people forget that the two can be tango-partners! Dragon-type attacks are only resisted by one type in the game, Steel, thus making this combo very hard to stop. Either Rayquaza or Salamence can soften opposing Steel-types, allowing the other to wreak havoc on the opponent's team. However, sharing the same typing does have its drawbacks. Being weak to common Dragon- and Ice-type attacks is not pleasant at all. Moreover, both are weak to Stealth Rock and hurt badly by common priority moves, such as Bullet Punch and ExtremeSpeed, thus both require a lot of team support.
Salamence's offensive stats and typing make it an amazing sweeper. With base 135 Attack, access to Dragon Dance, and a very wide movepool with good coverage, it's guaranteed that the flying salamander will be a nightmare for many teams. Dream World also introduced a new ability for Salamence: Moxie. Moxie grants an Attack boost each time Salamence kills an opponent, and with the aforementioned qualities, it's more than likely to happen. However, as Dragon Dance, Outrage, and Moxie aren't obtainable together, Salamence has to settle for utilizing a Choice Scarf set with its newly introduced ability. Salamence might be a forgotten wonder, but don't let its rarity fool you, as it is definitely a deadly force in Ubers.
While this set may seem outclassed by Garchomp and Palkia, Salamence has one great advantage over them: its newly introduced ability, Moxie. Choice Scarf Salamence reaches a blazing Speed of 492, which outpaces many top threats in Ubers, such as Deoxys-A, Darkrai, Mewtwo, and Shaymin-S. It also Speed ties with Palkia, the most common Choice Scarf user. The point in this set is to surprise the opponent, such as in a situation where the opponent has a boosted Mewtwo packing Ice Beam at 80% of its health. Salamence's base Speed is lower than Mewtwo's, so the opponent will likely leave Mewtwo out, and then will be shocked as his genetic Pokemon is OHKOed by Outrage. But it doesn't stop there! After Salamence has killed one of the opponent's Pokemon, its Dream World ability activates, and boosts its Attack by one stage. Dragon Claw is Salamence's best choice against a weakened opponent, as it doesn't lock Salamence or leave it confused. Fire Blast and Earthquake are fillers, but they have perfect coverage with Salamence's Dragon-type STAB moves.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Salamence's combination of Speed, ability, and typing allow it to be a potent sweeper, capable of swiftly setting up and stealing the opponent's momentum. Once it has set up, Salamence is nigh unstoppable due to its excellent coverage; this is augmented by its excellent base 100 Speed, which allows it to outspeed many of the common Uber Choice Scarf users at +1. Unfortunately, without a boost Salamence's Attack is noticeably lacking when compared to Uber behemoths like Groudon, Zekrom, and Rayquaza. The choice of ability will help Salamence either get going or stay going; Moxie enables Salamence to break through walls that would ordinarily be able to sponge its attacks, while Intimidate is immensely helpful while setting up. Without Intimidate, Salamence has an incredibly hard time setting up without Wobbuffet or dual screens support, but without Moxie it can be difficult to put a full-fledged sweep into action. Really, it's up to personal preference, although in general Intimidate tends to be more effective due to its utility.
Due to Salamence's apparent inferiority in this role to Rayquaza, many would choose to run the latter if picking between the two. Because of this, the best way to utilize Dragon Dance Salamence is as a partner to Rayquaza. The reasoning behind this logic goes as follows: the opponent will rarely carry more than one hard check to the generic "Dragon Dancing Dragon / Flying type"; by carrying both Salamence and Rayquaza, one can overwhelm this check by way of sheer pressure and force. Any variant of Rayquaza will do, really, but they all perform slightly different roles: mixed shreds Salamence's counters to pieces, Dragon Dance aims to get rid of its own checks (and, by extension, Salamence's), and Swords Dance works like a combination of the two.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Salamence can run a mixed set very well, as it gets access to many amazing offensive moves, such as Draco Meteor, Outrage, Earthquake, Fire Blast, and Brick Break. However, such a set is outclassed by Rayquaza, who has better offensive stats and priority in ExtremeSpeed. Salamence can learn one move that Rayquaza can't: Roost, which is an amazing reliable recovery move, especially on offensive Pokemon. In the Ubers environment, however, Salamence will likely not get the chance to Roost. In the rain, 4 SpA Hydro Pump 2HKOes specially defensive Skarmory and Forretress, and OHKOes Heatran. Flamethrower can be used over Fire Blast if you don't want to risk a miss, but the loss in power is very significant. Crunch is another option if you wish to hit Psychic- and Ghost-type Pokemon harder, but Outrage is strong enough, and Crunch's coverage is very narrow. Furthermore, a neutral Outrage is stronger than a 2x super effective Crunch.
Checks and Counters
As Salamence is very versatile, it doesn't have many counters. However, because Salamence shares the same typing as Rayquaza, they both have similar counters. The best way to take on Salamence is by forcing it to use Outrage, and then switch to a bulky Steel-type such as Skarmory, Bronzong, or Steel Arceus. Skarmory and Bronzong can Toxic Salamence; additionally, the former can Roost the damage off and phaze Salamence away with Whirlwind, and the latter can hit Salamence very hard with either Hidden Power Ice or Gyro Ball. Steel Arceus can burn Salamence with Will-O-Wisp, set up Calm Minds on it, and Recover the damage it has taken. Steel Arceus is also capable of phazing by using Roar, or it can limit Salamence's outrageous sweep by using Perish Song.
Timid Lugia with maximum Speed EVs can outspeed a Salamence and OHKO with Ice Beam, but it risks being OHKOed by a +1 Stone Edge. The Great Wall Lugia, however, only has 28.21% chance of being OHKOed by +1 Stone Edge after Stealth Rock damage, making it a decent counter. In return, Lugia can phaze Salamence with Dragon Tail or Whirlwind, cripple it with Thunder Wave, or go for the kill with Ice Beam. Lugia can also heal itself with Recover or Roost. Cresselia falls in the same boat as Lugia; she can take a +1 Outrage, heal herself with Moonlight, and cripple Salamence with Thunder Wave or simply finish it off with Ice Beam. Groudon also makes a solid counter, as it only takes 64.85% maximum from a +1 Outrage, and from there either phaze with Dragon Tail, OHKO Salamence with Stone Edge after Stealth Rock damage, or cripple Salamence with Thunder Wave. Any bulky Arceus forme except Dragon Arceus can burn Salamence or phaze it; as mentioned, Steel Arceus is the best option.
Choice Scarf Garchomp and Shaymin-S outspeed +1 Salamence and can OHKO with Outrage or Hidden Power Ice, respectively. Choice Scarf Palkia can also OHKO Salamence with Spacial Rend or Draco Meteor, but risks losing the Speed tie with +1 Salamence. Mamoswine and Weavile, though extremely rare, don't mind Salamence's Speed boost because their 4x super effective STAB Ice Shard will always strike first, bypassing Salamence's boosts. Salamence is weak to Stealth Rock; each switch-in strips it of 25% of its health, so if you can keep them on the field, Salamence will have a hard time setting up and sweeping. Moreover, Salamence's defenses aren't high, so priority moves from the likes of Scizor and Arceus will wear it down quickly.