Large, silver, and sleek, stare in awe at Steelix. That menacing grin is not only for show, as Steelix practically laughs at half of the tier for the pittance in damage it receives. A reliable Steel / Ground typing gives it nine resistances and two immunities, while an astonishing base 200 Defense backed by a great base 75 HP makes Steelix one, if not THE, premier physical wall in the RU tier. With the proper EV investment, it can take both physical and special hits, being a great check or counter to threats such as Galvantula, Escavalier, and Aggron. Don't forget about Sturdy, which acts as a pseudo-Focus Sash. A godawful base 30 Speed and an average base 85 Attack are slightly concerning, but don't let that depress you; even that poor Speed is beneficial, as it enables Steelix to hit hard with Gyro Ball, an especially deadly move against various frail sweepers such as Sceptile. Steelix easily fits in with almost any team, ready to grin and bear the brunt of an opponent while setting up Stealth Rock on a whim!
The gold standard for Steelix; it takes resisted physical hits like a boss while getting the most desired entry hazard up easily. Stealth Rock is right at home in the RU tier, as it wreaks the myriad of Bug-, Flying-, and Fire-types that await. From there, Steelix wants to retaliate with a semblance of force. Earthquake grants this as its primary STAB move, putting a dent on anything it hits super effectively. Gyro Ball is its secondary STAB move that is useful against frail foes that are speedier than Steelix. It OHKOes Archeops and deals 78.59 - 92.25% damage to Primeape, a guaranteed OHKO with Stealth Rock and two layers of Spikes. Gyro Ball also does a decent number against Rotom, should it lack a super effective Hidden Power or Will-O-Wisp.
The final move is quite a fickle one, though. Because Steelix attracts unwanted attention from Pokemon wanting to set up on it, particularly those who resist or have no problem taking on its STAB moves, a phazing move is desired. The benefit is twofold, as the forced switch also racks up entry hazard damage. With access to two phazing moves, Steelix must make a choice; Roar has been a mainstay in Steelix's arsenal since GSC. Accuracy and the ability to phaze through an opponent's Substitute still make it the primary choice. However, Taunt ruins the chance of a Roar to be bellowed, so Steelix has the option of turning to a secondary phazing move. Dragon Tail deals damage while forcing out the opponent, meaning that damage is caused to both shifted Pokemon when in lieu with entry hazards. However, there are two downsides to Dragon Tail; it doesn't phaze through a Substitute, and the 90% accuracy may result in a costly miss.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
A Curse set is an option should you want to maximize Steelix's physical bulk and give it a better attacking role. It works best if its counters are gone, as it will gradually get slower as it uses Curse. Rock Head should not even be considered, as Double-Edge is the only worthwhile move to make use of it. Defensive sets love the protection of Sturdy, while offensive sets would, for the better part, prefer Sheer Force. Speaking of Sheer Force, Steelix has an expansive physical movepool to make use of it, but its Speed is a letdown. Rock Polish and Autotomize can mitigate this somewhat, but even after one boost, a max Speed Steelix is still outsped by Archeops by two points. RestTalk remains a viable strategy in that it enables Steelix to reuse Sturdy, but Steelix wants free usage of its moves. In addition, Taunt royally screws such a set.
Crunch is available to hit Ghost-types such as Rotom. Bulky Ghost-types can easily shrug off the damage, though. The elemental fangs are available too; Fire Fang has merit in that it can help against Ferroseed and Escavalier. Otherwise, they should really be considered only with Sheer Force, as Steelix is not causing much damage without it. Explosion turns Steelix into fiery pieces of shrapnel to pierce an opponent, though the nerf of it in BW makes it an inferior option. Finally, Taunt is an odd choice for such a slow Pokemon, but it helps against boosting sweepers such as Cosmic Power Sigilyph. It also shuts down most Clefable, and makes one-on-one confrontations with Ferroseed much easier.
Checks and Counters
Bulky Water-types such as Poliwrath and Slowking can take on anything Steelix throws at them and retaliate with their STAB moves. Rotom has no fear of any moves that Steelix can throw at it, bar the unlikely Crunch. A burn from Will-O-Wisp also ruins Steelix's average Attack, though it should be noted that without Will-O-Wisp, Steelix can win with Gyro Ball. For that reason, Rotom-C takes on Steelix more reliably thanks to an increase in bulk. Omastar, in spite of a weakness to Ground-type attacks, can beat Steelix thanks to its good Defense. In the same vein, Tangrowth has very little to worry about against Steelix. Ferroseed and Clefable become threats to Steelix that don't pack Taunt. Speaking of Taunt, it ruins efforts to set up Stealth Rock and stops Roar from working.
Bulky Ground-types such as Rhydon and Sandslash are great checks to Steelix, as both outspeed and can wear down Steelix with Earthquake. In Sandslash's case, it can also use Rapid Spin to eliminate Stealth Rock. Fire-types such as Entei and Magmortar can check Steelix, but an Earthquake when switching into Stealth Rock can spell doom for both. Moltres fears nothing bar the rare Stone Edge, but likewise detests the appearance of Stealth Rock, especially because it strips half of its health upon switching in. Fighting-types such as Gallade and Medicham are also decent checks against Steelix, though they don't appreciate a Gyro Ball to the face.