Steelix has fallen a long way from the titanic status it once had back in GSC, but that doesn't make it a bad Pokemon by any means. Its amazing physical defense and 11 resistances, including immunities to Poison and Electric, make Steelix a reliable user of Stealth Rock in UU. Its rival, Registeel, is more popular thanks to a wider support movepool and much higher Special Defense, but Steelix makes up for what it lacks with its unique typing, which is great offensively and good defensively, its access to Roar, and its Attack, which is just enough to pose a threat to its frailer would-be counters. It is also one of the handful of Pokemon who are immune to both Toxic and Thunder Wave. On the other hand, Steelix's shortcomings in its low Special Defense and Speed, defenselessness against Taunt, and common weaknesses in Water-, Fighting-, Fire-, and Ground-type attacks put Steelix at the bottom of the UU support ladder. Don't let these drawbacks fool you though, Steelix is a solid choice for any team looking for a Steel-type defensive pivot.
Steelix’s basic walling set returns for another round in the UU tier. Its great resistances cause many switches, which it can exploit by laying down Stealth Rock while the opposing Pokemon flees. Due to an uninvested Attack stat, the residual damage will probably do more harm than any direct attacks that Steelix can dish out, so you'll want Stealth Rock set up as soon as possible.
STAB Earthquake deals respectable damage, and no Steelix should walk out the door without it. The third slot depends on whether you want coverage with Stone Edge, or STAB and accuracy in Gyro Ball. Both hit Flying-types and frail Ghosts; Stone Edge does better against Moltres, while Gyro Ball does better against Mismagius. A Sassy or Relaxed nature with 0 Speed IVs should be used with Gyro Ball in order to increase its Base Power. The fourth slot provides additional support. Roar works well after you've eliminated the opponent's Taunt user, as it scouts the opponent's team and racks up Stealth Rock damage. Toxic can wear down Steelix's usual counters gradually, making it harder for them to stall, but Explosion can leave a lasting dent on them or even OHKO them outright. Unfortunately, Steelix will then no longer be able to supply its valuable resistances to the team.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With Fire- and Water-types rising in dominance, Steelix's role as a Normal-type resister is constantly put into question. This set runs type-resist Berries that help mitigate its inherent weaknesses by taking advantage of the two assets that Registeel doesn't have: a good Attack stat, and STAB Earthquake.
The purpose of this set is to lure in some of Steelix's usual counters, bulky Waters such as Milotic and Slowbro or Fire-types like Houndoom, and then use Explosion or Earthquake to clear the path for a sweeper, such as Dragon Dance Feraligatr or Swords Dance Venusaur, who are normally troubled by them. Stealth Rock should be used early-game when your opponent is still playing conservatively with weak attacks such as Fake Out and U-turn. The last slot is up to preference; Stone Edge hits Flying-types the hardest and allows Steelix to check Moltres (if Steelix still has or even has an Occa Berry, of course) and Altaria, but Iron Head is more reliable and does more damage to Ghost- and Grass-types. Roar can scout for counters so you can better assess what Pokemon your team needs to eliminate.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This is a rather unique Steelix set that utilizes Torment in conjunction with Substitute to halt the enemy's attacks. By doing this, Steelix can stall the foe with Toxic or attack freely with Earthquake and Gyro Ball.
Steelix should first use Substitute to scout the switch-in; beware of overusing Substitute, however, since Steelix's HP stat is fairly low. If the switch-in is a Pokemon who carries only one super effective attack or you know is Choiced, use Torment, which allows Steelix to stop foes from using the same move twice in a row. This is especially useful if the foe has only one super effective attack or is Choiced because it is forced to use an ineffective move or Struggle. Afterward, if Steelix's Substitute has been broken, set up another one while the foe either stays in and uses an ineffective attack or switches out. Depending on the switch-in, use Toxic if the foe can take Steelix's attacks relatively well, or Earthquake or Gyro Ball if it will devastate the opposing Pokemon.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set is much harder to use than the other sets, as the Pokemon who can interrupt its sweep attempts are numerous. However, the benefits cannot be ignored in comparison to the other sets. By using Curse, you have the advantage of powering up all of Steelix's moves, while strengthening its already massive Defense, and after a couple of Curses, Steelix can surpass the damage capacity of the other sets easily. Naturally, you'll want to start Steelix's sweep later in the match, when all Fire-, Water-, and Grass-types on the opposing team have been taken care of.
Gyro Ball is the main attack this time, as the synergy between it and Curse comes naturally. As Steelix's Speed lowers, the number of targets Gyro Ball can hit at peak damage increases. With just two Curses, Steelix's Speed becomes 29, which allows Steelix to nail foes with a Speed stat of 174 or higher with full-powered Gyro Balls. Earthquake is still Steelix's most reliable STAB move though, and gets decent coverage with Gyro Ball. Either of these attacks can be replaced with Stone Edge if you need Steelix to take on Moltres, but that's a job that would be done better by another Pokemon on your team.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Thunder Fang and Ice Fang have a chance of causing status effects and give Steelix greater coverage, but their utility is otherwise limited compared to Stone Edge (and even Crunch). Iron Tail is stronger than Iron Head and can lower the opposing Pokemon's Defense, but is far less accurate. Steelix gets Taunted often, so utilizing a RestTalk strategy without a boosting move is not a good idea. Steelix’s horrid Speed also make Rock Polish and Screech rather ineffective.
Giving Steelix an Iron Ball halves its already sluggish Speed, powering its Gyro Ball to the same level as 2 Curses. Shed Shell allows Steelix to escape trappers such as Magneton and Dugtrio, but is useless against anything else, and Steelix can usually bypass them with Roar anyway. Finally, Steelix can make use of a Choice Band to nail common switch-ins for a surprise heavy hit. However, using a Choice Band leaves Steelix even more exposed to Fire- and Water-types if it's locked into the wrong move. Finally, if you want Steelix to pose more of a threat offensively, transfer the HP EVs to Attack EVs, but keep a +Special Defense nature as without it, Steelix is helpless against any special attack it doesn't resist.
Checks and Counters
The way to go when handling Steelix is to come in on Stealth Rock and fire off powerful Fire-, Water-, and Fighting-type attacks. Steelix's Explosion and a proper type-resist Berry can reduce the number of effective counters, but even then some Pokémon are just too powerful to be stopped due to Steelix's low Special Defense stat. Pokemon who can blow right past any Steelix include Choice Specs Ninetales, Life Orb Blaziken, and Houndoom after a Nasty Plot boost. The offensive sets have to predict perfectly to catch these Pokémon on the switch, or Steelix will be forced out for certain. Milotic and Slowbro generally take pitiful damage from Steelix and can wear it down with STAB Surf. Defensive Tangrowth and Leafeon don't fear anything that Steelix throws at them, and can KO back with STAB Grass-type attacks. Moltres has been mentioned multiple times, and for good reason: it threatens any Steelix without Stone Edge with its strong Fire STAB attacks.
Spiritomb is immune to Explosion and takes little damage from anything Steelix can dish out; it can also cripple Steelix with Will-O-Wisp or set up in its face with Calm Mind if Steelix doesn't carry Roar. Claydol, Donphan, and Blastoise take hardly any damage from Steelix, and can remove its Stealth Rock from the field with Rapid Spin. Hitmontop reduces Steelix's Attack with Intimidate and can fire powerful super effective STAB Close Combats straight at it. Hariyama can Force Palm or just Whirlwind Steelix out if it tries to Curse up. Steelix is too slow to retaliate more than once against these threats, so a few special attacks will eventually bring it down. Plan ahead for Explosion, and you'll be fine.