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In the increasingly offensive NU metagame, outspeeding the opponent has become the difference between winning and losing. With most of the offensive threats being quite frail, revenge killing has become more important. With this in mind, priority fills the gap where a Choice Scarf user cannot. There's all sorts of priority in competitive battling: Aqua Jet, Bullet Punch, Extremespeed, Fake Out, Ice Shard, Mach Punch, Quick Attack, Shadow Sneak, Sucker Punch, and Vacuum Wave. This article will cover the most common types of priority in NU, their main users, and what makes them most effective.
Aqua Jet has a few common users in the NU metagame, both of which can boost their priority to become even stronger. The only downfall of Aqua Jet is that Jynx is common in the metagame and sometimes trying to revenge kill a Pokémon could cause Jynx to gain HP thanks to its Dry Skin ability. This is why Aqua Jet should be used for the most part only after Jynx is gone; otherwise, the opponent can use it to its advantage. There are other Pokémon that absorb Water-type attacks in the tier, such as Seismitoad and Mantine, but Jynx is a much more prominent threat in the metagame. With that said, Aqua Jet can become extremely useful for its users. Samurott has access to Aqua Jet and Swords Dance, a scary combination when given the chance to set up. Due to Samurott being slower than the majority of faster threats with a base 70 Speed, Aqua Jet can allow it to get notable KOs on frail offensive foes, and then it can set up on weaker opponents. Carracosta also makes great use of Aqua Jet and can combine it with Shell Smash to get the extra boost to its priority. With its base 109 Attack, after one boost it can almost always OHKO Primeape (which is usually Choice Scarfed), and this can become a powerful way for it to take out faster threats, even after the boost in Speed that Shell Smash gives it. Aqua Jet may just come in handy, so give consideration to it when planning out whether you use special or physical Samurott, and make sure your Carracosta never leaves home without its trusty Aqua Jet.
Bullet Punch only has one main user in the current NU metagame, and that's Metang. While it might seem strange that a mostly defensive Pokémon needs priority, there is a very specific reason why Bullet Punch becomes so useful for it. Jynx is currently a huge threat in the NU metagame, and it can find many Pokémon to use Lovely Kiss on, set up Nasty Plot, and then sweep. This is where Metang comes in. With the right EVs and nature, Metang's Bullet Punch can OHKO Jynx after Stealth Rock. It also allows Metang to avoid being hit by Focus Blast, getting Tricked into using something like a Choice Scarf, and being put to sleep with Lovely Kiss. Bullet Punch may not have much other use, but if you do use it, at least Jynx won't be number #1 on your threat list!
Though there may not be many users of ExtremeSpeed in NU, the one who is known for using it is quite renowned. Many avid players of NU can recall their first experience against Linoone on the ladder. The general reaction is confusion and shock. Being able to boost up to 1,048 Attack in one turn is incredible. ExtremeSpeed is an 80 Base Power Normal-type move with +2 priority. This allows its users to strike before all common priority attacking moves, including Sucker Punch! Having a STAB attack that hits before almost every other attacking move in the game is fantastic. Although Linoone finds less opportunities to set up in the current NU metagame due the sheer power of so many of the current threats, with the right support, it becomes easy for Linoone to handle opposing teams with ease. The little raccoon-turned-ferret you picked up in RSE has finally made a name for himself—underestimate him at your own expense.
Fake Out can be really useful in NU. It can stop a Pokémon from attacking, accumulate poison or burn damage, and also break Focus Sashes reliably. Kangaskhan in particular uses it really well as it can use its STAB Fake Out to cause a flinch and accumulate damage and then use Sucker Punch to KO in some cases. Kangaskhan also works well with teams that are trying to sweep after a few boosts, and once something faints, it can switch in, use Fake Out, and take out the threat. It also works against Choice Scarf Pokémon that have already taken damage. Fake Out also has its uses on other lesser-used Pokémon, such as Persian; its Technician ability further boosts Fake Out's power, which guarantees the opponent takes heavy damage and can't attack back. Due to its high Speed, it can also outspeed a lot of the metagame and then use its other STAB, Return, to inflict heavier damage on its opponents. Other Pokémon such as Purugly can make use of Fake Out and Last Resort together. It uses Fake Out on the first turn, and as Fake Out can't be used again, it then can use the strong, STAB Last Resort as much as it wants. However, this is a gimmick at best, and for the most part Fake Out is seen mainly on Kangaskhan. If you want a useful type of priority, don't fake it, just use Fake Out.
Although it is another move that has poor distribution among the viable Pokémon in NU, Ice Shard is a huge selling point for Piloswine. Ice Shard is a 40 Base Power Ice-type move with +1 priority. Piloswine is a very common Stealth Rock lead, and it's not hard to see why. With Eviolite at its disposal, it can invest fully in its HP and Attack and still take many hits with ease. Ice Shard is a fantastic move for Piloswine. After it has set up Stealth Rock, it can often be saved for later in the match to handle faster and frailer Pokémon such as Swellow and Sawsbuck as well as fast boosting sweepers like Swoobat and Serperior. In general, slower Pokémon appreciate strong priority backed up by a nice STAB boost, and Piloswine is no exception.
Mach Punch is a great move in every tier, and NU is no exception. Due to the excellent coverage that Mach Punch provides, most any Pokémon that receives the move is happy to use it. Unfortunately, Gurdurr is one of only a few Pokémon in NU which can benefit from the access to this move. Despite this, Gurdurr benefits so much from the move that it would be disgraceful not to include it in this article! Mach Punch is a 40 Base Power Fighting-type move with +1 priority. Gurdurr's relationship with Mach Punch is not unlike that of Piloswine with Ice Shard; both are slow, bulky Pokémon which have heavy investment in Attack. The main difference here is that Gurdurr often takes a more offensive approach with Bulk Up. Thanks to its great boosting move, recovery through Drain Punch, and the ability to beat faster, frailer threats with priority, Gurdurr can become a tremendous threat within a few short turns. It can also forgo Bulk Up and serve as a bulky pivot that can take a few hits and dish out a few of its own. Both of Gurdurr's more used abilities also appreciate Mach Punch. The first, Iron Fist, boosts the power of Mach Punch by 20% while the other, Guts, can allow Gurdurr to serve as a status absorber and gives it a boost to its already high Attack. From that point, Gurdurr can take out Pokémon even more easily than before with its priority attack. Regardless of the Gurdurr set you are considering, always remember to include Mach Punch.
Now we reach a priority move with more than one viable candidate in NU! Quick Attack is another 40 Base Power move with +1 priority. The main difference is its Normal typing, which may put off some of you from using it. I would reconsider; although Normal-type may be the worst type for super effective coverage, the relative lack of Steel- and Ghost-types in NU along with the low Speed of most Rock-type Pokémon makes Quick Attack a wonderful option.
The first thing you might notice when seeing Swellow paired with priority, especially one with such a low Base Power, is its high Speed stat. Fret not, friends. Swellow is a fantastic offensive Pokémon, but unfortunately, its movepool leaves much to be desired. Swellow can—and often should—run Quick Attack without fear of losing any coverage. Quick Attack also sees plenty of use on Swellow. Despite its fantastic Speed, Pokémon wielding a Choice Scarf can still outspeed it. With Quick Attack, Swellow can pick off these usually frail Pokémon. Quick Attack also beats out other priority moves since Swellow is the fastest Pokémon that is known for running a priority attacking move. This is fantastic for Swellow as it can strike with Quick Attack before it can be hit by opposing Pokémon using Sucker Punch. All in all, Quick Attack shows its uses mostly in niche situations, but since Swellow has nothing better to run in its fourth moveslot, it is still a great option.
Another Pokémon that appreciates the presence of Quick Attack in its movepool is Zangoose. Zangoose used to be one of the biggest threats in NU. It was even suspected due to its enormous power in the tier. However, the recent drops to NU were not kind to Zangoose. Its Speed is lackluster in comparison to the new base 95 Speed trend in the tier. But all is not bad for our angry mongoose! Thanks to Quick Attack, it can still outpace some of our newer, faster friends. Access to Quick Attack allows Zangoose to serve both as a wallbreaker and a revenge killer. Thanks to its great power between Toxic Boost and an already high Attack stat, Quick Attack hits for a great amount of damage in spite of its low Base Power. The thing that separates Zangoose from Swellow is having another option over Quick Attack. Swords Dance can be used in its place, and if Zangoose finds a chance to set up, your only hope of defeating it is through revenge killing it or playing around it while its health dwindles from the Toxic damage. Overall, Quick Attack still tends to be the superior option. The ability to take out faster threats is far more important for most teams than setting up a Swords Dance to beat the few viable walls and tanks in the tier.
Sucker Punch is one of the most used forms of priority in NU. Sucker Punch is very different from other forms of priority as it works only if the opponent is attacking you. It also has 80 BP, while every other form of priority has 40 BP. The downside is that Sucker Punch is useless against a defensive Pokémon, or a Pokémon with a faster priority attack. Defensive Pokémon can just use Substitute, Toxic, Wish, whatever they please, and not have to take any damage from Sucker Punch. This then puts the opponent in a better position, so Sucker Punch has to be used cautiously. On the other hand, certain Pokémon such as Rotom-S are almost always Choice-locked, and a well-timed Sucker Punch can help get the extra KO. Sucker Punch has a lot of different users in the metagame. The most well-known one is probably Skuntank. This is because Skuntank has Taunt to stop a Pokémon from trying to use another move and forces them into attacking. It also has Pursuit to prevent its opponent from escaping without any damage. Together, these two moves work well with Sucker Punch, as they can force a Pokémon into attacking out of fear of getting Pursuited or switching due to not wanting to take a Sucker Punch.
Sucker Punch has other common users such as Kangashkan, which can make use of Sucker Punch to grab a few extra KOs rather than rely on its slower Speed. Fake Out works well alongside Sucker Punch on Kangaskhan, as it can often bring opposing Pokémon into a range where they can be KOed by Sucker Punch. Golem can also make use of Sucker Punch. Due to having Sturdy, it can use Sucker Punch to its advantage by getting an extra KO, or even OHKO in some cases. It can also wear down the opponent so that another Pokémon can come in to revenge kill the opponent easier. Cacturne uses Sucker Punch with Substitute for the most part, as it can Substitute and force the opponent into attacking. If the opponents try to stall Sucker Punch, it can also opt to attack with its other STAB, Seed Bomb, or start using Swords Dance until they do attack, depending on what Pokémon it faces. Arbok is uncommon, but it can also make use of Sucker Punch when facing Psychic Pokémon after one Coil boost to help it keep its boost rather than switch out. If you're a sucker for priority, give consideration to Sucker Punch next time!
The new drops to NU were not kind to slower Pokémon. Priority is a way to cure this. With so many different forms of priority available in the tier, it isn't a bad idea to add one of these Pokémon to your next team. From ferrets to skunks, there is always something out there that can move faster than your foe! NU is a tier filled with priority, so why not put priority into playing NU?
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