Where's the Speedometer? A Beginner's Guide to Speed Control in VGC

By Mr.GX. Art by Ssensenh.
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Thundurus by Ssensenh

Hello there, Smogon! This here is MrGX, bringing to you a beginner's guide to speed control!


Are you tired of being outsped by your foes and seeing your Pokémon get knocked out? Are you always forced to use fast, frail glass cannons in battle? Well, worry no more! This guide will teach you all there is to know about speed control: what it is, how to use different methods of speed control, their strengths and weakness, and how to counter it. Without further ado, let's get on with it.

What is Speed Control?

Being able to move first and KO your opponent's Pokémon before they can even touch you is something valued by Pokémon players of all levels. Being able to manipulate which Pokémon moves first comes down to more than just base stats and EVs—it comes down to speed control, a term used to describe the many methods of manipulating the order in which Pokémon attack, generally to make your own move first and pick up those vital knockouts that win battles. This article will explore all of these methods, how they work, and their strengths and weaknesses.

While speed control has been available and used in competitive battles from the very start (see Thunder Wave), features introduced in Generation III (abilities), IV (Trick Room, Tailwind), and V (Quash, Pledge Swamp, hidden abilities) in particular have led to a proliferation of speed control methods to the point where modern teams tend to have at least one method of speed control available to them due to their wide availability and utility.

Trick Room started to get popular with the introduction of Jellicent, Musharna, and Chandelure in VGC 2011. With the additional availability of Cresselia in VGC 2012, a lot of teams had Trick Room in their arsenal. Trick Room was the most prominent form of speed control back in VGC 2012, along with Drizzle Politoed and Thundurus. Thundurus was widely used for its Prankster Thunder Wave as a primary mode for speed control on many teams. VGC 2013 was based on heavy bulk, and speed control was employed mostly in the form of Thundurus. VGC 2014 saw the rise of speed control due to the introduction of Mega Charizard Y and its ability Drought along with Chlorophyll Venusaur. With new Pokémon like Aromatisse and Trevenant, Trick Room also began to see a rise in usage in order to exploit the power of Mega Mawile and Mega Abomasnow. Due to the lack of Thundurus in VGC 2014, speed control mostly involved weather wars and Trick Room. VGC 2015, however, saw the biggest rise in speed control. With more Mega Evolutions, low-Speed Pokémon found it difficult to keep up with the elevated Speed tiers.

Why Do You Need Speed Control?

Sylveon Conkeldurr Amoonguss

Speed control, while not mandatory, is seen as an important part of the game plan for most teams because of its ability to control good matchups while creating the opportunity to turn around potentially bad ones. To reiterate the point made in the first paragraph, speed control allows your Pokémon to move first and deliver big damage and knockouts without taking damage first. Speed control can also put you in a position to gain advantage from RNG dice rolls that you would not have had available to you otherwise (full paralysis and Rock Slide flinches being the main culprits here).

Speed control is not essential on all teams, especially on heavy bulk teams. Some teams, however, gain huge advantages, allowing their heavy hitters to hit fast. Sylveon is a Pokémon with tremendous power but low Speed; Pokémon like Bisharp and Kangaskhan can easily beat Sylveon due to this shortcoming. With the help of some form of speed control, this problem is easily solved. Thunder Wave a Kangaskhan and it's slow enough for Sylveon to outspeed it. Use Tailwind and Sylveon's Speed is doubled, making it higher than Kangaskhan's. Pokémon with extremely low Speed like Rhyperior or Mega Abomasnow can become the fastest Pokémon on the field by using Trick Room, thus enabling them to use their devastating power to crush the opposition.

Different Types of Speed Control in VGC

In this section, we will be talking about different ways to manipulate the Speed of Pokémon.

Speed control can be achieved mainly by two methods: lowering the Speed of an opponent's Pokémon, or increasing your own team's Speed (either by literally increasing your own Pokémon's Speed, or by flipping turn orders with Trick Room). Here, we will talk about how to lower a foe's Speed, and different ways to do it.

Paralysis (Nuzzle / Thunder Wave / Glare)

Thundurus Zapdos Cresselia

Paralysis is a status condition commonly used to reduce the Speed of an opposing Pokémon. Mainly inflicted by Electric attacks, it can also be inflicted by non-Electric moves like Glare and Body Slam, or by abilities like Effect Spore or Static. Thunder Wave is the most common method used to inflict paralysis, though Nuzzle was used by Sejun Park's Pachirisu at the VGC 2014 World Championships.

Because of its 25% chance to fully paralyze an opposing Pokémon on any given turn, paralysis is often used along with Rock Slide and Swagger to try to disable a Pokémon for an entire turn. Rock Slide and paralysis, often called paraflinch, is used because of its huge chance to prevent a Pokémon from attacking. Parafusion, a combination of paralysis and confusion, can be effective because of its ability to make a Pokémon either fully paralyzed or hit itself for damage.

Paralysis is one of the best ways to control the Speed of a Pokémon. It lowers the current Speed by 50% and has a 25% chance for a full paralysis, disabling a Pokémon for that turn. Some offensive moves like Thunderbolt have a 10% chance to paralyze a Pokémon, while Nuzzle has a 100% chance to paralyze the Pokémon it hits. Thunder Wave is the most-used method to inflict paralysis on an opposing Pokémon, and one of the most-used Pokémon to do this is the ever-loved Thundurus. With its high Speed and Prankster ability, it is almost always guaranteed to move first and inflict paralysis on an opposing Pokémon. There is one catch, however. Ground-type Pokémon are immune to Electric-type moves, thus rendering Thundurus's speed control method obsolete. Landorus-T, a commonly used Pokémon for its Speed and high Attack, can render this strategy useless if you are not careful. Gastrodon and Swampert are immune to Thundurus's shenanigans due to their partial Ground typing.

One advantage paralysis has over other forms of speed control is that paralysis is permanent. Unlike Tailwind or Trick Room, paralysis is a status condition and it lasts forever, unless the opposing Pokémon has a Lum Berry or some form of status-relieving move or ability. As a status move, it can be used with priority by Pokémon with the Prankster ability like Thundurus. Paralysis is no doubt the best form of speed control, as it reduces the Speed of an opposing Pokémon by 50% and stays on the target until it is healed.

Cresselia is a Pokémon used mainly for support and setting up Trick Room. Thanks to its huge support movepool, Cresselia is capable of running Thunder Wave and Icy Wind as well. With Cresselia's access to Helping Hand and three forms of speed control, opponents will have hard time deciding what type of Cresselia you are using. Access to Ice Beam and Icy Wind means Cresselia can handle itself against Landorus-T as well. The only possible disadvantage that comes with running Cresselia is its mid-range Speed; most Pokémon that run Taunt will outspeed Cresselia. One should always carry a counter for Thundurus before adding a Cresselia to their team.

Zapdos is a bulkier Electric / Flying type compared to Thundurus. With high Special Attack and a good offensive movepool, Zapdos can be used as a bulky support Pokémon or as a purely offensive Pokémon. Having access to Tailwind and Thunder Wave, Zapdos has one other advantage Cresselia will never have—Speed. With its sets ranging from Choice Specs offensive variants to a Sitrus Berry bulky supporter, your opponent will have to think twice before Taunting a Zapdos. While Tailwind is popular among bulky Zapdos, Thunder Wave has its own advantages as stated previously. The only two possible solutions to work around paralysis are redirection and setting up Trick Room.

The above Pokémon are commonly used for inflicting paralysis on opposing Pokémon. While paralysis has its own disadvantages against Ground-types and Trick Room teams, it has the potential to win matches thanks to its permanently lasting effects. While paralysis may be the best form of speed control, it makes you unable to inflict additional status conditions on an opposing Pokémon. That is when one needs to make a choice between paralysis and other forms of speed control.

Icy Wind

Suicune Milotic Gengar Cresselia

While not as common as Thunder Wave Thundurus, Icy Wind is used by bulky Water-types as another form of speed control on many teams. It has the additional benefits of hitting frail Pokémon like Landorus-T and Breloom and targeting both Pokémon your opponent controls. Some Pokémon that employ this method are Suicune, Milotic, Jellicent, and Cresselia. While this move cannot be blocked by Taunt like Thunder Wave can, it is dangerous to use against Pokémon with the abilities Defiant and Competitive, as it will boost their power to high levels. One Pokémon to watch out for while using this move is Bisharp. A clever switch in can give Bisharp a big boost of +2 Attack thanks to Defiant.

Since Icy Wind does not inflict status, you can also employ crippling moves like Will-O-Wisp to inflict burn on an opposing Pokémon without any conflicts. While no Pokémon is immune to Icy Wind, one still has to watch out for Pokémon like Bisharp and Milotic.

Almost all Milotic use this move due to Milotic's good bulk and average offense. Icy Wind slows down the opposing Pokémon, enabling Milotic to use Scald to inflict a burn and Recover to heal back HP. What makes Milotic special among other Icy Wind users is its ability Competitive, which gives it a +2 boost in Special Attack if any of its stats are reduced, turning this beautiful creature into a deadly monster.

Suicune, on the other hand, has access to a large number of support moves like Snarl, Tailwind, and Icy Wind. Icy Wind is mostly used by players who are worried about Taunt from opposing Thundurus. Due to Suicune's ability to stay on the battlefield for a long time, it is an ideal move to use on bulky Suicune for chip damage as well as for speed control.

Non-Water-type Pokémon like Cresselia and Gengar also have access to this awesome support move. Cresselia, being a bulky supporter, has access to a large number of support moves, forcing the opponent into Taunting it, and that's where Icy Wind becomes useful. Gengar, on the other hand, is a Pokémon with lots of options, ranging from Perish Trapping to Encore + Disable strategies. Nowadays, Gengar is also used for crippling physical attackers by using Will-O-Wisp or slowing down opposing Pokémon with Icy Wind. Icy Wind allows Gengar to deal with fast Pokémon so the slower Pokémon on the team can make their move.



Electro Web, like Icy Wind, is a damaging move that reduces the Speed of both Pokémon your opponent controls. The only difference is that Electroweb is an Electric-type attack while Icy Wind is an Ice-type attack. While not as common as Icy Wind due to it being useless against the popular Ground-types like Landorus-T, it can be used by bulky Pokémon like Lajo's Rotom-W. This is especially helpful in catching the foe off guard and reducing their Speed, enabling you to take control of the battle.

This move is something that cannot be used by every Pokémon, and it is inferior to Thunder Wave. The only Pokémon worth mentioning here are the Rotom formes, as they have a variety of uses, and Electroweb can definitely make your opponent go nuts.

Pledge (Water Pledge + Grass Pledge)

Mega Charizard Y Mega Venusaur Greninja

Pledge moves, while uncommon, can be used to reduce the Speed of the opposing Pokémon. It works as a backward Tailwind, reducing the foes' Speed for five turns. The Water Pledge and Grass Pledge combination creates a "swamp" that greatly reduces the Speed of all the Pokémon on the opponent's side of the field until the swamp wears off. While it cannot be stopped by Taunt, it takes up a move slot on two of your Pokémon, and you are forced to use two starter Pokémon.

Two of the most used Pokémon to create the "swamp" are Greninja and Venusaur, often used in triple starter teams along with Mega Charizard Y. It is important to note for Flying and Levitating Pokémon that, for all intents and purposes, the swamp is in the sky (nothing dodges its effects).


Murkrow Sableye

Quash, while not a common move, is a status move that makes the target move last in its priority bracket. A niche move, it is something that cannot be spammed like Thunder Wave.

The drawbacks of this move are that it only lasts one turn, so the move is a temporary solution, and high offensive pressure is recommended with its use. The move must of course go before its target to actually work, so Pokémon with the ability Prankster like Sableye can put this move to full use. Only a few Pokémon have access to this move, and when it is used, it can catch the opponent off guard. No matter if the opponent used Trick Room, no matter if they used Tailwind, if Quash hits, the Pokémon will move last in its priority bracket. Since only a few Pokémon learn Quash, if used correctly, it can hurt the opponent where it hurts the most.

The only two Pokémon that ever use Quash are Sableye and Murkrow. Murkrow not only has access to Quash, but also learns Feather Dance, a move that harshly lowers the Attack of the target. Pokémon like Thundurus and Ice-type Pokémon can easily beat Murkrow due to its low Speed, even though its Dark typing and access to Foul Play allow it to deal enormous damage to Ghost-type Pokémon like Gengar.

Sableye, while slow, has access to a huge support movepool, including Recover, the coveted Will-O-Wisp, and Quash. With its Dark / Ghost typing, only Fairy-type Pokémon can hit it for super effective damage. The Ghost typing gives Sableye an excellent matchup against Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Metagross. With Mental Herb, it doesn't have to worry about Thundurus, and Prankster Recover enables you to burn stall the opposing Pokémon. While Sableye may be an awesome Quash user, one has to watch out for Thundurus and Liepard, as they can shut down your Quash user quite easily (unless the Sableye holds a Mental Herb).

After You

Togetic Stoutland

While the move After You isn't technically a Speed-boosting move, it can mess up the turn order to help slow Pokémon move quicker. This technique was used in a Regional in VGC 15 in a sand team, using Sand Stream Stoutland's After You to use Focus Punch on Tyranitar right away. While the technique has its limits, it should be mentioned that this move can be a real surprise in a best-of-one setting.

Other users are Clefairy and Togetic in Trick Room teams to allow your Pokémon to move considerably faster. Unfortunately, no Pokémon with the Prankster ability has access to this move, which makes an additional form of speed control necessary to use this strategy effectively.


Special thanks to MindApe and Floristthebudew for helping me edit the article and giving me some neat ideas. Thank you Sam, HeliosanNA and MrScaryMuffin for pointing out the mistakes. Without you guys, this article wouldn't exist.

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