Can be abrasive at times (no joke)
When it comes to revenge killing, Alakazam is a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to its ability, Magic Guard (which makes it immune to all forms of residual damage), blazing Speed, and a high Special Attack stat, it's no wonder Alakazam is so successful. It even got an upgrade this generation in the form of a Mega Evolution, whose significantly higher Special Attack and Speed allows it to get the jump on Pokemon that were previously faster than it. Its ability, Trace, lets it copy other very useful abilities such as Sheer Force, Protean, and Swift Swim to become a very unpredictable and lethal threat.
However, Alakazam is definitely not without its flaws. Common users of priority such as Talonflame, Aegislash, and Azumarill run rampant through the tier, which greatly hinders Alakazam's ability to revenge kill. On top of this, its Psychic typing and poor bulk leaves it vulnerable to common Dark-, Bug-, and Ghost-type attacks. The new generation also introduced faster Pokemon such as Greninja and Mega Manectric into the metagame, meaning that Alakazam's Speed tier is no longer as significant as it used to be before it Mega evolves. Deoxys-S also gives it a lot of competition as a fast Psychic-type because of its better movepool and unmatched Speed stat. Even with its share of flaws, Alakazam continues to be successful in today's metagame, and the mustached menace is always something to consider when building a team.
Mega Special Attacker
name: Mega Special Attacker
move 1: Psychic / Psyshock
move 2: Focus Blast
move 3: Taunt
move 4: Shadow Ball / Hidden Power Fire
ability: Magic Guard
evs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
The choice between Psychic and Psyshock mainly comes down to personal preference. Psychic hits significantly harder in general, as well as hitting Landorus-T, Gliscor, Rotom-W, and Quagsire much harder than Psyshock, but Psyshock is still a nice tool because it allows Mega Alakazam to deal very solid damage to Chansey and OHKO Assault Vest Conkeldurr. Focus Blast is specifically for Dark- and Steel-types such as Tyranitar, Heatran, Ferrothorn, and Greninja. Skarmory and Forretress are also easily 2HKOed by the move due to their low Special Defense stat. Taunt is incredibly useful for shutting down defensive teams, opening the door for a sweeper to come in and set up on them or allowing Mega Alakazam to tear them apart itself. Shadow Ball is mainly for coverage against Aegislash, while also hitting opposing Psychic-types very hard. It can also prevent Thundurus from crippling Mega Alakazam with Thunder Wave once it Traces Prankster. Shadow Ball is mainly for coverage against Aegislash, while also hitting opposing Psychic-types very hard. However, if you pair Mega Alakazam with a Pursuit trapper, Hidden Power Fire is useful for OHKOing bulky Mega Scizor, otherwise it has no issue setting up on Mega Alakazam.
Dazzling Gleam is also a great option in the last slot because it allows Mega Alakazam to always OHKO Swift Swim Kingdra after Stealth Rock, a noteworthy threat that Mega Alazakam is able to revenge kill thanks to its new ability, Trace. It also hits other Dragon-types such as Garchomp and Dragonite harder than anything else, as well as 2HKOing physically defensive Mandibuzz. Hidden Power Ice always secures the OHKO on Landorus-T, Gliscor, and Landorus, but Psychic deals enough damage to them anyway. Encore can help Mega Alakazam against Sucker Punch users such as Bisharp and Mega Mawile if predicated correctly, and it can also help against other Pokemon such as set up sweepers and Chansey.
Maxing out both Speed and Special Attack is essential in order to make Mega Alakazam as threatening and fast as possible. Alakazite allows Alakazam to Mega Evolve and achieve a massive boost in Speed and Special Attack, and a slight increase in physical bulk. Unlike with normal Alakazam, a Modest nature is preferred because Mega Alakazam is already so fast that there aren't too many noteworthy things that outspeed it with Timid, so you're better off giving it as much power as possible. It should be noted that even with a Modest nature, Mega Alakazam can still outspeed Adamant Mega Gyarados and Jolly Mega Tyranitar at +1.
Unlike regular Alakazam, Mega Alakazam can outspeed almost the entirety of the unboosted metagame even with a Modest nature, allowing it to hit just as hard as standard Life Orb Alakazam and with higher Speed to boot. It is meant to function as a potent wallbreaker and revenge killer, making it a perfect fit for offensive teams in need of a powerful special attacker. Although it loses out on the useful residual damage immunity that Magic Guard brings, Trace gives Mega Alakazam an interesting niche because it allows it to use the opponent's abilities against themselves. For example, it can copy Kabutop's Swift Swim and revenge kill it, copy Heatran's Flash Fire ability to make it immune to Fire-type attacks, and copy Greninja's Protean ability so it can obtain STAB on all of its coverage moves. Keep in mind that even with these interesting attributes, Mega Alakazam is more prone to being revenge killed than normal Alakazam because of its lack of a Focus Sash and Magic Guard, so getting rid of priority users is of great importance.
Fighting-types such as Keldeo, Breloom, and Lucario, as well as other powerful physical attackers, are very important partners because they can break through Chansey, which can easily sponge any of Mega Alakazam's attacks. Pursuit Bisharp is basically a mandatory partner to this set, otherwise Mega Alakazam will have a lot of issues with Aegislash and sometimes Latias. Heatran can deal with Talonflame, Aegislash, Bisharp, Mega Mawile, and Scizor, which all threaten Mega Alakazam with their priority moves. Much like the previous set, entry hazard support is incredibly important for securing important OHKOs and 2HKOs, so pairing Mega Alakazam with common entry hazards users such as Ferrothorn, Skarmory, or Landorus-T is a must. Landorus-T and Rotom-W can also check a lot of physical attackers that threaten Mega Alakazam, such as Scizor and Talonflame.
name: Revenge Killer
move 1: Psyshock
move 2: Focus Blast
move 3: Shadow Ball
move 4: Hidden Power Ice / Thunder Wave
ability: Magic Guard
item: Focus Sash
evs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Psyshock is very important for dealing solid damage to Pokemon with higher Special Defense, such as Chansey and Assault Vest Conkeldurr, while annihilating Poison- and Fighting-types. Focus Blast provides this set with much-needed—albeit unreliable—coverage against Tyranitar, Heatran, and Ferrothorn, which would wall this set otherwise. Shadow Ball is specifically for Aegislash, and also hits opposing Psychic-types such as Latias and Slowbro. Hidden Power Ice is the preferred choice overall in the lost slot because it hits a plethora of threats, such as Gliscor, Landorus, Garchomp, and Dragonite. Thunder Wave on the other hand allows Alakazam to cripple set up sweepers such as Mega Gyarados, Mega Charizard X, and Dragonite at any point in the battle as long as its Focus Sash is still intact.
There are a few other move options that Alakazam can run on this set. Psychic is an option over Psyshock to hit Hippowdon and physically defensive Rotom-W harder, but it fails to do anything to Blissey, Chansey, Sylveon, and Goodra. Dazzling Gleam is a much more reliable option to hit Dark-types, but it's incredibly weak compared to Focus Blast, and it misses out on the ability to OHKO Tyranitar, among many other things. Hidden Power Fire hits Scizor, Ferrothorn, and Skarmory harder than anything else.
With a Focus Sash, Alakazam becomes an amazing revenge killer thanks to its immunity to all forms of residual damage, which ensures that Alakazam has to be hit a minimum of two times before going down.
The main purpose of this set is to take advantage of Alakazam's attributes in order for it to become a formidable revenge killer. Because of this, it fits best on offensive teams, as it is able to outspeed and revenge kill a large variety of Pokemon that give these teams trouble. Due to Alakazam's mediocre defenses, it is very important to only send it in on something it can OHKO, or else Alakazam becomes very vulnerable to being OHKOed in return or having its Focus Sash broken. However, as long as Focus Sash is intact, Alakazam has the ability to revenge kill Choice Scarf users such as Landorus-T, Terrakion, and Garchomp, giving it a huge advantage over other revenge killers.
Alakazam appreciates being paired with Pokemon that can beat its common checks and counters. Fighting-types such as Lucario, Keldeo, and Terrakion can easily blast through Chansey, Tyranitar, and other special walls that are able to sponge Alakazam's attacks. Breloom is an incredible offensive partner because it can check a wide range of Pokemon that give Alakazam trouble, such as Bisharp, Azumarill, Weavile, and Greninja. Aegislash can be very problematic for Alakazam, so Diggersby, Garchomp, and Landorus-T are good partners because they are able to easily tank a Shadow Sneak and destroy Aegislash with Earthquake. Entry hazard support from the likes of Skarmory and Ferrothorn can really help weaken down opposing threats so they can be revenge killed more efficiently.
There are a few interesting move options that Alakazam can pull off. A Choice Specs set seems interesting on paper, but due to its poor bulk and somewhat weak coverage options, Alakazam can't afford to be locked into a move. Energy Ball can OHKO Gastrodon and deal heavy damage to Rotom-W. Calm Mind can turn Alakazam into a terrifying late-game sweeper if given the chance to set up, but there lies the problem; its terrible bulk and susceptibility to being revenge killed makes it unsuccessful at sweeping. Substitute is also worth consideration for blocking status and avoiding revenge kills, especially when battling against Sucker Punch users.
Checks & Counters
**Specially Defensive Walls**: Chansey has no problem walling both of Alakazam's sets thanks to its high Special Defense, but Taunt can be a bit of a nuisance to it. It can threaten to do solid damage to it with Seismic Toss though. Physically defensive Hippowdon can avoid the 2HKO from Mega Alakazam's Psychic and hit back hard with an Earthquake.
**Dark-types**: Sableye is a great switch-in to both of Alakazam's sets, as it is immune to its Psychic-type STAB and takes minimal damage from Shadow Ball, and thus fears only the rare Dazzling Gleam. Although they cannot outspeed Alakazam once it Mega Evolves, Greninja can easily check it before it does so. Bisharp's Sucker Punch also completely destroys Alakazam.
**Priority Attacks**: Priority moves are by far the most efficient way to check Alakazam because of its pitiful physical bulk. Talonflame and Aegislash can OHKO both forms of Alakazam with their priority moves, the latter only needing a bit of residual damage to OHKO its Mega Evolution. Mega Scizor only fears Hidden Power Fire and can deal a huge amount of damage with Bullet Punch. Mega Pinsir can pick off weakened Mega Alakazam and regular Alakazam with Quick Attack once its Focus Sash is broken.