Azelf is a premier offensive threat in the current UU metagame due to its elite Speed, high Special Attack, and large movepool. U-turn and Knock Off make it a great offensive pivot that cripples checks like Mandibuzz and Chansey, while coverage moves like Flamethrower, Energy Ball, and Dazzling Gleam allow it to threaten staples like Celesteela, Slowking, and Hydreigon. Meanwhile, Nasty Plot Azelf is a dangerous wallbreaker that threatens specially defensive Pokemon like Chansey, Celesteela, and Assault Vest Tangrowth. It's fast enough to outspeed and KO many other speedy Pokemon like Keldeo and Nihilego, only being naturally outsped by Noivern, Crobat, and the niche Salazzle. Though Azelf is powerful, its frailty means that it has to pivot out or make outright KOs if it wants to last long-term. Common Choice Scarf users like Hydreigon and Diggersby can KO or use U-turn against Azelf. Azelf also takes considerable damage from priority attacks such as Lycanroc-D's Accelerock and Scizor's Bullet Punch. Azelf's great coverage is limited by its moveslots, as a pivot set will have to often choose between Knock Off for support, Energy Ball to threaten Hippowdon, Swampert, and Primarina, and Dazzling Gleam to better handle Dark-types like Hydreigon and Mandibuzz. Nasty Plot faces a similar conundrum, often choosing between Energy Ball and Dazzling Gleam. Thundurus-T gives Azelf stiff competition as both an offensive pivot and a Nasty Plot sweeper. While Azelf is faster and is better equipped to handle threats like Nihilego, Thundurus-T has a better defensive typing, higher Special Attack, and Electric-type STAB moves for threatening common defensive Pokemon that Azelf struggles to beat like Mandibuzz and Slowking.
move 1: Psychic
move 2: Flamethrower
move 3: U-turn
move 4: Knock Off / Energy Ball / Dazzling Gleam
item: Heavy-Duty Boots / Expert Belt
evs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Psychic is Azelf's strongest and usually preferred STAB move, dealing big damage to the likes of Thundurus-T and Amoonguss, but Psyshock is an option to OHKO Nihilego and deal more damage to Tentacruel and Calm Mind users like Primarina and Keldeo. Flamethrower hits a wide range of defensive Pokemon like Scizor, Skarmory, and Tangrowth, while Fire Blast is a stronger option to help finish off Celesteela and Tangrowth, but the difference in damage is often not worth the accuracy drop. U-turn is Azelf's key move on this set, as its high Speed allows it to pivot out of danger from Pokemon like Mandibuzz and bring in a teammate safely. Knock Off is the preferred final move to remove items from common switch-ins such as Chansey and Mandibuzz. Energy Ball is an alternative to better threaten Pokemon like Slowking, Hippowdon, and Mamoswine. Dazzling Gleam is an option for Dragon-types and bulky Dark-types like Hydreigon, Salamence, Mandibuzz, and Umbreon. Heavy-Duty Boots can be used to avoid Stealth Rock chip damage throughout the battle. Expert Belt should be used with Energy Ball or Dazzling Gleam to give Azelf a good chance of OHKOing Pokemon like Mamoswine with Energy Ball and Tangrowth with Flamethrower, as well as 2HKOing Slowking with Energy Ball and Mandibuzz with Dazzling Gleam. Naive is the preferred nature, as the loss in Special Defense barely affects Azelf and maintaining chip damage from U-turn and Knock Off can be beneficial. Timid is also an option if you drop Knock Off and are not concerned about U-turn chip damage. 4 Defense EVs ensure Azelf takes a Thousand Arrows from Zygarde-10%.
This set fits best on fast-paced balance and offense teams, where its pivot support can assist in getting other hard-hitting Pokemon like Mamoswine onto the field. Azelf is already a strong offensive presence, but wallbreakers like Keldeo, Hydreigon, Conkeldurr, and Mamoswine overwhelm shared checks such as Slowking, Chansey, and Mandibuzz. Stealth Rock setters like Nihilego and Spikes users like Skarmory put even more stress on the opposing team. Nihilego also can pressure Mandibuzz and wear down Slowking. Excadrill compresses setting and removing entry hazards, enabling Expert Belt Azelf to come in and break through the enemy team more easily. Azelf works best in combination with other pivots such as Zarude; Azelf threatens Zarude's Grass-type checks, and Zarude beats special walls like Slowking. Thundurus-T can pivot while also beating Mandibuzz and Slowking, while Slowking can be used as a slower, defensive pivot to bring in Azelf against Pokemon like Tangrowth. Knock Off absorbers like Tangrowth and Amoonguss help Azelf escape dangerous Pokemon like Thundurus-T, Scizor, and Azumarill, while Azelf can threaten Steel-types like Skarmory and Celesteela. These teammates also help against most Choice Scarf U-turn users like Zarude. Primarina can handle many threats to Azelf, including Mandibuzz and Choice Scarf Hydreigon, while Azelf can threaten Grass-types. In addition to Primarina, bulky Pokemon like Slowking and Salamence can make up for Azelf's frailty by defensively answering threats to it.
name: Nasty Plot
move 1: Nasty Plot
move 2: Psyshock
move 3: Fire Blast
move 4: Energy Ball / Dazzling Gleam
item: Expert Belt / Life Orb
evs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
+2 Azelf can dismantle nearly the entire tier, depending on what coverage moves it chooses. Psyshock is usually preferred for STAB to OHKO Nihilego and Tentacruel before a boost and better threaten Chansey and Calm Mind Primarina. However, Psychic is an option to do more neutral damage to Pokemon like Salamence and Mamoswine if Azelf is not running super effective coverage for them. Fire Blast covers Grass-types like Tangrowth and Steel-types like Celesteela, OHKOing all after Nasty Plot. Azelf's other coverage depends on the team's needs. Energy Ball is an option for Swampert, Hippowdon, and Slowking. Dazzling Gleam hits Dark- and Dragon-types like Hydreigon, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, and Salamence. Expert Belt is usually the preferred item on this set, as it allows Azelf to fire off attacks without consequence while still dealing enough damage to OHKO defensive Pokemon like Celesteela after Nasty Plot. Life Orb can be used for even more damage, in particular against Pokemon Azelf lacks coverage for like Chansey and Hatterene. Unfortunately, Life Orb wears down Azelf fairly quickly and leaves it susceptible to priority attacks like Bullet Punch from Scizor and Aqua Jet from Azumarill.
This set fits best on hyper offense teams, whose teammates can support Azelf. An entry hazard setter like Scolipede helps facilitate an Azelf sweep, and Excadrill can both set hazards and remove them. Azelf is naturally fast, but a Sticky Web setter like Ribombee invalidates Choice Scarf users like Jirachi and Zarude, letting Azelf easily sweep most teams. Sticky Web also allows Azelf to attack Starmie and Zygarde-10% without risking a Speed tie. Strong physical sweepers, like Gyarados and Diggersby, can work as secondary sweepers against teams that carry multiple stops to Azelf. Azelf can set up on most checks to these physical sweepers, including Tangrowth and Skarmory. A wallbreaker like Mamoswine can break through many checks to Azelf, such as Mandibuzz and Chansey, to allow Azelf to more easily sweep. Thundurus-T can also help threaten Pokemon like Mandibuzz, as Azelf struggles to break through it even with Dazzling Gleam. Nihilego can serve as a secondary sweeper with Meteor Beam and important coverage in moves such as Sludge Wave and Thunderbolt, while Azelf can assist in removing or weakening Nihilego's checks like Slowking, Chansey, and Jirachi.
A Choice Band set takes advantage of Azelf's high Attack stat to act as an incredibly strong pivot with U-turn, Knock Off, and solid options in Zen Headbutt, Ice Punch, Explosion, and Trick. While this can be effective on some teams, other Choice Band users like Zygarde-10% and Zarude offer more spammable high-power attacks in Thousand Arrows and STAB Darkest Lariat. Choice Scarf can be used to surprise other Choice Scarf users like Zarude and Jirachi, as well as faster threats like Crobat. However, this set is very situational and will oftentimes not have much utility compared to other Choice Scarf users like Jirachi, which can spam Iron Head and use Healing Wish in addition to pivoting. Azelf is also naturally fast and doesn't need Choice Scarf to outspeed most unboosted foes. Azelf can act as a Stealth Rock setter, but it should only be used if the team has no other viable options. While Azelf also gets Taunt to prevent Defog, the prevalence of Pokemon like Excadrill that can both spin on Azelf, threaten it with Earthquake thanks to Mold Breaker, and also set up Stealth Rock itself, makes Stealth Rock Azelf less optimal. A Pokemon like Cobalion, Nihilego, or the aforementioned Excadrill is generally a better option for setting up Stealth Rock.
Checks and Counters
**Dark-types**: Pokemon like Umbreon and Mandibuzz stop most Azelf sets and can easily threaten to KO it in return, although having their item removed with Knock Off makes them much less effective in their defensive roles. More offensive Pokemon like Choice Scarf Zarude and Hydreigon outspeed and OHKO Azelf, and Hydreigon can also switch into non-Pivot Azelf if it is not running Dazzling Gleam.
**Faster Threats and Priority**: Choice Scarf users such as Zarude, Hydreigon, Jirachi, and Diggersby deal significant damage to Azelf with U-turn or simply OHKO it with a strong attack. Noivern, Crobat, and Salazzle outspeed Azelf naturally and also threaten heavy damage. Priority move users like Scizor, Mamoswine, and Azumarill can pick off a chipped Azelf.
**Special Walls**: Pokemon with high Special Defense like Chansey, Celesteela, Hippowdon, and Slowking can withstand Azelf's attacks and hinder it with chip damage or status, and Chansey and Slowing can often use Teleport to bring in an offensive check. However, the former two hate Knock Off and the latter three fear coverage options like Flamethrower and Energy Ball. Even Chansey is 2HKOed by +2 Psyshock with Life Orb.
- Written by: [[BigFatMantis, 507497]]
- Quality checked by: [[Monky25, 515132], [Estarossa, 461329], [Mystras Leoxses, 530118]]
- Grammar checked by: [[CryoGyro, 331519], [Finland, 517429]]