1. I think the mind game is over if you don't lead with Azelf tbh and if you lead with it and start Nasty Plotting, you're getting a kill at most since it should be primed for a revenge kill. Your strat is blown at that point.While i do agree on certain aspects, there are some things that must be pointed:
Im still convinced that Azelf is worth B-Tier.
- While Alakazam can play mindgames and have raw power with Life Orb, it is frailer than Azelf. It can also play mindgames because, as you said, it can be either a setup sweeper (I wouldn't call it Glass Cannon since it has enough bulk to take some hits) or a Explosion Lead.
- Latios and Latias have better bulk and recovery, but these Pokemon, from what i know, commonly play other roles that arent the ones you mencionated. For example, Defog sets are more common because they can outspeed Galvantula and other hazard setters while doing good damage. I could be mistaken, so if you could tell me, i would like it
- Lele and Victini are staples of the Psychic teams, we know that, but Azelf can dish out quicker and powerful hits, since these two Pokemon commonly run Specs and Band, respectively. And while yes, Psychic teams could have problems with the Ghost matchup, Pokemon like Jirachi and Victini have enough bulk to take a hit and damage back. And, if you look, Indeedee-M is ranked on the D Tier. There are also only 2 Pokemon on the Ghost teams that can outspeed Azelf, meaning it can take care of this matchup with the correct teammates. As i mentioned, Azelf also carries fire moves that are stronger than Mystical Fire so i think the only reason to use Hatterene is Magic Bounce, and maybe a bulky setup sweeper. I could be wrong on this, so you can tell me if i am.
2. In a heavy duty boots metagame and Victini being the main/often only victim of hazards, I could not disagree more with this point. Psychic does not necessarily have to clear hazards. Latias and Latios are used for their reliable revenge killing, utility with Trick/Defog/HWish or CM/CP setup.
3. When you say "Azelf can dish out quicker and powerful hits", quicker sure but powerful? Nothing enjoys switching in to even non-banded/specs V Create or Terrain boosted Psychic. I don't see setting up once and being able to hit hard as a special, especially if you are frail enough to be in revenge kill range and lack priority. This is why pokemon like Swoobat and most Shell Smashers aren't really relevant.
4. The reason why I mentioned Indeedee-M is because it lives in a very similar situation to Azelf. It is a very good pokemon for Psychic, however made very irrelevant by Tapu Lele. If not for the likes Lele and Victini, Azelf might have more viability.
5. "There are also only 2 Pokemon on the Ghost teams that can outspeed Azelf, meaning it can take care of this matchup with the correct teammates". This statement is very misleading. You speed tie with Gengar and get outsped by Spectrier and Dragapult and at least 2 of these 3 are staples on Ghost. Not to mention the revenge potential from Shadow Sneak from Mimikyu and any other niche ghost type. Azelf gets a kill then runs, that's if Jellicent/Corsola/Aegislash allows them to. This wall-breaking task is achievable by a Victini or Lele once again.
6. Check replays from recent tournaments such as MLT or Fall Seasonals to see the rampage caused pre-DLC 2 by CM DKiss Hatterene, it is one of the scariest set up sweepers even in this meta and should not be in the same ball park as Azelf. In gen8, almost every Psychic pokemon under the sun got fire coverage, I don't see it as special and did I forget to mention Victini makes fire coverage moderately obsolete?
Like DYA said Azelf's main issue is that it is outclassed by other Pokemon and struggles to fit in a serious Psychic lineup.
A template could be Specs Lele, Band Victini, Scarf Latias, Def Slowbro, SpDefRocks Jirachi and Stallbreak Mew/Sash Alakazam. I believe Azelf could only slip in as the last slot but provides wall-break potential covered by the first 2 or a decent lead covered by Jirachi.
In all this conversation, I realised that Necrozma has more potential than Azelf in the sense of flexibility of sets and setup potential. I don't want to spark any more debates however it shows that C-rank is no joke of a tier. Azelf is very well suited for C-rank, the step up to B-tier is too massive and I think it would take either recovery options or screens being viable on Psychic for it to improve it's standing.