Don't Be a Fool - Protect Your Tool! - Doubles Edition

By Electrolyte. Art by Bummer.
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While Protect is generally considered a useful enough move in singles, most people seem to be in agreement that agree that haphazardly slapping Protect on every Pokémon in your team will attract some weird looks. Furthermore, the mere presence of Quick Guard or Wide Guard in singles condemns their users to the ignominious label of "utter noob" as assuredly as would their running an Eeveelution or SwagPlay team. However, just like in the real world, protection is a very valuable and important tool in the realm of Smogon Doubles, far more so than in the singles metagames. Lack of protection will render you helpless against spread move spam and Fake Out spam teams, trapping you in the lowest part of the social ladder and that on the simulator. Protect itself is a staple on Doubles teams, and its two scruffier little cousins, Wide Guard and Quick Guard, complement it nicely, allowing for unique maneuvers that can reap loads of benefits if your prediction is up to the job. In singles, the ability to protect one Pokémon for a turn might not be so useful, as there are only ever two Pokémon in the field, but when that number grows to four, things get a lot more interesting.


Protect's main draw is that it will almost certainly block any attack, no matter what it is, against a Pokémon that uses it for that turn only (bar some status moves such as Perish Song). However, in singles, Protect is a shaky strategy because by using the turn to protect your Pokémon, you also give up the opportunity to attack or set up. Sure, your own Pokémon might not get hit, but you won't be achieving anything either, unless you've already set up status, weather, or other sort of devilish indirect damage. However, in Doubles, you have the option of using another Pokémon to attack in the same turn, alleviating the turn-wasting tendency of Protect in singles. The dual opposition also creates a lot more offensive pressure to have to deal with, so being able to Protect helps ward against gang-ups and scout for super effective moves so the partner can take down the threat. Protect also helps to temporarily alleviate a possible need for switching out, which is invaluable as switching Pokémon in Doubles is really risky due to the fact that the switch-in is under the risk of being double-targeted and taken out before it can do anything in the match. There are multiple maneuvering strategies that involve Protect in Doubles, and if used at the right time, can easily turn Protect into a very potent tool.

The Bait and Attack

This is probably the most common Protect strategy in Doubles. To do this, simply bait attacks with one Pokémon that uses Protect that turn and attack with the partner. If pulled off correctly, the opponent will waste their turn using both of their Pokémon to attack the Protecting Pokémon while you use your second Pokémon to launch a free attack.

Example: This technique is most commonly used against Fake Out leads. Targeting a single opponent with Fake Out + a partner's attack is a common way to try to get the upper hand and take advantage of Fake Out's ability to stun. Protect is a great way to save yourself against this—Protect with a Pokémon that is more likely to be targeted and attack with its partner. This strategy can be implemented further so much as to send out "Fake Out bait" so the opponent will be inclined to attack a Pokémon that used Protect while the partner takes down an attacking threat.

The Cover-up

This is one of the most notable uses of Protect. If one of your Pokémon is threatened by an opponent, use Protect with that Pokémon and let the partner take down the threat. This is especially useful for Pokémon with 4x weaknesses, which are much more likely to draw in their threats than other Pokémon. The ability to do a "cover-up" Protect strategy is key in a lot of famous and effective pairing cores in Doubles.

Example: The cover-up is really useful for threatening Pokémon that draw in very specific counters. If you have a Heatran and an Azumarill out against a Landorus-T threatening to Earthquake the Heatran, you can Protect with the Heatran and then take out the Landorus-T with Azumarill, removing the threat without having to switch Heatran out. The success of this strategy depends heavily on partner support, however, and the ability to pull this off is one of the defining qualities of a lot of famous cores in the Doubles metagame.

The Bait and Switch

This is less common and arguably less useful than the more offensive strategies above, but can also come in handy at times. If both opponents attack your Protecting Pokémon, your other Pokémon has a free turn to switch in. This is a riskier strategy as the switch in could still very well be attacked, but is a useful and at times necessary maneuver in order to get a counter or check in safely without having to switch the threatened partner out.

Example: The Bait and Switch is similar to the cover-up, however instead of attacking with the partner, you should take advantage of the free turn to switch in a faster counter to the threat. Going back to the Landorus-T and Heatran scenario; an example of this would be using Protect with Heatran while Landorus-T attacks it so you can bring in a Latios or some other Landorus-T counter to quickly take it out next turn.

All of these can be used to help keep your own Pokémon healthy and outpredict your opponents. There are definitely other strategies and combinations that you can try to pull off, too. The general idea is just to take advantage of the fact that Protecting with one Pokémon makes your opponent waste their turn if they choose to attack that Protecting Pokémon, and if you manage to get BOTH of your opponents to attack you, your partner can get a free turn. Even if only one of the opponents attack the Protecting Pokémon, the other two Pokémon only have each other to deal with, making Protect a relatively risk-free maneuver.

Wide Guard

Wide Guard is quite similar to Protect, but it has some key uses that distinguish it. It protects all Pokémon on that side of the field from spread attacks for that turn, providing a one-turn immunity to moves such as Discharge, Earthquake, Heat Wave, and Surf. Wide Guard's main selling point is that it protects partners without requiring the turn of the partner, giving your other Pokémon chances to attack or set up. By blocking spread moves, Wide Guard can help cover for weaknesses, check certain otherwise dangerous threats, and create openings for the partner. Many moves of important offensive types only have spread moves as common representatives, such as Earthquake and Heat Wave, making Wide Guard a great tool to stop Ground- and Fire-type attacks. This makes Wide Guard support extremely beneficial for certain Pokémon (Heatran, Steel-types) that are weak to and can usually only be hit super effectively by those kinds of attacks. Wide Guard is also great against people that spam spread attacks, and puts a complete stop to Lightning Rod + Discharge and Storm Drain + Surf spam. Finally, Wide Guard can also help protect your partner against your own spread attack, such as Earthquake or Discharge.

Example set:

Hitmontop @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 248 HP / 136 Atk / 60 Def / 60 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant nature
- Wide Guard
- Fake Out
- Close Combat
- Stone Edge

Hitmontop is probably the most common and reliable user of Wide Guard in the metagame, especially due to the fact that it also has access to Intimidate and Fake Out for support. This combination makes it an excellent support Pokémon that can fit in many effective cores, such as the famous Hitmontop + Volcarona core of last generation, where Hitmontop easily blocked Rock Slide and Surf for Volcarona. On this set, Wide Guard steps in to block Earthquake, Heat Wave, Surf, Discharge, you name it, providing quintessential coverage for multitudes of Pokémon. Hitmontop is no offensive slouch, either, as its powerful Close Combat can easily knock Steel-, Rock-, and Dark-types out of the park. Finally, Stone Edge hits Flying-types while also being unblockable by an opposing Wide Guard.

Quick Guard

Quick Guard is the least common of the three, but certainly still has its uses. It protects against priority attacks such as Bullet Punch and Extreme Speed, and in a Speed-dominated tier like Doubles, being able to protect your Pokémon against priority attacks is extremely useful. It has a priority bracket of +3, tieing with Fake Out, so faster Quick Guard users also gain the ability to block against opposing Fake Out. Like Wide Guard, it protects the partner as well, giving it utility over Protect. Fake Out and priority are extremely common in Doubles due to their utility, so having a way to protect against priority spam can allow for the use of more destructive glass cannons such as Deoxys-A or Shaymin-S, which can usually only be reliably countered with priority. Fake Out is really one of the prime reasons to use Quick Guard, especially because it is so common and so disorienting. People often lead with a Fake Out user, so being able to block that on the first turn might come in handy. Quick Guard can also be used to make sure that a weakened partner won't be finished off before it can deal more lasting damage.

Example set:

Terrakion @ Focus Sash
Ability: Justified
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly nature
- Quick Guard
- Rock Slide
- Close Combat
- Protect

Terrakion is one of the fastest users of Quick Guard, helping it outpace most common Fake Out users in the +4 priority tier so that it can protect itself and its teammates. By cockblocking things like Mega Kangaskhan, Hitmontop, and Scrafty, Terrakion can serve as a reliable anti-lead. Its Quick Guard also helps it against priority Bullet Punch, Mach Punch, and Aqua Jet that it typically draws in, giving it a leg up against things like Talonflame that try to muscle past it. When not using Quick Guard, Terrakion can fire off its powerful STAB moves, causing quite a lot of damage with almost perfect coverage. Its combination of Speed, power, and support make it both an excellent attacker and supporter.


Protecting moves are important and useful in Doubles, just as long as you're able to correctly predict when to use them. They offer players with a way to counter mindless spam and maneuver their Pokémon to remove would-be threats. By using protection, you'll be able to more safely and efficiently play with your Pokémon!

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