.dancin'- a Guide to Dancing Setup Moves in Doubles

By Electrolyte. Art by Bummer.
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Setup has always been vital to offensive success in singles. It provides Pokémon with a way to boost their stats to more easily overpower their opponents. The ability to boost stats makes up a large part of the usage, viability, and power of many Pokémon—regardless of the tier. However, things are different in Doubles, as boosters are easier to stop and don't have as much time to set up because they must be able to stomach two incoming attacks at once if necessary. Support is needed to ensure that setup Pokémon have the opportunity to boost their stats, and even after that, sweeping is still risky. The prevalence of Intimidate and Fake Out makes it even harder to successfully boost, because by the time you've managed to safely set up, an Intimidate user will almost always be there to nullify that boost. Also, attack selection becomes a lot more important. Even when boosted, some Pokémon can only attack one opponent at a time, forcing the partner to cover the other opponent, which might not always be possible. Still, dancing moves can aid in sweeps if left unchecked.

Swords Dance

Swords Dance is one of the oldest setup moves in Pokémon, but that certainly doesn't mean it's the worst! In fact, Swords Dance is probably one of the most common setup move in Doubles because it boosts Attack by two instead of one per use, letting Scizor retain at least +1 if an Intimidate Pokémon switches in. However, because it does not provide a boost to the other stats, most Swords Dance users must either use priority, bulk, speed control, or a combination of the three in order to secure their sweep. Here is the most popular Swords Dance sweeper in Doubles: Scizor.


Scizor @ Scizorite
Ability: Technician
EVs: 164 HP / 252 Atk / 92 Spe
Adamant nature
- Bullet Punch
- Swords Dance
- Bug Bite
- Protect

Scizor is the most popular threatening Swords Dance sweeper and appears on a variety of balanced teams. Scizor's main draw is its powerful priority Bullet Punch, which achieves 90 Base Power after Technician and the STAB boost. After it Mega Evolves, it becomes even more statistically bulky. Using its more balanced bulk, Scizor can set up on a wide variety of special attackers, including Thundurus-I and Aegislash. Swords Dance boosts Scizor's already extremely high attack stat to scary levels, helping its Bullet Punch cleanly cut through opponents OHKOs and 2HKOs. For coverage, Mega Scizor also has Bug Bite, a secondary STAB move that can also steal Sitrus Berries to heal itself. Finally, Protect is on the set to help Scizor scout for potentially dangerous moves or protect itself as it Mega Evolves.

Using Mega Scizor in singles is relatively similar to using it in Doubles, though depending on the level of support from the teammate, it can choose to play more recklessly or more conservatively. Even without a boost, Scizor is very powerful, and can be used to revenge kill weakened opponents and then saved for a later sweep. Its power can be further boosted by a supportive teammate. Mega Scizor really appreciates Follow Me and Wide Guard support, all of which help it cover its only weakness to Fire-type attacks. In Doubles, the most common form of Fire-type offense is Heat Wave, so pairing Scizor with a Wide Guard user such as Hitmontop (who can also provide a boost to Defense by weakening the opponents with Intimidate and give Scizor opportunities with Fake Out) can effectively block the most common form of Fire-type offense from ever touching Scizor. Follow Me Togekiss is another great partner for Scizor, as it can use its high special bulk and Follow Me to redirect and sponge single-target Fire-type attacks. It can also spread paralysis and paraflinch opponents, providing Scizor with not only speed control but also many opportunities to set up.

Mega Scizor is most common in standard or speed control-abusing teams, due to its well-rounded bulk, acceptable Speed stat, and high amount of power. Balanced teams appreciate it the most, where it can quickly switch in and revenge kill opponents and then switch out to be used for later. Mega Scizor is also quite common on rain teams, which can nullify its weakness to Fire-type attacks somewhat and provide it with Electric- and Water-type offense from the likes of Thundurus-I and Kingdra to blast bulky Water-, Ground-, and Fire-types and make Scizor even harder to wall. The EVs for this set are fairly simple. Scizor's Attack stat is maximized so it can hit as hard as possible. Mega Scizor doesn't really have an issue with Speed like many other Steel-types do, so most commonly it will be seen outside of Trick Room. The spread puts in just enough EVs for Mega Scizor to outspeed typical Rotom-W and Cresselia to smack them with coverage before they can hit back. Then, the rest of the EVs go into its HP for better bulk.

Besides Mega Scizor, there are a few other honorary Swords Dance sweepers common in Doubles. Mega Kangaskhan is an example. Thanks to Parental Bond, Power-Up Punch will trigger twice, functioning like a Swords Dance. This boost is what makes Mega Kangaskhan so scary to face, helping it pummel through bulkier teams and wreck glass cannons with its priority. Other less common Swords Dance Pokémon include Garchomp and Mega Lucario.

Dragon Dance

Considered one of the best physical setup moves in singles, Dragon Dance is also very potent in Doubles. It is a great boost to both Speed and Attack, perfect for already powerful Pokémon that just need a little nudge up in Speed in order to overpower opponents. Unfortunately, its distribution is quite lackluster in Doubles, where Dragon-types are disadvantaged due to the prevalence of speed control, priority, and Fairy-type spam. Because of this, one of the most common and effective users of the setup move is actually not a Dragon-type—it's Mega Gyarados.

Mega Gyarados

Gyarados @ Gyaradosite
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant nature
- Dragon Dance
- Waterfall
- Earthquake
- Protect

Mega Gyarados is the best Dragon Dancer in the metagame, and for good reasons. A massive 155 Attack stat is one of them; a solid bulk of 95 / 109 / 130 is another. In fact, Mega Gyarados is almost perfect for setup. Its initial forme, regular Gyarados, has the ability Intimidate, which helps to lower opposing power and increase Gyarados's bulk. Then, upon Mega Evolution, its bulk and power skyrocket, and it also obtains the rare gem, Mold Breaker, as its new ability, shedding the no longer useful Intimidate. With Mold Breaker and its access to Earthquake, Mega Gyarados can easily pummel one of its previously most solid counters, Rotom-W. It also gains the ability to hit Cresselia, Gengar, Latios, Latias, and many other common Levitate users with Earthquake.

Another important aspect that Mega Gyarados has is its key typing change. By becoming a Dark-type, it gains new resistances that help it against something that few other Dragon-type Dragon Dancers can beat—Trick Room. Most Trick Room attackers are specially based; thus, Ghost-, Dark-, and Psychic-type attacks are common in Trick Room, and Mega Gyarados resists all three (Unfortunately, it also gains a weakness to Fairy-type, which is also pretty common under Trick Room. However, other Dragon-type Dragon Dancers also share the same weakness, and at least Mega Gyarados can pummel Fairy-types hard with its STAB Waterfall). With its bulk and great resistances, Mega Gyarados often finds many opportunities to set up and begin to sweep.

All it really needs in terms of attack moves are a STAB attack, usually in Waterfall because of its reliability and nice flinch chance, and Earthquake, which is really useful specifically for beating Rotom-W. It is also a spread move, widening Gyarados's offensive influence and making it even more difficult to stop. Waterfall is another reason why Mega Gyarados is so threatening—it keeps Landorus-T away by threatening the OHKO, successfully hindering one of the most common Attack-controlling Pokémon in the metagame. Using Mega Gyarados is quite simple—capitalize upon its massive bulk and try to create an opening with the partner. All Gyarados really needs is a turn or two; after one boost, it already outspeeds all of the relevant unboosted metagame, and has enough power to OHKO many defensive behemoths, including Landorus-T and Rotom-W

Mega Charizard X

Charizard @ Charizardite X
Ability: Blaze
EVs: 40 HP / 208 Atk / 32 Def / 228 Spe
Adamant nature
- Dragon Dance
- Dragon Claw
- Flare Blitz
- Protect / Earthquake

As the often unrecognized brother of Mega Charizard Y, Mega Charizard X is equally powerful, equally dangerous, and a lot more surprising. People expect Mega Charizard Y a bit too often, which Mega Charizard X can take to its advantage by shrugging off Thunderbolt, Rock Slide, and Hydro Pump fairly easily, or at least enough that it can continue to reliably sweep afterwards. Its typing post-Mega Evolution grants it a very unique set of resistances—in particular, a new 4x resistance to Fire-type attacks, which helps it combat its evil twin, Mega Charizard Y. It also receives a boost to its physical defense stat, further helping it shrug off chip damage as it sets up.

And, boy, there is nothing more geared for setup than Mega Charizard X. Despite its "low" Attack stat by Mega standards, Mega Charizard X is a powerhouse, boosted by its magnificent ability, Tough Claws, which provides it with a 33% boost to its contact moves. This helps Mega Charizard reach insane amounts of power even before it boosts, boasting the ability to flat-out OHKO a long list of Pokémon instantly. Its Speed stat is also just high enough to put it in a very comfortable Speed tier, along with other powerhouses such as Mega Gardevoir and Mega Kangaskhan. However, after a Dragon Dance, it becomes virtually impossible to outspeed because of the lack of Choice Scarf in Doubles. Furthermore, Mega Charizard X resists many priority moves. +1 Dragon Claw easily tears through unresistant teams, at least 2HKOing everything in its path. Flare Blitz is even more powerful, and can tear off large chunks of health from even resistant opponents, which are few. Mega Charizard X's main opponent, Landorus-T, is easily outsped with the given EVs and OHKOed after a single turn of setup.

Despite its power, Mega Charizard X often has difficulty getting situated in the field. The popularity of Intimidate users forces it to have to Dragon Dance multiple times to cancel the drops should it wish to sweep, and its weakness to Earthquake and Rock Slide make it very easy to target. Thus, it is very useful to partner it with a Wide Guard user, for example Hitmontop or Aegislash. Other forms of support are also useful, especially because Mega Charizard X is very offensively independent, even for a sweeper. Thus, Follow Me Togekiss and Rage Powder Amoonguss make terrific partners, and each can cover different ranges of opponents for Charizard X. Togekiss counters Dragons and single-target Ground-type attacks very well. Amoonguss can support with Spore, check Trick Room, and shrug off many of the powerful neutral attacks that people commonly use to check Mega Charizard X, such as Hydro Pump, Moonblast, and Shadow Ball, while Mega Charizard X removes Grass-types that are immune to Spore.

Quiver Dance

Quiver Dance is one of the best special setup moves in the game, boosting Speed, power, and bulk all in one turn. The move quickly turns users into not only offensive powerhouses but also bulky tanks that are very hard to take down from the special side. However, the good move has very specific distribution, and sadly, Volcarona is pretty much the only viable Pokémon that does (Venomoth also has a niche as a sleep-spamming Quiver Dancer but that is a pretty gimmicky set at best). Quiver Dance basically forms Volcarona's viability, helping it compete in usage with other popular Fire-types such as Talonflame and Heatran. It's a shame that Quiver Dance doesn't get better distribution, as Quiver Dance users don't have to deal with nearly as many hindrances as physical setup sweepers do, such as Intimidate and burn.


Volcarona @ Sitrus Berry / Lum Berry
Ability: Flame Body
EVs: 252 SAtk / 4 SpDef / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
- Heat Wave
- Bug Buzz
- Protect
- Quiver Dance

Volcarona is the perfect Pokémon to take advantage of Quiver Dance. By boosting its Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed all at once, Quiver Dance turns Volcarona into a monster in just one turn. It has a sky-high special stats and Speed, making it extremely dangerous, even after just one boost. At +1, it outspeeds the entire unboosted metagame, and even some of the more commom Choice Scarf users, such as Excadrill, Genesect, and Landorus-T. Its unique typing also gives it useful resistances to many common attack types, including Fighting-, Fairy-, and Grass-type attacks. Volcarona is also extremely powerful. With its STAB spread attack, Heat Wave, it can quickly lay waste to opposing teams. Volcarona also has a powerful Bug Buzz for coverage, making it great, versatile attacker that just needs a little bit of type coverage and support. Its few weaknesses are also fairly easy to identify and cover, making it a great Pokémon for solid cores (including the famous Hitmontop + Volcarona core from last generation!).

In fact, Volcarona's power and capability rise exponentially with the right support. Its 4x weakness to Rock-type attacks baits in a lot of Rock Slides, so Wide Guard users such as Hitmontop or Aegislash are really beneficial to help block those attacks. Helping Hand support from Hitmontop is really nice as well, especially to further boost Volcarona's Heat Wave and help it sweep with even greater ease. Other Pokémon can provide Helping Hand support too, such as Cresselia and Azumarill. Fighting-types in particular are great partners for Volcarona, because many of them get Helping Hand and are able to outspeed and KO Rock-types before they are able to hurt Volcarona. Fighting-types can also beat Heatran, Volcarona's greatest nemesis, and some with secondary typings (such as Terrakion or Keldeo) can also help it beat Mega Charizard Y and X and other Flying-types. With the right support, Volcarona can easily muscle past its counters and sweep.

As a special sweeper, Volcarona has to watch out for different things than the physical dancers, which is somewhat of a boon because physical Attack control is a lot more common than Special Attack control. Volcarona has the benefit of not being weakened every time an Intimidate Pokémon switches in or being crippled by Will-O-Wisp, which gives it an advantage over physical attackers. Also, because of Quiver Dance, Volcarona has bulk to lean back on, unlike the other boosters, which must rely on natural bulk. Volcarona also has the freedom of choosing different items, such as a Sitrus Berry, which lets it recover health. Unfortunately, Volcarona is initially a lot more vulnerable than the other setup sweepers, primarily because of its thin physical defenses and lower power in comparison. However, it is still a very threatening sweeper.


Setup might not be as useful in Doubles as it is in singles, but dancers are still quite dangerous and can have quick, disastrous effects on matches. With the right Pokémon and the right support crew, busting out moves can easily result in speedy wins. Keep .dancin'!

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