Pokemon of the Week: Snorlax
This time the Pokemon of the Week is one of my personal favorite Generation I Pokemon, Snorlax. I'm not totally sure why, but I've always liked Snorlax a lot. The fatass bear-thing was very good in competitive Pokemon for a long time. It was great in competitive RBY, but it was in GSC where it really shined. I've never played real pre-BW competitive, but from what I know Snorlax basically owned the GSC metagame, its Curselax set being the most prevalent. Snorlax was also pretty great in RSE. DPP is where Snorlax really started declining in viability, and completely dropped out of OU in BW. The power creep and a larger amount of fighting-types were both contributors to this downfall. Snorlax was at least a dominating force in BW UU, and continues to be a great Pokemon in the XY version of the metagame.
I'm going to focus on Snorlax's usage in the UU metagame, since that is where Snorlax plays best by a very significant margin.
Snorlax @ Assault Vest
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 252 Atk / 52 Defense / 200 Special Defense / 4 Speed
As all competitive players know, Snorlax is most known for its insane special bulk. Assault Vest takes this to the extreme and makes the vast majority of special attacks just bounce off Snorlax. This is especially true with fire-type and ice-type attacks, which Snorlax has pseudo-resistances to, courtesy of Thick Fat. Sadly, although Assault Vest makes Snorlax harder to break through quickly, it ruins its long term game, as Snorlax has absolutely no means of recovering health while wearing the item.
Body Slam is generally the superior STAB move here, as while Return is more powerful, Body Slam's very nice paralysis rate more than makes up for the lower power. However, if other team members are particularly reliant on abusing status moves -- such as Sableye with its Will-o-wisp -- Return can be used instead to avoid potential status confliction. Both moves are moderately powerful attacks that can leave big dents in frailer offensive Pokemon, just don't expect either one to break through walls. Pursuit is non negotiable, as while it is pathetically weak on targets that stay in, it guarantees damage on anything that can't kill Snorlax, which is especially important on frail Pokemon and weakened Pokemon. Earthquake is also a must have move, as it hits Pokemon that resist Snorlax's normal-type attacks, such as Jirachi and Doublade. EQ also scores super effective damage on quite a few things, such as Victini and Nidoqueen. The last slot isn't quite as important as the first three. Selfdestruct allows Snorlax to go out with a bang, doing major damage. Crunch hits things like Bronzong, Gourgeist, and Mismagius, although it should be noted that ghost-types like the latter two often run Will-o-wisp to cripple Snorlax. Fire Punch hits Escavalier, Forretress, Abomasnow, and others harder, while maintaining coverage against Bronzong. Counter is actually classified as a physical move, meaning that it can be used with an Assault Vest, surprisingly enough. This can be useful against bulky physical attackers that Snorlax has trouble damaging, such as Mega Aggron (Earthquake only does around 25% to offensive variants). The thing is, most of the attackers Snorlax could use it on, like Darmanitan and Toxicroak, could be dealt with just as easily with its attacking moves. Additionally, Close Combat and Superpower -- the two most common fighting-type attacks -- lower the user's defense, meaning that Snorlax can do quite a bit of damage directly if it manages to survive the blow. For example, Snorlax is capable of living a Mega Absol's Superpower and OHKOing it with Return or Body Slam, thanks to this defense lowering side affect.
Snorlax @ Leftovers
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 144 HP / 184 Defense / 176 Special Defense / 4 Speed
Snorlax lacks a reliable recovery move, so it is forced to resort to the well known Resttalk strategy, befitting of its sleeping motif. Thankfully, Snorlax has some of the best overall bulk in the entire game alongside only one weakness, so it preforms the strategy better than most.
The set is simple. Spam Body Slam to spread damage and paralysis, and use Rest when it needs to recover health. Of course, like in the previous set, if potential status confliction is a problem, Return is a completely viable alternative. When asleep, Sleep Talk has a 1/3 chance to select each move (besides itself, obviously). This prevents Snorlax from being setup bait while waiting to wake up. There are multiple options for the last move. Whirlwind makes Snorlax even harder to set up on, blowing away the opponent and any boosts they may have acquired, even Substitute. It is recommended to use this alongside entry hazards for obvious reasons, so Spikes setters like Forretress, Roserade, and Cacturne are great teammates when using Whirlwind. Earthquake has nice super effective coverage and hits Pokemon resistant/immune to normal-attacks, apart from levitating ghosts like Mismagius. If such ghosts are an issue, Crunch can be used to hit them, though its super effective coverage is inferior to Earthquake's. Both attacking moves are generally more situational than Whirlwind.
All out attacking
Snorlax @ Choice Band/Leftovers
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 252 Attack / 52 Defese / 200 Sp. Defense / 4 Speed
An all out attacking set, with either Leftovers for automatic healing or Choice Band for sheer power. With Choice Band, OHKO's are going to be a lot more common, so Return's higher base power makes more of a difference than on the other sets. Body Slam is especially viable with Leftovers, but also works with Choice Band. The status confliction issue mentioned previously should be kept in mind. The other moves work the same as in the previous sets, but with a Choice Band, extra care must be taken not to mispredict. If the opponent has a healthy setup sweeper waiting in the wings, such as Porygon-Z, locking it into Pursuit will give them a free turn, which can spell your doom. If they predict an Earthquake and switch to a flier, they are, once again, given a free turn. Crunch is slightly more notable on this set for being Snorlax's only viable move that nothing is immune to, not counting the weak Pursuit. Thus, it can help with easing prediction.
Snorlax @ Leftovers
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 144 HP / 188 Defense / 176 Special Defense
This well known set aims to set up attack and defense boosts. The attack boosts make Snorlax a formidable offensive threat after a few boosts, while the defense boosts makes Snorlax nearly impenetrable from both sides. The speed loss is almost entirely insignificant, though after a few Snorlax will be unable to outrun even paralyzed foes. Speaking of paralysis, Body Slam is more recommended than ever here, as hitting harder right off the bat is not as important with this set. The paralysis Body Slam grants is arguably more important, even if Snorlax itself is incapable of outrunning paralyzed foes after a few Curses. Status confliction is also less of an issue since this Snorlax won't be switching around as much as the other sets, since it aims to sweep. However, Return is still viable if its benefits are important enough for you. Curse is obvious, being the namesake of the set. Crunch attains nearly perfect neutral coverage with Body Slam/Return, only failing to hit things like Cobalion. Earthquake is also an option to hit normal resists such as steel and rock types harder, but note that this combination does not hit as many Pokemon for even neutral damage, failing to touch Bronzong, Mismagius, Trevenant, Gourgeist and others for much damage at all (or in Mismagius' case, any). Rest is to regain health, and Cursing up, Snorlax will hopefully be able to survive any assaults it faces in its sleep. Just be sure that you have its threats out of the way.
Threats to Snorlax:
Fighting types such as Toxicroak, Mienshao, and Heracross can easily plow through Snorlax's weaker defensive stat with super effective hits. Even Curselax will have issues handling them -- Life Orb Mienshao does 60% minimum to a Snorlax at +2, and that's not even with Reckless. However, all of them have issues switching in on offensive sets, and they're also afraid of potential paralysis from Body Slam. Chesnaught has an easier time due to its high physical defense and lack of reliance on speed. Defensive ghost types also fare well, this includes Pokemon like Gourgeist, Doublade, and Trevenant. Gourgeist super and Doublade can't even be 2HKO'd by the Choice Band Set. While Sableye can be, it can easily just Will-o-wisp Snorlax, destroying its offensive potential. Sableye can even prevent it from healing or using Curse with Taunt, making it arguably one of the very best Snorlax counters available. Mega Aggron also takes little from even Earthquake and can either attack Snorlax or force it out with Roar.
Things Snorlax threatens:
Snorlax is a superb special wall, making it a good counter or check to almost every special attacker in the game. In particular, it is one of the best counters to Chandelure (though it needs to watch out for Trick) and Mega Houndoom. Its physical bulk, while not amazing like its special bulk, does allow it to check quite a few physical attackers. For example, healthy ones can check Darmanitan (even Life Orb Superpower fails to OHKO defensive sets), Arcanine (same as Darmanitan, only with Close Combat), and more.
Snorlax needs things that can deal with the fighting and ghost types that plague it. You can use ghosts of your own for the former, as most of them are quite good at handling fighting types. To beat ghosts, fire types like Arcanine and Rotom-H can be of great use, being immune to Will-o-wisp and plowing through most of the ghost-types. These are, of course, just examples of things to handle Snorlax's threats. Due to Thick Fat, Snorlax resists fire and ice attacks, making it a good teammate to Pokemon weak to said types, like Yanmega and Avalugg. The sets lacking Rest appreciate Wish and Heal Bell users, such as Florges and Alomomola. Lastly, entry hazards are useful, especially to sets utilizing Whirlwind. Cacturne, Forretress, and Omastar are all Pokemon that can stack hazards, with many others being able to learn at least Stealth Rock.