Competitive Spotlight: Azumarill

Welcome to the Competitive Spotlight! Every month, we will post a new article featuring a Pokémon, play style, special type of team, or even battles. Anything about Competitive play can be covered here!
 

For our first Competitive Spotlight, we'll take a close look at the fully-evolved version of our namesake and mascot Pokémon: Azumarill!

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Overview


First introduced in Generation 2 with Gold and Silver, the Aqua Rabbit Pokémon is a dual Water- and Fairy-type powerhouse. In the Gen 2 OU format, Azumarill is not considered viable - this was a time before Abilities and the Fairy-type. 

Back when it was first introduced, Azumarill was a decent Pokémon, but it was held back by poor offensive stats and a fairly poor move pool, making Return its best Physical move. Plus, Generation 2 saw Physical and Special status marked by the type, and not the move itself. In other words, all Water-type moves in Generation 2 were Special.  Sure, Waterfall looked like it made contact, but it was a Water-type move, so it was Special based. However, things did get better for our friend during Generation 3 with the introduction of Abilities. Azumarill was blessed with a fantastic ability known as Huge Power, which will we go into later on.

Things didn't change too much for Azumarill until Generation 6, where it was one of many Pokémon retconned to have the brand new Fairy-typing. Thanks to this new typing, Azumarill skyrocketed to OU!

This, coupled with its access to Belly Drum and Aqua Jet, can make Azumarill a terrifying Pokémon if it gets a chance to set up.

Base Stats

HP 100
Attack 50
Defense 80
Sp Attack 60
Sp Defense 80
Speed 50


At first glance, Azumarill may seem like it's just another run-of-the-mill bulky Water-type. However, things are not as they seem. Thanks to Azumarill's Ability Huge Power, its entire Attack stat is doubled; meaning that its Attack stat, including IVs and EVs, are all doubled.

Speaking in terms of raw numbers, at Level 50, an Azumarill with Adamant nature (+Atk, -Sp Atk), perfect IVs (31) and perfect EVs (252) in Attack will normally have 218 attack at level 100. However, with Huge Power, that Attack is doubled to 436.

Movesets

Azumarill@Normalium Z  / Sitrus Berry 

Ability: Huge Power
EVs: 4 HP/252 Stk/252 Spe
Moves:
- Belly Drum
- Play Rough/Liquidation
- Aqua Jet
- Knock Off

With Belly Drum, Azumarill maximizes its Attack stat with a +6 boost, while sacrificing half of its HP. However, with a Sitrus Berry, it will heal 33% of its max health after the HP drain. Normalium Z Belly Drum will fully restore Azumarill's HP before Belly Drum is activated. This can be helpful if you're not able to freely switch into Azumarill, or if its just too slow to be able get off a Belly Drum with more than half of its HP remaining.

Aqua Jet is its best move to use with Belly Drum as it has priority and STAB, making it a 60 BP Water-type move. Play Rough is Azumarill's go-to Fairy-type move, while Liquidation is its best physical Water-type move, replacing the previously strongest, Waterfall.

Knock Off can also be useful for doing considerable damage while also taking away an opponent's item. Just keep in mind that Knock Off does not remove Z Crystals or Mega Stones. This set gives Azumarill its maximum attack, but it comes at the cost of half of its HP, which can make it tricky to set up; especially since Azumarill is a very slow Pokémon. It is easiest if you can switch Azumarill into a type that it resists, such as Dragon, Water, Ice, or Fire, as there is a better chance of the opponent switching out — giving you, essentially, a free Belly Drum. However, that also means you have to play your Azumarill very carefully, making it a bit difficult to play in some situations.

Azumarill@Choice Band 

Ability: Huge Power
EVs: 252 HP/252 Atk/4 Def
Moves:
-Liquidation
-Play Rough
-Knock Off/Superpower/Ice Punch
-Aqua Jet

As I said, Liquidation is now its strongest physical Water-type attack, while Play Rough is its strongest physical Fairy-type move. Slot 3 can be interchanged to one's liking, getting either decent coverage for its weaknesses; or Knock Off, again, for good damage and getting rid of the opponent's item. Aqua Jet is there for powerful priority.

Thanks to Choice Band, Azumarill gets a 50% boost to its attack. In exchange, it is locked into the first move it chooses. Because of this, Azumarill may be forced to switch out if the opponent has a good counter; and with entry hazards, Azumarill can be whittled down easily, even outside of a Belly Drum set.

Weaknesses and Counters

Weaknesses:

Some of the biggest weaknesses of this set, and of Azumarill in general, are its ways of boosting its Attack. The only way Azumarill can boost its attack outside of Belly Drum is with Power-Up Punch. This means that if you want a boost in power, you're going to have to sacrifice half of your HP.  And if you haven't taken care of any checks to Azumarill, even with a +6 Attack, its going to have trouble KO-ing them, forcing you to either sacrifice the Azumarill or switch it out, essentially wasting that Attack boost.

Another major weakness is its slow speed. It going to be out-sped by a lot of Pokémon in UU, meaning it's very tricky to be able to get a Belly Drum off at full HP.

Counters:    

Water-Resistant and Water-Immune Pokémon. Pokémon like Seimetoad, Gastrodon, and Mantine that are immune to Water moves thanks to their abilities can easily check either variant of Azumarill. Because of their immunity, depending on the type of Azumarill, you will either be relying solely on Play Rough, or be forced to switch out if you are using Choice Band. In the case of a Choice Band Azumarill, forcing it to switch out can give your opponent a great deal of momentum, as it will give them a free attack/set up on whichever Pokémon is switching in.

Quagsire. Quagsire on its own is a perfect counter to Belly Drum Azumarill thanks to its Unaware ability, which makes it completely ignore any stat boosts the enemy has. This means that to Quagsire, all Azumarill does when it uses Belly Drum is halve its HP.  Not only that, but Quagsire is a bulky Pokémon itself, and can easily tank any of its moves while whittling Azumarill down with a Toxic.

Strong Priority Users. Other priority users can spell trouble for Azumarill, since Azumarill will likely attack second, even if its using Aqua Jet; as the faster of the two priority-using Pokémon will always attack first. One of the best examples of this is an offensively-oriented Scizor can usually 2HKO an Azumarill with Bullet Punch, rendering Belly Drum variants much less powerful; especially Sitrus Berry-using Azumarills, since it will not be able to get a Belly Drum off.

Conclusion

Overall, Azumarill is a strong physical wall, but is limited by its slow speed and fairly predictable move sets.  Belly Drum is a potent tool, but its HP cut makes Azumarill's time to attack limited, meaning that bringing it out at an ample time is tricky. However, when your Azumarill is able to shine, it shines brightly. A +6 Aqua Jet is an extremely strong priority and there aren't many Pokémon, outside of Water-resistant ones like Seismetoad that can take a hit like that well. Also, thanks to the addition of its Fairy-typing, it has become a great check to the Dragon-types lurking in higher tiers.

Things may not have started out great for Azumarill in Generation 2, but Game Freak has been kind to this Aqua Rabbit Pokémon; and with great additions like Huge Power and a new Water/Fairy-typing, Azumarill is a forced to be reckoned with in the right hands. 

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