After a very fun and productive night of playing Pokémon UNITE with my twitch community, I needed to make this note. Let's start with the tweet:
Now, I'm obviously am being hyperbolic, I will stand with my confidence that I have a great strategy/matchup against the dreaded dog.
Call this a note, a primer, strategy guide or whatever, I'm going to break down how I play Pikachu and the advantages I create. If you are also a long time player of Pika, or you are looking to dabble with the Chu, I hope there is something you can take away from this. Again, just my observations and opinions, you are welcome to look at this and disagree.
Before we even get into the game, let's talk how I've built Pikachu.
First Move: Thunder Shock
Move Set: Thunder // Thunderbolt
Held Item: Energy Amp, Slick Spoon, Rapid Fire Scarf
Battle Item: X Speed
Emblem: SpA/CDR - 7 Black / 6 Green
I can hear you, "DOUBLE THUNDER?"
We are one of the best support mons in the game. "But Pikachu is an attacker!" I hear you, but that's just it's base stat blocks. When we talk support, we're talking about in game roles, and while we've been lead to believe that "Support = Healer," there are other ways to support the team. The big one (and Sableye follows this rule too) is supporting in combat. Our ability to be the best support mon hinges on this move set combined with the strategy I'll share here in a moment.
If you ask me my thoughts on Volt Tackle, I'm going to tell you that it is absolute trash, every single time. I've never liked the move, and I especially do not like it when you have mons like Zacian running around. I will die on the hill that we are in a Thunderbolt meta. As for Electro Ball, it's fine. I feel it gives you a false sense of having a better secure, but trust me, full thunder is the way to go right now.
Our items are reflective of our strategy, but if I were to give the quick run down, it looks like this:
Energy Amp: We love our Ult and want to give ourselves as many as we can in a game
Slick Spoon: Been saying for a few seasons that Pikachu needed a buff, but I couldn't explain how because I felt the stats were fine. Slick Spoon is our buff.
Rapid Fire Scarf (RFS): This is the surprise, but again, because of the strategy, we love this. Getting to be able to get back to our boosted attack, which acts as a bit of CC, is just icing on the cake.
The longevity of the speed boost from X Speed over the reposition from Eject Button is the choice there, but you can swap if you want. Our emblems are the classic CDR build, with an emphasis of boosting our special attack with our green emblems.
This is what separates us from dog food to dog hunter (and just being the best support mon in general.) In short, Pikachu need to live off of the edge of its range. We do not want any enemy even remotely close to us. Main reason why I hate Volt Tackle is because it actively throws you into a enemy, and while yes it stuns them, makes you very vulnerable to the rest of the enemy team.
Our goal is to backline the absolute crap in team fight and just drop thunder and thunderbolts on the enemy. This does one of two things: 1.) Quickly depletes enemy HP so that your team can clean up and not die in combat or 2.) Outright kills the enemy and allows your team to snowball and objective or score pad.
Early Game (Levels 1 - "5")
I'm putting 5 in quotes because we get Thunder at 4 and there's very little difference in strategy between 4 and 5, but the game changes for you when you get to level 6.
This is where Pikachu truly shines in the "attacker" role that it is assigned. We're gonna be somewhat aggressive. We're gonna try to out secure and steal, and we're going to bully the other team and try to choke them out of that early XP. If you do it right, you get to level 4 before the first round of birds/bees with ease, putting you in great position for that first round of birds/bees. For your dunks, you want to be dunking furthest away from where the central area "jungler" can come up and try to knock you out. Only times that Zacian has truly gotten me was when I misplayed and left my back to the central area.
Mid Game (Levels 6-10)
This is where we shift our role from being a traditional attacker and into this "combat support" role. The later the game goes, the more outclassed Pikachu gets, so by shift our purpose in the match, the more relevant we can remain.
Again, by living off of the edge of our range, we create big gaps between us and the enemy and we're able to chip away and crowd control. Thunderbolt is incredible at disrupting and stunning opponents and this is my way to secure. I've ran Electro Ball // Thunderbolt in season's past, and I can safely say I have secured more objectives with Thunderbolt than Electro Ball. Don't know what about it does that for me, but we take it. Thunder with our build will deal HUGE chunks of damage as the enemy team is usually engaged in fighting and not paying attention to the thunder being brought upon them.
Anyways, get into team fights, but keep your distance. Zacian is usually busy swiping away at the cluster of your teammates, so you can either stop the dog or clean him up if he's going too hard. Because we are keeping our distance, there's your reason why you don't see items like Buddy Barrier or Focus Band on this build. I've played over 700 games with Pikachu, and with this strategy, I don't need that HP bump if I'm actively trying not to get hit.
Late Game (Levels 11 - 15)
By now we get our bonuses to our moves and we get ready for the Ray fight. OUR STRATEGY STAYS THE SAME.
Do not get into unnecessary 1v1s. Follow your team, rain thunder down. You're not going to initiate anything, and your normally gonna do anything weird like cross lane scoring. Protect yourself and protect your team.
When Ray arrives, support your team with your full thunder and when the enemy starts getting dear their death, or if they are grouped up, drop your ultimate on them to dramatically clean them up.
This is how I can declare myself as a doggo hunter. I've said it to my friends, but I truly am no more afraid of Zacian than I am of Gengar, Absol, and the other hard counters to Pikachu. I will tell you right now that if Zacian catches you, you are as good as dead.
Read that last sentence again...IF Zacian catches you.
We're not giving Zacian, and honestly the enemy team, that much of a chance to catch us.
I play Pikachu almost exclusively, so you are welcome to catch me in action. I would love to hear your thoughts, what lessons you've learned, and whether any of this improved your game. Unite is in a weird spot right now, and I'm having an absolute blast cookin' with my Lil' Chef.
Happy Gaming! Happy Hunting!