In our last day of tribute to the original broken typing we will delve into it’s capabilities as a dual type. Why is this important? Well, dual pokemon make for a majority of the competitive pokemon in the game! Just to give you an idea, from the 50+ pokemon listed in the Smogon OU tier list (circa 2016) only less than 10 are monotypes. The reasons should be crystal clear too: access to several STAB often translate in superior coverage, several types often come with an assortment of support moves for both and of course, you can also build better resistances against key threats.
Since the early games Psychic was always one widely used for Dual types, the ratio slowed down a bit in Hoenn but Gen VI retconned two of the early pure-Psychic types into Psychic Fairy, giving Psychic that distinctive advantage of being born with a built in Fairy priviledge.
Let’s take a peek at the currently existing combination and explore exactly how good they are and how they take advantage of the Psychic side of their nature:
Dark: Malamar, Hoopa Unbound. The last generation just created this type combination, which is offensively solid (Psychic and Dark have almost neutral coverage) but defensively awful (offering no resistances and a crippling 4x weakness to bug). Hoopa’s offensive status are stupid high and the fact that it has STAB Psyshock to deal with special walls make it almost impossible to tank, this and great coverage are a huge part of its success. Malamar is not as Lucky: his incredibly mediocre status coupled with a vague offensive presence make it reliant on his ability (Contrary), but he can only abuse it through a physical move and that’s not Psychic’s best side of things. For one Psychic is really relevant and for the other it gives only a few support moves that might be best used by other pokes (as this combination has mediocre défenses).
Dragon: Latias, Latios. While the type combination isn’t particularly brilliant from a defensive standpoint, Fighting resistance is a great thing to have for a bulky pokemon such as Latias, she can also abuse Stored Power better than others. Latios as every specially offensive Psychic type loves his Psyshock. Because they like to switch out (after a Draco Meteor), they are typical targets of Pursuit and random U-Turns, which Psychic typing doesn’t help. Both Lati carry levitate so they become a natural defensive core with Steel types resisting Fire, Fighting and being inmune to Ground, which only adds to their individual stat prowess.
Fairy: Gardevoir, Mr. Mime. Both have mediocre physical defenses but thankfully a double resistance against Fighting makes it so they can sponge at least some attacks from such sources. Also it’s good to lose the Pursuit/U-turn/Sucker Punch weakness, so Fairy is a very happy combination all things considered. And since they are special attackers Psyshock is a go to move for them.
Fighting: Medicham, Gallade, Mega Mewtwo X. This combination gives near perfect coverage and patches up the U-turn/Pursuit weakness most Psychics fear, all its users are accomplished physical attackers with access to Mega offenses, so they can live up to that offensive promise. Nevertheless, it doesn’t bring any particular double resistances so Medicham and Gallade remain mostly as fragile as they were since the beginning. Mega Mewtwo X rarely faces Poison/Fighting types, so it foregoes Zen Headbutt for more relevant coverage moves.
Fire: Victini, Delphox, Zen-Mode Darmanitan. In paper this is a decent enough offensive combination as Fire hits Steels, which are one of Psychic’s bigger walls, it’s made less interesting by the fact Water/Psychic exist and are pretty strong on their own right, though Victini solves that through awesome coverage moves. It can form a core with Steel types as it resists Fighting and Fire, but Ground is the most common coverage move against them, so its more unreliable (also Victini is the only one with enough bulk to pull it’s weight on a defensive core). Among the Fire types the one who makes the better use of his Psychic typing is Delphox, he’s just a special attacker by any other name. Victini goes physical pretty much all the time as his gimmick is to spam STAB V-Create, that and the amazing coverage it gets from its other event exclusive moves rule out the use of Psychical attacks, leaving it to use it’s typing for support moves (but who uses support moves on a walking nuke?). Darmanitan is a terrible gimmick.
Flying: Xatu, Lugia, Swoobat, Sigilyph. These Pokemon make great use of their abilities to stand above the rest of the psychic types, a critical double resistance against Fighting types and inmunity to Ground moves are what eases their use. The typing could form a decent defensive core with Steel types, but most users have mediocre defense. Flying provides mostly coverage and support moves for the non-uber pokemon of this combination, for the most part they behave and work as pure Psychic types, combining tricks with decent offensive options and support moves (Thunder Wave etc.). Lugia is the exception as his status make him a defensive wall whose main appeal is to have Roost, Multiscale and a good speed to use something before getting taunted.
Ghost: Hoopa. This combination gives an unfortunate 4x weakness to both Dark and Ghost which is quite worse than the 4x Weakness that Dark/Psychic sports (and the few inmunities resistances you get for it are not nearly as critical, Normal and Poison aren’t great offensive types). Offensively this is still quite workable even if Normal types can switch into your Ghost STAB. Hoopa has great offenses and mediocre defenses so it’s exactly the kind of Pokemon that can make this sort of work… His speed will make you work for it though.
Grass: Exeggutor, Celebi. This is a combination of typings known for it’s high number of weaknesses, one of the highest in the game. It has the redeeming quality of resisting both Fighting and Ground, which are two of the main ways of attacking Steel types, forming a defensive core with them. What helps these guys to keep their head above the water is the great movepool with come from being a Psychic and a Grass type, decent abilities and the ability to check key threats. Nevertheless, this combination is hardly very offensive so Exeggutor’s niche as a high damaging Pokemon is diminished by this fact (and it’s lacking speed), he’s an unreliable Pokemon to set Trick Room with despite the fact he can abuse it, his selling points are Psyshock and Sleep Powder which sadly many other pokes can do. In the other end of the specter we have Celebi who went for bulk and Baton Pass, with a great defensive ability in Natural Cure and enough bulk to compliment its Giga Drain (that can be boosted by Nasty Plot). Arguably though Celebi could do better without his Psychic typing ask he does not use it much for coverage and has a decent movepool of non-Psychic moves (instead he’s one of the best Giga Drain users in the game).
Ground: Claydol. Psychic does more leg work than Ground to keep Claydol relevant, even if it’s only grace comes from resisting every kind of hazard out there and carrying Rapid Spin. This is one of those typings that could be offensive (Ground hits Steel types, Psychic types learn Shadow Ball hitting most pokes for neutral damage) but are wasted in a very defensive Pokemon. Water is a very common weakness and Claydol missed every decent recovery move in the game, so this is a combination that has failed to live up to its potential.
Ice: Jynx. Ice is a great offensive typing with several glaring weaknesses, in combination with Psychic it patches up the Fighting weakness which is among the most common ones. In practice, however, the only bearer of this typing has so little physical defense than any neutral STAB could break though her in no time. In either case Jynx is geared towards offenses but she’s too slow and too fragile to be a reliable sweeper, with her ability Dry Skin she can be a silver bullet against water types but loses her ability to take special Fire attacks. As a special sweeper with Nasty Plot, a fast and reliable Sleep Move and Psyshock/Ice Beam at her hand, she is let down by her stat distribution. She also missed Dry Freeze which would make her even nastier against water types.
Normal: Girafarig, Meloetta. This combination has few weaknesses but also few resistances, making it rather forgettable. It’s a decent foil against Psychic types, whose go-to move against other Psychic types tends to be Shadow Ball, but Normal fails to cover the big defensive problems that come with Psychic: U-Turn and Pursuit. Offensively both STABs are tanked by Steel and are silver bulleted by the Ghost/Dark combination (both these weaknesses can’t be fully countered by a single coverage move, so you need to compromise or drop one of your STABs -which is the better choice, to be honest-). Girafarig is really fragile and not terribly fast, so the lack of défenses hinders it terribly. Meloetta is pretty much your generic Psychic offensive attacker who can on occasion frustrate other Psychic attackers with its typing. She’s like a less accomplished version of Gardevoir as her typing is less useful and her ability is terribly wasted (for all purposes she has no ability). If Meloetta had Boomburst to justify her Normal STAB then maybe she could be redeemed, until then…
Rock: Solrock, Lunatone. This is not an amazing typing combination, Rock is offensive but weak to common types (Water, Ground), it doesn’t patch up Psychic weaknesses neither in offense nor in defense. But Psychic compliments Rock by hitting Fighting types, so Ground/Fighting coverage could make this combination sort-of work in the offense even if Defense is mediocre. Nevertheless, this will all remain theoretical because Solrock and Lunatone are not really all that offensive and are middle-of-the-barrel pokemon in status. Seriously though, not giving Power Gem to Lunatone is just trolling.
Steel: Metagross, Jirachi, Bronzong. This combination got a little worse in the defense as Ghost and Dark no longer deal neutral damage, but in compensation it got good against Fairy types which are big in the competitive arena (and in any case improved Steel offensive prowess quite a bit). One of its main selling points is that it makes Fighting moves neutral on a Steel type and that a Psychic type no longer carries a U-turn weakness. This makes Steel/Psychic a fair answer against Fighting types, as they often use Rock coverage, but they may carry Ground or Fire moves to fully cover this weakness. All in all, the Pokemon carrying that combination are just good, they have decent distribution, relevant abilities and good enough movepools to be competitive. Bronzong is the one that depends on Psychic moves the most, as he’s often used as a Trick Room settler, Metagross uses his STAB as Neutral coverage and Jirachi mostly paraflinches opponents, which is better done through Steel moves than through Psychic.
Water: Slowbro, Starmie, Slowking. Along with Fairy and Steel this is the other winning dual type combo that Psychic has and it’s the oldest one in the book. It forms a natural core with Steel types as it resists Fighting and Fire (though Ground is the most used Physical coverage against them). Resisting Steel and Ice they can also intervene to protect Fairy and Dragon types. Offensively Water and Psychic have a very wide choice of coverage options including Electric, Ice and Fire making these Pokes capable of hitting most opposing critters for Super Effective damage (and targeting specific threats). Access to the most spammable STAB move in the game (Scald) only makes their ability to take on random enemies more easy. Of course, in the end of the day these pokemon are succesful because of their great stat distribution and amazing abilities, they can perform on both support and offensive roles.
Combinations not used so far:
Bug: Oddly enough though many fully evolved Bugs learn Psychic moves none of them can use it as STAB. The combination is tanked by Steel types, but it hits Psychic and Dark correctly and lacks of compound weaknesses. It also resists Fighting and Ground, potentially forming a defensive core with Steel, but it’s hit by Rock which is a coverage run often by Fighting types. Stealth Rock is a potential issue with this combination as a defensive one, also both Psychic and Bug types tend to be Physically frail. It could have a lot of flexibility, but it could also be terribly wasted with the wrong stat distribution.
Electric: Soon we will have a certain alolan pokemon to discuss here. The combination isn’t terribly complementary, but access to STAB Volt Switch coupled with Psychic-high Special Attack could be interesting. Offensively it’s fine as most combination that block both STAB are unreliable for a number of reasons. Psychic is likely to bring decent coverage to the often-barren movepool carried by Electric attackers, so it could be an improvement.
Poison: The combination could be interesting as U-turn weakness is lessened and Psychic becomes less of an issue on the Poison side. If it also got Levitate (it has decent distribution among Psychic types) it could really shine from a defensive standpoint, though the weakness to Pursuit remains. It’s not such an special combination but now that Fairy types exist it would make a bit of sense to try it out.