Often considered one of the worst designs by fans not only from Pokemon Sun and Moon, but the entire franchise in general, Bruxish returns in Scarlet and Violet. But, despite its hideous appearance (which resembles a piranha on acid according to my wife) Bruxish is actually a good mid-tier competitive Pokemon! Being from the generation I never played competitively, Gen 7, I’m not that familiar with Bruxish. So, much of what I’m talking about here is coming from Smogon University among other competitive Pokemon resources.
What is quite obvious about Bruxish is that it has two very good stats among its other mediocre ones. 68 HP, 70 DEF, and 70 Special DEF are quite below average. 70 Special ATK isn’t too good, either. But, the two other stats, ATK and Speed, are very good. Bruxish has an above average 105 ATK and a decent 92 Speed stat. It also has a good move pool and an ability to complement it.
Bruxish has several abilities, none of them actually bad. The first ability is Dazzling, which protects Bruxish and its allies from moves with priority. That’s pretty darn good, stopping things like Fake Out, Extreme Speed, and other priority attacks and status moves. But, it’s only good in doubles. The other ability, Strong Jaw, though, is the one we’re going to focus on: it increases the power of biting moves by fifty percent.
The Hidden Ability on Bruxish is actually rather good, too. It’s called Wonder Skin, which makes the accuracy of status moves with accuracy checks only 50 percent accurate. While this is obviously a good ability in general, Bruxish has Strong Jaw, and the moves to take advantage of it.
The two moves that Bruxish can use with Strong Jaw are Psychic Fangs and Crunch. It also doesn’t hurt that Bruxish is Water/Psychic, so those Psychic Fangs already get a 50 percent boost from same type attack bonus (STAB). With Strong Jaw, Psychic Jaws power goes from 85 base power, to 127.5 with STAB, all the way up to 191 power! Ouch.
Crunch as a Dark type move with 80 base power now jumps to 120 power. With Swords Dance to get a 2x boost to its Attack stat, Bruxish can suddenly sweep anything that its faster, than. Also, it can run Aqua Jet for a priority STAB move, and while 60 power doesn’t sound like much, it is a seriously damaging move at 2x attack against anything that doesn’t resist Water-type moves.
Bruxish can also learn Ice Fang as an Egg move (yeah, if you can get anything to breed with it; apparently, Arrokuda will!), but it’s also only 65 power and should only be considered if you really need the coverage on your team.
Pop a Life Orb on Bruxish as a held item, pumping its attacks by a further 30 percent at the cost of 1/10th max HP per attack, and you get something very, very scary. Not only does it look hideous, but the damage it can deal out is pretty hideous, too.
The problem is that 92 Speed, while not bad, isn’t good. Even giving it a Jolly nature, which boosts its Speed stat by 10 percent at the cost of 10 percent of the Special Attack stat it isn’t using, doesn’t outspeed a lot of common things that can threaten it. Being Water/Psychic is great for its offensive firepower, but defensively, it offers several important weaknesses: Grass and Electric from being Water, and Bug, Dark, and Ghost from being Psychic. So, if Bruxish gets outsped, it’s so frail that it just dies.
Because Bruxish needs such set up, you might think, why not just give it a Choice Scarf? That boosts Bruxish’s Speed by 50 percent. Yes, it locks you into one move, but Bruxish can hit hard enough to make up for that, right? Then, you can pop an Adamant nature on it, boosting your Attack by 10 percent at the same cost of Special Attack.
The problem is, a lot of hyper-offensive Pokemon also run Choice Scarf. Also, in official Battle Stadium and VGC, you can only run one item per team. In competitive singles like on Pokemon Showdown, this isn’t the case. But, when you’re limited to only running one Choice Scarf, this doesn’t feel like the Pokemon you should be using.
Even then, Bruxish was a solid mid-tier attacker in NU, the mid-tier of Pokemon Showdown, during the Sun and Moon era. Even then, it sometimes had to choose Liquidation over Crunch as a second STAB move to OHKO (one-hit KO) certain threats. That’s the issue with glass cannons like Bruxish, who’s even frailer than most glass cannons; they have to OHKO stuff.
It all comes down to Speed tiers. Even if you are outsped by a single stat point, your Bruxish is going to be someone’s lunch with chips. In Generation 9, there are a lot of fast Pokemon, many of whom have super-effective attacks against Bruxish. Even with a Jolly nature and a Choice Scarf, I’m not sure Bruxish can hang even in the mid tiers any more.
All that being said, Bruxish is a good Pokemon for your team for Water and Psychic type coverage. It looks terrible, sure, but it has actual competitive pedigree. It’s a shame that it’s no good as a utility type because its other abilities are actually solid, just not on this Pokemon. Strong Jaw is this Pokemon’s one saving grace. I mean, come on, a Psychic Fangs with over 190 power on a solid attack stat? That’s absolutely nuts.
In Generation 9, Game Freak actually gave Bruxish a new Water-type attack in Wave Crash, which was ported over from Legends Arceus. Unfortunately, this does a lot of recoil damage on 75 base power. It’s fine on Basculegion, but Bruxish just isn’t in a place to do enough to make losing all that HP worth it. Also, I appreciate they gave it another Psychic-type move in Psyshock, but it’s special, and it came at the cost of another special type Psychic move. Also, Bruxish lost Synchronoise, which had 120 base power, but again, it was a special move. Still, I appreciate that they actually do care about Bruxish.
To be fair, Bruxish does still see play in people playing Gen 7 OU on Pokemon Showdown. Granted, as of October 2022 it was a usage rate of 0.09%. But, that’s still something! Also, it’s technically still in Gen 8 National Dex RU, as it has a usage rate of 0.13%. So, people still love Bruxish, apparently. There was a mono-type Water team during Sun and Moon era featuring Bruxish that peaked at #5 on the ladder, too. Interestingly, that Bruxish didn’t run Strong Jaw, but rather Dazzling. The team also ran Mega Sharpedo, Skill Link Cloyster, Qwilfish, Seismitoad, and Pyukumuku,
What’s interesting about that team is that Cloyster, Qwilfish, and Pyukumuku are all in Scarlet and Violet. In Gen 9 Mono-type, Toxapex could fill the role of Seismitoad fairly well. Other Water-types we could consider for the team are Barraskewda and Masquerain. Eventually, we’ll also have access to Greninja, Kyogre, and Samurott from Pokemon HOME, according to the data-miners. There are some other strong Water type Pokemon we’ll be considering, too.
All in all, it looks like Bruxish could have a nice generation. Leaning further into either its Water or Psychic typing with a Tera Type could finally push it over the edge with the further 50 percent boost from Terastalizing. Of course, building a team around Bruxish is obviously a meme, but it could do a lot more damage than it ever has, so don’t count it out! Just be sure you know your Speed tiers to give Bruxish a chance to set up and have a chance to sweep.
Of course, if you don’t care at all about competitive Pokemon and just want a decent attacker for your team, you really can’t go wrong with Strong Jaw Bruxish.
Will you be using Bruxish in Scarlet and Violet?