Pokemon Sword and Shield

Salamence - Moveset & Best Build for Ranked Battle

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Salamence - Movesets and Counters.png

Salamence Movesets in Other Games
Pokemon Scarlet LogoSV Pokemon SWSH LogoSWSH

This is a strategy guide for using Salamence in competitive play for the games Pokemon Sword and Shield. Read on for tips on the best Nature, EV spreads, Movesets, and Held Items to use with Salamence, as well as its strengths and weak points.

Salamence - Related Guides
Pokemon SWSH - Salamence Evolution and LearnsetEvolution and Learnset Pokemon SWSH - Salamence Best BuildBuild for Ranked Battle

Basic Information for Salamence

Types and Abilities

Pokemon Type 1 Type 2
Pokemon Sword and Shield - Dragon Type Pokemon Sword and Shield - Flying Type
Intimidate Lowers the foe's Attack stat.
Moxie (Hidden) Boosts Attack after knocking out any Pokemon.

Salamence Weaknesses and Resistances

Takes 4x damage
Pokemon Ice Image
Takes 2x damage
Pokemon Rock Image Pokemon Dragon Image Pokemon Fairy Image
Takes 0.5x damage
Pokemon Fire Image Pokemon Water Image Pokemon Fighting Image Pokemon Bug Image
Takes 1/4x damage
Pokemon Grass Image
Takes 0x damage
Pokemon Ground Image

What is Type Effectiveness?

Base Stats

HP Attack Defense Sp. Atk Sp. Def Speed
95 135 80 110 80 100

Best Nature for Salamence

Best Natures
(+Spd, -Sp.Atk)
(+Spd, -Atk)

What are Natures?

Singles Movesets for Salamence

Lead Dynamax Sweeper Moveset & Best Build

Lead Dynamax Sweeper Salamence.png

Nature Jolly (+Spd, -Sp.Atk)
EV Spread ①: HP 4 / Atk 252 / Spd 252 (31 HP IVs)
②: Atk 252 / Def 4 / Spd 252 (28-29 HP IVs)
Final Stat Values ①: HP 171 / Atk 187 / Def 100 / Sp.Def 100 / Spd 167
②: HP 169 / Atk 187 / Def 100 / Sp.Def 101 / Spd 167
Ability Intimidate / Moxie
Held Item Life Orb
Lum Berry
Moveset Dragon Dance
Dual Wingbeat

NOTE: when holding Life Orb, it will take 1 extra damage each time it attacks when it has 31 HP IVs. It's best to use a Salamence with 28-29 HP IVs.

Salamence makes a great Dynamax sweeper thanks to its Flying typing, allowing it to use Max Airstream with STAB. It can also decrease the opponent's Attack with Max Wyrmwind, allowing to handle itself in a punch-out with another Dynamax sweeper.

Both of its abilities are potent, with Intimidate granting it effectiveness in switch-heavy battles, and Moxie the better choice for a setup like Stealth Rock + Dynamax sweep.

About Salamence's Moves

Dragon Dance boosts Salamence's Attack and Speed by one stage, letting it outspeed its usual checks such as Garchomp. Dual Wingbeat is its main STAB move; not only is it a strong physical Flying-type STAB that breaks Substitute and Sturdy, it also becomes Max Airstream during Dynamax.

Outrage is its secondary STAB, and is a powerful move with good neutral coverage. With one Dragon Dance, it's capable of severely damaging or even outright KO Pokemon that don't have resists or an immunity to it. It's last move is Earthquake, and is an important coverage move that lets Salamence hit Steel-types for super effective damage.

Other Viable Moves

Fire Fang For handling the likes of Ferrothorn and Scizor. When Dynamaxed, Max Airstream should be sufficient, so the Heatran-ready Earthquake is generally a better choice.

Special Sweeper Moveset & Best Build

Special Sweeper Salamence.png

Nature Timid(+Spd, -Atk)
EV Spread ①: HP 4 / Sp.Atk 252 / Spd 252 (31 HP IVs)
②: Atk 252 / Def 4 / Spd 252 (28-29 HP IVs)
Final Stat Values ①: HP 171 / Def 100 / Sp.Atk 162 / Sp.Def 100 / Spd 167
②: HP 169 / Def 100 / Sp.Atk 162 / Sp.Def 101 / Spd 167
Ability Intimidate
Held Item Life Orb
Choice Scarf
Choice Specs
Moveset Draco Meteor
Fire Blast
Hydro Pump

NOTE: when holding Life Orb, it will take 1 extra damage each time it attacks when it has 31 HP IVs. It's best to use a Salamence with 28-29 HP IVs.

The classic Special Attacking Salamence from Generation IV makes a return in Sword and Shield, and is a great alternative to the usual physical attacking sets that can surprise its usual checks and counters.

Due to advantages like its higher base Attack compared to Special Attack and its access to Dragon Dance, Salamence is frequently run as a physical attacker, so this set can break an opponent's expectations.

About Salamence's Moves

Draco Meteor is Salamence's strongest STAB move, severely damaging or knocking out Pokemon that don't resist or are immune to it. It avoids the restriction of Outrage, making it a superior choice overall.

Fire Blast hits Steel and bulky Grass-types for super effective damage, while Hydro Pump hits physically defensive Ground-types that often switch into Salamence, such as Hippowdon and Landorus (Therian Forme). Hurricane also has the potential of confusing the target. All these points combined grant Special Salamence a variety of advantages which its Physical counterpart lacks.

About Salamence's Ability

Intimidate is the better choice for this build as it lets Salamence switch into physical attackers easier, with its ability softening the blow of their physical moves.

Other Viable Moves

Hurricane A stornger Flying-type STAB that you can use to replace Air Slash if running Salamence in a Rain Team.
Heat Wave A more accurate alternative to Fire Blast that is a better choice if running Salamence in Doubles.
Air Slash An alternative to Hurricane with the advantages of higher accuracy and a chance of causing flinching.

How to Use Salamence Effectively

A Lead Dynamax Sweeper

Like Gyarados, Salamence is an effective lead Dynamax Pokemon thanks to its Moxie Ability and access to Max Airstream. The Dragon Pokemon's higher attack means it has the ability to KO a wide selection of common leads in the Metagame, which can work to your advantage as it gets stronger as it KOs more Pokemon.

A Great Mixed Attacker

Salamence is one of the better mixed attacking sweeper as it has access to one important coverage move - Hydro Pump. This move lets it beat Landorus, the ever-present all-round counter to all physical sweepers.

The mixed attacking set is especially effective at checking Landorus, as it can feint a physical attacking set with Dragon Dance and do chip damage with its physical moves, and then surprise Landorus with a Hydro Pump afterwards.

How to Build a Team with Salamence

Salamance is a staple in Hyper Offense teams, and while it no longer has the top spot for main physical attacker, it's now a popular lead thanks to its newly acquired physical flying move - Dual Wingbeat.

Use it as a Lead Dynamax Sweeper

While it faces some competition from Lead Dragonite, Salamence is better suited for a more direct and aggressive playstyle thanks to its Moxie Ability.

Team Options for Salamence

Salamence ImageSalamence Metagross ImageMetagross Landorus (Therian Forme) ImageLandorus (Therian Forme)
Lead Dynamax Choice Band Sweeper Defensive Pivot
Tapu Fini ImageTapu Fini Gengar ImageGengar Galarian Zapdos ImageGalarian Zapdos
Hazard Cleaner Special Sweeper Back Up Physical Sweeper

As a Dynamax Lead, Salamance plays an important role supporting its team with a +1 Speed Boost from Max Airstream.

Metagross, in particular, appreciates the speed boost and synergizes well with Salamance as it can threaten Salamance's Fairy checks and counters.

Check out our article below to learn how to build a Hyper Offense team.
How to Build an Offensive Team | Best Hyper Offense Team

Counters for Salamence

Weakness Pokemon Ice Image Pokemon Rock Image Pokemon Dragon Image Pokemon Fairy Image

Check it With a Faster Sweeper

Salamance's bast 100 speed seems good on paper, but is relatively mediocre compared to the faster sweepers that are now very common in the current Metagame. Using a faster sweeper, especially Choice Scarf users, forces Salamence to switch or risk getting KO'd.

Best Pokemon to Use

Pokemon Description
Pokemon SWSH - Garchomp ImageGarchomp Ranking: ★★★★★
・Naturally outspeeds Salamence and easily KOs with Outrage
・Choice Scarf variants can outrun +1 Speed Salamance

Moveset & Best Build for Garchomp
Pokemon SWSH - Dragapult ImageDragapult Ranking: ★★★★★
・Naturally outspeeds Salamence and easily KOs with Outrage or Draco Meteor
・Modest or Adamant Dragapult can still outrun a +1 Speed Salamence

Moveset & Best Build for 'Counter'

Counter it With a Fairy Type

Salamence struggles against Fairy-types, especially bulky ones that can survive its coverage moves. These Pokemon, in turn, can threaten Salamence with a KO, force it to switch, or use it as setup fodder.

Best Pokemon to Use

Pokemon Description
Pokemon SWSH - Mimikyu ImageMimikyu Ranking: ★★★★★
・Immune to Outrage and can KO Salamence with Play Rough
Disguise lets it set up a Swords Dance or survive a hit from Iron Tail

Moveset & Best Build for Mimikyu
Pokemon SWSH - Tapu Fini ImageTapu Fini Ranking: ★★★★★
・Immune to Outrage and takes neutral damage from Iron Tail
・Takes little damage from Special Attacking variants
・Threatens Salamence with a burn from Scald or with Moonblast

Moveset & Best Build for Tapu Fini

Use Durable Pokemon

One possible countermeasure against Salamence is by simply letting it face tanky, durable Pokemon. Salamence cannot learn Taunt, so it will be easy to use status moves.

Best Pokemon to Use

Pokemon Description
Pokemon SWSH - Porygon2 ImagePorygon2 Ranking: ★★★★★
・Can copy Salamence's Intimidate with Trace.
Ice Beam will take advantage of 4x weakness to Ice-type moves.
・Can setup Trick Room.
Moveset & Best Build for Porygon2
Pokemon SWSH - Cresselia ImageCresselia Ranking: ★★★★
・Able to endure two Life Orb-boosted Max Airstreams.
Ice Beam will take advantage of 4x weakness to Ice-type moves.
・Can setup Trick Room.
Moveset & Best Build for Cresselia
Pokemon SWSH - Hippowdon ImageHippowdon Ranking: ★★★
・Holding Sitrus Berry is recommended.
・Can learn Yawn.
Be wary of Water- or Grass-type moves.
Moveset & Best Build for Hippowdon

Related Links

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