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January 26th, 2013 (8:50 AM).
Choice Band was the first Choice item, being introduced in RS. Its power boost was a god-send for many physical Pokemon, allowing them to bust through physical walls with less hassle, OHKO Pokemon that used to be able to switch in on them, and just in general wreck more. The locking effect of Choice Band was a downside, but considering that the only other held items that boosted power were type-specific, and only gave a pitiful 10% power boost, Choice Band became wildly popular.
Skip to DP, and Choice Band was still a popular item, but its usage had declined a good amount. The biggest reason for this would have to be the introduction of Life Orb. In theory, it seems Life Orb is infinitley better than Choice Band: Life Orb boosted the power of a Pokemon's attack by 1.3, only .2 less than Choice Band, boosts both Special and physical moves, and it also let the Pokemon switch moves instead of locking them in. In practice, this theory did not hold true. Life Orb also came with the nasty side effect of sapping 10% of the users HP everytime an attack is used, which severly cuts into the bulk of a Pokemon. Because Choice Band did not do this, bulky, slow Pokemon often went for it because it allowed them to retain their bulk and still hit hard. Even modertley fast Pokemon still used Choice Band because the extra .2 of power actually resulted in more KO's being made. Also, some Pokemon chose to use Choice Band because the power of their STAB moves are so great, they rarely find the need to switch moves, and would relish the extra oomph to their attacks. Common examples of such Pokemon were Metagross, Tyranitar, Heracross, Dragonite, Mamoswine, Scizor, and more.
Fast forward to BW, Choice Band hasn't gotten any worse. If anything, it's actually gotten better. The first thing that jumps to many people's mind when they see talk about Choice Band is either Haxorus or Terrakion. Haxorus, already having a stupidly high base Attack of 147, becomes a wrecking ball with Choice Band, his Outrage 2HKOing even most Steel-types not named Skarmory, Ferrothorn, or Forretress. Terrakion has STAB on Rock and Fighting, which pair up to form an absolutley amazing coverage combo, only being resisted by a handful of Pokemon. Unlike Haxorus, Terrakion has great Speed, which is all the rage in BW, and even has great bulk for switching in on attacks. Other Choice Band users include Landorus, Dragonite, Scizor, Metagross, Tyranitar, and Mamoswine.
Choice Specs, like Choice Scarf, was introduced in DP. Much like Choice Band, it faced plenty of competition from Life Orb, and just like with Choice Band, Choice Specs still ended up being used quite a bit. However, unlike with Choice Band, who's best users were mostly powerful, bulky, and slow (with a couple of exceptions), Choice Specs users were generally more frail. Of course, not all Choice Specs users were frail, but the general level of bulkiness was lower. The most obvious problem with Choice Specs came from the fat tub of lard herself, Blissey, she pretty much managed to wall Choice Specs users no problem, unless they happened to be running Trick, or, in rare cases, just 2HKOed Blissey. Choice Specs users who didn't fall into either criteria were still good, but not as much. Of course, if the opposing team didn't have a Blissey or it was killed, powerhouses such as Rotom-A, Magnezone, Starmie, and Zapdos wreaked havoc, while the death machine known as Heatran just incineriated everything, but bulky resists.
Jumping to BW, Choice Specs is seeing around the same amount of use, and some new faces are wearing it. Politoed is one of the most common due to Drizzle, which combines with Choice Specs to create a mostrously powerful Hydro Pump that just lays waste to even resistors. Latios is another common Choice Specs user, and for good reason. STAB Draco Meteor + base 130 Special Attack + Choice Specs = destruction. Hydreigon also employs Choice Specs to great effect. While Hydreigon seems outclassed by Latios, access to an actual Fire-type move, Focus Blast, and Pursuit resistance are more than enough to give Hydreigon a place in OU. Tornadus, while not being OU, is excellent as a Choice Specs user due to having a 120 base power STAB move that is 100% accurate in the rain AND has a 30% chance of confusion. Although it seems with the new powerful Choice Specs users, previous Specs users would be left in the dust, but old favourites such as Rotom-W, Lucario, Starmie, and Heatran are still itching to be used, ready to wreck teams once again.
The most obvious problem with Choice Band/Specs is the locking effect. It allows bulky resistors and immune Pokemon to simply walk in and do as the please. This means that a higher level of prediction is needed in order to effectively utilize Choice items. Havcing U-turn or Volt-switch on your Choice user if possible is always a great idea. It allows for scouting of switch-ins, and allows for a better response to be switched in. Trick is also a valuable tool, because being able to quickly and painlessly cripple a wall with a Choice Band/Specs is amazing, opening up sweeping options.
Sorry about the texty overview, buuut let's discuss!
Do you generally prefer Choice Band, or Choice Specs on competitive play? What do you think is the best Choice Band/Specs user and why? Are Choice Band and Specs more or less effective this gen?
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