The Embrace Pokémon uses powerful psychic attacks
This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.
The twentieth character guide in the Trainer’s School series (an important milestone! We’ve done twenty of these and there’s only three left!) is all about Gardevoir, the Embrace Pokémon. Gardevoir is a Psychic-type Pokémon from the third generation of RPGs, who retroactively received a Fairy sub-typing in generation six. Gardevoir is known for being willing to give her own life to defend her trainer… but fortunately, the stakes aren’t as high here in a sanctioned tournament setting. In Pokkén Tournament, Gardevoir is a quintessential zoner who makes use of a variety of psychic projectiles to shoot her opponent down from afar.
Playstyle: A very straightforward zoner with a handful of setplay options. Filling the screen with a variety of projectiles forces her opponents to cautiously chicken-block as they approach.
Values: 540 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 150cc Synergy Gauge.
Poké Moves: Psyshock (Duel 5A, Field n.A,) Calm Mind (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Stored Power (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Moonblast (]A[) Magical Leaf (j.A,) Future Sight: Low and Future Sight: High (Duel only, 2A and 8A respectively.) When using Calm Mind, the move can be cancelled into other special moves: Dazzling Gleam (Duel 4AA, Field b.AA,) Energy Ball and Energy Ball: Diffuse (Duel 4AY/4AYY, Field b.AY/b.AYY,) Psychic (Duel 4AX, Field b.AX,) and Teleport (Duel 4AB, Field b.AB.)
High Stance: Heals back dark green health.
Low Stance: Invincible against high-hitting moves.
Unique Features: The trajectory of Teleport can be changed with a cardinal directional input. Magical Leaf changes properties between Phases: in Field, it’s a set of homing leaves much like Sceptile Field j.Y, but in Duel, it’s a long projectile attack that can be angled by holding either 2 or 8. Energy Ball: Diffuse will also travel in a different trajectory in Field and Duel- in Field, the smaller projectiles travel horizontally, and in Duel, they will travel vertically. Gardevoir has increased air mobility during normal jumps- she can move forward and backward during a neutral jump, she can halt her trajectory of a forward or a backward jump by inputting the opposite direction, or she can increase her jump distance by continuing to input the same direction. A grab in Duel Phase will put Gardevoir in the air, letting her begin Field Phase with aerials. Gardevoir can Float (j.R,) a pseudo-double-jump whose trajectory can be changed or cancelled into aerials. Gardevoir has a Midair Counter Attack (j.X+A,) a counter-armored divekick that can be Float cancelled. Calm Mind grants Gardevoir up to three stacks that can be spent on enhancing Stored Power. Moonblast can be forward dash cancelled.
Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.
Gardevoir, much like Chandelure, is a very pure and straightforward zoner. One of the main differences, however, is that while nearly all of Chandelure’s projectiles are immediate and must be avoided right away, Gardevoir makes use of lingering projectiles like Energy Ball, traps like Future Sight, and mixups out of Calm Mind to make her zoning unpredictable. Gardevoir also has her own set of unique aerial movement along with being the only character in the roster who can do Midair Counter Attack, which can lead to fakeouts or whiffs on the ground. Several of her most powerful and useful moves are either counter-pierces or simply difficult to armor through, which often forces opponents to walk-and-block or perhaps exploit their specific anti-zoning tools to approach rather than the universal CADC system option. Overall, Gardevoir is a character who can frustrate many newbie opponents (and even several mid-to-high level opponents) by forcing them to play by her rules.
Pause! Remember to Calm your Mind
Calm Mind in both Phases is a very useful tool that grants access to different projectiles, an armored reversal, and an escape option. You should be prepping Calm Mind in neutral at mid-to-far range whenever possible in order to spam your opponent with Psychic and Energy Ball. Despite these projectiles both being very slow, their variable properties make your opponent’s approach very cautious. Psychic, for instance, is a whopping +38 on block and will stun the opponent if they get hit by the explosion. Energy Ball, on the other hand, is useful whether you manually Diffuse it or not. Contact with a projectile causes Energy Ball to explode automatically, sending homing projectiles after the opponent. The Diffuse projectiles cover a wide part of the screen and are +3 on block, giving you plenty of time to set up more zoning. The properties of Teleport and Dazzling Gleam are self explanatory- use the former to escape and punish your opponent with your aerial mixups (which we’ll explain a little bit in each respective Phase) or use Dazzling Gleam for the counter armor. On top of all of this, Calm Mind will enhance your Stored Power special move by up to three levels, turning it from a standard launcher that’s even on block to an incredibly damaging, more powerful launcher that can be a whopping +20 depending on stages and how the opponent blocks. Use Calm Mind often!
Gardevoir has a lot of space to slide around and harass her opponent at range in Field Phase, and she can fill the screen with numerous hitboxes to make their approach miserable. Your n.Y and s.Y are uniquely powerful in that they can be cancelled into other light moves- in particular, they will automatically cancel into f.Y when mashing. F.Y is an insanely powerful move that, when charged, will counter pierce and stun, meaning that you can punish your opponent for attempting to CADC the first projectile by making them eat the charged f.[Y]. B.Y is a similar projectile adjusted for anti-air properties, and can likewise be charged to add counter-pierce and increase your anti-air invulnerability. J.Y is another similar set of arrows, but unlike the other two moves, they cannot be charged for pierce properties. However, j.Y does cover an exceptionally wide spread, more so than other characters often can, making it very useful for stopping opponents on the ground.
Field Phase Magical Leaf and Midair CA, in combination with Float and your extended jump distances, greatly enhances your aerial stalling capability. Magical Leaf can be cancelled into aerials, including Float, at any point in the move (although cancelling partway through the move will only create half of the homing leaves.) As previously mentioned, Midair CA can likewise be cancelled with Float, a similar input to regular CADC (only lacking the dash input.) Magical Leaf into Float will send you higher, often making your opponent’s anti-air whiff due to mistiming or simply being too low. Likewise, you can use Midair CAFC to armor through any anti-airs and then retaliate with j.Y. After a Float cancel, out of either Midair CA or Magical Leaf, you can only go into either j.Y or j.X. J.Y will earn you a shift from the air, while j.X is a fast (but somewhat punishable) divekick. Both of these moves can be angled with a forward or back press as well, improving your mixup potential and allowing you to hit opponents closer or further away from you.
While Gardevoir still has access to a lot of arrow-shaped normals, she trades several of them for hyper-specific close range tools, a set of different projectiles, and Future Sight. Your projectile normals in Duel consist of 8Y, 4Y, and 2X. The counter-piercing, low-hitting 2X will be one of the most frustrating tools for your opponent to deal with, and, much like 4Y, must be jumped or blocked (or passed through with some low-invuln character-specific property.) Naturally, this leaves your opponents wide open for your 8Y anti-air arrows, which will also counter-pierce when charged. Once your opponent is knocked down or knocked away, you can then set up your Future Sight traps. Both the High and Low Future Sight traps can be angled closer or further away as needed, and since they’re invisible, knowledge of their impact frames is necessary in order to avoid them. You can further enhance this keepaway pressure by adding Psychic and Energy Ball to the mix, keeping your opponent in blockstun and letting you continue your pressure. Of course, this pattern doesn’t even acknowledge the rest of your projectiles, like Moonblast, Psyshock, and the various levels of Stored Power.
Your other, non-projectile normals are essentially designed to punish opponents who commit to an option that gets them through your other projectiles. 5Y…, 2Y, and 8X are your fastest and safest normals, being i15 and -4 to -8. 2Y is also a low sweep that will avoid highs and lead to small combo opportunities (which we’ll discuss later.) 8X is an overhead that will avoid lows and is your best throw crush. The rest of your moves are laggier normals that will mainly be used to punish from midrange, such as 6Y’s knockdown, 5X’s combo starter, and 6X launcher. 4X gets a special mention due to its counter-piercing properties and its strange enhancements when charged. All stages of 4X counter-pierce and are relatively safe (despite being i35 or greater, you are at worst -4 on block.) However, continuing to charge the move will make it even more plus and you can do up to 180 damage in a single swing. There are obviously very few situations where you can set this full charge up, but much like Croagunk’s Miguel punch, it’ll be really funny if you land it.
Much like in Field Phase, you can achieve a bit of goofy aerial stalling in Duel, but the recipe is a bit different this time due to how Duel Phase Magical Leaf functions. You can still perform Midair CAFC into either j.Y or j.X, but you cannot go into Magical Leaf after. Magical Leaf itself is a giant beam that can be angled for range, but cannot be cancelled at all, unlike its Field Phase counterpart. On the other hand, you can now Float cancel j.Y, which will let you go into Midair CA, Magical Leaf, or j.X. To top it all off, you can only get one Float cancel per sequence, to prevent you from air stalling forever. Your j.X divekick is also much safer in Duel Phase, being i21 and only -4, making it a better option after a Float cancel than it would be in Field. Otherwise, your sequence is mainly going to be j.Y, Float cancel, then Magical Leaf if you’re zoning, or CAFC into j.Y or j.X if you’re armoring through anti-airs.
Gardevoir’s Burst Gauge is only 150cc, but her transformation into Mega Gardevoir lasts for a whopping 16 seconds, far longer than most Burst activations do. She also gains several enhancements that greatly aid her ability to zone out her opponents. Mega Gardevoir gains the following buffs during Burst Mode:
- Midair Counter Attack becomes safer on block- more specifically, it’s now even, up from being -20 normally.
- 6X also becomes safer on block, being -12 instead of -16.
- Field n.Y and Duel j.Y fire additional projectiles.
- Moonblast will now fire a wave of horizontal arrows in Field, and vertical arrows in Duel.
- Calm Mind grants two charges instead of one.
- Future Sight’s hitbox is increased.
Overall, Mega Gardevoir’s ability to fill the screen with obnoxious projectiles increases drastically and lasts for a long time. While your 6X buff is less useful (since many characters have i11 moves,) your Midair CA becomes much more powerful as an armored divekick. The double n.Y projectile makes it harder to armor through, allowing you to setup counter-pierces with f.Y easier. Furthermore, j.Y and Moonblast’s ability to harass your opponents from basically every angle, along with the extended hitboxes of Future Sight, seriously inhibits your opponent’s ability to approach. Calm Mind granting more stacks naturally makes Stored Power stronger as well. Mega Gardevoir’s Burst Attack, Fairy Tempest, is an i15 counter-piercing orb-like projectile that is invincible on frame 5 and -4 on block. If the orb hits point blank, you will be able to trigger the full super animation. If not, the projectile will travel outward quickly, and then launch the opponent into a hard knockdown. Its frame data and strength are better than most comparable projectile supers, so even if it’s not activated it’s still very useful.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Gardevoir and Chandelure fill a similar niche as far as zoners in Pokkén are concerned. However, where Chandelure mostly focused on playing around buffs and debuffs in order to increase her damage, Gardevoir focuses on filling the screen with projectiles that must be blocked or otherwise carefully avoided with specific tools. Eventually, either your opponent will get hit and eat all of your projectile spam, or they’ll take immense amounts of chip damage and you can just throw them. Gardevoir is excellent at controlling her opponent’s movement, and also has additional air stalling of her own. Unfortunately, since her only reversal options are the extremely telegraphed Calm Mind > Dazzling Gleam and her CA, Gardevoir is extremely susceptible to safe counter-pierce setups up close, and her normals in general don’t offer much help either. Players who can play around the knowledge checks and successfully navigate Gardevoir’s zoning, particularly with top tier characters who have excellent mobility to begin with such as Sceptile, Gengar and Mewtwo, can be difficult for Gardevoir to deal with. On the other hand, Gardevoir can lock out characters who rely heavily on CADC approaches, like Blaziken, Empoleon, and Scizor rather easily.
Support and Cheer Pairings
Gardevoir gets a lot of mileage out of the Mismagius-Nintales Set. Mismagius’ Attack buff and forward-travelling projectile will beat counters, extend some esoteric combos, and set up a lot of pressure on block. Nintales’ Will-O-Wisp is a valuable trap that you can throw up much like Future Sights and the rest of your slow-moving projectiles in order to inhibit your opponent’s progress. Dragonite’s Draco Meteor is another useful Support, increasing your already powerful block pressure, especially when your opponent is pushed into the corner. (And of course, you can’t go wrong with Victini’s crit buff.) As always, Umbreon and Fennekin are really great reversals that can cover you if someone manages to get in on you and you can’t set up your counters- take Fennekin if you also value Emolga, or Umbreon if you want to debuff your opponent hard. Standard, Special, and Support Cheers are all useful depending on what you value out of your meter gain.
These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.
Here are a few easier combos that don’t necessarily rely on optimization with things like Supports or EX Stored Power. Since your main damage output with Gardevoir is mainly via her great zoning tools, you will mainly only be earning combos on reaction or as whiff-punishes. It’s still good to get these down, though.
[CA]/Crit CA (begin holding A) 2Y 2Y ]A[
6X 2Y 5YYY 5A
6Y 4AYY 5X 6A
For the first combo: If you’re not getting Moonblast when ending the combo, you are probably releasing A too early (or maybe you didn’t even keep it primed during the 2Y string.) For the second combo: your damage at the end can obviously be enhanced based on how many Calm Mind stacks you have, but the combo itself has Calm Mind in it, so you will always be guaranteed to burn at least one stack with the Stored Power ender.
Gardevoir is a very straightforward zoner who can control the screen with wide-spreading, slow-moving projectiles and invisible traps, all of which are difficult to approach through. Many of her arrows in Field combo into each other and counter pierce or cover a large part of the stage, greatly inhibiting typical CADC and Homing Attack approaches. In Duel, Gardevoir has additional projectiles that can trip up opponents, get-off-me close-range normals, and Future Sight traps that can make a forward approach terrifying for most characters. In both Phases, j.Y, Midair CAFC, Magical Leaf, and Float cancelling give Gardevoir a unique air stalling mechanic that also makes her difficult to anti-air. Gardevoir can also make use of Calm Mind to continue filling the screen with hitboxes, or warp and reversal away from harm, all the while enhancing her Stored Power special move. Mega Gardevoir has even better zoning, a safer Midair CA, and a powerful Burst Attack projectile. While her playstyle is exceptional at locking down characters who rely on forward movement or system options such as CADC, Gardevoir is still vulnerable to some counter-zoning and characters with their own unique options that allow them to maneuver around her projectile spam. Gardevoir greatly appreciates projectile Supports that bolster her ability to keep her opponents from approaching.
That’s it for the Gardevoir guide! Can you believe there’s only three more characters left before the Trainer’s School series is wrapped up? The rest of these characters have very complex toolkits that reward studious players. The next lesson will focus on this game’s first DLC character, widely considered to be one of the best characters in the game even after subsequent nerfs: the Royal Sword Pokémon, Aegislash!