Since I started playing Pokemon 20 years ago I have always figured that Speed is the most redundant stat, in that aside from attacking first, which in essence offsets battle by half a turn (one turn counting each Pokemon attacking in a single battle), it really has no role. However, many guides, user comments, tutorials, etc. have suggested that speed is a very crucial, if not the most crucial stat in the game. Why is this?
I understand the basic necessities of speed. A half turn could determine the fate of your battle, most definitely. There are also other effects that are given to moves that attack first, such as flinching effects, or moves that are stronger when the user's speed is faster. I get that. But aside from having a decent speed, I see users try to maximize their speed, on Pokemon that do not possess these kinds of moves. That is, 252 EVs, 31 IVs, and a speed boosting nature. And again, it all just seems so vestigial to me. What is so important about having a Pokemon that fast that you would be willing to give up EVs and nature for offensive or defensive stats?
I know this post seems ambiguous but I am genuinely confused. I don't consider myself an amateur Pokemon player; it's just this one trait that has always boggled my mind.