Inspired by the great (read: gay) Colin, I decided I was tired of arguing against the same inane crap over and over again. Thus, this post is born. ITT I place my definitive argument regarding Garchomp’s Suspect status, attempting to show the masses why Garchomp belongs in OU. Then, I’m going to link it in my sig and point to it whenever I see anybody says anything regarding Garchomp’s Uber status because I hate you all. I plan to go over virtually any remotely reasonable evidence people have suggested in the past “proves” Garchomp’s Uber status, so there should be no need for criticism. I am entertaining no more arguments, as the entire point of this “essay” is to be my comprehensive and definitive stance on the subject. Take it for what it is. My only hope is to further educate the newer users, or perhaps sway those not quite sure of themselves, so that Garchomp may roam free in the wild once more. Sadly, my effort is likely to be for naught... =-=-=-= At any rate, the freshest thing in everyone’s mind seems to be the current usage statistics, so it would be wise of me to start there. Many people seem to think Garchomp’s whopping 63.89% usage in the past month’s Stage 3 Suspect Test “proves” it is uber. After all, people use what works, right? Indeed, but there is likely a better explanation than Garchomp being overwhelmingly strong. The last full month Garchomp was allowed in OU was August 2008. (That long ago? Heh.) The top 10 usage for that month was... Garchomp - 54.74% Gengar - 45.38% Gyarados - 35.91% Metagross - 35.46% Lucario - 33.83% Deoxys-S - 31.85% Blissey - 31.79% Heatran - 31.06% Bronzong - 28.27% Infernape - 26.56% As we can see, Garchomp only slightly cracked 50% usage at the peak of its infamy. Gengar usage was also extremely high and we don’t even see a Pokémon with lower usage than current #1 OU standard (Scizor at 29.16%) until Bronzong at ninth. Keep in mind the above usage statistics are from nearly a year ago, pre-Platinum and before Latias was voted into OU. (Deoxys-Speed was also allowed, however, so perhaps Latias would only serve as a replacement to it.) So how does one explain Garchomp’s all-time high usage? By all accounts, Garchomp in the current Suspect test is weaker than ever. All the other suspects outspeed it, except Manaphy who has enough bulk to tank a hit and fire back with Ice Beam. Scizor’s emergence in Platinum is yet another potential revenge-killer and Outrage switch-in that didn’t previously exist. Platinum’s addition of Trick to practically everything has made Choice Scarf a more popular item in general, giving rise to even more revenge-killers. Indeed, Garchomp being exceedingly strong doesn’t appear to be the answer – it’s never been weaker. The most likely explanation for Garchomp’s massive usage on Suspect is simply because Garchomp is a suspect. Look at the January 2009 Suspect Test, when Latias was being tested for OU status, and what do you see? Latias is in over 50% of Suspect teams. Same with Latios in February. Same with Manaphy in March and April. (Manaphy didn’t quite crack 50% but it was still #1 in usage.) But then why is Garchomp used so much more than all the other Suspects now? That is not something I can definitively answer. Part of it may be that Garchomp is a former OU pokémon and people just miss using it. Maybe it stems from the fact that Garchomp is simply easier to fit into a team than the other Suspects, with its bulkiness and unique typing. Scizor’s emergence may have bolstered its relative numbers, since Garchomp fares better against it than the other suspects sans Manaphy. Nobody knows! What I do know is that it is not due to Garchomp’s supposedly “broken” power, as explained in the previous paragraph. =-=-=-= “LOL 102 BASE SPEED” People often rave about Garchomp’s great speed and cite it as a major reason as to why Garchomp is overpowered. Let’s take an objective look at this. We’ll make one of my favorite comparisons to prove my point. Salamence is a very good comparison to Garchomp because it also relies primarily on strong neutral attacks from its Dragon typing and it has a very close 100 Base Speed value. Salamence’s typing and Intimidate also give it ample opportunity to switch in and it’s also 4x weak to Ice. Salamence is also noted as being a very potent sweeper, “guaranteeing” kills in a similar fashion to Garchomp. So then, what does that +2 base Speed allow Garchomp to do that its Flying counterpart cannot? Excluding itself, the only thing it will do is avoid Speed ties from other Base 100 pokémon, including other Salamence. But how relevant is that? There are only six Pokémon in OU with a 100 Base Speed stat. They are: Celebi Jirachi Zapdos Tentacruel Flygon and Salamence To determine how often one of these Pokémon can even attempt a 50/50 with Salamence, we must look at the Speed EV breakdown people use on these Pokémon. From this past month’s statistics, May 2009, these are… Standard: | Celebi | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 48.0 | | Celebi | Speed EV | None | 24.5 | | Celebi | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 13.4 | | Celebi | Speed EV | Other (4) | < 8.5 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 44.9 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | Max | 27.0 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | None | 11.9 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 10.5 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | Other (2) | < 2.9 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 39.2 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | Max | 27.2 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | None | 12.7 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | Other (4) | < 7.3 | | Tentacruel | Speed EV | None | 80.1 | | Tentacruel | Speed EV | Max | 9.1 | | Tentacruel | Speed EV | Other (3) | < 5.0 | | Flygon | Speed EV | Max | 53.8 | | Flygon | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 31.3 | | Flygon | Speed EV | Other (4) | < 8.3 | | Salamence | Speed EV | Max | 66.4 | | Salamence | Speed EV | Very High (200+) | 11.4 | | Salamence | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 10.6 | | Salamence | Speed EV | Other (3) | < 4.7 | Suspect: | Celebi | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 52.1 | | Celebi | Speed EV | None | 32.9 | | Celebi | Speed EV | Other (3) | < 6.8 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 35.1 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | Max | 31.5 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 17.5 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | None | 11.9 | | Jirachi | Speed EV | Very High (200+) | 4.0 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 46.3 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | None | 21.8 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | Low (50-100) | 11.8 | | Zapdos | Speed EV | Other (3) | < 7.8 | | Tentacruel | Speed EV | None | 60.9 | | Tentacruel | Speed EV | Very Low (<50) | 36.4 | | Tentacruel | Speed EV | Low (50-100) | 2.8 | | Flygon | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 45.1 | | Flygon | Speed EV | Max | 31.4 | | Flygon | Speed EV | None | 12.4 | | Flygon | Speed EV | Other (2) | < 9.5 | | Salamence | Speed EV | Max | 59.9 | | Salamence | Speed EV | High (150-200) | 19.5 | | Salamence | Speed EV | Medium (100-150) | 11.8 | | Salamence | Speed EV | Other (2) | < 5.6 | As shown, virtually no Celebi, Zapdos, or Tentacruel ever run max Speed, making Garchomp’s extra Speed over Salamence completely irrelevant against them. Even so, only about 1/3 of Jirachi and Flygon run it and both carry Scarf as one of their most common items, which outspeed both Dragons anyway. (Leftovers is more common on Suspect Jirachi but Scarf is more common on Standard Jirachi and Flygon on both ladders.) Max Speed Zapdos is notable in Standard but has been non-existent in Suspect thus far. Indeed, Garchomp’s Speed over Salamence means almost nothing... except when talking about another Salamence or Garchomp! Everything else that Garchomp outspeeds, Salamence also outspeeds (and vice-versa). One must also not forget that even forcing a Speed tie only gives the opponent a 50/50 shot at stopping Salamence, not a guaranteed revenge kill. DD variants are also completely unphased, since one DD ensures Salamence outspeeds all Pokémon not using Choice Scarf or a priority move. =-=-=-= “Garchomp guarantees at least one kill per match, that’s broken!” First, let me get it off my chest that I hate when people state things in absolute terms. No Pokémon is ever “guaranteed” to kill anything. Garchomp is very likely to kill something but it is never 100% certain to get a kill every match. Now that I’ve said that, I will admit that, yes, Garchomp is very likely to kill something most of the time. However, it is hardly the only Pokémon that does so and, played against properly, should rarely garner more than one kill either. Let’s start with a Salamence comparison, again. The scary thing about Salamence is that it has great power from either spectrum, with a base Atk second only to Rhyperior, SpA equal to Latias, and access to both Outrage and Draco Meteor. Like SD ‘chomp, MixMence variants 2HKO virtually everything under the sun at essentially Garchomp-level Speed, as shown earlier. And it doesn’t need to boost! (Salamence is also far more versatile outside of this role, unlike Garchomp, but the focus here is on raw killing power.) How about DD Salamence? I mention this because I also often hear people decry Swords Dance as the reason Garchomp is so much better. Compared to Garchomp’s SD, DD Salamence sacrifices power against bulkier Pokémon to obtain the Speed necessary to beat many revenge killers, including these OU pokémon: Infernape Latias Gengar Starmie Azelf Dugtrio (soon to be UU/BL, oops!) Alakazam Jolteon Aerodactyl Ninjask Shaymin-S and Latios among suspects. All of these pokémon are fragile enough for either one to kill easily but SD Garchomp is not fast enough to avoid taking a hit from them where DD Salamence is. Most of them can deal heavy damage to Garchomp in a revenge killer role, especially Starmie and Latias. (Note: Weavile was not included due to its frequent use of Ice Shard. Dugtrio also possesses Sucker Punch but that is not a guaranteed kill and, more notably, Dugtrio traps only Garchomp among the two.) Likewise, Garchomp’s Swords Dance and/or its Ground STAB gives it the ability to OHKO some bulkier pokémon that are otherwise more likely to survive a hit from Salamence and fire back against. These include: Celebi, frequently carrying Grass Knot as its only damaging attack, which Salamence 4x resists. Jirachi Gliscor, frequently being set-up bait for Salamence anyway due to carrying EQ as its only damaging attack. Metagross Tyranitar Empoleon Swampert Blissey Rhyperior Dusknoir Manaphy among suspects, also notable for its 100 Base Speed to frequently force a Speed tie against Salamence. SD Garchomp also has a slight advantage against some really hardy tanks that neither one OHKO but outspeed regardless, like Suicune, Hippowdon, or Cresselia. That said, I don’t know where people got the idea that Swords Dance is significantly better than Dragon Dance. :/ As shown, both are roughly equivalent numerically. If one could choose, the better stat buff would depend only on which set of checks one wishes to remove – DD works better against fast offensive checks, SD work better against defensive checks. With that, I can safely say that DD Salamence is at least 98% as dangerous as SD Garchomp overall. :P And Salamence is the stronger of the two when unboosted. ... Sorry for kinda going on the whole DD/SD tirade, though it was still relevant to my point. At any rate, there are other pokémon notable for “guaranteeing” kills every match as well. Lucario is probably the most notable sweeper behind Salamence able to do such a thing, though Gengar is a strong universal check and it has a couple hard counters dependent on its filler attack. Speaking of which, Gengar is also well-known for kicking ass and taking names. Its ridiculous versatility usually allows it to finagle a kill and its Speed combined with Explosion or Destiny Bond practically assures it trades at worst. It can also disable yet another pokémon with Hypnosis. To avoid an exhaustive list, more obvious examples include any trappers or suicide users. Among other suspects, Specs Latios is absolutely ridiculous. =-=-=-= “Garchomp has no counters!” Indeed, Garchomp is simply too strong to have any true counters. That said, it does have a few reliable checks, unlike Salamence whose best check is... getting Stealth Rock up early. ;/ Like dealing with any pokémon, it’s best to know what you’re up against first. Scarfchomp? You’ll have difficulty revenge-killing it and it’s very dangerous in the late-game where your bulkier pokémon are more likely to be dead or weakened. That said, it’s much easier to wall than other sets due to its inability to threaten healthy walls, making it a liability early. Not significantly different from other Scarf Dragons. CBChomp? Very dangerous if you give the opponent a good opening to switch in due to its sheer power but, again, not significantly different from other CB Dragons. Easy to revenge kill and weaker in late-game due to being locked in but lacking Scarf’s Speed. SDChomp? User jrrrrrrrr likes to parrot the statement, “Garchomp kills one wall and cripples another.” That is exactly the wrong way to beat an SD Garchomp. Some good prediction can get you out unscathed but the reliable way to beat it is a sacrifice. It’s not as terrible as it sounds, since you basically choose which wall to sacrifice while crippling it and setting it an easy revenge kill from something faster or with priority. (It's certainly better than surprise Explosions killing the stuff you want to live.) This emphasizes balanced team-building; even a stall team needs a couple of faster pokemon, as sometimes Speed is the best defense. Don’t send in a second wall to finish the job unless it’s all you have left. SubSalac and other Sub/SD variants? Suffers greatly from “four moveslot syndrome.” It does sorta combine the power of normal SD Garchomp with the speed of DD Salamence but these typically carry only STAB attacks. The problem here is that Dragon Claw is significantly weaker than Outrage, so opting for it removes the “OHKO Factor” Garchomp is so infamous for. Opting for Outrage instead will stiff you against many Flying/Levitating pokémon, such as getting harmlessly stalled to confusion by Sub/Roost Zapdos or being thrown an Aerodactyl sacrifice (forcing you to Outrage and giving up the revenge kill for free afterward). Bronzong and Skarmory also counter these sets much easier than Garchomp carrying Fire attacks. Chain Chomp and other special variants? Useful only for the surprise factor, since Salamence does mixed or special sets far better with its much higher SpA. Everyone expects a Fire attack anyway, making the surprise only particularly useful for non-Steel walls (Draco Meteor), such as Gliscor and Hippowdon, both of which are almost nowhere to be seen on the Suspect Ladder. :/ More generally, Skarmory and Bronzong make reliable checks to Garchomp since they resist its Dragon attacks, avoid EQ, but are not instantly torn up by its supporting Fire attack. Skarmory can then Whirlwind SD Garchomp away for later, similar to how it soft countered Curselax in GSC (i.e. It is not a pure counter but can wall it for a while until it’s easier to handle later), and its Spikes are as damaging to Garchomp as SR is to Salamence or Gyarados. Bronzong can retaliate with a strong Gyro Ball or Explode. Bulky Gyarados is a good check that doesn’t fear much but CB Outrage or the rare Stone Edge. Gliscor handles everything it can do and even contests Garchomp’s Sand Veil with its own. All the standard checks work on Garchomp as well, Scizor, Suicine, Ice Shard users and so on. Additionally, the threat of a free switch-in against Earthquake makes Garchomp hesitant to use it, especially on Choice sets, meaning you can often sneak in an extra hit or two you “shouldn’t” be allowed, if it switched in on your T-Tar or whatever. Garchomp wants you to switch so he can set-up and avoid having to predict, he gets scared if you take free shots at him and then force him to predict afterward. ;) Toxic Spikes also cripples all varieties of Garchomp, often seen on stall teams specifically for that purpose though it also works on other things, such as T-Tar and Blissey. =-=-=-= And finally... “Sand Veil is what makes Garchomp uber!” I’ve admitted it before that Sand Veil is the biggest, perhaps only, thing that separates Garchomp from most any other sweeper. Indeed, Salamence doesn’t have a 20% chance of avoiding Mamoswine’s Ice Shard. However, I would argue that the effect of Sand Veil on its performance is vastly overrated. First, and most importantly, I must point out that Sand Veil isn’t even running half the time. Feel free to gander at Tyranitar’s Suspect usage for May and you’ll notice he’s only on about 25% of teams. Looking at the “Ladder teammates” statistics, Tyranitar is only used on 29.70% of teams containing Garchomp, only slightly higher than its overall usage. This means ~55% of battles never have Sand Stream running at all! (~52% including Hippowdon, who’s barely seeing use.) Even a battle against two players both running Garchomp, Sand Stream is only up ~50.6% of the time, barely half. Secondly, I would point out that utilizing Garchomp’s ability requires Sand Stream to run effectively. There’s two problems with this. The first problem is that, if one wants to support Sand Veil, a second team slot has to be sacrificed to fit either Hippowdon or Tyranitar. Luckily these are both very good pokémon, making the accommodation easy to build around if one chooses, but do keep in mind that Sand Veil doesn’t work by itself. The other problem is that Sand Stream mucks with all sorts of other team-building aspects. It will nullify the Leftovers on most of your defensive pokémon (e.g. Blissey, Celebi) and increase the residual damage taken by many of your offensive pokémon who might be using other items. (e.g. Scarfgar, LO Infernape, Specsmence.) Most common Focus Sash users are ruined, though you can still put it on Aerodactyl or something. You also help opposing Gliscor, if that’s a wall your team otherwise has trouble with. (For one, it walls both Garchomp and standard T-Tar. :P) Sand Stream is really something you have to build your team around, to mitigate the problems it can cause non-immune team members, which is a lot more restrictive than the initial requirement of simply throwing Hippo/T-Tar in a second slot. And, according to the usage stats, a good 2/3 of people prefer not having to build around SS. Its presence is common enough that Moonlight Cresselia isn't looking to become standard any time soon but it's not as omnipresent as people make it out to be. Of course, my final point of contention is that, even if you do build around SS, Sand Veil is still only 20%. (Spamming Substitute fishing for misses isn’t really a valid strategy either, since the self-damage from Substitute replaces the life potentially saved from an extra miss.) But yeah, 20%, or ~10% if you average it against Sand Stream frequency. Sure, it sucks when your Mamoswine dies or your Scizor gets crippled because of an untimely miss, but luckily it doesn’t happen that often. It’s not even close to the level of hax Jirachi, Shaymin-s, Togekiss can put out. The 50/50 speed ties people hold over Salamence's head are just that, only 50%. It happens as often as Kingdra misses a clutch Hydro Pump or, accounting for SS frequency, as often as your Latias would’ve missed Draco Meteor anyway. :P Hell, don’t get me started on Meteor Miss or other innately inaccurate moves frequently used... At any rate, it is an admitted minor advantage for Garchomp, an advantage off-set by the previous issue of having to build around Sand Stream in the first place. Okay, I lied, that’s not quite it. I also wanted to point out that Sand Veil isn’t entirely uncounterable, though it’s a very minor point. :P Aura Sphere works, if you’re using a goofy Scarf Togekiss or something to outspeed Garchomp, and Machamp can be EVed bulky enough to take a hit if it really must. Weather teams removing Sand Stream are more viable, especially Abomasnow’s Snow Warning or Rain teams whose entire teams largely keep T-Tar and Hippo cowering in their pokéballs. Of course, through all of this, I’m not saying Garchomp is a bad pokémon. Hell, long before it was even banned I was calling it the best pokémon in OU. Nothing can really match its combination of bulkiness, speed, and power, though some pokémon that come close would include Salamence, Gyarados, maybe Heracross. Lucario substitutes bulkiness with amazing resists and augments its average speed with a priority move. (Most of the other “bulky sweepers” are not so fast, like Metagross, and most faster sweepers are very frail.) Its resistances make it very easy to fit into a team, notably the resistance to indirect damage from SS and SR. Garchomp is very good, it just isn’t broken good.