I know this is going to seem like some joke. For years, Ho-oh has been regarded as one of the gods of Pokémon, complete with one of those insane 154-base stats. But is it really deserving of that title, especially now that Stealth Rock puts a huge burden on it, enough so that it is never even used in the Uber environment (a place where Stealth Rock is even less common)? I brought this topic up on the Smogon Shoddy chat last night, an hour before I was due to go to bed, so I was pretty distracted and couldn’t get all the thoughts I will show here down into discussions. Anyway, though a couple of people were open-minded enough to see my points (and the people that didn’t hardly deserve to be called close-minded, of course), most people probably thought I was some noob who didn’t know what he was talking about. Don’t let the fact I’m new make anybody treat me differently; I’ve been lurking in the Smogon forums for months and I should hope that by now I know what I’m talking about, along with who a lot of you are. Back to the point, I didn’t have time to think last night, but now I have given this more thought and come up with some far better arguments. I ended up in a battle against kd24 where he used a Ho-oh set he thought to be broken against me to show me how broken it was; this set was Sacred Fire / Earthquake / Thunderbolt / Ancientpower @ Life Orb, if I remember correctly, though I’ve no idea on the EV spread. I will go into detail on this set and why I am certain that it is not broken later, but for now I need to get down to business… (By the way, I did end up losing after having four battle worn members of my team picked off at the end by a ScarfZapdos, but given the chance to go back in time I think I could have won, as I will explain later on) What got Garchomp pushed up to Uber? It was the lack of counters. But Ho-oh isn’t in that situation; it has 130 base attack, 110 base special attack, and 90 base speed. Offensively, this Pokémon is not going to be ripping holes in the metagame. Garchomp had 130 attack and 102 speed, along with a way to ramp that up to painful heights, namely Swords Dance. Ho-oh has none of that, and the only way it can put any boost on its power is through items. The Choice Band set and its flaws are very clear; it can be walled by many things in our metagame, some of which are able to use it to their advantage to punish the opponent’s team, and Ho-oh is forced to turn on its heels and switch out upon seeing one of these walls. The best counter for this set I could think of too quickly is none other than our favourite BL disappointment, Rhyperior. The only problem Rhyperior could possibly have with switching in would be a burn from Sacred Fire, but its Stone Edge could still do a hell of a lot back to it even with a burn. Rhyperior also has two more fantastic weapons to make CBHo-oh’s life hell: Stealth Rock and Roar. Come in on Ho-oh and set up Stealth Rock as this old Uber’s attacks do nothing more than bounce off its impressive 115 / 130 defences, and yes, with help from Solid Rock you can be sure that Earthquake won’t be too much of a problem either. Using Roar means that their switch to a Rhyperior counter or Rapid Spinner will be met with another switch and more SR damage, especially if Ho-oh comes back and takes the 50% health loss. Rhyperior is just an example; Swampert is probably even better thanks to its ability to use specially based moves to hit it SE, and the Roar / Stealth Rock combo. Skarmory can come in on any move other than Sacred Fire and use that combo. And here’s one interesting counter to this Uber’s most recommended set: your generic bulky water. Sacred Fire can burn, which is nothing but protection from status and in Milotic’s case a 50% defence boost thanks to Marvel Scale. Suicune gets a free Calm Mind (and this is one thing that would probably go up in usage if Ho-oh was really that good), and Swampert could get a free Curse. There are plenty of other counters and I’m not going to list them, they aren’t hard to find. So a purely physical Ho-oh is not much better than a lot of other physical attackers, basically. Next we move onto special Ho-oh. Choice Specs Ho-oh is barely even worth using, with its only significant advantage over others being its bulkiness. It would be much like a Choice Specs Vaporeon. This is walled even more easily, 110 base special attack isn’t that exciting even by OU standards, and Blissey switches in for free and can set up its nemesis Stealth Rock, or attack it directly. I’m not even going to go into details with this, it’s no better than any other Choice Specs user. The Calm Minder is a weak choice for one. Its special defence is already high so being able to buff it up a bit doesn’t make a big difference. Most Calm Minders ideally are able to take a lot of hits on the physical side, but your average Stone Edge is an OHKO on even a very defensive Ho-oh (see damage calcs at the bottom of post). In addition, Ho-oh just can’t function like other Calm Minders – if it opts to go for Roost/Recover, status effects like Toxic totally shut it down; if it opts to go for Rest instead, horrible things will follow after it (Stealth Rock + Roar, Stone Edge, Psych Up, etc.); if it opts to go for a mono-attacking sleep talker, it is easily walled. Unlike Water, Fire is never a good type to mono with thanks to Pokémon like Heatran being able to render it totally pointless. I don’t think I need to go on any further with this, either – Calm Mind Ho-oh would probably not break the metagame. Next I come onto a set I have been wanting to talk about ever since my last match: Mix-Ho-oh. It is easily walled if it goes physical, and special ones are fairly easy to deal with too, so going half way between them looks, as kd24 suggested, to be its most broken option in the OU environment. I’ll start with the option of a mixed Choice Scarfer – it gets some revenge and surprise kills, sure, but it’s fairly easy to predict and does hardly any damage to any good mixed wall. People would not stop using Heatran, despite its smaller movepool, because it is so much more reliable. It takes 44% less from Stealth Rock and it can explode on problem Pokémon. Onto the Life orb set… when it was brought up last night, I could only think up two counters to Sacred Fire / Earthquake / Thunderbolt / Ancientpower, Hariyama and Swampert, so I remember somebody saying “so every team is going to need one of those two now?” Well, no, not at all. In the battle I had last night I was switching a lot depending on what move I predicted it would use next, not realising that the whole time I already had two counters to it on my team. Stealth Rock and Toxic Spikes piled up on me and by the time Ho-oh fell my team was incredibly weak. But I could have done so much better: Umbreon and Hariyama were already on my team. Hariyama took only 37%-ish from a Thunderbolt and went on to Whirlwind it out, and I never even considered Umbreon. But Umbreon is a fantastic counter to that set, being able to drop Toxic poison on it and Stall it to death with Wish and Protect. There are far more than two counters to this set, and I will list a few. Thunderbolt is clearly there to deal with Bulky Waters, but it needs a SpA boosting nature and 252 EVs to actually win on that front. Standard Vaporeon, for example, takes 62-72% damage from a Life Orb Ho-oh’s Thunderbolt, but by switching to a Calm nature and giving its Defence EVs to Special Defence instead, it now only takes 44.42% - 52.23%, so it can easily win with the combination of Toxic, Wish and Protect, despite actually having a weakness to one of the key moves. A specially defensive Milotic isn’t 2HKO’d either and can also stall it effectively, so even Bulky Waters can outstall it, despite T-bolt weakness. When Sandstorm is running, a hundred new counters suddenly appear: Rhyperior walls this Ho-oh even better than CBHo-oh and can deal with it in the same way (ss is just extra help), Swampert again is a great choice, Regirock takes pathetic damage from it, S-stormShuckle takes barely any damage even from Ancientpower and can stall well with Toxic (takes some damage from Sacred Fire so maybe not the best counter), Cresselia takes nothing at all and gets set-up back with Charge Beam and Calm Mind, Cradily walls it in Sandstorm, Salamence can switch into anything but Ancientpower and outspeed / OHKO with Stone Edge… there’s plenty of counters all over the place. Speaking of Salamence, its 135 / 110 / 100 (speed) offensive stats are better than Ho-oh’s (130 / 110 / 90), and its superior movepool choices and STAB on the near-unresisted Dragon type make it a far superior mixed attacker, even with much smaller defenses. Putting Roost on that Ho-oh’s set deals with the residual damage issue but makes it easy to wall and doesn’t do anything about Toxic. So, that’s another set that’s perfectly counterable… and one of the biggest opposing arguments sunk. Ho-oh’s 106 / 154 defences on the special side certainly look very appealing, but Ho-oh could never be a Special Wall. With weaknesses to Water and Electric, most bulky Pokémon of one those types that can stat up will still overpower Ho-oh eventually. Almost everybody who would want to be walling special attacks would choose something like Snorlax or Blissey over Ho-oh, especially when Snorlax can actually take physical hits well too after a couple of Curses. Sure, Ho-oh does have pretty impressive Defence too (base 90), but this makes it little more than a mixed wall, which there are many. Considering how killable it could be with 4x Rock weakness, one unique thing it has going for it is that it can actually hit back quite effectively, especially when it has Sacred Fire and its decent chance to cut a physical attacker’s strength in half. However, relying on Sacred Fire to deal with your physical threats is not at all reliable, just as relying on Sing to disable your opponents will frequently backfire. The problem with Ho-oh as a wall is that though it can keep some threats in check, getting support options instead of attacking options makes Ho-oh very easy to wall. The combination of Sacred Fire and Earthquake or Sacred Fire and Thunderbolt would be an invitation for a lot of horrible things to come in and set up, even if your fourth move was Whirlwind. As a wall, Ho-oh isn’t broken in the slightest, and I should hope you all agree. If you still think its defences on the physical side could make it a good physical wall despite them being significantly lower than those on the other side, just take a look at Ho-oh’s twin, Moltres. Ho-oh has 106 / 90 there, and Moltres has 90 / 90; Ho-oh has a 100 BP move coming off 130 base attack to hit back at things with, and Moltres has a 120 BP move coming off 125 base special attack to hit back at things with. Ho-oh will not be taking anyone’s place as a physical wall if Moltres can’t. Taking a different stance, if Ho-oh did somehow start to do well as a wall (or: tank), it would actually not only be fine in the metagame in the sense that it isn’t broken, but it could potentially bring benefits. It could wall common threats in Scizor, Skymin and Heatran (but only hit the latter back if it had Earthquake), for a start, and I’m sure people would find many other benefits to using it. Another potential threat that a wall version of Ho-oh could handle very well would be, interestingly enough, any offensive Ho-oh. An opposing Ho-oh’s Thunderbolt would do pathetic little damage to it, and Ho-oh would be able to hit it with Toxic, a move that can be used with wonderful effect to doom 90% of Ho-ohs to die very quickly. The most broken set I can think of, really, is a tank that would fit well onto a Stall team (feel free to disagree). I think a Ho-oh running Subsitute, Roost, Sacred Fire and Toxic or Whirlwind could be very effective, but aside from shuffling things around and having a good chance to burn physical attackers with a powerful move from behind a substitute, it isn’t really broken. At least a stall team would give it adequate Rapid Spin or possibly Heal Bell support to help it out. Personally, I would play it safe and not even try to have one on a stall team. A Ho-oh moving to OU would probably be more overhyped than Rhyperior and Skymin were, I think, and I’m sure many people would be hit by a huge disappointment. One rather obscure thing that puts Ho-oh at huge risk is your generic Rain Dance team. Perhaps these may be more common in the Uber environment (where poor Ho-oh is never even touched anymore), but even with its mammoth of a special defense stat it can’t take the Surfs from some of these UU-bound Swift Swimmers. Omastar (as an example) running under the rain can come in and 2HKO [61.06% minimum] – this is Max HP / Max Sp. Def Ho-oh, a variant that will never be seen. The more common Max HP variant, when not running Calm/Careful, loses 99% min. to Hydro Pump – this will basically be an OHKO every time you see it happen, unless you’re extremely unlucky. Needless to say, Choice Specs Omastar ruins Ho-oh, as do most other swift swimmers. All Ho-oh can do to hit back is use Thunderbolt (or Earthquake on Oma/Kabutops, but with the EVs needed to survive a hit from one of these two [note: it wouldn’t survive any hits from Kabutops with its poorer Defense stat anyway], it probably wouldn’t OHKO back.). Some of the more specially bulky Swift Swimmers could probably take a Thunderbolt too. Kingdra could take a hit from just about any move, set up its Rain Dance and OHKO back. Ludicolo would wall nearly every Ho-oh, especially with Rain Dance weakening Fire-type moves, and set up Rain Dance, Leech Seed, or Surf it to death. Rain Dancers are an obvious counter, so I’ll move on now. To those of you who still think this would break apart OU, I would be extremely interested to see a set that you think could singlehandedly turn the metagame for the worse. I hope that many of you will agree with me now when I say that it wouldn’t hurt to give this thing a shot on the suspect ladder, even if for only about a week, just to see whether it really would cause a lot of harm or not. In time, I think its flaws (or, if you prefer, its singular flaw: that huge rock weakness) would undermine it as I have said and it would probably not even be one of the high OUs; just look at Articuno, its stats are about as alien in UU as Ho-oh’s are in OU and it’s still not used that much. Before we go testing out and banning Skymin, let’s give this Pokémon a shot as a fresh new counter for it. I really think this is something that we could get sorted out pretty quickly, so I’d be interested to hear the views of anybody who still thinks it should stay banned (but really, it at least deserves a test, right?). Damage Calcs Versus max/max Ho-oh (which will probably never be seen aside from Calm Minders, in which case most of these get in free on nearly every move that isn’t going to hit them for SE damage – on average, 3 out of the 4 moves on its moveset) Jolly CB Aerodactyl Rock Slide: 119.47% - 140.63% Jolly Aerodactyl Stone Edge: 106.49% - 125.24% Adamant CBHera Stone Edge: 130.53% - 153.61% [Jolly still OHKOs, obviously] Adamant ScarfHera Stone Edge: 87.50% - 103.13% [OHKO with only a tiny bit of residual damage. Easy OHKO on all standard Ho-ohs.] Jolly ScarfHera versus Max HP / Min Def Ho-oh: 112.50% - 132.45% (probably would be common EV spread but most of the spreads on the analysis actually run min/min) I’m not going to continue this. Basically, even things that are weak to Fire can come in on many moves and KO in one hit with Stone Edge. Lucario, Tauros, Infernape – Hell, even Entei. Anything moderately fast with Stone Edge can come in on most Ho-oh provided they switch into the right move and either OHKO it or bring its HP down to an absolute minimum. This is yet another thing that makes it inferior to other Calm Minders, especially Suicune, who can run about with 6 Calm Minds and not have to worry that some physical attacker with the ever-common Stone Edge will switch in and still take it out anyway. Thanks for reading, and I’m sorry if I made that too long. On most forums I’m more of a one-line poster, but I knew nobody would listen to me unless I went pretty deep with this. If this was a tl;dr for you and you skipped to the bottom, the idea is that, in short, just about every set Ho-oh can run can be countered quite easily in OU, and so it probably wouldn’t hurt it to be tested as an OU itself. EDIT: Since starting this thread more things have popped up that I should add onto the first post so they are easier to see. Ho-oh is literally walled by about 25% of Standard's common walls. A 252 Hp / 252 Def defensive spread could not even 2HKO a Blissey with Sacred Fire. Sacred Fire only has 8PP so it's usually going to be gone before it causes too much harm. The combination of weaknesses to common attacks, being walled or countered by an extensive list of common foes and having a huge weakness to Stealth Rock do, in my opinion, completely undermine its high stats. I really think this should be OU. EDIT2: I hate to repeat myself. A lot of the common arguments against Ho-oh being moved down are responded to in http://www.smogon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1534896&postcount=84 that post. Let's keep this argument full of only fresh information that hasn't already been responded to, it's the only way we could ever get this cleaned up.