|« Previous Article||Home||Next Article »|
When the original BL – UU Merge was suggested, there was a large outcry that UU would become “OU-Lite”, and that UU would lose its niche as the strange metagame that it is known for being. People were alarmed that the new members of UU would be devastatingly broken, and things like Tangrowth would take over the metagame, leaving no room for anything else. However, as the new UU metagame has matured, it has become clear that the former BLs have come into their own, and while some of them have been returned to BL, such as Abomasnow, Gallade, and Raikou; the tier has, for the most part, become stabilized, and some of the overhyped BLs, such as Tauros, have even become NU, while some of the old UU standbys, such as Absol, Clefable, and Scyther have kept their UU placement.
It’s clear that there are metagame forces in effect which are beyond the comprehension of many UU players. This article hopes to clear up some of the misconceptions about UU being “OU-Lite”, as well as shedding some light on how the UU tier’s makeup comes to be.
UU is defined as “Any Pokémon that is not used enough to be OU, but not powerful enough to be decided BL." This means that the metagame trends in OU have a direct impact on UU, the most specific one being that Pokémon of useful types in OU are generally rarely found in UU. There are five main things that determine whether or not a Pokémon will be useful enough to get enough OU notoriety to become a full OU Pokémon: typing, movepool, stat distribution, whether it is directly outclassed by other Pokémon, and whether it has a specific niche in OU.
This is arguably the most important part of any Pokémon - its typing, which determines its weaknesses, its resistances, and its main STABs. On one hand, Offensive typing became much less important in DP, with the physical/special split no longer leaving things like physical-based Water and Fire-types out of the loop. However, given the fact that every type can hit from either attacking side, resistances are much more important than stats when it comes to defense. Meanwhile, Pokémon with good defensive typing are much sought after in OU. Bulky Water-types and defensive Steel-types get plenty of usage in OU (the former for their relative lack of weaknesses, the latter for their plethora of resistances), while things like Grass and Ice-types tend to be left out of the loop for their myriad weaknesses and their comparatively few resistances. Finally, there are some Pokémon that are so influential in the metagame that they completely nullify another Pokémon’s role, such as Tyranitar or Scizor.
Stealth Rock adds a whole new element to some Pokémon's typing issues. Bug, Fire, Flying, and Ice-type Pokémon that come in when Stealth Rock is active will start out with a 75% HP handicap, and any Pokémon with two of the above typings loses a whopping 50% of their max HP just for switching in. Combine that with the fact that basically every Ground/Rock/Steel type learns it (as well as some other neat stuff like Blissey, Celebi, and the Pixies), and you've got a force that severely limits the usefulness of the aforementioned types. Conversely, because of the ubiquity of Stealth Rock, Ground, Steel, and Fighting-types, which resist Stealth Rock, have a relative advantage. In OU, there are 8 Pokémon weak to Stealth Rock compared to 14 SR resistors. UU has 13 SR weak Pokémon, while there are only 10 SR resistors, the plurality of which are the many outclassed Fighters making their home in UU.
For example: Tyranitar’s presence in OU leads to fantastic defensive Psychic-type Pokémon such as Uxie, Mesprit, and Slowbro being relegated to UU, where the threat of Pursuit is lower, and they can do their job with much greater efficiency there. There are also Pokémon such as Aggron, Cloyster, Moltres, and Articuno, which have their defensive capabilities rendered either useless or very difficult to take advantage of (the former two with terrible typing, and the latter two with 4x Stealth Rock weaknesses). Mantine is in the same boat, possessing a weakness to Stealth Rock and a lack of enough useful Special resistances to make it effective.
Some Pokémon just don’t have the moves to pull off the things that their base stats obviously meant for them to do. Offensive Pokémon need a movepool large enough to be a threat to a variety of different Pokémon, not just those weak to their STAB attacks. Defensive Pokémon, on the other hand, must have viable ways of supporting their team outside of Toxic and walling specific threats. These Pokémon usually also fall into the “Outclassed” department as well, as they commonly are used less than similar Pokémon with better movepools.
One of the most obvious examples of this is Gastrodon. While Gastrodon is an excellent Pokémon in its own right, packing Swampert’s same excellent typing, great defenses, and most importantly of all, access to the move Recover, it sees nearly no use in any of the tiers. This is because its support movepool is next to nonexistent. While Swampert packs moves such as Stealth Rock and Roar, two very useful attacks for a defensive Pokémon, Gastrodon is limited to Toxic, which is not only rather superfluous, but also learned by every Pokémon in the game, and therefore is not a hot commodity.
Other examples include Umbreon, whose only major contributions to a team include Wish and possibly Mean Look passing; Arcanine, whose offensive movepool consists of Fire moves, Hidden Power, and ExtremeSpeed; Shaymin, whose only outstanding feature is access to Seed Flare; Swellow, whose lack of coverage outside of STABs often proves to be a disappointment; and Mantine, whose stats support Special walling, but whose poor movepool don’t merit its inclusion in most teams.
Some Pokémon just aren’t built for what their movepool or typing obviously means for them to be. These Pokémon usually pack fantastic movepools, typings, or abilities, but their stats just don’t work out for what is obviously their intended purpose. Pokémon like this are usually either deficient in one or more major stats, or they simply have average stats in every area. These kind of Pokémon are the ones where people often say, “With a little more (insert stat here), it could be a dominating force in the OU metagame”, and when talk of fake evolutions comes around, these are the first to get one.
One of the biggest examples is Drapion. With uncommon but powerful typing (Poison/Dark), an excellent offensive movepool, and good offensive typing; Drapion could make either a fantastic physical sweeper or an excellent anti-Ghost special wall. However, the former is put off by Drapion’s mediocre base 90 attack, and the latter has troubles getting around Drapion’s base 70 Special Defense. Meanwhile, Drapion’s very decent base 110 Defense largely goes to waste due to its weakness to the ubiquitous Earthquake.
Other examples include Absol, whose excellent movepool and access to Swords Dance make it a formidable opponent, but whose middling 75 Speed and bad 65/60/60 Defenses often let it down; Toxicroak, which is one of those Pokémon that could use just a little boost in all of its offenses; Zangoose, which is in the same boat as Absol, but without strong priority; Nidoking, which has an amazing offensive movepool but just not enough stats with which to take advantage of it; his sister Nidoqueen, which has an excellent defensive movepool, but whose defensive stats fall just a bit short; and Clefable, with its movepool that goes on for days and its obscenely good Magic Guard ability, but stats that ensure that it can’t pose an effective threat either offensively or defensively in OU.
There are some excellent Pokémon in UU, Pokémon that have few if any of the problems above, and that really could do some damage if given the chance. So why don’t they see much use, if any at all? Easy. There’s just something that “does it better” in every way up in the tier above, and it’s because of this that some Pokémon just don’t get the chance to see the light of day outside of UU.
Blaziken has proven itself as a fantastic wallbreaker in UU, where its Fire/Fighting typing poses a massive threat to the major defensive cores of UU, such as Steelix, Registeel, Chansey, Shaymin, and others. It has enough Speed to break many OU stall teams as well, between outrunning and crushing most Steel-types and posing a huge mixed threat. There is just one thing preventing Blaziken's entry into OU: Infernape. It boasts the same Fire/Fighting typing, but with much better Speed (108 base points, to be exact), access to Nasty Plot (making it one of the best special attackers due to ability to beat down Blissey with STAB Close Combat), Grass Knot for OU’s bulky Water-types, and U-turn, which allows its user to stay on the offensive against Latias and Cresselia and force Stealth Rock damage.
Other examples include: Shaymin, a fantastic defensive (and offensive) Grass-type, overshadowed by the much more common Celebi, which packs an important resistance to Fighting, useful goodies like Perish Song and Thunder Wave, a better offensive movepool, and more support options; Slowbro/Slowking, which shares a typing with the much faster and more useful Starmie, a Pokémon with a much better movepool and far more powerful support options; Milotic and Blastoise, which have issues competing with the many effective bulky Waters in OU, such as Vaporeon and Suicune, both of which have more useful movepools; Feraligatr, which competes with Gyarados as effective Water-type Dragon Dancer, and loses due to having fewer movepool options and worse offensive stats; and most notably, every defensive Ghost is outclassed by Rotom, with its superior typing, movepool, and ability.
There are some Pokémon that end up in OU not through the virtue of an outstanding stat spread, movepool, or typing, but because they fulfill a specific niche in the metagame. Generally, the Pokémon in this list tend to shift over time as the metagame changes, but there are a couple that have seized a place in OU and haven’t let go.
The most notable example is Tentacruel. In early DP, Nasty Plot Mixed Infernape was rampaging through the metagame, busting up the tried-and-true SkarmBliss combination with ease, and demolishing the regular Fire-type counters such as Swampert with Grass Knot. In came Tentacruel, sporting a fantastic 120 base Special Defense, resistance to both Fire Blast and Close Combat, neutrality to Grass Knot, and weight such that Grass Knot only carried 60 Base Power against it. It also is a very reliable Rapid Spinner, it both lays and soaks up Toxic Spikes, and it can switch into top threats such as Heatran with ease.
Pre-Platinum, Nidoqueen started being used more often for a number of reasons. The first is that Poison typing, just like in the case of Tentacruel, provides an important resistance to Fighting and Bug only provided elsewhere by the SR-weak Flying type, as well as absorbing Toxic Spikes. It also had a Ground typing that gave it a resistance to Stealth Rock and an immunity to Electric. This typing meant that Nidoqueen was used as a primary counter to the high-powered fighters in OU such as Heracross, Lucario, and Breloom. However, when Platinum came around Lucario got access to Ice Punch, and with Heracross use already dwindling, Nidoqueen fell out of use and back into UU.
There aren’t many at this point, but Porygon2 is another excellent example. While its use in UU is rather limited, the sky’s the limit in OU. It can trace Water Absorb from Vaporeon, Volt Absorb from Jolteon, Flash Fire from Heatran, Intimidate from Gyarados and Salamence, Levitate from Flygon, etc. It serves as an excellent check to a number of top-tier Pokémon, and while its stats may not be great, Trace lets it go above and beyond the middling stats that it possesses. It's a wonder that it ever fell down to UU, and it still may rise again. Gardevoir also packs Trace, but its 68/65 physical defense (compared to Porygon2's 85/90) prevents it from reliably countering Gyarados and Salamence. Its Psychic typing also proves to be an issue, as it not only allows Jolteon to hit it with SE Shadow Ball, but it also makes Gardevoir big-time bait for Tyranitar, which will often prove to be the downfall of anything with a Dark weakness.
Despite the nay-sayers, UU has remained a fun metagame and an excellent change of pace for those trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of OU. It’s Pokémon’s “quiet countryside”, and its popularity will most definitely remain through this generation and the next.
|« Previous Article||Home||Next Article »|