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Retyping is a favorite pastime of hardcore fans who love their favorite Pokémon, but believe they drew the short straw because of their typing, stats, movepool, abiliities, whatever. But Game Freak has done a few re-typings of its own (along with shifts in stats) that have launched pokemon out of the depths of irrelevance into a central niche in one game or another. Here's an example of Game Freak's most infamous re-type:
Bug/Flying → Bug/Steel
Scyther and Scizor have the exact same BST total and abilities, yet one is among the the most used Pokémon in the OU metagame and the other is relegated to UU. While a lot of this has to do with the universal utility of Bullet Punch, there's no denying that the leap from 4x Stealth Rock weakness and BoltBeam weakness to neutrality on both counts also has a lot to do with it.
In this article we'll explore some typings that will bring some UU Pokémon up to snuff with OU. No additional moves are assumed, either, merely a typing change.
Ground / Poison
Claydol's greatest problem as a defensive Rapid Spinner comes from the deplorable weaknesses associated with the Psychic type. Weaknesses to U-turn and Pursuit make Claydol terrible against the most fundamental transition moves in the game, and the Ghost-type weakness means any spin-blocker that switches in can hit it with a super effective STAB attack. Unlike Starmie, it lacks the Speed to take down many threats, despite its excellent movepool. With near immunity to hazard damage and the necessary bulk to pull off a spin, Claydol's primary problem is its difficulty in transition—it loses too much momentum in each attempt to spin.
Ground/Poison gives Claydol some of the most solid defensive capabilities in the game. It retains the Fighting resistance while turning the Bug weakness into a resistance, gains a Toxic immunity, and neutrality to Grass attacks. It removes the Ghost and Dark weaknesses in exchange for a weakness to rarely used Psychic-type attacks. Because of Levitate, it doesn't need to worry about a Ground weakness either. Where before Tyranitar could scare Claydol away with Crunch or Pursuit, it must now rely on Aqua Tail to break through Claydol before Claydol's STAB Earthquake gives it the upper hand.
Since Claydol can utilize Trick, it can add Black Sludge and Toxic Orb to its repertoire of items to thwart other Trick users. Claydol's STAB Psychic rarely sees as much use as its coverage attacks, which include Ice Beam and Shadow Ball, both of which will benefit from Claydol's new neutralities to Grass and Ghost attacks, respectively.
Claydol's Water- and Ice-type weaknesses are still serious liabilities, with Psychic less so, but the removal of Claydol's transitional weaknesses combined with its superb support movepool would make it an excellent pivot. Few other Pokémon could reliably set up Stealth Rock, Screens, Explode, Spin, and still have a threatening offensive STAB. Claydol has very little to lose and much to gain from this retype.
Psychic / Ghost
Alakazam's great sweeping ability has always been held back by one thing: It can't switch in on anything. With the defenses of a wet sack and no immunities, you were lucky if you ever got Alakazam in once. It wasn't a particularly great lead either—it had screens, Taunt, and Thunder Wave, but not much else.
The Ghost typing provides Alakazam with the immunities it has always wanted. Possessing an immense 120 Spe and 135 SpA, the ability to come in on common Fighting attacks and evade the powerful ExtremeSpeed (as well as Explosion) gives Alakazam some leverage. The 4x weaknesses to Dark and Ghost are an unforunate byproduct, but Alakazam was never going to survive those hits anyway. Additionally, the Ghost-type grants STAB on Shadow Ball, which when combined with Focus Blast possesses unresisted coverage. The most marginal effect is the nulling of the Bug-type weakness, which is helpful for some of the weaker U-turns, but won't do a thing against Scizor.
With this retyping Alazakam will play essentially like a modified Gengar. It doesn't have the Ground immunity and can't put opponents to sleep, but it does have Encore, Thunder Wave, and screen support. In any case its Shadow Ball is even more dangerous than Gengar's, and it will always get a 70% chance to OHKO Scarf Tyranitar with an LO Focus Blast. Alakazam would introduce a legitimate offensive Psychic force to the metagame.
Most of Alakazam's UU sets transfer smoothly into OU, with Shadow Ball as pretty much a lock, sometimes over Psychic in the more restrictive sets. Substitute + 3 Attacks basically defaults to Psychic/Shadow Ball/Focus Blast, while the more supportive sets are helped by more switchin opportunities. The lead set can replace the Inner Focus ability for Synchronize against status leads, as Ghost-typing makes Alakazam immune to Fake Out.
Poison / Electric
Big Smogon makes life for Fighting-types in UU difficult, but its inability to seriously threaten the big boys of OU, as well as an inability to ward off some of the more defensive Pokémon, gives Weezing a pretty raw deal.
Electric typing does a few things for Weezing, both offensively and defensively. Defensively there is no cost to the Electric-typing, as Weezing possesses the Levitate ability. The additional resistances to Electric, Steel, and Flying help Weezing address a variety of threats, from Zapdos and Rotom-A, to being nearly foolproof against Scizor and Jirachi lacking Psychic or Zen Headbutt. Offensively speaking, Weezing is more capable of addressing bulky Waters with STAB Thunderbolt, and with Weezing's extensive coverage and support movepool it can be tailored to take on most of the threats in OU. While it's best to avoid speculating about new moves, Electric-types all have access to Thunder Wave, which, when added to Will-O-Wisp, gives Weezing quite a few options to cripple the opposition.
Poison/Electric-typed Weezing would also have a unique place on Rain Dance teams. With resistance to Fighting, Grass, and Electric and an immunity to Ground, Weezing would be a near-perfect pivot for Kabutops and Omastar.
Weezing @ Leftovers / Black Sludge
200 HP / 216 Def / 40 SpD / 52 Spe
- Pain Split
- Explosion / Flamethrower / Hidden Power Ground
With its new Steel resistance, Fire Blast isn't as necessary as it used to be, as Weezing can now comfortably wall and burn most of the Steels in OU. Now backed by STAB, Thunderbolt is a decent option for neutral coverage and easily dispatches Gyarados and Skarmory. Pain Split is a bit unreliable for recovery, but it's better than nothing and especially effective against Blissey and Vaporeon. Explosion provides a good breaking move, but can be replaced by Flamethrower for a more immediate threat to Steels, or Hidden Power Ground if you're worried specifically about Heatran, who takes great advantage of Will-O-Wisp.
Ghost / Dark
While this seems obvious, this retyping goes far beyond "Mismagius has no weak". With both Calm Mind and Nasty Plot at its disposal, Mismagius can easily set up on most Rapid Spinners and be difficult to address immediately. Scarved Ghosts are no longer solid checks, and without a Dark-type weakness, Scarf Tyranitar must rely on the more conventional Crunch or Stone Edge, rather than Pursuit. The Psychic immunity and loss of Bug-type resistance are of little relevance, save for the fact that Mismagius would no longer be affected by Mirror Coat. Scarier still is what neutralizing the Dark-type weakness allows more support-oriented Mismagius sets to do. Mean Look and Perish Song becomes easier to pull off, as well as Will-o-Wisp and Thunder Wave. On the offensive front, Dark Pulse's flinch chance makes it a much scarier general prospect than Shadow Ball. Combined with a neutrality to Payback, Mismagius would be much more frustrating to face.
Mismagius @ Life Orb
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Nasty Plot / Calm Mind
- Dark Pulse
- Hidden Power Fighting
- Thunderbolt / Pain Split
This set can go in either direction—either in a pseudo-bulky fashion with Calm Mind and Pain Split, or all out offense with Nasty Plot and Thunderbolt. Dark Pulse's flinch isn't the greatest bet at 20%, but it can give you that free turn required for a finishing blow.
Water / Fighting
Azumarill's only real problem is that it can't break through most of the Pokémon that resist Water attacks. Combined with its low Speed and Aqua Jet's low BP, Azumarill can't keep up with the more damaging bulky threats in OU.
Enter Fighting STAB. Not only does it raise Brick Break to a respectable power level, Azumarill's Focus Punch combined with the ability to make 101 HP Subs would allow it to decimate most of OU. Very few Pokémon could survive the onslaught of Focus Punch + Aqua Jet.
Defensively speaking, the resistances to Stealth Rock, U-turn, Pursuit, and Stone Edge give Azumarill many more switch-ins than it used to have. The additional weaknesses to Psychic- and Flying-type attacks are not that relevant, as the former type is nearly nonexistent and the users of the second have their own issues in dealing with Azumarill.
Azumarill @ Leftovers
252 HP / 212 Atk / 44 Spe
- Aqua Jet
- Ice Punch / Waterfall
- Focus Punch
With 414 Attack and slightly more speed than Blissey. Azumarrill would be able to set up on any of the various slow Pokémon in the metagame, and have the bulk to Sub against some of the faster ones. After that it can fire off the most powerful Focus Punch in OU. The most common users of Flying-type attacks are Skarmory, Gyarados, Togekiss, and the rare Yanmega. The most offensive Skarmory cannot KO Azumarill with Brave Bird even if it switches in on Substitute, as Azumarill will have recovered enough HP to avoid the KO. Meanwhile Focus Punch does a solid 48%+ minimum to every Skarmory set, meaning there is no chance for Skarmory to Roost. Either that prediction or a critical hit will finish it off. As far as Gyarados goes, only the most defensive sets have a chance to counter it, as Focus Punch still does 34-40% to Offensive DDGyara even after Intimidate. If Yanmega takes as little as 73% from Ice Punch (68.4-80.5%), then Aqua Jet (27.2-32.6%) easily finishes it off. Between Focus Punch and Aqua Jet, Togekiss is easily disposed of.
In other words, behind a Substitute there are perhaps only two Pokémon that can effectively counter Azumarill, and one of them must switch in on the turn Azumarill uses Substitute. The other is Rotom-A, whose defensive set can be 3HKO'd by Waterfall if Azumarill chooses not to go with Ice Punch's coverage. Offensive sets are 2HKO'd by Waterfall. The damage differential should be sufficient to choose the correct pivot, with Tyranitar being the obvious choice against offensive sets and Heatran, defensive sets.
Dark / Psychic
This is perhaps the least intuitive of the competitive retypings, but has several merits to it. The greatest bulwark against Dark-type offense in OU are the various Fighting- and Steel- types that inhabit the tier. Psychic typing provides a means to address the former threat while Absol's current movepool is sufficient to deal with the latter. Most of the Psychic Pokémon in OU have little reason to use their Psychic STAB because of better coverage options, or the fact Psychic simply doesn't have a great physical movepool. Absol, on the other hand, already has excellent options that enhance Psychic's offensive profile. With a way to address Dark- and Steel-type Pokémon already in tow, Psychic becomes a viable plug for the Fighting-type Pokémon that plague Dark-type offense.
Defensively, the Bug-type weakness is increased from 2x to 4x, but the weakness to the Fighting-type is nullified, giving Absol a much better chance of survival against Fighting-type priority.
Absol @ Life Orb
252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
Jolly / Naive
- Zen Headbutt
- Sucker Punch
- Swords Dance
- Superpower / Fire Blast
This set would make Absol a very dangerous anti-lead. Absol's raw power would allow it to OHKO all variants of Machamp with Zen Headbutt. It speed ties with Smeargle, outspeeds Breloom, and can OHKO Jirachi with Sucker Punch after a Swords Dance. It's risky because Jirachi's U-turn OHKOes Absol, but if you Swords Dance while it uses Stealth Rock, you can catch it off guard. Unfortunately, lead Metagross defeats it handily, but if you reserve Absol for later it does 82.1-96.7% to LeadGross with +2 Sucker Punch/Superpower. Superpower's great accuracy and coverage make it ideal for a two-hit follow-up with Sucker Punch on suicide leads, as even with the Attack drop they are still taken out. A more specialized variant could use Fire Blast to get the drop on Forretress leads. Absol has a slightly better than 50% chance to survive CB Scizor Bullet Punch at full health (90-106% damage range), so if it comes in on Swords Dance, you can attempt Superpower and take Scizor down with you.
Absol's other prominent set would be the Scarf Set, with Psycho Cut now being able to OHKO Infernape and threaten most everything else with a Super Luck-adjusted 25% CH rate. Feelin' lucky?
Normal / Dark
Ambipom is one of those Pokémon that is really let down by its lack of coverage. HGSS helped by giving Ambipom a passable Fighting-type attack in Low Kick, but it really isn't enough. The additional Dark typing may only enhance three of Ambipom's competitive moves, but it provides the punch neccesary to give Ambipom a good techical niche. Possessing both STAB Technician Fake Out and STAB Technician Pursuit along with 115 Speed, Ambipom can cause a lot of grief for frail sweepers. While Dark typing would open up Ambipom to a 4x Fighting weakness, Ambipom has never been able to take OU's Fighting attacks anyway. Pursuit resistance is welcome for a Pokémon that switches in and out so often; the new Bug-type weakness is a drawback, but as Ambipom speed ties with Azelf, the point is moot. One of them can break the other's Sashes, and then finish up with Pursuit regardless. Ambipom also isn't OHKO'd by the most common U-turn leads, even with the new Bug-type weakness.
The other moves Dark typing boosts are Beat Up and Payback. Beat Up is probably still too gimmicky to work, but Ambipom would have the maximum number of factors boosting its damage output, and should be able to easily dispatch Blissey given partners with strong base Attack like Metagross, Tyranitar, Heatran, etc. Payback has the stronger Base Power if used when an opponent switches, but without the boost it's a great boon, as Payback is either 75 with STAB or 100 with STAB. In the same sort of gimmick category as Beat Up, Fling would also be boosted. An interesting note on that is that Sunny Rock and Damp Rock both have 60 Base Power when Flung, so you could theoretically set up a weather, then Fling the object for a one-time 90 BP STAB Attack.
Ambipom @ Focus Sash / Dread Plate
4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
- Fake Out
- Brick Break / Low Kick / Taunt
Ambipom's updated Lead set. With STAB on Pursuit it doesn't need to rely on Life Orb for damage anymore, so it can use the more traditional Focus Sash. This serves it well against most leads, but it still falls a little short. With Dread Plate instead of Focus Sash, Ambipom can KO Aerodactyl leads between Fake Out and Payback while bluffing Focus Sash. Dread Plate also boosts Pursuit, making it more effective later. Brick Break and Low Kick provide decent coverage and also adress other Ambipom leads. Brick Break can break the screens of DS leads, while Low Kick helps it deal with midgame threats like Heatran. Taunt can also be used, although it sacrifices any offensive diversity Ambipom could hope to have.
Typing has a significant impact on the tiering of competitive Pokémon. What often hampers a Pokémon from being effective is a lack of a specific STAB or the ability to switch in to utilize its sweeping potential. As it applies specifically to UU, most of the Pokémon there are simply too easily outclassed by stronger OU Pokémon. Those Pokémon either have more chances to switch in, broader STAB options, or are simply more effective versions of their UU counterparts. Typing can make or break a Pokémon, even outside of any other changes. In assessing re-types every small element can contribute to worthiness. Even terrible weaknesses can be overcome if the typing gives a powerful offensive utility.
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