Born to Survive: The OU Veterans

By bugmaniacbob. Art by bugmaniacbob.
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Gengar Snorlax Starmie Zapdos

OU Pokemon are those Pokemon that are simply standard fare. They are to trainers what bread and butter are to the average public schoolboy. There can be no mistaking that these Pokemon are the best of the best. The top of their game. Every single one has a specific niche in the metagame, which comes and goes as the metagame flows. And as with all cycles, Pokemon reach the top, then collapse and fall as their strategy proves ineffective. Game Freak decides to ruin everything they ever worked for by adding hard counters, or simply allow them to be swallowed up in the flood tide of new Pokemon that come with every generation, and the accompanying power creep, so they are simply outclassed and forced into obscurity. It's the same old story. Everybody knows the tragic parable of the foolish Tauros, who got so powerful and arrogant that one day he opened a locked case that his wife, Miltank, warned told him not to, and ended up releasing a horde of spiky metal birds and bagworms that destroyed his home, carried away his children, and for good measure, forced him into the NU tier, eight years later.

But there are some Pokemon that are so brilliant at what they do, so marvellous, that they simply cannot seem to be budged from their spots at the top of OU. Their niches are impregnable, or perhaps they are just so good, they cannot be replaced. There are four Pokemon in particular whose names are spoken in hushed whispers, who have been OU ever since Pokemon metagames have existed, so powerful and unique that to this very day they stand as the last remaining champions of RBY, the OU veterans. But who are they, and what makes them so good? And how have they stayed so good for all this time? Let's find out.


A brief history

There are plenty of big, bad, purple ghosts knocking about the Pokemon universe, but just remember: Gengar was here first. Of the 150 Pokemon that roam around the green meadows of Kanto, Gengar was the only fully evolved Ghost-type in existence, and this is the way it stayed until the introduction of Misdreavus in the second generation. This is a pretty huge reason for Gengar's popularity, especially in the first generation, as its immunity to both Normal- and Fighting-type attacks meant it could switch in on the powerful physical attackers, such as Tauros and Snorlax, that few other Pokemon could, and threaten them.

One thing that Gengar retains to this very day is its excellent movepool, which allowed it to essentially define the meaning of unpredictable in the game's context. Gengar was and still is perhaps one of the only Pokemon in the game where it is never safe to assume the set it is running. Hypnosis was always available to incapacitate a Pokemon on the opposing team, and Explosion was another useful tool that was valued for its ability to stop Chansey. The power of its raw stats was another contributing factor to Gengar still maintaining its place at the dizzying heights of OU stardom – a massive base 130 Special and a high base 110 Speed, which enables Gengar to use its movepool to the fullest extent. Because it is defensively inadequate, Gengar will often have to fall back on raw offensive power, and it is these stats that allow it to do so.

Of course, Gengar was not without its faults. For one, it lacked the means necessary to attack the ubiquitous Psychic-types in RBY. Both of its STAB types were physical, and this meant that Gengar more often than not was forced to go out without a STAB move to back it up. Not that this really mattered, of course, since the only offensive Ghost-type move available was Lick, and the less said about Poison-type attacks the better. Its Poison-typing was also criminally useless in a number of other ways, too. Not only did it helpfully provide a nasty Psychic-type weakness, but a Ground-type weakness as well, which meant that Tauros and Snorlax could simply Earthquake Gengar into oblivion if they could catch it.

How has it changed?

It has already been said that to be consistently successful across all generations, these Pokemon had to have what no other Pokemon had for the entirety of their existence: A tried-and-true, dependable niche or strategy that simply worked from day 1. However, like so many other categories, Gengar is again the odd one out. It has changed immensely from its rudimentary beginnings, and is perhaps the only one of the four great veterans that has seen any real changes in its basic playing style. GSC improved Gengar by quite a bit. It was still one of only two fully evolved Ghost-types in existence, which made it one of the most desirable Pokemon to use. Due to the introduction of entry hazards in the form of Spikes, Gengar got extra brownie points for being able to block Rapid Spin effectively. It also received substantial movepool upgrades in the form of the elemental punches, as well as more gimmick moves for dealing with its counters, such as Perish Song, Mean Look, and DynamicPunch. Gengar was still getting more and more unpredictable. Perhaps its greatest fortune was that it did not lose much effectiveness from the Special split – the increased advantages to its use were more than enough to cover for the loss in bulk on the special side.

Gengar then disappeared for a short time, as it was unavailable in the initial games of the third generation, which also happened to be incompatible with the earlier games. However, upon the release of Fire Red and Leaf Green, Gengar returned with its other forgotten friends to take part in the Advance metagame. Like the others, its basic appearance did not change very much, but it got the changes that were the most valuable to it – plenty of 'optional extras'. Its movepool was enhanced by Will-O-Wisp, Focus Punch, and other such moves that it could always use to catch an unsuspecting counter. But by far the biggest change was the introduction of abilities, which gave Gengar a treat beyond its wildest dreams – its ability, Levitate. No longer was Earthquake its bane, and it could even turn these moves to its advantage. Most of the other changes in the game passed it by, but it was still just as much a threat as it had always been.

On the other hand, it was in DPP that Gengar got the changes it really wanted, that it had never had before – special STAB moves. Gengar was one of the Pokemon that benefited most from the physical/special split, as it meant that Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb were now entirely viable options, in addition to all the Hidden Powers it could use. It also got powerful new weapons such as Focus Blast and Energy Ball. The addition of Life Orb and Choice Scarf did not hurt either. This, in addition to Hypnosis's accuracy boost, made Gengar far more powerful as an offensive threat than it had ever been, and for the initial period of Diamond and Pearl, Gengar became a consistent figure in the #1 spot of the usage stats, which had just been released alongside the new Shoddy Battle. However, tragedy struck with the advent of Platinum. While Gengar got useful new tools in Trick and Icy Wind, it had to contend with the reduction of Hypnosis's accuracy, and possibly one of the biggest metagame shifts ever, caused by the introduction of Bullet Punch Scizor. When the metal menace was everywhere, there was very little that Gengar could really do. Its usage tumbled as the metagame forced out fast, frail attackers to make way for the new threat. However, all was not lost. Upon the banning of Latias and Salamence, Scizor's usage fell and Heatran's rose, forcing Scizor down even further. By the end of the DPP generation, Gengar's flower was blooming again, as the third most popular Pokemon in the OU metagame.

So what happens next?

Gengar seemed to get even better with every passing generation, thanks to the introduction of yet more options every time. However, it has not received much in the way of gifts from Black and White. It received no new abilities from the Dream World, though it is unlikely that anything could surpass Levitate. The only really intriguing options it received were Evil Eye and Telekinesis, neither of which inspires much adulation when compared to earlier additions. Meanwhile, the metagame around it has changed considerably. Gengar's once ridiculous Speed stat now seems rather average after the influx of fast Pokemon and Speed-boosters. Gengar is still strong offensively but its little tricks are less effective in such a fast-paced environment, where weather offense is everywhere and priority is unavoidable.

But it is unlikely that Gengar will fall too far. It still has everything that makes it so strong: high offensive base stats, a great set of resistances, and a fantastic movepool. Gengar is also still essentially the only really ‘offensive' spinblocker worth using, especially after the downfall of Rotom-A. Although Chandelure, and to a lesser extent Jellicent, are its biggest rivals yet for that vital spot on your team, Gengar's much higher Speed and immunity to Ground-type attacks makes it easily able to distinguish itself. It can still demolish stall teams as well, thanks to all its little tricks, most importantly Pain Split, Trick, and Taunt. Not only that, but it is one of the best Pokemon in the game at breaking the Ferrothorn + Jellicent defensive combination, through its mixture of Shadow Ball and Focus Blast.


A brief history

Yup, it's Snorlax. That fat guy whom you simply cannot get rid of, loved and hated in equal measure. While the other Pokemon on this list have generally kept their heads down and been consistently great, if not outstanding, Snorlax has risen so high above the competition that it was essentially in another league, and then has come crashing down as the metagame catches up with it. It has gone from good to utterly extraordinary and back to good again, more quickly than a bungee jumper on steroids. Just as Gengar defined the unpredictable threat, Snorlax was and still is the epitome of the tank, the Pokemon that takes hits and deals them out in equal measure.

Just looking at its stats, you can see the reason for this. A truly massive base 160 HP makes it pretty damn sturdy, and base 110 Attack means it isn't exactly lacklustre on the offensive side, either. Back in RBY, just as with most Pokemon, its movepool was small but effective. Its Normal-type gave it STAB on Hyper Beam, Selfdestruct, and Body Slam, and also meant that it had few weaknesses, especially with the lack of good Fighting-type moves that existed at that time. With the absence of Levitating Ghosts, Earthquake was all it needed for coverage, only missing out on Aerodactyl (who was about as relevant to RBY as the corner flags to a football game).

Of course, there were problems too, as there inevitably always are. Speed was the main problem. Because it was the slowest Pokemon in the game, Snorlax would always have to take an attack before dishing out one of its own, as tanks do. However, without reliable recovery, Snorlax could not be as effective as it should have been. Unlike Gengar, Snorlax was much more dependent on its stats than its movepool, so that it could afford to fall back on its own brute strength rather than a competitive mindset. Perhaps this was one of the reasons for its great strength in later games, and subsequent slump when its playstyle began to suffer.

How has it changed?

Snorlax reached its peak in GSC, and became perhaps the most dominant Pokemon in any metagame in the history of competitive battling. If you were one of those people who were glad to see the back of Garchomp in DPP, thank goodness you weren't around when Snorlax was lumbering around in its glory days. GSC brought in new Fighting-types and new Fighting-type moves, as well as irritating Pokemon like Skarmory and Steelix. So how did Snorlax rise to the top? On the face of it, it didn't change that much. But if you look at it another way, everything changed. The Special split gave Snorlax a massive 110 base Special Defense, which suddenly made it almost untouchable on the special side. But that wasn't all. It also got access to perhaps the most incredible move it would ever receive: Curse. Other additions such as Belly Drum pale in comparison. With Curse, Snorlax could raise its Attack while patching up its sub-par Defense; the Speed drops were more or less irrelevant. It was nigh on untouchable on both the physical side and the special side. Rest and Leftovers ensured that it could not be Toxic-stalled, burned, or worn down, and if you couldn't stop it, you would be left powerless as it slowly rolled over you.

After Snorlax's heyday, it too was on temporary hiatus from the competitive battling scene, and had to wait for the release of Fire Red and Leaf Green to take part in the ADV generation. Curselax was still just as big a monster as it had been, though it had become slightly easier to wall since the introduction of abilities, giving Gengar Levitate and Salamence Intimidate, amongst other things. Snorlax itself got the benefits of Immunity and Thick Fat, though these were fairly situational. Choice Band was another useful addition. Inevitably, the easiest way to deal with it was to Roar it away and hope it didn't come back; it was not the metagame-centralising force it once had been, but it still affected the metagame more than many other OU Pokemon.

It has to be said that DPP was the generation that brought perhaps the most changes around, and Snorlax was one of the many casualties of that generation. Directly, it was not affected that much by the changes at all; in fact, it benefited from them. It lost Shadow Ball in exchange for Crunch, and also gained Pursuit and the elemental punches. But perhaps the biggest change was the offensive orientation of the metagame. Defensive teams had been extraordinarily widespread up until that point, but with the influx of so many new, faster, stronger threats, semi-defensive teams found it difficult to cope, and many teams were forced to be either fully defensive or not at all. Of course, there were exceptions to this rule, but as physical walls became less effective at walling many threats at once, Snorlax lost the ability to weather attacks like it used to. It could be worn down by strong special attacks, and the addition of factors such as Close Combat on the physical side sealed its fate. While it was still an excellent tank, having the advantage of offensive stats over Blissey, it was not the defensive behemoth it used to be, and its usage suffered accordingly.

So what happens next?

Unfortunately, it looks as though we may be saying goodbye to one of the most infamous of the OU veterans very shortly. With the introduction of the 5th generation, it looks as though Snorlax may at last have fallen down. It simply cannot keep up with the vast offensive power of teams at this point, with the power of offensive weather teams forcing it into obscurity. Not only that, but the ubiquity of Conkeldurr, its worst enemy ever encountered, will force it down even further, and ensure that the infamous Curselax is gone for good. Ferrothorn does not help its case either, and Snorlax received no new additions whatsoever.

But perhaps it can make it to the BL tier, at least. Without the hyper-offensive threats of the OU tier, Snorlax can settle down to its old pace. If UU does not have the means to counter it, it could be very easy to see Snorlax breaking metagames again, the slow repeat of those fateful turns ringing in one's ear. Curse… Curse… Curse…


A brief history

Starmie, the superstar. From its very positive depiction in the anime we all decided it would be a worthwhile investment to go out and catch the superstar, and most unusually for Game Freak, Starmie has never failed to impress, both in-game and competitively. Unlike most of the fast but frail Psychic-types that Game Freak has shamelessly recycled for every generation, Starmie has a secret weapon that makes it stand out – its primary Water typing. This not only gives it a very, very dependable STAB move, but also defensive stability – Water has always been a fantastic defensive typing, and this gives Starmie the ability to actually switch in and surprise us. This is further augmented by its access to reliable recovery, funnily enough through the move Recover.

Starmie's Speed is the most striking feature about it. Base 115 puts it far and away above the average, which gives it a very big advantage as an offensive Pokemon. Its movepool, while not immense, has always given it everything it needs to succeed. From day one it has had its holy trinity of attacking moves, a combination of Water / Ice / Electric that hits almost every Pokemon in the game for at least neutral damage. These moves have always been remarkable for their dependency, as Surf, Thunderbolt, and Ice Beam all have outstandingly high power and PP for 100% accurate moves (although Blizzard was considered more appropriate in RBY). Its Special Attack is not stellar, but with the type coverage it has, this hardly ever matters. Its overall defensive stats are average at best, but its advantageous typing mitigates this problem somewhat, especially before Ghost-, Dark-, and Bug-type moves were at all relevant threats, such as in RBY.

So, what were its weaknesses? The truth is… there weren't really any. It wasn't apocalyptically slow like Snorlax, it couldn't be massacred by physical attacks like Gengar, and it didn't have a limited movepool like Zapdos. True, it was stopped cold by Chansey, but that was true of any special sweeper. There were, however, numerous complaints. These included a susceptibility to status (which was removed by the introduction of Natural Cure in ADV), a lack of boosting and priority moves (which was not a big deal in RBY), and, of course, that it could be so much better if its stats were just that little bit higher. But really, unless you had a dedicated special wall (and it is a testament to Starmie's brilliance that all teams were thus forced to carry one) it would almost always be the force that broke you, and arguably this is how it remains to this day.

How has it changed?

Stat-wise, Starmie lost some special bulk from the Special split. It also lost the benefit of Blizzard, which became far less useful after the reduction in accuracy, though it did still have Ice Beam to fall back on. The addition of Blissey and crucially the improvements to Snorlax pushed back Starmie's special attacking prowess even further. So, while Starmie was as potent as ever, the metagame simply was not kind to it. While Snorlax was everywhere, Starmie could barely get a look in. However, salvation came in the form of Rapid Spin. It was essentially the only offensive Rapid Spinner in the game, who also happened to outrun and OHKO Gengar. Due to the popularity of Spikes, and the necessity of their removal, Starmie became much more popular as a supporter, which gave it the opportunity to show off its incredible support movepool, arguably just as impressive as its offensive movepool. Thunder Wave, Rapid Spin, and Reflect all played their part, while Starmie ensured it was not a liability to the team thanks to its incredible offensive ability. All in all, while overshadowed by Snorlax in GSC (as was everything), Starmie was still one of the most important Pokemon to exist in the metagame.

Starmie was the only Pokemon of the OU survivors who was present in Ruby and Sapphire, so if you wanted to be really pedantic, you could say it is the only Pokemon to have been OU for every stage of the game's existence. The ADV generation gave Starmie only one significant boost, but what a boost it was. Before ADV, Starmie's biggest fear was status, since being paralysed or poisoned crippled it quite considerably. Now, however, it gained the fantastic ability Natural Cure, which heals it of any status any time it switches out. Another weakness dispelled, Starmie could only grow in effectiveness. It was, and still is, one of the only Pokemon capable of sweeping teams despite not having access to any boosting moves, and hardly changing at all in the generation shift, which demonstrates how powerful it really is.

DPP brought the biggest changes for many of the OU veterans, though for Starmie, these were few. By far the biggest change was the addition of boosting items for special sweepers in Life Orb and Choice Specs, which gave Starmie even more power, something it had never had before. It also got small movepool upgrades, such as the introduction of Grass Knot and the newly special Hidden Power, though these were situational at best. Starmie was an incredible Pokemon still, and was given the benefit of a metagame where Pokemon such as Heatran and Infernape were rampant, whom Starmie was very effective against, to show off its abilities. It was also vital in checking offensive monsters such as Garchomp, Salamence, and Gyarados. The introduction of Stealth Rock and Toxic Spikes was also helpful, giving Starmie more utility as a Rapid Spinner, especially thanks to its pseudo-immunity to poison thanks to Natural Cure. However, there were inevitably bad points as well. The Dark-type got some massive improvements, and Pursuit-trapping became a new force, as well as significantly improving Tyranitar. However, the biggest changes came with Platinum. Although Starmie got access to Trick and Signal Beam, it suffered from the increase in popularity of Scizor, being part of the downfall of the frail attackers associated with the metal bug's rise to the top, despite its resistance to Bullet Punch. Like Gengar, Starmie would remain in the shadows for a time, especially as Pokemon such as Latias, Latios, and Manaphy were released in the final stages of suspect testing, who essentially took over all the roles that Starmie could do. However, in the end they were all banned, as was Salamence, after which the metagame essentially collapsed back to its pre-Platinum state. With the final demise of Salamence, Latios, and Garchomp, the most important dragons in the metagame, Heatran rose and Scizor fell, and Steel-types became much less important. Like Gengar, Starmie exploited this state of affairs to ride high again, finishing the fourth generation with a most commendable title of the sixth most popular Pokemon in the metagame.

So what happens next?

Starmie is still the offensive monster it always was, and still the most effective BoltBeamer in the game. However, things are not looking too good at present. Latios and Latias among others have dropped down, and have more or less usurped Starmie's spot as the all-purpose special attacker, just as they did during the suspect tests. Furthermore, Starmie's Speed counts for less now that so many new and faster Pokemon have been added to the fray, not to mention the increase in weather offense teams. The biggest change, though, is the introduction of Ferrothorn, who essentially walls Starmie to high heaven and back, and can either sit there Leech Seeding or blow Starmie away with Power Whip. Starmie does not even have its niche of being the only fast, offensive spinner any more, what with the introduction of Excadrill.

However, Starmie is still Starmie, and if you know anything at all about competitive battling, you'll know what I mean. It is perhaps the most versatile Pokemon in existence, and still has its old accolade of having no true counters, having Hidden Power Fire for Ferrothorn and the new Psycho Shock for its old arch-nemesis, Blissey. Boiling Water is another useful addition. With Drizzle Politoed boosting its Water-type attacks and Thunder, Starmie is still one of the most ferocious Water-type sweepers in existence, especially now that Swift Swim is unusable alongside Drizzle. All in all, it may go a bit unnoticed while the weather is raging outside, but once the skies clear and OU settles, Starmie will still have its place. Whether that place is ever again within the top ten, however, remains to be seen.


A brief history

And so, we come to the final OU Veteran, who also happens to be the only legendary on this list. Because of this, Zapdos has a much higher base stat total than Starmie and Gengar, and unlike its Legendary Bird brethren, it actually has an advantageous (and unique) typing — Electric/Flying. While this provides it with two undesirable weaknesses to Rock and Ice, it does get a very useful set of resistances, to Grass, Fighting, Flying, and Bug, plus a very nice immunity to Ground. In GSC, it obtained a Steel-type resistance as well. Add to that a powerful Electric-type STAB and a base 125 Special stat, and in RBY you had a monster in your hands. Thanks to its Base Stat Total, it had perhaps the most advantageous stat spread of any of the Pokemon on this list, with high defensive stats, average Attack, good Speed, and a very high Special indeed. It was also able to boost its Speed stat with Agility. Because of this, Zapdos was essentially able to define the mixed sweeper, being very difficult to wall between STAB Thunderbolt and Drill Peck.

However, there were most certainly some flaws limiting its effectiveness. While it was essentially the only special sweeper in the game capable of beating Chansey without killing itself, it did have hard counters in Golem and Rhydon, who were both popular Pokemon, which severely limited its effectiveness. Also, in true legendary style, it lacked much of an offensive movepool, as it had essentially nothing beyond its two STAB moves to use. These limitations would be problematic for much of its competitive career. While it was undoubtedly a brilliant Pokemon, it needed time to be used to its fullest extent, for the opposing team to be weakened sufficiently.

How has it changed?

GSC gave Zapdos quite a few upgrades and downgrades. It gained a Steel-type resistance, but lost out in the Special split, retaining its high Special Attack stat but losing out in the Special Defense department. It also lost out slightly to the introduction of Blissey and Steelix, as well as the revitalisation of Snorlax. But it was still one of the very best Legendary Pokemon available, thanks in no small part to its stats and typing. It was one of the few Electric-types that could reliably defeat Grass-types, and thanks to the introduction of Hidden Power, it had a way to defeat its Ground-type nemeses as well. It also maintained its excellent support movepool, which included Thunder Wave, Whirlwind, Reflect, Light Screen, and Toxic. Of course, it suffered slightly from the metagame that changed around it, forcing it to play a more defensive game to allow it to last longer. Zapdos is one of the Pokemon that evolved the most to stay in touch with competitive battling, which is a testament to its versatility, allowing it to adapt its game to suit any environment, despite its poor offensive movepool.

Like most of the OU veterans in the ADV generation, Zapdos had to wait for the introduction of Fire Red and Leaf Green before it was released from obscurity. It was still the versatile threat it had always been, and could play almost any role you can think of. It could be a useful defensive pivot with Rest and Sleep Talk, a powerful sweeper, a utility Pokemon with Thunder Wave or Light Screen, and could also break holes in the opponent's team with Metal Sound, a useful addition to its movepool from Pokemon XD. In addition, Pokemon XD gave it another new option, which gave it another strategy to excel at: Baton Pass. With its ability to pass Agility with essentially no drawbacks, in addition to acting as a potent offensive threat at the same time, Zapdos could easily make Pokemon such as Marowak that much more threatening. By the end of ADV, Zapdos was most certainly in the limelight as one of the very best Pokemon available.

Just as for all the OU veterans, DPP brought in some big changes, and improved Zapdos substantially. First of all, Zapdos gained a reliable recovery move in Roost, which also allowed it to rid itself of its Flying-type weaknesses on the turn it was used, which in tandem with Pressure allowed Zapdos to become an effective staller. Thus Zapdos found itself a new niche as a defensive Pokemon, using its good defensive stats, excellent typing, and powerful offensive capabilities to become an all-purpose wall that doubled as an offensive threat, thanks to its STAB. However, the biggest boosts came with the advent of Platinum. While Starmie and Gengar declined as a result of Scizor's rise to the top, Zapdos benefited immensely from it, as one of the few Pokemon in the game capable of fully countering it. Platinum also gave it all the tools it needed to do the job, with particular emphasis on Heat Wave, a move that made all the difference to Zapdos's poor offensive movepool. No longer was Zapdos forced to run Hidden Power Ice for coverage - especially now that Garchomp had been banned, it could afford to run Hidden Power Grass alongside Heat Wave, letting it beat its main nemesis, Swampert. Heat Wave would prove an immensely useful tool for allowing Zapdos to act as a comprehensive Steel-type check, beating Scizor, Lucario, and Metagross, among others. Zapdos again rose in time in order to check the suspects, particularly Shaymin-S, Manaphy, and Garchomp, after they were released in the third stage of testing. However, after Scizor began to decline in usage after the annexation of the Dragons, Zapdos fell again, ending DPP with a nevertheless respectable mid-table finish.

So what happens next?

BW OU looks to be an interesting time for Zapdos. On the one hand, at some point in the future, Zapdos is set to receive the ability Lightningrod, which will give it an extra immunity to Electric-type attacks, but probably at the cost of Heat Wave. It has also received Volt Change to complement U-turn, and its main rivals the Rotom Formes have declined significantly in usage, due to their typing change, which has caused them to lose their valuable Ghost typing. However, things have gotten more difficult for Zapdos, as they inevitably have for all the OU veterans. The immense strength of weather offense teams means that Zapdos's effectiveness as a wall has been essentially devalued, so it will be forced to fall back on its roles as a Baton Passer and as an offensive Pokemon. However, not only does it face severe competition in the Baton Pass department, but its offensive role is no longer solid either. For the first time in its existence, Zapdos does not have a unique typing. While Emolga is nothing much to worry about and Rotom-S is hardly the antichrist as far as Zapdos is concerned, a far more serious threat comes from Thundurus, who has higher Speed, Attack, and Nasty Plot, making it much more viable as a special sweeper and as a mixed sweeper, as well as the ability Mischievous Heart, which allows it to make great use of its fantastic support movepool much more easily than Zapdos ever could.

However, Zapdos has its own share of advantages. While it doesn't have an incredible Speed stat, its Speed is at least decent, and it has much better defensive stats than Thundurus, as well as Roost, which makes it a much more durable threat. As far as special attacking is concerned, both hit just as hard as each other off the bat, and while Thundurus has to rely on the horrible Focus Blast to take down Ferrothorn, Zapdos has Heat Wave, which comes in useful against other Steel-types as well, whom Thundurus will struggle against. All in all, while Zapdos will undoubtedly lose some usage to its new rival, it is doubtful that it will be any more significant than Rotom-A in DPP, and though it will undoubtedly be less effective, it is very likely that Zapdos will continue to remain a force in OU for some time yet.


So there you have it. Possibly the most powerful, well-designed Pokemon Game Freak has ever blessed us with, so marvellous that even they couldn't screw them up, not even in four subsequent attempts. But how will the fifth generation treat them? So far, the signs are not promising. Will they stay, or will they go? Well, there is no way to tell. Only the players can decide that. Get out there and start using them, and perhaps, just perhaps, by the time the sixth generation rolls around, there may be four titans of competitive battling still holding their own at the top, battered and hanging on for dear life, but still entirely formidable.

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