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Ground has been one of the best types in the entire series of Pokemon for numerous reasons. Earthquake is arguably the best attack in the game, and anything with a STAB Earthquake automatically has a legitimate amount of damage output. It's also one of the most important defensive types in the game, as it provides an immunity to Electric as well as a resistance to Rock. However, Ground-types have become significantly more notable in the Generation 5 metagame. Some notable Ground-types have received significant buffs, and there are also multiple new Ground-type superstars ready to absolutely tear it up in the OU metagame.
It's not all rosy for Ground-types, though. The biggest threat to their effectiveness comes in the form of a new item: the Balloon. This item gives a Pokemon holding it the Levitate ability until it is hit with a direct damage attack, which can make Earthquake as much of a liability as it is a strength. Still, Ground-types seem to be persevering, and have become even more widespread in the metagame despite this setback.
Let's get things started on the right foot with Landorus. The ground genie is one of those Pokemon that has all the right stats in all the right places to do incredible things in the metagame. 125 base Attack with STAB Earthquake already makes any Pokemon an offensive powerhouse, but Landorus turns that up a notch with Sand Force, which puts Earthquake at a bone-crushing 130 Base Power. It also has access to a 130 Base Power Stone Edge, which gives it incredible coverage. Swords Dance and Rock Polish just serve to make a more effective sweeper, as a Swords Danced Sand Force boosted Earthquake does crippling damage to anything that doesn't resist it. It's not limited to physical sweeping either- it's also packing 115 base Special Attack, which can allow it to utilize Calm Mind alongside Earth Power, Grass Knot, and Hidden Power for a special attacking set. It can even throw Hidden Power Ice on a physical set to eliminate its most notable counter, Gliscor. To top things off, it's got 101 base Speed, which allows it to outspeed a ton of the metagame and sweep with ease after an opponent's Choice Scarf users are downed. 89/90/80 defenses just top it off, as Landorus is more than capable of taking a hit or two in order to finish off a sweep.
Excadrill is another incredible new Pokemon. Its Ground/Steel typing gives it plenty of resistances to use in order to set up, and after one turn of setup, it becomes one of the most effective Sandstorm sweepers in the metagame. In sand, it hits up to 604 Speed, and after a Swords Dance, it's looking at 738 Attack. Its movepool isn't great, but it's got everything it needs. Rock Slide does enough damage to take out most Flying-types, and X-Scissor is perfect to deal with Grass-types and Levitating Psychic-types. 110/60/65 defenses are also better than most sweepers, and allow it to absorb damage while either setting up or sweeping. It's tough for it to get past Gliscor and Skarmory, but if an opponent's bulkier Pokemon are dead, Excadrill can just blow straight through most offensive teams with ease. It can even play a more supportive role for offensive teams, as its access to Rapid Spin makes it the most effective remover of entry hazards in the entire metagame.
Krookodile is another fairly interesting new Ground-type. While it's been largely overshadowed by its mole and genie cohorts, it's still got plenty of tools to be effective in the OU metagame. 95/70/70 defenses are decent, and especially effective when you factor in its access to Intimidate. It's also got 117 Attack and 92 Speed, complemented by solid Ground/Dark STABs and access to Fire Fang, Thunder Fang, and Stone Edge. Defensive sets can also use Dragon Tail to whittle down foes as it sends them out of play a la Roar and Whirlwind. It can even play at a trapping set with STAB Pursuit, which makes it an effective check to many Ghost-types in the metagame.
Last, but not least, Golurk boasts a unique Ground/Ghost typing, which makes it one of the few Pokemon in the metagame to not only resist both of Terrakion's STABs, but also its X-Scissor as well. Its 124 base Attack makes it a veritable offensive threat, especially when you take into account its Iron Fist ability, which gives it a 72 Base Power Shadow Punch. Its 89/80/80 defenses leave something to be desired, though, but its typing more than makes up for it. Finally, 55 base Speed isn't great, but it's enough to use a Rock Polish set, which can allow it to attempt a sweep.
There aren't really any awesome new defensive behemoths in Generation 5, but there's one Pokemon that definitely benefited from the generation gap - Gliscor. Its Dream World ability, Poison Heal, gives it an immunity to status as well as double the normal Leftovers healing, allowing it to heal passively instead of actively with Roost. The only real issue with Poison Heal Gliscor is that it is unable to use Stealth Rock and Roost, but these downsides are largely irrelevant compared to the incredible benefit that Poison Heal gives to Gliscor. Poison Heal also gives Gliscor a bit more offensive power, as Normal and Ground have solid offensive synergy, and Facade gives Gliscor a powerful tool to use against Pokemon that resist Ground.
Little Cup hasn't had quite the Ground-type domination that OU has, but there are still a couple new threats that have emerged from Generation 5. Golett, Golurk's pre-evolution, packs the same offensive prowess that its big brother has in OU, but in Little Cup, its base 35 Speed is enough to use a Choice Scarf set. With two useful immunities and a couple of solid resistances, it makes an excellent check to some scary Pokemon, as well as a useful revenge killer in a number of situations. It can also use Rock Polish to become an impromptu sweeper, though Gligar can make it tough for Golett to get anywhere as a sweeper.
Sandile is also decent. It's one of the fastest Ground-types in Little Cup, and its access to Intimidate makes it pretty easy to switch in on physical attackers using resisted or neutral attacks. Its Ground-Dark coverage is even better in Little Cup as well, as there's no Skarmory to stand in its way. However, its defenses aren't nearly as good as Krookodile's are in OU, so it's tough to switch it in repeatedly.
Earthquake – 100 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – Hits opponents using Dig for 2x power
New generation, still the gold standard for power. Sand Power just makes it better, as Landorus effectively gets to use a 130 Base Power Earthquake with no drawbacks, which is enough to bash through most Pokemon without a resistance. The new Balloon item has made Earthquake a lot more of a liability, though, and it's surprising how many Pokemon are willing to give up their item slot just to avoid Earthquakes.
Earth Power – 90 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – 10% chance to lower opponent's Special Defense by one stage
With the decreased relevance of Heatran in the metagame, Earth Power isn't quite as widespread any more. However, it's still an important coverage move for a number of Pokemon, and isn't likely to disappear any time soon.
Spikes – --% Accuracy – Enemies not immune to Ground lose 12.5/18.75/25% of their max HP in damage upon switching in.
Spikes have become much more common in Generation 5, largely thanks to Ferrothorn, the most effective Spiker to come around in a very long time. Now that they've become nearly ubiquitous, Spikes have really come into the forefront as a top threat, especially against teams that rely on defensive synergy for their power.
Ground-types are certainly shaking things up in this new metagame, so to speak. It's not clear whether or not these are legitimate threats or just a fad, but it's extremely likely that Ground-types are here to stay in the limelight of Generation 5.
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