What's an RU?

By Oglemi. Art by Chou Toshio.
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Recently, you may have noticed a new thread in Dragonspiral Tower on the forums entitled "the RU tier." Or, you may have seen it recently added on the PO server. So what is this mysterious RU tier? It's a brand new usage tier added in between UU and NU to basically split the would-be enormous NU tier in two. So, yes, this tier will be directly affected by usage statistics, will be recognized by Smogon as an official tier, and will, in the future, have suspect tests and analyses dedicated to it.

With that out of the way, here's some Pokemon and strategies you can be sure to see if you're itching to try out the new metagame.

Rise of the Bugs

Yes you read that right, it's finally the Bug-types' time to shine! While the bane of their existence, Stealth Rock, is still present even in RU, it can't be denied that some of the biggest threats to watch out for in RU are none other than the bugs. Yanmega, Durant, Venomoth, Scolipede, and Scyther are all present in the tier, and if you can keep Stealth Rock off the field, they are easily worth their own weight in gold. Not only are they some of the best Pokemon available, they also check the other (arguably) biggest threat in the tier, Cresselia, whom I'll cover next.

So what are some sets to look out for?

Yanmega @ Choice Specs
Ability: Tinted Lens
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Nature: Modest (+SpA, -Atk) or Timid (+Spe, -Atk)
- Bug Buzz
- Air Slash
- Hidden Power Ground
- Giga Drain

Even though RU has only been around for a couple of weeks, a lot of people are claiming Yanmega to be broken. And this is Yanmega's bread and butter set. The idea is very simple: switch in, blast away with whatever attack your heart desires, and watch your opponent crumble. The idea isn't necessarily to sweep, but to break the opponent's walls. With only a couple of hard counters in UU (mainly Munchlax), there isn't much stopping Yanmega from ripping RU apart. Your best bet against any version of Yanmega is to pack priority or simply be faster and hit it before it can hit you (which is very hard to do). It also helps if you can keep Stealth Rock on the field, as it strips Yanmega of 50% of its health every time it switches in.

Venomoth @ Life Orb
Ability: Tinted Lens
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Nature: Timid (+Spe, -Atk)
- Quiver Dance
- Sleep Powder
- Baton Pass
- Bug Buzz

Yanmega's comrade-in-arms, Venomoth is another very dangerous threat in RU and one you must prepare for. While Venomoth doesn't pack quite as much power initially, it doesn't really need to. The main goal of this set is to switch in, put the opponent to sleep, set up Quiver Dance, and then either sweep or Baton Pass to a teammate to finish the job. The idea is simple enough, and it's actually pretty easy to accomplish, making Venomoth another Pokemon that's sure to be on the voter's hit list when suspect testing starts. So, how do you stop this dancing menace? Almost exactly the same way you counter Yanmega, with priority and Stealth Rock. Only in Venomoth's case, Spikes damages it too, so if you can, get those down early. Once Venomoth has put something to sleep, it's much easier to deal with if you switch in a physical attacking special wall (read: Munchlax), but it may then just Baton Pass out, so be sure to pack some phazing moves too.

The Moon Duck

AKA, Cresselia. With the multitude of Bugs running rampant in the tier, you'd think that Cresselia would've been run out of town long ago. But, the truth is actually quite the contrary. It turns out the Bugs are the only thing keeping Cresselia from grabbing the throne and reigning over RU with an iron fist (wing?). Her bulk is way beyond the RU norm, and while her typing is disadvantageous, her ability Levitate gives her an immunity to Toxic Spikes and Spikes (a huge boon to any defensive Pokemon). While a defensive wall / supporter in nature, Cresselia is very capable of turning into an offensive tank and steam rolling over her opponents.

If you play any RU, you're sure to run into the following set:

Cresselia @ Leftovers
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Nature: Bold (+Def, -Atk)
- Substitute
- Calm Mind
- Moonlight
- Ice Beam / Psychic

The set that broke the camel's back, as it were. This is arguably Cresselia's best set, and the one that has many people crying "Ban Cresselia!" What's so dangerous about a simple SubCM set? The main problem stems from many Pokemon in the tier's incapability of breaking Cresselia's Substitutes after just one Calm Mind boost. Once Cresselia reaches that threshold, very few Pokemon are capable of beating Cresselia one-on-one. As an added bonus, infinite weather is practically non-existent in RU (only Snover resides down here), thus giving Cresselia an almost constant source of reliable healing. So, how do you go about countering this behemoth? Nailing it with Toxic as it switches in is your best bet; once you do that, Cresselia will go down eventually. Unaware Quagsire is another hard counter to SubCM Cresselia, as it ignores any of her stat boosts and can set up with Curse itself. Finally, it all depends on which move Cresselia has in the last slot. If Cresselia is running Ice Beam, Regice and Slowking are very capable of out-stalling (PP stalling) Cresselia or phazing her out. If Cresselia is running Psychic, she has no chance against any Dark-type, particularly Honchkrow and Umbreon.

The Volcano Dog

Entei emerges as one of the best anti-metagame Pokemon available in RU (though it's now becoming a staple on most teams). The reasoning behind this should be pretty obvious: most of the top threats in the tier are weak to Fire-type and priority moves, and Entei happens to be the owner of some of the strongest of both. It also helps that Entei is arguably the bulkiest Fire-type available in the tier.

So what should you expect if you run into this beast?

Entei @ Choice Band
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Nature: Adamant (+Atk, -SpA)
- Flare Blitz
- ExtremeSpeed
- Stone Edge
- Toxic / Iron Head

Entei packs a ton of power with just the first three moves, and is very capable of picking off most Bug-types that are giving you trouble. Choice Band and an Adamant nature is used to give Entei as much oomph as possible. Flare Blitz provides a reliable and devastating STAB move, blowing away any Bug-type giving you trouble. ExtremeSpeed suits Entei perfectly, giving it priority over other priority moves (such as Aqua Jet), and allows Entei to pick off Venomoth and Sharpedo who have accumulated too many Speed boosts. Stone Edge gives Entei a way to rip apart other Fire-types (particularly enemy Entei and Moltres). The last slot is largely filler. Toxic may seem stupid to have on a Choice set, but it's Entei's best weapon against Cresselia and Blastoise. If Toxic doesn't float your boat, Iron Head can be used to get a super effective hit on Rhyperior.

The NFE's New-Found Glory

The amount of Pokemon that can take advantage of the item Eviolite effectively in OU and UU are few and far between. However in RU, there are a ton of NFE Pokemon that can take advantage of Eviolite and be extremely dangerous. Ferroseed, Gligar, Machoke, Gurdurr, Murkrow, Thick Fat Piloswine, Tangela, and Snover are just a few Pokemon that are actually top-tier threats with the Eviolite equipped. You can be sure to see countless innovative sets and Pokemon while playing on the RU ladder.

Here's a set that has gained a lot of popularity and you can be sure to see eventually in RU:

Ferroseed @ Eviolite
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
Nature: Sassy (+SpD, -Spe)
IVs: 0 Spe
- Stealth Rock / Spikes
- Leech Seed
- Toxic / Protect
- Gyro Ball

With overall defenses only slightly less than that of Ferrothorn, Ferroseed is very durable and its typing is as godly as ever. While using Ferroseed doesn't seem like the best of ideas considering Bug-type attacks score a neutral hit and Entei is rising as a top threat, it does have its uses. Setting up Stealth Rock is needed on every team as long as Yanmega and Venomoth are in the tier. As an added bonus, Ferroseed counters the two most common Rapid Spin users in RU, Blastoise and Claydol. The other moves are for general utility. Leech Seed and Toxic allow Ferroseed to out-stall any Cresselia, and they provide Ferroseed a way to deal Entei a nasty blow as it tries to switch in. Finally, Gyro Ball is there to ensure that Ferroseed isn't complete Taunt bait, and actually scores a nice hit on any Pokemon above a base 48 Speed stat, even with Ferroseed's abysmal Attack stat.

The Weather Man is Reporting Rainy Conditions

While hail is certainly still present in RU thanks to Snover, rain is actually rapidly gaining more popularity, even though the rain can only last for 8 turns at a time with the Damp Rock. There are a lot of reasons behind this. Firstly, rain has almost all of its best Swift Swim sweepers in RU, including Gorebyss, Huntail, Omastar, Kabutops, Ludicolo, and Qwilfish. Secondly, hail is lacking two of its best abusers: Mamoswine and Froslass. Lastly, Water-type attacks' great neutral coverage is even more pronounced in RU, the most common Pokemon that resist it being weak to the rain sweepers' other moves (Ferroseed being the exception, though Ludicolo can bypass it with Focus Blast). Not only are there Swift Swim sweepers to worry about, but there are many Pokemon that can take advantage of the rain, including Speed Boost Sharpedo.

Here's a common Sharpedo set that functions well outside of rain but is even more dangerous with it raining:

Sharpedo @ Life Orb
Ability: Speed Boost
EVs: 176 HP / 252 Atk / 80 Spe
Nature: Adamant (+Atk, -SpA)
- Protect
- Waterfall
- Crunch
- Aqua Jet

After a single Speed Boost, Sharpedo almost outspeeds the entire tier, only missing out on a couple of Choice Scarf users. With it raining, Sharpedo is capable of OHKOing a large amount of RU with just Waterfall and Aqua Jet alone. Crunch provides Sharpedo with another reliable STAB attack, and it gets a nice super effective hit on Cresselia (though she must be weakened for it to KO). While Sharpedo's coverage may seem limited with just Water/Dark, it actually gets perfect neutral coverage for the whole tier, bar Ferroseed and Poliwrath (and to a far lesser extent Crawdaunt, Cacturne, and Shiftry). Sharpedo acts as a fantastic late-game sweeper, and if Ferroseed, Entei (due to ExtremeSpeed), and Poliwrath have been sufficiently weakened, it has no problem finishing the game with a sweep. Sharpedo is another Pokemon you must prepare for if you plan on playing RU. A good way to counter it is with priority, fast Choice Scarf users before it has accumulated too many Speed Boosts (Galvantula for example), and making sure your bulky Grass- or Water-type, such as Tangela or Gastrodon, is at full health when the opponent brings Sharpedo out (beware of Ice Beam, though, if using a Grass-type).

Get out there and play!

While many people are starting to complain that there are too many broken Pokemon allowed in RU at the time, suspect testing will start soon. And with suspect testing will come the chance to get any broken Pokemon out of the tier for good. Until then, enjoy blasting the tier away with the aforementioned Pokemon, and have fun experimenting! Experimenting is a great way to get to know a new metagame, and who knows, maybe you'll be the next person to discover the next great set!

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