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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of months or are a complete noob, you'd know that the UU ladder has been added to the Smogon server, and Suspect Testing has been underway. In case you missed it, here is a recap of what happened during the last two rounds of UU.
Round 1 was, in short, a crazy and chaotic time. It was full of speculation, trial and error, and huge surprises. So, what exactly went on in Round 1?
One of the most speculated and expected trends going into round one was what kind of effect Vulpix and its ability Drought would have on the metagame. Many thought that sun would have free reign in a tier with only two other instant weather changers (both of which are pretty weak to sun teams) to compete with, as well as a complete lack of Drizzle. And free reign it did have. With Darmanitan, Volcarona, Chandelure, and Venusaur being the only sun-abusers absent from UU, sun teams had a ton of fire power (pun intended) left to play with. Among these abusers included the multitude of Chlorophyll Pokemon (particularly Sawsbuck, Victreebel, and Lilligant), Solar Power Charizard, as well as Victini and its newly acquired power move V-create. And what's more, sun teams were easy to use and won more often than not.
So what did a typical sun team look like? Most sun teams consisted of Vulpix and Victini, 1-3 Chlorophyll Pokemon, and 1-2 supporters to combat enemy sun and hail teams (typically Chansey, Slowbro, and / or Hitmontop). The main strategy behind sun teams was to lead with Vulpix, and then just spam the other sun abusers. Victini's insane V-create was abused to its fullest with a simple Choice Band, Choice Scarf, or Life Orb set. The Chlorophyll Pokemon typically carried a Life Orb, set up with Swords Dance, Growth, or Quiver Dance, and then swept the opposition. Like I said, pretty simple right?
What was sun's lasting effect on the metagame? Well, by the time the round was ending, it was pretty clear that sun teams were broken. Many blamed Victini for its brokenness, and that getting rid of it would kind of cure the metagame. Others disagreed, and figured it was a combination of Victini and the Chlorophyllers. In the end, only Drought got the boot out, forever ending the sun's reign in UU.
While Kyurem was largely forgotten in OU, people were quick to realize that the frozen chicken would have a huge effect on the UU metagame. Just looking at its stats tells you that you've got a powerhouse on your hands; combine that with its awesome offensive typing, good movepool, and infinite hail (along with a 100% accurate STAB Blizzard) to support it from Abomasnow, and you have quite the force to be reckoned with.
So what effect did Kyurem have on the metagame? A huge one, to put it mildly. Even with sun teams running rampant in the tier, Kyurem was able to hold its own and become the second most used Pokemon in UU. Kyurem basically required every team to run a Pokemon to absorb its insanely powerful Draco Meteors, Outrages, and Blizzards (usually Chansey, Registeel, or Slowbro). Besides having to worry about the strong attacks Kyurem was throwing left and right, you also had no idea which set your opponent was running until it was too late. Kyurem was very, very versatile. The most common set was a simple Specs set, but Kyurem could also easily run Sub + 3 Attacks, Sub + Hone Claws, Choice Band, Choice Scarf, and even defensive Sub + Dragon Tail sets.
Ultimately, even with the presence of sun teams, Kyurem was deemed too powerful for the metagame, accumulating an astonishing 100% ban from the voters, and got the boot.
Even before the formation of OU, an item was discovered within the new BW games that would boost the defenses of pre-evolutions called the Eviolite (or Evolution Stone back then). Immediately, speculation surrounded which pre-evolutions would benefit the most from this item, and Chansey was on top of this list. With overall defenses that would surpass even those of its evolution, people thought Chansey would become the end-all-be-all special wall of the metagame. Unfortunately for the pink blob, Blissey is still used more thanks to, ironically enough, its ability to hold items other than the Eviolite (namely Leftovers). Due to this, Chansey's usage fell enough for it to drop into UU.
People were quick to jump at the chance to use Chansey for all of their walling needs within UU. Thanks to the relative lack of harmful weather and entry hazards (which meant that the lack of Leftovers wasn't as big of a deal), all people had to do was stick Chansey on their team and special attacks (and even some physical ones) were all but leaves in the wind on the way to victory.
So what effect did Chansey have on the metagame? Enough of an impact to make some people think that the pink blob was broken, even with Drought and Kyurem in the tier. More than that, though, Chansey forced all but the strongest special attackers completely out of the metagame, and those that could beat Chansey one-on-one (Mew, Deoxys-D, Azelf) normally relied on Taunt, Psyshock, and either Toxic or entry hazard support to penetrate the blob's pudgy hide. Unfortunately for Chansey haters, she fell way short of being banned from the metagame, with only half (exactly 50%) deeming Chansey too strong for the metagame.
SmashPassing is a strategy in which the goal is to have either one of Gorebyss, Smeargle, or Huntail use Shell Smash, then Baton Pass to a teammate to decimate the opposition. While at first this strategy seems simple and straightforward, and a little bit crazy considering Shell Smash lowers the users defenses as well, the strategy gets far more convoluted when you add in the other components of the team. Most dedicated SmashPass teams followed a specific battle strategy, and normally consisted of Azelf or Uxie, 1-2 SmashPassers, and 3 receivers. The strategy normally followed the order of setting up dual screens with the lead Uxie or Azelf and then using Memento, then bringing in the passer and using Shell Smash as the opponent was weakened (recovering the loss of defenses with a White Herb), setting up Substitute if possible, and then Baton Passing to one of the three receivers. Almost any Pokemon becomes a force to be reckoned with at +2 Atk, +2 SpA, +2 Spe, but there were some that were far above others. Espeon gained fame as a receiver thanks to its ability Magic Bounce and its access to the move Stored Power. Due to its ability, Espeon could not be phazed out or Taunted, and only Haze could eliminate its stat boosts. Mamoswine was another powerhouse thanks to its huge base 130 Attack stat and priority in Ice Shard.
So what effect did SmashPassing have on the metagame? At first, people cried bloody murder that the strategy as a whole was broken, as with Espeon being the receiver, there was little you could do as a player to beat it without dedicating your team to beating SmashPass (i.e carrying Haze and Taunting the lead Pokemon with something faster, such as Crobat). However, once people learned how and when to strike the SmashPass team, it became less broken in the eyes of the voters, coming away with a simple majority 64.29% ban, meaning it would stick around for at least one more round.
The latest round of UU was a little more stable than Round 1. Still, new strategies were found every day, and every battle was sure to harbor a surprise. So, what went on in Round 2?
Towards the tail-end of Round 1, the power of Staraptor was unleashed unto the metagame. Mirroring its last stint in UU, Staraptor terrorized the tier with its powerful attacks and Speed. Only this time, Staraptor was packing even more artillery. Thanks to the Dream World, Staraptor was given a god-send in the ability Reckless, which powers up its already powerful STAB recoil moves, namely Brave Bird and Double-Edge.
So what effect did Staraptor have on the metagame? Staraptor basically forced every team to pack at least 2 Pokemon that could absorb its strongest attacks, usually Rhyperior, Eviolite Dusclops, or Registeel. It also made the 100 base Speed tier that much more of an important benchmark. If your Pokemon sat above that mark, you were golden. If your Pokemon fell short, they were usually in constant danger, and they had better be bulky if they wanted to stick around long.
So what made Staraptor so dangerous? Its sheer power, for one. With the appropriate move, Staraptor was quite capable of 2HKOing nearly every wall in the tier whilst holding just a Life Orb. Its unpredictability was another big factor. Staraptor was fully capable of running a Choice Band, Scarf, Life Orb, or SubRoost set. If you predicted wrong against a Staraptor, it could very easily result in a KOed Pokemon.
In the end, Staraptor was deemed far too powerful for the metagame, and was handed a ban by 88% of the voters.
SmashPass was just as relevant in Round 2 as in Round 1, except this time Espeon gained a new toy via the Dream World: a way to breed Baton Pass onto an Espeon with the ability Magic Bounce. With this new capability, Espeon no longer had to be a dedicated receiver on a SmashPass team. Instead, she was capable of continuing the chain once the baton was passed to her. This provided SmashPass teams (and Baton Pass teams in general) with a much needed way to bypass Taunt and phazing moves, making Haze and Perish Song the only surefire ways to break the chain.
Not only were SmashPass teams and Espeon abusing Baton Pass, but there were many other "short pass" teams raiding the tier. Short passing is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of basing the whole team on Baton Pass, there is usually only 1 or 2 Pokemon on the team with a boosting move, and they pass directly to the receiver without garnering any other boosts on the way. Mew, Smeargle, Celebi, and Venomoth came to the forefront as short passers in Round 2. Mew and Smeargle are obvious candidates for short passers due to their enormous movepools and capability of passing nearly every kind of boost imaginable. Celebi, while not having nearly as many options as Mew, does come with just as much surprise factor as a short passer. This is mostly because most Celebi are straight sweepers or defensive supporters. Usually, when a player sees Celebi switch into their Suicune, their instinct is to suspect a special attacking offensive set and run to the hills to grab their special wall (coughChanseycough). Unfortunately for the opponent, that same Celebi can instead use Swords Dance as they switch out, which will either directly threaten the opponent's wall, or allow Celebi to pass to a physical sweeper to take advantage of the situation. Finally, Venomoth is the only Pokemon, besides Smeargle and Masquerain, that gets both Quiver Dance and Baton Pass. This combination is even more threatening when paired with Sleep Powder, which allows Venomoth an entirely free turn to set up and then Baton Pass to a teammate. The most popular Pokemon for Venomoth to Baton Pass to was Nidoking, who with a Quiver Dance boost or two under its belt was very capable of annihilating most of the tier thanks to its Sheer Force-boosted moves.
In the end, even with all of the controversy surrounding Baton Pass, only Espeon received a 96% ban, and was kicked out of the tier for good.
Chansey garnered even more hate in this round thanks to its ability to just sit and wall a substantial portion of the metagame with its defenses alone. However, with sun now out of the equation, Dugtrio and Wobbuffet were able to come out of their caves and assume the role they were born to play: trapping. What better way to dispose of a dirty blob than trap it and ensure it can't run away (and if you're Wobbuffet, proceed to Tickle it to death)? One of the best and easiest ways (if you could predict correctly and ran enough Speed) was to send Wobbuffet in on Chansey, set up Safe Guard to block Thunder Wave and Toxic (or Encore Softboiled or Wish), and spam Tickle. Once Chansey's Defense was lowered enough, all you had to do was send in a Pokemon with Pursuit and say sayonara to the pink menace.
Of course, Chansey wasn't the trappers' only target. Wobbuffet was just as capable as ever, and even with the Encore nerf it was causing a lot of headaches in the tier. Dugtrio wasn't used quite as much due to its general frailty and relative lack of power, but it still provided a last resort check to multiple top tier threats, including Empoleon, Registeel, Cobalion, and Rhyperior (if they were sufficiently weakened before-hand).
In the end, the voters deemed Wobbuffet too cheap, and saluted him a 92% ban out of the tier.
While hail lost its biggest gun in Kyurem, it was still a major factor in the metagame, with many of the top teams on the ladder abusing it to its fullest. Hail's other big perks were its ability to capably check Staraptor with STAB Blizzards and Ice Shards and, as most hail teams were defensive in nature, most carried a phazer to counter Baton Pass teams.
So what did a typical hail team look like? Most basic defensive teams consisted of Abomasnow, Froslass, Mamoswine (more commonly seen on offensive teams), and Walrein for Ice-types, and then 1-3 of Nidoqueen, Hitmontop, and Chansey to absorb Rock-, Fighting-, and Fire-type attacks, respectively. As most teams were defensive stall teams, the goal was to lay as many entry hazards as possible (Froslass covering Spikes and Nidoqueen covering Stealth Rock and Toxic Spikes), keep entry hazards off of their side of the field with Rapid Spin, then stall out the opponent as long as possible.
What effect did hail have on the metagame? Towards the end of the round, many people suspected hail of being broken due to several different reasons. The first was the Snow Cloak evasion boost granted to Mamoswine, Glaceon, and particularly Froslass. This evasion boost was very capable of turning an easily won game to a loss due to a miss. Not only that, but Froslass could easily hax your team to death through misses and paralysis, while sitting behind a Substitute and basically screwing your team out of a win. The second was most hail teams' use of Wobbuffet. Thanks to Wobbuffet, the team could ensure that any hard counter could easily be disposed of, and continue to either BlizzSpam or stall to victory. Lastly, if the team carried Espeon, it was nearly impossible to counter the hail team with entry hazards, or even Taunt or phaze the defensive Pokemon.
While there was a ton of controversy towards the end of the round, Snow Warning only received a 37.5% Ban, ensuring that hail will be around for at least another round.
Round 3 is just around the corner, and with Chansey, hail, and many other threats still buzzing around the tier, the next suspect rounds are sure to be packed with even more controversy, speculation, and surprises. Hope to see you on the ladder!
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