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It's a brave new world in Generation V. While there's nothing new in the generation quite so significant as other generational transitions, such as the introduction of abilities in Generation 3 or the physical-special split in Generation 4, there was still a gigantic metagame shakeup brought on by the new Pokémon in Generation 5. So of course, when push came to shove, a lot of Pokémon that previously found their home in OU were all of a sudden out of a job. Let's take a look at some of these "Fallen Stars" and analyze just how things went so wrong in such a short amount of time.
Ever since the very beginning of Pokémon, Zapdos held firm as the best of the three legendary birds from RBY. Boasting an incredible stat spread, an excellent typing, and a sparse yet effective movepool, Zapdos enjoyed success in OU while its brothers Moltres and Articuno languished in the lower tiers. Despite its movepool consisting of essentially its dual STAB alone, it still enjoyed significant use as a mixed attacker, defensive monster, and in some cases even an exceptional Baton Pass user. In Generation IV things were looking up for the good old electric bird, as it finally picked up reliable healing in the form of Roost, as well as the Platinum move tutor Heat Wave giving it a new tool in its offensive movepool. Throughout all of Gen IV, things were looking rosy for Zapdos.
A lot of competition, that's what. As a special attacker, it lost a lot of its appeal when Rotom-W picked up its fancy new Water typing and took off like a rocket toward the top of the usage statistics. Latias and Latios also made their way back down, accompanied by the new and fancy Hydreigon, taking over as the new "powerful, Ground-immune special attackers with ~100 Base Speed" bloc (It should also be noted that these Pokémon all switch into Zapdos fairly easily and wreck it). Furthermore, the old SubRoost set with Thunderbolt and Toxic was for a long time less effective and more a liability, as Excadrill used it as an excuse to waltz in and set up for free, and nobody liked giving Excadrill free setup.
While it waffles about the OU usage statistics at somewhere around #60, it finds itself firmly at home in 12th place in UU. With few Dragon-types to threaten it, and solid defenses, it's more than capable of terrorizing the tier with a simple offensive Thunderbolt / Heat Wave / Hidden Power Ice / Roost @ Life Orb set, even moreso now that Chansey has vacated the tier. It's also still a defensive threat, as its 90 / 85 / 90 defenses and great defensive typing haven't gone anywhere. On top of that, one day it might finally pick up its Lightningrod ability from Dream World, giving it an Electric immunity and a way to boost its Special Attack. If that ever happens, we might just see Zapdos fluttering back to OU once again!
One of the other RBY Pokémon that was firmly OU for its entire career, Snorlax was the epitome of meaty Normal-type offense for a good long time. While lacking the speed of Tauros, it made up for it with massive HP, Selfdestruct, and Amnesia, a move which in RBY caused Pokémon to simply forget how to lose. It basically defined GSC as well, dominating the tier with its powerful Curse and Belly Drum sets, and essentially forcing the metagame to bend to its will or be crushed under its weight. After that, it was still solid—in Generation III it picked up Thick Fat, giving it actual resistances, and Curselax was still a well known phrase. Its massive HP, solid Special Defense, and excellent movepool made it more than threatening no matter which direction you took it in. This trend remained through Generation IV, where it never really dominated but was still more than competent, and took many an unprepared team by storm.
Conkeldurr happened. At the beginning of Generation 5, everyone was infatuated with Conkeldurr, a new Fighting-type with superlative bulk, Bulk Up, Drain Punch, and most importantly, Mach Punch. Conkeldurr quickly rose through the ranks, finding itself near the top 10 mark for quite some time. Eventually, it fell off, and things returned to normal, but by then, the damage had been done. Snorlax never really recovered, and even now, Snorlax finds itself sitting at around #80 in the usage statistics.
Snorlax now finds itself a top 20 Pokémon in UU, where it manages to establish itself as a top tier threat despite the presence of Fighting-type attackers such as Heracross and Machamp. Still, its outstanding combination of bulk, power, and Curse give it an intimidating presence in the tier. Its massive HP and Special Defense make it an effective option for taking on special attackers without sacrificing a team's offensive potential, and it can also just go all-out with a Choice Band set, using Return, Earthquake, Fire Punch / Crunch, and Pursuit to tank hits and blast straight through teams.
Back in Generation III, Flygon was an interesting beast. It didn't have Dragonite's bulk, nor did it have Salamence's raw power and speed. What it did have, however, was a unique typing and set of resistances that set it apart from all the other Dragon-types. See, in Generation III, Dragon was exclusively a Special Attack-based type, which meant that when Salamence wanted to hit stuff with physical attacks, it had to rely on either exclusively unSTAB Earthquake and the then-physical Hidden Power Flying. This was an affliction shared equally by all Dragon-types... that is, except for Flygon. It had the unique boon of being a Dragon-type that could actually take advantage of its secondary STAB without resorting to the weak Hidden Power. It could also take on Pokémon that used the QuakeSlide combination fairly easily, as between Levitate and its Ground typing it was one of the few Pokémon that resisted the two. Shuffling with Screech, threatening with Substitute, or just going all out with Choice Band, Flygon could pose more than its share of threats.
When Generation IV came around, and Garchomp became the big new man on the scene, things looked grim for Flygon. However, when Garchomp ended up banished to Ubers, never to be seen again, Flygon found itself quite at home in OU, where unlike the other Dragon-types in the tier, it resisted Stealth Rock, making it an excellent Choice Scarf user. Access to U-turn just accentuated this, and before long, Flygon quickly became one of the top Choice Scarf users, as it could scout, revenge kill, and just generally threaten most teams. Things just got better when Salamence vacated the tier, as Flygon finally found itself king of the OU Dragon-types.
Lots happened. When Generation V began, the OU tier became flooded with a menagerie of lethal Dragon-types, both new and old. The Lati twins were back to play, and while Garchomp quickly got the boot once more, Salamence was back to his old ways once again. Meanwhile, monsters such as Hydreigon and Haxorus burst onto the scene, eager to take over as the fancy new Scarf-wielding Dragons. But most of all, Dragonite grabbed its Dream World ability, Multiscale, and quickly dominated the metagame due to just how hard it was to kill it off. With that many excellent Dragon-types in the metagame, all sitting in that fancy ~100 base Speed bracket, Flygon just didn't have a place in the metagame any more.
Well, where else? With essentially every single Dragon-type ending up in OU with the exception of stuff such as Altaria and Druddigon, Flygon was free to establish itself as a dominant force in UU. Its unique set of resistances combined with its high power and above-average speed quickly cemented it as a top contender in the UU metagame. While the inclusion of Team Preview in Generation V has reduced the usefulness of a scout like Flygon, it's still more than capable of seizing and keeping momentum on a good offensive team. It can revenge kill troublesome Pokémon with a Choice Scarf set, bust through teams with a Band set, or just break down some walls with a mixed Life Orb set. Flygon is so effective in UU that it's even a top 5 Pokémon, better than its performance in any other metagame to date.
As one of the three legendary beasts from Generation II, Suicune was a beast blessed with the highest defenses. Its 100/115/115 defenses and mono-Water typing made it an impenetrable bulwark against a number of top threats. With its exceptional defenses and Roar, it could easily shuffle teams around for days, or it could just chill out stalling with RestTalk until the opposing team died or it ran out of PP.
Then in Generation III, the set that Suicune would be known forever was created: Crocune. Suicune picked up the move Calm Mind in Generation III, and a mono-attacking set of Surf / Calm Mind / Rest / Sleep Talk gave it the ability to sit around and boost as much as it wanted while shrugging off most any attack aimed at it—after enough Calm Minds, not even Thunderbolts and Grass attacks troubled it. This continued in Generation IV, though that generation saw the creation of faster and more offensive variants, which use Suicune's decent 90 base Special Attack and 85 base Speed to take down offensive teams, as Suicune is still remarkably bulky without investment.
A number of things happened which made Suicune less than desirable in Generation V. Ferrothorn is probably the biggest problem for Suicune, as it can switch into nearly any Suicune variant and pound it with Power Whip. There's also the extreme prevalence of Rotom-W, which now resists both Ice Beam and Surf, and as such can essentially switch in for free and wreck it with Thunderbolt. There's also a lot more preparation for Water-type Pokémon in Generation V, as the presence of Politoed and its rain-summoning ability has made it significantly more important to pack protection against strong, bulky Water-types. Last, but certainly not least, Dragonite shut down the existence of mono-water attackers once and for all, as anything that can't touch Dragonite is liable to lose the game then and there. With the addition of new ways to easily deal with Suicune on nearly every team, it just couldn't do things as effectively as it used to, and this led to its inevitable fall from grace.
Suicune's quite at home in UU, where it has proven itself to be quite competitive with the other Water-types in the metagame. While it lacks some of the cute tricks that its competitors Milotic and Slowbro have, it more than makes up for it with its raw bulk. 100/115/115 defenses make it close to the bulkiest thing in UU, and it can wall for days with Scald / Roar / Rest / Sleep Talk. It's also still a great Calm Mind user, as unlike Slowbro, it doesn't have a secondary Psychic typing to plague it, and as such is much less worried about Pokémon such as Heracross, Escavalier, and Bisharp coming in and ruining its fun. In fact, it's arguably better at Calm Mind in Generation V than any other generation, because Scald synergizes so well with it. Additionally, because all the major Water Absorb wielders have been drafted to OU to protect against rain teams, there are none left in UU to stop a mono-Water sweep cold. That's not to say it doesn't have problems—Roserade and Shaymin are kinda jerks to it, but they can be dealt with.
Honestly, nobody really knows. Back in early DP, Electivire got huge amounts of hype. Granted, the hype wasn't entirely misplaced—Electivre managed to blow through its share of teams back in the day, and GyaraVire mainly became so popular because it, well... actually worked. It had more than capable coverage, with Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, Hidden Power Ice/Grass, and Cross Chop to let it plow through Blissey, and its attacking stats weren't too bad. The key to its success, however, was Motor Drive. If you could get it in on an Electric-type attack, it picked up a +1 boost to its Speed, which was often more than enough to breeze through teams with its super effective coverage. At least, that's theoretically what it did. After a while, it stopped being quite so effective at it, though it would still sweep some bad players every once in a while. However, people finally figured out that the words "It's super effective!" didn't actually always equate to a KO, and it eventually fell out of vogue with good players. Mediocre players, on the other hand? They lapped it up, and managed to keep Electivire OU for the entirety of Generation IV.
In Generation V, the novelty wore off, and there was a whole new generation of theoretically great Pokémon to have faffing about in low OU, and there was just no room for Electivire any more. Additionally, the only thing that made Electivire work at all, Motor Drive, just didn't work any more. Team Preview made sure of that, because without the surprise factor of "suddenly +1 Speed Electivire", it just couldn't pick up all those easy sweeps. So finally, something that had long been foretold, and which was destined to happen for a long, long time, finally came to pass—Electivire fell from OU.
In what might be considered a bit of a poetic move, Electivire didn't even end up in UU. Instead, it ekes out a living in the lower recesses of RU, trying desperately to keep itself out of NU, the Pokémon equivalent of the pit of despair. It did pick up a fancy new STAB in the form of Wild Charge, so it's at least a fairly capable physical attacker. Still, it's no star. Its moves are still fairly weak, 95 base Speed isn't amazing, and its defenses are pretty terrible. It's also got to compete with Manectric, which has Lightningrod and also has Flamethrower access, and Galvantula, which has much better Speed, Compoundeyes for Thunder, and a real secondary STAB, as well as Energy Ball for Ground-types. It at least manages to carve itself out a niche as the only real physical Electric-type, narrowly edging out stars such as Eelektross and Luxray. Only time will tell if it can even hang on to that, what with Luxray picking up Guts from Dream World and all.
I hope you've enjoyed this trip down memory lane. It may have seemed that some of these Pokémon would be superstars forever, but as Generation V has proven, anything can change. Even the most mediocre of Pokémon, like Politoed, Ninetales, and the now fearsome Dragonite, can take the metagame by storm. And even old stars, like the ones mentioned here, can end up in the pits. However, despite their fall, these Pokémon never really die. They just find new lives as stars in UU, ready to make a name for themselves all over again.
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