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The RU tier has undergone many changes since its inception as an official Smogon tier. Starting as a tier intended to diversify Pokemon between the UnderUsed and NeverUsed tiers, RU has given many previously forgotten Pokemon a chance to shine. Along the way, it has also evolved into a highly competitive tier worthy of being considered alongside traditional Smogon tiers. From the controversy supplied by the twin Bug-type behemoths, Yanmega and Venomoth, to the quarterly tiering changes that removed Gastrodon and Golurk from the mix, RU has never been bereft of upheaval. Although the tier is still in its infancy, with strategies such as sun and Trick Room still being tested out, the metagame has largely stabilized to a point where key threats can be identified. The biggest influence on the RU metagame is no doubt the tiering changes that redefine each round. With Qwilfish and Krookodile threatening to leave RU, in exchange for Aerodactyl and Nidoqueen, as well as the return of Golurk, RU looks like it'll be shaken up in the near future.
Recently in RU, the suspect process changed from the general ladder ranking required to vote, to a rotating "RU Jedi Council" of seven. Of these seven, forum leader Nails maintains a permanent spot on the council, while the remaining six council members are selected each round by RU Suspect Testing leader Oglemi based on a set of criteria relating to the tier. This has led to a new tiering process, one that has exhibited itself to be very efficient and streamlined in its two installments. The first installment of the RU Council voted on the suspect status of several initial threats in the tier, including the controversial Honchkrow and Lilligant, as well as the combination of Shell Smash and Baton Pass on the same team. In the end results, it was determined that the SmashPass combination was overpowered, providing too much of an advantage at too little cost.
The second incarnation of the RU Suspect Council tackled some further issues, both new and old. There exists a rule against suspects being evaluated in two consecutive rounds, but an exception was made for Honchkrow, who was deemed powerful enough to be considered for suspect status again. Despite the fair number of counters to Honchkrow's most popular set, the fact that it could beat those counters with a moveset adjustment—albeit at the cost of its sweeping potential—weighed heavily on the minds of those who felt it was too strong for the tier. However, the final verdict was to not slate Honchkrow as a suspect.
Another suspect proposed was Snover, the only weather summoner in RU. In the first two rounds of suspect testing, hail was recognized as a powerful force, but a beatable one nonetheless. However, the last few days of the suspect period saw the rise of an extremely powerful team, which abused the abilities of Trick Room + Endeavor Solosis and Duosion, with hail finishing off the 1 HP opponents. Not to be ignored was Snover's own prodigal skill; it could either threaten opponents with its fairly powerful Blizzards or supremely annoy teams with its deadly SubSeed set. Snover received major outcry in the closing days for the support it provided to several abusers, including not just the aforementioned Duosion, but also traditional hail abusers Glaceon, Rotom-F, and Walrein. The final judgement ended up not being passed, as it was decided to allow Snover another round to fully demonstrate its abilities. Despite this result, the UU Suspect Council decided that hail as a whole was too strong for their metagame and banned Snow Warning, resulting in Snover being banned by proxy from RU.
The final suspect suggested was eventually the only Pokemon to be slated on the suspect ballot. Returning from its ban in Gen 4 UU, Porygon-Z saw relatively little overall usage and caused little controversy. However, the power Porygon-Z possessed with a multitude of viable sets, such as the powerful Nasty Plot and Choice sets, as well as the fact that, after hazard support, it had zero hard counters, warranted its suspect status. Porygon-Z proved contentious, with the decision coming down to the final vote, but in the end, the final decision on Porygon-Z was that the tier would not suffer from its presence.
Part of the main allure to the RarelyUsed tier lies in the fact that virtually every type of competitive playstyle imaginable is viable. All the mainstays in competitive Pokemon—offense, balance, and stall—are present, but more niche strategies, such as Trick Room, are also able to flourish. Most appealing is the fact that no one strategy is more dominant than the others, although the playerbase shows a bias towards more offensive types of teams. The lack of a power creep in RU compared to OU is likely the primary reason for this diversity. Although several Pokemon have established themselves as the powerhouses in the tier, it is rare that a Pokemon will find itself entirely outclassed in its role; there is almost always some niche that can be fulfilled to assist a team, whether it be in a sweeping role, a defensive role, or a support role.
The three classic forms of competitive playstyles all vie with each other for the role of the dominant force in RU, but none of them are able to assert dominance over another. The fact of the matter is, in RU, Pokemon are neither powerful enough to break through the majority of the tier with ease, nor bulky enough to wall the same as such. Pokemon such as Gallade and Krookodile are heralded for their ability to sweep teams, yet these Pokemon are themselves stopped cold by Qwilfish and Gligar, which are in turn beaten by other Pokemon, and so on and so forth. Each style of play has numerous options when looking to build the optimal team, and yet each well-built team finds it difficult to get past the other easily, greatly encouraging skilled team play. Naturally, there are the playstyles which go against the grain, and attempt to counter that metagame. First and foremost of these is Trick Room, which can both stop fast, offensive teams in their tracks, and threaten stall with powerful attackers. The most recognized Trick Room team in RU was popularized by user zdrup15, who abused the abilities of Uxie, Slowking, and Gallade to set up Trick Room, and the ridiculous power of threats such as Aggron and Marowak. Other strategies are also viable, including the perennial whipping boy of OU, weather-based teams.
Weather occupies a unique niche in RU, as prior to its ban, only a single auto-weather inducer, Snover, was present in the tier. Despite the lack of such Pokemon, weather is still incredibly dangerous to face, and quite popular. Both sun and rain teams are characterized by their use of bulky weather starters, Uxie being the primary choice, and frail but powerful sweepers to burst through an opposing team. Without proper preparation, few teams are capable of handling the threat of Choice Scarf Typhlosion's sun-boosted Eruption, or the versatility of Swift Swim Ludicolo in rain. But of course, if the conditions become favorable, the situation is even bleaker. Literally nothing in RU can avoid a one or two hit KO from a sun abusing Victreebel after a Growth boost—the potential power is ridiculous for these teams. Probably the biggest obstacle to the success of sun and rain teams in RU is the presence of priority attacks, viewed by many as a crucial requirement in the tier. The majority of the weather based sweepers are particularly frail, and the threat of powerful ExtremeSpeeds or Mach Punches from the likes of Entei and Hitmonchan deter potential users of weather sweepers. There is also the Honchkrow factor to take into account; it can not only revenge kill an opposing sweeper, but also proceed to destroy the entire opposing team from there.
Before Snow Warning was banned from UU, and from all tiers below it, hail occupied a strong position in RU, with the only permanent weather summoner in the tier, Snover. Hail teams chose to take one of a few routes. Many of them utilized abusers such as Glaceon and Rotom-F, and took the tried-and-true method of winning called "Blizzspam." Other hail teams turn to DPP favorite StallRein to annoy the opponent to death with endless stall. Yet other teams abused the residual damage of hail to its full effect, capitalizing on the abilities of Solosis and Duosion, who are both capable of using Trick Room and Endeavor to ensure the opponent faints from hail damage. With the removal of hail from the midst of RU, the metagame is sure to change. The large numbers of priority users that were being used to counter Trick Room + hail teams will likely diminish, as will the usage of Pokemon primarily used to check hail teams, such as Lanturn and Munchlax. Other weather teams are also likely to rise in usage, with Snover no longer around to remove their weather benefits. This could cause an increase in both offense and stall teams, and a shift away from balance teams as players move to cover the range of new threats. As a whole, despite the lack of permanent weather starters, weather in RU is both present and powerful, and certainly something to take into your teambuilding consideration.
With all the powerhouses running around RU, it's only natural that some Pokemon would lurk in the shadows, waiting to unleash their true power upon unsuspecting victims. The prime example of this is the world's most dangerous derp-I-mean-Stunfisk, which shocked the metagame when it was shown to be a hard counter to Honchkrow, one of the greatest threats in RU. Despite its seemingly poor stat distribution, its high HP stat and adequate defenses, along with its multitude of status-inducing moves, make it a niche counter to many common Pokemon. In a similar boat is Poliwrath. A useful SubPuncher in its own right, as well as a solid phazer thanks to Circle Throw, Poliwrath has slowly established itself as the best counter bar none to Sharpedo, a huge obstacle to many teams.
One of the most hyped-up Pokemon in the pre-BW days also finds its time to shine: Archeops is finally able to demonstrate its humongous power with any number of sets, from a Choice set, to a mixed set, to a Hone Claws set. Very few players are prepared for it, as the destruction it can wreak with a Gem-boosted Acrobatics or Head Smash is unbelievable. Likewise, Durant is a hugely threatening Pokemon, thanks to its excellent typing and naturally high Attack and Speed stats, as well as Hone Claws to offset the accuracy loss from its Hustle ability. Finally, Feraligatr is a prime candidate for underrated Pokemon of the year. Hardly anyone prepares to withstand its attacks, and yet a simple Swords Dance set can tear through much of RU, with Aqua Jet foiling attempts to revenge kill it.
More than in almost any other tier, NFE Pokemon can shine in the RU tier. Whereas in the upper tiers NFE Pokemon are shunned for their relatively low stats, in RU, several Pokemon have stats comparable to the other Pokemon in the metagame, or can boost themselves to such levels using the Eviolite item. NFE offensive threats include old standbys Scyther and Magneton, who are capable of threatening much of the tier with powerful Choiced attacks, or function as bulky set-up sweepers. Other offensive NFE threats include the Unova dragons, Zweilous and Fraxure. While the former is primarily used as a Choice Band attacker, with the Hustle ability granting it the strongest Outrage of any Dragon-type, the latter is more frequently seen utilizing a stallbreaking set with Taunt and Swords Dance.
Of course, the most notable aspect of NFE Pokemon is their ability to benefit from the Eviolite item, which greatly boosts their defensive prowess. Several frequently used Pokemon include Gligar and Ferroseed; both fulfil roles of lesser versions of their OU counterparts, Ferrothorn and Gliscor. Gligar is commonly seen as part of a defensive core for its physical walling capabilities, as well as its ability to set up Stealth Rock and scout the opposition. Ferroseed, meanwhile, is used solely as a hazard setter, a role it fulfills with little competition. Other Eviolite users include Frillish, Rhydon, and Munchlax, who are all capable of posing severe threats to RU teams.
RU has come a long way since its creation. No longer known as "that broken tier," it has gone from a niche option to a recognizable battling choice, having gone as far as to be included in the Smogon Premier League. With the conclusion of the third round of suspect testing and the possible introduction of a new testing format, things are likely to get even more heated in the days to come, especially with the January tier changes being certain to "ShakeItUp." So get out there, and get battling!
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