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It is a quiet winter afternoon in the land of Little Cup. Vader sits atop his throne, looking over his peons and fellow Little Cup Council members (really, what's the difference?). In an attempt to deviate from the typical ban-happy culture LC had developed, this council was chosen based on metagame knowledge and battling prowess rather than some methods used by other tiers (highest post count in the subforum).
In a first step to remedy the tier, the council decided upon unbanning three Pokémon: Misdreavus, Murkrow, and Gligar. All Pokémon serve as important checks to threats of the previous metagame, and all Pokémon are dangerous in their own right. Will they enjoy their spot in the limelight again or will they, like Ice-eyes, be forced to wallow in shame in NU?
Murkrow has incredible offensive stats which work in tandem with Prankster and thus priority Haze, FeatherDance, Substitute, Roost, Torment, Calm Mind, and Thunder Wave, to name but a few. Murkrow can fulfill literally any role a team needs it to take bar hazard setting, spinning, and spinblocking. Offensive sets are tough to face, due to the fact that Murkrow can change up its moves to beat a particular set of counters. Almost all sets carry Drill Peck or Brave Bird due to the immense power backed by STAB they provide. The next choice is between Sucker Punch, which also gets STAB and can provide a safe against treacherous set-up sweepers as Clamperl, and Heat Wave, which beats the typical Bronzor while having a nifty chance to burn.
While Murkrow's defensive stats may appear to be lackluster in comparison to its offensive prowess, it certainly has more than a few tricks to keep it from Krow-king. Notably, priority Substitute blocks status such as Toxic from Bronzor and Will-O-Wisp from Misdreavus while also allowing it to abuse a priority Roost. Once behind a Substitute, Torment can also be used in conjunction with Roost to stop Choice Scarf users that would otherwise beat it, including the very common Snover and Chinchou. Finally, a priority Haze can be used on any team that fears set-up sweepers.
Mixed Murkrow sets are notable in that they are able to beat most of their own counters with little to no prediction, but without Roost, they will be sitting ducks (er... crows) for Scarfers. Chinchou can serve as a useful teammate, as Eviolite allows it to switch in to opposing Chinchou, Magnemite, and Snover (provided it uses Blizzard). Sets with Substitute and Roost typically lack Heat Wave, so Magnemite with Magnet Rise can serve as a useful teammate for eliminating Bronzor and the occasional Ferroseed or Aron.
Defensive sets need a little more support to work properly, but can be far more rewarding. In conjunction with Toxic Spikes that are provided by Tentacool or Omanyte, Taunt and Torment sets can walk all over defensive teams. Sets with Calm Mind and FeatherDance are stopped by a smaller list, including Hyper Cutter Gligar and Defiant Pawniard, both of which allow Bronzor to come in with little consequence. Mienfoo also can come in if Gligar is running a defensive set, and by utilizing either a Choice Scarf or an Eviolite and Hidden Power Ice, it can take out both Gligar and Pawniard. It is important to note that Murkrow's defensive stats do leave something to be desired, and so it cannot switch into stronger Fighting-type moves. For this reason, a Choice Scarf user such as Misdreavus with useful immunities can also serve as a good teammate.
Until you know just what set you're facing, Murkrow can be difficult to take down. However, there are some notable clues to tip you off as to what fits the bill (or beak, so to speak) for countering Murkrow. First of all, Bronzor is a useful switch in to all variants lacking Heat Wave, and can use Hidden Power Ice to keep Sub + Roost varieties from trying to set up, or Toxic to wear out Calm Mind + FeatherDance variants. If you do happen to switch Bronzor in to an inopportune Heat Wave, it is important to keep in mind Prankster is illegal with Heat Wave, and it is thus safe to kill it with a Choice Scarf user such as Chinchou or Snover. Although Scraggy cannot set up on Murkrow, it can outspeed all variants without Choice Scarf after a Dragon Dance and destroy the bird of prey with a powerful Ice Punch. If Murkrow tries to Roost against Misdreavus, it will likely eat a powerful Hidden Power Fighting. Murkrow also speed ties with both Staryu and Gligar, and if it tries to Roost against them when it's weakened, must beware of a powerful Hydro Pump from the former or a Swords Dance-boosted attack from the latter.
Whereas Murkrow's stats excel offensively, Misdreavus has a base that touches all bases. If you're looking for a fantastic defensive pivot, you'll surely find it here: Misdreavus has a pure Ghost typing which provides numerous immunities in conjunction with Levitate. If you're looking for a bulky offensive Pokémon, Misdreavus boasts massive defenses in conjunction with Eviolite, and threatens other Little Cup threats with an extremely powerful Shadow Ball or Hidden Power Fighting while maiming physical switch-ins with Will-O-Wisp. And finally, it can serve a purely offensive role with Nasty Plot and 19 Speed or a Choice Scarf, which allows it to revenge even users of Shell Smash such as Clamperl or Omanyte.
Misdreavus can really be EVed to fit whatever the team needs. 240 EVs in Speed and a Timid nature (236 if one opts not to use Hidden Power Fighting) are pretty much a necessity, as to not hit the all-too-important 19 Speed would be a mistake. From there, most teams utilize a bulky spread, prioritizing Special Attack, tacking on a couple points in HP and some stray points in Defense and Special Defense. Eviolite is the most common item choice, as it allows Misdreavus to hit 24 Special Defense with minimal investment. Choice Scarf and Life Orb are still valid choices, however, especially in a tier where only dedicated counters really enjoy taking a Shadow Ball on the switch. Unfortunately, the former makes Misdreavus set-up bait for Scraggy, while the latter greatly hampers its longevity, especially in a tier rife with Sucker Punch users.
Misdreavus needs less babysitting than other Pokémon, and can be fit onto just about any team. One notable aspect of Misdreavus, however, is that it blocks Rapid Spin attempts by Staryu, which works well in conjunction with its high Special Defense. Hazards from Ferroseed, Dwebble, or Bronzor thus are a good choice to help other sweepers (or even Misdreavus, if one decides on using Nasty Plot) clean up more efficiently. Misdreavus also is bait for common pursuit users, including Stunky and Munchlax. A strong Ground-type such as Hippopotas can handle both of these Pokémon, and can work well on a more defensive team with Pain Split Misdreavus courtesy of Sand Stream.
Unfortunately, Scraggy can come in and start Dragon Dancing on Misdreavus, and will not be KOed by an unboosted Hidden Power Fighting assuming it it in a healthy condition. For this reason, Mienfoo is an awesome teammate, as it tanks even a +1 Drain Punch from Scraggy and can strike back with Hi Jump Kick or a Drain Punch of its own; even if it mispredicts, it can reduce the effects of its mistakes via Regenerator. Mienfoo also can use Payback to lure in and take out opposing Misdreavus, something Misdreavus is hard-pressed to handle after taking any prior damage.
Stunky is easily one of the best choices for handling Misdreavus, as it can use Pursuit to trap offensive variants or use Crunch on defensive varieties and still deal serious damage, even after a Will-O-Wisp. Munchlax is in a similar boat, and boasts enormous Special Defense and an immunity to Shadow Ball. Houndour with Eviolite isn't OHKOed by Hidden Power Fighting, even after Stealth Rock, so it can use either Pursuit or Sucker Punch to inflict heavy damage (and unlike the first two Pokémon, it isn't vulnerable to Will-O-Wisp). Croagunk can run a mixed set containing both Sucker Punch and Dark Pulse, allowing it to beat even defensive versions of Misdreavus. Pokémon with high Special Defense, such as Lileep, are great choices to have on one's team, as they will be able to either Toxic Misdreavus or get reliable damage on it, which is always a priority as Misdreavus lacks recovery outside of Pain Split.
Arguably the most unique Pokémon of those unbanned, Gligar stands as a paradigm of hyper offense. Wielding powerful boosting moves such as Swords Dance, adequate defenses even without Eviolite, and fantastic coverage with Earthquake and Acrobatics that scare away everything but Bronzor, Gligar is a menace. The most common set, dubbed "AcroBat," involves the use of Flight Gem to boost Acrobatics and scares away the all-too-prevalent Fighting-types in the tier and drive even defensive Pokémon batty.
Akin to the other released Pokémon, Gligar is not a one-trick Ponyta. It also hits 19 Speed, and can use Eviolite in conjunction with Roost and Toxic to stall out opposing physical sweepers (it is especially notable for this since it resists and is immune to two of the primary offensive types, Fighting and Ground). Alternatively, it can use Choice Scarf on teams lacking a surefire way to revenge opposing Gligar, Scraggy, Shell Smash users, and even weakened Misdreavus. Make a misprediction against this Pokémon, and it will quite literally sting.
Offensive Gligar lacks a surefire way to deal with Bronzor, who commonly carries Hidden Power Ice to check it. Gligar and Scraggy form a nifty offensive duo, as Scraggy can use Dragon Dance to set up on Bronzor, who can do little to variants with Shed Skin. Furthermore, Gligar can run Swords Dance and Baton Pass to pass a +2 boost to Scraggy after Bronzor switches in; at this point, Scraggy getting a Dragon Dance means that it is basically all over. Magnemite is another option for a teammate, as it can trap Bronzor. However, Magnemite fears Earthquake and can thus use the combination of Balloon and Magnet Rise simultaneously to act as a check to opposing Gligar if it is played reservedly.
A common theme amongst Gligar's checks is that they lack reliable recovery; for this reason Ferroseed or Lileep can serve as a good partner to lure in Fighting-types for Gligar to prey on or set up entry hazards which will whittle down Gligar's checks with repeated switch-ins. Gligar has no way to deal with Choice Scarf users such as Chinchou, Shellder, and Snover, so someone on the team must be able to sponge powerful attacks from these Pokémon if Gligar is not simply to be revenged. Clamperl makes an interesting choice here, as it Shell Smashes on these Choice Scarf users while they are locked into an Ice-type attack.
The easiest way to deal with Gligar is to sacrifice something and revenge kill it. Although it hits 19 Speed, anything that hits 14 Speed will be able to outspeed it with a Choice Scarf, and many common Pokémon such as Chinchou can typically OHKO it when it does not have an Eviolite. Snover, Shellder, Murkrow, or Misdreavus are all other good choices for Choice Scarf users that can easily OHKO it. Alternatively, if Gligar decides not to run Substitute, Sucker Punch users such as Misdreavus or Pawniard can finish off weakened varieties. Staryu also hits 19 Speed, and will thus typically force out Gligar that have used their Flight Gem. Bronzor is undeniably the best counter to Gligar, as it takes a pittance from Acrobatics and is immune to Earthquake and Toxic (should you face defensive variants). If Gligar uses up its Flight Gem, Pokémon with high Defense and reliable recovery, such as Slowpoke or Lileep, can check most Gligar.
It's the start of an era. Will players find a certain Pokémon totally Krowken? Or will another dominant force step up to bat? Either way, it's sure to be an experience you won't want to miss.
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