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The RU tier, despite having been created less than a year ago, has quickly settled itself in among Smogon. As the tier grew, certain Pokemon rose to above the others, were deemed to be too much for the tier, and were banished from it for good. The tier has continued to move towards balance; with the tiering shifts in January, several new Pokemon were dropped down, and suspect testing began its final push towards making the RU tier completely balanced. This article will analyze the most recent tiering decisions, and the impact that some suspects had upon the metagame.
The fourth round of suspect testing began on the heels of one of the closest votes among suspects at that point: a 3-4 decision that saw Porygon-Z narrowly remain RU. Honchkrow had already been decided to be an automatic suspect, thanks to the results of its previous test and the outcry against it from many members of the tier. Hail was also prominent, with the feared ENDTRAILS (Endeavor + Trick Room + Hail) strategy running rampant at the time. Two weeks into the round, however, tiering shifts occurred, bringing down several Pokemon from UU, namely Cresselia, Sigilyph, Whimsicott, Golurk, Spiritomb and Aerodactyl, with RU losing only Krookodile in return. Hail was suddenly taken from RU mid-round as well, due to Snow Warning being banned from UU. Amidst the chaos, however, there was a Pokemon that rose to join Honchkrow and Porygon-Z among the pantheon of suspects, and the results would come to define RU as a tier.
When Cresselia entered the tier, there was an enormous outcry from players who had been a part of the tier way back when RU was still a lawless territory. Back then, Cresselia had helped define the tier, and had gone so far as to have been put to a vote. The common consensus was that it should be banned, but it flew off to UU before a verdict could be rendered. It was amidst this prejudice that Cresselia rejoined the throng, with many users calling for a quickban, or at the very least, a mid-round vote. Sporting three brilliant sets in SubCM, a catch-all defensive set, and dual screen support, players began to resort to using multiple Dark-types on a team in order to stop it, CroTomb and specially defensive Drapion being stalwarts at this time. Despite the large amount of hate Cresselia received, there was a smaller, but very vocal group of players orating against not only a quickban, but against Cresselia even being considered a suspect! Citing a lack of initial power, susceptibility to Toxic, and the frequency with which Cresselia became setup fodder, their arguments gained traction against the pro-ban majority. Among these mentalities, Cresselia was put to a mid-round vote, where it was decided that it would remain in the tier for the entirety of the suspect round. Interestingly, with a full round with which to play with Cresselia, the SubCM set was discarded as an effective competitive set, as Uxie performed the role more effectively. Despite this setback, both sides became louder and louder in their opinions, with the pro-ban side screaming about Cresselia’s insane walling capabilities and amazing support options, including Thunder Wave, dual screens, and Lunar Dance, and the anti-ban proponents raved about the fact that Cresselia was 2HKOed by powerful attackers, and that “no one was using Cresselia anyway, so how could it be broken?” These arguments were thrown back with comments that Cresselia was not 2HKOed by any unboosted attacker, and that the support set made Pokemon like Porygon-Z absolutely devastating. Further still, the defensive set invalidated balanced teams, as such a type of team containing at best one Pokemon that could power through Cresselia, a Pokemon that would get paralyzed in the process. As anti-ban members fought back with arguments about how Cresselia was very similar to Uxie, and Uxie isn’t broken, voting wrapped up, and the most hotly contested suspect to date was narrowly banned by a final vote of 5-4. Both times it was in the tier, Cresselia proved to be a polarizing force, shaping the way RU has evolved. With Cresselia out of the way, the metagame became ready to mould itself into what it would soon become.
Honchkrow has historically been a dominating force in RU, beginning its career as a solid check to Venomoth, before settling into the tier as a deadly sweeper, using its SubRoost set and excellent ability, Moxie, to power through opponents with brutally powerful Brave Birds and Sucker Punches. At one time it was heralded as a broken force, although it remained in the tier after its Round 2 vote. By the time it reached Round 4, however, the popular opinion had overwhelmingly shifted to not broken. As people played against it, more and more checks and counters emerged as means with which to deal with Honchkrow, including Substitute, Trick, Aggron, Regirock, the general predictability of Honchkrow and others. This was also the period where Stunfisk became useful in RU, as a hard counter to Honchkrow. Although the mixed version of Honchkrow could often beat its ordinary checks, such as Rhydon and Steelix, with Hidden Power Grass and Heat Wave respectively, this version of Honchkrow was quickly identified, and lacked the ability to sweep you straight that the SubRoost version had. At the end of the round, Honchkrow had received only limited support as a broken Pokemon, and was unanimously voted to remain RU.
Porygon-Z was another Pokemon that had previously been voted on; its vote coming at the conclusion of Round 3, where it was determined to be RU. With another round of playing with it in the books, opinions had shifted, thanks to the large number of sets it could run. Porygon-Z had four major sets in Choice Scarf, Nasty Plot, Agility, and Choice Specs, the latter being the primary culprit of ban arguments. While the two Speed-boosting sets had issues with either settting up safely or being outclassed, and the Nasty Plot set had initial power issues—albeit destroying any slower Pokemon, and especially stall when it was set up—the Choice Specs set was devastating. With a Download boost, something that was fairly easy to accomplish given the lack of special walls in the tier, Choice Specs Porygon-Z was capable of OHKOing or 2HKOing every single Pokemon in the tier except Munchlax and specially defensive Spiritomb. Furthermore, its base 90 Speed was the breakline for speedy Pokemon in the tier, meaning that Porygon-Z outsped a good portion of the tier on its own merit. Despite initial sentiment against banning it, public opinion quickly and overwhelmingly grew against Porygon-Z’s presence in the tier, and it was unanimously banned.
With the metagame-defining decisions reached in the previous suspect round, round 5 was looking to be a very enjoyable one to play, with the consensus being that we were nearing a balanced metagame. Sigilyph was an early target for suspect searchers, as its Cosmic Power and Calm Mind sets tore apart some previously common teams. This idea was quickly shot down, however: several comfortable methods of dealing with it were proposed and subsequently proved to be more than effective, and Sigilyph usage began to plummet. Using the previous Trick Room strategy, ENDTRAILS, Trick Room began receiving more hype, and remained a prominent fixture during the round, with threats such as Choice Band Aggron, and Trick Room + Nasty Plot Cofagrigus defining the strategy. As the round went on, Durant gained momentum as a top threat, building from its ability to check Cresselia to becoming a dominant physical force with its Hone Claws and Choice Band sets. Despite being a presence in RU since the beginning, Sharpedo received some hype late in the round. The eventual suspects were the well-deserved Durant and the questionable Sharpedo.
Durant had a slow start to its RU tenure, only gaining credibility during Round 4, where it was used to great effect when its main checks dropped in usage with the new drop-downs after the tier shifts. In Round 5, it found itself thrust into the spotlight, as people began to realize that 109 Attack and 109 Speed with Hone Claws or a Choice Band and a Hustle boost under its belt meant that Durant hit incredibly hard. Its great defensive typing and good Defense stat served to offset its terrible HP and Special Defense stat, allowing it to come into battle multiple times in a game, wearing down its meager list of counters. With only one complete counter in Steelix, Durant began to demonstrate its power, as its list of defensive checks was not only short, but also tailored to stall or particularly defensive balanced teams. Durant’s excellent Speed stat also made it very difficult to outspeed without resorting to a Choice Scarf user, one that would usually have to be a special attacker. Although several users were vehemently opposed to a ban, citing the multiple means of checking it, the counter-arguments of incredible power and ability to beat its own checks held strong, and Durant was eventually banished from RU.
Sharpedo was one of the most controversial suspects, not because of the outcry it caused, but by the outcry it didn’t cause. By most accounts, Sharpedo was not worthy of suspect status, due to the lack of impact it had on the metagame despite receiving consistent usage since RU was first created. By the time suspect time rolled around, it was thrown in as a suspect due to its Speed Boost ability and thus, its inability to be revenged by Choice Scarf users. Sharpedo is able to run two main sets, a physical set, and the commonly agreed better choice, MixPedo, which 2HKOes most of the tier. Although Sharpedo was able to take down a good portion of the tier, the fact remained that if something was able to survive a hit from it, which a decent amount of the tier could accomplish, the return attack would almost surely be an OHKO due to Sharpedo’s horrific defenses. Furthermore, Sharpedo has two hard counters in Poliwrath and Ferroseed, the former being an option for offense and balance teams whereas the latter fits in on balance and stall. Worsening Sharpedo’s case even further is its susceptibility to priority attacks, with many common priority users (7 of the top 50 in RU, as well as the rising Linoone) able to OHKO it without even having to suffer a hit. With these factors going against it, Sharpedo was quickly deemed to be not broken, with only meager resistance to the case.
With the conclusion of the fifth round of suspect testing, the general consensus is that a state of balance has been reached in the metagame. Suspect testing has served its position admirably, and it seems almost poetic for it to ride off into the sunset in favor of a static tiering council just as the tier reaches equilibrium. With the only likely suspects to come to be influenced by tiering shifts and with suspect decisions to be reached based on community feelings, RU is set to achieve greater heights than ever before, as the tier reaches greater a prominence in the minds of the players.
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