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Pseudo in name but legendary in power, the pseudo-legendaries are a group of extremely powerful Pokémon. Every generation has at least one pseudo-legendary (Gen 3 got greedy with two) and they all share similar traits and adhere to certain design "rules". First of all, every pseudo-legendary has a BST of 600, they all have a three Pokémon evolution line, and every pseudo-legendary evolutionary line has at least one Pokémon with the color blue as a prominent part of its spriting. Pseudo-legendaries also evolve at very high levels and are usually hard to obtain in-game. However, should you take the time to train your god-awful Pupitar till it hits pupity (see what I did there?) then you won't regret it when you have a enormous rocky dinosaur tearing shit up so hard that, and I quote, "maps have to be redrawn".
In this article I will be ranking the six pseudo-legendaries in terms of how good they are in BW; however, I will also be taking a trip down memory lane and extolling the virtues these Pokémon had in previous generations. Anyway, without further ado, I present to you my ranking of the pseudo-legendaries!
Metagross is kind of like Winona Ryder. It made a great debut in RSE (say the early 90s for Miss Ryder), made a decent comeback in DPP (as Winona did with Girl, Interrupted) but unfortunately in BW Metagross just doesn't cut it anymore (and Winona has to make do with the eerily reflective part she had in Black Swan). Metagross had several things going for it in previous generations. First of all it had a very good defensive typing which made it easy for Metagross to set up with Agility and sweep. Even though Steel wasn't the best attacking type it could always rely on taking something out with Explosion, and thanks to Clear Body, its giant Attack stat could never be lowered. In DPP, Metagross adopted a more support-oriented approach and, when equipped with a Lum Berry, was one of the best anti-leads (who could also set up Stealth Rock) in the metagame.
Unfortunately for the super computer, BW didn't bring anything new to the table. If anything, the BW changes had a negative impact on Metagross as, due to the Explosion and Selfdestruct nerf, it could no longer rely on its incredibly powerful Explosion to destroy things. On top of this, nearly all of Metagross's sets are outclassed to an extent by other Pokémon. For example, Heatran pulls off the offensive Stealth Rock user better thanks to its higher Speed and stronger attacks, whereas Scizor is a much better Steel-type Choice Band user due to Technician and U-turn. The final nail in the coffin is that all of Metagross's commonplace moves have pretty annoying side-effects: Meteor Mash isn't nicknamed Meteor Miss for nothing, Bullet Punch has low Base Power and redundant coverage with Meteor Mash, and Hammer Arm is innacurate and lowers Metagross's already below average Speed. Still, saying Metagross is the worst of the pseudo-legendaries isn't an insult; it can still surprise with its mixed sets and, who knows, maybe it'll get Shift Gear as a tutor move next generation.
BW's addition pitches in at #5, a decent position no doubt. Like Kyurem and Haxorus, Hydreigon would be absolutely incredible if it only had a little more Speed; 2 or 3 more points would leave it at or over the all important 100 benchmark. However, Hydreigon makes do very well with what it has: a fantastic base 125 Special Attack stat and a decent Attack stat, as well as good mixed defenses. One advantage that Hydreigon has over its draconic brethren is that, due to its odd Speed tier, it can use a Modest nature and still be very effective.
What really makes Hydreigon stand out, however, is its great versatility and excellent movepool, as well as its ability to function excellently in both rain and sun. Hydreigon can scout with U-turn, hit Tyranitar with Focus Blast, and boost both attacking stats with Work Up, which makes it somewhat unique in the Dragon-type community. On top of this, Hydreigon is one of the best users of Substitute in OU considering the amount of switches it can force; the other three moveslots can be tailored to suit any team (but Draco Meteor is usually a must). Surf or Fire Blast can be run depending on what weather you're utilizing and, thanks to the pseudo-STAB boost, both will pack quite the punch. What lets Hydreigon down, however, is its unfortunate typing. Dragon / Dark leaves it with four pretty common weaknesses to Ice, Dragon, Fighting, and Bug which stops it from serving any kind of defensive or bulky role, something that all the other pseudo-legendaries can do to an extent. On top of this, Hydreigon's base 105 Attack prevents it from running any physical attacks apart from Outrage. Hydreigon is probably the best pseudo-legendary in terms of balance and design purposes; it's very strong but in no way does it dominate the metagame.
Even with its fearsome attacking stats, good base 100 Speed, and great ability in Intimidate, Salamence was quite, well, underwhelming in RSE. The only way for it to take advantage of its base 135 Attack was to use its weaker and less useful Flying-type STAB, and his strongest Flying-type move after Fly was Hidden Power Flying. With a couple of Dragon Dances, Salamence could sweep teams, but it needed those boosts to do any significant damage as it just didn't have the moves to wreak havoc properly. Then generation 4 and the Platinum tutors came along. Now Salamence could throw out bone-crunching Outrages and equally destructive Draco Meteors without a worry. In fact, Salamence's two most powerful sets, Mixed and Dragon Dance, shared almost no counters, which, coupled with its good bulk thanks to Intimidate, made Salamence too powerful for OU and, along with its "sister-from-another-mister", Latias, it was banned from standard play.
Then BW came along and Salamence experienced an odd role reversal with a Pokémon once considered to be its lesser counterpart: Dragonite. BW gave Salamence a great ability in Moxie (that it couldn't use with Outrage, however), but the Dream World bestowed the incredible Multi Scale unto Dragonite, shooting him right up to the top of the usage stats and leaving Salamence floundering at the 15 mark. Also, Salamence's special sets were outclassed by the Lati twins (two Pokémon it didn't have to compete with for the whole of DPP), and its mixed sets weren't as strong as those of Hydreigon. After playing second fiddle to Dragonite for most of BW due to the latter's greater bulk, Multiscale, and access to more useful weather moves, a great Salamence set for this generation was discovered: Scarf Moxiemence. With a Choice Scarf equipped, Salamence could easily outspeed and kill something, then begin the snowballing of Attack boosts until it became confused. Now that Salamence can run Outrage, Dragon Dance, and Moxie (courtesy of BW2) on the same set it should see some definite increase in usage.
The original pseudo-legendary really hit the jackpot in BW; in fact Dragonite probably benefited more from BW than any other Pokémon, let alone the pseudo-legendaries. However, in the previous generations Dragonite was probably the worst of all pseudo-legendaries. In RBY, Dragonite's best set didn't even take advantage of those brutal mixed attacking stats; it had to rely on a move Dratini learns (Wrap) in conjunction with Agility to do any damage (although it was more annoying than devastating really). GSC and RSE were even worse for Dragonite as, due to the game mechanics changing from RBY to GSC, it couldn't use Wrap effectively anymore and it still lacked any good STAB moves. Dragonite was the only pseudo-legendary ever to be classified BL (as it was in both GSC and RSE). In early DP, Dragonite carved itself a niche thanks to its access to the unbelievably strong (and now physical) Outrage. However, the Platinum tutors took this away too by giving Outrage to everything and its brother. Therefore, Dragonite remained outclassed by Salamence, although it was able to shine at the end of DP with Salamence's banning (still, Flygon was used more than it last gen).
All that changed in BW, however. Two things made Dragonite great this generation: rain's dominance in OU and Multiscale. Dragonite can run so many sets that combine the two factors, the most popular being your bread-and-butter Dragon Dance set. Dragonite can use Multiscale's great effect to ensure it sets up at least once (or more if it goes down a defensive route with Roost) and then wreak havoc. Dragonite's bulky sets are just as devastating; in the rain, Dragonite can take advantage of the fact that it is one of the only good Pokémon who can run both Thunder and Hurricane (the latter giving it an extremely deadly secondary STAB) on the same set. Round off with Dragon Tail for phazing and Roost for recovery and you have yourself one deadly Pokémon. On top of this, Dragonite has great synergy with many extremely common Pokémon in OU, such as Heatran, Scizor, and Terrakion, all of which make it an even more popular choice among players.
Tyranitar is the most consistent of all pseudo-legendaries. Even though its popular sets have varied hugely in the past, in each and every metagame Tyranitar has been a dominant (and in some overpowered) presence. Tyranitar started off in GSC as a strong defensive RestTalker Pokémon who helped reduce the Psychic-type dominance with its access to a powerful (relatively rare) Pursuit as well as good bulk. However, it was in the following generation that Tyranitar really came into its own, and its power just snowballed from there. RSE brought Dragon Dance, Choice Band, and most importantly, Sand Stream, all of which made Tyranitar a fearsome sweeper. DPP was even better for Tyranitar thanks to sandstorm's Special Defense boost, physical Pursuit and Crunch, a strong Rock-type STAB in Stone Edge, and Choice Scarf, which made it an even more effective trapper.
BW has been a mixed bag for Tyranitar so far, in that it has reverted to the role it held in GSC; it prefers to support its team (this generation by setting up Stealth Rock consistently) and eliminate weakened Ghosts and Psychics with Pursuit, rather than demolishing teams with Choice Band boosted Stone Edges or Crunches. However, Tyranitar has benefitted hugely from the weather dominated OU metagame, as retaining control over the weather is extremely important. On top of this, powerful sweepers who benefit greatly from the endless sand, such as Landorus and Terrakion in OU and Garchomp and Excadrill in Ubers, have ensured that Tyranitar will always be in great demand. Finally, several Psychic-types, such as Alakazam and Espeon, have re-entered the OU metagame, making it all the easier for Tyranitar to trap things. Although Garchomp may be number one on this list, Tyranitar (thanks in great part to Sand Stream) is the most OU metagame-defining pseudo-legendary, and probably Pokémon, of all time.
Garchomp is not only the manliest Pokémon alive, he is also the best pseudo-legendary, if not the best non-legendary Pokémon in the entire game; his dominance is completely unrivaled. On top of this, Garchomp is the only pseudo-legendary to have been booted off to Ubers in every generation that it has been around (in DPP the saying went "Garchomp kills one wall and cripples another") to terrify on both land and on sea.
What makes Garchomp so good is a combination of factors that, though great by themselves, when combined into one Pokémon make it almost perfect. First of all, Garchomp's dual STABs form an excellent partnership since only Bronzong and Skarmory resist the combination and they otherwise hit the vast majority of the Uber metagame for super effective damage. To complement this, Earthquake and Outrage have very high Base Powers, and, coming off Garchomp's base 130 Attack, are sure to put dents in almost everything. Then throw in a "trolly base" 102 Speed, Sand Veil, similar bulk to Gliscor, and Swords Dance and you have one hell of a broken Pokémon. The progression to BW didn't change Garchomp itself, but the changes it brought to other Pokémon were. First of all, the arrival of Zekrom and Reshiram gave Garchomp two more Uber Pokémon it can demolish without having to rely on Outrage, as well as two more Pokémon it can outspeed or force out and set up on. Next, sand has become quite a popular playstyle in Ubers thanks to Pokémon such as Excadrill and Terrakion, making Garchomp an even more lucrative option to Pokémon masters everywhere. Ferrothorn is an annoying addition to the Uber metagame but, as long as it has a few Swords Dance boosts under its belt, Garchomp should be able to blast past it since most Ferrothorn run Special Defensive natures in Ubers. Garchomp, the one and only king, master, supreme ruler, and God of the pseudo-legendaries. Praise Him.
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