The Outsiders Challenge

By Harsha. Art by Harsha.
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What is The Outsiders Challenge?

So, before we begin, some of you are probably wondering what exactly The Outsiders Challenge is. During a one month period between April 3rd and May 2nd, players signed up for a Dragonspiral Tower challenge that made players use teams without any Pokémon in the top 10 for March's 1337 usage stats. During this one month period, players that signed up were told to ladder to at least 1400 points to enter the hall of fame. Many strategies worked very well, while some were... erm, underwhelming. The players discovered that you don't always need to use the most common Pokémon to be successful. Let's take a look at the results!

What Didn't Work

While it may seem counter-intuitive that sand offense was not able to stand out, one must take the absence of Tyranitar into account. Additionally, staple Pokémon on sand offense, such as Scizor, Rotom-W, Landorus, and Terrakion, were all banned as well. While Hippowdon was still available, it wasn't exactly the best weather inducer. Hippowdon works well because it can tank hits and phaze opponents away. However, offensive teams tend to enjoy power more than defensive prowess. While there were still available offensive Pokémon that fit in well on sand teams, such as Gliscor and Starmie, generally these teams could not hold their own against most common teams. It may seem odd, but sand offense was unable to perform for various reasons, and it proved to be a bad strategy without any top 10 Pokémon.

Hail offense is definitely not considered a "good" playstyle, and not surprisingly, nobody that used it was able to break into the required range to beat the challenge with it. Hail typically enjoys the presence of Pokémon that nullify weaknesses, such as Heatran. However, with its banning, many found themselves weak to Fire-type attacks. Without a fitting immunity, it's hard to take on super effective hits, and without the other premier Steel-type in the tier, Jirachi, walling Dragons was just as hard. While it may seem odd to have a hail team that's weak to Dragons, using only Abomasnow is definitely not ideal considering its frailty. All-in-all, a weak strategy became even weaker without key, irreplaceable components. While Pokémon such as Kyurem were still available, there aren't many Pokémon that can actually abuse hail to its fullest extent.

What Did Work

Most people shouldn't find it surprising that sand stall worked so well—the fact that the only common sand stall Pokémon in the top 10 was Tyranitar makes it easy to see why. McMeghan took an interesting route while building his team; instead of using a common sand stall team with Choice Scarf Tyranitar as his revenge killer, he chose to run Choice Scarf Cobalion. Cobalion rarely sees any usage in the OU metagame, so you should be able to see why most would find this odd, or even funny. Hippowdon, Gliscor, and Forretress are all tried and tested Pokémon on sand stall, so there should be no surprise that these were effective. McMeghan also chose to use Gastrodon to soak up Water-type moves and used the declining Calm Mind + Roar Latias to great effect. These patch up his weaknesses to special attacks, and specially defensive Hippowdon picks up the slack. Overall, McMeghan was able to successfully take a good stall core and convert it with uncommon Pokémon.

While we all love to hate it, Baton Pass is actually still an effective strategy. Most successful Baton Pass teams are almost identical, containing Mr. Mime, Vaporeon, Ninjask, and Espeon. The two winners who used Baton Pass had the same 4 Pokémon, and for the next two, Lady Alex used Mew and Togekiss, while Xanderpitz used Mawile and Mienshao. Both users shamelessly used this strategy to propel themselves up the ladder quickly, and both stated that the only things that ever stopped them were teams with multiple phazers and hax. Pretty much every Pokémon in the top 10 is not found on generic Baton Pass, so this strategy seemed to work very well. I was actually surprised that Mawile saw use, though its access to Stockpile, Baton Pass, and Taunt gives it a certain utility that most Pokémon cannot have. Overall, while Baton Pass is often seen as a cheap way of playing, it proved to be just as effective (and annoying!) as ever.

Sun offense also seemingly thrived during the challenge, and with most common sun Pokémon out of the top 10, there should be no surprise about why. Bloo and mostwanted both took somewhat different approaches to sun bulky offense. Bloo was able to use Choice Band Victini to a great extent, and from the battles I watched, it was easily his MVP. V-create under the sun is certainly nothing to laugh at, and even at -1, Victini is still fast enough to outpace most walls and KO them handily. Even Pokémon that resist Fire moves could not help but fall to Victini's onslaught, surprisingly enough. Additionally, Bloo's use of Dugtrio guaranteed that the opponent could not trap Victini with Pursuit from Tyranitar, as it would usually be KOed early on. User mostwanted was able to use some rather uncommon sets, such as SubSeed Venusaur and Morning Sun Volcarona, as well as some rather uncommon Pokémon such as Porygon2 and Cresselia. However, both of these proved viable, and mostwanted was able to achieve the highest rating in the challenge at 1530. Both challengers used Forretress—an uncommon Pokémon on sun teams—as a spinner, and while it seems counter-intuitive to use a Pokémon that's 4x weak to Fire, it worked well for both. Overall, it seems that even without the presence of Heatran and Dragonite, sun offense teams still work.

While it's not considered the best playstyle by any means, LizardMan took sun stall to the top of the ladder with a fair amount of deviations from the norm. He creatively used Milotic to counter one of stall's biggest enemies: Reuniclus. With Haze and Dragon Tail, he could effectively prevent setups from most setup sweepers. Additionally, his use of Cresselia prevented most physically based threats, such as Terrakion and Gyarados, from wreaking much havoc. He used Chandelure to clean up the mess after opposing teams were sufficiently weakened by entry hazards and other teammates. Not much can switch into Chandelure in the sun, and Politoed and Tyranitar only get crippled by it after switching in. Additionally, it proves to be a great spinblocker against most Pokémon, including defensive Starmie and Tentacruel. Overall, while it wasn't the best playstyle, especially without Heatran, sun stall can actually be effective, as demonstrated by LizardMan.

Smog Awards's runner-up to best ladder player, ShakeItUp, and esteemed user Fatecrashers showed that when combining two of the most respected minds in #grammar, acts of utter genius can occur. As soon as our very own Fatecrashers topped off yet another artistic masterpiece in his The Outsiders Challenge banner, he knew that he'd created something special. Wielded by ShakeItUp, this deadly duo trumped the ladder, leaving challengers dumbfounded in pure awe. Never before had they seen such beauty wrapped up into six Pokémon.


Well to be honest, I really don't have much more to say. ShakeItUp took six Pokémon out of the seven that were present in Fatecrashers's banner to create a team that rampaged through the ladder. I guess you could call it hyper offense if you wanted to, but there really are no words or strategy for this. I would explain how it worked if I understood!

However, there is a basic formula behind the team. Like most of ShakeItUp's ladder teams, he relies on heavy offense, and he used a conglomeration of Pokémon to pull off his ladder feat. Cresselia sets dual screens for the team and allows the teammates to set up with ease, and Scrafty, Tornadus, and Virizion all help out with this due to their incredible power once set up. While the team is definitely not what one would normally see on the ladder, ShakeItUp was able to create a leaderboarding team with random Pokémon (with Fatecrashers's help!).


Hopefully you all enjoyed the first installment of The Outsiders Challenge, and thank you all for participating and making it as popular as it was. While this metagame analysis may no longer be relevant, considering the release of BW2, it was still interesting to see what was successful without the use of any top 10 Pokémon. Don't worry, The Outsiders Challenge Mark II is coming up soon!

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