BW1 OU Metagame Analysis

By Harsha. Art by RitterCat.
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With the BW metagame coming to a close and BW2's release, it's only fitting that we have a metagame analysis for what some will remember as an enjoyable experience (though some players may dislike it for its emphasis on team matchup and similar aspects). New Therian formes, fresh Dream World abilities, and of course, our favorite pony Keldeo will obviously shake up the metagame, but we can still always look back upon the old metagame and learn from it. With that in mind, let's check out the finalized BW metagame!

The Top 15

1. Scizor | 27.576%

Scizor is once again the king of the metagame, with a large gap between its competitors in usage. This is primarily because its Choice Band set makes it a great check to Latios and Latias, while it also does the same against Terrakion, Landorus, Tornadus, and weakened Dragonite. However, this isn't the only set that Scizor can run—a bulky Swords Dance set with Roost allows Scizor to feign a Choice set early on and sweep later in the game after grabbing a boost or two from Swords Dance. Choice Scarf sets, while much less common, can pull off an effective KO against unsuspecting Starmie or even Latios equipped with Hidden Power Fire. In essence, Scizor is an excellent catch-all offensive Pokémon that can give a team what it really needs.

2. Dragonite | 19.902%

Dragonite, is, and has been, one of the most fearsome sweepers of BW. Multiscale allows it to basically set up with ease, and the common Lum Berry ensures that you cannot deal with it solely through attempting to cripple it. Generally, the most popular set is the Dragon Dance set with a Lum Berry, which allows the user to set up and sweep as quickly as possible. However, Choice Band sets are almost omnipresent on sun teams, and rain abuse sets with Dragon Tail are popular on rain stall. The former allows Dragonite to hit as hard as possible right off the bat, while the latter takes advantage of the many layers of entry hazards rain stall can set up and phazes the opponent to rack up damage. While Dragonite has access to many other useful sets such as SubDD and bulky Dragon Dance, these are generally not as popular—don't let that fool you, though, they are still deadly if played correctly!

3. Tyranitar | 18.979%

The premier sand inducer finds its way into the top of the usage statistics as per usual—Tyranitar is a lovely catch-all Pokémon for its giant movepool and perfect stats. Its gargantuan Special Defense under sand allows it to run a very effective specially defensive set, and with supporting options such as Stealth Rock, the ability to eliminate stray Latios or Latias, and a giant offensive movepool, it's easily one of the most diverse Pokémon in the metagame. Additionally, its massive base 134 Attack allows it to run offensive sets with ease, and its Special Attack is no runt either. Considering how important weather is in this metagame, it's only natural that one of the most diverse inducers is ranked so high.

4. Heatran | 18.918%

At fourth, Heatran has adapted very well to the current metagame. While rain usage does put a damper on one of the most used Pokémon for the past two generations, Heatran's role has been similar throughout this whole time. With an Air Balloon, Heatran is one of the most fearsome offensive Pokémon due to its ability to come in on Outrage from Dragons and KO back with Hidden Power Ice. Additionally, it is possibly the best check to SubToxic Gliscor, a rising star in the metagame. However, that's not all Heatran can pull off. A specially defensive set works well on lots of teams, ranging from stall to balance, and it certainly pulls its weight. Heatran's access to Magma Storm also allows it to lure key Pokémon and trap them, and when paired with Dugtrio, this can give teams a large advantage. While BW2 was not very kind to Heatran with all of the gifts it bestowed upon rain, it has remained a key Pokémon since its release.

5. Rotom-W | 18.703%

Rotom-W, or Scizor's partner in crime, takes a top 5 spot just like always. With excellent bulk, Special Attack, and a fortunate Speed tier, Rotom-W can fit on many different types of team styles, such as hyper offense, bulky offense, or balance. Rotom-W is commonly seen using a Choice Scarf because it outpaces many +1 Dragon Dancers, namely Dragonite and Gyarados. While its Speed isn't the highest, Rotom-W has just enough to effectively get the job done. However, the bulky set is rapidly becoming more and more popular, and Will-O-Wisp in conjunction with Rotom-W's good bulk allows it to defeat many of the physical threats in the metagame. Choice Specs is a good set in its own right, though it isn't nearly as common as the prior two. Rotom-W's key component is its ability to maintain momentum with the click of a button in Volt Switch. While Ground-type Pokémon are immune, it still is effectively a good way to maintain momentum, especially with another Pokémon that carries U-turn.

6. Terrakion | 17.023%

If the presence of Terrakion comes to a surprise to anyone, I'm going to slap them. Choice Band Terrakion is easily one of the hardest hitters in the BW OU metagame, and to say it is not is simply a lie. With powerful STAB attacks in Close Combat and Stone Edge (these grant near-perfect coverage!), Terrakion really doesn't need any other moves to make use of its great Attack. Due to this, Terrakion can also make good use of a dual booster set, or a SubSD set with a Rock Gem. With a Rock Gem and one Swords Dance boost, Terrakion has a good chance of OHKOing the likes of Skarmory, Gliscor, and Slowbro after Stealth Rock—this is big news because outside of these Pokémon, Terrakion has no true counters. The dual boosting set allows Terrakion to boost the appropriate stat and sweep; it can boost Attack against stall, or Speed against offense, or if behind dual screens, sometimes even both! Terrakion can also run a generic Choice Scarf set thanks to its surprising coverage, and the rare Protect + Swords Dance set also works wonders if used correctly.

7. Ferrothorn | 16.991%

Ferrothorn is typically considered one of the most annoying Pokémon in the metagame because it is very hard to take it out in one hit unless you're packing a Fire-type move—even then, Ferrothorn is often used in the rain, so that's not even fully reliable. Usually, you're going to run into Ferrothorn when you're up against rain stall or rain offense. On rain stall, Ferrothorn is used as insurance against most spinners. It packs super effective moves against common Rapid Spin users, and Iron Barbs deters people from using the move without thinking. On rain offense, its role is to simply get down entry hazards and sponge hits when necessary; it also works well as bait when you need to sac a Pokémon. Overall, Ferrothorn, while it may have dropped in popularity, is still a great Pokémon, and it holds its own very well due to its great defenses.

8. Politoed | 16.791%

Despite its lower usage than Tyranitar's, Politoed is still a top-tier Pokémon due to its ability. Rain is easily one of the best weathers, and with the benefits of 100 accuracy Thunder and Hurricane, a second STAB boost to Water-type moves, and reducing the power of Fire-type moves, it's easy to see why rain gets use. The question is not what Politoed can do—rather, it is what rain can do for the team. Rain stall benefits from the removal of other weather, and often takes advantage of the reduction of Ferrothorn's Fire weakness and the boosts to weaker Water-type moves, such as Scald. Many people tend to use Dragonite as a phazer for these teams, and this is understandable due to its access to both Hurricane and Thunder. Rain offense is an equally good strategy, and with offensive juggernauts such as Tornadus in the tier, it's not tough to figure out why. Rain offense doesn't seem to be a dying playstyle either; Tornadus-T, Thundurus-T, Regenerator Amoonguss, and Keldeo all have made a splash into OU recently.

9. Gliscor | 15.728%

Gliscor has always been a top-tier Pokémon, but arguably most of its success has come from its ability, Poison Heal. Poison Heal allows Gliscor to heal more than it would normally heal with Leftovers, making strategies such as SubToxic possible. Speaking of SubToxic, Gliscor's SubToxic set has been really popular as of late, as its high Speed and natural Defense allow it to take advantage of many opponents and stall them out. While having only one attacking move in Earthquake allows many Pokémon such as Gengar and Air Balloon Heatran to set up, Gliscor still instills fear in many of its opponents. Gliscor's defensive set does not disappoint either, and in particular, it is perhaps the best counter to Terrakion in the tier. Gliscor has enough natural bulk to take a Stone Edge comfortably and enough Attack to dispatch any foolish Terrakion that attempts to take it out; make no mistake, though, as SubSD Terrakion can still remove Gliscor if given the opportunity to set up. All-in-all, Gliscor has remained a great Pokémon throughout BW1, as its ability grants it the ability to absorb status for teams, and it can act as one of the sturdiest of walls.

10. Jirachi | 15.324%

At number ten, it isn't surprising that we find this pixie—Jirachi's unpredictability makes it a good Pokémon in general that can fit onto any type of team. With a specially defensive EV spread, it works very well on bulky offense teams, and it does extremely well for rain offense as well because it supplies Stealth Rock and passes 202 HP Wishes. However, with a little more Attack and Speed, Jirachi makes an excellent physical attacker with access to moves such as Iron Head, the elemental punches, and U-turn. Jirachi's Choice Scarf set remains a staple on many sand teams for its immunity to passive sand damage, its ability to cripple stall with Trick, and its great revenge killing capabilities. Jirachi is even capable of running a surprising mixed set with an Expert Belt, so one always needs to stand on their toes when facing this Pokémon.

11. Latios | 13.180%

Latios, better known as Choice Specs Draco Meteor, still remains as a top-tier threat in the metagame. While it still gets trapped by Tyranitar, the Choice Specs set is very common for its ability to make rather large dents in opposing teams. The Choice Scarf set still works, but it lacks the power necessary to get around weakened Tyranitar, and consequently, it is much easier to KO. Life Orb and Expert Belt have both become staple sets on many teams, be they sand offense, rain offense, or even heavy or hyper offense. Recover allows it to heal back its health, and is a necessity on the Life Orb set, especially if one is using Latios in the sand. While it can get worn down quickly, Latios forces so many switches that it often can use Recover when necessary. Psyshock is also commonly used on Latios because it can help get around even Chansey, one of the best Latios counters out there. While it may have lost some steam after its DPP Ubers days, Latios will remain a top-tier Pokémon; this holds true for BW2 as well, as with the addition of Keldeo, Latios has an even better reason to be used!

12. Starmie | 11.689%

Starmie has always held a high position in the OU metagame thanks to its great Speed, Special Attack, and ability. Starmie's Speed allows it to act as a pseudo revenge killer if the need arises, and with coverage moves such as Hydro Pump, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, and Psyshock, it isn't too hard to see why. Its ability, Natural Cure, allows it to absorb status aimed at other Pokémon, and additionally, it allows Starmie to spin away Toxic Spikes with greater ease than most spinners. While Starmie is usually known as an offensive spinner, the defensive set has been rising in popularity as of late. With the ability to spin away hazards with much more ease than standard Starmie, the defensive set works well on stall, semi-stall, and even bulky offense.

13. Skarmory | 11.442%

Skarmory remains as perhaps the best physical wall in the metagame. It works extremely well because it functions as a full-stop counter to Landorus and many other physical threats, though the presence of Terrakion in the metagame must make it shiver. Regardless, it functions at its best on stall teams, as it packs Spikes and Whirlwind to rack up passive damage, but it can also work on balanced teams to perform the same role. Either way, Skarmory has a relatively easy time setting up Spikes thanks to its bulk, and if the opponent loses his or her special attackers early on in a match, it will certainly be tough to bring down this iron bird.

14. Landorus | 11.304%

Landorus, one of the poster boys of sand offense, is definitely a strong Pokémon. With Sand Force, its Attack reaches monstrous levels, and Earthquake and Stone Edge's power are incomparable. Landorus is usually seen using two sets: Choice Scarf and Expert Belt. The Choice Scarf sets derives its utility from Landorus's fortunate base Speed; 101 Speed is perfect to revenge kill +1 Volcarona and +1 Salamence. The Expert Belt set attempts to bluff a Choice Scarf set until the late-game when it can sweep, and if the opponent reads it incorrectly and thinks it's equipped with a Choice Scarf, it can spell doom. The Swords Dance set is still completely viable, but the metagame has not been too kind to it, as Skarmory is more common, and powerful priority users such as Choice Band Scizor still can have their way. Still, Landorus is a great Pokémon, and looking at how much higher it is in the 1337 stats completely justifies this.

15. Salamence | 11.118%

Now the second most popular physical Dragon-type in OU, Salamence has recently made a name with its popular Choice Scarf set. Base 100 Speed allows it to revenge kill most Pokémon of relevance, and base 135 Attack is good enough to do major damage to most Pokémon with just its Dragon STAB. Moxie is the crux of this set—it allows Salamence to embark on late-game sweeps with Outrage once opposing Steel-types are removed. For this reason, it's not uncommon to see Salamence, or any Dragon-type for that matter, paired with Magnezone, making the famed DragMag strategy. While Salamence generally is seen on offensive teams, it fits on some bulkier teams too. One should never forget MixMence or Dragon Dance Salamence when preparing for this monster, though, as one false move and Salamence can rip a team to shreds!


The finalized BW metagame was very balanced, if I can say so myself. Team matchup was definitely a big factor in many games, as one can never cover every single threat; but if one played well, winning was obviously not impossible. While the metagame has certainly changed with all the boosts given to rain (Politoed was even number one in usage in the latest statistics!), the old BW metagame still holds tons of information we can learn from. Sets that became popular towards the end of the metagame, such as Choice Scarf Salamence and SubToxic Gliscor, are still very effective, and of course there is still a lot of room to experiment in with all the new releases. So get out there and play OU; maybe this article can even give you ideas for BW2 as well!

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