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A Pokémon's movepool is one of the main factors that decide its viability. While it may not be as important as typing, if a Pokémon doesn't have the moves, it probably isn't going to be OU. Many Pokémon actually rely on certain rare moves to remain viable in OU; Breloom has Spore, Cloyster has Shell Smash, and Scizor has Bullet Punch. However, there are some moves that are so excellent (they have great Base Power, utility, or other great effects) that a Pokémon that has at least one of these moves is almost a necessity on a respectable player's team. This list presents to you the top ten best moves in OU and which Pokémon commonly carries them.
Notable Users: Starmie, Donphan, Forretress, Tentacruel
Hazards are everywhere in OU; Ferrothorn, Skarmory, Forretress, Tentacruel, and countless Stealth Rock users are just waiting to litter your side of the field with endless obstacles to your Pokémon. Luckily, Rapid Spin stops your Pokémon from taking obscene amounts of damage every time they switch in. Rapid Spin almost singelhandedly ensures that stall isn't the most dominating playstyle in every tier, let alone OU. In fact, Rapid Spin is so useful that many Pokémon, such as Volcarona, Gyarados, and Salamence, almost necessitate Rapid Spin support to function effectively. Although it is held back by its Normal typing, (however, a Rapid Spin equivalent without any immunities would be beyond broken and would annihilate stall as a playstyle) Rapid Spin is a powerful support move that many teams would not function without, which secures it a spot at #10.
Notable Users: Forretress, Skamory, Ferrothorn
From removing hazards to laying them, Spikes is the "golden oldie" of entry hazards. Back in GSC and RSE, before Stealth Rock stole the spotlight, Spikes was the (only) entry hazard of choice. GSC particularly was very stall-oriented, which lead to Pokémon such as Forretress and Cloyster seeing considerable usage as the only viable Spikes setters. Spikes are just as powerful now as they were back then, particularly because people are more preoccupied by a Stealth Rock weakness than a Spikes weakness. Scizor, Terrakion, Heatran, and Tyranitar all hate Spikes but are some of the most common Pokémon in OU, which isn't something you can say about Scyther or Moltres. Its ability to wear down notoriously powerful Pokémon and the hyper-popularity of Spikes-stacking in UU and Uber ensure it clocks in at a solid #9.
Notable Users: Mamoswine, Landorus, Gliscor, Dugtrio
Finally a real damage-dealing move! Earthquake is the bread and butter of almost every physical sweeper's movepool; its great distribution, super effective coverage, and Base Power ensure that it will always be in vogue. Despite many players preparing for this ubiquitous move (be it through Air Balloon, Levitate, or packing several Flying-types) it is still an extremely common sight in OU, even being used on Pokémon who already have great STAB moves. In fact, Earthquake provides great neutral coverage for many Pokémon, such as Gyarados, Haxorus, and Venusaur. The amount of types that Earthquake can be used with to create great coverage with is absurd; Rock / Ground, Dragon / Ground, Ice / Ground; all these combinations are extremely powerful and very common. As the most common attacking move in OU (and for singlehandedly creating the need for Air Balloon) Earthquake picks up a respectable #8.
Notable Users: Salamence, Haxorus, Dragonite
To quote bojangles "Outrage melts things". Outrage is without a doubt the gold standard when it comes to Dragon-type offense; Salamence, Haxorus, and Dragonite would not be anywhere near as powerful if it weren't for this move. This (along with its special pseudo-equivalent, Draco Meteor) are the main reason why pretty much every succesful team needs a relatively bulky Steel-type to stand between its teammates and draconian destruction. Hydreigon relies on Outrage for its mixed and Work Up sets; as does Salamence. Although it does have some pretty debilitating side effects, such as its annoying 2 to 3 turn lock in effect and the fact that it causes confusion, Outrage has the immediate power, excellent coverage, and "oh shit" factor to reach #7.
Notable Users: Blissey, Celebi, Skarmory, Starmie
And by that I mean: Recover, Softboiled, Roost, Slack Off, Heal Order, and Milk Drink. Now this was especially hard to pick notable users for because, ultimately, any Pokémon with a 50% recovery move can use it to some extent, be it an offensive or defensive Pokémon. However, the listed Pokémon get the greatest use out of their recovery move. Blissey relies on Softboiled to stay healthy when it can't afford to wait that extra turn with Wish and Celebi desperately needs Recover (especially this generation) to stay healthy in case Tyranitar or Scizor should come in and attempt to Pursuit it. Skarmory was good before it got Roost, but Roost has helped it stay relevant in a metagame full of powerful special attacks and other hazard users. Finally, Starmie can run an excellent three attacks set with Recover to heal off Life Orb damage or a standard Rapid Spin set with Recover to ensure greater longevity and a chance to spin more than once. Thanks to their great versatility, distribution, and all-round usefulness, the 50% recovery moves pitch in at #6.
Notable Users: Tentacruel, Politoed, Jellicent, Vaporeon
The fact that Scald is the only BW move on the list just goes to show that there may have been a power creep, but in no way has that creep applied to moves. However, Scald is better in this generation than it would have been in any of the previous ones thanks to one thing: rain. With the advent of Drizzle Politoed came the realization that a move that is essentially (in the rain) a 100% accurate Hydro Pump with a 30% chance to burn the target, can only be a good thing (particularly as Water-types usually make good physical walls.) Scald has pretty much replaced Surf on every single bulky Water-type out there, and makes Pokémon such as Dragonite, Cloyster, Gyarados, and Venusaur think twice before switching into the bulky Water-types they used to be able to set up on. Thanks entirely to its great side effect, BW's only addition to this list hits an excellent #5.
Notable Users: Any (special) attacker, with some exceptions, such as Hidden Power Ice Landorus.
Possibly the only useful thing Unown ever did was create the necessity for this move. Hidden Power is the ultimate coverage move. I mean, the amount of Pokémon that rely on a Hidden Power of one type or another to actually be relevant in OU is outstanding. Virizion and Landorus need Hidden Power Ice to get past Gliscor, Venusaur and Celebi rely on Hidden Power Fire to make sure Scizor can't just come in and spam U-turn, and Heatran and Politoed can only hope to get past Jellicent if they carry Hidden Power Grass or Electric. Although the physical / special split kind of screwed over physical attackers with shitty coverage, special attackers' have just got better and better. Although the lowering of often crucial IVs (especially Speed) can be annoying, Hidden Power is just powerful enough to warrant usage on any Pokémon with coverage issues. As it is the most versatile move in the entirety of Pokémon, Hidden Power ranks an outstanding #4.
Notable Users: Scizor, Landorus, Mienshao
U-turn's awesomeness has been mentioned so many times in the past that saying all this feels really quite trite; but seriously, how can a move that at times renders prediction completely unnecessary and almost always puts you in a favorable position not be raved about? U-turn's merits have been already discussed in the pages of this celebrated rag here and rightly so; U-turn is the ultimate scouting move, even better than Volt Switch as nothing (barring a rogue Shedinja) can come in and stop you from switching out to an appropriate counter or check. Along with its excellent effect and typing comes U-turn's decent Base Power (although Scizor really wishes it was 10 less to grab that tasty Technician boost). 70 Base Power may be relatively low, but when boosted by STAB, a high Attack stat, or both, it can put surprisingly large dents in relatively bulky things. Thanks to its absolutely incredible effect, good distribution, perfect typing, and reasonable power U-turn comfortably reaches the #3 spot, and, according to this list, is the best damage dealing move in the game.
Notable Users: Gliscor, Gengar, Hydreigon, Breloom
Substitute (in terms of versatility) is to support moves what Hidden Power is to damage-dealing moves; its uses are nigh uncountable. Breloom is possibly the best user of Substitute; if it comes in on anything it can outspeed or scare out then you can be pretty certain it will be putting at least one Pokémon out of commission with Spore, if not two thanks to its devastating Focus Punch that can be fired off without concern behind a Substitute. Substitute has a more general use on offensive Pokémon such as Hydreigon, who uses it to fire off powerful attacks in complete safety. Gliscor uses Substitute with Protect to royally screw over Hidden Power-less Rotom-W by stalling out Hydro Pump's measly PP and Heatran often runs Substitute alongside Toxic to get past Pokémon who could usually set up on it, such as Jellicent and Dragonite. With Substitute the sky's the limit, really. Although it finds greater usage on offensive Pokémon, who appreciate the free turn in which to set up, defensive Pokémon can also use Substitute to great effect. For example, Vaporeon can Baton Pass huge Substitutes (and Wishes) to frailer Pokémon in order to guarantee a sweep or to further a Baton Pass chain. With its awesome versatility and endless distribution, Substitute clocks in at #2, but just misses out on the top spot...
Notable Users: Heatran, Tyranitar, Jirachi, Blissey, Forretress
Here we have it: the absolute, hands down, best move in the game. To stay within the confines I established earlier I only listed four notable users, but there are so many that listing them all would take days. Stealth Rock is not only the best but also the most game changing move in the history (and probably the future) of Pokémon. The list of Pokémon that aren't even OU that would be excellent if it weren't for this move is considerable; Yanmega, Honchkrow, Victini, even Moltres would all be viable if they didn't have to lose at least a quarter of there health every time they decide to switch. And that list didn't even consider OU Pokémon that are weak to Stealth Rock. Can you imagine how overpowered Volcarona would be without it? Or Gyarados? Salamence? On top of this, Stealth Rock is easy to set up and doesn't need a dedicated user to do so. The fact that there are only 8 Pokémon weak to Stealth Rock in OU (and only one in the top ten) goes to show how crippling a weakness to the rocks is. You heard it here first folks: Stealth Rock, the best move in the game.
Notable Users: Scizor, Tyranitar
Although this move was golden in DPP, it has lost a lot of usage in BW. Due to the prevalence of Ferrothorn, nearly every special attacker carries Hidden Power Fire, which makes it hard for Scizor to trap things that it can't already OHKO with Bullet Punch. On top of this, many Pursuit-weak Pokémon, such as Gengar and Alakazam, run Substitute to get out for free should Tyranitar or Scizor switch in, or just try and take them down with Focus Blast or Hidden Power Fire respectively. However, this does not mean Pursuit is a bad move, far from it. Tyranitar (the grand daddy of Pursuit) uses it to almost singlehandedly keep the Lati twins in check, and Scizor can still use it to good effect on a weakened Blissey or Chansey.
Notable Users: Lucario, Terrakion, Infernape
Close Combat is just behind Outrage in terms of batshit insane amounts of POWAH. It is the emperor of Fighting-type moves (yes even better than Hi Jump Kick—are you that desperate to lose half your health 10% of the time?) for several reasons. The one thing that jumps out is its great 120 Base Power, but its inconsequential side effect and good coverage make it even better. After a Swords Dance, Lucario and Terrakion can smash every wall in their way, and Infernape can use the move on Nasty Plot sets to get past the pink blobs. Unfortunately, Close Combat is pretty much always outclassed by Earthquake as a coverage move (apart from on Fighting-types). Earthquake has no annoying side effects and hits commoner types for super effective damage, ensuring that any physical sweeper lacking in coverage will almost always choose it over Close Combat.
Notable Users: Latios, Latias, Hydreigon, Salamence
The special near equivalent to Outrage is the reason Latias was banned in DPP OU, and the reason why any successful team these days carries one of the following Pokémon: Ferrothorn, Scizor, Tyranitar, Blissey / Chansey. Without one of the above, the Lati twins are going to rain fiery, draconian meteors on your parade without a second thought. Hydreigon is arguably an even better user of the move as it isn't weak to Pursuit, can fry Ferrothorn and Scizor with Fire Blast, drown Tyranitar with Surf, and rampage past Blissey with Outrage. There's only one thing keeping Draco Meteor away from a place on the list: its absolutely debilitating side effect. Outrage may force you to stay in, but Draco Meteor pretty much hangs a "I'm switching" sign around your neck the second you use it, and letting your opponent know exactly what you're going to do next is never a good thing.
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