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As types go, Grass has always been a mixed bag. While it provides some useful resistances, especially its Water resistance, its myriad weaknesses have always been a sticking point for it. However, it's definitely been on the uptick for quite a while. Near the end of Generation 4, you couldn't go 10 feet without seeing the famed FWG core—guess what the G stands for (hint: it's probably Celebi). Fast forward to Generation 5, where Grass-types have found new life. Not only are there stellar new members like Ferrothorn and Virizion, but old Grass-types have gotten huge bumps from Dream World, making them even more popular than ever before.
You can't talk Grass right now without talking about Breloom. Over the past two generations, Breloom has been the big winner of the "new ability" lottery. In Generation 4 it picked up the brand new Poison Heal and Toxic Orb item, enhancing its already formidable ability to SubPunch, SubSeed, or even both! Then in Generation 5, Dream World bestowed upon it Technician and a newly buffed 25 Base Power Bullet Seed. When you back a Technician Mach Punch, Bullet Seed, or Low Sweep with 130 Base Attack, you end up with quite the terror, and a rough proposition to switch into. Its non-Attack stats may leave something to be desired, as 60 / 80 / 60 defenses are mediocre at best and 70 base Speed does it no favors, but its excellent typing, access to Spore, and ridiculous power pull it through.
Ferrothorn is one of those Pokemon that can only be described as "metagame-defining." Its unique typing, incredible defenses, unique ability, and excellent movepool make it one of the best defensive Pokemon in the entire game, bar none. It pretty much epitomizes the concept of "victory through residual damage" that stall has been so renowned for, as between Stealth Rock, Spikes, Leech Seed, and its Iron Barbs ability, it can rack up tons of damage without attacking the opponent once. Not that it's a slouch there—between a low-speed Gyro Ball, Power Whip, and even Curse, Ferrothorn has plenty of bite. Its 74 / 131 / 116 defenses give it incredible durability, and its 11 resistances only enhance that. Furthermore, it has access to Politoed as a teammate to counteract its only significant weakness, and with only 2 weaknesses, it's a tough nut to crack.
Virizion is another new addition to the roster, and despite its statistical leaning toward Special Defense, it's still quite the offensive terror. As a member of the fighting quartet, it's got their signature 108 base Speed, putting it in an especially desirable Speed tier. Its 90 Attack and Special Attack don't win it any awards, but with access to Swords Dance and Calm Mind, they're more than sufficient to let Virizion bust through teams. Swords Dance can leverage its access to Close Combat and Leaf Blade as excellent dual STAB, while Calm Mind uses Giga Drain for durability and Focus Blast for devastating power, letting it pack a hell of a punch. Defensively, it's a star as well. It's got Breloom's same excellent typing, but with stellar 91/72/129 defenses, it can counter a lot of common OU Pokemon and take as much of a beating as it dishes out. With all these traits, it's a no-brainer that it would end up a major force in OU, especially with its ability to deal with both rain and sandstorm teams equally effectively.
Celebi is one of those Pokemon that's going to be pretty stellar in every generation. It's got a perfect combination of assets to make it useful for pretty much every type of team, and its unique typing grants it a useful roster of resistances. As one of the legendary pixies, its 100-all stats give it an excellent combination of bulk, offense, and Speed. On top of this, it's got plenty of useful options for both defense and offense. On the defensive side, it's unquestionably the best user of Perish Song in the metagame, making it an almost hard counter to last Pokemon setup strategies (as long as Celebi can survive the hit), and it's capable of forcing out a lot of durable or threatening setup Pokemon before they can ravage your team. It's also got Leech Seed and STAB Giga Drain to keep it healthy, as well as Recover. It can scout with U-turn, or even cripple enemies with Thunder Wave. Offensively, it can just blow stuff up with Life Orb Leaf Storm, or it can just go all-out with Nasty Plot to crack open teams. No matter what team you're running, there's probably a Celebi set that fits.
Venusaur is quite the vintage Pokemon at this point, holding the crown of "most useful Generation 1 starter" in the OU metagame. With Chlorophyll, its all-around solid stats, Growth, and Ninetales's Drought, Venusaur has the potential to be utterly lethal in the OU metagame. With a good Sleep Powder, Venusaur can shut down its counters early, and then whip out a Growth boost and hit opponents hard. It's most powerful on the special side, with Giga Drain, Sludge Bomb, and a sun-boosted Hidden Power Fire, but it's got some excellent options on the physical side, such as Power Whip (note that Power Whip is illegal with Chlorophyll) and Earthquake, especially considering that Growth buffs both physical and special attack. It can also abuse Chlorophyll for a lightning fast SubSeeder set, making it a real pain in the ass for teams that struggle against it.
Abomasnow is arguably the least effective of the weather starters in OU, but its ability to start weather still manages to earn it a spot in the metagame. Its stats are fairly mediocre all-around, but it's still got enough to make it work. 90 / 75 / 85 defenses are pretty solid, and enough to keep it alive to switch into attacks, and its 92 / 92 offenses still make it pretty scary to switch into, especially with dual 120 Base Power STABs in Wood Hammer and Blizzard. It can also SubSeed to keep it alive and annoy opponents, and between Leech Seed and hail damage, even the toughest enemies can find themselves worn down. To top it off, STAB 100% accuracy Blizzard makes it tough for opposing Grass-types to switch in and nullify Leech Seed, which is a big advantage.
There are also some notable "honorable mentions" that aren't OU but still see some usage. Tangrowth is the most notable one, with its top-notch 100 HP, 125 Defense, and 100 / 110 offenses. Regenerator keeps it alive as it moves through the battle, and it's more than capable of warding off tough foes with Power Whip, Giga Drain, and HP Ice off of its above-average offenses. However, it's slow, and its 50 base Special Defense is more than a little lacking. Amoonguss also brings Regenerator to the table, as well as a remarkably useful Poison typing, giving it a crucial Bug neutrality and Fighting resistance. Its 114 / 70 / 80 defenses make it easy for it to get off a crippling Spore, and its 85 offenses make its Giga Drain and Sludge Bomb fairly threatening. It's also got the relatively rare Clear Smog, allowing it to remove boosts from tough setup sweepers. Sawsbuck isn't as popular as other sun-based sweepers, but as physical sun sweepers go, it's second to none. Chlorophyll makes it lightning-fast, and after a Swords Dance, its Return and Double-Edge are utterly devastating. Its signature move, Horn Leech, makes it remarkably hard to take down, and heals off Life Orb damage. It's also got a choice between Jump Kick and Earthquake (via Nature Power) to cover Steel-types. Last, but certainly not least, there's Cradily. Long heralded as an impenetrable special wall in sandstorm due to its Rock typing and high Special Defense, it's gained a new niche though its Dream World ability, Storm Drain. Since sandstorm teams often have trouble with powerful Water-type attackers, having a Rock-type immune to Water is a huge boon. It's also got Recover to keep it healthy, and can even make an attempt at sweeping with Curse.
Shaymin has always been a bit overshadowed by Celebi, but it thrives in UU, where its excellent stats make it a top-notch Pokemon. Its signature move, Seed Flare, is ridiculously powerful, with a 40% chance to cut the opponent's Special Defense in half, turning 3HKOs into 2HKOs and forcing out many of Shaymin's common counters. Natural Cure makes it an amazing status absorber, and also lets it use Rest for easy one-turn healing, and then simply switch out and make the sleep go away.
While Roserade may not have Shaymin's incredible stats, it's got an excellent stat spread and roster of options that makes it an incredible option for nearly any type of team. Its 125 base Special Attack and 90 base Speed make it a powerful attacker, with Sleep Powder, Leaf Storm, Giga Drain, Sludge Bomb and Hidden Power Ice / Fire. Like Shaymin, it also has Natural Cure, letting it Rest off damage from resisted attacks and Life Orb. It's also more than capable of taking on a more supportive role, as its ability to lay down Spikes and Toxic Spikes (as well as absorb the latter) while threatening its powerful attacks makes it an excellent support Pokemon. It's also decently durable on the special side, with 60 / 55 / 105 defenses and a solid Grass / Poison typing.
As with OU, there are some notable other Pokemon not in UU that can still perform well there. Tangrowth and Amoonguss are both solid in UU for the same reasons listed above, and can both perform excellently. Tangrowth is especially notable, as it makes an excellent Choice Specs user, with Specs Leaf Storm being its main form of offense and Regenerator keeping it healthy. There's also Rotom-C, bringing its unique Electric / Grass typing alongside Levitate. It can be an excellent Specs / Scarf user with Volt Switch, Leaf Storm, and Thunderbolt, or it can also take a more bulky route with its 50 / 105 / 105 defenses. There's also Lilligant, which has access to Quiver Dance, Sleep Powder, and the combination of Own Tempo and Petal Dance, giving it Outrage-level power without the confusion-inflicting side effect. Last, but certainly not least, there's Sceptile. Its blazing 120 base Speed makes it potent against offensive and balanced teams, and it can threaten all sorts of teams with its solid movepool. Life Orb Leaf Storm is sure to put a dent in anything, especially with backing from Focus Blast and a Hidden Power of choice. It's also got the option of running an extremely potent Swords Dance set, with Leaf Blade for primary STAB, Earthquake and Rock Slide for coverage, and even Flying Gem Acrobatics to bust through key threats. If 120 base Speed isn't enough for you, it can even bust out Unburden, doubling its already impressive Speed and flying past even the swiftest of Choice Scarf users.
An utterly terrible attack in Generation 4, Bullet Seed has suddenly been boosted to superstar status by its most notable user, Breloom. With Technician, its Base Power is somewhere between a solid 75 and a whopping 187.5 Base Power. Combine that with Breloom's 130 base Attack, and switching into Bullet Seed is a rough proposition for any Pokemon.
The gold standard for physical Grass power, Power Whip packs the punch of Fire Blast for many physical Grass-types, especially Ferrothorn, Tangrowth, and Venusaur. 85% accuracy is a bit off-putting, but 120 Base Power is nothing to scoff at.
An excellent move, limited only by its poor distribution. Still, it's one of the reasons that Virizion is so scary—a 90 Base Power STAB that hits hardy Ground- and Water-types makes it tough to wall, and a high critical hit ratio means that it's even more likely to plow through things it normally wouldn't KO.
Another solid move with poor distribution, Wood Hammer still sees use as primary physical STAB for some Pokemon, notably Abomasnow. Its recoil is off-putting on a weather starter, but it has more than enough power to crush Tyranitar and Politoed looking to get in on a Blizzard or Leech Seed and cancel out hail, so it's still got its uses.
Previously considered a standard move, Seed Bomb has largely been superseded by its other more effective counterparts. Its last major user, Breloom, now has access to Bullet Seed, a STAB option that is on average far more powerful. Still, it's a decent option, especially on those few Breloom that still use Poison Heal.
Previously terrible due to its meager 60 Base Power, Giga Drain got a solid bump up to 75 Base Power in Generation 5, making it the primary STAB of choice for offensive and defensive Pokemon alike. It's a big reason that Calm Mind Virizion is so tough to take down, and as a former TM move and new Tutor move, it's got impeccable distribution.
The Grass-type Overheat clone. It's not looking at Draco Meteor's absurd level of power, as Grass is a much easier type to resist, but there are still some incredible users of it. Coming off of Roserade's 125 base Special Attack or a Specs-boosted Tangrowth's 110 base Special Attack, it's more than capable of putting a nasty dent in many Pokemon, especially ones that don't expect its level of crushing force.
Like Seed Bomb, Energy Ball was the "reliable STAB move" for Grass-types everywhere. However, now that Giga Drain boasts about the same power level but with a huge upside in passive healing, Energy Ball has largely fallen by the wayside, especially now that Giga Drain is legal with Chlorophyll on Venusaur.
This one only gets a passing mention because of Drought. While SolarBeam is definitely a more "usable" move now, it's still nowhere near reliable enough to be a mainstay, as all the other weather around shuts it down pretty hard. Still, if you're certain you can enforce your sun advantage, SolarBeam provides excellent power with no accuracy downside.
Grass is by far the best at putting targets to sleep, and these two moves are the reason why. Sleep Powder has gigantic distribution across Grass-types (and some Bug-types), and with the changes to sleep in Generation 5, sleep might as well be considered an OHKO on affected targets. Sleep Powder's 75% accuracy is fairly reliable as far as status infliction goes, but Spore is the real superstar, inflicting sleep without fail on any opponent not immune to it. Unfortunately, its distribution is rather poor, but it's still got two strong users in Breloom and Amoonguss.
Not quite as crippling as sleep, but paralysis is still an excellent status, especially against offensive teams. Paralyzing the right Pokemon can mean all the difference, and now that sleeping Pokemon are significantly more likely to switch out, double powder sets are even more effective in this metagame.
One half of the famous SubSeed combination, and a real pain in the ass on defensive Pokemon. It's the only form of healing available to many Pokemon, especially Ferrothorn, and its ability to heal the user while simultaneously wearing down opposing Pokemon makes it tough to deal with in general.
One of two "cleric" moves alongside Heal Bell, Aromatherapy is a great option for stall and balance teams, as it counters crippling burns, paralysis, poison, and even sleep inflicted on the team. Its distribution leaves a bit to be desired, but there are still a couple decent users, like Shaymin and Roserade.
It's no Roost, but it still works. More useful in lower tiers than in OU because of the prevalence of weather, it's still pretty solid in OU on sun teams that want to keep key Pokemon alive.
Grass is one of those types that just gets better and better every generation, and it's really hit its stride in Generation 5. As a core asset on all four different weathers, and a prime way to combat the two most popular as well, Grass has quickly proven indispensable, and Generation 5 boasts the highest number of Grass-types in OU ever. So when you make your next team, try a couple of them out! They're sure to grow on you.
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