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Many active NU battlers have been moaning and groaning about the lack of significant tier shifts. That all changed on January 1st, when we got the most significant tier shifts since... last January. A whopping five Pokemon moved up, and two Pokemon moved down. Unfortunately, two of the Pokemon that moved up were because of usage spam, but they deserved to be RU anyways. This metagame shift has been quite exciting, and this article will detail all of the changes that happened and how they affected the tier.
Roselia was instantly a big hit in NU, as it is one of the few good Spikes setters. Roselia is somewhat like a mix of Garbodor and Cacturne when it comes to Spikes: it cannot set Spikes with the same reliability as Garbodor, and it cannot hit as hard as Cacturne, but the combination works. Roselia's most common set is FLCL's, which uses a combination of its surprisingly high Speed, power, and bulk to set up hazards for the team. Roselia is also a great Toxic Spikes setter, and with Toxic Spikes it can use the more powerful Leaf Storm over Giga Drain. Unfortunately, the increased presence of Skuntank makes Toxic Spikes not that great. Roselia can also be seen with a specially defensive set on stall teams. This set can counter Water-types such as Samurott and Ludicolo, among other notable threats, as well as setting up hazards, giving it a notable niche on stall teams. Roselia is part of the reason stall teams are slightly more popular this metagame.
is dog Stoutland, unlike Roselia, is unfortunately not that great, contrary to what its awesome looks imply. It faces a lot of competition from other Normal-types. However, Stoutland finds its niche as a good partner to these Normal-types with a Choice Band set. Stoutland also has the ability Intimidate, allowing it to rack up switches and soften damage dealt to it. Its shuffling set with Roar takes especially great advantage of its Intimidate ability. Overall, Stoutland has not made much of an impact on the metagame, but it is a fun Pokemon to use, and works well on some teams.
Absol was quite amazing while it was in NU; with base 130 Attack and access to STAB Sucker Punch, Absol has the strongest priority in the tier (and the game!). With Pursuit, it also had the ability to trap many Psychic- and Ghost-types, such as Golurk and Misdreavus, which led many players to run Colbur Berry Golurk to lure and KO Absol. Absol is also one of the few Pokemon to reliably 2HKO Musharna—a threat with a mammoth Defense stat that would otherwise find many opportunities to set up and sweep—without a Choice Band.
What made Absol even more threatening was its perfect neutral coverage with Superpower, allowing it to run Sucker Punch, Night Slash, and Pursuit all on the same set to fulfill many roles. Absol could pick off faster Pokemon and trap anything trying to switch out, all while still having a reliable STAB move at its disposal. Base 75 Speed is also quite fast in NU, barely edging out offensive behemoths like Ludicolo, Samurott, and Emboar, allowing Absol to hit them first.
Absol's departure from NU basically made things slightly easier for Pursuit-vulnerable Pokemon and slower teams. While Psychic- and Ghost-type Pokemon always had the coverage moves to threaten Absol with a KO, they had to play with perfect prediction or pay a hefty price should Absol come in scot-free. The only viable Pursuit user left in the tier is Skuntank, which is arguably easier for teams to handle, considering that it doesn't have the same great coverage that Absol offers.
What made Amoonguss quite popular (and unpopular for those who had to face it) was the fact that it had well-rounded bulk and access to Regenerator and Spore. Its physical bulk may not be as good as Tangela's, but the Poison typing allowed Amoonguss to still check the likes of Sawk comfortably. Unlike Tangela, however, Amoonguss has a decent 80 base Special Defense stat, which granted it the ability to check specially-based Water-types like Ludicolo. Amoonguss was also able to still pack a punch with STAB Sludge Bomb in order to weaken said Ludicolo, or a Sawsbuck that thought it was switching safely into a Grass-type attack to nab a Sap Sipper boost. In addition, the mushroom proved to be a nuisance with a 100% accurate Spore that could potentially knock out a Pokemon for the remainder of the match. Offensive and defensive teams both detested having their Pokemon being put to sleep, which Amoonguss could consistently do in every match.
With Amoonguss gone, Water-types, such as Samurott, Ludicolo, and Carracosta, have an easier time setting up and ripping through teams. While Tangela and Roselia are still around to check these threats, the former has pitiful Special Defense that can be taken advantage of, while the latter lacks a good Defense stat and Regenerator. A Grass-type like Sawsbuck loves having Amoonguss leave NU, since it fears Sludge Bomb and cannot outright KO the mushroom without an Attack boost. While specially-based offensive Grass-types, such as Serperior, technically benefit from this too, the recent arrival of Roselia will provide the same issues that Amoonguss plagued them with. Finally, many offensive teams have an easier time pressuring opponents, since Regenerator allowed Amoonguss to consistently switch into a handful of offensive Pokemon.
Before the tier shifts, Cinccino was quite popular in NU, mostly for its access to Skill Link and many multi-hit moves. This allowed the menacing chinchilla to bypass Sturdy and Substitute, making it very useful for revenge killing or deterring Stealth Rock from being set up so easily. In fact, Cinccino's Bullet Seed was the sole reason why Golem's usage dropped drastically over the past few months. When Snover was unbanned, Cinccino also proved to be useful as a combatant against Glaceon, which oftentimes was able to set up a Substitute and heal all its HP thanks to Ice Body and Leftovers recovery with Protect. Another big impact caused by Cinccino was the spike in Rocky Helmet usage on Pokemon such as Amoonguss and Regirock; Cinccino using Tail Slap on a Rocky Helmet Pokemon means that it'll be taking around 80% damage instantly, which made the item a very useful option to keep Cinccino in check.
With Cinccino being among the top in usage for many consecutive months, it's a no-brainer that its departure had quite an impact on NU. Substitute users, such as Gardevoir and the frail Haunter, immediately benefit from this, as Cinccino had the potential to both break their Substitute and KO them in one turn. Golem also appreciates not having to fear Bullet Seed bypassing its Sturdy, allowing it to once again reliably set up Stealth Rock with no worries. Cinccino moving to RU also means that Rocky Helmet may be less common, since it was primarily used to chip away almost all of Cinccino's health. However, it should be noted that Rocky Helmet is still great for accumulating residual damage on other Normal-types in the tier, such as Zangoose and Swellow, which are Pokemon that will easily be worn down in conjunction with Toxic Orb.
Emboar was everyone's go-to wallbreaker (and Fire-type) when it was NU. Using either a Choice Band or mixed set, it could easily smash through the opposition with powerful moves such as Flare Blitz, Superpower, and Fire Blast. Tangela, Amoonguss, Regirock, Bastiodon, and Regice, among other stall staples, were easily smashed by Emboar. Emboar's presence was so significant that stall teams started to use Pokemon like Frillish to beat it. Emboar was also one of hail's best checks, but thankfully hail moved up with Emboar. Emboar was a gigantic threat to pretty much every team, and even hyper offense teams often lost a Pokemon to the flaming boar if they weren't careful.
With Emboar gone, stall has become a bit more viable. People using stall no longer have to worry about Emboar ravaging through their team if they make a misprediction. Rapidash also appreciates Emboar moving up, as it was the second best physical Fire-type, and pretty much everyone was using Emboar over it. Rapidash is unfortunately weaker and lacks the secondary Fighting typing, but it is blazingly fast. Emboar's departure also makes Fire-type resistances much less needed, allowing people to use Rock/Steel-types as their Flying-type answer without supplementing it with a durable Fire-type resistance.
Although Snover was only in NU for a short period of time, it certainly made its mark on the metagame at the time. Permanent hail from its ability, Snow Warning, made hail teams quite viable, causing a popularity increase in Pokemon that could take advantage of Ice Body and/or 100% accurate Blizzards. Such Pokemon included Glaceon and Rotom-F, who became much more potent thanks to hail. Glaceon, with a Substitute + Protect set, was able to set up in the face of many slower Pokemon while virtually losing no HP thanks to Ice Body and Leftovers recovery. This caused many offensive threats, such as Emboar and Sawk, to be shaky checks at best, since it was more than likely that Glaceon would have a Substitute up by the time they came in. Likewise, Rotom-F became a threat that was quite hard to switch into due to its SubSplit set. Its STAB BoltBeam coverage only made it more difficult for almost any Pokemon to switch in, which meant that Rotom-F was more than likely to score a KO each time it came in safely. Aside from hail beneficiaries, Snover had the ability to check Water-types, such as Ludicolo or Gorebyss, thanks to its acceptable bulk with Eviolite and a neutrality to their coverage move, Ice Beam. However, despite Snover's niche, it was still generally dead weight on most hail teams, since its offensive presence was still lacking and allowed threatening Fighting- and Fire-types, such as Sawk and Emboar, to come in while Snover tried to use Protect.
Due to many hail sweepers utilizing Substitute, Cinccino was a great choice since it packed Rock Blast to break through Substitute and inflict further super effective damage on Glaceon or Rotom-F. However, Cinccino moved up to RU along with Snover, meaning neither of them will be seen in NU for quite a while. Meanwhile, Sawk usage will barely change—it was definitely a threat to hail teams, but it's still a threat to most teams in general since its different counters are few in number, which means that Sawk's usage will stay relatively high. Similarly, Regice and Piloswine, two great bulky checks to hail thanks to them being able to take Ice-type attacks, will still be quite useful in the current metagame and will stay at a comfortable usage percentile. Piloswine has always been a great Pokemon to lead off with, being able to threaten other Stealth Rock setters with Earthquake or Icicle Spear. Meanwhile, Regice still remains as a decent check to specially-based Water-types, like Ludicolo or Gorebyss, or pretty much most special attackers in general. Its behemoth Special Defense stat means that Regice can invest in Special Attack and fire off strong Ice Beams or Thunderbolts. It's very evident that Snover didn't have a centralizing impact on NU; all these Pokemon have great uses outside of combating hail teams which is a reason why Snover was deemed to be not broken before tier shifts came around.
Due to the versatility of Psychic-type Pokemon, Dark-types always had a hard time switching in as most of them feared being OHKOed or 2HKOed by a coverage move. Absol's departure to RU only made it easier for Psychic-types, as Skuntank remains the best and only good user of Pursuit in the tier. However, Skuntank has many flaws, such as having mediocre coverage, which allows bulky Ground- and Steel-types to freely switch in. Skuntank also fears certain moves that Psychic-types usually carry, such as Focus Blast, Destiny Bond, Will-O-Wisp, and even Hidden Power Ground. Because of this, "Psychic spam" teams (teams which utilize more than one Psychic-type Pokemon) have been a hot topic among NU players. Psychic-types, like Gardevoir, can considerably wear down or KO checks like Skuntank in order to allow another Psychic-type to tear through the opponent's team. Avid NU player FLCL summarizes the potency of such a team in this post:
i've been using psychic spam even before absol left, since teams usually don't carry more than one dark-type. destiny bond haunter or gardevoir in conjunction with duosion or musharna is extremely devastating to all forms of teams, especially balance and stall since they can't hit the latter two hard enough. you could even go on the offensive and run cores such as haunter plus exeggutor if setting up is not your thing. there are so many versatile psychic-types in the tier that all perform different roles, which makes it much harder to stop than flying or normal spamming. you also have to worry a lot less about sawk—arguably the biggest threat in the tier right now—from running over your team since most psychic-types can take it on very well.
Gardevoir @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
- Focus Blast
- Shadow Ball
- Destiny Bond / Will-O-Wisp
Musharna @ Leftovers
EVs: 240 HP / 252 Def / 16 Spe
- Calm Mind
- Heal Bell / Signal Beam
So go out there and play NU! It is a very easy metagame to get into and there are a ton of interesting projects that you can participate in!
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