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With each new generation, new abilities are introduced and, especially in Generation V, old abilities are made fantastic. Abilities play a large part in every battle and there are many Pokémon whose abilities give them a large advantage in today's metagames. I'm going to discuss 15 Pokémon who would lose a notable amount of potency if they did not have their ability, and several of these Pokémon would probably move down at least one tier if they could not take advantage of their great abilities. Some of these Pokémon have crippling flaws that aren't setbacks anymore, while others who were otherwise average have become significant threats. There are many Pokémon whose ability plays a large part in their success, but without further ado, let's take a look at 15 of them.
As the icon of retaliation, Wobbuffet's niche is trapping the opponent and dealing massive damage with powerful Counters and Mirror Coats, and maybe even Destiny Bond if its opponent is an all-out attacker. The fact that the opponent cannot escape is the reason Wobbuffet works so well. What allows this inability to escape? It's Wobbuffet's ability, Shadow Tag, which prohibits the opponent from switching out unless they have a move like U-turn or the item Shed Shell. Given that Wobbuffet has no attacks that cause direct damage and no way to cause any sort of status condition, it's clear that Wobbuffet is nearly useless if the opponent is free to keep switching and inflict it with a burn or poison. There are other Pokémon such as Gothitelle and Dugtrio who also make good use of trapping abilities.
In OU, Politoed is commonly seen running both offensive and defensive sets. With underwhelming base 90 Special Attack and 70 Speed stats, especially for OU standards, one might question why anyone would run an offensive set. Politoed's 90 / 75 / 100 defenses, while not bad, don't scream powerful wall either. Its movepool isn't anything particularly spectacular, so there's only one thing that makes Politoed undoubtedly one of the most powerful Pokemon in the game: the ability to summon permanent rain with Drizzle. Automatic permanent weather has shaped OU like nothing else, and with many ways to exploit rain's power, Politoed has become the most important member of many teams. Others in the same boat include Ninetales, Hippowdon, and Abomasnow.
There are many "cute legendaries" who have a base stat of 100 across the board. A good fraction of them—namely Victini, Shaymin, and Mew—are stuck in UU, while Manaphy has been banned all the way to Ubers. Manaphy doesn't have a better movepool than the others, and although Water is a nice type, it's certainly no grounds for such an extreme difference in viability. The answer comes from Manaphy's ability, Hydration. If it's raining, Manaphy is cured of any volatile status condition at the end of the turn. Not only does this prevent Manaphy from being crippled by Toxic, paralysis, or sleep, but Manaphy can use this ability to cure off Rest. Instead of having to deal with the obligatory two turns of sleep, Manaphy recovers full health and is then healed of its sleep at the end of the turn, granting Manaphy access to the best form of recovery in the entire game. Vaporeon, Lapras, and Dewgong are also some Pokémon who can take advantage of this wonderful yet slightly broken tool.
For a physical sweeper who was banned to Ubers, you would certainly expect better than base 120 Attack and 80 Speed stats. The main issue is that subpar Speed, making Blaziken outpaced by many things. How convenient is it that Speed is no longer an issue with Blaziken's new gift this generation? Speed Boost increases Blaziken's Speed by one stage at the end of every turn. With Speed Boost, Blaziken outruns just about all non-Scarfed Pokémon after just one turn and outspeeds essentially everything after two. A solid attacking stat coupled with the ability to outspeed everything allows Blaziken to tear through unprepared teams. Sharpedo is another well-known user of this ability. On a similar note, there are other abilities which double Speed in a certain weather condition. Similar to Blaziken, Stoutland, Kingdra, and Venusaur become fearsome offensive powerhouses after the gigantic increase in Speed, even though they gain their Speed with slightly different abilities.
Despite Nidoking's great movepool, it lacks the offensive stats required to do serious damage to everything. This has been remedied quite nicely by Sheer Force. Giving up the 10% chance to lower Special Defense with Earth Power is a low cost to pay when nearly all of Nidoking's best moves are beefed up by 30%. Additionally, Sheer Force negates Life Orb recoil, transforming Nidoking into a monster with amazing power, nearly unmatched coverage, and the luxury of not being locked into any moves or taking recoil after every attack. Darmanitan, Nidoqueen, and Tauros also make good use of Sheer Force, as the large increase in power is very noticeable.
Alakazam's Magic Guard grants it immunity from all forms of direct damage. No more annoying damage from entry hazards, burn, poison, hail, sandstorm, and the like. In fact, Alakazam appreciates being burned because that means it can't be crippled by sleep, freeze, or paralysis! Now Alakazam has a few improved options that have different advantages. It can run a Life Orb set a little more effectively because Magic Guard prevents Alakazam from taking Life Orb recoil. On the other hand, it's possible to run an effective Focus Sash set. Under every circumstance, Alakazam will be able to get at least one hit off because its Sash won't be ruined by entry hazards or weather. Reuniclus, Clefable, and Sigilyph also appreciate Magic Guard due to their increased survivability, which is a must-have for them.
"Choice Band", "UU", and "threatening" are usually not what comes to mind when given a Pokémon with base 50 Attack. Azumarill's solid bulk and typing make it appear to be a typical wall with not much offensive presence. However, because the usual 30% and 50% boosts weren't enough, Nintendo had to hit it out of the park and increase Azumarill's attack by a whopping 100% with Huge Power. Now, Azumarill has the equivalent of base 150 Attack, which is only commonly seen in Ubers. Strong STAB coming from the strongest Pokémon in UU severely damages or OHKOs everything that doesn't resist it. Along with access to STAB priority and a few powerful coverage moves, Azumarill doesn't have to struggle in the depths of NU, where it very well might be if Huge Power never existed. Medicham also becomes a powerful physical attacker, a nice change from its previously poor offenses.
Sableye was blessed with the gift of the triple threat: poor Speed, poor offenses, and poor bulk. It'll take a bit more than a perfect Dark / Ghost typing to turn Sableye into undoubtedly one of the most annoying Pokémon in the game to face. Prankster gives Sableye priority on crucial moves such as Recover, Taunt, Will-O-Wisp, Substitute, Confuse Ray, and Trick. Now Sableye can laugh in the face of unprepared teams as it cripples them and heals along the way. There are many Pokémon who take good advantage of Prankster, such as Thundurus, Liepard, Whimsicott, and Volbeat, frustrating the opponents with priority Thunder Waves and Encores.
Previously, Ditto had to use a turn to transform into the opponent. Although it's just one turn, this was very problematic due to Ditto having a base stat of 48 everywhere; it wasn't hard for the opponent to outspeed and OHKO, barring a Focus Sash. The opponent also had the option of crippling Ditto with a status, and furthermore, it was extremely difficult for Ditto to switch in on anything. It's now time for our little pink blob to shine as Imposter grants it a Transform immediately upon switching in. With switch advantage, Ditto can now find opportunities to come in and instantly grab the momentum of the match. With a Choice Scarf and the right prediction, Ditto can come in at any time, outspeed, and do serious damage.
Entry hazards, Taunt, Leech Seed, and indirect status are staples in all metagames. Being immune to those things would be an enormous advantage. But if that isn't enough, how about sending them right back at the opponent without wasting any turns? Behold the awesome power of Magic Bounce, in which things that could seriously hurt your team instantly turn into advantages that can cripple the opponent. Magic Bounce regularly turns the tides of the match, and its applications and power should not be underestimated. Xatu is the other signature Magic Bouncer that also puts its ability to great use.
Essentially, at full health, Multiscale allows Dragonite to have a free damage-reducing Berry. All 17 of them. All at the same time. And, the attack doesn't need to be super effective for Dragonite to only take half damage. Plus, given that Multiscale can be renewed through recovery, Dragonite becomes very bulky and hard to damage at full HP, allowing it to do things like set up a Dragon Dance more easily. There are many moves that would OHKO Dragonite that no longer do so, as now Dragonite loses a little chunk of health from blows that would severely damage it. Lugia also becomes a much more powerful wall, taking disappointingly little damage from anything at full health.
Some Pokémon have the permanent, unfortunate quality of having a horrible offensive typing, such as Poison- or Normal-types, or having a large number of common weaknesses, like Ice-types. As if it weren't already good enough, Arceus now really can find a place on every team due to Multitype. By holding a different Plate, Arceus has access to a base 100 STAB attack of every one of the 17 types. On the other hand, Arceus can become a Ghost- or Steel-type to gain a host of useful immunities and resistances. Sometimes people might be hesitant to fill a team's last slot with certain Pokémon because it would provide the team with a glaring weakness versus a type, but Arceus not only doesn't have that problem, but it can reduce it using the correct Plate.
Last month, Scizor was by far OU's most used Pokémon. It's got a phenomenal base 130 Attack stat, reasonable bulk, and a good typing, but what really pushes it over the edge is Technician, powering up all moves with 60 Base Power or less by 50%. Factoring in STAB and Technician, Scizor now has access to a 90 Base Power priority in the form of Bullet Punch, 135 Base Power Bug Bite, and 60 Base Power Pursuit. These overpowered attacks cause huge dents and headaches for most of Scizor's opponents. Breloom and Ambipom also appreciate the power boost given by Technician.
Genesect's vast movepool and dual base 120 offenses make it a fearsome attacker, but what forced it into Ubers was its amazing Download ability, which means that it's always at +1 in either Attack or Special Attack, both of which are very beneficial, allowing it to run deadly mixed sets. Genesect has the capacity to hit everything for a huge chunk of damage because of these free boosts. The Porygon family can hit hard with a Special Attack boost from Download as well.
Only one Pokémon in the game fearlessly laughs in the face of Choice Specs Kyogre in the rain: the pinnacle of gimmicks, none other than that bug with 1 HP and by far the most broken ability in the game. Although Shedinja with Wonder Guard dies to many things anyway, including hazards, status, and several common weaknesses, the immunity from all attacks that aren't super effective from Wonder Guard allows Shedinja to wall several things and ultimately not die to literally everything it isn't weak to. Without Wonder Guard, there is no possible way for Shedinja to succeed on any serious team, but with the right support, Shedinja can provide a satisfying victory.
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