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Since the Doubles metagame has been around for several months now, it has had some time to settle into trends, and the viability of various Pokemon has had time to be established. While there are plenty of big winners in Doubles play who went from zeroes to heroes, there are also many singles titans who were big losers in the shift to the Doubles metagame and experienced a drop in viability. This article aims to showcase influential Pokemon and strategies in singles which have lost much of their power in the transition to Doubles or have become overshadowed by other options.
Darkrai is a force to be reckoned with in the Ubers metagame. Its amazing Speed and Special Attack stats, powerful signature move in Dark Void, access to Nasty Plot, and wide variety of possible sets all make it a very potent threat in singles play. One would think that with all of these things going for it, Darkrai would have little problem dominating in the Doubles metagame as well, but unfortunately, Darkrai is not as viable in Doubles play. One of the main things that decreased Darkrai's viability is that its powerful sleep move Dark Void is banned in Doubles play because it can put both opposing Pokemon to sleep at once. Without Dark Void in its arsenal, the closest replacement Darkrai can utilize is Hypnosis, whose accuracy is shaky at best.
In addition to this, Darkrai's typing does it no favor due to granting few useful resistances. Compared with other attackers in the tier such as Kyurem-B, Scizor, or Tyranitar, it is much harder to switch Darkrai in without causing it to take a lot of damage. In order to bring it in safely, you'll either have to lead with it, predict well, or bring it in once something's been KOed. This hurts its potential to have an impact on battles significantly, as it puts more strain on its partners to compensate for this.
Also, another thing working against Darkrai is that its excellent Special Attack is marred in Doubles by its low Base Power STAB. Dark Pulse's 80 Base Power is paltry in comparison to other heavy hitter's moves such as Draco Meteor from Latios, Acrobatics from Tornadus-I, and Blizzard from Kyurem, and other moves with a similar Base Power such as Muddy Water or Sucker Punch generally have some other draw to their use, such as being a spread move or having priority. This means that it often won't have the power to deal as much damage as other threats. In addition, Nasty Plot is not as viable in Doubles play as setup is not as viable due to the possibility of taking damage from two Pokemon at once, which puts you at risk of losing your Pokemon. This means that Darkrai often won't have the power that it wants to deal large amounts of damage.
Despite these things, however, Darkrai does retain a niche in being able to deal large amounts of damage to Pokemon such as Cresselia, Latios, and Chandelure, which are very common in the Doubles metagame. It also has many useful coverage options such as Thunder and Blizzard on top of its already perfect coverage in Focus Blast + Dark Pulse, as well as access to utility moves such as Taunt and Thunder Wave, so while it is not as powerful as it once was, it can still be useful on a team.
Tornadus-T was very influential during its time in OU before it was booted to Ubers due to its high Speed, strong STAB attack, and the ability to heal off damage with Regenerator. On paper it might appear to be just as good as if not better in Doubles due to rain being aided by things such as the legality of Drizzle + Swift Swim, but in reality it is often overshadowed by its Incarnate Form. While Regenerator is a decent ability, Tornadus sports two abilities that are generally better suited for Doubles play: Prankster lets Tornadus make use of moves such as Taunt, Rain Dance, and Tailwind at a +1 priority, which are immensely useful in Doubles due to their vast utility such as reversing sweeps, aiding in the weather war, or preventing the use of dangerous moves such as Trick Room. Its other ability, Defiant, allows it to gain an Attack boost from an Intimidate drop, taking advantage of common Intimidate users such as Hitmontop and Landorus-T.
Another reason that Tornadus is usually more suited to Doubles play is that the increased Attack and Special Attack from Tornadus-I allows it to deal more damage and potentially gain KOs that Tornadus-T might miss out on, such as an OHKO on Latios from a Flying Gem Acrobatics or the chance to OHKO both Kyurem formes, which is more useful than the Speed increase provided by using Tornadus-T, especially in a metagame infested with Trick Room, Tailwind, Icy Wind, and other forms of Speed regulation that can all offset the value of a high Speed stat.
Other things working against Tornadus-T in the Doubles metagame are the fact that its defenses are underwhelming. It lacks the ability to smash through Pokemon before it has to take a hit, missing out on things like an OHKO on both Kyurem formes with Focus Blast while getting OHKOed in return. This means that it can often find itself hard-pressed to last long enough to warrant fitting it onto a team. Also, as its typing offers few useful resistances and its main STAB move is a single target move, it can be played around with Protect and either dispatched by a partner or forced down to a low enough HP that it likely won't have much of an effect on the remainder of the match (although Regenerator helps patch this up to a degree). In addition, its ability Regenerator is not as useful in Doubles as it is in singles due to the fact that less switches take place in a Doubles match then in a singles match.
This little pixie is the darling child of OU thanks to its ability to check many common and dangerous threats in the OU metagame such as Keldeo and Landorus-I. While its popularity in singles might cause one to think that it is also great in Doubles, it is hurt by the fact that things that it is meant to wall, such as Keldeo and Landorus-I, are less common in Doubles than they are in singles. Also, dangerous threats to Celebi such as Abomasnow and Volcarona have an easier time in the Doubles metagame than in the singles metagame. It just isn't able to keep up with common threats such as Scizor, Bisharp, and Kyurem-B.
In addition to these issues, while in OU Celebi is the premier Grass-type support Pokemon, it faces stiff competition in the Doubles metagame from Amoonguss, which is often used over Celebi due to its access to Spore and Rage Powder, which are very useful in allowing partners to set up moves such as Trick Room, as well as incapacitating a Pokemon temporarily. Celebi can differentiate itself from its competition through access to moves such as Trick Room, Healing Wish, Dual Screens, and U-Turn, so all is not bad for it.
In many tiers, defensive Pokemon are often very useful on stall-based strategies and are great at taking hits from the opponent in order to wear them down slowly and force switches. While there are many viable Pokemon in Doubles that primarily fulfill offensive support capacities such as Cresselia, Dusclops, and Amoonguss, plenty of Pokemon that are mostly meant to tank hits and don't have enough offenses to deal meaningful damage back are much less viable in Doubles than in singles. One of the reasons for this is that with the possibility of being targeted twice in one turn, walls have a much harder time not crumbling to attacks. An example of this would be using Hippowdon to wall Terrakion. While in singles Hippowdon could take hits from Terrakion repeatedly, in Doubles one could pair Terrakion with something such as Rotom-W, which has no problem scaring out Hippowdon to prevent Hippowdon from doing its job.
Another reason for the drop in viability of most defensive Pokemon is that entry hazards are not seen as much in Doubles as they are in singles. Normally, one of the primary ways to wear down the opponent is to force them out so they have to continue taking entry hazard damage, but this strategy does not work nearly as well in Doubles play due to the reduced amount of switches taking place in a game.
Another group of Pokemon that have experienced a decrease in viability in the transition from the singles metagame to Doubles are spinners. In singles, they have a great niche in keeping entry hazards off of the field, letting your walls come in and tank the hits that they're supposed to as well as letting Pokemon weak to Stealth Rock or susceptible to Spikes and Toxic Spikes damage stick around longer. In Doubles however, they're largely obsolete since entry hazards are not seen as much, making the role of a spinner unneeded.
It's not all bad for methods of passive damage, however. While it is not a good idea to attempt to stack entry hazards, a layer of Stealth Rock or Toxic Spikes can be very useful to keep Pokemon like Volcarona and Abomasnow in check and break Focus Sashes. Entry hazards also get an additional benefit from the fact that Rapid Spin is extremely rare in Doubles play, so once your entry hazards are up, they'll likely stay that way.
In the singles metagame, trappers are able to fulfill the niche of being able to trap and defeat certain Pokemon without them being able to switch out, letting a sweeper not have to deal with a certain wall or making it easier for you to win a weather war. In Doubles, this does not work as well for a few key reasons. While you can still trap Pokemon, the widespread use of Protect means that it's easy for one to prevent an important Pokemon from taking damage and then simply KO the trapper with the other Pokemon. This isn't helped by the fact that the majority of trappers have lackluster defenses. Many trappers are much more suited to a one-on-one environment where they can easily eliminate a specific threat. The fact that a partner gets thrown into the mix makes it much more difficult for trappers to do their jobs, hurting their overall viability.
In addition to this, there aren't many walls in the Doubles metagame that need trapping. The use of defensive Pokemon for the purpose of attempting to wall offensive threats is not something that takes place in the Doubles metagame very much, which means that you won't be adding a Gothitelle or Dugtrio to your team in order to make it easier for a certain Pokemon to sweep the way you would in OU, taking away another dimension of their usefulness.
Although the usefulness of trappers has decreased in the transition to Doubles, the ability to prevent switches is still very powerful even in a metagame where they don't take place as much. Many Doubles teams rely on overall team synergy, so while you won't necessarily be opening up a sweep by removing a certain Pokemon, you can make life more difficult for the opposing team by being able to trap and remove a specific Pokemon.
Hopefully this article was able to give you a better idea of the state of the Doubles landscape, as well as show you what to consider when trying to find the next big thing in the Doubles world. However, this article can only get you so far. The best way to see what works and what doesn't is to get out there and play some Doubles!
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