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Tier Shift was created with the intention of making less viable Pokémon more competitive. The main principle is that each Pokémon below the OU tier gets a buff to its BST—anywhere from +5 to a massive +15. You would think all Pokémon not named Feebas would become viable, but that's certainly not the case. This article aims to prepare you for some common threats everyone should be ready for. If you can deal with these, you will already be in the top half of Tier Shift players.
Below are some of the more common sets found in Tier Shift, followed by a brief explanation of why they work. For variety's sake, I have decided to leave weather setters out. Any OU player worth their salt will know about weather setters and how to deal with them. If you're interested in weather setting teams, please look at previous articles in the Smog series.
Cresselia is an amazing wall in Tier Shift—much like in standard doubles. Its high defenses, good support moves, and immunity to Ground-type moves make it an ideal teammate. Cresselia isn't without its flaws, however. Powerful physical attacks will leave a nasty dent in it, and the likes of Taunt, Trick, and Toxic will severely limit its capabilities. Despite this, Cresselia is an excellent pivot and special wall in the tier.
This set is designed to stop all special attackers cold in their tracks. Ice Beam is chosen as it provides the widest coverage and hits Dark-types harder than anything else. Cresselia can switch into almost any special attack in the game bar Choice Specs Chandelure's Shadow Ball. After a single Calm Mind, Latios's Draco Meteor does around 35%, letting Cresselia Moonlight back to full health. Although its Special Defense is far superior, its physical defense shouldn't be overlooked; Acrobatics from Archeops will never KO Cresselia and it can strike back with a powerful Ice Beam. If you have no check for Cresselia, be prepared for mayhem.
Durant is a perfect example of a Pokémon improved by Tier Shift. Thanks to its boosted Attack and Speed, Durant can pull off sweeps much more easily. One of its main selling points is its ability to boost up in Cresselia's face, OHKOing it with Hustle-boosted X-Scissor. Another advantage of using Durant is that it never has to worry about sandstorm teams as they rarely have a counter for it.
This set lends itself to early-game wallbreaking, using its immensely powerful X-Scissor to decimate anything in its path. Iron Head means Durant can smash its way through the high concentration of Rock-type Pokémon in Tier Shift, and Stone Edge can catch a Fire-type on the switch in. A Lum Berry can provide extra protection against Prankster abusers, but a Bug Gem will make X-Scissor very dangerous.
Thanks to Prankster and Will-O-Wisp, Sableye can put a stop to almost any physical sweeper. Its defenses aren't anything to boast about, but an immunity to Fighting- and Psychic-type attacks makes it fairly easy to switch in. Sableye is by no means a spectacular Pokémon; it just has the right ability and movepool to cause problems in almost any tier it's played in.
Playing with Sableye is fairly straightforward. Prankster Will-O-Wisp along with Recover and Taunt turn Sableye into a decent physical tank and stall breaker. Will-O-Wisp effectively doubles Sableye's Defense, and prioritized Recover means Sableye can restore its health before taking a hit. Boosting Pokémon, such as Cresselia, are brought to a standstill with Taunt, while Night Shade deals with them in the quickest way possible. Not much more to say. It's difficult to counter.
Rising from the depths of PU, Stoutland is the reason all Tier Shift teams must carry a Normal-resist. Crunch, Return, Wild Charge, and Fire Fang provide excellent coverage, only stopped by a few select Pokémon, such as Heatran, Regirock, and Tangrowth. Pokémon with access to Mach Punch can take care of the former two, while special sweepers can deal with Tangrowth. A counter to Stoutland should always be considered when creating your team; otherwise, you will be caught off-guard.
This set should only be used on sandstorm teams. Sand Rush raises Stoutland's Speed to a whopping 578, revenge killing many Pokémon in the tier. That's not all; Stoutland requires no set up, making it an immediate threat. Its typing is also a boon, making it synergize well with common Ground-types found on sandstorm teams.
Regirock is the third Pokémon in this list helped by sand, and the strongest stat-wise. With its massive 95/215/115 defenses and a boost from sandstorm, Regirock becomes an unstoppable wall. With a single Curse, Regirock acts as a full stop to all forms of Stoutland and other Normal-type attackers. Regirock's main flaw is its lack of a reliable recovery move and vulnerability to Sunny Day teams. If you ever need a check to sandstorm teams, Regirock is the way to go.
During a sandstorm, this set is almost impossible to knock out. With full investment in Special Defense and a boost from sandstorm, neither a Kyurem-B's Outrage nor a Chandelure's Shadow Ball can OHKO it. The majority of special attackers can only dream of 3HKOing Regirock, so it can Curse up before Resting back to full health and proceeding to sweep. Regirock is not without its weaknesses, however; Trick, weather changers, and setup boosters can force it out. Once these threats are dealt with, Regirock can do some major damage.
Remember when I said Stoutland was the reason all teams carry a Normal-resist? I wasn't being entirely honest there. Sawsbuck is known as the the Stoutland of the sun, but with more diverse coverage and better Speed. Apart from Shedinja, Sawsbuck is a difficult Pokémon to counter. Heatran with its Air Balloon still intact can force it out, while Pokémon carrying Mach Punch and Ice Shard can overcome Sawsbuck's high Speed. Skarmory is probably your best bet against it, though it can be 2HKOed by Wild Charge.
This set can sweep very easily when sun is up. Just switch into a Water- or Rock-type Pokémon and Swords Dance as they switch out. At +2 Attack, Sawsbuck can 2HKO everything in the metagame with the appropriate coverage move. If you're afraid of Skarmory, use Wild Charge; if you can't get rid of Cresselia, use Megahorn; and if you just want to have general coverage that can deal with Air Balloon Heatran, Jump Kick is great. Sawsbuck is very weak to priority moves; just make sure you get rid of the appropriate Mach Punch / Ice Shard users before trying to sweep.
Sigilyph is another Pokémon that benefits from increased bulk. A lot of common threats in the tier are physical, meaning Sigilyph can neuter them with Psycho Shift, rendering them completely impotent. For example, if Stoutland is burned, it poses no threat to the opposing team. Sigilyph also preys on the few Dark-type Pokémon commonly used. Scrafty and Hydreigon don't gain anything in Tier Shift, and other Dark-types, such as Absol and Houndoom, are often passed over for Zangoose or Chandelure, respectively.
This set has swept my teams more than I can count. Since I like to use physically-oriented Pokémon and tend to carry no Dark-types, it can take all the power from my Pokémon and set up faster than my Calm Mind Cresselia. The idea is to switch into a Fighting-type or a wall, set up with Cosmic Power, Psycho Shift a burn onto any physical Pokémon, then sweep with Stored Power. If you don't like being walled by Dark-types, switch Stored Power out for Air Slash, which despite being much weaker, can hit all types.
Jynx is an amazing abuser of two different weathers at the same time, a trait more common in Tier Shift than standard OU. With its Ice typing, it can fire off a powerful Blizzard and with is ability Dry Skin, it can run Life Orb with no net damage in the rain. It commonly runs a Life Orb set in the rain or a Choice set in hail, but it will always blast holes in the opposition.
This set is an excellent addition to your hail team, or any team in general. If you can predict correctly, Jynx can blast holes in the opponent's team and leave it crippled and broken for a final sweeper to come in. Blizzard and Psyshock are the STAB moves of choice. Hidden Power Fire can dispatch Forretress, Durant, Ferrothorn, and Escavalier, while Focus Blast can deal with the likes of Heatran.
Skarmory is the first and only OU Pokémon in this list. Tier Shift is a developing metagame, and most people tend to go with Pokémon they wish they could use in OU, but can't. This makes the metagame more centralized among NU Pokémon. Many OU Pokémon are still viable in Tier Shift, Skarmory being one of them. It fills the same roles as it does in OU: a hazard setter, a phazer, and a physical wall.
The set may seem familiar to you, but there's a big difference between this and its OU version. In Tier Shift, Skarmory can only carry one set of hazards. Roost, Brave Bird, and Whirlwind are required. Whirlwind is vital because of the greater concentration of setup sweepers in the tier. This is more common in Tier Shift than in OU, so Whirlwind is most needed.
Tier Shift grants Shedinja the most valuable gift it could have: 15 extra HP. It no longer fears sandstorm, hail, or other passive damage. Its 105 Attack is not too shabby, and combined with Swords Dance and Shadow Sneak, it can pose a major threat to teams lacking super effective coverage. One memorable battle for me involved my Regigigas PP stalling a Shedinja whose only attack was Shadow Sneak. Be prepared for long battles if you decide to use Shedinja.
Unlike the set described above, this set aims to switch into something that can't damage it, set up a Substitute or Hone Claws, and then Baton Pass to a recipient. Hone Claws is used because Swords Dance is incompatible with Baton Pass. The main benefit that Shedinja has over its brother Ninjask is its ability to force a Pokémon out and gain a free turn. This is very important because both Hone Claws and Substitute work well if a Pokémon that could KO Shedinja comes in.
All the discussed threats are very capable of sweeping a team. If, or optimistically, when, you build a Tier Shift team, make sure you have Pokémon capable of stopping them. Luckily, none of these have any less than seven counters, and many more could be discovered. Just be creative in your choices. Who knows, maybe you will find the next greatest threat while experimenting. Go out and do that!
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