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Uncompetitive, unhealthy, broken. These are the words used to describe the numerous powerful Pokémon residing in the Ubers tier that would be an unhealthy presence in the OU metagame. Essentially, these Pokémon are banned from OU, the most "standard" of standard play. Some offenders, mostly the high-BST legendaries, were shackled at once, and never had a chance to wreak havoc in the OU metagame, while others had a stint there for a while before being subsequently suspected and then banned for their own various reasons. Basically, they were the gods of competitive play, and, barring drastic changes to mechanics, it was hard to see them coming down to OU-levels of influence again anytime soon.
But having two Pokémon at each side of the field counts as a drastic change to mechanics. Enter Doubles.
In Doubles, some, but not all, of these Pokémon are brought down to wreak havoc once again, but now with manageable levels of influence and power. "Why are these Ubers even allowed?" you may ask. Well, they're legal here for a number of reasons. For starters, having two Pokémon on each side of the field makes doubles a fairly self-balancing metagame, which means that it's difficult for something to be inherently broken. Thanks to the nature of doubles, a Pokémon can't as easily dominate through their respective qualities unless they prove to be too extreme. Another thing is that, with two Pokémon on each side, the pace of the game drastically changes to be much faster. As an effect of this, some aspects found in singles such as stall team archetypes and entry hazards are near nonexistent. A different way to play comes with a different way to determine what is good, what is bad, and what is broken. Simply put, some Pokémon deemed broken in singles are not so broken anymore and are thus legal to use in Doubles. Some are top threats in their own right (yet manageable), but others are basically what would be called "niche options," barely clinging on to relevance.
What were those Pokémon freed from their shackles and let down to play in Doubles, and how do they stand in the metagame? Let's find out.
Two words: Speed Boost. With Speed Boost, it became a nigh-unstoppable sweeper that was able to break nearly everything with its strong STAB moves, especially with a Swords Dance boost, which it only needed one turn to attain. The presence of infinite sun, which made its Flare Blitz much more ridiculously powerful, didn't help its case either. The case was clear and Blaziken got sent to Ubers. Mega Blaziken, though it didn't have the luxury of infinite sun, was more or less the same thing but better (and also had Baton Pass!) and was subsequently quickbanned sometime at the beginning of XY.
How does Blaziken fare in Doubles? Well, let's just say it's not really having a hot time. Basically, for something to be considered a decent setup sweeper in this format, it's got to have considerable bulk; just look at Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Scizor. Blaziken, Mega Stone be damned, is frail, and having two Pokémon on the opponent's side of the field isn't really good either when it comes to finding chances to get a Swords Dance off. To viably run a Swords Dance set (or any set, for the matter), Blaziken needs a significant amount of support, such as redirection. It also needs teammates that can easily deal with Trick Room, Talonflame, and Thundurus, which dealing with can really take a strain on teambuilding choices. Blaziken also doesn't have much to choose from when it comes to attacking options, as it misses out on Close Combat, Superpower has a nasty drawback, and High Jump Kick is risky to run due to the abundance of Protect in the format. Bar Speed Boost, Charizard is an overall better Fire-type to run. Still, a STAB 120 Base Power Flare Blitz coming out off a base 160 Attack, most likely boosted by Blaziken's nature, is going to hurt if not resisted; Blaziken's base forme hits for roughly the same damage when holding a Life Orb, but without the cost of using a Mega Stone. A physical set often carries Protect, Flare Blitz, Low Kick, and either Swords Dance or Stone Edge. A number of people have also used specially based sets holding a Life Orb, running most notably Heat Wave and Hidden Power Ice to hit Landorus-T. Some have even run Baton Pass on it to pass the accumulated Speed from Speed Boost to a teammate, most likely Mega Kangaskhan. All in all, while Blaziken is a decently powerful pick, it needs massive support to work.
With insane coverage and Protean, it easily put a dent in everything on the OU landscape. Boasting a number of coverage moves, Greninja is able to beat a select yet significant portion of the metagame without the opponent knowing which move is being run, as it can run any combination viably. This is thanks to its ability, Protean, which makes its type change according to the move it uses before it attacks, gaining a STAB boost on them. Essentially, every attacking move on its moveset is both a STAB and a coverage move at the same time. With every possible combination having different checks and counters, this forced guessing games in favor of the Greninja user. It was impossible to reliably check or counter without having at least two slots dedicated for it. Its high Speed and power also made it difficult to switch in with offensive teams, while balanced builds were simply crushed due to Greninja being able to pack a number of coverage moves. All in all, Greninja was an overly powerful force in the metagame and was thus banished to Ubers.
The shift to doubles, however, hurts its viability immensely. It's now forced to run Protect, which makes it lose out on a coverage move, giving it less scope. Its frailty hurts it a lot, as having to deal with two Pokémon at the same time means that it can easily get picked off by the foe it's not targeting. It can't run physical attacks anymore due to the prevalence of Intimidate softening Greninja's blows, and its Attack stat is already low to begin with. By standards, its Special Attack is also quite weak, and it is often passed over in favor of more competent attackers such as Keldeo and Latios. Mat Block, a notable move Greninja has, is widely seen by the Doubles community as a gimmick, because, even though it protects both the user and its partner from damage, it doesn't have priority, meaning faster Pokémon can still hit through, and it doesn't block status, making them still susceptible to Thunder Wave, Will-O-Wisp, and the like. It also only works the first turn Greninja is in the field, meaning it's useless thereafter. The only usable niche Greninja has is as a Blizzard spammer in Hail that can also deal with opposing Fire-types, such as Heatran and Charizard, with Hydro Pump and Rock Slide. If you're looking for a strong special attacker to use, search elsewhere.
Though it has many formes with different ways of playing, Deoxys had found a way to get them all to be really good to the point that they'd all get banned from OU play. Whether it be through entry hazards or raw power, Deoxys and its three formes never let up and all got themselves banished to Ubers. Deoxys-A got itself banned due to it being able to completely decimate anything it faces through sheer power. Deoxys-N is basically a mellowed out version of its Attack Forme, but it's still unmanageable for OU play and thus got the boot as well. Its two other formes, Deoxys-S and Deoxys-D, had a short stint in OU before they followed suit. Deoxys-D's ability to reliably set up entry hazards while being able to modify its set to beat would-be checks was deemed unhealthy and resulted in its ban, while Deoxys-S's reason was that not only can it reliably set up entry hazards, it could also run a strong, reliable attacking set that can also clean and revenge kill while being to be able to switch moves, thanks to not needing a Choice Scarf.
With the shift to doubles, however, comes the downfall of Deoxys. Its Speed and Defense Formes are, unfortunately, unviable and completely irrelevant. The drastically lower value of entry hazards means that there was basically no reason to use entry hazard sets with either forme. Without entry hazards, there was basically no reason to use Deoxys-D, as it was also outclassed by Cresselia in other supportive roles such as being a Trick Room setter. Deoxys-S wasn't faring any better, as its only other set, an attacking variant, is outclassed... by Deoxys-A. Deoxys-N is also outclassed by Deoxys-A, but not totally, as Deoxys-N can survive weak attacks and is not forced to run a Focus Sash, so it can reasonably hold a Life Orb. Deoxys-A, though it has lower Speed compared to Deoxys-S, still outruns most of the same threats but packs significantly more power. Boasting very high attacking stats, it often runs a mixed set with the moves Psycho Boost, Superpower, Protect, and either Extreme Speed, Ice Beam, or Knock Off for the last slot. It's forced to run a Focus Sash, however, to guarantee it can get off at least one hit. Its main weakness is priority moves and the numerous forms of managing Speed in the format such as Tailwind and Trick Room that can ruin its day quickly. All in all, only Deoxys-A stands as truly viable, with Deoxys-N far behind as a niche pick. When you need something that can put immense pressure on the opponent, Deoxys-A is the one to choose. But don't expect it to live the hit afterwards!
With enough Speed to outspeed a significant portion of the unboosted metagame and respectable offensive stats, Mega Lucario had what it needed to be a force in the OU metagame. With the ability to run both physically and specially based sets, Mega Lucario was an unpredictable attacker. Its power on both sides is taken a step further by Adaptability, boosting the power of its already-strong STAB moves to dangerous levels. Access to both Nasty Plot and Swords Dance also helps it be a fantastic sweeper. After setting up, Mega Lucario can easily break through dedicated walls to pieces and sweep, and its unpredictability means that sending in the wrong answer can prove to be disastrous. A Nasty Plot based set was generally favored, but a Swords Dance variant was still powerful in its own right, boasting powerful priority in Extreme Speed. Anyway, Mega Lucario had generally few answers, and its Speed, power, and unpredictability were deemed too powerful, so it was thus banned.
However, the change of pace in doubles doesn't work out in its favor. With Intimidate prevalent, purely physical sets have taken a downer. Its frailty is much more highlighted as well, thanks to having to deal with two Pokémon at a time instead of just one. It also can't as easily nab a boost with either Swords Dance or Nasty Plot because of the much more offensive pace of the format, meaning there are less opportunities to set up. Without a boost, it doesn't really dominate as much as it does in singles, Adaptability notwithstanding. Although still quite powerful, Mega Lucario's loss of sweeping ability meants that it is passed over by other Fighting-types such as Terrakion and Keldeo, which are somewhat bulkier and have comparable effectiveness while not costing a Mega slot. As it stands, Mega Lucario is very rarely used. This is mostly because of the opportunity cost of using it, and the fact that another fast Fighting-type, such as Keldeo or Terrakion, can be used instead. The generally seen viable set is a mixed attacking variant with Protect, Close Combat, Flash Cannon, and Substitute. The set makes use of Close Combat's higher power compared to Aura Sphere while circumventing opposing Intimidate using Flash Cannon, with Substitute rounding off the set by limiting damage taken and blocking attempts to status Mega Lucario. Mega Lucario is a decent choice for Doubles, but there are other picks with similar roles but less opportunity costs, so take note.
Boasting access to the elemental beams, U-turn, and Download, Genesect was able to provide momentum from the get-go. Genesect threatened a majority of its foes with its spectacular coverage; if they tried to switch to a counter, Genesect could just U-turn to an appropriate answer with no momentum lost. This often caused mind games in favor of the Genesect user. Genesect's effectiveness in doing that was put to the extreme by Download, which gave it a boost to its offenses to amp up its damage output even further, meaning its U-turn and other moves would have a sting. It couldn't be easily beat, as it could just escape its counters with U-turn while still doing sizable damage in the process. It was also unpredictable, as it could run a multitude of other sets such as Choice Scarf, Shift Gear, Choice Band, and Expert Belt to bluff Scarf. Its versatility, unpredictability, and ability to maintain momentum skyrocketed the robotic bug to Ubers.
The transition to doubles hurts Genesect, however. Only the Choice Scarf set stands out as truly effective in the format; its other sets are either hindered by the prevalence of Intimidate, hard-pressed for moveslots due to needing Protect, require setup in order to actually be effective, or, as with the Expert Belt set, incredibly difficult to use reliably due to being frail and only having decent Speed. Genesect is also much harder to switch in than in singles, due to frailty and by nature double switches being hard to pull off. While it still has the same impeccable coverage it had in singles, it has to play much more carefully. For one, opposing Pokémon can scout its chosen move due to Protect being a staple move to run. It can't force out foes like it did in singles, so it has to play accordingly. It also has to be careful of making the wrong move at the wrong time, such as going for a U-turn on an opposing Protect, due to its frailty meaning it can't afford to take a hit. Genesect is best played as a Choice Scarf attacker with strong coverage, often running U-turn and a mix of the elemental beams and Iron Head. Although niche, it can also run an attacking set with Douse Drive, preferably in rain, to get the KO on Heatran. While it is not a top threat, Genesect is still viable with its strong coverage and power with Download.
A big reason why Darkrai got the boot was Dark Void, an 80% accurate move that puts an opposing Pokémon to sleep; the move, in conjunction with a very high Speed of 125, meant that Darkrai almost always got to put an opposing Pokémon to sleep before they could even move. Darkrai also possesses Nasty Plot and made good use of it due to having a free turn to set up against a sleeping Pokémon. Bad Dreams was also useful, as it chipped in some damage if the opposing Pokémon was snoozing at the end of the turn, which was not a rare sight. Basically, Darkrai's high offensive stats and access to moves Dark Void and Nasty Plot made it too strong of a threat and it was met with a ban.
You may be wondering, "Why is Darkrai legal when it boasts Dark Void in a format without Sleep Clause?" The answer to that question is: Dark Void is banned. In the shift to doubles play, Darkrai loses access to one of its strongest moves, and for good reason: Dark Void is a spread move, and putting both opposing Pokémon to sleep at a whim puts a player at a huge disadvantage early on at uncompetitive levels, which resulted to its ban. Without Dark Void, Darkrai isn't exactly special anymore; Darkrai without Dark Void is basically just your typical special attacker with Dark-type for STAB. Its Speed tier is excellent, however, as it outruns a significant portion of the metagame, and its offensive typing lets it serve as a good check to top threats such as Aegislash, Latios, and Cresselia. When used, Darkrai often comes equipped with a Life Orb and carries its STAB move Dark Pulse along with other coverage moves such as Focus Blast, Ice Beam, and Sludge Bomb, or utility in Will-O-Wisp and Taunt. Darkrai would be considered a somewhat niche pick, but it'd serve well.
Mega Gengar, though not really a Pokémon meant to sweep teams, hit the spotlight thanks to its ability, Shadow Tag. Mega Gengar was a Pokémon that could easily remove its teammate's checks and counters with near certainty due to them being trapped, paving the way for an easy victory later on. It could easily dismantle defensive teams by weeding out significant members of cores, letting a teammate have an easier time sweeping. Mega Gengar's trapping capabilities had a negative effect to the metagame's development. That, and along with its strong offensive capabilities, great defensive typing, and good offensive and supportive movepool, paved the way to its quickban.
In Doubles, however, Mega Gengar as a whole is less effective. While it can still eliminate a teammate's checks and counters, it can do this at a less effective rate due to having to deal with two Pokémon at a time; unlike in singles, it can't just simply come in and trap a foe for the KO safely, as it is also under the threat of being hit by their partner. The more offensive nature of the format means that there are less easy pickings for Mega Gengar, due to walls such as Chansey and Skarmory and pretty much stall as a whole being unviable. Another thing is that, by nature of the format, the idea of trapping a certain Pokémon for a guaranteed endgame doesn't really work out. However, Mega Gengar is still effective to use in Doubles. It can control what the opponent can send in safely, else they'd risk certain Pokémon from getting picked off. Mega Gengar controls what it and its partner is matched up on, as opposing Pokémon are not able to switch out; this is also useful for facilitating revenge kills, as they can't switch out to safety anymore. Most notable, however, is Mega Gengar's capability to burn an opposing physical attacker and make them a non-factor for Mega Gengar's partner; in particular, Mega Gengar completely walls a top threat in Mega Kangaskhan running Sucker Punch, as the kangaroo can't touch Mega Gengar if it doesn't attack while Mega Gengar neuters it with Will-O-Wisp. Mega Gengar also has high Special Attack and outruns a majority of the metagame, so it can also function as an attacker while supporting its team with trapping. It often runs Protect, Shadow Ball, Will-O-Wisp, and either Sludge Bomb or Substitute depending on the coverage preferred. All in all, Mega Gengar's Shadow Tag is still a significant niche that makes it a threat to prepare for, and if you want a Pokémon that can remove a certain threat for a teammate, Mega Gengar is the one to choose.
Possessing Huge Power along with a respectable base 105 Attack stat, Mega Mawile dominated the OU metagame with its incredible strength. With the ability to beat its would-be counters, Mega Mawile was widely considered as a centralizing force in the format. It had all the qualities it needed: a strong attacking movepool, a decent Attack stat paired with Huge Power, Swords Dance, and considerable bulk. It had no real hard counters, as it had the ability to beat them with just a simple change in its moveset; for example, carrying Focus Punch allowed it to hit Heatran. Its only notable flaw, its low base 50 Speed stat, could be circumvented by running some Speed EVs and through the use of Sucker Punch. To beat Mega Mawile, a Pokémon often had to survive either a boosted Play Rough or Sucker Punch, which was a really tall order. Mega Mawile was deemed too powerful and was thus banned.
Mega Mawile, though less effective than it was in singles, is still a top threat in doubles. It still boasts the same offensive prowess, but the nature of the format means that it has to deal with not one, but two threats at a time. This is worrisome, as Mega Mawile already has low Speed, and this makes it even more prone to getting KOed. It's sometimes reliant on Sucker Punch to get a KO safely, which is risky, as this gives the opponent an opportunity to set up. It also doesn't have the same flexibility it had with moveslots due to it needing Protect, Sucker Punch, and a STAB move of choice. All is not bad for it, however. Mega Mawile is one of the most powerful attackers in the tier, possessing good typing for both offensive and defensive purposes. Its base forme also has Intimidate, which means it can support its teammates by softening to blows of opposing Pokémon's physical attacks. Its low Speed can be used in its favor through the use of Trick Room, which is much more viable in doubles than it is in singles. In Trick Room, Mega Mawile can safely give a hard beating on its foes while likely going first, making it all the more dangerous; Sucker Punch is still a useful move for mauling faster foes, though. Mega Mawile can also fit in on rain and balance teams, rounding out their framework. Most likely, Mega Mawile will carry Protect, Play Rough, Sucker Punch, and Iron Head, though Swords Dance and Substitute aren't unheard of. All in all, Mega Mawile is still a threat to look out for. If you want a very strong attacker to use in a team, Mega Mawile is a strong choice to look at. Always remember that base 105 Attack with Huge Power is never wrong.
Shaymin-Sky was a terror to face. While it had had blazing Speed and booming Special Attack, the kicker was that, with both Serene Grace and Air Slash, it can easily cheese its way past its would-be checks and counters by flinching them. Seed Flare also didn't help its case, as it broke most switch-ins courteous of it having an 80% chance to drop a foe's Special Defense by two levels. Shaymin-Sky was just so annoyingly good that it was unanimously banned to Ubers.
Fortunately, with the shift to doubles play comes a more manageable Shaymin-Sky. While it still can cheese its way through foes with flinches, it's not as powerful as it was in singles, as the opponent's other Pokémon can also deal with Shaymin-Sky and not just the one being targeted. Though it can't easily get KOs as skillfully as it did in singles anymore, Shaymin-Sky is still a powerful threat to face thanks to its powerful offensive stats and high-powered moves. Its high power and blazing base 127 Speed, which makes it faster than majority of the metagame, means that it can function as a very strong attacker in the metagame. Shaymin-Sky works best by supporting its team by taking out opposing fast attackers, possibly getting a KO and making sure its teammate remains safe. Seed Flare's side effect is still useful as well, as now even its partner can take advantage of the Special Defense drops it gets. It usually runs a fast attacking set holding a Life Orb with a moveset consisting of Protect, Air Slash, Seed Flare, and Earth Power. However, some opt to use Focus Sash instead of Life Orb, and Tailwind and Substitute are both usable alternatives over Earth Power; if Substitute is being run, it should be holding Leftovers instead. Being one of the best special attackers in the format, Shaymin-Sky is something to prepare for in this metagame.
Aegislash had the qualities needed to be a force to be reckoned with in the OU metagame. Though it had good typing and stats, what made it memorable was the fact that it can change its forme whenever it needs to; essentially, it could either be a bulky tank or a powerful glass cannon. Basically, it goes into Blade Forme, which has high offensive stats but low defenses, whenever it attacks and then goes back into Shield Forme, which has high defenses but low offensive stats, whenever it wants to by using King's Shield. King's Shield was part of the reason why it got banned; it is a move similar to Protect, except that it doesn't ignore status moves, but to make up for it, it reverts Aegislash back to Shield Forme and lowers its foe's Attack stat by two if they hit with with a contact move. Basically, King's Shield forced 50/50 situations with opponents too often, as they'd have to know when it's going to be used or else they'd pay dearly, essentially going up to chance. Aegislash was also considered to be a centralizing force, having good match-ups across the board while also being quite flexible in what it can do, which meant that teams often required a way to reliably beat it in order to succeed. Though some argued that it should stay, Aegislash got the boot and was sent to Ubers.
In Doubles, Aegislash is still a force to be reckoned with, but it's not as dominant as it was in singles. Notably, King's Shield isn't as powerful as before, as it can't really force the same 50/50 mind games it did before when the opponent can just attack the other Pokémon. Though lowering a foe's Attack is still nice, their side of the field still has another Pokémon, so it's not totally safe at once. Save for its Attack-dropping effect, King's Shield isn't that special either, when almost everything in the format carries Protect. Heck, needing King's Shield is kind of annoying at times, as it's bypassed by status-inducing moves unlike other Pokémon, which can just use Protect. Being forced to go into Blade Forme when attacking is annoying too, especially when it just targets a Pokémon using Protect, making the effort in vain; the opponent is then free to pick Aegislash off with either of their active Pokémon. Still, Aegislash is a strong pick for the metagame. It has good match-ups against a number of top threats in the format such as Latios, Mega Diancie, Terrakion, Metagross, and, most notably, Mega Kangaskhan. It's also still a strong attacker in its own right, being able to tank a number hits and hit back. It mostly runs bulky attacking sets running Shadow Ball, Flash Cannon, and King's Shield with either Wide Guard or Substitute to round off the set. Make no mistake about it, Aegislash is still a threat to prepare for in this format.
Mega Kangaskhan was a force to behold in its stay in OU. Though it only had fairly good stats across the board save for Special Attack, what truly pushed it to the limit was its ability, Parental Bond. Parental Bond allows Mega Kangaskhan to attack twice, the second hit only having half the power. Essentially, this was a Choice Band boost but without the drawback of getting locked to a move. Some of its moves worked wonderfully with Parental Band, such as Seismic Toss and Power-Up Punch, a move that boosts Attack by +1 when it hits; this is essentially the same as a Swords Dance boost, but it could still be used if Mega Kangaskhan was Taunted. With a boost, it easily powered through the sturdiest of physical walls, and it was near impossible to revenge kill save for faster Fighting-types due to Mega Kangaskhan also having access to Sucker Punch. It was also decently fast, at base 100 Speed, so it fared well against slower teams, and it had respectable bulk for an attacker, being able to take some hits. Its movepool wasn't too shabby either, with access to decent coverage moves such as Fire Punch, Crunch, and Earthquake. The kangaroo limited teambuilding, forcing people to run Pokémon that were obscure just for the sake of checking it. Simply put, its combination of Speed, power, bulk, and varied movepool was simply too much for the metagame and resulted to its quickban.
Mega Kangaskhan is actually still quite excellent in Doubles. Mega Kangaskhan as it stands, is a metagame-defining threat. However, it's not as good as it was in singles. The prevalence of Intimidate hurts it quite a bit, and being threatened by two Pokémon at a time puts a damper on its effectiveness. Also, as the format is more offensive by nature, it finds less openings to get a Power-Up Punch boost for free, though some support will help that. However, even with all those points, Mega Kangaskhan is still a very powerful Pokémon. With high Attack and decent Speed alongside respectable bulk, Mega Kangaskhan is one of the few attackers that can be viably run without using Protect. Aside from punching holes on the opponent's team with its high power, Mega Kangaskhan can also support its team with Fake Out, buying its side momentum by either flinching an opposing Pokémon or forcing them to use Protect to avoid damage. Mega Kangaskhan is often seen with an attacking set running moves such as Fake Out, Return, Sucker Punch, and Power-Up Punch, though a few prefer to use Protect over Fake Out instead in order to be safer. There are some that opt to run Ice Punch to hit opposing Landorus-T, another metagame-defining threat, and there are others that run an all-out attacking set that forgoes setup for raw power, running Double-Edge and Low Kick over Return and Power-Up Punch. Crunch is seen as well to hit Ghost-types, which think they completely wall Mega Kangaskhan, but it misses out on Sucker Punch's priority. Seismic Toss isn't unheard of, either, as it allows Mega Kangaskhan to bypass Intimidate and burns while still nabbing 2HKOs on a significant portion of the metagame. All in all, Mega Kangaskhan is top-tier threat; as a testament of its prowess, it got suspected twice during the course of XY. The arrival of ORAS only brought more checks to it, however, so it'll most likely stay in the format for good. Just know that Mega Kangaskhan is one of the best Pokémon in the format, and not preparing for it will surely be your downfall.
A Pokémon's ability to perform in singles play cannot be compared to how well it plays in Doubles. Hopefully this article was able to show you why these Pokémon are allowed and how they fare in doubles play. It is important to note that Doubles has a different style of play compared to singles. Now, get out there and play some Doubles! :]
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