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Remember when Pinsir was too much for UU? How about when everyone used Weezing as a physical wall? What about the days when about every Kangaskhan was a SubPuncher? UU has come quite a long way from the beginning of Diamond and Pearl to now, and it's still changing. Looking from then to now, we can only wonder what the metagame will be like months from now.
Everything from the beginning of D/P to the BL/UU merge is colloquially referred to as "Old UU". In the beginning of D/P, the UU tier was somewhat disorganized. There was no exceptionally good method of determining what was UU and what was BL. Pre-evolutions of OU Pokemon were also banned - this policy was met with measurable opposition. The tier underwent quite a few controversial changes, with the last major one being the drop of Venusaur, Weezing, Aerodactyl (who was eventually removed), Miltank, and Articuno into UU. Their introduction into UU was greeted with many complaints. Aerodactyl was extremely hard to wall thanks to its remarkable type coverage, and almost nothing could stop it from setting up Stealth Rock at the beginning of a match. Articuno, even if Stealth Rock was present, was a menace to almost every team without a Fire-type, thanks to its ability, Pressure, combined with its lethal SubRoost set. Weezing stopped Fighting-types "too well"; it and Steelix combined walled just about the entire UU physical spectrum.
Aerodactyl was eventually removed after its usage in the OU tier drove it past the BL/OU threshold. A brief period of diversity emerged; one such example of this was the unorthodox yet effective combination of Lopunny and Octillery, popularized by user Fishy, in which Lopunny Baton Passed an Agility boost and possibly a Substitute to an awaiting Octillery. Said Octillery could then easily sweep with its four coverage moves, backed by its beastly Special Attack stat. The diversity in UU soon came to an abrupt halt, though. Stall started to dominate the metagame, and many complained about how UU was centralized around a select few Pokemon. It was eventually decided that every Pokemon in the Borderline tier would be dropped, and all NFEs would be unbanned. While most agreed that this was the proper course of action, quite a few fondly reminisce upon Old UU.
The most dominant Pokemon... was Steelix. It was the most solid Stealth Rock user in the tier, had adequate coverage with just two moves (Earthquake and Gyro Ball), and possessed excellent resistances and a stellar Defense stat. Steelix was instrumental in keeping many threatening sweepers, including Swellow, Drapion, Altaria, and Absol, in check. Its main weakness, to Fighting-type attacks, was easily remedied by using Claydol or Weezing; Rotom, Venusaur, and Altaria were used less, but they were still adequate alternatives. The defensive combination of Weezing and Steelix was near impossible to break with a physical attacker, and it was commonly combined with Clefable, creating a near-impenetrable defensive core.
The most threatening sweeper... was Ninetales. With a set of Nasty Plot, Fire Blast, Energy Ball, and Hypnosis, there was little that could counter it - your best bet was Mantine, Grumpig, or Lanturn. Of these three, Mantine was the most common, and as the usage of it grew, so did the usage of Hidden Power Rock on Ninetales. Hidden Power Rock hit Mantine, along with Flareon and Altaria, for super effective damage. It did not help matters that many potential Ninetales checks were severely crippled by Stealth Rock. Many called for this Pokemon to be banned; yet, it managed to keep its position in the UU tier.
The most anti-metagame Pokemon... was Absol. Absol had humble beginnings in UU. It was all but walled by Steelix (unless one chose to run Fire Blast), and it struggled a lot against Drapion. Then Platinum came and gifted Absol with Superpower, and suddenly, everything changed. With +2 Attack, Absol OHKOed practically everything in UU with Sucker Punch or Superpower. A defensive Hitmontop was its only true counter, and checks were hard to come by thanks to the fact that Absol possessed the strongest priority move in the tier. Absol was one of the best anti-metagame Pokemon during the extremely stallish end of Old UU.
The most prominent team style... at the end of Old UU was stall. More specifically, a stall team popularized by user -Mind- that consisted of Froslass / Rotom / Clefable / Hitmontop / a Leafeon counter / a Ninetales counter. Many people at the top of the leaderboard had laddered with that team, and it became so common that during the month of November, Hitmontop and Clefable managed to wrest the top two spots in UU usage from the two normal incumbents, Steelix and Claydol. The premise behind the team was to set up Spikes with Froslass, block Rapid Spin with Rotom - whom none of UU's Rapid Spinners could generally touch -, and use the rest of the team to wall the entirety of the UU tier. Kabutops, Nidoking, and Altaria were generally the best answers to these teams, although their effectiveness varied thanks to the team's numerous variations.
Theorymon was abound before the BL/UU merge. This sweeper was too powerful, that wall was impregnable... Staraptor, Honchkrow, and Blaziken were immediately pegged as threatening. A lot of controversy surrounded Chansey, the most prominent NFE - some were adamant that it would be terrible; others felt it would be necessary to combat all the threatening special sweepers. Auto-weather was another hot topic - many felt that Hippopotas would be just a gimmick, but a lot of people were quite uncertain about Abomasnow.
When the test actually began, many defensive threats immediately stood out. Spiritomb quickly became quite popular, with a set of Rest / Sleep Talk / Calm Mind / Dark Pulse, commonly referred to as "CroTomb". Quite a few people argued that it was broken, but players soon adapted to this threat by using Pokemon like Blaziken, Hariyama, and Registeel - which led to another outcry: Registeel was too hard to take down. It dwarfed Steelix with its much better Special Defense and arguably more useful typing, replacing it on many teams in need of a defensive Steel-type. The introduction of two bulky Water-types in Milotic and Slowbro was quite significant; they not only had access to reliable recovery, but were also much bulkier than other UU Water-types.
Soon, however, offensive play started to pick up. Honchkrow started out as a prominent threat, but it was soon overshadowed by Staraptor. Formerly associated with a Choice Band or Scarf, Staraptor took on a new face in the form of "SubRoost", a dangerous set that abused Staraptor's near-perfect coverage with only Brave Bird and Close Combat. Gallade also gained a lot of popularity; its simple Swords Dance set decimated just about all of the tier, and many believed that it swept too easily to be allowed in UU. On the special attacking side, Raikou was a dominant force. Its speed and power ensured that offensive teams struggled against it; only more defensive teams with Pokemon like Chansey and Registeel had little trouble with it.
Wynaut was initially allowed in UU, providing great support to set-up sweepers; however, it was deemed potentially Uber - not just BL - and was quickly banned. That is, it could not have been tested in UU before it was tested in OU.
Weather got off to a slow start. In fact, at the end of the month, Abomasnow wasn't very high in the usage stats, dwelling at #23, and Hippopotas was basically a non-factor. However, Hail teams wrought a lot of havoc through the tier. Abomasnow was extremely hard to switch into thanks to the nature of its SubSeed strategy, and the infamous StallRein caused many headaches with its Substitute/Protect/Ice Body combination. Combined with entry hazards, Hail teams, while perhaps somewhat unorthodox, became a significant threat.
The most dominant Pokemon... was Shaymin. Shaymin's balanced stats granted it with excellent versatility - SubSeed, Choice Specs, Life Orb, and even Swords Dance sets were usable -, ensuring that it could fit on nearly every team. Pokemon like Registeel and Chansey couldn't just "wall" Shaymin, as they would either be outstalled through Rest, which was abused a lot because of Shaymin's Natural Cure ability, or, in Chansey's case, beaten through Seed Flare's Special Defense drops. More offensive counters, such as Crobat and Roserade, could be beaten through alternative moves such as Psychic. Shaymin didn't end up becoming a suspect this stage of UU, mostly thanks to the fact that a good number of the suspects kept it in check, but once they were banned, Shaymin's full potential was revealed.
The most threatening sweeper... was Staraptor. With a moveset of Substitute / Roost / Brave Bird / Close Combat, there were hardly any counters to Staraptor. Staraptor could force many Pokemon out, setting up a Substitute on the switch, and if the switch-in did not both resist Flying and bear at least neutrality to Fighting, it was more often than not OHKOed or 2HKOed. Therefore, the best (and generally only) answers to Staraptor were Electric-types, namely Rotom, Luxray, and Ampharos, none of whom had reliable recovery. Staraptor basically terrorized all of UU, and there was not much opposition when it was deemed a suspect.
The most anti-metagame Pokemon... was Abomasnow. Abomasnow could abuse its Substitute / Leech Seed combination way too easily. Most other Leech Seeders struggled against various opposing Grass-types; however, Abomasnow's STAB Blizzard tore through all of them (with the exception of Ludicolo). Clefable, the only other Pokemon immune to Leech Seed, could be dispatched by a Focus Punch on the switch. All other switch-ins were forced to take the Leech Seed, which, combined with the hail and various entry hazards, would wear them down to the point where the rest of the hail team could easily outstall them.
Abomasnow and Staraptor were declared suspects at the end of the initial test, along with Raikou and Gallade. Crobat and Froslass, two common leads, were included as well thanks to the numerous support they provided to a team, in the form of weather and Spikes, respectively, along with fast Taunts, which prevented the set-up of most other opposing leads. The removal of the suspects thrust many other Pokemon into the spotlight. The void left by Staraptor was filled with Honchkrow, and the absence of Crobat let Shaymin and Roserade shine a bit more. Shaymin, in fact, was believed to be BL by many; however, others argued that it would be kept in check once Crobat undoubtedly returned. Indeed, at the end of this test, Crobat did return for another round of UU, while all the other suspects remained banned.
The removal of the suspects was not the only change UU underwent at the beginning of this period. Smeargle, an excellent support lead, was ousted out of UU because its usage in the Standard tier caused it to be OU, while Yanmega was dropped into UU because its usage in the Standard tier decreased too much. Yanmega was the subject of much speculation; many believed that Choice Specs and Tinted Lens was bound to be broken. Crobat, however, kept it in check fairly well, and Registeel and Chansey were options as solid counters. While this did not satisfy everyone, it was enough to keep Yanmega in UU - for the time being, anyway.
Shaymin was kept in check by Crobat, as everyone suspected; however, Crobat's return actually caused it to dominate even more. Almost all of Crobat's counters happened to be beaten by Shaymin, who was only a U-turn away. The combination of Crobat and Shaymin was therefore quite efficient in UU, as everyone grew to find out.
The most dominant Pokemon... was Crobat. Brave Bird / Roost / U-turn / Taunt was the standard set, although some chose to include Substitute, and Substitute / Roost / Brave Bird / Whirlwind was another popular option as well. Thanks to its high-powered STAB and sky-high Speed stat, Crobat decimated offensive teams. Taunt prevented set-up or recovery of any form; its only answers were mostly limited to slow, bulky Rock- and Electric-types - who could barely touch Shaymin, Crobat's most common partner.
The most threatening sweeper... was Honchkrow. Super Luck gave Honchkrow an abnormally high critical rate, which was abused to its fullest to eliminate otherwise potential counters, such as Milotic. With unresisted coverage between Drill Peck / Superpower / Sucker Punch, Honchkrow could severely damage anything at its leisure.
The most anti-metagame Pokemon... was Roserade. The prominence of Crobat and Shaymin was a double-edged sword for it. Crobat's dominance made it hard to use; however, it was able to take advantage of the numerous Shaymin to switch in and start setting up Spikes. Near the end of the test, Life Orb Roserade started to become popular; its ability to beat Chansey through Sleep Powder was invaluable, and it did have the option of using the gimmicky Extrasensory to beat Crobat on the switch.
The most prominent team style... was balance. More specifically, "LonelyBalance", popularized by user LonelyNess, that consisted of Moltres / Shaymin / Crobat / Honchkrow / Quagsire / Regirock. It abused the synergy between Crobat and Shaymin to sweep, and its offensive nature was instrumental in keeping Stealth Rock off the field. This team perfectly displayed Honchkrow's wall-breaking abilities as well, and it introduced Life Orb Moltres as a potentially broken threat. With just a little bit of residual damage, almost everything in UU was at least 2HKOed switching into Moltres's powerful Fire Blast, even if they resisted it.
Crobat, Honchkrow, and Shaymin were declared suspects without much opposition. Once again, another period of suspect testing began, in which Life Orb Roserade began to fully display its dominance. Life Orb Moltres remained a serious threat as well. Despite the fact that it kept both Pokemon in check, Crobat was declared BL without much of a fight. Shaymin was removed from UU as well; however, Honchkrow managed to scrape enough votes to remain in the UU tier.
Donphan and Dugtrio fell out of the Standard tier into UU. A period of Dugtrio hype began in which numerous walls, such as Chansey and Registeel, commonly ran Shed Shell, and Roserade and Mismagius were abused to their fullest, as Dugtrio trapped and eliminated almost all of their counters. However, many soon found Dugtrio to be underwhelming and found much more favor with Donphan. It was a solid user of Stealth Rock along with Rapid Spin, thanks to its ability to beat Ghost-types through Assurance, and its great Attack and Defense stats made it a very solid physical tank.
In this period, UU became much more diverse. Substitute / Charge Beam Rotom, perhaps thanks to its growing usage in the Standard tier, gained a lot of popularity. ParaFusion Regigigas was popular for a brief period, although it was soon fazed out as more and more people discovered the merits of Choice Band Kangaskhan. Thanks to Scrappy, there was nothing that could resist both Return and Hammer Arm, so switch-ins were generally based purely on prediction.
Crobat's banning left a huge gap that could not be filled with just one Pokemon. Grass-types, such as Torterra and Leafeon, became much more viable. Roserade jumped all the way to the #1 used Pokemon by the month's end; its Life Orb set was near impossible to switch into. Toxicroak grew in popularity, and Ambipom, formerly dispatched of by Crobat leads, became the most common lead.
The most dominant Pokemon... was Yanmega. The prominence of Donphan made it extremely easy for Yanmega to enter the fray; furthermore, Donphan's aptitude at Rapid Spinning ensured that Stealth Rock was much harder to keep on the field, therefore, preserving Yanmega's health. Choice Specs Yanmega, with a set of Bug Buzz / Air Slash / U-turn / AncientPower, was the undeniably best set; nothing but Chansey and Registeel could effectively counter it, and both of those Pokemon happened to be vulnerable to Dugtrio and U-turn.
The most anti-metagame Pokemon... was Mismagius. Initially, almost everyone used a Calm Mind set, but a set of Shadow Ball / Taunt / Will-O-Wisp / Pain Split became popular, as it was known for decimating most stall teams.
The most prominent team style... was stall. While Crobat's removal meant that stall could not check as much Pokemon as it formerly could, and while Dugtrio and Donphan were hindrances to stall thanks to their trapping and Rapid Spinning abilities, respectively, Yanmega's dominance was difficult to stop with anything but a stall team. One example of stall was "Gladiator Stall", a team of Omastar / Drapion / Scarf Rotom / Chansey / Donphan / Slowking, created by user Twist of Fate. It possessed means of setting up all three types of entry hazards, blocking Rapid Spin, and eliminating opposing entry hazards while still maintaining a relatively solid defensive core.
It was agreed upon that Yanmega was broken; it and Roserade left UU, the latter because of its usage in the Standard tier. Usage stats caused Umbreon to be dropped back into UU - it had been introduced and then removed from UU in a former phase -, along with Rhyperior and Alakazam. Due to a change in tiering policy, Raikou, Froslass, and Gallade were also brought back; a second voting majority would be needed to drive them back out of UU for good.
The beginning of this phase of UU also coincided with another significant event: Pokemon Heart Gold / Soul Silver. With the release of these two games came new move tutors. Nasty Plot Mismagius, Brave Bird Honchkrow, and Head Smash Aggron - "Surely all broken!" as some said. Rhyperior was extremely hyped - with sand, many believed it would be impenetrable.
As this phase of UU began, one thing was immediately apparent: stall was much less viable than in previous phases of UU. Gallade and Honchkrow, two extremely powerful wall-breakers, essentially made sure of that. It was playable, but quite difficult to do so.
Vensuaur became surprisingly much more common; it was almost everywhere, in fact. Water- and Fire-types were commonly paired alongside Venusaur to create a "Water/Fire/Grass" combination, both a solid offensive and defensive core. The most common Fire-type was Arcanine, whose Intimidate and solid Speed and Attack stats were needed to combat the rising threats of Honchkrow, Venusaur, and Gallade.
Only a few hail teams started to pop up during Higher Ground, but in this phase, they experienced somewhat of a comeback. With Froslass back, utilizing a new bulky EV spread and Pain Split, many ran hail in order to abuse its Snow Cloak ability and the ease in which it set up Spikes.
The most dominant Pokemon... was Venusaur. Power Whip was a godsend to Swords Dance Venusaur; it actually caused most Venusaur to switch over to the physical spectrum. Venusaur was quite useful in that it helped check Gallade, Raikou, and Rhyperior, among others. Its usage, despite the ubiquity of Honchkrow, is a testament of how effective it was this phase of UU.
The most threatening sweeper... was Honchkrow. Brave Bird might not have started out as the most discussed HG/SS tutor change, but by the end of this phase of UU, it definitely was. Its new 120 BP STAB Brave Bird ensured that most Pokemon who did not resist it could no longer safely switch into it (primarily Milotic). Two other move options were also opened up to Honchkrow during this phase: Roost and Hidden Power Grass. The former was used in tandem with Brave Bird to avoid dying to recoil damage; the latter was used to easily OHKO Rhyperior and Omastar. Many people agreed that Honchkrow was broken.
The most anti-metagame Pokemon... was Arcanine. Arcanine got a new toy in HG/SS: Morning Sun. With Intimidate and Will-O-Wisp, it was able to act as an effective counter to many physical threats. Its moderate Speed ensured that it outsped threats like Gallade, Honchkrow, and Venusaur and could KO them with a powerful Flare Blitz.
At the end of this phase, it was apparent to most UU players that Honchkrow was broken; however, opinions on the other three suspects, Raikou, Gallade, and Froslass, were somewhat mixed and unclear. And so it remained up until the end, as a secret vote was implemented to ensure the most fairness. At the end, Honchkrow was unanimously declared BL. Gallade was as well, although by a slightly smaller margin. The other two suspects were both voted UU, although this was not a decision without controversy.
We're now at the beginning of yet another phase of UU. Two very significant new Pokemon have been added to the tier: Porygon-Z and Cresselia. Will Porygon-Z sink into obscurity like its pre-evolution? Will Cresselia be the first suspect banned by the Defensive Characteristic? Will UU finally settle down this phase? It's been a long and bumpy road from there to here. Only time will tell when we've reached our final destination, and if you're an avid UU player, you'll sit back and enjoy the ride.
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