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Introduced in GSC, possibly as an answer to the rampant domination of Psychic-types in RBY, it didn't take long for the Dark type to make a splash in the metagame. Backed by powerful attacks such as Crunch, as well as Pokémon in the form of the powerful Tyranitar and impenetrable Umbreon, Dark quickly established itself as a major type. Things slowed down for it slightly in Generation 3, as its placement as a special typing did little other than hinder its primary user, Tyranitar. Pursuit was interesting, but a special attack resisted by many popular physical walls was underwhelming, and the only Dark-type with STAB and solid Special Attack around was the always-mediocre Houndoom.
Thankfully, Generation 4 was right around the corner, and with it came the physical/special split and a new era of Dark-type dominance. Tyranitar could now use a physical Crunch and Pursuit alongside the new Stone Edge, making it the premier Choice Band user of Generation 4. Meanwhile, Umbreon could use its new Payback move in tandem with Curse to become a fearsome attacker as well as an unbreakable wall. Spiritomb arrived on-scene as a Ghost-type not weak to Pursuit, making Rapid Spin blocking easier than ever (at least until Rotom-A showed up). In early DP, Weavile sprinted onto the scene and quickly crushed the opposition with its base 120 Attack and 125 Speed. Dark even got some love in Ubers, as Darkrai made status mitigation even more of a priority with its Dark Void, Bad Dreams, base 125 Speed, and powerful base 135 Special Attack.
Tyranitar is the epitome of Dark-type offense in OU. Its movepool is absolutely enormous, and it has the perfect stat spread to take advantage of said gigantic movepool. With a movepool consisting of Crunch, Pursuit, Payback, Stone Edge / Rock Slide, Earthquake, Focus Punch, the elemental punches, Aqua Tail, and Superpower on the physical side, and Dark Pulse, Fire Blast / Flamethrower, Ice Beam, and Thunderbolt on the special side, Tyranitar has the freedom to mix and match its moves to fit any occasion. It can also boost its stats with Curse, Rock Polish, or Dragon Dance and sweep accordingly, and with base 100 / 110 / 100 (~160 in sandstorm) defenses, it can be a tough nut to crack even without defensive investment. There's pretty much a Tyranitar set for every single occasion, be it sweeping, tanking, or wall breaking, it excels at all of them.
Weavile was popular in early DP due to its excellent speed and power, as well as a typing that gives it fantastic dual STAB. However, it has fallen largely out of favor for a number of reasons. Low Base Power on its STAB attacks means that its damage output is relatively limited, as its most powerful attack is a STAB Ice Punch. It is also quite frail, especially when you take into account a weakness to Stealth Rock and Bullet Punch. HGSS gave it an interesting new toy in the form of Low Kick, which gives it a more powerful option against Tyranitar and Heatran, as well as hitting some heavy Pokémon harder than even its STAB attacks are capable of doing. However, Weavile's use is still rather limited, as its frailty and Stealth Rock weakness does it no favors.
Tyranitar is pretty much the closest thing to a defensive Dark-type that the OU metagame has, and it does a pretty good job at it. Its ability, Sand Stream, combined with its Rock typing, boosts its 100 base Special Defense up to a level somewhere between base 160 (no investment) and base 175 (full investment). Combining that with 100 base HP and 110 base Defense, Tyranitar can easily shrug off neutral or resisted attacks aimed at its rocky exterior. It also has a relatively useful support movepool, including Taunt, Roar, and Stealth Rock.
While Absol may not have Tyranitar's versatility or defensive prowess, it certainly is more than capable of bringing its level of physical destruction to the UU metagame. Its massive 130 base Attack combined with its small yet precise movepool renders it more than capable of breaking through even the sturdiest of UU Pokémon. Its main failing is its mediocre Speed, but even that can be remedied through use of its powerful Sucker Punch. Swords Dance allows it to boost its Attack to incredible levels, allowing it to sweep with a combination of Sucker Punch, Night Slash, Superpower, or Psycho Cut.
Generation 4 was extremely kind to Houndoom, giving it access to Nasty Plot, which gives it all the Special Attack it needs to inflict massive damage on its opponents. Its dual STAB also gives fantastic coverage, making it incredibly difficult to wall effectively. Drapion is also effective, as its 110 base Defense and single weakness makes it one of the most effective bulky attackers in UU. It is also useful for allowing offensive teams to absorb Toxic Spikes without resorting to using Venusaur.
Spiritomb may have fallen from grace in OU since the arrival of Rotom-A, but it finds itself perfectly at home in UU. While its typing affords it a complete lack of weaknesses, it also lacks multiple resistances, which can sometimes be an issue when facing powerful neutral attacks such as Stone Edge and Earthquake. Still, its immunities to Fighting, Normal, and Psychic can be important in a metagame with powerful attackers such as Medicham, Alakazam, Hitmonlee, and others. Calm Mind and Dark Pulse can also create a phenomenon similar to Crocune in OU, where Spiritomb uses its high defensive stats and resistances to set up as much as it wants before either sweeping or stalling out opposing teams. Using Calm Mind in tandem with Will-O-Wisp can also lure in powerful physical attackers which counter normal Calm Mind sets.
Umbreon's 95 / 110 / 130 defenses are outstanding in UU, where it is capable of taking hits for days—even Mismagius' Nasty Plot-boosted Hidden Power Fighting barely dents it, while Umbreon's Payback is a clean OHKO. It also has an outstanding support movepool, including Wish, Heal Bell, Taunt, Roar, Mean Look, and Baton Pass. It can also use Curse with Payback to quickly become nearly indestructible as well as hit like a truck with its Curse-boosted Payback.
Crunch – 80 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – 20% chance to lower Defense by one stage.
Now a physical move, Crunch is Tyranitar's most reliable STAB. It also rounds out the coverage of some non-Dark-type Pokémon, such as Lucario and Hippowdon.
Pursuit – 40 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – If target switches, Pursuit hits the switching target for double the power.
Pursuit is the best way to eliminate troublesome Pokémon such as Latias and Blissey, as these Pokémon are loath to stay in on Tyranitar's raw power. Other Pokémon can use it effectively as well, such as Scizor, Metagross, and Snorlax in OU, and Absol, Drapion, and Spiritomb in UU.
Night Slash – 70 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – High critical hit rate.
While statistically inferior to Crunch, Night Slash is nonetheless used on some Pokémon such as Weavile and Absol, which lack access to Crunch but still look for a reliable STAB move. It is also used without STAB as coverage for some Pokémon, such as Dugtrio and Heracross.
Sucker Punch – 80 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – Always moves first, but fails if opponent uses a non-damaging move or faster priority move.
Another Generation 4 addition, Sucker Punch is a priority move with power on par with ExtremeSpeed. Its excellent distribution and useful coverage can make it a staple on many Pokémon, but it is sometimes easy to set up on due to its inability to hit opponents using non-damaging moves. However, it can be a reliable check to opposing attackers or Choiced Pokémon.
Payback – 50 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – Double the power if user moves second or opponent switches.
While Payback is generally used mostly on Curse-using Pokémon such as Tyranitar and Umbreon, it also finds some limited non-STAB usage on certain Pokémon. Choice Band Gyarados uses it to obliterate many of its common counters on the switch, while Ambipom uses it in conjunction with Technician or on switches to hit Ghost-type Pokémon. Bulky Fighting-types such as Machamp and Hariyama also use it to great effect for the ability to take out Ghost- and Psychic-types with ease.
Knock Off – 20 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – Removes the foe's held item.
While not generally thought of as a "physical attack", Knock Off does do damage and breaks through Taunt, so it indeed counts as an attack. It can be incredibly useful in many circumstances, depriving an opponent of a crucial Choice Band or Scarf at an inopportune moment, or helping to wear down an opposing defensive Pokémon by removing their Leftovers.
Dark Pulse – 80 Base Power – 100% Accuracy – 20% chance to flinch target.
Being the only special Dark-type move, Dark Pulse gets excellent distribution and solid power for any occasion. Used on certain variants of Tyraniboah to hit off of its large Special Attack investment, or as a STAB by Spiritomb and Houndoom. It also sometimes sees use as a coverage move for Pokémon such as special variants of Lucario and Porygon-Z.
Nasty Plot – --% Accuracy – Boosts Special Attack two stages.
While not seen as often as its physical counterpart, Swords Dance, due to the ubiquity of Blissey, Nasty Plot still has the potential to provide astronomical power to special sweepers. Its main use is in UU as a boosting move for Pokémon such as Houndour, Mismagius, and Porygon-Z, though it still sees some rare usage on Azelf in OU.
Memento – 100% Accuracy – Reduces the opponent's Attack and Special Attack 2 stages, but faints user.
When used in tandem with Light Screen and Reflect, Memento can allow even the frailest of Pokémon to set up on even the most vicious of foes. Uxie is the most notable user in any metagame, but there are some others capable of using it effectively, such as Jumpluff or possibly Spiritomb.
Taunt – 100% Accuracy – Prevents the opponent from using non-attacking moves for 2-5 turns.
Taunt is an indispensable move for many a Pokémon, as it can be used for many crucial purposes in the game. Leads can use Taunt to prevent other leads from setting up entry hazards, offensive Pokémon can use it to shut down the recovery of walls such as Skarmory or Blissey, and defensive Pokémon can use it to prevent offensive Pokémon from setting up on them. A move for any occasion, and one of the best.
Since its inclusion in GSC, Dark has been a dominant force in the metagame. And as long as powerful threats such as Tyranitar, Absol, and potentially Zoroark, the mysterious new Pokémon revealed in Generation 5, exist, Dark will remain as dominant as ever.
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