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As one of two types introduced in GSC, Steel appears to have been created with a singular goal in mind: defense against a wide array of assaults. Its gigantic pool of TWELVE resistances includes nearly everything under the sun: an immunity to Poison (including Toxic), and resistances to Bug, Grass, Dark, Ghost, Psychic, Rock, Steel, Flying, Ice, Normal, and the only resistance to Dragon in the entire game. This gives Steel an absolutely massive defensive edge over pretty much anything else in the metagame, and Steel alone has more resistances than any two other typings in the entire game. However, equally relevant is what Steel DOESN'T resist. Weaknesses to Fire, Fighting, and the ubiquitous Ground-type assaults in every metagame cause problems for Steel-types on a regular basis, and neutrality to Water and Electric can cause problems as well. Still, Steel dominates as a defensive typing, as long as its teammates can pick up the slack.
In GSC, Steel-types were part of the reason that Stall was so dominant. Skarmory rocked the metagame with its enormous Defense and complete lack of physical weaknesses, and Forretress could Spike with impunity. ADV brought Jirachi, one of the most ubiquitous special sweepers in OU, as well as Metagross, a powerful physical tank/sweeper. However, Steel truly came into its full dominance in Generation 4. Heatran quickly proved itself as a vicious special attacker, beginning as the most prolific Choice Scarf user, before evolving into a common user of Substitute and/or Shuca Berry. Magneton got a much needed evolution: Magnezone, the most effective anti-Steel-type Pokemon ever to come into existence. Meanwhile, the addition of Bullet Punch, a powerful Steel-type priority attack, to Scizor's movepool quickly made it by far the most popular Pokemon in the metagame. Meanwhile, Bronzong showed up, ready, able, and willing to support nearly any type of team in whatever way necessary.
If you're talking offensive Steel-types in OU, look no further than the #1 usage slot in the metagame: Scizor. Its massive 130 base Attack, combined with U-turn and a Technician-boosted Bullet Punch, makes Choice Band Scizor one of the most popular tanks/scouts in the metagame. Its coverage is impeccable, and it fulfills so many roles that it's not even funny. It can revenge kill with Bullet Punch, scout with U-turn, pick off Choiced attackers with Pursuit, or even sweep by using a Life Orb and Swords Dance to boost its power even further. Defensively, it's no slouch either. Its Steel/Bug typing affords it a whopping 9 resistances, while only being hit for super-effective damage by Fire-type moves. 70/100/70 defenses are enough to sponge resisted hits for a remarkably long time, giving it the ability to switch in multiple times over the course of the game and do its job with style. It can even Roost off any damage it suffers, making it tough to eliminate with most standard walls.
However, before Scizor, there was Metagross. Steel/Psychic is one of the best typings in the entire game, with resistances to popular types, including Dragon, Steel, and Rock, while packing a meager 2 weaknesses: Ground and Fire. STAB Meteor Mash backed by 135 base Attack is one of the most powerful unboosted attacks in the entire metagame, and it's even got a 20% chance to boost Metagross's Attack, giving it the ability to smash straight through anything with a little bit of luck. It also boasts excellent type coverage from its secondary moves, with Earthquake, ThunderPunch, Ice Punch, STAB Zen Headbutt, and even Explosion for a parting gift. Agility combined with its base 80 Speed makes it a fearsome sweeper as well, terrorizing the majority of offensive teams with its combination of bulk, speed, and power.
Lucario's unique Steel/Fighting typing makes it easy for it to switch in on Rock and Dark-type attacks, and with a single turn of setup, Lucario becomes one of the most feared sweepers in the OU metagame. STAB Close Combat boosted by Life Orb and Swords Dance is capable of punching through nearly anything that doesn't resist it, including such defensive behemoths as Skarmory and Forretress. ExtremeSpeed's powerful priority allows Lucario to pick off faster foes such as Latias and Zapdos. Its secondary coverage moves include Stone Edge, Ice Punch, and Crunch, each with a notable use that makes Lucario incredibly difficult to counter.
Jirachi was quite the "superstar" of the third generation, and it only improved with the leap to Generation 4. With the same great typing as Metagross, it's easily capable of switching in on a variety of attacks. Once it's in, Jirachi is one of the most versatile offensive Pokemon in the metagame. With a physical set, Jirachi can utilize a Serene Grace-boosted Iron Head to bust through enemies, while only affording them a 40% chance to fight back every turn. It also has access to all three elemental Punches, letting it hit top threats such as Scizor, Gyarados, and Salamence for 4x super-effective damage. It can Trick a Choice Scarf onto any walls that would attempt to stop it, essentially crippling them, and even without its Choice Scarf, its base 100 Speed is enough to outpace many threats and finish them off. Jirachi is also well-known for its special sets, and it is more than capable of sweeping teams with either a defensive Substitute + Calm Mind set or with an offensive Calm Mind + 3 Attacks set, colloquially known as Superachi.
Heatran may lack the versatility of the two above Pokemon, but it makes up for it in spades with its vicious Fire Blast coming off of 130 base Special Attack. Steel/Fire typing gives it important resistances to Dragon, Steel, and Bug, while its Flash Fire ability grants it both an immunity to Fire-type attacks AND a massive boost to its already powerful Fire-type STAB attacks. Earth Power, Dragon Pulse, and Hidden Power round out Heatran's coverage, and Explosion can take out overeager Blissey looking to wall Heatran's special attacks. 77 base Speed is also plenty to make Heatran an effective Choice Scarf user, and its massive power and coverage makes it easy to check a number of top threats.
While Magnezone may be underutilized in the OU metagame, its mere presence is enough to send shivers down the spines of Steel-types everywhere. Magnet Pull allows Magnezone to trap Steel-types in play, and its 130 base Special Attack lets Magnezone dispose of them with ease. Resistances to a whopping 13 types makes it simple for Magnezone to take advantage of a Choiced Steel-type, especially alongside its solid 70 / 115 / 90 defenses. While Magnezone may be lacking in coverage, it really only needs four moves to do its job: Thunderbolt, Hidden Power, Explosion, and Substitute.
Empoleon has damn near the perfect stats and movepool to take advantage of its fantastic ability, Torrent. After an Agility boost, Empoleon reaches a whopping 438 Speed with Modest and 480 with Timid, enough to outspeed all non-scarfed Pokemon in the metagame. After the Petaya boost and Torrent, Empoleon's Surf hits with the power of SpecsMence's Draco Meteor, just to put it in perspective. It can choose from Ice Beam or Grass Knot to complete its coverage, and both are equally effective at taking out common Water resistors. On top of that, Empoleon packs a 2x resistance to ExtremeSpeed and 4x resistances to both Ice Shard AND Bullet Punch, meaning that not even priority attacks can stop its rampage.
As half of the ever-potent SkarmBliss combination, Skarmory is easily one of the best walls in the OU metagame. 65 / 140 / 70 defenses are fantastic, and 8 resistances with 2 immunities makes it easy for Skarmory to switch in and either Spike or phaze with impunity. It can run a fully defensive set to handle physical threats more effectively, but recently there has been a trend toward usage of sets focusing on Special Defense, which easily provide Spikes support for offensive teams due to its excellent mixed defenses and resistance. When it needs to attack, Skarmory can turn to STAB Drill Peck or Brave Bird to inflict damage on foes. Meanwhile, Taunt can allow Skarmory to be especially effective against stall teams as well as offensive teams. Roost is also key to Skarmory's effectiveness, as it can turn its Rock neutrality into a resistance, as well as healing Skarmory for 50% of its max HP.
While Forretress lacks Skarmory's ability to heal with Roost, it makes up for it in a number of ways. Access to Rapid Spin makes Forretress a great way to remove entry hazards from your side of the field, and Payback allows it to hit most common Rapid Spin blockers in the metagame hard. It also has access to Toxic Spikes, which are extremely effective in OU against a number of walls, such as Blissey, Vaporeon, and Celebi.
Bronzong, Metagross, and Jirachi are all effective Steel/Psychic Pokemon, and each brings with it a unique advantage. Bronzong has the largest support movepool of the three, and its Levitate ability removes one of its two weaknesses. However, it is offensively the weakest of the three, and its guttertrash speed often causes problems. Metagross is offensively the most powerful, and has the highest physical defense of the three, but has an extremely meager support movepool and is best off using a simple Rest + Sleep Talk set. Finally, Jirachi has Wish, which allows it to heal itself and others, and is extremely effective at spreading Paralysis throughout enemy teams. However, as a defensive Pokemon it's mostly useless against Ground-types, which allows them to switch in with impunity and threaten Jirachi.
With all the effective Steel-types in OU, you're hard-pressed to find even one that manages to make it down to UU. However, Aggron stands out as a vicious attacker in UU. Rock/Steel typing isn't the greatest, as it packs notable 4x weaknesses to Ground and Fighting, as well as a number of 2x weaknesses, but its incredible 180 base Defense allows it to come in on most neutral physical attacks with ease. When it comes to attacking, however, it's damn near second to none. Aggron has access to the powerful Head Smash, a STAB 150 Base Power physical Rock-type attack, and coming off of Aggron's 110 base Attack, it's more than capable of punching massive holes in anything that tries to switch in. Better yet, since Aggron has the Rock Head ability, Head Smash's huge recoil is negated. Earthquake, Iron Head, Ice Punch, and Aqua Tail round out Aggron's coverage nicely, and Choice Band Aggron is a force to be reckoned with. Aggron can even run a Rock Polish set and attempt a sweep.
Registeel's pure Steel typing and 80 / 150 / 150 defenses make it one tough cookie in the UU metagame. Registeel sponges attacks for days, and can easily provide support for a team with Stealth Rock and Thunder Wave. Seismic Toss can provide it with reliable damage output, while Earthquake, Iron Head, Ice Punch, and Shadow Claw can also be used for coverage. For a more offensive set, Registeel can also use Curse to boost its excellent Defense and mediocre Attack before sweeping with Iron Head, and after a Curse or two, Registeel is nearly impenetrable.
While Steelix lacks Registeel's special defensive abilities, it more than makes up for it with its massive 200 base Defense, 85 Attack, and secondary Ground typing. STAB Earthquake makes it much easier for Steelix to hit back, and it also grants it an incredibly useful immunity to Electric. Gyro Ball also works well with Steelix's low Speed to provide it with a potentially 150 Base Power STAB attack. Steelix lacks Thunder Wave, but it has the ever-useful Roar to scout, phaze, and shuffle an opponent's Pokemon around as much as it wants.
Bullet Punch - 40 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - +1 Priority
This is the move that put Scizor on the map. While best put to use with Scizor and its Technician boost, many Pokemon are capable of using this move effectively, including Metagross, Machamp, and the odd Lucario.
Iron Head - 80 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - 30% chance to Flinch target
By far, this move is Jirachi's biggest pickup from the 4th Generation. With a whopping 60% chance to stop the opponent from acting, Iron Head is one of the biggest reasons that Jirachi is so hated by new players and veterans alike.
Meteor Mash - 100 Base Power - 85% Accuracy - 20% chance to increase Attack by one stage
While its distribution may be extremely subpar, there's no question that Meteor Mash is part of why Metagross is such a force in OU. Its 100 Base Power is massive coming off of Metagross' 135 base Attack, and its secondary effect is one of the most potent ones in the entire metagame. One proc can turn a fight around, and turn a counter or check into just another foe to barrel through.
Gyro Ball - Variable Base Power - 100% Accuracy - Power based on target Speed / user Speed
Gyro Ball is an interesting attack. It has excellent distribution, but it's available mainly to Pokemon like Electrode, who wouldn't even dream of touching the move. Still, Gyro Ball is incredibly useful for Pokemon such as Bronzong and Steelix, whose extremely low base Speed stats make Gyro Ball's power skyrocket.
Flash Cannon - 80 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - 10% chance to lower Special Defense by one stage
While Flash Cannon previously saw very little use, it is now acknowledged as one of Jirachi's most potent STAB options for a Substitute + Calm Mind set. Its ability to hit opponents such as Latias for neutral damage makes it the most viable option in today's metagame, and it also makes for a stinging surprise when Tyranitar switches in.
Metal Sound - --% Accuracy - Lowers target's Special Defense 2 stages
While Metal Sound may seem gimmicky, it has a number of uses in the current metagame. First, when used on Pokemon such as Heatran, it has the tendency to force switches extremely often. Second, it gives Heatran the ability to 2HKO Blissey with Fire Blast or OHKO Choice Band Tyranitar with Earth Power, among other notable contributions.
In nearly every way, the Steel type has completely shaped the metagame as we know it in its current iteration. Its raw defensive power, combined with the sheer volume of top-notch Steel-types in the OU metagame, means that it's not only likely but recommended to double up on Steel-types above all else, weaknesses be damned.
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