An Introduction to GSC UU

By Diophantine. Released 03/13/2019.
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Art by internet.


The Gold / Silver / Crystal UnderUsed tier may not be the most popular format around, but it sure is interesting nonetheless. Like every other tier, it has its own mechanics, dynamics, and Pokémon that make it unique. GSC UU has historically been played in tournaments such as the Der Domme Cup and the Ruins of Alph Olympics; it has now been played in unofficial tournaments like the recent two hosted by Earthworm and myself and it has been included in the UU Premier League for the first time in 2018. It will also be featured in the UU Classic for the first time this year. Following on from these more recent tournaments, the tier has been developing in terms of playerbase and metagame, which has been particularly interesting.

In this article, I will be talking about the dynamics of the tier, showing off some recent tournament replays, and including some sample teams for you all to get stuck in to this wonderfully niche format.

The Queen and Her Domain

The current GSC UU viability rankings can be found here.


Every tier has centralizing Pokémon, and GSC UU is no exception to this. The empress of this format is Nidoqueen. Historically, Nidoqueen did in UU what her male counterpart Nidoking did in OU: Lovely Kiss things to sleep while providing offensive pressure with Ice / Ground / Electric coverage that allows it to 3HKO every relevant Pokémon in the tier at worst. Over time, however, that has changed - Nidoqueen has been more commonly seen using Fire Blast over Ice Beam and Moonlight over Lovely Kiss. The latter is a result of the philosophy that Nidoqueen applies too much valuable pressure for it to be allowed to be weakened over the course of the battle, while the former is (arguably) better to stop Scyther from sweeping and to make Bellossom think twice about switching in on it, which it could easily do with Ice Beam over Fire Blast. Nidoqueen has a respectable amount of bulk to ensure she takes hits well while dishing them out. Moonlight allows the Nidoqueen user to be more aggressive with certain plays, as you can create opportunities to recover up lost HP later on in the game. However, Lovely Kiss and Moonlight are incompatible with each other, so you're forced to choose between utility and longevity.

Nidoqueen is not without her countermeasures, and so (thankfully) games do not come down to “who can win the Speed tie with their respective Queen." She is still pressured by her type weaknesses and relative lack of Speed and is still able to be paralyzed with Stun Spore. Granbull is both a threat and a worthy adversary to Nidoqueen, as it is able to come in and take advantage of RestTalk with Curse and Return, which Nidoqueen does not want to deal with. There are also several contenders to Nidoqueen's throne. Scyther and Granbull in particular challenge her in the sense that they too force strict restrictions on teambuilding. Granbull can be used to pivot in on Nidoqueen, absorb status, set up, and smack things down, while Scyther can set up and sweep while also Baton Passing stats to other recipients, such as Nidoqueen and Granbull themselves.

Nidoqueen being the best Pokémon in the tier has a huge effect on the metagame, including making Fighting- and most other Poison-types almost completely irrelevant, reducing the effectiveness of Toxic and Thunder Wave on many Pokémon, substantially decreasing the viability of Electric-types, and defining the important Speed tiers of the tier. Following on from that, Nidoqueen's existence in the tier makes Water-types even more viable.

The Different Playstyles in GSC UU

There are several different viable playstyles in GSC UU, none of which seem to be dominant in the metagame. I will talk about the most polarizing styles before talking about the most consistent and common style. The first one I will talk about is one that is quite controversial among players of later generations of Pokémon games: Baton Pass.

Baton Pass involves the player having to find a correct opportunity to set up with one of the Baton Passers and pass a stat (or stats) to a recipient that is ready to plow through an enemy team. It will always have a dedicated (sometimes suicide) lead such as Electrode, with Explosion, Thunder Wave, and dual screens, or Mr. Mime, with Thief, Baton Pass, and the ability to spread sleep or paralysis or apply offensive pressure. Baton Pass teams will then have dedicated Baton Passers. Girafarig is notable for being able to pass Speed and Special Defense, while Scyther can pass Attack and Speed (as well as sweep by itself). Recipients are typically bulky Pokémon that make use of the stats they are passed to walk through teams. Pokémon that fit this criterion include (but are not limited to) Nidoqueen, Quagsire, and Poliwrath. Finally, they will have a filler slot. This will include either a Spikes setter, a status spreader with offensive presence, or an Explosion Pokémon, all of which attempt to weaken the opposing team to facilitate easier sweeps.

Baton Pass is not without its weaknesses, however. The entire playstyle can be shut down by Pokémon carrying Roar or Haze. It is also notably weak to teams based on paralysis and sleep spreading. Admittedly, phazing isn't ubiquitous in UU like it is in OU, but Haze is still a strong option on Qwilfish and the odd Crobat.

Every new player's least favorite playstyle, stall, is also viable in this tier. The presence of Nidoqueen means that Water-types such as Blastoise, Slowking, and Slowbro are less pressured by Electric-types, and so it is not too much of an issue to run more than one Water-type on a stall team (which is a good thing for stall, as there are several good defensive Water-types). Stall teams aim to "not lose" (a common term which means to "lose slower than the opponent"), and so they appreciate utility such as Rapid Spin, found in Blastoise or Graveler, and ways to beat Baton Pass, such as Encore on Jumpluff, which outspeeds a majority of the tier. It will, of course, try to also wall the tier's biggest offensive threats, and so it will have measures for Nidoqueen, Granbull, Ampharos, and so on. Some variants may have a sweeper in the sixth slot to clean up an opposing team once it has been weakened enough.

GSC UU has viable teams that fall between stall and hyper offense on the offense spectrum. The most consistent playstyle in UU is a balanced approach with Nidoqueen, Scyther, Spikes with Qwilfish, one of Slowking or Slowbro, something else relatively bulky, and something more offensive such as Granbull or Electabuzz. Bellossom is also a great choice for slowing down the game, according to Lavos. These teams seem to form the most consistent playstyle of the tier. Spinning in GSC UU is difficult in the long run, so stall is hindered, and the balanced teams generally have various countermeasures for Baton Pass hyper offense.

Tournament Replays

Sample Teams

Closing Words

GSC UU is a tier where each playstyle is pretty balanced with a decent number of viable Pokémon. Nidoqueen's omnipresence does not create too much of a strain to the teambuilder, and it acts more like a Queen in Chess; Nidoqueen Speed ties are not as forced as many would initially think. Polarizing styles such as stall and Baton Pass are not overpowered. It makes a nice break from playing Ultra Sun and Moon tiers. I personally enjoy this tier and hope that, after reading this, you will too. I look forward to playing it in the UU Classic.

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