Spiking up the Field—Hazard Control in Ubers

By Dominatio. Art by LifeisDANK.
« Previous Article Home Next Article »
Hazard Control in Ubers


Ever since the introduction of Stealth Rock in DPP, which not only affected all Pokémon, regardless of typing, unlike Spikes, but also did damage based on whether they were weak to or resisted Rock, hazard control has been an integral part in the development of the Ubers metagame. This was made even more necessary when, with the advent of ORAS, it became apparent that Ho-Oh and Lugia, both ranked high in terms of viability, could not perform their duties without adequate hazard removal, due to Ho-Oh's 4x weakness to Stealth Rock and Lugia's ability Multiscale being key for its immense walling capabilities. Furthermore, Stealth Rock has been very easy to set ever since it was introduced, as common setters such as Dialga and Groudon could switch into a multitude of attacks. At the same time, it was difficult to remove due to the loss in momentum it usually constituted to spin them away. This contributed to an even more pronounced rise in the use of Rapid Spinners, such as Forretress and Kabutops, and, consecutively, spinblockers such as Giratina and its Origin forme.

This change persisted through BW, with both spinners and Ghost-types gaining more prominence, especially Arceus-Ghost. Now viable in an official meta, it quickly shot up the viability rankings due to how well hazards pressured Arceus formes and its resulting effectiveness at keeping them on the field, easily walling most spinners. A notable change during this generation was the introduction of Magic Bounce, which gave Pokémon such as Espeon and Xatu some degree of viability. However, there was still no reliable way to remove hazards, as many spinblockers could freely switch into a predicted Rapid Spin, and Magic Bouncers were frail and easily predictable. This set the stage for XY/ORAS, and the introduction of more reliable ways to manage hazards, notably Defog's new ability to remove them on both sides of the field. This article will explore how entry hazards are used, strategies for hazard control, and how they have impacted playstyles and builds in the current metagame.

A Brief Overview of Hazards in Ubers

Stealth Rock

Present on every competitive team, helping achieve key KOs such as the OHKO on Lugia with Xerneas's +2 Moonblast and the 2HKO on Primal Kyogre with Primal Groudon's Precipice Blades. Common users include Primal Groudon, Deoxys-S, Excadrill, Dialga, Tyranitar, and Mega Diancie. Excadrill is especially notable for its ability to get up Stealth Rock without fearing Magic Bounce due to its ability Mold Breaker.


Common on bulky offense and stall and used in conjunction with a semi-reliable Rocks setter to form a Spikes-stacking core. Common users include Deoxys-S, Klefki, Skarmory, and Ferrothorn.

Toxic Spikes

Mostly seen on hyper offense builds, although some bulkier builds utilize Tentacruel to set them. Commonly seen paired with Fake Out users and other Pokémon that take advantage of the chip damage, such as Arceus-Ground, which can also put pressure on Steel-types. Hex users, such as Giratina-O and Mega Gengar, also appreciate the ability to come in and spam boosted Hexes with Toxic Spikes up. Setters include Cloyster, Greninja, Scolipede, and Tentacruel, the former three of which are suicide leads.

Sticky Web

Also exclusive to hyper offense, typically paired with relatively slow, hard-hitting wallbreakers and cleaners, which appreciate its ability to slow down faster teams. Being rare, the only viable users are Smeargle and the uncommon Shuckle. However, Webs are often considered unreliable and in some cases, unviable, due to the passiveness of Sticky Web setters, their inability to affect non-grounded Pokémon, and the ease with which they can be removed.

Methods of Hazard Control

The most common form of hazard control in the tier is Defog, since it is learnt by the highest number of viable Pokémon and is thus very easy to fit on teams; notable users include the Lati twins, Giratina-O, bulky Mega Salamence, and most support Arceus formes, the most common including Arceus-Water, Arceus-Dragon, Arceus-Rock, Arceus-Ground, and Arceus-Ghost. Key traits that define good Defoggers include the ability to take on Primal Groudon, the most common hazard setter in the tier, one-on-one. As a result, most, if not all, Defoggers have a type advantage over it and can switch in relatively freely. However, some have to be wary of phazing moves such as Dragon Tail or status from moves such as Thunder Wave, Toxic, and Lava Plume. As a result, it can sometimes come down to a prediction of whether to Defog, status the foe, or attack. Generally it is safest to just Defog, since the opponent will usually have a switch-in capable of forcing the Defogger out; however, sometimes it is more advantageous to put the opposing Pokémon on a timer, especially if your team is not really affected by the hazard. This type of hazard control is most popular on bulky offense and stall builds, and it is often paired with a Magic Bounce user on stall to form a hard-to-break core, as the Magic Bounce user will make the opponent always think twice about getting up hazards, while the Defog user provides insurance.

Rapid Spin is the second most common form of hazard control, with users such as Excadrill, Cloyster, Tentacruel, Forretress, and Smeargle commonly performing this role. Since nearly all Rapid Spinners are used as suicide leads (Excadrill can utilize a Sand Rush sweeper set as well, and Tentacruel finds use on bulky offense and stall), Rapid Spin is mostly found on offense, unlike in lower tiers, and is typically the only method of hazard removal for such teams. On occasion, spinners may be preserved to spin later for a team member, especially if the opponent has a Pokémon that can repeatedly set up rocks and no spinblocker, though on offense it is most practical to set one's own hazards and proceed to spam Rapid Spin or status until being KOed. The two most common spinners, Excadrill and Cloyster, are notable for their ability to deal with spinblockers via Mold Breaker Toxic and Shell Smash-boosted attacks, respectively.

Taunt is used by some Pokémon, notably Deoxys-S and Mewtwo's Mega formes on offense and Yveltal on balance or bulky offense, to prevent opponents from getting up hazards in the first place. Mega Gengar can also perform this role, but its popularity as a Taunt user has greatly diminished. However, it is often more practical to go straight for an attack, especially if Taunt may be obvious, since many Taunt users are incapable of taking hits from powerful attackers in the tier. For instance, it is more common for Mewtwo to fire off an attack rather than Taunt, unless the opposing Pokémon does not pose a threat, such as Ferrothorn. In the current meta, Taunt is more commonly used to stop Defog rather than hazards from going up.

While only used by two Pokémon in ORAS, Mega Sableye and Mega Diancie, Magic Bounce is still among the most common methods of hazard control. The mere presence of a Magic Bouncer makes the opponent think twice before setting hazards, which often comes down to 50/50s when facing Skill Swap users. This is especially prominent when against hyper offense, as whichever side gets the prediction right will have an instant and often irreversible advantage due to the pressure offensive Pokémon such as Darkrai put on Defoggers and, vice versa, the way hazards quickly wear down offensive builds.

The least common hazard control strategy, Magic Coat is popular on some builds for its surprise factor and ability to prevent your opponent from getting up hazards while getting up "your own" simultaneously. Working similarly to Magic Bounce while taking up a moveslot, Magic Coat is popular on many lead Deoxys formes, since it can also reflect status moves such as Thunder Wave and Taunt back at the foe. Some other Pokémon that use this effective yet gimmicky set include lead and bulky Arceus formes, as well as Lugia; however, it is far from the most viable set on these Pokémon.

Impacts on Teambuilding

Due to the importance of hazards in the tier, sometimes whole games can be decided by how well a team manages to play around them. Several top-tier Pokémon, such as Lugia and Ho-Oh, require hazard control to perform their duties, such as checking Fairy-types and physical attackers, adequately. As a result, it is not uncommon for such teams to utilize dual hazard control, which commonly takes the form of a Magic Bouncer paired with a Defogger, a strategy most commonly seen on stall. On more offensive teams using Ho-Oh, Mega Diancie is typically used as the Magic Bouncer while Latios or Latias takes on the role of the Defogger due to them having good offensive synergy in checking bulky Arceus formes and defensive synergy by taking Water- and Electric-type attacks for Ho-Oh. On more defensive teams the Magic Bouncer is Mega Sableye a vast majority of the time due to its increased longevity and ability to switch into Klefki and Ferrothorn, two Pokémon that give Lugia, more common in such playstyles, migraines. A Magic Bouncer acts as a deterrent for hazards, which in itself has forced Stealth Rockers that cannot touch Mega Sableye, such as Deoxys-S and Bronzong, to run Skill Swap. At the same time, a Defogger acts as backup, since some hazard setters, notably Primal Groudon and Excadrill, can force Magic Bouncers out. However, this is used on some bulky offense builds as well, although in such cases the Magic Bounce user is Mega Diancie over Mega Sableye to provide more offensive pressure.

Even on hyper offense, there is generally an indirect method of hazard control, which often takes the form of Taunt or Magic Coat. However, as this either takes up a valuable moveslot or kills offensive momentum, anti-hazard support on such archetypes is most common on suicide leads. Furthermore, as more emphasis is put on keeping one's own hazards up to pressure the opponent to remove them, Defog especially is relatively unpopular on offense.

It's rare for Defoggers to be paired with other Defoggers, since this wastes an additional moveslot and creates a redundancy, with most of them serving similar purposes, such as checking Primal Groudon and most physical attackers. However, teams will often have more than one potential Defogger, making it more difficult for the opponent to predict sets and freeing up one of them to run a more offensive set or one with more utility. For example, a team could have Arceus-Water paired with Latios, the former checking physical attackers and the latter taking on Primal Kyogre. One option would be to run Defog on Latios, freeing up one of Arceus's moveslots to run a secondary attack, such as Judgment or Ice Beam, or another status move such as Will-O-Wisp to deal better with offensive Arceus formes. Alternatively, Arceus could run Defog, allowing Latios to run a more offensive 4 attacks set with Grass Knot and Hidden Power Fire alongside its dual STAB moves, or a Calm Mind late-game sweeper set.

Part of the reason why hazard control is so widely used and important in Ubers is the ability of many Defoggers, Rapid Spinners, and Magic Bounce users to perform multiple roles, allowing more freedom when choosing teammates. For instance, Latios, a common Defogger, also takes on bulky Arceus formes and Kyogre, allowing it to switch in and safely Defog. The same is true for Giratina-O, which Primal Groudon, the most common Pokémon in the tier, finds difficult to harm without a Dragon move. Similarly, Arceus-Water is able to check non-Swords Dance Primal Groudon, Ho-Oh, and Mega Salamence, in addition to being a reliable Defogger. Spinners, while not serving much of a purpose after the first few turns, are able to set their own hazards and potentially cripple the opposing team. Cloyster is able to set Toxic Spikes and has Shell Smash to break through offensive leads such as Mega Diancie and bulkier Ghost-types like Giratina-O, and Excadrill can cripple defensive walls with Toxic, while Smeargle is notable for its access to Sticky Web, Dark Void, and Nuzzle, all of which severely limit offensive teams.

However, hazard setters aren't just going to stand there and let their hard-fought-for hazards, which often take one or more smart switches and are payed for with a bit of HP, go to waste in just one turn. As a result, many hazard setters now have ways to punish Defoggers, spinners, and even Taunt users. A while previously, the only common sets on Primal Groudon were support and Double Dance. ParaDancer is becoming more popular now, however, for its ability to break many defensive cores and beat most support Arceus formes one-on-one, which alone is sometimes enough to ruin a team's hazard control game. Another set that performs similarly is Jolly Swords Dance with Stealth Rock, which allows Primal Groudon to double as a hazard setter and stallbreaker; with max Speed investment it's able to outspeed most support Arceus formes. Klefki's popularity goes beyond its ability to check Darkrai and cripple Geomancy Xerneas—it can also check or cripple a majority of Defoggers. Similarly, Facade Mega Salamence experienced a rise in usage for its ability to 2HKO support Arceus formes on the switch with a move more powerful than Double-Edge and without recoil, having the ability to absorb status and hit back even harder, 2HKOing or OHKOing most Defoggers and spinners.


How a team chooses to incorporate hazard control is an integral part of how it is used, and many builds without adequate hazard management find themselves at a disadvantage from turn 1. Not all teams require hazard control, but those without a Pokémon resistant to Rock or with a Rock weakness are obligated to carry at least one way of preventing hazards, with varying methods being possible. Next time, when building a team or playing the tier, be sure to keep in mind how well your opponent's hazard removal game is, as playing accordingly around this will turn the tide of battles in a tier dominated by hard-hitting attackers and bulky tanks dependent on reliable hazard management.

« Previous Article Home Next Article »