Monotype Suspect Coverage: Hoopa-U (again)

By scpinion and Dream Eater Gengar . Art by FellFromtheSky.
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Art by FellFromtheSky

Ever since Hoopa-U was introduced, it has been a huge threat in the Monotype metagame. For those of you unfamiliar with Monotype, it is an Other Metagame where everyone is required to use a team of Pokémon that share a type (i.e., teambuilds similar to those of Gym Leaders and Elite Four members from the cartridge games). The Monotype council originally suspect tested Hoopa-U at the beginning of March 2016. However, with only 50% of the voters supporting a ban, failing to meet the required 60% supermajority, the community deemed it was not broken in the first suspect test. Over the next five months, the Monotype metagame shifted. Mega Sableye was banned, and the manner in which Hoopa-U was used on Psychic teams evolved.

For instance, at the time of the original suspect test, the most common Hoopa-U sets were a Choice Scarf variant, which acted as a reliable revenge killer or late-game cleaner, or a Leftovers/Life Orb set, which leveraged Hoopa-U's massive Attack and Special Attack stats to serve as a mixed attacking wallbreaker. More specifically, under 30% of Hoopa-U on Psychic teams used a damage-boosting item: about 10% used Choice Band and under 1% used Choice Specs while the rest were Life Orb sets.

The July 2016 usage stats really showed how Hoopa-U had evolved. More than half the Hoopa-U on Psychic teams used damage-boosting items, while a Choice Specs set, arguably the most threatening set, accounted for about 15% of the usage. Hoopa-U had become unpredictable, and the shift away from sets dedicated to checking specific types (e.g. "steel-breaker" Hoopa-U) made it very difficult to reliably check. Thus, the Monotype council decided to give the community another opportunity to vote on Hoopa-U.

No Ban Argument

The no ban arguments were based on two factors: 1) Hoopa-U wasn't really unpredictable or unhealthy, and 2) banning it would subtract more than it would add to the overall Monotype metagame.

While having good coverage options and great stats, Hoopa-U could be deemed predictable. Dark-type teams only used a Choice Scarf with a specific moveset to mitigate their weaknesses to a lot of types, especially Fighting-, Fairy-, and Water-type teams. On the other hand, on Psychic-type teams the sets were predictable depending on the teammates; an example would be, if the team had Mega Medicham, Hoopa-U wouldn't be running Choice Band, or if the team had Mega Gardevoir, it wouldn't run Choice Specs. And to confirm that, as soon as you saw a move, you could already know which set it was running.

Hoopa-U that didn't make use of a mixed attacking set were almost always Choice Scarf, until the sudden rise of Choice Specs. These various sets were labeled as predictable and not broken by the no ban side due to Monotype's offensive nature. Every set had an opportunity cost associated with running it. You could easily tell which set was ran by Hoopa-U after a turn and play accordingly. The Choice Scarf set required predictions from both sides, but if the opponent predicted correctly it suddenly became a momentum drain. Sets that decided to forego a Choice Scarf were easily revenge killed due to Hoopa-U's mediocre Speed and Defense. Furthermore, the Choice Scarf set was really weak and wasn't going to break any walls at all, which was definitely not broken when combined with its mediocre Speed and bulk, yet it was the set to go for Dark-type teams for several reasons such as checking Fighting-type Pokémon. This prevented Hoopa-U from being a low-risk, high-reward Pokémon and, instead, made it a balanced Pokémon. Furthermore, Hoopa-U as a wallbreaker played its role perfectly and wasn't deemed beyond destructive, similar to a lot of Pokémon in the metagame such as Mega Medicham, Landorus, and Mega Gardevoir that are incredibly hard to check for defensive builds, making Hoopa-U hardly unique or overpowered.

Additionally, they concluded that Hoopa-U alone wasn't the problem. It was only an amazing Pokémon in the metagame due to its exceptional team support helping it. For Psychic-type teams the help from Slowbro, Jirachi, or Mew as a defensive backbone was the solution to any attack that was directed towards Hoopa-U. Choice Scarf Victini could force a switch and regain momentum with U-turn bringing in Hoopa-U safely on the field. But when looking at Dark, where such fantastic team support seemed missing, Hoopa-U was seen to be incapable of having the impact it did on Psychic. Therefore, Hoopa-U was not the problem.

The other point the no ban side made took into consideration the future of Monotype. A key element of the Monotype tiering philosophy is: "Does this change add to or subtract from the overall metagame?" They argued that removing Hoopa-U wouldn't add anything to the metagame. First, Hoopa-U didn't threaten any type directly; removing it would not really alter the usage of lower-tier types and diversify the metagame. Second, removing Hoopa-U would do little to nerf Psychic-type teams, which were one of the most powerful types in the metagame. Psychic-type teams would remain among the most threatening team archetypes because they could easily find a replacement from the wide pool of Pokémon that carry a Psychic typing, which was proven on the suspect ladder, where Hoopa-U wasn't allowed. Many teams did in fact replace Hoopa-U with Meloetta, which is also a strong wallbreaker with an advantage against Ghost-types, and even teams that contained Gothitelle surfaced and dominated other teams.

Meanwhile, removing Hoopa-U from Dark-type teams would hit them hard, since it was a crucial Pokémon to the type. Hoopa-U allowed Dark teams to check various threats that otherwise easily punched holes in the team, such as Keldeo, Manaphy, and Landorus. It also helped them to keep Fairy- and Fighting-type teams in check while balancing the matchup versus Water-, Fire-, and Psychic-type teams.

Overall, the no ban side believed banning Hoopa-U would significantly nerf Dark-type teams while providing minimal benefits to the other 17 types. They challenged the suspect voters by asking: "Do we really want to erase a whole type just for the sake of banning a powerful, yet not unhealthy, Pokémon?"

Ban Argument

Those in favor of a ban on Hoopa-U primarily focused on its attacking power, how the metagame could actually respond to that attacking power in practice, and how its sets had evolved since the original suspect. Also, in response to the no ban side's argument about the prevalence and importance of Choice Scarf Hoopa-U on Dark-type teams, they discussed how its role on Dark-type teams would likely evolve in a manner similar to how it evolved on Psychic-type teams as players continued to explore Dark-type builds without Mega Sableye.

Hoopa-U's Offensive Capabilities

As mentioned in the introduction to this article, there was a noticeable shift in how Hoopa-U was utilized in the Monotype metagame. Most notably, the usage of Choice Specs Hoopa-U, a set capable of 2HKOing the entire metagame, was on the rise. The Choice Specs set was commonly paired with Mega Medicham on Psychic teams to form an attacking core capable of destroying almost every defensive core in the metagame.

While the Choice Specs set was increasing in usage, it still only accounted for about 15% of the Hoopa-U sets on Psychic teams. At the top end of competitive play, mixed attacking sets, which often featured moves similar to the Choice Specs set, accounted for about another 60% of usage, Choice Band sets were at about 5%, and Choice Scarf sets came in at about 10% on Psychic teams. Not only was it the most fearsome wallbreaker in the metagame, Hoopa-U had also become unpredictable.

Moreover, the immense team support afforded by its teammates on a Psychic-type team made scouting Hoopa-U's set very challenging—players often had to get the prediction right on Hoopa-U's first switch in to keep them from losing to another member of the Psychic-type team.

However, the no ban side often disagreed with the sentiment that Hoopa-U was unpredictable. To counter, those in favor of a ban noted that most teams did not have reliable means of dealing with the damage Hoopa-U could inflict—even if you knew the set, a Choice Specs or Choice Band set was still going to split your team open. This made Hoopa-U fundamentally different from other wallbreakers. Every other wallbreaker in the metagame had at least a few counters that were guaranteed to switch into them every single time, while Hoopa-U didn't even have a semi-reliable switch-in. That distinction made Hoopa-U broken.

Hoopa-U's Evolving Role on Dark-type Teams

Despite Hoopa-U's ability to consistently break opposing teams when on a Psychic-type team, its role on Dark-type teams was often cited as keeping it in check in the overall metagame. Those supporting a ban argued that the things that made Hoopa-U broken on Psychic-type teams were equally applicable to Dark teams. It had the same stats, same movepool, same items, etc. The only difference was Dark-type teams had historically preferred Choice Scarf sets to give them a check to SubCM Keldeo, Fighting-types, and Fairy-types.

However, with Mega Sableye's recent ban, Hoopa-U probably was not the best option for checking those threats anymore. For instance, SubCM Keldeo usage was on the decline because it wasn't needed to check Mega Sableye. Mega Sableye's ban also removed Dark-type teams' only reliable switch-in to the common Choice Scarf users on Fighting-type teams: Terrakion and Heracross. Choice Scarf Hoopa-U does nothing to check those two because it is always slower and can't take a hit from their STAB attacks. Moreover, Choice Scarf Hoopa-U's Gunk Shot is unable to OHKO Clefable and the set is completely walled by Klefki, making it a poor check to Fairy-type teams.

Those supporting a ban felt the Choice Scarf Hoopa-U sets were a relic from a metagame that prominently featured Mega Sableye on almost every Dark-type team. The metagame, specifically Dark-type teams, just had not fully adapted to the removal of Mega Sableye. The faster, more offensive Mega Evolutions that Dark-type teams had just started exploring, such as Sharpedo, would much prefer a Hoopa-U set that could wallbreak, and those wallbreaking sets were known to bend the metagame to its knees when used properly.


Once all the votes were tallied, 56% of the Monotype suspect voters wanted Hoopa-U banned, which was below the 60% required to implement a change. For the second—and likely the final—time, the Monotype community decided that Hoopa-U was not too strong for the metagame to adapt to.

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