OU Suspect Coverage: Dynamax

By Finchinator. Released: 2019/11/18.
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Art by tiki

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Ban Announcement Suspect Thread Policy Review Thread Vote Thread

Introduction

Generation 8 introduced a new mechanic to the world of Pokémon, known as Dynamax. While Generation 6 had Mega Evolutions and Generation 7 had Z-Moves, both of these paled in comparison to Dynamax in the competitive arena. Dynamax can be used by any Pokémon at any point during the battle, but only once, and it presents you with three turns where the user's HP is doubled, the power of their offensive moves is increased in most scenarios, and noteworthy secondary effects depending upon the type of the move used each turn. As soon as the new games were released, players made use of Dynamax in countless ways, ranging from uncounterable direct offensive assaults to methodical positioning strategies to take advantage of secondary effects. With that said, a handful of individuals opposed banning Dynamax on a conceptual level due to the generation identifying with it, but ultimately, the prioritization of competitive balance found itself invalidating any arguments for conceptual preservation. Given the massive impact Dynamax had on the competitive landscape of Generation 8 coupled with the potency of a plethora of Dynamax applications, it was no surprise that the council elected to suspect it a few weeks after the release of Generation 8!

Dynamax's Place in the Metagame

Dynamax found its way into every game, be it through trying to sweep, thwart an opposing sweep attempt, or break through a bulky wall or defensive core. The sheer power of the individual Max Moves coupled with the practical impact of secondary effects makes them very strong as is. However, there is also an element of unpredictability that even escalates to guesswork when you factor in the fact that you can Dynamax with any individual Pokémon at any time during the battle. Because of this, a lot of players thought that Dynamax was banworthy and it ultimately became the subject of the first suspect of Generation 8. Let's go through a couple common Pokémon that can benefit from Dynamax and explain how potent they are in the current metagame to put it in perspective!

Gyarados

Gyarados has been one of the biggest offensive Dynamax users since day one. Moxie helps it snowball into sweeping as is, proving to be devastating even without the improvements it gained. Despite this, it gained multiple new toys alongside the release of Generation 8 in Power Whip and the ability to use Heavy-Duty Boots; the former allows Gyarados to hit otherwise problematic Water-types such as Rotom-W, Seismitoad, and Quagsire, whereas the latter increases the longevity of Gyarados due to not having to worry about taking damage from Stealth Rock. While all of this is beneficial, the biggest buff Gyarados received has to be the secondary effect of Max Moves. Bounce is not only turned into a powerful, one-turn Max Airstream, but it also gives Gyarados +1 Speed each time it's used, making it nearly impossible to revenge kill. Waterfall also sets up rain after being used when Dynamaxed as Max Geyser, which makes the following uses even stronger thanks to the rain. For example, a Max Geyser under rain can overwhelm otherwise pesky defensive presences such as Bulk Up Corviknight. With the increased coverage, power, and potential secondary effects coupled with the ridiculous bulk Gyarados has when it gets double the HP, it should be no surprise that Gyarados is a top-tier sweeper thanks to Dynamax.

Dragapult

Unlike Gyarados, Dragapult is a less direct user of Dynamax, using it predominantly to bypass Choice Specs with this set. While there are physical and even mixed variants, the Choice Specs set is the most common, and it highlights a specific type of Dynamax strategy that stands out in particular. Let's say that you send out your Dragapult and use Shadow Ball to try and take out a weakened Pokémon or something weak to it. However, the opponent switches into their Bisharp, Mandibuzz, or Hydreigon, resisting the attack and surviving it comfortably. On the following turn, your Dragapult can Dynamax, bypassing the Choice lock and letting it use a super effective Max Flare, Max Lightning, or Max Wyrmwind in order to take out or significantly damage the believed check to Dragapult. It is also worth noting that Max Flare and Max Lightning get stronger when used consecutively due to setting up sun and Electric Terrain, respectively. There are countless other examples of this working out, too, thanks to the versatile coverage of Dragapult. It is also worth noting that this applies to plenty of other Choice item users as well such as Galarian Darmanitan, which commonly uses this to bypass situational checks. All things considered, bypassing the Choice lock creates an element of unpredictability and versatility that makes threats like Dragapult virtually uncounterable at times.

Clefable

Clefable is a bit different than both Pokémon discussed above. While it does indeed take advantage of the increased power of its moves when Dynamaxed, doing large amounts of damage with versatile coverage, Clefable is perhaps best Dynamaxed in situations where it can be used as a countermeasure to opposing strong Pokémon that are perhaps Dynamaxed as well. For example, Gyarados is a potent user of Dynamax as we outlined above, but one of the ways to check it is through using Clefable and Dynamaxing, letting Clefable survive otherwise deadly boosted attacks and make quick work of Gyarados with Max Lightning. Moreover, Life Orb Clefable has proven to be a top-tier Pokémon in this generation thus far in general, having the coverage to threaten a vast majority of the Pokémon in the tier while also being able to outrun most bulkier threats and take most neutral attacks that are not strongly boosted. It is also worth noting that, much like Dragapult, using moves like Max Flare and Max Lightning consecutively will cause them to be stronger the following time due to setting up sun and Electric Terrain, respectively. Couple this with the ability to take advantage of all of its coverage with increased power and bulk, and it should be no surprise that Life Orb Clefable is a premier Dynamax user.

Closing Thoughts

Dynamax has proven to be a devastating mechanic in the early Generation 8 metagame. It allows Pokémon to be offensively potent and unpredictable, which makes reliable counterplay an impossibility, while also buffing defensive prowess to unprecedented levels. On top of all of this, adding game-changing secondary effects into the mix for each Max Move can lead to games getting out of hand quickly when put in the hands of capable win conditions. All things considered, the playerbase has voiced its opinion and voted accordingly that this mechanic has no place in a competitive metagame moving forward. The qualified voters have voted to ban Dynamax (and Gigantamax) with a strong majority of 87%.

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