PU Beta Recap

By Haund and Anty.
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Art by LifeisDANK.

Introduction: PU Alpha

PU, while being only the second most recent tier to become an official metagame, has a rich history of metagame trends and evolution. Just in ORAS, the banning of Pokemon such as Machoke and Quagsire shifted metagame preferences rather significantly after they had shaped the tier for a long time; in SM, the potential arrival of the majority of the newly released Pokemon and the probable drop of powerful threats from NU was building up major change from one generation to another. And so it turned out; kings of ORAS such as Golem and Stoutland left room for newcomers such as Mesprit, Guzzlord, and Aurorus.

PU Alpha was arguably a fairly unbalanced metagame. Malamar was dominating the tier thanks to all of its three sets (specially defensive RestTalk, Z-Celebrate, and Choice Scarf) being able to dismantle teams even without support. The main problem was, however, that it had exactly the support available that it needed, and it was easily put into practice as well. Aurorus, running a simple Focus Sash set, was able not only to summon hail thanks to its Snow Warning ability but also to reliably set up Stealth Rock and hopefully use an attack as well. From there, Alolan Sandslash could use Aurora Veil to boost its team’s defenses, which was easily doable thanks to the doubled Speed from hail and solid bulk. As the last step, a setup sweeper such as Malamar, Barbaracle, and Turtonator could come in, set up thanks to Aurora Veil, and proceed to either sweep or heavily weaken the opposing team for a cleaner to finish the job later on.

However, Aurora Veil builds were not the only ones that stood out as top-tier threats in Alpha. As we will see later, Gallade and Sawk were considered extremely strong, borderline broken, for the tier. Scyther was the best Choice Scarf user Alpha had to offer while also being able to run a bulky Swords Dance set to great success even considering its crippling 4x weakness to Stealth Rock; Klinklang was able to win games by itself thanks to a combination of great bulk, decent typing, and Substitute; Typhlosion's Choice Scarf and Choice Specs sets were tearing unprepared teams apart with their Eruptions; Vileplume and Qwilfish were excellent Poison-types that were needed to keep in check the many Fighting-types that ran rampant; Silvally’s versatility confused every opponent that faced it.

Entering Beta: First Council Vote

Gallade Sawk Vivillon Klinklang

Going into Beta, Aurorus, Alolan Sandslash, Malamar, Typhlosion, Qwilfish, Mesprit, Vileplume, and Cinccino all rose to NU, while Komala, Absol, and Vivillon all dropped down to PU. This really turned the tier on its head, as in addition to losing three broken threats (Typhlosion, Malamar, and Aurora Veil), PU lost some of its defensive staples, including three of the best Fighting-resistant Pokemon. Sawk was immediately quickbanned, as its strength and coverage allowed it to 2HKO everything aside from Musharna, and even in Alpha when it had more checks, Sawk was considered broken. Also, its ability Sturdy allowed it to claim at least one KO even in what would be otherwise poor matchups. Even with this ban, the tier was still unstable, especially with the large number of setup sweepers running free, such as Vivillon, Klinklang, Lilligant, Barbaracle, and Charizard, which shared few checks with one another.

Gallade was a very controversial Pokemon during PU Alpha, and many thought it should have been quickbanned with Sawk. Its Attack stat combined with Swords Dance and perfect coverage between its dual STAB and Knock Off could easily destroy bulkier teams that lacked Musharna or Sableye, and even the former could get KOed if Gallade ran a Z-Move. Though it could be more comfortably dealt with offensively due to its low Defense, Gallade could still find opportunities to get KOs against specially offensive Pokemon, and Substitute or Bulk Up sets could get past revenge killers. Vivillon could easily provide itself with Quiver Dance opportunities due to Sleep Powder or just an accurate Flying-type STAB attack in Hurricane to punish most Sleep Powder-immune Pokemon. Furthermore, the tier lacked Pokemon that resisted Flying and could also take boosted Energy Balls, and those that resisted both such as Klinklang had to risk taking a Supersonic Skystrike. Though it was outsped by common Choice Scarf Pokemon, Vivillon could potentially risk sleep rolls in order to set up multiple Quiver Dances, preventing it from getting outsped by anything. Klinklang was also a very brutal setup sweeper, as after a Shift Gear, it could outspeed every single Choice Scarf user while boosting its attacking power. Its solid bulk meant it was fairly resistant to priority, as it could even take Mach Punches from Pokemon such as Hitmonchan while healthy and utilize Subsitute to play around Sucker Punch. Substitute would also provide it with setup opportunities against Pokemon such as Musharna and weakened Ferroseed. Though it would appear Klinklang had many defensive checks, the ability to run a Z-Move really pushed it over the edge. Corkscrew Crash (Z-Gear Grind) could break through some of the bulkiest Pokemon such as Gurdurr, Torterra, and even Gourgeist with a correct prediction while also dealing with frail Pokemon that resisted it, whereas Breakneck Blitz (Z-Return) could beat Water-type checks such as Lanturn, Poliwrath, and Gastrodon, effectively leaving Klinklang with one viable counter: Quagsire.

Council Vote 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hariyama Samurott Barbaracle

The banning of Vivillon and Klinklang helped relieve the issue of broken setup sweepers, as with less to prepare for, other setup sweepers like Lilligant and Charizard were easier to deal with. Furthermore, the banning of Gallade helped balanced and defensive teams a lot, as it was extremely restrictive to those playstyles, and Fighting-types became easier to deal with as well now, since most of them shared common switch-ins. Weezing began to stand out, as not only was it able to beat almost every Fighting-type along with many other physical attackers, but it also had access to the amazing Toxic Spikes in a metagame with only one common grounded Poison-type to absorb them.

Hariyama replaced Gallade as the best physical wallbreaker in the tier, as its Guts set was uncounterable with the appropriate coverage. Facade broke through Weezing and was extremely difficult to switch into with the threat of Close Combat, whereas Heavy Slam let it break Sableye and 2HKO Granbull, from where it could pick from Bulk Up to break Gourgeist-XL, Knock Off to help against Golurk and Palossand, and Bullet Punch to revenge kill and chip at faster Pokemon. Additionally, with the burn nerf and Hariyama's good bulk, it could tank pretty much any hit and easily switch into defensive Pokemon like Regirock and Piloswine. Ultimately, the combination of power and passable bulk made Hariyama too much for the tier to handle. Samurott's Swords Dance set was an extremely good wallbreaker and late-game sweeper, as a boosted Z-Megahorn could demolish every Water-resistant Pokemon, while Lum Berry sets beat checks like Weezing and Sableye. The tier's lack of faster Water switch-ins meant Aqua Jet could easily sweep through offensive teams after a Swords Dance, which Samurott could comfortably set up on thanks to its excellent bulk. Choice Specs sets were also incredibly difficult to switch into, especially since physical and special sets shared very few counters, meaning trying to switch into Samurott was a guessing game that would lead to a KO if wrong. Barbaracle had been a controversial Pokemon since the start of Alpha, but with more broken setup sweepers on the scene, it was hard to tell if it was the problem; however, after Vivillon's and Klinklang's ban, it was clear that it was too much for the tier. Not only did Shell Smash put it at a Speed tier only beaten by Choice Scarf Tauros, but the Attack boost along with a choice of Z-Moves let it break through almost any of its checks. Rockium Z broke Gourgeist-XL and Weezing; Fightnium Z beat Gastrodon, Ferroseed, and Torterra; and Grassium Z dealt with Quagsire, Gastrodon, and Poliwrath. The only reliable way to check Barbaracle was priority, which the tier had a lot of, but with teammates to set up dual screens or Aurora Veil, and even the option of White Herb, this wasn't enough to keep Barbaracle in check.

Third Council Vote: Why Were These Still Here?

Tauros Vanilluxe

The banning of Hariyama had a big effect on the metagame because aside from being an amazing wallbreaker, it was one of the best Fire- and Ice-type checks with its Thick Fat Assault Vest set and was almost a staple on balanced and defensive teams. This caused an increase in usage of Vanilluxe, Charizard, Magmortar, and Pyroar, which had mostly all been underrated beforehand. While Fire-types could still be checked by Pokemon such as Lanturn, Regirock, and Guzzlord, they were still controversial Pokemon on the voting slate, yet none got banned.

Vanilluxe was too much for the tier, however, as access to one of the most spammable moves in the tier thanks to Snow Warning, Blizzard, combined with suitable coverage and Choice Specs made it almost impossible to switch into, especially with hail annoying almost all of its checks. Freeze-Dry would remove any Water-type check, such as the popular Lanturn, while it could utilize Flash Cannon to 2HKO Piloswine and Hidden Power Ground to cripple Probopass, Assault Vest Magmortar, and other Fire-types. Overall, it was a low skill level Pokemon that had the ability to destroy teams not running one of its few checks.

Tauros had been controversial in the previous voting slate, but it was more noticeably broken after with removal of three other threats. Its high Speed combined with fantastic Attack thanks to Sheer Force along with good coverage made it amazing in every matchup. With just four coverage moves combined with its STAB, Tauros could potentially 2HKO the entire metagame, with the exception of a few heavily defensive Pokemon. Tauros had an extremely good matchup against offensive teams, as it could OHKO common offensive Pokemon, such as Lilligant and Magmortar, with just the help of Stealth Rock, and its solid bulk meant it could comfortably take priority and even a hit from most Choice Scarf users, making offensive counterplay extremely limited in addition to the shortage of defensive checks.

Stage 1: Legend has it and a look at the future

With the most recent tier shift, Scyther rose to NU and Quagsire to RU, while Medicham, Qwilfish, Mesprit, and Archeops dropped to PU. While Scyther’s loss was somewhat expected, Quagsire was considered more of a niche Pokemon to use on semistall and stall teams. As to the drops, the tier had already experienced Qwilfish and Mesprit during Alpha, while Archeops and Medicham were yet to be discovered. The former would prove to be an S-Rank Pokemon thanks to extremely high viability, while the latter got quickbanned almost immediately due to its excessive power given by Pure Power, 2HKOing almost any Pokemon that didn't resist its moves in addition to also having the opportunity to run a decent Choice Scarf set or priority moves such as Fake Out and Bullet Punch to deal with more offensive teams.

Charizard, while being considered just very good and versatile overall from the beginning, was not initially brought up for a council vote or suspect test. However, as time passed and players experimented with it, it proved to be just too good thanks to the plethora of sets it could run. Not only it had very good offensive options in physical Dragon Dance, Choice Specs, and Z-Sunny Day, but the Z-Celebrate set also gave it too much bulk and Speed, which could be easily be taken advantage of thanks to Roost and made it too hard to revenge kill even with super effective hits and faster Pokemon.

As of now, Hariyama is being tested for a potential reintroduction into the tier. Initially banned because of the lack of hard counters to its Flame Orb Guts set, Hariyama gained two hard checks in Qwilfish and Mesprit. Furthermore, its Assault Vest set might be beneficial for the tier, given the small number of Pokemon that can deal with powerful special attackers such as Pyroar, Magmortar, and Guzzlord.

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