PU Stage 4 Coverage

By Anty. Art by Bummer.
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PU stage 3 was a balance-based metagame with no outstandingly broken Pokémon, so overall it was decent. Stage 4 changed all this, as not only did PU become recognized as an official tier, but it also received its first drops in nine months. Exeggutor, Bouffalant, Pawniard, Gorebyss, and Gothitelle fell down to PU and, other than Gothitelle, immediately made the metagame unstable due to all their offensive nature and power levels.

Tier Drops

Exeggutor immediately stood out as a strong wallbreaker due to its high Special Attack, boosted by Choice Specs or Life Orb, along with a solid STAB combination providing an insanely strong Leaf Storm as well as Psyshock to hit specially bulky Pokémon such as Lickilicky and Assault Vest Bouffalant. The few Pokémon that resist Exeggutor's STAB combination either cannot switch into it or are crippled by Ancient Power and Sleep Powder. Exeggutor's ability, Harvest, lets it effectively utilize Berries, most notably Yache and Colbur, with the former helping it check Water-types such as Floatzel and the latter allowing it to surprise Pokémon like Pawniard while also weakening Pursuit. Substitute with Sitrus or Petaya Berry can make use of Exeggutor's ability to constantly force switches, either providing recovery to prevent it from being worn down too quickly and outlast checks such as Metang or providing constant Special Attack boosts while letting it switch moves, allowing it to take on defensive checks such as Lickilicky better but coming at the cost of most of its health. Unlike other wallbreakers, Exeggutor has more of a defensive presence due to its resistances to Water and Electric making it more useful versus fast offensive teams, and its ability to pressure common defensive Pokémon, such as Stunfisk, is very useful for common Electric-type teammates. However, even with its immense offensive presence, Exeggutor's low Speed and seven weaknesses make it easily revenge killed by common Pokémon such as Zebstrika and Dodrio, preventing it from steamrolling through standard offensive teams.

Exeggutor was expected to have a big impact on the metagame, particularly on defensive and balance teams, which would be all but forced to run something like Zweilous or Vullaby just to check Exeggutor. Offensive teams would not have to adapt as much, as they naturally have several checks to Exeggutor including Pursuit users such as Murkrow, but if the Pokémon on the field can let Exeggutor in, then the opponent is pretty much forced to sacrifice something.

The news of Pawniard dropping to PU was immediately met with many cries to ban it, as when it was last in the tier, Pawniard was one of the top Pokémon, and since then, it has lost its three main counters in Poliwrath, Torterra, and Carracosta. Pawniard's +2 Sucker Punch can KO almost everything faster, and the lack of many Pokémon resistant to Dark meant people expected it to be broken; however, checks such as Stunfisk, Monferno, and Relicanth have rose in viability recently, and offensive teams can play around Sucker Punch with Pokémon like Will-O-Wisp Rapidash. Pawniard is still an amazing Pokémon, as the tier's main Dark switch-ins either rely on their Eviolite, which Pawniard can remove with Knock Off, or cannot take a boosted Knock Off. Pawniard's decent defensive typing allows it to check common Normal-types such as Stoutland and Dodrio and provides opportunities for it to set up with Swords Dance, and its ability, Defiant, allows it to take advantage of Defoggers, such as Vullaby, making it a staple on entry hazard-stacking teams. Unfortunately, Pawniard lacks immediate strength, as its Attack is only average and it's forced to use Eviolite over a boosting item, and it struggles to switch into most Defog users, as Pelipper and Swanna can burn it with Scald and Vibrava can KO it with Earthquake.

Unlike Exeggutor, Pawniard puts more pressure on offensive teams, as bulkier ones can more easily use Pokémon such as Stunfisk to wall it. Offensive teams still have plenty of ways around it, such as Fighting-types like Monferno and Machoke as well as Magnet Pull Probopass, or if the team lacks anything for +2 Pawniard, more niche options such as Substitute and Encore on faster Pokémon like Ninetales and Jumpluff can stop it.

Similarly to Pawniard, Bouffalant had also been in PU before, and once again, the new metagame was harsher on Bouffalant, as its main two sets, Substitute + Swords Dance and Reckless Choice Band, are more effective against bulkier teams, which were more common back then. Despite this, Bouffalant still shines, as its natural bulk means it can survive a hit from most offensive Pokémon, and the decline in Misdreavus's and Gourgeist-XL's usage means it can run Return + Earthquake and still hit a lot of the metagame for neutral damage. Its Choice Band set is less effective, though, as Dodrio and Stoutland have become more popular due to the former's great dual STAB typing and high Speed and the latter's combination of Speed, bulk, and power, along with Scrappy. These two give Bouffalant harsh competition as a Choice Band wallbreaker, though it has slightly more power, greater bulk, and better coverage, at the cost of less Speed and its main move inflicting recoil damage. When Bouffalant dropped to PU, players started to use an Assault Vest set, which is an effective set for offensive teams to blanket check most special attackers such as Zebstrika and Floatzel. It also provides Pursuit support and can reliably switch into specially attacking Psychic-types such as Grumpig, making it a good teammate to Fighting-types such as Monferno.

Bouffalant's impact on the metagame will be similar to Exeggutor's, as it pressures bulkier teams, albeit to a a lesser extent, as it is walled by Ghost-types such as Misdreavus and Gourgeist-XL.

Unlike the other drops, Gorebyss only has one role: a setup sweeper. With Shell Smash, Gorebyss becomes one of the most threatening sweepers in the tier, as its good Special Attack means few Pokémon can take a +2 hit. Its strong STAB Hydro Pump is backed up by Ice Beam and Hidden Power Electric, hitting Grass- and Water-types such as Roselia and Pelipper, netting neutral coverage on the entire metagame. Either with help from an item, usually White Herb or Wacan Berry, or using its resistances, Gorebyss can find setup opportunities on common Pokémon such as Floatzel and Zebstrika, although it often takes a lot of damage in the process, putting it in range of priority moves such as Murkrow's Sucker Punch, so Memento support from Jumpluff is appreciated. It can freely run one of these items, as its naturally high Special Attack means that it does not need a boosting item like Life Orb to sweep. Unfortunately, Gorebyss has issues against Choice Scarf users such as Rotom-F and Simipour, as many offensive teams carry one and they all outspeed +2 Gorebyss. Lastly, Gorebyss faces harsh competition from its physically-based brother Huntail, which has priority to stop Choice Scarf users, but it has a much weaker STAB move and is forced to run special coverage.

Gorebyss will not influence the metagame much, as it has plenty of viable checks and only one set to prepare for, making it just another threat. Similarly to other set up sweepers such as Regice, offensive teams can simply check it with a Choice Scarf user or Kadabra, meaning it isn't overly hard to prepare for. Water-type checks are already common, as Floatzel is the best Pokémon in the metagame and shares many defensive checks with Gorebyss.

Gothitelle is by far the least impressive of the drops, as it is mostly outclassed and often underwhelming. As a bulky Psychic-type, it receives a lot of competition from Pokémon like Grumpig and Duosion, with the former having a better movepool, special bulk, and ability (Gothitelle cannot use Shadow Tag as it's banned in PU), and the latter having more bulk due to Eviolite, along with access to Recover and an amazing ability in Magic Guard. The only niche Gothitelle has over them is Mean Lock, which can help it potentially trap a passive Pokémon such as Stunfisk, set up Calm Mind multiple times, and Rest off any damage; however, that is predictable and forces it to run mono-Psychic coverage. Offensive Competitive sets can be used on entry hazard-stacking teams, but Defiant Pawniard is generally the better choice when needing a Pokémon to pressure Defoggers, and Kadabra and Grumpig are better offensive Psychic-types.

Effect on the metagame

The tier shift left a huge effect on the metagame, weakening defensive and balance teams while helping offensive ones. As said earlier, Exeggutor puts a great strain on bulkier teams, and unless they run one of its few defensive checks, those teams will be easily overwhelmed by it and, to a lesser extent, Substitute Swords Dance Bouffalant. Although balance breakers, mainly Rotom-F, Vigoroth, and Machoke, became more popular at the end of stage 3 weakening bulkier teams, they still had ways to play around them. Exeggutor adds another big threat to check; however, it is much harder to play around due to its brute strength, making it harder for these teams to cover most of the metagame in so few slots, ultimately making the teams worse. This lead to an offense-dominated metagame, as shown by the rise in viability of Pokémon like Floatzel and Electrode and the decrease of viability in defensive Pokémon such as Pelipper and Lickilicky, which, unfortunately, was easy to exploit by one big threat.

Before the tier shift, the main Pokémon that stood out as broken was Vigoroth, which could take advantage of passive Pokémon and become almost unstoppable after several Bulk Up boosts, but in an offensive metagame, Vigoroth found it harder to set up. However, one Pokémon really stood out as broken: Linoone. Linoone had always been a 'hit or miss' Pokémon, as it would usually not sweep if the opposing team had Pokémon that could take a +6 hit. However, since the metagame got more offensive, many of its checks lost viability, such as Tangela, Misdreavus, and Klang, and its more viable checks, such as Metang, Probopass, and Kadabra, could be weakened or removed by Magnet Pull and Pursuit support. Setting up wasn't a big issue, as with Memento support from Jumpluff, it could set up on the majority of the tier, and the only Pokémon that could stop Memento, Defiant Pawniard, was setup fodder for Linoone if it had been slightly weakened. For these reasons, the PU council believed that Linoone was so unhealthy that it was quick banned rather than suspect tested.

Aside from playstyles, many Pokémon got better or worse. Monferno is the most notable example, as firstly, it could beat three out of the four relevant tier drops, notably being the only offensive switch-in to Pawniard. It also had the ability to beat other prominent threats such as Stoutland and Vigoroth, and its Swords Dance set got more popular due to the decrease in usage of Pelipper. Rotom-F also improved significantly, as its dual STAB typing was already unresisted, but due to there being fewer bulky Pokémon such as defensive Grumpig and Lickilicky, its Choice Scarf set was very effective. The increase in Stunfisk as the tier's main Electric-type check helped Rotom-F, as it could set up Substitute and KO it with Blizzard. Generally, the metagame change helped offensive Pokémon, particularly faster ones and effective Choice Scarf users such as Floatzel and Chatot, as well as Pokémon that work well with Exeggutor, including Electric-types such as Electrode that appreciate Ground-types such as Stunfisk pressured. Despite the metagame becoming more offensive, several defensive Pokémon also got better; for example, Vullaby, which resists Exeggutor's dual STAB combination, can check other common Pokémon like Grumpig and Monferno and can clear away entry hazards with Defog.

Passive Pokémon, such as Clefairy and Tangela, got worse, as although they both have great bulk to take on big threats such as Floatzel, they struggle to fit on offensive teams and give wallbreakers such as Exeggutor opportunities to switch in. Slow setup sweepers, such as Klang and Gogoat, also decreased in viability even though they can check some of the improved Pokémon, as they lack immediate power and thus are pressured by faster setup sweepers and stronger Pokémon with type advantage. Vigoroth is the most notable example, as before the tier shift, players believed it was suspect worthy, but the offensive nature of the tier paired with the increase in usage of Pokémon like Monferno, along with the addition of Pawniard, has made it less effective.

Throh suspect test

Shortly after the Linoone quickban, the council decided to retest Throh, as the metagame had shifted away from balance, which is the playstyle Throh had the best matchup against, and Flying- and Psychic-types had increased in viability since Throh was originally banned. Throh is also a great check to Vigoroth, a Pokémon players felt was suspect worthy, as it can bypass its Defense boosts from Bulk Up with Storm Throw. To quote galbia as to why it was originally banned:

Throh is broken because it has unparalleled splashability on pretty much every kind of team, works on every damn playstyle and there is no reason not to use it unless Poliwrath fits better in your team. It is also too hard to wear down since it is the best Restalk user in the tier, enjoys status, and is ridicolously bulky to the point it beats everything outside of fast specs beheyeem and some other ridicolous breaker with SE STAB 1v1. It has no reliable switch in that isn't murdered by a coverage move or is crippled by Knock Off and also has a lot of versatility. The only thing holding it back are the fact that sometimes it doesnt do much more than force a double down but when it does that consistently in every single battle it isnt even a big flaw

So, the main things to note about why it was originally banned is that it had little competition and was so good that there was little reason not to use it, lacked any hard counters, and had a positive matchup versus the rest of the tier. While the first and second points still stand, although they are less relevant in this metagame, the third point does not, which was the fundamental reason as to why it was originally banned and is also a big reason as to why it was retested.

Generally, Throh wasn't considered to be conventionally broken in the sense that it is overpowered. Grumpig, Exeggutor, Murkrow, and Dodrio are just a few examples of very good Pokémon in PU that could outspeed and either OHKO or 2HKO Throh, and of the Pokémon in S and A+ on the Viability Rankings, seven of the 11 could outspeed and at least 2HKO Throh. However, Throh lacked many counters, as between its coverage moves such as Stone Edge to hit Flying-types, there were no Pokémon that could always switch into it, but considering most teams in the current PU metagame are offensive, this wasn't a huge issue, as these teams often will not need a guaranteed counter to every Pokémon and so could rely on hard checks such as Colbur Berry Grumpig to switch in and check it. Also, other than Choice Band, which often relied on prediction, most sets had to drop utility moves such as Rest and Bulk Up in order to run coverage, and even then, bulky Pokémon such as Pelipper and Stunfisk could switch in on it. Overall, while it was difficult to argue that Throh should not be unbanned solely based on it being broken, it could be argued that it was slightly broken due to its lack of switch-ins, which should be considered when looking at the other side of the argument.

The main anti-unban argument was focused less on whether it was broken but rather if it was uncompetitive, as players feared that it might result in the metagame becoming even more offensively oriented, making it subjectively worse. As said earlier, Throh had a more favorable matchup versus bulkier teams compared to offensive ones, as they rely more on the team's ability to take hits than dish them out—but there weren't many Pokémon that can take a hit from Throh. Bulkier teams could not rely on a Pokémon to check it if it lost to a coverage move; for example, Pelipper could counter RestTalk sets and 3 attacks sets with Ice Punch but was OHKOed and 2HKOed by Thunder Punch and Stone Edge, respectively. The lack of reliable Knock Off switch-ins also pressured defensive teams; for example, Stunfisk without Leftovers could still check Throh but could get overwhelmed by other Pokémon it is meant to check, such as Zebstrika. However, this argument assumed the metagame could be more balanced with further testing, as the metagame without Throh was already offensively based and there were many other threats to these teams, most notably Exeggutor, but also Pokémon like Vigoroth, Rotom-F, and Machoke. Ultimately, the suspect test did not last long enough to determine fully if the metagame became worse with the addition of Throh, meaning votes were subjective as to whether the particular user believed that the metagame with Throh and the one without were unfavorable, and if so, whether or not there are ways to make it better in the future.

To be unbanned, Throh required a majority of 60% unban votes, but after 73 out of 81 votes, the most it could achieve was 56%, meaning it stays in BL4.


Stage 4 made a huge mark on the metagame, as it completely changed the tier from a balance-based one to a very offensive one and has brought along some metagame-defining Pokémon such as Exeggutor. With the arrival of stage 5, PU received base formes of some Mega Pokémon in Altaria, Audino, Camerupt, Glalie, Lopunny, and Beedrill. Although some may be viable, most notably lead Spikes Glalie, specially defensive Camerupt, and Choice Specs Altaria, Audino is the only one that might have an significant effect on the metagame. Its ability, Regenerator, helps it pass a Wish more reliably than Lickilicky, significantly helping out defensive teams and possibly making them more viable.

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