PU Suspect Coverage: Hariyama

By TJ, pancake, and HJAD.
« Previous Article Next Article »

Art by LifeisDANK.


At the beginning of PU Beta, Hariyama was one of the biggest threats. Its Guts set had insane wallbreaking power, good coverage, and reasonable bulk. Facade and Close Combat alone 2HKOed almost the entire tier bar a few defensive Pokémon. Hariyama was also difficult to take down in one hit, so it had multiple opportunities to come in and terrorize the opposing team. As a result of all of this, it was banned in the second council vote. However, PU soon received new Fighting-type checks in Mesprit and Qwilfish, and many thought that Hariyama's Assault Vest set would actually be healthy for the tier to check prominent Fire-types like Pyroar and Magmortar. As a result, the PU council decided it would retest Hariyama in its first test of Pokémon Sun and Moon.

Hariyama in SM PU

Hariyama's most popular set throughout its stay in SM PU was a Thick Fat Assault Vest set, but that was not the set that made it broken. Early in PU Alpha, Hariyama was popular as a blanket check to many special attackers that the tier lacked answers to. However, as time progressed throughout PU beta, people started to explore its Guts set, which had limited counterplay.


Guts Hariyama is the set many perceived to be broken. After the burn nerf in Pokémon Sun and Moon, Flame Orb Guts Fighting-types became premier wallbreakers and were banned in many tiers Conkeldurr in UU, Heracross in RU, and then Hariyama in PU. When burned, it was able to 2HKO almost the entire tier with the combination of Close Combat, Facade, and Heavy Slam. Close Combat was Hariyama's main form of dealing pure damage; the goal of its coverage moves was to free up the opportunity for Hariyama to click Close Combat and deal as much damage to opposing defensive cores as possible to make it easier for faster Pokémon to clean up late-game. Facade coupled with Close Combat gave fantastic neutral coverage across PU, only really missing out on Ghost-type Pokémon. Heavy Slam was the coverage move of choice due to the prevalence of Sableye in the tier, as well as other Fairy-type checks such as Granbull. With usage of these two Pokémon peaking while Hariyama was in the tier Heavy Slam was considered a more favorable coverage move than the likes of Knock Off for wallbreaking. Hariyama even had priority in Bullet Punch to help make up for its low Speed tier. It was ridiculously difficult for balanced or defensive teams that lacked Gourgeist-XL or Palossand to switch into this set. Hariyama also had several niche options that it could run over Bullet Punch to increase its advantage against bulkier team archetypes if it was used as a pure wallbreaker, rather than one that could take on balanced teams. It could run moves such as Bulk Up to help it beat the likes of Gourgeist-XL and Palossand, making Hariyama a builder's nightmare. It could also run niche coverage options such as Knock Off, which hit Gourgeist-XL and Palossand and provided support by removing the items of Mesprit, Qwilfish, Weezing, and all of the aforementioned checks.


Although the Guts set was generally perceived to be Hariyama's broken set, as preparing for every single set from it from the teambuilder was hugely detrimental, it was not Hariyama's most widely used set. It was very difficult to implement in a team that wasn't focused around giving it as many wallbreaking opportunities as possible, since as a wallbreaker it couldn't switch into anything in particular, and the meta in Sun and Moon was shifting towards very fast and powerful Z-Move wallbreakers instead. Assault Vest Hariyama was much easier to fit on every team, especially balance archetypes due to its ability to blanket check almost all of the special attackers in the tier, notably Magmortar, Pyroar, Lilligant, and Ludicolo, while retaining a decent amount of power. The number of Pokémon that Hariyama checked, combined with the utility it provided with Fake Out and Knock Off, was unmatched, making it a great pick for many playstyles.

The Suspect

Hariyama Unban Reasoning

There were several factors that contributed to the PU council's reasoning behind the retest of Hariyama, of which the primary reason was the new additions to the tier. Some of these includ Mesprit and Qwilfish, two decent switch-ins to Hariyama. Both of these Pokémon have been seen as excellent fits in PU, sitting at S and A+ on the PU Viability Rankings, with Mesprit seeing the most usage in most weeks of the ongoing PUPL.

Additionally, he metagame at the time was being centralized by Fire-type threats such as Pyroar and Magmortar and other special wallbreakers such as Alolan Exeggutor, Drampa, and Guzzlord, which has since risen to NU through usage. With these Pokémon influencing the balance archetype heavily, the balance archetype was considered too difficult to pull off reasonably within the realms of the metagame with proper checks to the aforementioned Pokémon. Hariyama solved this issue courtesy of its Assault Vest Thick Fat set, which was a very popular, reliable, and aggressive switch-in for these Pokémon. If the Guts set was considered broken, the healthiness of the Assault Vest set would not matter, but the healthiness of the set added to the attractiveness of Hariyama being in the tier.

Finally, it was common knowledge that the council had banned Hariyama not because of its Assault Vest Thick Fat set, but more so because the limitations a Guts set with Flame Orb introduced into teambuilding. It was also argued that, while Guts Hariyama was a strong wallbreaker, PU already had an abundance of strong, slow wallbreakers such as Zangoose and Ursaring, so Hariyama wouldn't unduly change things. Therefore, with an abundance of offensive checks as well as a fair few defensive checks that could recover reliably on Hariyama, it was theorized by the PU council that Hariyama could be reintroduced into the tier without causing much instability in the metagame and would as a result add teambuilding variety to the balance archetype to increase its viability within the tier.

Hariyama Ban Reasoning

However, there were clear differences that separated Hariyama from the rest of the wallbreakers in the tier. Unlike other wallbreakers, Hariyama had much more defensive potential, so finding opportunities to wallbreak was seldom and issue. Hariyama added a different dimension to wallbreaking because it would be able to hard switch into the likes of a Regirock, defensive Carracosta, and Ferroseed with little or no consequences. If the opponent sets up Stealth Rock or even predicts the switch to Hariyama with an attack, the net result is almost always a free turn for Hariyama to pound the switch-in with little or no HP loss as a consequence. If this was an Ursaring or a Zangoose coming in on an attack, those Pokémon would have essentially evaporated. This was one of the key arguments for the "keep Hariyama banned" perspective. The sheer number of opportunities to switch in that Hariyama had due to its good bulk was too much for the PU tier to handle when paired with its sheer wallbreaking power.

Another pillar to the pro-ban argument was that Hariyama technically had the devices to KO every single one of its checks and counters. The Hariyama user could essentially pick what Pokémon did and didn't check it based on its moveset. For example, Gourgeist-XL was one of the most popular Hariyama checks in the meta thanks to its typing allowing it to wall Hariyama's coverage set combined with reliable recovery to heal off attacks. It also didn't lose momentum as easily as other Hariyama switch-ins thanks to a plethora of support moves such as Leech Seed and Will-O-Wisp. However, when people started realizing this, they began to change the Hariyama set accordingly. Bulk Up, over Bullet Punch on the standard set, started seeing use to enable the 2HKO with Heavy Slam in exchange for making Hariyama worse against offense. Other niche moves were used too; for example, Earthquake was used to hit Qwilfish or Palossand on the switch for big damage, and Knock Off was used to remove the items from Pokémon that enjoyed switching in. Ice Punch allowed Hariyama to hit Gourgeist-XL, Palossand, and Golurk hard. As a result of these it was argued that even without the pure wallbreaking abilities of its counterparts in Ursaring and Zangoose, Hariyama still had more than enough wallbreaking potential for it to be more of a hindrance on teambuilding rather than an asset, with builders constantly fretting over which Hariyama set demolished their team.

These two points together provided the structure needed for a pro-ban argument, which felt that the sheer opportunities it gets to wallbreak in addition to its wallbreaking potential was too much for the PU tier to handle.


The PU community needed a supermajority of 60% to unban Hariyama. The 74.6% majority for ban meant that Hariyama will remain banned from SM PU. As of now, the metagame favors Pokémon that were blanket checked by Assault Vest Hariyama such as Magmortar, Lilligant, and Drampa. As for Hariyama's Guts set, people can more freely rely on Fighting-type checks that Hariyama had little trouble getting past such as Weezing, Sableye, and Gastrodon. However, due to the increased presence of the special attackers that Assault Vest Haryama could pressure, the aforementioned Pokémon have their fair share of things they have to watch out for.

HTML by inactive~
« Previous Article Next Article »