OU Preview of Ultra Sun & Moon Additions

By Colonel M, Exploudit and GMars.
« Previous Article Next Article »
LifeisDANK's Naganadel

Art by LifeisDANK.


Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon have brought some significant changes to the OverUsed tier. While these are smaller in comparison to the changes brought in previous generations, the games have introduced us to three new Pokémon, with six significant Pokémon also getting additional moves added to their repertoire. While one of the new Pokémon has already been banished to Ubers, the remaining Pokémon have carved additional utility and niches to make them relevant within the tier.

New Pokémon


Fun fact—most Pokémon sprites from GSC were only made up of two colors apart from black and white. Taking a look at Blacephalon, this trend has certainly changed. Competitively, Blacephalon has made a definite splash on the OU metagame as a wildly powerful wallbreaker and cleaner. A great Special Attack stat matched with a fantastic offensive typing lets Blacephalon blow past most offensive Pokémon, and its decent Speed lets it run Choice Scarf and Choice Specs sets effectively. Even with a Timid nature, Beast Boost still boosts Special Attack, making Blacephalon a dangerous threat to give a KO to if it can't be easily revenge killed. Trick helps Blacephalon cripple Chansey and other potential walls like Mantine and Gastrodon, and a decent Attack stat allows it to run Explosion to more reliably revenge kill a set-up Volcarona.

Unfortunately, Blacephalon finds itself hopelessly walled by Tyranitar, as Ultra Beasts are locked into three perfect IVs, meaning that it cannot choose to run Hidden Power Fighting. Its best option against Tyranitar is a Choice Specs-boosted Hidden Power Grass, which often 2HKOes it after Stealth Rock but forces heavy prediction, or simply waiting in fear of being Pursuit trapped until it has been sufficiently weakened by teammates. Blacephalon must be wary of super effective priority attacks like Sucker Punch and Water Shuriken and has to be paired with solid answers to Ash-Greninja to be really effective. Blacephalon also has a few longevity issues, being weak to every form of entry hazard. Luckily, USM brought a number of great new Defog users to help mitigate this issue, and we'll be covering them all later in this article!


When UB Assembly was first announced, many thought the Ultra Beast would receive a rare type combination, such as Rock / Ghost, Steel / Ghost, or Steel / Psychic, to secure a large niche as one of the tier's premier walls; of course it was just speculation, but its design alone was a clear indication that it would develop into a wall, right? Well, either way, a week or so later, Game Freak decided to announce its typing: Rock / Steel! The Pokémon community went mad! "How could you give a wall one of the worst defensive typings in the game?" Everyone was then praying it would get absurd bulk to justify its use, or anything similar, but Game Freak's plans were clear when its name was revealed: "Stakataka"!

Game Freak turned Stakataka into a wallbreaker, not into a wall. This is further backed up by Stakataka's abysmal base 13 Speed, which may seem like a curse at first but is actually a blessing, as it secures full-powered Gyro Balls against 99% of the tier that, when combined with a great Attack stat, make Stakataka deadly to switch into! Its access to Trick Room further allows it to exploit its Speed stat and lets it rampage through offensive archetypes. Another great asset is Beast Boost, as simply by lowering its Defense a bit, Stakataka is able to obtain Attack raises upon KOing opposing Pokémon, which really helps it do its thing under Trick Room. Also, aside from the jaw-dropping Gyro Ball, Stakataka has other notable attacking options, with Stone Edge and Continental Crush hitting Celesteela and Rotom-W, and Superpower which targets Kartana and Ferrothorn. Its "bad" typing is actually not that bad in some scenarios, notably allowing it to check Mega Mawile, Latios lacking Surf or Earthquake, and Tapu Lele lacking Focus Blast or Choice Specs. Of course, though, that typing still does end up annoying UB Assembly quite a bit, as any decently strong Ground- or Fighting-type, such as Landorus-T, Excadrill, Mega Medicham, or Hawlucha, poses a big threat for Assembly and doesn't let it set up Trick Room. The lacking Special Defense that Game Freak gave Stakataka allows most special attackers in the tier to simply KO it before it can set up, so oftentimes, it's better to pair it with at least one more Trick Room setter, creating either a full Trick Room team or some type of hybrid between bulky offense and Trick Room.


Naganadel was one of the newest additions to the Ultra Beasts and the only evolved one, and it was perceived to be one of the strongest additions to the Ultra Beast collection. With access to Nasty Plot, Beast Boost to raise its Speed, and the ability to absorb Toxic Spikes, it made a powerful addition to offensive teams. Naganadel was seen on some balance teams, but it was also used often in its short stint in OU on Sticky Web and Aurora Veil teams. Dragonium Z alongside Draco Meteor made Naganadel a very difficult Pokémon to switch into. Sludge Wave complemented Draco Meteor very well, as it targeted Fairy-types, while Fire Blast completed the set to prevent Magearna from completely walling it. Assault Vest Magearna, Assault Vest Tyranitar, and specially defensive Heatran were some of the only Pokémon that could withstand an assault. Even Chansey, one of the premier special walls, feared a +6 Naganadel, as it needed Thunder Wave to effectively cripple it or Naganadel had to forcefully switch into it, which should never happen. Thanks to Beast Boost, Naganadel gained +1 Speed after KOing an opposing Pokémon, after which only Pokémon such as Scarf Greninja could outspeed and revenge kill it reliably.

In spite of Naganadel's one-dimensional set and the presence of at least some defensive and offensive countermeasures, the OU council deemed Naganadel too much for the tier and quickbanned it roughly a week after its release. While Naganadel's stay was short, the amount of devastation it brought to teams left a scar on some of the offensive playerbase that enjoyed the qualities it brought to those teams.

Pokémon with New Moves


Defog was a unique addition for Landorus-T, as it was known as one of the best Pokémon to lay Stealth Rock within the OU tier. Defog gives Landorus-T additional compression within one of its flagship sets—Choice Scarf. The beauty of this set is that it's an effective offensive pivot that sports a Ground immunity, Intimidate, and now access to Defog to help clear hazards. Much like Choice Kartana, Landorus-T uses Defog in the last slot to give balance and offensive teams a method of clearing entry hazards without having to dedicate a teamslot to it, such as Mantine. Defog is also a great option on defensive Landorus-T sets if another Pokémon is laying Stealth Rock for the team. While Defog may not seem big for a Pokémon that is already #1 within the tier, it gives Landorus-T yet another reason why the majority of teams should strongly consider it.


Gliscor is a Pokémon that spent the majority of SM completely overshadowed by Landorus-T. It had trouble breaking out as an offensive or defensive threat, since Landorus-T could effectively utilize Z-Moves to become an offensive powerhouse while still being a great Stealth Rock setter. Gliscor's only real niche lied in its improved longevity. With USM bringing a Defog tutor to the game, Gliscor is finally able to combine Poison Heal and Defog on the same set to show off its longevity to its fullest potential.

Poison Heal + Toxic Orb allows Gliscor to recover an eighth of its health per turn, negating the damage it takes from Stealth Rock upon switching in. Gliscor can reliably switch in against common hazard setters like Toxapex, Heatran, and Landorus-T, threaten them out with heavy damage, or in Landorus-T's case the risk of losing its item, and remove any entry hazards they may have set. Gliscor still has a number of weaknesses, such as struggling versus the tier's offensive Grass-, Water-, and Ice-types like Tapu Bulu, Ash-Greninja, and Kyurem-B, but it still manages to provide enough valuable support to often find its way onto bulky teams in the USM meta.


From the position of a defensive superstar in ORAS, Rotom-W really fell off coming into SM. The presence of new offensive threats like Kartana and Tapu Bulu weakened its niche and made it struggle to find a teamslot. The addition of Defog has finally given Rotom-W some of its relevance back, as it is able to force out a number of common entry hazard setters, including Landorus-T, Heatran, and Greninja, enabling it to easily find opportunities to get off a Defog. It is still able to generate strong momentum through a slow Volt Switch and is commonly seen running both offensive Z-Move sets, which focus on nuking opposing Pokémon and consistently applying offensive pressure, and defensive Iapapa Berry sets, which seek to be reliable defensive answers to Pokémon like Mega Scizor and Landorus-T while still removing entry hazards through Defog.


Knock Off on Toxapex gives it yet another annoying utility move that it can wield. Knock Off is used over Toxic and Toxic Spikes, as it prevents offensive and defensive Pokémon from switching in without potentially losing an item in the process. For example, Rotom-W now has to fear losing its Iapapa Berry if it attempts to switch in. It also severely discourages Choice Specs Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele from switching in and firing off boosted STAB attacks. There really isn't a ton to say about Knock Off on Toxapex—it's just one more move that makes it one of the worst Pokémon to try to switch into. Just be thankful that Toxapex only has four moveslots that it can utilize.


Let's be honest, Knock Off wasn't really a game changer for Kartana; while it did have its ups and downs, Kartana was already growing in popularity late SM, and Knock Off was nothing more than a nice bonus. Still, Knock Off provides great neutral coverage, which can be deadly after a couple of Swords Dances, and mainly gives Kartana a way to cripple defensive Landorus-T, Zapdos, and Celesteela if well timed. Kartana can also make use of a Darkinium Z to hit Mega Venusaur and Zapdos after a Swords Dance, but Knock Off's Z-Move only hits a pitiful 120 BP making Night Slash actually better in this specific set.

However, it was not only Kartana's Swords Dance sets that benefited from the move; Choice Scarf also appreciates the utility and the neutral coverage Knock Off provides, while the not-as-effective Choice Band really appreciates it as well for the same reasons. Kartana also got Tailwind added to its movepool, which isn't as notable but is still worth mentioning; with Tailwind and a Flyinium Z, Kartana can pretty much outspeed the entire tier with an Adamant nature for four turns, including Choice Scarfers and weather sweepers, and have guaranteed critical hits on both Leaf Blade and Night Slash. It's not an outstanding set by any means, but it's clearly better than Timid Kartana!


Araquanid wasn't much more than a meme before USM came out; it had its place on some Trick Room and rain teams as an Ash-Greninja countermeasure that could exploit both Trick Room and rain, but due to it being very one-dimensional, it was difficult to justify over almost anything on a serious OU team. Sure, its Liquidation really hurts, but that's about it. Any decent Water switch-in, which every team except brainless HO should have, just laughs at Araquanid's face. In the meantime, Sticky Web was facing some issues with viability as a playstyle, with the return of Mega Diancie to the tier and overall more teams adapting to the strategy.

However, with a simple move addition, Araquanid's viability rose significantly, as did the Sticky Web playstyle's. It wasn't fully Araquanid's doing, but the water spider did help, especially since it is now almost a must on Sticky Web teams, as it is seen by many as better than Shuckle and Smeargle. Sure, it may not be as reliable as Shuckle is, but it at least provides some role compression, as it acts as a wallbreaker, softening walls on the opposing team, and also isn't as reliant on its item as Shuckle and Smeargle are. Without Mental Herb, Shuckle is Taunt bait, and without Focus Sash, Smeargle can't tank any hit; Araquanid, on the other hand, has much better bulk than Smeargle, meaning it can for sure tank a hit or two if it needs to, and while Taunt still prevents Sticky Web from going up, anything Taunting it will have to eat a strong Liquidation in return. Another reason to use Araquanid over these two is the fact that it forces Mega Diancie out, as it tanks a Diamond Storm with the help of Focus Sash and outright OHKOes Mega Diancie with a Liquidation. Magic Coat also makes it quite a nice anti-lead choice against the likes of Excadrill, defensive Landorus-T, Ferrothorn, and other hazard setters that can't really touch it. Still, mandating a Stealth Rock setter such as Landorus-T or Excadrill as partner might make Shuckle a little more worthwhile in that department.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the USM meta is just getting started—with new threats and new tools, there's plenty of experimenting to be done to find the best new sets and team cores. Get out there!

HTML by ScarfWynaut
« Previous Article Next Article »