UU Suspect Coverage: Salamence

By Shiba. Art by LifeisDANK.
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Salamence art by LifeisDANK

With the introduction of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in late November 2014, numerous threats dropped and rose across the tiers due to "new toy syndrome." At stage 2 of ORAS UU (February 2015), one of the most influential Pokémon to grace the tier, Salamence, had arrived. With the ability to excel in various roles on almost every playstyle thanks to its excellent offensive and defensive typing, exceptional stats across the board (notably a base 135 Attack and 110 Special Attack), an expansive movepool, and two very useful abilities in Intimidate and Moxie, many thought it to be a fantastic addition to the tier. And that it was. Salamence proceeded to sit among the top of the viability rankings for the year and a half it was in the tier. In recent months, though, more and more offensive threats started to drop into the tier, such as Alakazam, Sylveon, Celebi, and Conkeldurr, making it hard for anyone to account for all the offensive Pokémon on a team. After Alakazam was banned from the tier, the UU tier leaders set their sights on Salamence.

Sample sets


Most of Salamence's offensive prowess stems from its massive base 135 Attack stat as well as its access to Dragon Dance, which allows it to become a fearsome wallbreaker and sweeper with a single boost. The coverage moves of choice on the Dragon Dance set are Earthquake or Fire Blast for Steel-types such as Cobalion and Doublade and Iron Tail for the omnipresent Fairy-types such as Sylveon and Whimsicott. Without a couple solid countermeasures, Dragon Dance Salamence can proceed to plow through or clean teams with ease as demonstrated in this UUPL replay between Advantage and Realistic Waters, where Salamence showcases its sweeping ability late-game. Though this was just one of the sets Salamence could run, it was definitely one of its scariest.


Mixed Salamence showcases its raw wallbreaking power. Packing both physical and special Dragon STAB moves allows Salamence to heavily damage anything that switches in. Furthermore, complementing it with powerful coverage options such as Fire Blast and Iron Tail leaves this set virtually unwallable. Only Pokémon such as Empoleon, Suicune, and Porygon2 can reliably switch into MixMence. Its unpredictability is what gave this set much of its power. In many cases, the opponent is forced to go to a certain Pokémon because of the threat of Dragon Dance Salamence. Therefore, MixMence can take advantage of this and run through some of its would-be counters, opening the way for its teammates down the line.


While this isn't an offensive set like the others, it played a significant role on bulkier teams. Being one of the few physically defensive walls with reliable recovery as well as Defog, it was almost a staple on these types of teams. The impact of this set was relatively large (even if it wasn't the most common Salamence set seen around the tier), as it forced a wave of Fighting-types like Infernape and Cobalion to run moves like Hidden Power Ice and Stone Edge more often.

Other sets like Choice Scarf or Band and specially offensive Defog also existed, which obviously amplified its insane versatility, but the three above had the biggest effect on whether Salamence was too much or not.

Pro-ban arguments

For arguments in favor of banning Salamence, a wide majority of players brought up recent tier changes, such as the drops of Celebi, Conkeldurr, and Sylveon, factoring into Salamence's brokenness. But more well-known players had better reasoning, with the ability to flip a turn in one game with a Dragon Dance, forcing teams to scout the movesets due to its insane unpredictability, and just centralizing the tier in general. Though Salamence was a blessing for many playstyles, it caused massive headaches both in teambuilding and in play. In the end, limited counterplay to its offensive sets in addition to the excessively offensive nature of the metagame warranted Salamence's ban from the tier.

Anti-ban arguments

Players that didn't want to ban Salamence actually cited its insane versatility as a blessing to the tier. For a Pokémon to fit almost every playstyle was highly sought after and not broken after all. They also brought up that Salamence's two strongest STAB moves, Draco Meteor and Outrage, had very bad drawbacks, in addition to stating that Salamence was one of the last Pokémon that could fill almost any role on any kind of team (more of a glue factor by keeping threats such as Hydreigon, Celebi, and Gyarados in check). Lastly, a big part of the anti-ban argument was the same as the one from the Mega Pidgeot suspect: its Stealth Rock weakness. Though these arguments seemed relatively valid at the time of the suspect, they weren't enough to sway the voters.


Almost poetically, both sides of the argument focus greatly on Salamence's versatility and what it brought to the tier. The pro-ban side argued that its extreme unpredictability detracted from teambuilding and possible play patterns in the game. On the other hand, the anti-ban side argued that Salamence's vast utility was necessary to hold the tier together at this stage. Salamence was ultimately banned from UU with 67% of the votes, only needing a simple majority of 51% to rid of it. Though Salamence had been a very valued Pokémon in the UnderUsed tier for around a year and a half, recent meta changes had pushed it over the edge, and it was its time to go. Salamence will still leave the tier in an offensive state with Pokémon like Celebi, Hydreigon, and Sylveon still running the show, but its ban relieves the pressure on various playstyles, which in turn makes the metagame one step closer to healthy.

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