It's that time of the year again...
Fall 2022 BW OU Viability rankings:
Rises and falls:
Bulky sand teams have emerged as the premier playstyle, and as a result, Tyranitar has taken up the mantle from Latios as the premier pokemon in BW OU. Tyranitar not only facilitates sand teams through chip damage, changing the weather vs opposing rain teams and activating Excadrill's sand force, but is also a great pokemon to have in the matchup against sand due to being the foremost psychic check. Gliscor rises to the top of A+ much in part to these teams popularity, with its fantastic longevity making it a favored choice in comparison to Landorus-t. The SD set has also seem somewhat of a resurgence, with a solid matchup vs most styles of sand combined with rain falling out of favor. Skarmory continues its rise for similar reasons as last update: a great matchup vs sand, longevity, as well as the decline of rain.
Psychic spam, or psyspikes, had begun to establish itself as the pre-eminent archetype and as a result, garnered a certain amount of attention when building teams or preparing for a match. Offensive teams had seen a massive uptick in popularity, primarily due to their great matchup against these traditional psyspike teams. However, the recent gem ban has mostly neutered the style, and it has begun to recede in popularity. At the same time, rain has began to see a decline in usage, owing much to its poor matchup vs the popular sand styles, and the decline of its strongest matchup, offense. Alakazam thrived in these two matchups, thanks to its speed and guaranteed focus sash. Naturally it has begun to see a slight decrease in popularity, with a few contributors ranking Reuniclus as the better magic guard psychic. The cell offers a better matchup vs sand, particularly the bulky variant. Customizable coverage options grant Reuniclus the ability to pick and choose its checks for the most part, and successful Psyspam teams often find themselves focused around setting up a late game Reuniclus sweep. Don't count the mustachioed magician out though - underexplored life orb sets can turn its matchups on their head, and the sash set is still a formidable threat.
As I mentioned above, the popularity of hyper offensive teams has evaporated as quickly as its swift onset. The importance of gems to these teams cannot be overstated. Volcarona lost the ability to ohko Tyranitar, turning it from a massive threat to one who can easily be stopped by the tier's forerunner. Cloyster finds itself in a similar position, having lost the ability to drop Reuniclus with a single move. At a glance, life orb can seemingly pick up most of the missing slack, but sand, recoil, hazards and the prevalence of protect let sand teams stall these pokemon out before they can do too much damage. Starmie finds itself as another victim of the gem ban - water gem granted it tremendous burst power that partnered well with its speed and ability to spin. Without a boosting item Starmie often feels weak, and it suffers from similar complications with life orb. With the archetype losing popularity, Starmie has also lost its niche as the go to spinner on hyper offensive teams.
With the fall of HO, players are hard pressed to find a reason to use Politoed. The archetype inherently struggles with Sand, and finds itself without many positive matchups, while also effectively feeling like playing a mon down due to Politoed's general lack of utility. The traditional structure of Toed/Thund/Lati/Ferro/Cruel offers little recourse against sand outside of grass knot Thundurus, and has seen a drastic decrease in usage. All hope isn't lost however, as novel rain varients utilizing pokemon such as Mamoswine and Gyarados can offer an improved sand matchup. Trends like Excadrill rain show signs of a resurgence for the playstyle moving forward, but as of now it has taken a clear backseat and finds itself at possibly its lowest point in the tier's history.
While the formerly popular Keldeo rain is rarely seen anymore, the musketeer finds itself in the midst of a renaissance of sorts, finding its home on sand builds. Novel innovations such as the sub+tect set alongside old favorites like subcm can trivialize rain matchups for sand teams choosing to go a different route than magic guard abuse. While somewhat weak against the psychics, Keldeo can be very effective against opposing sand teams due to the numerous water and fighting weak pokemon the teams are home to. Structures utilizing powerful cores like Tar/Glisc/Exca can find half their team beaten by Keldeo. As a result, the teams have begun to turn to pokemon that resist keldeo's fantastic dual stab, such as Celebi and Amoonguss. These pokemon also offer ways for sand teams to keep up with rain without overly relying on psychic types.
While sand has entrenched itself as the top of the metagame, it hasn't stagnated. Pokemon such as Mamoswine, Heatran and Magnezone have seen increased usage in an effort to combat the monopoly of psyspikes. The former two are incredibly difficult to switch into, while the latter impacts the hazards that are so heavily relied on, in addition to removing key defensive pieces. Rotom-W isn't as directly threatening as any of these pokemon, but is a great facilitator. It provides good defensive utility such as keeping sand force excadrill in check while volt switch allows it to pivot to easily bring in breakers. Rotom also grants an invaluable ice resist and mamoswine check - something very hard to come by on this style of teams.
Sand's diversification has also brought forth a resurgence of bulky teams, stall and balance alike. These teams approach the game differently than the popular methods of overloading opposing checks, focusing more on defensive integrity and nullification of opposing threats. These teams are facilitated twofold by Excadrill: not only is it a fantastic way to remove hazards, but also one of the most threatening pokemon for slower teams to face. Additionally, it is one of the rare effective checks to Reuniclus, a massive threat towards passively inclined teams. In general, these bulkier teams can offer some counterplay to threats that would normally be overwhelming. However, with the high power level of BW OU, it is difficult to account for every single threat in the builder, so these teams can often find themselves with certain holes that can be taken advantage of. It is also difficult to maintain momentum, granting experienced opponents opportunities to take advantage of predictable patterns in play.