Resource [Series 8/11] Sword/Shield BSS Viability Rankings

I am one of the people who messaged 1TP and suggested a Lapras drop a week or two ago. I wanted to wait until Nouthuca confirmed my opinions before posting here. I generally dislike doing this, but I like to back up my opinions with cold hard evidence so they are taken seriously. I am not always correct, I knew P2, a Pokemon I didn't really have a strong opinion on, was being used as a Calyrex-Shadow check in high ladder but still thought P2 was quite a bit worse than it ended up being. Its ability to do this whilst having a differing matchup spread from Tyranitar allows it to function well on teams now I have had a bit more time playing with it. I generally used Tyranitar or Urshifu, even Moltres-G in this sort of role so didn't really have much experience with P2 in the format. That being said I have a lot of experience playing with Lapras and it was a Pokemon I have a strong opinion on.

Before and during BSSLT, I had been doing a bit of casual laddering with a Zacian-Lapras team (around 100 games) and found that Lapras actually wasn't that useful in the majority of matchups. I ended up shuffling around that team and replacing Lapras, trying Swampert and ending up with Seismitoad.

So what sets Lapras apart from the other Pokemon in Top Tier, I believe there are three factors:

1. Lapras is not a major consideration for every major Restricted Core in Teambuilding
2. Lapras comes with an opportunity cost of being unable to Dynamax Zapdos (and to lesser degree Landorus-T or Cinderace) in Zacian-C cores when it is brought
3. Lapras is linear, a weak relatively weak Dynamaxer asides from G-Max Resonance and faces significant competition in its niches

This season there have, out of the 197 teams published been 11 cases of Lapras usage. Of those 11 cases, 9 have been with Zacian-C. Every other Pokemon in top Tier can be used with a large multitude of Restricted Pokemon. This is because Lapras has a crippling weakness, in order for it to be able to be useful and brought to matchups it needs Dynamax.

Asides from vs. Stall, it needs Dynamax in order to set up G-Max Resonance. Without this, it struggles significantly vs. Zapdos, Cinderace, Ferrothorn, Mimikyu, Urshifu and Tyranitar to name a few. The difference between Lapras and these Pokemon (as well as Landorus-T which it does beat, though +2 LO Max Rockfall will OHKO but that is a rare situation) is that those pokemon do not need to Dynamax to heavily impact a battle. It makes gameplans versus Lapras, even if Gmax Resonance is strong, easier to predict and execute. This is generally fine versus bad opponents, however at high ladder it is less effective. Furthermore, Gmax Resonance comes with the opportunity cost of being unable to Dynamax the strongest unrestricted Dynamaxers (Zapdos, Lando-T, Cinderace) in the tier. This is why I switched off Lapras and why I saw it less on streams and on ladder, especially when coming into the end of the season.

This is the usage of Zacian-C teams from Nouthuca this season.


Lapras is still used as a Zacian-C partner but far more rarely, on less than 20% teams. There are other ways to break through Stall that work equally well as Lapras whilst being more generally useful and we get to Dynamax Zapdos again which is just a bette way to win the game.

So there you have it.

Suggesting Lapras down to Great Tier.

PS: I should add the overall usage stats onto this, not that you can see Lapras on them:


Lapras used 11 times this season. It was on less top teams than Blaziken, on less top teams than Heatran, less top teams than Excadrill, less top teams than Dracovish which are all literally sitting there as Good pokemon. It is not even in the top 20 of non-restricted pokemon in usage (that means no Zacian, no Calyrex, no Ogre, no Eternatus etc.). It's pretty great wouldn't you say.

PPS: Don't believe old Ika in his analysis, I've been kind enough to translate some stuff from top Japanese players about Zacian-C archetypes and why they are picking pokemon like Seismitoad, Hippowdon and Swampert to pair with Zacian-C.

Most teams are not really considering Zacian + Lapras particularly seriously, the most common core in top ladder are:

Hippo/Swampert + Zacian-C + Zapdos

Utilizing Stealth Rock chip to put opposing pokemon in range of Zacian-C or Zapdos.

This Blog explains a bit about the rise in popularity of Hippowdon + Zacian-C cores to the forefront of the metagame, citing the 30th Leaf Blossom Cup (you can find a Youtube Video of the Semis/Finals Here). Funnily enough the winner also used Lapras, but the core that was brought to games was the Hippo/Zacian-C. Swampert + Zacian-C is a reaction in turn to Hippo + Zacian-C, where Swampert does the job of Hippo whilst also beating hippo and stopping the yawn cycle annoyance with Flip Turn.

Stealth rock + Yawn + Zacian-C + Dynamax Sweeper is just simply better than what Lapras has to offer.

There are some instances of people directly switching off of Lapras in Zacian-C archetypes:

Originally this team had Lapras over Dracovish but ended up hardly ever bringing it to battle and used Dracovish as a way to check Kyogre and to put pressure on opponents in team preview in a way that Lapras doesn't. It's honestly hard to find major Japanese commentary about why they aren't using Lapras because its not that common at the top of the meta. People aren't even teching for it much, they don't care, a load of pokemon beat it, getting up stealth rock and going into LO Zapdos is gonna be a pain even if you have dual screens because at the end of the day, one of you is Dynamaxing Zapdos, Cinderace, Urshifu, Landorus-T and one of you is Dynamaxing Lapras. Even pokemon that lose to it like Hippowdon are good against the Laprases that are typically thought of (Freeze Dry, Thunder, Sparking Aria, Sheer Cold) because you get to do your job anyways.

There were 22 Zacian-C teams posted that finished in the Top 100. Out of these four people used Lapras on their teams. I've translated a few of their comments on Lapras and its role within their particular team, how often it is brought and its utility against the overall metagame. Now this is not to say that Lapras doesn't work within their particular teams because it does, but we are comparing it to pokemon with omnipresence such as Zapdos, Mimikyu, Cinderace, Landorus-T, Urshifu, which put in work on most teams in a wide variety of situations.

Rank 8:

The guy uses Hippo + Zapdos + Zacian-C as the major core, Lapras is only used in a specific niche vs. Chansey/Quagsire/Tyranitar stall. It is the Lapras set with Sub, Freeze Dry, Horn Drill, Body Press.

Rank 14:

Got to 2k without Lapras and changed to Lapras in order to beat Kyogre, still ended up mostly losing to Ogre especially CM variants were doomed. Weakness Policy for Kyogre Thunder though the only standard Lapras here.

Rank 33:

Another non-standard Lapras with Substitute + Three Attacks. Sub is used so that Lapras doesn't just get Yawn Cycled by Hippo/Swampert as it usually does since you can yawn on Gmax Resonance, hippo/pert dies but then you get to set up with whatever for free and Dynamax so essentially you have the Dynamax Setup plus an SD or Nasty Plot versus no Dynamax leading to a typically disadvantageous situation for standard Lapras.

Rank 77:

Light Clay Lapras with Zacian-C, it actually has Sparkling Aria, Freeze Dry, Perish Song and Protect in order to try win in final mon situations after Zacian-C and screens went down. Unfortunately Stall with double physical walls such as skarm + quag just walls this, Meteor Beam Celesteela and Urshifu-RS also hard. Lapras is actually brought when it can be, but mainly just in Zacian-C matchup, other picks are generally brought vs. Calyrex Shadow, Eternatus and Kyogre.

Don't get me wrong, Lapras is a Great pokemon (see what I did there) and can do very well.
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BSS Circuit Co-host
Almost the end of the month! Hope everyone enjoyed Series 8 while it lasted. Here are the final ranking changes as we conclude the metagame.

Restricted Pokemon
:rayquaza: Niche --> Unranked: Drop to Unranked
:palkia: Unranked --> Niche: Rise to Niche

Non-Restricted Pokemon

:heatran: Good --> Great: Rise to Great
:rotom-wash: Niche --> Good: Rise to Good
:rotom-heat: Niche --> Good: Rise to Good
:incineroar: Unranked --> Niche: Rise to Niche
:klefki: Unranked --> Niche: Rise to Niche

Stay tuned for the release of our Series 9 Viability list, which should come out in the beginning of May!


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Nominating Gastrodon to good
:Gastrodon-East: :Gastrodon:

Honestly I think Gastrodon is a pretty damn good Kyogre check. He’s a water and electric immunity also brings sleep and reliable recovery to the table. Thanks to him not being afraid of really anything Kyogre can throw out, he’s more than capable of running a physically defensive spread, which can let him live a hit from Zacian and potentially ruin her with scald or yawn. Mirror coat and/or counter allow Gastrodon to have some offensive presence without any investment as well. Allowing him to bounce massive hits back at his attackers, potentially removing them from the game. Clear smog also deserves a mention, while Xerneas isn’t quite as popular as she has been in previous gens, she’s still quite scary on the occasion you do run into her, and gastrodon’s clear smog can potentially save you from a Xerneas sweep. Aside from xerneas, clear smog can potentially be useful to help stop other non steel setup mons, although with the prevalence of Zacian and other boosting steel types like NDM, this move can be tough to justify. Nonetheless, I think it deserves to be mentioned as something Gastrodon brings to the table.

Lastly, Gastrodon did make top 10 in usage last season, and while the absence of dynamax did change things quite a bit, imo this still speaks to Gastrodons potential as a well rounded and capable Kyogre check.

All in all, Gastrodon has a lot going for him, and I think that he deserves a bump to good.
Well...I'll give it a shot.

Nominating Centiskorch to Niche.

I'm doing good w/ it on my team, 69:57. It has a pretty good match-up vs. even some restricted, most nitably Zacian which is largely why I picked it to begin w/(my EV spread lives 2 Blades 98% of the time, less Atk and more Def could be run for Adamant Zacian I guess.) It's also good vs. Calyrex-S, living +2 non-LO Astral Barrage(it was sash, though it could set up since few know what Centiskorch could run) w/ AV(a good item for it since it can't really fit any status category moves.) Knock Off does not ohko maxed Caly-S, but Max Darkness does. It's also good vs. Xerneas and Caly-I(Lunge partially offsets WP too.) Lunge is also good vs. Necrozma to weaken it and not set off the policy, and it has Fire STAb for when it's in range. It can take hits from non-rock move Dialga, at the very least wasting its max. It's kinda bad vs. the rest of the list of viable legends, but it has utility vs. much of the non-restricted which I've obviously seen.

Cinderace is ofc a threat w. Airstream, but w/o Bounce it can't really do much. And there is still a small chance to live LO Bounce. Ferrothorn is ofc weak to this, and Fire Lash is a good move to break Mimi's Disguise cause you drop Def. TTar is a bad match-up for the most part, but bug STAB still hits hard, especially if it switched in on a Fire Lash(this happened and it switched right out into Rotom-W who took a Flutterby, I won.) Chansey and Darm-G do not do well against Centiskorch, and Celesteela both takes and gives SE damage so it's kind of a gray area. Regieleki 3hkos if it's not specs or physical/mixed. Ditto suffers from no SE hit to attack its copy w/ and loses cause of the HP difference. Going off 2 special sets and one physical in calc I think Dragapult is more special, and those can't do a thing, even maxed. Centiskorch gets Power Whip for Quagsire and Swampert, and can at least do a little to Hippo. Centiskorch not only takes the hits and can Knock Off the item from p2, it can further lower its Def w. Fire Lash. It beats non-Acrobatics Rilla very well, and can hurt Fini and Rhypherior even if it's not winning from full. It resists Blazikens STAB, can take a Rock Tomb from Excadrill, and beats Kartana. Lunge is helpful to break Pheromosa's sash and take less damage the next turn. Metagross loses, and Rotoms don't have great match-ups w/ this.

Unpredictability is good, a Gastrodon stayed in and died to Power Whip. Besides the other game w/ TTar/Rotom-W I've had it win vs. a Zacian, although it lost to one w. Psychic Fangs. The usefulness vs. Caly-S has come into play at least twice, and it even beat it after taking down a p2. It was good for Swampert when my other mon left was Regieleki that could only do a pittance w/ Ancientpower. My memory is not that great so that's all I got, I hope it's enough. I don't feel like I bring Centiskorch that much. I try to, in order to provide proof for it, but Airstream is common. That's why I just think niche, even though other flying weak mons are in higher tiers. But Centiskorch can't touch some mons like Ho-oh and Eternatus, while those other flying weak mons often can damage anything at least noticeably(i.e. Urshifu Wicked Blow/Surging Strikes and Rilla banded Grassy Glide.) Still, it has two good abilities to pick from, as well as good alternatives for Bug STAB in Skitter Smack and Leech Life. G-max Centiferno isn't anything unusual, basically the same as Zard's G-max move. But that's still good. Lastly Centiskorch has a few other options in Thunder Fang(idk what this would be for, but it's there,) Scorching Sands(the burn,) and Scald(er, also burn.) I may be winning in spit eof this mon not partially because of it, but I think my win ratio is slightly better w/ Centiskorch/ Lapras/ Ditto over Ace/ Amoonguss/ Blissey so that has to count for something.
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