OU SPL XV BW Discussion (and now some tiering discussion)


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OU Leader
RE: The Death of the Infamous BW OU Matchup Triangle,

The most generic outside criticism of BW OU is that it is too "match-up" heavy. Oftentimes people will (be it directly or indirectly) describe the tier as a match-up triangle with Sand beating Rain, weatherless HO beating Sand, and Rain beating weatherless HO. I have heard this SO many times and for years I let it be, but nowadays it is so far from reality that I thought it would be good to make note of.

At a point in time (say 4-6 years ago), this was an oversimplified version of some (but very much not all) metagame outcomes. Within the last few years, BW has distanced itself from this to such a substantial degree. The metagame never truly resembled a triangle and some common strategies just had dramatic match-ups across the spectrum in my honest opinion; Rain builds were not creative for the longest times and we saw so many recycled Sand builds, which allowed for HO to surge a couple years back and sprung a ton of different developments since. At this point the metagame has so many different variants of archetypes with dozens of possible innovation that it would be impossible to mistake the current metagame as the infamous triangle -- and anyone who does is wrong (yes, I will die on this hill).

Sands now take such a wide variety of forms ranging from HippoClef fat to MagicGuard Tar balance to up-tempo Sand BO with plenty of things filling in between; each has its own set of pros and cons that oftentimes lead to playability in the vast majority of opposing match-ups. Yes, certain types of Sand do better against certain other archetypes and worse against other -- trade-offs like this exist in every tier across every generation and anyone telling you otherwise does not know ball. Nowadays we see various Pokemon on Sand teams that we seldom did in say 2018 like Keldeo (for the zoomers: Keldeo was not used close to as much outside of Rain for a while), Clefable, Bronzong, Blissey, Latias, Seismitoad, Conkeldurr, Forretress, Slowbro, etc. -- this brings a totally different match-up spectrum and a totally different set of playing lines to each game. The ripple effects cannot even begin to be totaled within the confines of one bost, but the proof is in the usage stats and the games themselves.

Rain has taken a sizable hit in overall usage, but nowadays it is not used as frequently with "sample 6s" or "generic rain offenses" -- we used to live in an age where the same handful of Rain 6s were recycled with small edits for a couple of years. Nowadays we will see more builds with permanent pressure applied featuring offensive Starmie and creative synergy between the sets of key members like Politoed, Latios, and Thundurus-T. We have seen a lot less generic "slap on Scarf Lati here" as glue here mechanisms (among many other fallbacks) and more questioning of traditional structures. More Pokemon like Scizor find themselves onto Rain to increase playability into Psychics or Gyarados/Dragonite/Mamoswine find their way aboard to abuse certain specially defensive presences that previously were able to compress walling 2-3 slots into 1. You can go deeper and say we have also seen an uptick in Excadrill Rain, occasional unpredictable breakers like Freeze Shock Kyurem-Black or Substitute Kyurem, and so on. The point is that Rain has taken a hit in usage and, when it is used, we notice less struggling with generic bulkier Sand and more focus towards beating them down.

Finally, HO has completeny revolutionized itself within the last few years. SD Pursuit Scizor, Air Balloon Starmie, the "lead metagame" (likely a post on this later), Cloyster, and so on. We see new weatherless offense structures every single month it feels like. I feel like anyone who has followed the metagame since 4-5 years ago can firsthand attest to how different the usage and viability surrounding weatherless offenses is now vs then.

I think this SPL has done a particularly great job at showing how customizable building can be and how risk assessment is very much in the hands of the players, especially as they play if using appropriate teams (some teams are hit or miss still of course and that's fine). I think there is a lot less room to argue the metagame devolves to X beats Y, Y beats Z, Z beats X -- it is far more nuanced than that.


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OU Leader
RE: The Lead Metagame / Early Game Lines,

With HO seeing an uptick in usage, we have seen a wide array of leads on these teams and an even wider array of planned early game lines. Personally I like coming into every game with either a set idea of what I open with in every match-up or a good idea that can be flexible depending on what I see. Sometimes this is generic like "lead Aerodactyl and click Stealth Rock" or sometimes it is more nuanced like "lead Rotom-W and always Volt Switch on Ferro vs Rain, but Wisp vs Ferro on Sand -- Volt Switch if they do not lead with Ferro" etc... and so on. Obviously those are single examples and I tend to do thorough match-up testing/theorizing in advance of significant games, so there are dozens of different possibilities to factor into the decision tree for leads and early games.

I think we have seen a bit of an arms race when it comes to mapping out early games for offensive teams in particular, who look to seize the upper hand and never let it go. Falling behind a Pokemon or a sequence in an offense mirror in BW will oftentimes be the end of you after all; the metagame can play a bit more volatile and a bit less forgiving in these scenarios after all. As a player, you accept this when loading up these types of teams and you should come in with a set of plans and potentially even comfortable contingencies depending on the specifics of your team and your opponent's team.

While we have seen a ton of fat in this SPL and that probably has grabbed the most headlines in BW circles with the continued usage of Clefable, Blissey, etc., we still are seeing the offensive side of the metagame evolve, too. Just look at all of the viable leads/early-game offense strategies:
  • New age RH Aerodactyl
  • Classic Sash Aerodactyl
  • Sash Terrakion
  • Sash Tyranitar
  • Lead Landorus-T
  • Sash Garchomp
  • Lead Mew
  • Explosion Ferrothorn
  • Custap Skarmory
  • Sash Abomasnow
  • I am sure there are more I am forgetting, mb
And sometimes we even see certain things meant to abuse these like bluffing Scarf on a Jirachi, Landorus-T, or Tyranitar to try and bait Taunt vs SR mind games or counter-leading with your Starmie. Hell, some teams like my old HO use Sash Terrak + Sash Chomp in attempt to always get up SR and limit whatever threat comes with that/force a kill to open the floodgates. There are so many different ways to skin a cat and I think more people are realizing that the best way to be consistent in offense mirrors is to be very confident in how you proceed in the early game -- coming back oftentimes requires getting a lot of risky turns right after all. I see more players scouting out leads and sequences in replays than ever, which is something I have done for quite a few years myself as well. I find this pretty exciting and one of the main catalysts for the continued innovation within the realm of BW Hyper Offense -- I hope it keeps continuing this way and I do hope people who used HO shed some light on how they approach this, too.


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Big Chungus Winner
The metagame is ass. There is not a good balance between offensive and defensive threats (never has been as this tier is sort of an special case, tbh) and the solutions proposed in the last few years (all these meme votes and stuff) in order to try to make it better have been uneffective and/or insufficient.

When you look back and observe that memes like Cloyster have had a tiering vote before this thing, well.. Really makes you think.
Thundurus-Therian is simply too powerful for this metagame. Aside from random scarfers, the only pokemon that kills it reliably (100% of the time) while being faster is Specs Keldeo with Surf in rain. Latios folds to Thunder paras on the switch and can easily be EV'd to survive a Draco Meteor, as Specs or Life Orb aren't as viable as they were years ago. Blissey and Chansey get 1v1'd by Focus Blast if they switch into Nasty Plot, and the best they can do back is try to Toxic which can miss or fish for a random Ice Beam freeze if you even have the move. Random Grass Knot will knock out your Gastrodon or SDef Hippowdon on the switch. The list of such cases is pretty big and I don't think I need to further expand on it.
This pokemon arguably deserves a ban already, and if you have tried to actually build you know how much of a headache it is to keep this thing in check. I have no doubt the metagame will be way better without it and keeping it is a mistake.

I have always defended this thing as necessary in the tier, even being skeptical about the Sand Rush ban despite being absolutely stupid to deal with. Sand Force is not too far from its sister ability in terms of absurdity. Ever since people discovered SD can be used on it, you are not safe even running the second best counter in the tier (PhysDef Skarmory). I have lost the count of how many times I have seen or experienced myself Excadrill 1v1ing Skarmory after clicking Swords Dance and Iron Head. I still don't know how I feel about its presence, but I can say it is problematic to say the least. Obviously not in Thundurus-Therian tier as with offensive sets Excadrill dies pretty easily and has a lot more Pokémon that outspeed it, but unlike DPP Jirachi this mon has 35 more base Atk and a free Life Orb to sweep. Obviously, it is just Sand Force what I think can be argued about, Excadrill itself is necessary on the tier.


Simply vote again, and hopefully with a reduced list this time. Making top16 of BW circuit is not remarkable enough for tiering votes, I'm afraid.

Now... For a while I've tried looking at the list of Ubers and see if there is anything that can be dropped to add more diversity to the tier. The conclusions are the following:

Genuinely terrible, is not even used in the tier above (because it sucks). Wouldn't even reach top10 usage in OU. The only reason to mantain it in Ubers is because Smogon's garbage tiering policy does not want 680 BST in OU. Yeah, god tier bulk with an ability that soaks damage if HP at full. In a tier where Sand is permanent, Stealth Rocks are always up, status and Knock Off are as prominent, and Magic Guard users are law and order. How great. Clefable in gens 6-8 and Toxapex in 7-8 are far better than what this would ever be here. The tier would gain a great check to Dragon and Ground types, which are incredibly busted and hard to check. And to Volcarona, I guess. HO teams would probably struggle a bit to kill it but it is something that can be easily teched for without giving up too much. I expect nothing out of this suggestion, because again, tiering policy on the site is a meme.

Would be a nice addition for HO teams, which are really at an all time low in usage. The tier would also gain a good Spiker. Like Lugia, it pretty much suffers from the same problems except it is not weak to SR and has Pressure. Defensive sets might seem too annoying but I think it heavily suffers from 4MSS. Definetely worth a retest imo, only that would be able to tell if stall sets are too much, but I doubt it would differ much from Mew and Clefable in that regard.

The other mons that were OU at some point are too powerful to be up to consideration. Tornadus-Therian would be in the limbo but I predict its speed tier and versatility are still too much for the format to handle.

I would also like for other respected tournament players to post their thoughts on the metagame and their own suggestions to make it better.

Thanks for reading.
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latios is the most broken pokemon in this tier.

in a metagame dominated by permasand, sand force is problematic. it swings defensive matchups way too harshly, and counterplay to sd drill while using a slower team is extremely limited (see me running fuckin shed shell rock smash counter skarm in classic lol.)

thundurus-therian has too many options and is restrictive on teambuilding, problematic, and not even fun to use cause rain sucks. this pkmn is a broken waste of space.

adding lugia/deod to a metagame where we already have issues keeping pokemon in check doesn't seem like a good idea. esp deo-d, bc hazards are already an issue. we don't need another good setter.

if you want to make any changes, i'd test latios first. it's the most intuitive pokemon to immediately ban, as even though latias can't brainlessly replace it, we don't completely lose its offensive and defensive utility (in fact we may gain some against thundurus and waters).

i like bw and don't have a strong desire to actually change it, but i also did not have to metagame this tier for 11 straight weeks. i think banning latios, thundurus-therian, and sand force would likely improve the tier. we've had two terrible suspects in this tier so the next one should be more straightforward. start with latios if people want to make changes and see where it goes.


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OU Leader
I would also like for other respected tournament players to post their thoughts on the metagame and their own suggestions to make it better.
I don’t like the idea of adding Deoxys-D. It was cancerous way back when and Excadrill being around with Rapid Spin wouldn’t necessarily solve it now. Feel like it would just make the tier more of the extremes, forcing a lot of Xatu and cheese.

I think Thundy-T (alongside Latios) is one of the better targets for a vote or ban. I will bring it up to council and implore others to discuss it as well. It isn’t the most balanced and while it does well against the Sand balance everyone used to spam, there are other creative ways to disrupt that as well. NP 3A and 4A can threaten everything, but there’s also UTurn sets (especially with Pursuit) or other novelty sets that distinguish it. It initially wasn’t bad years back, but now we see more GK, NP Focus, UTurn, EVs for Draco or Scarf Hydro, etc. and suddenly there’s a lot more Thundy and it’s more threatening than ever.

Latios I would prefer not touching personally as it will end up a bigger mess than it’s worth for me, but I understand others want to discuss it and that’s fine.

Excadrill is a similar type of problem where it’s a huge threat, but arguably a necessary evil with where we are regarding hazards and the threat the SD SG set poses.

Lugia I haven’t thought about and don’t see it being a priority, won’t comment much on it now.

Volcarona is entirely balanced now without gems and I do not want to touch it. Cloy is still kinda dumb as we see new sets on it, but there’s at least some opportunity cost to it. Curious what others think on it. I’d be fine trying gems again if Cloy wasn’t allowed tbh, but I’m not sure it’s that simple.

Imo the metagame has never been super healthy or traditionally balanced, but there are a lot of cool ways players find to adapt and compensate. This is still the case, but it gets harder when things evolve to become more versatile threats. Older teams aren’t as good now, for example, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s just that building newer ones isn’t easy as there’s so much to account for between offense and fat. It makes playing the tier at a consistent level a chore.
Latios is the chief unfair mon of the tier, followed by Excadrill.

Latios is fast, powerful, Spikes immune, and can run any item or move it pleases to flip any matchup. It's weak to Pursuit and struggles to OHKO a few targets, plus relying on Draco gives your opponent setup opportunities. But I'm not sure that's enough to justify its presence in the tier. I get that the entirety of BW hinges on Latios' presence in the tier, but come on now. It pairs too well with Reuniclus/Alakazam, run any Latios + either of those combination and you get to see how stupid the mon is.

Excadrill's main issue is Sand Force. It's a free Life Orb in Sand. Unless you change the weather — when no weather setter can switch into the mole — you're in for a bad time. Add Iron Head's flinch chance and Excadrill's obscene health pool that make it tank weaker hits like Gliscor's Earthquake, and you have a mon that is too much for the tier. Mold Breaker would be fair, but good luck banning Sand Force with the way we tier things around here. Still, you have my support :wo:

I was talking about unbanning Lugia in BWCord a month or so ago. My instincts tell me it would be fine, but it's impossible to tell until it happens. It's super weak to passive damage and competes for slots with the other psychics (whom are likely all better than it offensively). Defensively, it's super bulky, but it's limited in what it can do. I'd be interested in an unban.

Deoxys-D is horrendous. Not a fan of the unban idea.

Thundurus-T is weird. Modest 0 Special Attack has a higher stat than anything else in the tier, plus perfect coverage, boosting moves, and U-Turn. I'm a fan of that U-Turn Thund-T + Mamo sample team. Thanks to how high it's SpAtk is it can be bulked out to tank just about anything except the most insane moves. Yet, Rain is struggling, and without Thunder's bullshit power + paralysis chance it loses a lot of threatening power. Not sure if I'd ban it.

As for Gems, I'm not super strong on them. I'm more on the ban side, but not adamantly so. It's not even Cloyster (whom we're seeing is now running a mixed set that I find interesting), but other staples like Latios and Breloom that worry me with gems coming back.

Here's my hot take of the quarter: ban Spikes.
Talking about banning Thund-T is insane larp when the following has been the trend for the last however many years:

| 13 | Politoed | 14 | 14.58% | 35.71% |
| 18 | Thundurus-Therian | 12 | 12.50% | 33.33% |

Let's also take a glance at

| 15 | Reuniclus | 13 | 13.54% | 76.92% |


| 22 | Blissey | 9 | 9.38% | 77.78% |
| 24 | Clefable | 8 | 8.33% | 75.00% |

Are usage stats the end all be all? No, but combined with a working brain you can paint an overall picture: sand balance is still the dominant style. Banning Thundurus or introducing Lugia(?) only furthers this skewed dynamic. The same applies for banning Excadrill, Keldeo, Cloyster or Volcarona - making sand spikes even better. The only valid option would be to test Latios as it is a major strain for rain and weatherless alike. We can still use Latias for defensive niches with some power, while not being as outright strong as its brother. I'm not certain that test should be done but it's the only non-insane option.

latios and sd excadrill are the most broken elements of the tier. i don't think any of us have the wherewithal to solve the bw balancing conundrum if we really decide to pluck out all the broken elements.

i view thundurus a similar vein to volcarona: consistently oppressive, can hugely swing and 6-0 matchups, and i hate playing against it. thund has way more flexibility but is (to be its most effective) rain reliant. i don't really know what i would do about it to maintain the integrity of the tier too. to be determined.

and yes i am speaking in pragmatic terms. because we have always handled this tier pragmatically. and who has the time to be anything but?

i think banning latios is probably the way to start. if shit starts to feel worse, then we might have to put on the safety goggles and go thru some really unfun tiering discussions.

but let's start somewere.

i agree with soulwind in a lot of ways. if the best pilot the tier has to offer can no longer pilot in a way that feels consistent+good, we ought to intervene.
Are usage stats the end all be all? No, but combined with a working brain you can paint an overall picture: sand balance is still the dominant style. Banning Thundurus or introducing Lugia(?) only furthers this skewed dynamic. The same applies for banning Excadrill, Keldeo, Cloyster or Volcarona - making sand spikes even better.
What if we test Spikes?

No, seriously, Spikes in BW is so broken. Unless you're running cake recipe structures like HO or Rain or MGuard spam, Excadrill is pretty much mandatory so you don't get farmed by hazards and even then you still might. And even then, sometimes the spin isn't even useful, it's Excadrill himself that has to be the hero and rob because he's broken too.

Spikes+MGuard teams have highkey solved BW for a few years now, only having poor matchups when specifically thought about, until a new version appears and dominates again. This is the first year Excadrill rose to #3 above Ferrothorn and that is crazy. Only ADV is comparable but even then Starmie is much better and there's MagDoll and a bunch of hazard immune mons.

That said, I support testing everything mentioned except DeoD because late BW1 was very traumatic. Incredibly cancerous metagame with Deo HO everywhere (although no Excadrill).
I like current bw alot. You can outplay p much any MU, and building is also fun.

If I'd look into something its Cloyster (cheese) and Latios first. That being said im under the conclusion that you cant nuke Latios before nuking Thundurus-T first.

Also, i'm against retesting Deoxys-D and I'm suprised that suggestion even came up. That shit was outright ridic' when it was around. Defensive sets weren't really a thing, but sucide Leads were, and those were p much impossible to ko, and iirc became the dominant playstyle for a while.


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Big Chungus Winner
First of all, appreciate that tournament players posted their thoughts. This will probably be my last post on the matter, and since I pretty much said all I wanted in the previous one it is going to be brief.

I am extremely against the idea of Latios ban. To me, the purpose of tiering is to have the least bans possible. We need to understand the power level increases with each gen. Latios' power level is less restricting than Thundurus-Therian and Sand Force Excadrill, even if it is an outright better mon. A ban would be really catastrophic and certainly would lead to even more bans, probably the likes of Keldeo, Volcarona, Thundurus-Therian, etc. And we are talking about a decade and half old format. Latios is the cornerstone of the metagame, alongside Tyranitar. Water and oil. It feels so easy to keep in check that I barely remember outright losing to it, other than the game on Sunday where suboptimal changes to my team made me really weak to the CM set my opponent brought. The domino effect would just make the tier too unstable for a while and we should avoid that.

Regarding Thundurus-Therian, I still feel the same way. The only scenario where it would seem realistic to me to let it stay is if Gems were unbanned. Like stated previously, the big issue is how hard it is to kill it in a reliable way. Gems would obviously increase those chances. Yes, rain usage has declined a lot, and the only reason to use it is because of how much Thund can carry through a matchup. But it is not hard to position yourself with a timely pivot to enable setup. It will hardly win a game by itself, but by the time it dies, in the hands of a good player the damage done will be more than enough. Sometimes even just seeing it on the other side of the screen is sufficient to condition your way of playing the game.

Last thing. I just saw this is about to go up. Sounds like a good opportunity to test the waters. I assume BWPL will start soon as well, same thing. I'd play both tournaments if changes done were enough to justify fresh and new building and not just see the teams we saw in the past few months being constantly reused again. Don't wait to take action and settle on something soon, we have no reason to wait until Classic is over by November to see changes that are needed.


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OU Leader
I very much hope we do not ban Latios. I philosophically disagree with banning it. I think it would hurt the tier in the short term without assuring it helping in the distant future either.

By definition, you can argue Latios is broken in a traditional sense. True counters are limited and checks are more determinant on sets, the state of the game, and the composition of both teams in any given battle. Had this been a current generation and we had the ability to quickly interact with tiering and deal with the fallout within a matter of weeks, I would be ok with a suspect on a Pokemon like this.

But that’s not the case. Banning Latios would cause a ripple effect that would take many cycles of BW tournaments and evolutions of the metagame to understand the ripple effects of. And then you have to do the same with the various other bans it likely leads to and the potential consequences of all of these.

You guys see how hard it is for any action to happen in the first place in an old generation: look at the deadlock with Cloy/Volc before SPL or various other things. Imagine how much time and effort it would take to even respond to something as central to the tier’s identity as Latios going, let alone the ripple potentially touching Keldeo and certainly ThundurusT, which is already overbearing. This would take so many years just given how slow old generations evolve relative to new generations with more tournaments and more lively/active playerbases. It goes against how I personally view the spirit of old generation tiering to completely deface and reframe a metagame to that degree. I wouldn’t have much interest in BW beyond that point. That’s not saying it’s a firm no from the council as I’m just one guy and others can do what they please of course, but it wouldn’t ever be my choice.


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first and foremost a thundurus-t ban is a terrible idea. I completely agree that it's near impossible to prepare for in the builder and the proper set will always wreak havoc, but viewing the mon as a whole shows that its quite underwhelming. Thundurus is significantly less dangerous outside of rain, and rain is a terrible playstyle which necessitates thundurus to have any value. politoed has the value of half of a real pokemon, ferrothorn is often relegated to suicide spiker, I'm of the opinion that tentacruel is a mediocre mon with poor mus vs most hazard setters/the only spinblocker/hates sand, latios is better in sand etc. options that would replace thundurus are often better in sand as well, such as keldeo and mamoswine. completely decimating a playstyle to avoid the admittedly annoying teambuilding pitfalls isn't worth it when the mon shows poor tournament results time and time again.

the real problems of the tier all revolve around the spikes conundrum. sand/mguard teams are visibly stronger than any other archetype, and avoid sheer dominance only through active metagaming against them. The strength of SD SF exca speaks to this, not only due to its role as a spinner but also as a massive threat in its own right, as well as its role as one of few reuniclus checks.

latios is arguably in and of itself broken, but also plays a massive role in what makes sand+mguard teams the pinacle of the metagame. Without latios landing a t-wave/large chip on tyranitar, reuniclus would be much easier to stop (alakazam as well, but it's in a poor place at the moment with the influx of fat). If you avoid facing off against latios with tar, it'll tear holes itself. Does banning latios actually solve this problem though? Some players had already experimented with Latias as a more secure keldeo/thundurus check, which does much of the same thing. However, Latias' relatively low damage output doesn't force the tyranitar interaction nearly as much.

As for the excadrill dilema, I believe its power level is slightly too high for the tier. However without its pivotal role as a viable spinner, spikes would completely dominate and we'd see the tier return to the state it was in a few years ago where there really wasn't a reason to avoid loading mguard sand unless trying to actively counterteam it (less viable with gems gone anyways). One could argue for unbanning gems/ditching excadrill, but it plays a positive role in facilitating alternative sand teams (keldeo sand, non-mguard fat) and avoiding some of the worst coinflip aspects of the tier.

What is the common theme of all of these problematic pokemon? Spikes. Without spikes latios has a much harder time vs its checks, excadrill can be looked at without collapsing the tier, reuniclus is much less threatening. even thundurus loses some potency. Looking at spikes through the lens of tiering would be a massive, unprecedented step but could be the hidden key to people's complaints with bw. I don't know if we're ready for that yet though, so looking at latios could be a viable way to slightly nerf the frontrunning teams, allowing people more room to deal with shit like excadrill.

With all this said though, I don't believe BW as a meta is nearly as terrible as some people make it out to be. I think theres room for some variety and innovation within the builder, and teams have the tools to outplay most mus with proper play.

Do nothing -> look at latios -> look at spikes


the burger
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World Defender
gonna address some of the suggestions in this thread and also provide some additional takes i myself have about the tier in its current state (speaking for myself only, not the bw council)

right now the most broken element i see in the tier is excadrill by a considerable margin. i have stated this sentiment before and i will say it again: i think drill is simply too strong to be in the tier. its attack stat is top 3 in ou and it gets a free life orb boost to both its stabs in sand while being immune to its passive damage. the options to counter it have greatly decreased over time, as we've seen multiple skarms simply die to flinches from sd sets (in my spl game it even died to a scarf drill to 1 flinch + 1 crit) and rotoms lose to flinches + sand/status chip and/or subs fishing for pump dodges. the current way most balanced teams handle drill is via a combination of fast landorus-t to outspeed + rotom-w in the back or via skarmory/bronzong. there are no other answers to it defensively, and all these answers can potentially drop to particular sets and/or iron head flinches. it's not even bad luck too, because in the long term a few iron head flinches are bound to happen. there's also another factor that pushes drill a bit over the edge for me which is the mold breaker possibility. the existence of mold drill prevents you from building a solid team with levitating mons as your sole ground resists, as now rotom-w and bronzong, two of sand force drill's best answers in the tier, are suddenly worthless against it. the strain it puts on teambuilding is very evident and unhealthy in my eyes, and even when you are completely prepared for it sometimes it's not enough to prevent it from winning the game on its own (particularly vs defensive teams; i recognize drill is definitely not as good when facing more offensive-oriented stuff).

when it comes to latios, i think the tier has adapted to a point where all teams have a number of options to deal with its most common sets defensively at this point. right now i'd say scarf and colbur cm are much more common than specs, and those sets can be managed by all of tyranitar, jirachi (which saw a huge rise in popularity over the last year), ferrothorn, scizor, celebi, skarmory, heatran, bronzong and a few others. i do reckon latios has potential to beat all of these mons, but i don't wanna go too deep into this conversation. unlike drill, however, i think latios is balanced in bw.

main reason being is that latios is held back by the most defining pokémon in bw: tyranitar. it's not like it's an unreliable answer too; if your latios isn't colbur it will die to tyranitar in almost every game it faces one. and if it's running colbur you only get one more round of damage but still die to it most of the time. latios is easier to kill with chip damage as well because, unlike drill, it's not immune to sand. it's often the only realiable switch-in to scald in certain teams, which means it's prone to getting burned much more frequently too. it dies to pursuit from tyranitar. it dies to pursuit from scizor. it can't muscle its way through its defensive counters like drill can because its moves are not as spammable + don't have that 30% flinch chance.

we all know that latios and drill are mons that both serve a "healthy" purpose in the tier apart from all of this, however. the main argument for latios being that it's one of the best answers to keldeo and thundurus-therian (but also to scald as a whole), the main argument for drill being that it's a mon that evens the playing field vs spikes stacking teams (particularly magic guard ones), giving sand balance some different builds. i can understand people's sentiments when it comes to either of these being broken despite these additions they bring to the tier.

like i said, however, i am of the opinion that drill simply doesn't offer enough at this point to warrant its stay in the tier. as abr pointed out in his post, reuniclus still sits in the top of bw usage with a considerably high win ratio. i disagree with the conclusion abr reached in his post, though. we originally unbanned drill with the sole purpose of evening out the playing field vs spikes stacking mguard teams. so if those teams, even years after the drill unban, sit at the top of usage in bw tournaments, and still have ridiculously high win ratios... then what exactly is drill adding to the tier? like i mentioned before, the only thing it does, in my eyes, is bring diversity to sand builds. it doesn't alter the fact that spikes teams are still oppressive against other playstyles, and it doesn't change the status quo of spinners in different weathers (tenta/mie are far, far better options than drill in rain teams, and i honestly think forry is an overall more consistent option in hail as well). i'm not gonna say it's completely useless apart from adding that diversity for sand builds, but i do think the "balance" it brings to the tier has constantly been extremely overrated by the community.

from my perspective, drill has showed us time and time again it is a problematic pokemon no matter what we do to it. banning sand force is not an option at this point considering there is no other pokemon in ou that even uses the ability. we also cannot target sand as a whole, because we are dealing with a 10+ year old tier and completely guttering its most defining element makes no sense at this point. so what can we do?

in my eyes, the ideal way to target bw right now would be to simply ban excadrill and unban sand rush. this is what i voiced in council and is the opinion i stand by here. i think the excadrill unban should've never happened to begin with, because it came with the perception that it would even the playing field vs spikes mguard teams for other playstyles, but that's not the correct approach i think we should take with our tiering. if those spikes mguard teams have broken components then we should address those components themselves, not bring another broken element to the tier to even the playing field. those components, for what its worth, are also as bad vs other archetypes as latios is. reuniclus is the main offender here in my eyes, as it has also showed us repeatedly that it can make matchups completely lopsided, particularly vs rain teams. if you're not running specially defensive jirachi then your best bet to beat reuniclus with rain is by overpowering it with strong attackers (thundurus/keldeo) or by encoring it with politoed. the first are not an answer after 1 calm mind, the latter can be easily chipped throughout a match.

when it comes to thundurus, i think rain finds itself in too weak of state to warrant a ban on it at this point. thundurus is the only reason why you'd ever run rain in bw in its current state, so banning it would completely kill the playstyle. i think it's a pokemon that we can visit later, but not the main issue with the tier right now. if anyhting, i think the "healthy element" it brings to the tier rn (making rain viable) far outshadows what drill brings.

in regards to unbanning elements from ubers, that kinda falls in line with what i said ealier in this post. i don't think bringing down broken pokemon to balance broken pokemon is a correct approach to tiering. that said, i do think lugia/tornadus-t could be healthy additions to bw ou. it's something i think we could look into in the future, not right now though.

all that said, i think if any action should be taken right now, it should be directed towards excadrill and not latios. if spikes mguard teams prove to be to too powerful after a drill ban, we can target reuniclus or maybe even spikes themselves later on, like we should've done years ago.

when it comes to the benefits of banning drill, well for one we would bring back a playstyle that is much more aligned with bw's main characteristic as a tier (permanent weather) while being more balanced vs other teams. this playstyle puts more emphasis on playing around weather, which is something i appreciated a ton about bw in its earlier stages.

those are my thoughts for the time being. i appreciate the opinions being ventilated in this thread and i hope we can maybe test some of these ideas out in a tournament in the near future to study a potential metagame.
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SoulWind how do you feel about the prospect of a spikes ban/limitation?
Seems like a bad idea because its only purpose would be to generate an even more offensive oriented metagame but not entertaining enough (to me) as it would be boring to play the same metagame with one of its defining elements out the equation. I would only find said entertainment in allowing back broken offensive mons like Genesect or Tornadus-Therian and have the 99% of games be a battle of who has the best pure positioning and playing skill, something that is out of reach in the unpredictable game of Pokémon and something that I doubt anyone other than a handful would truly enjoy.

There is time to experiment other possible metagames so I hope that at least BWPL is used for this purpose.
Considering it was already at 50% during last vote while having a detrimental double suspect format, and the fact that some of the people who voted no now wants it banned, the only pokemon we can get action on right now is Cloyster. Finch's post in the BW OU Hub summarizes it well.

Please don't waste our time with some Thundy, Latios or even Excadrill (no disrespect but crazy take) suspect right now, the support for those are nearly not enough to get anything done.


policy goblin
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I'll start off by saying I actually think the BW metagame is in a good place right now, the teams and games in SPL were by-and-large super engaging, though I may be biased as a helper of Fakes who just piloted our teams like a cyborg every week.

My tiering priority remains the same as after the January suspect:

Cloyster - This mon is straight cheese, part of the reason I found SPL was so good was the fact that people weren't fishing with this guy but I'm confident its time will come again. We did a lot of building with the Mixed set which is really absurd, it can run almost no speed to pump up both attacking stats and still be fast enough for what it needs. Almost all the checks / counters people raved about in the suspect thread get dropped by this thing - Keldeo, Slowbro, Forret, Magnezone, Reuniclus etc just drop to the special moves, its a really dumb mon. By the end of the tournament our approach to Cloyster was just to tech a slot to deny set up on every mon (including some ludicrous stuff like EPower Lando which is ass tier but kind of necessary on what we ran) because if you aren't doing this, then you're likely at the mercy of its set diversity if you ever get slightly out of position. It exists purely to try and generate autowins off of what should be safe Pokemon clicking safe moves (SR Landot and Gliscor) and I continue to find it a pain to have to Cloy-proof my teams, on top of the actual good Pokemon I need to cover.
Regarding other stuff in this thread:
Latios and Excadrill I think are necessary evils. Latios is a glue support mon to me right now rather than some unstoppable offensive threat - sets like Specs are a luxury that most teams can never afford to run because it gets so much value out of being unchoiced. I think, if anything, having a one slot revenge killer to Keldeo Thundurus Garchomp Terrakion, which is also Spike/Ground immune, and a sturdy Water/Fight resist, is a huge teambuilder enabler rather than restricter.
I'm open to some kind of Latios suspect but I do worry that we'd be trying to strike a sweet spot between replacement Latias being just good enough offensively to keep Keld/Thund in check, whilst being a sufficient enough nerf to where PsySpikes strategies aren't overbearing. Thats a very narrow needle to try and thread and its very possible we end up in a situation where either 1) Latias is just too weak to really be decent counterplay to Keld Thund or 2) we realise actually that our issues with Latios go beyond just its SAtk stat and so much of its role is about support of other Psychics, and we continue to have the similar issues even with Latias + Spikes + Reun/Zam.

I would 100% be up for a suspect of Sand Force, this is something we've discussed in the discord this SPL. Excadrill is a positive influence as the only decent sand spinner in the meta but it is just ever so slightly too strong + its wacky HP stat means it gets huge amounts of versatility regarding EV spreads. You can run fast Gliscor and still lose to SD Excadrill because its crazy stat spread allow it to invest decent amounts in PDef at times, or you can attempt to rkill it with Latios only to realise its SD with like 200 SDef. Its just too strong + crazy typing + EV spread / nature diversity which is hard to determine from the calculator. If you go back to Ojama's initial unban Drill thread, the proposal was to unban Mold Breaker Excadrill only and I can assume the reason this didn't go ahead in this way was because it was not believed Sand Force would be overbearing. I think we've got a sufficient body of evidence that Sand Force actually turns a great support Pokemon into a borderline suspect in its own right, and I would like to explore any options we could to enact the initial vision that the Excadrill unban proposal had - give us an Excadrill that cannot offensively abuse Sandstorm.
The only other Pokemon on my radar would by Thundurus-T and Reuniclus. Thundurus-T's low winrate points to part of its issue, this guy's entire existance is "uncounterable if I hit my moves and/or get secondary effects", its literally just playing games with 30%s vs a hyper specialised killing machine. Thund-T has every tool in its arsenal to be an elite offensive mon from boltbeam coverage with 145 satk, nasty plot and agility, uturn, 30% paralysis chance to deny pivoting around its STAB. Its purely nerfed by the consistency of its attacking moves, which is incredibly unengaging. Very often you get into unavoidable midgame states vs this mon where its like, ok well i need him to not hit 3 70% acc moves in a row, i need him to not para the latios on switch, i need him to not tank this latios meteor after SR (most bulky spreads are ~50-50 on this), everything about Thundurus-T just lets the odds play the game and it never feels fun.

Reuniclus in contrast has had an insane SPL and continues to reinvent its structures every 2 years, now with paralysis-focused HippoClef builds. I'd probably argue that a lot of the issues people blame on Latios rn are actually the result of Reuniclus. I think as we get more optimal building and playing with Reuniclus we realise how poor some of the "answers" to it are - Chople Tyranitar without spin support is simply not reliable Reuniclus counterplay, Skill Swap is an 8 PP gimmick that gets burned out in passive mirrors, Encore is also 8 PP which Reuniclus can pretty easily outlast, SD Gliscor loses to CM Ice etc. We saw multiple games in SPL where the optimal win path was simply to paralyse Reuniclus and set-up your own Calm Minds alongside it which is fine unless... both players are going for the same endgame, and then its just degeneracy. This win route vs Reuniclus is remarkably common and the only reason we don't often see it as an issue is due to how rare Reun mirrors tend to be. I love abusing this mon + working with it in the builder but it is objectively really really silly, and is the true root of the Spikes + Latios issue, not Latios itself.
tl;dr -
priority - suspect Cloyster,
maybes - consider if there is any way to suspect Sand Force, consider Thund/Reun,
don't even think about deo-d fml
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Finnick Odair

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as a rather "new" player to BW OU I thought that I'd include my opinion on the tier based off of this spl

last SPL I barely built any of my teams as Excal did most of the work for me, but for this SPL I built like probably 7 of the 11 teams that I used. From my building experience, rain teams kinda blow for the most part and I think it's quite easy to fit in a check or two to thundy-t so I wouldn't recommend banning that. However, Excadrill is something that I legitimately would consider suspecting. I think that BW OU is an extremely luck based tier rn and I think the player that gets the better crits/misses/whatever kinda RNG like almost always wins. I don't necessarily believe that there is anyway to change that but I think an Excadrill ban would be a great start. I think the best example of Excadrill doing stupid shit is my game vs SoulWind during the regular season. I'd like to preface this and say, I did not play this game that well as letting skarm get both para'd and knocked was a massive misplay on my part. However, the team he brought was very common and runs swords dance > substitute so I assumed i always had rotom-wash and a scarf volcarona (kinda memey but I thought it'd catch him off guard) to deal with it if skarm went down. However, sub drill pretty much can always beats rotom-wash if sand is up and in the game you see excadrill plow through a sand team that it really shouldn't have that great of an MU against. Excadrill requires multiple checks and its plethora of set options make it extremely hard to check for most non-HO teams. I think it's by far the most problematic mon in the tier at the moment.

But here's my problem with an Excadrill ban: if we were to ban Excadrill, we would have legit 1 viable spinner (tentacruel) and 1 somewhat viable spinner (starmie) because forretress is mostly a meme. This would just render using pokemon that don't fly, levitate, or have magic guard on sand teams practically unusable bc spikes will be on every team considering how broken they are. Sure, drill-less sand teams can and do work but they all look pretty much the same and an Excadrill ban would basically mean all ttar sand teams will look something like ttar-lati-skarm-zam-gliscor/lando-filler with like little to no room for versatility.

This being said, if Excadrill were to be banned we would seriously have to consider banning spikes as well because I don't personally see how a sole Excadrill ban would help the tier at all. As for Latios, I personally don't think its that broken but it is definitely strenuous on the builder and with innovative sets like CM+colbur it can kinda plow through teams that use ttar as the primary resist. I think looking into Latios isn't a terrible idea but I'd rather focus on Excadrill/Spikes before anything else.

Also in terms of cloyster, I think it's quite easy to include multiple checks to it no matter what kind of playstyle youre using but its a brainless fish pokemon that requires little to no skill so I wouldn't mind banning that either.
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M Dragon

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My opinion about Latios is the same than it was when I posted in that PR thread. I think that it has a very important role in BW balance, and removing it would have a huge effect in the metagame, and we don't even know if the metagame will be better without it.

About Excadrill, I think that Sand Power Excadrill is the most broken pokemon in BW atm, but after thinking a lot about it, banning it would make Spikes too strong, and we would have to ban Reuniclus, Magic Guard or Spikes, which is a route I wouldn't like to take, because hazards are a core part of the BW metagame. If a Sand Force ban was possible, that would be the best next step in my opinion, but as Elodin said, banning Sand Force is not an option at the moment.

About Cloyster, I think it is a hit or miss cheese pokemon that adds nothing to the tier. I wouldn't mind it getting banned.

About Thundurus-T, I think that banning Thund will be another nerf to rain, a playstyle that is already weak at the moment. It wouldn't be a good thing for the meta. Also, as ABR pointed, it is a pokemon with a 33% winrate at the moment, which is very bad.
And here's the problem with BW tiering every year. Everyone thinks the tier should change, but nobody agrees on what should change. Not a single repeating opinion among all top players of the tier in this thread. It's very hard to justify taking any action when nobody agrees what's wrong. Can we at least use BWPL to test some stuff though? Some bans, unbans, whatever.


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Can we at least use BWPL to test some stuff though?
Actually yes, probably. And maybe a 'suspect tour' of some sort with a (small) money prize, too. Talking to people on this and working on stuff.

Sad thing is these measures normally still provide limited samples and people draw different conclusions, so I am not sure the gridlock you alluded to will be solved.

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