The New Faces of UU

By LonelyNess.
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you are no doubt aware that the Underused tier went through a massive overhaul recently. The entire Borderline tier was abolished, and all Pokémon included were thrust down into Underused to be tested properly. The metagame that came about surprised many critics, myself included, and revealed itself to be remarkably balanced, with only a few culprits arising as "obviously BL."

The first few days of testing were a massive dog pile of randomness. People were testing anything and everything, whether it be Swords Dance Ludicolo or Choice Specs Spiritomb. It seemed that there no end to the sets that could be tried.

The sheer number of people involved in the test, however, caused the tier to be defined rather quickly. Seemingly overnight the less viable Pokémon were cast aside for the powerhouses that guaranteed wins. People quickly traded in their Charizard and Floatzel for Gallade and Azumarill and anything else that got the job done. Soon, it became clear which Pokémon were a bit too powerful.

The first obvious suspect to arise was Staraptor. The combination of its bulk, Speed, and amazing type coverage allowed it to easily dominate even the Pokémon which were designed to defeat it. Whether it be the Choice Band, SubRoost, or even the Scarf set, it didn’t seem to matter, and its mere presence in the tier forced many teams to employ multiple Pokémon as counters just to create a level playing field. After being placed as suspect and temporarily banned for a month, the community opted to send this beast back to Borderline where it belonged.

Secondly, there was Abomasnow, who single-handedly made an entire type of team viable. When paired with Walrein, Froslass, and other potent hail stallers, many teams were hard pressed to brave the weather. Under permanent hail, Walrein could set up Substitute on a whole host of Pokémon and proceed to Toxic and hail stall the majority of threats to death, all while maintaining its HP through Ice Body and Leftovers. Froslass only made hail teams even more potent by abusing Snow Cloak to set up Spikes that punished those who tried to switch out of Walrein. Not only that, but Abomasnow was not exactly a weakling itself. With its unique typing and nicely distributed stats, it became a premier Water- and Grass-type counter. With the frightening essential 180 Base Power of its 100% accurate Blizzard and Wood Hammer, Abomasnow could focus more on its defensive stats. Leech Seed sets could easily come in on Pokémon such as Milotic and Slowbro, set up a Substitute with no risk, and begin to wreak havoc with a deadly combination of Blizzard, Focus Punch, and residual damage. And as if that weren't bad enough, Abomasnow has access to Swords Dance and great STAB options in Seed Bomb, Ice Punch, and Ice Shard, making offensive sets viable to surprise the counters to the bulkier sets. During its ban period after being voted suspect, it was decided that UU was better off without permanent hail, and Abomasnow was voted overwhelmingly BL.

Gallade quickly made itself known in the tier as the premier wall breaker. With considerable special bulk, amazing physical prowess, and a movepool to rival Gengar’s, it is no wonder it was declared a suspect. Those without both a competent revenge killer and some way to cripple it through status were easily swept, or made so weak that they were easy pickings for another sweeper. While not nearly as unamimous as the votes for Staraptor and Abomasnow’s bannings, it was eventually voted to be placed in the BL tier.

Froslass and Raikou were far more controversial suspects. The former was a common lead during the end of the initial month of testing, second only to Crobat. Its ability to not only Taunt slower leads but also set up its own Spikes for the team, resulting in two layers at worst, and at best three layers and a kill from Destiny Bond, proved too much for the UU tier. Froslass was voted into BL by a slim margin, becoming the first Pokémon from old UU to be banned after the BL move down.

The latter, Raikou, was almost as close. The prevailing argument against it was that, regardless of whether or not individual sets could be beaten one on one by various Pokémon, many teams still fell short of stopping Raikou from sweeping. Furthermore, many of these counters did little on teams beyond stopping Raikou, and would otherwise have been totally unviable. That, coupled with the fact that one rogue Hidden Power spelled the doom for most teams, made clear to the majority that Raikou could not live peacefully in UU.

Crobat was lucky enough to avoid the ban hammer, as it was voted unanimously to remain in UU for further testing. While it was certainly the best lead and a very useful Pokémon, being able to stop the majority of leads single-handedly did not, in fact, make it broken. Heavy eyes will be upon it, however, as this previously suspect Pokémon will be under higher scrutiny compared to the rest of its UU brethren in the next cycles of UU testing.

Looking toward the future, predicting which Pokémon may become suspect is a bit difficult. With the downshifts of Crobat and Yanmega to UU, Shaymin’s time to shine may very well be coming to an end. Many people thought before the end of March that Shaymin’s venturing to BL was all but an inevitability. New possible suspects include Ludicolo, whose prowess in the rain is near unmatched, which, when paired with its ease in setting Rain Dance up for dedicated teams, makes its potential for removal from UU very possible. Uxie’s ability to both wall the majority of the tier's physical and special threats, coupled with its near endless support options, may very well earn it a path to the suspect house. And, finally, Yanmega’s appearance in UU may be a very brief one; even the small amount of time afforded to its testing has revealed it to be an extremely potent sweeper.

It’s hard to say where the UU tier will end up regarding who’s to stay and who’s to go, but you can bet it will be one hell of an interesting journey there.

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