OU: Playing with Fairies

By Valmanway. Art by Sephirona.
« Previous Article Home Next Article »


Let me give you a history lesson. Back in GSC, two new types were introduced: Dark and Steel. They made quite an impression on Pokémon fans, and they left quite the impact on competitive gaming, but for 3 whole generations after that, no new types were introduced. Along the way, speculation stirred up, saying that there were going to be new types, such as the Light- and Sound-types (Sound? Really? Were you people even trying?), but no such things came around. Then Pokémon X and Y were announced, and speculation resumed as normal, but then on June 11, a new type was announced: the Fairy-type.

Now the Fairy-type is something you could call the anti-meta type. It has unique traits that no other types can replace, having resistances to Bug-, Fighting-, and Dark-type moves, while nailing the latter two super effectively. Not bad. But what caught the eyes of millions was the fact that Fairies were immune to Dragon-type moves. That's right, they're 100% immune to any and all Dragon-type moves, so they can take a Kyurem-B's +6 Outrage and not feel a goddamn thing. A Choice Specs Latios's Draco Meteor to a Fairy is like someone throwing a dust bunny at you. And if that wasn't enough to catch your attention, they also nail Dragons super effectively. Knowing all these mighty feats, it's no surprise that Fairies are a big influence in today's metagame; just the presence of having the Fairy-type, whether as an attack or the Pokémon itself, has left a major dent in the viability of memorable OU threats, such as Terrakion, Hydreigon, and Kyurem-B. But that's not all; due to their Dragon immunity, they sometimes replace a defensive Steel-type on teams, leaving Steel-trappers, namely Magnezone and Dugtrio, little meaning in OU. With all things considered, it seems that Fairy-types are the new all powerful type around... or so some would think.

While they have important resistances, they also have surprising weaknesses in Poison and Steel. Now in the past, Poison- and Steel-type moves were generally regarded as poor offensive types, seeing use only for STAB options, and even then, there were other options to consider. But Fairy-types are such an influence to this generation's metagame that people have been using up a whole moveslot dedicated to a Sludge Bomb or Iron Head, purely to land a blow to Fairies; in fact, some Pokémon such as Gengar use something like Sludge Wave more for the sake of hitting Fairy-types rather than the STAB itself. Some people even say being able to hit Fairies super effectively is mandatory, and there is some truth to this. But not all Fairies are the Fairy Tail brand Dragon Slayers that we make them out to be. Some have terrible stats while others have a poor movepool, and some are just outclassed by other Pokémon at a certain role, and they also have to work their way around popular Pokémon that reside in OU, such as Scizor, Gengar, Ferrothorn, Aegislash, and Skarmory, as well as Pokémon with renewed strengths, such as Bisharp and Mega Venusaur. This article will be about the Fairy-types of OU, how old Pokémon benefited from gaining a Fairy-typing, how new Fairy-types have managed to adapt to OU, and how Fairy-types overall have impacted the game as a whole.


Typing: Fairy
Stats: 95 / 65 / 65 / 110 / 130 / 60

As Sylveon was the first Fairy-type introduced, we'll start with her. Looking at her stats, she gives the impression of being not only a tankish Pokémon, but she also stands out as an effective cleric. Having support moves in Light Screen, Reflect, Wish, Baton Pass, Calm Mind, and Heal Bell, she can be a seriously good team player, and an important one at that. Sylveon is one of the few OU viable Pokémon that's pure Fairy, so she lacks any 4x weaknesses or any additional weaknesses. She's also unique because she isn't compete dead weight when she's hit with Taunt, thanks to Pixilate-boosted Hyper Voice backed by base 110 Special Attack. Her gigantic Special Defense isn't to be taken lightly, as even a few Choice Specs-equipped attackers will have a hard time scoring a 2HKO against her. In terms of how her presence has affected OU, she has seriously put a dent in the viability of once prominent threats, such as Keldeo and Hydreigon, due to not only resisting the attacks that target her Defense, but also having the Special Defense to sponge their other attacks, and hitting them super effectively is a perfect bonus. One notable difference between her and other clerics is she can be a somewhat effective slow sweeper, as with the previously mentioned Calm Mind to power up moves such as Hyper Voice, Psyshock, Stored Power, and Shadow Ball, she can pull off a surprisingly good offensive set, and if sweeping goes wrong, you can just Baton Pass the Calm Mind boosts to a teammate so they can try their hand at sweeping.

But as with all clerics, she does have some major shortcomings. Being weak to Bullet Punch sucks, and Scizor won't be pulling any of them against her. In fact, near every Steel-type can come in safely on her and either set up or KO her with a Steel-type move. Because her Defense is much lower than her Special Defense, pretty much every physical attacker whose moves she doesn't resist will give her a headache. Even though switching in could be dangerous, Pokémon with Psyshock can also pose a threat to her, such as Latios, Latias, Reuniclus, and Alakazam. And while she isn't completely defenseless after being Taunted, she loses the main reason for being put on the team, and with only 60 Speed, even naturally slow Pokémon such as Skarmory and Heatran can Taunt her to death. Another flaw is her susceptibility to all forms of hazards, hampering her walling abilities. Another factor to consider is the fact that clerics like Chansey and Blissey exist, who have more overall bulk, can pass Wishes with much more HP, and have Natural Cure to get rid of their status so they don't have to use Heal Bell just for their own condition.

Her flaws do weigh her down heavily, but her merits certainly do the defensive Fairy-type name good.


Typing: Fairy / Water
Stats: 100 / 50 / 80 / 60 / 80 / 50

Azumarill was always a respectable Pokémon; she just had a few shortcomings in being predictable, lacking the ability to wield Aqua Jet + Belly Drum, and not having a lot of options in general, but X and Y changed all that. She was fortunate enough to get on the Fairy retyping bandwagon, which netted her a strong STAB move in Play Rough. She can also now use Belly Drum and Aqua Jet on the same set to start a sweep, and with old checks such as Jellicent and Vaporeon sinking to UU, she has more sweeping opportunities than she did in the past. She can also use a very effective Choice Band set, giving her opponents some trouble when they expect the Belly Drum set. But even if she has no boosts, she can still hit incredibly hard. And with the part Fairy typing, she has a few more switch in opportunities, such as jumping in on an Outraging Dragonite or a Goodra firing off a Draco Meteor, as well as being able to take moves like Close Combat and Megahorn with confidence to spare. She's even one of the few Pokémon that got a little stat buff. Unfortunately, she got it in her... Special Attack... damn it, Game Freak, either buff your Pokémon right or don't buff them at all.

Sadly, when she inherited a Fairy typing, it did nothing for her Grass- and Electric-type weaknesses. She also gained a Poison weakness, which makes Toxicroak and Amoonguss good checks to her, as well as losing her Steel resistance, making the lives of Scizor and Bisharp much easier. And while having Belly Drum is her greatest strength, you could also say it's a fatal weakness, as she loses half of her health upon use and either forces players to run Sitrus Berry on her or hope they can stomach a hit, and if you force her out, using Belly Drum was for naught. Another threat is physically defensive Rotom-W, since he can take anything except a boosted Play Rough and proceed to either deal large amounts of damage through Volt Switch or fire off a Will-O-Wisp and cripple her for the match. But arguably the biggest threat to her is Mega Venusaur, with her Grass / Poison typing giving her resistances to Aqua Jet, Waterfall,Play Rough, and Superpower, and Thick Fat to make Ice Punch neutral, while Azumarill is vulnerable to the powerful Sludge Bomb, as well as Giga Drain, which can allow Venusaur to heal off damage. Even specially defensive Mega Venusaur can even avoid the OHKO from a +6 Play Rough, and if she is physically defensive, she can even live a +6 Waterfall in the rain, a testament to how bulky Mega Venusaur really is. Azumarill also lacks recovery once her Sitrus Berry is eaten, so it can be easy to wear her down through passive damage. To make things worse, when Aqua Jet isn't strong enough, her low Speed becomes rather glaring to the point where people notice that she can't outrun Aegislash, Sylveon, or even Blissey.

She has some issues to iron out, but when people have a debate about which Pokémon benefited the most from a Fairy retyping, Azumarill is usually the tie-breaker.


Typing: Fairy
Stats: 95 / 70 / 73 / 95 / 90 / 60

Here we have Clefable, a Generation I classic. Since her debut, she's always been an adequate Pokémon to use, just not the best. Her offensive presence was just like the average Normal-type's: she had a wide movepool, but lacked the stats or STAB to make better use of it than other Pokémon. Generation VI, however, was especially kind to her, since she not only gained a Special Attack buff, but also a Fairy typing. With these buffs, she can hit slightly harder and can take Fighting-type moves that she once never stood a chance against, as well as Bug- and Dark-type moves with ease, and you can never say no to a Dragon immunity. Clefable can pull of two roles very effectively; she can be a deadly threat to stall teams with Magic Guard, or she can counter setup sweepers with Unaware and stall them out. Either way, she has good moves that help both roles, such as Soft-Boiled, Cosmic Power, Calm Mind, Aromatherapy, and Wish, while also wielding good offensive options in Moonblast, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, Ice Beam, Psyshock, and more.

Despite all these buffs, she has quite a few problems to face. For one, she now finds herself weak to Poison- and Steel-type moves, making Gengar and Scizor huge threats to her. She also has to choose between two of her roles; if she uses Unaware, then Toxic stallers will have an easy time against her if she lacks Aromatherapy; Heatran can especially take her one-on-one through Toxic stalling due to being unfazed by Clefable's own Toxic, as well as lacking weaknesses to her coverage moves aside from the infamously shaky Focus Blast, while he can fire off a Flash Cannon if need be to speed up the stalling process. While she's running Magic Guard, she can't handle threats that have setup moves unless she's already gotten a Cosmic Power or two under the belt before they switch in. Aegislash is probably the best counter, as its Shield Form can take an unboosted Flamethrower or two and possibly set up, while its Blade Form can fire off an Iron Head to make quick work of Kirby's long lost sister. She also has a small case of four-moveslot syndrome; for example, her average defensive sets include something along the lines of Wish, Aromatherapy, and Moonblast, while the fourth move is a toss up between Flamethrower for Steel-types and Psyshock for Poison-types. Without Flamethrower, Scizor, Bisharp, and Aegislash will have a field day, while lacking Psyshock will put you on the spot when against Mega Venusaur, Gengar, and Tentacruel.

Clefable has her work cut out for her, but she has the tools she needs to make it all work out in the end.


Typing: Fairy / Flying
Stats: 85 / 50 / 95 / 120 / 115 / 80

Ah, Togekiss, one of my favorite DPP Pokémon. She was a force to be reckoned with in Generation IV's OU, but sadly she lost some usage in Generation V. But now she has gained Fairy typing, allowing her to shed her Normal typing, thus breathing new life into our little dessert. Gaining a Fairy-typing granted her 4x resistances to Fighting- and Bug-type moves, as well as making the once good Dragon + Ground and Dragon + Fighting coverage almost completely ineffective (looking at you, Garchomp). She has excellent stats overall, leaving no stat wasted except for Attack; her surprisingly good bulk is complimented by having an excellent Special Attack stat, and her Speed is just enough to compete with other walls. Having a history of once being a Normal-type, she was spoiled with a wide movepool. With powerful moves such as Psyshock, Aura Sphere, Flamethrower, Shadow Ball, Signal Beam, Dazzling Gleam, and Air Slash, she has all the coverage she needs. She even comes with Nasty Plot to pull off a sweep. But her support movepool should never be underestimated; having lovely tools such as Wish, Heal Bell, Thunder Wave, Baton Pass, Light Screen, Reflect, Roost, Morning Sun, Defog, and with Serene Grace raising Air Slash's flinch rate to 60%, it seems like she's nothing short of invincible. As powerful as I've made her out to be, she does have her fair share of flaws. For one thing, her Speed stat, while acceptable, is nowhere near as fast as she'd like it to be without paralyzing opponents. Electric-types are a true nightmare for Togekiss, as she doesn't have a Ground-type move to hit them with, cannot inflict them with paralysis, and is weak to their STAB moves, which will almost certainly force her to switch out. The Steel-types that she could take care of in the past, such as Scizor and Bisharp, now put her on their hit list due to her Fairy typing, and they intend to make her life difficult for switching in. Speaking of typing, while gaining a Fairy-typing does bring important resistances, it did nothing for her pre-existing weaknesses, especially to Stealth Rock, and also cursed her with two more. Her ability to flinch opponents is also luck-based, so you can't rely on it too much. She also has competition as a defensive Fairy-type, as others lack the number of weaknesses she has, especially to Stealth Rock, and Sylveon can pass bigger Wishes, while Clefable has Magic Guard and Unaware to take on many threats. Togekiss is a Pokémon that suffered a bit from the type change, but the gains she received this generation heavily outweigh the losses.


Typing: Fairy/Steel
Stats: 50 / 85 / 85 / 55 / 55 / 50
Stats (Mega): 50 / 105 / 125 / 55 / 95 / 50

Mawile was once a complete joke by OU standards. Her good coverage and typing were offset by her mediocre stats, abilities that didn't really help her cause, and being heavily outclassed by just about every other Steel-type. But through the help of Mega Evolution, she literally went from rotting at the bottom of the barrel to standing on top of the world. Her Mega Evolution simply exceeded everyone's expectations; her Attack stat received a nice boost, while her defenses were heavily improved upon, making up for her lack of recovery, as well as gaining a secondary Fairy typing to not only laugh at the face of dragons, but also resist Dark-type moves, eat up Bug-type moves for lunch, and get rid of her Fighting-type weakness, even before Mega Evolving. Her Steel typing also lets her resist Stealth Rock and grants her a Poison immunity. But what really made her the threat she is today is her ability, Huge Power, skyrocketing her Attack to the point where it literally dwarfs that of Mega Mewtwo X, effectively giving her the largest Attack stat in the entire game. And to make matters worse, she gets Swords Dance, pretty much demolishing anything that isn't a direct counter. Factoring in that she has a good movepool in Play Rough, Iron Head, Sucker Punch, Ice Punch, Thunder Punch, Fire Fang, and a few more, she's a foe that must be approached carefully.

That said, there are Pokémon that can survive her titanic hits. Basically any physical wall has a chance at stomaching her titanic hits, but the best counter by far has to be Heatran; he can outspeed Mawile, his typing allows him to take .25x damage from her STABs, and he can take a Sucker Punch if he needs to, even if she's at +2, but he has to run max HP to do that. He can also use Will-O-Wisp to cripple her for the match, Roar to get rid of her boosts, and either land a crippling blow on her with Lava Plume on defensive sets or flat out KO her with any Fire-type move of choice on offensive ones, though bear in mind though Mawile can potentially counter this with a SubPunch set. Skarmory is the runner-up, as he can also outspeed and resists her STABs, while he can just Roost off the damage, but he must be wary of Fire Fang, and outside of using Whirlwind or Taunt, he can't really do much to her in return. In fact, just about every defensive Steel-type in OU can be considered a counter to sets lacking Fire Fang or SubPunch. Another notable Pokémon is Landorus-T, as he can once again outspeed, has Intimidate, and STAB Earthquake, and can live any attack at +1, though he can only barely live a +1 Play Rough, so he's a bit of a shaky check. You may have noticed how often I say a Pokémon can outspeed her; well get used to it, because there's a whole lot more that can do that, and if you rely too heavily on Sucker Punch, then you may never land a single hit since it's easy to play around depending on your opponent's team. Her susceptibility to burns is also an important issue to address, since she loses the niche that makes her so devastating to face in battle.

She may have risks to deal with and she may be predictable, but just remember that it can only take one Swords Dance to end the whole match.

Honorable Mentions


Typing: Fairy
Stats: 78 / 65 / 68 / 112 / 154 / 75

There really isn't much to talk about when it comes to Florges that hasn't been said about Sylveon. The two often get compared to each other, but Florges can (barely) set herself apart. Her HP may be lower, but the rest of her stats are better; she has massive Special Defense compared to Sylveon, though only has slightly higher Defense. While Sylveon's Pixilate-boosted Hyper Voice will outdamage Florges's Moonblast, Florges has better overall offensive power, though to a minute degree. In terms of coverage, she lacks Shadow Ball and Psyshock, but does have Energy Ball, so it's not a total loss. She has higher Speed, allowing her to outrun certain threats such as Skarmory, Breloom, and (Mega) Tyranitar, but the Speed difference generally doesn't matter too much. And while Sylveon's ability helps her in all battle formats, Florges's abilities are only helpful in Doubles. Florges isn't a bad Pokémon, and does have her uses, she's just a little outclassed is all.


Typing: Fairy / Psychic
Stats: 68 / 65/ 65 / 125 / 115 / 80
Stats (Mega): 68 / 85 / 65 / 165 / 135 / 100

Gardevoir is a Generation III favorite among many Pokémon fans, and apparently Game Freak felt the same, so they gave her a secondary Fairy typing and a Mega Evolution. With Mega Gardevoir, saying that she hits like a truck is putting it lightly. Her base 165 Special Attack is the highest among all Fairy-types in the game, as well as one of the highest in general, and when combined with Calm Mind and a Pixilate-boosted Hyper Voice, she's a frightening foe to stomach hits from. But ironically, her typing was what prevented her from jumping to OU, as Scizor is a premier Fairy killer, and Ghost-type moves are now commonplace, resulting in her having a hard time sweeping. And while Mega Gardevoir gained an increase in Speed, it's still not enough to pull of a clean sweep without Sticky Web or Paralysis support. Speaking of boosts, while she could have got more Defense, she instead got a boost in Attack. Some people might have missed Satoshi Tajiri's message, but I read it loud and clear. To everyone reading this, I want you to run Jolly nature with Zen Headbutt, Return, Fire Punch, and Shadow Sneak. This is the new meta, guys, so look sharp... jokes aside, Gardevoir isn't bad, she just needed a little more of a boost. But seriously, new meta.


Typing: Fairy/Steel
Stats: 57 / 80 / 91 / 80 / 87 / 75

If you see this guy in Team Preview, "oh hell no" is the general thing that comes to mind. He had quite a run in OU, becoming infamous almost overnight as arguably the best (and from personal experience, most annoying) Generation VI Prankster user, though that's really not saying much. He has good support options in Light Screen, Reflect, Thunder Wave, Spikes, and Switcheroo, but what made him so annoying to face was that he was a devastating user of SwagPlay. For those unaware of the term, SwagPlay is a play style where a Pokémon with Prankster uses Swagger to confuse opponents, and then follow it up with either Thunder Wave to make the chance of the victim attacking very slim or Foul Play in combination with the opponent's Attack boost from Swagger to deal massive damage on top of them possibly hitting themselves, sometimes even a combination of the three. The problem is, if Klefki wants to actually damage an opponent, SwagPlay is the only means of going about it, as his offensive presence is rather lacking. Furthermore, SwagPlay relies heavily on luck, so it was never 100% guaranteed to work. And if you use Swagger on a physical attacker and they don't hit themself, you very well may have doomed your own team. One more thing, Swagger is banned now, and his only means of dealing damage now is Foul Play, severely cutting down on his presence in OU. He also has to deal with gaping Fire- and Ground-type weaknesses, so Pokémon such as Mega Charizard X and Y, Houndoom, Ninetales, Infernape, Heatran, Volcarona, Mamoswine, Hippowdon, Landorus, Landorus-T, Garchomp, Donphan, Gliscor, Excadrill, and many, many more can easily OHKO him with their STAB moves. In addition, he faces a LOT of competition as a Prankster user, as some have much more power (Thundurus), recovery (Sableye), higher Speed (Liepard), a much wider movepool (Whimsicott), and Taunt (most Pranksters in general). If he was more well-rounded, he could have kept his OU status, but the metagame was unkind to him, and in the end, he just found himself outclassed.


Typing: Fairy / Grass
Stats: 60 / 67 / 85 / 77 / 75 / 116

While not always OU, Whimsicott was always an annoyingly good Pokémon to use, with a wide array of Prankster-supported moves, such as Leech Seed, Encore, Stun Spore, Grass Whistle, Tailwind, Memento, Taunt, and Switcheroo, and some good non-Prankster moves, such as U-turn and Knock Off, while also having a very fast base 116 Speed, allowing her to outrun and Taunt opposing Prankster users before they do to her. But despite taking on top OU threats such as Garchomp, Dragonite, Keldeo, Landorus-T, and Rotom-W, her gaining a Fairy typing was a bit of a bad trade off for her, since it only got rid of her Bug weakness, replaced it with a Steel weakness, and magnified her weakness to Poison. Another mechanic that nerfs her is that Grass-types are immune to powder moves, and Electric-types can't be paralyzed, so you can't always Stun Spore everything now. Lacking a recovery move outside of Leech Seed does her no favors for stalling, so she has to bail against something like Galvantula or Ferrothorn. And as far as offense goes, she finds herself very lacking in terms of power, though her good coverage is noted. If you can get the threats to her out the way, she does fine, but it's usually better to find another Prankster user.


Typing: Fairy
Stats: 82 / 80 / 86 / 85 / 75 / 72

I guess Slurpuff would be a not-so-honorable mention. I don't know why people even bother with this thing. Sure, it gets Belly Drum and Unburden, so after eating a Sitrus Berry he gets +6 Attack and +2 Speed. Sure, he has some good support moves like Light Screen, Aromatherapy, and Cotton Guard. Sure, he has a wide special movepool and Calm Mind. But you know what? He's still a complete joke. He's an absolute joke, nothing more. I wasn't even going to mention this guy, but I have to make this clear to some people: Slurpuff is a Pokémon that will always, ALWAYS, be outclassed by something in OU, one way or another. Want a Belly Drummer? Just use Azumarill. She has much better coverage options and actual coverage in general, not to mention Aqua Jet to make up for her low Speed. Slurpuff only has Play Rough and Return for physical attacks, not to mention a glaringly inferior Attack stat. Want a cleric? You have Sylveon. She has many more options and overall better defenses, while Slurpuff doesn't have so much as a recovery move. Want a Calm Mind sweeper? Gardevoir's got it. She has significantly more power than Slurpuff will ever achieve. He's probably good in lower tiers where you can't use the previously mentioned Pokémon, but using him in OU when he isn't on a troll team? You, good sir, are the ballsiest man alive. Seriously, Slurpuff should only ever be used in lower tiers. Using him on a serious OU team is like using a Saturn in a monster car derby. If you want to use him in lower tiers, fine, I can't argue; he's probably really good in RU or whatever tier he's in now. But if you use him in OU, I'm just saying that you'll more often than not be starting a battle 5-6.


So that's pretty much every Fairy-type worth mentioning in OU. Some have become feared among players, others aren't such a big deal to them, and some are middle ground. And while Dragons have taken a hit in their effectiveness, it will take much more to put some of them down for good. But they've certainly changed the way Dragons, and many other Pokémon, must do battle. Just remember, some threats may seem unstoppable to you, but sometimes all you need to do to win is believe, and have a little pixie dust.

« Previous Article Home Next Article »