Remembering Our Roots Redux: Where Are They Now (Part 1: GSC)

By Syberia. Art by paintseagull.
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Hi there! Many of you have probably read last issue's article Remembering our Roots, in which I gave a run-down of two or three of the most significant Pokémon of each past generation. However, for all but two Pokémon, the focus of that article was limited to their performance in the generation in which they were a dominant force, and paid little heed to their performance, or lack thereof, in the waning years of their careers, once the glory days had passed. Some would become the Clint Eastwoods of the Pokémon stardom, delivering blockbuster after blockbuster of OU perfection, while others would end up more like Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan, mere flashes in the pan before spiraling into self-destruction (and neverused-ness). These are their stories.

This article makes up part one of a four-part series covering each generation from GSC to BW. If you're wondering why I am not including RBY, it's because that particular generation has already been covered by Jellicent in this article, and because the number of OU Pokémon at the time was so small, there isn't much content for me to add. In each article, I will take a look at the top 10 (based on usage and viability ranking) OU Pokémon from that generation that have not been covered previously and examine how they have risen and fallen through the ages, from the generation in which they were "king" on through BW and XY.

Our journey begins over a decade ago, in distant times where women were men and Pokémon lived forever. With Leftovers, RestTalk, and the lack of an EV limit, defensive Pokémon had the edge in GSC, and even things not commonly thought of as defensive today, like Heracross, were capable of sticking around for a long time. Stall became the dominant playstyle early on, but offensive strategies, often focused around one or more users of Belly Drum, soon developed that could give stall a run for its money. Since these times, much has changed, but many of the Pokémon that called GSC OU their home have stuck with us, at least for a while.


Snorlax was synonymous with GSC much the same way that Garchomp was synonymous with early DPP. It was one of those rare Pokémon that could excel in just about any situation, with any set of teammates, and if the situation was right, could win a battle entirely by itself as the last Pokémon standing.

The most feared and well-known Snorlax set of the GSC era was the classic Curselax, leveraging the sleepy giant's amazing bulk to survive just about any attack while it boosted its Attack and comparatively weak physical Defense with Curse before crushing everything in its path under its tremendous weight. True Curselax counters were few and far between, but they were on just about every team. Phazing it with Skarmory or Suicune worked to an extent, but was utterly useless if Snorlax was the last Pokémon on the field, and smart Curselax users were known to sacrifice their own Pokémon to create such a situation if only a phazer stood in their way. The other way to stop a Curselax was with a move that lowered its Attack, such as Umbreon's Charm or Miltank's Growl. Snorlax could still raise its Defense with Curse, though, and neither of these Pokémon were particularly gifted in the offensive department, so a PP war often ensued with Snorlax forced to switch out or Struggle until it died.

Unfortunately, Curselax's success meant that every team had to carry at least one counter for it, and this did diminish its effectiveness somewhat. That said, though, Snorlax did have another trick up its sleeve—Belly Drum. Against a defensive team whose answer to the beast was to lower its Attack and stall it out, Snorlax could easily find a free turn to set up and unleash powerful Returns or Double-Edges before the opponent could catch up. Not even Skarmory enjoyed taking Snorlax's +6 STAB attacks, especially when it could Rest off the residual damage from Belly Drum, be woken up by an ally with Heal Bell, and come in again fully refreshed to start the carnage all over again.

Though Snorlax would maintain its OU status in RSE, it did so with only a portion of its former glory. Where it previously had at least passable physical bulk, the change in EV mechanics effectively lowered its Defense by over 25%, as players instead opted to allocate stat points to some combination of HP, Attack, and Special Defense. This change came at the worst possible time, as the new generation ushered in a wave of powerful and often Choice Band-equipped physical attackers like Salamence, Tyranitar, and Metagross that could still do a number on the sleepy Pokémon even after a Curse or two.

Luckily, from the RSE era onwards, Snorlax was also known for its versatility. There were plenty of special attackers in Generation III that Snorlax could come in on, and it has always had enough moves to deal good damage to just about everything. With massive HP but low Defense, RSE Snorlax could even make a good user of Counter, almost certainly guaranteeing a KO against anything unfortunate enough to attack it, while hopefully still retaining enough HP to get off a Self-Destruct later in the match. Speaking of Self-Destruct, a big bang from a Choice Band Snorlax was one of if not the most powerful attack in the game. Even Skarmory took over 80% minimum, which is quite an accomplishment for a Normal-type against the metal bird.

By DPP, Snorlax had all but run out of steam. It somehow managed to stay afloat in OU, but only barely. I rarely saw it used, particularly in the waning days of the metagame, and it rarely, if ever, accomplished anything significant. With Fighting-types like Lucario and Infernape finally making their rise to greatness in DPP, punching a hole through Snorlax's tremendous lard was no longer the daunting task it once was. Despite its large number of weaknesses, including being 4x weak to the aforementioned Fighting-types, players looked more and more to Tyranitar to fill the role of a physically attacking special tank. Even without any EV investment, its Special Defense was higher than Snorlax's with 252 EVs and a boosting nature thanks to the new sandstorm mechanics. Its vast movepool, unpredictability, and STAB Pursuit that could knock out defensively weak special attackers like Azelf, Gengar, and (slightly) weakened Latias whether they stayed in or switched out all helped to ultimately seal Snorlax's fate.

It took all the way until Generation V for it to happen, but the once-mighty Snorlax finally fell to UU. In a generation marked by weather wars, our tubby hero just wasn't a good fit. It did not have the bulk to take repeated rain-boosted Surfs and Hydro Pumps, and could completely forget about trying to tank anything Tyranitar, Garchomp, or Excadrill tried to throw at it if the opponent was running sand. Not all was lost, however, as it made a decent name for itself in its new lower tier, where it stood up once again to some of its old GSC rivals like Zapdos, Raikou, and Nidoking, as well as acting as a solid counter to the new and very high powered threat, Chandelure. Currently, Snorlax in XY UU plays about the same as Snorlax in BW UU, which played about the same as Snorlax in previous version's OU. It is a Pokémon that was given all its tools from the very beginning, and changed little over the years. Perhaps that's the reason for its slow but steady decline.


Although Zapdos was OU in RBY, GSC is where it really began to shine. Thanks to the new move Hidden Power, which would be a staple on almost every Zapdos set in every generation thanks to the electric bird's poor offensive movepool, it no longer found itself absolutely walled by certain Pokémon. Although having to choose between Hidden Power Ice, Hidden Power Water, and to a lesser extent Drill Peck for a secondary attack on most sets would always leave it countered by something, there was no longer one single Pokémon that hard-countered all sets, which is a huge point in your favor when you happen to have base 125 Special Attack like Zapdos does.

On top of its offensive prowess, Zapdos also functioned as an excellent mixed wall that could also do some serious damage. With only two weaknesses to Rock and Ice and the defenses to shrug off most non-STAB hits from both types, Zapdos was free to throw around powerful Thunderbolts and Hidden Powers, Rest off the damage when necessary, and either continue racking up the damage with Sleep Talk or find the opportunity to use one of its many support options. While the offensively oriented RestTalk Zapdos was probably the most menacing in terms of damage dealt, the legendary bird did possess useful other options as well—Thunder Wave to slow down its opponents, Reflect and Light Screen to reduce damage taken by itself and its teammates, and Whirlwind to potentially stop a sweep in a pinch or rack up Spikes damage as opponents struggled to find a way to hurt it.

Zapdos in RSE played much the same as Zapdos in GSC, with RestTalk still being its primary set, but there was one small change that likely made it better. It gained the ability Pressure which, while generally considered to be useless, at least allowed it to win a PP war most of the time with Pokémon like Blissey that would attempt to stall it out, especially when Zapdos could effectively "waste" two extra turns by using Rest, while only consuming one PP.

The more major change to Zapdos in RSE, though, was the addition of Baton Pass to its movepool. Its typing and bulk made it one of the best users of the move, able to pass Agility and Substitute to its teammates without significant fear of being phazed or Hazed. Thunderbolt threatened Skarmory, Suicune, Weezing, and Milotic, while a well-placed Hidden Power Grass would make Swampert think twice about trying to Roar it away. It's just a shame it did not have the ability to pass any Special Attack boosts, though.

Generation IV gave Zapdos two things it desperately needed—a Fire-type move to deal with Grass-types so it was no longer forced to choose between two different Hidden Power types, and one-turn recovery in the form of Roost. Unfortunately, these gifts came at a price. Zapdos's previous immunity to the only form of entry hazards available, Spikes, turned into a crippling weakness to Stealth Rock. That said, it was still a powerful presence in the metagame. No longer forced to run Rest and Sleep Talk for recovery, sets of three attacks plus Roost with either offensive or defensive EVs became popular. It could also use the new item Life Orb to boost its power while Roosting off recoil and Stealth Rock damage when needed, or forego Roost altogether for U-turn, in combination with a choice item, to scout potential counters and preserve momentum, though this left it vulnerable to Stealth Rock with no way to heal itself.

Unfortunately, the drastic reshaping of the metagame with BW's weather dominance drove Zapdos out of OU. You might wonder why, as a Pokémon with massive Special Attack and STAB Thunder would seem perfectly suited for a metagame dominated by rain, and indeed it was, but such a Pokémon was named Thundurus and not Zapdos. In a game dominated by weather offense, Zapdos's defenses did it little good, and it was passed up for something with higher Speed, a way to boost its Special Attack, and access to Focus Blast to get past Blissey and Tyranitar, not to mention priority Taunt and Thunder Wave shenanigans. Although Thundurus was ultimately banned from standard play, Zapdos never recovered from its UU fate. Between its weakness to Stealth Rock and its base 100 Speed not being what it used to, it just couldn't cut it in OU, though its excellent all-around stats and good typing offensively and defensively meant that it certainly pulled its own weight in its new tier.

Thanks to one key mechanics change, though, Zapdos has experienced a revival in XY. It has access to Defog, a previously useless move that now clears entry hazards and screens from the field, and Zapdos's defensive traits make it a decent user of the move. As Thundurus is OU in Generation VI, Zapdos has no business going on offense, but defensively, especially during the Lucarionite era, it still has a niche to fill. Unfortunately, its weakness to the very thing it is supposed to clear from the field will most likely prevent it from being great, but as of the writing of this article, it is still hanging around the lower portion of OU, which, fortunately, is still a step up from where it was in BW.


In GSC, both legendary Electric-types that existed then enjoyed high OU status. Much that has been said about Zapdos can also be applied to Raikou, although it trades a bit of Defense and Special Attack for blinding Speed and increased special bulk, and weaknesses to Ice and Rock for a single weakness to Ground. Both Raikou and Zapdos could be played similarly, running an offensive Sleep Talk set to take advantage of their longevity or utilizing support options, most commonly Roar in Raikou's case.

It was during the RSE era that the two would start to fill different roles. Zapdos was usually seen as a more defensive Pokémon, while Raikou took on an offensive role. Though RestTalk was still a viable strategy on the sabertooth cat, it was given a major selling point on which Zapdos missed out—Calm Mind. With good bulk, especially on the special side, Raikou could come in on something it threatened out or that could not hurt it significantly, grab a boost, and as long as Blissey and Snorlax were gone or significantly weakened, have the potential for a quick sweep thanks to its base 115 Speed. Finally, where Raikou used Roar defensively in GSC, it now used the move in an offensive role—it could boost up along Pokémon like Celebi or Jirachi before Roaring away their boosts, leaving the opponent staring down a fearsome beast ready to sweep.

Calm Mind Raikou enjoyed one, and only one, generation of dominance. Although it gained access to Aura Sphere in DPP, which could have alleviated its issues with Tyranitar and Blissey, the two premier special walls of the time, it was forced to run a Rash nature to use it, thanks to a locked-nature event, and thus could not take full advantage of its primary asset, Speed. Speaking of Speed, Raikou could now be outpaced and knocked out or significantly damaged by many Choice Scarf users, including Garchomp and Tyranitar. Unfortunately for Raikou, though, the qualities that made it stand out in OU for the last two generations made it too good for UU in DP, so it found itself cursed to the no man's land that was BL, not good enough for OU but too good for UU, and thus not used significantly used in either. With the power creep of BW, it was moved down to UU, where it is still a potent special attacker to this day, though it still has to watch out for Snorlax just as it always has.


Formerly one of the extremely annoying pseudo-trappers of the RBY era, Cloyster found itself instantly catapulted to GSC fame on the back of a single move—Spikes. One of two Pokémon in OU capable of laying them, the other being Forretress, Cloyster traded a worse defensive type and absolutely awful Special Defense for the ability to actually do something offensively besides blowing itself up, though Cloyster could also do that quite well. Its absolutely massive Defense gave it ample opportunity to lay its entry hazards, and its acceptable Special Attack meant it could deal some damage with Surf and Ice Beam before going out with a bang. Especially on offensively oriented teams, Explosion was a huge selling point for Cloyster as it usually had only one job—setting up Spikes—and afterwards it could wait for just the right moment to cripple or outright KO a defensive Pokémon, making the rest of the team's job a bit easier. If Cloyster was not played quite so aggressively, though, it had another trick up its sleeve. Not only could it lay Spikes on the opponent's side of the field, but it could also remove them from its own side with Rapid Spin if a player chose to keep it around for a bit.

Cloyster's role as the premier Spiker was challenged in RSE by Skarmory, thanks to the latter's better defensive typing and access to Whirlwind to function as a better physical wall. As a pure physical wall, Weezing outperformed Cloyster thanks to a number of key resistances and even an immunity to Ground, not to mention Will-O-Wisp to cripple attackers and pseudo-recovery in the way of Pain Split. What set Cloyster apart from both of these Pokémon was its ability to take on bulky Water-types in spite of its poor Special Defense due to resistances to Water and Ice, excellent offensive STAB attacks in Surf and Ice Beam, Rapid Spin to keep the opponent's Spikes away, and again, access to Explosion. No other Pokémon could do all of these things together, and thus Cloyster maintained enough of a niche to keep it in OU.

Unfortunately, DPP was a bad time to be an Ice-type. Though Cloyster now had access to a second entry hazard in the form of Toxic Spikes, Stealth Rock dominated the metagame from the get-go. Being forced to lose 25% of its already abysmal HP on switch-in did not do it any favors, and this combined with the fact that Spikes and Toxic Spikes were usually abandoned in favor of Stealth Rock on all but full-stall teams made Cloyster obsolete, dropping it down to UU for a generation.

Cloyster would return to OU in BW, albeit in an entirely new form. Where before it was a capable offensive layer of Spikes, it returned as a full-on sweeper thanks to Shell Smash. Able to obtain +2 Attack, Special Attack, and Speed in a single turn, Cloyster could proceed to rip through an entire team if played correctly. Its ability, Skill Link, turned the normally little-used moves Icicle Spear and Rock Blast into effectively 125 Base Power attacks capable of breaking through Substitute. With usable Special Attack as well, Cloyster could even run Surf or Hydro Pump in its spare slot to pummel physical walls that could otherwise stand up to its assault. Granted, Cloyster's terrible HP and lowered defenses from Shell Smash (unless it ran White Herb) left it vulnerable to priority, especially Scizor's Bullet Punch and Conkeldurr or Breloom's Mach Punch, but as long as these Pokémon were dealt with, a Cloyster sweep was a real possibility. This has not changed in XY, though with all the new offensive threats running around, getting Cloyster setup and avoiding a revenge kill is more of a daunting task now than even in the weather-laden BW metagame.


Once one of the kings of RBY, Exeggutor lost a bit in the transition to GSC by way of Psychic-types no longer enjoying dominance of the metagame, sleep being knocked down in potency, and it losing over 100 stat points of Special Defense, but the three-headed palm remained a premier offensive threat. With Sleep Powder and a well-timed Explosion, it could effectively take two of an opponent's Pokémon out of the match, albeit only temporarily for one of them, as Heal Bell was everywhere this generation. Outside of going boom, Exeggutor boasted a Special Attack stat of 348, and just enough moves to make it useful: Psychic as a primary STAB move, Giga Drain for Tyranitar, and Hidden Power Fire for Skarmory and Forretress. Although its ability to tank special attacks was severely diminished with the split of Special Attack and Special Defense, it had acceptable bulk on the physical side, and could put tremendous pressure on an opponent from the moment it came onto the field, throwing around powerful Psychics and other attacks with the threat of Sleep Powder and Explosion always looming in the background.

Although RSE gave Exeggutor a new toy in the ability Chlorophyll, auto-weather abilities were limited to Ubers and setting up Sunny Day (or, for that matter, Rain Dance) was not a common strategy. It was also outclassed by Celebi, which had dropped down to OU that generation, and although it lacked Sleep Powder and Explosion, it had better defenses (particularly from the special side), reliably recovery, and many more support options. The factors that made Exeggutor great in GSC ultimately made it too powerful for UU in RSE, so it sat in the limbo that is BL. It would fall to UU a generation later in DPP, and finally in BW, where Chlorophyll users finally got the chance to shine via Ninetales's Drought, its fall from greatness would be complete. NU would be its final resting place, partly because sun teams were uncommon from the start due to the difficulty of using them effectively, and partly because, as Chlorophyll sweepers go, its place on such teams was usually taken up by Venusaur and Tangrowth, both of which had the ability to hit hard with both physical and special attacks. Exeggutor no longer even had the niche of Explosion, a move whose power was effectively cut in half by a mechanics change in BW


Miltank is a cow. Besides cheeseburgers and milkshakes, there isn't a whole lot we associate cows with these days besides saying moo. But once upon a time, in all its bovine glory, Miltank provided Pokémon players with the one thing they always wanted—more cowbell!

Players today usually associate Heal Bell with Blissey and Sylveon, or even Celebi and Umbreon in the lower tiers, but there once was a time where Miltank reigned supreme. Despite its average stats all around, and a distinct inability to damage much of anything with its base 80 Attack, Miltank did one thing exceptionally well in addition to ringing its bell—it was a full stop to every variety of Curselax. Using Growl (yes, Growl...) it could negate the Attack boosts from Curse, surviving Returns or Double-Edges with its decent Defense and Milk Drink until Snorlax either switched out or ran out of Curses.

Unfortunately, Miltank was one of the Pokémon that enjoyed a single generation of greatness before never really being heard from again in OU. It filled the niche of being a reliable Curselax counter, but Curselax in RSE was not nearly the same threat it was a generation before. Additionally, the new EV restrictions hit Miltank's decidedly average stats hard, as it not only had to choose between physical and Special Defense, but also found its Attack stat reduced to a mere 196 at level 100 with defensive EVs, and even its most powerful attacks barely left a scratch. Its damage output was essentially limited to Seismic Toss, and at that point you might as well have used Blissey. Celebi also dropped to OU in the RSE era, and gave players yet another option for a cleric that did not moo.

Though Miltank was stuck in the limbo of the BL tier throughout RSE, it fell to UU in DPP and did quite well there. Its combination of bulk, reliable recovery, the ability to rid itself of status conditions, and a new ability, Scrappy, which allowed it to damage Ghost-types with Normal-type moves, made it one of the best physical attackers in the tier. After a few Curses, not even Fighting-type attacks could bring it down from the physical side, and unlike even Snorlax, Miltank could restore its health in a single turn as opposed to being immobilized for three. However, also unlike Snorlax, strong special attacks could eventually bring the cursing cow down.

Unfortunately, DPP UU was Miltank's last stand. In BW, not only did it fail to compete with the weather sweepers of OU, but it was not even good enough to remain UU, which was filled with many of the same Pokémon from DPP's OU, and it dropped to NU where it remains in XY.


True mixed attackers were few and far between in GSC, but of those that did exist, Nidoking was one of the best. Not only could it keep up the pressure on the walls of the time with a combination of Earthquake, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, and Fire Blast, but for the bulky annoyances that it wasn't able to muscle past, such as Snorlax, Umbreon, and Miltank, it had Lovely Kiss, courtesy of a New York Pokémon Center event. On top of its movepool, though, Nidoking had a few other traits that made it just the man for a mixed-attacking job. Its acceptable base 85 Speed meant it could beat out most defensive Pokémon, and even tie with faster ones like Suicune and Heracross. Its typing gave it an immunity to both Toxic and Thunder Wave, both of which were common on the walls Nidoking was meant to destroy. Unfortunately, Nidoking has only four moveslots, which always left it walled by something if it chose to run Lovely Kiss, though putting that something to sleep was often a great way of getting around it.

Due to the inability to transfer Pokémon from GSC to RSE, Nidoking lost access to Lovely Kiss—the one thing that differentiated it from other mixed attackers. Without one of its defining characteristics, more powerful Pokémon like Salamence and Tyranitar were able to steal its thunder. However, its excellent mixed attacking movepool, now with the addition of Megahorn, made it a dominant threat in UU in the third and fourth generations, where it broke walls much as it did before. An all-out attacking strategy was used in RSE, however DPP Nidoking often carried Stealth Rock on its moveset as well, and could usually get the opportunity to set it up due to the large number of switches it forced.

Generation V saw Nidoking obtaining one of the best abilities in the game, Sheer Force. In conjunction with Life Orb, Nidoking's virtually limitless special movepool—Earth Power, Sludge Wave, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Fire Blast, and Focus Blast—was boosted to beyond Specs-level damage, all the while still allowing Nidoking to switch up its attacks. Unfortunately, Landorus received the same ability, a smaller move pool but still enough to get by, and much better stats. Although Landorus was ultimately given the boot from OU due to this, Nidoking remained UU for the duration of BW; base 85 Speed was not what it once was, and weaknesses to the ever-present Water- and Ground-type attacks in a tier dominated by rain and sand kept it from seeing use in standard play. What it did do, though, was rip holes through most UU walls, though it ran into a bit of four moveslot syndrome in doing so. XY is looking to be more of the same for our mutated rabbit, though you can add Florges to the list of walls it utterly destroys.


Ever since its creation, Skarmory has been a pillar of defensive fortitude. Even the fiercest fighters often manage nothing more than smashing their hands to pieces on its hardened exoskeleton, while the biggest of boulders simply bounce off as the steel bird echoes its shrill cry as if to say "you can't touch this." While I've never seen it wearing a pair of parachute pants (yet...), the phrase is accurate—especially in GSC, where mixed attackers were relatively few and far between, Skarmory did an excellent job of walling most physical Pokémon. With no physical weaknesses and an insane, especially for the time, base 140 Defense, it could even take on Curselax and live to tell the tale (though it had to watch out for Fire Blast).

While its damage output was limited to Drill Peck and Toxic, it was one of the best users of Whirlwind, negating opponents' stat boosts and racking up Spikes damage on defensive teams. It could also make good use of Curse—not for sweeping, as its poor Special Defense precluded that in most cases, but to ensure that it would emerge victorious in a last-Pokémon Curse war, where Whirlwind was ineffecive. In fact, it seemed that Skarmory was given just about everything it needed to be the go-to physical wall in GSC, except a way to reliably regain its health. Switching into repeated attacks, often boosted by Curse, took its toll, and Skarmory's only way to refresh itself was to fall asleep with Rest. Given the omnipresence of Heal Bell at the time, though, this was not a dealbreaker.

RSE took a good thing and made it better, giving Skarmory more options beyond simply walling and phazing. Most importantly, it essentially replaced Cloyster and Forretress as the premier layer of Spikes in OU. Not only was Spikes a huge buff to Skarmory, but the move itself was buffed as well and could be used up to three times for 25% damage per switch-in, and Skarmory definitely had the survivability to find three free turns to set them up.

Generation III also saw the introduction of Taunt, which was a bit of a double-edged sword for Skarmory. It could make use of the move, along with a sizable allocation of EVs to Speed, to prevent slow, defensive Pokémon from healing, often in combination with Toxic to slowly wear them down over time. It also allowed a player to completely shut down an opposing Skarmory if they found themselves in a mirror match, preventing the use of Spikes while they switched to a counter. Unfortunately, Taunt was also given to the physical sweepers Tyranitar and Gyarados, which could prevent Skarmory's attempts at phazing them out or poisoning them while they used the bird as setup fodder. Most other physical attackers also found some way of getting past Skarmory by this point—Salamence, Flygon, and Snorlax could all run Fire Blast (though the former two were often Choiced, and a misprediction meant free Spikes), Heracross commonly carried Choice Band and could deal massive damage to a predicted Skarmory switch-in with Focus Punch (or OHKO if Guts was activated), and even Metagross could hit it with a surprise Thunder Punch. Magneton could also remove Skarmory from the picture completely thanks to its new ability, Magnet Pull.

The ability to lay Spikes was good, but DPP blessed Skarmory once again, adding Stealth Rock, which would go on to become arguably the defining move of DPP, BW, and XY, to its movepool. Skarmory also finally gained the one thing it had been longing for all the way back since GSC—instant recovery—in the form of Roost. This came as a huge benefit, as Rest was no longer reliable, as Heal Bell usage had been on a steady decline since the days of GSC. Finally, its new move Brave Bird allowed Skarmory to actually deal some form of damage despite its pitiful Attack stat, preventing it from becoming Taunt bait and even scoring a surprise OHKO against an Infernape switching in predicting Stealth Rock.

Skarmory itself did not change significantly between DPP and BW, save for a small change to the mechanics of Sturdy, which now allowed it to survive one attack that would otherwise OHKO it from full health. This had the benefit of always guaranteeing it to set up at least one hazard, even against something which would otherwise defeat it. Otherwise, its standard set of an entry hazard, Roost, Whirlwind, and Brave Bird remained the same, though its effectiveness was diminished somewhat by the presence of strong special attackers, particularly on rain teams, against which it struggled mightily. It still had what it took to remain viable in OU, though, and in XY, like Zapdos, it gained the ability to clear entry hazards with Defog. In the current offensive metagame, however, the task of clearing hazards usually falls to Scizor, Excadrill, or one of the Lati twins, while setting them up is often accomplished by one of the Deoxys formes (which are now banned), or something with a greater offensive presence such as Tyranitar, Landorus, Heatran, or Excadrill. Perhaps most unfortunately, though, Skarmory lost resistances to Dark- and Ghost-type moves as part of the Steel-type nerf, turning it from a Pokémon that would have easily walled two of OU's top threats, Aegislash and Bisharp, into one that gets beaten handily by both of them.


Starmie is the second member of RBY's "big three" to make its triumphant return in GSC (the third, Alakazam, unfortunately was not quite good enough to make OU this time around). With Snorlax, Umbreon, Zapdos, and Blissey around to wall hits from its mediocre base 100 Special Attack, and a high Speed stat that did not matter quite so much in this defensive metagame, Starmie was not the lightning-fast offensive threat it was a generation ago, but it did have one thing that set it apart from almost everything else in the tier—Rapid Spin. Other users of the move did exist in the form of Forretress and Cloyster, but Starmie differentiated itself from both of them with access to Recover. It could switch into Spikes as many times as it wanted without fear as it could simply heal off the damage later in the match, while both of the other spinners had to rely on Rest or go out with Explosion, severely hindering their utility past a certain point. When it was not spinning, attacking, or healing, Starmie had a myriad of support options at its disposal—Reflect, Light Screen, and Thunder Wave, to name a few.

Although it did undergo a fairly significant transformation between generations I and II, Starmie is one of those Pokémon that has not changed much since then. Its role in RSE was much the same as it was in GSC—clearing entry hazards—although the generally less defensive nature of every generation after GSC meant that it could put its Speed and offensive movepool to greater use. Starmie could easily defeat Skarmory, Forretress, and Cloyster with a combination of Surf and Thunderbolt, and could even manage to pick off a weakened team one by one if the team's special wall was gone. While the best way to deal with this back in RBY was to paralyze Starmie ASAP, such a feat was no longer possible in RSE since it was given the ability Natural Cure, healing any status condition it may have picked up upon switching out.

Starmie did not gain much of anything in the transition from RSE to DPP, though the metagame certainly changed around it. With the sheer number of defensive Pokémon able to set up Stealth Rock repeatedly during a match, and the fact that the most potent entry hazard only required a single turn to set up, Rapid Spinning was not nearly as prevalent as it once was. That is not to say Starmie became any less valuable, though; in early DP it was one of a small subset of Pokémon capable of outspeeding Garchomp and OHKOing with Ice Beam if it did not carry Yache Berry, and throughout the generation it remained one of the best checks to Infernape, able to switch into anything the standard Mixape carried (even those variants that carried Hidden Power Ice or Stone Edge) and threaten an immediate OHKO with Surf or Psychic.

Fifth generation, in all its Drizzly goodness, was ultimately beneficial for anything with Water-type STAB attacks, and Starmie was no exception. Its hidden ability, Analytic, though perhaps somewhat of a trollish joke on something as fast as Starmie, had one important benefit: if an opponent switched in something to try and wall Starmie, its damage output would be boosted 30%. Put into perspective, a Life Orb-boosted Hydro Pump in the rain did, at minimum, over 75% to a standard Ferrothorn switching in over the course of two turns before the opponent could do anything back. Against Blissey, the damage was slightly less, but still over 65%. Unfortunately, though, the drawback was that Analytic Starmie could not have Natural Cure, and the ubiquitous rain was a double-edged sword. Starmie's HP and defensive stats are quite low, and switching into even a resisted Scald, Surf, or particularly Hydro Pump took away a fair chunk of its HP. Against sand teams, where Starmie may not always have the benefit of rain, it could be walled completely by Ferrothorn or Pursuited out of existence by Tyranitar.

Alas, in XY, Starmie lost the one thing it held dear for the previous four generations. Although it did not actually lose access to Rapid Spin, the move became much less important as Defog now clears entry hazards, and is learned by a much larger pool of Pokémon. Its other claim to fame as a speedy special attacker with excellent type coverage was overshadowed by Deoxys-S until its recent ban, and still is by Greninja, which has the advantage of getting STAB on all of its attacks. This starfish's tale finally draws to a close in UU at the time of this article's writing.


One does not typically use the terms "sweeper" or "stallbreaker" when speaking of Vaporeon, but there was once a time when those terms fit it well. In GSC, its access to Growth, lack of real weaknesses (Grass-type attacks were incredibly uncommon and Electric-type attacks from anything other than Raikou and Zapdos did not threaten it terribly), and general bulk made it the perfect candidate for the job. Its massive HP and acceptable defenses enabled it to set up against not only slow, stallish Pokémon, but also offensive ones such as Nidoking and Tyranitar which lacked a setup move. Once it had acquired a few boosts, Surf was the perfect move to sweep with. Unlike a mono-attacking Curselax with Return or Double-Edge, nothing was immune to it, freeing up Vaporeon's last two move slots for Rest and Sleep Talk to keep Vaporeon alive, especially against the status-heavy teams it did so well against. Also unlike Curselax, Vaporeon served as its own deterrent to anything that might try to phaze away its boosts—most users of Roar or Whirlwind, other than Suicune, did not enjoy taking boosted Surfs.

Sadly, Vaporeon's role changed greatly between GSC and RSE. The inability to transfer Pokémon between the two generations meant it completely lost access to the second-generation-only event move Growth, and with it, any chances of returning to its former glory as a sweeper went right out the window. To add insult to injury, Suicune, and not Vaporeon, was given Calm Mind, and this along with Suicune's massive Defense stat ensured that it, and not Vaporeon, would be the top aquatic dog in generation III. Vaporeon found itself lumped in a large class of generic bulky Water-types for the duration of RSE and DPP, but it always had one advantage over Milotic and Swampert, its two main rivals: Wish. With it, Vaporeon could heal not only itself, but its teammates as well, and its low Speed coupled with Baton Pass meant that Vaporeon, and not its recipient, could be made to take any hits instead of the teammate being healed.

In BW, Vaporeon's primary role changed again. With the release of Espeon's hidden ability, Magic Bounce, Baton Pass became a legitimate playstyle capable of winning matches and no longer just falling over in the face of a phazer, Taunter, or certain status effects. Vaporeon's contribution to Baton Pass chains was massive Substitutes and Acid Armors, and it was also the most common user of Roar in case something on the opposing team needed to be prevented from setting up. With the inclusion of Scolipede into Baton Pass chains in XY, Vaporeon was no longer the sole Defense booster on such a team, though after an Iron Defense, Scolipede often found most of its health gone, and Vaporeon could be called on to pick up where it left off. Of course, with the recent clausing of Baton Pass to one user per team, Vaporeon's utility in that respect was completely eliminated, and it no longer has the defensive prowess to function on its own outside of that role.


This concludes part one of the series. As you can plainly see, the world of competitive Pokémon used to be a much different landscape than what we're familiar with now. Stay tuned over the next several issues of The Smog as we follow it trough its many twists and turns into what we know today!

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