Top Ten Abilities in OU

By Seven Deadly Sins. Topic contributed by Raikaria.
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First introduced in Advance, Abilities are passive bonuses that Pokemon possess that give them a free boost in battle, affect an opponent negatively during battle, or modifies the field upon switching in. Abilities come in many flavors, and while some abilities are worthless, others are indispensable to their holders, sometimes even powerful enough to take a mediocre Pokemon and give it the tools it needs to dominate, or bolster an already exceptional Pokemon.

This list, compiled with the help of many Smogon members, covers the top ten abilities commonly used in OU, taking into account the Pokemon that carry them and their effect on the metagame.

10: Serene Grace
Effect: The Pokémon's secondary effect chances are doubled.
Notable Users: Jirachi, Togekiss
Everyone hates hax, it's a universal rule. And because of hax, Serene Grace is easily the most annoying ability in the entire metagame. Its two OU carriers, Togekiss and Jirachi, both have access to a STAB move with a 30% chance to flinch, which Serene Grace then doubles, resulting in a situation where flinching is more common than not flinching. Both also possess solid defenses, as well as access to Thunder Wave and Body Slam to inflict Paralysis. On top of that, moves such as Thunderbolt, the Elemental Punches, and other chance-related abilities are augmented by it. Bottom line, Serene Grace gives Jirachi and Togekiss the equipment needed to become two of the most effective and rage-inducing Pokemon in the entire metagame, enough to secure it #10 on this list.
9: Technician
Effect: Moves with 60 Base Power or less do 50% more damage.
Notable users: Scizor
In the Pokemon universe, there are a ton of moves that would be fantastic if not for their mediocre power. Moves such as all non-ExtremeSpeed priority, Payback, and other moves with 60 or less Base Power are boosted to much more usable levels by the Technician ability. It is because of this ability that Scizor has risen to fame in the OU metagame, securing over 30% of the total uses in OU this month. With Technician, Scizor has a base 60 STAB priority attack which, coming off of a Choice Band-backed or Swords Dance boosted 130 base Attack, wrecks absolutely anything that doesn't resist it. For taking a decent Pokemon and skyrocketing it to #1 in the metagame, Technician picks up the #9 slot on this list.
8. Poison Heal
Effect: Heals 1/8 of Maximum HP every turn while Poisoned.
Notable users: Breloom
Very few abilities can be claimed to be the reason that a Pokemon is OU, but Poison Heal is one of them. Poison Heal, which prevents all Poison damage and heals its user for 12.5% of its maximum HP every turn, gives the formerly frail Breloom some serious staying power. Combine it with Spore, Substitute, Leech Seed, and a ridiculously powerful STAB Focus Punch, and Breloom becomes one tough Pokemon to take down. On top of that, being Poisoned gives Breloom immunity to other permanent status effects, making it tough for the normal Ghost-type counters to incapacitate Breloom with Will-O-Wisp or Hypnosis. For being twice as effective as Leftovers, providing immunity to status, and turning Breloom into a heavy-hitting stall machine, Poison Heal picks up the #8 slot on this list.
7: No Guard
Effect: Any attacks used by and on this Pokémon will never miss.
Notable Users: Machamp
No Guard is yet another ability that sets its user far above the rest of the pack. With No Guard, Machamp goes from "bulky Fighting-type not named Hariyama" to "rage-inducing wall of pain". STAB DynamicPunch, with its 100% chance to confuse and massive power, makes Machamp nearly impossible to switch into, as even Pokemon that resist Fighting-type attacks have to worry about the 50% chance of self-damage from Confusion. On top of this, No Guard turns the "worst move in the game", Stone Edge, into the best coverage move a Fighting-type could ever ask for. For giving Machamp an extremely powerful drawback-free Fighting-type move and an immunity to the hax that everyone hates, No Guard lands at #7.
6: Pressure
Effect: Enemy attacks lose 1 extra PP.
Notable users: Suicune, Zapdos
Pressure is an interesting ability. Being the token ability of all legendary Pokemon, it gets extremely widespread distribution. At the same time, though, it is commonly thought of as one of the most useless abilities in the game. All sorts of theorymon regarding other Pressure users such as Weavile, Aerodactyl, and Absol exists, and all of it looks at just how useless Pressure is for these offensive Pokemon. However, when it comes to defensive Pokemon, its use is second to none. Through use of Pressure, Crocune can PP stall out damn near any other Pokemon in the game, as Rest can force opponents to burn up to 6 PP for every 1 PP spent on Rest. On the other hand, there's SubRoost Zapdos in OU, and SubRoost Moltres and Articuno in UU. Most physical Pokemon rely on Stone Edge to pick off flying-type Pokemon, and with its meager 8 PP, most opponents only get four chances at hitting these flying-type stallers. By making it nearly impossible to stall out or knock out these monstrous defenders, Pressure lands itself on #6 on this list.
5. Trace
Effect: Copies foe's ability.
Notable users: Porygon2
I've been going on and on about all these amazing abilities, and it's hard to even choose between these abilities, since there are so many absolutely fantastic ones. Many Pokemon possess abilities that also work effectively against them. For those Pokemon, Trace is there to ruin their fun. With Trace, Porygon2 can switch into Pokemon such as Jolteon, Electivire, Gyarados, Vaporeon, and Flygon, ready to turn their beloved abilities against them. Porygon2 hit by Sleep or Toxic? One switch-in to Blissey or Celebi will deal with that. For taking some of the best abilities in OU and turning them back against their users, Trace picks up the #5 spot on the list.
4: Natural Cure
Effect: Heals status upon switching out
Notable users: Blissey, Starmie, Celebi
Let's face it, status is always a pain. Whether it be a permanent status, such as Thunder Wave or Toxic, or an impermanent yet equally crippling Sleep, status effects can be the bane of many a team. Luckily, Natural Cure exists to give many a team a free way to deal with status. For stall, Blissey and Celebi can use Natural Cure to be free of the Toxic that would cripple them and prevent them from walling anything. Meanwhile, Starmie can escape Paralysis that would normally prevent its sweep. Natural Cure prevents some of the best walls and sweepers from falling prey to status, and provides a boon to its user and team alike, and for that, it earns the #4 spot.
3. Sand Stream
Effect: Summons a permanent sandstorm to the field.
Notable users: Hippowdon, Tyranitar
Plenty of abilities define a Pokemon, but few abilities define an entire metagame. That's the kind of ability that Sand Stream is. While Sand Stream was effective in ADV, Generation 4 brought it truly into the limelight. First, it gained the ability to increase the Special Defense of Rock-types by 50%, a massive boost when you consider that most Rock-types are rather short on Special Defense. Second, it gained a powerful new user in Hippowdon, which boasts an excellent movepool, top-notch defenses, and the ability to counter many top threats. Third, Life Orb became an extremely common item on many sweepers, and sandstorm just helps them whittle away at their own health. Sand Stream can counter Weather teams, whittle down Life Orb sweepers, buff Rock-types, and generally affects the metagame so much that it's more than deserving of the #3 slot.
2. Levitate
Effect: Grants immunity to Ground-type moves
Notable Users: Bronzong, Flygon, Latias, Rotom, Gengar, Latias, Azelf, Cresselia
One look at the "most used moves" list shows that Earthquake is by far the most common move in the entire metagame, and for good reason too. Earthquake is a reliable move with high power, perfect accuracy, exceptional distribution, and a typing that hits the extremely common Steel-types in the metagame for super effective damage. It is for this reason that Levitate remains one of the best abilities in the metagame. With Levitate, Pokemon such as Flygon, Gengar, and other ground-neutral or ground-weak Pokemon can switch in far more often and dole out pain to teams. Rotom-A sheds the only weakness that comes with its secondary Electric type, leaving it with nothing but benefits from the type. Bronzong sheds one of its two weaknesses, leaving it with a solitary Fire weakness compared to its eight resistances and two immunities. For giving a whole lot of top-notch Pokemon an immunity to the most common move in the entire game, Levitate nabs the #2 slot on the list.
1. Intimidate
Effect: Lowers foe's Attack 1 stage
Notable users: Gyarados, Salamence
With Blissey around, it's easy to see why physical offense dominates the standard metagame the way it does. With vicious Dragon Dance users like Gyarados and Salamence, powerful Swords Dance users like Lucario, and Choice Band users like the #1 Scizor, anything that can mute Attack boosting effects is priceless. That's where Intimidate comes in. Intimidate is the end-all be-all best stop to physical sweepers in the game. After an Intimidate, Pokemon with a +1 boost are returned to baseline, and Pokemon with no boost are reduced to 66% of their original effectiveness, which puts a serious damper on Choice Band users and physical Choice Scarf users. On top of that, look at the notable users: the number 4 and number 2 Pokemon in the entire metagame, both with solid bulk and the ability to sweep hard if given the chance. Intimidate gives #3 Gyarados and #2 Salamence a chance to secure Dragon Dance boosts before sweeping their way through teams with ease. Used defensively, Gyarados' typing, bulk, and possession of Intimidate has made it the new superstar of Stall, with Roar and ResTalk combined with its resistance to Fighting and the addition of Rotom as a top-notch teammate. For taking two already fantastic Pokemon, and giving them the tools they need to dominate a metagame absolutely, Intimidate easily secures the #1 spot on this list.
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