So, the fifth generation of Pokémon has been out for quite a while and we have had enough time to properly test out most of what it has to offer. Some Pokémon saw more play, whiles others fell down in usage. One could easily say that fifth gen brought us the most innovative shift in the Pokémon world since the introduction of EV and IV training. A lot of things changed. The accuracy and power of certain moves got played around with, abilities got an interesting adjustment, new items appeared, and much more. However, innovation is not always a good thing. I am currently subscribed to more than twenty Pokémon battlers on YouTube. This does not make me an expert, but watching them has added to my own experience regarding this new meta game. They all battle with varying levels of seriousness and in different tiers. Smogon recently added fourth gen OU to its lists of playable tiers on Pokémon Showdown and its popularity has brought the initial debate over the state of the game back into the light. I have tried to point out the biggest additions to competitive battling in order to weigh their pros and cons. Although you could toss-up this list into quite a few orders that would make sense, this is what I believe to be the top five things from fifth gen that are both enhancing and ruining the meta game.
5). Team Preview
Team preview is a new mechanic that was added to Pokémon in Black and White. Prior to battling, the game will show you your opponent’s team. You will see the Pokémon, its level, and whether or not it is holding an item. The item itself is not specified. During this time, you are allowed to rearrange the order that your team is in. This will allow for you to pick your lead and the rest of the order will only affect things like Zoroark with the Illusion ability.
You no longer have to predict every Pokémon in the game when making a move. Prior to the addition of team preview, you would have to anticipate hundreds of possible switch ins. Tiers helped, but people like to bring crazy stuff to the party. One could not feel safe going for an electric move because they did not know if a ground-type Pokémon could switch in. Fighting blind can be pretty scary. With team preview, you can identify the threats that are in front of you and strategize accordingly. You know which Pokémon you need to keep around and you can start identifying your win conditions. You may not need to spend time setting up certain hazards if their Pokémon are not affected by them. Spike stacking against a team full of flying-types makes you look like a fool.
Good-bye traditional leads. Making a lead set is no longer a thing because you don’t jump in blindly anymore. Your focus sash Aerodactyl, lead Azelf, and anti-lead Machamp are going back into the box. Actually, you may need to get rid of them for box space with all of these new Pokémon running around. Did I mention that all of those Pokémon dropped out of OU after that? Well, they did. Not everyone is happy with being able to see their opponent’s team. On the flip side of a point from the other list, some people find being able to identify your win conditions prior to a battle to be too simplistic. It takes a lot of the surprise out of battling. On that note, it hurts Zoroark quite a bit in my opinion. What could make Illusion even better? If the opponent doesn’t know that you have a Zoroark.
I am pretty neutral on the topic. I don’t hate team preview, but I miss my anti-lead Machamp.
Prankster is a new ability that was added to Pokémon in Black and White. The ability gives the Pokémon a +1 priority when using non-attacking moves. Examples of non-attacking moves include status inducers like toxic and thunder wave, stat boosting moves such as calm mind and bulk up, and other such moves that do not damage your opponent like recover and substitute. The +1 priority means that the moves will occur before regular moves regardless of the Pokémon’s speed. However, moves that your opponent uses with priority, including other Prankster users, will take speed into account. A mach punch, which is +1 priority, will neutralize the Prankster priority making speed the deciding factor. However, moves with priority that is greater than +1, such as fake out at +3, will occur before the Prankster move.
Some pretty bad Pokémon finally got the chance to shine. Sableye has been the most notorious Prankster user and has even seen use in the OU tier. With access to will-o-wisp, toxic, recover, substitute, taunt, and confuse ray, Sableye has a fantastic Prankster arsenal. Pokémon like Liepard can be an asset to a team regardless of their speed in a supporting role. Paralyzing or burning threats can really help out when trying to sweep through an opposing team. The ability really lives up to the name because Prankster Pokémon are often quite the thorn in your opponent’s side. Priority has always been a big part of battling because so many things are ridiculously fast. Being able to sub scout an uncertain set or paralyze a scared Pokémon can be extremely useful in your road to victory.
What could be more annoying than having to break through a substitute? Having to break through a substitute while afflicted by Para-Fusion. Liepard basically has one set, but that is all that it needs. Substitute, thunder wave, swagger, and foul play. The introduction of Pokémon like this has brought stall to a rage inducing level. Although it is a legitimate strategy, PP stalling sucks. Sableye can successfully PP stall quite a few Pokémon with its access to both recover and substitute. Some things just won’t die. On the offensive side of things, that ability helped get Thundurus banned and it is now getting almost no play because there are just better options in Ubers. I guess what I am saying is that the difference between your stance on this matter probably comes down to which end of the stick that you are on. Having said that, aiding stall in any way will piss off a lot of people.
I like Prankster, but that is because I am the kind of asshole that likes to run stall teams.
3). Dream World
Dream World is a new system that was introduced to Pokémon in Black and White. The Dream World is a place online where you can search for Pokémon that have access to abilities that they did not used to have. An example of this is Primeape now having access to the Iron Fist ability. This is an article about competitive battling, so I will talk about its major change. Every single Pokémon in the game will be receiving access to a new ability. Some of them will get abilities that are new to Pokémon as of fifth gen, while others will be getting older abilities that they did not have in the past. The distribution of these abilities has been occurring over a long period of time that is not over as of this date.
Time to dust off your lower tier Pokémon because they are about to jump up in usage. Dream World brought us things like Drought Ninetails, Drizzle Politoed, Sheer Force Nidoking, and Hydration Vaporeon. This has really helped out a lot of Pokémon when it comes to their usefulness. Nidoking is one of the top dogs in UU now that it is a special powerhouse. Dream World has also aided Smogon in its quest to eliminate evasion from the standard meta game. With all of the Pokémon that had access Snow Cloak and Sand Veil getting new abilities, Smogon quickly banned the old ones in order to make sure that moves hit when they were supposed to. This has brought Garchomp down to OU where it really belongs. Overall, new abilities are a fun addition to the competitive scene.
Honestly, the list of cons regarding Dream World are all related to the way in which Dream World functions. Anyone that uses the system legitimately can tell you that it is flawed. With horrible time limits that can result in you getting nothing done and a search process that makes it difficult to find the things that you actually want, using Dream World sucks. The mechanics of Dream World leak into the Saving side of the spectrum as well. The fact that Dream World has been out in Japan for almost three years and we are still waiting on a lot of abilities to come out is ridiculous. From a competitive standpoint, you have to be prepared for people tat either don’t know or don’t care about what has been released already. Encountering an unreleased Dream World ability sucks because you are not ready for it. Something like a Water Absorb Suicune can ruin your day when you didn’t know that you couldn’t scald it. Finally, Dream World really made the game confusing for a lot of people. Dream World Pokémon do not have access to Egg Moves, which made a lot of crazy scenarios where very specific things were illegal. I can’t remember an illegal set off the top of my head, but it created some very heated arguments between people who cared enough to know all of the rules and bring them up. Ultimately, Dream World needs fixing and it needs it now.
The addition of Move Tutors and time has gotten the competitive scene used to Dream World, but it is still a very flawed system. I hate that things are still unreleased after almost three years and the fact that doing things legitimately is almost impossible.
The eviolite is a new item that was introduced to Pokémon in Black and White. An eviolite is a held item that will boost the defense and special defense of a Pokémon that is capable of evolution, but still in its pre-evolved state, by 50%. The item is most frequently seen on Pokémon like Chansey and Porygon 2 due to their already great defensive statistics.
A lot of Pokémon get to see use. There was no point in running Chansey or Porygon 2 back in the day because their fully evolved counter parts did their jobs better. The introduction of eviolite changed all of that. I have seen Porygon 2 way more than Porygon Z in the competitive scene and Chansey is a threat. Even offensive Pokémon can benefit from this item. Magneton can be of use with an eviolite because it can take a hit and retaliate with one of its own. The item is mostly used on defensive Pokémon and there is a decent tradeoff with it. Also, tricking an eviolite Pokémon truly cripples it. Eviolite is a held item, so you cannot put leftovers on a wall that is using it. This brings up an interesting toss-up where a Pokémon in the lower tiers may opt out of it for recovery because things don’t hit as hard down there. However, Porygon 2 pretty much needs it in its tier. The 50% increase is crazy because a Pokémon like Dusclops makes its evolution looks silly. I like Dusclops much more than Dusknoir and it is nice to see the little guy getting some use again.
Every tier below OU is made up of things that evolve into OU Pokémon. The use of eviolite has gone from something unique to an item that is almost as common as leftovers in the lower tiers. Little Cup is just a contest to see who can put eviolite on the most Pokémon. Lower tiers are full of stall because things lack the offensive power to hit the eviolite users. Ferroseed is too good at what it does. Did I mention that eviolite has ruined the concept of Pokémon getting new evolutions? Remember how we all thought it would be cool if Shuckle and Skarmory could evolve? Well, we can’t have nice things anymore. If you give things like those an evolution, then you will destroy the meta game. Skarmory with eviolite is a ridiculous concept and a Shuckle in the sand with an eviolite will laugh at your special hits. If you don’t find that scary, then you obviously don’t remember the fears regarding the new MewTwo form. People were not scared that it would be over powered. They were scared that it would be an evolution of MewTwo because an Eviolite MewTwo would be so strong that it would over centralize the Ubers tier.
I don’t like it because getting new evolutions for a lot of the Pokémon that I like would be catastrophic for the meta game. Although, there were no new evolutions to old Pokémon in fifth gen, so they may be throwing that idea away.
1). New Permanent Weather Users
Ninetails and Politoed received the abilities Drought and Drizzle respectively in Pokémon Black and White. Drought is an ability that puts up the sun for the duration of the battle. Drizzle is an ability that puts up the rain for the duration of the battle. Prior to fifth gen, only Groudon and Kyogre had access to these abilities which kept permanent sun and rain out of standard play. Both sun and rain do a lot of things that sand and hail do not. When the sun is up, fire moves get a power increase, water moves get a power decrease, solar beam does not need to charge for a turn, growth give you +2 in both attack stats, and abilities like Flower Gift and Chlorophyll activate. When the rain is up, water moves get a power increase, fire moves get a power decrease, thunder and hurricane have 100% accuracy, and abilities like Swift Swim and Hydration activate.
You can now use all four types of weather in standard play. The cool thing about sun and rain is the fact that they do so many things. The two types of weather brought quite a few Pokémon with them to the OU tier. The most notable ones would be Venasaur in the sun and Toxicroak in the rain. Abilities like rain dish used to be useless and you would have to really go out of their way to set up weather for Chlorophyll users. You would have to blow a move slot and usually a held item to get the full effect of your weather strategy. Your Scizor can live certain fire moves when it is in the rain and a defensive fire type won’t instantly die from a water move in the sun. This was meant to bring some weather variety to a meta game that was dominated by sand. Only cool people use hail.
I would like to call this the Weather War Meta Game. What was initially meant to bring diversity to the meta game has over centralized it. You better either bring weather or a team that does not get destroyed by a certain type of weather or you might as well not even be playing OU. Rain is so over powered that they banned the use of Swift Swim and Drizzle on the same team. This sucks because rain became a very stall heavy weather after that. Also, someone could bring a swift swimmer to counter your weather and you just helped your opponent. A lot of people run sunny day on Ninetails just to counter other weathers. Things have just gotten really out of control. Sand will never truly fall, but it at least has more balance to it than sun and rain. It damages most Pokémon and adds a special defense boost to rock types. Rock is a horrible defensive typing and that, plus lowering the accuracy of certain moves, barely makes up for all that rain does. They killed Sand Veil and very few Pokémon get sand abilities like Sand Force and Sand Stream. Hail is even weaker because it damages things that aren’t ice-types and it makes blizzard 100% accurate. You may be able to spam blizzard, but it has horrible PP and using too many ice-types will kill you. Ice is weak to almost everything out there. Sun and rain are just way too over powered for their own good.
I hate rain and I would like sun if it was easier to use. I am a big fan of a lot of the Pokémon that benefit from the sun. However, rain is too good. Also, Ninetails and Politoed have doubled the number of permanent weather users that mess up my hail teams.
Honorable Mention – Scald
I am pretty sure that this picture is from TheFlamingSpade. He is a great YouTube battler and you should really check him out. Scald is a water-type move with base 80 power and 100 accuracy. It is a special move with base 15 PP and it has a 30% chance of burning the opposing Pokémon. This move is used quite often because one hundred and seven different Pokémon receive the move.
This is a great attack on your defensive Pokémon. It has a very high base power and the 15 base power drop off from surf is worth the 30% chance to burn. A calm mind Suicune can run this move and not worry about taking physical hits due to its great base defense and the fact that you have a good chance of burning your opponent. Scald has allowed for burn to be a more prominent status in today’s meta game because you no longer have to rely on will-o-wisp, Flame Body, and fire-type moves with a much lower chance to burn. The ones that can actually get the job done like lava plume are not available to enough Pokémon. A lot of water-type Pokémon are defensive, so the move just makes sense. Burns really help you out with offensive powers like Haxorus and Kyurem-B running around the OU scene. It is also a great status to have on walls. You can’t toxic a Tentacruel.
Everything gets burned. Burns are way more annoying on your attackers than toxic because they cut your attack in half. Whoever thought of that mechanic truly hates physical attackers. You can essentially eliminate physical threats in an instant. A 30% chance to burn is way too high for a move with base 80 power and 100 accuracy. Add that to the fact that the move gets a power boost in the rain and you can see why rain is full of stall. Physical attackers are scared and a lot of people run scald on their offensive Pokémon just to be a dick. They could run surf, but that wouldn’t be annoying enough. Every team has a scald user and it is killing physical sweepers. Lum berries aren’t enough anymore because that 30% feels a lot like 100% when you are on the wrong end of the stick.
I like the move, but that is because I am the kind of asshole that likes to run stall. I also prefer special attackers and my favorite physical attacker, Toxicroak, is not affected by the move.
People will always battle. Pokémon is extremely popular and the innovations to the game will be played out. At this point, a lot of people have gotten used to the way things are. There are still complaints, but if you don’t like it, you can leave. A lot of people have latched onto that and gone back to fourth gen. I like both meta games to be honest. Fourth gen will always be special to me because I started competitively battling after Diamond and Pearl came out. However, I love a lot of what fifth gen brings to the table. The innovations that came with Black and White are past their testing phase and we should be looking forward to what X and Y will bring to the table. Will all of the Dream World abilities be out by then? Will they do something to balance out the weather wars? Will they introduce a new type of weather? Will Flareon get flare blitz? That last one is a dream that we may never see realized. Let’s just hope that the game continues to be fun and that we don’t outgrow Pokémon. What am I saying? I will always love Pokémon.