strange days ahead
Hey everyone. With the recent banslate having concluded, the council has since continued to discuss and closely monitor several of the Pokemon stated on the watchlist. In order to promote some transparency and discussion with the community before considering our next possible council vote, we’ve decided to include our individual reasoning for some of the Pokemon which have since remained here, which can be found below. Although this may be subject to change in the future, the following list consists of Kartana, Kyurem, Tapu Lele, Manaphy, Victini, Gyarados, Aegislash, Garganacl, and Weavile.
Kartana has always been one of the premier offensive Pokemon to have dropped since day 1, and has strongly carried its reputation ever since. What is quite possibly an offensive threat with the most absurd attacking stats in the current metagame to date along with its superb speed stat leaves very little room for defensive answers to develop against it. The most common check in Tornadus-T, has also recently left the tier, while Kartana can also salvage its decent physical bulk and resistances gained from its Steel typing to gauge more opportunities to wallbreak throughout a match, with Pokemon such as Rillaboom and Gliscor being commonplace on teams for it to regularly abuse the presence of. Furthermore, in addition to utilizing Z-Moves with its already strong Swords Dance sets, Kartana can also take advantage of Terestialization to have access to a more infuriatingly rewarding offensive option over this, giving it the potential to turn the tables on would-be checks such as Mega Latias and Iron Hands with Tera Grass allowing it to dodge OHKOes from them, while still being able to pummel the likes of Skarmory and Celesteela with additional techs such as Fightinium Z, or even running Choice Scarf to act as a surprisingly adept cleaner; invalidating the use of possible revenge killers such as Choice Scarf Blacephalon against it, and keeping its great offensive utility options in Knock Off and Toxic to better soften its defensive answers before going in to clean late-game. In general, whether or not this insane wallbreaking potential should continue to be allowed is up for heavy debate.
Kyurem andTapu Lele
Kyurem and Tapu Lele are both in a fairly similar boat to Kartana, largely owing to the immense power of their boosted attacks, and a perfectly decent speed tier to boot. With options such as Choice Specs, very few Pokemon can safely stand up to their STAB moves alone, while the Steels which would check them are similarly at risk of being put in a bad spot thanks to the prominence of HP Fire and Focus Blast, meaning you often have to dance around the 50/50 in order to not get instantly dropped. The few Pokemon that can typically answer the attacking combo from these sets - that being Jirachi, Slowking, Aegislash, and Victini, are also greatly threatened by boosted Earth Power or Shadow Ball respectively, while the latter two not having any form of reliable recovery made it common-place for them to be simply overpowered by repeated switches in the long-run. Couple this with the high amount of opportunities they got against defensive Pokemon such as Ting-Lu and Gliscor, or through pivoting support on anything unable to KO it in return, and both Pokemon come off as very concerning offensive threats that may be too detrimental to the development of certain aspects behind the future metagame.
Manaphy lacks relevant counters, period. Despite the downtick in rain teams with the rises of its most common abusers and enabler, Pelipper. The prominence of Tail Glow sets on Hyper Offense continues to make Manaphy a very threatening Pokemon in this more defensive phase. With solid all-around defenses of base 100 and a pure Water typing, grabbing a Tail Glow boost is very easy to do on more passive or even neutral targets, mostly necessitating that you directly switch in a Pokemon to deal with it, which is an incredibly risky maneuver given that most wallbreakers in the tier that can even come close to threatening Manaphy, are either slower or unable to reliably pick up the OHKO from full, putting them at risk of having to take a hit at +3, capable of taking out most options out after very little chip damage in return, often ensuring that you lose at least one Pokemon to it at most. To take this idea even further, most hyper offense teams with Manaphy also opt for either one of Sticky Webs or Dual Screens support, making Manaphy even tougher to stop by limiting the amount of possible revenge killers that can be used against it. Defensive answers aren’t much better off either, Tail Glow generally allows Manaphy to power through resists as mentioned above, and the few ones that are KOed a little less easily, such as Gastrodon and Amoonguss, are unable to deal sufficient damage back whilst the former also requires a dedicated Tera slot (one that resists either Grass or Ice) in order to wear it down reliably.
Victini continues to surge upwards with its winning streak from the last few generations, and has shown very little hesitation of slowing down ever since. Z-Celebrate has generally been its most common set, taking advantage of its superb bulk and nearly unresisted coverage to steamroll entire teams after an omni-boost. What makes it especially powerful however, is the loss of prominent revenge killing options against it. With most of rain, Urshifu-RS through screens, and even Dragonite all having rose to OU this shift, this renders the list of potential revenge killers against this set mostly barren, being essentially limited to Sand Rush Excadrill, Choice Scarf Blacephalon, and the niche rain options of Barraskewda and Floatzel in the present, the former two of which cannot OHKO a healthy Victini through Defense boosts and/or with Screens up. Beyond this, defensive answers consist of using Calm Mind Mega Latias, Chople Berry Tyranitar (requires at least 46% of chip), Ting-Lu (needs to be above 50% HP with hazards to soft-check), and the Slowtwins to stop it, all of which can be potentially lured with other coverage options or sets like Choice Band in the making.
In a vicious sea of new offensive threats, Gyarados still stands out despite reprising much of its main role from last generation. Similar to previously, teams struggle to find reliable defensive counterplay to Dragon Dance sets after a boost, and many of the revenge killers to either variant are also unreliable given the significant difference in offensive counterplay between the two forms - regular Gyarados often runs either Flyinium Z or Tera Blast (with Flying), being able to blow past common Fighting and Grass-type answers such as Buzzwole and Tangrowth for the latter, while Mega Gyarados’s extra bulk, reduced weaknesses to Electric and Rock, and additional resistances to Dark and Psychic allows it to soak hits from would-be answers such as Mega Aerodactyl and Choice Scarf Blacephalon in return, affording it some extra setup opportunities as well. This too can be exacerbated by the fact that the Mega Gyarados user has the option to change forms at will, although the indifference witnessed upon preview between these two is more often than not enough. Such a highly unfavorable set of mindgames overwhelmingly placed in the Gyarados user’s favor has since left much to us in question.
Aegislash is not like any of the Pokemon on this list - it doesn’t outright sweep entire teams, nor does it present the same alluring threat potential that other options have. But rather, its combination of a fantastic typing, exceptional base stats, and immense versatility come together to create a Pokemon arguably too extreme in its effect and centralization on the metagame. With an increased amount of offensive opportunities granted by a crucial set of resistances to the tier’s many offensive types, commonly utilized on Pokemon such as Tapu Lele and Latios, Aegislash has no problem finding its way into a match to cause havoc, especially with the lack of long-term Ghost-resists in the tier, while those that can on paper such as Zarude don’t come close to being splashable whatsoever. In addition, the recent shifts have also given Aegislash more freedom to tap into its extensive movepool options, further cementing its status as a major asset to nearly every team it can be found on; SubToxic has generally been the most prominent choice, easily forcing in and wearing down passive answers like Ting-Lu and Amoonguss, whilst having the most defensive applicability and longevity all-around, but we’ve also begun to see more experimentation with Swords Dance and Mixed Variants, giving Aegislash vastly more power to break defensive teams in conjunction with Tera Ghost, while still maintaining its excellent defensive utility against the aforementioned Pokemon on more offensive teams. It also doesn’t help that the two most prominent Pursuitters in the tier: Tyranitar and Weavile, are incapable of reliability trapping Aegislash in a one-on-one thanks to King’s Shield, on top of having to tread carefully around Close Combat and having issues with longevity against even SubToxic sets thanks to Terestialization.
Two words: Salt Cure. Pair this with a simple combination of Iron Defense + Body Press, along with Recover and the option to Terestialize into many different defensive types, and it’s no surprise that Garganacl has made a name for itself as one of the most threatening sweepers around. Given the lack of difficulty surrounding the need to acquire Defense boosts, there are very few Pokemon in the current metagame that are able to reliably force Garganacl out - the short list mostly consisting of strong special wallbreakers like Choice Specs Tapu Lele and Kyurem, as well as phazing moves from Pokemon such as Skarmory and Ting-Lu with a dedicated Tera slot, a common response on more defensive teams that can potentially play around it via hazard stacking and abusing Recover’s lower PP, but these are generally considered to be far too unreliable; the former is heavily dependent on the Garganacl user’s Tera Type not being resisted, as well as the offensive Pokemon switching in being at high enough health to take boosted Body Presses and Salt Cure’s excessive damage late-game, while the latter strategy often consists of being unable to deal much direct damage back, meaning that Garganacl is more often than not able to sweep in a similar fashion once the aftermentioned reponses have been sufficently weakened. As we can see, Garganacl’s oppressive nature against offense and defense alike cannot be overstated regardless of the differences it possesses from the others above.
Weavile has incredible offensive stats and the speed to go along with it, bolstered further by the incredible utility carried by both Knock Off and Pursuit, which against a tier starved for longevity on some of its premier defensive Pokemon, such as Tapu Fini and the Slowtwins, goes a lot way in making Weavile and its offensively-minded teammates at their most threatening on both sides of the spectrum. Additionally, with Tera here to stay, the options Weavile has to make itself even more threatening are nothing short of accessible to it. Choice Band Tera Dark has the capacity to easily 2HKO the entire metagame, with average defensive Pokemon such as Scizor and Dondozo folding to its immense power with even the slightest chip, a difficult trap to escape and not hard to fall into thanks to the surefire removal of Boots of Leftovers on said switchins, while Swords Dance sets packing Tera Poison (with Poison Jab) can trade the immense power of Choice Band to focus on beating down its specific checks, such as Buzzwole and Tapu Fini with the crucial resistances afford to it by Fairy and Fighting, as well as Grass to making revenge killing it with even the few options available, such as Choice Scarf variants of Tapu Lele and Kartana, more than a dangerous prospect for the opponent offensively.
Please take the time to share any thoughts you have in the metagame thread, as well as any potential additions you may think are worth looking into moving forward, we greatly appreciate having any form of additional input from the community before our next slate, and see you all in a few days.