Monday, May 2, 2011

Competitive Battling Spotlight #10: A Step Toward an Official Metagame

Last night on Smogon a list of the usage statistics for Pokemon Black and White was revealed, showing the list of every Pokemon in the order of which they are most used. This in turn reveals a rough OU and UU category, though nothing is set in stone as of now. There are some slight surprises, and some not-so-surprises, and I will discuss my brief thoughts here. Feel free to share your own thoughts in regards to this developing scene.

The Top Five:

Ferrothorn, Tyranitar and Scizor as the respective First, Second and Third slots really don't surprise me all that much. Of course T-tar and Scizor are as effective as ever in the new metagame, but I am a slight bit surprised that something like Latios or Reuniclus didn't take over from there. Ferrothorn is no surprise at all, as with its worst nightmare Chandelure banned, it is one of the best (if not the best) walls in the entire game. As annoying as it is, I have to hand it to Ferro as deserving of the top spot. The number four spot, Garchomp, again didn't surprise me as much. With something that is ideally no worse than it was 4th gen (and in 4th gen it was Uber!) its great Speed, monstrous Attack and excellent bulk make it a promising force to be reckoned with. The last slot is filled by none other than Gliscor, presumably thanks to its new Poison Heal ability that allows it to not be burned, put to sleep or paralyzed and also recovers more health than Leftovers. This is just the asset Gliscor has needed and along with good bulk, fast Speed and a decent Attack stat (as well as access to Swords Dance) it has easily soared into the Top Five. Of course, whether or not it holds its place in the coming months is about anyone's guess right now.

Other things that were expected:

Excadrill, Rotom-W, Conkeldurr and Politoed came in at 7, 10, 11 and 13 respectively, and while some of those numbers could have been a little higher, it is without question that each of these is deserving (almost annoyingly so) of a secure spot in OU. Three of these four have the extreme potential to abuse weather, being arguably the only reason for Excadrill's and Politoed's ascent. Conkeldurr, however, is just monstrous and with a stat spread, movepool and typing like that, I'd be surprised if this thing were anything less than OU. It really has the ability to fit on almost any type of team.

Jirachi, Gengar, Dragonite, and Skarmory (among a few others) have returned to OU, with essentially the same exact role as last generation (bar Dragonite, who now has an amazing new ability). I think this reflects both how much the metagame has shifted since last Gen and also how much it has not. That something like ScarfRachi with Iron Head/Body Slam or Spikes/SR/Whirlwind Skarm is still an effective teammate in the new metagame reveals the need for such Pokemon in such a fast-paced, heavily-offensive pregame. If they were any lower in position, it would show that the metagame has increased in power by a lot (which it obviously hasn't), and if they were any higher in position, it would show that the metagame really hasn't changed at all. It is with these OU returners that we can see a true landmark in the rankings of the Pokemon, and in turn can attempt to compare the old with the new.

Thundurus, Jellicent, Volcarona and Scrafty are all examples of new Pokemon that have come in and have taken the metagame by storm. With the mixture of good abilities, great stats, and never-before-seen typings, these four have really found their place in the new game. These are all about Middle OU, and for that I think it's safe to say they are cemented in place. They each have their own niche, and they each have their share of wondrous qualities that prevents them from being outclassed by anything. It is definitely interesting to see good Pokemon like this blend in well with the good Pokemon of last gen.

Things that were unexpected: 

The first frame of mention is over the "cutoff spot" in the OU tier. Tornadus, the pure Flying type genie, has secured this place. While its great stats (identical to its brother Thundurus) are not to be overlooked, it is essentially inferior to Thundurus in that Flying is a much weaker typing than Electric/Flying. Also, its movepool is much lacking, bar its STAB Hurricane. But even with that, it really has no great usage potential outside of the rain.

While on the topic of Electric/Flying, Zapdos has been relegated to UU, which does seem a bit unfair. We were shown how much of a monster this thunderbird could be last generation, and it hasn't gotten any worse at all in the shift. In fact, it gained an asset of Lightningrod, adding a new immunity to its arsenal and allowing for the potential to boost its already powerful Special Attack. Of course, with Lightningrod a number of its 4th gen moves like Heat Wave cannot be used, but I think this is an even tradeoff. Hopefully Zapdos will pick it up in the coming months to earn a bottom slot in OU.

Overall, there is a lot to be discussed with this new revelation, and while there is much more I would like to say, I am going to cut it off here. I will likely be making a new post sometime later today or tomorrow adding to these thoughts, so stay tuned. Also, I am very aware that these statistics are not 100% definite, and this is not the "Official" standings, but it is always fun to see how things change in the months of playing Pokemon. Until there is an official metagame, this is all we've got, and I do say that there is a lot to be learned from it, and a lot to be anticipated in the very near future.

Thank you all!

Click HERE to see a list of the original posting on Smogon :D

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