Growing up loving Pokemon, I have so many favorites (as I’m sure many of us do). In particular I fell in love with Cradily the moment I discovered it in Pokemon Ruby all those years ago. Many of our favorites, like Cradily, just don’t seem to have the power to compete with others in the high tiers, particularly Over Used (OU). They get placed in low tiers to create better balance. Using Cradily as an example, it is currently in Never Used (NU). I’m here to tell you you CAN use your favorites on a higher tier team, and you SHOULD.
So you have a favorite Pokemon that’s below the respectful tier you wish to use. Follow these steps to help prepare yourself to use your favorite in the tier of your desire.
Step One: Decide which Pokemon you want to use and how to use it!
This step seems simple, but it’s best to look past just throwing a Pokemon into a team. You need to understand where your Pokemon fits in the competitive scene, what its battle strategies are, its weaknesses, strengths, etc. Start by using Smogon’s boards, search your Pokemon and look at how it’s used.
Using Cradily as our example, most common set on Smogon is a special wall. Now is when your own knowledge can help you make decisions. I know Cradily has high special defense, but its attack and special attack are equal, so which attacks should I run? Looking at Cradily’s Hidden Ability, Storm Drain, which raises its special attack, means I could favor special attack in order to capitalize this ability. Knowing about your favorite Pokemon’s Stats, Abilities, and move sets can help you decide how to run your Pokemon.
Step Two: Build your team!
So you have your Pokemon, its stat spread (Ev’s and IV’s), ability and move set chosen. Using it in a higher tier is fine so long as it has a team to complement it. Is yo0ur team going to be balanced? Stall? Hyper Offense? Decide this before hand and get ready to build. At this point I do recommend trying to use Pokemon from the desired tier to help with your power in battle.
Cradily is a great counter to Water types with it’s ability and typing. Where it is not great is against Steel types. Most Cradily sets run Toxic Stall (Toxic + Recover/leftovers). Steel is immune, which causes them to wall Cradily. So on this team I need something to take out Steel. I personally love going with Magnezone. Traps Steel, and Hidden Power Fire does the rest.
Again: Know your Pokemon’s strength’s and weaknesses! Compliment it with your team so that your lower tier Pokemon isn’t out of place!
Step Three: Practice, Practice, Practice!
Get on Pokemon Showdown. Easily the best place to practice team building and battles. Practice using your favorite, get a feel for it’s strength’s and when to switch. It’s ok to lose a bunch of battles at first, it’s all about getting the feel of things so you can start to WIN! One of the strengths to using a low tier Pokemon is that other teams wont be prepared for it. Use that to your advantage! After a lot of practice you should get a handle for the meta game, and your own teams strategy.
Practicing on 3DS is harder. There aren’t tiers set up, so you may end up facing teams of ubers (crazy good legendaries and megas banned in OU), which wont give you a feel for your teams usage. This is why Showdown is preferred overall. Finding groups of Pokemon loving friends, online leagues, etc. will also help with practicing.
Another great way to figure out how your favorite might fit on a team is to try out making a monotype team. Monotype’s are forced to use Pokemon in tiers below OU because they don’t have enough high tier Pokemon of that type, or not enough to fill out a proper team design. On monorock Cradily is used a lot as a Water Counter (obviously), and a Special wall. Learn these things about your Pokemon and practice teams like this. Pokemon Showdown has a monotype tier, with some special bans, so look into it before forming a team.
As a small disclaimer: Not all Pokemon may be suitable for using in the high tiers. If your favorite is an unevolved Pokemon, like Bulbasaur, you wont find any help bringing it to OU. Best to keep this strategy to fully evolved Pokemon, or ones that greatly benefit from Eviolite.
There you have it. Figure out which Pokemon you want to make work, and figure out how to get it to flow well on a team. If you have any questions, ask the leaders! We have a lot of experience using low tier Pokemon on our gym teams. Hell, I have two under used Pokemon on my main OU team (Can’t say which, spoilers).
Smell ya later!