As generation 6 is coming to an end, it is time to quickly give an overview of some of the most important trends in the ORAS metagame. ORAS Mega stones had something for every playstyle: stall got M-Sableye and M-Slowbro, balance got M-Loppuny, M-Latias, M-Gallade and M-Altaria while offense got M-Manectric, M-Metagross, M-Diancie and M-Swampert. In this article we will go through some trends that happened since the introduction of ORAS. The main focus of this article will be on Pokemon Showdown ladder trends, as their impact is larger on the average player than tours and tournaments.
Decline of hyper offense (HO) and rise of bulky offense (BO)
At the end of XY, the meta was fairly offensive in nature and most teams were HO. With ORAS the style favored VoltTurn cores that helped to gain momentum.
Some common Volt-Turn users
At the end of XY, the meta was fairly offensive in nature and most teams were HO. With ORAS the style favored VoltTurn cores that helped to gain momentum. The addition of M-Beedrill (at early stages at least) and M-Manectric in particular favored the use of popular VoltTurn offense teams since it formed good cores with fast U-Turn users such as scarf Landorus-T or Tornadus-T. These teams often carried a powerful wallbreaker mon that would be brought safely against into the battle. Examples of these kind of teams are the following.
– Arik’s team
– njnp’s team
The popularity of these teams made people adapt and gave rise to bulkier teams designed to punish the switches U-Turn and Volt Switch create while not being crippled by it. An example of this was the introduction of tank Chomp. With 108/95/85 bulk, it has more physical bulk than Swampert while having an arguably better typing for a defensive role coupled with a great defensive ability and a higher speed tier. This in particular allowed tank Chomp to outspeed and KO Bisharp, a common threat to offensive teams, as a +2 Sucker Punch does not kill Garchomp. Moreover, immunity to electric attacks and the ability to deal up to 30% damage when opponents make a contact move meant it discouraged mindless U-Turn spam. Although a fair amount of megas introduced in ORAS were offensive or meant to be used in offensive teams, the meta shaped to deal with most of these teams favoring bulkier teams that could still hard. Most of these mons were not exactly walls, they were considered tanks coupled with a revenge killer and a set up sweeper. Examples of these playstyle are the following teams.
– WECAMEASROMAN’s team
– ABR and blunder’s team
Interestingly enough, this trend made certain mons fade into oblivion while making others pretty good at their given time. For example, M-Altaria was really high in usage and even considered S ranking at one point. As bulkier teams appeared, M-Altaria’s lack of immediate raw power was evident and its usage decreased. At the same time, M-Metagross became the face of BO while also pressuring fat fairies like Clefable and M-Altaria itself and M-Venusaur, all common mons on bulky teams.
Clefable rose to stardom in the XY/ORAS metagame, largely in part due to its new typing.
This advantage ultimately led to its suspect test where it was not banned. M-Metagross usage was later affected by two trends that we will cover next.
It’s a Trap! Stall Strikes Back
Although stall has always been a viable playstyle, it was fairly difficult to build a successful stall team during the XY metagame due to its offensive nature. Calm Mind Landorus-I, Aegislash, M-Gardevoir, Keldeo and old Baton Pass teams made stall a very difficult playstyle. However, after a number of suspect tests, namely the ban of Landorus-I, the baton pass nerf(s) and the addition of M-Sableye, stall became much more viable. This was also favored by the decrease in HO teams and the overall bulkier meta that had trouble sometimes to break through stall. M-Slowbro seemed like a nice addition as it gave a win condition to stall teams who rely mostly on passive damage from either status or entry hazards. While it was indeed a good member on a number of teams, soon players discovered the wonders of using M-Sableye on stall. Not only contributed as a spinblocker (rare on Gen 6) but it check a lot of physical attackers that could break through classic stall, such as M-Medicham. It also provided a way to control the hazard war, something that is key to beating stall as it is guaranteed that both sides will be switching a lot. Coupled with a defogger like Skarmory, Mandibuzz, or Zapdos, stall had a great chance to keep hazards off its field while keeping them on their opponent’s side.
Another component that has been used to full effect on stall is trapping. The concept of trapping is not new, if you remember the BW2 meta it was mainly dragmag teams where Magnezone would get rid of steels so that dragon spam could win the game. Pursuit trapping is also an old yet effective way to remove certain threats or walls. Examples of this is the classic Charizard-Y/Tyranitar or Keldeo/Tyranitar combo. Choiced (either Band or Scarf depending on the team) Tyranitar removes Lati@s that wall the special attackers mentioned so that they can go through teams very easily as most teams don’t have any other answers to them. During the ORAS generation, Shadow Tag, in particular the use of choiced Gothithelle, was a huge component of the metagame. This is because despite forming a good stall team there were several threats that can break through this teams like Rain Dance Manaphy or Calm Mind Clefable. Gothithelle helped remove this pokemon very effectively, sometimes even being able to trap and remove more than one pokemon per game (Heatran, opposing Chansey, Clefable, M-Venusaur, etc). Although Gothitelle trapping was not exclusive to this playstyle, it certainly took the spotlight in these kind of teams and eventually was the cause for Shadow Tag being banned from OU altogether (RIP Wobbuffet).
Even then, the combination of trapping + stall still proved to be very powerful as other types of trapping also helped to build very effective (and arguably annoying) teams against a large portion of the meta. Examples include Weavile stall featuring CB Weavile pursuit trapping offensive stall breakers like Taunt Tornadus-T, Hoopa-U (big threat to stall), etc. Another interesting use of trapping came with the combination of RU/NU mons Dugtrio and Shedinja, respectively. Commonly referred as the “Wonder Trio” (along M-Sableye), Shedinja uses baton pass on the switch to effectively trap a key opposing pokemon such as Heatran or Tyranitar. Although there was a time in the ladder where everyone was spamming the team, after a while Dugtrio in stall teams faded away until very recently where new teams have been claiming rage quits all over the ladder. The addition of a double defog core in SkarmDos, similar to what we encounter in Monotype Flying teams, provides great support to standard stall teams and allows them to handle all threats after Dugtrio killed the opposing stall breaker (M-Heracross, CB Tyranitar, Kyurem-B), keeping its sash intact for the task. Almost immediately, a new Wonder Trio team would make a reappearance, this time with the help of Eject Button Alomomola. This ensures that Dugtrio safely switches into Pokemon it needs to remove even if his sash is broken. The success of this team (plus the tears of most players in the ladder) has brought us another suspect test on Sablenite. While M-Sableye itself is not “broken” or does not fit the support characteristic of unhealthy according to Smogon’s definition; it is once again the extremely powerful combination of trapping + stall that proofs to be overpowered.
– CleanerThanRotom-W’s team
– Branflakes325’ team
– Tele’s team
– Tio Chico’s team
Notice that this archetype has brought plenty of changes around the meta: it has caused 2 suspect tests (original M-Sableye + Shadow Tag, ongoing Sablenite), has moved up Amoongus to OU from UU, has moved up Dugtrio to OU from RU and has indirectly caused the drop of many mons from OU. Now that we are entering a new generation and new toys will be available for both offense and stall, do not forget that stall is a very viable playstyle and you should always account for it when team building.
During the later stages of ORAS this style started to grow in popularity since it had good matchups against balance and common offensive teams. Strong wallbreakers take care of balanced teams while Excadrill outspeeds and murders HO teams. Sand offense typically included Tyranitar over Hippowdon as the former not only has a better offensive presence but it can trap specially defensive pokemon such as Lati@s, Tornadus-T (only with scarf) or Chansey. These teams became so popular that it also brought Tangrowth back to OU from the pits of RU. Indeed, Tangrowth works excellent on sand teams and against them. With massive defenses and resistances to Ground and Water, Tangrowth can switch into Azumarill or Breloom with ease preventing them from revenge killing Excadrill in sand with their strong super effective priorities. On the other hand, it has a great movepool with excellent utility moves such as Knock Off, Sleep Powder, Stun Spore and Leech Seed.
Around the same time, Volcanion release on Showdown happened and quickly lead into a lot of experimentation. At first sight, it seemed like Volcanion was a perfect fit for sand teams: it is immune to water attacks, it checks Azumarill nicely with Sludge Wave/Bomb and goes well with Tyranitar. However as the weeks went by, people realized Volcanion was not as great as they would have expected. The fact that it has slowish speed combined with a Stealth Rock weakness did not justify its use over other mons that give him competition over the strong special attacker category such as Keldeo or Latios.
As a consequence of these type of teams being very popular, some trends were observed these past year. First, a considerable increase in the already popular Landorus-T was observed to help check Excadrill better. Second, M-Metagross, M-Manectric and M-Charizard X usage decreased due to being weak to Excadrill. This also marked the end of M-Altaria in OU as the little usage it had disappeared for obvious reasons.
– Clone’s team
– Ethanlol’s team
– ABR/High Impulse’s Team
– Confide’s Team
Spam of the Bird Spam
Finally, for the last eight months or so a particular team has been spammed in the ladder with surprising success despite some bad matchups in the metagame. Xtra’s bird spam team is a HO team that was originally conceived more than a year ago but was popularized semi recently by Empo who peaked the ladder several times with different alts using the same team. While XY saw its fair share of bird spam teams with the addition of Talonflame and M-Pinsir, the inclusion of different stall breakers makes this team really hard to stop once it gets going. The main concept is to overload its counters with strong attackers to ensure a late game clean by one of its set up sweepers. Once again, this team has been very effective and I’d be surprised if you have not faced it while laddering as it is favored by many players because it typically results in quick games, making laddering and acquiring reqs a faster endeavor. As a result of this, the meta has seen a rise in physically defensive Zapdos to take this team better and also the appearance of Adamant Quick Attack M-Lopunny. Adamant M-Lopunny has a high chance of killing lead Azelf with a combination of Fake Out + Return, something Jolly fails to do. Aditionally, the extra power plus the two priorities (Fake Out and Quick Attack) help a lot against Band Talonflame and other strong priority users.
– Xtra$hine’s team
Generation 6 brought a pool of new toys to the metagame including new abilities, Pokemon, mega evolutions, and more. Power creep was an issue, especially with the introduction of mega Pokemon like M-Kangaskhan, M-Mawile, M-Salamence, and M-Lucario. Gamefreak has made clear that they intend to nerf some of these features for the Sun-Moon metagame. The Fairy type transformed the type chart, and overall there was a shift towards a more physically offensive metagame. With just a few days remaining until the release of Sun-Moon, the dawn of a new generation is sure to throw the metagame through a series of big loops.