With Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl being fresh new releases, their competitive scene exists in its infancy as players slowly try to figure out the metagame. A metagame that on the surface seems familiar to the old days of the fourth generation games, but with a plethora of new additions that make things much fresher.
A Brief History
Blaziken was infamous in the days when it first acquired its blessing from the fifth generation’s Dream World, a powerful ability known as Speed Boost. Even as the Pokédex expanded, Blaziken’s sheer power always landed it in the realm of Smogon’s Ubers tier, and this was furthered by Blaziken eventually gaining a Mega Evolution in Pokémon X and Y.
The player base was on edge when Blaziken, along with many other threats previously banned to Ubers, finally returned to the scene thanks to Pokemon Sword and Shield’s DLC. However, players immediately noticed that Blaziken was underperforming compared to its past iterations. Eventually, Blaziken did the unthinkable and dropped out of the OverUsed tier into UnderUsed, where it would be banned once again, now resting in UUBL.
Why Blaziken was Banned in BDSP
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl return to the limited Pokédex of the Sinnoh days, so it appears Blaziken has once again become a tyrant of competitive play. Without the roadblocks that stopped it in its tracks in Sword and Shield like Landorus-Therian, Toxapex and Tapu Fini, Blaziken was free to wreak havoc on the OU tier once again.
Speed Boost is still an incredible ability which boosts Blaziken’s Speed stat by one stage at the end of each turn, and these speed boosts can be compounded with Swords Dance which will double Blaziken’s Attack stat. This deadly boosting combo combined with the excellent STAB attacking duo of Flare Blitz and Close Combat makes Blaziken a potent sweeper at any point in a game.
Much like many Pokémon, Blaziken’s movepool has been reduced as a result of transferring Pokémon to BDSP not currently being an option, but even a single coverage move in Night Slash or Shadow Claw can help it cut down even some of its best checks in Pokémon like Starmie and Slowbro. Protect is also a classic move choice for Blaziken, as it affords it a turn free of damage and a free speed boost as well.
With the banning of Drizzle and the slowdown of dedicated Rain teams in the OU metagame, Blaziken became too much for the rest of the tier to handle, and thus a quickban was issued for Hoenn’s blazing chicken.
How Will Blaziken Fare in Ubers?
Historically, Blaziken has had its moments of viability in the Ubers tier even without its powerful Mega Evolution. By just holding a Life Orb, Blaziken leans fully into its hyper-offensive playstyle and powers itself up to even beyond the attacking stats of its once great Mega Evolution.
Low Kick becomes a consistenly powerful attack that rivals the power of Close Combat, but without the drawback of Blaziken’s defenses being lowered. This is due to the average weight of Pokémon in the Ubers tier being enough to max out the power of Low Kick. Plus, Blaziken retains great coverage like Night Slash and Stone Edge which it can use to easily tear through its would be checks like Giratina or Ho-oh. Blaziken also has a great teammate in Groudon that can set up the harsh sunlight to boost Blaziken’s Flare Blitz to Uber-slaying degrees.
The limited dex works in Blaziken’s favor yet again in the tier above OU, and surely it will find itself a comfortable niche in the metagame filled with the game’s strongest Pokémon.
Next on the Chopping Block
As the metagame continues to be figured out by Smogon’s tiering councils and player base, more bans are surely coming down the pipeline for BDSP OU.
Latios is confirmed to be the next suspect tested Pokémon, with Manaphy on deck right after. Latios, as well as its sister Latias, were banned from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum’s OU tier for being the embodiment of the metagame-defining Dragon-types. However, since then Draco Meteor has had its power reduced to 130, Soul Dew’s stat boost was weakened and now Fairy-types like Clefable exist to soak up Draco Meteor upon switch-in. The removal of Pursuit from the eighth generation games was a blessing for Psychic-types everywhere and certainly have helped both Lati-twins rise back to relevancy.
Manaphy losing its Rain-enabling Drizzle partners hurts it a bit by slowing down its Rest plus Hydration healing combo, but its great stats combined with the modern boosting power of Tail Glow make it a force still to be reckoned with.
Debate still rages on regarding the fate of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s competitive hierarchy, but for now the OU tier can once again rejoice in collectively saying “bye bye” to Blaziken.
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