Hello everyone! We have all arrived at the dawn of a new metagame; a perfect moment to evaluate not only our strengths throughout the National Dex era as council members, but also, and perhaps even more importantly, to address the areas with room for improvement. One such area is the degree of transparency between the council & community. Admittedly, considering the nature of Anything Goes as a metagame, it is hard to maintain a consistently sufficient degree of transparency between these two entities: there are no suspect tests, nor any On The Radar threads, that provide a medium for the council to reach out to the community about the general state of our metagame.
However, we acknowledge the importance of this aspect, and have decided to tackle the lack thereof with this thread, in which we, the council, share the way we regard the metagame and how we feel about it.
Hi again! As you all probably know by now, AG has made the shift from the National Dex format to the Galar Dex format with the release of DLC II, and as expected, our metagame has been considerably shaken up.
Perhaps the most influential and unforeseen change has been the introduction of Calyrex-SR. Sporting a Speed tier that surpasses even Zacian-C's, tremendous offensive prowess courtesy of its high Special Attack, a free itemslot, a killer STAB move, and a great ability, as well as access to Nasty Plot, all the coverage it needs, and an immunity to Extreme Speed, Calyrex-SR has redefined AG to a significant degree.
Both Choice Specs and Life Orb Nasty Plot variants have proven to be highly dangerous presences. Choice Specs is the most splashable set, providing teams with phenomenal wallbreaking capabilities and Speed control. Outside of bulky Yveltal and Tyranitar, not much can handle a Choice Specs-boosted Astral Barrage. Those that can, such as specially defensive Ho-Oh and the pink blobs, are swiftly taken down by Psyshock. Even the aforementioned Dark-types aren't entirely safe; Calyrex-SR can cripple them beyond repair with Trick. This leaves it with one free moveslot, which it may dedicate to Aromatherapy for team support, or even just Nasty Plot in order to have an easier time breaking through a team after tricking away Choice Specs and to take advantage of Dynamax breaking the Choice lock.
On the other hand, Life Orb Nasty Plot boasts the highest ceiling, trading away some longevity for the ability to switch up moves and break through bulky Dark-types much more directly with a boosted Max Starfall off of Draining Kiss. Consistently checking this set has proven to be nigh impossible outside of Speed control through the likes of Ditto, Sucker Punch Yveltal, and, ironically, Choice Scarf Calyrex-SR, its third set. It is after all not a surprise for a Pokemon to rock a Choice Scarf set with this Speed tier, STAB move, and ability. While it may not offer comparable amounts of wallbreaking support, Choice Scarf Calyrex-SR still stands out as a terrific form of Speed control, capable of outspeeding even a Geomancy-boosted Xerneas, while still being capable of messing with its checks due to Trick, as well as posing as a respectable wallbreaker, especially if running Nasty Plot in its last moveslot.
Zacian-C, our previous metagame titan, has lost quite a bit of its appeal as a result of Calyrex-SR's presence. Not only does Zacian-C forfeit tons of momentum currently against any Calyrex-SR team, it also suffers from the increased amount of Speed control on a majority of teams. That is not to say, however, that it is a negligible threat all of a sudden. Zacian-C remains uncounterable outside of Necrozma-DM and Quagsire, and should still be respected in the teambuilder.
On the other hand, some offensive Pokemon that are thriving right now are Yveltal, Life Orb Eternatus, Xerneas, Zekrom, and Dragon Dance Zygarde-C. Yveltal massively benefits from Calyrex-SR's stranglehold on the metagame. Not only is it one of the only Pokemon capable of forcing Calyrex-SR out with Sucker Punch, it also doesn't mind Trick that much, and is even capable of replenishing its health with Roost if desired, without necessarily compromising much outside of situationally handy coverage. Not having to worry anymore about an infestation in Arceus-Dark and Arceus-Fairy definitely further adds up to Yveltal's prowess in the current metagame.
Eternatus and Zekrom were previously held back by the metagame's popular Ground-types in Primal Groudon and Arceus-Ground. With these Ground-types out of the way, soft-checking these two behemoths has all of a sudden become a lot harder. On top of this, Eternatus benefits a lot from Zacian-C's decline, which makes pivoting around its unresisted coverage more daunting than ever before without a Blissey, Chansey, or Tyranitar. Eternatus also offers significant defensive utility, even with its offensive sets, as a Toxic Spikes and status absorber, as well as a Ho-Oh counter. Meanwhile, Zekrom easily takes advantage of common defensive staples right now, such as Necrozma-DM, specially defensive Ho-Oh and Eternatus, and bulky Yveltal, all the while lacking solid counterplay outside of Lunala.
Xerneas still lacks counterplay outside of Necrozma-DM, specially defensive Ho-Oh, and Chansey. Losing Hidden Power Fire hasn't tarnished its reputation as one of the metagame's strongest wincons one bit; Substitute has taken over Hidden Power Fire's slot, allowing Xerneas to dance around Necrozma-DM's Dynamax, and making it harder to revenge kill. In short, not much has changed for Xerneas, so it retains its dominant spot. Dragon Dance Zygarde-C on the other hand no longer has to fret about defensive Arceus forms plaguing the metagame, which has effectively narrowed down its list of counters to Lugia and Lunala. Logically, it is therefore in a significantly more comfortable spot compared to a week ago.
Despite all of these threats, balanced and bulky offensive teams are regarded as the most consistent archetypes, simply due to offering solid ways of outplaying most relevant threats in the metagame. However, the metagame being bombarded by a plethora of offensive juggernauts on top of the loss of Arceus forms has resulted in a very constricted reality with regards to what defensive options are actually salvageable right now. Importantly, things to note are:
Necrozma-DM remains our premier Stealth Rock setter, Zacian-C check, and Xerneas check.
Ho-Oh remains our best Defogger and has switched to a specially defensive set due to Yveltal, Calyrex-SR, and Xerneas's presence.
Specially defensive Eternatus is nigh mandatory due to being the best form of counterplay against Kyogre and Toxic Spikes.
Bulky Yveltal has seen a huge rise in usage as a reaction to Calyrex-SR's presence.
Bulky Zygarde-C and Lunala are some of the most effective walls, capable of handling miscellaneous dangerous threats such as Dragon Dance Zygarde-C, Swords Dance Groudon and Rayquaza, and in Lunala's case, Dragon Dance Zekrom.
Speed control has never been as common as it is now, with Choice Scarf Calyrex-SR and Ditto, as well as Sucker Punch Yveltal being very common additions to many teams.
These are our first impressions of the metagame. We will be actively keeping track of metagame developments and report back here as soon as we believe the metagame has developed to a point where the info in this post is outdated.
...with both Yveltal & Necrozma-DM seeing ridiculous amounts of usage, and still pulling through with positive winrates. It’s pretty straight-forward why these two Pokemon see so much usage; they’re the only decent checks versus our premier culprits when it comes to centralization: Calyrex-S and Zacian-C.
Calyrex-S has seen both significant usage and development over the past couple of weeks, being the 3rd most frequent Pokemon in kickoffs, and developing a multitude of set variations in Substitute + Leech Seed + Nasty Plot, Nasty Plot + Baton Pass, and Colbur Berry Nasty Plot. Every single one of these sets adds tremendous depth to Calyrex-S in their own ways. Leech Seed exploits and defeats non-Roar Tyranitar and non-Snarl / U-turn bulky Yveltal in almost every instance on the long run; Baton Pass does the same in less of an individual and more of a direct fashion, easily forcing the switch on countless Pokemon to set up a Nasty Plot and proceed to Baton Pass into the likes of Xerneas, Eternatus, and Palkia to take advantage of said Dark-types; Colbur Berry ensures Calyrex-S lives Dark-type attacks from its checks under Dynamax, which gives it the opportunity to use Max Starfall on them at least twice, more often than not getting rid of them and setting itself up for a late-game clean. Of course, its traditional Nasty Plot Life Orb / Focus Sash, Choice Specs, and Choice Scarf sets remain relevant as well.
Zacian-C has also slowly but surely developed into one of the largest teambuilder-restrictors, sporting no good checks bar the barely relevant Quagsire. Similarly to Calyrex-S, it is capable of pushing all of its checks to their limits; Necrozma-DM can’t handle the ubiquitous Assurance, whereas Zygarde-C and bulky Zekrom drop to Play Rough. Another important thing to note is the fact that Zacian-C is forgoing a lot of its Speed EVs for HP these days. After all, with Calyrex-S reigning supreme over Speed tiers, there’s close to no opportunity cost in doing so. This has given Zacian-C some additional purpose in being a good check to threats such as Xerneas, Yveltal, and Eternatus, all the while making it harder to revenge kill.
Not much else has changed in the uppermost echelon, with Kyogre and Zygarde-C still warping the metagame considerably around themselves. Kyogre has settled into its Choice Specs and Calm Mind + Rest sets, being a staple on all sorts of offensive and bulky playstyles. Meanwhile, Zygarde-C particularly stood out in the usage stats, sporting a 61% win-rate out of 49 uses. This is not surprising; counterplay to Zygarde-C is in as much of a dire spot as ever, with both Lugia and Lunala being pretty exploitable Pokemon.
As for playstyles, two in particular stand out: Ferrothorn Spikes balances and Sticky Web hyper offense. Ferrothorn has really proven to be a great glue to many teams, providing a check to Rest Kyogre and a backup check to Xerneas. It has become extra annoying with Yveltal overtaking Ho-Oh as the most frequent Defogger, as nothing can really trade positively with the combination of Leech Seed / Spikes / Knock Off outside of Ho-Oh. Spikes support is phenomenal as always, jeopardizing counterplay to the likes of Zacian-C and Kyogre really effectively.
Sticky Web hyper offense has also flourished as a very dangerous playstyle with Ditto being so hard to fit. A plethora of wallbreakers in Calyrex-S, Choice Specs Kyogre, Dragon Dance Necrozma-DM / Zekrom / Reshiram, Yveltal and Xerneas, Zacian-C, and Swords Dance Groudon benefit from Sticky Web support. The centralized state of the metagame more often than not results in at least one or two of these sweepers finding a favourable matchup and breaking through the opposition with little to no support, which makes the playstyle very reliable overall.
That's really it as far as notable changes go. To summarize:
The metagame is hyper-centralized around Calyrex-S and Zacian-C, leading to enormous amounts of Yveltal and Necrozma-DM usage.
Calyrex-S keeps getting more versatile with every passing day and Zacian-C has evolved into an even more constricting threat than before.
Spikes balances and Sticky Web hyper offenses stand out as some of the best playstyles.
At a first glance, it is already apparent that AG continues to suffer under centralization. We can't escape the harsh truth; Yveltal and Necrozma-DM are borderline mandatory on every team structure. I don't need to expand much more on this. We all know it's because there are little alternatives when it comes to checking Calyrex-S and Zacian-C (and fitting entry hazard control in a lesser degree). There is one trend I'd like to talk about some more, though: Eternatus seems to be consistently settling itself as the third most-used Pokemon throughout every tournament. Why is that? Most will argue this is due to Eternatus being a check to Kyogre, and while that may be partly true, it's not the full picture. After all, Pokemon such as Kyurem-W and Ferrothorn are much better checks to Kyogre's most common sets wielding Rest, yet are nowhere near as common as Eternatus. The answer lies in Eternatus's presence itself: Eternatus is an incredibly resilient and disruptive Pokemon on the whole. This combination is very bothersome for just about any other Pokemon. Eternatus will pretty easily outlast offensive counterplay in longer games since Pokemon such as Calyrex-S and Zacian-C tend to get worn down between entry hazards, Life Orb recoil in Calyrex-S's case, Rocky Helmet in Zacian-C's case, and the occasional greedy pivot into Eternatus, only to get blasted with Dynamax Cannon or Flamethrower / Mystical Fire. On the other hand, defensive counterplay doesn't really exist outside of Rest users; everything else is outstalled by Pressure and Toxic. This ultimately boils down to builders only really having four outs versus Eternatus: Rest users to absorb status (mainly Kyogre), Calyrex-S's Aromatherapy, trapping Eternatus with Gothitelle, or using Eternatus themselves to block status. This ties back to why Eternatus is so popular; it's the most convenient means of absorbing status and not auto-losing to other Eternatus from preview.
While this centralization is nothing new to Galar AG, there háve been a few new developments over the previous few months that I'd like to talk about. The first and most important one out of these is the realization of just how potent Nasty Plot + Baton Pass Calyrex-S is. Baton Pass gives Calyrex-S the option of not just escaping Yveltal, but also making tons of progress against it by passing on boosts to teammates that have no business being at +2. It's not hard to see why this is significant; with Yveltal being pretty much the only realistic check, there are now little limits to how much progress Calyrex-S can make, no matter the matchup. Baton Pass Calyrex-S is also part of the reason behind speed control being more crucial than ever. This has also been in full display during these past few weeks with Marshadow and Choice Scarf users in Ditto and Calyrex-S itself picking up in usage. We've even been seeing experimentation with more niche options such as Xerneas and Zacian. Beyond limiting Calyrex-S and its Baton Pass shenanigans, speed control is also very useful for keeping nigh-unwallable threats such as Groudon, Zekrom, and Marshadow in check, and compressing utility that way instead of worrying about having to defensively handle every common threat.
Apart from Baton Pass and the surge in speed control, we've been observing an explosive rise in Sheer Cold users. Kyogre is the most restricting one, firing off Sheer Colds at little cost with Rest and Sleep Talk giving it prolonged longevity and PP, respectively. This has led to Kyurem-W rising though the usage charts to reliably limit this Kyogre set by virtue of being immune to Sheer Cold. This has added fuel to the fire. After all, a major part of Kyurem-W's popularity stems from its access to Sheer Cold turning it into a surprisingly good wincondition that's a lot less passive than one may think otherwise. By now, Sheer Cold has proven to be a reliable and hard-to-restrict wincon in a metagame that is already hard-pressed to handle a bunch of threats with little resources. Moving on, there has been one more development that is worth pointing out, and its Lunala's establishment as an offensive threat with its Power Herb + Meteor Beam sets. Meteor Beam allows Lunala to beat its traditional checks in Yveltal and Ho-Oh. Coupled with Tyranitar and the blobs being pretty much non-existent, Lunala's good offensive presence courtesy of boosted STAB Moongeist Beam allows it to effectively break down many cores, especially with Dynamax in the picture. To add, this set retains part of the support bulky Lunala variants can offer, checking Zygarde-C and Zekrom with Roost and Ice Beam.
AG suffers under continued centralization. The top 6 of pretty much any tournament is occupied by Yveltal, Necrozma-DM, and Eternatus, coupled with the Pokemon they check in Calyrex-S, Zacian-C, and Kyogre. Both Yveltal and Necrozma-DM consistently get (close to) 100% usage.
Baton Pass Calyrex-S has redefined the ceiling of the metagame, standing above everything else in viability.
As a result, speed control is becoming more and more common with every passing day.
Sheer Cold and Meteor Beam Lunala are some of the most notable trends that are unrelated to Baton Pass.
Hi! I'll be taking over this thread for now, and there's been quite a bit of meta things happening since the last update, so it's a great time to discuss some of them. The biggest events recently came from the AG slots in UMPL, with the usage stats and replays here courtesy of cromagnet
A VR shift also happened in this time, representing a few changes based on results and the meta development a bit.
Yveltal finally moved up to S+ rank, cementing itself as the second best Pokemon behind Calyrex-S. As the previous post says, AG is and probably will stay heavily centralized, with multiple offensive Pokemon determining the viability of a majority of the rest of the metagame, and Yveltal is the main candidate of that. Offensive sets are still incredible, but the ability to check Calyrex-S is the most important role to have on a team.
Combined with Yveltal, these 5 form most of the centralization that is on the metagame. Zacian-C, Calyrex-S, and Kyogre with their 3 respective most versatile checks make up the top 6 on the VR as well as the top 6 in usage from UMPL (The changes to Zacian's form being unrevealed on preview may skew the stats a bit, but "Zacian" including non-revealed crowned forms was top 5). These aren't the only options, however, with people slowly trying out more varied ways to change things up, mostly in the Kyogre check department.
The 2 more support based Kyogre checks, Ferrothorn and Blissey, have been doing quite well for themselves. Ferrothorn has started shifting to a Phys.Def role as well to check threats like Zekrom, DD NDM, DD Zygarde, and others, but Sp.Def is still a strong set. Spikes support can be invaluable for a lot of teams, with the pressure it exerts changing games alone. Blissey's support movepool is also great, with Confide, Wish, Teleport, Stealth Rock, and multiple status options keeping it able to deal with most special attacking threats. It had a similarly good winrate in UMPL, just doing pink blob things and being a good glue when teams don't want to lose to LO Eternatus, Kyogre, and others.
These 2 are the other ogre checks commonly used, with Lapras being a fairly new addition to the metagame. They're also the primary abusers of OHKO moves as well as the primary immunity to Sheer Cold. Their main issue comes from being passive if they don't connect OHKO moves so offense easily exploits them, but regardless they're decently successful variety picks that have had their showing in the metagame. Their strategies are really easy to adapt to, though, with simply adding offensive pressure usually putting them out of games when played around well, so it'll be up to the meta to develop against these and maybe knock OHKO spam down a peg to being more niche than it is.
Webs HO certainly hasn't been doing incredibly, and Shuckle especially has taken a huge fall from its past success. Even in AG Snake it had some wins, but here it fell short of anything. Slurpuff has started to cement itself as the premier webs setter, with it seeing higher usage than Shuckle in UMPL and AG Snake with a higher winrate. It also didn't do incredibly, but this is certainly a shift from the early meta where Regieleki + Shuckle ruled the HO scene. Shuckle just has started to become a greedy pick, with both hazards rarely getting up and its low speed being exploitable unlike Slurpuff's Unburden. Galvantula recently rose in the VR shift also, though, so it may be interesting to see how the HO archetype plays out and if webs setters stay at the top compared to other hazards, and if so, which will be the best.
Recent big winners:
As mentioned, Slurpuff has started dominating the HO archetype as the premier lead, jumping from UR to B on the VR in a single shift. The latter 2 Pokemon are more unique, but have started to show their effectiveness after being either low ranked or unranked on the VR. Both provide a check to the incredibly dangerous Groudon, and in terms of power neither are slouches either, with high BP moves and high stats. The hazard game is also important, with defensive Lando-T being a reliable rocks setter that pressures defoggers with Toxic or Stone Edge, and Giratina-O being a strong defogger against most common rock setters like NDM and Groudon. Offensive Lando-T is as potent on HO as always, being a great way for webs to get up rocks for additional pressure as well as a strong improof sweeper with Fly or Explosion and SD. I can see all these mons having even higher ceilings, so their development will be cool to see and may progress the meta quite nicely.
Recent big losers:
Again as mentioned, Shuckle's just been falling off. It doesn't have the speed to reliably use all its utility options, and fails to match up to Slurpuff in a lot of ways. Palkia and Ho-Oh have also been dipping in usage and viability, with the meta just being unfriendly to them. Palkia is a Kyogre check without reliable recovery, and Rest sets don't have the breaking power you want out of Palkia. It's just slow, lacks longevity, and misses too many moves to be a reliable pick among the tough Kyogre check competition that's been rising. Ho-Oh in a metagame with Dynamax finds succeeding hard, since it relies a lot on phazing big threats such as Geo Xern to carve out its niche. It's still a good status spreader and hazard control option, but its certainly seen better days. Lugia may be the biggest loser, becoming an unviable Pokemon by moving off the VR, having essentially nothing to offer. Lunala outclasses it in almost every way, and Ho-Oh is just a better phazer / fat Flying-type. It's hit a major low point and it doesn't seem to be coming back from that any time soon.
The meta is still centralized, but the department of Kyogre checks is being explored a lot more to try and reduce some of the centralization caused by the 3 main offensive threats.
Slurpuff has started taking over as the main webs setter, with Shuckle falling off quite a bit especially compared to its early meta self.
More lower tier picks are slowly creeping into the metagame, exploiting the centralization and forcing changes by being strong picks. Landorus-T and Giratina-O are the bigger recent examples, but others such as Pheromosa and Rayquaza could always see upticks.
Old big names like Palkia and Ho-Oh slowly have been forced lower in the meta due to competition and the role they play not being consistent, but still being viable options that reflect shifts in the meta changing around everything outside of the top few.
AG is slowly developing on the lower end of things, with it obviously remaining incredibly top heavy but new viable options being constantly explored and pushed into the meta to exploit trends and create new ones. In such a meta where the best Pokemon are so overwhelmingly strong these developments are great to see, and have led to more variety already which will be good to look out for. AGPL signups are out with the tour coming soon, so it'll be great to see how things pan out for the meta as always, with people likely adding more to the innovation that's been coming slowly, shown by the few huge shifts in the VR as well as some UR and lower tier threats slowly making their way up the ranks.