From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
Tiers are an attempt by players to classify Pokémon in a given generation by their utility in competitive battles. They can be found in any game with variable characters, including Pokémon and Super Smash Bros. The classification of Pokémon into tiers can be challenging, as a Pokémon's stats or moves are not the only factors that can impact a match. Combinations of Pokémon, along with player skill and overall strategy greatly affects the outcome.
Tiers in Pokémon
Pokémon features hundreds of species available for use in a battle, with great variation in base stats, movesets, Types, and Abilities. There are multiple tiers; the six most common are listed below. Individual sites, users, or organizations may publish tiers, but the most prominent tier lists are produced by Smogon and Pokémon Online and published on their respective websites. Tiers for current metagames are updated on a regular basis to reflect the current competitive battling environment; older generations tend to retain the same banlists.
Tier lists are often targets of discussion because there is no "official" tier list for Pokémon. Tiers are often quite fluid—as strategies evolve, Pokémon may move from one tier to another. However, even official tournaments will present lists of disallowed Pokémon.
As commonly defined, a "standard" battle allows any Pokémon not listed in the Uber tier. Tiers are 'exclusive' in only one direction; for instance, in a UU battle, Pokémon from tiers above UU (BL, OU, or Uber) are banned, but Pokémon from lower tiers (such as RU or NU) are allowed.
The Uber tier is effectively a banlist for the OU tier, as "standard" battles include everything in the OU list and below. Pokémon in the Uber tier are deemed too powerful or destabilizing to the metagame to allow. Ubers, if allowed, cause extreme "centralization" of strategies—in other words, it is impossible or very difficult to counter them in a reasonable manner.
The Uber tier may include any Pokémon and tends to include all legendary version mascots except Black Kyurem, which is allowed in standard play (despite being restricted in-game) due to various factors preventing it from becoming "too centralizing". Although many legendary Pokémon reside in the Uber tier, a far larger number exists in lower tiers due to similar inadequacies.
It is common to not enforce the evasion clause in Uber battles.
Overused, commonly abbreviated as "OU", refers to Pokémon that are most frequently used in standard play.
OU status does not have to do with a Pokémon's power or ability. The Pokémon that make up OU, as with all tiers, are determined based on usage. A Pokémon's tier may change from generation to generation. For instance, Magneton is often considered OU in Generation III because of its advantage over Skarmory, another commonly used Pokémon. In Generation IV, Magnezone, the evolution of Magneton, took Magneton's role in OU in some tier lists due to its generally higher base stats. If an OU Pokémon is not used enough in the OU tier, it will fall to the UU tier.
Pokémon in Borderline, commonly referred to as "BL", are "too strong" for Underused, but are not sufficiently used in Overused battles. In essence, BL serves a ban list for Underused.
Underused, commonly referred to as "UU", consists of Pokémon that are not used enough to be in OU. Pokémon classified as UU are often outclassed by Pokémon in higher tiers, possibly as a result of generally lower base stats, available moves, or Abilities. For example, in Generation V, Machamp fell to UU in some tier lists largely as a result of the introduction of Conkeldurr, which has Mach Punch, Drain Punch, and generally superior base stats. UU Pokémon are commonly used in OU battles, but most have smaller niches. If a UU Pokémon is not used enough in the UU tier, it will fall to the RU/LU tier.
Pokémon in Borderline 2, commonly referred to as "BL 2", are "too strong" for Rarelyused/Littleused, but are not sufficiently used in Underused battles. In essence, BL 2 serves a ban list for Rarelyused/Littleused.
This tier is referred to as either "RU" or "LU". While the name of the tier varies, its "level" is equivalent. The tier consists of Pokémon that are not used enough to be in UU. For example, Escavalier is considered RU in Generation V in some tier lists because it is not used enough in UU battles. If an RU/LU Pokémon is not used enough in the RU/LU tier, it will fall to the NU tier.
Pokémon in Borderline 3, commonly referred to as "BL 3", are "too strong" for Neverused, but are not sufficiently used in Rarelyused/Littleused. In essence, BL 3 serves a ban list for Neverused.
Neverused, commonly referred to as "NU", consists of Pokémon that are not used enough to be in RU/LU. The name is not literal, stemming from the tiers of Generation I, where Neverused Pokémon had generally lower "competitive value" in comparison to other Pokémon. Some Pokémon that are pre-evolutions of Pokémon in higher tiers may be classified as NU.
Not Fully Evolved
This tier is more commonly known as "NFE", and as the name implies, contains most Pokémon that have not yet reached their final evolution stage.
- Main article: Little Cup
Little Cup is an entirely separate tier where the lowest evolution of a Pokémon with evolutions is allowed. Examples include Pokémon like Bulbasaur and Mienfoo. Pokémon that do not evolve at all, such as Luvdisc, are not allowed in the tier. The moves SonicBoom and Dragon Rage are also prohibited. All Pokémon must be level 5 or lower to compete.
Some unevolved Pokémon—for example, Meditite, Scyther and Gligar —are sometimes considered too powerful and banned in some tier lists. In this special tier, Berry Juice is also often banned.
Some Pokémon are listed in tiers but are sometimes used in competitive play outside of their own tier because they have a change during evolution that modified their disposition enough to allow them to stay competitive, even some in an unevolved state.
- Porygon2, which is due to its evolution, Porygon-Z, having lower Defense and Special Defense, meaning Porygon2 can be used as a wall, unlike its evolution.
- Pikachu holding Light Ball can have higher Attack and Special Attack than its evolution, Raichu.
- Magneton, as previously stated, is still used in lower tiers because it carries the ability to trap Steel types with Magnet Pull. It also has use in OU battles, as its slightly higher speed than Magnezone allows it to outspeed many OU Pokémon that Magnezone cannot.
- Eviolite, an item that multiplies both Defense and Special Defense of not-fully-evolved Pokémon by 1.5, has increased the popularity of several other pre-evolutions, such as Gligar, Dusclops, and Chansey, among others, Dusclops even being in a higher tier than its evolution, Dusknoir on some tier lists.