Pokémon Tier List Explained: DPP

Understanding The DPP Pokemon Tier List

A Pokémon tier list is used when determining a set of categories in which to place Pokémon in for competitive play. If a metagame  there is said to be no over centralisation of Pokémon sets in a balanced metagame. Metagames that are over centralised are charactarised by a high percentage use of a Pokémon, or by a large percentage of teams using strategies to specifically deal with one Pokémon or strategy. It is essentially a pattern distinguished by consistent use of a Pokémon, it’s related team components (ie. Tyranitar, used with Gliscor) An example of this is the DPP Garchomp metagame, in which Garchomp’s sand veil ability occasionally granted it free sweeps, or it’s speed tier, bulk and typing leading to many people using it. Once it was this popular, many games were decided by Garchomp speed ties, misses, many teams ran Sand strategies and the metagame on a whole can be said to have been ‘focused’ on Garchomp. Sweeping with it, trying to stop it and so forth.  Pokémon can become over centralised in a metagame for multiple reasons, but the most salient is often that it is too strong.

The most commonly used competitive tiering system on the internet is made up by Smogon and it’s contributors. Although they get a hard rep around many websites such as Reddit, Serebii, their tiers are more intuitive than reading a page of tiering forum discussions can leave you thinking. Smogon aims for a clearly defined metagame in which Pokémon are given a ranking according to their usage, but also by a few other factors. We cover those in more detail below.


 The strongest Pokémon are banned to ubers, think your Mewtwo’s, Darkrai’s, box legends and so on. Any Pokémon may participate in the Ubers metagame, so long as it has been released officially and is using a legal moveset. All Pokémon of other tiers may also be used in Ubers.


The OU tier is made up of the most popular Pokémon not strong enough to be deemed uber. All Pokémon in tiers below OU may be used as well.


The Borderline tier is inbetween the UU and OU tiers, these Pokémon are mainly not strong enough for use in the current OU metagame of the time but are too strong for play in Under Used. All Pokémon in metagames lower than BL may be used.


These Pokémon are at the bottom end of the usage, which is indicative of them being considered weaker and less favourable than Pokémon in the higher tiers by the majority of battlers in a given set of usage statistics.


This tier is only used to categorise the ranks of Pokémon from the games Black & White onwards. At this point too many new Pokémon had been introduced to fit neatly within the pre established categories. RU includes mainly Pokémon which are not used commonly in the UU metagame, Pokémon in NU may be used in RU, but UU and upwards are banned.


NU Pokemon are at the bottom of the bucket due to often having very few capabilities as a competitive Pokémon for example due to level of evolution (i.e. NFE), poor base stat totals, lacking a solid movepool etc. Pokémon with in the NU tier are well balanced enough to have balanced and enjoyable Pokémon games.

The Pokémon ranking system is abbreviated into: Ubers (none), Overused (OU), Borderline (BL), Underused (UU), Rarelyused (RU), Neverused (NU)

These abbreviations are frequently used in discussions, especially on the topic of tiering in discussions both on Smogon and off regarding tiers and are worth baring in mind. For more information on useful lingo, visit our Pokémoner Lingo article!

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