Competitive gaming and eSports have become huge industries, with prize funds for games like Dota 2 reaching millions of dollars. Video game developers could never have anticipated that titles like Street Fighter and Starcraft would inspire people to dedicate their lives to playing games.
The Pokémon series is one such franchise that has inspired a dedicated competitive scene, with websites like Smogon breaking each Pokémon down to its core mechanics and comparing them to their contemporaries in order to create a tier system.
Pokémon has changed a great deal since the days of Red & Blue. There are lots of new abilities, moves, and types, with Mega Evolution and Z-Moves changing how the game is played. This has allowed Pokémon who weren't great in the past to have a new lease of life and take the tournament scene by storm.
We are here today to look at the Pokémon that used to underperform in battle and are now terrifying threats in the competitive scene.
From the mascot of Pokémon Red that finally managed to overcome its greatest weakness to the mother/child duo that wins all of the tournaments, here are 15 Pokémon That Were Completely Worthless In Battle But Are Now Amazing!
Charizard was a popular Pokémon among fans. This was due to its cool design and the fact that it was the mascot who appeared on the box art of Pokémon Red. Charizard wasn't much use in competitive battles, though, as it was outclassed by the likes of Arcanine and Moltres during the first generation of Pokémon games.
Things would get a lot worse for Charizard in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl, as the introduction of Stealth Rock meant that Charizard would lose half of its health upon entering the battlefield.
The introduction of Mega Evolution in Pokémon X & Y gave Charizard two new forms that made it a threat to the competitive scene once more. Charizard X swapped its Flying-type for Dragon-type, which reduced its weakness to Stealth Rock.
Charizard Y gained Drought, which brought harsh sunlight to the field that would vastly increase its attack power. This made Charizard Y an excellent opening Pokémon for teams that relied on sunlight, which would also allow it to skip the damage from Stealth Rock.
Marill might have been the most hotly anticipated Pokémon in Pokémon Gold & Silver. Grainy pictures of Marill were uploaded to the early Pokémon websites before all of the information about it was revealed. This led to fans calling it "Pikablu," as its resemblance to Pikachu led to speculation that they were related in some way.
When Pokémon Gold & Silver were released, the fans realized that Marill and its evolution Azumarill weren't up to snuff. They had abysmal Speed and offensive stats, which is pretty much a death sentence for most Pokémon. Azumarill was totally outclassed by the likes of Cloyster and Starmie.
The introduction of the Fairy-type in Pokémon X & Y made Azumarill a powerful threat in the competitive scene. It was the only Water/Fairy-type Pokémon in the game (save for Marill), which gave it a unique spread of resistances to the biggest threats in the competitive scene.
The addition of some STAB moves (which are moves that gain a bonus if they are of the same type as the Pokémon) also allowed Azumarill to make use of its Huge Power ability and deal some real damage.
Pelipper was a poster child for the term "Junk Pokémon." This is a name given to the Pokémon that serve no other purpose other than to fill out the Pokédex, with creatures like Rattata, Sentret, and Bidoof commonly being called Junk Pokémon. Pelipper (and its previous evolution) seemed like someone at Game Freak ticked off a box that said "Seagull Pokémon" without giving you any reason to use it in battle.
Things changed in Pokémon Sun & Moon, however, when Pelipper became one of only three Pokémon to possess the Drizzle ability. Drizzle automatically creates the rain weather effect without having to use a move and wasting a turn. This made Pelipper an amazing Pokémon for those who use rain teams, as there are Pokémon abilities (like Swift Swim) that vastly increase the Pokémon's stats during a downpour.
The other two Drizzle users are Kyogre and Politoed. Kyogre is banned in most formats, while Politoad's poor movepool makes Pelipper the better choice by fair for rain teams.
Pokémon Diamond & Pearl introduced new evolutions for some of the classic Pokémon that appeared in Red & Blue and Gold & Silver. Pokémon like Magmar and Rhydon were given new forms which required the use of trade evolutions to create. Tangela was one such Pokémon that received a new evolution, in the form of Tangrowth.
Tangrowth wasn't that impressive on the competitive scene, due to the fact that it was a solo Grass-type with a horrible Speed-stat. This meant that Tangrowth was totally outclassed by Amoonguss and Venusaur, which meant that you had no real reason to use it.
The addition of the Assault Vest item in Pokémon X & Y changed everything for Tangrowth. This was an item that increased the user's Special Defense stat but prevented it from using non-damaging moves. A Tangrowth equipped with an Assault Vest made it one of the best Grass-type Walls in the game, especially when combined with its Regenrator ability, which made it incredibly difficult to knock out.
Clefairy is the Pete Best of the Pokémon franchise. It was once considered to be the mascot of the series, to the point where a Clefairy did become the Pokémon used by the main character in Pokémon Pocket Monsters, which is a manga series that predates the anime.
Clefairy lost out when Pikachu was chosen to be the face of Pokémon and it hasn't done much since. The Clefable line was pretty much useless for years, thanks to it being a solo Normal-type Pokémon whose only asset was that it was unpredictable in battle.
The introduction of the Fairy-type in Pokémon X & Y suddenly made Clefable a force to be reckoned with. This meant that Clefable only had a few weaknesses, so it could now take advantage of its awesome Magic Guard ability, which protected it from entry hazards.
The addition of Moon Blast also gave Clefable a powerful STAB move that would annihilate most Dragon-type Pokémon.
Steel-type was introduced in Pokémon Gold & Silver as a means of balancing out the competitive scene, which included taking the dominant Psychic-types down a peg.
This would later evolve into Steel-types being known as "Walls" which was due to the fact that they generally had amazing defensive stats and moves. Steel-type Pokémon were experts at shutting the enemy down and forcing your opponent to switch.
Mawile was a terrible Steel-type Pokémon in terms of fulfilling the defender role. It had poor stats all around, which meant that there was no reason to use it over Metagross or Steelix.
Mawile received a Mega Evolution in Pokémon X & Y which made it one of the most powerful offensive Pokémon in the game. It received a boost to its Attack stat and gained the Huge Power ability, which made Mega Mawile one of the most physically dominant Pokémon in the series. An Iron Head or Play Rough from Mega Mawile was going to hurt, no matter what took the hit.
Double Battles have been the format used in the competitive scene for a long time now. The mandatory use of two-on-two battles led to some moves becoming more popular while others were pretty much abandoned. Stat boosting moves became a lot more popular, as it is easier for the other Pokémon to cover for their ally or distract the enemy.
Venomoth is one such Pokémon that greatly benefited from stat boosting moves. In the early generations, Venomoth was always outclassed by other Bug/Poison-types, of which there are many. Things changed in Pokémon Black & White when Venomoth became one of the few Pokémon to learn Quiver Dance. This is one of the best stat boosting moves in the game, as it increases Special Attack & Defense, as well as Speed.
Pokémon Black & White also gave Venomoth the Wonder Skin ability, which meant that status effect moves would miss it 50% of the time. Venomoth suddenly became one of the most versatile and useful Pokémon in the competitive scene.
Bug-type Pokémon had the potential to be one of the best types in Pokémon Red & Blue. Bug-type was one of the only types that had an advantage against the dominant Psychic-types, but they couldn't follow through on their promise, due to their poor stats and lack of decent STAB moves.
Pinsir was one of the original Bug-type Pokémon that looked formidable but lacked the abilities to back it up. Pinsir's abysmal health and Special Defense stats made it easy to take out in one turn.
Pokémon X & Y gave Pinsir a Mega Evolution that brought it to the big leagues. Mega Pinsir increased its Speed and Special Defense stats while giving it the Aerilate ability. Aerilate turns Normal-type moves into Flying-types moves and increases their strength.
The increase to Pinsir's Attack stat that is granted by Mega Evolution makes its Quick Attack one of the faster and strongest moves in its arsenal.
Ditto has always been an incredibly useful Pokémon, as it can be used to breed with any other Pokémon in order to create offspring. This makes it a lot easier to breed Pokémon, as you don't need to spend time finding a male and female of each species that you want to breed.
Ditto was useless in battle for a long time. It can only learn Transform, which allows it to copy the enemy Pokémon in every capacity. The problem was that Transform took up a turn, which meant that the enemy Pokémon could either knock out the Ditto before it could use it or deal a lot of damage once it took place.
Pokémon Black & White gave Ditto the Imposter ability. This allows it to Transform for free upon switching. If you gave Ditto a Choice Scarf (an item that increases the user's Speed stat) then it became one of the best revenge killers in the game, as it would always outpace the other Pokémon.
Speed might be the most important stat in the Pokémon competitive scene. This is partly due to the abundance of moves that inflict status effects in Pokémon. A fast Pokémon that can inflict confusion or sleep can be more useful than a creature with strong offensive capabilities.
Beartic's terrible Speed stat pretty much made it useless from the outset. Beartic has a great Attack score and decent stats all around, save for its Speed. The abundance of Pokémon that can deal with solo Ice-type creatures also made Beartic a liability.
Pokémon Sun & Moon made Beartic into a beast. Not only did it gain a boost to its Attack stat, but it also gained access to the Slush Rush ability. Slush Rush doubles the Pokémon's speed when it is snowing on the battlefield. Beartic suddenly became one of the best choices for Hail teams, as you could finally take advantage of its amazing offensive moves.
Sableye was a unique Pokémon when it first debuted in Ruby & Sapphire. The fact that it was a Dark/Ghost-type Pokémon meant that it had no weaknesses. This eventually changed when Fairy-types were introduced, but nothing had a type advantage against Sableye for a long time.
In order to balance Sableye, the people at Game Freak gave it horrible stats. This meant that no one really used Sableye in competitive, as the poor stats made it too weak to compete.
Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire gave Sableye a Mega Evolution that turned it into one of the best Walls in the game. Mega Sableye has an absurdly high Defense and Special Defense stat, which means that other Pokémon will have a hard time breaking through it.
The addition of the Magic Bounce ability (which reflects back certain non-damaging moves) means that Mega Sableye became one of the hardest Pokémon to knock out.
A lot of people hate Vanilluxe due to its design and they are right to do so. Vanilluxe might be the best example of Game Freak becoming lazy with their new Pokémon designs, as it is literally just a big blue ice cream cone.
Vanilluxe wasn't exactly impressing people on the battlefield. This was due to its mediocre stats, poor movepool, and terrible abilities. There was no reason to choose Vanilluxe over Pokémon like Abomasnow or Weavile.
Pokémon Sun & Moon finally gave Vanilluxe an awesome ability in the form of Snow Warning. This automatically summons snow to the battlefield without you having to waste a turn using Hail.
This made Vanilluxe an important player in weather-based teams, as giving it a Choice Scarf made its Blizzard move one of the most frightening attacks in the game. Vanilluxe's Blizzard would hit both of the enemy's Pokémon for a ton of damage and would never miss, due to the effects of Hail.
Like Vanilluxe, Lopunny was disliked upon release due to its design. There are a lot of people who feel that Pokémon like Lopunny and Salazzle were created to appeal to the side of the Pokémon fanbase that is physically attracted to Pokémon. It didn't help that Lopunny wasn't a very useful Pokémon on the battlefield, as people may have been more forgiving of its design if it could be effectively used in matches.
Lopunny received a Mega Evolution in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire. Mega Lopunny was one of the best new Mega Evolutions introduced in Hoenn, as it gained a massive boost to its Attack and Speed stats, while also turning it into a Normal/Fighting-type Pokémon.
Mega Lopunny was now one of the deadliest Pokémon in the game, as it gained a STAB bonus to Fighting-type moves and could quickly take out foes before they had the chance to react. Mega Lopunny also gained Scrappy, which allowed it to damage Ghost-type Pokémon.
The power of harsh sunlight has the ability to bring together two opposing Pokémon types. Fire-types and Grass-types have a lot to gain from a move like Sunny Day, which brings harsh sunlight to the field. When the sun is shining, Fire-type moves become 50% stronger, while Water-type moves become 50% weaker.
The harsh sunlight can also allow powerful Grass-type moves like Solar Beam and Solar Blade to be used without needing to recharge, while also activating several Grass-type abilities, such as Leaf Guard.
Torkoal was a boring Fire-type Pokémon that was introduced in Ruby & Sapphire. Its only asset was an absurdly high Defense stat. Pokémon Sun & Moon gave Torkoal the Drought ability, which means that it will bring harsh sunlight to the field without needing to waste a turn using a move. The fact that it could also use Stealth Rock made Torkoal a great choice for the first Pokémon out on the field.
For those who don't want to use their Mega slot for Charizard Y, Torkoal became their best option for using sunlight on teams based on the effect.
Kangaskhan was considered to be useless in a serious competitive battle for the longest time. It was totally outclassed by Tauros in Pokémon Red & Blue and would become less relevant as time went on. Solo Normal-types have been some of the best Pokémon in the series, with Chansey and Snorlax remaining dominant forces in the competitive scene. Kangaskhan was not one of them.
Everything changed in Pokémon X & Y when Mega Evolution was introduced to the series. Kangaskhan received a Mega Evolution that gave it the Parental Bond ability. This allowed the Kangaskhan to use the same move twice in a row, with the second attack dealing half damage.
Mega Kangaskhan quickly became the most popular Mega Evolution in the series, to the point where it is one of the most frequently used Pokémon in VGC. The ability to make Fake Out deal extra damage while powering up attacks like Body Slam in order to make them OHKO the enemy was simply too good to ignore. The maternal kangaroo Pokémon finally became a dominant threat in the Pokémon competitive scene.
Can you think of any other Pokémon that used to be worthless in battle but have now become incredibly strong? Let us know in the comments!