There are so many different formats in Pokémon. Here’s a quick breakdown of the eight most popular Pokemon formats.
There are so many ways to enjoy Pokémon. From becoming the champion of the region, to completing the Pokédex, to playing the card game. However, one of the most popular ways to enjoy Pokémon is to battle other trainers. However, there are so many different unofficial and official formats. Therefore, we've created a quick breakdown of the eight main battling formats.
General rules of the Pokémon formats
Technically, Pokémon has one official format, which is the VGC format. However, over the years, there have been several other formats that have become popular. The other formats outside of the VGC one are singles rather than doubles. Additionally, there are a rules that teams need to follow and apply to Pokémon's unofficial battle simulator, Pokémon Showdown:
- Endless Battle Clause: Any moveset on any Pokémon that is capable of intentionally causing an endless battle is banned from competitive play.
- Moody Clause: Pokémon with the ability Moody are not permitted.
- OHKO Clause: A Pokémon may not have the moves Fissure, Guillotine, Horn Drill, or Sheer Cold in its moveset.
- Sleep Clause: Only one Pokémon may be put to sleep on the opposing team at a time, if not induced by a move such as Rest.
- Species Clause: Players cannot have two Pokémon with the same Pokédex number on the same team.
VGC: The official Pokémon format
The VGC is the most popular format and the official one for competitive Pokémon. This best-of-three format has players face off in a doubles format, meaning it's a two-versus-two battle. On top of that, players can only select four members of their full six-member team. Therefore, the matches are significantly shorter and involve a lot of situational knowledge.
The VGC format is also divided into different regulations, depending on what Pokémon are currently available in game. For example, right now we are in Regulation E. However, once the Indigo Disk DLC arrives for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, lots of new Pokémon will be returning and we will shift to Regulation F.
- Double Battles
- Players choose four out of their six Pokémon to participate
- Best-of-three format
- Pokémon pool is limited by the current regulation
The Ubers tier is basically for all Pokémon except for Mega Rayquaza. This tier has almost every legendary and any other Pokémon for players to duke it out with no limitations. Unlike VGC, this is a singles format, meaning that it's one-versus-one. This format is where you'll see a teams of six legendaries go up against the most random teams and lose.
Next up is Overused or OU for short. This Pokémon format is similar to Ubers, but there are a couple more Pokémon that are banned from the tier. Pokémon like Arceus, Aegislash, Blaziken, Xerneas, and others who are just too strong for the average team to face aren't allowed. This is one of the more popular formats and has been deemed the "Standard Tier" by Smogon.
- Like Ubers but less legendaries
- Almost every Pokémon is available to use
- The "Standard Tier"
Underused, or UU for short, is as the name defines it — for underused Pokémon from the OU tier. In this Pokémon format, Pokémon that see above 50% usage in OU aren't allowed to be used. This trickle down of Pokémon allows for less popular and more niche Pokémon to be used. On top of that, the abilities Drizzle, Drought, and Shadow Tag are banned in the tier.
- Singles format
- Only Pokémon under 50% usage in OU allowed
- Drizzle, Drought, and Shadow Tag are banned
Below the UU tier is Rarely Used, where the same rule of UU's Pokémon pool follows. Pokémon that see below 50% usage in UU are only allowed. Despite the pool of Pokémon getting lower and lower with each tier, the power levels from RU to the remaining Pokémon formats are around the same. For example, Goodra falls under NU, but it's commonly seen in RU teams.
- Pokémon from the bottom 50% of usage in the UU tier
- Drizzle, Drought, and Shadow Tag are banned
Pokémon's Never Used format
Speaking of NU, it's the Never Used tier. And as per each other tier, the same rule of trickle down applies. Pokémon in this tier are those in RU with less than 50% usage. As previously mentioned, despite having less usage, the Pokémon in this tier are by no means "bad." The tier system is entirely based on usage alone.
- Pokémon from the bottom 50% of usage in the RU tier
- Pokémon from NU, RU, and PU are around the same power level
Perfectly Useless: Pokémon's lowest format
The last of the Pokémon formats that are based on usage is PU, or Perfectly Useless. For a final time, like all the other tiers, the Pokémon pool is based off the usage of Pokémon in the tier above. Uniquely, the move Chatter is banned in the format.
- Pokémon from the bottom 50% of usage in the NU tier
- The move Chatter is banned
LC: Little Cup is Pokémon's cutest format
Last, but not least, is Little Cup, or LC for short. This format was introduced in the generation four Pokémon games and players fell in love with the format. This format has first stage evolutions of Pokémon battling it out at level five. Pokémon that are either evolved or have no evolutions are banned as well as some other Pokémon. On top of that, the moves Dragon Rage and Sonic Boom are banned due to the low HP pools.
- Only first stage evolution Pokémon
- Pokémon are only level five
- No Pokémon with no evolutions
- The moves Dragon Rage and Sonic Boom are banned
Pokémon Showdown offers lots of other formats for trainers to try out. Additionally, there are lots of resources out there. From the official Smogon site, to Reddit, to YouTube content. On top of that, you can also find more information about Smogon's tier system here and in their forums.
For more esports news and Pokémon content, stay tuned to esports.gg.