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A Debating Thread - Stealth Rocks

Discussion in 'BW OU' started by LonelyNess, May 1, 2013.

  1. LonelyNess

    LonelyNess Makin' PK Love
    is a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Mar 23, 2007
    The last thread's been barren for like 6 days and this is a topic I think should be debated among Smogon's "debate" team (because I want to debate it without all of the rabble from the masses) Plus, unlike last thread where 1 side had overwhelming support, I get the feeling that this one is going to be a little more even.

    Also, I'd like to apologize for my absence in the last thread. By the time I had worked up an argument, I saw that every point I wanted to make had already been made by the 7 other "pro-ban" players and I don't enjoy making redundant posts.

    Anyway, I think its time to start this.


    -Only people from the below list can post

    -There is a THREE strike system. To begin with this debate is open to the people selected, and eventually the OU mods will split people up in a 1v1 debate or a different system idk. If you use a logical fallacy, or lack sufficient content in your post, then you lose a strike. When you hit 3 strikes you are ejected from the debate and can no longer post.

    -We will be watching activity from these 10 users. If you don't post within an acceptable time-frame, you will lose a strike. I don't imagine we will be too harsh with this, since obv RL and stuff comes up but if your not posting, then you shouldn't be in this thread.

    -List of fallcies can be found here: (thanks RBG). As the debate goes on, some additional fallacies might be added to this OP as best described by Eo:

    Subject: Stealth Rock

    On who starts the debate:

    I'd like the pro-ban side of Stealth Rocks to make a full argument on why they feel Stealth Rocks are broken or bad for the metagame that it deserves to be gone

    List of people who can post:

    lavos spawn
    the great mighty doom

    If you are NOT one of those 10 members (or an OU mod) then DON'T POST. Failure to follow this restriction will result in a post deletion and a possible infraction.

    Beginning "Pokemon" fallacy list

    -Fundamental Misunderstanding of Tiering
  2. LonelyNess

    LonelyNess Makin' PK Love
    is a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    Mar 23, 2007
    Why Stealth Rock is Broken:

    Ease of Use

    Access to Stealth Rock is virtually unaparalleled. There is never a situation where a viable team you could build would be without Stealth Rock. This sort of ubiquitousness (in comparison to other choices that you must make in Pokemon) makes Stealth Rock nearly impossible NOT to use. It's so good, and there are so many users that you almost have to go out of your way to create a team that lacks them (and greatly more often than not, you'd lose a large amount of the time with this hypothetical team). This near ubiquitous distribution creates a game where there are no downsides whatsoever to utilizing Stealth Rocks on your team. Even using Spikes relegates you to using one of three Pokemon, all weak to Fire. And running Toxic Spikes comes with the downside of almost guaranteeing that your team is going to have to be Rain Stall (due to Tentacruel being the only viable user). Stealth Rock has so many users, with all of them being vastly unique and varied, that in no way does it hinder your teambuilding at all. No longer do players have ot make the choice of "do I use this Pokemon because it gives [X SUPPORT MOVE] even though it sort of pigeonholes much of the rest of team?". Teambuilding becomes "which of the 2-3 Pokemon that I'm running do I want to make my SR user" instead of "do I want to use Stealth Rock at all because using it could potentially be detrimental to my team building". This sort of "too good not to use" anti-choice is incredibly bad for the competitiveness of a game.

    Permanence of Support

    This is similar to why I think that auto-weather is Broken, but without very niche and specific interactions from your opponent (Rapid Spin in the case of laying down Stealth Rocks), no matter what, as soon as you lay your Stealth Rocks, they are there all game and will work for you all game, and in fact get STRONGER the as the game goes on. Every other move in Pokemon remains at the same strength as the turn you used it. That Draco Meteor's damage doesn't somehow go from 30% to 40% just because you switched in the Pokemon who took the original attack again (in fact, due to leftovers recovery / the great distribution of 50% recovery moves, more often than not, the damage your Draco Meteor did DECREASES throughout the course of the match)

    Strength of Support

    No other move in the game gives quite the strength of support that Stealth Rock gives a team. You can notice this by its ubiquitous inclusion on to every team, and its mentioning in every facet of how we teach players how to play the game (such as analyses or general discussion). Stealth Rocks are what get your Pokemon their 2HKOs instead of 3HKOs, their OHKOs instead of 2HKOs. It -defines- the game of Pokemon. No other move, or Pokemon, or anything that we have ever banned has ever been so powerful yet still within our reach to ban (we could not feasibly ban something as game defining as say, EVs, or Natures)

    Are an afront to the sole thing that makes competitive Pokemon possible: Switching

    This is mainly a philosophical stance on why Stealth Rocks are broken, but I still think it's a valid point nonetheless. If you really think about it, the only thing that makes competitive Pokemon something that exists is the fact that Pokemon can switch out of incoming attacks. Most everything else game mechanic wise could be replaced or alterred, but remove the ability to switch and what you're left with is something entirely uncompetitive. Thus, it can be reasoned that anything that hinders a user's ability to switch passively (outside of accidentally switching in to a super effective move) is inherently "uncompetitive". Switching is what makes Pokemon competitive. Hindering switching is uncompetitive at its root. We should be banning things that threaten the competitiveness of the game we play.

    Why the "anti-ban" side is wrong:

    Keeps otherwise broken Pokemon in Check:

    Stealth Rocks have always aided Pokemon in sweeping past defensive threats more than they have aided Pokemon in checking offensive threats. This much has always been true, and you'll realize how true it is when nearly every offensive Pokemon analysis mentions "can 2HKO X with Stealth Rock" but hardly any defensive Pokemon analysis does. So why is it that people fail to recognize that if / when Stealth Rocks would be removed, we wouldn't be hurting our list of ways to counter certain Pokemon like Dragonite / Volcarona. We'd be ENHANCING it.

    Additional Pokemon that would counter Volcarona outright if SR didn't exist: Moltres / Aerodactyl / Gyarados
    Pokemon that Dragonite would be unable to break, even with its amazing Choice Band set, if SR didn't exist: SKARMORY (Fire Punch only 2HKOs if you're Adamant, and only has a 12% chance to do so without Stealth Rock) / Cloyster / Cresselia / Gliscor (assuming Poison Heal is up)

    I could go on but you get my point. Banning Stealth rocks ADDS counters to these Pokemon's list, it doesn't remove them, and the Pokemon that used to counter them STILL DO. This goes the same for every super threatening sweeper in OU that is weak to Stealth Rocks. Stealth Rocks have never helped to "Counter" these Pokemon. What they have done is increased the number of potential CHECKS, but they have always been checks at best - you cannot rely on them at all and more often than not these Pokemon will sweep through your checks even if Stealth Rocks are on the field.

    Is able to be "countered" by Rapid Spin

    When the Stealth Rock user puts Stealth Rocks on the field, they immediately gain "field advantage" on their opponent. Let's give that field advantage a +X attribute. Assuming that the only hazard you are spinning away is Stealth Rocks, Rapid Spin only serves to take away your opponent's field advantage of +X, reverting the game to a neutral state. The only time when Rapid Spinning is advantageous is when: A. You have Stealth Rocks down on your opponent's side (meaning you would gain +X field advantage by removing your opponent's), or if your opponent has more than one type of hazard on your side of the field (because you spent 1 turn to revert more than +X field advantage, and they took more than 1 turn to set it up.). What this means is that in an equal scenario The person using Rapid Spin instead of Stealth Rocks is always a turn behind. The only time that it becomes advantageous to Rapid Spin is when you have already used the broken move yourself. Additionally, using Stealth Rock when there is not Stealth Rock on the field is NEVER a waste of a turn (even if they taunt, this only causes a neutral game state, it's as though the turn has never happened, any advantage they gain as a result is on the following turn if whatever attack you have besides Stealth Rock happens to be ineffective). When you use Rapid Spin, there is a fairly decent chance that your opponent may bring in a Ghost-type, rendering your turn literally wasted. No other attack in the game has 0 downside like that. Even powerful moves like Draco Meteor have potential to have been wasted turns. Stealth Rock never does. Lastly, the distribution of Rapid Spin is such that it greatly pigeonholes the team you can use. Pretty much only Rain Teams can viably use Tentacruel, and Donphan has generally only been effective on something like a Sun-team, or Dragon Spam. Stealth Rock never pigeonholes your team because there are dozens of viable users of the move. The most "splashable" Rapid Spinner is Starmie, but Starmie just so happens to be utterly destroyed by the best Hazard Layer in the tier, Ferrothorn, making spinning surprisingly difficult despite the number of ghosts being fairly small (sort of like how in UU it's hard to spin not because the ghosts beat the spinners, but because the hazard setters like Roserade utterly rape the spinners)

    So, for the above reasons, I believe Stealth Rock is broken and should be banned from OU and all lower tiers.
  3. jpw234

    jpw234 Catastrophic Event Specialist

    Feb 13, 2013
    Ooh, fun! Last time I chose to be pro-ban because I thought that would be the minority position (boy was I wrong). This time I'm pretty darn sure that pro-ban will be outgunned, so let me tack on a couple of points to what LonelyNess has already (quite articulately) stated.

    Stealth Rock limits the metagame based on typing.
    Rock is actually a pretty good offensive (if terrible defensive) typing, dealing super effective damage to Bug, Fire, Flying and Ice, and being resisted by Ground, Fighting and Steel. Hmmm...does anybody notice something funny about those types? There are
    3 OU Bug-type pokemon (two of which are neutral to SR)
    4 OU Fire-type pokemon (two of which are neutral)
    8 OU Flying-type pokemon (four of which are neutral)
    3 OU Ice-type pokemon (one of which is neutral)

    Meanwhile, check out the resistant types.
    9 OU Ground-type pokemon
    7 OU Fighting-type pokemon
    9 OU Steel-type pokemon

    There are the same number of Fighting-type pokemon in OU as there are pokemon weak to Stealth Rock (7)! Stealth Rock massively limits the competitive viability not of individual pokemon, but of entire TYPES of pokemon. Now, all types are obviously not created equal - powerful Dragons guarantees the prevalence of steels, Fighting is great offensively, etc. But Stealth Rock augments the natural division of types by imposing an overhead cost in the form of risking up to 50% of a pokemon's health before they even come in to a battle. Every time you consider adding Volcarona to your team, it makes a Rapid Spinner or Magic Bouncer a necessity, but then Volcarona is good enough statistically to devote another team slot to supporting. But what about pokemon who are good but not quite good enough to justify massive team support - Yanmega, Moltres, Honchkrow, Togekiss, Froslass, Victini, etc? These pokemon essentially are two pokemon - them and a Rapid Spinner (of which there are, what, four viable choices and limited further based on team archetype?) - which often makes it too difficult to fit on a team. And even when you do put them on, they become incredibly restricted if SR is up in a battle.
    Consider, for example, a team using Togekiss to counter Sheer Force Landorus (which is quite legit - 252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Landorus Focus Blast vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Togekiss: 133-157 (35.56 - 41.97%) -- 89.84% chance to 3HKO). That check suddenly becomes incredibly shaky if Stealth Rock is on the field, and if sand is also up it's an 80% chance to 2HKO - now Landorus is an omnipresent threat. You're forced to spin as quickly as possible or be very vulnerable to Landorus. Now what kind of situation does that put you in? Your opponent could switch in Landorus, force you to eat the SR damage, and then immediately switch to a counter - now you have no Landorus counter at all. Alternatively he could take advantage of the fact that he knows you're trying to get your spinner in to ease prediction. All of a sudden your number of possible moves is incredibly restricted because you chose a Landorus counter which is weak to Stealth Rock.

    Stealth Rock disproportionately hurts styles which require a lot of switching, namely, stall.
    Stealth Rock is often considered to be a weapon of stall. After all, stall teams are supposed to stack hazards, spinblock, and force switches, right? Well, that's not really the kind of stall I see anymore. Generally stall attempts to stack damage with hazards, but also weather, status, and small amounts of chip damage that add up over time and take advantage of the typical offensive team's lack of recovery. More and more, Stealth Rock this generation has become a weapon of offense. Why? Because SR turns 2HKOs into OHKOs and 3HKOs into 2HKOs, massively limiting the number of defensive checks you have to take into account and increasing offensive flexibility. HO teams don't really have to be worried about Stealth Rock for several reasons - they don't switch nearly as much, they put offensive pressure on opposing teams which makes SR harder to get up, and the presence of offensive spinners (usually Starmie) and powerful Pursuiters makes spinblocking quite difficult for stall. Meanwhile, dedicated SR leads like Taunt Terrakion, Custap Skarmory or Garchomp practically guarantee that offense can set up SR several times a game against stall.
    I personally get the very worst part of this running hail stall, so perhaps my experience is somewhat exaggerated compared to most. But the presence of these pokemon makes my life VERY difficult. I personally use Forretress, but for any spinner the number of pokemon it can switch in and spin on is inherently limited and you don't have many chances against an offensive team which is constantly putting pressure on you. My stall team (and I think most stall teams) would be far better off without SR - it makes more walls viable, means your walls counter more pokemon and in more situations, and allows you to play around more opponents by switching smartly.

    I would also like to play up the point LonelyNess made about disincentivizing switching in general. The ability to switch smartly is possibly the most important and most difficult skill that a competitive battler has. Predicting opponent's moves and switches and switching to counter them can turn a bad matchup into a victory and a good battler into a great battler. SR puts a passive limiter on ANY switching, in all situations, no matter what. Making switching harder makes predicting harder which makes battling less skillful, full stop. That's not a happy state of affairs.

    Edit: Well, it appears after scanning the poll thread that perhaps there are more pro-ban people than I thought...oops?
  4. Seven Deadly Sins

    Seven Deadly Sins ~hallelujah~
    is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus

    May 29, 2008
    this post approved by OU moderator PKGaming

    Let's take a look at these "arguments", shall we?

    Ease of Use

    Last I checked, this has really never been an argument in favor of banning. It's a good move that has remarkably good distribution. There are plenty of good moves that are common. Alternately: If Stealth Rock had less distribution, would you no longer favor banning it? Because otherwise, it's an argument that doesn't actually exist. It's just a "look how many pokemon get this good move, it must be broken!" comment that is used as filler, because clearly more arguments = better. Filler arguments have no place in reasonable debate.

    Permanence of Support

    Are you in favor of banning Thunder Wave? As soon as you use it, it's doing work for you all game, outside of specific interactions from your opponent (Heal Bell / Aromatherapy, Natural Cure). Same goes with Toxic. Same goes with normal Spikes. Are you in favor of banning those too?

    (also outside of specific interactions (recover/wish/leftovers/etc) that 30-40% that Draco Meteor did isn't going away either, and it definitely isn't going away if you KO something with it)

    Strength of Support

    It's a strong effect, no doubt. It defines the game, definitely. Saying that it's a strong effect is not an argument for banning. Burn is a strong effect. It does constant damage and cuts Attack by 50%. Scald's ubiquity has made it basically a constant thought. Paralysis is not only a strong effect, but with Thunder becoming relevant and Jirachi being common, it's a consistently present effect. Strong game-defining effects are not rare, and not banworthy.

    Also, it's totally within our reach to ban EVs. We could mandate that EV-removing berries must be used before every standard OU battle. We could mandate that every Pokemon use a neutral nature, so that stats are unaffected in any direction. We could mandate that Pokemon are banned from using four moves, and must instead only go into battle with three moves! Saying that we should remove a game-defining effect because it is within our reach is a terrible precedent to set.

    Are an afront to the sole thing that makes competitive Pokemon possible: Switching

    Would you ban normal Spikes? Would you ban Pursuit? Effects that affect switching do not invalidate the effectiveness of switching. How about things like Mean Look, Wrap, Fire Spin, etc. Should effects that disable switching be banned? During their duration, the game becomes "uncompetitive" since switching no longer exists. Do we ban those?

    Again, if you intend to hold your arguments to a double standard, then they are filler arguments, and actually work against you. An argument only works if it applies universally.

    Keeps otherwise broken Pokemon in Check:

    This one's going to be a two-part answer.

    1. Let's take Volcarona as an example. Not only do two of those fall far short against Rain Volcarona, but all three lose to Hidden Power Rock, which would be a much better option in this theoretical SR-free metagame. On top of that, without Stealth Rock around, Volcarona just ends up with an even easier option: just get the fuck out of dodge. Letting Volcarona have multiple bites at the sweep is already bad enough, and it's made even worse when you consider that the Volcarona user now has plenty more chances to bait out and slaughter the opponent's "counter". Finally, Choiced sets for Volcarona become far more appealing, and my bet is that Specs Fire Blast nets an easy 2HKO on most of the "counters" enabled by the lack of SR. Likewise, all of the Dragonite "counters" listed only apply to stally/defensive teams, only work at 100%, and don't fit into every team. On the other hand. the inability to easily revenge Dragonite caused by an active Multiscale makes Dragonite even more effective against offensive teams. You trade one set of counters for another, in a way that shifts the hurt from one type of team to a different one.
    2. Inaccuracy of comments aside, this is still a bad argument on its face. We shouldn't be banning or unbanning to benefit or harm specific Pokemon. If a decision causes a Pokemon to become overpowered, that Pokemon is a problem regardless of where the hammer falls on the issue, and should be dealt with accordingly.

    Is able to be "countered" by Rapid Spin

    I tend to think this is a fairly weak argument on the face of it, but I'll take it up anyway. Technically, the person setting up Stealth Rock is a turn behind as well, but the difference is that Rapid Spin is reactionary rather than proactive, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a turn spent. Furthermore, teams that lean on Rapid Spin to beat specific Pokemon then have to play catch-up trying to get Stealth Rock on the field again (if they even kept their SR user alive), and barring that, tend to have serious issues. It's not impossible to punish use of Stealth Rock (you can't say there was never a game where it just kinda went "i laid down sr but he used sd/dd/whatever and straight up swept me" or "i laid down sr but my sr user died and then he swept me with something countered by my sr user" with that last one being especially notable in the case of ferrothorn). Rapid Spin is a choice made with the team in mind, and its successful use has the potential of a major impact. Don't consider it a "counter to stealth rock", consider it a move that exploits a team's over-reliance on Stealth Rock.

    Stealth Rock limits the metagame based on typing.

    Let's face it. The vast majority of Pokemon that are seriously harmed by Stealth Rock are also largely seriously harmed by a number of significant other flaws. Fire, Ice, and Bug have always been pretty universally bad types, and while Stealth Rock tends to accentuate their problems, it definitely isn't the source of said problems. Sure, there are a couple Pokemon that would be more viable without Stealth Rock (Victini, Darmanitan, and Yanmega are the ones that come to mind) but saying "Stealth Rock ruins types" is nonsense. Furthermore, it's also not a very good argument. Banning Stealth Rock because it might make some Pokemon better is a vast overreaction, and also mighty shaky.

    Stealth Rock disproportionately hurts styles which require a lot of switching, namely, stall.

    I'd argue that bulky offense which tends to have less recovery and leans more on straight bulk and resistances takes more of a hit, but that's a questionable fight and one that really shouldn't be a factor. What I really take offense with is this quote:

    I bet that Hail Stall would be way better if we banned Flamethrower and/or Fire Blast. So would a whole lot of Pokemon. If you're running a stall team that is really hit hard by Stealth Rock, you're probably not building a very good stall team (hail stall has never been good), and banning a move so that bad stall teams are less bad is an incredible prospect.

    Stealth Rock is a thing in the game. It's good for some Pokemon, bad for others. It benefits pretty much every team, and it's been mighty ubiquitous. None of these things warrant a ban.
    Magcargo and PK Gaming like this.
  5. jpw234

    jpw234 Catastrophic Event Specialist

    Feb 13, 2013
    Thanks for posting, SDS! I was worried this would be completely ignored, which would be silly because this is an interesting discussion to have, and particularly relevant given the explosion of chatter in the poll thread.

    Unfortunately I'm going to kind of have to break the friendly formatting that's been going on through the last three posts. The reason being that I tend to agree with each of SDS's points...in isolation. Stealth Rock is an entirely different animal as far as bans we've thought about goes, and it deserves to be judged as such - and I don't think there's one particular facet of Stealth Rock that makes it bannable. Rather, I think it's a combination of several factors. Those would be ease of use, permanence of effect, strength of effect, lack of opportunity cost, and discrimination against particular pokemon/playstyles.

    That's a lot of stuff, no doubt. But I think they have to be looked at together to understand what SR does to the game as a whole. By taking them in isolation, you lose the big picture. SDS, you noted that there are plenty of moves (CC, EQ, Scald) that are widely prevalent in the meta, status is permanent, Burn is strong, etc. - but none of these things combines all of those factors into one moveslot, which I think is uniquely different.

    Let's look at what each of these effects does:
    Ease of use/wide distribution: Stealth Rock exists on a multitude of fantastic pokemon, plenty of other alright ones, and a bunch of shitty ones too. There is no team archetype that needs to stretch or use an unfavorable pokemon in order to get Stealth Rock in their team.
    Lack of opportunity cost: Stealth Rock takes one turn to set up, and barring the opponent having Magic Bounce (which you can see on Team Preview) or Magic Coat (basically non-existent with Deo-D gone), clicking Stealth Rock can never hurt you. Additional damage will never be a bad thing (for Reversal mons, SR breaks Sash so probably still beneficial).
    Strength/permanence of effect: SR hurts every team. Some teams can be less vulnerable to it than others, but it will always hurt. Even if it gets spun quickly, setting up Stealth Rock puts lots of pressure on SR-weak teams like Sun or Hail to find a way to get in their spinner, which is in itself an advantage. Setting up Stealth Rock on the first turn pretty much guarantees an additional 50-150% damage throughout the game, unless you're packing like three Magic Guard pokemon.
    The combination of these three factors means that Stealth Rock exists on every team. Within each of these three different qualities you can draw parallels, as SDS has done. There is nothing that compares to Stealth Rock in having all of these qualities. Not Dragon-type pokemon, not Steel-type pokemon, not Scald, not Spikes, not Ghosts, not Close Combat, not Earthquake, not Pursuit, not Drizzle. Nothing. No team is worse with Stealth Rock, no team is better without it, no team should ever not have it. This cannot be said for anything we've ever banned or considered banning. Excadrill, Deo-D, Swift Swim/Drizzle - all situational to some extent. SR is omnipresent. It will find you.
    Crucially, we all have to teambuild as though Stealth Rock is up at all times. This should not be a controversial statement - it shows every time we build a team. This was what I was trying to show with my example of Togekiss v. Landorus in the poll thread, although I don't think I explained it well enough. Togekiss counters Landorus...unless Stealth Rocks are up. Therefore, Togekiss does not counter Landorus. Every competent OU battler will tell me so. Even if I run Rapid Spin Starmie and Espeon on my team and make every effort to stop Stealth Rock from getting up, Togekiss is still not a viable counter for Landorus because Stealth Rock is going to be up in a bunch of games that I play no matter what I do. What this means is that regardless of countermeasures we have to treat Stealth Rock as though it is always set up because that's what we do in our teambuilding.

    Now, while I think that this is a pretty good reason to at least be suspicious of Stealth Rock, it's not a guaranteed reason to ban. Attacking moves are on every team, Leftovers/Life Orb is on every team - while these clearly are not broken, they show that just being everywhere does not = ban. But one additional factor tips things over the edge for me.

    If every pokemon/team took broadly was affected about the same by Stealth Rock, I don't think it would necessarily be bannable. But this is not the case. In addition to everything else that makes Stealth Rock strong, it is also discriminatory by type, and by playstyle. Switching-intensive styles like Bulky Offense and Stall, and the types weak to Rock are at a systemic disadvantage due to the omnipresence of Stealth Rock. This inherently distorts the meta in favor of particular pokemon and playstyles, which is a bannable offense.

    One might think that this is not unique to Stealth Rock. Admittedly, the types weak to Rock all have their own problems (although they all have their good qualities, as well - in particular Bug/Flying/Fire/Ice are all pretty decent attacking types), and the playstyles that get hurt are not perfect. But Stealth Rock is a disadvantage that is completely different from any other kind. Stall might have a lot of trouble with Kyurem-B - but I can teambuild to counter that. I can use Jirachi or Forretress or whatever else in an attempt to counter it, and once I decide my counter, I can teambuild under the assumption that Kyurem-B is to some extent dealt with. The same cannot be said for Stealth Rock. I can put a Rapid Spinner and Magic Bouncer on my team...but I still have to assume that Stealth Rock is up more often than not and therefore still will shy away from these pokemon/playstyles.

    Another try to explain why this is so different. Take Keldeo, a top-tier threat in today's meta. Keldeo kills Mamoswine regardless of what Mamoswine does. But that does not mean that I shouldn't run Mamoswine, or that I have to treat Mamoswine like a potential liability when I'm considering it for my team. That's because I can pack Celebi, or Slowking, or Jellicent, or some counter (I don't want to get into a debate about whether these things are counters, suffice to say that there exists a counter and you can insert it here).

    For Yanmega, that's different. I can pack Donphan and Xatu on my team (or insert another spinner or bouncer, the specifics aren't important, just the roles they fill) - the theoretical "counters" to Stealth Rock. Doesn't matter. I still have to assume that Yanmega comes in at 50% health. Yanmega is still a competitive liability due to Stealth Rock before I even press the Find Battle button.

    This is not true for anything else that we have ever seen. This is an omnipresent and systemic disadvantage to using particular pokemon and playstyles which is treated as uncounterable when we teambuild. There's a lot of debate about what "overcentralization" means and whether it's a reason to ban. Every team has to pack a check or two to Keldeo, yeah, that limits the number of viable pokemon. What Stealth Rock does is on a whole different level. It stands outside the metagame. It implicitly excludes pokemon like Yanmega or Moltres from viability before we even look at the metagame, and puts a heavy disadvantage on playstyles like Sun/Hail Stall or Bulky Offense. And that's a legit reason to suspect, if not ban.

    Edit: Another thing. Stealth Rock is not part of the "metagame". When I think of the metagame, I'm thinking of what pokemon are popular, what styles are popular, what cores are currently being use. We had a metagame defined by Excadrill, one defined by Drizzle/SS, we had one defined by Deo-D Hyper Offense, we have one defined by Keldeo and Landorus-I. Stealth Rock transcends the metagame. Stealth Rock is a necessity regardless of what strategies and pokemon are currently popular. It doesn't matter what the metagame looks like, SR-weak pokemon like Yanmega and Moltres will not be viable because of Stealth Rock.
  6. Epsilonico


    Apr 30, 2012
    Right out of the box, I realize that I'm not one of the mentioned ten users that are allowed to post, but I think this discussion is worth an infraction.

    The users above have all been for the banning of Stealth Rock, so I thought I would spice up the conversation with a differing opinion.

    Some people commented on how easy it is to use Stealth Rock, the permanence of Stealth Rock until the opponent uses Rapid Spin, the sheer strength of Stealth Rock, how it limits switching, and how Stealth Rock hurts styles and teams that heavily rely on switching, but nobody has mentioned the effect banning Stealth Rock would have on the current meta-game.

    I do agree that Stealth Rock is very easy to use, and yes, needing to clear the field with Rapid Spin is a hassle, but the lack of the rocks would create a massive imbalance in the current meta-game. Pokemon that have a niche use in the OU environment right now solely because of their spinning capabilities will never see the light of OU again, such as Sandshrew or even Starmie, because Spikes and Toxic Spikes aren't as threatening as Stealth Rock. Designated spin-blockers will also drop in usage considerably because the other hazards can't 'stack' up to Stealth Rock as it is right now.

    Others have said that Stealth Rock hurts Bulky Offense and Stall considerably, and I couldn't disagree more. Without Stealth Rock, Stall as a playstyle would have never been used this generation. Stall is a thing of the past, and just can't handle the massive power creep if it doesn't have Stealth Rock because Stall is all about forcing switches through having defensive 'mons wall other 'mons with their bul and typing. Status would be the only way to faint the opposing pokemon other than measly attacks. Stall will die with the banning of Stealth Rock, and if that's not hurting a style that relies on switching, then I don't know what is.

    When it comes down to making certain types less competitively viable, I agree completely, but I don't think a single- albeit major- pro outweighs a multitude of cons.

    How do we as a group go about the banning of Stealth Rock? We don't, not yet. The metagame is stable at the moment with no overly powerful style or 'mon at the moment, so I suggest waiting until the next generation comes out before even considering banning Stealth Rock. We might get a pokemon that automatically clears Stealth Rock off the field or Stealth Rock might be weakened to the level of Spikes. Who knows?
  7. Kidogo


    Feb 11, 2012
    OK, cool. As you might guess if you've seen my posts in the initial thread, I'm definitely on the ban side. Hopefully someone on the pro-SR side will respond to jpw, but for now I just want to answer SDS a bit more formally and add a couple points that haven't really been made yet.

    Ease of use: I think LN was making a slightly different point here that was definitely valid, and I want to elaborate on this one a bit. LN's point here was that, compared to other features of OU that define the tier to a similar degree as SR does, SR requires much less changing of one's team. I honestly see (and I think few would deny--let me know if you do) SR as shaping the meta as much as if not more than a major weather. It hugely changes how viable many mons are, how you go about countering various threats (which, as you noted, is showcased by the fact that getting SR up and then RKing dnite is the popular strategy to check something like DDnite since SR naturally breaks multiscale and lowers it to KO range). I'm not saying that any of this stuff is bad. Just that SR has an incredibly huge impact on the meta...and because of its distribution and lack of drawbacks, it requires basically nothing of a team. This is not true for anything with remotely SR's metagame-shaping ability.

    The second issue in terms of ease of use I want to touch on is linked to the relative difficulties of RSing and SRing, which I'll get to below.

    Permanence of use: The crucial difference I see here between DM, for example, and SR, is that, sure that -40% will be there the whole game, but the opp isn't being attacked every turn. SR is a damaging move that activates repeatedly through the match, and does MORE damage each time. Conversely, sure that damage may remain for the rest of the match, but that's all it's going to do. The "effect" that is permanent is that it will damage, not the damage itself. I mean, are you saying that if DM does less to the opp because they brought a blissey out that it's not having its effect? No--it is the act of dealing damage, not the damage itself, that is the move "activating". And yes, I'd agree that this is true for status effects as well (although the fact that it affects the entire team is huge), and for spikes--but this is not enough to ban something, it's just yet another point against SR in OU. Even if something like freeze was judged to have the same "strength" as SR does on a team (note that you're weighing a debilitation of one mon vs passive damage on an entire team, although I might even still compare freeze's effect on a match to SR's), it still would almost certainly not be broken, because there is nothing that has more than a slight chance to cause freeze. Tl;dr, SR's "permanence of effect" is much more lasting than any other damage-dealing move, and arguably more than most status effects, while it has far more effect on a team than any status effect or similarly permanent move.

    Strength of support: I went though a rough calculation in the previous thread, so I'll try to abridge it here. Based on experience, I'd estimate that the mean game length is something approximating 30 turns (I find mine usually range from 20-50ish on average, with some exception obviously and leaning towards the shorter end). Again, I'd estimate something around half of my turns are spent switching. Sometimes a couple mons will duke it out, lowering that average, but then sometimes there'll be double-switching that prompts another (double) switch, and then you're lowering the average, but I've found I switch something approximating every other turn. So 30 turns, 1/2 of them spent switching, is 15 switches per game on average. Let's assume an entire team is neutral to SR. If it gets set up turn 1, and does 12.5% each switch, that team will accrue 187.5% damage over the course of the match. Obviously, this is a very rough estimate. It is lower if a mon has lefties that activate because of SR damage, or heals "past full". Then again, if a team has a single SR-weak mon (which the majority do, I feel confident in guessing), the total damage is raised considerably, particularly given that one SR-weak + one SR-resistant =/= two SR-neutrals. Meanwhile, higher-level games tend to have a markedly higher ratio of switching, often including multiple back-to-back turns of double-switching with both players trying to maneuver into an advantageous position. So all in all I'd estimate an overall effect of something in the vicinity of 200% if set up turn 1. Feel free to disagree with any specifics of this, but I think this serves as an accurate estimate?

    Honestly, I get kinda scared looking at this number. One move, taking one turn to set up, that in an average game can deal close to 1/3 of an entire team's health. I can't think of anything with close to this effect (sleep and freeze, for instance, are the only things that stand out in my mind like this. They are separated from SR by the fact that a sleeped/frozen mon is certainly not dead, the conditions are not necessarily permanent, there are viable ways to counter them (a natural cure/magic bounce mon for sleep, for instance, using scald or switching in on a fire attack for freeze, and above all distribution, particularly in the case of freeze. And even still, 100 certainly =/= ~200%). I really see this as where SR is just crazy. Burn and paralysis are strong effects, certainly, but I hope no one will claim that they average an effect of ~200% lost per game. This is the first strike of bannability in my mind.

    Discouraging switching: what I'll say is this: free switching is something that should be initially assume in my mind, and should only be lost through being outplayed by the opp's use of such. Here's what i mean. Pursuit is, in some ways, uncompetitive. If the opp is in a checkmate situation, there is literally no play they can make to improve it. But what this also means is that you had to arrange situations so that YOU could be in this situation. For example, consider LOmie vs bandtar. Mie 2HKOs ttar if it predicts the switch-in, so this is not simply a path you can take towards uncompetitive victory. Instead, you have to set up a path where you've established that you always bring your heatran in on their ferrothorn and try to lava plume it. Instead, pivot to ttar as they go to mie to absorb the hit. Obviously, this is a simplified version, but the point is, the only way to accrue that "uncompetitive advantage" is by smart competitive play. Same with spikes--sure, you can lead with your spikes user, but if you send out ferrothorn, they had better not have sent out anything with a fire attack, a powerful fighting attack, or a taunt user, or have a magic bounce user on their team, because in that case ferro is getting up a layer at best. And this doesnt give you nearly the competitive advantage of having SR up--you do 12% max and don't do any damage to anything with flying or levitate (11/top 30 OU mons, fwiw). This is so so much less of a disincentive for switching than SR.

    So what makes SR essentially uncompetitive while these others are not? I'll phrase it like this: it does NOT take skill to execute, and once set up, reduces emphasis on skill.
    Pursuit/other trapping: very much decreases emphasis on skill (if the opp has their tenta in vs duggy, there's not anything they can do). However, you either have to sac a mon (decreasing the magnitude of the effect considerably) or you have to predict right to get into the advantageous position. So it requires skill to execute, and sure it decreases what the opp can do, but that's fine--their task was to avoid that situation.
    Spikes: one layer takes little skill, three takes much more--and their effect on the opp's ability to abuse switching is proportional. Three layers of spikes punishes the opp for switching arguably at the same level as SR (especially since many mons are outright immune to spikes, they can be abused as well--something that is truly impossible with SR, barring the extremely rare magic guard guys), but take three turns to set up, which is huge especially since one turn is almost always guaranteed given the ability to simply lead with a SRer. On the other hand, one layer is similarly easy as SR to set up (although not in truth, due to an issue below), but limits switching much much less.

    The other issue here is distribution, which is totally crucial. Part of the reason why it is so much harder to set up three layers of spikes than to set up SR (even if you had to do it 3 times for it to take effect) is because SR users are just so much better than spikes users, due to SR's ridiculous distribution. There are 4 OU mons that can use spikes (skarm, forry, ferro, cloy). First of all, there is a remarkable similarity between them: they are all physical walls with very low SpD and a marked weakness to fire on the whole. While these guys do get ample opportunities to switch in on physical attackers, they are forced out just as often by special attackers. So while they may get a layer up as a physical attacker switches, they're certainly not getting two--and the next time they have an opportunity to come in, they run the risk of being out-predicted, in which case your team has to take a hit from a special attacker or lose momentum. if you can pull it off three times, great--but this is a very difficult task. Compare this with the fact that like half of OU can viably use SR (in fact, 10 out of top 20), and it simply is so much easier to get your SRer in for a turn. Also note that ferrothorn, the one exception to the rule of spikers being frail specially and thus being forced out easily, basically requires rain support for this to be the case since without it any fire user OHKOs it. Notice how even this is somewhat dictating your playstyle (similarly, forry is primarily used on sun, since it needs the cushion on water attacks, fire being a lost cause). The fact that these guys are all defensive is even more restraining to playstyle, since they lose momentum and thus dont fit at all on offensive teams. It also makes them unfit as leads, delaying the time from which spikes can do its work.

    Keeping otherwise broken things in check: This is an interesting one since it goes both ways. I think the main thing to keep in mind is just that, even though many threats like volc get harder to contain, they also gain new, much more reliable counters. I don't see this as a huge issue and in fact, my guess is that dnite would be almost certainly broken if SR was banned (unless sand/hail became massively more popular) because multiscale basically always being present is hard to deal with. Volc, I'm not so sure, mostly just because it doesn't become fundamentally different without SR in play--it just has more chances to set up/more health to do so with. Anyway, I don't see this as an important issue, and as you pointed out SDS, it shouldn't affect a decision--and this goes both ways.

    Countered by rapid spin: I firmly believe that a well-constructed team (perhaps one, as you phrased it, that is "heavily reliant on SR") that wants to keep SR down on the opp's side will be able to guarantee this 99% of the time vs even a well-constructed team that very much does not want SR down on their side. SR coming sooner than RS by definition is a factor, yes, but in my mind these are the two major factors that make it so so much easier to set up SR than get rid of it: countering tactics and distribution.

    Countering SR--basically, you can taunt/magic coat or send out a magic bouncer. That's it. Taunt/magic coat are both very rare, meaning you don't encounter them much. Furthermore, when you DO see them, it's very easy to predict them coming because of their rarity and simply attack the opp. Meanwhile, magic bounce being distributed to two FE mons, both of which are mediocre...meaning that in addition to basically entirely wasting a teamslot to counter SR (already a step towards overcentralization), they cannot even switch into offensive SR setters. terrakion, ttar, mamo, chomp, etc. all decimate both xatu and espy and can set up SR, while even stuff like forry can volt switch out of them. Doesn't help that both are liable to be pursuit-trapped (although BP on espy is nice).
    Countering RS--first of all, they have to find a free turn to do so. This is much harder because a SR lead can just rely on their sash, while a spinner by definition won't have one. So option 1 is just kill it or don't let it have a free turn--this is what ideally happens with most offensive teams, and it is very very difficult to get a spin in. The other method is using a ghost-type. Admittedly, there are basically two good options: jellicent and gengar, with sableye sorta counting as well. And the thing is, it doesn't even really matter if the RSer can beat them--although I'll go into this a bit more below--because just sending them in blocks the spin. And saccing a spinblocker to kill the spinner is basically always worth it.
    Distribution: This is what really tips the scale in my mind. Basically, there are two viable OU spinners: tenta and mie. Donphan and forry fill specific niches, but basically only function on sun/stall respectively, and neither can do anything to touch the aforementioned spinblockers. And tenta and mie are both highly prone to being trapped: tenta by duggy and mie by ttar/weavile/scizor/pursuiter. Because of this, a core of something like thunder gengar + scarftar is close to 100% guaranteed to beat all spinners: tenta only 2HKOs gar in rain, in which case it can abuse thunder to close to OHKO tenta (252 SpA Life Orb Gengar Thunder vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Tentacruel: 294-346 (80.76 - 95.05%) -- guaranteed 2HKO). If it's not in rain, it can just sball twice while tenta barely recovers health. Then jsut send in ttar to finish up. Mie is even simpler: sac gar, bring ttar in. Pursuit does 60% min to offensive mie (the only kind that has a chance to beat jelli), so you win guaranteed. It does get a spin off if they predict right (you can always crunch, of course, especially given that they took 22.5% switching in and killing gar at the very minimum), but just bring your SRer back in and set up rocks, saccing it as you do so. This is possible because the distribution of SR is simply too wide, allowing top OU offensive threats to set it up, while RS's narrow distribution means only very few mons are able to effectively use it, and these are so specific that they are easily dealt with.

    Stealth rock's effect on typing: Yes, it happens to be true that many of the types that SR hits hardest are already mediocre. But that's no reason to think that SR has not played a huge role in making many mons of those types non-viable in OU. Additionally, this seems really important given the goal of tiering, which is to maintain a balanced meta that is as diverse as possible, including in regard to the viability of different types. Sure, ice has lots of disadvantages compared to something like fighting, but it has a niche in helping to beat dragons--this is what gives the meta flavor: a complex, intricate rock-paper-scissors. But when you switch the rules and say that now rock beats paper as well, or even that paper only has a 50% chance to beat rock, you're essentially invalidating it as an option (and by doing so, scissors as well, which loses its niche...). Obviously a super-simplified parallel, but you get my point. Adding SR does nothing but exacerbate the fragility of what are already some of the weakest and least viable types, which is contrary to our goal regarding OU.

    Stealth rock hurting playstyles with a lot of switching: Honestly, I see this as a subset of the "switching as the competitive element of pokemon" argument. In many ways, stall is the most intelligent playstyle, and more crucially involves more intelligence in playing correctly. As I already explained, SR really discourages this, and thus discourages stall as a result. In and of itself, not a bad thing--I just think this is demonstrative of the non-competitive nature of SR and is a big reason I feel it should be banned/suspected.

    @Epsilon: Just want to point out that the number of mons lost because of a SR ban is far outnumbered by the number gained--I'm thinking sandslash, donphan maybe, things like sableye and hitmontop would be less used as well. Starmie would def stay OU imo, it's been OU for 5 gens including 3 in which SR did not exist, and it's still an amazing rain attacker. A SR ban would not hurt stall because stall is the kind of playstyle that can make use of spikes, so it wouldn't alter their strategy that much while they lose a ton of residual damage on their members. As I mentioned above, this would not only help stall, it would help make stall's success rate much more connected to the skill level of the player. Finally, we can't just wait until next gen because: BW is gonna be relevant way after XY comes out; GF has never done anything to equalize the meta, we have no reason to think they'll start now; SR is not gonna go through a mechanics change; and finally, that's not how tiering works. We have months before XY is released and if we believe that SR is broken, we should test and potentially ban it.

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