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Current Gen OU Council's framework for "competitive" (and "uncompetitive")

Discussion in 'Policy Review' started by Aldaron, Sep 16, 2015.

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  1. Aldaron

    Aldaron
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    It's hard not to write a ridiculous tl;dr regarding this...I'll try my best.

    The reason I am specifying "Current Gen OU" is because I don't believe we can quickly and to everyone's satisfaction come to an agreement for all official tiers across Smogon. That is why this topic will focus solely on the current OU Council's framework for what competitive and uncompetitive are. That way you can all argue within this framework (whether you agree with it or not; if you disagree, that would be a separate topic and you would have to argue elsewhere about that, not deluge a topic with statements that apply to your own definitions and not a standard).

    Note, this framework doesn't have to be super specific, but it should be thorough. This framework doesn't have to be solely objective; it should strive to keep objectivity at the forefront but it CAN recognize that quantifying this game in a meaningful manner is pretty hard, so subjective judgment calls can be part of the framework. This framework also doesn't have to permanent; it can change as required by the times.

    Anyway, I believe it is absolutely vital the OU Council and its current 7 members discuss what it means to be competitive and uncompetitive, because these words are thrown out in every debate nowadays and people are approaching it from completely different perspectives. We were able to kind of brush aside the issue before but I feel it has reached its boiling point and now we need something consistent.

    What we need is to set up a framework so that, even if they disagree with it, they have to argue within that framework. If they feel strongly that the framework is wrong, they have to argue that in here, not in a specific application topic.

    Anyone is welcome to pitch in on this topic and I'll be closing all the other PR topics until we come to a good framework that is approved by the council.

    I'll start this as open-ended and narrow down as I see necessary.

    I'm also aware we have other topics about this, but those died so I'm start new. Don't quote your posts from those threads.

    Also, for a bit of guidance, note this one very important change: the OU Council, in the 6th generation, unlike the previous generations, changed from banning things in a vacuum to banning for the sake of the metagame.

    Yes, that is nebulous (and it was meant to be), but what this means is that we should start with things like what we consider to be "competitive" or "healthy" metagames, not about specific things like Pokemon or abilities or items and what not. That will come later.

    There are many topics to discuss here...probability management, switching and preventing switching, team match up factor and centralization come up as potential starters.

    So what are "competitive" and "uncompetitive" for the current gen OU?

    Quick Edit:

    As a brief point of information, I want to emphasize that the purpose / intention of this thread is less to determine a solid, set in stone line for broken / uncompetitive / whatever and MUCH MORE to set the parameters for the discussion. That's what I mean by framework.
  2. Aldaron

    Aldaron
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  3. dice

    dice

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    i'll embellish further when i gather my thoughts on the subject; however, i'd like to make a contention from some of the flawed reasoning seen in the gothitelle thread.

    a common rationalization when discussing gothitelle was simply addressing shadow tag as a whole. as many so aptly retorted: shadow tag takes away player autonomy, ergo it is uncompetitive.

    nonetheless, this deservedly needs an asterisk after it. it is incomplete as a whole. hypothetically, what if a pokemon with 10/10/10/10/10/10 base stats had the ability shadow tag? shadow tag is supposedly inherently uncompetitive, despite the necessity to forge the definition itt, yet is that pokemon actually going to create a situation where the environment is uncompetitive? moreover, if an ability is so uncompetitive, shouldn't all pokemon possessing the ability be uncompetitive as well? with this in mind, to be uncompetitive a pokemon must meet an arbitrary requirement of consistent game impact.

    this is a very rudimentary but very necessary addition imo.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
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  4. jpw234

    jpw234 Catastrophic Event Specialist

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    I agree that figuring out what we understand "competitive" to mean is very important for tiering, so it's good that this discussion is being prioritized.

    I think there are two things that are true overall about what we want from our competitive Pokemon metagames:
    - We want them to be skilltesting - the better player should usually win
    - We want them to match up to the cartridge as much as possible

    The problem is that these two goals inherently contradict each other, because the cartridge mechanics include a bunch of things that detract from the game being perfectly skilltesting (a la chess). We have moves with miss chances and built-in hax mechanics like full paralysis, flinch chances, crits, etc. We have to strike a balance between keeping the game playable competitively, and keeping the game recognizable as something that is Pokemon. So we have to figure out some metric that will get rid of clearly gamebreaking mechanics like OHKO moves without banning everything that isn't 100% reliable and turning our metas into pure calculator wars.

    Let's look at what "skilltesting" means in the context of competitive Pokemon. Many competitive environments (most athletics) test skill via physical coordination, strength, etc., where different actions available to a player have different outcomes depending on their level of ability (i.e. any two people can shoot a 3-point shot, but Stephen Curry will make one more than most others). Pokemon does not have this feature - all the actions available to a player are equally effective no matter who is taking them. Meaning, it doesn't matter if it's M Dragon or me clicking Surf, Surf is going to do exactly the same amount of damage.
    In this type of competitive environment, "skill" cannot refer to how hard a player clicks the Surf button, but instead must refer to when a player chooses to use Surf (or any other move) compared to the other choices available to him. In Pokemon, skill can only refer to the ability to make the best choices available to a player. In team construction, this refers to choices about team members, moveslots, EVs, items etc. In a battle, this refers to the 5-9 choices available at any given time - use one of 4 moves, or switch to another of your 1-5 remaining teammates.

    However, not all choices test skill, even in competitive Pokemon. There are two ways that a choice might not test skill:
    1. A choice can be meaningless. For example, the choice to make your Pokemon shiny or not does not have a meaningful effect on a battle.
    2. Less obvious, but a choice can be unbalanced. This occurs when a choice is not really a choice by virtue of one of the options being the preferable one an overwhelming amount of the time (for the purposes of our discussion, typically when a Pokemon is broken).

    Therefore, I propose the following definitions: a competitive metagame maximizes the number of meaningful, balanced choices available to players. Something could be considered uncompetitive if it decreases the number of meaningful, balanced choices available to players.

    Since definitions like this need to be tested to show their value, let's look at how such a definition applies to some things that we generally consider to be uncompetitive.
    Moody: the ability Moody was banned for being uncompetitive. Moody decreases the number of meaningful choices available to players, because it grants a random boost independent of the choice the players make. A player might make an objectively correct play that is rendered meaningless by a boost that Moody grants.
    OHKO moves: OHKO moves arguably are unbalanced, because they grant a disproportionately powerful effect. Moreover, they appear to reduce meaningful choices because they bypass resistances and power differentials between Pokemon. An OHKO move hitting makes any choice the defending player made completely meaningless, unlike other powerful moves like Draco Meteor or Earthquake, which can be mitigated by switching to a resist or immunity.
    Sleep/Freeze clause: Being slept or frozen clearly reduces the number of meaningful choices available to a player since they suffer several turns of being unable to attack, leaving them only able to switch. Therefore, these are limited to 1 sleeping/frozen Pokemon per player.

    In my mind, things that are typically buzzword-cited as "uncompetitive" tend to decrease the number of meaningful choices, while things that are typically cited as "broken" tend to decrease the number of balanced choices. Any ban made for balance self-evidently fits in the above definition - when a metagame sharply skews or "overcentralizes" (yay more buzzwords!) towards a Pokemon, choices in teambuilding become highly unbalanced.

    This definition has several advantages:
    - It tracks with most people's notions of what a competitive game should be. Criticisms about many banned game elements tend to be about their mindlessness or how easy they are to play with (see: Baton Pass, Mega-Mence, etc). This is because people want a game to have balanced choices. People also complain about hax, sleep, freeze etc. because they are perceived as invalidating their choices - people want a game to have meaningful choices.
    - It gives a less arbitrary metric to look at when considering suspects of certain game elements. We can objectively look at certain game elements decreasing good choices available to players (see Moody, OHKO moves).

    The biggest problem with this definition is that it can't be followed 100% strictly. If it was we would exclude all hax that is completely outside player control (full paras, crits etc.) which do detract from meaningful/balanced choices. However, this is simply a necessity that stems from the contradictory goals we have for our metagames. Some element of subjectivity is retained in determining what level of choice-restriction is acceptable.

    TL;DR: a competitive metagame maximizes the number of meaningful, balanced choices available to players. Something could be considered uncompetitive if it decreases the number of meaningful, balanced choices available to players.

    Edit dice: I think this is incorrect. For example, OHKO moves were (correctly) considered to be uncompetitive and banned on any Pokemon. Realistically, a Pokemon with 1/1/1/1/1/1 stats, no immunities, Klutz, etc. and access to OHKO moves would have zero game impact at any given time because any Pokemon could kill it before it could attack. However, we should not allow it, because the OHKO move mechanic has been determined to be inherently uncompetitive. It is possible to reason abstractly about some mechanics.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
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  5. Aldaron

    Aldaron
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    Isn't this only a problem if we use the qualification for uncompetitive as a binary, uncompetitive or not concept? What if instead of that we assume different specific things to have different "weights" or "degrees" of uncompetitiveness? Granted, this would be be subjective (obviously), but that's why I said we could delve into subjectivity.

    Also, if we're discussing "degrees" of uncompetitiveness, we could then open the debate to take your 10/10/10/10/10/10 bst example into account. Let's say we run the stats, and the "average" bst of OU qualified pokemon is something like 90 / 90 / 80 / 105 / 90 / 70. Couldn't we say: "sure, while Shadow Tag's degree of brokeness might not make a 10/10/10/10/10/10 Pokemon broken, it is enough to make the average OU Pokemon broken" and use that as reasoning?

    I think it's important to stray from black and white binary perspectives with broken, competitive, or whatever. It traps people into oversimplifying a very complex game.

    Each component we have is competitive (or not) to a certain degree, and things like distribution / whether or not it was on the average OU Pokemon are important considerations to make that we cannot make if don't view this in a "degrees" or "weights" context over a binary black / white one.
  6. ABR

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    In regards to centralization and team matchup, a pokemon is unhealthy if it forces excessive adaptations that lead to a metagame where it is severely difficult to reasonably match up against all types of relevant teams, because so much focus goes into checking this unhealthy pokemon/strategy. Another way to look at centralization or brokenness in regards to the metagame is if it hinders metagame variety/development. If there is a pokemon/strat that is so good that everyone uses it, and there is very limited counterplay for it, then only very specific teams can thrive. This causes a very stale metagame, with very few viable options, which is arguably unhealthy.

    I know this isn't too specific but I think it's a good starting point for defining what constitutes an unhealthy aspect of a metagame. There will obviously be some subjectivity necessary to establish what falls into this definition.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  7. Dread Arceus

    Dread Arceus total cockhead

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    imo "uncompetitive" is simply something that takes away from the meta being thought-provoking and strategic. Examples of this include swagplay and BP: swagplay took away from the strategy of the game as a whole as it allowed the meta to be heavily based on luck alone; while some luck is acceptable, it cannot and should not be one of the largest parts of the meta. BP on the other hand took away from the thought-provoking aspect of the meta (the term thrown around at the time being "mindless"), as it offered a simple strategy-execution style team that didn't require much thought to utilize, or build for that matter. A fully competitive meta requires tons of strategy, prediction, and teambuilding application in order for a player to be successful. A fully uncompetitive meta is quite literally a coinflip - it's simple, it's luck-based, and anybody can do it.
    The short version:
    Uncompetitive is either
    1) A thoughtless strategy or aspect of the game
    2) Something that takes away from the need to use strategy to win games.
  8. Krauersaut

    Krauersaut sharpen your knife
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    For anything to be "competitive", it most simply at its core means that in any given scenario, if subject A is more qualified/better than subject B, that subject A will likely come out on top. In direct connotation with Pokemon, we can expand "competitive" to meaning that the playing field is even and that variables that reduce the aforementioned "likely" scenario of the better player coming out on top are removed (e.g Sleep Clause, Dark Void Darkrai spam would probably suck). This brings us to the problem highlighted in the OP, the subjectiveness of that "the more deserving winner will most likely win" threshold. For us to truly define a competitive metagame, we have to come to a community acceptable theoretical level at which something transcends "difficult to play against" and becomes "uncompetitive" by exceeding aforementioned threshold. To me, this level would hover somewhere around the better player's odds of winning at or above 60%. Now, within my definition of "competitive", we can define "UNcompetitive" as something that drops the better player's chance of winning to below 60%, at its most basic. I'm not one to do the actual math and hammer out just how much, say, Shadow Tag abusers affect a player's odds, but this is the whole subjective factor that's made this such a slippery topic for Smogon policy in general.

    In contrast to the above, the limitations of the terms "competitive" and "uncompetitive" are anything but basic - should we delve further into the linguistics of "competitive" as regards to Pokemon, we see that there are literally hundreds of factors, far too many to account for with any given mathematical, ironed out process. The most key factors of which, in my opinion, being that a) all participants have access to the same resources, that b) there are viable methods to counteract said resources, and c) players ultimately retain autonomy (to an extent) over the outcome of the game. Here once again we encounter the problem of subjectiveness - which criteria are deemed more important than the others? For example, Shadow Tag. Both participants have access to it, and there ARE COUNTERMEASURES TO IT, but it does limit a player's autonomy in that it prevents switching (a key factor of competitive Pokemon, arguably THE most key). Is its violation of criteria c enough to overrule the former two? In a theoretical perfect scenario game, where all three criteria for a competitive game are met, the better player truly will have the better odds to win. We accept RNG as being a part of the game, and it will statistically balance out over whatever infinite number of games - with the knowledge of the latter, we can go back to isolating this "threshold" of what is an acceptable randomness that I keep referencing as the most key factor in determining a competitive metagame.

    tl;dr: If we are ever to truly make our way to an optimal metagame, I believe the first step should be to come to a relative consensus on what is an acceptable level of external influence.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  9. Bughouse

    Bughouse Like ships in the night, you're passing me by
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    This is what I think when it comes to "luck" elements that might be uncompetitive (abridged from a previous post from pre-Swagger ban era):

    No comments on other things because I personally don't think anything about team matchup can ever be "uncompetitive." imo if something is exacerbating team matchup issues, it's broken or at the very least unhealthy. But not uncompetitive.
    Vinc2612 and ABR like this.
  10. BKC

    BKC
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    Move over, Finchinator...

    I believe that "uncompetitive" can be defined as a metagame element that puts too much influence on the outcome of a game via factors besides one's in-battle moves. We've heard it all before, it's the reason Smogon has clauses - we want the battle conditions to be fair so the guy who plays better in any given game can win a vast majority of the time (I used to say "more often than not" but I realized that doesn't cut it because technically the better player winning 51% of the time and losing 49% of the time is scarily close to whether or not on turn 1 your Hippowdon's gonna lay Stealth Rock after Machamp DynamicPunches it). I think we've managed to succeed so far in that regard, I don't think anyone could really argue that our clauses don't allow for a fair fight. Whether they're as fair as possible, I don't know; I guess you could ask the question "how do we know our current clauses are as fair as they can be" so if anyone wants to get that rolling, ball's in your court. However I'm satisfied and I think most everyone is. Scald burn clause? We have Freeze clause...

    Unfortunately, this type of subject tends to be steeped in subjectivity, since many (potential) suspects are more subtle than the "it kills everything" requirement of old. For example, the statement that a team without Genesect in BW was worse than a team with one. Almost any good player active during that metagame will tell you that's how it was, and yet you cannot prove it. Whatever its ridiculous usage statistic was (~50% iirc), there's no irrefutable metric that you can point to. This near-inherent subjectivity is especially troublesome when this debate's purpose is to find objective criteria.

    To my knowledge, it's just about impossible to nail this sort of thing down to a science, and thus we tend to run into issues about how unhealthy something must be for action to be taken against it. Good players often have a strong sense of intuition which they tend to use when attempting to outsmart an opponent, and this usually extends to knowing what is and isn't good for the metagame. There tends to be a sense of "I'll know it when I see it" when it comes to what's broken. We didn't need a thesis to realize that Greninja's combination of blazing speed, great power and unmatched coverage was bad for the metagame; there's a reason everyone decried Aegislash. In my opinion, it's up to those who actively play the game the most, at the highest level and who possess the ability to rationally apply the theory of what's in a healthy metagame to potential suspects to decide.

    I will now attempt to illustrate my belief of outside factors having undesirable effects on determining the winner of any given battle with examples from my experiences.

    In current ORAS OU, I don't believe any single Pokemon is broken, and that matchup due to being unable to cover the staggering amount of threats is greatly exaggerated. However, that is not to say matchup doesn't exist and hasn't always existed, or that there isn't a large amount of strong Pokemon to prepare for, but I don't think these complaints are valid because there are too many threats, or the threats themselves; it's my belief that there are a few key pieces that make the task of covering the metagame daunting indeed, and playing against these powerful Pokemon in conjunction with these easy-to-use, highly influential and extremely common techniques can feel extremely overwhelming at times. I'm referring to Stealth Rock, Scald and Shadow Tag (I do believe it deserves a suspect; although it certainly doesn't have the ubiquity of the former two, its influence on teambuilding is felt by anyone who tries to prepare for the common Goth stall teams at the top of the ladder).

    This topic isn't for concrete examples of why any one element is overpowered, although I'd be happy to dish on why I think these two/three (especially SR) are the only real issues in the current metagame. Instead, I'll try to use the... base theory, let's say, of what makes them undesirable, and how they can be used so we can arrive at a definition.

    If something is so good that it has a ridiculous amount of usage or makes a team inferior without it (also known as the "too good not to use" argument), I think it is fair to say it warrants being looked at. What makes an amount of usage "ridiculous" is up to us but we have some stuff to go off of. Stealth Rock is obviously the poster child for the former point with its usage rate equivalent to or greater than GSC Snorlax for three generations now, but this can also be extended to, say, uber players' concerns about Primal Groudon. The Genesect example from the top of this post can be taken as one for the latter. This isn't to say it needs to be banned - many credible sources say GSC is a better metagame with Snorlax as the undisputed #1, necessary for the best team possible - but it definitely deserves attention, in my opinion. The reasoning for this isn't merely "everyone use? ban", people will always use the best things available etc. However, it must be determined whether its effect is more negative than positive. A good example is BW Keldeo. It was (and still is way up there as one of) the best Pokemon in the tier, so we decided to see if the tier was better off without it. It wasn't, and Keldeo stayed, similarly to how Mega Metagross' suspect test didn't result in the banhammer. I also believe SR contributes a great deal to ORAS' "matchup" issues but Shadow Tag is the poster child for that.

    Scald falls under the umbrella of determing just how much luck we're deciding to let loose in our metagame; there's really nothing else like it (cue stupid Lava Plume comparison). We decided use of Evasion and OHKO moves turned games into too much luck, despite how they could horribly backfire since they were a complete waste if they didn't pan out. Scald's secondary effect isn't nearly as drastic as these moves, but its risklessness and how horribly crippling it is (off of luck!) in addition to already being a powerful move is clear.

    Gothitelle stall's effect on the metagame is one of matchup. ABR's post is good, it got most of my thoughts across. It can also apply to techniques such as Baton Pass and Aegislash, if you think it might just be about Goth/STag. Just to expand on some things in case they're taken the wrong way; any team can still subjectively "thrive" in a metagame with an unhealthy/uncompetitive element (i.e. "I never bothered to prepare for ___ and I always beat it" - while this sort of experienced opinion is good to have, it's also often a copout for how detrimental something can be). However, if a threat is causing a severe influx of matchup wins/losses and the adaptation necessary is too much, it deserves to be looked at. "Just adapt" can be used for sure but it's often a copout - however, how can you objectively determine that Focus Blast-less Mega Gardevoir is a sign of how centralizing Goth stall is, why is it bad that it can no longer touch some of its best checks? In my opinion, if it's only being run because of one extremely powerful set/pokemon/strategy/whatever, that's a warning sign.

    In short, if an element of the metagame is consistently (this word is necessary so a game won off a Scald burn isn't compared to a game won off an Ice Beam freeze) taking away player interaction in determining the winner of a battle, it should at the very least be looked at.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2015
  11. AM

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    Team matchup factor is a very iffy criteria when team matchup most times is either, due to a high threat level in terms of quantity, or in the case of a potential suspect, the quality of said threat. This in most cases in my eyes at least rarely hit a criteria of being uncompetitive more so it's questioning whether or not it's broken from a power perspective, either offensively and or defensively speaking.

    I'm only saying this right now because I don't think the implication of team matchup in whatever light that is brought up was ever something I would go out of my way and say "this is an uncompetitive element." This brings up the point of Gothitelle where the issue wasn't really the Pokemon itself, but the characteristic of its ability Shadow Tag to remove choice to a much higher degree.

    Freedom of choice can't exactly be measured, but it's to me one of the tipping points when I try to define the term uncompetitive. No this isn't saying open pandoras box and give me every single option available. It's stating that I have the ability to make sound teams for a high level environment where my choices are based on elements in my control or basing moves on the opposing players choices. My choices should be based on player interaction, but most importantly player interaction where the flow of interaction is consistent.

    As stated above though a lot of it is really intuition, derived from player and battling interaction over a duration of time. The necessity to experience that environment first hand with a variety of playstyles to understand how each can react and whether or not the level of competition can be considered equal footing amongst these different arch-types is what's important when measuring somethings competitive value.
  12. Harsha

    Harsha Rest In Beats
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    I cannot read all of this thread for another few days but I at least want to get my thoughts down somewhere before the topic changes. I am posting from my phone so please disregard any errors this might cause.

    I do not think "broken" or "over-centralizing" have anything to do with "competitiveness" or "uncompetitiveness," so I will give each topic its own section.

    I think most will agree that broken simply means that a Pokemon/strategy/item is too strong to deal with in a reasonable way. The tolerance for what is reasonable will vary, though. Some consider having to dedicate two slots on every team to cover one Pokemon unreasonable, while others will consider adding a Shed Shell to a Pokemon as opposed to Leftovers is unreasonable. At the end of the day, the tolerance will always be incredibly subjective.

    "Over-centralizing" is also super subjective, but at least "centralizing" means that there is a core group/core Pokemon that the metagame revolves around. It's incredibly rare that a metagame revolves around a singular Pokemon unless it's broken, so I think we can toss out the singular definition and stand by the group of Pokemon.

    I've always found it stupid that people will call "over-centralizing" bad. In my opinion, a good metagame will have a few strong centralizing forces, whether they are Garchomp + Latios or Heatran + Tyranitar. While people call for diversity, I find that having a group of Pokemon you should be reasonably expected to prepare for (50ish?) is much better than a metagame where you have to prepare for 150 threats. There is no evidence for this, but my basis lies in that we can only cover so many things with 6 slots, 24 moves, and a few other teambuilding decisions. Some may confuse what I said with a "ban happy" mentality, but the above may also be accomplished with less bans. If a group of super strong Pokemon were at large, those underneath would by be optimal teambuilding choices, and the available pool of Pokemon shrinks (not through bans, but through the development of a metagame).

    "Over-centralization" can be a symptom of "brokenness," but it certainly is not the cause. If a Pokemon is broken, that is because it is too strong, not because it is over-centralizing.

    ---

    No definition of "competitive" or "uncompetitive" will be 100% correct and applicable in every situation with regards to policy. We can try and hammer out a framework, and I assume the purpose of this thread is to sift through and find the "best" definition to use while going forward? I might be wrong though, so please correct me if that is not the case.

    I don't think competition has anything to do with the sudden arousal of freedom of choice, but it simply means that the person who builds/plays better will win. Given that at its core, Pokemon has luck-based elements (rolls, status%, critical hits, etc), you won't have a truly "competitive" game, but if you take a sample size of many battles (think long tournaments or ladder runs), the better players will have the higher win%.

    This definition has nothing to do with any suspect tests unless a factor is simply luck-based (which Moody was, and which many find Scald to be)...which explains why I got mad when people called Shadow Tag uncompetitive. Sure, the ability limits your choices, but at the end of the day, you CHOSE to either not use Shadow Tag or to make a team weak to Shadow Tag. A lot of people will hate me for saying that, but look at how many responded to that thread: give the metagame more time to settle. If Shadow Tag is broken after people adapt, then we should ban it. However, it does not come under the moniker of "uncompetitive" because there is nonluck counterplay (and I'm using counterplay as a general word, so please do not get into the semantics of how counterplay only refers to in-game choices. I'm just saying you can make choices that will make Shadow Tag a nonissue, and that it is not a luck-based mechanic unless you just consider running into Gothitelle bad luck).

    Hopefully my jumbled thoughts and stupid amounts of quotation marks mean something to you guys. I'll just leave it at that because I'm too tired to articulate further.
  13. Tesung

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    I'm not going to write an essay about this, because its pokemon and this is all somewhat subjective anyways

    What is competitive to me, and what the we should try to make the metagame be are mostly two things.

    One is a high skill gap. People who have more experience, but more importantly than experience (because experience caps out) have more hard work (team building) and talent (prediction and game theory skill/teambuilding skill) should be significantly more successful in both ladder and tournaments. This, to give a concrete example, is the reason for banning things like mega-kanga or mega-luke. Something this powerful in the meta causes a player with average skill and building to be competitive and have a good chance against a much more skilled player, and that is problematic

    The other, and this is similar but different is individual games being more based on skill than luck. Luck is inevitable in pokemon, and part ofwhat makes it fun and not chess. However, there is some point where it is too much, like with swagger. Most importantly, choosing your own luck factors should be important. By this I mean, by using focus blast, you take the risk upon yourself of having bad luck. The reason swagger was broken, and a strong argument could me made for scald is that your opponent forces you to endure luck.

    SO my philosophy in regards to what is competitive and uncompetitive is that something is uncompetitive if it lessens the skill gap by a degree too significant or increases the luck factor significantly in a way an opponent can force. Usage, centrilization, or viability aren't the key parts of this, although they are related. WHat matters is what will make the meta be as much based on skill as possible.

    We are spending a lot of time playing a children's game. Lets do what we can to make it skill-based
  14. shrang

    shrang Man I'm pretty
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    I know this is from my old thread, but I really can't put it any more succinctly than I have done in that thread, but I'll elaborate on it slightly as well. Please don't delete this just because I've done that.

    A competitive metagame is:
    1) Fair: One player can do to the opponent what the opponent can do in return to them
    2) Not one which has the means to subvert given rules of the game OR change the mechanics in which the game is played
    3) One that must have a clear winner and loser

    An uncompetitive game element, therefore, must subvert any one of the above. This is done via taking away autonomy (ie control of the game's mechanics) to the extent which:
    - The control removed must violate one of the above AND (Logically, since you're violating what is a competitive metagame, therefore making it uncompetitive)
    - The amount of control removed must have a direct and causative effect on the outcome of the game (No use banning something that doesn't do anything relevant to the game, but you can't blame external factors for something that you're trying to place blame onto) AND
    - The element in question must have contributed most to the victory (or loss) (Extension of the above point) AND
    - The element in question cannot be prepared for with any tools used in Pokemon battling, including teambuilding. (This is important, because anything can be made broken/uncompetitive if you've made a bad team - that's your own problem. If it's something that makes teambuilding either ridiculously difficult or impossible, that can be either unbalanced or uncompetitive, which you need to distinguish from the other)

    This is done by:
    - Both players must have control removed (ie RNG-based bans), OR:
    - If one player has control removed, the way that it is decided who has control removed is through the RNG (reciprocity principle, point number 1) OR through any means that violate point numbers (2) and (3) of the above.
    (Feel free to add more to this list and argue why, but these are the conditions in which "control" is removed.)

    This is what I believe to be "uncompetitive". Of course, we don't only ban because of the above. Things that are overcentralising, overpowered and what-not are a different category altogether. If you say something is too strong, it could be perfectly competitive, but still bannable because it's unbalanced. This is something that needs to be distinguished.
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  15. Minority

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    A competitive game is best defined as a contest of decision-making that has a noticeable disparity between players of unequal knowledge and/or skill. The more noticeable the disparity, the higher the competitive edge and more likely the superior player is to win. Chess and most fighters are examples of games that have high competitive edge. Euro games like TTR and Catan (and it could be argued Pokemon) have a more moderate competitive edge. Games like Poker meanwhile have a low competitive edge.

    In general, the lower the competitive edge the more games have to be played in regards to a competitive setting. This is because a larger sample size of games is required to overcome short-run random factors as to allow superior players to distance themselves from the rest of competition. Poker is the most obvious example of this. Due to the nature of the game, Pokemon in a tournament setting will never realistically play as many games as low competitive edge games. This leaves the line of acceptable competitive edge to be drawn based on the fact that Pokemon is often played in best of threes.

    The basis for defining uncompetitive elements should correspond to this mindset; that 3 games should be enough to determine who the better player is a supermajority of the time. Elements that are not "play to win" or are directly linked to preventing the above case from occurring can be described as uncompetitive. Different tiers may disagree as to how much competitive edge should be preserved but the basis of the definition is still the same.
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  16. WECAMEASROMANS

    WECAMEASROMANS im not racist i hate everyone equally
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    ill start this post off by saying an introduction most ppl who have posting privileges in PR should know already

    pokemon isnt chess; there are simply numerous factors that makes pokemon not a 100% skill based game. instances of "hax" occurs every battle and so luck is a considerable underlying factor in the game of pokemon

    pokemon can be more adequately compared to the game of poker, where every hand is significantly influenced by luck but overall consistency in the long run and success in terms of the money you win is largely based on your skill and experience. this is analogous to pokemon: every individual battle can be largely dependent on luck (but this luck is still considerably less than any single hand of poker lol), but being overall consistent in the game requires much more than luck, it places more emphasis on your skill and experience

    this makes any individual pokemon match seemingly meaningless (especially on ladder!) since there are a wide range of external factors that could have changed the final battle result. however, smogon has done a fine job in making pokemon as skill based as possible. just look at any official tour or the ladder: its nearly always the same group of people performing spectacular in tours or the same select people at the top of the ladder, so observable evidence strongly suggests better players are overall much more consistent and successful than players lacking the same skill or experience

    better players being rewarded the majority of the time is a positive trait and its why we as a community consider pokemon to be a "competitive" game. past experiences of "uncompetitive" aspects led us to eliminate these aspects from the game via banning. ill list some examples:

    1. we banned OHKO moves because that places 0 emphasis on skill: theres a 30% chance you land the move and therefore get a kill, so its entirely luck based.
    the above also applies to a whole variety of clauses such as evasion, moody, swagger; they're all 100% dependent on luck.

    2. endless battle clause: this should be clear as to why its deemed uncompetitive. this makes the game result not influenced by skill but by other external factors that should supposedly be irrelevant (more free time, better internet connection, etc).

    3. super recently ago we created the baton pass clause as the whole BP strategy was deemed not competitive in nature due to it largely in a way removing player skill from the game and places the final result of the game in the hands of the player who simply has better team match up. games were won & lost right from the start and the in battle choices each player made didnt even matter the majority of the time

    so even though all of the above aspects were eliminated from the game we still dont have a textbook definition of what the term uncompetitive means. yet we do know that every single aspect listed above still falls into the category "uncompetitive" one way or another. i'd like to take a swing and provide my own personal definition so it can be looked at or expanded on.

    Uncompetitive elements of the game remove or significantly decrease the amount of choices a player can make and dramatically shifts the game away from skill towards other external factors.

    "dramatically shifts the game away from skill" is incredibly important here, because if you simply say "uncompetitive elements shift the game away from skill" then nearly everything with a secondary affect can be labeled as uncompetitive. also, "dramatically" is a broad term which allows us flexibility regarding just how much of external factors (such as luck) we're willing to accept and when to draw the line. future suspect tests based on the "uncompetitiveness" of something will have the purpose of figuring out whether or not this pokemon/move/ability/item crosses the line.

    in my opinion, this is a concrete definition of the term we label as uncompetitive and can illustrate why many previous banned aspects from the game fall into this category. lets take a look:

    1. this definition states why swagger is uncompetitive because it shifts the game away from skill into a bunch of 50/50 coinflips
    2. *insert any other luck based strategy here such as evasion* because it shifts the game away from skill purely into luck
    3. speed boosts in addition to a boost in any other stat in conjunction with baton pass is uncompetitive because it shifts the game away from skill to just a rock-papers-scissors game in team preview

    This is why many people (including myself) find shadow tag to be an uncompetitive aspect of OU. it removes or significantly decreases the amount of choices a player can make because it makes the very aspect of switching for possible counterplay null. it pulls the game away from skill and places an unhealthy emphasis on team matchup where defensive teams are placed in a strongly unfavorable situation because defensive/support pokemon get trapped and there virtually is no way to prevent this at all.

    this obviously isnt meant to be a shadow tag discussion thread but i just wanted to post my personal definition of the term uncompetitive and explain, if you will, how this can apply to the ability shadow tag.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  17. Vinc2612

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    An uncompetitive strategy is, in my opinion, a strategy that asks for a way-too-specific check. Way-too-specific means either "there is only one or two checks and I'll auto-lose if I don't use it" or "the check is so specific that I'd rather have something else in pretty much any other scenario, inevitably leading to other loopholes in the build".

    So here are two examples to show what I mean:
    1/ Heart Swap Manaphy is so good against full BP. It steals the boosts through the substitute!! But in 99% of the other scenarios, I'd rather have Tail Glow. This BP check is too specific to have any value in a save-BP thread.
    2/ Kyogre is cold stopped by Gastrodon. Gastrodon is usable in OverUsed. It brings a counter to any electric type, Talonflame, non-SolarBeam Heatran, Weavile, Gengar... But if I don't have Gastrodon, I auto-lose against Kyogre. Kyogre is thus uncompetitive in the OverUsed environment, because I don't want to put Gastrodon in every single team I build.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  18. M Dragon

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    What is "uncompetitive"? Thats a very hard thing to say in a game where luck is a big factor (there are a lot of 10%, 30%, even some 60%, moves may miss, ch chance...)
    There are 2 completely different cases:

    a) Luck. Luck is a huge part in pokemon.
    Powerful moves will usually be more inaccurate, some moves have a secondary effect that can change the outcome of a game and even some weaker moves have a greater chance of that secondary effect activating (for example Hydro Pump is powerful but can miss, which can cost games, while Scald is much less powerful and will miss a lot of ohkos and 2hkos, but it has a 30% chance of burning; and Surf is a more balanced option that will not miss and is more powerful option than Scald but will also have no secondary effect. That makes the player choose what they prefer when team building: a powerful but unreliable move, or a reliable move that is less poweful (there are a ton of examples of this: Air Slash vs Hurricane, Fire Blast vs FT vs Lava Plume, etc). That adds luck to the game, but I dont think thats uncometitive at all. In fact it adds more options to the game, and I think that is a good thing. You can "control" this kind of luck in the team builder (with some exceptions such as Focus Blast).

    I will not say anything about CHs or FPs because they are a game mechanic, and changing game mechanics would be a terrible idea.

    Secondary effects can be annoying and can easily cost a game. A rock slide / waterfall / iron head flinch can be enough for a pokemon to sweep, a scald / lava plume / flamethrower / fire blast burn can cripple a sweeper or a wall, etc. However, when can we say that a move with a secondary effect is "uncompetitive"? Nobody likes losing a game because a 30% flinch, or because a 10% / 30% burn or paralysis or freeze, and it is definitely not ideal, and we cannot ban every move with secondary effects or change the game mechanics to remove those secondary effects. However we have tools to deal with those secondary effects, and there is also skill in luck management (for example, there is a 10% chance of thund's t-bolt paralyzing a scarftar, so a good player could try to minimize the risks trying to avoid switching in scarftar directly if he needs scarftar to trap / kill that thund). In my opinion, a secondary effect is uncompetitive when the reward is too big (for example a 30% of auto killing a mon). I also made a post in Scald thread about secondary effects and luck.

    And finally there are some moves and abilities that turn the game into a luckfest, such as Double Team (the game is a "lets see who can hit who"), or Moody or Swagplay that are uncompetitive because they make the game luck based, so the luckier player wins.

    To sum it up, luck is huge, but you usually have usually tools to control or reduce its effect through luck management or team building. Yes, sometimes a worse player will win because of luck (for example, an Iron Head Flinch that allows a Bisharp to sweep or a CH vs its counter), but I would not call that uncompetitive. However, when a move or an ability turns the game into a luck fest where the skill is no longer important since you can do nothing other than hope that you get lucky (for example scarf sheer cold killing all 6 mons in a row is definitely uncompetitive because the player can literally do nothing and it depends only on luck, or something like Double Team Chansey, a mon that is nearly impossible to kill and that relies only on luck).



    b) An overpowered pokemon / attack / ability that dominates the game. Ok, so what do I mean with this? When can we consider an "overpowered pokemon" uncompetitive? come on in ORAS there are a ton of huge threats that could be considered as "overpowered" and therefore uncompetitive?
    Again, I would only consider an overpowered pokemon / attack / ability overpowered in extreme cases where they completely dominate the game. Some examples:
    Sleep moves and Sleep Clause. If we had no sleep clause sleep would easily be overpowered, and metagame would be completely dominated by fast sleepers trying to sleep the opponent moves because they could move. So that means metagame would be basically: fast sleepers, sleep talkers and toxic orb / flame orb or magic bounce mons to prevent sleep. Slow mons would be completely unviable, limiting the number of options. That metagame would be a good example of uncompetitive, because there is a strat (fast sleep) that can make a lot of mons useless, with games a lot of the times decided by 50/50.

    Mega Lucario, Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Salamence. I dont think anybody had any doubt with those and how they completely dominated the metagame. The metagame was around supporting those megas and they were nearly unstoppable threats and games were decided by speed ties or the mega that managed to sweep first (that even happens in ubers in mega salamence case). That is clearly uncompetitive.

    Deoxys-S. This is a good example of a mon that was far from being a threat offensively, but it completely dominated the metagame with its support sets, even to the point that in a ton of games, the winner of the first speed tie between the Deo-S had a massive advantage in the game. Deoxys-S is a mon that can easily make other mons sweep, either with Screens or with Hazards support. I would say that a metagame like that where a ton of games were decided by the speed tie is uncompetitive as well.

    BP chains. It made other playstyles nearly useless unless you had very specific things that wouldnt work vs anything else. That is uncompetitive too.

    Shadow Tag???? Some people consider Shadow Tag to be uncompetitive as well, because being able to trap and kill nearly any pokemon, allowing other mons to have a much easier time at sweeping, since the Shadow Tag mon will have either killed the counter (example Gothi kills Quag / Slowbro / Alomo allowing zard x to destroy a stall team) or given a free turn (example Wobb using encore and then going to a set upper for a free turn), which makes both Gothi and Wobb amazing support mons, that allows other mons to easily sweep (something similar than Deo-S, although the support they give is completely different)


    Note that broken does not mean uncompetitive, they are 2 completely different things. For example, Manaphy and Hoopa-U might be broken, but they are clearly not uncompetitive, in the same way that Landorus was voted Uber because voters thought it was broken, but I dont think anybody thought it was uncompetitive.


    So to sum it up: something that dominates the game and can easily sweep a huge part of the metagame with little effort (Im talking about things like Mega Mence etc, things like Manaphy are a huge offensive threats but cant easily sweep a huge part of the metagame with little effort and does not dominate the game), or something that allows other mons to easily sweep a huge part of the metagame with little effort (Deo-S is a good example, maybe Shadow Tag), or something that can easily wall a huge part of the metagame, making a lot of styles useless (I cant remember any good example of this in OU), or just something that limits a lot of the viable options or forces the player to use very specific things is in my opinion uncompetitive



    so... what would I say that is uncompetitive?
    a) Something that adds a lot of luck to the game, to the point where skill is nearly irrelevant (examples: double team, ohko moves, moody, swagplay). It us uncompetitive because it removes skill from the game and makes it luck based.
    b) Something that dominates the game that limits a lot the viable options and/or forces you to use very specific things (examples: sleep without sleep clause, BP chains). It is uncompetitive because games are decided by team matchup or who manages to execute the dominating strat first.
    c) Something that dominates the game and can easily sweep a huge part of the metagame with little effort that has very few viable answers OR something that makes other mons easily sweep with its support (examples: threats like Mega Mence or support mons like Deo-D). It is uncompetitive because it turns the game into a "lets see who can sweep earlier" or "lets see who wins the speed tie between the Deo-S". It basically removes or minimizes the skill and makes team matchup even bigger.

    In all these 3 cases, skill becomes much less important.

    Note that these are extreme cases.
  19. ABR

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    I agree that the scenario you describe is undesired, but it sounds more like a depiction of something that is broken, overcentralizing, or just unhealthy for the metagame. Something that is "uncompetitive" should probably be along the lines of luck-based or unskillful. Sort of like other people have been saying, swagplay is uncompetitive. Something like Kyogre would be broken/overcentralizing if it demanded a sole check. It could also just be that your idea of uncompetitive includes aspects of a broken, unhealthy, or overcentralized metagame.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  20. Kristoph

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    It's confusing to refer to something "uncompetitive" as merely something that is "luck-based." Why not just call the thing "luck-based," then?

    There are lots of luck-based games, like poker, that are considered extremely competitive by their communities.

    edit: largely responding to ABR's post here!
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  21. Harsha

    Harsha Rest In Beats
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    By saying that you ignore what people who make this comparison stated. Please re-read those posts.

    To clarify: in poker, on average the better player will win more games. The better player might not win 1 specific game, but over the course of 100 games, they will win more than a worse player.

    Words can have synonyms. They can mean the same thing.

    edit: fair enough; assumed you were responding the posts that brought up poker
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  22. Reymedy

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    I will try to be brief, since I don't have great expectations about my ability to make essays on words belonging to a foreign language.

    There are mainly three words that I use, with three different meaning respectively, when talking about what to suspect/ban.

    A) Uncompetitive:
    Everything solely meant to take away interraction between players during games.
    This includes Luck based events such as OHKO moves, and fully auto-pilot strategies such as Baton Pass chains. When you keep boosting your evasion with Double Team, you're pretty much taking the game away from the hands of both players. That's what I have in mind with uncompetitiveness
    It generates controversy about moves with "some luck" such as Scald, and some strategies involving abilities like Shadow Tag because they can apply that effect on games. But something uncompetitive must have NOTHING ELSE TO IT, besides its uncompetitiveness (M Dragon explains that well in his post). So IMO, Scald can't be called uncompetitive (you can say at best that it has a bit of uncompetitiveness in it), but you can try to argue for it to be Broken or Unhealthy.

    B) Broken:
    Something significantly better than the other components of a metagame.
    As I implied, this can include moves or abilities, or combinations of ablities and whatnot. It is pretty straight forward but the important notion here is that something is broken RELATIVE TO a metagame. You can't just say "this is broken because it has 1000BST", you need to say "this is broken because it has 1000BST while everything else has 600BST", for instance.

    C) Unhealthy:
    Something neither outright uncompetitive nor broken enough to be stamped as such, but applying an undesirable influence on a given metagame.
    If you want an example, Drought+Chlorophyl was one. It was not outright broken (but infiniteweather+speedboosting ability is something that you can say is close to broken in BW) and it was not outright uncompetitive (but the trapping nature of Sun teams was something causing at times uncompetitive situations, you can see my post about that). So the council made a judgement call and decided to suspect to see IF the metagame would be more desirable without it. These choices will ALWAYS be very controversial, because the reasoning is more complex and situational since it is about fine-tuning a metagame that came to maturity.

    The order is meaningful. In my opinion the tiering policy should first focus on getting rid of uncompetitive factors, then on banning out broken things, and then, finally fine-tune by taking away as many unhealthy things as possible in an attempt to create the most desirable environment.
    It goes from the easiest, to the toughest choices. Something uncompetitive is easy to spot usually. It does not take a genius to realise that Evasion takes away competitiveness from our games in some scenarios, and should be removed. And besides some religious-like arguments such as "but you should not change the game too much from the cartridge options Zarathustra!!", no one usually really wants to defend uncompetitive strategies (because there is simply no reason to keep Double Team for instance).
    You can argue that something is broken based on more or less precise criterias relative to a metagame. I mean, even in Uber something can be broken. You can definitely point out something broken and say with an objective reasoning "This is broken because Stats/Movepool/Typing/Ability...". Obviously, there are various degrees of brokeness, so the situation of something slightly broken like Metagross-M can evolve as the metagame shifts.

    Finally, something unhealthy is purely dependent on a metagame's state of maturation. This is why you have to take away everything that is uncompetitive or broken first.
    Once that everything objectively hazardous is gone, you can start to analyze trends within the metagame.
    It is needed to make a statement of the metagame at some point and say "Okay, this is the metagame, now can we improve it, if yes, how?".
    I will take as example the current state of ORAS, because I think that nothing is outright broken or uncompetitive right now to the point where no policy judgement call would be needed. There are a ton of things on the verge of being broken. I mean, who can take a look at Hoopa-Unbound stats or movepool and say "yea, looks like OU to me". But, the metagame is seemingly able to withstand it for now.

    How to make a metagame healthier IMO (putting hide tags because I take concrete examples, but I don't really want them to make the thread drift away)

    Show Hide

    The issue (and that's my opinion as player and especially as builder), is that there are too many things in this situation (ie: on the verge) right now, which applies an unhealthy pressure on building. This is my statement on the metagame.

    Now I want to take a look at what creates this pressure :

    • Obviously the sheer amount of threats. I'm gonna take a simple example : Talonflame, just to deal with every single set it can actually run, you need one of the 2/3 Pokémons (with a precise set) able to beat them all at once, or you need a combination of Pokémons. There are a lot of "Talonflames" in our metagame to say the least, but only 6 Pokémons with 4 moves each in my team.
    • If I were to lower this unhealthy pressure, I would probably look at what could be taken away first.
    • Let's analyze Gothitelle Stall for instance.
    1. It is not really "broken", and it is not outright "uncompetitive" either. But, you can definitely say that it's pretty strong, and very auto-pilot.
    2. Thus, interractions during the games are very low (verge of uncompetitiveness) which, akin to BP, instantly filters the teams having an answer, to the teams without one. How many Gothitelle games have been over turn 1 with one of the players forfeiting because "yea, I don't have anything to break it", "fuck, another Manaphy Shed Shell with Tyranitar, bye"? You never see it with other archetypes (and you can make all the abstract counter-arguments you want, it does not change that statement).
    3. Very few real answers.
    4. Anti-metagame playstyle, a low % of usage in the first place (before the hype).
    5. The ratio (pressure on building)/(% of usage) is thus HUGE. The highest out of all the "threats" of OU. Quote me on that if you want, I dare you to find something more anti-metagame than Gothitelle+Stall with a higher pressure on building (by pressure, I'm talking about the options available when building).

    Now, do we want our metagame to shift around Gothitelle+Stall, how much time do we wait to see if it's worth the suspect, how much pressure can we allow (the more pressure, the more match-up based the metagame will be, and to the people saying that Gothitelle+Stall is new or some nonsense like that, I'd just reply that the matchup issue QQ is as old as BW, probably because that's a metagame where the pressure on building has started to become too huge), is it desirable to create a metagame shifting every 2 months according to which anti-metagame archetype emerges superior etc. ? These are all questions that will require a judgement call from the council. It is not really possible in my opinion to create a purely-objective line of conduct here, it's gonna be about some people making some choices.


    edit: failed to be brief, nvm
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2015
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  23. Arcticblast

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    Reymedy I don't think your definition of broken is specific enough; perhaps more fitting would be:

    Something significantly better than other components of the metagame that forces you to either use the Pokemon itself or pack multiple specific answers to it to succeed in the metagame.

    This marks stuff like OU Mega Kangaskhan as pretty clearly broken while clearing Pokemon such as OU Mega Metagross (or Doubles Landorus-T) that, while good, can be answered with little to no extra effort. I'm not totally sure how accurate that definition really is (and I'm not too satisfied with it) but your original definition gives off an uncomfortable "ban the next best thing" vibe, so I thought it would be best to really clarify it.

    EDIT: I forgot this thread was mostly about uncompetitiveness; for the sake of the thread I won't answer if you or someone else responds since I'm not talking directly about the subject matter, although the discussion can be taken elsewhere
  24. Aldaron

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    Just as quick update:

    I'm planning on leaving this open as an open-ended thread for about a day or two more (figure should allow at least 72-120 hours (3-5 days) for people to see and formulate a response).

    After that, I'll talk with the OU Council and TDs and we'll start honing on specific components to hash out, and we'll focus conversation in this thread (or another) to those specific components.
  25. Aldaron

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    Since there haven't been responses since Friday evening, I'll start a conversation with the OU Council today and we'll start honing in on how the conversation for competitive should be framed moving forward.

    I'll post the general ideas here and we can start talking about it as necessary.
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