GSC Sleep Trap

M Dragon

The north wind
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#1
Sleep trapping has always been one of the most controversial strategies since the first days of competitive GSC.
Misdreavus with Mean Look + Hypnosis + Perish Song was banned by the GSC playerbase more than 10 years ago because of how uncompetitive the strategy was.

So... why are we considering changing it now and making it a Sleep Trap ban instead of the classic Sleep Perish Trap ban?

Recently, sleep has been fixed in PS and it now lasts much longer that it used to, which makes Sleep Trapping even worse than what it used to be, and takes the game out of the player's hands, making luck a much more important factor.

There are 2 main Sleep Trappers, Misdreavus and Smeargle:

Misdreavus @ Leftovers
- Mean Look
- Hypnosis
- Curse
- Pain Split

Misdreavus is always a very annoying Pokemon to deal with, because you never know what its gonna do, if it's gonna steal your leftovers, or if it's gonna perish trap you, or if it's gonna sleep trap you.
If you guess wrong and send your roarer vs a Sleep Trapper, depending on your luck with the sleep turns, it could get significantly weakened or even outright faint.
On the other hand, If you think it is the sleep trapper and you send your sleep talker and the Misdreavus is the perish trapper, your sleep talker will probably faint.
The existence of the Sleep Trapper set can convert games into luck based games that are decided by hypnosis accuracy and sleep duration.


Smeargle @ MiracleBerry / Leftovers
- Spider Web
- Spore
- Baton Pass
- Agility / Substitute / Protect / Recover


Smeargle can trap any pokemon, sleep them to prevent the possible roar, and BP to another pokemon that can either KO it or set up on it, or it could BP a boost to another pokemon. Sleep Trap Smeargle is a very deadly and uncompetitive Pokemon, especially with screens support.

Sleep trapping is neither broken or reliable, but it is an uncompetitive strategy that takes the game out of the player's hands, making the outcome of the game significantly more luck based, especially after the sleep duration bug was fixed in PS.


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This is a discussion thread about GSC Sleep Trap that will be followed by a community vote
 

Sapientia

DER ERSTE TIGHTE WEI$$E
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#3
I asked jira for his opinion on the matter. He's an encyclopedia of GSC knowledge!

I think Smeargle's Sleep Trap Baton Pass is a rather obscure niche strategy, that tends to fail most of the time, especially given the current metagame.

This is the general outline for a very old and very outdated team archetype:
You usually play along as if you were using a generic team without revealing Smeargle, try to scout your opponent's team and wait for opportunities to set up the Screens and send in Smeargle unharmed to trap and sleep something. If you suspect Roar/Whirlwind/Haze/Growth, Baton Pass to a Pokemon that kills them off in few hits and repeat. If the trapped Pokemon does not have either of these moves, Baton Pass to Umbreon, Curse up, remove their PP with Charm and Rest and continue Baton Passing to Snorlax.

While this may sound nice in theory, the team's effectiveness is severely impaired by faster Sleep inducers and Explosions, multiple Roar/Whirlwind users, offensive teams that tend to steal your momentum and even random early awakenings.


Zapdos @ Leftovers / Magnet
- Light Screen
- Reflect
- Thunderbolt / Thunder
- Rest
Thunderbolt has a mere 43.6% chance to KO Skarmory, whereas Thunder has 70% at the cost of more unwanted Paralysis. (A paralyzed Raikou will easily dismantle any offense this team has to offer.) Magnet Thunderbolt kills Skarmory 97.4% of the time, but greatly diminishes Zapdos' overall usefulness.


Smeargle (F) @ Miracle Berry / Leftovers
- Spider Web
- Spore
- Baton Pass
- Recover / Confuse Ray / Attract
I cannot even recall a single instance where I had actually used Recover sucessfully. Both Confuse Ray and Attract are emergency options, just in case you already had to use Spore without a previous Spider Web to stop a powerful attacker or faster Sleep inducer.


Umbreon (F) @ Leftovers
- Curse
- Charm
- Baton Pass
- Rest
You could possibly try Growth (alongside Growl, since it is incompatible with Charm) and a different receiver...


Snorlax (M) @ Leftovers / Mint Berry
- Lovely Kiss
- Double-Edge / Frustration
- Earthquake
- Rest
Mint Berry is one-time-use and diminishes Snorlax' survivability, but can prevent Sleep Moves and subsequent switches to Roar/Whirlwind/Haze users. Frustration misses out on some crucial KOs, which usually do not matter very much due to Lovely Kiss. Double-Edge can however prevent Sleep-baiting strategies from working. (Example: 999 Atk Snorlax kills something, your opponent sends in Suicune, but switches immediately while you Lovely Kiss the incoming Pokemon. The opponent sacrifices a random third Pokemon, then brings in his Suicune that cannot be put to sleep anymore and Roars out your precious Snorlax after narrowly surviving Frustration.)


Skarmory (M) @ Leftovers
- Whirlwind
- Rest
- Drill Peck
- Curse


Starmie @ Leftovers
- Rapid Spin
- Surf
- Psychic
- Recover

Both Skarmory and Starmie were added for overall team stability. Another option for the Screens is Meganium (Leech Seed/Light Screen/Reflect/Synthesis). Starmie can almost be replaced at will (Vaporeon, maybe?). Keep in mind you need some Pokemon to quick KO every common Roar/Whirlwind user (Skarmory, Tyranitar, Steelix, Raikou, ...), before they wake up!

Apart from Smeargle and Misdreavus, Gengar and Jynx also have access to Mean Look and Sleep-inducing moves. Has anyone had any success with Mean Look/Sleep Move/Nightmare/Substitute so far?

/

Gengar (M) / Jynx (F) @ Leftovers
- Mean Look
- Hypnosis / Lovely Kiss
- Nightmare
- Substitute

As far as I can judge, the closest thing to a competitively viable Sleep Trap strategy is Mean Look/Confuse Ray Umbreon Baton Passing to Nidoking or Exeggutor.
 
#4
First of all I think the example team that Sapientia/jira have given is a terrible representation of what SleepTrap actually looks like in the metagame. That team doesn't fail because SleepTrap is bad, it fails because it's a downright awful team with the only real avenue to victory being a complete lack of awareness on the opponent's part. Smeargle doesn't need screens to abuse SleepTrap, all it needs is to find a turn when the opponent is doing anything but attacking and it can begin to wreak complete havoc. (also worth noting that the team is probably from before sleep turns were "fixed", they're 1-5 now and it compounds the issue)

Smeargle really shines with SleepTrap because it can threaten everything at once. Say it comes in on a turn when you Rest, when you switch to a slower Pokemon, when you are burning a Rest turn, when you are using Curse/Growth, even if you accidentally phaze it in with your Steelix/Skarmory/Tyranitar you can be in big trouble. Basically whenever Smeargle is active against a Pokemon that is slower than it, which most teams have 3-5 of. If this Pokemon has a phazing move you put it to sleep and then use Spider Web, if they stay in they risk the phazer dying and if they don't have another phazer then the trapped switch-in is likely to die as well. If they send their Sleep Talker you Spider Web and then pass to whatever kills it. If they don't send a phazer or a sleep talker you trap it, sleep it and kill it, simple as that. Yes there are pokemon that can throw a wrench in this plan. For example, Roarkou can switch into a Spider Web and severely cripple Smeargle with Thunder, but if it goes to sleep it's still dead to the incoming Marowak. Anything with Encore would ruin this strat but it's scarcely seen in tournament play. Explosion users can be a pain but it's not hard to pair Smeargle with Gengar and then what's your Cloyster going to do? As soon as Smeargle gets to come in for free on a slower Pokemon, you are faced with a series of guessing games that will almost always end badly for you - and the worst part is that there's no way to see it coming, because it's easy to add 6th mon SleepTrap Smeargle to a myriad of otherwise normal teams and be safe from a defensive standpoint.

I think Misdreavus, Jynx, and Gengar are all problematic in their own right. I only chose to single out Smeargle above because it's the offender with the greatest potential to abuse this deadly combination. The other 3 don't have 100% accurate sleep and can't use Baton Pass, so they are somewhat relegated to playing a solo role, whereas Smeargle is a big team player and doesn't even need to sacrifice some of its HP bar to be a massive threat. And after Webs+BP+Spore you still have an extra moveset to take advantage of...I've tried Encore, Destiny Bond, Confuse Ray, Agility, Recover, and even Spikes, all to varying success. However, it's also important to consider the element of surprise. When a non-lead Smeargle is revealed, it's pretty clear that Spore/Webs/BP are incoming. When any of the other three are shown, SleepTrap is not the first set you'd suspect in most cases, especially with Jynx and Gengar who have both been tearing games up recently using their standard sets. This only adds to SleepTrap's potency since the answers you'd send would vary radically depending on whether you knew for sure it was the standard set or the SleepTrap variant, and once you've been trapped there's no way to undo that mistake. Sure, they still have to rely on low accuracy moves and pray for long sleep counters, but it feels terrible to lose against that stuff. I think the label of "uncompetitive" can be slapped on all 4 SleepTrap abusers, even if only Smeargle is nearing what qualifies as broken (which is hard to determine for GSC uniquely due to Snorlax).

Then there's the question of how to approach a clause change to a tier that's remained fairly constant for a decade. I could point you to Pokemon Online, who have had sleep trapping banned in GSC for as long as I can remember, and no one seems to mind their absence. However I know there's a fair amount of disdain for that community here, so taking the more straightforward approach, will GSC as a competitive metagame be significantly improved with the addition of a clause that bans sleep trapping? I've yet to hear anyone argue that sleep trapping adds to competitiveness, and I think that would be a nearly impossible case to make, challengers welcome. Moreover, if you've had to experienced these strats firsthand, or better yet, if you've tried them yourself, I think you'll agree that they feel thoroughly hit-or-miss, with the hit or miss in question usually deciding the outcome of the game. Does your Misdreavus/Jynx/Gengar land its initial sleep move and stall for enough turns to KO the opposing Pokemon with Nightmare/Curse damage, or does the enemy Pokemon dodge every sleep move or wake up early and kill your trapper? This question is one that's entirely dependent on RNG, has nothing to do with the skill of either player, and yet can make or break matches in a matter of just a few turns. From my perspective, that's not something we should tolerate in any gen, let alone GSC, which is often praised as the pinnacle of strategy in competitive Pokemon. SleepTrap only detracts from an otherwise rewarding metagame.
 

Mizuhime

Lets keep our secrets dirty
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#5
Keeping it short and sweet here, and reiterating a lot of what lavos has said.

Then there's the question of how to approach a clause change to a tier that's remained fairly constant for a decade. I could point you to Pokemon Online, who have had sleep trapping banned in GSC for as long as I can remember, and no one seems to mind their absence. However I know there's a fair amount of disdain for that community here, so taking the more straightforward approach, will GSC as a competitive metagame be significantly improved with the addition of a clause that bans sleep trapping? I've yet to hear anyone argue that sleep trapping adds to competitiveness, and I think that would be a nearly impossible case to make, challengers welcome. Moreover, if you've had to experienced these strats firsthand, or better yet, if you've tried them yourself, I think you'll agree that they feel thoroughly hit-or-miss, with the hit or miss in question usually deciding the outcome of the game. Does your Misdreavus/Jynx/Gengar land its initial sleep move and stall for enough turns to KO the opposing Pokemon with Nightmare/Curse damage, or does the enemy Pokemon dodge every sleep move or wake up early and kill your trapper? This question is one that's entirely dependent on RNG, has nothing to do with the skill of either player, and yet can make or break matches in a matter of just a few turns. From my perspective, that's not something we should tolerate in any gen, let alone GSC, which is often praised as the pinnacle of strategy in competitive Pokemon. SleepTrap only detracts from an otherwise rewarding metagame.
The goal of every tier should be the best version of itself, as Lavos has mentioned in his post here is that Pokemon Online has had this mechanic banned for quite some time and no one has had a problem with it, and I don't really see a problem with removing an essentially uncompetitive element from a meta for reasons other than the "tradition" reasoning that Smogon loves to throw around when touching older things. When Missy/Jynx/Gengar use a sleep moves it's reliant on RNG for not only it to hit but for the Pokemon to wake up in enough time to survive the nightmare/curse, we should be focusing on making the tier the best version it possibly can be, that involves removing unnecessary instances of RNG and uncompetitive strategies.

Simply put, if I were to somehow beat mdragon or earthworm because I got lucky with some sleeps and the RNG gods were looking down on me that day, it doesn't mean i'm the better player. The worse player shouldn't be winning in GSC because of some stupid luck that can be controlled.


Nothing more really needs to be said other than exactly what you did, "It takes the game out of the player's hands"

Shits broken yo
the easiest way to put it
 
#6
Sleep trap is a fairly interesting case in terms of tiering. Sleep perish trapping is clearly too strong for GSC and its ban is undeniably warranted. One only needs to look at the number of counters to Hypnosis/Mean Look/Perish Song Misdreavus behind Light Screen to understand why -- not only can you not phaze it like you can regular PTrap Misdreavus due to Sleep, you also can't simply explode on it to take it out before it can do any more serious damage. Sleep trap alone, on the other hand, does not come with the same brutal effectiveness.

Trapping alone is strong, but the absence of Taunt in GSC means that most teams can simply phaze the trapper before they can do any serious damage. Sleep trapping, on the other hand, prevents trapped phazers from countering them by putting them to sleep for 1-6 turns and then proceeding to KO them. In the event that a non-phazer is trapped and put to sleep, they can either be KOed while asleep if they are too threatening, or set-up on in an attempt to win the game through a sweep. The strategy would be very strong if more Pokemon were able to use it. Most of the Pokemon that are able to Sleep Trap suffer from having low stats and bad coverage with which to eliminate the Pokemon they trap. Misdreavus is not able to do enough damage using its Atk/SpAtk stats and must therefore resort to using Curse or Nightmare (even Night Shade is unavailable). This leaves it unable to handle powerful sleep talkers like Zapdos and Raikou, who are likely to outlast Light Screen and finish off Misdreavus with Sleep Talked Thunders. Jynx can't KO its counters quick enough with its 2 remaining moveslots post-LK and Mean Look, and suffers from very low defenses should the enemy Pokemon awaken. Switching in Smeargle at the wrong time can make it difficult to get an opportunity to pull off the Sleep Trap for the remainder of the game, due to its awful stats. However, what sets Smeargle apart from the others is its ability to Baton Pass, effectively eliminating the issue of having only 2 slots to beat the trapped sleeping Pokemon.

Using Smeargle is always very risky and so many top players choose to avoid using it in case they face a team which can readily handle it. However, I'm sure everyone on the council has lost against and/or won with a Smeargle Baton Pass team at some point in their GSC career, because although risky, it is far from weak. That said, it is highly debatable whether Sleep Trapping is even Smeargle's best strategy. Personally, I've had more success using regular Agility Spore Baton Pass, and although the trap move can go in the last slot, it's likely that trying to pull off both Agility and Spider Web will in fact net you a worse position than if you had just Baton Passed or used Agility (e.g. they will get to burn an extra sleep turn).

When I start a battle and see a Smeargle lead, my first thought is probably going to be something like "Oh God s/he brought Smeargle, I hope I don't embarrass myself by losing to a gimmick strategy" followed immediately by "this game will probably be decided quickly, I better think carefully". I imagine others have similar reactions. However, I don't strictly view this as a negative thing - I actually think having these gimmick strategies available enriches the gen. There is definitely a difference between a new GSCer trying to use Smeargle and Lavos Spawn, time conundrum, or Jorgen employing it. It does admittedly take you out of your comfort zone - I usually am hoping for a game where I can make a couple of mediocre decisions and still play my way back into the game when I play GSC - but I don't believe sleep trap is something that is banworthy given how inconsistent the strategy is.

With Sleep Trap in particular, I have seen few teams which are actually effective enough for me to think "Wow, that's a great use of Sleep Trap, I'm going to copy that team and try it out myself". Not to doubt Lavos, but I haven't seen an offensive team + Smeargle working out for whatever reason, and I do pay some attention to GSC tournaments and the GSC ladder trends. I don't believe in the idea that we are trying to "create the perfect game" by eliminating random strategies that involve the RNG, as I have made clear numerous times in the past. Otherwise, why aren't we banning Confuse Ray PTrap Misdreavus or Sand Attack MLPass Umbreon? I am not personally convinced that Sleep Trap is much better than those strategies at the moment. I did choose to use it in my last SPL game vs VIL, where although I won somehow, it went far worse than I had hoped. I had good results with that Misdreavus team in my tests, and I even posted it for anyone to use in the RoA forum but I've only seen a couple of people try it. Admittedly they seemed to have not even looked at what the team had on it, let alone thought about how best to utilise it, but nonetheless it was unsuccessful.

I acknowledge that in theory the idea of Sleep Trapping sounds broken but I am yet to see convincing examples of games that show this. I am happy to be proven wrong though and hope that people can show me how broken it is through using it and showing replays of it. I also hope others choose to base their opinions on whether the strategy is too strong or not should we end up voting on whether to ban it.