Tier Naming Policy

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erisia

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#1
Every time a new game is released and more Pokemon are available, more tiers can be formed from the selection of Pokemon and we get an increased number of official metagames to play with. For example, Gen 4 introduced NU, Gen 5 introduced RU, and Gen 6 made PU official. However, now that the number of tiers will likely increase even further for the forseeable future, is it time to re-evaluate how we go about naming metagames? I'm sure no-one wants to see FU be an offical tier name, and some could probably argue that PU is going a bit too far as it doesn't stand for anything.

As far as I know, there are two main problems with our current tier naming system.
  1. The position of a tier within the stratigraphy of competitive Pokemon isn't clear from the name. For someone new to competitive Pokemon, how would they know that UU (UnderUsed) is above RU (RarelyUsed) in terms of banlist? The NU (NeverUsed) chat often gets derailed because people think it should be the lowest tier based on its name, but PU fills that mantle at the moment and it may well get worse from here. Furthermore, people frequently post in chat thinking that Doubles UU has the same banlist as regular UU; the difference between the Doubles and Singles metagames isn't apparent in the tier naming system. The confusion about tier names and how the tiers interact with each other could potentially harm Smogon's accessibility to new players as more and more tiers get added (which seems likely as the current ideal of having a metagame of around 60 popular / viable Pokemon does not seem to depend on the total number of Pokemon to choose from).
  2. What future names do we have available with this current system? At the moment the idea seems to be to make crude jokes into tier names, which obviously isn't sustainable, but what are the alternatives? SomewhatUsed? BarelyUsed? This makes a tier's apparent position based on subjective differences between English adjectives, which again isn't ideal as it ties back to the first point in not being immediately clear. Say we get to Gen 9 in like five years or so and we have 8 official metagames called OU, UU, QU, SU, RU, BU, NU and PU. How clear is this to a new player, or god forbid someone trying to explain it to someone else they want to get involved in competitive Pokemon?
With this in mind I think it's worth discussing whether these transparency problems are enough to warrant a rehaul of Smogon's tier naming structure, or at least considering what other options are available and discussing their pros and cons. Sun and Moon are coming out in a few months so I think this is a pretty good time to discuss this.
 
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DragonWhale

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#2
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the number one determining factor in the development of a new tier not the increase in the number of pokemon available, but rather the increase in the number of players interested in the tier in question? If so there's no guarantee we'll have a new tier next gen.
 

erisia

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#3
That's true; if we maintain the same number of users but the number of Pokemon increased then if FU or whatever didn't get enough support we'd still have the same number of metagames but more Pokemon would just be excluded. However, based on the last few generations I think a lower tier will receive more and more support as people want to use old favorites like Charizard and Ninetales etc (the regular formes). There might be some drift in that the lowest tier gradually improves in Pokemon-quality as the generations progress but I think the number of tiers overall is still likely to increase despite increased division of support.
 
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Acast

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#4
If I had seen this thread 2 days ago, I would have thought this was just unnecessary and a bad idea in general. Yesterday I had to explain to someone why they can't use Piloswine in PU if it's listed as a NU mon. They were convinced PU was above NU and they were surprised when I explained PU is the lowest usage-based tier.

So I'm leaning towards agreeing on a tier name overhaul. Ever since I found out FU existed I've strongly disliked the name, and I think it might be for the best if we make the order of the tiers more obvious from their names. If we want to go for total efficiency and no fun, then we could simply use numbers.
  • OU = Tier 1
  • UU = Tier 2
  • RU = Tier 3
  • NU = Tier 4
  • PU = Tier 5
  • FU = Tier 6
And a good way to keep current players from getting confused would just be listing each tier on the ladder with its tier number and former name: "Tier 1 (OU)", "Tier 2 (UU)", etc.

I realize this would be a massive change and involves a lot more than just changing the tier names on the ladder so I don't think it should be taken lightly at all, but erisia has a good point. There are valid reasons for considering this. Not to mention, if we're ever going to overhaul the tier naming system, then the shift into Gen 7 would be a good time.
 

AM

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#5
We could probably just define tiers by abbreviations like we do now instead of getting into the ______used that all the tiers normally go by. I think the naming convention of the tier is a bit silly cause like you said there isn't that many names to really use at this point and new tiers are normally going to be lower ones. If oldies wanna call it OU Overused that's fine but make it so that a tiers represented by the two letter symbol so OU, UU, RU, NU, PU, FU, GU, QU.... and whatever other niche tiers we end up making to accommodate every single tier.

The more drastic approach is doing the point above and renaming everything so it's something like T0, (Ubers), T1 (OU), T2 (UU) where it's defined by Tier lower number being higher tier. It doesn't have to be "T" but if that's a big concern it's a possibility.

How clear is this to a new player, or god forbid someone trying to explain it to someone else they want to get involved in competitive Pokemon?
About that. For what it's worth new players come here and to PS for a variety of reasons. While I know it's this thing to always cater to the accessibility of new players a lot of these new players couldn't give less of a care for Smogon's policies and what not at the time of their introduction to the game and the site. A new players involvement is normally based on a ton of factors like the room they start in, the community in that room, their own personal interests which might not have anything to do with the battling side of things. I jumped into OU because it looked really similar to in-games competitive Battle Spot, played like 300 matches, and didn't actually know what Smogon was or went into a PS room for a month.

Changing the tiering names might help a little bit but it probably won't make a huge drastic change on the perception of new players as a whole. Explaining tiering is normally a drag to a new player anyways, they either get it or they don't, and tiering nomenclature isn't always going to improve accessibility and understanding.
 

Giagantic

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#6
As reluctant as I am to part with the current names we have set up, primarily due to attachment rather then for any arguable reason, I think that shifting to the aforementioned T = Tier naming system may be the correct decision. As others have mentioned OU would be either T1 or T2 depending on how you classify Ubers, this would eliminate future problems regarding the creation of tier names especially since the last one (PU) and potential future ones (FU) are especially immature and arbitrary. PU literally means nothing and is rather a sound effect used by people when something unusually stinky is smelt which is a jab at the tier itself as it is composed of the worst Pokemon in existence. The problems I have with this T1, T2, T3 are as follows:

  • This system relegates the individual identity built up by present tier names (this can be argued to be either a pro or a con)
  • This new system is bland and forgettable due to this loss of tier individuality
  • In the far future this system could have it's own issues as having a list of tiers that are as follows {T1, T2 , T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8} is kinda overwhelming, more so then the current system due to how each tier has different names outside of "usage"
  • The "Usage" element of our current naming system actually ties into how we create said tiers and the new system would take a bit more explanation
I think that a compromise between the proposed new system and the old system would likely be best, for example, ubers would be T1- Ubers, Overused would be T2- Overused, etc... So each tier would either keep its old name in some form (or pick a different one that could be Generation Specific / malleable) but still be classified as T#. Essentially this T# system would be both a way to classify and circumvent the immediate naming of a tier which could be decided at a later point based on metagame trends / relevent strats / pokemon and so on

Edited Proposed Modfication:
T1 / T0 Ubers
T2 Overused
T3 Underused
T4 Rarelyused
T5 Neverused (or Antar's suggested SU)
T6 etc
 
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Antar

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#7
I think there'd be a lot of resistance to moving to a numbered tier system.

My preference is that NU should always be the lowest official tier (meaning: has a ladder, a subforum, a tiering council, formal suspect tests and tournament presence). Next gen the ordering should go:

OU
UU
RU
SU (seldom used)
NU

With PU becoming an unofficial tier once again, and if there's a ladder with enough activity, I'll generate an FU banlist below that.
 

Acast

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#8
If we do end up sticking with "[adjective]-used" as our tier naming system, then I agree Neverused should always be the bottom official tier. At least that would be an improvement to the current system, but RU and SU still don't imply which is higher.

"Seldom" is a synonym for rarely, so it's not obvious which one should be higher ranked. I like the idea of SU far more than keeping PU, but we need to make the distinction more obvious.
That's exactly why I think Giagantic's idea of essentially giving the tiers 2 names would be the best way to go about it. The official tiers can be renamed using Antar's system, but they would also have a modifier that would designate their placement in the tier hierarchy.
  • T0 - Ubers
  • T1 - OU
  • T2 - UU
  • T3 - RU
  • T4 - SU
  • T5 - NU
This way the tiers get to keep their individuality, current users still have a familiar system, and new users can easily see the order of the tiers. It's a combination of two good ideas and I don't really see a downside.
 

atomicllamas

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#9
I think switching to T1-T# is probably for the best at this point. That being said Ubers should remain Ubers, T0 implies its a usage based tier which is not (obviously). I also kind of like the idea of doing T1-OU, T2-UU etc. But I think ryan / Kiyo / galbia / magnemite should probably get a say in whether or not they want the tier names to change (NU->SU and PU->NU), I personally would not be okay with "SU" being inserted in the place of RU. Before we get into the whole "but it doesn't make sense to put anything below NU!!!!", that is the point of the T1-T# labels, and literally the only tier name that makes sense is RU (because they are "rarely" used in UU). Overused and Underused both have implications about the usage of the pokemon in those tiers in relation to their viability (overused mons aren't overused, they receive enough usage to be a part of OU, some may be used more than they should and some may be used less than they should, same w/ underused). Neverused mons aren't literally never used in any tier so it seems really pedantic to me to be upset at having a tier below NU but not being upset that the names don't actually mean anything in the first place. But yeah I think the tier list should look like this:

  • Ubers
  • T1-OU
  • T2-UU
  • T3-RU
  • T4-NU
  • T5-PU
as it retains the cross generational community associated with each tier while also making the order of the tiers extremely clear. I mean maybe NU / PU people don't care if their tier names are changed, if so that's fine, but it wouldn't sit well with me if RU's name was just changed.
 

erisia

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#10
Personally I'm a big fan of BarelyUsed as a tier below RU and above NU. Other than that I agree that T1, T2, T3 etc is a good system. A good midpoint between accessibility and individuality is probably going T1-OU, T2-UU etc for this generation, and then removing the OU / UU etc terms after that once people are familiar with the new tiering categorisation. I'm also happy for NU to be renamed to BU/SU for what it's worth.
 

galbia

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#11
Supporting the idea of Tier # or Tier A/B/C/D whatever since it is just more consistent than the flavored names tiers have that are just pretty unintuitive especially since one tier (PU) doesn't even fit in the scheme and it is in general a huge mess

I don't really like the idea of having the flavored names still unless we are getting rid of them after this "transition" since eventually the problem is going to come back to us

We are lucky that with a new game coming out we can "start fresh" with names in the next generation whole keeping the current ones frozdn
 

DragonWhale

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#12
Honestly is the tier order such a hard concept to learn that it warrants a numbering system? Like I understand it increases scalability if we get more and more tiers in the future, but right now we only have 6 official ones, and maybe a 7th next gen. Tier names are the biggest things people outside this community know smogon for. Changing "OU" to "T1-OU" feels the same to me as McDonalds changing "Big Mac" to "250cal Big Mac". It just sounds less iconic idk.
 
#14
I've always thought that this was a terrible idea. Tier names are as much a part of Smogon's identity as anything else (maybe even the most iconic thing about Smogon despite the fact that we use usage based tiers in the first place), and have been for quite a long time, especially the term "OU", and because of this alone I can't see why changing them would be a good idea. I really think that everyone outside of Smogon who has at least a vague interest in following it would be confused as to why we made the decision to just throw away such a huge part of our history and our identity. Additionally, like DragonWhale pointed out, the current tier names really aren't that confusing. The only people we'd really be catering to with it are the people who don't care enough about Smogon to bother learning them. As the leader of the most "confusing" used based tier, the only question I ever really get from new users is if PU stands for anything, which is easily answered by a simple "no, no names exist that would make sense because nothing can be used less than never, so we decided to just use a pun". I really just feel like this whole "problem" is extremely exaggerated and that changing things out of nowhere would cause far more harm than good overall. If anything, the numbered names have so little identity that it actually becomes a bit *more* confusing as to which one is which, even for established Smogon users.

I'd also personally oppose renaming PU to NU, both for personal reasons and for the fact that it would make things sorta confusing when you compare gen 6 tiers to gen 7 tiers. The personal reasons are mainly just that I'm attached to the name "PU" at this point, and renaming the tier to something else, especially something that was the name of a different tier this generation, is not something I'd like very much, especially if there was another "PU" created as an unofficial tier next generation. This would also actually get really confusing, as people would be left to wonder why "PU" had existed as an unofficial tier, then become an official one, then suddenly became unofficial again with a completely new playerbase and leadership. Now that I think about it, I'm also unsure this wouldn't fragment both the current NU and PU playerbases. The whole thing seems like it would be way too much of a headache just for a simple nomenclature change that doesn't really have any positive effects. Before anyone mentions that this worked just fine with RU at the start of gen 5, I'd like to note that DPP NU had nowhere near the established playerbase of either gen 6 NU or PU. Also, this would just cause more problems when the next "PU" got enough support to become official.

The only way I can see any of this ever becoming a problem is when more and more tiers are introduced, but in that case we could always start the numbering system for tiers below PU when they become official (which I'd like to think will be very far down the road), ie have the new tier called "Tier 6" or even start from "Tier 0" while keeping the current tier names as they are. Alternatively AM 's idea of just not using the "___used" names in an official capacity also works.

Didn't mean for this to be such a huge wall of text but I feel quite passionately about this issue
 
#15
What if we retained the names officially as they are and simply added the ranking nomenclature as supplementary information? For example you could have the ladders append Tx to the end of the tiers name or include a definitional thing in introductory type posts that indicate the tiers placement in a hierarchy.

Gets the best of both worlds in retaining the historical and iconic benefit while also including the clarity aspect.
 

Antar

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#16
I'd also personally oppose renaming PU to NU, both for personal reasons and for the fact that it would make things sorta confusing when you compare gen 6 tiers to gen 7 tiers.
To me, this is a feature, not a bug. People should not be thinking of fresh metagames in terms of the old namesakes. I personally believe that we shouldn't even be retaining tier leaders across gens (that is, if you ran Gen VI UU, maybe you end up running Gen VII SU) to try to minimize any semblance of continuity, but I recognize that's not realistic.
 
#17
To me, this is a feature, not a bug. People should not be thinking of fresh metagames in terms of the old namesakes. I personally believe that we shouldn't even be retaining tier leaders across gens (that is, if you ran Gen VI UU, maybe you end up running Gen VII SU) to try to minimize any semblance of continuity, but I recognize that's not realistic.
But they DO have a bit of continuity across generations: a lot of the Pokemon remain in the tier the generation afterwards, much of the playerbase carries over (and like I said, a lot of it might not actually carry over very well if PU and NU were to change names (I'm already a bit worried that PU might lose a bunch of people because we have to wait such a long time for it to start up in gen 7)). The fact that the playerbase carries over is also evident when it comes to the tier premier leagues: it would feel really odd for galbia and I to host NUPL with a bunch of past NU metagames that barely anyone who played the gen 7 tier would have played at all. It would also just be really odd to have a name (PU) represent an official tier one generation and then the next generation go back to being an unofficial tier with a completely new and much smaller playerbase. I also have concerns that this would draw away a bunch of people away from our tier who wanted to keep playing "PU".

On that note, I also can't help that a lot of users might *actually* be confused by a change like this, since the tier leaders and a lot of the playerbase of PU would now take the name of a tier that previously existed with a completely different playerbase and different leadership. It would also cause people to wonder what actually happened to "PU". This would be particularly confusing in terms of the PS rooms. Maybe the worst thing about this is the fact that we (current PU) would have to make the whole change AGAIN whenever the tier below us became official, and then there would be a new change after that for the two tiers below us, and so on. The whole change seems unnecessary when the status quo isn't really confusing at all.
 

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#18
I've honestly never been a big fan of our tier naming system, but in older generations it was fine because we only had Ubers/OU/UU/NU. It was pretty clear what everything meant, although not immediately because the names seem random until you understood how usage works. Now we have too many tiers, and along with that, the system isn't even consistent, with one tier whose initials mean nothing, and another that's just an expletive.

I've wanted this change for a long time because a cleaner system will be a lot easier for newer players. Yes, it'll be confusing at first for all of the veterans who don't get that Tier 2 = UU, but it clears up so much confusion for even some regulars that don't understand why Pawniard is allowed to be used in PU and LC. I think this whole idea of clinging to what we have is holding us back from making changes, and we shouldn't have to be afraid of change just because of some minor issues. The "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality doesn't even work here because we damn well know there's a problem, and with each generation it's only going to get worse. Once we get to a point where more lower tiers are created between others and names are changed around it defeats the purpose of our current system anyway.
 
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Antar

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#19
Magnemite, how much of that is cause vs. effect? Are the BL banlists so bloated in size because those are really the fewest changes needed to create viable metagames, or because that's what it takes to make the metas as close to Gen V as possible? Tier leaders should be assuming no similarity between tiers of different generations. It's obviously harder to properly set expectations for the playerbases (though I think you underestimate (1) the intellectual flexibility of our players and (2) how many first-time players we get each generation), but our tier leaders should be setting the example.

I'm sorry if this is coming across as me shitting on our tier leaders, because that is not my intent--every one of you has done a laudable job in crafting metagames which are not only competitive, but fun to play. All I'm saying is that "to preserve continuity" should not be a valid motivation for any of these decisions.
 
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erisia

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#20
As far as NU is concerned the BL list is solely for balance reasons; if we wanted a meta similar to Gen 5 then we probably wouldn't have suspected Sawk in the first place (or Tauros for that matter). I don't see how this is particularly relevant to this discussion however. That said, the BL tiers already have this numbered capacity and it seems to work fine for setting out which tier each banlist belongs too despite not relating to the tier names themselves. We don't have UUBL, RUBL etc. That said, it would probably also be clearer if the main tiers were also numbered, so you'd get T1, BL1, T2, BL2, etc.

Regarding how iconic the terms OverUsed, UnderUsed etc are, this is a fair counterpoint as introducing numbered tiers could potentially confuse old users and put people off switching to the next generation. However, this is a problem that would only get worse the longer we keep the old tier designations; it will be harder for people to identify what tier number corresponds to what tier description as games are released and the list gets larger. So unless we decide that we're going to keep the current tier description system forever and make more and more names to slot into it where appropriate, now would be the best time to switch to numbered tiers if we were going to do that.

Most people in the forum probably don't know who I am because I stick exclusively to the NU metagame. It's fun and I don't have time any more to learn and contribute to more than one meta without a dip in quality. I started off working with BW NU and quit when XY started for a while for personal reasons and because I wasn't hugely interested in OU at the time. I'll admit I joined the ORAS NU community primarily because I thought it was a similar metagame to BW NU, but the tier's name had absolutely nothing to do with that. I would have joined regardless of whether it was called NU or PU or T4 or Strawberry Pancakes.
 

wishes

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#22
My opinion probably does not hold much weight, but I really do believe changing to Tier 1, Tier 2, etc, would not be the best choice. Rather, I'd rename the tiers in this fashion:
  1. Ubers
  2. OverUsed
  3. UnderUsed
  4. RarelyUsed
  5. SeldomUsed
  6. PU -> Undecided
The only change would be changing NeverUsed to Seldom. I'd rather just switch NU & PU and call it a day, but I understand the rift that would cause in the communities and in between the generations. PatheticallyUsed might make some sense, but it just is weird to have Never > anything else in my opinion. Preferably, I would just change PU's name to NU or something, and make NU's name something like SeldomUsed. This also means we eliminate PU as a whole (I would oppose naming NU that for confusing reasons). It really wouldn't be that hard to say "G6 NU replaced G6 PU, and is now called SU". If you just explain G7 NU is the same logic of tiering as G6 PU, then I can't see it being too confusing. Perhaps I'm completely wrong and would just cause more confusion, but I just can't get where the difficulty would come from. As AM said, the user either gets it or they don't. However, this would mean we would get rid of PU entirely. I don't think a tier should ever be brought back such as PU if it's changed once. Then, it becomes too confusing.

However, I also see an issue with this in that with each generation we get more Pokemon and more players. If we keep going and find G7 NU (PU) has too much in the tier, then we would have to keep moving NeverUsed downwards until the final Pokemon games are released. That seems like a lot of trouble and would cause a ripple effect. We could just change it to HardlyUsed, BarelyUsed, etc, and label the final generation's lowest tier NU to seal in the name. If we change the name now and continue to add more ripple effect, that's when an issue arises.

Another solution I had thought of was making it Ubers/OU/UU/HardlyUsed/RU/NU, where RU effectively becomes HU, NU RU, and PU NU. If we add another higher than the bottom, then we don't have to find two new names. Just a random thought.

So I guess the point/question is, if we change the names to anything else, will it just continue to cause ripples? Would it just be easier to go to T1, T2, etc instead even if we personally want the names as is with tweaks?

Regardless, I think something about NU needs to change. The more I think and the more I type the more I kind of wonder if keeping "Never" in anything is a good idea. If there's some synonym for Never that starts with N then that's my first pick. And then make PU PoorlyUsed. That would keep the letters completely the same, change only one minor thing, and leave room for new tiers to be added if the need arises.

Sorry if this is somewhat incoherent, I'm in a rush and have to go now. Take what I said with a grain of salt
 

AM

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#23
I mean yes I do think players will either get it or don't get it but I think the ordering of the tiers isn't so much the issued as opposed to just using an abbreviation. It kind of stems from everything having "used" to its name where PU doesn't really have anything to go off of and as more tiers are included, it'll be the same thing. That's kind of my main concern really more than anything and right now the current names are just placeholders to identify a group of mons within that tier.

Cultural reasons aside sticking to ___used I think is the issue, personally for me at least. I'd prefer just two letter abbreviations, like OU. If people want to argue using like T1 or w/e I don't mind I'd rather just not use the term "used" to identify tiers if we're going to the route of changing something.
 

Acast

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#24
I mean yes I do think players will either get it or don't get it but I think the ordering of the tiers isn't so much the issued as opposed to just using an abbreviation. It kind of stems from everything having "used" to its name where PU doesn't really have anything to go off of and as more tiers are included, it'll be the same thing. That's kind of my main concern really more than anything and right now the current names are just placeholders to identify a group of mons within that tier.

Cultural reasons aside sticking to ___used I think is the issue, personally for me at least. I'd prefer just two letter abbreviations, like OU. If people want to argue using like T1 or w/e I don't mind I'd rather just not use the term "used" to identify tiers if we're going to the route of changing something.
But why would we keep the OU and UU abbreviations if they no longer mean "Overused" or "Underused"? If there's going to be an abbreviation, it should stand for something meaningful. I'm all for getting rid of the ___used system, but if we do that we shouldn't be using the same abbreviations anymore.

Side note: As much as I love the PU metagame, its name is kind of awful and FU is even worse. If we do decide to stick to the ___used format, then the lower tiers should be renamed. Obviously there will be backlash but we're entering a new generation with a ton of major changes anyway. These will be entirely new metagames whether they have the same name or not, so why not change their names to make more sense?
 

AM

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#25
But why would we keep the OU and UU abbreviations if they no longer mean "Overused" or "Underused"? If there's going to be an abbreviation, it should stand for something meaningful. I'm all for getting rid of the ___used system, but if we do that we shouldn't be using the same abbreviations anymore.
Because making more sense depends on the community at large and how much we're really willing to change. You have to realize that only a select group of people are here nd are advocating large changes for a huge playerbase, it still has to be received well while making sense to both its older and newer playerbase. OLT is going to still be established as Overused Ladder Tournament when Gen 7 comes around and it's going to look a bit silly to just change the name mid-way to something like T1 or w/e. I mentioned cultural reasons aside because older tiers do thrive on culture and its playerbases from gen to gen, Magnemite brought this point up well earlier, it's still a valid point to maintain certain elements of our naming convention at the very least to keep recognizable identities. With the current abbreviations for the current tiers we have now you can maintain what the tier is perceived as while still leaving more options in the future if there's a time a new tier will pop up. I know it's this running gimmick for people to bring up the imaginary "BL0" but what if at one point in time it becomes a thing? Do we just call it OverOverUsed?
Side note: As much as I love the PU metagame, its name is kind of awful and FU is even worse. If we do decide to stick to the ___used format, then the lower tiers should be renamed. Obviously there will be backlash but we're entering a new generation with a ton of major changes anyway. These will be entirely new metagames whether they have the same name or not, so why not change their names to make more sense?
That's my point, what makes more sense? PartiallyUsed? FewUsed? It gets bogged down by the semantics of trying to identify it with a name when it only needs something simple like the abbreviations to establish what mons occupy that tier.

Edit: Backlash is also bad from a public perception standpoint, something I know a lot of upper staff focus on when making decisions as well. This is why whatever changes happen here, if they happen, should be received well amongst a large population not just the handful of users here and the people liking posts. I know that's hard to gauge but it is something to consider.
 
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