Announcement Ubers tiering: going forward

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Hack

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Ubers Co-Leader
#1
Hello everyone.

Let's talk Ubers, specifically how we (the Ubers Tier Leaders) believe the tier should proceed going forward in USM.

To put things in context, we have to go back to the creation of AG. In order to avoid an absurd overcentralization around Mega Rayquaza, Ubers became a tier. However, despite some attempts to explain how Ubers should differ from usage-based tiers, there hasn't really been a common definition. Sure, it should aspire to have the fewest bans possible, but how does that exactly play out operationally? We have created a potential tiering policy that aims to cement how Ubers will function in the future.

After becoming a tier, Ubers has progressively been receiving more criticism from the overall Smogon community (including its own playerbase) and has now been booted twice from SPL, one of which wasn't necessarily related to our tier's playability, but could be seen that way. Still, we believe Ubers is being compared to other tiers while operationally still functioning almost as a banlist. Anything Goes should be functioning as Ubers' banlist, and yet the tiers are much more closely linked than they should be. Ubers is currently Anything Goes with Smogon restrictions, rather than Anything Goes being Ubers without restrictions, if this makes sense.

We believe it is time to do something to restore the competitiveness of the tier to be more in line with other Smogon tiers, but with the assistance of our own definitions in order to maintain our identity. For USM Ubers and the future, we believe in going forward with this new policy, put inside hide tags due to its length:

First - Why a new tier policy?

History has shown that sometimes bans are required from the Ubers tier. At first uncompetitive (as defined by http://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/ous-tiering-policy-framework-read-and-understand-this.3552154/ ) elements such as evasion were considered ban worthy. Over time, even with power creep, the usable mons in the metagame stayed at a somewhat equal relative power. The inclusion of Mega Rayquaza caused an unprecedented action to be taken, and thus banning it lead to Ubers becoming a tier. But what exactly is Ubers then? If Ubers performs bans, what is its difference from the Overused tier? What is the purpose of having bans in the first place? This is a hard question to answer, and while an attempt has been made in the section below, looking at the proposed criterion for banning things from Ubers, as well as practical case examples will provide you a more concrete idea of what the Ubers tier is and how it differs from Overused.

Tier Policy Overview

Ubers should strive to be a competitive tier, i.e. we want luck and match-up elements to match those of any other Smogon tier. Ubers will only ban Pokémon when deemed broken by its own definition, which can be found below. This definition provides a more conservative, methodical approach to Pokémon bans that most tiers. Ubers strives towards playability with as few bans as possible, while still retaining competitiveness.

Proposed Ubers tier policy

The banning process will follow three main criteria: broken, uncompetitive and unhealthy.

Broken
Two important definitions first.

Diversity = the amount of Pokémon usable in a competitive setting
Playability = reduction of convergence in teams to the point where player skill matters

Now let's first revisit the case of Mega Rayquaza:

Mega Rayquaza was a terrific Pokémon due to its amazing offensive stats. In terms of damage output it was the undisputed best. Its qualities were undoubtedly best utilized on offensive teams. Using an offensively based team with Mega Rayquaza was considered superior to not using it. Hence, the only rational choice for players was to adopt it, making every viable team in the tier some sort of Mega Rayquaza offense. While both players could use it a make gradual optimizations in this pseudo mirror-match up, Ubers was deemed unenjoyable to play. Using the specified criteria for banning Pokémon from Ubers, it is clear that Mega Rayquaza was broken, thus it was ban-worthy.

What point does this make in regards to tiering? Well, Ubers will base banning things for being “too powerful” but to drawing the line of what this suggests is hard to do. The following should provide as pointers.

- Ubers should NOT ban solely because a Pokémon is "overcentralizing" i.e. close to/or 100 % usage. Instead think in terms of playstyle convergence. If every team looks like a duck, feels like a duck, and acts like a duck, then every game is a fight between two identical ducks. Essentially, games should be playable in the sense that they aren't closer to 50-50 mirror match-ups.
-Imagine a metagame where 6 Pokémon were considered viable. Deviating from these 6 will correlate perfectly with losing to any standard team. Now ponder on two distinct scenarios A and B:

A: Each of the 6 Pokémon can only play a single role (using a single set if you will) attributing to making the style of the team overall indistinguishable from any other team in the metagame.
B: Each of the 6 Pokémon can play multiple roles, attributing to permutations that allows team styles to become varied, despite the lack of diversity of Pokémon considered viable.

Ubers should be totally fine with B but must look at banning the most broken components in the A-scenario in order to allow for enough permutations to make the metagame playable. Granted these two examples are highly idealized and extreme cases, but argumentations surrounding what is broken should generally stem from this line of thought. Does a Pokémon disallow permutations to the extent the metagame is closer to the B-scenario than we would like?

From this we can derive the formal definition:

Diversity is not the goal of Ubers, playability is, and thus every type: broken ban must be argued with this in regard.

Uncompetitive

Ubers will use OUs definitions as it is essential towards our goal to be deemed competitive. This does not mean things deemed uncompetitive in other tiers will automatically get banned under this criterion, but it should provide pointers for discussion.

Unhealthy

As far as this type of ban goes, it isn’t exactly filled with any real examples. None, actually. It makes it very hard for Ubers to have a proper stance on this. Hence this section will review the four branches of this type of ban, as given in the OU tiering framework.

A.) These are elements that may not limit either team building or battling skill enough individually, but combine to cause an effect that is undesirable for the metagame.

Comments from an Ubers perspective: This is a vague criterion but it should apply to the Ubers tier as well.

B.) This can also be a state of the metagame. If the metagame has too much diversity wherein team building ability is greatly hampered and battling skill is drastically reduced, we may seek to reduce the number of good to great threats. This can also work in reverse; if the metagame is too centralized a particular set of Pokemon, none of which are broken on their own, we may seek to add Pokemon to increase diversity.

Comments from an Ubers perspective: This is something partly touched upon in Ubers definition of broken. Since Ubers has a thought out methodology on how to deal with centralization or rather, dominating strategies (see section: Broken) Ubers will not pursue bans of this type, period. Diversity is not the ultimate goal of Ubers, it is playability.

C.) This is the most controversial and subjective one, and will therefore be used the most sparingly. The OU Council will only use this amidst drastic community outcry and a conviction that the move will noticeably result in the better player winning over the lesser player.

Comments from an Ubers perspective: This is valid. The community should be in charge of their tier. It is controversial, but if there is a general consensus that the integrity is compromised due to one element, which is neither broken nor uncompetitive, it must still be possible to ban it. We play this game for fun, after all.

Regarding suspecting testing methods

We believe that a public suspect testing method is the ideal way to go about our tiering decisions, just like any other Smogon tier. With a high ban % required in order to ban or unban something from Ubers, we hope that changes to the tier will only occur when the community overwhelmingly agrees with it, and this also helps to seperate us from OU.

So for those looking for a shorter version:

- Ubers is defined as the tier with the least amount of bans needed to maintain a playable tier competitively.

- Diversity is not the ultimate goal for Ubers, it is playability.

Operationally, this means two things:

1) We plan to publicly suspect test elements with the perceived potential to ruin the competitive value of the tier (in accordance with our new tiering policy). Examples of this could include: Primal Groudon, Geomancy, and Shadow Tag.

2) This also means suspecting elements that were previously banned or restricted if we believe it has the potential to NOT ruin the competitive value of the tier, keeping in line with our minimalist ban policy. Examples of this could include: Swagger, Species Clause. There are many other potential unbans in theory, but think back to BW2 suspect testing in Ubers for a rough idea.

Practically speaking, any suspect tests Ubers will hold will always be objective with a suspect ladder. There will never be any form of weighting or picking out votes based on subjective criterion. Those who qualify for voting will get to vote, simple as that.

What we wish to see from you all in this thread are your opinions on Ubers' future plans, as we cannot progress without the blessing of our community and Smogon at large. Remember to include reasoning alongside your opinions so that we can better understand your viewpoint.
 
#2
Glad to see this finally happening. I would like to see the Red Orb suspected, Primal Groudon is so overcentralising it's disgusting. It's got to the point where I'm actually surprised to see teams that don't have it. There's no logical reason not to use it on your team - it's a Stealth Rock setter, wallbreaker, wall, physical sweeper, mixed sweeper even status spreader. It can do a whole load of things and it does them all really well.
 

Hack

is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
Ubers Co-Leader
#3
Glad to see this finally happening. I would like to see the Red Orb suspected, Primal Groudon is so overcentralising it's disgusting. It's got to the point where I'm actually surprised to see teams that don't have it. There's no logical reason not to use it on your team - it's a Stealth Rock setter, wallbreaker, wall, physical sweeper, mixed sweeper even status spreader.
I'll attempt to cover as many posts as I can directly. Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you are positively inclined.

But remember to keep your arguments regarding broken things to align with the definition we have - what you provide is an example of what is exactly not an issue for Ubers, i.e. high usage and multiple strong roles. That said, Primal Groudon as mentioned is obviously not out of the question for future suspect testing, but arguments have to come from other directions (you are basically adopting an OU logic, if that makes sense).
 

Aberforth

Californium is PoMMan now.
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#4
Please no to testing species clause.

Aside from that, this looks really good. I'm curious as to if there is any order set as of yet in the tier leader's minds as to what should be suspected and in what order. Also, what % should be needed for something to be banned? You mentioned 'high ban %' but does that just mean the OU standard of 60%, or a higher standard, closer to 75% or so? Finally, does this policy also extend potentially to older gens like ORAS?
 
#5
I'm interested to see where this goes, too. Awesome post, Hack.

I personally don't think Primal Groudon's all that bad for the tier in all honesty. It's holding the current metagame together, much like Lando-T in OU and how that prevents that tier from being overrun by physical sweepers. In Primal Groudon's case, it stops Primal Kyogre from having a field day vs just about everything in the tier except Ferrothorn, provides a key switchin to Xerneas, ect. Sure it kind of blows that it's on almost every team, but I feel its inclusion has been helpful at the very least.
 

Hack

is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
Ubers Co-Leader
#6
Please no to testing species clause.

Aside from that, this looks really good. I'm curious as to if there is any order set as of yet in the tier leader's minds as to what should be suspected and in what order. Also, what % should be needed for something to be banned? You mentioned 'high ban %' but does that just mean the OU standard of 60%, or a higher standard, closer to 75% or so? Finally, does this policy also extend potentially to older gens like ORAS?
I have some numbers in my head that have been based on collecting data on OU suspect tests and relative amount of ban voters. Different numbers lead to different outcomes and we haven't really chosen what the exact probability of a suspect test granting a metagame shift should be. But yes it should generally range from 60 to 80 %. Thanks for the support.

I'm interested to see where this goes, too. Awesome post, Hack.

I personally don't think Primal Groudon's all that bad for the tier in all honesty. It's holding the current metagame together, much like Lando-T in OU and how that prevents that tier from being overrun by physical sweepers. In Primal Groudon's case, it stops Primal Kyogre from having a field day vs just about everything in the tier except Ferrothorn, provides a key switchin to Xerneas, ect. Sure it kind of blows that it's on almost every team, but I feel its inclusion has been helpful at the very least.
Thanks for the support. It is always likely that we will end up in arguments surrounding what would happen when removing an integral part of the current metagame. No one really knows, maybe Gastrodon is going to be the next great thing? The point about having suspect tests, and this probably goes without saying, is to test the new states of the metagame. Every test will obviously be accompanied by a ladder focusing on the element tested (no Shadow Tag, no Species Clause etc.).
 
#7
Thanks for the support. It is always likely that we will end up in arguments surrounding what would happen when removing an integral part of the current metagame. No one really knows, maybe Gastrodon is going to be the next great thing? The point about having suspect tests, and this probably goes without saying, is to test the new states of the metagame. Every test will obviously be accompanied by a ladder focusing on the element tested (no Shadow Tag, no Species Clause etc.).
Oh, for sure. I wasn't objecting to the idea of a Primal Groudon suspect, as it'd be neat to see what the meta would be like with it gone. As you say, we honestly don't know right now. I was just giving my opinion on Primal Groudon, is all.
 
#8
Thanks for this!

I think one element not being touched on with respect to the role a mon plays is how players can respond to it. I would agree that Primal Groudon, while centralising with respect to it being on almost every team, is not particularly centralising in terms of how the tier is played -- a la Lando-T in OU. It's something you'll have to prepare for in play -- but not in the sense of "I need to include a specific Primal Groudon answer". I don't think there's such a thing as an otherwise viable team that autoloses to Primal Groudon, nor does a team become significantly more viable by virtue of having a good matchup against it. You fight it pretty much like you would fight any other generically good Pokemon. I'm not that experienced an Ubers player, though, so someone correct me if I'm wrong on any of this.

For this reason, I would much rather the tier was centralised by Primal Groudon than something like Xerneas, which is a fairly linear Pokemon that generally requires specific answers (which depend on the set and may not be reliable even then). Primal Groudon is not the kind of Pokemon where giving it one free turn ends the game on the spot, even if you haven't properly prepared for it. Nor do Pokemon which lose to Primal Groudon immediately drop out of viability, except for base form Kyogre. In that sense, even if it is a teamslot tax, I would contend that Primal Groudon existing actually reduces centralisation rather than adding to it because of the amount of things it can check (things which would otherwise need more specialised answers) while still performing a useful role other than checking those things. Essentially, the role compression that Primal Groudon provides gives a player greater freedom with the other five team slots.

Somewhat unrelated question, but with respect to the hypothetical scenario where there were exactly six viable Pokemon: how does proximity to this affect policy on potential stratification of ubers? As far as I understand, the ideal goal of Smogon's tiering policy in general is to ensure that, for each Pokemon, there exists a metagame in which it is a viable option, if not necessarily a good one. Obviously it falls well short of this in practice, but ubers' higher tolerance for centralisation might make it a particularly salient example. Would a sufficiently large number of uber Pokemon being clearly unviable to the point of seeing negligible usage prompt the creation of a tier where they are viable, now that that's established as something the existing meta wouldn't necessarily seek to correct? (To be clear, I'm not arguing that we've reached this point -- it's more a hypothetical question.)
 
#9
My opinion is that we should always try to minimize the banlist. Especially after seeing OU trying to ban stuff impulsively. If their tournament community fail to ban the pokemon, then they will ban them postmortem with biased hand picked players anyways. The point is that, I do not want Ubers to go down in the same direction. I've had my dislikes and likes with ubers leadership, however the one thing that they have done right is- not banning anything other than Mega Rayquaza. Every gen so far has been playable and competitive. IMO, the first thing to suspect should be Mega Rayquaza. Maybe, I'm wrong, but it deserve a chance to be explored.
 

AM

Free Bloo
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#10
I find most issues with Ubers in terms of playability be certain elements like Geomancy and Shadow Tag, not necessarily mons like P-Don. I'm saying this so that more emphasis can be put on these types of elements rather than a species first in the tiering policy. This is touched upon in the diversity vs playability point I think?

Moving forward I would make these tests a bit longer than the standard norm. 3.5 weeks or a month (even longer seeing as Ubers isn't going to ban or retest a whole lot from what I'm seeing) with some days to vote obviously. Removing elements in Ubers isn't exactly as cut and dry as ones in OU in lower tiers. A lot of time by the time the OU council even bothers suspecting something the community already has made up their mind and not really caring of getting the feel of a potential new metagame because the OU council holds an extremely conservative viewpoint for the betterment of Smogon as opposed to its playerbase, and players get tired of waiting for the inevitable or just stop caring about the tier outside of knowledge required for high level play. It's usually filled with easy to req teams in a short timeframe due to the 2 weeks provided and people having lives outside of this game, thus you see metagames that aren't even real with no development / cheese strats. Suspecting something like Geomancy will change the layout of team structures enough where you need to let some time to sink in to so people can analyze what potentially might be the metagame for the future.

Orch made a good point above in his post about minimizing the banlist, but the direction of OU is a result of the community of Smogon at large over the past couple of years, its tournament emphasis to throw other parts of the forums to the backburner, and the lack of consistency in concrete policy as well as a flawed suspect process with its intentions not being the reality of how to showcase a tier. I know Orch was trying to make a point but let's not use OU as an example when the Ubers tier is smaller in definitive playerbase and has the luxury of deviating a bit differently than OU to cater to its core base and ease the accessibility of entering Ubers in their own way. Tiers like OU aren't afforded that luxury due to Smogon politics, the close minded that comes with the OU council, and being the main metagame representing Smogon. This is a step in the right direction for Ubers at least being open minded.

His M-Ray point is in tandem with my point of longer suspects. There is no way you can study the impact of that within 2 weeks.
 

Hack

is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
Ubers Co-Leader
#11
Thanks for this!

I think one element not being touched on with respect to the role a mon plays is how players can respond to it. I would agree that Primal Groudon, while centralising with respect to it being on almost every team, is not particularly centralising in terms of how the tier is played -- a la Lando-T in OU. It's something you'll have to prepare for in play -- but not in the sense of "I need to include a specific Primal Groudon answer". I don't think there's such a thing as an otherwise viable team that autoloses to Primal Groudon, nor does a team become significantly more viable by virtue of having a good matchup against it. You fight it pretty much like you would fight any other generically good Pokemon. I'm not that experienced an Ubers player, though, so someone correct me if I'm wrong on any of this.

For this reason, I would much rather the tier was centralised by Primal Groudon than something like Xerneas, which is a fairly linear Pokemon that generally requires specific answers (which depend on the set and may not be reliable even then). Primal Groudon is not the kind of Pokemon where giving it one free turn ends the game on the spot, even if you haven't properly prepared for it. Nor do Pokemon which lose to Primal Groudon immediately drop out of viability, except for base form Kyogre. In that sense, even if it is a teamslot tax, I would contend that Primal Groudon existing actually reduces centralisation rather than adding to it because of the amount of things it can check (things which would otherwise need more specialised answers) while still performing a useful role other than checking those things. Essentially, the role compression that Primal Groudon provides gives a player greater freedom with the other five team slots.

Somewhat unrelated question, but with respect to the hypothetical scenario where there were exactly six viable Pokemon: how does proximity to this affect policy on potential stratification of ubers? As far as I understand, the ideal goal of Smogon's tiering policy in general is to ensure that, for each Pokemon, there exists a metagame in which it is a viable option, if not necessarily a good one. Obviously it falls well short of this in practice, but ubers' higher tolerance for centralisation might make it a particularly salient example. Would a sufficiently large number of uber Pokemon being clearly unviable to the point of seeing negligible usage prompt the creation of a tier where they are viable, now that that's established as something the existing meta wouldn't necessarily seek to correct? (To be clear, I'm not arguing that we've reached this point -- it's more a hypothetical question.)
The first point you make is a little fuzzy. You definitely dedicate slots to explicitly checking Primal Groudon and teams with a poor match up against it becomes shunned as unviable very quickly. This is actually, I think, part of why the Ubers playerbase is seen as cancerous - it is very easy for them to see when a team just doesn't cut it vs these things you just "have to" check properly. Granted though, the following point you make is fair. It is better to centralize a tier around a multidimensional Pokémon in general; evidence supports this (think Arceus or Kyogre in earlier generations). Then again some mons indeed lack viability based on the existence of Pdon, however lack of diversity is not really the issue, however I encourage people to think about what options they have for each viable mon (for example: Will-o-wisp used to be a great move for a foundation of many teams and its utility is heavily compromised by Pdon). Again centralization is not an issue as long as the tier is playable but we also want enough space for permutations in order to have a competitive enough tier. As for your last question, it's a tough one. I think the simple answer is: that's a problem for the OU guys as they are the ones taking away tiers from these mons. However, this is thought provoking and I will probably think harder on this. Thanks for the support.

My opinion is that we should always try to minimize the banlist. Especially after seeing OU trying to ban stuff impulsively. If their tournament community fail to ban the pokemon, then they will ban them postmortem with biased hand picked players anyways. The point is that, I do not want Ubers to go down in the same direction. I've had my dislikes and likes with ubers leadership, however the one thing that they have done right is- not banning anything other than Mega Rayquaza. Every gen so far has been playable and competitive. IMO, the first thing to suspect should be Mega Rayquaza. Maybe, I'm wrong, but it deserve a chance to be explored.
1. Ubers suspect tests will always be vote based by laddering for requirements and I will personally maintain a high integrity towards postmortem situations.
2. I agree with minimizing banlists: this is I'm very much inclined to both test and re-test elements in order to optimize. The point of Ubers is to have the least bans, nothing has changed except that we now wish to evaluate competitiveness which many players have been complaining about (evident from SPL booting).

Thanks for the input!

I find most issues with Ubers in terms of playability be certain elements like Geomancy and Shadow Tag, not necessarily mons like P-Don. I'm saying this so that more emphasis can be put on these types of elements rather than a species first in the tiering policy. This is touched upon in the diversity vs playability point I think?

Moving forward I would make these tests a bit longer than the standard norm. 3.5 weeks or a month (even longer seeing as Ubers isn't going to ban or retest a whole lot from what I'm seeing) with some days to vote obviously. Removing elements in Ubers isn't exactly as cut and dry as ones in OU in lower tiers. A lot of time by the time the OU council even bothers suspecting something the community already has made up their mind and not really caring of getting the feel of a potential new metagame because the OU council holds an extremely conservative viewpoint for the betterment of Smogon as opposed to its playerbase, and players get tired of waiting for the inevitable or just stop caring about the tier outside of knowledge required for high level play. It's usually filled with easy to req teams in a short timeframe due to the 2 weeks provided and people having lives outside of this game, thus you see metagames that aren't even real with no development / cheese strats. Suspecting something like Geomancy will change the layout of team structures enough where you need to let some time to sink in to so people can analyze what potentially might be the metagame for the future.

Orch made a good point above in his post about minimizing the banlist, but the direction of OU is a result of the community of Smogon at large over the past couple of years, its tournament emphasis to throw other parts of the forums to the backburner, and the lack of consistency in concrete policy as well as a flawed suspect process with its intentions not being the reality of how to showcase a tier. I know Orch was trying to make a point but let's not use OU as an example when the Ubers tier is smaller in definitive playerbase and has the luxury of deviating a bit differently than OU to cater to its core base and ease the accessibility of entering Ubers in their own way. Tiers like OU aren't afforded that luxury due to Smogon politics, the close minded that comes with the OU council, and being the main metagame representing Smogon. This is a step in the right direction for Ubers at least being open minded.

His M-Ray point is in tandem with my point of longer suspects. There is no way you can study the impact of that within 2 weeks.
You are absolutely right. Competitive restrictiveness, not lack of Pokémon diversity is a key distinction here.

I'm also personally very much for the point of having long enough tests. This goes in line with being objective. You can't fully evaluate a metagame after 2 weeks. Again, we will never, ever, ban or unban anything without a community vote.

Intersting thoughts about the luxury part. I think Ubers has to play on its advantage as a smaller community here, as in, we should simply just make use the community for taking data driven decisions. Thanks for the input, very appreciated.
 
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#12
I really liked AM 's point about evaluating a metagame during suspect test. No matter what we ban or unban will definitely have a massive impact on metagame as Hack's reply to Rarycaris' post about teambuilding/centeralizations. Every single top tier uber pokemon is absolutely crucial for the balance of metagame. The problem with long suspect test is that we potentially get stuck with undesirable metagame for a lengthy time. We would have to use a sole ladder due to small playerbase size. Would it be reasonable to have polls before an official vote? For example: we have 1 month long test on species clause and everyone agree that it's a stupid idea by week two. We hold a poll and see that there's a clear super majority consensus then we just stop the test right there. If it's more contentious then we keep it going.

e: I don't care about inclusion or exclusion of this tier in SPL by the way. It's probably significantly better for the community to not get involved with SPL anyways.
 

Quote

Cautiously Optimistic
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LC Co-Leader
#13
"If the metagame has too much diversity wherein team building ability is greatly hampered and battling skill is drastically reduced, we may seek to reduce the number of good to great threats."

I'm intrigued to see how you would handle this sort of situation. Would it be a matter of picking the most prominent threats, or would you go a different route? Imo the toughest tiering comes when you have to figure out how to balance an overcrowded metagame.


My opinion is that we should always try to minimize the banlist. Especially after seeing OU trying to ban stuff impulsively. If their tournament community fail to ban the pokemon, then they will ban them postmortem with biased hand picked players anyways. The point is that, I do not want Ubers to go down in the same direction. I've had my dislikes and likes with ubers leadership, however the one thing that they have done right is- not banning anything other than Mega Rayquaza. Every gen so far has been playable and competitive. IMO, the first thing to suspect should be Mega Rayquaza. Maybe, I'm wrong, but it deserve a chance to be explored.
Different metas aim for different goals. OU likes to pride itself on playability but also provides some diversity to it so every team isn't the exact same (and even with their tiering process this can still be an issue). It's understandable that Ubers doesn't abide by tiering for diversity because the Pokemon are so strong that a lot of Pokemon just wouldn't be good anyway, so naturally fewer Pokemon are good.
 

Hack

is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
Ubers Co-Leader
#14
I really liked AM 's point about evaluating a metagame during suspect test. No matter what we ban or unban will definitely have a massive impact on metagame as Hack's reply to Rarycaris' post about teambuilding/centeralizations. Every single top tier uber pokemon is absolutely crucial for the balance of metagame. The problem with long suspect test is that we potentially get stuck with undesirable metagame for a lengthy time. We would have to use a sole ladder due to small playerbase size. Would it be reasonable to have polls before an official vote? For example: we have 1 month long test on species clause and everyone agree that it's a stupid idea by week two. We hold a poll and see that there's a clear super majority consensus then we just stop the test right there. If it's more contentious then we keep it going.

e: I don't care about inclusion or exclusion of this tier in SPL by the way. It's probably significantly better for the community to not get involved with SPL anyways.
I will get back to this because in truth this hasn't been talked about much. I'm not certain on how it can be handled, poll is one way, making an executive decision based on the perceived weight and a suspect holds. Either way, I think speed must be prioritized here. We'd rather spend time getting the suspect ladder kicking than talking about how long we'll keep it up.

"If the metagame has too much diversity wherein team building ability is greatly hampered and battling skill is drastically reduced, we may seek to reduce the number of good to great threats."

I'm intrigued to see how you would handle this sort of situation. Would it be a matter of picking the most prominent threats, or would you go a different route? Imo the toughest tiering comes when you have to figure out how to balance an overcrowded metagame.
Well, I have some trouble seeing what tiers that have really been subject to this problem. Maybe you as an LC leader have different takes on this, so do provide me with some examples if you aren't satisfied with my argumentation.

It seems largely hypothetical to me, and definitely strange in an Ubers perspective. Maybe I'm not too experienced in other tiers. My answer will try to base itself around what I know, and that is Ubers. Insofar as older Uber metagames have had an abundance of diversity but conceptually always converged towards some centralizing mechanic. Whilst BW2 Ubers has several strong leads, 3 weather styles, 3 strong spinblockers, about 10 strong Arceus formes etc the metagame still found a consistency around its hazard metagame and weather wars. DPP had strong dragons, and many of them, but still balanced out because of equally strong momentum shifting mechanisms: revenge killers equally threatening to teams as the threat you just forced out. New Uber metagames are not looking to get close to diversity in these tiers any time soon and even if they did, it isn't such a problem.

A simpler answer is that Ubers probably has a tough time becoming overcrowded due to Arceus. Arceus allows defensively stability to teams and removes randomness to such a large degree that many would be "too good to great threats" just can't exist.

As for management if this scenario happens, there is the possibility of retesting things that have been banned or simply make a clear cut case for why a certain threat actually stands out in regards to volatility (BW OU sun is an example that could be somewhat applicable). Thanks for the input, it's greatly appreciated.
 
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Hack

is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
Ubers Co-Leader
#16
Fast question,If some Arceus form gets suspected(example:Arceus Ground gets too powerful) Will Arceus be restricted of using that specific plate(/z move)?
We still want to avoid being too complex and as far as my own mentality stands, Arceus is one mon. Me and Fireburn have obviously not thought about every single outcome and I doubt it comes to Arceus anytime soon, to be honest. But I guess theoretically that would be the case? Thanks for contributing
 
#17
Alright guess I'm out of retirement yeah no

In a case like Mega Ray's, where it was just blatantly broken no matter what way you looked at it, will the council just do a council vote on it? Is that an option? It seems reasonable for certain cases, because these are legendaries and GF knows no boundaries in making these things OP.
 

Hack

is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnus
Ubers Co-Leader
#18
Alright guess I'm out of retirement yeah no

In a case like Mega Ray's, where it was just blatantly broken no matter what way you looked at it, will the council just do a council vote on it? Is that an option? It seems reasonable for certain cases, because these are legendaries and GF knows no boundaries in making these things OP.
I intend to say never but matters can of course change. In extreme cases we have to look at ad-hoc solutions because you can't really plan for them. However, the baseline is still no, all tests are going to be conducted objectively and with a suspect vote to decide it. Thanks for the input
 
#19
hey, sorry for the double post, but I just thought of this - what does this mean regarding AG's status as a tier? Will it still stay in the OM forums or will it get promoted? And if it's not getting promoted right now, could it possibly in the future?
 

Celticpride

i am groooooooooot
is an official Team Rateris a Smogon Social Media Contributoris a Super Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Smogon Media Contributor
RMT Co-Leader
#20
hey, sorry for the double post, but I just thought of this - what does this mean regarding AG's status as a tier? Will it still stay in the OM forums or will it get promoted? And if it's not getting promoted right now, could it possibly in the future?
Nothing, if anything with Ubers changes AG will stay as is.
 

Funbot28

Breaking hearts since '09
is a Pre-Contributor
#21
Im glad we are looking back at this since this subject has kinda gone taboo after the whole Stag XY Ubers suspect fiasco...

Anyways, the idea of cementing a consistent Ubers tiering policy is really great since it has been a grey area for many considering how its really the only Smogon tier that deviates from the norms of other tier's suspect philosophies. I agree with the majority of the policy outlined in the OP for the most part, especially highlighting how playability > centralizing. I have radically shifted my mindset on Primal Groudon, and even if its still getting the crazy usage it always was able to maintain after Mega Rayquaza's ban in ORAS, it does not make the metagame unplayable in the slightest and actually offers a lot of creativity in teambuilding ironically due to it being one of the best role compressors in the tier (and thats especially important in Ubers).

Moving forward to potential future suspects, I think we should shift our focus to Shadow Tag oncemore. While Mega Gengar still remains to be one of the main culprits especially with the Speed mechanic buff it got in SM, the issue the tier is really facing atm imo is Gothitelle. With the advent of its PP stalling set (ie: Charm / Confide / Taunt / Rest), it can single handily dismantle the majority of defensive cores relying on common threats such as SupportCeus formes, Celesteela, Toxapex, Chansey, and certain Lugia sets. The only support it really needs sometimes is Knock Off to get rid of Shed Shell on certain defensive threats that are starting to commonly run it now mainly due to just Goth alone (think Pex and some Blisseys). Looking at the new guideline:

A.) These are elements that may not limit either team building or battling skill enough individually, but combine to cause an effect that is undesirable for the metagame.
Since Marshadow's release, Gothitelle has been able to thrive on the resurgence of Balance and Bulky Offensive teams, eliminating the aforementioned threats I had outlined previously and enabling teammates like Rock Polish Primal Groudon, Marshadow, DD Mega Salamence / Zygarde, and the newly introduced Ultra Necrozma to clean up much more easily. The issue brought here is that Shadow tag alone conflicts with the guidelines of "playability" since often times the Goth player can force their opponent to bring in the defensive threat in order for them to bring Gothitelle in on the double switch and proceed to eliminate the threat without much counterplay. The advent of new Deffogers also makes this issue more alarming as I suspect balance teams to resurge even more, enabling Gothitelle to trap a majority of the newly introduced ones bar Yveltal and the rare Dragon Tail Lugia.

I really don't care if we decide to suspect Shadow Tag as a whole or just Gothitelle itself (since I don't particularly feel Mega Gengar to be as harmful in comparison), but I feel its an issue that should be looked into primarily. A Mega Rayquaza re-suspect definitely does seem enticing, but I still suspect it to be as broken as it was before so w/e.
 
#22
Great post and I'm glad that ubers is being allowed to move forward as a tier which I thought was impossible with the restrictions that ubers has gotten over the years. Today is a good day and thanks putting in the work even though a lotttt of people would have wanted it earlier... it's still awesome that we got it now especially for usm.

My thoughts on like the main points people would be talking about with suspects/bans.
Mega Rayquaza: I think if we are striving to make the tier more enjoyable and playable then keeping mray banned is the obvious choice. It would be fun to try in a suspect but the only real point I can think of that would benefit a suspect is basically unbanning all previous mons/restrictions then deciding on what is unplayable and unenjoyable. But I think it's clear mray still has a way bigger power gap between the strongest threats of ubers nowadays which are pdon, xern, maybe necro depending on how the meta turns out.
Species clause: Seems way to chaotic to unban. I know people spam arceus in ag to help vs mray and if mray was unbanned would arceus spam be neccesary? I have no clue but I don't really think that unbanning species clause would be healthy as it promotes more usage to the strongest and most versatile mons which leaves behind a huge chunk of mons that would get no usage. It also doesn't seem like it would be enjoyable for obvious reasons. Do I think species clause is broken in a way? Definetly. I don't want to have to face two geoxerns that each bop each others checks for example. Magearna can only beat one of them and I bet one of them also has thunder for hooh etc. I think it would be best to keep it banned.
Primal Groudon: I've been saying this since oras that the reason pdon has a really high usage is because of how splashable it is. I think it's extremely annoying and can beat any of its checks with the right coverage making each team to bring 2 switchins and usually some way to revenge kill. I don't think it's broken though. It has plenty of checks and sure they can outright be beaten by them but that's why people have adapted to running numerous checks. It can get sr up almost always but if you can lay a toxic on it as it gets rocks then it's timer is on and then becomes less of a threat. Especially if you had like mgar to just trap and hex it. I think because of how great of a sr setter he is that in the past most people end up trading rocks rather than fighting to defog unless it's stall or balance that absolutely needs rocks off. In usm I can't tell if it's gonna be as good especially with duskmane being an extremely effective sr setter. Between new sr setters and way more defog options it possibly might drop in vb when it comes to being the most effective sr setter. It will always be an offensive threat though but for balance/stall the sr set was always the most dangerous set to face. Do I think it makes the tier unenjotable or unhealthy? I think in oras/sm it was actually healthy to have pdon but hard to tell for usm. I never thought it made the tier unenjoyable but I can see why others would think that.
Geomancy: I think people overreact when it comes to geomancy. I think it doesn't sweep as much as people think if it's reg geomancy but it can definetly help with breaking the opponents team but to sweep it needs support just like any other sweeper. There are plenty of checks and even a "counter" that can't get trapped by mgar/goth but obviously it can get worn down since it's used to check other threats such as yveltal. It definetly restricts teambuilding because you need not 1 check or 2 checks but usually 3 checks unless offense I guess which usually just has pdon + priority. Zgeo can sweep very easily vs unprepared teams and doesn't even need support to do so. It restricts teambuilding a lot more I guess. For an example sd on scizor is used specifically for zgeo but overall there are other better coverage moves or status that would benefit scizor a ton if they could run them. Thimo decided to opt to run one of those better moves rather than sd on sciz vs ttg in snake and got easily beaten by zgeo. I think it makes building more unenjoyable but not as much as people would argue. I don't think it's that unhealthy for the tier especially considering spd solg seems to be rocking in usm and that scarf xern looks WAY better in the meta but I think we would have to wait till the meta settles.
STAG: I don't really wanna write out a huge amount of discussion on this one topic so I'll keep it short with my biased opinions and let others talk on it more if they wish too. I think mgar would be deemed unhealthy if the mons that it trapped didn't have a way to beat it, if it had stag before mega evolving, and it couldn't be pursuit trapped. But because it doesn't have these things I think it's healthy as it allows you to have a nice revenge killer and an effective balance/stall breaker that isn't deadweight vs offense. It takes skill to continuesly remove threats with mgar without it getting chipped so I don't see the problem with mgar. Goth has stag right away, it can remove mons without removing them (pp stall them) then use them to get a free turn to setup or set rocks or whatever, it can't be pursuit trapped unless you manage to double a pursuit trapper in(goth will most likely pp stall then switch out before it struggles to death to give the player a free turn). I think it was unhealthy and unenjoyable for sm and I think once the meta settles it will be just as good or slightly less in usm. I think goth deserves a suspect test a month or 2 into usm when it has settled more and if it's not broken enough to be banned I think you might have to comeback to suspecting it later on once the meta develops more. Goth was good at the start of sm but wasn't common or used a lot till later in sm but now that we know what goth can do I think the second balance or stall is used more than once every 10 matches or so then goth will make a return.
 
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#23
This looks super interesting, and a lot of well-structured answers in there.

My point of view about PDON : it's obviously super strong and centralizing, but it can run a ton of different sets that provide the right utility to any team, so i don't think there's anything wrong with him. 1st of all, if we did not have pdon, Kyogre-Primal would just go ham on every team that does not run ferrothorn or gastrodon, so i can't see how is it unhealthy to let pdon in ubers.

My main concern about Ubers at the moment is that there is quite a few viable pokemons in the tier (i'd say like 5 arceus forms, and 10-15 more pokemons). Everything else is only niche, or just makes your team worst. For example, i CANNOT see how to build balance without Arceus-Ground (or Water) as a physical wall, a steel type that beats Xerneas (Magearna/Ferrothorn), a wallbreaker (Ultra-Necrozma being the best at the moment by far in my opinion), a Marshadow (because it pressures the opponent so much), and a Primal Ogre counter (Sdef Pdon/Ferro). That only lets you 1 free slot (for a scarf Yveltal, a Ho-oh or whatever), and it's not that free because it needs to switch reliably into Arceus support...

I really want to stress how this teambuilding process is repetitive, i basically try to just switch pokemons to see which option is better, but they will ALWAYS fill the same roles, it's just a matter of optimization. I also feel like HO got strike hard by the venue of Marshadow that is extremely good against it/in it, so it often comes down to speed ties and you cannot win reliably that way. Stall is still a thing, but Ultra-Necrozma breaks it easily enough combined with toxic pdon etc...

About gothitelle i dont have much more to add, it's just terrible to have a mon that only relies on pp stall to win vs what it's supposed to trap, and it's extremely annoying and unenjoyable.

Ubers has come down to a point where it lacks too much diversity, so i think trying to improve that can only be better ! :)
 

Edgar

Ban Celesteela
is a Team Rater Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Past SPL Champion
#24

Being serious though, I think this would be a great step in the right direction for the tier and the community. I'm really grateful towards the tier leaders solely because they are considering this approach. I'm very eager to see where this is going.
 
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Minority

Numquam Vincar
is a Tutoris an official Team Rateris a Community Contributoris a Contributor to Smogon
#25
I think the OP makes a good clarification between game elements that are simply good (not a reason for banning), and those that create a teambuilding convergence where a huge amount of competitive edge is lost (a real problem). With that said, I think the distinction may be lost on some people. As an example, Pokemon such as Primal Groudon or Xerneas are nowhere near creating a teambuilding convergence, but you'll always see "noob mentally" around, calling for bans throughout chat rooms. In short, a lot of people think everything under the sun needs to be banned, and this type of thinking is destructive to a game's competitive worth.

Tier leaders need to be very selective about putting game element X up for suspect, because mob rule doesn't always make the best decisions. We should focus on the issue(s) that are at the forefront of knowledgable player's concerns (i.e. Goth) and it would be good to hold a PR discussion on element X before a suspect is ever formally announced. Ubers needs to maintain a strong competitive edge as we move into an uncertain future of power creep, and sidestep witch hunts that ban elements that people simply don't like for whatever subjective reason.
 
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