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With the return of Suspect Tests, it is once again time to make an article chronicling the decisions made by the chosen voter pools on certain Pokemon. One of Smogon's most attractive assets is the Suspect Testing process. Although slightly different than the original process used in rounds 1-5, it returns with the same premise: make the metagame better through well-informed battlers. This process makes the connection between defining the metagame and the users of Smogon in a way never seen before. It can even reward the users who do participate with a shiny Tiering Contributor badge!
Because of the massive affect that these tests have on the competitive Pokemon metagame, it is only logical that an article that chronicles these large events is written. Just like Iconic's article that was done before this one, I will be covering trends, the stability of the metagame, what was up for testing, and the many opinions that were held on the Pokemon or abilities being tested.
The return of Suspect Testing brought back the opportunity to receive possibly the most wanted badge of all: Tiering Contributor. Those who have been around since the early stages of Black and White remember rounds 1-5 rather clearly, especially if they contributed to them. The system was much different back then, with users nominating suspects instead of the council that we have in control now. But instead of going on and on about the already well-known council system and explaining how it works, I believe it is time to actually talk about what happened in Round 6 of suspect testing.
It was a quiet day in the Overused forum when a thread was posted declaring the return of a suspect ladder, which would be testing Garchomp on Pokemon Showdown. This brought an uproar if glee through the aspiring crowds of new members that hoped to receive their Tiering Contributor badge through the upcoming tests. Sadly for them, they would be the newest victims of the suspect ladders rage inducing antics. But aside from torn hair and broken doors, many older aspiring Tiering Contributors were excited due to the newly opening door of Suspect Testing. But this was not just any test; it was the one that decided if the notorious Garchomp would return to the metagame. Garchomp was banned in May of 2011 because of the abuse of Sand Veil in the metagame. There was much controversy then, but now it was reaching entirely new levels. This ladder specifically tested Garchomp without Sand Veil to see if it was actually broken without it's rage-inducing ability. Soon after this ladder was made, a real suspect testing ladder was implemented which had Garchomp and his deadly ability in included. Throughout the grueling suspect grind on the ladder, the suspect thread itself was turning into a warfare of some sort, with constant flaming from each side which eventually turned hectic. Many plausible options were proposed in order to come to a conclusion when it came to what to do with Garchomp. Some proposed an Aldaron's proposal style, which meant that Garchomp could not be used on a team with Sand Stream. Others wanted Garchomp fully reintroduced without any penalty to its abilities at all. Other wanted Garchomp back in the metagame, but without it's ability to make it more balanced overall, and because Rough Skin was now released from the Dream World, this time this could definitely be a plausible option to take.
The ladder itself was somewhat centralized over the same basic teams. The notorious Taylor-Lavos offense which included Scarf Keldeo, Scarf Genesect, Rock Polish Landorus, Sword Dance Breloom, YacheChomp, and Lead Terrakion took the ladder by an unsuspected storm. It was seen in almost every game that was played, or at least in most of them. It was so popular, its grasp reached into the next few rounds as well, but finally died out. Sun offense teams with Garchomp included were also prevalent and spread across the ladder like wildfire. Garchomp without Sand Veil meant it could more comfortably expand away from sand, or at least in the eyes of the players it did. The variety of teams was not varied at all, and for the most part the only other type of team that was commonly seen was DragMag or Hyper Offense, both very effective laddering styles. Sand Offense was spreading around as well, and in the final days of the suspect test, it became apparent this might be the last time Garchomp with Sand Veil would be usable in any form of Overused. As the round came to a close, it was easy to see that this metagame might become the standard one very quickly, as everybody seemed to agree unanimously that Garchomp was not broken without its game-breaking ability. Despite the common misses that would still occur when players faced Garchomp, this blind rate did not detour people from allowing it back without its ability.
The voting thread was put up, and it included some varied decisions that were not completely discussed in the suspect thread. The council decided on what we were voting on, and the decision was finally made. Instead of simply banning the ability Sand Veil from Garchomp exclusively, we banned it from every Pokemon, along with the ability Snow Cloak. Both of these abilities affected the integrity of the game, and both were happily removed. This was just the start of the reshaping of the metagame, and because more suspect tests were on the way for sure, big changes were coming soon.
This time something completely different was placed into the spotlight. Something bigger, something weirder, something that the community was almost outraged by when the thread was originally put up. Remember when people were hoping Lugia would drop down to OU at the start of Gen V? Well that was basically the equivalent of this test right here. So what was being tested you ask? Kyurem-B. The new forme of Kyurem was being tested for OU. This Pokemon was already available for OU in the Pokemon Online metagame at the time, and it was only a matter of time before this Pokemon would be tested in Smogon's metagame as well. When the thread was initially placed up, people we very skeptical of the test, but quite quickly the opinions changed greatly.
The day arrived and when the testing finally started, the ladder was littered with the repetition of the same 3 teams over and over again. The first team was the star of last round, the Taylor-Lavos offense which was still the craze in the metagame. No doubt the team was going to be popular for quite some time, but would it be as effective in this round as it was last time? It might not have been as great as it was last round, but it was still very effective. Many people were still using it and this trend continued through many future rounds too. The team overall was solid and because of it's offensive nature, it was the picture-perfect laddering team in this metagame. The second team that was commonly seen was standard rain offense. No surprise here, but with the recent introduction of Keldeo and the discovery of Keldeo's potential as well, rain offense grew to new heights which would end up turning the style into the most used playstyle. You couldn't play a game without seeing some type of Keldeo on the opponent's team. Rain was everywhere, and to some players it was very annoying to face the same cookie cutter team every game, which overall made the laddering very dissapointing. The team typically was composed of Politoed / Tornadus-T / Keldeo / Ferrothorn / Dugtrio / Tentacruel. Very standard but very effective, the team would keep hazards off the field while laying them down and trapping the opponent with Ferrothorn and Dugtrio. Despite Genesect not being used for the most part, it was still very easy to trap the opponent's weather inducer, lay down Stealth Rock, and kill it with Dugtrio. Ferrothorn used an annoying Leech Seed + Protect set which regained health to no end. Tornadus-T, Keldeo, and even Politoed could destroy the enemy's team. Specs Tornadus-T would destroy teams with it's Hurricanes, and Keldeo would drown them with powerful Surfs and Hydro Pumps. Politoed would even join in and blast you would a Scarf or Specs Hydro Pump, which hurt just as much as Keldeo's. Tentacruel was declared the most annoying Pokemon in the game, no question, due to it's Rain Dish + Black Sludge combination. Add in Protect, and you would be matched up against something that could literally stall anything out. Even worse, Tentacruel could Scald burn or poison foes with Toxic, potentially crippling your Pokemon for the rest of the match. This team was the main star of the suspect test and would be feared for the following ones as well. But with all these Hurricanes flying around, this left the question: where the hell was Kyurem-B? He was nowhere. It was almost like he didn't exist at all. He wasn't used nearly as much as people thought he would be. Being neglected in your own Suspect Test would definitely never happen, right? That's exactly what happened with Kyurem-B. Sure, some people used him, but he wasn't used to the degree of other Pokemon like Genesect. Kyurem-B was featured on the third type of team, DragMag. People figured he must be good at something, right? Partially. People thought Kyurem-B would be this big bad Dragon, but he turned out to be the equivalent of a paper tiger. DragMag declined very quickly after the first week or so when people discovered the truth about Kyurem-B.
So what was the deal with Kyurem-B anyway? Why weren't people using him? The answer is simple: he actually wasn't that great. Meanwhile, back in the suspect thread, discussion quickly turned from "This thing will be overpowered!" To "Bring this thing down to OU!" People were highlighting it's Stealth Rock weakness, poor movepool, crippling amount of weaknesses, and overall average abilities. It was clear that Kyurem-B was nothing like it was anticipated to be, and many people were overall disappointed. Many players were claiming it was just overall useless and even underpowered, but others said it was only in a metagame as unbalanced as this one where something like this would not be broken. The suspect ladder was littered with a few stray Kyurem-B, but good players quickly realized this was nothing that was worth using if they wanted to have great ladder success in the suspect ladder. As the test finally was reaching its final days, it was clear there was a completely biased decision on Kyurem-B. Everybody wanted it to be placed into OU and quickly, as it almost seemed the test was dragging on just to long for a decision like this. The feelings of the discussion never changed as people still felt the same about a Kyurem-B. The only saving grace Kyurem-B had was it's decently powerful attacking sets, but nothing about them were that amazing, and for the most part they were only subpar at best. It had trouble breaking through most Steels due to its lack of a Fire-type move, and thus had to rely on Fusion Bolts to break through the likes of Jirachi and Scizor.
The suspect round had ended, the voter's decision was made, and the decision was not surprising at all. Kyurem-B was unbanned with a 72.7% margin. Kyurem-B was free to use and, although even now it is nowhere near its intended placement in usage, it is still quite a formidable force in the metagame. Most of its good sets were discovered after the suspect test, such as Substitute attacker and more defensively based sets. It eventually found itself a home in the metagame, and although its not a fearsome pure physical attacker as it was intended, it turned into more a mixed sweeper if anything. Although it never reached the top 10, it still remained a quite solid Pokemon, overall a rating of B+.
These were the first two reinstated suspect tests after the council was established, and there are definitely more to be covered. But before we move on next issue to Rounds 8 and 9, it is important to address the growing interest in the community deciding whether to ban weather or keep it as it is. It has been more than 2 years since Black and White first were released and introduced auto-weather to OU. Although the initial Drizzle ban was pushed back after Aldaron's proposal, the question still remains. Will an indefinite decision ever be made? As the final months of Generation 5 come upon us, will the decision of banning these auto-weathers stabilize the metagame, or will it actually harm it?
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