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The Suspect Test Process began in earnest during the Spring of 2008. This process initially aimed to challenge the enduring conventions of a competitive Pokémon game that had perhaps observed bans and clauses that were not in the interest of the game. Pokémon like Rayquaza and Mewtwo are Uber without question, and the necessity of Sleep Clause in competitive Pokémon is similarly unchallenged. But when considering Pokémon like Latias in the Generation 4 Standard Metagame, as well as new Pokémon like Manaphy, Garchomp and Shaymin-S, you realize that their tiering deserves to be assessed fairly and through a regimented process. I labeled such Pokémon as “Suspect”, whose full definition is: any Pokémon, move or clause that respectively may benefit competitive standard or Uber battle if moved or implemented elsewhere.
Portrait of an Uber is as good a place to start as any, since the lone sticky thread in the Policy Review forum is the cornerstone of the process as a whole. My goal has always been to include the community in the process of making and maintaining our competitive tiers, even though it would have been much faster to simply poll the opinions of a few of our tenured, well-respected and battle-tested members instead. At once you can see why this examination extends not only to Pokémon but to the greater community of Smogon. As the notion of finally arriving at a definition of “Uber”—a then-vague term that labeled any Pokémon banned from Standard competitive play—became crucial with the actual Suspect Tests looming, I sought first to collaborate with other Smogon leaders in our mIRC channel and then to solicit the ideas of other Policy Review members on our forums. With some deep thinking and perseverance, we were ultimately able to arrive at three concrete “Characteristics of Uber” Pokémon that our Suspect Test voters have been referencing in both the OU (Standard) and UU Suspect Tests for over a year.
The spirit of the Suspect Test Process is to question old standards, regardless of our comfort level with them. A few of those old standards indeed still exist only due to neglect in considering changes to our competitive tiers or due to our conduct of such considerations only in very small circles. I felt this was not fair to our community of battlers, to which we owe the popularity of this fine competitive game. So each Suspect Test has given the community the opportunity to impact the tiers it plays with. Further, we implemented a “Suspect Ladder” on our Shoddy Battle server with the aim of testing each Suspect Pokémon respectively in isolation, in order to determine whether it has any of the three Uber Characteristics in a test metagame without any other variables.
We have accomplished much in the almost two years since the initial conception of the Suspect Test. We've determined that Latias indeed is not Uber, unless the current Stage 3-3 test returns her first Uber vote in four votes, which is rather unlikely. More importantly, we have assessed the tiering of complicated Pokémon like Garchomp and Shaymin-S through objective and collaborative measures. While their respective tierings, especially Garchomp's, will not sit well with a considerable percentage of our community, we should remind ourselves that such an obvious lack of consensus would have been present regardless of our testing. This, in fact, is the very reason why the Suspect Process is in the best and fairest interests of the community, as it makes both collective and transparent the reasoning behind the tiering of such Pokémon that will remain controversial long after they are tiered by the Suspect Test Process. We should be proud of our efforts so far and genuinely believe we are doing the right thing for competitive Pokémon.
In the future, we are going to need the same exceptional energy, thoughtfulness and perseverance that has gotten us to where we are in the first place. We'll need these traits not only when we consider tricky issues like Evasion Clause, OHKO Clause and especially Species Clause, but in subsequent generations of Pokémon that are sure to bring with them new controversial Pokémon and moves. But with the attention and effort dedicated towards the Suspect Test Process so far, I am confident that we are developing the proper mindset to be able to tackle these challenges. Despite the few expected wrinkles in the earlier stages of the Suspect Test, its fabric remains resilient and unique, and everyone involved can wear it with pride as it continues to be woven by eager, enthusiastic hands.
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