Changing Gravity Sleep clause to be a Gravity ban

DaWoblefet

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I would like to propose removing Gravity Sleep Clause in all Doubles tiers that use it, in favor of simply banning the move Gravity.

Gravity Sleep Clause is a clause adopted by Gen 6, 7, and 8 Doubles OU. It prevents a player from using a team with both the move Gravity and any sleep moves with less than 100% accuracy simultaneously on the team. For example, a player cannot use a team with Gravity Sableye + Grass Whistle Shaymin-Sky or a team with both Gravity + Hypnosis on a Bronzong. However, a player could use a team with Gravity Mew and Spore Breloom. This clause was adopted via council quickban in Generation 6 to combat an unhealthy sleep spam strategy that tended to be very RNG-heavy. It was originally implemented as a hard ban of all Sleep moves + Gravity, but later modified to allow Spore, again by council vote.

If you're a singles player reading this, you might initially think this is very strange - but keep in mind that in Gen 6-8 Doubles OU, Sleep Clause Mod isn't enabled. This is primarily due to the amount of counterplay available to Amoonguss's Spore, which is by far the most consistent user of sleep across all tiers. In Gen 6, Safety Goggles is a popular item that allows a Pokemon to completely invalidate both Amoonguss's Spore and Rage Power, and in Gen 7, the prevalence of Tapu Koko and Tapu Fini means most teams have easy ways of granting Spore immunity to grounded allies. In all of Gen 6-8, generic counterplay is also commonplace, including Taunt, Substitute, and Grass-type Spore immunity, in addition to just beating Amoonguss outright by hitting it really hard with super-effective attacks. Gen 5 Doubles OU does have Sleep Clause, due in part to the sleep timer resetting on switchout and the lack of Goggles/Grass-type Spore immunity/Terrains, but Gravity Sleep Clause isn't even on the radar thanks to Gravity being independently banned thanks to a glitch with Sky Drop.

I do think Gravity Sleep Clause fixes an important issue with sleep in Doubles OU. Most Doubles OU players would agree that there is sufficient counterplay to sleep with Gravity Sleep Clause active. This gives the tier a very nice advantage - game mechanics aren't fundamentally changed! Besides Amoonguss, the only currently legal example of sleep spam would be Gen 7 Z-Trick Room Hypnosis Bronzong, which allowed a player to gain 80% accurate Hypnosis in exchange for their Z-crystal. Dedicating the Z-crystal to setting Trick Room has other advantages as well, such as bypassing Taunt. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks this combination is overpowered. Bronzong doesn't offer much offensive pressure on its own, forcing partners to take advantage of the generated Sleep turns, else bad RNG with misses or early wakes will result in the Bronzong player losing a ton of momentum. That's independent from Tapu Fini and Tapu Koko being prominent, too! Most players would recognize that sleep is good, but not strong enough to warrant Sleep Clause. However, Gravity enables these otherwise inconsistent moves to be much more reliable, which opens a much wider range of Pokemon that can abuse the sleep turns. Suddenly, a number of other Pokemon can function in a new, sleep-inducing RNG-filled role, which is seen as uncompetitive.

Banning Gravity is simpler, has approximately equal impact on each tier as Gravity Sleep Clause, and more accurately addresses the fundamental problem.
  1. Banning Gravity is simpler - the wording of this clause is very vague unless you know exactly what it does. For example, in the Fall Seasonal signup thread, it's described as "Sleep moves with below one hundred percent accuracy may not be used in conjunction with Gravity.", which almost sounds like a clause during play rather than a teambuilding restriction. It's also not clear to me, at least, that the clause includes blocking a team that includes Gravity and a sleep move below 100% accuracy anywhere on the team, and not just on the same Pokemon. I think everyone would agree that it's simpler to just say "Gravity is banned" rather than having the complex ban.
  2. Banning Gravity has approximately equal impact on each tier - again, I think this is relatively uncontroversial among learned Doubles players. If true, that means we're not "preserving" anything with the complex ban, because the thing we're "preserving" isn't seeing any significant play. Usage statistics easily support this claim:
    1. For Gen 8, look at the SwSh Doubles OU ladder from the last three months (July) (June) (May). Each month sees only 1 Pokemon using Gravity, each below top 150 in usage, and does not even see 50% usage on those Pokemon. Even if you look at low ladder usage (July) (June) (May), the usage statistics still reflect an inconsequential amount of usage, only seeing sub-10% usage on Pokemon that themselves see sub-top 100 usage. Usage stats from both the most recent Spring Seasonal, as well as the Official Smogon Doubles Tournament, show 0 usages of Gravity in modern Gen 8 tournament play.
    2. For Gens 6-7, the most recent usage statistics from Doubles Classic provide data from players in a recent competitive environment. Again, no usages of Gravity. However, you can definitely investigate ladder usage statistics from when those tiers were current and will see similar statistics in ladder play as in SwSh.
    3. The reason why Gravity doesn't see usage is because its advantages are so minute without the ability to put things to sleep. Removing Ground immunities doesn't free up Earthquake enough, because you're removing your own passive immunities. Setting up a combo attack with, say, Gravity High Horsepower into Zapdos is funny, but you could have just used another Pokemon to attack Zapdos. There aren't any other low-accuracy moves that are so good as to warrant boosting their accuracy with Gravity either. It's not as if the setters are bad; plenty of good Pokemon learn it (Landorus, Tapu Fini, Mew, Genesect, Porygon2, etc.). It's just not worth the moveslot.
    4. Anecdotally, just from my own personal experience, Gravity only gets seen in formats with Groudon. It enables its Precipice Blades to become both 100% accurate and able to hit important Ground immunes like Thundurus, Rayquaza, and Salamence. It doesn't have the same problem as Earthquake, because Precipice Blades only hits opponents. I play both VGC and Doubles OU, and I can say with confidence VGC-side that the only time Gravity sleep was used at any serious level was in VGC 2016/19, when Primal Groudon was legal. Doubles OU of course does not have Groudon, which means Gravity isn't going to be seen.
  3. Banning Gravity more accurately addresses the fundamental problem. Clearly, Grass Whistle, Hypnosis, Lovely Kiss, Sing, and Sleep Powder aren't broken on their own. Otherwise, they'd be banned, right? They are not currently banned in any way. If you want, there's other cheese you can try to "abuse" these non-accurate sleep moves with to make them more accurate, like Sweet Scent with Skymin or Tapu Lele. The big difference, of course, is that Gravity is set up for 5 turns, and doesn't have to be reapplied if the opponent switches out. These sleep moves only become broken when combined with Gravity. The only counterexample I can think of was Hypnosis Gothitelle when we were suspect testing Shadow Tag, but I think that was much more because of the power of Gothitelle with Stag + Fake Out + Hypnosis + a ton of other support moves and not simply because of Hypnosis. But even if those other sleep moves were broken beyond Gravity, all that means is you should just ban those sleep moves - still no need for Gravity Sleep Clause!
In summary, I think banning Gravity, rather than using Gravity Sleep Clause, makes the most sense for Doubles tiering.
 
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Yoda2798

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This is something I've thought for a while but never got around to pushing for. GravSleep Clause has always been a mess in my eyes, there's absolutely no need for a complex ban when a Gravity ban is simple and sufficient. As DaWoblefet mentioned, the only possible argument against would be completely banning Sleep in the relevant gens instead (which would still mean GravSleep should be replaced), but there really isn't sufficient reason for one.

Speaking of which, how Sleep is tiered in BW DOU should also be changed, which currently uses the outdated Sleep "Clause" Mod. I won't rehash the arguments since this discussion has already been had before with respect to singles, but basically, everything applying there also applies here. As for why this wasn't also changed to Sleep Moves Clause after the wider Smogon discussions, I'd say there's three main reasons: 1. it only exists in a (single) old gen, so current gen DOU wasn't pertinent to the conversation, 2. doubles tiering is somewhat independent from singles tiering in general (although in this case it was relevant), and 3. nobody really pushed for the change in doubles to happen. Regardless, this is a clear case like GravSleep where the current implementation should be changed to better follow Smogon policy. This is the only clear break from cartridge mechanics which exists in DOU so it would be nice to clean that up.

For anyone wondering if the DOU old gens are still played, they are, most prominently in DOU Classic and DPL, and we've also made several posthumous tiering decisions already, such as replacing a Sky Drop ban with a Gravity Ban in gen 5, or unbanning Shaymin-Sky in gen 6 among others.

tl;dr - GravSleep Clause -> Gravity ban in gens 6-8
Sleep Clause Mod -> Sleep Moves Clause in gen 5
 

DaWoblefet

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I think the case of BW DOU having Sleep Clause Mod is sufficiently different from both the Gravity Sleep Clause discussion here, as well as the discussion from BW OU. Banning sleep moves in BW DOU has a much greater impact on the tier than banning Gravity in Gens 6-8; you are effectively removing Amoonguss and Breloom, which are viable Pokemon in the tier and would contribute to metagame shifts. The potency of both drops to such a degree that I'd argue they become unviable in a DOU context.

BW OU didn't do a full ban on sleep moves to adhere more closely to cartridge mechanics. They banned sleep moves because they were still too strong, even when only putting one Pokemon to sleep. Viable BW teams required some sort of anti-sleep Pokemon, be it Sleep Talk on Choiced mons, Protect Poison Heal Gliscor, etc. because the cost of getting slept was so high. You can read posts in that thread arguing for keeping the mod on for the unlikely chance of Effect Spore Amoonguss or Relic Song Meloetta causing problems (which isn't ultimately what they went with, but the point is that adhering to cart mechanics wasn't the intended goal). It also wasn't a wider Smogon discussion - this redefinition of Sleep Clause only applies to BW OU; every other OU tier still has Sleep Clause Mod (and iirc all singles Smogon tiers).

The impact of sleep in BW singles was significantly higher than it is in BW DOU. Spore is not a kill here; it's good, but it is not a chokehold on teambuilding. You aren't required to run dedicated mons intended to switch into Spore, and Lum Berry isn't a mandatory item. As Yoda knows, I'm very much in agreement about hating modifications to cartridge mechanics, but I don't want to slide a pretty large-scale change to BW DOU through without a proper discussion of the alternatives, such as my model of mimicking a cartridge gentleman's agreement approach to sleep clause, where you are not permitted to use a sleep move if the opponent already has had one Pokemon put to sleep.

Before we get too deep into the weeds about BW DOU Sleep Clause, I'd like to ask that we address one thing at a time, since these issues are independent. From what I've been seeing on Discord though, it seems the discussion is mostly in favor of Gravity Sleep Clause -> Gravity ban, but let's get that resolved before tackling BW DOU.
 
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Darkmalice

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I was on the council when we implemented the Gravity + Sleep clause, which I advocated for two reasons:
  1. To preserve Gravity and Gravity based strategies, even though they were bad.
  2. For any Smogon tier, someone is going to have to look the banlist to know what's banned or not. I feel this is the case for any case that can't be summed up as "we banned the box legendaries" or something along those lines like how VGC works, whereas we ban Pokemon like Jirachi and unban others like Kyurem-Black and Mew, or Blaziken compared to OU. Many people new to Smogon and/or DOU are going to be unaware of the banlists and may scratch their heads at the banlists anyways. Complex bans are true in that they're more complicated, though imo not overly so a simple read of the line generally explains it e.g. Gravity + Sleep banned, which is not much longer or complex than Urshifu banned. It does get more tricky when you add extra cavets, like Gravity + non-Spore Sleep banned, though even that is not over burdensome. People may not look at the banlists and find out when they try to use said Pokemon in the teambuilder, but the same can be said for complex bans. I feel it gets over burdensome when you have multiple complex bans, since trying to remember them all is more difficult than simply this Pokemon is banned, so the goal should be to only use complex bans when there is a benefit to doing so over a simple ban. This I feel is in line with our single-Pokemon bans, where the goal is to address the issue with as little collateral damage to the tier as possible. It's logic is also apparent (Gravity + sleep moves = excessive sleep), arguably more so many of our Pokemon bans (unbanning the 700 BST Kyurem-Black, banning Jirachi but not Mew - I agree with these bans, but the reasons behind them may not be apparent to newer players, like Kyurem-Black's poor movepools and Follow Me Jirachi being too strong) - this in a sense makes this complex ban "more logical" to many than a simple ban.
Essentially due to a combination of 1 and 2, was against banning strategies with non-luck based (alas bad) use if a relatively simple complex ban could address both the issue and perserve the strategy i.e. provife a benefit. In this case, the council banned Gravity + Sleep to preserve the non-luck based and non-broken strategy of Gravity, even though we knew it was a poor move. Since then, DOU has become more critical of the quality of the strategies, which is not neccessarily a bad thing. I agree it wouldn't really affect DOU and DUU and would not oppose a Gravity ban since the move is unviable (the benefit is negligible). I do think there are repercussions for DUbers because of Groudon, though it is not an offical tier, where Gravity + Precipitate Blades is viable and banning Gravity may be harmful (the benefit is not negligble). You could argue that banning Gravity here is negligible since it's not an official tier, but one can argue that this is less negligible than banning Gravity + Sleep in the other tiers since that effect, both on the metagame and on complexity, is negigible anyways.
 

DaWoblefet

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I was on the council when we implemented the Gravity + Sleep clause, which I advocated for two reasons:
  1. To preserve Gravity and Gravity based strategies, even though they were bad.
  2. For any Smogon tier, someone is going to have to look the banlist to know what's banned or not. I feel this is the case for any case that can't be summed up as "we banned the box legendaries" or something along those lines like how VGC works, whereas we ban Pokemon like Jirachi and unban others like Kyurem-Black and Mew, or Blaziken compared to OU. Many people new to Smogon and/or DOU are going to be unaware of the banlists and may scratch their heads at the banlists anyways. Complex bans are true in that they're more complicated, though imo not overly so a simple read of the line generally explains it e.g. Gravity + Sleep banned, which is not much longer or complex than Urshifu banned. It does get more tricky when you add extra cavets, like Gravity + non-Spore Sleep banned, though even that is not over burdensome. People may not look at the banlists and find out when they try to use said Pokemon in the teambuilder, but the same can be said for complex bans. I feel it gets over burdensome when you have multiple complex bans, since trying to remember them all is more difficult than simply this Pokemon is banned, so the goal should be to only use complex bans when there is a benefit to doing so over a simple ban. This I feel is in line with our single-Pokemon bans, where the goal is to address the issue with as little collateral damage to the tier as possible. It's logic is also apparent (Gravity + sleep moves = excessive sleep), arguably more so many of our Pokemon bans (unbanning the 700 BST Kyurem-Black, banning Jirachi but not Mew - I agree with these bans, but the reasons behind them may not be apparent to newer players, like Kyurem-Black's poor movepools and Follow Me Jirachi being too strong) - this in a sense makes this complex ban "more logical" to many than a simple ban.
Essentially due to a combination of 1 and 2, was against banning strategies with non-luck based (alas bad) use if a relatively simple complex ban could address both the issue and perserve the strategy i.e. provife a benefit. In this case, the council banned Gravity + Sleep to preserve the non-luck based and non-broken strategy of Gravity, even though we knew it was a poor move. Since then, DOU has become more critical of the quality of the strategies, which is not neccessarily a bad thing. I agree it wouldn't really affect DOU and DUU and would not oppose a Gravity ban since the move is unviable (the benefit is negligible). I do think there are repercussions for DUbers because of Groudon, though it is not an offical tier, where Gravity + Precipitate Blades is viable and banning Gravity may be harmful (the benefit is not negligble). You could argue that banning Gravity here is negligible since it's not an official tier, but one can argue that this is less negligible than banning Gravity + Sleep in the other tiers since that effect, both on the metagame and on complexity, is negigible anyways.
It's helpful to see the perspective of a council member at the time! Regarding the motivation of complex bans, I think the example you brought up with Jirachi is very comparable to how I view Gravity Sleep Clause vs. a Gravity ban. Jirachi is banned primarily because of its combination of Follow Me with its great typing and bulk. It has other nice stuff too (like 60% flinch and good Speed control), but if you banned Follow Me from Jirachi, I think most learned DOU players would agree that would completely fix the issue. You could preserve Jirachi as a Pokemon while banning the fundamental thing that makes it broken. But as you know, we stay away from that in tiering when possible, in order to avoid slippery slope arguments about whether or not Zekrom would be fine in a DOU context if we just removed Bolt Strike and Fusion Bolt from its moveset or whatever. Even though we could preserve these legitimate non-broken uses of Jirachi, it is just simpler to ban the whole mon. I think if the council had banned Follow Me from Jirachi, it'd be similar to Gravity - minimally Jirachi would be nowhere on the viability rankings, but I would also predict minimal ladder usage. Similarly, I guess I don't think there's enough warrant to justify preserving Gravity for these non-broken uses. You can see similar recent Doubles tiering decisions in the recent Shadow Tag ban, which had Wobbuffet as collateral, but nobody cared because Wobbuffet wasn't viable. We didn't need to preserve Wobbuffet when it was easier to ban Shadow Tag than ban Gothitelle + Gothorita.

I'd also argue that these alternate uses of Gravity can still involve undesirable luck elements! Of the extremely niche combinations involving Gravity, low accuracy moves can still be involved, like Zap Cannon. But if you disrupt the Gravity portion of the combo, or Gravity runs out, games can turn into literal coinflips depending on whether or not you hit those low accuracy moves. That's no fun for anyone! Of course, Gravity + Zap Cannon is certainly not broken, or seen at all in any competitive setting. I think it'd be hard to say that Gravity enables uncompetitive strategies (because they're all bad), but I think it provides a counterexample to thinking that sleep-less Gravity only generates non-RNG inducing strategies.

A minor point - neither Gravity Sleep Clause nor a Gravity ban will affect Doubles Ubers; DUbers has never used Gravity Sleep Clause and I don't think it should pick up the Gravity ban either. So there's nothing to worry about for that tier.
 
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Darkmalice

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It's helpful to see the perspective of a council member at the time! Regarding the motivation of complex bans, I think the example you brought up with Jirachi is very comparable to how I view Gravity Sleep Clause vs. a Gravity ban. Jirachi is banned primarily because of its combination of Follow Me with its great typing and bulk. It has other nice stuff too (like 60% flinch and good Speed control), but if you banned Follow Me from Jirachi, I think most learned DOU players would agree that would completely fix the issue. You could preserve Jirachi as a Pokemon while banning the fundamental thing that makes it broken. But as you know, we stay away from that in tiering when possible, in order to avoid slippery slope arguments about whether or not Zekrom would be fine in a DOU context if we just removed Bolt Strike and Fusion Bolt from its moveset or whatever. Even though we could preserve these legitimate non-broken uses of Jirachi, it is just simpler to ban the whole mon. I think if the council had banned Follow Me from Jirachi, it'd be similar to Gravity - minimally Jirachi would be nowhere on the viability rankings, but I would also predict minimal ladder usage. Similarly, I guess I don't think there's enough warrant to justify preserving Gravity for these non-broken uses. You can see similar recent Doubles tiering decisions in the recent Shadow Tag ban, which had Wobbuffet as collateral, but nobody cared because Wobbuffet wasn't viable. We didn't need to preserve Wobbuffet when it was easier to ban Shadow Tag than ban Gothitelle + Gothorita.

A minor point - neither Gravity Sleep Clause nor a Gravity ban will affect Doubles Ubers; DUbers has never used Gravity Sleep Clause and I don't think it should pick up the Gravity ban either. So there's nothing to worry about for that tier.
Personally (not the view of the council) I felt that moves should only be banned if they were broken on all Pokemon with the move. When it came to exclusive moves like Bolt Strike, I could justify this pre Gen 8 because of Smeargle i.e. is Smeargle broken with this move. Though generally there has always been an unanimous concensus in Smogon against banning moves unless they were extreme, which was only done to Dark Void in Doubles.

Moves + Pokemon of course gets into an extreme slippery slope argument since many Pokemon would be legal with a certain move on it banned, and all would be if many moves could be banned on a single Pokemon. Gravity + Sleep was intended to be much simpler, and also covered the large number of Pokemon that this made problematic in the one ban. Banning Shadow Tag vs both Goths is also different, since by banning Shadow Tag you allow Competitive Gothitelle, which is more viable than Wobbuffet (and probably Gravity too even though neither are seen, though a team with Competitive Goth did reach top 4 in VGC 2018).

Probably the biggest change regarding this over the years is the community's view points on complex bans, with more tiering leaders opting to avoid them at all costs, and going back to previous gens to revise or remove complex bans like Baton Pass and 5th Gen weather + speed boosting abilities. Back then, the tiering council with a simple complex ban, though now this may not (or may still be) the case. It's nice knowing that this wouldn't affect DUbers, since any collateral damage on the tier is like negligble as already discussed. It's more a matter now of whether people want a little less complexity or a little less collateral damage, both of which I consider negligible. People may also need to explain to beginners why Gravity is banned, instead of them getting the message from a Gravity + Sleep ban, but that may also be considered negligible.

I'd also argue that these alternate uses of Gravity can still involve undesirable luck elements! Of the extremely niche combinations involving Gravity, low accuracy moves can still be involved, like Zap Cannon. But if you disrupt the Gravity portion of the combo, or Gravity runs out, games can turn into literal coinflips depending on whether or not you hit those low accuracy moves. That's no fun for anyone! Of course, Gravity + Zap Cannon is certainly not broken, or seen at all in any competitive setting. I think it'd be hard to say that Gravity enables uncompetitive strategies (because they're all bad), but I think it provides a counterexample to thinking that sleep-less Gravity only generates non-RNG inducing strategies.
I'm address this point separately, as I disagree with it. Low accuracy moves can still be used in battle regardless of Gravity (though ill-advised). This still introduces luck elements, often at the user's disadvantage, though we have many other luck based moves like Rock Slide, Scald, and simply sleep by itself due to the random sleep counter that are arguably more luck based than Gravity + Zap Cannon. I feel that restricting Gravity + low accuracy moves on the basis of luck, as opposed to being uncompetitive (Evasion clause), broken (Gravity + Sleep), or maybe both (OHKO moves), would be a huge slippery slope for other luck based strategies (considerably more than Gravity + Gravity Sleep for complex bans), and should hence not be used as justification for a simple vs complex ban.
 

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