Announcement Cinderace is now banned from OU

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Hello all,

The OU Council has unanimously voted to quickban Cinderace, then give it a full suspect test in the near future.

Galar's most popular starter has skyrocketed in usage and potency ever since its hidden ability, Libero, got released mid-June. Libero, despite its defensive name, pushes Cinderace's offensive potential to the far ends of what one could consider balanced. Much like Protean Greninja towards the end of XY into early ORAS, Cinderace has incredible speed coupled withSTAB on every move it uses. Cinderace also has multiple moves with extraordinary base power; it has two 120 base power moves (Pyro Ball and Gunk Shot) and one 130 base power move (High Jump Kick) at its disposal, on top of multiple other options. Zen Headbutt is crucial for Toxapex, Sucker Punch can come in clutch picking off weakened Pokemon or a Dragapult, Court Change has incredible utility, Bulk Up has the potential to sweep teams, and, of course, U-turn as a highly spammable move with low punishment options. Cinderace's toolkit is truly unmatched in this metagame.

The most commonly used moves, Pyro Ball and Gunk Shot, have huge ups and downs. A burn from Pyro Ball is game changing, turning reliable counterplay such as Hippowdon into a passive answer that gets easily whittled down. Gunk Shot has a high chance of inflicting Poison for a move already so powerful, and inflicting Poison on a Pokemon like Mandibuzz or other bulky Pokemon can be truly devastating. With that said, both of these moves also have their downsides. Both moves have 8 PP, so getting PP stalled is a realistic fear, and both are not 100% accurate as Pyro Ball is 90% accurate while Gunk Shot is only 80%. These moves have a ton of upside, but also could be tragic should the RNG not go your way. The expectation of getting these secondary effects, especially with Pyro Ball, is not a reason to have this Pokemon get banned. However, Cinderace isn’t always in a hit and win or miss and lose situation. It forces switches from many defensive Pokemon, such as Amoonguss, Clefable, Corviknight, Ferrothorn, Rillaboom, Tangrowth, etc. Again, the logic of Cinderace being RNG reliant isn’t being applied here; we aren’t assuming Cinderace will frequently get these effects nor assume it will frequently miss.

The most reliable form of countermeasure to Cinderace is Rocky Helmet Toxapex with Baneful Bunker. Although Toxapex is 2HKOd by Zen Headbutt coming in, despite its great defensive stats, it can then threaten with Baneful Bunker to whittle down Cinderace and render it unable of making progress. The issue that arises is that the Cinderace user is more than capable of scouting this. By using Pyro Ball or Gunk Shot, Cinderace is able to become immune to either a Scald burn or a Toxic in case the Toxapex opts to go for something other than Baneful Bunker. Alternatively, the Cinderace user can simply just switch out and see if Baneful Bunker is revealed. After it’s revealed, it becomes mind games where the Toxapex user will be in serious trouble if they’re ever wrong.

Compared to previous generations, the present OU metagame is a lot slower. Cinderace’s speed tier, which initially might appear not that exceptional, is truly incredible. Dragapult and Zeraora run the tier when it comes to speed, but there’s a massive dropoff after them. In fact, Cinderace is the 4th fastest OU Pokemon, only behind Alakazam and the aforementioned Pokemon. This puts into perspective how hard it is to punish Cinderace; it deals significant damage to the vast majority of the metagame, outspeeds almost all of it, avoids passive chip due to Heavy-Duty Boots, and can even utilize Libero as its name is intended, giving Cinderace the ability to change its typing to withstand a potentially fatal attack.

There are flaws, however, for Cinderace. I’ve touched on multiple already, but a big one is that Cinderace, as strong as it seems to be, fails to secure important OHKOs. In fact, the majority of the metagame is more than capable of surviving a hit from Cinderace. Max Defense Clefable never dies to Gunk Shot from a Jolly Cinderace, and can cripple it by removing its Boots or paralyzing it with Thunder Wave, or it can even use more niche options such as Counter. Any Corviknight with minimal defensive investment on top of a boosted nature can tank a Pyro Ball, and either chip Cinderace with an attack or Roost it off, draining two PP thanks to Pressure. Toxapex, with no prior damage, has a good shot at just laughing off whatever Cinderace throws at it, even Zen Headbutt. Adamant Cinderace deals only 55.9% max to a max defense Toxapex with Zen Headbutt, which can be shrugged off after Black Sludge recovery bar two exceptional rolls or a critical hit.

Despite the fact it gets STAB on all of its attacks, Cinderace is also simply incapable of breaking past the more defensive Pokemon in the tier without luck or a lot of outplaying. Hippowdon and Mandibuzz can shrug off anything thrown at it, as long as they don’t get inflicted by one of Pyro Ball or Gunk Shot’s secondary effects. The only fear is coming in on U-turn to the point of being in range of two of the aforementioned attacks, but these Pokemon take very little, and Hippowdon is capable of punishing U-turns with Rocky Helmet as well as chip through Sandstream. It should be mentioned that Cinderace has plenty of offensive checks as well. Dragapult is the premier offensive check, resisting both of Cinderace’s powerful moves as well as U-turn, only fearing a potential Sucker Punch. Zeraora deals significant damage and can even Volt Switch out if Cinderace is out of kill range. Most potential Scarf Pokemon are more than capable of knocking Cinderace out, due to its relative lack of bulk. Weather abusers, such as Excadrill, Kingdra, and Venusaur, all are very big threats and reliably scare out Cinderace. Cinderace, after changing its type with Libero, could also find itself in fear of being hit hard by potential priority, such as a Rillaboom Grassy Glide or an Urshifu Sucker Punch.

Cinderace’s moves, despite how good they are, have a lot of downside. A Pokemon like Cinderace just isn’t quite strong enough to avoid being gated by the 8 PP of its two strongest moves. Considering Cinderace has to click the right move to get a KO, and there are a lot of things that resist either Fire-type attacks or Poison-type attacks, it isn’t impractical to combat Cinderace by draining its PP, and then handling it accordingly.

Even with its flaws, Cinderace is still an extremely unique Pokemon. Its relative lack of downside, with the exception of getting unlucky by missing its moves, make it incredibly menacing. Its incredible movepool, speed, and ability all combined make it too much for the metagame to handle at the moment. There is a large lack of countermeasures, and its presence is something that needs to be dealt with.

We will be testing Cinderace back down in the very near future; we intend to get this done prior to the release of the next Pokemon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, the Crown Tundra, coming sometime in the Fall. However, if the release is too soon, we will most likely look into freeing Cinderace immediately once we gain all of the new Pokemon, and most likely new moves as well.

As discussed in the thread in the Policy Review subforum, voting on this potential retest will have a lower threshold than on a normal suspect test. Simply a simple majority is required. Please keep this in mind for when the retest happens.

Discussed in another thread in Policy Review, we are banning Cinderace, not Libero. Check the thread if you’d like to see the discussion on it.

I would also like to call attention to my post in the Magearna suspect test thread:

Lastly, we are still looking at Cinderace. Right now, we'd ideally like to not run another suspect test while the Official Ladder Tournament is ongoing (it begins on August 5th!), as such, if the metagame can't develop around Cinderace and it is still seen to be the top dog and in need of immediate attention, we can apply the "Melmetal treatment" if the need is urgent. For those unaware, we quick banned Melmetal quite quickly after its release, and gave it a proper suspect test a month later. The same option is available for Cinderace, even though we decided to handle Magearna first, and did that through a suspect test. But ultimately, for now we'll just be doing Magearna, but Cinderace is very much so on our immediate radar, and will most certainly be getting its own form of attention in the next few months.

Side note: I know I said we do not want to run a suspect while OLT is going on, but I'd like to say we are NOT going to entirely cater towards official tournaments as there's more to OU than just what goes on in the tournaments subforum. However, the qualifying phase of OLT alongside laddering for suspect reqs could be incredibly tiresome and the overlap would be cruel. We wish to avoid this potential trouble for everyone who is potentially interested in both of these things. As such, it's unlikely we'd conduct a suspect test that overlaps with OLT qualifying phase, at least at this point in time.
Again, I wish to illustrate we are not catering around the official tournament schedule, but rather trying to not inconvenience anyone who wishes to both vote in this suspect test as well as participate in OLT. We’ve discussed holding these simultaneously, and allowing people who achieve voting requisites while laddering for OLT to just go ahead and post those reqs, but we’re unsure of this at the moment for a multitude of reasons and wish to iron it out more before we even consider it. A notable issue is the fact people laddering for OLT will not really evaluate Cinderace while laddering; they only care about climbing the ladder in the most effective means possible.

All in all, we realize this makes two large changes to the tier back-to-back, between the results of the Magearna suspect test and this quickban. Hopefully the tier will change for the better now, and get some time to settle before the Expansion Pass is released in the near future.

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