Current Gen Tiering and a Higher Rise Cutoff ("The Hitmontop Issue")

termi

the eye of the needle
is a Tiering Contributor
Well, yes, that's exactly why I mentioned them. In this hypothetical higher rise/lower drop scenario, it's completely possible that things in UU or RU, or Gastrodon or Quagsire, have higher usage (between 4.52% and 6.70%) at the time of any given shift than Pokemon that are literally in OU. But they wouldn't become OU themselves.
I would gladly accept this technical inconsistency if it leads to better metagames. This is what I meant by "practical concern": Quagsire being PU while getting OU usage for a bit would not really have major negative consequences for either tier, whereas Quagsire getting taken from the former tier as a result of i.e. a particular stall team getting trendy in OU for a month or two could very well have negative consequences for PU. There is no practical concern for an OU player if Quagsire "unjustly" remains PU while getting OU usage in my estimation.

There are 8 Pokemon between 4.52% and 6.70% here, but unless it's the very first shift of the generation (when none of them would be OU) how can anyone tell any of these Pokemon are actually still in OU unless they already know? At the end of a usage cycle, all of these Pokemon stay where they were before because the rise threshold is higher than the drop threshold. Volcanion has more usage than Regieleki but the former stays RU and the latter stays OU? How do you explain this to a new player, given that Smogon claims to tier by usage?
Well, a Pokemon's tier is indicated in the Pokemon Showdown teambuilder and also in the Smogdex. For new players, this should be sufficient. If they find out more about usage based tiering and notice that a certain mon is i.e. above the OU threshold yet is UU according to PS and they have questions about this, they can be redirected to a page where our tiering process and the reasoning behind it is explained.

I imagine this would be pretty awkward for Kalalokki to illustrate in usage graphics as well. If nobody else cares about the optics then that's fine, I just want everyone to understand what this proposal means in practice.
Your point is valid and worth bringing up, however I do not believe that the question of optics should ever outweigh the question of improving the competitiveness of our core metagames unless there are seriously good reasons to assume that our optics could suffer in such a way that it scares away a significant amount of people from our community. I plainly do not believe this to be the case.

If I understood correctly, the OP is looking for a solution to prevent a user or a group of users to manipulate usage stats by getting a shitmon a huge amount of usage by spamming the ladder.
While this is what sparked the conversation, this is about more than only such cases. There are also cases of Pokemon temporarily rising to a higher tier to deal with a particular threat that's been on the rise - i.e. Kyurem beign checked by Scizor - only for said Pokemon to drop once the threat it's meant to check falls off or gets banned. This can cause unnecessary destabilization of the tier below as it has to deal with the lack of said Pokemon for several months and then with its reintroduction some months later. A veto system alone is also not sufficient to deal with this problem - Scizor for example was a viable albeit a niche pick in OU even without Kyurem around, so it'd be contentious to prevent its rise on the basis of not being viable enough. This is where a higher rise cutoff gives better protection to the tier below while avoiding the kind of dispute that opponents of the veto system would fear.

In my opinion, a veto system seems like a better approach as it has, as far as i know, no repercution on "legitimate" rises. However, who is getting the right to veto rises? Taking the instance of NU Hitmontop, is it NU council, NUTLs, PU council, PUTLs, a mix of them, or something else? The PU players have no legitimity deciding about a Pokemon's place in NU, while I don't think NU players want to take the responsability to take a decision that doesn't affect the tier they are playing, even if they have a concrete idea of the Pokemon viability.
My proposition would be that the council of the tier losing the Pokemon makes a veto request, as it is the tier most immediately effected and therefore the one that has the most immediate demand in preventing a rise if it deems said rise undesirable and illegitimate - it is not difficult to check the other tier's VR and/or the usage stats to see if a case can realistically be made. The council of the tier the mon in question is rising to then affirms said request if it determines that the argument being made is valid - the criteria for what counts as a valid argument should not be overly strict here, since the other council typically would not have filed a veto request if no serious case could be made. We can trust this to be the case, since councils need to act as a team and unreasonable requests can be shot down before they are made. Moreover, councils should consist of people who have knowledge about their tier and about tiering in general, so they presumably would not act rashly. Of course, as I already mentioned, the potential for any inter-council disputes is reduced even further if we implement a higher rise cutoff. In the unfortunate case that such a dispute does occur, this can surely be resolved through conversation (possibly assisted by one or more previously designated mediators). If it turns out that we were wrong about the veto system entirely and inter-council disputes become a persistent issue, the veto system can be done away with, although it is highly unlikely that it would come to this.

It is quite hard to fix objectif criterias as the viability of certain Pokemon within a tier is subjective. I've seen people talk about Viability Rankings, however I think it is a fake objective criteria, as the VR is decided by a few selected users, who could manipulate the rankings to affect tier shifts. I can't think of any objective criteria that could be used to determine whether a rise is legitimate or not.
As I already indicated in a previous post, "objectivity" is a word we should avoid. Tiering practices are always necessarily intersubjective, laissez-faire usage based tiering only provides a veneer of objectivity that dissipates once we consider how those little numbers that determine rises and drops actually come about. As it stands, our tiers are subject to fluctuations based on even more arbitrary things than a VR decided by a tiering council, which at least requires valid reasoning from said council and can be held to public scrutiny. Pokemon rise because a Youtuber decided to hype them up; they rise because a certain sample team takes off; they rise because one person with too much free time spams them; they remain in a tier they're considered unviable or niche in because they happen to be near the top of the builder; they rise to or remain in a tier they're considered unviable in because ladder players still can't get over their thing for shitty Rapid Spin users for whatever reason. Let's therefore not confuse ourselves by looking for "objectivity" in a game where there isn't very much of that at all.
 

Lily

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I was initially gonna avoid posting here because Meri's post summed up everything I wanted to say, but I have a couple of things I want to address.

1) The veto system
This is never going to and should never work out, honestly it's kind of crazy to me that this has gotten traction in the first place. Adding subjectivity into the mix is just... a really bad idea. To illustrate this, let me take some recent examples of Pokemon that rose to or out of UU:

Seismitoad moved from RU to UU

I have no idea how good Seismitoad was in RU, but in my opinion UU Seismitoad kinda sucks. I've never found a place for it on the teams I build in this tier, so logically I would veto this rise if presented with the choice. But that's just my opinion. Clearly, enough users saw a place for it:

| 39 | Seismitoad | 4.32750% | 9307 | 3.670% | 7986 | 4.009% |

that's a lot of games with frogs in them! So why would I be presented with this choice, as a clearly biased party? That approach doesn't make sense.

So then we go to the (viability?) council, which is effectively the same thing, but this approach at least aims to increase the sample size and thus ideally get a more accurate picture. But here's the thing - councils are and always have been victims of groupthink. You really can't do that much about this; try as we might, we all hear what we wanna hear and say what we wanna say, and tiering councils very frequently do become echo chambers that may or may not reflect the wishes of the overall playerbase. If everyone on the council says Seismitoad sucks, but nine thousand! ladder games are played with it... how can you confidently say who's right or wrong?

At this point, you'd be better off going back to viability based tiering. Which we shouldn't do, because frankly it sucks. A tier I absolutely love to death, ADV PU, has recently almost been shifted entirely because the best Pokemon, Minun, was found to be "still crap, but slightly less so" in ADV NU (where it's almost entirely outclassed by Plusle still). Putting the fate of tiers in the hands of few is pointless when we have a much more powerful and versatile system.

And if we're looking at the other side of the coin where RU is the entity that gets to veto the Seismitoad rise... I don't even know what to say here. Do they get to keep the mon just because they like it? What if it's actually a top 5 Pokemon in UU? Had this system been in place in the past couple months we'd actually be facing this issue! I'm sure RU would've loved to keep Cobalion, their best and most splashable Obstagoon check, but Cobalion is a very true UU Pokemon that sees huge usage and success. Who would get to decide then?

This system sucks. I don't find the arguments that banning a mon is the same as vetoing a rise to be particularly convincing either; it's not subjectively manipulating the tiering system because importantly, everyone can participate in a suspect test. Not everyone can participate in a council vote about a random veto that shouldn't be happening to begin with.

2) The "end-of-gen" issue
I don't have a better term for this so bear with me. Basically, when a generation is coming to a close, lower tiers are very frequently thrown into disarray because either;
a) they get a drop (or multiple) that they may or may not be able to handle, but don't have time to suspect test it;
b) they lose a massively influential Pokemon and are left scrambling to pick up the pieces (see: SM PU Mesprit)

Both of these things are massively undesirable bc realistically nobody's gonna play oldgen lower tiers outside of annual tournaments when they become oldgens. SS UU currently has a super active ladder and multiple tournaments year round, but as soon as SV drops it will have a place in UUPL, UU Snake Draft and probably UU Classic - that's still three tournaments, but only one that's open to the general public, so realistically it's gonna be dropping from upwards of a hundred thousand battles per month to likely sub-500 per year.

This means meta development is going to slow. A lot. Especially if the meta becomes bad to the point that nobody actually wants to deal with it; ORAS UU Conkeldurr meta is a great example of that, people just... didn't want to build it because it sucked and was horribly restrictive, so it was easier to just reuse. SM UU also suffers this fate, although to a lesser extent; the tier is solved to some extent and most players just reuse old teams because they're reliable and easy. You're gonna get this no matter what to some degree, but ideally if you leave a good foundation, people will be at least a little more willing to build upon it. I've experienced this firsthand time and time again and I'm sure most people reading this have too.

In practical terms, recent projected tier shifts have shown the following:

Excadrill could move from UU to OU
Slowking could move from UU to OU

and these two aren't far off:
| 40 | Nihilego | 4.291% |
| 41 | Rotom-Wash | 4.223% |

While we wouldn't lose too much sleep over losing Rotom-W, Excadrill, Slowking and Nihilego are incredibly important metagame staples in UU. This is speculation but I think it's fair to say that without their existence, we'd be pretty quickly thrown into disarray against Pokemon like Aegislash, Salamence, Moltres, Thundurus-T, Primarina, Celesteela... probably more, those are just what I could think of off the top of my head. It's possible things could settle down and be figured out again, but frankly nobody would want to; by the time these tier shifts will take place we'll be like, four months off the release of a new generation with *another* set of potentially devastating shifts a single month before the new gen releases. The fact is just that nobody is gonna care, it's not worth picking up the scraps. It'd be a way of ruining a perfectly good tier for practically no tangible gain other than preserving a system.

So, this is basically all just a convoluted way to say that I think the solution proposed in Meri's OP is desirable. I understand Marty's point and if we have to drop it because of that, so be it, but I don't think the framing is particularly accurate - if you told a new player "a Pokemon needs to be above ~6% usage to show it's good enough to rise into OU and needs to be below ~4% usage to show it's bad enough to drop to UU", I don't think that's actually very confusing at all. Sure, they might have a followup question... but we get questions about tiering all the time from newbies as is, our system isn't exactly the easiest thing to understand and I don't think this makes it any more difficult.

If this isn't doable because sticking to the definition provided by X-Act all those years ago is worthwhile enough, then I'd at least like to do as Rabia and quziel have touched on and remove rises (possibly not drops?) for the last 2 shifts of a generation (i.e. 6-8 months). This eliminates the practical issue from beforehand to some extent; you can feasibly argue that almost any change made 9+ months before a generation ends has ample time to be worked through, and drops are much easier to react to than rises - you have control over what drops (you can ban it!) but you don't have control over what rises. It's a makeshift solution and doesn't really help with the Hitmontop issue, but I feel that's kind of beyond the scope of this thread to an extent anyway (and arguably is not something we should seek to control anyway). Above all else though, either the solution presented in the OP or the one presented by Rabia/quziel would be a huge improvement, and I'd like for it to be pushed through before the next set of rises if possible so that I don't have to leave SS UU in shambles.
 
If everyone on the council says Seismitoad sucks, but nine thousand! ladder games are played with it... how can you confidently say who's right or wrong?
Except that out of the 9000 games, 8000 of them could be played by that one user spamming the same team. While that is an exaggeration, I would rather let the rightful tier placement of the mon be left to council groupthink than a single actor. Moreover, if Seismitoad rising to UU is ambiguous, then just don't veto and let it rise to UU? Veto powers should ideally be used only for borderline unviable mons that are obviously being used only on one team and spammed on the ladder, and I believe that the data from www.smogon.com/stats page (as mentioned in my earlier post) does a decent job at highlighting such patterns.

And if we're looking at the other side of the coin where RU is the entity that gets to veto the Seismitoad rise... I don't even know what to say here. Do they get to keep the mon just because they like it? What if it's actually a top 5 Pokemon in UU? Cobalion is a very true UU Pokemon that sees huge usage and success. Who would get to decide then?
This is easy to address. The veto power should only be given to the higher tier. Usage-based tiering means that lower tiers will always be at the mercy of the higher tiers (see Slush Rush in NU thread). If Cobalion is a very true UU pokemon, then it should obviously be in UU no doubt about that, who cares whether it is a good glue mon in RU. If there is ambiguity in whether the mon should rise, or if there is no clear opposition among the council and playerbase on the rise, then the default is to keep the status quo and not veto. I think that having this veto power would be of interest to the higher tiers too, because shit mons like Ambipom rising to UU due to the latest fad would most definitely leave a very sour taste in the mouths of the UU playerbase, not to mention being an eyesore in the teambuilder.

"a Pokemon needs to be above ~6% usage to show it's good enough to rise into OU and needs to be below ~4% usage to show it's bad enough to drop to UU"
I am not too huge of a fan of this proposal as not all rises are bad, and I believe that delaying their inevitable rises is undesirable for the lower tiers too since they will have less time to adapt to the changes. For example, some time last year, Celebi and Bronzong rose to RU just barely meeting the usage cutoff, and now their usage are well above 7% in RU. NU may be happy in the short term that the mons get to stay for another 3 months, but why delay the inevitable? Same goes for former PU staples Passimian and Tsareena rising to NU. Both have usage of about 5% at the time of the rise, but are genuinely good NU mons that currently record above 7% in usage too.

I guess we could try to eliminate rises when the current generation is ending soon to reduce the volatility, though I am not sure how useful it is in preventing the Hitmontop situation and the like from happening.
 
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termi

the eye of the needle
is a Tiering Contributor
I have no idea how good Seismitoad was in RU, but in my opinion UU Seismitoad kinda sucks. I've never found a place for it on the teams I build in this tier, so logically I would veto this rise if presented with the choice. But that's just my opinion. Clearly, enough users saw a place for it:

| 39 | Seismitoad | 4.32750% | 9307 | 3.670% | 7986 | 4.009% |

that's a lot of games with frogs in them! So why would I be presented with this choice, as a clearly biased party? That approach doesn't make sense.
Because you and other council members should have a better understanding of the metagame than the average ladder player. We should not resort to "one person, one vote" type logic when determining what is the legitimate thing to do since we are trying to make tiering decisions for a competitive metagame, where certain players' opinions should simply weigh more heavily than others'. There is no room for vulgar pseudo-democratic arguments in such a situation, not to mention that the matter that sparked this discussion clearly demonstrates that on ladder, some people's opinions already weigh more heavily than others' by virtue of some playing many more games on ladder than others. As I already indicated in my previous post, this is not a matter of adding more subjectivity to the tiering process; it simply shifts somewhat whose subjective opinions get to decide specific matters. Rather than The Hitmontop Guy de facto deciding whether or not Hitmontop should be NU, it would be tiering councils who decide. As I already suggested previously, council members should have a better understanding of the metagame, have more investment in making decisions that are good for the metagame, and be more easily accountable to the broader playerbase in case disagreeable decisions are made by them.

Helpfully, you already have several possible objections to this built into your post, all of which are worth going over.
So then we go to the (viability?) council, which is effectively the same thing, but this approach at least aims to increase the sample size and thus ideally get a more accurate picture. But here's the thing - councils are and always have been victims of groupthink. You really can't do that much about this; try as we might, we all hear what we wanna hear and say what we wanna say, and tiering councils very frequently do become echo chambers that may or may not reflect the wishes of the overall playerbase. If everyone on the council says Seismitoad sucks, but nine thousand! ladder games are played with it... how can you confidently say who's right or wrong?
I have already dealt with the question of "who's right and who's wrong" in the previous segment, but the "echo chamber" argument is worth dealing with separately. After all, even if you accept my logic that qualified opinions should weigh more heavily, this can only be the case if tiering councils are actually better at forming their opinions and don't become echo chambers where a certain consensus emerges that is radically out of step with the larger playerbase. However, I have to admit that I can't accept your argument at face value here. Having been a tiering council member for a while now, I did not remotely get the impression at any point that it was just a circlejerk of the same opinions. There have always been at least a few dissenting voices on most issues discussed, in fact I don't think we ever unanimously deemed something broken except in extreme cases where no significant dissent would be found among the larger playerbase either. In other words, the claim that councils inevitably become echo chambers needs more substantiation.

Additionally, there are already measures to guard against councils becoming too much of an echo chamber. Council minutes have been used to give the community insight into what preoccupies the council, tiering surveys have been used to increase community input on contentious matters, and even rotating council members are an option to prevent council from becoming one clique of people regurgitating the same opinions. Plenty of methods exist to keep council from becoming an unaccountable entity. Notably, this is presently not the case with individuals or cliques of people who manipulate usage stats.

At this point, you'd be better off going back to viability based tiering. Which we shouldn't do, because frankly it sucks. A tier I absolutely love to death, ADV PU, has recently almost been shifted entirely because the best Pokemon, Minun, was found to be "still crap, but slightly less so" in ADV NU (where it's almost entirely outclassed by Plusle still). Putting the fate of tiers in the hands of few is pointless when we have a much more powerful and versatile system.
The implicit question here is "if we can veto rises based on concerns regarding viability, why do usage-based tiering at all"? This is a valid concern. I agree that a fully viability-based tiering system is not desirable. This is not because I do not trust councils to make good decisions or because I believe more in the "wisdom of the masses", but because 1: it is difficult to determine viability-based tiering criteria early into a generation, when little consensus exists at all on what is and is not worth using, 2: later into a generation it remains difficult to determine the exact cutoff point between what should be i.e. UU and what should be RU, and 3: it is frankly too burdensome for council members to constantly have to determine and re-determine every few months what should drop and what should rise. This is without even mentioning the great amount of potential hostilities that could exist between councils when one tier takes a metagame staple of another tier.

I therefore don't think we do or should reject viability-based tiering out of principle, but simply because such a method could only work under ideal circumstances that do not exist. I see usage-based tiering as a matter of convenience, a useful guideline that creates largely "accurate" tiers without requiring almost constant discourse or a council that has to take on more responsibilities than can be reasonably be expected of people just trying to play a game as their hobby. However, as we all know, this system is not infallible and creates problems that have to be dealt with. One method of dealing with such problems is through bans (council votes & suspect processes), other proposed methods (both of which I also support) are raising the cutoff for rises and not doing rises in the last 3-6 months of a generation's lifespan. However, these methods still cannot account for all the problems usage-based tiering can cause, as I already laid out in my first post in this thread, and here the veto system comes in as a helpful means of dealing with fringe cases that cannot already be dealt with through the other existent and proposed methods.

This system sucks. I don't find the arguments that banning a mon is the same as vetoing a rise to be particularly convincing either; it's not subjectively manipulating the tiering system because importantly, everyone can participate in a suspect test. Not everyone can participate in a council vote about a random veto that shouldn't be happening to begin with.
Since you bring up the topic of suspect tests, it is worth going into another possible objection you could raise in response to my criticism of the "wisdom of the masses" or however we want to phrase it. Your position here is that bans are legitimized through public participation in the form of suspect tests, whereas vetoing rises can't be legitimized in such a way. Since I reject that the opinion of a mass of novices is necessarily more valuable than the opinion of an elite few within the context of tiering a competitive metagame, one could be led to assume that being in favor of a veto system also leaves open the door for "council dictatorship" with regard to all tiering decisions. However, much like how an argument in favor of a veto system does not mean that we have to reject usage-based tiering as a whole, we also can simultaneously hold that councils should have the ability to veto rises while also recognizing the value of public suspect tests where it comes to bans.

Frankly, I am very critical of the suspect test process for a multitude of reasons, and while this is not the place to discuss if anything should change about the way we do bans, I do think it is valuable to bring up the "democratic deficit" of suspect tests so as to clear up what the purpose of suspect tests really is. After all, any voting mechanism which requires that participants pass a test before they can vote cannot be said to really be democratic. In order to vote, one needs to reach a certain GXE score after an x amount of games, which requires a significant amount of time and effort on the part of the participants. The reason for this is obvious: we don't want to be flooded with votes from people who have no serious interest in or commitment to the tier, nor from people who can't demonstrate they master the game well enough to meet a certain threshold. In other words, suspect tests are meant to demonstrate that one has an interest in the competitive metagame. This interest is indeed significant: when I have a strong pro- or anti-ban opinion on a suspect in the tier I play the most, I want to be able to weigh in on this decision. Not offering this possibility to the broader playerbase of a tier could just alienate them from the tier and its council, which is obviously undesirable.

Now the question is: does the playerbase of a tier have a similarly significant interest where it comes to veto decisions? I don't think so. If the PU council had the ability to coordinate a veto of the rise of Hitmontop together with the NU council, would this be a problem for the average PU player? No, if anything this just means that their tier is not unnecessarily deprived of a Pokemon. Would it be a problem for the average NU player? No, Hitmontop is available to them regardless of whether it is allowed to rise or not. Therefore, the question of public participation is a moot point in this instance.

The other objection you raise (Cobalion's rise) is something I've already sufficiently dealt with in my previous post and won't rehash at length. It wouldn't be sensible for the RU council to even propose a veto in this instance since it's a clear example of a legitimate rise, hence if they did and the UU council rejected it, there should be no issue at all.
 

S1nn0hC0nfirm3d

aka Ho3nConfirm3d
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I don't consider "The Hitmontop Issue" to be one we need to spend time on unless we want to reevaluate the usage-based system as a whole. The phenomenon is an expected byproduct of the system and one we have to live with, not tweak. Councils already have a major influence on a tier but giving them the authority to veto rises because "we think it's not worth the rise" again just undermines the point of usage based tiering as a whole. I'm not trying to devalue councils or tierleaders here, I just think it's out of their control as per the current usage based system; sticking to bans / unbans when necessary is the only liberty needed for them.

As a study for the matter, I spent this weekend grinding my current account and a brand new alt to top the RU ladder with only Hitmontop teams. I did this because of the recent revelation that Hitmontop has a chance to rise to RU, and I wanted to see if I could be successful playing with it there, just to gauge how undeserving this rise would be. My current main hit 1703 ELO, and the account I made two days ago hit 1683 ELO today. See the following:
Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 4.07.08 PM.png

IMG_2755.jpeg

Screen Shot 2022-05-14 at 4.09.10 PM.png

The Hailmontop team used: https://pokepast.es/f69c805fb2dfea50

Let's get this straight: I'm not trying to prove to anyone that Hitmontop is good / viable in RU. I'm just saying that if we subscribe to a usage-based tiering system, and a lower tiered Pokemon is seeing use in an upper tier despite being deemed unviable, let's not jump to the conclusion that this is a problem. Calling this phenomenon "the Hitmontop problem" is pessimistic and misguided to the actual root of the issue, which is just the current tiering system as a whole. Hitmontop doesn't need to be on the RU VR to do well in RU games, neither does a lot of Pokemon, and that's okay; if it's used enough to be RU or NU or whatever, just let it be.

Again, these tiering oddities are just what we all have to deal with and expect from time to time with the current system. If anything, we can look at it optimistically. I sure did; my hail team is the best it's ever been for ladder grinding thanks for updating the team with Hitmontop! So just let the weird rises / drops happen, or maybe even take inspiration from them, less we want to overhaul our tiering as a whole.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I do love the idea of revamping the teambuilder to list Pokemon based on the VR and not the alphabet. I totally want all players, especially new ones, to use the resources we work on in more ways than having to go to the forums. We already have the teambuilder include sample sets with the import button, so I see this as another step in that direction, and we can then limit the likelihood of new players using Hitmontop and the like. That to me is our best compromise.
 

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