Drought in Lower Tiers

Hogg

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For anyone who has been following the discussion in UU, Drought teams have become a serious issue in the tier. It has been completely taking over the ladder and tournament games, and with UULT coming up next week as our next big circuit tour it's a real concern. This has been a growing issue for a long time, but a few recent changes have really pushed it over the top. Mamoswine's ban was a huge boon for sun teams, removing their single biggest offensive threat, and Torkoal and Darmanitan dropping in the last tier shift gave it a couple of new tools. There have also been some new sets that evolved recently to fully take advantage, such as Solar Beam Noivern.

It's actually at the point where most players in UUPL have been making "no sun" agreements before playing, and for those who don't make one, it has something ridiculous like a 75% win rate. Just look at the most recent UUPL game, where Skysolo clinched the week for his team by literally using a sample team: https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-gen8uu-493150

As far as the ladder goes, Torkoal just dropped to UU this month and is already sitting at close to 12% usage from the first half of the month. Ninetales usage has been climbing steadily as well, and while it's still below the threshold to rise, if trends keep up I think no one will be surprised to see it rise by May or June.

There's also really no individual 'mon you can point to as the thing that puts sun over the edge. Other than sun itself, Venusaur is probably the most common element on these teams, since it's significantly better than the other Chlorophyll sweepers, but there are several others with similar wallbreaking/sweeping potential even if they lack its bulk. Darmanitan is the "newest" drop, and it's an absolute monster when sun is up, but many sun teams opt to use other breakers in its place, so it clearly isn't the problem on its own.

Before gen 8 came out, we made some clarifications regarding what a particular tier's council can and can't do. One of the specific things that was clarified is that while suspecting or voting on individual Pokemon can be done without oversight, complex bans (which includes ability bans) requires a policy discussion. We discussed potentially banning Torkoal and Ninetales as an immediate way to deal with this issue, and in fact the council unanimously voted to do so, but we decided to hold off and move it to a policy discussion.

This hasn't just been a problem in UU, either. One of RU's very first bans was Shiftry due to how overwhelming sun teams were in early RU, and PU is similarly having major issues with sun right now.

Anyhow, UU is ready to move forward on some kind of vote, but at this point any potential bans would pretty much just be a proxy for Drought itself. And considering that there has already been one Drought-related ban in other tiers with more soon on the way, the council thought it was worthwhile to hold off for a bit to open up a discussion about a full Drought ban.
 

atomicllamas

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I assume the purpose of this thread is to discuss the future of tiering (lower tiers in ss) in regards to weather given that the history of tiering weather has historically been messy and inconsistent. Last gen UU chose to ban drought because Mega Houndoom proved to be too much in the sun, rather than just ban the pokemon, we weren't following transitivity at that point so RU chose to keep drought. My understanding is the intent this gen is to keep transitivity for all bans (even non-pokemon bans).

As Hogg's OP points out RU did in fact ban Shiftry because it is (or at least was, the meta has changed since then) broken when in the sun, even though outside of the sun, Shiftry was both balanced and healthy outside of the sun. UU finds itself in a similar position, after Torkoal and Darmanitan dropped (and Venu the shift prior), but UU would like to do as they did last gen and ban drought rather than addressing problematic Pokemon individually.

Firstly, thanks Hogg for posting a thread in PR to discuss how to proceed, rather than simply banning Ninetales and Torkoal, which I think would be a questionable way to skirt the Pokémon vs non-pokemon ban discussion. At this point in time, I would argue the correct way to proceed, especially given the release method of Sword and Shield, is to ban the problematic sun abusers, rather than ban the abilities which help these teams function. I think we can all agree, that on an individual level, none of the drought Pokémon are broken in their individual tiers, this can certainly be seen in the UU discussion on this matter, which has revolved entirely around Darmanitan and Venusaur, and Ninetales and Torkoal haven't been mentioned as anything other than the obvious way to set sun, and Vulpix is not the problem in PU. For UU specifically, banning Venusaur and Darmanitan (or maybe even just one of them) would adequately address this issue, to quote a member of the council in the NP thread:
With Darm's drop and Mamoswine's ban, sun got two buffs to it by adding a second abuser alongside Venusaur (Zard/Shiftry are horrible) and removing the most common revenge killer to Venusaur under sun.
Zard and Shiftry, the second best Fire-type abuser and the second best Chlorophyll user in the tier are both considered to not only not be broken, but not even good. And it isn't as if they aren't good because they are outclassed, as there were prior metas with Ninetales, Torkoal, Charizard, and Shiftry in the tier and sun did not see much usage nor was it discussed as a potential ban. The reality is, Drought doesn't make Venusaur broken, Venusaur's good typing and bulk, great movepool, and Chlorophyll makes Venusaur broken. If it were solely the issue of drought, than Shiftry would also be a problem in this scenario. The same parallels can be drawn between Darmanitan and Charizard. So while Drought support enables these Pokémon, saying that Drought is the issue is a vast over simplification of the situation.

The other thing that should be mentioned, is that RU after banning Shiftry, did not further experience these same issues with sun teams, even though Ninetales + Vileplume, and even Ninetales + Leafeon are still viable cores in the tier. I think RU is actually healthier for proceeding with the ban in this manner, rather than just straight up getting rid of Sun.

The other factor in this situation, is that as more Pokémon are released with the game updates, the bans of Pokémon are extremely likely to be reviewed and reassessed when new Pokémon drop into the tier. If we clause out Drought now, I'm fairly certain that the clause will not be reexamined as new Pokémon are added to the game, leading to a situation where, Drought is not problematic in some set of lower tiers, yet it is banned due to a metagame that was relevant for a total of 4 months.

At some point these kind of support abilities do become an overwhelming issue, like Drizzle making 5 or 6 different swift swim Pokémon problematic in UU, but I'm not sure banning Drought to save a Pokémon that is potentially broken regardless and Venusaur for another 3 months is the logical decision in this situation.
 

A Cake Wearing A Hat

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Hi, another UU community member here. I'm not the most renowned of battlers but after reading atomicllamas's post I really want to say my piece on this. I believe that a full ban on drought is far too long-reaching, drastic, and unnecessary a solution at this time to the current problem in UU, even in the context of lower tiers' issues with Sun. Given the Pokemon UU has to offer, especially Incineroar, there is no Chlorophyll user that can come close to the efficacy of Venusaur at cleaning and sweeping late-game. Without Venusaur, Sun would still be a viable playstyle, but I and many others (particularly in the current NP thread) believe that it would not be broken anymore. This comes at the cost of one Pokemon that has a couple other fringe-viable sets but nothing meta-defining, and this would allow lower tiers to continue in the tiering states that they seem to prefer.

I believe that discussing a drought ban or a two-pokemon setters ban now, without even attempting to ban the most problematic sun abuser, is premature. If Sun is still deemed to be problematic in UU (and other lower tiers) after the removal of Venusaur, then a Drought ban could certainly be a realistic option. As it stands, however, I do not believe we have tried enough to solve the problem in ways that adhere to our current tiering policy to consider breaking it this early in the generation.

Sun is supposedly in a fine place in RU and NU currently, as far as I know, so a Drought ban is not necessary or particularly helpful for those tiers right now. I do not know of the state of PU, but I believe that it can be solved with, at worst, a ban of the current most problematic setter or abuser.

I'm aware that it's been precedent to treat Drought as an independent tiering entity that can be banned wholesale, but we as the UU tier have yet to try any other, potentially more elegant solutions aside from just going the route of Gen 7 again.
 

Hogg

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Yes, we could certainly play Whack-a-Mole in banning different things until Sun is eventually balanced. Realistically, this is what that would look like:

First we'd need to test Venusaur. This would by far have to be the first thing to go. Venusaur under Sun is just a monster, folks aren't wrong. Good bulk, immune to Toxic, essentially has triple STAB with Weather Ball, pretty much just shreds the tier at +2, can tank a First Impression from Golis or CB Hax with ~30 to spare. Following that, we'd have to then look at Darmanitan. Less of a sure thing to go than Venu, but still a big concern. Without Sun it wouldn't even be on the radar for a ban right now, since every set carries some very significant drawbacks... until you bring Sun into the mix, and suddenly you have the power of CB Darm with the Speed of Scarf or the longevity of Boots.

From there... honestly, it would probably be OK in UU, assuming nothing silly drops from OU or comes in via DLC. All it takes is a Cinderace or a Galarian Moltres or hell, even a Victreebel to potentially put us right back where we were. So yeah, we can spend weeks banning things that are independently fine without Drought for a chance that it fixes the problems with the tier right now (until something else shifts or changes), delaying tests on other big issues. Or, we could ban the thing that we actually know would fix the issue in a single stroke, so that we can start addressing other things.

I fully understand that banning Drought has ramifications beyond a single tier, which is why we're having a PR discussion instead of just banning Torkoal and Ninetales. From UU's perspective, I'm OK with starting with a Venusaur ban and moving forward from there, even if it pushes back other things. But at this point we're looking at possibly banning Venusaur and Darmanitan in UU, Shiftry in RU and Leafeon or other sun abusers in PU, plus who knows what else down the road, all in an effort to preserve Drought.
 

Bughouse

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I don't really play any of these tiers in question, so no strong opinion on what would be the best path forward. But another thought would be banning Chlorophyll. I understand that Sun may still be overpowering in UU due to sun + Darm alone, but it sounds like the major concern is the chlorophyll sweepers. I mean, in SS PU and NU Sun teams are being used with Vulpix. That is proof to me that Chlorophyll sweepers in Sun can be threatening even when effectively playing down 5-6.

Banning Chlorophyll instead of Drought would enable a strong Fire type option and the strategic value of Sun (ie reducing power of water, changing weather away from Sand, etc) to stick around, while removing the most problematic element of the broken sweepers. It has pretty minimal carnage, as the only Pokemon with access to only Chlorophyll is Cherubi, so no fully evolved Pokemon is getting effectively banned by virtue of the ability ban. The bigger collateral damage imo would be the ability to use manual Sunny Day teams, which have certainly been a staple of some lower tiers in the past (though not one most people enjoy from what I know).

There's also precedent for this sort of ban on just the speed boosting ability, not on weather or weather+speed complex ban, from the BW Sand Rush ban.
 

EviGaro

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I'm sorry but the preservation argument doesn't sit well with me, and feels completely off with how those bans should be made according to the methodology and why those options are actually selected. Saying Shiftry was banned in an effort to "preserve" Sun in RU is completely inaccurate. It was banned because it was the broken element in RU when you considered the state of the metagame. You could just as easily argue that if we banned drought, we would have done so to "preserve" Shiftry cause otherwise it was perfectly balanced. Heck, multiple people in the UU thread were saying to remove Drought in order to "preserve" Venusaur and Darmanitan in the UU metagame. This argument just runs in circles because everyone can have a plausible definition of preservation that's viable due to how unclear that concept is and how easy it is to define according to your own interests.

I would thus much rather see a continuity in banning what's deemed as broken in the tier, as the tiering guidelines suggest and how it has solved issues surrounding drought this generation. As I said in the UU thread, I was not convinced about removing Shiftry first instead of Drought, but I was wrong since after we tested that ban it became clear the issue was there. Looking at the replay provided... it's actually kinda hard to say Drought is the problem. ggggd doesn't have a single mon that can take two hits reliably from Venusaur, no real priority. and Skysolo had Healing Wish support on top of it. If Venusaur is such a problem that this kind of thing can happen too frequently in the tier, then it seems like Venusaur is the obvious problem here.

I also agree with llamas that DLCs are a complete crapshoot as this point, and it's really hard to say anything so far about what will happen, especially when it's a staggered release adding to the uncertainty. Like llamas though, I would much prefer that if we're going to ban things in this waiting period, we ban things that can be more easily adjusted and in line with our policies than having to run to PR again if Drought turns out to be fine. As much grief as I gave LC for the Cherubi ban because Vulpix + trap was just hilarious in itself, them waiting for Home to see what happened with sun overall was probably something that should be followed here, especially when no one advocates for the setters themselves being a significant part of the problem. While yes, it's annoying for the tours that are taking place before, I feel like this is also overblown to an extent. Tours always have to deal with usage issues as it is, like when UU got Mega Venusaur right at the beginning of Open, or how RU got turn on its head right before the start of SPL X, and we have ways to adjust to those scenarios. But in general, one could say that the DLC issue is a lot more confronting with how smogon tours operate, and this might be worth a separate discussion on the issue later on.

So I don't know, for me right now this seems like a solid UU problem that can be resolved otherwise. RU has done so without issues so far, and no one on the Council has shown an interest on reversing that decision so I wouldn't include us in this effort for now. I asked around in PU cause I'm less in tune with that meta right now, and it's a bit complicated. PU seems to have a far bigger push towards banning Heat Rock as the problem than other tiers do; while Drought is obviously good. Lead Onix and Liepard are just so much better mons than Vulpix without really hurting the sun archetype that there's enough discussion about thinking the problem lays elsewhere than Drought too. If Megazard or Akir want to interject on this that would be great, I don't want to own that part of the discussion too much.
 

atomicllamas

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Yes, we could certainly play Whack-a-Mole in banning different things until Sun is eventually balanced. Realistically, this is what that would look like:

First we'd need to test Venusaur. This would by far have to be the first thing to go. Venusaur under Sun is just a monster, folks aren't wrong. Good bulk, immune to Toxic, essentially has triple STAB with Weather Ball, pretty much just shreds the tier at +2, can tank a First Impression from Golis or CB Hax with ~30 to spare. Following that, we'd have to then look at Darmanitan. Less of a sure thing to go than Venu, but still a big concern. Without Sun it wouldn't even be on the radar for a ban right now, since every set carries some very significant drawbacks... until you bring Sun into the mix, and suddenly you have the power of CB Darm with the Speed of Scarf or the longevity of Boots.

From there... honestly, it would probably be OK in UU, assuming nothing silly drops from OU or comes in via DLC. All it takes is a Cinderace or a Galarian Moltres or hell, even a Victreebel to potentially put us right back where we were. So yeah, we can spend weeks banning things that are independently fine without Drought for a chance that it fixes the problems with the tier right now (until something else shifts or changes), delaying tests on other big issues. Or, we could ban the thing that we actually know would fix the issue in a single stroke, so that we can start addressing other things.

I fully understand that banning Drought has ramifications beyond a single tier, which is why we're having a PR discussion instead of just banning Torkoal and Ninetales. From UU's perspective, I'm OK with starting with a Venusaur ban and moving forward from there, even if it pushes back other things. But at this point we're looking at possibly banning Venusaur and Darmanitan in UU, Shiftry in RU and Leafeon or other sun abusers in PU, plus who knows what else down the road, all in an effort to preserve Drought.
Fair enough, it’s entirely possible that the DLC makes Drought even more oppressive in UU or some other lower tier. But if that’s the case, then I think that would be the best time to make a major tiering decision like banning drought from SS lower tiers, rather than now, during a meta that will exist for a very limited period. And if OU ends up dropping more mons that are too much in sun prior to the DLC maybe it’s worth revisiting sooner. It just seems to me to be a rush decision to ban something from 4 tiers for a generation because 1 or 2 things are broken in UU right now, in a temporary meta.


I don't really play any of these tiers in question, so no strong opinion on what would be the best path forward. But another thought would be banning Chlorophyll. I understand that Sun may still be overpowering in UU due to sun + Darm alone, but it sounds like the major concern is the chlorophyll sweepers. I mean, in SS PU and NU Sun teams are being used with Vulpix. That is proof to me that Chlorophyll sweepers in Sun can be threatening even when effectively playing down 5-6.

Banning Chlorophyll instead of Drought would enable a strong Fire type option and the strategic value of Sun (ie reducing power of water, changing weather away from Sand, etc) to stick around, while removing the most problematic element of the broken sweepers. It has pretty minimal carnage, as the only Pokemon with access to only Chlorophyll is Cherubi, so no fully evolved Pokemon is getting effectively banned by virtue of the ability ban. The bigger collateral damage imo would be the ability to use manual Sunny Day teams, which have certainly been a staple of some lower tiers in the past (though not one most people enjoy from what I know).
I don’t think banning chlorophyll is the solution. Aside from the insignificant collateral in cherubi, killing manual sun teams or stand alone sun sweepers, even if rare, seems like overkill. Additionally, Chlorophyll is not in and of itself broken, unhealthy, or uncompetitive so banning it would not be in line with Smogon tiering policy.

There's also precedent for this sort of ban on just the speed boosting ability, not on weather or weather+speed complex ban, from the BW Sand Rush ban.
This is not intended to be a shot at you at all, but I really do think some of our tiering choices would be better off ignoring precedence in regards to BW OU and weather.
 

phantom

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RU banned Shiftry because it was overpowered in the context of the metagame. That’s it. I don’t understand what a sweeping drought ban, specifically before any other option is even attempted, is supposed to accomplish other than create unnecessary collateral damage. Drought encompasses an entire playstyle, where the viability of multiple Pokemon across multiple tiers hinge on it. Banning one or two abusers doesn’t carry nearly the same weight, especially since a drought ban from UU would result in UU imposing a ban onto tiers where the ability isn’t even close to being overpowered. If something like drought deserves a ban across all lower tiers, then it stands to reason that it should be a problem in all if not most of them, and that’s clearly not the case. I’m of the opinion that before a sweeping ban like this is considered, that the most egregious abuser should be looked at first, and that generally runs in line with the sites tiering philosophy. My tier has proven twice over how drought can be managed with just a single ban.

While I can sympathize with concerns that drought would still be overpowered after banning the best abuser(s), I can speak from experience having led two tiers with Drought legal that drought’s ability to adapt after their best abuser is taken out is largely overstated.

After RU banned Mega Houndoom last gen, sun teams were viable but nowhere near overpowered. What these overpowered abusers do is that they mask the inherit flaws Drought teams have by having the focus mainly be on these unwallable nukes. Once you take them out, sun teams are forced to play like any other team where they can’t just send out their strongest attacker and get an easy kill. In essence, it exposes the holes in the build when you stack multiple offensive Fire-types with little defensive utility or extremely flawed Chlorophyll users either too slowly, frail, lacking in coverage or any combination of the three as the primary attackers. In gen7 RU, sun teams had a lot of difficulty switching into mons like Salazzle or Nidoqueen without using Cresselia, which otherwise sapped momentum and burned turns, forcing you to play more conservatively with your setters. In the current RU gen, sun teams still struggle heavily with Salazzle and also have problems with mons like Snorlax, Drampa, etc. The point being is that Drought teams are pretty flawed in their ability to respond to opposing threats due to the team’s structure, and the most overpowered abuser obscures this flaw due to their overwhelming offensive prowess (not the teams’) and makes the archetype look a lot stronger than what it actually is.

I pushed to ban the abuser last gen because I believed that a full ban on the ability made no sense when the same result could be accomplished by simply isolating the primary abuser. I pushed for the same thing in the current gen and it also worked. The idea to ban the primary abuser in this gen wasn’t just pulled out of thin air, it was based on past tiering efforts that proved not only successful, but resulted in no intrusive bans with little to no collateral damage. I think it would be worth trying out if UU tested their most broken abuser and see if sun teams are still overpowered then. A drought ban across all tiers just doesn’t make any sense when that option hasn’t been explored, and especially when it isn’t even a problem in some of these tiers. I’m not expecting UU to ban 5 things or whatever else for drought, but cutting straight to a drought ban just isn’t the move here.
 

aVocado

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From there... honestly, it would probably be OK in UU, assuming nothing silly drops from OU or comes in via DLC. All it takes is a Cinderace or a Galarian Moltres or hell, even a Victreebel to potentially put us right back where we were. So yeah, we can spend weeks banning things that are independently fine without Drought for a chance that it fixes the problems with the tier right now (until something else shifts or changes), delaying tests on other big issues. Or, we could ban the thing that we actually know would fix the issue in a single stroke, so that we can start addressing other things.
Why are you not looking at the possibility of quickbanning venusaur if it's such a widely agreed-upon problem in UU? Literally everyone here and from what I saw in the uu np thread agrees Venusaur is broken in sun, so it seems the problem is very clear to me. Darmanitan is brought up just as much too but (I believe) that there's people arguing that it's fine without venusaur? I dunno, I'm just bringing the perspective of someone who doesn't play UU but I do play RU and banning Drought would be very unnecessary and leave a bad taste in all lower tier players' mouths.

Reading this thread and quickly glancing over the NP thread got me to come up with 3 options over 5 seconds and I don't understand why you're not willing to do one of them:

1: quickban venusaur
2: quickban venusaur + darm
3: run a short suspect test on both venusaur and darm

Any of those options will not take longer than 10 days maximum, so why are you looking at "weeks"? Plenty of time to spare before DLC. And DLC mons are a big "if" that should be tackled the time they come around, not be considered in tiering decisions made today..
 

MZ

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Don't know that I can speak to an overarching plan for all low tiers really. For what it's worth, in PU's case, Sun is just super broken and I favor banning both Drought and Heat Rock. The issue isn't just 1-2 Pokemon that we can eliminate, the whole style is just very silly and unhealthy and it's clearly the length and effects of the weather and not Maractus being amazing. Plus, as Evigaro eluded to, manual setting Sun is also very very good in the tier. However it's a lot easier to take UU's course of action and send it downstream than try to apply what PU wants to everywhere else. I think in general weather is kind of silly and not worth preserving by banning individual Pokemon like Venusaur, but if it can be handled with only a single ban and people feel it's worth keeping around then focus on things like Venusaur. PU clearly isn't like higher tiers when it comes to the collateral damage incurred from nerfing Sun. I would just question how much of a problem collateral damage really is and how much we should actually care about preserving Sun as a playstyle.
 

Moutemoute

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Reading this thread and quickly glancing over the NP thread got me to come up with 3 options over 5 seconds and I don't understand why you're not willing to do one of them:

1: quickban venusaur
2: quickban venusaur + darm
3: run a short suspect test on both venusaur and darm
Or we can ban Ninetales and Torkoal just like we planned. That makes me laugh a lot to see people targetting abusers and not inducers. The issue is pretty much the same 2v2 Pokémon. I understand that RU had resolved its issues with sun by banning Shiftry and that's all but as some players explain on the UU NP thread, there isn't only one great abuser under sun in UU. At the moment there at least 2 and I don't get that point where we should ban them instead of inducers. It definitily looks like a question of point of view. Overall I'm still thinking our best bet at the moment is either ban inducers or Drought as a whole.
 

atomicllamas

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Or we can ban Ninetales and Torkoal just like we planned. That makes me laugh a lot to see people targetting abusers and not inducers. The issue is pretty much the same 2v2 Pokémon.
It makes me laugh that someone is posting about banning ninetales and torkoal in policy review, when that clearly was suggested as a method to skirt the necessary PR discussion on banning drought.
I understand that RU had resolved its issues with sun by banning Shiftry and that's all but as some players explain on the UU NP thread, there isn't only one great abuser under sun in UU. At the moment there at least 2 and I don't get that point where we should ban them instead of inducers. It definitily looks like a question of point of view. Overall I'm still thinking our best bet at the moment is either ban inducers or Drought as a whole.
My reading of the UUNP thread as well as what I’ve seen on discord, is that the consensus is Venusaur is broken. It does not appear that Darm has reached a consensus. If I’m not mistaken Venusaur sees basically no competitive use outside of sun teams in UU (well at least it hasn’t in UUPL). Banning abilities should only be done in cases where they are either uncompetitive, such as moody, or so unhealthy that accommodating them requires significantly altering the list of viable Pokémon in a tier, like drizzle. Banning an ability from 4 tiers to conserve 1 Pokémon in a tier that it might not even be competitively viable in without said ability is ludicrous. What we don’t want to happen is what happened in gen 7 UU where drought was banned (just from UU because not transitivity of non-pkmn van list) in order to save Mega Houndoom, but it turned out mega houndoom was dooky in a tier without drought. Then it dropped to RU where it was possibly broken without drought and definitely was with drought so it sits in RUBL. If UU does ban Venu and that fixes the issue, problem solved, if not and darm shiftry sun or darm plume sun is still problematic then banning drought is a worthwhile discussion. Before that it just seems like a lazy excuse to get rid of something without properly assessing which part of the mechanic is actually a problem.
 

Hogg

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Why are you not looking at the possibility of quickbanning venusaur if it's such a widely agreed-upon problem in UU? Literally everyone here and from what I saw in the uu np thread agrees Venusaur is broken in sun, so it seems the problem is very clear to me. Darmanitan is brought up just as much too but (I believe) that there's people arguing that it's fine without venusaur? I dunno, I'm just bringing the perspective of someone who doesn't play UU but I do play RU and banning Drought would be very unnecessary and leave a bad taste in all lower tier players' mouths.

Reading this thread and quickly glancing over the NP thread got me to come up with 3 options over 5 seconds and I don't understand why you're not willing to do one of them:

1: quickban venusaur
2: quickban venusaur + darm
3: run a short suspect test on both venusaur and darm

Any of those options will not take longer than 10 days maximum, so why are you looking at "weeks"? Plenty of time to spare before DLC. And DLC mons are a big "if" that should be tackled the time they come around, not be considered in tiering decisions made today..
I responded to this a bit on Discord, but just so that it's here as well: all tier leaders have a specific framework we're required to follow for tests. One of those requirements is that any council vote has to have an announcement and discussion period before the vote happens, and all public suspect tests need to allow for at least two weekends for laddering. Dual suspects are also notoriously awful in general and make it really difficult to get an idea of how banworthy something is, and that's especially true in this case, where knowing how something like Darm operates on Sun without Venusaur to back it up is particularly valuable. And for that same reason, I'd want any decision on Darm to be a public test, not a council vote, as we are not in beta and it is far from a clear-cut case.

Realistically, the absolute fastest possible time from would be something like this:
  • Announce a council vote on Venusaur, to occur before the end of the week.
  • Start a public suspect on Darmanitan to begin on Friday April 24, and run it through Sunday May 3.
  • Give ~48 hours for people to vote, putting us to Tuesday May 5 or Wednesday May 6.
So in an absolutely ideal world, the earliest resolution would be in two weeks... except that during this same period, we have the UU Ladder Tour going on, which makes running suspect tests particularly difficult, since lol good luck qualifying for UULT and also laddering up a suspect alt in the same period. And that's two weeks before we can start looking at serious issues like Haxorus, Necrozma or Gardevoir, at least two of which could also end up shifting the viability of sun to make Drought even more of a problem.

Also, where exactly is the line? I think most people, myself included, can probably agree with atomicllamas's argument that if banning Venusaur alone is enough to make sun balanced, then it's an acceptable decision. But assuming we posit that, where is the line? If Venusaur is acceptable, what about Venusaur + Darmanitan? What if we ban Haxorus (the most popular First Impression user atm) and something like Shiftry rises in viability as a result? At what point do we say that we've crossed the threshold and should look at a full Drought ban instead?

And finally, I still struggle understand why Drought is considered to have "sweeping collateral damage" but other potential bans aren't. In fact, I'd argue that the absence of a ban also has the potential for collateral damage. Why is banning Venusaur and Darmanitan and Shiftry and possibly Heat Rock and Leafeon from what I'm reading from MZ's post considered void of collateral damage? And if Drought is causing multiple Pokemon across several tiers to be broken, why is it not worth considering? I understand people are pretty attached to NP Ninetales in RU but I feel like it's at least worth having a conversation.
 

Gross Sweep

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At this point I've read through this thread 3 times trying to understand all the opinions being thrown around. As I make an honest attempt at understanding policy I've spent my day reading through policy discussions and trying to figure what would be considered the best course of action from a "by the book" perspective. Before this generation all the TLs agreed upon a framework to follow for SS in the community leader forum, which I have been told is okay to quote by Hogg. When it came to a ban on something like Drought I believe this is the most relevant piece of information:

2. LOWER TIERS AND NON-POKEMON/CONDITIONAL BANS

As a general rule, non-Pokemon or conditional bans should only be occurring at the OU or site-wide level (and even then only rarely).

Tiers below OU are predicated on being restricted to a certain subset of Pokemon. This is reflected in everything from our general tiering philosophy to the PS teambuilder. When issues in our tiers arise, this means we should be looking at modifying this subset of Pokemon in order to address such issues, rather than looking at broader bans such as abilities or items.

In general, if you are leading a non-OU tier, before any non-Pokemon ban is considered, you will need to demonstrate that all other attempts at dealing with a potential issue were unsuccessful. And if an element is so broadly unhealthy that it deserves to be banned across the board, that is probably a discussion that is beyond the scope of a single tiering council.
The general gist I get from this is for a ban on Drought to be the correct decision Drought needs to lead to unhealthy developments across several metagames, and tiers need to make an attempt to resolve the issue beforehand by way of specific Pokemon bans.

Looking at it in terms of Drought leading to unhealthy developments across multiple tiers, I would say it is undeniable. UU is currently having issues which can be read about in this post and onward in the current UU discussion thread. RU banned Shiftry, which was there most prominent Chlorophyll abuser (Though it is important to note Sun has stabilized in RU since its removal). Nu has been free of issue. PU is dealing with major issues, and their tier leader is looking at the ban of Drought (Or simply Vulpix since Idk if they will be allowed to ban Drought this generation as Smogon is trying for more continuity in lower tier non-mon bans, meaning if UU bans Drought RU will not have the option to opt out) along with Heat Rock in their tier. I would call an archetype forcing 3/4 lower tiers to take action, as something that is broadly unhealthy. One could argue that banning the right abuser/s could fix the tier, I just honestly don't know if Sun is worth the effort to try and protect by way of banning abusers from multiple tiers as opposed to simply removing the constant in Drought.

Still, there is a second requirement for a ban of Drought to be in the right, which is a tier looking at other options trying to fix the issue without an ability ban. It is very clear some tiers have FAILED to do so up to this point. The policy states that a tiers council needs to demonstrate that all other attempts at dealing with a potential issue where unsuccessful.

At this point I think it's worth reminding those who've taken the time to get this far into the post that Hogg has mentioned the UU council decided to unanimously quickban Ninetales + Torkoal in an attempt to neutralize Sun, which is well within their realm of power from how I see it. This ban would also satisfy the requirement of making an attempt to fix the problem without banning something other than purely Pokemon. Meaning I see this thread as more of a courtesy based on the observation that several other tiers are struggling with a common issue "sun".

Given that UU, and PU, have done nothing trying to avoid a Drought ban to this point, I do not see a ban on Drought as the correct course of action at the moment. Though I see it as a very real possibility in the future, there are just steps in place that have yet to be taken. That said I think a council quickban of Ninetales + Torkoal is probably the better course of action for UU at the moment (just one man's opinion though), and if vulpix rises to prominence a full on Drought ban discussion can be continued as UU will have done their due diligence. I feel this is what UU would have decided to initially do. However, simply wanting to move through the process quickly to allow UULT to function as efficiently as possible, and give the chance for those that would be effected by collateral damage of the bans in lower tiers to have a say, they decided to attempt an outright Drought ban straight away. As evidenced by this thread there is a considerable amount of backlash on the idea of a Drought ban, which combined with the lack of attempt at exploring/trying out other avenues leads me to believe a ban on Drought cannot justifiably be made at this juncture. Whether or not you agree with that decision to ban Ninetales+Torkoal or prefer the council looks at Venusaur, is a different issue that probably doesn't belong in this thread but the UU forum. Either way I don't see a ban of Drought as the correct decision at this point in time, solely from a written policy perspective. If I am misinterpreting something though please let me know, have a lot less policy experience than others so it's quite possible I misunderstood some language along the way.
 

Havens

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I agree with Gross Sweep; I'm not the best versed in policy discussion either (and I'm learning!), but from my understanding of the ban process it's better to ban the Pokemon that enabled an unhealthy playstyle as it is simple in nature, to which a complex ban should be the last resort. The most recent example and controversial discussion I could recall where a weather setter(s) enabled an entire archetype to be very unhealthy was last generation when Gigalith was suspected in NU for enabling Sand teams to overcentralize the tier; granted the current situation is drastically different here because this discussion will look to influence a weather format across various tiers and not just itself. It should be noted that during that suspect there were similarities between the argument of banning the Pokemon vs. banning abilities of itself or other Pokemon which would otherwise make the playstyle healthy (banning Gigalith vs. banning Sand Stream/Sand Rush etc.) and even goes in depth a bit how playstyles with other sand setters (Hippopotas) weren't considered broken. Heck, in this thread Eternally even discusses when they had Drought Ninetales and Vulpix in NU Beta explaining how aggressive the weather is in comparison to other weathers as a talking point for banning or not banning an ability, which I believe is very important considering the overall, faster pace of this generation where offensive teams and wallbreaking are at an all time high for various tiers.
 

Adaam

Light Machoke
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While UU banned Venusaur, NU has now shown problems with Drought: https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/np-nu-stage-1-criminal-see-post-49.3660646/page-3#post-8454787.

This is the 4th time this generation Sun has proven problematic. Each tier has their own set of abusers that are candidates for banning, but the fact remains that the common denominator is Drought and always will be Drought. There has been talk about "collateral damage," but if NU goes down the path of banning the abusers, this will be the 3rd Pokemon being banned from a tier to save a cheese playstyle. PU also decided to go down the route of banning Drought, which has already caused an inconsistency among our tiering. To me, removing Pokemon after Pokemon until Sun is sufficiently nerfed in 4 different tiers is far less optimal than just nipping the problem at its source.

Some people have dismissed the fear of revisiting Drought when the DLC drops, as we do not tier based on future drops. However, we are treading brand new waters this generation with the release of Home + 2 batches of DLC. I don't think we should pretend that the future is not gonna happen and collectively decide to revisit this in 2 months. There is a very, very significant chance Sun is going to be broken again as each low tier gets new candidates for abusing Drought. I would much rather be proactive and get rid of Drought now than wait around for it to rear its head for the fifth time this gen.

For reference, here are some replays of Sun just dominating in UU/NU. I don't have any of RU or PU currently.

NU:
FLCL vs Eternally
snaga vs Adaam
Rabia vs ggggd

UU:
Skysolo vs ggggd Lmao pablo nooo don't lose to sun again :psysad:
Adaam vs EternalSnowman
TDK vs Accelgor
 
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Finchinator

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The NU Council is actively discussing the topic of Drought in the SS NU metagame. We are not afraid to act on it if we deem action appropriate. We appreciate people posting both here and in the NP thread to give us a larger frame of reference.
 

Hogg

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So just to be clear, we are now at the point where literally every single lower tier has had to address Drought in some capacity, and if the NU council moves forward with any Drought-related bans, then every single tier will have had to issue bans because of Drought as well. I think it's pretty clear that this is a pervasive problem not keyed to any particular abuser, but to Drought as a whole.
 

phantom

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The collateral damage point is being largely misunderstood and misses the broader question in the conversation: why make a sweeping ban when you don’t have to, especially knowing the implications it would have? I also think it’s extremely silly to justify a sweeping ban in one tier based on how said ability performed in another that operates on a completely different power level. Different tiers have different resources available to them to deal with these types of abilities. If NU/PU need to make multiple bans to rectify whatever issues they’re having with sun and have to ban the ability (as well as Heat Rock in PU’s case) as a result, then so be it. If UU/RU only need to ban one thing so that Drought is no longer a problem, then why still push for a sweeping ban? I don’t think arguing that it could be broken in the future so it should be banned now makes any sense at all, either. You can make the point that maybe when the DLCs drop there could be a broken abuser, but likewise, there could also be new tools available to help deal with said abuser. The takeaway here is: you don’t know what’s going to happen. Tiering based on theoretical metagames is just nonsense and distracts from the larger argument at hand. Speaking for my tier in particular, I also disagree that “Drought as a whole” is a problem when it was very clearly the one single abuser that could be considered broken. I understand that UU recently banned Venusaur and it’s not in my interest to try and force UU to “preserve” Drought, but I question whether the push to ban Drought in UU is based on whether or not it’s still overpowered after the Venu ban or if it’s just a reaction to NU’s recent announcement.
 

Adaam

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The collateral damage point is being largely misunderstood and misses the broader question in the conversation: why make a sweeping ban when you don’t have to, especially knowing the implications it would have? I also think it’s extremely silly to justify a sweeping ban in one tier based on how said ability performed in another that operates on a completely different power level. Different tiers have different resources available to them to deal with these types of abilities. If NU/PU need to make multiple bans to rectify whatever issues they’re having with sun and have to ban the ability (as well as Heat Rock in PU’s case) as a result, then so be it. If UU/RU only need to ban one thing so that Drought is no longer a problem, then why still push for a sweeping ban? I don’t think arguing that it could be broken in the future so it should be banned now makes any sense at all, either. You can make the point that maybe when the DLCs drop there could be a broken abuser, but likewise, there could also be new tools available to help deal with said abuser. The takeaway here is: you don’t know what’s going to happen. Tiering based on theoretical metagames is just nonsense and distracts from the larger argument at hand. Speaking for my tier in particular, I also disagree that “Drought as a whole” is a problem when it was very clearly the one single abuser that could be considered broken. I understand that UU recently banned Venusaur and it’s not in my interest to try and force UU to “preserve” Drought, but I question whether the push to ban Drought in UU is based on whether or not it’s still overpowered after the Venu ban or if it’s just a reaction to NU’s recent announcement.
If NU decides to ban Drought, this "sweeping ban" wouldn't really be sweeping. RU would be the only tier of the 4 lower tiers to not ban/want to ban Drought. We need to stop pretending that Drought is some super prevalent ability. Banning Drought in UU would do one thing and one thing only: nerf Ninetales in RU (it should really be Torkoal but I don't know why our ladder uses it over Ninetales). How is this "sweeping" but banning Venusaur is not? They effect an equal amount of Pokemon.

"Different tiers have different resources available to them to deal with these types of abilities. If NU/PU need to make multiple bans to rectify whatever issues they’re having with sun and have to ban the ability (as well as Heat Rock in PU’s case) as a result, then so be it."

This is doesn't make sense to me. What resources do we have that every other tier doesn't? Is NU/PU given a pass to ban abilities at will cause it doesn't affect RU? We all follow the same tiering philosophy and it's confusing when half of the lower tiers banned Drought and the other half banned the abusers.
 

phantom

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If NU decides to ban Drought, this "sweeping ban" wouldn't really be sweeping. RU would be the only tier of the 4 lower tiers to not ban/want to ban Drought. We need to stop pretending that Drought is some super prevalent ability. Banning Drought in UU would do one thing and one thing only: nerf Ninetales in RU (it should really be Torkoal but I don't know why our ladder uses it over Ninetales). How is this "sweeping" but banning Venusaur is not? They effect an equal amount of Pokemon.

"Different tiers have different resources available to them to deal with these types of abilities. If NU/PU need to make multiple bans to rectify whatever issues they’re having with sun and have to ban the ability (as well as Heat Rock in PU’s case) as a result, then so be it."

This is doesn't make sense to me. What resources do we have that every other tier doesn't? Is NU/PU given a pass to ban abilities at will cause it doesn't affect RU? We all follow the same tiering philosophy and it's confusing when half of the lower tiers banned Drought and the other half banned the abusers.
- It’s a sweeping ban because it implicates multiple tiers, not just an individual one. Arguing that banning Venusaur is the same as banning Drought is just factually incorrect. Banning Venusaur from UU had 0 bearing on the tiers below it whereas banning Drought would. That’s the entire reason why it’s going to a PR thread and why individual tiers can no longer unilaterally ban non-Pokemon elements because it has an affect on more than one meta.

- Different tiers have different resources available to them is pretty much exactly what it says. The same abusers that were broken in PU/NU (Leafeon/Maractus for example) weren’t making waves in RU because the increased power level makes every other abuser except the one that was banned manageable. I don’t think tiering based on what other lower tiers did makes any sense because they had different reasons for why they cut straight to an ability ban instead of going after the abuser. My point still stands: why make a sweeping ban when you don’t have to?
 

MrAldo

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If RU is the only tier that doesnt need to ban drought as a whole cause of the metagame dynamics and what not then... what is exactly the problem in here? Like, this isnt to toot an RU horn saying that we are best than any other in here, but deciding on a sweeping ban just because the vast majority thinks drought is a problem is irresponsible when ofc you have the option sitting above everyone else.

Lets use the reverse rhetoric for example, lets assume for a moment that RU is above everybody else in tiering decisions and usage, we decide we arent banning drought therefore tiers below cant do anything about it and have to stick a figurative pole of their bum. They wouldnt like that ofc. Tiers should be welcomed to do their own tiering decisions and apply the fixes they deem necessary to fix their tier. Not let somebody do some backseat decisions just because they are convenient atm. Many times transitivity decisions can affect the meta that isnt having a problem with a specific move the upper metagame is having tons of issues with so lets not be hypocritical about it, especially in a time where DLCs could just screw everything over.

IMO, let the metagame do what they need to do, and I dont see UU complaining about shiftry sweeping teams, maybe about darmanitan but idk if it is something of drought more like darm being hella crazy on its own merits, 2hkos most of the tier with choice band and very little prediction involved. Im not hear to make callouts, just to make sense of the situation and not to overreact on this situation and be like pressing that button right away.
 

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