Announcement Dynamax is banned from OU - Explanation & Information

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Finchinator

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The OU council recognizes that Smogon is a large institution within the realm of competitive Pokemon battling. Additionally, we understand that banning a core mechanic such as Dynamaxing will have a substantial impact on the competitive landscape of this generation throughout our metagames and perhaps other formats. Given this, we would like to use this thread to explain the ban of Dynamax as well as provide any relevant information for the sake of clarity and transparency.

While Dynamax will be banned from the SS OU metagame and tiers below it such as UU, we do not require individuals to follow our set of rules and restrictions in their own casual battles and non-Smogon affiliated tournaments. We recognize that we are not an official Nintendo format. Our tiering infrastructure is only in place for Smogon metagames; our ultimate goal from a tiering perspective is to create a competitively balanced metagame that prioritizes player skill as a determinant of who ultimately wins each battle. Removing Dynamax from our metagames helps us accomplish this goal, but that does not mean that you must adhere to this ban or our set of rules and restrictions in general if you are not playing official Smogon formats through Smogon tournaments or the official ladders on PS. There are still other formats in which using the Dynamax mechanic is usable. For example, both Ubers and National Dex OU currently allow for Dynamax to be used, or if you wish to play a less restricted game, then you can play alongside your friends using the Custom Game format.

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Dynamax was voted on and banned through a process known as suspecting. The process of a suspect involves opening up a formal discussion thread, such as the one here, and conducting a vote among qualified players after the suspect period is over. Qualification is gained through doing well on the ladder, specifically by achieving a GXE of 81 or higher with a minimum of 40 games. Therefore, individuals who will determine the results of any given suspect will only be doing so through playing their way to an impressive win-loss ratio over a decent sample size of games, thus proving their levels of competency and understanding in order to vote. The list of qualified voters can be found in this thread, an explanation of the ladder rating process can be found in this thread, and the ultimate vote can be found in this thread.

The reasoning behind the Dynamax ban involves the increase in power, the impact of the secondary effects each type's move has, the defensive merit gained through doubling the HP of any Dynamax user, and the element of unpredictability that comes alongside being able to Dynamax with any Pokemon at any point of the game. As Jajoken touches on in his post here, crusty discusses in his post here, and Colonel M alludes to throughout his post here many of the max moves can be devastating and they can be fired off repeatedly while the user's bulk is increased twofold. There is no true limit to how potent Dynamax moves can be given that each type provides different benefits that can potentially be game-changing; some of the most versatile Pokemon that are already great in the current metagame are made much stronger due to this, which makes finding reliable counterplay a virtual impossibility at times, as touched on by peng in his post here. B1001 also goes into detail on the various effects and benefits of Dynamax moves beyond sheer power and versatility in his post here. The ability for some of the most threatening Pokemon in the game to fire off consecutive boosted attacks, especially without being confined to a choice lock, opens up a lot of unmanageable breaking possibilities. In addition, you also are immune to being phased out, Encored, and Disabled while bypassing Protect to do 1/4th damage like Z-moves. However, this is just the start as the secondary effects that occur through using a move of any type oftentimes lead to the the game largely being decided by this three-turn sequence, especially if the Dynamaxed Pokemon has the ability to use specific boosts to snowball into a sweep. The sweeping aspect of Dynamaxing is so problematic that Ditto has quickly risen to the near the top of the usage statistics, which is a sign of a problematic metagame state as outlined by this post by Darvin. This overwhelming prospect is also bolstered by the fact that Dynamaxed Pokemon have double the HP, allowing for many offensive Pokemon to avoid being taken out by otherwise troublesome threats as well as opening up the game to many defensive exploits of Dynamaxing.

While all of this is cause for concern, the biggest reason for banning Dynamax is perhaps the unpredictability that comes alongside it. moocows correctly identifies that we prioritize skillful play and minimizing guesswork and variance in his post here while also explaining that Dynamax being present allows for a lot of variance due to the nature of the mechanic and its unpredictability. As ABR has stated, the uses of Dynamax apply to any Pokemon at any time. No matter what specific Pokemon we try to get rid of (or even more narrowly prevent from Dynamaxing), the remaining set of Pokemon that can Dynamax will always be problematic. It goes way beyond "Gyarados and Hawlucha are terrifying sweepers due to their Dynamax moves." Anything with a choice item has the option of breaking the otherwise abusable lock by activating its Dynamax. Any concept of consistency or stability goes out the window when the Pokemon on the losing side of the 1v1 can flip that around with Dynamax. The existence of Dynamax lessens competitive strategy and rewards short term bursts of prediction. Without the thought or planning going into team deduction, set speculation, and how they relate to strategies regarding what beats what, the game cannot meet the standards of our competitive community. For more reasoning from members of the council, I would recommend reading through this post.

On top of this, we would like to add that this suspect has grouped Dynamaxing with Gigantamaxing as they are the same mechanic, but with the latter only being usable on a smaller pool of Pokemon. In the games themselves, they function in the same way and are used through the same exact mechanism within the battle. Tiering them separately was not something we wished to entertain and Gigantamaxing will also be banned alongside Dynamaxing moving forward. We did not wish to employ any arbitrarily picked restriction on the level of Dynamax or an alternative approach of banning an arbitrarily selected group of Pokemon as it will simply lead to recurring bans and the metagame being continuously compromised by the presence of Dynamax and/or Gigantamax.

Despite the competitive ramifications of Dynamax, it is true that individuals throughout the community, including a minority of voters, believed that Dynamax should remain in the SS OU metagame. One of the most common arguments on its behalf was that removing a core mechanic would strip the generation of its identity. While we do understand that there may be some individual preference favoring mechanical preservation such as this, we still believe that finding a competitive balance is the first and foremost priority of tiering. Preserving a metagame that has player skill as the main determinant of the outcome of battles is of greater importance than preserving a mechanic to align the generation's identity with, which we deem unnecessary. As Lerart and TDK touched on here, there are noteworthy, fundamental difference between this core mechanic and others from recent generations. You cannot change the Pokemon holding a Z-Crystal or Mega Stone, but you can Dynamax with any Pokemon. Another argument that has been made is that Dynamax may promote short term bursts in power, but it also promotes more pro-active play and the metagame without it may be more passive when compared to past generations. While we realize that the metagame in the aftermath of this ban may take time to develop and require further tiering action, that will always be on the table and we will do everything within our power as a tiering council to promote a metagame that is highly competitive. We cannot keep one element deemed banworthy just to avoid others from arising; instead, we will go through the generation knowing that we may need to remove numerous things in order to find the right overall balance for the metagame. Because of this, you should also keep your eyes open for future discussions and potential suspects moving forward if you are an active player of the SS OU metagame!

Thank you to MattL for the suggestion to make this post!
 
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