Let's Reach a Final Verdict on Trapping

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Yung Dramps

pawsome gaming
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We once again find ourselves in a familiar situation: After months of deliberation and meta shifts, Arena Trap has been banned out of the OU metagame yet again. Earlier on this generation, Shadow Tag was also allowed for a very brief time period, but it was quickly done away with as well, within days as a matter of fact.

As a bit of a review, here are all the decisions on these two abilities that have preceded this.

Gen 5: Arena Trap retroactively suspected and banned, Shadow Tag retroactively suspected and banned

Gen 6:
Arena Trap retroactively suspected and banned, Shadow Tag suspected and banned

Gen 7: Arena Trap suspected and banned, Shadow Tag quickbanned

Gen 8: Arena Trap suspected and banned, Shadow Tag quickbanned

As you can see, the track record for these abilities is utterly abysmal. Out of what have been essentially 8 chances for either one to stick around as a healthy part of some OU meta, there have been only 3 situations where one or both abilities survived to the end of the generation, and all 3 of them ended up getting overturned later on once people figured out how to optimally abuse the capabilities of trapping. This is especially damning considering the overall aversion to retroactive tiering bar extreme, blatantly unhealthy situations like Sleep in BW or unusual circumstances like the DPP Ubers Arceus controversy. There have been bans that go back generations that would kill to have so many second chances. Ever since Blaziken was banned in BW, for instance, we have never looked back on it, not even in Gen 7 when there were fringe groups arguing that the meta’s power level had risen up enough for at least a suspect test to be warranted.

As I will explain soon the road to these choices (especially in the case of Arena Trap) was not controversy free, but I think one thing the vast majority agree on is that we can’t keep doing this shit every generation. We can’t just continue to waste the valuable first few months of future metagames regurgitating the same talking points on how bad trapping is, should we allow Diglett and Trapinch or not, so on and so forth until the end of Smogon’s lifespan. And this is why I have decided to make this thread; to provide a place where we can put this issue that has haunted our tiers since the advent of Team Preview to rest.

Now, at first the answer seems clear: the experiment has failed, preserving universal trapping in Smogon Singles is a lost cause, just keep it in the initial banlist for the generations to come. And y’know what? In a now-scrapped draft of this post I had a far more aggressive tone basically asking for exactly that. But more recently I have warmed up a bit to the idea of just banning the worst offenders and keeping around the more balanced trappers. We all know that Gothitelle and Dugtrio are unsalvageable, but as far as I know we have never had a meta where just Gothita is allowed, or a team preview meta where we gave Wynaut/Wobbuffet a whirl without Goth existing. Now, on the flipside there is the failed Gen 7 Dugtrio suspect test, where people experimented with Diglett and Trapinch and found they could have the same meta-warping power. I personally am still staunchly pro-banning trapping entirely, but unlike that first draft I now recognize this perspective as something worth looking into rather than something I formerly cast aside as ignorant and invalid. Just look at the discussion about Dugtrio in the OU On The Radar thread: There were definitely a fair share of people saying that banning AT as a whole was an overreaction, so it’s not cut and dry in the slightest.

Really, I think that in order to make some progress towards the final verdict on the matter this thread is looking for, we as a community need to come to the following consensus: Is near-universal trapping in 6v6, Team Preview Singles inherently uncompetitive? As for the answer to that it’d involve a lot of scouring and analysis of our policies I am not qualified to do. For that step and the others to come, I leave that to the readers.
Switching is and always has been one of the most important parts of keeping Pokémon competitive, and is quite frankly probably *the* mechanic keeping this game playable. Whenever the option to stop someone from switching has come up, it has always lead to really dumb, degenerate ways of playing and building. Sometimes this is almost tolerable if what they can trap is limited enough, but it’s always a trade off of “is it worth weakening my team to absolutely fuck this over in a way they can’t respond to.” Shed shell isn’t an adequate solution, and honestly never was.

We’ve seen it time and time again; in 4 generations of OU, in LC, in Gen 7 ubers with Hypnotrap Gar, among others, in monotype, in any OM you care to name. Trapping, especially on the scale allowed by shadow tag and arena trap, is antithetical to the kind of metagames we like to play, and it’s past time we started treating it as such.


Banned deucer.
In regard to Dugtrio - the mons that enable it (or are massively enabled by it) aren't going to be leaving anytime soon, therefore Dug will still be doing the same thing it does for generations to come. Whatever you point the blame on for making Dug banworthy, whether it's team preview, mons/mechs making it too good, or it making other Pokemon too good will not be changing, so I fully agree we should just put the nail in the coffin because it's a bit of a time waste spending half a year (2 gens in a row) before deciding Arena Trap should go.


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I am happy to start next generation off with Arena Trap and Shadow Tag banned if I am still tier leader and all else remains the same. With that said, this is very much not a discussion for right now. This is a discussion for closer to generation 9; there is no telling what can change in terms of Pokemon released and functionality in the meantime. Seeing as we experienced unprecedented shifts between generations in terms of Pokemon availability and even some things being removed from the game, I would much prefer to hold off on these decisions.

Also, I think the OP neglects to mention things like the initial Dugtrio suspect last generation resulting in no ban, which is probably noteworthy as the shift in effective applications of Arena Trap and community perception towards it happens to occur all during the middle of last generation (we also retroactively banned Arena Trap from the prior two generations during generation 7, as the OP notes). What I am trying to say is that a lot can change over time, especially when we are dealing with unknown variables that come with a new generation. I can say that it is something we will consider and something that we are likely to start on the ban list, but having this conversation now is premature and coming to a conclusion now is also premature.


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I still stand by my previous statement that this site has a goth+dugtrio problem rather than a trapping problem, but Finch is right that discussing this for generation 9 is far too premature at this point.

I would hope the council has the foresight to experiment with making initial bans Pokemon level rather an ability level ones going into generation 9, as in the time since the initial Shadow Tag suspect in generation 6 I have yet to see a single convincing argument for why trapping is supposedly an “inherent problem,” but that’s a topic for then rather than now.
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