Metagame Metagame Discussion Thread


burn the midnight oil
is a Contributor Alumnus
Out of curiosity for the current state of Gen 8 LC, I am looking at LCPL games to start gathering some statistics. The google doc with the replays/videos I analyzed can be found here. I have analyzed the first two weeks, with 32 games in total.

Of 64 Teams, 92% of teams were some variation of Poison-type / Fighting-type / Flying-type (usually Vullaby) / Vullaby answer (usually Onix or Pawniard) / Filler / Filler. The filler slots are predominately dominated by trappers (Diglett and Trapinch), Ferroseed, Grookey, fast Special Attackers (Abra, Staryu, Ponyta-G, Scarf Porygon), and Scraggy. Magnemite appears here and there, too.

Of 30 of the game analyzed (I tossed two from the sample pool because they were weird af games, but they wouldn't dramatically affect the ratio regardless), the winrate for clicking Knock Off before the opponent is 73.34%. In games where both players clicked Knock Off on the same turn, I counted the player who clicked it next before their opponent as the player who clicked it "first." Note that in three of the losses, the player who won clicked Knock Off more than the loser despite not clicking it first.

Struggle has a 100% winrate so far, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

I will post more statistics as LCPL progresses. I am also going to analyze games more for additional trends (I hypothesize that the WR of switching Mareanie into Mienfoo/Timburr's Knock Off is quite low, but I am waiting for a larger sample size). I will also evaluate the implications of what I am learning in regards to Vullaby, Porygon, metagame trends, and Knock Off, but don't expect that post until I have a larger sample size.


SFG is cute
is a Tiering Contributor
I've been maining LC for almost 3 years now, and I believe this is the first time I make a post to write my thoughts about the metagame. I think this shows how important the purpose of my speech is to my eyes.

We should definitely suspect vullaby right now. Firstly, as it has already been said, if we suspect the bird and if it gets banned, we will still have a couple weeks of lcpl to play the new metagame before scl, whereas if we wait too much time we will start the scl in a totally new tier, which is definitely not a good thing from my point of view. If the suspect goes up by this weekend, we have 1 month of lcpl after the suspect results, which is a significant amount of time.

Secondly, the meta has been changing since the previous suspect test, and vullaby is even stronger now. Indeed, with the notable rise of stuff like foongus, frillish, timburr or ponyta-galar without dazzling gleam, vullaby is becoming more and more threatening. The bird also benefits of the decline of webs, for two main reasons: staryu's popularity has dropped slightly, and the fact that most of the webs threats had a way to deal with vullaby, like the LO grookey's +2 wood hammer which was just laying the bird down.

Lastly, the tier has always been adapting to vullaby. There has always been counterplays and lures to vullaby, like 15 def Foo (this one can live a brave bird from Ada vull and kill the bird with fake out and hjk thanks to weak armor), but right now most of these counterplays are unviable. This leads to a metagame in which vullaby can not be lured efficiently. Therefore, there is no other way to deal with vullaby than running either pawn or onix. However, these two are just made useless by trapinch, which can easily trap them both with vulla's u-turn. Also, when you go pawniard on vullaby, you are always risking a nasty plot set which could easily win the game if it nps on the switch. Moreover, vullaby can deal with pawniard on his own thanks to heat wave.

As a conclusion, I do think that vullaby needs to be suspected right now.



Liever Kips leverworst
is a Tiering Contributor
As for Vullaby, I believed it was unhealthy for the metagame before, and I've consistently been reinforced in that belief since. Regular offensive pivot Vullaby is still capable of swinging games around immensely, making progress every time it hits the field and making people think twice of their every U-turn and Fake Out, lest they activate Weak Armor. I also still believe Nasty Plot Vullaby has too many options with Endure and Roost to play it's way around would-be checks like First Impression Trapinch for it to be a healthy sweeper in this tier. In addition to that, Vullaby has recently adopted a lead-oriented set, aiming to get in early and take advantage of it's strengths immediately. The LCPL game between Serene Grace and Jox shows the menace that is lead Vullaby, making huge progress and creating an early game advantage that is very hard (in this game, too hard) to overcome. I think Vullaby is nowhere near healthy and should be considered for a resuspect.

As for Porygon, I am not yet sure how I feel about it. I very much understand it's strengths, Tri attack is a very dumb move that makes progress no matter what you try, and it has coverage to 2hko all resists to the move after a Download boost. This makes playing against it very frustrating and difficult, and to a degree, Porygon restricts teambuilding. That said, it has some shortcomings. Eviolite Agility sets can not fit the coverage to hit all checks, which is even more apparent if Porygon packs Recover to outlast Pawniard. Scarf sets can afford to bring all coverage necessary, but will struggle switching into anything due to the lost bulk of Eviolite and the lack of resistances whatsoever. It can also be unattractive to switch in Scarf Porygon to pick up a revenge kill if the opponent has a Grookey or a Timburr in the back, since it will be forced out and lose momentum immediately after. I also don't think it is hard to scout what Porygon set is being used on a team, so I don't think unpredictability plays a factor in determining Porygon's brokenness. Whether these downsides are enough to keep it healthy in the tier, I'm not yet sure of myself. It's clear that it's an excellent pokémon and if it turns out to be overwhelming after all, I wouldn't be surprised.
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save the ocean
is a Tiering Contributoris the defending LC Circuit Champion
Hello, my name is kythr and I have been actively involved in the lc tournament scene for the past year. Although this is my first post in the lc discussion thread, I do have a lot of thoughts regarding vullaby and the current state of the meta that I have accumulated throughout my time engaging in this great community.

I would like to preface by stating that I am arguing solely for the purpose of vullaby being resuspected. Whether or not vullaby should be banned is a different question within itself.

Vullaby is suspect test worthy and the existence of its previous test proves this. The team building restrictions it imposes and the effectiveness to which its multitude of sets can run through an opposing team directly corroborate with smogon's definition of a mon being "broken" or "unhealthy" for a metagame. Yet vullaby was not banned. Although I did not vote in the aforementioned test, I actually believe that this was a fair result. However, things have changed since then. In this post I will make my best attempt at addressing the main argument against a vullaby resuspect, that being: The meta has not changed enough since the past suspect test.

In order to illustrate the trends the metagame has taken between now and February I will be heavily referencing usage statistics from lcwc II, the most recent lc team tour before the vullaby suspect, and the usage stats for the first two weeks of lcpl, the most recent lc team tour after the vullaby suspect test. Big thank you to Eseque for having these statistics readily available to the public.

The Realization:
In my eyes, the single biggest metagame trend that emerged between lcwc and now has been the realization & rise of pony-g, and to a lesser extent, life orb abra. Pony-g's usage has rocketed from 5% in lcwc to almost 18% in the first two weeks of lcpl (abra from 19% to 24%). While pony-g's direct effect on vullaby is debatable (both mons are able to actively offensively pressure each other), its effect on team composition has been hugely beneficial to vull. Onix core teams typically consist of: fighter/poison/onix/vull/ferro, all of which get 2hko'd by 3 attack pony-g. Therefore these standard mold onix teams have become more difficult and risky use. Onix is the only clear vull counter in the tier, and with onix cores trending downward happy days for vullaby have ensued.

In response to pony-g, the meta has shifted in 2 ways - pawniard and frillish. And again these trends favor vullaby. Referencing the usage stats, we see a 5% increase in pawn usage in lcpl from lcwc, and corresponding 4% decrease in onix usage between lcwc and lcpl. Pawniard makes sense in response to a rise in pony-g & abra as it is both a dark/steel type and lends role compression by also being able to somewhat check porygon. This in turn frees up another slot, typically for a trapper, that can then also handle pony-g/abra. However this increase in pawn and decrease in onix has lead to better matchups for vull, not only because the only vull check is seeing less usage, but because vull can easily beat pawniard. I will talk more about the reasoning behind this later, but vullaby has recently been running a new mixed spread with heat wave+protect over defog and uturn. This spread 2hko's pawniard >75% of the time (knock into heat wave) and is able to decimate pawn core teams if used properly.

The other response to ponyg has been the rise of frillish (2% to 6%). Frillish provides an interesting "substitute" for ferroseed on onix core teams. It's able to defensively check ponyg and porygon to a certain extent, however it is a much more malleable mon. It cannot encompass the same utility use that ferroseed provides, failing to check foongus, mareanie, and LO abra effectively. It goes without saying that this rise in frillish further benefits vull even against onix core teams as it does not take a knock off well. Being weaker defensively also means that frillish is forced to click recover often, granting free turns for a vullaby switch if played smartly. Whereas vullabys would need to think twice before switching into a seed's twave or knock off, a well played vullaby can get free switches on frillish by predicting the recover rather than wisp after a staryu tbolt on the switch for example.

The Aftermath of Woobat:
I think my friend Xizaaa covers this point well in his post above, but the most obvious change in the meta from an outside perspective since the vull suspect has been the ban of woobat, and the consequential fall in cheese (sticky web/set up spam) archetypal teams. Webs (dewpider) usage has fallen off from 8% to 1%, triggering a drop in staryu by 6% as the need of rapid spin has declined. Again this favors vull as staryu acts, in a similar way to porygon, as an offensive check to vull. Furthermore, this results in less pressure for vull to run defog sets. Teams can easily get away with running no removal as webs are now virtually gone, and ferroseed, the only viable spiker in the tier, has declined in usage by 9% due to aforementioned reasons. With less necessity for defog, vull can now run these 3 attacks + protect, or 4 attacks sets that include heat wave as I referenced above. And again, pawn usage is rising in coordination with onix usage dropping, which favors vull as this new mixed set, and your standard np vull, is able to down pawn in 2 turns.

A secondary response to the drop off in webs and set up spam teams has been the decline in usage of grookey. With woobat gone, grookey has lost its favorite partner in crime. This creates an interesting change in dynamic for vullaby as vullaby is one of the few mons in the tier that actually holds a positive matchup against most grookey sets. Grookey works well with every fighter in the tier as they are able to jointly pressure and chip down opposing poison type mons. Therefore, it was common to see vull act as the temporary check for grookey to relieve the role of double checking for these poison types. However, with a drop in grookey usage (29% to 17%), vullaby is now less often required to fill this defensive niche. Its berry juice is no longer being consumed after switching into a grassy glide and rocks, but is used to eat a hit after it has knocked off your mienfoo, timburr, pawn, etc.

Vullaby now plays a much more offensive role in sslc than it did 6 months ago. In lcwc's meta, its role was much more comparable to a landorus-t in ou. It did everything you needed it to all in one set. Offensive pressure, defensive switchin, hazard remover, pivot support, and a set up sweeper. But the shift in the meta, stemming from the resurgence of psychic types and the woobat ban, resulting in a steady favoring of pawn core teams and a decline in usage of ferroseed, staryu and grookey, has created a perfect storm for vullaby to narrow in on its offensive strengths. This new vullaby is much more potent - it will break down your defensive core or outright sweep you.

  • people figure out ponyg (and lo abra) is good after lcwc because it shreds onix-ferro core teams
  • less onix and ferro and more pawn and more frillish = good for vullaby
  • woobat is banned meaning less webs and cheese
  • less webs and cheese mean lesser need for removal and less grookey
  • less need for removal means less staryu = good for vullaby
  • less need for defog means vull can run heatwave = sad pawniard
  • less grookey = more room for vull to function offensively
Please resuspect vullaby, and do it soon. Thank you.
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you guys should suspect vull and regen and everything repetitive and annoying that's maintained over the past 3 years. I truly don't understand how people can play a tier where the majority of the teams are the exact same between the generations and it is honestly the biggest turnoff for a tier to be like this

throughout my many years of pokemon, the only time I was hyped to play LC was when I was 13 and made a ladder team of chimchar bulbasaur and squirtle. I've played many LCPL, many slams and they are always the most mid experience of all time. I'm sure a lot of other "tour regulars" can agree with this cuz LC is a very in-group kind of community and you probably never see a tour player switch from their tier to LC cuz they enjoy it and can see themselves grinding it

obviously I'm not a TD, but if I was I would bar LC from every official tournament just cuz of how damn boring it is. the biggest tier because of how many baby mons there are but only 10 are viable

this can be taken as flame against the tier but I'm just sharing my honest opinion as someone who's played enough LC to have one. it feels like there's limitless potential to make a tier based on only base-form level 5 pokemon to be fun but somehow it just ain't

Among Us
going off of what lax said above every LC game right now feels extremely similar simply because a lot of the top mons, but first and foremost Vullaby, make basically guaranteed progress. Knock | Brave Bird | Heat Wave | (any 4th move, usually Protect) Vullaby + Trapinch for Onix has absolutely 0 reliable answers*, and Berry Juice + Weak Armor gives Vulla an opportunity to enter the field in basically any game.

* with 156 Atk and SpAtk EVs Vullaby can KO standard Pawniard (11/16*15/16 + 1/16*5/16) = 70% of the time with Knock + Heat Wave (assuming Heat Wave hits and not factoring in crit / burn chances)

this is a set and pokemon that there is basically no reason to ever drop. Even without trapinch it's easy to pair this with partners that pressure onix further (koffing, spikes, vulpix, pawniard) and partners that switch into and threaten it (staryu, grookey, special breakers like porygon and pony-galar, etc) to ensure that you're making huge progress even if they have the 1 mon that switches in and doesn't immediately fold.

lc was honestly one of my favorite tiers this slam but it's definitely insane for every team to have a mon whose best counter is... itself. it invalidates defensive cores by basically forcing people to sack pawniard for rocks at best (and a dead pawn at worse) and then lose to everything pawn was supposed to check, run onix and end up on the backfoot from vullaby's partners, or toss out something else.


porygon, by contrast, seems to fall into the mold of 'good but manageable breaker' which is common to many tiers; other LC examples exist, such as abra, ponyta-galar, and staryu, which have a great speed tier without relying on choice scarf lock and, in the case of the psychics, have much better coverage. i don't think it is anywhere near the same level as vullaby and i believe conducting a porygon suspect first would be a huge mistake.


encore encore encore
is a Tiering Contributor
you guys should suspect vull and regen and everything repetitive and annoying that's maintained over the past 3 years. I truly don't understand how people can play a tier where the majority of the teams are the exact same between the generations and it is honestly the biggest turnoff for a tier to be like this

throughout my many years of pokemon, the only time I was hyped to play LC was when I was 13 and made a ladder team of chimchar bulbasaur and squirtle. I've played many LCPL, many slams and they are always the most mid experience of all time. I'm sure a lot of other "tour regulars" can agree with this cuz LC is a very in-group kind of community and you probably never see a tour player switch from their tier to LC cuz they enjoy it and can see themselves grinding it

obviously I'm not a TD, but if I was I would bar LC from every official tournament just cuz of how damn boring it is. the biggest tier because of how many baby mons there are but only 10 are viable

this can be taken as flame against the tier but I'm just sharing my honest opinion as someone who's played enough LC to have one. it feels like there's limitless potential to make a tier based on only base-form level 5 pokemon to be fun but somehow it just ain't

Among Us

I believe one of the bigger reasons not many tour players switch to LC is because people gravitate towards what they're good at. LC functions quite differently to other tiers and so, if you're used to level 100, it requires more commitment to learn and understand - it's not easy for someone who's used to playing higher tiers to just pick up LC and do well, and there's countless examples to back this up.

Please don't blindly attribute this to the quality of the tier. Someone who understands LC will not only know that regen isn't a problem nor a point of contention, but will also probably agree with me when I say most of SS has been enjoyable.

That being said, I think vull is worth resuspecting and very much agree with kythr's post. The rise of pory has made vull a much bigger problem than before by enforcing more pawn usage over onix.
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burn the midnight oil
is a Contributor Alumnus
I am currently grinding my way through the LCWC II games collecting data. And after watching a whole bunch of replays from LCWC II and LCPL, in addition to reading some of y’alls well-written posts, laddering myself, and watching some other misc games, I feel well-versed enough to opine on the state of Little Cup’s metagame. This is probably going to be a long post, so grab a sandwich or something.

A lot of this post is going to be common knowledge for experienced LC players, but that is somewhat the point. I want this post to be accessible for people who, like myself, only got into Gen 8 LC relatively recently and have an interest in the metagame’s trends and the general mood of its player-base.

On Vullaby:
Simply put, Vullaby is the SwSh LC equivalent of GSC Snorlax, and this is NOT based on the fact they both have insanely high tournament usage relative to their metagame. It is because, like Snorlax, GSC Vullaby is simultaneously the best offensive and defensive Pokemon in the tier, often using the same set for both roles. And unlike GSC Zapdos, who really only has two sets (RestTalk and Whirlwind variants) Vullaby has a far greater degree of versatility in movesets that allow it to pressure or outright beat its supposed answers, much like GSC Snorlax. And from the defensive perspective, it is pretty much unrivaled. Little Cup is a metagame with Fighting-types that you need to pressure offensively, Arena Trap, Foongus, and Grookey. The best type that reliably answers these threats is Flying (and Arena Trap immune Poisons, aka Koffing, but let’s put a pin in that one) and most of the Flying-types in Little Cup suck giga dong.

The majority of the Flying-types in SwSh are early-game trash birds or Pokemon with otherwise low BSTs (RIP Noibat). Currently, only 4 Flying-types are viable: Vullaby, Natu, Archen, and Wingull. Natu is pretty much just a Screener and is ultra vulnerable to Knock Off, so we can count it out. Archen has a horrible ability, yes, but the bigger problem is its neutral to Fighting while also being neutral to Grass, meaning it can’t reliably check the Grookster. And Wingull, while offensively potent, is also neutral to Grass and has to rely on hitting Hurricane, often multiple times. So that leaves us with Vullaby as the only consistent choice for a Flying-type in a metagame where Flying is a really, REALLY strong typing.

The problem with Vullaby is that the very metagame it is so good at taking advantage of also supports it immensely. The natural answers to Flying are Steel, Electric, and Rock. Most Electric-types have doodoo stats, and all of them take a bunch of Vullaby’s Dark STAB while still being vulnerable to Diglett, so they aren’t consistent. Vullaby potentially has Heat Wave for the Steel-types, and every single Steel-type hates Knock Off, so count them out too. Which leaves the Rock-types, who are weak to the aforementioned Grookey and ubiquitous Fighters, while also being vulnerable to boosted Dark Pulse and disliking Knock Off. Onix’s 17 Speed tier and wonderful selection of abilities make it by far the best choice, but it's still exploitable.

The result is the kind of rock-paper-scissor teams we see dominating in the LCPL. I call them P3FV teams while collecting data from replays since they follow the same structure of defensive Poison, Mienfoo/Timburr, a Flying-type which is usually Vullaby, and a Pokemon whose primary job is to switch into Vullaby at least once (Poison + Fighting + Flying + Fuck Vullaby, P3FV.) These P3FV squads lean on the overall strength of their Fighting+Flying core, which I will touch upon later when I talk about Timburr and Minefoo, to beat a lot of the other weaker Pokemon in the tier. The Poison-types and Vullaby answers respond to the Fighting+Flying core. Hence the rock-paper-scissor: figher-flyer-fly checks, which lose to the fighter. The last two slots on the team are largely comprised of Ferroseed (for Spikes and TWave/Knock support, as well as a Psychic, Rock, Water, and Grass resist), fast special attackers who take advantage of the Pokemon EVd to take on the Fighters and Grookey, the Arena Trap twins, Mudbray (a generally good check to physical mons), a fast Fire-type for teams without Onix or Mareanie, Frillish, Dewpider, and monke with a stick. Other odd mons like Slowpoke pop up here and there, but this is the core metagame. The only teams I mark as being successful enough to note that deviate from P3FV are Natu Screens teams (Tyrunt is a solid anti-meta mon) and fire spam teams with Vulpix, since if your only Fire resist is Onix it can be quickly overwhelmed. Spritzee sometimes takes the role of the Poison-type on some teams, but it seems kinda MU fishy to me.

This ties back to Vullaby, since Vullaby is simultaneously the rock, paper, and scissor on these teams. It’s damage output is solid, and it has so much customization that you can tailor your Vullaby to lure in and take out its counters. Wanna bait Onix? U-turn to Trapinch or a Fighting-type. Worried about Pawniard? Knock Off + Heat Wave. Need a Foongus answer? Overcoat, baby. Wanna break the mental fortitude of your opponent and send them into a tilt that would put carnival rides to shame? Thief + Berry Juice, thank you for the Eviolite. The bird is ubiquitous, and rightfully so, for the same reason why GSC Snorlax is; it is simply the best at what it does , and teams that aren’t running it could be running it, and really should be running it.

On Fighting-types:
Since Gen 4, Fighting has been a dominant type in Little Cup. This is partially due to the quality of Pokemon: Gen 4 Machop has generally good stats and moves, while Croagunk is so far out of your priority league with Fake Out/Sucker/VW that it will remind you of what happened when you confessed your feelings to the popular kid in middle school. But Mienfoo and Timburr are absolutely incredible. They are similar to Vullaby in the fact they are simultaneously great offensive and defensive Pokemon. What makes them good is their combination of survivability and ability to debilitate what should be hard answers. Mienfoo has Regenerator (and Drain Punch if you like clay in your soup) to keep it going, which synergizes ridiculously well with U-turn, its generally good stats, and resistance to Stealth Rock/Knock Off. Timburr has a base HP stat so big that even Porygon gets HP-ness envy, alongside STAB Drain Punch to back it up.

But what really makes both Fighters so good is Knock Off. Mienfoo and Timburr are phenomenal at trading with anything that cannot hit them super-effective. Knocking Off Eviolite means Timburr is dealing more damage with Drain Punch and therefore getting more HP back in your trades, or just shoving kids into the proverbial locker with an elemental punch. Mienfoo clicking Knock Off means you now have to eat its STAB HJK, but it can also pivot with Regenerator to get back HP it lost in its trade. This ability to beat down so many Pokemon is a big reason why a lot of Pokemon are fringe viable at best in LC: they can’t trade with the Fighters since they lack the sustain, the damage output to pressure them, or are weak to Knock Off/Ice Punch despite resisting Drain Punch/HJK. It is also why Pokemon that are faster than them (or can otherwise exploit Knock Off, i.e. Weak Armor Vullaby) with super-effective coverage are competitively relevant, namely Abra, Ponyta-G, Wingull, and Staryu. Or if you are Grookey, just hit them with a stick.

Then there is Scraggy, who really just loves what Grookey is doing to the metagame. Grookey means that Poison-types are in vogue, which means that the Fighting-type resist slot is going to Foongus, Mareanie, and Koffing instead of Spritzee. And with Spritzee being uncommon, Scraggy’s terrifying STAB duo can apply a ton of offensive pressure after Dragon Dance. Scraggy has a few more flaws than the other two Fighters, mostly the fact that it cannot trade with them, but it is still a note-worthy Fighting-type in the meta. Getting Scragg’d is how you are properly inducted into Little Cup, please take your complimentary Berry Juice and have a seat.

On Arena Trap:
I think Arena Trap is always fascinating in 6v6 metas where its allowed, and I am generally curious about the match-up between teams that have Diglett/Trapinch and those which do not. My thought process is having access to Arena Trap while your opponent does not is a significant advantage in terms of available counterplay. Basically, you have access to a game mechanic your opponent does not. It also helps that the trappers fit very nicely into the metagame. Ground is a fantastic typing for a trapper in Little Cup, since you can trap Steel- and Rock-types for Vullaby, and pick off weakened Foongus and Marenie for Fighting-types. Diglett and Trapinch also have excellent speed control. Diglett is the fastest non-Scarfer (running Elekid is the teambuilding equivalent of thinking that that witty pun on your dating app is going to mask the fact that your profile says “I just got out of a bad relationship”); Trapinch interned at Golisopod’s firm and made a good first impression. The trappers’ impact on teambuilding is pretty easy to see. It is no coincidence that the most popular poisons are Koffing, Mareanie, and Foongus. Koffing is a common Poison-type for a number of reasons, but not being trapped is definitely one of them. Foongus and Mareanie have Regenerator, meaning they are less punished by switching around to avoid letting Diglett/Trapinch come in for free, while also have a STAB option to hit them super-effective if they try to hard switch anyways.

Arena Trap has been a somewhat contentious issue in LC for a long time, and honestly I think it's only going to get more contentious because, well, players are getting better. Now that I am rapidly encroaching the dreaded “I have literally being playing competitive Pokemon for longer than you have been alive” age, I am certifiably old and can say that competitive Pokemon players have gotten better at optimizing teambuilding and in-battle execution of strategies compared to “back in my day.” Which means players are better at utilizing Arena Trap. I don’t think it's a particularly hot-take to say that if Arena Trap wasn’t around (or at least, Diglett and Trapinch were not as significant threats as they are at the moment) the number of viable Poison-types (and Steel-types if you stan Cufant) in Little Cup would be greater. Which of course leads to a greater variety of answers to Grookey and the Fighters, and likely a more diverse metagame as a whole. But this is largely my own personal ramblings and projections on the impact of Diglett and Trapinch on the meta.

On Knock Off:
Remember that pin we put in 11 paragraphs ago, about Koffing? Time to yoink that sucker out because we are talking about Knock Off. Koffing ideally would be able to confidently switch into Mienfoo/Timburr throughout a match, as should Mareanie and Foongus, due to typing. But they despise Knock Off, because if you switch into it you are suddenly vulnerable to eating significant chip damage each time you have to switch back in or, in the case of Foongus and especially Mareanie, getting trapped. People love to complain about Knock Off in Gen 8 since we don’t have Z-Crystals and Mega Stones in the upper tiers, but Knock Off’s impact on OU is crumbs compared to the seven-layered cake in LC. Consider the number of Knock Off users you have on a given team, or the variety of Pokemon that run it in LC. It is a stupidly efficient move, and it's largely tied to the two flagship items in Little Cup: Berry Juice and Eviolite.

If you hit a Pokemon with Knock Off and it has Eviolite, you have effectively hit them with a 65~ BP Dark-type move (sometimes with STAB) and applied -1.5 Def/SpD for the rest of the game. If they had Berry Juice that hasn’t gone off, you are hitting them with a 95 BP Dark-type move and reducing their “potential effective HP” by at least 50%. This is absolutely insane, if Knock Off in OU hit Toxapex and then also reduced its Def/SpD by -1.5 for the rest of the game, people would be rejoicing in the streets because fuck Toxapex am I right calling the move absolutely busted and trying to build consistent defensive answers without like Sticky Hold Gastrodon is absurd. And yes, this is a somewhat imperfect comparison because technically you are sacrificing an item slot for Eviolite/Juice that could be idk Boots?? But unless you are a Pokemon with incredible natural defenses anyways (*Vullaby is typing…*) what makes you a consistent defensive answer to things like Mienfoo, Timburr, Abra, Wingull, Grookey, etc., is Eviolite. The nature of LC damage calculations makes Eviolite so crucial when constructing defensive responses to these top metagame threats. Once that is gone, you are suddenly vulnerable to being overwhelmed by things like Grassy Terrain Wood Hammer, LO Dazzling Gleam, Hurricane, Ice Punch, that ONE FUCKING PERSON RUNNING POISON JAB MIENFOO I WILL FIND YOU.

Consider how players complain about Pokemon such as Porygon, Grookey, and Abra. How much more manageable would Download Porygon if be if your Pawniard or Timburr didn’t get Knocked off by a Vullaby or opposing Pawniard? How much easier would it be able to take on Grookey with Eviolite Koffing if it didn’t have to eat a Knock Off from Mienfoo earlier? How much easier would it be to take on Abra with your team’s Eviolites intact? Even more importantly, imagine how many more defensive answers would emerge since they wouldn’t be forced to take awful trades against the Fighters, and they weren’t as vulnerable to Diglett and Trapinch picking them off after their Eviolite is knocked.

You can look at BW LC for an example of a slower LC metagame. With the new mons and mechanics introduced XY-onwards, I think there is tremendous potential for an enjoyable LC meta with the absence of Knock Off. This is what led me to start looking at the “who Knocks Off first” winrate in LCPL (note: my current analysis places the WR much lower, around 60%, in my LCWC II games, but there have been some interactions with things like Arena Trap and specific Pokemon like Koffing I am investigating.) Due to how LC teambuilding works, and how defensive answers in LC rely so heavily on Eviolite, Knock Off is the ultimate value move. And its distribution is insanely good. Knock Off absorbers don’t exist to the same degree they do in the upper tiers since 1) LC damage calcs and 2) many Knock Off users are offensive Pokemon with good coverage Vullaby, Pawniard, Abra, and Timburr anyways, so its inherently risky to come back in on the Knock Off user if you don’t have Regenerator.

On Suspect Testing:
I haven’t been playing Gen 8 LC for super long, so tbh I don’t have much of a horse in this race. It’s more like a pony. A really small, but cute, pony. But I find LC appealing, the current state of the metagame fascinates me, and honestly I have been enjoying going through these replays and playing the format again. But the metagame has problems, or at least a single bird-shaped problem, and that is not a hot-take in the slightest based on the posts in this thread.

First and foremost, I agree with the vast majority of posters before me that Vullaby needs to be retested. This Pokemon is ridiculous; the GSC Snorlax comparison was not me defending its place in SS LC OU; GSC is a fascinating metagame with mechanics that makes playing around an ubiquitous and diverse threat like Snorlax manageable in a different way. Vullaby is far more explosive (well, not in the STAB Self-Destruct sense, but I digress) with its Weak Armor, STAB combination, and access to Nasty Plot with extremely good coverage. There is a clear interest from the community to take another swing at Vullaby, this time with a new set of statistics from recent tours, more metagame development, and perhaps a greater sense of exasperation. To be honest, if Vullaby somehow doesn’t end up banned this time around based on the recent posting content in this thread and what I see on Discord, I would suspect test the suspect testing process itself, and that is my hot-take.

As for Mienfoo and Timburr, I wasn’t really making a statement about their brokenness. Rather, I was using them as a framing device for why I think the Little Cup metagame is what it is, and also to highlight the absurdity of Knock Off in this tier. And Knock Off is truly absurd, I am surprised more people don’t really complain about this move the same way they do Porygon or Grookey. Maybe its because the idea of suspect testing moves makes people uneasy, or they like what Knock Off does for the metagame by speeding up offense. Perhaps the player base has just accepted that Knock Off is part of LC’s core identity and never considered the possibility of a metagame without it. I can’t say I know why, and if this topic has been broached before I would be interested in seeing why the move has stuck around.

My recommendation in regards to Knock Off would be to start playing around with an LC meta without Knock Off. I think Showdown Room Tours or a forum tournament would be awesome, especially the tournament since I would have sweet, sweet replays and usage statistics to collect data from. Then the playerbase can decide if they like the Knock Off-less meta more or less than current LC, and there could be more to the discussion than just theorycraft of what a Knock Off-less Gen 8 meta would even look like.

In regards to Arena Trap, well, I think I need to continue to ponder its implications in Little Cup, and the true extent it affects the metagame. I am going to keep looking at replays to get a better idea of the sheer advantage Arena Trap brings to games. But stats can only say so much; if you are a relatively now LC player reading this 1) hi! And 2) listen to the opinions of the top players in Little Cup in regards to Arena Trap, since it is one of those game mechanics that is best examined at the highest level of play. And watch their replays! It's a great way to improve, trust.

And before we go “wait, Vullaby learns Knock Off, why not just look at Knock Off BEFORE Vullaby?” I would like to express that while Vullaby would definitely miss the move in its offensive movepool, it would also really, really appreciate not having its Eviolite or Berry Juice removed on the Nasty Plot sets. And Vullaby still has access to physical Dark STAB in the form of Lash Out, and yes it does double in power if you proc Weak Armor.

I think that’s it. All-in-all, interesting metagame. I love the growth LC has seen over the years. It warms my heart that has been jaded by years of random fuCKING MIENFOO RUNNING POISON JAB, IT’S GEN FUCKING 5 WHAT ARE YOU EVEN HITTING, HOPPIP?

Thank you for reading.

edit: I removed some statistical stuff regarding Arena Trap after reviewing how I am choosing to quantify its winrate. I also reworded things in regards to my general stance on Arena Trap in Little Cup as a whole after some Discord discussions and examining games/teams.
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With Vullaby's banning, the SS LC metagame is going to be completely flipped on its head. The diaper bird was a metagame-defining force, present on almost every serious team and warping every teamm around its power and overall utility. The meta will be unstable for a while, but I wanted to talk briefly about some winners and losers from Vullaby's banning.

The winners:

:grookey: Grookey is the obvious winner, as Vullaby was its most common and one of its best checks. Every team will have one fewer Grass resist, making it easier for Grookey to revenge kill and to sweep. Its solid coverage movepool gives it options for each of its most common checks as well. It still struggles with 4mss, frailty, and a well-prepared metagame filled with pokemon like Foongus and Ferroseed that Grookey struggles mightily to break through, however.

:mudbray: Mudbray is in my opinion the biggest winner of Vullaby's banning, at least at first. Vullaby was practically the only common Pokemon that resists or is immune to Ground, and with it gone, Mudbray can fire off powerful Earthquakes with near-impunity. It's also much easier to fit on teams now that your Stealth Rock user doesn't also have to resist Flying. In addition to the SR+3 attacks set, both Choice Scarf and RestTalk sets look to be particularly potent as well.

:dewpider: Vullaby was the single biggest thing holding Sticky Web offense in check. With it gone, I expect webs teams to be as big a force in the metagame as ever. A plethora of abusers, such as the aforementioned Mudbray and Life Orb Abra, can tear through unprepared teams with Sticky Web support, although they must be prepared for a resurgent Grookey.

:pumpkaboo: Pumpkaboo is not an obvious winner at first from Vullaby's banning, although Vullaby was its best counter; at first glance, it seems outclassed by LC's other bulky Grass-types, Foongus and Ferroseed. However, Pumpkaboo (particularly Pumpkaboo-XL) seems primed to benefit from the shifting metagame. It's one of the few viable Ground resists, while also packing an immunity to Porygon's Tri Attack and the ability to counter non-Knock Off Grookey. It also has excellent 25/14/16 bulk and a surprisingly good movepool, with access to Will-O-Wisp, reliable recovery, and excellent coverage options such as Fire Blast.

:ferroseed: Ferroseed, no longer held back by a neutrality to Flying, seems poised for a resurgence. It's a much sturdier and reliable switchin to Porygon and Abra than Pawniard, while also hard-checking Grookey at worst. Although it's still liable to be overwhelmed by offensive pressure, its ability to set hazards and spread paralysis is still unmatched and it should be much more common.

The losers:

:onix: Easily the biggest loser from Vullaby's banning, Onix has lost its most significant niche as the Pokemon it was used exclusively to counter is now gone. There's little reason to run Onix now over other Stealth Rock setters like Pawniard, Ferroseed, and especially Mudbray, whose typings aren't massive liabilities like Onix's. Its Dragon Dance set is probably the most viable out there, but it still faces stiff competition from Tyrunt and occupies a small niche at best.

:mareanie: Mareanie's typing becomes a lot more awkward, as it's now a Poison-type neitral to Grass in a meta that will have Grookeys everywhere. It's still a very reliable Fighting-type check, but it's going to struggle to assert a niche over Foongus and Staryu.

:pawniard: Pawniard will still be very common and is still good, but its shortcomings as a catch-all defensive Pokemon were laid bare in the last month or so. It will face a lot of competition from Ferroseed as a Stealth Rock user and Porygon check, and its Ground weakness and vulnerability to Grookey's Drain Punch are going to hinder it moving forward.


break the rules
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Just wanted to post some thoughts about :pumpkaboo: and :shellos: so here we go

Vullaby's ban probably has made Pumpkaboo a very strong and totally viable Pokemon.
It was kinda useless and only had a little niche but i think it's going to become one of Vullaby ban's biggest winner.
So, that thing still doesn't like taking Knock Off from Fight but it remains a very strong and useful anti-spinner, which pairs very well with Dewpider's sticky web being way stronger than before with Vullaby's ban.
It also has Will-O-Wisp which is often very useful and he has a viable recovery move in Synthesis which is not that common in LC. Pumpkaboo also has access to some good grass moves in Seed Bomb and Bullet Seed but most importantly he has access to Poltergeist which deals amazing damages to things that are supposed to switch-in on Pumpkaboo like Physical Walls that can threaten it back like Koffing. ( 96.5% chance to 2HKO after Stealth Rock if played Adamant max atk)

First of all, please use Blue Shellos it looks better.
I really think that Shellos is going to become a better Pokemon with Vullaby's ban.
Vullaby's ban is probably going to increase Frillish usages and Shellos works quite well against it.
0 SpA Frillish Hex (130 BP) vs. 228 HP / 100 SpD Eviolite Shellos: 9-12 (33.3 - 44.4%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after burn damage
Possible damage amounts: (9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 12)

0 SpA Frillish Hex (65 BP) vs. 228 HP / 100 SpD Eviolite Shellos: 6-7 (22.2 - 25.9%) -- 0.1% chance to 4HKO
Possible damage amounts: (6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7)
Shellos can deal insane damages to Frillish with Mirror Coat and I'm pretty sure it could become a cool Pokemon in this metagame.
It has the ability Sticky Hold which is absolutely insane in LC and has access to a lot of useful moves like Scald, Recover, Clear Smog and even stuff like Counter which is probably not insane but could work.
It can beat Ferroseed (if using giga drain, like 95% of ferroseeds) and even Foongus if you have a Pokemon asleep in your team.
It also can be useful against Psy attackers like PonyGalar and Abra which are probably going to be used more often with Vullaby's ban.

Ground Pokemons has lost one of their only switchins / Pokemon that can handle them so i think they are definitely going to be better.
Ferroseed is probably going to be played more often now, as Vullaby was very powerful against it. Vulla's ban is also probably going to increase Foongus' usages so i think Ferroseed is a big winner here.
Don't really want to talk about :grookey: and :dewpider: as it's pretty obvious that they are going to become better with Vulla's ban.
From the banning of vullaby,I feel like Grookey will force many teams to run two or more grass resists, and i'm gonna talk about a pretty big winner from vullaby's ban(imo).
This pokemon benefits alot from vullaby being gone, forcing many teams to run two or more grass resists just for grookey. This pokemon can be one of those grass resists while checking fighting types like mienfoo and timburr that have become more popular with vullaby being a soft check to those gone. This thing can fill alot of roles for your team including but not limited to: grass resist, fighting resist, defensive and offensive mon. It's lack of consistent recovery can be annoying, but you can run wish support. You can run the standard set or you can mix in some heat moves like destiny bond, explosion, haze, rest talk, protect and the list goes on.
Now that being flying-weak isnt that big of a deal Larvesta become a much better mon, is a nice fighting and green monkey answer, and general u-turn check thanks to flame body, it need spin support but thats not a big deal with great mons like Staryu to do the job.
And is great at spaming u-turn, it doesnt fear flame body and ferroseed is not going to switch into a fire type.

Corporal Levi

ninjadog of the decade
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It has now been a week of gen 8.5, and as with all new gens, there are going to be some immediate glaring issues. I would like to propose that we look into a quickban on Sticky Web.

Webs was already seen as a reasonably strong matchup fish, and it's pretty clear how Vullaby's ban would facilitate the webs archetype becoming much more effective. While Vullaby was also one of the strongest webs abusers, this was more than offset by how it was also far and away its biggest deterrent. As the premier Defogger, any mon on a webs team that couldn't both outspeed and OHKO it was made a liability by allowing Vullaby the chance to remove webs; and given Vullaby's combination of speed, bulk, and web immunity, this was a very significant limiting factor.

Without Vullaby, reliable removal has gotten a lot iffier. The historically viable Rapid Spinners - Staryu, Drilbur - simply aren't effective at the role of consistent removal, because they match poorly against spinblockers like Pumpkaboo and Frillish. Life Orb Staryu is the main set that has a serious shot at breaking through those spinblockers, but even then it needs to predict correctly. Most other spinners are quite slow initially, or even lose outright to Dewpider. (Tentacool is to some degree an exception, but webs should definitely not be enough to justify it over Mareanie.) It doesn't help that Vullaby's ban has turned those spinblockers into more generally splashable mons, so webs teams can include them effortlessly.

Defogging is more reliable, but its pool of mons is also less willing to run it. Archen -can- defog, but has no real justification to run a defensive set that would actually want to fit it now that Vullaby is banned, and blowing both a moveslot and a turn on defog is quite detrimental to offensive sets. Wingull can actually defog pretty reliably, but it's honestly not a great mon outside of this one niche. Hurricane is a mess without z - Wingull will usually need the power of Hurricane to 2HKO neutral threats, even when backed by Life Orb, and it only has a 49% chance of landing both; also, having a 30% chance to lose to mons it's outright supposed to beat (unless they're in Scald or Air Slash range) is pretty embarrassing. Timburr has to give up a lot of its offensive presence to run defog, but it at least has enough natural bulk + utility to be reasonably splashable. However, it will never approach the splashability of an 80% mon like Vullaby; and in any case, expecting a significant metagame shift toward Timburr and its defog variants feels unreasonable. Outside of webs, there is no real reason to run defog Timburr variants; on top of that, Timburr itself should be lesser on a small majority of teams to Mienfoo. This is a far cry from Vullaby, who was going to be on 80%+ of teams whether there was webs or not, and could comfortably fit Defog as a filler for rocks/spikes without limiting its overall effectiveness to nearly the same degree. (By the way, post-webs SM currently has Vullaby on 95% of teams.)

tl;dr spinning isn't reliable and defogging isn't splashable, so no removal is comparable to Vullaby at deterring webs.

This affects other hazards too, but Webs benefits especially greatly from Vullaby's ban. Stealth Rock hasn't benefited at all from the ban, as Vullaby didn't actually usually try to remove it - its main switchins, Onix and Pawniard, could reset rocks or punish defog with Defiant, respectively. The overall dynamic of Stealth Rock's 32 PP to Defog's 24 PP means that without multiple Defoggers, attempting to keep it off the field just isn't worth it. Defog was also never the primary means to remove Toxic Spikes; absorbing it with your mandatory Poison-type was. This leaves Spikes, which has certainly gotten better as well. The difference between Webs and Spikes is simply that Webs is far more impactful in an offensive metagame like LC. There is a massive gap in viability between the moves, which is why even in a Vullaby metagame, Webs was worthwhile as a strong matchup fish, while Spikes was very rarely seen. In the current metagame, femboy's Dwebble spikestack team went 4-0 last week, but in only one of those games did Dwebble actually click Spikes (and clicking Stealth Rock would have had the exact same effect); Dwebble's value was instead that of a Weak Armor rocker that could cripple fighters with Knock Off.

This should cover how webs has improved dramatically and to a unique degree. The last piece is whether this makes Webs broken. Thankfully, there is a direct venue for comparison here through SM webs, which was deemed banworthy at the end of LCWC. SS and SM may be different metagames overall, but Webs is a well-defined archetype that carries a very similar identity in both metagames, so it is easy to draw immediate mechanical comparisons between the two. Relative to SM webs, the major pros and cons to SS webs are:

+ No Vullaby as an immunity + spinblocker deterrent + revenge-killer + Defogger
+ No Snivy as a Contrary mon + Defogger
+ No Gastly as an immunity
+ Grookey, Porygon, Pony-G, and Vulpix as abusers

- No Vullaby, Gastly, or Snivy as abusers
- Grookey and bulky Porygon as potential revenge-killers
- No Z-move abusers
- Rapid Spin the move is more powerful
- Wingull and Timburr as removal
- Abra is a bit worse

Suffice to say that by any reasonable metric, the first pro alone entirely dwarfs all of the cons combined. SS webs is far more powerful than SM webs was.
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I know I stray a bit away from the last post, but I would like to talk about other winners from Vullaby's ban.

- With Vullaby gone, Abra is not forced to run Dazzling Gleam as it was back then. Sure, it still remains amore than viable option due to the benefits of chipping Pawniard for a teammate such as Porygon, or preventing Scraggy from setting up, but Dazzling Gleam not being as mandatory means Abra can possibly run coverage moves to fare better against actual meta trends. Fire Punch hits Pawniard pretty hard too, and it has the added benefit of giving Abra a move that can KO Ferroseed after it switches in on another move and takes a bit of chip. That is an easy thing as Ferroseed wants to come in and check all the notable Water-types: Staryu, Frillish and Mareanie. Abra can also run Shadow Ball to deny Ponyta-Galar the switchin, and to break past a would-be check in Frillish (it also beats Pumpkaboo but Pumpkaboo doesn't check Abra). Energy Ball can also be run to target Frillish, Trapinch and the other Ground-types I have seen on the rise such as Drilbur and Mudbray. All of this doesn't account for the astonishingly strong Life-Orb boosted Psychic which leaves its pool of switchins somewhat low in first place.

Abra has not really changed. However, the ability to possibly viably run any move and choose what checks it makes it a strong winner from Vullaby's ban, as Dazzling Gleam was formerly more mandatory, which made Pokémon such as Frillish more consistent answers. That leads me to my next point.

- Anyone having talked to me after Vullaby's ban know well what I think about Munchlax. This new meta with a lot more specially-based Pokémon such as Abra, Ponyta-Galar, Staryu, Koffing, Porygon, non-Knock Off Mareanie, Vulpix makes having a consistent answer to them in one slot pretty nice, all the more as Munchlax is one of the only consistent Abra answers to date. Curse Munchlax is quite good if you can get rid of Fighting-types and are able to manage your Berry Juice and Recycles well, but I have found myself toying around with other options. I notably quite like Encore which can prevent Pokémon such as Scraggy or Ponyta-Galar that would otherwise use Munchlax as setup bait from realistically doing anything. Self-Destruct can be used in similar fashion to facilitate positioning in a matchup where Munchlax isn't needed, and acts as an unexpected nuke capable of OHKOing most setup sweepers. Its high Health Points mean that despite poor defenses, it can even soft-check some of LC's physical attackers such as Ponyta-Kanto thanks to Thick Fat, and realistically anything not OHKOing it. Therefore it can remain a bane to Fire-spam teams, as Diglett doesn't even OHKO it, and it comfortably walls even Charmander. Another option in Endure takes that soft-checking further because you can pop your Berry Juice even from ranges where you wouldn't tank some attacks, which is especially handy against Trapinch. Running Facade as its main STAB even allows you to soft-wall Ghost-types such as Frillish and Pumpkaboo, although I wouldn't recommend actually doing it as they hard-wall Munchlax too. All in all, I love this thing.

- Ponyta-Kanto also quite benefits from Vullaby's ban, for a very straightforward reason. Rock-types such as Onix have completely dropped in usage, which means there are less Flare Blitz switchins. Ponyta can also allow itself to run Wild Charge now, as it hits the only Flare Blitz resists in the tier: Water-types, and as High Horsepower doesn't really hit anything now (it just eases predictions somewhat). It also is one of the two mons to really check Grookey right now, with Koffing (due to Grookey being able to run Acrobatics quite easily now invalidating Foongus), and it can shut Pumpkaboo down. Its ability to spread fast burns to facilitate positionning with Flame Body or Will-O-Wisp makes Ponyta all the better, and it remains a fearsome fast and strong attacker.

- I find Grass Spam to have been favored by Vullaby's departure, as, in a similar fashion to Grookey, Treccko has one of the only mons to effectively shut it down less. Treecko realistically likes all meta trends right now, as it only has to worry about Koffing and Ponyta once set up. These have either no recovery or a Stealth Rock weakness, which makes a right use of Treecko decimating. I think it is also a reason people often go for Koffing instead of Foongus as Foongus is a "Grass-check" that absolutely hates Acrobatics.

- Some Psychic-types foregoing Fairy-type coverage benefits this thing a lot. Without a soft-check to switch into Knock Off and scare it off such as Vullaby, priority and faster Scarved Pokémon are the only real answers to this thing, which makes most matchups tough for the opponent to deal with. And even then, Scraggy can run Protect or an Eviolite and Drain Punch to bend some of these matchups a bit. Definetly a Pokémon to keep an eye on.

- It has been labeled as bad in the earlier posts, especially because of Hurricane missing pretty often. However, I really like Wingull right now. One of the big winners of Vullaby being banned is Scarved Mudbray, as it can now spam its Ground-stabs coming from a high Attack stat with near impunity. That is for a reason: the pool of Ground immunities is scarce, let alone Ground-immunities that can take on Mudbray. Off the top of my head, there's only Natu, which gets smacked by Heavy Slam and feels kind of matchup-fishy as it doesn't do anything against Abra if it packs Shadow Ball ; Levitate Koffing, which has to forgo Neutralizing Gas utility and doesn't pack reliable recovery, and Wingull which can actually threaten Mudbray back consistently due to resisting all its coverage moves. It can also makes positionning easier with U-turn, especially with sweeprs that can abuse its common checks in Pawniard, Frillish and Ferroseed such as Scraggy or Bulk Up Timburr, packs Defog with an immunity to Webs, and can even soften its or other Pokémon's checks up with Knock Off, an option that will, like Air Slash, be more used if Webs are banned due to Defog not being as needed anymore.

About Webs, the post above makes a good job at showcasing how broken Sticky Web teams are. Losing most counterplay due to it being banned or not being viable enough anymore sucks, and this kind of teams definetly feels like too much now.
So I'm finally back playing LC again after taking a hiatus since Gen 6 (couldn't stand Gen 7 at all competitively), and these last few weeks of diving into the meta have been absolutely wonderful and some of the most fun I've had with competitive Pokemon in a while. Vullaby going the way of the dodo was an absolute blessing for the tier and has made my time in it even more fun. I'm going to talk about a few of the Pokemon I've been having the most fun with while playing Little Cup lately, along with some specific sets I've been using on some of my teams.


Anorith @ Eviolite
Ability: Battle Armor
Level: 5
EVs: 76 Atk / 196 SpD / 236 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Rapid Spin
- Aqua Jet
- Knock Off
- Stealth Rock / Toxic / Rock Slide​

Let's get this out of the way, I've always liked Anorith, I've found him to be adorable! I've found this set to be pretty effective as a role-compressed utility Pokemon thanks to his unique set of tools. Anorith is actually the second fastest Rapid Spin user in LC, only behind Staryu, and has overall respectable stats and bulk (especially with an Eviolite boost). This set focuses on being disruptive and has a unique combination of tools that no other Pokemon in the tier has; Rapid Spin takes care of hazards, Aqua Jet picks off weakened Scarf users and boosted Sweepers, Knock Off cripples bulky walls, and Stealth Rock is to set up your own hazards, although if you already have a Rocks setter on your team, you can go for Toxic (what I use) or a STAB move such as Rock Slide.


Wingull @ Choice Specs
Ability: Hydration
Level: 5
EVs: 36 HP / 236 SpA / 236 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Air Slash
- Scald
- Ice Beam
- Shock Wave​

Wingull has been talked about quite a bit lately, but I've seen more discussion revolving around it as a utility Pokemon. What we're forgetting here is that Wingull has a very usable and powerful STAB combination in the current Fighting dominated meta. Air Slash and Scald with STAB + Specs boost hit like a freight train, and can easily OHKO a multitude of powerful threats within the meta, and Wingull reaches a lovely 19 Speed with a Timid nature and full investment. Ice Beam is solid coverage to have as well, meaning that Dragon and Flying types can't come in. Shock Wave might raise a few eyebrows, but let's talk about some of its positives for a second. Shock Wave absolutely demolishes opposing Wingull and (with the exception of Chinchou due to its abilities and typing) means that many Water-type Pokemon are not safe switch-ins that normally would be. In addition to this, pseudo-bolt beam coverage and the raw power granted by Specs help to make up for Shock Wave's lacking base power.


Cufant @ Eviolite
Ability: Sheer Force
Level: 5
EVs: 20 HP / 204 Def / 204 SpD / 36 Spe
Impish Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Stealth Rock
- Body Press
- Whirlwind
- Protect​

I have been having an absolute blast with this set, it very reliably gets Stealth Rock up, and is an excellent phaser due to its great mono-Steel typing and access to Body Press to capitalize on its amazing Bulk without having to invest anything into its attack, leading to all-around fantastic role compression for a Pokemon of this regard. Cufant appreciates Wish support, so keep this in mind when using it as it does have a tendency to get worn down.
Hi all.

Levi told me to comment about webs so here am i.

The whole point of this post will be based on this premise: after a couple of lcpl weeks, i strongly believe that the vullaby ban made cheese and HO in general so much better than it used to be.

Whether i am completely agree with levi about webs being broken, i think that we should address the breakers and not the archetypes.

Banning webs wouldn't make any favor to the tier, because screens or hazard stack would take their place.


I am sure that you guys have seen this team before, am I wrong?.

Which breakers are suspect or qb worth right now?.

Well the most obvious mons are either scraggy or grookey. I am honestly pro scraggy ban at this moment, (i could say a lot of things about scragg right now but it probably would demand another post).

I honestly don't see the rush, vullaby just got banned and the tier needs to develop. I think that the move is to wait until the end of lcpl, and before SCL starts make a move (not doing anything until scl would be dumb tho imo).

Sorry for the short post, but i don't think that anything else needs to be said.
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plaza athénée
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Wanted to weigh in briefly on the topics at hand:

With respect to Webs: I admit I'm somewhat reticent at the idea of conducting a vote to quick-ban webs. I've discussed this at length, though, and I do believe there is a good bit of merit to the idea. Obviously, removing a mon w the impact of Vullaby means the meta will need a good bit of time to settle before we really know what's what. However, there are already some reoccurring trends based on LCPL.

I think Corporal Levi does a good job at breaking down why Webs is problematic in SS. It is true that hazard removal is significantly less reliable in the absence of Vullaby and there are no real splashable Webs-immune mons anymore. The ones that exist are semi-unviable, like Archen and Wingull. On top of this, SM and SS last year taught us that even in metas with Vullaby, it's just a matter of time until Webs is optimized and becomes a dominant and broken matchup fish. Though that build may not have been determined yet, the absence of Vullaby and the subsequent lack of splashable Webs-immune mons means that it is more than likely. It's preferable to handle the problem now than have it pop up mid-SCL and make a joke of the tour. While it is possible Webs may eventually end up balanced, it's difficult to argue that such a result is probable or likely given how it compares to previous broken or borderline iterations of webs.

I appreciate your post Wail Wailord, especially because I was making a similar argument when Webs was suspected last year. There is, however, a problem with your premise. Usually when a meta experiences a massive shakeup, like the Vull ban, it's preferable to run proactive builds until the meta settles more and a standard is determined. Cheese and HO are proactive builds and give players the ability not to get caught offguard by random shit. The rise in cheese and HO therefore is at least in large part tied to this detail. We've seen historically that these type of metas wane after a while and eventually result in standard structures reigning supreme again.

For example, the Dwebble offense you cited there is not actually a broken/unplayable team. However, it is proactive and is effective at putting on offensive pressure. It allows good players outs to most situations if they play well. It also punishes players if they play the team poorly. If anything, you want a metagame that encourages teams that perform based on strong play. That offense has therefore not been problematic. Moreover, with respect to screens, outside of the Woobat era, LC screens have never been especially effective. Thus far, LCPL hasn't had any impressive screens showings either. We do have consistent historical precedent, on the other hand, that Webs always eventually finds its way back to the top as LC's most effective matchup fish.

With respect to the breakers: I believe there is merit to this argument. I also agree that in terms of mons, Scraggy appears to be the most broken atm. Frankly, it's straddled the line of broken all gen. Grookey under Webs has appeared to be somewhat broken, but Grookey without Webs hasn't been the same. It would be presumptive as of now to pursue a suspect there.

Ultimately, however, my concern is also timing. SCL is quickly approaching and it is preferable to have a somewhat stable metagame. Removing Scraggy or Grookey is massive, on top of the recent Vullaby ban. However, a Webs ban has no collateral. It does not interfere with the development of the metagame in the absence of Vull. If Scraggy and Grookey continue to prove broken on other structures, then I would fully support addressing them at a later time. For now, I don't believe it would be wise to immediately move on a mon in this manner. I support a vote on Webs.


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I'm going to talk about two of the top threats in the meta now that LCPL is nearly complete and what may or may not require tiering action.

:Dewpider: Sticky Web

This is, without a doubt, the most absurd webs meta I have ever seen as a player. While webs may not be as explicitly strong as they were pre-ban in SM, this is surely the most prolific they've ever been in tour play. It's clear how the Vullaby ban facilitated this: not only have we lost a 90% usage mon with reliable removal, but also we've lost a ubiquitous webs-immune mon that webs teams often had to plan around offensively. Vullaby abused spinblockers like Pumpkaboo in particular, and its absence opens the door for their viability.

Much has been said about the linearity of webs games and how they simplify and reduce counterplay (mostly by Shrug), and this is more true now than ever. We have, at present, four removal or semi-removal options in the tier. Defog Timburr is the most reliable of these owing to its bulk, though the offensive impotence of non-coverage Timburr makes it mediocre in other contexts. That this set sees usage is a testament to how much webs skews building. Wingull is another option as the perennial webs-buster, but it's also Wingull, and it has a tendency to either cut through teams like a hot knife or, more frequently, miss two Hurricanes and die. Wingull still suffers from the same Grookey problem that held it down during our previous webs suspect. Staryu is having a moment right now, but the rise of spinblockers on webs means it cannot reliably spin in these teams' faces. Analytic Ice Beam can drop Pumpkaboo, but given how scarce free turns are against webs, forcing Staryu to click something else is often enough. Lastly, Natu exists, though Natu is of course semi-removal because it can block webs but not remove them altogether. Bulky Natu has seen some usage for this purpose, as well as LO Natu on webs for the mirror, but having Natu is not a guarantee to keep webs off.

Given the difficulty of removal at present, it's clear how webs restricts counterplay. Grookey and Scraggy become extremely difficult to deal with on webs - Grookey smashes removal threats like Wingull and Staryu and is free to click Acrobatics vs Mienfoo with webs up, while Scraggy eludes its already-narrow counterplay by outspeeding Scarf Mienfoo at +1. With webs up, set-up from either of these two can end the game on the spot. One could argue that the elevated threat posed by these mons means they should be the priority, but given the relatively low collateral of a webs ban and the obvious exacerbating the archetype has, I think prioritizing this ban is a no-brainer, and I would prefer it does not go to a vote. Council should vote to ban Sticky Web as soon as possible, ideally before SCL.

:Scraggy: Scraggy

Scraggy is the other mon receiving the most chatter. With the exception of perhaps early BW, this is the best Scraggy has ever been by far. We've had tentative discussions about Scraggy before, especially during the original webs suspect, and the Vullaby ban has brought it back to the forefront. No Vull means two important things for Scraggy: 1) for a mon that thrives on having enough bulk to eat a hit from most things and set up, the 90% usage mon that outsped and OHKOed is gone, and 2) Scraggy not longer has to worry about Knock/HJK 50 50s that might trigger Vull Weak Armor and prematurely end a sweep.

Scraggy has the tools and the strength to bully most of its would-be checks. The poisons get chunked by Knock Off and often struggle to threaten back, especially considering Sub 50 50s for things like Koffing Wisp and Foongus Spore. Timburr is a hoss who can take a hit, but Timburr takes a ton from boosted HJK and cannot OHKO with Mach, meaning you often have ton preserve Timburr all game - something that is pretty suboptimal most of the time. It speaks volumes that Spritzee still sucks in a meta where Scraggy is this good, most due to Grookey and Ponyta and other hitters it cannot really check, but I'm sure people will be tempted to try this fool's gold. Cottonee has seen some usage as a fairy that doubles as an HO utility mon, and this may be a good meta for it. Scarf Mienfoo usage is seemingly down, but it certainly checks Scraggy, and I expect people will experiment with other fast scarfers as well. I think there is a decent chance Scraggy should go, as it's been dominant in non-webs games as well, but there's still counterplay out there waiting to be tried. We should let the meta settle post-webs before a Scraggy suspect, if it still appears necessary.


Until I see further evidence, I don't think Grookey is currently suspect-worthy, and I think a webs ban will make this more true.


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I feel like im on a different planet wrt webs, its not even that good
you cant reliably up vs any team with a natu, defog timburr is easy to pull off and grookey is itself a nightmare for webs teams. you can barely find time to set up webs vs Dwebble/Onix HO teams
furthermore, there arent amazing abusers (besides broken scraggy). There is no Life Orb Abra like in SM (hidden power Is what made lo abra so threatening under webs in SM).
Then on top of that you have to deal with Balloon Diglett which is a good set, Archen, Cottonnee, Flame Charge Ponyta, etc

Judging by a lot of the posts here, it looks like no one actually thinks webs is broken right now, just that it will be in the future
This is the same hysteria that caused the earlier failed Sticky Web suspect test, only this time you want to skip the suspect


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Hello everyone, Little Cup is has put together a post-LCPL Survey to gauge public opinion on the current metagame. Anyone with a Smogon account may respond, with special interest to people who played in the most recent tournament. We will not be keeping this survey open for long, so please fill it out at your earliest convenience!

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me or Fiend a message.

You will find the survey here!

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After sitting out this LCPL, I got to take a lighter look on the meta and try to view it holistically without any biases from my own play. Although it may not be the best way to create a meta take, I thought I could drop some of my thoughts and encourage others who agree/disagree to debate in this thread and try to make some change in a tier (which I think is stale) before we put it on display in SCL.

Issue 1: Scraggy

Scraggy is undeniably the best sweeper in the tier. With stabs that ohko most of tier at +1 and the ability to snowball out of control, it's hard to find a suitable way to deal with this mon. However the issue lies in something beyond simply the set up power. While looking at play from different games, there is also the issue of dealing with sets. With only 3 locked in slots in hjk, knock, and dd, the variance provided in the 4th slot and even the ability make it incredibly hard to deal with. Protect makes dealing with mienfoo even easier since opponents have to not only get the play right, but also maintain their eviolite or else it drops when scraggy is at +1. Sub makes shenanigans revolving status based fighting checks much more prevalent. I wouldn't say that this makes it completely uncompetitive, but requiring people to get plays right to check a mon makes it awfully difficult to deal with. And just when you think that you can soft check scraggy with something like abra, Corporal Levi 's dual chop set takes care of that as well.

I truly believed this was an issue prior to the vullaby ban - it has only gotten worse since. With the lack of an endure soft check or the lack of forced 5050s (vullaby triggering weak armor on a knock off), scraggy no longer has to situate itself in a position to get turns right - it's almost always about putting the opponent in a situation in which they must. In terms of the best checks - there are the bulky fights which drop anyways once their eviolite is knocked and then there's spritzee which we can all agree is pretty hard to use in this meta against teams that don't have scraggy (role compression requires that fighting checks are poison types to help w tspikes as well).

When comparing this mon to other set up sweepers in the past we no longer see the tendency of needing a support (such as diglett memento for clamperl or shellder or whatnot). Scraggy can set up on nearly half the meta when given the right chance.

Issue 2: Webs

I really don't want to talk too much about this as many posts above have done this and done it well. tldr; more stuff hit by webs now than ever, only good removal is staryu, grookey under webs is stupid etc etc.


Both of these issues are most definitely pressing, but I believe that we should quick ban scraggy first and then suspect webs. There seems to be absolutely no way to deal with scraggy. No matter how you build a team, you'll be weak to scraggy or 2/3rds of the meta - you pick. I know that this isn't how we usually tier things but since vullaby was banned from an already shallow pool of available mons, I think we should make haste to either reinstate the former meta or remove the issues that are very obviously present in the current one.
my opinion here is not the popular one but i will make it anyway for justice: suspecting scraggy would be one of the most knee-jerk and blinkered decisions ever seen in this community's tiering process. simply put, lcers have not come close to trialing all the team compositions that might reduce the power of scraggy, instead preferring to bring teams weak to it and smashing their keyboards in anger and fear when they see it on the other side of the screen. the most popular examples of games that show scraggy's "brokenness" involve either major misplays or teams that make no attempt to have even a nominal scraggy counter. no one attempts to bring fairy types, use coverage moves on mons that might otherwise be set-up bait, or bring scarfers faster than 16 speed. it is a basic principle of teambuilding that if you have a passive pokemon that allows a powerful sweeper to set up, you either do things to coldcock the sweeper on the presumed free turn or you load up with things to stop the sweeper after it sets up. this is true of, say, porygon pre-vulla, or literally anything else in lc history. it seems to have been forgotten after 6 weeks in a new meta, one formed after the most consequential ban in the metagame's history. somehow this primordial post-vull meta has been fully optimized and a pokemon that has been successfully contained in every gen since the advent of the fairy typing has become too powerful. i might humbly suggest that we have not reached a solved state of stasis with this metagame of three mons that provide a free setup with nothing faster than 19 speed and nothing that can live an attack at +1.

i am sympathetic to arguments that say scraggy's movepool allows it to get past any given combination of checks and counters. but the important thing to remember about them is that they are describing a metagame that does not currently exist. we have no idea whether, in the balance of a metagame that addresses scraggy directly, its large range of fourth moves will allow it in practice to pick up the sweeps it enjoys now. again, im not saying that this wont happen, or that thinking it will be so is invalid. the point is, it would be an exercise in metagame speculation the likes of which we haven't ever seen in our tiering process.

moving on to other obvious points, i have been arguing for a webs ban for a long time now, and no one actually addresses the points i make. i will print here a paragraph i wrote in lc discord:

ok basically: when you're building at the tour level you want to have a team that can handle everything. because of the nature of webs and screens you either 1) include the specific counters to the setting of the condition (which we can agree are a limited set) or 2) counter the specific threats on the webs or screens team. I argue that both of these exert matchup stresses. if you do 1) you are locking yourself into something like defensive staryu (which is exploitable by non-webs builds, something you cant bring every time etc) or else playing the matchup game again (with something like defog vullaby, because most well-constructed webs or screens are designed to deny vulla defog turns in a reasonable time frame). the matchup implications of 2) should be obvious: because both by their natures removes soft checks w scarfs, you have to have the specific counters (spritzee for scraggy etc) for the mons themselves, and since there are so many offensive threats in lc and not really any pure defensive walls, you're playing the guessing game again. so the idea that these games are p reliant on mu is clear, and not really disputed by anyone. of course, all pokemon matches are mu based to some extent. the reason to remove these parts of the triangles is because of how they play. in a regular pokemon game, you essentially have to solve the puzzle of how to unlock your opp before they unlock you. this requires thinking ahead on various turns and so on. the cheese teams reduce games to essentially a sequential pattern, deviating from this normal pattern of play in a way that creates worse games. obviously this is "subjective", but like with anything else subjectivity does not preclude informed analysis, and the sort of universal condemnation of those types of games represents an informal understanding of the fact they are less fun to watch and participate in.

this makes the case for a webs ban in a relatively concise way. note that this was during vullaby meta; the viability of pumpkaboo, the greatly increased power of frillish and the remover of lc's most consistent defogger should obvioiusly improve the standing of sticky webs relative to other options.
I am not going to go quite as far as blaming scraggy's recent success on incompetence, as I think that people's recent gripes with the pokemon are perfectly legitimate. It definitely looks to be the strongest sweeper in the currrent meta, but I think that a suspect test on it in particular would be very premature. I do not think that this is the case for Webs, which is why I would strongly prefer it to be looked at before the start of SCL. The main difference between them is that while Scraggy has a very real chance of falling out of fashion given how raw this meta is, the unhealthy restrictions that the web archetype creates at the teambuilding stage will remain even if the metagame shifts to be more prepped for webs.

I understand that the prospect of Scraggy falling out of meta again may seem unlikely, but I'm confident in the possibility because we've been in this exact same scenario before. When Scraggy was "discovered" during last years Snake draft it very quickly exploded onto the scene during week 5, averaging 40% usage for the rest of the tournament. This was accompanied by a very impressive overall win rate: the highest of any Pokemon with more than five uses. Much of this use was from webs (much like the current meta), but it was also consistently being slapped on balance to great effect paired with reflect users. While most of the ire for the strength of cheese was placed on Webs by the end of the tournament, I distinctly remember talking to many people who believed the true culprit behind the success of cheese was Scraggy and wanted it suspected rather than Webs.

By the time LCWC was over Scraggy usage had fallen sharply, as Timburr and Fake Out Grookey quickly rose in usage to serve as consistent stops to the Berry Juice variants. Its usage fell even further after the community banned Woobat, ultimately hovering at around 10% usage for the first few weeks of LCPL. My fear is that the explosion that we saw during the latter half of Snake is identical to the explosion we're seeing now: in both cases Scraggy saw incredible usage with high win rates to match. It's entirely possible that Scraggy would be broken once this metagame settles down, but I am convinced that it is just as possible that Scraggy is just particularly good at exploiting underdeveloped metagames. We've really only had five weeks (two of which were playoffs where only eight and four games were played) of strong development following the biggest ban in generations, and I don't want to rush to ban what very well could be a balanced Pokemon.

The obvious response to this argument is to point out that it can be applied just as well to any suspect, including the Webs one that I am advocating for. This argument works differently when applied to dedicated matchup fishes like Webs, however, as while the usage rates of the viable tools necessary to beat webs will change over time, the teambuilding restrictions that they place on the meta will remain constant. If the usage rate of Webs plummets in the first few weeks of SCL because people are spamming Defog Timburr on half of their teams, I would argue that this is still incredibly unhealthy as Webs would be exerting its influence at the teambuilding stage. The Vullaby ban eliminated the single best Pokemon at consistently removing hazards from the field, and the dearth of good defog users has limited reliable ways of preparing for Webs to an unhealthy degree. In my experience the only removers that consistently work against Webs are Defog Timburr, Archen and Wingull. Pumpkaboo is usually sufficient to stop Staryu from removing Webs, and using Natu relies on game-deciding 50/50s in the first few turns. Given that Archen and Wingull are niche picks to begin with, having Timburr as the only solid inclusion on balance would limit metagame variety severly if we allow Webs to survive into SCL.
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Hi everybody! I'm here to show the results from the Post LCPL X Survey.

Wanted to quickly thank everyone who took the time to fill it out. I know it's not much but we really learned a lot from what you guys write. And while there are some comedians in the community, there genuinely was some good feedback that we plan on taking moving forward.

I'm going to go over the general results of the survey first and then at the end, use our more curated list to determine results. The curated list was essentially played in LCPL or recently attained reqs in an LC suspect test. I don't have fun graphs for the latter as we did this manually but hopefully, you'll still be able to get a good idea of the results.

Just over half of the survey results were 8 or higher, which is awesome. I'm really happy that most people are enjoying a post-Vullaby LC. The average was a high 6, so all-in-all, people seem to enjoy the current meta.

A very nice curve here. I expected this number to be a bit lower than the previous question but it actually averages out to a very low 7. About half of the survey said either a 7 or an 8 to this question, with 83% of people giving a response of 6 or higher.

So this question was a bit of a mess on the graph but if you look at it from the sheet that I was it wasn't so bad. A lot lot lot of people had different ways of writing "webs" so that became a different answer each time. If you added a description here, it also counted as a different answer than just Scraggy. This question was just a check to see if there was anything we missed that wasn't in the upcoming questions. The answer was a resounding no.

Over half the responses here were a 2 or a 3, with nearly a third of people saying a 4 or 5. I'm going to provide a bit more analysis on these questions when we get to the curated responses.

Nearly 50% of the people selected 5 here! Not quite enough to outnumber the majority of people but big number is in fact better.

This is really interesting to me. Most people selected the middle numbers but not many people at all selected 5. Based on the selections, I don't think there are many people who find Grookey to be the most problematic element of the current metagame; however, many people still could see it as something we discuss later on. I'm not really going to discuss Grookey much more moving forward so we'll kick that can down the road for now.

The overwhelming answer was no. Lots of people glossed over the word "else". Some fun answers in here though.

This question was interesting as well because I expected a majority of the playerbase to just say Scraggy, while the curated playerbase would have said something else. Possibly Foo or Grookey. It was actually more of the inverse. The general community said things varying from Ponyta to Koffing, while the curated playerbase mostly stuck to Scraggy.

:[ See below.

It didn't even bother giving me a chart for this one because of how many unique answers there were. There were only about 10 N/A. The most popular unexplored mons were Cottonee and Slowpoke with nearly everything else getting 1-2 responses.

The rest of the questions were open-ended so I'm going to redact those. Now to move onto the more curated responses. This is going to be all words so if you were just in it for fun now would be an okay time to stop reading.

This is where things get a little tricky. The higher up on the scale you go for players, the more of a preference there appears to be for Sticky Web. When everyone who makes the list is factored in, Scraggy is the clear answer. Scraggy reached an average ban threshold of 4 and a half, while webs were at about 3 and a half, with grookey being closer to 2. As we move up a bit higher going into only trophy tournament level players, we get more of a split, with nearly a 60/40 split in favor of webs. Mind you, this is the top level of LC but you need to discount quite a lot of people to get to these totals. As someone who favors a Sticky Web ban personally (and has for quite a while), it seemed to be a slam dunk answer. But the more we waited the more I realized we could be in a bit of an echo chamber. This was the reason I went ahead with this survey. If the answers were closer between the two, it would have been very clear to take the go-ahead on Sticky Web and worry about Scraggy later. Now I'm not so certain that's the right direction. All of that being said based on the survey, there seems to be an agreement that both of these things are problematic. At this point, it comes down to which would we like to do first. I'm not going to answer that question here or now but I think the answer is going to come to light, and fast. Regardless, I wanted to take the time to thank all of you reading this. You all give back so much to this community and sometimes the small things go unnoticed. Even if it's just playing and building fun teams I'm really thankful that the community we share is considerate, friendly, and genuinely wholesome people. I hope we all remember that in the coming days, and anytime we have a discussion involving tiering.

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