Metagame NP: ZU Stage 11.2 - Pink Soldiers - Ninjask + Palosand @11

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Tuthur

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:ss/malamar:



Malamar has risen to one of the most proeminent setup sweeper in the ZeroUsed metagame with its Contrary Superpower RestTalk set. Due to Bug-types move becoming rarer with Eldegoss rising and VoltTurn getting worse due to Basculin, Wishiwashi, Cinccino, and Perrserker leaving the tier, Malamar has got harder to force out and gets more setup opportunities.

Malamar's natural bulk paired with Defense boosts from Superpower and RestTalk to remove status allows it to use most defensive staples like Rhydon, Altaria, and Tangela as setup fodder. Most physical wallbreakers like Swords Dance Qwilfish, Klinklang, and Rapidash cannot defeat a Superpower boosted Malamar, while the most common special wallbreakers such as Jynx, Exeggutor, and Rotom that can target Malamar's unboosted Special Defense are heavily weakened if not outright OHKO by Knock Off, likewise Trick users can't switch-in in fear of fainting or losing their Choice items in order to lock Malamar. Denying Superpower boosts with a faster Ghost-type like Rotom and Gourgeist-Small is also quite risky as STAB Knock Off deals massive damage to them. Outside the rare Fairy-types, Malamar hits the whole metagame for at least neutral damage and it can even defeat some of them; Clefairy straight up loses as Moonblast fails to 4HKO Malamar and Galarian Rapidash can't safely switch-in the combination of Superpower into Knock Off.

Malamar has some sturdy answers, however. Alcremie is one of the best Pokemon in the tier and easily counters Malamar. Defensive teams in general have a lot of nicher options to deal with Malamar such as Golbat, Spiritomb, and Pyukumuku. While more offensive teams have numerous common checks like Swords Dance Silvally-Poison, Accelgor, and Thwackey able to revenge kill a weakened Malamar and offensively pressure it. These offensive teams can also adapt to it with uncommun sets like Worry Seed Tangela and Megahorn Rhydon that can deal with Malamar.



  • ***THIS IS NEW TO GEN 8 SUSPECTS*** Reading this is mandatory for participating in the suspect test. The voting requirements are a minimum GXE of 77 with at least 50 games played. In addition, you may play 1 less game for every 0.2 GXE you have above 77 GXE, down to a minimum of 30 games at a GXE of 81. Also, needing more than 50 games to reach 77 GXE will suffice.
GXEminimum games
7750
77.249
77.448
77.647
77.846
7845
78.244
78.443
78.642
78.841
7940
79.239
79.438
79.637
79.836
8035
80.234
80.433
80.632
80.831
8130

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5Dots

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SQUIDDLE ME THIS: A MALAMAR OVERVIEW
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1. WHAT DOES MALAMAR DO?
Malamar is a bulky setup sweeper that preys upon fatter and weakened builds thanks to its respectable special bulk to easily stomach hits from defensive Pokemon like Stunfisk, Alolan Persian, and Cramorant. The combination of Contrary Superpower + Knock Off allows it to act as an offensive Bulk Up user, building its defenses while increasing its offensive pressure. Contrary also makes it a good Defog deterrent, discouraging common hazard removers like Altaria and Articuno from removing Stealth Rock. Knock Off gives With Rest + Sleep Talk, Malamar also acts as a decent status absorber.
2. WHAT ARE ITS CHECKS? ARE THEY RELIABLE?
Malamar gets a lot of setup opportunities if a team lacks one, sometimes more, of the following checks and counters:
  • Alcremie (Shiinotic also works, but is much less popular)
  • A sturdy Ghost-type (Sableye, Spiritomb, Worry Seed Gourgeist-XL)
  • Sufficent offensive pressure (wallbreakers such as Choice Band Sawk, Flapple Choice Specs Exeggutor)
  • U-turn users (Lots of examples; most notable ones include Silvally formes, Thwackey, Liepard)
  • Phasing/Haze users (Throh, defensive Poliwrath, Roar/Haze Articuno and Altaria)
A good number of teams will naturally have one of them, depending on the archetype. However, checking Malamar throughout the course of a game is easier said than done. Since Malamar usually cleans up weakened teams, such checks/counters will either be too weak to check it, or would have already fainted by then. Alcremie is tasked with handling many other walls and wallbreakers alike, which can be exploited throughout the course of a game. As Tuthur mentioned, Clefairy is too weak against Malamar, while Galarian Rapidash‘s mediocre bulk makes it very shaky as a check The aformentioned Ghost-types can be exploited through Toxic, and can lack in damage output against more offensive teams. More offensive Ghosts, like Rotom and Gourgeist-S, are not consistent due to their much lower bulk. Sufficent offensive pressure and U-turn users, while they can discourage Malamar from doing damage in the early stages of the game, tend to falter late-game. This happens more often than not, as Malamar often comes in against a weakened, slower breaker when there isn’t any more healthy teammates left, grabbing the valuable Superpower boost and being too bulky to break, which causes the remaining attackers to lose against it. Lastly, Throh and defensive Poliwrath were difficult to fit on teams outside bulky builds while Articuno and Altaria hated losing their items.

Bug-types like Accelgor and Crustle were also used to discourage Malamar from getting too far, though they were still hard to fit and didn’t possess the general utility all the other examples were listed.
3. WHY DOES THAT MATTER?
Since many of Malamar‘s checks/counters can be overwhelmed over the course of the game through offensive pressure, this leaves them to not be healthy enough to check Malamar late-game, should they manage to live this long. Recently, ”Malamar tests” were done to see if a team had sufficent measures to take on the squid. If a team didn’t have reliable ways to handle it, said team would fail the test. Teams without an answer could very easily lose the game on the spot if they didn’t have a reliable answer to it. As such, Malamar restricts teambuilding and makes it an unhealthy presence in a lot of battles.

Here are some example games which showed Malamar’s lethal potential at an opening:
1 2 3 4 5

Originally, I believed it shouldn’t have been banned since its damage output was weak before boosting, Alcremie was a common presence, and there was enough offensive pressure to prevent it from getting out of hand. However, I lean a bit towards BAN because of how difficult it is to actually maintain enough healthy checks. I am excited to see more thoughts on the squid!
 
Sufficent offensive pressure (wallbreakers such as Choice Band Sawk, Flapple Choice Specs Exeggutor)
Phasing/Haze users (Throh, defensive Poliwrath, Roar/Haze Articuno and Altaria)
So these two are correct but only to an extent. I've been playing quite a bit of hyper offense and while it does have an easier time against malamar, its not hard for it to just sack something on like a knock off locked Sawk and come in and click super power and win unless the breakers you have specifically are specially offensive nukes and that you can sack mons enough to get its HP low enough to where you can chew through its bulk. Blanket offensive pressure has not felt like enough and you really still have to go out of your way to cover it.

As far as the Phasing goes, you really have to pair it with Haze or another mon that wins 1v1 against Malamar because you run the risk of losing to last mon Malamar where your phasing no longer works. I've liked using Circle Throw Poliwraith + Haze Articuno to deal with it but one or the other doesn't work. You need both.



I think at its core Malamar is a pokemon that you're either dedicated to beating or you're going to lose 100 out of 100 games against it. There's very little in the way of practical gameplay that a team not fully dedicated to beating it can work around a bad match up like you can other weaknesses. It will come in and bulldoze through whatever you have. Coupled that with the counter play to Malamar really not fitting on a lot of the conventional building cores outside Alcremie, it leaves you in a spot where most teams have just defaulted to using Alcremie as their option for Malamar and not even bothering with other options because they just don't fit nicely in teams naturally.

I'm pro ban on it.
 

Heracross2.0

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:ss/Malamar:

Usually I don't comment on ZU suspect tests because I believe that all of them are forgone conclusion (except for the Room one but I didn't care about that one), but while playing, I think I have something interesting to say.

First of all, I don't find Malamar to be banworthy. A lot of the time, Malamar wins not because it's some broken beast that can plow through all of its switch-ins with ease, but because people don't actually prep for it, it gets a good matchup, and it wins. For example:


Here are some example games which showed Malamar’s lethal potential at an opening:
1 2 3 4 5
4 out of 5 of these games don't have defensive Malamar counterplay, and even then, numerous misplays were made that allowed Malamar to sweep (Itchy using Defog with a Malamar in the back, Fruits harding Accelgor into a boosted Malamar instead of preserving it for later). The only game to have some sort of defensive Malamar counterplay, the 2nd replay, used Clefairy, which has been stated to be a poor Malamar switch-in due to not 3HKOing it (although you can run Knock + SpAtk investment to do so). It seems to me that the opposing players just did not prepare for Malamar, and I would be much more convinced of Malamar being banworthy if replays were shown where teams with dedicated Malamar counterplay still lost to a Malamar team due to Malamar.

I also understand the point behind Malamar being overcentralizing, as having to run Alcremie on every team in order to not lose sounds awful. However, I think people are understating the consistency of Malamar's defensive counterplay. It really is easy as just slapping Alcremie on a team and calling it a day, as without dedicated team support, Malamar can not hope to get pass Alcremie. Shiinotic is underrated and sometimes hard to fit but equally effective; it threatens Malamar out with a Moonblast, has reliable recovery, and capitalizes on switches with Spore. There are also some underrated options teams could explore, like Jolly Megahorn Rhydon and Worry Seed Tangela, who can surprise Malamar. Finally, I think just keeping the pressure up on Malamar via entry hazards and breakers is enough to at least manage Malamar, as it has to rely on Rest for recovery. I haven't found it difficult to force Malamar to Rest and abuse that.

However, I also feel like suspecting Malamar was the wrong move, and it is merely a symptom of a greater problem in the tier. I am not as experienced in ZU as other players are, but I feel the tier is heavily oversaturated in offensive threats that pigeonhole players into using specific cores in order to not instantly lose to them. I could name quite a few that are arguably constraining, like Sawk, Rotom, and even Carracosta (how do you even prep for this defensively), but I constantly find myself coming back to two mons: Klinklang and Alcremie. For Klinklang, most of its counterplay loses to Toxic sets, and stuff that doesn't, like Qwilfish, often lose to Wild Charge sets (in fact I've seen players say fuck it and run both). Often, it gets to the point where the best Klinklang counterplay on a team is your own Klinklang, which to me speaks volumes about how warping Klinklang is. Alcremie, in comparison, is less warping but equally problematic imo. It has nearly perfect coverage for the tier, gets plenty of opening via its solid typing and bulk, and if you don't have an immediate answer to the Double Dance, then it's gg shake my hand. Between these two, I find myself constantly following a very linear teambuilding phase consisting of Alcremie, Klinklang, Klinklang "counter", Defogger, and two filler slots, which I think in the long term will sterilize teambuilding and become boring to play.

Overall, although I understand why someone would find Malamar banworthy, I disagree, and think that banning Malamar would not solve the issues that Klinklang and Alcremie bring to the tier.
 

Tuthur

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:ss/Malamar:

Usually I don't comment on ZU suspect tests because I believe that all of them are forgone conclusion (except for the Room one but I didn't care about that one), but while playing, I think I have something interesting to say.

First of all, I don't find Malamar to be banworthy. A lot of the time, Malamar wins not because it's some broken beast that can plow through all of its switch-ins with ease, but because people don't actually prep for it, it gets a good matchup, and it wins. For example:




4 out of 5 of these games don't have defensive Malamar counterplay, and even then, numerous misplays were made that allowed Malamar to sweep (Itchy using Defog with a Malamar in the back, Fruits harding Accelgor into a boosted Malamar instead of preserving it for later). The only game to have some sort of defensive Malamar counterplay, the 2nd replay, used Clefairy, which has been stated to be a poor Malamar switch-in due to not 3HKOing it (although you can run Knock + SpAtk investment to do so). It seems to me that the opposing players just did not prepare for Malamar, and I would be much more convinced of Malamar being banworthy if replays were shown where teams with dedicated Malamar counterplay still lost to a Malamar team due to Malamar.

I also understand the point behind Malamar being overcentralizing, as having to run Alcremie on every team in order to not lose sounds awful. However, I think people are understating the consistency of Malamar's defensive counterplay. It really is easy as just slapping Alcremie on a team and calling it a day, as without dedicated team support, Malamar can not hope to get pass Alcremie. Shiinotic is underrated and sometimes hard to fit but equally effective; it threatens Malamar out with a Moonblast, has reliable recovery, and capitalizes on switches with Spore. There are also some underrated options teams could explore, like Jolly Megahorn Rhydon and Worry Seed Tangela, who can surprise Malamar. Finally, I think just keeping the pressure up on Malamar via entry hazards and breakers is enough to at least manage Malamar, as it has to rely on Rest for recovery. I haven't found it difficult to force Malamar to Rest and abuse that.

However, I also feel like suspecting Malamar was the wrong move, and it is merely a symptom of a greater problem in the tier. I am not as experienced in ZU as other players are, but I feel the tier is heavily oversaturated in offensive threats that pigeonhole players into using specific cores in order to not instantly lose to them. I could name quite a few that are arguably constraining, like Sawk, Rotom, and even Carracosta (how do you even prep for this defensively), but I constantly find myself coming back to two mons: Klinklang and Alcremie. For Klinklang, most of its counterplay loses to Toxic sets, and stuff that doesn't, like Qwilfish, often lose to Wild Charge sets (in fact I've seen players say fuck it and run both). Often, it gets to the point where the best Klinklang counterplay on a team is your own Klinklang, which to me speaks volumes about how warping Klinklang is. Alcremie, in comparison, is less warping but equally problematic imo. It has nearly perfect coverage for the tier, gets plenty of opening via its solid typing and bulk, and if you don't have an immediate answer to the Double Dance, then it's gg shake my hand. Between these two, I find myself constantly following a very linear teambuilding phase consisting of Alcremie, Klinklang, Klinklang "counter", Defogger, and two filler slots, which I think in the long term will sterilize teambuilding and become boring to play.

Overall, although I understand why someone would find Malamar banworthy, I disagree, and think that banning Malamar would not solve the issues that Klinklang and Alcremie bring to the tier.
The main difference between Malamar and Klinklang/Alcremie is that they don't fall into the same banworthy category imo. I have been quite vocal on the discord about Klinklang and Alcremie probably needing to go as well. Malamar is unhealthy because its counterplay is mostly extremely niche sets of good Pokémon - Offensive Megahorn Rhydon and Worry Seed Tangela - and low ranked Pokemon like Golbat, Spiritomb, and Shiinotic that can't fit on any team. Shiinotic isn't underrated, it is just a bad Pokemon with awful stats that is backed up by a decent typing and Spore. Applying constant offensive pressure is something quite hard for bulky offense teams in ZU, because every defensive staple is setup fodder for Malamar (due to Wishiwashi and Eldegoss leaving), and with Rapidash/Stunfisk being that popular, strong and fast U-turn aren't always a long term solution (see Itchy's game). In my opinion, fat teams and hyper offense can reasonably deal with Malamar because of Alcremie or other niche mon and offensive pressure respectively. However, bulky offensive teams and the more offensive ends of balance (the ones à la TangDash) don't have anything for Malamar. Malamar just invalidates a whole spectrum of teams because its hardest counters only fit in fatter teams while the lighter ones don't work outside Hyper Offense because they don't have the longevity to take on Malamar during long games.

Klinklang and Alcremie are quite broken in my opinion, but there is room to play against them in every archetype, which makes it less pressing to get rid of them. Also, the natural order of things makes it that banning Klinklang first would probably cause Alcremie to be broken and as a result Malamar. While tackling Malamar first leaves us the opportunity to open up the teambuilder and find more options to deal with Klinklang and Alcremie. Also, the team variety in ZU is bigger than the teambuilding scheme you've been using, even if I agree the metagame is heavily restricted.
 

Corthius

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ToxTect is super underrated on Klinklang and gives it a lot more defensive utility as a Steel type due to scouting out moves from choiced pokemon as well as adding more Leftovers recovery which is crucial for fatter teams. Additionally, racking up more Toxic damage versus opponents like Rapidash and Stunfisk making it a lot better in the long matches which are so common in the current state of ZU. Of course it all comes with a price. You mainly lose the safe set up opportunities against foes like Tangela and other status spreading opponents, but that is alright. Both have positives and negatives, not really outweighing each other.
My go-to Klinklang spread at the moment is this:
Klinklang @ Leftovers
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 160 HP / 252 Atk / 96 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Shift Gear
- Gear Grind
- Protect
- Toxic

I had the urge to write this one liner and I have nothing really to talk about. Man Balamar.
 
Malamar is different from not just Alcremie/Klinklang, but most contentious mons in general. As was the case for many ZUBL members like Centiskorch or Groundvally, they found ways to exploit common counterplay either through moveset choices or teammates. At the end of the centi era, the common consensus was pretty much "use qwil or lose" since other answers like coal, dash and alt were predictable enough to play around and wear down over the course of a game. Groundvally lines often ended up with a grass type being uturned on and facing down the barrel of a teammate specifically designed to deal with said grass types. Alcremie and Klinklang, while not as egregious, follow these patterns. Alcremie can run offensive sets to beat the poison and steel types that would usally deal with it, while also having ways to weaken said common answers, like Klinklang and Poisonvally with teammates. Klinklang teams are often designed upon poisoning or otherwise luring the very common Stunfisk so it can sweep (and no magrise sets suck and do not beat it) or in the case of non-Stunfisk teams, getting it in enough times so it can brute-force it way through. So much so that the significantly worse Galarian Stunfisk is rising in usage simply because it is immune to poison (and other slight factors like jynx ofc). Malamar does not follow these patterns in the slightest.
  • Alcremie (Shiinotic also works, but is much less popular)
  • A sturdy Ghost-type (Sableye, Spiritomb, Worry Seed Gourgeist-XL)
  • Sufficent offensive pressure (wallbreakers such as Choice Band Sawk, Flapple Choice Specs Exeggutor)
  • U-turn users (Lots of examples; most notable ones include Silvally formes, Thwackey, Liepard)
  • Phasing/Haze users (Throh, defensive Poliwrath, Roar/Haze Articuno and Altaria)
If you do not have one of these and your opponent does not play like a single-celled organism, you will most likely always lose to Malamar. Similarly, if you run a fairy (or one of the better half of ghosts mentioned) and use more than two braincells to play, you will most likely never lose to Malamar.
4 out of 5 of these games don't have defensive Malamar counterplay, and even then, numerous misplays were made that allowed Malamar to sweep (Itchy using Defog with a Malamar in the back, Fruits harding Accelgor into a boosted Malamar instead of preserving it for later). The only game to have some sort of defensive Malamar counterplay, the 2nd replay, used Clefairy, which has been stated to be a poor Malamar switch-in due to not 3HKOing it (although you can run Knock + SpAtk investment to do so). It seems to me that the opposing players just did not prepare for Malamar, and I would be much more convinced of Malamar being banworthy if replays were shown where teams with dedicated Malamar counterplay still lost to a Malamar team due to Malamar.

I also understand the point behind Malamar being overcentralizing, as having to run Alcremie on every team in order to not lose sounds awful. However, I think people are understating the consistency of Malamar's defensive counterplay. It really is easy as just slapping Alcremie on a team and calling it a day, as without dedicated team support, Malamar can not hope to get pass Alcremie. Shiinotic is underrated and sometimes hard to fit but equally effective; it threatens Malamar out with a Moonblast, has reliable recovery, and capitalizes on switches with Spore. There are also some underrated options teams could explore, like Jolly Megahorn Rhydon and Worry Seed Tangela, who can surprise Malamar. Finally, I think just keeping the pressure up on Malamar via entry hazards and breakers is enough to at least manage Malamar, as it has to rely on Rest for recovery. I haven't found it difficult to force Malamar to Rest and abuse that.
This isn't wrong, but that's also kind of the point. A lot of teams can't/don't want to run a fairy type and just lose. Replays where teams with dedicated Malamar counterplay lose to Malamar are few and far between and usually involve a huge skill gap or a throw. As is mentioned, it really can't hope to get past Alcremie/Shiinotic and this makes it an inherently risky choice. Are you really going to bring Malamar to a tour game vs say, an opponent with 70% cake usage? Are you bringing it vs a known stall user? Do you bring it vs me and pray to not run into the godshroom? Are you really going to risk your opponent using one of the many viable vallies and getting momentum'd? Many other top tiers, be they under contention or not, can adapt. Klang can run subtox vs a fisk spammer or use a powerful grass type that abuses it, cake can run mfire for klang, Sawk can run black belt and/or different coverage moves, Rotom has like 6 different sets that all have different mu's, don can beat slow grasses with sd Megahorn or stall them out with Toxic, Thwackey can always pivot out, the list goes on. The best Malamar can do is knock w/e counterplay is used. Malamar is entirely a builder issue, and one's judgment of it should depend on how much one thinks it constricts building.
Malamar is unhealthy because its counterplay is mostly extremely niche sets of good Pokémon - Offensive Megahorn Rhydon and Worry Seed Tangela - and low ranked Pokemon like Golbat, Spiritomb, and Shiinotic that can't fit on any team. Shiinotic isn't underrated, it is just a bad Pokemon with awful stats that is backed up by a decent typing and Spore.
Not to nitpick, but I have a couple of issues with this. I don't think Megahorn Rhydon should ever be considered an "extremely niche set" since its fourth moveslot is pretty free, and your judgement of the three lower ranked mons mentioned is too subjective. Personally I don't like Golbat or Spiritomb either and think they're both overrated, but I'm not going to deny that they can work, and have worked. The last line especially feels spiteful for no apparent reason; Shiinotic also fits best on the type of offensive teams you claim are the weakest to Malamar (with which I agree). If I were to never run any grass types, then Rhydon would be broken vs me. If I didn't like ground types, Rotom would own me. That doesn't mean they're broken. Obviously these examples are far more drastic than refusing to use a couple of lower ranked mons, but this still isn't an unhealthy level of adaptation. This was my main gripe during the Groundvally suspect; people refused to use its best answer despite it doing well vs the suspect target as well as the meta at large, both then and now, even if Groundvally was broken. Malamar could still very well be broken despite the adaptations but I think it's too early to tell.

At this point, I'm not entirely convinced Malamar is broken, and even though this suspect was obviously timed to get rid of it before zupl, I'd like to see how it performs there. Klinklang is defo sus and already constricts building significantly, would like to see more on that thing. My tldr on Alcremie is pretty much 'double dance bad bc it's rarely the right set and even then it gets crit" and "offensive cake good". If it ever gets more controversial I'll make a more detailed post about it. Was planning to write about potentially unbanning stuff as well but ig that'll have to wait.
Also tuthur don't kill me just bc I tagged you pls.
 

Corthius

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:bw/Carracosta:
Carracosta @ Life Orb
Ability: Solid Rock
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
Naughty Nature
- Shell Smash
- Stone Edge
- Hydro Pump
- Aqua Jet
(Yes I love Gen5 sprites)
Carracosta is a pretty straight forward pokemon with abusing Shell Smash, one of the best boosting moves in the game. With Thwackey's usage declining more as a trend to the current metagame, this pokemon becomes incredibly scarier very easily. On most teams I opt for the set above because in my eyes you 100% need Life Orb & +Atk in order to fully make use of Aqua Jet, if you don't run that you might as well use a different spread. But that is personal preferance. You ask yourself why I run a priority move on a speed boosting sweeper? Well, Carracosta sports a base speed of 32, making it incredibly slow even at +2. Thus, common fast pokemon and Choice Scarf user like Rotom can revengekill it even after a boost. Aqua Jet can circumvent this issue with the help of a little chip damage on these faster pokemon, killing Rotom after only two rounds of Stealth Rock damage (I'll provide damage calcs at the end). Hydro Pump + Stone Edge act as strong mixed STAB attacks with great type coverage. Hydro Pump, boosted by Life Orb, has a good shot at OHKOing knocked off Tangela after Stealth Rock at +2, breaking what people could think is a check.
The key in my eyes is to not rely on Carracosta as a sweeper but moreso a breaker that can potentially also win in a good matchup. It also doesn't have to click SS and can just make use of its offensive typing and Life Orb STABs still hurt quite a bit.
Carracosta can be tough to use, especially in matchups that have basically unbreakable pokemon for it like Poliwrath or versus very offensive teams. Choice Scarf Gourgeist-Small is also a guranteed roadblock, unless we count missing. Speaking of missing, having to rely on not only one but two 80% STAB attacks makes Carracosta really unrelialble, which only adds onto not relying on it being a sweeper but rather breaking. Still really frustrating because I have lost a bunch of games due to misses.
Generally, Carracosta feels really underrated and should see some more usage and I bet with more usage it can even discover some more sets, maybe Zen Headbutt if Poliwrath becomes more popular or a full special set with Ice Beam? We will see! Peace.
 

S1nn0hC0nfirm3d

aka Ho3nConfirm3d
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What do ninjas and sand castles have in common? If you guessed "they're both illegal in Hawaii," you guessed right! I also would have accepted the answer that Ninjask and Palossand are the newest drops to SS ZU :)

:ninjask: Speaking from my own hype and experience in NU, where Ninjask stayed for most of the generation, I can say this mon is a threat worth looking at scrupulously. It's a simple combo where Ninjask is capable of wearing down its checks with U-turn till there's an eventual 50/50 to SD and sweep. The two sets would likely stay the same, with itemless Acrobatics at the top of Ninjask's potential and Heavy-Duty Boots Dual Wingbeat being a compromise for power in exchange for less support needed. Teams that rely on :miltank:, :tangela:, :persian-alola:, and :uxie: as primary physical walls will need to adapt in some way to prevent a dangerous U-turn cycle from Ninjask. Also note that frailer offensive picks like :rotom: and :klinklang: also fall to this strategy, with the former notable for +2 Acrobatics doing upwards to 92%. Its speed makes traditional revnege killers out of the question, and some priority users like :thwackey: and :gurdurr: can't do much either.

There are a lot of factors dependent in ZU that makes me think Ninjask has the potential to stay, and it could even be healthy to some degree. For starters, there are a ton of ways to wear it down through adverse contact effects and chip damage. Ninjask also isn't even that strong, so there's no way it's going to sweep straight up and counterplay to stop sweeps can be as varried as keeping a neutral bulky attacker around that doesn't go down to one hit. We still have walls like :altaria:, :rapidash:, :qwilfish:, :cramorant:, and :articuno: that resist U-turn and some even punish it through Flame Body / Rocky Helmet. Chip damage is tough for Ninjask to deal with itself because of how little wiggle room it has to setup SD; losing say ~20% of its HP could mean the difference of securing a boost or going down to a hit. On the other side of things, some walls vulnerable to repeated U-turn usage like :stunfisk: and :rhydon: at least make for good stops for sweeps. If all else fails, more teams might try introducing defensive counters like :rotom-s: and :coalossal: + varied offensive play from priority users like :piloswine: and :sableye:.

Ninjask
Ability: Speed Boost
EVs: 232 HP / 252 Atk / 24 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Swords Dance
- U-turn
- Acrobatics
- Protec

Use Acrobatics to its full extent to revenge kill Fighting- and Grass-types, then when you need to, try setting up a Swords Dance. The EV spread makes it so Ninjask is just one point faster than Alolan Persian, as anything more isn't necessary + the HP investment is worth it.

Ninjask @ Heavy-Duty Boots
Ability: Speed Boost
EVs: 232 HP / 252 Atk / 24 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Swords Dance
- U-turn
- Dual Wingbeat
- Protect

Heavy-Duty Boots is nice because it turns Ninjask into a U-turn machine. Just keep clicking that green button. Dual Wingbeat is very weak a lot of the time so don't expect it to do much besides revenge kill Sawk; but even that's an approx. 93.8% chance to OHKO not counting the chance to miss! I don't like this set because of this move. Its plausible this variant could be the opposite as a above and be a better revenge killer and maybe afford more speed but I think you ought to just keep it as is.

OO: Night Slash always 2HKOes Rotom, even if its Colbur Berry! It's a tough cost over Protect (note that Acrobatics is stronger on most targets even if it's resisted), but if teams have different phazers and priority users then maybe Ninjask can forgo some of its role as a revenge killer. Choice Band looks like it takes the worst parts of both sets for the strongest U-turn possible right off the bat; don't think thats worth it. More speed investment is always an idea, but so is putting the HP EVs into say Defense to net a new setup opportunity; instead of a coinflip, you always live Multi-Attack from Silvally-Dark and -Poison with Def over HP.

:Palossand: I have less to say about Palossand, but I like its addition. For starters, we've always had some hype around :runerigus: as a wall, and this seems like a straight upgrade thanks to Shore Up. I like that its another check to Rock- and Fighting-types (man Sawk really sawks now huh) so I see partners like :rapidash:, :articuno:, and :miltank: all helping out. It's not a consistent check to :skuntank: and :morpeko: but Earth Power still does a ton and Colbur Berry (or alternative anti-weakness berries) adds a solid angle to its matchups. Is it too much of a wall? Far from it. Outside of one berry use, given it's the right one too, Palossand is easy to target by a ton of offensive Pokemon and walls alike. The flip side is that say offensive Ghost- and Dark-types won't always net free switch-ins thanks to the good coverage of its STAB attacks, but walls like :tangela:, :cramorant:, and Toxic :miltank: usually won't worry about these attacks and are more than capable of beating it 1v1.

Palossand @ Colbur Berry
Ability: Water Compaction
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Shadow Ball
- Earth Power
- Shore Up
- Stealth Rock / Toxic

A physical investment is likely the most important for Palossand so it can use Earth Power to check the likes of Klinklang (+1 252+ Atk Klinklang Gear Grind (40.6 - 48.6%) -- approx. 3HKO), offensive Rapidash, Kangaskhan, Alolan Dugtrio, Sawk, and Morpeko. Note that even with the most special bulk, Pallossand is still 2HKOed by Rotom, +1 Work Up Silvally-Poison, and +2 Skuntank, so I can't find anything else where more special bulk could be worthwhile. Toxic is okay over SR if you want something to actually punish switch-ins, as otherwise bulky stuff like Miltank and Artiuno just come in for free.

OO: Palossand's items are really cool here and I think this is where we can see a lot of experimentation. For starters, Colbur Berry does have some good matchups versus Morpeko, Skuntank, Gurdurr, and Choice Band Sawk, so come into these items full disclosure of what the tradeoff is. Kasib Berry might be my favorite idea to try out because it means you can switch into Rotom on Volt Switch and force a Shadow Ball trade. Without Kasib berry, Palossand is basically out of commission, and it also means if you messup the read and switch right into Shadow Ball then the whole risk is ruined. With Kasib berry, Palossand takes less then half and you have a 31.3% chance to OHKO the Rotom; time to setup with Ninjask? I also like this combo versus Poltergiest users as it's bulky enough to tank the hit then get the immunity––not really that great versus Gourgiest and Trevenant but it's something. Rocky Helmet could work if u want to chip Ninjask and other pivots but the added vulnerability to Knock Off likely isn't worth it.

What do you think of the drops? Let us know! Speaking moreso on behalf of myself rather than all of council, I will say I favor a potential QB of say Ninjask if we do think it's too strong and then resuspect testing post-ZUPL. I don't think that's necessary right now off my first impressions with Ninjask's impression, but I'd argue that a retest in a month or so for Ninjask wouldn't be the worst if it comes to that.
Have fun with the two new mons!
 

Corthius

Do I have Alzheimer or why don't I remember asking
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:bw/Ninjask:
I have been very vocal about my opinion on Ninjask. I do think it will turn out to be unhealthy for the tier.
The biggest thing with Ninjask is that you will, with very few exeptions like Piloswine, be on the backfoot offensively no matter what you bring in vs it. Due to speed boost in conjunction with Protect scouting out moves of Choice Scarf pokemon, you can't out-offense Ninjask. This leaves us with almost soley defensive counterplay to Ninjask which is already warping a lot. I can see Ninjask forcing a lot of teams to become really fat in order to deal with the offensive VoltTurn teams that will skyrocket in viability so you're left with these two playstyles because other HO just isn't worth it because of Ninjask.
Now for the second part something that S1nn0hC0nfirm3d hasn't mentioned at all is that Ninjask isn't necessarly trying to sweep on the spot and losing ~20% of its healthy doesn't matter too much if you get of a free U-turn that brings in what ever you feel like pairing with Ninjask. Due to the lack of offensive counterplay, the opponent facing Ninjask will always be the one that has to react to you. Got a Coalossal in? Just bring in your CB Lycranroc-Midnight and punish them. (Btw this is also really cool for chipping down some of Ninjask checks like Stunfisk and Klinklang for a sweep). You can punish Ninjask via contact abilities and items and getting rid of these drains momentum for the Ninjask user, but its not like you don't have a freaking Ninjask that regains momentum so easily.
Breaker for Ninjask can be really different too. You can pick a breaker that abuses whatever tries to switch into Ninjask like a Sawk, Lycdog or similar things OR using a breaker that has similar checks to itself and wears down Ninjask checks. The second categories plays a 'slower Ninjask game' with partners like utility Rotom (this one is so busted with Ninjask lmfao) and Skuntank crippling and effectively wearing down pokemon like Stunfisk, Klinklang and Rhydon in order for Ninjask to win in the end.

I am curious on how things turn out for Ninjask. Maybe my PTSD from NU is too big (and it makes Thwackey bad )<: ) and I will cry myself into sleep tonight but I am willing to give it a chance.
I have nothing to say about the castle, I want viet noa to make the post about this! :bat:
 

viet noa

eating neopronoun pizza at little xe/xyrs
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Welcome Home, Palossand!

After over a year of grieving its departure, where it was stuck in B Tier in PU but not uncommon enough to drop down, Palossand is finally back in ZU. If you've spent 1 minute talking to me about SS ZU, you'd know that I was wishing for this moment for a long time. So, just how exciting is Palossand's return to ZU?

:ss/palossand:

Palossand's Sets

Palossand @ Colbur Berry / Rocky Helmet
Ability: Water Compaction
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Bold Nature
- Stealth Rock
- Earth Power / Scorching Sands
- Shadow Ball
- Shore Up

Palossand serves as a defacto physical wall with great recovery in Shore Up and access to Stealth Rock, traits that almost no other ZU Pokemon holds at the same time. Colbur Berry makes it a Knock Off absorber that can more consistently counter Sawk, whereas Rocky Helmet gives it a better matchup versus Klinklang. Earth Power is its go-to STAB with reliable damage output, but Scorching Sands is useful for its Burn chance. Shadow Ball means that attackers like Rotom, Uxie, and the Gourgeist formes can't always switch into it.

:ss/sawk::ss/klinklang:

Sandcastle vs. Goliath - Checking Sawk & Klinklang

With the absence of Pokemon like Wishiwashi, Cofagrigus, and more, Sawk and Klinklang have both elevated to dominate the tier. The lack of reliable bulky Ghost-types and Fairy-types has really assisted in making Sawk rise from a fantastic wallbreaker to a nearly unwallable one (once Alcremie is done with). The physical walls that can tank Klinklang's boosted Gear Grinds are also typically unable to deal damage back - just look at Tangla, for example. As a result, even if they haven't been completely banworthy, Sawk and Klinklang have both been quite centralizing threats that every team has to fear.

Palossand returning isn't going to change their top-tier status any time soon, to be clear. With that said, being able to check both of these threats gives Palossand crucial role compression for teams that need it. Frankly, Palossand is a hard counter to Sawk with a Colbur Berry equipped. Even without one, it still doesn't get 2HKOed by Knock Off unless Sawk runs the uncommon Choice Band set. Although it doesn't have a resistance, Palossand cleanly 2HKOs Klinklang and can take two Gear Grinds from a +1 Klinklang. This is really important, as other Ground-types like Piloswine and Rhydon are weak to it, and the Stunfisk formes have no reliable recovery. It doesn't completely counter Klinklang, as it can be overwhelmed by repeated hits, but it is a very solid check to it, which is something most walls can't say in ZU.

Palossand, as a result, may have been the perfect ZU veteran to come back. It's going to play an absolutely essential role in keeping those top tiers in check, and is able to provide longevity to defensive cores that severely need it. Palossand can also serve as a great check to other physical attackers, too. Silvally-Poison, Rhydon, Lycanroc-Midnight, and Gurdurr all have to respect its defensive capabilities.

:ss/thwackey::ss/froslass::ss/poliwrath:

Who Scares Out Palossand?

Another part of my excitement for Palossand's return is that for all of its strengths, it does have clear weaknesses. Besides being not immune to Toxic, Palossand does have quite a few notable type disadvantages. The most obvious of which is Thwackey, who although fears a Scorching Sands burn, still smokes it with Grassy Glide. Froslass may not be switching into it any time soon, but given the opportunity, a banded Poltergeist or Triple Axel will entirely mess it up. Poliwrath is another noticeable threat, given that it can successfully land a Specs Hydro Pump. Even if it misses, it has the bulk to handle whatever viable attacks Palossand throws at it. Water Compaction might be great, but it doesn't matter if you're getting OHKOed by a special attack.

Other Pokemon that directly scare it include, but are not limited to: Jynx, Appletun, Exeggutor, Sun teams, the Gourgeist formes, CB Morpeko, and Specs Rotom.

:ss/miltank::ss/articuno::ss/alcremie:

Who Are Palossand's Favorite Partners?

To help elevate Palossand's strengths and reduce the impact of its weaknesses, good defensive cores need to be built with it in mind. Miltank stands out as the immediate thought when it comes to good partners, with Palossand's hazard setting ability letting Miltank run Heal Bell. They also have great type synergy, with Miltank absorbing Ghost and Ice-type attacks while Palossand takes Fighting-type attacks. Articuno's special bulk is great for when Palossand needs a wall to protect itself from special attackers. Articuno can take Grass, Ice, and Water-type special attacks that threaten Palossand out. In general, Articuno is a great special wall, so Palossand can definitely lean on it. Alcremie is the last great partner I'd like to point out, thanks to Palossand handling the two types that scare Alcremie out. Furthermore, with Alcremie hard countering Sawk, Palossand is more free to run Rocky Helmet to boost its Klinklang matchup.

Conclusively ... Welcome Back, Palossand. We Missed You!
 
Hello fellow ZU’ers. Within the past day, we’ve seen two new mons drop into the tier, Ninjask and Pallosand. While I am not a judge, jury, or executioner, I do believe I can put out a common consensus on the immediate uses of Ninjask. It seems overpowered comparative to the meta at hand.

Two of our Best ZU pokemon that run Scarf, Sawk and Rotom, can be beaten out by a Dual Wings Beats/Acrobatics respectively, and a Night Slash. I’ve seen bulk sets take a hit to get a swords dance off, and revenge killing seems only possible with Priority users, something we lack as a common place staple in our current meta. Even our best user, CB Thwackey, is Quad Resisted, and this isn’t even considering the fact that Ninjask can beat it out with either stab.

I think at the moment, Klinklang is the best answer for Ninjask directly, however it can fairly easily falter when one considers that Ninjask is not the only team member in a party. Ninjask is a phenomonal late game sweeper thus far, and is very difficult to beat.

Pallosand seems to be thriving in a more positive way at the moment. Its a great Spin Blocker with recovery, and Toxic. On top of a Terrific STAB Ground and Ghost, it seems like it could be a more sustainable Set Up, or another great adition to the non NFE Walls in ZU.

Last but not least, Golbat. I’m not sure if I’m remembering correctly, but I believe it was banned earlier in the season, only to have been rereleased back to ZU. I’ve not seen much of it, which may be because it was never banned in the first place. I do not know. HOWEVER, it IS a Bulky Defoger, Poison Typing, and its possible to run many different offensive stats with moves like Nasty Plot, or simply invest in its higher physical attack. Either way, its always good to see new Anti Hazards drop into the tier.

Side Notes for now: While playing in Ladder today, it seems like Sand may be breaking into ZU, with Hippopotas and Stoutland being the faces of it. Will this new weather centric team resemble the fear we all faced months ago, when Aroras and Alolan Sandslash blew through the tier after its checks had been moved to PU? Or will we see it settle in as the anti weather to Sun, something that has been not overpowered, but reliable with great setters, Liepard and Uxie. Only time will tell fellow ZUers, only time will tell.

Again, I am only making small predictions after viewing what has developed over today. I also have been echoing some sentiments from other ZU players who have feared Ninjask falling into the tiers hands. I am again, not a Judge, Jury, or Executioner, I just enjoyr putting my thoughts on here after playing for weeks and months before this. Have a good night/day y’all.
 
Heyo! :D

This is my first post, but I have something that might be interesting to share. My name is Luca and I think I peaked at 1400s in the ladder, but I'm still considerably new to the format. However, I have at least 8 years of experience using weird mons in ways that they aren't intended to work (using both Sawk and Quagsire, who were both NU at the time to get to the finals of an ORAS OU locals), so I have an idea that on paper seems interesting enough and wanted to start a discussion about it.

:ss/ludicolo:

Ludicolo is almost always used as a rain sweeper, no matter the format, but it has some really interesting defensive moves that people don't really pay much attention to. It has access to Leech Seed, Scald, Giga Drain and Synthesis. Also, its typing makes it completely invalidate every ground type on the tier offensively.

However, how does it deal with the two biggest threats currently?

:ss/sawk:

First we have Sawk, and it doesn't do particularly well (252 Atk Mold Breaker Sawk Close Combat vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Ludicolo: 172-204 (47.5 - 56.3%) -- 28.1% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery), but the Scald threat and its decent enough special attack makes it so Sawk is almost never a safe switch in, specially with hazard support (4 SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Sawk: 100-118 (34.3 - 40.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO).


:ss/klinklang:

And this is the big one. This set almost completely stops Klinklang from sweeping. +1 Klinklang almost 4HKOs with Gear Grind, but with Synthesis, it never really sees a kill (+1 252+ Atk Klinklang Gear Grind (2 hits) vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Ludicolo: 102-120 (28.1 - 33.1%) -- approx. 91.4% chance to 4HKO after Leftovers recovery). Also, Klinklang can never set up free substitutes, since Scald will always break them (4 SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 100 HP / 0 SpD Klinklang: 91-108 (31.8 - 37.7%) -- 0.2% chance to 3HKO after Leftovers recovery). Wild Charge is also not a threat to Ludi, since it has a very low chance to 3HKO (+1 252+ Atk Klinklang Wild Charge vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Ludicolo: 121-143 (33.4 - 39.5%) -- 19.7% chance to 3HKO after Leftovers recovery). Rocky Helmet is another option to deal with Klinklang, but I personally prefer Leftovers because of the Leech Seed + Leftovers combo giving a lot of passive health each turn.

:ss/palossand:

Palossand coming also back makes Ludicolo shine even more, since Ludi is always a safe switch in to the sand castle (0 SpA Palossand Shadow Ball vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Ludicolo: 87-103 (24 - 28.4%) -- possible 5HKO after Leftovers recovery) and can dish out great damage onto it as well, even without much investment (4 SpA Ludicolo Giga Drain vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Palossand: 188-224 (50.2 - 59.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO).

:ss/ninjask:

While Ninjask did come back to terrorise grass types, Ludicolo can incredibly put up a fight against it. Ninjask can never OHKO Ludicolo without a boost (252+ Atk Ninjask Acrobatics (110 BP) vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Ludicolo: 276-326 (76.2 - 90%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery) and never wants to take a Scald on the switch in (4 SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 232 HP / 0 SpD Ninjask: 138-163 (42.9 - 50.7%) -- 2% chance to 2HKO), while Ice Beam variants can OHKO after Stealth Rocks (4 SpA Ludicolo Ice Beam vs. 232 HP / 0 SpD Ninjask: 206-244 (64.1 - 76%) -- guaranteed OHKO). However, if you don't want to run Ice Beam and still want to OHKO after SR while running Leftovers, you're kind of out of luck, since it takes 156 EVs in special attack for Ludicolo to do so, so it's way too heavy of an investment to make (156 SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 232 HP / 0 SpD Ninjask: 162-192 (50.4 - 59.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO)

:ss/tangela: :ss/thwackey:

Another thing to keep in mind is that even though grass types can deal with both of Ludicolo's stabs, Ice Beam variants could easily threat Tangela (4 SpA Ludicolo Ice Beam vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Eviolite Tangela: 160-190 (47.9 - 56.8%) -- 89.1% chance to 2HKO) and Thwackey would never want to get burned by an incoming scald, leaving Appletun as its only true counter in the tier.

Thanks for reading this post and please let me know what you think about this idea.

This is the set I've been using in ladder under my alt account ikayacul, where I wanted to test Whiscash, but this set has been putting more work for the team than the poor moustache fish.

:ss/ludicolo:

lotus (Ludicolo) @ Leftovers / Rocky Helmet
Ability: Rain Dish
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Leech Seed / Synthesis / Toxic / Ice Beam
- Scald
- Giga Drain
- Leech Seed / Synthesis / Toxic / Ice Beam

UPDATE

After talking a little bit about it on the ZU discord, I found an EV spread that might be better.

:ss/ludicolo:

lotus (Ludicolo) @ Leftovers / Rocky Helmet
Ability: Rain Dish
EVs: 252 HP / 104 Def / 132 SpA / 20 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Leech Seed / Toxic / Ice Beam / Knock Off
- Scald
- Giga Drain / Ice Beam
- Synthesis

This EV spread and nature gives enough SpA to 2HKO Eviolite Thwackey after Grassy Terrain with Ice Beam (132+ SpA Ludicolo Ice Beam vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Eviolite Thwackey: 150-178 (53.3 - 63.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery), to 2HKO Piloswine with Scald (132+ SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Eviolite Piloswine: 204-240 (50.4 - 59.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO) and to 2HKO Rotom with Scald (132+ SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Rotom: 124-147 (51.4 - 60.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO), but gives 7 more points in defense in comparison to EVing it to 2HKO without a special attack boosting nature and enough speed to outspeed defensive Poliwrath and max speed Rhydon. The Klinklang matchup becomes significantly worse, since it's always a 3HKO (+1 252+ Atk Klinklang Gear Grind (2 hits) vs. 252 HP / 104 Def Ludicolo: 132-156 (36.4 - 43%) -- approx. 3HKO compared to +1 252+ Atk Klinklang Gear Grind (2 hits) vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Ludicolo: 102-120 (28.1 - 33.1%) -- approx. 4HKO), but it lets Ludicolo have a lot more offensive pressure as a bulky pivot instead of a physical defense wall.

EDIT: Corthius reminded me that this mon also learns Knock Off, so I added it to the set.

Thank you Viet Noa for giving me the speed EVs idea and Czim for bringing up the idea of making it a pivot instead of a wall :D
 
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S1nn0hC0nfirm3d

aka Ho3nConfirm3d
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Ninjask is unanimously banned from ZU by all 5 council members; a suspect test to unban Ninjask starts immediately! Locking this thread. A new NP thread for the suspect test will be up shortly.

Ban reasoning from suspect test thread:

There’s nothing else quite like Ninjask in ZU. It is by far the fastest threat in the metagame, and its combination of STAB U-turn and Swords Dance-boosted Acrobatics caught our eye when it entered the tier about a week ago. The council unanimously agreed to ban Ninjask and immediately open a suspect test for it. Going forward into this year’s ZUPL, this route would preserve the integrity of the current ZU metagame for tournaments while still allowing Ninjask on the ladder for another two weeks of testing.
 
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