Old Gen Lower Tiers - A policy, proposal, and project

Oglemi

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Hello all. I will start off by saying that the context behind the making of this thread can be read starting here: https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/nu-old-gens-hub.3562659/page-3#post-8080478

The tl;dr: Old gen lower tiers, as tiers that are no longer played seriously outside of friendlies and a couple legacy non-important (read: non trophy) tournaments, should be "locked" for all intents and purposes, minus major circumstances, and should not be beholden to any of the other tiers' influences as they are no longer connected (by usage) apart from their existence in the same generation.

The Policy (proposal):

"Old gen lower tiers are locked in a vacuum unless significant issues* arise that need to be addressed through a formal testing stage, vote, and reassessment by a designated old gen leader, tier leader, and a small council** of avid players of the tier in question; Or, if the tier has never been formally assessed*** and tested for balancing issues and current tiering applications.

*Significant issues being defined as the discovery of a new mechanic (ADV SleepTalk), or a new strategy deemed to be uncompetitive (some new BP strategy). Individual Pokemon assessments should only take place in extreme circumstances and a large player majority to be required to change the status quo.

**Council definition TBD, depends on the circumstances and playerbase, could be anywhere from 1 other person besides the old gen leader and tier leader, or a small group.

***Formal assessment and testing being defined as having an individual thread being made to discuss the metagame, tournaments and friendlies being played to test the tier, assessments being made by a leader to determine any problem Pokemon and strategies, trial and then formal suspect tests, repeat until a reassessment determines the tier to be balanced by the leader and the playerbase and then the tier being 'locked'."

The Rundown:

In an ideal world, our old gen lower tiers should be totally locked, never again needing to change. This allows them to remain in the state in which they were once known when the generation ended, allowing them to be picked up and played year after year requiring minimal relearning, etc. This is especially important given how little they are played compared to the current generation and the past gen OUs and the fact that there is little to no stake involved (ie no trophies).

As we all know though, shit happens (read: Crystal_ may make another discovery). In an instance such as this, our lower tiers may also be affected. It is unlikely that a mechanic change may be so drastic as to throw the tier out of whack enough to turn something broken, but the possibility is always there. If this becomes the case, our lower tiers should also be able to adapt by being able to ban a problem if it makes the tier truly unstable. Obviously, this requires some method of being able to give someone the authority to reassess the tier and hold a vote. My proposal lays out a process for doing so by appointing an old gen leader (ill defined right now, but basically someone from RoA or the old gen council known to be well-versed in the tier), the current lower tier leader (probably versed in the tier by association and is trusted to know how to run a vote and assess if something is broken), and a council of some sort to reassess the metagame, play the metagame in tournaments and friendlies, determine a proper voting method and vote, and reassess the tier for balance. If at that point the tier is assumed to be balanced, it is then "relocked" and again immune to outside influences.

The Problem(s):

Some of our old gen lower tiers have never been formally assessed for balance, and by this I mean has never been "tiered" in a way our current gens have been. This applies to any lower tier that existed prior to DPP, as well as some lower tiers that were formed and pursued after the generation passed (DPP NU, BW PU, etc). Because these tiers have not been looked at in a 2019 tiering lens, there may (or may not) be competitive balance issues within these tiers that could be remedied following the procedure posted above.

The conflicting issue is, some of these lower tiers are currently legacy tiers themselves, and some would argue to keep them locked the same as any other old gen lower tier. The main tier that comes to mind is ADV UU. ADV UU is a wonky tier, to say the least. In its current form it does not allow NFEs (except for Scyther), despite most not being broken (except for Kadabra and Chansey). Ideally, we would reassess ADV UU to bring it in line with current tiering standards and allow NFEs to be used in the tier. We could also take a serious look at Baton Pass's influence on the tier, and, if wanted, Kangaskhan and Omastar's placement in the tier as well. The other possibility concerning ADV UU is ADV BL. The two could be recombined and rebalanced in that way (so that they make sense to our current tiering nomenclature, etc), but that is the less desirable (imo) reassessment in regards to this tier as it then wipes out, in essence, two legacy tiers completely. How I think we could reconcile this issue is laid out below.

The Project:

Basically, to formally assess all of our old gen lower tiers, and then once they have been determined to be balanced, lock them down, hopefully forever. The important word here being balanced in a competitive sense. For the purposes of this thread I'm ignoring Ubers and LC, they are totally free to pursue their own tiering methods as they always have. (Whether or not to include "new" tiers like GSC PU I don't think should be a concern wrt this thread.)

Many of our lower tiers are in a very good spot and probably do not require any tweaking. Which is good.

Where and when specifically to do this I'm not sure how to proceed (assuming most people agree with the outlay of this thread). However, in my ideal vision, we would create a thread for each tier and as a community assign it a ranking of 1-5, with 1 being extremely stable and requiring no further assessment thereby locking it, and 5 being extremely unstable and requiring further assessment, and then determining from there the proper course of action to get the tier to a 1.

Sounds way simpler than it probably is, but I think this a project a lot of people would be excited about. I also think doing this near the end of the current generation is the best time to do this, that way we're not taking away anything from the current tiering processes, as they are by and large now settled.

Let me know what you guys think. Nothing here is set in stone, but I think this is better than the alternative of forcing transitivity to be applied to these tiers.
 

Akir

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Hello I am Akir and at this point i think im best known for working on lower oldgen tiers (most notably PU) so i would like to add my two cents and experience. I have actually already done a good chunk of this on my own so i can already say that what is proposed largely works already. In fact if people would like some help getting coordinating specifics, I would volunteer since I have experience.

Locking the tiers is by far preferable to having them gummed up by higher decisions. The recent Sand Veil ban makes sense in OU certainly, but makes NU (and PU) notably worse off cuz of it. The general consensus from the thread is that if we had to choose, we will choose freezing the tier instead of taking this change. having it as the eventual goal is also something that i personally am heavily in favor of, since these are played so little that having them in a fairly static point makes complete sense. not only would it mean that resources are kept relevant for longer, but the tiers would be easier to pick up for the annual play and are more enjoyable for the short visits as well. It is a proper fate for them, if not the only practical one.

As for the when, many lower tiers have a gap period before the new gen actually hits them. For PU for example, this is 8 months..........we actually went into the older gens last go round just to have something to do. This is by far the best time to start this project for the lower tiers, so it could very well be the last 2/3 months of Gen7 to start and then go from there. Obviously this will change based on what tier is wanting to look into it, as UU has much less time than PU.

From experience, I can already say that most tiers already have an "oldgen guy" (like me) that already looks over these tiers. Establishing them as a serious role for these projects would be a massive help to the project. Certainly the TLs get a say in the proceedings but the oldgen guy is the one who would know best how to proceed or at least can know what's wrong.

As for a council, there really is not a solid way to proceed with this. I have attempted in the past to create one with mixed results, but I think ultimately the best way to come at this would be to offer an invitation to the people who build/play for the tier in a PL or those that win a Classic. These are largely the only places these are played anyway, so these are the people who have the most recent and relevant hands-on experience. Appointment can also work but that has the obvious flaw of being open to bandwagoning, which should be avoided.

Overall the process of "1. Opening the tier to scrutiny only when the tier is deemed to have a severe problem, 2. Fixing the problems as needed, 3. Freezing the tier back once the goal is achieved" is the ideal for these lower oldgens in my opinion and one that all of them, new or old, should follow.

These are just my initial thoughts right before I head to bed, but i am 100% for this and will help with specifics if asked. Also fwiw BW PU was in fact played during BW marginally so it is as much of an oldgen as BW NU. The others...i'll probably make a thread on them later.
 

Earthworm

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My personal preference at this stage is to keep the status quo for old gen lower tiers (lower tier leaders or RoA leaders making fair decisions / organising tiering processes) except make it a condition that to be part of a lower tier's ribbon circuit, the tier must be locked. Also, ditch forced transitive tier changes where any higher lower tier has been locked. This will allow undeveloped new metas in old gens to properly develop before they get locked.

I wouldn't mind some kind of emergency provision if we do need a policy for significant mechanic changes that are discovered.
 

Bughouse

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I think EW’s addition is a welcome one so that metagames that are still in the works (mostly old gen PUs) can continue to tinker a bit more before freezing.

My opinion overall on Oglemi’s proposal should be obvious from the NU thread. It’s imperative that these old gen lower tiers that are dusted off a few times a year for lower tier premier leagues and ribbon circuits are immune to the whims of old gen tiering councils who (rightly) focus their attention on OU, due to its presence in official trophy tours. There is not a sufficiently engaged community to update resources for these lower tiers when a large unwanted change is thrust upon them. And in the case of settled metagames (with few exceptions, this means those DPP and beyond) crusts like myself would just keep playing the metas we know and love anyway.

As ribbons are a site-wide reward, I like EWs standard for when to lock the tier. Inclusion in lower tier premier leagues or other tier-specific projects/tournaments offers the opportunity to develop still unsettled metagames with no reward beyond bragging rights. Once developed, the tier can be locked and added to the tier’s ribbon circuit.
 

Heysup

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Because these tiers have not been looked at in a 2019 tiering lens, there may (or may not) be competitive balance issues within these tiers that could be remedied following the procedure posted above.

The conflicting issue is, some of these lower tiers are currently legacy tiers themselves, and some would argue to keep them locked the same as any other old gen lower tier. The main tier that comes to mind is ADV UU. ADV UU is a wonky tier, to say the least. In its current form it does not allow NFEs (except for Scyther), despite most not being broken (except for Kadabra and Chansey). Ideally, we would reassess ADV UU to bring it in line with current tiering standards and allow NFEs to be used in the tier. We could also take a serious look at Baton Pass's influence on the tier, and, if wanted, Kangaskhan and Omastar's placement in the tier as well. The other possibility concerning ADV UU is ADV BL. The two could be recombined and rebalanced in that way (so that they make sense to our current tiering nomenclature, etc), but that is the less desirable (imo) reassessment in regards to this tier as it then wipes out, in essence, two legacy tiers completely. How I think we could reconcile this issue is laid out below.
Perhaps I'm only speaking from personal experience but the 2019 lens that you speak of seems to me to be a less structured but more ban happy lens than the one I, and likely anyone else who played when ADV was developing and during the release of DPP, are used to. I am not saying it's better or worse (I mean we can now ban things we hate dealing with, but aren't broken in the traditional sense, cool). However, retroactive banning is a very permanent step when a metagame community has generally decided that it's fine the way it is. To go against that community with likely a proportionally smaller and frankly less interested player base just because we have a superiority complex with how we do things now, seems a bit irresponsible. Maybe we don't care and maybe that community doesn't care, but I think we should at least consider what it means when we tweak a tier from 4 gens ahead. I was frankly confused when someone (ehem) apparently unilaterally released NFEs into ADV NU, but considering the original size of that player base was like 3, it didn't matter to me. It's one of the exceptions where the base may actually be bigger now.

There are other exceptions like the above, but really the ADV and DPP lower tier metas to me are mostly balanced. Would I tweak them in an ideal world? Sure. Kangaskan is insane in ADV UU and could be debatably broken. Hail is literally the worst shit ever to exist in DPP UU. But I wouldn't change anything at the cost of compromising the people who actually ran the metagame's decision at the time. (That being said for DPP LC I was not opposed to retroactive hypnosis ban because it was a more recent development for some users to spam it on everything as an all or nothing crutch, which we never used to do and thus never realized it was an issue).

I do agree with EW if things were to be unlocked, but I think we need to be extra careful when unlocking anything. Is there really a need? Just personally the old gen lower tiers seem more balanced and desireable to me than anything in bw and onward.
 
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Jellicent

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Thanks for making this thread, Oggy. We could definitely use some discussion on our old gen lower tiering policy. Old gen OU tiering policy should also get hammered out a bit more, imo. They serve very different functions and our policy regarding them should also be different.

Lower Tiers:

I am not a fan of breaking transitivity at all. If you can't use your UU team in OU, then we're technically no longer talking about actually tiering. They're just spin-off formats with a similar basis in spirit. That said, there's definitely an issue that Oggy alluded to, which is the functional split between viability-based lower tiers (such as gens 1-3, or the retroactively organized NUs and PUs) and usage-based lower tiers (anything that was once official and from the era of usage stats). The former has continued to grow and change these past few years, as the structure they're based off of allows them to be altered at the community's discretion. The latter are essentially frozen the moment they cease to be current gen, as usage stats in them become rare and comprised of very small pools of players. At this point, BW RU is no longer based on BW UU, but what BW UU was years ago. Breaking transitivity seems useful with that in mind, but we can also tackle this issue by changing how we approach old gen lower tiers as a whole.

There are huge negatives to any old gen changes, namely alienating returning veterans and causing existing resources to become outdated. However, the entire purpose of lower tiers has always been to provide an alternative way to play than the generation's standard, OU. They've always been open to changes as the format above them has shifts in viability and usage. While I certainly wouldn't want to force constant viability-based updates on any old gen lower tier, I think it's completely fair for the communities to opt to make those changes whenever they would like to, assuming they can also update their resources afterwards. In other words, rather than locking these tiers completely, the BW RU community should be able to update the UU/RU cutoff based on UU viability whenever they feel they can support such a change. They would not be able to touch the RU/NU cutoff, as that would be forcing changes on another tier; altering the UU/RU cutoff has no actual effect on UU except a more accurate tier listing.

OU:

As I said, my thoughts on this are quite different. OU is meant to be the standard format of a given generation. Once it ceases to be current, it should generally be considered locked. I am very skeptical of applying a modern gen approach to tiering older generations, just as I assume folks would be skeptical of applying Gen 2 tiering standards to the current gen. Shifts in mechanics, Pokemon, moves, etc. have a huge impact on when something becomes too much to manage. What can be seen as a general annoyance in one gen can become outright broken in the next. That doesn't mean we need to take it out in the previous gen after years of it proving to be overall inconsistent or unimpressive.

I also don't think every broken aspect of an old gen OU needs to be addressed. Snorlax in Gen 2, for instance, is often considered to be broken, but its overall impact on the format is also seen as a positive. DPP Jirachi certainly has uncompetitive traits, but the community's been largely fine with it persisting for well over a decade. If a pressing need to remove an unwanted element does arise, it should definitely be discussed and probably voted on. Those proposing change need strong reasoning to make it, and I'd say any major OU changes should only occur after a supermajority consensus, with a followup vote down the line requiring just a simple majority to overturn. It should be extremely difficult to change a generation's standard format after it is no longer the current generation. Someone who hasn't been on this site since ADV was current shouldn't necessarily still know what's UU or NU, but they should be able to pick up OU with their old teams whenever possible. If there was a change made that affects their team, we should be able to point to that strong reasoning, as well as the overwhelming agreement that such an alteration was necessary for ADV OU.
 

Honko

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I agree with everything Earthworm, Bughouse, and Heysup said and don't have much to add. The one thing I will say is that the proposed formal assessment for each tier sounds like a project that could take some time, and I don't think it makes sense for old gen lower tiers to be forced to accept new transitive changes from the OU councils in the meantime. Let new transitive changes (including DPP Sand Veil, since that's the motivator for this whole thing) be part of what the lower tiers' communities consider before they lock (maybe UU decides to accept the SV ban but NU doesn't, for example), but don't force big changes on long-stable tiers during the next couple of months just because they haven't formally locked yet. Remember that the communities for most of these tiers actually thought they were already safely locked up until a few weeks ago when it was announced that old-gen transitivity was suddenly being reinstated.
 

Hogg

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First, re: transitivity: I do think that fundamentally it breaks a core tenet of Smogon's tiering philosophy to be able to bring a team in UU or NU that would be illegal in OU. I would be strongly opposed to an SM lower tier freeing Baton Pass or Arena Trap, even if they made a compelling case that it wouldn't be broken in their tier, because it violates this core idea. And that doesn't suddenly change the day after Sword and Shield is released and SM becomes an old gen.

Second, I also am extremely wary of creating old gen lower tier tiering councils (jesus that's a mouthful) to "fix up" old gen lower tiers before locking them. The communities involved are simply way too small to handle this appropriately. This leaves us vulnerable to people deciding pokemon or strategies are broken based on a sample size of at most a couple of dozen games, and projecting their own subjective whims on a tier as a whole. Whatever you think of the Sand Veil decision that prompted this whole discussion, DPP OU's activity is several orders of magnitude higher than DPP NU, giving a large sample size on which to base any tiering decision. Despite being an old gen there are still close to 30,000 ladder games played monthly, as well as an annual tournament that typically sees about 500 participants and a full ribbon circuit. This activity may be a drop in the bucket when compared to current gens, but it's still fairly robust and gives a lot of opportunity to explore whether or not something is broken or unhealthy. Old gen lower tiers simply don't have that sample size to base appropriate tiering decisions on.

Allowing people to fiddle with old gen lower tiers also leaves us prone to influential people or RoA/lower tier leaders making arbitrary decisions without any real oversight. Oglemi, you recently complained about the arbitrary banning of Baton Pass in DPP in UUPL. Pearl asked to ban Baton Pass based on his own experiences with it during last year's DPP UU Cup. Since UUPL is a fun tour that doesn't influence any ribbons or trophies, the hosts went along with it. But by giving small groups the power to make decisions over tiering, you empower decisions like that to be made official with very minimal oversight.

(That said, I understand that some old gen lower tiers are still "fresh" and were created only recently; by necessity they'll need to be tiered until they reach a stable point.)

In my opinion, if you want to argue that old gen lower tiers should be locked and free from respecting things like transitivity of bans, then you should lock them into a snapshot of what they were at the conclusion of the gen. Lower tiers are literally defined by the usage-based tier shifts that create their banlists, and you can argue that once those usage-based shifts stop occurring, the tier functionally ceases to exist. In that case, sure, play it as if it were preserved in amber to respect the history of the tier, and ignore all subsequent changes. But if you're attempting to inject modern tiering philosophy or practices to old gen lower tiers and make changes to them, then you have to respect all that goes along with that, which includes ban transitivity.
 

spink

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First, re: transitivity: I do think that fundamentally it breaks a core tenet of Smogon's tiering philosophy to be able to bring a team in UU or NU that would be illegal in OU. I would be strongly opposed to an SM lower tier freeing Baton Pass or Arena Trap, even if they made a compelling case that it wouldn't be broken in their tier, because it violates this core idea. And that doesn't suddenly change the day after Sword and Shield is released and SM becomes an old gen.

Second, I also am extremely wary of creating old gen lower tier tiering councils (jesus that's a mouthful) to "fix up" old gen lower tiers before locking them. The communities involved are simply way too small to handle this appropriately. This leaves us vulnerable to people deciding pokemon or strategies are broken based on a sample size of at most a couple of dozen games, and projecting their own subjective whims on a tier as a whole. Whatever you think of the Sand Veil decision that prompted this whole discussion, DPP OU's activity is several orders of magnitude higher than DPP NU, giving a large sample size on which to base any tiering decision. Despite being an old gen there are still close to 30,000 ladder games played monthly, as well as an annual tournament that typically sees about 500 participants and a full ribbon circuit. This activity may be a drop in the bucket when compared to current gens, but it's still fairly robust and gives a lot of opportunity to explore whether or not something is broken or unhealthy. Old gen lower tiers simply don't have that sample size to base appropriate tiering decisions on.

Allowing people to fiddle with old gen lower tiers also leaves us prone to influential people or RoA/lower tier leaders making arbitrary decisions without any real oversight. Oglemi, you recently complained about the arbitrary banning of Baton Pass in DPP in UUPL. Pearl asked to ban Baton Pass based on his own experiences with it during last year's DPP UU Cup. Since UUPL is a fun tour that doesn't influence any ribbons or trophies, the hosts went along with it. But by giving small groups the power to make decisions over tiering, you empower decisions like that to be made official with very minimal oversight.

(That said, I understand that some old gen lower tiers are still "fresh" and were created only recently; by necessity they'll need to be tiered until they reach a stable point.)

In my opinion, if you want to argue that old gen lower tiers should be locked and free from respecting things like transitivity of bans, then you should lock them into a snapshot of what they were at the conclusion of the gen. Lower tiers are literally defined by the usage-based tier shifts that create their banlists, and you can argue that once those usage-based shifts stop occurring, the tier functionally ceases to exist. In that case, sure, play it as if it were preserved in amber to respect the history of the tier, and ignore all subsequent changes. But if you're attempting to inject modern tiering philosophy or practices to old gen lower tiers and make changes to them, then you have to respect all that goes along with that, which includes ban transitivity.
I think your take on this is the most sensible so far. The thing that stands out to me the most is how would this handle the tiers that were formed after a generation's end? You're right when you say that these tiers have such a small sample size that the tiering decisions for them can end up serving personal bias instead of the general good of the tier, but the act of balancing these tiers to this "stable point" that you're referring to can be just as subjective. The PU old gens serve as a good example for this. DPP and ADV PU, when they were first created, were based off of the usage stats from rotational RoA ladders. Obviously, forming a permanent tier on a month's worth of stats created metagames that would be completely unrepresentative of the tiers if they had been formed when the generation was active. Additionally, the other ADV tiers were never formed by usage stats, though PU was later restructured to more accurately fit within the gen. However, ADV PU still went on to do several drops, which, from what I know, hasn't been done for any other ADV tier regardless of how misrepresented the tier is (ie. sableye and roselia being viable in ADV UU). The way things have been managed and balanced were very far an away exclusive to the community that played these tiers. But it never seemed to matter because PU was unofficial, the tiers were supposed to just be non-serious metagames, and there was never any heavy policy on consistency/transitivity between old gen lower tiers. However, a lot has changed and presumably things will continue to change. PU is arguably as legitimate a tier as NU, RU, and UU nowadays with representation in Slam and having its own Ribbon. There reasonably shouldn't be a difference in policy between an old gen PU and an old gen NU nowadays, right?

The whole state of these tiers is sloppy and inconsistent across the board because of mismatched leadership that had different ideas and limitations on being able to form the tiers in question. I think that even if we locked all of the legitimate usage based tiers to how they were when the generation ended and locked all the tiers that were formed after the fact, there would still be questions that need addressed.
  • What is the policy on ADV old gens? ADV NU has maybe 2 pokemon that can be used in UU (not counting the NFE ban), but PU has about 16-20 usable in NU that I can see just on their VR. You mentioned the weird situation on ADV old gens here, and I agree that it's something that needs fleshed out before we lock anything in place since I don't think the only inconsistency with these tiers is the NFE ban.
  • Who makes the call on when a tier gets locked in and will the tiering admins be enforcing the lock? Again, you brought up the idea that a small playerbase should not be solely responsible for tiering these metagames because of the threat of bias. Even considering we're ok with the community making the call on when the tier should be locked (quite possibly leading to a tier staying indefinitely unlocked), you can see from the last two pages of discussion in the PU old gens hub that it's a post either about a VR, or banning something. If we lock the tiers to how they were when the generation ended, it would require outside intervention as you're undoing several BW PU bans and preventing further discussion on any similar topics.
  • What's our method of future proofing? ZU has already formed a bunch of old gens based on PU stuff, so where do they sit? Are they supposed to be taken seriously now in case they become legitimate in the future? If not, does that mean they can do whatever they want and use whatever policy for bans they want, form councils (ala old gen little cup), ignore transitivity, etc?
I'm aware that I might be nitpicking, but I think this is a topic that covers a surprisingly large area of inconsistently managed metagames. If the goal is to "make our tiering process more consistent across the board" then somewhere along the way we'll have to draw the line and either completely change several metagames or say "alright, this doesn't fit with the rest, but we're fine with that."
 
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august

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Yes I agree Mantine should be banned

edit: yes i agree with this policy, i don't think lower tiers should be affected by OU bans and i'm tired of people yelling at me because i'm messing up their (loosely) playable old tiers
 
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Oglemi

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First, re: transitivity: I do think that fundamentally it breaks a core tenet of Smogon's tiering philosophy to be able to bring a team in UU or NU that would be illegal in OU. I would be strongly opposed to an SM lower tier freeing Baton Pass or Arena Trap, even if they made a compelling case that it wouldn't be broken in their tier, because it violates this core idea. And that doesn't suddenly change the day after Sword and Shield is released and SM becomes an old gen.
There is a lot to unravel here so if you could clarify some things that would be helpful. The first is that transitivity currently is not a thing. That was decided in 2015 and has affected out tiers for the past two generations. If the lower tiers wanted to unban your examples, they currently could do so through their current tiering methods, as they currently do with Drought. I can understand being opposed to the notion in your examples, but your wording implies that you would stop them outright from doing so. The second is that it already was decided back in 2016 that transitivity would also not have to apply to lower tiers when Sand Veil was first banned. Your last sentence is also confusing, as it implies that you do not recognize the current break in transitivity, and that when SM becomes an old gen, players could or would use that as an excuse to break transitivity when they currently already could do that if they were so inclined.

My point here is that it seems like an opaque decision was made regarding transitivity, with no discussion as to its application to old gen lower tiers and, more importantly, to our current tiers. If you want to reinstate transitivity across the board, you need to discuss that policy here in PR. Breaking transitivity may or may not go against a tenet of our tiering philosophy, but making a policy decision with no prior discussion in the venues dedicated to it definitely goes against Smogon policy.

Which brings me to my next point.

Allowing people to fiddle with old gen lower tiers also leaves us prone to influential people or RoA/lower tier leaders making arbitrary decisions without any real oversight. Oglemi, you recently complained about the arbitrary banning of Baton Pass in DPP in UUPL. Pearl asked to ban Baton Pass based on his own experiences with it during last year's DPP UU Cup. Since UUPL is a fun tour that doesn't influence any ribbons or trophies, the hosts went along with it. But by giving small groups the power to make decisions over tiering, you empower decisions like that to be made official with very minimal oversight.
So why did you allow it? Without any prior discussion beforehand (that I can find, if the discussion only happened on Discord that's another problem entirely)? This is the first that I could find of any discussion leading up to the DPP/ADV BP ban for UUPL besides a very obvious bias on your part. McMeghan's post technically allows for this, but it was tacitly meant for the implementation of transitivity bans, not willy-nilly tour bans. Also, the fact that this is one of the few times that these lower tiers are played is exactly a reason to not just add offhanded bans based on the whims of the hosts/vocal players, regardless of whether or not it is a "for-fun" tournament.

The main point here being the lack of discussion. At the end of the day, I would not have a problem if the majority of players wanted BP banned. I would argue strongly against it, as I have, but I would relent if I was outnumbered at the end. The closest other example of something being banned for a tournament in an old lower gen tier was DPP NU's ban of Snover and Hippopotas leading up to NUPL IV. There wasn't a lot of discussion, and it was smattered across a few different threads, largely because there was not a thread dedicated to DPP NU at the time (Honko's thread being made following that NUPL). The point being, we did discuss it and come to a decision for the tournament and future tournaments and there was an opportunity to voice concerns/objections.

Second, I also am extremely wary of creating old gen lower tier tiering councils (jesus that's a mouthful) to "fix up" old gen lower tiers before locking them. The communities involved are simply way too small to handle this appropriately. This leaves us vulnerable to people deciding pokemon or strategies are broken based on a sample size of at most a couple of dozen games, and projecting their own subjective whims on a tier as a whole. Whatever you think of the Sand Veil decision that prompted this whole discussion, DPP OU's activity is several orders of magnitude higher than DPP NU, giving a large sample size on which to base any tiering decision.
"Formal assessment and testing being defined as having an individual thread being made to discuss the metagame, tournaments and friendlies being played to test the tier, assessments being made by a leader to determine any problem Pokemon and strategies, trial and then formal suspect tests, repeat until a reassessment determines the tier to be balanced by the leader and the playerbase and then the tier being 'locked'"

^ That is a way more in-depth process that what is currently in place for even the OU tiers to allow for change. What's more, our old gen lower tiers have already made decisions regarding their tiering to very good effect when done appropriately. So I don't see where "The communities involved are simply way too small to handle this appropriately" even comes into play. The playerbases for some have always been tiny. When DPP NU banned Entei and Espeon the entire playerbase was maybe 60 total people, during a time when DPP was the current gen.

And the point here is to not make change. I would rather change not have to happen. The point of my reassessment project is to finalize our tiers, but allow for a process to happen should something really need to change and to set a precedent to allow for emergency changes. Sometimes something really does need to change. Kokoloko decided to hold a vote after BW had ended to finalize the tiering placement of Chandelure and Snow Warning as it was found that allowing them in the tier was simply unhealthy. I don't think any of our lower tiers are at this state, but if it were decided, for example, that BP really is a major issue in DPP UU/ADV UU, then we can discuss going through the process to see it nerfed/banned.

In my opinion, if you want to argue that old gen lower tiers should be locked and free from respecting things like transitivity of bans, then you should lock them into a snapshot of what they were at the conclusion of the gen. Lower tiers are literally defined by the usage-based tier shifts that create their banlists, and you can argue that once those usage-based shifts stop occurring, the tier functionally ceases to exist. In that case, sure, play it as if it were preserved in amber to respect the history of the tier, and ignore all subsequent changes. But if you're attempting to inject modern tiering philosophy or practices to old gen lower tiers and make changes to them, then you have to respect all that goes along with that, which includes ban transitivity.
I hope you mean for this proposal to begin applying to SM at its conclusion moving forward, because locking all of our tiers into a snapshot of where they were at at the end of the conclusion of their gen vastly changes a lot of our lower tiers. Apart from the BW vote I posted above and the DPP NU decision, there's also Hip's RBY BL purge, all of my ADV NU work, all of the PU projects, EW's GSC NU work, and even the DPP UU Heracross vote.


Ultimately, I don't care if transitivity is what we decide to implement across the board. I would rather we go with my proposal as it allows for far more stable metagames and allows for legacy tiers to stay the same in the years to come while allowing for emergency provisions. But what I really care about is the discourse needed to enact change. My proposal is a more proper implementation of the status quo. If you want to change the status quo, there's a lot that you need to lie out here.
 

Akir

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I think your take on this is the most sensible so far. The thing that stands out to me the most is how would this handle the tiers that were formed after a generation's end? You're right when you say that these tiers have such a small sample size that the tiering decisions for them can end up serving personal bias instead of the general good of the tier, but the act of balancing these tiers to this "stable point" that you're referring to can be just as subjective. The PU old gens serve as a good example for this. DPP and ADV PU, when they were first created, were based off of the usage stats from rotational RoA ladders. Obviously, forming a permanent tier on a month's worth of stats created metagames that would be completely unrepresentative of the tiers if they had been formed when the generation was active. Additionally, the other ADV tiers were never formed by usage stats, though PU was later restructured to more accurately fit within the gen. However, ADV PU still went on to do several drops, which, from what I know, hasn't been done for any other ADV tier regardless of how misrepresented the tier is (ie. sableye and roselia being viable in ADV UU). The way things have been managed and balanced were very far an away exclusive to the community that played these tiers. But it never seemed to matter because PU was unofficial, the tiers were supposed to just be non-serious metagames, and there was never any heavy policy on consistency/transitivity between old gen lower tiers. However, a lot has changed and presumably things will continue to change. PU is arguably as legitimate a tier as NU, RU, and UU nowadays with representation in Slam and having its own Ribbon. There reasonably shouldn't be a difference in policy between an old gen PU and an old gen NU nowadays, right?

The whole state of these tiers is sloppy and inconsistent across the board because of mismatched leadership that had different ideas and limitations on being able to form the tiers in question. I think that even if we locked all of the legitimate usage based tiers to how they were when the generation ended and locked all the tiers that were formed after the fact, there would still be questions that need addressed.
  • What is the policy on ADV old gens? ADV NU has maybe 2 pokemon that can be used in UU (not counting the NFE ban), but PU has about 16-20 usable in NU that I can see just on their VR. You mentioned the weird situation on ADV old gens here, and I agree that it's something that needs fleshed out before we lock anything in place since I don't think the only inconsistency with these tiers is the NFE ban.
  • Who makes the call on when a tier gets locked in and will the tiering admins be enforcing the lock? Again, you brought up the idea that a small playerbase should not be solely responsible for tiering these metagames because of the threat of bias. Even considering we're ok with the community making the call on when the tier should be locked (quite possibly leading to a tier staying indefinitely unlocked), you can see from the last two pages of discussion in the PU old gens hub that it's a post either about a VR, or banning something. If we lock the tiers to how they were when the generation ended, it would require outside intervention as you're undoing several BW PU bans and preventing further discussion on any similar topics.
  • What's our method of future proofing? ZU has already formed a bunch of old gens based on PU stuff, so where do they sit? Are they supposed to be taken seriously now in case they become legitimate in the future? If not, does that mean they can do whatever they want and use whatever policy for bans they want, form councils (ala old gen little cup), ignore transitivity, etc?
I'm aware that I might be nitpicking, but I think this is a topic that covers a surprisingly large area of inconsistently managed metagames. If the goal is to "make our tiering process more consistent across the board" then somewhere along the way we'll have to draw the line and either completely change several metagames or say "alright, this doesn't fit with the rest, but we're fine with that."
ill go ahead and say that i 100% believe that DPP PU, ADV PU, the ZUs, and all of the other retroactively created lower old gen tiers (im gonna call them retro tiers for short) are completely irrelevant to the current discussion.

ill also go ahead and address the elephant in the room, even though I was wanting to make a thread dedicated to it after this one was settled: retro tiers do not fit the same mold as the other oldgens as I do not think they should be formally "official". I think that a true oldgen tier should fit both of these qualifications:
  1. was created during the run of the generation in question
  2. is based on time-sensitive and relevant data
in this sense, only tiers that are based on hard data that was created during the generation is truly an official oldgen. Because retro tiers cannot fulfill these requirements, they are only speculative. Because retro tiers are unable to prove their own legitimacy, I do not think retro tiers should be considered official metagames.

DPP PU and ADV PU are both retro tiers by this definition, but BW PU is not. As such, the current discussion happening in this tier does not apply to DPP PU because it is not an official tier and should not be heavily considered as if it is. Obviously I don't like shooting myself in the foot but I genuinely believe this to be the best path moving forward.


I do feel the need to defend myself too. I can definitely see where you might get the idea of some of them being "sloppy" if you only read the announcements and do not touch any of the discord discussion, the room discussion, or any of the tournament showings. BW PU was re-opened because people were starting to boycott playing it cuz it was absolute ass due to meta trends over the years leading to a more and more unbalanced and restrictive metagame. Obviously, as an official tier, we are obligated to fix this. So I did 1 ban of the 2 by far worst mons and then let the meta sit and that's where it is today. I think bans are an absolute last resort in any tier regardless of age, so I actually invested several months into the decision.

There are also other things, like how ADV PU has not had multiple shifts ever since NU gave the extremely inconsistent ruling on it and the one that was done was to align it with the potentially new tiering method for these tiers, that I would love to touch on but this is not the thread. After this transitivity thing is nailed down, because it is the current issue, I will personally open the thread to discuss the full fate of retro tiers.
 

spink

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I do feel the need to defend myself too. I can definitely see where you might get the idea of some of them being "sloppy" if you only read the announcements and do not touch any of the discord discussion, the room discussion, or any of the tournament showings.
Before I reply, I figured I'd clarify here that I think my choice of wording here was off. "Sloppy" is probably over exaggerating, and I was not referring to just PU when I said it. I was referring to how each of these lower tiers seem to be mismatched with regard to policy between leaders of the formats. I know how much you invest into these tiers, so I'm sorry if I came across as disrespectful.
in this sense, only tiers that are based on hard data that was created during the generation is truly an official oldgen. Because retro tiers cannot fulfill these requirements, they are only speculative. Because retro tiers are unable to prove their own legitimacy, I do not think retro tiers should be considered official metagames.
With the exception of DPP PU, there is really nothing stopping any of these tiers from being anymore legitimate than any other old gen lower tier because they can be formed using the exact same criteria that the other tiers used. "If it's usable in the tier above it, don't drop it" is the criteria that I understand was used when forming ADV UU/NU, and it's why there has been complaints about the usage of Sableye and NFEs in ADV NU. Disregarding the conversation of what mons in ADV PU that are usable in NU, this is not criteria that needs to be fulfilled by the generation being active or anything time sensitive. DPP PU is fairly criticized here since all of the other DPP tiers are tiered on relevant usage stats, but I don't see how your two criteria make ADV (or GSC) PU anymore special within the context of that generation.
There are also other things, like how ADV PU has not had multiple shifts ever since NU gave the extremely inconsistent ruling on it and the one that was done was to align it with the potentially new tiering method for these tiers, that I would love to touch on but this is not the thread. After this transitivity thing is nailed down, because it is the current issue, I will personally open the thread to discuss the full fate of retro tiers.
I knew of this shift that had happened in which 13 viable, albeit not meta defining, Pokemon dropped. I think in my original post it could be misinterpreted that I meant you did this several times, but I was just referencing this big shift where several mons dropped. I also don't know what you mean when you say NU gave "an extremely inconsistent ruling" when it was a fair discussion from several players of the tier and involving both you and another PU old gens guy at the time. It followed suit with the other tiers and I think we were pretty fair with the initial decision. Even quoting myself from this discussion that happened 2 years ago
no this would be the tier that you will be playing from now on, excluding bans. unless the bulk of the old gen lower tier players come together to decide on policy, it's much better to just keep the tier set in stone because of how subjective and awkward viability-based tiering can be, especially with the small pool of players.
Regardless of whether or not people agree or disagree on whether or not the Pokemon that dropped deserved to, it does not change the fact that you are the only ADV tier to have done this, especially years after the tier had been formed. To be especially clear, I am not trying to shame you by stating this fact or say "lol! look at these stupid PU guys thinking they can do whatever they want!" It is just an example on how there is no central policy on these tiers and how different leaders have handled these tiers throughout the years, especially when there is no concrete reason on why ADV PU should be any less legitimate than the ADV tiers above it. I think there would be a lot of people that would take issue with the idea of ADV NU implementing mons like Sneasel or Girafarig, for example, but everyone seems fine with this being done for PU. I believe your tiers are just as connected to this discussion as any of the other tiers.
 

Akir

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Before I reply, I figured I'd clarify here that I think my choice of wording here was off. "Sloppy" is probably over exaggerating, and I was not referring to just PU when I said it. I was referring to how each of these lower tiers seem to be mismatched with regard to policy between leaders of the formats. I know how much you invest into these tiers, so I'm sorry if I came across as disrespectful.

With the exception of DPP PU, there is really nothing stopping any of these tiers from being anymore legitimate than any other old gen lower tier because they can be formed using the exact same criteria that the other tiers used. "If it's usable in the tier above it, don't drop it" is the criteria that I understand was used when forming ADV UU/NU, and it's why there has been complaints about the usage of Sableye and NFEs in ADV NU. Disregarding the conversation of what mons in ADV PU that are usable in NU, this is not criteria that needs to be fulfilled by the generation being active or anything time sensitive. DPP PU is fairly criticized here since all of the other DPP tiers are tiered on relevant usage stats, but I don't see how your two criteria make ADV (or GSC) PU anymore special within the context of that generation.

I knew of this shift that had happened in which 13 viable, albeit not meta defining, Pokemon dropped. I think in my original post it could be misinterpreted that I meant you did this several times, but I was just referencing this big shift where several mons dropped. I also don't know what you mean when you say NU gave "an extremely inconsistent ruling" when it was a fair discussion from several players of the tier and involving both you and another PU old gens guy at the time. It followed suit with the other tiers and I think we were pretty fair with the initial decision. Even quoting myself from this discussion that happened 2 years ago
Regardless of whether or not people agree or disagree on whether or not the Pokemon that dropped deserved to, it does not change the fact that you are the only ADV tier to have done this, especially years after the tier had been formed. To be especially clear, I am not trying to shame you by stating this fact or say "lol! look at these stupid PU guys thinking they can do whatever they want!" It is just an example on how there is no central policy on these tiers and how different leaders have handled these tiers throughout the years, especially when there is no concrete reason on why ADV PU should be any less legitimate than the ADV tiers above it. I think there would be a lot of people that would take issue with the idea of ADV NU implementing mons like Sneasel or Girafarig, for example, but everyone seems fine with this being done for PU. I believe your tiers are just as connected to this discussion as any of the other tiers.
My point is that this conversation is for another thread, not this one. Or at least, later in the thread when the current problem has been resolved. I will gladly talk specifics on the VR-based tiers later, but for now I would like the transitivity to be addressed.

The main thing about the ADV and older tiers is that they are based on VRs that might be outdated, or have an evolved metagame than when they were last established as a current gen. You are correct that these are extremely awkward, which is why in a later thread the idea of pinning the VR cutoff to a hard point rather than a case-by-case basis was suggested as a better way of doing it. The initial ADV PU restructure was also inconsistent because some mons in lower ranks were considered more representative of NU than those in higher ranks, which is an extremely awkward situation that the hard cutoff attempts to avoid.
 

Bughouse

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I consider nearly every gen 1-4 sub-uu lower tier that has changed during my time on Smogon to be better now than it was when I joined. This makes sense since these metagames were not properly tiered in their times, and so some were bound to be flawed. Really, almost anyone with a brain and some time, trying to actively tier almost any of these metas would improve them. The only one I consider a failure is DPP PU which allows some of the best mons in NU (maaaaybe ADV PU to a lesser extent imo). This is a prime case of where further work could be done and why a hard lock is not the best solution.

Regardless, locking them as they are now is far preferred to locking them as they were 10 years ago, wiping out the changes since.
 

Heysup

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I consider nearly every gen 1-4 sub-uu lower tier that has changed during my time on Smogon to be better now than it was when I joined. This makes sense since these metagames were not properly tiered in their times, and so some were bound to be flawed. Really, almost anyone with a brain and some time, trying to actively tier almost any of these metas would improve them. The only one I consider a failure is DPP PU which allows some of the best mons in NU (maaaaybe ADV PU to a lesser extent imo). This is a prime case of where further work could be done and why a hard lock is not the best solution.

Regardless, locking them as they are now is far preferred to locking them as they were 10 years ago, wiping out the changes since.
I am hoping without reading all of the tl;dr of this thread that people are considering the difference between the retroactively instated old gen PU which is frankly still developing and old gen NU/UU which I see no real reason to touch unless we discover some new mechanics that drastically change the metagame.
 

Jellicent

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I am hoping without reading all of the tl;dr of this thread that people are considering the difference between the retroactively instated old gen PU which is frankly still developing and old gen NU/UU which I see no real reason to touch unless we discover some new mechanics that drastically change the metagame.
I definitely considered that but drew the opposite conclusion. Why should Clefable still be UU, Nidoqueen still be NU, and Electivire still be OU in DPP when that hasn't been the case for years? It's fine if that's what most people prefer, but the ability to rectify that should certainly exist regardless.
 

Heysup

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I definitely considered that but drew the opposite conclusion. Why should Clefable still be UU, Nidoqueen still be NU, and Electivire still be OU in DPP when that hasn't been the case for years? It's fine if that's what most people prefer, but the ability to rectify that should certainly exist regardless.
I suppose because when the next generation came out and fewer people (if any) played the ladders, that's the last usage drop that occurred. Metagame shifts still happen obviously in tours but there's no way to really justify dropping a Pokémon down based on what is essentially speculative usage from what the ladder would have been had the next generation not been released.
 
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Honko

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So I know that it's gonna take some time to work out the policy for how we want to handle old gen lower tiers moving forward. In the meantime, however, with NUPL starting in a few days, can we please update PS to un-fuck DPP NU so that we don't have to play NUPL matches in DPP Ubers format? As Oglemi pointed out in his post, the current status quo is that transitivity is not a thing, and there are several existing exceptions to prove it. Until/unless we finalize a new policy for tiering old gen lower tiers that includes transitivity being reinstated across the board, I don't see any reason why PS should enforce the DPP Sand Veil ban in lower tiers.

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