OU Suspect Process and its problems

First things first, here is the full context for whoever wants to read it: https://pastebin.com/nd6cbCUS

Suspect testing has been since their inception, aside from tournaments, Smogon's most defining characteristic as a competitive website. The idea that there is a community-and-leader driven discussion followed by a choice of action is the one thing that separates this site with all others. The Suspect test has underwent several changes and has evolved to what we have now: The Council chooses the problem in the metagame, and the community decides its fate.

This is the theory of it.

As I see it there are several glaring problems in practice with the approach we have right now:

1) As per Council members, the suspect test is basically a formality. The main reasons for this, as explained by them, is that 2 weeks of a Suspect test do basically nothing to change the mind of the voters. The metagame of a suspect test might have existed for months previous to the suspect test, and the Council thinks (probably correctly) that 2 weeks of playing the same thing means nothing. As it stands, the test are just used to gather "competent" voters that will decide whether the problematic element will be banned or not. Or do they? This leads to...

2) Suspect tests as they are right now are a false illusion of "democracy" and "community involvement". The current philosophy of the OU council is to only put up for test things that they (and most of the tournament community one can assume) have deemed way over the top. This means that for a test to happen, the Council has to basically be in agreement that this element is... well... broken. In other words, controversial potential problematic elements are left in a limbo in which a lot of people consider them troublesome for the metagame, but since it is not clear cut, the Council will not put a test up. Which means...

3) The Council decides the metagame. If the only elements that are tested are those that the Council deem way over the top, to the degree of basically near unanimous (or unanimous idk) agreement, then it is no surprise these elements will be banned when put up for testing. This is equivalent to a Council unilaterally deciding what to ban without a need for a test, as if it were quickbans, just that this process is long and tedious.

This might be ideal for some people, but to me and many others it is not. That said, I am not gonna get into the theme of what the Council's responsability should be because thats better left off for another thread.

So what do we do?

One of the things I think we should start taking into account is that this process is made by US. There is no authority over us in the matter of competitive Pokemon, and even if there was, we dont care. We play in Smogon with Smogon rules. What I am trying to say is we shouldnt be scared of changing things up because of precedent or because "this doesnt seem like the correct way to do things" or whatever preconceived idea one might have. To put an example, the idea that to Quickban a ridiculous element such as Moody in SS we need full agreement from the council, and whatever weeks they might need to make up their mind, when the community is basically BEGGING for this shit to be gone is really confusing. Things are slow, innaction is prefered to action, thats how things are right now (1 year or whatever without a test in SM is another example despite MULTIPLE cries for action). To echo blunder's sentiment of "There should be a suspect test at all points in time" <- Why is this not a thing? Whats stopping us from constantly suspecting stuff? A test that ends in no ban IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME.

So with this in mind, there are several things we can do. There is no right or wrong here, just change and evolving in order to achieve a better state of things.

1) McMeghan brought up the option akin to how back in the day people got reqs in order to NOMINATE the mons that were going to be put up under the guillotine. This is one course of action.

2) Periodic polls to the community at large on if they feel there is a problematic element in the metagame at the time. If there is a division on "yes" and "no", subsequently another poll asking people what they feel stands out as problematic. Even if its a divisive choice, if there is enough support, there is 0 reason not to test it.

3) Even if we were to have more frequent tests, the issue arises that it is still 2 weeks of a Suspect test vs whatever amount of time people have created their opinions from. To tackle this we can take different approaches, such as 2 weeks of an inverse test, AKA remove the problematic element from the metagame followed by 1 or 2 weeks of the mon being thrown back into the metagame. Just an option to shake things up. Sure this adds more time to an already slow process but then again at least something is being done. Action > Innaction.

4) Lets suspect test several things at once! It worked back in BW, could work now.

Again these are just ideas, I repeat that there is no right or wrong here. There is literally no correct or incorrect, as a suspect test vote is based on OPINION. We created the suspect test process, there is no reason why we cant revamp it fully. And if we fuck up, its about time we get into the mindset of "Okay, we admit a fuck up was made, we will revert it / correct it". Accepting mistakes is not a sign of dumbness its a sign of wisdom (cough cough MOODY).

But yeah lets fix this please.
 

Mannat

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2) Periodic polls to the community at large on if they feel there is a problematic element in the metagame at the time. If there is a division on "yes" and "no", subsequently another poll asking people what they feel stands out as problematic. Even if its a divisive choice, if there is enough support, there is 0 reason not to test it.
Expanding on this point a bit, one really good idea that rey proposed was that after the initial player poll, we have a thread posted in this forum for people to discuss problematic elements and another poll or other evaluation of those elements being done. I think this is a really good idea because it allows us to combine polling of the high-end tournament playerbase to determine whether or not a discussion needs to occur, and opening a venue for the larger community to discuss these issues. The steps taken after the thread (followup poll, immediate suspect, etc) obviously need to get hammered out a bit, but I think this is by far the best solution that the OP provides and an effective one for our needs.
 
I'm glad discussion helped pinpoint this flaw with the system. In an active metagame, you would expect to see frequent testing of things that are borderline unhealthy. Exploring what is and what is not broken ("unhealthy") helps to shape the most competitive metagame possible. However, the SM OU Council suspected only what was certain to be banned. There were opportunities and cries from the community for further testing (Kartana, Mawile, Magearna, Toxapex).

It is worthwhile to find a system that can facilitate more active testing, hold Council members accountable for leading action, and take community input more seriously.
 
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At the moment there feels to be no community say in anything related to change on Smogon.

The process is as follows:
issue that has been sat on boils to a breaking point -> PR thread is made that offers problem and solutions -> authoritative force replies with "we can look into this / we can reply to this after private discussion" -> nothing happens and the thread dies

some examples of OU council PR topics from the past few months:
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/sleep-clause-in-generation-8.3656311/ ABR backdoors the community through chaos to unban sleep clause. community fights tooth and nail to get it reverted. from chaos's own words: "the sleep clause issue isnt over with and will resume after dynamax"
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/transparency-and-scrutiny-of-tier-leaders.3656633/ end-all result is Chaos stepping in with "we'll monitor council more closely" -- no public result
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/state-of-sun-moon-ou.3654499/ multiple community members voice their opinions for a PLETHORA of possible suspects in SM before it becomes an old gen. thread gets left off with council members saying "I don't believe xyz is broken but we can see about it"
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/z-moves.3642013/ less than popular opinion about z-moves is stated but garners some community support, council does nothing to implore a suspect test regardless

I don't understand why everything questionable isn't suspect tested or retested always. It is legitimately no more complicated than "If it should be banned the community will vote ban. If it should stay the community will vote stay." The only valid argument against council testing frequently is interrupting the flow of tournaments, but given how packed the tournament circuit is there will almost always be tournaments affected. Does that mean there should never be any banning or unbanning bar box legends?

Rey hit the nail on the head with problems and the solutions for them so I won't restate his post. Don't let the council let this thread die without action.
 

chaos

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- The sleep clause issue has been debated for like, a decade. I don't think it is useful to assign "the community" to whatever opinion you happen to hold. Like I said in the thread itself, It shouldn't have been carried over at all in SM due to a mechanics change.

- We instated changes as a result of feedback in that thread & elsewhere. There has barely been any time for folks to see the changes? I mean, one of the asks was that every council member writes up their position, and they did indeed do that on the Dynamax suspect?
 

Hipmonlee

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ABR backdoors the community through chaos to unban sleep clause. community fights tooth and nail to get it reverted. from chaos's own words: "the sleep clause issue isnt over with and will resume after dynamax"
Just from my point of view, I am still yet to see a single person argue that sleep clause is needed from an actual pokemon perspective (as opposed to arguments like "if it ain't broke don't fix it"). I assume that this is because from your perspective it is just so patently obviously needed that it is a waste of time to do so, but someone really needs to do so.

I only play current gen randbats. I really don't think I deserve nearly as much say in the ruleset as a tournament player. I honestly have no real inclination about whether I want sleep clause or not. But, I would like you to make the effort to explain your rules to me, because your rules will affect me. And that hasn't been done yet.

What I think may be the problem here is that you think that you're making a really strong case, but you are assuming some kind of baseline knowledge that might not actually transfer nearly as much as you expect. At least not to a lowly randbatter such as myself. From an outsiders perspective, when you say "there feels to be no community say in anything related to change on Smogon" it feels to me like maybe the problem is that the community doesnt know how to express what it actually wants. And, fair enough, the tiering council may need to take some responsibility for that..

But to the overall point of this thread, the obvious response is to say something like: "it's the whole point of the tiering council to ensure things only are banned when they are genuinely broken". I think in order to fundamentally shift Smogon's tiering philosophy away from that, you'll need to make a very strong case that that's what's best for the community. I kinda feel like even if I agreed with everything you've said here I don't think you're hitting that mark yet.
 
I really liked the system we had in BW1 up through the Exca/Thund ban, where Pokemon players played Pokemon on the ladder for three weeks, then they could nominate suspects alongside their voter identification posts. Obviously not every nomination becomes an automatic suspect, people can suggest some pretty dumb stuff, but if there are a lot of qualified players clamoring for something to be looked at, the council acknowledges that and it gets put up for debate. To be banned, something needs a supermajority or a simple majority two rounds in a row. This kind of system ensures constant community engagement and allows people who are active enough to have some sort of say in shaping the game they play, which seems seems like it'd be great for PR, too - if you don't like it, you can do something about it rather than just bitching about Smogon and its evil Rotom-Wash. Also I'm sure a re-test could be scheduled for anything banned within a certain contentious percentage to make entirely sure something banned should stay that way.
 

Ojama

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Just from my point of view, I am still yet to see a single person argue that sleep clause is needed from an actual pokemon perspective (as opposed to arguments like "if it ain't broke don't fix it"). I assume that this is because from your perspective it is just so patently obviously needed that it is a waste of time to do so, but someone really needs to do so.
sleep clause is needed and i'd go as far and say sleep moves should be removed from competitive pokemon on smogon. sleep is a similar status to freeze, with the slight yet big difference that you can induce one with status inducing moves, of which the accuracy goes from 75% to 100%, and the other through secondary effects with a poor rate (10%, unless you are the one whose name should not be spoken). in both cases, the pokémon cannot move for a certain amount of turns, which generates an additional random factor that adds up to the several ones we already have and that come into play to decide the outcome of our games.

similar to abilities, certain moves can make a pokémon go from decent/good to lowkey broken. but in the case of sleep inducing moves, it goes beyond the wideness of a movepool, these moves alone can compensate anything the movepool or a certain pokémon doesn't provide. could you possibly imagine yourself play a metagame in which there is a freeze-inducing move with a 100% accuracy? you're an experienced rby player so you must know the impact freeze/sleep can have over a metagame or games. would you play rby with no freeze clause? why would it be any different in newer gens?

sleep moves are that good that they made sleep talk almost mandatory on any bw team. is sleep talk an acceptable response to the issue? absolutely not. sleep talk generates even more randomness by picking a random move, making switches and plays nullified by the rng's decisions. ive played and watched a bunch of games that were decided purely on sleep talk choices and sleep turns. we have the possibility to reduce the external factors out of our control by implementing rules like sleep clause and freeze clause and to make our games more skill-focused, and i really cannot comprehend people who go against that idea.

sorry if this feels off-topic but i had to answer you know. some stuff rey have proposed in his post should be addressed for sure.
 
I'll grant that circumstances between OU and DOU are different, because DOU is a much smaller community and therefore has much freer exchange of ideas—where people with lives can actually still read the whole suspect thread, for example. Still, I think Eo, and other members of the council if they agree with Eo, might not be giving the community enough credit.

Looking over the history of DOU suspects, excluding the ones to unban things, gives the following tally of results:

ban: 6
no ban: 8

When the council puts up a suspect that doesn't deserve to be banned, I think the community is wise enough not to ban it. (Incidentally, both of the times we resuspected previously banned Pokemon, they stayed banned, which might prove that the community only bans things that truly deserve it, but might just prove confirmation bias).

Before someone counters with the similar numbers for OU suspects across the last two generations—if the council is only suspecting things that they are sure should be banned, it seems natural that the results would lean much more toward ban, so I'm not sure that tells us much.

I'll probably post again with ideas about improving the suspect process, but I wanted to get this idea out quickly before I go to work.
 

Bloody alfa

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Ill post here since this actually was something ive been wondering about since a long time, and glad to see that there is some movement from a few people.

2) Suspect tests as they are right now are a false illusion of "democracy" and "community involvement". The current philosophy of the OU council is to only put up for test things that they (and most of the tournament community one can assume) have deemed way over the top. This means that for a test to happen, the Council has to basically be in agreement that this element is... well... broken. In other words, controversial potential problematic elements are left in a limbo in which a lot of people consider them troublesome for the metagame, but since it is not clear cut, the Council will not put a test up. Which means...
Im actually genuinely concerned about this point, because this is what we're getting since...well... ORAS if my memories are good. Suspects are exactly what the word "suspect" is: you/we suspect something because it might be broken/unhealthy. Now, you have a player base of more than 20k dudes, so you make a suspect because its not up to 7 people to decide the fate of that specific mon/metagame. Now this is the theory, but in practice... welp, just read Rey's post and youll understand.

Its pretty inexplicable how we had almost one full year of SM without a single suspect. And its almost mind blowing how we didnt get any suspect when the whole community was screaming for something to be done about a few mons (and some well known players aswell). If we need to suspect a mon each month, so be it. Whats stopping us from doing it? Official tournaments? come on.


I really liked the system we had in BW1 up through the Exca/Thund ban, where Pokemon players played Pokemon on the ladder for three weeks, then they could nominate suspects alongside their voter identification posts. Obviously not every nomination becomes an automatic suspect, people can suggest some pretty dumb stuff, but if there are a lot of qualified players clamoring for something to be looked at, the council acknowledges that and it gets put up for debate. To be banned, something needs a supermajority or a simple majority two rounds in a row. This kind of system ensures constant community engagement and allows people who are active enough to have some sort of say in shaping the game they play, which seems seems like it'd be great for PR, too - if you don't like it, you can do something about it rather than just bitching about Smogon and its evil Rotom-Wash. Also I'm sure a re-test could be scheduled for anything banned within a certain contentious percentage to make entirely sure something banned should stay that way.
Now this is something quite refreshing. But this might have some issues, mainly the rate at which those three weeks will be done. Is this going to be each month? each two months? once per year? Im not willing to do it once and sit down for a whole year without suspecting anything else (we did it in SM, and look at us now). If this system is implemented, it should be regular and coherent.

Another point should be the ladder system if this is implemented. Lets say were getting this each two months. Are we keeping the regular ladder or are we getting a new one each time? Cuz having a new ladder for 3 weeks each two months would promote a more "competitive ladder" (i hope so), but at the same time we should have the regular ladder available for people who wont actually do reqs (a lot of people just want to chill and play for fun, and having a 3 week suspect ladder its quite frustrating for those dudes)

Either way i hope this discussion will leads us to something good (OU Council just banned moody, so hats off to everyone who took some time to write and be part of this), because in the end, suspects are the core of every metagame, so lets use em at our advantage.

peace
 
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tcr

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I strongly support option number one. I also strongly agree with BKC's post of how suspect testing was done in BW and think that it is the best course for intermingling council opinions, TL jurisdiction, and community involvement.

I will talk about this option in context of the tier I know best, LC. How it was done in past suspects was a ranked choice voting system, in which there were two points of community interaction: the nomination stage and the actual voting stage. The nomination stage required traditional suspect reqs in order to propose your ranked choice options, whereas the actual suspect discussion was a period where users could submit an "application" of sorts to be on a permanent / rotating council for that period, and ultimately vote on the issue that was agreed upon by the community.

I think that the first part of that suspect test was well executed, as it allows legitimate democratic input from the community and those that prove themselves on the ladder. I think that the second part of the suspect test was extremely faulty. It involved the tier leaders handpicking those that they determined made the best arguments. I think that is very suspect to relationship bias. One will naturally have a preconceived opinion on the topic, and arguments that oppose the prevailing TL opinion will undoubtedly be perceived as less well-crafted. I do not think that people in general can ignore their own bias in this manner.

Some criticisms I can see for this method might be that, in the interest of getting as much community involvement as possible, suspect reqs are made easier. This was a past criticism of this system and in LC in particular. Frankly, I don't see why suspect reqs cannot be as normally difficult as they are, as the only community involvement that matters are those that are good enough and willing to get reqs in the first place. I think this is a key cornerstone of Smogon's tiering policy as I have defined it over my tenure.

Another criticism might be that the community will either suspect something absurd, or be trapped in cycles. Point one can call to LC's Baton Pass suspect test, which at the time was critically received as a joke, a mistake brought upon by having easier suspect reqs. Point two calls to LC's past attempts to suspect Diglett and/or Arena Trap, which did not have above 50% the first time it was suspected in 2015 but had between 50 and 66% the second time it was suspected (when requirement to ban was set at 66%), and has subsequently been a hotly debated topic. I could foresee an instance in which, in LC's case, Diglett / Arena Trap are constantly proposed as the topics of suspect testing but may not get banned, only to be resuspected the next cycle. My proposed amendment to that would be to either 1) Give this as an option in which the Tier Leader / Council would intervene and be able to choose the next ranked choice or to 2) Disallow repeat suspect tests (So one wouldn't be able to suspect Keldeo twice in a row, but could suspect Keldeo, then Tornadus-T, then Keldeo again).

I think this method would work best with a fixed cycle of suspect testing, two to three months to allow for metagame adaptation. I think there are always enough high profile tournament games going on for most tiers, between SPL, Grand Slam opens, tier Seasonals, tier PLs, to always have quality games to point to and see how people are adapting to certain things. In particular I think this method would allow the community to have much more of a say in what gets suspected. I think there are certainly issues with several tiers in which things don't get banned despite community outcry; you point towards SM OU at the end of its waning life-cycle and many LC players would apparently point towards the end of SM LC and its outcry of Vullaby / Abra.
 

chaos

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This is partially my fault for replying (& for allowing the post I deleted to be reposted after edits), but nitty gritty of Sleep Clause should be done in its dedicated thread from this point on.

-------

I think "council decides the metagame" is overstating your position, but the weaker position of "council is too conservative about nomming suspects" is I think legitimate. I don't have too much to say at the moment since I'm not too familiar with the drama around lack of suspects in the last year. In the interest of transparency I will note that I am internally looking for opinions on the matter.
 

UltiMario

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For those that are discussing revitalizing some aspects of the BW suspect system, it was not without its flaws, and was the main contributor to how we ended up with a more council-oriented suspect system to begin with. The main gripe many had with the process was the "suspect it until it's banned" mentality, which resulted in Excadrill being voted on a whopping five times in a few years and ultimately banned, only to be unbanned later down the road in favor of Sand Rush. You can read this article written by Jukain where you can really feel the pain that the community felt watching Drill get banned after countless suspect tests. Here's an excerpt.

Round 5 had ended, but the policymakers of Smogon were not happy. They found that the slates every round were becoming increasingly more stupid and Excadrill being banned after being not banned for four rounds was a wake-up call. The suspect system was failing, at least in the eyes of the powers that be, so a council composed of three of the greatest policy makers on Smogon, Earthworm, JabbaTheGriffin, and Aldaron was formed.
I'm not saying drill wasn't more powerful in the post-ban metas and didn't need to be evaluated again, but it was clear then that something terribly wrong had happened, and years later with drill unbanned it's still clear that the ban was a failure of the suspect system.

BW's fast paced and more community focused suspect system has some potentially advantageous elements worth looking into, but the process would absolutely require some changes. I'm all for increasing community involvement in the suspect process, but not if it means watching like Darmanitan or whatever other random mon be suspected every 3 months until it's banned.
 
The BW Excadrill situation could be easily avoided by giving "immunity" to a Pokémon after it gets voted as not broken for a determined period of time (6 months or a year or however long we deem fair).

If my memory serves me right Keldeo got suspected twice in BW2, but the first time was close to the release of the game, while the second time was towards the end of the generation. That was a fair way of suspecting a Pokémon multiple times.

If a Pokémon keeps getting nominated and yet it does not get banned what is the real problem: is the process of nominating potential suspects broken, or is the voting system used wrong?

As for the topic at hand: the biggest problem of the suspect process in the recent years is the fact that bans are definitive. Because of this, you never want to risk sending a Pokémon that isn't 100% problematic to Ubers, because then it is gone forever.

Likewise a Pokémon that is deemed not banworthy by a suspect seems to have complete immunity to a potential ban for the foreseeable future. Why? New items, trends, and more in general sets are discovered all the time, and some of these can easily push a Pokémon over the edge.

I'm all for a more fluid suspect process, the one that has been put in place in recent years was a good experiment but it has failed (as you can tell from all the recent topics about the role of the council and how suspects should be tackled in PR). If it fails then we will have more information on how to improve on it, and keep moving towards the best suspect process possible, which is our ultimate goal.
 
Hey Rey, thank you for bringing up some legitimate concerns that are obviously very important to our community. I agree with the underlying issue, but I also honestly think that some of the conclusions you draw / points you state are inaccurate, and I will try to address those as we go.

1) As per Council members, the suspect test is basically a formality / Suspect tests as they are right now are a false illusion of "democracy" and "community involvement"

&

2) This means that for a test to happen, the Council has to basically be in agreement that this element is... well... broken

Even if some of my fellow councilmen have agreed to this to some extent in heated Discord discussions, I for one dont think false illusion or formality are the correct phrases. The way I understand it, is that the council needs to agree (majority is required, NOT full agreement) on a certain element being (no longer) unhealthy / over the top. Once that happens they need to ask the community for permission to change the metagame into what they believe to be better. This is a verifiable and important distinction to make, because suspect tests have been close, as well as negative in the past.
Quick reminder: a supermajority of 60% is needed for a ban to go through.
SM
Eligible voters: 346
Votes: 271

Zygarde
Ban: 208
Do Not Ban: 63
Ban % = 76.7%

This is an example of opinion swaying a good amount during the suspect testing process, which is also something I agree with you on it being a real thing. At the start, community opinion was relatively split between the two options, but ultimately it turned out pretty one-sided due to the discussion in pr, as well as the focused testing of said element on the suspect ladder.

Eligible Voters: 172
Votes: 166

Ban: 104
Do Not Ban: 62
Ban % = 62.65%

Eligible Voters: 154
Votes: 150

Ban: 88
Do Not Ban: 62
Ban % = 58.67%


ORAS
Eligible Voters: 71
Votes: 67

Ban: 44
Do Not Ban: 23
Ban % = 65.67%

Eligible Voters: 216
Votes: 209

Ban: 128
Do Not Ban: 81
Ban % = 61.24%

Number of votes: 206
Unban: 56
Do Not Unban: 150

72,8% of the voter pool decided that Aegislash should remain in Uber, and therefore won't be reintroduced in OU.

Number of eligible voters: 335
Number of votes: 314
Ban: 180 (57,3%)
Do Not Ban: 134 (42,7%)


While this does refute your initial assumptions I stated above, it does not address the fact that a lack of majority in the council can deny worthwhile suspects taking place. The severity of this is slightly lower than you stated (majority vs. 'basically full agreement'), but I believe that this is still the single biggest flaw that could potentially come up under our current system. During the late SM OU arguments I was one of the most active pro-suspect (keep in mind, not even necessarily pro-ban) people, if not the the most active person period. The metagame was (or is, nothing has changed lol) very much playable, but I do believe that an issue with this much support, both quantitative as well as qualitative, deserves a public test. So how do we solve this problem? Well, I'd be lying if I said that I have the perfect solution ready, but the simplest idea would be that the council needs to do a better job representing the larger community in their decisions. I for one am still in support of a Mega-Mawile / Kartana test in OU, which is something we are still very much able to conduct. I also believe that Sword & Shield OU has had a very good tiering flow so far, please keep holding us accountable and making great posts (shoutout talah) in pr.

3) To put an example, the idea that to Quickban a ridiculous element such as Moody in SS we need full agreement from the council, and whatever weeks they might need to make up their mind, when the community is basically BEGGING for this shit to be gone is really confusing.

I've already responded to the Moody issue on Discord with this, but I also want to address the timeline, which is apparently something that displeased you. First of all, quickbans should be conducted with a significant amount of care, because it skips the permission process I talked about earlier. They also require full council agreement to further this cause, which is something I'm happy about. As for why even something like Moody isn't obvious, here is a quick recap of my stance:
We are already finding a compromise between absolute competitiveness and fun/replayability of our metagames by not banning absolutely every element involving luck (starting from Serene Grace to inaccurate moves). For Moody to be over the top I believe it needs to also represent a significant threat in the metagame, sheer uncompetitiveness would not suffice, as we can see with items like Quick Claw, Bright Powder, and Focus Band. Due to the lack of tournament stats, decent amount of counterplay (a very easy on the teambuilder option would be sand), and potential new toy syndrome I believe that a two week period in which no tournaments are suffering is very adequate for a decision as hard to reverse as this one.

4) "There should be a suspect test at all points in time" <- Why is this not a thing?

While I fully agree that suspect tests should be more frequent I dislike the other extreme a whole lot as well. Firstly, metagames need time to settle. This includes finding adequate counterplay to prominent threats, but it also needs to settle in a way where bad stuff isnt overused / good stuff underused, as that will create false perceptions of what is good or bad in response to any given metagame. There are multiple examples across various games that are consistent with this theory, but sticking to Pokemon, one SM OU example I can give that I feel strongly about is Life Orb Protean Greninja. At first this Pokemon was considered suspect worthy by many reputable parties, and they werent entirely wrong at the time. The usage stats were off however, and many prominent answers / structures we see nowadays werent fully developed as you also had to answer certain Pokemon that are considered bad nowadays (and therefore have less usage, you dont need to answer them as much). One quick example I can give regarding that is Alolan-Marowak.

TL; DR;
- Suspect tests are a confirmation process that the community feels the same way, not a formality
- The council needs to do a better job representing the community in instances such as the Mega-Mawile / Kartana fiasco
- Clauses should get removed by default if mechanics change, rebanned if still problematic
- Quickbans need to get conducted with utmost care, no tournaments taking place during their discussion process makes this an even more realistic and worthy goal to achieve
- We dont need and shouln't go into the other extreme of suspect testing at lightning speed, metagames need time to adapt to themselves, reaching a more optimized state as time progresses.
- As an aspiring Sword & Shield OU tournament player & council member I'm very pleased with the tiering timeline so far, we acted as fast on Dynamax as SS was comfortable with
- I couldn't fit this in my post but I'd like to quickly agree with practicality > precedent any day of the week
- Honestly I cant really TL;DR; the full context of this post so please read it if fully if this topic interests you ._.

Expect a heated discussion on Darmanitan soon after the Dynamax process concludes :blobthumbsup:
 
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TDK

is a Community Leaderis a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Tournament Director Alumnusis a Site Staff Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnusis a Past WCoP Champion
UU Leader
re: Suspect tests
I agree with what Eo said on Discord that peoples' opinions don't really change during a suspect test. Obviously that's not the case for every single person who's going to get reqs, but really, what percentage of people that get reqs actively read the suspect thread? Do people even talk about the suspect test on Discord beyond linking the thread and "yo i'm laddering if anyone wants to watch"? None of the Discord servers I frequent really 'debate' or even discuss tests that much, and it's usually very brief. I wouldn't say the suspect test process is just a formality; gathering voters using the most objective method we currently have is plenty of reason to take time to conduct a test. Just using tournament requisites and doing away with voting reqs is beyond stupid, so I don't know what other way we're going to collect voters.

re: Moody
Moody was unbanned for ten days. I really think people were just totally overreacting to it. While I do think it absolutely should be banned, I think people are really overestimating how "good" it was. The majority of the time I see it win is due to the other person playing bad. Everyone complains about Moody when they see a player... switch their Scarf Darmanitan into Glalie and let it get boosts instead of going to something like LO Clefable, which will beat it the vast majority of the time. It's really not an autowin and I think the people who just started blindly raging and whining about it probably just didn't understand how to play around it. I'm not saying it only wins because you or your opponent played bad. Yes, it can still beat you even if you play well; that's why we banned it. But we debated a lot about it because we all felt it was overestimated as hell, compared it to other luck based tactics, as well as the fact we had to discuss between Moody vs Glalie, and write up the post. I don't think we took too long here and I think it's just people getting mad for no reason. People who are complaining it even got unbanned just simply don't understand how tiering works. It got nerfed; there's not a good reason not to test it. We shouldn't have a ban only mentality. Bans should be minimized to only what is necessary, so if there's a chance it's not broken, there's no harm in giving it a chance at the start of the gen. What was the harm?

re: SM Tiering
I'll be upfront with a few opinions before getting into it: I think we should have tested something. I always supported testing Kartana. I was vocal that I thought the tier had issues and could be better. But, people acting like the community was united and wanted to ban Kartana are just skewing the facts in their favor. Sure, you could say Kartana was the most vocalized complaint, but it really wasn't as complained about as people make out to be now. There were so many Pokemon suggested and brought up to be testing it's entirely evident the community was split on the matter. Ever since the Arena Trap ban, people throw out "omg this is broken" and it changes on a month to month basis throughout the entirety of the remainder of SM. I really don't think you can honestly say that there was a large majority opinion on the matter. Pretty much every discussion lately has mentioned "Kartana or Mawile" which is case in point: there wasn't a majority agreement on what needed to be tested. Like, yeah, I do think Kartana was more vocalized than Mawile, but not that much. And then there's the fact people don't typically speak up if people think the tier is fine, and there are a lot of dudes who feel that way but don't feel the need to debate why every Pokemon mentioned doesn't need to be tested. Dudes like Ojama, Charmflash, suapah, and more all think the tier is fine, but only Charmflash has posted in the threads. People who are fine with the status quo don't speak up. I still believe a test should have happened, as I said at the start of this paragraph, but let's not act like everyone was ready to band together to get Kartana out of the tier, because that was not the case. The State of SM thread did not exactly scream that the community wanted something to happen, as it had like 10 real replies. I don't really want to call out people, but let's be real, PDC ranting about about Z Moves when there was already a thread on it and then just roasting the Council and Aurella posting a bunch of stats don't add anything to the discussion that was at hand. I'm not going to defend the lack of a "conclusion" from Council in the State of SM thread or the Z-Move thread, because we probably should have posted something more conclusive, and that's something we already know should be fixed.

---

Now to the main points.

First, about Suspect Testing. When something gets tested, it is more likely than not going to get banned. This isn't because we only test things we know will get banned, it's because Smogon has a ban first mentality. I think this is pretty clearly evident from pretty much every complaint to get something tested or banned in any tier, but to drive the point home, I spent some time to compile every suspect test during SM and USUM voting to ban or not ban a Pokemon in OU through PU (excluding Ubers, DOU, LC, Monotype).



It obviously doesn't paint the whole story, but I looked this up mostly out of curiosity and I am by no means saying this is the tell all because there's more to things than just numbers. My point is: people are way more apt to want to ban something than they are to give it time and adapt to it. That's why this whole ordeal is taking place. If you look at the statistics, it's pretty evident how ban happy things are. I'm aware that people will make the argument "but if we tested more things." Well yes, but that's why I included more than just OU. But also: do you think if we had a suspect test every month, how often would we not ban something? Our goal in tiering is to have as few bans as possible, not to ban everything we feel like.

I think having constant suspect tests is a horrendous idea. Testing things is not a no risk move; you don't just test something so there's constant suspect tests. Metagames need to develop and adapt, and those take time. The vast majority of people want what they think should happen to happen immediately, which is dumb. Things changes, people adapt, metagames develop. Magearna was obscenely broken for a good few months in the middle of SM. Now? It's not on the same level as Kartana or Mawile in terms of the community wanting it banned. Should we have immediately tested Magearna during / after World Cup 2017? I really don't think so, and I don't see people complaining that we didn't do that test. Because things changed. Metagames developed. Players adapted. Having constant suspect tests puts the metagame in a permanent state of change and being shaken up. When conducting a test, we, as the Council, must be prepared for either outcome. If you don't think the vast majority of tests, especially in the early portion of a generation, will lead to a ban, you're delusional. Banning something new every month or even a new test every month is not going to happen. A suspect test not occurring is not the same thing as inaction. I would much rather have a long time with no test than constant tests, because it means the metagame can develop and settle.

My other main point is about surveys, polls, nominations, etc. Let me ask everyone this: do you want a Council? Because a Council means that discretion of the Council members is going to be applied. It's subjective, but so is tiering. For a Council to function, discretion must exist too. If we were to do surveys, polls, suspect nominations; what would the requirements be? If x amount of people want this tested or banned, we do it? Is this the way it's supposed to be the entire portion of the generation? Because, if so, there's absolutely no purpose to a Council in the first place. Just have SS or some unbiased entity of people with some level of authority conduct regular polls and surveys to gauge what should be tested, get someone familiar with the metagame to write up the suspect post, and bam that's the suspect process. If that's what you want, argue for that. Don't ask the Council to jump through millions of hoops to apply discretion only if you agree with it. Either things are entirely objective (see: numbers from replies to surveys/polls etc) or the Council must have some room to make decisions that they believe are for the best.

If you want a Council, but also want surveys, polls, suspect nominations: what do you want, exactly? We are not going to hide the results of the surveys or polls, but if you were to see a certain % of people believe a Pokemon should be banned, but the Council firmly believes nothing should happen; what should happen? I'm very aware we should be very receptive. When I was Tier Leader, Mega Sableye was tested, and banned, despite all seven of the current Council members voting not to ban it. We all were okay with testing it, we were all prepared for the result, and we all knew that the community wanted it. But that does not mean I'm going to be alright with just any test just because it's what the community wants. Yes, this obviously comes off as elitist and "my opinion is better than yours", but I simply don't believe there should be absolutes or guarantees, because the community will only ever look at things one way and we, as a Council, must consider everything. It's a lot easier to say "we should ban Aegislash because it's overly restrictive" than it is for us to explain to the community Aegislash isn't broken but it needs to be banned. It's a lot easier to demand Magearna get banned than it is for us to explain why we should wait and see if things adapt to it. There are repercussions, too, of every test. We have to keep in mind that tests are a big deal, even if they don't result in ban.

Obviously, the Council can receive thoughts, criticisms, and opinions. I'm not saying we get to decide everything how we want it to be done. Do I think we should've been more receptive to community input at the end of SM? Probably yeah. Do I think just because a portion of the community wants something to happen right now, that means we have to test it? Absolutely not. The biggest issue, to me, was the lack of a conclusion in terms of testing at the end of SM. Something should've been decided and posted about. But I think a lot of people just want us to do what they think is right. And when we don't? Make a thread to complain about it. Again, do you even want a Council?
 

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