Removing Pokemon from Suspect Ladders


is a member of the Site Staffis a Super Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogonis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnus
NU Leader
With the recent thread on Council Requirements I figured now would be a good time to bring up something else regarding Suspect Tests; allowing Pokemon that have been suspected to be present on their respective ladders for the duration of the test. This has been a thing for as long a very long time, aside from a short period in ORAS where there were a couple suspects which had two ladders (ORAS NU Sawk and ORAS RU Alomomola come to mind), one where the subject was allowed and one where it wasn't allowed, with voters being required to get reqs on both ladders. The main reason that I feel this is necessary now, and probably something that should have been pushed a while ago is the colossal amount of theorymonning, predicting, and speculation that surrounds almost every semi-controversial test in lower tiers.

Let me start with the reasoning as to why they have been used up till this point, and why I dont think they are as necessary at this stage in Smogon. The main argument for the Pokemon not being allowed on the ladder is that it leads to unfamiliar voters who have never played the tier before voting on a Pokemon they may have never used or faced, consequently they can't optimally come to an informed decision on whether or not something is banworthy or not. This is a very valid concern, but I feel we're reaching the point where this is becoming less and less necessary. The amount of voters who aren't well versed in the tier are drastically getting lower and lower with every test and more or less we're left with the same pool of voters voting on every suspect with obvious exceptions. While this is not always the case, I have noticed in NU especially that people who tend to get reqs once almost always do / try to get them in future tests. There are also other ways tier leaders can try to attempt to get voters more in line w/ the actual playerbase of a tier. Some of these ways could include making reqs a little harder, mandatory Council posts, running more frequent Suspect Tours with the Pokemon allowed (NU did this a bit with our recent Sneasel test which was pretty nice), Livestreams / Podcasts of influential members of the tier explaining their thoughts, live chat discussions in discord / PS! (good way to connect with the wider playebase and increase activity on both fronts) or even just having detailed posts that explain and demonstrate the metagame and subject in question w/ relevant replays & examples for people new to the tier as the first posts of every suspect (Basically just further fleshing out the OP's of these threads as a one stop information hub). Another idea I had that might not fly, but might be worth talking about, is requiring all voters to meet a certain threshold, something like joining anyone of a tiers circuit / tours (Seasonals / Opens / Ladder tours / Other official tours or minitours), just to show the players have a genuine interest and at least some sort of experience of a previous metagame. Honestly not sure if that's even the best approach or if it would work that well, but i'm sure other people have ideas on how to maximise the quality of the voting pool etc.

I also want to quickly re-touch on something i brought up at the start of this post, with the way ORAS NU did suspects for a short period. The one I remember off the top of my head is the ORAS Sawk test, where a Sawk ladder was kept up for a week, followed by a ladder with Sawk banned. Now while I believe this was a good initiative at the time, it ultimately wasn't as successful as it could have been as people did not want to ladder for reqs twice within two weeks. there was however, an increase in the quality of posts within the thread (found here). Just by having the second ladder, voters were able to better articulate what they thought of the meta and subject and have actual experiences on the ladder to justify their opinions. While I don't think this is the exact solution we need, I do think that they were on the right path with having a ladder without the suspected Pokemon.

The reason I feel this is necessary is, as I said before, the amount of theorymonning and speculation in regards to future metagames from both sides of voters always seems to result in a split voterbase, particularly during controversial suspects which have no clear leading choice. Lots of posts in Metagame threads devolve into people arguing for or against a meta being better / worse without the suspect Pokemon, but at the end of the day both sides do not have anything substantial to base these posts off of as the only metagame that can be played is the one the tier is currently experiencing with the suspected Pokemon around. It's impossible to say what a metagame will or wont be like with or without a staple Pokemon in the tier, at least without actively playing and building for that metagame, something which does not happen due to the nature of Suspect Tests. Thus, this will lead to an increase in well informed posts and people being given the opportunity to experience the metagame they're speculating for themselves and draw their own conclusions from it, as well as posts being able to be backed up by replays and teams tailored for the new metagame.

Another potential benefit I can see from barring the Pokemon on the ladder is the potential rise in acitivty that might result from it. With a new metagame on the ladder, it might provide more incentive for people on council (a valid point brought up in the Council Reqs thread), and more "mainers" of a tier to ladder and play, as being able to play and build for a new meta usually inspires more activity and givse people that already have a 'set in stone' opinion on something the chance to re-think and enhance their arguments with experiences of a concrete metagame. This will also potentially lead to a rise in Metagame posts in the thread, as there is a lot more to be discussed when you can actively see the affects of a ban from that respective metagame. People will be able to bring up things like ladder trends, things that got better or worse with the loss of the mon, and just in general less theorymon and more justified arguments which could be very beneficial for suspects which are hotly contested. There has been an overall decline in the number of metagame posts (at least in most lower tiers) since ORAS, and while that may be the sign of a shift towards live discussion and other tiers / tournament oriented players who might not actively take part in discussion, this might be something that could bring that activity back.

Another argument, albeit not as relevant, is that it increases consistency between tiers (which is something we've been seeing more emphasis on as of late, and something which makes a lot of sense to continue following the verdict of the Council Reqs thread) mainly between lower tiers and OU, which right now have two completely different suspect processes. There was also a thread recently about having a unified ban % for suspects, and I believe this ties into it as well as Smogon should strive to be as consistent as possible for clarity and to give the wider community better awareness of having unified site-wide policy.

Overall, I feel this is something that's long overdue, and something that will definitely lead to a positive increase in the quality of suspect tests in the future and lead to better Metagames, and greater consistency among all tiers so hopefully we can reach a conclusion and get some good discussion in this thread. Thanks for reading!


is a Tiering Contributoris a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Battle Simulator Moderator Alumnusis a Past SPL and WCoP Champion
you missed some pretty important reasons about why suspect ladders have the suspect present.

you vote based on whether the suspect is broken in the current metagame. which meta you prefer has literally 0 impact on a suspect vote, if the meta afterwards is worse then you can follow up with banning of new problematic elements, and people frequently make the mistake of picking their favorite meta when given the chance to experience both.

additionally, players having to build new teams for the suspect ladder both

A) lowers the quality of the ladder as people get their first chance to use new teams while playing their reqs games, and
B) incentivizes voters to pick ban as the work they have done learning the post-suspect meta will be mostly wasted if the suspect is added back.

i'm not convinced by your point regarding "everyone who gets suspect reqs is familiar with the meta that they did not play to qualify" either. even if it's true that a vast majority of the voters return for every test and there isn't much turnover (i'm slightly skeptical but i'll grant it), i'd guess that a good number of them may not have been paying extremely close attention to the meta right before the suspect test and have a moderately uninformed opinion on the suspect before starting the test. if not given the chance to experience the suspect, how could they make a well-reasoned, informed vote?

it's a suspect test, not a ban test. you're testing the suspect.


[4:35 AM] Nails: the meta health afterward
[4:36 AM] Nails: literally isn't a consideration
[4:36 AM] Nails: u just vote on whether the current mon is a toxic element
[4:36 AM] Nails: and that's still my #1 point
[4:36 AM] <redacted>: but how do u know the full impact
[4:36 AM] <redacted>: of the mon
[4:36 AM] Nails: u play the tier
[4:36 AM] Nails: and have past experiences to compare it to
[4:37 AM] Nails: about what is and is not healthy
[4:38 AM] Nails: "yea this thing is cancer, i don't think we should allow it any more" or "this thing is strong but manageable and i think the tier is healthy having it stay legal"
[4:38 AM] Nails: those are the 2 choices
[4:38 AM] Nails: and theorymon about what happens after makes 0 impact
[4:39 AM] <redacted>: ok but every suspect boils down to theorymon
[4:39 AM] Nails: it's on the tier leader to set a culture to ensure that voters don't vote based on what the tier will be like after
[4:39 AM] <redacted>: at least in the threads
[4:39 AM] <redacted>: and how people vote
[4:39 AM] Nails: then the tier leader isn't doing their job
[4:41 AM] Nails: like, that's an issue that TLs have to address, don't get me wrong
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is a Tutoris a Smogon Social Media Contributoris a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributoris a Tiering Contributoris a Contributor to Smogon
I very strongly disagree with a lot of this. I don't have all the time in the world to write lengthy paragraph responses so I'm just going to type and let someone else organize my thoughts for me. I would like to point out that I come from a totally different perspective, as I play Little Cup, not a usage-based tier, and we have been keeping our suspects on the ladder. Firstly I think this is an absolutely ridiculous thing to standardize. Generally the Tier Leaders and Council would know what the tier needs most. I trust them to make the decision that is correct in this case instead of just forcing on specific way on our system. If NU believes the voterbase will be more versed in the metagame when the flavor of the month is off the ladder, then so be it. Why does LC need to adjust our working system to adhere to this?

More importantly, this ruffles my feathers on the philosophy of tiering in general. One thing that I always stress (and what I believed was a smogon-wide policy) was that we are worried about what the metagame is right now. We do not care about what the metagame will become, because we don't know the massive amount of variables and aspects that go into the adjustment of the metagame. Using a slippery slope fallacy to determine a suspect, NOT a ban, is really detrimental to the future of a metagame.

With all of that in mind I'm not really a fan of imposing stricter rules and guidelines like this in our communities. LC had no problem with council reqs, as everyone who was on council either got regular reqs, or had stupidly good records to justify them using the council reqs. Why do we need to adjust to something else just because another community is having an issue with it?


The Enterpriser.
is a Tiering Contributor
OK but why do we have to remove one ladder for the suspect ladder?

Hear me out, we could have two ladders present. The regular ladder could be replaced for "Non-Suspect" Ladder and then add the Suspect Ladder, and Non-Suspect could be programmed as a third ladder, where the suspect is completely banned but it doesn't go towards requirements, and we could remove both of these ladders once suspect ends with regular ladder back until we have results.

To clarify: Suspect Ladder would remain the same, and be the only ladder used towards requirements; "Non-Suspect" ladder would be the ladder with the suspect(s) banned, so that one could evaluate metagame development, but this ladder will not count towards requirements.

I really do believe people would play Non-Suspect ladder once they achieve requirements; I personally don't like to play on suspect ladder once I meet requirements because I don't want to deprive others of the chance to vote by beating them when I already earned rights to vote, and many others probably feel this way too.

Also, like to point out that there really isn't any risk to having two ladders if we don't make the second ladder a requirement to vote in, and with the names it shouldn't be "confusing to new players" either.

Usually metagame experience + evaluating suspect should allow a player to arrive to a proper conclusion, but I don't think it would be harmful to have the second ladder present if it could be helpful.

I don't know if others feel the same way, but I've always lowkey wished we could have two ladders present for suspects. Maybe others won't hold themselves to a higher standard and play both ladders, but I know some of us (like myself) totally would, as it would be a valuable way to make an educated vote.

Just my 2cents
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is a Tiering Contributor Alumnus
The thing is, as nails and coconut stated, the focus of discussion in suspects should be wether the pokemon in question is broken or not. Having a ladder with the pokemon banned leads, as far i can tell, to people believing that they should consider how the metagame will be without the pokemon, which will make people think "oh i like x metagame better so i will vote y" vs "oh this mon is broken/fine so i will vote ban/no ban".

Theorizing or playing a monless metagame should have 0 impact on a vote. We should strive to push people into having the right idea behind their votes, and thats why i think that, if anything, there should be only ladders with the suspected mon allowed, so people can see for themselves how the mon acts in the meta and if its healthy or not.
I think Nails and Coconut pretty much hit the nail on the head here, but no one should be basing their votes on "theorymonning, predicting, and speculation." We should be basing arguments and votes on how the suspect performs in the current metagame.

The only reason I'd seriously argue for there to be an exception is if the Pokemon in question is being suspected because it is unhealthy, and even then the onus should probably be on the pro-ban side to present a compelling argument to change the status quo (I want to say it explicitly says this in our tiering policy but I can't be bothered to check).

ORAS Sawk having two ladders was probably a mistake looking back even if I think it was helpful to show that Sawk's presence was leading to unhealthy metagame development. I think no pokemon suspect ladders are inherently bad under the assumption that it's gonna take 2 weeks or more for a metagame to stabilize after you remove or add a threat. I don't think that leads to informed suspect voters unless theyre actively playing for 2 weeks, and I think we can agree thats an unreasonable expectation. Even if you could circumvent this issue I think the other points presented in this thread clearly illustrate why no pokemon ladders are probably a bad idea.

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