The Difference Between Innovation and Gimmicks


Inertia is a property of matter.
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This article will go through what characterizes innovative sets and gimmicky ones and will give a few examples of each, emphasizing how newer players can tell the difference and avoid gimmicks when creating their own sets.

  • In nearly every tier's viability rankings, Next Best Thing thread, and Counter That Threat! competition, you can find supporters of a certain set or Pokemon claiming that it's "innovative" and "novel" while its opponents deride it as "gimmicky" and "outclassed"
  • So who's right? Sometimes, both sides: the division between creative and gimmicky can be a fine line.
  • In this article, I'll attempt to explain what differentiates creative sets from gimmicky ones and how you can avoid making outclassed sets when trying to innovate
Creative or Gimmicky?
  • Basically, creative sets use an uncommon or nonstandard item, ability, EV spread, or move that proves consistently useful in high-level play. The opportunity cost of using a creative set as opposed to a standard set should be outweighed by its surprise value and the utility it provides.
  • The key words here are "nonstandard" and "useful". For example, a Bisharp with Inner Focus or Pressure would not be both useful and nonstandard because Defiant is a much more useful ability in pretty much every situation, relegating non-Defiant Bisharp to the "gimmick" label. The opportunity cost of using Inner Focus or Pressure is huge, and even though those abilities' surprise value is high, the utility they provide is almost nonexistent.
  • Another example of a gimmick set is Fake Out + Last Resort on almost every Pokemon. This strategy, if you can even call it that, is stopped cold by Ghost-, Steel-, and Rock-types and exceptionally bulky Pokemon and is outclassed by every other set your Pokemon can use.
  • On the other hand, the move Sucker Punch takes advantage of Defiant boosts and provides a way for Bisharp to circumvent its low Speed and hit faster foes. However, Sucker Punch Bisharp is run by most people and described in detail in the Smogon analysis, so while it is definitely effective, it's not very creative. When I refer to "standard" sets, I'm talking about this type of move.
  • In contrast, a creative Bisharp set would be one that uses Taunt, which allows Bisharp to stallbreak more easily, which it can't do as effectively otherwise. While Taunt Bisharp might miss the move that was replaced by Taunt, it is still a good example of a nonstandard but useful set with some surprise value and utility.
  • Additionally, if creative sets are effective enough, more people will start to use them, so they will become more standard. Some of the most successful and iconic sets today were created by people who thought a little outside the box.
  • Every Pokemon has endless possibilities for sets thanks to the nature of movepools, items, and EVs, but don't forget to sit back and think about what types of foes your newest innovation can actually beat.
  • A good way to find a starting point when creating sets is the Other Options section of the Pokemon's Smogon analysis, which lists options that aren't moves on the main set but could viably replace them.
  • If your set flops against common foes, it's probably a gimmick, but don't let that discourage you, and learn from your mistakes: maybe your next creation will be the diamond in the rough.

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