Rejected On major metagame changes during the final stage of a tournament

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At the beginning of the week, Walking Wake, Iron Leaves, and Zoroark-H were released on PS! and will thus be legal to use in Round 6 of OST and Week 8 of SPL. As shown with the new suspect test, it appears that Walking Wake is a dangerous threat to the metagame, enough to be voted on by the OU Council and suspect tested a few days only after its release. I will not discuss OU Council's decisions on this matter since it falls under metagame management and that's their job. However, it was brought to my attention that a majority of (tournament) players don't want Walking Wake in OU because of its overwhelming power, so it raises a concern regarding ongoing official tournaments: the metagame will gravitate around a very new Pokémon as two official tournaments enter their final stage. With the current system, Walking Wave can - and will most likely - be a parasite to the metagame for at least the next two weeks, which means it will affect Round 6 x 7 of OST (i.e top 64 x 32) and final two qualifying weeks of SPL. I also don't need to remind you that the last two weeks of SPL will feature some high stakes SV OU games, so allowing the Russian roulette Walking Wake will be detrimental to decide the teams that will advance into playoffs.

I think it is a very inappropriate timing to introduce Walking Wake in official tournaments featuring SV OU, as this will likely damage these tournaments' competitivity. In comparison, Cinderace and Greninja were both released one after the other in the first weeks of these two tournaments, and neither caused any major change in the metagame. This is actually not the first time such a thing occurs, as WCoP 2020 was affected by the release of the first SwSh DLC right before the first round. This caused teams to prep for and play a completely new metagame right at the beginning of the tournament, while teams who played qualifiers had to switch from a metagame to another within two weeks. I don't think this is how we want to play tournaments. It seems to me that it would be much better to play the next few weeks in the current metagame, which is much more stable than the metagame of tomorrow as new threats are dropped one by one.

That's why I think we need a ruling to prevent major metagame changes during a tournament, at the very least in its most crucial phases, i.e during playoffs or last weeks of qualification. I strongly encourage any OST/SPL participant to voice their opinion on this matter so that we can discuss about a decision to be made.
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No real opinion, just quoting the decision in 2021 that reversed the tier locks that used to be a thing in playoffs and the likes:
For several years now, it has become common to lock tiers during playoffs phase of some individual or team tournaments. The TD Team has decided to remove this particular practice from our tournaments. The problems with the playoffs lock are most apparent during Grand Slam, but have potential to present themselves during any tournament with a strictly defined playoffs phase. Given an inconveniently enough timed suspect test, quick ban, or tiering cycle, players can find themselves playing a metagame that no longer exists for a month or more. Such an outcome is undesirable enough that the playoffs of Smogon Tour 30 were delayed to allow the OU council enough time to properly take tiering action. Had the playoffs lock not been in place, that would have been unnecessary. This issue is typically more of a concern in tiers affected by the tiering cycle, but in addition to the fact that non-usage based tiers, most notably OU, have seen a tremendous amount of tiering action in SS, it would be unnecessarily confusing to enforce locks on only certain tiers.

Note that this change is only intended to account for the typical tiering process, and large content drops similar to Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
3 new mons hardly fulfil the criteria in the last paragraph, a HOME drop might.


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OU Leader
I have an inside perspective as OUTL and TD, so I will give my account.

I voted ban on Walking Wake in large part because it is broken to me and warps the game, but also in smaller part because it is a big metagame changer and we have SPL, OST and STour all occurring. To me, it seemed like the best decision to remove it because it really limited an otherwise developing metagame and then retest it with other things when Pokemon Home was released as it may be less worrisome then and it was much better for the calendar of both our metagame (see: it just removed a lot of other threats and finally was settling down) and our tournament calendar (see: SPL/OST/STour all being compromised now).

With new release models like DLC and Home, we should be flexible with our approach, and this is something that has been tough for Smogon the last handful of years. Unfortunately, support to quickban it was just not there as per the vote, but rather only support to suspect it. I do not blame the council members who voted to keep it because it is reasonable to want to see more than a week of it in the tier. However, the context and timeline make it a very awkward decision and one that probably should have some contingency in tournaments, in my opinion.

When I found out Walking Wake was not going to be quickbanned, I pivoted to the TD chat to see if we could find any precedent or rule to disallow it for even another week or two given that it is a new, mid-tournament release. Unfortunately again, no such rule or precedent existed. I understand this, too, as it is not a common situation.

Over the last few days, a lot of people in SPL or OST have approached me citing grievances about Walking Wake being allowed, and really all I could say was "sorry, I tried to quickban it myself". In the end, perhaps this is for the best -- if people think the metagame is better with it or are ok shifting drastically mid-tournament, then there is no problem in my book. Personally, I think a contingency would be cool, but hard to codify admittedly.


Waiting for something to happen?
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Ubers Leader
I agree mostly with the op, new introductions of Pokemon like these really do affect tours and with how hard it is to predict new raid events and the like there should probably be something put in place just in case we get more game breaking solo drops rather than just new metas with home / dlc. I think that if something goes to an immediate council vote (probably in <1 week of release if it needs to be quantified) and is voted to be suspected but not qb'd, the mon should be quickbanned into immediate retest. Everything would effectively be the same, ladder could still use it and the reqs to ban it could remain at whatever majority the tier normally uses, but it wouldn't be legal in tours for the following rounds unless it survives the suspect test. This gives a lot more time to at the very least adapt to the new Pokemon, or to just continue playing the meta that will exist after the suspect if it is banned. It's not super likely we get another time where a Pokemon that's extremely controversial is dropped on us alone with no warning during a lot of major tours, but since we have 3 SV tours going on rn it's good to have a protocol for the future if it does happen. Lower tiers can probably adopt this too, if something gets tier shifted down and avoids a council qb but goes to a suspect test during pl's / circuit tours, that can be left up to their leaders and councils though.
slightly imbalanced yet up to date and Official metagames > outdated and dry ones

if something is heinous enough it’ll be quickbanned. if not, then that’s a tiering issue not a tour issue
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Head TD
With the conclusion of the Walking Wake suspect and it being voted to remain OU legal by majority opinion, the issue with premise presented in the OP is made pretty clear, considering that it would have resulted in an extra two weeks of an outdated metagame and the introduction of Walking Wake even later in the tournament.

What's fundamentally being requested here is for TDs (or individual hosts) to act as a backstop council and perform a functional quickban into resuspect in cases where a tiering council has decided to go a different route by suspecting a newly released/dropped Pokemon.

As pointed out by ABR above, our tournaments are for the official metagames, and we try to keep up to date with them as much as possible. Playing an outdated metagame that is not being supported or tiered in any way, regardless of whatever broken elements come to light, is fundamentally undesirable. We have a mechanism in place for exceptional circumstances (like full DLC releases in late stages of tournaments) which are expected to result in massive tiering upheaval, in order to protect the integrity of tournaments when absolutely necessary.

In short, what's being requested here is something that assumes a tiering policy and council failure, as tournament policy already has coverage for exceptional circumstances that the normal tiering process cannot adequately handle. If you want to make quickban into resuspect a general policy it should be handled as a tiering policy question.
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