Policy Review Tiering Separately from OU – Follow-up


summer break !!!!!
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approved by quziel and snake_rattler

This is a continuation on the decisions made in the previous thread on OU-CAP tiering dynamics. Currently, the metagame council is able to make tiering decisions—either through suspect tests or quickbans—independently of OU, the tier we're primarily based around.

However, the recent decision by the OU metagame council to hold a suspect test for Melmetal has raised a new question the previous thread hadn't accounted for: what happens when a Pokemon that is seen as balanced, or even beneficial for the health of the CAP metagame, is banned from OU? To quote the decision of the previous thread,

"Despite being separated from OU, CAP will still aim to keep the overall power level within the metagame very similar. In accordance with this, unbanning Pokemon from the Ubers tier will not be on the table due to it inadvertently raising the power level of the metagame."

What is being proposed is that we amend this decision to better address situations where an OU tiering decision goes against the wishes of the CAP playerbase. As it's relevant to the discussion at hand, Melmetal itself would not be a terribly significant loss if banned, but its presence is appreciated as a buffer to both Venomicon forms, along with the OU threats it normally helps handle such as Weavile and Tapu Lele. Furthermore, there are CAPs which hold Melmetal back in return, including Arghonaut, Pyroak, and Levitate Equilibra, which greatly reduces the teambuilding constraint it presents to players.

With the OU and CAP metagames being very different as a result of the latter introducing 30+ Pokemon, some of which absolutely need to be accounted for when designing a competitive team, these sort of situations where a problematic element in one metagame doesn't hold true for the other will become increasingly common. Part of the reason we allowed ourselves to tier separately from OU is because OU already tiers itself separately from us: if an OU mon is problematic for CAP, why should they care? Likewise, one can argue that if a suspected OU mon is a balanced addition to the CAP metagame, why should we have to follow through with its ban?

Now, there have been concerns raised about the optics of allowing for unbans. First, by unbanning a Pokemon from Ubers, it essentially opens the door to allowing other unbans. A Pokemon like Spectrier would not appreciate facing the likes of Guts Colossoil, the newly-minted Dark/Normal Chromera, or Bulletproof Equilibra, on top of normally difficult matchups such as Blissey or Tyranitar. Does that mean we have the capacity to unban it? Additionally, unbans would do more to remove CAP's identity from OU, making the metagame even more difficult for players to adjust to, and reducing the transferability of OU teams to CAP by an even greater degree.

This is a topic fairly sensitive to people, and as such is mainly what warrants serious discussion. Losing an integral Pokemon to our metagame is a bad situation, especially when the only other way to prevent it is essentially hijacking the OU suspect test to preserve our very own. As it stands, no OMs which also follow standard OU banlists worry about such things, and ban/unban freely. Of course, we do not operate like OMs do, and allowing for such power has a whole list of ramifications which could turn out poorly for us if we're not careful.

To kickstart discussion on what we can potentially do, I'll propose my own idea on the matter:

The CAP metagame council should have the power to contest the decisions made by OU tiering leaders, with the caveat that they must make a decision within one month of the OU decision having been enacted. Once this period is up, the metagame council is again restrained by their usual limits, including the inability to unban elements from Ubers.

The exact timeframe is arbitrary, of course, but the intent is that CAP can only reverse the actions of OU for a small window. This allows us to preserve a Pokemon that would otherwise be banned, without explicitly giving us the power to pick and choose what Ubers could be reintroduced into the CAP metagame. To further expand on this idea:
  • If the CAP community decides to preserve a recently banned OU Pokemon, they still retain the right to suspect it independently later on.
  • If OU holds a suspect to reintroduce a banned Pokemon back to OU, CAP regains their capability to make their own tiering decisions.
    • If the reintroduction passes, CAP is able to keep the Pokemon banned, and vice-versa: a failed reintroduction still permits CAP to decide for themselves whether the Pokemon stays or not.
I think this is a good starting point for a potential solution. Speaking personally, OU being able to influence the makeup of the CAP metagame despite us not having any impact in return is really unfortunate, and could seriously mess with the optics of certain CAPs and overall tier health. I would like us to have some sort of say in the matter, but I fully understand the reservations of those not wanting to further mess with CAP's metagame, policy structure, and relationship with OU. There's certainly a more robust and/or simplified system we could put in place to achieve this goal, if deemed necessary, but hopefully what I've outlined is enough to get the ball rolling.


En Aften Ved Svanefossen
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I do not like this for a number of reasons. The main one, however, was best said by the immortal Jho:
Despite being separated from OU, CAP will still aim to keep the overall power level within the metagame very similar. In accordance with this, unbanning Pokemon from the Ubers tier will not be on the table due to it inadvertently raising the power level of the metagame.
Whether or not a Pokemon that is banned in OU is less impactful in CAP doesn't really push the meter. CAP should, in all regards, attempt to retain a similar power level to OU and utilizing Ubers Pokemon detracts from that goal.


spin, spin, spin
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Sup dudes. Its been a while since I've posted in here, figured I've give my ten cents on this.

OP's main point that the metagame council should have a way to contest or otherwise challenge an OU decision is correct. I have no opinion on Melmetal and whatever immediate issue prompted OP to post this thread, but the main purpose of the metagame council is to ensure the health and validity of our metagame. Part of this goes beyond simple playability; the metagame council also has to take into consideration major CAP tourneys and CAP projects. These considerations, along with any nuance between CAP and OU, is completely lost upon the OU playerbase. Therefore, we can't assume that any OU decision will translate positively into the CAP metagame, which in turn means the metagame council must have the ability to contest them whenever necessary for the betterment of CAP. Just ask yourselves how many times a CAP process has floundered on release because OU banned a Pokemon central to its process, or how frustrating it is to have the metagame flip mid-tournament due to an OU ban. As for concerns over maintaining a power level similar to OU, CAP has to be the ones making the decisions here. OU can't make a decision to change its banlist while simultaneously deciding that the same ban in CAP will lead to both tiers having similar power levels. They set the power level, we see to it that we follow it. The key point here is that some level of decision making should be had on our part regardless of what OU does, as we're the only ones who can say what our tier is.

As for how this could be done, I'll leave that discussion to the players of today. I've been out of the game too long to tell you all how to run things- you've all been doing a wonderful job of it these past couple years.


imperfection is beautiful
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I would like to advocate for shnowshner's proposal, and furthermore I would like to add upon it by suggesting that we obtain the autonomy to run our own suspect tests for Ubers Pokemon.

CAP reflecting OU's tiering decisions without fail, I believe, is one that works more effectively on paper than it does in execution. While on one hand it makes sense to mirror OU's bans in order to preserve a core power level and maintain accessibility, I believe there is a major, unavoidable problem with this, simply being that is not really 100% feasible considering that the metagames may have some overlap, but still have a share of factors (in this case, being CAP Pokemon) that create for a uniquely shaped metagame landscape. This heavily changes the circumstances by which Pokemon excel, and to what extent. This is to the point where they are undeniably distinct metagames with differing circumstances and teambuilding patterns through the options available, and what is necessary to prepare for. The metagames may share bans and have roughly similar viability among canon Pokemon, but that does not change the fact that CAP Pokemon radically alter the state of the metagame.

Whether or not a Pokemon that is banned in OU is less impactful in CAP doesn't really push the meter. CAP should, in all regards, attempt to retain a similar power level to OU and utilizing Ubers Pokemon detracts from that goal.
This is also relevant to power level. We can aim to maintain a power level with OU as a basis but the power levels are always going to be different due to the wider pool of options and certain CAPs fulfilling niches either more effectively or more uniquely than those available in SS OU. Take Equilibra, Venomicon, and Saharaja for example. As such, I'd like to argue that forcing ourselves to unequivocally adhere to OU's banlist does not always help in maintaining a power level.

Through the way that things work now, as shnowshner states, there may be Pokemon that are suspected in OU that could potentially be banned that may have traits that more healthily accented in CAP. Melmetal is the obvious example; removing it from SS CAP makes little sense from a metagame perspective, aside from adhering to OU's banlist which is a clean and automatic solution to our tiering pipeline, but maybe not the best one. This is why I'm in support of shnowshner's proposal. It is a fairly clean and low-consequence solution that gives the CAP council the ability to determine if the turnout of an OU suspect is justified in the context of CAP's unique metagame landscape. Regardless of whether we feel this proposal is rooted in us just not liking a given suspect (Melmetal in this case), the merits of this proposal aren't really about that imo.

To compound this, it's my stance that this can work to a greater extent. We have a council for a reason, and I think letting them exercise autonomy to improve the metagame based on its independent conditions in the form of potential Ubers unbans is fine and nowhere near as slippery a slope as it may look. If they wind up being more constraining and problematic in a vacuum, then they'll be kept banned; even if Pokemon like Urshifu-S, Dracovish, or Spectrier are hypothetically held back by the unique metagame conditions to a point of being more checkable, there's still the question of if these Pokemon actually add anything and teambuilder strain that can be factored into the discussion very easily. In fact, this is often the crux of which suspects are considered in the first place: improvement of a metagame and teambuilding autonomy. This is done with usage tiers all the time and it would be no different here.

The main takeaway from this is that the power levels and circumstances of the CAP and OU metagames are not ever going to be 1:1, and because of that we shouldn't prioritize full adherence to power level over metagame health and granting ourselves the autonomy to improve it if we can. It's okay and generally conducive to use OU's tiering as a framework, but we shouldn't feel like we need to stick by it 100%.

Aqua Jet

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I would like to advocate for shnowshner's proposal, and furthermore I would like to add upon it by suggesting that we obtain the autonomy to run our own suspect tests for Ubers Pokemon.
I can't say I've been an active player / voter / CAPper (?) for a long time, but I've been spectating CAP for a bit, and I agree with this. To use an analogy an old friend once told me, Pokémon in tiers are like ice cubes. If you remove or add one to a bucket and swirl the bucket around, then all of them adjust places. Different ones float to the top and different ones are buried by the ones above them. In the case of Create-A-Pokemon, we're adding 34 (35 if we count Crucibelle-Mega as a different Pokémon from Crucibelle) fully evolved new ice cubes to the bucket. It makes sense that some things that would be unhealthy in OverUsed might now be balanced, just like it makes sense that some things that are healthy in OverUsed might be unhealthy here. It is impossible to pretend that OverUsed and Create-A-Pokemon are the same tier because there are different Pokémon in them.


I am the Scientist now
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I'll make a post here on both optics and our future.

I believe that allowing ubers to stay within CAP makes us look less OU-based, which affects the legitimacy of the CAP project. While banning mons that are uniquely broken in CAP is a necessity to maintain a playable meta, unbanning ubers because they are less overpowering in CAP does not serve the purpose of maintaining a playable meta. All it does is increase the number of usable mons in the CAP project by 1, raises the overall power-level, and makes us look less legitimate, by making our meta appear to be further away from the OU project, which, lets be honest, is where the majority of smogon's focus lies. A further point is that allowing ubers to stay in CAP reduces the accessibility of the CAP meta, by reducing the number of trends we can import from OU further than it is already reduced by the presence of CAPs, again, for no gain of our own.

This also affects future projects. Our goal generally is to create a CAP mon that will be relatively viable for a long period. If we create a CAP that is fully geared to countering a "barely uber" threat in OU (eg Zygarde, Spectrier, etc), and then OU suspects and bans that threat, and we keep it. We are ensuring that our niche counter stays relevant in CAP. This essentially says that we can artificially manufacture viability for new CAPs by making them fully counter "barely uber" threats, and then diverging from OU to keep the threats. If we refused to ban Zygarde in SM when OU did, Snaelstrom would very likely be ranked because it exists purely to counter Zygarde. This incentive is something that would definitely continue to infect our project, and creating CAPs as an immediate response to the current meta is already a problem that I don't want us to incentivize further.

I am against this proposal. Optics, and beyond that our perception as a "competitively focused" also matters.
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I think the council having the option to go against an OU Tiering decision within a given timeframe after that decision, is something that can only be beneficial.
That said I don’t think this tool should be used for the most part, unless the tiering decision affects an integral, balancing and vital part of the CAP metagame (which is overall very unlikely to happen, since most bans affect offensive Mons and centralizing factors usually are defensive).
Still this option could ensure, the metagame councils ability to react accordingly, in a case of a ban which negatively impacts the playability of the CAP meta.


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This proposal is quite bad. I've voiced issue about how CAP is too tied to OU in the past, so I understand the sentiment, but the OP's idea just is a poor execution of "CAP independence" so to speak.

Allowing arbitrary ignoring of OU tiering decisions makes very little sense, and as many others have already stated, it'd ruin CAP's integrity as a metagame that is based on OU. If Melmetal had been banned in OU, for example, and we just chose to ignore it but then still paid homage to every other suspect test OU did that may very well have been contingent on Melmetal LEAVING the format, that'd make no sense at all.

Clefable was the exception to CAP's relation to OU. I'd rather CAP sticks entirely to OU's decisions or is its own separate entity entirely based on whatever OU begins as for a generation/DLC. Trying to find an incredibly arbitrary middle-ground falls flat as an idea to me.


summer break !!!!!
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Hi OP here to get things moving along and maybe wrapped up soon.

The idea I had come up with was mostly a response to the Melmetal suspect; I wasn't worried about it getting banned because sentiment from the very beginning seemed to be DNB, but the thought of something which nobody complains about in CAP getting the axe because people don't like it in OU was off-putting. It goes into hypothetical situations where maybe OU tests and bans like Rillaboom, while we've got like four very strong Pokemon that make it's life hell and it not being allowed feels kinda silly. The good news is, this sort of situation is very hypothetical, and I doubt that we'll end up in a position where something OU bans wouldn't be something CAP is fine with getting the boot anyhow. Regardless, I felt having some sort of system in place that could respond to this situation while not getting in the way of standard operations couldn't hurt.

Rabia makes a good point, however, that it's just easier for us to pick between following OU or not rather than try to compromise on both fronts. It looks like sides are split between "keep CAP as OU based as possible" and "let CAP be it's own self-governing metagame." Neither of these are bad options – although many metagames adopt an independent banlist, CAP has been doing just fine by following in the footsteps of OU. quziel summed up nicely why staying in-line with OU is very good for us: it increases transferability of teams/strategies, discourages fixating on a Pokemon that could very well not exist at a later point, and isn't going to make CAP any less playable. At the same time, we're already quite far removed from OU and its power level with how many defining CAPs there are around, so strictly following the actions of a metagame that operates independently of our own needs is questionable.

Something I have seen brought up is how our current system is more inviting for players. I think there's room to debate on whether keeping CAP in close proximity to OU's banlist is actually getting people to check CAP out, but such an argument needs more information to really hold merit for either side, and would likely require large-scale surveying to see why people decide to play in the first place. You could be pessimistic and say that, "CAP adhering to OU's banlist isn't going to attract OU players because they'd rather stick to familiar territory," but there isn't any real information I know of to support or deny such a statement.

What I'm saying is that we can spend all day going about which method is best for the future of CAP, but as far as maintaining an active community is concerned it'll be mostly based around individual preference and theory than anything empirical. We've got a system in place which is perfectly acceptable, so while looking for ways to improve CAP as a whole is always preferrable, in this case I don't feel there's any reason to rush. CAP would definitely work as an independent metagame, but we're fundamentally different from the likes of OU-based OMs and PMs because the things we do are slow, methodical and heavily tied to non-metagame parameters. A Pet Mod which creates new Pokemon can pretty much edit them on the fly as they see fit. CAP's are designed with such relatively high intricacy, however, that making huge changes is difficult: you will inevitably run into questions on concept loyalty, original intent, optics, and flavor even if we like to say flavor shouldn't be a deciding factor. Basing ourselves on OU and its banlist provides benefits to us that simply don't exist for other "non-standard" metagames and better aligns with the project's goal.

With that, the status of allowing unbans lies solely in how we want to operate the metagame as a whole, which I feel is a question that doesn't need answered anytime soon.

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