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Tiering Etiquette Guide

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Tiering Etiquette:



What is this?


This is a guide on tiering policy and it will serve to provide rules for which the community and the tier council can abide by. it will cover the policies we have regarding tiering and how tiering decisions are made.



What is tiering?

Tiering is the system used for the regulation of the competitive aspects of PokeMMO and all aspects relating to them, including moves, items, abilities, and more.



What is the purpose/goal of tiering?

The goal of tiering is to create the most competitive battling environment possible. As pokemon is a game which is inherently full of aspects that are not conducive to the goal of creating a competitive game; such as heavily RNG based features, certain pokemon, abilities, or moves which have little to no real ways of being answered, and other similarly problematic qualities, tiering is necessary in order to prevent the game from being too heavily reliant on factors which are not related to the skills of either player.



If the purpose of tiering is to remove elements which make the game less competitive, how do you determine what these elements are?

There are 3 main categories which can result in a pokemon or other aspect being banned from a tier. These typically apply to Pokemon, but in special cases, can apply to moves or even abilities as well. These main categories are as follows: Uber, Uncompetitive, and Unhealthy.



The First Category: The Characteristics of an Uber


These characteristics define what makes a certain pokemon too powerful for a tier, or "overpowered". A pokemon which is overpowered naturally meets one of these characteristics, if not more. The amount of characteristics met is not relevant to whether or not it is moved up, if it meets any of them, it is considered uber-worthy and may be banned from that tier.



Offensive Characteristic:



A Pokémon is uber if, in common battle conditions, it is capable of sweeping through a significant portion of teams in the metagame with little effort.


An example of an Offensive Uber: Tyranitar.

It was banned for being too potent of a sweeper. It could sweep through the majority of the metagame with little to no trouble, with only a select handful of pokemon being capable of stopping it. As a result, all it needed was some spikes support, or simply the natural widdling down of the opponent's pokemon in order to be able to fully sweep. It's ability, Sand Stream, meant that even Leftovers wouldn't help pokemon survive against it. Claydol, Skarmory, and Vaporeon were the best switch in options against a Tyranitar, and all of them could still be beaten. (Skarmory is beaten by Taunt if it tries to go for Whirlwind; Even if tries to kill with Steel Wing, it loses a majority of the time due to Rock Slide flinches. Claydol is beaten by Crunch, and Vaporeon is beaten if it has been whittled down, even if not, Tyranitar is able to Rock Slide out a victory). This was the original reason Tyranitar was banned, it was tested and once again banned once the physical/special split was implemented within PokeMMO, as it was still considered too powerful. Despite new additions which could help answer it such as Swampert, Tyranitar itself gained a powerful new tool in physical Crunch, giving it incredible coverage.


Even pokemon which outspeed a boosted Tyranitar are not able to take it down in one shot, and risk taking massive damage if they come in on any attack other than Dragon Dance. Ultimately, the most reliable answer to Tyranitar were offensive fighting types such as Breloom and Machamp, but their susceptibility to being whittled down very easily, lack of good recovery or bulk meant that getting them out of the way still require minimal work.


Because of these traits, Tyranitar was capable of sweeping with minimal effort. All it needed to potentially sweep was some weakened pokemon on the opponents side, which is facilitated by both sandstorm and the natural course of battle and a Dragon Dance, which it's excellent bulk provided. It's raw power, excellent options, bulk and ease of setup meant it required minimal effort to arrange a sweep. This meant it met the Offensive Characteristic.

Defensive Characteristic:


A Pokémon is uber if, in common battle conditions, it is able to wall and stall out a significant portion of the metagame.


An example of a Defensive Uber: Lugia in 3rd generation.

It's stat spread of 106/130/154 defenses meant that it was easily one of the bulkiest pokemon available. In addition to this, it had defensive options such as Recover/Rest, Calm Mind, and Reflect, as well as base 110 speed, meaning it naturally outsped a majority of pokemon before they could stop it from healing or setting up.


Lugia was a pokemon which could naturally outstall every relevant attacker through sheer base stats, the addition of defense boosting moves such as Reflect and Calm Mind meant that even set up pokemon wouldn't be able to break it. Toxic wouldn't be able to stop it either if it ran Rest, and attackers couldn't hope to beat any set with Recover as outdamaging the healing was a pointless endeavor. Naturally, decent offensive stats and high speed meant that Taunt wasn't a viable option either. 


Because of how unbreakable Lugia was, it was capable of stalling out any pokemon it was matched up against. As a result, it met the Defensive Characteristic and was banished to Ubers.

Support Characteristic:



A Pokémon is uber if, in common battle conditions, it can consistently set up a situation in which it makes it substantially easier for other pokemon to sweep.


 An example of a Support-Uber: Wobbuffet.

This is a tricky example, because while it is true it meets the Support Characteristic, it also falls under the category of being "Uncompetitive", another category for which pokemon can be banned that will be covered later. With that being said, the Support Characteristic and uncompetitive traits are not mutually exclusive, it just so happens that Wobbuffet is capable of using its uncompetitive abilities in order to be excellent supporters.


Wobbuffet is an excellent supporter in two ways, it could pick off pokemon which prevented a sweep by trapping them with its ability, Shadow Tag, and then using Counter, Mirror Coat, or sometimes even Destiny Bond in order to KO them. This allowed the user to tear a hole in the opponent's team, giving their win condition a much easier time in assuring victory. Alternatively, Wobbuffet could use Encore to trap the opposing pokemon into one move. This also allowed sweepers a much easier time in sweeping, as trapping the opponent in a non-attacking or otherwise useless move would guarantee one of your pokemon a free turn to setup, which makes it much easier to sweep.



The Second Category: Uncompetitive Pokemon, Moves, Abilities, etc.


Something which is "Uncompetitive" is defined as this: (Credit to schmawgawn for the wording, concept, etc):

"Uncompetitive game aspects (or strategies) are those that take away autonomy (control of the game's events), take it out of the hands of player's decisions-- and do so to a degree that can be considered uncompetitive."


This can be luck-based, but doesn't have to be (see: 4th gen Wobb, who was effective enough then to remove the ability to "do anything about it" largely from the enemy player, and was banned for uncompetitive-ness); but most uncompetitive strategies that are banned usually have a high appeal to luck.

While there is always luck involved in Pokemon, the problem is the degree to which control is taken away from the player. Removal of autonomy is the key to an uncompetitive tiering decision or clause.

Note: the word "degree" as there are many game aspects that remove autonomy, but the problem is degree of removal (Moody / Double Team remove more autonomy than Quick Claw or fast U-Turn/Volt Switch).

Whether the "degree" of autonomy removal is uncompetitive is debatable and subjective (based off of player experience).


Note: Individual Pokemon can be banned for a combination of "overpowered" and "uncompetitive" characteristics-- see 4th Gen Deoxys-S and 4th Gen Shaymin-S ban[/spoiler]


In other words, something that takes away options from the player, creating a lack of options which are unfavorable for a competitive game. This could fall from anywhere from RNG based aspects to aspects which simply remove or invalidate certain key elements of gameplay. With that being said, not everything which is uncompetitive is banworthy. Ultimately, there are too many aspects which do, in some capacity, remove options from the player, and attempting to remove all of them would simply cause the game to cease being Pokemon, in addition to some aspects which simply cannot be controlled; such as Freeze.


An example of an RNG based aspect: Evasion Clause.



Evasion Clause bans the usage of moves which exclusively increase the evasion of your pokemon, such as Minimize and Double Team. This is uncompetitive in that the opponent has no control over these moves, they are left to do nothing but hope that the luck sways to their favor. This significantly detracts from skill, as there are little to no viable methods of playing around it. All moves that don't miss have very low base power, (typically 60), and a majority either have poor distribution or are simply outclassed by other moves. Phazing moves such as Roar and Whirlwind can miss evasion boosted pokemon, meaning that those are not viable strategies to counter evasion either. The only foolproof answer is using Haze, a move which is generally disfavored over Roar/Whirlwind and has even worse distribution than both of the other moves, with few pokemon who learn it being able to give up a slot for it. Not only that, but even if you carry it, there is no guarantee you'll be able to use it, as a Haze Vaporeon obviously can't do anything about a Double Team Jolteon. This removal of options is what makes Double Team uncompetitive, as you cannot realistically play around it.


So, why are Evasion moves banned but not accuracy lowering moves like Sand Attack or Muddy Water, and why is Confusion not banned? The reason is that it is possible to realistically play around these. If your accuracy is lowered or you are confused, you can switch out to remove this effect, allowing an easy and readily available method of stopping these RNG based elements from affecting you.


An example of an aspect which invalidates certain elements of play: Trapping abilities.



Trapping abilities such as Shadow Tag or Arena Trap take away the opponent's capability to switch, removing one of the most important mechanics in competitive pokemon. They are abilities which are inherently heavily uncompetitive, and the most potent user of Shadow Tag, Wobbuffet, is banned, similarly to the most potent user of Arena Trap, Dugtrio. However, Wynaut, Trapinch, and Diglett, pokemon with Shadow Tag or Arena Trap, are still allowed in the game despite having these abilities. The reason for this is that they are not capable of abusing their ability quite as effectively as to being banworthy, meaning that despite being uncompetitive, they are not necessarily relevant enough to be banworthy.


So, why aren't the moves Mean Look/Block banned even though they trap as well? The reason for this is that they are not instantaneous trapping like Shadow Tag and Arena Trap, the opponent still has a turn before they become incapable of switching. Due to this one turn "Grace Period", in addition to the fact they take up an entire moveslot and require 1 turn to actually use, the opponent is still very capable of playing around these moves. This means that their ability to remove an aspect of gameplay is crippled, and by extension makes them much, much more difficult to abuse.




The Third Category: Unhealthy Aspects of Gameplay


The third category is the one which is to be used the most sparingly, the one which is most subjective, and the reasoning for banning which 100% of the time results in the most controversial bans. This relates to pokemon or other aspects of gameplay which are unhealthy for the metagame, currently defined as "Things that restrict the metagame in ways which are unfavorable for an evolving competitive metagame". In other words, a pokemon which is unhealthy is something which heavily stagnates or centralizes the metagame in a way that is problematic for a healthy metagame. Note that it has to be in a way that is problematic for a healthy metagame. This is important to note, as being centralizing is not necessarily an indicator of a pokemon being unhealthy for the metagame.


An unhealthy pokemon is one which makes the metagame worse with its presence, by stagnating the metagame in a large, negative way. Most pokemon which are overpowered or uncompetitive are typically also unhealthy, but they are not entirely mutually exclusive. In general, the only time that the unhealthiness of a pokemon is evaluated is when a pokemon seems to be problematic, but simply does not fit in either of the other two categories for Ubers.



Banning Types: Flat Bans and Complex Bans


There are two types of bans, Flat Bans and Complex Bans. Flat bans are used for general situations, when a pokemon, move, ability, etc. meet some sort of banning criteria, at which point, they are banned in their entirety. However, in complex situations where a flat ban would be either ineffective or heavily unfavorable for some reason, complex bans can be used. Typically, these are used for a situation where one specific issue cannot be sorted out, such as with the Shell Smash + Baton Pass ban which took place in Generation 5 within lower tiers. In this case, there were multiple pokemon which could abuse this combination, meaning a flat ban on all of these pokemon was excessive. Likewise, Shell Smash itself wasn't a problem, as there were many legitimate users of it, and the same applied to Baton Pass. As this was a complex situation in which no Flat Ban method was ideal, a Complex Ban was used to ban the combination of Shell Smash + Baton Pass.



How do usage statistics factor into tiering?

Usage statistics are used to form the basis of lower tiers. The purpose of lower tiers such as UU and NU is that they provide an environment for pokemon which can't succeed in the standard tier, OU, a place to be used. However, how do you define a pokemon that can't succeed in OU? There's not really an objective way to determine viability, so we don't use that. Instead, we rely on usage; If a pokemon's usage is above the 4.36% cutoff point in a higher tier, they are considered to be in that tier. For example, if a Pokemon has 5% usage in OU, they would be considered an OU pokemon. Likewise, if a pokemon has 5% usage in UU, they are considered a UU pokemon, and are not allowed in NU. Likewise, a pokemon under the cutoff point, such as a pokemon with 3% usage in OU, would be considered UU. If that same pokemon is also below the cutoff percent in UU as well, then it would be considered NU. However, this system obviously isn't perfect; Just because a pokemon can't succeed in a higher tier doesn't mean they're balanced in the lower one. For this reason the tiers Borderline and Borderline2, or BL/BL2 exist. These tiers effectively serve as banlists for lower tiers, being tiers for the pokemon with too low usage for the higher tier but too powerful for the lower one.


Usage for these changes are taken in 3 month intervals, with each month having different weighting in the final aggregate usage list. The 1st month has a weight of 1, 2nd has a weight of 3, and 3rd has a weight of 20. On the final month, pokemon are moved based on the previously stated 4.36% usage cutoff, however, during the 1st and 2nd months, it is still possible for pokemon to move up and down tiers if they meet "Quick Rise/Drop" % cutoff points. A quick rise occurs if a pokemon's usage in a tier exceeds 6.7%, while a quick drop occurs if their usage drops below 1.7%. Quick Rises/Drops occur at the end of the month, when monthly usage is collected.

What if a Pokemon's usage drops below or increases past the cutoff?

Every month, the cumulative usage within a certain tier is reviewed. If any pokemon have dropped below or moved above the cutoff, their tier is changed to reflect their new usage status.



Are there any limits to bans?

After any ban in a specific tier, that tier must wait at least 1 month before they can ban another pokemon. Likewise, before a pokemon can be banned, a discussion thread for that pokemon must have been open for at least one week. It is important to note that a discussion thread does not necessarily mean that pokemon must be suspect tested, which would be a temporary ban; simply a thread discussing the pokemon and informing people that the council are looking at the pokemon.



Is there any way around the wait times?

If the tier council feels that a ban is urgent or that further discussion/time is simply not needed, they can "Quick Ban" a pokemon or an aspect of the metagame, bypassing any wait times described above. Of note, Quick Bans are the exception, not the rule; they are to be used sparingly and only in extreme cases.



How are [Discussion] threads made?


Each tier has their own discussion request thread in Competition Alley. Through there, players may request the tier council to open up a discussion thread on something they feel is banworthy. The tier council will then discuss the pokemon, and decide whether or not to open up a public discussion thread.



How do flat bans on moves such as Baton Pass work?


If a move is banned from a tier, that ban affects all lower tiers as well. For example, if Baton Pass was banned from OU, it would be banned from UU and NU as well. However, if a Baton Pass ban was passed in NU, a ban for Baton Pass does not necessarily have to be present in higher tiers. (Currently, Baton Pass is banned from all tiers, it's just a really good example.)



What is a suspect ban?


A suspect ban is initiated if there is question whether a pokemon or an aspect of the competitive game meets banning criteria. A suspect ban will be held for at least one month or one tiering period (time between usage updates). During this time no changes can be made to the tier, aside from a Quick Ban. If a Quick Ban is made during a suspect test, the suspect test will be restarted in order to assess the suspected threat with the new tiering changes. 


A suspect ban can be extended by the tier council for another month, or tiering period, should they still feel that there isn't conclusive evidence that the suspected pokemon or aspect of the competitive game meets banning criteria. 


Anything else?


Yes, I'd like to give credit to Smogon University for a majority, if not all of the concepts, principles, and ideas for which this tiering system and this portion of the guide are based on.


This guide was written by Senile and updated by DoubleJ.

Edited by Senile
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What is "Theorymon"?:

Theorymon is essentially hypothetical situations in pokemon thought out. Pokemon sets/spreads, damage calculations, x vs y situations and even teambuilding are all essentially theorymon, as they're thought out, not actually done during battles. Teambuilding won't be delved into, however, as it's a whole other ball game compared to everything else.

Damage Calculations; Use Them:

Something some people seem to forget (cough) is damage calculations. This is fundamentally important to any theorymonning. You cannot simply say that x beats y because it seems like it should; Getting exact numbers is necessary, otherwise, your theorymonning is pointless. This cannot be emphasized enough; If you do not run damage calculations to determine things, you will get not get anywhere.

The ideal damage calculator is the Smogon one. Use the 4th gen damage calculator, because that accounts for the physical/special split and has, as far as I'm aware, the current PokeMMO damage formula. An important thing to note is that some PokeMMO moves have different base powers than those in the 4th gen calc, and some of the listed 4th generation moves don't actually exist in PokeMMO, so keep that in mind.

Distinction Between "Counter" and "Check":

A counter and a check are two very distinct terms that arguably don't have a clear definition. For the purpose of this guide, they are as follows:

Counter: A pokemon that can switch into any move from an opposing pokemon under normal conditions with little to no risk to itself, and can reliably beat the pokemon it is countering. Counters can typically switch into the same pokemon multiple times, assuming they remain healthy. 

An example would be a Blissey against a Starmie; It can switch in on any of Starmie's attacks, take it out with whatever attacking move it has while healing off any potential damage with Softboiled, and absorb any Toxics/Thunder Waves (If a Starmie would ever run them anyway) by switching out thanks to natural cure. Assuming the Blissey remains healthy, it can switch into Starmie indefinitely.

Check: A pokemon that can switch into another pokemon under normal conditions, but isn't safe from all of the moves/options the opposing pokemon has, however, can still beat the pokemon before it itself is beaten. Cannot typically switch into the same pokemon many times, as it's worn down by the attacks of the pokemon or threatened by certain moves it carries.

An example would be an Alakazam against a Starmie. Alakazam can switch in on a resisted Psychic or non-STAB Ice Beams/Thunderbolts and Calm Mind up, or go directly for a 2HKO with Thunderpunch. As it outspeeds, it can beat Starmie before Starmie can do enough damage to KO with a Ice Beam/Thunderbolt/Psychic + Surf Combo. However, if Starmie uses Surf as Alakazam switches in, it 2HKO's Zam and can survive the Thunderpunch. Therefore, Alakazam can "Check" Starmie, but he's no where near as reliable as a counter such as Blissey, as Zam can only switch in once and risks being hit by Surf.

Obviously, these examples only cover one kind of "Check/Counter". As the terms themselves are so broad, checks/counters each have different levels of viability. For example, Alakazam is actually not a very good Starmie check, due to it's limitations, however, a check does not have to be as limited as the Alakazam in the example is, and can be much better. Similarly, a counter doesn't have to be as good at countering a pokemon as Blissey is at countering Starmie, as Blissey is just an extreme example of a counter.

Note: "Normal Conditions" typically assumes both pokemon are at full HP, unstatused, and there are no entry hazards. (No, it's not realistic to have 3 layers of spikes all the time, I don't care who you are)

Realistic Situations; Nonsense Doesn't Make Sense In Theory or Practice:

Self explanatory; Do not assume unrealistic situations. This might seem obvious, but it's something people seem to forget quite often; An example of this would be assigning a speedy sweeper (IE, Alakazam) defensive EV's in a hypothetical situation, in order to beat x pokemon. While it might be true, it is unrealistic to propose such a situation, for two reasons; One, nobody runs defensive IV's on Alakazam, two, it would only be useful in that particular situation.

Context Sensitivity; Metagames Exist:

"Context Sensitivity" applies to smaller details that might not be entirely obvious. For example, a Salac Berry Absol would like to run +Attack nature in UU, as it still outspeeds all UU pokemon at 1+ even with +Attack, but in OU, it would rather run a +Speed nature. Things like this are things one must keep in mind; Different metagames warrant different natures, movesets and EV spreads.

Aside from this, another thing to keep in mind is how common counters to x pokemon are when proposing some sort of discussion of something being moved up or down. You must always keep in mind if the effective counters/checks to a pokemon are common/useful within the metagame aside from the pokemon being discussed. If the pokemon would only ever be used to counter the other pokemon, and serves little to no other purpose, this should be considered. Viability of potential counters outside of being merely a counter is incredibly important to consider, especially if the pokemon are running an EV spread specifically to counter the aforementioned pokemon.

Why Use A Pokemon?:

Something a lot of people seem to forget when making "Creative" sets/strategies is something very important; What does the pokemon you're making have over another pokemon of a similar person? Sure, you could make, for example, a specially defensive Cloyster. You could. But, what does this Cloyster have that physically defensive Cloysters don't? What extra utility does it have, and what does the spread make it lose? What does it have against other spikes setters that could run specially defensive sets?

Making up unique sets is great; It adds an element of surprise and it's how top threats in metagames are created, after all, someone had to make it to begin with. But you do have to ask questions like the ones in the example, such as what it does better. If the pokemon is just an inferior version of something else, then your creative set serves no purpose but for a limited "Surprise" effect that lasts for 1 round in a tournament. It'd be like running a Butterfree instead of a Breloom for a sleep inducer in OU. Sure, it'd be unique, but they both have the same speed, around the same bulk, and Butterfree only has 97.5% accurate sleep AND a worse defensive typing. Not only this, but Breloom can actually attack due to it's base 130 attack.

In short, when making a set, make sure it has advantages over other sets, and isn't just a worse version of something else.

How Do I Become "Good" At Theorymon?:

Practicing typically helps, but playing the metagame you're theorymonning is typically the best way to get "Better". If you're not able to see the top threats and the way they're used, then theorymonning a counter or check to them is no where near as reliable, as you're simply guessing the sets people are running.

Is There Anything Else?:

Plenty, in fact. But this is simply a basic, barebones guide to theorymon. This essentially exists as a way to understand the basics of theorymon, as you aren't going to get good at anything by just reading a guide. However, if you have any questions or things you don't understand, please ask them,  I'll try to clarify them.

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