Alright, I'm feeling good enough about myself today and brazen enough to venture to state my opinion here. Surely I will find soon enough the litany of reasons why I am an idiot and misguided for even stopping to consider what I'm about to propose.
Since Smogon existed we've always had people asking why doesn't BL become its own tier. And every time, those suggestions get turned down on good merit because that's a) not how Smogon works and b) not how you balance a metagame. The argument "The overpowered stuff will all check themselves" is hardly true, as "overpowered" comes in far too many shades to apply to developing a healthy metagame. And yet, here I am proposing something along those lines myself. I'm not the first person nor the last to propose this idea, but I do believe that this specific situation is unique enough to warrant a closer consideration.
I propose the following two courses of action. And yes, both must be enacted together for reasons I will explain.
1) Unban Pokemon from UUBL, and 2) Let the metagame play out before issuing bans.
I know, I know. I'm stupid, misguided, not a good player, etc. However, I see everyone jumping to conclusions, complaining about these new threats "ruining UU." I'm very concerned that this sort of alarmist rhetoric, might end up unnecessarily narrowing our metagames. In a vaccuum, these statements are justifiable; predicated on nuanced experiential insight. It's quite true that any one of these threats like Conkeldurr or Kyurem alone would probably disrupt UU to the point of getting banned. However, we cannot ban Pokemon based on how they match up on paper with metagame of June. Nor should we disallow ourselves the rare chance to see a potential complete metagame overhaul.
Note: in this post I reference UU primarily, but the broader sentiments about unbanning BL mons extends to other tiers as well, primarily tiers like PU that are seeing a huge flood of new Pokemon.
As I was looking at it more and more, I realized that Gen 8 UU is suddenly starting to look a lot like Gen5 OU. Just to name a few, here are some of the Pokemon the two tiers have in common:
Add in the UUBL Pokemon and we have even more gen5 OUs joining the fray and the tier begins to look even more similar.
The general assumption has to be that if all these Pokemon could co-exist in the same tier a few generations ago, it stands to reason that they can more or less do it again this time around too. Now before you say it, yes I am aware mechanics and movepool changes across the generation make this comparison not perfectly applicable. Yes, permaweather is gone and Durant now gets First Impression. Gyarados has Power Whip and Heavy-Duty Boots are everywhere. That's a valid argument, but the core idea behind unbanning BLs is that this is an entirely new UU we cannot predict.
Mamoswine might not be overpowered anymore with Conkeldurr, Skarmory, and Terrakion running around. On the flipside, a mon like Skarmory might not be too oppressive if Venusaur is allowed to spam weather balls under sun. Tyranitar now has to deal with Iron Defense Body Press Skarmory, Choice Scarf Jirachi, and Conkeldurr. Perhaps Tyranitar is actually be perfectly fine in this new UU metagame.
As you see, with such radical changes like the ones we got this month, the argument "They'll all check themselves" suddenly becomes a lot more attainable.
I could spend four hours coming up with conceivable reasons for why a certain Pokemon in this new UU is checked and countered by all the new threats and you could spend another four telling me why I'm wrong. But the core issue here is that nobody knows for sure.
We can meme about Terrakion shredding UU and clamor for quickbans of the 7 or 8 or 17 most troubling Pokemon; or we can open the floodgates, make "Gen 5 OU 2: Electric Boogaloo", and see from there what's truly deserving of a ban.
Both proposals must be enacted together
We must unban the UUBLs, and we cannot jump the gun on quickbanning or suspect testing the seemngly overpowered drops. Mass unbanning of the UUBLs while banning all of the new drops is simply ridiculous-- basically just undermining every suspect test thus far and setting us back to square 1. Whereas banning a Pokemon like Kyurem without unbanning Durant is giving us incomplete data on the metagame. In the past when a Pokemon would drop, it was always a reasonable assumption that one or two relevant threats would not warrant cross-checking against the totality of the BL tier above it. But as I will discuss a bit further down, this situation is unique enough to warrant such cross-checking. In brief: there has never been a case where returning Pokemon, Pokemon we already have a general understanding of how they are going to play, get introduced into the game and massively flood through the tiers with this specific tiering procedure.
Put it another way, what's the absolute worst that can happen if we quickban everything? We end up with a large UUBL tier with insufficient justifications for every ban. We cannot say for sure whether Weavile and Tyranitar were together enough to prevent Aegislash from running the format. Furthermore, in this worst-case scenario, the process of mass unbanning would likely never happen. No single Pokemon would ever get unbanned because it on its own would be too strong, yet it would languish in a UUBL Limbo of three to five would-be counters. By playing it conservatively and doling out bans, we never know if the metagame could have been healthy.
What's the absolute worst that can happen if we unban our UUBLs? The metagame sucks for a bit and we end up rebanning them all again, plus some troublesome drops too for good measure. This takes time and adds a number of lengthy suspect voting procedures, disrupting tournaments. However, even if this happens, this is not a waste of time.
In this scenario, where everything that dropped gets banned and UU ends up looking the same as it did in June, we come out with the knowledge and justification for our bans. We are able to expressly articulate what was so broken about each Pokemon and why they were hostile to a metagame.
I fear that I might be overlooked because I'm suggesting something that the broader Smogon community is significantly less familiar with than bans and quickbans. Unbans are an important part of the tiering process too, yet either because of the way Smogon tiering works or the nature of ban-susceptible mons themselves it seems we hardly ever see them. Indeed, most attention on platforms like /r/stunfisk, Smogon Forums, and even prolific Youtubers like aim and blunder tends to be drawn towards pro-ban suspect tests. On /r/Stunfisk for example, 9 of the 25 top posts of the last month are ban or tiering related. Unbans are seen by the comminity as large as rare, and by proxy, less valid.
I would wager that people tend to hold a bias towards banning. After all, a Pokemon wouldn't get a suspect proposed if it wasn't guilty of being overpowered, right? We see this in the real world too-- many people fail to understand that just because someone is arrested does not intrinsically mean they are guilty. Unbans are valid and necessary. Just because they don't get the attention that bans do does not mean we should not utilize them as tools in creating balanced tiers.
I do not believe there is room for a halfway implementation of my proposals. Both parts need to be present in order for our metagames to be healthy and justified. Banning a mon like Aegislash without unbanning the UUBLs isn't good enough, as this is banning without full information. You never tried Aegi vs Weavile, which for all we know might have been the tipping point between a ban and a no ban.
So the question becomes,
This is a novel situation we are encountering. We have never before seen a DLC model where returning Pokemon are reintroduced to the game, or in such high volume. We see this in Smogon's new tiering policy regarding this month. We did not wait for mons like Wigglytuff to be thoroughly tested in each and every metagame before banishing it to PU. This proves that my suggestions are not like the often-fielded suggestions to "make BL it's own tier." In all previous instances where a massive usage-based tier update happens, that update was made off of knowledge of Pokemon in already-established metagames. And if you harken back to the days when Pokebank flooded returning pokemon back into the game, Smogon did not utilize the tiering procedures they used now. Every Pokemon started in OU and slowly worked their way down.
Furthermore, this has never been seen before just in terms of sheer volume of pokemon. Throughout the generations we've had mid-generation waves where new mons get introduced, like Mythicals and UBs, but theyve never been released in such a large volume to have ripple effects drastically shifting every meta. On sheer quantity of new mons alone this kind of situation has never been seen before.
This is uncharted territory we are dealing with, and treating it like it isn't opens us up for fallacious tiering logic.
Arguments against my anti-ban mentality
I'm not going to go into too much detail here because my post is already longer than I intended. But I feel it would be disingenuous to not address possible counterarguments before they get made.
"We've never done it this way before."
Well, yeah. But that's not a reason to not do it now. Either we accept mediocrity and start banning stuff or we take a measured approach and re-assess the metagame as a whole, including stuff we already deemed too strong at the time.
"People spent time getting reqs to vote to ban Pokemon. We can't just overrule their votes."
Sure you can. They voted for a metagame that no longer exists anymore and thus, their votes are no longer reflective of the environment they were undertaken in. It is the responsibility of tier leaders to do what's best for their metagames. Suspect tests are important around here, but they only go so far. Now, I'm not stupid enough to seriously suggest UU is going to be perfect with every single UUBL unbanned and all these tier titans running around. There will be bans that come out of this process.
I'm not sure what way of handling rebans I'm most okay with. Ideally, it would be the job of the UU council to vote to reban any UUBL mons when the time is appropriate. However, I'm not sure exactly how long that should be. Nor am I necessarily comfortable with the idea of largescale bans being carried out by tier leaders, for fear of them voting to simply put the tier in a place of comfort where it felt about on par of the power level of June's UU. I don't have a great answer here and would love ideas.
"It's obvious these mons will be broken anyway. One or two new counters doesn't make them balanced."
This argument is purely an on-paper argument and fails to consider the ingenuity of players or the many variables of a dynamic metagame. Who could have possibly expected that scarf Greninja would become a thing late into SM OU? Or weird sets like Stored Power Grassy Seed Rapidash-G gaining popularity down in RU? There's just no way to tell how a metagame will turn out without opening the floodgates and seeing what people do.
"I don't want UU as a second OU. The power level of this tier would be too high."
A valid complaint. I often criticize OU for being stale and stally, which is why I basically refuse to play it. However, it is not in line with Smogon's tiering practices to only tailor metagames to what is fun. After all, OU is full of the much-complained about stall. TeleWish Clefable is a real snoozer but will remain in OU so long as it is deemed fair and competitive.
As for the overall power level of the tier, the whole point of having tiers in the first place is so that as many Pokemon as possible see usage. If we decided that the entire RU tier was boring, removed the tier and banned every pokemon to NUBL, there would be a massive chunk of Pokemon that were too weak for UU and too strong for NU. We want as many Pokemon to be as viable as possible, even if that means the metagame you've stayed in the showdown room of for 3 generations shifts away from your preferences.
There is a lot of talk about new threats ruining UU and PU. We just had an unprecedented level of new Pokemon return to the game and metagames are still in their infancy. I am concerned that we will be stuck in our pro-ban mindsets and fail to see how necessary both unbans, and the absence of quickbans, are. It's obvious to me that without bold strokes we are otherwise headed towards a stagnant set of metagames. Pokemon will stay in BL tiers unable to move up or down because half of their competitors also languish in the same BL tier as themselves. And I would much rather see care and consideration put into tiering as a whole so that every Pokemon is assessed fairly and given as much of a chance to exist in it's own tier as possible.
Oh, and regardless of if you agree with me or not, we'll have these exact same discussions 1 month after the release of the Crown Tundra. Why not establish precedent here and get it right the first time?