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Old 06-08-2012, 10:12 AM   #34
Nebby. Back into the bag.
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The guiding principle behind Pokemon bans in competitive play is that the Pokémon polarizes the metagame. Whether you like this principle or dislike it is the core debate upon which Pokemon ban debates is founded, but if you're going to say "I am all in favor of bans so long as they're appropriate," then you have to start here. The core tenet behind the bans instituted by communities like Smogon and Pokemon-Online is that the banned Pokemon, before it was banned, was resulting in too distasteful of a narrowing of options available to players.

To help you to understand this, let's look at a hypothetical example. Suppose (just suppose) there is a creature called Blaziken who is the creature being considered for a ban and suppose there is another creature called Azumarill who is the only capable counter to Blaziken. Suppose that this Blaziken fellow is so powerful, so easy to setup, so difficult to get around -- nay, impossible to get around unless you run Azumarill! -- that everyone wants to include him on their teams. Because most people want to win. Because most people hate losing. So they all rush to include the Pokemon that is said to guarantee them victory. And what you now get are a bunch of battles where the winner is the person who is able to get his Blaziken out first and successfully set up at least one Swords Dance and get at least one speed boost. So suppose what this means is that Blaziken is an appropriate answer to ...
  • Gengar
  • Starmie
  • Garchomp
  • Salamence
  • Gyarados
  • Conkeldurr
  • Ferrothorn
  • Jellicent
  • Gliscor
  • Excadrill
  • Hippowdon
  • Cradily
  • Infernape
  • Swampert
  • Animechu
and many more. Suppose he is a proper "counter" (in the sense that he can switch in and win) against all of these and more. And suppose, just suppose, that the only adequate answer to Blaziken is Azumarill. What then happens?

I'll tell you what happens: everyone and his mother now rushes out to draft Azumarill onto their teams as well. And they then rush out to draft the best Azumarill killer. (Say it's Galvantula.) Things can get pretty diverse past this point but for at least three of the first six team slots, we have locked-in identities: Blaziken for the win, Azumarill for the thwarting the other guy's win, and Galvantula for the thwarting the other guy's thwarting our win. Three of the six slots in all teams are now identical. Same moves (thanks to the Internet era), same EVs and IVs (likewise), same everything. It all boils down now to paper rock scissors: who switches when he should and who switches when he shouldn't, who leads with who, etc. "Do I lead with Blaziken? What if he leads with Blaziken too? Then it's 50/50. What if he leads with Azumarill? Then I'm screwed. What if he leads with Galvantula? Then I win. Oh, what do I do? " It's pure paper-rock-scissors at that point. Pokemon has always been paper-rock-scissors, but now you've really reduced it to just that. And few consider that fun to play.

It is at this point that a community like Smogon or Pokemon-Online would say, "Hey y'all: we're gonna ban Blaziken now." The intention behind the ban being that if they remove Blaziken, they remove the incentive for everyone to run Azumarill and Galvantula, and now people are free to roll with "their favorites" again. Sure, you've forked over people for whom Blaziken was their favorite, but that's one out of every 200 or so Pokemon fans. In exchange, you've made the game fun again for 100 out of every 200 Pokemon fans. (The other 99 notice no change to their fun level. ) This is the logic behind bans. Whether you agree it or not is itself a core debate regarding Pokemon bans, but the fact is that if you roll with the idea that there are at least some bans which are worth implementing, this is the most basic of those worthy bans.

I am not saying in this post that Blaziken does or does not deserve to be banned. I am not saying that Azumarill is or is not an adequate Blaziken counter. I am not saying that Azumarill is the only Blaziken counter. What I am saying, what I did say, is that if you roll with those assumptions (that Blaziken is OP, that Azumarill's a capable counter, and that Azumarill's one of the very few who can), you can easily reach the conclusion that Blaziken deserves to be banned. In other words, the existence of a perfect antidote to a threatening Pokemon does not, I repeat, does NOT make that threatening Pokemon not broken!

Last edited by Talon87; 06-08-2012 at 10:14 AM.
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