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All Gens Technical vs Practical Viability and Post-Modern RBY

Discussion in 'Analysis and Research' started by Ortheore, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Ortheore

    Ortheore Host Emeritus

    May 16, 2013
    Likes Received:
    The below paragraphs apply to all gens

    How do you distinguish between viable teams and non-viable teams? I think this is a good question because there are two ways to define viability imo. The first definition I'm going to throw out there is technical viability: a team is technically viable if it has a reasonable response to every permitted threat in a given tier. This is probably the cookie cutter definition of viability, but it's easy to poke holes in it. For instance, there is no threat in RBY that you need sleep to handle, just like there aren't very many threats in later generations that you need SR to handle (I guess you could argue for Volcarona or Ho-oh here, depending on which gen/tier). A team without those things could be said to be viable, but if you asked any player they'd say "oh, but you need that, otherwise it's just not a good team".

    And so we arrive at my second definition- practical viability: a team is practically viable if it is meets an acceptable standard of optimisation. This second definition is a lot more vague, but in general it is a lot more restrictive than technical viability. This can eliminate pokemon from contending for a team slot that could theoretically be made to work, but in practice are just not good enough. It is also where stuff that's required for a good team gets implemented- stuff like sleep in RBY, SR in gen 4 onwards, etc.

    First I want to make it clear that for a team to be technically viable it has to handle literally every threat, not just the most commonly seen ones. For instance, I once made an RBY team that I believe would've been viable against all of the top threats, but had a brutal Moltres matchup (the team was Tauros/Jolteon/Jynx/StunSeed Egg/RefLax and I assume Star(L)), and because it wasn't technically viable I scrapped it, even though I've literally never seen Moltres in RBY 1U tournament play.

    Another thing to note is that technical viability, while still being fairly subjective, is a lot closer to being objective than practical viability is. It's also a lot closer to being binary, such that teams either are or are not viable, with only a small amount of wiggle room. Practical viability on the other hand is a quagmire of subjectivity. It hinges on what the player's idea of optimal play looks like and subsequently how much they value certain components of that style of play. With all that in mind, players then draw an arbitrary line in the sand, identifying what components of optimal play are absolutely mandatory and what ones they'd be willing to compromise on for the sake of variety and presenting opponents with a different matchup. This line can be very close to optimal play (if it's even known what that looks like), or very close to technical viability. It can even go past the point of technical viability, whether due to the player not realising or not caring (if you know your opponent is not going to bring, say, SmashPass, then why prepare for it?).

    Below paragraphs are comments on rby
    I've said in the past that rby is approaching a solved state, with a very clear idea of what optimal play consists of. My experience of rby over the past few months has only cemented that idea, as I really believe that all three Normals are simply too good to drop, not just Tauros. On top of this, in my own personal experience and based on other discussions that have gone on here, there's an enormous gulf of viability between A and B rank, to the point where B and below aren't just not as good, they straight up feel like bad pokemon (admittedly, I disagree with lumping Jolteon in with that group because Jolt's awesome). This all leads to a scenario where you look at the metagame and go "what now?". With the Normals being so bloody good, Egg still living it up as a result of RBY sleep and a dwindling pool of options for the remaining slots on your team, what do you do to keep exploring?

    And even if you don't explore because you simply like to try new things, but instead focus purely on winning, exploration is still important, as having unique teams can catch opponents off guard and furthermore if you're not trying new things you risk overlooking cracks in what you consider optimal play and failing to remain on top of the meta, because even if you're content with what you consider optimal, other players will continue to look for an even greater edge, and if that means experimenting with what's considered sub-optimal then so be it.

    Although I think we've been trending towards an optimal style of play, my guess is that this will not be sustainable, as players will eventually begin experimenting with non-standard builds in an attempt to subvert the current idea of optimal play. In RBY there is a massive gap between optimal teambuilding and technically viable teambuilding, affording players a lot of leeway to experiment. Hell, this could even prove to be a cyclical thing, with play approaching an optimal state, then entering a state of experimentation in order to subvert said state, then leading to diversity again gradually reducing as time and competition prove which experiments (if any) were truly effective in tackling the prior optimal state, which in turn leads to a new optimal state at which point the cycle begins anew.

    When it comes to experimentation, I'm honestly looking at every member of the big four and wondering whether I could drop them. Is sleep even that good anymore, given how regularly sleep gets blocked? Because let's face it, the only reason Egg is even remotely S is because RBY sleep is considered essential- for good reason, but it's still a little dogmatic. As for the normals, there are obvious alternatives to Chansey and Lax, while you don't need Tauros to achieve technical viability, as DA will attest. Does this mean any of them are fair game? It's tough to see any replacement outperforming them, but I honestly consider them all on par with each other and if you're open to dropping them I'd say there are heaps of different archetypes available to experiment with. Idk, I just feel like if you're going to experiment there's no rule that shouldn't be questioned imo. That said, my backlog of teams to test is immense, and I'm inconsistent in my activity besides MTs, so idk when I'll reach a point where I start experimenting

    I could be just spouting bullshit here, probably am tbh, but nonetheless I think it's an interesting idea/theory that I felt like sharing.

    Also the reason I lumped these two topics together is because I thought the stuff on rby was well-complemented by the general stuff on technical vs practical viability
    Disaster Area likes this.
  2. marcoasd

    marcoasd P.I.P. PLAY IN PEACE Host Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I’ll start from here:
    Tauros/Jolteon/Jynx/StunSeed Egg/RefLax and Starmie

    I don’t think this team is that weak to Moltres (especially given it’s rare): Starmie is the best counter for it! And Jolteon is pretty good in case your opponent doesn’t have Chansey anymore.
    This team has many other problems, that eventually led you to being weak to Moltres, but they might doom you just as much against other teams (assuming you’re playing someone as good as you are):

    - doesn’t have good status absorbers, and that’s basically the price of dropping Chansey; Alakazam is almost decent and while not as good as Chansey, it doesn’t have the hard time Starmie has against BeamBolt Chansey
    - doesn’t have a backup physical sweeper, in case Tauros wants to stay in, against lead Jynx for example
    - doesn’t have reliable ways to take care of Chansey all the time
    - doesn’t have good switch ins for Tauros – believe it or not, ReflectRestLax has a bad time switching into Tauros
    -doesn’t have reliable ways to get momentum back against IceLax – all it does is switching Exeggutor or Starmie in, but that comes at the price of paralysis
    - all in all, I didn’t figure the overall plan of this team: how does it win games? Just paralyse Chansey and hope to take it out with some crits or Egg’s Explosion, use Snorlax to spread some paralysis and try to sweep with your fast pokemon – Jolteon and Starmie, so well… looks like special sweeping.

    Put Persian > Jynx on that team and it looks good to me!

    So, I think the first point in viability is: “What’s this team’s plan? Is it outclassed at what it does?”
    I think there might be multiple plans:
    1, Tauros sweep - basically every team right now wins by “trade stuff and set up for a Tauros sweep”;
    2- Another category might simply be: I’m trying to remove counters for a specific setup tank and let it win 1 vs all: Slowbro (especially Reflect), TankLax (especially monoIce).
    3- Wrap strategy: pretty simple - I’m going to outspeed your whole team and I won’t let you move.
    4- Special sweeping - In my early days of RBY, Exploding Exeggutor into Chansey and using Starmie (or Lapras to a lesser extent) was a plan too – these days it won’t work as much due to Alakazam lead’s and Zapdos’ usage; RestLax is an obstacle too.
    5 - Mixed Sweeping: this is commonly the Zapdos sweep, or Lapras to a lesser extent. Hyper Beam Starmie/Exeggutor might work that way too – I had a wild team including both of them, taking advantage of Alakazam, Starmie and Exeggutor special drops to put things into HB range. It works as a surprise: good players figure what you're trying to do...

    There might be more, just like some stall strategy spamming Rest pokemon for example, but you got the meaning.
    The Tauros sweep has been the most inevitable strategy through years: consistent both offensively and difensively due to the sheer versatility of S4, so let’s take a look at its most common viability traits.

    Have at least:
    - one sleeper, 2 if one is the lead
    - 2 of TWave/Stun Spore outside of the lead position; you might decide to include your lead into the count (reaching 2) at your own risk
    - 1 user of Recover/Softboiled outside of the lead position – which is actually the most interesting axiom
    - 3 pokemon that can threaten Chansey: this is commonly Tauros, Snorlax and your 6th slot and/or Exeggutor with a physical move and/or Alakazam (as a lead too).
    - 1 way to stall ReflectLax, especially the IceReflect variant – this actually means you’re going to use the Reflect variant of at least one of Chansey/Snorlax; Slowbro or Rest Cloyster are options too.
    - 2 ways to deal with Tauros: usually Exeggutor and Snorlax as checks, Tauros makes it ideal to use Starmie leads when your 6th pokemon is GolDon
    -2 switch ins for Psychic (move) in general

    Not strictly must have, but still heavily recommended as long as these threats are common – have at least 2 pokemon that can stop
    - Zapdos: the very least is Chansey + PhysLax
    - Starmie/Lapras: usually Chansey + Snorlax
    - Alakzam lead: this is why I suggest SToss Chansey on Starmie lead teams, which adds to Snorlax
    - Slowbro: usually Exeggutor and BoomLax, especially if you’re sleeping something early and you don’t have a fast TBolt user
    - Amnesialax: usually Exeggutor and PhysLax, especially if you’re sleeping something early and you don’t have Reflect Chansey to switch in and use TWave+SToss to facilitate a switch.

    - Dragonite: nothing major, just use Stun Spore on Exeggutor on teams that need it; it’s also another reason to use Starmie lead if your 6th is GolDon

    I don’t understand the Technical vs Practical Viability thing: to me, a team can be:
    a) good b) risky: good for certain matchups, bad positioned for others c) bad.
    Just that simple.

    Anyway, Exeggutor is the weak link of S4, but it’s almost must for standard teams only due to the ability of threatening Sleep Powders on setuppers, the number of threats it counters and the access to a powerful Explosion.
    I used to experiment without it back then (and I should take a look at those teams again), but it’s hard to drop it – I had to fix a lot of things.

    Jolteon is awesome against players who don’t know how to face it, or are weak to it. Take a look at SPL’s usage stats and you’ll quickly realize you have to put up a lot of results before people will trust you.
  3. Roostur

    Roostur Member

    Dec 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Ampharos/raichu , muk, snorlax, houndoom, charizard, heracros. I created this team in gen 2 and beat everyone on the ladder with it at the time, even the people at the very top, and even used it to win a ppl match. If you take ampharos, raichu, muk, houndoom, or charizard, and put one of them on any standard ou team they suck. But when put on this team they work well together. I made this team by testing and thinking after my matches "okay, I saw this weakness, what do i need to counteract that?" And then I would look at ALL the pokemon to see what I need with no viability/tier list in mind. There are pokemon who may be regarded as bad in the game and so are disregarded right off the bat, but their tools may be the exact tools that you need on a specific team you are making.

    GSC - Battle log between Celia using a mono ice team and james g. Celia Wins | Pokémon Perfect

    I watched this match live ^^ . This guy taught me that you can transcend the meta if you know the math to the point where your foresight is unrivaled. His more popular team that consists of, gengar, slowbro, lax, raikou, suicune, donphan, is the most solid team i've ever seen created in gen 2 (In the old sleep trap perish song meta) .It is a testament to his understanding of the game. He understands the game to the point where he can take a solo ice team and beat james g. James g has played this game for FOREVER. He is a tournament winner and has been on top of the ladder countless times. Not only was the team that Celia used all ice types, but keep in mind that every ice type in the game outside of cloyster is outside of OU. And there were no lucky freezes, and no lucky crit that won him the game. Celia beat him with nothing but unrivaled foresight. He definitely lived up to his legend in that match. Now take Celia's ice team and go on the ladder with it yourself. You will get beat by people you never lose to. No one can use that team like that but him. He is simply speaking another language than everyone else when he plays. Most people simply don't have the mastery of their gen to make a team like that and see the strengths in that team and how to utilize those strengths to circumvent the obvious weaknesses. Instead most players focus on the weaknesses and don't know the math well enough to get around them. To get to this level you must have a high iq, and more importantly a deep love for the game where you can have just as much fun in losing as in winning. Because if you're only focused on winning and winning has become your main goal (which it is for most people at the top) then your creativity will surely suffer. Because you get into a cycle of, instead of being creative, "optimizing" the conventional standards instead to get an edge over your opponent. It could be the case that these "optimizations" don't matter against a player like Celia because foresight and creativity beat everything. But then again who am I to say that james g's team is more optimized than celia's solo ice team when James g was the loser of the match? I guess it depends on what you mean by optimized.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018

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