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All Gens Visualising Viability

Discussion in 'Analysis and Research' started by Ortheore, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. Ortheore

    Ortheore Leader

    May 16, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Forewarning- although I believe this point applies to all gens, basically all of the examples I'll use are for RBY

    So I was thinking the other day about how I'd rank the pokemon currently in A- in the RBY viability rankings, and it was clear that Bro was very different from the other two. Lapras and Rhydon I feel are fairly consistent- you can bring them and know you're using a good pokemon, but it's rare that they'll dominate games. By contrast, Slowbro is one of the biggest threats in RBY, capable of single-handedly steamrolling through entire teams... but it rarely manages to achieve this, while it also has more potential than Lapras/Rhydon to fall flat on its face. I think overall they belong in the same ranking in the viability rankings, but the difference in consistency is interesting

    I started to think of viability as a bell curve on a graph. The x axis would measure the pokemon's impact on any single match (I take 0= provides literally no value, 100=utterly dominant and capable of single-handedly winning games, but these numbers are both arbitrary and subjective). The y axis would be the probability that a pokemon actually performs at a given level of viability.

    What would this look like in practice? More consistent pokemon would tend to have very narrow bell curves (e.g. Lax consistently provides value in the range of say, 80-90, while Golbat will always provide 0 value), while less consistent pokemon would have very broad curves- Zapdos and Dragonite spring to mind here, as both are capable of dominating games, while also capable of being dead weight. However it's obvious Zapdos is a hell of a lot better than Dragonite- so the data would be skewed differently. Zapdos' most probable performance probably falls at around 80 or so, whereas Dragonite's most likely performance is maybe 40? Either way, Dragonite's got a far larger probability of backfiring.

    So what's the point of all this? Well there are three characteristics of a pokemon's viability that I think are relevant- its floor, its statistical peak and its ceiling. The floor is the worst a pokemon could perform that has a significant probability of occurring under reasonable circumstances. The ceiling is the reverse of this (the best it's likely to perform). The statistical peak is basically the impact that a pokemon is most likely to have on a given match, saying for example, "sure Slowbro can single-handedly win games, but in practice it'll only usually achieve so much". This is affected by skew, so it can be very close to the pokemon's floor, or to the ceiling.

    What are the shortcomings of this model? For one I think it's unclear whether or not it does an adequate job accounting for the ease with which a pokemon can be slotted onto a team. In OU for g5 onwards Lando-T is an extremely splashable pokemon, and to some extent this would be reflected in its floor, but it's unclear whether or not this would be enough to be accurate. What of pokemon that demand very strict archetypes? This is a mark against their viability, but if used on the appropriate team they may be very consistent. Again, I don't know how this would be reflected in these plots. One area where this model definitely falls flat is in handling redundancy. When you think about RBY Venusaur, it's really not that far behind Victreebel in its ability to impact a game, and this would be reflected in the kind of graph I'm describing. However we know there's a far larger gap in viability between the two, because Victreebel pretty much outclasses Venusaur (I know it doesn't totally outclass it, but it comes pretty damn close)

    Anyway, those are just some random thoughts I had that I felt like sharing
    terpnation, Disaster Area and Enigami like this.
  2. Enigami

    Enigami Moderator

    Apr 24, 2015
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    Another thing that complicates this is how a Pokemon's various sets will affect the floor/peak/ceiling overall, and the best example here would be Snorlax.

    AmnesiaLax probably has the highest floor of all the sets, potentially breaking through even Chansey if it is paralyzed and blowing through the rest of its counters, but has a lower peak due to the setup requirements and being vulnerable to physical attackers (especially while asleep) and can still be screwed over by powerful crit Special attacks. ReflectLax is very good and certainly has one of the highest peaks among Lax sets, but has a lower floor comparatively thanks to being pretty comfortably handled by Chansey (and Porygon) and other Reflect Snorlaxes. Mono-normal Lax has one of the worst floors among the Lax sets due to Rock-types and Gengar getting in on the Lax walling action. How would you factor the effects of a Pokemon's viable sets on an overall floor/peak/ceiling?

    There's another complication regarding redundancy. Porygon walls Snorlax and paralyzed Tauros better thanks to much higher PP and rarely using recover PP for sponging Special attacks (plus slightly more physical bulk), but Chansey can do that too while unparalyzed along with a bunch of other things Porygon could try and be terrible at. This would imply Porygon's viability should tank. But in doing virtually any of those other things that isn't walling Snorlax/paralyzed Tauros, Chansey usually gets paralyzed, and with only 16 Softboiled PP it can't switch into both physical attackers and special attackers for long even when it is unparalyzed, which makes Porygon's redundancy less of an issue.

    It'd take a bit to work out the kinks, but I think a floor/peak/ceiling graph is an interesting idea. Using Porygon again as an example here, it'd probably have a narrow bell curve at a modest value as it doesn't usually ever dominate games, but reliably walls out most Snorlax (and less reliably paralyzed hax machine Tauros), showing that the viability Porygon has is tied heavily to its consistency, where Dragonite conversely could have a really high ceiling but low performance highlighting both its potential to win games by itself but also fall flat and accomplish barely anything.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
    terpnation likes this.
  3. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Member

    May 4, 2014
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    I don't think it's right to assume that all pokemon would have bell curves. Zapdos, which you mentioned, I think would be bimodal, with peaks around say 20 and 80, and a dip around 50, for argument's sake.

    This is a super interesting idea though!! I like the idea of visualising it graphically. For axes, I guess you could call them in-match utility [y-axis] and probability [x-axis],. I don't think precise values are important, what's important is if the shape's right... I think what might be a good idea is to come up with a selection of shapes describing different types of Pokemon. For example Tauros etc. would have a graph with a peak in the 90s and being narrow, and yes golbat would have a peak around say 2 that's also very narrow, and those describe extremely dominant/useless Pokemon. Zapdos might have a peak around 20 and another around 80, with the one at 80 being bigger than the one at 20. Slowbro might have a peak at 90 and another at 20, with the one at 20 being larger than the one at 80, but for it to go down more slowly & steadily between 20 and say 70 or so before it picks back up again. Furthermore, Enigami, you could think of the different sets of each Pokemon having different graphs, with the final graph describing a Pokemon being the superimposition of each of the set's graphs, proportional to their approximate usage.
  4. Ortheore

    Ortheore Leader

    May 16, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Although technically not the point of this thread, the following is still somewhat related
    I was thinking about this a little more today, as well as how I would define each rank in a VR thread.

    First is that metagame presence is probably something that shouldn't be considered in gauging viability. First is that in theory, a pokemon's metagame presence should in theory be derived entirely from the other two factors (potency and splashability). Second is that it's practically a proxy for popularity, something that VR threads are explicitly NOT about. Instead, I think it's better to categorise pokemon into the roles they play in a metagame. These would be dominant threats (S), staples (A and upper B), relevant threats (B and upper C), niche threats (lower C and D), gimmicks (E) and unviable trash (F). I'll go into what they mean in a sec, just want to point out quickly that there's some overlap between ranks, and some redundancy in particular between C and D, where based on how I currently think about VRs, both C and D are predominantly for niche threats. Also the reason I brought up metagame presence in the first place is that I was thinking of sleep leads in RBY- they have a significant impact on the meta imo, despite most of us recently discussing how they're bad ad nauseam. Lastly, the reason I bring up these roles is that they can be used to easily paint a general picture, but specific details will often disrupt the ordering of things.

    The second point I want to add is that splashability is probably the wrong word to use, and that the general principle of "how easily does mon X fit on a team?" is actually a convergence of splashability and the notion of requiring support. These latter two points address the same issue but from different ends of team building, which makes them sound different (to me at least). When we talk of pokemon requiring support, we're referring to the foundational pieces of a team, the concept upon which the team is built. When we talk of a pokemon being splashable (a weird word tbh), we talk of it being added to a team to complement other team members. Obviously, every choice in teambuilding has some of these two threads to some degree, but that's obviously not uniform across the various stages of teambuilding.

    Then there's the issue of redundancy. This fits in neatly with the idea of splashability- if pokemon X is mostly outclassed by pokemon Y, that means when you're choosing complementary teammates Y is more likely to be chosen, whereas X's niche is more specific. A good example here is RBY Jolteon. In a vacuum it's a pretty damn good sweeper, but the reality is that Zapdos exists and fills that niche FAR better than Jolt does, which means Jolt has to find other niches or players have to find additional reasons to pick Jolteon. However, I'm not entirely sure how to characterise redundancy in relation to foundational pieces without adding an extra condition of "must not be outclassed". I guess maybe if you define support as doing whatever to maximise their strengths relative to other pokemon (obviously there's more to it than that)? This I think hits the nail on the head, come to think of it. RBY Venusaur is a lot less viable as a foundational piece because it's extremely difficult to support it in such a way that it outperforms Victreebel.

    Now for how I would define each ranking, and it's here that I'll include the metagame roles I mentioned earlier.
    • S- These pokemon are defining threats in the tier, possessing enormous offensive and defensive capabilities. Their potency is such that it is often difficult not to include them in teams, with some even going so far as to be a requirement for all competitive teams
    • A- These pokemon may be exceptionally potent threats and/or easy to fit onto a wide variety of teams, often with little to no support. They should generally be common sights in the tier and exert significant influence on the metagame such that they should be considered staples, however they differ from threats in S tier in that opting not to run any given A ranked pokemon can easily be made up for in other ways
    • B- These pokemon are significant threats in their tier, that are generally capable of performing well for a team, however they may be less effective than threats ranked higher, or require additional support. These Pokemon must be planned for when building a team, but are not central to the metagame as the pokemon ranked above them are.
    • C- These pokemon are capable of functioning effectively and fitting onto viable teams, but also face significant hurdles in functioning for a given team, as they may struggle to perform somewhat, or require significant amounts of support
    • D- These pokemon are rarely seen in high level play, as they invariably face significant obstacles preventing them from performing effectively, and generally require significant support. Nonetheless, they are capable of performing well if given the right support and circumstances. They are considered niche threats, and should generally not impact teambuilding unless a team has an egregious weakness to one of these threats
    • E- These pokemon are at best gimmicks, at worst almost unviable. They usually struggle to perform in the tier and require extensive support, while being irrelevant in terms of impact upon the metagame. Nonetheless, players seeking to experiment should be able to construct a team with them that, while not optimal, is still competitive with other teams
    • F- Unviable trash.
    The biggest thing is that there's a lot of redundancy in these definitions. Having a preamble (or linking to one) explaining the components of viability and whatever definitions are necessary, as well as the fact that viability can be any mix of potency and splashability (this is a really stupid word, but afaik this is just the one that's used, but still, we can do better), since I feel like I have to mention that things are so threatening, or they can be however easy to fit onto a team, and it gets bloody repetitive.

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