With Pokemon Scarlet and Purple having been out for a few weeks now, Pokemon players quickly learn the ins and outs of each Pokemon. The competitive community, in particular, is quick to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of new Pokemon and their moves. And one such community, Smogon University, has already knocked out four super-powered Pokemon from its competitive community.
Smogon is a community with forums and matchmaking for competitive battles; it has a number of different formats for a variety of Pokemon games, including Pokemon Scarlet and Purple. It’s a huge community with thousands of active fighters, and its most popular format is called OverUsed, or OU. It is not an official competitive community and is not affiliated with the Pokémon Video Game Championship (VCG), which is operated by The Pokémon Company. Smogon’s rules only apply to their community, not to official Pokemon events. (Also, most of Smogon’s rulesets are for singles matches, while the VGC format uses doubles matches exclusively.)
Pokémon tier rules and tiers are handled by a group of nine council members who are uniquely skilled in Pokémon battles – for a Pokémon to be banned, seven out of nine members must vote in favor of a ban. Why ban a Pokémon from a competitive community? Well, those Pokemon would quickly dominate the meta, making the format much less fun or fair. And if you do want to use these Pokemon, you can switch to another (less popular) format.
The first two Pokemon to be banned were Flutter Mane, a Pokemon Paradox, and Houndstone, the evolution of Greavard, as reported by GameRant. Flutter Mane, on the other hand, is a tough Pokemon to match – it has powerful advantages as a Fairy/Ghost Pokemon, as well as huge Special Attack and Speed stats, Smogon wrote. Houndstone, on the other hand, isn’t particularly overpowered, but only one move is – Last Respects. The move gains strength when other Pokemon faint, giving it a huge burst of power if it’s the last Pokemon standing or nearby. This is more important in OU level single battles than in VGC double battles, since singles teams have six Pokemon – doubles teams only have four, so Last Respects can do more damage in singles . Smogon considered banning movement only, but Houndstone is currently the only monster in Scarlet and Purple who can use it; if it changes, so can this decision.
On Friday, the Smogon council voted to ban two more Pokémon: Palafin and Iron Bundle. Palafin is the adorable dolphin Pokemon with a super powerful move called Zero to Hero, which turns the dolphin into a superhero, basically. Like Houndstone, Palafin looks relatively harmless, but the Zero to Hero ability is what overwhelms him. Council members called it “far too powerful, demanding and inexpensive”. As Smogon’s advice explained, in his hero form, Palafin has a total base stat of 650; for context, this is higher than Mega Charizard as well as some popular Legendary Pokémon in the competitive scene, like Cresselia, Thundurus, and Landorus. Only a handful of Pokemon, most of them Legendary, have higher base stat totals, and most of them weren’t allowed in Smogon’s OU Tiers either.
Iron Bundle, the Delibird-like Pokémon Paradox, was the next to be cut, due to its outstanding offensive abilities that are too difficult to defend against, despite being the only one of the four banned Pokémon whose ban was not unanimous. The group went into depth about why each of these creatures were banned on the Smogon forums.
Around this time, the Smogon council also voted for a few other Pokémon, like Cyclizar, Chien-Pao, and Annihilape. As the OU metagame changes, the board will likely reanalyze these Pokemon and others. After all, Pokemon Scarlet and Purple are still in their infancy and there is still much to discover.
But look, here’s the thing: if you’re just playing with your friends, use these Pokémon to absolutely destroy them. No rules there!
[Disclosure: Kallie Plagge worked for Nintendo as a localization writer and editor from April 2021 to March 2022 for the games Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Dragalia Lost, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Mario Kart Tour. This affiliation will be disclosed in any content that relates to Nintendo-published games, and she will not cover any games she directly worked on.]