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Competitive Pokémon community bans 4 new powerful ’mons

At least by some rules, Houndstone, Flutter Mane, and others aren’t viable Pokémon

A Pokémon trainer battling with a Houndstone in a grassy field, near a rock, in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo via Polygon

With Pokémon Scarlet and Violet being out for a couple weeks now, Pokémon players are quickly learning the ins and outs of each and every Pokémon. The competitive community, in particular, is quick to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of new Pokémon and their moves. And one of those communities, Smogon University, has already eliminated four overpowered Pokémon from its competitive community.

Smogon is a community with forums and matchmaking for competitive battles; it’s got a number of different formats for a variety of Pokémon games, including Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. It’s a huge community with thousands of active battlers, and its most popular format is called OverUsed, or OU. It’s not an official competitive community, and it’s unaffiliated with the Pokémon Video Game Championship (VCG), which is run by The Pokémon Company. Smogon’s rules apply only to their community, not official Pokémon events. (Additionally, most of Smogon’s rulesets are for singles matches, while the VGC format uses double battles exclusively.)

Rules and Pokémon tier levels are managed by a group of nine council members who are particularly skilled at Pokémon battles — for a Pokémon to be banned, seven out of nine members have to vote in favor of a ban. Why ban a Pokémon from a competitive community? Well, these Pokémon would quickly overpower the meta, making the format much less fun or fair. And if you do want to use these Pokémon, you’re welcome to move over to another (less popular) format.

The first two Pokémon to be banned were Flutter Mane, a Paradox Pokémon, and Houndstone, the Greavard evolution, as GameRant reported. Flutter Mane, for one, is a Pokémon that’s hard to match — it’s got powerful advantages as a fairy/ghost Pokémon, along with huge special attack and speed stats, Smogon wrote. Houndstone, on the other hand, isn’t especially overpowered, but a single move is — Last Respects. The move gains strength as other Pokémon faint, giving it a massive blast of power if it’s the last Pokémon standing, or close to it. This is a bigger deal in single battles in the OU tier than in VGC’s double battles, since singles teams have six Pokémon — doubles teams only have four, so Last Respects can do more damage in singles. Smogon considered banning just the move, but Houndstone is currently the only monster in Scarlet and Violet that can use it; if that changes, this ruling may, too.

The Pokédex photo of Palazin, showing its grotesque Hero Form Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo via Polygon

On Friday, Smogon’s council voted to ban two more Pokémon: Palafin and Iron Bundle. Palafin is the adorable dolphin Pokémon with a super powerful ability 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 takes it over the edge. Councilmembers called it “far too powerful, demanding, and low-cost.” As Smogon’s council explained, in its Hero form, Palafin has a base stat total of 650; for context, this is higher than that of Mega Charizard as well as some popular legendary Pokémon in the competitive scene, like Cresselia, Thundurus, and Landorus. Only a handful of Pokémon, most of them legendary, have higher base stat totals, and most of those have similarly not been allowed in Smogon’s OU tiers.

Iron Bundle, the Delibird-like Paradox Pokémon, was the next to get cut, due to its exceptional offensive abilities that are too hard to defend against, though it was the only one of the four banned Pokémon whose banning was not unanimous. The group’s gone in depth on why each of these creatures was banned on the Smogon forums.

At that time, Smogon’s council voted on a few other Pokémon, too, like Cyclizar, Chien-Pao, and Annihilape. As the OU metagame changes, the council will likely analyze these and more Pokémon again. After all, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are still in the early days, and there’s a lot more to discover.

But look, here’s the thing: If you’re just playing with your friends, use these Pokémon to absolutely wreck 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.]

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