The Pokémon Sword and Shield metagame is in full swing right now. But since the games are so fresh, several of the new mechanics and additions to the franchise are still being tested to see how they could affect the competitive scene.
And after a month of allowing both Dynamax and Gigantimax Pokémon to be included in teams, the competitive Pokémon community Smogon voted to ban those forms from the OverUsed tier. The vote passed with an 87 percent supermajority, banning all variations of Dynamaxing from OU and subsequent competitive ladders.
This has no bearing on the VGC competitive format officially hosted by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo, however. This ban only applies to players who abide by the Smogon Tier Lists and plan to compete in matches that use those formats, which include OU, UU (UnderUsed) and other competitive ladders.
“Dynamax was voted on and banned through a process known as suspecting,” Smogon OU forum leader Finchinator said. “The process of a suspect involves opening up a formal discussion thread, such as the one here, and conducting a vote among qualified players after the suspect period is over.”
This entire process was done because Dynamaxing introduces a mechanic, unlike other form changes, that allows any Pokémon to get various boosts and provides secondary abilities to each attack that can easily swing a game.
“The reasoning behind the Dynamax ban involves the increase in power, the impact of the secondary effects each type’s move has, the defensive merit gained through doubling the HP of any Dynamax user, and the element of unpredictability that comes alongside being able to Dynamax with any Pokemon at any point of the game,” Finchinator said. “Many of the max moves can be devastating and they can be fired off repeatedly while the user’s bulk is increased twofold.”
Several Pokémon, like Snorlax and Braviary, saw huge jumps in usage because their potential to Dynamax made them a lot more valuable to certain team compositions in the meta. Both of those Pokémon are already bulky but can also increase their own stats or set up weather when Dynamaxed, which is vital to how some players play the game.
“The ability for some of the most threatening Pokemon in the game to fire off consecutive boosted attacks, especially without being confined to a choice lock, opens up a lot of unmanageable breaking possibilities,” Finchinator said. “However, this is just the start as the secondary effects that occur through using a move of any type oftentimes lead to the game largely being decided by this three-turn sequence, especially if the Dynamaxed Pokemon has the ability to use specific boosts to snowball into a sweep.”
The post goes on to detail how prominent a Pokémon like Ditto has become in OU purely because it can come in and copy all of the stat boosts of an opposing Pokémon. That leads to situations where players are just working to find the right time to send in Ditto to reverse sweep, rather than actually playing the game.
“High Ditto usage in SS OU is indicative that normal means of counterplay are too inconsistent to rely upon, necessitating Ditto’s unique properties to stop threats from running amok,” a forum user said. “Ditto’s prominence is itself evidence of an unhealthy meta that cannot handle its own power level through any means other than copying the threat in front of them and its using its own power against it.”
This ban should clear up the meta a bit and let the tiers begin to settle in a natural way now that Dynamaxing won’t be an additional factor for certain Pokémon.
But taking away the ability to Dynamax and Gigantimax is essentially removing one of the core mechanics in Sword and Shield. Mega Evolution was around for both generation six and seven, while Z-Moves were allowed in the last game. The main difference between those two added elements is that you can’t change the Pokémon holding a Mega Stone or Z-Crystal during the battle, but you can Dynamax with any Pokémon.
“While we do understand that there may be some individual preference favoring mechanical preservation such as this, we still believe that finding a competitive balance is the first and foremost priority of tiering,” Finchinator said. “Preserving a metagame that has player skill as the main determinant of the outcome of battles is of greater importance than preserving a mechanic to align the generation’s identity with, which we deem unnecessary.”
This ban goes into effect starting today, Dec. 17 in all of Smogon’s competitive Sword and Shield gameplay. If you want to continue playing with Dynamaxing as an option, you can play with the official Pokémon VGC 2020 ruleset or in both Ubers and National Dex OU on Pokémon Showdown.