Greninja is Uber, says Smogon

Smogon has just banned Greninja.

Yes, Greninja has just been banned from Smogon’s OU tier on If a person wants to use Greninja on their team in Smogon’s competitive environment on, they would have to do so on the Uber tier (or on Anything Goes).

Personally, I like Greninja, so it’s a little sad to see him removed from a tier. However, I understand the reasoning behind the ban. There are a lot of other Greninja fans out there, though, and not all of them are likely to take this news very well.

It should be understood that Smogon doesn’t make it’s rules to enforce on the general community of competitive Pokemon players. Smogon only makes it’s rules for use by those playing in Smogon’s competitive community. So if you have a pokemon battle with someone in a parking lot somewhere and they insist on you not using Greninja because Smogon banned it, you can point out that you’re not on

Having said that, Smogon does see the occasional newbie who joins their message boards and insists on unbanning every pokemon that they like and changing what Smogon does. That person isn’t likely to get very far, and in most cases, such people don’t understand why Smogon does what it does. Smogon mainly focuses on providing a balanced competitive environment, and this works better when pokemon that are too overcentralizing are restricted from use. Greninja was an excellent example of an overcentralizing pokemon that was unhealthy for the OU tier.

Greninja was a pretty good pokemon in X and Y, but when ORAS came out, Greninja got some additional moves to answer the pokemon that checked it before. Low Kick was a physical Fighting move that works well on Chansey and Porygon2 (the latter of which was mainly played in OU as a check to Greninja). It also got Gunk Shot, which gave it a strong solution to Fairy types like Clefable. Greninja was quickly running out of counters. With it’s excellent speed and special attack, combined with an ability that gives it STAB on every attack move it uses and makes it a snap to fit on just about any team, Greninja was becoming a pokemon to prepare for when team building, sometimes by including more than one pokemon for the purposes of countering it. And sometimes by adding it’s own Greninja.

Those against the ban pointed out Greninja’s frailty, saying that it could be easily revenge killed. That may be true, but to revenge kill something first requires that a pokemon be KOed. Then the revenge killer can come in and get revenge. That’s why it’s called “revenge killing”. But here’s the thing: the Greninja player can just switch out. This simple move can bring a defensive pivot into play which could handle the revenge killer, and allow Greninja to strike again at a later time. Greninja might be frail, but that only matters when Greninja takes hits. Greninja is very fast and has a high special attack. If Greninja can KO an opponent before it makes a move, then it’s low defensive stats aren’t going to make a difference. This is why some players can confidently give Greninja a Life Orb to hold. The item gives Greninja a boost to it’s damage output, and the recoil damage for it’s use is a very good trade-off.

There are bound to be people out there that resent Smogon for the decisions that they make. Their solution to that problem is to battle in a different competitive environment. Again, Smogon’s rules are intended only for the Smogon competitive community. If players don’t like what Smogon does, they have the choice of battling in different communities. Back when Garchomp was banned in generation four, some players answered by doing just that. It would seem that they wanted to use Garchomp really badly, so they found some competitive communities that allowed it, and probably spent plenty of time battling in environments where Garchomp appeared on nearly every team.

Will something like that happen now that Greninja has been banned? Maybe. But there are bound to be some fans that will be disappointed by the decision, as there are plenty of people out there that really like Greninja. Perhaps one of the reasons that Greninja has so many fans is because it could win lots of battles. Of course, that it’s a ninja probably has something to do with it.

Smogon is no stranger to seeing some upset critics. However, a lot of these critics don’t understand competitive play very well. If you’re going to have critics, you’re probably going to prefer that those critics don’t know what they’re talking about, because that’s a sign that you’re probably right about something.

Still, it might be interesting to see how the OU metagame shapes up because of this. It stands to reason that some more obscure pokemon that were mainly placed in teams to deal with Greninja will see less use. That means that we’ll likely see less of Empoleon and Porygon2. Landorus-T is also likely to decline in use. During suspect testing for Greninja, Heatran replaced Landorus-T for the #1 spot in PokemonShowdown’s OU usage stats, and the margin has been widening. Heatran isn’t likely to be banned, however, because it’s not as overcentralizing as Greninja, and is likely only as popular as it is due to a lack of pokemon that can do what it does.

The dust has settled from the latest suspect testing, and it’s been revealed that Greninja has been banned. Some are likely to be really surprised by this, unless they’ve been reading some of the arguments made for and against the banning. As much as I like Greninja, the arguments supporting the ban sounded to me like they were very well made. Some are likely to disagree, however, and the likely result is some seriously heated nerd battles for some time to come.

If one really likes Greninja and they want to see this matter in a more positive light, they can look at this as a promotion for Greninja: Smogon has promoted Greninja to the status of Uber pokemon because it’s a very strong pokemon. That might not work for everyone, though. Still, if a player doesn’t want to play by Smogon’s rules, they can just find a different competitive environment out there. And if they really want to, they can go to some message board on GameFaqs and write a rant about it there. It might be that they’ll get into an argument that they can’t win, but that might be safer than posting the same rant on Smogon’s message boards, where the poster would lose the argument much quicker.

So yeah, Greninja is banned. What do you think? Me, I’m a little disappointed. But in battles with my friends, I can still use my Greninja to Gunk Shot their Clefables. A person could still use Greninja in VGC, the official format of the Video Game Championships, which is likely to be dominated by Mega Salamence. That would be the pokemon that Smogon banned from OU without a suspect test or vote, and it would seem that just about no one questioned them about it. Sometimes, a pokemon is way too strong for it’s environment. As for Greninja, it certainly had an impact. It’s currently ranked #8 in PokemonOnline’s ORAS Uber tier. That’s pretty phenomenal for something that’s neither a legendary or a mega pokemon. Of course, it’s possible that it’s being used by fans that just want to use it.

I know that some of you might be quite upset about this, but please keep it civil in the comments section.

5 thoughts on “Greninja is Uber, says Smogon

  1. Josh

    So i just got into competitive battling cuz one of my fb groups I’m in uses players as Gym Leaders and E4 members. I thought this was great cuz i could use greninja, one of my favorite pokémon. I was dissapointed when learning that greninja had been banned, though i understand why. So hopefully I can replace him with another great member..

    1. Raizen Post author

      Hi Josh,
      Smogon is a competitive battling community which develops its rules with the intention of them applying to it’s own competitive community. While many communities do follow Smogon’s banlist, it might be that your Facebook group has a different banlist and a different set of rules. If you plan on competing in a different competitive community, it’s recommended that you learn the rules for that community. It might be that your community has a different banlist.

  2. Josh

    Though i don’t really want too. But does anyone know what the format and where m I can find the ban list for VCG?

    1. Raizen Post author

      There are webpages where the official rules are discussed, such as this one:

      That page provides a brief mention of the rules for the 2015 VGC season, and provides a link to a PDF document for the official rules for the 2015 VGC season. The World Championships for the year 2015 has just concluded, so it may be that there will be an updated set of rules for the 2016 season to be made available in the coming months.


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