In an attempt to balance a newly emerging meta with Sword and Shield, some organizations are banning Dynamaxing from competitive Pokemon play.
Sword and Shield has only been out for a little over a month, but the competitive Pokemon community has already banned Dynamaxing, the series’ newest installment’s main addition to traditional Pokemon battles. The game has had its fair share of controversies, to the confusion of some fans, but this is the first that specifically has to do with competitive play.
Dynamaxing is a temporary transformation that makes Pokemon larger, gives them more health, and gives them special moves. It only lasts for three turns and can only be used once per battle, and can also only be used in specific situations such as in gym arenas or in dens during max raid battles. There is also a special kind of Dynamaxing called Gigantamax, which can only be done by certain species of Pokemon and alters their appearance significantly. According to the lore of the game, Dynamax was created when the Eternatus Pokemon was wounded, and energy leaked out of it while it tried to recover. This phenomenon created Power Spots where Pokemon could Dynamax, and gyms were built over those spots to take advantage of this.
According to Smogon, the premiere website for information on competitive Pokemon battling, the use of Dynamaxing in any Smogon-organized tournaments. They do clarify, however, that players can absolutely use the mechanic in casual play or other tournaments that they are not affiliated with. Dynamaxing was banned due to its unpredictability, they say, because Smogon prioritizes “skillful play and minimizing guesswork.” Elements considered in the decision include the doubling of HP, the secondary effects moves have in regard to each Pokemon type, and the unpredictability of being able to Dynamax at any point in the match. The post also states that Gigantamaxing will be banned alongside Dynamaxing, as they are effectively the same thing when it comes to the actual gameplay.
Sword and Shield has its own competitive mode built right into the game, so players can battle others online in ranked play. In this mode, players can earn points, climb through different skill tiers, and get special rewards. The meta for competitive play is still taking shape, but this mode also bans Dynamaxing and Gigantamaxing, as well as legendary Pokemon, as they are a bit overpowered in these battles.
While widespread bans like this can sometimes cause a divide in the community, fans seem pretty unified on the situation based on the comments on a Reddit post. Players have reached a consensus that Dynamaxing is incredibly powerful, and have accepted that they will have to find other tactics to get an upper hand in battle. Smogon is by no means the only authority in the competitive Pokemon community, but it’s likely that other organizations will also follow suit when it comes to the ban.