Oct 18, 2019: Nifty Or Thrifty: Ferocious Cup
Author: JRE Seawolf
“Nifty or Thrifty” is a series which author JRE Seawolf started on the Arena subreddit to analyze the Cup meta – specifically through the lens of which Pokemon may be worth powering-up and purchasing 2nd charge moves for and which “budget picks” are available at less cost who can still perform well!
The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series serves a few functions. First, it gives a first blush, comprehensive look at the meta for the upcoming Ferocious Cup, particularly from the perspective of which ones are likely worth the cost of leveling up and adding a second charge move (nifty) and which ones would probably work out fine without heavy investment (thrifty), including some alternatives to the more expensive options. For those on a stardust budget–and/or folks trying to save up some dust for the future–it can be daunting trying to figure out where to spend or not spend it. We all want to field competitive teams of six, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps instead channel our inner scrooge?
Since the meta is brand spankin’ new, I have tried to whittle down without leaving too much out, but as per usual with these, it’s likely to be a long read, I’ll warn you up front! But I’ll try to keep it entertaining, too. 😃
Let’s get started!
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
Starters are ineligible this time around, so there go all those Venusaurs and Charizards and Swamperts and such with their overpowered Community Day moves. Thankfully, we still have a number of relatively inexpensive options to pick through!
Hyper Fang & Surf
Let the meme meltdown commence! It may not be Our Lord And Savior Bidoof, but Bibarel is the next best thing… and it is legit meta in Ferocious Cup. Behold!. That’s right, this unassuming little beastie can take out every Ground, Rock, Fire, and Ice type in the Cup, including Alolan Ninetails, Alolan Marowak, the Nidoroyalty, Piloswine, Aggron and Lairon, and more, including Delcatty and even Suicune and a tie with Vaporeon! (And yes, those are indeed all meta relevant this month… told you it was a crazy format!) “So, brave players, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty, big, pointy teeth!”
Super Raichu Bros.
Wild Charge & Thunder Punch/Brick Break
I know, I know… I consider Pikachu a starter too, but technically it isn’t, so the Raichus get to sneak in here. Now that they can both have Thunder Shock as their fast move, the Raichu Bros. are now very close in performance and almost interchangeable (with a full Electric set) when both are eligible. With default IVs, Kanto Chu has one more point of Attack and 3 more HP, while Alolan Chu has 2 more points of Defense. Going head to head, they not surprisingly tie, and at time of the last charge move, only 2 HP separates them. In general, if going with the full Electric moveset (generally the best way to go), I slightly lean Original Recipe Raichu due to very slightly better overall stats. It also continues to have what I think is the best non-Electric move between them: Brick Break. In a Cup light on Fighting (you’ll see HOW light as we progress through the article), Brick Break is a potent answer to the various Normal and Dark types roaming around at the top of the meta. Remember that with Brick Break coming about every 4.5 seconds, it allowed Raichu to take down big tanks like Bastiodon in Regionals last season…it is spammy enough that Raichu feels like a quasi-Fighting type. If you’re looking instead to get creative with AhChu, then Grass Knot may be your best bet, providing rare-in-Ferocious Grass coverage against the many Ground and Rock types. But the main job of the Chus is to combat the potent (and otherwise basically unchecked) Waters. KayChu can just do a little more with that Fighting damage option (beating all the Waters AND all Darks and Normals except close, IV-dependant losses to Skuntank, Umbreon, and Delcatty and a slightly worse loss to Linoone.) Let’s just call K-Chu “Mario” and A-Chu “Luigi” for this Cup.
One last note: while I wouldn’t reach for Skull Bash, you CAN legit consider Charm on Raichu here. It doesn’t have an impressive performance by the overall numbers, but it does take down some key things like Umbreon, Donphan, Alolan Raticate, and Shelgon, matchups that would normally be flipped the other way. If you can lure a player into trying to counter Raichu with something like those options, you could leave them realing when the resuls do NOT go the way they expected! CharmChu is certainly an off-meta play, but maybe, just maybe, a viable one.
Hyper Fang & Crunch
Regular Raticate still just doesn’t do anything special, but its plumper, darker cousin can make some noise here. It outbulks and outslugs all the Waters and notables like A-Wak and Linoone (thanks in large part to resisting Ghost moves), Shelgon, and Piloswine, to name a few. Its Achilles’ heel–Fighting–has a very limited presence here, though it needs to still be wary of Charmers. It currently sits JUST outside the Top 10 Pokemon in Ferocious Cup, and it belongs in that high end range. It’a always nice when nifty meets thrifty like this!
Grass Knot & Dig
I know, I expected Thunder to be the second move of choice too, but shockingly, it’s Dig. Yes, it’s a terrible move (80 energy for only 100 damage), but it brings home some key wins that Linoone just can’t get without it, including Fire types like Torkoal (not even triple Grass Knot can seal the deal, nor can Thunder) and Electric types like Raichu and Minun. And Thunder really doesn’t help against the Waters (Grass Knot does fine), and there are no Flying types to target. Linoone is really solid in Ferocious Cup, including against the core meta. Once again, hurrah for cheap and potent options rolled into one furry package!
Brick Break & Dig
Sort of a mix between BB Raichu and Linoone, Furret carries itself remarkably well in Ferocious. Against the core meta, to compare it to Linoone directly. Furret does better against Normals thanks to Brick Break (Bibarel, Delcatty, and A-Rat, for example), while Linoone takes down ‘mons from a wider range of typings (Nidoking, Raichu, Donphan, Granbull, A-Wak). Technically Furret can win that last one with Sucker Punch as the fast move, but it gives up Vape to do it. I think Quick Attack is the fast move to go with, almost for that reason alone.
Stone Edge & Heavy Slam
Believe it or not, in its first chance to shine without sharing the stage with Bastiodon and Probopass and Steelix and others, Aggron looks to actually be at its best with not Smack Down, but with Dragon Tail instead. With Tail it beats Piloswine and Shelgon, which Smack Down cannot replicate. And while they otherwise share the same meta relevant wins, DT Aggy typically has a few more HP left than SD variants. As for the charges, while Thunder would seem to have notable advantages against Waters, much like with Linoone, that doesn’t hold up in reality. Stone Edge and Heavy Slam seem to be the way to go.
Body Slam & Heavy Slam
As with Aggron, Lairon’s best role is as a Charm and Poison slayer; both are among the very hardest counters to things like Alolan Ninetales, Skuntank, Granbull, and Delcatty (and Piloswine, for good measure). Unfortunately, despite the nice charge move options, Lairon cannot do much more than that. Aggron is slightly more versatile and better overall, but if you’ve been waiting to throw a Lairon out there, this is by far your best chance yet!
Crunch & Poison Fang
Ice Fang seems like the best fast move to go with, with the ability to freeze out the Nidoroyalty and Shelgon, but there is consideration for Thunder Fang to pick off Bibarel and Vaporeon. While Ice Fang looks okay-ish across the rest of Ferocious Cup, its inability to beat much else in the core meta is of serious concern. I’ve been itching to try out Mightyena myself, but even with the full suite of Fangs available now, it looks, once again, frustratingly lackluster.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
The 10k moves are pretty easy to justify, but here is where the real decision making starts to come in to play. 50,000 dust is not something easily tossed away. There are many eligible ‘mons in Sinister in this category that are potentially worth it, and here they are!
Bone Club & Earthquake
That’s right… the regular one. With its lousy Mud Slap and all, Wak still somehow manages to claw its way to over a 70% win percentage, which is significantly higher than its spooky coison from the Alola region. (It helps that all three types that resist Ground attacks–Grass, Bug, and Flying–are banned in Ferocious.) KayWak beats down anything and everything Electric, Poison, Fire, Rock, or Steel. Seriously, all of them. The only one that can realistically force even a tie is Alolan Sandslash. Just look at the core meta to see what that list includes, and note that other stuff like A-Raticate and Delcatty are on there too. This is not a joke… regular old Marowak, with no coverage moves and one of the most mediocre fast moves in the game, is one of the more potent picks in Ferocious Cup, trailing only Donphan among the crowded Ground field. As a Ground, though, it needs to steer clear of Water and (most) Ice and even Charm.
Bone Club & Shadow Ball
Yep, he’s second fiddle among the Wak Bros this time. But he’s far from useless. With Fire Spin as the clear favored fast move this month, A-Wak’s performance against the core meta is actually superior to his Kantorian cousin, and considering the things it takes out (including Donphan, A-Tails, Granbull, Shelgon, etc.), the two Waks actually cover each other pretty well, with KayWak handling Rocks and Electrics and Darks (like Skuntank and T-Tar and A-Rat), and A-Wak besting the Ices and Charmers that KayWak can’t handle. Of course Water is the lone, glowing exception, and that’s a bad one to be vulnerable to in this format. Still, it’s a fun idea that both Wak Bros could be run out there together and that it may actually be a very viable strategy!
Heavy Slam & Earthquake
Finally, it is Donny’s time to shine. With Counter as the preferred fast move (one of only TWO Pokemon in the whole Cup that have it), he has a very robust win percentage of nearly 75% in Ferocious Cup. Donny beats all Rocks, all Steels, all Normals but Grass Knot Linoone, all Darks but Umbreon (and even that one is SO close), and all Ices but Piloswine and half-Fairy A-Tails, as well as the Electrics. Again, though, it wants no parts of the Waters.
With Charm as the fast move, it actually works best as a completely different animal, as Play Rough suddenly emerges as the favored charge move (and the only one needed). The biggest thing of note is that it’s a Charmer that actually beats noted Fairy slayer Skuntank. Well I thought it was interesting, at least! Overall, you’re probably keeping Donphan as a rare Counter user and leaving Charm games to the Fairies, but it IS an option.
Earthquake & Rock Tomb
With all these Ground types being so potent, regular Sandslash gets to join the party too. Its claim to fame over the others? Mud Shot, which quickly powers up Earthquakes to the tune of a 70% win rate overall and the most 1v1 shield wins against the core meta than any of the Ground options above… 16 wins/ties against only 9 losses. And this is something that was probably one of your first evolves ever in this game! Rather than go through yet another long list of what it beats, I encourage you to look through those links and see all that it can do. I’ll just specifically point out A-Tails and Shelgon, a pair that no Ground type has any business beating, but Sandslash does anyway. Rock Tomb, by the way, is just here (over Bulldoze) to have a legit threat against Ice types that can otherwise prey on Ground types unhindered.
Ice Punch & Bulldoze
Both Marowaks AND both Sandslashes work for this Cup! I spent some extra time praising A-Slash in Sinister Cup, with the still-new Ice Punch making its stock soar, and that’s the case here too. Ground types, beware! (Well, not you I guess, Counter Donny.)
Avalanche & Stone Edge
Premiere Poison slayer. Just look at the top of that list: Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Skuntank. But of course, it doesn’t end there. With top notch Ice moves, Piloswine also takes down Dragons (like Shelgon) and Grounds (all of them in the Cup, even Donphan with Counter). It also takes down all Electrics and even the Charmers (A-Tails and Granbull). It is unfortunately also vulnerable to the big Waters (sensing a theme there?) and of course wants nothing to do with Fire, but Piloswine is a pretty solid option that you can likely build on the cheap.
A quick note since I know people will ask about Mamoswine: it just does not perform as well, unable to top Donphan or the Charmers. My recommendation is to just build a Piloswine instead.
Nidoking & Nidoqueen
Earth Power & Earthquake/Stone Edge
Lumping them together because they both beat basically the same things. King is at its best with Legacy Fury Cutter, but it can achieve 90% of the same performance with Poison Jab if need be. At that point, though, I’d recommend just going with Queen and her superior bulk (and coverage move Stone Edge). At the end of the day though, King and Queen both beat Electrics and Charmers (and Normals that rely on Electric and/or Fairy moves), Donphan, Skuntank, Fires (excluding Ninetales, and we’ll see in a moment why), Rocks, and other various meta relevant things. They’re pretty versatile and even though their fast moves don’t have distinct typing advanatages in this Cup, they’re solid and quick to charge up their potent charge moves. The Nidoroyals have never been closer to the core meta than they have opportunity to be here.
Psyshock & FlamethrowerL/Solar Beam
We’ll get to its Alolan cousin later, but for now, behold the best Fire type in Ferocious Cup. Fire Spin and Psyshock alone take down the Nidoroyals and every relevant Ice type except the Rock-packing Swines (yep, including Tails’ own cousin), as well as outmuscleing Donphan and Raichu and Delcatty and others in neutral-on-neutral shoving matches. A closing Solar Beam nuke can bring in wins against Piloswine and A-Rat, or if you’re lucky enough to have the Legacy Flamethrower, you can also pull in wins against stuff like Minun and Furret too. Yes, there are no Grasses or Bugs to set ablaze, and few super effective targets in general for Fire, but with Psyshock, Tails can make a big impact anyway. If you already built one for Rainbow Cup or other tournaments last season, rejoice! You may be able to throw it right back into the breach here. Just don’t let it get wet….
Earthquake & Solar Beam
Gonna make this one fast: it’s a ho-hum Fire type that does okay in Ferocious thanks to its bulk allowing it to actually reach its sloooooow charge moves. Pretty much the same thing Torkoal does in every Cup it’s in. No, I’m not making this one quick just because I’m bitter about still not having one!
…okay, yes I am. A little.
Body Slam & Earth Power
This one you likely have NOT yet built, but you may want to if you can. Hippo packs a wallop here, taking down all Electrics, Donny, A-Tails, Stank, A-Rat, Catty and a variety of other meta-relevant things. Yes, it’s also weak to Water, but don’t go running off to get Thunder Fang thinking that will change that. (Spoiler alert: it won’t.) I think Fire Fang is what you want here; with Ice Fang you do pick up the Nidoroyalty, but at the costly… well, cost of losing Alolan Ninetales. Not worth it in my book, but if that works better for your team, Ice is certainly viable.
Surf & Fill-in-the-blank
That’s right… it’s Surf, of all things, that Rhyperior really wants here, and after seeing all the stuff above that loses to Water, you can probably imagine why. The second move choice almost seems irrelevant (they all come out with these same results against the core meta), but IMO, Earthquake is probably still best overall considering it will never be resisted in Ferocious Cup. Your call though, as Stone Edge and Skull Bash are certainly fine moves in their own right.
Rhydon is just a worse Rhyperior here. The only thing is really has going for it is a unique win against A-Rat with Legacy Megahorn (a legit threat to Darks in general), but that’s starting to feel like grasping at straws, isn’t it?
Crunch & Close Combat
He’s a Charmer first and foremost. That has value which you can see for yourself by looking over that linked list. The only one I will specifically point out is the win against Bibarel, which the other Charmers all struggle with. As with most other Charmers, the charge moves are almost irrelevant, at least for the initial battle, but Crunch is one you may legit get to fire TWICE on the next ‘mon up before dying, and Close Combat, as a Fighting move, could really catch some players unawares if their followup play is a Steel or Ice or something normally pretty safe from Fairies. More than likely Wigglytuff and Clefable and others will be back to push Granbull back out of the picture in future Cups, so if you have a Bull you’ve been itching to use, this is your chance!
Crunch & Flamethrower/Sludge Bomb
…with Poison Jab being the best fast move. Stank has been a real terror in past, Season 1 Cups, but here he’s a bit more tame, in large part because of all the Ground types around. It does count Bibarel and A-Tails and A-Wak among its more notable wins, as well as the most relevant Normals (Linoone, Furret, Delcatty, Lickitung, etc.), but it’s merely an average-to-okay option here as opposed to the core meta threat it’s been in the past.
Discharge & Thunderbolt
Still a solid Electric option to combat those nasty Waterses, Precious, but doesn’t particularly stand out, IMO. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
Start the breathing exercises, because now we’re getting into some expensive decisions. Thankfully, this month, there are only a handful of truly relevant ‘mons in this category, and they can all arguably run with just a single charge move in a pinch. Let’s look into the why and how of that….
Aqua Tail & Last ResortL/Hydro Pump
The time has finally come for an Eevolution other than Umbreon to rise to the top of a Silph Arena Cup. Vaporeon is officially a top tier option in Ferocious Cup. Like other Waters, it has a key role in keeping the Grounds (and Rocks and Fires) in check, and it does, beating every single one, including the core ones like Donphan and both Marowaks and both Sandslashes and both Nidoroyals and Piloswine… all of them. It also conveniently holds down stuff like Granbull and Delcatty and ties A-Tails. Aqua Tail is a must, and Last Resort is a nice second move if you can get it. Otherwise, Hydro Pump is fine for its nuke ability (and lets it potentially beat Umbreon, which is a nice perk). If you’re on a tight budget, even a Vaporeon with just Aqua Tail does nearly everything you want Vape to do anyway, so consider it if 75,000 dust is understandably just too much too ask.
Foul Play & Last ResortL
Here, the second move is again kinda sorta optional. With Last Resort, Umbreon picks up some key wins against other Darks, like A-Rat and Stank. But Dark Pulse really brings nothing to the table here… if you can’t get Last Resort, then Foul Play (paired with the improved Snarl for the fast move) really does everything else you need. Umbreon is currently ranked as the 1 Pokemon in Ferocious Cup, and it’s not hard to see why when you look at its dominant performance against the entire field and also against the core meta. Finding something that can reliably beat Umbry is going to be key in November, because very little Fighting and Bug in this format, really only Charmers scare it. (Which makes A-Tails and Granbull and even Delcatty important, and Charm Donny a consideration.) A handful of other things can beat it, like Suicune, Stank (again, only if Umbry lacks Last Resort), and interestingly, Minun (rather than BB Raichu, which you would think should), and A-Slash and Vape can take it right down to the wire. But that’s not a ton. Fairy and what Fighting is available will be very important, and Umbreon is the reason why.
Crunch & Stone Edge
First, the ugly: Tyranitar has a sub-50% win rate in Ferocious Cup, and against the core meta, it’s not even 25%. But there’s more to it than that. T-tar defeats all the other relevant Darks, including a very solid win over Umbreon. It is a Top 3 counter to Umbry, falling behind only Charmers A-Tails and Granbull. It also beats all the Fires… but that really is about all it does of significance. This isn’t Twilight 2.0 where Rock and Dark have pretty wide coverage… the Tyrant is very niche here. But it’s an important niche! And by the way, it does all of this with just Crunch. While Stone Edge is a nice-to-have, yet again, you can get by without shelling out for that second move. CD move Smack Down is obviously a must, though… Bite is a complete no go this time around.
100,000 Dust/100 Candy
The ultimate splurge. Take that potential savings from the section above and apply it here, because there is one top dog to seriously consider here….
Bubble Beam & Hydro Pump
I’ll keep this simple: Suicine good. Suicune really good. In some ways, having Snarl rather than a traditional Water move holds it back, but not very much. It still beats all the Grounds, Rocks, Fires… all the things you need a Water to handle in this Cup. It also beats the Charmers and Vaporeon AND Umbreon. But you NEED two moves here: Bubble Beam for baiting and that sweet debuff, and Hydro Pump for the killing blow. I DID look at Ice Beam and other fast moves, but they’re all inferior overall. S/BB/HP is the way to go.
The other Beasts fall a bit short. Entei is a decent Fire type, but it doesn’t really stand out; there are cheaper options, as detailed above. So, too, with Raikou. You gotta love the moves (Thunder Shock AND Wild Charge AND Shadow Ball!), but it just doesn’t translate to the type of performance you want to see for that kind of investment; again, other Electrics I talked about above are better, and much cheaper.
New section this time! Here I’m going to list stuff that may look relatively cheap looking at just the cost for a second charge move (or not even requiring a second move at all!), but due to stats, have to be at or very near Level 40 to really be viable. Obviously that’s a steep cost in candy AND dust, so if you want to use these, give strong consideration to looking for them in a Lucky trade. Good luck!
Delcatty (max CP: 1496)
Disarming Voice (& maybe Wild Charge)
As with most Charmers and Razor Leafers, Delcatty sims best without any charge moves, as the slooooooow charge of Charm usually means it’s best to finish something off with fast moves alone and save any charge move(s) for the next ‘mon up. And as you can see in that link, Delcatty does Charmer things (beating Dragons, Darks, and other relevant things like Vape and Swine and Donny and Raichu, and tying A-Tails) without having the normal Charmer weakness to Poison and Steel and such. (And resisting Ghost moves like Shadow Claw, too!) Though adding a charge move appears to reduce the wins, that’s obviously not the case… just store energy to fire those moves on the second Pokemon Delcatty faces. Fun fact: Disarming Voice is a Fairy clone of Foul Play/Crunch and probably the best Fairy move available… if you’re going with just one charge move, that’s what I’d shoot for. If you’re going for two… well, you already know what good Wild Charge can do.
Lickitung (max CP: 1411)
Power Whip & Stomp
And here, finally, is an unlikely Water slayer. Paired with Lick, Power Whip rips through Vaporeon and Suicune and Floatzel (though interesting, NOT Bibarel), as well as all Rocks and most Grounds (the Nidoroyals and Counter Donphan can emerge victorious). It beats both Marowaks, Delcatty, Granbull, and Torkoal as well among the more “meta” picks. Yes, I’m talking about perennial joke Lickitung, who doesn’t even reach 1500 CP.
Bulldoze & Horn Attack/Stomp
No, that’s not a typo. I really mean Rhyhorn. Just check it out for yourself. Again, Ground types–even those saddled with Mud Slap–are good in a Cup with no Bugs or Grasses or Flyers that resist. And you gotta like the charge moves Rhyhorn has available. Who would ever expect Horn Attack to show up in a Cup? It’s been a long article already, so again, I’ll just let the results (this time against the core meta) speak for themselves. The lowest evolution in this family of three rhinos is legit viable… moreso than Rhydon! You CAN get a weather boosted one with high IVs that requires no further leveling up and really performs just fine (see?), but more than likely you’re going to pump one up into the high 30s to make it useable. But still, what a flex, eh?
Well I goofed this month. This section is usually for the various Pokemon that don’t require a second move (and obviously save you precious dust in the process), but I’ve kinda already been doing that throughout with some of the analysis above (Vaporeon, Tyranitar, Granbull, etc.). But there is one more to highlight:
Psyshock OR Ice Beam
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the overall top Charmer in Ferocious Cup, and a Top 5 option overall. All A-Tails needs is Charm and Psyshock to do what it does. And what it does it wallop the Darks, Shelgon, most Electrics, and importantly, all the other Charmers. That’s right: A-Tails does the typical Charmer job AND defeats all its peers. That’s what makes it, in my book, the top Charmer in the Cup.
In the interest of time and space, I have opted to skip the Didn’t Make The Cut section, so if it’s not listed, it…well, didn’t make the cut. Sims and/or stats were not kind to those not on this list, but do feel free to ask if you think I missed something obvious!
I’m not the team building expert (“Damnit Jim, I’m an author, not a team builder!”), but I would say, based on what I’m seeing, that Umbreon (or possibly A-Rat), 1-2 Grounds, at least one good Water (mostly to control the Grounds), a good Water counter (like an Electric) and/or a good Dark counter (Charmer?), and a flex or two is probably a good, basic team structure to start your teambuilding with. It is a very varied meta without a clear “rock paper scissors”, which is good, but there ARE definitely close ties with Electric vs Water vs Ground, and Fairy vs Dark, among others. It will be fascinating to see what team structures come out of this at the end of the day!
Otherwise… that’s a wrap! As with all my articles, take all of this with a big grain of salt. I’m not trying to persuade you one way or the other, and of course everybody’s dust situations are different. But if you don’t have a dust pool/vault resembling that of Scrooge McDuck, then perhaps this can help you balance the cost of where to be thrifty with your hard-earned dust (and candy!).
Before I go, I want to extend my thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last several months and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And my thanks to all of you, for your own encouragement and support throughout Season 1 and now into Season 2.
If you have questions or comments, please let me know on the Nifty or Thrifty Reddit thread!
JRE has been playing Pokémon GO since the beginning, but never imagined he’d get so into PvP. In starting his own research, deep into the Silph Arena metas, he decided to share his findings so other players could benefit, which turned into full fledged articles, which multiplied like rabbits. He’s now been writing multiple regular article series since Tempest Cup, focused on advanced matchups and budget friendly but still viable alternatives for veteran and rookie players alike. He likes powering up oddball Pokémon, reading a good book, spending time with his kids, dad jokes, piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.
You can follow him on Twitter: @JRESeawolf or reach out on Discord: JRESeawolf#8349