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The Silph League Arena

Nifty or Thrifty

Dec 18, 2019: Nifty Or Thrifty: Fusion 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 Fusion 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 still very 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, just to warn you up front! But I’ll try to keep it entertaining, too. 😃

Before we dive in, let’s quickly define what Fusion Cup is. As described on the main Fusion Cup page, Fusion Cup is the first format that is limited to dual-typed Pokemon, so resistances and vulnerabilities may end up being more important than ever, since dual-types often double or even TRIPLE resist certain attacks… or are double or triple *weak* to certain attacks. Perhaps a bit more blowout potential than usual on the horizon.

The other big rule will likely be a very welcome one: no Pokemon with a second move cost over 50,000 dust are permitted. That includes those with a 75k+ cost that have a pre-evolution of 50k or below, such as those that could get the “Baby Discount”. (No Mantine, for example, even though the baby pre-evolution of it–Mantyke–has only a 10,000 dust cost for the second move.) This is going to change the normal format of this article too, as EVERYTHING is pretty thrifty!

There are a few specific bans. While some of the powerhouses you’d normally worry about like Skarmory, Sableye, Bastiodon, Tropius, and of course all mythicals and legendaries are already excluded due to the 50k second move cutoff, Team Silph also has specifically banned the following (and I will provide links to show how powerful they’d be if allowed):

But that’s it! Pretty simple format to wrap the head around: duals only with cheaper second moves and an exclusion list you can count on one hand, even if you lost a finger to a barracuda in a horrible fishing mishap in your youth. Ahem. Moving on then….

So with 50,000 dust being the ceiling for second charge moves, I am going to place a little extra emphasis on the 10,000 dust category, since it’s the only chance we really have to be thrifty here. And fortunately, there are a ton to choose from. Let’s dive in!

 

NIFTY

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

Typically I am going to recommend anything here be double moved, because they all benefit and the cost is so cheap to do so. This category is really where “nifty” and “thrifty” meet in the middle. But I will try to focus on the Pokemon that seem the most viable in Fusion.

Altaria

Dragon Breath | Sky Attack & Dragon Pulse

He’s back! Everyone’s favorite PvP Dragon makes its first Season 2 appearance with pretty clear skies ahead of it. Many of its past counters are gone. No Bastiodon or Steelix to pull it back down to earth, no Skarmory or other Dragons to challenge its air superiority. The biggest threats it faces are Ice and Fairy… of the mere fifth of the meta that can overcome Alt, well over half do so because of Ice and/or Fairy moves. Avoid those, and it can run over much of the rest of the format. I strongly suspect Alt will be as important in Fusion as Dragonair is in Timeless: not *strictly* necessary, but playing on hard mode to try and win without it. Thankfully you can get a Swablu around or below Level 30 that’s ready out of the gate to evolve to a Great League ready Altaria, and of course, it’s cheap to add the second move from there, so this is a LOT easier to build than ‘Nair or most other central ‘mons have been in the past. Rejoice at the savings!

Charizard

Fire Spin | Blast Burnᴸ & Dragon Claw

Yep, the starters and their broken Community Day moves are always going to show up when eligible. And Charizard gets first mention because Fire types could make an very good Altaria bodyguard, since they beat the Ices and Fairies that terrorize Alt otherwise. Because this will likely end up as one of Fire’s bigger roles, I personally strongly recommend Fire Spin this month over Air Slash and the popular Legacy Wing Attack/Flamethrower variants. (Though it is of note that there are new potentials with the recently buffed Overheat. 🤔) Zard obviously still has to worry about the always popular Waters and things like Altaria itself that resist Fire damage, but beyond those it looks to have a lot of room to roam in this meta. Fire could end up being more important than we’re used to it being, and Zard is always a top contender among them, especially with all the mono-Fire alternatives we’re used to being excluded.

Blaziken

Counter/Fire Spin | Blast Burnᴸ & Blaze Kick

While Blaze is known for its unique ability to Counter things to death–and that continues to make it especially brutal to Ices and things Zard struggles with like Probopass and Magneton–I do wonder if this could finally be the Cup that sees Fire Spin Blaze as a legit alternative. With Fire types being relatively scarce, having a non-Flying (and thus not weak to Magneton and such) Fire type that can throw Blast Burns around has real value, and the pure Fire damage of Fire Spin sims a hair better against the core meta than Counter because of the greater number of things weak to Fire versus Fighting damage. Time will tell–don’t TM away Counter or anything, at least not yet–but it’ll be one to keep an eye on as the meta unfolds. Either way, Blaziken is one of a very small handful of usable Fires in Fusion, a group which I think you can again count on that barracuda-marred hand (and perhaps even if another digit was later lost to a crocodile along with a tick-tocking clock).

Swampert

Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake/Muddy Water

If the Fires rise up, of course the Waters and Grounds will rise up to face it. And with a more varied meta (aka Grass being more diluted), the infamous Mud Boys are sure to make some noise yet again. They are again all going to be close to each other in performance, though this feels to me like one of those metas where even the awesomeness of Hydro Cannon cannot overcome Swampert’s lack of a good coverage (read as: anti-Altaria) move. Fire MAY break out a bit, and Swampy is your best option of the three in the anti-Fire role, but there’s really nothing else that Cannon hits super effectively. Altaria resists all of its best moves.

Whiscash

Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Blizzard

Yeah, may as well cover the other cheapo Mud Boy now. Whiscash’s advantages are two-fold. Mud Bomb is one, giving it great Ground damage spammability and making it a top notch counter to Steels (hello, Bronzong and Probopass), Fires, Electrics, and (non-Grass) Poisons. But even better, it’s great at setting up a closing Blizzard, which lets it still take down big Flyers like Altaria and Charizard and Togekiss despite its fast AND primary charge moves being resisted. Blizzard will OHKO a LOT of things if you sneak it around shields, and is a huge part of what makes Cash generally the most desired Mud Boy by the most experienced players. The Mud Boys are all close, but this feels like one of those Cups where Cash (slightly) separates itself from the pack yet again here.

Empoleon

Waterfall | Flash Cannon & Hydro Cannonᴸ/Hydro Pump

Still stuck without its own Community Day, Empoleon continues to plod along in medioctiry, pining for the day it can take full advantage of its unique typing and… oh, wait a second. What month is Fusion taking place again? January… right right right. And January Community Day is supposed to be… uh… OH! It’s finally The Emperor’s turn! NOW we are talking! And it looks great against the early guess at the core meta as well. Empoleon flirts with viability before its long-awaited Community Day, but after it receives Hydro Cannon… look out.

Venusaur

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb

Yeah, no reason not to give Venu serious consideration yet again. With its typical broken Frenzy Plant and fantastic second move in Sludge Bomb giving it wins over other Grasses and helping even the odds even in bad matchups, Venusaur looks as dominant as ever, shining against Water, Ground, Grass, Electric, AND Fairy (thanks, Poison!), and even tying the likes of Probopass, Sealeo, Haunter, Piloswine, Froslass, and even Fire starter Blaziken. You may be sick of seeing it, but that’s too bad… you’ll be seeing a lot of it yet again.

Yes, Ivysaur is an okay fill in again, but after this past Community Day weekend, you really ought to have a Venusaur by now!

Torterra

Razor Leaf | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sand Tomb

Venusaur and Torterror are your only Grass starters eligible, and also two of only a partial handful (yep, the barracudahand will do once again) of Grasses available with a 10k second move in the whole Cup. Torterra is no Venusaur, but it is very unique with its Grass/Ground typing, making it a premiere counter to Electrics (triple resistance) and particularly good against things like Probopass while keeping up the jobs of a typical Razor Leafer. Doesn’t do a whole lot outside of that, but if you’re looking for a RLer, Torterra offers some very unique utility, especially with the cheap new Sand Tomb(only Tomber in the Cup, for what that’s worth).

Magcargo

Rock Throw/Ember | Stone Edge & Overheat

Maybe THIS will be Mr. (or Mrs.!) Cargo’s moment at last? I have semi-hyped Magcargo in the past, but with so few Fires here and TONS of Flyers to chuck rocks at, might this finally be the Cup where my hopes and predictions come true? Consider this: with JUST Rock Throw, Mags takes down ever Flyer (yes, including Altaria AND Fairy (thanks to Fire typing) in the Cup, AND every relevant Ice but Piloswine and A-Slash, AND all Bugs but Fighting Heracross. Interested yet? Good, because there’s a second flavor that also works: Ember, combined with Stone Edge and suddenly relevant, reworked Overheat. With that set it unfortunately gives up the Krows, Staraptor, and Altaria, but now beats all Fairies and now all Ices (except irrelevant Walrein) and still all Bugs but Heracross and Armaldo… and now beats the vast majority of Grasses (including new hotness Snarly Shiftry, typically by going straight Ember spam, with only Venusaur, Alolan Exeggutor, Ludicolo, and sometimes oddball Cradily being safe. You probably noticed I posted a lot more specifics and simming here, because I want to make sure Magcargo isn’t overlooked… if it doesn’t do it THIS Cup, I will finally stop beating the drum. Give it a good, hard look in Fusion, because I know I will be!

Bibarel

Water Gun | Surf & Hyper Fang

Ferocious Cup’s fan favorite is back! While the little guy can’t match its Ferocious dominance, he’s still a very solid Water option and can take out such notables as Probopass, A-Tails, most Ices, and all Fires (even Counter Blaziken, despite Bib’s Normal sub-typing). Bibarel isn’t overly exciting, I’ll admit, but there’s a good chance you already have one built and it can still take a big enough bite out of the meta to be worthy of consideration. Especially if you just really like it… this IS a game, after all, right?

Alolan Raticate

Quick Attack | Crunch & Hyper Fang

Hyper Fangers unite! A-Rat doesn’t really have a set role in a meta like this, but what it does is just outbulk a wide range of things, I won’t go through the whole list, as you can just read through that yourself, but it’s a nice list that reaches across a number of categories, from Psychics to Fires to Flyers to Mud Boys to Grasses to Poisons and back again. If you need to fill a hole on your team, Fat Rat may be able to do it nicely.

Galarian Linoone

Shadow Claw | Grass Knot & Dig/Thunder

I don’t want to go TOO far down this road, since it’s not (yet) in the game, but it appears to be coming, and in this format, it lets us sneak in the goodness of Linoone despite regular Linoone itself being excluded. Assuming the moveset currently coded remains, G-noone looks pretty nice as another wild card in the same vein as A-Rat. I have a sneaking suspicion Niantic is just waiting to get past the Christmas season to throw the rest of the Galarian evolutions out there, so if they do, you know what to do in *this* case!

Alolan Rocks

Rock Throw | Rock Blast & Stone Edge/Wild Charge

Unfortunately they’re not as good here as you might think, even with really good IVs. While they DO beat nearly all Bugs and every Flyer, they struggle against the ones you really care about most: Togekiss and Altaria. The Rock Boys are nice and cheap, and technically handle the role you’d bring them for, but unlike in Jungle Cup, there are just better options, I think.

As far as Rocks go, Kanto Graveler/Golem and even Aggron and Lairon just don’t really hack it here. They are mere specialists, and not great ones at that. You can do better.

Alolan Raichu

Thunder Shock | Thunder Punch & Grass Knot/Psychic/Wild Charge

As much as I love the Chus, the story is sadly the same here as with the Alolan Rocks… it does some nice things, just not quite enough. Really struggles against ‘Kiss now and can’t top Altaria. The good news is that its Psychic sub-typing makes it good against stuff like Toxicroak and Bronzong (whoa, Nightmare Cup déjà vu), and it can handle SOME of the Waters, but not the many popular Mud Boys. Like, not even close. Electric isn’t the greatest typing in this Cup, it would seem.

Wigglytuff

Charm | Play Rough & Ice Beam

Queen of Jungle Cup, Wrecker of Established Metas, Champion Charmer of the Thrifty. (And yes, Wiggly is here to Charm. Don’t try and get cute with different fast moves.) Just because she’s cheap, though, doesn’t mean Wiggly is any worse than other Fairies. Quite the contrary: Wiggly looks to have the best and most consistent results against the core meta, at least as long as you have a shield available. (And as is often the case with Charm, often the best approach is to go straight Charm and save all energy for charge moves for the next ‘mon up.) Altaria HATES it, as does anything part-Fighting, but just as it did in Jungle, Wiggly beats a lot of varied things just through sheer force of will…and the biggest HP this side of Blissey. If you’ve got your top five solidified and just don’t know how to fill that sixth and final slot on the team, Wigglytuff is probably always a good answer.

Golbat

Wing Attack | Shadow Ball & Poison Fang/Ominous Windᴸ

Of course, the Charmers have their fatal flaw, and a good Poison type is one of them. And even though it has only the low-power Poison Fang as its only Poison move, Golbat is just that: a good Poison type. Fairies hate it, Grass hate it, and with the added benefit of Flying type damage and a killer closing move with Shadow Ball, Fighters and Mud Boys and even the Dark/Poisons fall before this pesky little bat too. There’s a lot of core meta stuff in that group, stuff you WILL see in tournaments, so as has been the case in Twilight and other Cups of the past, overlook Golbat at your own peril.

One close-ish comp is one of my personal faves: Beedrill. It pains me to say it, but Golbat is just better. Bee’s “best” projected moveset is very funky, and more limited than Golbat. This looks to be one for Beedrill to sit out.

Ariados

Infestation | Cross Poison & Megahorn

I will be honest: I’m not enthused about even getting close to recommending this one, because it’s… well, Ariados. But I try to be impartial in these presentations, and the numbers say Ariados is worth mentioning. It pretty reliably takes down Grasses and Fairies, which is all you could ask of your Poison, plus a few other relevant ‘mons as well. Like I said, I’m not passionate about this one, but those are the facts!

Masquerain

Air Slash | Ominous Wind & Silver Wind

Okay, even through the numbers look a tiny bit worse than Ariados, I feel a little better about recommending Masq. A solid fast move and TWO charge moves that offer very wide coverage and both have a chance of triggering a game-altering boost. It’s another cheap, solid Grassassin and Fighting slayer with the added benefit of topping Swampert and Marshtomp. Nothing that particularly stands out over other similar options, but a nice variety of moves that, again, can go off for big benefits at any time.

Noctowl

Wing Attack | Sky Attack & Psychic

Last group for the 10ks… the big birds that eat those Bugs. And Mr. Owl does that very well–gobbling up every single Bug in the Cup–plus ALL Grasses and Fighters, as well as a number of their direct counters like Golbat and every single Fire type (except rock-chucking Magcargo), plus others like Togekiss and A-Muk and at least two of the primary Mud Boys (surviving even a Whiscash Blizzard to the face!). Noctowl is a flying tank, plain and simple, and has only gotten better with a legit second move now (the improved Psychic), something we never had in Jungle when Mr. Owl made its greatest impact to date. Fusion Cup has the potential to be even better.

There are other super cheap Normal Flyers available, of course, the best once again being Legacy Pidgeot, just like back in Jungle Cup. Keep an eye on the newer Tranquill too, who has Sky Attack going for it and is a hair better than its evolution Unfezant. One continued disappointment is Staraptor, who doesn’t even benefit from the boost to Close Combat. Sad.


50,000 Dust/50 Candy

Usually these are considered “thrifty”, but this month, it’s the expensive category! I tried to present what I believe is a wide range of very good 10k Pokemon, but of course, there are some gems you can only find by loosening the purse strings a bit. So what have we got among the *lavish* ‘mons to choose from? 🤑

Kingdra

Dragon Breath/Waterfall | Outrage & Octazooka

I started the 10ks off with their big Dragon, so may as well kick off the 50ks the same way. However, Kingdra is no Altaria in Fusion Cup. Surprisingly, it actually looks more promising with Waterfall as the fast move rather than Dragon Breath, though honestly? I know many are coming off success with Kingdra in Timeless and hoping to ride that another month, but I don’t think this is the ~~droid~~ dragon you’re looking for. Move along, move along….

The same goes for Alolan Exeggutor. The double resistance to Water nets it some good wins, but it all falls apart after that. Altaria is the only Dragon worth anything this month.

Alolan Marowak

Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Ball

As good or even better than Charizard, A-Wak looks like a terror in yet another Cup this Season. Grasses, Fairies, Steels, Ices, Fighters, other Fires… A-Wak keeps them ALL up at night. With powerful Fire Spins and great bait potential with Bone Club to set up crushing Shadow Balls, A-Wak is a menace to anything unprepared for it… and even many that ARE prepared. Alolan Marowak WILL be a force to be reckoned with in January, no doubt. Be prepared to face down many of them and plan accordingly. (Water and Altaria make it wilt, among other things.)

Houndoom

Snarl | Flamethrower & Crunch/Foul Play

Say hello to the last semi-usable Fire we’ll be covering. That said, Houndoom operates more as a Dark with Fire gimmicks than a true Fire type. It benefits from the now-better Snarl and the recent-ish addition of Flamethrower, but its real bread and (melted) butter is Crunch and Foul Play. By the way, did you know those two moves are literal clones of each other in PvP? Go look it up. Kinda surprised Niantic hasn’t done something about that. Anyway, the fact that I’m rambling on about that probably tells you I’m not super excited about ‘Doom, and you’d be right for thinking that way. Dark doesn’t do a whole lot in this meta, and Zard and even Blaze do everything Fiery that you’d want Houndoom to be around for. It’s viable, but doesn’t particularly excel in any set role.

Magneton

Thunder Shock | Magnet Bomb & Zap Cannon/Discharge

Yes, you really still want (Legacy) Thunder Shock. BUT, according to what I’m seeing so far in sims, you may be fine–even better off–with Zap Cannon, of all things, over Legacy Discharge. See for yourself. Magnet Bomb is key to pound on Ices and Fairies, but setting up a closing Cannon is what brings down heavy hitters like Altaria, Bronzong, A-Muk, Probopass, and others. I know, I was surprised too, but I’m just here to present the facts. And the fact seems to be that you do NOT want Discharge so much this month.

Magnezone

Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge/Zap Cannon

Similar to its pre-evolution, ‘Zone is able to potentially set up a killshot with Zap Cannon via baiting (and potential opponent debuffing) with the brand new Mirror Shot. With Wild Charge rather than Cannon, you pick up a few different meta wins (Froslass and A-Slash being the most notable), but give up Bronzong and a couple others to get there. Considering the Zap Cannon variant can take down Zong AND Altaria AND many of Alt’s primary counters, Cannon is probably preferrable, but both are very viable. Zap Cannon making its presence known in Great League on *multiple* ‘mons… what strange times we live in!

Probopass

Rock Throw/Thunder Shock | Magnet Bomb & Thunderbolt/Rock Slide

With the moves, wow, there are a lot of good combos. While Rock Throw/Magnet Bomb/Thunderbolt has the best overall numbers, resembling a souped up Magneton in many ways, But if you play around with the moves in that linked sim, you’ll see that basically any moveset that includes Magnet Bomb is RIGHT there with it, with very little variance in the end results. So I’ll just say that Probo is generally very good at taking down Altaria and anything else Flying, Ices, Fairies, Poisons, and generally even most of the Grasses (despite having NO moves that are super effective against Grass).

Bronzong

Confusion | Psyshock & Bulldoze

I am seriously contemplating just letting the results speak for themselves. I mean, it’s pretty clear Zong is a beast in this format, beating basically anything not Fire, Ground, or Dark/Ghost, including the mighty Altaria through brute strength. Need I really say more? 🤔 I’ll just say that you very likely want a Zong on your team in January.

Claydol

Confusion | Earth Power & Psychic/Gyro Ball

If you really want to forgo using Zong for some reason, Dol is the closest fill in, though it lacks the same desirable typing. Still manages to hold some important wins, like Alt and Fighters and Owl and Probopass and Bronzong itself, but make no mistake: Zong is just better. If you use Claydol, you may want to get more gimmicky by playing around with its moveset, because it CAN be somewhat unpredictable for the opponent, with the buffed Mud Slap or speedier-to-charge Extrasensory giving it a different flavor than your run of the mill Confusioner. Just a thought!

Gastrodon

Mud Slap | Body Slam & Earth Power/Water Pulse

Just recently welcomed as a true Mud Boy with the buff to Mud Slap, Gastroboy can mostly just Slap and Slam its way to victory over Poisons, Steels, Fires, and other juicy targets like Alolan Sandslash and Poliwrath. A second move brings in a handful of other wins, including Claydol and Froslass, and then either Charizard with Water Pulse or shoring up wins over other Mud Boys (including Whiscash) with Earth Power. Whichever way you go, Gastrodon is a legit option among the Water/Grounds now and looks to be a permanent fixture now whenever eligible.

Quagsire

Mud Shot | Earthquake & Uuuuuuuuuh….

The neverending debate continues… which second move?! 🤷‍♂️ Yeah, I dunno. They all have merit, though Stone Edge still looks to me like the favorite with all the Flyers around here. Indeed, despite its Ground moves being resisted, SE Quag takes down all major Flyers but Altaria, Legacy Pidgeot, and Farfetch’d, as well as doing all the normal Mud Boy things. Don’t know that I need to say much more here… Quag can be kinda polarizing, and if you’re already considering it, you probably already have the battle lines drawn on which moves you’re using, so good luck to you!

Lanturn

Water Gun/Charge Beam | Thunderbolt & Hydro Pump

Another one that should be WELL familiar to players by now. Lanturn plays the typical Water role (mostly anti-Fire, but also most Grounds and Rocks too) with Water Gun and sometimes Hydro Pump, and can zap opposing Waters and Flyers with Thunderbolts. Again, I think everyone knows the basics of what Lanturn does by now, so here is an overall sim just to give you an idea of how it works in Fusion, and I’mma head out to the next one.

Poliwrath

Mud Shot | Ice Punch & Dynamic Punch/Hydro Pump

Rejoice, because now YOU get a Mud Shot Poli, and YOU get a Mud Shot Poli, EVERYONE gets a Mud Shot Poli! And yes, its energy gain is the way to go here. What are we generating for? First and foremost, we need **Ice Punch**, for the very simple reason that Poliwrath can beat Altaria with it, and legit threaten other Flyers. The second move, I think, is between Dynamic Punch and Hydro Pump, with them sharing many wins but the former beating Sealeo, Lanturn, Shiftry, and Blaziken and the latter taking down A-Wak, Charizard, Bronzong, and Claydol. Choose wisely depending on what YOUR team needs more.

Tentacruel

Poison Jab | Acid Spray & Hydro Pump

This month, it looks like Hydro Pump is the clear winner for the second move, dismantling all the Fairies AND Fires AND Fighters (Triple F!), all Ices but Sealeo, and all Bugs but not-great-in-Fusion-anyway Venomoth, plus several prominent Grasses, Flyers, and Poisons. Tenta looks to have a chance to make an even bigger impact than it tried to in Timeless Cup.

Crawdaunt

Waterfall | Night Slash & Crabhammer/Bubble Beam

Crawdaunt just keeps getting better with each update. First it got Crabhammer, then Bubble Beam got changed into a great stat debuffing move, and now even Night Slash has been buffed. Yes, it’s frail, but it takes a lot of GOOD things down with it. Just look at the list for yourself, and if you could use wins against some of those on your team and want to bring some spice that still performs, consider Crawdaunt.

Sealeo

Powder Snow | Body Slam & Water Pulse

Sealeo may not recapture past, widespread success in this Cup, but it is still a fantastic anti-air Pokemon, able to take them all down depending on second move. (It loses to Charizard with Aurora Beam and Vespiquen with Water Pulse, but those are the only exceptions.) It can also handle most Grounds and things like A-Muk and Piloswine and A-Slash, the last of those only with Water Pulse, which–despite being a terrible move–has a slight edge over Aurora Beam in this Cup. Sealeo is more specialist than generalist this month, but still worth consideration.

Victreebel and the Razor Leafers

Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb & Leaf Blade/Seed Bomb (depending on species)

Sounds like an 80s rock band. Anyway, going to lump all of the Razor Leafers together, because they really do all perform very similarly. The fast move itself is doing most of the heavy lifting, but lower cost moves like Leaf Blade (or Seed Bomb) and Sludge Bomb are pretty common across, and if you can’t get two moves like them (I’d say 55 energy at the absolute most), you can definitely consider not even bothering to shell out for a second charge move at all. They will shred through anything Water, the Fairies, and most Grounds plus some other things. For what it’s worth, Vileplume sims the best overall in this meta, and with just one charge move. Hmmmm. 🤔

There are a couple of standouts among this group that I WILL highlight:

Ludicolo

Razor Leaf | Ice Beam (& maybe Hydro Pump)

Really all you need here is Razor Leaf and Ice Beam, but you may as well tack on Hydro Pump in case you ever get to a point where you reach it. Because with its unique typing, there are spots where it actually could. Ludi does typical Leafer things, but is notably THE hardest counter to the Mud Boys and Waters in general, barely getting tickled as it rips them apart. It’s also the only one that carries around an Ice move, and while that may not be used often, it’s a unique threat that has to be properly respected and is very likely to at least draw shields.

Shiftry

Snarl | Leaf Blade & Foul Play

Ah, the Razor Leafer that is no longer really a Razor Leafer. At least, that’s not how you should be using Shifty (not a typo) anymore. I mean, yes, it does that role fine, but what sets Shifty apart now is the addition of Snarl, allowing it to still do typical Razor Leaf things thanks to having the fastest Leaf Blade in the game but also give it a leg up over the other Razor Leafers, since it deals neutral damage and much more frequent charge move pressure than their slow, resisted Leafs. And one massive standout: Shifty can even take down Alolan Marowakwith Fire Spin–and live to tell the tale. (And it gets breathing room with good IVs.) Shiftry actually manages to beat every Ghost and Psychic in the Cup, which is a nice niche for a “Razor Leafer”.

Exeggutor

Confusion | Seed Bomb & Psychic

Another long-time Legacy that everyone can now get their hands on, and just in time for it to potentially make a splash. Eggy takes down all the Fighters and most Poisons with Psychic damage, and most Waters with Grass damage from spammy Seed Bomb. Not much else to say about it, really… it does well as a Confusioner and a Grass, and hits anything that doesn’t resist its moves like a freight train.

Alolan Muk

Poison Jab | Dark Pulse & Sludge Wave

THE standout Dark/Poison this month, A-Muk makes Grasses, Fairies, Ghosts, and even most Ices tremble (as well as, curiously, Noctowl… I guess that thing CAN be outtanked after all!). A-Muk’s wins are more slow and grindy in nature, and it doesn’t blow a lot of things out, but also doesn’t really GET blown out by anything other than Ground. It’s a versatile, safe option in this meta, perfect for using as a safe switch. Keep it in mind as you assemble your team if you need a stopgap on your bench.

Drapion is not eligible, and Skuntank, really for the first time it’s been eligible in a Cup, falls kinda flat here. If you want a D/P in Fusion, I think it’s Muk or bust.

Haunter

Shadow Claw | Shadow Punch & Sludge Bomb/Shadow Ballᴸ

Yep, still a glass cannon that rips through stuff like a hot knife through I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. You ready for the surprise, though? It does it best NOT with Shadow Ball, but arguably with Sludge Bomb. Ball beats Goltbat and Quagsire and CAN possibly outrace Altaria, but Sludge Bomb tacks on the Fairies, several big Grasses, and stuff like Sealeo. I’ll call them both viable, depending on what you need most, though Haunter is not QUITE as feared in this meta as it has been in the rest of Season 2 thus far.

Froslass

Powder Snow | Avalanche & Shadow Ball/Crunch

Honestly, looking at the numbers alone, you might want to move on from Lass. But here again, it’s quality over quantity. Lass is a premiere Altaria killer, as well as swatting just about everything else you fear in the skies, while simultaneously handling other big names like Bronzong, Claydol, Swampert, Toxicroak, and Sealeo. Bring her for the anti-air hate, but those other bonus wins are nice to know about going in.

Honchkrow

Snarl | Sky Attack & Foul Play/Psychic

MAYBE it’s finally time for one of the Krows to make an impact. Sky Attack alone takes cares of Grasses and Bugs, Dark moves take care of Bronzong and Claydol and A-Wak and the like. Even Psychic is viable now. Caw caw!

There are many other Flyers, but none of them really measure up to Honch and the 10k Flyers I highlighted. Ones like Yanma and Xatu are sorta viable, but lag behind the ones I have mentioned and just don’t stand out enough. Well, with one big exception:

Togekiss

Charm | Ancient Power & Flamethrower

As with most Charmers, look first to the Charm-only sim results. Togekiss does what you’d want a Charmer to do–beat down Altaria and Fighters–and also wins the mirror match (assuming the opposing ‘Kiss tries to throw a charge move) and CharmTales too, and as a Flyer, ‘Kiss is less susceptible to the Grass/Poisons (Razor Leafers especially) than the other Fairies. And you gotta love the charge moves you can spring on the next ‘mon up, with things like Ancient Power and Flamethrower and even Aerial Ace if you want to go that route. She may not have the same number of wins as, say, Wigglytuff, but she wins the things you want her for the most and has some nice flexibility the other Fairies lack.

Alolan Ninetales

Charm/Powder Snow | Psyshock & Ice Beam/Blizzard

Which brings us, finally, to A-Tails. She does fine as a Charmer (and is the #1 counter in the Cup to Altaria), but I do wonder if she may have a role (perhaps alongside another Charmer) as an Ice specialist, with Powder Snow powering out hard hitting Blizzards. The sims suggest there may be some merit to that, still taking out Alt and others Flyers, and importantly, many of the poisonous Grasses that might be quickly swapped in to combat it only to realize that it’s a trap. Maybe a gimmick, but one that looks like it’s got real potential.

Alolan Sandslash

Powder Snow/Metal Claw | Ice Punch & Bulldoze/Gyro Ball/Blizzard

A-Slash has been viable a couple times now since it was gifted Ice Punch, and here it is again. The cool (haha… cool) part about it in this Cup is that basically ALL of its moves are viable. The best and most consistent appears to be Powder Snow/Ice Punch/Bulldoze, but as long as it has Ice Punch, it consistently beats Altaria and the Fairies, and the majority of Grasses. I WILL be giving A-Slash its own feature article when I can, because it can beat things ranging from Probopass to Claydol to A-Muk and back again depending on moveset. But the key point, again: Altaria, Fairies, Grass. That’s what A-Slash does very consistently and very efficiently.

Toxicroak

Counter | Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb

Here’s a primary threat to those Ices, though. I’ve looked right past Croak in the past and it keeps jumping (I made another funny!) back into the meta anyway. Not making that mistake again. Croak blows up most anything Ice, Steel, Rock, and/or Dark, and with its poisonous side, it even eliminates all the main Grasses except Exeggutor. And while it cannot stand toe to toe with the Fairies, it can ruin their day too if they swap into a Sludge Bomb. Learn from my past mistakes: NEVER count Toxicroak out.

Heracross

Counter | Megahorn & Close Combat

All those nice things I said about Croak? Finally, this looks to be the meta where Heracross is just better. With the recent buff to Close Combat, Cross finally got the speed it needed to wreck things, taking down the same set of things Croak did, plus some other things like the Mud Boys. Cross cannot bring the same spammy shield pressure, but it gets the wins. Some of us have waited for the right time to unleash Heracross, and it would appear that time has arrived at last.

Venomoth

Silver Wind & Poison Fangᴸ

Not as big here as it’s been in recent memory, but Moth is still very solid as a Grassassin that also hates on many notable Fighters, Poisons, and even all the Charmers. This may not be the month to sell your firstborn trying to acquire one in a trade, but if you have one already, then yes, you can certainly try it out here.

That’s really about it for Bugs, though. Durant looks really interesting and I’d like to examine it more later for those that have access to it, but even things like Vespiquen don’t look great in this meta. Too much Fire and Flying and Rock and such around, I suppose.

And there are still others that are RIGHT on the edge of viability–like Piloswine, Amoongus, Gyarados, Abomasnow, Cradily and the new Galarian Weezing and others–that I wish I could write about too, but I’m just out of time and space (and brain cells!) I tried to be extensive in this write-up, but focus on things that seem to have the best chances of helping you win in January. There are other avenues, of course (and that’s partially what other articles will be for!), but I’m going to stop with what I have for today.

Well, aside from ONE more:


Feelin’ Lucky?

Here I 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!

Farfetch’d (Max CP: 1236)

Air Slash | Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace

My favorite pick for this month’s dark horse wild card is yet another of the many Normal Flyers that maxes out far below 1500 CP. Why? Because Farfetch’d has a very unique tool at its disposal that make it a unique and versatile threat. First off, yes, it does play the typical Flying role by being able to take down every fully evolved Grass, Bug, and Fighter except half-Rock Cradily and Armaldo. But because Farfetch’d is also packing Leaf Blade, it can also defeat nearly all the Grounds (including all the Mud Boys except sometimes Quagsire) and the majority of Waters too. The overall core meta numbers look very blah until you realize how unique a niche Farfetch’d can fill… quality over quantity in this case.


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!).

My thanks to my many PvP buddies and partners… you know who are, my friends!

Thanks to YOU, my dear readers, for your patience in getting this out and taking the time to read! Good luck in prepping for Fusion Cup… and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours! 🎅

If you have questions or comments about this article (or anything else related to the Fusion Cup meta), please let me know on the Fusion 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


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