Feb 4, 2021: Nifty or Thrifty: Labyrinth 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 takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup forma–wait, hold up. We’re not calling it that this month. No, this month, we’re going with a new, more appropriate name: “Mono Or YOLO“! Why? Well, because this month’s Cup demands a… different sort of analysis.
Welcome to the Labyrinth Cup.
Obviously going through the standard 10k/50k/75k/100k second move unlock options would be… well, massive. Aside from the 16 specific bans, you can run… well, ANYTHING really. The one big caveat is that there is no doubling up on any typing, so running something like, say, Wigglytuff would mean you cannot have anything else on your team that is at least part Fairy OR Normal type, as Wiggly has those two typings. You certainly CAN build a team stuffed with dual-type Pokémon, but obviously if you can find some solid mono-types, it makes teambuilding MUCH easier.
Hence the name change, specifically “YOLO” (You Only Live Once): it may be very tempting to pick certain dual-types, but you have to think through the consequences of each of those choices, of what you now CAN’T add to your team later. Assembling a team for this meta will require some forethought and planning.
And so, as I go through the below Pokémon (and yes, I will still try to work through in order from “thriftiest” to most expensive), I will be putting extra emphasis on mono-types, and for the dual-types especially, I will also list the consequences–the YOLO–of what having that ‘mon on your team means… what you now canNOT also have on the same team.
But anyway, I’ve rambled on enough on intro and setup, so let’s get a move on. Here we go!
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb
The inside joke continues! I may have changed the format and even title of Nifty Or Thrifty this month, but we’re still kicking it off with Venusaur, as (nearly) always. Some traditions and protocol just have to be continued. Anyway, Venu is arguably the best Grass in the meta without a gimmick (AKA Icey Aboma and Flying Trop). It doesn’t do anything new or fancy, it just goes out and does its job, tearing through the many relevant Water and Ground types, with the added benefit of being one of the more consistent and reliable ways to eliminate Charmers AND (nearly) all the Fighters you care about too. Venusaur is solid as ever, and its Poison subtyping perhaps has even a little more going for it than normal.
YOLO: Abomasnow, Tropius, Razor Leafers, Chesnaught, Toxicroak, Beedrill, Haunter
MONO TYPE ALTS: MEGANIUM is the first one that will come to mind for most folks, as a fellow Frenzy Plant user and no secondary typing. It maintains Venusaur’s record against everything but Dewgong, the Fighters, and the Charmers (it BARELY beats Clefable but loses the other big ones), though somewhat makes up for it by beating Registeel and Melmetal (Venu normally cannot) thanks to Earthquake. There is also CHERRIM, who also matches Venusaur aside from the Charmers, Sableye, and disappointingly, sometimes even Whiscash (who can outrace it to a killer Blizzard). However, Cherrim can outrace the Fighters (Goon and Vigoroth in particular) and Dewgong, unlike Meganium, and like Meganium can also take out Regi and Mel thanks to Weather Ball (Fire). Not the last time you’ll see Weather Ball making a dent in this meta! Also worth noting: conveniently, both Meg and Cherrim have the same cheap 10,000 dust second move unlock as Venusaur, so easy to build from scratch if you need to… and Cherrim also looks VERY good in the recently revealed GBL Love Cup, so this could be the perfect time build one if you haven’t already. You could also look at Tangrowth and/or Sceptile, but they’re not particularly special in this meta.
Poison Jab | X-Scissor/Fell Stinger & Drill Runᴸ
Beedrill is, in many ways, the inverse of Venusaur. They share the anti-Fighter and anti-Charm roles, though Beedrill does it a little bit better overall, but then Bee goes out and beats Venusaur and its Grassy friends, is better versus other Bugs (looking at you, Galv), and thanks to Drill Run, can turn the tables on things like Registeel and Sunny Castform that Venusaur can only dream of. But it’s not as overall powerful as Venusaur, as you can see by the well-under-50% win record. And with both being Poison types, you cannot run them together.
YOLO: Venusaur, Victreebel, Toxicroak, Haunter, Galvantula, Escavalier, Heracross, Forretress
MONO TYPE ALTS: There really aren’t any that are not just worse dual-types. Nothing else can truly replicate the variety of wins Beedrill achieves with its unique suite of moves. There ARE a couple of other relevant Bugs we’ll look at later, but they also have multiple typings. However, there is ONE mono-type Bug I might consider….
Fury Cutter | X-Scissor & Close Combat
Breaking the normal thriftiness order of the article already, but this one is worth mentioning before we move on, as it really does seem to be the ONLY pure Bug that may have something going for it in Labyrinth. Regular Pinsir doesn’t have the horsepower, but Shadow Pinsir may have the sauce in this meta. It’s quite a different beast than Beedrill, doing nothing against the Charmers and failing against Registeel, Toxicroak, and Galvantula due to no Ground moves, but using its Close Combat to instead beat Lapras, Dewgong, Diggersby, Snorlax, Melmetal (Bee’s Drill Run is too slow for THAT one), Sableye, and even Stunfisk, all while continuing to shred through (most) Grasses and Fighters as Beedrill can. This is no thrifty pick, but it IS pretty interesting.
Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough
Yes, Wigglytuff remains easily one of the best Charmers (really behind only one other which we’ll get to later on), being the fastest and most reliable of the bunch to beat things like Drifblim, Snorlax, Sableye, and Jellicent… you know, things that rely on Ghost damage that Wigglytuff’s Normal typing blunts. But as you’ll see in a second, that Normal typing comes with its own big downsides, because…
…YOLO: Vigoroth, Obstagoon, Diggersby, other Charmers, Powder Snow A-Ninetales
MONO TYPE ALTS: The easy out here is CLEFABLE, with its pure Fairy typing and thus no need to eliminate the good Normal types out there from your team build if you want ’em. The problem is that Clefable is just a worse Wigglytuff, winning nothing that Wiggly does not and losing to Abomasnow, Whiscash, Stunfisk, and Jellicent. If you’re considering Clefable, it’s really just so that you can use other Normal types alongside it. If you want a non-Wiggly Charmer, your solid alternative lies further down in the article, as I’m trying to stay MOSTLY on track with 10,000 unlock ‘mons for now as much as possible.
There’s also WHIMSICOTT, which is very much NOT mono-type but is a cheap Charmer alternative. Unfortunately its second typing of Grass does more harm than good here, making it particularly susceptible to Fire, Flying, and Ice, which outweigh the good that comes with resisting Grass and Electric damage. It does well enough that the right team may be able to make good use of it, and you’ll probably see it here and there, but generally it lags a bit behind other Charm options, and also then occupies the only Grass slot on its team, which could be tricky to work around.
Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Blizzard
No Swampert, so here’s your best true Mud Boy (we’ll look a potent “honorary” Mud Boy later). Not a lot of surprises left with Whiscash in PvP anymore… still hates Grass, not a big fan of Ice, and can get outraced by spammy Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Rainy (and Snowy) Castform, and even Galvantula, and struggles against Charmers, typically losing those as well. And while Blizzard is obviously a huge answer to many things, Skarmory and Mandibuzz can each tank one and still get the win too. But most everything else is in for a hard fight, especially the many Steels, Fires, Poisons, and even most Ghosts that occupy the core meta, among others. Huh… maybe there WAS more to talk about than I thought!
YOLO: Politoed, Jellicent, Dewgong, Lapras, Pelipper, Mantine, Lanturn, Diggersby, Stunfisk… perhaps Whiscash’s biggest downside is a LONG list of things you cannot run alongside it.
MONO TYPE ALTS: I mean, if you REALLY want to dig deep, there’s always Shadow Dugtrio. 😂 Hey, it’s not a BAD list of wins, just short. There are of course other Mud Boy alternatives (Quagsire, Gastrodon, even Marshtomp), but they’re really no better than Whiscash and often worse… and of course, not mono typed. Your only real mono-type alterative is one that does not belong among the 10k mons, but definitely DOES belong at this point in the article as a direct and arguably better alternative to Whiscash….
Mud Shot | Weather Ball (Water) & Earthquakeᴸ/Blizzard
Not the first time I’ve pushed for Politoed… I stuck my neck out pretty far for it back in Marsh Cup and some folks laughed at my statement that it could be the best “Mud Boy” in that format due to the fact that ” it outright resists Ice and Water damage and doesn’t die quite as alarming fast to Grass damage”, as I said at the time. And all of that is still true, and there is far less Electric to worry about in Labyrinth Cup, so… who’s laughing now? Toed has 3 more wins overall (a jump of 10% in the win rate) than Cash, and though it’s not strictly better–between the two, Whiscash uniquely beats Zweilous, Toxicroak, Sableye, Clefable, and Drifblim, some of those thanks to Blizzard–but Politoed beats numerous things Whiscash can’t, like Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Shadow Gardevoir, Jellicent, Alolan Ninetales, Lapras, Dewgong, and Whiscash itself, all but the first three of those due to its resistances to Water and Ice. If you want to REALLY emulate Whiscash (or just can’t get Legacy Earthquake), you can run it instead with Blizzard and STILL it performs right on par with Whiscash, with Cash uniquely beating Lanturn and then Croak, Sable, and Zweil as before, but Politoed otherwise matching it blow for blow and getting its own unique wins versus Lapras, Mandibuzz, Whiscash itself, and even Tropius! If you want to use a Mud Boy but don’t want to be saddled with eliminating other Ground types, or even if you just want arguably a better-in-this-meta Whiscash, consider taking Mr. Toed’s wild ride!
Counter | Blaze Kick & Blast Burnᴸ/Stone Edgeᴸ/Brave Bird
The first Fighter on our list, and the first Fire as well, so let’s take a brief moment talking about why each of those types are good here. You may have already gathered from sims above that there are a goodly number of things that burn (Grass, Steel, Ice, Bug) and many that don’t want to come across a Counter user (Steels and Ices again, and Darks and Normals). But all that onto a half-Fire body like Blaziken and suddenly you have a potential counter to other Fires too. And thus, we end up with this. As expected, the win column is filled with Grasses, Ices, Bugs, Steels, Darks, Normals, and yes, other prominent Fire types. And the really crazy thing is that the same list shows up if Blaze is running Stone Edge or Brave Bird instead of the Blast Burn shown there; the only difference is that BB can beat Stunfisk, which is a surprising and potentially important result that gives the all-Fire charge move set a very slight advantage. Haven’t seen a lot of chatter on Blaze, but perhaps we should be!
YOLO: Toxicroak, Hitmonchan, Hitmontop, Chesnaught, Machoke (note that Obstagoon and Vigoroth COULD still be used, however!), Alolan Marowak, Ninetales, Sunny Castform, Charizard
MONO TYPE ALTS: On the Fire side, your best bet is probably <a href=”https://pvpoke.com/battle/multi/1500/custom/typhlosion/11/1-4-1/2-1/labyrinth”>TYPHLOSION. While quite effective now with Incinerate, it’s not quite as versatile, though you can run it with Shadow Claw to mix things up a bit, giving up stuff like Croak, Goon, Sable, Snorlax, and Stunfisk to instead gain Ninetales, A-Wak, Dewgong, and Shadow Gardevoir. On the Fighting side… well, let’s break a pair of those down a little more.
Counter | Ice Punch & Close Combat/Thunder Punch
Hey, it still mostly works in the thrifty section, as you can second move a Tyrogue for only 10k dust and then evolve it up and save yourself 65,000 stardust thanks to the Baby Discount™. And what you get for your efforts is basically a legal Medicham. Not quite as good, of course… Medi can take down stuff like Vigoroth, Galvantula, Sunny Castform, and both Ninetales that Jackie Chan cannot, though there are always tradeoffs, and Chan manages to beat Skarmory and Mandibuzz that overcome Medicham. So while it’s not quite the same, Hitmonchan more than holds its own and represents the Ice Punch fight club well. And while MUCH more expensive due to no Tyrogue option, Shadow Hitmonchan (with double Elemental Punches) is a different but still very effective flavor, and while it usually gives up Lanturn and Skarmory to get there, it can bring in new wins against things like Castform, Tropius, and bane-of-Medicham Sableye. Everyone seems to always forget Hitmonchan, but especially in formats like this where so many Fighters ahead of it are banned, make sure that YOU don’t. While I’ve made my own recommendations here on moves, Hitmonchan is very flexible and can fill many holes on various teams depending on what moves fit YOUR team composition best.
Counter | Stone Edge & Close Combat
It seems to get more press than Hitmon “Jackie” Chan, and yes, Top is just fine, though I still value Chan and its unpredictable versatility a bit more personally. What it lacks in variety of moves, Top makes up in pure power with Stone Edge, allowing it to get away with a sneaky win over Ninetales, and its sheer bulk (even higher than Chan) allows it to outpunch Vigoroth… with just Counter. But on the flipside, Top falls short against things Chan can beat, like the Castforms, Venusaur, Tropius, and more disappointingly, Lapras and Diggersby, which are usually surefire wins for Fighters. (In fairness, Top CAN beat those last two, but just barely and only with the right bobbing and weaving that a smart opponent can wiggle out of depending on how they shield.) I DO like Top, and this is a format where it can shine a bit. I just like Chan more, that’s all. Personal preference, perhaps. Either way, the Hitmons should be out in force for once.
Counter | Night Slash & Gunk Shot
One of the best Fighters that… isn’t. Obstagoon does have two typings, but neither are actually Fighting. Instead, as a Dark/Normal, it has to avoid anything else that IS Fighting, as it is double weak to Fighting damage. But its handy resistances (Dark, 2x to Psychic, and 3x to Ghost) combine with its high Fighting and Dark damage output to make it a great option overall, and one of the cheapest to build too! Darks, Ices, Ghosts, Normals, Fires, even most Waters all end up in Goon’s wake. It should be prevelant in this meta.
YOLO: Mandibuzz, Zweilous, Sableye, Alolan Muk, Wigglytuff, Diggersby, Vigoroth, Lickitung, Snorlax
MONO TYPE ALTS: Well there’s Vigoroth, of course, but we’ll get to him later. Beyond that… there’s really no mono-type that fills Goon’s shoes beyond the Fighters we’ve already mentioned. With Scrafty nowhere in sight, Obstagoon stands basically alone.
I will go ahead and mention LUCARIO here too, but it remains very boom or bust with that Steel sub-typing, and bait dependant too! Yes, it certainly helps it dominate matchups versus Ice types and other Steels, but there are very few Psychics or Dragons around for Luc to resist, and a worrying number of Fires and Fighters and other things that get around its steely exterior to prey on its frailty. When it works, Luc can still work well here… but when it fails, and it looks like it could more often than not in this meta, it fails spectacularly. Not to mention the many other Fighters and Steels that you can’t use with Luc on your team. Baby Discount™ or not, I personally don’t think Lucario is worth it here and would look elsewhere for my source of Fighting damage.
Fire Spin/Dragon Breathᴸ/Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ
Yes, Zard is still a very solid Fire type, and is particularly effective against Fighters (and quasi-Fighters) and brutal versus Grasses thanks to its Flying secondary typing, and along with Blaziken and its Counter, makes it a rare Fire that is able to overcome Diggersby too. And yes, while Flying opens up new risks, it does still beat some of the more worrisome things like Galvantula, Drifblim, and Alolan Ninetales despite their unresisted (or even super effective) moves that don’t bother landlocked Fire types as much. And you have options, with Dragon Breath variants losing Galv, Blim, A-Tails, and Aboma to instead beat Mandibuzz, Alolan Marowak, Zweilous, and Kanto Ninetales, or Wing Attack that beats both Ninetales and Aboma, but loses the unique DB wins, as well as Galv and Blim. And while I won’t go into all the sims now, Shadow Zard is certainly viable too, though I’d recommend just sticking with Fire Spin there, as the other variants fall down a bit as Shadows.
YOLO: Alolan Marowak, Ninetales, Sunny Castform, Blaziken, Skarmory, Mandibuzz, Mantine, Tropius, Drifblim, Pelipper and more.
MONO TYPE ALTS: As mentioned after Blaziken, your best bet is probably Typhlosion. Not much else behind that, honestly.
Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge
While we’re here in cheap Electric types, may as well mention the suddenly popular (FINALLY folks are paying attention!) Alolan Rocks. A-Graveler is ever so slightly better than A-Golem, holding on to beat the major Charmers and Zweilous, while A-Golem instead uses its higher Attack to outrace Jellicent, Venusaur, and (Spark) Lanturn. Either way, the Alolan Rocks are equally capable of busting up Ices, Flyers, Fires, and Bugs, among others, but are deathly afraid of Grasses and Grounds (much moreso than other Electric types), and HAVE to avoid Fighters. Those weaknesses are all pretty prominently featured in this meta, which may hold them back more than the simple numbers and sims show.
YOLO: Various other Electrics I’ve already mentioned a few times, plus Probopass, Regirock, Cradily, Crustle, and uh… Magcargo, I guess?
MONO TYPE ALTS: Not much on the Rock side, at least among the thriftiest options. On the Electric side… well, most of the really good Electrics have SOME secondary typing. I guess there’s ZEBSTRIKA with its ability to burn stuff with Flame Charge, but it’s iffy and kinda niche. However, there is one big one that’s being criminally overlooked (as it often is) and merits its own little writeup… right now!
Volt Switch/Thunder Shock | Brick Break & Wild Charge/Thunder
No no… not the Alolan one. AhChu has a middling win percentage, but KayChu looks like a potential star and isn’t saddled with a secondary typing weak to Darks and Ghosts like AhChu, or Fire and Rock like Galvantula. More than the typing, the big difference is humble–one could even say underwhelming–Brick Break. As I’ve mentioned numerous times in past Raichu articles and snippits, even though BB is a very mediocre move, its Fighting typing combined with the spam potential of Raichu’s fast moves means it can do truly silly stuff like beat the mighty Bastiodon. Of course, Bastie is banned here, but my point is that BB + spam = unique potential for an Electric type, like being one of VERY few that can take out Obstagoon. (In fact, only Raichu and Galv and two other Electric types can reliably do it.) You have options too… obviously Wild Charge is the preferred closing move, but you do have the option of Thunder which shares nearly all the same wins (Vigoroth is the only core meta loss that shows up) and obviously does not self-nerf. But the homerun potential of Wild Charge–especially with high stat product IVs, is probably the way to go… go big or go home, right? And Raichu could go QUITE big here, able to get wins even Galvantula can’t, like Lanturn, Ninetales, Sunny Castform, Snorlax, and Tropius… and with those H.S.P. IVs I just linked to, Clefable, Wigglytuff, and Alolan Marowak are within reach too! It’s an impressive jump in performance (as opposed to Galv which gains just one notable win–Tropius–with max IVs) that practically demands you check your Pokémon storage for a good IV Chu. In my opinion, it’s one of the best mono-types–best Pokémon overall, even!–to consider in the entire format.
Rock Throw/Ember | Stone Edge & Overheat
Since we were just talking unusual Rock types, it is time once again (in a nod to the original Bernie meme) to stump for my boy Magcargo. Many of you probably know by now that when it’s even close to relevance, out I come with it, and it does some real good in Labyrinth. Mr. Cargo can take out a varied mix of stuff that includes Alolan Marowak (and the other Fires, to boot), Abomasnow and Tropius, Wigglytuff and Clefable and Shadow Gardevoir and Alolan Ninetales, Skarmory, Galvantula, Drifblim, Mandibuzz and more. Or trade in Rock Throw for the recently buffed Ember to gain Melmetal (at the cost of Mandi and A-Wak). I’m not saying it’s a build-around piece, per se, but a valuable and flexible bench option, or even regular starter on a team with some of those as holes to fill? Don’t just sit there unimpressed like Bernie with his little gloves. Give it a good, hard look.
YOLO: Alolan Marowak, Ninetales, Blaziken, Probopass, Regirock, Crustle, Sudowoodo, Alolan Rocks
MONO TYPE ALTS: The whole reason I keep dragging Magcargo into the light is because it’s so unique. You can consider a number of other Fire and/or Rock types to do some of what Mags can do, but there isn’t anything that can do the combination of what it does.
Smack Down | X-Scissor & Rock Slide
Yep, another cheap dual-type Rock Pokémon. Crustie actually comes out looking pretty similar to Magcargo, but with some key differences. No resistance to Fairy here, so unlike Mags, Crustie loses to all the Charmers. It also takes neutral from Flying damage due to its Bug typing, so between that and having no super effective moves against Steel, it also fails to beat Skarmory and Melmetal as well, and lack of resisting Ice means that while it still beats things like Abomasnow, it is incredibly close. Ironically, it DOES beat Dewgong (which Magcargo cannot consistently do… one Water Pulse and it’s lights out for Mags), beats Mandibuzz and A-Wak closely but consistently, and gets wins Magcargo can only dream about versus Zweilous, Sableye, and even Obstagoon with its super effective Fighting damage, thanks to Crustle’s Bug damage from X-Scissor. Not even the Alolan Rocks stand a chance versus Goon, but here we are. And here I thought, going in, that Rock wouldn’t be a particularly good type in this meta!
YOLO: We’ve covered them already, but the highlights: Alolan Rocks, Magcargo, Regirock, and then Galv, Escav, Heracross, Forret, etc.
MONO TYPE ALTS: Not really. No other good Smack Down options here, and much of what does Bug stuff has already been covered. (AKA Pinsir.)
Vine Whip | Superpower & Energy Ball
It’s not an eye-popping record overall, but having a solid enough Grass that can also beat the likes of Melmetal, Vigoroth, Obstagoon, Zweilous, Sableye, and Snorlax is pretty nice, no?
YOLO: Toxicroak, Hitmons, Machoke, Venusaur, Tropius, Abomasnow, Razor Leafers
MONO TYPE ALTS: Numerous Grasses and Fighters, all arguably better in those roles, but none that do both.
Mud Shot/Quick Attack | Fire Punch & Earthquake
Our first real shot at Diggs in a Silph Cup, and while not strictly dominant, it brings the goods. A super bulky Ground that does all the things you’d ask of your Ground type (beating Fires, Steels, Electrics) plus outlasts the Charmers, Snorlax, Zweilous and others, and can strike back with fiery fury and take out Skarmory too. And if you can get your Diggersby over Level 40 (as early as Level 42!), you can even turn the tables on Toxicroak, a huge pickup. It’s not a perfect comparison, of course, but Diggs may be as close as you can get to emulating Galarian Stunfisk in this Cup.
YOLO: The Ground side isn’t too bad–stuff like Stunfisk, Whiscash, and maybe Gligar or the like–but Normal means no Vigoroth, Obstagoon, Wigglytuff, Snorlax, Lickitung… it’s a decently impactful list.
Bubble/Wing Attack | Bubble Beam & Ice Beam
Unlike Diggersby, we have had many, MANY shots with Mantine by now… not many surprises left. And yet, you know you too continue to get suckered into shielding those Bubble Beams when you face down a Mantine. Come on, admit it… we’ve ALL done it. Somehow it seems harder to get it right against Mantine than anything else. Maybe it’s the crippling fear of taking an Ice Beam to the face when we can least afford it, or Mantine’s really good bulk that allows it to just throw so MANY charge moves, or maybe it’s that dopey grin that lulls us into complacency. Whatever it is, Mantine just always manages to force its way into relevance, and that should be no different in this meta. At least we can reap the benefits of the Baby Discount™ in building one if we want in on the fun.
Gustᴸ | Aerial Ace & Hurricane/Brave Bird
The Normal half has unfortunate effects on the rest of your team, but if you just want a solid Flyer, Pidgeot gets it done. This is actually a pretty welcoming meta for a good Bird, and with wins over the Fighters (and quasi-Fighters), Pidgeot is better than most. In fact, it is the ONLY Normal Flyer that beats Vigoroth or Obstagoon, and if that isn’t enough of a selling point, it conveniently also takes out the major Grasses, Fires, Ghosts, and things like Snorlax and Diggersby and Mandibuzz and the (non-Ice) Castforms too. It’s an impressive body of work that many players will completely overlook. Don’t be one of them.
YOLO: Again, the biggest downside here is all the Normals, but there are several prominent Flyers too, including Skarm, Mandi, Mantine, Trop, Drifblim, Pelipper… and the list goes on. Pidgeot is good but may require some crafty teambuilding to fit in.
And that is actually it for the 10,000 dual-type options that I heartily recommend. Some things that normally make these lists like Golbat, Noctowl, Empoleon, Gyarados just don’t do enough for me to push for their use. However, there ARE a few more standouts to mention that are mono-type:
Shadow Claw | Grass Knot & Thunder
Getting another chance to spotlight its unique move package, Loonie continues to threaten major Flyers, Waters, and Ghosts, plus bonuses like Ninetales, Melmetal, and Stunfisk. Linoone is not (and likely will never be) the best option in any of those roles, but the fact that it can dabble effectively in all of them can make it a valued contributor on teams with a couple holes, especially in this meta where mono-types have their own increased value.
Bubble | Icy Wind & Hydro Pump
Empoleon may not be great here, but its pre-evolution has a nice list of wins, and not just the Fires and Diggersby and Alolan Ninetales and such you would expect, but things like Registeel and Whiscash and Skarmory and Drifblim Mandibuzz and both Vigoroth AND Obstagoon. If you’re looking for spice and your Water slot is otherwise unoccupied, give the junior penguin a look.
Water Gun | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Ice Beam
Blastoise does nothing exciting or unexpected, really, but it DOES come in and does everything you’d want it to do. For the direct comparison to the Prinplup we just covered, while Blastie tends to fall short against A-Tails and Skarmory and Snorlax, it instead takes out Melmetal and Sableye and Stunfisk and major Charmers Wigglytuff and Clefable, just outbulking them all to hang on for the wins. In a meta where mono types are quite good, and there’s no Azumarill to be found, Blastoise could be just what you’re looking for. You could almost call Blastoise boring, but sometimes a little “boring” is all you need to complete your team.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
As always, this is the most populous category, as there are tons of Pokémon with a 50,000 dust second move cost. And especially in a very open format like this, this section could easily fill an entire (and LONG) article by itself. I’m going to attempt to streamline it a little bit and talk just to the most promising and/or versatile options to consider, both dual and mono types. So just know going in that this may not be quite as comprehensive as normal, but your eyes will likely thank me for it when it’s over. 🧐 That also means I will not highlight “YOLO” implications or mono type alternatives quite as much… I’ve covered most of that in the 10k section already, after all.
Charm/Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Dazzling Gleam/Psyshock
I’ll try to keep this simple and to the point: Alolan Ninetales is one of the very best Pokémon in the entire Labyrinth meta, AND in multiple different move configurations. It is an absolutely deadly Ice type now with Powder Snow spamming the new Weather Ball and then carrying a big stick of Dazzling Gleam to bring home wins versus stuff like Dewgong, Galvantula, and Sableye that resist Ice damage or just can’t stand up to the big crushing blow of Gleam’s 110+ STAB damage. In this configuration, you still beat all the Darks and most Fighters you would expect your Fairy to handle, PLUS the Grasses and Grounds and Fires you would expect your Ice to beat, plus the other Charmers themselves. Charm A-Tails (subbing in Psyshock over Gleam) is equally as effective, trading PS wins against Venusaur, Skarmory, Drifblim, and Vigoroth for Charm wins against Toxicroak, Lapras, Rainy Castform and Jellicent. Pay close attention to which fast move it’s running before swapping in a good counter, but note that with Weather Ball now in its arsenal, the Charm variant in particular is much more dangerous now and both fast moves beat a very similar field of Pokémon.
Counter | Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb
The “splurge” among Fighters in Labyrinth Cup. You can get nearly all the other viable ones much cheaper, and in some cases without even needing to actually BE a Fighting type at all. Toxicroak very much is a Fighter, and while in some metas that combined with its Poison subtyping has left it ready to be exploited by Psychic types (and Confusioners in particular), several of the bigger, scarier ones are banned. Other than the odd Jirachi or Bronzong here or there, Toxicroak’s biggest downside is unlikely to be exploited at all! But surprisingly, it still looks a little mediocre. What gives? Well, while Psychic is Croak’s primary nemesis, it also has to worry about Flyers and Ghosts and Fairies and other things that can just outspam it, and this meta has quite a few of those. So while, yes, Toxicroak preys upon Darks and Steels and Normals and even most Grasses and other Fighters, it has a lot to keep watch for over its own shoulder too. Use it, surely… Croak is still a nice build-around piece. But don’t just drop your shoulders and relax in this Psychic-light environment. Croak still must be protected and deployed carefully… and with a backup plan.
Counter | Close Combat & Megahorn
Seemingly always underrated, maybe this will finally be the meta where people pay attention to one of the better Fighters available? Yes, it has a secondary typing, but Bug is one of the easier ones to free up… most builds can consider just his Fighting typing and not miss not being able to run another Bug. And what that Bug side does for Heracross is make it Fighting-resistant just like Toxicroak is… and like Croak, Cross beats the other Fighters, including Toxicroak! The only meta things Toxicroak beats that Heracross cannot in 1v1 shielding are Sunny Castform and, ironically, Venusaur. (Though that latter one can be super close.) In contrast, Heracross can defeat FOUR things that Toxicroak normally does not: Stunfisk, Whiscash, Mandibuzz, and the aforementined head-to-head over Toxicroak. As I said: Heracross is underrated, folks.
Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Blizzard
The rankings almost everywhere you check are wrong. Not in saying that Dewgong is good, because that’s undeniable. But wrong in what second move to run, because they all say to go with Water Pulse for coverage, but don’t do it. The move you actually want alongside Icy Wind provides no coverage, but is flat out better anyway: Blizzard. Only with Blizzard does Dewgong have the power to beat Snorlax in 1v1 shielding, Skarmory in 0v0 shields, and Abomasnow and WP Dewgong in both. There is not a single win that Water Pulse adds to the equation that Blizzard doesn’t win anyway in either of those shielding scenarios. Pulse is a BAD move and does not let Dewgong sneak in new wins against Fires or anything else unless the opponent just screws up. For my money, give me the bigger surprise of Blizzard than the Water Pulse they probably expect… because everyone said it’s better without looking at the actual numbers. Dig deeper, look harder, and make what this writer believes is the right choice.
Powder Snow | Body Slam & Water Pulse
Shadow Sealeo is about to arrive in the game, and while the non Shadow one lags behind Lapras and Dewgong, Shadow Sealeo stands tall with them. Just comparing it side by side with Dewgong, S-Sealeo is able to beat Ninetales, Sunny Castform, and Alolan Marowak with the same lousy Water Pulse that I discouraged using on Dewgong–it works okay here because of the fast charging Powder Snow–and also outraces Venusaur thanks to speedy Body Slams, none of which Dewgong can normally defeat. Gong DOES beat Skarmory, Abomasnow, Mandibuzz, and Snorlax, unlike Sealeo, so they’re on pretty equal footing… but just the fact that Shadow Sealeo DOES stand pretty level with Dewgong is pretty amazing.
Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Energy Ball
Oh yes, it still does plenty of good here. And to compare with Shadow Aboma, Shadow is uniquely capable of beating Lapras and Toxicroak, but regular Aboma is overall better with its own wins versus Dewgong, Sableye, Clefable, and Shadow Gardevoir. Either way, Abomasnow is an Ice that worries Waters, and a Grass that terrifies Flyers, to put its role(s) as succinctly as possible. My concern is just that, though: It’s an Ice AND a Grass, keeping you from using any other Pokémon of those types on your team. Maybe that’s not an issue, but it certainly could be for others. The “YOLO” is strong with this one.
Razor Leaf | Various
There’s no escaping them now: despite even being recently nerfed, you can expect Razor Leafers to show up wherever they’re allowed. If you don’t care about leaving room for another Poison type on your team, that probably means big bad bully VICTREEBEL or slightly bulkier VILEPLUME, who shred the things you’d expect (basically anything Water, Ground, or Rock, plus Charmers, Sable, and Vigoroth/Obstagoon). If Poison IS a concern, then yes, you can run mono-Grasses like Shadow BELLOSSOM or even Cherrim with Razor Leaf, but they’re generally both much more interesting with Bullet Seed.
Shadow Claw | Shadow Punchᴸ & Sludge Bomb/Shadow Ball
So here I go again recommending Sludge Bomb as the second move. Yes, part of it is Wigglytuff, which Bomb beats and Shadow Ball loses to, but there’s more than that. Gengar with Bomb also needs it to outrace Ninetales, as the five extra energy Ball costs is just a bridge too far, though it’s worth noting that it needs Ball to beat Skarmory and Lanturn. Haunter is even more apparent in Bomb’s favor, as with Bomb, Haunter beats Wiggly, as mentioned, and then outraces Ninetales and Rainy AND Sunny Castform thanks to the comparative speed of Bomb as compared to Shadow Ball, which instead beats Poison-resistant Steels Registeel and Skarmory. Got all that? If not, just remember: Shadow Ball good against Steel, but Sludge Bomb just as viable–and arguably better–against the wider field. Do keep in mind they’re both Ghost AND Poison types, so plan around that accordingly.
Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Boneᴸ/Shadow Ball
Ah, here he is. You knew A-Wak was going to be popping up SOMEtime. It remains its normal, tricky self in the Labyrinth, tormenting a variety of Grasses, Steels, Fighters (not you, Obstagoon), Fairies, Electrics, and fellow Fires. Basically, just avoid it getting wet (Water), buried (Ground), or left in the Dark and it will usually come out the victor on the other side. [Shadow Ball] is still a viable alternative for those gun shy with Shadow Bone after its recent nerf, but they both perform about the same (with Bone beating Lapras, and Ball winning the mirror). I would not recommend those Hex/Fire Blast variants though… I think you really want Fire Spin here, as there’s quite a bit for it to burn through. Yes, A-Wak eats up a Fire and Ghost slot, but performs so well in both roles that you really won’t miss not being able to double up anyway.
Hex/Bubble | Shadow Ball & Bubble Beam/Ice Beam
So as I talked about in my recent, more extensive spotlight on JellyBelly, there are options when it comes to the moves. While the best overall in simulations is Hex/Bubble Beam/Shadow Ball, nailing a wide swath of the field but being weaker than you’d like against Fires, Grounds, and of course, especially anything part Normal (and therefore double resistant to Ghost damage). Bubble rectifies much of that but now opens it up to losses to Waters and a weaker performance overall. And while sets with Ice Beam seem viable enough, there are still plenty of holes left unpatched with it in the equation as well. It is entirely possible we still won’t see a lot of Jellicent this early after its long-delayed release, but those that do appear could be a nightmare to maneuver around until its moves become more apparent. Perhaps you’ll be using that to your own advantage, fellow player?
Poison Jab | Acid Spray & Hydro Pump
Tentacruel isn’t my own personal playstyle, what with its Sprayin’ n’ Prayin’ ways, but a lot of people do like that, so here ya go. Tentacthulhu is just fine, and Poison is perhaps an easier thing to free up than the Ice or other types that many Waters are saddled with.
And now let’s transition to some mono-types that may be on the rise in this meta…
Poison Jabᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Drill Runᴸ
Now HERE is a watery Poison Jabber I can get behind! The King may not have a wide breadth of wins, but it’s a very unique mix of big names, with the Fairies thanks to Jab, Fires and Icy Waters thanks to Seaking’s resistances and neutral (at worse) damage it throws back, Zweilous and Mandibuzz and even Tropius (and with good PvP IVs, Abomasnow too thanks to Icy Wind, and even Registeel thanks to Drill Run (it has time to get in THREE for the win thanks to resisting Flash Cannon). Seaking requires potentially as many as three Elite TMs to build, and I would not recommend running one out there in a tournament without some practice time logged, as it requires special handling and familiarity with its oddball moveset to work properly. But this writer has found it amazingly useful in GBL and elsewhere, performing better than sims show in a support role for your team, softening things up for its teammates in ways precious few ‘mons can. I give it a hearty thumbs up for Labyrinth Cup, seemingly one of the better metas yet for it to make an indelible mark.
Volt Switch | Lunge & Discharge
The first place people tend to look now when considering an Electric type, and it’s easy to see why. Galv was always a little underrated even before it recieved Lunge, but since then it hums along very, very nicely as a solid Electric that can also flip the script on things like Venusaur, Whiscash, Abomasnow, and Zweilous, matchups that most Electrics are left flailing in but Galvantula goes out and just snatches the win away. The downside is that it is opened up to scary vulnerabilities to Fire and Rock, both of which you’ll be seeing throughout this format, and using it obviously means no other Bugs either (or Electrics, of course).
Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge
Yep, it’s still good, but also yes, just as baity as ever. Magnezone is something you’ve either played with and liked, or played against and detested with every fiber of your being, and very few players fall somewhere in between at this point. A solid Electric that also dunks on Fairies, Ices, and even many Grasses, but requires experienced piloting to function at peak potential. If that describes you, then yes, you can roll it or its Shadow version out there. Just keep in mind the Steel typings in particular you’re denying a spot elsewhere on your team in the process.
Any | …and, uh, Any
No Bastiodon means a chance for Probopass to shine out a bit. The good news is that you can trick it out in basically ANY moveset configuration and get about the same performance out of it. Seriously, I’m just picking one out of a hat and coming up with the same basic results you’ll see with multiple other combos. I’ll just point out that it needs Spark and Thunderbolt to reliably beat Jellicent, and Rock Throw to guarantee (Kanto) Ninetales.
Bullet Seed | Stone Edge & Grass Knot
A steadily emerging fan favorite, now we have a new variety of Cradily to play with thanks to the arrival of Shadow Cradily. It’s not that regular Cradilydily is suddenly bad, because it isn’t at all, it’s just that Shadow–at least in this meta–is just a bit better, with some eye opening new wins like Alolan Marowak, Drifblim, Kanto Ninetales, Sableye, and Tropius… though as always, there is a cost, with Alolan Ninetales, Abomasnow, and Gardevoir beating Shadow but losing to regular Dilly. But whether you pick a Cradily bud that is light or dark (haha, see what I did there? 🍻), it provides a unique threat with a secondary typing of Rock that is easy enough to build around without doubling up.
And now, a run through some mono-type standouts….
Fire Spin | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam/Overheat
So the biggest homerun potential is with Overheat, which shows a crazy high win rate. And only with Overheat does Ninetales typically burn down things like Sableye, Drifblim, Alolan Ninetales, and Vigoroth/Obstagoon. But the more exciting play–and the only move with real coverage potential–is Solar Beam. It doesn’t really show its true potential in sims, but I don’t think I need to throw a bunch in front of you to know what getting one through against an opposing Water, Ground, or Rock type that thinks they have this one in the bag can do, not just to your winning chances but to the opponent’s psyche as well. If nothing else, the very threat of Beam will steal away shields no Fire type has any right to steal. But even without those mind games, even if you stick with JUST Weather Ball, Ninetales does a fine, fine job. And remember that, unlike GBL, in The Silph Arena you CAN play both Ninetales if you want to!
Lick | Body Slamᴸ & Grass Knot
Your general, non-XL Lickitung? Not that great here. I mean, it’s all right, but nothing particularly special. What you really want is one pushed beyond Level 40. Even just going to Level 40.5 you can already pick up close wins over Stunfisk and Skarmory and a BIG win over Dewgong. At Level 43.5 it can beat Wigglytuff and Ninetales. Beyond that you need to push to Level 46 (for a win over Lapras) and the sky is kind of the limit as you reach Level 50, but honestly that would be REALLY hard to get even close to at this point, so perhaps shoot for the realistic Level 43.5 range and be satisfied with that. Not bad at all for a regular old Normal type.
Karate Chop | Dynamic Punch & Cross Chopᴸ/Brick Break
No Machamp, no problem? Oh, whoops, that doesn’t look so hot, does it? What I meant to link to was this. Shadow Machoke is strictly better than non-Shadow, adding on wins versus Ninetales, Sunny Castform, Stunfisk, Skarmory, and even noted Fighting killer Toxicroak, all without giving up any (and actually mostly improving upon) wins that regular Machoke achieves. Not sure if you want to shell out for one, but if you’re looking for a very spicy and fun Fighting pick, Shadow Choke seems like a great choice to try out this month. And if you are (understandably) reluctant to Elite TM it for Cross Chop, you CAN run it with currently available Brick Break and, at least on paper, not give up much at all (just the Stunfisk win).
PERRSERKER & ZANGOOSE
Shadow Claw | Close Combat & Foul Play/Night Slash
One is a mono Steel, the other a normal… well, Normal, but they both perform very similarly. Perrserker is slightly better, at least on paper, but the truth is that both it and Goose have their own relatively equal pros and cons. While both are equally adept at taking down things like Lapras, Drifblim, and Zweilous, their typings greatly influence their other wins, with Perrserker’s Steel resisting Fairy, Flying, Grass, and Ice damage and leading to wins over all the Charmers (and PowderTails), Dewgong, Venusaur, and Tropius, while Goose double resists Ghost and beats Jellicent, Sableye, and Alolan Marowak, and its higher Attack also leads to wins against Galvantula, Melmetal, Mandibuzz, Registeel, and even Obstagoon. Neither have blow-the-doors-off numbers, but they are nice wild cards that can fill out the back end of a team, especially if you’re feeling adventurous.
And while I cheated and already talked about POLITOED up in the 10ks, just a reminder: it’s actually a 50k mono mon and a really good one too.
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Alright, this article is running looooooooong, so let’s try and get through these expensive options in perhaps a slightly less verbose manner…
Ice Shardᴸ/Water Gun | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ/Skull Bash
You probably think there isn’t much you don’t already know here, but ol’ Lappie still has a few tricks up her… uh, flippers. For example, this may be an environment that better favors old standby Ice Beam over new hotness Skull Bash, with Bash more reliably beating Wigglytuff, but Ice Beam better against Venusaur and Toxicroak. Perhaps even more surprising? This may be a meta that is more favorable to Water Gun. While it misses out on the extra Ice damage of Ice Shard by now losing to Mandibuzz and Venusaur, and falls short against Toxicroak even with the same charge moves that Ice Shard Lapras used to overcome it, Water Gun Lappie adds Wigglytuff back to the win column, as well as tacking on new wins against Sableye, Registeel, and now beats all Fire types but Victini (it lost to several before, including Ninetales, A-Wak, and Castform). That’s good news for those low on Elite TMs!
Wing Attack | Night Slash & Return
The moveset is pretty easy here, despite the variety of configurations you can trick out your Gligar with, because Wing Attack/Night Slash/Return does the most good things, taking out the scary Fighters (and quasi-Fighters), plus the big Fires, Fairies, Electrics, and bonuses like Diggersby, Venusaur, Tropius, and Melmetal. The only bad thing is the cost of the second charge move, though at least with this being a purified Gligar it’s a little cheaper.
Wing Attack | Night Slash & Earthquake
Not QUITE so set on the moves here. I mean, the charge moves are pretty easy to determine, but both fast moves have merit. Wing Attack can manage to beat Wigglytuff and Clefable, while Fury Cutter instead beats Dark types Sableye and Zweilous. Either way, the Glisboys again both look like viable options… but I don’t think this is a meta where you particularly want the Shadow kind.
Thunder Shock/Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Discharge
Another chance for it to shine without that other Stunfisk around, and shine it does. You probably don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that FIsky easily handles Flyers and Steels and Fires, but did you know it also tends to beat Galvantula and Clefable, and Toxicroak and Jellicent, and even Sableye and Snorlax? Because it can do all of that and more. Avoid Grass and heavy Water damage, and there is little else that Stunfisk cannot at least batter and bruise. (Mmmmm… battered fish…. 🤤 oh, sorry! Writing this at dinner time.)
Air Slash | Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace
One of very few Flyers Stunfisk does NOT beat thanks to being half Grass, and as always, Trop takes full advantage of both of its typings to cover a unique set of wins. Yep, it is most definitely viable in this meta. Expect to see it pop up here and there, and have a plan.
Bug Bite | Mirror Shot & Earthquake
As per usual, Forret is often forgotten. Also as per usual, that’s a mistake. Forret has spun victories for Silph world champions… might it do the same for you? Fairies hate it, Grasses fear it, Ices flee from it, even Darks and Electrics want to steer clear of it. The number of Steely Bugs has grown more and more over time in GO, but Forret remains one of the very best in PvP and I think is a legit option in the Labyrinth.
Air Slash | Sky Attack & Brave Bird
NOT often forgotten is the Steely Bird, which is also unsurprisingly solid here too, if not particularly exciting. If you’re looking for excitement, then Shadow Skarm may be your ticket. While it loses to Drifblim and Sableye, it gains wins over Dewgong, Diggersby, Obstagoon, Zweilous, Jellicent, and Rainy Castform.
Fire Fang | Power-Up Punch & Play Rough
Good news: the very expensive Shadow Mawile is not really any better–and arguably worse–than regular Mawile. (Shadow uniquely beats Lapras and sometimes Obstagoon, but regular beats the Charmers and Dewgong.) But the potential bad news is that, in a meta like this, using Steel and Fairy in one slot is perhaps more detriment than help. Mawile could be a little tricky to build around, but seems worth a shot for those willing to try.
Dragon Breath | Body Slam & Dark Pulse
Well the Dragon side should not be a problem to work around (with just possible exception we’ll glance at in a minute), so this is basically just eating up your Dark slot. Is it worth it? Obviously that’s a question only YOU can answer, but it certainly does good work. While there’s not much Zweil can do against Fairies or Fighters or most Ice types, and most Steels blunt it enough to hand on for wins, it goes out and takes the fight to just about everything else. Note that #1 PvP IVs misses a couple important Dragon Breath breakpoints (like against Tropius) that actually make it slightly less ideal than more “average” IVs here. Check the performance of your own Zweilous on PvPoke before rushing in headlong to see what close matchups swing one way or the other.
Snarl | Aerial Ace & Shadow Ball
Well it’s not dominant–too many Fairies and Ices and Electrics and even Fighters around for that–but it IS still quite good. You can’t double up with Obstagoon or the myriad of other Darks, but Mandi certainly does enough to earn a spot as your only Flyer, and there are plenty of ways to build a solid team without having to dip in to other Darks. If you have a good PvP one you want to flex, there are certainly worse ways to start building your Labyrinth team.
Hex | Icy Wind Ace & Shadow Ball
Even less dominant is Drifblim. I’ve mentioned it many times throughout the article, as it’s identified as part of the core meta on PvPoke, likely due to how thoroughly it domimates the big Fighters and quasi-Fighters, and it does do that VERY well. But beyond that… it’s a little disappointing, to tell the truth. Not without merit–nothing that crushes Fighters so convincingly in this meta could be called that–but more of a role player than something you necessarily build around.
And again, as we conclude the dual-types I wanted to cover, it is now time to take a glance at some mono-type 75k standouts:
RAINY: Water Gun | Weather Ball (Water) & Thunder
SUNNY: Ember | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam
SNOWY: Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Blizzard
Grouping them together even though they obviously have wildly different roles, because they all live and die by Weather Ball. Rainy uses it to dominate Fires and Grounds and many others like Regi and Croak and Whiscash, and then finishes many of its fellow Water types with Thunder. Sunny uses Weather Ball to roast Grasses and Steels and Fairies and Ices while carrying the big stick of Solar Beam that can flip matches on their head in an instant. Snowy has no coverage move (why is that, Niantic?) but goes out and puts in a rock solid performance anyway. You probably have a good sense on all three of these little guys by now, so while there isn’t much more to teach (or write!) about them, make sure you also do not forget about them. Expect to see more than a couple throughout the Labyrinth.
Counter | Body Slam & Bulldoze
I’ve talked about it enough… now let’s look at the numbers. Not meta-defining, no, but an extremely solid build-around piece with a typing you are likely to miss doubling up on far less than most other types, at least not when you consider all the things Viggy handles, from Darks to Steels to Ices to Fires to Normals to Grounds and back again. That all being said, Vigoroth is not without its faults: despite not being weak to them like most true Fighters are, Charmers and Flyers and Ghosts still present a problem that is difficult for Viggy to overcome. But for all the good it CAN do and the ease you will likely find in squeezing in on to the majority of teams, Vigoroth is a top meta option. Do not let its lateness in the article make you think anything else!
Counter | Rock Slide & Earthquake
Vigoroth and Obstagoon have been heralded as top replacements for traditional Fighters in this meta, but I have not seen anybody hyping up Sudowoodo. It’s better than you might expect. Yes yes, it has to avoid other Fighters (though really, so do Viggy and Goon), as well as Waters, Grasses, Grounds… yeah, doesn’t sound too promising. But somehow Sudo makes it work anyway, mostly because it distinguishes itself versus Fires and Flyers and hangs on to defeat the Charmers and Galvantula, all usually big problems for the other Counter users. If you’re looking for some of the good Fighters can do without opening yourself wide to some of their more traditional, popular counters, Sudowoodo may be just right for you. And it has a typing that is very easy to free up too, one that can easily double up with another Fighter if you want to go that route.
Lick | Body Slam & Superpower
Another case where non-Shadow is okay and Shadow just seems better. Regular Lax outbulks the assault of Obstagoon, Registeel, and Shadow Gardevoir, but Shadow Lax instead outraces Lapras, Stunfisk, Sableye, Rainy Castform, Venusaur, and Tropius and gets my thumbs up recommendation as a wild card/flex option at the back of your bench. As per usual, I think it’s a pretty good safe swap option in particular.
Dragon Breath | Aqua Tail & Dragon Pulse
You probaby don’t want Dragonite here, but Dragonair looks like a nice safe option, either in regular (unique wins vs Galv, Registeel, JelliBelli, Snorlax, and Tropius) or Shadow (wins vs Toxicroak, Mandibuzz, Melmetal, and Alolan Marowak) variety. Other Dragons are practically non-existant, though you do need to keep a close eye out for Fairies and/or Ices. That’s a decent list of threats, granted, but ‘Nair can slip away from the vast majority of others and is beefy enough to soak up a goodly amount of (oft-resisted) damage along the way. With Aqua Tail it can operate pretty effectively in the Water role without actually being a Water, leaving room for some other teammate like Lapras/Dewgong or Tentacruel to do their thing more freely.
100,000 Dust/100 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Finally, we’ve made it to the Legendaries! There is one in particular I want to cover with some detail, but the rest I’ll follow with in bullet form so we can finally take this thing home and get our teams set!
Lock-On | Stone Edge & Focus Blast
That’s right… a non-Steel Regi. Hear me out, starting with what the sims say. Holy smokes, wins against nearly two thirds of the core meta? That may seem crazy until you consider what the core meta consists of. Regirock loses to the major Grasses, Grounds, and several Fighters and Waters, it’s true. But even though it has far less resistances and nearly twice as many weaknesses as Registeel, Regirock’s win percentage against the core meta is 20% higher. So what gives? It’s rather simple, really: 1.) Regirock resists Fire, while Registeel is weak to it, and this meta has a fair share of good Fires, and 2.) Stone Edge comes 15 energy cheaper than Steel’s Flash Cannon and for only 10 less listed damage (though it’s even more than that since Rock has about 10 more Attack strength than Steel), and far less things want to take a big Rock move here than do a Steel move. Flash Cannon is resisted by Fire, Water, Electric AND Steel, all prevalent types in the Labyrinth, while Stone Edge is resisted only by Steel, Ground, and Fighting… and keep in mind that some of the better Fighters you might see are not actually Fighters. In a normal environment, there is usually enough around to make Registeel clearly better, but here, it may be time for another less celebrated Regi to have their big moment in the sun. I think the sims are legit, and Regirock will be too for those willing and able to welcome him to their team.
- Obviously, REGISTEEL is not bad, but it does seem to take a back seat to Regirock here overall. Smoke ’em if you got ’em, especially if you lack a halfway decent Great League sized Regirock. weakly raises own hand 🙋♂️ Just don’t expect it to dominate like it can in open Great League play.
- I similarly recommended considering REGICE in Holiday Cup, so if you built one, yes, you can use it here. But it too takes a back seat to Regirock, who was tired of being locked in the trunk and is at the wheel this month.
- Mono type MELMETAL is a solid choice. In this meta, at least, it basically seems to be a better Registeel, conquering essentially the same things, but better. Despite its bulky frame, it IS notably frailer, however. Save a shield for it!
- There is a seeming lack of good Confusion users in this meta due to the ban list, but that just gives VICTINI some extra oomph. As you’ve likely seen throughout this crazy long article, Fire is hip again in this meta, and Victini along with it as a Fire that can take it to things like Toxicroak and Stunfisk too.
- The LEGENDARY BIRDS are viable, but not too thrilling. SHADOW ZAPDOS is probably the best of the best, with ARTICUNO close behind, but you are likely better served just sticking with land-based Electrics and Ices and leaving Flying free to occupy space elsewhere on your team. Zappy and Artie are fine, but nothing particularly special here.
- Same story with LUGIA, really. It’s a passable replacement for the banned Altaria, and Psychic is a typing you should have no real need to make room for elsewhere, so if you have one to flex, go for it. It does enough that nobody should make fun of you for that… and may not be properly prepared to face one down, either!
And there we go… only took about 75,000 characters! 😅 Hopefully this proves helpful in getting you going in Labyrinth Cup and the back half of this season of The Silph Arena. I do apologize it took SO long to get this out this door this time around… I like to leave you more time to prep than this, just couldn’t be avoided this month with the funky format and ALL that needed writing about (and there are some I left out entirely still!) and real life obligations. Good luck!
Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you find your way through the Labyrinth and reach the other side safe and sound. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!
JRE has been playing Pokémon GO since the beginning, but having not done anything Pokémon prior, never imagined he’d get so hooked and so into PvP. In starting his own research, deep into Silph Arena and now even GBL metas, he decided to share his findings so other players could benefit, which turned into full fledged articles that multiplied like Tribbles. He’s now been writing multiple regular article series since early in The Silph Arena Season 1, focused on advanced matchups and budget friendly but still viable alternatives for veteran and rookie players alike. A few of his favorite things include powering up oddball Pokémon, going on hikes, spending time with his kids, dad jokes, and raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
You can follow him on Twitter: @JRESeawolf or reach out on Discord: JRESeawolf#8349