Jan 29, 2020: Nifty Or Thrifty: Rose 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!
Roses are red
Great Balls are blue
It is finally time
To talk Rose Cup with you!
The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series (also available on Reddit if you have any comments or feedback for me) serves a few functions. First, it gives a first blush, comprehensive look at the meta for the upcoming Rose
Bowl Cup, particularly from the perspective of which Pokémon 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?
One reason this writeup took SO long this month is that it is quite diverse, and of course the monkey wrench move rebalance last week required re-re-examining a few things. 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! I’ll try to keep it entertaining, too. 😃
Before we dive in, make sure to familiarize yourself with what makes up Rose Cup. It’s pink, red, purple, and gray Pokémon, with a few notable exceptions. The full list is over here, so check that out (along with Bulbapedia’s color-defined Pokmemon, if you’re confused) before reading on.
Back? Good! Then let’s get right to it.
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 (comparatively) cheap to do so. This category is really where “nifty” and “thrifty” meet in the middle.
Razor Leaf | Dazzling Gleam & Hyper Beam
Say hello to the best Razor Leafer in Rose Cup, one of only a tiny handful of Grasses eligible at all. Cherrim is arguably better than the other Razor Leaf option–Vileplume–because it’s notably bulkier and can thus hang around longer to deliver an extra one or two fast moves that can be the difference. Razor Leafers have value in this meta even with no Water around, ripping through Ground and Rock and winning many neutral matchups as well just due to the sheer power of Razor Leaf.Cherrim reliably beats Gliscor/Gligar and Steelix, which is something that Vileplume cannot guarantee, as we’ll see later. Both have their pros and cons, but as a pure Razor Leafer, Cherrim does Razor Leafer things best in Rose Cup. The charge move(s) usually won’t matter much, but it’s nice that adding a second one is so cheap, at least. (If it WASN’T so cheap, Cherrim would be a prime candidate for the “Thrifty” section.)
Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough
Crashing parties since Jungle Cup, Wiggly looms large yet again as one of the best Pokémon in the Cup. Normal typing doesn’t matter much when Charm rips through all the Fighters long before Wiggly is truly threatened by them, and it tears through the major Ghosts, Grounds, and other neutral matchups as well. It’s hard to take Wiggly down with anything other than a Steel or Fire type… even Poisons aren’t just set it and forget it counters, as Wiggly can take down Drapion and Haunter, two of the most prominent Poisons in the Cup. See for yourself: Wiggly beats a robust ⅔ of the Cup.
Charm | Meteor Mash & Psychic/Moonblast
Believe it or not, this is the first Cup that Clefable AND Wigglytuff have both been eligible in, at least since they both gained relevancy with the addition of Charm. Unfortunately for Clefable, that’s probably a bad thing, as it’s worse across the board than Wiggly. But that doesn’t mean it’s unusable, or even bad, because it really isn’t. It still wins most of the same matchups (though Wiggly wins the head to head, and its Normal subtyping means it wins Haunter and Clefable cannot), it just doesn’t generally win them as convincingly. For what it’s worth, Clefable does have the fastest and hardest viable move available with the awesome Meteor Mash… comes out 5 energy cheaper than Wiggly’s Ice Beam AND hits for 10 more damage. There is real value in that, especially if you’re a bit behind and need a hail mary. Clefable will still win people tournaments this month, even if it can’t fully escape Wiggly’s shadow.
Fire Spin/Wing Attackᴸ | Blast Burnᴸ/Overheat & Dragon Claw
A more conventional Fire weapon from a more civilized age. Zard continues to be good in Rose Cup, though without Grasses and many Bugs around to burn down, its Flying typing is perhaps even more important than usual, allowing it to beat Fighters and Grounds and Fairies thanks to its resistances rather than dealing super effective damage back. Of course, things like Skarmory and Steelix hate the sight of its Fire moves, and there are very few things that want to take a Blast Burn to the face. Or an Overheat, for that matter, for those of you lucky enough to have a Legacy Wing Attack Zard (which is just as good in this meta, and has the edge in coolness).
Fire Spin/Counter | Blast Burnᴸ & Blaze Kick
An interesting conundrum for Blaze lovers this month: do you want to roll with the standard Counter and beat things like Rhyperior and Magcargo, or go against the norm with Fire Spin and instead have a shot at things like Gliscor, Sableye, Skarmory, and Drifblim. Perhaps the better question is… is rolling with Fire Spin going against the norm this month, or should it BE the norm? Hmmmmm. 🤔
Rock Throw | Overheat & Stone Edge
I keep sticking my neck out for Mags, and yes, I’m doing it again. If it had a second move costing 50k or more, than I’d probably quietly sit on it most months, but it doesn’t, so here we are. I mean, look what it can do with just Rock Throw. Remember, while there ARE still Grounds to watch out for considering it is double weak to their attacks–and it has to steer clear of most Fighters–its other killer double weakness (Water) is banned, and thus there are very, very few Water attacks to watch out for. Flying, Fire, Poison, and Fairy all have reason to fear Magcargo, and they are abundant in this Cup. If you took my advice one of the many times I advised investing in one in the past, I think Mags is deployable yet again. Somebody has to stump for it!
Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge/Thunderbolt
So, I had to rewrite THIS whole section after the January 23rd moveset rebalancing, because Volt Switch went from absolute joke to one of the best fast moves in the entire game! You can throw A-Golem in here too, though Graveler is strictly better, winning all the same matchups as well or better, plus adding Charmers Wigglytuff and Clefable. As with the Smack Downers, Fires (minus Counter Blaze) and Flyers (it even beats Gliscor/gar if it sniffs out the Ground move, and nearly beats Gliscor regardless) and Poisons–and Ghosts, all of which new and improved A-Graveler takes down–beware. A-Grav was solid before the buff to Volt Switch, and while the double weakness to Ground moves is worrisome, Alolan Graveler is a top option overall now.
Smack Down | X-Scissor & Rock Blast/Rock Slide
There are a small handful of eligible Smack Downers, but Crustle is A.) the cheapest and B.) has a small niche in being a Bug and being able to deal Bug damage too, and importantly with Smack Down, a low energy move at that. This makes it the only SD user that beats all the Darks (yes, the D/Ps and Dark Ghosts too), while also still smashing things that Rocks should smash… namely Fires (it’s the only one that can beat Counter Blaziken too) and Flyers (aside from Gliscor/Gligar, as with the other SDers). It’s even the best Smack Downer against Poisons, with only Vileplume and Legacy Nidoking surviving, whereas Rhyperior and Aggron ironically struggle with things like Drapion, Muk, and Swalot.
Smack Down | Heavy Slam & Thunder/Stone Edge
In truth, Heavy Slam is all you really need. Between that and Smack Down itself, Aggron handles the Fires (besides Counter Blaze), all Flyers but Gliscor/Gligar, the non-Dark Ghosts, Skuntank and Swalot, Skarmory (as long as it just spams Slam and doesn’t try to get cute), and all the Faeries. The other charge moves, especially Thunder, have some interesting implications, but also a lot of overlap with what Smack Down and Heavy Slam already provide, but they come cheap and are worth adding for an exclamation point when you need it. Assuming you need Aggron on your team at all, of course.
There have been Cups where the reverse was true, but in Rose Cup, Aggron outshines Lairon. Body
Spam Slam is resisted alarmingly often in Rose, and diminishes the value of Lairon overall as a result. It’s certainly viable, but doesn’t have as clear or as solid a role as Aggron and other more Rock-heavy beaters.
Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball
I wouldn’t call it dominating at all, but yes, Bats is still solid. Handles the Fairies, handles the Fighters, handles the Ghosts and its fellow Poisons aside from Haunter and Drapion, even handles Gliscor and Gligar. Dislikes Rock and Steel and big fat neutral damage from stuff like Charizard and Lickilicky. If that sounds like something your team needs (and many teams could benefit from that, methinks), Golbat remains an MVP for budget players.
Again, though, with Crobat… not so much.
Ice Fang | Crunch & Poison Fang/Play Rough
Dangit, here I go again. I keep seeing the potential in Mightyena–and the fact that it can be built dirt cheap–and I keep getting let down. But here we are again: ‘Yena has the potential to be alright in Rose. You like that it can Ice Fang the big Grounds to death, especially Gliscor and Gligar, as well as other Flyers like Drifblim, and also handle big Ghosts Sableye and Haunter. You DON’T like that it cannot deal with OTHER big Flyers like Charizard and Skarmory, gets wrecked by Fighters, and wastes the potential of Poison Fang by falling completely flat against the Faeries. Mightyena is always going to be a mixed bag, but yes, it COULD work out for you. Or as my oft-broken heart will tell you, it may not work out at all. Test it out and let me know. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me about a dozen times and… well, I’ll just leave it there.
Air Slash | Sky Attack & Heat Wave/Hyper Beam
With most “regular” Flyers falling into invalid color categories, we’re left with these two to fill the Noctowl/Pidgeot role. And honestly, that role isn’t as necessary here as it’s been in past Cups, with there being very little Grass to speak of and hardly any truly relevant Bugs, and the Normal subtyping being a liability against Fighters, birds don’t have much to do here. So they just pick at a seemingly random smattering of meta choices like Sableye, Golbat, Haunter, A-Wak, Blaze, and Gliscor/Gligar. There’s value there, and Tranquill in particular seems to have developed a cult-like following at some point along the line, but I wouldn’t exactly build your team around these two. But as back of the bench fliers (haha see what I did there?)… sure, go for it.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
The 10k moves are pretty easy to justify, but here is where the real decision making starts to come in to play. 50,000 dust is not something easily tossed away. As is often the case, the majority of eligible ‘mons in Rose fall in this category, and here they are!
Counter | Rock Slide & Cross Chop/Close Combat/Dynamic Punch
May as well kick this section off with the big guy, ranked #1 on PvPoke at the time of this writing. What makes Champ so good? Well first off, as I’ve discussed in the past, Cross Chop has quietly been a very good PvP move for a while now. It comes early and often and applies very good shield pressure… and/or racks the damage up quickly if unshielded. Champ’s other Fighting charge moves are still fine too, but my top recommendation is Cross Chop. But what REALLY makes Champ shine is Rock Slide, giving it excellent counter coverage against Flyers and everything else that resists Fighting moves. Between Fighting and Rock, there are just two Pokémon in the entire Cup that Champ cannot hit for at least neutral damage (Medicham and Nidoking). This is what gives it the second highest win percentage in Rose Cup, nearly 80%. It beats up all non-Confusion/non-Charm Steels, Rocks, Darks, Normals, Bugs, Electrics, Ices, and Faeries, all Fires but Flying Charizard & Ghostly A-Wak, all opposing Fighters but Psychic Medicham, and all Grounds but Flying Gliscor and Gligar and Poisonous Nidoking. It’s going to force its way onto the majority of teams in February, so look out!
Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Ball
Another heavy hitter, A-Wak is back, and still wack… uh, yo. (Word!) The addition of Fire Spin at the beginning of this season has really gotten A-Wak firing on all cylinders ever since. Its unique combination of Fire, Ghost, and even Ground damage makes it a player here yet again, picking off its fellow Fires (thanks to Bone Club), Grasses and Bugs and most Steels (thanks to Spin), and a heap of other relevant things thanks in large part to the devastating Shadow Ball. Fighters and Fairies flee in terror just like the others I already listed. With Water out of the picture, the best way to beat A-Wak is with a stick, while it sleeps… or perhaps with Grounds or Rocks or Darks or certain pesky Flyers. Either or. But have SOME plan to beat it, because it’s going to be everywhere, yet again, for the third time in the last four Cups.
Shadow Claw | Shadow Punch & Shadow Ball
Remember what made Haunter a breakout star in Season 1 Regionals? It could run roughshod over the then-nigh-unstoppable Medicham, as well as other popular picks like Skarmory and Steelix. Well, none of that has changed. What HAS changed is that so far in Season 2, Dark Pulse has been a viable (in some ways, even superior) sub-in over Shadow Ball, giving those without Legacy Haunter reason to celebrate… and that is decidedly NOT the case in Rose Cup. Shadow Ball is rather clearly the best here, taking out all the Fighters and meta Fires and other very key things like Gliscor, Drifblim, Stank, Golbat, Clefable, and still Skarmory/Steelix too. If there’s a case to be made for a non-Ball move, it’s actually probably Sludge Bomb, which does best against what little Grass there is, and more importantly the Fairies… it’s the only charge move with which Haunter can hope to overcome Ghost-resistant Wigglytuff. But really, Ball Haunter is the way you (probably) want to go here or perhaps not try to haunt anything at all. Which makes the fact that Niantic has brought Shadow Ball BACK all the sweeter!
Rock Throw/Spark & Take Your Pick
Yep, here’s another one you’ve seen a lot of this season. And just as we’ve settled into what the established moveset is for A-Wak long ago, we still remain completely unsettled on what the heck to do with Probopass. Rock Throw? Spark? Rock Slide? Magnet Bomb? Thunderbolt?! Gaaaaaaaaaah! Yes, Rose is not exempt from the eternal debate. My personal recommendation is probably Rock Throw/Magnet Bomb/Thunderbolt to tease out all of Probo’s best qualities, but it really is mostly just a matter of preference and what you’re comfortable with at this point. The moves all do the same job, really, which is throttling basically anything not Ground or Fighting. Keep it far away from those, but otherwise, you can leave it out there against almost anything. It’s a nice jack of all trades case where the moves actually all compliment each other really, really well. Bastiodon who?
Smack Down/Mud Slap | Surf & Player’s Choice
Well, the one move I feel confident in recommending is Surf. Water is scarce here, and for good reason: it hurts a LOT of things in Rose Cup. But beyond that…. There is a case to be made for ALL of Rhyperior’s moves, including both fast moves. Rhyperior can slay just about everything in this Cup depending on what moves it carries, and I won’t insult your intelligence by just rattling off what its various Rock, Ground, and even Fighting (Superpower) moves hurt most… and remember that Skull Bash is still lurking out there too. This guy is going to need a more detailed analysis than I can justify in “Nifty Or Thrifty”, so look for a feature article on it in the near future, but for now I’ll say this: Rhyperior is going to be on a LOT of teams in February, and deservedly so. It may not often be THE best option, but with its wide variety of genuinely GOOD moves, it can fill a lot of holes… and roles. So prepare your… souls? For trolls? Let’s move on… a good goal(s)!
Rhydon is like baby Rhyperior, though obviously it’s limited to Mud Slap variants. But their stats are virtually identical, and Rhydon is less of a potential TM sink if you don’t care about the moves unique to Rhyperior (Superpower, Skull Bash) or have a Legacy Megahorn ‘Don you want to show off. It’s equally viable, just a bit more predictable for the opponent. As for Rhyhorn… well, we’ll come back to THAT later too.
Fire Spin | Flamethrower & Power-Up Punch
For a Pokémon that has made basically no impact to this point, and is left with two fading-in-popularity charge moves, Heatmor carries itself remarkably well here in Rose. Turns out that PuP is still a good bait move, for those doubting, and the ability to pump up the Fire damage with PuP’s built in attack buff still hurts a lot of things. With Water banned and Dragons non-existent, the only things that resist Fire in the Cup are other Fires and Rock types (and even several of them have a second typing like Steel or Bug that renders Fire damage neutral). This is why simple and straightforward Heatmor can overpower things like Drapion, Golbat, Drfblim, Gligar, and Medicham in neutral-on-mostly-neutral slugfests, as well as torching the (non-Rock chucking) Steels, Grasses, Bugs, and Fairies as you would expect. With a well timed (and very realistically timed) bait, it can even outrace Charizard and walk away with over half its life left over. Heatmor has a real chance to finally make some noise for those who can get one.
Poison Jab/Bite | Crunch & Flamethrower
After being a world beater in its first few Cups, Stank has regressed a bit of late. It’s not that it’s suddenly gotten worse, it’s just that other things around it have gotten better. (See ‘Drapion’ below.) The charge moves are pretty set, but the fast moves give it different flavors. Bite allows it to take out things like Licki, Magcargo, and more importantly, beat Golbat and annihilate Haunter, but Poison Jab is what it needs to beats the Fairies, the mirror (and Drapion), and interestingly, Charizard. I lean Jab, but that may all be academic, as Skuntank may have a harder time breaking onto people’s teams of six than it is accustomed to. It has solid roles to still fill in, but it’s somewhat limited in this meta. There are perhaps better options, like the following….
Poison Jab | Thunder Punch & Dark Pulse
Here, there’s not much debate about the moves. Thunder Punch (which still makes zero sense to me on Muk, but hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and all that) gifts Muk nearly all of its core meta wins by itself, though it needs Dark Pulse overall (where the TP-only numbers drop pretty dramatically). As per usual, Muk doesn’t really blow anything away in dramatic fashion, but it’s solid against a good swath of the meta, mostly the Triple Fs: Fighters, Fairies, and Fires. It isn’t quite as good against Ghosts as Skuntank is, but is better than Stank against most everything else.
Ice Shard | Avalanche & Shadow Ball
Really the only torchbearer for Ice in Rose Cup (because really, are YOU going to use Jynx? didn’t think so), so should have a nice niche, right? Well… sorta. Gliscor and Gligar hate it, no doubt, as do most other Flyers, Fairies, Grasses, Grounds (as long as they aren’t Rock-heavy, like Smack Down Rhyperior, or Steely like… well, Steelix) and interestingly, Darks. (Glalie beats everything part Dark, which surprised me, at least.) That’s not bad, and could actually fit right in on some teams with weaknesses among those wins. Glalie could be a role player, but not much beyond that. Too much Fire and Fighting and Rock to keep it in check.
Charm/Snarl | Close Combat & Crunch/Play Rough
Now here’s an interesting choice. As a pure Charmer, Wiggly and Clefable are both cheaper AND better, but Bull has got a few things going for it that they don’t. Among those three Charmers, Bull is uniquely able to overcome Skuntank (by sheer force of will) and Alolan Graveler (and without Close Combat). But perhaps even more interesting is that it alone can operate effectively as a NON-Charmer, with Snarl quickly powering out interesting and unique-among-Fairy charge moves like Crunch and especially buffed Close Combat. A Fairy should not be able to beat things like Probopass, yet here we are. Not even Steelix is safe. I wouldn’t call Granbull a TOP option, but it certainly IS an interesting one.
Counter | Aerial Ace & Drill Run/Megahorn
While Escavalier broke out a bit in Fusion right away, here it flits about on the very edge of viability. Its unique movesets gift it with unique utility, but not a ton of it. Its best role is as a Counter user, but other things do that better, and the edge cases that its varied charge moves bring in are probably better pursued elsewhere too. A Steel that struggles against Fairies, as one example, is not a good place to be. If you built one for Fusion, good… hold on to it. Just maybe look elsewhere this particular go-round.
Lick | Shadow Ball & Earthquake
You would be forgiven for not even knowing Licki HAD Shadow Ball now… it was buried in the massively impactful move rebalancing just a month ago. But lo and behold, Lickilicky now has a full Ghost moveset, and Earthquake on top of that. What does that mean here in Rose Cup? Not mind-blowing things, but certainly good things. Obviously all the Ghosts, but also big Steels like Probopass and Steelix and Skarmory, and stuff like Gligar and Golbat and Magcargo too. Like I said, not groundbreaking, but enough to carve out a spot on the right teams and lick its way into their hearts like a slobbery pooch.
Lickitung is actually pretty close, even with overall worse charge moves, but it’s a much heftier investment (must be maxed) and I generally wouldn’t recommend it. Grass Knot does have some good wins against things like MS Rhinos and A-Grav, though. Maybe try it out if you already built one for Ferocious Cup, but I don’t know that I’d build one just for this.
Thunder Shock | Discharge & Magnet Bomb/Zap Cannon
Rejoice, as we can ALL land ourselves a formerly double Legacy ‘Ton now. Seriously, the Legacy moves that Niantic has brought back the last couple months are one of the best decisions they have made in years. And you want both Legacy moves in this meta too. The debate is over the second move. **Zap Cannon** is better on paper, but there’s a hidden perk in Magnet Bomb: the only change Magneton really has to give something back to Grounds. Without it, the many Grounds tear it apart with no resistance at all. You could even argue for Magnet Bomb/Zap Cannon, but we’ll have to see how that all plays out. IF it plays out, because Magneton’s evolution may be better here anyway….
Spark | Wild Charge & Mirror Shot/Flash Cannon
Mirror Shot was just what the doctor ordered for ‘Zone, who needed a baity move in the worst way. While that does mean that, yes, some of its wins rely on good baiting with Mirror, the overall picture is quite… well, shall we say rosy? 😏 (Come on, you knew that was coming at SOME point!) ‘Zone can abuse pretty much everything ‘Ton does, just a bit better. And while ‘Ton with its Magnet Bombs can land some good jabs on Ground/Rocks, ‘Zone is better against Charizard, who will also likely be everywhere in this meta. Both Magneboys have their pros and cons, and maybe you can’t use either of them, but if you CAN, get to know their strengths and weaknesses and see what fits YOUR team best.
Silver Wind & Poison Fang
Honestly, old reliable Moth isn’t so reliable in Rose Cup. It still wrecks Fighters and (non-Dark) Poisons thanks to Confusion, and Fairies thanks at least in part to Poison Fang, but that’s really about it. Other things can do that AND other things on top of those roles, so Moth may be best sitting this one out. But Fang baiting is critical to making it work properly in its ideal but limited roles, so props to Niantic for bringing it back!
As for Chansey and Blissey, as I know people are wondering… just don’t. Please, PLEASE don’t. You will lose friends. And I will lose readers if I spend any more time on them!
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
Start the breathing exercises, because now we’re getting into some expensive decisions. Squeeze that stress ball as we push forward….
Fury Cutter | Night Slash & Earthquake
Let’s start with the most eye popping thing: 85% win percentage in Rose Cup. Again, that is EIGHTY FIVE percent. Alright, ’nuff said, moving on!
Nah, I ain’t letting you off THAT easy. 😄 Gliscor is obviously a beast in this meta… so many things that I will instead list the 18 Pokémon it struggles with in 1v1 shielding: Gligar, Skarmory, Charizard, Golbat, Crobat, Tranquill, Unfezant, Aerodactyl, Glalie, Haunter, Gengar, Drifblim, Drifloon, Mismagius, Wormadam (Trash), Cherrim, Clefable, and Wigglytuff. In other words, it struggles most versus the meta Flyers, Fairies, Ice (AKA Glalie), heavy Grass damage (Cherrim), Trashadam, and interestingly, the big Ghosts. But most everything else is fair game, and that holds mostly true in shieldless and double shield slugfests too; there is some variance, of course, but the Flyers, Fairies, Grass, Glalie, and most Ghosts remain a persistent issue throughout. If you’re going to run Gliscor, get to know the small but potent group of things to be wary of, and get ready to use those things yourself when your opponent’s Gliscor inevitably shows up. This kind of dominance is very hard to ignore… expect to see a LOT of Gliscor in February. Its usage will probably closely align with its win percentage.
Wing Attack | Night Slash & Dig
…or you might see Baby Gliscor instead, with its own respectable winning ways. Since I didn’t discuss it with Gliscor, I’ll make a note on the moves here. Both work best with Night Slash and their respective Ground charge move: Earthquake for Gliscor and Dig here for Gligar. These two moves combine to give them better, wider coverage than what Aerial Ace can offer. The fast move, however, varies. Gliscor wants Fury Cutter, while Gligar prefers Wing Attack. Don’t ask me why just yet, as this is requiring more research and number crunching than I have had time to do just yet, just trust me that they consistently get their best results with the moves I have recommended in this column. Basically, for now, just trust me. 😉 (Or perhaps more accurately, trust the numbers! 🤓) Anyway, in general, Gligar has the same type of wins (just less of them) and same threats as Gliscor (Flying, Fairies, etc.). The best thing going for it, perhaps, is that it consistently beats Gliscor head to head, thanks mostly to its superior bulk. Both of these flying whatever-they-ares are top meta options in Rose Cup.
Dragon Tail | Crunch & Earthquake
Yes, it’s still very good. Still hates Fire, Fighting, and most other Grounds, and chews through Rocks, Ghosts, Poisons, Steels, and most Flyers. Good against the core meta, with wins/losses following those generalities almost to the letter. Veteran AND new players are probably all familiar with Steelix by now, so I won’t waste any more of your time except to say, again, that Steelix will be a common encounter in yet another meta, with the same moveset you’ve seen several times before. Don’t forget to account for it as you put together your own team!
Hex | Shadow Ball & Icy Wind
In some ways, ‘Blim is the anti-Steelix. It pretty easily handles the Fighters and Grounds that drive Steelix crazy (even Machamp with its Flyer-slaying Rock Slide), but struggles with the Poisons and Rocks and Steels that Steelix handles with relative ease. It’s less of a “safe” switch than it was in Sinister Cup and instead more of a role player here–perhaps tag teaming with something like Steelix!–but it does well in those roles, and benefits nicely from the post-Sinister buff to Icy Wind. Don’t know that I’d recommend building one from scratch NOW if you don’t have a double moved one already, but especially if you already invested, yes, Blim has a place in Rose Cup on the right team(s).
Bullet Seed/Metal Claw | Mirror Shot & Power Whip
Like with Drifblim, if you built one back in Sinister Cup, you can pull it off the shelf again here, even though I’ve seen NOBODY talking about it. But it’s a Grass type in a Cup severely lacking in them, and the only useable one without Razor Leaf. Unfortunately, that means Bullet Seed, but as we saw back in Sinister, that can somehow still work. Thorn is deathly afraid of Fighting and especially Fire, which as we’ve discussed a couple times, are both in abundance in Rose Cup. But Fairies, Rocks, and especially Grounds want NOTHING to do with it, and they are in abundance as well. Metal Claw technically pulls in more wins, but against mostly meaningless stuff like Scizor, Weezing, and Gengar. Bullet Seed can gain you things like Lickilicky and Magnezone (yes, really), and is my general recommendation if I’m going to recommend Thorn at all… which I guess I just did! Again, maybe not one to build from the ground up NOW, but might be worth dusting off if you already have one on hand. It fills a pretty unique hole.
Ice Fang/Bite | Aqua Tail & Crunch/Fell Stinger
With Water banned, Drap’s Aqua Tail is a must… it is a HUGE asset in this meta. But after that, well, there’s some debate. Conventional wisdom so far seems to be going back to the past with Bite after Ice Fang was all the rage recently, and then Fell Stinger and its potential debuff for the new hotness, and that set is PvPoke’s recommendation right now too. However, you all know by now I don’t always just go with the grain. 🙃 I present Exhibit B: Ice Fang, along with the old school Crunch… in other words, the same moveset I recommended in Timeless Cup. The overall win percentage dips a little, but where it counts (against the core meta), it’s the slightly better set, dropping Mud Slap Rhyperior, Lickilicky, and Charizard (though it can still win that too with a very slight energy lead or if Zard goes Blast Burn first), but gaining the mirror (against Bite Drap) and, critically, Gliscor and Gligar. And despite conventional wisdom, Ice Fang Drap STILL beats A-Marowak thanks to Crunch and Aqua Tail. Bite sets are certainly viable and do a lot of good things, but I caution against assuming it’s the ONLY way to go. Put on your rose colored glasses (was that a pun? I’ll never tell!) and look at the whole picture.
Here I list stuff that may look affordable looking at just the cost for a second charge move, 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 and do not already have them built, give strong consideration to looking for them in a Lucky trade. Good luck!
Counter | Ice Punch & Psychic/Dynamic Punch
My personal recommendation for the charge moves is Ice Punch and Psychic, giving Medicham a beastly win percentage in Rose, and really good against the core meta as well. That move combination brings out all the best sides of Cham, with Counter doing plenty of Fighting damage and then the charges giving it potent and unique coverage, beating down Fighters, Steels, Rocks, and Grounds alike (though Flying Skarm and Gliscor/gar remain frustratingly just out of reach). Flying is one of the few ways to pretty reliably beat Cham (though they have to shield and dance around Ice Punches), or famously Fairies or Ghosts, but that’s about all Cham has to really fear. Of course, just as famously, Medicham MUST be maxed to operate at peak potential, thus why it made sense to lead off this section of the article. If you lack one and want to roll with it over Machamp, it’s going to be crazy expensive to build unless you can manage to land one Lucky. Good luck!
Shadow Claw | Foul Play & Power Gem/Return
Yep, Sableye is an already famous “gotta max that!” candidate that goes WAY back in Season 1. There’s a silver lining, though: if you can land yourself a Purified one in a trade (hopefully a Lucky trade on top of that!), the 75k second move cost AND powering up both come cheaper, and you probably don’t even need to burn a TM getting rid of Return, as it is just as good here as the more common Power Gem. There are slight differences, of course (Skuntank and Crustle and a couple other flipping from close wins to close losses or vice versa depending on the second move), but Gem and Return are so close you are unlikely to notice the difference between them. Might make sense to pour one out for Return’s glory days and TM it away for Gem down the road, but in the here and now? Let Return have one more fleeting moment in the sun. It deserves it in Rose Cup.
Though it does NOT need to be anywhere near maxed, this seems the most sensible place to mention Spiritomb as well. Of course, it doesn’t have the move variety of Sable, being stuck with inferior Dark fast moves and actually pretty good Ghost charge moves (Ominous Wind, Shadow Ball). In general, it’s inferior, with a less diverse win spread than Sableye, but it DOES notable eke out wins against Sable itself, as well as Machamp and Gligar and a couple other things that overcome Sableye. It’s worth a look, especially if you simply can’t afford to max a Sableye. Tomb works well in Great League without even needing to hit Level 30, much less 40.
Wormadam (Trash Cloak)
Confusion | Iron Head & Bug Buzz
Currently flying under the radar, perhaps that should not be so. Trashadam may not have the sheer volume of wins some would look for, but it holds a unique place in the meta as the only truly good Confusioner (yes, that includes Venomoth), and that ALWAYS has value. Unfortunately its Steel typing leaves it somewhat vulnerable to Fighting (so Medicham escapes, though other Fighters generally don’t), and its double weakness to Fire gives it a glaring Achilles’ heel in this meta. But it tears through Fighters and Faeries and Poisons (of which there are many) like nobody’s business, and conveniently handles Gliscor and Gligar too (and amazingly any meta Ground not named Steelix or Smack Down Rhyperior). Trashy is anything BUT trash in this meta. You may not need it (or just may not be able to afford it, despite its low 10k second move cost, since this little guy has to be maxed), but you will be seeing it at some point, so have a plan to deal with its unique threat profile.
Mud Slap | Bulldoze & Horn Attack
You may not remember, but I recommended Rhyhorn in Ferocious Cup too. Not for the thrifty, but it IS once again nifty. That’s a higher win percentage than Rhydon at its best, and it’s solid where it counts too. The gut reaction is probably that Horn Attack is allowing Rhyhorn to bait its way to a bunch of wins, but that’s not really true. What does that all mean? It’s a spice pick, no doubt, but Rhyhorn is legit viable in this meta. It’s much chunkier than either of its later evolutions, Mud Slap is better than it was in Ferocious, and while its charge moves aren’t fantastic, they are good enough and the opponent could struggle with feeling out their timing. Spice, but LEGIT spice… the kind I like to highlight here!
Seems appropriate, after talking about investing huge resources into MAXING things, that I highlight some Pokemon that can forgo a second move if your budget is tight. Thankfully, there are a couple to discuss….
Steel Wing/Air Slash | Sky Attack
Going old school with this one. In my early articles, I tended to recommend NOT adding Flash Cannon to Skarmory as a way to save a decent chunk of dust (75,000 of it) without missing out on much. I eventually started recommending Cannon be added, but you know what? If you’re new to the scene and haven’t invested in a Skarmory (it’s been quite some time since we were able to use it in competitive PvP, after all) this is one of the better places to save some dust in what could be an expensive Cup. Adding Cannon on to the necessary Sky Attack DOES bring in some wins, but mostly against stuff you don’t care that much about (things like Solrock, Aerodactyl, and a number of unevolved ‘mons like Nosepass, Onix, and Pupitar). Sky Attack does at least 95% of what you want Skarmory to do for you, and that 5% is really more like 1-2% among relevant things. In fact, straight Sky Attack is the only way to reliably beat one major ‘mon: Smack Down Rhyperior, as delaying until you could fire a Flash Cannon (whether you actually do or not) can lead to disaster. Do note I used the unconventional Steel Wing in those sims rather than the to-this-point standard Air Slash. With Steel Wing you lose a little gusto against Fires and Fighters, but you lose to the biggest ones in each of those categories even WITH Air Slash, and the gains you get with Steel Wing–Rock types especially, as exemplified with those Rhyperior sims–have real value in this meta. Steel Wing also uniquely wins against things like Drifblim and the mirror match versus Air Slash Skarm. Again, conventional wisdom says Air Slash and add Flash Cannon as a second move, but conventional wisdom sometimes bears reconsideration. This may very well be another one of those cases.
Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb
Remember what I said about Cherrim almost being moved into the Thrifty section? Yeah, the low cost of its second charge move kept it where it is, but that’s not the case with Plume and its 50k second move cost. Neither Moonblast nor Solar Beam are realistically going to do anything to help 99% of the time. Sludge Bomb is all you need. (Well, really Razor Leaf is all you need, but you know what I mean. 😉) Plume’s advantage over Cherrim is better handling Fighting and Fairy types due to Plume’s Poison subtyping resisting their moves (as opposed to pure Grass Cherrim). Its downside is comparatively low bulk (significantly less HP than Cherrim), which allows Cherrim to do better in general matchups and uniquely beat Gliscor and Gligar and Steelix and such. Tradeoffs. Both work fine, just know their strengths and limitations if you decide to use one.
I’ve touched on some Legacy moves already, but there is at least one ‘mon that really only enters the discussion with certain Legacy moves:
Fury Cutterᴸ | Earth Power & Earthquake
No, *Poison Jab* didn’t suddenly become a bad move. This just isn’t the meta for it. No, this is instead the rare chance for those of you with Legacy Fury Cutter to flex. It still isn’t a world beater, but it IS the best and only King you want to deploy here, so don’t miss what might be your only good opportunity. Smoke ’em if you got ’em!
And before I ramble on any further… that’s a wrap! As with all my articles, take all of this with a big grain of salt. I am not trying to persuade you one way or the other, and of course everybody’s dust situations are different. But if you don’t have a dust pool/vault resembling that of Scrooge McDuck, then perhaps this can help you balance the cost of where to be thrifty with your hard-earned dust (and candy!).
Before I go, I want to extend my thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last year and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And my thanks to all of you, for your own encouragement, support, and–this month especially–patience throughout Season 1 and now into Season 2.
May your own personal rose parade be merry and filled with sweet victories in February. Good luck, and catch you next time! Until then, you can find me on Twitter, where I’ve been chatting Rose Cup for a week already! 🌹
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