Sep 18, 2019: Nifty Or Thrifty: Sinister Cup
“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!
On September 27th, Niantic implemented move “rebalancing” that changed the stats of existing moves and added some new moves as well. This article is in the process of being updated to incorporate these changes.
Aaaaaaand we’re back. Welcome to Season 2 of The Silph Arena!
It’s been a while since we had a regular old “Nifty Or Thrifty”, so to review… this article series serves a few functions. First, it gives an early (WAY early this month!) look at the meta for the upcoming Sinister Cup, particularly from the perspective of which ones are likely worth the cost of leveling up and adding a second charge move (nifty) and which ones would probably work out fine without heavy investment (thrifty), including some alternatives to the more expensive options. For those on a stardust budget–and/or folks trying to save up some dust for the future–it can be daunting trying to figure out where to spend or not spend it. We all want to field competitive teams of six, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps instead channel our inner scrooge?
Since the meta is brand spankin’ new, I have tried to whittle down without leaving too much out, but as per usual with these, it’s likely to be a long read, I’ll warn you up front! But I’ll try to keep it entertaining, too. 😃
(One small caveat: since I wrote this before the meta was announced and before PvPoke could be officially updated with said meta, I had to leave out Sinister Cup specific sims. I DID try to exhaustively scour Great League in general and found all the matchup data I needed, but the sims I link this time will be specific one on one matchups or a link to Great League on the whole and you’ll have to pare it down – as I did – by searching the results by type. Sorry about that! Future Sinister articles will obviously be able to be more specific. And if I can, I’ll update the links after PvPoke is updated.)
With that all out of the way…let’s get started!
The Baby Discount
Life Pro Tip: this is the ONLY time that something you purchase for a baby will be considered cheap. 🤑
Spoiler Alert: Pretty much every baby form you’d evolve and use in this (and every other) Cup is worth a second move, because it’s dirt cheap to do so (a comparatively paltry 10,000 dust and 25 candy you probably have plenty of). But I’m still going to break them down for you, so here we go!
Power-Up Punch & [Elemental] Punch
“Jackie” Chan is criminally underrated. I have written before about how a Counter/PuP/Ice Punch ‘Chan is really just as good as Medicham for a LOT less investment. And that’s not just blowing smoke. Hitmonchan does lose the head to head versus Cham, but it wins ALL the same Steel matchups as Medicham except Trashy Wormadam, and all the same Fighting matchups (they both lose to Heracross, Gallade, and Toxicroak but beat all the rest). Against Psychics, Medicham’s typing does mean it lasts longer (before still losing to almost all the relevant Psychics anyway), but on the flipside, Hitmonchan’s lack of Ghost vulnerability means that it hold up much better than ‘Cham against Ghosts (even pulling out wins over Banette and Gengar, both of which shred Medicham). Hitmonchan is budget Medicham, folks, in this and nearly every format they’re both part a part of.
Hitmontop and Hitmonlee really don’t make the cut, though. Their moves don’t hold up nearly as well outside of the Steel matchups (who are the main reason I think Fighting is in this Cup at all, really… all Fighters SHOULD be able to at least win those!), and they really struggle to beat much of significance against the Psychics, Ghosts, or even Fighters (who resist all their non-Fighting moves). I recommend leaving them on the bench this time.
Power-Up Punch & Shadow Ball
With its unique typing and potent moves, Lucario has shined in every Season 1 Cup where he was available, And that should continue here. Lucario can beat every single Steel type (just type in “Steel” in the results to see what I mean), old and new. And while it loses one of one versus most Psychics and Ghosts in sims, with just a slight energy advantage, Luc starts winning the majority of those matchups where other Fighters wouldn’t have a prayer. Why? Shadow Ball. You really need Ball to give Luc a fighting chance (get it? fighting? I made a funny!) against Psychic and Ghost types… it’s what really sets him apart in a meta like this where half the eligible types are weak to Shadow Ball. Just make sure to add the second charge move BEFORE you evolve and save yourself 65k dust and a lot of hard-to-get candy.
Shadow Ball & Psyshock
As noted in the past, Chimecho has got the moves. It doesn’t get much better than Shadow Ball and Psyshock for a Psychic type. With Extrasensory being faster in generating energy than Confusion, Chimecho beats ALL Fighters (well, okay, it ties Rock Slide Machamp and Legacy Primeape, but…) and outraces the majority of Psychics, including Gallade, Bronzong, Slowbro, and of course Medicham. But while it notably beats Haunter, it does struggle against most Ghosts and Steels. But it’s only 10k to add a second move before evolving a Chingling and only about 20k from there to evolve it up to just under 1500 CP, so Chimecho is very budget friendly and possibly the best stand-in for the ineligible Shadow Ball Hypno. It’s worth a look.
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
Beyond the evolved babies, there is actually a dearth of cheap, 10,000 dust second move options this
time, in large part because hardly any starters are eligible. But there ARE a few to cover, so let’s get to it!
Wild Charge & Thunder Punch
In the past, I advocated for Psychic (the move) as a possible option for AhChu, and one might be tempted to go that direction with the buff Psychic recieved in the 27 September update. (It is now 90 damage for 55 energy, which is pretty darn good!) But even with that, and even in a Cup where Psychic would logically blow up Fighters, neither it nor Grass Knot seem to be the way to go here. It’s pure Electric or bust! Raichu beats all (well, okay, ALMOST all) Fighters with just Electric moves anyway, as well as every Psychic except a close loss to Bronzong (well, at least a tie now with the newly added Thunder Shock!) and those that inherently resist its moves (Exeggutor, Claydol, Latias). It’s not all fun and games though, as AhChu struggles against most of the Steels and Ghosts… though it is one of the best counters in Sinister Cup to Drifblim, and we’ll see later that that’s far from insignificant. Anyway, AhChu is a unique and potent threat, as it was in Nightmare Cup, and though it has its limitations, it is totally worth the cheapo second move.
Flash Cannon & Hydro Pump
Truly unique in Sinister Cup, with Waterfall and Hydro Pump, Empoleon is a classic Water that gets to sneak in due to its Steel subtyping. And that means something, since Water is resisted by almost nothing here. Empoleon beats every other relevant Steel that lacks Electric moves (the Magneboys and Spark Probopass) or Counter (read as: Lucario) or is a closet Grass (meet the new, weird Ferrothorn. It bullies Bastiodon (and Rock Throw Probo), Steelix, Excadrill and others due to their Water-weak secondary typings, and outslugs Bronzong and Mawile and the others with the sheer damage of neutral Waterfall. It also beats down the majority of Psychics, including Gardevoir (yup, Charm too), Alakazam, Lugia, Girafaziggy and others, really only taking loses to things with a typing that beats Water like AhChu and Exeggutor. The Emperor also lords over Ghosts, with only the tanks Drifblim and certain variants of the bulky Dusclops escaping alive (well, as “alive” as a Ghost can be, anyway). It also washes away the Fire Fighters (no, I didn’t miss the pun, and now you’re welcome for not letting you miss it either! 😆), and manages to tie Gallade, but as a Steel type it does tend to lose to the Fighters. Still, Empoleon does a lot of (unique) good things, and I think it will emerge as one of the top meta options in Sinister Cup. Find a good one now!
Thunder & Stone Edge/Heavy Slam
I will keep this brief. Yes, with Smack Down now possible, Aggron is… is… iiiiiiissssss… viable. Whew, that was hard to type. I’ll just rattle off the wins, because there ARE notable ones: Drifblim, Lugia, Gardevoir, Banette, Haunter, Alolan Marowak, Cresslia, Dusclops, and others. Just don’t let it play around Fighters or even most of the Psychics, and it’ll be… okay. And that’s the most screen time I can bring myself to give this bane of raiding past. 😬
Blast BurnL & Blaze Kick
Blaziken is really good against the Steels, as you would probably expect since its Fighting AND Fire
moves do extra work there… but it all kinda falls apart after that. Fire Spin or Counter matters little…
Blaze struggles to do anything beyond the basic Fighting role in this Cup, and even in that anti-Steel role,
it is uniquely ineffective among Fighters against Empoleon, since its Fire moves are limited to
dealing neutral damage. RIP. I don’t recommend Blaze in Sinister Cup, but rather than just bury it in the
graveyard at the end of the article, I wanted you to understand why.
Similarly, Infernape, Combusken, and Monferno, the other eligible firestarters (get it? firestarters? go ahead and groan… it only eggs me on!), have just fringe consideration, at best. They
are worth second moves if you decide to try them out, but their weakness to Psychic and ineffectiveness
against Ghosts and even other Fighters is crippling. The same is true of the new Gen 5 Fire Fighting
(snicker) starters (guffaw), but we’ll get to them and the other new Gen 5 Pokemon later in the article.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
The 10k moves are pretty easy to justify, but here is where the real decision making starts to come in to
play. 50,000 dust is not something easily tossed away. There are many eligible ‘mons in Sinister in this
category that are potentially worth it, and here they are!
Shadow Punch & Shadow BallL/Sludge Bomb
This will tell you a lot about the Sinister meta: Haunter is the #3 rated Pokemon in the format. Double resisting Fighting moves, it overcomes all Fighters but Poliwrath and Gallade (who beat it with… non-Fighting moves). It beats almost every other Ghost (only Ground type Golurk and fellow Shadow Clawers Banette and Gengar outlast it, though they all have to burn a shield), though the results are mixed against the Steels and REALLY dicey against the Psychics… basically anything with Confusion or Psyshock (or Dragon Breath) wins, and that’s not a small number of Pokemon. Haunter is still a premiere Fighting killer (it’s still the last thing Medicham wants to see, just as it was in Season 1) and can outrace nearly all Ghosts, but the other types will hold it at least somewhat in check this time, I think. If you’ve already invested, give it a whirl again, and if not, it’s still worth the 50k dust. But just understand Haunter for what he is: a glass howitzer. He’ll rip up a lot of things, but he goes down alarming quickly too. Log some time in practice with this one if you want to go that route. There’s nothing else quite like it.
Bone Club & Shadow Ball
I am a little dubious on Haunter’s #3 rank, but A-Wak’s #1 makes perfect sense to me. It beats ALL Fighters with the sole exception of Bubble Poliwrath…Mud Shot variants lose, and even the Bubble dude barely pulls it out. It also forces at least a tie with every other Ghost in Sinister (except Haunter, as noted above) AND every Psychic but super fringey Lunatone. It does lose to most of the meta Steels (who inconveniently have Rock or Water or Ground moves that the Fire half of A-Wak melts against), but at least normally underwhelming Bone Club beats them up pretty badly on the way out.
(**Post-Sept 27 update: A-Wak can now utilize Fire Spin as a fast move, which swings a number of Steels to A-Wak wins, as well as a handful of other matchups. See the full update article for more details.) This is likely to be A-Wak’s best Cup yet!
Fire Punch & Shadow Punch
May as well stick with the Ghosts for now. Unlike the last two, Dusclops has really had no major impact on ANY past formats, but this may be its time to shine as well. With Fire Punch it burns through Steels, beating every one that lacks a Rock fast move or Dark charge move (aka Steelix). With Shadow Punch, it runs through every Psychic except losing to Ghost-reistant Girafamarig and getting JUST outraced by Chimecho, as well as every Fighter except those with a Fire fast move and, yet again, Poliwrath. (shakes fist) Dusclops also beats the vast majority of Ghosts, but its few losses are to the most meta relevant: A-Wak, Haunter, Froslass, and Drifblim. Still, Dusclops is very much viable, for the first time. If you ever wanted to use it, now is the time!
Shadow Ball & Thunder
Banette is sort of a slower, slightly bulkier Haunter. It rips through many similar things, including all the really relevant Fighters other than Poliwrath (and Machamp and Legacy Primeape, but we’ll get to them later) and Haunter itself (though it loses to Drifblim and the other Ghosts listed above), as well as most of the Psychics; Lugia and Gardevoir and Bronzong can escape with a tie, and Claydol and Girafagir win, but that’s about it. It doesn’t like most of the Steels too much, but Banette can fly through enough other relevant things to earn a spot on some teams. Perhaps yours!
Avalanche & Shadow Ball/Crunch
Lass was a star in several formats in Season 1, and while she’s viable here too, she loses some of her luster. She still beats a number of relevant things, but her results are inconsistent in each of the four typing categories, especially against the Steels. She’s viable if you already invested in one, but if you haven’t… I might hold off for this month. Her Ice damage offers few advantages (in terms of wins, anyway), and therefore, there are just better Ghosts this time around.
Power-Up Punch & Ice Punch/Hydro Pump
Well, I mentioned it plenty with the Ghosts, so may as well look at it now. Whereas in past Cups, Poliwrath was held back by its lack of a viable Fighting fast move (fading behind Counter users like Lucario and Hitmonchan and Toxicroak), as shown above, its non-Fighting fast moves are actually an advantage here among a crop of Ghosts and Psychics that resist Fighting. And it doesn’t hold it back versus Steels… Poliwrath can still beat nearly all of them. Only Bronzong and double Electric Probopass consistently come out on top (though not by much), and Magneton ties versus Bubble and Confusion Trashadam wins versus Mud Shot. But even after the Sept 27 PuP nerf, that’s still it. I’ve teased it above, but just to drive the point home: Poliwrath, a Fighting type, beats nearly every relevant Ghost… the only ones that top it are Hex Dusclops and a Psychic (the move) from Dusknoir. Fighters aren’t supposed to beat Ghosts, but Poliwrath tends to do it anyway. And while it struggles–as one would expect–against Psychics, Poliwrath does show well against other Fighters, beating Toxicroak and Heracross, tying Lucario, and taking Hitmonchan to the absolute limit. Only Leaf Blade Gallade and Medicham really escape with anything close to breathing room. Yes, with solid wins against things it should beat (Steels), things it shouldn’t beat but does anyway (Ghosts), and notable victories against fellow Fighters, I think Poliwrath is finally going to get his chance to shine in Sinister Cup. And you don’t even need a Legacy one!
(**Post-Sept 27 update: While Poliwrath still does nearly as well as always even with the reduction of PuP’s direct damage, there is some consideration now for other moves, particularly Hydro Pump. Look for a future article detailing this in more detail.)
Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb
Toxicroak has shrugged off metas full of Psychics and even Charmers before, so can it do it again now?
Maybe. It still overcomes EVERY Fighter except the just-mentioned Poliwrath and Psychic-pretending-to-be-a-Fighter Gallade, and Counter and Mud Bomb rack up the wins against the Steels. (Again, only Psychic damage turns the tables, so Trashadam and Bronzong emerge victorious while other Steels all fall.) But it gets ugly beyond that. All the relevant Ghosts AND Psychics (except AhChu, who still ties) overcome Croak, often with a comfortable margin. Yes, Toxicroak has been in a similar position before and come out as part of the core meta anyway, but with Ghosts now in the mix too, it MAY be too much for him. I am assuming you invested in one by now, and if not it’s still a good dust sink for future use. But Toxi may just find himself croaking too much in Sinister to be worth it in October. Time will tell…
Megahorn & Earthquake
The only Bug Fighter in the game, much of what Cross does to Steels is with just Counter damage, beating them all except Confusioners Trashadam and Bronzong. It also beats EVERY Fighter in the game except for never-to-be-seen Peck Combusken. The ideal use of Heracross is to finish something off with Counter and then throw out one of its nifty charge moves: Megahorn hits Psychics for big damage, and Earthquake hits a lot of relevant ‘mons for super effective (and probably knockout) damage, including Lucario, A-Raichu, Toxicroak, and many others. Heracross is a sledgehammer against Steels and even Fighters, but more of a scalpel against the rest of the meta… used precisely, it will do a fine job in the right hands. The 50 candy may be even more of a hindrance for many than the 50k dust in this case, but both are worth it. Heracross carves out some unique niches among Fighters.
Power-Up Punch & Ice Punch
Yes, I saved it for last among the main Fighters. I think old and new players alone know the pros and cons of Medi by now, so I won’t spend a ton of time here. But yes, it beats all the Steels except Bronzong. Yes, it beats most of the Fighters and a smattering of Psychics that other Fighters cannot… and yes, it still loses (often hard) to every relevant Ghost. Medicham is a solid Fighting type in a Cup where threats to Fighting types abound. But it is NOT the world beater it has been in other formats… many of the Fighters I have mentioned are as good (if not better) or at least have niches that separate them from the pack. Medicham’s second move costs only 50k dust, like most of the other Fighters, but of course it has to be maxed to reach even 1400+ CP. If you have one ready, sure, give it a whirl. But if you haven’t already built one up, I wouldn’t power Medi up just for Sinister Cup. I just don’t think you’ll get a proper return on investment in this particular meta. For my money, I’m getting a good Hitmonchan or Poliwrath instead.
(**Post-Sept 27 update: With the reduction in PuP’s power, I did a follow-up article on Medicham’s varied and versatile movesets that may help you further!)
Psyshock & Bulldoze
Bronzong was a slow plodder throughout most of Season 1, stuck with slow moves like Heavy Slam and
Flash Cannon. But with the addition of spammy Psyshock and good coverage move Bulldoze, Zong is a
completely different Pokemon now. With Psyshock and Confusion, it annihilates every Fighter in Sinister
Cup (except Lucario), no matter what Fighting or Fire moves they’re packing. It also beats several
relevant Ghosts, including Haunter, Banette, and Dusclops, and relevant Psychics like AhChu, Cresselia, and Firagarif. And Bulldoze brings home wins against Steels like Bastiodon and Probopass and the Magneboys. Zong is a very solid ‘mon you will likely see a lot in October.
Earth Power & Gyro Ball
Everyone always seems to forget about Claydol in Cups like this, but they really shouldn’t. Clay beats
every single Fighter except Medicham (in certain shielding situations), along with Bronzong, Bastie, Probo, Haunter, Banette, AhChu… in other words, a wide swath of the meta. Don’t be decieved by the temptation of Mud Slap, as it really doesn’t help matters much… Confusion or even Extrasensory is still the way to go.
Iron Head & Bug Buzz
I’ve mentioned “Trashadam” a few times already. In Sinister, Confusion looks to be the fast move of choice… it doesn’t need Bug Bite to beat most of the Psychics (Bug Buzz handles that). And with Confusion is also beats down all Fighters except Fire types, Poliwrath (yes, again), and a close loss to Lucario. Trashy does lose to the most relevant Ghosts and Steels, but it has a unique place in this meta that may fill a hole on your team. Give it a look.
Rock Slide & Thunderbolt/Magnet Bomb
To put it simply: Bastiodon lite. (Thrifty Bastiodon.) Since this is the first real Steel we’ve gotten to, let’s discuss their role for a moment: beat Psychics, outslug Ghosts, and do some damage to the rest before kicking the bucket. Probopass has a variety of viable movesets (really, ALL of its moveset combinations are usable), but at the end of the day, it typically beats the Psychics except for ones with Ground attacks (Claydol and Bronzong) or sometimes Gallade’s Leaf Blades. It does indeed beat nearly all the Ghosts (even, somewhat surprisingly, Hex A-Wak), with only speedy Banette just managing to sneak away with the win (along with newbie Ground type Golurk). It REALLY puts the hurt on Drifblim, which is no small feat. So far, checks out. Probo’s results are mixed elsewhere, as expected, but it does take down Mawile and Aggron/Lairon and ties AhCh (well, not so much now). Just keep it FAR away from another Fighting. It gets really ugly, really fast.
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
Start the breathing exercises, because there are a few of these that are not just recommended, but I
would say necessary if you plan to utilize the below Pokemon. Here goes…
Stone Edge & Flamethrower
Un-thrifty Probopass. 😉 Bastie does everything Probopass does, just a bit better. Bastiodon notably wins against Haunter (whereas Probo could not) because of the sheer damage of its fast move Smack Down. Whereas Probopass relies more on shield pressure with spammier charge moves, Bastie is just a slow plodder that beats stuff into the ground with Smack after Smack… landing charge moves is more of a bonus. Not much else to say than that, really. Bastie is better, Probo is cheaper, and while neither is necessary in Sinister, nothing else can really do what they consistently can against Psychics, Ghosts, and especially anything Flying.
Ominous Wind & Shadow Ball
Hold up one finger. Now count your held up finger. Because that is the number of Fighting types that can overcome Drifblim: Poliwrath (and that’s only if it has Bubble…Mud Shot loses) and that’s it. Not Medicham, not Hitmonchan, not Lucario (not without having an energy lead or something, at least), not Toxicroak, not even Rock Slide Machamp. Blim is not just a Fighting killer… it’s a Fighting terminator. That shouldn’t be a HUGE surprise considering that as a Ghost/Flying type, it triple resists all Fighting moves, but it is noteworthy. But there’s more. It also outbulks most Ghosts. While Froslass and Misdreavus can force a tie, the only Sinister-eligible Ghost that can out and out defeat Blim is Haunter. (Sableye and Spiritomb overcome it as well, but that ain’t in Sinister, now are they?) It also handles the Psychics well, beating them all except (Psycho Cut) Zam, weirdo Ghost-resistant Girafamawhatzit, and of course Psychic in disguise AhChu. The results are more mixed against the Steels (since many of them specialize in slaying Flyers), but it beats basically any of them lacking Dark or hard-hitting Rock/Electric moves. Drifblim is a beast in this format like it hasn’t been in any Cup or format yet… but it ain’t cheap. That second move is expensive, but you need it. The spam and baiting of Ominous Wind (NOT Icy Wind, which surprisingly is the worst of the three moves here) is critical to make Shadow Ball land when you want it to, and of course the occasional self-boosting bonus is just unfair… for the opponent, at least.
Crunch & Earthquake
Dragon Tail is the fast move of choice, leaving Earthquake as Steelix’s only STAB move. But as those that have used it in the past know, you won’t even notice as Steelix terrorizes many things. In Sinister, Steelix stomps things from across all the typings, including Bastiodon and Probopass, Zong and Mawile, Claydol, Gardevoir, AhChu, Hex-Wak (Fire Spin Wak… not so much), and Drifblim, to name a few. It’s not perfect (especially with Fighters around… shudder), but Steelix is a good one to dust off and practice with again if you’ve got one.
(**Post-Sept 27 update: Steelix recieved a new fast move option (Thunder Fang) which gives it more teeth against Waters that prey on it like Empoleon, and a few other niche matchups. While I still think Dragon Tail is preferred in Sinister, I did discuss the comparison in more detail in a follow-up article.)
Heavy Slam & Earthquake
I feel like I’m running out of room, so going to try and keep the last few brief. Thanks in large part to super effective damage from Bug Bite and blunting Psychic attacks, Forretress can defeat ALL Psychics except Lugia, and even that one is super close. It outraces Bastiodon (but not speedier Probopass), just as it ties the slower Magnezone (but loses to the spammy Magneton). And it beats ALL relevant Steels that I didn’t just mention. However, it does lose to most of the Ghosts and Fighters.
Leaf Blade & Close Combat
A bit of a qualifier here. If Gallade has Charm (which is not ideal overall, it would appear), you only need
Leaf Blade, as Gallade will rarely ever reach any other move anyway. But with the preferred Confusion…
yes, I think it’s worth adding Close Combat on top of that. Leaf Blade is good but will rarely hit super
effectively in Sinister–though it does put tremendous shield pressure on things like Poliwrath and
Claydol–and Close Combat similarly ratchets up the pressure on Steels and is a good pairing with a
spammy move like Blade that I feel confident investing in it… if one decides to use Gallade at all, of
course. I’ll leave that debate up to other analysis moving forward.
Power-Up Punch & Play Rough
I’ve mentioned Mawile a few times throughout the article and you might (rightly) be wondering why. I have trashed Mawile in the past, and it’s never climbed out of the garbage bin in any of my past writeups. But you know what? Mawile is legit in Sinister, legit enough to even say it could be part of the (gasp!) core meta. With Bite and a boost from the newly added Power-Up Punch, Mawile can chomp through every single Ghost AND Psychic in Sinister Cup. (Well, aside from that pesky new Fire Spin A-Wak.) Look it up… it surprised me too, but it’s true. That alone is reason enough to include it, but it also holds its own against a number of the Steels, and with the potential of Play Rough, even Fighters have to respect it. Up until PuP was added, Mawile was probably not worth a second move, but PuP is a near must now, and I think Play Rough is probably one to target as a legit second move for the potential anti-Fighting surprise, but more analysis is probably going to be necessary here (yes, I smell an “Under The Lights” in the future).
100,000 Dust/100 Candy
I’m running out of room! So I’ll truncate this a bit. Lugia has shown up a lot in this article, and it’s
actually really nifty with Dragon Tail and Sky Attack alone. But if you’re going through the trouble of
getting one for Great League, you just HAVE to add the second move. And I think that move is Hydro Pump for its big mostly-neutral damage… Futuresight is just resisted too much. Cresselia is a solid Confusioner with slow but potent charge moves… I covered it in more detail in its own feature article. Latias is interesting with Dragon Breath OR Charm (yeah, did you ever know it can GET Charm?), and if you’re lucky enough to sneak a Latios into Great League, it’s nice and spammy. But overall, to be honest, they don’t do
enough to really justify a spot on your team of six, IMO. Smoke ’em if you got ’em, I guess.
And finally, here are the ‘mons you (probably) don’t even need to buy a second move for:
New Kids On The Block
I have looked into the new Generation 5 Pokemon that are eligible, but for the most part, they’re really
not very good in their big debut here. I intend to break down all the new Gen5 Pokemon in their own
article soon, so just a brief overview for now…
Pignite and Emboar (Fire/Fighting starters) have some interesting moves but they can’t even beat the Steels reliably (being stuck with Ember as their best fast move doesn’t help), and they do no better than Blaziken versus the rest of the meta. Excadrill (Ground/Steel) has a nice spread of charge moves, but they don’t offer it much advantage here… it loses to the bulk of the meta Pokemon in each of the four typings, even Steel. Same thing with the popular Klang, which can do some good things but loses hard to all the Fighters and is inconsistent against Psychics and Ghosts. The unique Ghost/Fire typing of Lampent and Chandelure jumps out in a Cup full of Ghosts and Psychics and Steels, but even in this Cup that seems tailor made for them, they mostly disappoint, partly due to a so-so overall move pool and partly because they are rather flimsy. Golurk enters the game as the first Ground/Ghost Pokemon, and that allows it to uniquely be a Ghost capable of beating nearly all of the Steels, as well as performing well against Fighters and taking down other potent ‘mons like Haunter and A-Wak and AhChu and Bronzong. I’ll spend a little more time looking at it when I get to the Gen5 review properly. For those in the right part of the world (sigh… Regionals 😒), Durant with double Bug moves beats every Psychic but Medicham, but that’s the rub: Fighters all destroy it, and it struggles against most Ghosts and Steels as well. Maybe in a future Cup… I don’t think you need to worry too much about building one up just yet. But do work on building up a good Great League Ferrothorn when you can. Its wins are spotty here, but it DOES have some pretty unique ones and could still be very unpredictable for opponents in October. I will be spotlighting it (and Golurk) when I do the Gen5 review in the near future (prior to October, at least).
Update: The promised article on the Gen5ers has since been completed.
I think these are all viable, but in the interest of time, I’ll skip full fledged analysis and do some quick hits
for the Pokemon I think can work with just one charge move.
Pair it with Confusion and you’re done. Water type damage from Water Pulse would almost never hit for anything but weak neutral damage, and Psychic is redundant with Confusion doing the heavy Psychic-type lifting. Save your dust. And on a similar note, don’t bother with Slowking. His moves live up to his namesake… they are all too slow.
Girafarig is a rare Psychic that doesn’t resist Fighting (neutral instead), but picks up a key resistance to
Ghost, so this two-headed Giraffe freak has a chance to surprise. And it gets Confusion, which is always
nice. Thunderbolt is the only charge move you need… the others are poor Psychic moves and redundant.
Exeggutor with (Legacy) Confusion is always worth consideration, and Seed Bomb is Thunder/Ice/Fire
Punch clone that will almost always deal at least neutral damage. But you don’t need any other charge
move than that. The others are too slow and/or redundant with Confusion.
A second move here costs 75,000 of your precious dust, and you know what? It really doesn’t need it. Gardevoir is going to most of its work with Confusion or Charm, and the occasional Shadow Ball is really all you need outside of that. It’s the most threatening charge move Gardy has in Sinister by far.
I’ve touched on some Legacy moves already, but there are a couple of ‘mons that really only enter the
discussion with certain Legacy moves:
Primeape & Machamp
I will go ahead and say now that I am going to cover Machamp AND Primeape with their own feature
article in the near future… because Cross Chop is a really good move in PvP, and paired with Night
Slash (Ape) or Rock Slide (Champ), they offer some surprisingly good versatility in Sinister. And yes, I eventually followed this up with their own feature article too!
I’m about out of space, so I won’t do a full didn’t make the cut section this time, so if ain’t here, odds
are I DID look and it’s just not good enough for serious consideration. But if there is something obvious
you think I missed, PLEASE, leave a comment on the reddit post.
Otherwise… that’s a wrap! As with all my articles, take all of this with a big grain of salt. I’m not trying to
persuade you one way or the other, and of course everybody’s dust situations are different. But if you
don’t have a dust pool/vault resembling that of Scrooge McDuck, then perhaps this can help you balance the cost of where to be thrifty with your hard-earned dust (and candy!).
Before I go, I want to extend my thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last several months and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And finally, my thanks to all of you, for your own encouragement and support throughout Season 1. Here’s to the new Season, and the road still ahead!
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