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The Silph League Arena

Nifty or Thrifty

Jun 13, 2021: Nifty or Thrifty: Venture 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 formats: Venture Cup in this case, the final meta for The Silph Arena Season 3! As is typical for the NoT series, I’ll cover not only the top meta picks, but also some mons where you can save some dust with cheaper second move unlock costs or less powering up. Because 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, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps channel our inner scrooge?

But we’re also gonna do things a little differently this time. I am slightly reinterpreting what “thrifty” means here. I WILL still highlight throughout which Pokémon cost less dust to second move and power up (roughly, on a scale of one to five 💸s), but most of my focus–and the order in which Pokémon appear–will be determined by their cost in points against your team’s 20 point total, from the many 1-pointers all the way up to the one-at-most-per-team 10-point Sinister Six of Venture.

So let’s see what I can squeeze in… here we go!

One Point Wonders

ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

NORMAL CASTFORM 💸💸💸

Hex | Weather Ball (Normal) & Hurricane/Energy Ball

I tried to hype it up in Retro Cup, and especially in my spotlight analysis on Normal types, but if possible, Casty is even better in Venture Cup because it costs just 1 measly point to use, so any team can find room for it. There are a couple things that the other big point Normals can do that it can’t (Lickitung beating Altaria and Politoed, Snorlax beating Regirock and potentially Zangoose) that Castform really can’t replicate, but it captures the rest of their big name performances with at least one of its moveset configurations: Energy Ball beating Dewgong, Lapras, Kingdra, Alolan Rocks, and Magcargo, and Hurricane instead handling Alolan Marowak, Abomasnow, Drifblim, and Meganium (not even Lax or Licki can beat Meg like that). I’m not going to stand up here and say that Castform is better than those other Normals, but it DOES beat Lickitung and Snorlax as well as long as it avoids Superpower, as Hex that powers Casty will always outrace Lick the others have in the battle of ‘who can race to more Body Slams?’ (or in this case, Weather Ball (Normal), which is an EXACT clone of Body Slam). With Lickitung being a whopping 10 points and both Laxes and Lickilicky being a restrictive 6 points, getting 80-90% of their performance for only 1 point could be HUGE. This is easily one of my strongest recommendations among the 1 pointers, and arguably the best one overall in this format. Keep in mind it handles five of the six 10 pointers and over half of the 6 and 4 pointers all by itself. Normal Casty is expensive in dust, but fantastic in point value.

HOLD THE PHONE, because the moveset shakeup that just hit the game brought one very unexpected change: Normal-type Weather Ball is seemingly no more, replaced by Weather Ball (Rock) on Normal Castform. I am going to leave the above analysis, as I suspect that, despite a Tweet put out by Niantic saying this was deliberate, Niantic may change this back at some point. But assuming it sticks, here are some differences that come with that:

With Weather Ball now being Rock type, Castform (with either Energy Ball OR Hurricane) now beats Abomasnow, Drifblim, Alolan Marowak, Shadow Dragonite, Dewgong, and Magcargo. That’s the good. The bad is that, with Weather Ball now lacking STAB damage, Casty generally now loses to Lickitung, Cresselia, and Goodra, and loses to Shadow Hypno with Energy Ball and to Whiscash with Hurricane. I think it’s fair to say this is actually an improvement overall (at least Rock is a type that will sometimes be super effective, which Normal will never be), but there are some nifty wins it got before that it cannot replicate now. Just be warned and wary going in!

And the other Castforms are great “bargains” too. SNOWY 💸💸💸 remains almost criminally underrated, and very quietly has the best record of any Ice type, all of which counter Froslass. Yes, Lass is good (we’ll discuss her later) and is understandably ranked higher overall… but also costs 10 points as compared to Snowy’s mere one.

RAINY 💸💸💸 captures much of Lanturn’s performance for 3 less points, the differences being that Lanturn gets close wins over Gengar, Alolan Graveler, and Galvantula, while Rainy instead beats Defense Deoxys, Snorlax, and Whiscash, thanks in large part to Weather Ball (Water) spam. Lanturn may still be a better fit for some teams, but not necessarily, and saving those three points could be quite significant.

SUNNY 💸💸💸 is the only Castform that seems a bit out of place. I mean, it’s fine, still toasting Grasses and Bugs and Ices and bonus stuff like Cresselia, Zangoose, Drifblim, Mew, and with a well timed Solar Beam, even Jellicent, if you can believe it. But overall it’s just a more expensive alternative to other 1-point stuff like Ninetales and Charizard, and one that performs no better (or even worse) than other options.

In fact, let’s look at some of those alternative Fires now!

CHARIZARD 💸

Fire Spin | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ

The OG Fire starter isn’t ranked very highly, but looks like potentially the best Fire you can get against the core meta short of reaching for Alolan Marowak and its 10 points or Talonflame and its 6. Zard actually performs pretty closely to Talon in particular here, with the differences being that Talon can uniquely beat Jellicent, Altaria, and Alolan Marowak thanks to its Brave Bird, while Zard alone takes out Galvantula, Drifblim, and Machamp. And that win column has names like Hypno (regular or Shadow), Cress, Lickis, Froslass, and Abomasnow too. Running a Fire may not be at the forefront of your mind in this format, but with teams of six rather than Retro Cup’s team of three, there’s certainly a lot more room to consider it, and Zard is arguably the best budget one you can get. Just don’t run Shadow… it doesn’t appreciate the drop in bulk.

Other good Fire options include:

    • TYPHLOSION 💸 has Shadow Claw, and for once, this is an excellent meta to use it rather than Incinerate… the latter beats Snorlax and the Lickis, but Claw gets Talonflame and Charizard, Alolan Marowak, Dewgong, Defense Deoxys, and even Jellicent in addition to all the other good that it does.
    • NINETALES 💸💸, as mentioned before, is fine, just nothing remarkable. It’s a better and cheaper Sunny Castform, but that’s not saying a whole ton.
    • BLAZIKEN 💸 is of course a Fire that hard counters the big Normals (and Rocks) here thanks to also being a Fighter with Counter, and can do fun things like knock out Altaria too. But it’s very risky in a meta where most all teams will have at least one big Psychic/Confusioner to blow it away… among many other things that prey on its general frailty. It might be nice to at least have on a bench for the mind games, though!
    • May as well take this opportunity to throw out a mention to LITLEO XL 💸💸💸💸💸, who is half-Normal and has that super handy Ghost resistance built in, along with Crunch to make it a great Ghost and Psychic counter that also beats the Lick Normals and most of the standard Fire job (Froslass, Aboma, Galv, etc.) at the same time.

GYARADOS 💸

Dragon Breath | Crunch & Aqua Tailᴸ

And how do you put out the Fires? Water, of course! And good ol’ Gary is one of the better ones here. With Dragon Breath it beats ALL the major Dragons, with Crunch it beats Hypno and Cresselia, and with a combination of Aqua Tail and its other moves it takes down things like Snorlax, Alolan Marowak, Zangoose, Talonflame, Drifblim, Politoed, Whiscash, Vigoroth, and Jellicent. I would generally NOT recommend Shadow Gary though… the loss in bulk is just too much.

QUAGSIRE 💸💸

Mud Shot | Stone Edge & Earthquake/Sludge Bomb/Returnᴸ

Lord Quag has been very popular in early practice tournaments, and probably for the simple reason that unlike Swampert and Whiscash, Quag comes for only 1 point. Well, that and the fact that Stone Edge is a great weapon that is resisted by very little with no Steel in the meta. But what to pair with it? Earthquake is the most common, but there’s a decent case for Return (which gets the same basic wins as Quake but has wider neutral coverage) or even Sludge Bomb, which provides some legit coverage against Grasses and is also Quag’s fastest charge move, allowing it to outrace things like Snorlax, Lapras, and Lickilicky (whereas Quake and Return instead overpower Dragonair and Mew).

ROSERADE & CHERRIM 💸💸

Bullet Seedᴸ | Weather Ball (Fire)ᴸ & Leaf Storm/Solar Beam

Neither are ranked very high, but both Roserade and Cherrim outperform most other Grasses versus the core meta, and it’s not hard to figure out why… a lot of it has to do with Fire Weather Ball, which can burn through Ices and opposing Grasses and provides top notch shield pressure to anything that doesn’t outright resist Fire. But there are actually a lot of differences between what they each beat. Roserade has the higher Attack and Poison subtyping (and the pros and cons that come with each of those things), allowing it to overpower Froslass, Whiscash, Zangoose, Abomasnow, and both Alolan Rocks, whereas Cherrim with its pure Grass typing and better bulk instead outlasts Cresselia, Meganium, Shadow Hypno, Dusclops, and both Lickis. Whichever one fits YOUR team better, do give them some consideration. They could be absolute steals among the 1-pointers.

And yes, I know that mainstays VENUSAUR 💸 and MEGANIUM 💸 are also 1-pointers, along with new hotness like SERPERIOR 💸. And they do the pure Grass job better than Roserade or Cherrim, yes, but they just don’t have the same versatility, losing to things like Hypno and Vigoroth that the Weather Ballers can beat… and of course, losing to the Weather Baller Grass duo as well. (Well, aside from Venusaur, who still has Sludge Bomb to even the odds there.) None of them are bad options by any means, they just don’t have it in this meta like the Weather Baller duo seem to… to my eyes, at least. Roll with them if you wish–Venusaur in particular has been surprisingly popular in practice tournament data thus far–and you will surely find some success. If nothing else, they can make for very good bench pressure, one thing they have going for them here that was NOT the case in Retro Cup.

SUPER RAICHU BROS. 💸

Volt Switch/Thunder Shock | Wild Charge & Brick Break/Thunder Punch

Again, neither are ranked impressively high, but both Alolan and especially Original Recipe Raichu look awfully solid against the core meta, especially for costing just 1 point. Note that Alolan seems best overall with all Electric moves, while Kanto Chu still wants Brick Break and probably Thunder Shock rather than Volt Switch, as it can outrace Shadow Machamp, Zangoose, Gengar, and even Altaria with Thunder Shock versus only two unique wins (Vigoroth and Dusclops) with Volt Switch. They are both nifty little cheap plug-n-plays.

ALOLAN GOLEM 💸

Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge

So Alolan Graveler costs 4 points, but Alolan Golem is only 1 point. What’s the difference between them? Not much. A-Golem tends to beat everything that A-Grav does with the sole exception of IV-dependent wins that A-Grav can sometimes get versus Goodra and, well, A-Golem. But again, those wins can swing to ties or losses depending on IVs, and even in the best of circumstances leave A-Grav with well under 10 HP. In other words: if you’re considering running Alolan Graveler, I think you can go with Alolan Golem instead and not miss a beat… nor miss out on the extra points you’d be tossing towards A-Grav.

PRIMEAPE 💸💸

Counter | Close Combat & Night Slash

TFW many of the best Fighters are priced higher in points, but arguably the best one is left at just 1 point. Seriously, Primeape has a better overall record against the core meta than Machamp (including Shadow Champ), better than Sirfetch’d, and right on par with even the mighty, six-point Medicham. In fact, you want to hear something crazy. In 1v1 shielding, Primeape shares ALL the same wins Medicham gets against the core meta (though it does lose the head to head, while Medi obviously ties itself). The only wins that other Fighters get that Medi and Ape cannot are Talonflame and Froslass, which both go down to Machamp’s Rock Slide, but Ape and Medi both beat Machamp head to head and more consistently beat stuff like Abomasnow, Dragonair, Galvantula, and Whiscash, and of course both put up a much better fight against Psychics with Medi’s resistance and Primeape’s Night Slash. Alternatively, you can even run Ice Punch instead and turn Ape into a scrappy little Dragonslayer, but Night Slash is generally my recommendation in this meta. And Ape itself IS strongly recommended, easily one of the very best 1 point picks.

If you’re not gonna run Ape, consider HITMONCHAN 💸. Ice Punch makes it sort of a mini Medicham, but you can run the other Elemental Punches as they suit your team’s needs. It’s versatile, unpredictable, and–at least terms in points–cheap, costing just 1 point. (Though it can be cheap in dust too if you take advantage of the Baby Discount™!) HITMONTOP 💸 can be similarly inexpensive and is fine too, but more predictable. It’s a bit better in the pure Fighting role but has less flexibility than ‘Chan. For something quite different among Fighters, there’s also GALLADE 💸💸💸, which is best running as a Shadow. (So tack on a fourth 💸!) Shadow picks up Dewgong, Goodra, Shadow Dragonite, Medicham, Snorlax and more and gives up only close wins normal Gallade gets versus Shadow Dragonair and Vigoroth to do it. It’s a high risk/high reward spicy option. 🌶️ And there are others like TOXICROAK and CHESNAUGHT as well, of course.

But there is one more 1 point Fighter that I think it worth more of a mention…

POLIWRATH 💸💸

Mud Shot | Ice Punch & Dynamic Punch

What can’t Poliwrath do? Well, okay, most Psychics and Grasses and Electrics make it cry, fair enough. But Poli can take out Rocks, Ices, and Normals… I mean, of course it can, it’s a Fighter! But it can ALSO threaten the many Dragons and Flyers around with one of the game’s fastest draws on Ice Punch, and of course resists Water and Ice and so gives Dewgong and Lapras and Politoed an especially bad day at the office. It has its downsides, as any Fighter does, but for just 1 point? I can’t call Poliwrath anything but nifty AND thrifty!

DIGGERSBY 💸💸💸💸

Mud Shot | Fire Punch & Earthquake/Hyper Beam

Why yes, I DID include Hyper Beam as an alternative to consider. Okay, okay, everybody is just gonna run Earthquake anyway, and I can’t fault them. After all, Quake leads directly to wins over Lickitung, Regirock, Jellicent, and Shadow Dusclops, most of those by way of its comparative speed over other, non-Fire Punch options. But consider this: Hyper Beam can instead take out Talonflame, Vigoroth, Cresselia, Shadow Dragonite, and Shadow Hypno. That’s quite a list, eh? Go big or go home!

ARTICUNO 💸💸💸💸

Ice Shard | Icy Wind & Hurricaneᴸ

The only time you’ll see Legendaries like Artie in the “thrifty” section, but again, remember we’re talking thriftiness not in stardust cost, but in terms of points counted against your team… and Articuno only costs one. And considering Artie’s record, that seems like an absolute steal. It smacks around Dragons and Flyers and Grounds and Grasses, yes, but Artie also capably handles the many Lick/Hex Normals, most Fighters, and bonuses like Hypno (even with Thunder Punch), Mew (with Wild Charge), Froslass, Politoed, and more. The only real downsides are the steep dust cost and that you really want a Legacy move–Hurricane–to achieve peak performance. But if you have one you’ve been itching to use, this looks like a great spot for it.

LUGIA 💸💸💸💸

Dragon Tail | Sky Attack & Aeroblastᴸ

If you’re lucky enough to have one at Great League size, then yes, this is a good meta for it! Dragon Tail is definitely the fast move you want, allowing Lugia to handle most Dragons while its strong Flying moves, good bulk, and handy typing combination allow it to also blow down most Psychics, Fighters, Grasses, and even put out Fires like A-Wak and Talonflame and nifty bonuses like Politoed, Zangoose, Castform, and even, incredibly, Abomasnow!

BEST OF THE REST

    • LINOONE 💸 doesn’t have Lick or Hex, but instead pressures with Shadow Claw, allowing it to slice through Ghosts and Hypno, Mew, and Confusion Cresselia. But Linoone has got some great coverage moves with Grass Knot and Thunder, wrecking Waters and Muds and most Flyers. It may fit some teams better than the Laxes and Lickis and comes for far less points.
    • Just looking at the numbers, you would probably be tempted to avoid MAGCARGO 💸💸 altogether. But then you consider what names are on that win list (Froslass, Aboma, A-Wak, Talonflame, Galvantula, Drifblim, Cresselia, Gengar, Drifblim, etc.) and it doesn’t look so bad. Nor do the 0 shield numbers. 👀
    • BLASTOISE 💸 is fine if you just need a Water to go out and do Water things (and tote a little coverage with Ice Beam). But honestly, it’s really no better here than Vaporeon, and that’s just not a great place to be.
    • TANGROWTH 💸💸 is also fine, but doesn’t really stand out as much as you’d hope. Rock Slide is excellent coverage, but in this meta, the only places it’s really useful are versus other Grasses and as an occasional Hail Mary versus the odd Fire type that may pop up here and there. As just one example, while it beats Meganium, Meg goes out and beats Castform and Defense Deoxys, while Tangrowth just flounders. It might look good on your bench and trip your opponent up that way, but in actual games, I think it will let you down more than it lifts you up. I’ve been wrong before, though! Like I said, it’s fine, just seemingly not special.
    • Maybe they deserve a higher spot on the list, but GLISCOR 💸💸💸 and GLIGAR 💸💸💸💸 still feel more like spicy specialists than huge through to the full meta. If you run them, unlike my usual recommendation of Wing Attack, I’m going with Fury Cutter here. It’s just BETTER… better at pressuring Psychics and Grasses, and better at throwing out charge moves left and right. Despite similar records, there are numerous differences between them born out of bulk discrepancies (Gligar is better) or closing move (Earthquake for Gliscor and Return for Gligar): Gliscor can better outrace Lickitung, Shadow Hypno, Regirock, Magcargo, Politoed, and Snorlax, while Gligar instead outbulks Gengar, Shadow Machamp, Shadow Dragonair, Lickilicky, Meganium, and Medicham. Both are potentially undervalued, even by me.
    • Finishing this section with some unapologetic spice: SHADOW MEWTWO. I won’t go into all those wins and losses specifically, just look it over yourself. And note that despite what you may have heard, it is NOT Confusion you want here in Great League, but Psycho Cut for that insane shield pressure.

Four Point Inspection

ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

SWAMPERT 💸

Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Sludge Wave/Earthquake

Sludge Wave beats Abomasnow and Shadow Dragonite, but I think that, even in a meta lacking Steels, Earthquake may still be the better play after all, as its bigger damage (and with STAB too) can take out Lapras, Froslass, Dragonair and others and applies much more pressure to things like Regirock and in neutral matchups. Swampert is still great value at 4 points no matter what you do with it, and pretty easy to fit on most teams if you can cover its obvious weaknesses. And yes, Shadow Swampy works fine too, able to bowl over things like Jellicent, Medicham, and Shadow Hypno before succumbing to its wounds.

WHISCASH 💸 is not quite as potent, but more than holds it own as it usually does, and demands shield respect with the constant threat of Blizzard.

SEALEO 💸💸💸

Water Gun/Powder Snow | Body Slam & Aurora Beam/Returnᴸ

I know how good a PvP move Powder Snow is, but Water Gun is surprisingly okay here too, beating Fires (A-Wak, Magcargo), Lapras, and Shadow Dusclops that Powder usually falls short against. Now Powder DOES have its own unique wins versus Shadow Dragonair/Dragonite and Shadow Hypno, and those are perhaps more impactful overall, but the point is that you can’t just assume what Sealeo has until you start taking damage from it, so be careful with your swaps. AND your shields, as someone out there may be running the intriguing Return variant I kept trying to hype up in Retro (and for Open play). Overall, I’m not saying Sealeo is better than Lapras or Dewgong, but it’s not far behind, and may be easier to squeeze onto your team and save yourself 2 points.

WOBBUFFET 💸💸💸💸💸

Counter | Mirror Coat & Returnᴸ

Here it is: the best meta for Wobb yet. Does most standard Fighter things thanks to Counter, plus beats Dragons, Medicham, Shadow Hypno, Talonflame and other things most true Fighters cannot touch. Expensive as all get out, but I KNOW there are players out there that have done the grind and gotten theirs ready. For only four points, they’re going to want to use it. Get ready!

MACHAMP 💸💸

Counter | Cross Chop & Rock Slide/Paybackᴸ

Yes, Payback is enticing, but it doesn’t actually beat a lot of the Psychics you’d want it to unless you catch them napping with shields. Instead, it makes a nice Ghostbuster, taking out Jellicent, Drifblim, and Dusclops, but in general, I think Rock Slide is still the better, more reliable play, beating a wider range of nice stuff like Froslass, Meganium, Politoed, and Talonflame. And it’s mostly the same with Shadow Machamp too: Payback gets Shadow Dusclops and Jellicent, Rock Slide beats Talonflame, Froslass, and in Shadow’s case, Alolan Marowak, which is pretty spiffy!

SIRFETCH’D 💸💸 is also a solid enough Fighter, and is certain to be some players’ preferred cup of tea, and can be run in multiple viable configurations. It’s just a little risky for my personal taste considering the other Fighting options already discussed. But that’s just me… if it fits your style, go for it!

ZANGOOSE 💸💸

Shadow Claw | Night Slash & Close Combat

The hero of Retro Cup (AKA Venture Cup 1.0), the Goose is loose again. Part Fighter, part anti-Ghost, part anti-Psychic, and even able to tangle with Dragons and reign as a generalist supreme, Zangoose WILL be making a dent in this meta, no doubt about it. And for only 4 points, nearly any and every team that wants it should be able to find room, too.

CRADILY 💸💸

Bullet Seed | Stone Edge & Grass Knot

An imperfect Grass and a flawed Rock type, but that’s okay, because being able to do both at once makes Cradily truly unique. Particularly nice is resisting all of Lickitung’s charge moves, as well as Normal Castform’s most standard set of Weather and Energy Balls, and being a Grass type that can fend off Abomasnow, Talonflame, Galvantula, and Alolan Marowak. You knew it was coming… dilly dilly!

ABOMASNOW 💸💸

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Energy Ball

Yep, it loses to Cradily, but beyond that and Roserade, it blows away the other Grasses, and of course Dragons, Flyers, and even most Waters like Whiscash, Politoed, Jellicent, and Dewgong. Shadow Aboma is even nastier, and while it does lose to Dewgong and Machamp (yes, regular Aboma can outrace Champ!), Shadowbama picks up wins versus Lapras, Cresselia, Mew, Hypno, and both Alolan Rocks and seems like a very nice upgrade overall. It’s a somewhat rare opportunity to deploy your Shadows in the Arena, so take advantage with this one!

TROPIUS 💸💸💸

Razor Leaf/Air Slash | Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace

So Air Slash is always the popular pick these days, and yes, it’s fine. But let me make the case for Razor Leaf. While the neutral damage of Air Slash allows Trop to tank its way to wins over Shadow Dragonite, Shadow Dragonair, and Galvantula, Razor Leaf instead chunks down Jellicent and a whole lotta Rocks: Regirock, the Alolan Rocks, and even Rock-chucking Magcargo, and it can do it all with just Razor Leaf, along with several other impressive fast-move-only wins. Trop still costs a lot of dust (and a pretty rare regional acquisition), but comes for only four points, which seems a pretty good deal, no?

CRUSTLE 💸

Smack Down | Fury Cutter & Rock Slide

One Rock that Tropius can’t beat is Crustle, everyone’s favorite walking treasure chest. While there is often a case for Fury Cutter too, Smack Down is very clearly the answer here, being the way that little Crustie can overcome Altaria, Alolan Marowak, Shadow Dusclops, Drifblim, Jellicent, Dewgong, and Shadow Hypno. And that’s in addition to already smacking around other Flyers, Ices, and Fires, and conveniently handling (most of) the Normal Lickers/Hexers too. 4 points is warranted for Crustie.

PACHIRISU 💸💸💸💸💸

Volt Switch | Thunder Punch & Thunder

Again hearkening back to Trop for a moment, here’s another extremely pricey regional that many of us don’t have… but if you do, then in the words of the most famous flying squirrel ever, hokey smokes! Nothing this cute has been this terrifying since King Arthur called upon the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in the face of nasty big pointed teeth. Obviously Flyers and Waters flee in terror, but Pachi’s ridiculous bulk allows it to outlast a ton of things, from Hypno to Cresselia to Alolan Marowak to Medicham to Zangoose to Froslass to fellow beefcakes Snorlax and Lickitung (and Castform and Lickilicky, for good measure). There are very few things that don’t outright resist Electric attacks–Pachi’s one weakness is having ONLY Electric moves–that Pachi can’t overcome. Watch out for moose and squirrel… or, actually, just squirrel!

STUNFISK 💸💸💸

Thunder Shock | Mud Bomb & Discharge

Well after Pachi’s performance, any Electric probably seems a downer in comparison, but let’s not let that take away from all the good that Fisky can do. It still holds down Flyers very capably, and while Water types are obviously much more of a threat due to Fisky actually being weak to Water and Ice, it’s not a fight those Waters WANT to be in. What Fisky does that most other Electrics cannot is bury Fires, Rocks (and things that usually excel due to Rock moves, like Machamp), and Poisons (like Gengar) under Mud Bombs, which gives it unique utility that will be a better fit on some teams than even stuff like Pachirisu with better numbers overall.

DRIFBLIM 💸💸💸

Hex | Icy Wind & Shadow Ball

Always puts in a solid performance, and Venture is no different. In addition to striking fear into the hearts of all the Psychics and most other Ghosts, Icy Wind holds down most Dragons, Grasses, and other Flyers, as well as Fighters (even those with threatening coverage like Shadow Machamp’s Rock Slide and Primeape’s Night Slash). Blim has come a long way from the days of trying to awkwardly run it with Ominous Wind as the bait move in Sinister Cup, hasn’t it?

GOODRA 💸💸💸

Dragon Breath | Muddy Water & Power Whip

It is Power Whip that really sets Goodra apart from other Dragons. Yes, it also relies at least in part on Muddy Water baits (though I gotta say, there are some really good names it can beat with JUST Muddy Water), but the potential when it all works out makes Goodra worth the four points. There are teams that have a Goodra-shaped hole on them.

Fellow four point Dragon DRAGONITE 💸💸💸 is more of a generalist. Still a good one, no doubt, but there’s no one thing it does especially better than other options. They’ll still be around and still require shields, so don’t sleep on it, but you should know how to handle ‘Nite by now.

BEST OF THE REST

    • Speaking of potent generalists, allow me to present Exhibit G and Exhibit H. Yep, GENGAR 💸💸 and HAUNTER 💸💸 excel in that role again, and Silph wisely decided to just slap the same point total on them both. As with ‘Nite, there’s nothing they’re the best at, but they apply huge pressure to nearly everything. Just watch out for those Normals with Ghost moves, as getting locked in against one of those is pretty devastating.
    • Fellow Ghost DUSCLOPS 💸💸💸 honestly surprised me a little bit when it got slapped with greater than one point. I mean, it’s fine and all, doing Ghost things with some bonuses like Altaria, Meganium, and Goodra thanks to Ice Punch, or Alt, Meg, and Dragonite and Dragonite as a Shadow. It’s a nice enough spice option, but honestly I think there may be better uses of your four points.
    • I already talked about LANTURN 💸💸 in comparison to Rainy Castform, but as a reminder, the main differences are that Lanturn gets close wins over Gengar, Galvantula, and the Alolan Rocks, while Rainy C instead beats Defense Deoxys, Snorlax, and Whiscash. Maybe Lanturn is a better fit, but it’s worth a reminder that you can save yourself three points but “settling” for Rainy.
    • This might be an unfair demotion for MANTINE 💸💸 and PELIPPER 💸💸 to shove them way down here, but as nice as Mantine in particular looks, I always worry about how it can fall apart without baits going the right way. They’re both fine and probably deserving of costing at least four points, but I dunno… Gyarados (as described way up above) just seems a better fit for this meta for cheaper. Not to bash these two at all… they’ll get people wins for sure!
    • As always, MEW 💸💸💸💸 is almost impossible to analyze fully with so many wild move combinations. DO expect to see a decent number of them with more and more people finishing their shiny Mew quests, but as to what you can expect to face come shielding time, your guess is as good as mine. Four points is a good middle ground, I think.

Six Point Plays

ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move

MEDICHAM 💸💸💸💸

Counter | Ice Punch & Psychic

Some might be surprised to see Medicham at “only” six points instead of the dreaded ten, but I think we’ve already shown that, despite being quite good in Venture, it’s really not all THAT much better than other Fighting options that come cheaper in terms of points AND dust/XL candy. (Remember that Primeape, for example, can net all the same core meta wins in 1v1 shielding, and mostly keeps up with Medi with shields down too.) Again, this is NOT me bashing Medi, who is of course an extremely solid Pokémon. I’m just saying if you cannot easily free up the six points for it, there are other options without missing out on too much in this particular meta.

DEFENSE DEOXYS 💸💸💸💸

Counter | Rock Slide & Psycho Boost/Thunderbolt

Another mainstay in Retro Cup, DD is equally potent in Venture… certainly not meta defining, but a solid part of it for sure. Similar to Medi, DD can do Fighting AND Psychic things, plus threaten Flyers and a Ices and apply a lot of neutral coverage with Rock Slide, but after that you have a choice between Psycho Boost (as simmed above) to outrace Lickitung, Meganium, and normal and Shadow Dragonair, or Thunderbolt</> for power sufficient to finish off Hypno, Politoed, and enemy DDs. I know this guy is a touchy subject, as not everyone has one, but whether you plan to run it or not, it WILL be part of that meta, and you need to make sure you have a plan for how to deal with it. I’m just here to report the analysis!

JELLICENT 💸💸

Hex | Ice Beam & Shadow Ball/Bubble Beam

There are numerous differences between its various charge move combinations, but I do think Ice Beam actually has a lot of value here, enough I’d consider forgoing Bubble Beam entirely and running with both big bombs: Ice Beam and Shadow Ball. It doesn’t have great overall numbers, but it gets the wins where it counts: Hypno, Altaria, Dewgong, Vigoroth. Bubble Beam baits are obviously great, but I think they artificially inflate the numbers more than anything. That said, if you’re looking for the best on-paper numbers, here they are. That potential alone more than justifies the six points.

POLITOED 💸💸

Mud Shot | Weather Ball (Water) & Earthquakeᴸ/Blizzard

Anyone that’s been facing this spammy frog in GBL lately could tell you why six points makes sense, even if the overall record makes it look mortal. Beyond Psychics, Fighters, and most Dragons (I say “most” because Toed actually CAN beat down Dragonair, believe it or not), there isn’t much that Politoed can’t outrace. You can play around with the closing move if you don’t want to just stick with EarthquakeBlizzard allows it to beat Altaria, Goodra, and Drifblim and much more easily handle Dragonair (though at the cost of giving up Lapras, Dewgong, Froslass, and DD), and don’t forget Return, which loses JelliBelli and Froslass but gains, again, an easier win against Dragonair, plus the mirror match.

LAPRAS 💸💸💸

Ice Shardᴸ | Surf & Dragon Pulseᴸ/Ice Beamᴸ/Skull Bash

That’s right, I listed super-Legacy Dragon Pulse, and you know what? In 1v1 shielding it just might be the best second move for Lappie to run. It beats Dewgong and Shadow Abomasnow, whereas with Ice Beam or Skull Bash you have to pick one or the other (Shadowbama with Beam or Dewgong with Bash). Things are a bit different with shields down, where Ice Beam may be best with a unique win over Galvantula and matching all the wins Lappie gets with Skull Bash or Dragon Pulse aside from Politoed (Bash beats that one), so there’s no WRONG way to go, but if ever there was a meta to flex your Dragon Pulse Lapras, this looks to be it.

DEWGONG 💸💸💸

Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Blizzard/Water Pulse

Alright, I go over this every time Dewgong is meta relevant, but let’s do this once more. Gong does the vast majority of its work with Icy Wind alone, so the real question is what to slot in as the second charge move. And while Water Pulse CAN sneak in wins versus Alolan Marowak and Magcargo, my recommendation continues to be Blizzard, which can instead finish off Shadow Hypno, Snorlax, Cresselia, Abomasnow, and Normal Castform, and win the mirror match. You can probably get a shield from the Fires anyway if you time it right to pretend you’re about to spring a Pulse on them, and the upside with Blizzard is much higher. It is similarly superior to Water Pulse with shields down, too.

KINGDRA 💸💸

Dragon Breath | Octazooka & Outrage

Speaking of shields being down, that is unsurprisingly where Kingdra flourishes the most. With shields up, though… well, different story. (And Shadow Kingdra is much worse.) Kingdra is better than that record shows, and very popular among the core of players that swear by it. My point is less saying “don’t use it” than saying “don’t use it unless you’re experienced with it“, as Kingdra requires precision to be worth a spot on your team… especially for six points!

DRAGONAIR 💸💸💸

Dragon Breath | Aqua Tail & Dragon Pulse/Returnᴸ

Shadow ‘Nair is usually more popular, but given a choice, if I were to run Dragonair at all, I think I’d just stick with non-Shadow. Shadow uniquely beats stuff like Zangoose, Meganium, Shadow Champ, Shadow ‘Nite, and Whiscash, but non-Shadow instead gets a list of things I think may be more impactful, to include Snorlax, Lickitung, Mew, Froslass (yes, really!), Gengar, and Altaria. Either way it’s really just a generalist that happens to be tough on things weak to Water thanks to Aqua Tail, but it’s certainly viable as a safe-ish swap at the very least.

SNORLAX 💸💸💸

Lick | Body Slam & Superpower

Regular or Shadow, they’re both solid in several roles: anti-Psychic, anti-Ghost, anti-Rock, anti-Ice, anti-most-everything-but-Fighters. There are numerous differences between the two versions–regular tends to beat more Shadows (Aboma, Dragonair, Dragonite), Alolan Rocks, Castform, and Hypno, while Shadowlax instead overpowers Shadow Hypno, Politoed, Whiscash, Lapras, and non-Shadow Dragonair–but both fill a similar role on any prospective team they’re on: very good safe swap that rarely gets blown out against anything but really hard counters (read as: Fighters).

And yes, little bro MUNCHLAX 💸💸 is certainly fine too, just a little less dynamic. And the same goes for LICKILICKY, who is more of an anti-Psychic/Ghost specialist than anything. Still good, still perfectly fine for the right team, but six points is getting up there for what it can (and cannot) do.

VIGOROTH 💸💸💸

Counter | Body Slam & Bulldoze

The Fighter that loses less hard to Psychics (due to not resisting them) but has to avoid other Fighters (due to being vulnerable to them!), Vigoroth overall ends up being one of the best “Fighters” in this meta. It’s nice to see it overpower some of the Dragons and stand up better to Psychics (actually having the upper hand against Mew most of the time, for example), but it is again arguably replaceable by Primeape or the like for just 1 measly point rather than the six that Viggy requires for entry. You certainly can build a very, VERY good with Vigoroth in the center of it, no doubt, but do you NEED to? Your call, my friend!

REGIROCK 💸💸💸💸

Lock-On | Stone Edge & Focus Blast

Yes, Registeel may reemerge in PvP with the un-nerfing of Focus Blast and potential rise of Poisons that it mostly resists, but keep in mind that Regirock has those same advantages and actually performs on the same level as ‘Steel, if not better. But more relevant to this article, Regirock is allowed and Registeel is decidedly not, so lemme stay on target here and just look at the raw numbers, which are nothing short of impressive. Obviously Fires and Flyers soil themselves at the very sight of Regirock, as do Bugs and Ices. Not even Hypno, Castform, Jellicent, Gengar, or the Alolan Rocks want to tangle with it. And with shields down… oh my, hide the children! Regirock somehow STILL remains a bit underrated even after breaking out in a couple recent PvP condensed metas, but do NOT sleep on it… it’s a dangerous threat that you MUST have at least one solid answer for. Those Stone Edges especially come out quick.

GALVANTULA 💸💸

Volt Switch | Lunge & Bug Buzz/Energy Ball/Discharge

You probably understand Galvantula pretty well by now. After all, it’s been a fixture in Silph and GBL Cups of late, and has become a top meta option in two GBL leagues. So let me throw you a couple curveballs by recommending you consider pairing Lunge with a move that is NOT the customary Discharge. Because Energy Ball not only provides very handy coverage, but also beats everything Discharge can but Froslass and adds on wins against Castform and Shadow Dusclops, or even better, cast-by-the-wayside when Lunge arrived Bug Buzz, which does all that AND adds on Hypno, Snorlax, Lickilicky, and the mirror match. Note that while wins against Dusclops, Shadow Machamp, and Talonflame show up as wins only with Energy Ball and/or Bug Buzz, those wins (and a weirdly timed potential one against Lickitung) utilize only Lunge alone, so you can add those into the mix too if you play it right. The Talonflame one in particular is counterintuitive for sure… that guaranteed Attack debuff from Lunge saves the day and a final Lunge at the end deals just enough damage to close it out before Talon triggers its own KO charge move. P.S.: While the big buff that just happened to Cross Poison is exciting, I don’t think Galv wants it in this particular meta.

TALONFLAME 💸

Incinerateᴸ | Flame Charge & Brave Bird

Well well well… speak of the flying devil himself. Here’s another case where the pure wins/losses don’t really tell the whole story or do Talonflame justice. It can feel MUCH more oppressive than that, and forces shields where Fire types just shouldn’t have any right to do so thanks to the constant threat of Brave Bird… especially if you’ve managed to self-boost with Flame Charge beforehand. Obviously no Grass is safe, but most Fighters, Normals, and even things like Hypno, Cresselia, Froslass, Altaria, Alolan Marowak, Whiscash, and most mind-bogglingly of all, Jellicent lose as well if they don’t get their shielding decisions right. Talonflame is mostly known right now as an Ultra League killer, but make no mistake: it is downright deadly in Great League as well, and very deserving of every one of its six points.

Ten Points (To Gryffindor!)

Gonna do these in relatively short and sweet bullet point fashion, for two reasons. First, because they cost 10 points each, you may want to think very long and hard about using them at all… that is literally half your points burned on one of six Pokémon on your team. But second and primarily: these are some of the most common and potent Pokémon in Great League, and you have surely encountered them many, many times before, so there’s not a whole lot of “new” to tease out. (Though I’ll try!)

    • HYPNO 💸💸 has been a bit divisive this season. Many players are, to put it bluntly, sick and tired of seeing it dancing around the core of so many metas. But here we go again… except that when Hypno is eating up half your points, suddenly it may not seem so appealing to build around. But there is no doubt it’s still really good here, and in multiple configurations. I won’t link to all the sims, but I think Shadow Ball is still basically a must, with one the Elemental Punches alongside. Ice can beat Dragonair, Fire can beat Shadow Aboma, and Thunder obviously applies the most pressure to the many Water types around (and has the widest neutral coverage). Shadow Hypno is kind of a downgrade overall, dropping things like Cress, Mew, Alolan Rocks, Aboma, Galv, and A-Wak, but is able to beat new stuff like Altaria, Lapras, Regirock, and Snorlax and so may still be a better fit for some teams that really want Hypno despite the points handicap.
    • ALOLAN MAROWAK 💸💸 is a personal favorite of mine, but even I think it’s too rich for my blood in this format. First off, in its standard Fire Spin/Bone Club/Shadow Bone configuration, it’s actually kind of… mediocre. If you’re gonna run it at all, it is MUCH better off with Hex and Shadow Ball instead, and while it is undoubtedly good, even then it doesn’t stand out THAT drastically versus other, cheaper Ghost options. Like I said, I am a big A-Wak fan, but it’s hard for me to fathom using my one and only potential 10-point slot on it in THIS particular meta.
    • You may think I’m crazy, but I’m going to recommend strong consideration to both Confusion and Futuresight (rather than the customary Psycho Cut/Moonblast) for CRESSELIA 💸💸💸💸 if you use it here. Confusion clinches wins versus Lickitung and Magcargo, and combined with Futuresight, can bring in Alolan Marowak, Dusclops, and Dragonair as well. If anything, I recommend this even more in Venture than I did in Retro, as several of the big-time Psychics are costly in terms of points, so I think there’s less of a chance of missing Moonblast’s neutral damage as opposed to Futuresight’s resisted-by-Psychics damage. If I was going to spring for a big ten point Confusion user in this meta, it might actually be Cress rather than Hypno!
    • LICKITUNG 💸💸💸💸💸 is big and scary, no question. Just look at that win record! But you can also bet that nearly every team out there will be gunning for it, and hard. And while there isn’t a ton that truly scares it, expect every team to find one or two or even three of those hard counters and have them at the ready at the first sign of its slimy tongue (or is that tung? 😛). As tired as people might be of Hypno, this right here is the actual Enemy #1. And as dominant as it can be, I do wonder if it’s worth running as your sole 10-pointer or if it’s better to save a lotta points and go with your Snorlaxes or Castforms of the world instead…
    • FROSLASS 💸💸 froze the hearts of many adventuring Retro Cup players, gaining it a chilly reception from Team Silph, who slapped it with the 10-point quasi-ban. It’s no secret at this point about how it can uniquely handle Psychics, Ghosts, Grasses, and most Fighters with relative ease and drive the opponent mad with each “attack incoming!” decision. But people also learned how to handle and maneuver around Froslass in Retro Cup perhaps more than any other Pokémon. If it was still a secret going into that meta, it certainly is NOT any longer. That doesn’t make it any less scary or potentially devastating, but is DOES make it riskier to tie up half your team’s points into. Many still will, and many of those will still find success, because there really isn’t anything else that can do what Lass can do. But a lot of folks are going to be educated on it than ever before, so if you plan to roll with it, be ready with your own counterattack plans.
    • And finally, one of these things is not like the others… and its name is ALTARIA 💸. Once again, if Retro Cup was any indication of what to expect here, people that run Alt are likely to use it in a closing role, the best way to try and squeeze its top performance out after its strongest counters (like, say, Froslass) have hopefully already been brushed aside. Altaria excelled in that role in Retro and likely can do the same here, and now it has Moonblast to play with as well. Altaria is among the very top Dragons here, and arguably the scariest for any team to face, but as with the others in the 10 point category, it’s harder to justify the cost with many others of its type around (many of whom we’ve discussed, like Goodra, Dragonite, and Dragonair).

Whew! There we have it… ALL the four, six, and ten point options, with some of the seemingly better one point field as well. But before I wrap it up, I want to take a quick peek at some things that got better in this meta after the big move shakeup that JUST hit the game. I already tweaked Normal Castform and such, but I want to highlight some others that got more interesting with the move tweaks…

    • With the buff to Poison Jab, BEEDRILL 💸 is certainly more interesting now. Beelieve it or not, it picks up wins over (Psycho Cut) Cresselia and, incredibly, Talonflame. Yes, really! Still a little risky with ample threats around, but it costs only one point and there IS value here.
    • Another beneficiary of the Jab buff, as well as the addition–FINALLY!–of a true bait move with Poison Fang, is NIDOQUEEN 💸💸. Time will tell if it really holds up as well as folks thought it would through this update, but I think I can at least safely say that regular AND Shadow Queen are at least viable now… enough so that it earned itself a bump up to four points. Worth it, but something to consider.
    • Dragon Tail immediately becomes an intriguing alternative on Shadow Dragonite 💸💸💸 with the awesome power boost DT got in the move shakeup. Technically it’s better, but I think the familiarity and feel of Dragon Breath will still be better for most players… for now.
    • That said, things that have Dragon Tail and don’t have Dragon Breath as an option obviously get a straight upgrade, and that includes DRAGALGE 💸💸 and FLYGON 💸💸💸, who earn themselves a six and four point placement now, respectively. Dragalge’s new numbers make sense, but if Flygon seems a little tepid there, consider its Shadow form and it makes more sense.
    • One more Dragon Tail user you may not consider initially is LUGIA 💸💸💸💸. No, it’s not a meta crushing behemoth here or anything, but it IS a very intriguing option now that many of us don’t even have at Great League size. You can use it if you got it, but Silph has now assigned it a six point value.
    • Yes, ARIADOS 💸 fans, it has a chance to make some serious noise here, though not with the newly buffed Cross Poison so much as with double Bug moves. 👀 I don’t know if it will really end up looking THAT good, but it’s only one point and WILL see play. Count on it.
    • With PIDGEOT 💸 it’s now “and YOU get a debuff, and I get a debuff… everybody gets a debuff!”. Brave Bird is probably still its best closer (though drastically debuffs itself in using it), while the new Feather Dance becomes the preferred bait move and severely hampers the opponent with a massive debuff as well. It’s gonna be a little awkward feeling that all out with the hard hitting but slow-swinging Gust, and it might not happen this month. But you can’t say there is not awesome potential there. And Silph agrees, having slapped a SIX point value on it. No argument here. (Note: As of June 2nd, Pidgeot is banned due to in-game bugs.)

There are more, of course, but those seem offhand like some of the big ones (and all the ones that changed point value based on the update). I’ll be taking a more detailed look at all the move changes (not just for Venture) in a separate article that will be ready as soon as I can manage it, so stay tuned for that!

But for now, for THIS analysis article, that’s a wrap! Hopefully this helps you start to balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!) and ALSO be thrifty in your point allocation. Good luck!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you master Venture Cup, whether it be for a last hurrah on the Silph season or in your Regional matchups… and beyond! Stay safe out there, 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


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