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The Silph League Arena

Arena Update

Dec 4, 2020: A PvP Field Guide for December 2020 Community Day

Author: JRE Seawolf

‘Tis the season… for a big Community Day bash!

December Community Day is back! We have most of the weekend of December 12-13 (just a single digit number of days away already!) to hunt for and evolve over 20 Pokémon that have had featured Community Days and associated exclusive moves – generally some of the best moves in PvP – over the last two years. While this year, the 2018 Community Days drop off, we still have a rehash of all of 2019 and 2020 coming back. But with the sheer volume of Pokémon to hunt down and evolve in a time limited period, what are the ones to make especially sure we don’t miss out on for PvP?

These are just my own thoughts based on experience and simulations. I do have nearly two years doing this now under my belt, but this is not gospel or anything!

Before I get into what we CAN get during this Community Day rehash, here’s a quick list of all the 2018 Community Day Pokemon (and their exclusive moves) that we will NOT be able to get this month:

  • Venusaur, Meganium: Frenzy Plant
  • Charizard, Typhlosion: Blast Burn
  • Blastoise: Hydro Cannon
  • Dragonite: Draco Meteor
  • Tyranitar: Smack Down
  • Metagross: Meteor Mash
  • Eevolutions: Last Resort
  • Ampharos: Dragon Pulse

Some of those are a real shame, and while I certainly have my own thoughts on the folks over at Niantic HQ on that decision, this isn’t intended to be anything but an examination of what we ARE getting. As always, just the facts here!

So…let’s see what we’ve got to work with!

MUST HAVES

These Pokemon should be your highest priority. If you don’t have them, don’t miss this opportunity, because for many of them, this is likely our last chance (if dropping off a year of Community Day ‘mons becomes the norm in future Decembers too, which is likely at this point). These are all worth grinding for and should your primary targets during your Community Day weekend hunt for good PvP IVs. Good luck!

BLAZIKEN (TORCHIC)

Blast Burn (Fire, 110 damage, 50 energy, 2.20 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE

One of the most efficient moves in the game (its 2.20 Damage Per Energy ranks JUST behind Frenzy Plant’s 2.22, and only Flying Press and Aeroblast are higher among moves with no drawback/self-nerfing built in), Blast Burn is terrifying to face down, ripping away big chunks of life even from things that resist it and coming alarming quickly… faster than either of its viable alternatives on Blaziken, Stone Edge and Brave Bird, both of which ALSO lack the STAB damage Blast Burn benefits from. I am *not* trying to put down those moves, as both are also great on Kentucky Fried Ken and have nice coverage applications (like allowing Blaze to steal a win from Altaria in Great League, for example). But for pure damage output, nothing beats Blast Burn.

In Great League. While Stone Edge and even Brave Bird can get that sneaky win over Alt, the sheer power of Blast Burn uniquely takes down Defense Deoxys and Unovan Stunfisk.

In Ultra League, Blast Burn is able to beat everything Stone Edge and Brave Bird can, plus Alolan Muk and Dragon Breath Charizard due to the 5 less energy it costs compared to SE and BB (which come just a hair too late to guarantee those two wins).

In Master League, there are not really any gaps between what Blast Burn and Stone Edge/Brave Bird can beat among meta relevant mons, but Blast Burn does beat things like Metagross, Conkeldurr, and Typhlosion most effectively (and speedily) with Blast Burn. That being said, it’s more of a niche option at that level, and one that sees very little overall improvement cranking it up to Level 50 (adding only Zekrom to the win column).

All that being said, yes, it is absolutely worth building a Stone Edge and/or Brave Bird Blaziken. But you do NOT want to be without a good Blast Burn one too. I recommend building one for Great and Ultra, and having a perfect (or as close to perfect as you can get) one to build now or down the line in Master League.

Notice the lack of INFERNAPE (CHIMCHAR). It’s not that its performance is not improved with Blast Burn, because it very much is… to the degree that I wouldn’t even consider using an Infernape that did NOT have Blast Burn. But the problem is… there’s really no reason to use Infernape even WITH Blast Burn. It’s just a worse Blaziken across all leagues with a far more predictable moveset (since it will basically always be Fire Spin/Close Combat/BB). I mean, if you don’t have one, sure, now’s your chance. Just don’t expect to use it much.

Find Torchic and Chimchar in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

EMPOLEON (PIPLUP)

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: VERY HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: HIGH

Unlike Blaziken, which can operate pretty effectively even without its Community Day move, Empoleon basically has to have Hydro Cannon or stay on the sidelines. Considering all of its other charge moves (other than nearly mandatory coverage move **Drill Peck** in move slot #2) cost 70 or more energy (Flash Cannon, and then Hydro Pump or Blizzard at 75 energy), its performance falls badly without the 40 energy, 80 damage Cannon.

As an example, consider Ultra League, where Empie carries itself well and sees most of its current usage. With Hydro Cannon, it offers nice coverage against a number of varied threats, but the cracks start to show without Cannon.

I won’t throw a ton of sims at you here, as they all pretty much say the same thing: Empoleon needs Hydro Cannon for serious PvP consideration. While Empoleon itself is not necessarily a high-value asset in all three leagues, getting Hydro Cannon on it in all leagues IS a high priority, if that makes sense, especially in Great League where cheaper moves are more important with most everything having less bulk than in the bigger leagues.

Find Piplup in the wild on December 12th (more frequently) and 13th.

SWAMPERT (MUDKIP)

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: VERY HIGH

Listed second among the Waters, but this may be the most impactful overall PvP Pokemon in this entire article. I only listed it second because there is little to say here. Everyone who GBLs has likely encountered Swampert in all three leagues by now, and it has popped up in a ton of Silph Arena Cups as well. Swampert is the glassiest of the infamous Mud Boys, but it’s also the only one that really has any play in Ultra and even Master League. While it does have Surf as a kinda-sorta-alternative for the same cost, Hydro Cannon is strictly better, dealing 15 more damage for the same 40 energy. If there is any league where you lack a good Hydro Cannon Swampert, this is your last, best opportunity to fix that and should be your #1 goal of the Community Day weekend.

Yet again, note the lack of the other Water starter: FERALIGATR (TOTODILE). Now there IS a niche for it in Ultra League, where it can be very dangerous with Ice Fang in the right circumstaces (mostly because Dragons HATE it), and yes, it needs Hydro Cannon if you intend to use Gatr that way. But its usage has tailed off from earlier GBL seasons to the point where it’s more curiosity than true meta threat anymore. Get one for Ultra, I guess, but this is a much lower priority than Empoleon and Swampert.

Find Mudkip and Totodile in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

BEEDRILL (WEEDLE)

Drill Run (Ground, 80 damage, 45 energy, 1.78 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE (Mega Only)

Master League Priority: N/A

Another high priority target, though really just for Great League, as Drill Run has really catapulted Beedrill into PvP success. It CAN run without it, but the coverage provided with the Ground damage takes it to new heights (making it one of few things that beats Registeel and Azumarill and can at least make Galarian Stunfisk play honest with its shields) and is particularly good in many limited (read as: Cup) metas where Beedrill appears, as Drill Run shreds fellow Poison types (among other things). And while I am not overly enthusiastic about the idea of Megas in PvP, Mega Beedrill with Drill Run could have a future in Ultra League one day too. It remains too small for serious Master League consideration, however.

For a little more info, I wrote up an article specifically covering Drill Run Beedrill back during its intial Community Day.

Find Weedle in the wild on December 12th (more frequently) and 13th.

GYARADOS (MAGIKARP)

Aqua Tail (Water, 50 damage, 35 energy, 1.43 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: VERY HIGH

Well I already wrote a long analysis article on why Aqua Tail was JUST what the doctor ordered for Gyarados, who needed the spam potential it offers to become a truly potent PvP weapon that lives up to its reputation, so I would encourage you to go read that if you didn’t the first time around. But in summary… well, just look to Gary’s best stomping grounds, in Master League, and compare no Aqua Tail to yes Aqua Tail. If you need more convincing, may I present Exhibit B, AKA Level 50 Aqua Tail Gyarados. Now it won’t be THAT amazing, since it’s matched up against Level 40-capped opponents there, but you get the idea. Gyarados is a monster in Master League… but only thanks to Aqua Tail. If you don’t have one, or just want a better (perhaps angry red shiny) one, you know what to do!

Find Magikarp in the wild on December 12th and 13th (more frequently).

CHARIZARD (CHARMANDER)

Dragon Breath (Dragon, 4.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 0.5 Cooldown)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE

Yet again, I’ve covered this one already, and extensively so. Rather than trying to re-explain, let me just sum up: Dragon Breath Charizard is a BEAST in Ultra League, and you definitely want one ready to go there. In Great League it’s generally better with Fire Spin but has some very nice niche use with Dragon Breath, such as beating Zweilous and Altaria, so it’s worth trying to find a decent one there too. It’s only okay in Master League, even pumped up to Level 50, but if Megas are forced upon us in PvP, then both X and Y could be HUGE. (Caveat again that all opponents there are capped at Level 40, but STILL.)

Find Charmander in the wild on December 12th and 13th (more frequently), and Mega Charizard X in raids on December 13th.

GENGAR (GASTLY)

Shadow Punch (Ghost, 40 damage, 35 energy, 1.14 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: HIGH (especially for Premier)

Also discussed this one before, but in short: Gengar, like Haunter, operates best with Shadow Punch to bait shields and/or sneak in extra damage when you won’t reach Shadow Ball (or Sludge Bomb or another move, if you’re feeling spicy) in time. Gengar is a little lower of a priority in Great League because Haunter does basically the same thing without Legacy moves, but in Ultra and Master, Gengar stands alone. And there is the potential of future Mega Gengar to consider… yowza. (The Megas are ALL busted and I hope they don’t enter PvP as they are now, but if they do, Master League will be changed forever… again.)

Find Gastly in the wild on December 12th (more frequently) and 13th, and Mega Gengar in raids on December 12th.

SHOULD HAVES

Slightly lower priority than the last list… these can operate okay without their Community Day moves – in some cases they’re better off without those moves – but there is enough good in running a variant with the exclusive moves that it’s still recommended you try to land at least good one. Again, this could be your last chance without dipping into Elite TM reserves and lining Niantic’s pockets.

TORTERRA (TURTWIG)

Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: LOW

Don’t misunderstand the tepid Moderates and Low up above to mean Torterra is itself bad in PvP… I actually think it’s underrated! But getting the exclusive move is lower priority, in my opinion. I have talked up Torterra multiple times before (including my very first Master League article), but as refresher: it’s good because of its unique Grass/Ground typing, its bulk, Sand Tomb baiting shields and making Razor Leaf even more deadly, and because it gets big enough to play with the big boys in Master League. You’ll notice that none of that directly involves Frenzy Plant. It’s not that FP isn’t good – it is almost unquestionably the best of the broken Community Day starter moves – it’s just that Tort really doesn’t need it to do what it’s best at. It DOES come 10 energy cheaper than Stone Edge, which can be key with a slow-charging fast move like Razor Leaf, but the problem is that Edge provides literally perfect coverage for Torterra, which is weak to Flying, Fire, Bug, and especially Ice damage… and Edge hits all four of those types of Pokemon for super effective damage. Yes, it’s slower, but when it comes, it will have much more potential impact than Frenzy Plant which deals more of the same type of damage Razor Leaf is already quickly piling on anyway. If you like Torterra, it’s worth getting a Frenzy Plant one in whatever league(s) where you’d consider using it, because it DOES work fine. I just think that if you’re using Torterra, it is the coverage of Stone Edge you want more than the relative speed of Frenzy Plant (especially in Master League, where Rock has far more utility than Grass). But that’s me!

And once again, leaving the other eligible starter, SCEPTILE (TREEKO) out completely. Why? Because it has Leaf Blade, which generally works better on its hard hitting but frail frame than the slower but harder hitting Frenzy Plant. And one of the keys to getting proper use out of Sceptile is setting up a closing Earthquake, which the speedier Blade is far better at than Plant. This is one of those cases where the Pokemon in question arguably doesn’t even WANT its Community Day move! I’d still get at least one anyway, because you never do know what the future holds (and it is very likely we won’t have this opportunity again next December), but Leaf Blade Sceptile is what you want now and have wanted during PvP’s entire lifespan thus far.

Find Turtwig and Treeko in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

RHYPERIOR (RHYHORN)

Rock Wrecker (Rock, 110 damage, 50 energy, 2.20 DPE)

Great League Priority: LOW

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: HIGH

There are many ways you can run your Rhyperior. There is the Smack Down variant which usually wants Surf and Superpower (or MAYBE Earthquake), and that’s the variant you are most likely to see in Ultra League and many times in Master League as well. But the other most popular variant features Mud Slap and relies on Rock Wrecker to get in Rock damage. Rhyperior does also have Stone Edge and can work that way too, but Rock Wrecker is better in every way, being 5 energy cheaper and dealing 10 additional damage. Why yes, it IS a clone of Blast Burn, thanks for noticing. Rock Wrecker is a very good move featured on a Pokemon you may not have made use of yourself, but is good to have in your arsenal. Rhyperior doesn’t have much play in Great League, but it’s decent enough in Ultra League to at least TRY to get one there, and I’d call it a near-must to acquire one appropriate for use in Master League if you lack it going in this month’s Community Day festivities. If nothing else, I will take off my PvP hat for a brief moment to mention that Rock Wrecker Rhyperior is a fantastic raid piece too. Get a big boy.

Find Rhyhorn in the wild on December 12th (more frequently) and 13th.

ALAKAZAM (ABRA)

Counter (Fighting, 4.0 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 Cooldown)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: HIGH

Yes, I also wrote about this one. I’ll put it simply: Counter is THE best fast move in PvP, bar none. The issue is that Alakazam is a glass cannon of Haunter-like proportions, and obviously does not grant STAB damage to Counter. BUT, it’s still a very interesting niche Pokemon, with Fire Punch and Shadow Ball combining with Counter to bring heavy pressure to nearly everything, including beating most Grasses, Ices, Steels, Darks and other, featuring huge names like Bastiodon, Galarian Stunfisk, Skarmory, Scrafty, Toxicroak, Lapras, Venusaur, Galvantula, Registeel, Shadow Hypno, and many more. And up in Master League, where it can flex its high CP, while it doesn’t get a high volume of wins, it does beat Dialga, Metagross, Melmetal, Mamoswine, Conk, Garchomp, Heatran… again, eye-catching names. Some may consider Counter Zam too spicy for their tastes, and that’s okay… but I do very much recommend landing a couple good Zams with Counter anyway. There is literally nothing else like it. And do keep in mind that Mega Alakazam (and its entire spoon collection) is likely coming somewhere down the line, and there IS the potential of Level 50+ Zam to consider….

Find Abra in the wild on December 12th (more frequently) and 13th.

CATCH ‘EM IF YOU CAN

These Pokemon either aren’t very PvP relevant even with their Community Day moves, or in most cases have other non-exclusive move(s) that are generally better. Not every exclusive move is a winner! I do still recommend getting at least one of these if you lack them, but they’re unlikely to make a big impact without further changes down the line.

SHIFTRY (SEEDOT) has some slight advantages with CD move Bullet Seed, such as beating Umbreon, but generally it wants Snarl more. (And yes, the same is true in Ultra League too.) I mean, there’s no harm in getting a BS Shiftry if you don’t have one already, but it would take an odd limited meta for it to shine out over Snarl.

Find Seedot in the wild on December 12th (more frequently) and 13th.

FLYGON (TRAPINCH) is a similar case, where an existing move (Earthquake) is seemingly superior to the Community Day move (Earth Power). Now that’s not entirely true, as EP does more easily beat Hypno and Toxicroak, but Earthquake is only 10 more energy for 30 more damage, and with Mud Shot powering them up, that 10 energy gap is even smaller than it looks on paper. And therefore, there are five wins Flygon gets with Earthquake – Shadow Hypno, Vigoroth, Sableye, Venusaur, and the big one, Galarian Stunfisk – that Earth Power cannot reliably achieve. The same holds true in Ultra League, where Earthquake gets five wins – Obstagoon, Gallade, Machamp, Escavalier, and Charizard (and yes, Earthquake IS utilized for the KO in that last one) – that Earth Power cannot… though it’s worth pointing out that the relative speed of EP does manage to beat Swampert while Earthquake it usually too slow. Long story short: Earth Power has some small niches that make it worth getting one Flygon with it, but it’s likely to gather dust on your bench for a while.

Find Trapinch in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

GARDEVOIR (RALTS) was initially very happy to recieve Synchronoise, as at the time, Psychic (the move) was still a BAD PvP move, dealing 100 damage but for a very expensive 70 energy. Shortly after (like, literally just ONE MONTH after) Ralts Community Day, Psychic (the move) was buffed, now dealing only 90 damage but for a mere 55 energy, a massive improvement. AND it has a 10% chance to nerf the opponent’s Defense too. Synchronoise, by comparison, comes for only 50 energy, BUT deals a mere 80 damage and has no chance of debuffing the opponent. Even on a ‘mon with very slow-charging Charm that likes moves as cheap as it can get to them, Psychic is just a better move in nearly every way. If Gardevoir (especially one of the Shadow variety) is part of your plans, then sure, it doesn’t hurt to get the Community Day move for one. But really, rolling with Psychic instead is perfectly fine and you will probably never notice the difference. And GALLADE always wants Leaf Blade and Close Combat so there’s just not really room for Synchronoise there.

Find Ralts in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

SALAMENCE (BAGON) got the opposite of the Dragonite treatment, getting Outrage for its Community Day move (it already has Draco Meteor in its normal movepool). Sal’s problem is that it’s just a worse Dragonite, being a bit frailer and lacking both the Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw that make ‘Nite so great. Outrage isn’t a bad move to get while you can, but Sal needs much more than that to break out in PvP. Grab one big Outrage one while you can do so without Elite TMs in case it gets more love in future move rebalancing.

Find Bagon in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

ELECTIVIRE (ELECTABUZZ) and MAGMORTAR (MAGMAR) I JUST talked about in detail a couple weeks ago. ‘Vire is less likely to want the coverage Flamethrower provides, as it already has the great Ice Punch but it’s worth having one on your bench. And Magmortar DOES appreciate the coverage of Thunderbolt, though it needs more help than that to really make a dent in PvP. Get one of each in case you missed out last month.

Find Electabuzz and Magmar in the wild on December 12th and 13th (more frequently).

WELL, MAYBE YOU DON’T HAVE TO CATCH ‘EM ALL…

Basically anything not listed above! There’s nothing wrong with getting these, but I don’t see them ever seeing any serious use. If you miss them, I don’t think you’ll miss *not* having them.

PORYGON-Z (PORYGON) is at its best with Tri-Attack, but uh… its best is still really bad. At least the ‘mon and the move both look pretty snazzy?

Find Porygon in the wild on December 12th and 13th (more frequently).

MAMOSWINE (SWINUB) with Ancient Power was more interesting last December, when AP still dealt 70 damage for 45 energy. That was cut WAY down this past April, and AP now deals only 45 damage for the same cost. If you want Rock damage from Mamo, go with Stone Edge. You no longer want any parts of Ancient Power. Avoid avoid avoid.

Find Swinub in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.

I will mention SLAKING (SLAKOTH) (with Body Slam) only because I think I have to. But uh… no. Don’t bother.

Find Slakoth in raids and 2km eggs on December 12th and 13th.


Whew, that ended up a lot longer than I anticipated! (How does that ALWAYS happen to me?) But I wanted to get this out the door as early as possible so you could be prepped for Community Day catching and evolving before the big weekend… with time to catch or hatch or trade for good ‘mons to have ready to evolve going into it!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you know what to hunt for during Community Day weekend (and leading up to it!). Good hunting, 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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