Hello again, fellow PvPers! With Pokémon GO Tour: Johto about to hit, I’ve been seeing (or directly receiving!) a number of questions that basically all center around one primary inquiry: what’s worth the grind?
So let’s see if I can simplify this and answer that basic question. And I promise I’ll try to keep it relatively BRIEF for once so you can get out there and hunt!
Also, going to try out something different: putting the summary up front!
- Get all the exclusive move stuff you can. Outside of the obvious Legendaries, in rough order of priority, I rank them as: Umbreon (Last Resort), Meganium (Frenzy Plant), Typhlosion (Blast Burn), Jumpluff (Acrobatics), Tyranitar (Smack Down), and then maybe Feraligatr, Ampharos, Espeon, and Mamoswine if you are able. And don’t forget to grind for candy!
- Top XL candy targets to grind (other than some of the above, like Umbreon and Meganium) include Skarmory, Azumarill, Politoed (Poliwhirl in the wild for guaranteed XL!), Wobbuffet, and Steelix.
- Details below on other Pokémon worth grinding for… too many to list here, but top ones include all of the above, plus things like Heracross (raid only…?) Crobat, Forretress, Ariados, Magcargo and more. Good luck with the shiny hunt!
Alright, now to provide much more detail on those basic talking points, follow me below!
BUST A MOVE
Perhaps the most critical thing from a PvP perspective is to make sure you don’t miss out on the exclusive moves being unlocked — likely for the last time in many cases — during the event.
- All of the starters want their Community Day moves, without question. MEGANIUM is a Top 30 Pokémon in Great League and Top 15 in Ultra League (Shadow Meg is inside the Top 10), with its Earthquake giving it sneaky wins over Steels (like Bastiodon, Galarian Stunfisk, Melmetal and others) and other things that can be troublesome for Grasses (like Alolan Marowak and some other Fires and Poisons), but it all starts with Frenzy Plant. Without that move, Meganium is just not viable. Same story with TYPHLOSION and its Blast Burn. It CAN get by, kinda, with Overheat instead, but Blast Burn is what really makes it tick, especially in Ultra League Premier/Classic. As for FERALIGATR… it’s not really a major PvP piece anymore (it was in the very early days of Ultra League as a sneaky good spice pick with Ice Fang, but those days are long gone now), but sure, get Hydro Cannon while you can in case it ever comes roaring back.
- AMPHAROS isn’t so hot in Great League (though it has enough Cup play to be worth having around, I suppose), but in Ultra League it’s been a pleasant surprise in Open and perhaps especially in Premier Classic play (and if anything, that’s only moreso with the Shadow version). However, part of what has made it work is the looming threat of Focus Blast. Dragon Pulse isn’t as threatening. If you lack it, sure, scoop one or two up, but Amphy doesn’t really want it in its current form. Mega Ampharos likes that Pulse gets STAB, but Mega Ampharos isn’t a thing in PvP, so….
- I mean, we JUST had JUMPLUFF‘s Community Day, but in case you missed it — or perhaps have come across a great PvP Hoppip or Skiploom since then — yes, evolve it! I wrote a long analysis on it recently, but in short: I recommended then evolving it while you can, and I still make that recommendation now, especially after it has been way overperforming my expectations in Johto Cup. It’s entirely possible it will end up being a bit better than I initially gave it credit for.
- By far, the most questions I’ve seen regarding PvP choices for Johto Tour have revolved around Umbreon. Yes, you most definitely want an UMBREON with its original exclusive move Last Resort. No Eevolution benefitted more from the addition of this move than Umbreon, in large part because many of them are not very useful in PvP, but also because it directly leads to some important wins for Umbreon. In Great League, in ALL even shield (1v1, 2v2, 0v0) scenarios, Last Resort Umbreon beats Mandibuzz straight up, and beats any opposing Umbreon that lacks Last Resort (including those with the other exclusive move, Psychic). It also beats Drapion with Aqua Tail in 1v1 shielding, and Drap with Aqua Tail or even Sludge Bomb in 2v2 shielding. In Ultra League, it also consistently beats Mandibuzz and Umbreon (or ties enemy Umbreons also having Last Resort, at worst) in all even shield matchups, and a best buddied Umbreon with Last Resort can beat Alolan Muk (with Poison Jab) in the no-shield matchup (and very nearly in the 2v2 shield matchup as well). Psychic (the move) is good to have too (for reasons most recently discussed this past December), but generally Last Resort is still THE second move most competitive Umbreons will be found with. This is almost certainly your last chance at it without dipping into Elite TMs unless Eevee gets a future Community Day Classic, and I ain’t betting on that. Do NOT miss out.
- TYRANITAR is admittedly average in GBL, much more spice pick than true meta. But it’s made a dent in certain limited metas, and it pops up here and there in Master League Premier Classic, where in addition to blowing up the Fires and Flyers and Ices you would expect (including big bad Walrein), it also tears through stuff like Gengar, Electivire, Dragon Tail Milotic, and even Waterfall Gyarados. Shadow Tyranitar is similar, but gives up Milotic to beat Snorlax instead, and amazingly, can even tie Togekiss. But it can’t do any of that with Bite or Iron Tail… you NEED Smack Down for it to have even fringe play. Thankfully, T-Tar remains a top Rock-type PvE Pokémon (especially as a Shadow, trailing only Mega Aerodactyl and maybe Rampardos, depending on how you look at things), so it’s worth powering up to Master League levels anyway. ALSO thankfully, you can evolve even Shadows still stuck with Frustration during Johto Tour and still get Smack Down, since it’s a fast move. Can always remove Frustration next time we get the chance.
- And that just leaves MAMOSWINE and ESPEON. Put simply, I think their exclusive moves are just for the collectors. Mamo runs much better everywhere you’d use it with Bulldoze or Stone Edge (if you even NEED another move other than Avalanche), and Espeon is just too frail to make any impact in any league. It doesn’t HURT to evolve one or two of each if you lack them, as you never know what move shakeups could be coming in GBL Season 12 or beyond to elevate them, but I don’t see their stock changing drastically any time soon, honestly.
GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL…?
So other than grinding for candy and good IVs for the above Pokémon, there are several other things worth searching for for PvP purposes. Roughly in order of priority of what to grind for if you still need them, by league:
- AZUMARILL and SKARMORY are obvious, no? I think I can safely move on without going into great detail on them.
- I’m not clear how frequent the Poliwhirl spawns will be, but they WILL be out and about, allowing us to grind for POLITOED. It’s tumbled a little bit since the slight nerf to Weather Ball, but is still a very competitive PvP Pokémon, and one that’s arguably ever better up in Ultra League. Poliwhirls mean guaranteed XL candy, so go find whatever ones you can!
- WOBBUFFET has definitely seen some use in limited formats, but it’s sneaky good even in Open Great League. The catch is that you want a purified one so it can have Return, its only second move option and a critical piece of it achieving a good performance in PvP. Don’t think you’ll be able to find such a Wobb during the event itself, but there is opportunity to grind for regular and hopefully XL candy to build one up.
- NOCTOWL is only used as little as it is because things like Pidgeot outshine it. But make no mistake: it’s an extremely solid PvP Pokémon in Great League.
- FORRETRESS remains criminally underrated in PvP. Get one… you won’t regret it.
- Rumors abound that the Legendary Beasts will be catchable in the wild after you jump through certain hoops. Assuming they can be found under 1500 CP, RAIKOU is the one you want most for Great League, as some folks are learning right now in Johto Cup.
- Other good ones for at least Cup formats include ARIADOS and MAGCARGO (who have both mostly only seen Cup use but really are more than good enough for potential Open GL play now), GLIGAR (and evolution GLISCOR), LANTURN, MANTINE, QWILFISH, SUDOWOODO and a handful more.
Other than the stuff already mentioned (relevant stuff with exclusive moves, the Legendaries, and Politoed and Skarmory)….
- HERACROSS is a LOT better than you think in Ultra League. While I think, based on what I’ve read, that the only way to acquire it during Johto Tour is from raids (which makes it too big for Great League, which is a shame since it’s quite good there too), that’s okay for Ultra League, as Heracross roughly around Level 30 is what you want. (So even weather boosted Heracross from raids works fine.) I strongly, strongly recommend scooping a few up during what, for the vast majority of us, is a rare opportunity to do so. And good luck with the shiny hunt!
- Didn’t see it worth much mention in Great League, where its immediate pre-evolution is just plain better, but CROBAT has become quite a disruptive annoyance in Premier and even Open UL. And as with Heracross: no XL required! 🥳
- SCIZOR is popular in Open and Premier Classic. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if YOU want to invest, but I know from some of my own battle scars that other players have used it quite effectively at this level.
- Fellow Steel type STEELIX shoots up the rankings in Ultra. (It’s so-so at best down in Great League.) It does require leveling into the upper 40s though, so grind those Onix for as many XLs as you can get out of them!
- I would venture a guess you may have NEVER seen one in Ultra League, but a high level BELLOSSOM has a surprisingly high ceiling, thanks in large part to deceptively quick (thanks to the energy generation of Bullet Seed) Dazzling Gleams and the threat it represents to the many Dragons in the format.
The big ones are the Legendaries, of course. I already analyzed them in a good amount of detail earlier this week, so highly recommend checking that out if you haven’t already, as I don’t intend to rehash that all again now. But suffice to say: Lugia and Ho-Oh definitely have a place in Master League formats. (And Ho-Oh in PvE… check out that analysis from Teban54.) But there’s at least one other diamond in the rough from Johto at this level….
I will again refer back to a much more detailed analysis on the subject, but HERACROSS (yes, again) is badly underrated in Master League, and not just in Permier Classic, but even — perhaps especially — in Open Master League. 👀 It’s a bold statement, but I’m just gonna make it anyway: I think Heracross just might be the best Fighter in Master League. It does everything you’d want your Fighter to do PLUS beats the other Fighters and much better handles Ground and Grass types (thanks to resisting Ground and Grass damage). What’s not to like, other than perhaps having the candy for it? Some raiding this weekend should go a long way towards helping ease that issue.
Alright, summary was at the top, so that’s all I got for now! Hopefully this helps guide you towards what to prioritize this weekend for PvP (and answers all the “Last Resort Umbreon good?” questions!), other than the obvious shiny hunt! ✨
Thanks for reading, and good hunting this weekend! Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time.