Discover the power of new Shadow Pokémon: Shadow Registeel, Shadow Alolan Ninetales, Shadow Zebstrika, and Shadow Galvantula in this comprehensive analysis.
We go through their unique strengths, weaknesses, and meta performance, and learn how to maximize your battle strategy with these new Shadow Pokémon additions. From Shadow Registeel’s confusing performance, to Shadow Alolan Ninetales’ adaptability, this guide will give you the insights you need to rank up quickly!
Team GO Rocket Takeover event
This article is a companion piece covering new Shadow Pokémon released during the Team GO Rocket Takeover: Shadow Registeel event. The event takes place from Wednesday, February 1, 2023, at 12:00 a.m. to Sunday, February 5, at 11:59 p.m. local time.
Introduction and infographic – new Shadow Pokémon
While today’s hype has mostly been around the newly announced Primal Rumblings event… happening in a month. But another event is arriving in just about a day: the latest Team GO Rocket Takeover! And with it comes not just the opportunity to TM away Frustration from our current Shadow Pokemon, but to catch some brand new ones as well, most of which ARE looking to be quite relevant for PvP! How much so?
All the details are below, but to help give you a quick visual reference, I collaborated with the awesome u/thepokegohunter_ on a handy dandy INFOGRAPHIC with the highlights… enjoy, and much thanks to them for the partnership. Thank you, buddy!
Alright, now on to the details behind all that. Your deep dive PvP analysis begins NOW!
Shadow Registeel – a Shadowy downgrade
So let’s get the big one out of the way first… do you want Shadow REGISTEEL in PvP?
The long-time king of the Regis in PvP, Registeel has been a force from the beginning, so much so that Niantic nerfed Flash Cannon AND Focus Blast way back in GBL Season 3 in an attempt to curtail its widespread use. And yet, strangely, now they have of course given it Zap Cannon and stood by as it has emerged as more of a monster than ever. These days, it’s Ranked #1 in Great League AND in Ultra League.
And while it’s not wholly dominant, its record in both Great and Ultra Leagues — and all the wide variety of Pokémon that it can and usually DOES beat with its combination of strong Fighting and Electric damage, a combo that threatens even many of its hard counters — certainly justifies its ranking. In many ways, the Great and Ultra League metas revolve around Registeel anymore, and the importance of having a ready answer for it cannot be understated.
But none of those is new information, right? What YOU want to know is that if Registeel is so terrifying, how much moreso is the new Shadow version? Well rest easy, trainer… it is not as scary as you might think.
In fact, Shadow Registeel is largely a downgrade from the regular version. And really, if you stop and think about it for a second, that makes sense.
What is Registeel known for, especially as compared to its fellow Regis? Yes yes, it has those crazy good closing moves and their wide coverage, but heck, the other Regis have that too and yet they remain much more suppressed in PvP. (A bit more on that later, though. 📍) Registeel’s advantages are in bulk, both in terms of better bulk stats (higher Defense and quite a bit more HP than Regirock or Regice), and in terms of its typing, with Steel coming with a whopping eleven resistances versus only three vulnerabilities, whereas RegiRock has four resistances and five vulnerabilities, and of course RegIce has perhaps the worst typing in the game (four vulnerabilities and only one resistance… to other Ice!). Registeel is simply built different from the others, and is tailor made for PvP play.
And what does being a Shadow do to a Pokémon? Buffs the Attack, yes, and many Shadows appreciate that, being able to farm things down much better than before. But uh… Registeel already comes with big fat charge moves that blow stuff away, and fast move Lock-On deals just 1 damage always and forever. Even as a Shadow, you’re basically never going to deal any more than that (the only things you DO get to 2 damage per Lock-On against are things with truly atrocious Defense, like Guzzlord, Honchkrow, Sharpedo and that sort… even things like Xurkitree and Mamoswine and Manectric and such still take only 1 damage! Registeel gains no farm down ability as a Shadow, so it just comes down to its often-overkill charge moves now just being… well, more overkill.
But of course, the major, compensating downside of being a Shadow is having your Defense slashed. And Defense — bulk — is Registeel’s whole schtick. It’s what makes it special. So what happens when you take that away? Bad things.
In fact, I think the easiest way to show those bad things is a side-by-side. So here is Shadow Registeel in Great League… what it gains as a Shadow, and what it loses that non-Shadow Registeel can typically beat.
(A note on this and other following tables: your mileage may vary a little bit depending on IVs, both of your Pokémon and the enemy as well. But these are the results with “average” IVs on both sides.)
|Shadow Registeel, GL||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Cofagrigus||Altaria, Lanturn (Spark), Venusaur, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Umbreon|
|0v0 Shielding||Shadow Swampert, Toxicroak||Defense Deoxys, Froslass, Alolan Marowak, Sableye, Nidoqueen|
|2v2 Shielding||Lickitung||Altaria, Sableye, Shadow Walrein, Shadow Victreebel|
Ouch. For the record, that’s a backwards slide of -5 in 1shield, and -3 in 0shield and 2shield. And some of those new losses are just embarrassing. Froslass? Venusaur? Altaria?! That shouldn’t happen, yet here we are. The 0shield wins over Shadow Swampert and Toxicroak are notable, but are they really worth all that? Not in the slightest, especially since 0shield is kinda hard to line up anyway. And your other gains are just Cofagrigus in 1shield and Lickitung… if you push it all the way to 2v2 shielding. Hardly worth it at all, in my opinion.
And Ultra League is not only ridiculously expensive, but also similarly worse than non-Shadow:
|Shadow Registeel, UL||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Poliwrath, Scrafty, Shadow Snorlax, Dubwool||Altered Giratina (Dragon Breath or Shadow Claw), Defense Deoxys, Snorlax, Talonflame, Cofagrius, Granbull|
|0v0 Shielding||Altered Giratina (Shadow Claw), Talonflame||Snorlax, Poliwrath, Dubwool|
|2v2 Shielding||Nidoqueen||Altered Giratina (Dragon Breath), Defense Deoxys, Cofagrigus, Drapion, Poliwrath|
The 1shield gains actually look pretty good at first… until you realize that those four new wins are counterbalanced by seven new losses and include things like Altered Giratina (even with resisted Dragon Breath!) Defense Deoxys, Talonflame, and Snorlax, some of the bigger and more popular names in Ultra League play. Sure, picking up Scrafty and Poliwrath and Dubwool and Shadow Snorlax are nice, but this is, at best, breaking even, and really it’s not even that. Especially when you consider that 0shield and especially 2shield (-4!) results are both underwater too. You MIGHT be able to make a case for building a Shadow Regi in Ultra, but only because it’s not quite as severe a drop as in Great League. But it’s still a downgrade and an insanely expensive experience to get there at all. I don’t think it’s worth it, personally. If anything, the opportunity I see here might be to purify a good Shadow Registeel to make building it up for Ultra League cheaper, amirite?
On that topic real quick… if you DO purify, no, I don’t think you want to keep Return. Technically you can replace Focus Blast with it (no way you’re giving up Zap Cannon!) and do already, and actually have a better shot at beating a couple things like Poliwrath and on-the-decline Nidoqueen just because Return comes a hair faster than Blast (5 energy cheaper) or Cannon (10 energy cheaper) and deals big fat unresisted damage. But you lose the ability to realistically beat things like Obstagoon and effectively threaten the many Darks, Normals, and Steels in the format without Focus Blast. I just don’t think it’s worth it, but I can completely understand holding onto Return for your one and only purified Registeel. It’s not bad, really. Do keep in mind that it’s not possible in Great League, though… no way to get a purified, Level 25 Registeel under 1500 CP. Sorry!
So what’s it all mean, JRE? In short, Shadow Registeel is a downgrade basically everywhere, barely qualifying as a weak sidegrade in a couple specific shielding scenarios (but then being far underwater in others to drag even that down). There may be a little hope for purified Registeel in Ultra, but if you’ve already build a Registeel at that level, I don’t think it’s enough to be worth that kind of investment again unless you’re just flush with Registeel Candy XL. Get your Shadow Regi while you can, but I think it’s just something to stuff in your bag and hold onto for now.
For what it’s worth, though, I think there may be better things to say about Regirock and especially Regice when they (presumably) eventually get the Shadow treatment. Being less bulky already anyway, they ironically don’t care as much as having their Defense slashes as Shadows, and DO appreciate more the extra oomph their charge moves gain. Save a Rocket Radar for them when they come around, at least.
In the here and now, though, this Rocket Takeover event is NOT a bust, because it’s about more than just Registeel! We’ve got a small but potent crop of other new Shadow Pokémon to talk about, and some of them DO stand to gain quite a bit! Let’s get to it….
Shadow Galvantula – Meta Performance and Strategy
ARACHNOPHOBIACS, TURN BACK NOW! 🕷️
Galvantula (Shadow) BugElectric
It’s timely to talk about GALVANTULA with it currently tearing up Electric Cup. Unlike the Regis, nobody is going to mistake Galv for a bulky Pokémon… it has less bulk than even things considered to be somewhat glassy like Machamp, Toxicroak, both Raichus, Trevenant, and even Victreebel, to name a few… roughly equivalent to such PvP powerhouses as Magmortar and Staraptor. (Yes, I’m using my “sarcastic” face. 😏) But those are the type of Pokémon that sometimes operate better as Shadows, of course. And yes, I think Galvantula will similarly benefit.
Here’s a look at the differences that come with being a Shadow in Great League:
|Shadow Galvantula, GL||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Trevenant, Venusaur, Cofagrigus, Alolan Ninetales (Charm or Powder Snow)||Shadow Walrein|
|0v0 Shielding||Registeel, Noctowl, Mandibuzz, Drapion, Toxicroak||Azumarill, Defense Deoxys, Venusaur|
|2v2 Shielding||Umbreon||Alolan Ninetales (Powder Snow)|
That’s +4 wins in 1shield, +2 in 0shield, and breaking even in 2v2 shielding, for the record. The 1v1 shielding results are especially encouraging, with big Grasses Trevenant and Venusaur potentially moving into the win column, which combined with both versions of Alolan Ninetales makes for a significant upgrade at the cost of only (sometimes) Walrein, and specifically only the Shadow version. It does hurt to see Azu get away with shields down, but bringing Registeel, Noctowl, Mandibuzz and others in soothes that pain nicely. I think it’s safe to call Shadow an overall upgrade for Galv in Great League, and I do recommend building one if you can.
Ultra League, however, may be a different tale….
|Shadow Galvantula, UL||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Mandibuzz, Pidgeot||Drapion, Umbreon, Venusaur, Talonflame, Granbull|
|0v0 Shielding||Pidgeot, Talonflame, Venusaur, Walrein, Snorlax, Shadow Machamp, Greedent, Granbull||Mandibuzz, Shadow Snorlax, Buzzwole|
|2v2 Shielding||Snorlax, Shadow Machamp, Buzzwole, Cofagrigus, Charizard (Wing Attack)||Virizion, Scrafty, Dubwool, Shadow Snorlax, Empoleon|
As with Registeel, this speaks more to downgrade/situational sidegrade (as compared to non-Shadow), though it’s a relatively gentle drop. With shields down, Shadow Spooder actually stands to gain more than it loses, and in 2v2 shielding it’s kind of a wash (five new wins, but also five new losses). However, in 1v1 shielding is where I really worry; picking up Pidgeot and Mandibuzz are nice, but it really hurts to see Talonflame and Venusaur and Umbreon and others slip away. I won’t say it’s wrong to build a Shadow Galvantula at all, and indeed some teams may actually prefer it (particularly those that can somewhat manipulate things to line it up in the most favorable shielding scenarios), but do consider that you really want a perfect, 15-15-15 IV candidate (since that allows Galv to hit 2494 CP), and as a Shadow, that means 356 XL Candy, not to mention well over half a million stardust to push it from Level 40 to 50. (More like over 600k!) Be REALLY sure before you make that kind of investment… if you’re ever able to at all!
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Galvantula is already flimsy enough that it doesn’t care all that much about having its Defense slashed a bit further… in Great League, at least. Recommend building one for Great League if you can, but in Ultra League it represents a sidegrade at best, and a very expensive one at that. Hold any hundo you luck into, but prioritize Great League.
Shadow Alolan Ninetales – Unique Abilities and Tactics
Ninetales (Alola Shadow) IceFairy
When we look at ALOLAN NINETALES, we’re really looking at two different Pokémon in one. Both Powder Snow (usually run with Dazzling Gleam) and Charm (typically with Psyshock) variants have to be equally evaluated and equally respected, as Weather Ball (Ice) makes them both hum along nicely.
A-Tails is not as bulky as Registeel, and also not as Attack-centric as Galvantula, with above average bulk but nothing to write home about. Its overall bulk is roughly equivalent to things like Bellossom, Charjabug, and Tapu FIni, and just below the Muks. (Close enough that they can easily be the same depending on IVs.) Depending on how you look at its unique type combination, it’s either an Ice that takes only neutral damage from Fighting and gains resistances to Bug, Dark, and Dragon, or a Fairy type that picks up additional weaknesses to Fire, Poison, and even moreso now to Steel (versus just one new resistance, to Ice). So uh… what does that all mean when you apply the Attack buff and Defense debuff that comes with being a Shadow? Let’s see, starting with the Powder Snow version:
|Shadow A-Ninetales, GL (PS)||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Lickitung, Skarmory, Shadow Walrein, Toxicroak, Cofagrigus||Froslass, Scrafty, Vigoroth|
|0v0 Shielding||Venusaur, Vigoroth, Walrein, Froslass, Shadow Nidoqueen||Pelipper, Swampert, Sableye, Shadow Walrein (tie)|
|2v2 Shielding||Lickitung, Lanturn (Water Gun), Pelipper, Walrein, Swampert||Shadow Swampert, Obstagoon|
Keeping it simple: Shadow PowderTales gets more wins in all even shield scenarios (+2 in 1s, +1 in 0s, and +3 in 2s), and while there are always tradeoffs, the value of the new wins is pretty high. Nice to see Lickitung flip to a win as long as Ninetales has at least one shield to hide behind, and great to see Venusaur is now a win in ALL even shield scenarios (0shield was a loss for non-Shadow PowderTales). Honestly, to me the new wins are much more significant than most of the losses, considering the impactful names peppered throughout.
Not quite as rosy for Ultra, however….
|Shadow A-Ninetales, UL (PS)||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Swampert, Snorlax, Cresselia, Drapion||Shadow Swampert, Pidgeot, Dubwool, Greedent, Cofagrigus (tie)|
|0v0 Shielding||Alolan Ninetales (Charm), Greedent, Cofagrigus||Sylveon, Nidoqueen, Drapion|
|2v2 Shielding||Shadow Swampert, Shadow Machamp, Buzzwole, Toxicroak, Obstagoon, Cresselia||Swampert, Defense Deoxys, Granbull, Scrafty, Drapion, Snorlax, Talonflame|
A LOT of shifting, but not really an overall upward swing. In fact, in 1 and 2 shield, Shadow PowderTales actually ends up with one less win than non-Shadow can get, and some of those results are particuarly troubling. Sure, gaining Cresselia and some version of Swampert in multiple different shielding scenarios is nice, but then you go and lose Swampert in the same number of scenarios, and even lose to PIdgeot in 1v1 shielding, which really sticks out. At the Ultra League level, Shadow PowderTales starts to really miss its formerly great bulk. Shadow is certainly viable, but again a very expensive investment (not quite Level 50, but close) and, in my mind, probably not worth it.
Nah, save your XLs and dust for Shadow CharmTales in Ultra instead. More on that in a second, but first let’s check Great League….
|Shadow A-Ninetales, GL (Charm)||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Swampert, Shadow Walrein, Pelipper, Lickitung, Alolan Ninetales (Powder Snow)||Walrein, Froslass|
|0v0 Shielding||Azumarill (Ice Beam/Play Rough), Noctowl, Vigoroth||Trevenant, Pelipper, Shadow Walrein|
|2v2 Shielding||Noctowl, Lanturn (Spark), Cresselia, Drapion||none!|
Now THAT looks like a clear improvement! It does stink to drop names like Walrein, Trevenant, and Pelipper (though only with shields down for those last two), but look at all the gains! Noctowl in multiple shielding scenarios. Swampert and Lickitung in 1shield, with a gained win over Pelipper offsetting the lose Shadow CharmTales now suffers with shields down. Even bulky Waters Azumarill in 0s and Lanturn in 2s! Chewing through those is no small feat for a Charmer.
One particular note here: some of these wins are harder (or even impossible!) when you attempt to throw any charge moves, and are best won by commiting fully to JUST Charm. These include Swampert, Pelipper, and PowderTales in 1shield, and Noctowl in 2shield. That last one in particular would incline you to try and throw Weather Balls, but if you do that Noctowl can often reach a third, KO charge move, whereas with Charm only, you usually finish it off JUST before it can throw a third move. That’s close enough to be dependant on IVs, but still well worth perhaps keeping in mind if you’re trying to blow through a Noct with both shields still in place.
As nice an upgrade as Shadow seems to be for CharmTales in Great League, though, check out Ultra League!
|Shadow A-Ninetales, UL (Charm)||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Snorlax||Shadow Snorlax, Cofagrigus|
|0v0 Shielding||Shadow Swampert, Walrein, Dubwool, Cofagrigus, Granbull, Shadow Machamp||Greedent, Snorlax|
|2v2 Shielding||Tapu Fini, Swampert, Trevenant, Sylveon, Snorlax||none!|
Yes, 1shield for Shadow is a very slight downgrade, but it goes +4 in 0shield, and as much as +5 in 2shield with NO counterbalancing losses as compared to non-Shadow! I don’t know about you, but I’ll gladly take situational losses to Snorlax, Greedent, and Cofagrigus to pick up stuff like Swampert, Machamp, Trevenant, Walrein, Dubwool, and Tapu FIni instead! And heck, you gain Snorlax and Cofagrigus in certain scenarios too, so even those new losses are not absolute.
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Shadow is an overall (though not complete) upgrade for PowderTales in Great League, but a shaky sidegrade that’s probably not worth it in Ultra League unless you’re just loaded with dust and candy. Recommend building for Great League when able. And when it comes to Charm Alolan Ninetales, Shadow is a solid upgrade in Great and Ultra Leagues. If I were to build a Shadow A-Ninetales for Ultra, Charm is how I would do it. Alolan Ninetales is a high priority target during this event, if not the priority target.
Before we move on, though, one more icy Pokémon I wanted to look at as well: pre-evolution ALOLAN VULPIX. It too is PvP-relevant, albeit in Little League. As that League didn’t return this season (and perhaps might not at all?) I didn’t dive in as deep on it, but I CAN say that it would appear that Shadow A-Pix is an overall upgrade as well. While it does give up Umbreon and Skorupi, it stands to pick up wins over Alolan Sandshrew (who double resists Ice!), Seel, Onix, Wigglytuff, and big bad Chansey. If you find an Alolan Vulpix that has IVs better suited to staying in Little League than it does evolving up for a Great or Ultra League Ninetales, keep it as a Vulpix. If Little League returns, I think you’re gonna want it!
Okay, NOW moving on to our last major highlight of this analysis….
Shadow Zebstrika – Fiery and Electrifying Charge Potential
Other analyses I have seen have completely dissed ZEBSTRIKA, both its regular and new Shadow versions. Zeb has some explosive potential already in PvP. It will never be confused for “meta”, but with its rather unique combination of heavy Electric damage (with Wild Charge) and the potential to buff it even further AND get nice coverage against Grasses and others with Flame Charge (double Charge FTW! 🔥⚡🦓), there is at least some underrated spice potential here. Certainly moreso than with something like the higher touted Manectric, IMO.
Anyway, what does Shadow do for Zeb? It’s sort of a mixed bag in Great League…
|Shadow Zebstrika, GL||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Lickitung, Venusaur, Defense Deoxys||Alolan Ninetales (Charm or Powder Snow), Walrein, Alolan Marowak, Scrafty, Toxicroak, Drapion|
|0v0 Shielding||Trevenant, Vigoroth, Obstagoon, Froslass, Mandibuzz, Shadow Ninetales, Alolan Ninetales (Charm or Powder Snow)||none!|
|2v2 Shielding||Registeel, Shadow Walrein, Talonflame, Lickitung||Toxapex, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, Lanturn, Defense Deoxys, Cofagrigus, Noctowl|
So I won’t sugar coat it… Great League is (mostly) a downgrade. Zebstrika is, like most Electrics, rather glassy… it actually has nearly identical stats to Galvantula from earlier. (Their stat products are actually only ONE digit off from each other… Zeb is one higher heheh.) It becomes quite scary with shields down, but other shielding scenarios are a step in the wrong direction. Though beating things like Vensaur, DDeoxys, Lickitung, and Registeel ARE rather nice, so there may be teams that could surprise with it. I suppose if you find one with good GL IVs, hang onto it. Buuuuuuut….
|Shadow Zebstrika, UL||Notable Gains||Notable Losses|
|1v1 Shielding||Cobalion, Dubwool, Alolan Muk, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Cofagrigus, Buzzwole, Aurorus, Snorlax, Alolan Ninetales (Charm)||Poliwrath, Granbull|
|0v0 Shielding||Registeel, Cresselia, Toxicroak||Mandibuzz, Greedent, Shadow Snorlax|
|2v2 Shielding||Cresselia, Shadow Snorlax||Registeel, Tapu Fini, Walrein, Escavalier, Scizor, Drapion, Greedent|
HERE is where some more notable improvement is at. In Ultra League, 2v2 shielding is a little disappointing, but Shadow Zeb is a beast now in 1v1 shielding, an Electric that can burn through Virizion, Buzzwole, CharmTales, Aurorus and others. Shieldless matchups see unfortunate losses to Mandibuzz and a couple Normal chonks, but I think gaining Cresselia, Toxicroak, and freaking Registeel more than make up for it, eh?
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Zebstrika is a little spicy in Great League already, though Shadow is (at best) a shaky sidegrade in Great League that is unlikely to raise Zeb’s stock much there. But in Ultra League the benefits of being a Shadow are more tangible. If you find a good candidate, definitely worth holding onto, or even building for spice. Flame Charge/Wild Charge is a wicked combo. Zeb can even be built in the low 40s to save a lot of XLs and not miss out on much.
Shadow Grumpig – please don’t
There IS also SHADOW GRUMPIG, but uh… yeah, please don’t. It’s somehow even worse than non-Shadow, which is already a completely destitute man’s Hypno.
Alrighty, that’s it for now! Thanks again to The Poke GO Hunter for the sweet collab! 🤝 And of course as always to the amazing PvPoke for the amazing resources that make this possible! And thank you for reading… I appreciate your attention and encouragement over the years!
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily Pokémon GO and PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon.
Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and good hunting! Catch you next time.