Pokémon GO’s Biggest Losers: Mechanics Edition

We’re back for a part two! This is a follow up to our first Biggest Loser’s article, which can be found here. For those that haven’t read the last article, this series will highlight some Pokémon that have fallen short of their potential in Pokémon GO in one way or another. In the first article, we covered the Biggest Losers in the moveset department. Today, we’ll be going over certain Pokémon that have fallen short due to Pokémon GO’s mechanics, or rather lack thereof.

Niantic and Pokémon GO draw content directly from GameFreak and the main series Pokémon games. One of the classic examples of this idea in action are some of the pretty lackluster shinies such as Zapdos and Gengar. Niantic is limited in what they can do with their game by the preexisting material they are drawing from.

The main series games have been evolving over the course of 27 years, since the release of the first installation in the series in 1996. As such, they are understandably more complex than their mobile counterpart Pokémon GO. There are so many more mechanics that are just impossible to implement into GO’s game model. Certain Pokémon have been adjusted to the best of Niantic’s ability to reflect main series mechanics, such as Slaking with Yawn as its only fast move. Despite this, there are still a few Pokémon that are hindered due to the lack of mechanics.

Of course, this list is my opinion. It makes me sad to list some of these here, as some of them are among my favorites. I think that covers everything, though. Let’s dive into the list!


This may come as a surprise to some. Eelektross is a rather forgettable Pokémon in Pokémon GO. It’s your run-of-the-mill three-stage evolutionary line that isn’t meta-defining, being outclassed by so many other Electric types. So why is it on this list?

Type weaknesses are a core mechanic in Pokémon. Every individual type has at least one weakness that will result in taking Super-Effective damage. Dual typed Pokémon add an extra layer of complexity into the game. While some dual typing combinations result in 4x weaknesses, others cover each others’ weaknesses resulting in a neutral hit.

This raises the question: are there any type combinations that have ZERO weaknesses?

The short answer is no, but this wasn’t always the case. In the main series, the Fairy typing wasn’t introduced until Generation 6. Because of this, the dual Ghost / Dark typing had no type weaknesses! This made Sableye and Spiritomb interesting choices prior to their one type weakness being introduced. However, in the current system limited to 1-2 types, there are no combinations that have zero weaknesses based on typing alone.

This is where main series mechanics come into play. Every Pokémon in the game has at least one passive Ability. Some of these abilities allow Pokémon to gain a resistance or immunity to a certain type, such as Water Absorb making the user immune to Water moves or Lightning Rod making the user immune to Electric moves. One such ability is Levitate, which makes the user immune to Ground moves.

This finally brings us back to Eelektross. As a pure Electric type, Eelektross and its evolutionary line are only weak to Ground moves. However, they were blessed with Levitate as their Ability. Because of this, Eelektross technically has no type weaknesses. There are, of course, ways to circumnavigate abilities and hit Eelektross with a Super-Effective Ground move, but this is extremely situational.

Unfortunately, Abilities do not and most likely will not ever exist in Pokémon GO. Most Abilities rely on main series mechanics to operate. Because of this, Eelektross functions as a pure Electric type that maintains its weakness to Ground, losing its one interesting niche.

Regardless of whether or not Eelektross has access to Levitate, it doesn’t change the fact that its a mediocre Pokémon at best. Having that immunity wouldn’t really help Eelektross function much better, if at all. Regardless, it is an undeniable downgrade due to a lack of mechanics in Pokémon GO, earning it a spot on this list.

Mega Medicham

A Mega Evolution?? I know this sounds crazy, but hear me out.

There are 46 different species of Pokémon that can Mega Evolve. Some of them, such as Sableye and Audino, may seem a bit out of place. While most Mega Evolutions were designed to be offensive powerhouses like Mega Salamence and Mega Rayquaza, others were designed to play more of a utility role. In order to do this, they relied heavily on main series mechanics. Take Sableye, for example. When it Mega Evolves, its ability becomes Magic Bounce, meaning it is able to reflect most Status moves back at its opponent. However, most of the time, an offensive Mega was preferred, so Sableye wasn’t that good even with its Mega.

That brings us to Medicham. In Pokémon GO, its primary role is as an excellent choice for Great League PVP. Its lower yet balanced stats mean that it excels in this area, but we almost never see it used in PVE due to it maxing out at an incredibly low 1618 CP at level 50. Its Mega Evolution sees an increase in stats just like every other Mega, raising its Attack to a respectable degree and bringing its max CP up to 2821. However, it is still outclassed by other Fighting and Psychic type Megas and even some non-Megas.

In the main series, however, it is a different story. It has the Ability Pure Power, which is quite simple: it doubles the Pokémon’s Attack stat. This sounds like it would be good, but doubling a base 60 Attack stat to 120 isn’t anything to write home about. Garchomp has a base 130 Attack stat without any other boosts. However, we’re not done yet!

After Mega-Evolving, it gains an additional 40 base points in Attack and 20 in Speed, bringing it to base 100 in both. Not bad, but not amazing, merely bringing it up to a usable level. However, if we combine both its Ability as well as its Mega Evolution stats, we see the value in Mega Medicham. It has an astounding 200 base Attack stat. For context, the highest base Attack stat in the game (without modifiers like Abilities) is Mega Mewtwo, which is base 190. That means that in a 1-1 situation, Mega Medicham would hit harder than Mega Mewtwo. Base 100 Speed isn’t anything incredible, but with Speed support like Tailwind, Mega Medicham turns into an offensive menace!

Unfortunately, Mega Medicham in Pokémon GO pales in comparison to its main series counterpart. Without its ability, it is stuck at its base 100 Attack stat, which again isn’t useless, but isn’t incredible. Because of this, Mega Medicham’s best usage in Pokémon GO is its unique passive boost to Fighting and Psychic types. Maybe one day we could see Mega Medicham in its full glory, but it is highly unlikely.


Ditto Ditto Ditto on the beach

The Transform Pokémon is next up on the list. I remember how exciting it was when Ditto was released in game, disguised as common spawns until after it was caught. Transforming into the Gym Defender while trying to take a Gym was a fun new way to play the game!

Unfortunately, Ditto is a bit of a novelty item in Pokémon GO. While there may be some cases where it could be interesting in double-edged sword matchups like Dragon types, why wouldn’t you just… bring a Dragon type?

In the main series, Ditto similarly has the ability to transform into its target by using the move Transform. When it transforms, it copies the stats, Abilities, moves, and stat changes of its target. This may seem useless, as you have to survive a turn as a Ditto and waste that turn transforming into your target. However, this is solved by Ditto’s Hidden Ability: Imposter (cue Among Us sound effect). This allows Ditto to immediately transform into its target when it switches in, rather than having to waste a turn. This gave Ditto an interesting niche role as a reverse-sweeper in Generation 8, where Zacian dominated the meta. With a Choice Scarf, it could switch in, transform into Zacian with a +1 in Attack, gain an additional +1 in Attack thanks to copying Zacian’s ability, then outspeed and KO with a +2 Behemoth Blade.

Ditto has additional utility in the main series beyond battling: Pokémon breeding. Ditto has the unique quality of being able to breed with any species of Pokémon, even genderless Pokémon such as Beldum. This makes Ditto a staple for every Trainer, whether they are breeding for shinies, competitively viable teams, or even just trying to complete the Pokédex. As such, Ditto has been available in every generation in at least one of the games.

If Niantic ever decides to implement Pokémon breeding in Pokémon GO, then I can see Ditto gaining much more value. However, it is still unknown if Niantic is even considering adding this feature into the game, especially given how Eggs work in its current state. Regardless, Ditto definitely suffers due to Pokémon GO’s limited mechanics, especially compared to its multitude of uses in the main series, earning it the 3rd place spot on this list.


I’m sure many of us were surprised when this little guy started showing up in Surprise Snapshot Encounters back in 2019. Smeargle has the unique feature of copying the moveset of the Pokémon it photobombed. Smeargle will retain this moveset, and it cannot be TM’d to learn any other moves.

This moveset mechanic was Niantic’s way of introducing Smeargle’s signature move Sketch. Sketch has 1 Power Point, but don’t let that fool you. Sketch has the unique mechanic of copying the last move its opponent used, permanently adding it to Smeargle’s moveset. This means that Smeargle has the unique mechanic of being able to learn any move in the game.

This may seem like a mere gimmick, but even GameFreak underestimated how powerful this mechanic could be. In Generation 6 VGC, Smeargle was one of the most used Pokémon in the format. Many Trainers chose to run the move Dark Void. This is Darkrai’s signature move, capable of putting both opposing Pokémon to sleep. However, Darkrai is banned in most formats. Smeargle allowed Trainers to get around this restriction. Combined with the ability to run any supporting moveset in the game, and Trainers had the perfect Pokémon that could fill any role their team needed. There were changes implemented from Generation 7 forward that prevented Smeargle from dominating as it once had, but no one would ever underestimate the Painter Pokémon again.

Unfortunately, Smeargle relied heavily on its Support moveset and other main series mechanics. Regardless of how good its moveset can be, it doesn’t change the fact that Smeargle has far below average stats. In Pokémon GO, while Smeargle can get access to powerful moves such as Blast Burn, Psystrike, and more, this doesn’t mean its good. Maybe we could see something interesting in a Smeargle only Little Cup, but Smeargle definitely pales in comparison to its main series counterpart.


This is likely the Pokémon many of you were expecting to see on this list, and the inspiration for this entire list.

Shedinja is an interesting Pokémon. While it is related to the Nincada line, it is not an evolution of Nincada. In the main series, if Nincada evolves to Ninjask and the Trainer has an extra slot in their Party as well as an extra Pokéball, then Shedinja will appear. It is the reanimated husk that Nincada left behind after evolving.

Shedinja has an interesting stat spread. It has mostly average stats, except for one: it has a base HP stat of 1. This stat will never increase, even if Shedinja hits level 100. This may lead you to believe Shedinja is useless, but that’s far from the case. Shedinja has a unique Ability called Wonder Guard. A Pokémon with Wonder Guard can only be damaged by Super-Effective attacks. This gave Shedinja some unique utility, being completely immune to some opponents, while not being absurdly overpowered. It still has 5 weaknesses, and it can be damaged passively by things like hazards, weather, or status conditions. However, Wonder Guard on its own is one the strongest Abilities in the game, giving Shedinja an interesting niche usage.

Unfortunately, Shedinja definitely drew the short end of the stick in terms of Pokémon GO mechanics. First of all, it cannot be evolved from Nincada, as this is reserved for Ninjask. However, it wouldn’t make sense for it to spawn in the wild, meaning it’s limited to Research Encounters. Additionally, the lack of Abilities probably hurts Shedinja more than any other Pokémon in the game. Niantic kind of compensated by buffing it to 10 HP, but it really doesn’t make a difference. Shedinja has basically no viability in the game. It gets knocked out in one hit, regardless of whether you’re using it on offense or defense. Shedinja is the poster child for Pokémon that suffer due to the limitations of Pokémon GO’s mechanics.


And there we have it! These 5 Pokémon each fall short of viability in some way, in large part due to a lack of main series mechanics in Pokémon GO. It’s rather unfortunate, as the entries on the list are some of the most creative and unique Pokémon in the main series games. Of course, Pokémon GO is a very different game to pretty much every other entry in the Pokémon franchise. It’s only natural that some Pokémon would be better or worse in the new system compared to the old one. Regardless, I think that wraps it up for this list. I’ll see you all in the next edition of the Pokémon GO’s Biggest Losers!

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Hey! I'm KikitheTiki, an avid Pokémon fan and a staunch supporter of everything X and Y. I dabble in shiny hunting, VGC, and of course plenty of Pokémon GO! Proud level 50 Valor💪

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