Under The Lights: Zap Cannon Registeel in PvP

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Hello again, fellow PvPers! The last of the Regis with its big exclusive move is about to hit New Zealand and reverberate around the world, so it’s high time we see some details on this bad boy, don’t you think?

I already examined Regice with Thunder and Regirock with Earthquake, finding they are reasonable “sidegrade” options but, honestly, nothing groundbreaking.

The groundbreaking stuff comes today. 😬 Read on to find out what I mean, as we examine Registeel with new exclusive move Zap Cannon.

REGISTEEL STATS & MOVES

Registeel Steel

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
95 (94 High Stat Product) 190 (193 High Stat Product) 130 (133 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 2-13-14, 1499 CP, Level 23.5)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
123 (121 High Stat Product) 242 (247 High Stat Product) 171 (172 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 1-10-15, 2500 CP, Level 50)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
125 (133 at Level 50) 237 (252 at Level 50) 162 (172 at Level 50)

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs, 2447 CP at Level 40, 2766 CP at Level 50)

All of the Regis are famously bulky (well, not Regieleki, but that’s not yet released, so….), but Registeel puts even the other Regis to shame. It has roughly 10 more Defense and 15 more HP than Regirock and Regice, counterbalanced by having about 10 less Attack (all of that is on average). For a few references, that is bulkier than Tropius, Probopass, Diggersby, Lickitung, Dewgong, and Stunfisk, and very nearly as bulky as Azumarill and Mandibuzz.

Registeel also has by far the best defensive typing, with eleven resistances (Bug, Dragon, Fairy, Flying, Grass, Ice, Normal, Psychic, Rock, Steel, and 2x to Poison) and just three vulnerabilities (Fire, Fighting, and Ground). Conversely, Regirock has only four resistances and five weaknesses, while Regice has four weaknesses and only ONE resistance. There are several reasons Registeel is the most feared Regi in PvP, and many of them start right here with the bulk and the sweet typing that make it a true tank.

Fast Moves

  • Lock-OnNormal type, 1.0 DPT, 5.0 EPT, 0.5 CoolDown
  • Metal ClawRock type, 2.5 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 1.0 CD
  • Rock SmashFighting type, 3.0 DPT, 2.0 EPT, 1.5 CD

I mean, it’s a Regi. Is there any question? It’s Lock-On, all the way. The charge moves basically necessitate it….

– Exclusive Move

Charge Moves

  • Flash CannonSteel type, 110 damage, 70 energy
  • Focus BlastFighting type, 150 damage, 75 energy
  • Hyper BeamNormal type, 150 damage, 80 energy
  • Zap CannonElectric type, 150 damage, 80 energy, Decreases Opponent Attack -1 Stage

So Registeel has had no trouble making its mark throughout Great and Ultra Leagues with Flash Cannon and Focus Blast. It’s not often that a 70-cost move is used as a “bait” move, but that’s often what Flash Cannon is here… a way to snag a shield and set up a followup Focus Blast for the killing blow. With each Lock-On generating an insane 5.0 energy every turn (or to put it another way, 10 energy every second), the difference between charging 70 energy for Flash Cannon and 75 energy for Focus Blast is infinitesimal, but we PvPers like to bait anyway, right? That all said, obviously Flash Cannon is sometimes able to do the job all on its own, but as Focus Blast, even lacking STAB that Flash Cannon gets, deals roughly 8-12 extra damage against neutral targets, it makes sense why we may want to often delay one more turn to deal as much damage as possible with Focus Blast.

…but not for Hyper Beam. There is very little reason to consider running Beam, as it hits exactly nothing for super effective damage, while Focus Blast and Flash Cannon fully cover all individual typings in the game, leaving none that Registeel cannot hit for at least neutral damage with at least one of the charge moves. (Flash Cannon is resisted by Fire, Water, Electric, and Steel, while Focus Blast is instead resisted by Bug, Fairy, Ghost, Poison, Flying, and Psychic… see, no overlap!) I know there are some dual-type Pokémon that resist both (Jellicent, Alolan Marowak, Galvantula, and Pelipper are just a few that come to mind off the top of my head), but my point is that there is very, very little that Hyper Beam would help with, and far more that Flash Cannon annd Focus Blast combine to hit hard.

Anyway, that’s all the here and now, and it’s worked very well for Registeel for as long as PvP has existed in Pokémon GO, through nerfs and/or buffs to Flash Cannon and Focus Blast during the last couple years.

Now, here comes the first real curveball. Here comes Zap Cannon.

Stats-wise, it’s exactly the same as Hyper Beam, but of course it DOES have super effective targets: Water and Flying types, neither of which Registeel has been able to hit super effectively before. It’s resisted by Grass and Dragon, but Registeel also resists their moves, so those are kind of a wash. It’s also resisted by Electrics and double resisted by Grounds.

But the big story with it is that as of a couple move rebalances ago, Zap Cannon now comes with a guaranteed nerf to the opposing Pokémon’s Attack stat. It’s not a crazy multi-stage drop or anything, but considering the ridonkulus speed with which Registeel charges it up (as quickly as Swampert charges up Earthquake/Sludge Wave, as fast as Nidoqueen charges up Earth Power, and faster than Walrein reaches Earthquake, for a few examples), it’s often going to come in multiples (even in very unfavorable matchups). That may not change the end results of all of those matchups (though sometimes it can!), but it does give Registeel a nasty parting gift, leaving the opposition severely hobbled as they limp into the next matchup to likely rapidly perish.

Okay, enough setup. Let’s get into the meat of this analysis!

GREAT LEAGUE

So, as I typically do in these comparative analyses, let’s set our barometer. Here’s current Registeel, running Flash Cannon and Focus Blast. Really good, right?

Well, remember how I said Flash Cannon was important for potential baits because it’s 5 energy cheaper than Focus Blast? And how Zap Cannon is 5 energy more expensive than Blast? Well it seems that doesn’t matter all that much… because Focus Blast/Zap Cannon is better anyway. While it does lose the race against Scrafty and opposing Registeel without a Flash Cannon “bait”, the new wins greatly outweigh the losses, and include Azumarill (with any moveset… Regi could only beat Ice Beam/Play Rough Azu before), Drifblim, Shadow Hypno, Jellicent, Mandibuzz, Politoed, and Sableye. And also a secret win that shows up only if you go straight Zap Cannon: a win over Galvantula. Now that last one is particularly interesting, as Galvantula of course resists Zap Cannon, while Registeel does not resist Galvantula’s Electric attacks… but in the end, that doesn’t matter, as Registeel’s THREE Zap Cannons reduce Galv down to the point that Registeel comes out on top (despite having its own Attack slashed by Galv’s Lunge at the beginning of the match). And that is just one sign of some of the craziness to come.

Because if one is measuring only the damage and super effectiveness of Zap Cannon, the results come out quite different. Fortunately, I have a home copy of PvPoke that I can use to manipulate moves, so I created a second version of Zap Cannon (creatively calling it “Zap Cannon 2″… clever, right? 🙃) that has the exact same cost and damage, but simply removes the triggered Attack debuff. And here is how that looks. (I had to take a screenshot rather than link to a sim, since this is, again, from an offline, modified version of PvPoke.) Removing the debuff, Registeel with Zap Cannon can no longer overcome Altaria, Froslass, Shadow Hypno, Sableye, Venusaur, Drifblim, Jellicent, or Politoed. It still maims them, no doubt, but without detrimentally affecting their Attack stat, Registeel cannot quite finish any of them off, not even the last three which all take super effective damage from Zap Cannon. Typically this is because the opponents, without their Attack being dropped, are able to land the killing blow before Registeel can. As just one more specific example, consider Politoed. With the debuff from Zap Cannon, Registeel can fire off two and reduce the damage of Politoed’s Earthquake from 76 down to only 61 damage, and thus survive the following Weather Ball and fire off a second, KO Zap Cannon. And while I can’t show you my “Zap Cannon 2” in a simulation, I CAN drop a (shielded) Focus Blast in where it would be, and without any debuff triggering, you can see how Registeel can no longer survive to that final Zap Cannon and falls just short of the win.

To sum it up, if Zap Cannon did not have the guaranteed Attack debuff, it would be a reasonable sidegrade to current Flash Cannon/Focus Blast Regi, with ZC picking up only Azumarill and Mandibuzz from that longer list above. The Attack debuff is the thing that leads to crazy, probably unintended results like beating Galvantula.

Not surprisingly, the debuffing gets crazier the further you go. Looking at 2v2 shielding, the difference between Zap Cannon with the debuff and Zap Cannon without the debuff is a wide chasm, with wins over the likes of Altaria, DDeoxys, Hypno (regular and Shadow), Mew (with the standard Surf/Wild Charge), Sableye, Venusaur, Walrein, and Lickitung (that last one coming by sticking to only dedicated Zap Cannon) ONLY coming via debuffing along the way. Conversely, Zap Cannon without the debuff beats Pelipper, Noctowl, and Focus-Blast-resistant Cofagrigus (and beats Azumarill more reliably), while losing to Walrein and Venusaur that Flash Cannon can help outrace… a reasonable sidegrade/slight upgrade rather than double digit jump in wins that comes with debuffing Zap Cannon.

Pokemon GO Registeel
Pokemon GO Registeel

And it gets crazier in Ultra League….

ULTRA LEAGUE

I’ll set the barometer with FC/FB, but then I quickly want to throw out the numbers with Zap Cannon. That’s a jump of nine wins/15% in performance, which is a pretty big number. But even crazier is this: with JUST Zap Cannon (no second charge move used), Registeel beats all of those except Nidoqueen and Obstagoon, and ADDS new wins versus Snorlax and Shadow Snorlax. That’s right… neutral damage Zap Cannon is actually better versus Snorlax than super effective Focus Blast, with the first one dropping Lick damage from 2 each to just 1 each, and that plus the incremental chipping away at Snorlax’s charge moves leaves it unable to outrace Registeel, even with its own super effective weapon in Superpower. Of course, leading with Zap Cannon and then following with Focus Blasts makes things a little easier, but the fact that straight Zap Cannon is just as valid a way to go is pretty nutty. Remember that without the debuff from Zap, Registeel cannot guarantee that win at all.

And just look over those other listed wins I mentioned. (Again, keeping in mind this is just Zap Cannon doing this.) Gyarados, Jellicent, Drifblim… okay, those make sense with the super effectiveness of Electric damage. Even (Dragon Breath) Charizard and Talonflame make some sense. Registeel can beat all of those without Zap Cannon’s debuff, too. (I checked.) But without the debuff, it cannot beat Venusaur, Fire Spin Charizard, Granbull, or even Politoed and Walrein (thanks to their Earthquakes, which Regi can only survive if it debuffs them along the way).

And now more nuttiness. With the Attack debuff of Zap Cannon, Registeel can beat Altered Giratina, with Dragon Breath or even with Shadow Claw. Considering that especially with Shadow Claw it’s a battle of all unresisted damage from Giratina and all resisted damage from Registeel (Giratina resists Normal and Electric damage, remember), that’s pretty incredible. Perhaps even more amazing: it can beat Trevenant with just Zap Cannon too (in 1v1 or 2v2 shielding), at least). Trev CAN turn it around with a well-timed Seed Bomb bait, though just barely. The fact that Registeel can win at all against Shadow Claw Ghosts like Giratina-A and Trevenant with nothing but resisted damage is rather insane.

So, take away the debuff and once again we appear to have a reasonable sidegrade. No longer can Registeel then beat stuff like the Ghosts, Venusaur, Galvantula, Fire Spin Charizard, and Waters with the ability to fight back like Politoed and Walrein. And things that Flash Cannon helps win like Granbull and Nidoqueen (which is at worst a tossup with Flash Cannon, and even sometimes with debuffs from Zap Cannon, but unwinnable without Flash Cannon OR the debuffs).

And yes, that trend continues if things go to double shields, and if anything the gap only gets wider between debuffing Zap Cannon and non-debuffing, with the debuff directly leading to wins over things like Defense Deoxys, Altered Giratina (again, with either fast move), Snorlax, Walrein, Poliwrath, Drifblim, and Cofagrigus (and again, non-baiting Trevor). Zap Cannon/Focus Blast without the build-in debuff yet again seems a reasonable sidegrade to Flash Cannon/Focus Blast (Zap uniquely beating stuff like Jellicent, Gyarados, and Gallade, while Flash much better handles Fairies and things like Gengar), so I wish they would have just NOT tacked on the debuff to Zap Cannon.

It would be fine without it on Registeel and make this a reasonable addition to its movepool rather than one with unintended and unreasonable consequences. Things shouldn’t be getting a 70% win rate against the Ultra League core meta, especially Legendary, raid-only Pokémon that dip rather deeply into XL candy, but here we are. And yes, unfortunately in Ultra League, you really DO want to try and get good IVs. You CAN get by with raid-level IVs and leveled into the mid-40s, though you do lose Walrein and Melmetal that way. But trying to stay light on XL Candy with something like a hundo Registeel means ALSO giving up Galvantula, Nidoqueen, and Charizard completely. Still viable for sure, but you feel bad about what you’re missing out on.

TL;DR

So, let’s sum up!

  • As Zap Cannon currently works, coming with a 100% chance to debuff the opponent’s Attack stat, Registeel with Zap Cannon sees a significant jump in performance in both Great and Ultra Leagues, beating things you’d expect (Waters and Flyers) and many things you may not expect (particularly in Ultra League, where Zap Cannon alone can beat stuff like Giratina-A and Trevenant that resist ALL of Registeel’s damage).
  • Were Zap Cannon a move that didn’t debuff the opponent, it would be a solid sidegrade to the existing Flash Cannon/Focus Blast moveset, trading effectiveness versus things like Fairies and the ability to outrace stuff like Scrafty and Obstagoon for wins over Waters and Flyers like Jellicent, Gyarados, Azumarill, and Mandibuzz… things you would expect a big Electric move to beat.
  • Unless Zap Cannon is nerfed somehow, this is a significant upgrade for Registeel that you WILL want on Registeel moving forward. I would hesitate to invest fully only because A.) we’re in a Master League period for the next couple weeks (and no, I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at Registeel in Master League, to be honest), so there’s no particular rush to build a new Registeel at the moment, and B.) I do wonder if Niantic will be changing Zap Cannon in the near-term future, and it would stink to have just built one and then have it immediately nerfed.

On that note, after completing my analysis (for now, at least), I do hope that Niantic will consider removing the guaranteed debuff from Zap Cannon, at least taking it to a mere chance (maybe 30% or even 50% or something?), but even removing it entirely would not be unwelcome. Alternatively, had Niantic given a move like Thunder to Registeel (and perhaps given Zap Cannon, debuff and all, to Regice instead… basically a swap), I think that would have been fine without necessitating either move be tweaked at all. But as it is now, I (and many other content creators out there, for that matter) feel that this makes Registeel a bit TOO good, particularly in Ultra League where the majority of players will have a hard time getting the resources necessary to build one at a competitive level. This is an addition that so-called “whales” will love, but kind of screws over the rest of the playerbase, in my humble opinion. Niantic, if you’re reading this, can we revisit Zap Cannon in the next move rebalance?

Alright, that’s it for now! I’m already on to Jumpluff Community Day analysis, but until then, you can always find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, as always, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and happy raiding. Catch you next time!

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