A PvP Field Guide to Osaka and London GO Fests 2023


Pokémon GO Fest is back, kicking off this weekend in Osaka, Japan and London, England. There are lots of interesting Pokémon in raids, research, and in the wild, so today I’m publishing a PvP Field Guide to the event. Not all of you may need it, but some certainly WILL be looking for something akin to this, so here you go: JRE’s opinions on what GO Festers should prioritize hunting down this weekend while you have the chance!

The bulk of this analysis will be what’s new, mostly Legendaries and Mythicals (some with new moves). But I’ll have a quick “ranking” of wild spawns from the various habitats at the end, with a few highlighted in particular.


Rayquaza DragonFlying

So not all that long ago, I did an analysis on Breaking Swipe Rayquaza and was lauding the sudden potential the big guy finally had in PvP. Particularly in Master League, where it went from this all the way up to this. The problem still remained, however, of what second charge move to run. Hurricane is generally considered the best because of the coverage it can provide (without it, RayRay is completely walled by things that resist Dragon damage) and the closing power, but Outrage had some play too (or even something like Ancient Power).

With all these options, you may not think Rayquaza would be looking for another move even more expensive than all of those, but here comes Dragon Ascent, a 70-energy Flying move (5 more energy than Hurricane) that deals a whopping 150 damage (40 more damage than Hurricane!), second in Flying-type moves only to the amazing Aeroblast that’s exclusive to Lugia. Yes, it’s even more expensive on a relatively flimsy Dragon that generates only the average 3.0 Energy Per Turn with its preferred fast move (Dragon Tail), but consider this: with Dragon Tail being a three-turn move, each one actually generates 9 energy (3.0 Energy Per Turn x3), so after seven Tails, you’re sitting at 63 energy, 2 short of firing off Hurricane. Adding on one more Tail gets you over the 65 energy needed… but it’s ALSO enough to fire off 70-energy Dragon Ascent anyway. Similarly, after baiting with a 35-energy Breaking Swipe, seven more Dragon Tails gets you to only 64 energy, again just short of what’s needed for Hurricane, and again it takes one additional Tail to get to the energy necessary for Hurricane OR Dragon Ascent. In short: with the way Dragon Tail generates energy, in most cases you won’t even notice that Dragon Ascent is more expensive than Hurricane, as they will very often both become charged on the same turn anyway.

“Yeah yeah, that’s great, JRE. But what does that MEAN?” Put simply, in the common 1-1 shielding scenarios, either of the Flying closing moves makes beating Zacian (minus Play Rough) possible (not surprisingly, Outrage can’t do that, and Dragon Ascent allows RayRay to overcome Xerneas! Well… assuming you successfully shield the Moonblast. Aaaaaaaaaand only until Xerneas gets Geomancy instead of the Tackle it’s stuck with now.

In short, it’s no worse than Hurricane, but not appreciably better either. Where you’ll see it pop a bit is with shields down, where Dragon Ascent has the power to knock out Sylveon and Zacian (even WITH Play Rough now!) while Hurricane falls short. With that in mind, yes, it’s fair to call Dragon Ascent a slight upgrade overall. Not a drastic improvement, but very much viable and probably preferrable to Hurricane (and Ray’s other non-Breaking Swipe moves) going forward. For those going to Osaka or London: get it while you can. But for those who aren’t… you’re not missing out on TOO much by waiting. Win-win?


Carbink FairyRock

I already did a PvP analysis on CARBINK which I highly recommend checking out, but in short… it’s very, very good in Great League. But ONLY in Great League, with a CP that maxes out at 1658 (and only 1467 at Level 40, so this thing requires XLs no matter what). Use the fact that it’s in raids to grind for the candy and XL Candy it requires, and hope to land like a 14-15-15, which is just as good as a higher rank IV one and MUCH cheaper to build (only need to get to Level 42.5). Good luck!

But the star of the show at this year’s GO Fests (as indicated by “The Season of Hidden Gems” and the obvious gem theme of GO Fest itself) is another Fairy/Rock type: the Mythical (and long-awaited) DIANCIE.

Diancie FairyRock

In MSG, Diancie is “a sudden transformation of Carbink”, and so it’s not a big surprise that (at the time of this writing, at least) they share the exact same moves. This means that in Great League, where Carbink has the fourth highest stat product of ALL PokémonCarbink excels, while Diancie, with a stat product ranked around #230 (roughly the same as things like Dragalge, Grotle, Drapion, and the mighty Spoink), struggles in Great League. While Diancie can beat most big name Fire, Ice, Dark, Flying, and/or Dragon types (as you’d expect of a Fairy/Rock), Carbink goes on from there to ALSO beat many Fighters (Medicham and Scrafty, most notably) and quasi-Fighters (things like Vigoroth and Obstagoon), notable Ghosts and Ghost damage dealers (Jellicent, Sableye, Cofagrigus, Alolan Sandslash), and other impressive wins like Lickitung, Lanturn, and Drapion. Carbink does all that, and Diancie just can’t.

What Diancie CAN do is play in bigger Leagues, and it looks much more interesting in that context. Ultra League Diancie is okay, still struggling with Fighters, but nicely clobbering the large number of Dragon, Dark, Flying, Ice, and Fire types in the UL meta, as well as bonuses like Snorlax, Dubwool, Golisopod, Greedent, and Charmers like Granbull, Sylveon, and Clefable. I think it definitely has a role to play, and Ultra League is THE League I think I would want to prep one for…

…because it is held back in Master League. Not because it doesn’t have a good typing and moves to compete, but because it tops out at a barely-over-3000 CP. I imagine Mega Diancie may break out in Mega Master League (whenever that returns), and as my friend and colleague u/Teban54 recently wrote about, there is certainly wisdom in powering Diancie up for PvE use. But strictly in terms of PvP, I would get one built for Ultra League and stop there. It’s the best bang for your buck.


Yveltal DarkFlying Xerneas Fairy

If you’re looking for Master League impact and are disappointed by Diancie, remember that YVELTAL and XERNEAS will be in raids for GO Fest ticketholders. Both will be getting new moves very soon, though that is supposed to be AFTER London and Osaka GO Fests wrap (August 16th – 23rd), so unless Niantic has a surprise in store, these will be in this first GO Fest weekend without any exclusive moves.

Thankfully, both Yvette and Xernie are already good enough to use in Master League without any move tweaks, so there’s certainly no harm in hunting for a good one even without special moves. But at the very least, this is a good opportunity for raid enthusiasts to get an early start on grinding candy (and, of course, XL Candy) for the pair. Because yes, both will be better with their new moves. Yveltal with new Oblivion Wing has an easier time in the mirror match and, like Rayquaza with Dragon Ascent, can blow past Xerneas (with fast move Tackle), though it does lose to Lugia without Dark Pulse. And getting cute with Oblivion Wing/Dark Pulse causes other problems, as big Focus Blast is key to have a shot at taking down Ursaluna, Excadrill, and Dialga, which is no bueno. I think Oblivion Wing/Focus Blast will likely be the standard going forward, though existing Dark Pulse variants will still have a place too.

As for Xerneas, the improvement it will see with Geomancy — finally giving it the Fairy fast move players have been begging for since its initial release over two years ago — cannot be understated. SIX new wins become possible. Some, like Garchomp and both Giratinas (as well as unlisted-in-that-sim Rayquaza and Yveltal, even with their own new moves), are rather obvious. Others like Lugia are less obvious but make sense, with Tackle generating only 3.0 Energy Per Turn, but Geomancy hitting the game with 4.33 EPT and thus spamming Xernie’s big charge moves for big damage. And still others are pleasant surprises, like Melmetal and Excadrill, thanks again to the superior energy of Geomancy leading to more Close Combats that Steels hate. Ironically, though, Dialga is a win with Tackle and actually becomes a loss with Geomancy. Though both fast moves are resisted, Tackle ends up dealing about 50% more damage than Geomancy, and that fast move damage plus an unshielded Close Combat leads to knockout damage for Tackle, but not quite enough for Geomancy. (Dialga reaches a second Iron Head and lives with about 17 HP versus Geomancy, but dies before getting to that second Iron Head versus Tackle.) Overall this is a clear upgrade, but do note that Dialga result and have a Plan B for it.

So yes, look ahead with a smile to the improved versions we’ll be getting AFTER GO Fest. But prep now while they’re in raids for that future success later.


Sigilyph PsychicFlying

Time to get to the wild spawns during these events. As with other recent GO Fests, these are mostly tied to certain habitats, and below I will cover each of those habitats and briefly talk about the priority targets from each (again, strictly from a PvP perspective). But there is one spawn that is worth talking about that will be available in ALL habitats… and no, I don’t mean Unown or Amethyst Crown Pikachu. 😝 I’m talking about the first chance many will have at landing themselves SIGILYPH.

Normally, the odd “Avianoid Pokémon” is available only in a relatively small area of the world that primarily includes Egypt, Israel, and Greece, so this is a great opportunity to flesh out your Pokédex. But unfortunately, I think its usefulness ends there, as it’s just not very good in PvP, be it Great League or Ultra League. Part of this is subpar bulk, part is a typing combination that has more vulnerabilities than resistances, but the greatest part is just dull moves. Air Slash is its only viable fast move, and its best charge moves (Bug-type Signal Beam and Rock-type Ancient Power) lack STAB damage and cohesion. Just what are you expecting to beat with a hodgepodge of Flying, Bug, and Rock damage? Grasses, sure, but not much else. Now it DOES learn some okay-ish moves in MSG that could help it, but not very much. Not every new addition can be a star, and I think Sigilyph will remain just a ‘dex filler (albeit a very rare one that is WELL worth scooping up for trading to your local community when you get back home!).

Now for the rest of the spawns. Note that most are the base form that you want to evolve up for PvP. There is an infographic in the works to summarize all these, though it may not be ready until Thursday, so check for that later. But for now, I’ll use the following key as a quick reference.


A couple quick notes of markings I’ll be adding to Pokémon throughout:

🌑 – Shadow consideration. Not all Shadows are better, but most are viable alternatives, so check and see if you have de-Frustrated candidates to build up too!

🌕 – Purified consideration. Some things are just better, or at least equally viable, with Return.

🏋️ – Legacy/Exclusive Move Required. At the time of this writing, we’re not expecting anything caught during the event (other than Rayquaza) will be coming with any moves outside of their normal movepool, so these will require Elite TMs to get their needed Legacy moves. I will spell out any such move(s) specifically per Pokémon.

💰 – High XL Investment. Obviously anything in Master League requires all 296 XL Candy to max, but this is more to denote things that require deep XL investment to work best in Ultra or even Great League. Even if you have a good specimen or two of these species already, you may need more XLs to finish them off, so this is your grinding opportunity!

And to make it EVEN easier, with a quick visual reference while you’re out grinding, here’s each habitat with the priority spawns to grind out for each one! Note the emoji by each habitat, as I will be using those as I go into detail on some of these spawns below the table.

Habitat Priority Spawns (in rough order)
Dark Jungle 🌿 Heracross, Skorupi, Zubat, Deino, Dewpider, Venipede
Fairy Garden 🌷 Bulbasaur, Ferroseed, Hoppip, Jigglypuff, Dedenne, Oddish, Spritzee
Hypnotic Glacier 🏔️ Amaura, Seel, Snorlax, Castform, Bergmite, Galarian Mr. Mime
Volcanic Island 🌋 Dratini, Charizard, Lucario, Mantine, Nosepass, Inkay, Squirtle

All that out of the way… let’s see what we’ve got to work with!


These Pokémon should be your highest priority to hunt down if you still lack them in your PvP arsenal. If you pursue nothing else during GO Fest, lock up a good one (or several) of each of these!


Heracross BugFighting

Little League Priority: MODERATE

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE

Extremely rare for the countries hosting these first 2023 GO Fests, Heracross is useful across all Leagues… even Little League for potential use in Little Jungle Cup. It works well enough in Great and even Master, but its real standout spot these days is probably Ultra League as a competent Fighter that can also bring down Bugs thanks to Rock Blast, beats most Grounds and other Fighters thanks to resisting Ground and Fighting damage, and even beats most Grasses and even some Psychics thanks to Megahorn. It is extremely versatile and matches the UL meta very, very well. Get a bunch while you can… the combination of usefulness and rarity outside of events like this make Heracross perhaps THAT top wild spawn to target this weekend for PvPers.


Dratini Dragon

Little League Priority: MODERATE (Dratini)

Great League Priority: HIGH (Dragonair, Dragonite)

Ultra League Priority: HIGH (Dragonite)

Master League Priority: VERY HIGH (Dragonite)

There are a couple other Pokemon I might rank higher in terms of overall PvP utility, but the Dratini/Dragonair/Dragonite line still has that in spades, AND is far rarer outside of events than most everything else listed below. I probably don’t need to extol the well-known virtues of Master League Dragonite (to include the Shadow version), especially since it got Superpower a few months back, but it also has potential in Great League (especially in certain Cup formats) and Ultra League as well. If there’s any of those levels where you lack a good one, this is a GREAT chance to remedy that. Also don’t forget underrated Great League Dragonair and Little League Dratini too, ideally both in Shadow form but that’s not strictly necessary. If nothing else, grind candy and XLs!


Amaura RockIce

Little League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH (Amaura)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE

Amaura is underrated in Little League, but the real “get” here is Aurorus, which has broken out as a Great League and Ultra League star, particularly in several Limited/Cup formats. But did you know it even has some use in Master League? 👀 Particularly in ML Premier! 👀👀 Even if you’re good on GL and UL Aurorus coming off Adventure Week, here’s another shot to grind XLs for a potential Master League surprise! And, of course, another shot at that gorgeous shiny. 🤩


Bulbasaur GrassPoison

Little League Priority: HIGH (Bulbasaur)

Great League Priority: VERY HIGH (Venusaur)

Ultra League Priority: HIGH (Venusaur)

Master League Priority: LOW

  • Legacy Exclusive Moves: Frenzy Plant

If you’ve played PvP for any length of time, then Venusaur likely needs no introduction. It’s been a staple since the days before GBL, when the now-sadly-defunct Silph Arena was rocking PvP touraments a year before GBL ever arrived. Metas have shifted to and fro over the years, but Venusaur has remained a fixture through it all in Great and Ultra formats, and arguably only gotten better with the addition of its Shadow version (particularly in Great League). You really should have one by now, but if you don’t, grind away. And also don’t forget that Bulbasaur is a fixture in Little League formats as well, and unlike its big bro, requires no Elite TMs to be at its best.


Charizard FireFlying

Little League Priority: MODERATE

Great League Priority: VERY HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: LOW-MODERATE (Mega Master League)

  • Legacy Exclusive Moves: Wing Attack and Blast Burn

I mean, since the buff to Wing Attack, Charizard is everywhere now. I’ll just throw out how good it is in Great LeagueUltra League (especially as a Shadow! 😱), and also a fun tidbit: it’s even good in Little League when there is a format where it is eligible, like Little Jungle Cup. 🔥 Betcha don’t have one under 500 CP yet. You know what to do. The only downside? TWO Elite TMs are required for it to be at its best.


Ferroseed GrassSteel

Little League Priority: MODERATE (Ferroseed)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH (Ferrothorn)

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH (Ferrothorn)

Master League Priority: n/a

  • Legacy Exclusive Moves: Frenzy Plant

Ferrothorn is more a star of Limited/Cup formats, but boy oh boy has it had some of those where it has shone out brightly. (Like the just-wrapping Fossil Cup!) So while its numbers are perhaps a little tepid in Great League, keep some of those Limited metas firmly in mind and look for a good one if you lack it. It’s good in Ultra League as well, and little Ferroseed has moved into Little League discussion since the recent-ish buff to Tackle.


Lucario FightingSteel

Little League Priority: HIGH

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: LOW

Man, Volcanic Island spawns are loaded, aren’t they? I still recommend getting your Great League (and even Ultra League, if you want one) Lucario via an already-second-moved Riolu, since you’ll save 65,000 dust that way. But either way, Luc is something you should definitely have in your arsenal if you play any Cup formats, as it excels in several. And this is a super rare opportunity to get a Little League Lucario, and it has sneaky good potential there if ever allowed in Little Cups.


Zubat PoisonFlying

Little League Priority: HIGH (Zubat)

Great League Priority: HIGH (Golbat)

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE (Crobat)

Master League Priority: n/a

All three are good in their respective Leagues: Zubat in Little League, long-time budget hero Golbat in Great League, and Crobat in Ultra. All took a slight hit with the eventual Poison Fang nerf (well, not really Golbat since Wing Attack was eventually buffed to compensate), but all are still stars in certain Limited metas and viable in Open play on the right team, too. Shadow versions of all three are comparable, as are Zubat and Golbat with Return if you purify them (in place of Sludge Bomb for Zubat — a Legacy move, BTW — or Shadow Ball for Golbat). These are not rare spawns outside of events, but if you’re there anyway, may as well scoop some up at GO Fest with the boosted shiny odds, right?


Mantine WaterFlying

Little League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

Yes, ANOTHER Volcanic Island spawn. Pelipper is immensely popular in Great League, but di you know that its performance is closely mirrored by Mantine, even if it doesn’t rely on baity Bubble Beam? There are differences between them, of course, with Pelipper more easily spamming through things like Drapion, and closing it out with Hurricane against Cresselia, Jellicent, and Walrein, but Mantine does good, unique things as well, like taking down Altaria, Mandibuzz, Trevenant, and Venusaur thanks to Ice Beam. It’s pretty underrated and worth having on hand. Also a nice opportunity for Little League Mantine, which is no Ducklett, but still pretty darn good!


Seel Water

Little League Priority: HIGH (Seel)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

  • Legacy Exclusive Moves (Dewgong): Ice Shard and Icy Wind

You all know that Dewgong has long been a Great League staple, though on that faded a bit over time. I’m sure you also know that, as with Charizard, it requires two Elite TMs, one for fast move Ice Shard and the other for Icy Wind. And in case you missed the memo, this GBL season it was gifted Drill Run to finally give it the coverage move it always longed for, and Gong is on the rise once again. It is well worth the Elite TMs and building from the ground up if you never did before, and this is a fantastic opportunity to hunt (or trade!) for those ideal PvP IVs. Go get ’em!


In the interest of time, I’m going to just refer back to the table above again for what else I consider worthy targets to grind… or perhaps more helpfully, I’m excited to reveal a helpful infographic from ThePokeGOHunter, intended as a handy, quick reference on what to expect as the habitats rotate and let you maximize your hunting time.

Thanks for the collab, my friend! 🤝

Most ‘mons I didn’t already talk about are solid in Limited/Cup formats at the very least, and they (and their evolutions) are all good ones to have on hand! Just wanted to highlight above what I personally consider the ones to go after the hardest.

Good luck out there, folks! Here’s hoping the weather is pleasant, the lag is minimal, and the spawns are plentiful!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter (“X” isn’t real in my reality… viva la Twitter!) or Threads (@JRESeawolf) for regular analysis nuggets, or Patreon.

Good hunting, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

Author & tags

PoGO/PvP Investigative Journalist, GO Hub and Silph Arena/Road Contributor, amateur cook, author of 'Nifty Or Thrifty' and 'Under The Lights' article series and #PvPfacts!

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