Master League is the highest-tier PvP league in Pokémon GO. It has no CP limitations, so strong Legendaries, Pseudo-Legendaries, and Mythicals are all common picks in this league. With the no CP limitations, Pokémon powered up to level 50 is basically a must, which is very costly in terms of candy and stardust. While you can bring Pokémon not maxed up to level 50, you’ll be playing at a disadvantage.
There is also the Master League Premier Classic, which does not allow the use of legendary or mythical Pokémon, which creates an entirely different meta. In both cases, it is best to max out your selected team of Pokémon to level 50. Remember that you want to have as close to 100% IVs as possible and that lucky Pokémon have highly reduced stardust costs.
The purpose of this article is to provide full details about the strongest Master League Pokémon and their best movesets in order for trainers to create a viable Master League team and prioritize resource spending on those that perform best. At the time of this article, we are currently in GO Battle League is in Season 16.
Note: Pokémon are not organized directly in order of usefulness.
It is important to know about what Pokémon you can and can’t use to be successful in the Master League and to learn all about the top meta-relevant Pokémon that have the best coverage. Some very important terms that need to be known before diving into building a strong Master League team are:
A Lead refers to a Pokémon that works exceptionally well as an initial ruling Pokémon in a battle, they’re ideal for sending out head first as they are capable of pressuring the opponent with good coverage and resistance, however, they more often than not rely on burning a shield or 2 to give them the best opportunity in battle.
Closer Pokémon are Pokémon that work well when you have no shields remaining, they have great typing and stats, alongside having exceptional moves to help them not have to rely on shields.
An Attacker is a Pokémon whose best asset is to take down an opponent’s Pokémon that has shields remaining when you’re all out of shields to use yourself. Their natural bulk, strong attacks, and resistance allow them to succeed against sturdy defenses.
Defenders are Pokémon that excels when you have shields and your opponent is all out. They are able to act as a sponge by absorbing damage and do not need to rely on the use of shields because of their bulkiness and diverse typings. However, I have chosen to opt this out in favor of “Switches” as that feels like a more relevant term nowadays. And denotes Pokémon who are safe to switch into if facing a bad lead thanks to a combination of their natural bulk and defensive typing
Now that you have learned about the categories, it’s time to talk about a few certain Pokémon for each category that have been rather successful in the Master League.
Zygarde (Complete Forme)
A relatively new Pokémon in the league. And one that is very difficult to max out. Since you will not only need regular and XL Candies but Zygarde Cells as well. Those can only be found through routes. So this one is going to take you several months to build at minimum. But boy is it worth it!
In a meta with no limits, high stats are key. And Zygarde has the highest stat product overall. With its stamina being the highest. Its nearest competitor is still 500 points behind in total stat product. Its movepool isn’t bad either. Dragon Tail, Crunch, and Earthquake. So it is quite diverse in its move typing, being able to threaten other meta Dragon types such as Giratina with Crunch and at least get a shield from Dialga with Earthquake. But again, its sheer stat product means it does very well neutrally as well.
So that is why it’s in just about every list in the brief overview section. But why not just put it in the front? Since it does well with a large variety of Pokémon you have a chance at winning the lead matchup more often than not. Which should set you up nicely for a complete victory.
Admittedly Zygarde is a bit of an edge case due to its sheer strength. So let’s use Ho-Oh as a better example of a lead. So what makes Ho-Oh a desirable lead? Well, the first of the Johto starters is already very strong and extremely bulky. The combination of Incinerate and its exclusive move Sacred Fire means it can apply both Fast Move and Shield Pressure. But what makes it all come together is its choice of second charged-attack, the self-debuffing Brave Bird.
So now if you have a good lead, you chip your opponent down with Sacred Fire, and if you have a bad lead, you nuke with Brave Bird and then swap. There are only a few Pokémon that can take a Brave Bird head-on after all.
Now this is where I would like to provide a bit more of a personal opinion. Looking at Xerneas’s moveset, one would naturally think it is best suited as a Closer. And you wouldn’t be wrong, it is! Access to its recently acquired exclusive move Geomancy makes it a very spammy Fairy type. But that’s the thing, Xerneas is a Fairy type with several fairy moves.
And there are quite a lot of Dragon types in the Master League. You are likely to meet a good deal of Giratinas, Dialgas, and even Zygardes when more people are done building theirs. So why not lead with a spammy fairy? It’ll threaten most, if not all of them. So you can face a good lead decently consistently.
Pokémon in this category tend to have similar characteristics. They tend to be bulky and spammy. The name “Closer” already gives hints as to why. These are the Pokémon you want to use for the end game. When shields are down and there’s only about one healthy Pokémon remaining.
With that being said the Pokémon in the brief overview section all share these two common characteristics just with different typing. So let’s just look at the Pokémon that may as well be the poster child for this Groudon. Groudon has decent bulk and the fast-move Mud Shot. Meaning it can get to its heavy-hitting signature move Precipice Blades relatively quickly. And even in a situation where the opponent may have one shield left and you have none, just use Fire Punch to bait out that shield!
Much like closers, there is an important trait that characterizes an Attacker. And that is Fast Move Pressure. After all, an attacker is supposed to excel when shields are down on your side but not on your opponent’s. If you know you can’t win in a Charged Attack tug of war, what can you do to win? Chip away your opponent’s health with fast attacks.
Thankfully Rayquaza has the slow but heavy damage-dealing Dragon Tail. And heck, it can use the charged attack Breaking Swipe too. So even if your opponent shields, you can debuff the opposing Pokémon’s attack so that you can guarantee you faint your opponent’s Pokémon before your own Rayquaza goes down. Also, shout out to fellow Dragon Tail user and the other Johtolegendary Lugia here as well. It got nerfed a bit with Sky Attack, but it’s still solid.
Another strong edge case but in the opposite direction is Solgaleo. Solgaleo is here for one strong reason only. And that is the fact that it can absolutely devastate two prevalent figures in the Master League, Dialga and Zacian with its Incinerate!
I wasn’t initially sure whether to talk about Dialga as a Switch or Closer. But now I think it should really be the prime example of a Switch. If you’re in a bad lead and neat to switch out, there might not be a safer option than Dialga in the Master League. Why is that? Simple, the type combination. SteelDragon is a fantastic combo! Thinking about the common types in the Master League, there is a prevalence of Dragon,Fairy, and . Dialga resists and takes neutral damage from Fairy and Dragon.
Imagine that! A dragon that only takes neutral damages from fairies and other dragons. And all the while returning fire with Super-Effective damage from its own dragon and steel-type attacks. Dialga may as well be the prime, singular reason why both Xerneas and Zacian tend to run Fighting type charged attacks.
The original Big Strong Legendary. Mewtwo was always a strong contender in the Master League from the start. It’s neutral to most things and can put in pressure with its Psycho Cut, Psystrike combo. Though it faces greater threats nowadays with Yveltal, Zarude, and even the Giratinas to an extent. But it is still great. As much like its counterpart, Mew, Mewtwo has many types of charged attacks to counter its opponents according to your needs. Threatened by Giratinas? Why not try Shadow Ball? Need to deal with other dragons? Ice Beam is your friend!
When choosing a team, make sure you are covering your type weaknesses and creating a well-balanced team. The lead, switch, and closer positions are important for the current meta and gameplay, but you can potentially pick outside of these parameters. This is intended to be a general guide to equip you with the necessary knowledge to build a basic team that will perform well in the Master League. As can be seen, many Pokémon in the Master League fit in multiple roles. This is because it is a cup dominated by the highest CP value Pokémon. So for a lot of trainers, maxing CP will be the main focus before battling in the Master League. Use this guide to choose Pokémon who are guaranteed to perform well in this season (and most likely in future seasons).
It’s up to you to choose whichever team you want and create teams, but this guide is intended to make those decisions a little easier. This guide is not exhaustive and does not touch on potential “wild” picks or other honorable mentions to potentially throw off players. Check out our Pokémon PvP Spotlights for in-depth analyses. Now, do your best to create a fun and worthy team. If you find a team that works really well for you, please comment it below!