Sinister Cup Meta Guide and Analysis

Sinister Cup Meta Guide and Analysis
Sinister Cup Meta Guide and Analysis

The first cup for Season 2 of the Silph Arena’s series of competitive ranked PvP tournaments is the Sinister Cup. The cup allows the use of Ghost, Fighting, Steel, and Psychic type Pokémon. That’s not all though. Continuing on from the end of Season 1, the Silph arena has implemented extra limitations in order to try and provide a more diverse meta.

Skarmory, Hypno, mythical Pokémon, and any Dark type Pokémon are not allowed within the tournament. While mythical Pokémon are few and far between for these types, it does include powerhouses in the open Great League, Defense Deoxys and Jirachi.

The lack of Dark type Pokémon means no Sableye or Spiritomb, and also means that the potentially powerful Scrafty will also be unable to compete here should it be released before the end of October. In this guide, we will look at the Sinister Cup meta as a whole, as well as take a deeper dive into the top Pokémon of each type as well as some “wild card” picks that could be used to your benefit or be used against you in tournament play.

Sinister Cup as a whole

While the Sinister Cup is diverse, there’s some clear front runners you absolutely need to have covered when building your team. Alolan Marowak, Poliwrath, and Steelix are widely considered by many top PvP players to be among the top 5 or 8 Pokémon within the meta.

While other Pokémon, such as Drifblim, Cresselia, and Medicham, are powerful picks, you can be sure that almost every team will have at least 2 of Alolan Marowak, Poliwrath, and Steelix.

Having these 3 covered should set you up for decent success against the majority of the Sinister Cup meta. Popular team archetypes include the use of 2 Ghost types + Poliwrath, 2 Fighting types + a Ghost and Psychic check, and there’s always balanced teams of 3 that aim to succeed across all team compositions. You will also need to try and predict well as shield baiting is perhaps more powerful than it ever has been in any Silph Arena cup to date.

Many of the top Pokémon become even stronger should they successfully pull off shield baits against their opponents. Alolan Marowak, Steelix, Medicham, and Poliwrath are core picks that are especially dangerous when they successfully pull off a shield bait. It is important to move count their fast moves so that you know if there’s a chance that they can use their stronger charge moves or not.

Spooky Ghosts

There are many potent Ghost type Pokémon within the Sinister Cup that you will want to either consider for your team or make sure you can handle. A Ghost type’s primary role is to defeat Psychic and Fighting type Pokémon.

As Ghost is super effective against itself, many Ghost vs Ghost matchups come down to if one has energy advantage over the other or which one can get a Shadow Ball to connect first. Steel types are the biggest obstacle for most Ghost types to overcome in the Sinister Cup and are best paired with Fighting types for this reason.

Alolan Marowak

Pokemon GO Marowak (Alola)Marowak (Alola)Fire Ghost
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Water Rock Ground Fighting x2 Normal x2 Bug x2 Fairy Steel Fire Poison Grass Ice
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Alolan Marowak
Fire SpinFire Shadow Ball Ghost Bone Club Ground
Super Effective Versus
Ice Grass Bug Steel Ghost Psychic Electric Fire Poison Rock Steel

Alolan Marowak is regarded by many as the best Ghost type available in the Sinister Cup, and for good reason. With the newly added fast move, Fire Spin, Alolan Marowak is able to best Steelix and Mawile while not giving up its pressure on Psychic and Fighting type Pokémon. Its secondary Fire typing lets Alolan Marowak handle Gardevoir better than any other Ghost type. Fire Spin ensures that Lucario has no chance to take advantage of a successful shield bait against Alolan Marowak, which is something most other Ghost types can fall victim to in the matchup.

With its strong counterplay against Steel types, powerful coverage against Fighting and Psychic types, and powerful shield bait potential, Alolan Marowak is a force to be reckoned with in the Sinister Cup and is well worth looking into for your team. If you don’t have a good response to it, you’ll generally have a tough time as many teams will feature this Pokémon. While Hex is still an option for Alolan Marowak as a fast move, the utility provided by Fire Spin is really what allows it to be the top Ghost type in the Sinister Cup.

The top counters to Alolan Marowak are Bastiodon, Empoleon, and Poliwrath. Bastiodon and Empoleon are especially dangerous as they can farm Alolan Marowak for energy due to how hard Smack Down and Waterfall hit respectively. Poliwrath is an extremely common Pokémon and is easily the most common counter to Alolan Marowak within the Sinister Cup. This makes Medicham arguably the best singular teammate to Alolan Marowak as it has a winning matchup against all 3 of these counters and it lessens the pressure on Alolan Marowak to get past Steel types.

While Ghost types are also good responses to Alolan Marowak, they should only be viewed as checks since Ghost vs Ghost matchups largely comes down to which one can hit an unshielded Shadow Ball first.

As Alolan Marowak is only available through raids, you are unable to obtain one with a 0 Attack IV. Because of this, you will want to look for a 2 / 15 / 14 IV spread in trades should you want to have a 100% PvP IV Alolan Marowak.

Drifblim

Pokemon GO DrifblimDrifblimGhost Flying
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Electric Rock Ice Fighting x3 Ground x2 Normal x2 Bug x2 Grass Poison
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Drifblim
HexGhost Ominous Wind Ghost Shadow Ball Ghost
Super Effective Versus
Ghost Psychic Ghost Psychic Ghost Psychic

Drifblim is one of the strongest Ghost types within the Sinister Cup meta. While it tends to do what a typical Ghost type does by beating Fighting and Psychic types, Drifblim shines best as a way to beat opposing Ghost types.

As mentioned previously, many Ghost vs Ghost matchups come down to who can hit the Shadow Ball first. Drifblim is most dangerous in this type of matchup since its shield bait is not only super effective against opposing Ghost types, but also has a 10% chance upon each use of turning it into a complete monster.

Due to Ominous Wind’s chance of boosting Drifblim’s Attack and Defense stats by 2 stages, even a predicted shield bait can end up being fatal for the opponent. Battles against Drifblim are always nerve-wracking as there’s always a chance that Drifblim can turn the tables on softer counters at a moment’s notice. Even without a buff, Drifblim can’t be taken lightly since Shadow Ball is always a threat to hit for strong neutral damage against most targets and a target that’s weak to Shadow Ball is unlikely to survive if it gets hit by the move.

Similar to most Ghost types, Drifblim struggles with Steel types. Bastiodon, Thunder Fang Steelix, and Mawile are the top 3 hardest counters to Drifblim. These all struggle with Medicham and Steelix. Poliwrath is also a potent partner for Drifblim, but be careful as a Thunder Fang Steelix can put heavy pressure on Poliwrath. On the subject of Poliwrath, Drifblim’s weakness to Ice Punch means that a more reliable answer is a good investment. Cresselia, Gardevoir, and Medicham can all fulfill this role nicely.

When looking for a 100% PvP IV spread for Drifblim, you will want to try to get an IV spread of 0 / 15 /12. If you’re unable to find one in the wild due to extreme rarity, then an IV spread of 1 /13 / 14 from a trade becomes your top IV spread option.

Dusclops

Pokemon GO DusclopsDusclopsGhost
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Fighting x2 Normal x2 Bug Poison
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Dusclops
HexGhost Shadow Punch Ghost Fire Punch Fire
Super Effective Versus
Ghost Psychic Ghost Psychic Steel Ice Grass Bug

Dusclops is by far the bulkiest Ghost type available within the Sinister Cup. While Alolan Marowak and Drifblim can brute force their way through neutral targets with Shadow Ball, Dusclops makes its mark in the Sinister Cup as perhaps the safest lead and switch-in you could deploy in battle.

With high bulk and rapid-fire charge moves, Dusclops is able to put heavy shield pressure on opponents while not having to use many shields itself. Its access to Fire Punch allows Dusclops to get the upper hand on Steelix and Mawile while Shadow Punch is still able to get past Psychic and Fighting types without many issues.

The main drawback of Dusclops is that it doesn’t hit very hard, especially compared to other top Ghost types. This means you should use it early on in a match to try and pressure the opponent into using shields so that powerful closing-type Pokemon can capitalize and have Dusclops as a fallback option should they encounter a bad matchup.

Dusclops struggles with the typical things a Ghost type struggles with in Sinister Cup; Steel types. This makes Fighting types, namely Poliwrath and Medicham, top options. Primeape can form a powerful shield pressure core with Dusclops as both have very fast charge moves. Due to Dusclops being more of a shield breaker, powerful closing-type Pokemon are ideal in order to take advantage of this. Cresselia, Lugia, Alolan Marowak, Hydro Pump variations of Poliwrath, and Steelix are some of the best options for this role.

Due to its drastically different role compared to the other main Ghost types, Dusclops is a prime candidate for a “double Ghost” strategy. A 100% PvP IV Dusclops has an IV spread of 8 / 15 / 15.

Fighting Power

While the variety in Fighting types has declined some since the change to Power-Up Punch in the September move re-balance update, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some powerful choices. Within the Sinister Cup, Fighting types are weak to the most Pokémon overall, but also have the edge against the most common tanks. When building a team, punching through Steel types is paramount as Steelix, Mawile, and Bastiodon are very common threats. Ghost is generally viewed as the strongest type in the Sinister Cup and the Fighting types handle their greatest weakness with ease.

Poliwrath

Pokemon GO PoliwrathPoliwrathWater Fighting
Weaknesses Resistances
Grass Psychic Electric Flying Fairy Water Rock Steel Dark Ice Fire Bug
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Poliwrath
BubbleWater Dynamic Punch Fighting Ice Punch Ice
Super Effective Versus
Fire Ground Rock Steel Rock Ice Normal Dark Flying Grass Ground Dragon

Poliwrath is viewed by many as the top Fighting type within the Sinister Cup. As the meta has evolved since the nerf to Power-Up Punch, Poliwrath has oddly benefited by becoming even more unpredictable. Due to this unpredictability, Poliwrath can be extremely dangerous as it can catch would-be counters with the move they fear in the matchup.

While Dynamic Punch and Ice Punch has risen to be the most consistent move combination, Power-Up Punch and Hydro Pump certainly have their places. Ice Punch allows Poliwrath to gain the upper hand on Drifblim while also pushing good damage onto Lugia and Claydol or taking shields from them.

Dynamic Punch is the preferred Fighting type move to have as it hits the Steel types quite hard right off the bat. Power-Up Punch is a great shield bait move and it can ramp up the damage Bubble causes over time. If your team has good shield pressure Pokemon already, Hydro Pump turns Poliwrath into an extremely dangerous closer as Water type moves go largely unresisted within the Sinister Cup.

Because of this flexibility, it is recommended to test different moveset combinations to see what works best for your team. It’s also crucial to look at your opponent’s team in tournament play to try and dissect what moveset the Poliwrath is most likely using so that you can counter it properly. Mud Shot is not listed, but it is a strong legacy fast move option for Poliwrath to consider. It is highly recommended to use Hydro Pump with Mud Shot due to the incredible energy gains Mud Shot has.

Poliwrath struggles with Psychic type Pokémon the most as it has good enough counterplay against Ghost types to fight through some matchups there. Steelix, Mawile, and Alolan Marowak all have favorable matchups against the majority of Psychic types you will find in the Sinister Cup.

Mawile and Steelix notably take pressure off of Poliwrath against Ghost type Pokémon as they have powerful Dark type moves to threaten them with while Poliwrath reliably handles the one Ghost type they can’t beat, Alolan Marowak. Medicham is also a troublesome Pokémon for Poliwrath to handle, so consider using a Psychic or Ghost type of your own to keep it in check.

Cresselia, Gardevoir, and Alolan Marowak have little to fear from Medicham. Gardevoir is also able to chunk any Ghost type that isn’t Alolan Marowak (which Poliwrath beats) thanks to its powerful Charm while Cresselia can take advantage of potential Power-Up Punch shield baits from Poliwrath while bullying Haunter into submission.

Should you be looking for a 100% PvP IV spread on Poliwrath, you’ll want to get a 0 / 15 / 14 IV spread.

Medicham

Pokemon GO MedichamMedichamFighting Psychic
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Flying Fairy Rock Fighting
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Medicham
CounterFighting Power-Up Punch Fighting Psychic Psychic
Super Effective Versus
Steel Rock Dark Ice Normal Steel Rock Dark Ice Normal] Fighting Poison

A mainstay in Great League PvP since the beginning, Medicham continues to be a force in the Sinister Cup even after the Power-Up Punch nerf. Similar to Drifblim against Ghost types, Medicham beats what a Fighting type is supposed to beat while also beating other Fighting types. This is thanks to its resistance to Fighting type moves as well as access to Counter.

Similar to Poliwrath, the Power-Up Punch nerf has allowed Medicham to be more versatile in what charge moves it runs. While the listed moveset allows Medicham to beat Steel types and Fighting types the most reliably, that doesn’t mean Dynamic Punch and Ice Punch shouldn’t be considered. Similar to Poliwrath, Dynamic Punch provides more immediate power for Medicham and can allow it to quickly remove a Steel type that has maybe built up energy in a previous encounter. Ice Punch reliably pushes damage onto Psychic types and Drifblim, although it generally won’t be enough to beat them unless they have been worn down earlier in the match. Due to this flexibility, it is best to test different movesets in practice to determine what iteration of Medicham works best for your specific team.

As its more of a straightforward Fighting type, Medicham needs more help against Ghost types than Poliwrath does while it also still loses to most Psychic types. Once again, Steelix and Mawile prove to be great options for a Fighting type and Medicham is no different. Polwirath is another option as it can weaken or even defeat Ghost types for Medicham and can form a dangeorus “double Fighting” core. Bastiodon and Empoleon come out on top against many of the Ghost and Psychic types and benefit from Medicham beating most other Fighting types on its own.

As Medicham maxes at under 1500 CP, you will simply want to get as close to a 15 / 15 / 15 IV spread as possible.

Primeape

Pokemon GO PrimeapePrimeapeFighting
Weaknesses Resistances
Psychic Flying Fairy Rock Bug Dark
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Primeape
CounterFighting Cross ChopFighting Night Slash Dark
Super Effective Versus
Steel Rock Ice Normal Dark Steel Rock Ice Normal Dark Ghost Psychic

Primeape has risen into relevance ever since the nerf to Power-Up Punch. This is thanks to its ability to put heavy shield pressure on virtually any Pokémon in the Sinister Cup with its Fighting / Dark coverage. Cross Chop and Night Slash are both low energy cost moves that hit all Pokémon in the Sinister Cup for neutral damage at worst. In conjunction with Counter, this allows Primeape to not only take care of Steel types with ease, but also allow it to put significant pressure on the Ghost and Psychic types that are meant to beat the Fighting types, which is something that most other Fighting types are unable to reliably do.

The biggest obstacle that comes with using Primeape is that it needs Cross Chop, which is a rather rare legacy move to come across as Primeape has never really been relevant. Likely, the only people to still have a Cross Chop Primeape are legacy move collectors that will likely not give it up for any old thing. Primeape is also rather squishy, so even though it’s great with shield pressure, Primeape will likely need to use shields in order to maximize this.

Although Primeape has strong counterplay against Ghost and Psychic types in a pinch, it still would rather not have to deal with them. As per usual, Steel types work very well with a Fighting type. So Steelix, Mawile, Bastiodon, and Empoleon are all strong picks. Dusclops can form a potent shield pressure core with Primeape that can open the door to the likes of Cresselia, Alolan Marowak, and Steelix to close a match decisively with their powerful charge moves.

Due to requiring a legacy move to be most optimal, it is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get a 100% PvP IV Primeape. However, if you get a 1 / 15 /15 IV spread, consider yourself extremely lucky.

Tanks of Steel

With Ghost types being generally powerful within the Sinister Cup, virtually every team will benefit from having a Steel type or two in order to keep them in check. The Steel types of the Sinister Cup are much more diverse than you might assume at first glance. While they generally have the edge against Ghost and Psychic types, there are different flavors of Steel types that fit onto different team compositions. However, without Skarmory in the mix, the Steel types will lose to Fighting types no matter which way you slice it, which makes the very Pokémon that Steel types are meant to defeat mandatory partners in crime.

Steelix

Pokemon GO SteelixSteelixSteel Ground
Weaknesses Resistances
Fighting Fire Ground] Poison x3 Electric x2 Rock x2 Dragon Bug Fairy Psychic Steel
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Steelix
Dragon TailDragon Crunch Dark Earthquake Ground
Super Effective Versus
Dragon Ghost Psychic Steel Fire Rock Electric Poison

Steelix is arguably the best Steel type available in the Sinister Cup. This is thanks in large part to its access to the Dark type charge move, Crunch, excellent bulk, and few exploitable weaknesses outside of Fighting. With a lack of exploitable weaknesses, Steelix is able to push through a lot of neutral matchups thanks to its great bulk and good moves.

Earthquake is a key move that lets Steelix quickly dump opposing Steel types that attempt to wear it down. While Dragon Tail is the preferred fast move for its energy gains, Thunder Fang is a powerful alternative fast move that can turn the tables on Poliwrath and Empoleon, 2 key Pokemon that otherwise have a fairly easy time with Steelix. Thunder Fang also gets stronger hits on Gardevoir, Lugia, Drifblim, and Mawile. However, Thunder Fang comes at a price. With Thunder Fang, Steelix will lose to its Dragon Tail counterpart in the mirror match while Claydol has a much stronger matchup as it not only double resists Thunder Fang, but Steelix also won’t get to Crunch as quickly due to the lower energy gains compared with Dragon Tail. Due to the strong merits but potentially crippling drawbacks, it is recommended to use Thunder Fang in practice battles with friends before deciding to use it in tournament format.

The 100% PvP IV spread for Steelix is 0 / 14 / 15.

While it may be the best Steel type in the Sinister Cup, Steelix still struggles pretty badly against the Fighting types. It also loses to Alolan Marowak should it not be able to land an Earthquake as Fire Spin will quickly start chipping away at Steelix’s health. Fighting types are easily held in check by the likes of Dusclops, Cresselia, and Claydol while Alolan Marowak struggles to get past Bubble Poliwrath and Empoleon.

As Steelix does extremely well against most Ghost and Psychic types, using something like Medicham, Lugia, or Poliwrath is a good idea to capitalize on this. It’s worth noting that Lugia, as well as other Psychic types, benefit from Steelix’s ability to overwhelm most other Steel types with its powerful Earthquake. When using Thunder Fang as Steelix’s fast move, be sure you have a solid response or two to opposing Steelix. Alolan Marowak, Poliwrath, and Medicham already make good partners for Steelix and can do well against opposing Steelix as well.

Bastiodon

Pokemon GO BastiodonBastiodonSteel Rock
Weaknesses Resistances
Fighting x2 Ground x2 Water Poison x2 Normal x2 Fairy Psychic Ice Bug Dragon
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Quagsire
Smack DownRock Stone Edge Rock Flamethrower Fire
Super Effective Versus
Flying Fire Ice Bug Flying Fire Ice Bug Steel Ice Grass Bug

Ever since the inception of PvP, Bastiodon has been a mainstay in the Great League. The Sinister Cup doesn’t change this much as Bastiodon is one of the top Steel types. While not as flexible as Steelix, Bastiodon is possibly the best at being a true Steel type within the meta. Due to its incredible bulk, Bastiodon can handle potent threats such as Alolan Marowak, Drifblim, and Lugia with ease with just its fast move alone!

Bastiodon won’t be using its charge moves often as it will normally just use Smack Down to toss away its opponent and then threaten the next Pokemon with a charge move or two. Due to its Psychic and Fairy type resistances, Bastiodon is highly dependable against most Psychic types in the Sinister Cup. Just be wary of powerful charge moves, like Earthquake from Claydol or Hydro Pump from Lugia. Depending on how you view it, Bastiodon is either very easy to get a 100% IV spread for in PvP or very costly.

As you need to max out Bastiodon to reach 1500 CP, it is recommended to try to get a lucky Bastiodon as its 100% PvP IV spread is 12 / 15 / 15, which is obtainable via a lucky trade.

It doesn’t matter how much of a tank you might be. A double weakness is still a double weakness and no amount of Defense will shield you from that. Indeed, Bastiodon is generally helpless against Fighting types. It’s to the point where Medicham doesn’t even have to use a charge move to win or block so long as it’s healthy. Steelix is also a pretty major obstacle for Bastiodon as it double resists Smack Down and the low energy gains means it’ll be a while before Bastiodon can get to Flamethrower to threaten the iron snake.

The Fighting types are handled nicely by Psychic types like Gardevoir, Cresselia, and Claydol. Bastiodon struggles against opposing Steel types due to how long it takes for Flamethrower to become available, so it prefers having help to weaken them or outright remove them from play. Fighting types, like Medicham and Poliwrath, shine here as they can not only get rid of Steel types, but also appreciate Bastiodon shrugging off Confusion and Shadow Ball with relative ease.

Mawile

Pokemon GO MawileMawileSteel Fairy
Weaknesses Resistances
Fire Ground Dragon x3 Bug x2 Psychic Fairy Ice Poison
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Mawile
BiteDark Power-Up Punch Fighting Play Roughh Fairy
Super Effective Versus
Ghost Psychic Steel Rock Ice Normal Dark Fighting Dragon Dark

The September 2019 move rebalance gave Mawile some new toys to play with. While it was already starting to gain some traction within the PvP community, the addition of Power-Up Punch to its movepool cemented Mawile as a viable Pokémon to consider in the Sinister Cup. Dark type Pokémon may not be allowed in this format, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use Dark type moves. With two types weak to Dark, Mawile chomps down Ghost and Psychic type adversaries with ease and it doesn’t even need a charge move to do it!

Power-Up Punch is really only around to ramp up the incredible damage of Bite and while Mawile may never end up reaching Play Rough, it’s still a powerful nuke that can either KO a Fighting type on the spot, or severely damage it to prevent it from punching its way through the rest of your team if you manage to get to it.

A 100% PvP IV spread for Mawile is 1 / 15 / 15, which may be somewhat of a challenge to get due to it only being available in eggs and raids outside of special events.

While Play Rough is powerful, Bite’s low energy gains means that Mawile won’t be reaching it very quickly which leaves it pretty vulnerable to Fighting types. Power-Up Punch is also pretty weak, so Steel types also end up having a relatively easy time with Mawile. Claydol is a potent partner for Mawile as Confusion can delete Fighting types from existence while its powerful Ground type charge moves can keep Steel types honest with their shielding. Fighting types like Medicham, Primeape, and Poliwrath make for more dedicated Steel type counters and they appreciate having Mawile to eat up Ghost and Psychic types.

As Mawile is far less tanky as other Steel types, it appreciates teammates that don’t necessarily need shields to take care of their targets. Cresselia, Dusclops, and Lugia are strong options to consider for this reason. Alolan Marowak is troublesome should it be using Fire Spin, so be sure to have Poliwrath, Bastiodon, or Empoleon at the ready in order to handle it.

Sinister Psychics

While sometimes considered the least necessary type in the Sinister Cup, Psychic type Pokémon are the hardest counters to the powerful Fighting types of the meta. While their targets are few, keep in mind that the top three Fighting types are widely considered to be top 10 or top 15 options because of how good they are at their roles. Many of the top Psychic types have extra capabilities to lend to the team, which allow them to fulfill other roles on top of countering Fighting types. Many struggle with Steel types and almost all of them struggle against Ghost types, so pick and choose the matchups to get the most out of your Psychic types as they have a lot of natural enemies lurking within the meta.

Cresselia

Pokemon GO CresseliaCresseliaPsychic
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Bug Fighting Psychic
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Cresselia
ConfusionPsychic Future Sight Psychic Aurora Beam Ice
Super Effective Versus
Fighting Poison Fighting Poison Flying Ground Grass Dragon

Cresselia is the bulkiest Psychic type and one of the bulkiest Pokémon overall in the Sinister Cup. With her high bulk and access to Confusion, Cresselia effortlessly removes Fighting types from play. Cresselia can also cause some of the squishy Ghost types some grief as Confusion will quickly start to chunk them down. Future Sight is a powerful closing move that can dent any Pokémon that doesn’t resist it. Although it’s a subpar move in general, Aurora Beam gets the nod for Cresselia’s 2nd charge move as it has less energy cost and overlapping coverage than Moonblast. However, outside of shield baiting, Aurora Beam will generally only be used if Cresselia needs to KO a weakened foe before they can potentially harm her with a charge move.

Although difficult to obtain, a 100% PvP IV spread for Cresselia is 2 / 15 / 13.

While Cresselia is incredibly bulky, she is a straightforward Psychic type at the end of the day, which means she is generally helpless against Steel type Pokémon as well as most other Psychic type Pokémon that have a secondary STAB move that can hit for neutral damage. Alolan Marowak is capable of defeating Steelix and Mawile while also pressuring Claydol, Lugia, and Bronzong with Shadow Ball and Fire Spin respectively.

Steelix is another potent ally as it has access to Crunch to threaten Psychic and Ghost types while Earthquake can quickly KO most Steel types trying to call a shield bait. Mawile is another strong option to quickly rip through Psychic and Ghost types with its powerful Bite. Perhaps the biggest issue with using Cresselia will be obtaining one in the first place. Odds are, you will need to trade with an Ultra Friend or lower in order to get a Cresselia that qualifies for the Great League and don’t forget the hefty 2nd move unlock cost of 100k stardust and 100 candies.

Claydol

Pokemon GO ClaydolClaydolGround Psychic
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Water Grass Ice Bug Electric x2 Fighting Rock Psychic Poison
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Claydol
ConfusionPsychic Earth Power Ground Earthquake Ground
Super Effective Versus
Fighting Poison Steel Rock Fire Poison Electric Steel Rock Fire Poison Electric

While the typing may leave a bit to be desired defensively in the Sinister Cup, Claydol is a potent Psychic type pick due to its ability to turn the tides against any Steel type it faces, which is something no other Psychic type in the meta can’t claim.

With powerful STAB Ground type moves, Claydol can overcome Steel types when necessary, which is critical as most players count on Steel types to check the Psychic types. Claydol still has Confusion, which is what is necessary to delete Fighting types from a match, It may seem strange to double up on Ground type charge moves, but Gyro Ball is pretty much worthless in the Sinister Cup and Psychic will only ever see use if Claydol is super low on health, has already farmed energy on a Fighting type, and can’t survive for Confusion to deplete another Fighting type of its health.

Earth Power will generally be used more frequently for its lower energy cost and chance to lower Defense, which will obviously turn Confusion into a nuke itself on anything that doesn’t resist it. Earthquake is necessary for some extra power against Steel types and opposing Psychic types. The biggest target for this is Steelix as Claydol needs the extra power from Earthquake to KO off of a shield bait before Crunch overwhelms it.

Look for an IV spread of 0 / 14 / 15 if you’re trying to find a 100% PvP IV Claydol.

While Claydol certainly has much stronger counterplay against Steel types than most other Psychic types, it’s still recommended to utilize something like Medicham or Poliwrath to lessen the pressure on Claydol to overcome them. Steelix is also a good option, particularly one with Thunder Fang, to handle Ghost and Steel types. A Thunder Fang Steelix also fares well against Lugia, a Psychic type that doesn’t fear anything from Claydol.

Due to its high energy cost charge moves, Claydol has a hard time keeping up with Ghost types. Mawile chews through them with ease aside from Alolan Marowak while Bastiodon can chunk them down with Smack Down and absorb a lot of their damage. Mawile also can rip into Cresselia and Lugia, two Psychic types that can hit Claydol with super effective coverage moves.

Lugia

Pokemon GO LugiaLugiaPsychic Flying
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Ice Electric Rock Fighting x2 Ground x2 Psychic Grass
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Lugia
ExtrasensoryPsychic Sky Attack Flying Hydro Pump Water
Super Effective Versus
Fighting Poison Fighting Grass Bug Fire Ground Rock

While most agree that Cresselia and Claydol are the top 2 Psychic types in the Sinister Cup, the race for the final spot among the top 3 Psychic types is largely up for debate. Lugia stands out from the rest of the pack with a double Fighting resistance, great bulk, and powerful charge moves that strike much of the meta for at least neutral damage. While not as bulky as Cresselia, Lugia fulfills a similar role by being able to soak a lot of damage while dishing out strong damage in return.

Lugia may lack Confusion in its arsenal, but it makes up for this with a much quicker charge move in Sky Attack which also happens to be pretty powerful in its own right. Sky Attack not only tears through Fighting types, but it also hits most opposing Psychic types for neutral damage, thus allowing Lugia to come out on top against many of them. Hydro Pump may not hurt Steel types as much as Claydol’s STAB Ground type moves do, but it still packs a heavy punch and will punish almost any Pokemon that doesn’t shield it or can’t shield it.

While Dragon Tail has marginally better energy gains, Extrasensory strengthens Lugia’s matchups against Fighting types, which is the main reason a Psychic type is used in the Sinister Cup anyway. Should you be running a team that already handles Fighting types well, Dragon Tail is a solid alternative for more general coverage. For it to qualify in the Great Leaugue, you will need to find someone with Research Box Lugias.

A 100% PvP IV spread for Lugia is 4 / 14 / 15 as it is impossible to obtain one with 0 Attack due to trade limitations on legendary Pokémon.

Due to its Flying typing, Lugia can struggle against Poliwrath should it be worn down or if Poliwrath has stored energy. This makes Dusclops, Medicham, and Gardevoir strong options to use with Lugia. As is typical of other Psychic types, Lugia doesn’t like dealing with Steel and Ghost types. The aforementioned Medicham, along with Poliwrath and Primeape, can handle Steel types with ease and appreciate Lugia’s high bulk and ability to pressure opposing Psychic types with strong Sky Attacks. Bastiodon and Mawile are potent answers to Ghost types. On the subject of Bastiodon, it completely walls Lugia and can KO it with Smack Down alone while not even needing to shield Hydro Pump should it not want to despite its Water type weakness.

If you’re using Lugia and see a Bastiodon on the opposing team roster, be doubly sure you run a Fighting type to prevent it from taking advantage of Lugia.

Wild Wilderness

While the above Pokémon are the best places to start, that doesn’t mean they’re the only Pokémon you have to choose from to make a competitive Sinister Cup team. Below is a list of alternative Pokémon to consider that are organized by type to help you identify some other options should you not find exactly what your team needs with one of the above Pokemon.

Sneaky Alternatives

Haunter

Pokemon GO HaunterHaunterGhost Poison
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Psychic Ground Fighting x3 Normal x2 Poison x2 Bug x2 Fairy Grass[
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Haunter
Shadow ClawGhost Shadow BallGhost Shadow Punch Ghost
Super Effective Versus
Ghost Psychic Ghost Psychic Ghost Psychic

Haunter is the hidden master of Ghost types that isn’t so hidden. Due to its incredible Attack stat and access to Shadow Claw, Haunter is able to outduel many of the Ghost types in the Sinister Cup. The main issue you’ll come across is finding one with Shadow Ball. Not only is Shadow Ball a legacy move, but it’s a legacy move on a middle stage Pokémon.

Because of the relevance of its evolved form, Gengar, in the raid meta, it is extremely difficult to find anyone with a Haunter from 2016 or early 2017, much less one with Shadow Ball as TMs were not a thing back then. Outside of beating most other Ghost types, Haunter also fares well against most Fighting types due to its triple resistance helping to make up for its subpar bulk. Medicham in particular does not want to see a Haunter as its weak to Shadow Claw thanks to its secondary Psychic typing.

On top of struggling against Steel types like most other Ghost types, Haunter gets betrayed by its secondary Poison typing, which is ultimately what holds it back from the top Ghost types. Due to that secondary typing, Haunter gets deleted by any Psychic type with Confusion. In fact, it’s so bad with Gallade that Haunter faints to 3 Confusion hits. Needless to say, having a Steel type like Bastiodon or Mawile is highly recommended to get past Psychic types. Both appreciate Haunter getting rid of Fighting types for them. On the subject of Fighting types, using Medicham or Poliwrath is a good idea to get rid of those pesky Steel types that can generally stomach Haunter’s powerful Shadow Ball.

Banette

Pokemon GO BanetteBanetteGhost
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Fighting x2 Normal x2 Bug Poison
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Banette
Shadow ClawGhost Shadow Ball Ghost Thunder Electric
Super Effective Versus
Ghost Psychic Ghost Psychic Water Flying

Banette is a more freely available Haunter for all intents and purposes as it has current access to Shadow Ball. Similar to Haunter, Banette is able to beat many Ghost types and still is something Fighting types generally don’t want to face. Beyond that, there’s a bit of a trade off with the two.

Banette’s lack of a secondary Poison typing means that it fares much better against the Psychic types. However, it lacks access to Shadow Punch, which means it can’t shield bait opponents and will generally have a tough time with Dusclops as a result. Thunder is there to nuke Poliwrath and Empoleon, and because Dazzling Gleam is generally a subpar move on anything that gets it due to the high energy cost.

Banette works well with Fighting types, so Medicham, Lucario, Poliwrath, and Primeape are all good options. Due to its frailty, Banette will need to use shields to stay alive, so bulky Pokemon like Steelix and Bastiodon can take pressure off of Banette against Ghost and Psychic types while not needing to use shields themselves all the time.

Alternative Punch

Lucario

Pokemon GO LucarioLucarioFighting Steel
Weaknesses Resistances
Fighting Fire Ground Rock x2 Poison x2 Bug x2 Ice Grass Dark
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Lucario
CounterFighting Power-Up Punch Fighting Shadow Ball Ghost
Super Effective Versus
Steel Rock Ice Normal Dark Steel Rock Ice Normal Dark Ghost Psychic

Fighting types are few and far between within the Sinister Cup after the nerf to Power-Up Punch. Lucario is really the only other Fighting type that should be considered viable in the meta. While definitely a few steps behind the top three Fighting types, Lucario still has some things going for it. Its secondary Steel typing and access to Shadow Ball enables it to have the best chance among all Fighting types against Psychic types.

Lucario also has a great shield bait move in Power-Up Punch to ramp up Counter damage and set up for a powerful Shadow Ball. While nowhere near the dominant force we all remember Lucario to be from the Kingdom Cup, this fan-favorite mascot for gen 4 is still a viable option to use here.

While the secondary Steel typing is a blessing against Psychic types, it is an absolute curse against fellow Fighting types. For this reason, Cresselia, Lugia, and Alolan Marowak make for great teammates. Cresselia and Lugia are also notable for their ability to not require shields to survive, which is definitely something Lucario enjoys as most charge moves will KO it or leave it severely weakened. Although Lucario has strong counterplay against Ghost and Psychic types, it still appreciates having something like Mawile or Bastiodon to more reliably take them on.

Second Tanks

Empoleon

Pokemon GO EmpoleonEmpoleonWater Steel
Weaknesses Resistances
Fighting Ground Electric Ice x2 Poison x2 Fairy Psychic Water Dragon Bug Flying [
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Empoleon
WaterfallWater Hydro Pump Water Flash Cannon Steel
Super Effective Versus
Fire Rock Ground Fire Rock Ground Fairy Ice Bug

Empoleon makes a name for itself in the Sinister Cup with a hard hitting fast move that has few resistances and a fantastic defensive typing that leaves few openings. Waterfall is the main reason Empoleon is successful as there’s very few Pokemon that resist it and multiple common Pokémon that are weak to the move. While it won’t get to charge moves all that often, Empoleon can decimate opposing Pokémon should it get to them. Similar to Waterfall, Hydro Pump is a nuke with very few resistances. Flash Cannon is lower energy cost and is strong enough to handle slightly weakened opponents in many situations.

Empoleon will generally lose to Fighting types and neutral matchups where the opponent has quicker charge moves to pressure it. Fighting types are priority one though, so Lugia, Cresselia, and Gardevoir all make for good options. All of them appreciate Empooleon’s ability to chunk Ghost types and beat most other Steel types. While Empoleon does well against most Steel types, it does struggle with Probopass and Thunder Fang Steelix. Therefore, having Medicham to hold them in check can be worthwhile.

Probopass

Pokemon GO ProbopassProbopassRock Steel
Weaknesses Resistances
Fighting x2 Ground x2 Water Poison x2 Normal x2 Psychic Fairy Ice Bug Dragon
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Probopass
SparkElectric Rock Slide Rock Thunderbolt Electric
Super Effective Versus
Water Fire Flying Ice Bug Water Flying

Probopass is a bit of an interesting Steel type. While many will view it as simply a poor-man’s version of Bastiodon, Probopass actually is able to do some things that Bastiodon and other Steel types can’t do. Perhaps the biggest thing is the ability to defeat Poliwrath despite being at a type disadvantage. This is thanks to its access to Electric type moves. These Electric type moves also enables it to keep up pressure against Empoleon despite a weakness to Waterfall. Rock Slide is relatively quick and allows Probopass to assert shield pressure on opponents much more easily than Bastiodon could.

Similar to Bastiodon, Probopass has next to no hope against Fighting types, although it can hold its own against Poliwrath. As Medicham is the biggest Fighting type that Probopass is weak to, Cresselia, Alolan Marowak, and Haunter should be heavily considered. Steelix is a massive nuisance for Probopass, so Poliwrath, Medicham, and Alolan Marowak should be considered in order to handle the iron snake. As Probopass can reliably launch multiple charge moves to pressure the opponent’s shields, powerful closer-type Pokemon, such as Lugia, Cresselia, and Claydol can be considered to exploit this.

Alternate Minds

Gardevoir

Pokemon GO GardevoirGardevoirPsychic Fairy
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Steel Poison Fighting x2 Dragon x2 Psychic
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Gardevoir
CharmFairy SynchronoisePsychic Shadow Ball Ghost
Super Effective Versus
Fighting Dragon Dark Fighting Poison Ghost Psychic

Gardevoir is a high-risk, high reward option for the Sinister Cup. Thanks to Charm, Gardevoir quickly deletes any Fighting type that it is faced with and is able to chunk down most Ghost and Psychic types. This incredible power with the fast move comes at the cost of energy gain for charge moves, and this leaves Gardevoir completely helpless against Steel types.

Although Psychic was recently buffed with a lower energy cost, Synchronoise is still preferred as it only costs 45 energy, which means Gardevoir might be able to reach it. Shadow Ball is even less likely to be used, but it can devastate any Ghost or Psychic type that doesn’t or can’t shield it while also leaving a dent in a Steel type.

When using Gardevoir, it is vital to have ways around Steel types as Gardevoir has next to no hope against them. Fighting types like Medicham and Poliwrath are the best options to take out Steel types, particularly Bastiodon. Steel types of your own benefit immensely from Gardevoir’s ability to slap Fighting types out of the ring with ease. Steelix and Empoleon are the most notable as they have the most counterplay against opposing Steel types should it be necessary. Aside from Fighting type charge moves, Gardevoir will take pretty significant damage from most charge moves, so it likes having bulky teammates that don’t necessarily require shields to function optimally. Steelix, Dusclops, and Bastiodon all fit the bill nicely.

Bronzong

Pokemon GO BronzongBronzongSteel Psychic
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Fire Ground Psychic x2 Poison x2 Fairy Steel Dragon Grass Ice Rock
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Bronzong
ConfusionPsychic Psyshock Psychic Bulldoze Ground
Super Effective Versus
Fighting Poison] Fighting Poison Steel Rock Fire Electric Poison

Bronzong has always been a viable selection in any Silph Arena cup it has been allowed in, and the Sinister Cup is no different. With a doubled up resistance to Psychic and access to a Ground type charge move, Bronzong is able to combat Fighting types and Steel types quite effectively while also slowly wearing down Psychic types not named Claydol or Lugia. As is typical of Psychic types in the Sinister Cup, Confusion is mandatory to delete Fighting types from existence. Psyshock is a low energy cost STAB move that allows Bronzong to pressure opposing shields effectively. Bulldoze may not be super efficient, but the super effective coverage on Steel types is worth it in every way.

While Bronzong has strong counterplay against Steel types, it’s a little squishier than other Psychic types when it comes to dealing with Fighting types due to its secondary Steel typing. Ghost types, particularly Drifblim and Dusclops are comfortable answers to Fighting types while also being able to pressure opposing Ghost types. Haunter is a more aggressive approach to taking on Fighting types. Steelix and Alolan Marowak are top threats to Bronzong due to its vulnerability to Dark and Fire type moves.

Poliwrath and Empoleon are fantastic options to keep both of these Pokemon in check thanks to their Water type fast moves, and, in the case of Poliwrath, Fighting type charge moves. Mawile and Steelix are notable options for their ability to take on most Ghost types not named Alolan Marowak.

Alolan Raichu

Pokemon GO Raichu (Alola)Raichu (Alola)Electric Psychic
Weaknesses Resistances
Ghost Dark Ground Bug Fighting Psychic Electric Steel
Best Sinister Cup Moveset for Alolan Raichu
Thunder ShockElectric Wild Charge Electric Thunder Punch Electric
Super Effective Versus
Water Flying Water Flying Water Flying

Meet the true master of unpredictability in the Sinister Cup. Alolan Raichu is the true wild card in the meta as it plays like no other Psychic type and doesn’t necessarily follow the traditional type maps. Its newfound access to Thunder Shock allows it to become a charge move machine capable of putting immense shield pressure on virtually any Pokémon in the meta not named Steelix.

While the given moveset is generally viewed as the safest and most consistent, Grass Knot and the newly buffed Psychic certainly have their uses. Grass Knot is still super effective on Poliwrath and is able to get a strong super effective hit on Claydol. Psychic is able to smash most Fighting types and it will generally dent Ghost types heavily. The given moveset allows Alolan Raichu to shield bait effectively and hit very hard with Wild Charge.

Should you decide to use Alolan Raichu, make sure to test its charge moves to see which combination of moves suits your team the best. Likewise, when you see Alolan Raichu in tournaments, be sure to pay close attention to its teammates to try and get a read on what moves it may be using.

Steelix and Mawile are by far the biggest problems for Alolan Raichu. No matter what move combination it uses, Alolan Raichu is incapable of overcoming them. This makes Alolan Marowak, Poliwrath, and Medicham ideal teammates. The Fighting types also fare well against Bastiodon while Alolan Marowak has good matchups against most Psychic types.

When it isn’t using Electric type charge moves, Alolan Raichu will have an issue with Empoleon, Drifblim, and Lugia. Mawile and Bastiodon can make quick work of the Flying types while Empoleon can be dealt with by the aforementioned Fighting types. Without Grass Knot, Alolan Raichu is walled by Claydol and it will lack the ability to do meaningful damage to Steelix. Empoleon is a powerful stop to both of these Pokemon due to their Ground secondary typing. Claydol is also vulnerable to Drifblim, Lugia, and Alolan Marowak while Steelix struggles against Medicham, Poliwrath, and Lucario.

An avid Pokemon player for the majority of his life. He is always excited to share knowledge, learn new things, and do what he can to help others with how they play the game. He is always willing to answer questions about certain aspects of the game, particularly raids and PvP