How Ember Ninetales performs in PvP

Trainers, this Sunday (February 12th) from 12:00am to 11:59pm local time is GO Battle Day. This particular GO Battle Day will feature Vulpix, which, when evolved into Ninetales, will be able to learn the legacy move Ember Fire, which we will discuss in this article.


Before we dive into the analysis, let’s first go through the other bonuses for participating in this event.


  • 4× Stardust from win rewards.
  • The maximum number of sets you can play per day will be increased from five to 20—for a total of 100 battles—from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. local time.
  • Vulpix will be guaranteed to appear as a reward encounter.
  • All win rewards from the Premium track will be reward encounters.
  • You’ll have an increased chance of encountering Shiny Vulpix.

Fire Spin vs Ember

You may be wondering what the benefit of having Ember over Fire Spin may be, to put it shortly, Fire Spin offers slightly greater energy generation, while Ember sports slightly stronger damage output. Either can be a viable option for Ninetales, however, there are certain matchups where Ember is superior to Fire Spin.

Fire Spin

From what we can see on the left graph, against the 40 best-performing Pokémon in the Great League meta, Fire Spin on Shadow Ninetales has 15 wins and 25 losses. This graph shows results from the 1 shield scenario against all Pokémon, meaning both Ninetales and the opposing Pokémon will have 1 shield each.

We recommend using the Shadow variant for Ninetales with either moveset since the damage output is superior to its standard counterpart and has more success against most matchups with shields.

As we can see, taking away the 20% attack boost from Shadow Ninetales significantly decreases its overall matchup performance. It goes from winning against 15 out of 40 of the top meta Great League Pokémon, to now only winning against 12 and losing against 28 Pokémon.

At first glance, Ninetales does not look like it has the best matchups versus the current meta, however, you must understand that Ninetales is not a generalist, it is an answer for certain Pokémon, which means that alignment is critical.


Ember on Ninetales was popularised by hsineerg, wife of Kieng for her performance with it at the 2022 Pokémon GO Vancouver Regional Championships where she ended up placing 1st. After this performance, many battlers were inspired to try out Ember on Shadow Kanto Ninetales themself and it started to see a rise in popularity. It’s incredible how thousands of battlers saw the potential of this particular Pokémon after this monumental event, not only in the GO Battle League but in future Regional Championships after her performance, a true role model in our community.

Based on what we see in these 2 graphs, Ember on Shadow Ninetales does not necessarily have any more wins out of the top 40 Great League meta Pokémon compared to running Fire Spin. It shows that it has 2 certain matchups now where Ninetales draws instead of losing which is a big difference. 

These 2 matchups are in fact Obstagoon and Vigoroth. We can tell this due to the fact that the battle rating on these 2 Pokémon is exactly 500. If you’re not familiar with how ‘battle rating‘ works within, think of it as this; The lower the number, the worse matchup Ninetales has against that specific Pokémon, whereas the higher the number, the better matchup Ninetales has against that Pokémon. 

Let’s break this down even further, Swampert for example has a battle rating of 136 against Shadow Ninetales. For obvious reasons, without even looking into it too much, we can see why. Swampert would be considered the hardest counter against Kanto Ninetales since every single move Swapert has is Super Effective. Considering how glassy Ninetales is, this means that Swampert is a massive issue. 

On the contrary, Registeel has a battle rating of 880, since Shadow Ninetales can comfortably tank any charge move from Registeel and the raw DPS (Damage Per Second) of Ninetales can easily melt through Registeel’s defenses.

With this information, we are able to see why a battle rating of 500 means that it is a draw. However, this can change with proper fast-move timing, sneak in’s, or even lag factors.

As mentioned above, Ninetales is not a generalist, on paper, it might not look too enticing considering the number of losses it has against the top 40 Great League Pokémon. Ninetales should be viewed as a dedicated counter to certain matchups, which is where it can excel. 

That being the case, it is clear to see why Shadow Kanto Ninetales is becoming a more popular and viable option in Regional Championship Tournaments. With Pokémon such as Trevenant, Froslass, Venusaur, Registeel, Obstagoon, and even Galarian Stufisk being prevalent in competitive formats such as this, Ninetales can be the perfect dedicated answer to these ‘mons.


Definitively speaking, both Fire Spin and Ember can be viable options depending on your playstyle. If you can’t decide on what moveset you would like to run if you choose to use Ninetales, it would be a safe option to participate in this GO Battle Day and evolve as many Vulpix as you can so that you at least have the option in the future. 

Ninetales even has play in the Ultra League, however, it can be outclassed by other Fire type users such as Charizard, Typhlosion, and Talonflame which is why we went through its performance in the Great League.

A special thanks to for providing us with the detailed information that we have used in this article. 

Best of luck on the battlefield, Trainer!

Adam ‘Avrip’

Author & tags

Writer/Editor for the Pokémon GO Hub. PvP enthusiast. 2023 Perth Regional Champion. 9th at Yokohama World Championship. Collector and enthusiast of rare Pokémon retro memorabilia. GBL Legend Multiple Seasons. Sold my soul to Niantic on 07/07/2016.

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