The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: Kanto Cup, in this case… yet again! (This is our FIFTH time now!) As is typical for the NoT series, I’ll (re-)cover not only the top meta picks, but also some mons where you can save some dust with cheaper second move unlock costs, starting with the cheapest options available (those with a 10,000 dust second move unlock cost) all the way to Legendaries and ‘mons that require building out DEEP into XL Candy territory (usually maxing all the way).
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
Poison Jab | Fell Stinger/X-Scissor & Drill Runᴸ
The Bee gets a promotion to top of the 10ks this time around, thanks to its own Poison Jab buff and the increased importance of Drill Run to stamp out Nidoqueen and opposing Poisons. Unfortunately, for Queen specifically, the standard X-Scissor setup won’t quite do, as Queen can just manage to tank the following Drill Run and finish Bee with an answering Earth Power. There are two ways to work things in your favor, either by A.) running Fell Stinger to boost the damage of Drill Run and KO Queen, or B.) running Shadow Beedrill, which has the Attack potency to win the same way. (Incidentally, all of that is also true of Alolan Sandslash… Fell Stinger or Shadow Bee outrace it, otherwise A-Slash wins with Bulldoze.) So, all those specifics laid out there… for those reasons as well as sneaking in wins versus Alolan Marowak and in the mirror match, I recommend Fell Stinger rather than X-Scissor. That said, I do believe X-Scissor is still preferred for Shadow Bee. Whatever you choose, Beedrill remains a top Grassassin (beating all Grasses besides Confusion Eexeggutor), and continues to defeat most Fairies, Fighters, Shadow Dragons and many prominent Electrics too… as well as its emphasized role in combating Poisons.
Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball
I actually dropped Golbat from past Kanto Cup articles entirely, but it’s back in a BIG way now with Poison Fang being a legit good move as opposed to mere bait to set up Shadow Ball that it was in the past. Heck, with Fang alone Golbat does some good things now, managing to at least tie every Bug and Grass except pesky Shadow Eggy, as well as Fairies and Fighters and Snorlax and Muks (and Grimers!). But yes, it is only with Shadow Ball that it really rises up, able to potentially snipe Hypno and A-Wak and (Dragon Breath) Charizard and Dragonair and such. Shadow Bat is an intriguing alternative, giving up A-Wak and Snorlax and a couple other fringe mons but gaining Nidoqueen, Ninetales, Fire Spin Zard, Dragonite, Haunter and more.
ALOLAN GRAVELER/GOLEMGraveler (Alola) RockElectric Golem (Alola) RockElectric
Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge
In some ways better than last time, and in other ways worse. The good? In addition to their already-relevant resistances to Fire, Flying, Electric, and Normal damage, the Alolan Rocks also resist Poison damage, which is quite a bit more important now. The bad? That doesn’t help versus Nidoqueen, as she resists all of their moves and will eventually get that Earth Power through shields for the blowout. Still, the A-Rocks deal with a huge swath of the meta, including Chansey, Ices, Fires, Flyers, Electrics, Dragons, Charmers, and even most Waters. Graveler and Golem are mostly interchangeable, though A-Grav usually beats A-Golem head to head, and has an easier time versus Charm and others thanks to higher bulk (uniquely beating Clefable, for instance). Golem’s one claim to fame IS a big one: it has a much better chance of overpowering Venusaur.
Fire Spin/Dragon Breathᴸ/Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ/Overheat
So I’m going to try to make a tricky comparison simple, because between all the various fast moves and then normal AND Shadow permutations, Charizard could take up an article all by itself. Instead, I’ll just say that my strongest recommendations (all paired with Dragon Claw and Blast Burn, of course) are Fire Spin for regular Charizard and (most ideally) Wing Attack for Shadow Charizard, both representing the greatest potential. Keeping it really simple, Fire Spin is Zard’s most reliable, consistent way to beat important Bugs, Steels, Ices (A-Slash most of all), and Grasses, plus BIG names like Hypno, Golbat, A-Muk, and A-Raticate. Where it struggles a bit is versus Dragons and opposing Fires (those being the big niches for the otherwise less impressive Dragon Breath), but otherwise Fire Spin reigns supreme. Wing Attack seems best for Shadow Zard because it is somewhat a combination of Fire Spin and Dragon Breath, beating opposing Fires and Dragons while still handling most of what Fire Spin can (the exceptions being A-Slash, AhChu, and Magneton) and adding on Poliwrath and Alolan Grimer. Do note that ALL movesets typically lose to Nidoqueen and Chansey, though Fire Spin does the best of the three fast moves, and Shadow Zard with any of the three usually DOES outrace Chansey (but not Queen). Check the sims out yourself if you want more info, but I gotta keep moving ahead…. 🏃
Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb
Venusaur has maintained high relevance in PvP even as new generations and new Grass types come along, and while part of that is certainly due to an above average fast move combined with the best overall Community Day move (2.22 Damage Per Energy) in Frenzy Plant, it’s just as much due to Sludge Bomb, which turns Venusaur into a true dual threat: it does all the things you want your Grass to do (beating all Waters without Confusion, Grounds, Rocks, and Electrics) while also leveraging Sludge Bomb to beat the Fairies and all other (non-Confusion) Grasses. As bonuses, Venu also tends to beat Snorlax and (nearly always) Mew, typically taking Mew out before it can bring even scary stuff like Overheat into the equation. And oh yeah… it’s the only Grass that has a real shot at fending off Nidoqueen. Venusaur is a solid and very versatile performer, a tier above every other Grass here, and well worth an Elite TM for Frenzy Plant if you don’t have one already.Blastoise Water
A brief note on the third and final starter evolution, BLASTOISE. Yes, it’s still good versus Fires and many Poisons and Ices, but it whiffs on stuff like Articuno, Lapras/Dewgong, A-Muk, and most disappointingly, even Nidoqueen, falling if Queen successfully lands Earth Power. Blastie is viable-ish, but I no longer really recommend it.
Volt Switch | Wild Charge & Brick Break
Brick Break has never been a great move but comes with such frequency that it basically turns Raichu into a pseudo-Fighting type and allows Original Recipe Raichu to beat up Steels and Rocks, both Ninetales, and even Snorlax while still doing the normal Electric things too, to include beating ALL Waters (no Mud Boys here!) and Flyers, plus Beedrill, both Muks, and usually even Mew. Sadly it cannot beat Chansey or Lickitung, and has no answer for Nidoqueen, but Raichu does so many other things well that it’s still well worth your consideration.
ALOLAN RAICHURaichu (Alola) ElectricPsychic
Volt Switch | Wild Charge & Grass Knot/Psychic/Thunder Punch
Here I think it is Wild Charge you want in slot #1, and then while Thunder Punch remains an option for the second move, you are probably better off with Psychic to answer back against the rising Poisons, or Grass Knot for extra utility, especially against some key Rocks that you don’t get otherwise. (Unfortunately neither Knot nor Psychic ordinarily flip Nidoqueen, though.) But however you slice it, while AhChu is slightly worse overall than Kanto Raichu, losing to things KayChu can beat (Beedrill, Shadow Nite, Snorlax, and A-Slash), it DOES beat Hypno (thanks to resisting Confusion damage) and the Alolan Rock win I linked to above. Those are both BIG names in this meta. Sometimes it’s about quality over pure quantity.
Gustᴸ/Wing Attackᴸ | Feather Dance & Brave Bird
In the past, Pidgeot played a pretty niche role in slaying Fighters, Grasses, and Bugs, plus the Ghosts, Snorlax, and sometimes Hypno. But that was all pre-Feather Dance. So how about now? Now it has the potential to beat PJ A-Muk, Blastoise, Lapras, the Dragons, CharmTales, and either beat down Chansey and Shadow Machamp (with Gust) or outrace Nidoqueen, Golbat, and Ninetales (with Wing Attack). I say “potential” because Pidgeot has become somewhat bait-heavy with Dance in the mix now, but it’s a BIG debuff even it doesn’t get shields… Pidgeot can still be mighty dangerous with JUST Dance, even.
ALOLAN RATICATERaticate (Alola) DarkNormal
Quick Attack | Crunch & Returnᴸ
A-Rat was in the first writeup on Kanto Cup but subsequently dropped as the meta kind of moved past it. But now, perhaps it has a second chance at doing something with itself thanks to being able to enter as a purified form with STAB Return, bringing in new wins versus both Muks, Blastoise, and Golbat in addition to the solid anti-Psychic/Ghost role it already carried. A-Rat is an underrated chonker too that can just outlast things like Magneton, Venusaur, Shadow Victreebel, Zapdos, and even Lickitung and Chansey. There’s potential there in the new Shadow A-Rat as well, which does now fall to Venusaur, Shadow Vic, Alolan Marowak, and Alolan Raichu, but gains the ability to outrace Fire Spin Charizard, Nidoqueen, Dewgong, and Dragonair, all things that non-Shadow Rat cannot manage to pull off. I see the Fat Rat making a comeback this time, folks!
Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough
If you still want to run a Charmer in this increasingly hostile-to-Fairies environment, Wiggly is probably it thanks to that Ghost resistance, but MAN, I think all the Poisons are likely to just hate Charmers out of the meta. “Good riddance”, I can hear you saying from here, but hey… some of us LIKED running Wiggly in the past. I’ll be pouring one out for it as I move on myself.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
Poison Jab | Poison Fang & Earth Power
Nidoqueen was so-so at best in the first couple iterations of Kanto Cup (and remember, that’s even better than she ACTUALLY used to be, since Poison Jab has since been buffed), but as demonstrated last time through back in November, it is impossible to downplay how good she is now! The arrival of The Queen and her fellow Poison Fang minions is probably the death knell for Charmers in Kanto Cup, while potentially pulling Ices and Grounds back up from the doldrums. Other than Ice and Ground, the only ways to reliably deal with Nidoqueen are Water and Confusion (read as: Hypno), and Grass kinda can too, though only Venusaur seems able to stand toe to toe with Queen in an even fight. There are other changes that will certainly send out ripples, but nothing will have as drastic an effect on the Kanto Cup meta of late as the rise of Poisons, with Nidoqueen as their champion.
Shadow Queen, BTW, is a slight downgrade, but it’s probably actually more appropriate to call her a viable sidegrade. While Shadow Queen usually loses to likely staples like A-Wak, Mew, Ninetales, and fellow Poisons Beedrill, Golbat, Haunter, and Shadow Vic, she’s uniquely capable of beating Venusaur and Dragonair. She’ll fit some teams better.
Confusion | Shadow Ball/Focus Blast & Fire/Ice/Thunder Punch
Hypno has been THE central figure in the meta in past Kanto Cups; despite having merely a good but not sky high win rate, Hypno just beats so many things so efficiently and is basically hard countered by nothing but the few Ghosts, Darks, and some other meaningful Psychic types in the Cup. Confusion does much of the damage (and tears through most non-Dark Poisons on its own, including Nidoqueen), while Shadow Ball or Focus Blast (take THAT, Chansey!) are fantastic closing moves. But the real wrinkle to Hypno is predicting which Elemental Punch it’s running. Ice Punch is arguably the best overall this time around for the extra pressure it puts on Nidoqueen (as well as things like Pidgeot, Golbat, and many other Flyers), Fire Punch can beat the Steels (Magneton, A-Slash) that are a pain for Hypno otherwise, while Thunder Punch of course also threatens Flyers like Ice does (including ones like Charizard and Articuno) and scares Waters. Shadow Hypno seems best with Fire Punch, but again, all are viable depending on team need. Good luck tricking out YOUR Hypno!
ALOLAN SANDSLASH (NEW MOVE)Sandslash (Alola) IceSteel
Shadow Clawᴸ/Powder Snow | Ice Punch & Blizzard/Bulldoze
It’s only gotten better for A-Slash with the rise of Poisons, as it beats them ALL aside from Beedrill. There’s more ways to play around with A-Slash now too, with Shadow Claw in its arsenal now. Several folks had Kanto Cup specifically in mind as they evolved their Community Day Alolan Sandslashes, and now we can see why. Not only does Claw obviously tear through Psychics and Ghosts with lethal efficiency, but it also flips the tables on things like Dewgong (now a legit win) as well. And yes, note that I continue to recommend Blizzard over Bulldoze, though both have their uses, the former for overwhelming chonkers like Alolan Muk (with Snarl) and Alolan Raticate, the latter able to force at least ties with Beedrill and in the mirror match. Or just run with OG fast move Powder Snow to beat Ghost-resistant Lickitung, but give up Dewgong and Alolan Raichu in the process. And that’s all not to even mention the all-new potential of Shadow A-Slash. (Generally just a sidegrade, but looks a lot scarier, no?)
(KANTO) SANDSLASH (NEW)Sandslash Ground
Mud Shot | Rock Tomb/Night Slashᴸ & Earthquake
While less heralded, the original Sandslash recently got a new anti-Psychic/Ghost toy as well in Night Slash. But even in this meta, it may want to just stick with its original coverage move in Rock Tomb instead, the latter giving it wins over Flyers like Charizard, Golbat, and Zapdos and a threatening weapon to keep pesky Ice types on their toes. (Night Slash only really manages to flip Kanto Ninetales to a win thanks mainly to its speedy, spammy nature.) Night Slash does pull away in 2v2 shielding, which is not really surprising considering its low cost and bait potential, but otherwise Rock Tomb is arguably still the best way to go. Might be a good time to use the belief many will have that “aw, it’s Sandslash… MUST be one of those new Night Slash ones” to your advantage and smash them with a literal rock. That all said… if you run Shadow Sandslash, I think you actually DO want Night Slash, which allows it to beat Hypno (something it is frustratingly incapable of in non-Shadow form), can flip Wigglytuff and Clefable to wins (getting a shield and then JUST reaching a KO Earthquake before death), outraces Charizard and — particularly impressively — Blastoise, and maintains critical wins non-Shadow gets like Haunter and Nidoqueen. Rock Tomb just isn’t as good a fit for ShadowSlash, picking up Snorlax and holding on to wins versus Beedrill and A-Slash but failing to get Charizard or Golbat any longer (it does maintain Zapdos but ShadowSlash with Night Slash can now win that too). It’s not a world beater, but viable? OG Sandslash absolutely IS that now.
Counter | Cross Chop & Rock Slide/Paybackᴸ
Previously I talked up Karate Chop a bit (check out that old Nifty Or Thrifty here to see that old but mostly still relevant discussion), but I’ll keep things simple here. Counter and Cross Chop are still your best overall bets, with either Rock Slide to handle Flyers (Articuno, DB Zard, Dragonite) and A-Muk, or Payback to at least threaten (though not typically actually defeat) Hypno and Mew. I strongly lean Rock Slide personally, including on Shadow Champ, who fails to take out Dragonite but CAN now beat Ninetales and Venusaur.
Counter | Close Combat & Night Slash/Ice Punch
Night Slash is still the preferred coverage move, with which Ape can beat Alolan Raichu, Lapras, and Shadow Champ. The one thing Ice Punch does is beat Venusaur, so there’s that plus the at least theoretical answer it provides to Flyers and Dragons. But it’s probably all academic, as Primeape is generally just a slightly worse alternative to The Champ.
Fire Spin/Feint Attack | Weather Ball (Fire) & Overheat
Also going to try to greatly simplify this one and recommend re-reading previous Kanto Cup’s Nifty Or Thrifty analysis for a deeper dive discussion on what moves to run, if interested. But for now, my recommendation is Overheat for the closing move. Solar Beam and even Psyshock have theoretical great coverage, but the former is too slow to usually matter unless shields are already gone, and the latter just doesn’t have the closing power Ninetales needs; Overheat usually beats everything they do, plus Mew and A-Muk. Perhaps more interesting is my hairbrained support for Feint Attack, (rather than the customary Fire Spin) which can beat Hypno, A-Wak, and Haunter and win the mirror match, giving up only Beedrill, Lapras, Poison Jab A-Muk, A-Raichu (due to the slightly lesser energy generation of FA as compared to FS), and A-Raticate to do it. Feint Attack is not a great fast move, with exactly average damage, energy gains, and no STAB on Ninetales, but it’s a good move for this specific meta, it would seem!
ALOLAN NINETALESNinetales (Alola) IceFairy
Powder Snow/Charm | Weather Ball (Ice) & Dazzling Gleam/Psyshock
Two varieties you can run here. CharmTales suffers as other Charm users do, but you can almost get away with it thanks to its built-in resistance to Ice, allowing it to beat Lapras, Dewgong, and Powder Snow A-Tails that usually all fell Wigglytuff, and it at least forces Nidoqueen to burn a shield to block Weather Ball, something the other Charmers cannot replicate. Still, very risky. Safer and more dynamic is PowderTales, which beats Nidoqueen straight up, as well as Grasses (Venusaur, Shadow Victreebel), Golbat, Charizard, and Haunter, giving up only Alolan Raichu, Shadow Machamp, Lickitung, and Lapras in the process. Both versions are very much viable and sure to be fixtures throughout Kanto Cup despite the risk of Poisons.
Incinerate | Drill Run & Flame Charge
Perhaps a little bit niche, but it’s a REALLY good niche: Dasher can burn through Ice, Steel, Fairies, and most all Grasses, but that should all be pretty obvious for a Fire type. What really sets Rapidash apart is Drill Run, as it presents a clear and present danger to Nidoqueen and the vast majority of Poisons. One other very key win that it’s easy to miss: Chansey, which comes by sticking to dedicated Flame Charge buffing. Like I said, Rapidash occupies a very nice niche.
Volt Switch | Foul Play & Thunderbolt -OR- Discharge & Hyper Beam
A fan fave from past Kanto Cup (and Love Cup) play, ‘Trode takes a little bit of a hit with the rise of the Poisons, struggling not just against Nidoqueen, but also the Muks, Beedrill, Poison/Grasses, Haunter and more. But it’s still more than viable, doing standard Electric things while also dishing it out to Snorlax, Lickitung, and depending on IVs and moves, Chansey as well (most consistent with Foul Play/Thunderbolt). If you’re not as concerned with Chansey, however, Hyper Beam can punch out Hypno instead and is more consistent versus Snorlax and Lickitung. Decisions, decisions…
HISUIAN ELECTRODE (NEW)Electrode (Hisuian) ElectricGrass
Thunder Shock | Wild Charge & Energy Ball
Even I forgot about this one initially, but to forget it is a big mistake. H-Trode can take out all of its fellow Electrics, plus all Waters except Ice-damage-heavy Dewgong and all Flyers but Scyther (and who uses Scyther, honestly?). Most of that is pretty obvious on the surface though, so how about the fact that it can also take out Mew, Haunter & Gengar, Lickitung, and even scary stuff like Arcanine (with Snarl) and noted Ground type Rhydon? The combination of Electric and Grass in one neat package has some serious advantages going for it.
Thunder Shock | Magnet Bomb & Discharge/Zap Cannon
A different take than Electrode, trading the Fires, Raichus, Snorlax, and Mew that Trode beats to instead take out Hypno, Chansey, and Charmers… well, depending on moves. Magnet Bomb/Discharge just outspams and outraces stuff like Golbat and Poliwrath, while big bomb Zap Cannon reaches out and beats Poison Jab A-Muk, Lickitung, Lapras, and the mirror. As the Fairies (likely) fall, so too will Magneton, but it remains a viable option overall.
Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Water Pulse/Aqua Jetᴸ/Blizzard
Probably not a surprise that Dewgong can wreck face here. Gong does have coverage moves (Water Pulse or Aqua Jet for the TRIPLE Legacy moveset), but Blizzard beats everything they can aside from A-Slash, and adds on unique wins against Snorlax and PJ A-Muk, plus the mirror match (and is the only way to realistically beat double Legacy Lapras too). And yes, it very consistently beats Nidoqueen AND Chansey with that increasingly oppressive Icy Wind. Dewgong was great before but is probably soaring even higher now.
Poison Jab | Acid Spray & Hydro Pump
Well hello there, General Kenobi. Tentacruel is one of the less heralded beneficiaries of the Poison Jab (AND Acid Spray) buffs, and the numbers above show why Tentacruel is still criminally underrated… NOBODY is talking about Tentachthulhu, but should be! I know, I hear you saying it now… “but JRE, it’s so bait-dependent!” Well, yes and no… it does then lose to Snorlax, Lickitung, and a few things that resist Poison damage but not Hydro Pump (Muks, Grimers, Golbat, A-Wak), but its performance doesn’t fall completely off a cliff or anything. This is a legit option, folks… don’t discount it.
Poison Jabᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Drill Runᴸ
While awkwardly a Water type that ordinarily cannot beat Nidoqueen (big sads) and usually fails to take out Chansey either, Seaking is nonetheless overall better than last time thanks to benefitting from the Poison Jab buff. I’d still consider running it, though it’s not something to just toss on any old team.
ALOLAN MUKMuk (Alola) PoisonDark
Poison Jab | Dark Pulse & Acid Spray
Snarl | Dark Pulse & Sludge Wave
This one comes down to your comfort level. “Old Reliable” (Snarl-driven A-Muk) is still fine and fits some players like a fine glove. But the new hotness these days is Poison Jab/Acid Spray, which has a much higher ceiling but is rather bait-reliant, though not entirely… it does drop Golbat, Articuno, Dragonair, and Poliwrath, but note that it also gains Charizard and Shadow Dragonite by going straight Spray, so even that fall is a soft landing. (And it importantly remains a top Hypno counter regardless of which of those movesets you settle on.) I have a long history of poo-pooing Acid Spray, but on A-Muk it just seems to work.
Poison Jab | Dark Pulse & Thunder Punch
Oh yes… despite losing to Hypno, Kanto Muk is quite good too now, trading in A-Muk’s wins versus Hypno, A-Wak, Golbat, Articuno and a couple of fringe options for beating Charizard, Dewgong, Dragonite, Shadow Machamp, and Poison Jabbing A-Muk instead. With its own Poison Jab being more potent than last time, combined with interesting coverage charge moves (seriously, I ask again… Thunder Punch? how do those stubby little arm things punch anything?!), Kanto Muk is back in a big way now.
GENGAR/HAUNTERGengar GhostPoison Haunter GhostPoison
Shadow Claw | Shadow Punchᴸ & Shadow Ball
Basically the same Pokémon, with just these key differences: Gengar‘s slight advantage in bulk means it can survive Poliwrath, Blastoise, DB Charizard, and Shadow Victreebel, while the higher Attack of Haunter allows it to sneak in wins over Dragonite, Alolan Graveler, and Alolan Grimer. Unlike the last couple Kanto Cups, I don’t see a big reason to run Sludge Bomb anymore… Wigglytuff will likely be a rarer encounter, and Sludge Bomb-resistant Poison types will be more frequent encounters, so it’s back to good old Shadow Ball now, methinks.
ALOLAN MAROWAK (NEW SHADOW)Marowak (Alola) FireGhost
Fire Spin/Hex | Bone Club & Shadow Ball/Shadow Boneᴸ
Again, several ways to go here. The “standard” Fire Spin/Bone Club/Shadow Bone is best suited to outracing Beedrill, but otherwise other movesets match what it’s capable of. Which other movesets? Replacing Shadow Bone with Shadow Ball brings in wins over Dewgong, DB Charizard, Wigglytuff, Hypno, and the mirror, but gives up Beedrill, Shadow Machamp, Ninetales, and Alolan Raichu to get there. Then there’s Hex which is somewhat the best of both worlds, bringing in wins over Hypno, A-Wak, and Wigglytuff (like FS/Ball) plus Shadow Champ, Ninetales, and AhChu (like FS/Bone), whiffing only versus tanky Normals Chansey and Wigglytuff that the other move combos can beat. Oh, and Hex is the way for A-Wak to beat Haunter too. I know having NO Fire damage on A-Wak seems crazy, but hey… it still beats ALL Steels, Grasses, and Bugs except Beedrill without Fire, and all Ices besides Lapras (which Fire Spin usually can’t beat either anyway). What moveset best fits YOUR team, trainer?
And new this season, we have the option of Shadow Alolan Marowak. As compared to non-Shadow, it struggles more against Dewgong & Poliwrath, but look at the gains: Hypno, Nidoqueen, Golbat, DB Charizard, & A-Raticate!
Mud Slap | Surf & Megahornᴸ/Stone Edge
So last couple times through Kanto Cup, I actually talked up Rhyhorn, but with the rise of Nidoqueen, Rhydon moves ahead… because with decent Attack it can hit a Mud Slap breakpoint against Nidoqueen and beat her down (and wins rather easily in 0-shield almost regardless of IVs) thanks to cumulative Slaps plus Surf (for 0-shield, anyway). Donnie also takes down Chansey (resisting Normal damage is a huge help), dominates other Poisons, Electrics, and Rocks, and does a nice job extinguishing Fires as well. It’s not an awe-inspiring performer, but what it does perform, it performs well. Oh, as for the second charge move, Stone Edge is overall better (threatening Flyers and Ices), but Megahorn can be a nasty surprise if sprung at the right time on Grasses or Hypno. Spicy, I’ll admit, but this is the kind of spicy pick I can get behind!
Confusion | Poison Fang & Bug Buzz
Speaking of spicy, allow me to present exhibit V… or even better, Exhibit (high) IV). Impressed yet? It gets even better. While Nidoqueen shows as a loss as Venomoth just barely gets off a second but ineffective Poison Fang, the way to play that is to just throw one Poison Fang as early as possible and then coast to victory with Confusion damage, each one dealing FOUR extra damage after the Fang debuff! Venomoth is a sneaky good choice in this Poison-drenched meta.
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
Ice Shardᴸ/Water Gun | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ/Skull Bash/Blizzard/Hydro Pump
Yes, you really do have all those viable options. Water Gun variants beat Ninetales and Dewgong (and get much easier wins over A-Wak and Charmers), and those are all a very big deal. But Ice Shard is overall better in general, leading to much better odds of beating Hypno, Dragonite, and FS Charizard, a much cleaner win over Nidoqueen, and Lapras’ only real shot of beating away Venusaur and other Grasses. Surf is a given, but the second move is basically whatever you want it to be. I generally recommend Ice Beam (linked above) for the pressure it brings to Grasses, but Blizzard is a perfectly suitable replacement if you can’t get Legacy Beam, Skull Bash is great for general coverage (and makes Dewgong easiest and beats all other Lapras movesets in the mirror), and even Hydro Pump has a niche as the hardest counter to Fires and Ices (assuming Ice Shard is the fast move) and uniquely adds on CharmTales. The only thing those three big closers miss out on is Beedrill (and only sometimes). Pick your pleasure and (re-)deploy the plesiosaur!
Mud Shot/Rock Throwᴸ | Hydro Pump, Rock Slideᴸ, and/or Rock Blast
Lord Helix has gotten better with each passing iteration of the Kanto Cup. Last time it stood out as a great way to counter both Ninetales (who had recently gotten Weather Ball), and now it has that handy Normal damage resistance and thus can beat Chansey too. The best overall movesets revolve around Legacy Rock Slide, which is necessary to defeat Beedrill and Zapdos and makes wins over Dragonite Ninetales, and A-Grav more achievable. SlideStar also takes out the other Flyers, Fires, Bugs, and most Ices with ease, plus both Muks. Don’t have Legacy Rock Slide? No problem… Rock Blast is a viable alternative… you just miss out on Bee and Zappy (and sometimes Dewgong or Dragonite) but now have a much easier time versus A-Slash… and enough speed to potentially bait your way to victory over Nidoqueen!
SHADOW PINSIRPinsir (Shadow) Bug
Fury Cutter | X-Scissor & Close Combat
Yes, this is an unabashed spice pick. But it’s an intriguing one, taking advantage of that underrated Bug super effectiveness versus Psychic to rip down Hypno, Mew, and AhChu, while of course also slicing and dicing Grasses and Darks. But the real kicker is Close Combat, which brings A-Grav, A-Slash, Lapras, and the big name Normals (take THAT, Chansey!) into the mix as well. Nice spice. 🌶️
Lick | Body Slam & Superpower
Yes, it puts in work, with the only things that really blow it out being Fighters or high damage fast moves (Razor Leaf or Charm)… and unfortunately a number of the buffed Poisons. But Lax puts up a good fight against most everything else and remains a top notch “safe swap”. But it’s more than JUST a safe swap, with safe wins against Hypno, Haunter, Dewgong, Beedrill, Mew (usually), all Electrics but Kanto Raichu, and ALL the Alolans except A-Tails (and it loses to K-Tails too). Shadow Lax may even be a bit better… while its slashed bulk means it can no longer overcome A-Grav, A-Muk, A-Chu, or Blastoise, the gains include Charizard (with either fast move), Dragonair, Golbat, Lapras, Venusaur, and big bad Lickitung. Overall, while it’s not perfect (what is?!), that is quite a good win list. Snorlax obviously isn’t cheap to prep, but it’s well worth the investment!
Counter | Ice Punch & Close Combat
Ideally you can get it much cheaper with the Baby Discount™ by second moving and evolving a Tyrogue, but even if you have to fork over 75,000 dust for the second move, Jackie Chan is worth it. Not only does ‘Chan beat up Normals (Chansey too!), Rocks, Ices, Steels, and Darks as a good Fighter should, but Ice Punch works great to snipe things like Venusaur, Charizard, and Dragons and give even Nidoqueen a run for her money. ‘Chan is quietly a fantastic option in this meta, arguably a better fit on many teams than even Machamp.
Dragon Breath | Aqua Tail & Dragon Pulse/Return
A very solid generalist that’s only gotten better with wins over most all Poisons, especially Nidoqueen who hates Aqua Tail. Remember that Dragonair resists Fire, Water, Electric, and Grass; ‘Nair goes on to beat Hypno and Mew, Snorlax, Beedrill, Haunter, both Muks, all Electrics and Rocks and Grounds but A-Grav and Kabutops, and ALL Fires and Grasses, just to name a few. Return is a viable second move — and a purified ‘Nair is cheaper to build — but Dragon Pulse is very important in ensuring those wins against Hypno and Snorlax and a couple others, and the second move I heartily recommend. Shadow Nair works too, giving up Queen, Bat, Licki, Snorlax, and A-Rat but gaining Dragonite and Shadow Machamp instead if that fits your team better.
Dragon Breath | Dragon Claw & Hurricane/Draco Meteorᴸ
Well, it’s not the wide win spread you want, but you WILL see Dragonites at some point, I am sure. Hurricane and Draco Meteor perform about the same overall, so at least you can get by without the Legacy move. Grasses, Bugs, Poisons, Snorlax, other Dragons… those are the things that have the most to fear from ‘Nite. Much of the rest of the meta takes a pounding but emerges victorious in the end. Shadow Nite is a viable option that loses Bat, Lax, ‘Nair, and Zapdos to instead beat Chansey, A-Wak, Jab A-Muk, and Haunter.
100,000 Dust/100 Candy
This has already run quite long, so just real quick on a couple that are of note:Mew Psychic
- MEW is of course very interesting and unpredictable. Writing about its many various Mewvesets would fill up a whole article unto itself (like the one I wrote up for the first Kanto Cup!), but in short: expect to see it with Shadow Claw almost always, which spells trouble for Hypno, and with Surf or Psyshock most of the time as well. Beyond that, good luck guessing what to shield!
- Shadow ZAPDOS is viable but requires Legacy Thunder Shock and really isn’t anything super special… there are other Electrics that come cheaper and do just as well or better.
- ARTICUNO, however, is on the rise, able to wear down Chansey AND dominate Nidoqueen (completely negating her usually scary Earth Power) for wins, as well as performing well against the majority of the meta around them. If you have a good GL one, this is a really good spot for Artie.
And finally, a couple more that require maxing out the XL but are worth the trouble if you can pull it off… lucky trades are a great idea here! Leading off with the most potent, both ranked within the Top 3 in the meta…. 😬
Lick | Power Whip & Body Slamᴸ
Basically a different and better Snorlax, with Licki overcoming Blastoise, Clefable, Shadow Dragonite, A-Grav, A-Grimer, Hypno, Poliwrath, AhChu, Shadow Vic, and both Ninetales and both Muks much more easily than Snorlax… but having a tougher time versus Zapdos, Venusaur, A-Slash, A-Rat, Dragonair, and Charizard that Lax can beat… and Licki also loses the head to head between the two. Lickitung isn’t perfect, but it’s ranked #1 for good reason… actually, for a lot of reasons. Be prepared to encounter quite a few.
Zen Headbutt | Psychic & Hyper Beam
DO NOT RUN CHANSEY. I’ve been saying it forever.
That said, if you were to ever use the evil thing for something other than mere timeout, this would be the meta to do it. If that’s not enough, just look at the core meta numbers. Yeah, bad moves and all (so bad that freaking Zen Headbutt is the preferred fast move now), Chansey just outlasts a ton of stuff. Unless it’s a dedicated Fighter (and even they have to shield), resists Psychic and Normal damage (Magneton, A-Grav, A-Slash, etc.), mercilessly debuffs and farms (Dewgong, Articuno, Seaking), or just puts out a ridiculous amount of unresisted damage (Shadow Victreebel, Dragonair), it’s going to have a tough time knocking out Chansey. Not even mighty Hypno or Nidoqueen (despite debuffing like crazy) can outlast the big round ball of pink evil. Chansey is usually utilized on timeout teams (expect to see Lickitung paired with it a lot… ugh), but it can legit beat down a large swath of the meta and isn’t JUST a timeout specialist here. I am very sorry to report you’re STILL likely to encounter them throughout Kanto Cup. Have a plan to contend with it.Nidorina Poison
- NIDORINA is SO good that there are two viable versions: Return to beat Chansey, Lickitung, AhChu, and Golbat, or Dig to instead get A-Grav, Haunter, and Magneton.
- Both Kanto and Alolan GRIMER are perfectly viable, and the former especially stands out as one that can hurt fellow Poisons (and others) with Mud Bomb. But honestly, I think you can just stick with the much less expensive Muks and save a lot of dust. The Grimers are fun spice, though!
- And one I always get lots of questions about: ALOLAN SANDSHREW. Yes, it’s good, and has an easy time versus Hypno and Mew (and others!) thanks to Night Slash. But on the downside, it usually loses to Nidoqueen and Beedrill. Bummer.
And that’s it… we made it through! Hopefully this is helpful in getting you prepped for Kanto Cup… again! There are several strong — even dominant — performers, but multiple ways to work around them and craft some unique and competitive teams. Good luck!
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!
Thank you for reading! I hope this helps you master Kanto Cup 4.0, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!