Pokémon GO in January: PvP Priorities

G’day PoGO lovers! I hope you’re all full of holiday cheer and having a good time with loved ones, wherever you are! January content has just dropped in Pokémon GO and we’ve got a number of new events, community days, and spotlight hours to analyse! Let’s take a quick look at what we know from a PvP perspective, and I’ll dive into some of the upcoming events in more detail as the details are revealed.

*New* – PvP Priority Dates

Don’t like big long analysis? Just want to know your key dates to lock in? The below events would be my top priority for PvP players looking to boost their roster across the various leagues.

  • Jan 1 to 10 – Buzzwole raids
  • Jan 1 to 3 – New Years event – Wigglytuff
  • Jan 6 – Rowlet Community Day
  • Jan 23 – Barboach Spotlight Hour
  • Jan 24 to 31 – Landorus raids
  • Jan 27 to 28 – Shadow Ho-Oh raids
  • Jan 30 – Foongus Stardust Spotlight Hour

Community Days Research icon

Rowlet Community Day
January 6, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The first community day of 2024 kicks off with Rowlet as the featured pokémon. Rowlet’s final evolution Decidueye will learn the exclusive evolution Grass move Frenzy Plant, and also will receive the Ghost move Spirit Shackle into its repertoire during the event.

Do you want to participate in this community day? My answer would be a strong, but not overwhelming yes. Triple stardust is always a huge positive, and the new moveset on Decidueye is a distinct upgrade on its current moveset. You don’t see many Decidueye running around the open great league, and its really been restricted in its flexibility due to its current moveset and its limited bulk. The best way to think about this owl is as a Grassy downgrade to Trevenant – very similar stat product, but without access to the wonderful combo of Shadow Claw and Shadow Ball, Decidueye instead is either running with the only ok Leafage, or the heavy damage output of Razor Leaf for its fast moves, and Grass Knot, Brave Bird and Shadow Sneak for its charged moves. Razor Leaf can be very effective in certain situations (such as destroying Swampert) but is overall a more limited style of play – and the big problem for D is that running Razor Leaf really limits the ability to reach its expensive charged moves in time before it runs out of HP. 

So what does the new moveset do for Decidueye? The below visual from PvPoke indicates that in the Great League 1v1 shield situation, there is a distinct improvement overall, without being over the top great now. The top row shows the current win-loss outcomes running Leafage, Brave Bird and Shadow Sneak, while the 2nd and 3rd row show the outcomes running Leafage with Frenzy Plant and Spirit Shackle (row 2) and the double nuke moveset of Frenzy Plant and Brave Bird (row 3). The bottom row shows your results running the fast move Astonish, and you can see that it’s really not helping Decidueye much at all. 

The benefit of the new moveset is that Decidueye can reach both its bait move and the hard hitting charged moves faster than before. Spirit Shackle is a strict upgrade from the current bait move of Shadow Sneak, costing 5 less energy to reach and coming with the chance to debuff your opponents defence in the process. Frenzy Plant is also an absolute upgrade from the current nuke move of Grass Knot, requiring only 45 energy for 100 power (compared to 50 energy for 90 power with GK). As a result, you pick up new wins in the 1 shield scenario, whether you decide to run with the bait and nuke style of play, or double nuke moveset. 

Shield Scenario New Wins New Losses
1 v 1

Fast move: Leafage
Charged moves: Frenzy Plant, Spirit Shackle

Victreebel (Shadow)
1 v 1

Fast move: Leafage
Charged moves: Frenzy Plant, Brave Bird


Does this mean Decidueye is going to break out in the open meta? I think its lack of stat product, plus a shift towards more Skarmory, Skeledirge and Talonflame, will mean it is currently difficult for the big bird to properly break out in the open meta. However, I do think we’ll see an uptick in its usage, particularly in the right limited cup meta. I haven’t written much about the impact in the Ultra League, because it’s definitely a more challenging meta for Decidueye to break into, even with its new toys to play with. However, I recommend you come out of the community day with the following builds if you can:

  • Bait and nuke build: Great League Decidueye -> Leafage, Frenzy Plant and Spirit Shackle
  • Double nuke build: Great League Decidueye -> Leafage, Frenzy Plant and Brave Bird
  • Ultra League Decidueye -> Leafage, Frenzy Plant and Spirit Shackle
  • Great League Dartrix (for limited metas such as the Evolution cup)

January Community Day Classic – Porygon
January 20, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

What’s that you say, isn’t there a second community day in January? It’s heavily rumoured the featured mon will be Porygon, which if true doesn’t excite this writer much. Porygon’s evolutions have pretty terrible performance in the Great and Ultra League so it’s ultimately up to you how excited you get about building one for these leagues. Even in the right limited meta, they are super flimsy and struggle to fit into the right team. 

Spotlight Hours Research icon

Date Pokémon Bonus PvP Priority
January 2, 2024 Castform
XP icon 2× XP for catching Pokémon
January 9, 2024 Eevee
Candy icon 2× Catch Candy
January 16, 2024 Ralts
Candy icon 2× Transfer Candy
January 23, 2024 Barboach
XP icon 2× XP for evolving Pokémon
January 30, 2024 Foongus
Stardust icon 2× Stardust for catching Pokémon
Low (but High – see below for why!)

January spotlight hours are overall ok for PvP – some are a miss but there are a couple that you should prioritise!


Castform is a really good pick in the right limited cup meta. With the recent buff to Tackle, Castform can reach its charged moves of Weather Ball (Normal & Rock) and Energy Ball with decent pace, and its bulk let’s it hang around for longer than you would expect. It’s less of an open meta pick, as it can’t really play an anti-Ghost role and Lickitung exists. 

Castform also has 3 variations (sunny, rainy and snowy) depending on the weather. If you can somehow find your way into rainy weather, the Water variant has the most play in the open Great League meta, doing incredibly well into most Fire, Ground and Ice types. The bulkier the better!

Honestly, Eevee deserves its own article on PvP analysis, but let’s summarise it down to the versions that really matter:

  • Umbreon is a Great League and Ultra League staple. It has extreme bulk, a decent moveset and coverage, and can be an excellent 3rd shield in many situations by being able to take hit after hit while firing back with moves of its own. It now prefers to run Last Resort over Psychic as its coverage move, due to the recent double nerf to the move Psychic (aimed at Medi, but hitting other mons in the process). Worth noting that this will either require your extreme patience for the next opportunity to evolve Eevee for the exclusive move, or an Elite TM.
  • Sylveon is pretty decent in the Ultra League particularly, and was absolutely everywhere after being given access to the relatively cheap charged move Psyshock. In recent seasons, other fairies such as Clefable, G-Weez and Tapu Fini have risen in prominence due to their greater versatility, but Sylveon can still be decent in the right team and meta.
  • Eevee is very decent itself in the Little Cup format, but requires not one but two Elite Charged TM’s to obtain its optimal moveset. Up to you whether you think this expense is worth it for you!

Ralts is another mon that evolves into different mons based on its gender. Both Gardevoir and Gallade have their time in the sun based on the right meta, but both definitely prefer to be a shadow to really power through their opponents in the right matchups.

  • Gardevoir arguably has the most play in PvP, but is primarily a limited meta Charmer that is built to melt through its opposition in either winning / neutral matchups. It demands careful shield usage and the right team composition to work in practice, but can be devastating in the right circumstances.
  • Gallade used to be extremely good in the Ultra League Premier Cup, but Niantic have decided those cups don’t exist anymore… I think it’s still worth trying to find a decent build for the Great and Ultra League, as the right limited meta will inevitably come for Gallade. 
  • If the above doesn’t inspire you for PvP – Mega Gardevoir is very good today as the #1 Fairy type raid attacker in PvE, and Mega Gallade is on the horizon, so if you can find yourself a hundo that will be a nice addition to your roster.

Don’t forget – 2x transfer candy is very nice, so this is a great opportunity to transfer your spare legendaries for some additional candy.

This is THE spotlight hour to focus on if you are a newer player to the game, or if you have slept on Whiscash in the past. Cash is now arguably the top mudboy in the Great League, due to 3 nice buffs in recent seasons – Mud Bomb is now more powerful, Scald is now more powerful, and Scald has now been added to Whiscash’s movepool. Cash is now often better than other mud brothers Swampert and Quagsire due to it’s pace to its charged moves and higher bulk. If you’re feeling spicy, you could try it out in the Ultra League… but there, Swampert is definitely the superior pick. In terms of IV’s I think you don’t necessarily want to focus solely on the max-bulk variant due to the number of mirror-matches you’ll encounter, and the opportunity to win CMP ties against your opponents is going to be important. 

Barboach is also good as a Little Cup pick, so it’s worth hanging onto some for the lower CP leagues.


Would you believe that Amoongus actually has a half decent win-loss rate in the Great League? You’d be forgiven for not knowing this, and honestly, I don’t think the shroom is going to be making much a splash in the open meta. Instead – clear out some storage space in your bag, stock up on balls, and catch as many Foongus as you can to try and maximise your stardust gains. This guide will give you an idea of just how valuable this hour could be for you!

Research Breakthrough Research icon

These Pokémon will appear as Research Breakthrough Rewards from December 1, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. to March 1, 2024. It’s all random as to which one you’ll receive, and they will all have hatch level IV’s so for many you won’t be getting optimal IV’s – but they can work in a pinch if you are looking for something to build.

Pokémon PvP Priority Explanation
Lapras Low-Medium Lapras used to be a fairly common sighting, particularly in the Ultra League where its massive bulk and decent moveset allowed it to shine. It still is really decent in its winning matchups, but the prevalence of fighters that resist Water (eg: Poliwrath and Virizion) hurt it’s flexibility. Lassie is definitely still good, particularly in limited metas, but it is no longer a required build.
Weezing (Galarian) High Galarian Weezing is frankly a bit of a menace, particularly in the Ultra League and in limited metas, such as the Fantasy Cup. Blessed with excellent typing and moveset, G-Weez is versatile and flexible in its game play. Less of a Great League threat due to its lesser bulk and the prevalence of Ground types, but it’s still very decent in that lower CP league too. Definitely worth building one for each meta – note that for the Ultra League it’s going to require a significant XL candy investment.
Mr. Mime (Galarian) Low Galarian Mr. Mime and it’s evolution Mr. Rime might have a home in the right limited meta, but their clunky moveset and unfortunate typing do limit their viability. Not a priority.
Furfrou Low Furfrou can be a handy Ghost counter, but it’s not going to be making many waves with its current movepool. Collect for the costumes but not for PvP.
Goomy Low I have highly mixed feelings about Goomy’s evolution Goodra at the moment. I think it’s going to see some additional usage when it gets its inevitable community day, but until then there are many other Dragon types that have greater flexibility and power. Hold tight until the release of its Hisuian variant.
Jangmo-o Medium Jangmo-o’s 2 evolutions, Hakamo-o and Kommo-o are both decent in the Great and Ultra League, but a more suited to limited metas. The good news is that hatch IV’s are still pretty decent for these guys, but the hard part will still be getting enough candy to build them. Worth it if you can afford it, but there are probably better candidates for your Rare Candies.

Raids Research icon

5 Star Raids

Pokémon Dates PvP Priority
Buzzwole From January 1 to 10 Buzzwole will appear in five-star raids in the Americas and Greenland High
Xurkitree From January 1 to 10 Xurkitree will appear in five-star raids in the Asia-Pacific regions Low
Pheromosa From January 1 to 10 Pheromosa will appear in five-star raids in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India Low
Tornadus (Therian) From January 10 to January 17 Therian Forme Tornadus will appear in five-star raids, and it can be shiny. This Pokémon will have the featured attack Bleakwind Storm. Low
Thundurus (Therian) From January 17 to January 24 Therian Forme Thundurus will appear in five-star raids, and it can be shiny. This Pokémon will have the featured attack Wildbolt Storm. Low
Landorus (Therian) From January 24 to January 31 Therian Forme Landorus will appear in five-star raids, and it can be shiny. This Pokémon will have the featured attack Sandsear Storm. High

From a PvP perspective, we’ll see the return of some Ultra Beasts and the Forces of Nature legendaries with their signature moves!


If you’re based in the Americas or Greenland, you’re in luck because you’ll be getting access to the best of the Ultra Beasts for this rotation. Buzzwole is really good in every league! If you participated in the Ultra Beasts release event, you hopefully will have a decent one under the 1500-CP cap – and I would highly recommend keeping it if you did because you won’t be able to catch one to squeeze under the cap through raiding. Fun fact, Buzzwole beats Medicham in the 0v0 and 1v1 shield scenarios, and only narrowly loses the 2v2 shield scenario.

If you are yet to catch a decent one for Ultra League and Master League, hopefully you can find a friend to invite you to a few raids while they’re in circulation! 


Xurkitree isn’t really built for PvP due to its extreme frailty. It’s the #2 Electric type attacker though, so could be worth grinding for the raid side of the game.


Like Xurkitree, Pheremosa is so frail in PvP that it’s really not worth your while. However, it’s a fairly decent Bug type attacker coming in at #5 in the rankings, although bug typing isn’t always that helpful against raid bosses.

Tornadus (Therian)

Tornadus is the first of the Forces of Nature legendaries to return to raids, with access to its signature move Bleakwind Storm. Is this new move enough to salvage it in PvP? Absolutely not. Tornadus has terrible typing for the Master League, and an unsalvageable moveset at present. Hard pass for PvP.

Thundurus (Therian)

Thundurus will be back in raids, with access to its signature move Wildbolt Storm. Is this enough to salvage it in PvP? Not really. Electric typing isn’t always that useful in the Master League with all of the Dragon types around, but can be useful into some of the Flying mons such as Ho-Oh, Togekiss and Yveltal.

Landorus (Therian)

Landorus will be back in raids, with access to its signature move Sandsear Storm… and now we’re talking! Landorus was already fairly decent in the Master League, but with access to a faster charging Ground type bait move, with a 100% chance to debuff its opponents attack, Landorus will now be able to stay in matchups for longer. Working out the right combination to run will probably depend on your team composition, but the early sims suggest that the combination of Mud Shot, Sandsear Storm and Stone Edge will be optimal in the Master League for Landorus, allowing you to hit everything on the ground and in the air for at least neutral damage. This is the legendary to prioritise raiding in January!

Shadow Raids

Moltres (Shadow)

Shadow Moltres will be back in Shadow Raids during weekends in January. I’ve written about this previously in October, and unfortunately Shadow Moltres is struggling to be a consistent pick in the open Ultra League meta (and Ho-Oh reigns supreme in the Master League). It’s a very good Fire type and Flying raid attacker though, so it’s not a hard pass, but there are definitely more accessible and cheaper raid options out there.

January 2024 Events Event icon

Pokémon GO New Year 2024 New Year’s 2024
January 1-3, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Raid Day: Hisuian Typhlosion
January 14, 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Shadow Raid Weekend: Ho-Oh
January 27-28, 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

A quick summary because we’ve covered a lot and these are fairly straightforward!

  • For the New Year’s event, there is one main priority for you and this might come as a surprise, but it is Wigglytuff! Wiggly was given access to Icy Wind this season, and Disarming Voice last season, and now it is one of the ultimate Charmers in the Great League. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to get a decent IV variant – I would definitely recommend building one for the Great League.
  • Hisuian Typhlosion will have its own raid day (similar to Hisuian Samurott and the pending Hisuian Decidueye days). It looks like it will be decent but not amazing in the Great League and Ultra League. Skeledirge has just been released into the game and is overall better and more versatile, so I can’t see H-Typhlosion breaking out into the open meta sadly. Still, grab some while they’re around and let’s see what Niantic has in store for us down the line.
  • Shadow Ho-Oh will have a raid weekend and while it’s not clear whether it will have access to its signature move Sacred Fire+, Ho-Oh is a pretty amazing pick in the Master League. It was already fantastic, but with the recent Incinerate buff it is now even better than before. I don’t know that I’m recommending the shadow over the regular version, so it might be worth catching a few and purifying one for the cheaper build, but ultimately this is an event worth participating in if you can!

Shadow Ho-Oh

Lustrous Odyssey
January 6-10, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Dazzling Dream
January 13-16, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Raging Battles & GO Battle Week: Timeless Travels
January 19-24, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Taken Treasures
January 27-February 1, 12:00 a.m. – 11:59 p.m.
  • Lustrous Odyssey PvP Analysis – you can find this guide here. To be honest, not that much to get excited about here!
  • Dazzling Dream PvP Analysis – guide incoming! 

We don’t know all the details yet for these events, but we’ll come back to you with more details once we do.

Summary Event icon

Overall, January has a fair amount to play for from a PvP perspective, but is definitely a bit of a mixed bag overall! I hope this guide has helped you prioritise your PvP grinding for the next month, and as always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram for more monthly event analysis. Good luck with your shiny hunting!

See ya later,


Author & tags

The one enlisted to explain games to new starters. Lover of all things Pokemon. Great League and Ultra League PvP specialist, and a dabbler in PvE.

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