A Brief PvP Analysis on Gholdengo

Alright, no fancy intros, barely a fancy header image. Let’s just get RIGHT into a brief PvP look at the newly announced addition coming to Pokémon GO: Gimmighoul’s 999 coin evolution, GHOLDENGO.


Pokemon GO Gholdengo


Not tanky by any stretch of the imagination, with stats very similar to Aerodactyl (😱), Magnezone, Machamp, and especially Heracross, the last of which has basically the same stats as Goldengo across the board… same Attack, Defense, and HP. It IS very similar to those others I listed, having virtually the same Attack and total stat product, just some variance on how their bulk is made up, with the Defense and HP varying but coming out roughly equal when combined. That said, it leaves most of them behind in Master League, able to reach a higher CP and leaving Magnezone, Machamp, and Heracross in the dust. The closest comparison I can find at that level is Zapdos, which tracks very closely in terms of Attack, bulk, and maximum CP.

Anyway, the way Gholdengo stands out most is that it enters the game as GO’s only Steel/Ghost type thus far. The eventual arrival of the meta-warping Aegislash and family will change that forever one day, but until then, Gholdengo stands alone. Why does that matter? Steel/Ghost types come with a whopping twelve resistances, tied with Electric/Steel for the most resistances in the entire franchise.

For simplicity, I’ll just quickly list all of those resistances here, in alphabetical order:

  • Bug (2x), Dragon, Fairy, Fighting, Flying, Grass, Ice, Normal (3x), Poison (3x), Psychic, Rock, Steel

That balanced against only four vulnerabilities:

  • Dark, Fire, Ghost, Ground

One could argue that Electric/Steel is slightly better, having only three vulnerabilities, but famously, one of them is a 2x weakness (Ground), so I think it’s still more of a tie when it comes to who has bragging rights.

ANYway, some things of particular note:

  • Gholdengo is a Steel that is not only not weak to Fighting, but actually resists it.
  • Steel also resists Psychic, making Gholdengo a potentially awesome Psychic slayer as long as it has decent Ghost moves. (Spoiler alert: it does.)
  • Its typing combination resists the majority of damage from seventeen out of the twenty seven “core meta” Pokémon currently used in Master League, and the heavy majority of other Leagues as well. Kinda hard NOT to with all those resistances!

Now onto the moves.


First off, as far as fast moves go, it’s Hex (2.0 Damage Per Turn, but 4.0 Energy Per Turn) or bust. Yes, it’s a move that is strictly inferior to Shadow Claw (same EPT, but Claw deals 3.0 DPT), but your only other option here is the terrible Astonish (3.0 EPT, but only 1.67 DPT), the fast move that destroys the PvP prospects of more Pokémon than I care to list. Like I said, Hex or bust for Gholdengo.

That just leaves the charge moves:

  • Shadow Ball – Ghost type, 100 damage, 55 energy
  • Dazzling Gleam – Fairy type, 110 damage, 70 energy
  • Focus Blast – Fighting type, 150 damage, 75 energy

Shadow Ball is a must, in a recommendation that surely surprises nobody. Not only is it Gholdengo’s only STAB charge move, but it’s also by far its cheapest, and Ghost has famously good coverage in PvP.

After that, while a case can be made for either of the other charge moves, I think that generally the coverage and raw energy-to-damage ratio of Focus Blast is going to take the cake over Dazzling Gleam. Gleam is NOT an unviable move, but it deals only 1.57 Damage Per Energy, whereas Focus Blast costs only 5 more energy and deals 40 more damage (2.0 DPE). Not to mention that Focus Blast hits the Darks and Normals that resist Ghost damage for super effective damage, while Shadow Ball hits the Psychics and Ghosts that resist Blast for super effective damage (and neutral damage to every other single typing that resists Focus Blast as well). They’re a great pairing in terms of coverage.

One thing that I know is already irking some people is the lack of any Steel moves. Gholdengo DOES learn a few in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, such as Iron Head, Heavy Slam, Flash Cannon, and signature move Make It Rain, but none of them show up here. Nor do some cheaper coverage moves like Psyshock and Thunder Punch. It’s not an AWFUL moveset it ended up with, but it does continue the worrying recent trend of most everything (including Community Day Pokémon) getting stuck with expensive charge moves. Do you even PvP, Niantic? 🤨

Anyway, moving on, let’s go with Shadow Ball and Focus Blast as our default and see how Gholdengo looks at a high level in each League.


Not surprisingly for a League that tends to punish flimsy Pokémon (and has arguably the largest group of viable Pokémon that can prey on Steel/Ghost types like Gholdilocks here), Gholdengo puts on its worst showing of all at this level. It’s worth noting that it CAN topple some GL staples like Medicham, Azumarill, Cresselia, DDeoxys, Skarmory, Bastiodon, Alolan Ninetales, Venusaur, and on-the-rise Toxapex and Dunsparce. (Yes, despite that scary Drill Run.) But those wins I listed represent the end of the story. Not only do tons of things that can exploit Gholdengo’s typing rip through it, but even things that shouldn’t be able to on paper, like Altaria, Pelipper, even Shadow Victreebel, going to show that even impressive resistances alone cannot always overcome poor bulk. Its prospects do improve rather significantly with shields down, as one might suspect with something that has good closing moves like Gholdilocks does, but that’s hard to engineer and doesn’t really raise its stock when shields drastically swing results the other way.

Perhaps there will be a limited meta that pushes Gholdengo to the fore, but in general, I don’t think I’m going to stand here and recommend building one for Great League anytime soon. Especially with the difficult and lengthy path one must take to building one at all!

Maybe Ultra will offer a healthier environment?


Hmmmm… or perhaps not. The same problems we found in Great League are here as well: a decent number of meta Pokémon that can exploit Gholdengo’s few but prominent weaknesses, and little for it to pick on in return. It beats a smattering of relevant Fighters and Psychics and Ices and Fairies and stuff like Jellicent, Scizor, and Greedent. But then it goes and loses to basically all the Grasses and many Dragons and Buzzwole and even Pidgeot. (Granted, that last one is a battle of resisted moves on both sides, but still.) It doesn’t do much better in Premier, either. Heck, not even getting through shields helps it here. Blast it all.

One final shot….


Yet again, the numbers fall below hopeful expectations. BUT! There’s a case to be made here, as Gholdengo puts the clamps on the Fairies AND other Steels, to include big bad Dialga. While a couple Fairies can turn the tables with shields down (specifically Zacian with Wild Charge and Togekiss with Flamethrower), the other Fairies, Steels (aside from the obvious Excadrill), and most prominently Dialga are consistent wins across all even shield scenarios, as well as Mewtwo (lacking its own Focus Blast), Lugia, and more often than not Dragonite and Gyarados too, with others like Reshiram and Zekrom showing up in 2v2 shielding, Palkia and Landorun in 1v1 shielding, and Zarude and Focus Blast Mewtwo with shields down.

Admittedly, it’s still not the impressive performance one would hope for, though. A good niche, but still more of a niche. Thankfully, I do have ONE promising thing to end this quick, high level analysis on: Master League Premier, which Niantic has said should be much more common in coming seasons as penance for killing off Classic formats. In addition to the glut of Fairies it can prey on, it also beats out stuff like Ursaluna, Walrein, Machamp, Chesnaught, (Smack Down) Rhyperior, Shadow Snorlax and Dragonite, and kindred spirit Magnezone, among others. And hey, building one for this could make you feel better about splurging for the anti-Dialga/Fairy niche in Open.


Again, there may be more yet to come for Gholdengo with other moves, such as an almost certain future event (like, in 2026 or so) with exclusive move Make It Rain just as Melmetal is about to finally get Double Iron Bash. But in the here and now, Gholdengo fills a decent niche in Master League and may make something of itself in Premier as well. But overall, if I’m being honest, I was hoping for a bit more. Don’t feel too bad about how long the grind may take on this one, as you’re not missing out on anything game breaking. And yes, that includes PvE as well, where my friend and colleague Teban54 tells me (as an early teaser for a future PvE analysis?) that it’s up there among Ghost/Dark attackers, but still trails other, easier-to-get things like Chandelure, Hydreigon, and of course a number of Megas. Just like in PvP, MAYBE worth building one eventually, but no need to rush.

Okay, maybe not as quick as I promised 😅, but we’re done! Good luck on your grind!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with regular analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Until then, be safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time!

Author & tags

PoGO/PvP Investigative Journalist, GO Hub and Silph Arena/Road Contributor, amateur cook, author of 'Nifty Or Thrifty' and 'Under The Lights' article series and #PvPfacts!

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