A PvP Analysis of GO Battle League Season 17 Reward Pokémon

Good day, Pokémon trainers! A new season of Pokémon GO Battle League is upon us. Which means new moves, rebalances, and new entrants to PvP! A lot of this has already been covered by other members over here at GOHub, such as these extensive move rebalance analyses by JRE and the December catch priorities by Jtizzler. 

And today I want to add to the discussion by talking about the often understated part of Pokémon GO PvP. The Pokémon available as rewards for getting three in a set wins in the GO Battle League! I had made a similar article before for season 16, so I will avoid talking about the same Pokémon that were available in last season’s reward pool. Key terms I’ll be using are explained in that article as well. Now let’s get right into it and focus only on the newcomers or the Pokémon that got a substantial update this season.

Pokémon Leaving The Pool General icon

These are the Pokémon that were available in the GBL reward pool last season but are no longer available as GBL rewards this season:

Skarmory and Croagunk received rather exciting new move updates, so it’s a bit unfortunate that they will not be in the current prize pool. Thankfully, there are more than just a few mons still available in the pool. Starting with:

Rank 1+ General icon

These are the new or meta-shifted Pokémon that will be available as soon as you hit rank 1:

Hisuian Sneasel

Sneasel (Hisuian)

Type: FightingPoison

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League

Best IVs:0/15/9 (Great League), 2/15/15 (Ultra League)

Usability As Is: Yes (Great League)

Replacing Bisharp as the guaranteed rank 1 encounter is the Hisuian variant of Sneasel. It’s evolution, Sneasler is a unique FightingPoison type that’s usable both in the Great League and the Ultra League. It runs a strange moveset of Shadow Claw, Close Combat, and Aerial Ace. So it has good fast attack and shield pressure. The Shadow Claw and Aerial Ace combo is also fantastic against fellow fighting types such as Medicham in the Great League, and Virizion, Cobalion in the Ultra League. While not skimping on what fighting types are already strong against of course.

While there is at least one usable IV set (10/15/15) for the Great League that you may find in GBL. It’s not worth thinking about. It’s not the best possible IV set and you will only encounter one Hisuian Sneasel as a prize anyways. Also as a glass cannon, Sneasler benefits greatly from the added damage being a shadow Pokémon provides. So all in all, really interesting Pokémon, but not really one you should be looking for in the GBL reward pool.

Marill

Marill

Type: WaterFairy(Azumarill)

Viable League: Great League

Best IVs: 0/15/15 

Usability As Is: No

I already talked about Marill at length in the previous season’s analysis, so let’s keep things brief this time around. Last season I was hopeful for Azumarill’s potential in the Great League. And this season, I am REALLY hopeful for Azumarill’s potential. Not only did its fast-move Bubble get buffed, but Fire types got a bunch of buffs as well. Which just gives more targets for Azumarill to hunt down and the Fire types might scare off the Grass types as well. Allowing Azumarill to run free.

For Azumarill, IVs matter quite a lot, as quite a few matchups rely on that added bulk. So I wouldn’t be looking for an Azumarill to use in GBL. However, a high-ranking Azumarill needs lots of candies and XL candies. So I’d recommend you throw in a Pinap berry whenever one of them appears in the reward pool if you don’t have a good one built yet.

Gligar

Gligar

Type: GroundFlying

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League (Gliscor)

Best IVs: 0/15/12 (Gligar Great League), 1/15/15 (Gliscor Great League), 0/14/15 (Gliscor Ultra League)

Usability As Is: Yes (Gliscor Great League)

Now Gligar here is a bit tricky to talk about. If we’re talking strictly in terms of Great League, then ya, you can get a decent Gliscor (Gligar’s evolution) from the GBL reward pool (10/15/15). However, if you have been a part of GO PvP at all last season, you know that it was Gligar, not Gliscor, that was everywhere. 

The reason for this is twofold. First, Gligar has an overall higher stat product compared to Gliscor in the Great League. Second, Gligar got a double buff last season. Both Aerial Ace and Dig got updated, with better cost-to-damage ratios. And while Gliscor also has Aerial Ace, it’s lacking that critical Dig. Instead, it runs the much more energy-demanding Earthquake. Which isn’t to say Gliscor is bad of course. It’s still decent in the Great League, and much better in the Ultra League, where Gligar isn’t even viable.

But why is Gligar (and by extension Gliscor) suddenly the Flying type of choice in the first place? It’s because while Gligar’s moves got a double buff, other popular Flying types got a nerf with Sky Attack requiring more energy. Prior popular flyers such as Noctowl and Altaria had secondary types that gave them a large pool of resistances and very few weaknesses. Gligar keeps that trend alive with its Ground typing giving it a host of resistances and only two weaknesses. Albeit, a double weakness to Ice

Spheal

Spheal

Type: IceWater

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League, Master League

Best IVs: 0/12/15 (Great League), 0/15/15 (Ultra League), 15/15/15 (Master League)

Usability As Is: Absolutely (Master League)

I’ll try to keep this one brief. Because while its glory days of being the defacto Ice type of choice in both the Great and Ultra Leagues are over, Walrein, Spheal’s final evolution is still decent in the Ultra League and some limited Great League metas. However, in both cases, you want the shadow version. And in both cases, Walrein needs its double legacy moves Powder Snow, and Icicle Spear to be successful. And to add the final nail in the coffin, you won’t really find a Walrein with decent IVs for the Great and Ultra leagues in the reward pool anyway.

So overall, there’s a lot more Pokémon to put your priority in this exciting new meta. One caveat though, is that Walrein could be decent in Master League Premier. There are a lot of Dragon types in that format that Walrein can deal with. So if you find a Spheal with perfect or near-perfect IVs, it might be worth keeping. But I’d wait until its legacy moves are available again before evolving.

Rank 6 General icon

Machoke

Machoke

Type: Fighting

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League

Best IVs: 0/14/11 (Great League), 0/15/14 (Ultra League)

Usability As Is: No

There’s only one Machoke in rank 6. Machamp its evolution is a solid spammy glass cannon fighting type for the Great and Ultra League in its shadow form. But you do need that shadow form, so this Machoke is really good for a few candies. You can get Machops as early as rank 1+ as well.

Rank 11+ General icon

The following Pokémon appear in the reward pool 10 ranks later after going above rank 11:

Alolan Vulpix

Vulpix (Alola)

Type: IceFairy

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League

Best IVs: 0/14/12 (Great League), 7/15/15 (Ultra League)

Usability As Is: Yes (Ultra League)

Alolan Ninetales, Vulpix’s evolution had been a strong force in the Great League for a long time. As an IceFairy type it could threaten both Flying and Fighting types. Along with any Grass and Dragon types. It even had a choice between Powder Snow and Charm as its preferred fast attack depending on what you felt necessary. All this is bolstered by the fact that A.Ninetales is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to damage.

So, why is all this in the past tense? Simple, Ice types in general aren’t too popular in the current meta. Talonflame and Skarmory are the new meta flyers right now, and both can do super effective damage to ice types. As such, the meta itself has shifted against Alolan Ninetales. This is to say, A.Ninetales is still a fantastic Pokémon that will still have use just not immediately.

So I wouldn’t worry about keeping or building up an A.Ninetales that you get from the GO Battle League reward pool immediately. Especially since you won’t find good IVs for it and the shadow variant is generally preferred more anyway. And while you can find decent A.Ninetales for the Ultra League (10/15/15) and (11/15/15), there is a reason you don’t see that many of them in the Ultra League. It’s very expensive to build up in the Ultra League compared to the advantage it brings.

Drilbur

Spheal

Type: GroundSteel (Excadrill)

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League, Master League

Best IVs: 2/15/15 (Great League), 0/15/15 (Ultra League), 15/15/15 (Master League)

Usability As Is: Absolutely (Master League)

Excadrill, Drilbur’s final evolution can be a potential spice pick in the Great and Ultra Leagues thanks to its newly acquired shadow form. It has a Mud Shot, Drill Run, and Rock Slide moveset. This means it is so spammy and damage-dealing that it can beat meta mainstays rather comfortably. These include the likes of Lanturn, Registeel, and Clodsire in the Great League. And Charizard, Steelix, Tentacruel, and Dragonite in the Ultra League. But all of this is assuming that Excadrill has some shields to hide behind because it is very frail in these leagues.

However, interestingly this might be the only Pokémon I’ll be talking about in this season’s reward pool whose best use case is in the Master League. That Steel subtyping helps a lot here. As it gives Excadrill resistance against Flying, Fairy, and Dragon. The three most popular types in the Master League. In fact, Excadrill’s usefulness makes it one of the non-legendary Pokémon that you can make use of in the Open Master League and not just Master League Premier. If you’re trying to get an Excadrill for the Master League you should be looking for one that’s as close to 15/15/15 as possible.

Rank 16+ General icon

Finally, the following Pokémon appear in the reward pool after going above rank 16:

Vullaby

Vullaby

Type: DarkFlying

Viable League: Great League, Ultra League

Best IVs: 0/13/15 (Great League), 15/15/15 (Ultra League)

Usability As Is: Absolutely (Ultra League)

Mandibuzz, Vullaby’s evolution became popular in the Great League at the same time as Gligar thanks to the Aerial Ace buff. Yet, they could not be more different from each other in terms of the roles they play in a team. Mandibuzz is actually more similar to Umbreon than anything. Its part Dark typing and extreme bulk make it an excellent safe swap. And access to the high-energy generating Snarl means Mandibuzz can really cut into your opponent’s resources as well.

So despite more Fairy types I think Mandi is still good for the Great League, less Ice also helps. You won’t get one good for the Great League in the reward pool though. Or much of anywhere really. It’s not exactly a Pokémon that spawns in the wild usually. So the only way to get a decent one might be through trading.

Of course, Mandi is fantastic in the Ultra League as well. However, you’ll need a fully XL’d Mandi to be viable there with close to 15/15/15 IVs. Vullaby itself is also solid for 500 CP Little Cup metas. 0/11/14 is the best IV combination for Vullaby there.

Pokémon From The Last Season General icon

These Pokémon are staying this season from last season’s pool and my opinion also remains more or less the same from the previous article:

Conclusion General icon

And there you have it. A look at every Pokémon available as rewards in the GO Battle League. If you’re into PvP in Pokémon GO, you’ve probably figured out by now that you need to be smart about how you use your resources and make use of any and all benefits that come your way. Since you’ll be catching these Pokémon while participating in GBL anyways, might as well know how to make the best use of them. That was the idea behind this article anyway. So I hope it has been useful for you and happy battling!

Goodbye for now, Pokémon trainers. Priom-out!

Author & tags

Priom
Priom
Pokémon fan since as early as object permanence allows. Me and my Pokébuddy, PoppyGO are here to hopefully help you with all of Pokémon GO's going-ons!

Further reading

Popular today

Latest articles

Support us

Buy GO Hub merch

Get your very own GO Hub t-shirt, mug, or tote.