A PvP Analysis on Community Day Chandelure and Poltergeist (and a peek ahead at Shadow Force!)

Related Articles

So, Litwick Community Day is here! Uh… what a great shiny family, eh? Okay, let’s just leave it at that and have fun out there… good luck in the shundo hunt!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Oh, you’re still here? What’s that… you’re looking for PvP analysis? Again? And you say I already used this EXACT same gag last Community Day for Meteor Beam Gigalith, and it wasn’t funny then either? Well firstly, rude again… it was hilarious last time too! And secondly, back it up…

…you mean you actually read these long things I write? What’s the matter with you?

😜

Okay, you got me. Just as with Community Day Gigalith, the actual move being added to this month’s CHANDELURE is… less than exciting. As with Meteor Beam, big fat charge move POLTERGEIST is not an unsalvageable move overall — I will highlight a couple Pokémon that I think would actually benefit greatly from it were it added to their movepools — but it’s a very poor choice for the one Pokémon it’s being given to this Community Day.

HAUNTED… OR JUST CURSED?

Chandelure GhostFire

Chandelure is a superstar in PvE, as detailed at length here by my friend and colleague u/Teban54. But its breakout in PvP has never really materialized, despite having some truly awesome moves like IncinerateFlame Charge, and Shadow Ball (and at least theoretical coverage with Energy Ball). That kind of move package, combined with a Ghost/Fire combination that has always worked well for Alolan Marowak (nine resistances, including three double resistances, though also five vulnerabilities), SHOULD do well in PvP, particularly in Master League where Ghost AND Fire are relatively rare and quite powerful versus the core meta.

And yet… be it Great LeagueUltra League, or most disappointingly, Master League, Chandey just fails to get it done. Why is that? Put simply, it comes down to poor bulk without spammy enough moves to mask it.

Chandelure has slightly more bulk than Gengar/Haunter, yet they both dance circles around it in Great and Ultra Leagues, with Chandelure only catching up with Gengar in Master League thanks to hitting a much higher total stat product and surpassing Gengar at that level in terms of bulk AND overall Attack prowess for the first time. The reason is pretty simple: 35-energy Shadow Punch. Remember how comparatively lousy Gengar was in PvP before it had Shadow Punch compared to how good it is today? Yes, Punch is a bait move first and foremost, but it does alright for itself even without baiting, as its high Attack stat turns even an underpowered move like Shadow Punch into a dangerous weapon in its own right.

Chandelure doesn’t have that. Shadow Ball, Energy Ball, and even Overheat all cost 55 energy, leaving it to attempt to bait with 50-energy Flame Charge. And that’s a problem when you consider Chandelure’s fast moves. Each Incinerate generates 20 energy, so after two you have only 40 energy, far short of all of Chandelure’s current charge moves. (That would well with something like Shadow Punch or even something like 40-energy Fire Punch, but alas.) One more Incinerate gets you the energy needed for Flame Charge… but also now gives it enough energy for any of its other charge moves too. And even “baiting” with Flame Charge at that point leaves you only 10 energy in the bank. If any of its other moves costed only 50 energy, that would be sweet, as you’d then be only 2 Incinerates (40 energy) away from being able to fire one off. But since they all cost 55 energy, an additional Incinerate is needed to get there, even after baiting, and you’re now left with 15 extra (mostly wasted) energy. Good news is that now you DO only need two more Incinerates to get to a big closing move… but Chandelure will be long dead before you ever get there unless you’re already way ahead of the opponent and winning anyway. It’s rather awkward trying to make it all work… especially with Chandey’s lack of bulk making all this a race against the clock.

Sometimes-used alternative fast move Hex is no better. It generates 12 energy per use, so after four of them you’re sitting at 48 energy, just 2 short of what’s needed for Flame Charge. One more Hex puts you at the same 60 energy as three Incinerates, so at that point you either waste a bunch and use Charge or just throw a big closer anyway. If Charge, then three more Hexes leaves you with 46 energy, again short of what’s needed for another charge move. One more Hex takes you to 58, leaving again the choice of another Charge and race, or just throw the closer. It’s all just too slow!

So as with Gigalith, what Chandelure most needs in PvP is something it can try to bait with. Even a 45 energy bait move would help, as you’d be pocketing 15 energy after the first use to tack on two Incinerates’ worth of energy and get to a closing move one Incinerate sooner than you do with Flame Charge. But alas.

All of that is just to explain why Chandelure struggles as it does in PvP today. I haven’t even gotten to the main event yet: POLTERGEIST.

A new-to-GO move, Poltergeist deals a whopping 140 damage. Coupled with Chandelure’s high Attack, that’s a OHKO to many Pokémon if it lands. But the downside is obvious: it costs 75 energy to use. That’s 20 more energy (and a whole additional Incinerate or 2+ additional Hexes) than its other closing moves, which is a lifetime for something as glassy as Chandelure. Just as Gigalith did NOT need another slow-charging closer, Chandelure has about as much use for a move like Poltergeist as a submarine does for a screen door, or a helicopter does with ejection seats. They all end up very messy.

The amazing PvPoke updated this morning with the final stats for Poltergeist, but last night as I began (and mostly finished) my analysis, I had to use my own local PvPoke server to plug it in manually, take a bunch of screenshots and create a lot of comparative spreadsheets, so by golly, I’m going to still make use of them! And they tell the story pretty effectively, I gotta say.

So here we go: I’m basically just going to show you Shadow Ball vs Poltergeist on Chandelure, and those alone will probably show you why Chandey has no real use for this move over exisitng options.

GREAT LEAGUE, 1v1 Shielding, Shadow Ball vs Poltergeist

  • Gains Play Rough/Hydro Pump Azumarill (inconsistently)
  • Loses Nidoqueen and Shadow Hypno

GREAT LEAGUE, 0v0 Shielding, Shadow Ball vs Poltergeist

  • Gains Unova Stunfisk (inconsistent)
  • Loses DDeoxys, Alolan Marowak, Hypno (regular + Shadow), Drifblim, Medicham, Nidoqueen, AND Talonflame

ULTRA LEAGUE, 1v1 Shielding, Shadow Ball vs Poltergeist

  • Gains nothing
  • Loses Armored Mewtwo, Jellicent, Nidoqueen, Talonflame, and Walrein

MASTER LEAGUE, 1v1 Shielding, Shadow Ball vs Poltergeist

  • Gains nothing
  • Loses Walrein and Therian Landorus

MASTER LEAGUE, 0v0 Shielding, Shadow Ball vs Poltergeist

  • Gains Togekiss and Dragon Tail Groudon (inconsistently)
  • Loses nothing

So yeah, if there’s good news, it’s that it’s technically better in Master League with no shields left in play? But even then you’re still only pulling a 28% win rate… not exactly something to brag about, and certainly nowhere near enough justification to suddenly start building your Master League team around Chandelure. In all those other scenarios (including o-shield in Great League), Poltergeist ends up WORSE than existing moves.

I could belabour the point with a lot more simulations and a LOT more words, but your time is more valuable than that, and I’m actually just gonna leave it right there. This is a Community Day to get yourself some gorgeous shinies, and yes, to evolve some new Chandelures. Just no need to get more than a couple with Poltergeist, and honestly, I wouldn’t even use your top-of-the-line IV versions on that. It is certainly possible that Poltergeist will be further tweaked in the future and become, perhaps, a better move. But at least for Chandelure, it is extremely unlikely to matter. They’d have to drop it to completely busted range for Chandey to ever benefit from it considering what moves it already has.

BUT, as I always do, I wanted to briefly look at some other things that MIGHT benefit from Poltergeist down the line! (Disclaimer: All of these are Pokémon that can learn Poltergeist in MSG.)

I started with some other things that already have Shadow Ball, just to see if the Shadow Ball vs. Poltergeist was consistent or just a Chandelure anomaly. Turns out that Chandelure IS more of an anomaly because the drop-off is MORE significant with other Pokémon! That includes GENGAR (in Ultra League, for this example), who is even better off with Sludge Bomb than it is with Poltergeist, to say nothing of Shadow Ball’s clear superiority. The same is true of TREVENANT in Ultra League, as well as on-the-rise RUNERIGUS, showing that it’s not just flimsier Ghosts that prefer the cheaper Shadow Ball, but bulkier Ghosts too. This trend also continues in Great League, where Runerigus prefer Shadow Ball even MORE, with a massive gap now separating its performance from poor Poltergeist. Not surprisingly, things like HAUNTER still want Shadow Ball too.

So basic rule of thumb seems to be: if you have a choice between Shadow Ball and Poltergeist… stick with Shadow Ball. And while many of the best Ghosts in PvP have Ball, certainly not ALL do. There are actually some very competitive Ghosts that lack a move with true closing power. Consider both Dusclops and Sableye, who both famously have to turn to purified move Return for any closing power potential at all. They can both learn Poltergeist in MSG, so would that be a better alternative? In short: yesyes, and very yes. Jinkies, I think we found our Poltergeist niche at last! Should it stick around with current stats, pray for stuff like Sableye and especially Dusclops to be blessed with it. In the latter case, that would settle the injustice of Dusknoir getting Shadow Ball and Dusclops not this same time last year.

But outside of that, sorry Poltergeist, but uh… you shall not pass! Get a couple Poltergeist Chandelures if you can just in case some miracle update makes it more intriguing, but don’t bet on that. I certainly am not. (Likely bait move Will-O-Wisp when, Niantic?)

But we’re not done with this article just yet. That was a pretty short analysis, really, so let’s take just a couple minutes to preview something else that was recently revealed with definite relation to Poltergeist. Something coming up next week….

HITTING WITH FORCE?

Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon

So the one niche for Poltergeist could be Ghosts that lack another charge move with STAB killing power, right? Things like, perhaps, ALTERED GIRATINA, with no moves that deal higher on-paper damage than 60, yeah?

Yes, Giratina too would definitely benefit from Poltergeist, but it’s very likely getting something even better during next week’s Halloween Event: new-to-GO signature move SHADOW FORCE. As with Poltergeist for weeks leading up to its eventual full reveal yesterday, we know the damage of Shadow Force (120 in PvP), but not the cost. It could be completely broken at the same 55 energy as Techno Blast (55 energy for 120 damage) or 60 energy of Meteor Beam/Luster Purge/Mist Ball, more balanced like Earthquake and Future Sight (65 energy for 120 damage), or something unprecedented like 70 or more energy. (Currently, no 120-damage move costs more than 65 energy… everything that is truly competitive with a cost of 70 or more energy deals at least 130 damage, the only exceptions being lackluster, nerfed moves like Flash Cannon and Dazzling Gleam at 70 energy for only 110 damage.)

That all said… I cannot see this move coming cheap. 55 energy is likely right out, as it would then completely surpass Shadow Ball (100 damage for that same 55 energy) and make both Giratinas completely busted. Honestly, I can’t see it costing any less than 65 energy (making it an Earthquake clone), and even then I feel Niantic won’t be that generous. More than likely, we’re talking out first 70+ energy, 120 damage move.

Why do I feel that way? Simply, it comes down to some numbers. While Poltergeist is now up on PvPoke, Shadow Force (completely understandably) is not yet. So I again popped open my home version and ran some sims across a variety of different-costing Shadow Force variants. I only went as low as 60 energy in what I’m reporting on today (though I DID create a 55-energy version for fun, and quickly dismissed it as it was just TOO fun 😈), and here you can start to see why:

60-energy Altered Giratina starts to break Ultra League in half, beating things like even Scizor and Galarian Stunfisk. I think something on the scale of 70+ energy is more realistic and also, frankly, more balanced. Even at 70 energy, you start beating things you would kind of expect a good Ghost type to beat like Cresselia, Drifblim, Bronzong, and Lugia, plus things like Melmetal, Talonflame, and even Lapras. Current atrocious Ghost move Shadow Sneak can’t do any of that. Giratina Altered is so bulky it makes good use even of an 80-cost Shadow Force, giving up Bronzong, Drifblim, and Lapras, but keeping those others for a net gain of four new wins as compared to Shadow Sneak, and again, mostly things a Ghost type SHOULD be beating anyway. And of course, the difference made with shields down is particularly huge:

While Giratina does give up Gengar that spammy Shadow Sneak can take out, it gains a TON: Cresselia, Cofagrigus, Drifblim, Jellicent, Lapras, Melmetal, Scizor, and Swampert with even 80-energy Shadow Force, and additional wins like Skarmory, Dragon Breath Charizard, Dragon Breath Gyarados, and Ferrothorn with a still-high 70-energy cost. Perhaps because of this more than anything, I think any cost south of 65 or even 70 energy is quite unlikely unless Niantic really DOES have no clue how to balance their own game. (As much as I sometimes joke about that, I don’t think they’re truly that out of touch… I hope.)

In Master League, Altered Giratina does still stand to benefit, but far less so. I forgot to take screenshots (sorry!), but I did compare Shadow Sneak with Shadow Force ranging from 80 all the way down to 65 energy, and the results were there but less impressively so. 80-cost SF adds on Excadrill, 75-cost SF adds Mud Shot Groudon, 70-cost SF adds on Dragon Tail Groudon, and then 65-energy Shadow Force tacks on Gyarados and Mamoswine. Overall that’s a growth of five wins, but as I again would be surprised with anything less than 70 energy (65 is, in my mind, absolute best-case scenario), that difference is only three wins: Excadrill and both versions of Groudon. Nice, and certainly appreciated, but not anything that would drastically shift Giratina-A’s place in the meta, I don’t think.

Master League is more the domain of Origin Giratina, no? Could Dark Force make it better, or is this likely another Shadow Ball-vs-Poltergeist scenario?

Giratina (Origin) GhostDragon

Well, in short, it looks very likely to make Origin Giratina better too:

Even an 80-cost Shadow Force would add wins versus Mud Shot Groudon, Rhyperior, and a trio of unlikely things: Walrein and Charmers Sylveon and Togekiss! THAT is a game changer! (The additional win 75-energy Shadow Force gets is not… it’s just Zamazenta. 😅) I will admit I ran out of time to go any lower than that… but holy moley, if 80-energy Shadow Force does THAT, I’d be scared to see what something 70 energy or less could do! That’s not impossible, of course, but again reinforces my (hopeful?) thinking that the cost of this move will be kept pretty high.

But that’s just a teaser for now. Thankfully we shouldn’t have to wait TOO long to get the final, actual cost, and I’ll definitely revisit Shadow Force then and analyze much more fully its impacts on the various metas at that point… including in Ultra League Halloween Cup!

For now, that’s all we got for today. Good luck in your shiny hunt this weekend, but you don’t have to go TOO crazy scarfing up every Litwick you can for PvP purposes. Take it easy, and have fun!

For more PvP tidbits, you can find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon if you prefer. Or please feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends. Thanks again for reading, and catch you next time!

Related reading

Popular today

Latest articles