A PvP Analysis on Nature Cup (Emerging Grassroots PvP!)

Both different and familiar article today.

For over half a decade now, I have examined PvP Limited metas (typically called “Cups”) from the perspective of not just what’s the best of the best in that meta, but also what’s inexpensive and/or things you likely have on hand already, to facilitate prepping without burning unnecessary resources and be able to dive in and compete right away. You’ve come to know these standard analyses as my popular “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series.

Today, I want to do a short approximation of those longer reviews and look at a format you may not have even heard of: Nature Cup, a “Flash Tournament” format. What is that, you ask? It’s the beginnings of grassroots PvP tournaments emerging from the ashes of the gone-too-soon Silph Arena, for which I got my own PvP start (as a player and a writer/analyst) diving into their monthly Cups. The Arena is gone now in the same way that The Silph Road has mostly faded away, but a growing contingent of players are working to organize again with their own monthly formats for us to all enjoy (and I hope to raise some awareness of those with some articles like this one!). The work is already going on to the degree that today’s quick analysis, the Nature Cup, is the third such meta organized by Flash For Everyone (hosted in part on the quickly rising Dracoviz, which also provides THE best coverage for professional, Play! Pokémon tournaments) after Silph’s untimely death in August, a nearly seamless gap.

So what is Nature Cup?

  • Great League format, 1500 CP Limit.
  • Only BugGrass, and Rock type Pokémon are allowed.
  • Steel type Pokémon and Mega Pokémon are banned.

And that’s it! Pretty simple, right? Like most GBL metas and early Silph Arena metas.

Rather than my standard, lengthy run-through of all the top (and/or cheap) options in the meta, let’s hit the highlights.

First off, here are the top ranked Pokémon in the meta (with Shadows removed just for simplicity/avoidance of lots of duplicates).

Looks pretty diverse overall. Just some quick pointers to looking over what you’re seeing there:

  • Note that the Top 10 Pokémon listed all have a “score” over 90. This means that there is a variety of Pokémon that have widespread good matchups, the sign of a relatively healthy meta, comparable to some of the more popular GBL metas like Halloween CupKanto CupLove Cup and others. An UNhealthy meta like Psychic CupFighting Cup, or shudder Flying Cup tend to be dominated by one or two Pokémon that have very few negative matchups and tend to take over those metas, making them extremely repetitive and typically very RPS (Rock-Paper-Scissors)… not to mention often unfun to engage in.

Part of this is helped by the banning of Steel, which resists Bug, Grass, AND Rock damage and would turn the meta into something else entirely, a meta dominated by those top Steel Pokémon. Maybe that wouldn’t be terrible, but it would certainly condense the meta significantly and basically force you to run a hard counter to Steels, at least, like a Fighter or something with Ground or Fire damage, whether you want to or not.

As it shakes out instead, yes, you have Abomasnow right at the top with even a 100 score, but there are many ways to handle it with all the Bug and Rock damage around. You have a nice symmetry of Grasses handling Rocks, Bugs handling Grasses, and Rocks handling Bugs. That would potentially be an RPS nightmare except for standouts like Abomasnow, Tropius, Aurorus, Buzzwole, Trevenant, Buzzwole, and even Tyrunt that break the mold and break up total RPS, which is why they all show well in the rankings. Not every typing in the game has that kind of variety, but most do all these generations later.

In this case, it looks like it mostly works out for an enjoyable meta. If it looks fun to you, there is a big tournament on Sunday, November 19th being hosted by Flash For Everyone and Reezy (and shoutcasted by SosaFlo that I would encourage checking out.

Just to finish this article off in more typical JRE style, here are some inexpensive and/or likely-already-built options that look particularly impressive in Nature Cup. This will not be as extensive as my normal writeups, but should still give you plenty to think about from among (mostly) top meta picks.

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

Ariados BugPoison
  • ARIADOS is ranked within the Top 10 and handles itself well, handling not only all the major Grasses (except Tropius, for rather obvious reasons), but also many fellow Bugs (to include Beedrill, Galvantula, Buzzwole, Golisopod, Charjabug, Araquanid and more) and even some Rocks like Lycanroc and Cradily.
Beedrill BugPoison
  • BEEDRILL remains a potent thrifty option, easily handling (non-Flying) Grasses and several Bugs, but the best thing about it here is that Drill Run also plows through several Rocks like Sudowoodo, Amaura, Lycanroc, and even Magcargo!
Charjabug BugElectric
  • This is an overall good meta for CHARJABUG to show off its bulk, though you may want to consider a pre-Community Day Bug Bite version rather than Volt Switch. While Switch is a better move on paper, remember that it’s resisted by Grasses, so without Bug Bite, Charj struggles with things like Abomasnow, Jumpluff, Whimsicott, Cradily, and Roserade.
Golisopod BugWater
  • GOLISOPOD is a fun wild card, and this is a meta where Aerial Ace makes a lot of sense for how it hits Grasses and Bugs hard, probably with Liquidation for the potential to wash away many Rocks too.

Magcargo FireRock
  • Outside of Bugs there are some great budget options too. MAGCARGO roasts most of the Bugs (though those with Water, Fighting, or Ground damage are obviously problematic), as well as the vast majority of Grasses. Just don’t get locked in versus other Rocks!
Serperior Grass Venusaur GrassPoison
  • Obviously a number of cheap but good Grasses too, including SERPERIOR and its own Aerial Ace for enemy Grasses and even turning the tables on some Bugs (with its Grass side handling the Flying-resistant Rocks), or GROVYLE with Leaf Blade and Ace as well if you’re feeling spicy. My boy VENUSAUR is steady as ever too, in either normal or Shadow form, being better versus Grasses at the expense of not being quite as effective as Serperior versus Bugs.

50,000 Dust/50 Candy

Abomasnow GrassIce
  • ABOMASNOW is ranked #1 in the meta, and for good reason, but it’s not without its flaws. It has to be much more careful of Rock and Fighting damage than most other Grasses, while also remaining vulnerable to the Poison and Bug and Fire damage that all other Grasses must be cautious of too. But there is precious little in this meta that resists the steady Ice damage Aboma dishes out, and Energy Ball remains a solid threat to Rocks at all times. It can be handled, but Abomasnow is worthy of its high ranking in Nature Cup.
Jumpluff GrassFlying
  • The same can be said of JUMPLUFF, well within the Top 10 and worthy of it. Grasses AND most Bugs are in danger when Jumpie is buzzing around, though with the tradeoff of Rocks being extremely threatening and Ice damage being a very bad day at the office. But that’s what this game is around, right? The tradeoffs.
Yanmega BugFlying Vespiquen BugFlying
  • This meta also represents a rare opportunity for Flying Bugs to shine too. YANMEGA and YANMA get a great chance to flex their improved Aerial Ace and dominate most Bugs and Grasses with the Ace/Wing Attack combo, though again, Rocks MUST be avoided. Even VESPIQUEN emerges as a real threat, and probably even wants so-so Air Slash here (perhaps with Fell Stinger to bait and boost and Bug Buzz or Power Gem to close things out.
Heracross BugFighting Araquanid WaterBug Galvantula BugElectric
  • Several other funky Bugs to keep in mind. HERACROSS is a particularly good fit for this meta, with Counter for Rocks, Megahorn for Grasses, and even Rock Blast to keep other Bugs on edge too. ARAQUANID isn’t super comfortable with all the Rocks and even Grasses around, but it can outbulk many of them anyway while chewing away at them. GALVANTULA is probably best with its Electric Cup kit centered around Fury Cutter rather than its customary Volt Switch, akin to Charjabug. Just too many things weak to Cutter that also happen to resist Switch to ignore.

Roserade GrassPoison
  • ROSERADE with Poison Jab and Weather Ball (Fire) is a little ridiculous, with a 70%+ win percentage versus the likely core meta. Just a few Rocks and a very small handful of Bugs that can stand up to its unique and spammy profile. Watch out for this one!
Cradily RockGrass
  • CRADILY is in some ways perfect for this meta (Rock moves to turn the tables on Bugs and hit other Grasses for neutral, and Grass damage for opposing Rocks), and in other ways, much shakier than you might like (Fighting becomes very scary, and other things dealing neutral that other Rocks and/or Grasses would normally resist). If you’re going to run it, this might be a meta better suited for Shadow, the extra Attack adding on things like Beedrill, Regirock, Aurorus, Scolipede, and Crustle.
Arcanine (Hisuian) FireRock
  • HISUIAN ARCANINE breakout at last? With Fire Fang, it mostly overcomes the downsides of being critically weak to other Rocks and worryingly fragile versus steady Grass damage. Slap Rock Slide and either Wild Charge or Crunch on it and you’ve got a rather versatile spice option that looks likely to beat more than it loses to.
Shiftry GrassDark
  • If you’re considering SHIFTRY here, remember that it can run Hurricane, a very nice fit for this meta stuffed with Bugs and Grasses that are weak to Flying damage. Probably best paired with Leaf Blade to keep extreme pressure on Rocks too.

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

Tropius GrassFlying
  • Not a ton of big 75k options here, but #2 ranked TROPIUS is definitely one of them. Ice-flinging Abomasnow is about the only Grass it really has to worry about, and Rock-chucking Bugs are the only insects it needs to avoid as well, with its full Flying moveset of Air Slash and Aerial Ace. (Trop is very quietly one of the top beneficiaries of the recent Ace buff!) Add to that Leaf Blade to still overcome many Rocks, and it’s no surprise to see ol’ Banana Chin ranked so highly.
Aurorus RockIce
  • AURORUS also turns the tables on most Grasses, and smashes most Bugs too. Ironically, it’s mostly other Rocks that it most has to watch out for, though there are a few bulky Grasses that can flip the script too (so be wary of things like Serperior). AMAURA is fine too, but has nothign nearly as awe-inspiring as Aurorus’ Meteor Beam for closing power.
Carbink RockFairy
  • Yes, CARBINK remains very good here. No Bug can really take it on, and even the vast majoroty of other Rocks eventually falter. Its biggest threat by far is Grass types, most of which Binky has to hope for some kind of advantage to have a chance of coming out on top. That keeps it somewhat in check, but only to a degree. It’s listed as a Top 5 option and I can’t really argue with that despite that big drawback.
Tyrunt RockDragon
  • Tyrantrum just remains too flimsy and slow to work, but TYRUNT could be an unassuming hero in this meta. Its Dragon side makes Grass damage deal only neutral, and it strikes nearly the entire meta with spammy neutral damage of its own thanks to Dragon Tail and Dragon Claw, plus Ancient Power to smash most Bugs. It’s not the best at any particular thing, but it’s a great generalist that consistenly pulls winning records overall in the meta. Not a bad way to round out your team if you don’t know what to do with the last team spot. Not bad at all.
Archeops RockFlying
  • If you’re REALLY feeling frisky, ARCHEOPS and ARCHEN have the same Claw and Ancient combo as Tyrunt, but run Wing Attack for obvious advantages versus Bugs and Grasses, and being Flyers they blunt Grass and Bug damage coming back their way too. They shockingly pull winning records and this may be the one (and likely only) meta where I actually recommend them as potential spice picks. No really, I’m serious!

Trevenant GhostGrass
  • Probably not a surprise though to hear that TREVENANT is quite good here with its oft-unresisted Ghost damage and Seed Bomb that has famously been nerfed, but still nicely handles most Rock types. It barely feels the nerf in this here meta.

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

Buzzwole BugFighting Regirock Rock

Really just two: BUZZWOLE is pretty great with Counter for Rocks and widespread neutral damage, Lunge for Grasses, and Superpower for a scary closer, with only Flyers, things that resist Fighting (like Trevenant), and a handful of Bugs being true threats. I give it two thumbs up here, and PvPoke agrees with its being comfortably in the Top 10. The other option in this category is REGIROCK, which needs to avoid Fighting and heavy Grass damage, but not much else. Stone Edge and Focus Blast are a lethal combo in Nature Cup.

Alright, that’s it for this “brief” overview! Next time… we officially hit JRE Article #500 😱, where we’ll examine the past, present, and potential future (metas like Nature Cup!) of PvP. Until then, you can always find me on Twitter with regular GO analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And as always, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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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