A PvP Analysis on Shadow Groudon (and friends)

Team GO Rocket is back to taunt us, but as per usual, their arrival is not entirely unwelcome, as it brings a new crop of Shadow Pokémon. The professor may be begging us to purify them, but we competitive trainers know that’s not always in our best interests, right? Can we make use of some of these new powerful options in PvP? Short answer is YES. Long answer is… well, throughout the rest of this article! But first, our Bottom Line Up Front:


  • Shadow Groudon is undoubtedly viable in Master League as a solid sidegrade to the non-Shadow versions that have been shaking up Master League for years.
  • However, also consider that Shadow Groudon fits in Great League as well, and while not something that’s about to shake up the Open meta, I DO believe there’s more than enough promise here to strongly consider holding it at or below 1500 CP for a while.
  • The other Shadows are less exciting, though Shadow Mewtwo remains a sidegrade option as it’s always been, and Shadow Pidgeot stands to provide interesting sidegrade potential as well.
  • There is one non-Shadow Pokémon that is well worth grinding for in the wild (for the first time!) as well. Can you guess what it is?

Alright, enough teasing. Let’s get into the analysis, starting with the Legendary that we’ll spend most of the article looking at….

GROUDON Stats and Moves

Groudon (Shadow) Ground

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
135 (135 High Stat Product) 117 (117 High Stat Product) 134 (137 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 11-15-13, 1500 CP, Level 13)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
174 (173 High Stat Product) 153 (152 High Stat Product) 127 (126 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 6-15-14, 2499 CP, Level 22)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
239 204 184

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; 4652 CP at Level 50)

Groudon is a pretty well known commodity in Master League by now, where it clocks in the Top 10 in stat product, though it’s much more due to high overall CP rather than being particularly bulky. Its final stats are basically the same as the new Dialga Origin Forme, with the exact same Attack and HP and about 2.5 more Defense. Probably a better gauge of its (lack of) bulk is looking at Ultra League, where it’s on the same tier as superstars like Aerodactyl, Pangoro, Scyther, and Alolan Exeggutor. You know, real powerhouses of the format. (Not. 😅) It has the Attack stat of Machamp, Magnezone, and Magmar, with the flimsiness of things like Scizor, Bisharp, and… well, Machamp, Magnezone, and Magmar. 🙃

That said, Groudon has a lot of good things going for it. I mean, stats alone don’t sink things I mentioned up above like Machamp, Magnezone, and Scizor. Moves and/or typing can make up for it. Ground can be a shaky defensive typing depending on meta, resisting Rock, Poison, and Electric (2x), but being weak to Grass, Ice, and Water. Those weaknesses are far less of an issue in Master League than lower Leagues, which is part of why Groudon has found success only when maxed out with the big boys. But another big part of it, of course, is the moves, which have gotten better and better over time thanks to eventual exclusive moves.


  • Mud ShotGround type, 1.5 DPT, 4.5 EPT, 1.0 CoolDown
  • Dragon TailDragon type, 4.33 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 1.5 CD

There was a time where Dragon Tail was considered a legit alternative to the generally preferred Mud Shot, with obvious applications in Master League versus all the other Dragons out there. But these days, it really is Mud Shot that you’ll almost always see. Groudon’s primary role in Master League is to kill Dialga dead, and it still beats down most other (non-Flying) Dragons with Mud Shot powering out its charge moves anyway. (Notable exceptions: Palkia and Zygarde Complete, and the Giratinas in 2v2 shielding.) Yes, it can generally handle all of those other Dragons besides Palkia with Dragon Tail, but Dialga is no longer a guarantee, and you start losing other things like Mewtwo, Metagross, Mamoswine, Swampert, and basically all the top Fairies. Dragon Tail has a superior showing with shields down, and does allow reaching for special wins like Ho-Oh and Yveltal in some even shield scenarios, but generally Mud Shot is the best way to go, and is the fast move I’ll be focusing on for this analysis.

In large part, that’s due to how quickly it can spam Groudon’s charge moves….

– Legacy Move


  • Fire PunchFire type, 55 damage, 40 energy
  • Precipice BladesGround type, 130 damage, 60 energy
  • EarthquakeGround type, 110 damage, 65 energy
  • Fire BlastFire type, 140 damage, 80 energy
  • Solar BeamGrass type, 150 damage, 80 energy

Groudon has TWO Legacy moves now — Fire Punch was added in May of 2020, and Precipice Blades added about a year ago during Hoenn Tour — and they both now represent Groudon’s preferred charge moves. Fire Punch is not only nice and spammy, but it provides key coverage versus Grass and Ice types. But of course, one of its main functions is — being 20 energy cheaper than any of Groudon’s other moves — baiting shields and setting up a closer, ideally aforementioned signature move Precipice Blades. It’s an overused phrase in PvP, but Blades really IS strictly better than Earthquake, hitting for 20 more damage for 5 less energy. One could make an argument for Fire Blast (I guess) or Solar Beam for coverage and a big nasty surprise, but they’re not nearly as energy efficient as Blades. And as we’ll see in a minute, even some of the things you might hope to beat with Solar Beam (Kyogre, Mamoswine, enemy Groudons), you actually beat with Precipice Blades and NOT Beam.

I suppose that’s as good a time as any to get the sims, eh? Let’s start where Groudon has already made a name for itself… in Master League.


There’s a reason Groudon is ranked comfortably inside the Top 10 in ML… many reasons, actually. In addition to dominating Dialga (and the other big Steels) as you’d expect, Groudon also handles all the format’s big Fairies, fiery Reshiram and half-Electric Zekrom, both Giratinas, Snorlax, fellow Grounds Garchomp, Rhyperior, and even dangerous Mamoswine and Swampert, and overpowers Mewtwo as well. There are clear flaws, of course. Groudon must avoid Waters (aside from Swampert, as mentioned) and without Dragon Tail, is pretty powerless versus anything airborne (losing to every Flying type in the core meta except Togekiss). Additionally, Zarude and Ice Punch Ursaluna are problematic for obvious reasons, and like many other things, Groudon falls to Zygarde Complete as well. But it does far more good than not.

Now for our first comp, we have Shadow Groudon. which has the looks on the surface of a slight upgrade! And there IS good to be had here, with Kyogre among the potential gains. You have to get it to throw a shield at Fire Punch, yes, but if you do, it’s a win whether Kyogre tries to farm you completely down (as it can do with non-Shadow Groudon) just the same as it wins if Kyogre tries to throw Surf. That’s a BIG pickup. But the other unique win shown for Shadow Groudon is actually a sim flub, as both Shadow AND non-Shadow can power through Ursaluna, though non-Shadow does require an extra charge move to finish it off. Similarly, non-Shadow Groudon shows unique wins over the Giratinas, and while it CAN go straight Blades to beat Altered (and Shadow Groudon falls just short), Shadow Groudon CAN flip that if it gets a successful bait. Origin Forme Giratina, however, IS probably a legit pickup for non-Shadow Groudon and usually out of reach for Shadow, though even that CAN flip depending on bait calls.

However, in other even shield scenarios, Shadow Groudon is a bit clearer of an upgrade. In 2v2 shielding, Shadow shows a unique win over Ho-Oh and may have an easier time beating it, but regular Groudon can too in a very similar fashion. (The sims just get a little wonky on timing.) Non-Shadow Groudon CAN beat Ursaluna, but has to get the timing of charge moves just right and requires four of them no matter what, whereas Shadow Groudon can even go straight Blades and win. Another big pickup is Zarude, which Shadow Groudon beats before it can fire off a third, KO Power Whip, whereas non-Shadow loses that race.

The BIG difference, however, is with shields down. Shadow Groudon can overpower Zygarde Complete, Swampert, Palkia (including Origin!), Togekiss, and Mewtwo, whereas the only unique win for non-Shadow is Mamoswine.

So where does that leave us? Put simply, Shadow Groudon is undoubtedly viable in Master League. It has some clear advantages in certain shielding scenarios, with Mud Shot/Precipice Blades in particular able to overpower many things. It has its flaws (what doesn’t?), but actually seems to have greater capacity to wiggle out of tough spots than non-Shadow. I think Shadow Groudon clocks in as at least a solid sidegrade for Master League enthusiasts.


I actually don’t have a lot to say at this level, as even at its very best, Groudon is a poor fit in Ultra League. Yes, the Shadow version DOES represent its best, with new wins like Venusaur and Tapu Fini in 1shield, Steelix and Shadow CharmTales with shields down, and Annihilape in both. And it loses things along the way too, like Obstagoon and Umbreon with shields down, and Cobalion, Venusaur, and Annihilape in 2v2 shielding, with NO notable gains.

Sorry folks… still a non-starter in Ultra. But we’re not quite done yet….


Not being able to fit under 1500 CP even at Research level (Level 15), Groudon has never been able to (legitimately) squeeze into Great League… until now! Shadow Legendaries have that floor of 6 for IVs, but even with that, Groudon easily fits all the way up to Level 13 or even 13.5, and even when caught weather boosted, it conveniently is caught at Level 13!

Not only that, but Shadow Groudon is better than (a theoretical) non-Shadow Groudon in Great League anyway, with additional wins versus Trevenant and Medicham (yes, even with Ice Punch). That said, in Open GL it pulls an unimpressive 40% winrate, but hey, that’s over twice as good as Shadow Kyogre, at least, and still places it among the more valuable Legendaries in GL. (Not top tier, of course, but viable tier, at the least.) You can kind of think of it as an alternate Diggersby, only Shadow Groudon is overall slightly better than Diggs with a similar moveset, thanks in large part to NOT being saddled with Diggersby’s Normal subtyping (and weakness to Fighting that goes with it). Groudon can beat Fighters like Annihilape and Poliwrath that terrorize Diggs, and overpower stuff like Skarmory and Venusaur that Diggersby struggles with as well; conversely, Diggersby instead outlasts Umbreon, Trevenant and Lickitung with their resisted Ghost damage, and certain high power Charmers like Shadow Alolan Ninetales. Still, Diggersby has certainly been impactful in Great League, especially in Limited/Cup metas, and where it’s good, I expect Shadow Groudon will emerge as a good option as well. Formats like Retro Cup, Mountain Cup, Summer Cup… and formats likely to return one day where even Diggersby isn’t available, like the overdue Love Cup! (Groudon is decidedly red, after all. ❤️)

For Master League fans, the temptation to max out a good Shadow Groudon is obvious and I won’t even argue it. If you’re going to get good use out of it there and have a good one to max AND the resources to do so, who am I to argue? But let’s be real: most of us will NOT be landing a hundo (or even near-hundo) Shadow Groudon, and/or lack those kind of XL Candy (and perhaps even regular candy, not to mention stardust!) resources. Maxing and second moving a Shadow Legendary is crazy expensive! For the many of us in that boat, take solace in the fact that you can hold it below 1500 CP and still likely get some fun future use out of your new crimson toy. I look forward to the opportunity!


The banner image says “Groudon and friends“, after all, so what else we got? Glad you asked. These are perhaps not worthy of an article in and of themselves, but are well worth a quick look, as they’re relevant to this “Taken Over” Event as well.

Darmanitan (Shadow) Fire
  • Among the other new Shadows, this is actually a pretty ho-hum batch. DARMANITAN remains on the fringe as a Shadow just as much as its non-Shadow version. (And across multiple Leagues.) It seems as though it may have the most promise in Ultra League, where it consistently comes out ahead of non-Shadow Darmie across even shield scenarios, but even then it doesn’t pull ahead by more than an extra win or two, and is never strictly better… there are always trade-offs. If you already like and use Darmanitan in PvP, then sure, you’ll probably like having the Shadow version on hand. But IMO, this is mostly one for PvE?
Gothitelle (Shadow) Psychic
  • I’m just gonna say it: Shadow versions of anything in the GOTHITELLE or REUNICLUS remain big ol’ piles of nope.

Pidgeot (Shadow) NormalFlying
  • One Shadow that DID pique my own interest is the potential of Shadow PIDGEOT. It has at times been crazy dominant in even Open PvP, and is still a superstar in several Limited metas. I ran a TON of sims on this one, but let’s just sum it up this way. When it comes to the standard Pidgeot moveset of Wing Attack (or Steel Wing now that that’s gotten interesting) and Feather Dance/Brave Bird, Shadow consistently underperforms non-Shadow, except sometimes in 0v0 shield matchups thanks to raw power. IF you want to run it that way, I think Ultra League may actually be your best shot, as it’s closer to a sidegrade than downgrade there, though that’s one heck of an expensive project, requiring fully maxing out a Shadow. 😬 A more affordable option would be keeping it in Great League, but dropping Feather Dance and instead running Aerial Ace, maximizing straight damage output. In THAT configuration, it outperforms non-Shadow with the same AA/BB moveset (gaining stuff like Mantine, Altaria, and even Shadow Alolan Sandslash. Not sure it’ll really surpass non-Shadow Bird Jesus in any format, but at least it has intriguing potential and could scare the pants off opponents in the right Limited meta. Or maybe build a purified Pidgeot with Return? It doesn’t have nearly the same high ceiling as Brave Bird, of course, but hey, it finally gives Pidgeot a non-Flying charge move (with STAB, at that), and there are absolutely metas where that alone will make it a little more dynamic and interesting.
Mewtwo (Shadow) Psychic
  • I’ve written about Shadow MEWTWO before, most recently last year, and while those analyses are a little dated, in truth not a ton has changed, at least in Master League where it seems most relevant. (That remains a pretty stale meta, after all, no?) I think the most notable things to add on to that now are that Focus Blast Shadow Mewtwo gains things like Metagross and new-since-last-analysis Origin (and regular) Palkia depending in shields, but also loses stuff like the improved-since-last-analysis Kyogre, Therian Landorus, and Xerneas that regular Mewtwo can instead overcome. A sidegrade, at best. The overall gains are more noticable with the (admittedly not as popular) Shadow Ball variants, with Shadow Mewtwo gaining things like Dialga, Origin Giratina, Mamoswine, Melmetal, Metagross, and Rayquaza while giving up only Solgaleo, Xerneas, Lugia, and Therian Landorus to do it. (And the gap is wider in 2v2 shielding, with Shadow taking down Dragonite, Garchomp (sometimes, at least), Swampert, Gyarados, and both Origin and regular Palkia, while non-Shadow Mewtwo compensates with only Lando-T and Ho-Oh… though also worth noting is that Shadow Mewtwo performs notably worse than regular with shields down, so… tradeoffs again.) I know people have already found success with Shadow Mewtwo in Master League, but not sure if it’s worth building a new one in this day and age or just holding it as a super spicy Great League option. Your call, dear reader!

That’s about it for Shadows, but there’s also ONE more interesting addition you can make to your PvP arsenal during this event….

Vullaby DarkFlying Mandibuzz DarkFlying
  • I believe this event marks the first time VULLABY has been available in the wild. It’s been in eggs, GBL rewards, and on rare occasions as a Research reward, that last one representing (until now) our only chance of acquiring a Vullaby that fits in Little League, where it’s had some impact in the past. But even that required trading, as even the lowest IVs possible from research makes a Level 15 too large for Little League. With Vullaby now in the wild, #1 IVs are achievable for the first time, which is neat. But ever neater? Now you can get yourself a Little League MANDIBUZZ, which is bulkier and has moves better fitting Little League (and PvP in general), able to utilize multiple different movesets to achieve success. Look for them to be darkening the skies next time Little League rolls around, and join in on the fun if you manage to catch one low enough. (You ideally want one around Level 9 or lower to ensure it fits.) Good luck!


Not as splashy a batch of Shadows as we’ve had in past events, but still some worthwhile targets here: Shadow Groudon (for Great League?), of course, as well as Shadow Mewtwo and Shadow Pidgeot, and whatever wild Vullabys you can find. Good luck!

Until next time, my friends, you can always find me you can always find me on Twitter with regular Pokémon GO analysis nuggets, or Patreon if you like.

Good hunting, raiding, AND battling during this event, Pokéfriends! Do stay safe out there, 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!

Further reading

Popular today

Latest articles

Support us

Buy GO Hub merch

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