GO Battle League Season 14 (or 10, in Niantic math) is upon us, and along with it, our now-customary move rebalance, and… it’s tiny!
This is one of the smallest new season rebalances we’ve ever gotten. No tweaks to existing moves, and only five total Pokémon receiving new moves at all (three of them getting the same move). Because of that, we have only a handful of things to discuss. Which is good since I’ve suddenly gone from 0 active analyses to over half a dozen in no time flat. Thanks for all the 11th hour news, Niantic! Love you too. 😝
So let’s see what we’ve got….
DARK WATERSJellicent WaterGhost
Arguably the biggest winner from this small update is JELLICENT, now sporting Surf, one of Niantic’s favorite moves to hand out of late. (Looking at you, Season 12 Lanturn!) On the surface, this should be a major boon to JelliBelli, right? Its biggest downside to date has been the struggle to put out Water-type damage, having to rely on underwhelming Bubble (generally less favored than Hex and its higher energy gains) or low damage Bubble Beam to deal any Water damage at all. Not even something like Hydro Pump in Jelli’s case!
With Surf in the mix, obviously that problem goes away… if you want it to. Do we? There’s only peril in giving up Shadow Ball (or Ice Beam, depending on meta/team coverage needs), so we’re talking about instead giving up Bubble Beam and its annoying, cumulative debuffing for straight-up damage instead.
Starting in Great League, at a quick look, Bubble Beam and Surf are in close competition. But I’m not so sure that’s true. Bubble Beam does wear down Skarmory, Cresselia, and Talonflame, and while those DO matter, consider that Surf instead washes away Diggersby and the BIG prize: Galarian Stunfisk.
And Surf pulls ahead a little more clearly with shields down. Stacked up against Bubble Beam, Surf represents a straight upgrade by tacking on Cresselia, Bastiodon, and a surer win versus Pelipper too, with NO notable new losses.
Even more impressively, in 2v2 shielding you might expect Bubble Beam to flip the script, with its compiling debuffs giving it an edge, right? Except it mostly doesn’t, instead performing no better than as a sidegrade to Surf. Bubble Beam does uniquely outlast Pelipper this time, as well as Shadow Swampert and, situationally, sometimes Shadow Alolan Ninetales as well. But Surf again takes down Galarian Stunfisk, plus Diggersby and Dunsparce. One could easily argue that the higher value is again with Surf’s unique trio of wins in that equation.
But as nice as those results are, Ultra League (and XL Jellicent) is a crystal clear upgrade. Check out 1v1 shielding, Bubble Beam versus Surf: the latter gains (in alphabetical order) Aurorus, Charizard, Gliscor, Alolan Muk, G-Stunfisk, Swampert, AND Sylveon, with no new losses!
And the gains are even more prominent with shields down, where Surf picks up NINE new wins: Aurorus, Gliscor, Granbull, Gyarados, Snorlax, Galarian Stunfisk, regular and Shadow Swampert, and the mirror match (versus Shadow Ball/Ice Beam Jellicent) as compared to Bubble Beam. And while things do even out more when comparing Bubble Beam and Surf in 2v2 shielding — Surf takes down G-Fisk, Dubwool, Tapu FIni, Gliscor, and Arorus, while BB instead outlasts Gyarados, Shadow CharmTales, Granbull, and Talonflame and Charizard — overall it’s clear that Surf is likely to lead to a new tidal wave for Ultra League Jellicent. Hope that, unlike your humble author, you went on the grind for Frillish during recent events!
LONG STORY SHORT, Jellicent is the clear (and arguably only true) winner in this limited update. I don’t know that it will suddenly surge up the charts, but where it was annoying before, it will be much moreso now. Ultra League Jelli in particular just became a higher priority.
ON A WHIM?Whimsicott GrassFairy
One oft-rumored change was that a number of Fairies would be receiving new-ish fast move Fairy Wind. In the end, that happened… but only for WHIMSICOTT. Not Cottonee, one of the stars of the (thankfully returning) Little League, but rarely-ever-seen Whimsicott. Hmmm… okay?
In fairness, Whimsicott isn’t really much worse off than other notable Charmers in Great League… on paper, it’s actually better and perhaps should get more attention than it already does. Being a Grass/Fairy type is a blessing and a curse, though seemingly more of the former in the current meta. Being weak to Ice means struggling versus stuff like Walrein and Froslass that at least some other Charmers can beat, and being weak to Flying makes stuff like even (Air Slash) Mandibuzz problematic. But on the plus side, the uniqueness of its Grass typing means also resisting Grass (beating Victreebel!), Water AND Ground (thus being uniquely able to overcome Swampert), and Electric too (beating Lanturn and, less obviously, DDeoxys that relies on popular Thunderbolt coverage). Whimsie has some truly unique and potent things going for it that other Charmers simply do not.
So yes, Whimsicott can matter. And Fairy Wind builds on that in positive ways. Whimsicott can now outrace some BIG names it couldn’t before: Shadow Alolan Ninetales, Diggersby, Lickitung, and the mighty Azumarill (packing Ice Beam!), though it does give up Snarl Mandibuzz and Toxicroak that manages to get a Mud Bomb bait and land Sludge Bomb. Still, overall a nice improvement that puts it up there with other Fairy Wind users.
Things are even brighter with shields down, with seven new wins as compared to Charm, and they’re all big names: Medicham, Swampert, Sableye, Obstagoon, Toxicroak, Vigoroth, and Walrein!
That said, Charm tends to do very well in 2v2 shielding, and such is the case here. Fairy Wind now represents a not insignificant dropoff, but that’s not entirely unexpected. If you decide to run Fairy Wind Whimsie, best to perhaps save it as a closer or switch rather than lead, as it runs best with a shield or two out of the way already.
LONG STORY SHORT, Whimsicott is both better (hello, hard walled Lanturn!) and worse (So. Much. Wing Attack!) in today’s Great League meta than it ever has been before. And Fairy Wind offers an overall upgrade with some BIG names it can cross off, including a large swath of the typical Play Pokémon tournament team. Not sure how spicy those players may want to get, but I truly think Whimsie may be worth another look coming off this update.
I can keep this one very brief, as I already talked about Boomburst back during Noivern Community Day (less than a month ago!) and specifically about various other Pokémon that could learn it.
No, it doesn’t help anything that just received it. FLYGON wants to keep Dragon Claw and Earth Power, or sometimes Stone Edge for coverage if you want to spice it up. KOMMO-O does not do well if it gives up Dragon Claw or Close Combat… there’s no room for Boomburst. And EXPLOUD, the one Pokémon which Boomburst fits so well thematically, is still trapped behind terrible, horrible, no good, very bad fast moves (Bite 😰 and Astonish 🤢), remains absolutely worthless, usually unable to even reach the energy for Boomburst before falling.
LONG STORY SHORT, no. Just no. SO many other things you could have tweaked instead over there at Niantic HQ, fellas.
Alright, I have several other analyses in progress: Fantasy Cup, Double Iron Bash Melmetal, Hawlucha, and more. It’s been a very busy 24 hours! So I’ll go get to that, and say ciao for now… but you’ll be seeing a lot of me in the coming days as I catch up!
Until next time, you can find me on Twitter or Patreon. 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. Best of luck this season, and catch you next time!