A PvP Analysis on the GBL Season 8 Move Rebalance

Hello again, fellow travellers! It’s that time again: a BIG move shakeup has hit us again, and there’s a TON to cover, so let’s get going!

A disclaimer: my analysis, as you all probably know by now, is strictly from a PvP usability standpoint. I’m not here to discuss the viability of these Pokémon in raids or gym battles. There are plenty of folks out there that can do THAT already! I’m just a PvP guy, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on here.

This was originally posted on Reddit here, so if you enjoy this article head over there and give it a like. Now, without further ado, let’s dive in…

(Feather) Dancing on your grave

So yes, this was primarily a Poison update, which means that naturally, we are starting with… a bird? Absolutely, because the majority of conversation I’ve seen on the move shakeup so far has been on a certain Dragon move (we’ll get there soon!) and the newly broken PIDGEOT and its FEATHER DANCE:

Feather Dance

Flying-type Charge Move

Damage: 35
Energy Req’d: 45
Effects: Decrease Opponent Attack -2 Stages (100% Chance)

Pidgeot NormalFlying

So to date, Pidgeot HAS been a Pokémon slowly on the rise. First it had Brave Bird greatly boosted back in July of last year, and then Gust was added to its arsenal just a couple months later. Since then it’s popped up here and there in certain limited metas and even in open GBL. It’s not the greatest thing out there, but it HAS been pretty solid, even having legit play in Ultra League for those who make the XL grind to get it there.

But now? Now the slow climb shifts into a steep ascent. Because to this point, Pidgeot has been stuck with the very definition of mediocre charge move with Aerial Ace, the move that deals only 55 damage for 45 energy and makes you feel bad every time you have to use it. Enter Feather Dance, which costs the same 45 energy but does so much more with it. Yes, it will still feel a little bad when it is let through and deals an underwhelming amount of damage, but that’s only part of the story. The REAL tale is in that guaranteed and MASSIVE nerf to the opponent. For reference, the only other moves in the game that can double nerf the opponent’s Attack at once are Octazooka and Leaf Tornado, and they are both very popular moves for having even the CHANCE of triggering… because it is only a 50% chance. Feather Dance does it all the time, every time. So whether you successfully bait out a shield with it or not, its effects are going to be immediately felt.

And so too can the effects of adding it to Pidgeot in place of Ace be immediately seen, to the tune of over a 25% increase in win rate and a whopping fourteen potential new wins: Swampert, Whiscash, Wigglytuff, Charmtales, Altaria, Pelipper, Mandibuzz, Medicham, Mew, Obstagoon, Hypno, Defense Deoxys, and even Ice slingers Azumarill and friggin’ Lapras, that last one of which is particularly insane. Now, the natural assumption is that nearly all of these require winning in a manner similar to Talonflame: bait with the stat altering Feather Dance (Flame Charge, in Talon’s case), and then close it out with a massive Brave Bird to the face. Your mileage may vary depending on how savvy the opponent is with their shielding decisions. Except that, well, Pidgeot still looks incredible even if it NEVER fires a BB. 😱 You lose some of the juiciest matchups like Lapras, Hypno, Azumarill, DD, Charmtales, and Ferrothorn, but keep everything else and can actually GAIN new wins versus Vigoroth and the newly buffed Shadow Nidoqueen. That’s over a 62% win rate against the Great League core meta using nothing but the underpowered bait move. That, my friends, is insanity.

Oh, and what of Ultra League, you ask? Yeah, it’s similarly busted. In Open UL you’re looking at a 66% increase in win rate: 10 new wins including Cresselia, Charizard, Shadow Machamp, Granbull, Togekiss, Toxicroak, Obstagoon, Shadow Mewtwo, and even Altered Forme Giratina… with either fast move! If possible, the improvement is even more staggering in Premier Cup, where Pidgeot jumps to over a 77% winrate with new wins versus Kingdra, Gyarados, Mandibuzz, Typhlosion, and Umbreon in addition to what I listed in Open UL, plus things that make NO sense at all like traditional Flying slayers Skarmory and Excadrill! As with Great League, it is still OP even with just Feather Dance!

So what’s the verdict? The effects of Feather Dance almost seem too good to be true, to the point that I legitimately wonder if Niantic may roll this one back a bit. But until that potentially happens, enjoy the ride, because Feather Dance Pidgeot has crashed onto the scene in Great and Ultra Leagues in a BIG way now, able to beat even some of the best Flying counters out there, and can excel (though obviously in a slightly reduced fashion) even without having to rely on big bad Brave Birds and sticking with JUST Feather Dance. “Feather Dancing On Your Grave” may be the most apropos title I have ever given to any section of any article ever because Pidgeot is going to be doing a LOT of that in at least the near term while the meta adjusts or snaps completely and forces a nerf. This move is completely nutso, folks. Strap in for a wild ride!

Tail flail

“My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
– Smaug, The Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities, The Hobbit

So at times like these when Niantic steadfastly refuses to release the stats of impending move changes until they actually go live, after I finish rocking myself in a corner in the fetal position for a while (a writer/reporter does these things quite a lot when denied critical, need-to-know information 😅), I crawl to my desk and start speculating a little bit on what the moves COULD be when released, just to get my mind in the right place. Not to toot my own horn, but I actually had most of these moves pegged dead-on; I predicted Poison Jab would remain a little short of being a Counter clone ✔️, that Cross Poison would become a clone of Night Slash ✔️, that Acid Spray would see only a 5 energy cost reduction ✔️, and of COURSE that Normal Castform would have its Weather Ball changed to Rock! (Okay, I’m lying on that last one.)

But one move I almost completely ignored in my brainstorming was Dragon tail. I guessed it would become something like a Waterfall clone, something akin to 4 Damage Per Turn and 2.67 Energy Per Turn. So like pretty much everybody, I was gobsmacked when I scanned the new stats at eight minutes past the changes going live yesterday (yes, I remember the exact time I stumbled across THIS unexpected revelation!) and saw the base damage of Tail jumped from 9 all the way up to 13. I had to do some quick math to figure out that equated to GREATER than 4.0 DPT, and then found that the energy generation reduction was very small… down to just 3.0 EPT from the previous 3.33. That is basically a straight upgrade and one with no equivalent in the game. No other moves deal more than 4.0 DPT base damage except Charm (5.33 DPT) and Razor Leaf (5.0 DPT and Dragon Tail generate energy 50% faster than either of them. On paper, it’s a strictly better move than even Dragon Breath now! I did NOT see that coming. At all.

I do say “on paper” though because there’s one factor that isn’t discussed nearly as much as strict damage output or energy generation that is nonetheless just as important: move cooldown. Basically, this is how fast a fast move actually is, how long it takes to get through the animation of one and move on to the next in succession. It’s easy to think of moves with a low cooldown… these are your spammy moves that require only half a second (one PvP “turn”) each, like Water Gun, Lick, Lock-On, and yes, Dragon Breath. These are moves that leave you hammering on your screen as fast as possible to pile up the fast move damage and/or race to charge moves. Then there are moves with long cooldown times, like Confusion and Volt Switch and Gust that take 2 full seconds (4 PvP turns) to complete just one “fast” move, or Incinerate with its painful *2.5* second windup. These moves generally deal very heavy fast move damage and are great to “sneak” in extras of while the opponent tries to fire off a charge move, and while they usually have at least decent energy generation that go with them, they can be outraced by moves with the same (or sometimes even lower) energy generation and lower cooldown periods. If that seems odd, just think about it logically. If two Pokémon have the same charge move costing, say, 30 energy, and both have a fast move that generates 3 Energy Per Turn, that means they need 10 turns (5 real-time seconds) to reach 30 energy exactly and fire that charge move. But if one of their fast moves has a cooldown period of 1 second and the other takes 2 seconds, the Pokémon with the “faster” fast move will be able to fire off their charge move first, because it can do so at the five-second mark, while the Pokémon with the 2-second-cooldown move will only be halfway through the animation of the third and final fast move required to hit that 30 energy mark.

Or, to put it much more simply, a Dragonite with Dragon Breath will always be ready to fire off Dragon Claw before an otherwise completely identical Dragonite with Dragon Tail, as shown here, because the Dragon Breath one reaches the 35 energy needed while the Dragon Tail one is still waiting for the cooldown of Dragon Tail to end. And that nicely demonstrates the much more simple point I am trying to make: Dragon Breath is less awkward to use because it has only a 0.5 second (one-turn) cooldown, while Dragon Tail’s cooldown is 1.5 seconds (3 turns). Sometimes, especially later in matches, that may not matter as leftover energy can allow DT to catch up. But especially in footrace-type matchups where you’re both desperately trying to hit critical charge moves before the other guy, Dragon Breath still stakes a claim. So like I said, on paper, Dragon Tail is better, but I don’t think Dragon Breath is going anywhere. For Pokémon that have both, I think DB may still reign supreme, though both options are undoubtedly viable now!

My colleague MeteorAsh here at GO Hub just wrote up a full breakdown on Dragon Tail post-update, so I encourage you to check that out for a deeper dive on several of the things that have it, but I wanted to take time to highlight that I think there’s equal room for it and Breath to coexist, and briefly mention some of the more notable Pokémon that don’t have the option of Breath and what the buff to Tail does for their prospects:

Dragalge PoisonDragon

In Great League, DRAGALGE misses the old 3.33 EPT versus Machamp and Scrafty, who can actually outrace it now, but it gains many new wins with the damage buff: Mandibuzz, Umbreon, Swampert, Talonflame, Pelipper, Jellicent, Vigoroth, AND Shiftry. I somehow neglected to capture former DT stats for Ultra League (doh!), but I can say that at level it wants Outrage (rather than the Gunk Shot it prefers in Great League) and looks like [a contender in Open Ultra, and perhaps [much more than that in Premier. After lamenting how it was stuck with middling fast moves last time I analyzed it, it’s looking like much less of a drag now. (Oh, the puns, they hurt!)

Steelix SteelGround

Steelix has been waiting to break out again after being surpassed by all the more well-rounded Steels that have come along after it, but I’m sorry to say that this seems more like a sidegrade than a true upgrade for it. In Great League, it can now beat Drifblim, Tropius, and Defense Deoxys, but it drops former wins against Sableye and Alolan Marowak to get there. And in Ultra League, while it picks up a close win over Drifblim again, the needle otherwise doesn’t move. Steelix is still more solid than people seem to give it credit for, but this update does not rocket it into superstardom.

Groudon Ground

While Groudon is still better overall in Master League with Mud Shot, Dragon Tail is now a very legit alternative. Mud Shot beats Steels like Dialga and Metagross and outraces Mewtwo, Sylveon, and Mamoswine, but Dragon Tail takes out Dragonite (with Breath or Tail), Landorus, DB Gyarados, and the sure-to-emerge Dragon Tail version of Garchomp.

Lugia PsychicFlying

Wide speculation is that Dragon Tail was tweaked primarily because of Lugia, so how is IT affected? Depends on which league… it starts out bad in Great League but gets better as you scale up. The issue in Great League is that Lugia really misses the higher energy of old DT and now loses to Abomasnow, Skarmory, Shiftry, Alolan Marowak, AND Defense Deoxys, all of which it could beat before… the only notable gain is Talonflame. In Ultra League it more or less breaks even, beating Togekiss now but losing Alolan Muk and Scizor. But it is in Master League where Lugia really soars now, picking up potential wins over Snorlax, Mud Slap Rhyperior, Altered Giratina, Ho-Oh, Palkia, and Blizzard Kyogre that it didn’t get before, with Mewtwo as the only new loss due to the drop in energy for Dragon Tail. For those who have been waiting for Lugia to make a big dent in Master, the future is now.

And yes, as hinted above, Dragon Tail suddenly becomes a nice alternative on Garchomp… potentially a bigger deal than the exclusive move it’s getting on Community Day. I DO still want to analyze that, but the 6th is coming up fast and I may run out of time, so do check out MeteorAsh’s analysis in case I don’t make it in time! 😬

So what’s the verdict? The likely primary target of the boost to Dragon Tail, Lugia, definitely appreciates this buff very much in Master League, where it finally has a chance to emerge as a top option now. The boost brings others up with it, like Dragalge, but the jury is still out on whether Dragon Breath users that have Tail as an alternative want to make the change or stand pat, mostly because of Breath’s shorter cooldown leading to winning races more easily. Time will tell on that one.

Poison Blab

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?” – William Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice: Act III, scene I)

Finally, we get to some Poison stuff. First up is the move I was most curious to see: Poison Jab. To this point, it’s been really the only decent Poison fast move, so it’s a good thing it was an above-average move even pre-buff. 3.0 is considered exactly average for a fast move for both DPT and EPT, and Jab was right on that mark in damage and sitting at 3.5 for EPT. Some were speculating that it would rise to the level of Counter, the best fast move in PvP at 4.0 DPT and 3.5 EPT, but instead, it went up to a more modest 3.5 DPT. So not Counter, but still the only fast move in the game other than Counter that is above 3.0 in both Damage AND Energy Per Turn, and that makes it really, really good.

How good? Let’s do some quick (well, “quick” 😅) comps:

Skuntank PoisonDark

– Starting with Skuntank. Like its more famous (but less in shape) cousin Alolan Muk, Skuntank is a Dark/Poison-type with just one weakness (to Ground damage). Unlike A-Muk, it relies more on Poison-type damage, lacking A-Muk’s Snarl and being stuck with Bite as its only, low energy fast move. Instead, it wants to run with–you guessed it!–Poison Jab. The problem has long been that despite its name, Skuntank is NOT particularly tanky, having good HP but sub-100 Defense in Great League. But with the newly buffed Poison Jab and an array of decent charge moves, Stank is looking pretty good now. With Crunch as the de facto #1 charge move, the choice beyond that is coverage with Flamethrower (with new wins versus Cresselia, DDeoxys, Charmtales, Scrafty, and Drifblim), STAB Sludge Bomb (all those same new wins plus Obstagoon), or intriguing option Return, which matches the new wins versus Cress, DD, Blim, and Charmtales and gets new wins against Lapras and the mirror match, but does fall short versus Goon, Scrafty, Umbreon, and Vigoroth. And this is all in addition to already beating the likes of Azumarill, A-Wak, Hypno, Mandibuzz, and of course the vast majority of Grasses and Charmers.

And the Skuntank fun doesn’t end there! There’s also Shadow Skuntank, which is a strict upgrade as well with new wins versus Drifblim, Jellicent, Charmtales, and even Altaria… though Shadow Stank, pre- AND post-buff, is overwhelmed by the Charmers and loses to a couple of Fighters as well.

And one more: Ultra League Skuntank, which requires an XL grind, yes, but wears Ultra pretty well, don’t you think? New Poison Jab only nets it two new wins of note, but they’re big ones: Drifblim and Talonflame. It was already low key great at terrorizing Grasses, Ghosts, Psychics, Charmers, and most of its fellow Darks in Ultra anyway.

Tentacruel WaterPoison

Tentacruel is a ‘mon that has made some good impacts in certain limited metas, but has mostly failed to break out in open GBL due to being more of a specialist than a wide-ranging threat. It also takes some getting used to, as it runs off Poison Jab and Acid Spray to debuff and hopefully bait out a big closing Hydro Pump. That can work wonders, but also can blow up in the face of inexperienced or impatient players. The other awkward part about it is that Poisons like to pick on Grasses, but Tentacruel, unfortunately, takes neutral damage back due to being part Water and therefore struggles more than you’d like in that role. Thankfully, buffed Jabs help shore that up, bringing home wins against Meganium, Razor Leaf Tropius, and even Shadow Victreebel, plus Mandibuzz as a nice bonus. Yes, SOME of that is due to Acid Spray’s slight cost reduction, but the bulk of that is a better Poison Jab. And Tentachtulhu was already low-key good in Ultra League too, but now it should catch a few more eyes with new wins against Ferrothorn, Alolan Muk, *Melmetal* (yeah, that big Pump can do crazy things), as well as regular and Shadow Dragonite. I am NOT recommending players without Tentacruel experience go out and build one and run it out there without practice in GBL, but if Tenta was already your style, I think you’re gonna like how much better it can be now.

Muk Poison

Kanto Muk gets a modest boost in Great League, with new (albeit close) wins against Cresselia and Drifblim.

Grimer Poison

But if you’re looking for spice, consider Grimer, which gains wins against Obstagoon and Lapras to add to its already impressive résumé that includes Charmers, Grasses, Fighters, and total domination of Azumarill.

Seviper Poison

Speaking of spice, I bet you have never seriously considered Seviper in PvP… I know I haven’t. But perhaps we should! With the improved Poison Jab AND buffed Poison Fang (more on that in a minute), it can now beat Alolan Marowak, Mandibuzz, Umbreon, Drifblim, Galvantula, and Altaria! And it too dominates Azumarill, Grasses, Charmers, and threatens Psychics and Ghosts with Crunch (beating Froslass and Mew, for instance). Seviper is actually looking really solid now!

Toxicroak PoisonFighting

Generally, I think Toxicroak is still going to want to run with Counter, but it’s worth noting that the Poison Jab/Dynamic Punch variant picks up new wins against things like Galvantula, Lapras, and the mirror match vs Counter Toxi. Hmmm. 🤔

Seaking Water

I have been an unapologetic triple Legacy Seaking trainer for several GBL seasons now. I had a Drill Run Seaking that I happily invested my first Fast and Charge Elite TMs into way back, and it has been an absolute delight to deploy since then in Kanto Cup and even open GBL. I have found that it performs better than sims show, as it’s a fantastic support ‘mon on the right team to debuff with Icy Wind and then potentially swap out or go for the kill itself depending on the situation. And finishing things off itself is much easier now, as the third Legacy move in that mix is Poison Jab! Whereas I learned by painful experience that Seaking can NEARLY finish off Abomasnow and Froslass but often falls agonizingly short, with the boosted Jab it is able to finish them both off, and can now singlehandedly take down Politoed, Pelipper, and Umbreon too! Get ready to see more of these funky fishes showing up as people catch on to its fun potential.

Roserade GrassPoison

For those wondering (like me!), while Poison Jab Roserade is an intriguing prospect, and is technically better now with new wins versus Umbreon and Froslass, it’s still noticeably better with Bullet Seed.

Beedrill BugPoison

I got my start as a PvP analyst/writer years ago by keying in on budget (“thrifty!”) picks, and so I have long touted Beedrill as underrated, even before it ever got Drill Run that opened more eyes to its potential. So it’s good to see that it too gets better with the update, picking up wins versus Cresselia and, incredibly, Talonflame! This is in addition to already getting Azumarill and a host of Grasses, Charmers, Fighters, and even Lapras and Registeel. And Shadow Bee is a BIG improvement, gaining Talonflame again, Air Slash Tropius, Sableye, Scrafty, Stunfisk, Politoed, Mandibuzz, and Froslass on its pre-buff self. Except for DDeoxys and those spiffy Lapras and Registeel wins that non-Shadow Beedrill gets, Shadow Beedrill beats everything non-Shadow does and adds all those listed wins to it, along with Umbreon (which it beat even pre-buff). Beedrill, and especially the Shadow version, look straight up meta now in Great League!

So what’s the verdict? Not surprisingly, anything with Poison Jab is blessed by the straight damage buff. In particular, I think this brings Beedrill and Skuntank (normal AND Shadow versions of each) into full GBL prominence, makes some surprises like Seviper full on viable as well and makes spicy picks like Seaking and XL Grimer even spicier and more worthy of respect. This may not have been the Counter-like buff some were counting on, but this is still a GREAT improvement that elevates many Pokémon and makes Charmers and many other things sweat.

Float like a Butterfly…

Ah, Poison Fang, the very definition of “bait move”.

Low energy cost? Check… it’s just 35 energy, tied for the lowest cost in the game.
Low damage? Also check… while some moves like Aqua Tail and Dragon Claw and Cross Chop and others deal 50 damage for that 35 energy, Body Slam and Weather Ball deal 60, and the please-don’t-notice-and-nerf-it-Niantic Leaf Blade deals a whopping 70, Poison Fang deals a mere — well, let’s be honest about it: lousy 40 damage, the same as Brick Break, Bone Club, and Shadow Punch. Heck, even X-Scissor deals 45 damage! Still, in the right hands, even those other low-powered moves can do some good work… Bone Club somehow works wonders on Alolan Marowak, and Shadow Punch can be terrifying on Haunter and Gengar.

Golbat PoisonFlying

In some ways, the best Poison Fang users have always worked in a manner similar to Haunter/Gengar too. Golbat is the Poison Fang user you’re most likely to have actually encountered in PvP at some point because just like those big Ghosts, it uses Fang to set up a crushing Shadow Ball later. (And it’s super cheap to build, so as with Beedrill, it’s been a long-time recommendation in my own analyses.) Post-update, how it does won’t change much, because the stats for Fang didn’t change one bit. That’s right, it is STILL just 40 damage for 35 energy. The difference is that it now has a 100% guaranteed Defense debuff to the opponent tacked on. This is actually very significant, as it makes that later Shadow Ball even more devastating, and makes things weak to Golbat’s Wing Attack (like Fighters, Grasses, and Bugs) really sweat… whereas before Golbat might have still needed a charge move to finish them off, a Poison Fang or two now makes them more farmable with just fast moves.

But now let’s get into some actual numbers. Here is Golbat now. Not bad, right? There are four new wins in there. Hypno and Cresselia could tank a Shadow Ball from Golbat before and finish it with Psychic damage before Bat could get to another. (Remember that, as a Poison-type, Golbat is weak to Psychic damage, making its matchups with Psychics a true race against time.) But now, after one Fang versus Hypno and having time to get in TWO Fangs against Cresselia, that Shadow Ball — aided by the defensive debuffs from Fang — deals sufficient damage to finish them both off. It also now beats Politoed and Vigoroth by just wearing them down with Poison Fang and Wing Attack… no Shadow Ball needed. This in addition to the Fighters and Fairies and Grasses and Bugs that it already handled nicely. Golbat is on the rise for certain.

Crobat PoisonFlying

Golbat’s big bro Crobat has long been stuck with potent but slow charge moves, but now it gets Fang too. Unfortunately, it has the mediocre Air Slash and falls behind Golbat in Great League. Its niche is in Ultra League, where Golbat cannot keep up. With previous moves, Crobat was pretty poor, but now things are looking up, with potential new wins against Giratina-O, Abomasnow, Dragonite, Ferrothorn, and Scizor. Still more of a niche pick than core meta, but at least it’s viable now and requires little if any, XL candy grinding.

Venomoth BugPoison

Venomoth becomes a decent spice option again, with big Confusion hitting extra hard after some Fang debuffing. Moth can now beat Cresselia, Powdertales (it already beats Charmtales and other Charmers handily), Scrafty, and even Confusion-resistant Shiftry.

Nidoqueen PoisonGround

But the BIG story I’ve been holding back is Nidoqueen. It has buffed Poison Jab and, like Crobat, has been in desperate need of a spammy charge move, and it now gets Fang as well. With ELEVEN new wins (Meganium, Chesnaught, S-Victreebel, Tropius, Registeel, Altaria, Sableye, Umbreon, Stunfisk, Toxicroak, and Shadow Machamp), she is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this update. And Shadow Queen is even scarier. It does lose now to Victreebel, Sableye, and the Ground coverage moves of Toxicroak and Alolan Marowak, but look at the gains: Cresselia, Mandibuzz, Venusaur, Medicham, Azumarill, and Galarian Stunfisk. That’s like a who’s who of the core meta. There’s a reason you’re starting to see Nidoqueens surrounded by a shadowy mist popping up in GBL. She’s really good now, folks!

So what’s the verdict? While the actual change to Poison Fang is rather minor, the debuffs that come with it now benefit things that have already relied on it anyway, and it is a major boost to new recipients Crobat and especially Nidoqueen, pulling them both up in their respective metas and making Nidoqueen a new core meta contender in Great League, perhaps especially in Shadow form. Long live the Queen!

…Sting like a, uh, whatever Drapion is supposed to be

Poison Jab wasn’t the only fast move that was buffed… so was Poison Sting. And it’s actually for the second time. Yes, Sting was actually buffed from a terrible 3.0 EPT to 4.0 EPT back in November in the same update that brought Incinerate to the game, but even then it was so lackluster a move that nobody noticed, still strictly inferior to the Mud Shot/Thunder Shock/Psycho Cut trifecta that deal the same 1.5 DPT as Poison Sting but even after that buff still had 0.5 more EPT. Apparently realizing that the last buff was basically useless, Niantic has gone whole hog and closed the gap… Poison Sting is now a clone of those moves at 1.5 DPT/4.5 EPT. Exciting!

However, unlike Poison Jab, there is a pretty small pool of legit PvP options that actually have Poison Sting (so far, at least). Let’s look at them in brief:

Drapion PoisonDark

Drapion has so many different move configurations you may have missed that Sting is one of them. You can still run it with stuff like Ice Fang and/or Aqua Tail, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to just stick with Sting and Crunch for coverage and Sludge Bomb for closing power. The actual list of new wins it gets now is small, but they’re good names: Lapras, Venusaur, and Alolan Marowak.

Shadow Drapula is a sidegrade: loses Lapras, Umbreon, DDeoxys, but wins Altaria, Froslass, Ferrothorn.

Drap has real play in Ultra League too, able to now outrace Ferrothorn, Snorlax, and the big one: Altered Giratina (with Shadow Claw). There’s still room for other move combos, but Poison Sting is definitely a very strong consideration now.

Qwilfish WaterPoison

Qwilfish is still more spice than meta, but it got a very large bump in this update, with up to NINE new wins, including many of the Grasses that outlasted it before: Venusaur, Meganium, Serperior, and Chesnaught, plus Galvantula (that’s BIG), Obstagoon, Scrafty, Munchlax, and often Mew as well (yes, even with Wild Charge). Qwil has a lot of fans already, and that’s only going to grow from here!

Nidorina PoisonGround

New spice alert! Or perhaps even more than that, because holy cow, Nidoqueen’s pre-evolution Nidorina is all of a sudden absolutely terrifying! Other than pointing out that it benefits from good bulk, buffed Poison Sting AND lots of Poison Fang debuffs now, I’ll just point out that you want a purified one for Return (which helps bring costs down a little, so that’s nice) and a LOT of XL candy and then shut up and let you look that list over for yourself and make your own grinding decisions. But uh… yeah, that DOES seem worth it if you’re dedicated.

There’s also ARIADOS… but I want to save that for our last big section…

So what’s the verdict? As with Poison Jab, this is a straight upgrade, this time in terms of energy generation. Unfortunately not a whole lot of relevant things have Poison Sting, but those that do all see significant upgrades after this shakeup. Expect to see more Drapion and perhaps even some Qwilfish and Nidorina moving forward!

Double Cross

Hey, it’s late in the article now and even I run out of good header titles after a while, okay?

Let’s keep this simple. Surely you’ve faced something with Night Slash in PvP a time or two by now. It’s a Dragon Claw/Cross Chop clone (50 damage for 35 energy) with a 12.5% chance to boost the user’s Attack by TWO levels. Of course, whenever you use a Night Slasher it feels like even less than that, and every time you FACE one it feels like about a 90% chance, amirite? 😂 Yeah, well get ready for more of that, because Cross Poison just became a Night Slash clone (in everything but typing, of course).

That would perhaps be more significant except that, as with Poison Sting, there aren’t many things you want to use in PvP that HAVE Cross Poison at all. Crobat just received it, but arguably wants its other new move Poison Fang more, as it at least come with a guaranteed stat modifier (and arguably a more useful one, as it sticks on the opponent rather than Bat itself). So that just leaves us with three Bugs:

Ariados BugPoison

NOW we get to Ariados, which benefits from Poison Sting buffing as well. Running with that, Cross Poison, and Megahorn as a potent closer, it picks up new wins against Shadow Hypno (it beats non-Shadow already), Galvantula, Vigoroth, Swampert, Toxicroak, Tropius, Munchlax, and the big prize: Azumarill. Still feels a little spicy, but it’s hard to argue it hasn’t broken into full-on meta pick now, at least with the right teammates around it. It also received Lunge in this update, which can slot in in place of Cross Poison as a sidegrade, losing Azu, A-Tales, Swampert, Toxi, and Trop to gain Dewgong, Lapras, Whiscash, Politoed, Stunfisk, and Umbreon. Cross Poison/Lunge is okay but leaves Dos without closing power and is probably not preferred. Ariados WILL be preferred by many players now though! For those that have been waiting for it to break out, congrats… your moment has arrived!

Galvantula BugElectric

Cross Poison has long been the forgotten move on Galvantula. I did run a number of sims with it, but honestly, they would probably confuse more than help, because slotting it in over existing moves CAN be rewarding but is messy. It is Galv’s cheapest move but even that is messy, as two Volt Switches generate only 32 energy (CP costs 35), and one more Switch brings it up to 48 and enough for an arguably better Lunge anyway. I do think Cross Poison becomes a valid option now, and folks WILL be running it, but this is one where I think practical gameplay is going to be more helpful than sims. Hang on for the ride.

Parasect BugGrass

– One last spice option is a fan fave of mine: Bug/Grass type Parasect. Cross Poison was so mediocre before that it was better off limping along with X-Scissor trying to set up a big closing Solar Beam, but now Cross Poison moves a bit ahead and at least adds some nice coverage and the ever-present threat of a big Attack boost. As I said, this is just for spice… it’s still not a great win total, but at least it can beat Azumarill, Politoed, and Lapras, big Psychics like Hypno, Cress, and DD, big Darks like Umbreon, Scrafty, and Goon, AND handle nearly every other Grass-type out there. I think there’s room for there on somebody’s team out there.

Odds and Ends

Just two more to touch on before we’re finally done:

Weather Ball Normal is apparently no more. We all knew Hippowdon was getting Weather Ball Rock, but I don’t think even Niantic know that Normal Castform, one of the recent heroes of Retro Cup, was getting rocky too! (No, not [THAT Rocky Too]) It doesn’t change Casty too much, being good when super effective (beating Dewgong and A-Tails with either of its fast moves), and bad when resisted (now losing to Swampert, Whiscash, and Stunfisk which neutral Normal Ball could beat). I do wonder if this is still a glitch that will eventually be corrected, but we’ll see. As for Hippowdon, I still don’t think you want it in Great or Ultra, but it at least becomes somewhat interesting in Master League where it can flex some pretty high CP and well-rounded moves.

And finally, Focus Blast was unnerfed after being nerfed nearly a year ago. Yay! But that doesn’t actually change all that much… Registeel would benefit more from a Flash Cannon unnerfing.

And that’s it…we made it! My hope is always that this is useful to you in your PvP journey, and that’s no different here. I hope this helps you get a little smarter quickly on this shakeup because some of this is already rocking GBL and will affect other metas moving forward. If you’re a little better educated on them now, then I’ve done my job. Good luck!

Until next time, you can find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis info. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, 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!

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