A PvP Analysis on the June 2023 Shadow Pokemon

Hello again, Pokéfriends! I know it’s been a slow start to the new GBL Season as far as my analyses go, but it’s time to shake off the rust and check out the newest batch of Shadow Pokémon! Let’s throw out our customary Bottom Line Up Front and then just dive right in.


  • Shadow Regirock is the best of the three Shadow Regis we’ve had so far, remaining close to non-Shadow’s performance and even surpassing it in spots. I highly recommend using a radar for this one, especially if you currently lack a Great League-sized Regirock otherwise. It’s not amazing, but it IS a good tool to have in your PvP toolkit.
  • Shadow Alolan Graveler is probably the most notable winner among the other new Shadows… a sidegrade at worst, and an upgrade in several scenarios, in terms of quality of new wins if not always simple quantity. Alolan Golem is less exciting, though.
  • Yes, Shadow Garchomp works where Garchomp already worked. (Read as: Master League.) It’s not going to suddenly take over any metas or even move the needle on Garchomp all that much, but if you’re building one for PvE anyway (recommended!), you can squeeze some extra use out of it for PvP, especially Master League Premier. If you want to.
  • The rest are rather ho-hum. None are notably worse overall than their non-Shadow versions, they just don’t really gain enough ground to matter any more than they do today. (And uh… none of them matter much today, so you do the math.)

Alright, on to the detailed analysis!


Regirock (Shadow) Rock

Shadow Registeel and Shadow Regice were both pretty underwhelming as Shadows… downgrades, overall. Here’s our final shot, with REGIROCK now getting the Shadow treatment. Do we want it?

Regirock (and Regice, for that matter) already has one major disadvantage as compared to its Steely cousin… less bulk. Not drastically so — only about 15 less HP and <10 less Defense than Registeel — but enough to be noticeable. Regirock is still on the bulky side for sure, with overall bulk and total stat product right up there with the likes of Altaria, Hypno, Lanturn, Lapras, Noctowl and others… and higher than those last three I listed. It’s in the Top 40 (out of over 800) Pokemon in Great League in terms of stat product, and the Top 15 in Ultra League, ahead of things like Armored Mewtwo, Lapras, Greedent, Miltank, Galarian Stunfisk, Snorlax, and BOTH Giratinas! No, it’s not Registeel, but Regirock still has plenty of junk in the trunk!

It’s really in the typing that Regirock show clear inferiority to Steel. While Registeel rather famously resists eleven typings and is left weak to only Fighting, Ground, and Fire, Regirock resists only four types of attacks (Flying, Poison, Normal, and Fire) and is left vulnerable to five (the same Fighting and Ground as Registeel, plus Water, Grass, and Steel). That is the main reason you only see it every now and then in PvP, as opposed to Registeel is which is perpetually ever-present.

Still, Regirock really isn’t bad, not in the least. Especially in Ultra League, where it’s right there nipping at Registeel‘s heels. (Despite our dentists always telling us not to stick anything metal in our mouths… 🦷 Regirock is a rebel!) It’s become quite the Limited meta darling in several Cups, especially those where it’s allowed to play and Registeel is not.

But now, of course, the question is… how does its Shadow variant hold up? Registeel basically fell apart as a Shadow, missing its loss of bulk far too much, and Shadow Regice didn’t fare much better.

As I did with those, I think the easiest way to kick off this analysis is with a simple side-by-side analysis. So here’s how Regirock looks in simulations with and without Shadowification. (Yes, that is a very real word which I did NOT just make up. Totally.)

(A note on this and other following tables: your mileage may vary a little bit depending on IVs, both of your Pokemon and the enemy as well. But these are the results with “average” IVs on both sides.)

Shadow Registeel, GL Notable Gains Notable Losses
1v1 Shielding Registeel, Galarian Stunfisk, Lickitung, Dunsparce Altaria, Azumarill, Alolan Sandslash, Vigoroth, Obstagoon, Cofagrigus
0v0 Shielding Shadow Victreebel Altaria, Lickitung, Registeel
2v2 Shielding Azumarill, Cresselia, Lickitung Alolan Sandslash, Shadow Alolan Ninetales (Charm)

So a mixed bag to be sure, but looking a LOT more positive than the other Shadow Regis! A slight downgrade in 1v1 shielding, by far the most common scenario you’ll face in actual gameplay, and some of those losses certainly hurt. You’d hope to beat Altaria with a good Rock type, but now you don’t. Azumarill, A-Slash, and those Counter users are more understandable, though knowing you COULD beat them but can’t now because of Regirock’s reduced bulk is painful. BUT, the gains are all rather huge. Beating Registeel face to face is in large part thanks to the relative speed of Stone Edge, the cheapest charge move any of the three OG Regis has to offer, allowing it to easily outrace Registeel to Focus Blast. But still, without the extra Attack that comes as a Shadow, Regirock cannot quite finish off Registeel even with that big super effective Blast… only Shadow can seal that deal. Galarian Stunfisk and Lickitung are won in a similar way, as is bonus Dunsparce. But the big story is obviously handling Registeel, G-Fisk, and Lickitung, as well as already being able to overcome Walrein (including Shadow), Alolan Ninetales (also incuding Shadow), Noctowl, Skarmory, and many other HUGE names in the GL meta… and it CAN still beat Altaria too depending on IVs.

The roughest spot is with shields down, where the extra power does take out a couple edge cases like Shadow Vic, but the loss of bulk shows out with Altaria, Lickitung, AND Registeel powering through. However, should things go down to both shields being used, Shadow Regirock slightly surpasses non-Shadow, which is pretty sweet.

So for the first time with the Regi trio, we have what I think I can call a solid sidegrade in Great League.

Shadow Regirock, UL Notable Gains Notable Losses
1v1 Shielding Cobalion, Shadow Snorlax Altered Giratina (Dragon Breath or Shadow Claw), Drapion, Snorlax, Gliscor
0v0 Shielding Galarian Stunfisk, Shadow Machamp, Scrafty, Tapu Fini, Gliscor, Cofagrigus Altered Giratina (Dragon Breath), Defense Deoxys, Escavalier, Empoleon, Scizor
2v2 Shielding Walrein Registeel, Trevenant, Cofagrigus, Drapion, Gliscor, Sylveon, Granbull, Empoleon

So the good news is that there’s a slight bump in performance with shields down, with G-Fisk, Scrafty, Shadow Machamp, and Tapu Fini being among the more exciting new pickups. But there are some very notable losses as well, and with any shields in play, the performance takes a dive. 1v1 shielding remains somewhat close, but in 2v2 shielding, the new losses stack up quickly. I won’t say Regirock is unviable in Ultra League, but it’s certainly far less exciting than it is in Great League.

So what’s it all mean, JRE? Shadow Regirock is the best Shadow Regi yet (and probably best until, like, 2026 when we get Shadow Regidrago and Shadow Regieleki.) I know folks have understandably skipped the last couple Shadow Regis and opted to hold on to their Super Rocket Radars for future Shadow Legendaries, but I definitely recommend using one for Shadow Regirock. That goes double for anyone that doesn’t have any sub-1500 CP Regirocks already on their bench, as this really truly could be your last chance to ever get one that fits in Great League. Regirock is legit good in that format, despite its flaws. Good luck with those IVs!

And now into some exciting non-Legendaries getting the Shadowification (I am going to make that a thing!) treatment, starting with our most exciting…!


Graveler (Alola Shadow) RockElectric

Thought I was gonna start with Garchomp, didn’t you? There’s some intrigue there, but it is Shadow ALOLAN GRAVELER I am most excited for out of this crop.

Similar to Regirock, the Shadow version is more of a sidegrade, but it’s a pretty sweet one in impactful ways:

Shadow Alolan Graveler, GL Notable Gains Notable Losses
1v1 Shielding Azumarill, Lanturn (Spark or Water Gun), Venusaur, Cofagrigus Jellicent, Vigoroth
0v0 Shielding Jellicent, Vigoroth Azumarill, Froslass, Umbreon
2v2 Shielding Registeel, Lickitung, Sableye Altaria, Cresselia, Jellicent, Lanturn (Spark), Alolan Marowak, Alolan Ninetales (Powder Snow)

So the big gainer, of course, is in 1v1 shielding, where Shadow A-Grav surpasses non-Shadow, giving up only Jellicent and Vigoroth to flip three of its formerly-frustrating losses into wins: Azumarill, Venusaur, and arguably the biggest of all, on-the-rise Lanturn. Keep in mind that A-Grav never deals better than neutral damage to Lanturn, and its Volt Switch is outright resisted by Venusaur, all while they deal super effective damage back. To come out on top anyway versus them (and Azu and Cofag) is pretty huge.

This is, however, somewhat tempered by the other even shield matchups. With shields down, ironically the only gains are the same as the 1shield losses: Jellicent and Vigoroth. And the losses include Azumarill, as well as Froslass and Umbreon. Mostly a wash, but slightly trending in the wrong direction.

And it 2v2 shielding, strictly by the numbers, it all falls apart, with six new losses inadequately balanced by only three new wins. That said… look at those three wins: Registeel, Lickitung, and Sableye, three of the tippy-top meta picks in Great League. Conversely, other than Spark Lanturn and Altaria (which is on a downward trend in usage), the losses are good picks in Great League, but not among the very best of the best. So even here, I’d still call Shadow A-Grav an acceptable, perhaps even preferrable, sidegrade (I would even argue upgrade) option.

Golem (Alola Shadow) RockElectric

As for ALOLAN GOLEM, it’s a hair worse than A-Grav in Great League anyway, with Graveler having superior bulk and just performing better. Shadow A-Golem is at best a shaky sidegrade (and really more of a slight downgrade) anyway… just stick with Graveler there. Where A-Golem can show off sometimes is in Ultra League, typically with Wild Charge rather than the Stone Edge that Alolan Graveler is more known for. (A-Grav has subpar Thunderbolt instead of WIld Charge.) It’s particularly interesting (and seen more commonly) in Ultra Premier. And while Shadow A-Grav does carve out a couple of special wins, like Crustle in 1shield, Umbreon and Escavalier with shields down, and Aurorus, Golisopod, and even Registeel in 2shield, overall it’s just worse in Open and in Premier, shedding wins like Dubwool, Empoleon, Snorlax, Escavalier (1shield) and several others. It’s not unworkable, but considering the rather extreme cost of building up an Ultra League Shadow ‘mon instead of just rolling with non-Shadow, I really don’t think it’s worth it, personally.

So what’s it all mean, JRE? Alolan Graveler is a sidegrade/upgrade for Great League. Even in situations where non-Shadow gets a greater volume of wins, the impact of the wins Shadow A-Grav picks up compensates. I highly recommend trying to find a good one of these while you can. Alolan Golem, though, not so much. Unless you find, like, a Rank 10 A-Golem that is a Rank 500 Alolan Graveler or something, I’d just stick with regular A-Golem. Not worth the extra investment for Shadow.


Garchomp (Shadow) GroundDragon

Okay, NOW we can talk GARCHOMP.

Chompy isn’t the flimsiest thing in PvP, not by far. But it most certainly IS glassy, with less bulk than things like Electabuzz, the Qwilfishes and Overqwil, Druddigon, Tyranitar and Tyrantrum, Gyarados, and even freaking Darumaka in Great and/or Ultra Leagues. It’s… it’s not great. Add to that the fact that its Ground typing makes it one of those rare Dragons that does NOT resist common Grass and Water damage, and things get even more worrying.

So while I will briefly mention that Shadow Garchomp is a sidegrade in Great League, it’s still not very good. (Compare to non-Shadow, and/or to Mud Shot variants.) Garchomp has popped up in a couple Limited metas, and Shadow represents another option, but not one I’d stress too much about acquiring. I WOULD be remiss to not at least point out that it CAN be impactful, if only with good baiting and both shields.

Similarly, Shadow Garchomp is just as good, if not better, than non-Shadow Chompy in Ultra League… but obviously still pretty poor overall, even in Premier, and with multiple movesets. You CAN build a Shadow for Ultra, and the case is even a bit stronger, perhaps, than Great League.

But let’s be honest… if you’re looking for a Shadow Garchomp, you’re looking for a hundo to max out, mostly for its great use in PvE. (Shoutout to my friend and colleague u/Teban54 for another awesome PvE analysis!) And Garchomp is at its best in PvP when it’s maxed out too, stomping around Master League and Master Premier. And with multiple movesets, yet again. And I am pleased to say that, at least in Premier, Shadow is a solid sidegrade (gaining Primarina, sometimes losing the mirror) or even an upgrade (gaining Dragonite, Excadrill, sometimes the mirror, and giving up only Ice Punch Ursaluna) over non-Shadow. I don’t know that I would recommend maxing a crazy expensive Shadow Garchomp JUST for PvP, but if you’re already building one for PvE, yes, it can do double duty!

So what’s it all mean, JRE? There’s nothing wrong with Shadow Garchomp in PvP, there’s just not a ton that’s right, either. It’s a solid enough sidegrade throughout the various Leagues (particularly in Master League, where Chompy takes the biggest bite out of the established meta), but it seems a lot of expense for not much more return than you already get with non-Shadow. If you build one up for PvE (the best case for making a Shadow Garchomp anyway), then it may prove useful in Master.


Hitmontop (Shadow) Fighting

You may wonder why I have HITMONTOP buried so far down here. A lot of players swear by it as a primo Fighting type in Great League. But as for me, I don’t think it’s even the best Hitmon! (Give me Hitmonchan, either regular or Shadow, any day instead.) ‘Top does have the best stat product (and bulk) of the Hitmons, and Close Combat and Stone Edge are admittedly a sweet combo, making Hitmontop kind of a like a bulkier, slower Machamp. But when it comes right down to it, in my eyes, Hitmontop just doesn’t have it, paling in comparison to Hitmonchan (with the latter beating things like Altaria, Swampert, Powder Snow A-Tails, Venusaur, and Vigoroth that ‘Top cannot), not to mention other top (haha puns so funny) Fighters in the meta. The good news is that Shadow Hitmontop is slightly better. The bad news is that it’s not by nearly enough to really matter….

Shadow Hitmontop, GL Notable Gains Notable Losses
1v1 Shielding Mandibuzz (Air Slash), Vigoroth Diggersby
0v0 Shielding Lanturn (Spark or Water Gun), Mandibuzz (Snarl), Alolan Marowak Froslass, Shadow Alolan Ninetales
2v2 Shielding Swampert, Lickitung none!

So yeah, an upgrade across the board. Huzzah! But still not a significant one, exceeding a 50% winrate only when shields are down (that’s what having two closer-type charge moves will do for ya) and looking rather pitiful as shields come more and more into play (also what having double closers will do for ya!).

Honestly, purified Hitmontop with Return may be just as big a story. Something to consider, at least.

So what’s it all mean, JRE? Sure, go get a Shadowified Hitmontop. It IS better. But until and unless it gets a proper bait move, I don’t see Hitmontop making any more noise as a Shadow than it did as a non-Shadow.


The rest of these are unfortunately either not very PvP relevant, don’t improve in any great way as a Shadow, or more often than not, both. I still want to review them briefly, just in a quicker bulletized list….

Ledian (Shadow) BugFlying
  • LEDIAN has long been more of a meme than actual meta, famously having to be pushed basically all the way to Level 50 to reach even 1500 CP, and despite amazing bulk, still being mediocre at best even when pushed that far. So what would you say if I told you that Shadow is obviously an even steeper investment and actually seems a bit worse? Yeeeeeah… don’t do it.
Ledyba (Shadow) BugFlying
  • Instead, perhaps consider LEDYBA in Little League, as the Shadow version picks up Mandibuzz and Swampert that non-Shadow cannot handle. There’s also the new potential twist of purified Ledyba to not only save on cost, but bring Return into the mix as a move with real closing power (rather than the underpowered Silver Wind and especially Aerial Ace Ledyba is stuck with now). On that note, Return is also okay on Ledian, and WOULD bring the costs down, but Dynamic Punch (or even Bug Buzz) is just a better option there.
Purugly (Shadow) Normal
  • PURUGLY… well, lives up to its name in PvP. Shadow is little better, managing to beat out Azumarill, Cresselia, Venusaur, and Froslass, which isn’t nothing, but still is very subpar at best. What a waste of an intriguing moveset. Non-Shadow is now recommended to run with Return (with STAB!) moving forward, so that’s… something?

Alrighty, that’s it for now, though I am actively working on a full analysis on the upcoming SIngle-Type Cup that we get for two weeks straight (and bonus stardust one of those weeks!), and hopefully shortly there should be a collab infographic for this Shadow analysis as well! But until then, you can always find me on Twitter with regular GO analysis nuggets or Patreon.

Continued thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last FOUR years of PvP play, and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And as always, thank you for reading… I appreciate your attention and encouragement.

Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and good luck during this dark event! 🌑

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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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