A PvP Analysis on the Rocket Retreat Shadow Pokemon

Hello again, fellow PvPers! I’ll cut right to the chase: today we take a quick look at the latest newly arriving Shadow Pokémon and what their impact may be on PvP. And after that I have a bunch of new Pokémon to analyze as well (starting with Salazzle first!), AND an updated analysis on Halloween Cup (comes back April 5th!) so let’s not waste any more time and just get right to it, shall we?

I actually wrote up a whole article last night on what was SUPPOSED to be the new crop of Shadows, with Luxray as the highlight. (It was actually published here on GO Hub overnight.) But then SURPRISE! No Luxray, and a trio of ‘mons that hadn’t been mentioned AT ALL of late, and only like an hour before the event started, so uh… thanks, Niantic! Really appreciate that. Anyway, no whining… I’m just here to analyze.

…again. 😒 (Okay, I think I’m allowed a little whining. 🙃)

So, I’m gonna start with the new-since-last-night stuff, and then close it out with what I can salvage from that now O.B.E. article. Here we go!


Sandslash (Alola) IceSteel

Hey, it’s ALOLAN SANDSLASH, as a Shadow! That’s cool, right? I mean, A-Slash is one we just talked about recently… for some reason… what was it? 🤔 Oh right, we just had its Community Day a mere three weeks ago. And so naturally, NOW is when we get the Shadow version. Nice. So we either have to use Elite TMs to get the exclusive move we just had less than a month ago, or wait until December (as a reminder, we JUST entered April) to presumably be able to get Shadow Claw then during the Community Day rehash. I try to be positive, but between having a couple hours of work wasted last night and now this, I’m a bit salty. You couldn’t have released Shadow A-Slash during the LAST GO Rocket event, Niantic? Come on, people. Sheesh.

Okay, rant over. But the reason I’m ranting in the first place is because Shadow A-Slash with Shadow Claw is basically a straight upgrade over non-Shadow in Great League, with non-Shadow holding on to take out Lapras, but Shadow managing to outrace Dewgong, Pidgeot (one of the notable losses for Shadow Claw that Powder Snow beats, as noted when I wrote about it before Community Day), Pelipper, Galvantula, and even big bad Bastiodon! I think Lapras is overall a small price to pay for THOSE pickups, don’t you?

The fun continues in 2v2 shielding as well, where Shadow A-Slash picks up Lapras, Galvantula, Mandibuzz, Sableye, Registeel, and BOTH Stunfisks as compared to non-Shadow, which has Mew as its only unique, standout win. And while things are closer between Shadow and non-Shadow with shields down, I think it’s pretty clear that Shadow A-Slash is probably the better way to go overall.

And that’s true in Ultra League as well. The gap is smaller, but Shadow is again an overall upgrade as compared to non-Shadow. Well, okay, maybe more of a sidegrade, but a good one, now able to beat Jellicent, Lapras, Empoleon, and Armored Mewtwo, while non-Shadow better outlasts Shadow Nidoqueen, Galvantula, and Meganium (with its dang super effective Earthquake). And yep, in 2v2 shielding too: Shadow A-Slash gains Lapras, Alolan Muk, Dragon Breath Charizard, and now Shadow Nidoqueen, while non-Shadow beats only regular Nidoqueen and Scizor instead. Non-Shadow is again slightly better in 0v0 shielding, but Shadow clearly stakes a claim on relevancy in Ultra as well.

So, yes, this is THE one you really want out of this crop of new Shadows. And while I encourage Elite TMing for Shadow Claw if you can (I’ll spare you the numbers, but while the improvement with Shadow Claw is clear, Powder Snow is no better or even a downgrade in general), not everybody has that luxury, and again, to have this happen this shortly after a Community Day many weren’t very excited about anyway… reversing the order of those would have helped EVERYBODY. Why they waited until now is baffling.

Silly Niantic.

Sandshrew (Alola) IceSteel

One last note before moving on: this also means Shadow ALOLAN SANDSHREW, who is a spicy XL pick in PvP. However, it would appear it doesn’t appreciate the slash to its Defense that comes with being a Shadow, as non-Shadow Shrew is slightly better overall than non-Shadow A-Shrew. Non-Shadow manages to beat Swampert, Whiscash, Sableye, Charm Alolan Ninetales, Galvantula, and Mew, while Shadow only has unique wins versus Dewgong, Drifblim, and Shadow Nidoqueen. It’s a also a small step back in Little League (Shadow vs non-Shadow). I mean, if I were to land a hundo Shadow A-Shrew, sure, I’d hold onto it, unevolved, as a maybe future project. But I wouldn’t recommend actually building it right now. Doesn’t seem worth it for that kind of crazy investment. (For the record, though: a 0-10-14 at Level 15.5 is #1 IVs for Little League, so… yeah, hold onto those too. Why not, right?)


As for the other new Shadow Alolans, there’s far less to say:

Raticate (Alola) DarkNormal
  • I had high hopes for ALOLAN RATICATE as a Shadow. It’s nice and bulky, which usually means shrugging off the defensive nerf that comes with being a Shadow Pokemon better than most. And A-Rat has had trouble finding a niche in Open play (due in large part to being doubly weak to Fighting and having mostly Normal — aka never super effective — moves of its own), but has shown enough promise in some limited metas for me to hold out hope of a sudden surge. Unfortunately, the Shadow treatment alone isn’t the answer, actually being a small step backwards as compared to non-Shadow. It’s similarly worse with shields down, and while it gets a very small boost in 2v2 shielding, this is not the shot in the arm Alolan Raticate needed to make something more of itself. A-Rat, as I said, HAS had some small breakouts in limited metas of the past, so sure, grab one or two while you can, just in case. But this is several levels below A-Slash in terms of priority.
Exeggutor (Alola) GrassDragon
  • And ALOLAN EXEGGUTOR is down in the doldrums too. In this case, Shadow IS arguably better than non-Shadow, with new Great League wins versus Umbreon, Sableye, Swampert, Shadow Machamp, and even Talonflame (and just one new loss, versus Mandibuzz), but it’s more of a wash in 2v2 shielding and a small step in the wrong direction with shields down. And I mean, 16 wins and 38 losses (which is Shadow A-Eggy’s record in 1v1 shielding) is hardly something that folks would jump all over anyway. And most unfortunately, Ultra League is much worse, with Shadow Eggtree falling quite a bit behind non-Shadow. This is a mostly a non-starter, I think. Probably for the better, as you can’t even normally see its red eyes anyway, being all up off the screen like that.


Okay, now we get back to stuff I already wrote before the last-minute Niantic April Fool’s switcheroo. As I mentioned, LUXRAY was going to be the highlight, but ironically, it’s the only one from the mined new group that was NOT released. So we’re left with the riffraff:

Sudowoodo Rock
  • SUDOWOODO has seen some play here and there in limited metas, though it struggles in Open Great League with so many potent Grounds, Grasses, and Waters around to pick it apart. Unfortunately, while Shadowoodo does some nice things like better outrace Registeel and Lickitung, its slashed bulk means it’s a downgrade overall, dying to things non-Shadow can outlast like Vigoroth and things a Rock type really should beat like Charm Alolan Ninetales, Galvantula, and Lapras. I think it IS still worth trying to pick up a good one while you can, because Sudo, again, has use in some limited metas and Shadow may find a niche there too. But it doesn’t look like it will be lifting Sudowoodo into new relevance anywhere new.
Camerupt FireGround
  • And that was the GOOD news, as the rest are even lesser. CAMERUPT, despite an enticing typing, has always been the butt of jokes in PvP, and Shadow is no better, though it’s worth noting that it CAN finally beat things like Venusaur and Meganium as a Shadow (as well as Skarmory)… which really just speaks to the major issues Camerupt has in PvP play in the first place. 😬 And uh… Shadow loses to Wigglytuff, Sylveon, and Powder Snow Alolan Ninetales. As a Fire type. Yiiiiikes.
Girafarig NormalPsychic
  • It’s no secret, especially to my faithful long-time readers, that I have always had a soft spot for Girafa– uh, Geeriff– er, make that… um… FARIGAMARIF (I think that’s spelled correctly, right? 🤪) But if I’m being honest, it has rarely (if ever?) been a legit option in PvP, despite a tasty Psychic/Normal typing that makes it a Psychic type (and one with Confusion, at that) that actually resists Ghost damage. And don’t even get me started on its Open viability. I went in with hope that being a Shadow might give it a new lease on PvP life, but alas. 😔 It DOES sneak a win over Drifblim now, but can no longer beat Cofagrigus or Azumarill. Sorry, Geofforig fans… we remain patiently awaiting the day that Niantic finally gives it Psychic Fangs. 👀
Latias DragonPsychic
  • I was really hoping the hinted Mist Ball would release at the same time as Shadow LATIAS, but Niantic seems to want us to wait for that too. (Maybe three weeks from now…? 😏) So for the time being, at least, Shadow Latias arrives without new moves, which means it best moveset typically remains Dragon Breath with Thunder and either Psychic (the move) or perhaps Outrage. And I’m not even going to bother posting the sims… they’re that dull. Shadow does not help at all, really. The one thing it IS somewhat better with is the odd Charm Latias, but even then it only adds on 1-2 wins across different leagues, and still leaves it with win percentages in the teens… nowhere close to viability. And THIS is why I was waiting in hope for Mist Ball, because without it (and possibly even WITH it… we’ll have to wait and see), Latias in any form is just not worth using in PvP. Shadow does nothing to change that, so just snag it for the collection and await the day we’re graced with the choice of using another Elite TM to try and get Mist Ball on it. (Again, I’m not bitter about Alolan Sandslash… not at all, why do you ask? 🙃)


  • Shadow Alolan Sandslash is the big winner here… but specifically with now-Legacy fast move Shadow Claw, which means it’s Elite TM time… or wait until December. Yay?
  • As much as I would hope Shadow would do good things for Alolans Raticate and Exeggutor, neither are a big boost to their viability. Sorry.
  • Nor, unfortunately, are the other new Shadows anything to get too excited about. While Sudowoodo has seen some play here and there, Shadowoodo is overall a slight downgrade, and Camerupt and that Girafathing are no better as Shadows either.

So there we go. Sorry if this was a bit of a downer, but I’m just here to report the numbers. Not every event can be a big winner! The All-Hands Rocket Retreat runs until Thursday, April 7th, so get out and get while you can while we can get it. And remember to TM away Frustration from Shadows old and new by the 7th as well. May your GO Rocket balloons be plentiful!

Until next time–very likely a review of those new teased Alolan Pokémon, starting with Salazzle–you can find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Hopefully you can find what you want, but as you search, please be safe out there, Pokéfriends. Thanks again for reading, and catch you next time!

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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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