Hello again, Pokéfriends! Today we finally cover the new batch of Shadows after an unfortunate delay. See, being a dad of three, husband of one, full time worker who’s now managing others at my place of employment (and commuting an hour each way still), and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life outside of that, time is always at a premium.
But oh well. Here we are, already over a day into the “Taken Treasures” Event, and I spent most of my Saturday getting this done… late. Oh, it hurts. But uh… better late than never? I hope so, because there IS some really good stuff in here. Thanks for checking them out with me, and hopefully it’s worth your while. Thanks for being here.
Let’s do this!
A WAVE OR JUST A RIPPLE? 🌊Kyogre (Shadow) Water
Starting as we often do during these events with the new Shadow Legendary, let’s get our feet wet with KYOGRE.
Unlike, say, the Shadow Regis, the primary application here is in full-on Master League, as that’s where Kyogre has… well, made a splash in PvP already. (I swear even I will run out of water jokes soon, hang in there!) Check anywhere that talks about the Master League meta, like GO Battle Log or trending analysis on PvPoke, and Kyogre is a big part of the conversation. And why shouldn’t it be? It consistently beats half of the potent, hard-to-break Solgaleo/Zygarde core (the Solgaleo half) and beats the stuffing out of the other half (Zygarde Complete), consistently ripping 80-90% of Zygarde’s HP away in all even shield matchups. And that’s not even highlighting what it does to the rest of the Master League meta, with nearly all of its losses coming against Water-resistant Dragons (it does beat those that take neutral from Water, like Garchomp and Reshiram), and about the only others that outduel it being Zarude (for obvious reasons) and Mewtwo… IF it manages to land a Focus Blast on Kyogre. (And even then, Kyogre can still win if it has just one extra Waterfall of energy.) So yes, it dominates the Ground and Fire types you’d expect, but it also actually wins nearly all major neutral matchups too, from Fairies to Steels to Psychics to things like Yveltal and Snorlax and even opposing Waters.
So could the new Shadow version make it even MORE of a threat? Well, situationally perhaps.
In the most common, standard 1v1 shielding, Shadow is a notable step down from non-Shadow, with the slashed bulk resulting in new losses to Groudon, Zacian, Reshiram, Gyarados, and enemy Kyogres with Origin Pulse… and NO new wins of note. Now in fairness, the exact opposite is true in shieldless matchups, with Shadow adding Zacian, Mewtwo, and Garchomp with no new losses, and in 2v2 shielding, Shadow gaining Mewtwo and Lugia but with a loss to Garchomp as a tradeoff.
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Is Shadow Kyogre worth maxing out? Meh, perhaps. It has its shining moments, but overall, the gains come with counterbalancing losses. Honestly, I wouldn’t argue with anyone that uses this opportunity to instead turn, say, a 13-13-13 Shadow Kyogre into a purified version to max out cheaper than a run-of-the-mill Kyogre. Not to mention, for our PvE friends out there, that a Shadow Kyogre cannot undergo Primal reversion, so unless you plan on maxing multiple, a non-Shadow makes good sense for the double duty it alone can pull. Still, this is a solid enough sidegrade, which is more than I’ve been able to say for many other Shadow Legendaries, so if someone really wants to take on that project, they’ll likely be satisfied with the end results.
THE ICE QUEEN 🥶Froslass (Shadow) IceGhost
“And the tiny hairs on your arm, you know when they stand up? That’s them. When they get mad… it gets cold.”
Ever since the announcement of this new batch of Shadow Pokémon, nothing has generated as many questions I’ve received than FROSLASS. Long ago established as a top flight Limited meta pick, the evolving Open Great League has pushed into strong relevance there as well, to the point where it now shows up regularly even on the biggest stage of the Play! Pokémon circuit. So the questions are understandable!
And I am happy to report that yes, Shadow Froslass looks pretty good too.
Let’s start with Avalanche versions, as I continue to believe that it, not the new and popular Triple Axel, is generally the way to go with your Ice charge move here. While Axel is excellent at baiting shields to set up an increasingly deadly Shadow Ball for the final blow, Froslass has a relatively low power fast move that doesn’t benefit as much as you’d hope from Axel’s Attack boost. But we’ll come back to that.
For now, here is regular Froslass with Avalanche, for reference. Not eye-popping numbers overall, but it is WHAT it beats that makes Froslass deceptively potent. Names like Medicham and Annihilape, Pelipper and Altaria, Clodsire and Shadow Whiscash, Serperior and Venusaur, Cresselia and Defense Deoxys, Charjabug and Charm A-Ninetales, Dewgong, and of course Gligar (in its own regular or Shadow forms). That’s the greater bulk of the standard Play! Pokémon team over the last few weeks and months. Froslass is a very, very good anti-meta pick with one-of-a-kind reach. And it maintains much of that same list in other shielding scenarios, mixing in things like Vigoroth, Trevenant, Mantine, Poliwrath, and even Azumarill here and there too.
So what does Shadowification do for her? In short, it makes her even deadlier. In 1v1 shielding, while the loss of bulk on an already frail body leads to Serperior, Mandibuzz, Shadow Whiscash, and Shadow A-Tails slipping away, the gains outweigh that, with new wins versus Sableye, Vigoroth, Shadow Poliwrath, Mantine, and the non-Shadow versions of Alolan Ninetales and Whiscash. And while in 2v2 shielding, Shadow vs non-Shadow is mostly a wash (the former beating Shadow Poliwrath and the latter getting Shadow Whiscash instead), the improvement of Shadow over non-Shadow is rather large with shields down. Original Froslass is uniquely “bulky” enough to outlast Azumarill, Poliwrath, Mantine, Lickitung, and Alolan Ninetales, but Shadow again gains more than it gives up with its own unique wins versus Registeel, Jellicent, Pelipper, Swampert, Shadow Whiscash, Shadow A-Ninetales, and even Talonflame! Always catches the eye when Ice flips the script and melts prominent Fire types!
As for Triple Axel… well, Shadow flies in the face of some of what I said earlier. I still prefer Avalanche over Triple Axel on non-Shadow Froslass, as Axel does come out ahead in 2v2 shielding but otherwise seems to lag behind Avalanche’s performance and potential a bit. But for Shadow Froslass, I’m not so certain. In 1v1 shielding, Triple Axel does exceed the performance of Avalanche, adding on Poliwrath and amazingly even Shadow Victreebel, with NO new losses. And the improvement is even more noticeable in 2v2 shielding, with Avalanche unable to beat Shadow Vic, Serperior, Poliwrath, or Lanturn as Triple Axel can, and Axel also wins the mirror. The only place where Avalanche remains better is with shields down, where it is able to beat Serperior and Axel falls short, but is that enough to declare it better than Triple Axel on Shadow Froslass overall? You be the judge. Having the Shadow boost AND Axel boost on Froslass’ Attack does seem to have a lot going for it, to my eyes. What do YOU think, dear reader?
And before anyone asks, yes, I DID check Shadow Glalie too, and it’s still just a far worse Froslass. Save your candy.
So what’s it all mean, JRE? In short summary, yes, Shadow Froslass looks like one you definitely want to have available. It’s never a “straight upgrade”, but the good tends to outweigh the negatives. The question then becomes: which Ice charge move to run? And again, to briefly summarize, I’m gonna say stick with Avalanche on non-Shadow variants… but Triple Axel is well worth consideration on Shadow Froslass to pump up that damage output to the max.
🎶 I’M ADDICTED TO YOU, DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOU’RE TOXIC? 🐸Toxicroak (Shadow) PoisonFighting
(Apologies to Britney Spears))
If people haven’t been asking about Froslass, most of the rest have been asking about TOXICROAK. Here the answer is a little more nuanced, but overall it is again good news.
So I’m going to settle one debate right off the bat: I’ll be using the new Shadow Ball for this analysis. Sludge Bomb still has some standout uses (like sometimes sneaking in a win against Azumarill or Tapu Fini), but overall, in both Great and Ultra Leagues, Shadow or not, across multiple shielding scenarios, Shadow Ball is just better now, and that’s what we’ll be examining.
With that in mind, let’s get to the comps, starting in Great League. I’ll just tell you right up front: the reduction in bulk of Shadow Toxicroak is overall a bit too much to overcome with the 1500 CP cap, and ShadowCroak is left a bit worse overall than regular Toxicroak. There ARE gains, and pretty nice ones — Froslass, Sableye, and Lanturn — but the losses hurt, losses which include Medicham, Annihilape, Powder Snow A-Ninetales, Serperior, and Shadow Victreebel. All are big names, and those new wins may be totally worth the switch to ShadowCroak for some players, absolutely. But there are more of those big name that now move into the loss column than the win column, and sometimes it’s just as simple as that.
HOWEVER, that’s not the end of the story… it’s NOT quite as simple as that. With shields down, Shadow and non-Shadow become more sidegrade options, with Shadow overpowering Sableye, Serperior, Skarmory, and Galarian Stunfisk, and non-Shadow outlasting Registeel, Swampert, Pelipper, and Charjabug instead. That’s a tough choice deciding which group of wins you want there, yeah?
And then there’s 2v2 shielding, which turns the equation thus far on its head, because here ShadowCroak seems quite a bit better than non-Shadow. While Shadow can no longer hold up versus Lanturn as it could before — a very unfortunate loss — the rest is all good news, with new win potential against PowderTales, Swampert, Shadow Whiscash, Clodsire, Mandibuzz, and even Azumarill. Definitely big advantage to Shadow Toxicroak here, which I did NOT expect in late battles like these.
Then there’s Ultra League, where the analysis is again a bit… complicated. 1v1 shielding again seems like it’s advantage non-Shadow as opposed to ShadowCroak, though not by much, with regular Toxi outduelling Golisopod and Shadow Swampert, and Shadow getting only regular Swampert in return. And in 2v2 shielding it flips to slight advantage for Shadow by beating Poliwrath and Shadow Swampert, with non-Shadow getting only Annihilape as its sole standout win. Just sidegrade material so far…
…but then there’s the 0shield, where ShadowCroak pulls away with unique wins against (takes a deep breath) Annihilape, Gyarados, Steelix, Swampert, Walrein, Venusaur, Shadow CharmTales, and Granbull. Non-Shadow gets its own special wins versus Trevenant, Greedent, Shadow Swampert, and Shadow Dragonite (I was today years old when I learned that last one, honestly!), but it’s not nearly enough to counterbalance the clear advantage that ShadowCroak has with shields down. Of course, it can be hard to engineer the no-shields scenario, so take this for what it’s worth… but keep in mind that Shadow is at least a solid sidegrade otherwise.
So what’s it all mean, JRE? I think it’s very safe to label Shadow Toxicroak as a sidegrade, at worst, in both Great AND Ultra Leagues. Different shielding scenarios can make it situationally better or worse than non-Shadow, but there are definitely some where it leaves regular Toxicroak in the dust. It’s another blow to the viability of Medicham (and most other Fighters, honestly) and for Poliwrath in particular: we hardly knew thee. They’re not going completely away or anything, but it’s clear that Toxicroak and Annihilape are rising further and further above them.
EVERY FERRO HAS ITS THORNS 🌵Ferrothorn (Shadow) GrassSteel
While everyone’s been fervently discussing the above Pokémon, it seems that FERROTHORN is flying somewhat under the radar. Let’s fix that!
I’ll spoil it now: Shadow Ferrothorn seems a nice upgrade to non-Shadow in Great League. In 1v1 shielding, it tacks on Clodsire, Poliwrath, and Lickitung, all BIG gains, while losing only Mantine and Froslass that non-Shadow claims as unique wins. With shields down, Shadow can achieve five new wins (Umbreon, Sableye, Poliwrath, Galarian Stunfisk, and even Defense Deoxys!) versus just three new losses as compared to non-Shadow (Pelipper and two different versions of Clodsire).
But the REAL winner is Shadow Ferrothorn in 2v2 shielding, which picks up Trevenant, Serperior, Shadow Gligar, Pelipper, Sableye, and even Bastiodon, all balanced against only ONE new loss (to Poliwrath) that non-Shadow can sneak away with. Your mileage may vary a bit depending on which coverage move you run alongside Power Whip (the scenarios described here are with Mirror Shot), but overall Shadow is better with Thunder and Flash Cannon too.
Things are much closer when we move up to Ultra League, however. Showing the results now with Flash Cannon for coverage (overall better than Mirror Shot at this level, I think), ShadowThorn (unique wins: Altered Giratina, Greedent, Alolan Muk) is a sidegrade to non-Shadow (unique wins: Guzzlord, Umbreon, Venusaur) in 1v1 shielding, as well as 0shield (beats Altered Giratina and Umbreon, loses to Defense Deoxys and Alolan Muk) and 2v2 shielding (beats Guzzlord, Umbreon, Greedent, Tentacruel and loses now to PowderTales, Steelix, and Golisopod). A couple of those wins (Giratina?!) make the eyes go big, but considering Ferrothorn has to be pushed to nearly Level 50 to work out in Ultra, I’m not sure if the even higher cost of a Shadow version is worth that grind. But that’s YOUR call, my friend!
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Shadow Ferrothorn seems to be one you want for Great League. I don’t see it greatly elevating Ferrothorn’s place in the meta (merely spice in Open, more meta in Limited/Cup formats), but where you already want Ferrothorn, I suspect you’re going to want to have at least the option of running with the Shadow version. Ultra League is not as strong a case — we’re talking just a sidegrade — but if you have the XL Candy and dust to burn, sure, go for it if you wanna.
EMPEROR’S NEW CLOAK 🐧Empoleon (Shadow) WaterSteel
Spoiler alert: Shadow EMPOLEON is a near-straight upgrade in most scenarios, especially in Great League where it sees little play in Open but quite a bit in certain Limited metas. I don’t know that its place in either the Great or Ultra League metas is going to shift much, but it DOES become quite a bit more interesting.
Starting with Great League, and the least impressive result: Shadow vs non-Shadow Empie in 1v1 shielding. Yes, the improvement is clearly there with new wins against Lickitung, Azumarill, Shadow Gligar, and Mantine — stacked against only one new loss to Froslass — but still, a sub-25% winrate is nothing to brag about.Things look much cheerier in other shielding scenarios though, such as 2v2 shielding where Shadow Empoleon gains Registeel, Shadow Alolan Sandslash, Swampert, Sableye, Umbreon, and Mandibuzz and loses only Azumarill. And with shields down on both sides, Shadow Empie stands to gain Lickitung, Mantine, Swampert, and Clodsire, and gives up only Gligar to do it. Overall it’s a VERY impressive improvement in performance, overshadowed only by Empoleon’s (lack of a) place in the Open meta. It likely remains just a Cup specialist, though in metas like that, Shadow may stand out better than non-Shadow now. (Specifically in Hisui/Sinnoh Cup, that means new wins like Gastrodon, Shadow Grotle, and Abomasnow).
Where Empoleon DOES see some use in Open is up in Ultra League, though both Shadow and non-Shadow still have a 1v1 shield problem. (And Shadow is a simple sidegrade by beating Talonflame, Greninja, and Golisopod rather than the Tapu Fini, Umbreon, and Alolan Sandslash that non-Shadow beats instead.) And 2v2 shielding is mostly a wash too, with Shadow overwhelming Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and Shadow Swampert, but losing Tentacruel and Gyarados that non-Shadow can handle.
The most impressive showing at this level is Shadow Empoleon with shields down, which loses only Greedent and Golisopod that non-Shadow can defeat to instead gain Cresselia, Tapu Fini, Steelix, Tentacruel, Umbreon, Shadow Swampert, and even Ampharos. (Well, Thunder Punch-less Brutal Swing/Trailblaze Ampharos, that is, but still.)
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Shadow Empoleon is more sidegrade-y in Ultra League where Empoleon has already made a name for itself, but it’s almost a pure upgrade across Great League. Don’t expect to see it suddenly popping up in Open, but DO expect to see it more in Limited metas and be scarier than ever. Shadowification plus a big punishing fast move like Waterfall is a recipe for pain.
THE CALL OF TENTACTHULHU 🐙Tentacruel (Shadow) WaterPoison
Surprise! Not often that Niantic can sneak up on us, but the release of Shadow TENTACRUEL was kept under wraps from seemingly everyone until suddenly showing up (as Tentacool, of course) as Sierra’s new lead Pokémon. And it’s similar in some ways to Empoleon: better in Great League especially, more sidegradeish otherwise.
And with a similar shift depending on shielding scenario too. Like Empoleon, 1v1 shielding its where you see the least positives, with ShadowCruel actually sliding backwards as compared to non-Shadow, gaining Defense Deoxys, Dewgong, and Poliwrath, but at the cost of now losing to Cresselia, Carbink, Talonflame, Mantine, Mandibuzz, Clodsire, and Shadow Victreebel. Ouch. The good news is that other even shield matchups are better for Shadow. With shields down, ShadowCruel pulls ahead of non-Shadow with new wins Gligar, Froslass, Serperior, and Shadow Vic and only two new losses to Shadow Gligar and Mandibuzz. And in 2v2 shielding, the higher Attack of being a Shadow plus debuffing the opponent with Acid Spray really starts to add up, with ShadowCruel now dancing circles around non-Shadow by beating Altaria, Annihilape, Charjabug, Cresselia, Lanturn (with Water Gun, but still impressive, no?), Lickitung, Venusaur, and Shadow Victreebel, while suffering only two new losses (Clodsire and Froslass).
Ultra League is not quite that kind, however. In 1v1 shielding, Shadow only slightly trails non-Shadow, taking down Cobalion, Cresselia, Pidgeot, and Poliwrath but whiffing on Ampharos, Shadow Dragonite, Greedent, Alolan Muk, and Walrein. But innterestingly, in 2v2 shielding, Shadow falls quite a bit behind non-Shadow (beating Greedent and Alolan Muk, but now missing out on Annihilape, Cobalion, Poliwrath, Toxicroak, Venusaur, and Walrein), and it is only with shields down that Shadow manages to exceed the performance of non-Shadow by beating Cobalion, DDeoxys, Shadow Dragonite, Gyarados, Virizion, and Skeledirge and giving up only Annihilape, Cress, A-Muk, and Pidgeot.
So what’s it all mean, JRE? Honestly, I don’t think Shadow Tentacruel is worth it in Ultra League, but in Great League? Yeah, there’s more than enough going one to ready one for your personal arsenal. Poison Jab starts to really hurt with the Shadow boost and steadily stacking Acid Sprays.
ISLAND OF MISFIT SHADOWS
The rest of these are 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….Crustle (Shadow) BugRock
- I had high hopes for CRUSTLE, a Pokémon that used to be more prevalent but has fallen on rather rough times. Having high damage Smack Down and inexpensive charge moves, I was hoping to see it reemerge in Shadow form, but that seems unlikely after Shadow falls behind non-Shadow, and in both Leagues, and across most shielding scenarios, giving up ground to several prominent Grasses and Darks, and even notable Bugs and Flyers, which is very ungood for something running a full Rock moveset. Crustie’s comeback will have to come some other way… one day.
- So while Shadow-buffed Waterfall works well for Empoleon, that is not universally true. Case in point: Shadow CRAWDAUNT, which just remains sad with its lack of bulk and so-so type combination. Honestly you’re better off with Shadow Sharpedo if you’re looking to commit to blitzing Waterfall beatdowns. As for Crawdaddy: pass.
- Shadow INFERNAPE is actually a slight upgrade/sidegrade as a Shadow, it’s just that Blaziken does the whole Fire/Fighting thing much better. Lacking both the Counter that makes Fighters great and the Incinerate coveted by meta Fire types now leaving Infernape in a bad spot. Until that’s fixed, it will remain on the outside looking in.
- If you didn’t know any better, you might think the Shadow TURTWIG family was also debuting alongside its fellow GenIV starters, but it’s actually been out since 2019, as part of the fourth wave of Shadows introduced to GO. It’s been over four YEARS between its release and now, finally, its fellow generational starters. Niantic, your release schedule makes less and less sense with each passing year. But I digress. Shadow Turtwig is still good in Little League, and GROTLE and TORTERRA are interesting Cup Pokémon from time to time. But these aren’t new at all and you’ve likely encountered at least one in Shadow form if you’ve been playing PvP for a while.
And that’s it for our Shadow review! By means of quick summary, and in rough order, here’s how I rank the new Shadows in terms of priority:
- Shadow Froslass (Great League)
- Shadow Toxicroak (Great League, Ultra League)
- Shadow Ferrothorn (Great League)
- Shadow Empoleon (Great League)
- Shadow Tentacruel (Great League)
- Shadow Kyogre (Master League)
- …and then Shadow Crustle and the others
But there’s one more Pokémon to check in on during this event….
START YOUR ENGINES?Revavroom PoisonSteel
So you know how Galarian Weezing has come on (at least in certain Limited metas) with a favorable defensive typing combination, a selection of bait/coverage moves, and Overheat to slam the door on many opponents? Yeah, the new REVAROOM tries to do that too, but only partially succeeds.
Positive defensive typing combination? Check. As the only Poison/Steel type in the entire franchise thus far, Revavroom (and Varoom) resists Dragon, Flying, Ice, Normal, Rock, Steel, Bug (x2), Fairy (x2), Grass (x2), and Poison (x3), and is left weak to only Fire and doubly to Ground damage. That’s actually really, really good. But it is also Attack-weighted (as opposed to Galarian Weezing, to stick with the example I already used, which has a bit more HP and over 30 more Defense on average), which is rarely a good thing in PvP, and builds up to moves like Overheat noticeably slower than G-Weeze and its Fairy Wind. The Poison Jab Revavroom has instead is above average, but it’s nowhere close to Fairy Wind, leaving it feeling perhaps more sluggish than you’d like. Maybe it needs new spark plugs?
In the end, Revavroom is fine enough in both Great League and Ultra League, with the additional selling point of being able to mingle in Ultra without getting anywhere close to requiring XL Candy (even a Rank 1 only needs to hit Level 33.5). And it is capable of some pretty neat things, like dominating Grass and Fairy types while also smacking around other Poisons, Flyers, and even stuff like Giratina, Umbreon, Registeel, Obstagoon, Altaria, Cresselia, Lickitung, Trevenant and more across both Leagues.
End of the day, Revavroom has relatively unique reach and versatility, and seems to have “Limited meta star” written all over it. I just don’t see it doing quite enough to break into a role beyond that, in Open formats or the Play!Pokémon circuit or anything like that.
Alrighty, that’s it for now. Sorry again for the delay, but hopefully this still comes in time to help many of you. That’s always my #1 goal!
Thanks to PvPoke, GO Battle Log, and of course you, my dear readers… I appreciate your attention, encouragement, and this time, patience as I had to pivot and try to make up for lost time.
Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and good hunting during the event!