A PvP Analysis on the Timeless Travels Move Rebalance

Season 17 is here, and that means it’s time for the “Timeless Travels” Move Rebalance. Fifty six Pokémon have been given a new move, and dozens more have been affected by the various modified, existing moves in the game.

And the new season has officially arrived! So let’s not waste any more time and just dive right in on an analysis of what’s niftier (or not!) in the GBL Season 17 meta. Here. We. GOOOOOOO!

(I will quickly say right here up front that some of the simulations below MAY break a bit as the new season goes live. PvPoke was kind enough to create Season 16 and Season 17 versions of altered moves on their site but as those get normalized as Season 16 falls off, things could get a little wonky. For that same reason, some of the below reviews won’t have ANY sims linked, as I KNOW they’d be busted right after I post them. But bear with me, and trust that I DID check these all thoroughly. Statements made ARE based on solid data even if I can’t show it all. Alright, enough of that. Let’s press on!)


If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?

Last season, Trailblaze entered the game and was immediately distributed to a wide range of Pokémon, but only a small handful emerged as better off for it.

This season, Trailblaze is… once again distributed to a wide range of Pokémon with only a small handful better off for it.

I’m liable to tick off some big fans of things like Alolan Meowth/Persian, Cacturne, Dolliv/Arboliva, and whoever is trying to make Lokix work in PvP (Arceus bless you all), but I don’t think any of them get appreciably better with this move. Here are the Pokémon I think DO stand to benefit:

Oranguru NormalPsychic
  • Oranguru isn’t suddenly going to be become new meta, but compared to its former best, it is notable that Trailblaze allows it to punch out Medicham, Lanturn, and Mantine, and then it’s just a matter of whether you want Foul Play to handle Froslass and Shadow Gligar (probably my personal recommendation) or Future Sight for Noctowl and (specifically paired with Trailblaze) Dewgong instead. Either way, yes, The Guru is better with the variety and Attack boost Trailblaze provides rather than the Psychic and Dark moves it’s been locked behind to this point. The improvement in Ultra League is less pronounced but still there.
Greedent Normal
  • GREEDENT appreciates having another charge move option after being restricted to just two — Body Slam and Crunch — while ironically having four fast moves. There’s some debate on WHICH fast move to run, and now perhaps some debate on what charge move to use alongside the basically required Slam. Trying to keep this relatively simple, I’ll say that it kind of comes down to a matter of coverage in Ultra League, with Mud Shot/Crunch sniping both Giratinas, Mud Shot/Trailblaze instead handling Aurorus and Tapu Fini, and then Tackle OR Mud Shot getting Trevenant with Crunch or Shadow Swampert with Trailblaze. So basically a very solid sidegrade. Great League, however, is a different story, where I think I can say now that Trailblaze is a move you want, able to tack on things like Carbink, Swampert, Quagsire, and even Sableye (whereas Crunch still gets Trev, but uh… that’s about it?). I don’t think you throw your old Crunch Greedents away, but a switchover to Trailblaze DOES seem like something to seriously compare and consider.

Ariados BugPoison
  • Pretty much a pure sidegrade with ARIADOS as compared to what it has already, though the coverage could really surprise, with new wins like Swampert, Quagsire, Lanturn, and even Lickitung (as opposed to things like Toxicroak, Trevenant, and Dewgong that Megahorn can (at least sometimes) close out against instead. Doesn’t really make Ariados any more meta, but DOES make it a bit more interesting in formats where it already matters.
Raichu Electric Raichu (Alola) ElectricPsychic
  • And finally, the ones I am really excited about… the Super RAICHU Bros. Both of them! Obviously the coverage this gives Original Recipe Raichu some nifty new win potential like Water Gun Lanturn, Lickitung, Defense Deoxys, Trevenant (yes, really!), and IP/Psychic Medicham (!!!), though without the Brick Break I usually recommend on it, you do give up stuff like CharmTales, Umbreon, Vigoroth, A-Slash, and Bastiodon that BB can handle. The improvement in Ultra League, however, is pretty amazing, with new wins like Alolan Ninetales, Alolan Muk, Shadow Snorlax, and Defense Deoxys all popping up, though certain others like Charizard and Greninja can slip away. As for Alolan Raichu, it also enjoys new wins like Vigoroth, Cresselia, and Water Gun Lanturn in Great League (as compared to the results with its existing Grass move Grass Knot), and potentially a LOT of new wins in Ultra League, including Registeel, Alolan Ninetales, Alolan Muk, Drapion, Aurorus, Cobalion, Buzzwole, Shadow Snorlax, and Mandibuzz, and without suffering any notable new losses. Trailblaze deals 25 less damage than Grass Knot for the same energy cost, but the Attack boost that comes with it is what mostly works true wonders for AhChu. I think it may finally have a new odds-on favorite to run alongside Wild Charge.


🎼 Put your arms around me, baby

🎵 Put your arms around me, baby….

Ahem. Sorry, got carried away.

To date, only two Pokémon in the game (Bombirdier and Flying Pikachu) have the move Fly, which is probably the only reason it still… well, flies below the radar. It’s an excellent move with 80 damage for only 45 energy, a clone of much better known excellent move Drill Run, and strictly superior to Sky Attack, for example, by dealing 5 more damage for 5 less energy. <Insert chef’s kiss here.>

And now, it’s finally getting some wider distribution, with eleven new Pokémon receiving it from here forward. Several of them still don’t get appreciably better in PvP even with Fly, including Vikavolt (still far too glassy), Delibird (still far too meme and not meta), and the Braviary twins (still just not good enough, hampered in large part by sub-par Air Slash as a fast move). But, there are some real gems to discuss.

Staraptor NormalFlying
  • STARAPTOR has a bit less bulk than the Braviarys, but doesn’t have the same fast move issue… instead of being locked behind Air Slash, it comes with Wing Attack. And that along makes a big difference compared to what it could do with Brave Bird. And that is especially true in Ultra League, where Staraptor goes from this double self-nerfing madness to now THIS sudden breakout. Now it’s suddenly able to beat a number of things a Normal Flyer should be beating but it simply couldn’t before when constantly nerfing itself (such as Venusaur, Scizor, Toxicroak, Buzzwole, Greedent, Poliwrath, Jellicent and Shadow Claw A-Giratina) and a few very pleasant surprises (Umbreon, Granbull, Scizor, Shadow Snorlax among them). Even ShadowRaptor makes for a very nice alternative, dropping stuff Jelli, Umbreon, Granbull and Scizor, but gaining Gyarados, Guzzlord, Cresselia, Drapion, and Cobalion! It’s obviously still no Pidgeot, but might we see Staraptor fans finally be able to show off their favorite birb? We just might!
Rufflet NormalFlying
  • Going the other direction with a Great League only option, but a very good one, we have RUFFLET, the pre-evolution for Braviary that ironically performs MUCH better even with current moves, and even with hardly any XL investment. Fly is not a strict upgrade, but it is a very nice sidegrade, whiffing on things like Charizard and Mantine but adding Cresselia and Defense Deoxys. A spice pick, perhaps, but much better than your standard spice, IMO.
Talonflame FireFlying
  • Fly has also been handed to the entire TALONFLAME line, and while it does stand to improve FLETCHLING in Little League (finally giving it the closing power its other viable moves have lacked) and to a lesser degree FLETCHINDER in Great League, those are just appetizers to the main course, which of course (silly English language with two uses of “course” that mean entirely different things!) means Talonflame itself. Technically, Fly is actually a downgrade as compared to big Brave Bird, but that’s not the whole story, I don’t think. Fly makes Talon much less bait-reliant, as firing off a Brave Bird is usually immediately followed by a swap or a quick death. Fly has far less power than BB, of course, but it allows Talonflame to stay in longer and NOT have to rely on the standard bait games it’s come to be known for. Now there’s a new wrinkle in the shield-or-not games, as taking a Fly to the face could happen at any time and not just the Flame Charge-into-Brave Bird tempo everyone is used to. In short, the sims, helpful as they usually are, don’t do justice to the impact I think this move addition will end up having, Perhaps the best way I CAN illustrate this with simulation data is something like 2v2 shielding in Ultra League, where Fly leaves Brave Bird behind a bit. It’s nice to not HAVE to nerf yourself into oblivion to power through with a victory, and now, truly for the first time, Talonflame has that option. More on this fiery bird later when we bring the upgraded Incinerate into the equation….


On the opposite end of fiery birds, we have a couple of Ice moves being handed around too. First will be the easier of the two, as I believe that the things that got the still-new Triple Axel this season will perhaps be less impactful than those that got it during its initial release. For example….

Articuno IceFlying
  • Keeping in mind that Triple Axel has the exact same stats as Icy Wind, simply buffing the user’s Attack instead of reducing the opponent’s Attack, things that already have Wind will likely prefer to stick with it rather than jumping to Axel. Specifically, that means Delibird and ARTICUNO. Allow me to demonstrate with Ultra League (Wind vs Axel) and Master League (Wind vs Axel) results. Beefing up your own survivability is generally > boosting your own Attack in PvP.
Cryogonal Ice
  • CRYOGONAL lacks Icy Wind, and in fact its only Ice charge move is the lousy Aurora Beam. So yes, Triple Axel is an upgrade… but don’t expect to suddenly start seeing it in PvP. It’s better, but still kinda lousy itself.

Froslass IceGhost
  • That leads us to the last new recipient: FROSLASS. Now here we have a very good PvP Pokémon that basically doesn’t need Axel for a different reason: it already has Avalanche, which deals 30 more damage to the dome than Axel does, for the exact same 45 energy. Froslass already has enough power that whatever it follows up its first charge move with is likely to strike a critical or even knockout blow already, so beefing up the Attack a little with Axel won’t make a difference nearly as often as you might hope, but NOT dealing that extra damage that an unshielded Avalanche does WILL leave you missing it, likely much more often. And the sims show that, with Axel unable to overpower Pelipper and Mandibuzz as Avalanche can. (And Avalanche has an obvious advantage with shields down too.) Even in 2v2 shielding, where you would think that having two Axels shielded would allow it to pull away, Axel‘s advantage over Avalanche is so minor as to barely be worth mentioning (with just a new potential win over Mantine of note). I’m not going to say Triple Axel Froslass is bad or not worth using or anything, but I don’t see how it muscles aside the pure punching power that already makes Froslass a PvP standout. Now Icy Wind would be another story, but alas.

However, on that topic…. 🥶


Speaking of Icy Wind, I think you’re going to be seeing a lot more of it from here on out, as it also saw wider distribution to some already established PvP beasts. And basically everything getting it is better off for it.

Arctibax IceDragon
  • …well, mostly. For ARCTIBAX, we have more of a sidegrade situation, with a similar dilemma to what we had with Froslass: existing Avalanche versus new Icy Wind. The meta wins and losses (at least versus the pre-Season 17 meta) are the same across the board, though it’s worth noting that Avalanche actually performs slightly better in several matchups… which makes sense, since it’s the closing move alongside spammy but low powered Dragon Claw. Probably just as unsurprising that Avalanche is better with shields down, and Icy Wind a bit better in 2v2 shielding (with a bonus win over Cresselia). As I said, a solid sidegrade that is probably best decided by playstyle.
Avalugg (Hisuian) IceRock
  • At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have a Master League specialist: HISUIAN AVALUGG. I wrote about this big lugg a year ago and noted it already had potential in Master League, with Ice being a VERY potent typing in ML and the Rock subtyping being more blessing than curse at that level. But it’s always been a little awkward, with big slow Blizzard offering its big Ice type damage, and Rock Slide being a nice STAB bait/coverage move, but Rock doesn’t have a ton of great targets in Master League. Enter Icy Wind, which is a hair slow to beat Yveltal as Rock Slide can, but adds on Zarude, Landorus, Mud Shot Garchomp, Zekrom, and even Palkia instead. If you built up one for ML already, you are definitely going to enjoy the upgrade.
Abomasnow GrassIce
  • At first glance, there’s really no room for Icy Wind on ABOMASNOWWeather Ball already has spammy Ice damage covered, and you basically always want Energy Ball for coverage, right? Maybe, maybe not. While it’s true that the speed of Weather Ball is needed to outrace things like Pelipper and Charizard, but Powder Snow/Icy Wind wears down Quagsire, Sableye, Umbreon, Steelix, Galarian Stunfisk and others. VERY impressive pickups, don’t you think? It’s better in other even shield scenarios too, such as 2v2 shielding where it again loses Pelipper, but gains Umbreon, Quagsire, Clodsire, and even Froslass! Similar bump in Ultra League too, with Icy Wind gaining Snorlax, Steelix, Umbreon, and Drapion that Weather Ball can’t finish off. The improvement is even more dramatic with ShadowBama, with wins versus Galarian Stunfisk, Steelix, Snorlax, Guzzlord, Cresselia, Virizion and more that Weather Ball can’t replicate. Weather Ball looks like it generally still holds the edge for ShadowBama in Great League though, where it has less bulk to play around with. I’m not saying with all this that Weather Ball Aboma is going away… it very likely will not, as people are used to (and very comfortable with) its current battle rhythm. But Icy Wind DOES look like something well worth trying out!

Wigglytuff NormalFairy
  • So I honestly didn’t expect a whole lot when I considered Icy Wind WIGGLYTUFF, but perhaps I should have given it more credit. Icy Wind comes two Charms earlier than Ice Beam AND extends Wiggly’s life by debuffing the opponent. This all on top of a Charmer that resists Ghost damage and has long been a personal favorite for that very reason. Add it all up, and suddenly Wiggly is looking quite scary, gaining wins versus Cresselia and even a trio of big Ice types: Froslass, Alolan Sandslash (absorbing two debuffed Drill Runs along the way while hitting A-Slash for continually resisted damage), and fellow Charmer Alolan Ninetales (all as compared to Wiggly’s former best). Might Wiggly suddenly emerge as THE go-to Charmer in competitive GL PvP? We’ll have to see, but it certainly enters the discussion. Just look at what this monster can now do in 2v2 shielding! 😱
Poliwrath WaterFighting
  • And finally, part one of an impressive two-part tale on POLIWRATH. I think Icy Wind just straight up replaces Ice Punch now. Wind deals 5 more damage for only 5 more energy than Punch (leaving them both with nearly identical Damage Per Energy), and of course comes with the big debuff, allowing Poliwrath to hang in longer and throw down more and more Counter damage. There are MANY sims I ran that I could thow out to show it, but I’ll just ask that you trust me when I say that Wind is an upgrade almost entirely across the board, the bigger gains being non-Shadow in GL (new wins include Shadow Swampert, Noctowl, Cofagrigus, and Water Gun Lanturn!) and Shadow in UL (gains like Registeel — no Dynamic Punch required! — and Charizard, Gliscor, Gyarados, and Cofagrigus). Both are looking quite a bit up, and that’s even before factoring in the OTHER buff Poliwrath is getting in this rebalance….


So admittedly, the buff to Scald isn’t overly exciting… or is it? The damage increase is nice, going from 80 up to 85 base damage, giving it the same stats as Crabhammer with the potential debuff to the opponent’s Attack tacked on. But it’s only 5 damage, which is not likely to matter ALL that often.

What DOES perhaps matter is the other part of its buff: “greater chance to lower the opposing Pokémon’s Attack by one stage”. Currently this is a 30% chance, so if it’s going to be raised, it will likely move up to 40% chance or better. PvPoke has speculated it’s 40% exactly, and even that small bump leads to some intriguing results.

With the caveat that this is speculative until we know what Niantic’s definition of “greater chance” means, here’s what I’m seeing. I apologize for the lack of sims, as any that I post for a speculative move like this will break as soon as PvPoke is updated with the actual stats, so for now I’ll have to go with a “trust me, bro” approach.

Poliwrath WaterFighting
  • POLIWRATH gets a second buff, though it is far less exciting than what Icy Wind does for it. In Great League, Poliwrath gains potential wins over (Snarl) Mandibuzz and Shadow CharmTales in 0shield, and nothing that I see of particular note in other even shield scenarios. However, Shadow Poliwrath can beat Clodsire (Sting/Bomb/Quake) and Water Gun Lanturn in 1shield, which are both nice pickups. In Ultra League, the only notable change I see is gaining Registeel with shields down, but that IS a nice one to get. And of course, simulations are notoriously bad at working with X% Chance buffs and debuffs, so these could vary a bit depending on whether or not the debuff goes off. I suspect Poliwrath might make out even a bit better than sims show… but again, it’s Icy Wind that really changes Wrath’s fate in this update.
Tentacruel WaterPoison
  • The other existing Scald user of note is TENTACRUEL, and unlike Poliwrath, it seems to have potentially quite a bit to gain! In Great League, it gains Carbink and Umbreon in 2shield, and potentially Clodsire, Cresselia, Sableye, and Mandibuzz in 1shield, though most of those aided by one of the multiple Scalds it fires off triggering the debuff on the opponent moreso than the increased damage. In Ultra League, potential new wins include Nidoqueen, Alolan Muk, Toxicroak, Scrafty, Empoleon, Greedent, and Shadow Snorlax… but again, while some (like Toxicroak) are done in by the added damage, most of those are reliant on one of your several Scalds going off for the debuff at some point. Still, the fact that even a 40% chance means that it often IS in the sims is a good sign. Anything higher than 40% and Tentacthulhu is likely to move up in the meta for sure.

Honestly, many of the new recipients of Scald already have options that are, if not better options in a vacuum, at least better options for those specific Pokémon. These include all the SLOWS (Bros and Kings) with Surf, QWILFISH with its existing Aqua Tail (and usually Sludge Wave to close things out), and CRAWDAUNT (still nothing more than situational spice). There are a few notables, however:

Politoed Water
  • POLITOED likely still wants to keep Weather Ball instead. But I do think Scald may become a viable alternative. In Great League, Weather Ball/Earthquake outspams things like Jellicent, Water Gun Lanturn, Swampert, and Shadow Alolan Ninetales, while Scald instead overpowers Shadow Charizard, Gligar, Scrafty, and Cofagrigus. Weather Ball/Ice Beam can take down ShadowTales, Quagsire, A-Slash, and Swampert, while Scald instead nabs ShadowZard, Cofag, Scrafty, Dewgong, and Froslass, for a few examples. Ultra League offers similar tradeoffs, with Weather Ball getting names like Registeel, Steelix, Greedent, Charizard, and Shadow Swampert, and Scald can instead beat stuff like DDeoxys, Escavalier, Buzzwole, Mandibuzz, and Gliscor. Recommend running some sims of your own if you’re considering a switch… this looks like it’s a matter of preference, and I didn’t even note the changes that come with Shadow Toed!
Suicune Water
  • I’m not sure how far it may rise, but SUICUNE definitely appreciates the addition of Scald. It’s been locked behind low power Bubble Beam, crazy expensive Hydro Pump, or very subpar move Water Pulse as its Water charge moves forever. Scald plus Ice Beam powered by fast move Snarl make it look MUCH more interesting to my eyes, and I haven’t seen anyone really talking about it yet.
Lotad WaterGrass Ludicolo WaterGrass
  • The LOTAD family may appreciate this too. Lotad itself is a nice option in Little League, and Scald gives it paths to victory over Nidoqueen and Toxicroak there. LUDICOLO already has a decent set of moves with Bubble/Leaf Storm/Ice Beam, but swapping out Ice Beam for Scald gives it a win over Umbreon in Great League, and Umbreon, Steelix, Scizor, and Snorlax in Ultra League, not to mention what the upgraded Bubble does for it as well. (More on that shortly.)

Whiscash WaterGround
  • Yes, I think WHISCASH is going to appreciate not having to go for the Hail Mary Blizzard when Mud Bomb spam won’t cut it. While Blizzard is still a nice trick that can knock out things like Gilgar and sometimes Shadow Swampert, Scald just makes it much more versatile and scary with new wins like Medicham (even with pre-nerf Psychic {the move}), Scrafty, Umbreon, Diggersby, and Defense Deoxys. Nice! The least versatile Mud Boy just become quite a bit more interesting.
Wailmer Water
  • And finally, some fun spice I am very happy to point out: WAILMER with Scald adds on wins against Clodsire, Quagsire, Defense Deoxys, Vigoroth, Steelix, Umbreon, and potentially Bastiodon too, and exceeds a 50% winrate now versus the Great League core meta. Fun, right?


A way overused phrase in PvP anymore, but there ARE a number of moves that are now indeed strictly better than they were before. Let’s briefly go over them and things that benefit most from their improvement.

Azumarill WaterFairy
  • Bubble was nerfed over three years ago, mostly to target AZUMARILL that was everywhere at the time. But now it’s back and better than ever, and Azu is rising back up with it. The Blue Bunny Of Doom already capably handled a rising portion of the meta, to include names like Medicham, Galarian Stunfisk, Carbink, Gligar, Alolan Ninetales, Shadow Swampert, Steelix, Toxicroak, and basically anything and everything Dark. But now, with a newly resurgent Bubble, it looks capable of adding on things like Froslass, Vigoroth, and non-Shadow Swampert too. Azumarill was already on the cusp of re-emerging as the meta has evolved around it, but now? Now it’s ranked #1 in Great League and it’s easy to understand why. Welcome back, you evil blue bunny overlord, you.
Jellicent WaterGhost
  • I DO think Hex JELLICENT is generally still the way to go, especially in Ultra League where it’s needed for things like Swampert, Walrein, Trevenant, the Giratinas, and the mirror (with Bubble really only being notably better versus things like Steelix and Snorlax), but in Great League, improved Bubble should emerge as a very solid sidegrade with wins like Scrafty, Quagsire, Shadow Gligar, Bastiodon, and Carbink now becoming possible. (Hex is still better for stuff like Froslass and Ghosts in general, Mantine and Waters in general, and the mirror specifically.) I already saw a fair number of Bubble Jellis in the closing days of Season 16, and I expect that to only grow in the new Season 17. One other one to point out: Bubble MANTINE gets more interesting, but I still don’t see how (at least in Open play) you can justify it over the still-better-performing Wing Attack.
Solgaleo PsychicSteel Marowak (Alola) FireGhost
  • In short, while I will continue picking at analysis on it moving forward in respective metas, I don’t think anything that has the slightly better Fire Spin and wasn’t using it will suddenly want it now. I believe Wing Attack CHARIZARD is still the odds-on favorite, TALONFLAME has no reason to move off of Incinerate (especially after the buff it got!), and so on. Things that already are “stuck” with it like SOLGALEO and ALOLAN MAROWAK are thankful, but I don’t see them moving up much in their respective metas. The bump is appreciated, just not nearly as impactful as…

  • …the BIG boost to Fires that comes with the terrifying new version of Incinerate. 🔥 Again, I apologize for NOT showing the sims you’re used to as we transition from last season’s stats to this new season’s stats (including all the simulations on PvPoke), but trust me when I say that anything with Incinerate just became beastly. TALONFLAME can now beat things it couldn’t before, like Dewgong, Froslass, Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and Steelix in Great League, and DDeoxys, Golisopod, Snorlax, and even Empoleon and Guzzlord in Ultra League. Look out! And the SKELEDIRGE hype train keeps on rolling, as it now adds Dewgong, A-Slash, G-Fisk, Steelix, Trevenant, and Vigoroth in GL and Mandibuzz, Snorlax, Charizard, Empoleon, and Altered Giratina in UL. Even TYPHLOSION becomes interesting with new wins that include DDeoxys, Cresselia, A-Slash, and Noctowl in Great League and Nidoqueen, Snorlax, Alolan Muk, Drapion, Gliscor, and Dubwool in Ultra League. And up in Master League, HO-OH adds Snorlax and even Dragonite (with Brave Bird) or Excadrill and Mamoswine (with Earthquake) to an already-impressive winlist.
Klefki SteelFairy
  • Astonish finally got its big buff, now dealing nearly twice as much damage and becoming a clone of Ice Shard (3.0 DPT, 3.33 EPT). Unfortunately, Niantic waited SO long that this may be a case of too little, too late. It used to be that things like Runerigus, Palossand, Decidueye, and Dunsparce desperately needed an Astonish buff to be viable, but now they all have better fast move options, and that mostly still rings true even after this belated buff. It DOES make the few things that lack better fast moves better, like EXPLOUD and KLEFKI, but with the possible exception of Klef (which looks to at least gain wins like Medicham, Froslass, and Jellicent), this sort of improvement I’ve been campaigning for for so long doesn’t get to have the pomp and circumstance it would have a few months or years ago. But I’m still happy for it! Better late than never?
  • Iron Tail has been buffed… but you can mostly continue to not care. Similar to Astonish, everything interesting that has it already has more interesting fast move options. Next!
Gastrodon WaterGround Rhyperior RockGround
  • I’ve always had a soft spot for GASTRODON for its uniqueness among the Mud Boys in having Mud Slap. Now that Slap… well, slaps with extra energy (up from 2.66 to 3.0, making it a quite respectable 3.66 DPT/3.0 EPT move), Gastrodon has some very interesting corebreaker potential with Medicham, Vigoroth, Scrafty, Umbreon, and Azumarill (even with buffed Bubble, and any combination of Azu’s charge moves) all moving into the win column. Veeeeeeeeery interesting! The only other Slapper of particular note, I think, is RHYPERIOR in Master League, which (combined with Rock Wrecker and Surf, since Breaking Swipe is trending down) picks up Metagross, Ursaluna, Shadow Ball Mewtwo, Mud Shot Garchomp, and even Yveltal, Gyarados, and Altered Giratina! Might see Rhyperior continue to make an impact even with the slashing of Breaking Swipe’s effectiveness.

Which brings us to the few backwards slides with this rebalance….


Not much to talk about here, but here’s what we got.

Medicham FightingPsychic
  • Yes, Psychic (the move!) got debuffed for the second season in a row, now down to a sickly 75 damage for its 55 energy. Blech. But even with THAT, primary target MEDICHAM barely notices. It drops only Swampert in 0shield, Spark Lanturn in 1shield, and nothing of note in 2shield. Yes, obviously some other matchups become shakier, and Medicham IS undoubtedly worse with this change. Maybe it will now shift to Dynamic Punch to close out, or even something like Power-Up Punch/Ice Punch. But believe it or not, regular old boring Ice Punch/Psychic Medicham may not even be going anywhere. I’ve been saying it for a while now, and seem to still be in the minority, but the way to drive down Medicham usage is not by nerfing its moves. There’s no closing that Pandora’s Box now. The way to hold it back is by elevating its counters. And with the rise of Azumarill and Skarmory and others coming out of this rebalance, I DO think that may be happening now. We’ll see!
Steelix SteelGround
  • Breaking Swipe has been dropped from having a 100% chance to drop the opponent’s Attack to a mere 50%. Thankfully, we should now see far less Steelixes. Unfortunately, Rayquaza and Haxorus and others will now suffer when they commited no crime. Not like the mass murdering that Steelix was responsible for, at least. RIP.


There ARE some really good new options here, so don’t mistake this section as “all the other crap you don’t need to worry about”. Quite the contrary! It’s just that these are more limited in scope, often to just a single Pokémon. But again, GOOD STUFF IN HERE!

Lucario FightingSteel
  • Blaze Kick got a slight boost, though it doesn’t seem to make a big difference for the things that have it. The only one of any real note is LUCARIO, for which new and improved Blaze Kick makes it more of a viable alternative to Power-Up Punch with wins like Venusaur, Shadow Victreebel, Trevenant, and even Diggersby that PuP cannot reliably replicate. (It instead is better versus things like Water Gun Lanturn, Mantine, and Cresselia, pumping up Shadow Ball to lethal levels.)
Skarmory SteelFlying
  • More exciting is a return to form for fellow Steel SKARMORY with the buffed Steel Wing. Even pre-buff Steel Wing was an underrated alternative for Skarm, trading things Air Slash can beat like Jellicent, Medicham, Pelipper, Toxicroak, and Trevenant to instead defeat Carbink, Lickitung, Froslass, Alolan Sandslash, Shadow Alolan CharmTales, and Azumarill. But now, new and improved Steel Wing makes for much more of an upgrade than mere sidegrade, able to beat basically everything Air Slash can except Jellicent and Toxicroak, and adding on all those things I just listed PLUS Sableye and Scrafty. It goes from a 42% winrate against the meta to a 57% winrate and might be worth dusting off again now! (I’ll have to check again later, but Steel Wing got a +2 energy buff instead of the expected +1, so this will end up even better!)
Vigoroth Normal
  • VIGOROTH players have always had to hold their nose a bit when using Bulldoze. Yes, it can finish off things that Viggy struggles to defeat with Body Slam, such as Registeel, but it’s not a very good move, costing a whole 60 energy for only 80 damage. Against neutral targets, you can get to two Body Slams for over 120 damage for only 10 more energy than one Bulldoze. But now comes the truly viable second charge move Vigoroth has been begging for since day one: Rock Slide. While it doesn’t wow with the numbers, it DOES have an impact, bringing in wins versus things like Froslass and Alolan Ninetales. Basically it becomes more versatile at the cost of giving up some Steels and maybe some Ground types (which both resist Rock, and the former resists Body Slam too). Do keep in mind, though, that STAB Body Slam deals only 2-3 less damage than non-STAB Rock Slide against neutral targets, and Rock Slide costs 10 more energy. Even after this change, it’s usually going to be a case of just Body Spamming Slamming to victory. But it’s nice to have options!
Sandslash (Alola) IceSteel
  • I feel like I should at least note that ALOLAN SANDSLASH gets Aerial Ace. In theory, this gives it something to throw at Fighters that prey on its double weakness (Drill Run already responds to most Fire types that do the same). But in reality, I think this is a move you just want the opponent to THINK that maybe you have rather than actually running it. Maybe that will force an extra shield here or there. But regardless of fast move, I can’t see how you want to NOT go with Drill Run and Ice Punch. Maybe the right Limited meta will bolster the case for Ace, but I’m having trouble imagining it.
Toxicroak FightingPoison
  • And our last one-off is a big one, IMO: TOXICROAK is getting Shadow Ball. While moving away from the slightly cheaper (and STAB) Sludge Bomb means giving up things like Noctowl and sometimes Trevenant and on-the-rise Azumarill, running Ball means you GAIN Ghosts like Cofagrigus, and the big prize is Medicham, even with pre-nerf Psychic (the move). New Top Fighter alert? 🤔 Similarly, in Ultra League, you lose pressure on Fairies like Tapu Fini and Alolan Ninetales to instead gain things like Venusaur (1shield) and Escavalier, Trevenant, AND Shadow Swampert (0shield, though you also someties give up Poliwrath in the process).

And for today, that’s it! I’m out of Reddit characters and time… the new season has begun! Hopefully this gives you something to get started in this new PvP landscape. Best of luck!

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 as we kick off this season, 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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