A PvP Field Guide to NYC GO Fest 2023: What to Catch, Raid, and Research

Pokémon GOFest continues this weekend in New York City! There are lots of interesting Pokémon in raids, research, and in the wild, so today I’m publishing a new PvP Field Guide for the event. Not all of you may need it, but some certainly WILL be looking for something akin to this, so here you go: JRE’s opinions on what GOFesters should prioritize hunting down this weekend while you have the chance!

The bulk of this analysis will be what’s new, mostly Legendaries and Mythicals (some with new moves). But I’ll have a quick “ranking” of wild spawns from the various habitats at the end, with a few highlighted in particular. And I will be borrowing liberally from the guide I published for Osaka and London GOFests, as some may notice. It’s not plagiarism if you’re “stealing” from your own past writings, right? 😅


Rayquaza DragonFlying

So not all that long ago, I did an analysis on Breaking Swipe Rayquaza and was lauding the sudden potential the big guy finally had in PvP. Particularly in Master League, where it went from this all the way up to this. The problem still remained, however, of what second charge move to run. Hurricane is generally considered the best because of the coverage it can provide (without it, RayRay is completely walled by things that resist Dragon damage) and the closing power, but Outrage had some play too (or even something like Ancient Power).

With all these options, you may not think Rayquaza would be looking for another move even more expensive than all of those, but here comes Dragon Ascent, a 70-energy Flying move (5 more energy than Hurricane) that deals a whopping 150 damage (40 more damage than Hurricane!), second in Flying-type moves only to the amazing Aeroblast that’s exclusive to Lugia. Yes, it’s even more expensive on a relatively flimsy Dragon that generates only the average 3.0 Energy Per Turn with its preferred fast move (Dragon Tail), but consider this: with Dragon Tail being a three-turn move, each one actually generates 9 energy (3.0 Energy Per Turn x3), so after seven Tails, you’re sitting at 63 energy, 2 short of firing off Hurricane. Adding on one more Tail gets you over the 65 energy needed… but it’s ALSO enough to fire off 70-energy Dragon Ascent anyway. Similarly, after baiting with a 35-energy Breaking Swipe, seven more Dragon Tails gets you to only 64 energy, again just short of what’s needed for Hurricane, and again it takes one additional Tail to get to the energy necessary for Hurricane OR Dragon Ascent. In short: with the way Dragon Tail generates energy, in most cases you won’t even notice that Dragon Ascent is more expensive than Hurricane, as they will very often both become charged on the same turn anyway.

“Yeah yeah, that’s great, JRE. But what does that MEAN?” Put simply, in the common 1-1 shielding scenarios, either of the Flying closing moves makes beating Zacian (minus Play Rough) possible (not surprisingly, Outrage can’t do that, and Dragon Ascent allows RayRay to overcome Xerneas! Well… assuming you successfully shield the Moonblast. Aaaaaaaaaand only until Xerneas gets Geomancy instead of the Tackle it’s stuck with now.

In short, it’s no worse than Hurricane, but not appreciably better either. Where you’ll see it pop a bit is with shields down, where Dragon Ascent has the power to knock out Sylveon and Zacian (even WITH Play Rough now!) while Hurricane falls short. With that in mind, yes, it’s fair to call Dragon Ascent a slight upgrade overall. Not a drastic improvement, but very much viable and probably preferrable to Hurricane (and Ray’s other non-Breaking Swipe moves) going forward. For those going to Osaka or London: get it while you can. But for those who aren’t… you’re not missing out on TOO much by waiting. Win-win?


Carbink FairyRock

I already did a PvP analysis on CARBINK which I highly recommend checking out, but in short… it’s very, very good in Great League. But ONLY in Great League, with a CP that maxes out at 1658 (and only 1467 at Level 40, so this thing requires XLs no matter what). Use the fact that it’s in raids to grind for the candy and XL Candy it requires, and hope to land like a 14-15-15, which is just as good as a higher rank IV one and MUCH cheaper to build (only need to get to Level 42.5). Good luck!

But the star of the show at this year’s GOFests (as indicated by “The Season of Hidden Gems” and the obvious gem theme of GOFest itself) is another Fairy/Rock type: the Mythical (and long-awaited) DIANCIE.

Diancie FairyRock

In MSG, Diancie is “a sudden transformation of Carbink”, and so it’s not a big surprise that (at the time of this writing, at least) they share the exact same moves. This means that in Great League, where Carbink has the fourth highest stat product of ALL PokémonCarbink excels, while Diancie, with a stat product ranked around #230 (roughly the same as things like Dragalge, Grotle, Drapion, and the mighty Spoink), struggles in Great League. While Diancie can beat most big name Fire, Ice, Dark, Flying, and/or Dragon types (as you’d expect of a Fairy/Rock), Carbink goes on from there to ALSO beat many Fighters (Medicham and Scrafty, most notably) and quasi-Fighters (things like Vigoroth and Obstagoon), notable Ghosts and Ghost damage dealers (Jellicent, Sableye, Cofagrigus, Alolan Sandslash), and other impressive wins like Lickitung, Lanturn, and Drapion. Carbink does all that, and Diancie just can’t.

What Diancie CAN do is play in bigger Leagues, and it looks much more interesting in that context. Ultra League Diancie is okay, still struggling with Fighters, but nicely clobbering the large number of Dragon, Dark, Flying, Ice, and Fire types in the UL meta, as well as bonuses like Snorlax, Dubwool, Golisopod, Greedent, and Charmers like Granbull, Sylveon, and Clefable. I think it definitely has a role to play, and Ultra League is THE League I think I would want to prep one for…

…because it is held back in Master League. Not because it doesn’t have a good typing and moves to compete, but because it tops out at a barely-over-3000 CP. I imagine Mega Diancie may break out in Mega Master League (whenever that returns), and as my friend and colleague u/Teban54 recently wrote about, there is certainly wisdom in powering Diancie up for PvE use. But strictly in terms of PvP, I would get one built for Ultra League and stop there. It’s the best bang for your buck.


Yveltal DarkFlying Xerneas Fairy

If you’re looking for Master League impact and are disappointed by Diancie, remember that YVELTAL and XERNEAS will be in raids for GOFest ticketholders, and they will have their new moves as well! I wrote a longer analysis on both earlier this week, but so you don’t have to jump around too much, here’s a shorter summary of their pros and cons.

Both Yvette and Xernie were already good enough to use in Master League without any move tweaks, but yes, both are now better with those new moves. Yveltal with new Oblivion Wing has an easier time in the mirror match and, like Rayquaza with Dragon Ascent, can blow past Xerneas (those that still have fast move Tackle, that is), though it does lose to Lugia without Dark Pulse. And getting cute with Oblivion Wing/Dark Pulse causes other problems, as big Focus Blast is key to have a shot at taking down Ursaluna, Excadrill, and Dialga, which is no bueno. I think Oblivion Wing/Focus Blast will likely be the standard going forward, though existing Dark Pulse variants will still have a place too.

As for Xerneas, the improvement it will see with Geomancy — finally giving it the Fairy fast move players have been begging for since its initial release over two years ago — cannot be understated. SEVEN new wins become possible. Some, like Yveltal (even with Oblivion Wing), Garchomp, and both Giratinas (as well as unlisted-in-that-sim Dragon Ascent Rayquaza, which beats Xerneas with Tackle), are rather obvious. Others like Lugia are less obvious but make sense, with Tackle generating only 3.0 Energy Per Turn, but Geomancy hitting the game with 4.33 EPT and thus spamming Xernie’s big charge moves for match-flipping damage. And still others are pleasant surprises, like Melmetal and Excadrill, thanks again to the superior energy of Geomancy leading to more Close Combats that Steels hate. In this way, it can beat Diagla in ALL even shield scenarios. Or if you don’t want to go the self-nerfing route, you can stick to straight Moonblast and still win with shields down and 1v1 shielding, which is pretty nifty! If you already built a Xerneas and don’t feel like making that grind again, I DO think Geomancy is worth an Elite TM, but if you’re still working on building one up, bye-bye Tackle… Geomancy Xernie is clearly THE way to go from here on out.


Time to get to the wild spawns during these events. As with other recent GOFests, these are mostly tied to certain habitats, and below I will cover each of those habitats and briefly talk about the priority targets from each (again, strictly from a PvP perspective). But there is one spawn that is worth talking about that will be available in ALL habitats… and no, I don’t mean Unown or Amethyst Crown Pikachu. 😝 I’m talking about the first chance many will have at landing themselves SIGILYPH.

Normally, the odd “Avianoid Pokémon” is available only in a relatively small area of the world that primarily includes Egypt, Israel, and Greece, so this is a great opportunity to flesh out your Pokédex. But unfortunately, I think its usefulness ends there, as it’s just not very good in PvP, be it Great League or Ultra League. Part of this is subpar bulk, part is a typing combination that has more vulnerabilities than resistances, but the greatest part is just dull moves. Air Slash is its only viable fast move, and its best charge moves (Bug-type Signal Beam and Rock-type Ancient Power) lack STAB damage and cohesion. Just what are you expecting to beat with a hodgepodge of Flying, Bug, and Rock damage? Grasses, sure, but not much else. Now it DOES learn some okay-ish moves in MSG that could help it, but not very much. Not every new addition can be a star, and I think Sigilyph will remain just a ‘dex filler (albeit a very rare one that is WELL worth scooping up for trading to your local community when you get back home!).

Now for the rest of the spawns. Note that most are the base form that you want to evolve up for PvP. There is an infographic in the works to summarize all these, though it may not be ready until Thursday, so check for that later. But for now, I’ll use the following key as a quick reference.


A couple quick notes of markings I’ll be adding to Pokémon throughout:

🌑 – Shadow consideration. Not all Shadows are better, but most are viable alternatives, so check and see if you have de-Frustrated candidates to build up too!

🌕 – Purified consideration. Some things are just better, or at least equally viable, with Return.

🏋️ – Legacy/Exclusive Move Required. At the time of this writing, we’re not expecting anything caught during the event (other than Rayquaza) will be coming with any moves outside of their normal movepool, so these will require Elite TMs to get their needed Legacy moves. I will spell out any such move(s) specifically per Pokémon.

💰 – High XL Investment. Obviously anything in Master League requires all 296 XL Candy to max, but this is more to denote things that require deep XL investment to work best in Ultra or even Great League. Even if you have a good specimen or two of these species already, you may need more XLs to finish them off, so this is your grinding opportunity!

And to make it EVEN easier, with a quick visual reference while you’re out grinding, here’s each habitat with the priority spawns to grind out for each one! Note the emoji by each habitat, as I will be using those as I go into detail on some of these spawns below the table.

Habitat Priority Spawns (in rough order)
Prehistoric Volcano 🌋 Dratini, Shieldon, Axew, Slugma, Darumaka, Kangaskhan
Poison Swamp ☣️ Pawniard, Zubat, Skorupi, Tentacool, Skrelp, Venipede
Cursed Treaures ☠️ Sableye, Yamask, Gastly, Snorlax, Nosepass, Eevee
Athletic Field 🏟️ Lucario, Hitmonchan, Zangoose, Voltorb, Hitmontop, Baltoy

All that out of the way… let’s see what we’ve got to work with!


These Pokémon should be your highest priority to hunt down if you still lack them in your PvP arsenal. If you pursue nothing else during GOFest, lock up a good one (or several) of each of these!


Dratini Dragon

Little League Priority: MODERATE (Dratini)

Great League Priority: HIGH (Dragonair, Dragonite)

Ultra League Priority: HIGH (Dragonite)

Master League Priority: VERY HIGH (Dragonite)

There are a couple other Pokemon I might rank higher in terms of overall PvP utility, but the Dratini/Dragonair/Dragonite line still has that in spades, AND is far rarer outside of events than most everything else listed below. I probably don’t need to extol the well-known virtues of Master League Dragonite (to include the Shadow version), especially since it got Superpower a few months back, but it also has potential in Great League (especially in certain Cup formats) and Ultra League as well. If there’s any of those levels where you lack a good one, this is a GREAT chance to remedy that. Also don’t forget underrated Great League Dragonair and Little League Dratini too, ideally both in Shadow form but that’s not strictly necessary. If nothing else, grind candy and XLs!


Pawniard DarkSteel

Little League Priority: HIGH (Pawniard)

Great League Priority: MODERATE (Bisharp)

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE (Bisharp)

Master League Priority: n/a

A very unique opportunity to get Pawniard under 500 CP for Little League, where it’s actually quite good, beating many big names like Deino, Swinub, Vullaby, Igglybuff, Onix, Chansey, A-Shrew, Stunky, and the great evil known as Bronzor, among others. Even a Research level Pawnie is too big to squeeze into Little League, so use this unique chance to land one for you own squad!

As for Bisharp, if I’m being honest, it’s really a spice option at best, in both Great and Ultra League. There have been a couple metas where it has kinda-sorta worked on the right team, but I don’t see it ever moving beyond fringe. Still, Little League Pawniard make this a worthy target.


Sableye DarkGhost

Little League Priority: MODERATE

Great League Priority: VERY HIGH

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

I mean, do you need me to extol the virtues of Sableye at this point? It has stood tall on the biggest stages in PvP, like being the 7th most common Pokémon of the Top 32 Teams in the world (at this past weekend’s Pokemon World Championships… credit Dracoviz and my old buddy u/PolymersUp for that info). It’s not that it posts the most eye-popping numbers overall, because even with #1 IVs, it really really doesn’t. But where it’s good, it’s REALLY good, and that includes against some of the toughest and most common picks in all of Great League. This is absolutely one you want the best possible specimen of, so if you need a better one — or just XL Candy for a hopefully-Purified-with-Return Sable you’re already working on — this is a golden opportunity to capitalize and by far the best target in the Cursed Treasures habitat.


Lucario FightingSteel

Little League Priority: HIGH

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: LOW

I still recommend getting your Great League (and even Ultra League, if you want one) Lucario via an already-second-moved Riolu, since you’ll save 65,000 dust that way. But either way, Luc is something you should definitely have in your arsenal if you play any Cup formats, as it excels in several. This is also a super rare opportunity to get a Little League Lucario, and it has sneaky good potential there if ever allowed in Little Cups.


Shieldon RockSteel

Little League Priority: LOW-MODERATE (Shieldon)

Great League Priority: HIGH (Bastiodon)

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

Another one that probably needs little explanation: Shieldon rocks in Little League! No, of course, I’m actually talking about Bastiodon, the Big Bad of Great League. Ol’ Pancake Face doesn’t show up much in big tournaments (because that condensed meta tends to have teams stocked with direct counters to it), but it’s still a common encounter in GBL and likely always will be with its nigh-legendary bulk. Number 1 IVs goes all the way to Level 50, so if nothing else, grind those XL Candies! A good Bastie should be on every PvPer’s bench.

ZUBAT 🌑🌕☣️

Zubat PoisonFlying

Little League Priority: HIGH (Zubat)

Great League Priority: HIGH (Golbat)

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE (Crobat)

Master League Priority: n/a

All three are good in their respective Leagues: Zubat in Little League, long-time budget hero Golbat in Great League, and Crobat in Ultra. All took a slight hit with the eventual Poison Fang nerf (well, not really Golbat since Wing Attack was eventually buffed to compensate), but all are still stars in certain Limited metas and viable in Open play on the right team, too. Shadow versions of all three are comparable, as are Zubat and Golbat with Return if you purify them (in place of Sludge Bomb for Zubat — a Legacy move, BTW — or Shadow Ball for Golbat). These are not rare spawns outside of events, but if you’re there anyway, may as well scoop some up at GOFest with the boosted shiny odds, right?


Yamask Ghost

Little League Priority: MODERATE

Great League Priority: VERY HIGH

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

Take everything about Sableye and rinse and repeat for Cofagrigus, with some differences. Sableye takes the cake in resistances and vulnerabilities with its Dark/Ghost typing, being weak to ONLY Fairy and having four resistances. Cofagrigus, as a mono-Ghost, comes with more standard resistances, though it IS also bulkier. In the end, Sableye is better, but Cofag is still a good one to have on hand in Great League as well and can do some things even Sable can’t, like beating Azumarill, Swampert, Walrein, Alolan Ninetales, Venusaur, and even Registeel. (But Sable can instead take out things like G-Fisk, Trevenant, Scrafty, A-Slash, Jellicent, Lanturn, Froslass, Drapion… and Cofag itself.) The one big advantage Cofag has is not being limited to Great League… it does good work in Ultra League as well, though requires a mountain of XL Candy. You know what to do with THAT information, right?


Hitmonchan Fighting

Little League Priority: MODERATE

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: n/a

Master League Priority: n/a

Hitmontop gets all the press (and I suppose is worth a mild grind in the same habitat), but to me, Hitmonchan always has been the best Hitmon when used properly… which is to say, when used as essentially a mono-Fighting Medicham, with the same Ice Punch and big closing move (Close Combat, in this case) and above average (for a Fighter, anyway!) bulk… making it a touch better than, say, Primeape with the same moves. There have been several metas where it has absolutely wrecked, and don’t forget that it comes with an array of other Elemental Punches, Power-Up Punch when you want it, and a Shadow version too. (Combining several of those can lead to some BIG butt-kicking. Obviously Shadow won’t be available during GOFest (that we know of), but this is still a great time to look for a shiny one for your collection… and a good opportunity for a Little League Chan too.

Others Of Note

  • Prehistoric Volcano 🌋: Presumably you have a good Haxorus after its Community Day, but if not, remember that Axew is in the wild…. Slugma remains nice in Little League, and Magcargo is a standout in several Cup formats…. Kangaskhan is more a collector’s prize than a PvP tool in the here and now, but a little move tweak or two could make it much more interesting one day!
  • Poison Swamp ☣️: Skorupi for Little LeagueDrapion for Great and Ultra Leagues. Any questions?…. Similarly, Skrelp for Little LeagueDragalge for elsewhere…. Kind of lackluster in Great League now, but people forget how amazing Tentacruel is in Ultra these days.
  • Cursed Treaures ☠️: Gastly and its evolutions are oft-forget in today’s metas, but you know what? Haunter and Gengar are still some of the very best generalists in the game and way underrated, IMO…. Eevee can be used for all kinds of things, but the best remain Umbreon and Sylveon, both of which require lots of XLs for their upper limits… Umbreon in Ultra, and Sylvie in Master, though both are well worth having in all lower Leagues as well. Grind those XLs though!
  • Athletic Field 🏟️: Zangoose may be extremely rare depending on where you normally are in the world, and it’s just spicy enough to worth having for Cups if nothing else…. Voltorb is pretty rare anymore, and Electrode is still a standout in Kanto Cup and other Limited metas…. Clearly a favorite of some developer over at Niantic, few things have received more move updates over time than Claydol (Baltoy’s evolution). It remains an odd hodgepodge, but it at least had a bright shining moment in the sun with Psychic Cup, and perhaps its time will come again. Worth having one if you’re lacking, though what an odd habitat for it to be in, no?


In the interest of time, I’m going to just refer back to the table above again for what else I consider worthy targets to grind… or perhaps more helpfully, I’m excited to reveal a helpful infographic from ThePokeGOHunter, intended as a handy, quick reference on what to expect as the habitats rotate and let you maximize your hunting time. Thanks again for the collab, my friend! 🤝

Most ‘mons I didn’t already talk about are solid in Limited/Cup formats at the very least, and they (and their evolutions) are all good ones to have on hand! Just wanted to highlight above what I personally consider the ones to go after the hardest.

Good luck out there, folks! Here’s hoping the weather is pleasant, the lag is minimal, and the spawns are plentiful!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter (“X” isn’t real in my reality… viva la Twitter!) or Threads (@JRESeawolf for both) for regular analysis nuggets, or Patreon.

Good hunting, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

P.S. – I will be at NYC GOFest myself Saturday morning, and hope to be in the park Friday aftermoon and Saturday afternoon too. I would LOVE to meet all of you… it’s my main reason for going! If you’d like to meet up, here is my planned meet and greet schedule, but I’ll be all over the park on Saturday too. Hope to see you there! 🤝

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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