We all want to make the right decisions when it comes time to invest our Stardust into powering up Pokémon. With this guide, we will show you some of the best contenders that you can power up for PvP to be prepared for what 2023 has to throw at us.
We will be going through the 3 main formats, Great, Ultra and Master League. Keep in mind that many of these Pokémon may still be eligible for other future cups.
Disclaimer: **While this list does mention several top Pokémon, keep in mind that there are many great options not listed. These are some of my personal picks which I believe will continue to thrive in the 2023 meta.**
Why don’t we start with a Pokémon that has almost immediately gained popularity since the start of Season 13. Of course, I’m talking about Noctowl. This bird was already quite powerful and was seen on a few team’s around the world for the Pokémon Regional Championships. After the buff to Wing Attack we saw a massive influx in usage, and for good reason.
Noctowl is an easy Pokémon to obtain, you don’t need Candy XL and you can benefit from its spammy/bulky playstyle almost immediately if you have one with good PvP IVs (1/14/15 being the #1 IV spread). Noctowl even has play against some of its hardest counters such as Galarian Stunfisk, Bastiodon and Registeel since it now gets to Charge Moves such as Shadow Ball significantly quicker than before.
By now, if you’ve been a reader of mine for some time now, you will know that Swampert is on just about all of my lists that can include it. It’s not that I have an obsession with this particular Pokémon, it’s that Swampert, still to this day in 2023, is a top-tier Pokémon and for a good reason.
Hydro Cannon, paired with one of the fastest energy-gaining Fast Moves, Mud Shot, is a deadly combination that can be overwhelming for your opponent if they are not prepared to deal with this monster. Having the option of running either Earthquake or Sludge Wave, means that your opponent can never know what to expect. With the rise oftypes in the 2023 meta, Sludge Wave has gained popularity and can hit hard against most neutral matchups.
Swampert is easily obtainable, cheap to invest in, and doesn’t necessarily need the Shadow variant to be useful. All you will need is an Elite Charge TM in order to teach it Hydro Cannon.
With the introduction of Shadow Registeel, this Pokémon is the talk of the town, and for good reason. Ranking at the top of the chart on PvPoke.com for overall performance, Registeel remains king despite receiving a significant and direct nerf to Zap Cannon.
In the new age oftype Pokémon in the current 2023 meta, Registeel can nuke them down mid-flight and play against even some of its hardest counters. If you’re looking for that perfect ‘set-up’ Pokémon, then Registeel will be a proficient ally in your team.
While the Wing Attack buff benefitted many different fliers, there was one Pokémon that many people did not expect to make such a massive impact, that Pokémon is of course, Charizard, especially the Shadow variant. The EPT (Energy Per Turn) that Wing Attack now provides means that Charizard is more spammy than ever.
Having a high energy-gaining fast move, combined with a bait move and also a nuke is an excellent combination to have within a single Pokémon. Shadow Charizard with a shield advantage is a deadly combination and can deal with even some of its hardest counters with its raw damage output, well, everyone besides Bastiodon.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Bastiodon can be one of the most annoying Pokémon to deal with unless you have a dedicated answer to it. The meta has shifted to either having a Bastiodon on your team or being prepared for it since it’s more common than ever thanks to the rise oftypes.
If you can manage to gain enough Candy XL in order to completely max out a Bastiodon, then congratulations, you have your hands on one of the bulkiest Pokémon that perform well in every neutral matchup.
Lanturn recently acquired the charge move Surf, which meant that it gave it more play against matchups that normally gave trouble before. Surf only being a 40 energy move means that you don’t have to rely on its previous main Water-type damage output, Hydro Pump, which was only really good when your opponent’s shields were down or if you caught them off guard.
The current 2023 meta has seen Lanturn gain popularity. Not only is it an excellent answer to a lot of the meta, its bulk, spam and typing make it a solid option for players to get their hands on, not to mention, acquiring a Lanturn is fairly simple and does not cost too much Stardust to power up close to 1,500 CP.
Trevenant is one of those Pokémon that managed to go from meta to anti-meta overnight. With the rise oftype Pokémon such as Noctowl, Pelipper and Charizard on the loose, their counters such as Lanturn, Swampert, Galarian Stunfisk and Bastiodon need to be kept intact too, that answer can be Trevenant.
Another reason Trevenant can be super good in your team is that it keeps the Fighting & Psychic types in check too such as Medicham, Defence Deoxys, Sirfetch’d and Cresselia for example.
Medicham has been a staple of the Great League since the dawn of time. It’s one of those Pokémon that always seems to stay relevant. Its damage output, versatility and bulk mean that it can play against almost everything to some degree.
Investing Candy XL and Stardust into a good IV Medicham will be an extremely safe and rewarding investment and safe to say that Medicham will remain a solid choice for 2023. Even against fliers, Medicham can put up a fight with Ice Punch.
Honourable Great League Mentions:
Before we move on to Ultra League, if you’re looking at ways you can create a strong team with these ‘mons, then be sure to check out my detailed guide on team building for the Great League, I would highly recommend it if you’re looking to get into PvP or even for PvP veterans to gain some more insightful knowledge. Click here for my article.
Registeel again? Yes! this goes to show how well this Pokémon can perform in both Great and Ultra League, and what perfect timing. As of writing this article, Registeel is the current 5-star Raid Boss.
To give you an idea of how strong Registeel is in Ultra League, let’s use the Registeel vs Giratina matchup for example. Using the conventional moveset on Registeel (in which every single move is resisted on Giratina), you can still manage to beat Giratina in the 1 shield scenario simply due to your bulk and how fast you get to those nuke charge moves with Lock-On.
Registeel is also the perfect answer for Charm users, Cresselia and even Obstagoon believe it or not! Pairing Registeel with Pokémon that can cover its Fighting and Ground type weaknesses mean that you will be able to be prepared for more situations.
Cobalion is a semi-new addition to the Ultra League if we’re talking about relevance. The introduction of the fast move, Double Kick allowed Cobalion and also its counterpart, Virizion (which we will talk about soon) to be stronger than ever.
Its moveset of Sacred Sword and Stone Edge means that this Pokémon can be a deadly bait. Usually, when people swap into Cobalion, the opponent responds with a Fire type user by default, and thankfully, the main 2 Fire type users in the Ultra League are Charizard and Talonflame which Cobalion has the potential to one-shot with Stone Edge.
Altered GiratinaGiratina (Altered)
One Pokémon always comes to mind when you think of Ultra League, and that Pokémon is Giratina. It’s been an extremely solid option since day one. The best part about Giratina is that you can have the option to either use Shadow Claw or Dragon Breath (2 of the best fast moves in the game) depending on your team composition.
Both fast moves have STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) which adds to Giratina’s overall performance and can even fight back against threats such as Togekiss and Articuno with its charge move option, Ancient Power. If you’re looking for a safe investment for 2023, look no further than Giratina.
Cresselia’s incredible bulk gives it huge advantages in Ultra League. Its charge moves Grass Knot, Moon Blast and Future Sight means that it can fight back against common meta threats such as Giratina and Swampert.
If you can avoid the obvious weakness to Steel type ‘mons, Cresselia can put in work against almost everything else. Pairing Cresselia with Pokémon that can cover its weakness’ such as Talonflame and Obstagoon can help mitigate this issue.
Virizion offers a lot when it comes to the Ultra League meta, Good typing paired with a spammy moveset and the potential to wall certain Pokémon such as Galarian Stunfisk and Swampert. Like its brother Cobalion, these 2 Swords of Justice Pokémon come equipt with Stone Edge to hit back against Fire and types.
Alignment is key with this Pokémon, make sure to pair it with a pivot safe swap to try and maintain switch advantage. If you can manage to do this, Virizion will serve you well.
Pidgeot gained almost overnight success due to the Wing Attack buff. It can be played in any role and still perform well, for example, using it as a Lead Pokémon to Brave Bird any neutral matchups and dip into your safe swap, or even having it as your safe swap to lure out potential counters for your backline Pokémon. If you can get enough Feather Dances off, you can comfortably farm down the opposing Pokémon and have a massive energy advantage, and finally using it as a Closer to nuke everything in its path.
Its typing of Normal and mean that it can wall those pesky Ghost types such as Trevenant, Giratina and even Jellicent (considering they are not running Ice Beam). You will need to have a fully maxed out 100% IV Pidgeot in order to take advantage of this Pokémon.
Tapu FiniTapu Fini
Considered to be the Azumaril of Ultra League, Tapu Fini is surprisingly a strong core-breaker for many teams. The small but significant indirect nerf to Nidoqueen saw Tapu Fini naturally rise in popularity since there is now a greater chance to be able to pair it up against a decent matchup.
This Pokémon can defeat common meta ‘mons such as Talonflame, all Dark type Pokemon, Giratina, Swampert, and Galarian Stunfisk. If you can manage to secure one with a good IV from trading, it is highly recommended to test out what Tapu Fini is capable of.
Honourable Ultra League Mentions:
Here’s where investing your Stardust really matters. You’ll want to have careful consideration when deciding what to power up for Master League since you can also use these Pokémon for raiding as well, so hopefully, this will help.
If we’re talking about versatility, then Zacian takes the cake. It comes equipped with a deadly arsenal of attacks that can deal massive amounts of damage to a great deal of the current Master League meta. Since alignment is key when it comes to this cup, Zacian is a popular pivot safe swap and is excellent at forcing shields or taking switch advantage.
Zacian knows Close Combat and also Play Rough which means that it has the potential to nuke some of its Steel type counters such as Metagross, Dialga and Excadrill. If you’re trying to decide on what Pokémon to invest in for 2023, Zacian can be a safe and solid option.
Mewtwo is another excellent option since it is already one of the strongest PvE Pokémon for raids, why not harbour that power and use it in the Master League. Bonus points for using the Shadow variant. Mewtwo is another one of those deadly Pokémon that you never know what to expect.
Due to its massive move pool, and one-shot potential, players that come up against Mewtwo are always on their toes since your precious Dialga could get nuked by a Focus Blast or your Dragon type could get Ice Beamed. Although Mewtwo is not known for its bulk, its high damage output makes up for it and, along with Zacian, can be successful at taking switch or shield advantage.
The moveset update to Dragonite made it dramatically stronger than before. Super Power is an incredibly powerful Fighting type nuke that can help with some of Dragonite’s hardest answers being any Ice and Steel types.
XL Dragonite is ranked #1 on PvPoke.com for overall usability, plus the fact that it is not a Legendary Pokémon means that it will be easier to acquire the necessary resources to power it up. If you can avoid Fairy types, you will be in a commanding spot with proper energy management and decision-making.
Dialga has been a staple of Master League since the early days. Its typing, paired with bulk and its moveset creates a powerful ally to have on your team. With the use of Draco Meteor, a powerful Dragon type nuke, you can almost guarantee a shield from any neutral and even resisted matchups in some cases.
The Steel counterpart to Dialga means that you have a STAB move to hit back against Fairy types. If you can manage to avoid Melmetal, Groudon, Landorus, Zacian, and especially Excadrill, Dialga can set you up for greatness. If you don’t plan on using Dialga, make sure you have an answer for it as it is commonly seen in most Master League games.
While Metagross could arguably be outclassed by other Steel type users such as Melmetal and Excadrill, it does not mean that Metagross is in any way bad, in fact, Metagross is one of the hardest counters to Zacian since it can withstand a Close Combat without needing to shield.
If your opponent is shields down, Metagross can nuke just about everything. Formulating a team composition with Metagross and Pokémon that can deal with its obvious weakness’ to Ground, Ghost and Water types means that it could be a great investment, plus you do not need to worry about raiding to acquire the XL candy since it’s another non-legendary option.
One of the newest threats on the block is Kyurem due to the fact that it acquired a brand new move, Glaciate which is a heavy-hitting Ice type move. This update brought Kyurem out of the depths and quickly made its way to the #4 spot for overall usability on PvPoke.com.
With the current meta being predominantly Dragon, Ground and , having that Ice secondary typing means that this Pokémon could be the perfect core breaker that you could take advantage of.
Lugia never fails to disappoint. Being one of the tankiest Pokémon in the entire meta along with having an exclusivetype nuke that has a chance to raise your Attack by 2 stages, how could you go wrong?
It can outperform some of the big bullies in the Master League such as Dragonite, Garchomp, Groudon, Swampert, and even Zacian. Even though it does have a significant amount of weaknesses’, Lugia can still put up a fight with its fast move and shield pressure it exerts.
Honourable Master League Mentions:
While there are many Pokémon that may have not made it onto the list, these are just some of my top picks which I feel will continue to have play throughout 2023. If you’re looking for a more in-depth analysis of each league and their respected ‘mons, then be sure to check out our famous tier lists by clicking on these links.
Great League Tier List
Ultra League Tier List
Master League Tier List
A special thanks to PvPoke.com for providing us with the detailed information that we have used in this article.
Best of luck on the battlefield, Trainer!