Buzzwole, Pheromosa, and Xurkitree in PvP (and PvE?)

UPDATE 26 August 2022: It is now finally confirmed that research level Buzzwole (and presumably the other released Ultra Beasts) IS in research during the August 27th GO Fest Finale for all paying players, finally opening it up to everyone who wants one! As such, we’ve re-published this original analysis from back in June. Enjoy, and good luck!

Howdy folks! While we already kind of suspected the arrival of more Ultra Beasts, it has now been confirmed! And as a bonus, it appears that not only are we getting them during the three live GO Fest events, but we’ll also be getting them from research. And you know what means… Level 15 Ultra Beasts that are eligible for Great League PvPing!

So while I already wrote about these three Beasts a bit, today we’re going to go more in depth, and spend some time looking at them in Great League specifically. Because at least one of them is REALLY interesting there.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s kick it off with our Bottom Line Up Front and then dive into the details!


  • Buzzwole was already looking good in Ultra and Master League, but now that it looks to be Great League eligible too… well, there’s another League where it may muscle Heracross out of the way. Sorry, shovel-headed buddy.
  • In short: Buzzwole will immediately become one of the top Fighting options in all eligible Leagues. If you’re able to get the Level 15 Buzz, DO SO, and do not take it above 1500 CP. Good chance it’s the only one we’ll get, perhaps ever, akin to the Research Level Regirock/Regice and Legendary Gen1 Birds.
  • I’ll be honest… Xurkitree and Pheromosa aren’t what you’re really looking for in PvP, in any League. Very poor bulk really holds them back. They’re looking potentially interesting in PvE though!

Alright, now for the deeper dive. The vast majority of this analysis is going to center on Buzzwole, as it is BY FAR the best in PvP, for reasons that will become very clear as we go. Onward!

BUZZWOLE Stats and Moves

Buzzwole BugFighting

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
129 (127 High Stat Product) 113 (113 High Stat Product) 119 (123 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 2-15-15, 1500 CP, Level 16)

(Highest Stat Product IVs (Research Level): 10-14-15, 1498 CP, Level 15.5)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
166 (164 High Stat Product) 142 (145 High Stat Product) 158 (160 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 4-15-14, 2500 CP, Level 26.5)

(Highest Stat Product IVs (Research Level): 10-14-12, 2497 CP, Level 26)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
198 (211 at Level 50) 167 (177 at Level 50) 182 (194 at Level 50)

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; CP 3461 at Level 40; CP 3912 at Level 50)

For some players, this may be their first Bug/Fighting type, as the only other one in the game so far has been regional Heracross (though it was available worldwide for a time too). It’s an unusual pairing with not a lot of overlap, but some interesting highlights.

  • Bug resists Grass, Ground, and Fighting, and is weak to Fire, Flying, and Rock damage.
  • Fighting resists Bug, Dark, and Rock, and is weak to Flying, Fairy, and Psychic damage.
  • The result of pairing the two is a Fighter that resists other Fighting damage (as well as Ground and Grass), and a Bug that takes only neutral from Rock damage and resists Dark and Bug damage. That leaves Bug/Fighting types like Buzzwole vulnerable to Fairy, Psychic, Fire, and DOUBLE weak to Flying moves. All of that is here in visual form:

Some obvious highlights of that:

  • Buzzwole has the makings of a fantastic Dark counter, resisting Dark damage and hitting back with super effective Fighting AND Bug moves.
  • Many Fighters have issues with Grass types, but Buzzwole resists Grass damage and has an obvious leg up.
  • Buzzwole’s resistance to Fighting is significant too, as it has an immediate leg up in any Fighting-heavy format (like, say, Fighting Cup 🥊), joining elite company with that distinction (Heracross, Medicham, Toxicroak, Gallade, and the future Hawlucha).

Fast Moves

  • CounterFighting type, 4.0 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 CoolDown
  • Poison JabPoison type, 3.5 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 CD

Poison Jab is a very, very good move in PvP. Most fast moves add up to about 6 when you comhine Damage Per Turn and Energy Per Turn… moves like Bug Bite, for example, that has 3.0 DPT and 3.0 EPT (totalling exactly 6). Poison Jab exceeds that in both DPS and EPT, and many Pokemon would LOVE to have access to it.

There’s just one problem… Buzzwole also has Counter, and it’s strictly better. Not only does it deal more Damage Per Turn, but it also gets STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) on top of that.

So while they may end up being a meta where Jab ends up being more useful, we’re going to assume (probably pretty safely) that it’s Counter you’re generally going to want.

Charge Moves

  • Power-Up PunchFighting type, 20 damage, 35 energy, Increases User Attack +1 Stage
  • Fell StingerBug type, 20 damage, 35 energy, Increases User Attack +1 Stage
  • SuperpowerFighting type, 85 damage, 40 energy, Decreases User Attack/Defense -1 Stage
  • LungeBug type, 60 damage, 45 energy, Decreases Opponent Attack -1 Stage

I suppose there is a case waiting to be made for Power-Up Punch or Fell Stinger, which are literally the same move in two different typings. (TIL, right?) But generally, Buzzwole’s bread and butter will be Lunge and Superpower, the former for consistent damage with no drawbacks and constant draining of your opponent’s Attack prowess, and the latter to deliver knockout blows when the benefits of that outweigh the very obvious drawbacks that come with it (slashing your own Attack *and* Defense in the process.) These are the moves that Buzzwole seems most consistent with, and the ones we’ll be simming with below.

Now let’s start putting it all together….


So first, a quick comparison with Heracross.

Buzzwole is slightly better than Heracross in open Great League. Owing in part to its spammy Bug damage (and constant opponent nerfing) from Lunge, ‘Swole’ can take down Mew, Whiscash, and fellow Bugs Araquanid, Galvantula… and Heracross. ‘Cross instead beats out Shadow Machamp and Talonflame (the latter thanks entirely to Rock Blast), so it certainly still has a place in PvP, but Buzz is here to claim new dominance overall. It also looks slightly better in the eventual Fighting Cup, able to beat Primeape, Machamp, Sawk, and Hakamo-O that Heracross struggles with.

Heracross is listed as getting a unique win versus Shadow Machamp, as noted above, but actually, Buzzwole can even win that too… by sticking with straight Counter, leaving Champ unable to reach the winning Rock Slide it needs. So even one of Heracross’ standout wins STILL isn’t unique, and another point to Buzz.

No beyond just Heracross, Buzz is a beast. It does everything you’d want a Fighter to do — beating Steels (Regi, Bastie, G-Fisk, conveniently resisting G-Fisk’s Ground damage along the way), Darks (basically all of them but Mandibuzz and Sable, including the Dark/Poisons), Ices (all meta but CharmTales and Froslass), and non-Flying Normals aside from Charmers and Confusioners — as well as the Grounds (Nidos, Clyadol, Camerupt, and Gliscor/Gligar being the only real exceptions), non-Flying Grasses (Whimsicott, Exeggutor, and Trevenant being the only somewhat-obvious exceptions), and of course Darks (again) that you’d hope for from a Bug.

Oh, and the vast majority of Fighting types, as noted earlier with Fighting Cup. And it even turns the tables on a few notable Psychic types, like DDeoxys (with Rock Slide) and most iterations of Mew. (Really only Mew with Fire moves becomes a big problem.) Add to that the previously noted wins over Araquanid, Galvantula, Politoed, and Limited meta standouts like Lanturn, Ariados, Flygon, and many others, and Buzzwole is looking legit in Great League play. And it holds up across other shielding scenarios as well.

The one big downside which doesn’t immediately show in sims is this: the obvious drawback of Superpower’s big self-nerf. The Close Combat utilized by Heracross and several other Fighters obviously comes with its own risks (-2 Stage drop in Defense per use), but the -1 Stage slash to both Attack AND Defense that comes with Superpower can be even more devastating, as Buzzwole will fall much more quickly to subsequent damage and have a harder time even reaching another charge move after it. Thankfully Counter itself deals plenty of Fighting-type damage on its own, and it plus Lunge (with NO drawbacks) is still sufficient to perform basically as well as Superpower! Buzzwole often does not have to rely on Superpower at all, which is awesome! It can save Superpower for shields-down situations or last minute parting gifts almost entirely, it would seem.


IMO, Heracross is underrated in Ultra League. At least in 1v1 shielding, it actually remains slightly better than Buzzwole, with unique wins over Charizard and Talonflame (thanks to Rock Blast) and Armored Mewtwo (thanks to Megahorn), while Buzzwole’s only unique wins are versus Toxicroak and PowderTales. That said, Buzzwole does pull ahead of Heracross with shields down (outracing DDeoxys, Registeel, Empoleon, Venusaur, and Toxicroak, while Heracross instead outraces Gyarados and Swampert), and Buzz also beats out Hera in 2v2 shielding, with cumulative Lunge debuffs aiding in beating out Toxicroak, Machamp, Alolan Muk, Galvantula, and DDeoxys (with Heracross only standing out versus Dragon Breath Charizard).

In a vacuum (outside of Heracross comparisons), Buzz again generally does what you’d expect: beats up Steels (including the Bug ones run rampant in Ultra), Ices, Normals, Grasses, Grounds, Fighters, and especially Darks, with continued bonuses like Galvantula, Politoed, and Deoxys. As with other Fighters, it’s generally going to lose to Fairies, Ghosts, Psychics, and most Flyers, but there is more than enough good going on with Buzzwole to stop at this level and be happy with your investment.

That said… Buzzwole’s massive CP almost demands pushing one beyond 2500. WAY beyond. Let’s see how that goes….


Yes, even at this level, Heracross has a LOT more to offer than most people realize… generally better than Machamp, consistently beating things Champ cannot like Garchomp and Groudon (resistance to Ground is HUGE in all three of those), of course beats Machamp in the head to head, and can even take down (non-Play Rough) Zacian! Heracross really deserves more recognition and usage in Master League.

That all said, Buzzwole is just better. It’s even more consistent versus Garchomp (beating the scary Dragon Tail variant), beats both versions of Landorus, and adds on Palkia as well. (Heracross CAN outrace Zekrom and Buzzwole can’t, but still… advantage Buzzwole.) Oh… and Buzzwole wins the head-to-head versus Heracross at this level too.

And Buzzwole remains strictly better than Heracross across other shielding scenarios. With shields down, Buzzwole beats Groudon, Kyogre, and (non-Rough) Zacian that Heracross cannot, and in 2v2 shielding, Buzzwole adds DT Garchomp, Incarnate Landorus, Zekrom, Machamp, and Zacian (WITH Play Rough 👀) onto the same wins Heracross gets. There is nothing Heracross beats that Buzzwole cannot beat as well!

Hey, at least Heracross will always have Premier Classic, where Buzzwole is ineligble. Oh… wait…. 😢

(Once again: bring back MLPC, Niantic, we beg of thee!)

Okay, that’s all for now on Buzzwole. Keep your Level 15 research one in Great League, but prep yourself one for whatever Leagues you play… it’s worth it everywhere!

As for the other two Beasts… well, that’s a different story.


Pheromosa BugFighting

Same typing as Buzzwole, but that’s really about where the similarities end.

For one, Phero has ridiculously high Attack. Like, higher than Mewtwo, whose top CP is over 1500 higher than Pheromosa! It makes even Gengar look downright bulky by comparison… Gengar has over 50 more Defense. Of course, that’s not hard when Pheromosa has less than 85 Defense… at Level 50! That’s hard to do. You know about how glassy Excadrill is in Master League, right? Not only does it outclass Pheromosa, but Drillbur has the same Defense as Phero. Not Excadrill… its pre-evolution Drillbur, which tops out at 1555 CP, has the exact same max Defense (84) as Pheromosa. Just think about that for a second.

And that’s just Problem #1. Another big issue is the lack of Counter. Pheromosa instead is left with completely unviable Low Kick (2.0 DPT, 2.5 EPT) and completely average Bug Bite (3.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT). That’s it. So even though it has arguably a better self-nerfing Fighting-type closer in Close Combat than Buzzwole’s Superpower, that all goes to waste with the significantly less exciting Bug Bite. And with Low Kick being not even a usable move, that makes Pheromosa a MUCH different Pokémon, one that deals primarily Bug damage instead of Fighting, and harms itself every time it does throw out any (completely blockable with shields, BTW) Fighting damage.

So put it all together, and you’re probably already expecting bad news. Well, whatever you were expecting… it’s worse. 😬 And it doesn’t get any better — in fact it somehow gets even worse — in Ultra League, and in Master League, where in 1v1 shielding, Phero can beat only Yveltal and DOUBLE-weak-to-Bug-damage Zarude and literally nothing else of significance. Not Bug-weak Mewtwo, not Fighting-weak Mamoswine or Snorlax or Melmetal and certainly not Dialga or the like. This is a lost cause a shining example of how NOT to build a PvP-worthy Pokémon. Though in fairness, not even something like Counter would save it with that dreadful Defense. This is just not a Beast that translates well AT ALL to Pokémon GO.

That said… there MAY be a tiny bit of salvation in PvE. More on that in a minute.


Xurkitree Electric

Slenderman, I love what you’ve done with your… uh… hair?

Come on, I can’t be the only one that looks at this thing and wonders if it’s just the famous creepypasta character after sticking its long slender finger in an electrical outlet.

Right right right… Kowalski, analysis! Well, similar to Pheromosa, the stats just aren’t conducive to PvP success. In Master League, Xurkitree has even higher Attack than Phero. However, it isn’t QUITE as ridiculously flimsy, coming with nearly 20 more HP and, even better, about 50 more Attack. This all results in zooming past Phero’s top CP (4451 as opposed to 3213) at Level 50, a very impressive number for Master League.

However, while it’s FAR better than Pheromosa, the future doesn’t look overly bright for Xurk. Xurkitree is a pure Electric type, and Electrics don’t have a huge presence in Master League. There’s a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is the large number of viable Dragon and Ground types that make up the meta, all of which resist (or at worst take only neutral damage, in the case of Flying or Water Dragons) Electric damage. Out of the 34 Pokémon that currently make up the Master League core meta (as seen in that link right above), fifteen of them resist Electric damage, and only seven take super effective damage (and two of those are Kyogre!).

That’s not a great place to be starting from. Fortunately Xurkitree has some pretty nifty coverage options, with Power Whip to hit (most) Grounds for super effective damage, and Dazzling Gleam to smack Dragons around. And in fact, Xurk nearly reaches its best ML record by running these two coverage moves, adding on a win against Zekrom (though giving up Metagross and Electric-weak Ho-Oh… it can beat both if it has Thunder). Add to that Kyogre, Gyarados of course, Flyers Yveltal and Togekiss, Mamoswine and Magnezone thanks to resistances and/or effectiveness of Power Whip, and even Zarude (regardless of charge moves!), and it’s actually not terrible. It’s just not great. Heck, Shadow Magnezone is much better overall.

And it gets a bit worse the lower you go. Ultra League is just a bad fit, with Xurk being left with little else to do than play as a standard Electric, zapping Waters and Flyers and little else. And unlike the other two above, even a research-level, sub-1500 Xurkitree is basically impossible to get, but if it WERE, you still don’t want it in Great League anyway. There are FAR better Electric candidates.

So basically it’s Master League or bust… and really, if we’re being honest, even Xurk in Master League IS still a bust.

Just one final stop on our journey today….


Again, I am not a long-time experienced PvE analyst. I’ve been doing PvP analysis for about three and a half years now, but PvE is something I’ve only ever dabbled in as a player until this year, when I finally started at least taking a peek for the many readers that have asked my opinion over the years. Fortunately, I’ve found that at least the basics of PvE are relatively easy to digest.

For example, by just about any metric, it’s pretty clear that Xurkitree will enter the game as the second-best Electric in terms of Damage Per Second (DPS), trailing only Shadow Electivire.

But of course, its lack of bulk holds it back a bit even in PvE, and you can see how it quickly falls back in the pack in terms of Total Damage Output (TDO) because it simply can’t hang in battle very long. It’ll hit like a truck while it’s out there, though!

And pretty much the same story for Pheromosa. Among Bugs, the competition is pretty scarce in PvE, but Pheromosa takes the DPS crown (with Buzzwole, lacking a Bug fast move entirely, trails most other significant Bugs).

But in terms of TDO, not surprisingly, the exact opposite is true, with Phero now trailing basically everything. (Shadow Pinsir, BTW, looking good as the consistent #2.)

But if you ever wanted, like, a Bug glass cannon (perhaps to fight a Psychic boss in Rainy weather?), Pheromosa seems like it can do that. Worth the investment just for that, though? Hey, that’s your call.

So yes, there MAY be redeeming qualities in Xurkitree and Pheromosa… if you HAVE to have top DPS options like that. (Buzzwole is poor overall in PvE, though… needs a Bug fast move, for starters.)

Alright, that’s it for THIS analysis. Key points, one more time: Pheromosa (Berlin GO Fest) and Xurkitree (Sapporo GO Fest) look good for PvE, and Buzzwole (Seattle GO Fest) looks fantastic in PvP, and I would not push any sub-1500 Buzzwole you get above 1500, as it looks quite good in Great League as well. Just remember that much and this writeup will have been successful. Good luck!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Thanks for your faithful readership, and may all your Beast IVs be what you’re looking for. Be safe out there, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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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