Well, we just had a Community Day focused on Water types, and here we go again with another Water type, this time the final Gen VI starter, and not only does it get the standard Community Day starter move, but another key move addition that really pushes it over the edge. Let’s check our Bottom Line Up Front for a quick summary and then get into the deep analysis!
- Greninja is, of course, much better with its exclusive Community Day move Hydro Cannon, like everything else blessed with it. It’s literally a strict upgrade over one of its current preferred charge moves.
- That all said, it is the other, less heralded new move it’s getting that really makes Greninja’s performance jump!
- With those two moves combined, Greninja ends up with the new fastest Hydro Cannon in the game (leapfrogging Swampert… get it? JRE with the jokes 🐸) in terms of sheer speed and pulling up closer to Swampie in both its Great and Ultra League performances.
- Its frailty still holds it back, but Greninja will surely pop up here and there — especially in Limited metas — moving forward. It’s worth getting a couple good ones while you can!
GRENINJA Stats and MovesGreninja WaterDark
Great League Stats
|140 (138 High Stat Product)||102 (102 High Stat Product)||113 (115 High Stat Product)|
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 3-15-12 1500 CP, Level 21)
Ultra League Stats
|180 (177 High Stat Product)||129 (131 High Stat Product)||149 (151 High Stat Product)|
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-13-14, 2497 CP, Level 41)
Water/Dark is not a completely new typing in GO, as both Crawdaunt and Sharpedo (and Little League’s Carvanha) share it. The good news is that Greninja is the bulkiest of those. The bad news is that it’s still quite glassy, with the lowest bulk of ALL Water starters (to include all fully evolved ones and even all the middle evolutions!) in the game… and actually the lowest bulk of ANY (fully evolved, of course) starter other than Blaziken. Ooooof.
The typing itself is a mixed bag. There’s actually no overlap between Water and Dark, so Greninja is left with all the good and bad of each individual typing. That means resistances to Fire, Ice, Steel, and Water and vulnerabilities to Grass and Electric on its Water side, and resistances to Dark, Ghost, and Psychic (2x) and vulnerabilities to Bug, Fairy, and Fighting on its Dark side. Or to put it in a nice, neat table:
While having seven resistances is actually really nice, the weaknesses are worrying, with Fairy, Fighting, and Grass in particular being very common things to find on opposing teams. As frail as Greninja already is, encountering super effective damage is a quick death sentence. You take the good with the bad.
So the nutshell: Greninja is the very definition of glassy. It NEEDS speed (or ridiculous damage output) to have any real chance at making an impact in PvP, and considering the fact most of you have likely never seen one in PvP battles, I don’t think you need me to tell you that its moves up until now have NOT cut it. Might that be about to change? Let’s piece it all together and see!
ᴺ – New Move (starting with Community Day)
- Bubble – Water type, 2.33 DPT, 3.67 EPT, 1.5 CD
- Feint Attack – Dark type, 3.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 1.0 CD
- Water Shurikenᴺ – Water type, 2.0 DPT, 4.67 EPT, 1.5 CD
When you’re glassy, there are two ways you want to go with your fast moves: very high damage to simply outrace things before your lack of bulk catches up to you (see: Shadow Victreebel, Sharpedo, Chandelure, etc.), or very high energy to spam charge moves like there’s no tomorrow (see: Haunter/Gengar, Excadrill, Magnezone/Magneton, Honchkrow, etc.). Greninja opts for the second option… or at least, has tried to. The 3.67 Energy Per Turn of Bubble is fine, I guess, but not exactly as high as it would like. By comparison, all of those examples I just listed are better: Haunter and Gengar with Shadow Claw’s 4.0 EPT, and Honch, the Magneboys, and Excadrill all with even more than that. So anything under 4 is a bit underwhelming. Feint Attack is right out, and Bubble is… well, on the bubble. (Hurr hurr, JRE so
Enter a move that is not a new exclusive move, but just a move entering Greninja’s movepool starting on Community Day: signature move (at least as of Gen IX) Water Shuriken.Accelgor Bug
I say “as of Gen IX” because, up until that point, it was also a move used by Accelgor. People have already pointed out to me that it’s the only other Pokémon that learns this move, so I will take a very quick detour to throw it on Accelgor in PvP and see what happens. Here’s the good news: it more than doubles Accelgor’s win total! The bad news: that win total used to be 4 wins and 39 losses against the Great League core meta… and with Water Shuriken is still only 9 wins and 34 losses. Can’t even break into double digits… dang. And uh… that’s all I have to say about Accelgor. Now please stop asking! 😅 (No, seriously, I love your questions. Just… ask a different question now, please. 😂) Now back to the subject at hand….
This analysis is about Greninja and thankfully NOT a 9-win Bug, and I’m happy to report that, in some ways, it is Water Shuriken that leads to Greninja’s newfound success, almost more than the actual exclusive move. I really need to bring in the charge moves before I can show how improved it is, but for now, just put a pin in that statement: Water Shuriken is critical to Greninja’s success, perhaps even moreso than the Community Day move. We’ll come back to this point.
ᴱ – Exclusive (Community Day) Move
- Night Slash – Dark type, 50 damage, 35 energy, 12.5% Chance: Raise User Attack +2 Stages
- Surf – Water type, 65 damage, 40 energy
- Hydro Cannonᴱ – Water type, 80 damage, 40 energy
- Aerial Ace – type, 55 damage, 45 energy
- Hydro Pump – Water type, 130 damage, 75 energy
Thankfully, other than the obvious Hydro Pump, Greninja has the cheap moves you’d hope for with its flimsy frame. Night Slash is tied for cheapest charge move in the game, and Surf is eminently affordable. In fact, with either Bubble or Water Shuriken, by the time Greninja has enough energy for its first charge move, it has enough energy for Night Slash OR the 40-energy Surf. Now that’s not necessarily true with the second charge move (as we’ll see in a moment), but the point remains that Surf is right there as an easily affordable move, which is good.
Beyond that, things get a little messy. Hydro Pump is basically right out, as hinted earlier. Aerial Ace is not only one of the most boring, barely-viable moves in the game, but it also costs 5 additional energy than Surf and gums up the works, requiring an extra fast move before it’s ready to use and only being better when it’s super effective and Water/Dark moves or not.
…except even THAT is no longer true with the addition of Hydro Cannon, which is — and pardon the overused phrase, but it’s true here — literally strictly better than Surf. Same cost, same typing, 15 more damage. Now, even in battles where Aerial Ace is super effective and Hydro Cannon deals neutral damage, such as versus a Fighting type like Medicham, Hydro Cannon deals more damage. Yes yes, it’s a losing battle with Counter picking apart half Dark Greninja with super effective damage, but the point is that Hydro Cannon IS your best chance to get in some damage there on the way out, NOT Ace. And even in a bad matchup like that, dealing NO super effective damage along the way, Greninja DOES do some good work, getting Medicham down to a third of its starting HP and stealing a shield in the process. Not ideal, but a lot better than most Dark and/or glassy ‘mons can do against Medi.
So in case it wasn’t already obvious… our new ideal charge moves are Night Slash and Hydro Cannon. You probably knew that without me having to even say anything, but now perhaps you better know why… which is the whole point of Professor JRE’s verbose analysis! 🤓
Now, remember how I said earlier that Water Shuriken was just as key to Greninja’s new success as Hydro Cannon? Here are some reasons why….
First off, it synergizes REALLY well with Night Slash. The first three Shurikens reaches 42 energy, which is obviously enough for Slash or Cannon, but if you choose Night Slash, a further two Shuriken afterwards reaches exactly 35 energy… enough for another Night Slash! That’s TWO charge moves in the first five fast moves/15 PvP turns/7.5 real-time seconds. And keep in mind that that’s also two chances at that powerful Attack buff, which can turn a match around quick. (Just ask anyone who’s faced down a few Obstagoon!) Bubble doesn’t come close to that, needing four (rather than three like Shuriken) to reach the first Night Slash, and still another three (rather than two like Shuriken) beyond that to reach a second Slash. MUCH slower.
Secondly, Water Shuriken leads to the fastest Hydro Cannon in the game. You know how spammy Hydro Cannon is with Swampert and its Mud Shot, but Greninja with Water Shuriken is even faster. It consistently outraces Swampert, which is a large reason it wins the head to head. Swampert basically HAS to land an Earthquake to have a shot, and that’s really tough to do with charge moves coming in faster than even Swampie can keep up with.
But mostly there’s this: if you were to add JUST Hydro Cannon to Greninja’s arsenal, it would increase from this old high bar performance to this new high bar, picking up a handful of new wins, but still a disappointing performance overall. In other words… we’d be lamenting how even Community Day didn’t make Greninja worth using as more than a gimmick. And perhaps it still will be, but at least with Water Shuriken also in the mix, NOW it’s looking pretty interesting. From its pre-Community Day performance until now, you gain wins over (in order) Charizard, Defense Deoxys (despite that scary Counter damage!), Lanturn (with Water Gun, but still!), Lickitung, Alolan Ninetales (only with Powder Snow, of course), Pelipper, Skarmory, and Shadow Walrein. This in addition to already handling Galarian Stunfisk, Bastiodon, Swampert, Dunsparce, and of course a slew of Ghost and/or Ice types thanks to resistances, to include Froslass and Jellicent (resisting ALL of their moves!), Alolan Sandslash, Sableye, and basically anything Fire (Alolan Marowak, Talonflame, etc.).
As an even clearer sign of Water Shuriken being absolutely critical to Greninja’s usefulness, look at Ultra League, where Bubble Greninja with Surf or with Hydro Cannon have the exact same list of wins and losses! Yes, Hydro Cannon obviously wins some of those matchups more effectively, in many cases coming away with single digit HP with Surf as opposed to high double digit (or even TRIPLE digit versus things like Aurorus) HP with Hydro Cannon, but still. No new wins with Hydro Cannon in 1v1 shielding, which is pretty amazing. It is not until you add Water Shuriken that you start seeing improvement. Shuriken/Slash/Surf is okay, but obviously your best results come with replacing Surf with Hydro Cannon, nearly doubling the old win total with (again, in order) Cresselia, Dubwool, Empoleon, Escavalier (dealing Counter damage throughout, remember… this one shocked me!), Altered Giratina (with Shadow Claw), Jellicent, Mandibuzz, Alolan Muk (even the worst-case Poison Jab/Acid Spray version), Umbreon, and even Trevenant! (Oh man, that Seed Bomb nerf really hurts now!) All of that is ONLY possible thanks to Water Shuriken. Without it, we’d be lamenting how Greninja basically gained nothing in Ultra League.
And I know I’m kind of jumping around — sorry for that — but going back down to Great League for a moment to review a particular quirk with Pokémon like this new and undoubtedly improved Greninja. Earlier I tossed out Hydro Pump, as even with the high energy gains from Water Shuriken, it just isn’t a move you’re going to reach in many impactful situations. Even in a shieldless matchup, Pump just isn’t reliable enough, being barely better than Night Slash/Hydro Cannon, which itself is a bit of a letdown from the 1v1 shielding matchups. As awesome as Hydro Cannon is (especially for the cost), 80 damage is still a big underwhelming as a closing move. The reason Swampert is as amazing as it is is that, unlike other Hydro Cannon users, it comes packing a closing move that is both cheap enough and damaging enough to close out matches that many other good-in-PvP Water types simply can’t. Greninja, good as it now is, falls in the camp of lots of spam with few ways to really slam the door on the opponent.
Now where that can be a benefit is on the other end of the spectrum. In 2v2 shielding, Greninja can be quite a beast, even better than Swampert overall. (Well, im Great League anyway… in Ultra, Greninja and Swampert are on much more equal footing.)
Greninja is PvP viable moving forward. And that is NOT something it could say without both of these new moves working in concert. Take either away, and Greninja remains fringey spice at best. Even with them both, it’s not exactly the second coming of Swampert… but it’s not TOO far off. Greninja just might be the second most exciting Hydro Cannon user out there now (with apologies to Blastoise and Empoleon), and that’s worth celebrating on its own merits, no?
Alright, that’s all I got for today. For once, you have a few days to prep between this analysis and the actual event (nearly a week!), so use So until next time, you can always find me on Twitter and Threads (@JRESeawolf for each) with regular analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.
Good hunting, folks! Do stay safe out there, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!