Hello again, fellow PvPers, and welcome to another edition of Core Meltdown!

After the better part of three years of analysis and well over 300+ articles on PoGO PvP, in 2022 I finally began an honest-to-goodness new article series diving into recommended “cores” to build a team around. And today, we’re looking back at another past format returning to PvP: Little Cup (returning on Tuesday, April 12th at 1:00 p.m. PDT).

What is a “core”, you ask? Simply a group of Pokémon that work well together on a team, often covering each other’s weaknesses and responding well to the bigger threats in a particular meta. Sometimes a core will be defined as three (or even more, in the case of “show six, play three” formats like The Silph Arena) Pokémon that synergize together, but usually we’re talking core duos.

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That said… there will be little that is “usual” about this particular article. Because we’re talking about Little Cup… or as it’s more unaffectionately known: BRONZOR Cup.

So I’m actually going to mostly skip over discussion on cores and focus on the most critical role of any team you build: something that can crush opposing Bronzor. Typically I spend the last section of this article focusing on corebreakers… things that can bust up core duos or even trios. But today, that’s going to basically BE this article.

Here we go!

EJECT THE CORE BRONZOR!

Out of the approximately 350 Pokémon eligible in Little Cup, there are only around 25-35 that beat Bronzor across even shield scenarios. (“Even shield” meaning both Pokémon in combat using the same number of shields: 0, 1, or 2.) Yeah… there’s a reason Bronzor is so hated in this format. With its Steel/Psychic typing (resists Dragon, Fairy, Flying, Grass, Ice, Normal, Rock, Steel, and double resists Psychic and Poison), stupid high bulk (right on the same level as Chansey), and new-this-time closing and coverage move Payback, Bronzor is a pain the back of the lap to deal with. It’s left weak to only Dark, Ghost, Fire, and Ground, and its Confusion damage typically deals all of those in except for Darks before they can finish Bronzor off. As just one of many examples, despite Charmander dealing not only super effective damage, but increasing super effective damage (thanks to Flame Charge) to Bronzor and taking only neutral damage from Confusion in return, Charmander actually loses to a savvy Bronzor player.

So, what CAN beat Bronzor in all even shield scenarios?

Bronzor

Naturally, BRONZOR can beat itself. More specifically, if you happen to have a #1 IV Bronzor (0-14-15, all the way up at Level 49.5), you’ll beat nearly all other Bronzors out there. It doesn’t matter that you lose CMP to those Bronzors… you simply outlast them anyway. Easy peezy, Bronzor squeezy. However, be aware that this is not consistent across all shielding scenarios… CMP does matter outside of 1v1 shielding.

Deino

One of the more reliable Bronzor counters that happens to also be quite good in the meta in general is DEINO. As with other Darks, Deino blunts Bronzor’s Psychic-type damage and Payback, leaving only Heavy Slam as a neutral damage dealer. And even though Deino’s Dragon Breath AND Body Slam are resisted by Bronzor, its Crunch connects for big, super efffective damage, and that makes the difference. It can even throw out ONLY Crunch and still win across other shielding scenarios. Do be cautious, though… it’s quite easy for Bronzor to get to a bulkpoint that it halves the damage output of Deino’s Dragon Breath (from 2 each to just 1 damage each). Against a #1 IV Deino (with Deino having about 67 Attack), that bulkpoint is 131 Defense for Bronzor, which will usually mean a non-XL Bronzor. For a more run-of-the-mill, “average” Deino (less bulk but somewhere around 69 Attack for Deino), that bulkpoint is instead in the range of 135 Defense, which is XL Bronzor but not TOO high above Level 40. Deino will USUALLY still win anyway, it will just require closing with a second Crunch instead of a cheaper Body Slam. And a #1 IV, max bulk Bronzor is capable of flipping it entirely, but only in 1v1 shielding and only depending on Deino’s own IVs. BUT, all that to say that Deino is pretty safe across all even shield scenarios… but safer if it has a little bit of Attack going for it.

Seel

SEEL, specifically with Lick, is a very versatile Pokemon that also happens to handle Bronzor well in 1v1 and 2v2 shielding… and can even sneak away with a win in 1v2 shielding! That said, it NEEDS at least one shield, as Bronzor overpowers it otherwise. Still, this is by far one of the easier ways to handle Bronzor AND clobber much of the rest of the meta. Highly recommend!

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Alolan Diglett

ALOLAN DIGLETT is more of a direct Bronzor counter, as it does merely okay versus the core meta (though it CAN at least take down Deino and a couple of other Bronzor counters). And it cannot beat Bronzor with shields down anymore now that Bronzor has Payback. (In the past, without Payback, A-Dig won that too.) But as long as it has a shield to throw at Payback, A-Diglett DOES still handle Bronzor, rather easily in 1v1 shielding and with a little bulk, 2v2 as well, even against #1 IV Bronzor. That said, as with Deino, IVs CAN wreck the party, as #1 IV Bronzor can outlast A-Dig in 1v1 shielding, and the only way A-Dig can overcome is to have a really high Attack stat to the point of becoming unviable elsewhere). Always annoying caveats with Bronzor. 😕 Don’t chase that niche of high Attack on A-Diglett… get as much bulk as you can on your A-Dig, as that helps ensure the win against Deino anyway.

Shadow Cubone

A little more reliable regardless of IVs is SHADOW CUBONE, who can take out even #1 IV Bronzor in 1v1 and 2v2 shielding thanks to having Bone Club (which is all it needs in 2v2 shielding) and Bulldoze (to close it out in 1v1 shielding). Similar to A-Dig, Shadow Cubone HAS to have good IVs to perform decently against the rest of the meta, though; with merely average IVs it becomes a specialist that can only take out things weak to Ground. (High stat product IVs add on things like Igglybuff and becomes more reliable versus Bronzor across various Bronzor IV spreads… and can also tie Spritzee, the new best Charmer in the format.)

Alolan Grimer

Also reliable in 2 out of 3 shielding scenarios is ALOLAN GRIMER… specifically with Bite. In that fashion, it can beat even #1 IV Bronzor in 2v2 shielding and with shields down… just NOT 1v1 shielding. It’s decent against the core meta with Bite. Poison Jab would be better versus the meta and is certainly still viable, though it can no longer reliably beat Bronzor that way. Decisions, decisions.

Houndour

HOUNDOUR is even a bit weaker against the meta, but has the unique distinction of resisting ALL of Bronzor’s moves, and is perhaps THE most reliable, consistent Bronzor counter across all even shield scenarios, regardless of Bronzor’s IVs. Shieldless1v12v2.) Houndour can even win with a shield disadvantage by winning the 0v1 shield. If you absolutely must kill Bronzor dead, this is THE best way to do it. Just don’t ask Houndour to do too much else for you beyond that.

Vullaby

Also very consistent across various shielding scenarios is VULLABY. It takes out even #1 IV Bronzor in all even shield scenarios (0v01v12v2) and even 0 vs 2 shields!. (As long as it’s running Feint Attack instead of Air Slash, at least.) The catch? You can only sneak it under 500 CP by getting a Level 15 one from last year’s Research Breakthrough rewards (I think it was November last year?), and then have to trade it, as a hatch level, 10-10-10 at Level 15 is still too big. The trade doesn’t have to be crazy… even something like an 8-10-10 fits, and that’s very easy to achieve via trading. Good luck!

Murkrow

Not QUITE as good — but much easier to acquire — is fellow Dark Bird MURKROW. It whiffs in the 0 shield, but takes the 1v1 and 2v2 without much trouble, though being nowhere near as bulky as Vullaby, it relies a bit on baiting a shield or two with Drill Peck along the way. (I mean, it CAN win with just Foul Play, but it gets especially dicey.) The other problem? Unlike Vullaby, which is a full-on meta pick, Murkrow is more just a spice pick, doing very little beyond just countering Psychics like Bronzor.

Poochyena

POOCHYENA at least contributes a little more overall than Murkrow, while still getting to Bronzor in the end across all even shield matchups (0v01v12v2)), needing only Snarl and Crunch to do it, too. ALSO neat: Poochy can win the 0v1 and 1v2 shield as well! That said, you definitely still want Poison Fang on it to aid in wins over stuff like Vullaby and Wooper… and soften up a lot of other things even in losing matchups.

Purrloin

PURRLOIN is similarly efficient in its dominance over Bronzor, winning the 0v1 and 1v2 shield, not to mention all even shield matchups. And it’s also more impactful across the core meta. It’s low in this article, but high in viability as one of the best Darks in Little Cup overall.

Scraggy

Here’s a fun one you may not have considered: SCRAGGY. It has to be in the lower teens in level to fit, but it’s been in the wild a few times so that’s realistically possible this time through Little Cup. And with Acid Spray, it is capable of beating Bronzor in 1v1 shielding, and it wins in much more straightforward fashion in 0v0 and 2v2 shielding. It has a small but notable role versus the rest of the meta as well, knocking out a couple of Bronzor’s other troublesome counters. Fun little spice option here.

Sandile

It’s a tough trade to pull off, but yes, a hatch-level SANDILE can squeeze under 500 CP, and does alright with itself in the meta. But what it does especially well is slaughter Bronzor, at least in all even shield scenarios.

Vulpix & Growlithe

Of course, one way to beat Bronzor is to just roast it with Fire. Your best options would appear to be VULPIX, which can’t quite win with shields down (unless it has top flight IVs!), but DOES win 1v1 and 2v2 shielding running away. SHADOW GROWLITHE also beats Bronzor in shieldless and 1v1 shielding, though it does get uncomfortably close. Regular Growlithe has more breathing room in 1v1 shielding, but just cannot finish off Bronzor before it reaches Payback with shields down. Both Growlithe and Vulpix are pretty solid against the entire meta, too. And while other Fires like Tepig and Litleo and Litwick can sometimes take out Bronzor as well, it’s inconsistent at best, especially in 0-shield and 2v2 shielding. That Confusion damage is just too much (and Payback in shieldless matchups).

Stunky & Carvanha

And then about the only things left are high damage glassy Darks. SHADOW STUNKY simply has to have a shield to throw up, and it can just Bite Bronzor to death and pocket enough energy for one and a half Crunches to throw afterwards. (And it can chew through a chunk of the meta too.) SHADOW CARVANHA can also Bite a bumch of stuff, but it’s a little more interesting with Snarl. It’s far too flimsy to outrace Bronzor with shields down, but outraces it with ever-increasing power (thanks to Poison Fang) in 1v1 and 2v2 shielding. The best part about these two is that Bronzor can even be sitting behind two shields and it just doesn’t matter… fast moves will do it in eventually.

GOT ANY OF THEM CORES?

Alrighty, as this is normally an article about Cores, after all, I do want to wrap up with a handful to consider, based on feedback from GO Battle Log. I’m just going to list them and recommend you check out GO Battle Log and PvPoke’s Team Builder for Little Cup to round them out with a third.

Here we go: cores using at least one of the above, in no particular order:

I highly recommend checking GO Battle Log every day or two for ideas, as they keep track aa the meta shapes and reshapes throughout the week. And of course, see what ideas YOU can come up with!

Thanks as always to my friends PvPoke for their awesome resources, and to GO Battle Log, and thanks to YOU for reading. I hope this helps you handle the menace known as Bronzor!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with regular PvP analysis nuggets, or on Patreon.

Best of luck in Little Cup, or whatever format you find yourself in this week. Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time. Have fun!

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