Digging Deeper: Further Analysis on Annihilape in PvP (now with Shadow Ball!)

Yesterday we finally saw signs of Niantic’s reworking of ANNIHILAPE‘s moveset, something I had been dreading in my original analysis on Annihilape a week ago. As I mentioned multiple times in that article, Annihilape’s moveset was the exact same moveset as Primeape, minus only Primeape’s Legacy moves, and I was perfectly okay with that! As I wrote about then, the moveset worked well and had Anni on the verge of being a perfectly free and very powerful addition to the arsenal of anyone who wanted one. That’s something we hardly ever get anymore in this game, something that doesn’t require a crazy XL grind, paid tickets, very long and grindy special research quests, or often some combination of the above. I was very worried Niantic would do something soul sucking like replacing Counter with Scratch or removing one or more of its key charge moves.

Perhaps a sign of how jaded I have become with Niantic’s handling of movesets for exciting new PvP Pokémon (remember how they nerfed Araquanid right before it was released? Gogoat? Clodsire? yeah, there’s a long and sad history here), I was expecting the worst, but instead am absolutely shocked that not only did Niantic NOT nerf Annihilape, but they only made it better. Belated Christmas gift? Happy mistake? Whatever it is, I am grateful (and hoping this is the last tweak they’re planning to make 🙏).

Because it’s been a week (with several analyses in between) since my original analysis, let’s very briefly review the stats and now-updated moves and then see how (or if?) the new move makes things better.

…well, right after our Bottom Line Up Front:


  • New move Shadow Ball gives Annihilape a new weapon without taking anything away, with the same power as its other closing move for 10 more energy but NO drawback. Nice!
  • Shadow Ball doesn’t have a ton of use cases in open Master League, but is absolutely worth consideration in Great and Ultra League formats.

ANNIHILAPE Stats and Moves

Annihilape FightingGhost

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
124 (122 High Stat Product) 106 (106 High Stat Product) 137 (141 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 2-15-15, 1499 CP, Level 17)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
160 (157 High Stat Product) 138 (138 High Stat Product) 177 (183 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-15-15, 2492 CP, Level 28.5)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
197 162 215

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; 3695 CP at Level 50)

As mentioned in the last analysis, Annihilape is not bulky in the grand scheme of things, but it IS pretty bulky for a Fighting type, outbulked by only Hitmontop, Poliwrath, Hakamo-O, Scrafty, Chesnaught, and of course Medicham in Great League, far outbulking popular Fighters like Machamp, Sirfetch’d, and pre-evolution Primeape. In Ultra League, it again trails Poliwrath, Scrafty, Chesnaught, and both Cobalion and Virizion, but that’s it. And unlike Poliwrath and Scrafty, not only is NO XL candy required, but heck, Annihilape doesn’t even cross Level 30, much less 40, making it a surprisingly cheap investment.

And yes, this means that it gets quite beefy in Master League. The only non-Legendary/Ultra Beast Fighter that hits a higher CP is Conkeldurr (3773 CP), and Anni has FAR better bulk.

When it comes to the typing. Annihilape is one of only two Fighting/Ghost types in the entire franchise (Marshadow is the other), which is significant because it makes Anni a Fighter that double resists Fighting damage, along with double resisting Normal damage (so no more fear of Body Slam while trying to farm Normal types!). Fighting and Ghost also double up for a 2x resistance to Bug, as well as single resistances to Poison (from the Ghost side) and Rock (Fighting side), as well as neutrality to Dark (which is rare for a Ghost). However, the combination also makes it a Ghost that is weak to Psychic (not good for a Ghost), as well as Flying and Fairy, while the Ghost side leaves it vulnerable to other Ghost damage.

This all makes Annihilape a truly unique Fighter that has at least the potential to rock all three major PvP Leagues. It all comes down, as per usual, to the moves….

Fast Moves

  • CounterFighting type, 4.0 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 CoolDown
  • Low KickFighting type, 2.0 DPT, 2.5 EPT, 1.5 CD

Yeah, it’s still Counter or bust. While some people were hoping that Niantic would give Annihilape Shadow Claw to set it further apart from other Fighters, I for one am quite happy and content with Counter and glad to see Niantic is leaving that alone. Counter is still one of the very best fast moves in the game and often applies all the Fighting-type damage needed to smack aside things weak to Fighting. No issues here for me.

Charge Moves

  • Night SlashDark type, 50 damage, 35 energy, 12.5% Chance to Raise User Attack +2 Stages
  • Low SweepFighting type, 40 damage, 40 energy
  • Ice PunchIce type, 55 damage, 40 energy
  • Close CombatFighting type, 100 damage, 45 energy, Reduces User Defense -2 Stages
  • Shadow BallGhost type, 100 damage, 55 energy

So last time I made the case for both Night Slash and Ice Punch for coverage, and there were good cases to be made for each. But to work, you could really only run one or the other alongside Close Combat, which was often necessary for KO damage against a multitude of things like Carbink, Lanturn, Poliwrath, Lickitung, Whiscash, and Umbreon in Great League, and things like Palkia, Reshiram, and Metagross in Master League.

Well now we have TWO closing options, with Shadow Ball joining in on the fun. It costs 10 more energy than Close Combat, but you can use it freely without worry about the big self-debuff that CC brings. Also of interest: seven Counters (at 7 energy generated each) are required to charge up Close Combat, but only ONE more is needed to reach the energy for Shadow Ball. (7 Counters = 49 energy, and one more makes 56 energy.) And note that this is also true of using Night Slash for a bait or potential boost and then racing to CC or SB, since Night Slash costs exactly five Counters’ worth of energy (7+7+7+7+7 = 35), putting you back at 0 and off to the races again… seven more Counters for Close Combat or only eight for Shadow Ball. So often Shadow Ball really isn’t much slower at all!

Alright, I know what you’re thinking: get on with it, JRE!


If you want to see some of the pros and cons of Night Slash vs Ice Punch, check out my last analysis, but all in all Ice Punch seemed a tad better, so I’ll be using that as our primary barometer here.

Trying to make this as simple as possible, here’s what I’m seeing. Shadow Ball adds on wins that Close Combat sets just can’t usually get, specifically Charjabug in 1v1 shielding, DDeoxys with shields down, and Clodsire in 2v2 shielding. (In 1shield and sometimes 2shield, running Ice Punch is often sufficient to beat Clod on its own, but 2shield Shadow Ball makes it safer and can win alongside Ice Punch OR Night Slash, unlike Night Slash/Close Combat.) Night Slash/Shadow Ball can also uniquely outrace Cresselia in 2v2 shielding, which is a spiffy pickup, especially for a Fighting type! Not even Scrafty can reliably do that even if it gets Cress to throw both shields at Power-Up Punch first!

Overall, Shadow Ball would appear to be a very solid sidegrade to Close Combat. CC is generally more reliable against Carbink and Mandibuzz (and of course Rocks and Darks in general), and sometimes for outracing spam masters like Swampert and Whiscash (where even the mere one Counter difference between CC and SB can feel like a mile sometimes) or bulky, Ghost-resistant things like Lickitung (specifically in 1shield). But Shadow Ball absolutely brings powerful new potential Annihilape’s way that most other Fighters can only dream of: DDeoxys and Clodsire and Charjabug and even Cresselia, depending on shielding. I love having extra options, so sincerely… thank you, Niantic.


Both Night Slash and Ice Punch were on relatively equal footing (alongside Close Combat) when we analyzed last time, though Night Slash pulled away a bit from Ice Punch in 2v2 shielding specifically.

Now enter Shadow Ball, which looks like a true upgrade, especially in 1v1 shielding, where Shadow Ball/Ice Punch adds on Gyarados and Mandibuzz, and Shadow Ball/Night Slash shines even brighter with wins over Gyarados, Tentacruel, and Toxicroak (now flexing its own Shadow Ball), and neither suffers any notable new losses by subbing Shadow Ball in for Close Combat, making them both straight upgrades. In fairness, we’re talking more sidegrade in other shielding scenarios though. With shields down, while Shadow Ball can add on nice stuff like Altered Giratina (with Dragon Breath) and Toxicroak again, it equally gives up things Close Combat can overcome instead like Alolan Muk and Mandibuzz. And in 2v2 shielding, the two are again very, very close, though the slight edge goes to Shadow Ball for its ability to potentially between everything Close Combat can PLUS Tapu FIni (if it gets key Night Slash baits, that is).

Overall, Shadow Ball is even moreso a solid sidegrade at this level, and often performs slightly better against the Ultra League meta than Close Combat. Both have their uses, and again, it’s nice to have a potent new option to keep the opponent on their toes! I think this is the level where Shadow Ball has its best use cases, at least in the Open meta.

That just leaves one more….


As mentioned last time, Anni looks quite solid in Master League, folks. 👀 To simply repeat what I said last time, as I think it bears repeating in this case:

Ice Punch has very obvious applications in Master League… as I’ve written many times before, Ice is incredibly potent in Master League, where literally over half of the current meta is Dragon, Ground, Grass, and/or Ice types that are weak to Ice damage. That said, with Night Slash Annihilape manages all the same wins with the sole exception of the once-again-falling Rayquaza, and obviously puts more pressure on things like Mewtwo. There is room for both in the Master League meta. In fact, in 2v2 shielding, Night Slash is arguably better than Ice Punch, with its high bait (and possible boost) potential bringing Yveltal, Palkia, and even Zacian into the win column… at least if the chips fall your way.

All of that is still true… and I think remains exactly true, in fact. Because unlike Great and Ultra League, I do NOT see great sidegrade potential for Shadow Ball at this level. It’s still fine with either Ice Punch or Night Slash, but Close Combat just seems to be a better fit. The things you can get with Ball alone (stuff like Gyarados and Landorus Incarnate in 0shield and Rayquaza in 1shield and 2shield) hold less value, I think, than what Close Combat can do instead (Garchomp, Zarude, Kyogre in 0shield, Yveltal in 1S and 2S, Palikia and Reshiram and sometimes Zacian in 2shield). If more Ghosts and/or Psychics pop up in Master League, than maybe Shadow Ball will emerge, but for now I think you just stick with Close Combat and your coverage move of choice. Or you can even live dangerously and run both closers, though you’re gonna struggle in several shielding scenarios that way and I don’t really recommend it.


Niantic is being uncharacteristically kind and generous with this simple addition to Anni’s movepool, and I’m thankful and grateful for that, at least. Here’s hoping this is the last tweak before release and I’m not left doing this all over again a third time!

Now back to other analyses already in progress! Several more articles on the way over the next week as a busy January chugs along. Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with regular Pokémon GO analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Thanks for reading… I hope this proved helpful to you! Stay 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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