Hello again, fellow PvPers! As I’ve done many times before (officially starting last April with Abra/Alakazam with Counter), I’m here to take a close look at this month’s Community Day spotlight Pokémon and examine its merits in PvP. This month, in the spirit of Halloween, that of course means we’re getting Litwick! Wait wait… uh… NOT Litwick?

Oh, must be Shuppet then, right? Banette could use a new mo–wait, not that either? Okay, um… Misdreavous? Wait WHAT? Duskull? Really? Who in their right mind over at Niantic HQ decided that piece of–!

Ahem. Okay, sorry folks, we’re back. So apparently it’s Duskull this month. Yeah, really. So that means we’ll be putting DUSKNOIR… under the lights. My prediction? It might melt! Hahaha… ha… hooooo boy. This is gonna be a tough one to make exciting, isn’t it? 😕 Well, I like a challenge!

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First, as always, let’s break down the Pokémon itself…

DUSKNOIR

Dusknoir Ghost

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
120 (118 High Stat Product) 173 (175 High Stat Product) 90 (92 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-14-13, 1498 CP, Level 24)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
158 (151 High Stat Product) 217 (226 High Stat Product) 115 (120 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-15-15, 2492 CP, Level 50)

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The big talking point is kinda obvious… helloooooooo, Defense! Believe it or not, there are some things that get quite a bit higher (using Great League examples), such as Bastiodon, Steelix, Defense Deoxys, Registeel, and — just barely — Umbreon, Regirock, Uxie and the like. That said, many of them are actually far tankier because they also have a low Attack stat (105 or less, typically) and triple digit HP. Dusknoir instead tries to hit harder, but at the cost of being able to take less hits in return. High Defense or not, having under 100 (and barely over 90) HP is not good in Great League.

To do that typically requires having a quick, high damage output to outrace opponents, a la Haunter and the like. Dusknoir does have a relatively good typing — mono-Ghosts are vulnerable “only” to Dark and other Ghosts, and resist Poison, Bug, and doubly resist Fighting and Normal damage — but speed is what it really needs to make an impact.

Does it have it? Weeeeeeeeeell…

DUSKNOIR MOVES

Dusknoir

Fast Moves

  • HexGhost type, 2.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 1.5 CoolDown
  • AstonishGhost type, 1.67 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 1.5 CD

Okay, so obviously this isn’t going to be a Victreebel type that beats stuff down with fast move damage. Hex has redeeming qualities as a high energy move, however, so if Dusknoir can use it to race to spammy charge moves, we might still be alright here.

And just another reminder of how Arceus-awful a move Astonish is. I mean, just compare it directly to Hex: 1.0 less EPT, AND 0.33 less damage. Like, whyyyyyyy? C’mon, Niantic… it’s the perfect time of year to finally buff Astonish. Pretty please?

sigh

Anyway, continuing the analysis…

– Exclusive (Community Day) Move
– Purified-exclusive Move

Charge Moves

  • Ominous WindGhost type, 45 damage, 45 energy, 10% Chance to Increase User Attack +2 Stages
  • Dark PulseDark type, 80 damage, 50 energy
  • PsychicPsychic type, 90 damage, 55 energy, 10% Chance to Decrease Opponent Defense -1 Stage
  • Shadow BallᴱGhost type, 100 damage, 55 energy
  • ReturnᴾNormal type, 130 damage, 70 energy

So uh… Ominous Wind can kinda work as a bait move…

…when you’re Giratina.

Dusknoir is no Giratina. Like, not even close. It currently has Dark Pulse as its closing move, which isn’t a bad move, but it’s hardly great, and lacks STAB here. Psychic raises an eyebrow until you actually try it. And Return is not only REALLY hard to even squeeze into Great League (requiring a crazy IV spread like 2-2-5), but no better even if you do.

Aha, but that’s where the new Community Day move comes in to save the day, right? Right? I mean, Ominous Wind/Shadow Ball is what makes Origin Giratina hum! So let’s see what we have here… oh. Oh dear. I mean, uh, it’s better, sure, but still not good. The sheer power of Shadow Ball can allow it to now beat Swampert, Pelipper, Shadow Nidoqueen, Melmetal, and Registeel, but even that’s a mixed blessing, as it now LOSES to Alolan Marowak and Froslass, which it outraces with the 5-energy-cheaper Dark Pulse. It loses to Haunter, Jellicent, Sableye, Shadow Machamp, and even Cresselia. For a Ghost that needs to be outracing things, those are all very bad signs.

Other than the wins I just listed, the ONLY things it beats are the handful of other meta Psychics (Hypno, DDeoxys, Medicham) and a couple Ghosts (Cofagrigus, Drifblim), and that is literally it. And it gets no better in 2-shield (Dusknoir is just too glassy to reliably GET to a third charge move) or shieldless (a little better but again, far too glassy to get much down without any shields to hide behind) scenarios. Even in the upcoming Halloween Cup Dusknoir just can’t get much done, badly trailing several viable alternatives.

Could Shadow Duskie be the ticket? Sorry, but no, not really. It’s just a sidegrade at best, losing Drifblim and Registeel to instead gain Ferrothorn, Chesnaught, and Cresselia. But here’s the thing… even THAT is no better than a sidegrade to Shadow Dusknoir without Shadow Ball; Dark Pulse gives up those three wins (Ferro, Naught, Cress) to beat Drifblim, Alolan Marowak, and Galvantula. With the possible exception of Cresselia, I think the three Dark Pulse wins are a bit meatier anyway!

Shadow Ball is one of the best overall charge moves in PvP, hands down. But it is just NOT the move that Dusknoir needed to break out. And honestly, I’m not sure WHAT would really salvage it… pure spam like Shadow Punch doesn’t do enough to help it. A more threatening fast move like Shadow Claw would lead to a sizeable jump in performance… but really, it’s just a worse Cofagrigus or OG Ghost (Haunter/Gengar) in that sort of configuration (and would break MLG too… more on that in a sec). At least something like Claw would have made it a kinda-sorta-interesting-alternative, though!

Any better in Ultra League? Well, it’s viable-ish, let’s say, especially as compared to the best it had to offer pre-Ball, with new pickups that include Galarian Stunfisk, Cofagrigus, Jellicent, Dragonite, Nidoqueen, Shadow Machamp, Sirfetch’d, Bronzong, and Origin Giratina. And I dare say that Shadow Duskie starts actually looking a little intriguing as a sidegrade-slash-mini-upgrade, losing now to Poliwrath, Scizor, Shadow Dragonite, and Shadow Nidoqueen to instead be able to beat Altered Giratina (Dragon Breath), Galvantula, Granbull, Registeel, Togekiss, and (Dragon Breath) Charizard.

But even with all that, it’s still a performance heavily eclipsed by existing alternatives like Cofagrigus (if Niantic ever lets us truly grind for XL candy for it!) and Gengar and Giratina-O (neither of which require XL candy at all). I mean, I guess you CAN maybe use ‘Noir now, and you WILL be able to grind the XL Candy for it during Community Day, but… why? It’s just not worthy of that investment, IMO, even with the addition of Shadow Ball. I mean, MAYBE if Niantic one day decided to give it Shadow Claw as well… but don’t get your hopes up, because unlike the other Ghosts I mentioned, Dusknoir never GETS a fast move as good as Shadow Claw in the preceding Pokémon games. Hex actually IS about the best it can hope for. Sorry, I’m just the messenger!

WHAT ABOUT PvE?

Some rather mediocre Community Days have been offset by at least being decent in raids and such. Is that the case here? You probably guessed already, as Dusknoir maxes out well below the CP of several other existing Ghost alternatives, but no. Excluding the obvious #1 Mega Gengar (because its power level is off the charts as compared to the rest of these), this chart tells the tale:

I have them sorted by combined Damage Per Second and Total Damage Output, so yes, the order may seem a little odd. (If you care only about DPS, for example, Giratina is obviously not #1, but rather Shadow Banette and Gengar… and Mega Gengar above them, of course.) But the point is the same no matter how you read it: even Shadow Dusknoir with Shadow Ball falls well short of breaking into the best of the best. It has okay-ish TDO, higher than glassy Gengar and Banette, but its DPS is very poor, even as a Shadow, trailing nearly everything else.

Or to sum it up: Dusknoir remains behind established Ghosts like Gengar, Shadow Banette, Chandelure, and even Giratina in PvE, not to even mention Mega Gengar and the future Mega Banette. There’s just no reason to power up Dusknoir — Shadow or not, Shadow Ball or not — for PvE purposes.

Aaaaaaand that’s all I really have to say about Dusknoir. There’s really no sugar coating it… this is just not a good PvP Pokémon — even when trying to squeeze every ounce of good news out of it, as I’ve tried really hard to do! — and likely never will be. I don’t think that’s exactly new information to most of you, but at least now we have the numbers to back it up.

But perhaps there’s still reason to grind for good IVs during this Community Day. Not for Dusknoir, but perhaps for its pre-evolution. Let’s take a few moments to talk about DUSCLOPS.

DUSCLOPS

Dusclops Ghost

DUSCLOPS STATS

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
103 (199 High Stat Product) 199 (199 High Stat Product) 106 (109 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 2-12-15, 1498 CP, Level 43.5)

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Same sort of stat spread as Dusknoir, but more PvP-friendly. Defense is still crazy high, even higher than that of Dusknoir, and higher than Umbreon, higher than Steelix, higher than all three Regis. And while its HP is far from impressive, at least it’s on the right side of 100, unlike ‘Noir.

This is all possible thanks to having notably lower Attack than Dusknoir too, leaving Clops with Attack strength and overall bulk very close to things like Whiscash, Regirock, Skarmory, Lapras, Hypno and the like. In summary: by stats alone, Dusclops is a much better PvP Pokémon than Dusknoir, though of course limited to Great League play (topping out under 1800 CP even at Level 50).

Now, do the moves help or hurt?

DUSCLOPS MOVES

Fast Moves

  • HexGhost type, 2.0 DPT, 4.0 EPT, 1.5 CD
  • Feint AttackDark type, 3.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 1.0 CD

Feint Attack is worlds better than Astonish, despite the lack of STAB. But it’s still Hex you want here. It’s better than the printed 2 DPT thanks to having STAB, and that energy generation is no joke. It helps power out charge moves quickly… moves like:

– Purified-exclusive Move

Charge Moves

  • Shadow PunchGhost type, 40 damage, 35 energy
  • Fire PunchFire type, 55 damage, 40 energy
  • Ice PunchIce type, 55 damage, 40 energy
  • ReturnᴾNormal type, 130 damage, 70 energy

No Shadow Ball here, and as with all Community Days, Dusclops is not getting a fancy new move alongside Dusknoir, so there’s nothing truly NEW for Clops during this Community Day except a much easier XL Candy grind if you want a high rank Dusclops.

But that’s okay, because unlike Dusknoir, it doesn’t strictly need anything else… it’s already got an interesting and varied set of moves. Ironically, it’s kind of the anti-Dusknoir, having ALL spammier moves without a true closer (well, normally… more on that in a second). Shadow Punch is of course great on Haunter and Gengar as a super-spammy STAB move, albeit low damage… it’s a true bait move. Then there’s the coverage with either Fire Punch or Ice Punch, giving Clops some nice flexability and unpredictability akin to Hypno (and remember that Dusclops and Hypno have extremely similar Attack and overall bulk too). And finally, even without Shadow Ball, there IS a pretty decent closing, KO move that Clops has access to: Return. That’s right… purified Dusclops is quite good!

Just to do a quick side-by-side analysis, here’s how the best overall movesets shake out:

  • Ice Punch is best paired with Return, and is uniquely able to beat Tropius (with Razor Leaf or Air Slash), exploiting Trop’s double weakness to Ice instead of single weakness to Fire… most other Grasses (with rare exceptions like Ferrothorn and Abomasnow) don’t matter, with Ice and Fire being equally effective. Ice Punch is also not surprisingly the only way Clops freezes out Altaria and Unovan Stunfisk. Return is responsible for overpowering Vigoroth, Scrafty, and even Azumarill!
  • Fire Punch/Return gives up Trop, Alt, and Fisk but burns through Alolan Ninetales (Powder or Charm, doesn’t matter), Registeel, and two Grasses where Fire is better than Ice: Abomasnow and Ferrothorn, both double weak to Fire but taking only neutral damage from Ice. Return continues to be enough to take out Azu, Vig, and Scrafty.
  • The one way that Shadow Punch seems to work best is alongside not Return, but Fire Punch. While it does give up Azu, Vig, and Scrafty as a result, it beats all those listed for Fire above (Aboma, Ferro, A-Tales, Registeel) and is a fast enough set to outrace Cofagrigus (with Psychic), Haunter, Alolan Marowak, and even Galarian Stunfisk! The Ghosts all fall to Shadow Punch spam, but the trick to beating G-Fisk is getting a shield with the cheap Shadow Punch and then Fire Punching your way to victory. Rather impressive, I gotta say… Clops tanks an Earthquake like a champ (less than 50 damage!) and just outraces a final Rock Slide. You can even sneak a second Shadow Punch in there rather than straight Fire Punch and still win, so if the opponent doesn’t take the bait on the first Shadow Punch, you can somewhat stick with it until they do. It’s nice to have options.

It’s hard to say which of those movesets is strictly best, at least in Open GL play, but they’re all more viable than Dusknoir, that’s for sure! I can say this, though: Fire Punch makes Clops quite interesting in the upcoming Halloween Cup, a format full of burnable Bugs, and with some key Grasses and Steels (remember Mawile?) to roast as well. In fact, the only Bug that Dusclips can’t beat in Halloween Cup is Crustle, and the only Steels and Grasses it cannot overcome in the format are Darks (Bisharp/Pawniard, Shiftry/Nuzleaf, and Cacturne).

And then it goes out and also beats most Poisons (Drapion, Nidoqueen, Golbat, Tentacruel, Qwilfish, Toxicroak, etc.), Alolan Ninetales, and as mentioned above, either other Ghosts like Cofagrigus, Haunter, and A-Wak (Shadow Punch) or Azumarill (regardless of what charge moves it’s running) and Scrafty (Return).

And either way, while overall record isn’t ever the FULL story, it’s still well worth pointing out that Dusclops has an overall record in 1-shield that’s better than CofagrigusFroslassAlolan MarowakDrifblim and more… Dusclops is LEGIT in Halloween Cup, folks! And look at that… we get to use whatever new Dusclops we build right away, as Halloween Cup (October 15th – November 2nd) conveniently arrives less than a week after Community Day (October 9th).

One last note: I do NOT generally recommend Shadow Dusclops, as the slash to its Defense is more of a hindrance than the boosted Attack is a help. Specifically in Halloween Cup, ShadowClops loses to A-Wak, Shadow Queen, PowderTales, Galvantula, Drapion, Golbat, and Tentacruel… just to gain Froslass. Yuck. 🤢 If you have a good Shadow Dusclops, I recommend purifying it, personally. Probably an unpopular take, but… well, there it is.

TL;DR

And so THAT is my advice for Community Day this month. Sure, go out and get yourself a Shadow Ball Dusknoir or two while you can, because why not? It’s better, just still not very good… other established Ghosts outshine it in Great and Ultra Leagues (and in PvE!), and are usually much easier/cheaper to come by in Ultra as well. But the REAL goal for this event should be to walk away with one really solid PvP Dusclops. If you have a Shadow or purified one already, good job… Return is great! (ShadowClops not so much.) If not, get yourself a Fire Punch/Shadow Punch one for Halloween Cup and scare the opponents to death with it. 👻 <insert villain laughter here> Good luck!

And that’s it! Somehow I still squeezed nearly 20,000 characters out of this… but whether that’s a good thing or bad thing is up to you. 😅 Anyway, until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon.

Continued thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last nearly three years now of PvP play, and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And thank you for reading… I appreciate your attention and encouragement, always.

Catch you next time, and good luck out there, Pokéfriends!

P.S. – While Dusknoir is perhaps not the most exciting place to start, Reddit traveler Errubki has made some very helpful search strings for good IVs that I highly recommend checking out, and says they’re keep it up for the future, so keep an eye out for those as a nice resource for hopefully more interesting PvP pieces in the future! 👍

(Original Reddit article can be found here.)

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