Trainer Battles and PvP

Desperate for teams with A and B grades in PvP? This article will give you exactly those in all three leagues by combining the three best Pokémon types in the game!

Success in PvP or even in the competitive scene of the Main Series Games involves an in-depth knowledge of type advantages, disadvantages and synergy.

While type advantages and disadvantages are relatively easy to understand, type synergy is not. Look, make no mistake about it… it’s not easy to get a hang of super-effective, neutral and resisted damage; type synergy takes this aspect to the next level.

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So what exactly is type synergy?

Well, it’s all about how a set of different Pokémon complement each other’s weaknesses and strengths. 

Ironically, the most typical example of type synergy lies in the very first Pokémon that we as trainers receive at the beginning of our journey through the world of Pokémon: The starters

Understanding Type Synergy

The Fire Water and Grass types complements each other beautifully:

  • Fire beats Grass and is beaten by Water
  • Water beats Fire and is beaten by Grass
  • Grass beats Water and is beaten by Fire

More importantly, if you form a team of three Pokémon (like in Pokémon Go’s PvP), these three types cover for each other effortlessly.

So why am I talking about the starter trio types here?

One, to obviously explain type synergy. But two, to highlight the fact that type synergy is very well exhibited by Three-type Cores.

The Three-Type Cores

Due to the tremendous connection any trainers associates with the starter trio, type synergy among three Pokémon types is extremely popular in the competitive scene. As a competitive player myself, Three-type Cores are almost always in my mind when I design teams for battle.

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Now you would expect there to be numerous permutations and combinations of Three-Types cores among the 18 different Pokémon types but quite surprisingly, there are only 3 different Three-type Cores that have gained success in battles. 

These are:

  • Fire-Water-Grass (FWG)
  • Fighting-Dark-Psychic (FDP)
  • Steel-Fairy-Dragon (SFD)

The Fighting-Dark-Psychic follows the same logic of the Fire-Water-Grass. In fact, keen-eyed readers would notice that the Gen 6 starter trio is a cocktail of FWG and FDP combinations with Greninja (Water/Dark), Delphox (Fire/Psychic) and Chesnaught (Grass/Fighting) fulfilling this crossover perfectly.

This leaves us with the most complex and formidable of the Three-Type Cores: Steel-Fairy-Dragon (SFD)

The Steel-Fairy-Dragon Core

One glance and you are bound to appreciate two important parameters of the SFD Core:

  1. This core doesn’t have a perfect balance that the FWG and FDP cores have. In fact, Steel resists both Fairy and Dragon, and is super-effective against one of the two (the Fairy type). So, the Steel type appears to be superior.
  2. The Steel, Fairy and Dragon are often regarded as the three most powerful Pokémon types.

The SFD Core has massive prominence in the competitive scene and has enjoyed much popularity among even the most hardcore battlers. In fact, I’m an avid user of the SFD Core myself in the Ubers / OU tiers.

This begs the questions…

If the SFD Core could do well in the [6 vs 6] format of the Main Series Games, shouldn’t it do amazing in the [3 vs 3] PvP format ofPokémon Go?

After all, the Steel, Fairy and Dragon types occupy a pivotal position in the PvP meta by themselves.

So how do they fare in a trio?

Does the SFD Core succeed in PvP?

I shall discuss the best examples of the SFD Core in all three PvP leagues and see how they blend in together like a team, how their secondary typings factor in and how fearsome they are to the meta as a whole.

You may ask… how do I choose the teams?

I will attain absolutely no C grades from the PvPoke Team Builder page in my team(s).

You can rest assured that the teams would be the very best of the SFD Core with A nd B grades all across the board!

With that being said, let’s begin!


The Great League

Galarian Stunfisk-Azumarill-Altaria

Stunfisk (Galar) GroundSteel

Azumarill WaterFairy

Altaria DragonFlying

These three are undoubtedly a trio of some of the most feared Pokémon in the GL meta. Riding high on bulk, this team also has a good offensive presence due to Galarian Stunfisk’s dangerous Ground typing, which gives it super-effective coverage against the Steel types that threaten both Altaria and Azumarill.

Synergy Analysis

Moveset details

  • Galarian Stunfisk: Mud Shot + Rock Slide and Earthquake
  • Azumarill: Bubble + Ice Beam and Hydro Pump/Play Rough
  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack and Moonblast

Galarian Stunfisk

Weak to: Fighting Fire Ground Water

  • Altaria deals with all 4 types, dealing SE damage to Fighting and resisting the other three
  • Azumarill deals SE damage to Fighting Fire and Ground, and resists the Water type
  • Galarian Stunfisk can itself deals SE damage to the Fire type

Azumarill

Weak to: Electric Grass Poison

  • Altaria deals SE damage to Grass types
  • Galarian Stunfisk deals SE damage to both Electric and Poison types, and resists both moves
  • Azumarill with Ice Beam can threaten Grass types

Altaria

Weak to: Dragon Fairy Ice Rock

  • Galarian Stunfisk can deal SE damage to both Ice and Rock types with its moveset. It resists the Fairy and [dragons] types. Do note that Rock Slide can threaten other Altaria
  • Azumarill can deal with Dragon and Rock types quite easily
  • Altaria deals with its own Dragon type weakness

The team analysis from PvPoke gives:

Source: pvpoke.com

No C Grades!


Galarian Stunfisk-Clefable-Altaria

Stunfisk (Galar) GroundSteel

Clefable Fairy

Altaria DragonFlying

Clefable may not be as formidable as Azumarill but it is still a force to be reckoned with. After all, it is the premier Charmer of the GL meta! This is an extremely consistent team, having a fine array of high damage moves with decent to good energy gains. Clefable’s Charm and Meteor Mash are major draws here.

Synergy Analysis

Moveset details

  • Galarian Stunfisk: Mud Shot + Rock Slide and Earthquake
  • Clefable: Charm+ Meteor Mash and Psychic
  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack and Moonblast

Galarian Stunfisk

Weak to: Fighting Fire Ground Water

  • Altaria deals with all 4 types, dealing SE damage to Fighting and resisting the other three
  • Clefable deals SE damage to the Fighting type and resists their moves
  • Galarian Stunfisk can itself deals SE damage to the Fire type

Clefable

Weak to: Poison Steel

  • Galarian Stunfisk deals SE damage to both Poison and Steel types, resisting the Poison typing
  • Clefable can itself deal with Poison types with Psychic

Altaria

Weak to: Dragon Fairy Ice Rock

  • Galarian Stunfisk can deal SE damage to both Ice and Rock types with its moveset. It resists the Fairy and [dragons] types. Do note that Rock Slide can threaten other Altaria
  • Clefable shreds down Dragon types with Charm and with Meteor Mash, it can arrest all the other weaknesses of Altaria
  • Altaria deals with its own Dragon type weakness

The team analysis from PvPoke gives:

Source: pvpoke.com

The Great League Conclusion

Altaria and Galarian Stunfisk are the undisputed top Dragon and Steel types in the GL meta. They combine very well with both Azumarill and Clefable. While Azumarill takes advantage of its Water typing and coverage, Clefable is a straight-out Charmer.

Registeel? Well, it’s good but including it in the mix invites C grades.


The Ultra League

Registeel-Clefable-Giratina (Altered)

Registeel Steel

Clefable Fairy

Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon

Two mono types and the feared Giratina (Altered). Naturally, the coverage would not be ideal but it scores in all other departments!

Bulk? Major check

Low energy fast move, hard-hitting fast move and a balanced fast move. All check!

Not to mention, Giratina (Altered) has fantastic Ghost typing and is the undisputed ruler of the UL meta. What could go wrong? Hardly anything does!

Synergy Analysis

Moveset details

  • Registeel: Lock On + Flash Cannon and Focus Blast
  • Clefable: Charm + Meteor Mash and Psychic
  • Giratina (Altered): Shadow Claw + Shadow Sneak and Dragon Claw

Registeel

Weak to: Fighting Fire Ground

  • For Giratina (Altered), Fighting moves hit like a pillow and it also resists Fire type moves.
  • Clefable destroys Fighting types

Clefable

Weak to: Poison Steel

  • Giratina resists the Poison typing
  • Registeel hits Steel types hard with Focus Blast and resists the Poison typing
  • Clefable can itself deal with Poison types with Psychic

Giratina (Altered)

Weak to: Dark Dragon Fairy Ghost Ice

  • Registeel deals with Fairy and Ice types while resisting the Dragon Fairy and Ice types
  • Clefable annihilates the Dark and Dragon types while also dealing with Fairy types with Meteor Mash
  • Giratina deals with its Dragon and Ghost weaknesses

The team analysis from PvPoke gives:

Source: pvpoke.com

Wow!

That is a lot of A’s. These three form an extremely deadly trio that truly defines the UL meta and puts it on its toes.

The SFD Core of Registeel-Clefable-Giratina (Altered) achieves the covered 3A/1B grade card and is undoubtedly the best trio in the UL meta.

Giratina (Altered) and Registeel form a necessary duo to ensure A and B in the scores. The only variations pop up in the Fairy type department and to save you from repetitions of content, I’ll talk about the 2 other Fairy types that bring A/B scores to their respective SFD Cores:

Registeel-Togekiss-Giratina (Altered)

Registeel Steel

Togekiss FairyFlying

Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon

Togekiss (Charm + Ancient Power and Flamethrower)

Weak to: Electric Ice Poison Rock Steel

  • Giratina resists the Electric and Poison types
  • Registeel hits the Ice Rock and Steel types for SE damage
  • Togekiss successfully deals with the Ice and Steel types through its moveset
  • Togekiss also deals with Giratina’s weakness to the Dark Dragon and Ice types and Registeel’s weakness to the Fighting and Fire types

The team analysis from PvPoke gives:

Source: pvpoke.com

Registeel-Granbull-Giratina (Altered)

Registeel Steel

Granbull Fairy

Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon

Granbull (Charm + Close Combat and Crunch)

Weak to: Poison Steel

  • Giratina resists the Poison types
  • Registeel hits the Steel types for SE damage
  • Granbull successfully deals with the Steel type moveset with Close Combat
  • Granbull also deals with Giratina’s weakness to the Dark Dragon Ghost and Ice types and Registeel’s weakness to the

The team analysis from PvPoke gives:

Source: pvpoke.com

The Ultra League Conclusion

Registeel might bring in C grades in the GL meta but when it comes to UL, it is the premier Steel type here. Its partnerships with Giratina (Altered) make for a formidable duo and together with the 3 relevant Fairy types of UL: Clefable, Togekiss and Granbull, the resulting trio balances A’s and B’s perfectly.


 

The Master League

In the Master League, there is literally only one relevant Fairy type and that is Togekiss. However, despite one member of the SFD Core remaining constant, the ML meta presents multiple A/B graded teams!

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However, there is only one team that gives you 3 A’s and 1 B in the Master League. So I will analyse this top team and tell you the other combinations as there are just too many!

So what’s that one 3A/1B team in the Master League that is arguably the best SFD Core in this format?

It is…

Metagross-Togekiss-Garchomp

Metagross SteelPsychic

Togekiss FairyFlying

Garchomp DragonGround

The Fairy lord Togekiss teams up with two of the best pseudo legendary Pokémon to grace the meta: Metagross and Garchomp. With impeccable stats, moveset and typing, it is of no surprise that these two provide the very best of the SFD Core with Togekiss.

It comes as a surprise that other powerful Steel types like Dialga, Excadrill and Melmetal and other Dragon types like Dialga (again) and Dragonite fail to achieve the 3A/1B results that you would expect out of them. Additionally, it’s also surprising that unlike the UL SFD Core of Registeel-Clefable-Giratina (Altered), there are no legendaries in this trio. 

So let’s check out this fabulous trio, shall we?

Moveset details

  • Metagross: Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash and Earthquake
  • Togekiss: Charm + Ancient Power and Flamethrower
  • Garchomp: Mud Shot + Outrage and Earth Power

Metagross

Weak to: Dark Ghost Fire Ground

  • Togekiss deals with Dark and Fire types and is successful against the only Ghost type threat in the ML meta: Giratina (both formed)
  • Garchomp deals SE damage to Fire types
  • Metagross can itself deal with Fire types with Earthquake

Togekiss

Weak to: Electric Ice Poison Rock Steel

  • Metagross deals with all 5 weakness of Togekiss through its moveset
  • Garchomp also deals with all of Togekiss’ weaknesses except the Ice type
  • Togekiss successfully deals with the Ice and Steel types through its moveset

Garchomp

Weak to: Dragon Fairy Ice

  • Registeel deals with Fairy and Ice types while resisting the Dragon type
  • Togekiss destroys the Dragon types while also dealing with the Ice type through its moveset
  • Garchomp, with the fastest access to Outrage in ML, beats other Dragon types and also Dialga with Earth Power

The team analysis from PvPoke gives:

Source: pvpoke.com

Other SFD Cores in the ML that give A/B grades (2A/2B) include:

The Master League Conclusion

Togekiss is the go-to Fairy type that combines the overall amazing stats of both Metagross and Garchomp to impose SFD Core terror in the Master League. Almost every relevant trio of Steel and dragon] types with Togekiss is impressive with the 2A/2B grade card but the trio of Metagross-Togekiss-Garchomp is unmatched.


Parting Words

Yes, the Fire-Wate-Grass and the Fighting-Dark-Psychic Cores are good and have got excellent balance and blending prowess amongst themselves, but they simply cannot compare to the sheer power of the Steel-Fairy-Dragon Core.

The SFD Core has a remarkable showing across all leagues and its relevance increased from the Greal League to the Master League. The GL Meta was good, the UL meta got better but the ML Meta is a playground for the SFD Core and almost every trio has the 2A/2B grade chart.

It is important to understand that if a certain Pokémon doesn’t make for an A/B graded team, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad or underwhelming. All it denotes is the fact that it isn’t the best fit in a team composed of a trio of Steel, Fairy and Dragon types. Palkia, for instance, leads to C grades when introduced into certain SFD Core teams of the ML meta. By no means does it imply that Palkia is a bad Pokémon in ML. In fact, it’s a beast! It just doesn’t perform its best when combined with a Steel and Fairy type and is bound to offer better grades when combined with other Pokémon types.

At the end of the analysis, the SFD Cores of Metagross-Togekiss-Garchomp and Registeel-Clefable-Giratina (Altered) achieved the jaw-dropping 3A/1B grade chart in the UL and ML respectively and judging by the stalwarts present in these trios, it is easy to see why they are the best.

We can conclude that the SFD Core in Pokémon Go is just as dominant as that in the Competitive scene! It is absolutely dangerous in the right hands. So use this trio well and expect nothing less than to reign over the meta!

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My name is Niladri Sarkar. A Team Valor Trainer, I'm a Pokémon Battle Mechanics Specialist & a Dragon Master on Smogon's Pokémon Showdown where I particularly excel with Dragon types and Weather teams in Ubers / OU. I love to apply my vast knowledge and experience to the ever changing meta of Pokémon Go, specialising in DPS/TDO math, movesets, the Master League and Dragon types. Garchomp is my best Pokémon pal through and through.