Hello, fellow PvPers! No new meta starting this afternoon (back to a rotation of Open Great, Ultra, and Master Leagues), but we have TWO weeks of Halloween Cup coming up starting October 20th. Week 1 is Great League, as with Halloween Cups of the past, but also then a week of Halloween Cup in Ultra League! THAT meta will be very interesting to examine, but even GL Halloween that you would THINK you have a handle on is likely to look quite a bit different this time around, with new moves and new Pokémon that will really shake things up!
Real quick, let’s kick it off with our Bottom Line Up Front:
- Toxapex looks like the new queen of Great League Halloween Cup, beating tons of things it should AND many that make you scratch your head. Pex is likely to be ev-er-y-where.
- Galarian Weezing is coming to raids during the Festival Of Lights event, and getting a good one and plenty of candy should be a very high priority for PvP players. It performs at a high level in Great and Ultra League editions of Halloween Cup, and the latter requires a hefty XL Candy price tag.
- There’s no way to currently acquire them, but Hisuian Qwilfish and Overqwil are sure to make a mark this time around, H-Qwil primarily in Great and Overqwil more so in Ultra. They both rank right up there with (or often above) their fellow established Dark/Poisons.
- Runerigus is worth building anyway now that it finally has a viable fast move, but that’s especially true for Halloween Cup… both versions of it. This does represent another significant XL investment to work in Ultra, however.
- Tapu Fini and ultra rare Galarian Moltres have play in both versions of Halloween Cup, but both look better/more consistent in the Ultra version.
- Tentacruel is looking scarier now with Scald in its arsenal, while Altered Giratina benefits from buffed Ancient Power in UL, as does Genesect with Ice-type Techno Blast now available.
GREAT LEAGUE – Rank #1Toxapex PoisonWater
I think I can keep this one relatively simple. Toxapex is now ranked #1 in GL Halloween Cup, with an 80% winrate across the entire format, and beats a robust two thirds of “core” meta opponents. And not just the obvious Fairy types, but the Grasses… and the Fires… and most of the Darks too! And also things like Tentacruel, Skuntank, Alolan Muk, Haunter, Golbat, (Shadow) Beedrill, Poison-resisting Mawile, Crustle, and Nidoqueen too.
Peeling back the layers a bit, about the only things Toxapex struggles with are Ground and Steel types that resist Poison damage (though Brine, lousy move that it may be, does help out there, actually beating things like Mawile, Scizor, Bisharp, Golurk, Nidoking, and even Nidoqueen) and other Poison types that also resist Poison (nineteen of them in total). Between those three typings lie two thirds of Toxapex’s total number of losses against the entirety of GL Halloween Cup in the standard 1v1 shielding. Beyond those, the remaining 13 losses are to Water-zapping Galvantula, big beefy Alolan Raticate (and even then, only if A-Rat has Return), and a bunch of Ghosts… who, again, resist Poison damage: Jellicent, Froslass, Cofagrigus (Runerigus was already counted among the Grounds), Drifblim, Sableye, and stuff you’ll likely NEVER see like Mismagius, Banette, and Dusknoir. In short, unless it represents a VERY hard counter to Water (Galvantula) or resists Poison (Grounds, Steels, Poisons, Ghosts), Toxapex can likely wear it down and beat it. And even a number of things that DO resist Poison end up on that winlist anyway!
And one final point. When I initially wrote a rather lengthy analysis on Toxapex, it still had Muddy Water rather than Brine. Lack of time mostly dictated my decision not to write a followup with comparisons between those two Water moves, but as I DID look into it, Toxapex doesn’t operate all that differently with the “downgrade” to Brine. And in this particular meta, it arguably gets a hair better, as Muddy Water was able to more consistently handle Drapion, but the relative power of Brine instead can knock out Golbat and Tentacruel. (All that in 1v1 shielding, BTW.) Overall I still say Muddy Water fits what ‘Pex wants to do a bit better, but it’s barely “worse” with Brine in most metas… and in some, like Halloween, not really worse at all!
Toxapex has not truly rocked Open Great League (or Play! Pokémon tournaments) as of yet, and perhaps never fully will, as there are just more things that can fend it off there. But in the Halloween Cup meta, there is a lot that is ripe for the picking, even with plenty of things that, on the surface, shouldn’t struggle with Poisons. Toxapex is NOT your everyday Poison, folks. I think it deserves its ranking as the new Queen of Halloween this time around.
GALARIAN WEEZINGWeezing (Galarian) PoisonFairy
Our first twofer, with G-Weeze looking very impactful in BOTH Halloween Cups, ironically at the same high rank (#6) in both. Amazing what a simple fast move addition (Fairy Wind, in this case) can do for a Pokémon, right? (Yeah, more on that below too.) In Great League, you want it with Sludge (40 energy, 50 damage) for coverage and/or to soften things up, and Overheat to close many battles out. Ironically, this leaves it as a Fairy that is inconsistent versus Darks (losing to Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and Alolan Raticate, for example), but also one that beats other (non-Psychic) Fairies, Grasses, and many key Poison and Steel types (to include Trashadam, Escavalier, Forretress, Beedrill, Drapion, Alolan Muk and more). And while hardly a true counter to Ghosts, it does manage to beat out key ones like Froslass, Trevenant, and Sableye. It’s a very nice blend of what makes both Fairies and Poisons good, with that constant Overheat threat always looming large.
In Ultra League, Sludge is best sitting out in favor of Play Rough instead. This leaves G-Weeze operating more like a true Fairy type and it now beats all the major Dragons (bye, Giratina!) and Darks with the exception of fiery Incineroar and poisonous H-Qwilfish, Overqwil, and Skuntank, but Overheat still brings in Steels (all but Scizor), Grasses (every single one), nearly all Bugs, and most Fairies too (with only Florges, Zacian, Quick Attack Sylveon, and the Psychcs escaping). It obviously still has some struggles versus many opposing Poisons, but between all the Darks, Bugs, Fairies, and even Ghosts that Galarian Weezing can handle, it makes major inroads against four of the five types allowed in Halloween Cup. The bad news? It has to be pushed to at least Level 47 to be right-sized, which is a crazy XL Candy and dust investment that will simply be out of reach for many players. On the plus side, Galarian Weezing is coming back to raids during the Festival Of Lights Event, so you can grind for a good one AND guaranteed XL Candy if you really want to, before you need them. So that’s nice?
GREAT LEAGUE – Rank #14Qwilfish (Hisuian) DarkPoison
Lumping these together for hopefully-obvious reasons. Technically Hisuian Qwilfish ranks in Ultra League (and within the Top 40, at that!), and Overqwil ranks in Great League (just a bit behind H-Qwil). But for all intents and purposes, H-Qwilfish is the one to use in GL, and Overqwil in UL. Doesn’t HAVE to be that way, but for the purposes of this supposed-to-be-short-and-sweet analysis, that’s what I’ll zero in on.
PvPoke’s recommendation for both is to run Poison Jab/Aqua Tail/Shadow Ball. There are other variants that work, of course, with STAB Dark Pulse and coverage move Ice Beam doing good work as a Shadow Ball stand-in. But generally, Jab/Tail/Ball provides the best all-around coverage, and both Qwils operate pretty similarly with them.
That package is a little more effective in the GL Halloween meta than it is in Ultra Halloween action, simply because there are more meta Fire, Grass, and Fairy types to take advantage of in Great League than there are in what’s shaping up as the Ultra League Halloween Cup meta. But… yeah. The Qwils are best at dominating most of those matchups with their unique set of skills while also slapping aside most all Ghosts by resisting most of their attacks and hitting back, eventually, with a KO Shadow Ball (or Dark Pulse, if you prefer). They also conveniently handle some key Poison types, most notably regular Qwilfish in Great League, fellow Dark/Poisons Drapion and Alolan Muk at GL and UL level (though sadly the same cannot be said of Skuntank), and Crobat and Nihilego at the UL level (with Nihilego especially having Aqua Tail to fear). Add on to that even some good wins against other Dark types (Sableye, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, and sometimes Obstagoon) and these two look quite versatile and very impactful in their respective Leagues. Unfortunately they’re hard to come by these days (literally impossible right now, I believe), but if you had the foresight to build them already… well, cha-ching!
For literally years I’ve been trying to hype up Golurk as an at-times-underrated PvP pick, as its Ghost/Ground types gives it some really enticing resistances. But it ALSO carries some discouraging weaknesses, and an unfortunate moveset (mostly its fast moves being the big offender, with plodding Mud Slap being the best it’s got), both of which have mostly prevented it from breaking out like I think it should.
Now we have a new contender, with Runerigus finally getting the fast move IT needed to break out, the Powerball winner for Ghost types: Shadow Claw. I have already written extensively about the boon this is for Runerigus overall, but let’s get specific now to Halloween Cup.
The reason to be happy about Ground types that sneak into Halloween metas is primary because of all the Poisons. And I do mean ALL the Poisons. Both Ultra League Halloween and especially Great League Halloween are set to be dominated by Poison types more than ever before this time around with things like Toxapex, Galarian Weezing, Hisuian Qwilfish, Overqwil, Nihilego and other new arrivals, and the continued oppression of Dark/Poisons and Nidoqueen and many others. Not only does Rune double resist Poison damage, but it can also wear them down with Sand Tomb, beating things like Nidoqueen, Toxicroak, Alolan Muk, Beedrill, Haunter, Toxapex, Tentacruel, Nihilego, Beedrill, and G-Weeze without needing any other moves at all, and having a respectable record at least in Great League with ONLY Sand Tomb. But of course, Runerigus also has Shadow Ball, and with that its win percentage rises to much more impressive levels in Great League and in Ultra League too. The latter requires a very high level Rune (even a 15-15-15 has to be pushed above Level 47), but Great League Rune is only in the mid-20s. Both are feasible, especially when/if we get Yamask spawns during this year’s Halloween event. Grind for those XLs, folks!
TAPU FINITapu Fini WaterFairy
Here we have a pick that’s actually better in Ultra League than Great League. But why is that? Well, in Great League, to put it simply, there is just a lot more competition from other Fairy AND Water types, and Poisons, Grasses, and even Electrics that prey on Fini are more prominent than they are in Ultra (and also more Waters to resist much of Fini’s damage output). Conversely, in Ultra League, there is far LESS that resists Water or preys on Fini’s Water typing, allowing it to apply more pressure and generally hang in battle longer to do so. Peoria Regionals notwithstanding (where an inspired and particularly blessed Mooblast-seemingly-always-got-the-debuff Fini drove one player into a solid second place finish and an invite to Japan for the championships next year), Fini is better in Ultra League than it is in Great League, and that proves itself especially true in Halloween Cup. Thankfully, it’s actually easier to get in Ultra than Great, as the former requires a sub-XL Fini, whereas the latter requires trading for one with sub-raid-level IVs. (Though it’s easier to get than trading, say, Lugia or Cresselia or the like and resulting in 1500 CP or less.)
Anyway, Fini is certainly viable wherever you’ve got it, and if you like it, I think you’ll like it even more in Halloween Cup.
GALARIAN MOLTRESMoltres (Galarian) Dark
Coming in JUST behind Fini in Ultra League rankings is the newest Dark bird. Seeing it ranked so highly may be insult to injury, as the vast majority of players haven’t been able to catch this one at all. However, the actual performance is okay but not mind-blowing, and clearly this isn’t one you HAVE to have. You can consider it a poor (but lucky!) man’s Mandibuzz. Not a terrible place to be, and certainly playable if you have one to show off… G-Molt still does some good things (ironically, even moreso in Great League, where it’s ranked much lower). But this isn’t a must-have by any means, and there are plenty of ways to clip its wings. Just be ready to see it at SOME point during the two weeks of Halloween Cup.
And there are other new things to watch for, like CHARJABUG and SALAZZLE (in Ultra League too), and NIHILEGO in Ultra… but hey, I have to save SOMETHING new to talk about in the upcoming ‘Nifty Or Thrifty’ meta review articles, don’t I? 😉
Instead, I do want to briefly mention some things that aren’t strictly “new”, but have seen recent move changes (or recent relevance in Ultra) that will have them moving up the rankings, in some cases quite significantly so!Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon
- GIRATINA (Altered) will be a headliner in Halloween Cup’s first foray into Ultra League, as we’ve never been able to get one under 1500 CP for the Great League version. And it will be big even with current moves, no doubt, helped recently with this season’s buff to Ancient Power. But just imagine if it gets signature move Shadow Force this Halloween (as mined/hinted at this past summer), and the likely closing power that comes with it. That could shoot it even further into the core of the meta. Now wouldn’t be a terrible time to trade for a good one if you don’t have one prepped to go already. For many, this might be their first time getting to use it, which is fun!
- Believe it or not, GENESECT is a Top 10 Pokémon in Ultra League Halloween Cup… three times! Yep, Chill, Shock, AND Burn Drive versions all rank highly, and while some other Steely Bugs like Escavalier and Scizor and maybe Forretress can reach competitive levels for Ultra, Genesect has far less competition in that slot than it would in Great League. I do think it might be ranked a little too high, but there is little doubt that Genesect will have some serious play in the Ultra Halloween meta. It just got Chill Drive (finally!) in August.
- TENTACRUEL already had some play in Halloween Cups of the past, but never really broke out. But now it comes with Scald. It’s still a bit middling in GL Halloween, sitting outside the Top 20 (though if you DO use it there, you may want to stick with Hydro Pump instead), but it now has a new lease on life in Ultra League, able to run without Acid Spray entirely if you wish. It currently ranks #5 in the Ultra Halloween meta.
- Back down in Great League, ALOLAN RATICATE has made a little noise in the past, but looks primed to surge a bit with this season’s buff to Quick Attack. It’s actually best purified so it can utilize Return as well (with STAB!), and looks like a good build to me!
- Very likely, you’ve never thought too much about SKUNTANK in Ultra League. It IS actually quite viable in Open Ultra, but it is especially potent in UL Halloween Cup, right up there with better-known Dark/Poison Drapion. The problem is that Stank (and Drap, for that matter) is a hefty investment, needing to be leveled into the high 40s to be a real threat here. Here’s hoping Stunky shows up as a wild spawn during the Halloween event, because the grind for this one will be real if you want one. At least you can use a purified one and save on SOME investment? It’s arguably best with Return anyway, or Flamethrower as a nice alternative.
Alright, that should be more than enough to get you started, and help even experienced Halloween Cup battlers know what to seek out for the new (and improved?) meta(s) this time around. Go get ’em, and good luck!
I DO still plan to push out a standard comprehensive meta/budget analysis article for each of these two Halloween Cups as part of the long-running ‘Nifty Or Thrifty’ series. (The last one, though now somewhat outdated, can be found here, if you want to start prepping.) After I get to analyze Community Day Chandelure (Poltergeist stats WHEN, Niantic?!), those are next up on my docket!
Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time!