Hello again, fellow PvPers! So while we were waiting for Niantic to drop news on GBL Season 9 (and of course, the associated move rebalance), your friendly neighborhood PvP analyst was left in a rare time of not having a new meta or release to write about. Well, you know what they say about idle hands. So THESE hands had to find something to do!
So while the game is currently looking ahead—WAY ahead—to Generation 8 and the Galar region (and Hisui, which is actually a look back at Sinnoh before it was Sinnoh), in addition to obviously skipping right over Generation 7 and the Alola region, there are a lot of other things currently being left in the dust. Yes, things like Volcarona and Keldeo and Koroark and Gen 4 Legendaries and of course the travesty that is Kecleon (JUSTICE FOR KECLEON!), but uh… we were still kind of right in the middle of Generation 6, Niantic. There’s a lot of things being left behind in the region we were still in the middle of exploring!
So while I imagine we’ll eventually go back and catch up with all that’s already been left in the dust, in the more immediate future I imagine Gen6 will get (mostly?) wrapped up. When is anybody’s guess, but I will say this: there are a goodly number of Ghosts remaining that I figured we’d get LAST Halloween, but gadzooks, we’re only about two months from what will likely be the big annual Halloween event for this year already! I would bet we’ll finally see some of the Gen6 ghouls and ghosts come out to play at last this year. So while I’ll wait to do a more in-depth review of all of these whenever we get some inkling that their release is actually imminent, let’s use “Future Sight” and take a quick look on the horizon….
So like I said, there are several Ghosts (and Darks) awaiting release. Halloween in Pokémon GO has changed year to year, but it’s been the most consistent annual event to date (it was actually the first formal event in the game way back in 2016), and has pretty consistently featured Ghosts and Darks and/or Psychics as its chief attractions. So what might we be getting this year?
TREVENANT (and its preevlotuon Phantump) is, by Pokédex number, the first Ghost/Grass type in the game. It’s a typing combination with very little overlap… while Ghost negates the typical Grass weaknesses to Poison and Bug, otherwise you’re left with all the good (Ghost double resistances to Fighting and Normal, Grass resistances to Electric, Water, Ground, and Grass) and all the bad (Ghost vulnerabilities to Dark and Ghost, Grass weakneses to Fire, Flying, and Ice) of each of the two typings. At least it doesn’t have any doubled up vulnerabilities?
Anyway, Trevor has some good things going for it when it comes to its moveset. It all starts with Shadow Claw, which I was honestly surprised to see Niantic grace it with. It learns several lesser fast moves in MLG (Hex, Feint Attack, and Astonish 🤢) that I really expected it to be stuck with, but this is one of those rare cases where it got the best possible option. And that includes its charge moves. Niantic could have stuck it with things like Solar Beam, Energy Ball, Dark Pulse or the like, but instead it ended up with Seed Bomb for Grass damage, Shadow Ball for huge STAB damage, and even Foul Play to… uh, hit Normal types, I guess? It’s really saying something when Foul Play is likely the worst of your charge move options!
But enough beating around the bush! What can this bad boy actually do? Well, starting with Great League, we have… holy moley! It can beat over 2/3 of the Great League meta in even shields. Its Ghost side rather easily handles all the big Psychics (Hypno, DD, Cress, Mew, etc.), all the big Fighters (Medicham, Machamp, Vigoroth, Toxicroak, etc.), and even the vast majority of opposing Ghosts, from tanky Drifblim and Jellicent to even outracing speedsters like Sableye and Haunter! Its resistance to Grass while throwing out big neutral damage with its Ghost moves means it also beats most of the big Grasses, to include Venusaur, Shadow Vic, RL Tropius, Meganium, Ferrothorn and many more. And with its Grass damage from Seed Bomb, it handles the Mud Boys, Politoed, Pelipper, Stunfisk, and yes, even Galarian Stunfisk just fine. (It can and often will lose to Ice Beam Azumarill, however, though it puts up a really tough fight and beats Azumarill lacking Ice Beam without much trouble at all.) Put it ALL together and it outraces Bastiodon, Galvantula, Registeel, Melmetal, all the major Charmers but Ghost-resistant Wigglytuff, and then the stuff that makes no sense: Skarmory, Alolan Marowak, Froslass, and even Talonflame! Yes, it takes some big damage in the process from their super effective moves, but it outslugs them all with its own Ghost moves, and at least versus Lass and Talon, actually has enough life left over (34+ HP) to do some more damage to whatever follows. Opponents running those four are very likely to leave them in if they don’t know any better, thinking about their on-paper advantages while you ruin their day.
And amazingly, Trevor may be an even better fit in Ultra League. Yes, will usually be XL, but not too drastically so… a Level 42 or so hits a nice sweet spot, and a Level 40 is not a dropoff at all, actually potentially gaining a win (over Sylveon). Trevenant (XL or not) nets over a 70% win rate 👀 against the core meta, including ALL Psychics, Ghosts, and Fighters that comprise that meta except for Scrafty and Gengar, as well as all Grasses but pesky Abomasnow, and ALL meta Waters (even Lapras and Poliwrath with their scary Ice damage). It fends of G-Fisk again, plus Nidoqueen (though that one is admittedly very close), Escavalier, Scizor, Melmetal, Registeel, Galvantula, all the Charmers except (sometimes, as previously noted) Sylveon, and once again can amazingly outrace big Fires like Talonflame, Charizard, Ho-Oh, and Typhlosion. Truly incredible.
There’s a reason I led this off with Trevor… a LOT of reasons, as you can see above. It doesn’t get big enough to do any damage in Master League, but in Great and Ultra, Trevenant is the type of addition that can truly shake up both metas the moment it arrives. It’s gonna be YUGE.
But Trevor isn’t the only Ghostly Grass added in Gen6. There’s also possessed pumpkin GOURGEIST, which obviously screams “Halloween Event!”. You can kind of think of it as a bulkier Trevenant, with about a dozen less Attack and about 15 less HP, but 40+ more Defense. It also shares the same ideal charge moves (Seed Bomb and Shadow Ball, with Foul Play again being an alternative option) and has Fire Blast tacked on for the #GetBeamed crowd. Even Blast isn’t terrible because the other big difference with this spectral veggie (as opposed to the possessed Ent above) is the fast moves, having Razor Leaf but much preferring to run with big energy generating move Hex. That means that unlike Trevor, Gourgeist relies much more on charge moves to deal damage. Does it work?
Well, it’s no Trevenant, but it mostly DOES work out, yes. In Great League it does give up several Ghosts (Jelli, Sable, Haunter) and is less reliable versus Grasses (losing Tropius and Serperior that Trevor can beat) and loses others like Whiscash, Sylveon, Clefable, and those standout wins Trevor could get versus Skarmory, Bastiodon, and Talonflame. BUT, the increase in bulk means that Geist can take down Azumarill even with Ice Beam, and is much more reliable in beating G-Fisk, A-Wak, Pelipper, Galvantula, and others that could get a little too close for comfort versus Trevenant. And as I hinted, even Fire Blast can work if you’re feeling spicy thanks to Hex racing to it, bringing in a suprise win versus Skarmory and making G-Fisk (and most Steels in general) a breeze. Despite the obvious dropoff in overall performance, it’s possible that Gourgeist could actually be a better fit for some teams in Great League, and may emerge as the better of the two new Ghost/Grass types in certain limited metas (read as: Cups) depending on what’s in or out in those metas.
And as in Great League, yes, Gourgeist can work in Ultra, though it’s quite a bit more expensive than Trevenant to build (HAS to be XL, and one deep into the 40s at that) and isn’t quite as dynamic even once you get there. (Though beating Dragonite is a nice perk it has over Trevor.) Once again, you may want to consider actually going with Fire Blast for the surprises it brings into the fold.
So while Gourgeist is not as explosive as Trevenant, that doesn’t mean it’s not good, and it still carves out (haha I made a funny) a nice niche with its superior performance versus stuff like Azu, G-Fisk, and others.
And while there’s another big Ghost that Niantic has been hinting at lately as subtlely as a Mamoswine in the kitchen, we’ll get there later. First, let’s get Dark with MALAMAR. After all, Darks have been a big part of Halloween events too, as have Psychic types… and Malamar is both, leaving it with just two weaknesses (Fairy and an unfortunate double vulnerability to Bug), and a triple resistance to Psychic damage… and that’s it. Malamar takes neutral damage from everything else in the game. But unfortunately, that and the way you will apparently be able to evolve it (by literally turning your phone upside down) are the most interesting things about it, as in both Great League and Ultra League, its performance leaves much to be desired. Obviously it loses to any Fairies and basically anything that deals Bug damage, but it cannot even reliably beat Psychics, losing to things like Mew in Great League and Cresselia, DDeoxys, and Lugia in Ultra League, despite having Foul Play and that triple Psychic resistance. The problem is that, while its moveset of Foul Play and Superpower powered out by STAB Psycho Cut seem great on paper, in actual practice it usually leaves it with something being resisted. It’s inconsistent versus Steels, for example, because Psycho Cut is resisted as it builds up to Superpower. It struggles versus some Psychics because they can just shield the Foul Plays and resist everything else (really only beating things like Hypno that rely heavily on their Psychic damage output to apply pressure). It can’t take advantage of its moves versus Darks or Ghosts that it could deal super effective damage to effectively because they pile on big neutral damage in return. It can’t farm down Fighters because they also deal neutral back and Malamar’s charge moves don’t really help it close the deal. Basically, it wins some of those some of the time, but is in no way reliable or consistent. Malamar is not a total loss, beating big names like Bastiodon, G-Fisk, Hypno, Swampert, Lapras, Shadow Vic, Toxicroak, Registeel, and Jellicent in Great League and the Giratinas, Sirfetch’d, Melmetal, Abomasnow, Scrafty, Venusaur, Politoed, Drifblim in Ultra League, among others. It’s just maddeningly all over the map, losing to several things in Ultra League that it beats in Great League, or vice versa. Unless you REALLY know what it can and cannot beat, for certain, I can see it being a nightmare to use. (“Do I have to shield this or can I tank? Can I outrace this thing to the next charge move? AHHHHH!!!”) Of course, that sword could cut both ways, so maybe I’m being too alarmist. I CAN say this for certain: when Malamar arrives, somebody is going to try it out. Maybe start studying those wins and losses now, eh?
Oh, and there’s also AEGISLASH, which just might break Great League in half if it arrives unaltered one day. But uh… yeah. Let’s just pretend that doesn’t exist, because thankfully, as far as GO is concerned, it doesn’t… yet.
THEY WILL, THEY WILL ROCK YOU
Couple of very interesting Rock types to talk about next, but as I don’t necessarily see their release being as imminent due to no Halloween connection (cue Niantic releasing these, like, next week 😅), I’ll just bulletize these.
- Releasing as the first and so far only Rock/Ice types in the franchise will be AURORUS and preevolution Amaura. But maybe there’s a reason those types are not otherwise linked, as it leaves the pair weak to Grass, Ground, Rock, Water, AND double vulnerable to Fighting and Steel. Yikes. 🥶 The good news is resistances to Ice, Flying, Poison, and Normal damage, but still… that’s not a great defensive type combination at all. Good thing then that they both have really great moves, with both having Powder Snow, Weather Ball Ice, and Thunderbolt for some really neat coverage. Unfortunately, both also have Ancient Power as their only Rock charge move, though at least Aurorus also has Rock Throw as a possible alternative to Powder Snow, as well as Blizzard for an awesome closing move if preferred. So good are these movesets that both Aurorus AND XL Amaura actually mostly work in Great League (handling a variety of Flyers, Dragons, Grasses, Grounds, and Waters, albeit not 100% consistently), and Aurorus is viable in Ultra League (slight edge to Rock Throw there) and, despite being JUST over a mere 2800 CP at Level 40 and under 3200 CP at Level 50, it even sorta works in Master League Classic (and to a slightly lesser extent in full fledged Master League. Just imagine what they could do with those moves and a better defensive typing!
- But that’s all nothing compared to the other Rock yet to come. Can you say Bastiodon 2.0? Because that’s basically CARBINK in a nutshell. Keeping Bastie’s Rock typing and crazy good PvP stats (just 3-4 more Attack and about 10 less HP, but slightly more Defense), it trades in Bastie’s Steel for a Fairy subtyping instead. That leaves it double weak to Steel and also vulnerable to Ground, Water, and Grass, but unlike Bastie, Fighters deal only neutral damage, and it resists Dark, Fire, Flying, Normal, Bug, and double resists Dragon. It also lacks Bastie’s oppressive Smack Down (and also lacks Charm), but replaces it with Rock Throw to go along with a faster-than-Bastie-moves Rock Slide, which is good since Rock Throw actually generates slightly less energy (2.5 Energy Per Turn) than does Smack Down (2.67 EPT). Its other move of choice is Moonblast… imagine getting the Attack nerf to trigger off it too! Evil. The end result is that Carbink’s record is nearly identical to that of Bastiodon, the differences being due mostly to typing, with Bastie being much better versus Grasses (tending to beat Venusaur, S-Victreebel, Shiftry, Serperior, Ferrothorn, Razor Leaf Tropius, and Grass Knot user Cresselia) and Carbink being superior versus Fighters instead (beating Medicham, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Vigoroth, DDeoxys, and Superpower user Melmetal), as well as Munchlax, oddly enough. 🤷🏻♂️ Other than that odd Munchie difference, it’s amazing how clean the break is between the two with Grass on one side and Fighters on the other! As I said, say hello to Bastie 2.0 when Carbink arrives. Tremble before your doom!
Now on to some Grasses, and beyond the spooky ones up above, there are a couple others of note….
- Technically, FLORGES is not a Grass, despite its looks, but it comes with Razor Leaf and Vine Whip as its only viable fast moves, so it definitely operates like one. But it also operates quite effectively like the Fairy that it actually is, having Moonblast just like Carbink, along with the rarely-seen Disarming Voice, a move I’ve been pushing for more widespread distribution for a long time now. (I was REALLY hoping Sylveon would be released with it.) Why? Because Voice is actually a good PvP move, being a Fairy clone of Foul Play, Crunch, Psyshock, and Magnet Bomb (45 energy for 70 damage). But practically nothing has it, and in particular, not one single fully evolved Fairy uses it. Well, until Florges comes out, at least! Its record in Great League isn’t all that… well, great, but it does soundly wallop Darks and most Fighters (and Altaria, of course), as well as outracing Sylveon and putting that Grass damage to good use by beating Stunfisk, Diggersby, Lapras, Politoed, Pelipper, Whiscash, and even Jellicent. (Though it sadly usually falls short versus Azumarill.) But unlike most Fairies, it can grow quite large and gets a little better the higher you go, with a viable record in Ultra League, being even more solid versus Fighters at that level while still crushing the many Darks and Dragons around, and even being better versus Waters (still taking out Jelli and Toed, much more efficiently than at GL level, and adding Swampert and Gyarados too), and also now beating Galvantula, Shadow Snorlax, most Charmers (Granbull, Clefable, Sylveon), and even Dragon Breath Charizard. But brace yourselves, because in Master League Classic, Florges now finds its way to a winning record, and is particularly impressive in full blown Master League, taking out every Dragon but Dialga, plus Fighters, Darks (read as: Yveltal), Snorlax, Zacian, Sylveon, Lugia, Mamoswine, and thanks in large part to Vine Whip, Swampert, Gyarados, Groudon, and Rhyperior as well! It’s a thoroughly impressive performance that has me wondering how readily available XL candy will be for it when released!
- Actual Grass type GOGOAT is essentially an upgrade on Tangrowth. Sorry, shaggy buddy, but The Goat is just plain better than you now. The reasons are pretty simple: both have Vine Whip and the awesome coverage of Rock Slide, but Gogoat has a superior Grass charge move (Leaf Blade rather than the still-good-but-not-AS-good Power Whip that Tangrowth uses), and Gogogoat is also a bit bulkier than Growth. That’s not to say Tangrowth is suddenly useless… it’s still solid and gets a few wins thanks to its raw power that Gogogogoat cannot, like Umbreon, Cresselia, and Dewgong. But Gogogogogoat beats many things Growth cannot, such as Galarian Stunfisk, Talonflame, Shadow Champ, Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Clefable, Sylveon, Chesnaught, Shadow Victreebel, Haunter, Hypno, Froslass and more. The Goat’s superiority continues in Ultra League, with it defeating things that Tangrowth cannot, like Meganium, Armored Mewtwo, Togekiss, CharmTales, Machamp, Scrafty, Shadow Snorlax, Scizor, and even Dragonite. (Growth’s unique wins, by contrast, are just Gallade and regular Snorlax.) So again, Tangrowth is not suddenly useless, it’s just (mostly) going to be upstaged by Gogogogogogoat when it butts its way into the Pokémon GOGO.
There’s also FURFROU, an odd Normal type that runs best with the eclectic moveset of Sucker Punch, Surf, and Grass Knot (that last move being what gets it into this section of the article 😉). And while Frou does notably beat both Stunfisks, Politoed, Whiscash, Hypno, and all the prominent Ghosts of Great League and would perhaps be more interesting in Ultra League, it just doesn’t get big enough there, and doesn’t do enough to be more than a spicy niche player in Great League.
Like, literally. AVALUGG is just a big walking iceberg. And it plays as such, with above average bulk, and can get quite large (nearly 3200 CP at Level 40, and over 3600 CP at Level 50!). More good news: it has a pretty good moveset. Ice Fang is its only viable fast move, but for charge moves it has Body Slam, Crunch, Mirror Coat, Earthquake, and on-type Avalanche. While you can certainly play around with some of those, normally you’re going to want to keep it simple with Body Slam/Avalanche, with which it is competitive in Great League and Ultra League. But where it really excels is in Master League, where Ice is a very powerful typing, so much so that so-so Ices like Mamoswine and Glaceon are major competitors. Avalugg is better than both. Just look over that record and let that all sink in. Lugg is one you’re definitely going to want.
SHOCK OR JUST STATIC?
Couple new Electric types on the way, though both have the unreleased Parabolic Charge as a charge move, currently in the game files as a 55 energy move that deals only 25 damage. That cannot be the final numbers, so these two are hard to fully evaluate until we know what PB will actually be, but looking at them with current viable moves:
- The popular DEDENNE is a new take on Raichu with a Fairy subtyping. And while it’s a bit bulker than either Raichu, which is a good thing, it lacks much of what makes the Raichus special, with no Volt Switch and no Wild Charge, instead having to rely on Thunder Shock and Discharge, and Play Rough for coverage. While that makes it a decent Electric that can beat Darks and some Fighters, it’s not as dynamic a performance as the Super Raichu Bros. Perhaps Dedenne will carve out a nice niche, and I could especially see that in the right Cup-like metas, but usually I think it’s going to be playing second fiddle. Depending, of course, on what happens with Parabolic Charge.
- There’s also Electric/Normal type HELIOLISK, but it’s got some problems right out of the gate. It’s pretty Attack-heavy, and that Normal typing is more curse (weak to Fighting) than blessing (resisting Ghost). With non-Parabolic moves, yes, it DOES beat Ghosts, along with a number of Flyers and Waters, but it’s not very reliable in that role (losing to things like Lapras, Dewgong, and Politoed). And while it can get big enough for Ultra League, it’s not great there either, again failing to beat several big name Waters and Flyers and failing to beat Altered Giratina even if it has Shadow Claw. It’s a wild card, but hopefully it can get a little better when (if?) Parabolic Charge sees an update.
ODDS AND ENDS
Hard to really group the remainder, so let’s just go through them here before we close things out.
- HAWLUCHA is the franchise’s only Fighting/Flying type other than Galarian Zapdos (and at this rate, maybe we’ll get G-Dos in GO first! 😵). The type combination is a mixed bag, with weaknesses to Electric, Ice, Fairy, Psychic, and ironically, other Flyers, but resistances to Dark, Grass, Fighting, and 2x to Ground and Bug. But the real story with Lucha is its move package, which includes Wing Attack and Poison Jab as fast moves, and Sky Attack and Flying Press (the 40 energy for 90 damage move that I pray does NOT get nerfed any time soon) as charge moves, with Power-Up Punch or X-Scissor that can be thrown into the mix for extra shenanigans. It sims well with multiple combinations of those moves, though going in my favorite is probably Poison Jab with both closers. It does get big enough for Ultra League, but it struggles a bit more there. I’m excited to see this one in PvP.
- VIVILLON is probably what Butterfree has always wanted to be, as it comes with Gust! But unfortunately, it just can’t do much with it, thanks in large part to lackluster charge moves. Boo.
THEY ARE LEGEND
And finally, the new Legendaries. Honestly, none are really earth-shattering, but I’d be remiss to not at least mention them, so here we go!
- Niantic has been waving their arms in the air for weeks trying to get us hyped for HOOPA, specifically the Psychic/Ghost Confined version. But being heavily Attack-weighted, there is honestly not much to be excited about in PvP. And unfortunately, that goes for the Psychic/Dark Unbound Hoopa too. Having all big bombs (and no baits) for charge moves powered out by Confusion apparently just doesn’t work very well in PvP for things that have not a lot of bulk. Who knew? Hoopa should be a PvE superstar though, so there’s that.
- ZYGARDE at least has a lot more promise than Tyrantrum (or Hoopa, for that matter), though it’s hard to be anything but disappointed that even it cannot reliably beat Dialga. Perhaps it’s best to keep it in Ultra League?
- Odd Fire/Water VOLCANION also looks a lot better in Ultra League than it does in Master League, but at least it DOES beat Diagla!
- Remember Carbink? Well DIANCIE is basically a Legendary version for Ultra League (it doesn’t get big enough for Master League, though it does have a Mega version that likely would). But unlike Carbink, Diancie is not a super bulky tank, so it does not enjoy anywhere near the same success in PvP. Sorry, Diancie fans!
To quickly summarize:
- Hopefully we get the remaining Gen6 Ghosts this Halloween (not too long from now!), as Gourgeist and especially Trevenant are certain to have BIG impacts on the Great and Ultra League metas. Trevenant in particular may be the biggest “get” left in Generation 6 for PvP… well, aside from Aegislash, which looks likely to snap Great League over its knee like a twig.
- Carbink is Bastiodon 2.0 that beats Fighters instead of Grasses. And Aurorus and Amaura are basically good Ice types with a mostly unfortunate subtyping (Rock) that makes them shakier than they should be with their good moves, but they’re still viable.
- Gogoat is better Tangrowth in Great and Ultra. Sorry, Shaggy… your days are numbered.
- Florges is a pure Fairy that relies on its (really good) charge moves to deal Fairy damage and plays somewhat as a Grass thanks to utilizing Vine Whip for its fast move. It operates as a bit of both and should be interesting in all leagues… it actually works best in Master League.
- Avalugg is a big thicc Ice type that does alright in Great and Ultra Leagues, but will likely find the most success in Master League as very likely the new best Ice in ML.
- Dedenne and Heliolisk look average right now, but their success or failure will likely come down to what Niantic decides to do with Parabolic Charge, a move they both share.
- Hawlucha will become the game’s first Flying Fighter, and has a very good variety of very good moves. It will make an impact in Great League at the very least.
- The rest do not look particularly great for PvP (including the Legendaries), but of course, ANY of these are subject to change prior to release, so stay tuned!
Alright, that’s all I got for now. Until next time (that big Season 9 move shakeup!), you can find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis info, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!
Good luck on your hunt, Pokéfriends, and please be SAFE out there.
Catch you next time.