Gen 1-5 Starter Community Day Move PvP Tierlist and Full Analysis

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In case you missed it, not only do we get a new Shadow event this weekend, but we ALSO get a chance to get Community Day moves for all Gen 1-5 starters again too! And that ALSO means we can remove Frustration from Shadow starters and then evolve them during the same event. How nice is that?

Many folks have asked me to rank the starters so they know what to prioritize, and many analysers basically just do that, add some editorialized thoughts, and leave it at that. But that ain’t me. 😅 Nope, I decided to rank them, prioritize them, AND do a full analysis of their viability — or not! — in all the main Leagues of PvP play. Strap in… it’s a long and sometimes bumpy ride!

So long, in fact, that we’ll start with a quick Bottom Line Up Front.

B.L.U.F.

  • For Frenzy Plant users, I rank them as Venusaur, Meganium, Serperior (though Serp is very much nipping at Meg’s heels these days!), Torterra, and Sceptile. You can skip those last two entirely though.
  • For Blast Burn, Charizard remains #1 (and its Megas are amazing in PvP, if that ever becomes relevant), but Typhlosion and Blaziken (ALSO a nice Mega) are not far behind. Infernape and Emboar seem pretty hopeless.
  • Swampert is the top target not just for Hydro Cannon users, but arguably of the whole weekend. Shadow and non-Shadow are worth having in ALL three Leagues. Blastoise is next, then Empoleon (mostly for Ultra), Samurott for spice, and Feraligatr for… uh… the collectors?

One last caveat: these are just my own thoughts based on experience and simulations… it’s not gospel or anything! If you have other thoughts, even differing thoughts, please post them in comments after reading so we can all benefit from your knowledge too!

All that out of the way… let’s start with the moves themselves!

FRENZY PLANT

Hands down, Frenzy Plant is the all-around best of the three starter moves, leading in Damage Per Energy (2.22) and arguably relevance it gives Grass types. Waters have great moves like Surf, Crabhammer, Scald and others that deal high damage for their cost, while Fire types comes with some of the highest damage moves in the game (like Overheat and V-Create) that come with severe nerfs, but cheap costs. And of course, both Waters and Fires have Weather Ball. Grass? Grass has Leaf Storm now (and literally only two fringey Pokémon that actually use it) and the admittedly OP Leaf Blade, but arguably no starter type in the game needs their Community Day move more than Grasses need Frenzy Plant. So it’s okay that it’s the best of the three moves!

Just to put HOW good it is in some perspective, consider that it has the exact same stats (45 energy for 100 damage) as Close Combat and Wild Charge, hugely impactful PvP moves that both come with a severe drawback (self-nerfing the user’s Defense by TWO stages)… but of course, Frenzy Plant has no drawbacks whatsoever. Scared of Wild Charge and/or Close Combat? Rightly so. Frenzy Plant is just as scary, if not moreso!

BLAST BURN

Blast Burn is VERY close behind Frenzy Plant as one of the most efficient moves in the game, with its 2.20 Damage Per Energy ranking JUST behind Frenzy Plant’s 2.22. Only Flying Press and Aeroblast are higher among moves with no drawback/self-nerfing built in.

Blast Burn also deals the most damage of the three with 110, though it is also the slowest of the three at 50 energy. However, even that isn’t really a bad thing most of the time. Consider that many Fire starter Pokémon rely on either Fire Spin or Incinerate. Each individual Fire Spin generates 10 energy, and each Incinerate generates 20 energy. If Blast Burn’s cost was 45 energy, as with Frenzy Plant, it wouldn’t come any faster with Fire Spin or Incinerate… by the time you have enough energy for a 45-energy move, both have generated enough energy for Blast Burn anyway. (50 exactly for 5 Fire Spins, or 60 energy for 3 Incinerates.) Another fun fact, while we’re on the topic… there are no Fire moves in PvP that cost 45 energy. Blast Burn and Flame Charge cost 50, and Fire Punch, Blaze Kick, and V-Create each cost 40 energy.

Well, I found that interesting, at least. But anyway, Blast Burn is almost undoubtedly the best move Fire has to offer. Overheat and V-Create come with big drawbacks. Blast Burn is a more effective move than even Techno Blast (Burn) and Sacred Fire. It’s really, really good.

HYDRO CANNON

The cheap one, and the lightest hitting, but make no mistake: this is the exclusive starter move that has probably had the most impact on PvP on the whole, because it put Empoleon on the map in Ultra League and Swampert in ALL leagues.

Hydro Cannon costs 40 energy and deals 80 damage for a nice, cool 2.0 DPE. Unlike Fire and Grass types, that actually represents the highest DPE among all moves of that type, with the sole exception of Techno Blast (Douse) found only on Genesect and Origin Pulse (future move for Kyogre, so not technically in the game yet). No widespread moves like Overheat and Leaf Storm, just Hydro Cannon (or something like Hydro Pump) and that’s about it for Water knockout power. Hydro Cannon is a nice mix of the spam Water is known for with enough punch to be a true threat on its own.

Alright, so now that we’ve looked at the moves, let’s look at the fifteen Pokémon that can learn these moves!

I’ll try to highlight not only which of the starters are the best in PvP (basically putting them all into tiers) and which leagues they’re best in, but for the upper tier starters I will also highlight their more interesting wins. Generally you can assume things with Frenzy Plant will dominate Waters and Grounds and Rocks, Blast Burn roasts Grasses and Steels and Bugs and such, and Hydro Cannon washes away Fires and Grounds and Rocks and the like, so I won’t list those more obvious “oh, Venusaur beats Blastoise, who knew?!” type wins and will focus on some of the ones that make that particular starter stand out.

Got all that? Good, because here we gooooo!

MUST HAVES

SWAMPERT

Swampert WaterGround

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH

Master League Priority: VERY HIGH

This may be the most impactful overall PvP Pokémon in this entire article. Everyone who GBLs has likely encountered Swampert in all three leagues by now, and it has popped up in a ton of Silph Arena Cups as well. Swampert is the glassiest of the infamous Mud Boys, but it’s also the only Mud Boy ⁠— and actually the only starter period ⁠— that really has serious play in Master League. While Swampert does have Surf as a kinda-sorta-alternative for the same cost, Hydro Cannon is strictly better, dealing 15 more damage for the same 40 energy. If there is any league where you lack a good Hydro Cannon Swampert, this may be your absolute last opportunity to fix that and should be your #1, #2, and #3 starter goal of weekend.

  • Notable Great League Wins: Azumarill (w/ Play Rough), Lapras, Mandibuzz (Air Slash), Shadow Walrein, Alolan Ninetales, Defense Deoxys, Skarmory, Shadow Machamp, Froslass, Sableye, Galvantula, Obstagoon, Politoed, Whiscash, Registeel
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins: Cofagrigus, Wigglytuff, Scrafty, Azumarill (without Play Rough), Walrein, Alolan Ninetales , Defense Deoxys, Skarmory, Shadow Machamp, Froslass, Sableye, Galvantula, Obstagoon, Politoed, Whiscash, Registeel
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Altered Giratina (Shadow Claw), Cofagrigus, Gengar, Drifblim, Jellicent, Clefable, Sylveon, Granbull, Alolan Ninetales, Shadow Snorlax, Umbreon, Defense Deoxys, Melmetal, Machamp, Poliwrath, Galvantula, Escavalier, Alolan Muk, Registeel
  • Shadow Notable Ultra League Wins: Lapras, Skarmory, Obstagoon, Snorlax, Armored Mewtwo, Sirfetch’d, Empoleon, Tapu Fini, Cofagrigus, Gengar, Jellicent, Clefable, Sylveon, Granbull, Umbreon, Defense Deoxys, Melmetal, Machamp, Galvantula, Escavalier, Alolan Muk, Registeel
  • Notable Master League Wins: Zacian, Sylveon, Dialga, Metagross, Melmetal, Magnezone, Zekrom, Excadrill, Landorus, Machamp, Ho-Oh, Mamowine, Garchomp (Mud Shot), Groudon (Mud Shot)
  • Notable Master League Wins: Zacian, Sylveon, Dialga, Metagross, Melmetal, Magnezone, Zekrom, Excadrill, Landorus, Machamp, Ho-Oh

As the only Ground type among the Water starters, Swampert uniquely comes with built-in resistances to Rock, Poison, and perhaps most critically, Electric damage that other Waters do not have to boast, giving it truly unique wins like Magnezone, Galvantula, and Alolan Muk, while having a much easier time than others against stuff like Registeel, Melmetal, Galarian Stunfisk (and Excadrill), Machamp, Defense Deoxys and others. Swampert’s relative speed with Mud Shot charging up quick Hydro Cannons is certainly part of its success, but the typing is a massive part of that as well. Just watch out for those 2x super effective Grasses, of course!

And don’t forget that Swampie will eventually be getting its own Mega, and that may eventually matter in Master League too….

CHARIZARD

Charizard FireFlying

Dragon Breath (Dragon, 4.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 0.5 Cooldown)

AND Blast Burn (Fire, 110 damage, 50 energy, 2.20 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: VERY HIGH (Dragon Breath)

Master League Priority: MODERATE/HIGH (for Mega)

So here’s something new for Charizard… evolving it with BOTH of its Community Day moves. Blast Burn is of course the more famous and basic for a viable PvP Charizard (though Overheat really isn’t a bad replacement that can surprise with its raw power, though the big debuff hurts), but Dragon Breath (a fast move) has some good use in certain PvP metas as well.

I’ll certainly highlight Breath, but I’m also going to simulate with the customary Fire Spin too. Heck, I could even simulate with the perfectly viable Wing Attack too, but I have to draw the line somewhere, because between three viable fast moves and regular AND Shadow versions of each AND three leagues it’s viable in, I could fill an entire article on Charizard alone without batting an eye. So I’ll just be highlighting what moves are most relevant, alright?

In short though, Charizard doesn’t see as much play in Open Great League as it does in Limited metas… but it has some really great utility in certain Limited metas. It more than warrants a spot on your bench; even if you don’t find yourself using it as often as perhaps other PvP weapons, when the right meta arises, you will REALLY want to have it.

In Great League, Fire Spin and Dragon Breath are on roughly equal footing and there are a lot of nuances, the highlights of which are as follows:

  • Notable Great League Wins, Fire Spin: Medicham, Diggersby, Trevenant, Cofagrigus, Toxicroak, Froslass, Obstagoon, Registeel, Shadow Machamp, Drifblim, Vigoroth, Scrafty, Araquanid, Lickitung (note that Talonflame loses to Trev, Blim, Froslass, Shadow Machamp, and Medicham)
  • Notable Great League Wins, Dragon Breath: Altaria, Mandibuzz, Cresselia, Talonflame, Alolan Marowak, Shadow Ninetales, Trevenant, Cofagrigus, Diggersby, Toxicroak, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Araquanid, Lickitung (and still beats Skarmory, Charmers)
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins, Fire Spin: Umbreon, Medicham, Diggersby, Trevenant, Cofagrigus, Toxicroak, Froslass, Registeel, Drifblim, Vigoroth, Araquanid
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins, Dragon Breath: Politoed, Registeel, Altaria, Sableye, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, Drifblim, Cresselia, Talonflame, Shadow Ninetales, Trevenant, Cofagrigus, Diggersby, Toxicroak, Obstagoon, Araquanid

In Ultra League, Dragon Breath has a clearer edge over Fire Spin, with Fire having less clear targets to roast than in Great League, but Dragon damage (plus Charizard’s natural resistances) working out quite well in the current UL meta. For simplicity, I’ll focus on Dragon Breath below, as Fire Spin Zard is much more pedestrian as compared to other viable Fires.

  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Giratina Altered (Shadow Claw), Giratina Origin, Dragonite, (actually ALL Dragons but Palkia, Latios, and Dragon Breath Giratina-A), Lugia, Cresselia, Armored Mewtwo, Nidoqueen, Alolan Muk, Toxicroak, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Sirfetch’d, Walrein, Greedent, Snorlax, Poliwrath (w/o Scald), Jellicent (w/o Bubble Beam), Swampert! (still beats Charmers and Steels like Escavalier, Scizor, Ferrothorn, Skarmory)
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: ALL Dragons but Druddigon, Trevenant, Lugia, Cresselia, Armored Mewtwo, Toxicroak, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Sirfetch’d, Walrein, Greedent, Snorlax, Poliwrath (w/o Scald)

It IS also worth noting that Shadow Zard with Fire Spin is probably worth grabbing if you can, as it’s much scarier than non-Shadow. If you have extras you can get to UL size, Wing Attack is viable too.

And finally, in Master League, you’re probably best off getting Charizard for the potential return of Megas to Master League, as Charizard Mega X (the Fire/Dragon one) and especially NON-Dragon Charizard Mega Y are both actually really solid with Dragon Breath specifically. Here’s the way to invest in a hundo if you still have one and get BOTH needed moves without needing any Elite TMs. It’s a good future project for that potential Mega ML down the road. (And Arceus help us all when Mega Master League arrives!) Just not really great until then.

VENUSAUR

Venusaur GrassPoison

Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE (Mega Only)

There are more Grass starters with PvP relevance than Fire or Water starters. But Venusaur remains the best of them all, thanks to its handy Poison subtyping (extra resistances to Fighting, Fairy, and Grass) and Sludge Bomb for excellent all-around coverage. But of course, it’s all for naught without Frenzy Plant. Similar to Charizard, Venusaur is a great PvP Pokémon that just can’t keep up with the high IV stuff found in Master League, but has a good Mega that may be worth it there one day, and excellent use (perhaps even better than Zard overall) in the two lower Leagues. It always has been always will be a PvP staple with little chance of ever being repalced (as no other starters come with its Poisonous benefits).

  • Notable Great League Wins: Galarian Stunfisk, Wigglytuff (and every other Charmer), Meganium, Tropius (w/ Razor Leaf), Sableye, Umbreon, Scrafty, Defense Deoxys, Cresselia, Vigoroth, Lickitung, Dewgong, Lapras, Jellicent
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins: Bastiodon, Medicham, Cofagrigus, Registeel, Wigglytuff (and every other Charmer), Meganium, Tropius (w/ Razor Leaf), Sableye, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Defense Deoxys, Cresselia, Vigoroth, Lickitung, Dewgong
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Charmers, Machamp, Sirfetch’d, Poliwrath, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Greedent, Snorlax, Galarian Stunfisk, Walrein, Lapras, Cresselia, Meganium
  • Shadow Notable Ultra League Wins: Charmers, Umbreon, Galvantula, Melmetal, Alolan Muk (Snarl), Shadow Nidoqueen, Sirfetch’d, Poliwrath, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Greedent, Snorlax, Galarian Stunfisk, Lapras, Cresselia, Meganium, Ferrothorn

Venusaur DOES have at least some utility in Master League (most Fighters, Grounds, and Fairies ⁠— including Zacian ⁠— still want nothing to do with it), but is the very definition of “niche”. Mega Venusaur will very likely have a future if Mega Master League becomes a repeat occurence, however. This is a good time to evolve any hundo(s) you may have on hand.

MEGANIUM

Meganium Grass

Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Master League Priority: n/a

Meg has fallen on some hard times of late.

In some ways, things have never been better for Meganium with the rise of Steels and others that it can steal wins from using Earthquake, and it even manages to outbulk Walrein and still beats Registeel in particular. But it has NO answers to some more recent additions to metas, including Trevenant, Araquanid, and others, and unlike Venusaur, struggles with popular Fighters and Fairies. (Tends to still outbulk most Charmers, but loses to most Fighters in Great League.) That said, even with Venusaur in front of it and another Grass starter pressing on it from behind (more on that later), Meg remains a solid PvP piece, and is still a new-ish Shadow option you may have missed out on during the last TM-Frustration-away event. Don’t miss out this time!

  • Notable Great League Wins: Registeel, Galarian Stunfisk, Umbreon, Cresselia, Defense Deoxys, Lickitung, Dewgong, Lapras, Jellicent, Walrein, Wigglytuff, Alolan Ninetales (Charm), Sableye, Alolan Marowak (depending on IVs)
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins: Bastiodon, Cofagrigus, Registeel, Defense Deoxys, Vigoroth, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Sableye, Dewgong, Lapras, Jellicent, Cresselia, Lickitung, Wigglytuff, Alolan Ninetales (Charm)
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Charmers (including Togekiss!), Umbreon, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Machamp, Sirfetch’d, Galarian Stunfisk, Snorlax, Greedent, Melmetal, Cofagrigus, Origin Giratina, Armored Mewtwo, Cresselia, Walrein, Lapras, Melmetal
  • Shadow Notable Ultra League Wins: Charmers, Drapion, Defense Deoxys, Umbreon, Sirfetch’d, Galarian Stunfisk, Snorlax, Greedent, Melmetal, Cofagrigus, Cresselia, Walrein, Lapras, Melmetal, Registeel (depending on IVs)

As you can see, Meganium is still a bit more notable in Ultra League than Great, but absolutely still something to have on your bench. After all, Venusaur often gets banned in Remix formats, and Meg usually remains your first and best fill-in. And again, don’t miss out on this second shot at a Shadow one!

EMPOLEON

Empoleon WaterSteel

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: HIGH

Master League Priority: n/a

Being a very unique Steel among starters is great, but not in and of itself nearly enough… Empoleon basically has to have Hydro Cannon. Considering all of its other charge moves (other than nearly mandatory coverage move Drill Peck in move slot #2) cost 70 or more energy (Flash Cannon, and then Hydro Pump or Blizzard at 75 energy), its performance falls badly without the 40 energy Hydro Cannon, especially when you also consider that its fast move Waterfall generates energy at a rate that is below average.

While Empoleon itself is not necessarily a high-value asset in all three leagues (though it’s viable in Great and Ultra Leagues for sure, especially in Remix, Classic, and/or Cup formats), getting Hydro Cannon on it in all leagues IS a high priority.

  • Notable Great League Wins: Nidoqueen (most good Waters win this, but resisting Poison makes Empoleon particularly proficient and worth highlighting), Drapion, Mandibuzz (Air Slash), Abomasnow, Pelipper, Froslass, Skarmory, Charmers
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Fairies, Lugia, Armored Mewtwo, Cresselia, Umbreon, Alolan Muk, Drapion, Shadow Abomasnow, Shadow Dragonite, Greedent, Skarmory

The notables include a number of things that Empie’s Steel side resists: Psychics, Flyers, Dragons, Poisons and so on, things that can cause other Water problems. And those wins are great, and ensure Empoleon will always stand out in PvP. But it isn’t all that great as a true Water type due to the relative slowness of its moves, being merely neutral versus Fire, and being vulnerable to Ground and Fighting types. Still, it’s been a staple of some excellent Ultra League (and UL Premier/Classic) teams and seen use in GL Cups, and there is literally nothing else with its unique typing. This is one you want to have available for those occasions that call for it.

SHOULD HAVES

SERPERIOR

Serperior Grass

Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: n/a

I have to say, I respectfully disagree with several fellow analysts’ dismissal of Serperior. It is far better than the simple numbers show, as many who have used or faced them can attest. Many analysts insist on considering only Aerial Ace as its obvious second, “coverage” move option alongside Frenzy Plant, and while Aerial Ace isn’t unviable or anything — heck, it’s in the movepools of seemingly half the Pokémon in the game! — players that actually use Serperior will tell you that it almost always prefers Leaf Tornado instead. Not only is it a decent “bait” move (only 40 energy) that lets you outrace things more easily than Venusaur and Meganium and most other Frenzy Plant users, but with a 50% chance to decrease the opponent’s Attack by two stages (“harshly fell!”), it will very often have a significant impact on battles that doesn’t readily show up in simulations. Even in really bad spots, like facing down an Altaria or Mandibuzz or the like, Serperior is bulky enough to usually race to a couple Tornados and often get at least one big debuff to go off, leaving the opponent a much nastier parting shot than most Grasses (or heck, most Pokémon period) could ever dream of. While Tornado provides no coverage, I would argue it has a much greater effect in most games than a shaky move like Aerial Ace ever could. Ace rarely actually gets Serperior wins it otherwise wouldn’t unless you’re already ahead anyway.

All that to say: Serperior has some distinct advantages that Meganium and even Venusaur lack, and is a very capable Grass type that deserves more love, with a record right up there alongside them.

  • Notable Great League Wins: Defense Deoxys, Lickitung, Sableye, Umbreon, Galarian Stunfisk, Walrein, Meganium, Galvantula, Dewgong, Lapras, Pelipper, Jellicent, Cresselia, Wigglytuff, Alolan Ninetales (Charm)
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Galarian Stunfisk, Walrein, Lapras, Greedent, Snorlax, Sirfetch’d, Machamp, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Cofagrigus, Cresselia, Armored Mewtwo, Charmers (even Flying Togekiss!)

BLAZIKEN

Blaziken FireFighting

Blast Burn (Fire, 110 damage, 50 energy, 2.20 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: MODERATE…? HIGH…? (Mega eventually coming, so….)

Johnny Blaze’s schtick, of course, is being a Fighter with Counter, giving it unique utility where other Fires just fizzle. So why don’t we see it everywhere? Because, even for a Fire type, it’s quite flimsy, with less bulk than anything else in this entire article, of any typing. And that ⁠— coupled with the downsides of being a Fighter, such as weaknesses to Psychic and Flying damage and taking neutral from Fairy ⁠— just drag it down. But there’s still plenty of good to be found here, which we’ll review in a second.

The other interesting bit is… do you even want Blast Burn? After all, Blaziken has some other very intriguing closing moves like Legacy Stone Edge (with fantastic coverage) and non-Legacy Brave Bird.

That all said, Blast Burn is a hair faster than either of them, and the STAB damage it gets that they lack pushes it over even Brave Bird’s damage against neutral targets. The coverage offered by Edge and Bird is absolutely legit and even preferred in certain metas, but for your general use Blaze, I think it’s Blast Burn you want as your default. Combined with heavy damage from Counter itself, there is very little you can’t pound with at least neutral damage one way or the other. And as this is an article about the exclusive Community Day moves, Blast Burn is what I’ll be focusing on in sims. Like these!

  • Notable Great League Wins: Bastiodon, Mandibuzz, Umbreon, Lapras, Dewgong, Walrein (pretty well dominates here, much moreso than other Fire starters), Obstagoon, Lickitung, Diggersby, Talonflame, Shadow Ninetales, Galarian Stunfisk, Unovan Stunfisk, Scrafty (tie)
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Walrein, Umbreon, Lapras, Poliwrath, Snorlax, Greedent, Scrafty, Obstagoon, Alolan Muk, Drapion (yes, with Aqua Tail!), Charizard (Fire Spin), Galarian Stunfisk, Empoleon (depending on IVs)

Notable LOSSES are to most all Charmers, Psychics, and Flying damage, things most other Fires don’t directly have to worry about. But Blaze has a MUCH easier time against the scary Water/Ice types, Galarian Stunfisk (it takes neutral damage from Rock, which helps), and Darks in general than do other Fire starters, and Counter gives it a leg up versus those other Fire starters in head to head battles too. Yes, it’s glassy, and yes, it relies a bit on proper Blaze Kick baiting. But Blaziken is a ton of pressure to actually face down, one of those increasingly rare wild cards that really gets in your opponent’s head and puts them on their heels. I highly recommend scooping up Blaziken with Blast Burn if you still lack it, as I really feel it’s underrated.

And oh yeah, it DOES have a Mega eventually on the way. That WILL matter, as even its non-Mega form is already a little spicy in Master League.

TYPHLOSION

Typhlosion Fire

Blast Burn (Fire, 110 damage, 50 energy, 2.20 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: LOW-MODERATE

As with Blaziken, Typh has some fast move trickery that can set it apart. Yes, Incincerate is very much still the new hotness. (Get it? I so funny lolz), and generally what you’ll see on most Typhlosions out there. But don’t forget about Shadow Claw, which in some ways is STILL the superior fast move, despite being left in a ditch when Incinerate arrived in the game. So much so that I’m going to take the time to show you sims for both moves….

  • Notable Great League Wins, Incinerate: Walrein, Cofagrigus, Drifblim, Obstagoon, Toxicroak, Lickitung, Medicham
  • Notable Great League Wins, Shadow Claw: Cresselia, Defense Deoxys, Alolan Marowak, Unovan Stunfisk, Talonflame, Shadow Ninetales, Walrein, Cofagrigus, Drifblim, Medicham
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins, Incinerate: Umbreon, Mandibuzz, Lapras, Shadow Ninetales, Araquanid, Cresselia, Defense Deoxys, Dewgong, Walrein, Cofagrigus, Drifblim, Talonflame
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins, Shadow Claw: Altaria, Araquanid, Cresselia, Defense Deoxys, Dewgong, Walrein, Cofagrigus, Drifblim, Talonflame

So in short, I would propose that Shadow Claw MAY be the best fast move in today’s meta for non-Shadow Typhlosion, and Incinerate for Shadow Typh. Your call, but at the very least, hopefully this at least prompts a second look at Typhlosion… and the unique Shadow Claw version many seem to dismiss now. It’s still good!

  • Notable Ultra League Wins, Incinerate: Alolan Muk (Snarl), Empoleon, Cresselia, Jellicant (thanks to Solar Beam), Lapras, Galarian Stunfisk
  • Notable Ultra League Wins, Shadow Claw: Charizard (Fire Spin), Poliwrath, Lugia, Drifblim, Cofagrigus, Empoleon, Cresselia, Jellicant (thanks to Solar Beam), Lapras, Galarian Stunfisk
  • Shadow Notable Ultra League Wins, Incinerate: Shadow Snorlax, Greedent, Obstagoon, Alolan Muk, Cofagrigus, Armored Mewtwo, Walrein
  • Shadow Notable Ultra League Wins, Shadow Claw: Charizard (Fire Spin), Talonflame, Jellicent, Cresselia, Origin Giratina, Drifblim, Defense Deoxys, Lugia, Cofagrigus, Armored Mewtwo, Walrein

Yet again, while Incinerate is indeed awesome in Ultra League, Shadow Claw deserves a lot more attention than it’s been getting of late, and really sets Typhlosion apart from other Fire starters (and Fires in general). As with Blaziken, is Typh just underrated? It’s a staple of Premier Classic (still hoping that comes back next season!), but even in Open play, Typh should see a bit more play than I think it does today… and with Claw, IMO. What do YOU think?

Shadow Claw also carves out a unique little niche in Master League (beating Mewtwo specifically), but as with most of these other starters, the case is rather weak at this level. Still, it’s arguably one of the best (non-Mega) starters there… who knew?

BLASTOISE

Blastoise Water

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE-HIGH

Master League Priority: MODERATE (Mega)

Let’s just be honest… Blastoise is nothing special in PvP. Don’t get me wrong, it’s easily still one of my top favorite Pokémon designs, but it just doesn’t DO anything particularly special. It’s very bulky, and can simply wear stuff down with Water Gun and Hydro Cannon, and close it out with Skull Bash (or Ice Beam) when necessary. But it is notably slower and less menacing than Swampert. There’s value in Blastoise, and it’s probably the best overall Water starter behind only Swampie, but far less exciting.

  • Notable Great League Wins: Walrein, Swampert, Azumarill (w/o Play Rough), Politoed, Wigglytuff, Mandibuzz, Umbreon, Sableye, Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Unovan Stunfisk, Drifblim, Drapion, Cofagrigus (tie)
  • Shadow Notable Great League Wins: Dewgong, Defense Deoxys, Medicham, Cofagrigus Alolan Ninetales (Charm), Wigglytuff, Swampert, Azumarill (any but IB/PR), Sableye, Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Unovan Stunfisk, Drifblim, Drapion
  • Notable Ultra League Wins: Greedent, Snorlax, Obstagoon, Machamp, Nidoqueen, Drapion, Alolan Muk, Shadow Swampert, Shadow Politoed, Gyarados, Umbreon, Gengar, Cofagrigus, Drifblim, Empoleon, Escavalier, Melmetal, Skarmory, Defense Deoxys, Lugia, Tapu Fini, Charmers, Toxicroak (depending on IVs)

Haven’t seen a lot of Shadow Blastoise, but as you can see it’s a very nice alternative in Great League, though a BIG step down overall in Ultra League. For your UL variety, you want non-Shadow. And while Blastie is a standout in ULPC, note how its bulk wills it to a LOT of wins in Open too. Ultra is probably its best niche… at least until Mega Blastoise possibly rumbles onto the scene. Turtle Power!

CATCH ‘EM IF YOU CAN

SAMUROTT

Samurott Water

Hydro Cannon (Water, 80 damage, 40 energy, 2.00 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: n/a

Even with Hydro Cannon and Bug damage from Fury Cutter and the superbuffed Megahorn, if I’m being honest, Samurott remains more curiosity than exciting new Water option, (in Great and Ultra League). BUT, its ability to beat up on several notable Darks and Psychics, turn the tables on several Grasses, and outrace a number of other big names thanks to its unique Bug damage output will mean something at some point, I’m almost sure of it. Open formats may not be ideal, but Samurott’s unique profile will give it play with the right meta around it. I recommend getting good ones with Hydro Cannon for Great League and Ultra League if you haven’t already. It’s still behind most other Water starters, but has some nice niches. (Those niches include things like Abomasnow, Bastiodon, Defense Deoxys, Hypno, Talonflame, Umbreon, Venusaur, Medicham, Obstagoon, Cresselia, Galarian Stunfisk, and several others depending on which league and shielding scenario you’re looking at.)

This isn’t a Water starter you will likely find yourself using often over Swampert or Empoleon (or even Blastoise!), but it IS potent and unique enough that I think you want to have at least one on hand. Got a good one to build? Do it while it doesn’t cost you any Elite TMs. Samurott is nothing without Hydro Cannon.

TORTERRA

Torterra GrassGround

Frenzy Plant (Grass, 100 damage, 45 energy, 2.22 DPE)

Great League Priority: MODERATE

Ultra League Priority: MODERATE

Master League Priority: LOW

Don’t misunderstand the tepid Moderates and Low up above to mean Torterra is itself bad in PvP… I actually think it’s underrated! But getting the exclusive move is lower priority, in my opinion. I have talked up Torterror multiple times before (including my very first Master League article WAY back in the day), but as refresher: it’s good because of its unique Grass/Ground typing, its bulk, Sand Tomb baiting shields and making Razor Leaf even more deadly, and because it gets big enough to play with the big boys in Master League. You’ll notice that none of that directly involves Frenzy Plant. It’s not that FP isn’t good ⁠— as a reminder, it is almost unquestionably the best of the broken Community Day starter moves ⁠— it’s just that Tort really doesn’t need it to do what it’s best at. It DOES come 10 energy cheaper than Stone Edge, which can be key with a slow-charging fast move like Razor Leaf, but the problem is that Edge provides literally perfect coverage for Torterra, which is weak to Flying, Fire, Bug, and especially Ice damage… and Edge hits all four of those types of Pokémon for super effective damage. Yes, it’s slower, but when it comes, it will have much more potential impact than Frenzy Plant which deals more of the same type of damage Razor Leaf is already quickly piling on anyway. If you like Torterra, it’s worth getting a Frenzy Plant one in whatever league(s) where you’d consider using it, because it DOES work fine. I just think that if you’re using Torterra, it is the coverage of Stone Edge you want more than the relative speed of Frenzy Plant (especially in Master League, where Rock has far more utility than Grass). But that’s me!

WELL, MAYBE YOU DON’T HAVE TO CATCH ‘EM ALL….

Sceptile Grass
  • I still say SCEPTILE is a sneaky good spice pick, it’s just that it doesn’t even really WANT Frenzy Plant, preferring Leaf Blade instead. If I HAD to pick one from this list to get the exclusive move, though, this would be it. I just feel like it’s going to really break out one of these days….
Infernape FireFighting
  • INFERNAPE is not godawful, but it wishes it was Blaziken. Considering its only Fighting fast move is the putrid Rock Smash (which appears on too many Pokémon to be likely for a near-term buff), I don’t see it suddenly breaking out either, despite the tasty combo of Blast Burn and Close Combat.
Emboar FireFighting
  • EMBOAR appreciates having Blast Burn, but it’s still not PvP relevant and likely never will be. You can do much better for your Fire type.
Feraligatr Water

Whew, that ended up a LOT longer than I anticipated! (How does that ALWAYS happen to me? 😅) So we’ll end it here haha.

Until next time (new Shadow article coming up shortly!), you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you know what best to evolve this weekend. Good luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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