Holiday Cup Ultra League Meta – Nifty Or Thrifty Edition

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The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: the Ultra League Edition of Holiday Cup, in this case. As is typical for the NoT series, I’ll cover not only the top meta picks, but also some mons where you can save some dust with cheaper second move unlock costs or using as little XL Candy as possible.

Because for those on a stardust budget – and/or folks trying to save up some dust for the future – it can be daunting trying to figure out where to spend or not spend it. We all want to field competitive teams, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps channel our inner scrooge?

Holiday Cup

A quick reminder of what Holiday Cup (Ultra League Edition) is:

  • Ultra League, 2500 CP Limit.
  • Only Electric, Flying, Ghost, Grass, Ice, and Normal type Pokémon are allowed.
  • No other restrictions. Legendaries, Mythicals, Shadows are all a-okay!

This isn’t just a rehash of Great League Holiday Cup either. Yes, there are some familiar faces, but many Pokemon that dominated that Holiday Cup like Lanturn, Vigoroth, and Froslass fall away at this level, and new threats rise to take their place. What are the best of the best here? That is what we are here to find out!

As I try to usually do, I will start with those with the cheapest second move unlock cost and steam ahead until we finally arrive at the expensive Legendaries.

Okay, enough intro. Let’s dive in!

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

VENUSAUR

Venusaur GrassPoison

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb

Yep, leading off another ‘Nifty Or Thrifty’ with my long-time buddy Venusaur. And why not? It’s a solid option at this level, in regular (unique wins: Aurorus, Walrein) or Shadow form (unique wins: Galvantula, Ferrothorn). If you happen to have a Shadow with very good PvP IVs, it can get Aurorus back in the win column, but otherwise I might be more inclined to go with non-Shadow. Aurorus is a heck of an important win in this meta, as we’ll say later. But anyway, Venusaur is a great option here that doesn’t require a single XL Candy even with #1 IVs, which is always great.

CHESNAUGHT

Chesnaught GrassFighting

Vine Whip | Superpower & Energy Ball

It’s almost cruel that we can’t get Frenzy Plant on Chesnaught until mere days after UL Holiday Cup will be over. Auuuugh. For now, we’ll have to make do with Energy Ball. And that’s okay enough, leaving ‘Naught as a Grass that can also pummel Aurorus, Mamoswine, Magnezone, Walrein, Lapras, and even Ferrothorn in addition to the standard anti-Electric/Water/Rock role Grasses are called on to play in this meta.

Meganium Grass Serperior Grass

I’ll also point out MEGANIUM and the surprisingly solid SERPERIOR. They actually have nearly identical win/loss lists, with Meg just managing to outlast Regice, and Serp instead beating Trevenant and Virizion (with Aerial Aceor Mamoswine and Piloswine (with Leaf Tornado). But both have to be pushed high into the 40s, especially for better IVs. (And without high rank IVs and being pushed to almost Level 50, some wins like Regice start dropping off.) I think you’re probably better off with Venusaur or Chesnaught if you don’t have a Meg or Serp stuffed with XL Candy already.

CHARIZARD

Charizard FireFlying

Wing Attackᴸ/Dragon Breathᴸ/Fire Spin | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ

So as often happens these days, there are three viable fast moves, so I will attempt to briefly highlight some of the big differences between them. Okay, whew… here goes.

  • Wing Attack is one of Charizard’s “best” fast moves, the only move which can reliably outrace Trevenant, Piloswine, and (Snarl) Mandibuzz. Shadow with Wing Attack has the highest number of wins among all Shadow Zards, and while Gliscor is its only truly unique win, it beats everything the other fast moves can except Altered Giratina and sometimes Snorlax.
  • Zard’s other Legacy fast move, Dragon Breath, has a better track record than it did in Great League Holiday Cup, uniquely able to beat Dragonite, Talonflame, Walrein, and Wing Attack Zard itself. However, it takes a bit of a dive with Shadow Zard, uniquely beating Altered Giratina (which is admittedly pretty awesome) but flopping elsewhere, falling short to eight other Pokemon that at least one of the other fast moves can take down.
  • The one viable non-Legacy fast move, Fire Spin, does okay for itself. It does trail the other two with regular Zard, uniquely beating Articuno and matching Wing Attack’s wins versus Galvantula and Mamoswine, and Dragon Breath’s win against Gliscor, but falling short versus several big names. However, Shadow with Fire Spin almost matches Wing Attack’s success, achieving all the same wins except Talonflame and Gliscor, and getting its own unique win over Cradily.

Got all that? Good, because I will not be doing it again. 🥵

TALONFLAME

Talonflame FireFlying

Incinerateᴸ | Flame Charge & Brave Bird

Talonflame achieves success akin to Charizard, though with some caveats. First one is that there are actually several differences, with Talonflame matching wins at least one Zard fast move can get versus Gliscor, Mandibuzz, Piloswine, Snorlax, Walrein, and Trevenant, and achieving its own unique win versus Lapras (though DB Zard can tie Lappie), though unlike Zard, Talonflame falls short versus Dragonite, Galvantula, Mamoswine, Articuno and a couple others. The other BIG caveat is that Charizard requires no XL Candy… while Talonflame has to be fully maxed to hit 2493 CP, and yes, underleveling starts shedding wins. If you already HAVE Talon maxed, bravo, go for it. But if not, just go with Zard for (basically) the same performance, MUCH cheaper, and with some unpredictability to keep the opponent on their toes. That’s MY advice, anyway!

PYROAR

Pyroar FireNormal

Incinerate | Flame Charge & Overheat/Solar Beam/Dark Pulse

Even moreso than Charizard, I think it’s fair to call Pyroar budget Talonflame. It does offer a few advantages by NOT being Flying (wins over Galvantula, Ampharos, and Articuno), but it also cannot match things the Flying Fires can beat like Bewear, Walrein, Obstagoon, Dubwool, Gliscor, Virizion, and Charizard, some of those due to being part Normal and thus weak to Fighting damage. This isn’t a strong recommendation, but it IS a thrifty one!

BEWEAR

Bewear NormalFighting

Shadow Claw | Superpower & Stomp/Payback/Drain Punchᴸ

Honestly, I’m a little iffy on this one, but the numbers certainly portend good things. Of course, that’s the maximum potential, with Drain Punch baits always going well and setting things up for an unblocked Superpower later. And yes, that can and WILL happen sometimes, bringing in win potential versus stuff like Snorlax and Venusaur. But Stomp still seems like the safer route to me, holding down all other wins Drain Punch can get, and offering at least some neutral coverage for things that resist Fighting moves. Or there’s also Payback for closing power, trading away wins versus Obstagoon and Walrein to win against Altered Giratina and the mirror match instead. No wrong answers here.

OBSTAGOON

Obstagoon DarkNormal

Counter | Night Slash & Hyper Beam/Obstructᴸ/Cross Chop

Similar case here… I don’t trust Obstruct all that much. While it CAN do some silly things if the baits go right, like beating Flyers Articuno and Pidgeot, Obstruct is usually just wasted energy if it doesn’t draw a shield or two. For my money, I’d rather have the knockout power of STAB Hyper Beam, which can ALSO do silly things like beating Charizard and Venusaur out of nowhere. And while there’s also a case to be made for Cross Chop, which has demonstrated its usefulness in the Great League version of Holiday Cup time and again, up at this level it just isn’t quite as useful, having no true standout wins on its own. I personally rank them Hyper Beam > Obstruct > Cross Chop, but if Aurorus and the like utterly terrify you, Chop may be the way for your own team, so take this only for what it’s worth! Even with Cross Chop, by the way, Goonie projects as a Top 5 option, and doesn’t require any XLs if you don’t want to.

ALOLAN GOLEM

Golem (Alola) RockElectric

Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge/Wild Charge

While the numbers are very slightly worse with Stone Edge as compared to Wild Charge, I think Edge still gets… well, the edge for me, simply because it’s much more consistent in beating Auroros, and far less riskier overall, showing in several wins where A-Golem with Edge emerges with much more left in the tank than when it self-nerfs with Wild Charge. (Such as versus Galvantula, Alolan Ninetales, and Pidgeot, among others.) That said, Charge CAN more reliably outrace Dubwool and Snorlax, and it’s a fine move overall, despite the risks. If you liked Alolan Graveler in GL Holiday, I’m sure you’ll find some success with A-Golem, whichever charge moves you settle on.

There are some very potent 10k options you may be looking for that we will save and cover at the end, as they require maxing out (like Pidgeot, Dubwool, and the Raichus). I didn’t forget them, they just don’t belong in the above “thrifty” discussion. For now, let’s move to the 50ks.

50,000 Dust/50 Candy

THE SWINES

Piloswine IceGround Mamoswine IceGround

Powder Snow | Avalanche & High Horsepower/Stone Edge/Returnᴸ

Gonna cover these together, even though PILOSWINE is ranked up at #6, and MAMOSWINE is 10 slots lower. But they really perform very, very closely with each other. Piloswine is bulkier (about 20 more HP and a dozen higher Defense than Mamo), and thus better outlasts Trevenant and beats Mamoswine in the head to head. Mamoswine has about 20 more Attack, and thus can overpower Talonflame and Charm Alolan Ninetales, and soundly romps Pidgeot whereas Piloswine really struggles if it gets suckered into shielding Feather Dance. I generally don’t recommend Shadow; for Mamo, it now beats Piloswine but loses Magnezone, Regice, and CharmTales, and for Piloswine, it’s really not any better than a sidegrade, and crazy ridiculous expensive. Piloswine is expensive in general, actually, needing to be leveled into the high 40s, though you have the option of building a hundo to only Level 45 and still getting basically the same performance. That all said… my recommendation is to just run with Mamoswine, which is significantly cheaper, but that call is yours, my friend! Oh, and as for moves, both want Avalanche, and then Mamo runs best with Stone Edge (in large part thanks to its cheaper cost) and Piloswine can run Edge OR High Horsepower or even Return (purified, obviously), with Edge beating Regice, Return beating Ampharos, and Horsepower beating both!

ABOMASNOW

Abomasnow GrassIce

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Blizzard/Energy Ball

Another one that generally needs to be pushed up near 50, but you can instead build a hundo to about Level 45 and really not miss all that much. (The only real difference being that Hundobama cannot quite hang on to beat Alolan Golem. The other differences are between Blizzard (as simmed above) and its ability to win the mirror and beat Galvantula, Snorlax, Virizion, and Pidgeot, as opposed to how Energy Ball instead knocks out Lapras, Walrein, and both Swines.

ALOLAN SANDSLASH

Sandslash (Alola) IceSteel

Shadow Clawᴸ/Powder Snow | Ice Punch & Bulldoze/Blizzard

Here’s some truly good news for you thrifty lovers out there. While “default” Alolan Sandslash checks in all the way up at Level 48, hundo A-Slash reaches ideal Ultra League size at considerably more affordable Level 42, and not only performs just about as well, but is arguably an upgrade, beating everything the Level 48 can plus Mandibuzz. (Well, with Shadow Claw, that is… with Powder Snow, with either “default” IVs or 15-15-15, beats Mandi regardless.) Worth noting that hundo does suffer a couple losses in 2v2 shielding (Galvantula and Magnezone) and with shields down (Cradily), but it remains very close and, again, offers massive savings. For Shadow, however, higher XL A-Slash does pull away a bit from hundo ShadowSlash with unique wins versus Galvantula and Alolan Golem. But whichever variety you can build and however you want to trick it out (Shadow Claw is generally my recommendation to have an edge versus other Ice types, and Bulldoze is my primary closer recommendation but Blizzard can work too), Alolan Sandslash is a top meta option in this format, and CAN be more affordable than Aboma, Piloswine, and many others.

MAGNETON

Magneton ElectricSteel

Thunder Shock | Magnet Bomb & Zap Cannon/Discharge

And yet again, “default” IVs don’t really have anything to boast over (almost) hundo IVs. (A 15-15-15 comes to 2485, so it makes sense to drop the Attack just a tiny bit and get closer to 2500.) TIL you can build an Ultra League ‘Ton without needing XLs at all! Anyway, the advantage to using the Magneboys is rather obvious (resist Ice damage), but the advantages to using Magneton specifically are Thunder Shock (generally a better PvP move than Magnezone’s Spark), and Magnet Bomb dealing legit damage (again, mostly to Ice types) as opposed to the chip damage from Magnezone’s Mirror Shot. In the end, the differences between ‘Ton and ‘Zone are rather minor, but ‘Ton feels like the safer of the two, with easier wins against things like Abomasnow and the Swines.

MAGNEZONE

Magnezone ElectricSteel

Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge

I already kinda talked about it above, but yeah, for all the talking up of Magneton, Magnezone is still just fine, particularly as a Shadow, which can gain wins versus Ferrothorn and the Swines (though it gives up Abomasnow to do it). Compared to Magneton, ‘Zone has an easier time versus Charizard and Talonflame (‘Ton can only beat them at all with Discharge, and not as efficiently as ‘Zone) and uniquely can overcome Dragonite.

HISUIAN AVALUGG

Avalugg (Hisuian) IceRock

Powder Snow | Rock Slide & Blizzard

If you went out on Christmas Eve to raid them and have been wondering if it was worth it, for at least this week, the answer would appear to be yes. This one is pretty easy to explain, as Rock Slide alone does most of the work, with Blizzard tacking on Mamoswine and Ampharos. The Rock subtyping of H-Lugg, normally a curse more than blessing, is actually pretty great here but allowing for easy wins over stuff like Charizard, Talonflame, Regice and others that can be problematic for most other Ice types. It’s no Aurorus (more on that later), but H-Lugg is very serviceable in this meta.

Avalugg Ice

Regular AVALUGG shows those typical Ice disadvantages by losing to Zard, Talon, and Regice, as well as CharmTales that H-Lugg can also beat, but thanks to Earthquake it can overcome Lanturn, and Avalanche shores up wins against Cradily and Venusaur which H-Lugg struggles mightily against.

WALREIN

Walrein IceWater

Powder Snowᴸ | Icicle Spearᴸ & Earthquake

Also coming in hot with Earthquake, Wally is a little diminished in Ultra League these days, but it’s still got some left in the tank. Beating the Swines, Cradily, Ampharos, and even Lanturn are very nice bonuses that come with its standard Ice role. Shadow struggles a bit more in general, though.

Cloyster WaterIce

Just a quick shoutout to fellow Icy Water type CLOYSTER, who isn’t super exciting but is certainly viable spice that many players may not see coming. In some ways, it is this format’s Dewgong with the Ice Shard/Icy Wind combo, and Hydro Pump for the “surprise!” closer.

SHADOW WEAVILE

Weavile (Shadow) DarkIce

Snarl | Avalanche & Focus Blast

Speaking of spice… well, here, I’ll just show you. Naturally resisting Grass, Ice, and Ghost damage will take you so far, but having Avalanche and Focus Blast on top of it, powered up rapidly by Snarl, takes you just to the edge of viability. IVs don’t matter much here, so feel free to play around with whatever one you may have… if you can handle this level of spiciness! 🌶️

ALOLAN NINETALES

Ninetales (Alola) IceFairy

Powder Snow/Charm | Weather Ball (Ice) & Dazzling Gleam/Psyshock

PvPoke recommends Charm, and yeah, CharmTales is by far the best Charmer here (though in fairness, others like Wigglytuff fall away at Ultra League level), doing normal Charm things while also beating down Lapras, Walrein, and Regice thanks to the Ice typing. (CharmTales actually cuts through nearly all of the format’s Ice types, with Aurorus, A-Slash, and H-Lugg being notable exceptions.) But it is Powder Snow that puts on a more impressive overall performance, dropping Lapras and Walrein and Regice, but gaining Mamoswine (it’s a toss-up versus CharmTales), Pidgeot, Trevenant, Venusaur, and Ampharos. A-Tails is very expensive either way though… even a hundo (which does maintain the performances above) has to be pushed to Level 46. 🥶 Yikes.

ROSERADE

Roserade GrassPoison

Bullet Seedᴸ/Poison Jab | Weather Ball (Fire)ᴸ & Leaf Storm

Remember how I had Roserade ranked pretty highly in my December Community Day Weekend Field Guide, especially for Ultra League? Well, here’s an example of why. Rose is the Grass that can burn through stuff like Ferrothorn, CharmTales, Galvantula, Venusaur, Virizion, and Magnezone with relative ease, while also resisting Fighting as Venusaur does (thanks to handy Poison subtyping), while doing many solid Grass things too (beating the Swines and Alolan Golem, for example, when running Legacy CD move Bullet Seed). The Poison Jab variant is viable too, trading away the Swines and A-Golem for Dubwool and Gliscor instead. Rose is glassy and risky, but projects to me as an excellent wild card in this meta, much moreso than in Great League Holiday Cup.

ZANGOOSE

Zangoose Normal

Shadow Claw | Night Slash & Close Combat

And speaking of wild cards, that’s Zangoose in a nutshellShadow Claw for Trevenant, Close Combat for an array of Ice, Rock, Steel, and/or Normal types, and Night Slash for nabbing shields and getting those occasional sweet buffs in the process. Zangoose has got a little of everything you look for in your spice, and there is very little dropoff in rolling with a hundo (basically just Bewear).

GENGAR

Gengar GhostPoison

Shadow Claw | Shadow Punchᴸ & Shadow Ball

The OG Shadow Clawer puts on a very nice show without any XL investment whatsoever. And in fact, if you’re going to run it, you may even want a little more Attack to sneak in a win versus Aurorus too. Gengar is a little bait-reliant here, so the timing of when to try and nab a shield with Shadow Punch or just go for the jugular with Shadow Ball is key. But there’s great potential here as long as you can avoid the Normals, Darks, and randos like Regice, Lapras, Charizard, Ferrothorn, and Magnezone. A nice, cheap generalist has good value.

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

AURORUS

Aurorus RockIce

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Meteor Beam

Showing up at #1 in UL Holiday Cup just as it did in the Great League version, Aurorus’ typing and moves continue to make it a near-perfect fit in this meta. It can tangle with many of the format’s big Grasses, Fires, Ices (even more conistently now with Froslass mostly gone) and of course Dragons and/or Flyers. As a bonus, things like Galvantula and Ampharos (even with Focus Blast!) get trampled beneath its feet too. And NO XL required, which is also great (and increasingly rare) for top-of-the-meta options in Ultra League at all these days.

MILTANK

Miltank Normal

Rollout | Body Slam & Ice Beam

Good news: hundo (or at least nearly hundo) Miltank is mostly better than Level 50 Miltank, losing to Talonflame but gaining Venusaur, Abomasnow, and Mamoswine and a respectable 50% winrate. The bad news: even a near-hundo has to be pushed to Level 45. The savings are significant, but it’s still far from cheap. Sort of like all the “savings” we got with all our Christmas shopping specials, right? Miltank is worth it if you can swing it though, and is the only 75k ‘mon inside the Top 20 (#18) aside from Aurorus itself.

SNORLAX

Snorlax Normal

Lick | Body Slam & Superpower

Heck, even Snorlax is barely inside the Top 30, though I think it deserves a bit better. While Aurorus and Miltank and others can get stymied against Steels and at least somewhat against Rocks, Snorlax has nigh-perfect coverage with Superpower hitting most things that resist Body Slam hard, and of course Ghosts that resist Slam don’t want the steady Licking that Lax puts out. This allows it to beat things like Ferrothorn, Alolan Golem, Magnezone, Regice, Walrein, Bewear, Aurorus, and the Swines that Aurorus and/or Miltank struggle with, though it also means Snorlax loses to stuff like Venusaur and a bunch of Flyers (Talonflame, Charizard, Mandibuzz, Dragonite, Articuno) that the Ice moves of the others overcome.

AMPHAROS

Ampharos Electric

Volt Switch | Focus Blast & Thunder Punch/Brutal Swing

It was okay in the Great League version, but here, Amphy really gets a chance to show what it’s made of. Solid as an Electric, it’s what it can do with Focus Blast that really puts it on the map: wins like Ferrothorn, Cradily, Regice, Alolan Golem, and even Piloswine. I generally recommend non-Shadow, as Shadow Amphy can overpower Dragonite and Galvantula, but also loses Piloswine, A-Golem, and Dubwool.

LAPRAS

Lapras WaterIce

Ice Shardᴸ | Surf & Blizzard/Ice Beamᴸ

Yes, Blizzard has the greatest potential, picking up Talonflame and Dubwool (lacking Wild Charge, at least), though it does need Legacy Ice Beam in instead take down Trevenant. All the while, Surf helps Lappie fend of Aurorus and the Swines.

MR. RIME

Mr. Rime IcePsychic

Confusion/Ice Shard | Icy Wind & Psychic

Just good enough to be viable, with either Confusion to beat Ice-resistant things like Lanturn, Walrein, Regice, and Alolan Ninetales (and Galvantula as a bonus), or Ice Shard to instead chill out Giratina, Dragonite, Pidgeot, Virizion, and Ferrothorn. Rime looks like it could be a hoot to try out here.

LUXRAY

Luxray Electric

Spark | Psychic Fangsᴸ & Wild Charge

The ceiling is quite high, but if all doesn’t go according to plan, the floor is perilously low. Use it if you wish, but tread carefully.

FERROTHORN
Ferrothorn GrassSteel

Bullet Seed | Power Whip & Thunder

It’s come up a lot, and yes, Ferro certainly has a role, just as it has in Great League’s Holiday Cup: a Grass that can handle most Ice types and also stuff like Mandibuzz thanks to Thunder. But it really plays more like a specialist than anything… that role has definite limits, and Ferrothorn is also quite expensive (needing to cross at least past Level 46).

GLISCOR

Gliscor GroundFlying

Wing Attack | Night Slash & Earthquake

One of those rare-in-this-article cases where the Shadow mostly outweighs the non-Shadow, with Shadow uniquely beating Giratina, Lanturn, Cradily, and Snorlax, as opposed to non-Shadow getting only Charizard and Dragonite instead. It’s scary considering it in a meta with so many good Ice types, but Gliscor can do some damage on the right team.

DRAGONITE

Dragonite DragonFlying

Dragon Breath | Dragon Claw & Superpower

A true generalist option, and a good one. Ice is obviously the big threat, but even they have to be wary of Superpower these days. Shadow works too, outslugging Gliscor and Pidgeot, though I lean towards non-Shadow and its wins versus A-Giratina, Charizard, and Ampharos. Either way, just to drive the point home… avoid Ice! 🥶

CHANDELURE

Chandelure GhostFire

Incinerate | Shadow Ball & Flame Charge

Flimsy enough that it can rather easily be extinguished by many things, but Chandie can flat out roll over many Ice and/or Grass types, and it takes Talonflame, Galvantula, and Ampharos along for the ride. Viable enough if you just really love it. 🔥

TREVENANT

Trevenant GhostGrass

Shadow Claw | Seed Bomb & Shadow Ball

And to close out the 75ks, we have Trevor, who CAN be built with XLs but is arguably better at Level 40, as it beats all the same things AND wins the mirror match. It terrorizes other Grasses (with only Abomasnow really giving it major issue) and most Waters and Rocks and Grounds and other Ghosts too (beating Giratina straight up, for one thing), and as a Grass it also blunts Electric opponents too. It doesn’t have numbers that scream “must use”, but Trevor will surely be a major part of this meta.

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

Alright, switching over to rapid fire mode for the rest. Don’t mistake these bulleted forms to mean the below are not good, as they most certainly ARE in many cases. But these are decidedly no longer “thrifty”, especially as we eventually get to the maxed out stuff at the end. Here we go!

Giratina (Altered) GhostDragon
  • ALTERED GIRATINA is ranked #2, and it’s not difficult to see why. Short of a very steady dose of Ice, Dragon, or Ghost damage, there’s practically nothing that can stand in its way… even most Normals that terrify other Ghosts cannot stand up to Giratina’s Dragon damage output. Get ready! Giratina will likely be everywhere in this meta.
Regice Ice
  • With the underrated REGICE, it’s not so much Legacy Thunder you want, but rather Focus Blast (useful for sniping Aurorus, Walrein, and opposing Regice) or Earthquake (better for taking Ferrothorn and Lanturn). You may be surprised to learn that it ranks right behind Giratina, sitting at #3… and that’s with Thunder wasting a charge move slot, too!
Kyurem DragonIce
  • And just behind Regice at #5 in the rankings comes new and MUCH improved KYUREM. Pre-Glaciate, it couldn’t overcome Charizard, Talonflame, Gliscor, Snorlax, Cradily, Ferrothorn, Pidgeot, Trevenant, or Abomasnow, but now it can take them all down. Hope you got at least one or two good ones while you could… now’s the time to see what it can do!
Virizion GrassFighting
  • VIRIZION brings a rare, actual Fighting type into the meta, and yes, it’s very, very good, slashing through the Normals, Steels, Rocks, and Darks as you’d expect, as well as most of the key Ice types (Aurorus, Walrein, Lapras, Regice, Aboma, and the Swines), and even Ampharos, Lanturn, Galvantula and others. Verizon is a sneaky good choice here, folks!
Moltres FireFlying
  • Another sneaky good Legendary you probably haven’t thought of? SHADOW MOLTRES. Keep in mind that it too benefits now from the buff to Wing AttackGALARIAN MOLTRES not quite so much.
Celesteela SteelFlying
  • CELESTEELA makes good use of Smack Down in this meta. It was more spicy than anything in Great League Holiday Cup. Here I think it could be more than that, bashing Ices and Flyers and Dragons and even Fires alike while also still getting key Grasses (as a good Flyer should do) like Aboma, Trevenant, and Venusaur. If you have only one for Great League from Ultra Beast Arrival weekend, keep it there. But if you have one for Ultra, this is a GREAT time to make use of it.
Articuno IceFlying
  • Despite being threatened by Electrics, Fires, and even other Ice types, ARTICUNO finds a way to contribute anyway. Obviously it wrecks Dragons and Grasses and most other Flying types (Charizard and Talonflame give you your use case for Ancient Power, as Artie doesn’t beat them otherwise), but extra wins include (non-Wild Charge) Dubwool, Bewear, Snorlax, and Obstagoon. Articuno’s downsides are somewhat obvious, but it has a LOT of upside here too.

FEELIN’ LUCKY?

And finally, the stuff that simply HAS to be maxed out (or very nearly so) to use here. These are all quite good, but the cost may simply be prohibitive to many players:

Dubwool Normal
  • DUBWOOL is awesome in this meta, and with multiple viable movesets. The grind for it, though? Not so awesome, seeing as how it’s impossible to find anymore and HAS to be pushed to 50, since even a hundo hits only 2478 CP at that point. At least its second move costs only 10,000 dust?
Pidgeot NormalFlying
  • PIDGEOT remains potent here (while Noctowl just can’t keep up at this level), and thankfully also has a cheap second move cost and is far easier to grind XLs for than Dubwool. But it too must be pushed all the way to 50, barely cresting 2400 CP when it does so.
Altaria DragonFlying
  • ALTARIA doesn’t even reach 2300 CP, but yes, it’s sneaky good here if you have the means to push one that high. I know some people who have UL Altarias built already!
Raichu Electric
  • A personal project of mine is building an Ultra League RAICHU. I’m not there yet, but perhaps you are!
Togedemaru ElectricSteel Galvantula BugElectric
  • You don’t need me to lay out the finer points of GALVANTULA in Ultra League, but just a reminder that it too has to hit Level 50, sitting at a pretty 2494 CP once you get there.
Lanturn WaterElectric
  • LANTURN is just as scary here as it was in Great League Holiday Cup. But uh… MUCH more expensive as another Level 50 project (to max out at 2357 CP). If you’ve got one already, bravo! You can get opponents to throw their phones for another week!
Cradily RockGrass
  • Were you one of those players that managed to build a Level 50 CRADILY for last season’s Weather Cup? If so, first off, I hate you (not really 😘… but yes, really), and second off, sure, you can use it here.
Mandibuzz DarkFlying
  • So I won’t say it’s awesome here or anything, but I know many players have already invested in a Level 50 MANDIBUZZ, and yes, it’s viable here. Your regular old moveset may not cut it, though. Play around and don’t be surprised to see something funky like Air Slash and both Dark charge moves end up your best bet, or even to have Shadow Ball somewhere in the mix.
Skarmory SteelFlying
  • SKARMORY a worse Celesteela here? Say it ain’t so! That’s oversimplifying it, but not TOO far off base. Having all-Flying moves is a bit of a liability in Holiday Cup. Heck, this may be the time to mix in some Steel. That’s better!
Vigoroth Normal
  • VIGOROTH was obviously everywhere in GL Holiday Cup. And while you may think it can’t hurt you anymore as we leave Great League behind, well… think again. Monkey see, monkey SMASH.

Whew, we’re done! And before the format arrives this time! Hope this is a help, and best of luck in this funky format, folks.

Until next time (likely Fusion Flare Reshiram!), 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, especially those of you who took the time to read it ALL! I sincerely hope this helps you master the Ultra Edition of Holiday Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time… and Happy Holidays, Pokéfriends!

(Artwork by Gio™, modified by JRE.)

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