Hello again, fellow PvPers, and welcome back to Core Meltdown!
Last year, when we didn’t have a new meta every single WEEK, I got ambitious and launched a new series called “Core Meltdown” where I attempted to dive into recommended cores for each new meta. Honestly, as metas become one-week formats and so many other news items were being chucked at my head each week to analyze, it got to be too much, and I had to silently abandon the series. (I hope to bring it back more fully one day, but time just isn’t there as frequently as things shift these days, I am afraid.) Anyway, for at least one format, it seemed more appropriate to revisit this than to flesh out a whole “Nifty Or Thrifty” meta overview as I typically do.
What is a “core”, you ask? Simply a group of Pokémon that work well together on a team, often covering each other’s weaknesses and responding well to the bigger threats in a particular meta. Sometimes a core will be defined as three (or even more, in the case of “show six, play three” formats like The Silph Arena) Pokémon that synergize together, but usually we’re talking core duos.
That said… there will be little that is “usual” about this particular article. Because we’re talking about Little Cup… or as it’s more unaffectionately known: BRONZOR Cup.
So I’m actually going to mostly skip over discussion on cores and focus on the most critical role of any team you build: something that can crush opposing Bronzor. Typically I spent the last section of Core Meltdowns focusing on corebreakers… things that can bust up core duos or even trios. But today, that’s going to basically BE this article.
I’ll be honest: it was a little difficult to motivate myself to dust this off and crank this analysis out, because honestly, Bronzor Cup brings on some PTSD for those of us who have ventured into it before. But that is precisely why I DID force myself to finish this, so that you, dear reader, have a little more knowledge and ammunition going into this format, hopefully making it at least a little less traumatic. After all, our only alternative this week is Open Master League, which for many can be even more daunting.
So my apologies if parts of this seem a little drab or hurried. I did my best, and I really hope it’s a help to you. Here we go!
Out of the 400ish Pokémon eligible in Little Cup, there are only around 25-35 that beat Bronzor across even shield scenarios. (“Even shield” meaning both Pokémon in combat using the same number of shields: 0, 1, or 2.) And over two thirds of them are hard-countering Dark types. Yeah… there’s a reason Bronzor is so hated in this format. With its Steel/Psychic typing (resists Dragon, Fairy, Flying, Grass, Ice, Normal, Rock, Steel, and double resists Psychic and Poison), stupid high bulk (right on the same level as Chansey), and annoying coverage move Payback, Bronzor is a pain the back of the lap to deal with. It’s left weak to only Dark, Ghost, Fire, and Ground, and its Confusion damage and variety of charge moves typically deal lethal damage to all of those except for Psychic-resistant Darks before they can finish Bronzor off. Even Fire and Ghost types that normally tear into Steel and Psychic types are shaky when facing down “Zoro” (as I’ve taken to calling it), often succumbing to its neutral damage before their own super effective damage can tear Bronzor down.
So, what CAN beat Bronzor in even shield scenarios?Bronzor PsychicSteel
- Naturally, BRONZOR can beat itself. More specifically, if you happen to have a #1 IV Bronzor (0-14-15, all the way up at Level 49.5), you’ll beat most other Bronzors out there. It doesn’t matter that you lose CMP to those Bronzors… you simply outlast them anyway. Easy peezy, Bronzor squeezy. However, be aware that this is not consistent across all shielding scenarios… CMP does matter outside of 1v1 shielding. It’s also not foolproof, as a Bronzor with relatively high Attack can turn the tables, the results being so close that even just dealing 1 additional damage with each Payback can flip a win into a loss in a flash.
- On that note, there is wisdom in bringing a NON-XL Zoro to battle in this meta. In sort of an inverse from the high rank (low Attack) version, you will now sometimes lose with shields down to higher bulk mirrors, but you more reliably win in 1shield and 2shield matchups.
- Yes, yes, I know… a third bullet point for Bronzor?! But as many comments have pointed out, I would be remiss to not mention another variant of Bronzor itself as a Bronzor counter: those utilizing not Confusion, but Tackle. As a Normal move, it is of course resisted by Steely Zoro, but then again, Confusion is double resisted thanks to the combination of Steel AND Psychic typings, so while each Tackle usually ends up dealing only 1 damage to enemy Bronzor, you can fit four of them into the same timeframe as a single Confusion (Tackle has a cooldown of one PvP turn/half a real-time second, while Confusion lasts 4 turns/2 seconds), and Confusion itself usually deals only 2 damage, so Tackle deals literally twice the fast move damage to opposing Bronzors as Confusion does. And it is also NOT resisted by enemy Dark and Psychic types like Confusion is… and in fact the only things that DO resist Tackle are rarely-seen-in-this-meta Ghosts. So not only does Tackle Bronzor beat Confusion Bronzor in all even shield scenarios, but it can even beat some normally troublesome Darks like Deino in even shield scenarios as well! It remains highly competitive overall with Tackle, getting stronger against Darks, as I said, though it does lose ground on some Fires and Grounds, the few relevant Ghosts (actually showing some losses now versus Drifloon, for example), and most disappointingly, Lick Seel… cases where Confusion deals superior damage. But Tackle Bronzor is some nice secret tech that likely won’t stay secret for long. And in fact, that time may have already passed!
- One of the more reliable Bronzor counters that happens to also be quite good in the meta in general is DEINO. As with other Darks, Deino blunts Bronzor’s Psychic-type damage and Payback, leaving only Heavy Slam as a neutral damage dealer. And even though Deino’s Dragon Breath AND Body Slam are resisted by Bronzor, its Crunch connects for big, super efffective damage, and that makes the difference. It can even throw out ONLY Crunch and still win across other shielding scenarios. Do be cautious, though… it’s quite easy for Bronzor to get to a bulkpoint that it halves the damage output of Deino’s Dragon Breath (from 2 each to just 1 damage each). Against a #1 IV Deino (with Deino having about 67 Attack), that bulkpoint is just under 132 Defense for Bronzor, which will usually mean a non-XL Bronzor. For a more run-of-the-mill, “average” Deino (less bulk but somewhere around 69 Attack for Deino), that bulkpoint is instead in the range of 135 Defense, which is XL Bronzor but not TOO high above Level 40. Deino will USUALLY still win anyway, it will just require closing with a second Crunch instead of a cheaper Body Slam. Deino is pretty safe across all even shield scenarios… but safer if it has a little bit of Attack going for it, just to make sure it doesn’t have its fast move damage cut literally in half.
- SEEL, specifically with Lick, is a very versatile Pokémon that also happens to handle Bronzor well in 1v1 (though that one does require some Icy Wind debuffing to reliably pull off) and 2v2 shielding… and can even sneak away with a win in 1v2 shielding if Bronzor isn’t running Psyshock. That said, it NEEDS at least one shield, as Bronzor overpowers it otherwise (though MAN, Seel can still make it VERY close). Overall, this is by far one of the better ways to handle Bronzor AND clobber much of the rest of the meta too. Highly recommend!
- ALOLAN DIGLETT is more of a direct Bronzor counter, as it does merely okay versus the core meta (though it CAN at least take down Deino and a couple of other Bronzor counters). And it cannot beat Bronzor with shields down anymore now that Bronzor has Payback. (In the past, without Payback, A-Dig won that too.) But as long as it has a shield to throw at Payback, A-Diglett DOES still handle Bronzor, rather easily in 1v1 shielding and with a little bulk, 2v2 as well, even against #1 IV Bronzor. That said, as with Deino, IVs CAN wreck the party, as #1 IV Bronzor can outlast A-Dig in 1v1 shielding. Always annoying caveats with Bronzor. 😕
- SHADOW CUBONE can take out even #1 IV Bronzor in 1v1 (with good IVs itself) and 2v2 shielding thanks to having Bone Club (which is all it needs in 2v2 shielding) and Bulldoze (to close it out in 1v1 shielding). Similar to A-Dig, Shadow Cubone HAS to have good IVs to perform even decently against the rest of the meta, though; with merely average IVs it becomes a specialist that can only take out things weak to Ground. (High stat product IVs add on things like Jangmo-O and Wooper and becomes more reliable versus Bronzor across various Bronzor IV spreads.)
- ALOLAN GRIMER is pretty reliable and grinding down Bronzor… specifically with Bite. In that fashion, it can beat even #1 IV Bronzor in 2v2 shielding and with shields down… just NOT 1v1 shielding. At least, not against Bronzor running a Steel coverage move… it CAN beat Bronzor with Psyshock/Payback, which may end up the most popular variant this time around. (Do note that this can drop to a tie depending on how high rank the Bronzor is.) A-Grime is also decent against the core meta with Bite. Poison Jab would be better versus the meta and is certainly still viable, though it can no longer reliably beat Bronzor that way. Decisions, decisions. Perhaps I can make it all easier by recommending you just run the new Shadow Alolan Grimer if you’ve been lucky enough to find one; it loses Wynaut and Pawniard, but now much more consistently beats Bronzor in ALL shielding scenarios (even the 0v2!), and gains wins versus Vulpix, A-Vulpix, Amaura, Shadow Stunky, and Jangmo-O as well. Shadow Alolan Grimer is suddenly very interesting in this meta, folks!
Zigzagoon (Galarian) DarkNormal
- Also interesting is GALARIAN ZIGZAGOON, which is able to beat Bronzor in all even shield scenarios… as long as Bronzor doesn’t have a Steel move, at least. Zoro with Heavy Slam can make things MUCH more interesting and flips 0shield to a Ziggy loss… but with good IVs, it can still hang on in 1v1 and 2v2 shielding, despite dealing NO Dark damage and mostly resisted Normal damage instead… Dig is eventually enough to turn the tide. And G-Ziggy performs very well in general here. The catch? That’s a Level 50 Pokémon, folks. You CAN build a near-hundo without needing any XL candy at all, and while it loses a little of its luster overall, it’s still viable, and still handles Steel-less Bronzor and (inconsistently) Heavy Slam versions too. I think it’s worth building now with the recent-ish buffs to Tackle that it didn’t enjoy last time through Little Cup.
- HOUNDOUR does not perform very well against the meta, but has the unique distinction of resisting ALL of Bronzor’s moves, and is perhaps THE most reliable, consistent Bronzor counter across all even shield scenarios, regardless of Bronzor’s IVs. Shieldless, 1v1, 2v2.) Houndour can even win with a shield disadvantage by winning the 0v1 shield. If you absolutely must kill Bronzor dead, then aside from the new Shadow A-Grime, this is probably the best way to do it. Just don’t ask Houndour to do too much else for you beyond that.
- Also very consistent across various shielding scenarios is VULLABY. It takes out even #1 IV Bronzor in all even shield scenarios (0v0, 1v1, 2v2) and even 0 vs 2 shields!. (As long as it’s running Feint Attack instead of Air Slash, at least.) The catch? You can only sneak it under 500 CP by getting a Level 15 one from LONG-past Research Breakthrough rewards (I think it was November of 2020?), and then have to trade it, as a Research-minimum 10-10-10 at Level 15 is still too big (as are obviously any Level 20 Vullaby acquired otherwise). The trade doesn’t have to be crazy… even something like an 8-10-10 fits, and that’s very easy to achieve via trading. Good luck! (EDIT: Several readers reminded me that Vullaby is also a rare spawn from Daily Adventure Incense, so there’s a current method to also try your luck at, perhaps!)
- Not QUITE as good — but much easier to acquire — is fellow Dark Bird MURKROW. It whiffs in the 0 shield (though CAN beat Zoro without a Steel move), but takes the 1v1 and 2v2 without much trouble, though being nowhere near as bulky as Vullaby, it relies a bit on baiting a shield or two with Drill Peck along the way. (I mean, it CAN win with just Foul Play, but it gets a bit dicier.) The other problem? Unlike Vullaby, which is a full-on meta pick, Murkrow is more just a spice pick, doing very little beyond just countering Psychics like Bronzor.
- POOCHYENA at least contributes a little more overall than Murkrow, while still getting to Bronzor in the end across all even shield matchups (0v0, 1v1, 2v2), needing only Snarl and Crunch to do it, too. ALSO neat: Poochy can win the 0v1 and 1v2 shield as well! That said, you definitely still want Poison Fang on it to aid in wins over stuff like Nidoran and Wooper… and soften up a lot of other things even in losing matchups. In this format, losing the battle but contributing to the overall war by hobbling the opponent on the way out is still a victory.
- PURRLOIN is similarly efficient in its dominance over Bronzor, winning the 0v1 and 1v2 shield, not to mention all even shield matchups. And it’s also more impactful across the core meta. It’s low in this article, but high in viability as one of the best Darks in Little Cup overall.
- Here’s a fun one you may not have considered: SCRAGGY. It has to be in the lower teens in level to fit, but it’s been in the wild a few times so that’s realistically possible this time through Little Cup. And with Acid Spray, it is capable of beating Bronzor in 1v1 shielding, and it wins in much more straightforward fashion in 0v0 and 2v2 shielding. It has a small but notable role versus the rest of the meta as well, knocking out a couple of Bronzor’s other troublesome counters. Fun little spice option here.
- It’s a tough trade to pull off, but yes, a hatch-level SANDILE can squeeze under 500 CP, and does alright with itself in the meta. But what it does especially well is slaughter Bronzor, at least in all even shield scenarios.
- Of course, one way to beat Bronzor is to just roast it with Fire. Your best options would appear to be VULPIX, which can’t quite win with shields down (unless it has top flight IVs!), but DOES win 1v1 and 2v2 shielding running away. GROWLITHE also beats Bronzor in 1v1 shielding (Shadow too), though it does get uncomfortably close. Regular Growlithe has more breathing room in 1v1 shielding, but just cannot finish off Bronzor before it reaches Payback with shields down. Both Growlithe and Vulpix are pretty solid against the entire meta, too. And while other Fires like Tepig and Litleo and Litwick can sometimes take out Bronzor as well, they are inconsistent at best, especially in 0-shield and 2v2 shielding. That Confusion damage is just too much (and Psyshock or especially Payback in shieldless matchups).
- And then about the only things left are high damage glassy Darks. SHADOW STUNKY simply has to have a shield to throw up, and it can just Bite Bronzor to death and pocket enough energy for one and a half Crunches to throw afterwards. (And it can chew through a chunk of the meta too.) CARVANHA can also Bite a bunch of stuff. It’s far too flimsy to outrace Bronzor with shields down, but wails on it with ever-increasing power (thanks to Poison Fang) in 1v1 and 2v2 shielding. The best part about these two is that Bronzor can even be sitting behind two shields and it just doesn’t matter… fast moves will do it in eventually.
GOT ANY OF THEM CORES?
As this series used to be about Cores, after all, I want to wrap up with a handful to consider, based on feedback from GO Battle Log. I’m just going to list them and recommend you check out GO Battle Log and PvPoke’s Team Builder for Little Cup to round them out with a third.
Here we go: cores using at least one of the above, in no particular order:
- Seel & Deino (only clear weakness is Shelmet)
- Seel & Cottonee (Shelmet again and sometimes Ducklett)
- Cottonee & Vulpix (watch for Ducklett again, and now Seel)
- Deino & Shelmet (Spritzee, Onix, and Vulpix)
- Cottonee & Shadow Stunky (Seel, Ducklett, and Onix)
- Galarian Zigzagoon & Ducklett (wide overall coverage, just watch out for Deino)
That’s just a handful to get you started, but I highly recommend checking GO Battle Log every day or two for ideas, as they keep track aa the meta shapes and reshapes throughout the week. And of course, see what ideas YOU can come up with! (And how many of them end up with Bronzor itself as your third. 😈)
Thanks as always to my friends PvPoke for their awesome resources, and to GO Battle Log, and thanks to YOU for reading. I hope this helps you handle the menace known as Bronzor!
As for better understanding of the entire meta, I refer you to my massive meta and budget review of Little Cup, “Nifty Or Thrifty”. That was pushed out last year, and the meta HAS changed a little bit since then, but that should still give you a good overall idea of what to expect. (And I still hope to tweak/update that a bit over the next day or so.)
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with regular PvP analysis nuggets, or on Patreon.
Best of luck in Little Cup, or whatever format you find yourself in this week. Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends, and catch you next time. Try to have fun!