Good day, Pokémon Trainers! GO Battle League Season 16 has brought about quite a substantial update to Pokémon GO’s PvP roster. Not only did we get a whole new region of Pokémon to collect and test out in battle, but we also got a huge move update as well. And there has been no shortage of speculations and analyses of how these changes will shake up the meta. Many are testing out some previously ignored Pokémon or strategies to see who are the biggest winners and losers of the new season.
But perhaps one of the best indicators of what actually does and doesn’t work in the current meta is the official Play! Pokémon Pokémon GO tournament circuit. Where Trainers from around the world compete for the eventual title of World Champion. As such the stakes are high and trainers are incentivized to quickly get a sense of the best strategies each season.
With that being said the 2024 season of this official tournament format is already underway with the Pittsburgh regional. And I thought it’d be interesting to see the early trends in the tournament season in hopes of getting an idea of what the future of GO Battle League and Pokémon GO PvP, in general, might look like.
Changes to the meta don’t mean every Pokémon that was once meta can now be thrown under the metaphoric bus. Here are some Pokémon that right now feel like their place in the meta hasn’t changed much despite the updates:
Surprising no one, Medicham is still here to stay. The measly 5 Power nerf to Psychic does very little to diminish Medicham’s potential. In fact, with prominenttypes such as Noctowl and Altaria out of the picture, Medicham’s potential seems higher than ever.
This was reflected in the Pittsburgh tournament, as Medicham saw 72% usage throughout both days. Though arguably, Medicham’s victories aren’t as clean as they once were. It is still a powerhouse of a Pokémon. None of what makes it great has changed. It is still bulky, has a useful typing and, a fantastic moveset. But while some of its biggest counters are gone, a lot of Pokémon have taken their place that Medi has a hard time cleanly knocking down. And it should be noted that the winner of the tournament Wdage didn’t bring a Medicham, opting to use Deoxys (Defense Forme) instead.
Again, I want to iterate that Medicham is still a fantastic Pokémon that I imagine will continue to be a constant presence in PvP. What I want to focus on is that threats to Medicham are still around, for example:
Now I know what you may be thinking, “Really? Lickitung? A counter for Medicham? Has Priom finally lost it?”
But no, I’m actually being honest with this. While yes, as a Normal type, Lickitung is weak to Medicham’s counter. But Medicham is weak to Lickitung’s Lick as well. So Licki can actually beat Medi in both the two shields and zero-shield scenarios. And can even beat Medicham in the one shield scenario with an 8-lick advantage. However, the victory does leave the winning Pokémon with very little HP in the tank regardless of the winner.
Hence I feel inclined to call Lickitung a Medicham counter. And the stats do seem to agree. Lickitung already made its triumphant return near the tail-end of the 2023 tournament season after Medicham’s prior top counter, Trevenant, left the field. And with Noctowl gone now, Licki feels pretty safe to continue being a mainstay in PvP. There was a 44% Lickitung usage in the Pittsburgh regional tournament.
Here we have another Pokémon that refuses to let go of its claim on the meta throne. The nerf to the energy generation of Spark, Lanturn’s fast attack of choice is more substantial than Medicham’s nerf to Psychic. Despite this, it isn’t a pure nerf as Spark got a 2-point damage increase to go along with it. And Lanturn already had an alternative move of choice in the form of Water Gun, which might see more popularity as the tournament season continues.
So overall, despite Lanturn’s nerf being more substantial it is still hanging around with a 42% usage in Pittsburgh. Both the 2nd and 3rd place finishers had a Lanturn in their roster.
There hasn’t been any particular shakeup to Swampert’s kit on the latest season update. It was a solid WaterGround before, and it still is. However, what I want to bring attention to is that the regular variant of Swampert is just as much worth your consideration as its shadow variant is.
Regular Swampert already worked pretty well for ChiodoSH01 during the 2023 World Championship. With its fall from grace coming at the hands (or talons I suppose) of Noctowl, where that added Shadow damage would’ve really helped. And with Noctowl gone, Swampert doesn’t have to worry about that matchup anymore. Once again, the Pittsburgh tournament winner Wdage brought a regular Swampert to fill out his roster as well. So it’s something to consider if you haven’t found a good Shadow Mudkip.
From what I saw at the Pittsburgh regional stream I believe these have the potential to be the new permanent fixtures of the official tournament meta:
I think the writing was on the wall with this one. While Sableye was the bulky Dark type safe swap of choice during the 2023 World Championships, there were definitely more Umbreons going around on Day 2 of the tournament. And with the first regional of 2024, Umbreon is everywhere whereas Sableye is nowhere to be seen.
There could be quite a few reasons for this change in preference. I personally believe the biggest contributor is the return of Lickitung as another preferred safe swap. Umbreon has a much better time with Lickitung than Sableye does. As Sableye’s Shadow Claw is resisted by Licki. Add in the fact that Umbreon is a lot less costly to build for the Great League format than Sableye is, and I think we have a deal-maker.
We now arrive at a completely new face to the meta that I believe will be hanging around for a while. With both Noctowl and Altaria out of the picture, Pokémon GO needed a new face for the leadtype for PvP. And it seems Gligar is here to seemingly take that role. Where Noctowl and Altaria got a nerf with their preferred charge attack of Sky Attack. Gligar over here got a double buff in both Aerial Ace and Dig costing less.
It seems even top trainers are still trying to figure out how to use Gligar though. Flying type mons already didn’t appreciate Medicham’s Ice Punch, and Gligar reaaally doesn’t appreciate it thanks to its part Ground typing. So there is the matter of when and where to spend shields on Gligar, along with whether or not Shadow or Non-Shadow is preferred. Only time will tell in which position Gligar really ends up I suppose.
Despite the fact that we’re in the early days of the new tournament season these Pokémon still feel like they are interesting spice picks at best. Nevertheless, their performances are still noteworthy:
Honestly, HotPoket777’s entire Pittsburgh team is worth a mention here. Not only did he bring an unconventional team, but he also managed to get third place as well. It just goes to show that making conscious decisions regarding which Pokémon complement each other the best on your team is more important than bringing the most meta Pokémon.
However, if I had to pick a single stand-out spice pick from HotPoket777’s already spicy roster, it has to be Serperior. While the mono-Grass starter from Unova was always a decent Pokémon thanks to its impressive bulk, I don’t think anybody expected it to be this impressive. HotPoket777’s Serperior I’d argue was vital to success, as access to the newly buffed Aerial Ace gave the snake king quite a lot of play on the field. So much so that HotPoket777 felt comfortable sacking the shield-hungry Shadow Charizard in favor of keeping his Serperior healthy on the field a few times.
There’s something about the Dratini family that makes them special. Last season TontonBatteuse wow’d the European Internationals stage with his Dragonair. And now Wdage is out here getting the first on-stream tournament win of the season with a Dragonite.
Now, does that mean Dragonite is the new replacement for the now nerfed Altaria as a fellow Dragon Pokémon? I personally don’t think so. While they do share the typing, Dragonite only benefits as a type defensively, as it doesn’t typically want to run any flying-type moves. And even then, the type does make Dragonite even worse against Registeel than Dragon types already were. As Registeel’s Zap Cannon is now going to do neutral damage, as opposed to being resisted by Dragonite.
Nevertheless, Dragonite was never a bad Pokémon for the Great League despite its main home being the Master League. And it definitely worked out well for Wdage, helping him win the Pittsburgh Regional.
There were some Pokémon that had quite a lot of hype going into the new season but didn’t make much of an appearance at Pittsburgh. I’m going to briefly speculate why that may be:
A lot of people probably saw this coming. While Steelix’s new move Breaking Swipe makes it devastating both in the Great League and Ultra League within the GBL format. In the official tournament format where opponents can look at your team and make arrangements, Steelix has a hard time running non-STAB Dragon type moves. Especially against the much more preferred fellow Steel type Registeel.
Carbink had a lot of hype surrounding it but was nowhere to be seen in Pittsburgh. The two reasons I can think of are that it has so far only been available in limited quantities and is pretty hard to build. Along with the fact that much like the similar Bastiodon, its a bit inflexible and can get stuck in a bad situation. Nevertheless, I think its lack of appearance is more so for the former reason and we’ll see more Carbink down the line.
We did see a few Mandibuzz at Pittsburgh. But its place wasn’t particularly noteworthy. This might be due to a similar reason as Carbink, as it is decently difficult to get a good Mandibuzz for the Great League format that official tournaments run on. Plus Mandi is a bit different from the othertypes. Almost working closer to something like Umbreon, with Snarl as its preferred fast attack.
While access to mud shot makes this Pokémon fantastic as one of the spammiest Pokémon in the game. I believe Lickitung will continue to be the Normal type of choice so long as Medicham is around. As no other Normal type can really go toe-to-toe with it.
Galarian Stunfisk outfavored Registeel during the 2023 World Championships as the preferred Steel type. Yet was nowhere to be seen in Pittsburgh while Registeel was still hanging around. This is due to the 10-point decrease in Earthquake‘s damage output in the recent update. Which makes certain matchups a lot less comfortable for Stunfisk. Though I personally believe Galarian Stunfisk’s nerf is a bit overstated. It is still a fantastic Pokémon, Earthquake is still a very strong move, and it can still beat Registeel, just a bit less comfortably. So I imagine G.fisks will return in the future, at least in limited quantities.
And there you have it. Admittedly, a lot is still on the wall regarding what will and won’t be mainstays in both the current tournament and GBL seasons. If I hopefully manage to finish this on time, the Barcelona Regionals should be starting soon. I am definitely excited to see how the European trainers handle the new meta. As the 2024 tournament season continues and the permanent fixtures of the season are solidified, I might need to take a brand new look at what’s working and what isn’t. But as always:
Goodbye for now, Pokémon trainers. Priom-out!