Fossil Cup PvP Analysis – Pokémon GO Nifty or Thrifty

The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: Fossil Cup, in this case. (And remember, your only alternative this week will be OPEN Master League. 😱) 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 less powering up.

As per usual, we’ll start with Pokémon with the cheapest second move unlock cost and steam ahead until we finally arrive at the most expensive (Legendaries and some high XL options). I will also only be highlighting Shadow versions when they’re particularly relevant… many are worse, and that’s what you can generally infer if I don’t talk about them.

First, a VERY brief summary of the meta:


  • Ironically for the “Fossil” Cup, the vast majority of actual Fossil Pokémon (and Rock types in general) are hated out of this meta due to the many Steels and Waters that smash them.
  • This is generally a Water-heavy meta, and thus the very few Grasses that sneak in are VERY potent corebreakers. They’re all highlighted within the article.
  • Fighters and Grounds do quite well as well with their effectiveness versus Steels and Rocks.
  • While PvPoke normally does an awesome job with their rankings, they are all over the place in this meta, mostly because (I think) the many Rocks here that never do much artificially inflate the rankings for some Steels, and even Waters, that handle a lot of ultimately irrelevant Pokémon, and really aren’t nearly as good as their ranking. Tread cautiously!

10,000 Dust/25 Candy


Swampert WaterGround

Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake

This is just the kind of meta where the infamous Mud Boys shoot to the top, with obvious advantages over the format’s many Steels and Rocks, and paths to victory over even most opposing Water types. Just look at the dominance of Swampert in particular. 👀 Even slightly more impressive is Shadow Swampert, not just in terms of more wins, but the quality of those wins, with names like Rainy Castform, Quagsire, Tapu Fini, Barbaracle, Sealeo, Blastoise, and most impressively of all, Shadow Cradily and Ferrothorn (and Shadow Lileep for good measure). Pretty impressive to be beating Grass-types like that (and the very few Grasses here are a BIG deal here, as we’ll see later) without dealing ANY super effective damage. By contrast, while non-Shadow Swampie is fine, it instead has unique wins versus things like Shadow Poliwrath, Samurott, Shadow Kingdra, Kingler, Seismitoad, and Greninja… things that are likely to be far less prevalent in the meta. That said, there IS one other important distinction: different wins against different variations of the same opponent. Shadow Swampert beats Walrein, Shadow Lapras, and Ice Beam Azumarill, while non-Shadow Swampert instead beats Shadow Walrein, non-Shadow Lapras, and Play Rough Azu. Just some little tricks to keep in mind so you know when to potentially swap out or not. Good luck!


Whiscash WaterGround

Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Blizzard

Unfortunately, this is a definite step down from Swampert. Don’t get me wrong; Cash can still be VERY oppressive… there are few Pokemon that things like Bastiodon and Registeel and Galarian Stunfisk want to see less than Whiscash. But beyond its dominance over Steels like them and others like Mawile and Lucario, and a bonus win over Jellicent and Quagsire, Whiscash actually kind of struggles here. You can get a little tricky and run unconventional Water Gun, swapping Lucario for a surprise win over Escavalier instead, but even that doesn’t really elevate its stock. Cash is very popular and will show likely up plenty, but it’s not overly difficult to handle in this meta.

Whiscash Featured Image


Marshtomp WaterGround

MARSHTOMP is ranked highly (particularly the Shadow version), but I’m just not seeing it in the numbers. Just stick with the more established Mud Boys.


Prinplup Water

Bubble | Icy Wind & Hydro Pump

Speaking of second-string pre-evolution starters though, Prinplup remains very underrated. It lacks Empoleon’s Steel typing, which is often a strike against it but actually is a very GOOD thing here, as Empie just can’t keep up, its big win over Cradily being the only thing that stands out. Prinplup is just better, walloping the Mud Boys, G-Fisk, Skarm, Bastie, Mawile and more, including even the mighty Azumarill (with Ice Beam) in a battle of all-resisted damage. As you’ll see later, Prinplup holds its own as compared to Azu in overall record too. This is no mere spice pick… Prinplup is legit in Fossil Cup, folks.


Blastoise Water

Water Gun | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Skull Bash

Ice Beam won’t do much for you here, but Skull Bash at least can manage to undo Walrein, and that’s good enough for me. The rest comes with just Water Gun and Hydro Cannon, and that includes Azu, the Mud Boys (aside from Shadow Swampert), and several Steels like G-Fisk, Mawile, Bastie, and Escav… though sadly no longer Registeel (stupid Zap Cannon!). While Blastoise doesn’t do anything incredibly unique or special, it remains a good example of what solid moves and good bulk can do for you.


Primarina WaterFairy

Charm | Psychic & Moonblast/Hydro Pump

And here we have a Water starter that operates like anything but. Prima just needs Charm, and that’s really it. While that obviously stifles her against Steel types, I believe that Prima still has a unique role to play. At least there’s barely any Poison around to hold her back, and she nicely suppresses some of the scarier Shadows.


Sadly, as much as I want to recommend other starters, it just goes downhill from here. I had high hopes for SAMUROTT, but its Bug moves just don’t do all that much for it here beyond a sneaky win over Cradily. Empoleon isn’t hot, as I already mentioned, and FERALIGATR requires being a Shadow AND having two Legacy moves to become even halfway interesting… Blastoise does it better. GRENINJA is slightly more interesting than normal with its Dark moves, but no better than fringe/spice. But there ARE a few more 10k options worth highlighting…


Bibarel NormalWater

Water Gun | Surf & Hyper Fang

Okay, who expected Bibarel to be one of the better performing thrifty options here? Nah, put your hand down… you’re lying. I certainly didn’t expect it, but here we are. Or actually, here we are, with Shadow Bibarel, scooping up extra wins over Skarmory and Quagsire (though it now lacks the bulk to outlast G-Fisk as non-Shadow Bib does). Yes, has to be extra cautious of Fighting moves in particular, but on the plus side, it also blunts Ghost damage, good for Jellicent in particular. Don’t overlook everyone’s favorite dopey beaver here!

MANTINE (Baby Discount™)

Mantine WaterFlying

Wing Attack/Bullet Seed | Bubble Beam & Ice Beam

Being part Flying can be scary with Rocks around, Mantine can manage to mostly overcome that weakness. I’ll throw out my usual Mantine caveats of bait effectiveness boosting its on-paper ceiling to sometimes unrealistic levels… except that in THIS particular meta, it really does plenty of work with just Bubble Beam, beating everything in 1v1 that it does with Ice Beam, and actually beats Swampert and Escavalier MORE effectively by just committing to Bubble Beaming. Bullet Seed is a legit alternative thanks to the wide number of things weak to Grass in this meta, primarily the Mud Boys… if they are one of your major concerns, giving up wins over Araquanid and Pelipper (which Wing Attack can beat) to guarantee a win over Quagsire and really shred Swampert and Whiscash may be your ticket.


Gyarados WaterFlying

Dragon Breath | Aqua Tailᴸ & Crunch

Lower overall effectiveness than Mantine, but possibly cheaper to build and puts in a Mantine effort minus only Quagsire and Araquanid. I like Gary and LOVE any opportunity to use it in PvP, but if I’m being honest, it’s just a poor man’s Mantine/Pelipper here.


Graveler (Alola) RockElectric

Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge/Wild Charge

Look, I get it… they’re risky here, no bones about it. Battles against Waters become a stress-filled race against time, and they have NO real answer to Ground and Grass types that will likely be popular. But even with all that holding them back, life… finds a way. The Waters and Flyers on that list are likely no surprise, but the appearances of Mawile and especially Escavalier are very, very nice wins that the opponent likely won’t see coming. Or run with A-Golem and its Wild Charge to trade in Escav for Azumarill instead. Either way, very few will remember these two are even IN this meta, and fewer still will likely be prepared for them. At least early on the format, I can see the Alolan Rocks getting away with some very sneaky wins.

LUCARIO (Baby Discount™)

Lucario FightingSteel

Counter | Shadow Ball & Close Combat/Power-Up Punch

One of only two actual Fighters in Fossil Cup, and the only one blessed with the best fast move in the game, Counter… and you can count the number of things with Counter in this format on one hand. Why is that important? Counter beats down Steels AND Rocks, and as a Steel-type itself, Lucario also resists Steel and important Grass moves. Shadow Ball is fantastic for neutral coverage, but my recommendation beyond that is not Power-Up Punch, but rather Close Combat for doing basically everything PuP can PLUS winning the mirror.

50,000 Dust/50 Candy


Cradily RockGrass

Bullet Seed | Grass Knot & Stone Edge/Bulldoze

So this meta being what it is, “Fossil Cup” is a very inappropriate name, seeing as how Cradily is basically the ONLY actual Fossil Pokemon that has a chance of doing much here. Why is that? Because it happens to be a Grass-type in a meta chock full of Waters and Rocks that are inherently weak to Grass. So even though Cradily has a very average Grass moveset with Bullet Seed and Grass Knotit has a robust win percentage in Fossil Cup, able to beat nearly all Waters –the few exceptions being high Ice damage like Dewgong and Shadow Walrein, Bug damage like Samurott and Araquanid, or Waters that take only neutral or resisted damage from Grass like Tentacruel, Empoleon, and Kingdra — and all non-Steel Rocks besides Lycanroc, Regirock, and Tyrantrum. Oh, and it even beats Mawile, and with high rank IVs, Shadow Walrein as well. One more potential trick: with Bulldoze instead of the customary Stone Edge, it can beat Bastiodon and (with good IVs) Galarian Stunfisk too, at the relatively low cost of giving up only Pelipper and Mawile. Dilly dilly!


Ludicolo WaterGrass

Razor Leaf/Bubble | Ice Beam & Leaf Storm

Another rare Grass (the second of only three “families” of Grass types in this meta), there are two pretty distinct ways to utilize the Dancing Pineapple. Razor Leaf is obviously best for pure Water/Rock shredding (uniquely beating Pelipper and regular and Shadow Walrein, for a couple of examples), light on shield pressure but heavy on slicing and dicing anything that doesn’t resist Grass, a.k.a. all the Steels, shown most clearly by a loss to Mawile, a VERY close call against Galarian Stunfisk. Bubble fails to take down Pelipper or Walrein, but DOES uniquely beat Cradily and Mawile, and easily smokes G-Fisk. Pick your pleasure and dance your way to victory!


Araquanid WaterBug

Bug Bite | Bubble Beam & Bug Buzz

Well, for one thing, it beats all those sneaky Grass types in the format. As a Bug, ‘Nid also conveniently resists Ground damage, and thus rather easily overcomes the Mud Boys, as well as Escavalier and, famously, Walrein. Add on pretty consistent wins over Azumarill and Araquanid’s potential superstardom in this format is pretty obvious. Just watch out for the few Rock moves that might be flung your way… Bugs do NOT like those.


Escavalier BugSteel

Counter | Drill Run & Megahorn

Sticking with Bugs for a minute, we have one of the few Counter users in the format. Why is that important? Because Counter is fantastic against Steel and Rock types, and unresisted by Waters. Combine that with Drill Run that is also super effective versus Steel and Rock (and very widely unresisted in this format in general) and big closer Megahorn, and you’ve got a winner. Escav isn’t THE best Steel or Rock or certainly Water counter, but the fact that it does a nice mix of all of those (AND beats all the other Counter users) makes it a very good build-around piece.


Magnezone ElectricSteel

Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge

Yep, it has a role here. Just as there are very few Grasses to exploit the format’s Waters and Rocks, so too are there very few Electrics to prey on Waters, but ‘Zone is by far the best of them. I actually prefer Shadow ‘Zone for its more consistent wins over Bastiodon and Cradily, but the relative bulk of NON-Shadow allows for wins you might not expect like Escavalier and Mawile. One other point worth mentioning: Shadow Zone doesn’t even need to bait to maintain its wins, which again leans me in its direction.

Or if you really want to spice it up, consider Shadow MAGNETON, which basically does what Shadow Magnezone does with the exception of losing to Azumarill… to beat Registeel instead. Hmmmmm. 🤔


Probopass RockSteel

Spark | Rock Slide & Thunderbolt

With all the Waters around, it’s the Electric moves you want most, with Rock Slide around for baiting or just outracing (non-Steel) things. Probo is more niche than full-on meta, but it does its job pretty well, zapping many of the top Waters and Flyers while also overwhelming Bastiodon and Mawile and such too. Shadow Probo is perhaps a hair better, more consistently outracing big bad Walrein.

Pokémon GO Probopass

LYCANROC (Midnight)

Lycanroc (Midnight) Rock

Counter | Psychic Fangs & Crunch/Stone Edge

Anything with Counter has value in this meta, even something like Lycanroc that is weak to Water, Grass, and Steel damage. I slightly lean towards Crunch for its more consistent wins against most Steel-types (with unique wins over Galarian Stunfisk and Ferrothorn in particular) and a better path to victory over Shadow Walrein, as opposed to (still-viable) Stone Edge that hates on Flyers and Bugs, specifically beating Pelipper and Araquanid. But Lycanroc’s primary role is clear: smash through Steel types, which it does pretty well before succumbing to its lack of bulk.


Barbaracle RockWater

Fury Cutter | Cross Chop & Grass Knot/Stone Edge

As with nearly all Rock-types here, Barbar can do no better than a role player. In this case, that role is hitting Waters (particularly the Mud Boys) hard with Grass Knot and Cross Chopping down some Steels like Bastiodon and Mawile. Alternatively, you can run STAB Stone Edge and swap out the Mud Boys for Flyers like Skarmory and Pelipper and more reliable wins over normal and Shadow Walrein (and at least a tie versus Escavalier). 


Quagsire WaterGround

Mud Shot | Stone Edge & Earthquake

The most expensive of the three core Mud Boys, and the most unique with Stone Edge to swat down Flyers and Bugs. Steels hate to see its speedy Earthquake, and it tends to beat Swampert and Azumarill too. And while Edge is an obvious second move recommendation, Sludge Bomb remains an interesting alternative, though not necessarily for the coverage it provides as much as for its relative speed as a better bait move (being 5 energy cheaper than Edge), bringing in sneaky potential wins versus Escavalier and the mirror.


Gastrodon WaterGround

Mud Slap/Hidden Power (Grass) | Body Slam & Earth Power

The less heralded Mud Boy, but still very viable. It can Mud Slap nearly all Steels to death (particularly if you have good PvP IVs and gain Escavalier), and even Jellicent, Quag, and Whiscash (AND Swampert if you commit to just Body Slam). Nothing fancy… a good workmanlike performance. But even here there’s a fun alternative. Grass is so good in this meta that, if you happen to have a Gastro with Hidden Power (Grass)it too can shred, giving up Lucario and Registeel to brutally smoke Waters and/or Grounds.


Politoed Water

Mud Shot | Weather Ball (Water) & Earthquakeᴸ

And the honorary Mud Boy. Not actually being part Ground means no resistances to Rock, Poison, or Electric, but ALSO means resistances to Ice and Water types, and no fatal double vulnerability to Grass. Some of those are more relevant than others in this particular meta, but however you slice it, Politoed is itself very relevant in this meta. Like the Muds, it capably handles big Steel types, and at least with good IVs, beats ALL of the actual Mud Boys. (Though the Shadow versions of Swampert and Quagsire can flip that back.)

poliwrath vs politoed
poliwrath vs politoed


Poliwrath WaterFighting

Mud Shot | Ice Punch & Dynamic Punch

Finally, a Great League format where Poliwrath can truly flex, particularly as a ShadowMud ShotIce Punch, and especially Dynamic Punch ALL have relevance here, putting major pressure on Steels, Rocks, and Grounds alike. Heck, ‘Wrath can even beat Azumarill (that lacks Play Rough), and comes within a whisker of beating even Cradily. If you’ve been holding on to a solid GL Poliwrath and just waiting for the right moment to spring it, THIS IS IT. 🥊


Pelipper WaterFlying

Wing Attack | Weather Ball (Water) & Hurricane

One thing Poliwrath definitely does NOT want to face down, as Pelipper rips through Fighters, and of course much more besides. Ranked within the Top 10 of the format for good reason, this is no tame, new life-carrying stork, but instead brings death from above to Muds, Bugs, Fighters, and even stuff like Walrein and Jellicent. It may be buried a bit in this article, but Pelipper is most certainly one to watch in this format.


Azumarill WaterFairy

Bubble | Hydro Pump & Ice Beam/Play Rough

And now the Blue Bunny Of Doom. Both coverage moves work, but it all revolves around that big Hydro Pump bomb that’s basically a must for Bastiodon and Galarian Stunfisk. Beyond that, Ice Beam is handy for Pelipper and Swampert, while Play Rough is better for the mirror and outracing Shadow Swampert. This is not likely to be an Azu-dominated meta, but you know there will be sets where you still see it every. Single. Game. Be ready to see it taunting you yet again.


Jellicent WaterGhost

Bubble/Hex | Bubble Beam & Shadow Ball

Another case where the meta is not as friendly to a Pokemon as it may be used to, but will still show up all over regardless. So just a quick move comparison for JelliBelli: Hex is not surprisingly better versus opposing Waters, beating Azumarill and Shadow Walrein in particular, but Bubble is just as good (if not even better) in Fossil Cup for how it takes down Galarian Stunfisk and Bastiodon. Tough choice, right?


Dewgong WaterIce

Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Blizzard/Water Pulse

And yet another normally-stout bulkmeister that is brought somewhat low in Fossil Cup… or is it? As per usual, I think running the theoretically-great-coverage-but-actually-awful Water Pulse hold Dewgong back… you want Blizzard instead to bring in wins over Ferrothorn, G-Fisk, Quagsire, and Jellicent. I mean, when you lay it out like that, it’s kind of a no-brainer, right? Yet most opponents STILL don’t see Blizzard coming. Use that to your full advantage, my friend.


Walrein IceWater

Powder Snowᴸ | Icicle Spearᴸ & Earthquake

Been waiting for this one to show up, haven’t you? Yes, Wally works here, with Earthquake being an even better-than-usual threat against all three of the main typings allowed in this meta (super effective vs Rock and Steel, and big neutral damage to other Waters). And while 1v1 shielding rarely tells the whole story, it DOES clearly tell the story here that Shadow Wally is likely worth more consideration than non-Shadow. Non-Shadow outlasts Swampert and Jellicent in close battles, but Shadow Walrein goes out and instead beats Shadow Swampert, Quagsire, Pelipper, Skarmory, Bastiodon, and even Cradily. THAT is the kind of terror you want Walrein striking into the hearts of your opponent.


Lanturn WaterElectric

Spark | Thunderbolt & Hydro Pump

I’m highlighting it because I know people will wonder and ask, but unfortunately no, Lanturn isn’t all that great here. For once, you’re actually slightly better off running Water Gun rather than the customary Spark; while wins against things like Jellicent, Azumarill, Pelipper, Skarmory, and especially Walrein get much closer, you DO still manage to beat them all, and pick up a win versus Bastiodon. But at that point, honestly, you’re much better off just paying up for Rainy Castform. 👀 More on that later….


Golduck (Shadow) Water

Water Gun/Confusion | Cross Chop & Synchronoise

Finishing up the 50ks with a spice alert! 🌶️ I was very intrigued when I noticed PvPoke had Shadow Golduck ranked inside the Top 20 (at the time of this writing, anyway, at #19), and lo and behold, it looks like it could potentially deserve some attention. The recommended Water Gun notably takes down G-Fisk, Whiscash, and Escavalier, but there’s potential with Confusion too, which instead beats Azumarill and Walrein. Add to all that things like Swampert, Pelipper, Bastiodon, and Mawile, and this duck looks like it actually has some bite! 🦆

75,000 Dust/75 Candy


Ferrothorn GrassSteel

Bullet Seed | Power Whip & Thunder

And here we are, our third and final Grass family in Fossil Cup. I imagine I’ve made the case for Grass moves in this format already, but what makes Ferro particularly interesting is that it’s the only one of the three that resists other Grass moves (doubly so), and thus rather easily bests Cradily and Ludicolo, while still doing much the same job as they do versus the rest of the meta. The only things it somewhat struggles against that the others can handle are Shadow Swampert (Earthquake deals big neutral damage) and Mawile (for rather obvious reasons 🔥😬). All the Grasses make a good case here, but perhaps Ferro most of all?


Mawile SteelFairy

Fire Fang | Power-Up Punch & Iron Head

Honestly, while Mawile is a unique part of the meta, its contributions are just okay. It DOES do a nice job crossing out some of the more difficult threats in the meta, from Registeel to Lucario to Escavalier to Araquanid to Skarmory and Ferrothorn and, thanks to Iron Head, Cradily too. Shadow Mawile does… well, the same things, except it often falls to Registeel and wins the mirror match instead.

Pokemon GO Mawile Raid Shiny
Pokemon GO Mawile Raid Shiny


Skarmory SteelFlying

Air Slash | Sky Attack & Brave Bird

Still beats all the Grasses (even Cradily with scary Stone Edge) and Bugs in the format, most of the Mud Boys (Swampert remains elusive), and then bonuses like Pelipper and Jellicent… and did you know Skarm can beat Walrein too? It’s a solid performance that will surely lead to Skarmory being out in force yet again. Note that Shadow Skarm looks much less preferred here, however.


Bastiodon RockSteel

Smack Down | Stone Edge & Flash Cannon/Flamethrower

No, this isn’t a great meta for Rock-types, but Bastie don’t care. Through crazy bulk and sheer force of will, it still manages to stomp out much of the meta, from Grasses like Cradily and Ferrothorn (even without Flamethrower!) to Flyers like Pelipper and Skarmory to other smashable things like Walrein, Araquanid, Jellicent, and even Mawile. Note that you may be best here without Flamethrower at all, with Flash Cannon useful for winning the mirror and Stone Edge being needed for Jelli. Time to unveil that new Research Day shiny?


Stunfisk (Galarian) GroundSteel

Mud Shot | Rock Slide & Earthquake

I’m always a little distressed when I see G-Fisk in a new meta, but as with several other big names here, it’s not nearly as scary as you’re accustomed to in Fossil Cup. As (most) Rocks are already kind of hated out of the meta, G-Fisk’s one shining role is in effectively bringing Steels down low, from Bastie to Mawile to Skarm to Regi. (Others like Ferrothorn and Escavalier remain issues for obvious reasons.) It can also punch out Jellicent and even some scarier opponents like Araquanid and Cradily (though those are both really close). So yes, it HAS a role, it’s just more specialist than all-powerful generalist in this meta. Having lots of Waters lurking around every corner will do that.


Forretress BugSteel

Bug Bite | Mirror Shot & Earthquake

The Golf Ball Of Doom is another Pokemon that tends to be forgotten, but shouldn’t be. Dominating the Grasses while also smacking aside Walrein (including Shadow Wally) and G-Fisk is just the start. Being big and bulky means Forret can wear down Jellicent, Whiscash, and Quagsire too. Don’t forget about it!


Sudowoodo Rock

Counter | Rock Slide & Earthquake

Want another underrated pick that can beat EVERYTHING listed above so far in the 75k section? Sudo I. (Get it? “So do I?” Funny, right? Hey, wait, come back!) Regular Sudo beats Forret, Bastie, Skarm, and Mawile, along with Walrein (both varieties) and Pelipper for good measure… oh, and manages to tie another prominent Counter user in Lucario. Shadow Sudo is very much a thing now too and adds Registeel to the winlist. And as long as you avoid eating an Earthquake, Sudo’s own Earthquake makes a quick end of G-Fisk too. Sudo is spicy.


Castform (Rainy) Water

Water Gun | Weather Ball (Water) & Thunder

And now some wet n’ wild 75k picks, starting with arguably the most underrated pick in the format. 💦 Not only does it outclass Lanturn, as mentioned earlier, but it outclasses most other Waters period. Not only does Rainy dominate things it should like G-Fisk, Bastie, and Mawile, but with Thunder it blasts Azumarill (regardless of Azu’s moves), Jellicent, Skarmory, Walrein and more. Pure Weather Ball spam and bulk combine to also wash away Lucario, Swampert, Whiscash, Quagsire, and Escavalier, for a start. Its overall record puts it right up there with Swampert. Rainy is criminally underrated.


Lapras WaterIce

Water Gun/Ice Shardᴸ | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ

Good old faithful Lapras, still tearing it up all these years later. Unlike most other Ice-types in this meta, Lapras comes with potent Water-type damage from Surf, allowing it to put in one of the better Water/Ice performances. But it gets much, MUCH better if you do something those others cannot: forgo Ice-type fast moves entirely and run and gun with Water Gun, beating everything that Ice Shard Lapras can PLUS Registeel (though a crafty Regi can limp away with single digit HP if it commits to straight Zap Cannon), Bastiodon, Walrein, and Galarian Stunfisk… plus every single Ice-type in the meta besides Sealeo. You really want to just stick with non-Shadow Lapras, though… Shadow Lappie suffers from the slashed bulk.

Other big bulky Waters like MILOTIC and ALOMOM…OMOM…OLA may show up, but they can’t hold a candle to others already mentioned, IMO.

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

It’s not that the Legendary and Mythical Pokémon aren’t good, it’s just that I’m running out of space (and your brain likely is too!), so I’ll go through these expensive options in rapid fire style!

Registeel Steel
  • Oh yeah, REGISTEEL will be a frequent encounter here. I mean, heck, it’s rated #1! But in many ways, the core meta forms around it, so there’s plenty to keep it in check with Fighting, Ground, or even Fire damage. Just scan that loss list and you’ll get the idea, but make sure you’re packing at least one solid Registeel counter among your three.
Regirock Rock
  • REGIROCK clearly takes a back seat, but it’s still a potent force here. Many of the same things that plague Registeel suppress Regirock as well, though it can fight back against things like Mawile better.
Melmetal Steel
  • For once, I think MELMETAL does NOT want Rock Slide as much as Thunderbolt, with which it can beat either variety of Walrein with straight Thunderbolt, which is handy. (And yes, it maintains its other core meta wins.)
Tapu Fini WaterFairy
  • For those of you lucky enough to have traded for one under 1500 CP, I think you’ll enjoy using TAPU FINI in this meta. It’s a slightly MORE reliable Azumarill.


Here I cover ‘mons that are no less “nifty” than those in the main article above, but require maxing or at least almost maxing out, so they are FAR from “thrifty”! Best acquired in a Lucky trade for good IVs and less investment. I’ll also cover these in bulletized format to bring this article home!

Lileep GrassRock
  • The first XL thought on many players’ mind here, especially after I highlighted Cradily and other Grasses, is surely LILEEP. Yes, if you lucked into getting the no-longer-available Bullet Seed variety, it’s viable here. If not… well, it can still kinda work, but is far less exciting, no longer able to beat Pelipper or Walrein. Show me those ABB Cradily/Bullet Seed Lileep teams, trainers!
Lombre WaterGrass
  • Another Grass pre-evolution: LOMBRE. Puts on a decent imitation of Ludicolo, no? More ABB potential.
Wormadam (Trash) BugSteel
  • TRASH CLOAK WORMADAM is for once much better off with Bug Bite than the more typical Confusion, biting down the likes of Shadow Walrein, Ferrothorn, and even Bug-resistant Azumarill. It’s basically an alternate Forretress that beats Azu and Araquanid instead of the G-Fisk and Jellicent that Forret can quake down instead.
Wailmer Water
  • And if you’re just in it for the show-off spice, you can do worse than an XL WAILMER. Not too shabby, right? Bonus points if you have the #1 IV and can add Swampert to the win column, you beautiful madman (or woman)!
Poliwhirl Water
  • Perhaps even better than that, though, is POLIWHIRL, especially purified ones with Return. Beating the true Mud Boys plus Bastie plus Lucario plus Shadow Walrein plus G-Fisk plus even Azumarill is pretty awesome. (Or with Mud Bomb instead of Scald you beat non-Shadow Walrein instead of G-Fisk.)

And 50+ Pokémon later, we’re done! Yes, in a massive format like this, there are surely other viable options I didn’t even cover that are on the cusp of potential greatness too. But I had to cut off somewhere, and hopefully this is sufficient to hit most of the highlights and help you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!).

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for regular 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 master Fossil Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

Author & tags

PoGO/PvP Investigative Journalist, GO Hub and Silph Arena/Road Contributor, amateur cook, author of 'Nifty Or Thrifty' and 'Under The Lights' article series and #PvPfacts!

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