Nifty Or Thrifty: Great League Jungle Cup Meta Analysis

🎼 Welcome to the jungle!

🎵 We’ve got fun and games.

♫ We got everything you want, honey

🎶 We know the Pokémon names….

The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: the first Great League edition of Jungle Cup, in this case, which we get for two weeks back to back! 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 and/or leveling up! 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.

As per usual, we’ll start with those with the cheapest second move unlock cost and steam ahead until we finally arrive at the expensive Legendaries. I do try and put extra emphasis on the thriftier stuff, especially for formats like this where you may not use some of these things much in the future. (For a rough guide to reusability, though, I will rank things with ♻️s, with three being solid in other Great League formats, two being okay in at least certain Cup formats, and only one being something that, honestly, you’re unlikely to use again.)

A quick reminder of what this version of Jungle Cup is:

  • Great League, 1500 CP Limit.
  • Only NormalGrassElectricPoisonGroundFlyingBug, and Dark type Pokémon are eligible.
  • Galarian Stunfisk and Gligar are banned, and it’s not hard to see why, especially in the latter case.

Anyway, let’s dive in and see what we’ve got, shall we?

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

Most of the high ranked stuff is decidedly NOT thrifty, with seven of the Top 10 (and ten of the Top 20) being 75ks, and only two 10k Pokémon in the Top 20 (and none showing up before #14!). But as always, there IS value to be found when you dig a little, so let’s mine them out!


Swampert WaterGround

Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake (or Sludge Wave?)

Generally lean towards Shadow Swampie for its ability to beat down Gliscor and even Guzzlord (and better overpower things like Toxicroak, Quagsire, and Umbreon depending on shield scenarios), and really only giving up Shadow Whiscash in a few spots to do it. If you want to get tricksy, you could run Sludge Wave to threaten Grasses (beating Abomasnow specifically), but I do think Earthquake is still Swampie’s best friend here for how it slaps Poisons, Electrics, and other Ground types.


Whiscash WaterGround

Mud Shot | Scald & Blizzard/Mud Bomb

That all said, Whiscash is ranked far lower but really isn’t far behind. And in fact, if you go with the anti-Grass tech here, old-school Blizzard… well, you don’t necessary flip the most important Grass matchups, but you DO now beat a couple notable Dragons like Guzzlord and Altaria. Just for this one meta, perhaps it’s time to reach back into Whiscash’s golden age of Cup success and run the big snowstorm again.


Greninja WaterDark

Water Shuriken | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Night Slash

Maybe not overall as impressive as the Mud Boys, but can take them all out, and handles Flyers and Ghosts (or things that rely on Ghost damage, like Lickitung) far better… even Trevenant! The downside is being full-on DOA to most things dealing Electric or Fighting damage, and not handling Poisons like Toxapex and Toxicroak as the Mud Boys can.

MANTINE (Baby Discount™) ♻️♻️♻️

Mantine WaterFlying

Wing Attack | Ice Beam & Aerial Ace

The good old Baby Discount™ strikes again… and Mantine strikes again in yet another meta. The only Waters it cannot overcome are Electric types or the big Poison Jabbers Toxapex and Tentacruel. But of course, what makes Mantine really special is being a Water type that beats nearly all Grasses that aren’t Electric, Rock, or Ferrothorn. Ice Beam means it can beat the big Dragons (even Guzzlord) and other Flyers, its Water side means it handles the Fires despite not running with any super effective moves, and it has the bulk to outlast stuff like Vigoroth, Toxicroak, and Wigglytuff too. The Achilles’ heels are obvious: mostly Electrics and Steels. Avoid those and Mantine can rain down terror from above on darn near everything in this meta.

ALTARIA ♻️♻️♻️

Altaria DragonFlying

Dragon Breath | Sky Attack & Moonblastᴸ/Dragon Pulse

Altaria is back and ready to party like it’s… 2023? Yeah, Altaria has really ALWAYS been relevant as the Great League meta has shifted back and forth, with some of those shakeups knocking it off its lofty perch but never too low, and never for long. Here in a meta with limited Ice, Rock, and Fairy types, Altaria gets a chance to really stretch its wings clouds?. Extreme bulk and/or Steel can outlast it, or some of those very few hard counters I mentioned, but not much else. Altaria should make for a very good filler on a variety of team builds. One last note: Legacy Moonblast is really only needed for Dark types (consistently beating Umbreon as the most obvious example), but Dragon Pulse works fine too, and can force at least a tie versus Toxapex in 1shield that Altaria simply loses otherwise.

PIDGEOT ♻️♻️♻️

Pidgeot NormalFlying

Wing Attackᴸ | Feather Dance & Brave Bird

Bird Jesus has the look of an almighty savior here, but of course is a sim hero… in the real world, things can go sideways quickly depending on proper baiting. But still, it’s hard NOT to raise an excited eyebrow at something that can potentially beat all but the hardest counters (Steels, Electrics… though it can beat out even some of those!) out there, or just super high damage stuff that outraces the Feather Dance debuffs, like Greninja and Shadow Dragonite. And while not ideal, you can even park Brave Bird and just grind down a lot of things anyway. If you’re an experienced Pidgeot user, I think you’ll like it just fine in Jungle Cup.

GOLBAT ♻️♻️♻️

Golbat PoisonFlying

Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball

Pros and cons for both ShadowBat and non-Shadow. The former is much better in 1v1 shielding, losing Vigoroth but able to overcome Gliscor, Pelipper, Whiscash, and Charjabug. However, in other shielding scenarios, it is Shadow that falls a bit behind non-Shadow with losses like Lickitung, Greninja, Pelipper, Toxapex, Quagsire, Dragalge, and Altaria, gaining Guzzlord, Mantine, Mandibuzz, and Umbreon in return, but that’s not fully compensating value at all. Either way you go, Golbat is certainly a solid enough performer here, but check out some sims before you take the plunge and know what your version can or can’t do.


Talonflame FireFlying

Incinerateᴸ | Flame Charge & Brave Bird/Fly

Like Pidgeot, Talonflame is only at its best with Brave Bird. It’s necessary to knock out Fire-resistant things like Mantine, and particularly when paired with Flame Charge, can punch out stuff like Altaria, Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and even Flying-resistant Stunfisk! You can also run double Flying charge moves (still beating Mantine but not those others, picking up Guzzlord and Dragalge instead), but Fly and Flame Charge brings up the rear. You’re never nerfing yourself that way, but the raw power of Brave Bird is just critical for boom pressure in this meta, at least.


Charizard FireFlying

Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ

Overall a slightly lesser Talonflame, if I’m being honest, unable to reliably overpower things like Mantine, Mandibuzz, Stunfisk, or even Umbreon as Talonflame can with its big neutral Brave Bird. However, what Zard CAN do is better combat Dragons thanks to speedy Dragon Claws (specifically beating Dragonite — Shadow or not — and things like Altaria more reliably than Talonflame) and also can outrace Vigoroth, which Talonflame just cannot normally do. I think I lean towards non-Shadow here, as ShadowZard can overcome Talonflame itself and Dragalge, but gives up a lot (Altaria, Dragonite, Lickitung, Charjabug, and even Abomasnow), and though it gains a lot in 2v2 shielding (including Lickitung, Umbreon, Mandibuzz, and sometimes even Whiscash and Clodsire), I think the bulk of non-Shadow is a bit more valuable in Jungle Cup.


Pyroar FireNormal

Incinerate | Overheat/Flame Charge & Dark Pulse/Crunch

Very popular and potent in the Little League version of Jungle Cup, where their Incinerate damage is particularly deadly, up a level now in the Great League version, they’re still good but temper your expectations a bit. All-Fire Pyroar is the best way to go, with Overheat helping it cook things like Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and even Mantine that these fiery lions simply don’t beat otherwise. Non-Flying Fire types are exceedingly rare in Jungle Cup, so there’s definitely value here (LOTS of flammable things in this meta!), just don’t go thinking you can farm stuff down as often as you might be accustomed to in Little Jungle Cup.

There’s also INCINEROAR, but even at its best (with Double Kick to add on Lickitung and Guzzlord), it isn’t particularly impressive.


Diggersby NormalGround

Quick Attack | Fire Punch/Scorching Sands & Hyper Beam

Technically you can even run Scorching Sands/Hyper Beam and actually do quite well, but honestly this is one of those super rare metas where Ground damage doesn’t actually have TOO many solid targets, and you may be better off with Fire Punch (and yes, still Hyper Beam) instead. The typing and relative speed of Sands does take down stuff like Toxicroak, Greninja (sometimes), Stunfisk, and big bad Toxapex, but Fire Punch nicely sets up Hyper Beam to punch out stuff like Whiscash and Vigoroth, and Fire Punch itself allows Diggs to burn through Skarmory, Trevenant, and even Ferrothorn, all VERY impressive for a Ground type!


Whimsicott GrassFairy

Fairy Wind/Charm | Seed Bomb & Moonblast

So you know how good Cottonee is in Little Jungle Cup (and Little League in general)? Here’s the Great League version. Yeah, Charm works in this meta, but you know what? I think I might still recommend Fairy Wind anyway. While Charm can grind down Mandibuzz and — rather amazingly — Steelix (I’m just as surprised as you!), Fairy Wind allows Whimsie to outrace Trevenant, Pelipper, Whiscash, and Vigoroth, and probably has the greater value overall. Of course, Charm is still a bit better when the opponent throws both shields at you (beating everything notable that Fairy Wind can plus Mandi and Pelipper), but I mean, Fairy Wind is what makes Whimsie rather unique here. If you want a Charmer, just go with the next listing.


Wigglytuff NormalFairy

Charm | Icy Wind & Disarming Voice

So bad news first: unlike Whimsicott, Wigglytuff does not resist Ground or Electric damage, and thus loses to things Whimsie can beat like Stunfisk, Lanturn, Charjabug, and the OG Mud Boy trio. (As well as Ferrothorn.) But if you can handle Muds and Electrics elsewhere on your team, but Wiggly DOES do, rather famously, is resist Ghost damage, beating Trevenant and Lickitung rather easily. It is also NOT weak to Flying damage like Whimsicott is, and thus can also overcome stuff like Gliscor. Wiggly and Whimsie are even more neck-and-neck with shields down (Wiggly handling Aboma, Gliscor, Lickitung, Trevenant, Toxicroak, Pelipper, Steelix, and now Charjabug, while Whimsie instead handles the Mud Boys, Stunfisk, Lanturn, and Vigoroth), and thanks largely to the accumulating effects of Icy Wind, Wiggly is MUCH better in 2v2 shielding, looking positively terrifying as compared to Charm Whimsie with additional wins over Aboma, Gliscor, Lickitung, and Mantine.


Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb/Aerial Ace/Earthquake

Yes, all three have their pros and cons, but are all on roughly equal footing in this meta. My boy Venusaur makes the most of its Poison typing to beat Vigoroth, most consistently beat the Fairies (like the ones listed above) and Toxicroak in 2v2 shielding, and is the only one of these three that can force at least a tie in the mirror. Meganium and its Earthquake can level the playing field versus Poisons and Steels, consistenly beating Steelix and often Clodsire and even Dragalge sometimes too. Serperior doesn’t really do anything special in 1v1 shielding, but is the best of the three with shields down (beating everything major that Venusaur and Meg can except Umbreon, and adding Trevenant and Venusaur itself) and holds up well in 2v2 shielding as well (uniquely outlasting Lickitung and Pelipper). Pick your pleasure and shred the competition.


Chesnaught GrassFighting

Smack Down/Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Superpower

Breaking Chesnaught out on its own because it has some really unique stuff going for it. Like the other three Grass starters we just looked at, it does a lot of good things with Vine Whip and Frenzy Plant, with its unique footprint coming with Superpower, giving it overall very slightly less success than the others, but a key win over Guzzlord, which is pretty cool. But where I think it has really unique utility in this meta is when it doesn’t use Vine Whip at all, but instead Smack Down, swapping out wins like Clodsire, Greninja, Steelix, and that Guzzlord win to instead now be able to… well, smack down Mandibuzz, Altaria, Charjabug, Shadow Dragonite, and even Talonflame (and smacks around Abomasnow too in several shielding scenarios). Obviously things get shakier against things like the Mud Boys (especially in 2v2 shielding), but if you’re going to run Chesnaught here, I think Smack Down is worth a LOT of serious consideration.


Charjabug BugElectric

Bug Bite/Volt Switchᴸ | X-Scissor & Discharge

I mean, yes, if you’re going to run it, you’ll probably be doing so with Volt Switch. But there IS a legit case to be made for humble Bug Bite in this meta too, with its effectiveness versus Grass and Dark types and neutrality versus the Mud Boys, giving it wins like Guzzlord, Greninja, Abomasnow, Swampert, Whiscash, the mirror, and as a bonus, Vigoroth, whereas Switch instead gets things like Lanturn, Wigglytuff, Toxicroak, and several big Flyers. Volt Switch does pull away a little more in other even shield scenarios (0v0 and 2v2), but Bug Bite could fit certain teams much better… and we’ll revisit this point with Galvantula later, who benefits from heavy Bug damage even more significantly.


Emolga ElectricFlying

Thunder Shock | Acrobatics & Discharge/Aerial Ace

Honestly, I’m not overly excited about Emolga here, but it is certainly viable. I slightly lean towards a Flying-heavy setup with both Acrobatics and Aerial Ace, which does lose it a couple Electric-weak things like Skarmory and Greninja (which Emolga can beat with Discharge), but gains the likes of Altaria, Ferrothorn, and Shadow Whiscash, three pretty crazy wins for an Electric. Someone out there will make that work for them.


Raticate (Alola) DarkNormal

Quick Attack | Crunch & Returnᴸ

Speaking of rodents, a purified A-Rat with Return is an underated generalist. Yes yes, Fairy and especially double super effective Fighting must be avoided, that’s obvious. But getting stuck there ignores all the good A-Rat can do, smacking around Darks and Ghosts and outbulking a ton of other things too, with many notable Waters, Poisons, Grasses, Muds and much else in between.


Obstagoon DarkNormal

Counter | Night Slash & Hyper Beam

Kind of the same idea here, in that I think you want the big Normal-type closer to round Goonie’s performance out. Yes, I will continue to advocate for Hyper Beam Goonie until I start actually meeting them on the battlefield. It’s not Cross Chop you want here, or in my opinion, even sim hero Obstruct. Hyper Beam just blasts through stuff a Counter user has no business beating, like Mantine, Lanturn, and Altaria. And of course, it is devastating in match-flipping ways if the opponent doesn’t shield, blowing up things like Talonflame, Gliscor, Venusaur, Quagsire, Whiscash, and Pelipper that Goonie simply doesn’t beat otherwise. Normal does NOT mean weak, folks.

DUBWOOL ♻️♻️♻️

Dubwool Normal

Double Kick | Body Slam & Wild Charge/Payback

Just wanted to point out that while I feel like Payback has become the more common closer for Dubwool, at least for this meta, I think it’s time to TM for Wild Charge… there are just a ton of Electric-weak things in this meta to shock and awe, as well as things like Wigglytuff that resist Payback. That said, Payback is still better neutral coverage (and comes with no drawback, of course) that not only claps the cheeks of stuff like Trevenant, but also Lanturn, Charjabug, Ferrothorn, Vigoroth and others that you cannot quite dust off with Double Kick and Body Slam alone.


Swalot Poison

Mud Shot | Ice Beam & Sludge Bomb

Ice Beam for the Grasses, Dragons, and Flyers, Sludge Bomb for STAB beatdowns, Poison typing to facilitate wins over stuff like Vigoroth, Toxicroak, Wigglytuff, Toxapex and more. And totally thrifty! What’s not to love? Even in Open GL, Swalot is now better than you probably realize. Amazing what a little Mud Shot has done for it.

50,000 Dust/50 Candy


Clodsire PoisonGround

Mud Shot | Stone Edge & Sludge Bomb/Earthquake

Actually a very similar story here to Swalot, now with Stone Edge for Flying beatdowns, and either Sludge Bomb (outrace Lickitung, Trevenant, Mandibuzz, sometimes Pelipper) or Earthquake (buries Dragalge, Ferrothorn, the mirror match, sometimes Steelix and Stunfisk) for STAB closing power. I think my only other tip is that Mud Shot is probably the fast move of choice in this meta filled with Poisons, Steels, and Electrics to chip away at.


Quagsire WaterGround

Mud Shot | Stone Edge & Aqua Tail

I actually usually find myself favoring non-Shadow, but in this meta, ShadowQuag seems the better way to go. It does drop a couple things along the way like Mandibuzz and Toxicroak (that non-Shadow can outlast), but look at the gains: Greninja, Whiscash, Pelipper, Dragalge, Charjabug, Abomasnow. Stone Edge really helps it stand out from the other Mud Boys with how hard it hits Ice and Flying types, along with wide neutral damage.


Piloswine IceGround

Powder Snow | Avalanche & High Horsepower

Here again, I lean towards ShadowSwine rather than non-Shadow, as the latter can sneak in wins over Pelipper and Steelix, but only Shadow can topple Abomasnow, Quagsire, Toxapex, and Wigglytuff. The two are more evenly matched in other shielding scenarios, but if you’re going to maximize Piloswine and its unfavorable (defensively) type combination here, I think you go for broke with as much damage as you can muster as quickly as possible, and that means Shadow. What do YOU think, my friend?


Abomasnow GrassIce

Powder Snow | Energy Ball & Icy Wind/Weather Ball (Ice)

NOT so here, however… I think non-Shadow with its better bulk is probably the ticket for Abomasnow. (ShadowBama can overpower Charjabug but loses Venusaur, Mandibuzz, Gliscor, and sometimes even the mirror in the process.) I lean towards Icy Wind for wins it can achieve versus Lickitung, Umbreon, and an advantage in the mirror, while Weather Ball can outrace Charjabug and Pelipper.


Jumpluff GrassFlying

Fairy Wind | Energy Ball & Aerial Ace/Acrobaticsᴸ

Energy Ball coverage is a near-must (just as it is for Abomasnow above), and after that I lean towards Aerial Ace simply because it can outrace Vigoroth (and just has a higher, slightly more reliable average than Acrobatics overall, exempting no-shield matchups). One COULD call the Shadow version a slight upgrade, swapping Charjabug for Shadow Dragonite in 1shield, but outperforming in other scenarios, particularly 2shield, where Shadow can overcome Altaria, Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and Vigoroth, whereas non-Shadow only manages a unique win over Guzzlord.


Lurantis Grass

Fury Cutter | Leaf Blade & Superpower

I AM SPEED. Yes, Lurantis. Yes you are. You can sort of think of Lurantis as an alternate Chesnaught, though one that’s slightly deadlier versus Grasses thanks to the effectiveness of Fury Cutter (beating Abomasnow in most even shield scenarios, as one notable example) and better versus Fairies (pretty consistently beating Wigglytuff, for example). Chesnaught has the advantage with shields down (thanks in large part to the awesome Frenzy Plant), but Lurantis is at least as good otherwise, and often slightly better.


Electrode (Hisuian) GrassElectric

Thunder Shock | Energy Ball & Wild Charge

Energy Ball again? I mean, it IS key to how H-Trode works, often being the “bait” move to set up Wild Charge despite Ball being more expensive, just to avoid the nasty self-nerfing of Charge. How well DOES that all work in Jungle Cup? Eh, well enough, though the wins are almost entirely limited to the obvious Waters, Flyers, and Grounds you should be beating anyway, with only Lickitung as an intriguing outlier. There’s value here, sure, just know going in that it’s a bit of a niche role.


Magnezone ElectricSteel

Volt Switch | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge

ShadowZone has a clear edge with extra wins like Trevenant, Charjabug, Abomasnow, and Greninja, whereas non-Shadow only stands out for overcoming Venusaur. (Other notable wins for Shadow only include Vigoroth and Ferrothorn with shields down, and Lickitung, Gliscor, and Umbreon in 2v2 shielding, whereas non-Shadow is more consistent versus Dragons like Altaria and Shadow Dragonite.) Either way, ‘Zone brings to bear its usual dominance over Waters and Flyers and Fairies, and often Dragons and Grasses too. Nothing particularly new, but the value remains high on a properly constructed team.

TOGEDEMARU is there too, vying for the same role but just not able to keep up as well these days. Its greater bulk means it CAN fell Talonflame (which Magnezone fails to replicate), but then again it falls to stuff like Aboma, Ferro, Trev, Greninja, and Charj that Zone can beat, so… I lean Magnezone. Sorry, little buddy!

LANTURN ♻️♻️♻️

Lanturn WaterElectric

Spark | Surf & Thunder/Thunderbolt

Ah, you knew I’d get to this one eventually. Lanturn actually is NOT its usual dominant self in this meta… just too many decent Grass and Ground and Dragon types around that resist what Lanturn throws at them. Don’t get me wrong… Lanturn is still better than the simple numbers show, even in this meta, and somebody (likely MANY somebodies) will beat faces in with it. But there are more ways to fend it off than it is accustomed to, so curb your enthusiasm, Lanturn lovers.


Pelipper WaterFlying

Wing Attack | Weather Ball (Water) & Hurricane

Kind of a similar sentiment here, honestly. Pelipper is fine enough, just not its usual dominant self. And its clearly inferior overall in this meta to Mantine, having an easier time versus things specifically weak to Water (like Steelix and Clodsire), but falling short of Mantine’s performance in basically every other way.


Togetic FairyFlying

Fairy Wind/Steel Wingᴸ | Aerial Ace & Dazzling Gleam

Not overly exciting, but Togetic is a safe-ish option here. I actually favor Legacy Steel Wing if you have it, which can beat other Fairies but also stuff like Abomasnow, Vigoroth, and even Steelix. (Fairy Wind is better for outracing things like Whiscash, Mantine, and Greninja… who all resist Steel, after all.) Not a meta wrecker or anything, but very nice spice with this one.


Weezing (Galarian) PoisonFairy

Fairy Wind | Overheat & Brutal Swing

Sometimes PvPoke is funny about how it ranks G-Weeze. For example, here it’s currently ranked way down at #130… because it’s set to run with Play Rough instead of the better-fitting Overheat. Sure, Play Rough allows it to reach out and smack down Darks like Umbreon and Mandibuzz, but Overheat can burn Steelix, Skarmory, Trevenant, Venusaur, Abomasnow and others down to ashes. You want heavy Fairy damage? Look to another Fairy. If you want more versatility and adrenaline boosting KOs, go with G-Weeze with Overheat.


Dragalge PoisonDragon

Dragon Tail | Aqua Tail & Outrage

Yeah, I do think Outrage is your best bet for closer here. Gunk Shot has metas where it’s better, but here it just doesn’t do much for you, with Outrage having plenty of Dragon, Poison, and/or Ground types to slap around, and even generally being better in getting neutral wins like Lickitung, Umbreon, and Mandibuzz too. Resisting all that it does (Grass x2, plus Fire, Water, Electric, Bug, Poison, AND Fighting) more than compensates for its weaknesses to Ground, Ice, and Psychic in this meta.


Toxapex PoisonWater

Poison Jab | Brine & Sludge Wave

Tox remains the Bastiodon of Poisons, just wearing a ton of things down and outbulking them in wars of attrition. Its numbers look even more impressive when you take away Ground types and realize that about the only other core meta things that outlast it are Poison or Steel types that resist its damage, Lanturn that shrugs off its Brine and hits back with a steady barrage of super effective Electric damage, and bruising Shadow Dragonite. That’s really about all that it can’t grind down to dust in the end. It’ll be around in this meta for sure, despite a very modest, outside-the-Top 50 ranking.


Haunter GhostPoison

Shadow Claw | Ice Punch & Shadow Ball

The exact opposite of slow, tanky Toxapex, Haunter of course is all about speed, tearing through a number of Grasses, Fighters, Electrics, Steels, and thanks to Ice Punch, even Flyers and/or Grounds and/or Dragons too. You’re basically ALWAYS going to want at least one shield for it to hide behind, but it can put in some good work here if you’re daring (or just crazy!) enough.


Salazzle PoisonFire

Incinerate | Poison Fang & Dragon Pulse

Also flimsy but high pressure, Salazzle’s unique set of skills translates pretty well to Jungle CupIncinerate finds a lot of burnable targets (mostly Grasses, Bugs, and Steels), Dragon Pulse can shove aside other Dragons like Altaria and things like Talonflame, and Poison Jab softens up targets like Mandibuzz, Umbreon, and even things that resist Poison like Gliscor, Toxicroak, and Steelix for Sal’s other moves to finish off.

Nidoqueen PoisonGround

Sadly, the OG Poison Fang menace NIDOQUEEN remains mostly a (literal) Shadow of its former self even in a meta where it should have intriguing potential. It DOES do some neat things that even Salazzle cannot (beating several Electrics, Poisons, and stuff like Guzzlord and Lickitung that Sal can’t handle), but then again it loses to a lot of Grasses, Ices, Flyers, even Steels (that you would hope that Earth Power could help out with) that Salazzle and others can overcome. Sorry, Queen… you don’t slay so much anymore. 😢

There are a number of other Poisons you might have been expecting that I’m not covering in detail here, like Tentacruel and the Dark/Poisons. They just don’t perform very well in this particular meta, aside from maybe something like Shadow Alolan Muk, and even then it’s more fringe than truly meta. I didn’t forget about them, just not worth more than this brief mention, IMO.


Toxicroak PoisonFighting

Counter | Mud Bomb & Dynamic Punch/Shadow Ball

Might this be it? Might Jungle Cup finally be the meta where Dynamic Punch emerges on top? Maybe! It beats everything Shadow Ball can except Fighting-resistant Charjabug and Pelipper in 0shield, and adds on Steelix and Wigglytuff in that same shielding scenario, as well as Quagsire in 1shield and Mandibuzz in 2shield. Nice! Similarly, for Shadow Toxicroak, Dynamic Punch replicates everything Shadow Ball can do against the core meta, and adds on Mandibuzz in 1shield. DynamiCroak FTW? Just this once, that may indeed be the secret sauce.

SCRAFTY ♻️♻️♻️

Scrafty FightingDark

Counter | Foul Play & Power-Up Punch

The pros? Scrafty is obviously fantastic versus other Dark types, while also holding down the Steels and Normals and Ices you’d want your Fighter to handle, and it even comes out on top of Vigoroth in that super effective on super effective death match. As a bonus, you get stuff like Trevenant and even two of the three major Mud Boys too (Whiscash is the one that escapes), plus muddy Stunfisk. But I worry about what it will do when it faces down other dedicated Fighters, Fairies obviously, and it has no good answers to the many Poisons and Fires and Flyers and Bugs out there either. A Scrafty that’s been PuP‘d a couple times can be absolutely terrifying, but it has to get going for a while to do that, and I see a lot of things that stymie it. But I also tend to underappreciate Scrafty until it rips me a new one in any given rotation, so take my opinion for what it’s worth here!


Heracross BugFighting

Counter | Rock Blast & Close Combat

See, this is my kind of Fighter: just beat face from the get-goRock Blast isn’t going to win you many matchups against Flying types, but it’s at least enough to force a shield or two, and it does a nice job baiting out shields ahead of a Close Combat finisher. Remember that, as a Bug, Heracross resists Ground damage, which it uses to beat ALL the Mud Boys and Stunfisk, and it resists Grass damage too, handy for taking out many of them as well. Resisting Fighting damage is another perk, so Heracross can beat Vigoroth and Toxicroak too!


Escavalier BugSteel

Counter | Drill Run & Megahorn/Aerial Ace

The Fighter that actually isn’t. There are good cases for both Megahorn and Aerial Ace, but Drill Run I’m going to call a must to deal with troublesome Poisons like Dragalge, Toxapex, and sometimes Toxicroak. Ace is more consistent in outracing Vigoroth in 1shield (while Megahorn can instead knock out Whiscash), and much better in 2shield scenarios (doing everything Megahorn can plus Altaria and Wigglytuff, plus Dragalge, Lanturn, ad Stunfisk thanks to baiting shields effectively for Drill Run to finish them off), while Megahorn is not surprisingly superior with shields down (replicating Ace’s performance and adding to it Charjabug, Umbreon, and the OG Mud Boy trio). All that is probably worth considering depending on whether Escavalier is in the front of your lineup or more towards the back.


Araquanid WaterBug

Bug Bite | Bubble Beam & Mirror Coat/Bug Buzz

Look, Mirror Coat is NOT a good move. But in the right meta, even a bad move can sometimes get its golden moment in the sun, and I think this is one of those metas, with valuable wins against Psychic-weak Poison types like Dragalge and Toxicroak. Bug Buzz is fine too, with wins instead like Ferrothorn in 1shield or Lickitung in 2shield, but I like the surprise that could come with Mirror Coat in Jungle Cup.


Cradily RockGrass

Bullet Seed | Rock Slide & Grass Knot

Both medium well and extra dark versions work pretty equally well. Shadow can better overpower Steelix, Clodsire, and Lickitung, while non-Shadow has the bulk necessary to outlast Wigglytuff, Venusaur, Gliscor, and Mantine. As always, dilly dilly!


Gastrodon WaterGround

Mud Slap | Body Slam & Earth Power

And wrapping this section up with the oft-forgotten Mud Boy, the perpetually underrated Gastrodon. There are a ton of good targets for the slow but powerful Mud Slap here, and not just the obvious Poison and Steel and Electric types, but also stuff like Vigoroth, Umbreon, and more popular Waters like Whiscash, Quagsire, and Greninja. There’s even room these days for the finally-improved Water Pulse which terrifies other Ground types, and drops only Umbreon in 1shield to be able to now beat Talonflame in the 0shield and 1shield matchups. THAT would be a great thing to pull off for a Mud Slapper, no?

75,000 Dust/75 Candy


Steelix SteelGround

Dragon Tail | Psychic Fangs & Earthquake/Crunch

Ranked #1 (and #2!) in Jungle Cup, you might expect to see a crazy high winrate against the meta, but that’s not exactly the case, even at Steelix’s on-paper best. Yes, most Dragons, Grasses, Flyers, Electrics, and Poisons want nothing to do with it, but its steely exterior is far from impenetrable. There are a ton of things in the core meta that dish out more than enough Water, Ground, Fire, and/or Fighting damage for Steelix to hold up to. Heck, even Wigglytuff and Whimsicott can overcome it. Steelix is just not in Great League what it is (was?) in Ultra League… not after the *Breaking Swipe** nerf, anyway. I think we’re back to Psychic Fangs now, at least in this meta where it can scare Poison and Fighting types. I also lean towards Earthquake rather than the currently-PvPoke-recommended Crunch, though Crunch has value too in overcoming some troublesome things like Vigoroth, Gliscor, and Pelipper. I just like how Quake can roll over Lanturn, Umbreon, Ferrothorn, and of course the mirror and others. You call though, my friend!


Skarmory SteelFlying

Steel Wing | Sky Attack & Brave Bird

Coming in RIGHT behind Steelix at Rank #3, Skarmory is quite a handful in this meta, equally scary in Shadow (overwhelms Whiscash and Lickitung) and non-Shadow (outlasts Trevenant and Shadow Dragonite) form. It’s the Flyer that still beats most all Ice and Rock types, the Steel that still overcomes most Ground types (and Vigoroth), all while holding down the Grasses, Dragons, and Poisons you’d expect. The big Steel Wing buff still makes me smile… I LOVE that Skarmory is back in the upper echelon of PvP again. How about you?


Vigoroth Normal

Counter | Body Slam & Rock Slide

And rounding out the Top 5, we have big bad Vigoroth. And I mean… what kind of analysis do I even need to do here? You know it, and you either love it or really hate it, but you always have to respect it. Aside from the obvious (wins versus most Steels, Ices, Normals, Darks), these days it can also smash Bugs and many Flyers thanks to Rock Slide, and heavy neutral damage from Body Slam overwhelms stuff you may not expect like Stunfisk, Wigglytuff, Lanturn, Whiscash, and even Swampert. It’s not wholly dominant here like it has been in several other metas, but it IS likely to still be all over the place, having very few truly bad matchups. Don’t shoot the messenger!


Mandibuzz DarkFlying

Snarl | Aerial Ace & Dark Pulse

I’ve had some odd moveset recommendations in this analysis (as I often do!), but here I’m going to be boring and just go with the now-standard Snarl/Aerial Ace/Dark Pulse. There IS room for those who want to run Air Slash, beating Darks like Guzzlord, Greninja, and the mirror, as well as sometimes Dragonite and Abomasnow, but Snarl is much more versatile with wins like Skarmory, Steelix, Vigoroth, Pelipper, Gliscor, Clodsire, Talonflame, Swampert… some of the elite among elites in Jungle Cup. Mandibuzz is rarely exciting, but as per usual, it gets the job done.

GLISCOR ♻️♻️♻️

Gliscor GroundFlying

Wing Attack | Earthquake & Night Slash/Aerial Ace

No Gligar, no problem? It’s not perfect, but Gliscor is uniquely powerful here, capably handling the big Poisons, Grasses, Electrics, Fighters (including Vigoroth), and even most Grounds. I lean towards Night Slash to outrace Steelix, Quagsire, and the mirror, and maintain at least a passable performance in 2v2 shielding, getting stuff like Lanturn, Steelix, Lickitung, Quagsire, and Whiscash that Aerial Ace cannot. Ace is comparable in 1shield (taking down Altaria and even Abomasnow) and beats Trevenant and Toxicroak with shields down, which Night Slash cannot. Another one where you CAN go either way depending on your playstyle and team composition.


Stunfisk GroundElectric

Mud Shot | Discharge & Mud Bomb

Not a ton to say here, actually. The performance kind of speaks for itself. Dominate most Flyers, Steels, Poisons, Fires, and especially Electrics while also outlasting stuff like Umbreon, Wigglytuff, and Greninja. (OG Stunfisk is just as tanky as its banned Galarian cousin, after all!) Lose to… much of the rest. Ice, Ground, heavy Water damage, and especially Grass are all a bad day at the office. Dragons are tricky too, as they resist Electric damage. There will be teams that want Fisky, and teams that absolutely do not. Which is yours?


Ferrothorn GrassSteel

Bullet Seed | Power Whip & Mirror Shot/Thunder

Here’s a sight Fisky definitely doesn’t want to see! Ferrothorn too comes with obvious blind spots — Fighters, Flyers, even most Darks and Dragons, and of course anything with Fire — but it’s a Grass that can emerge victorious over most Poison, Fairy, and other Grass types, and can beat at least some Flyers like Gliscor and Mantine, and Mandibuzz and Pelipper if running Thunder. I think I favor Mirror Shot though myself, which can knock out Venusaur, Abomasnow, and Dragalge, among others.

Quick hits for the rest, as they’re A.) pretty well known and I have no special move recommendations or anything, and B.) I am, frankly, exhausted at this point and just need to finish! 🥵

Umbreon Dark Trevenant GhostGrass
  • TREVENANT is… well, Trevenant. Avoid Umbreon. 🤪 (And Darks in general, Fire, Ice, Flying, and stuff like Lickitung.) Most everything else you either dominate or at least put up a good fight.
Tropius GrassFlying
  • TROPIUS probably wants Air Slash here, but Razor Leaf is probably better than you think….
Flygon GroundDragon
  • FLYGON, if run here at all, wants Dragon Tail. It does okay, but is obviously much weaker than most Dragons versus all the Grass and Water damage around.
Dragonite DragonFlying
  • When it comes to DRAGONITE, Shadow is worse in 1shield, but better otherwise with wins like Gliscor, Mandibuzz, Toxapex, and sometimes Mantine, Clodsire, and Vigoroth. Non-Shadow‘s standouts come ONLY in 1v1 shielding and include Vigoroth, Lickitung, and Charjabug. Neither is “wrong”, but as is usually the case with GL ‘Nite, Shadow is probably preferred.

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

Guzzlord DarkDragon
  • GUZZLORD is the most desirable 100k here, almost making the Top 10 overall. I intentially skipped ZWEILOUS earlier because, while it’s good, Guzz is just better, and consistently wins the head-to-head and things like Lickitung, Pelipper, and Stunfisk that Zweil can’t.
Buzzwole BugFighting
  • BUZZWOLE is basically a better Heracross, if I’m being honest, with wins like Steelix, Venusaur, Charjabug, and even Mandibuzz and Skarmory (in 2shield) that Heracross can’t really replicate.
Zapdos ElectricFlying Zapdos (Galarian) FightingFlying


Lickitung Normal Pachirisu Electric
  • For once, PACHIRISU is NOT all that. Sorry, Canada. 🍁
Rufflet NormalFlying

OK, that’s finally it! Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for regular analysis nuggets. Feel free to comment here with your own thoughts/questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you navigate this meta, and in the most affordable way possible. After all… it’s a jungle out there! 🤪 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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