Holiday Cup PvP Guide 2021

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The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: Holiday Cup, in this case. As is typical for the NoT series, I’ll cover not only the top meta picks, but also some mons where you can save some dust with cheaper second move unlock costs… or don’t need a second move at all!

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

Holiday Cup 2021

A quick reminder of what Holiday Cup IS:

  • Great League, 1500 CP Limit
  • Only Electric, Flying, Ghost, Grass, Ice and Normal type Pokémon are allowed.
  • No other restrictions. Legendaries, Mythicals, Shadows are all a-okay!

The timeframe is a little odd. While Ultra League began on December 13th and runs until the 27th, at which point Master League takes over, Holiday Cup follows its own schedule. Holiday Cup begins on Thursday, December 16th at 1:00pm PST and runs until December 31st at 1pm PST, straddling the line between Ultra and Master.

Anyway, for this analysis, I will start with those with the cheapest second move unlock cost and steam ahead until we finally arrive at the expensive Legendaries, as per normal “Nifty Or Thrifty” format.

Okay, enough intro. Let’s dive in!

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

VENUSAUR

Venusaur GrassPoison

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb

It’s almost become an inside joke that every Nifty Or Thrifty where Venusaur is available, that’s what I start with… so why break from tradition? After all, Venusaur looks just fine here, capably handling many top threats like Diggersby, Stunfisk, Lapras and Dewgong, Lanturn, Snorlax, the Fairies, the Alolan Rocks, and the quasi-Fighters Vigoroth and Obstagoon and Zangoose, and the list goes on. Venusaur is one of the more reliable and flexible (for a Grass, at least) options around. Shadow Venusaur is an interesting sidegrade option, gaining Magnezone and Obstagoon at the cost of losing Snorlax and possibly Alolan Graveler as well.

CHARIZARD

Charizard FireFlying

Fire Spin/Dragon Breathᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ/Overheat

While there is usually a long debate to be had anymore over which fast move is best for Zard, here it’s pretty clear the winner is Fire Spin. I mean, this is a format stuffed with Ices, Grasses, and other things weak to Fire (Galvantula, Magnezone), so it makes sense that you’d want that over Dragon Breath. But there IS a case for Breath as well, as its heavy damage can uniquely beat down Alolan Marowak, Mandibuzz, and even Altaria. BUT Fire Spin is alone able to get the likes of Froslass, A-Sandslash, Galvantula, Magnezone, Drifblim, Abomasnow, etc., and Zard emerges from all wins it shares with Dragon Breath with more HP leftover. Fire Spin Zard is generally the way to go here. That includes Shadow Charizard, which is, like Venusaur, a curious sidegrade, losing Galv, Lax, Golbat, and Snorlax and generally coming out of shared wins much more damaged than non-Shadow, but it has the added punch to beat Mandi, Talonflame, Sableye, and Dewgong and might fit some team compositions better. Your call!

TALONFLAME

Talonflame FireFlying

Incinerateᴸ | Flame Charge & Brave Bird

Last time, Talonflame was still stuck with Fire Spin, but of course things are quite different now with Incinerate. For once, its ceiling seems a little lower than Charizard; baaically, if you want a consistent Fire type performance, Zard is a little better in that regard, with wins over Trevenant, Magnezone, and Galvantula (plus Drifblim). But Talonflame of course has win-out-of-nowehere potential with Brave Bird with which it can take out Altaria, Sableye, and Alolan Marowak if things go to plan.

PYROAR/LITLEO

Pyroar FireNormal Litleo FireNormal

Fire Fang/Ember | Flame Charge & Dark Pulse/Crunch

Quite simply: Pyroar just Fire Fangs stuff down. And while that’s not an expansive list of wins, it has some good names — Skarmory, Froslass, A-Slash, Zone, Galv, Blim, and the Fairies — that could even be hiding behind two shields and it doesn’t matter… you get them with just fast moves. And then you can launch a Dark Pulse at what follows, or throw a Flame Charge and make subsequent Fangs all the more deadly with the Attack boost. Raaaaaawr. 🦁 And heck, it’s even a bit better with pre-evolution Litleo, who sports notably better bulk, Crunch instead of Dark Pulse, and gets all the same wins as Pyroar except Dedenne, but adds on Snorlax. The big downside is that it has to be maxed, so there goes your thriftiness. But it’s a very fun spice prospect if you are somehow drowning in dust. 🔥

RAICHU

Raichu Electric

Volt Switch | Wild Charge & Brick Break/Thunder Punch

The big advantage Original Recipe Raichu has over its Alolan surfer dude cousin is Brick Break, which by itself is able to beat down Alolan Sandslash, Magnezone, Skarmory, Aerodactyl, Lapras, and even big beefy Snorlax! But the real upside is playing a similar role to Thunder Punch in setting up a closing Wild Charge. There is risk, as the opponent correctly sniffing out the bait and letting through an unblocked Brick Break is often going to be… less than ideal. But when it works, it really works, and better so than Thunder Punch. Brick Break is 5 energy cheaper than Punch, so there are some wins where it can be used and still allow Chu to get to the KO Wild Charge afterwards that Thunder Punch falls short on, including Vigoroth, CharmTales, and Obstagoon (see Goonie, as an example, with BB vs TP), plus the unique win already mentioned against A-Slash. High risk, but potentially high rewards in using Brick Break. I’ll say both it and Thunder Punch are viable alongside Wild Charge… but Brick Break is what makes Raichu truly unique.

ALOLAN RAICHU

Raichu (Alola) ElectricPsychic

Volt Switch | Wild Charge & Grass Knot/Thunder Punch

Is it possible AhChu is the worse Chu for once in this meta? It just might be. I mean, it still puts in fine work, and can (like its Kanto cousin) beat Vigoroth and Magnezone, and with some fancy maneuvering, can even take down Altaria, something few Electrics can claim. (Though technically, in hindsight, Original Recipe Raichu can win the same way, so….) The problem AhChu has in this meta is twofold: its Psychic typing is more hindrance than help with the Ghost and Dark moves around to exploit it, and its non-Electric moves Grass Knot and Psychic — normally big boons — mostly go to waste here with no Mud Boys around for Grass Knot and little for Psychic (the move) to hit hard either. Even with shields down, regular Raichu is more impressive than Alolan Chu. KayChu’s Brick Break just looks better in this particular meta. AhChu is viable, but… inferior? Say it ain’t so!

WIGGLYTUFF

Wigglytuff NormalFairy

Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough

Fairies appreciate having a break from most Poisons, especially Wigglytuff. There are few true Fighters and very few relevant Darks around in Holiday Cup for Charm to blow up, but it still rolls over a lot of things with its high neutral, including domination over the Darks, Fighters, and Dragons you WILL see, plus things like Galvantula, Snorlax, Stunfisk, Froslass, Drifblim, Trevenant (and most Ghosts in general, come to think of it… one of Wiggly’s specialties), other Fairies, and even an unlisted-above win over Lapras with straight Charm. Wiggly is likely to be out partying like it’s early 2021 all over again!

WHIMSICOTT

Whimsicott GrassFairy

Charm | Grass Knot & Moonblast

Technically, Whimsie does everything it needs to with just Charm, but the Grass coverage of Grass Knot is pretty unique among Charmers and nice to have for the many Waters and Grounds around. Grass comes in more useful in the typing, giving Whimsie some nice resistances that allow it to beat stuff like Lanturn and the A-Rocks that other Charmers struggle with (including Wiggly). Basically, if you’re more worried about them, run Whimsie, but for ghostbusting, Wiggly is still your best bet.

CHESNAUGHT

Chesnaught GrassFighting

Vine Whip | Superpower & Energy Ball

Similar to the comparison between Whimsicott and Wigglytuff, there is a close comparison to be made between Chesnaught and Venusaur. ‘Naught beats Steels and Darks that give other Grasses trouble, like Alolan Sandslash, Magnezone, and Obstagoon, but loses (very badly) to the Fairies (Wiggly, Whimsie, A-Tails, and Dedenne) that Venusaur can easily handle. Which one fits YOUR team better, trainer?

CHERRIM

Cherrim Grass

Bullet Seed | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam/Dazzling Gleam

There’s a better version coming later in the 50ks — Roserade — but Cherrim is a budget version that requires no Legacy moves and still does just fine for itself as a solid enough Grass that can survive the Icy Waters and burn many Grasses, Ices, and Steels down with Fire Ball. It’s a fun and very budget-friendly build if you need a cheap space filler for this meta.

ALOLAN GRAVELER/GOLEM

Graveler (Alola) RockElectric Golem (Alola) RockElectric

Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge

Last year, the A-Rocks were still relative unknowns outside of The Silph Arena and Kanto Cup. The secret is long since out of the bag, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still awesome in Holiday Cup. They equally terrorize Ices, Flyers, Fires, and their fellow Electrics, a unique set of wins that give them the flexability you really want in this Cup (considering that list is ⅔ of the major typings here!). Rather than ramble on, I’ll just review the differences between Golem and Graveler real quick. The higher Attack of A-Golem allows it to knock out Venusaur, while A-Golem will typically fall just short. On the flipside, A-Grav can outbulk A-Golem in the head-to-head. In short, though: they’re very, very close in performance, and whichever is easier to build should work out just fine.

LINOONE

Linoone Normal

Shadow Claw | Grass Knot & Thunder

Linoone isn’t the best at anything, but it’s good enough at a mix of things, checking off many big names like Dewgong, Alolan Marowak, Lanturn, Stunfisk, Trevenant, Skarmory, Sableye, Froslass, Drifblim, Golbat, Mandibuzz, Haunter/Gengar (even with Sludge Bomb), and more. It’s a borderline option if you look only at the number of wins, but it just gets better and better when you look those wins over, doesn’t it?

MUNCHLAX

Munchlax Normal

Lick | Body Slam & Bulldoze

As with Linoone, Munchie doesn’t excel in any one particular area, but it does a lot of little things well. Without the Electric and Grass moves of Linoone, Munchlax cannot overcome things like Dewgong, Lanturn, Mandibuzz, or Stunfisk, but it DOES somehow still manage to outlast stuff like Skarmory, Golbat, and Aerodactyl through sheer, stubborn tankiness, and unlike Loonie, can hang in there and overcome Whimsicott, Galvantula, Alolan Sandslash, and the A-Rocks… the Alolans being thanks to secret weapon Bulldoze. Munchie is a pretty safe little ‘mon you can anchor many teams with, really never getting blown out except by things that resist Lick. Like, say, the following entry….

OBSTAGOON

Obstagoon DarkNormal

Counter | Night Slash & Hyper Beam/Gunk Shot

The cheapest Counter user here, yours for potentially just the measly cost of a second move after evolving up from a hatch-size Galarian Zigzagoon. And Obstagoon and its Counter are quite good in this meta, yes. None of the Ices like it (not even Froslass that’s usually troublesome for Fighters and quasi-Fighters), nor other things weak to Counter like Diggersby, Magnezone, and the Alolan Rocks. And meanwhile, Night Slash handles all the Ghosts besides Drifblim and Golurk, and it also overcomes Lanturn and Mandibuzz with high neutral damage (mostly thanks to Gunk Shot or Hyper Beam). And with Beam, it can even potentially knock out Stunfisk. (That’s right… you don’t necessarily need Cross Chop here… Counter will often do enough on its own, and I think it’s better to have a big KO move instead, personally.)

GREEDENT

Greedent Normal

Bullet Seed | Body Slam & Crunch

New since last Holiday Cup, Greedent crashes in and makes an immediate impact. It’s not as tough on Ghosts as the above Normals, but still usually gets the job done with Crunch, while the speedy combination of Bullet Seed and Body Slam makes it dangerous to Waters, Grounds, Rocks and a host of others. It’s sort of a different flavor of Munchlax.

BIBAREL

Bibarel NormalWater

Water Gun | Surf & Returnᴸ/Hyper Fang

The other beefy Normal rodent, which leans heavily into its Water side to wash away Fires, Ices, and Grounds (even scary Stunfisk). Its Normal side means it conveniently resists Ghost damage, taking out every one that doesn’t happen to also be part Grass. That alone would almost be enough, but it also can run a big closer with Hyper Fang to also outlast Snorlax and Dewgong, or even better Return to also take out (Water Gun) Lanturn.

PIDGEOT

Pidgeot NormalFlying

Wing Attackᴸ/Gustᴸ | Feather Dance & Brave Bird

Pidgeot didn’t even make the cut for last year’s article, but that was before Feather Dance. So this was then, whereas this is now. Or potentially even better than Gust, consider Wing Attack, which can beat Vigoroth, Golbat, and even Skarmory by simply outracing them; all three reach an extra, KO charge move when facing Gust that Wing Attack prevents by getting Pidgeot to its own KO Brave Bird first. But one word of caution: Gust more easily beats down Altaria. Either way, handling all the Ghosts AND many Ghost counters (the big name Darks and Normals) is enough already… also overpowering the Charmers and somehow even Lapras is just gravy.

Noctowl NormalFlying

Sadly, despite being bulkier and recently gaining Ghost-slaying Shadow BallNOCTOWL still doesn’t cut it, though it’s at least notable that it can stand tall and beat Abomasnow, at least.

ALTARIA

Altaria DragonFlying

Dragon Breath | Sky Attack & Moonblastᴸ

Don’t take Alt’s late arrival in this section of the article to mean it’s not really good, because it is really good in Holiday Cup. Matched against the core meta specifically, Altaria capably handles the Counter users, most of the Ghosts, most other Flyers (like Drifblim and Mandibuzz), Diggersby, Stunfisk, Lanturn, Galvantula, Snorlax and more. And yes, Moonblast is actually a pretty important part of that… with Sky Attack alone, it’s tough sledding against Stunfisk, Mandibuzz, and Drifblim… all three can flip the results in their favor.

GOLBAT

Golbat PoisonFlying

Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball

Not as impressive a performance as in other metas, but Golbat still puts the clamps on Charmers and Fighters (and quasi-Fighters), manages to beat most Ghosts with an eventual Shadow Ball, and just wears a bunch of things down with relentless Poison Fangs (like Snorlax, Diggersby, and perhaps most impressively, WG Lanturn). You can use it here if you wish… just don’t run Shadow Bat. 😬

50,000 Dust/50 Candy

ALOLAN NINETALES

Ninetales (Alola) IceFairy

Powder Snow | Dazzling Gleam & Weather Ball (Ice)

Charm | Psyshock & Weather Ball (Ice)

Two obvious varieties here. Charmtales is a deceptively solid Charmer that makes full use of its resistance to Ice to beat Lapras, Dewgong, and Abomasnow, all of which give Wigglytuff and especially Whimsicott big problems. (The downside is missing out on Trevenant, Lanturn, Vigoroth, and the A-Rocks that at least one of the others can get.) But there’s also the potentcy of Powder Snow Ninetales, which quite simply puts on a clinic by walloping its fellow Fairies, Grasses, Flyers, Normals, and Grounds while still slapping around Darks and Fighters too. Remember that Ninetales didn’t even get Weather Ball (Ice) until January of this year, missing out on last year’s Holiday Cup by just one week in one of the bigger troll jobs in the game’s history. This year, A-Tales should be a big, big player.

ABOMASNOW

Abomasnow GrassIce

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Energy Ball

You know it’s going to be around, in Shadow and non-Shadow form. The differences between the two are pretty minor, really; Shadow more easily beats Lapras, while non-Shadow hangs in long enough to beat Dewgong. Both do a lot of good here, no doubt, but do be cautious, as this is an Ice that must avoid other Ices, and a Grass that has to be wary of Rocks and Fighters. Study what Aboma can and can’t do closely before you decide if it’s right for you in Holiday Cup.

FROSLASS & GLALIE

Froslass IceGhost Glalie Ice

Powder Snow/Ice Shard | Shadow Ball & Avalanche

I am putting them together because their performance is nearly the same against the core meta… but there are some important differences. Froslass is infamous for its ability to fend off most Fighters, and she is also adept at beating other Ices thanks to quickly charging up Shadow Balls and simply outracing them, and these traits are most obvious in that she beats Vigoroth and Dewgong, while Glalie does not. What Glalie has going for it is bulk and Ice Shard… and wins against Sableye, Galvantula, and Froslass herself (plus potentially CharmTales if it’s running Gyro Ball). Lass is far more popular, but Glalie is right there too, and may fit your team a bit better.

PILOSWINE

Piloswine IceGround

Powder Snow | Avalanche & Stone Edge/Bulldoze

Normally Piloswine’s Ground subtying is more curse than blessing, opening it up to all manner of unpleasant vulnerabilities. But in this particular meta, it’s more blessing than curse, giving it an edge against Electrics and Rocks that most of its fellow Ices don’t share, which leads to big wins over ALL of them besides Lanturn, Manectric, and spammy Magneton. It’s the only meta Ice type that can consistently beat the Alolan Rocks, for instance, and also Magnezone when running Bulldoze. Arguably Stone Edge may be better for beating CharmTales and Talonflame (and obviouly being better versus enemy Ices and Fires in general), but different teams will prefer different coverage. What suits YOUR team better?

ALOLAN SANDSLASH

Sandslash (Alola) IceSteel

Powder Snow | Ice Punch & Bulldoze/Gyro Ball

No doubt it works here, but you’d like to see it do a little bit more than it actually does. It’s nice that A-Slash is equally oppressive to Fairies, Grasses, and Flyers, occupying a pretty unique niche in that way. It’s just that… that’s about where its usefulness ends. Only other comment is that you MAY want to legit consider Gyro Ball if you run A-Slash, as it slams the door harder on Fairies and is rough on opposing Ices too, while Bulldoze is primarily just for the mirror match.

DEWGONG

Dewgong WaterIce

Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Blizzard/Water Pulse

It feels wrong to recommend Dewgong run with all Ice moves, as you’d like the safety of a Water move against Fires in particular, but Dewgong really does seem to have the best potential with Blizzard as the second move to pair with the double Legacy Ice Shard/Icy Wind many players have built with Elite TMs by now. Water Pulse is not completely without merit, as it CAN swing wins versus A-Slash and A-Wak, but it’s a BAD move I generally don’t recommend, and loses Snorlax, Sableye, Abomasnow, and the mirror match that Blizzard can beat. However you slice it, Dewgong is held somewhat in check here, but is still quite good and definitely something that many players who have one ready will be itching to show off. Brace yourselves… winter and its icy winds are coming!

SEALEO

Sealeo IceWater

Powder Snow/Water Gun | Body Slam & Aurora Beam/Returnᴸ

Now look, I am not going to sit here and say that going off-meta with Water Gun is better than Powder Snow, because especially when you pull back the covers and examine them against the entire meta, {Powder](https://pvpoke.com/battle/multi/1500/holiday/sealeo/11/0-2-1/2-1) has a crystal clear advantage over Gun. BUT, when you boil it down to the core meta, Gun more than holds its own compared to Powder. What’s going on here? Powder manages to beat Mandibuzz and Golbat, not surprisingly, but Water Gun takes out Alolan Marowak to keep pace, and is also the best way to beat many other Ices (and Froslass in particular) and brings a lot more shield pressure by spamming Body Slam. That higher energy gain is also the only way that Sealeo can outrace Stunfisk while Water Gun cannot. Powder IS my recommendation overall too, but just know that there are teams that may benefit from the unusual Water Gun Sealeo more. Is your team one of them? Oh, and one final wrinkle: purified Sealeo can add on a unique win over Abomasnow thanks to Return. Food for thought.

LANTURN

Lanturn WaterElectric

Spark/Water Gun | Thunderbolt & Hydro Pump

Alright, its name keeps coming up, so let’s jump into this unique electric fishy. Water Gun continues to be recommended, and has some obvious advantages versus stuff like the Alolan Rocks, Stunfisk, and Ices, but doesn’t typically flip them to actual wins. My primary recommendation is going to be Spark, which is just more consistent in outracing things like Golbat, Mandibuzz, Obstagoon, CharmTales, Galvantula, Dedenne, and the mirror… and with really good IVs, potentially Snorlax and Sableye too. Lanturn was a big player last time and should be this time around too.

LUDICOLO

Ludicolo WaterGrass

Bubble | Ice Beam & Leaf Storm

The good? Ludicolo is a Grass is not weak to Ice or Fire, and a Water that’s not vulnerable to Electric or Grass. But the bad news is that Ludicolo still takes neutral from all of those, so it does not often have a true advantage in that way and is left in a lot of neutral-on-neutral slugfests. Thankfully Ludi has good overall coverage, with a combination of Water, Ice, and Grass damage, so it can wail on just about everything. Put that all together and you get this, a hodgepodge of wins that makes Ludicolo an interesting wild card that can support a number of teams.

CRADILY

Cradily GrassRock

Bullet Seed | Stone Edge & Grass Knot

Most notable as the Grass that can slay Flyers…and better than that other Rock tossing, woolly Grass. Yes, that walking carpet Tangrowth can beat Dewgong, but Cradily shares its other wins AND can beat Mandibuzz, Magnezone, Galvantula, Golbat, Alolan Marowak, Talonflame, and Abomasnow. And it does it while still handling most of the things you’d ask of your standard Grass type, like Lapras and Lanturn and A-Rocks and Lapras and Stunfisk and Diggersby and more. Bring in the new year with a toast and a hearty “dilly dilly!” 🍻

GRASSHOLES

Vileplume (Shadow) GrassPoison Victreebel (Shadow) GrassPoison

Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb & Moonblast/Leaf Blade

I’ll keep saying it until I see people actually starting to use it: Shadow VILEPLUME is just as good, if not better, than the more famous Shadow VICTREEBEL. They beat basically the same things, but Plume uniquely beats Magnezone and wins the head to head thanks to a somewhat subtle but important bulk advantage that lets it hang around for some extra hits that Vic may never reach. They beat mostly what you expect Razor Leafers to beat (Waters, Rocks, Grounds, Charmers, quasi-Fighters) and even things that might surprise you like Froslass and Sableye and that Magnezone win. And you can bet they’ll be showing up as you slog through the week of Holiday Cup. Don’t shoot the messenger! 😬

ROSERADE

Roserade GrassPoison

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

The bookend to the Cherrim analysis earlier. Rosie is more expensive and requires TWO Legacy moves, but if you have one ready, she’s much more impressive, beating things Cherrim cannot like Wigglytuff and Whimsicott (thanks to resisting Charm), as well as outracing Sableye, Alolan Graveler, and even Abomasnow and Froslass with its higher Attack and therefore more potent charge moves. Overall it’s a very impressive performance that wasn’t available last year, since Roserade didn’t get its key exclusive moves until 2021.

MAGNEZONE

Magnezone ElectricSteel

Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge

Anyone who has faced down ‘Zone in PvP has surely been duped into shielding a Mirror Shot or two along the line and then cried as a Wild Charge came crashing in behind it. Magnezone is a one-trick pony in that way, but it’s a really good trick. While it is the very definition of bait-dependent, Magnezone can still be dangerous even when baits don’t work out — it still has a winning record! — but it drops Altaria, Talonflame, and many of its fellow Electrics like Galvantula, Dedenne, and Lanturn. There is also the Shadow flavor of Zone, which cannot beat Galvantula but is more reliable versus Altaria and Lanturn, and can sneak away with razor thin wins versus Alolan Marowak and Counter users Vigoroth and Obstagoon… under the right, perfect bait scenarios, at least.

HAUNTER

Haunter GhostPoison

Shadow Claw | Shadow Punch & Sludge Bomb/Shadow Ball

Haunter is almost always a top notch (yet oft overlooked) generalist when available, and that is still true here. Whenever there are Fairies in the meta — and Wigglytuff in particular — Sludge Bomb bears serious consideration, as Haunter beats Wiggly with Bomb, but loses with Shadow Ball. However, Shadow Ball does manage to typically beat Altaria, Skarmory, and Alolan Graveler, while Sludge Bomb does not, so overall I’d say it’s still advantage Ball unless Wigglytuff completely terrifies you. I lean Haunter over GENGAR, who requires a Legacy move (Shadow Punch) and struggles to outrace Altaria and A-Grav.

COFAGRIGUS

Cofagrigus Ghost

Shadow Claw | Shadow Ball & Dark Pulse

You don’t particularly want Psychic here… Dark Pulse is just better thanks to be being a cheaper move, and brings in new wins over Drifblim, Magnezone, and Alolan Marowak. What you get is basically a suped up Haunter that can beat Abomasnow, Alolan Sandslash, Stunfisk, Vigoroth, Dedenne, Dewgong, and Aerodactyl (Haunter loses those), but isn’t quite fast enough to outrace Froslass, Altaria, or Golbat as Haunter does. Or you could get nuts and run both…. 😈

ALOLAN MAROWAK

Marowak (Alola) FireGhost

Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Ball/Shadow Boneᴸ

A-Wak’s stock has slipped a bit as things like Cofagrigus and even Trevenant have risen up to add to its loss column, but A-Wak still does many good things, wearing down most Grasses, Ices, Fairies, Steels, and opposing Fires. Don’t fret if you don’t have exclusive move Shadow Bone… while it more easily outraces Froslass, it lacks the punch to knock out Dewgong, Talonflame, and the mirror match as consisently as Ball.

ZANGOOSE

Zangoose Normal

Shadow Claw | Night Slash & Close Combat

Not technically a Ghost but plays one on TV. Seriously, with Shadow Claw and Night Slash, this is a Ghost-slaying specialist that laughs off their double-resisted Ghost damage (beating literally every Ghost in the format except sometimes Sableye with Return), AND usually beats the Darks that scare Ghosts thanks to Close Combat. Between all those wicked moves, Zangoose claims the heads of Lapras, Alolan Rocks, Galvantula, Lanturn, Abomasnow, Alolan Sandslash, Vigoroth and more. It’s a wild wild card in this meta that is overlooked only at one’s own peril. The (Christmas) Goose is loose!

ELECTRODE

Electrode Electric

Volt Switch | Discharge & Hyper Beam

Seemingly the most obvious way to run it would be with its own anti-Ghost attack: Foul Play, except that it still struggles versus even Ghosts then (failing to consistently beat A-Wak, Cofagrigus, Sableye, and certainly Electric-resistant Trevenant). Rather, the secret sauce with Electrode here would seem to be Hyper Beam. Yes, really: Hyper Beam, with which it can add on things like Dedenne, Galvantula, Lanturn, and Snorlax. But perhaps even better is to get the best of both worlds: Foul Play and Hyper Beam still beats all the same Waters and Flyers, still beats DeeDee and Galv and Lanturn and Lax, and picks up one of the few Ghosts that Foul Play DOES outrace: Froslass. What a funky moveset, right? I’ll call this one a spice play, but it has the look of a potentially very potent one, no? 🌶️

GALVANTULA

Galvantula BugElectric

Volt Switch | Lunge & Discharge/Bug Buzz

Here’s another one where I want to open your eyes to move alternatives, because yes, while the standard Lunge/Discharge is fine, going double Bug moves with Lunge and the newly-buffed Bug Buzz is a juicy alternative. No Discharge means Galv does have issues finishing off Skarmory, Sableye, and Froslass, the extra punch of Bug Buzz wins the mirror and beats other Electrics like Lanturn, Dedenne, and even Magnezone, plus Snorlax and Alolan Sandslash as bonuses. (Yes, I know A-Slash resists Bug, but Buzz deals so much damage it works anyway!) I’m not saying to necessarily go in and run an unfamiliar moveset and expect immediate success, but it’s something to chew on if you like spicing it up.

ZEBSTRIKA

Zebstrika Electric

Spark | Flame Charge & Wild Charge

Last year I labeled Zeb as mere spice, but you know what? As an Electric that can burn down Steels, Grasses, and Bugs, which tacks on wins versus Obstagoon and Charmers Wigglytuff and CharmTales (just managing to tank their Charm damage long enough to Wild Charge KO them). Zeb does all the stuff you’d want your Electric type to do AND goes out and picks up that trio I mentioned, plus stuff like Froslass, Alolan Sandslash, Alolan Marowak, and even Abomasnow too. Sounds like a legit option to me!

NEW KIDS ON THE (ICE) BLOCK

Couple brand new options this year I wanted to specifically highlight!

AVALUGG

Avalugg Ice

Ice Fang | Body Slam & Crunch/Avalanche/Earthquake

Lugg won’t be available until the second half of the Cup (it arrives in game on December 23rd), but when it hits, it immediately becomes relevant. I recommend actually running it with Crunch for the pressure that brings to Ghosts (beating Froslass specifically), but Avalanche is fine too, and even Earthquake is relevant… it loses Skarmory and usually Diggersby, but can knock out Alolan Sandslash. Ice Fang and Body Slam do 90% of the work through. (I’ll have a more comprehensive analysis on Avalugg out the week it arrives in GO… stay tuned!)

DEDENNE

Dedenne ElectricFairy

Thunder Shock | Discharge & Play Rough

DeeDee is much simpler, having only one viable moveset. It does your standard Electric stuff with Discharge (though not fully consistently, losing to Drifblim, for example), but the real neat trick is its Fairy side. Between resisting their damage and/or hitting them hard with Play Rough, Dedenne is a Dark and Fighting slayer, taking down every Dark type and everything that relies on Fighting damage except Vigoroth and its Body Spam Slam. DeeDee isn’t the greatest Electric OR Fairy, but being able to handle what most of those two typings do in one cute little package has real value.

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

TREVENANT

Trevenant GhostGrass

Shadow Claw | Seed Bomb & Shadow Ball

Also new this time around, and you’d be forgiven for assuming Trevenant might not be a great fit here with so many Ices and Ghosts around. But as it turns out, Trevor don’t care. While Ice is generally still a problem, Trevenant actually manages to outrace all the Ghosts except Shadow Sableye and Shadow Dusclops (and yes, including Froslass and Alolan Marowak), and being part Grass, outslugs the Electrics as well. Not surprisingly, it also capably handles Vigoroth and Stunfisk (resisting ALL of their moves) and Aerodactyl. More surprising, perhaps, is that Trevor can also beat Galvantula, CharmTales and Whimsicott, and even Skarmory and Talonflame! Remember that Christmas tree you drug out to the woods last year? It’s back, and it’s angry! 👻

FERROTHORN

Ferrothorn GrassSteel

Bullet Seed | Mirror Shot & Thunder/Power Whip

Sticking with Grass for the moment, and with the theme of JRE messing around with funky movesets, because I recommend considering not running the standard Power Whip and instead running Thunder alongside Mirror Shot. Granted, without Whip you’re gonna lose to Stunfisk, and usually Froslass too (though with high enough Attack Ferro can Mirror Shot to victory over Lass), but you gain Golbat, Mandibuzz, Drifblim, and Alolan Sandslash in the exchange. Not bad! You can kind of get the best of both worlds but eschewing Mirror Shot and just running Whip/Thunder, beating Golbat, Mandibuzz, and Stunfisk (though not A-Slash or Drifblim), but Ferro now loses to Froslass for sure, as well as Abomasnow and Whimsicott, due to no Mirror Shot Steel-type damage, and also is too slow to beat Sableye.

TROPIUS

Tropius GrassFlying

Razor Leaf | Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace

It’s rather niche, but Razor Leaf Trop can work if you really have a hankering to show yours off. It’s not a particularly long list of wins, but it’s full of big names, at least. Ice showing up means a quick hook or death, though. Speaking of….

LAPRAS

Lapras WaterIce

Ice Shardᴸ/Water Gun | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ/Skull Bash

Lapras is ALWAYS solid. Like, literally. It’s not quite as tanky as Dewgong, but it’s darn close. The only problem is it basically always requires at least one Legacy move, and often two, and we’re now in the 75,000 dust for a second move section, so it doesn’t come cheap. But what you get certainly seems worth it. Now that’s with the standard double Legacy (Ice Shard and Ice Beam) set with the great Surf to make it all… well, flow. With that you beat most of the Flyers and Grasses and Grounds, of course, and also things like Froslass and A-Slash. Between that and the fact that Ice Beam is very efficient against things like Diggersby and Abomasnow causes me to lean that way, but Skull Bash is viable as well if you’re more worried about other Ices and Waters, beating Dewgong and Lanturn as clear examples (though without the relative speed of Beam, Lappie can lose to Dedenne and Sableye). Another surprisingly viable set? Water Gun Lapras, which also beats Dewgong and is obviously brutal versus Fire types, though it does tend to lose to Trevenant, Mandibuzz, and Abomasnow and requires Legacy Ice Beam to work properly. The point is, Lapras does a lot of good and is more flexible than you might think in what moves it runs out there with. And there’s even one MORE option: Shadow Lapras, which loses Snorlax, A-Wak, and Trevenant, but gains Galvantula, Skarmory, and Dewgong… though it requires both Legacy Ice moves to be consistent enough in getting Lappie’s other normal wins. Decisions, decisions!

SNOWY CASTFORM

Castform (Snowy) Ice

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Blizzard

No subtyping, no coverage moves, no problem? Snowy continues to defy logic with how effective it is a pure Ice type (horrible defensive typing, weak to Fire, Fighting, Rock, and Steel and resisting ONLY Ice) without any viable non-Ice moves. It just goes out and racks up the wins anyway, meta after meta. I mean, just look at this thing! Here in Holiday Cup it obviously chills out all the Flyers and Grasses (save for Zard, Talon, and Cradily), as well as Grounds like Diggersby (laughing off its Fire Punches) and Stunfisk. But it can also overwhelm Galvantula, Sableye, Snorlax, Wigglytuff, Dedenne, and depending on how the opponent plays it, potentially even Ice-resistant Magnezone!

NORMAL CASTFORM

Castform (Normal) Normal

Hex | Weather Ball (Rock) & Energy Ball

Surprised? When you stop to think about it, this pick actually makes a lot of sense. It has Hex to hit Ghosts, Energy Ball to hit Waters, Grounds, and Rocks, and — new this year — Weather Ball (Rock) to hit Ices and Flyers. As a result, Casty beats every Water, Ground, and Rock type in this article but Bibarel, Diggersby (so bulky, though a maximized bulk Casty can do the trick!), Gliscor, and Cradily… and every single Ghost in Holiday Cup, without exception. Rock Ball also smacks down stuff like Lapras (sometimes with an assist from Energy Ball), Dewgong, Talonflame, Charizard, Alolan Ninetales (with either fast move), Abomasnow, Golbat, and Galvantula, for a start. This is one of the more underrated and underappreciated picks going into Holiday Cup… don’t overlook it!

SNORLAX

Snorlax Normal

Lick | Body Slam & Superpower

As per usual, Snorlax doesn’t have one set role… it just does a number of varied things. Lax has the typing to beat A-Wak and Froslass and Drifblim and Trevor (and actually all Ghosts but Sableye), the bulk to beat Dewgong and outlast even Obstagoon (even if Goonie is running the scary Cross Chop), and Superpower to beat things Normals usually don’t like Magnezone and Alolan Rocks and Alolan Sandslash and Abomasnow. Shadow Snorlax is a different flavor, losing A-Grav, Lanturn, and Goonie to instead beat down Stunfisk, Lapras, Sableye, Golbat, and Dedenne. Both version are among the better safe swaps in the format for the variety of things they can do… and the very limited number of things that truly blow Snorlax out. (Seriously, practically nothing does in this meta, especially non-Shadow Lax.)

VIGOROTH

Vigoroth Normal

Counter | Body Slam & Bulldoze

The other, more expensive quasi-Fighter here, Viggy is not outright better than Obstagoon, as Goonie’s unique Darkness gives it wins against Ghosts (Froslass, A-Wak) and Mandibuzz (thanks to resisting most of its moves) that Vigoroth cannot quite achieve. But Viggy is plenty good in its own right, able to beat Snorlax and Stunfisk as Goonie usually cannot, plus scary-for-Obstagoon Fairies Alolan Ninetales and Dedenne, and Vigoroth also beats Obstagoon itself. (Goonie, by contrast, eliminates many Ghosts and troublesome Darks like Mandi and Sable, as mentioned, plus Skarmory.) Study those differences and pick whichever fill your own team’s holes better. Or perhaps, maybe, consider running both? It’s not the craziest idea in the world…. 🤔

Chansey Normal

I won’t dignify it with a full section, and will reiterate: DO NOT RUN CHANSEY. But if your heart is two sizes too small and you do anyway, you no longer want to do so with the nerfed Pound, but with Zen Headbutt instead. Again though, if you run Chansey, you’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch, and I won’t touch you with a 39-and-a-half foot pole. 😒

MANTINE

Mantine WaterFlying

Bubble/Bullet Seed/Wing Attack | Ice Beam & Bubble Beam

Listed here among the other 75,000 second move Pokémon, but DO take full advantage of the Baby Discount™ if you can (double move a Mantyke for only 10,000 dust and THEN evolve). Mantine is a pretty well known commodity by now. Yes, it basically needs Bubble Beam. Yes, everyone knows that and KNOWS Bubble Beams are coming… and yes, everyone still gets fooled into shielding one eventually anyway. Don’t lie… you know you have too! Mantine actually has to dodge a lot of serious threats here between the various Ices, Rocks, and especially Electrics around, yes, but that hasn’t stopped it from impacting metas before and is unlikely to keep it away now, despite so-so numbers. All three fast moves are pretty equally viable, with Wing Attack obviously being the best versus Grass (nailing Trevenant and Whimsicott the hardest, and uniquely beating Abomasnow), Bubble uniquely outracing Alolan Sandslash and being best versus Fires and stuff like Skarmory that resists the other fast moves, and once-ridiculed Bullet Seed doing well to outrace Talonflame and Whimsicott and others and uniquely beating Wigglytuff. Be ready for a lot of “attack incoming!” quick shield decisions with Mantine.

SKARMORY

Skarmory SteelFlying

Air Slash | Sky Attack & Brave Bird

Not its usual dominant self, but still very good. Grasses still hate it, Fairies still hate it, Altaria and most other Flyers still hate it, and even some prominent Ices like Lapras and Froslass can’t overcome it. Skarm does have to contend with some of its biggest GBL nemeses (that’s plural for nemesis… I know, it looks wrong to me too) that are here to frustrate it, like Stunfisk, A-Wak, Galvantula, Dewgong, and A-Grav. It’s well worth noting that Shadow Skarmory turns the tables on Dewgong and also slays Diggersby and Obstagoon, but S-Skarm does give up Froslass and Drifblim to do it, and drops down to dangerously low HP in wins versus things like Snorlax and Sableye. In either form, Skarmory does more than enough good to see play, and you KNOW how popular it is. Have a good answer.

SHADOW AERODACTYL

Aerodactyl (Shadow) RockFlying

Rock Throw | Rock Slide (& Earth Power, I guess)

Very niche, to the point that I don’t recommend building one for Holiday Cup. But if you’ve built one in the past (like for, say, Flying Cup), it’s interesting here. Other Flyers obviously don’t want to see it, Fires curl up and wait for death when they see it, and even some Ices like Froslass and Lapras and Abomasnow duck and cover (as does Galvantula). It doesn’t have much a role beyond that, but uh… it’s viable, sure.

DRIFBLIM

Drifblim GhostFlying

Hex | Icy Wind & Shadow Ball

I’m including it because this is another pretty popular pick that you can expect to see, and it’s identified as part of the projected core meta by PvPoke and others. (Ironically, at the time of this writing, somehow Drifblim is actually listed TWICE in the “Holiday Cup Meta” list, which as made simming rather interesting, let me tell you. 😅) But Drifblim is disappointingly and surprisingly below average in this meta. It’s basically an anti-Fighter specialist that also gets (most) Grasses and a smattering of other things, but I generally don’t recommend it. I just felt compelled to cover it anyway since it’s listed in several guides. They’re not ALL winners!

MANDIBUZZ

Mandibuzz DarkFlying

Snarl | Aerial Ace & Dark Pulse/Shadow Ball

Also not its usual dominant self, which will happen in a meta with lots of things designed to kill it. (Like Dedenne, the mighty mouse Mandi slayer! 😹) Mandi still does its thing versus Ghosts and stuff like Diggersby, Golbat, Snorlax, and even (Water Gun) Lanturn and Skarmory, but there’s not much to say beyond that. Well, I CAN say that with sneaky Shadow Ball it can top Froslass (rather than Vigoroth that it beats with Dark Pulse or Foul Play), or that Air Slash trades in Skarm, Lanturn, Froslass, and Viggy to pick up Obstagoon, Abomasnow, and Snarl Mandi instead. But none are great… I don’t heartily recommend Mandibuzz this time around, but it’ll show up here and there anyway.

GLISCOR

Gliscor GroundFlying

Wing Attack | Night Slash & Earthquake

In many metas (including the sorta recent Flying Cup), GLIGAR has been the better option here thanks to its bulk and big neutral damage from Return. And while Gligar IS viable, and Return leads to neat wins versus Golbat and Aerodactyl the clear frontrunner this time looks to be Gliscor. It’s all about that Earthquake, really… with it, Gliscor beats Lanturn (with either fast move), Alolan Graveler, Magnezone, and Snorlax, and Gligar simply can’t reliably duplicate those. Also in the win column are the quasi-Fighters, the Electrics, Fires, Trevenant, Diggersby and even the Charmers. Just stay far, FAR away from Ice. 🥶

STUNFISK

Stunfisk GroundElectric

Thunder Shock/Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Discharge

For once, Original Recipe Fisky doesn’t have to keep looking over its shoulder for its steely Galarian cousin and gets to stand on its own two… uh… fins, I guess? Regardless of HOW it does it, stand it does… and standing tall, at that. I do think Thunder Shock is the (very slightly) better fast move here overall for how it adds extra pressure to Waters and Flyers (and specifically beats Drifblim), but there’s plenty to be said for Mud Shot, which makes Lanturn (and other Electrics in general) a much surer win, especially the Alolan Rocks and enemy Stunfisks. Whichever way it goes, Filet O’ Fisk should enjoy Holiday Cup just like it did last year.

AMPHAROS

Ampharos Electric

Volt Switch | Thunder Punch & Thunder/Focus Blast

The thing that is most tempting with Amphy is coverage move Focus Blast, right? Except… it doesn’t have a ton of great targets in this meta. Sure, with an energy lead you could nuke an Alolan Rock or Alolan Sandslash or something you won’t beat otherwise, but I recommend considering humble Thunder too, which comes fast enough and hard-hitting enough to add quasi-Fighters Obstagoon and Vigoroth to the win column. Something to just consider.

SHADOW ELECTIVIRE

Electivire (Shadow) Electric

Thunder Shock | Ice Punch & Wild Charge

If, like John Hammond, you spare no expense, here’s some spice for ya. The one true contribution of Ice Punch is beating Altaria, but that’s enough for it to earn its place over Thunder Punch as the bait move of choice. Beyond that, while Flyers and Waters obviously have much reason to fear ‘Vire, so too do things like Froslass, Alolan Sandslash, Obstagoon, Vigoroth, Sableye and others who just can’t stand that kind of hard-hitting, speedy, neutral damage abuse.

Oh, and speaking of Sableye….

SABLEYE

Sableye DarkGhost

Shadow Claw | Foul Play & Power Gem/Returnᴸ

Alright, I know you’re out there… players who have clung to their Power Gem Sableyes like the precious stones Sableye itself prizes. Well here it is, folks: Power Gem Sableye’s moment in the sun. It’s no world-beater or anything, but Power Gem allows Sable to sneak away with wins over Abomasnow and Mandibuzz (and I DO mean sneak… we’re talking less than 5 HP remaining, but still!), whereas the more widely accepted Return Sable has only Lanturn to claim as its standout, unique win. Enjoy, PG Sable lovers everywhere. Here is your last best chance to get some use out of ’em! (Not Shadow Sableye though… sorry!)

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

ARTICUNO

Articuno IceFlying

Ice Shard | Icy Wind & Hurricaneᴸ/Ice Beam

The Flying secondary typing of the Legendary Birds is more bane than boon in this particular format, but there’s a decent chance you’ve already built an Artie for other past formats, and if so, you can certainly deploy it here if you want to. It doesn’t do anything particularly special compared to other Ice types aside from obviously being much better against Fighters (typically beating things like Obstagoon and Vigoroth) and having an obvious edge over Diggersby, but there’s nothing wrong with it, per se. Shadow Articuno gives up Wigglytuff, Froslass, and Trevenant (due to Artie’s nerfed bulk)… non-Shadow is the version that gets my endorsement.

ZAPDOS

Zapdos ElectricFlying

Thunder Shockᴸ | Drill Peck & Thunder (non-Shadow)/Thunderbolt (Shadow)

Again, that Flying half does more harm than good. It DOES make Zapdos better against Grasses and Grounds (along with Drill Peck, of course), and that’s not nothing. But as you can see just from the results (with normal OR with Shadow Zapdos), overall you’re probably better with another, cheaper Electric alternative. Unless you’re just in it for the spice, in which case you get a hearty thumbs up.

HO-OH

Ho-Oh FireFlying

Incinerate | Earthquakeᴸ & Brave Bird

For the lucky few who have managed to squeeze Ho-Oh under 1500 CP, rejoice, for behold: it is a viable option at last! All the moves put in work, with Incinerate burning through Ices and Steels and Grasses, Earthquake rolling over things like Alolan Marowak, the quasi-Fighters, and Snorlax, and Brave Bird being the glue that holds it together and closes out many matches like Talonflame and Diggersby. But of course, many more of us now have a Great League Ho-Oh than last year… Shadow Ho-Oh, to be precise. And while it’s not ALL sunshine and roses — the lower bulk means Ho-Oh goes from comfortable wins over Vigoroth, Alolan Marowak, and Drifblim to nailbiters, though they DO remain wins — Shadoh-Ho is now capable of four new wins against the core meta: Galvantula, Mandibuzz, Trevenant, and Altaria. Hot! 🔥

REGICE

Regice Ice

Lock-On | Blizzard & Earthquake/Focus Blast

Hmmmm, now THIS is an interesting Legendary. Most of us have run across our fair share of Lock-On Registeels and know how quickly it can spam out its normally-slow charge moves. What if I told you that Regice’s Earthquake comes cheaper than Registeel’s Flash Cannon, and its Blizzard comes as fast as (and with more damage than) Steel’s Focus Blast? Both moves are also just better in this meta too, with Blizzard obviously smashing Flyers and Grasses and Grounds, and Earthquake shaking down Fires and Electrics. Between them, you have a very wide swath of the Holiday Cup meta covered and perhaps a rare opportunity for a Regi OTHER than Steel to break out. It’s not without its obvious downsides, of course, mainly due to that awful mono-Ice typing. To reiterate and repeat, unlike Registeel, which resists eleven typings and is weak to only three (Ground, Fire, Fighting), Regice’s pure Ice typing means it resists only one typing (other Ices) and is weak to Fighting, Fire, Rock, and Steel, all of which make a showing (often multiple showings) in the core meta here. Regice does a lot of good things…beating Altaria, A-Slash, Stunfisk, Galvantula, Diggersby, Mandibuzz, Talonflame, Magnezone, Lapras, Abomasnow and others is not a grouping many things can tackle all at once, in addition to tying Alolan Marowak too, but Regice can do ALL of that. Or for a slightly different flavor, dropping Earthquake for Focus Blast leads to losses versus Lanturn and Magnezone (who are weak to Earthquake) and Trevenant (where Earthquake is actually a bait move, if you can believe it!), but also wins versus Fighting-weak Dewgong and Abomasnow. Regice’s effectiveness can drop off dramatically if behind on shields (or if the opponent is just willing to burn theirs) since Lock-On itself doesn’t even do chip damage well, and there are still many meta Fighters and Fires and Waters and Ices and even Rocks that melt or shatter it. But if ever Regice was going to claim the title of King of the Regis for a period of time, THIS is it.

FEELIN’ LUCKY?

In this extra section, I cover a few mons that are no less “nifty” than those in the main article above, but require maxing out to Level 40 or going beyond and dipping into Candy XL, so they are FAR from “thrifty”!

DIGGERSBY

Diggersby NormalGround

Mud Shot | Fire Punch & Hyper Beam/Earthquake

Last year’s Holiday Cup was the first big opportunity for the then-new Diggersby to make an impact, and it crashed onto the scene in a big way. No reason to expect a regression this time. Diggs still comes with handy double resistances to Ghost and Electric (and it resists Rock and Poison too) that allow it to dominate most Ghosts (and things that rely on Ghost damage, like Licking, Hexing, or Clawing Normals) and Electrics with no issues. But it is its incredible bulk that really makes it awesome, outlasting stuff like Alolan Sandslash, Skarmory, Whimsicott, and Wigglytuff through sheer force of a will (and some helpful Fire Punching along the way). None of that is probably particularly shocking, so let me throw this curveball: I recommend running [Hyper Beam]() instead of Earthquake. No, between this and Obstagoon AND Electrode, it may seem I am oddly jonesing for Hyper Beam, but I can’t ignore the numbers. With Diggersby, it can directly lead to wins over Golbat and Mandibuzz (which makes sense, with Earthquake being resisted) and also Obstagoon (which is BIG for a Normal type like Diggersby). The tradeoff is no longer beating CharmTales (Earthquake has the right mix of relative speed and raw power to clinch that one), but the argument for Beam seems clear to me. Just think about it, alright? Do it for your ol’ buddy JRE!

LICKITUNG

Lickitung Normal

Lick | Body Slamᴸ & Power Whip

No hiding the fact that the XL system has greatly benefitted Lickitung, adding Altaria, Dewgong, Dedenne, Lapras, and WG Lanturn to the win column (along with CharmTales for #1 IV Licki). Lickitung has a nice combination of moves for this meta, with a big Grass move that stands out versus Grounds and Waters and the Lick/Body Slam combo that handles a good swath of the rest of the meta well (Ghosts in particular, obviously). You may not have one yourself, but be prepared to stare them down frequently and know how to deal with it. It may be out in Kanto Cup-esque numbers.

PACHIRISU

Pachirisu Electric

Volt Switch | Thunder Punch & Thunder

NOT likely to be out in large numbers, just because this is one of the harder to acquire regionals in the game. Shame, because Pachi is awesome in PvP, definitely inclduing Holiday Cup. What it lacks in coverage it makes up for in sheer bulk, simply outlasting stuff like Froslass, Obstagoon, Wigglytuff, Snorlax, Vigoroth, Alolan Marowak, and even Electric-resistant Whimsicott while it executes its primary role of Water/Flying destruction near perfectly (only Gliscor and Altaria escape its grasp… all other Flyers and Waters fall before it). If you’re lucky enough to have one, you almost HAVE to use it here.

ALOLAN SANDSHREW

Sandshrew (Alola) IceSteel

Powder Snow | Night Slash & Blizzard

A very popular XL build already, and worth using here, definitely. Night Slash is a handy way to slap around the format’s Ghosts in addition to capably locking down the standard Ice role. Note how it even beats Alolan Ninetales! Scrappy little guy.

Conclusion

Holy smokes, that was a marathon. Believe me, as long as it took you to read this, it took me days and days to analyze and write. I am now ready for MY holiday vacation! 😄 But no rest for the weary… next up is an analysis on the December Community Day weekend, which I need to finish in the next 48 hours! 😱

I do apologize for the length of this… I know that’s not for everyone. But if you slogged through, I do hope this helps you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!) and put together a competitive and FUN team. If I was successful in that, then it was all worth it. That is WHY it’s so long anyway, as there are so many neat options in this large meta, and many more than you’ll see on any infographic or other summaries. They certainly have their place — and I am sure we’ll get many in the coming days! — but to paraphrase that old Grinch, maybe a comprehensive analysis like this one, perhaps, is a little bit more.

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading, especially those of you who took the time to read it ALL! I sincerely hope this helps you master Holiday Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time… and Happy Holidays, Pokéfriends!

(Original article can be found here.)

(Artwork by arkeis-pokemon, modified by JRE.)

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