Nifty Or Thrifty: Little Jungle Cup

The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: Little Jungle 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 less powering 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. We all want to field competitive teams, but where can we get the best bang for our buck?

It can be hard to psyche yourself up to really invest much in a format like this… I mean, Little League formats are clearly here to stay, but they’ve been varied enough that any investments here may have a looooong gap before you can use them again. So as I usually do, I’ll start with those with the cheapest second move unlock cost and work our way up, and try to put even a little more emphasis than usual on the “thriftiest” stuff. Gonna to try to be comprehensive with this, but can’t go into detail on everything I want to. To that end, I will only be highlighting Shadow versions when they’re particularly relevant… many are worse, and that’s what you can infer if I don’t talk about them.

So let’s see what I can squeeze in… here we go!

(Updated for Little Jungle Cup during the Season of Hidden Gems, August 2023. New relevant ‘mons [and moves] have been added and marked as NEW throughout, so be on the lookout for those as you scroll!)

10,000 Dust/25 Candy


Cottonee GrassFairy

Charm | Seed Bomb & Grass Knot

Here’s one that HAS managed to be a steady presence in Little League, to the point that many players already have one built and ready to go. And that’s good, because Cottonee has an insane 78% win rate versus everything in the format. It’s a bit less scary when you stack it up against the core meta — the things you’re most likely to actually face — but that is in large part because the core meta is formed in part around what can take down Cottonee because it’s so good. Note how, other than Onix and Lickitung, everything in the loss column in the core meta deals super effective (Poison, Ice, Fire, and/or Steel) or steady neutral Bug damage to Cottonee. That’s really the only way to beat it. Charm, combined with Cotton’s tankiness and just enough shield pressure from Seed Bomb especially means that it wins basically all neutral-on-neutral matchups, even against things that resist Charm like Victreebel, Haunter, Magnezone and more.

Whimsicott GrassFairy

If you have a REALLY tiny Cotton, you can instead build a small WHIMSICOTT which is actually quite similar in performance, but has higher Attack and less bulk. That means that, unlike Cottonee, it can outrace Abomasnow and Swinub, but loses to Wigglytuff and Galarian Stunfisk that Cotton tends to beat. I think I still lean towards Cottonee, personally.


Wigglytuff NormalFairy

Charm | Ice Beam & Disarming Voice

The other true Charmer in this meta, Wigglytuff has the potential for similar success as compared to Cottonee… if you can find one small enough, of course. (We’re talking under Level 10, usually.) It’s not as bulky as Cotton (though slightly bulkier than Whimsie), and lacks Cottonee’s Ground resistance, so Wiggly loses to G-Fisk and Chansey (Cotton beats both), and loses the head to head with Cottonee too. However, not having Cottonee’s Grass subtyping means Wiggly doesn’t have to worry about Flying, Bug, or Ice damage nearly as much, and it beats stuff that Cottonee cannot like Ducklett, Abomasnow, Swinub, and Shelmet as a result, as well as Onix by just outdamaging it. I’m not going to sit here and say that Wiggly is better… beating G-Fisk is a big enough reason to strongly consider Cottonee instead. But Wiggly is no slouch, and a fine alternative if you don’t want the headaches that come with having Cotton’s Grass typing… or want to run an evil multi-Charmer team. shudder New move Disarming Voice doesn’t show drastic improvement in the sims, but finally gives it a charge move under 55 energy (actually only 45 energy), which only helps!


Altaria DragonFlying

Dragon Breath | Sky Attack & Dragon Pulse/Moonblastᴸ

It may be hard enough to get one of these ahead of time already, seeing as how it costs 400 candy to evolve and you may not even have a Swablu small enough for the resulting evolved Altaria to slip in below 500 CP anyway. But another unfortunate wrinkle: IVs matter quite a bit here too. An average Altaria (with high Defense and HP IVs but average Attack) looks notably less effective than an Altaria with good PvP IVs. The differences, by the way, are Deino and Shadow Stunky, and really good IV Altaria can also overcome Vigoroth, so maybe those aren’t such a big deal for you. But the better IVs you can find ahead of time (low Attack, high D/HP), the better. Maybe try some trading, because Altaria has an overall win percentage JUST below Cottonee. Despite being critically weak to Charmers like Cotton, Altaria is very legit in this meta. (Sadly not so for Swablu, however.)


Pyroar FireNormal

Fire Fang | Flame Charge & Overheat

There are precious few ways to deal with Cottonee AND G-Fisk, but Fire is one of them, and Pyroar is the best Fire in this format (or at least was until the rise of Charizard!), easily clearing Cotton and G-Fisk (though it does need a shield for the latter), as well as burning through every single Steel and Ice type, all Bugs but Crustle and Dwebble, and all Grasses except Lotad/Lombre/Ludicolo and Alolan Exeggutor, none of which should be particularly prevalent in this meta. And as a bonus, it can burn down Golbat and even the mighty Chansey too. Still, Pyroar is admittedly quite niche… though it’s a critically important niche.

Litleo FireNormal

You may have trouble (as I am!) finding a LITLEO small enough to evolve to a sub-500 CP Pyroar, but yes, you can use Litleo itself in a similar role.


Charizard FireFlying

Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ/Overheat

You need a tiny one — I’m talking like Level 6 or so — but man, is it worth it now with Wing Attack. Last time in LJC, Charizard was just mediocre, stuck at the time with Fire Spin, which left it actually losing to things like Togekiss, Wigglytuff, and sometimes even Cottonee. Wing Attack brings all of those into the win column, along with Altaria, Golbat, Nidoqueen, Lickitung, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Vigoroth, Litleo, and even Pelipper, Wooper, and Swampert! The Wing Attack/Dragon Claw spam alone is unreal, but Wing Attack allows Charizard to reach Blast Burn MUCH more reliably than last time through LJC, or Overheat which works nearly as well (just missing out on things like Steelix and Chansey) if you (quite understandably) don’t have such a tiny Zard with its exclusive move and don’t want to burn an Elite TM on one. Do keep in mind that Shadow is not possible due to being too high level to fit under 500 CP.

Talonflame FireFlying

Other Flying Birds like TALONFLAME or even FLETCHINDER work too, but the latter usually loses to G-Fisk, so keep that firmly in mind. Not too surprisingly, for the record, Talonflame is the best of all with shields down, but NONE of them can overcome G-Fisk without having a shield to throw up against Rock Slide.


Barboach WaterGround

Mud Shot | Aqua Tail & Ice Beam

A Mud Boy makes total sense as a G-Fisk slayer, of course, but as something that can beat Cottonee too? Yes and no. With Ice Beam, Barboach has a great way to threaten Cottonee and other Grasses, but with lower Attack IVs, typically the preferred spread in PvP, it fails to get the job done. What you want instead is a Barboach with relatively high Attack, which wins CMP versus most Obstagoons and flips that to a win, deals enough damage to Swinub with Aqua Tail to finish it off before it can reach a KO charge move of its own, and yes, just manages now to outrace Cottonee too. This all in addition to already decimating G-Fisk and beating a wide variety of Poisons, Fires, Grounds, Dragons, and Flyers. If you have a Barboach with good Attack, run it through some of those sims and see if it can achieve those high marks, because if it can, it’s very, very solid in the Little Jungle and probably the best Mud Boy here.

Swampert WaterGround

PvPoke also likes to recommend SWAMPERT, and while it’s pretty easy to see why, as with Charizard you have to have a REALLY low level one, and unlike Charizard it simply HAS to have its exclusive move — Hydro Cannon — to work well. With Surf instead it no longer has sufficient punch to beat Golbat, Scrafty, or Chansey. Viable still, but at that point you’re probably better off with Boach or Wooper or the like. I don’t recommend building a Swampert just for this format… but do be prepared to face a few and plan accordingly. Do note that the answer to the question of “can Sludge Wave beat Cottonee?” is a very clear no unless it just doesn’t shield for some reason. Too slow and too frail. MAYBE a small WHISCASH instead, as it at least has Blizzard than potentially CAN beat Cottonee.


Diggersby GroundNormal

Mud Shot | Fire Punch & Earthquake

Might be easier to build from scratch if you’ve been stockpiling Bunnelby candy, as Diggs clocks in around Level 12 or 13 at Little League size, twice the level of stuff like Swampert. And while Diggs is also sadly incapable of overcoming Cottonee, it gets darn close thanks to Fire Punch, and does plenty of other good besides. It’s not ranked impressively high, but I think Diggs could be a BIG player in this meta… and unlike Great League, you don’t have to sell a major appendage to build it!


Beedrill BugPoison

Poison Jab | X-Scissor & Drill Runᴸ

And the other side of the coin, as Bee easily beats Cottonee and others, but has to have an energy lead or something to have a shot at G-FiskShadow Bee may be better (gaining Umbreon and sometimes Chansey) but still suffers from the same problem: likely burning an Elite TM to build, and really only handling half of the Cotton-Fisk core while merely threatening the other half. It’s a problem that’s even more extreme for things like ARIADOSSPINARAK, and other Poisonous Bugs. They have a place, but they’re limited.


Bulbasaur GrassPoison

Vine Whip | Seed Bomb & Power Whip/Sludge Bomb

Which is where little Bulbasaur comes in. The first thought is that surely you want to run Sludge Bomb to deal with Cottonee, right? Actually, Bulba can beat the Cotton Ball with just Grass moves, and it NEEDS Power Whip to reliably get G-Fisk in time too. So Power Whip/Sludge Bomb then, right? Well, NOW you miss out on Scrafty, Toxicroak, Vigoroth, and Obstagoon without the relative speed of Seed Bomb. I think Seed Bomb/Power Whip is the best compromise, trading theoretical coverage (and a wider margin of victory over Cottonee) for reliability and best overall utility. Hopefully you have a Bulbasaur from Element Cup that’s just a TM away from being ready here.

Or one other option, while we’re on the topic: Shadow Bulbasaur actually CAN mostly get away with running Seed Bomb/Sludge Bomb, as it can finish off G-Fisk without Power Whip, reliably handle Cottonee, and beat everything non-Shadow, all-Grass Bulba can except Umbreon. If you have a Shadow Bulba to use, that’s the way to go with it.

There are other Grass starters that work here too, of course, including CHIKORITATURTWIG (best as a Shadow), TORTERRA (no exclusive move required!), and others, but Bulbasaur really stands out here as the best, even moreso than Frenzy Plant VENUSAUR.


Dubwool Normal

Double Kick | Body Slam & Payback/Wild Charge

If you planned ahead and got a Dubwool small enough for Little League, props. You’re about to be rewarded. If, like me, you did not… well, come have a cold one with me. For you forward-thinkers, I recommend running it not with Wild Charge, but with Payback. While it is true that Wild Charge smacks Ducklett out of the sky, only with the big neutral closing power (and no self-nerfing) of Payback can Dubstep instead take down things like Galarian Stunfisk, Steelix, Wooper, and Onix.


Pikachu (Libre) Electric

Thunder Shock/Charm | Flying Press & Thunder Punch

In perhaps the ultimate case of have-or-have-not, we have the Legend tier reward for GBL for the last several seasons… and that’s been the ONLY way to get Libre at all. Even further, if you have one with too high IVs, it won’t fit under 500 CP, so you need one with something like 10-12-11 IVs or lower for it to even work. (looks sadly at my own Libres, none under 500 CP 😭) If you meet all those criteria, then yes, you have a pretty nice little weapon on your hands… a solid Electric that can also rough up G-Fisk, Swinub, Aboma, and numerous Normals (including Chansey!) and Darks, all thanks to the overpowered Flying Press. But Libre can do more than that… you can legit run it as a Charmer! In that configuration, it gives up G-Fisk, Swinub, several Flyers (Ducklett, Golbat, Skarmory), and Chansey to instead beat Altaria, Deino, Umbreon, Swampert, and Shadow Stunky and REALLY dominate Obstagoon, Scrafty, and Toxicroak instead of the tight races they were before.

There are other Pikachu varieties that are fun, but not quite as useful. ROCK STAR can also work as a classic Electric or Charmer and do good, but neither have any chance against G-Fisk and the only way it even takes advantage of Meteor Mash versus Cottonee is if Cotton just fails to shieldPOP STAR really only works as a Charmer. FLYING just doesn’t really work at all, failing to beat even a shieldless Cottonee. REGULAR PIKACHU actually works out pretty well… IF it has Legacy, first-ever-Community-Day-move Surf, with which it can beat Swinub, Onix, Nidoqueen, and Toxicroak… though sadly not G-Fisk without a shield or serious energy advantage. And all that is all WAY more than I ever expected to type about Pikachu in PvP! 😤


Golbat PoisonFlying

Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball

Again, gotta be kinda small (under Level 10, usually), but at least you don’t need any fancy Legacy moves or anything. Golbat is actually probably one the very easiest things to go out and build fresh for this meta and do a lot for you, obviously shredding Fairies and Grasses and Bugs, but also capably handling Fighters, enemy Flyers (Altaria, Ducklett, and even Skarmory!), the great evil known as Chansey, and even fighting Nidoqueen to a standstill. Shadow Bat is an interesting sidegrade, flimsier and therefore a bit shakier overall, but it beats everything normal Golbat can except for Altaria, and actually can beat Aboma to compensate. Either way you go, Golbat is a great filler.

Zubat PoisonFlying

Also perfectly viable is pre-evolution ZUBAT, provided you have a purified one with the closing power of Return. It’s a different flavor of Golbat, trading in Wooper, Scrafty, Ducklett, and Skarmory that Golbat beats to instead take out Umbreon, Mandibuzz, Pyroar, and potentially Deino too. And being purified obviously means it’s a lot cheaper to power up too, so yay!


Noctowl NormalFlying

Wing Attack | Sky Attack & Shadow Ball

Noctowl was kinda-sorta interesting before, but now that it comes packing Shadow Ball, I think it’s worthy of another look. Just like in Great League, Shadow Ball allows Noctowl to straight up beat Galarian Stunfisk (even without any baiting with Sky Attack!), which alone is good enough for me to give it a thumbs up. The fact that it can also beat Skarmory now (and again, with just straight Shadow Ball if you want to) is just a sweet, sweet bonus. There’s finally reasons to run it rather than Hoothoot at this level.


Crustle BugRock

Fury Cutter | Rock Slide & X-Scissor

There are certainly cases for Smack Down (wins over Ducklett and Pyroar, for example), but Fury Cutter is just better here, leading to wins over Scrafty, Deino, Obstagoon, Nidoqueen, Vigoroth, Swinub, and Shelmet. It’s a very nice performance, but unfortunately it cannot overcome Cottonee (and of course falls way short versus G-Fisk too).

Dwebble BugRock

If you want Smack Down, you may as well just run DWEBBLE, who actually does everything SD Crustle does except it beats Deino instead of Chansey.


Wormadam (Trash) BugSteel

Bug Bite/Confusion | Iron Head & Bug Buzz

Two different ways you can go here: Bug Bite for Darks (beating Umbreon, Obstagoon, and Deino), or Confusion for big neutral damage and super effective wins over Poisons like Toxicroak, Skorupi, Nidoqueen, and Golbat. Either way, Trashy is a reliable counter to stuff like Shelmet, Abomasnow, Chansey, and yes, Cottonee. Which variety would fit YOUR team better?


Swalot Poison

Infestation | Ice Beam & Acid Spray/Sludge Bomb

Not surprisingly, one of the best counters to Cottonee (and Wigglytuff, for that matter), but with the bonus of also beating several other Cotton counters like Nidoqueen, Golbat, Shelmet, and Pyroar, making it a decent bodyguard for your own Charmer, should you run one. Big bonuses like Obstagoon, Mandibuzz, Abomasnow, Swinub, and Altaria are just icing on the cake.

50,000 Dust/50 Candy


Swinub IceGround

Powder Snow | Icy Wind & Returnᴸ/Body Slam

It doesn’t do it easily, but Swinub CAN beat G-Fisk from an even start (it gets a lot easier with top notch IVs, and handles Cottonee and a host of Flyers, Dragons, and/or Grounds, plus Umbreon, Chansey, and Shelmet as bonuses. Ice/Ground still isn’t a great defensive typing, being weak to a LOT of things, but in this meta it’s not TOO big a glaring hole. Nubbie has got some NICE moves to work with here, and I recommend Return for its closing power where possible (necessary to get those Chansey and Shelmet wins, and provides the power to beat Wooper and win the mirror match too). Shadow Nubbie is a little bit worse, mostly due to not being able to use Return and having to settle for Body Slam instead.


Wooper WaterGround

Mud Shot | Returnᴸ & Mud Bomb/Body Slam

Similarly, Wooper really only looks interesting when you have Return as a closing move, so here we’re talking purified Wooper only. Mud Bomb is necessary to guarantee G-Fisk, but overall better is Body Slam, which can instead beat Golbat, Obstagoon, and even Mandibuzz. The hope if you go with that gutsy play is that G-Fisk will try to avoid Wooper anyway, thinking you MUST have Mud to fling. (And with high enough Attack you can still beat G-Fisk even without Mud wthout giving up anything, so there’s that to consider too!)


Qwilfish WaterPoison

Poison Sting/Water Gun | Aqua Tail & Ice Beam

Poison and Water… must mean it can take down G-Fisk AND Cottonee, right? Yes, just not both at the same time. Qwil is best with Poison Sting, handling Cotton and Wiggly, Fighters, Flyers (thanks, Ice Beam!), Fires, and Grounds (Nidoqueen, Swinub)… just not G-Fisk. To do THAT, you need to run Water Gun, but you lose a boatload of other wins in the process. If you have no other way to handle G-Fisk, then sure, go for it. But I really think it’s Sting Qwil or nothing, IMO.

SKRELP is best off running Water Gun AND a good Poison move (Sludge Bomb), and while it comfortably beats Cottonee and many of the same things Qwilfish does, even with Water Gun and Aqua Tail, it still fails to overcome G-Fisk. Arrrrrgh. Same with Tentacool and Tentacruel, which are even worse. That CottonFisk core is tough to break with any one Pokémon.


Toxicroak PoisonFighting

Counter | Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb

One of few true Fighters here, so does Fighter things, beating up Darks, Steels, Normals, and Ices. But no, not even with Poison Jab instead of Counter does it manage to overcome Cottonee… though it has to be wary of a Toxicroak with energy, of course, as Sludge Bomb is a clear and present danger.

Croagunk PoisonFighting

CROAGUNK does beat Cottonee and present an interesting alternative, but has the opposite problem: it can’t overcome G-Fisk, or Pyroar or others that Toxicroak’s Counter damage can.


Gloom (Shadow) GrassPoison

Oddish (Shadow) GrassPoison

Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb & Moonblast/Seed Bomb

So this is about as good as it gets for Razor Leafers in Little Jungle Cup. A number of good things, like shredding G-Fisk and most every other Ground, plus Fighters and Chansey and Wigglytuff… but not Cottonee. You’d hope their Poison half would turn that around, but unless they somehow manage to drop a Sludge Bomb on Cotton, it’s a no go. Drat.


Lurantis Grass

Fury Cutter | Leaf Blade & Superpower

Does most of the Grass things you’d want it to, but has special standout wins over things like Swinub, Abomasnow, Chansey, Galarian Stunfisk, and others thanks in large part to Superpower. Fomantis does much of the same without Fighting coverage, trading Umbreon for a win versus Scrafty instead, and is equally viable if you just want to play with the newer toys.


Abomasnow GrassIce

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Energy Ball

Similar frustrations here… you can get Cottonee with regular Aboma, but it can’t finish off G-Fisk fast enough. Shadowbama does outrace G-Fisk, but is now too frail to survive Cottonee. Flyers and Grounds and Dragons fall either way, sure, but it’s frustrating that one of the big fishes always gets away.


Lombre WaterGrass

Bubble | Bubble Beam & Ice Beam

Aha! Under the right circumstances, Lombre is the only member of the Lotad/Ludicolo family that CAN actually overcome G-Fisk AND Cottonee, though it needs pretty high Attack to KO Cotton with Ice Beam, AND needs to bait a shield fro, it with Bubble Beam first. We’ll call it “spice”, eh? The others are better off running with Razor Leaf and have their place, just not as potential anti-Cotton contributors.


Ducklett WaterFlying

Water Gun/Wing Attack | Bubble Beam & Brave Bird/Aerial Ace

Now I KNOW you remember this guy from the last Little League format we had. Probably hoped to never see it again. Sorry to disappoint, but you can expect to, because with Water Gun it pretty easily overcomes G-Fisk, and with Brave Bird it can ALSO take out Cottonee, so add it to the elite club of things that can knock out both. As with Lombre, it takes a Bubble Beam bait to get Cotton, but still. You can play things a lot safer with Aerial Ace instead and not have to worry about BB’s severe nerf (and actually gain Obstagoon and Skorupi that way), but Cotton slips away. Or you can even run a more Element Cup-esque set with Wing Attack and make Cotton easier (and pick up Aboma and Altaria), but then you lose G-Fisk and other Grounds. Decisions, decisions. 🤔 At least the decision of whether or not SOME version of Ducklett is worth using here is an easy “yes”.


Chinchou WaterElectric

Spark/Bubble | Bubble Beam & Thunderbolt

Another carryover from Element Cup, Chou definitely has a place here, it’s just in cleaning up the riff-raff… even with Bubble, it’s not beating G-Fisk… not unless you replace Thunderbolt with the horrible Water Pulse. (Don’t do that… it’s not worth it.) Chinchou is good filler, especially if you already have one floating around.


Dedenne ElectricFairy

Thunder Shock | Discharge & Play Rough

One of the more exciting new Pokemon last time, despite failing hard versus G-Fisk and Cottonee, because of how it does all the stuff you’d want an Electric to do (mostly clearing out Flyers and Waters) AND slams the door on Darks, Fighters, and Dragons, all in one very handy (and cute!) little package.


Scrafty DarkFighting

Counter | Power-Up Punch & Foul Play

Probably needs no introduction anymore, as it has now entrenched itself — for better or for worse — in Great AND Ultra Leagues, so why not Little League too? Obviously this takes a wild-caught Scraggy to evolve and fit, so not everybody is going to have even the chance to make one for this format, but for those that can, it’s as good as you’d expect at terrorizing G-Fisk, Darks, Ices, Normals, Rocks… you know, all the normal Fighting stuff. Foul Play doesn’t do as much as you may be used to here, but it’s at least a good weapon to throw at Poisons and such.


Breloom GrassFighting

Counter | Seed Bomb & Sludge Bomb/Dynamic Punch

Conveniently resists G-Fisk’s Ground AND Rock moves… it’s ranked as a Top Five G-Fisk counter in this meta, and the other four don’t have much play otherwise, but Breloom does. It fends off Darks, Ices, Normals, and Rocks as you’d expect a Fighter to do, but also conveniently resists Water and Grass, which help it beat stuff like Swampert and the majority of Grasses too.


Heracross BugFighting

Counter | Rock Blast & Megahorn/Close Combat

IF you have one small enough, yes, Heracross works here fine. Unlike Loom, it beats Toxicroak, Wooper, and with Close Combat, Shelmet, but unlike Loom, loses to Swampert and Onix (as it doesn’t resist Water or Rock).


Escavalier BugSteel

Counter | Drill Run & Aerial Ace

On paper, Escav should be a PERFECT fit for this meta: Counter and Drill Run for G-Fisk, Aerial Ace and a resistance to Charm for Cottonee. (Megahorn is a little too slow.) But unfortunately, even with top notch IVs, it falls short against both, though it does enough good to still consider using and just hope for an energy lead should G-Fisk or Cotton show themselves later. It gets just one or two fast moves away from beating both. 😞

Karrablast Bug

Pre-evolution KARRABLAST actually does manage to KO G-Fisk with its own Drill Run, but despite having Bug fast AND charge moves, can’t beat Cottonee.


Shelmet Bug

Infestation | Body Slam & Bug Buzz

Yes, Bug Buzz is a little slow, but it’s THE way for Shelmet to take out Cottonee. Beyond that, Shelmet is a solid contributor that hates on Bugs, Grasses, and Grounds (unfortunately not named “Galarian Stunfisk”… Rock Slide dooms it). Needing to be in the mid-20s and with its second move costing 50,000 dust, it’s more expensive than the many 10k Bugs, but it DOES seem worth it.


Haunter GhostPoison

Gengar GhostPoison

Shadow Claw | Shadow Punchᴸ & Sludge Bomb

Not Shadow Ball? 🤔 Stick with me here. Sludge Bomb is better in this meta, because it pulls in wins against things that resist Ghost damage: Umbreon, Mandibuzz, and Chansey. That all said, while the win total looks quite nice, especially with high rank IVs 👀 (with new but close wins over Golbat, Skorupi, and Ducklett), be cautious: a number of those wins leave Haunter/Gengar with less than 10 (sometimes less than 5) HP, so they can swing depending on opponent IVs, lag, or other factors. But yes, I think the OG Ghosts do enough to keep up their role of handy generalists. (Gengar, by the way, wins many of those matchups more efficiently, AKA with more remaining HP, but it has trouble overcoming Umbreon like Haunter does.)


Nidoqueen PoisonGround

Poison Jab | Poison Jab & Earth Power

Run-of-the-mill IVs are fine, but if it’s possible to get, a decent Attack Queen or high rank IV Queen can turn a tie against Golbat into a win, with the high Attack version also winning the mirror but losing to Umbreon. Queen handles Charmers and Grasses and Fighters and many other things, but needs some luck or a shield advantage to tangle with G-Fisk and most other Grounds, Waters, Ices, and Flyers.


Nidorina Poison

Poison Sting | Poison Jab & Thunderbolt/Sludge Bomb

Running off Poison Fang and now Poison Sting, Nidorina used to have to rely on an all-Poison moveset with Sludge Bomb as its closer. But now with Thunderbolt in the mix, it does give up Vigoroth and Deino (which Bomb could beat), but gains new wins versus Chansey and a slew of Flyers (Golbat, Skarmory, Noctowl, and Ducklett among them). Boltarina is a very intriguing option now in this meta!

Nidoran (F) Poison

NIDORAN♀️ is able to utilize Return for her closing move and beating Nidoqueen, Golbat, Mandibuzz, Pyroar, Shelmet, Umbreon, and Swinub with it, many of those being beyond even Nidoqueen’s grasp. If you have a good Shadow one that you can purify, now would be the time, but do note that NOT all IV spreads will work for a purified, Level 25 Nidoran♀️… some will end up over 500 CP. Check before you purify!

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

Space is getting tight, and I really am trying to highlight how do play this format CHEAPLY (thrifty!) anyway, so other than the first couple entries here, I’m gonna go through these rapid fire.


Stunfisk (Galarian) GroundSteel

Mud Shot | Rock Slide & Flash Cannon/Earthquake

HAVE to go somewhat in depth on this one, as much as I’ve mentioned it. Because yes, it really IS that good. It’s actually kind of stupid the number of things that can’t overcome G-Fisk… you need to bring a pretty dedicated counter to take it out. Learn the matchups, search for “G-Fisk” in this article to pluck out the things I’ve written about that can beat it (I have tried to point most of them out specifically!), and get ready. Because whether you have one or not, most everyone that DOES have a sub-500 CP G-Fisky is surely going to toss it out there. Here’s the one tidbit I will specifically give you: anyone that runs one will do so with Flash Cannon if they’re particularly clever, as it beats everything that Earthquake does in 1v1 shielding (and everything but Chansey and Wooper in 0-shield)… plus Cottonee. 😱


Steelix SteelGround

Thunder Fang/Dragon Tail | Psychic Fangs & Heavy Slam/Crunch

You had me at Thunder Fang. I don’t have to tell you why that’s such a big deal in this Ducklett-dominated meta, do I? Even with that, Steelix didn’t do quite enough last time for me to include, but with the addition of Psychic Fangs, I think it’s ready for a breakout. Not only does Thunder Fang shred Waters (all of them except Mud Boys, Lotad, and Lanturn/Chinchou) and Flyers (again, all except Grounds and a couple Grassy Flyers) as you’d expect, but it’s just as good as Dragon Tail at things you would NOT expect, like beating Altaria, Onix, Whimsicott, and many more. I recommend Fang myself, but Dragon Tail DOES make a strong case by — instead of beating Flyers like Pelipper, Skarmory, and of course Ducklett — taking down stuff like Swinub, Deino, Nidoqueen, and Shelmet instead. For the second charge move, I generally lean Heavy Slam here for the hate it brings to Fairies and wide neutral coverage, but Crunch works okay too and can flip games when that debuff goes off!

And the rest….

Now the rapid fire to bring it home:

Skorupi PoisonBug
  • SKORUPI may not be on a lot of radars, but should be. Of course it does normal Poison things, like beating Chamers and Grasses and Fighters, and Bug things like chewing through Darks, but fun fact: with just ONE fast move’s worth of energy lead, it has the potential to Aqua Tail G-Fisk to death too, along with several others like Pyroar, Onix, Shadow Stunky, Deino, and Nidoran♀️. I call that pretty nifty!
Onix RockGround
  • ONIX has no inherant advantages versus Cottonee but wins anyway, along with doing Rock things (smashing Flyers, Bugs, Poisons, Ices) and outlasting tanks like Umbreon, Chansey, and the aforementioned Cotton Ball. G-Fisk makes it sad, but Onix can tangle with a LOT in this meta thanks in part to its ridonkulous Defense.
Stunfisk GroundElectric
  • G-Fisk is all the rage, but original STUNFISK is still good too, and usually beats G-Fisk straight up.
Skarmory SteelFlying
  • Almost as much a “no duh” as G-Fisk, but easier to get at Little League size, is SKARMORY. Yes, of course it’s good. And yes, it beats up on Cottonee nicely. If you want, you can save dust and run it with just one charge move and only miss out on close wins versus Mandibuzz and Ducklett. Just sayin’.
Vigoroth Normal
  • Yes, VIGOROTH does Fighter things without just curling up in the fetal position versus the Fairies, but that doesn’t seem special enough to me to be worth the cost. Maybe you feel differently though!
Deino DarkDragon
  • Original Little Cup standout DEINO is fine here, just nothing particularly special.
Drifloon GhostFlying
  • DRIFLOON really is just mini-Drifblim, and handles G-Fisk and others fine while keeping even Cottonee in check, particularly with high rank IVs…. 👀
Forretress (Shadow) BugSteel
  • It’s quite a splurge, but Shadow FORRETRESS with double Steel moves does some really good things here if you’re looking to make a big splash. The standard Earthquake is a bit too slow… run Heavy Slam in its place. You’ll thank me later!
Gligar GroundFlying
  • Well how about that: GLIGAR can actually beat the CottonFisk core, and a quite a bit else too. It’s one of my few strong recommendations among these pricier options.
Chansey Normal
  • Once again, repeat after me: DO NOT RUN CHANSEY. 😡 But study those matchups and know how to beat it, at least, because some players just like to watch the world burn and will have it out there.

I know that was long, but that’s it… we’re done! Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter or Patreon, or please feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you master Little Jungle Cup, and in the thriftiest manner possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

Author & tags

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

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