Hello again, fellow PvPers!
The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats — Evolution Cup, in this case — particularly focused on Pokémon where you can save yourself some stardust. 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 XL investment. Because especially for one-week formats like this, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to compete without breaking our budget.
As a quick reminder, this is a Great League (1500 CP or less) format that features all middle evolutions… things that have evolved once and can still evolve again. It’s a bit funky with a LOT of names not normally seen in PvP, as you’ll see.
Without any further ado, here we go!
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
Obviously, every starter Pokémon has a middle evolution, so as you can guess, there is actually a very deep “bench” of 10k options to pick from. But which ones are the most viable? Let’s take a look! We’ll begin with the starters and then move on from there.
Mud Shot | Surf & Mud Bomb/Returnᴸ
One of only two Mud Boys in this format, it’s probably not a huge surprise that Swampert’s pre-evolution is the best of the Water starters (and second-best Water and second-best Ground type in the whole format, for that matter). What may be a surprise is that I think it really wants Return. Marshie really doesn’t have a move with true closing power otherwise, with Surf and its 65 power being the next closest. Generally, its best overall performance comes with Surf and Return, with Return specifically bringing in a win over Machoke that Surf and/or Mud Bomb cannot achieve on their own. There is also Shadow Marshie to consider as well, and in THAT case the best you can do is Surf/Mud Bomb, which cannot beat Dusclops or Machoke as non-Shadow can, but outslugs Piloswine and big bad Chansey as well. There are most definitely teams that will want Shadow instead.
Fury Cutter | Aqua Tail & X-Scissor
Probably tells you much of what you need to know about Water starters in this format when I say that this record is that of the second-best Water starter in Evolution Cup. Dewie DOES do a fair amount of good in there, beating some of the biggest names around like Marshtomp, Sealeo, and Dusclops, and not outright beating Grasses but at least perhaps scaring them into shielding when they don’t want to.
Charm | Disarming Voice & Aqua Jet
The only Charm user in the format, for what that’s worth. No, it’s not technically a Fairy type (so no STAB) and also has the option of Water Gun (with STAB), but if you’re using Brie for anything, it’s for being the only Charmer around and laying the hurt on anything weak to Fairy damage. There is literally no better way to shut down Zweilous, for example.
Bubble | Icy Wind & Hydro Pump
I LOVE this little guy and have used him with good success in multiple formats that didn’t care about first-, second-, or third-stage evolutions. Bubble plus Icy Wind is tasty, and Prinplup is more than chonky enough to reach Hydro Pump in meaningful spots as well. But in THIS meta, it’s out on the fringe, which makes me sad. I HAVE heard chatter of burgeoning supervillains considering running Prinplup and its Icy Wind alongside Chansey, however. Eeeeevil.
I love me some WARTORTLE, but it A.) has to be pushed deep into XL territory, and B.) just doesn’t have a great moveset for PvP, so it mostly flops in regular and Shadow form, which is a real shame…. CROCONAW has a fun and flexible moveset with Crunch and Ice Punch, but as with many of the Waters, it just doesn’t all work out as well as you’d hope…. We don’t talk about Bruno… or FROGADIER and family in PvP.
Vine Whip/Razor Leaf | Power Whip & Sludge Bomb
You CAN run it as a Razor Leafer, and Ivy actually works surprisingly well that way, with unique wins versus Piloswine and Sealeo, as well as even Magneton. But Razor Leaf is a role likely best filled by other things we’ll cover later, so unless you’re just going for the surprise factor, I think it’s likely still best to stick with Vine Whip, which despite having a slightly worse record, just seems more consistent to me and makes the best use of Sludge Bomb, getting its own unique wins over things like Gloom and Charjabug, as well as a massive win over Floette (over 100 HP remaining) instead of just barely squeaking by (less than 10 HP) with Razor Leaf.
Razor Leaf | Body Slam & Energy Ball
As I said, there are things more suited to Razor Leafing than Ivysaur, such as Grotle. A huge part of that is Body Slam with very wide and — for a Razor Leafer — spammy coverage. Ivysaur DOES have an advantage over Fighters thanks to its Poison subtyping (beating Vigoroth, for example), but Grotle is just a better pure Leafer overall (shown by how it beats Charjabug, and Ivy does not, as one example). There’s also the fact that Shadow Grotle can beat down Chansey too. 💪
There’s also DARTRIX, which offers Razor Leaf death from above (literally, being a Flying type), but overall it really doesn’t do anything particularly special unless you’re really just worried about Fighters. (Even then, though… there’s Ivysaur.)
Quick Attack | Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace
You had me at Quick Attack + Leaf Blade. 🤤 While that awesome combo still only gets you so far, you gotta like how it can outrace stuff like Machoke and Gloom (thanks in part to Aerial Ace coverage), Fairies and Charm, Chansey, AND still hold down the standard Grass role all at the same time. Or you can shed Ace and instead just go Grass heavy with Grass Knot, trading in Gloom to beat Sealeo instead. Either way, this is a nice little dark horse in Evolution Cup that may be well under the radar early on.
Vine Whip | Body Slam & Energy Ball
Did I save the best for last? Quill is actually ranked highest among all Grass starters (and second to only one other Grass type that I’ll cover down below in the heavy-into-XL section), but I held off on it so you could see how rankings — even good ones like those on PvPoke — aren’t everything, because most of the Grass options perform as well or better than Quilladin’s modest record. No doubt, Vine Whip combined with Body Slam can be nasty, but there’s just nothing special to be found beyond that. No handy subtyping, no true coverage moves, and only mediocre Energy Ball to try to finish things off. (Heck, something like Grass Knot or Seed Bomb would be better, but alas.) It’s at least a tad bulker than many of the others, but I have trouble recommending it, at least as anything better than what we’ve already discussed. I think this might just be a format where you pick your favorite and roll with it!
Fire Fang/Ember | Fire Punch & Flamethrower/Returnᴸ
On to the Fires, and the OG Charmeleon has the looks (at least initially) of the best of the bunch, with either Fire Fang for heavy fast move damage, or Ember for more emphasis on the charge moves. Either way, Charmeleon can burn through not just the Grasses and Ices and Steels and Bugs and Fairies you would expect, but also stuff like Brionne, Fletchinder, Haunter, and Dusclops too. And while Shadowmeleon can burn through Chansey, I generally don’t recommend it, as it also loses to Dusclops, Sealeo, Fletch and others.
Ember | Psyshock & Flame Charge
Carrying a very, very similar performance to Charmeleon, on paper Braixen only loses to Sealeo that Charmeleon can overcome. However, Brax is slightly better than ‘Meleon in 0v0 and especially 2v2 shielding, the latter owing to the growing damage from multiple uses of Flame Charge (and adding on things like Chansey and Machoke as a result). I also like the flexibility that comes with Psyshock as a true coverage move, something many of these Fire types lack. I think Brax is actually my favorite overall Fire starter going in to this format.
TORRACAT is sort of the inverse of Braixen, running with the same Ember/Flame Charge and with Dark move Crunch instead of Psychic move Psyshock. That might be more interesting were this format filled with more Psychics than Fighters, but this DOES have the look of a format where Psyshock is more impactful than (resisted-by-Fighting-types) Crunch… unless, perhaps, you’re especially terrified of Ghosts…. COMBUSKEN is a personal favorite because I love the (at least theoretical) coverage of Rock Slide, and if you built one (presumably with Peck) for Fighting Cup, you’re just a Fast TM away from having it ready to go here. But Rock Slide doesn’t actually do a ton for it in this meta, and it lags a hair (or perhaps I should say feather? 🐓) behind the rest…. You’ve also got QUILAVA, which is fine, but just doesn’t do anything special to stand out from the crowd…. Technically I should probably save FLETCHINDER for the “lucky”/XL section, but if you have a hundo, it works well at “only” Level 41.5, so we’ll lump it in here. After all, it’s yet another Ember/Flame Charge option, the only differences being its Flying subtyping and coverage (with Aerial Ace). That gives it a nice niche versus Fighters and Vigoroth, but also makes it worse versus things other Fires can beat, losing to stuff like Charjabug and Piloswine that the others can handle without much issue.
Bug Bite/Spark | X-Scissor & Discharge
Moving on to a few notable Electrics, starting with the real PvP star of the Grubbin line… no, not Vikavolt, but middle evolution Charjabug. I recommend Bug Bite over Spark, as BB can take down Zweilous and other Darks, Ivysaur and other Grasses, and perhaps most importantly of all, Vigoroth. Spark is certainly viable too, outracing Haunter and of course Flyers like Fletchinder and Golbat instead, but I think the wins that come with Bug Bite will end up being more impactful (and unique)… as will Charjabug itself in this meta. It’s currently ranked in the Top 10.
I’ll also mention EELEKTRIK, though I really don’t know that I can recommend it, especially with Charj and the next entry on our list around….
ALOLAN GRAVELERGraveler (Alola) RockElectric
Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Thunderbolt/Stone Edge
Alolan Golem had its two weeks of fame without Graveler in Ultra League formats, and now it’s Graveler that snags the stage by itself for a while. And it features well on that stage, hating hard on Poisons, Bugs, Fires, and Fairy stuff alike while also threatening Waters, fellow Electrics, and even opposing Steels and big Normals (Chansey and even Vigoroth with its scary Counter and Bulldoze). Normally I ALWAYS recommend both Rock charge moves, but there IS a decent niche for Thunderbolt here, not only to better hold out against Water types, but also to specifically add a win over the next Pokémon in this article….
Metal Claw | Body Slam & Rock Slide/Rock Tomb
Yes, really. While Aggron remains the butt of many jokes (some undeserved, but many completely understandable) in Pokémon GO, Lairon actually has some use in PvP, as it comes with Body Slam. Even a so-so fast move like Metal Claw can’t hold it back from having a real impact on this meta. It beats much of what A-Grav does, just harder, and beats A-Grav in the head to head and much better handles Dragons as well (beating Dragonair straight up, and sometimes Zweilous too). And it conveniently resists ALL of Chansey’s moves and beats it down as well… and can even do it while pocketing 100 energy if you so choose. You love to see it! 😈 It is worth noting that Rock Tomb is viable in place of Rock Slide, giving up Zweilous and Fletchinder, but gaining Dusclops and the mirror match.
GALARIAN LINOONELinoone (Galarian) DarkNormal
Snarl | Body Slam & Gunk Shot
Speaking of Body Slam, there’s a good chance you forgot that Galarian Linoone is even eligible (while, ironically, OG Linoone is not). If you have one raring to go, this meta is a good one for it. Obviously it MUST avoid Fighters and anything with Fairy or Bug damage, but it dominates Ghosts and just beats down a ton of other things (Ices, Waters, Fires, Grasses, Electrics… and Chansey). It even beats down Floette straight up, as Dazzling Gleam is just too slow to turn the tables. Turns out super spammy Body Slamming is still good, and there are few things that spam charge moves better than Snarl. With a REALLY good IV G-Noone, things only get better with Dragonair and Nidorino falling as well.
Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball
Don’t mistake it appearing at the end of this section to mean Golbat is not good here… in many ways, I saved perhaps the best for last. There’s nothing else quite like Golbat in this meta… it’s the best Flyer AND the best Poison, and you can build one dirt cheap. That said… this also looks like one of those rare metas where I may be more inclined to go with the slightly more expensive Shadow Bat rather than non-Shadow, as Shadow can pick up Dragonair in 1v1 shielding (and shows extra wins versus Fletchinder and Metang, but non-Shadow can beat them too… it’s all a matter of move timing, with Poison Fang first and Shadow Ball to close out) and holds up just as well or better in 0v0 and the very impressive 2v2 shielding as well. 👀 You obviously need to bewear Ices and Electrics and Rocks, and other things like Chansey and Haunter and Zweilous can fend Golbat off too, but most of the rest of the field is ripe for the picking. Golbat is looking REALLY good in this meta, folks.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
Karate Chop | Cross Chopᴸ & Dynamic Punch
There’s not much in this format of middle evolutions that has Legacy moves, but Machoke is one such Pokémon, and it needs to have that Legacy move, Cross Chop, for PvP relevance. But thankfully Machoke is better than you probably think in Great League, and has had legit relevance in a couple past formats and will likely see relevance in the future, so this doesn’t have to be strictly a one-week build. And it IS really worth it in Evolution Cup, in both Shadow and non-Shadow form (the former beating Metang and fellow Fighter Hakamo-O, and the latter instead outlasting Charjabug). Fighters are very rare in this meta, but Evolution Cup is a good format for a Fighter to make a big impact. Machoke is worth the build, and fun fact: it’s the ONLY Fighter to be found in the entire 50k section.
And one side note: you CAN run it with Brick Break instead of Cross Chop in a pinch, but it is slightly worse, unable to overcome Charjabug. Still, it’s a viable performance if that Legacy move is just too big a chasm to leap for you personally.
Hex | Fire Punch/Ice Punch & Returnᴸ/Shadow Punch
Another case where the middle evolution happens to be the best in the line, Dusclops has some play in Open formats and certainly in a few Limited ones. But it’s generally best purified with Return, lacking any closing power otherwise. (And unable to overcome Vigoroth, specifically, without Return.) Fire Punch coverage burns through Charjabug and Ice types Sealeo and Piloswine, while Ice Punch better covers Flyers and Dragons (beating Hakamo-O, as one example). There are cases for both moves with Shadow Clops too, which swaps in Shadow Punch where Return would otherwise be, and riding Ice Punch to victory over stuff like Marshtomp, or Fire Punch to wins over stuff like Charj still. In whatever flavor, Shadow or no, Dusclops is looking to make a big splash in Evolution Cup.
Shadow Claw | Ice Punch & Shadow Ball/Sludge Bomb
For literally the first time ever in nearly four years of analyzing Haunter, Shadow Punch — long a staple for baiting and heavy pressure — is not my recommendation. At least for this meta (and possibly into the future?), that slot should probably now be filled by new-this-season Ice Punch instead. Why? Ice Punch is just better here, with straight-up wins against Golbat, Gloom, Alolan Graveler, and Piloswine. I do still lean Shadow Ball (which is necessary to beat things like Lairon and makes things like Piloswine much easier) over Sludge Bomb, though it’s worth noting that the latter (paired with Shadow Punch) is THE way to beat out Fletchinder. Yeah, it’s niche, but it’s there! Haunter is quietly one of the very best Pokémon in Evolution Cup, and while not as “safe” as Dusclops (who just might be the safest of safe swaps in this format), I think it will be just as impactful… if not moreso!
Powder Snow | Body Slam & Returnᴸ/Aurora Beam
As proven with Galarian Linoone, things with high energy and Body Slam can do good work here, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sealeo fits that mold. But as ALSO shown with other Pokémon in this meta, some things here really appreciate the neutral closing power of Return, and that too is true of Sealeo, with Return winning the mirror and also beating Floette and Charjabug and their scary super effective damage. (Do note, however, that Aurora Beam simmed earlier beats out Dusclops and Ivysaur instead, so it’s certainly very viable as well!) Shadow Sealeo is overall worse, however.
Powder Snow | Avalanche & Bulldoze
On the surface, Piloswine looks like a worse Sealeo, but that’s an entirely fair assessment. What it really represents is an alternative Ice type that may fit some teams better, and that good (and the bad) comes from its unique Ice/Ground typing. On the one hand, it’s weak to Water while Sealeo resists Water damage, so Sealeo trounces Dragonair while Aqua Tails instead doom Piloswine. But on the plus side, the Ground subtyping makes Rock damage neutral, so Pilo can beat Lairon and Alolan Graveler, where Sealeo falls short. Pilo also resists Electric (beating Charjabug), and Avalanche is worlds better at dealing out Ice damage effectively and efficiently than Aurora Beam, so while Sealeo struggles to outrace Dusclops and Ivysaur, Pilo beats both with relative ease. But yes, it has less wins in total than Sealeo, failing to overcome Brionne, Chansey, Floette, Hakamo-O, or Dragonair (as mentioned), and falls to Sealeo in the head to head too. Still, both obviously have their uses. Which one fits YOUR team better, my friend?
Thunder Shock | Magnet Bomb & Zap Cannon/Discharge
Magnet Bomb is pretty much a must, as ‘Ton cannot overcome things like Piloswine and Ivysaur without it. But after that? You can stick with more spam via Discharge, specifically gaining Golbat, or go with what might be my recommendation: Zap Cannon, which instead overcomes Dusclops and wins the mirror match. Or perhaps even better… Shadowton does all that AND can get Golbat back (with straight Magnet Bomb). THAT may be my recommendation, come to think of it!
Lock-On | Tri-Attack & Zap Cannon
And speaking of Zap Cannon, the Porygon line has been using it since before Registeel made it cool. And yes, Porygon2 is nice spice here with Cannon and Tri-Attack to set it up. (Take note, Niantic: you gave Porygon-Z’s exclusive move to its pre-evolution Porygon2… can we PLEASE have the same for Dusclops sometime? 🥺) Very boom or bust choice overall though, as glassy as the Porygons are, but being able to knock out big tanks like Chansey, Dusclops, and Lairon as a Normal type (and things like Haunter, again, as a Normal type) is pretty nice. The Shadow version still does that and adds on Marshtomp and Metang, though it gives up Sealeo, Brionne, Ivysaur, and Magneton to do it and comes less recommended as a result.
Confusion | Psychic (& Futuresight?)
Nothing particularly special with Gothie, but Confusion is always potent, and a real rarity in this meta in particular… and Gothorita comes packing it. Good news first: Gothie can be kept under XL territory and still perform just fine, and doesn’t even need a second charge move to run fine either…Psychic (the move) is all you really need, with other charge moves being just inferior Psychic (the typing) options in most all scenarios. And that alone terrorizes Poison and Fighting types, while also overcoming Chansey and Floette and Brionne and others. The bad news is that Gothorita is left with no trickery of any kind. Anything that can fend of Psychic damage can farm it down mercilessly, and it will still lose many neutral-on-neutral battles as well. Gothorita is a good specialist, but still only that: a specialist.
Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb & Moonblast
Gloom is an unabashed specialist too, and its speciality is well known and well established in PvP: Razor Leaf. Interestingly, while many Razor Leafers are run in Shadow form, Gloom works a bit better as a non-Shadow, having an easier time overcoming Floette that way, as it can actually tank one Floette Psychic (the move) and limp from there to victory.
WEEPINBELL is a fun alternative, but it operates best as a Shadow, and Razor Leaf is actually a Legacy move in this case, so chances are you don’t have one to even try out. If you DO, though, it’s worth showing off if you need to scratch that itch.
Mud Slap | Surf & Stone Edge
Admittedly the record is not awe-inspiring, but there’s some good stuff in there that falls to steady Mud Slapping, and then Stone Edge can sneak away with a win over things like Golbat too. Rhydon is a niche player in this format, but I DO think it can be a player on the right team.
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
Honestly, most of these are probably not worth building with a second move. While I may even note what second move to use if you DO add one, generally I’m going to note just the one charge move to run with and save you 75,000 dust. But still, protocol is protocol, so we’re still gonna call it the 75k section, alright? Let’s get into it….
Counter | Body Slam & Bulldoze
Ranked #1 in Evolution Cup, and it’s really not hard to see why. Counter chews through Steels (even Metang), Darks, Ices, and fellow Normals (without having to fear Psychic damage in return from things like Chansey). Things that normally slap down other Normal types and/or Counter users also fall before Vigoroth, with Body Slam wearing down Floette and Brionne, and Bulldoze being enough to turn the tables on Haunter and Dusclops despite them at least double resisting everything else Vigoroth can throw at them. Even things like spammy Marshtomp and Counter-resistant Charjabug scatter before the angry ape. There ARE ways to fend it off, of course… actual Fighting types do so, as do the format’s big Dragons (aside from Zweilous, of course) and most all Poison types, and perhaps surprisingly, Alolan Graveler too. But it is undeniably a big threat here, and likely to feature on the majority of teams. Have a plan to take it down, folks.
Dragon Breath | Body Slam & Dark Pulse
Coming in right behind Viggy at #2, we have Zweilous. And again, the numbers kind of tell the story. Unlike Vigoroth, Zweil has a much harder time fending off traditional Dragon and/or Dark counters, with the format’s Fairies (and Brionne) and Fighters pretty much all laughing in its face. And Ice types freeze it out rather effectively as well. But most of the rest of the format is ripe for the picking, to include the Poisons and Alolan Graveler that lord over Vigoroth. I smell core potential! Just watch out for those Fighters.
Dragon Tail | Dragon Claw & Brick Break/Dragon Pulse
And right in order behind Viggy and Zweil, Hakamo is #3… and rinse-and-repeat, the numbers tell most of the story as to why. Yet again we see some now-familiar names (including Dusclops, though that specifically requires the knockout power of Dragon Pulse, with Dragon Claw instead beating Nidorino… gimme Pulse!), but note that Fighters (to include Vigoroth) now enter the win column. Dare I say Vigoroth/Zweilous/Hakamo teams may prove pretty popular? 🤔
Dragon Breath | Aqua Tail & Body Slam
While it doesn’t have any handy subtyping like Zweilous or Hakamo, Dragonair is nonetheless equally dangerous. Like Zweilous, it can handle Chansey, Golbat, and Haunter. Like Hakamo, it can take down Vigoroth, Machoke, and Piloswine. About the only big thing those others can do that Dragonair cannot easily replicate is beating Dusclops… it just lacks the knockout blow potential. But ‘Nair is a fantastic generalist in this meta, giving even Floette and several Ice types a hard time with its super spam coverage moves. Just don’t run Shadow, IMO… while it CAN get Dusclops and Lairon too, it gives up much of what makes it special, losing now to Vigoroth, Machoke, A-Grav, Golbat, Nidorino and more.
And there are even more Dragon options, but they fail to achieve the same level of success as Zweilous, Hakamo, and Dragonair. FRAXURE has a lot of fun moves but doesn’t capitalize on any particular combination of them…. SHELGON continues to be held back by lousy Twister. Give it Dragon Claw, you cowards!… Same story with GABITE, left languishing behind Twister. (It ALSO can learn Dragon Claw… you taking notes, Niantic?)…. SLIGGOO is just ew.
Metal Claw | Psyshock & Gyro Ball/Psychic/Returnᴸ
You ready for a big surprise? Check out Metang in Evolution Cup! 😱 That’s a mind-boggling result at first, but when you stop and think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Metang has a typing and/or moves to handle Fighters, Poisons, Fairies, Grasses, Dragons, Ices, AND Rocks, and thus its winlist includes the format’s big names from each of those typings. It DOES lose to Vigoroth and its Bulldoze in the end, can’t handle heavy neutral damage from things like Charjabug and Magneton, and it loses outright to Ghosts, Grounds, and Fires. But overall, this is a shockingly friendly meta for it to flex on, even moreso than Metagross (or Metang itself!) in Psychic Cup earlier this season. And it doesn’t get anywhere close to XL territory either. If you still have some Beldum candy left, this is a fantastic one-week rental. PvPoke currently recommends Return, but I recommend Gyro Ball, which adds on Alolan Graveler and Metang itself.
Thunder Shock | Vise Grip & Thunderbolt
Here’s another one you’ve probably never though much about, but has pretty good potential here. I do say “potential” though, because a bit of that relies on baiting with bad PvP move Vise Grip (only 40 damage for 40 energy… blech! 🤢), but even without baiting I think it’s still safe to call Klang viable. I guarantee most players won’t be expecting it, so there’s a strong element-of-surprise factor to consider here!
Spark | Wild Charge & Crunch/Thunderbolt
The only thing here with Wild Charge, which alone makes it interesting enough to consider, don’t you think? You don’t need me to talk about the upside but also risks that come with Charge, so I’ll just leave it there and let the high ceiling (but also low floor) speak for themselves. Many players swore Luxio was better than Luxray in PvP before Luxray got Psychic Fangs. Here’s their chance to back up those claims! (And you can run a hundo Luxio that requires only a half-level of XL candy to build, and while it performs almost as well, note that it does now struggle against Metang.)
GALARIAN MR. MIMEMr. Mime (Galarian) IcePsychic
Confusion | Ice Punch & Psychic
Here’s the only Confusion user in Evolution Cup other than Gothorita. Much of the same applies here, the big differences being that Mime can beat Marshtomp and Piloswine, while Gothie instead takes out Hakamo-O and Chansey. Mr. Mime’s second move is more expensive, but it also stays in the mid-20s while Gotharita gets right up near (or over) Level 40, so overall this is likely to be a cheaper build despite Gothie not even needing a second move. Something to keep in mind. (And one could argue that Mime doesn’t need a second charge move either!)
Karate Chop | Fire Punch & Flamethrower
And ending this section with some spice. 🔥 A little mix of Fighting and Fire damage, resulting in wins that includes Fairies (even Brionne!), Grasses, Steels, Ices, Bugs, and bonuses like Machoke and Zweilous. If Magmar is a favorite of yours, you may REALLY like it here!
We’re in the home stretch, but before I let you go, I wanted to highlight some good stuff that is unfortunately deep into XL territory and may not be achievable by many players. Target these in a Lucky trade if you can, and good luck!Bayleef Grass
- BAYLEEF has long been a favorite of mine, and it’s only gotten better recently with the buff to Ancient Power. Shadow is a little better than non-Shadow (beating Magneton, Sealeo, Chansey, and Vigoroth, as opposed to non-Shadow which only beats out Gloom and Dusclops instead), but both are quite viable as top tier Razor Leaf options with upside.
- I would like SWADLOON a LOT better if it wasn’t so danged expensive.
- I SO badly wish I was able to fully max out a NIDORINA, but alas. If YOU are able, my friend, she’s well worth it not just here in Evolution Cup, but in several other Limited formats as well, and arguably even in Open Great League!
- No Poison Fang (like Nidorina) makes NIDORINO quite a bit less exciting, but yes, [its still viable too, and at least doesn’t have to be pushed all the way up to Level 50. Shadow ‘Rino is handy too.
- Remember that POLIWHIRL has Scald as a Legacy move. Some people have built one, and if that’s you, it’s a fun option here, particularly in Shadow form.
- Technically, Marshtomp is NOT the only Mud Boy in Evolution Cup, as there’s also PALPITOAD. It’s just that Palpie is MUCH more expensive and a bit less exciting. But viable? Sure!
- It’s been mentioned a lot throughout this article, so you’ve probably been wondering when I would cover FLOETTE. So here we go. Yes, it’s a very intriguing and unique option here, even if the numbers are a bit blah. Flo can handle Fighting types (though Vigoroth remains frustratingly out of reach) and dominates all the Dragons, but it also checks Waters and Grounds (to include Sealeo, Piloswine, Marshtomp, and Brionne) that are weak to Vine Whip, and can even hold out long enough to take down stuff like Gloom too. While you CAN build a non-XL Floette, it doesn’t hold up as well. You probably need to invest in a mid-40s Flo for this format and any future use.
- You know the drill by now: DO NOT RUN CHANSEY! That said, people will, and yes, it does make sense to do so here, and not JUST for timeout strats. Running with Zen Headbutt these days, Chansey can legit wear stuff down and emerge victorious regardless of the clock. Have a plan to fend it off!
And gonna end it right here (again!). Hopefully this helps you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!).
No Limited/Cup formats next week, so this series will return to Halloween Cup in two weeks! Until then, you can always find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!
Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you master Evolution Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!