The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: our 2nd trek through Fossil Cup, in this case. (And this time, for two straight weeks) 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.
And also as per usual, we’ll start with Pokémon with the cheapest second move unlock cost and steam ahead until we finally arrive at the most expensive (Legendaries and some high XL options). I will also only be highlighting Shadow versions when they’re particularly relevant… many are worse, and that’s what you can generally infer if I don’t talk about them.
First, VERY brief summary of the meta with a quick Bottom Line Up Front:
- Great League format (1500 CP limit), with all Rock, Steel, and Water types eligible. No bans.
- Ironically for “Fossil” Cup, the vast majority of actual Fossil Pokémon (and Rock types in general) are hated out of this meta due to the many Steels and Waters that smash them.
- This is generally a Water-heavy meta, and thus the very few Grasses that sneak in are VERY potent corebreakers. They’re all highlighted within the article.
- Fighters and Grounds do quite well as well with their effectiveness versus Steels and Rocks.
- While PvPoke normally does an awesome job with their rankings, they are all over the place in this meta, mostly because (I think) the many Rocks here that never do much artificially inflate the rankings for some Steels and even Waters that handle a lot of ultimately irrelevant Pokémon, and really aren’t nearly as good as their ranking. Tread cautiously!
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake
This is just the kind of meta where the infamous Mud Boys shoot to the top, with obvious advantages over the format’s many Steels and Rocks, and paths to victory over even most opposing Water types. Just look at the dominance of Swampert in particular. 👀 Even slightly more impressive is Shadow Swampert, not just in terms of more wins, but the quality of those wins, with names like Rainy Castform, Tapu Fini, Sealeo, Blastoise, and most impressively of all, Ferrothorn (and Shadow Lileep). Pretty impressive to be beating Grass types like that (and the very few Grasses here are a BIG deal here, as we’ll see later) without dealing ANY super effective damage. By contrast, while non-Shadow Swampie is fine, it instead has unique wins versus things like Shadow Poliwrath, Samurott, Shadow Kingdra, Shadow Sharpedo, Seismitoad, and Greninja… things that are likely to be far less prevalent in the meta. That said, there IS one other important distinction: different wins against different variations of the same opponent. Shadow Swampert beats Walrein, Shadow Lapras, and Ice Beam Azumarill, while non-Shadow Swampert instead beats Shadow Walrein, non-Shadow Lapras, and Play Rough Azu. Just some little tricks to keep in mind so you know when to potentially swap out or not. Good luck!
Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Blizzard
Even with the buff to Mod Bomb, this is still a definite step down from Swampert. Don’t get me wrong; Cash can still be VERY oppressive… there are few Pokémon that things like Bastiodon and Registeel and Galarian Stunfisk want to see less than Whiscash. But beyond its dominance over Steels like them and others like Mawile and Lucario, and a bonus win over Jellicent and Quagsire, Whiscash actually kind of struggles here. You can get a little tricky and run unconventional Water Gun, swapping Lucario for a surprise win over Escavalier instead, but even that doesn’t really elevate its stock. Cash is very popular and will show likely up plenty, but it’s not overly difficult to handle in this meta.Marshtomp WaterGround
Water Gun | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Skull Bash
Ice Beam won’t do much for you here, but Skull Bash at least can manage to undo Walrein, and that’s good enough for me. The rest comes with just Water Gun and Hydro Cannon, and that includes Azu, the Mud Boys (aside from Shadow Swampert), and several Steels like G-Fisk, Mawile, Bastie, and Escav… though sadly no longer Registeel (stupid Zap Cannon!). While Blastoise doesn’t do anything incredibly unique or special, it remains a good example of what solid moves and good bulk can do for you.
Charm | Psychic & Moonblast/Hydro Pump
And here we have a Water starter that operates like anything but. Prima just needs Charm, and that’s really it. While that obviously stifles her against Steel types, I believe that Prima still has a unique role to play. At least there’s barely any Poison around to hold her back, and she nicely suppresses some of the scarier Shadows.
Sadly, as much as I want to recommend other starters, it just goes downhill from here. I had high hopes for SAMUROTT, but its Bug moves just don’t do all that much for it here beyond a sneaky win over Cradily. Empoleon isn’t hot, as I already mentioned, and FERALIGATR requires being a Shadow AND having two Legacy moves to become even halfway interesting… Blastoise does it better. GRENINJA is slightly more interesting than normal with its Dark moves, but no better than fringe/spice, at least until it gets Hydro Cannon soon (but not soon enough for this format). But there ARE a few more 10k options worth highlighting….
Water Gun | Surf & Hyper Fang
Okay, who expected Bibarel to be one of the better performing thrifty options here? Nah, put your hand down… you’re lying. I certainly didn’t expect it, but here we are. Or actually, here we are, with Shadow Bibarel, scooping up extra wins over Skarmory and Whiscash (though it now lacks the bulk to outlast G-Fisk as non-Shadow Bib does). Yes, has to be extra cautious of Fighting moves, but on the plus side, it also blunts Ghost damage, good for Jellicent in particular. Don’t overlook everyone’s favorite dopey beaver here!
MANTINE (Baby Discount™)Mantine Water
Wing Attack/Bullet Seed | Bubble Beam & Ice Beam
Being part Flying can be scary with Rocks around, but Mantine manages to mostly overcome that weakness. I’ll throw out my usual Mantine caveats of bait effectiveness boosting its on-paper ceiling to sometimes unrealistic levels… except that in THIS particular meta, it really does plenty of work with just Bubble Beam, beating everything in 1v1 that it does with Ice Beam, and actually beats things like Swampert MORE effectively by just commiting to Bubble Beaming. Despite how awesome Wing Attack is now, in this meta, Bullet Seed is a legit alternative thanks to the wide number of things weak to Grass, primarily the Mud Boys… if they are one of your major concerns, giving up wins over Araquanid, Pelipper, and Galarian Stunfisk (which Wing Attack can beat) to guarantee a win over Quagsire (Wing Attack can legit lose that) and really shred Swampert and Whiscash may be your ticket.
ALOLAN ROCKSGraveler (Alola Shadow) RockElectric
Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge/Wild Charge
Look, I get it… they’re risky here, no bones about it. Battles against Waters becomes a stess-filled race against time, and they have NO real answer to Ground and Grass types that will likely be popular. But even with all that holding them back, at least in Shadow form, life… finds a way. The Waters and Flyers on that list are likely no surprise, but the appearances of Mawile and even Lanturn are very, very nice wins that the opponent likely won’t see coming. Or run with A-Golem and its Wild Charge to trade in Spark Lanturn for Golisopod instead. Either way, very few may remember these two are even IN this meta, and fewer still will likely be prepared for them. At least early on the format, I can see the Alolan Rocks getting away with some very sneaky wins.
LUCARIO (Baby Discount™)Lucario FightingSteel
Counter | Shadow Ball & Close Combat/Power-Up Punch
One of only two actual Fighters in Fossil Cup, and the only one blessed (for now) with the best fast move in the game, Counter (until the end of this month, at least… Counter Poliwrath is on the horizon!)… and you can count the number of things with Counter in this format on one hand. Why is that important? Counter beats down Steels AND Rocks, and as a Steel type itself, Lucario also resists Steel and important Grass moves. Shadow Ball is fanatstic for neutral coverage, but my recommendation beyond that is not Power-Up Punch, but rather Close Combat for doing basically everything PuP can PLUS winning the mirror.
MAGCARGO NEW (to this article)Magcargo FireRock
Incinerate | Rock Tomb & Overheat
Not everything has to have a great record to shine in a format, and you know what? While I left it out last time I reviewed this meta, I’m a (GO) lifelong fan of Mags, and despite a so-so record, I think it deserves a shout out this time. Might seem crazy in a format with so many Waters and even Rocks that can blow it away, but on the right team, the potential is there to be an excellent specialist that melts most all Steel, Bug, and/or Grass types. And all three of those typings are BIG in this condensed meta. Magcargo might just be the shocking surprise that can push your team over the edge. Hey, at least when it loses, it doesn’t prevent much farming opportunity!
GOLISOPOD NEW!Golisopod BugWater
Shadow Claw | X-Scissor & Liquidation
KInd of a cheat, since it’s not cheap/”thrifty” to gather the 400 candy needed to evolve it, but eh… close enough. Golisopod certainly IS worth talking about, as it’s quite the interesting addition to this meta (and several others) with the addition of Shadow Claw and now Liquidation. It doesn’t have one set role, but it’s a decent all-rounder that folks may not yet be expecting. Use that to your advantage, as it seems a pretty good swap option or even shock-and-awe lead. Those potent Grounds and Fighters certainly don’t want to see it, and it can even hang in there and beat stuff like Kartana and Jellicent too!
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
Bullet Seed | Grass Knot & Stone Edge/Rock Slide/Bulldoze
So this meta being what it is, “Fossil Cup” is a very inappropriate name, seeing as how Cradily is basically the ONLY actual Fossil Pokémon that has a chance of doing much here. Why is that? Because it happens to be a Grass type in a meta chock full of Waters and Rocks that are inherently weak to Grass. So even though Cradily has a very average Grass moveset with Bullet Seed and Grass Knot, it has a robust win percentage in Fossil Cup, able to beat nearly all Waters — the few exceptions being high Ice damage like Dewgong and Shadow Walrein, Bug damage like Samurott and Araquanid, or Waters that take only neutral or resisted damage from Grass like Tentacruel, Empoleon, and Kingdra — and all non-Steel Rocks besides Aurorus, Lycanroc, Regirock, Magcargo, and the Tyrants. Oh, and it even beats Mawile, and with high rank IVs, Shadow Walrein as well. One more potential trick: with Bulldoze instead of the customary Stone Edge, it can beat Bastiodon and (with decent IVs) Galarian Stunfisk too, at the relatively low cost of giving up only Pelipper, Golisopod, and sometimes Mawile. Dilly dilly!
Razor Leaf/Bubble | Ice Beam & Leaf Storm
Another rare Grass (the second of only three “families” of Grass types in this meta), there are two pretty distinct ways to utilize the Dancing Pineapple. Razor Leaf is obviously best for pure Water/Rock shredding (uniquely beating things like regular and Shadow Walrein), light on shield pressure but heavy on slicing and dicing anything that doesn’t resist Grass, a.k.a. all the Steels, shown most clearly by a loss to Mawile. Bubble fails to take down Walrein, but DOES uniquely beat Mawile, and much more easily smokes G-Fisk. Pick your pleasure and dance your way to victory!
Bug Bite | Bubble Beam & Bug Buzz
Well, for one thing, it beats all those sneaky Grass types in the format. As a Bug, ‘Nid also conveniently resists Ground damage, and thus rather easily overcomes the Mud Boys, as well as Escavalier and, famously, Walrein. Add on pretty consistent wins over Azumarill and Araquanid’s potential superstardom in this format is pretty obvious. Just watch out for the few Rock moves that might be flung your way… Bugs do NOT like those.
Counter | Drill Run & Megahorn (Acid Spray/Aerial Ace OK too)
Sticking with Bugs for a minute, we have one of the few Counter users in the format. Why is that important? Because Counter is fantastic against Steel and Rock types, and unresisted by Waters. Combine that with Drill Run that is also super effective versus Steel and Rock (and very widely unresisted in this format in general) and big closer Megahorn (not overly useful here, but it does overwhelm a few things like Whiscash), and you’ve got a winner. Escav isn’t THE best Steel or Rock or certainly Water counter, but the fact that it does a nice mix of all of those (AND beats all the other Counter users) makes it a very good build-around piece.
TOGEDEMARU NEW!Togedemaru ElectricSteel
Thunder Shock | Fell Stinger & Wild Charge
LYCANROC (Midnight)Lycanroc (Midnight) Rock
Counter | Psychic Fangs & Crunch/Stone Edge
Anything with Counter has value in this meta, even something like Lycanroc that is weak to Water, Grass, and Steel damage. I slightly lean towards Crunch for its more consistent wins against most Steel types (with unique wins over Galarian Stunfisk and Ferrothorn in particular) and a better path to victory over Shadow Walrein, as opposed to (still-viable) Stone Edge that hates on Flyers and Bugs, specifically beating Pelipper and Araquanid. But Lycanroc’s primary role is clear: smash through Steel types, which it does pretty well before succumbing to its lack of bulk.
QUAGSIRE NEW MOVEQuagsire WaterGround
Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Earthquake/Stone Edge
It’s a whole new ballgame with the addition of Mud Bomb. Usually Stone Edge is a near-must for Lord Quag, but in THIS meta, it’s a bit superfluous. I DO still recommend Edge (alongside Mud Bomb) for Shadow Quag, as it can smack down Skarmory, Pelipper, and Golisopod that way, but for regular Quagsire, I think it’s now the all-Ground moveset you may want, adding on new wins versus Escavalier, Jellicent, Whiscash, Swampert, and Azumarill and shoring up wins versus Lucario and the mirror, making Lord Quag potentially the best overall Mud Boy here!
Mud Slap/Hidden Power (Grass) | Body Slam & Earth Power
The less heralded Mud Boy, but still very viable. It can Mud Slap nearly all Steels to death (particularly if you have good PvP IVs and gain Escavalier), and even Jellicent, Quag, and Whiscash (AND Swampert if you commit to just Body Slam). Nothing fancy… a good workmanlike performance. But even here there’s a fun alternative. Grass is so good in this meta that, if you happen to have a Gastro with Hidden Power (Grass), it too can shred, giving up Lucario and Registeel to brutally smoke Waters and/or Grounds.
Mud Shot | Weather Ball (Water) & Earthquakeᴸ
And the honorary Mud Boy. Not actually being part Ground means no resistances to Rock, Poison, or Electric, but ALSO means resistances to Ice and Water types, and no fatal double vulnerability to Grass. Some of those are more relevant than others in this particular meta, but however you slice it, Politoed is itself very relevant in this meta. Like the Muds, it capably handles big Steel types, and at least with good IVs, beats ALL of the actual Mud Boys. (Though the Shadow versions of Swampert and Quagsire can flip that back.)
Mud Shot/Counter | Ice Punch & Dynamic Punch
Finally, a Great League format where Poliwrath can truly flex, particularly as a Shadow. Mud Shot, Ice Punch, and especially Dynamic Punch ALL have relevance here, putting major pressure on Steels, Rocks, and Grounds alike. Heck, ‘Wrath can even beat Azumarill (that lacks Play Rough), and comes within a whisker of beating even Cradily. If you’ve been holding on to a solid GL Poliwrath and just waiting for the right moment to spring it, THIS IS IT. And while it won’t arrive until the final days of the format (Poliwag Community Day is July 30th, and Fossil Cup leaves on August 3rd), the Counter version is going to rock the format when it arrives! 🥊 I’ll speak to that more in my eventual review of Community Day Poliwrath (sometime next week!).
Wing Attack | Weather Ball (Water) & Hurricane
One thing Poliwrath definitely does NOT want to face down, as Pelipper rips through Fighters, and of course much more besides. Ranked JUST outside the Top 10 of the format (at #11) for good reason, this is no tame, new life-carrying stork, but instead brings death from above to Muds, Bugs, Fighters, and even stuff like Walrein and Jellicent. It may be buried a bit in this article, but Pelipper is most certainly one to watch in this format.
Bubble | Hydro Pump & Ice Beam/Play Rough
And now the Blue Bunny Of Doom. Both coverage moves work, but it all revolves around that big Hydro Pump bomb that’s basically a must for Bastiodon and Galarian Stunfisk. Beyond that, Ice Beam is handy for Pelipper and Swampert, while Play Rough is better for the mirror and outracing Shadow Swampert. This is not likely to be an Azu-dominated meta, but you know there will be sets where you still see it every. Single. Game. Be ready to see it taunting you yet again.
JELLICENT NEW MOVEJellicent WaterGhost
Bubble/Hex | Surf & Shadow Ball
Another case where the meta is not as friendly to a Pokémon as it may be used to, but will still show up all over regardless. So just a quick move comparison for JelliBelli: Hex is not surprisingly better versus opposing Waters, more easily beating Azumarill and Poliwrath in particular, and uniquely outracing Whiscash, but Bubble is just as good (if not even better) in Fossil Cup and is superior against Quagsire. Tough choice, right?
Powder Snowᴸ | Icicle Spearᴸ & Earthquake
Been waiting for this one to show up, haven’t you? Yes, Wally works here, with Earthquake being an even better-than-usual threat against all three of the main typings allowed in this meta (super effective vs Rock and Steel, and big neutral damage to other Waters). And while 1v1 shielding rarely tells the whole story, it DOES clearly tell the story here that Shadow Wally is likely worth more consideration than non-Shadow. Non-Shadow outlasts Swampert and Jellicent in close battles, but Shadow Walrein goes out and instead beats Shadow Swampert, Quagsire, Pelipper, Skarmory, Bastiodon, and even Cradily. THAT is the kind of terror you want Walrein striking into the hearts of your opponent.
DEWGONG NEW MOVEDewgong WaterIce
Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Blizzard/Drill Run
And yet another normally-stout bulkmeister that is brought somewhat low in Fossil Cup. Drill Run is obviously a great new twist on Dewgong overall that allows it to now overcome Mawile, but I do still wonder if you still want Blizzard to bring in wins over Ferrothorn and Quagsire instead. Your call, my friend.
ALOLAN SANDSLASH NEW MOVESandslash (Alola) IceSteel
Shadow Clawᴸ | Ice Punch & Blizzard/Drill Run
Similarly, Alolan Sandslash also gets Drill Run now, and while I do think Shadow A-Slash wants it (running over Jellicent, Azumarill, and Spark Lanturn with it), regular A-Slash may not even want it, again with Blizzard being the wild card. With it, A-Slash picks up Quagsire AND Whiscash, two results that will likely shock most opponents that normally see A-Slash as easy pickings for Mud Bombs. Just one of those fun little findings to keep in the back of your mind.
PERRSERKER NEW (to this article)Perrserker Steel
Shadow Claw | Foul Play & Close Combat
I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong, and I’ll admit it: I just flat out missed Perrserker last time I analyzed this format. Sometimes it’s not just about the numbers, because they still aren’t great. Dude still has to watch out for anything Fighting and Ground, and even many Waters, which doesn’t leave it much room. But it is an excellent anti-Grass that also handles Jellicent and Skarmory, and at least strikes serious fear into other Steels as well thanks to Close Combat, and that’s really not a bad niche to occupy at all. Brought out at the right time, with the right teammates to clear the field ahead of it, Perrserker could absolutely rake.
LANTURN NEW MOVELanturn WaterElectric
Spark/Water Gun | Surf & Thunderbolt
Last time, Lanturn was held back a bit, and while even the addition of Surf is perhaps more of a ripple than a wave, it CAN at least overcome Lucario more reliably now, so that’s good. The Water Gun variant becomes more reliable now too, trading away Araquanid, Lucario, and typically the mirror to best Registeel and Alolan Sandslash instead.
SLOWBRO NEW MOVESlowbro WaterPsychic
Confusion | Surfᴸ & Psychic/Ice Beam
I suppose it’s worth pointing out that Slowbro is at least interesting enough to mention now that it has Surf, with ShadowBro capably handling Counter users (and Water Gun Lanturn), and non-Shadow instead muscling out Mud Boys Swampert and (Shadow) Quagsire, and either version handling stuff like Azu, Whiscash, Poliwrath, and regular Quag.
BRUXISH NEW!Bruxish WaterPsychic
Confusion | Psychic Fangs & Aqua Tail
Honestly, though, Bruxish remains a bit better than Slowbro, beating everything Bro can (to include Lucario, Escavalier, WG Lanturn, and Swampert) with Shadow Quagsire being the sole exception, and adding on Shadow Swampert and Pelipper. If your goal is to literally confuse the opponent to death, I think Brux is the superior way to try and do it.
TOXAPEX NEW!Toxapex PoisonWater
Poison Jab | Brine & Sludge Wave
The Water type that wallops Grasses (other than pesky Ferrothorn), and a good deal more. Things get messy where Poison-resistant Steels or Rocks are involved, but there’s plenty of intrigue left for Toxapex to make its mark on another new-to-it meta. Expect it to grind away at your team at some point, and be prepared with an answer!
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
Bullet Seed | Power Whip & Thunder
And here we are, our third and final Grass family in Fossil Cup. (Though one more new, solo Grass does remain.) I imagine I’ve made the case for Grass moves in this format already, but what makes Ferro particularly interesting is that it’s the only one of the three (so far) that resists other Grass moves (doubly so), and thus rather easily bests Cradily and Ludicolo, while still doing much the same job as they do versus the rest of the meta. The only things it somewhat struggles against that the others can handle are Shadow Swampert (Earthquake deals big neutral damage) and Mawile (for rather obvious reasons 🔥😬). All the Grasses make a good case here, but perhaps Ferro most of all?
Fire Fang | Power-Up Punch & Iron Head
Honestly, while Mawile is a unique part of the meta, its contributions are just okay. It DOES do a nice job crossing out some of the more difficult threats in the meta, from Registeel to Lucario to Escavalier to Araquanid to Skarmory and Ferrothorn and, thanks to Iron Head, Cradily too. Shadow Mawile does… well, the same things, except it often falls to Registeel and wins the mirror match instead. (And yes, you do still want to stick with Fire Fang rather than new Fairy Wind, I think.)
Air Slash | Sky Attack & Brave Bird
Still beats all the Grasses (even Cradily with its scary Rock moves) and Bugs in the format, most of the Mud Boys (Swampert remains elusive), and then bonuses like Pelipper and Jellicent… and did you know Skarm can beat Walrein too? It’s a solid performance that will surely lead to Skarmory being out in force yet again. Note that Shadow Skarm looks much less preferred here, however.
Smack Down | Stone Edge & Flash Cannon/Flamethrower
No, this isn’t a great meta for Rock types, but Bastie don’t care. Through crazy bulk and sheer force of will, it still manages to stomp out much of the meta, from Grasses like Cradily and Ferrothorn (even without Flamethrower!) to Flyers like Pelipper and Skarmory to other smashable things like Walrein, Golisopod, Araquanid, Jellicent, and even Mawile. Note that you may be best here without Flamethrower at all, with Flash Cannon useful for winning the mirror and Stone Edge being needed for Jelli.Carbink RockFairy
And yes, you can show off your CARBINK in this meta now, and yes, it has some legit good things going for it, like being a Rock that can turn the tables on Fighters and some notable Waters like Lanturn and Jellicent too. (Extreme bulk will do funny stuff like that.) But I think there’s just too much working against it for it work except on a carefully crafted team. Too much Steel and Water and Ground and Grass (some of which Bastiodon can fend off better with its helpful Steel subtyping) around for it to contend with, I think.
GALARIAN STUNFISKStunfisk (Galarian) GroundSteel
Mud Shot | Rock Slide & Earthquake
I’m always a little distressed when I see G-Fisk in a new meta, but as with several other big names here, it’s not nearly as scary as you’re accustomed to in Fossil Cup. As (most) Rocks are already kind of hated out of the meta, G-Fisk’s one shining role is in effectively bringing Steels down low, from Bastie to Mawile to Skarm to Regi. (Others like Ferrothorn and Escavalier remain issues for obvious reasons.) It can also punch out Jellicent and even some scarier opponents like Araquanid and Cradily (though those are both really close). So yes, it HAS a role, it’s just more specialist than all-powerful generalist in this meta. Having lots of Waters lurking around every corner will do that.
Bug Bite | Mirror Shot & Earthquake
The Golf Ball Of Doom is a Pokémon that tends to be forgotten, but shouldn’t be. Dominating the Grasses while also smacking aside Walrein (including Shadow Wally) and G-Fisk is just the start. Being big and bulky means Forret can wear down Alolan Sandslash, Jellicent, Whiscash, and Quagsire too. Don’t forget about it!
RAINY CASTFORMCastform (Rainy) Water
Water Gun | Weather Ball (Water) & Thunder
And now some wet n’ wild 75k picks, starting with one of the more underrated pick in the format. 💦 Not only does Castform give Lanturn a run for its money, but it outclasses most other Waters period. Not only does Rainy dominate things it should like G-Fisk, Bastie, and Mawile, but with Thunder it blasts Azumarill (regardless of Azu’s moves), Jellicent, Skarmory, Walrein and more. Pure Weather Ball spam and bulk combine to also wash away Lucario, Swampert, Whiscash, Alolan Sandlash, and Escavalier, for a start. Its overall record puts it right up there in the same neighborhood as Lanturn and the Mud Boys. Rainy is criminally underrated.
Water Gun/Ice Shardᴸ | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ
Good old faithful Lapras, still competing all these years later. Unlike most other Ice types in this meta, Lapras comes with potent Water-type damage from Surf, allowing it to put in one of the better Water/Ice performances. But it gets much, MUCH better if you do something those others cannot: forgo Ice-type fast moves entirely and run and gun with Water Gun, beating everything that Ice Shard Lapras can PLUS Registeel (though a crafty Regi can limp away with single digit HP if it commits to straight Zap Cannon), Bastiodon, Golisopod, Quagsire, and Galarian Stunfisk… plus every single Ice type in the meta besides Sealeo and (non-Shadow) Alolan Sandslash. You really want to just stick with non-Shadow Lapras, though… Shadow Lappie suffers from the slashed bulk.
100,000 Dust/100 Candy
It’s not that the Legendary and Mythical Pokémon aren’t good, it’s just that I’m running out of space (and your brain likely is too!), so I’ll go through these expensive options in rapid fire style!Registeel Steel
- Oh yeah, REGISTEEL will be a frequent encounter here. I mean, heck, it’s still rated #1! But in many ways, the core meta forms around it, so there’s plenty to keep it in check with Fighting, Ground, or even Fire damage. Just scan that loss list and you’ll get the idea, but make sure you’re packing at least one solid Registeel counter among your three… ideally more than one!
- REGIROCK clearly takes a back seat, but it can still a potent force here. Many of the same things that plague Registeel suppress Regirock as well, though it can fight back against things like Mawile better.
- KARTANA is NEW and excellent here for anyone who has one in Great League (which would require getting it from research during the Ultra Beast Arrival event, and trading for sub-10-10-10 IVs. (Even an 8-10-10 would work, so it’s not overly difficult.) Let’s just say it this way: it can handle all the format’s Rock types except Magcargo, Hisuian Growlithe, and sometimes Shadow Lileep, and all Waters but Mantine, Pelipper, Toxapex, Araquanid, and sometimes Golisopod. That’s an 80% win rate, folks. Kartana is poised for a breakout at last.
- And just for funsies, you could run CELESTEELA acquired from the same weekend as Kartana if you really want to, and no funky trading required, But uh… Skarmory is still better overall, at least in this meta.
- For once, I think MELMETAL does NOT want Rock Slide as much as Thunderbolt, with which it can beat either variety of Walrein with straight Thunderbolt, which is handy. Specifically, it picks up Lucario this way and wins most of its other matchups a bit more convincingly, though it does drops, rather ironically, Jellicent, having enough time to reach three Rock Slides but only two Thunderbolt, which is not quite enough. As for Double Iron Bash… just not enough good targets in this meta to make up for all the Steels and Waters that resist it.
- For those of you lucky enough to have traded for one under 1500 CP, I think you’ll enjoy using TAPU FINI in this meta. It’s a very suitable replacement for Azumarill.
Here I cover ‘mons that are no less “nifty” than those in the main article above, but require maxing or at least almost maxing out, so they are FAR from “thrifty”! Best acquired in a Lucky trade for good IVs and less investment. I’ll also cover these in bulletized format to bring this article home!Lileep RockGrass
- The first XL thought on many players’ mind here, especially after I highlighted Cradily and other Grasses, is surely LILEEP. Yes, if you lucked into getting the no-longer-available Bullet Seed variety, it’s very viable here. If not… well, it can still kinda work with Infestation, but is a bit less exciting, no longer able to beat Pelipper or Jellicent (though it does pick up a win over Cradily). Show me those ABB Cradily/Lileep teams, trainers!
- Another Grass pre-evolution: LOMBRE. Puts on a decent imitation of Ludicolo, no? More ABB potential.
- TRASH CLOAK WORMADAM is for once much better off with Bug Bite than the more typical Confusion, biting down the likes of Ferrothorn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Water Gun Lanturn, and even Bug-resistant Azumarill. It’s basically an alternate Forretress that beats Azu and Araquanid instead of the G-Fisk and A-Slash that Forret can quake down instead.
And 50+ Pokémon later, we’re done! Yes, in a massive format like this, there are surely other viable options I didn’t even cover that are on the cusp of potential greatness too. But I had to cut off somewhere, and hopefully this is sufficient to hit most of the highlights and help you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!).
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter (@JRESeawolf, as direct links are not currently allowed on Reddit) for regular PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!
Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you master Fossil Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!