Nifty Or Thrifty PvP Guide: Hisui Cup

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The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: Hisui Cup (A.K.A. Sinnoh Cup 2.0 😆), 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 and/or levelling 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 and where should we perhaps channel our inner scrooge?

A quick reminder of what Hisui Cup is:

  • Great League, 1500 CP Limit
  • Only Pokémon with a Pokédex number from #387 to #493 OR first introduced in the Hisui region will be allowed.

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

I will also throw up a 💥 by any new stuff since our trek through Sinnoh Cup months ago. Obviously, this means the new Hisuians!

Thankfully there are a lot of great options among the 10,000 and 50,000 categories, so let’s get to it!

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

LUCARIO (Baby Discount™) ♻️♻️

Lucario FightingSteel

Counter | Power-Up Punch & Shadow Ball/Close Combat

I know, the temptation is great to run double bombs with something like Close Combat and Shadow Ball. And that’s not “wrong”, per se, here’s the thing: Luc does a ton of work with just Counter and Power-Up Punch (even against the entirety of Sinnoh/Hisui Pokémon), taking down all Normals, Steels, and Rocks in the format except Mud Slap Rhyperior, plus every Ice but Froslass and every Dark except for Spiritomb. Oh, and thanks to its Steel subtyping, it can outlast Tangrowth and most other Grasses too. And again… that’s all just with little Power-Up Punch. So the question then becomes: what closer to use? Both Close Combat and Shadow Ball flip Bronzong from a tie to a win, and then Combat and its 45-energy cost outraces Froslass and Gallade, while Shadow Ball can pick off Cresselia and Gliscor. Just don’t forget, as you build your Lucario, to start with a Riolu and double move it BEFORE you evolve (for only 10,000 stardust) for the infamous Baby Discount™, a savings in this case of 65,000 dust. Cha-ching!

As for other cheap Fighters, the pickings are pretty slim in this format. It’s really just Luc and INFERNAPE, A.K.A. the forgotten Blast Burn recipient. The Fire Ape actually has solid moves with Burn, Close Combat, and Fire Spin, but it’s pretty glassy and just doesn’t work as well as fellow Flaming Fighting Blaziken in PvP, and doesn’t work particularly well in Hisui Cup. It does very few Fighting things, and really just operates as a Fire that can also take out Bastiodon, which is something, at least.

EMPOLEON ♻️♻️♻️

Empoleon WaterSteel

Waterfall | Drill Peck & Hydro Cannonᴸ

Sticking with the starters, we come to one of the best PvP Pokémon from Sinnoh, the unique Steely Water Empoleon. The Steel subtyping is part curse — weaknesses to Fighters and Grounds, most notably — but mostly blessing with resistances to Psychic, Flying, Poison, Normal, Rock, and other relevant types of damage that other Waters do not enjoy. In the end, that means there isn’t much Empoleon has to fear outside of Fighters, Grounds, Electrics, and Grasses. This meta is pretty friendly to The Emperor overall.

Even pre-evolution PRINPLUP can get in on the fun if you’re feeling spicy. While it lacks the Steel subtyping of Empoleon, it has Icy Wind for shenanigans and big fat Hydro Pump powered out by Bubble to slam the door on a lot of things. Don’t discount it… Prinplup is a legit good Water type here, really trailing only Empie and the next entry on our list….

BIBAREL ♻️

Bibarel (Shadow) NormalWater

Water Gun | Surf & Hyper Fang

Admittedly, regular Bibarel looks rather tame, but for those of you actually removed Frustration from Shadow Bibarel may be in for a rare treat. Shadow is mostly upside, losing only Togekiss and Hisuian Qwilfish that non-Shadow can beat among the core meta Pokémon, and adding on Trash Wormadam, Gastrodon, and Bronzong to a resume that already includes all Fires and Ghosts (particularly dominating Froslass by resisting her Ice AND Ghost moves) and nearly all Ground and Rock types in the format, with bonuses like Drapion and Munchlax and Lickilicky too (resisting Drap’s Aqua Tail and Licki and Munchie’s Lick damage). Bibarel is uniquely positioned in this meta and can carry teams if you’re willing to give it a look.

MUNCHLAX ♻️♻️

Munchlax Normal

Lick | Body Slam & Bulldoze

Speaking of Munchie, Snorlax’s little bro can be a solid contributor in various limited formats, and such is the case in Hisui Cup. While it lacks the Superpower that has allowed Snorlax to take off in PvP, Munchlax retains the potent Lick/Body Slam combo that makes Snorlax and the Lickis tick, and has Bulldoze for coverage and closing power, with which it can specifically close out wins over Froslass, Hisuian Qwilfish, and Bastiodon (and get more convincing wins versus stuff like Bronzong and Skuntank too).

STARAPTOR ♻️

Staraptor NormalFlying

Wing Attack | Close Combat & Brave Bird

Sorry, but no. Just no.

CHERRIM (Sunshine) ♻️♻️

Cherrim (Sunny) Grass

Bullet Seed | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam

AKA Roserade Lite, though Cherrim, despite not having nearly as solid a second charge move option as Roserade, still looks like it might be the better bet in this meta. We’ll still look at Rose later (as it does have some good things going for it), but Cherrim lives long enough to beat things Roserade can’t like Gliscor, Lickilicky, and Hippowdon, and is far superior in wins versus Magnezone and Munchlax. And being mono-Grass means it better handles Psychics and thus can beat Trashadam and Cresselia too. (Rose cannot.) Cherrim is deceptively potent in this meta and super cheap to build from the ground up.

DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

There’s actually not much else to talk about among the 10k options. TORTERRA and GROTLE represent cheap Razor Leaf options, but they don’t do anything great, even as Shadows. (Razor Leaf just isn’t all that good in this meta in general, honestly… even some of the best of the best would be pretty poor if allowed in.)…. KRICKETUNE is similarly so-so, as are any WORMADAM without a Trash cloak.

50,000 Dust/50 Candy

ABOMASNOW ♻️♻️♻️♻️

Abomasnow GrassIce

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Blizzard/Energy Ball

Probably one of the first Sinnoh Pokémon to come to mind, as it tears up big chunks of Great (and Ultra) League even outside of Cups. (Yes, enough to give it four ♻️s out of three!) And yes, it’s good here… but not so much with the same old moveset. Yes, you absolutely still want Weather Ball, but the standard Energy Ball only does so much for you here. Yes, Ball beats stuff like Bibarel, Bonsly, and Prinplup, but it’s actually Blizzard that seems the better closer in this meta for how it can win versus Hippowdon and even Magnezone, and also wins the mirror match. You may not want to play TM roulette to swap to Blizzard (and then presumably back to Energy Ball when Hisui Cup is over), but I DO recommend it if you’re able. And yes, that goes for Shadowbama too.

FROSLASS ♻️♻️♻️

Froslass IceGhost

Powder Snow | Avalanche & Shadow Ball/Crunch

Another pretty famous Ice type from Sinnoh that’s decent in Open play but seems to really excel in any eligible Cup formats… and Hisui Cup is no exception. Lass does all the things you’d hope for from an Ice type, plus major Fighters and Psychics thanks to its Ghost side, all in one neat and easy package. Shadow Ball is the de facto second move and I won’t try to persuade you otherwise in this case, though Crunch is okay as well and does come with the potential debuff, if you’re feeling lucky.

GASTRODON ♻️♻️

Gastrodon WaterGround

Mud Slap | Body Slam & Earth Power

If you look over the Hisui Cup rankings, most of the top names probably aren’t a big surprise: Abomasnow, Froslass, Empoleon, Munchlax, and Lucario we already examined the virtues of, and then there’s stuff you know will show well later in the article like Toxicroak, Drapion, and ol’ Pancake Face himself: Bastiodon. But uh… what is Gastrodon, of all things, doing inside the Top 15? Well, it’s the only “Mud Boy” in this format, and that Water/Ground typing of course comes with but a single weakness (albeit a double weakness) to Grass. But more than that, Ground is actually a really good typing in this meta, to the point that with Mud Slap alone, Gastro can take down every Rock, Steel, Electric, and Poison in the meta except Trashadam and Roserade. Yes, that includes the new Hisuians and such names as Bastiodon, Lucario, Toxicroak, Empoleon, Magnezone, and the Dark/Poisons. Add in charge moves Body Slam and Earth Power and now Gastroboy adds on stuff like Munchlax, Lickilicky, Hippowdon, and that formerly-elusive Trashadam too. Grasses obviously must be avoided, and anything Flying is problematic with Ground typically being double resisted, but beyond those, Gastrodon is going to put the hurt on just about anything, and more often than not come out on top! Now is a fantastic time to build one if you never have. It has enough viability in other limited formats that it can’t hurt to have one on hand anyway.

TOXICROAK ♻️♻️♻️

Toxicroak PoisonFighting

Counter | Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb

I mean, do I really need to convince anyone of Toxicroak’s usefulness at this pont? Is it really that surprising when I tell you that it’s good in Hisui Cup? Didn’t think so. 🙃 Yeah, it’s good, but watch out for Psychics and Fairies and Ghosts… and Grounds like Gastrodon. 😬 As long as the rest of your team can bail Toxi out in those bad spots, it can do a lot for you. Sometimes analysis is just that easy!

💥 HISUIAN SNEASEL ♻️♻️♻️

Sneasel (Hisuian) FightingPoison

Poison Jab | Close Combat & X-Scissor/Aerial Ace

Here we go… new stuff! No longer Dark OR Icy, this Poisonous Fighter (just like Toxi) arrives with a bang, though it could be a little tricky to handle, as its performance relies at least somewhat on X-Scissor baits. It CAN still do good things with just Close Combat, though in most of those cases it has to build up energy for two and hope to get one to land, which is, again, tricky. If you can make it all work, then even things like Bastiodon, Empoleon, and Hippowdon — things that no Poison should really be beating — enter the picture. You can’t argue with the potential!

Sneasler FightingPoison

There’s also SNEASLER 💥, which has even higher potential thanks to Shadow Claw (adding on Magnezone, Froslass, and even Gastrodon!), but technically, it shouldn’t be possible to sneak one under 1500 CP with H-Sneasel being a hatch exclusive for now. Still, someone will pull it off through shenanigans, so be prepared to handle it should one show up.

💥 HISUIAN QWILFISH ♻️♻️♻️

Qwilfish (Hisuian) DarkPoison

Poison Jab | Aqua Tail & Ice Beam/Shadow Ball

Another new entry, this time as the newest member of the exclusive Dark/Poison club, famous for having but one single weakness (to Ground) and five resistances (Ghost, Dark, Poison, Psychic, and Grass). And like the new Sneasel, Qwil arrives in style. It has a great way to defend itself from those pesky Ground types thanks to retaining the Aqua Tail of its Johto cousin, which combined with Ice Beam allows H-Qwil to actually defeat all Grounds in the format but Gabite and Gastrodon! (Hippowdon requires Ice Beam specifically, BTW). This in addition to already slapping down Grasses, Psychics, and things like Togekiss, Drapion, Drifblim, and Lickilicky too. Thank goodness we have a couple things like this and Sneasel to make this really feel like an actual Hisuian Cup.

SKUNTANK ♻️♻️

Skuntank PoisonDark

Poison Jab | Crunch & Returnᴸ (Purified)/Flamethrower (Shadow)

Flamethrower is great versus opposing Steels (roasting Trashadam in particular), but Skuntank continues to be best with Return as its second move (alongside Crunch) if you can manage it, as it wins the mirror and has the closing power to finish off tankier stuff like Lickilicky. But that may all be academic, as Shadow Stank (with Flamethrower) seems the best of both worlds, able to take out Trashadam and Lickilicky, plus Munchlax, Gliscor, and Bronzong, unlike any non-Shadow version.

ROSERADE ♻️♻️♻️

Roserade GrassPoison

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

As mentioned much earlier, Cherrim is cheaper and has a number of distinct advantages over Bullet Seed Roserade. Rose’s big advantage then is Poison Jab, with which it can match Cherrim’s wins against Magnezone and Munchlax (albeit just barely), and gets unique wins against Togekiss and both Dark/Poisons (Skuntank and Drapion). Bullet Seed Rose can outrace Froslass and Abomasnow, unlike Cherrim, but you can see from the numbers that it’s a bit lackluster overall. Roserade is more the spice and Cherrim potentially more the meta, as wrong as it sounds to say it. (But Roserade has better lasting value if you’re choosing one to build for future GBL play as well.)

TOGEKISS ♻️♻️

Togekiss FairyFlying

Charm | Ancient Power & Flamethrower

Being the only Charmer in the format (we don’t mention Charm Gallade) does, of course, have value, even in a meta with limited Fighters and Darks (and the top options even out of those — Toxicroak, Lucario, and the Dark/Poisons — taking only neutral damage from Charm). Also being a Flyer means that Kiss can also tolerate Grounds and Grasses (even Tangrowth and its Rock Slides), and it tends to beat Munchlax and Lickilicky as bonuses. It also loses to Froslass and Hippowdon JUST barely (Lass is left with 2 HP and Hippo with 1 single HP), so those can enter the win column as well under the right circumstances. Togekiss isn’t fantastic — there’s a reason it tends to trail several other Charmers in Great League, as it’s less tanky and the Flying subtype comes with just as many glaring weaknesses as it does resistances — but it’s more than good enough to scratch the itch of Charm fans here.

HONCHKROW ♻️♻️

Honchkrow DarkFlying

Snarl | Sky Attack & Brave Bird

Perhaps this is me just being overly optimistic, but I’ve tried to call attention to the potential of Honch in other past metas (Halloween Cup being the most recent, if memory serves), and I’m gonna do the same here. I know it’s flimsy and has a rather easily exploited type combination and relies at least somewhat on good baits leading to knockout Brave Birds, but dang it all, I can’t ignore a ceiling like this even if I want to. I can console myself with the fact that it doesn’t have to bait out Brave Bird to still do relatively well with just Sky Attack, still handling Gastrodon, Fighters like Toxicroak and Gallade (though, notably, not Lucario), things that rely on Psychic or Ghost damage like Bronzong, Trashadam, Munchlax, and Lickilicky, and even stuff you might expect to cause it trouble like Tangrowth and Froslass. Brave Bird allows Honch to reach for things like Drifblim, Gliscor, Hippowdon, and the Dark/Poisons, but even without them I think it may yet find a role in Hisui Cup. It almost HAS to one of these days… I still believe.

💥 HISUIAN ELECTRODE ♻️♻️

Electrode (Hisuian) ElectricGrass

Thunder Shock | Energy Ball & Wild Charge

Honestly, the newer Hisuians are more exciting, but yes, H-Trode has a place here, particularly if you have one with good PvP IVs, which can potentially gain Lucario, Gallade, Bronzong, and Munchlax.

MAGNEZONE ♻️♻️

Magnezone ElectricSteel

Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge

One thing that makes for a bad day at the office for Honch AND Togekiss is the unique terror known as Magnezone. As with Honchkrow, the potential is massive, and even the floor (A.K.A. having not all baits work out) isn’t too low… ‘Zone does alright even just skipping over Mirror Shot and going straight for the jugular with Wild Charge if you don’t wanna mess around. It remains a high-risk/high-reward option, as always, and it best used by players experienced with when to throw which charge move… in the right hands, it can be truly devastating. Look at the core meta losses: just Ground types Gastrodon, Hippowdon, and Gliscor, and Fighters Lucario and Toxicroak. And that’s it… if all goes exactly to plan, of course. Shadow ‘Zone is close, with just Munchlax sneaking into the loss column, but facing one down goes beyond mere numbers and simulations… the psychological factor with Shadow Magnezone is real.

BRONZONG ♻️♻️

Bronzong SteelPsychic

Confusion | Psyshock & Bulldoze/Payback

The overall win/loss record isn’t great on the surface, but Zong occupies a rather unique niche in beating Fighters like Toxicroak, Grasses like Tangrowth and Abomasnow, Flyers like Togekiss, AND other Confusion users like Trashadam and Gallade, while also handling Cresselia at the same time. My general recommendation for the second move to go with Psyshock is Bulldoze for the coverage it provides versus Poisons and other Steels, but Payback wins the mirror without giving up much of note except sometimes Skuntank.

PROBOPASS ♻️♻️

Probopass RockSteel

Spark | Rock Slide & Thunderbolt

“Bastiodon Junior” usually has a very interchangable moveset, with Spark and Rock Throw sets both performing about equally and even the charge moves not mattering all that much. But for once, there’s a clear winner, and it’s Spark. My recommendation for charge moves are Rock Slide and Thunderbolt, the combination of which can take down Bastiodon and Empoleon (something Rock Throw just can’t ever do). I could go into other details, like how Magnet Bomb beats Bastie more efficiently (not even needing Thunderbolt then), but let’s keep things simple and just stick with RS/TB and call it a day. Only other comment is that Probopass is better than you probably think outside of Hisui Cup, even in Open Great League. Just sayin’.

RHYPERIOR ♻️

Rhyperior GroundRock

Mud Slap | Surf & Superpower

The bad news is that you’re unlikely to be using Rhyperior in Great League much after Hisui Cup is over except for perhaps the odd limited meta here or there. The good news is that it’s still a pretty cheap build, likely just the cost for a second charge move. The best news is that you don’t need Legacy Rock Wrecker if you don’t have it available, as Surf/Superpower would seem to be the best way to go, with the easiest path to victory over things like Trashadam, Lickilicky, and Munchlax. Mud Slap makes it all go… remember how good it was on Gastrodon? Same story here. If you like investing in some new inexpensive toys when a new meta rolls around, Rhyperior is one of the better short-term investments to be found in Hisui Cup.

HIPPOWDON ♻️

Hippowdon Ground

Fire Fang | Weather Ball (Rock) & Earth Power/Body Slam

There are several fun move combos, but the overall best revolve around Fire Fang and Weather Ball (Rock), which roasts all Steels in the meta besides Empoleon and Bastiodon (which sounds bad, but keep in mind that list still includes Lucario, Trashadam, Magnezone, Probopass, and Bronzong) and at least keeps Grasses honest (and beats down Abomasnow and Roserade specifically), plus every Ice but Froslass. After that it’s basically a matter of going for Earth Power to have the advantage versus Bastiodon (generally my recommendation) or Body Slam for very wide neutral coverage (and a win in the mirror match specifcally). Similar to Rhyperior, this may be more of a build for one-time use, but it looks like a lot of fun here!

MAMOSWINE ♻️

Mamoswine IceGround

Powder Snow | Avalanche & Bulldoze

Typically plays second fiddle to Piloswine in Great League… and seeing as how there’s a good chance you’ve never seen Piloswine in GBL, that should tell you something. That said, Mamoswine really isn’t all that bad in Cup formats, and is actually pretty darn good in Hisui Cup. It does good Ice things (even managing to beat Abomasnow and Tangrowth despite being weak to Grass damage) while its Ground typing (and Bulldoze) are for once more blessing than curse, leading to wins versus Magnezone, Bastiodon, Bronzong, the Dark/Poisons, and more.

WEAVILE ♻️

Weavile DarkIce

Ice Shard/Snarl | Avalanche & Foul Play/Focus Blast

If you’ve always dreamed of using Weavile in PvP, here’s your chance. It handles an interesting subset of the meta, including either Froslass with Foul Play or Trashadam with Focus Blast. (Or both with Snarl and Focus Blast.) This is just a spice pick, but you may never get a chance to truly use Weavile in Great League again, so… YOLO!

TANGROWTH ♻️♻️♻️

Tangrowth Grass

Vine Whip | Power Whip & Rock Slide

Obviously a solid Grass like Tangrowth is going to be good versus Waters and Grounds… Tangrowth beats them all except for Mamoswine and Trashadam, and outlasts stuff like Cresselia, Munchlax, Lickilicky, and Gallade too, and Rock Slide comes in handy for knocking stuff like Togekiss out of the skies… and with a single Vine Whip‘s worth of extra energy, even Froslass. Growth is a very solid option in this meta (and a pretty safe build for other GBL/Cup use too).

LICKILICKY ♻️♻️

Lickilicky Normal

Lick | Body Slamᴸ & Earthquake/Shadow Ball

Well, it’s no Lickitung, but Licki’s final form is still alright. It can utilize Shadow Ball instead of Lickitung’s Power Whip, but there’s not a ton of Ghosts to target down here (and Licki beats them all with Lick anyway). So while Ball’s big neutral damage swats down Gastrodon and Togekiss (and those aren’t nothing!), I generally recommend Earthquake to get Trashadam and the Dark/Poisons as well. Your call though!

DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

HISUIAN ARCANINE 💥 would actually be pretty fun here with its Fire Fang damage, but as with Sneasler, it’s just not possible without getting incredibly creative (like trading with low level players who just so happen to have hatched a Hisuian Growlithe). You may still see one, so plan accordingly, but 98% of us will have to just wait for next time when it’s hopefully available in the wild…. Niantic keeps desperately trying to make VESPIQUEN PvP-relevant by tweaking it seemingly every other move rebalance, but it’s just not happening, Niantic. Seriously, give it up already…. As for me, I keep wanting to see LUMINION work in PvP, but alas, that’s a pipe dream too…. Even in such a limited meta as this, DUSKNOIR proves only that it is Dusclops that should have gotten Shadow Ball as an exclusive move instead. Maybe one day it will, just as both Porygon-Z and later Porygon2 received Tri-Attack…. Speaking of which, PORYGON-Z is indeed eligible here, but you probably don’t want to actually use it.

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

BASTIODON ♻️♻️♻️♻️

Bastiodon RockSteel

Smack Down | Flamethrower & Stone Edge

I mean, I don’t WANT to start this section by highlighting Bastiodon, but I think I’d be remiss to kick off the 75ks any other way, right? Bastie doesn’t need any introduction at this point… you already know how it dominates Ices, Flyers, Grasses, Poisons, and Psychics. The only thing I may be able to open your eyes to is that with Flash Cannon, you actually win the important mirror match, so I actually recommend Cannon instead of the customary Stone Edge. (The only notable new loss that comes from not having Edge is Lickilicky, which Bastie usually loses regardless if Licki is packing Earthquake, so I think that’s acceptable.) Who says ol’ Flatface has no surprises left? 😁

DRAPION ♻️♻️♻️

Drapion PoisonDark

Poison Sting | Crunch & Aqua Tail/Sludge Bomb

Another one that likely needs no introduction after showing up frequently in PvP these days. Drapula works better in Shadow than non-Shadow form. Aqua Tail is great ⁠— as it was for H-Qwilfish ⁠— versus Ground types (though Mamoswine still wins out, along with the Gabite and Gastro that also beat Qwil), and Crunch does most of the rest. Sludge Bomb is necessary for Shadow Drap to beat Togekiss but is otherwise less preferred overall in this meta.

DRIFBLIM ♻️♻️♻️

Drifblim GhostFlying

Hex | Icy Wind & Shadow Ball

After mostly languishing in Great League of late, Drifblim gets a bit of its groove back in Hisui Cup. Wholly dominating the Fighters (including the new Hisuian ones) and Psychics, while also handling big names like Gastrodon, Empoleon, Tangrowth, Gliscor, Trashadam, and Togekiss thanks to nice coverage from Icy Wind and Shadow Ball, Blim fans should be very happy with it here.

GLISCOR ♻️♻️

Gliscor GroundFlying

Fury Cutter | Night Slash & Earthquake

Yeah, I really do think it’s Fury Cutter you want instead of the usually-preferred Wing Attack. The difference is clear and pretty astounding; while Wing Attack is obviously a bit better versus Fighters, only with Fury Cutter does Gliscor outrace stuff like Tangrowth, Munchlax, Lickilicky, Hisuian Qwilfish, Drapion, and Bug-weak Cresselia, all pretty important pickups that take Gliscor from okay option to potential stud. Now with Shadow Gliscor, the difference between Wing Attack and Fury Cutter is a bit closer… but I think that’s less important, since non-Shadow has a clear advantage here anyway. (Shadow never beats Tangrowth or Drapion, as particularly glaring examples.)

GALLADE ♻️

Gallade FightingPsychic

Confusion | Leaf Blade & Close Combat

The good? Gallade handles some of the very biggest names in Hisui Cup, including Bastiodon, Gastrodon, Froslass, Hippowdon, Trashadam, and all other Fighters (yep, the Hisuians too) in the format. And more good news: Shadow Gallade is an upgrade, tacking on Tangrowth and Lickilicky. The bad news is that Gallade is normally pretty lousy in Great League, so this is a very expensive short-term rental, and Gallade still loses to a LOT of things even here. But if ever there was a time for it to bask in GL glory, this is it, folks.

GARCHOMP ♻️

Garchomp GroundDragon

Mud Shot | Sand Tomb & Outrage/Earth Powerᴸ

Another one you’re not going to see much of in Great League (as with Gallade, it’s better in higher leagues), but I love the fact that Chompy may actually have some play here. That’s actually a darn impressive win list, ain’t it? Yes, you can use your Earth Power shiny GL Garchomp you likely evolved during Community Day, but it beats Gallade while Outrage gets the more impactful Gastrodon instead. Just sayin’.

LUXRAY ♻️♻️

Luxray Electric

Snarl | Psychic Fangsᴸ & Wild Charge

Here it is, trainers… your chance to deploy GL-sized LuxraySpark performs a bit better, picking up Togekiss, Lickilicky, and all three (hi, H-Qwil) Dark/Poisons, while Snarl is only good for outracing Gliscor and Hisuian Electrode. And yes, I think I DO tentatively recommnend giving Luxray a whirl if it synergizes with your team, if for no other reason than there is likely never to be a Great League meta where it sees this much potential success. (I gave it two ♻️s in the hope that I’m wrong about that, though!) It’s almost like Niantic knew this was coming when they gave it Psychic Fangs… but that may be giving them too much credit. 😏

MAGMORTAR ♻️

Magmortar Fire

Fire Spin | Fire Punch & Psychic

No, you don’t really want Community Day move Thunderbolt you want, but rather Psychic (the move), which actually has some meaningful wins (unlike Thunderbolt): Gliscor and Toxicroak. A decent Fire isn’t a bad thing here, with Ices (Froslass, Abomasnow), Steels (Bronzong, Trashadam), and of course Grasses to burn down, along with somewhat surprising wins over Drapion (even with Aqua Tail), Gallade, and less surprisingly, Togekiss (no Thunderbolt needed).

DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

I kinda wanted to recommend ELECTIVIRE alongside Magmortar, but it’s awfully expensive when there are several better (and almost all cheaper) options in the meta. Pass…. It as the same typing, but SPIRITOMB is no Sableye, even here in a meta where barely anything can exploit its only weakness (to Fairy danage)…. Nor is ROTOM the next coming on Lanturn, despite an eerily similar moveset. That thing’s got nothing close to Lanturn’s bulk…. Even here, eligible Eevolutions LEAFEON and especially GLACEON continue to disappoint. There are just better Grass and Ice options, folks…. And no, CARNIVINE is not one of those better Grass options.

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

CRESSELIA ♻️♻️♻️

Cresselia Psychic

Psycho Cut/Confusion | Grass Knotᴸ & Moonblast

This is really the only Legendary worth mentioning in this meta, and even the mighty Cress has a limited contribution. You WILL see people wanting to show theirs off, but it’s more easily mitigared than you’re used to.

FEELIN’ LUCKY?

In this extra section, I cover a few mons that are no less “nifty” than those in the main article above, but require maxing or at least almost maxing out, so they are FAR from “thrifty”! Some names you’ve probably been waiting for finally show up here, like….

WORMADAM (Trash Cloak) ♻️♻️

Wormadam (Trash) BugSteel

Confusion | Iron Head & Bug Buzz

Actually the cheapest thing in this section, despite typically dipping into XL Candy, because it still stays in the low 40s and has a second move unlock for only 10,000 dust, but it still counts! Trashadam should very much be a part of this meta, despite a sub-.500 win rate, because the names on that list are pretty darn good. Decent chance you already have of these built, but if not, it’s a pretty safe investment for the future.

BONSLY ♻️♻️

Bonsly Rock

Counter | Rock Slide & Earthquake

Much of Sinnoh/Generation 4 is about new evolutions to older Pokémon, with things like Froslass, Gliscor, Gallade, Tangrowth, Rhyperior, and Roserade requiring, of course, a Sinnoh Stone to evolve in the first place. But it also came with a couple baby versions of prior Pokémon as well, and Bonsly is very much Sudowoodo Junior here, and that’s a very good thing. Being able to beat Bastiodon, Dark/Poisions, Hippowdon, Togekiss, Trashadam, Munchlax and Lickilicky… the only downside is the extreme cost. (We’re talking full-on Level 50 here.) But the payoff gives you a truly unique and truly potent option to play with now and moving forward.

PACHIRISU ♻️♻️♻️

Pachirisu Electric

Volt Switch | Thunder Punch & Thunderbolt/Thunder

Here’s the one that will likely lead to some outcry as the ultimate have/have-not of the format. Because the fact of the matter is that Pachi is one of the hardest acquisitions in the game, AND one of the better PvP regionals in the game. No coverage, no problem thanks to Pachi’s ridiculous bulk, which allows it to operate not just as a solid Electric (cruising past Waters and Flyers with ease), but it can outtank things it has no right to, like Bastiodon, Cresselia, Froslass, Toxicroak, Drapion, Trashadam, all the new Hisuians except Electrode, and many more. If you have a Pachi built… well, shock ’em if you got ’em!

And we’re done! As always, I hope this helps you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!) and put together a competitive and FUN team. If I was successful in that, then it was all worth it.

Until next time, 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 Hisui Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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