Nifty Or Thrifty: Summer Cup PvP Guide

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

A quick reminder of what Summer Cup is:

  • Great League, 1500 CP Limit.
  • Only Pokémon with a Grass, Fire, Water, Electric, Bug, or Normal typing will be allowed.

As per usual, we’ll start with Pokémon 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, 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.

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


Diggersby NormalGround

Mud Shot | Fire Punch & Earthquake/Hyper Beam

At first, it probably seems very odd to lead off the thriftiest section with something that is usually fielded deep into XL territory. But let me explain. Firstly, Diggs obviously has a cheap second move (just 10,000 dust), but more importantly, I would argue that — at least in this particular meta — it’s just as good, if not better, as a non-XL than it is deep into XLs. I mean, a hundo at Level 39.5 can beat literally everything a Level 48ish, low Attack Diggersby can PLUS Bewear and the mirror match. Furthermore, you can even consider Hyper Beam rather than the standard Earthquake and give up Jellicent, Lickitung, and that mirror win to instead beat Swampert, Kingdra, and in the case of the sub-XL hundo, Talonflame as well. High XL Diggs with Beam ekes out a win over Oranguru instead of Talon, but can no longer overcome Magcargo or Shadow A-Wak. Quite a few decisions to make here, eh? I figured this was a good one to start with to encourage thinking outside the box with move selection AND recognizing you don’t always HAVE to follow conventional wisdom with XLs and IVs.

SWAMPERT ♻️♻️♻️♻️

Swampert WaterGround

Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Earthquake/Sludge Wave

May as well stick with Grounds… there aren’t very many of them! This is one of those rare metas where Sludge Wave may be the secondary move of choice for some rather than Earthquake, the latter obviously being quite a bit better versus Electrics and uniquely taking down Poliwrath, but the former has juicy targets like Abomasnow and of course Fairies Wigglytuff and Tapu Fini that it alone eliminates. However, the reverse is true of Shadow Swampie, with Earthquake wresting back control from Sludge Wave by overpowering Walrein, Quagsire, and Obstagoon, while Wave’s Aboma is now Wave’s only standout win.


Whiscash WaterGround

Mud Shot/Water Gun | Mud Bomb & Blizzard

Whiscash — as is often the case — mostly plays second fiddle to Swampert. But Blizzard remains a scary weapon, obviously especially against Flyers. So why not double down on that by running the unconventional Water Gun, trading in Mud Shot wins versus Wigglytuff and Bewear to instead take down Noctowl and Talonflame? At least it gives Cash an intriguing niche.

MANTINE (Baby Discount™) ♻️♻️

Mantine WaterFlying

Wing Attack | Bubble Beam & Ice Beam

As I always caution, Mantine usually requires some experience to use properly, as it’s all about the timing of when to bait with Bubble Beam and when to try and close it out with Ice Beam. Get it right, and it can be a beautiful thing. However, this also seems to be one of those metas where Wing Attack alone can do a lot of work, which makes sense when you think about all the Grasses, Bugs, and key Fighters it can dish out super effective damage to. (Coupled with the rather small pool of Rocks and Steels that resist it.) That makes emphasizing Wing Attack and bolstering Mantine with ONLY Bubble Beam a surprisingly viable strategy as well, actually gaining new win potential like Obstagoon and Oranguru, and really giving up only Frenzy Planters (Venusaur, Meganium, Serperior) to do it. Again, buck the norms and go for broke!

PIDGEOT ♻️♻️♻️

Pidgeot NormalFlying

Wing Attackᴸ/Gustᴸ | Feather Dance & Brave Bird

Yep, Flying is pretty good here, and so is Pidgeot. Yes, those are some truly eye-popping numbers, and with Wing Attack rather than Gust too. (In 1v1 shielding, Wing Attack beats everything Gust can plus outrace Ninetales, Shadow Ninetales, Tapu Fini, Kingdra, and even Walrein. But it’s much closer in other shielding scenarios, with Gust and Wing Attack neck and neck when shields are down (with Gust now beating Walrein and Tapu Fini, as well as Noctowl, Oranguru, and Obstagoon, and Wing Attack instead outracing Aboma, Swampert, Kingdra, Pelipper, and Gust Pidgeot) and Gust pulling ahead in 2v2 shielding (now being the one to beat all the same things as Wing Attack and tacking on Shadow Ninetales, Aboma, and Talonflame). Point being that both Legacy fast moves have a lot of play here, but know what you are and are not getting when you make your choice. Pidgeot is scary good either way.

Noctowl NormalFlying

Less choices to make with NOCTOWL, who (who who! 🦉) is set with Sky Attack and Shadow Ball, and Wing Attack as its only decent fast move. It’s more reliable than Pidgeot versus stuff like Aboma, Trashadam, Swampert and a few others, but conversely, struggles against things Pidgeot can beat like Wigglytuff, Obstagoon, Quagsire and several other big names. If you can manage it, I recommend Pidgeot instead.


Wigglytuff NormalFairy

Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough

Very little in the way of Charmers in this meta, which is reason for many to celebrate. But Wiggly being half Normal means it sneaks in as unquestionably the best Charmer in the format… though even the best is still just okay here. Not only Poison and Steel and the many Fires types in Summer Cup fend it off, but it loses to some other big names like Pidgeot, Pachirisu, Walrein, Diggersby, Abomasnow, and often Azumarill and Tropius and others. Still, you don’t need me to tell you oppressive Charm can be… just look over the winlist.


Whimsicott GrassFairy

Charm | Grass Knot & Moonblast/Hurricane

Whimsie kind of doubles down by becoming even more critically fragile to Fire and Poison (and now Flying as well) to instead resist Electric and Grass and Water and Ground damage that Wiggly does not. So while it loses to things Wiggly can beat like Trevenant, Lickitung, Noctowl, and Araquanid — all of which rely on moves that Wigglytuff resists — Whimsie instead can beat things like Pachirisu, Lanturn, Stunfisk, and Alolan Graveler thanks to resisting Electric damage, and more reliably overcomes Azumarill (even an Azu that just spams Ice Beam).


Meganium Grass

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Earthquake

Anyone who has followed my Nifty Or Thrifty articles for a while knows I LOVE me some Venusaur. But even I have to admit that this meta is generally just better for Meganium, with its Earthquake taking out things Venusaur struggles with like Ferrothorn, Magnezone, and Magcargo, and Meg has a clearer path to victory over Walrein too.


Venusaur GrassPoison

Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb

That all said, Venusaur is still solid, with Sludge Bomb always being a great equalizer even in bad matchups (specifically beating Zapdos that Meg cannot, as one example). And of course, if Grasses and/or Fairies are giving you trouble, Venusaur is a better option than Meganium for sure. I don’t generally recommend Shadow Venusaur, however (or Shadow Meg, for that matter), as it’s a bit of a step backwards.

SERPERIOR is fine too, but can’t really beat anything Meganium and Venusaur cannot. At least until it eventually (soon? 🥺) recieves Frenzy PlantCHESNAUGHT is even another step down from there, unable to take out Walrein, Wigglytuff, Pelipper, or Bewear, but it can beat things like Magcargo and Obstagoon thanks to Superpower, so there’s that. Or there’s the spicy potential of Smack Down to hard counter things like Talonflame and Magcargo… as a Grass. 👀


Talonflame FireFlying

Incinerateᴸ | Flame Charge & Brave Bird

Speaking of Talonflame, as you might have guessed, yes, it’s pretty good here. Random Smack Downers aside, Grasses and Bugs equal chow time, as well as most of its fellow Fire types, plus the potential to overpower a lot of Normals as well, to include Wiggly, Diggs, Pidgeot and Noctowl, Oranguru, Obstagoon and Bewear, and even super chonk Lickitung. Waters, Electrics, and Rocks obviously must be avoided… there’s some serious blowout potential (not in Talon’s flavor) if it gets locked in to a bad matchup. But generally it’s Talonflame that will be dishing out the pain rather than taking it.


Charizard FireFlying

Dragon Breathᴸ/Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ

With Fire Spin‘Zard mostly falls behind Talonflame. Thankfully, it has other more intriguing options. Wing Attack gets many of the wins Talon does and Fire Spin Zard does not, like Poliwrath, Bewear, Alolan Marowak, and Shadow Ninetales, while also beating Trevenant (one of FS Zard’s few standout wins) and adding Walrein (Talonflame can’t even do that) and beating Talon itself. Even better is Dragon Breath, which can beat everything Talonflame can except Shadow A-Wak, tacks on Trevenant, and beats Talon in the head to head. Shadow Zard is a downgrade, though if you’re going to run it, Wing Attack is the way, as it beats Cradily, Noctowl, and Ninetales (whereas non-Shadow instead gets Walrein, Aboma, and A-Wak). Hope that all helps more than confuses! 😵


Magcargo FireRock

Incinerate | Rock Tomb & Overheat/Stone Edge

And now the Fire type that terrorizes those Flying ones above. Mags puts in a good showing here, doing most everything you’d want your Fire type to do, plus capably handling Flyers (even scarier ones like Pelipper and Wing Attack Mantine), plus bonuses like Lickitung (resisting Body Slam is a BIG help) and Oranguru, troublesome Cradily, and of course most other Fires, though you need both Rock charge moves to consistently overpower regular and Shadow A-Wak (giving up Licki and Oranguru without the power of Overheat).


Blaziken FireFighting

Counter | Blaze Kick & Blast Burnᴸ/Stone Edgeᴸ/Brave Bird

Blaziken’s gimmick, of course, is Counter, coupled with an unpredictable closing charge move. And while Brave Bird and Stone Edge both have their merits, in this meta I think it’s best to stick with good old Blast Burn, which alone has the combination of relative speed and raw power necessary to beat things like Noctowl, Stunfisk, and even Fire-resistant Ninetales and Quagsire. Blaze looks more viable here than you might expect… and note that it beats Talonflame and destroys Magcargo.


Volt Switch | Rock Blast & Stone Edge

ALOLAN GOLEM has a slight edge here, able to more reliably beat down Venusaur and Oranguru with its higher Attack stat as compared to ALOLAN GRAVELER. But both are quite handy in their roles as Fire, Electric, Flying, Bug, Ice, and sometimes Water counters. And of course, they’re super cheap to build even from the ground up, which is always nice.


Crustle BugRock

Smack Down | X-Scissor & Rock Slide

A bit less impressive than the Alolan Rocks but still very viable, Crustie’s upside is handling opposing Bugs and (generally) Grasses, Psychics, and Darks better, but being weaker to Waters and Fire. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but just scan the wins and losses and decide which Rock better suits your style and team.


Charjabug BugElectric

Bug Bite | Discharge & X-Scissor

Kind of a weird cross between Crustle and the Alolan Rocks, able to dabble in some Water/Flying countering and some anti-Grass/Dark/Psychic hijinks as well. It doesn’t really excel in either role, but it does enough to formally enter PvP play as a decent contributor for teams willing to take a chance on it.


Beedrill (Shadow) BugPoison

Poison Jab | X-Scissor & Drill Runᴸ

Normal Beedrill is admittedly a little bit of a letdown, but Shadow Bee brings the sauce. Non-Shadow can hold out long enough to beat Lickitung and Bewear, but Shadow racks up a massive list of big, unique wins: Walrein, Pachirisu, Tropius, Stunfisk, and some real surprises like Cradily, Trevenant, and even Talonflame!


Ariados BugPoison

Poison Sting | Megahorn & Cross Poison/Lunge

I do think you want Megahorn‘s knockout power (you fall short against a few things like Oranguru without it), but the debate between Lunge and Cross Poison is a little less clear. Cross Poison can better outrace things like Lanturn, Bewear, Lickitung, and Trevenant (and its effectiveness against things like Tropius makes that a win as well), whereas Lunge brings in wins like Beedrill, Quagsire, Walrein, and Stunfisk. Not so easy, right?


Raichu Electric

Volt Switch | Brick Break & Wild Charge

Another long-time favorite of your friendly neighborhood writer, and one that retains excellent value in almost meta where it’s given a chance… and Summer Cup fits that billBrick Break isn’t a great move, but Raichu makes very good use of it for baiting and just spamming Fighting damage at times, the former helping outrace Jellicent and Wigglytuff, and the latter tearing up Bewear, Magnezone, and others. This all in addition to tormenting Waters and Flyers and punching out others like Beedrill, Trashadam, Ninetales, Oranguru, and more. Don’t underestimate or overlook simple little Raichu. It’ll mess you up, man.


Bewear NormalFighting

Shadow Claw | Superpower & Drain Punchᴸ/Stomp

So there’s no doublt that Drain Punch has a higher potential ceiling than Stomp, though the latter can beat Araquanid (which isn’t nothing), and the former is, of course, more reliant on proper baiting to work out as well as it does with listed unique wins versus Pachirisu, Quagsire, Stunfisk, and Zapdos. I really don’t think there’s a “wrong” answer here… go with what you’re more comfortable with.


Obstagoon DarkNormal

Counter | Night Slash & Cross Chop/Hyper Beam/Obstructᴸ?

As Niantic steadfastly refuses to tell us the cost of Obstruct with any real lead time, I’m left in the position of recommending something I don’t have the full picture on yet. What I CAN say is that you likely don’t really want Cross Chop here, as its only standout win is versus Magcargo. Hyper Beam actually seems much better (yes, I’m being serious, and stop calling me Shirley!), with the knockout power to surprise Pachirisu, Pidgeot, Lanturn, and Stunfisk. The for-now-purely-speculative Obstruct might be the best bet, with possible new wins versus things like Swampert, Pelipper, Ninetales, Tropius, and Trashadam, but again, I’m left to merely postulate and guess, less than a week before Obstruct arrives in the game. Hmmph! 😤

50,000 Dust/50 Candy

ABOMASNOW ♻️♻️♻️♻️

Abomasnow IceGrass

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Energy Ball

Pretty ironic that one of the top Pokémon in Summer Cup is decidedly something you’ll never see in a summery environment, but yes, Abomasnow’s regular version is JUST outside the Top 20, and Shadowbama is comfortably in the Top 10. Non-Shadow’s standout wins include Zapdos, Poliwrath, and Jellicent, while Shadow instead outslugs Walrein, Noctowl, Oranguru, Cradily, and Ferrothorn. Shadowbama has the slight edge, but there is plenty to like about both… like being an Ice type that also beats most Waters and Electrics.


Roserade GrassPoison

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

Another case of two viable moves, with Poison Jab the favorite with special wins versus Beedrill, Bewear, Lickitung, Magcargo, Magnezone, Tapu Fini, Trevenant, Tropius, and Venusaur, or Bullet Seed and its ability to outrace Aboma, Diggersby, Alolan Graveler, Jellicent, Kingdra, and Swampert. Which better fits YOUR team, trainer?


Cradily RockGrass

Bullet Seed | Stone Edge & Grass Knot

And here we have another case of a Grass that beats (most) Flyers… and several prominent Fires (Shadow A-Wak, Shadow Ninetales, Talonflame, etc.) and Bugs (Beedrill, Galvantula, Crustle, etc.) too! Cradily has some holes, no doubt, but this is one of the better metas for its unique set of skills.


Lurantis Grass

Fury Cutter | Leaf Blade & Superpower

Quite a few viable funky Grasses in the 50k group, and here’s anotherLeaf Blade keeps it solidly in the Grass role despite not running a Grass fast move, Superpower makes it deadly to Steels and Normal and Rock types, among others. Hence a listing of rather standard Grass wins, but also things like Obstagoon, Magnezone, Ferrothorn, Lickitung, Magcargo, Oranguru, Bewear and other eye-popping wins.


Jumpluff GrassFlying

Bullet Seed | Acrobaticsᴸ & Energy Ball

Still Tropius Jr., but much better these days than in the past thanks to Acrobatics. Both regular Pluff and ShadowPluff are fine here, with particular standout wins being Pachirisu, Pelipper, and Kingdra (for Shadow) and Alolan Graveler (for non-Shadow), as Trop cannot reliably beat any of those. Otherwise… well, just come back to the Tropius section later down below.


Shiftry GrassDark

Snarl | Leaf Blade & Hurricane/Foul Play

Finally, the last of the Grasses in this section, I promise! Shiftry has been largely forgotten in Great League these days, but don’t forget it here! Also forgotten is Hurricane as a potential closing move, with which Shifty can overwhelm Venusaur, Pelipper, and Kingdra. The more typical Foul Play instead overcomes Ferrothorn and Shadow Alolan Marowak (and at least ties regular A-Wak).


Marowak (Alola) FireGhost

Hex/Fire Spin | Bone Club & Shadow Ball/Shadow Boneᴸ

Speaking of A-Wak, let’s go ahead and tackle that now, because there’s quite a bit to discuss. Shadow or non-Shadow? Shadow Bone or Shadow BallFire Spin or… Hex? Wait, really? Yeah, while Fire Spin certainly still has some good things going for it (unique wins over Beedrill, Cradily, and Wigglytuff, for instance), Hex (paired with Shadow Ball) is just as good, really, with wins over Shadow Ninetales, Pelipper, Kingdra, and Fire Spin A-Wak instead. Even better, Shadow A-Wak with Hex has much more potential, losing the mirror match, but gaining Pachirisu, Jellicent, Talonflame, Tapu Fini, Lanturn, and Alolan Graveler! Some of those (like Fini, Pelipper, and A-Grav) really defy expectations. Use that to your advantage and shock the opposition!


Ninetales Fire

Fire Spin/Ember | Weather Ball (Fire) & Overheat/Solar Beam

I mean, you CAN get cute here by running Solar Beam as your closer, which can rather famously beat Jellicent and certainly keep Waters in general on their toes, but Overheat is more consistent and just… better overall, particularly on Shadow Ninetales which gains wins versus things like Shadow A-Wak, Araquanid, Stunfisk, Talonflame, and Lickitung. (Though its relative lack of bulk means it misses out on Bewear and Magnezone that non-Shadow Tails can beat.) There’s also the Ember variant made famous during Worlds play this summer which gets back Magnezone and beats Alolan Marowak straight up, but it misses out on Shadow A-Wak, Talonflame, and loses to Shadow Tails with Fire Spin. 🔥 Got all that?

WALREIN ♻️♻️♻️

Walrein IceWater

Powder Snowᴸ | Icicle Spearᴸ & Earthquake

Yeah, Wally remains a terror, in normal or Shadow form. Generally I lean towards non-Shadow for its ability to outlast Abomasnow, Beedrill, Jellicent, Shadow A-Wak, Shadow Ninetales, Swampert, and Talonflame; Shadow Walrein instead can beat Cradily, Lanturn, Pelipper, Quagsire, Tapu Fini, and Trashadam. But either way… yeah, no reason to expect NOT to see a lot of everyone’s (least) favorite Tuskface.

So prevelant is Walrein anymore that it’s almost pushed poor DEWGONG into obscurity. It’s still solid, and can do much of what Walrein can, beating Aboma, Swampert, and Talonflame like normal Wally, and Cradily, Pelipper, Quagsire, and Tapu Fini like Shadow Wally. It’s just not quite on the same level. Oh, how times have changed, eh?


Araquanid WaterBug

Bug Bite | Bubble Beam & Bug Buzz

And now the Watery Bug that terrorizes Dewgong and especially Walrein. It’s still good enough in Summer Cup, but it’s uncomfortable with all the Electrics and Flyers around, and struggles versus most of the format’s Fires and Fairies and bulkier mons like Lickitung and Jellicent too. It’s fine here, just not as fiiiiiine as you may have already grown accustomed to.


Qwilfish WaterPoison

Poison Sting | Aqua Tail & Sludge Wave

Not the new Hisuian one you’ve probably seen a decent amount of lately, but the OG Watery one. It’s the Water that can beat other Waters and even most Grasses, puts the clamps on nearly all Fairies and Fighters, and still manages to fill (most) Water roles too. Qwil is a flexible little guy that many overlook. Perhaps you can use that your advantage this week!


Pelipper WaterFlying

Wing Attack | Weather Ball (Water) & Hurricane

Conversely, nobody overlooks Pelipper anymore. While Mantine can potentially sneak away with wins over things like Venusaur, Trevenant, Abomasnow, Azumarill, and Pelipper itself under the right circumstances, Pelipper is a bit more consistent and versatile, with its own standout wins versus things Mantine cannot beat like Ferrothorn, Jellicent, Obstagoon, Oranguru, Walrein, Quagsire, and Kingdra.


Lanturn WaterElectric

Spark | Hydro Pump & Thunderbolt/Thunder

Yes yes, Thunderbolt is the standard and usually for good reason. But strangely, in this particular meta, Thunder looks a bit better in sims, with Bewear and Kindgra entering the win column as a seemingly straight upgrade in 1v1 shielding. That said, Bolt is still a bit better in other shielding scenarios and I still generally lean that way myself, but I’d be remiss not to point out little oddities like that.


Quagsire WaterGround

Mud Shot | Stone Edge & Earthquake

AKA “the expensive Mud Boy”. But also quite versatile with Stone Edge to smash through Bugs, Flyers, and Ices alongside the standard Ground damage of all Mud Boys. Regular Quag is fine, and is actually the only one of the three main Mud Boys to take out Noctowl and Swampert. But better overall here is Shadow Quag, which has its own truly unique win over Pelipper and can overpower things normal Quag cannot like Obstagoon, Poliwrath, Trashadam, Wigglytuff, Tapu Fini, and Oranguru. (Non-Shadow instead takes out Bewear, Jellicent, and the aforementioned Owl and Swampie.) Either variety can also wipe away Azumarill, which is something even Swamoert struggles to do without Sludge Wave. Lord Quag may not have the same immediate name recognition as its more famous Mud Brethren, but it stands tall right alongside them.


Electrode (Hisuian) ElectricGrass

Thunder Shock | Energy Ball & Wild Charge

Not the most exciting pick, but more than serviceable. An Electric that can also take out other (non-Bug) Electrics and things like Alolan Graveler and Cradily and Lickitung certainly has value.


Zebstrika Electric

Spark | Flame Charge & Wild Charge

With its unique combination of Wild and Flame Charge, Zebstrika is also an Electric that does unusual things, burning through Magnezone, Trashadam, Ferrothorn and others, doing a MUCH better job of it than the Manectric Niantic has prodded us at times to use instead.


Magnezone ElectricSteel

Spark | Mirror Shot & Wild Charge

Magnezone is always scary, and Summer Cup is no exception… it does most standard Electric things while also feasting on Grasses like Aboma, Tropius, and Cradily, Bugs like Beedrill and Trashadam, and Confusion (Oranguru) and Charm (Wigglytuff) users as well. Shadow Zone is somehow even scarier, losing to Venusaur that non-Shadow can beat, but otherwise representing all upside with new win potential against Cradily, Lickitung, and even Ninetales, (Fire Spin) Alolan Marowak, and Obstagoon, despite their super effective damage. Some people swear by Zone and some just swear at it, and at this point I’m really not going to convince you either way. But at least now you know some of the key things to expect from it.


Dedenne ElectricFairy

Thunder Shock | Discharge & Play Rough

There are metas where Dedenne’s unique resistances and potent Play Rough make it really stand out. For the most part… this is not one of those metas. Deedee does particularly well versus Fighters and Darks, it’s just that there aren’t many of those here.


Galvantula BugElectric

Volt Switch | Lunge & Any

So I’ll try and do this quick. Volt Switch and Lunge are pretty well locked in, but what about beyond that? Discharge beats Beedrill and is the surest way to handle Jellicent, but loses to Magnezone and Trashadam. Energy Ball can also take down Jellicent and is your only real prayer against Ground types, but loses Araquanid. Bug Buzz has the best closing power and most reliably handles Grasses (Tropius in particular). And even lowly Cross Poison is useful for its cheap cost and allows Galv to outrace Lickitung and Talonflame, though it loses Noctowl, Pidgeot, and Bewear to do it. What best fits YOUR team, trainer?


Heracross BugFighting

Counter | Rock Blast & Megahorn/Close Combat

Buzzwole is trying to muscle it out of PvP, but Heracross remains relevant for rather uniquely threatening Steels, Normals, Darks, Rocks, Grounds, Grasses, and Ices alike, with bonuses in beating Pachirisu and even Talonflame too. Don’t count out the OG Fighting Bug just yet!

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

Running out of time, so forgive me, but we’re gonna cover these more expensive picks in bulletized form. Here we go!

Tropius GrassFlying
  • TROPIUS is a bit more common now after this year’s Global GOFest, and folks will be itching to use it and its ability to shred Waters, Fighters, Grounds, and many Bugs and fellow Grasses thanks to its steady dose of Flying damage combined with ultra powerful Leaf Blade.
Trevenant GhostGrass
  • TREVENANT continues doing Trevenant things in yet another meta. I trust that you don’t need me to go into detail on the nutty stuff Trevor can do at this point, do you?

Ferrothorn GrassSteel
  • When it comes to FERROTHORN, just know that Thunder beats Pelipper and Trashadam, while Mirror Shot handles Venusaur and Abomasnow (and is best in the mirror match).
Forretress BugSteel
  • FORRETRESS remains a little underrated among all the Steely Bugs we have now, but it’s still great at taking out Grasses, Fairies, Ices, Rocks, Bugs, Darks, and several of the more prominent Waters and Electrics too.
Stunfisk GroundElectric
  • No Galarian version in this meta (whew!), but regular STUNFISK is its own form of terror in this meta. It beats down all the major Electrics but H-Trode, all Flyers that don’t rely on Grass damage, Wigglytuff, and the vast majority of Fire and Water types too.
Luxray Electric
  • LUXRAY looks absolutely terrifying… at least on paper. In actual practice, there’s potential for a massive dropoff if the Psychic Fangs baits don’t all work out. Even weak-to-Psychic Grasses like Venusaur reliably take it down, though, so handle it the same way you do other Electrics: Grass and Ground types, Electrics with big non-Electric coverage moves (Stunfisk and A-Grav come to mind), and things like Wigglytuff to wear it down.
Electivire (Shadow) Electric
  • SHADOW ELECTIVIRE is perhaps a little more consistent, but mostly has the same issues and a lower ceiling. Note that while Ice Punch is certainly threatening to Grasses and Grounds, ‘Vire isn’t likely to actually beat any of them unless it’s ahead in energy and/or shields already.
Snorlax (Shadow) Normal
  • SHADOW SNORLAX is a decent roadblock (haha get it? I so funny 🤪) to a wide swath of things across all typings. Avoid Fighting, Flying, and things that resist Body Slam where possible, but ‘Lax is an above average safe swap.
Oranguru NormalPsychic
  • Another big beefy Normal with play here is ORANGURU, one of very few Psychic types and Confusion users in the meta. That’s good versus the format’s Fighters and Poisons, but generally Guru is akin to Snorlax: no truly specialized role, just a bulky body that can dish out a lot of mostly-neutral damage and soak up a lot of damage in the process.
Vigoroth Normal
  • Not quite as bulky (but not as far behind as you might think) is fellow ape VIGOROTH, which is a bit more specialized as a quasi-Fighter (beating the stuffing out of most Normals, even Flying and Fairy ones, and other things weak to Counter), but Viggy can also tangle with things like Azumarill, Lanturn, Stunfisk, Swampert, and Quagsire and come out on top.
Lapras WaterIce
  • Don’t forget everyone’s favorite plesiosaur LAPRAS! Its standard Ice Shard form is fine enough, but also strongly consider Water Gun Lappie, which gives it a nice way to distinguish itself from — and defeat! — Walrein and Dewgong, and also picks up wins versus Magcargo, Ninetales, Trashadam, and Azumarill! (Though without Shard it generally will lose to Trevenant.)
Castform (Rainy) Water
  • RAINY CASTFORM is basically Lanturn with more emphasis on Water damage instead of Electric, and thus it beats things Lanturn cannot like Swampert, Quagsire, Stunfisk, and Diggersby (as well as Oranguru and Beedrill) that Lanturn cannot, while Lant instead takes down things like Zapdos, Araquanid, Pelipper, Alolan Graveler, and Obstagoon thanks to its combination of bulk and extra Electric damage. But SUNNY (just a worse Ninetales) and NORMAL CASTFORMS aren’t great fits here, honestly.

100,000 Dust/100 Candy

Zapdos ElectricFlying
  • ZAPDOS is a unique and potent threat whether Shadow form or not, though if I had to pick one, it would probably be Shadow for its ability to beat Trevenant, Venusaur, Abomasnow, Magcargo, Shadow A-Wak, and Azumarill (as opposed to non-Shadow beating only Lickitung and Swampert instead).
Tapu Fini WaterFairy
  • TAPU FINI is a much easier sell. If you’ve managed to squeeze one under 1500 CP, surely you’ve been itching to use it. This is your chance… deploy!
Victini FirePsychic
  • VICTINI debuffs itself all over the place, but really deserves a little more love in Great League. This is a pretty good meta for it. Just sayin’.
Ho-Oh (Shadow) FireFlying
  • Also not a terrible meta to try and show off your SHADOW HO-OH either, though it really is just for showing off… Talonflame and Charizard both fly circles around it in most respects.
Buzzwole BugFighting
  • And speaking of showing off: here’s your first great chance to flex with the master flexer himself, BUZZWOLE, as a precursor to it ripping through Fighting Cup next cycle. There’s enough Flyers and Fighters and Fairies to keep it in check here, but it still stomps most of what’s left beyond that. Build it now, those who have it, and get two straight weeks of play out of Buzz!


Let’s quickly 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”….

Pachirisu Electric
  • The big one is PACHIRISU, which has to be FULLY maxed out and, of course, is one of the more difficult regionals to land in the first place. But if you meet those criteria and have been waiting to unleash it… this is another great opportunity. Zap ’em if you got ’em!
Wormadam (Trash) BugSteel
  • There HAVE been better metas for TRASH CLOAK WORMADAM (aka Trashadam), as the many Fires, Grounds, and even Electrics here make Trashy sad. But it can still be a solid contributor, and is one of the cheaper things in this section of the article.
  • LICKITUNG remains annoying and stupid and expensive and I hate it. But we all have that Lickhead friend that uses it all the time and talks about it all the time anyway. They’ll be delighted to do so again in Summer Cup. And they’ll probably deploy it with CHANSEY… again. Ugh.
  • DEEP dark horses (actually birds) here are FARFETCH’D and RUFFLET. Like I said, digging deep, but fun if you like weird flexes.

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/questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you master Summer Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

Author & tags

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

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