(This article has been slightly modified ahead of Season 11’s edition of Love Cup, specifically adding Incineroar, Hisuian Electrode, and Lycanroc.)
🎼 What is Love?
♫ DD can’t hurt me, can’t hurt me
♩ No more!
🎶 Scrafty can hurt me, and Waters can hurt me
♪ Once more!
♫ What is Love?
🎵 Now I will try to be just fair
♬ Give you my thoughts, see if you care
♫ A lot is right, but Chansey’s wrong
♩ Put it on a sign!
♫ What is Love?
🎶 Fires can burn me, and Druddigon’s quirky
♪ New core?
♫ What is Love?
🎶 Licki, don’t hurt me, Charmers, don’t hurt me
♪ No more!
The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: the 2022 edition of Love 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.
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?
Love Cup is an unusual format… there are only 119 Pokémon eligible in total, and of those, only about 50 (and honestly, far less than that) have any PvP relevance at all. Heck, most Cup formats have 150-200 eligible Pokémon, easily… even Kanto Cup has 151!
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 75ks and even some things that dip into XL Candy (sometimes heavily!). 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.
♻️ explained – 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!
Before I get into the standard run through least to most expensive options, I HAVE to set aside one special group to start with, as they A.) stradle the line across 10k, 50k, AND 75k options, but mostly B.) they really require a section all on their own, grouped together, to show the many similarities AND subtle but key differences between them. And that grouping is:
WIGGLYTUFF, CLEFABLE, AROMATISSE, & SYLVEON ♻️♻️♻️
There are twice as many Charmers in Love Cup this year as there were last time, but WIGGLYTUFF still has a notable advantage over the rest thanks to its inherent resistance to Ghost damage. And I know what you’re thinking “are Ghosts even a big part of Love Cup?” Well, no… there actually aren’t ANY Ghosts in the format, but there is a prominent Ghost damage dealer, and you may have heard of it: it’s called Lickitung. (And Lickilicky too, as a matter of fact.) While Lick usually deals 2 damage per fast move to the other Charmers, Wigglytuff typically cuts that in half. That may not sound like a big difference (just 1 damage per Lick), but considering Licki typically racks up 40+ Licks when battling Charmers, that ends up being a BIG difference, and it’s enough to enable Wiggly to Charm Licki down, whereas the other Charmers just die.
But there’s a catch. While all of the Charmers beat mostly all the same meta things, there are a couple exceptions. Beyond Lickitung, the Charmers ALL tend to beat Cherrim, Crustle, Electrode, Medicham, Scrafty, Blaziken, Heatmor, Bisharp, Slowbro, etc., and of course beat up on each other. But the exceptions are the big Waterfall users: Milotic and Alomomola. In both cases, there are important breakpoints that lead to Charm dealing 1 extra damage, and that meaning the difference between victory or defeat. (Do note that the following breakpoints are non-exact, as they vary depending on the Waterfall user’s IVs… these are rough estimates.) With Milotic, that breakpoint is roughly 117 Attack, which SYLVEON tends to hit but Wigglytuff, CLEFABLE, and AROMATISSE need a bit more Attack then normal to achieve. For Alomomomola, the breakpoint is 119+ Attack, which is obviously harder to achieve and nearly impossible for Wigglytuff (who has the lowest base Attack of the group) without having incredibly imbalanced stats… stats that leave it actually taking the same damage from Lick as the other Charmers do!
So in short: while Wigglytuff has a distinct advantage against one of the very toughest outs in all of Love Cup (Lickitung), it leaves it disadvantaged against other big names (Milotic and especially Alomomomomola), where Sylveon (the most expensive of the Charmers with its 75k second move unlock cost) now has a leg up. There’s a lot of other stuff in the middle where you’ll barely notice a difference no matter which Charmer you pick, so at that point it kind of comes down to coverage. Wiggly has Ice Beam (Ice, fantastic versus troublesome Grasses), Clefable has Meteor Mash (Steel, aka really good versus OTHER Charmers and a wide swath of the rest of the meta), Aromatisse has Thunderbolt (Electric, hitting those big Waters HARD if it connects), and Sylveon has Psyshock (Psychic, AKA really good answer to anything Poison). If you can’t decide whether to reach for Lickitung or the Waterfallers, perhaps the distinction in coverage can be your guide.
Whew! Alright, now we can get into this article properly! Let’s get into a more standard Nifty Or Thrifty review of the rest, starting with the cheapest and working out way on up from there.
10,000 Dust / 25 Candy
Poison Jab | X-Scissor & Megahorn/Sludge Bomb
This might seem an odd place to start in with the 10,000k ‘mons, but there’s a method to my madness. Because Scolipede is one of only two Pokémon in the format with Poison Jab, and that move alone – combined with Scolipede’s natural resistance to Charm thanks to being a Poison type – is able to completely farm down the Charmers. What’s more, Scolipede is capable of finishing off Alomomola (depending on IVs, as linked to up above) as well as Vileplume. In fact, Scolipede and Vileplume are two of only SIX Pokémon in the entire format capable of taking out both Charmers and Alomomomola. I could probably rest my case there, but there’s more, as Scolipede can also beat Medicham and Scrafty (neither appreciate Bug damage, and Scoli resists their Counter damage), Cherrim, Milotic, G-Slowbro, and even fully maxed Lickitung. Note that Scolipede wants both Bug charge moves more than Sludge Bomb; Bomb is better for one shotting Fairies, but Megahorn is necessary to beat Medicham and Lickitung, and those are kiiiiiiiiiiind of a big deal, so Horn gets the nod from me… as does Scolipede. It was big last year and this year should be more of the same.
Poison Sting | Lunge & Megahorn
As with Scoli, Ariados also wants Megahorn, and on paper, is even better. But I hesitate to raise it above Scoli, as Ariados relies on busting down shields; wheras Scoli can beat Charmers and Grasses with fast moves alone, Ariados can’t beat anything that way. Granted, it does good things even if blocked by shields thanks to Lunge debuffs, but it is imperative to break through those shields eventually, leaving Ariados less options early in matches. The potential is obviously still BIG, as Ariados is also capable of slaying Charmers, Grasses, Fighters, Waters, and many more besides. I just personally like the way Scoli can work even around shields a bit more overall. But that’s me… no wrong way to go with these two!
Smack Down/Fury Cutter | X-Scissor & Rock Slide
One huge problem BOTH of those Bugs have is Fire types, but Crustle doesn’t have that issue. As a bonus, it smashes those other Bugs too, as well as Electrode and a couple others. (With good IVs, potentially Charmers too.) Crustie doesn’t have a super long list of wins, but it covers a unique niche that actually works great alongside the Bugs above. Bug core for the win? Oh, and Fury Cutter is a viable alternative if you care more about handling Grasses, winning the mirror, and having a decent shot at flipping Lickitung.
Incinerate | Rock Tomb & Overheat
It was in Love Cup last year that the vast majority of their players had their eyes opened to the potential of humble Magcargo… and then it fell off mostly into oblivion after that. More recently, of course, has brought newfound success for Magcargo in PvP with the addition of Incinerate, and the buff to Rock Tomb that really only benefits Magcargo. Anyway, fast forward to the here and now. We return to Love Cup, and Magcargo is still a major part of the meta, even moreso than last year. 💪🐌 In 2021 it could not reliably overcome Lickitung, Vileplume, or Cherrim… this year it can, as well as beating Galarian Slowbro too. There IS one downside to not running Rock Throw: losses to Crustle and in the mirror match. Overall I think that’s a small and acceptable price to pay, but I’d be a bad guide to thie meta not to at least point that out. Avoid those Rocks, Fighters, and of course Water, and Magcargo is gonna roast a lot of what’s left. 🔥
Fire Spin/Dragon Breathᴸ/Wing Attackᴸ | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ
With all the many moves Charizard has these days, AND being able to be a Shadow as well, I could fill half an article just going through them all. But I will try to keep this light and not get bogged down. So to sum it all up, let’s assume you have Dragon Claw and Blast Burn as a starting point. With that in mind, non-Shadow Zard typically beats the following regardless of fast move: Scrafty, Trashadam, G-Slowbro, Lickitung (though it’s close!), and all the Grasses and Fairies. (Yes, obviously Wing Attack or Fire Spin would be overall preferred in those matchups, but Zard will usually beat the Fairies even with Dragon Breath via Blast Burn in the end.) The key differences are thus: Dragon Breath beats other Charizards and Kanto Slowbro, Wing Attack can also outrace Slowbro and beats Medicham, and old reliable Fire Spin actually beats Medicham a little more efficiently.
As for Shadow Zard, much of the same is true, with only WA and FS beating Medicham, only WA and DB beating K-Bro, and the Grasses and Fairies and Trashadam and G-Bro falling regardless. The key difference is that Scrafty usually beats Shadow Zard no matter what fast move Zard is running, Wing Attack ShadowZard has a good shot at beating non-Shadow Zards, and perhaps the best new pickup is that ShadowZard with Dragon Breath can, amazingly, beat Magcargo with a heavy dose of neutral Dragon-type damage. Generally I’d recommend sticking with non-Shadow (Scrafty is kiiiiiiiinda important here), but seeing someone beat Magcargo with ShadowZard would be worth any price of admission.
Incinerateᴸ | Brave Bird & Flame Charge
On paper, Talon is a better Charizard, beating all the same things Zard can AND winning the head to head as well. I don’t think I need to remind you why: trying to properly sheild against it can be a nightmare. Raise your hand if you’ve been baited into shielding Flame Charge and then eating the Brave Bird. If your hand is NOT up, then welcome to your first GBL experience! 🤪 C’mon, admit it… we’ve all done it, and will again in Love Cup. BUT, if you manage to guess correctly, Talon can tail off, which is the only thing that keeps me from elevating it to clear-upgrade-over-Charizard status. Let’s just say they’re on equal footing and leave it at that, fair enough? Expect to see a healthy dose of both again this year.
Last year I had BLAZIKEN right up here too, but this time… man, I dunno. It’s a Fire that can easily handle Crustle and Magcargo and Lickitung, which is nice, and also handles the Electrode that plagues Zard and Talon. But being a Fire that loses to the Charmers and Trashadam and, at best, breaks even with Scrafty (despite having a seeming advantage with Counter) is tough. I think some folks will find a way to make it work, but it’s an uphill battle. Godspeed, brave souls who try! Heck, if I were considering another cheap, spicy Fire, I might even lean DELPHOX or BRAXIAN instead. Or heck, even a purified CHARMELEON! Now THAT is spice! 🔥
INCINEROAR ♻️♻️ (new!)
Snarl | Flame Charge & Fire Blast
A notable new addition to the meta in Season 11 (the “Interlude Season”), Incineroar’s unique typing gives it obvious advantages versus Grasses, Bugs, Steels, and Psychics, beating them all except Crustle and its Rock damage and Medicham and its Counter damage. Yes, it beats even the half-Water Slowpoke/Bro/King family too… and without needing Dark Pulse. You want to just stick with both Fire charge moves here, with which it can also overpower Charizard and Lickitung. It has to avoid Fighting, Water, AND Charm damage, so there’s definitely high risk here, but there’s enough good that I think Incineroar will make some noise this time around.
CHERRIM (Sunny) ♻️♻️
Bullet Seed | Weather Ball (Fire) & Solar Beam
Admittedly, Cherrim has gotten a little shakier since last year, no longer able to beat new and improved Magcargo (winning that was one of its best surprises last time) and now having to contend with the arrival of things like Galarian Slowbro as well. But Cherrim is still worth a spot on teams for handling the scary Waters and Bugs, as well as Electrode, Lickitung, and the only other Grass in the meta, Vileplume. Don’t let the simple win/loss record decieve you… Cherrim remains fixed in place in this meta, it just has a couple more things to watch for over its shoulder now. I do NOT generally recommend running it with Razor Leaf, though folks tried last year and likely will this time too. If you do that, you may want to just go for broke and run it with a true Razor Leafer, one you can read about if you just scroll down about four more lines….
50,000 Dust / 50 Candy
VILEPLUME ♻️♻️ (Shadow: ♻️♻️♻️)
Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb & Moonblast
The only true Razor Leafer in Love Cup, and unlike Cherrim, Vileplume comes with some very handy resistances thanks to a Poison sub-typing, enabling it to handle all the Charmers and Scrafty, unlike Cherrim. (And it can do all that without even needing charge moves, saving any every buildup to throw a Sludge Bomb or even Moonblast at whatever follows.) On the downside, without any real charge move pressure (and the great coverage that Fire Weather Ball offers Cherrim), Plume cannot beat things Cherrim can like Trashadam, Lickitung, and the head-to-head. Just as it was last year, Plume is likely to be all over the place in this year’s Love Cup. It is still uniquely dangerous in this format. Generally prefer non-Shadow though… Shadow Plume tends to suffer an unfortunate loss to Scrafty.
Poison Jabᴸ | Drill Runᴸ & Icy Windᴸ/Ice Beam
Seaking was another breakout star last year, and it’s easy to see why. Thanks to Poison Jab, Seaking wears down the Charmers, softening them them up along the way with Icy Wind. And even with JUST Icy Wind, Seaking goes on to also finish off stuff like Charizard, Cherrim, and Waterfallers Alomomola and Milotic. Already impressive, but then Drill Run adds on Magcargo and both of the Super Slow Bros. But of course, Seaking eats up a lot of Elite TMs if you don’t have one already, so you CAN get away with running Ice Beam in place of Icy Wind and still get the same list of wins, though note that all of them are closer wins that they are with Icy Wind. But Elite TMs are certainly not “thrifty”, so also trying to present options for those that aren’t TM rich! It’s worth it, though… Seaking is an absolute hoot in PvP, and a potent option in several limited formats (and even decent in Open GL on the right team!). It’s a project that pays off, trust me.
Fury Cutter | Cross Poison & Solar Beam
Honestly, this is kind of a worse Scolipede/Ariados, but it’s viable if you’re a fan and have just always wanted to use it in PvP. There will likely never be a better opportunity. And Solar Beam is an admittedly awesome way to nuke somebody, capable of picking off even beefy Lickitung and Alomomomomola, and beating the menace known as Scrafty is always nice.
SLOWBRO (and friends) ♻️♻️
Confusion | Ice Beam & Psychic
First we’ll cover the original Kanto Slows. Slowbro is the one that popped up the most last year, and though it has a limited set of wins, they are at least ALL big names: Alomomomola, Medicham, Magcargo, Milotic, and Charizard (with Fire Spin). SLOWKING is actually capable of doing the same AND beating Slowbro itself, but can be clunkier with Blizzard (or Fire Blast, if you prefer) being much slower to bring to bear than Bro’s Ice Beam. By far, the best of all is actually SLOWPOKE, which adds on Wing Attack Zard, Galarian Slowbro, AND all the Charmers, but it’s crazy expensive (has to be leveled all the way to 50), so not a project for the feint of heart (or light in XL Candy) and not one I’d expect to actually see too often. Be ready if you do, though, as it can be a legitimate monster. (And no, you don’t want Shadow.)
And now their distant cousins….
GALARIAN SLOWBRO ♻️♻️
Poison Jab/Confusion | Sludge Bomb & Focus Blast/Psychic
An exciting new addition since last year, you can run G-Bro with a similar moveset to its Kanto cousin, with both Psychic-type moves and Sludge Bomb in place of K-Bro’s Ice Beam, and already you can see the improvement: still beat Alomomomomomola and Medicham, and beat both Grasses and all the Fairies too (as well as non-Confusion enemy G-Bros). But perhaps a hair better is Poison Jab, which also tacks on K-Bro and can be run either with Psychic (the move) to continue to win the mirror match, or with Sludge Bomb which is 5 energy cheaper and can therefore outrace Electrode.
GALARIAN SLOWKING ♻️♻️
Confusion/Hex | Shadow Ball & Sludge Wave/Future Sight
Not QUITE on the same level as G-Bro, but G-King is certainly good in its own right. If I had to make one moveset recommendation, it would be Confusion/Shadow Ball/Sludge Wave for maximum coverage and flexability (and Confusion is the way to best handle Alomomomola), but Hex movesets can work too (and better outrace Electrode, just as Sludge Bomb did for G-Bro).
Volt Switch | Discharge & Thunderbolt
Yet another breakout star last year in Love Cup AND Kanto Cup, and though it hasn’t made huge splashes outside of those metas, it’s still solid in Love Cup. And unlike Kanto Cup where the coverage of Foul Play and even Hyper Beam have legitimate play, here I think you want to keep things simple with the all-Electric set, which maximizes your win potential (specifically picking up Ariados and sometimes Sylveon). Obviously Trode is best versus Waters and Flyers, but it can also take out Galarian Slowbro, Lickitung, and Ariados, as mentioned, which are all huge pickups too.
And don’t forget HISUIAN ELECTRODE ♻️♻️. It lacks the higher win totals of its Kantonian cousin, but holds its own and beats Trashadam that regular Trode cannot. The bigs wins Kanto can get that Hisui cannot are Poisons (Ariados, G-Slowbro) due to the Grass subtyping, and Lickitung due mostly to a slightly lesser moveset. That said, if you can get shields out of the way, Hisuian has a much higher ceiling than does KanTrode, so Hisuian may very well fit some teams and playstyles better!
Mud Shotᴸ | X-Scissor & Crabhammer
Alright, even I will admit this is really just a spice pick, but lots of players love Kingler and have likely wanted to use it in PvP… so here’s your (mud) shot. The Fires are probably rather obvious wins, but beating Cherrim and Electrode are probably big surprises, and also being able to take out Crustle, Trashadam, and both Slowbros gets at least one eyebrow raised, doesn’t it? This is a very boom-or-bust option, but something very few will be prepared for, and a savvy player could really take advantage of that if they dare try!
Incinerate | Rock Slide & Overheat
Speaking of boom or bust, allow me to present Exhibit D. Beating the Grasses and Trashadam are probably no great surprise, nor beating the Charmers (though they maim Darm pretty badly on the way out). More surprising may be Galarian Slowbro, Medicham, and Lickitung, all of whom Darmanitan can simply outrace with its high damage output. This is a pick that will blow up in faces just hard to tell whether that face will be your opponent’s… or your own. There is NO bulk to speak of here, so things could go very badly very quickly. Blaze of glory either way! 🔥
LYCANROC (Midnight) ♻️♻️ (new!)
Counter | Psychic Fangs & Stone Edge
JUST added to the meta (within the last hour at the time of this writing), Lycanroc’s haunting, red form allows it to sneak into the meta like a wolf sneaks into a flock of sheep, and with similarly bloody results. It all starts with the blessing of Counter, making this a Rock type that can handle things like Lickitung, Chansey, Cherrim, and Trash Wormadam while also still doing Rock things (beating the big Fire and/or Flying types and Bugs, mostly). Add on some perhaps surprising wins versus big names like Seaking, Electrode, Druddigon, and ALL members of the Slow family (Kanto and Galar), and Lycanroc should hit the meta fast and hard this time around.
Counter | Ice Punch & Psychic
Technically you can run Power-Up Punch and/or Dynamic Punch as well, but I think the new standard of Ice Punch/Psychic (the move) is probably still the best way to go. Thanks to that combination and its Psychic subtyping, Medicham is the odd Fighting type that can overcome the Grasses and Trashadam, as well as beating things you’d expect of a Fighter, like Scrafty, Lickitung, Crustle, and Magcargo, plus the big Waters and Electrode. Unfortunately, you probably do want one that is deep into the XL Cand, though, as a Medicham even in the upper 40s can lose to things like Trashadam and Magcargo. 😬
Counter | Foul Play & Power-Up Punch/Acid Spray
So last year I said that Scrafty looked great but to tread lightly, as Power-Up Punch (or Acid Spray, if you prefer) tends to overinflate the win column in simulations. And while that is certainly true and I would still advise some caution, Scrafty was everywhere last Love Cup and I don’t expect that to change this time around. Scrafty’s record is even more impressive when you realize that four of its listed seven losses are to Charmers, another is Medicham (any decent Fighter is going to beat the half-dark Scrafty, let’s be honest), and the other two are Charizard, which Scrafty CAN beat if it gets the bait. (Same with Talonflame, for that matter.) That means that the only meta things Scrafty does NOT have a legitimate shot at are Charmers and the one other true Fighter in the meta… and it can tangle with just about everything else. Scrafty is even scarier than its impressive record, folks. It ain’t going anywhere… expect to see it again a lot this year.
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
ROTOM actually has some legit spice with nice wins over Fires AND Waters, plus Trashadam and G-Bro, but it’s a niche pick at best and quite flimsy…. CRAWDAUNT (with Snarl) actually does some nice things, but being half-Dark, Daunt has no chance against Fighting damage and loses especially hard to the Charmers, and its other half is Grass/Electric-weak Water. It hits nice and hard but feels even more fragile here than normal, and that’s saying something…. SOLROCK hates hard on Fires and can beat G-Bro too, but it gets picked on by Waters and many other things and is much better in theory than in actual practice…. On paper, PORYGON2 has got the goods (specifically with Hyper Beam). But in practice… yeah, it rarely actually works out that way. I don’t hate the pick if you settle on this for your spice, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
75,000 Dust / 75 Candy
Waterfall | Psychic & Hydro Pump/Blizzard
Yep, what else would I lead this section with? Alolmomola was a Love Cup star last year, which makes sense when you consider all that it can do. Beats the Fires, beats the Charmers, beats its closest competitor Milotic, beats Crustle, and makes a fantastic bodyguard for any Charmer(s) you run. But Alomomomola is not without flaws… it does still generally lose to the Fighters, Waters with non-Water moves (read as: Seaking and Slowbro), Lickitung, Electrode, and of course the Grasses. Alomomomomola is not dominant by any means, but it fills a lot of holes you would otherwise have on many teams. It’s a good contributor to several team builds and will surely rise up again this year.
Waterfall | Surf & Blizzard/Hyper Beam
So last year there seemed to be a clear line between Alomomomomomola and Milotic, the former having a leg up due primarily to its ability to win the mirror match. But this time around, things are looking up for Milly, as it can more easily beat Trashadam and defeats the new Galarian Slowbro, beating it just before it reaches a second charge move, whereas Alomomomomomomola falls one fast move short and loses the race. Alomomomomomomomomomola’s stock hasn’t gone down, per se, but Milotic’s has risen. You don’t want to run the normally-preferred Dragon Tail, though, as the Fairies and Trashadam can shrug that off. Make the temporary switch to Waterfall for this meta and you’ll be just fine.
Karate Chop/Ember | Fire Punch & Flamethrower/Return
Admittedly, this is a little on the fringe, but Magmar has some decent spice going for it. As a Fire, it beats the Charmers, Grasses, and Trashadam without much trouble, even with Karate Chop, with which it goes on to also beat Electrode and Lickitung. (Weak to Fighting, remember?) Alternatively, one can run Ember, giving up Lickitung to beat Fighting-resistant Galarian Slowbro instead.
Karate Chop/Fire Spin | Thunderboltᴸ & Fire Punch/Brick Break
If you’ve been sitting on a Thunderbolt Magmortar and wondering what the heck to do with it, I’ve got good news: you can use it here! Bolt allows Magmortar to actually beat Slowbro and Charizard straight up while still doing the normal Fire tasks of beating Charmers, Grasses, and Trashadam. Or you can run Fire Spin and replace Fire Punch with Brick Break to give up Wing Attack Zard and beat Galarian Slowbro instead, similar to the choice you have to make with Magmar’s different fast moves. Magmortar is arguably slightly better in this meta, but roll with whichever one you’ve got.
Bullet Punch | Iron Head & Night Slash
For when you absolutely need Charmers dead, call in the exterminator. There isn’t much that can outslug the Charmers in a battle of JUST fast moves, but Scizor can, beating Crustle and Vileplume too! That alone gives it value, but then it also goes out and beats several other relevant things like the Slowbros, Scolipede, Lickitung, and Seaking. It’s not cheap, but Scizor is an above average Fairy killer that plays as a pretty good generalist too. And Shadow Scizor is a viable alternative, having a hard time beating Lickitung but picking up Trashadam instead.
BISHARP is often an interesting alternative to Scizor, but here the fact that is is half-Dark means that it cannot beat the Fairies, a major black mark that holds it down.
Dragon Tail | Night Slash & Hyper Beam
All new this year, arriving as the ONLY Dragon in the format. Got your attention? I know, I know… “but JRE, there’s Charm all over the place! Surely a Dragon can’t thrive here, can it?” Actually, you’d be surprised. Judge Drudd does most of that work with just Dragon Tail and Night Slash, beating the Grasses, Waters, Electrode, Talonflame, and Charizard thanks in large part to its resistances – remember that pure Dragons resist Grass, Water, Electric, and Fire – as well as Crustle and Galarian Slowbro. If you remove the obvious Charm losses from the loss column, it really only struggles versus Medicham, Scrafty, Trashadam (who resists Dragon damage, so….), Magcargo, and non-Fire Spin Zard. Oh, and one more win I didn’t mention: Lickitung, which Drudd nukes with Hyper Beam… as well as the great-evil-I-yet-to-mention Chansey. We’ll wipe that smug smile right off your face, egg boy! Ahem… anyway, Druddigon is surprisingly good here despite the looming presence of the Charmers. I actually give it an enthusiastic thumbs up as one of the most exciting new wrinkles in this year’s Love Cup meta. Good luck getting a good one in raids!
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
In this extra section, I cover a few mons that are no less “nifty” than those in the main article above, but require maxing out to Level 40 or going beyond and dipping into Candy XL, so they are FAR from “thrifty”!
Zen Headbutt | Psychic & Hyper Beam
sigh Alright, let’s get this over with. DO NOT RUN CHANSEY. I know some folks will anyway, despite the recent nerf to Pound… so now it’s just the very slightly less terrible Zen Headbutt instead. I am at least happy to report that Chansey is rather limited in terms of wins in Love Cup, but people that run it are usually looking to stall anyway. And yes, sadly, Chansey can still do that as well as anything. If you want to wipe it away, bring Fighters or heavy damage (or a major tank of your own, like Alomomomomola). And pray this isn’t a common sight this time around.
Lick | Body Slamᴸ & Power Whip
Yes, Lickitung is still very good, and there should be many more of them out in force this time as compared to last year, when the XL system was still new. But you don’t HAVE to power one all the way up near Level 50… a hundo pushed into the mid-40s actually looks like it could be just as good, if not better, hitting a damage breakpoint that doubles the damage of Lick against Wigglytuff and flips that from a loss that higher rank Lickis suffer to now a win instead… without giving up any of its other wins. (The breakpoint looks to be somewhere between 99 and 101 Attack, depending on Wiggly’s IVs (101 is versus #1 IV Wiggly, but 100ish will probably normally do the trick). Something to keep in mind.
WORMADAM (Trash Cloak) ♻️♻️♻️
Confusion | Bug Buzz & Iron Head
Convenient that the only Wormadam allowed in this format is the best by far. “Trashadam” is a very curious little guy. There are many Steely Bugs in PvP now, but Trashy still remains truly unique with Confusion powering out more standard Steel and Bug moves. Between these moves and its typing, Trashadam is a particularly good Fairy counter that also beats Vileplume (and HARD, too), Aloyourmama, both Slowbros, Electrode, Scizor, and many others, and puts up an intense battle against Lickitung and Medicham too. With excellent PvP IVs it formally adds Lickitung to the win list, and potentially Crustle and Milotic too!
Confusion | Seed Bomb & Psychic
Another Confusion user, but in this case needs to be maxed all the way to 50, and while it does some fun stuff (and its Grass typing means it easily handles Electrode and the Waters and Grasses in the meta, and it even manages to beat Medicham, even with Ice Punch!), it’s rather niche if I’m being honest. Only you can decide if that kind of investment is worth it for you… because that’s really the only question that matters with ALL of these picks, right?
And that’s it! Thanks for sticking with me to the end! Hopefully this helps you balance the cost of where to save yourself some hard-earned dust (and candy!) and still have a good time in the 2022 edition of Love Cup.
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily 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 Love Cup, and in the most affordable (and enjoyable) way possible. Best of luck, stay safe, and catch you next time!
P.S. – I AM going to try and do a “Core Meltdown” writeup as I did for Sinnoh Cup, if time allows. Will try to have that out by next Monday! 🤞