“Some men just want to watch the world burn….”
The quote is from the film The Dark Knight, of course, starring Christian Bale. Funny thing, as a comparatively baby-faced Bale and a bald, bearded, and often shirtless Matthew McConaughey starred years before in a film where even the slogan said they were “fighting fire with fire”: Reign of Fire. In that film, they’re hunting dragons in a crispy, near-future London. It was a campy film, and rightly got mixed reviews (at best) despite an engaging cast and some truly awesome action sequences, worth sitting through at least once with a tub of popcorn and your brain turned off.
But before I ramble on TOO much, that film immediately came to mind as I was looking over the Great League Remix meta (again). I’m in a decently large number of Discord servers tied to Pokémon GO PvP, and in the majority of them where Remix discussions are taking place, I see multiple discussions that go something like this:
Player 1: “My team is X, Y, Z. As long as I don’t see a Fire type, it’s smooth sailing!”
Player 2: “No problem, I haven’t seen ANY Fire yet.”
And that sentiment is backed up by Great League Remix usage data already gathered by my colleagues at GO Battle Log. Look at their snapshot of the meta by role:
Notice that Fire usage is behind literally a dozen other typings/roles, including even Electric and non-Jellicent Water! I say “non-Jellicent” because it’s lumped in with the Ghosts (which are third), just as the Obstagoon you’re likely seeing all over the place is lumped in with Fighting (and thus pushed that category to an easy #1). Even Flying is right there with Fire, in a meta with no Pidgeot!
But on the pie chart pictured there, look at what IS being heavily used, because it will be important as I go through this article. Fighters. Grounds. Ghosts. Poisons. And then popular Ice and Fairy and Psychic and Steel and Grass types.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: this writer has been running Charizard since Remix began, and it hasn’t been a dead draw yet. Sure, it’s gotten locked in on a Jellicent a time or two, but even in a bad matchup like that it can leave JelliBelli battered and bruised. Not only does it have clear advantages versus Steel and Grass and Fairy and Ice (and others) due to being a Fire type, but also Ground and Fighting thanks to being a Flyer. Again, put a pin in that for now, because it will be important soon.
The point I want to drive home is that this is actually a fantastic meta for Fire types, and very few players seem to be tapping that potential. Great League Remix is a format with no Azumarill, Swampert, Politoed, Pelipper, Altaria, Bastiodon, Galarian Stunfisk, Talonflame, Alolan Marowak, or Umbreon that blow up and/or resist (or simply outtank) most Fire types. For the record, that’s HALF of the ban list, all of which stand directly in the way of Fires making headway in Open GBL. I cannot think of another Pokémon typing that benefits more directly from the Remix bans. This meta gives Fire types the most open field they’ve enjoyed since… well, perhaps ever. And yet, again, barely anyone seems to be deploying them.
Let’s look at just a handful of the better Fires that stand to directly benefit. To a degree this will be a rehash of what I already said about some of these in my comprehensive review of the entire Remix meta, but I really want to highlight them again and go into a bit more detail.
Fire Spin | Dragon Claw & Blast Burnᴸ
If Fires stand to benefit, Charizard benefits the most of all, with the additional ban of the troublesome Galvantula in addition to the other Pokémon listed above. (Yes, Zard usually wins that anyway, but it’s very much a pyrrhic victory and can go the other way if Galv has any energy lead… or, say, sneaks in an extra Volt Switch while Zard is throwing a charge move. But that NEVER happens in GBL, right? Right?! 😏)
Anyway, put it all together, and Charizard has an extremely robust success rate against the core meta… one of the best in Remix, in fact. Like most Fires, it beats nearly every Steel type here. (Those that throw Rocks–Probopass, Melmetal, Excadrill, Aggron–and then Empoleon, Klang, and Bisharp are the only exceptions.) It beats all Grass, even Cradily… double resisting Grass damage helps a lot. It beats every Bug that cannot throw Rock damage. It beats all the Charmers, and nearly every Psychic type (to include Cresselia and Hypno/Shadow Hypno, even with Thunder Punch). It toasts Froslass, Drifblim, Pidgeot (if it ever comes back), and unlike most other Fires, Diggersby and Lickitung and Beedrill too, its Flying typing coming in particularly handy against Licki’s Power Whip and the Ground moves of Diggs and Bee. And oh yeah, Flying also means it resists Fighting damage, so Charizard can roast all of them (and quasi-Fighters like the very popular Obstagoon) as well except for the not-often-used Hitmons and Poliwrath. Obviously Waters and Electrics need to be avoided, and Nidoqueen is close but usually unfortunately a loss, but beyond those? There’s not much that Charizard cannot go toe to toe with, and usually
walk fly away a winner.
And there’s more to it than that, as there is of course Shadow Charizard to also consider. It’s an intriguing sidegrade, giving up things like Shadow Machamp, Sirfetch’d, Lickitung, and Shadow Granbull to instead defeat big names like Mandibuzz, Sableye, Melmetal, and Dewgong. And while the HP remaining slides up and down depending on matchup, Shadow Zard does maintain all other wins that regular Zard gets.
There’s also move shenanigans you can try, like Legacy Wing Attack or Community Day exclusive move Dragon Breath, and they do some neat things like flipping the script on Zweilous, or being even harder on Fighters, and provide advantages against other Fire types. But in this meta, I think it’s just the original Fire Spin/Dragon Claw/Blast Burn that you want. It’s the most consistent and the most versatile.
And with that moveset especially, Charizard is one of the best Pokémon in the Remix meta, and THE Fire I would recommend most if you want to try dabbling in Fire types.
But it’s far from the only option. Let’s explore some others!
Incinerate | Blast Burnᴸ & Solar Beam
With an overall record strikingly close to Charizard, the devil is more in the details. Typh much more easily beats Ground standouts Nidoqueen and Stunfisk, as well as Sableye, but it gives up some big names to do so: Diggersby, Beedrill, and big Fighters (Shadow Champ, SIrfetch’d, all of which Zard is able to overcome thanks in large part to being a Flyer. But if you’re more concerned about those Grounds especially, Typh could be a much better fit for YOUR team.
Fire Spin | Weather Ball (Fire) & Overheat/Solar Beam/Returnᴸ
But perhaps even better than Typhlosion is Ninetales. While it cannot match the wins versus Nidoqueen and Stunfisk, with Weather Ball spam it outraces Melmetal and Beedrill (which Typh cannot) and flexes its bulk in outlasting Mandibuzz (Zard and Typh usually lose to Mandi), Sirfetch’d, and Charizard itself. That’s already a viable body of work, but there’s also the second move to consider! Many will be tempted by Solar Beam for the great anti-Water coverage… Tails gets a legit win against Jellicent that way. Others utilize Psyshock but honestly there’s no reason to… it doesn’t lead to any new wins versus Shadow Machamp or anything else of note. The move I personally recommend is the one with zero extra coverage but a LOT of extra kick: Overheat, which tacks on wins versus Obstagoon, Drifblim, Sableye, Pidgeot, and Dewgong and puts it on the same plane of effectiveness as Charizard. As a quick review, the big differences between those two are as follows:
- Charizard Flying typing allows it to beat Diggersby, Shadow Machamp, and Lickitung, and it beats Hypno and Munchlax as well. Ninetales can also beat Hypno with precise timing (delaying Overheat by an extra turn), but if it races straight to charge moves as soon as possible, it normally loses. Tails does handle Shadow Hypno without too much trouble, though. (As does Zard.)
- Ninetales (with Overheat) gets its unique wins versus Sableye (which Typh can also beat but Zard usually cannot) as well as Mandibuzz, Melmetal, and Dewgong, all which usually defeat Charizard… those last two exploit the downside of Zard’s Flying half with double super effective Rock Slide and Dewgong’s Ice damage being neutral instead of resisted as it is with other Fires. Ninetales also beats Charizard head to head despite hitting Zard with all resisted damage. It has about 10 more HP and 25 more Defense than Charizard and is able to just outbulk it, absorbing a Blast Burn along the way.
Heck, you can even run Tails with Return, which does lose to Ghosts Drifblim and Sableye, as well as falling a bit short versus Pidgeot, but Tails still beats Mandi, Dewgong, Melmetal (only needs Weather Ball for that one anyway), Zard, and now wins the mirror match versus opposing Ninetales too.
And one MORE wrinkle with Ninetales… like Charizard, it too can be a Shadow. And ShadowTales has some awesome pickups: Stunfisk, Lickitung, and even Nidoqueen. Munchlax too, and Hypno becomes a much more consistent, slam dunk win. The downside is giving up some of the wins that make non-Shadow Ninetales special: Mandibuzz, Dewgong, and Drifblim, along with Sirfetch’d and Sunny Castform. The tradeoff certainly can be worth it, but know what you’re getting into if you take the Shadow plunge. Don’t do it just because it may be ranked higher and fall into the fallacy of “Shadows are always better”. Much more often, they’re just a sidegrade at best. That all said, there is perhaps more potential if you happen to have a Shadow Tails with Legacy Ember. Ember is usually subpar as compared to Fire Spin for things with the choice of both, but with Ninetales having good bulk and spammy enough charge moves to overcome Ember’s lower energy generation, somehow it just works, to the tune of losing only Sableye and gaining Mandibuzz, Dewgong, Drifblim, and Golbat too. I don’t know that I’d burn an Elite TM on Shadow Tails for this, but if you already have… well, there’s never been a better time to try it out!
End of the day, Tails has several viable options. Most people know to expect Weather Ball by now, but the second move choice can and will keep opponents on their toes. I put Ninetales and Charizard on a higher tier than other Fires for their versatility and overall potency, and one could make the argument for either one as the best representative of one of the best typings (Fire, of course) in this meta.
There’s also SUNNY CASTFORM, but it’s really just a lesser Ninetales (and much more expensive too), super bulky but stuck with Ember (and without Shadow Ninetales’ high Attack to make good use of it) and without any good second move to run alongside Weather Ball than Solar Beam, pigeonholing it into one set role. And it can’t even get the sneaky win against JelliBelli that SolarTales can. Boo. It’s actually ranked as the top Fire in Remix on PvPoke, and while it may have an impressive record against the 674 Pokémon that make up Great League Remix (owing largely to having even greater bulk than Ninetales, much less these other Fires), where it really counts–against the core meta Pokémon that constitute what your opponents are most likely actually using in real gameplay–Castform falls rather flat. Rankings are a nice guide, but even on a site that does it better than anyone else, PvPoke, rankings are not always indicative of a Pokémon’s success or usefulness.
A few more intriguing options to run through, in bulletized format so we can wrap this up and you can get back to GBLing and GO Fest prep!
- BLAZIKEN doesn’t really operate like a traditional Fire, more like a Fighter that happens to know Fire moves. The good? Counter beats down stuff like Diggersby, Dewgong, and Darks like Zweilous and Mandibuzz that can cause other Fires some trouble. The bad? Less pure Fire damage means Blaze struggles a bit against Bugs, Grasses, and especially Fairies… Blaziken is the Fire that usually loses, badly, to Charmers, and of course it doesn’t appreciate Psychics either. If you’ve used it before, likely none of this is new to you, but it’s good to be reminded of what makes it great… and what also has kept it from more fully breaking out in PvP. (Blast Burn and Brave Bird, by the way, can beat Stunfisk, whereas the otherwise-tempting Stone Edge fails. All are viable but that’s probably the biggest difference between them.)
- VICTINI is both the same and very different. Just as Blaziken is a Fighter in fast move damage and a Fire with its charge moves, Little Vic is a Psychic in fast move damage (Confusion) with big Fire charge moves (it works best with both V-Create and Overheat). How’s that work out? Pretty well, actually! Relying on Confusion means it does of course struggle a bit more than you’d like your Fire to versus Steels (though it still usually overcomes Registeel and Melmetal, and of course Confusion is also a detriment versus other Psychics that resist it (meaning Hypno and Cresselia usually emerge victorious). But the upside, of course, is that Fighters and Poisons become a cinch (Champ, Sirfetch’d, and Nidoqueen all curl up and perish, for example, and while Obstagoon can be scary, being part Psychic and resisting Counter damage means Vic usually still wins that too), and the big neutral damage of Confusion also brings in wins against Stunfisk, Pidgeot, Dewgong, and even Whiscash, which are exciting for a Fire type to brush aside. Confusion also means that Vic beats most other Fires (though pesky Typhlosion is still problematic with its raw damage output). Stuff like Diggersby, Lickitung, and Froslass are left with big advantages, however (those last two especially, with their Ghost moves now being super effective), and Vic cannot handle them, which is big sads. But on the right team, it could be THE best fit of all Fires with its truly unique profile.
- Oh how I hope for an unannounced Team GO Rocket event as part of GO Fest so we have a chance to TM Frustration away from our newly-acquired Shadow HO-OHs, because it would be an absolute hoot to use it here. It’s legit good in Remix, sort of replicating Charizard’s role but differently; Ho-Oh can beat Mandibuzz and overwhelm Nintales and Zard, but cannot overcome Hypno, Froslass, or the Fighters (Shadow Champ, Sirfetch’d) like Charizard can. But it’s more than viable enough! If you’re lucky enough to have a Great League sized non-Shadow Ho-Oh you can use it if you want to… it drops Mandi, Cress, and sometimes Bee, but gains Sirfetch’d and even Whiscash, which is fun.
- Pyroar remains one of the more disappointing Pokémon we’ve received in a while, but pre-evolution LITLEO is usually a solid, spicy option. Between being half Normal and toting Crunch, it nicely handles Ghosts (even Jellicent) and scrapes by with close wins over the big Psychics, and still handles most of the normal Fire role (Charmers, Grasses, Ices, Bugs), though it’s a bit less consistent against Steels… Melmetal is SUPER close and Registeel usually gets away, as that Normal typing is a big liability with Focus Blast lurking in that matchup. Normal also means the Fighters pummel it, and being stuck with Ember (without the advantages of Shadow Ninetales) means it doesn’t have as wide a net to cast as other Fires listed above. (Diggs, Mandi, Bee, and most other Fires fend Litleo off.) But it absolutely works if you can stomach those downsides and benefit from the upside… and stomach the cost to max one out!
- I’ve gotten a couple questions about FLETCHINDER as a sneaky way to get around the Talonflame ban. But the problem is that its Aerial Ace is NO comparison to Talon’s Brave Bird, its Ember pales in comparison to Talon’s Incinerate, and as a result, Fletch is no Talonflame. It works in a pinch, I suppose, but it’s a limited role. You’re much better off going with one of the many Fire types listed above, methinks.
So, to reiterate with a brief TL;DR:
- Great League Remix is an extremely friendly meta for Fire types to thrive, with literally half of the ban list (Azumarill, Swampert, Politoed, Pelipper, Altaria, Bastiodon, Galarian Stunfisk, Talonflame, Alolan Marowak, and Umbreon) directly benefitting Fire types and giving them much more room to roam than usual.
- Charizard in particular seems like a huge winner, as it’s also able to handle top meta options like Diggersby and Obstagoon due to resisting their big Ground and Fighting moves, as well as more indirectly Lickitung (double resists Power Whip) and Beedrill (resists Drill Run, while most Fires are vulnerable to it) and Nidoqueen (by resisting Earth Power, though the neutral Poison moves are still an issue). Between that and its big Blast Burn dealing big damage even to things that resist it, it seems like the most dynamic Fire threat in the format and is a particularly good anti-meta pick in Remix.
- Other potent Fires are good as well, Ninetales and Typhlosion being the biggest standouts, with advantages (and disadvantages) as described in the article above. I roughly rank them Charizard > Ninetales >Typhlosion > Victini >> everything else.
If you walk away from this with no more inclination to use a Fire type yourself, so be it. At least now you know about another potential hole on your team to try and plug. But my hope is that this will inspire my fellow players looking for answers to the developing meta to look to oft-neglected Fire types. Chances are you already have at least one good one sitting out there on your bench collecting dust. Now is their time… use them. And hopefully find some solid success over the next two weeks of GBL play!
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 better master Great League Remix, and have some gosh-darned FUN doing so. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!
(Original Reddit post can be found here.)
(original header photo credit to talvns, all “Reign Of Fire” credit to Touchstone Pictures)