Shadow Mewtwo in PvP: The Many Nuances of a Familiar Monster

Shadow Mewtwo is back, and for the first time, you can get yourself not just one or two by battling Giovanni, but as many as you want in the new Shadow Raids. Gotta act fast if you want it, though, as it is available only from May 27th at 10:00am to May 28th at 8:00pm. But do you really want it? Is it worth grinding for a hundo (or near-hundo)?

Is it worth even keeping as a Shadow, or should we just purify it and move on? The answers to all of that and more are below, but first let’s do a quick summary with our Bottom Line Up Front:


  • Mewtwo remains a viable tool in Master League play, and the Shadow version represents a solid sidegrade if you can find one with near-hundo IVs… though it’s VERY expensive.
  • As with non-Shadow, Shadow Mewtwo has multiple viable movesets, usually relying on Legacy move Psystrike and then a trio of viable secondary charge moves. (We compare several down below.)
  • Mewtwo is more of a spice play in lower leagues (and not low level enough to fit in Great League anyway when caught at raid level), but Shadow does again stand up as a decent sidegrade option.

Make sure to read through our related reading articles Shadow Mewtwo Raid Guide and Master Guide to Defeat Shadow Mewtwo: Prepare your Counters!.

Shadow Mewtwo

(SHADOW) MEWTWO Stats and Moves

Mewtwo (Shadow) Psychic

Great League Stats

Attack Defense HP
148 (146 High Stat Product) 94 (95 High Stat Product) 108 (110 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 4-15-15, 1498 CP, Level 13)

Ultra League Stats

Attack Defense HP
190 (189 High Stat Product) 122 (123 High Stat Product) 140 (142 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 1-15-13, 2498 CP, Level 22)

Master League Stats

Attack Defense HP
265 (318 with Shadow boost) 166 (132 with Shadow reduction) 192

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs, CP 4724 at Level 50)

Mewtwo is a pretty well known commodity to Pokémon GO players by now. Psychic Pokémon like Mewtwo are famously weak to Ghost and Dark damage, less famously vulnerable to Bug damage as well, and resist Fighting and Psychic moves.

Regular Mewtwo is already far from tanky, but has passable bulk, roughly on par with Gyarados and Swampert at Master League level where you are most likely to see it show up in PvP. As we’ll see later, its relative lack of bulk holds it back in Ultra League — where the bulkier Armored Mewtwo is the version you CAN expect to sometimes run across — and regular and this raid-level version of Shadow Mewtwo cannot even fit in Great League.

The famous tradeoff with any Shadow, however, is that to accomplish its buff to Attack, Defense is slashed to compensate. And while that means Shadow Mewtwo has an absolutely insane Attack stat (well over 300 when you factor in the Shadow boost), when you consider the slashed Defense, it is the glassiest of cannons, roughly the same as Haunter in Great League, Gengar and Alakazam in Ultra League, and worse than Machamp and even Gardevoir in Master League. It hits like a truck, no doubt, but it can’t stand up to a lot of punishment. Still, probably nothing you didn’t already know. Moving on… to the moves.

Fast Moves

  • ConfusionPsychic type, 4.0 DPT, 3.0 EPT, 2.0 CoolDown
  • Psycho CutPsychic type, 1.5 DPT, 4.5 EPT, 1.0 CD

So as devastating as Confusion is, especially with Mewtwo’s crazy high Attack, it is instead Psycho Cut that you usually want, as you need that high energy generation to fire off as many charge moves as possible before the lack of bulk catches up to Mewtwo (especially with the Shadow version). And considering that high Attack, even Psycho Cut damage adds up… in Master League, for example, Mewtwo can take out Machamp with Psycho Cut alone!

But again, the main reason to use Cut is to charge up moves. Like these!

– Legacy/Elite TM Move

– Purified-only Move

Charge Moves

  • PsystrikePsychic type, 90 damage, 45 energy
  • Ice BeamIce type, 90 damage, 55 energy
  • ThunderboltElectric type, 90 damage, 55 energy
  • FlamethrowerFire type, 90 damage, 55 energy
  • PsychicPsychic type, 90 damage, 55 energy, 10% Chance: Reduce Opponent Defense -1 Stage
  • Shadow BallGhost type, 100 damage, 55 energy
  • ReturnNormal type, 130 damage, 70 energy
  • Focus BlastFighting type, 140 damage, 75 energy
  • Hyper BeamNormal type, 150 damage, 80 energy

Lotta moves there, but I am going to try and focus on the ones that have the most real potential. Again, trying to keep this simple!

So first off, Psystrike is pretty much a must-have. It is by far Mewtwo’s cheapest charge move, and the only STAB one you really want to be using. It pairs particularly well with Psycho Cut, as every 5 Cuts is equal to exactly the 45 energy Psystrike requires. Love it when you don’t have to worry about wasted energy! Psychic damage is resisted by Steels, Psychics, and Darks, but fortunately there are very few of the latter two (really just Yveltal, Lugia, and the occasional Zarude… and the mirror), leaving only Steels as a real problem.

The raw power of Psycho Cut into Psystrike blows past several things that don’t resist Psychic damage, like Swampert, Gyarados, Landorus, Mamoswine, Xerneas, the major Charmers, and even scary things like Snorlax and its super effective Lick, and Psychic-resistant Excadrill and with a little luck on your side, possibly even Dialga! But obviously, you’re going to want to tote around a second move. So which one of the many available is best?

Let’s start with the league where Mewtwo has had (and will likely always continue to have) its greatest impact….

Shadow Raids


So first let’s establish our baseline, with non-Shadow Mewtwo.

First off, no, you don’t really want to keep Return if you purify a Shadow Mewtwo. It just doesn’t offer much, though it DOES at least come with the knockout power to add Zacian to the win list. But you can do much better. Heck, even big fat Legacy Normal move Hyper Beam is far better than that!

As a quick aside while we’re on the topic, though… purifying a Shadow Mewtwo is NOT a bad idea, IMO. Keep in mind that Mewtwo, like all Pokémon, requires 296 XL Candy to reach Level 50. But a purified one requires “only” 272. Might not be a massive difference, but every bit helps, right?

Conversely, a Shadow Mewtwo requires 360 XL Candy to hit Level 50. Yes, I’m going to spend much of this article later showing the good that comes with Shadow Mewtwo, but DO keep that extra cost in mind. It’s significant! 😬

Anyway, so Return is out, but there are still plenty of other moves to choose from. Psychic is almost completely redundant (same damage as Psystrike for 10 more energy, and even its debuff is very low odds). Thunderbolt and Flamethrower just don’t do enough at this level (the latter being particularly disappointing versus those Steels… big sads). So that leaves us with three options, which I will quickly list along with their major advantages:

  • Legacy Shadow Ball is rather tepid on regular Mewtwo, really just flipping other Psychics (read as: Lugia and Mewtwo) to wins. We’ll revisist this one with Shadow Mewtwo, though, where it becomes a bit more interesting.
  • Ice Beam is by far the best “elemental” coverage at this level. I’ve written several times in the past about how potent Ice can be in Master League with so many good Flyers, Grounds, and especially Dragons to target, and in this specific case, Ice Beam means wins versus Dragonite, Garchomp, Zekrom, and funny enough, the same Lugia and even enemy Mewtwo that Shadow Ball can achieve. This is one I recommned giving a long look.
  • But the overall “best” is Focus Blast, which does fall flat versus the Psychics and things like Dragonite and Garchomp, but does still take down Zekrom, as well as Reshiram and Kyogre, PLUS Fighting-weak Mamoswine, Melmetal, and yes, Dialga! The appeal is obvious, no?
  • I know I said earlier that Psystrike is a move you basically always want, but I would be remiss not to point out the potential that comes with Focus Blast/Ice Beam. In some ways, it’s thw best of both worlds, holding down all the wins that come with Focus Blast AND those with Ice Beam, though with two very notable exceptions. Opposing Mewtwo have the advantage thanks to the bait-and-outrace potential of Psystrike, and worse, you’re usually going to lose to Zacian without the sheer speed and unresisted damage of Psystrike. Sometimes the numbers aren’t as important as the details of what losses specifically show up. I DO think this moveset is very viable if you can’t (or don’t want to) burn an Elite TM on Psystrike, though.

Alright, so that’s all for regular/purified Mewtwo. What about the Shadow ones we’re hunting for this weekend? Keeping in mind that we have that 360 XL Candy cost to tackle, as well as the immediate issue of being stuck with Frustration until the next Team GO Rocket event (since Niantic for some reason decided to keep it locked during THIS Shadow event 😣), let’s see how the Shadow version WILL look once we can actually build one up with two usable charge moves.

As before, I am pushing things like Psychic (the move), Thunderbolt, and Flamethrower off the raft. Thunderbolt actually isn’t bad, but we can do better.

  • Shadow Ball makes for a better showing this time around, though it still takes third prize overall. The two biggest standouts are opposing Mewtwo (as before), but note that it is able to punch out Origin Forme Giratina, which is quite impressive. The raw power of Shadow-boosted Shadow Ball also topples Metagross (weak to Ghost, so not too shocking) and even Melmetal. Not bad at all!
  • Ice Beam still remains slightly better overall, though the wins are quite different. Out are Melmetal, Metagross, Mewtwo, and Giratina, and in instead are Ice-weak Dragonite, Zekrom, Garchomp, and Groudon, the last of which non-Shadow Mewtwo was never able to quite knock out, so that’s neat.
  • The reigning champ, however, remains Focus Blast, despite how worryingly slow it is to come for flimsy Shadow Mewtwo. Like Shadow Ball, it blows away Metmetal and Metagross, and Zekrom as well. And uniquely, it also blasts through Reshiram, Kyogre, and Diagla, in that last case, before Dialga can reach ANY second charge move. As long as Mewtwo has a shield and suckers Dialga into shielding Psystrike (both rather likely), Shadow Mewtwo has every advantage.
  • Ice Beam/Focus Blast does NOT come as recommended here as it did for non-Shadow Mewtwo, though… mainly because it will now typically lose to Diagla!

Shadow Mewtwo

So to recap: purely by the numbers, the “best” three moves are Focus Blast, Ice Beam, and then Shadow Ball, in that order. But all three are viable and generally have their own unique standout wins, so it really comes down to team composition on which move you want.

That said, there are other shielding scenarios to consider as well. With shields down, Focus Blast remains the best with unique wins versus Kyogre, Palkia, and Swampert, but Shadow Ball slightly surpasses Ice Beam now, beating Melmetal (as does Focus Blast), Metagross, and opposing Mewtwo, none of which Ice Beam can replicate. Beam instead beats Zekrom and Dragonite. None of those are probably surprising, but it’s worth noting it all.

Also, in 2v2 shielding, Focus Blast still gets unique wins versus Melmetal and now Zarude as well, and both it and Shadow Ball overcome Metagross. Ball gets its own unique win versus opposing Mewtwo, while Ice Beam now has no unique wins.

All that to say… yeah, Focus Blast is still overall best, but there are cases for Shadow Ball and Ice Beam too. Just wanted you to have the full story.

Last piece… what are the big differences between Shadow and non-Shadow? Well I already highlighted a couple, but the big ones are:

  • Shadow Mewtwo’s ability to beat Origin Giratina. Non-Shadow just does not have the knockout power to realistically replicate this.
  • Shadow also beats Mamoswine with Psystrike alone, while non-Shadow just can’t quite get there without Focus Blast, and its wins against Metagross with Shadow Ball or Focus Blast are something that non-Shadow cannot replicate either. Ice Beam Shadow Mewtwo is also the only way to reliably overcome Groudon.
  • On the flipside, the extra bulk of non-Shadow allows it to hang in there and beat Lugia (with Shadow Ball), reliably outlast Garchomp, and as mentioned before, overcome Zacian, something Shadow Mewtwo struggles with no matter what moves it’s running.

Got all that? Hope so, because I will not be saying all that again!

So briefly, let’s look at Ultra.


So uh… here’s the high bar for non-Shadow Mewtwo, and for the very-slightly-worse Shadow Mewtwo, both with Focus Blast. Nothing doing, folks. The Mewtwo you want in Ultra League is heavily Armored. And uh… when’s that coming back, Niantic?

Again, no way to get raid-level Mewtwo in Great League, but even if you could, it would be super niche.

Shadow Mewtwo


Last question I know is on many peoples’ mind is… does Mewtwo HAVE to have 15-15-15 IVs to work in Master League? Obviously I would recommend you hold out for that, but if you get to the end of this raid weekend and can’t find it, you CAN consider other options. I’m going to stick with Focus Blast Shadow Mewtwo here for simplicity.

  • In 1v1 shielding, you can go as low as 14-15-14 IVs without missing a beat. Anything below that (to include a similar 14-14-15 loses Gyarados.
  • With shields down, a 15-14-15 or 14-15-15 are still fine, but frustratingly, the 14-15-14 we noted in 1v1 shielding (and anything with worse IVs than that) loses Kyogre.
  • And in 2v2 shielding, a 15-14-15 holds up okay, but anything lower starts shedding wins like Palkia, and will begin losing the mirror match as well.

Honestly, anything lower than that is probably not worth powering up. If you have, like, a 13-13-13 though, I WOULD give serious thought to purifying it. Remember that, for whatever reason, this particular Shadow event does NOT give the option to remove Frustration from Shadow Pokémon, so even a great Shadow Mewtwo will be stuck with it for who knows how long and therefore unusable for a while. A purified Mewtwo can be double moved immediately (and as mentioned much earlier, I think you can safely TM away Return for a better move instead), and is cheaper to power up… a particularly nice option for players who do not already have a maxed Mewtwo. 👍


Alright, so let’s see. We covered Master League… Shadow vs non-Shadow… best moves… IVs… a peek at lower Leagues… yep, I think that about does it!

If there IS anything you think I missed, please do hit me with a reply or DM and we can chat about it. Not opposed to modifying this if need be! Otherwise, gonna call this one a wrap and let you get your purified gems and teams prepped for what sounds like a daunting raid challenge. Good luck!

Until next time, you can 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!

Thanks again for reading, and may all your Shadow Mewtwo be easily subdued this weekend. 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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