If the Ferocious Cup was the start to opening Pandora’s Box for the Silph Arena, then the Timeless Cup certainly continues on that path. The December 2019 competitive PvP tournament provided by the Silph Arena allows all Battlers to take a trip down memory lane by picking a starter and building a team around said starter. Within this, we will look at some early trends, top picks to look at, and just how to go about setting up a team for success early on.
Timeless Cup Rules
Within the Timeless Cup, all Battlers are required to pick a starter Pokémon from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, or Sinnoh. However, you are only allowed to pick one for a team. So, that means no Venusaur and Swampert on the same team for example. From there, Battlers are allowed to pick a team of five other Pokémon to support the starter they chose and take that team into battle. As with all Silph Arena tournaments, there is a banlist in an attempt to diversify the meta beyond the one starter per team restriction. It is worth noting that starter Pokémon are exempt from any type bans within the Timeless Cup.
- Type Bans: Fighting Normal Fairy Steel Psychic
- Species Bans: Umbreon, Sableye, all Legendaries, all Mythicals
- Region Bans: Unova, Alola, Galar
So with the stipulation of one starter per team and the above bans, what does that mean for the meta? Let’s take a look at some of the early trends and top options.
Timeless Cup Early Trends
With the ban on Steel and Fairy types (aside from Empoleon due to its status as a starter Pokémon), Dragon types are incredibly powerful. Dragon resists all the starter types and hits everything but Empoleon for neutral damage, which makes them fantastic generalists and safe switches as the only Pokémon that will quickly beat them are fellow Dragon types along with Ice types.
On the subject of Ice types, the power of Dragon types in this cup is naturally going to make them powerful picks as Ice is the only remaining type that can safely switch into a Dragon type without melting to Dragon Breath damage.
As far as the restricted starter slot is concerned, Venusaur, Charizard, and Swampert are the early leaders for these choices. Venusaur and Swampert are just naturally fantastic PvP Pokémon and Charizard always seems to shine in Silph Arena cups due to Blast Burn putting it so far ahead of other Fire type options.
Outside of these three, most other candidates aren’t really good options to consider for the restricted slot aside from potentially Blaziken as it’s the only legal Fighting type in the Cup and Meganium for its slightly different matchup spread against some key Pokémon compared with Venusaur..
Dragonair has always had solid moves to work with, but has always lived under the long shadow of Altaria. However, thanks to the ban on Dragon typing, good charge moves, slightly above average bulk, and the all-important Dragon Breath, Dragonair can easily push damage onto almost any opponent it comes across. It will falter against any Ice type it comes across due to the weakness, but it will still get to a charge move quick enough to force some pressure and obviously push damage with Dragon Breath. While it isn’t as dominant as Umbreon was in Ferocious Cup or Lucario in Kingdom Cup, Dragonair looks to be a major staple on almost any Timeless Cup team due to its incredible kit.types, Dragonair can finally shine in a Silph Arena cup. With a pure
Kingdra is similar to Dragonair in that it usually lives under Altaria’s shadow. With Altaria out of the picture, Kingdra looks like it will perform similarly to how it did in the Rainbow Cup as an extremely effective closer that puts a hard stop to any Water or Fire type attacker trying to run through your team. With heavy hitting moves all around, Kingdra is an ideal closer that will generally find the most use when it is able to attack a shieldless opponent. Between Outrage and Hydro Pump, almost every foe will be KOed if hit by these lethal moves. Kingdra also stands out from Dragonair by having a better matchup against Ice type checks, but due to that Water typing, it will lose out to Razor Leaf users when shields are still up. Using both in tandem is a viable strategy due to the simple fact that there’s only one Pokémon that resists Dragon type moves in the Timeless Cup.
Shelgon was a surprisingly good performer in the Ferocious Cup and it looks to surprise more people in the Timeless Cup. Shelgon is by far the bulkiest of the three good Dragon types with a great Defense stat and it also has Flamethrower to turn the tables on the likes of Froslass and Snowy Castform, which is something that Dragonair in particular can’t do. It also drives home wins against Grass types with Flamethrower, which means it has to worry less when shields are down. Unfortunately for Shelgon, its charge moves aren’t fast enough to easily break shields and they aren’t quite strong enough to reliably close against the majority of foes. For this reason, it sits in the middle of Dragonair, more of a shield breaker, and Kingdra, very much a closer.
Lapras is the other true dominant force in the early stages of the Timeless Cup. Between it and Dragonair, most of the meta is checked at worst and Lapras itself is able to reliably handle Dragonair. With great bulk and good moves, most Battlers already have a Lapras from the multiple cups its been good in from Season 1. The main debate will be whether to go full legacy with Ice Beam or to pick up Skull Bash as the 2nd move. This is a choice that will likely be made more clear as the meta develops and we see which move gets more wins against the more relevant Pokémon. Be very wary against the Frenzy Plant users when using Lapras. Understand that it will beat Venusaur, but lose to Meganium. This is due to the fact that Meganium is bulky enough to reach a 3rd Frenzy Plant before fainting to Ice Shard, so make sure that you don’t rely entirely on Lapras to overcome these Frenzy Plant users.
Wherever Lapras is a strong pick, Sealeo will follow. While Lapras may have more overall wins, Sealeo stands out for being able to beat Lapras while also being a superior shield breaker thanks to how quickly it gains access to its charge moves. Similar to being able to pull off a Double Dragon strategy, utilizing Lapras and Sealeo in tandem can also be effective as there aren’t many Pokemon that can reliably defeat both while Sealeo itself is able to cover opposing Lapras. Due to Sealeo not having a good DPT fast move, Grass types have a much easier time as it can’t keep up with their fast move damage output.
Venusaur is arguably the best of all the Starter Pokémon in the Timeless Cup as it is able to overcome Dragon types, fight back against almost all of its counters, and deal with the “Mudbois” effortlessly. It does unfortunately lose to Lapras and Dragonair when shields are still up, so you will want to be sure these Pokemon are covered when using Venusaur as your starter pick. While the Poison typing lets Venusaur beat all other Grass types, this does leave it open to Confusion from Venomoth and last-ditch effort Earthquakes from Swampert and Quagsire when shields are down.
As always seems to be the case when it’s included in a Silph Arena cup, Charizard is a valuable pick for how far ahead of other Fire types it is. However, in the Timeless Cup, Charizard has a different perk over other Fire types in this meta. With access to Dragon Claw and type fast moves, Charziard is able to overcome most Dragon types while still covering all the Grass type options. As always, Charizard is a potent source of Fire type damage if you’d rather keep things simple with a Fire type fast move and lock down all Grass types regardless of the shield situation.
Similar to how Charizard is to Fire types, Swampert is easily the class of the Mudboy field. With its super quick access to Hydro Cannon, Swampert is able to put up a strong fight against any non-Grass type due to how quickly it gets access to a powerful move. As is always the case, Swampert is highly allergic to Grass types, especially any Razor Leaf user as some can even take it out before Swmapert has a chance to get to a Hydro Cannon. Because of this, it is paramount to ensure that Grass types are covered well when deciding to use Swampert as your starter.
It may seem foolhardy to use your restricted slot on Meganium when Venusaur is around and beats it, but there are a couple of reasons to consider Meganium over Venusaur. The clear reason is the Lapras matchup as Meganium is bulky enough to reach a 3rd Frenzy Plant whereas Venusaur is not. Earthquake access and lack of a secondary Poison typing not only means it beats some Poison and Fire types depending on shielding, but it also means that Meganium isn’t weak to Confusion while resisting Ground type damage, making it a safer pick against the Mudboy crowd and in the face of Venomoth. While Venusaur might be a better overall pick, there’s very clear advantages Meganium has that could make it a better pick for your team.
Blaziken is the last starter worth considering for your restricted slot. It is one of the hardest Lapras counters in the Timeless Cup as it is able to simply farm down Lapras with Counter as long as it has a shield for Surf. This means big trouble for most Pokémon as it allows Blaziken to unleash 2 Blast Burns against almost any foe once Lapras is farmed down. This will either put Blaziken’s team in a shield advantage situation or force significant damage onto whatever comes in next. Outside of this, Blaziken is the only real source of Fighting type damage which could lend itself to earning a spot on your team.
A Grass type is near mandatory for the Timeless Cup. Despite the poor matchup against Dragonair and complete inability to touch Venomoth for relevant damage, Victreebel is among the most dangerous Grass types due to high Attack and Razor Leaf. Victreebel’s Razor Leaf is so strong that it can almost always take out Swampert before it even reaches Hydro Cannon! Even Dragonair will get chunked down despite its Grass type resistance due to the high DPT of Razor Leaf. Victreebel is fairly squishy, so it gets into trouble whenever Razor Leaf is resisted as its low EPT means that Victreebel won’t reach charge moves very quickly.
With Bayleef and Grotle restricted by being a starter evolution, Bellossom is the best pure Grass type Razor Leaf user to consider. With decent bulk and Razor Leaf, Bellossom is the hardest counter to Swampert and Quagsire while also reliably beating Kingdra with the extra bulk, something Victreebel can’t always do. It is worth noting that it’s highly recommended to have a purified Bellossom since Leaf Blade is the only charge move Bellossom reaches reliably unless it has Return via purification. While you still won’t use Return much, it’s better than never using Dazzling Gleam if you can help it.
Push Through the Mud
It’s been a little while since Whiscash has been seen in a Silph Arena cup, but it’s here in the Timeless Cup to remind us all who the original spammy “Mudboy” was before Swampert got access to Hydro Cannon. With Swampert being a restricted pick, this means that many players will likely turn to Whiscash to maintain high shield pressure and the resistance profile of the amazing Water / Ground typing. While Whiscash should always be kept away from Razor Leaf users, its access to Blizzard means that Grass and Dragon types need to be careful if Whiscash has some time to build energy up to it. Getting the most out of Whiscash will come down to getting shield baits right when necessary to land the Blizzard.
While Whiscash is able to maintain the heavy shield pressure Swampert provides, Quagsire is able to fill in as the potent closer Swampert can be. While it can’t pump out heavy charge moves as quickly as Swampert, the combination of Stone Edge + Earthquake goes unresisted in the Timeless Cup outside of Torterra. Similar to Whiscash, Quagsire absolutely must be kept away from Razor Leaf users due to the double weakness. Even worse, due to the higher energy cost of its moves, Quagsire will rarely even get to a charge move in the face of a Razor Leaf user. It performs worse against Dragon types as well since it doesn’t have Blizzard, but Stone Edge allows Quagsire to matchup better against Lapras and Sealeo than Whiscash can.
Mowing the Grass
Confusion users are extremely sparse in the Timeless Cup, but Venomoth is by far the best option. With Confusion, all the Grass types with a secondary Poison typing will get deleted while Grass types in general will struggle with Venomoth’s double resistance. Confusion also has a pretty high DPT, so even neutral targets (the vast majority of the meta) will be chunked down. There’s also always a 10% chance for Venomoth to turn Confusion into an absolute nuke. Worth noting that a Poison Fang Venomoth is ideal, but it is a legacy move.
Fire types are a little lackluster in the Timeless Cup, but Ninetales manages to stand out with its unique set of charge moves. Psyshock is a pretty low cost charge move and it can even break out Solar Beam to surprise one-shot a Water type thinking they’re safe. Ninetales is more consistent with the legacy Flamethrower though due to lower energy cost and more consistent access as a result. The problem for Ninetales is the same as that of other Fire types; Dragon and Water types are common and can easily handle it.
Dark types are relatively sparse in the Timeless Cup and this means that most Pokémon are neutral to Ghost. When most Pokémon are neutral to Ghost, that means Shadow Ball from something like Haunter is a major threat due to the high Attack stat and 100 base power. Haunter has always been a glass cannon of sorts and this still will hold true in the Timeless Cup. Confusion deletes it, Swampert and Whiscash are too fast for it, and Dragon Breath from Dragonair and Kingdra spell doom for it. However, the high potency of Shadow Ball is always a threat and any match up that isn’t Venomoth means that Haunter will have a chance to get to it.
Sunny Castform’s main claim to potential fame is Weather Ball. It’s a high powered, low energy cost move that can even push through some resistances. Sunny Castform’s access to Solar Beam also means that Water types have the potential to be nuked if they don’t have a shield or if the user tries to call out a shield bait with Weather Ball. Sunny Castform has similar downsides to Ninetales in that two very common types resist its moves. It’s even worse for Sunny Castform since Ninetales at least has Psyshock to hit Dragon and Water types for reliable neutral damage.
Froslass always seems to be that one Ice type that plays so much more aggressively from the others and the Timeless Cup is no different. With high Attack and subpar bulk, Froslass is all about reaching her high-powered charge moves to dish out serious damage before the opponent has a chance to capitalize on her defensive shortcomings. With some heavy fast moves around, like Razor Leaf and Dragon Breath, Froslass is definitely a high risk pick, but the potency of her charge moves means that she is a threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly if you see one on the opposing team. If you don’t save shields, Froslass will make you pay.
While this may be the most hostile cup toward Lanturn with Mudbois, Dragons, and Grass types all being near necessities on teams, it still has a chance to shine as one of few Pokemon capable of beating both Fire and Ice types. Lanturn is likely to find itself in more of its Tempest Cup role; luring out Grass types and / or Mudbois for the rest of the team to lock in and remove with ease while reliably beating Lapras, Sealeo, and any Fire type. Lanturn’s strong matchups on Charizard, Lapras, and Sealeo figure to keep it as a relevant choice for any Timeless Cup team.
There are many Pokémon that appear in the Timeless Cup that have been very useful in previous Silph Arena cups, so there should be no excuse for veteran Battlers to skip out on this one. Although not confirmed at the time of this writing, December Community Day could very well bring back all previous Community Day moves, which could allow for Battlers to finally get good PvP IV spreads for the likes of Venusaur and Charizard at long last. You can be sure that we’ll keep an eye on the meta as it develops and come back with a much more in-depth guide once we have a better idea and understanding as to the top threats and common team strategies that emerge in the Timeless Cup.