Under The Lights: Pangoro (A PvP Analysis)

Pangoro wallpaper
Pangoro

“You gotta let go of that stuff from the past, ’cause it just doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.” – The Kung Fu Panda

I won’t belabour the point, but it’s been a very rough season for me personally in GBL. I keep moving up, hit Expert, but then keep sliding back – WAY back – for days on end before the game finally lets me up for air. I know my analysis doesn’t necessarily translate to perfect personal gameplay, and that bad results in my own gameplay don’t invalidate being able to help others as a writer.

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But it’s hard to let go. Thankfully there’s Po, the Kung Fu Panda himself, to remind me that you gotta keep on moving, letting go of bad gameplay and self doubt, and choose to plow forward.

And there’s also the kung fu panda of Pokémon: PANGORO. When I’m down, I have found that going back to writing is sometimes the tonic I need. And if you’re down this season, maybe this analysis article and the arrival of Pangoro itself will help lift your spirits a bit and give you a new toy to play with. Pangoro is likely arriving next week!

Because, yes, I think Pangoro may be a nice shot in the arm. Let’s break it down.


Pangoro’s PvP Profile

[Fighting]/[Dark] Type

GREAT LEAGUE

  • Attack: 135 (133 High Stat Product)
  • Defense: 92 (94 High Stat Product)
  • HP: 134 (135 High Stat Product)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-13-13, 1500 CP, Level 19.5)

ULTRA LEAGUE

  • Attack: 172 (171 at Level 50)
  • Defense: 121 (121 at Level 50)
  • HP: 172 (175 at Level 50)

(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-14-15, 2500 CP, Level 34.5)

MASTER LEAGUE

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  • Attack: 190 (203 at Level 50)
  • Defense: 127 (135 at Level 50)
  • HP: 182 (194 at Level 50)

(Assuming 15-15-15 IVs; CP 2902 at Level 40; CP 3281 at Level 50)

You’ll find that I compare Pangoro to Pokémon GO’s other Dark / Fighting type Scrafty quite a bit, and I’m going to start that right here. Their typing resists Psychic, Ghost, and Rock damage and double resists Dark, all good things. The downside is being weak to Fighting and Flying damage, and of course critically, doubly weak to Fairy (AKA Charm).

But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Scrafty is quite a bit… well, scrappier than Pangoro, with significantly more bulk (155 Defense/117 HP on average in GL, and a whopping 196 Defense in UL, along with 148 HP) but also notably less Attack (110 in GL, 146 in UL). In terms of stats, Scrafty is built better for PvP than Pangoro.

But of course, stats are just part of the story. The rest of the tale is the moves….

Fast Moves

  • Snarl (Dark, 1.67 DPT, 4.33 EPT, 1.5 CD)
  • Bullet Punch (Steel, 3.0 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 CD)
  • Low Kick (Fighting, 2.0 DPT, 2.5 EPT, 1.0 CD)

So Scrafty has Snarl, but typically (AKA always that I have seen) runs with Counter instead, for rather obvious reasons… Counter remains THE best fast move in PvP. (4.0 DPT and 3.5 EPT!) Pangoro doesn’t have that option, so it’s Snarl or bust, right? Well… maybe. Low Kick is absolutely dreadful, so that’s out, but Bullet Punch is a move that’s a bit underrated in PvP. Yes, it sees play on Scizor and Metagross as their fast move of choice, but everything else that has it (Machamp, Lucario, Hitmonchan, Hariyama) also has STAB Counter, so BP just doesn’t have a case. Here, though? Well, we’ll revisit it below and see. But first, the charge moves!

Charge Moves

  • Night Slash (Dark, 50 damage, 35 energy, 12.5% Chance to Increase User Attack +2 Stages)
  • Close Combat (Fighting, 100 damage, 45 energy, Dereases User Defense -2 Stages)
  • Rock Slide (Rock, 75 damage, 45 energy)
  • Iron Head (Steel, 70 damage, 50 energy)

One thing that Scrafty and all those Pokémon with Bullet Punch do NOT have access to is the awesome Night Slash, which has the benefit of STAB damage here too. And combined with Pangoro’s high Attack, even a low power move like Night Slash hurts. For comparison, against neutral targets, Obstagoon’s Night Slash deals in the range of 7-10 less damage per use (depending on opponent’s Defense) than Pangoro’s Night Slash. It adds up quick.

But Night Slash alone will only get you so far. It’s obviously awesome at slaying most of the big name Ghosts and Psychics, but not much else. Pangoro needs a closing move.

With Scrafty, the closing move IS its Dark move: Foul Play, though it only hits for (on paper) 20 more damage than Night Slash, and with the Attack strength disparity between Pangoro and Scrafty, that actually only works out to be less than a 10 damage difference between the two.

See a neutral target like Munchlax to see what I mean by the difference between Scrafty’s Foul Play and Pangoro’s Night Slash… Foul Play hits for only 8 more damage – and costs 10 more energy – as long as both Pokémon have not gotten any Attack boosts, of course.

Pangoro has a much truer closing move option, with Close Combat. At 100 base damage for the same 45 energy as Foul Play (and its base 70 damage), NOW we have a move that can truly knock things out in meaningful spots, and without having to rely on the Power-Up Punch bait and boost hijinks that Scrafty relies on.


Meta overview

Great League performance

So put Snarl, Night Slash, and Close Combat together, and here’s what you get in Great League… which is actually the same record as Scrafty, though with some key differences that are worth digging into:

  • Between the two, Pangoro uniquely beats Defense Deoxys and Alolan Raichu – neither too surprising for a Snarl/Slash spammer – and more surprising targets like Swampert, Sableye, Skarmory, and Registeel. Yep… believe it or not, Scrafty does not usually beat any of those head to head in the standard 1v1 shielding scenario (AKA leadoff). Registeel especially surprised me – Scrafty has Counter, for crying out loud! – but as long as the Regi player correctly sniffs out the first PuP and lets it through and just blocks subsequent charge moves, it will reach a killer Focus Blast before Scrafty can dust it off, whereas Pangoro just has to land a Close Combat somewhere among multiple Night Slashes to outrace that Focus Blast. Not bad!
  • Scrafty, on the other hand, beats Alolan Marowak, Meganium, GrassHoler Victreebel, Dewgong, Diggersby, and Whiscash, and Pangoro typically does not… well, at least on paper. In actuality, Pangoro CAN beat A-Wak if it just spams Night Slash as often as it can, so there’s that extra point in its favor, tipping the scales ever so slightly to Pangoro with one extra win than Scraftry. Also consider that Scrafty can typically ONLY beat A-Wak at all if it gets a successful PuP bait first… if it goes straight Foul Play, Scrafty actually loses to A-Wak.

In short: Pangoro with the standard, recommended moveset of Snarl/Night Slash/Close Combat is on par with Scrafty in overall performance, being more consistent against targets weak to Dark damage and having more closeout power with CC.

Scrafty is certainly still great too, but that’s kind of the point: both will have their place in Great League, and even though on the surface they look quite similar, there are more than enough differences between them that I think they can both thrive without cannibalizing each other.

And one more thing: while Scrafty really only has that one moveset as its viable one (Snarl is okay-ish but a clear downgrade overall), there’s a little more move variance potential with Pangoro….

  • Running Rock Slide in place of Night Slash (for coverage) does lead to some disheartening losses (Shadow Hypno, DD, AhChu, Sableye, Registeel, and Skarmory all slip away), it does lead to surprising wins against Bugs like Galvantula and Flyers like Talonflame (and with Night Slash/Rock Slide, things like Altaria too). I don’t generally recommend that for Open play, but it IS an option and could give Pangoro a leg up over Scrafty in the right limited meta(s). I don’t think there’s really any case for Iron Head though… aside from the one in a million times you’d have a chance to actually throw it against an unshielded Charmer. It still won’t KILL them, but it’s a much better parting gift than Scrafty can muster, and you just might force them to burn a shield if you’re lucky.
  • There is also the potential of Bullet Punch… though it’s clearly not a fantastic choice in Great League. It doesn’t completely fall off a cliff, but down at this level, I think that’s a pass.

However, what of Ultra League?

Ultra League performance

One advantage with Pangoro at UL level is apparent without having to look at a single simulation: unlike Scrafty, which has to be maxed out (or very nearly so, like Level 49 or something) to hit that 2500ish CP sweet spot, Pangoro gets there in the low 30s. So there is a HUGE cost savings here if Pangoro can approach Scrafty’s performance. Soooo… does it?

On the surface, Scrafty is slightly better than Pangoro. Scrafty uniquely beats Registeel, Scizor, and Swampert, it’s obvious Counter advantage showing up versus those first two especially.

  • Pangoro has slightly lower numbers but does get unique wins of its own, including Drifblim with Snarl OR with Bullet Punch, and the latter also knocks out Armored Mewtwo without giving up ANY wins that Pangoro gets with Snarl. Mewtwo may seem like a real oddity, with Bullet Punch dealing only neutral damage compared to Snarl dealing super effective damage, but look at what happens: each Snarl deals 6 damage, and it takes three to charge up each Night Slash, so that’s 18 damage between Slashes.
  • Each Bullet Punch deals 4 damage, and there are 4-5 of them between each Night Slash, so that’s actually more fast move damage that adds up such that, by the time Mewtwo reaches the Dynamic Punch it needs to flip the match, Pangoro is just one fast move of damage away from finishing Mewtwo off… but the best play is still to throw its own winning Night Slash instead to ensure Mewtwo has no shot to get its own charge off, as Pangoro wins CMP. (This is Armored Mewtwo, remember, so pretty low Attack.)

The long and short of it is this: Pangoro seems very viable with Bullet Punch at this level, amazingly (though Snarl is still perfectly fine too, and in truth may still be preferred), and while slightly behind Scrafty, it gets most of its performance (both can beat the Giratinas and other Ghosts, Normals, Ices, most Steels (Empoleon, Ferrothorn, Melmetal, etc.), and of course opposing Dark types.

Registeel and Swampert are the two big differences for Scrafty, and Drifblim the big one for Pangoro. And those are still very close… Scrafty dies two Snarls short of outracin Drifblim, and Pangoro neats literally just ONE more Snarl’s worth of energy to outrace Registeel AND Swampert (actually one single energy short against Swampert… it dies with 34 of the 35 energy needed for a third and winning Night Slash 😵).

Yes, Scrafty is very slightly better, but a LOT more expensive and Pangoro is RIGHT there behind it. I think it’s not a bad call for players that cannot afford XL Scrafty to consider Pangoro instead.

Master League performance

And then finally, there’s Master League, which Pangoro has all to itself… Scrafty and its low CP cannot keep up. But Pangoro can!

In Master League Classic, Pangoro does pretty well for itself, still conquering the Giratinas, along with the big Steels (Melmetal, Metagross, Heatran, and yes, Dialga) along with other things weak to Close Combat (Snorlax, Mamoswine, Rhyperior) and Dark damage (Mewtwo, most notably), plus the occasional Excadrill, Magnezone, Gengar, or Electivire that may show up. You do very clearly want to just stick with Snarl here though… Bullet Punch falters in many ways.

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ALL the way up at XL Master League, Pangoro scales up very nicely, holding down all the same wins and adding Swampert to it! I daresay that Pangoro looks legit competitive in Master League, be it Classic or all the way up to Level 50.


Conclusion and parting words

So let’s bring it all home with a quick-ish TL;DR:

  • Pangoro looks like a legit alternative to Scrafty in Great and Ultra Leagues, being very slightly better in GL and very slightly worse (but MUCH cheaper to build) in UL. There are differences between the two – mainly with Pangoro being more Dark damage centric and Scrafty relying on more Fighting/fast move damage from Counter – but they both perform on pretty much the same level. Pangoro should find a place in both leagues.
  • Unlike Scrafty, Pangoro gets plenty big enough to fit in – and COMPETE – in Master League on the Level 40 or Level 50 playing field. If anything, it’s slightly better all the way up at 50, but is a viable option at either level. If you happen to find a hundo, hold onto it if you have any intentions of fighting in ML and are looking to perhaps mix things up. Good luck grinding XL candy for it!

And that’s it for today… that is MORE than long enough an article on one single new Pokémon, don’t you think? 😁 Until next time (likely a deep dive on the new Shadow – and Purified! – Pokémon coming in the near future), you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon with its tie-in Discord server you can access to get straight through to me for personalized answers to your questions.

Continued thanks to my PvP friends, local and around the world, who have lent their own ideas and suggestions over the last nearly two years of PvP play, and helped teach me to be a better player and student of the game. And thanks as always to u/Empoleon_Dynamite  over at PvPoke.com for making all of this analysis possible. You rock, sir!

And thank you for reading… I appreciate your attention and encouragement. Catch you next time, and stay safe out there, Pokéfriends!

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