Hello again, fellow PvPers! GOFest is upon us, and with it comes some new (or at least, new to many of you) Pokémon! Let’s see how they shake out, starting with our customary Bottom Line Up Front:
- Though not yet 100% confirmed, it is a near certainty that our first Ultra Beast, Nihilego, will arrive over the weekend, likely on Sunday. As a Rock/Poison type with a top CP just below 4500, this should be a very exciting addition to PvP… but as you’ll see, at least at the time of this writing, its fast moves just hold it back within the confines of PvP.
- Shaymin comes with a passable new closing move in Seed Flare, and decent enough charge moves outside of that, but it too seems destined for disappointment thanks to its poor selection of fast moves. Here’s hoping for a shakeup!
- It’s nice that everyone that wants it can now get Torkoal, one of the more difficult to find regionals. It USED to be a pretty decent pick in PvP, but unfortunately has since been surpassed several times over. Still, it’s decent enough spice and worth scooping up while you can.
- Tropius has been a PvP staple from the beginning, and that hasn’t changed. If you still lack it in your PvP arsenal, and/or just need more candy, this is one well worth the PvP grind.
And now some more detail behind all that, though I’ll be blunt and honest up front: this is not an article jam packed with a lot of exciting new picks. In part it’s actually a good example of how to ruin what SHOULD be exciting new things with lousy moves….
STEPPING ON (NIHI)LEGOS 😖Nihilego RockPoison
Our first Ultra Beast is right on the horizon, with NIHILEGO about to hit our Pokédexes (likely on Day 2 of GOFest). As a Rock/Poison type that gets all the way up to 4465 CP and has decent overall stats, this should be a very interesting and unique new addition to PvP. Poison is exceedingly rare at Master League level especially. And the type combination makes this a Rock type that is NOT weak to Fighting or Grass; in the end it resists Fairy, Fire, Flying, Normal, and Bug, double resists Poison, and is weak to Psychic, Steel, Water, and unfortunately 2x weak to Ground.
While Niantic chose not to give this Rock/Poison type any coverage moves — and it has many in MSG, including Psyshock, Thunderbolt, Grass Knot, Foul Play, and Dazzling Gleam — but at least they gave it some decent-to-good STAB moves with Rock Slide, Sludge Bomb, and Gunk Shot, three of the best on-type charge moves it could have hoped for. (Though it does also have things like Acid Spray, Cross Poison, Sludge Wave, and Rock Tomb… but we’ll take what we got!)
All of that is workable, but there’s a big problem: the fast moves. Pound is a complete joke of a move (nerfed to be even worse recently in an effort to drive down Chansey’s PvP viability), leaving us with only Acid.
While it at least gets STAB damage, overall it’s a very subpar move, with only the average 3.0 Damage Per Turn and a below average 2.5 Energy Per Turn.
For reference, any decent fast move will come to at least a total of 6 when you combine DPT and EPT… moves like Water Gun and Bug Bite and Lick have 3.0 DPT and 3.0 EPT (6 total), some moves have 3.5 DPT and 2.5 EPT (or vice versa), and the better moves in the game exceed a total of 6 (too many examples to list, but things like Confusion, Vine Whip, Poison Jab, and especially Counter all fit the bill, among many others). 3.0 DPT/2.5 EPT obviously adds up to less than 6, making it a below average move.
For another point of reference, those are the same stats as Flying move Peck, which NOTHING wants to use. (Well, perhaps aside from odd circumstances like Combusken in Fighting Cup later this season… but that’s for another day. 😉) Nothing really wants to ever use Acid either. There is a very good chance you’ve never even SEEN Acid in action. Ever.
Here, unfortunately, it’s all we’ve got… and it really drags Nihilego down. Nihilego doesn’t learn any current Rock fast moves in MSG, but it DOES learn Poison Jab (by TM), which would at least help (new wins versus Ho-Oh, Lugia, multiple versions of Dragonite, and Origin Giratina); without that, it’s basically only an anti-Fairy specialist with a couple of other interesting wins against Machamp and Zarude (thanks to Poison) and Yveltal (thanks to Rock).
Some of its other potential coverage charge moves would make it even more interesting still, but alas. As it stands now — until Niantic surely sees this analysis and decides to quick change it, as per normal 😜 — Nihilego looks like a bust. Though at least in PvE, even with Acid, it clocks in as a really good Poison attacker. (Best one outside of Megas, I do believe.)
So what’s the verdict?
While Nihilego is a really fun design and I’d love to be able to recommend it, Niantic did it a bit dirty, in the fast move department especially. Adding Poison Jab would make it at least spicy, and adding a coverage move as well would earn it a thumbs up from me. But until then… well, get it while you can, but I wouldn’t invest heavily in one just yet.
FAST SLOW 🦔
The big ticket item we’ve known about for quite some time is SHAYMIN… just the hedgehog-like Land Forme, for now. And while it comes with some pretty good Grass charge moves (Grass Knot, Energy Ball) including the all-new Seed Flare (75 energy for 130 damage plus a 40% chance to drop the opponent’s Defense by two stages, AKA same energy and damage as Hydro Pump and Gunk Shot with potential for a huge enemy debuff tacked on), Shaymin is undone by its fast moves just like Nihilego.
While in MLG it can learn the likes of Magical Leaf and Bullet Seed (and other decent fast moves like Air Slash and Quick Attack), at this current point of time in Pokémon GO, it is stuck with the useless Zen Headbutt (2.67 DPT, only 2.0 EPT 🤮) and only-slightly-less-useless Hidden Power (3.0 DPT, 2.67 EPT 🤢).
The common theme there? Below average energy generation. In other words, the anti-Sonic The Hedgehog. This hedgehog is sloooooooow.
Another strike against it: it tops out way below 4000 CP in Master League: 3691 at Level 50, and only 3265 at Level 40 (relevant if Master League Classic ever returns… sadge). That combined with the lousy fast moves leaves it very poor even at its best in Master League. And no. other leagues are no better. Hidden Power is not THE worst move ever, but it’s just not good in PvP. And sadly, at this at this point in time, neither is Shaymin.
So what’s the verdict?
Despite Seed Flare looking potentially fun in PvP, Shaymin just doesn’t have any fast moves with the energy generation necessary to make it work… or make ANYTHING it has really work, for that matter.
As with Nihilego, here’s another case of poor fast moves completely stifling what could and should be an exciting new addition to the game. Couldn’t at least give us Air Slash or something, Niantic? Boooo. 😔
SLOW BURN 🐢🔥Torkoal Fire
There was a time that TORKOAL was actually a solid spice pick in Great League play. Some of the earliest adopters of PvP (back when GBL was still but a twinkle in John Hanke’s eye, and The Silph Arena was the only truly organized PvP outfit around) swore by Torkoal as one of their favorite surprise picks.
With Fire Spin powering out not only Overheat, but also great coverage with Earthquake and Solar Beam, there were a lot of match-flipping, shock-and-awe nukes to be had.
But PvP, of course, has not just sat in place. Many new Pokémon and many move shakeups later, and Torkoal now sits WAY back in the overall rankings, behind such Fire types as Rapidash, Darumaka, Entei, and even Magmar and Heatmor. Ouch.
I DO think it has a little more promise than its ranking shows, and Overheat and Earthquake in particular are much better moves now than they were back in those early days, but there’s no sugar coating that a Fire type without any real bait potential is hard to make work anymore.
You can still do some nice things in formats like Remix, where Fire types are pretty good anyway (thanks to several of that format’s spot bans) and Earthquake gives Torkoal a big advantage versus other Fire types (beating Ninetales, Alolan Marowak, and Magcargo, for a few examples).
But pull back the curtain and look at open League play, and Torkoal’s flaws really show out. This is a Fire type that fails to beat things like Meganium, Trevenant, or Venusaur, for example.
Maybe one day Niantic will gift it Incinerateand/or Flame Charge or something. But until and unless that happens, then appropriate to its tortoise kind, Torkoal is just too slow.
So what’s the verdict?
Torkoal had some glory days very early on, but those days are long past. It doesn’t have terrible moves, but it just doesn’t have the right ones to keep up in today’s meta. Pray for something like Flame Charge to help it along. Until then, grab a few while they’re there for the taking, as this is one of the rarer regionals around, and just a little move tweaking COULD make it very interesting again. Until then, this is another one to sit on.
OL’ BANANA CHIN 🍌🍃Tropius Grass
Remember when TROPIUS was one of the most sought-after Pokémon in PvP? Some of that hype has died down over time, but despite tons changing around it while Tropius has remained a fixed point, with no change to its moves or any significant changes to the moves it has (somehow all of its moves have remained untouched by all the move rebalances over the last couple years), it remains a solid Great League option (and in multiple different configurations).
The hype may be lessened, partly because more and more have found their way into players’ hands around the globe over time, but yes: Tropius remains good and is WELL worth grinding for, arguably as THE top target for PvPers during this GOFest weekend.
So what’s the verdict?
Tropius is the one you want to chase if you care about PvP. Yes, there are other things to run down, but as with Torkoal, Tropius remains one of the most difficult regionals to acquire for most players, and unlike Torkoal, Tropius remains a staple of Great League play and something you absolutely still want (and will likely ALWAYS want) in your arsenal. If you lack if, get it, and if you have it, get it anyway. This is a great chance to upgrade with one with better IVs than the one or two you’ve managed to trade for. Go go go!
ODDS AND ENDS
While I wanted to just focus on the new (or at least all-new-to-you) stuff available this weekend, and am leaving a general overview of what to hunt down to others who have already covered the topic, I WILL give a very quick overview of some of the highlights among other spawns:
AXEW obviously is a major win this weekend, with it being in raids AND in the wild for good opportunities to grind candy AND good IV spreads. Final evolution HAXORUS is decent spice in lower leagues, but where it really shines is in Master League, particularly should Classic formats ever return. And if you have excess candy after the weekend, you can even consider a Great League FRAXURE, which is an underrated spice option itself.Weezing (Galarian) PoisonFairy
If you lack a good GALARIAN WEEZING, try and scoop a few up. It’s NOT good now, as it is another ‘mon trapped behind a terrible fast move, but should it eventually get Fairy Wind as rumored (or really, any halfway decent fast move), with charge moves like Overheat, Play Rough, and even Sludge, it could come roaring to life in a hurry. Poison/Fairy is a very intriguing type combination with only three weaknesses (Ground, Psychic, Steel) and twice as many resistances, including THREE double resistances (Dragon, Fighting, and Bug).
The Rainforest Habitat is a particularly good time to hunt, with wild PANCHAM, BINACLE, and SKRELP offering nice opportunities to get Pangoro (and this may be your best opportunity ever to get one for Great League!), Barbaracle, and Dragalge. All are excellent spice/Cup options to have on hand.
From the Tundra Habitat, this may be your last opportunity to grind for BERGMITE to make a good Avalugg. (Which I wrote about in detail, along with Mr. Rime, a while back.) Kinda odd to see MEDITITE here, but yeah, go ham for XL Candy for your XL Medicham while you’re at it!
Several others that are good, but again, those are some of the particular highlights. Good hunting!
Alright, that’s all I got for today. Hope this was helpful, and hope the greatly nerfed Incense doesn’t spoil your attempts to grind for the particularly cool stuff to be found. I myself will be at am hours-long soccer tournament for my kids much of Saturday, and family comes first. Here’s hoping my aging GO Plus still pulls in a good haul. 🤞
Until next time, you can find me on Twitter for regular PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And as always, please feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!
Good luck out there, but please be safe, Pokéfriends. Thanks again for reading, and catch you next time!