What’s Trending in Retro Cup?

I won’t bore you with all the details, but man, it’s been a week for ol’ JRE. Just lots of holiday hustle and bustle and end of year insanity at work. I’ve barely been able to sit down in front of a device to analyze ANYTHING after entering the week with high hopes of cranking out three articles.

But hey, here’s one of hopefully two I WILL still be able to get to. And my pain means your gain… they’ll both be rather short and sweet as far as my long-windedness usually goes.

As many of you know, this GBL season kicked off with Retro Cup, one of the more popular (and varied) metas we’ve ever had in GO Battle League. As you likely also know, that was dropped in the middle of a pretty big move rebalance, and I’m just one guy, so I had to pick and choose and opted to cover the move rebalance first, intending to get into Retro Cup analysis the weekend after.

You know what they say about best laid plans. Now here we are, a week later, and I’m just now finally getting back to Retro.

But there’s a benefit to losing being “late”. Retro Cup is still around for another full week, and now we have a week of Retro Cup trends to consider. So rather than my standard “Nifty Or Thrifty” run through what’s meta in Retro Cup (you can find that sort of review from last time through Retro Cup over here, to get you started), I thought we would instead go to a different set of numbers than my usual simulation data and see not just what I think will change in the meta this time… but what actually HAS changed.

Today we’ll be forgoing my standard PvPoke sims and instead turning another of my most valued go-to resources: GO Battle Log. They compile data submitted by players on what they’re using and facing in various formats, and lay it out with easy to read charts, and then go from there to recommend specific teams and anti-meta picks to help you succeed on the ever-changing battlefield.


For example, here we have a snapshot of the old Retro Cup, from back in July in the middle of the Season Of Hidden Fees GemsFROSLASS looks like it’s everywhere, which does generally line up with my recollection of that version of Retro. ALTARIA and LANTURN were extremely powerful and popular picks, with your primary Counter users being MEDICHAM and DEFENSE DEOXYS, which makes perfect sense in an environment without Steels or Darks to blunt their Psychic-type charge moves. (Next quasi-Fighters behind them were HAXORUS and VIGOROTH, high but both outside of the Top 10.)

Other popular picks back then included NOCTOWL (pre-Sky Attack nerf) as the top non-Altaria Flyer, JELLICENT (still surging then from the recent-ish addition of Surf), ABOMASNOWDEWGONG, and DUNSPARCE, a particularly good counter to most of the top picks in the meta thanks to a potent and spammy combination of Ice/Flying-slaying Rock and Lanturn-burying Ground damage.


Compare all of that to what we’re seeing now. LANTURN becomes you new #1, and #2 and beyond aren’t even close. SO good is Lanturn that it shows as the most popular pick in any slot on teams, which is pretty remarkable by makes sense in this meta with so many Ice, Flying, and/or Water types to abuse. (Personally I’m seeing it on the VAST majority of teams myself, and indeed as a lead, closer, and swap.) VIGOROTH becomes your new top “Fighter” thanks to this season’s addition of Rock Slide, a much better fit in this Flying and Ice filled meta than Bulldoze ever was (especially once you consider the lack of Steels to throw Ground damage at). It looks to be most common on the backline of teams as a preferred “safe swap” (based again on GOBattleLog data and my own battles), which makes sense considering how few blowouts it can potentially suffer… it puts the hurt on just about everything.

But ahead of even Viggy now sits TALONFLAME, a huge splash in this meta now with the big buff to Incinerate and addition of Fly for better consistency and less riskiness. Even with the popularity of Lanturn, which basically shuts it completely down, Talon just does far too much good against the rest of the meta for Lanturn (and other mostly Water and Rock counters) to hold it back. Not even most Ice types (to include ones that take neutral damage throughout, like Dewgong and Walrein) or even several big-name Waters (like Poliwrath, Mantine, and Jellicent) can hold it back. SO good is Incinerate itself now that SKELEDIRGE hits its first Retro Cup as a star, finding itself among the Top 12 in usage.

Another Ghost rising alongside it is TREVENANT, which was outside even the Top 20 in former usage, but is now comfortably inside the Top 10, surely in large part for its role in walling new #1 Lanturn and having paths to victory over everything ahead of it in usage. JELLICENT basically doesn’t move at all though, maintaining great play against things like Vigoroth and Talonflame rising around it (despite Talon having paths to victory, it’s still not a battle Talonflame wants to find itself in). The rise of those Ghosts and Talonflame drive Medicham usage down and seemingly nearly push DDeoxys out of the top meta entirely. (For my part, I will say that seems TOO harsh, as DD arguably is better equipped to handle the new top meta than Medicham when you consider their coverage moves. I think DDeoxys is still a very fine pick.)

With Fighting fading overall, you might expect Ice types to rise, but the opposite seems to be the case. Froslass remains solid but falls off its former lofty perch, and others like Dewgong and Abomasnow notably drop, the latter basically out of this picture. (As with DD, though, I expect it to hang around anyway.) Do keep in mind that your new #1 Fighter, Vigoroth, does have fantastic anti-Ice play, and Lanturn’s rise puts a dent in their viability as well, so perhaps the fall is NOT to be unexpected after all.

One new Ice that shows up and puts in a good showing is ARCTIBAX, which I have personally encountered a lot so far. While it takes neutral from other Ice types, the resistances that come with being a Dragon (Fire, Water, and Electric in particular) are of great benefit in this meta, as well as putting out big Dragon damage with Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw (in a meta with no Fairies or Steels to resist it, remember!). Other risers include LICKITUNG, rising from #15 up to #7 (at the time of this capture, at least), which makes sense with A.) less Fighters and B.) more Ghosts that hate to get Licked down, as well as Lanturn that wants nothing to do with Power WhipDRAGONAIR (especially the Shadow version) jumps from barely Top 30 before to Top 10 now, with less Ice overall and more Fire (and Water and Electric) which Dragonair resists.

PELIPPER and QUAGSIRE remain fixed in a similar position to where they were in the previous Retro Cup meta, the latter despite the rise of Lanturn (surely in part because it’s still excellent versus the rising Fire types) and the latter because it remains solid in the meta AND hates pretty good on Lanturn as well. SWAMPERT rises up a bit to join in in a similar role, and I personally have actually seen far more Swamperts this go-round than Quag, despite the latter being the one to get some buffs since the last Retro Cup. WHISCASH rises up too for similar reasons, though I haven’t seen any with Blizzard yet (they’re all now running Scald instead, it seems), so it may be a bit shakier versus Flyers.

Speaking of Flyers, GOLBAT pops onto the usage chart (it was seemingly absent last time), and despite operating in a seemingly hostile environment with Lanturn and more common Ice and Rock moves around, it earns its place, remaining in an advantageous spot against Vigoroth and the Mud Boys while also getting perhaps more surprising wins versus most big Fire, Ghost, Psychic, and even Dragon types. It’s a Hero Of The Thrifty, for sure. Fellow Poison CLODSIRE joins it, brand new since last time, and you almost certainly want Stone Edge on it for Ice and Flying control.


Whether you’re struggling or not, hopefully the data and trends above can help you adapt and maxmize your performance in the second week of Retro Cup. But just to give you a little more to go on, here are some team ideas:

  • Trending Teams above are from GOBattleLog (some of which is ported up to PvPoke directly). These tend to be a mix of top meta picks AND some good corebreakers to give you a leg up in battle.

  • Above are some Top “Core” recommendations, based on early GOBattleLog data. Cores consist of two Pokémon, so think about what holes remain and throw in a third that you’re comfortable with and that covers the backsides of the other two.

And for today, we’re gonna close it out right here. I DID promise to try and keep it short, after all! 😉 In a very not-standard-JRE way, I hope this gives you a nice overview of the meta and what to try and run in it as it shifts and changes yet again here in its fourth — maybe fifth? I’ve lost count! — iteration.

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with regular GO 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! Hope this helps you out in Retro Cup, and best of luck, 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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