The Halloween Cup Meta 2021

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The Halloween Cup runs in Pokemon GO from October 15th until the 31st. The Halloween Cup is a Great League format in GO Battle League that limits competing Pokemon to Dark, Poison, Ghost, Bug, and Fairy-types only. These type limitations make the Halloween Cup feel just like the Great League Remix Cup, just with Rainy Castform out and Alolan Ninetales in. Therefore, whatever you were using in the Remix Cup will probably work out here too. 

The guide below highlights some of the better picks and their nuance in the Halloween Cup.


Poison Jab + Poison Fang + Earth Power

  • Dominates in the Halloween Cup more than she does in the Remix Cup
  • Shadow Nidoqueen is preferred, but Normal Nidoqueen is great too
    • Shadow’s damage boost is great, but Normal’s greater bulk can throw off expectations
  • Stone Edge may be considered over Earth Power to give Golbat, Mandibuzz, and Froslass a big surprise

Wing Attack + Poison Fang + Shadow Ball

  • Solid lead, safe swap, and closer
  • Normal Golbat is preferred over Shadow Golbat 
    • Normal is tanky enough to take most charge moves to the face if needed where Shadow goes down too quickly
      • Normal can also reach Poison Fang and Shadow Ball when trapped by Smack Down Crustle
    • Shadow has the more aggressive damage which can be useful for chip damage in the late game
      • Shadow can also bait in Froslass and flip the matchup with a 1 move energy lead

Dragon Tail + Aqua Tail + Gunk Shot

  • Probably the best anti-poison Poison-type
  • Bullys everything but Fairy-types, and has Gunk Shot to keep them from getting too comfortable
  • Only Froslass, Alolan Ninetales, and Wormadam Trash are comfortable vs this thing
    • Makes Mud Slap Golurk and XL Grimer feel less viable as anti-Poison memes

Skuntank: Poison Jab + Crunch + Flamethrower

Alolan Muk: Poison Jab + Dark Pulse + Acid Spray

  • Snarl + Dark Pulse + Sludge Wave is also good

  • Similar to Nidoqueen but can handle Ghost-types better
  • Shadow Skuntank is preferred
  • May be more preferred as Safe Swaps to Qwilfish and Drapion because their Poison Jabs have more opportunities to dent things here than in Open Great League and Remix Cup

Counter + Mud Bomb + Sludge Bomb

  • Feels like a weaker side-grade to Escavalier
    • Better Mawile, Azumarill, Crustle, Drapion, and Counter matchups
    • Worse Alolan Ninetales, Charm, Nidoqueen, Mandibuzz, and Confusion matchups

Poison Jab + X-Scissor + Drill Run*

  • Golbat, Mandibuzz, and Froslass make Beedrill feel very unwelcome
  • Lack of options vs Ghost-types hurts Beedrill a lot too

Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant + Sludge Bomb

  • Generally not as good here as it is in the Open Great League but Frenzy Plant still crushes neutral targets
  • Golbat, Dragalge, and Mandibuzz are three big problems for it
    • Similar issue exists for Shadow Victreebel

Qwilfish: Poison Sting + Aqua Tail + Sludge Wave

Drapion: Poison Sting + Sludge Bomb + Aqua Tail/Crunch

  • Still decent safe swaps but the meta focus on Dark and Poison gives them less opportunities to be optimal
  • Still unpredictable enough and can still turn an inch into a mile against slower opponents

Poison Jab + Acid Spray + Hydro Pump

  • Was good last Halloween, before Jellicent and Dragalge existed and every single other Poison-type became meta
  • Not bad, but not exactly good


Air Slash + Foul Play + Aerial Ace

  • Generally the preferred Dark-type tank in the meta
  • Does a lot to keep Bug-types (Beedrill) and Fighting-types (Toxicroak/Scrafty) reigned in
  • May have to keep their team’s vulnerability to Crustle and Froslass in mind

Snarl + Any*

  • Foul Play+Last Resort* is the preference
  • Last Resort*+Psychic* only has Sableye and Forretress to worry about and no one is counter-swapping Sableye into an Umbreon
  • Can have trouble deciding on Charge Moves to fit the occasion where other Dark-types are more straightforward
    • To that end, it either works out really well or is countered hard
    • Still bulky and great for drawing in Dark-type counters or counter-swapping into Ghost or Dark-types

Shadow Claw + Foul Play + Return*/Power Gem

  • Return* is preferred but the Cup restrictions makes Power Gem Sableye feel less limited if you don’t have a Purified Sableye built
  • The meta focus on Dark-types makes Sableye feel less viable than other Dark-types, but Sableye can manage Poison-types better than the other Darks can

Obstagoon: Counter + Foul Play + Gunk Shot/Cross Chop

Scrafty: Counter + Foul Play + Power-Up Punch 

  • The anti-Dark Dark-type Pokemon
    • Obstagoon is the preference as it has better Mandibuzz, Ghost, and Fairy-type matchups 
    • Scrafty can be a stronger closer once Fairy-types are eliminated
  • Generally worse Crustle
  • Generally worse Dragalge


Powder Snow + Avalanche + Shadow Ball

  • Still a great Safe Swap even with Umbreon in the mix
  • Crunch may be considered over Shadow Ball to gain dominance in the mirror and to throw off opposing Ghost-types that know you don’t have the energy for Shadow Ball
    • This is spicy meme territory, Shadow Ball is almost always better

Fire Spin + Bone Club + Shadow Bone*/Shadow Ball

  • Reminding Ice-types, Steel-types, and Shadow Poisons why it’s banned in Remix Cups
  • The best source of Fire-type damage in the cup by far
    • The neutral Fire-type damage also gives it nice chip damage vs Darks 

Hex/Bubble + Bubble Beam + Shadow Ball/Ice Beam

  • Doesn’t look great on paper, but the mystery box element of Bubble Beam, Ice Beam, and Shadow Ball keeps it threatening and annoying to deal with

Hex + Icy Wind + Shadow Ball

  • Generally a weaker Froslass, but can handle Counter users, Fire Damage, and Steel/Bug-types better
    • Also has a really neat hat. Does Froslass have a neat hat? No. Didn’t think so. 


Bubble + Ice Beam + Play Rough/Hydro Pump

  • Ice Beam + Play Rough preferred
    • Hydro Pump is still good and nukes hard, but Play Rough can manage Dark-types, Dragalge, the mirror, A9, Froslass, and Jellicent better
  • Feels risky to whip out in this Poison heavy meta, but is the #1 Closer on PvPoke for a reason

Powder Snow + Weather Ball + Dazzling Gleam

  • Fairy is risky enough in this meta, Charm feels too risky
  • Dazzling Gleam > Psyshock for raw damage
  • Psyshock is better against Tentacruel and Qwilfish though
  • Fills a similar role to Froslass, but is different enough to throw off some expected counters
  • Generally too shield hungry to be worth it but can be useful in Fast Move focused team comps with either Fire Fang or Ice Fang


  • After the Season 8 Poison-type buffs, Charm has seen some better days


Smack Down + Rock Slide + X-Scissor

  • Easy wins if it can catch a Rock-type weak opponent in the lead, on the swap, or in the end game
  • Easily the “best” Bug-type in the meta
  • Lack of coverage can be problematic
    • It’s mostly an issue against Nidoqueen, and Nidoqueen is the meta

Volt Switch + Lunge + Discharge

  • Like Crustle, Galvantula is really deadly until it gets hung up on a heavy hitting resistor 
  • Has more utility than Crustle but arguably has more hang ups than Crustle

Bullet Punch + Night Slash + Iron Head/X-Scissor

  • IH vs X is heavy damage vs better Dark-type matchups
  • Can Fast Move down a lot of the meta
    • The Night Slash boost chance just makes it even more deadly
  • Its low bulk + how generally poor Bullet Punch is keeps Shadow Scizor feeling more on the spicy side than meta

Counter + Drill Run + Megahorn

  • Great Counter user for Air Slash Mandibuzz, Alolan Ninetales, Dragalge, and Venusaur
  • Doesn’t have Obstagoon’s anti-Ghost-type flair, speed, or boost potential 

Bug Bite + Mirror Shot + Earthquake

  • Gets into a lot of neutral vs neutral matchups that can tilt in its favor with a Mirror Shot debuff or landing the Earthquake
  • Generally does better cleaning up a weakened opponent so it has a better energy lead vs the next Pokemon in
  • Normal generally better than Shadow here

Confusion/Bug Bite + Iron Head + Bug Buzz

  • Confusion set manages Dragalge really well and doesn’t fear Gunk Shot like Fairy-types will
  • Confusion fails heavily if caught by a Dark-type
  • Bug Bite feels like a weaker Forretress, but at higher levels your opponents might swap into a Dark-type to counter “Confusion” too fast to notice and now they’re the fool
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