The Rose Cup Meta

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We’re past the halfway point already in this second season of competitive Pokémon GO play hosted by the Silph Arena, and it is time for the first color-themed metagame! All Pink, Red, Purple and Gray pokemon (according to the official Pokédex colors) can participate in the Rose Cup, excluding legendaries, mythicals, Water-types, and Bastiodon. 

If you want to quickly check the eligible pokemon in your inventory, here’s a string that you can paste into the in-game search filter:


Team Building

The Rose Cup meta is a complicated one and can’t be solved by a simple rock-paper-scissors formula, with so many different typings and roles in the mix and none really above the others or mandatory. Here are all the main groups, which will be analyzed throughout the article:

  • Steel-types, which can be replaced by Rock-types;

  • Fighting-types, which can be replaced by Ground-types;

  • Fire-types, which can be replaced by Flying-types;

  • Fairy-types.

  • Ghost-types.

The first 4 in particular seem to form the core of most teams, with Ghosts being very common additions. The supposed ‘replacements’ of Steel, Fighting and Fire are actually more often played alongside their more important counterparts. Doubling up on either Steel, Fighting, Fire or even Ghost is a very solid choice as well; double Fairy is not as good because the diversity within that group is much lower. If you want to deviate from the main path there are also many spice picks to pick from, though only a few of them are actually worth the risk.

Rose Cup Simplified Infographic

Rock and Steel

The roles within this group vary quite a lot. They mainly share a weakness to Fighting and the positive matchups against Flying-types. Steelix is the only one which doesn’t counter Fire as well, but it beats all of its competitors in return.

Dragon Tail or Thunder Fang + Crunch + Earthquake

Just like back in the Sinister Cup, the solid snake is the most dominant and versatile Steel tank. Earthquake beats other Steel, Poison and Rock, and retaliates well on its Fighting counters — almost one-shotting Machamp — while Crunch is a quicker utility move with key coverage. Dragon Tail is the more common fast move due to its energy generation, but it makes Steelix only a soft check to Fairies. It will at least gain shield advantage when going down, since it gets to a second Earthquake without having to block anything. The win condition is a Crunch bait, and even that’s not enough against an Attack-weighted Clefable. This is where the more damage-oriented Thunder Fang comes in: with it, a good IV Steelix beats Charm users with straight Earthquake, and more effectively farm them when they’re weakened. It also completely farms down Flying-types, including Charizard as long as it shields Blast Burn! On the other hand, Thunder Fang poses less of a threat to Alolan Marowak and loses the race to Earthquake in the mirror. Weirdly enough, that brings it a win in 1-1 shield scenario if both players make the same charged move decisions, thanks to the extra fast move damage. Swapping Crunch for Heavy Slam is another option to secure the Fairy matchup, but it still won’t guarantee a win in the 2-2 and it has generally less useful coverage otherwise.

Rock Throw or Spark + Rock Slide + Magnet Bomb

Everyone’s favorite bulky nose has the issue of getting walled to death by Steelix, the other main Steel-type, losing even at a 2-shield advantage! However, it’s arguably superior outside of that one matchup. For starters it’s a much harder wall to Fairy and it’s not weak to Fire, wrecking Charizard and having a pretty close matchup with Alolan Marowak. The 1-1 shield scenario comes down to IVs, but Probopass can also choose to go down after forcing a shield without having to use any, regardless of fast move. Rock Throw does pick up the 2-2 shield scenario and has an easier time with shields down, though. Spark, on the other hand, is much spammier and wins the mirror. As for the charged moves, with Water out of the picture there’s no real reason to run Thunderbolt. Compared to Steelix, Probopass handles Ghosts more consistently too, not being too bothered by a Shadow Ball from Haunter or Drifblim, and beating Sableye in the 0-0 and 2-2 shield scenarios without needing to bait like its competitor.

Once again, Magneton and Magnezone are viable but mostly inferior to Spark Probopass, losing to it and being way squishier with similar coverage. Double legacy Magneton does pick up two wins against Rhyperior and (if it shields the Earthquake) Fury Cutter Gliscor.

The same goes for Aggron and Lairon, which Rock Throw Probopass totally outclasses.

Smack Down + Surf + Superpower

With Water banned and uncommon Vileplume as the only real Grass, this meta looks made for Rhyperior, which is usually let down by those two huge double weaknesses. And that’s not all: its Surf is the most efficient Water coverage in the Cup, and goes almost completely unresisted. Smack Down doesn’t charge it very quickly but does tons of damage by itself, making Rhyperior a great counter to Fire and Flying. It can completely farm down Charizard and, with a shield and 103.8 Defense or more, even Alolan Marowak: Shadow Ball can hurt, but you’re gonna come out of that matchup with 2 Surfs ready! Compared to the other main Rock-type Probopass it picks up losses to Charm users (it needs to be couple of fast moves ahead to reach a second charged move and overcome them) and Drapion. If used as a counter switch Rhyperior can also have some trouble against Skarmory, Haunter and Drifblim in the 1-1 shield scenario, and it always goes down to a Sableye with energy advantage; without it, it can spend both shields and force just one to take it down. Rhyperior has a few key perks of its own, though: it destroys Probopass itself with Superpower without needing to bait, except against the Rock Throw variant in the 1-1, and it handily beats Gliscor as soon it shields one Earthquake. Superpower also hurts Steelix, though it’s usually not enough to take it down.

Rock Throw + Rock Slide or Ancient Power + Earth Power

This squishy prehistoric bird has never been this interesting. Despite the Flying typing it still loses hard to Fighting-types, only beating Machamp by shielding and praying that the Earth Power lands. The exact same goes for the matchups against Probopass and Rhyperior, while Steelix is not even worried about that. Where it loses against Steel compared to Rhyperior, it gains over Gliscor: resisting every move but Night Slash, it wins every shield scenario as long as it meets a bulkpoint at around 96 Defense. It still farms down Fire-types just as well, though Alolan Marowak’s Shadow Ball is a major threat which can be reached with an energy advantage and a bait in the 1-1 shield scenario. Due to its low bulk it can only beat Sableye in the 2-2, and gets chunked down pretty badly by Charm users. Rock Slide and Ancient Power perform almost identically.

If you want to beat Charm users with your Rock-type but for some reason don’t like Probopass, Magcargo is your snail! In spite of its double Ground weakness, it can still barely tank Bone Club twice to farm down Alolan Marowak. On the other hand, it only beats Gliscor with shield advantage or if it manages to block Earthquake twice. It threatens almost everything with Overheat, but it’s a bit too slow to do that consistently. Steelix can very impressively survive one.

Volt Switch + Stone Edge + Rock Blast

Rouding out this Rock-type rundown, both Golem and Graveler recently benefited from the huge buff to Volt Switch, now a slower Shadow Claw clone! Graveler’s slightly higher bulk makes it the preferred pick, since Golem’s access to Wild Charge isn’t as important in this meta. It does have some impressive matchups, taking down Fairies and Sableye in the 0-0 and (with a bait) 1-1 shield scenarios, as well as the 2-2 with straight Rock Blast against the latter. It does struggle against Gliscor, only really beating the Wing Attack variant in the 2-2 if it shields one Earthquake. However, the main issue is that it doesn’t really stand out from Spark Probopass outside of the slightly improved Alolan Marowak matchup, which it can win without needing to bait in all even shield scenarios even if the opponent has a couple of extra fast moves. It still can’t tank more than one Bone Club due to the double Ground weakness, though.

Fighting and Ground

Their main job is, of course, countering Steel and Rock. Fighting is countered by many things in this meta, but it’s still a staple because nothing does said job quite as consistently.

Counter + Cross Chop + Rock Slide

An all-time staple in raids, Machamp finally gets to shine in a Cup as its amazing, no longer legacy movepool makes up for the lack of bulk. Dragon Claw-esque Cross Chop is a perfect fit for such a glass cannon, and for those who prefer riskier plays there’s a higher difficulty way to go. Close Combat lowers Machamp’s already flimsy Defense stat by 2 stages at each use, making the Steelix matchup a bit trickier as it can’t afford to farm down completely unless it shields the Earthquake, so it will often come out weakened and drained of energy. However, Close Combat’s sheer power can get it out of dire situations, one-shotting even an unsuspecting Wigglytuff! Either way, you’ll want to have Rock Slide too, which gives trouble to most of its supposed counters. With straight Rock Slide you get impressive wins over Alolan Marowak, Charizard and Fury Cutter Gliscor as long as you don’t get baited, as well as narrow, IV-dependent ones against Sableye and Skarmory in the 1-1 shield scenario. Machamp needs 96.8 Defense against the former, and 137.7 Attack against the latter. Rock Slide is almost a OHKO on Golbat, Drifblim and Haunter too.

Counter + Ice Punch + Dynamic Punch or Power-Up Punch or Psychic

Given its reputation, the higher tankiness, and the fact that it’s a hard wall to Machamp you’d think that Medicham would be the Fighter of choice here. The issue is that, unlike Machamp, it doesn’t stand a chance against the many Ghosts that populate this meta. Ice Punch is a much weaker coverage move compared to Rock Slide, but it’s still necessary to threaten Gliscor. In fact Medicham beats Gliscor when it doesn’t get baited, outside of the 2-2 shield scenario against the Wing Attack variant, whereas against Fury Cutter it can even tank an Earthquake to force a shield with the second Ice Punch. In regard to the second move, Dynamic Punch can sometimes flip the Skarmory matchup, while the classic Power-Up Punch brings less shield pressure but does just as fine against Steel tanks and can make Medicham quite dangerous when it comes out of those matchups with a couple of Attack buffs. Psychic gives it an actual hit on Alolan Marowak, but makes the Steelix matchup very close if the Earthquake lands. Any of these is viable.

Counter + Foul Play + Power-Up Punch

Currently only available as a reward from GO Battle League, you’ll need a bit of luck with IVs and a bunch of rare candy to prep it. If you’re willing to spend them, here’s what you need to know: as a unique Fighting/Dark-type, Scrafty is basically the opposite of Medicham in this meta, while performing just as well against Steel and Rock. It loses hard to other Fighters and even harder to Charm users (much like a mudboy against Razor Leaf, to give you an idea) but it also resists Ghost! Sableye gets completely walled by it and can’t win even with a 2 shield advantage. Alolan Marowak and Haunter only beat it by using both shields, while only forcing one. To be fair the 1-1 shield scenario against Marowak is close, and can be flipped by an opponent with energy or HP advantage. Another close one is Gliscor: the Fury Cutter variant loses if Scrafty gets a bulkpoint at around 153.4 Defense, while a breakpoint at 113.2 Attack is relevant against the Wing Attack one as it can flip the normally negative 1-1 and 2-2 shield scenarios, as long as one Earthquake gets blocked. Given the limited access to Scraggy, if yours meets one of these two conditions consider yourself lucky already!

Counter + Blast Burn* + Blaze Kick

The fire chicken does have a few issues. It’s extremely fragile, loses to Machamp and Medicham, and gets walled by Alolan Marowak. On the flipside, that’s pretty much the only pokemon that walls it! Blast Burn hits everything incredibly hard, so much so that Blaziken can remarkably beat anything with a 1-0 shield advantage — even Charm users, as the Fire typing takes away the weakness to Fairy, though they’ll still win easily if they shield once. Compared to Machamp, Blaziken also picks up a niche win against Nidoking and with top notch IVs or a little energy advantage it can get to a second Blaze Kick to take down Skarmory too. It’s a less consistent Fighting-type, but it can be quite rewarding!

If you seek the spice, you can use a Counter user that’s not a Fighting-type, but a Bug/Steel instead, which means its only weakness is a double one to Fire. We’re talking about Escavalier, which still does the Fighting job against Steel-types — although it will have to use both shields against a Steelix with energy advantage if the first one gets baited with Crunch. Drill Run solidifies that matchup and it’s a nice parting gift for Alolan Marowak; the recently buffed Megahorn has superior stats, but terrible coverage in this meta. Escavalier’s own Steel typing comes in handy against the Fairies which terrorize other Fighters: it can reliably reach a second charged move to take down Wigglytuff and leave Clefable with minimal HP. However, Escavalier loses hard to everything Ghost and Flying as well as other Fighters, though Aerial Ace can sometimes take down a Machamp.

The other unconventional Counter user in the meta, Donphan, doesn’t have such an interesting typing and still loses to everything that normally counters Fighters, getting especially walled by Flying-types. It only really becomes interesting with shields down, the only scenario where it can actually beat Wigglytuff with Heavy Slam, as well as Medicham, Machamp, Sableye and (with a little energy lead) Alolan Marowak thanks to Earthquake.

Fury Cutter or Wing Attack + Earthquake + Night Slash

The surprisingly tanky scorpion and a real wild card rather than a true Ground-type. It can beat almost anything given the right scenario (which often involves baiting), and at the same time it doesn’t truly counter anything. Due to the Flying subtyping it’s only weak to Water and (doubly) to Ice, both quite rare in this meta, but it still gets walled hard by Skarmory, and to a lesser degree by Charizard, Golbat and Aerodactyl. It has two fast move options with high energy generation in Fury Cutter and Wing Attack, Night Slash as a great bait move (a Dragon Claw clone with an extra 12.5% chance to boost the Attack stat by 2 stages) and a Ground-type nuke in Earthquake.

With so many variables to consider in its matchups, let’s start from the Fury Cutter variant. It is the most consistent one against Steel-types, only needing a bait to win the 2-2 against Probopass and Dragon Tail Steelix. However, a bait is always needed to take down Fighting-types. Aerial Ace makes those matchups a bit more consistent but doesn’t fix them, as in the 1-1 shield scenario Gliscor faints right before landing the final blow. The Alolan Marowak matchup is generally bait dependent, in Gliscor’s favor if both players play it out in the same way, and in the 2-2 where it can go straight for Night Slash. That also takes down Sableye in the 1-1 if Gliscor hits a bulkpoint at 145.2 Defense. Haunter and Charm users are really tough to take down.

Wing Attack trades a bit of speed for much better coverage, transforming Gliscor into more of a versatile check to Fighting than a secondary anti-Steel. It barely can’t reach a second Earthquake against Probopass, but only needs Night Slash to actually counter Machamp reliably and check Medicham — with more than 139.7 Defense and 116 HP it wins the 1-1 and 2-2. Night Slash is also enough to pick up wins against Alolan Marowak (if it doesn’t get baited), Charizard (in the 2-2 only) and Haunter (outside of the 2-2). With a bait or some extra energy it can actually take down Fairies too, and it will win the mirror even at a shield disadvantage!

Lastly, what does Gligar have over Gliscor? Well, despite having most of the same moves and higher bulk, not much. It does beat Gliscor itself and it picks up the 2-2 with straight Night Slash over Sableye and Medicham, regardless of fast move, but it keeps most of the same issues and Dig just doesn’t cut it against Steelix, Machamp and Fairy-types.

Fury Cutter* + Earth Power + Earthquake or Sludge Wave

Just like Gliscor, it’s a Ground-type with Fury Cutter that resists Fighting; however, it forgoes the baiting move to double down on the nukes. Sludge Wave is really just a safer OHKO on Fairies, whereas Earthquake is needed to beat Steelix and it’s the generally preferred option. Steelix, just like Medicham and Machamp, still handily wins the 2-2 shield scenario: Nidoking is quite squishy and not very fast, and prefers to be played a bit later in the match. It also gets walled by Gliscor, and by the things that wall Gliscor, and it loses to Sableye. It does beat Probopass more reliably at least, as well as Fairy-types (again, outside of the 2-2) thanks to its resistance.

Mud Slap + Surf + Stone Edge

A single pokemon featured twice, in two different sections? Well, this is a first! Mud Slap transforms Rhyperior into a hard counter to Steel and Rock, acting as the most direct, and maybe the only true replacement to Fighters. Superpower becomes a bit redundant here, while Stone Edge is needed to have a chance against Skarmory in the 1-1; the 2-2 is still a narrow win with straight Surf. Mud Slap Rhyperior gives up the already precarious matchups with Gliscor and Sableye, but it still farms down Alolan Marowak (a little less easily) but not Charizard, which has a chance to beat it if it’s willing to shield twice.

You can also use the better looking Rhydon, but since it has a single viable moveset with Surf and Stone Edge, it loses all of Rhyperior’s surprise factor and it won’t have the threat of Superpower to possibly force shields. The two are pretty much identical in terms of stats.

Fire and Flying

With Water-types banned, Fire goes almost completely unresisted in this Cup and has few true counters. The two main ones counter both Fighting and Fairy, and this is what equates them with Flying-types such as Skarmory and Golbat.

Fire Spin + Shadow Ball + Bone Club

A-Wak has been eligible in 4 out of 5 Cups so far this season, and it continues to impress. Thanks to the Ghost/Fire typing it completely walls Medicham, but it can struggle against Machamp’s Rock Slide especially when Shadow Ball gets blocked. To beat it comfortably the best way is spending both shields and going straight for Bone Club. Said move also lets it go toe to toe with Probopass, winning the 1-1 shield scenario as well as the 2-2 against the Spark variant only. The Steelix matchup is positive but not safe, especially against the Dragon Tail variant which can reach Earthquake in the 1-1 shield scenario with a bait or an energy advantage. Marowak’s strength lies in its versatility, with even matchups against almost anything. It only gets soft countered by Sableye (only overcoming it with a couple of extra fast moves and a bait), Rhyperior, Haunter and Bite Drapion (which it can still hit super effectively with Bone Club).

Fire Spin + Blast Burn* + Dragon Claw

Competing with Alolan Marowak once again for the Fire spotlight, Charizard has the drawback of getting deleted by Probopass, but it also threatens everything with its powerful Blast Burn, which can beat the whole meta except Rock-types with a 1-0 shield advantages. It counters Dragon Tail Steelix a bit more reliably, but a Thunder Fang variant can kill it before it gets to a second Blast Burn. It also can’t handle a Machamp with energy advantage, even losing the 2-2 shield scenario to straight Cross Chop; Medicham can beat it too if it shields twice, at least once on a Blast Burn. Air Slash improves those matchups and the negative Fire mirror against Marowak, but complicates the Steelix matchup. Charizard’s main perks are the resistance to Ground which gives it a solid win over Gliscor (it only loses to Wing Attack if it shields twice, gaining shield advantage in the process), and the lack of weakness to Sableye, which it can beat in the 2-2 with straight Dragon Claw.

Air Slash + Sky Attack + Flash Cannon

The usually top-tier Steel bird is a softer counter to Fighters, much like Charizard, as they hit it for consistent neutral damage. Machamp takes the 1-1 shield scenario if it meets a breakpoint, and Medicham can win if it lands a Dynamic Punch, though it will often need to give up shield advantage to achieve that. To make that matchup a bit more safe, if you don’t have a good Skarmory built yet, try to get one with 167.7 Defense or higher. Its main issue is that it’s weak to its Fire competitors, which also handle Steelix. It does perform better than them against Gliscor, Bite Drapion and Sableye. It is the hardest wall in the meta to the former, and only narrowly loses to the latter in the 0-0 and 2-2 shield scenarios.

Wing Attack + Shadow Ball + Poison Fang

Golbat is in many ways similar to Skarmory, just with extra losses against Skarmory itself, Drapion and the less common Confusion users, as well as tougher Haunter and Sableye matchups, only beating the latter in the 1-1 shield scenario with a successful shield bait. It’s also a bit softer into Gliscor, losing if Shadow Ball gets shielded twice, and Fairy-types, which will often force a shield with their super effective coverage. On the other hand, the bat has more reliable wins over the Fighters and isn’t weak to Fire, though it can still lose to Marowak if it gets baited, and to Charizard which slightly outspeeds it. It’s able to take down Medicham and Machamp with straight Shadow Ball and straight Poison Fang respectively, and hitting a bulkpoint at 116 Defense helps it tank a Rock Slide to lock down the Machamp win.

Finally freed from legacy chains, Poison Fang Venomoth exists too in this meta as an alternative to Golbat which farms Haunter with Confusion. However, it can’t handle Gliscor, Alolan Marowak and Drifblim, and it will often have to spend both shields against Machamp as Rock Slide one-shots it.

Even without the Flying typing, Muk is comparable to Golbat too. It picks up losses to Alolan Marowak and Gliscor, and struggles even more with Sableye and Haunter, but it does have a positive Charizard matchup. Poison Jab, Thunder Punch and Dark Pulse is its preferred set.


Having a Charm user in your lineup is needed to hard counter Sableye and Fighting. They only get truly walled by Steel-, Fire- and Poison-types.

Charm + Ice Beam + Play Rough

Charm + Meteor Mash + Psychic

The matchups of these Fairy tanks are similar and, for the most part, quite straightforward. They beat Fury Cutter Gliscor, while the Wing Attack variant can win the 1-1 shield scenario with a bait. Among their supposed counters they outbulk some of the squishier ones like Charizard and Haunter if they spend both shields (though they’ll only force one) and they harass Dragon Tail Steelix. If Clefable meets a breakpoint at 122 Attack it can actually take it down quite reliably. As a part Normal-type, Wiggly doesn’t resist Fighting but has a handy double resistance to Ghost. That makes the matchups against Drifblim and Shadow Ball Haunter very one-sided and the Alolan Marowak one more playable, as the opponent has to chip away with Bone Club and comes out with single digit HP if neither player wants to waste a shield. The Fairy mirror is very even between these two, and it’s usually (ironically) won by the player who doesn’t throw the charged move. Clefable does get to Meteor Mash a little earlier, if it wants to force the shield.

Charm + Close Combat + Crunch

The angriest Fairy is the other viable Charm user. Like Togekiss in the Fusion Cup it has way less bulk compared to the two above, losing to them with shields up, but has better counter coverage for Steel-types and Alolan Marowak thanks to Close Combat and Crunch. When one of those gets switched in on Granbull you’ll come out with either shield or switch advantage, as it can tank an Earthquake or Magnet Bomb from the Steels, and with a couple of fast moves of energy advantage it outspeeds Marowak’s Shadow Ball. Granbull is not as reliable against Gliscor and Drifblim as Wigglytuff or Clefable, losing the 1-1 shield scenario if it gets baited as it can’t survive their nukes. 

However, it does have a unique and very different niche thanks to access to the energy oriented Snarl. With it, Granbull can’t even be classified as an anti-Fighter even if it runs Play Rough, as the best it can do against Machamp is usually a double Close Combat to hit it hard before going down to Rock Slide. It loses to a Sableye with shields too. Its sole purpose becomes trolling Steel and A-Wak to the fullest, as it needs just a little energy advantage to beat all of them (including Skarmory) with Close Combat and Crunch spam.


Ghost is another type that gets resisted by almost nothing in this meta, with the main exceptions being Wigglytuff, Scrafty and Drapion, and much like Fire-types, they are great generalists that prey on Fighting to some degree.

Shadow Claw + Foul Play + Power Gem or Shadow Sneak or Return

Finally not banned after a whole year, here the little spam demon gets destroyed very hard by one single group, Fairies; in fact, 6 hits from Charm are enough to delete it. Bite Drapion also has a pretty easy farm session against it, but Sableye is still powerful as it has win conditions against anything else — and with a shield advantage it actually beats everything else. For starters, thanks to the Dark subtyping it counters every other Ghost, including almighty Alolan Marowak. The 1-1 shield scenario is the only one where it goes down to Skarmory, but also the only one where it beats Charizard and Rhyperior. Gliscor needs really good IVs to win the 1-1 with straight Night Slash, or with a bait if it’s running Fury Cutter. Similarly to Marowak, it can struggle against Probopass, Steelix and especially Machamp. The latter actually takes the 0-0 and 1-1, as it resists Foul Play and hits back heavily with Rock Slide; Shadow Sneak can prevent it from getting to a second one, but it’s generally useless outside of this niche, while Power Gem gives coverage on Fairies, Darks and Golbat. If you have a purified hundo Sableye with Return, that’s an interesting picks as it can surprise Fairies and Darks with how hard it hits.

Hex + Shadow Ball + Icy Wind

From the last time we used it back in the Sinister Cup, the bulky balloon enjoyed a buff to Icy Wind, its previously worst charged move, which now decreases the opponent’s Attack stat by 1 stage at each use and opens up for some very interesting plays. In this meta it also helps it stand out from Sableye as a rare hard counter to Gliscor. Both of them lose to Charm, though Drifblim can actually hurt Clefable a lot with Shadow Ball. It also has a more manageable Machamp matchup, where the best course of action is shielding first and going for Icy Wind. If it gets blocked, you can follow it up with Shadow Ball and win both the 1-1 and 2-2; if it goes through, you might have to give up shield advantage and fire a charged move on the next pokemon against a Machamp with really high IVs or an energy advantage. On the other hand, unlike Sableye, it loses to Steel tanks and Haunter, and has a bait-dependent matchup with Alolan Marowak instead of a positive one.

Shadow Claw + Shadow Punch + Shadow Ball or Sludge Bomb

With Confusion users being uncommon, Sableye and Bite Drapion are the only things that delete Haunter in this meta. Rock Throw Probopass handles it well too, whereas the Spark variant, Steelix and Skarmory can all go down if the Shadow Ball lands, which generally requires a bait in the 1-1 shield scenario. However, the former legacy set gets walled by Wigglytuff, rendering its peculiar resistance to Charm worthless. That’s the main argument for running Sludge Bomb, which a high IV one (85 Defense or higher is advised) can even get to twice before it has to spend a shield! At any rate, Shadow Punch is enough to destroy Fighters and handle Fire-types, as well as Drifblim, Golbat and (in the 2-2 only) Gliscor.

Spice Picks

These pokemon don’t fit any of the sections above, but they’re still worth considering, especially the first few in this list. They have unique roles that might be just what you’re looking for to fill that 6th slot in your lineup.

Bite + Aqua Tail + Fell Stinger or Sludge Bomb

Ice Fang + Aqua Tail + Fell Stinger or Crunch or Sludge Bomb

Dark/Poison-types are always very flexible picks, and Drapion in this meta is a perfect example. With Bite, it’s the hardest Ghost counter in the meta. It’s able to completely farm down both Alolan Marowak and Sableye, filling the role of both Sableye itself and Fairies (their usual hard counters) at the same time. If you want it to replace them, however, try to compensate for Bite Drapion’s vulnerability to Fighting- and Fairy-types and complete inability to force shields with the other members of your lineup. It also gets outbulked by Steel tanks and Skarmory, as Aqua Tail hits too slowly and not hard enough. Fell Stinger is a Bug-type clone of Power-Up Punch, useful to ramp up Bite’s damage even more: that’s key to take down Charizard right before it can get to a Blast Burn in the 1-1 shield scenario, and Fury Cutter Gliscor right before the second Earthquake. If you want to make the most out of Drapion’s Ghost farming sessions, go for Sludge Bomb instead to possibly get a surprise nuke on the Fairies and Fighters that might come in to finish it off.

Ice Fang is an interesting and more off-meta alternative, trading a bit of damage output for higher (though still not very high) energy generation. It transforms Drapion into a hard counter to Gliscor and other Ground-types, apart from Steelix which it only beats in the 2-2 shield scenario. Thanks to its resistances it still farms down most Ghosts, except Alolan Marowak, which it only beats if it lands a surprise Crunch. To take Charizard it needs to block the Blast Burn, and it still goes down to Fighting and Fairy though it can actually hurt them.

Skuntank is not nearly as consistent as a Ghost check: A-Wak only needs 1 fast move of energy advantage to overcome it. Poison Jab does give it a niche over Drapion against Fairies, though it needs around 88 Defense or more to reach 2 Crunch against them, and it will go down if they shield both. Skuntank goes down to most things in the 2-2 actually, and almost always goes down to Gliscor. Flamethrower brings counter coverage for Steelix and Skarmory but it’s not enough to beat them. In this meta it’s far from the usual versatile all-rounder.

Lick + Shadow Ball + Earthquake

With a full Ghost moveset and a double resistance to Ghost, this licky boy looks made to be a Ghost buster, much like Bite Drapion. It can farm down Alolan Marowak, Drifblim and Haunter completely, only needing to invest a shield against the former. Sableye is trickier and outspeeds it so badly that it can win by shielding twice, though it will only force one shield in return. Lickilicky is tanky but quite slow, in fact, and prefers to play in the late game where even its natural Fighting counters (except Scrafty) have to fear the Shadow Ball. In the 0-0 and 1-1 shield scenarios it also takes down Steel tanks thanks to Earthquake, which is something that Drapion can’t do, and it has more play against Clefable. However, it gives up the Charizard and Rhyperior matchups compared to Drapion. Gliscor beats it with shields down but has a very close 1-1, as Lickilicky barely outpaces the second Earthquake coming from the Wing Attack variant, and it can barely survive it with good IVs against the Fury Cutter one.

Purugly has the same typing and significantly less bulk, but a better Ghost fast move in Shadow Claw which makes for a speedier moveset when paired with Aerial Ace and Thunder. It can even get a surprising, narrow win over Medicham in the 1-1, whereas Machamp is a bit too aggressive for that. While it still handles Ghosts well, though, it lacks Licky’s coverage on Steel and Drapion.

Ice Shard + Avalanche + Shadow Ball

Glalie is the only Ice-type in this Cup, its main role is of course hard countering Gliscor. Because of that and the losses to Fire and Rock it can be compared to Skarmory, just with an extra weakness to Fighting and lacking the resistance to Fairy. Its powerful charged moves still threaten most of its counters (including Fire-types, Fighters, and Rhyperior), and with at least 120.1 Defense it’s still bulky enough to reach a second Avalanche and take down the Charm users. Glalie has a better Steelix matchup than Skarmory, winning the 0-0 and 2-2 shield scenarios, and flipping the 1-1 with a small energy advantage as well. It holds its own just as well against Drapion and Ghosts, destroying Drifblim, beating Sableye unless the opponent spends 2 shields (while Glalie needs to use just 1), and only really losing to Haunter which can get to its nuke twice against it.

Volt Switch + Foul Play + Thunderbolt

This ball of a pokemon is another one that benefits from the Volt Switch buff, preying and farming on anything with a Flying typing, and it stands out from the other Electric attackers for not having a Fighting-weak secondary typing. It still generally loses to Medicham and Machamp, but with a small energy advantage it can flip the 2-2 shield scenario against the former and the 1-1 against the latter thanks to how hard it hits, with Thunderbolt especially. Electrode actually performs very well with some farmed energy: just one extra Volt Switch allows it to reach a second Foul Play against Alolan Marowak (which it already beats quite reliably in the 2-2), take down Fury Cutter Gliscor before it gets to a second Earthquake (which it already normally does against the Wing Attack variant), gain a solid win over Sableye (which it already one-shots with shields down) and another one over Clefable in the 1-1. It already gives trouble to Spark Probopass with shields up, and with 2 extra fast moves it can actually beat it consistently. Steelix and Rhyperior (and the much less common Vileplume) are the main things keeping it from being a terrific safe switch.

Razor Leaf + Sludge Bomb + Petal Blizzard

This oddball is, ironically, the only Razor Leafer eligible in the Rose Cup (yes, there’s no Roselia). Thanks to the Poison subtyping and the strong neutral damage of its fast move, it can farm down Fighters, Fairies, Steelix and Sableye with a shield, though the latter can reach a second Foul Play with a little energy advantage. Probopass and Wing Attack Gliscor barely escape alive. The Fury Cutter variant needs to land the bait to win. The big drawback is that Vileplume gets walled extremely hard by Fire and Flying. If you’re on a budget, running only Sludge Bomb should be fine; Petal Blizzard’s use is extremely situational anyway.

Bullet Seed + Power Whip + Mirror Shot or Thunder

The second tankiest Grass-type after Tropius is hindered by an awkward moveset, and the usually handy Steel subtyping is more of a curse than a blessing here with Fire-types being so relevant and common. It does grant solid wins over Fairies, but at the same time Ferrothorn gets shut down hard by Fighters, Skarmory, Golbat, Drifblim and Haunter as well. It could run Thunder to surprise some of those, giving up of Mirror Shot’s bait potential which allows it to sometimes beat Sableye. Power Whip is key as it gives consistent wins over the Steel tanks and Rhyperior and hits Gliscor for neutral damage, overcoming the Fury Cutter variant if one Earthquake gets blocked. Ferrothorn is a very polarized pokemon overall, which will often have to play around its weak matchups.

Confusion + Iron Head + Bug Buzz

Just like Ferrothorn, the pink Worm benefits from a resistance to Fairy but suffers from a horrible double weakness to Fire in return. Its moveset gets walled by all Steel-types and Sableye, but as Confusion user it does have its niche in this meta. Most importantly, it farms down the likes of Machamp, Haunter and Golbat, although it will have to invest a shield against all of them. It can sometimes give Medicham a bit of trouble as well, and beat Drifblim if it blocks a Shadow Ball, while Rhyperior proves a bit too tough unless somehow it has to take a Iron Head. Little Wormadam is also bulky enough to tank an Earthquake from Gliscor, taking down the Fury Cutter variant quite consistently.

Confusion + Rock Slide + Psychic

Another interesting Confusion user which gets STAB on it as well. Because of that it doesn’t really perform like other Rock-types, giving Medicham a run for its money and farming down Machamp (as well as Haunter, of course) with a shield. It still beats Charizard convincingly, but it has close matchups which mainly depend on reading shield baits against Marowak and other Flying-types such as Skarmory and Drifblim. It needs really good IVs (111 Defense) to reach a clutch second Rock Slide against Charm users, and of course it gets hard countered by Steel tanks and Sableye. Solrock does take down both Gliscor variants in the 1-1 shield scenario, barely outpacing them to the Earthquake, but the matchup can be easily flipped when energy advantages come into play.

One last word....

And lastly, no, please don’t use Blissey and Chansey unless you really, really hate your opponents and that’s the only thing you want to express in your play. GamePress is not liable for any consequences as a result of stall tactics during your tournament.

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About the Author(s)

Writer and graphic designer for GamePress, from Sicily (Italy). Illustrator since childhood.