Analysis by Tangent444, Twastell, Nesabethan, NHoff, and PolymersUp


Graphic by Mikeiff


Article by PolymersUp and Twastell

— Introduction —


The team guide is back to hopefully help you identify important roles in the meta as you go about building your team. This guide is based on our understanding of the meta, iterations using PvPoke Team Builder and early usage data from Silph. Also if you love discussing Cup metas, come join in on the discussion or get team specific help at GO Stadium while forging new friendships with people as passionate about PvP as you. So let’s get to it!


— Team Guide —


Deep breath. Brawler Cup is an open whitelist meta that has a lot to digest, and this guide is essentially a team building template, also referred to as a roster archetype, to help you along the way. The graphic is a matrix of the six weight class slots required in the Brawler Cup and the meta roles that we expect the majority of well-balanced teams to fill. Pokémon with a gold star were Top 5 usage within their weight class according to Silph Cup usage data. Note that some Pokémon may only partially fulfill their role description (e.g. some Anti-Ground like Pelipper lose to Stunfisk).


Note: All subsequent usage order and rankings are from the time of writing.

By Role


Fighting and Ghost types are highly likely to show up on the majority of teams you face as Machamp (#1), Vigoroth (#2), Cofagrigus (#3) and Sableye (#4) top the early Silph usage chart, so you need to ensure that you have at least one Pokémon from the Anti-Fighter and Anti-Psychic/Ghost slots. The Vigoroth+Cofagrigus core is one that we identified and featured on our Meta Cores graphic back in September; however, this is the first meta where it truly rises to the forefront to hold the spotlight on center stage, as arguably the best core in the Brawler Cup. Entering the ring from the opposing side is Sableye. Along with its well established role as a premier safe switch in the Great League, Sableye is well positioned here as a top core breaker for the Vigoroth+Cofagrigus one-two punch. Note: Vigoroth is grouped with Fighting types here because it is a Counter user.


Ground types, headlined by Diggersby (#7) and Whiscash (#8), have an argument to be in the same conversation as Fighting and Ghost types with regard to meta relevance, but the overlapping niche with Fighting types as Anti-Tank and the lower usage suggests that teams are more likely to forgo a Ground type than Fighter here. Even so, Anti-Ground coverage appears to be a key role. Diggersby is one of the bulkiest options in the Top 20 and doesn’t do as bad as you might expect against Fighters, especially with shields down. The burly bunny also does better than Vigoroth against Ghosts giving the top sloth some worthy competition in the Welterweight slot.


Look at many of the top usage picks thus far and you can quickly identify how certain Grass types could fill an anti-meta role, namely Tropius (#16), Whimsicott (#19) and Venusaur (#21) with their resistance to Counter. Tropius’ bulk is hard to come by in the meta, and Venusaur’s Poison subtyping provides some noteworthy anti-Charm utility. Abomasnow (#25) is the exception being weak to Counter but able to cover other Grass types and Dragons as well. For this reason, Anti-Grass appears to be an important role on teams.


Flying types are understandably popular as they are able to fill multiple roles within the Brawler meta; they all function as anti-Fighting while some function as anti-Ground, anti-Grass, or even anti-Charm depending on their secondary typing. The most popular flying types are Mantine (#6), Talonflame (#10), Golbat (#14), Tropius (#16), and Pelipper (#23). Because of their high usage and varied coverage, it is important to be sure you bring an answer to Flying types and potentially consider additional coverage for the ones that might be problematic for your anti-Flier (e.g. Tropius if you pick Stunfisk).

Tanks may not be as common here as they are in open Great League with Lapras (#5), Steelix (#12), Melmetal (#18) and Probopass (#22) comprising the Top 4, Lapras being a borderline inclusion here as an anti-Flier. However, the Anti-Tanks, primarily Fighting and Ground types, are still an important part of Brawler team building as the Tanks can often overwhelm a team lacking a true counter with their combination of bulk and resistances. Anti-Tanks are also some of the top picks here due to their strength in neutral matchups.

Charm is always a threat in metas with high bulk meta Pokémon removed, especially if your team is solely relying on neutral matchups. For this reason, you will likely want at least one answer. The top Charmers are Wigglytuff (#11), Slurpuff (#15) and Whimsicott (#19) with Wigglytuff having higher appeal due to its Ghost resistance.


Dragons are often a threat in limited metas on the back of their useful resistances (Water, Fire, Grass and Electric) as well as their strong offensive typing, only resisted by Fairy (x2) and Steel. The most popular Dragons Dragalge (#9), Zweilous (#28) and Dragonite (#35) interestingly all take advantage of their secondary typing to pick up additional resistances. With Dragons seeing relatively low usage as compared to other groups, anti-Dragon coverage is a less critical role but is still nice to have in order to prevent Dragons from becoming too safe against your team with widely unresisted damage. 

Fire types double up as anti-Charm and anti-Grass options while some (e.g. Talonflame and Alolan Marowak) also provide anti-Fighting coverage due to their secondary typing. The most popular Fire types are Talonflame (#10), Kanto Ninetales (#24), and Alolan Marowak (#29). Because of their relatively low usage, the anti-Fire role is more of a nice to have than an essential one in the Brawler meta. Just beware of Talonflame as it has high sweep potential if left unchecked. 

By Weight Class


Previous whitelist slot metas have centered around Types such as Season 2 Continentals. Other types of classification such as Pokémon color used in Prismatic Cup unintentionally had certain slots skew heavily toward Pokémon Types as well (e.g. Water types tend to be blue, Fire types tend to be red), which had notable meta implications. In the Brawler Cup, however, the slots are quite diverse. You can find Counter-users, Water/Ground types, Steel types, Ghost types, Grass types, and many other common meta roles (such as Charmers) in multiple slots. A key implication of the format on the team building process, some cores will not be accessible simply because two Pokémon that would pair well together occupy the same weight class slot. For example, the  Vigoroth+Pelipper/Mantine core is a solid pairing all around that really had its Silph breakout during Sunrise Cup; however, Pelipper and Vigoroth are both Welterweights leaving Mantine as the only option here to pair with Vigoroth for that core.


So what are people running in each slot? Here are the top five Pokémon for each weight class by Silph Cup usage (highest to lowest):


Bantamweight    Greedent, Slurpuff, Rainy Castform, Whimsicott, Wormadam Trash


Featherweight    Sableye, Whiscash, Talonflame, Wigglytuff, Ninetales


Welterweight        Vigoroth, Diggersby, Pelipper, Alolan Marowak, Froslass


Middleweight        Cofagrigus, Dragalge, Golbat, Drapion, Zweilous


Cruiserweight    Machamp, Tropius, Venusaur, Abomasnow, Dewgong


Heavyweight        Lapras, Mantine, Steelix, Melmetal, Probopass


Note: Usage order and rankings are from the time of writing.


Bold Italics - Notably higher usage than the rest of the field

— Final Thoughts —


Brawler Cup brings back a unique team building style with whitelisted slots reminiscent of Season 2 Continentals and Prismatic Cup. As is the case with these formats, some Pokémon outcompete the rest of their slot by a wider margin, but overall the weight class slots seem to maintain a high level of diversity. Keep in mind, however, it’s still very early on, and we could see more than one shift as the meta settles. Best of luck in your tournaments!