Corebreakers - Labyrinth Cup
Hey readers; it's me NHoff now doing Corebreakers on GOStadium!
I'm excited to be sharing 10 pairs to meander through the Labyrinth with.
So an intro of Corebreakers:
Corebreakers is a graphic series I started during Voyager Cup on the Girls That PVP Discord, which I have done teambuilding advice on for quite a while. From there I've started tweeting them and sharing on Reddit in the last cup of season 2! Now GO Stadium has offered to host the series going forward, and I’m very happy to collaborate with them!
What is this graphic series about?
It looks at powerful duo 'cores' in the meta of the month and how they cover one another. What has the fewest overlapping weaknesses, and what ARE those weaknesses?
My classic example is from Forest Cup. I noticed Blaziken and Ferrothorn on a LOT of teams and wanted to grab something that beat both. Mantine actually didn't - Ferro could win that matchup if it didn't shield the first Charged Move.
I ended up finding Vespiquen with Air Slash as a corebreaker to the 2 and it served me VERY well that month. In fact, battlers were occasionally bringing Blaziken in against the Vespiquen as a counter, only to very quickly be farmed down by Air Slash.
I've additionally made a key for the series since there was some confusion on how exactly to read it in the past. But you can also always comment or message me any questions!
A note I like to reiterate as well is that these are always simmed in the even 1-shield scenario with baiting enabled on both sides. They are also simmed with the 'corebreakers' at default IVs because I don't like to recommend breakers that need a specific spread; the 'cores' are tested at 4 different IV spreads - default, Max ATK, Max DEF, and Max Stat Product - to ensure that the breakers do cover all situations.
So let’s look at Labyrinth
Labyrinth is interesting for two reasons, both related to its depth.
First is that it greatly resembles an open format. Therefore it has a LOT of breakers for any given core - a larger pool makes for more random things like Haxorus or Shadow Metang to show up.
The second thing is that due to the rules of Labyrinth, building around multiple cores becomes more inherent to teambuilding. You want to make full use of the typings offered, so might as well make them synergize as best as possible.
So what’s planned for Labyrinth? Let’s take a look:
Skamory + Whiscash
Here we see an old classic open-format pairing of Skarmory with a Water/Ground-type Pokémon. If you read my Sunrise write-up you saw it featured as a core there as well. Skarmory covers the Grass weakness that this dual typing has, and the Water/Ground type tends to cover Steel, Fire, Electric, and Rock-types that would otherwise give Skarmory trouble. Some select Pokémon sneak through, however, making up the bulk of this graphic. The major things of note here that I would consider for Labyrinth would be Galvantula, Rainy form Castform, Dewgong, and Obstagoon. All 4 seem to be potential common picks in Labyrinth, but this core’s ability to cover the rest of the meta between the two of them makes this a great start to a team - especially if you can pick up some of those other matchups by having a Shadow Skarmory.
Quagsire pairs with Skarmory in much a similar way to Whiscash, although with a significantly larger number of breakers. Quagsire does handily beat Galvantula which may give it an edge over Whiscash in your decision making, but it struggles more with Fighting-types due to its slower neutral move options. Both are great pairs with Skarmory - as is Politoed, despite not having the important Electric resistance that the Water/Ground options bring to the core.
Skarmory + Vigoroth
Oh great, more Skarmory!
This is another “repeat” core from Sunrise.
While different from the Water/Ground-types, Vigoroth makes for a very nice pair with Skarmory as well. Covering Rock-types and Steel-types with Counter damage and tending to just power-down the generally frail Electric and Fire-types, Vigoroth tends to set up Skarmory well. And just the same, Skarmory sets Vigoroth up - taking down most of the Fighting-types that would give it trouble.
Here the biggest threats that are seen are Alolan Marowak, Galvantula again, and Alolan Ninetales - should you opt for Shadow Skarmory. Here that option is less clear-cut than with Whiscash, and the tradeoffs are up to the player. Regardless of if your Skarmory is shadow or not, Skarmory, Vigoroth, and Whiscash (or Quagsire or Politoed) make for a great half-of-a-team that comprise of two powerful cores, so long as the rest of your team covers Galvantula well.
Skarmory and Zweilous, while not featured, are another powerful duo that were considered as a core. Being notably weaker to Steel-types, Skarmory does cover Zweilous’ weakness to Fighting and Fairy quite well while Zweilous covers the Fire, Electric, and Rock weaknesses quite well on its resistances and damage output.
Drifblim + Vigoroth
Mortal enemies, paired together!
If you’ve had your Vigoroth paired against a Drifblim then I’m deeply sorry for you. But surprisingly, these two cover each other quite well, for similar reasons to Vigoroth + Skarmory. Vigoroth additionally helps here with the Dark-types and Ghost-types that would otherwise give Drifblim trouble, and Drifblim does an even better job at holding off Fighting-types than Skarmory does (despite having no Flying-type move).
It is worth noting that Drifblim is a bit more bait-reliant than some of the other Pokémon in Labyrinth, but can be quite powerful if you’re able to play to that well.
And it works well with its exceedingly consistent frenemy in Vigoroth, throwing arms and slamming bodies nonstop to take down an excessive amount of the Labyrinth meta.
Additionally this is now two cores in a row with Shadow Mewtwo as a breaker. I’m not saying it’s good (because it isn’t) but it’s pretty cool and a lot of the monotype Psychic-types in this format are banned.
Also Prinplup <3
Galvantula + Whiscash
So here we see another anti-grass pairing with Whiscash, and the two work quite well together in Labyrinth. Whiscash being hard anti-fire pressure while covering Rock and Steel is nice for Galvantula, which can cover a good bunch of grassy and punchy things that would generally give Whiscash a hard time. The only problem that the two of these face is against consistent heavy damage like Charm or Dragon Breath - which can overwhelm the frail Galvantula and outspeed Whiscash’s charge-move-based damage.
It is worth noting however that this duo’s downfall basically starts and stops at Fairies - the rest of these Pokémon tend to be on the more niche side in Labyrinth. Note the strange moveset on the breaker Galvantula - although Galvantula’s standard moveset will beat Whiscash and tie itself, it needs Fury Cutter AND Energy Ball to beat both evenly.
Politoed also fits in here well, trading wins against some of those fairies for Togekiss or Whimsicott instead and trading wins against Talonflame, Snowy Castform, and Gastrodon for losses against… Smack Down Chesnaught. All in all the two are extremely similar so I went with the simpler Whiscash and figured I’d elaborate in here.
Galvantula + Diggersby
Much like Whiscash before it, Diggersby takes a tango alongside the big zappy spider.
Benefiting more from Galvantula’s anti-fighting features, Diggersby brings up the bulk (especially in the higher levels) and brings a fiery fist back to the Grass-types. So good is this duo that I would claim its breakers are almost entirely off-meta - Talonflame, and Shiftry appearing as niche picks at the start of the month. Haxorus is on here to make all of us jealous of the 5 players that have a Great League Haxorus.
Marshtomp is also here to make me regret leaving them out of the “mudboi” discussion earlier.
Really Diggersby vs Whiscash vs Politoed comes down to if you want to use your Water or Normal-type alongside your Ground-type (or use solely Water in Poli’s case).
All 3 would serve you well and I highly recommend you look into the sims that each gains and loses - and practice with them yourself - if you plan on using them.
Politoed + Alolan Ninetales
Now we’re Weather Ballin’!
Politoed and Alolan Ninetales are coming fresh out of the gates of the January 11th move update with some shiny new powerful toys - and both are lobbing their balls in the Labyrinth.
Alolan Ninetales, on its Powder Snow variant, additionally works as a very good Grass killer. Only Abomasnow - as a Shadow Razor Leafer :scream: - and Ferrothorn with its doubly-super-effective Mirror Shot are able to fell this new fast frozen fairy.
For this pairing it looks nice if you happen to have the very exclusive Shadow Politoed, but I can assure you the pairing does very well without it. You might suffer against a Sableye here or a Shadow Skarmory there, but I can assure you that you’ll likely enter many many tournaments before you see a… Luxio.
Also note that this Jellicent moveset is one that I consider to be incorrect and is very bait dependent (my preferred Jellicent moveset is the no-bait Hex/Ice Beam + Shadow Ball.)
Get your timing down pat for Politoed against Skarmory - that’s one that is won on charge move timing. Shadow Skarm is unreachable for standard Politoed but if you’re facing a plain old Skarmory you want to get that win.
Abomasnow + Politoed
Oh boy, more Weather Ball!
And Weather Ball breaker in Cherrim!
Very similar to the previous, Politoed and Abomasnow create a good duo of ballers. Here Abomasnow really really REALLY clings to Politoed for dear life when anything with a Fire typing appears.
And Abomasnow returns the favor by taking down Grass-types.
Except for Cherrim.
And for Breloom <3
Anyway, this one doesn’t include Shadow Politoed because it would be needlessly complex AND Shadow Politoed is the rarer of the two. From the sims the difference between it and standard Politoed is less drastic than that between Abomasnow and Shadow Abomasnow. My only warning if you have one is that running Shadow Politoed alongside Shadow Abomasnow makes for a shield-hungry core and your third Pokémon really needs to have some bulk to avoid getting you into a sticky situation.
I’ll echo again that against a non-Shadow Skarmory you need your charge move timing down pat for Politoed. You win, but you can lose that if you play sloppily in that regard.
Also, as this is the last section on Politoed I have to elaborate a bit on strategy. Both Earthquake and Blizzard Politoed are viable, and gain and lose different things. Blizzard Politoed is relatively toothless against other Water-types, Earthquake Politoed struggles greatly against Grass-types.
Zweilous + Alolan Marowak
A Ghost and a Dark-type, here as friends!
And well, doing VERY well for each other. Marowak makes the Fairies and the Fighters and the Ice scarce while Zweilous keeps the Waters and Dark-types scarce…
Ignore that one of these breakers is both Ice AND Dark-type, Weaville is an anomaly.
Really this duo looks great depending on how much Regirock we see - which can be a bit scary given how good it looks and how highly ranked it is in the meta. And Whiscash and Diggersby and Obstagoon, all scary picks.
The real benefit that I find in these two is the consistency. Zweilous does very well with its Dragon Breath onslaught and Body Slam spam. Alolan Marowak tends to do a lot on its typing alone, and its old bait dependency is lessened if it’s packing Shadow Bone. Shadow Ball is still more than feasible, the two do not impact many matches at all. As you can see in the graphic only Steelix and Shadow Gyarados get flipped by having one move over the other, and the ratio of that seen in the breakers is pretty similar to what it is against Pokémon overall.
Just keep that Regirock away from me please.
Registeel + Pelipper
What? Mandibuzz beats Registeel? Well it actually does if you go for Dark Pulse rather than Foul Play, and it doesn’t even need to bait.
Another notable pickup for Pulse is Vigoroth.
I’d look into that distinction should you opt for Mandibuzz - similarly to Umbreon there are tradeoffs between the moves despite their similarity.
Anyway, the sketchy Jellicent shows up again here. And… Shelgon? And Skuntank? And Shadow Quagsire?
The way I would best sell this core is as Labyrinth Registeel/Azumarill. As before that duo’s downside has been Electric-types and bulky Water-types. And Meganium. And that’s what we see here for the most part.
It’s a good duo, and Pelipper doesn’t have the maddening bulk that Azumarill has.
But seriously run and hide if you see any electricity.
Regirock + Tropius
So I’m down to just say this looks like the strongest core in Labyrinth, and it unfortunately is one of the most inaccessible cores I’ve posited. If you know me personally you probably know my pains around Regirock and my lack of a decent one. And I at least HAVE one! Many don’t, and many also don’t have Tropius.
Which makes this awkward to show as my current favorite in Labyrinth.
But yeah, these two look AMAZING. Regirock covers the Ice, Fire, and Flying-types that Tropius fears even better than Registeel did in metas previous - especially since Regi hates Fire.
Which leaves us with a… precarious group of breakers: a Lapras and Skarmory on niche movesets, some Steel/Psychics (including Shadow Metang!), and some funky Electric-types. And Sableye and Dragonair.
I will say that Sableye, Dragonair, Jirachi and Bronzong are all serious contenders for a type slot in Labyrinth. But I doubt they will be common enough to stop you from doing well with this extremely tight core, should you choose to run it.
I want to mention that Tropius can also pair with Sudowoodo to moderate success as an alternative mono-Rock-type, but it is a downgrade - losing to things like Mandibuzz and Shadow Zapdos and Froslass and even Registeel. And it still loses to most of these, including the menacing Shadow Metang. But it can overcome Jirachi and Bronzong and Dragonair which are some of the more serious threats here - so maybe check what you think of it before jumping in, or test it in a practice tournament.
I’ve mentioned most of these throughout, but there are 5 additional cores I want to mention that did not get graphics but still would serve you well in Labyrinth.
Like Skarmory and Whiscash, just a bit more awkward. Still worth a look, especially if you prefer Quagsire to Whiscash. They have minor differences but the bulk of what each do is the same.
Again just a bit more awkward than some of the other options. Fighting-types and Steel-types start to be issues, but these two are very decent and will run over a lot of things. Definitely worth considering as an additional core if you, for instance, run Skarmory + Whiscash and Zweilous + Alolan Marowak.
This didn’t get added because Whiscash and Diggersby were already in line with Galvantula and the overlap was too great, but Politoed does very well alongside the spider. I’d recommend you look for yourself but I’d generally say that if you like the looks of Whiscash and Galvantula and you want to use Politoed (perhaps to free up your Ground-type for Diggersby) then you’re set to treat them similarly. Frog strong, as was shown in other cores.
As mentioned in the Regirock/Tropius section, this duo works as a sort of “budget/accessibility” alternative, but it is definitely that. Look into it yourself and decide if the dancing tree is right for you. I certainly like its moves on the dancefloor.
Not covered at all in the write-up until now, this duo does look very nice. Toxicroak is able to beat a lot of the Grass-types and Fighting-types that would give Dewgong worry, while Dewgong takes down a LOT of the Flying-types and outbulks most of the remaining Psychic-types that would trounce Toxicroak.
Notable breakers are Galvantula, Alolan Ninetales on Charm, Alolan Marowak, Jellicent, Froslass, and Rainy Castform.
I really like this core, it just loses to a lot of random stuff like Electrode or Slowbro and it ultimately was more trouble than it was worth to do a whole graphic and write-up.
It also loses to Mr. Rime.
Fear the tap tap tippity tap.
I’m very excited to jump into Labyrinth for real now, the concept looks AMAZING! This was a LOT for me to dive into but I’m so glad that there are some good pairs to run with.
I appreciate any of you that read this and find it helpful; please feel free to let me know what you think or if you have any additions or anything to that effect. I love interfacing with other battlers on these things.
Hope you're all having a great day and have a great month in the Labyrinth. GL, HF, and remember that your opponent is a person too!