Flying Cup Meta Snapshot Graphic
Graphic By: u/Nesabethan
Written By: u/Tangent444
In the Flying Cup Meta Snapshot graphic, we attempt to distill the Flying Cup down to the central Pokémon you should be prepared to face and the matchup dynamics within this concentrated Meta. The relationships displayed here are counters (single arrow) and generally positive matchups with a few losing conditions (dotted arrow). Checks and IV-dependent matchups are often excluded (no arrow). Thanks as always to PvPoke for supporting simulations. Also if you love discussing Cup Metas, come join in on the daily discussion at GO Stadium and forge new friendships with people as passionate about Meta discussion as you.
The dynamic of the Flying Cup Meta is centered around Aerodactyl, and Meta Pokemon are focused around the few options that can beat it, and counters to the Anti-Aerodactyl Pokemon.
ª = Exclusive move (might require an Elite TM to acquire outside of special events)
— Aerodactyl —
Aerodactyl Rock Throw + Rock Slide + Ancient Power
Aerodactyl is the hyped central figure of the Flying Cup Meta. With the exception of Steel/Flying Skarmory and Ground/Flying Gligar and Gliscor, every Pokemon takes super-effective damage from Aerodactyl's Rock Throw. The only drawback: Aerodactyl has low bulk and can lose some scenarios to bulky generalists such as Mandibuzz and Altaria, and is unable to take an Electric charge move from Zapdos or Emolga while countering them and requiring a shield. The second move is optional and not necessary, as Rock Slide alone gives you everything you need, but Ancient Power gives Aerodactyl a 10% chance to boost in situations where your opponent was likely going to shield anyways, which could be a difference maker. Shadow Aerodactyl is forced to run with Frustration, which means you would need to unlock the second charge move in order to have Rock Slide. The choice between Non-Shadow and Shadow shows a few small trade offs and ultimately either could be used: Non-Shadow can lose the 1S and 2S matchups with High Stat Product Altaria, but wins 0S, while the Shadow drops the 0S matchup but wins 1S and 2S.
— Aerodactyl Counters —
Skarmory Steel Wing + Sky Attack + Brave Bird
Mantine Bubble + Bubble Beam + Ice Beam
You might be used to Air Slash on Skarmory in Open Great League, but for Flying Cup Skarmory gets its niche by using Steel Wing to become the most consistent Aerodactly counter available. The only situation it might drop is the 0S situation to Shadow Aerodactyl, but a High Stat Product Skarmory can still win that and can invest one shield if it has one in order to farm down. The biggest drawback to Skarmory is that it can struggle with Water and Electric type Pokemon which have a large presence in the Meta. Mantine is a softer Aerodactyl counter that wins the 1S matchup with straight Bubble Beam and closely loses the 2S matchup while leaving Aerodactyl with very low HP. However, Mantine needs to land an Ice Beam to win 0S and only qualifies as an Aerodactyl counter due to the shortage of options within the Meta. However, Mantine winning the head-to-head with Steel Wing Skarmory while also soft countering Aerodactyl and packing Ice Beam to threaten other Flying Meta threats.
Other Pokemon that can defeat Aerodactly in certain scenarios which are mentioned in Honourable Mentions include Gyarados, Gligar, and Mandibuzz, as well as Altaria which will be covered later as a Generalist.
— Electric Types —
Zapdos Thunder Shockª + Drill Peck + Thunderbolt
Emolga Thunder Shock + Discharge + Thunderbolt or Aerial Ace
The Electric/Flying Pokemon play as a form of bodyguards to Aerodactyl, covering two of its main threats in Skarmory and Mantine. They need to watch out for a Mantine Ice Beam, which Mantine cannot reach in any even shield scenario from even energy but could be at play when Mantine has an energy lead. Emolga's access to the faster Discharge makes it more consistent at its role countering Electric weak Skarmory and Mantine and applying pressure to Aerodactyl faster. Meanwhile Zapdos (which requires an Elite Fast TM to get Thunder Shock at the Great League Level) has Drill Peck hits Gligar and Gliscor harder and gives it a better change to win against the only two Electric-resistant Pokemon in the Meta. Emolga could carry Aerial Ace to give it coverage for Gligar or Gliscor, but will more likely use Thunderbolt to give it a harder hitting more that could allow it to win against Altaria shields down with the sequence Discharge + Thunderbolt, should Altaria through Sky Attack instead of Dragon Pulse.
— Bulky Generalist —
Altaria Dragon Breath + Sky Attack + Dragon Pulse
Altaria plays as a generalist, due to having relatively few hard losses within the Meta. Altaria with a high Stat Product is one of the few Pokemon that can defeat Aerodactyl (winning the 1S and 2S scenarios with Non-Shadow, and 0S with Shadow). Altaria also plays as a strong counter to the Electric types due to its Dragon typing. The two Pokemon within the Meta that Altaria truly fears are Articuno and Togekiss.
From the Honourable Mentions, Mandibuzz could play a similar role to Altaria as a bulky generalist, but does not provide a counter against the Electric types while still fearing Articuno and Togekiss . Mandibuzz is one of the few Pokemon with win conditions against Aerodactyl and could see play on a double Generalist team alongside Altaria.
— Altaria Counter —
Articuno Ice Shard + Icy Wind + Ice Beam or Blizzard or Hurricaneª or Ancient Power
Articuno plays as a strong responses to the bulky generalist Altaria, consistently beating it in all even shield scenarios. Ice is unresisted across the Meta and allows Articuno to put up a fight with almost everything, but its double weakness to Rock makes it extra vulnerable to Aerodactyl and it loses to Steel Wing Skarmory. For the second move, which is more of a luxury on Articuno than a necessity, you would get the most out of Ice Beam or Blizzard to give it more closing power. Hurricane is resisted more within this Meta and requires an Elite Charge TM at the Great League Level, but has utility outside of Flying Cup in other Great League Metas. We would not recommend TMing your Articuno to learn Hurricane for Flying Cup, but even more we would not suggest TMing away from Hurricane just for this Meta, as Icy Wind is all you really need in Flying Cup. Ancient Power would only provide some utility in the mirror match and a 10% change at a boost.
From the Honourable Mentions, Togekiss is a harder answer to Altaria and Mandibuzz and has a closer loss to Aerodactyl than Articuno, but often needs two shields to get past the Electric/Flying types, drops the head-to-head, has considerably less bulk, and has a worse matchup with Skarmory.
— Honourable Mentions —
Gyarados Waterfall + Aqua Tailª + Outrage or Crunch
Gligar Wing Attack + Night Slash + Return or Aerial Ace
Togekiss Charm + Ancient Power + Flamethrower
Drifblim Hex + Icy Wind + Shadow Ball
Mandibuzz Snarl + Foul Play + Shadow Ball or Dark Pulse or Aerial Ace
Honourable mentions all have merit within the Meta, and could be good choices for coverage on a team composition where they fit. They appear to fall a bit short compared to the big Meta players, but each has their own pros and cons. Other Pokemon not pictured could also have a place in the Meta on the right team.