GBL Meta Cores: Master League Premier
— Introduction —
With the return of Master League (ML) Premier in GO Battle League (GBL) Season 4, we’re back to highlight some of the top lines and core breakers. Once again, we have a solid picture of how the meta looks thanks to early looks at Season 4 from Ytxpikachu for both Open and Premier and a Season 3 Premier summary from Pokebrains. Master League is a condensed meta with a lower number of viable picks as compared to CP capped leagues, which makes identifying core breakers challenging. For this reason, only three core breakers are shown for each trio core, and you will likely want to place a greater emphasis on Pokémon within the trio core that are “Best vs Trio”. We have summary sections to provide more context and analysis on ML Premier below. The Open ML graphic is standalone, but suffice to say Best Buddy Dialga remains the center around which the Open ML meta revolves. So let’s get to it!
What is a Core?
A core is a pair of Pokémon that synergize well together by covering each other’s weaknesses, and trio cores are composed of multiple powerful duos. Therefore, any single Pokémon in the trio core can often be substituted for another partially complementary Pokémon to create a solid line that’s less predictable. Core breakers are Pokémon that generally perform well, even in a loss, against all members of a duo or trio core. You might only face two of the three shown in any given battle, but bringing one of these core breakers means you’ll be well positioned no matter which of those duos you see.
How does the Graphic work?
Each GBL meta-defining trio core is surrounded by six core breakers. Each segment of the encircling ring reflects its matchup with the respective trio core Pokémon. A Win (dark teal) or Loss (dark gold) generally indicates the outcome in even-shield scenarios, and these matchups are less likely to flip due to slight energy differentials. Even (grey), Narrow Win (light teal) and Narrow Loss (light gold) reflect which way the matchup generally trends and implies that IVs and slight energy differentials might play a larger role in the outcome. Importantly, Pokémon walled by one of the three were not considered despite having solid matchups against two of the three. As these trios are composed of multiple strong duos, sometimes one of three Pokémon are replaced with another pick to reduce predictability or better counter the current meta. Try integrating these core breakers into your lineup to counter some of the top teams in GBL.
— Terms —
Note that 0/1/2S refers to the even-shield scenarios in simulations from PvPoke. All wins or losses mentioned are even-shield scenarios with zero starting energy unless otherwise stated. Stat Product (SP) and IVs are occasionally referenced. Exclusive moves (*) cannot be acquired by regular TMs and are either legacy or obtained through previous events, purification or use of an Elite TM.
— Metagross + Dragonite + Snorlax — This trio was the face of ML Premier Cup on its introduction, and continues to be one of its strongest cores to date. Metagross and Dragonite cover each other's weaknesses almost flawlessly, barely sharing counters between them. Snorlax, the strongest generalist in this Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) meta, functions as the safe switch that can regain switch advantage or clear the way to victory by leaving its teammates with either a shield advantage or an energy lead. The Shadow variants of any core members here should definitely be considered if you have them, but ultimately won't change how this meta-defining trio works.
Metagross Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash* + Earthquake
Metagross is the main player of the Premier Cup, without any doubt. Carrying excellent stats, solid defensive typing and a powerful moveset, Metagross completely shaped the meta around itself. It wins most neutral matchups, hurts even its hardest counters, and has an unstoppable performance with a shield advantage. Psychic is absolutely a viable move on Metagross, but for this trio core, Meteor Mash and Earthquake provide the best coverage.
Dragonite Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw + Hurricane or Draco Meteor*
With no Legendary Pokémon around, Dragonite takes the Dragon type crown in this format. Dragon Breath deals loads of unblockable damage against everything bar Fairy types, while Dragon Claw exerts shield pressure and Hurricane or the Community Day exclusive move Draco Meteor provide the nukes. Dragonite deals with the Ground types that trouble Metagross, while Metagross covers Dragonite's huge Fairy and Ice weaknesses.
Snorlax Lick + Body Slam + Superpower or Earthquake or Skull Bash
Snorlax, unlike its teammates, is not really a powerhouse. The key to its success resides on its amazing defensive stats, which, when paired with its moveset, allow Snorlax to work as a generalist that has play against every Pokémon your opponent may throw at you. Snorlax benefits from a very wide movepool, and while that makes playing the Charge TM roulette a nightmare, it gives Snorlax the potential to threaten certain Pokémon with specific type coverage, something unique on a generalist. Superpower is usually preferred as it is fairly easy to reach multiple times in an extended fight, becoming less susceptible to shields, but Earthquake offers much bigger closing power, if it lands. Skull Bash can see play as it will dent even against Pokémon that resist it, while also boosting Snorlax's already high bulk, allowing it to tank big hits quite more easily.
Garchomp Mud Shot + Outrage + Sand Tomb
Garchomp's Dragon/Ground typing allows it to hit both Metagross and Dragonite for Super Effective damage, turning it into one of the two things that can break this duo. That being said, none of those is a comfortable fight for Garchomp. Against Metagross it only secures the 2S, loses the 0S, and barely wins the 1S—Metagross faints with a Meteor Mash ready to go, which means a single Bullet Punch of advantage flips this matchup. Dragonite presents a harder challenge, as the outcome of the battle is defined by baits now. Garchomp wins the 0S as long as Dragonite lets an Outrage go through, and barely wins the 1S if it baits successfully – just like Metagross, Dragonite goes down while reaching a second Dragon Claw, so a single Dragon Breath of advantage will let Dragonite turn this scenario. It should be noted that the plays required to win these scenarios are not compatible (if Garchomp does not bait, it will lose the 1S, and if Garchomp does bait, it will lose the 0S), so its user should be ready to switch out if their strategy fails. Garchomp needs a very small energy advantage and two successful shield baits in order to win the 2S, but otherwise Dragonite completely dominates this scenario. Fortunately, Garchomp has an easier time against Snorlax, easily taking the 0S and 1S scenarios with no baits required, and only needing one successful shield bait or a single Mud Shot of advantage to win the 2S.
Gyarados Dragon Breath + Aqua Tail* + Crunch
Gyarados pulls off consistent fights against all members of this core thanks to a combination of useful resistances and powerful movesets. Its Water/Flying typing allows Gyarados to resist all of Metagross' moves except the odd Psychic. Crunch will severely hurt Metagross, and Dragon Breath, even when resisted, will provide the damage needed in order to win this fight. Gyarados wins all even scenarios against Metagross with no baits needed, but it should be noted that Metagross with a single Bullet Punch of advantage can reach an extra Meteor Mash that will flip the 0S and the 1S scenarios, although Gyarados can take back the 1S with a successful bait. Gyarados secures a win against Dragonite in the 2S, and can win the 0S if Dragonite always uses Dragon Claw. Gyarados clearly loses the 1S, but will leave Dragonite with low HP and no energy left, allowing a teammate to farm it down. Gyarados wins all even scenarios against Snorlax, but can't switch into it, as a single Lick of advantage will flip the 0S and the 2S.
If you’re curious, Waterfall Gyarados has an easier time against both Metagross and Snorlax, but doesn’t pressure Dragonite in the same manner, which makes the Dragon Breath variant the preferred Core Breaker against this trio. Waterfall Gyarados would need to run Outrage, as Outrage can allow it to win the 1-0 shield advantage scenario against Dragonite and even flip the 0S if at a two Waterfall energy advantage.
Magnezone Spark + Wild Charge + Mirror Shot
A moment ago, I said there are only two Pokémon that can break the duo formed by Metagross and Dragonite, and that Garchomp was one of them. Magnezone is the other one. Magnezone dominates against Metagross in the 1S and in the 2S, since it will outspeed Metagross to the killing blow, even if Metagross shield baits successfully, without needing to bait itself. The 0S scenario is a clear win for Metagross if it lands Earthquake, due to Magnezone's double weakness to Ground type moves. The fights against Dragonite are more complex. In the 1S, the outcome is bait-dependent and revolves around Magnezone avoiding the Defense debuff from Wild Charge as much as it possibly can, but Dragonite will have the upper hand as long as it saves its Charge Moves and uses them once Magnezone's Defense is debuffed. In the 0S, Magnezone always wins unless Dragonite is carrying Draco Meteor. In the 2S, Magnezone needs a double bait to win, otherwise Dragonite takes this scenario. When battling Snorlax, the fight could go either way as it revolves around both sides avoiding shield baits and Defense debuffs. When carrying Earthquake, Snorlax needs to bait successfully in order to win – once Magnezone shields an Earthquake, it completely secures the win. If Snorlax is running Superpower, baits are less of a deciding factor, as both parties can tank a hit – unless their Defense is debuffed, which makes landing the big hit on a debuffed opponent the win condition in these particular scenarios.
— Magnezone + Togekiss + Swampert —
These three Pokémon form a tight core together, limiting most of the true core breakers within the meta due to having at least one answer to all meta threats. While the core has answers to everything, it can be somewhat of a RPS core that tends to rely on lining up positive matchups and can be more volatile when trying to escape from bad matchups.
Magnezone Spark + Wild Charge + Mirror Shot
Magnezone plays an important role in helping to answer common Dragonite + Metagross cores, having solid play against both Pokémon. Togekiss and Swampert appreciate a Pokémon that can handle each of their primary predators. Magnezone also helps shut down opposing Togekiss and Gyarados, two Flying types that Swampert would prefer not to deal with.
Togekiss Charm + Flamethrower + Aerial Ace or Ancient Power
Togekiss shuts down fighting type Pokémon like Conkeldurr and Machamp, which is crucial coverage for Magnezone and Swampert to have, as well as the ever prominent Dragonite and Dragon Breath Gyarados. It needs to be on the lookout for Steel type walls Metagross and Magnezone, for which it will have to rely on its teammates to take out or gather enough energy to hit them with an unshielded Flamethrower. The decision between Ancient Power and Aerial Ace depends on what you want coverage for. If unshielded, Ancient Power is still more effective against the Flying types Dragonite, Gyarados, and Togekiss, while Aerial Ace gives a charge move that can threaten Swampert for more damage.
Swampert Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon* + Sludge Wave or Earthquake
Swampert provides a hard answer to Steel types Metagross and Magnezone for its teammate Togekiss, and answers ground types like Mud Slap Rhyperior and Excadrill for Magnezone. In return, its teammates help its glaring weakness to Dragonite and Gyarados. Sludge Wave is the preferred second move, due to giving it a move to use against its two biggest threats. Earthquake is not needed to win the matchups with the Steel types, but provides a bigger hit to them if unshielded.
Snorlax Lick + Body Slam + Superpower or Earthquake or Skull Bash
This trio is very tight, and Snorlax is a core breaker by virtue of just having the ability to play against all three. It has a moveset and bait-dependent matchup with Magnezone. Both sides are tempted to shield bait with Body Slam or Mirror Shot, and if Snorlax is running Superpower both sides have debuffing moves that greatly affect how the matchup goes. Earthquake provides a big win if landed, but takes longer to reach which can be costly. Snorlax has mostly close losses with Togekiss, though has a few win conditions. For example, it can win the 0S with Skull Bash or even with straight Body Slam if Togekiss throws Ancient Power. It also loses the 1S with Body Slam if it shields a Flamethrower by just 1HP, which could be flipped depending on IVs. Snorlax has close wins against Swampert in all even shield scenarios, but has to be careful of certain matchups flipping if Swampert has an energy advantage (the 2S matchup tends to be the easiest to flip). Snorlax can tank two Hydro Cannons or one Hydro Cannon and one Earthquake without being at risk of getting taken down by Mud Shots, so Snorlax can take hits and decide later how many shields it needs to use.
Mamoswine Powder Snow + Avalanche + Bulldoze
Continuing a trend of Pokémon that are a core breaker by virtue of having play against all three trio members, we have Mamoswine. Its matchup with Magnezone is a bit unusual, as it takes back super effective damage from Mirror Shot. It typically wins in all even shield scenarios without the need for shield baiting, but it is an awkward matchup due to Powder Snow doing little damage and relying on Bulldoze to get the knockout. That makes it susceptible to a well-timed sacrifice swap leaving a very healthy Magnezone around, and can also lose if it tries to shield bait and Magnezone calls the bluff. Mamoswine defeats Togekiss in the 0S and 1S matchups, but gets melted down from Charm in the two shield matchup. Mamoswine loses all even-shield scenarios to Swampert, but the one shield matchup is lost by just 7 HP and could be flipped in shield advantage situations. Avalanche hurts and landing just one on Swampert will leave it low on health. Mamoswine needs to look out for the two shield matchup, where it loses by a lot and leave Swampert with a lot of health left.
Torterra Razor Leaf + Sand Tomb or Frenzy Plant* + Stone Edge
This is very outside of the ML Premier meta, but Torterra has exactly what it takes to shut down this trio. Torterra wipes Swampert off the face of the earth. It also sports a triple resistance to Magnezone’s electric moves, giving it a big win with either Frenzy Plant or Sand Tomb (even running nothing but resisted Grass moves is enough to take Magnezone down hard). On top of that, it has Stone Edge to give it a 0S win over Togekiss. It loses any shielded matchup against Togekiss, but at a minimum it can always give its team a shield advantage. While Torterra is a huge risk in the Dragonite and Metagross centered Premier meta, it definitely has the tools to put a stopper on this generally more RPS core.
— Gyarados + Metagross + Garchomp —
These three make a very well-balanced trio that boasts amazing coverage - depending on the movesets there can be zero overlap in damage type between Pokémon! These 3 are all just solid Pokémon in ML Premier and create a trio that is uninviting to opposing Metagross.
Gyarados Waterfall OR Dragon Breath + Aqua Tail + Crunch OR Outrage
Gyarados is arguably the most accessible Pokémon in ML Premier. Magikarp having been featured in field research encounters, eggs, shadow encounters and even raid battles means many players had high-IV specimens when its Community Day was announced, and that ignores the ability that players had to grind for a high-IV Magikarp during the Community Day.
In MLP, its role is quite generalist. Taking on Metagross and most Fighting-type Pokémon while taking down Swampert and Garchomp (and Rhyperior and Excadrill) quite handily, there are quite a few places to find good matchups for this angry fish. Waterfall as a fast move is notably better against Metagross, Magnezone, Rhyperior, and Togekiss while Dragon Breath is a better move against Dragonite, Garchomp, and the mirror match against Gyarados.
In this core it works as the strongest of the trio in the mirror, and it is the core member you least want to see on an opposing team. For this reason alone, I would recommend Dragon Breath as your fast move for this core, as an opposing Dragon Breath Gyarados could really give you problems if you are running Waterfall. That being said, Waterfall is still a plenty viable and powerful option.
Metagross Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash + Earthquake OR Psychic
So while Gyarados is exceedingly accessible, Metagross is not far behind. Beldum has been in field research encounters, eggs, shadow encounters, and as a GBL reward along with Metagross, which has also been available in raids. Yes, its Community Day was much further back than that of Gyarados, but a top IV Metagross is a worthwhile Elite TM investment considering that Metagross is the Pokémon for ML Premier. In the same fashion as Dialga in Open Master League, Metagross is able to handle an immense amount of the meta and is near unstoppable with a shield advantage. This team features Metagross as well as two Pokémon that counter Metagross for exactly that reason. Because this team is running two Metagross counters there is room if you want to run Psychic instead of Earthquake, but there are generally more situations that prefer Earthquake over Psychic.
Garchomp Mud Shot + Outrage + Sand Tomb OR Earthquake
In Seasons 1 and 2, Garchomp was about as far from these first two in terms of access as you could get. After GO Fest and Gible being in raid battles, however, Garchomp is much more available. Garchomp is more specialist than generalist, existing mainly to take down Metagross and Magnezone. It does, however, do that job quite well while also taking neutral matchups and even counters like Gyarados or Dragonite depending on shield-baiting. Sand Tomb vs Earthquake is mainly up to player preference and whether they plan to set it up for the 0S sweep. Neither is a bad choice - Sand Tomb offers flexibility and shield-baiting options while Earthquake offers much more closing power in the matchups where you use it.
Gengar Shadow Claw + Shadow Punch + Shadow Ball
An interesting off-meta pick, Gengar has a potentially unique role in ML Premier. Able to take down Metagross in any even-shielding scenario with just Shadow Punch, it can come out of that matchup with a bit of health and be ready to take a good chunk of health off the next Pokémon. Against Gyarados, it does need to bait a Shadow Punch and land a Shadow Ball to come out on top unless it’s a Dragon Breath Gyarados—where Gengar can take the 2S with just Shadow Punch. Against Sand Tomb Garchomp, Gengar loses all even-shield scenarios. Against Earthquake Garchomp, Gengar wins the 1S if Garchomp fails the bait and wins the 2S if it can bait Shadow Punch twice and land Shadow Ball.
Dragonite Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw + Draco Meteor OR Hurricane
The big lovable dragon from Kanto, Dragonite is able to do quite well against this trio. Besting Waterfall Gyarados in any even-shield scenario and Dragon Breath Gyarados in any even-shield scenario besides 2S, Dragonite is often a safe counter to the angry fish. Against Earthquake Garchomp, Dragonite wins even-shield scenarios beyond 0S (where Garchomp simply KOs with an Outrage). Against Sand Tomb Garchomp, the Garchomp player can win the 1S with a shield bait but 2S is still beyond reach. Against Metagross, Dragonite has a loss in lower-shield scenarios but it can win the 2S. Dragonite can also occasionally get an unshielded Draco Meteor or Hurricane off on a Metagross player that does not want to invest shields, which can cause the loss to be very minor or even flip it to a win.
Togekiss Charm + Flamethrower + Ancient Power OR Aerial Ace
Togekiss’ ability to completely wall Garchomp should be well known by now. Even if the Garchomp is carrying Fire Blast, Togekiss wins all shield scenarios against the land dragon. Togekiss is similarly able to dominate Dragon Breath Gyarados, again winning all shield scenarios. Against Waterfall Gyarados things are much closer but Togekiss still tends to win all even-shield scenarios. Metagross is obviously a problem and is about the worst thing you can see when using Togekiss, but that matchup can be won if the Togekiss player has a shield and the Metagross player does not.
Hope you found the graphics and article helpful, and thank you for taking the time to read the full write-up. Please share the post if you found it useful and good luck battling out there!