GO Battle League Season 12 Updates
Nesabethan, Jibaku, Tangent, PolymersUp, LazerBrian, Bopper
1 year ago
GO Battle League Season 12 updates are here so let’s waste no time and jump right in to what’s changed!
Icicle Spear - Energy cost increased
Most likely change: 40 energy
A nerf to the clown-faced walrus has been widely anticipated, and its community day moves took it from a never seen Pokémon in PvP to the most popular Pokémon in the Play! Pokémon World Championship. Raising the energy cost of Icicle Spear is a slightly harsher nerf than lowering the damage. Adding 5 to energy cost hurts the damage per energy more than knocking 5 off damage, and slows the walrus down so that it can no longer reach a second Icicle Spear 8 turns after the first or an Earthquake 16 turns after an Icicle Spear bait. It will most likely remain the best Water-Ice type in PvP, but how much its popularity changes in open will remain to be seen.
Zap Cannon - No longer guaranteed to lower Attack
Most likely change: 50% chance of a debuff
Another Pokémon widely expected to get nerfed, Registeel’s popularity after it received Zap Cannon was surely higher than Niantic expected. A random chance of debuff was a predictable but unfortunate change. In the main series games, Zap Cannon has a 50% chance of activating paralysis, so this change was thematically logical. However it will add RNG frustration to the playerbase, so may not be the most popular change. While Registeel still keeps its Electric type coverage and will sometimes pull off its debuff reliant wins, losing the debuff 50% of the time will hurt it a lot in neutral matchups, and it will be hard for it to remain the most popular Steel-type, like it was in the World Championships.
Rollout - Energy generation decreased
Most likely change: 13 energy
Currently generating 14 energy per move, Rollout is the second highest energy per turn move in the game after Lock On. Although Alolan Golem received the move during its Community Day, the move had strong competition from its already extremely good Volt Switch. Any energy generation nerf would make Rollout hardly ever run on Alolan Golem. 14 energy divided fairly neatly into the 55 energy cost Stone Edge, reaching the Charged Attack in just 12 turns. Even the smallest energy generation nerf to 13 would force Golem to use a fifth Rollout to reach Stone Edge, making Rollout a much less efficient move for the Pokémon when running Stone Edge.
So why is the move getting nerfed? The answer is almost certainly the simultaneous moveset addition to Miltank. Rollout at 14 energy is very efficient with Body Slam: five Rollouts generates the exact energy cost of two Body Slams, allowing Miltank to spam two Body Slams every 15 turns (averaging 7.5 turns per Body Slam). This is much more efficient energy conversion than Greedent’s Bullet Seed provides, and on a slightly bulkier Normal-type. Niantic appear to have decided this would be too strong compared with existing Body Slam users, and preemptively nerfed the move.
Ancient Power - 60 power, Attack and Defense increase amount lowered
Silver Wind - 60 power, Attack and Defense increase amount lowered
Ominous Wind - Attack and Defense increase amount lowered
These three changes slightly diverge thematically from the main series games: in those games, these moves provide two offensive and defensive buffs (to the different Attack and Defense stats those games have). Many members of the playerbase have complained that unexpected two stage buffs to both aspects are too game ruining, and Niantic appear to have agreed. One thing to note is Ominous Wind doesn’t appear to have the damage increase that the other two moves do. A likely explanation is because this move is learned by Giratina Origin, one of the most popular Pokémon in Master League, and Niantic decided they didn’t want to make it any better. Why they buffed the damage in of Ancient Power, despite its being learned by Giratina Altered (one of the most popular Pokémon in Ultra League), is unclear. Giratina Altered’s Rock coverage was a useful tool for it against the Ice-types and Togekiss that threatened it back when Ancient Power had a base damage of 70. In the Open Master League, 60 damage Ancient Power is strong enough for Giratina Altered to defeat Togekiss in the 0- and 1-shield.
Quick Attack - Energy generation increased
Most likely change: 8 energy
Quick Attack has become quicker! Powder Snow and Vine Whip are well known 2-turn moves with 5 base damage and 8 energy generation, along with the largely forgotten Karate Chop. Quick Attack is likely to become a clone of these good fast moves. The biggest winners of this change are Meloetta, Diggersby, Virizion, Alolan Raticate, and Little Cup Vulpix.
Meloetta goes from a relatively niche pick to a potential powerhouse in Master League, and is likely the biggest winner of this change. It still faces an insurmountable Dialga matchup, but outside of that it has relatively safe play across the Master League meta.
Alolan Raticate will become far more playable in limited cup formats, bridging the gap a little bit between itself and fellow Dark/Normal-type Obstagoon where it now might be play, particularly in a format like Kanto Cup where Goon is ineligible.
Diggersby gains the option of running Quick Attack + Fire Punch + Earthquake, which improves its ability to win neutral matchups, but comes at the cost of its specialized role as a Steel and Ghost slayer.
Virizion now has a much improved fast attack that can power its amazing charge move combination of Leaf Blade, Sacred Sword, and Stone Edge. The biggest challenge for Virizion is deciding which charged attack to drop.
Little Cup Vulpix already ran Quick Attack when run in the role of a safe switch, and now has improved ability to perform the role. Counters to it still exist, but this allows it to flip some matchups, such as the two shield matchup with Lick Seel with a one Quick Attack energy lead.
Tackle - Energy generation increased
Most likely change: 3 energy
A traditionally uninspiring move that main series games Pokémon would learn before learning more powerful moves, this move goes from being very uninspiring to slightly so. 4 energy would be a very unlikely change, making this one of the best fast moves in the game, so 3 is what we expect. It would make it a Normal-type clone of Water Gun and Bug Bite. Those moves have mediocre nominal DPT and EPT of 3, though it should be noted their 1-turn duration means they benefit from damage rounding more than longer duration moves, so their DPT in real matchups is typically slightly higher relative to longer fast moves than it might seem. As such, Tackle should become a slightly above average move, but nothing remarkable.
A huge number of Pokémon are affected by this change. This mediocre move may just be enough to make Xerneas viable in the Master League, giving it competent win rates in the 0-shield and 1-shield. In fact, Xerneas's 0-shield winrate with a 3 EPT Tackle is frightening and is one of the highest in the game, making it a potent closer. While Zacian will still remain the superior Fairy option due to its consistency and more flexible Charged Attack choices, Xerneas can potentially find its way into ABB Double Fairy lineups alongside it. Miltank, already affected elsewhere in this update by the addition of Rollout, might find itself turning to this newly buffed Normal-type fast move instead. Even Miltank’s fellow Normal-type Greedent might start using it. Little Cup is an especially affected format, where a massive number of pre-evolution Pokémon already learn this elementary move.
After Charm got added to the game three years ago as the first Fairy fast move, its extreme, damage-focussed parameters left many players hoping Fairies would someday get a more conventional fast move. Well we now have a second Fairy fast move, and Niantic have decided to make it almost as extreme as Charm. It becomes the second highest energy per turn generating move, alongside its differently typed clones, Mud Shot, Psycho Cut, Thunder Shock, and Poison Sting, and just behind Lock On. Fairy Wind generates 2.5 more EPT than Charm, but has a nominal DPT ~3.8 lower, a DPT loss about 1.5 times the EPT gain. Whether this tradeoff is worth it will be situational. A good Fairy charged move like Moonblast has base damage per energy around 1.8, so Fairy Wind could lead to more damage in neutral than Charm. However, charged move damage can be blocked by shields and is more likely to overkill than fast move damage, so in practice Fairy Wind might lead to less damage. The other thing to consider is energy can be converted into different type multipliers, if the Pokémon has good coverage between its two charged moves. Fairy Wind’s higher energy generation could be better at taking advantage of this, hitting a Poison-type Pokémon with a Psychic move or a Steel-type with a Fire move, for example, to help it overcome Rock Paper Scissor matchups for which Charm is notorious.
Let’s examine each of the Fairy Wind recipients:
Galarian Weezing was much in need of an improved fast attack. Although Tackle is getting buffed this season, the addition of Fairy Wind does a lot more for the Galarian version of the Poison Gas Pokémon. Fairy Wind allows GWeezing to access its high energy combination of Play Rough and Overheat. The former is a solid STAB charge attack, and the later provides valuable coverage for Steel-types such as the fellow Galarian version of Stunfisk and Registeel. Sludge is a poor low energy move, but could be valuable for baiting shields and allowing GWeezing to put pressure on Fairy head-to-heads. It is important to emphasize GWeezing’s sim results with Fairy Wind, Sludge and Overheat likely overstate the performance of the Pokémon. If it fails a Sludge bait, it isn’t hitting for much damage, and if it kills something with an Overheat, it has to go into the next matchup debuffed.
Mawile has access to the dangerous combination of Power-Up Punch and its STAB moves Iron Head and Play Rough. This gives us Jellicent vibes, where a successful bait could lead to Mawile potentially flipping a variety of matchups it seemingly never should. That being said, the combination doesn’t look overtly imposing in simulation results. This is an improvement to Mawile, but unlikely to make it meta viable in Open Great League. It could see come play in limited cup formats, such as Halloween Cup, although it might still see play in its previous fast attack oriented style, typically with Fire Fang and often as a shadow. Fairy Wind now means opponents have more to think about when using or countering a Mawile.
Fairy Wind does not do much for Galarian Rapidash outside of providing alternative options. GDash already has Psycho Cut, a move only different from Fairy Wind in typing, and this is unlikely to change much. It does now give GDash improved unpredictability, and a stronger ability to pressure the Dark-types one might expect a Fairy-type to counter. On the flip side, it is now significantly more toothless against Poison-types, although Rapidash was probably already losing most of those anyways as move like Poison Jab put too much pressure on the Unique Horn Pokémon.
Florges is still looking to carve a niche in GO Battle League, and receiving this new move should help it at least have more options. That being said, it doesn’t appear to move the needle for Florges to find much relevance. It already had Vine Whip, a strong fast attack, to power its combination of Disarming Voice alongside one of Psychic, Moonblast, or Petal Blizzard. As one of the rare Disarming Voice using Pokémon within the meta, Fairy Wind will allow a Disarming Voice to be thrown once every ten turns, putting up one of the fastest forms of pure Fairy damage outside of just using Charm. That being said, the ability to cover Poison-types with Psychic is likely not enough to warrant using Florges instead of a standard Charmer. It also loses one of Florges potential niche’s to pressure Excadrill in Master League with neutral Vine Whip damage.
With Slurpuff's interesting Fire- and Grass-type charged moves, it has long been one of the Fairies that could flip unusual matchups if only it had more energy generation. Reality may not match the hype in this case though. Non-STAB on those coverage moves means it isn't converting its energy into as much neutral damage as a Moonblast user, and its only Fairy-type charged moves are weaker. The sims indicate that Fairy Wind Slurpuff doesn’t seem to outperform what it could do just running Charm. It may take some sort of cheaper Fairy type Charge move for Slurpuff to shine.
Jumpluff appears to be one of the Pokémon that sees the greatest benefit from Fairy Wind, and is the only non-Fairy type to receive the move. The increase energy generation from Fairy Wind compared to Bullet Seed allows Jumpluff to more effectively leverage its Energy Ball and Acrobatics combination. It also increases performance in Grass-type head-to-heads, which is a huge plus in limited cup formats. Expect this to be the new fast attack of choice on Jump. Jumpluff’s fellow Grass-Flying type Pokémon, Tropius, continues to have more consistent damage output with its cheaper energy cost moves, and to have slightly higher win rates in multi-sims. Jumpluff may not displace the Fruit Pokémon quite yet, but it should give it a closer run for its bananas than before.
Similar to Extrasensory, Bubble, or Hex but better than all 3, Double Kick kicks down the door this season! A better comparison might be to 2-turn moves such as Karate Chop, Powder Snow, and Vine Whip. Those three moves have the same EPT as Double Kick of 4; their nominal DPT of 2.5 is slightly lower than Double Kick’s 2.66, but in practice they will average about the same DPT in real matchups because 3-turn moves typically benefit less than 2-turn moves from damage rounding. Karate Chop has largely been a forgotten Fighting move, mainly because Counter is learned by many of the same Pokémon and is generally better. The similar Double Kick can avoid this fate by being given to new Pokémon that don’t learn Counter.
When you think of the move Double Kick, few Pokémon spring to mind faster than Hitmonlee. The quick energy generation of Double Kick allows Hitmonlee to access its combination of Close Combat and Stone Edge. This allows Hitmonlee to achieve its true potential as a spicy pick that Jonkus will inexplicably go 5-0 with at some point for a Youtube video. For non-Jonkus players, however, you should keep in mind that Hitmonless is still bad. Double Kick is not Counter, and this leaves Hitmonlee as a suboptimal Hitmontop, which was already a suboptimal Machamp. That being said, the cheesy full Hitmonteam awaits!
Double Kick is not likely to push Nidoking into relevance any time soon, but new move tools on a Pokémon that rarely sees play can never hurt. Double Kick will play a similar role to what Fury Cutter, a legacy fast move on Nidoking, can offer; quick energy gains to reach a wide variety of high energy charge attacks. Poison Jab remains the likely move of choice on Nidoking, that is if you are the type of person who runs a Nidoking.
It cannot be overstated how much of an upgrade Double Kick is to Lopunny’s awful pool of fast attacks. However, stats, typing and an awkward pool of charge attacks continue to hold this bunny back from relevance. Mega Lopunny, as a dual Normal/Fighting type, will certainly appreciate this addition, but this is more from a raid attacker point of view until we see more Mega Pokémon available in GO Battle League.
Both of Incineroar’s usual Charged Attacks cost 50 energy, and four Double Kicks generate 48 energy. This adds up to one sad wrestling cat. It is unlikely that even the eventual addition of Blast Burn will be enough to make this work.
Dubwool: Body slam. Check. Wild charge. Check. Payback. Check…Tackle? Yikes. This previously gross fast move selection left many battlers sheepish about using this gen 8 debutante. Well fear not, for Dubwool’s time may have finally arrived. Like Greedent and Miltank, Dubwool could benefit from the buffed Tackle. However, Dubwool seems more likely to use its new non-STAB fast move, Double Kick. It charges two Body Slams with less wasted energy than Rollout while typically dealing twice the Fast Move damage! With now possible wins over Galarian Stunfisk (even going straight body slam) and Azu (with Wild Charge) is Dubwool ready to challenge for the title of the true FleeceKing?
One final group of Double Kick recipients is notably absent: the Swords of Justice were not given the move in this moveset update, despite Cobalion lacking a viable fast move and Terrakion offering huge potential for the PvE metagame with the move. Virizion would also appreciate the buffs of Double Kick, though the new improvement to Quick Attack helps bridge the gap for the Grassland Pokémon. Should this group of Legendaries receive the move in future, expect Virizion and Cobalion to become bigger parts of the Ultra League meta.
Nidorina - Thunderbolt
Nidorina is a moderately bulky Pokémon with the solid Poison Sting and excellent Poison Fang, the latter of which managed to escape the nerf hammer this season. Its evolution has overshadowed it since the Poison buffs of Season 8, offering a generally stronger fast move and two good, STAB, Ground-type coverage moves. Dig is the only Ground-type move Nidorina learns, for unresisted damage against Ground, Ghost, Poison, and Steel, but Dig is a terrible move with a very high 80 energy cost, and underwhelming 100 base damage. Instead Nidorina is more commonly seen purified with Return (if seen at all), a faster and more powerful move that is sadly still resisted by Ghost and Steel and unable to hit Poison or Steel for super effective. Thunderbolt gives Nidorina a new option that doesn’t help it against Grounds, but does against Ghosts, and gives Nidorina super effective damage against Water- or Flying- type Pokémon. Thunderbolt is unlikely to be a huge buff to Nidorina, but it does help win new matchups and may help Nidorina find a niche. Kanto Muk has already found some relevance with the Poison + Electric combination that Thunder Punch gives it.
Nidorino - Ice Beam
This one may seem peculiar. Why is Nidorino getting a buff? A closer inspection reveals a theme of buffing some of the middle evolutions for the upcoming Evolution Cup. We don’t expect this will do a huge amount for Nidorino to make it a core player, but it will provide coverage for Poison-resisting Ground-types and give it the ability to better threaten Dragons, such as Dragonair and Zweilous.
Arcanine - Psychic Fangs
The addition of Psychic Fangs does two things for Arcanine. First, it can now run Snarl with Psychic Fangs and Wild Charge, allowing it to realize its full potential as a Luxray in disguise! We have barely seen any Luxray in GO Battle League, and you can expect the same from this version of Arcanine. The more intriguing option is running Psychic Fangs alongside Fire Fang for a potent fast attack pressure combination. Shadow Fire Fang users have shown up in the past but have not been seen for a while. Maybe this is enough to bring them back to GBL with Shadow Fire Fang + Psychic Fangs Arcanine? Probably not. Arcanine has a lot of problems going for it. But this is progress for a highly underused Pokémon.
Tentacruel - Scald
Tentacruel has long been searching for a lower energy charged attack that deals damage, and its wish has finally been granted! Previously, it paired Acid Spray with Hydro Pump, which left it too volatile in wins and losses depending on its opponent’s shield decisions. Now with Scald, Tentacruel can pressure faster Water-type damage against common Poison-resistant Ground and Steel types. Scald also comes equipped with a 30% chance to lower an opponent's attack, allowing Tenta to live up to its cruel namesake. This should see Tentacruel rise up to become viable in Open Great League, and a star in limited cup formats. Azumarill is terrified by this prospect.
Haunter - Ice Punch
Here we see another middle evolution getting a new move. It is clear Niantic wants to give more middle evolutions tools to compete in the Evolution Cup. What does Ice Punch do for Haunter? Truth be told, not a huge amount. It theoretically gives Haunter faster coverage against Zweilous, which is nice, but it is not enough to flip any even shield scenario due to the fact that Haunter absolutely melts to Dragon Breath damage. That being said, Haunter has been a meta pick in the earliest eras of Open Great League and Ice Punch is a new tool it can utilize to keep people guessing.
Marowak (Kanto) - Rock Slide
Alolan Marowak has seen all the love so far in GO Battle League, and that has left its Kantonion cousin feeling jealous. Could this now be Kanto Marowak’s time? Honestly, not yet. Rock Slide helps Marowak obtain coveted Rock + Ground coverage, but the lackluster Mud-Slap continues to hold it back. Kanto Marowak remains at least one fast attack upgrade away from more relevance in limited cups, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for it.
Dragonair - Body Slam
PvP old timers who played Silph back in Timeless Cup might remember Normal moves were a common sight on Dragonair. Return was a faster charged move back then, useful for reaching neutral damage against the mirror, Grasses, and Waters faster, and Wrap was another option. It is more common these days to see Dragon Pulse, because the STAB move does respectable damage, is super effective against other Dragons, and Return is harder to reach than it used to be. Return still gets used sometimes in Fairy metas, especially against a Fairy that resists Aqua Tail, like Azumarill, Tapu Fini, or Whimsicott. Body Slam is much faster than Return: two Body Slams have the same energy cost as one Return, with only a small damage loss. As a result, Return should become an even rarer sight on Dragonair, and the elegant Dragon Pokémon will have a better Normal move than it ever had before. Aqua Tail + Body Slam is likely to be the most common charged move pairing on Dragonair from now on.
Dragonite - Superpower
Years ago, Superpower Dragonite was a Community Day candidate, but now it’s here without any legacy restriction! The Fighting-type Charged Attack provides Dragonite with the means to dent Steel-type Pokemon, alleviating one of two of its biggest setbacks. In the Master League, Dragonite has been pushed out due to competition with other Dragons and its inability to break past Steel- and Fairy-type Pokemon. Thanks to Superpower, Dragonite can now put up a very serious fight against Dialga, Melmetal, and Excadrill, even winning against them in certain baiting and even shield scenarios! This buff may be enough to restore Dragonite’s former glory as a core meta Dragon-type Pokemon. Sacrificing Hurricane for Superpower further accentuates its issues against Fairy-type Pokemon, but those are matchups that Dragonite isn’t winning against regardless. In the Great League and the Ultra League, Superpower allows Dragonite to go toe to toe against Galarian Stunfisk, and not even the mighty Registeel can leave the matchup unscathed.
Ledian - Dynamic Punch
Luck may be a lady, but it sure isn’t a Ledian. Dynamic Punch is a good, if slow, charge move and does wonders to help Ledian’s coverage profile, but it just isn’t enough on its own. It’s fast move Bug Bite, isn’t a terrible move but it doesn’t generate energy that quickly. And a lack of energy generation makes it harder for Ledian to take advantage of this new Charge Move dynamic. Adding Dynamic punch doesn’t flip many matchups, though it does pick up wins over Diggersby, Lickitung and Walrein in the 0s. That being said, Dynamic Punch is still a great upgrade in coverage and makes Ledian more dangerous post farm down. This could make it valuable as a counterswap or closer given the right meta. What on earth kind of meta it would take to make Ledian viable remains to be seen.
Lanturn - Surf
Lanturn, officially the Light Pokémon, was destined to see a buff this season and a lower energy-cost Charged Attack was exactly what it needed to become a big player. With Spark, Lanturn narrows the margin of loss against many common Fighting-type and Ground-type Pokémon or potentially even stealing wins in certain shield scenarios against Vigoroth, Scrafty, Sableye, Cofagrigus, Galvantula, and Medicham. Consistency is key, and it narrowly wins or loses many neutral matchups now and no longer struggles against Bastiodon with shields in play. With Water Gun, Lanturn now bolsters its consistency even further against Ground-types, pulling off wins against Nidoqueen and Galarian Stunfisk if they fail to successfully bait. Surf Lanturn could have a profound impact on the Water-type dynamics within the open Great League meta and potentially promote more Grass-types and hard counter matchups.
Espeon - Psychic Fangs
While it’s not a Pokémon whose stats translate particularly well to the CP capped leagues of Pokémon GO, Psychic Fangs is objectively a very big help to Espeon, especially in the Master League Premier meta. Psychic Fangs gives Espeon a cheap charge move to use in tandem with the strong Shadow Ball that it received in the second Eevee Community Day back in 2021. Unfortunately due to its stats and general lack of bulk, it won’t be finding many opportunities to be using this new nuke-and-bait charge move dynamic in the lower leagues, but it’s undeniably better than it previously was. In the Great League, Espeon picks up 10 new wins, making Espeon go 14-32 vs the Great League, up from 5-42. Definitely not ideal, but it’s hard to deny that Psychic Fangs clearly makes Espeon better here. In the Ultra League, Espeon grabs 7 new wins, bringing its win-loss vs the Ultra League meta up from 5-45 to 13-37. While this update won’t make a meta mon out of Espeon in the Great and Ultra leagues, it should give trainers a fun option looking to spice things up in their battles.
The biggest win for Espeon, however, is easily in the Master League Premier metagame. With the Psychic Fangs utility, Espeon goes up to 15-21 vs the metagame, up from a measly 4-32. In its losses, Espeon is still able to take many matchups to a wire’s edge, opening potential as a strong safe swap option. The wins that it picks up are pretty notable as well, those being Charizard, Sh-Dragonite, Excadrill, Gyarados, Haxorus, Hippowdon, Mamoswine, Metagross, Swampert, and Typhlosion. Considering its only hard losses are Dragon Tail Dragonite, Electivire, Garchomp, Magnezone, and Snorlax, Espeon proves to have a lot of potential in the Master League Premier metagame.
Girafarig - Psychic Fangs, Double Kick
The strong and STAB Fast Move Confusion was never the Giraffe’s problem. The problem was that its long neck was carrying the baggage of Psychic and Thunderbolt as its charge attacks. In comes Psychic Fangs. A move under 50 energy?! That lowers the opponent’s defense and synergizes with Confusion to allow you to tap down the other Mon regardless of shields? Sign me up. May especially benefit Shadow Girafarig. Changing out Psychic for Psychic Fangs in a meta where Girafarig might see play, like Retro Cup, leads to a significant uptick in performance, picking up new wins over the likes of Altaria and Lickitung.
The addition of Double Kick may seem insignificant on the surface, but it does open up Girafarig to do some unusual things. It can start flipping some Dark-type matchups in two shield scenarios, such as Obstagoon and Scrafty, and Double Kick + Thunderbolt can put some more serious pressure on Mandibuzz. This might make Girafarig a more balanced selection instead of getting easily walled by Darks, although it removes Giraf’s ability to be a tap tap tap superstar.
Steelix - Psychic Fangs
Steelix is a Pokémon that has already seen a lot of love from previous move updates. First we had the Dragon Tail buff, which gave it a much needed damage increase; and second we had the Crunch buff, which gave Crunch a 30% chance to lower enemy defense. Now, Steelix is getting yet another round of help from the balance team. Psychic Fangs is slated to be one of the biggest helps to Steelix’s movepool since the Dragon Tail buff, giving it a new cheapest charge move (down to 35 energy from Crunch’s 45!). As we’ve seen with Nidoqueen, a defense debuffing move when used with a strong damaging fast move can do some serious damage, and Steelix is no exception. In the Great League, Steelix picks up 5 additional wins in the 1-shield scenario (Mandibuzz, Sableye, A-Ninetales, Venusaur, Wigglytuff) at the cost of dropping 2 (D-Deoxys an Jellicent) when compared to its previous Earthquake+Crunch moveset, although both of those new losses are still very close! In the Ultra League, however, is where this move update really shines. Steelix’s bulk in the Ultra League thanks to XLs give it a lot more opportunities to fire off this new Psychic Fangs moveset addition. Unlike in the Great League, no matchups are dropped. In addition, it picks up 4 important matchups in the form of Mandibuzz, Sirfetchd, Toxicroak, and Gyarados. Many of which would be considered decent checks to Steelix. Keep an eye out for any Onix spawns in the wild, because Steelix might be just what your team needs in the near future!
Miltank - Rollout
As already mentioned in the Rollout section of this article, Miltank was likely in Niantic’s minds when they decided to change the energy generation of Rollout. Now they are giving it the move in a nerfed form that has the same energy generation as Greedent’s Bullet Seed. At 14 energy, Rollout would likely have been the preferred fast move on Miltank, but instead it has competition from an existing fast move–the buffed Tackle. The base cycle DPT of STAB Tackle into STAB Body Slam is 8.86 over the 13 turns, versus 8.4 for non-STAB Rollout into STAB Body Slam over the 10 turns. As such, Tackle does more DPT on a complete cycle, and more DPT before reaching a charged move, only doing less DPT on the turns between when Rollout reaches a move and Tackle doesn’t. It should also be noted that this calculation underestimates the relative value of Tackle because a 1-turn move typically benefits more from rounding in the damage formula than a 3-turn move. As such, Tackle looks likely to be the preferred move in a neutral matchup. Rollout may still have its uses reaching coverage moves faster, especially against Ghosts that can cut Tackle down to 1 damage per move, but this moveset addition may be less relevant than expected, given the Tackle buff.
Dunsparce - Rollout
Niantic have found another Normal type to which to roll out this move. Unlike Miltank, Dunsparce does not learn Tackle, so will have little viable alternative to Rollout. It also has a different role from the Body Slamming Normal-types. Unable to spam a STAB move for only 35 energy, it relies on two slower, non-STAB moves that fortunately have almost perfect type coverage. Drill Run + Rock Slide is the same as the EdgeQuake type coverage combination popular in the main series games and successful on things like Galarian Stunfisk in Pokémon Go. With good bulk and this respectable charged move pairing, Dunsparce may start crawling out of its cave and become a more common sighting in PvP.
Manectric - Psychic Fangs
Remember in the Arcanine section how we brought up the ability to perform as a second Luxray with the moveset Snarl + Psychic Fangs + Wild Charge? You did read that section and not skip over it because it was Arcanine, right? RIGHT? Anyways, if that didn’t excite you, how about yet another potential Luxray clone in the making! Manectric can use Psychic Fangs to set-up powerful Wild Charges, but unlike Arcanine and Luxray it can also set-up Overheats. In the past, you could shield past a Manectric as you knew all it had to offer was high powered charged attacks. Now it will leave you guessing. That is, if you ever meet someone brave enough to run a Manectric. Similar to Arcanine, this also opens up a potential Thunder Fang + Psychic Fangs combination, which could be particularly potent on Shadow Manectric. Improvements are improvements, even if sometimes they might have limited meta impact.
Camerupt - Incinerate
Mediocre stats, bad typing, and Fire’s awkward place in the meta do more to hurt Camerupt than having Ember as a fast move does. That being said, the addition of Incinerate does seem to generally raise its level of performance. It doesn’t provide a crazy high win rate but it does lead to a lot of closer losses, so that’s something. It does pick up some nice matchups against the likes of Skarmory and Shadow K9, but the reduction in Fast Move damage leads to trouble in matchups like Alolan Ninetales and Trevenant. No one will ever forget !camerupt, but you may not want to bring Camerupt into battle regardless of this move addition.
Swoobat - Psychic Fangs
You get Psychic Fangs, you get Psychic Fangs, and you get Psychic Fangs! Lots of Pokémon are getting Psychic Fangs in this update. And Swoobat is certainly one of them! This is a nice buff for a Pokémon that is never used. It likely won’t see much play, but could find some small niche in the Willpower Cup. Back in Silph Season 1, Xatu, another Psychic/flying type with generally lackluster moves and stats, was an all star in the Nightmare Cup. Could Swoobat find a similar niche? Unlikely, as power creep has made many other Psychic picks much improved since then. But it could be a nice spice pick. Overall it is just nice seeing some love on never-used Pokémon like Swoobat and low distribution moves like Psychic Fangs. In a moveset update as big as this, not every change can be meta shaking. Sometimes improvements to the bottom end are a step in the right direction as well.
Golisopod - Shadow Claw
Destined to be a Walrein wall, particularly in Ultra League where Araquanid does not have the stats to compete, Golisopod has spammy charged attack X-Scissor and solid fast attack Fury Cutter, but needed a strong charged attack for coverage, such as Close Combat, Scald, or Payback. So what did it get? A new fast attack. It is still saddled with mediocre options Aqua Jet, and Aerial Ace. Of Golisopod’s three charge attacks, the hardest hitting is, somehow, Aerial Ace. On top of that, Walrein is getting a nerf with an increase in Icicle Spear energy. All this together means this Golisopod upgrade is unlikely to provide much relevance at all. That being said, this does set-up a more promising future for Golisopod, should it get one of those new charged attacks, or just get a buff to one of its underpowered moves.
Nihilego - Poison Jab
In the Master League, Nihilego has incredible stats and a unique corebreaking potential, but was held back by having unviable Fast Attacks. The addition of Poison Jab finally allows Nihilego to fulfill its role reliably, boasting dominating matchups against Zacian, Charmers, and Flying-type Pokemon such as Lugia, Ho-Oh, and Yveltal. It is even capable of going toe to toe against Giratina Origin despite Poison Jab being resisted! With that said, Rock/Poison still remains a polarizing type combination, and Nihilego remains completely incapable of getting past the omnipresent Steel- and Ground-type Pokemon in the Master League metagame.
Runerigus - Shadow Claw
Shadow claw is a MASSIVE upgrade for Runerigus. Currently, with only Astonish in its Fast Move pool, it has no viability in any league. However, with Shadow Claw, it will get one of the best Fast Moves in the game to propel it forward. Sound familiar? This was a similar change to its Unova coffin relative, Cofagrigus. It differs from Cofagrigus in two primary ways. Firstly Sand Tomb gives it a faster Charged Attack; the opponent might shield a Sand Tomb bait and then take a devastating Shadow Ball with -1 Defense. Secondly Runerigus is a Ground type. Although it provides useful resistances to Rock and Electric, the defensive typing of Ground is a bit troublesome for Runerigus. Both GL and UL are rampant with Grass/Pseudo-Grass Pokemon (Trevanant, Venusaur, Cresselia), Water Pokemon (Swampert, Azumarill, Politoed, Jellicent, Tapu Fini) and Ice Pokemon (mostly just Walrein).
Similarly to Cofagrigus, Runerigus struggles to deal heavy damage to Dark or Normal type Pokemon (Obstagoon, Umbreon, Scrafty, Mandibuzz, Greedent, Lickitung) which can prove to be problematic in GL and UL leagues that are frequented by both of those types. Being weak to so much of the meta without a proper coverage move to hit them with will give Runerigus limitations that are all too familiar to its Unova cousin.
One final aspect of Runerigus is the move Rock Tomb. It’s a high energy coverage move that provides slightly more DPE than Sand Tomb. Though it can provide some okay damage and an Attack debuff, it may be more niche than Sand Tomb and only helps Runerigus for damage in matchups like Noctowl and Pidgeot, as a resisted Shadow Ball is still better than a neutral Rock Tomb.