Graphic By: Mikeiff

Written By: Tangent444

Special thanks: Nesabethan, NHoff, PolymersUp, Twastell, and everyone else on the GO Stadium team




In the Guardian Cup Meta Snapshot graphic, we attempt to distill the Guardian 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 Concentrated Meta —

  • Counter Users: Machamp, Toxicroak, Vigoroth

  • Ghosts: Gourgeist, Alolan Marowak

  • Normal/Fliers: Noctowl, Pidgeot

  • Fires: Ninetales, Talonflame, 

  • Waters: Castform Rainy, Mantine

  • Dragons: Dragonite

  • Electrics: Electivire, Galvantula

  • Grounds: Gliscor, Steelix


The Guardian Cup meta has a variety of viable options, but looks like it will focus on these central figures. A few important details to know about the concentrated meta and the matchup relationships shown:


  • Counter Users are expected to play a significant role in the meta, due to the sheer dominating power of Counter. Machamp, Vigoroth, and Toxicroak appear to be the three that rise to the top of the meta. Machamp’s access to Rock Slide allows it to fight back with Alolan Marowak, Talonflame, and Mantine harder than most Counter users can muster. Alternatively Machamp could run Payback, which if unshielded could flip the matchup with Gourgeist, although Cross Chop and Rock Slide is the most likely bet to see action. Toxicroak has a niche of defeating most of the other Counter users, as it resists all of Machamp’s moves and defeats Vigoroth as long as it can avoid getting Bulldozed. Vigoroth is always in the conversation whenever it is eligible, as it has the ability to flip some matchups with Toxicroak and Machamp with an energy advantage and provides general safety in being able to win some scenarios with Flying-types which seemingly should not be possible. However, Gourgeist looms large as one of the hardest Vigoroth walls in the game.  

  • Ghost types are one of the natural answers to the Counter users, thanks to their double resistance to Fighting-type moves. This meta appears to be a chance for Gourgeist to break out, as its typing and bulk is ideal for taking out all of the Counter users (just as long as it avoids a surprise Payback from Machamp). Alolan Marowak does not exert the same level of dominance against the Counter users due to Rock and Ground weaknesses, but presents an alternative way to check the Counter users while also putting pressure on other Fire-type picks thanks to its Fire-type resistance and Bone Club, Shadow Bone, and Shadow Ball. Alolan Marowak also picks up an additional weakness to Water-type picks, which is an area where Gourgeist shines brighter. 

  • Normal/Flying types Pidgeot and Noctowl have a primary objective within this meta: To hard wall Gourgeist in a way that nothing else can. These two are a nightmare for the Ghost-types in Guardian Cup, but have to be wary of Electric-types and Steelix, both of which might be common picks.. 

  • Fire types put pressure on Gourgeist and Steelix, while fearing Water-types and Dragonite. Ninetales’ combination of Weather Ball Fire and Overheat is dangerous for most of the meta, but leaves it walled by fellow Fire-types. However, the fact that Talonflame needs to debuff itself with Brave Bird to do any neutral damage to Ninetales means that this matchup is not sure-fire for either side. Talonflame has its ever-powerful standard moveset combination, and picks up a niche due to its Counter resistance. However, it actually is not a sure-fire bet to beat any of the Counter users, as even Toxicroak has some win scenarios when at an energy advantage. Talonflame also has to watch out for Electric-type moves that will be present in the meta.

  • Water-types deal with Fire-types and Gliscor very hard, but have to be on the lookout for Electric-types. Rainy Castform is a solid choice if you are looking for pure Water-type damage with an Electric big stick, which has benefits against Steelix, Noctowl, and other Water-types. Mantine, on the other hand, is able to better match up with Dragonite, Gourgeist, and Counter-users. 

  • Dragonite is the main representative of the Dragon-type role, which presents itself as one of the biggest core-breakers to Grass-Fire-Water triangles within the meta. However, it depends on which ones the opponent brings as it needs to watch out for Gourgeist’s Shadow Ball, Talonflame’s Brave Bird (which gives Talon a shields down win), and Mantine’s Ice Beam. Dragonite can also pick up scenarios with Counter users thanks to its Fighting-type resistance, but has to be wary of its ultimate wall, Steelix.

  • Electric-types put a lot of pressure on Water-types and Flying-types, and present themselves as one of the most sure-fire ways to deal with Mantine. Electrics make for generally safe picks, but do have to be cautious of Ground-types such as Steelix and Gliscor. Electivire has an interesting niche of being able to fight back against Gliscor with Ice Punch or Steelix with Flamethrower; Flamethrower is not enough to overcome Steelix in any even shield scenario but it does leave a dent in its armor. Galvantula is always a threat whenever eligible thanks to the powerful Lunge. You might notice that Galvantula is not shown as being a sure thing to beat the Normal/Flying types, as the arrow is only pointing from Electivire. This is because its matchup with Pidgeot is dicey, as it can lose some scenarios due to the power of Gust with Feather Dance debuffs.

  • Ground-types serve as the ultimate threat to Electric-types, but must be on the lookout for common Water-type picks. Steelix is the big bulky wall that generally shuts down these Electrics the hardest and has nice matchups with Flying-types such as Mantine and Pidgeot, but has added weakness to the Counter-users and Fire-types. Gliscor flips the areas that Steelix struggles with to more positive matchups with Counter-users, Fire-types, and Gourgeist, but in return struggles more with the Flying-types and has to watch out for Electivire’s Ice Punches, two areas where Steelix reigns supreme.


— Alternatives —

  • Poisons: Muk, Skuntank

  • Fighters: Sirfetch’d, Primeape, Poliwrath

  • Grasses: Shiftry, Roserade

  • Fires: Charizard, Magcargo

  • Waters: Alomomola, Empoleon, Pelipper

  • Fliers: Skarmory, Golbat

  • Grounds: Gligar, Donphan

  • Electrics: Luxray, Magnezone, Ampharos

  • Psychics: Gallade, Bronzong, Malamar



Alternatives 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 in terms of usage, but each has their own pros and cons. Some of the alternatives are just as strong as the Pokémon pictured, but their matchup relationships were too complex to include. Other Pokémon not pictured could also have a place in the meta on the right team.