By: u/Tangent444


Special Thanks: u/PolymersUp




— The Setup —


Pokémon GO PvP is sometimes described as Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS). If you lead with Rock and your opponent leads with Paper, some might say that’s game over. Except, sometimes it isn’t. Safe Switching and the Sacrificial Swap are strategies that can help you reduce the RPS nature of lead calls, regain your footing, and climb your way back into the match. This month, there will be a series of Safe Switch articles focusing on one specific Pokemon. We start off what might be arguably one of the strongest Safe Switches we have ever seen in a Meta with Lapras. As you will see, Lapras has a number of tools to fight its most common would-be counters when given an energy lead.




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. If any terms or abbreviations are unfamiliar to you, please read the section at the bottom of the post for an explanation.


— Concentrated Meta —


This Safe and Sacrificial Switch analysis focuses on Pokemon in the following concentrated Catacomb Cup Meta. Pokemon outside of this concentrated Meta will only be looked at situationally.



  • Bug Types: Beedrill, Pinsir, Scolipede, Venomoth, Vespiquen

  • Dark Types: Drapion, Alolan Muk, Sableye, Skuntank, Umbreon, Zweilous

  • Grass Types: Breloom, Jumpluff, Ludicolo, Sceptile, Shiftry, Tangrowth, Venusaur, Victreebel

  • Ice Types: Beartic, Castform (Snowy), Froslass, Glalie, Lapras, Sealeo

  • Rock Types: Carracosta, Alolan Golem, Alolan Graveler, Magcargo, Omastar, Sudowoodo

Lapras Ice ShardL + Surf + Skull Bash


Clean Wins (All Even-Shield Scenarios)

  • Lapras has a double resistance to Ice type damage, which means it wins against most Meta Ice types, including Froslass, Glalie, Beartic, and especially Snowy Castform. The 2S matchup with Beartic gets very close but Lapras can just hang on. For similar reasons, Lapras also wins against Ice Fang Drapion, and usually does the same to Bite Drapion (though Bite + Fell Stinger can get very close).

  • Ice is super effective against Flying type Pokemon, giving Lapras the win against Vespiquen and Jumpluff. Lapras can farm down Jumpluff with just Ice Shard. It must shield once, but finishes with 100 energy which almost certainly will give you back the shield used. From even energy, Jumpluff is still a minimum two Bullet Seed away from another Aerial Ace, which means Lapras should be safe as a counter-switch against Jumpluff. Lapras cannot farm down Vespiquen as it does with Jumpluff. Lapras should throw one Surf, shield once, and potentially farm down the rest. If Lapras gets shield baited by X-Scissor and then Vespiquen lands a Power Gem, farming down becomes much riskier and Lapras should likely chose to throw a second Surf.

  • There are a few neutral matchup wins of note. Lapras pulls ahead and defeats Skuntank and Venomoth in all scenarios. Lapras also has IV-dependent wins against Beedrill and Scolipede. These matchups require an Ice Shard breakpoint (109.68 to guarantee for Beedrill and 106.28 to guarantee for Scolipede) to guarantee the win. Without the breakpoint, High SP Beedrill can win 1S with a shield bait using (XS)-DR-XS but loses 0S and 2S, and Scolipede can win 1S if it is running Megahorn with a shield bait using (XS)-MH but similarly loses 0S and 2S.

Situational Wins (Some Even-Shield Scenarios)

  • Grass types are a challenge for Lapras, but it has some winning scenarios. Against Venusaur, Lapras can sometimes win the 1S or 2S matchup with lesser IV versions of Venusaur (i.e. not a High SP). Lapras should build two Surfs and fire them back-to-back. Venusaur should do the same thing and prepare to fire back-to-back Frenzy Plants, but if Venusaur fires Frenzy Plant as soon as it has it, Lapras has its best chance at winning 2S. Ice Shard shreds Breloom, allowing Lapras to win the 1S and (hypothetical) 2S matchups, but loses 0S which means Lapras needs to block. High SP Breloom goes down in the 1S with a Seed Bomb ready, which means Lapras only is safe if Breloom does not have an energy advantage. Lapras wins the 1S against Sceptile, but can lose the 0S and 2S scenarios to High SP versions of Bullet Seed Sceptile, and 0S to High SP versions of Fury Cutter Sceptile. Lapras wins 1S against Shiftry, but loses 0S and can lose 2S as well if it throws charge moves. Lapras should use Ice Shard to knock Shiftry out before it can reach three Leaf Blades, shielding once. Lapras has IV- and bait-dependent wins against Bubble Ludicolo. Lapras can sometimes defeat Tangrowth in 2S, though will fall to High SP Tangrowth.

  • Rock types can be a bigger challenge than Grass types for Lapras in this Meta, but Lapras does have win conditions thanks to Ice Shard often not being resisted and Surf often being super-effective. Lapras wins against the biggest Rock in the Meta, Sudowoodo, in 2S (but loses other even-shield scenarios). Lapras can win the 1S against Alolan Graveler if Graveler does not land a Stone Edge, but loses 0S and 2S to straight Rock Blast. Alolan Golem’s higher Attack means that Rock Blast can threaten a KO on Lapras, but Lapras can win 0S and a close IV dependent 1S with Alolan Golem that just uses Rock Blast. Lapras wins 1S against Magcargo, but loses 0S and 2S.

  • Pinsir is one of Lapras’ threats, but Lapras can win 2S if Pinsir does not do any shield-baiting, and can win in a number of other even-shield scenarios if Pinsir tries for an X-Scissor shield bait but Lapras does not shield. A High SP Lapras could win the 1S scenario even when shield baited, but it is a very small margin of health win.

  • For neutral matchups, Lapras generally has a big Meta-relevant win against Umbreon by going straight Skull Bash. The matchup is incredibly close, and Lapras needs to play it carefully. Lapras typically wants to shield the first charge move (especially if Umbreon is carrying Dark Pulse), and throw Skull Bash the first chance it gets. Once Lapras has landed a Skull Bash, it can start going for Surf. The win is situational for a few reasons. Dark Pulse’s higher damage gives Lapras a much tougher time in this matchup, and Umbreon can sometimes win the 2S and a few IV dependent 0S wins (Umbreon requires enough Attack to knock out Lapras before it reaches a second Skull Bash, along with Lapras not having a High SP). Foul Play Umbreon is generally a Lapras win in all even-shield scenarios, so if you know from previous battles that Umbreon has Foul play, Lapras can elect not to shield first. It’s a very intricate matchup, and one where you will want to play around on PvPoke sandbox mode and also play test with sparring partners to get it right.

  • Additional neutral matchups: Against Zweilous, Lapras wins 1S with straight Surf, but can struggle more in 0S and 2S. Zweilous wins 0S with straight Body Slam, but Lapras can throw one Surf, block the second Body Slam, and farm down. In 2S, Lapras loses if it throws Surf twice, but it can get an incredibly dangerous win if it only throws the first Surf (shielded) and then farms down. Zweilous goes down with a Body Slam ready, which means this is generally not possible if countering a Zweilous switch and only works from even energy. Against Sableye, Lapras loses 0S if Sableye goes straight Foul Play, and can lose 1S if Sableye lands a Power Gem, but otherwise Lapras wins (Lapras wins 0S if Sableye goes straight for Power Gem, 1S if Sableye only uses Foul Play, and wins 2S). Lapras wins against Snarl Alolan Muk in all even shield scenarios, but can lose 1S to Poison Jab Alolan Muk in 1S if it is shield baited (but still wins 0S and 2S).

  • For the Lapras mirror match, the Attack stat of Lapras is extremely important for determining CMP. Lapras getting to Skull Bash first allows it to gain the defense debuff before High SP Lapras does. This is huge, as default IV Lapras on PvPoke wins the 0S and 1S matchup with Rank 1 Lapras, even when it is shield baited by a Surf.

Wins with Energy Advantage

  • With one Ice Shard of energy advantage, Lapras improves its matchups with a variety of Rock type Pokemon. Lapras can win 0S against one of its biggest threats, Carracosta, as long as Carracosta does not have a very High SP (which is likely given the challenge of finding good IV Tirtouga to evolve). It can now win the 1S against Alolan Graveler and Alolan Golem with increased consistency, as they are now both forced to use straight Rock Blast. Alolan Golem may still be out of reach in 1S if Lapras does not have High SP, and both are still out of reach in the 2S scenario. Lapras now wins all even-shield scenarios with Rock Slide Omastar (though Omastar carrying Rock Blast and Rock Slide together can still sometimes pull off the win with the correct shield baiting). Lapras also picks up a very close Magcargo win in 2S.

  • With one Ice Shard of energy advantage, Lapras improves its matchup with Pinsir. It can more consistently win all even-shield scenarios if Pinsir goes straight Close Combat, and can also win 1S if Pinsir does a shield bait. Lapras can now also defeat Sableye in 0S, no matter which move Sableye uses.

Meta Threats

  • Razor Leaf users, while not prominent in the Meta, continue to be the biggest threat to Lapras. Ludicolo’s typing is perfect for taking out Lapras, being neutral to ice Shard and double resisting Surf. Victreebel threatens Lapras with just Razor Leaf, though needs to watch out for a High SP Lapras being able to live long enough to throw back-to-back Surfs and force a shield. Additional Razor Leaf users and bulky Grass types (Bellosom, Meganium) can also threaten Lapras.

  • While Lapras does have win conditions against a number of Rock and Grass types, particularly with an energy advantage, they still pose a big threat to it. Sudowoodo, Venusaur, Carracosta, Alolan Graveler/Golem, and Pinsir are all Pokemon that Lapras would like to avoid, and most force Lapras to use a shield disadvantage to achieve any of its win conditions, which can be costly.


  • Lapras is arguably the strongest Safe Switch candidate in the Catacomb Cup, and quite possibly any Silph Meta to date. It has win conditions against almost everything in the Meta, particularly with energy advantage, thanks to Surf’s coverage against Rock types and Ice Shard hurting Grass types. It’s biggest threat, Razor Leaf users, are risky to use in a Meta where Grass is double resisted by Bug/Flying, Bug/Poison, Grass/Flying, and Grass/Poison dual types. To defend the Lapras Safe Switch, consider a) using a lead Pokemon that Lapras struggles to switch in against, b) using Pokemon like Sudowoodo or Venusaur that force Lapras to run a shield deficit (and pair them with Pokemon that can take advantage of the extra shield), c) use Rock types such as Alolan Graveler, Alolan Golem, and Carracosta to put heavy pressure on Lapras, or d) run a hard counter to shut down or bench pressure dissuade the Lapras Safe Switch.



— Terms and Abbreviations —


A Safe Switch is a Pokémon that is well-suited to switch in against your opponent should you find yourself immediately in a bad position from the lead. While the opponent reacts and switches to an appropriate counter (called a Counter Switch), the Safe Switch often gains a slight energy advantage on the incoming Pokémon. Safe Switches often have solid matchups across the core Meta, have excellent coverage move options to threaten their top counters, and ideally can flip some losses to wins with a modest energy lead. When executed well, this usually nets the trainer a win along with switch advantage or possibly a loss with a shield advantage, a much better situation than they were in initially. Hex Dusclops in Sinister Cup was an example of this strategy in action. For Safe Switching scenarios, we will focus on 1S matchups, since you often will need to invest one shield to flip the initial matchup. Situationally, we will look at 2S matchups since we are discussing how to recover from a bad lead, and using both shields is an option if winning switch advantage is paramount.


A Sacrificial Swap is a Pokémon that is used as bait to draw out the opposing hard counter, which often is then subsequently farmed by the next Pokémon. An excellent example of this was Quagsire or Whiscash in Tempest Cup. They could be switched in to draw out the opposing Tropius or Abomasnow, get defeated quickly, and allow Skarmory or Altaria to farm energy against the now trapped Grass type.


Clean Wins (All Even Shield Scenarios) The featured Pokemon gets consistent wins from even energy in the 0v0, 1v1, and 2v2 shield scenarios.


Situational Wins (Some Even Shield Scenarios) The featured Pokemon gets situational wins and losses depending on shield baiting or different shield scenarios.


Wins with Energy Advantage The featured Pokemon can potentially pick up these wins with energy advantage.


Meta Threats: If your opponent brings one of these Pokémon, you should be cautious of overusing the Safe Switch.


Teammate Options for Sacrificial Swap: These Pokémon can pair with your Safe Switch and transform it into a Sacrificial Swap should you be immediately met with its hard counter.


Verdict: A brief conclusion of the effectiveness of this Pokémon as a Switch.


Here, we use 0S, 1S, and 2S to refer to various even-shield scenarios. Shield baiting is when you use a lower energy charge move to draw a shield from your opponent prior to landing the higher DPE move. Occasionally, we will use a Move Sequence Summary to illustrate a bait-dependent matchup, such as (BC)-SB-BC—this means the first Bone Club was shielded and A-Marowak needs to land both a Shadow Ball and a Bone Club to win.


High Stat Product (SP) is generally preferred when optimizing IVs for PvP in Great or Ultra League due to the CP caps; however, breakpoint and bulkpoint considerations can provide a pivotal edge against your competition in key matchups. A breakpoint (BrP) is an Attack value threshold at which your fast (or charge) move now does more damage per move in a specific matchup. These are not generalizable as they are dependent on multiple factors: base move damage, your Attack value, and your opponent’s Defense value. Conversely, a bulkpoint (BuP) is the Defense value threshold at which you prevent a specific opposing Pokémon from reaching a BrP.


L denotes a Legacy move


CMP – Charge Move Priority


DPT – Damage per Turn


EPT – Energy per Turn


DPE – Damage per Energy


STAB – Same-Type Attack Bonus