In the previous part of this series focusing on going over all the Great League limited format relevant Pokémon, we took a look at the iconic Froslass, grungy Dark/Poisons, heartwarming Fire types and heartstopping Electric types. 

Following such a selection, why not relax with some nicer, kinder creatures, such as the beloved Mew? This brief moment of respite will then be followed by going over all the 'mons whose specialty and passion is punching other 'mons fast and incredibly hard, in all of their varieties! 



Mew, the Neverchanging 


How do you categorize a Pokémon that can do everything?

You can't, not really. It's fortunate then that despite its incomparably massive movepool, Mew ends up being limited in many ways, and oftentimes pigeonholed into just a couple specific movesets. Which... doesn't really sound right now, does it? Even excluding terrible and expensive moves, Mew still ends up with five very good Fast Attacks (Dragon Tail, Poison Jab, Shadow Claw, Snarl, Volt Switch), and ten good to amazing Charged Attacks (Dark Pulse, Dragon Claw, Flame Charge, Grass Knot, Ice Beam, Psyshock, Rock Slide, Surf, Wild Charge, Overheat). There's enough in here to really handle everything, so what's the hold up?

Mew might have over forty moves in its movepool, but just like every other Pokémon, it only has three move slots, one Fast, two Charged. In addition, the two most popular Trainer Battle formats, GO Battle League and show-six, pick-three style tournaments (such as those organized by grassroots communities or officially by Play! Pokémon) further limit the practical utility of Mew's nominal flexibility. There's absolutely no telling what one will face in GO Battle League, providing an incentive to stick to the safest, most all around useful moveset, and with most show-six, pick-three formats prohibiting changing Pokémon movesets between rounds, the same incentive applies there as well. The one popular mode of competition where Mew can make full use of its flexibility is Silph Factions, with their format permitting players to change their Pokémon’s movesets after their opponent’s team is revealed.

So, with the aforementioned pressure to stick to the best all around useful and safe moveset, what does that moveset turn out to be? The specific selection of the second Charged Attack and occasionally Fast Attack too depends heavily on the format, but it nearly always takes a form of either Shadow Claw or Volt Switch for the Fast Attack, and Wild Charge paired with bait or coverage for the Charged Attack slots. Oh, you didn't think we were actually done with the Electric section now did you?

We Are Electric cont.

Compared to most other Wild Charge users though, Mew is a somewhat underwhelming one, due to its one drawback that haunts it no matter the format or moveset. It might have access to over three dozen moves, but it only gets STAB on a couple of them, more often than not ending up as a mishmash of two other Pokémon but worse than either of them at their respective role. That's not to say there's no value in being a mishmash like that, the very popular combo of Wild Charge + Surf lets Mew act as a Wild Charge user that can muscle past opposing Ground types, but at the price of its Wild Charge being much more underwhelming than the ones tossed by the actual Electric-types. As one example, Magnezone's Wild Charge one-shots a Politoed from 100 to 0, while Mew's doesn't even bring it into red (under 25% HP), and that's against a target weak to Electric that's not particularly known for its bulk either. 

That's not to say there's no value in that whatsoever or that Mew's flexibility never shines through. In a format such as Venture Cup where Mew was a meta Pokémon and one moveset became more popular than the others (Shadow Claw / Wild Charge / Dragon Claw), spicing it up with something the opponent might not be expecting (e.g. Dark Pulse) could very well win you matches or at least force out shields due to the threat of having something unexpected and spicy.

And that threat, in the end, is why Mew does still have occasional flashes of brilliance in open formats despite being somewhat underwhelming on its own. It's easy to switch Trevenant into opponent Mew when it's running Surf + Wild Charge, but when the [Attack Incoming!] prompt appears, how can you be sure that it's not running Flame Charge instead? Or Dark Pulse? How can you be sure that it won't Grass Knot your Swampert? You can't, not really. It's not at all unrealistic, and it is that threat which gives Mew its main role—pressuring shields out, not with the moves it's actually using, but with of the moves it could be using.


Why is it not good enough for open GL?

The aforementioned threat is nice and dopamine inducing when it does work out, but it doesn't always turn out that way. Many opponents will expect you to be running the most common movesets and act accordingly, which will bite them if you aren't. However, doing that comes with its own risks of tricky matchups and requires a know-how of how to best utilize your particular moveset. Mew, especially if you're running an unusual Mew-set, is definitely not a beginner-friendly Pokémon to pilot.

Regardless of the moveset, Mew's Psychic typing and lack of access to good Fairy / Fighting Charged Attacks leaves it heavily pressured by Dark and Steel types, as well as Lick-reliant Normal Types, especially with its STAB-less Charged Attacks not giving it anywhere near the firepower needed to fight back.

Role: Lead / Shield Pressure / Safe Switch / Swiss Army Knife Pokémon 

Relevance: High

Recommended Moveset: lmao Extremely format dependent, but for open Great League, it's Shadow Claw / Wild Charge / Surf OR Flame Charge

Shadow / Return Viability: N/A  



Punchers that Pull their Punches


Let’s just get this out of the way. Numerically, Counter is the best Fast Attack in the game and very few other moves even come close. It combines very high damage output, equal to that of moves like Confusion and Waterfall, with above average energy generation, on par with moves like Wing Attack or Bullet Punch, and a very relevant super effectiveness profile in a format with many bulky Steel, Dark, Ice, and Normal types. Counter stands head and shoulders above the rest of the Fast Attack movepool, elevating every Pokémon with access to it, regardless of whether or not they're good otherwise.

Which brings me to the subject of this section. While the categories of Pokémon discussed up to this point were uncommon in general in Great League, Fighting types, and Counter users at large, comprise one of the most central open Great League meta forces. This section isn't about your Medichams and Scrafties, however. It's about everything else that falls under the Fighting-type Counter user umbrella, and is normally overshadowed by the aforementioned duo.

And if there's one biggest reason why said 'everything else' is overshadowed, it's its bulk. While neither Medicham nor Scrafty come close to bulk beasts like Azumarill or Umbreon, they're both comfortably tanky and able to easily take on a neutral hit, even a very strong one like a Shadow Swampert Earthquake, and live to continue punching their tales. With one exception, none of the Pokémon in this segment cleanly survive a Shadow Swampert Earthquake, and the one that does only does so because of its resistance to Ground. All the Pokémon in this selection range from "middle of the road" at the high end to "made of wet tissue paper" at the low end when it comes to bulk, and it is the single biggest factor holding them back as a collective. 

While there's more that differentiates these Fighting-types compared to the Electric-types section from the previous part, they still have many traits in common among themselves. They all use Counter, they're all Fighting type, they're all glassy as previously mentioned, and, by and large, their Charged Move selection is typically on the cheaper side, often, though not always, by necessity due to lack of bulk. With that in mind, let's introduce our contestants, see why some are better than the others, and find out what makes them tick:

  • Out of every Pokémon in this section, Toxicroak is by far the most open Great League viable, to the point where a solid argument could be made that it's too good to deserve a spot here. It is nonetheless included because while it sees some play in open Great League and isn't a complete dead weight there, it's been much more of a mainstay in limited formats, and that's what truly matters for this list. Why has it been so good though? Mostly a combination of its typing and moveset. As mentioned earlier, Fighting types are an open Great League mainstay, which makes resisting opposing Counters a major upside, ditto for Grass and Poison itself thanks to Nidoqueen's ascent into relevancy. Offensively, it's no slouch either. Mud Bomb lets it threaten opposing Poison types that normally wall fighters (such as Nidoqueen) and act as a handy bait, while Sludge Bomb serves as its main nuke of choice with the added benefit of letting it force shields from fairies such as Azumarill. Its bulk is still miserable in any sort of neutral matchup, however, and even the slightest bit of Psychic damage threatens to make it croak on the spot.
  • Machamp is most definitely not a Pokémon one would expect to see on this list coming from the metas past, but alas, even the most popular Fighting type of them all had to fall eventually. Before the GO Beyond update, Machamp, and especially its Shadow boosted version, had a definite spot for itself, being to Fighting types what Shadow Victreebel was to Grass types, dishing out a ton of damage very very fast, with Rock Slide helping it force shields out of many Pokémon that resist Fighting, such as Altaria or Alolan Marowak. The times sure are a’ changing however, and nowadays it just doesn't slap like it used to, with even Walrein's rise and Registeel's return to the open Great League meta unable to help keep Machamp relevant. Even thicker Azumarill doesn't help it, the ascension of a ghost that doesn't care about its Rock Slide in Trevenant doesn't help it. Nidoqueen's existence as a whole doesn't help it. And most importantly, wider access to Medicham and Deoxys Defense most definitely doesn't help it. But if you remove these roadblocks and wind it up, Machamp is still more than capable of punching its way through most things on its way.
  • Having neither a good typing nor an excess of arms to do any Cross Chops with, Sirfetch'd brings a leek. And it kinda manages to make it work, in no small part because of Leaf Blade being one of the strongest moves in the game. Even at just 35 energy and without STAB, with Sirfetch’d’s sky high attack Leaf Blade one-shots Swampert, one-shots Walrein after Counter damage, two-shots Azumarill, and even two-shots Shadow Nidoqueen despite it taking neutral damage. And that's not even everything Sirfetch'd can do, Night Slash letting it dent opposing Trevenant and Deoxys Defense and Brave Bird letting it go out with one heck of a bang against everything that doesn't resist Flying. Unfortunately for the bravest of ducks, its extra abysmal bulk makes it just as likely for it to go out with a fizzle, with even moves as spammable as Shadow Swampert's Hydro Cannon basically one-shotting it and forcing it to burn shields just to get to its moves.

Past this point, all remaining copium against any open Great League relevancy goes out the window.

  • Primeape is a Sirfetch'd, but just a tad different, that small tad meaningful enough for it to end up on this side of the disclaimer, however. It's basically just as fragile as Sirfetch'd and also wields Night Slash as a part of its most common moveset, but the second Charged Attack slot is where the differences make themselves known. Ice Punch is a handy bit of coverage, hitting even harder here than it does coming from a Medicham, but combined with Night Slash, it lacks coverage against open Great League meta at times. Elite TM-only Cross Chop lets Primeape embrace its inner Machamp and just keep on dishing reliable Fighting type damage, but if one doesn't care about reliability as much, which isn't unreasonable on such a glass cannon, then the last choice on the list is where it's at: Close Combat. Close Combat comes to characterize many of the Pokémon in this subsection, having the same statline as Wild Charge, though with Counter's hefty Fast Attack pressure Close Combat is just a finisher as opposed to being a Pokémon's only saving grace as was the case with Wild Charge.
  • Remember how I mentioned that one of the Pokémon in this section does manage to survive Shadow Swampert's Earthquake because of its typing? Say hello to Heracross, the bane of any non-American Lunar Cup player. Heracross' bulk is just a smidge higher than that of the previous two Pokémon, and similar to Toxicroak, and its secondary typing lets it resist opposing Fighting and Ground type damage. As opposed to the very poisonous frog however, the staggiest of beetles doesn't resist Poison, and its moveset is worse enough to where it remains relegated to this subsection. As versatile as a Ultra League Heracross can be, in Great League its abysmal bulk leaves it most often limited to one Charged Attack combo in particular, namely Close Combat and Rock Blast. The former was already mentioned, and the latter is a very pitifully statted move whose main purpose is acting as bait and not even one shotting Talonflame. On occasion, Close Combat can be replaced with Megahorn, an incredibly powerful STAB nuke that will instill the fear of Arceus and bugs into anything it hits, especially tanky Psychic types, giving Heracross another handy niche.
  • Blaziken finally gets its section just a scant 4444ish words after its initial mention! Is it any good?! Not really! Fire is still a bad defensive typing, and its bulk is still terrible. Blaze Kick aside, all its other moves are relatively expensive energy-wise. In many cases, Blaziken is to Fighting types what Litleo was to Fire types, a way to sneak into a limited format with its secondary typing, which, while a niche, is nothing to be particularly proud of. The ability to act as a soft check to the Walrein + Trevenant core is nice, but Obstagoon does that way, way better.
  • Hitmonchan... is quite neat, at least on paper. Having access to all three elemental punches, Power-up Punch and even Close Combat, it could feasibly play a role similar to that of Hypno for Psychic types, pairing a meta-relevant flavored punch with a powerful nuke, or going double punch for coverage. It's even slightly less glassy than its brethren, surely there's something worthwhile in here, right? There inarguably is, but while every other prior Pokémon on this list managed to end up being core meta in at least one limited format, even Blaziken, Hitmonchan never really managed to find a niche for itself. Being mono-Fighting type, it has to compete with everything else on this list for a team slot, and there just hasn't been a format where its particular blend of customizable coverage had an edge over Night Slashes, Leaf Blades or even Cross Chops of its fellow fighters.
  • Part of Hitmonchan's failure to achieve relevance is the fact that its own evolutionary sibling, Hitmontop, tends to do better at the very specific niche of pulling off double-tap Close Combats, taking even that from Chanchan. Toptop is by far the bulkiest Pokémon in this section, reaching the unprecedented heights of approximately Swampert bulk. This modest sounding advantage turns out to be important when your only goal in life is to Counter someone 13 times and press the Close Combat button two times in a row, oftentimes requiring Hitmontop to only commit one shield in that pursuit and not two like other Fighting types would demand. This is Hitmontop's only niche though, as its only other usable Charged Attack is 55 energy Stone Edge, leaving it unable to bait and slower than any other fighter to actually get to a move.
  • Lucario is not a good Pokémon. It hasn't been relevant even in limited formats since Kingdom Cup, and that was in 2019. The only reason it's at #19 on PvPoke's Great League ranking is because it has the perfect combination of traits to game the algorithm used for ranking, namely a combination of a cheap bait move and powerful nuke with a lot of neutral coverage to throw after getting through the opponent's shield with the bait move. It's hard to come up with a duet of moves more perfectly suited for that purpose than Power-up Punch and Shadow Ball, which is exactly what every Pokémon "artist's" favorite canine gets. Other than gaming the PvPoke rankings, Lucario has no real purpose however- it's too bait reliant and way, WAY too brittle to see any play in competently designed limited formats anymore. Yes, I know that one trainer qualified to Worlds with it. That’s what one might call a “flex”.

Why is it not good enough for open GL?

As opposed to most previous sections, there most definitely are STAB Counter users good enough for open Great League, shifting the question from "why is this archetype of mons not good enough" to "why are these specific Pokémon not good enough". While the former requires a look at the meta to sufficiently answer, the latter more often than not comes down to "there are better Pokémon in this category", such as the case here. 

Don't get me wrong, Toxicroak most definitely is open Great League viable, and both Machamp and Sirfetch'd are borderline viable too, the latter even got top 4 at Regionals for crying out loud. The rest of the featured fighters, however, just pale in comparison both with the aforementioned trio but especially with Medicham and Scrafty.

Role: Fighter - Fast Attack pressure, anti-Steel, anti-Normal 

Relevance: High for Toxicroak, Medium-Low for the rest

Recommended Movesets:

  • Toxicroak: Counter / Mud Bomb / Sludge Bomb OR Dynamic Punch
  • Machamp: Counter / Cross Chop / Rock Slide OR Payback* 
  • Sirfetch'd: Counter / Leaf Blade / Night Slash OR Brave Bird 
  • Primeape: Counter / Night Slash / Ice Punch OR Cross Chop* OR Close Combat 
  • Heracross: Counter / Rock Blast / Close Combat OR Megahorn 
  • Blaziken: Counter / Blaze Kick / Brave Bird OR Blast Burn* OR Stone Edge 
  • Hitmonchan: Counter / (two of Fire Punch, Ice Punch, Thunder Punch, Power-up Punch, Close Combat)
  • Hitmontop: Counter / Close Combat / Stone Edge 
  • Lucario: No 

Shadow / Return viability:

Everything that can be a Shadow, wants to be Shadow. Unfortunately for the punchy bois, that group only includes Machamp and Hitmonchan, and neither of those Pokémon even dream of getting to a Return.



I don't STAB, I Punch 


When it comes to damage-oriented Fast Attacks, STAB is particularly important to have. There's no real difference between STAB-ful and STAB-less Mud Shot in damage output. For example for many 'mons, there may be literally no difference as the presence of STAB isn't enough to bring the damage to the next breakpoint. But when it comes to heavy hitting Fast Attacks and Pokémon that use them, Fast Attack damage ends up comprising the bulk of their damage output, and dealing 16% less damage than other Pokémon that use that same damage oriented Fast Attack isn't gonna cut it. If you've ever wondered why you've never seen a STAB-less Charm user in GBL (and there are 13 fully evolved Pokémon in that category!), this is one of the main reasons why.

However, Counter is so busted none of that matters! Who needs STAB when you have the best Fast Attack in the game—definitely not the subjects of this section!

If the only difference between the subjects of this and previous sections is absence of STAB, one might wonder why even have multiple sections in the first place. The answer is two-fold. The first reason being the simple practical necessity of splitting up a long, winding section into something more manageable and readable. The second, and more surprising reason, is that some of the STAB-less fighters are more important in their respective formats than many of the STAB-ful fighters.

The logic behind it is straightforward, but not immediately obvious. If you're a mono-Fighting type, unless the limited format works on a whitelist (specific list of allowed Pokémon), or point-based system, you're competing with every other Fighting-type for a team slot. And if you're worse than Machamp, or Sirfetch'd, you're unlikely to ever get that team slot as a result because in most aspects you're just inferior.

If you're a Rock-type competing for a team slot, in a format full of other Rock-types, without Fighting-types as a whole being included, then suddenly you're much more worthwhile because of a unique, very relevant niche. Well, more likely than not you'd be banned in such a format but that's just a technicality. Of course that logic also extends to the dual-type Pokémon in the previous section, such as Toxicroak or Heracross. Would you believe me then if I told you that in a recent (at the time of writing) Silph Arena format, Firefly Cup, it was the first STAB-less entry on this list that was banned and not either of the aforementioned couple?

  • Escavalier is an open meta staple... in Ultra League. However, that definitely doesn't mean that's the only place where it sees any action, being a very commonly seen mainstay in Great League limited formats. From the STAB-ful fighters, its easiest point of comparison is Heracross- they're both Bug type fighters with rather mediocre bulk and an arsenal of useful moves which includes Megahorn. This is where the similarities end and differences begin, starting with the most important one, the typing. Bug/Steel is a really good defensive typing, so good it's gonna have its own section further down the line, but the rough gist is as follows. Similar to Water/Ground and Dark/Poison, Bug/Steel only has one weakness, but as opposed to the decently common Grass or Ground, Bug/Steel is only (doubly) weak to Fire, a rare and whelming typing. Other than that, Bug and Steel balance each other's weaknesses out and leave Escavalier with most of Steel's resistances without having to suffer from (almost) any drawbacks. A superior typing isn't even the only thing Escavalier has going for it though, its movepool also being much more handy than that of its stag beetle cousin. Its cheapest move, Drill Run, might be 5 energy more expensive than Heracross' Rock Blast, but makes up for it by not being garbage and actually being really good, oftentimes one shotting everything weak to Ground after Counter damage. That antidote to Dark/Poisons isn't the only thing Escavalier's packing, though other options are more niche as Drill Run and Megahorn are its most common Charged Attack combo. Acid Spray lets it heavily drop its target’s Defense, and leave it softened up for its teammates to take care of afterwards unless the opponent gives up the switch, not to mention feeling divine if you manage to bait your opponent into shielding it. Recurring villain of this series, Aerial Ace, is as bad here as ever, but lets it one-shot Heracross so I'd be remiss not to mention it.
  • Sudowoodo doesn't have anywhere near as esteemed of a pedigree as Escavalier, but that doesn't mean it's not trying its best. And really, on paper it's really quite solid, having a decent bulk together with the famous EdgeQuake coverage combo in Rock Slide and Earthquake. Solid bulk, Counter, and Galarian Stunfisk's charged moves, why isn't this thing just great? It's a mono Rock type. It's that simple. No matter how hard Sudowoodo tries, it can't overcome that fundamental hurdle of being a mono Rock type, being weak to four of some of the most common offensive types and effectively only having two vaguely useful resistances. It's really solid in a neutral matchup for sure, but with weaknesses like those, how many neutral matchups does it even have? I'm compelled to mention Bonsly since I'm already mentioning Sudowoodo- not because it's good, but because, if you go through the effort of hatching a hundo, Best Buddying it, and bringing it up all the way to level 50, you can get yourself a second Sudowoodo. I'm not sure why you'd ever want one Sudowoodo, let alone two, but hey it's a thing you can do!
  • Midnight Lycanroc took one look at Sudowoodo, and thought "clearly, this guy's problem is that he even tries to have some bulk. I, however, am very intelligent and edgy, and so won't fall for it". For the price of downgrading Sudowoodo supposedly decent bulk down to just flat out glassiness, Edgy Lycanroc gets a cheaper pair of Charged Attacks in Psychic Fangs and Crunch, the former letting it debuff its target's defenses. And honestly, that's not a terrible way to go about it. It's gonna need shields no matter what, but if you're already glassy, then why not go all out on the offensive and put on more and more fast move pressure if they mistakenly let you live stay unfainted?
  • tangent will have to hold me at gunpoint to add donphan

Well I'm glad there are no other good STAB-less Counter users out there, otherwise ending this section here would make me look like a dummy!


Why is it not good enough for open GL?

As good as Escavalier's general package is, it ends up just being too brittle for open Great League play. Even without any real weaknesses, its mediocre neutral bulk leaves it utterly trounced by most meta Great League threats. That's its only real hindrance though, as evidenced by its success in Ultra League, where the increased bulk levels across the board leave it actually capable of taking a hit or two.

Sudowoodo and Lycanroc are mono Rock types. That's it really, nothing more needs to be said.

Role: Fighter 

Relevance: Medium-High for Escavalier, Low for everything else

Recommended Movesets:

  • Escavalier: Counter / Drill Run / Megahorn OR Acid Spray OR Aerial Ace 
  • Sudowoodo / Bonsly: Counter OR Rock Throw / Rock Slide / Earthquake
  • Midnight Lycanroc: Counter / Psychic Fangs / Crunch OR Stone Edge 
  • Donphan: Counter / Body Slam / Earthquake

Shadow / Return viability:

Of the Pokémon listed in this section, only Sudowoodo is available as a Shadow, and only as of recently. As dubious as its bulk is, it really doesn't want it to be any worse than it already is. Not to mention that without STAB, more Fast Attack damage doesn't help as much. Return isn't good for it either- while there are a few Pokémon that resist both halves of EdgeQuake, they're all of types that Sudowoodo autoloses to so Return won't be doing a lot of help here, not to mention Rock + Normal and Ground + Normal are both much worse for coverage than Rock + Ground.

Wait, what's that sound in the distance?



[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]


[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

When discussing STAB-less fighters, there is one name in particular I missed, or more accurately, that I deliberately left out. I didn't do it because the Pokémon in question is substantially different from the rest of them, it's really not, but because it's so, so much more important to highlight than the rest of them. A furtive Pokémon, so easily forgotten by main series games, the rest of its evolutionary family amounting to nothing more than an overlong, sad joke. Not Vigoroth, however.

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

Vigoroth in GO PvP turns out to be really, really good. So good that for the longest time, it was squarely a part of the Great League meta, having only relatively recently been pushed so far outside of it that it merits a spot on this list. And it's not like it's wholly unviable even now—outside of one specific tree-shaped issue—it's just as good as ever.

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

So, what makes it good? Similarly to Sudowoodo, it has an above average bulk, but contrary to Sudowoodo, its bulk isn't a sham, as Normal is a very good defensive typing in GO. Only resisting Ghost sounds harsh, but paired with only being weak to Fighting, which isn't a common Charged Attack type in GO, results in Vigoroth having few miserable matchups and getting to use its bulk everywhere else. And what does it use that bulk for? 

Body Spam.

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

Costing just 35 energy and having 60 base power, Body Slam is one of the best Charged Attacks in GO, and paired with Counter which generates 7 energy per Fast Attack, Vigoroth gets to a Body Slam every 5 Counters. Over, and over, and over again. One Body Slam doesn't do a lot to bulkier opponents, but if you give Vigoroth even an inch, one Body Slam becomes two Body Slams become four Body Slams, and suddenly your tank is down to red health bar and you're scrambling to take the rabid wild monkey Pokémon down before it finishes you off.

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

And it will finish you off before you can finish it off unless you're packing Counter, mostly with its own Counter. Even without STAB, even against opponents that resist it, Counter's raw power shines through in paws of Vigoroth, letting it farm down low HP opponents with ease before unloading its Body Slams on the next Pokémon that comes in. When it comes to consistent, reliable damage output, Vigoroth has no equal.

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

What about its second move then? Does it help Vigoroth with its glaring Ghost weakness that I've been intentionally overlooking up until now? It mostly does, or at least it once did, though Bulldoze, the move in question, isn't that good in the first place. It lets Vigoroth threaten shields out of Steel and Rock types that normally shrug off Body Slam, and lets it do something to Ghosts, but they remain its by far most glaring weakness. 

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

It's not that bad though, right? Alolan Marowak has to respect Bulldoze and can only hit back with middling Bone Clubs, Jellicent has to resort to Bubble Beaming Vigoroth down, even Sableye only single resists Counter and as such is a much more even matchup than it being a Ghost would indicate. So, what's Vigoroth's issue? Why is it not up there with the likes of Medicham and Scrafty as a Great League fighter?


thunder strikes in the distance to the tune of [Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

Trevenant combines being more popular than every other Ghost type in Great League's history sans Sableye with a typing that completely destroys any and all hopes and dreams Vigoroth might have ever hoped and dreamed. All Vigoroth can do is feebly toss energy in a desperate attempt to slowly wear the elder tree down while Trevenant farms up to more energy than it knows what to do with before finishing it off with a Seed Bomb. It's impossible to overstate just how much Trevenant's inclusion to the meta completely messes Vigoroth up, to the point where it becomes a liability in so many situations that the risk of using it makes it not worth it.

[Attack Incoming! Use a Protect Shield?]

In a limited format without Trevenant? You better believe these Body Slams are coming, and they won't ever stop coming. If there's one target that Vigoroth enjoys Body Slamming the most, it's its fellow Normal-types, especially the bulky Lick users that are unable to meaningfully damage it, and which are very likely to share a format with Vigoroth because of their shared typing.


Why is it not good enough for open GL?

Role: Fighter / Safe Switch 

Relevance: Very High 

Recommended Moveset: Counter / Body Slam / Bulldoze 

Shadow / Return viability: N/A 


Counter-feit Fighters

Oh you didn't think we were done with fighters yet were you? What we're done with is Counter, but if you can believe it, there are some fighting types that don't even need Counter to be relevant. That's not to say they wouldn't want Counter—all of them would very, VERY much like to have Counter in their arsenal. But even in its absence, they manage to not be completely useless. Counter. 

How do they do it? With Charged Attacks of course, an endeavor that varies from risky to respectable depending on the Pokémon, though more often on the former end of the spectrum. The main reason for that is that two of the more common Fighting type Charged Attacks, the previously mentioned Close Combat and Superpower, are both self-debuff moves, bringing heavy firepower at the cost of either forcing their user to give up switch afterwards or sit there weakened. Superpower might not be as harsh on the user's Defense as Close Combat, only lowering it by one stage instead of two. However, it makes up for it by also lowering the user's Attack by one stage as well, resulting in the second Superpower in a double tap hitting noticeably weaker than the first one—a fact that experienced opponents will capitalize on.

What about Fighting-type Charged Attacks that don't self debuff? Cross Chop is a good, cheap one, though aside from Machamp, Primeape, and way-too-good-to-be-mentioned-in-this-article Obstagoon, nothing else of real note learns it. Focus Blast is an option too- an extremely expensive, bad option that very few fighters even learn in the first place. What other options are there, hmm... right, Dynamic Punch! That's exactly what we're looking for, middle of the road energy cost at 50, very respectable base power of 90, no self debuff, perfect. Now, what Fighting-types even learn Dynamic Punch... Breloom (bad), Conkeldurr (bad), Hariyama (bad), Machamp (already mentioned), Toxicroak (already mentioned), Medicham (good, too good even), aaaaand the first subject of this section, Poliwrath!

Poliwrath has always lived in the shadow of its rounder, greener Johto cousin, but one would be mistaken to think their use cases are the same, even if they both typically use Mud Shot. While Politoed might have to bait with its Weather Balls in order to land an Earthquake to get past fellow Water types, Poliwrath can go straight Dynamic Punch against many of its opponents. And as far as the realm of limited formats goes, it does work out for it quite well! Often deployed as a dedicated Drapion counter because of resisting the Crunch / Aqua Tail combo, Poliwrath has a comfortable bulk needed to be a relatively safe Pokémon in general, especially if it picks up Ice Punch as its other Charged Attack for coverage. Alternatively, if the limited format its in has a dearth of Grass types, Poliwrath can opt the way of a double nuke, swapping Ice Punch of the most recent addition to its moveset in Scald, a decently powerful Water type Charged Attack with a hefty chance of lowering the opponent's Attack when used. Scald also helps it deal with Froslass, which it is otherwise food for (at least as far as non Shadow Poliwrath goes, more on that later). The Charged Attack options of Dynamic Punch, Scald and Ice Punch do leave one glaring weakness however- it is incapable of touching any fellow Water types that resist Fighting for one reason or another, leaving it powerless against many Pokémon, from open Great League meta staples in Azumarill and Araquanid, to limited format meta staples in Qwilfish and Jellicent. Water/Flying Pokémon also give it a very hard time, triply so without Ice Punch.

Despite having been available in GO for only three months, Bewear has already managed to make a name for itself in limited formats. It's an odd, highly specific pick that nonetheless manages to fit a very handy niche, namely that of a fighter that ghosts can't freely switch into, both because of its typing but also its Fast Attack of choice in Shadow Claw. Its Fighting type Charged Attack of choice, Superpower, is most of the time combined with Stomp, a really bad Normal type move that manages to be both slightly weaker and slightly more expensive than Body Slam. However, as it just so happens, five Shadow Claws ends up exactly at a Stomp, (or a Superpower for that matter) and its slightly worse base power is compensated by with Bewear's higher attack, which means~ 

[Attack Incoming! Use a- yeah you get the picture. Bewear is no Vigoroth, nowhere near. Its bulk is just low enough that it can't really tank moves willy-nilly, while its only way of dealing substantial damage to opposing Steel types is with a self debuffing move. However, it all adds up to more than a sum of its otherwise whelming parts. It can even replace one of its Charged Attacks, most likely Stomp, with Payback to actually hurt the opposing Ghosts that make the mistake of switching in thinking that they can just tank the Shadow Claw damage.

Chesnaught is in a weird position where its current state isn't even its final form. As a Generation 6 starter, it's still yet to have its Community Day, which will grace us with its gorgeous, tanned shiny, and Chesnaught itself with Frenzy Plant. Frenzy Plant will help it a lot, no doubt, but it won't fundamentally change its playstyle of a fighter capable of dishing heavy Grass type damage. Or a Grass type capable of muscling past Steels. You could just as easily put Chesnaught into a Grass type section, since Pokémon, just like people, don't necessarily fit into neat little boxes. 

Anyway, Chesnaught combining the repertoires of fighters and grasses through Superpower and Vine Whip / Energy Ball (Frenzy Plant in the future) respectively comes with some drawbacks, as does everything in life. It's a Grass type that loses to Charm and a fighter that loses to Ice, not to mention being doubly screwed against Poison types, Bug types, Bug/Poison types, and most of all, Flying types, many of which can just farm it down without a care in the world. These combined and amplified weaknesses, not to mention Superpower's unreliability, leave its niche rather exploitable, but when it works, it really works. It will continue working even better once it becomes its turn on the Xbox Community Day celebrations.

While virtually every Pokémon featured in this series of articles had its time in the spotlight at some point in the past, Pangoro hasn't, not yet at least. However, it really feels like it will one day, prompting its inclusion into this series. Gameplay wise, Pangoro is less of a fighter and more of a Dark type with STAB Close Combat duct taped onto it, but considering the fact that this series will not have a dedicated Dark type section, here Pangoro stays. Snarl combined with Night Slash give it a very reliable STAB damage output, while the aforementioned Close Combat gives it an upper hand against tanky Steels that would otherwise capitalize on its pitiful bulk and win the neutral matchup by attrition. It can even swap Close Combat for Rock Slide in a pinch, though with its glass bones, paper skin, and Flying type weakness, it really doesn't want to act as a check to flyers in the first place. Its bulk, especially when combined with self debuffing Close Combat, is its downfall ultimately, and possibly the biggest reason for it not having had a time to shine yet.

Good Niantic above decreed that this section ought to have one more pokemon in it, and as such, Sneasler joins the ranks as of the Hisui event in late July of 2022. How does the l o n g Sneasel stack up against the rest of the competition? Not amazingly, but it has one good niche going for it. A couple sections ago, I mentioned how Close Combat isn't comparable to Wild Charge in use despite both moves having identical statlines, largely thanks to Fighters' lower energy generation. Well, Sneasler throws that out of the window with Shadow Claw, a move almost as good as Counter, whose higher energy generation lets the long Sneasel get to two Close Combats as fast as many of the Wild Charge users get to their double tap combos. X-Scissor as its secondary move helps as well, though more so as a cheaper bait move rather than anything it can deal any serious damage with. And when it comes to damage, Sneasler is an expert! At taking it that is, its bulk abysmal even when compared to everything else mentioned so far, managing to even slightly out-brittle Sirfetch'd. Toxicroak typing helps it not faint instantly, but even with its help its time out of its pokeball is very limited.


Why is it not good enough for open GL?

Various reasons, but common threads include being completely walled by one or more common open Great League meta Pokémon, having exploitable weaknesses, low bulk, being straight up inferior in comparison to other Pokémon with the same typing, or, in Pangoro's case, all of the above.


Role: Fighter / depends

Relevance: Medium-High for Poliwrath and Bewear, Low-Medium for Chesnaught and Pangoro, unknown for Sneasler yet, but likely Medium or above, good luck getting one for Great League

Recommended Movesets: 

  • Poliwrath: Mud Shot / Dynamic Punch / Ice Punch OR Scald 
  • Bewear: Shadow Claw / Superpower / Stomp OR Payback 
  • Chesnaught: Vine Whip / Superpower / Energy Ball 
  • Pangoro: Snarl / Night Slash / Close Combat OR Rock Slide
  • Sneasler: Shadow Claw / Close Combat / X-Scissor  

Shadow / Return viability: 

Of the four, only Poliwrath is available as a Shadow, and it purifies at too high of a CP for Return to be usable in the Great League. Similarly to Drapion, its arch nemesis, Poliwrath also can make good use of the Shadow boost with its high powered and reasonably spammable Charged Attacks, but lacks a proper target much of the time. With one very notable exception, Shadow boost doesn't bring Dynamic Punch from a three hit KO to a two hit KO, or from two hit KO to a one hit KO against many relevant meta targets, and ditto for Ice Punch, which is already a two hit KO against most Grass types anyway.

That one exception is Froslass however, and it is most definitely an exception that matters. With a Shadow boost, Dynamic Punch goes from missing a two hit KO to reliably hitting it, letting Poliwrath skip Scald for a Dynamic Punch / Ice Punch combo. The utility of that upgrade depends heavily on the format- Nemesis Cup had most players opt into Shadow Poliwrath for this exact reason, especially when combined with limited Scald targets otherwise, while Architect Cup has most Poliwrath skipping the steroids due to Scald having a ton of utility there with Ice Punch having relatively little.




In the next part, we'll take a look at the assorted Rock types and watch them do what Sudowoodo couldn't- namely be relevant. We'll also take a look at all the toxic, unsportsmanlike Poison types, dragons of lore (including a closer look at a couple standouts), and the two out of ten fully evolved Normal/Flying Pokémon that manage to clear the incredibly challenging requirement of actually being usable. And no, even with Gust, Staraptor doesn’t make the cut.

Before then though, a very important bit of trivia:

Shoutouts to The Shiny Sandshrews.

See you in the next part!