Love Cup: Meta Analysis
— Introduction —
This February, love is in the air in Go Battle League with the Love Cup. Love Cup will take place in the Great League from February 8 - 15 in GO Battle League. In this format, only red and pink Pokémon are eligible. This is the first time Niantic has created a themed cup that is not based on type restrictions but instead based on a defining attribute, following a similar path to what Silph did in season 2 for their Silph Arena season. Love Cup is eerily similar to Silph’s Rose Cup, which was restricted to red, pink, purple, and grey Pokémon. Grey was likely chosen for balance purposes by Silph, and it is understandable why Niantic left it out for their theme. However, we are not quite sure what purple did to Niantic to warrant its exclusion, or even the color white for that matter. That leaves us with, by our count, only 66 eligible Pokémon families for the format. Which ones will rise to the top of the meta? Read below to see our thoughts and predictions.
Above are images of all eligible Pokémon for the format. Our prediction is the format will leave players divided in terms of opinion. Players who do not like fast move gameplay with Charm, Waterfall, Razor Leaf, Confusion, and Counter are unlikely to find many redeeming qualities in the meta. Players who enjoy this style of gameplay are going to have a fun time running teams that could potentially double or even triple up on these move choices.
— In Love Cup, Charm is central —
Charm users look like they will be a common pick for Love Cup. Steel type Pokémon are very limited in the format, forcing players to consider other options to resist Charm. There are two big name Pokémon that will play this Charm role, and as you might expect, they are Clefable and Wigglytuff. They appear to be at a similar level of power, but Clefable seems to offer more here than Wigglytuff. Clefable provides marginally higher speed with its charge moves, resistance to Fighting type damage, and access to Psychic to hit more of the Fire type Pokémon for neutral damage. Wigglytuff’s biggest draw is typically its Ghost resistance, but there are few to no Pokémon in this meta running Ghost type moves. That being said, be prepared to see both in action, especially on teams that like to run two Charm users.
— DisCharm your opponents with Fire, Poison, or Steel —
If you are looking for a way to slow down or stop the Charm users, you will need to use one of the types that resist Fairy type damage. There are only three types that do this for you, and that is Fire, Poison, or Steel.
Fire types are commonly red, which leaves a decent number of options to choose from. Charizard and Talonflame stand out as two of the top choices due to their resistance to Fighting type damage and powerful charge move selection. Charizard has a number of fast move options, you likely want either Fire Spin or legacy Wing Attack. Community Day move Dragon Breath could also work but the potential prevalence of Fairies might make it less desirable. Magmar, Magmortar, Magcargo, Delphox, Camerupt, and Heatmor could all provide interesting play as alternative Fire types. Blaziken and Emboar are also available Fire types, but would not provide Charm resistance due to their Fighting type (making them neutral to Charm). Their lack of bulk causes them to get shredded by Charm almost as if it were super effective.
Poison types are very limited here, but Vileplume and Scolipede are the ones that stand out the most. Poison provides resistance to a number of the hardest hitting fast moves in Charm, Razor Leaf, and Counter but are left vulnerable to Confusion. These two are also weak to Fire types due to their Grass and Bug typings. Vileplume brings Razor Leaf to shred the bulky Water types we will discuss later on, along with an Electric resistance which could be valuable for Electrode. Vileplume has the option to play as a Shadow for added damage at the cost of bulk. Scolipede does not shred these Water types, but instead wins the head-to-head with fellow Poison, Vileplume. Ariados is another option to consider but looks slightly inferior to Scolipede and likely only worth a look if running Ariados and Scolipede together on the same team. And let’s not forget about the great Whirlipede, which has been patiently waiting for its chance to break out ever since getting highlighted by Niantic as a beneficiary of the Poison Sting buff.
Steel types are limited to Wormadam Trash and Scizor, and both look to have play. Both can effectively shut down the Charm users and Poison types, but are double weak to Fire which leaves them extremely vulnerable to them. Wormadam provides bulk, while Scizor charges faster and hits harder. Scizor has the option of Shadow or Non-Shadow as well.
— Make a splash with Water types —
Love Cup has a large assortment of Water types to choose from. The Water types are the strongest answer to the Fire types and are mainly vulnerable to Grass and Electric types, which happen to be fairly limited in the meta.
Alomomola is a Pokémon that is often overlooked in Open Great League due to a crowded field of Water types in the game, but this meta is its chance to break out in a big way. Think of Alomomola as “Water Bastiodon” as it plays a similar way. It has insane levels of bulk but reaches charge moves at the exact same speed that Bastiodon does. That means it can dominate in positive matchups, but it is a fish out of sea in its negative matchups. It has the bulk to go toe-to-toe with the Charm users and win the 1v1 shield matchup with them, though typically drops the 2v2 shield and 0v0 shield matchups.
Milotic is similar in style to Alomomola with Waterfall as its fast move but provides more charge move pressure with Surf. It does not have Alomomola’s level of insane bulk, but it is still tanky enough to take a few hits. It would likely see play as a second Water type on teams that double up on that role or for players who do not like how long it takes Alomomola to reach its first charge move.
Slowbro provides an alternative wall to Alomomola in the meta outside of Grass types and could be an interesting option to compress roles together. It is the Water type that beats most of the other Water types. It typically loses to Charm and Razor Leaf users but puts up a strong fight on the way down. It also does well against most Fire type Pokémon and walls all of Medicham’s moves. Slowpoke needs XL candies to reach full potential but could play a similar role to Slowbro. Slowking is just a worse version of Slowbro with the forever to charge Fire Blast in place of Ice Beam.
Seaking is another Water type that can defeat other Water types. It looks to be at its strongest with a triple legacy set with Poison Jab, Icy Wind, and Drill Run. It is a jack of all trades, master of none type of pick as it can check Charm users, Water types, and Fire types, as well as hold its own against some of the Grass types, too. This meta is its best chance yet to breakout. If you have the Elite TMs and don’t mind spending an inordinate amount on one Pokémon, this might be the pick for you!
Kingler (with legacy Mud Shot and the now more powerful Crabhammer) and Octillery are likely not going to be the biggest players, but each could find value as fun spice picks. Same goes for Crawdaunt, though the weakness to Charm is alarming.
If you are truly daring, you can try Magikarp or Luvdisc and really make a splash in the meta ;)
— Counter users, if you dare! —
Counter is one of the strongest fast moves in the game, and any Pokémon with the move can immediately be a threat. Medicham and Scrafty are two of the strongest Open Great league picks, but come with a high amount of risk in the Love Cup meta. The expected prevalence of Charm will make them harder to run. Medicham holds up better when trapped against a Charmer than Scrafty does but struggles more with Confusion users. Scrafty can fight back harder against Confusion users, particularly Slowbro which walls Medicham but not Scrafty. However, Scrafty is double weak to Charm and has no ability to fight back against them. Use Scrafty at your own risk or surround it with multiple Pokémon that can defeat Charm users.
— Normal types might be safer than ever —
If Medicham and Scrafty get scared out of the meta by the Charm users, look for a few Normal type Pokémon to emerge in the Safe Switch role in this meta.
Lickilicky is in a prime position to be a strong pick in this meta. With Body Slam and Shadow Ball, it can even threaten a win against Medicham if a Shadow Ball lands. This means as a Safe Switch, it only truly fears Scraftry.
Lickitung is similar to Lickilicky except that it boasts Power Whip instead of Shadow Ball to threaten Water types. Lickitung needs XL candies to reach its full potential, which might be possible depending on what Pokémon are spawning for February events. That said, it still seems unlikely that many will have one powered far past Level 40.
Chansey is a bulk machine but takes forever to charge any of its moves due to its poor fast move options. It also requires XL candies to reach full potential and likely only sees play on teams that try to win by pushing for the match limit to be reached.
All three versions of Porygon are all unlikely to see much play, but could be sent out by players looking to try something different and unique.
— Best of the rest —
A few potent options in Love Cup didn’t fit in the above categories, but are worth considering for your roster.
Cherrim in its Sunshine form should be a solid option to consider. It can pressure other Grass, Bug, or Steel types with Weather Ball Fire and threaten the Water types with either Razor Leaf or Bullet Seed + Solar Beam. It struggles with Fire types, and unlike Vileplume, it does not resist Charm. Expect to see it a lot on teams that run two Grass types in the back, alongside Vileplume.
Electrode looks to be a strong pick in the Love Cup meta with limited Ground and Grass types to slow it down. Electrode goes down to Charm users but can grab a shield along the way, and it counters the Water and Fire/Flying type Pokémon that should be popular picks. Electrode is generally a safe option in most matchups, which might make it a popular Safe Switch pivot.
Crustle is a strong response to opposing Fire type picks, especially when running Smack Down as a fast move. It has trouble with the Water types due to taking super-effective damage from their Water moves, though should at least hit back neutrally. Crustle is another pick worth considering as a Safe Switch.
— Closing thoughts —
The Love Cup is an interesting concept by Niantic, but the Pokémon that emerge are likely to create a polarizing meta. If it doesn’t sound like the meta for you, consider trying out some of the Master League metas instead or take a week away from battling.