Under The Lights: Running "AMuk" in Sorcerous Cup
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
The "Under The Lights" series provides some deeper dives on Pokémon of particular interest, ones with serious potential in the ongoing Cup. And today we put a whole family of Pokémon... under the lights.
Attack: 118 (115 High Stat Product)
Defense: 112 (113 High Stat Product)
HP: 143 (149 High Stat Product)
(Highest Stat Product IVs: 0-15-15, 1496 CP, Level 20.5)
Dark/Poison is a potent typing in PvP, sort of akin to the famous Mud Boys (Water/Ground) in that D/Ps have only one single weakness, to Ground damage. The combination resists Psychic, Dark, Poison, Ghost, and Grass moves, which helps explain why the D/Ps have been such a menace in Silph Cups, as they typically appear alongside many other Pokémon that rely on moves that the D/Ps resist. They are noted Psychic and Ghost killers especially, and have handled those roles and others admirably in several Cups in both seasons of Silph Arena play.
On top of all that, Alolan Muk is bulky too, the bulkiest of the Dark/Poison trio. It holds up to punishment even in losing matchups long enough to deal some damage in return, hardly ever going down without a fight.
Snarl (Dark, 1.67 DPT, 4.33 EPT, 1.5 CD)
Bite (Dark, 4.0 DPT, 2.0 EPT, 0.5 CD)
Poison Jab (Poison, 3.0 DPT, 3.5 EPT, 1.0 CD)
So the consensus is to run Snarl and its crazy good energy generation on A-Muk since it was introduced. But is that the only way to go? Is there a case for Poison Jab? I believe that at least in THIS meta, there most certainly is, but first we need to cover the charge moves....
Dark Pulse (Dark, 80 damage, 50 energy)
Acid Spray (Poison, 20 damage, 50 energy, Decreases Opponent Defense by 2 Stages)
Sludge Wave (Poison, 110 damage, 65 energy)
Gunk Shot (Poison, 130 damage, 75 energy)
So along with Snarl, Dark Pulse and Sludge Wave are what A-Muk typically slides out onto the battlefield with, is the recommendation of what to use on PvPoke.com, and looks like this against the Sorcerous Cup meta. Taking out big Confusioners Hypno and Bronzong is very good, plus Froslass, Noctowl, three of the big Charmers, Grasses, and other key components of the majority of teams. But as you can see, many of those wins are kind of close for comfort. It has somewhere around 40-50 HP leftover after beating the big Grasses, 40+ after beating Hypno and a whopping 90+ after trouncing Bronzong, but it gets dicey from there. The only other core meta win where A-Muk is left with more than 20 HP is against Linoone (and even that is BARELY over 20). Against Haunter and Froslass its HP is left in the teens, and against the Charmers, Noctowl, and A-Rat, it has less than 10 HP remaining. That is somewhat alarming.
Enter Poison Jab. The wins over the Charmers remain uncomfortably close, but even still, there is one notable pickup: A-Muk can beat Granbull by just Poison Jabbing it to death. In fact, that's the ONLY way it can really beat Granbull... even trying to throw a charge move can throw that off, and with Close Combat as an option, if Granbull gets to the point of being able to fire off charge moves, things get even dicier.
But outside of the Charmers, the other gains are more obvious. A-Muk gets more breathing room against Noctowl and Alolan Raticate, and picks up key wins over Azumarill (and Play Rough OR Ice Beam doesn't much matter), Medicham, Golbat, and the Lickiboys. And while it unfortunately loses Bronzong (who resists Poison), although JUST barely, it keeps and even slightly improves on the win over Hypno, and holds ALL other core meta wins it got with Snarl. So basically, other than Zong, Poison Jab with the same moves as Snarl is a pure upgrade.
And there's more! Because Gunk Shot looks like a potential upgrade over Sludge Wave when paired with Poison Jab too. The super close win over Wigglytuff flips to a loss, and Lickilicky now may have enough time to get to a killing Earthquake and turn the tables, but Gunk Shot brings in wins (albeit razor thin ones) over Sealeo and fellow D/P Skuntank, but perhaps even more importantly, the mirror match (in more decisive fashion). I'm not going to come out and say Gunk Shot IS better, but the potential it brings to the table is awfully nice.
And yes, Poison Jab's viability seems consistent in shieldless (Poison Jab vs Snarl) and 2v2 shield (Poison Jab vs Snarl) scenarios. The energy generation of Snarl becomes more apparent in 2 shield, but PJ is better in shieldless and holds its own throughout all shielding scenarios.
So I advocate strong consideration for Poison Jab over the customary Snarl in the Sorcerous Cup meta, and potentially Gunk Shot as well. Not what most folks would probably expect--A-Muk has been a "set it and forget it" type since it received Snarl--but that's why I take these deeper dives!
So what about KANTONIAN MUK? Exact same stats, no Dark typing, and similar moves (Poison Jab/Dark Pulse again), with Thunder Punch being its big advantage. (I mean, you CAN run it with the same PJ/DP/GS moveset as A-Muk, but it just doesn't do as well--aside from the obvious strong results against the Charmers--losing Hypno and Medicham and other key losses.) Thunder Punch makes it a fantastic Azumarill slayer, but unfortunately isn't enough to bring in other things you'd hope for, like Tentacthulhu. Even Noctowl is rather shaky... Alolan Muk did better without any super effective moves at all. You DO still beat Owl, as well as Skuntank and A-Rat and the Grasses and, rather easily, the Fairies. And perhaps you can make that work for your team. But unless you just need a really hard Fairy counter, A-Muk is still better overall.
That doesn't mean I'm quite done, though. Kanto Muk may not be so hot here, but Kanto Grimer--yes, GRIMER--may be another story.
You see, Grimer has something really good going for it: a full GROUND moveset. It is one of only four things in the format with a Ground fast move, having Mud Slap along with Claydol, Mamoswine, and Kangaskhan. It is also one of only two things in Sorcerous Cup with the awesome spamming might of Mud Bomb (Toxicroak, of course, being the other). Add in Sludge Bomb for some STAB closing power, and you have got a fantastic moveset to play with.
And how's that look when you put it all together? I gotta say, not bad at all! Beats all the Charmers and even Azumarill with Play Rough. Beats the major Grasses. Beats A-Muk AND Skuntank closely but consistently, and Kanto Muk for good measure. And unlike the Muks, Grimer beats Toxicroak in an epic Mud Bomb war. In fact, it can forgo Mud Bomb and just Mud Slap Croak to death and pocket a ton of energy... and it can do the same to A-Muk, Stank, Haunter, and Tentacruel, another one the Muks couldn't overcome. Grimer comes out of all of those with enough energy to immediately fire off a Sludge Bomb or, in most cases, two Mud Bombs, so while you go to a shield disadvantage to keep Grimer alive, you can immediately get that shield back or make the opponent REALLY pay if they opt not to shield. Between Mud Bomb and Sludge Bomb, there isn't much in this meta you CAN'T hit for super effective damage if unshielded, and literally nothing except Golbat that you cannot at least hit for neutral.
And yes, Grimer still does most of this work in shieldless and 2v2 shielding, consistently threatening the D/Ps, Croak, Haunter, Fairies, and Tentacruel. That is a big, big slice of the very center of the meta. Grimer is spicy, but it's not just a mere spice pick. I truly think it is a legit core breaker in this meta, and would strongly recommend it as a wild card on many teams.
So, nearly the entire Grimer/Muk family (sorry, A-Grime, not you) has some play this month! And I actually rank them A-Muk, Grimer, and THEN K-Muk. I REALLY like what Grimer can do here, and hopefully this helps you also better understand the nuances of Alolan Muk and why it's all the rage in conversation.
Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon which now has a tie-in exclusive Discord server you can access to get straight through to me. And of course, my continued thanks to my buddies in my local playgroup, the MD PvP Alliance Discord, and GO: Stadium PvP for their guidance and brainstorming.
And as always, the simulated battles above from my go-to simming resource at PvPoke.com are a good start to the story, but they are certainly not the whole story. Run some sims yourself, test with the Muks and perhaps even Grimer yourself, and again: please discuss! I always love to hear your feedback and any discussions that come out of these deeper dives.
I'll be back with more analysis next week. Until then, have a great weekend and stay safe out there, Pokéfriends. See you again real soon!