Graphic By: Nesabethan


Write Up By: RughPoo and Tangent444


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


In the Vortex Cup Meta Snapshot graphic (download here), we attempt to dissect the Vortex Cup into 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 toPvPoke for supporting simulations. Also if you love discussing cup metas, come join in on the daily discussion atGO Stadium and forge new friendships with people as passionate about Meta discussion as you.



As a quick overview, the graphic can be viewed according to 8 groups:

  • Froslass, the ice queen

  • The darks and dragons, in Mandibuzz, Zweilous, and Dragonair

  • The fighters, primary among them being Primeape and Toxicroak

  • The anti-fighters, containing Hypno, Pelipper, and Mantine

  • The ice/waters in Dewgong, Lapras, and Sealeo

  • Galvantula, the one Spooder to rule them all

  • The fire and rock types, primarily Ninetales and Crustle

  • The ground types, with Whiscash, Diggersby, and Quagsire.




Arguably the most prominent Pokémon you’ll find throughout Vortex Cup is Froslass, being a very safe Pokémon with few hard counters. Froslass loses to only Ninetales and Spooky Ninetales in the 1-0 shield scenario within the concentrated meta. Even more incredibly, Froslass puts up a 559-13 record against the entirety of Vortex Cup in the 1-0 shield scenario. Shield advantage scenarios show that a Pokémon is tough to hard counter. The list of Pokémon that beat Froslass includes notable spicy names like Shadow Probopass, Greninja, and XL Litleo; a truly remarkable who’s who of Great League meta mons. If you can engineer one you can ride it to victory, assuming you avoid that Shadow Probopass.


Froslass does not have any solid arrows coming from her on the graphic, but this should not deter you from using her. The matchup with Toxicroak is strong and was nearly a solid line arrow, but when used as a counter switch you should be aware that even a high stat product Froslass can lose to a high attack Toxicroak in the 2 shield scenario when Toxicroak is up one Counter in energy. The other dotted arrow for Froslass is Zweilous, where Froslass has a comfortable win in the 0 shield and 1 shield scenario but the 2 shield matchup is very nearly a toss-up. That 2 shield scenario is one that Zwei can win if Froslass doesn’t hit a breakpoint of 122.49 attack. However, should Froslass sneak in 1 powder snow, it can re-flip the matchup.


As for the losses, Froslass is shown with only Ninetales and Crustle having arrow relationships going towards here. This is a solid arrow, assuming that Crustle is running smack down (although even fury cutter Crustle is a solid win, as long as Froslass isn’t up in energy). Even though no arrow is shown, Froslass typically loses all scenarios with Lapras. There is a chance to flip the 0 shield if you have an extremely defense-IV weighted Fros and if the opposing Lapras has low attack, and also a chance to flip the 1 shield matchup with a two powder snow energy lead. The reason no arrow was shown was due to their position on the graphic being far apart, but you can essentially consider it a dotted arrow in favour of Lapras. Sealeo and Dewgong, on the other hand, are far more of a toss-up depending on the shield scenario and shield baiting.


In terms of the non-arrows, there are a few worth discussing in a bit more detail. The matchup with Mandibuzz depends on a number of factors including IVs and movesets and is far too volatile to call, although Mandbuzz typically wins the 0 shield scenario from even energy. Froslass defeats Primeape in the 0 shield scenario, loses the 2 shield scenario, and the 1 shield scenario is more of a toss up. Froslass with less than ideal IV spreads can lose the 1 shield matchup to Primeape, as Froslass requires a defensive bulkpoint at 115.66 defense to secure that scenario (outside of a Night Slash boost activating, which can flip the scenario).




A meta with fairy types banned has meant that dark and dragon types, primarily Mandibuzz, Zweilous, and Dragonair, are in a prime position to be meta-defining forces. They are strong generalists within the meta and have to be countered without the option of fairy type moves, unless you are brave enough to run a non-fairy charmer. Looking at all the charm users in front of the trash can, you might be able to venture a guess on how effective we feel that idea would be.


The two dark types in the group have a solid arrow win against Hypno, punishing what would otherwise be the most potentially dominant Pokemon in the meta. Their presence forces players to think twice about running Hypno. However, outside of this their dark typing isn’t providing any other significant meta wins. The dragons have a solid arrow win against Ninetales due to their resistance to fire, although both of them having relative average bulk means that they do need to watch out for eating an inopportune Overheat, particularly from shadow Ninetales which can remove roughly 60% of their health with the move. Within the dragon group, Zweilous has a slightly positive matchup with Dragonair as it tends to just outlast it in the dragon breath war.


As for losses, they all have overall negative matchups with the water/ice types. Mandibuzz gets rocked by the rock types like Crustle, and Zweilous takes a beating from the fighting types. Dewgong in particular is dominant as a counter, whereas Lapras and Sealeo have scenarios where they can lose to a few of the darks and dragons. Lapras can lose to Zweilous, particularly if Zwei is able to bait a body slam and land a dark pulse. The same could happen to Sealeo if Zweilous has a small energy lead, although shadow Sealeo’s raw power allows it to more comfortably secure the matchup. Dragonair does not have the same kind of luck and can only win against Lapras and Sealeo by landing an unshielded dragon pulse. Mandibuzz struggles more with the group but does have some wins to speak of. Against Lapras, Mandibuzz can sometimes win the 0 shield scenario with a high stat product, assuming Lapras only uses surf. Against Sealeo, Mandibuzz can beat the non-shadow version in the 0 shield scenario if Sealeo is only using body slam. However, shadow Sealeo can avoid this fate.



In terms of the non-arrows, Mandibuzz can take out fighters in the 0 shield with aerial ace, but the 1 shield and 2 shield can be tricky depending on baiting. For example, in the 1 shield, if Primeape baits with night slash, it can land another night slash and then a close combat to KO, although it is extremely close. The 2 shield between Primeape and Mandibuzz could have an entire article dedicated to its complexity, and it will ultimately likely come down to a coin flip as to whether or not Mandibuzz is able to sneak in a fast move or not. Against the group types, Mandibuzz’s huge bulk forces the ground types to land two big charge moves in order to drop it. For example, Mandibuzz is so bulky that it can still take two hyper beams and win the 0 shield scenario against Diggersby and also (with high stat product) take two stone edges and win the 0 shield against Quagsire. Mandibuzz can’t do the same with two blizzards from Whiscash though and drops that 0 shield matchup. Against earthquake Diggersby, Mandibuzz becomes a very hard counter—one reason why hyper beam is likely the recommended move on Dig in this meta. Quagsire has the strongest matchup with Mandibuzz due to the speed of stone edge.




The third group to discuss is the fighters, prominent among them being Primeape and Toxicroak. Primeape will be the more frequently seen of the two and is one of the Pokémon most central to the meta, due to its access to night slash threatening Froslass more than any other fighter and securing it the 2 shield win in that matchup.


The arrow from the fighters to Zweilous is dotted because the fighters are fragile and have no resistance to dragon breath or body slam. In the 1 shield, Zwei will always fall to counter damage from either of the dominant fighters. In fact, there is no 2 shield scenario to speak of. In the 0 shield, Zwei can make things close but cannot win unless Primeape only throws night slash. The arrow from the fighters to the water/ice types is dotted because they lack a resistance to ice, water, and normal type moves, which can make the matchup less dominant than you might imagine due to their aforementioned lack of bulk. For example when Lapras has one ice shard of energy advantage, it has a chance to take out a Primeape that uses only night slash and does not optimize its move timing. Running legacy cross chop on Primeape can help turn the matchups into more of a solid arrow relationship.


Against the anti-fighters of Hypno, Pelipper, and Mantine, well, you can probably imagine. They wouldn’t be anti-fighters if they couldn’t beat the fighters. Even if a bubble Mantine gets double baited by Toxicroak in the 2 shield, it still beats it. There isn’t much to say, you’ll need a miracle to take on an anti-fighter with a fighter head to head. Outside of these anti-fighters, the fighters have solid situational play against just about everything else in the meta.




The anti-fighters, consisting of Hypno, Mantine, and Pelipper, fill a specific niche of being one of the strongest ways to take out fighters in the meta. Primeape being one of the central forces within the vortex means that they play an important role in shutting the ape down before it has a chance to go bananas.


Hypno tends to run ice punch and shadow ball in order to maximize coverage, although thunder punch and fire punch could all have their uses (or focus blast if you are feeling frisky). The reason there are so few arrows leaving Hypno is due to the uncertainty of its moveset. For example, ice punch gives it a solid win over Dragonair, which it would struggle more against running thunder punch and fire punch together. Where Hypno comes with risk is its hard losses to the two big dark types of the meta.


Pelipper and Mantine both play a similar anti-fighting role, but also combine that role with being a solid counter to Ninetales and the ground types (outside of Quagsire). Pelipper is not as bulky and does need to watch out for blizzard from Whiscash and hyper beam from Diggersby. Whiscash and Diggersby are all typically wins from even energy for Pelipper, aside from Pelipper vs HB Diggersby 2 shield, wherein Dig can win if it baits twice. As water and flying types, they are extremely vulnerable to electricity and take a hard loss to Galvantula. The water/ice types pose a challenge for them, particularly Mantine which is lacking access to the hurricane option that Pelipper has. Lapras can lose to Pelipper if it baits and then lands a hurricane in the 1 shield, or if it successfully baits twice and lands hurricane in the two shield matchup.




The ice/waters, consisting of Dewgong, Lapras, and Sealeo, provide a way of threatening ice damage to the big dark and dragon. They play a similar role to Froslass, but tend to have stronger matchups with Mandibuzz, Dragonair, Mantine/Pelipper, and Ninetales. However, the ice/water types come with an added weakness to fighting types and Galvantula. Dewgong does the anti dragon and anti flying job the strongest, but lacks coverage for fighting the other water/ice types. Lapras has the strongest Froslass matchup of the three and has the option of running ice beam, dragon pulse, or skull bash for a second move (each move has its pros and cons within the meta). Sealeo hits faster then Dewgong and Lapras, and tends to be at its best as a shadow Pokemon. For example, Shadow Sealeo has a stronger Mandibuzz matchup and puts higher damage pressure on Primeape. Shadow Sealeo is also more easily able to forgo needing aurora beam to secure some of its wins and can use water pulse instead for much needed coverage for steel, rock, and ghost types, who all resist body slam spam.




Galvantula is in an interesting position in the meta as a relatively safe pokemon to use outside of matchups with fire and rock types. One of the biggest challenges with the spooder is that its shared weaknesses to fire and rock with Froslass means you might be forced to pick one or the other. Galv’s main role is to counter the water types, and has generally solid play against a number of the biggest meta players. It typically requires shields to operate due to its lack of bulk.




Referenced when discussing Froslass and Galvantula, fire and rock type pokemon play a crucial role in shutting those two big threats down. The most common of these you will see are Ninetales and Crustle. Ninetales has tougher matchups with the water/flying types, dragons, and also loses the head-to-head with Crustle. However, Crustle struggles more with fighting types. For movesets, Ninetales could run either overheat, solar beam, psyshock, or return depending on what it wants coverage for. Overheat is such a powerful move that it does a ton of damage even when resisted. Solar beam provides coverage against rock, ground, and water types, although in this meta Ninetales will require a significant shield or energy advantage to pull it off consistently. Return provides coverage against most of the fire resistant mons, including dragon, fire, and water types, with the exception of some rock types (although Crustle and Probopass take neutral damage from fire anyways). Psyshock tends to provide the lowest upside but is also an option. As for Crustle, smack down is likely the fast move of choice for taking down all of the rock-weak Pokemon in the meta, while fury cutter transforms Crustle into a Pokemon that can pressure with devastating rock slides instead.





Ground type Pokemon help slow down electric and rock types, making them strong teammate options for a number of the biggest meta threats like Mandibuzz, ice/waters, and Froslass which can be threatened by these. The main ground types in the meta are Whiscash, Quagsire, and Diggersby. Whiscash comes with bulk and the ability to threaten just about everything in the meta with its ground and ice type coverage. It struggles most with anything that flies, due to relying on landing blizzards in order to threaten damage. Even so, it has the ability to pull out ahead and just defeat Mandibuzz in the 0 shield scenario by making it to two blizzards. Quagsire can turn the tables on a number of the flying Pokemon due to the speed of stone edge, but can struggle more than Cash in situations that require charge move speed. For example, it can badly lose the 2 shield matchup to Froslass due to getting outspeed to the third charge move, making Quagsire more of a specialized closer. Diggersby is a harder counter to electric types thanks to its lack of a water subtyping, but that also leaves it more vulnerable to ice types and fire types than the traditional mudbois. Diggersby also has a tough choice to make in deciding between earthquake and hyper beam. Earthquake is a faster option and gives Dig a better chance to knock out some dragon, water, rock, and fire types that resist its fire punch before they can take Diggersby out themselves. However, hyper beam allows Diggersby to avoid being hard countered by flying types such as Mandibuzz, Pelipper, and Mantine. Note that, with earthquake and hyper beam alike, the matchup with Ninetales is not a sure thing. If Ninetales can call the charge moves correctly, it can take non-XL Diggersby down using only weather balls in the 2 shield scenario, and can pop XL versions by dropping a timely overheat or solar beam.




Wildcards are Pokémon that are harder to include in the picture. This could include having a lot of bait or buff/debuff related matchups, variable movesets, having too many inconsistent matchup relationships compared to other Pokémon that share the same role, or simply due to the fact that there is only so much room on the main graphic for everything. Pictured are a number of alternative dragon, rock, electric, and fighting types to consider. As well, no grass type Pokemon made the main graphic but a few grass types to consider are shown. Finally, a few extra wildcards that didn’t fit into one of the above categories are given for your consideration. All have merit within the meta, and could be good choices for coverage on a team composition where they fit. Other Pokemon not pictured could also have a place in the meta on the right team.




Flygon was hyped early as a potential safe switch candidate, but the fact that it melts to ice and dragon damage makes it feel far more underwhelming than its initial hype.


Steelix is still waiting for the day that it gets better moves to be relevant again, but today is not that day.


A meta filled with dark, dragon, and fighters at the top seems like a perfect recipe for charm to succeed. However, the complete ban of fairy types has left players forced to use the likes of Donphan, Beartic, Lilligant, Cinccino, and many more to fill that void. Their lack of resistance to dark, dragon, and fairy type damage makes them incredibly underwhelming in the role. Underwhelming enough that many of them lose the 0 shield scenario to Mandibuzz, along with also being quite bad in most of their neutral matchups.