The Silph League Arena
Nifty or Thrifty
Nov 29, 2020: Nifty or Thrifty: Nightfall Cup
Author: JRE Seawolf
“Nifty or Thrifty” is a series which author JRE Seawolf started on the Arena subreddit to analyze the Cup meta – specifically through the lens of which Pokemon may be worth powering-up and purchasing 2nd charge moves for and which “budget picks” are available at less cost who can still perform well!
“The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for PvP Cup formats: Nightfall Cup, in this case. As is typical for the NoT series, I’ll cover not only the top meta picks, but also some mons where you can save some dust with cheaper second move unlock costs… or don’t need a second move at all! Because for those on a stardust budget–and/or folks trying to save up some dust for the future–it can be daunting trying to figure out where to spend or not spend it. We all want to field competitive teams, but where can we get the best bang for our buck and where should we perhaps channel our inner scrooge?”
As I try to usually do, I will start with those with the cheapest second move unlock cost and steam ahead until we finally arrive at the expensive Legendaries, though after that I will have a couple more to talk about that ALSO have high level up costs.
But enough intro. Let’s dive in!
10,000 Dust/25 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Vine Whip | Frenzy Plantᴸ & Sludge Bomb
In this game nothing can be said for certain, except death and taxes… and JRE leading off a Nifty Or Thrifty with Venusaur. And yes, as per usual when it’s eligible, Venusaur is certainly viable, able to typically beat all Waters, both Charmers, and all Grasses but Abomasnow. Conveniently, Venu also beats the majority of Fighters, including Medicham as long as it doesn’t have Psychic (the move), and comes within one fast move of beating Medicham and Froslass too (in the latter case, needing one Vine Whip of energy to reach a winning charge move before Lass reaches its second Avalanche, or winning by way of CMP if it has higher Attack then Lass, such as when both have current #1 IVs). Another one Venusaur can potentially win in a battle of top IVs? Galarian Stunfisk. Venusaur is looking really good, especially if you have a really good one.
Poison Jab | X-Scissor/Fell Stinger & Drill Runᴸ/Sludge Bomb
So while the intial win/loss total doesn’t look great, there are layers here. At the least, those results show that Bee remains a great Grassassin and slayer of Fairies, as well as being able to torment many Fighters (including Toxicroak). But there’s more to it than that when you consider Shadow Beedrill, which also picks up Medicham and even Blaziken, giving up only Scrafty in exchange. Drill Run can also get Froslass, while Sludge Bomb instead nails Articuno and Noctowl, though it will usually need a shield for several of those wins. Non-Shadow is a bit better with shields removed, in general, still getting Blaziken for one example (shrugging off a Blaze Kick in the process).
Gustᴸ/Wing Attackᴸ | Aerial Ace & Brave Bird
Might we be seeing a passing of the torch from Noctowl to Pidgeot as the best Normal Bird? Well, that might be a bit much, but there is no doubt that Gust gives it nice options, including beating Shadow Machamp, Blaziken, and Toxicroak in 1v1 shielding, something that neither Noctowl nor Wing Attack Pidgeot can reliably replicate. And with Gust OR Wing Attack, Pidgeot beats Mr. Owl head to head, as well as outracing Quagsire and Vigoroth which Noctowl cannot often do. Wing Attack also has unique (for Pidgeot) wins versus Medicham, Charm A-Tails, and Golbat going for it. With shields down, Gust gets nice wins against Vigoroth and Quagsire again and is the only way Pidgeot now beats Noctowl, but Wing Attack may be even a touch better with big wins over Swampert, Gallade, and Blaziken.
Wing Attack | Sky Attack & Psychic
Mr. Owl also beats Medicham and Golbat in 1v1 shielding, as well as Swampert, Abomasnow, and (usually) Bibarel, wins that it can boast over Pidgeot. Its tankiness also makes itself known against Whiscash, as it can tank a Blizzard and hang around just long enough to finish Cash off… at least, with shields down, a scenario in which is performs similarly to WA Pidgeot with those same wins against Swampert, Gallade, and Blaziken that Gust ‘Geot cannot usually replicate. Whichever Bird you choose, Owl and ‘Geot are both pretty potent here!
Charm | Ice Beam & Play Rough
Man, everything has caveats in this meta, even simple Charmers. The default sim shows Wiggly doing what you’d mostly expect: obliterating Fighters and Darks, plus bonuses like Froslass, Abomasnow, Noctowl, and two of the three main Mud Boys. Simming with just Charm, typically the preferred method when you can pull it off, shows new wins against Articuno, Lapras, and of course the mirror, but curiously drops Abomasnow and Vigoroth. It would seem that there’s a weird timing issue at play here. To make things simpler, a decent Attack Wiggly seems like the safest bet, getting Vigoroth without timing hijinks, plus Lapras and Artie and the mirror again too. (Though Aboma remains an odd duck.) The main point is this: Charm remains perhaps THE best way to reliably combat Fighters here, and Wiggly is likely the safest and most reliable bet. And cheap, too!
Wing Attack | Poison Fang & Shadow Ball
Well, Charm isn’t the ONLY way to keep Fighters down, of course. Golbat does that and more, being a particularly good way to also hold down Grasses (even the scary Grassholes) while also beating the Charmers themselves, plus things like Beedrill and Swampert. Shadow Golbat for once looks like almost a straight upgrade, picking up wins against Quagsire and Vigoroth in 1v1 shielding (with no new losses!) and with shields down, new wins over Shadow Champ, Blaze, and Swampy at the low cost of losing to Gallade and Gliscor. I will tentatively say that Shadow Bat looks to be the better play in this meta, but whatever Bat you prefer, the unique ability to handle Fighting, Grass, AND Fairy gives Bat very nice coverage in Nightfall.
Mud Shot | Hydro Cannonᴸ & Sludge Wave/Earthquake
Remember when Sludge Wave was more spice/curiosity on Swampy and Earthquake was generally preferred? Seems to be getting further away in the rear view mirror with each passing meta now. Yes, Earthquake is still just fine, and wins the mirror over SW Swampy and can make the G-Fisk matchup a breeze, but Sludge Wave also still ekes out a win over G-Fisk (by just going triple Hydro Cannon) and can pick up big wins against Abomasnow and Wigglytuff, both big gains in this meta that no other Mud Boy can duplicate. I do think Sludge Wave gets the deserved nod in Nightfall Cup, giving Swampert a leg up among the Mud Boys.
Mud Shot | Mud Bomb & Blizzard
If I’m being honest, as hinted above, Cash just isn’t as good here as Swampert. Though it DOES have good things going for it, beating G-Fisk even more easily than Swampert, as well as Noctowl, Golbat, Quagsire, and perhaps most importantly, Froslass, all of which best Swampy. But Whiscash struggles against Fighters (often losing to Shadow Machamp, Gallade, Scrafty) and Charmers that Swampert can beat, has no good answer to Abomasnow, and often loses (albeit closely) to Swampert itself.
Counter | Blaze Kick & Blast Burnᴸ
Overall, Blaze doesn’t look great, but there are good things tucked in there. Blaziken is one of few Fighters that can overcome Froslass, while still getting the other Ices and G-Fisk, and being particularly brutal against many Grasses too. It’s a pretty good niche.
Infestation | Ice Beam & Sludge Bomb/Acid Spray
Another niche pick, but again, a good niche, with Swalot consistently handling Charmers, Flyers, Grasses (including those scary Razor Leafers), and some of the top Fighters, including Medicham. A caveat: with a good Acid Spray bait, Shadow Champ and Golbat are softened up enough for Swalot to add to its win column, though it will typically lose to Abomasnow and even Alolan Ninetales without the killing power of Sludge Bomb. Tradeoffs… there are always tradeoffs.
Razor Leaf | Sand Tomb & Stone Edge/Frenzy Plantᴸ
The key with this unique Grass is Sand Tomb, which can bait the occasional shield from an unprepared or panicked opponent, but primarily is useful for slashing the opponent’s Defense and making Razor Leaf even MORE lethal. Tomb alone makes “Torterror” an intriguing Leafer that distinguishes itself from the Poisonous Grass RLers in two ways: beating things like Gallade that rely on Confusion damage, and perhaps more importantly, consistently beating Galarian Stunfisk thanks to resisting all of its Ground and Rock moves. Despite not resisting Fairy or Fighting damage, it does still squeak by with wins over the Charmers and most of the Fighters, and even beats dangerous Water/Ices Lapras and even Dewgong despite being double weak to Ice damage. It’s a legit consideration as a Razor Leafer here. You do NOT want Shadow in this case, though… Tort wants that bulk!
Poison Jab | X-Scissor & Megahorn
A slightly worse Beedrill overall, but with one big plus: more easily beating Medicham, with regular Bee actually having a hard time with Psychic (the move) Medi, but Scolipede consistently finishing it first with Megahorn. Scolipede also is able to overcome Swampert, dealing more than enough neutral damage with Megahorn to finish it off, whereas Beedrill again can fall short with non-STAB Drill Run allowing Swampy to hang around and get an extra Hydro Cannon blast in. Shadow Bee gets things like Noctowl, Articuno, and Blaziken that really set it apart, but if that’s not an option, may Scolipede bear legit consideration over regular Bee.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
So we have a brand new trio of Pokémon coming with the first wave of Generation 6 in December that are eligible for this Cup, and all come with a cheap second move unlock! But are they any good?
- CHESNAUGHT seems to run best here with Razor Leaf despite having the option of Vine Whip with some pretty good charge moves (Superpower and Energy Ball, both with STAB)… Razor Leaf more easily beats Machamp. Naught doesn’t do anything to particularly set itself apart from other Leafers… well, except for the fact that it handles G-Fisk much better than most.
- DIGGERSBY‘s future in Great League looks bright, but its typing is more liability than strength in Nightfall Cup, where being weak to so many Fighters and Grasses and Ices hold it back. Do build a good one, just don’t bust a hump to do it in time for Nightfall.
- PYROAR and even pre-evolution LITLEO do some nice things, but again, the Normal subtyping is more hindrance than help in this meta, and the Dark coverage move each has mostly go to waste here. Keep an eye on them for potential future use, but these are also ones you can take some time to build up and not have to rush for use in December.
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
LINOONE and OBSTAGOON have the same basic problem: while they handle most Ices (including Froslass), Mud Boys, and even most Flyers well–and Obstagoon also tackles G-Fisk–they both get shredded by most Grasses, Charmers, and especially the myriad of Fighters in the meta. Only decent rewards matched against quite high risk…. BIBAREL has a nice niche in easily beating G-Fisk and Froslass, as well as Golbat, Gliscor, and Icy Winders Articuno and Dewgong. But there’s a also a big red flag with all the Fighters around that can prey on its Normal subtyping, plus all the Grasses that lick their lips looking at its Water side…. MUNCHLAX does show some promise, but not enough. It suffers the same problems it has in past Cups like Jungle, where its failure to overcome Fighters and many Grasses and fellow tanky ‘mons just leaves it frustratingly on the outside of the meta looking in.
50,000 Dust/50 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Powder Snow | Ice Punch & Gyro Ball/Bulldoze/Blizzard
It’s probably no secret at this point that A-Slash is worth a hard look in nearly every meta where it is eligible, and despite the worrying presence of all the Fighters here, Nightfall is no exception. Ice Punch is what makes it really tick, but there are cases for all three of its other moves in the second move slot. Blizzard obviously has the best closing potential, but offers no true advantages otherwise. (Though being able to potentially get Whiscash is always nice.) Bulldoze has the best counter coverage (particularly against Steel and Poison in this particular meta). But the best might be the one that’s usually considered last: Gyro Ball. In 1v1 shielding, it does not typically lead to any new wins, but it beats the various Ices (Froslass, Abomasnow, and especially Articuno) and Fairies (Wiggly, A-Tails) the most effectively and speedily. And with shields down, it is the only way A-Slash beats Froslass. It sounds crazy, as Gyro Ball is NOT a good move (60 energy for only 80 damage), but I think it’s the best A-Slash has got in Nightfall.
Charm | Psyshock & Ice Beam
Potentially an even better Charmer than Wiggly? That is a bold statement, but there’s at least a discussion to be had. The Nightfall meta has some potent Ice types, and A-Tails handles them much better than Wiggles, beating Abomasnow and Dewgong, which Wiggly cannot do, and beating Articuno much more efficiently too. But on the flipside, Wiggly is much tankier and locks down many matchups more easily, especially Fighters. (Wiggly beats Toxicroak with about 30 more HP, Medi and Champ and Blaze with about 50 more HP, and Scrafty and Gallade with about 60 more HP left over). But A-Tails DOES still beat them all comfortably enough, and you have to like the other niches it has in its favor. Wiggly is probably still more reliable overall, but there is perhaps a higher ceiling for A-Tails here….
Razor Leaf | Sludge Bomb & Moonblast/Leaf Blade
Here we go again, with me recommending Shadow VILEPLUME over the more infamous Shadow VICTREEBEL. (Hence why Plume made it into the header image! 📸) The big reason why is a BIG reason: Plume can more easily beat Medicham (and Toxicroak, for that matter), whereas Medi can sneak away with a win over Vic…if Vic tries to throw the Leaf Blade. Straight Razor Leafing is the best way to handle the Medi/Toxi matchups, and yes, Vic will usually comfortably win that way too, but it’s nice that Plume can get a shield AND still win if it wants to. Plume can win everything else Vic does across the board (though G-Fisk can get dicey), and almost always with more HP left in the tank. But there’s a third option as well: Shadow WEEPINBELL with Legacy Razor Leaf, which can beat everything the other two do PLUS Gallade and Gliscor. The ultimate Grasshole? Might be, but man, is it glassy, with Defense far below Haunter and down on the same level as Gastly.😱
Confusion | Poison Fang & Bug Buzz
So the main reason to consider Venomoth is for its Fighting/Fairy/Grass slaying prowess, along with bonuses like Lapras, Beedrill, and Golbat. But there’s a catch, as Psychic Medicham actually wins. (At the time of this writing, PvPoke has Dynamic Punch on Medi instead, which I think is generally not preferred in this meta.)
Counter | Rock Slide & Cross Chop
Rock Slide is always a great weapon, but even with that, Machamp looks just okay overall in this meta. I mean, yes, it beats everything you’d want your Fighter to (Ices, Normals, G-Fisk) and bonuses like Swampert, Blaziken, and even Venusaur, but it’s not the awe inspiring performance people probably hope for. Even Shadow Champ only goes so far, dropping Abomasnow and Swampert to pick up the other two Mud Boys instead. I am guessing at this point that Aboma and Swampy may be more relevant in this meta overall, so this may also be that rare meta where you want regular Champ rather than the currently more popular Shadow version. Or perhaps (gasp! 😲) go with another Fighter entirely? Perhaps even….
Counter | Night Slash & Close Combat
Medicham and Machamp and Toxicroak get all the press, but I’m just gonna leave this right here. Yep, it can beat Champ and Croak. And all three Mud Boys. And Froslass, and Noctowl, and all the stuff you’d expect from a Fighter (G-Fisk, Ices, Normals, etc). All those choices you had to make between regular and Shadow Machamp? Primeape beats ALL of those (Aboma, Quag, Swampert, Whiscash). King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on Primeape… and in this meta, perhaps Machamp doesn’t either?.
Mud Shot | Ice Punch & Dynamic Punch
You would think that with its Ice Punch, Poli would have an easier time than most Fighters against things like Flyers and Grasses. But for the most part, you would be wrong. While it is true that Poliwrath is able to handle Gliscor while the other Fighters mentioned thus far cannot, Poli actually loses to Noctowl, WA Pidgeot, Articuno, and Venusaur, things that other Fighters can beat, as well as losing to Toxicroak, Machamp, and Quagsire. Poli is still dangerous in the right hands, but it’s a bit of an uphill battle in Nightfall Cup.
Counter | Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb
Yet another solid Fighter option, what Toxicroak has going for it here is mostly tied to its Poison side. That gives it a resistance to Fighting damage which allows it to beat Medicham, Machamp, Poliwrath, and most others (though not Primeape, typically), as well as a handy resistance to Grass damage, allowing it to best Venusaur and Shadow Vic and Weep. (Shadow Plume manages a victory, though.) But there’s a cost, as Croak also usually loses out to Froslass and the Mud Boys (where the Poison typing is a liability, with its weakness to Ground damage). And those are the unique particulars of THIS Fighter.
Counter | Power-Up Punch & Foul Play
Good AND bad here. The good is that it beats Froslass and, uniquely, Gallade thanks to its literal Dark side, and has at least the potential to overcome Shadow Beedrill with a perfect Power-Up Punch bait, Gallade and Beedrill being things the other Fighters above can only dream of beating. But the trade-off is big, AND bad: it loses to all the other Fighters of note, which prey on Dark’s weakness to Fighting damage. That is a major downside that will probably keep Scrafty on the bench this month, and rightly so.
Counter | Close Combat & Megahorn
Very solid overall for those able to get one, doing most of the good the other Fighters can, though it does tend to lose to Noctowl and Froslass. On paper it also loses to Venusaur and Grassholes and Psychic Medicham, but Megahorn turns all of those around in a hurry if it lands and is a threat that MUST be properly respected with shields.
Counter | Leaf Blade & Close Combat
Last Fighter for now, I promise! Sirfetch’d actually performs nearly identically to Shadow Machamp, sharing all the same meta wins and losses. The one thing it really has going for it is Leaf Blade, which makes it especially dangerous to anything part Water and especially to the Mud Boys; it shreds Quagsire and rips through Whiscash more effectively than any other Fighter. But that’s also a liability against Abomasnow, who it loses to thanks to that and its general frailty, the latter of which also means it loses many Fighter-on-Fighter battles (Medi, Champ, Croak, etc.).
Ice Shardᴸ | Icy Windᴸ & Blizzard
Okay, getting back to rough Pokédex order after all those Fighters. Dewgong loses to most of them and the Grasses, but can beat most of the rest of the meta. Like, literally… note that the entire list of losses is comprised of Fighters, Grass, and two fellow Ices that resist Dewgong’s moves (Lapras and A-Tails). Dewgong wears everything else down, most of it with just Icy Wind. Blizzard‘s killing power is needed to finish off Abomasnow and Quagsire, and more comfortably defeat Froslass, Bibarel, and G-Fisk, but Icy Wind can defeat those all too in a pinch. Dewgong remains a steady performer even in a meta chock-full of Fighters and Grasses itching to rip into it.
Shadow Claw | Shadow Punchᴸ & Sludge Bomb
So I’m going to say something controversial here. While Sludge Bomb is sometimes a quirky alternative to Shadow Ball, here I think Bomb is hands down THE second move you want in this meta. Why? Because there are enough meta Normals (Wigglytuff, Bibarel) and even Darks around that resist Shadow Ball that it could be a liability uncomfortably often. Sludge Bomb doesn’t have that problem, leading directly to wins over Wiggly, Bibarel, Scrafty and others that Shadow Ball cannot achieve. The only “core meta” thing you miss out on by NOT having Shadow Ball is Quagsire, which is very likely not going to be a prevalent as things like Wigglytuff anyway. I really do think it’s Bomb or bust… and I also think Haunter has the slight edge over Gengar here too, with Haunter’s extra Attack making some fringe stuff like Scrafty and Bib more winnable.
Mud Shot | Stone Edge & Earthquake/Sludge Bomb
As I just hinted above, I don’t expect Lord Quag to lord over this particular meta. It does some good things but doesn’t really set itself apart from (or above) the other Mud Boys. You can mix things up a bit by including Sludge Bomb, but Sludge Wave Swampert this ain’t. (Quag still loses to Wigglytuff even then, for example.) I am always a big Quag proponent, but here? Losing to the Fighters (including Medicham) and Wigglytuff and only JUST barely overcoming Froslass? Yeah, not even I can really recommend it, sadly.
Confusion | Earth Power & Psychic
Not many Confusion users in this meta to handle Fighters and Poisons, but Claydol is one of those select few. The problem is that the one major Fighter that escapes its nubby arm grasp is the one you probably care about the most: Medicham and its dang super effective Ice Punches. Grrrrr. And unfortunately, the many Poisonous Grasses that typically hate facing Confusion are… well, Grasses, and thus also unfavorable matchups for Claydol. On the flipside, Claydol is the very rare Confusioner that CAN beat Galarian Stunfisk (Rock resistance FTW!), and it is bulky enough to hold up against the Charmers too. It can also be a budget pick if you need one, as the only charge move it really ever needs is Earth Power, with Psychic (the move) just being for shields-down situations against things it hits particularly hard.
Powder Snow | Avalanche & Shadow Ball
As always with Froslass, it’s not JUST about the raw numbers. The combination of wins Lass can achieve is truly unique… what else beats Medicham AND Dewgong AND Grasses (Venu and Aboma) AND Flyers (Noctowl, Pidgeot, Golbat) AND Grounds like Swampert and Gliscor? I can’t think of anything. Froslass is an extremely popular Pokémon (a lot of people salivate over the hard-to-engineer 1 shield advantage numbers, for one thing) that you can expect to see a lot of in December, so whether you plan to utilize it or not, get to know what it can do so you at least know how to handle it. And yes, save a shield for it too. 😅
Powder Snow | Body Slam & Water Pulse
Not as heralded as Froslass, but still does a lot of good things… including beating Lass head to head. Sealeo doesn’t have any real shot against Fighters or Aboma/Venu, though it nicely replicates the rest of what Lass can do, and adds on Mud Boys, Lapras, Articuno and others. It’s more of a classical Ice type in performance, but it’s a good performance that comes without Legacy moves, unlike Lapras and Dewgong. Consider it a budget version of that pair.
Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Energy Ball
At this point, Aboma needs little introduction, so let’s get to the question you want answered most: regular or Shadow? The extra bulk of non-Shadow allows it to hang around and overcome Dewgong, Articuno, and surprisingly, potentially even Shadow Machamp! But the extra punching power of Shadowbama gives it greater overall upside, with unique wins against G-Fisk, Noctowl, Beedrill, Lapras, and potentially Toxicroak. (Do note the Champ and Croak wins rely on the opponent trying to throw a charge move… if they go straight Counter, Aboma will surely falter.) So which flavor sounds better for YOUR team?
Infestation | Gunk Shot & Seed Bomb/Body Slam
Raging over all the Trubbish you’ve hatched from those Red GO Rocket eggs? Take your revenge by evolving one and putting it to good use. Yes, I’m actually serious. That sim has hatch level IVs, and beats Medicham and all Charmers and Grasses in the entire format except for Aboma, PLUS Swampert, Lapras, Vigoroth, Scrafty and more. Yes, REALLY. I know this is just niche spice, but dang, that’s a pretty sweet niche, isn’t it? Take THAT, Team Rocket!
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
The lack of the infamous Dark/Poisons in this article may be shocking, but both ALOLAN MUK and SKUNTANK sadly do very little aside from Grass control, blunting the little bit of Confusion in the meta, and sorta-countering the Charmers, and even that last use case can get uncomfortably close. Neither look incredibly reliable in Nightfall…. TENTACRUEL was actually my final cut, because it’s not that it’s bad at all–it provides top notch Charmer control and handles many Fighters and Ices well–but it just doesn’t look as good as I feel like it should be. I’m sure the Grasses and Mud Boys around are what’s really holding it back, but it doesn’t help at all that Froslass, G-Fisk, and even Medicham beat it without too much trouble either…. There really isn’t anything wrong with HARIYAMA, it’s just that there’s really no good reason to use it over the myriad of more flexible Fighters…. Oh, I badly wanted to recommend FARFETCH’D, but even if you’re a madlad that takes it up to Level 50 when able, you’d have to be a little crazy to actually DO that. And while it does sport some nice wins (Grasses, all three Mud Boys, Bee, several Fighters), you’re once again left with something that can’t handle the biggest names (Medi, G-Fisk, Lass, Charmers, etc.). I appreciate anyone who’s willing to try, but I cannot in good conscience tell you to blow your dust that way…. I also badly want to be able to encourage using FARIGAMARIF… uh, I mean Garifamafig… uh, Geeraffohmarig?…whatever it is for the first time since Season 1. But the main reason to use it, for Confusion, is blunted by the fact that it takes neutral damage from the Fighters you’d want to deploy it against, so many (including Medi) fend it off. So sad. At least it beats the Poisonous Grasses and… uh… most other Poisonous things too?
75,000 Dust/75 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Counter | Close Combat & [Elemental] Punch
Yes, ANOTHER viable Fighter. Hitmonchan has the advantage of being able to keep the opponent on their toes, at least during the first shield decision, with a full suite of Elemental Punches at its disposal. The overall best does seem to be, as it is for Medicham, Ice Punch, which beats Venusaur (Thunder Punch cannot) and Gliscor and Swampert (which neither Thunder nor Fire Punch can). ‘Chan doesn’t do much against other Fighters, but it does handle everything else you’d want out of your Fighting type very capably. And you CAN get its second move on the cheap if you remember to utilize the Baby Discount™ for a cheap 10k dust second move unlock before evolving a high Defense Tyrogue. If you play it right, this could actually end up being a very cheap Medicham Lite.
Ice Shardᴸ/Water Gun | Surf & Ice Beamᴸ/Skull Bash/Blizzard
Wherever there is a meta with Ice or Water, Lapras is sure to be. It seems that this is a meta that favors the relative speed of Legacy Ice Beam over slower Blizzard or Skull Bash, with Beam getting there against Venusaur (and showing unique wins over Toxicroak and Gallade too, but those are really won with just Surf), though the slower moves are usually needed to finish off Wigglytuff, and Skull Bash in particular gives Lapras its best wins over Dewgong and Bibarel and others that resist Water and Ice damage. OR this is a meta where you can even deploy Water Gun Lapras, a configuration that abandons those wins over Venu, Gallade, and Croak to get Lapras’ cleanest and easiest win over Wiggly, plus new wins over Blaziken and Galarian Stunfisk, and those are some nice pickups. Shadow Lapras isn’t as successful though, with Ice Shard OR with Water Gun, giving up wins against things like Aboma, Toxicroak, Beedrill, and/or Golbat. Just stick with Laprases (Laprasi? Lapreer?) without red eyes for this one.
Wing Attack | Night Slash & Return/Dig
Why don’t I see anyone talking about Gligar yet? I mean, just look at this thing. Beats Medicham (and all other meta Fighters but Poliwrath, for that matter), beats the Grasses (aside from Ice in disguise Aboma), beats the Charmers, beats Noctowl and Golbat and Beedrill and big brother Gliscor. And if you roll with Dig rather than the Return used above, you do drop Owl and Venusaur, but then beat Galarian Stunfisk. I feel like more people should be chatting Gligar up.
Wing Attack | Night Slash & Earthquake
I DO see people talking about Gliscor, perhaps because it does handle G-Fisk more consistently, but other than that, it seems to be to just be a worse Gligar, unable to beat Venusaur or Golbat, and beating Medicham and Razor Leafers by… well, only a razor thin margin (coming out with double digit less life than the tankier Gligar does, with 5 HP or less left, a worrying result). As I said, Gliscor DOES capably handle G-Fisk, but otherwise it just seems riskier to me than the steadier hand of little bro Gligar. Perhaps I’m missing something?
Mud Shot | Rock Slide & Earthquake
One of the bigger bullies in Great League at the moment (though some of the new Gen6ers may knock it down a peg or two moving forward), G-Fisk can be downright abusive here too. Ices, Flyers, Bugs, even the Grasses (aside from Torterra, as discussed earlier) all fall before it. G-Fisk pairs nicely with something that can handle the Fighters and Mud Boys that threaten it… something like Medicham, perhaps?
Confusion | Leaf Blade & Close Combat
That’s right: ANOTHER Fighter. But Gallade is of course not your standard Fighting type, as it relies on Confusion to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Thanks to that, it beats most other Fighting types, with only half-Dark Scrafty able to reliably get away. Confusion also beats Venusaur, Beedrill, and Golbat, and combined with Leaf Blade it gets Quagsire, Whiscash, Lapras, and Bibarel, and even Froslass. Theoretically, you COULD run with only Leaf Blade and save some serious dust, but Close Combat is a great closer and Gallade’s only source of important Fighting damage. Going the other direction, you can get MORE expensive with Shadow Gallade and add wins versus Shadow Vic, Articuno, and Dewgong for the low cost of now losing Vigoroth. That’s not a cheap deal, but it is a GOOD deal!
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
VIGOROTH may be a surprised exclusion, but being a Normal type with Fighting is really only great when there aren’t a boatload of other Fighters around, and so Viggy is iffy here, with probably the one boast it can make is that at least it’s not weak to Flying or Confusion damage, for what that’s worth…. SNOWY CASTFORM is just fine, but what does it do that’s special? Nothing, really, so what are you shelling out all your hard earned dust for?…. This may actually be the best meta yet for BRAVIARY, but it still mostly disappoints…. Speaking of disappointing, DRAPION is really sad here, even moreso than the other Dark/Poisons. Stay away.
100,000 Dust/100 Candy
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
Ice Shard | Icy Wind & Hurricaneᴸ/Ice Beam
The main reason to use Artie over the other Ice options is its handy resistance to Grass and the fact that it’s an Ice that is not inherently weak to Fighting moves (though admittedly, it shares that last distinction with Froslass). What that all results in is this, and you can see clearly how hard a counter it is to Grasses, as well as the Mud Boys (double resists Ground damage too!), other Flyers, Beedrill, and even a couple Fighters. Or with Legacy Hurricane, no more Aboma or Scrafty but you DO get Froslass instead. Shadow Articuno is overall a bit worse, with no real shot at Lass, Scrafty, or even Wigglytuff, and really only a mirror match win against non-Shadow Artie to show for it.
I also looked at REGICE, and while it does hold up better than expected, there is nothing about it that stands out. You can do a bit better for your Ice selection.
ᴸ – Legacy/Exclusive Move
In this bonus section, I’ll cover a couple mons that are no less “nifty” than those in the main article above, but require maxing or at least almost maxing out, so they are FAR from “thrifty”! There will be a little Level 50 discussion in here (and likely in future articles) as well, where appropriate.
Counter | Ice Punch & Psychic
Probably didn’t even notice I hadn’t actually covered Medi yet since it was mentioned so often throughout the article! But here we are at last, one of the undisputed top options in Nightfall Cup. It’s not wholly dominant, but MAN, Medi is very good. It not only checks off all the things on the standard Fighter checklist, but Medi also beats all the Mud Boys, Venusaur and Victreebel, and most of its fellow Fighters too. But if you want to see TRUE dominance, check Medicham out at Level 50, with wins now against Toxicroak and Gallade (the only Fighters it lost to at Level 40), plus Shadow Beedrill. About the only things that can handle Medicham at that size are Flyers and Charmers (and Froslass still). Scary! 😱
Lick | Grass Knot & Body Slamᴸ
It’s better than the Laxes, at least, able to beat down Froslass, the Mud Boys, A-Tails, Gallade, Beedrill, and even outtank Shadow Vic, among its more notable wins. But Tung gets particularly interesting at levels over 40, when suddenly it’s able to flip Lapras, Dewgong, Abomasnow, and even Lick-resistant Wigglytuff. This looks to be one of the better over 40 ‘mons to consider for PvP when and if you’re able to consider it!
Powder Snow | Night Slash & Blizzard/Gyro Ball
A buddy raised this one to my attention during Kanto Cup, and I was darn impressed by what this little guy can do, even maxing out below 1300 CP. It’s a very Sandslash-like performance. But even more impressive is one pushed over Level 40, now able to beat ALL Mud Boys, which is really very remarkable considering Shrew’s weakness to Ground damage. Alternatively, running it with Gyro Ball rather than Blizzard gives up the Mud Boys, but picks up a win over the mighty Dewgong. You’d have to be a little crazy to actually push an unevolved Sandshrew to Level 50 🤪, but at least the rewards seem to be worth the effort! The ultimate spice.
Aaaaaaaaaaaand you made it! We’re all done here now. Hopefully this proves helpful in helping you prep for Nightfall Cup. Good luck!
Thank you for reading! I sincerely hope this helps you master Nightfall Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!
JRE has been playing Pokémon GO since the beginning, but having not done anything Pokémon prior, never imagined he’d get so hooked and so into PvP. In starting his own research, deep into Silph Arena and now even GBL metas, he decided to share his findings so other players could benefit, which turned into full fledged articles that multiplied like Tribbles. He’s now been writing multiple regular article series since early in The Silph Arena Season 1, focused on advanced matchups and budget friendly but still viable alternatives for veteran and rookie players alike. A few of his favorite things include powering up oddball Pokémon, going on hikes, spending time with his kids, dad jokes, and raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
You can follow him on Twitter: @JRESeawolf or reach out on Discord: JRESeawolf#8349