GOStadium Meta Team & G47IX
2 days ago
New Shadow Pokémon
What would the Season of Rising Heroes be, without the addition of a few new villains to the mix? With the upcoming Team GO Rocket Takeover event, which takes place from March 25 at 10 am local time to March 29 at 8pm local time, we will see the introduction of six new Shadow Pokémon to the game. How does the sinister six of the Alolan Grimer, Phanpy, Treecko, Torchic, Drifloon, and Regice lines stack up? Let’s find out!
=== ALOLAN GRIMER AND ALOLAN MUK
Shadow status has proven to be a successful trait on fellow Dark/Poison types Skuntank and Drapion. This is a cause for excitement with both Alolan Grimer and Alolan Muk.
Alolan Grimer is essentially a wealthy trainer’s Skuntank. Both have nearly identical stat distributions and movepools. The main differences are: a) Alolan Grimer has slightly more HP and less defense than Skuntank, b) Skuntank has access to Flamethrower while Alolan Grimer has access to Gunk Shot, and c) Alolan Grimer is eligible for Kanto Cup, while Skuntank is eligible for Sinnoh Cup. In this sense, the addition of both Shadow Alolan Grimer and Purified Alolan Grimer with Return won’t provide much difference from what Shadow and Purified Skuntank already do, respectively (Return Alolan Grimer does have one advantage over Return Skuntank though; it's easier to fit one under 1500 CP after purification). Does that mean it is something you should ignore? It depends. If you are a more casual player of the game, it might make more sense to just stick with the significantly less expensive Skuntank. If you are a more hardcore player of the game, you will likely want to add these new toys to the collection. That being said, between Kanto Grimer, Shadow Kanto Grimer, Purified Kanto Grimer with Return, Alolan Grimer, Shadow Alolan Grimer, and Purified Alolan Grimer with Return, the hardcore player is going to need an extreme amount of Candy XL in order to build them all.
Shadow Alolan Muk, on the other hand, is going to be a massive addition to the meta. This should not be too surprising, as it combines the hard hitting Poison Jab with the defense lowering Acid Spray. If you were sad that Nidoqueen can no longer 12345 past everything, just wait until Alolan Muk can 1234567 its way past nearly everything that does not resist Poison. Some of its potential win pickups are valuable, such as both Noctowl and Lanturn 1S in GL, making Shadow Alolan Muk a potential breaker to the Noctowl/Lanturn/Trevenant combination. Similar to other Shadows, it comes with drawbacks and you will need to weigh the pros and cons for which version of Alolan Muk to select.
Alolan Muk can also be purified to learn Return, but chances are this won’t see significant play. Dark Pulse is slower than Crunch, meaning that Skuntank and Alolan Grimer should overall perform better when running both Poison Jab and Return. Alolan Muk can flex a Snarl and Return moveset, but the sim results don’t really show anything worthy of running and Drapion with Poison Sting and Return just feels better at this. There’s also the issue of being unable to purify an Alolan Muk under 1500 CP without low level account shenanigans, making it an Ultra League only consideration for most players.
It’s now time to speak about the elephant in the room. Donphan is one of this author’s personal favorite Pokémon to run (Tangent, if that wasn't already clear). Does that make it any good? Not really, but it is fun to try out every now and again. Its combination of Counter + Body Slam does give it a funky Vigoroth impersonation (complete with disastrous Trevenant matchup!) It can see play in limited cup formats and isn’t really suited for open. Will the shadow be enough to tip the scales and more member's to Tangent's Phan Club?
Donphan appears to perform as a sidegrade as a shadow in Great League. It picks up notable matchups, such as Shadow Charizard, Scrafty, and Walrein in the 1S. This also comes with the usual drawbacks, such as dropping Noctowl and Diggersby in the 1S. It drops a lot of important 0S matchups, such as Lickitung, and Scrafty, due to an inability to tank a charged attack. But it generally gains in the 2S, such as adding Shadow Swampert and Mandibuzz. Overall, Shadow Donphan is a sidegrade you will probably never think twice about until you reach the 6th round of your draft format.
In Ultra League, it appears to be an expensive and worse version of the non-shadow version. Shadow Donphan sees mostly matchup drops in the 1S and only minor changes in the 0S and 2S. Perhaps it plays better than it sims, but chances are your stardust is better spent elsewhere.
What about Return Donphan? As tempting as it would be to run Counter + Body Slam + Return in order to be walled even harder by Trevenant than you already are, you probably can skip thinking about Return on the rolling elephant.
Sceptile is a weird pokemon to evaluate the effectiveness of Shadow boost on- nonexistent fast move pressure combined with hard hitting charged moves, combined with already miniscule bulk is the kind of a combo that sounds like a worst case scenario for Poke-Rabies, but a naive sim on PvPoke does at a glance indicate otherwise. Indeed- Shadow Sceptile does pick up quite a few wins in open Great League, with either Bullet Seed or Leaf Blade no less.
It’s a good idea to remain sceptical of its newly gained prowess however- sims are idealized scenarios, and are especially bad at accurately portraying having to play from behind- if you’re already ahead on tempo, Shadow Sceptile’s superpowered Leaf Blades can wreak havoc, but the moment the tides shift and grassy lizard’s controller is on their back foot, its inability to tank even a single charged attack will sting, and it will sting hard.
A change for the worse like that is especially clear in Ultra League, where even a shadow-boosted Earthquake won’t finish most things off, and where taking 20% more damage from everything while still needing the same number of charged attacks to deal with opponents spells disaster.
In short: Worth grabbing one for Great League, not so much for Ultra League. In addition, if you’re feeling extra spicy, Shadow Grovyle also sees minor improvements in Great League, now that its one advantage over its big brother in Quick Attack got buffed to the point of usability.
Return? No :)
Speaking of terribly glassy pokemon that end up being massive shield sponges.
While all raiders will no doubt cry out in joy at having a brand new incredibly expensive to build and equally powerful fire type to use maybe twice a year, on the PvP front Shadow Blaziken… is actually really good too!
Granted, it’s still not a pokemon you want to have *anywhere* near the ruthless arena of open Great League, but in limited formats it's quite likely to make a proper name for itself, purely off the back of its obscenely potent Counters. Shadow Blaziken is the single hardest hitting fighter in all of PvP, easily surpassing Lucario and even Breloom, and that alone is enough to let it get a bunch of new wins. Who cares that Quagsire or Poliwrath resist fire if by the time this very angry chicken gets to the second Blaze Kick they’re already in red? Who cares that Florges resists fighting if each Blaze Kick does almost 50%?
Of course, new wins are only one side of the coin- for each new victory that Blaziken achieves through the power of sheer brute force, it takes on a new, oftentimes embarrassing loss thanks to the fact that even sneezing on it brings it into yellow. The end result of this exchange of wins is Shadow Blaziken ending up as a situational sidegrade to its normal self- the normal one is already not durable at all, but at least it doesn’t lose to Grass types on the regular.
In Ultra League, things take a turn- a turn for the better that is. Enough so that Shadow Blaziken joins the pantheon of open Ultra League? No lol, lmao even- but more than enough for the angry chicken to act as a notable upgrade regardless, especially in the realm of Ultra Premier. There, Shadow Blaziken grabs several important new wins, including Trevenant, Toxicroak Mandibuzz on non-Stone Edge sets, and Galvantula in 1s, Shadow Swampert in 2s, and several things in 0s- and most importantly, it gets them without having to give up almost any wins while at it.
Return? Also No :)
Absolutely worthwhile to grab, especially for Ultra League.
And this is where we get into the stinky part of the article. Drifblim on its own isn’t particularly tanky- its bulk is very much on the mediocre side, and even if it’s aided by access to Icy Wind, its lifespan in neutral matchups is still rather limited. The blimp’s play pattern is simple- either Icy Wind something twice in a row, or Icy Wind + Shadow Ball, depending on the target. In order to fulfill that grand plan, Drifblim needs to live just long enough to get to these two moves one after another, and preferably not a second longer to not let the opponent farm up too much.
Regular Drifblim barely survived many matchups that Shadow Drifblim just simply doesn’t, including absolutely embarrassing ones like Shadow Machamp in 1-1 shields. While Ghosts aren’t expected to be able to take on Dark types and win, regular Drifblim could at least take wins against Poison/Darks that weren’t running any Dark moves, such as the Aqua Tail / Sludge Bomb moveset on Drapion or the two Hisuian spiky fish- and Shadow Drifblim just doesn’t.
On the flipside, there are some matchups where the extra oomph lets the angry blimp avoid its post-mortem mortality by the virtue of only having to go for two Icy Winds instead of Icy Wind + Shadow Ball (Gourgeist), or where the boosted Shadow Ball hits just hard enough to steal the win before the opponent’s haymaker (Rainy Castform). Whether the losses or the gains turn out to be more important will depend heavily on the format, but the general feel the author got was that Shadow Drifblim was on average not worth it when compared to the already mediocre normal variant.
Ultra League results only cement that impression- there are some impactful losses in there, such as Charizard and Dragonite in 2-2 shields, Cofagrigus and Scrafty in 1-1 shields, or Talonflame in 0-0 shields. The couple less important wins angry blimp scrounges up to try and make up for that sadly don’t even come close to accomplishing that. There are so many better Ghost types in either league nowadays that it’s really not worth it to spend hundreds of thousands of your hard earned grains of stardust on something that is, at best, mediocre.
Return? Take a wild guess :)
If you remember our previous analysis of new shadows, you may recall how absolutely terrible Shadow Registeel was compared to the regular Registeel, how utterly inferior, how unworthy of any attention in the slightest. Regice is the exact same deal, to nobody’s surprise. And no, it doesn’t want Return either- I would honestly just advise skipping this one completely and saving your Super Radar for something better.
===Play! Pokemon Legality
We will see these new Shadow and Purified forms legal for Sanctioned play on April 1st at the Fort Wayne and Sydney Regionals.
There you have it! Shadow Alolan Grimer/Muk and Blaziken are certainly worth your time and effort. Shadow Sceptile could be a hidden gem. The rest are all mostly forgettable but could find a niche someday. We here at the meta analyst team hope you have a successful Rocket event and an amazing rest of your season.
Written by Tangent444 & redspah