Cresselia and the Meta

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From November 20th to December 18, 2018, in Pokemon GO, Cresselia will be crowning gyms as our new legendary raid boss. This comes as a surprise as many were anticipating Palkia and Dialga to follow Giratina in the Tier 5 rotation. This marks the first time in Pokemon GO that a trio has been broken in its first appearance. While this is a curious development, it could signal that Niantic has more in store for the Creation Trio later on as Giratina has an alternate Origin Forme, and the Creation Trio is associated with the Mythic God Pokemon, Arceus. Speculation aside, players still want to know just how good Cresselia is and how to best beat it down.


Best Moveset

  • Confusion or Psycho Cut + Future Sight.

To get straight to the point: with a base attack stat of 152, Cresselia cannot compete with other Psychic-type Pokemon in Pokemon GO. If you want a Psychic-type attacker, go with Mewtwo, Alakazam, or Espeon. If you want a bulky Psychic-type attack, go with Lugia or Metagross. The best we can hope for with Cresselia in the Pokemon GO meta is that its appearance could signal its counterpart Darkrai (a highly anticipated Dark-type Pokemon) being added to Pokemon GO sooner rather than later. If Cresselia happens to be your all-time fave or you are particularly determined to use it, you’ll have the best results pairing Confusion with Future Sight.

Cresselia has a bit more hype in the main series games where status effects and healing moves allow Cresselia to stall its opponents and support the team. Perhaps if status moves are added in the future and/or being extra tanky is important in the future release of PvP, Cresselia could see a boost in viability. However, even with these updates in mind, Cresselia’s future prospects don’t look too good.


It’s not mandatory to hit these breakpoints or bulkpoints, but they are the levels where your attacker will have a noticeable improvement in their performance. If you are unfamiliar with what a breakpoint or bulkpoint is, we suggest checking out our guides on breakpoints and bulkpoints. If you’re curious about the breakpoints of other Pokemon or fast moves, you can find them using our breakpoint tool. You can find your Pokemon’s unique bulkpoints using our bulkpoint tool as well.

Weather boosts will also affect the breakpoints of Pokemon. We have noted the relevant breakpoints for weather boosted Pokemon down below. Friendship will also influence breakpoints. This article will assume Best Friend status.

Pokemon Breakpoint (Best Friend) Bulkpoint
Tyranitar 30
Gengar, Lick 26 26.5, 33.5, 34.5, 37
Gengar, Shadow Claw 24.5, 33.5 26.5, 33.5, 34.5, 37
Mewtwo, Psycho Cut -- | 30🌬️
Metagross 25 | 25⛄, 38⛄
Weavile 22.5, 29.5 27, 29, 29.5, 30.5
Honchkrow 20.5, 26, 34 32, 35, 38
Scizor 22 | 37.5☔
Pinsir, Bug Bite 31.5 | 36.5☔ 26, 29.5, 32, 39.5
Rayquaza 24.5, 30 | 30🌬️, 40🌬️ 27.5, 29, 34, 38


Get Your Psychic-Type Counters Ready...Again

The counters to Cresselia are exactly the same as Mewtwo and Deoxys. Due to Cresselia’s low attack stat, Gengar is overall the greatest counter in this raid. With Lick or Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball, Gengar’s high DPS (damage per second) may be able to push you into the +3 damage ball range with little trade off in tankiness. Hex is also viable on Gengar, but the DPS drop makes Tyranitar and Mewtwo look more appealing. For those mindful of their Revives (or just really hate relobbying), Tyranitar doesn’t flinch at the Confusions and Future Sights that make Gengar feel squishy.

If you don’t have a full squad of Gengar and Tyranitar, Shadow Ball Mewtwo, Weavile,  Houndoom, and Honchkrow are all great options, resisting Cresselia’s attacks and hitting with powerful super effective damage. Metagross is also an exceptionally tanky counter, resisting every attack Cresselia has but is ultimately held back by its lack of super effective damage. If it’s raining outside, Scizor and Pinsir may also be considered, but they will still struggle to compete with Gengar’s DPS even with the weather boost.

More Options

Should you be lacking a full squad of the above options, there is a wide variety of effective options for this raid. These include Banette, Sharpedo, Mismagius, Rayquaza, Alakazam, Cacturne, Drifblim, Shiftry, Shadow Claw + Blast Burn Typhlosion, Gardevoir, Alolan Muk, Gyarados, Luxray, Entei, and Kyogre. Just keep in mind that level 40 iterations of these “B/C-team” options are usually only as good as level 20-30 options of the greater counters.

Optimizing the Raid

Typically “decent DPS, high TDO” Pokemon are favored over “high DPS, low TDO” options, but in the case of Cresselia, Gengar’s DPS (damage per second) and TDO (total damage output) are both high enough where a player in an uncoordinated raiding group could reasonably achieve +3 damage bonus balls. On average, a level 40 Shadow Claw or Lick + Shadow Ball Gengar will deal 18.85 DPS and last in battle 23.1 seconds. This suggests that a team of 6 Gengar would have dealt ~20.9 TDO (20 TDO being the magic number for +3 damage balls) when fainting after ~138.6 seconds.

Building the Raid Group

In order for this to be upset, the other members of the raid group would have to have a collective DPS greater than 71. Two factors working for or against this are the number of other players and the quality of their Pokemon. A reasonable max amount of players would be 10, which is based on level 25-30 Aggron dealing ~7 DPS. While you often won’t know the quality of the players you’re with, this data suggests that if you’re playing with less than 10 other players, a full team of maxed out Shadow Claw or Lick + Shadow Ball Gengar will likely net you +3 damage balls (chances increasing with lower group sizes). What makes this significant is that for most other raids this range is more narrow.

Of course, the best way to guarantee you get the +3 damage ball bonus is to privately raid with 3 friends (4 if all 5 of you are using the same exact teams). A simple “optimal” battle party for 4 players would be 4 Gengars and 2 Tyranitars, at max/near max level. This would guarantee that you could defeat the raid boss as fast as possible without having to relobby, even against Confusion + Future Sight Cresselia. However, there is no need to get so technical for this 4 man clear; you could achieve the quad with all 4 of you using level 25 Meteor Mash Metagross for example.


Cresselia being the raid boss after Giratina was quite the surprise. While it is a shame that Palkia and Dialga are delayed, Cresselia’s appearance suggests that we may get Darkrai sooner rather than later. If not, we’re at least getting one of Gen 4’s more boring raid bosses out of the way early on.

Beating Cresselia is a relatively easy task. Just use Ghost and Dark-type Pokemon and you will be fine. If you’re into optimizing your bonus balls, Gengar’s buff makes it reasonable for a solo/casual-core player to hit +3 damage bonus balls if the raid group is less than 10 players, provided the other 9 players use relatively poor counters. This doesn’t sound like much, but the performance range for such a feat has historically been much more narrow. As always, raiding privately with 3-4 friends is the greatest way to insure your bonuses.

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