In the month of December 2020 the huge GO Beyond update will drop in Pokémon GO, and it will bring a lot of news. Among them, the most relevant when it comes to PvP is by far the possibility to power up your pokémon beyond their previous maximum CP — all the way up to level 50!
In this article we’re going to explore what this means for the metagame of the Ultra League, looking at all the pokémon that are going to receive the most significant upgrades. And if you’re curious about the Great League too, you can read all about it right here!
The Great Migration
Many pokémon that dominated the Great League used to max out a bit too low to be competitive in Ultra, but now they’ll have the means to perform — as long as you have the resources to power them up of course, which is a lot given how absurdly expensive going from level 40 to 50 looks to be. It’s the Great Migration from Great to Ultra League, if you will!
Deoxys - Defense
Counter + Rock Slide & Thunderbolt
|Old Rank 1||ATK 125.6||DEF 272.6||HP 120||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2274 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 130.6||DEF 287.3||HP 127||Level 49.5||IV 12-13-15||2500 CP|
Despite being already decent, Deoxys-D had never seen much play in Ultra League due to the steep investment required, with its candy being so rare and no option to trade for a Lucky. Well, those issues obviously get even worse now, but at least its performance gets more interesting. Buffed Deoxys-D can get a close win over Registeel in all even shield scenarios (Thunderbolt required), it can beat Cresselia with shields down and Snorlax in the 1-shield. Its wide spread of balanced matchups is only really ruined by the losses to Giratina, Swampert and the newly buffed Galarian Stunfisk. These few, but very relevant counters still keep it from becoming a Giratina-tier must-have in your Ultra League roster.
Mud Shot + Rock Slide & Earthquake
|Old Rank 1||ATK 125.6||DEF 146.9||HP 201||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2162 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 133.6||DEF 156.2||HP 214||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2445 CP|
The beartrap was already borderline viable, but it’s now got the stats to back up the fantastic typing and moveset. In the Premier Cup it actually becomes comparable to Magnezone, the currently most popular Steel pick in the format. It gains key wins over Ampharos (tanking a Focus Blast!), Magnezone itself and Charizard. However, unlike Zone it loses to Lapras, it needs to bait to have a chance against Empoleon and Gallade, and it struggles a bit more against Grass. So don’t worry, with so many common counters around it’s a great pick but not a meta breaker by any means.
Open Ultra League has some tougher Steel competition in the form of Registeel and Melmetal, but G-Fisk can actually outpace and beat both of them! Thanks to Earthquake it even takes down both Giratina Altered (in the 0- and 2-shield scenarios) and Origin (with some shield baiting), Armored Mewtwo and Alolan Muk — all of which can give issues to Registeel and straight up beat Melmetal. With all of these premises, G-Fisk could arguably be considered on par with Registeel in the top meta of open Ultra.
Air Slash + Sky Attack & Brave Bird
|Old Rank 1||ATK 128.8||DEF 190.4||HP 140||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2108 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 136.9||DEF 202.5||HP 149||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2383 CP|
The Ultra League Premier Cup has lacked a true Flying-type so far, but that might change now that one of the kings of Great League can almost reach the 2500 CP cap. Compared to the current pseudo-Flyers Dragonite and Charizard, Skarmory has better matchups with Dragonite itself, Lapras, Crustle, Gyarados and Kingdra! It’s also a solid wall to Gallade, Venusaur, Tangrowth, and Fairies. Overall, Skarm looks like an upgraded version of Charizard, with the only drawbacks of being weak to Fire and totally walled by Electric.
Dragon Breath + Sky Attack & Dragon Pulse
|Old Rank 1||ATK 123.2||DEF 170.7||HP 154||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2004 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 131||DEF 181.5||HP 164||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2266 CP|
You can’t say Skarmory without Altaria. The fluffy bird can now compete with the Dragon/Flying-type of Ultra League, Dragonite. However, despite the higher bulk and the better matchups against Escavalier, Snorlax and Kingdra, it doesn’t exactly outclass it. Dragonite wins the Dragon mirror too, unless Altaria gives up both shields. Given how similarly the two perform and how expensive it would be to max out Altaria, you’re probably better off going with the cheaper Dragonite anyway.
Bullet Seed + Power Whip & Flash Cannon or Mirror Shot
|Old Rank 1||ATK 136.7||DEF 188||HP 153||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2321 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 138.6||DEF 199.1||HP 163||Level 50||IV 7-14-15||2498 CP|
With its tankiness buffed to Lapras levels, Ferrothorn can now join Abomasnow as the premier anti-Grass Grass-type, shutting down both Venusaur and Tangrowth. It also shares crippling weaknesses to Fire and Fighting with Abomasnow, and the two have a close matchup with each other. Ferrothorn struggles a bit more against Dragonite and Ampharos, but it’s a much harder counter to any Water-type and the Steel typing gives it an edge over Fairies (like Venusaur) as well as Magnezone and Crustle. All in all, it becomes one of the best Grass-types in the Premier Cup, and a pretty unique one at that.
Ferrothorn might have play in open Ultra League too, which other Grasses don’t necessarily enjoy. It can notably annihilate the popular duo of Cresselia and Swampert, wall Charm users, hold its own quite well against Articuno, Armored Mewtwo, Snorlax and Alolan Muk... and only narrowly lose to Giratina!
Incinerate + Drill Run & Flame Charge
|Old Rank 1||ATK 175.4||DEF 139.8||HP 140||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2461 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 170.8||DEF 146||HP 146||Level 47||IV 0-15-14||2495 CP|
The flaming unicorn actually got two upgrades nearly at the same time: a small one to its stats, and a big one to its moveset! It can finally become a legitimate rival to Charizard in the Premier Cup; they have almost the same stats too. Rapidash doesn’t resist Fighting or Ground, but it performs much better against Electric-types and Tangrowth, and even picks up impressive wins in the 1-shield scenario against Water-types Empoleon and Lapras!
In open Ultra League Charizard will still likely keep its crown, thanks to the handy Dragon coverage for the ubiquitous Giratina.
Charm or Powder Snow + Psyshock & Ice Beam
|Old Rank 1||ATK 146.2||DEF 164.3||HP 151||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2309 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 148.7||DEF 174.7||HP 161||Level 47||IV 7-15-15||2497 CP|
Thanks to the additional levels, the majestic Alolan fox becomes the new bulkiest Charm user in the Ultra League, and the one with the cheapest charged move too. A-Tales still performs very much on par with Clefable, the previous holder of those titles, though the extra bulk does help it survive a Sludge Wave from Alolan Muk. The Ice subtyping comes in handy against Articuno, Lapras and Abomasnow, but at the same time it adds weaknesses to Charizard and Crustle.
Another very interesting thing about A-Tales is that it’s great with Powder Snow too! Its role obviously becomes much more similar to the one of Lapras, with a few twists. Thanks to the different subtyping, it’s an Ice-type that can beat Grasses, Fighters and Ampharos. It’s also a much better wall to Gyarados and Kingdra, and although it has a lot more issues than Lapras against Swampert and Charizard, it can put up a decent fight against both. This leaves pretty much only Rock- and Steel-types as hard counters!
Powder Snow + Avalanche & Shadow Ball
|Old Rank 1||ATK 146.9||DEF 130.3||HP 147||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2040 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 156.2||DEF 138.6||HP 157||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2306 CP|
Compared to Lapras, the much squishier Froslass has an interesting advantage is the Ghost subtyping, which means that it only takes resisted damage from Fighting, and neutral from Grass and Electric. Combining this with the sheer power of its charged moves, in the 1-shield scenario Froslass barely manages to get narrow wins over Venusaur, Tangrowth, Toxicroak and Escavalier, and it can situationally overcome Machamp, Ampharos and Abomasnow too. However, Froslass loses to Lapras itself and it does considerably worse against Charizard, Swampert and Crustle among others, much like Alolan Ninetales. If you’re going to invest into one of them, we would definitely recommend the Ice fox.
Counter + Power-Up Punch & Foul Play
|Old Rank 1||ATK 140.6||DEF 187.3||HP 140||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2283 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 144.5||DEF 199.1||HP 149||Level 50||IV 9-15-15||2494 CP|
Level 50 Scrafty looks to be a slight upgrade to Obstagoon for open Ultra League, being able to farm it down and do most of the same stuff just as well: they both take down Giratina only if it runs Shadow Claw, and Cresselia only behind 2 shields. Scrafty is a much more reliable counter to Registeel and Armored Mewtwo, since it can actually tank their Fighting-type nukes, but it can’t touch Fairies like Obstagoon does with Gunk Shot.
Snarl + Last Resort* & Foul Play
|Old Rank 1||ATK 111.4||DEF 201.5||HP 182||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2137 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 118.4||DEF 214.2||HP 194||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2416 CP|
At level 50 Umbreon becomes one of the bulkiest pokemon in the League, only slightly below Cresselia and way above Giratina, both of which it actually counters. In open Ultra it actually functions very similarly to Alolan Muk, with a much harder Giratina win (even at a shield disadvantage against the Dragon Breath variant!) and more play into Swampert, but no coverage against Fairies. These advantages aren’t likely worth the high additional Stardust cost to max out Umbreon, so you might as well stick with good old A-Muk for now.
The same thing goes for the Premier Cup, where Muk has another key advantage over Grass, but doesn’t do as well as Umbreon against Gallade, Lapras, Crustle and Kingdra.
Snarl + Foul Play & Aerial Ace
|Old Rank 1||ATK 113.8||DEF 173.8||HP 203||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2138 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 121||DEF 184.8||HP 215||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2417 CP|
Most of the paragraph about Umbreon also applies here. Mandibuzz has almost identical stats and moveset, but the Flying typing gives it a unique advantage over most Fighting-types, while keeping Alolan Muk’s anti-Grass role and Umbreon’s key win against Swampert. The best of both Dark worlds! Mandibuzz does have a few more weaknesses than Umbreon though, most notably to Ice, Electric and Rock.
Volt Switch + Lunge & Discharge
|Old Rank 1||ATK 170.7||DEF 113||HP 147||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2206 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 181.5||DEF 120.1||HP 157||Level 50||IV 15-15-15||2494 CP|
Getting right below the cap at level 50, the yellow spider is now a direct competitor to Ampharos in the Premier Cup. The Bug typing gives more play against Fighting and Grass, but also a weakness to Fire: it can still farm down Charizard, but it has to shield twice. It has to shield almost all the time in fact, being as squishy as the likes of Gallade and Dragonite. Thanks to Focus Blast, Ampharos also keeps an edge against Snorlax, Alolan Muk and the Steel-types.
Galvantula could actually be an interesting spicy pick even in open Ultra League, where it counters both Cresselia and Registeel, as well as Articuno, Togekiss and Obstagoon too. The very negative matchups with Giratina and Swampert are hard to overlook, though.
Volt Switch + Thunder Punch & Grass Knot or Psychic or Wild Charge
|Old Rank 1||ATK 170.7||DEF 133.5||HP 134||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2286 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 175.6||DEF 142||HP 142||Level 50||IV 8-15-14||2494 CP|
Like for Galvantula, we’re going to have to compare A-Chu to Ampharos when it comes to the Premier Cup. One advantage it has for sure is the versatile and unpredictable moveset: Grass Knot and Psychic can one-shot its main Ground and Grass counters and deal neutral damage to Ampharos itself, while Wild Charge threatens pretty much everything else. The Psychic typing does bring inconvenient losses to Snorlax, Crustle, Alolan Muk and Obstagoon, but also extra resistances to Machamp’s Counter and Gallade’s Confusion. Overall, Galvantula and Raichu are both very interesting new Electric glass cannons, but they don’t really blow Ampharos out of the water.
Bubble or Hex + Shadow Ball & Ice Beam or Bubble Beam
|Old Rank 1||ATK 137.5||DEF 152.5||HP 189||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2338 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 138.6||DEF 161.3||HP 201||Level 50||IV 6-15-14||2500 CP|
This is for sure a new face, since it’s not even in the game yet. Jellicent’s release has been long awaited for its potential to break the Great League meta — well, surprise! It’s going to be big in Ultra too. Especially in the open format, where it can completely wall Registeel, shut down Cresselia and threaten Giratina, despite only consistently beating the Dragon Breath variant. The Hex, Shadow Ball and Bubble Beam moveset is recommended here, since there isn’t much Grass to hit with Ice Beam and the main Dragon is also weak to Ghost anyway. In this anti-meta role Jellicent actually functions a lot like a Gyarados that also walls Ice- and Fighting-types. However, it doesn’t do nearly as well against Earthquake Swampert, Alolan Muk, Snorlax and Gyarados itself.
In the Premier Cup we’re instead going to look primarily at the more versatile Bubble, Shadow Ball and Ice Beam moveset. With it, Jellicent does generally manage to take down Snorlax as well as Empoleon, Charizard, Crustle, Charm users, in addition to the already mentioned Ices and Fighters. Leaving only Electric, Grass and the occasional Dark as counters, it’s probably going to be one of the premier Water picks in the format as soon as it gets released in game. Hopefully soon… right, Niantic? Please?
Beyond the ones highlighted above, there a lot more pokémon which can now get much closer to the 2500 CP threshold, but still remain suboptimal. Here’s a quick rundown of what we wouldn’t recommend investing in, unless you like spicy picks or the particular pokémon.
- Regular Stunfisk doesn’t shine nearly as much as its Galarian cousin, as the Electric typing doesn’t really help with any weakness and it also gets outperformed by other Electric-types such as Ampharos and Magnezone.
- Ninetales plays similarly to the aforementioned Rapidash, with higher tankiness but a much slower moveset, becoming another viable Fire-type for the Premier Cup, something which Alolan Marowak still can’t do.
- Hypno grows the list of spicy Confusion users instead, with unpredictable coverage and a better Grass matchup compared to Slowbro.
- Primeape’s access to Night Slash might seem tasty on paper, but it’s not nearly enough to flip the Giratina matchup given how squishy the monkey is: you’ll be better off playing Obstagoon if you want the Counter and Night Slash combo.
- Mantine and Pelipper don’t really offer any worthy advantage over fellow Water/Flying-type Gyarados, though Pelipper does have more play into Grass. That also goes for Dewgong compared to Lapras.
- Whiscash and Politoed have to compete with Swampert instead, and although they have their perks (Cash can hit Giratina with Blizzard, Earthquake Toed wrecks Empoleon) it’s ultimately hard to justify the much higher cost.
- Skuntank is now a legitimate alternative to Alolan Muk, with a worse Giratina and Swampert matchup, but more consistent damage against Fairies.
These pokémon were already playable in the Ultra League, and they only improve now that they can go beyond level 40 and gain some extra stats. So, instead of comparing them with other pokémon like we did so far, we’re going to look at how much they gain over their former selves.
Lock On + Flash Cannon & Focus Blast
|Old Rank 1||ATK 124.8||DEF 237||HP 162||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2447 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 121||DEF 247.8||HP 172||Level 50||IV 1-10-15||2500 CP|
This is probably not what you were hoping to see: after a deserved nerf to its moves, the infamous trashbin now becomes even tankier. Luckily this has very little impact on its actual matchups, though. The key gains are a non-bait dependent win over Obstagoon in the 2-shield, and another one against non-Earthquake Swampert in the 0-shield; however, both of those feats can be achieved only with top notch IVs, which are extremely difficult to obtain considering the IV floor for trades and their Stardust cost for legendaries.
Shadow Claw + Foul Play & Close Combat
|Old Rank 1||ATK 165.9||DEF 139.8||HP 147||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2386 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 163.8||HP 157||HP 172||Level 50||IV 0-14-15||2497 CP|
The Galarian alternative to Persian was always a great anti-meta pick for open Ultra League, equipped with super effective damage for the whole legendary trio of Giratina, Cresselia and Registeel. Against the latter, with 156+ HP Perrserker can now also pull off a win with shields down, barely surviving the Focus Blast to then fire Close Combat twice in a row. It can also beat Lapras and Obstagoon without needing to bait in the 1-shield scenario, and at least get tie with a 2-shielded Togekiss instead of losing.
In the Premier Cup Perrserker can now notably tank a Wild Charge to beat Magnezone in the 1-shield too. However, the prevalence of Fighting, Fire and Ground damage still makes it less reliable in this format, without its main legendary targets around.
Powder Snow + Weather Ball Ice & Energy Ball
|Old Rank 1||ATK 152.5||DEF 136.7||HP 175||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2362 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 152||HP 185||HP 172||Level 50||IV 3-15-14||2499 CP|
Abomasnow was already quite relevant in the Premier Cup as a Grass-type that can uniquely beat other Grasses as well as Flyers. Now it has more chances to survive one extra charged move to flip the script on Empoleon, Lapras and Snorlax too, and it even manages to beat Clefable in the 2-shield scenario. The improvements aren’t huge, but they’re definitely there. If you had already maxed out a hundo, don’t worry: we suggest giving that one a few more power-ups instead of building a whole new yeti with perfect IV distribution. The difference in performance is minimal (almost always non-existent) anyway.
Powder Snow + Weather Ball Ice & Energy Ball
|Old Rank 1||ATK 154.1||DEF 92.4||HP 258||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2382 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 152||DEF 98.3||HP 274||Level 50||IV 1-15-15||2499 CP|
Similar situation as Abomasnow: previously already viable when maxed out, especially in the Premier Cup, the balloon now gets a minor upgrade in performance. With the new optimal IV spreads, it can snatch a win over pesky Tangrowth and even narrowly beat its supposed counter Snorlax in the 0- and 1-shield scenarios!
Snarl + Leaf Blade & Foul Play
|Old Rank 1||ATK 169.9||DEF 107.4||HP 175||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2333 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 170.5||DEF 98.3||HP 186||Level 50||IV 3-15-15||2490 CP|
Particularly useful in open Ultra League because of its super effective damage on Giratina, Swampert and Cresselia, Shiftry can now also beat the latter in the 2-shield scenario. The extra bulk also brings new wins over Armored Mewtwo, Poliwrath, Lapras, Gyarados and (with good IVs) Dragon Breath Giratina! A huge upgrade overall for this anti-meta pick.
In the Premier Cup, where Dark damage isn’t as relevant, Shiftry will probably continue to live in the shadow of Venusaur.
Charm + Meteor Mash & Psychic
|Old Rank 1||ATK 152.5||DEF 139.8||HP 182||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2437 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 148.6||DEF 147.8||HP 191||Level 49||IV 0-15-13||2500 CP|
The small CP increase nets the already pretty popular Clefable new wins against Snorlax and Alolan Muk in the 1-shield scenario, as well as Escavalier and Sludge Wave Swampert in the 2-shield. Feel free to power up and use the Clefable that you had already maxed out, if you have one, instead of building another one from scratch for better IVs: the hundo performs almost exactly the same as the new rank 1.
Counter + Mud Bomb & Sludge Bomb
|Old Rank 1||ATK 178.6||DEF 116.9||HP 165||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2488 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 173.6||DEF 121.7||HP 170||Level 46.5||IV 0-15-12||2500 CP|
Toxicroak is a glass cannon with great potential in the Premier Cup thanks to its unique Poison/Fighting typing. With the new best IVs it can now survive a little longer to beat Swampert and Ampharos with 2 shields, and barely tank a Wild Charge from Magnezone to win the 1-shield scenario. Having lower Attack can also hurt though! The new rank 1 does lose charged move priority in the mirror, and the slightly reduced damage from Sludge Bomb can be crucial in the 1-shield matchup against Venusaur.
Confusion + Psyshock & Bulldoze
|Old Rank 1||ATK 139||DEF 180.1||HP 143||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2239 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 146.2||DEF 191.5||HP 152||Level 50||IV 13-15-14||2495 CP|
The bell of doom was already a very interesting spicy pick for the Premier Cup, and one that we were only going to see more often as many recently powered up its pre-evolution for the Little Cup. Bronzong could already beat down on Grass, Dragon, Fighting, Fairy and Rock extremely well — now it also wins in all even shield scenarios against Lapras and has more chances to land a Bulldoze against Empoleon and Alolan Muk.
Confusion + Rock Slide & Psychic
|Old Rank 1||ATK 150.9||DEF 173.8||HP 147||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2419 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 147.4||DEF 183.4||HP 156||Level 49.5||IV 0-14-15||2495 CP|
Another Confusion user which had seen some occasional play as a maxed out spicy pick. The increased defensive stats actually do wonders for it, allowing it to reach one extra Rock Slide in the previously negative matchups against Lapras, Charizard, Crustle, Dragonite and Abomasnow!
Water Gun + Hydro Cannon* & Ice Beam
|Old Rank 1||ATK 146.9||DEF 175.4||HP 160||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2466 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 142.4||DEF 182.3||HP 169||Level 48.5||IV 0-12-15||2500 CP|
The OG turtle was always a fringe pick at best, needing to be maxed out to be still outshined by more versatile Water-types. Being able to finally break 2500 CP gives Blastoise lovers some more reasons to use it, as it gains an impressive amount of new wins against the Premier Cup meta: Machamp, Alolan Muk and Earthquake Swampert with shields down; Snorlax, Gengar, Obstagoon, Toxicroak, Shadow Machamp and (with a bait) Dragonite in the 1-shield scenario; Escavalier in the 2-shield.
Shadow Claw + Night Slash & Close Combat
|Old Rank 1||ATK 187.3||DEF 109.8||HP 151||Level 40||IV 15-15-15||2418 CP|
|New Rank 1||ATK 184.3||DEF 115.4||HP 159||Level 48||IV 0-15-15||2500 CP|
Zangoose was gaining popularity as an anti-meta pick in open Ultra League a few months back, until it got outclassed by Perrserker, which has a similar moveset, higher bulk and arguably better typing. Well, this buff doesn’t really help with that issue, but if you have a maxed out Zangoose already lying around and you like to use it, the extra levels will surely be useful to get an extra charged move off here and there. The few real changes in 1v1 matchups (new close wins over Lapras with shields down, Cresselia in the 1-shield, Armored Mewtwo and Swampert in the 2-shield) only apply to a Zangoose the new optimized IVs, which we don’t recommend building from scratch.
Among the other pokémon that get very minor stat increases as they previously maxed out right around the 2500 CP mark, Kingdra is probably the most notable. It can now beat Snorlax in the 1-shield scenario with a bait and flip the 2-shield against Venusaur and Tangrowth depending on debuffs.
The new best IV Poliwrath gains narrow wins with shields down against Magnezone, Charizard and Shadow Claw Giratina. Speaking of no-shield scenarios, Meganium can now overcome Registeel there, while Slowbro can reach another decisive charged move against Empoleon and Venusaur. An optimized Crustle can also now beat Venusaur in the 2-shield. To close on a weird note, the defensive buff isn’t necessarily positive for Lapras: the higher Attack variant has unique wins over Crustle and Toxicroak in the 2-shield, and gets the very relevant priority in the mirror matchup.