The Silph Arena’s third season of competitive Pokémon GO PvP tournaments has only just begun, and it continues for the month of November with the brand new Marsh Cup. Only pokemon with the Grass, Water, Bug, Ghost and Poison typing are eligible, except Tropius, Abomasnow and Mega evolutions.
For those of you unfamiliar with Silph cups, they’re monthly Great League tournaments hosted on silph.gg and organized by local and online communities, where each participant brings a team of 6 pokemon to battle opponents, in a best-of-three format. It’s a step up in complexity from blind GO Battle League battles, so if you’ve grown bored of those, you can give Silph cups a try!
If you want to quickly check the Marsh eligible pokemon in your inventory, here’s a string that you can paste into the in-game search filter:
How to Build Your Team
In the following analysis we’re going to go through the best pokémon to pick for each of the key roles you want to have on your team of 6. Of course you can stray away from this method, completely skip some categories or choose to have multiple pokemon from a same one. This is just meant as a general rule of thumb to end up with a balanced team. Each pokémon mentioned has the recommended moveset listed next to it; asterisks (*) indicate legacy and exclusive moves.
This is easily the first pokémon to include in your team, and the one you're going to face the most. Galvantula (Volt Switch + Discharge + Lunge) is the unique center of the Marsh meta. The Bug/Electric typing gives it play against both Water and Grass, and its ability to debuff the opponent’s Attack stat with Lunge makes up for its lack of bulk. A case can be made for running Energy Ball to surprise Ground-types, or Cross Poison for extra bait potential, in place of the more consistent Discharge.
Sableye (Shadow Claw + Foul Play + Return*) is an extremely versatile generalist. With an energy advantage, it can beat Galvantula and it only consistently loses to Whimsicott. Having the Purified variant with Return comes in handy to threaten Azumarill and the Dark-types that resist Foul Play, since they wouldn’t care as much about standard Power Gem or Shadow Sneak.
Alolan Muk (Snarl + Dark Pulse + Sludge Wave) can fill a similar generalist role, as it also has just 1 weakness — to Ground-types, and it can still hit them with decent neutral damage. The Poison coverage gives it an edge over Fairies and Grasses compared to Sableye, which makes it the better pick if you feel like you’re too weak to those. You could even fit both in the same team!
You’ll need one or two of these in your lineup, given how ubiquitous the spider is looking to be.
Being only weak to Grass, the Water/Ground-types (a.k.a Mudboys) are always really powerful picks. Swampert (Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon* + Sludge Wave) is the most popular pick in the family, followed by the bulkier Whiscash (Mud Shot + Mud Bomb + Blizzard) and the slower Quagsire (Mud Shot + Stone Edge + Sludge Bomb or Earthquake). However, they don’t counter Galvantula hard enough to function alone in this role. They still prefer to be paired with some of the heavier guns below.
Whimsicott (Charm + Grass Knot + Hurricane) is the only thing to really break up the pairing of Galvantula and Sableye, beating down on both with heavy fast move damage. Don’t be fooled by its Grass typing, though: it can often go down to Mudboys unless it’s got 2 shields to hide behind.
Alolan Marowak (Fire Spin + Shadow Bone* or Shadow Ball + Bone Club) wrecks both Bugs and Grasses, including Whimsicott, but also has key weaknesses to Water, Ground and Dark. Having the raid-day exclusive move Shadow Bone is recommended, but not essential.
Crustle (Smack Down + X-Scissor + Rock Slide) trades Marowak’s edge over Grass for favorable matchups against Sableye, Alolan Muk, and Marowak itself. Carracosta (Rock Throw + Body Slam + Surf) is an alternative with more resistance to Water and Ice, but more issues with Galvantula and a crippling double weakness to Grass.
Golurk (Mud Slap + Shadow Punch + Earth Power or Dynamic Punch) is more of a specialist, being the hardest wall to Galvantula and countering Marowak and Rock-types too. It doesn’t enjoy facing almost anything else.
If your spider-killer of choice isn’t Whimsicott, you’ll probably want to have good old Azumarill (Bubble + Ice Beam + Hydro Pump or Play Rough) to still keep Sableye in check, although the little demon can flip the matchup if it lands the Return. The blue egg of death isn’t nearly as feared as usual here, but it can still put in work, even against some of its worse counters.
If you do already have Whimsicott to scare off Sableye instead, you might still want a different Water-type since there are many great options to choose from. Little Rainy Castform (Water Gun + Weather Ball Water + Thunder) is probably the most interesting one: it beats every other Water-type, including pesky Mudboys, as well as Sableye and Alolan Muk too! The only downside is how much it dreads facing Grass-types, having no way to harm them at all.
Double legacy Dewgong (Ice Shard* + Icy Wind* + Water Pulse) also keeps positive matchups with Sableye, Alolan Muk, Mudboys (except for Quagsire) and Azumarill (especially without Play Rough), while having much more play against Grass. It does struggle, however, against Marowak and Steel-types. Lapras (Ice Shard* + Surf + Skull Bash) and Sealeo (Powder Snow + Body Slam + Aurora Beam) do a slightly worse job in the same role, but they completely wall Dewgong itself.
Empoleon (Waterfall + Hydro Cannon* + Drill Peck), Pelipper (Wing Attack + Weather Ball Water + Hurricane) and Mantine (Bubble or Wing Attack + Bubble Beam + Aerial Ace or Ice Beam) function similarly to the Ice-types above, with an extra advantage against Steel and Fire. However they aren’t as comfortable against Azu or Sableye, Empoleon has an extra weakness to Ground, and the other two are double weak to Electric.
Kingdra (Dragon Breath + Octazooka + Outrage) is a weird Water-type, relying more on its Dragon side to threaten pretty much anything that isn’t Fairy or Steel, including Galvantula.
With all these Mudboys and Water-types splashing around, you’ve probably already realized the importance of having at least one true Grass-type in your lineup.
Ferrothorn (Bullet Seed + Power Whip + Flash Cannon or Mirror Shot or Thunder) is a really hard counter to Water-types, but it also loses very hard to Alolan Marowak and quite consistently to Galvantula. Flash Cannon or Mirror Shot generally take down fellow Grass-types, including Whimsicott, and can open up win conditions against Sableye, while Thunder is mainly useful as a neutral hit on Bug/Steel-types.
Venusaur (Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant* + Sludge Bomb), Victreebel (Razor Leaf + Leaf Blade + Acid Spray), Cradily (Bullet Seed + Grass Knot + Stone Edge) and Tangrowth (Vine Whip + Power Whip + Rock Slide) all get walled by Ferrothorn, but they have more play against Sableye and Galvantula, especially the aggressive Shadow variant of Victreebel. Venusaur is the only one to also function as a counter to Whimsicott, while Cradily can uniquely take on Marowak.
Shiftry (Snarl + Leaf Blade + Foul Play) can actually beat Marowak, Sableye and, with 2 shields, Galvantula too! It also holds its own against every other Grass-type here, but it is extremely weak to Whimsicott.
Jumpluff (Bullet Seed + Aerial Ace + Energy Ball) and Meganium (Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant* + Earthquake) are most notable for their high defensive stats. The former does better against fellow Grasses, while the latter has super effective coverage for Alolan Marowak and Muk.
Sunny Cherrim (Bullet Seed + Weather Ball Fire + Solar Beam) is more of a bait-dependent generalist than a true Grass-type, as it’s only walled by Marowak, but can lose to most Water-types if it fails to land the Beam.
Depending on what you picked so far, you might need some more coverage for Grass-types and especially Whimsicott.
Forretress (Bug Bite + Mirror Shot + Earthquake) and Escavalier (Counter + Drill Run + Megahorn or Aerial Ace) are strong picks in this regard, but they come with a double weakness to the other main Grass counter, Alolan Marowak. They also struggle more against Galvantula and still go down to Azumarill, but they do have a better chance to beat Mudboys, Sableye and Alolan Muk. This can’t be said for the other Bug/Steel-type Wormadam-Trash (Confusion + Iron Head + Bug Buzz), which also gets walled by the other two.
Toxicroak (Counter + Mud Bomb + Sludge Bomb) and Heracross (Counter + Close Combat + Megahorn) don’t stand a chance against Whimsicott like fellow Counter user Escavalier, but they can handle most other Grass-types, and yes, they lose to Marowak too. Toxicroak has the key advantage of coverage on Azumarill, while Heracross finds its niche against Mudboys.
Skuntank (Poison Jab + Crunch + Flamethrower or Sludge Bomb), Beedrill (Poison Jab + Drill Run* + X-Scissor or Fell Stinger) and Golbat (Wing Attack + Poison Fang + Shadow Ball) do include Whimsicott in their Grass hit list. The Bat can also bait its way to a win against Marowak and the Mudboys, while the others perform better against Galvantula and Azumarill.
If your team still has one open slot and you enjoy playing versatile picks, here’s a few more to consider. Gengar (Shadow Claw + Shadow Punch* + Shadow Ball) and Haunter (Shadow Claw + Shadow Punch + Shadow Ball) only really fear Alolan Muk and the occasional Shiftry or Wormadam. Even though they don’t reliably win against anything either, given how glassy they are, the threat of their powerful Shadow Ball is guaranteed to at least force shields. Froslass (Powder Snow + Avalanche + Shadow Ball) is quite similar in this regard, being able to one-shot most of its counters, especially with an energy or shield advantage.