Meta Implications: Season 6.5 Changes

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We’re in a weird place with this change. Where many other rebalances have been “Let’s try throwing rebalances at the wall to see what sticks,” Season 6.5 is clearly targeted at Great League meta linchpins. However, the number changes were honestly...kinda small. Let’s run through them!

  • Ember: 3 DPT/3 EPT → 3.5 DPT/3 EPT
  • Karate Chop: 2.5 DPT/3.5 EPT → 2.5 DPT/4 EPT
  • Bubble: 2.66 DPT/3.66 EPT → 2.33 DPT/3.66 EPT
  • Razor Leaf: 5.5 DPT/2 EPT → 5 DPT/2 EPT
  • Crabhammer: 75 Power/50 Energy → 85 Power/50 Energy
  • Sky Attack: 80 Power/45 Energy → 75 Power/45 Energy
  • Rock Slide: 80 Power/45 Energy → 75 Power/45 Energy
  • Shadow Bone: 80 Power/45 Energy → 75 Power/45 Energy

Additionally, some Pokemon gained new moves!

  • Kantonian Vulpix/Ninetales now learn Weather Ball: Fire
  • Alolan Vulpix/Ninetales now learn Weather Ball: Ice
  • Politoed now learns Weather Ball: Water
  • Primeape now learns Ice Punch
  • Claydol now learns Ice Beam and Shadow Ball
  • Porygon2 now learns Tri Attack
  • Excadrill now learns Mud Shot

In brief, though, the move rebalances are pretty minor. These aren’t the life-altering changes some people were worried about. The sky isn’t falling, and the metagame isn’t unrecognizable. You’re still going to see Azumarill, you’re still going to see Altaria, and you’re still going to see Galarian Stunfisk.

Move Rebalances


Ember gained 0.5 DPT, making it a 3.5 DPT/3 EPT move. It’s no Dragon Breath or anything, but it’s certainly more noteworthy as a move! As a move, it’s typically limited to non-final evolution stages, which limits its potential a lot. However, there are a couple of Pokémon that may really benefit because of that! Vulpix in the Little Cup is actually super notable here! With the addition of Weather Ball Fire as well, it’ll have notably more play against Bronzor! Houndour may see similar improvement. Litleo, on the other hand, will more than likely stay running Fire Fang.

Moving out of Little Cup and into Great League, it’s still not huge. Braixen saw some experimentation running Ember/Flame Charge/Psyshock, and this will improve its performance somewhat, but don’t necessarily expect it to be a top meta threat. Typhlosion won’t run it, still preferring to stick with either Incinerate or Shadow Claw for the energy generation. Camerupt is another interesting mon burdened with Ember, and while it’s better, improved fast move damage output doesn’t solve its issues of bad typing, low bulk, and expensive charged moves. Charizard, Rapidash, and Ninetales all have access to Ember as Elite fast moves, but will continue to prefer running their other move options instead. 

Karate Chop

Karate Chop is now a Powder Snow/Vine Whip clone at 2.5 DPT/4 EPT. As a move, that’s really not half bad! It’s gone from “Just bad Counter” to actually being a real move. Now Karate Chop’s biggest issue is just that nothing really learns it. Machamp and Primeape both have access to it with Elite TMs, but will continue to prefer running Counter as it’s an overall more powerful move. Really, if you’re looking at Karate Chop, you have to look at the Magmar line. Since Magby’s over 500 CP at hatch level, and Magmar only has Fire-type charged moves, we can just write those off and take a look at the weird clown duck himself, Magmortar. Magmortar’s got issues from the jump, however, with its incredibly underwhelming bulk, being even squishier than Charizard in the Great League. With Karate Chop, it performs best running Fire Punch combined with a coverage move, either Psychic or the Community Day move Thunderbolt. Either way, though, Magmortar’s a bit of a meme pick. You’re better off running any number of other Fire-types.


Bubble is now a 2.33 DPT/3.66 EPT move. Much like many of the other nerfs this patch, though, it just doesn’t really change much? Azumarill needs to run Hydro Pump to beat Bastiodon now, which makes sense. You can lose to Drifblim in the 1shield (though this is reliant on them successfully baiting Icy Wind first move). Realistically, though, Azu’s performing about the same. Other Bubble users (Ludicolo, Jellicent, Mantine) are also a little sad about this, but not so much that it meaningfully changes their place in the meta. It’s fine, man, don’t worry about it. The little bunny and the dancing pineapple are gonna do okay.

Razor Leaf

Razor Leaf lost 0.5 DPT, becoming a 5 DPT/2 EPT move. Just by raw stats, it now lags slightly behind Charm, but that’s one helluva baseline. It’s still one of the hardest-hitting fast moves in the game, and it still fills its role incredibly well. Sorry, guys. Grasshole’s not dead.


Crabhammer’s now an 85 Power/50 Energy move, leaving it at 1.7 DPE, comparable to Body Slam, Sky Attack, and Hydro Pump. Not bad! What is bad, on the other hand, is its distribution. Only two Pokémon can learn it: Crawdaunt and Kingler. And they both have issues: namely, their bulk is all but nonexistent, pretty comparable to Blaziken. That said, the flip side to that is they hit extremely hard. They haven’t really been worth running in the past. So, with this buff, are they worth it now? 

Crawdaunt holds an interesting place in the meta. Running Snarl + Night Slash and Crabhammer, it does have some super interesting wins! It absolutely dunks on Alolan Marowak, Froslass, Sableye, Hypno (even ones running Thunder Punch), Swampert, and the new meta force Jellicent! However, that’s about where the exciting wins end. You lose to Dewgong, Altaria, Skarmory, Galarian Stunfisk, Umbreon, and everything that can learn Counter, not to mention all the Grass-types. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to have gained that much. It more or less still seems like “A Dark Type (With All Relevant Dark Matchups), Except It’s Bad”. While the Crabhammer nukes can be nice, you’re likely still better off running something like Umbreon to fill that niche. Worth noting, though, is that it's at least still a fun pick in Ultra League! Hitting 2474 at Level 40 as a hundo, you may want XL candies to play with it. It can beat up on Shadow Claw variants of Giratina-Altered, Giratina-Origin, Drifblim, Cresselia, and uh...that's about it. This isn't an endorsement, but it's a cute meme pick that can perform sometimes.

Kingler’s got the same bulk problems, and then it gets even worse. Running Legacy Mud Shot + X-Scissor and Crabhammer, you’ve got wins against Shiftry, A-Wak, a slight win against Galarian Stunfisk, aaand...that’s basically it. Sorry. Don’t run Kingler.

Rock Slide, Sky Attack, and Shadow Bone

All 3 of these moves went from 80 Power/45 Energy, all the way down to….75 Power/45 Energy. These are all wrapped up in one for one reason: they don’t seem to really matter. Much like with the Bubble nerf, the change was incredibly slight and didn't seem to meaningfully change matchups. If you were running a mon with any of these moves, just keep doing it. You’ll be fine. You don’t have to stop running Altaria, Skarmory, or Galarian Stunfisk. You don’t need to go back to Shadow Ball on Alolan Marowak.

New Movesets

Kantonian Vulpix/Ninetales

So, getting it out of the way, K-Pix still doesn’t have a consistent win against Bronzor. Running Ember + Weather Ball, you win the 0shield and 2shield, but you do lose the 1shield, and both of your wins are fairly slight. It’s definitely better than it was! It’s just still not a consistent Bronzor counter. But hey, what is?

Ninetales, on the other hand, is a little more interesting, and may be the strongest actual Fire-type around. (Alolan Marowak is mostly a Ghost-type, let’s be real). As a Fire-type, it’s got all the wins you’d expect! Skarmory, every Grass-type, Galvantula, all Charmers and Registeel. With Psyshock, you also beat Toxicroak and Haunter. Your Galarian Stunfisk matchup can be iffy, losing in all except the 2shield. However, they do have to land the Earthquake! If they go straight Rock Slide, you win in all even shields instead! It’s not perfect, though. You lose to basically every Water-type, including Dewgong (slight wins against Jellicent and Lapras notwithstanding). You could run Solar Beam over Psyshock to hedge against these, but it’s a hard gamble to take. Honestly, though, outside of the aforementioned wins, you do struggle against a significant portion of the metagame. You lose to A-Wak, Vigoroth, Hypno, Deoxys-Defense, Altaria, and Machamp, among others. K-Tales has some power, for sure, but it’ll have to fill a very specific role on your team.

Alolan Vulpix/Ninetales

Weather Ball A-Pix is a bit of an interesting pick for Little Cup. Running Powder Snow + WB: Ice and Dark Pulse, it can beat any Cottonee that doesn’t shield twice (without needing to invest a single shield itself), as well as absolutely shredding Deino (you lose the 0-1 and 0-2, but win every other shield scenario). You do lose to other meta-relevant Pokémon such as Bronzor (oof), Seel, and Wynaut, though, so it will compete for that Ice-type role with Alolan Sandshrew.

Alolan Ninetales, on the other hand, is a lot more interesting. Previously mostly relevant as a Charmer, it’s now shifting back towards a spammy role with Powder Snow. Compared to Powder Snow/Psyshock/Ice Beam, Powder Snow/Psyshock/Weather Ball picks up wins against Pokémon like Jellicent, Haunter, Shadow Machamp, Venusaur, and even Skarmory! Running Charm instead, the Weather Ball variant gains wins over Cresselia, Diggersby, Munchlax, and Tropius! It’s pretty clear: if you’re running Alolan Ninetales, you’re going to want Weather Ball. It remains to be seen whether or not A-Tales will suddenly be worth running in the Open Great League format, as it still has rough losses against incredibly common threats like Azumarill, Bastiodon, Galarian Stunfisk, and Alolan Marowak. However, it’s absolutely worth experimenting with! 

It’s actually fairly interesting in Ultra League as well! Demanding some XL investment to reach 2500, it has potential running either Powder Snow or Charm. Unsurprisingly, the Charm variant shreds things like Kingdra, Gallade, Umbreon, Machamp, and Obstagoon, but that’s not all. It can also beat Exeggutor, Slowbro, Snorlax, Lapras, and a number of Grass-types that aren’t named Venusaur. You lose to Waters, Steels, Fires, and interestingly, Toxicroak. Powder Snow, on the other hand, can handle Ampharos, Gengar, Toxicroak, and Venusaur, while giving up Slowbro, Lapras, non-shadow Machamp, and both Gallade variants. The fact that both fast moves allow it to beat Togekiss gives it a very interesting niche in the format, and make it a mon worth considering!


Picking up Weather Ball: Water is really neat for Politoed! Getting it out of the way: if you run Politoed, you’ll want to have Legacy Earthquake. Blizzard can work, but Earthquake is overall better. All things considered, Toed performs relatively comparably to how it did before (with Surf over Weather Ball). Running Mud Shot + Weather Ball and Earthquake, it picks up 1-shield wins against Munchlax, Obstagoon, Scrafty, Vigoroth, and Umbreon. 2-shield it picks up Deoxys-Defense, Haunter, Obstagoon, Skarmory, Toxicroak, Umbreon, and Whiscash. Not bad! You’re firing off Weather Balls every 4 Mud Shots!

The obvious question, though, when looking at Politoed with Mud Shot, a strong Water-type move, and Earthquake, is: “Why not just run Swampert?” It turns out there are actually some significant upsides to not being part Ground-type. Notably, you perform much better against Azumarill, Dewgong, and Froslass, and the extra bulk lets you pick up wins against Umbreon and Vigoroth. However, you do also struggle more against Pokémon like Deoxys-Defense (no longer resisting Rock Slide and Thunderbolt), or Hypno/Galvantula with Electric-type moves. You also beat Swampert itself by forcing it to bait, rather than being able to go straight Hydro Cannon, which is nice! You still lose to Shadow Victreebel, though. 1x weak to Grass and 2x weak to Grass are both bad. You just die in 9 Razor Leaves rather than 5. Politoed is certainly more of a choice than it was before, and it’ll definitely start seeing them hopping around the Great League meta moving forward!

Interestingly, it seems as though it may have some play in Ultra Premier as well, though it’ll take some XLs to get it there! Positive matchups against common threats such as Empoleon, Charizard, Swampert, Toxicroak, Togekiss, Clefable, and Ampharos in the 1shield (and even handling Shadow Gallade in the 2shield!) make it a Pokémon worth considering!


Primeape can learn Ice Punch now! This is a bit of a weird one, though. Primeape was perfectly happy running Counter + Night Slash and Legacy Cross Chop or Close Combat. So, comparing Night Slash + Close Combat to Night Slash + Ice Punch, what changes? Ice Punch can beat Altaria, Tropius, and Venusaur. Close Combat, on the other hand, can beat Whiscash, Unovan Stunfisk, Skarmory, Galvantula, and Dewgong. Is that worth it? That’s up to you. Though it’s not unreasonable to say that Medicham (especially XL Medicham) fills the Counter + Ice Punch user role better due to its higher bulk.

As a secondary note: If you were paying close attention right at the right time (right after the update rolled out), you could get Weather Ball: Water on Primeape. This was a mistake by Niantic, and Primeape is actually banned in GBL. As funny as it is, it just doesn’t provide Primeape relevant coverage. In neutral scenarios, it actually has the same damage output as Cross Chop, so it’s not much help there. You can’t get it now, and odds are it’s going to get automatically TMed away relatively soon, so don’t stress too much!


Claydol’s picked up two moves: Ice Beam and Shadow Ball! This brings it up to a grand total of 6 available charged moves, the others being Psychic, Earthquake, Earth Power, and Gyro Ball. It’s been basically unused in Great League before. So the question is, does this change that? Claydol is more bulky than you’ve probably given it credit for, with stats pretty comparable to another Psychic-type, Hypno. Well, bad news: you still probably shouldn’t run Claydol in Open Great League. As a Ground and Psychic type, its positioning in the meta isn’t great. You fall prey to all of the Waters (Swampert/Azumarill), Darks (Umbreon/Scrafty/Mandibuzz/Sableye), and Grasses (Interestingly, except for Shadow Victreebel, which you have a very slight win against due to the Confusion damage). It’s not worth running with Mud Slap, either, and frankly, there are just better Confusion users. Hypno more or less does Claydol’s role better, sadly. There will definitely be a place for Claydol, it’ll just happen in a limited format, rather than Open.


Remember when Porygon Community Day happened, and people were like “Man Tri-Attack seems neat, but Porygon-Z is just too squishy. If only Porygon2 had been able to learn it too.” Well, now it does, and unlike Porygon-Z, P2 doesn’t even require any exclusive moves! Porygon2’s a lot more bulky than P-Z, though that doesn’t actually make it bulky. It’s a little below average, a little bit less bulky than something like Swampert. Going straight Tri-Attack, it has basically no wins in Great League, beating Munchlax and some Mew movesets in the 1shield, and also beating mono-Ghost Haunter in the 2shield. For secondary moves, though, it can run Hyper Beam, Zap Cannon, and Solar Beam, with variably useful coverage. We can ignore Hyper Beam because it’s just more Normal-type damage. Zap Cannon is preferred over Solar Beam due to handling both Water-types and Flyings, though just keep in mind that even at its best, it still loses significantly more than it wins. Seems like Digital Duck v2 is still in need of some more Upgrades.


Mud Shot Excadrill is very interesting. Pairing that with Drill Run and Rock Slide, you get that incredible Rock+Ground coverage which can hit almost every single Pokémon for neutral damage or better! Plus, the Ground/Steel typing is great defensively, with 7 single resistances, 2 double resistances, and 1 triple resistance (to Poison!). “Hold on,” you may be thinking to yourself. “We already have a Ground/Steel-type Mud Shot user with Rock+Ground coverage in Galarian Stunfisk!” And...yeah, we do. And in the Great League (and even in Ultra League), Gunfisk just performs better like 99% of the time due to its significantly higher bulk. (Keep in mind, though, at least Excadrill doesn’t cost 296 XL Candy to compete! If you want to test out the playstyle without all those XLs) There’s one place, however, that Gunfisk can’t keep up: Master League. In Master Premier, Excadrill has wins against a lot of the meta, such as Magnezone, Metagross, Dragon Breath Gyarados (it loses against Waterfall), Snorlax, Dragonite, and Togekiss! It’s a Steel-type that beats the other Steel-types, and also beats out the Flying-types! Obviously this comes with the caveat of “Premier Cup requires XL Candy to compete,” so...if you have the 296 Excadrill candy, maybe give it a shot? 


New mon! New mon! New mon! Jellicent is available by evolving Frillish, which you can get one of as your guaranteed first encounter in GBL after hitting Rank 20. (If you’re already past rank 20, don’t worry, it’ll be your next encounter!) Jellicent has been incredibly hyped for a long time, on the PvP radar ever since we first saw its moveset, and it’s finally here! Here’s a brief breakdown of what you need to know, either to run it, or when facing it.

Jellicent is a bulky (comparable to Bronzong) Water/Ghost-type, with a ton of strong moves. For Fast Moves, it can run either Bubble or Hex. Both are low damage, high energy moves, and both are good options depending on what coverage you need. On the Charged side, it has Bubble Beam, Ice Beam, and Shadow Ball. Every Jellicent should run Shadow Ball, for its incredible neutral coverage and STAB. There’s some disagreement in the competitive community right now as to what the best secondary move is, though! Bubble Beam provides some debuff potential, as well as the ability to bait more effectively. Ice Beam gives you more power against Grass-types, or Flyings (hi Mandibuzz) that would otherwise threaten you. Brief highlights, though. In Great League, B/IB/SB beats Swampert, Toxicroak, Altaria, Hypno, Vigoroth, Diggersby, Deoxys-Defense, Galarian Stunfisk, Alolan Marowak, Shadow Machamp, and Azumarill in the 1shield.

In Ultra League, the same moveset beats Escavalier, Poliwrath, Charizard, Machamp, Registeel, Articuno, Cresselia, Lapras, Empoleon, Gallade, Togekiss, and Dragonite. If you run Hex instead of Bubble, you can even pick up Dragon Breath versions of Giratina-Altered! (Bubble Beam movesets aren’t included here as their results are more reliant on weird baiting, though just know that it sims better, but has the potential to perform worse if you don’t get your baits right.)

Jellicent’s a huge threat, and an incredibly cool Pokémon. Definitely get ready to see a lot of it moving forward.


The meta hasn’t shaken up as much as many feared (or hoped). Other than a few minor matchup swings, everything’s gonna play out about the same way it did before. For better, or for worse. As always, thanks so much to for making all these sims so easy!

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About the Author(s)

Tyler is a contributing writer for GamePress, primarily focusing on Trainer Battle content. Fan of dogs and fighting games.