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GO Battle League Team Builds: Master League

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Introduction

Welcome to Master League! With no CP cap, everything is optimal at Lv40, 100% IVs (or even Lv41 if you can get something Best Buddied!). While the format can be expensive, it's pretty fun to be able to finally use Pokémon you've maxed for raids in PvP. Even if you don't quite have the resources to max out and 3move full teams of legendaries, just use what you can and take this as an opportunity to farm up resources!

Budget Teams

Budget for Master League will look somewhat different than it does for Great and Ultra. If you want to stay competitive, you have to come to terms with maxing things out, and that’s never not going to be expensive. “Budget” here mainly means picking things that you may already have powered up, be it for Raids, Gyms, Rocket battles, or maybe just because it was a hundo! That’s always going to be the cheapest option.

And of course, if you want to max out something new, use Luckies for that 50% stardust discount, or Purified Pokémon for the 10% discount on both stardust and candy!

Through this section, you’ll be seeing a number of species with Community Day exclusive moves (marked with an asterisk), and that’s for a reason! These pokemon are generally very powerful and quite accessible. If you missed out on them, they can absolutely be worth a Lucky trade.

Dragonite, Metagross, Rhyperior
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw
  • Metagross: Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash* and Earthquake
  • Rhyperior: Mud Slap + Rock Wrecker* and Surf

Dragonite/Metagross is a very strong core, as they cover each other’s weaknesses almost perfectly, and they’re two pokemon that you probably already powered up if you’ve been playing regularly. Rhyperior has relevant Raid usage too, and it’s a really convenient option as we just had its Community Day. While Dragonite can situationally benefit from having Draco Meteor in late game scenarios, it doesn’t really need it the majority of the time, especially if you use it as the lead pokemon. The other two cover its weaknesses to big threats like Dialga and Togekiss, but they share a vulnerability to Water-types, so make sure you catch those with Dragonite.

Metagross, Dragonite, Snorlax
  • Metagross: Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash* and Earthquake
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw
  • Snorlax: Lick + Body Slam and Earthquake

If Metagross and Rhyperior have Dragonite’s back in the team above, here Dragonite and Snorlax cover Metagross’ glaring weakness to Giratina-Origin. Try to use them as switch-ins with Metagross in the lead position. Building Snorlax only requires about 120k stardust if you manage to get a Lucky at high level, or as a Munchlax. If you got a big one from the old Gym days (as many dedicated players do), that’s even better!

Mamoswine, Machamp, Gyarados
  • Mamoswine: Powder Snow + Avalanche and Bulldoze
  • Machamp: Counter + Cross Chop (or Dynamic Punch) and Rock Slide
  • Gyarados: Dragon Breath + Crunch and Outrage

Machamp is maybe the most common Pokémon to have powered up for Raids, with how long it’s been relevant there and how common it is. Good news, you can use it in Master League too as a solid answer to common Rock- and Steel-type Pokémon (hi, Dialga)! It prefers Cross Chop over Dynamic Punch here because it’s faster to charge, but if you’re out of TMs, Dynamic Punch is a very good move which will absolutely work too. Mamoswine is definitely more slept on than it deserves to be, with good super effective coverage on Machamp’s biggest enemies, Togekiss and Giratina. You don’t actually even want to run Ancient Power here, as Rock and Ice have similar offensive coverage, and you need Bulldoze to beat Steel-types. Gyarados is a cheap option to round up this team, and the only member capable of beating Kyogre.

Snorlax, Swampert, Machamp
  • Snorlax: Lick + Body Slam and Earthquake
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon* and Earthquake or Sludge Wave
  • Machamp: Counter + Cross Chop (or Dynamic Punch) and Rock Slide

This trio is extremely well-equipped against Dialga, but has to rely on a team effort to take down the likes of Togekiss, Dragonite and Kyogre. That means that it’ll vary in usefulness based on exactly what you’re seeing. Consider running Conkeldurr (Counter + Dynamic Punch and Stone Edge) over Machamp if you have one, as the extra bulk can be nice, though it's definitely not a strict upgrade!

Tyranitar, Kyogre, Metagross
  • Tyranitar: Smack Down* or Bite + Crunch
  • Kyogre: Waterfall + Surf
  • Metagross: Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash* and Earthquake

Another set of Pokémon that you may have powered up for Raids at some point — and if you haven’t, they’re solid investments for that too, especially Kyogre and Metagross. The latter is also the only one to need a second charged move, as the other two are so slow at generating energy that they’ll almost always only get to their cheapest ones. This team doesn’t have a proper answer to Dialga and Kyogre, and you really need to align Giratina-Origin with Tyranitar when you come up against it. If you do find yourself loving this team and wanting to invest more, give Kyogre Thunder and Tyranitar Stone Edge as a second move!

Note: feel free to replace Kyogre with Gyarados or Swampert if you don’t have one maxed out, but you’ll struggle more against opposing Rhyperior and Kyogre respectively.

Swampert, Dragonite, Magnezone
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon* and Earthquake
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw
  • Magnezone: Spark + Wild Charge and Mirror Shot OR Flash Cannon

Magnezone can run either Mirror Shot or Flash Cannon as a secondary move. Flash Cannon provides some extra coverage against Ground-types, and the occasional ill-advised Grass, letting you actually get some damage in on Rhyperior or Groudon before you inevitably faint. Mirror Shot is basically just there for baiting, and can technically give you the 2shield vs Kyogre if you bait perfectly, though it's still close. Dragonite beats Gira-O, Swampert beats Dialga, Magnezone beats Togekiss. Good coverage, if a bit positioning-dependent. If you're on a budget, consider just not 3moving your Magnezone, it only really needs Wild Charge to perform at about 90% capacity anyway.

Advanced Teams

A large part of the Master League is dominated by Legendaries. This means, if you catch them unboosted, it’s going to cost you 348 candy per mon (248 to get from Lv20 to Lv40, then 100 to 3move). For any but the most invested and whaley of players, this means you’ll have to budget. Don’t feel like you have to run these teams, though! As strong as these Pokémon are, take stock of your own resources and decide what you can afford. Master League is only here ⅓ of the time, and you may still have Silph cups to worry about.

Dialga, Togekiss, Giratina-Origin
  • Dialga: Dragon Breath + Iron Head and Draco Meteor OR Thunder
  • Togekiss: Charm + Ancient Power and Flamethrower
  • Giratina-Origin: Shadow Claw + Ominous Wind and Shadow Ball

This is about as generic as you can get. Take arguably the best 3 Pokémon in the format, slap them on a team, and there you go. Keep in mind that you do have a kinda rough weakness to Mamoswine, Melmetal, and opposing Dialga if you can’t get positioned right. Dialga can run either Draco Meteor or Thunder as a secondary move, with Draco giving a massively powerful one-shot nuke and Thunder giving a bit more consistent damage against the many (non-Dialga) Steel-types in the format.

Dialga, Kyogre, Giratina-Origin
  • Dialga: Dragon Breath + Iron Head and Thunder OR Draco Meteor
  • Kyogre: Waterfall + Surf and Blizzard
  • Giratina-Origin: Shadow Claw + Ominous Wind and Shadow Ball

Fantastic coverage here, not much can really threaten all three. Do note that your Dialga is basically your only clean answer to Dragonite or opposing Dialga, which means that having a Best Buddy boosted Dialga can really help you out.

Dialga, Heatran, Dragonite
  • Dialga: Dragon Breath + Iron Head and Thunder OR Draco Meteor
  • Heatran: Fire Spin + Flamethrower and Stone Edge
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw and (Draco Meteor/Outrage/Hurricane)

Don’t like Charm? No problem, Heatran’s here for you. With a fantastic double resistance to Fairy, the Fire/Steel-type can technically completely farm down Togekiss with just one shield (though you will want to fire a charged move so you don’t waste energy). The Lava Dome Pokémon fills an interesting double duty here as well, also beating Dialga in even shields by going straight Flamethrower! Do note, though, this team doesn’t particularly like Ground-type damage, with Dragonite being your only real answer to Rhyperior or Groudon.

Snorlax, Swampert, Togekiss
  • Snorlax: Lick + Body Slam and Earthquake or Superpower
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon and Earthquake
  • Togekiss: Charm + Flamethrower and Ancient Power

There really aren’t any better Gira-O answers in the Master League than Snorlax. The only reason you even have not to just completely farm down with Lick is because it wastes energy, so throw in 2-3 Body Slams for the free damage. Swampert is a solid Dialga answer, though you need to make sure you land your Earthquakes. 

Team Submissions

Is there a team you're using that you've been having success with at higher ranks? Are you willing to share it? If so, please consider leaving it here in the comments, or sending it to me on Twitter at @InstantAirGael, and I may include it in the article for others to use! If you do, please include which mon you preferred to lead with, and which movesets you used!

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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.

Writer and graphic designer for GamePress, from Sicily (Italy). Illustrator since childhood.

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