The Retro Cup Simplified

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From May 10th to May 17th a new restricted format will be introduced in Pokémon GO Battle League to mix things up. It’s the Retro Cup, where we can play any pokémon with a maximum CP of 1500, except Steel-, Dark- and Fairy-types. That’s quite a huge change compared to open Great League, as it takes out some of the strongest and most common picks like Azumarill, Galarian Stunfisk and Umbreon!

In this article we’re going to take a look at how exactly these differences are going to play out and which picks are looking to rise to the top. And if you don’t feel like reading, here’s a video by fellow GamePress writer RyanSwag which goes over most of the same points!

The Retro Cup Simplified

Psychic and Ghost

Rather than the absence of Fairy, it’s the one of Dark and Steel that truly defines the Retro Cup metagame. Without Dark and Steel keeping Psychic-types in check, tanky powerhouses such as Hypno (Confusion + Shadow Ball & Thunder or Fire or Ice Punch) and Cresselia (Confusion or Psycho Cut + Grass Knot & Moonblast) could become dangerously oppressive. For this reason, the meta will likely shift towards Psychic counters — namely, Ghost-types.

The top Ghost picks include the aggressive Froslass (Powder Snow + Avalanche & Shadow Ball) which especially shines as one of the best safe switches in the format, the bulky Jellicent (Bubble or Hex + Shadow Ball & Ice Beam or Bubble Beam), the good old Alolan Marowak (Fire Spin + Shadow Bone & Bone Club), and debuff machine Drifblim (Hex + Icy Wind & Shadow Ball). You could also go for the pseudo-Ghost Mew (Shadow Claw + any combination of Dragon Claw, Wild Charge, Surf, Rock Slide, Psyshock, Grass Knot, Flame Charge): despite its typing, it holds its own against true Ghost-types and can fill the same role extremely well. The sheer unpredictability of Mew’s moveset only adds to its charm, and the viable combinations are even more than usual here.

Normal and Fighting

Thanks to their own Ghost coverage moves, Normal-types stand out as counters to both Psychic and Ghost! Lickitung (Lick + Body Slam & Power Whip) is by far the top pick here, if you have enough XL Candy to build it. If not, Snorlax (Lick + Body Slam & Superpower) is a perfectly fine direct alternative.

Since Normal is only weak to Fighting, it’s time for Counter users to claim their central spot in this meta. Deoxys-Defense (Counter + Rock Slide & Psycho Boost or Thunderbolt) and Medicham (Counter + Ice Punch or Power-Up Punch & Psychic) still take super effective damage from Lick, but they make up for it in many other matchups, where they can often outbulk neutral opponents. Among harder and glassier Fighting-types, Shadow Machamp (Counter + Cross Chop & Rock Slide) sticks out in coverage and sheer power, but it does lose to the other two above.

Other Threats

Without Azumarill and Galarian Stunfisk, Altaria (Dragon Breath + Sky Attack & Moonblast) unfortunately still has Froslass to worry about. It makes for a fantastic budget generalist, though it doesn’t really have dominating matchups against any of the pokémon mentioned so far.

Water-types always offer a lot of variety. Politoed (Mud Shot + Weather Ball Water & Earthquake or Blizzard) leads the pack, being capable of threatening the whole top meta with its extremely spammy moveset. After that, we have the trusty mudboys Swampert (Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon & Earthquake) and Whiscash (Mud Shot + Mud Bomb & Blizzard), the Ice boys Lapras (Ice Shard + Surf & Skull Bash) and Dewgong (Ice Shard + Icy Wind & Water Pulse) and most importantly, the extremely reliable safe switch that is Pelipper (Wing Attack + Weather Ball Water & Hurricane).

Although Grass doesn’t have the most prominent role in this meta, it’s still very good and can fill the right holes in some team builds. Abomasnow (Powder Snow + Weather Ball Ice & Energy Ball) only loses hard to Fire and some Fighting-types. Venusaur (Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant & Sludge Bomb) and Tropius (Air Slash + Leaf Blade & Aerial Ace) can often beat those Fighters, but they’re weaker to Psychic and Ice respectively. There are many other viable Grass options, but they all generally lose to these three.

Alolan Graveler (Volt Switch + Rock Blast & Stone Edge) might just look like a spicy pick, but don’t underestimate it. As long as it doesn’t get aligned with a Fighting-type, it can put up good fights against almost everything else! The more expensive Regirock (Lock On + Stone Edge & Focus Blast) fills a similar role, and for once it doesn’t have to live in the shadow of its Steel brother.

With super effective coverage against Psychic and a key resistance to Fighting, Galvantula (Volt Switch + Lunge & Discharge) can put in major work against many meta-heavy teams. The same goes for Talonflame (Incinerate + Flame Charge & Brave Bird), which basically works as the more offensive version of Alolan Marowak instead.

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About the Author(s)

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