Shadow Lugia's Battle Potential

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Lugia is one of the franchise’s most iconic legendaries. In fact, its head is even used as an icon for the Battle Legend badge! It also appears quite often on the game’s default recommended raid party. Unfortunately, Lugia has never been a great raid attacker due to its very defensively oriented stats, and more often than not is a burden to your dps. Historically, players have been taught to keep their Lugia benched for anything other than raid challenges. However, Lugia finds its home in PvP, where having defensive-leaning stats is a valuable trait rather than a hindrance. Between the release of its signature move, Aeroblast, and Season 8’s Dragon Tail buff, Lugia has crept its way to becoming a respectable threat, most notably in Master League where its astronomical stats are fully unbound. And today, Lugia is poised to go beyond its normal capabilities…

Enter Shadow Lugia. Fans have long speculated of the day Shadow Lugia would arrive in Pokemon Go, and have been excited at the prospect of reuniting with Pokemon XD’s unforgettable mascot. However, dataminers would quickly crush this dream as it was revealed that “Shadow Lugia” would simply be its regular form with the usual Shadowy aura and red eyes. There could be various reasons as to why XD001 can’t happen, such as property rights or naming issues (‘Shadow’ and ‘Purify’ are termed differently in Japanese compared to their Colosseum and XD counterparts). We don’t know the actual answer, so let’s not fixate on that. 

We’re here to answer whether or not Shadow Lugia is a worthy addition to your parties. Will it be an upgrade or downgrade in PvP? Will the Shadow boost finally make Lugia a respectable raid attacker? Read on to find out!

Shadow Lugia in PvP

Great League

A Rank 1 Shadow Lugia has 6/10/13 IVs. Lugia’s accessibility for the Great League has generally been rather sketchy - it needed to come from a research reward, and it needed to be traded to get under 1500 CP. Shadow Lugia thus becomes many players’ first GL-eligible Lugia. As far as simulations go, Shadow Lugia appears to not be an improvement compared to its regular counterpart. Most notably, Shadow Nidoqueen becomes a loss in the 1-shield, and Altaria can become a very shaky matchup due to Dragon Breath doing much more damage. Swampert becomes a much shakier matchup, with Hydro Cannon almost 2HKOing Shadow Lugia (Shadow Swampert just outright 2HKOes it). However, it does beat Defense form Deoxys more reliably, as it no longer needs to bait to win the matchup. Note that all of these simulations are done with Dragon Tail as Lugia’s fast move due to its far superior parameters.

In any case, Lugia itself is a rare sight outside of specialized cups due to competition from other well established Flying types such as Skarmory, Mandibuzz, and Altaria, all of which offer more significant defensive niches thanks to their other typing. And then there is the whole accessibility issue. Shadow Lugia is expected to follow regular Lugia’s status as a niche pick rather than a staple pick, despite being more accessible. However, its high overall stats and a powerful moveset still makes it enough of a threat to not underestimate.

Ultra League 

Lugia can exercise its bulk more freely in the Ultra League, with many of Great League’s tankiest competitors, such as Bastiodon, Lickitung, and Azumarill, incapable of reaching Ultra League CP. Shadow Lugia in particular appreciates this extra bulk, no longer fearing almost getting 2HKOed by Swampert’s Hydro Cannon (although Shadow Swampert comes quite close to it). Its overall performance appears to be a sidegrade compared to its regular counterpart. Assuming Shadow Lugia is wielding Dragon Tail as its fast move, a particularly notable matchup improvement compared to its regular form is that it can defeat Giratina-A in the 1-shield going straight Sky Attack, if Giratina does not bait. But the reduced bulk comes at a downside, and it now loses to Cresselia in the 0-shield. Charmers are particularly more troubling to Shadow Lugia, as their double resistance to Dragon Tail significantly hampers Lugia’s damage reliability. In return, they can consistently take advantage of Shadow Lugia’s decreased bulk with relentless fast move pressure.

Master League

Master League is Lugia’s favorite playroom, where it can flex having the highest stat product in the game (well, at least up until this time of writing, anyways). In its base form, Lugia is an excellent tank and safe switch, being generally difficult to counter outside of Melmetal. Its strong stats and moves can often contest type disadvantages, such that even Dialga and either forme of Giratina will take heavy damage from it.

Shadow Lugia is, from a simulation perspective, potentially an upgrade to its normal capabilities. The reduction in bulk is significant and makes Lugia less effective at being a general damage soak. It also makes Lugia less reliable at reaching Aeroblast’s extremely heavy energy cost. However, the extra damage granted by the Shadow boost makes Lugia more reliable at knocking out enemies simply between Dragon Tail and Sky Attack. Some of Shadow Lugia’s new wins are Zarude, Shadow Ball Mewtwo, and Yveltal (in Master League Classic only) going straight Sky Attack. If Shadow Lugia succeeds in baiting, it can also defeat Metagross and Zacian, despite having a type disadvantage. It can even potentially defeat Giratina-O and Zekrom in the 2-shield on Dragon Tail damage alone. It does, however, gain a new loss to Mamoswine, and the Snorlax matchup becomes more shaky. Finally, it can no longer reliably defeat Dialga in the 1-shield if the Dialga opts to go straight Iron Head.

Shadow Lugia Master League IVs

Given that we are getting limited chances to get Shadow Lugia currently - 1 for most players, but multiple for those who stack Super Rocket Radars, you might not end up with the best IVs. Luckily, it appears that Lugia is rather lenient on IVs. Remember that the IV floor for Shadow Legendaries is 6/6/6), and it is unaffected by weather boost.

ATK - Dragon Tail

  • 7 Atk for Giratina-O and Snorlax
    • Can potentially 2-shield farm down Giratina-O from full with this breakpoint
  • 8 Atk for Best Buddy Giratina-O
  • 9 Atk for Best Buddy Dialga
    • The most important breakpoint, as Dragon Tail damage makes up most of Shadow Lugia’s damage against Dialga
  • 12 Atk for Excadrill, Ho-Oh and Zarude
    • Needs this breakpoint to defeat Excadrill in the 1-shield going straight Sky Attack
    • The Zarude breakpoint is less important as Sky Attack is most of Lugia’s damage against Zarude.
    • This is overall the second most important breakpoint to hit
  • 13 Atk for Garchomp and Best Buddy Excadrill
  • 14 Atk for Mamoswine and Best Buddy Garchomp
    • Not that important as Shadow Lugia loses this matchup quite badly anyways
  • 15 Atk for Giratina-A
    • Shadow Lugia loses the 1-shield in Master League Classic, but having this breakpoint does make the matchup very close. In Open Master League, Lugia can win this matchup going straight Sky Attack.


  • 11 Def for Kyogre’s Waterfall
    • Hitting this bulkpoint allows Shadow Lugia to defeat Kyogre in the 1-shield going straight Sky Attack, if Kyogre lacks Thunder (or does not bait successfully).
  • 15 Def for Ho-Oh's Incinerate
    • Not particularly important due to the move's very long duration.

Additionally, for Master League Classic only, 13 Attack IVs ensures that Shadow Lugia can beat Yveltal in the 1-shield going straight Sky Attack.

The ideal minimum IVs for Shadow Lugia is 12 Attack and 11 Defense. However, due to the low IV floor of Giovanni's encounters, many players won't be lucky enough to obtain a Lugia with them. In that case, 9 Attack is the lowest recommended IV to hit the Dialga breakpoint.

Shadow Lugia in PvE

Lugia is a pretty poor raiding choice, so can the Shadow boost salvage Lugia’s PvE performance? Well..somewhat. Lugia should really only be used in raids where Flying is doubly effective, as there are many competitors otherwise. Most targets weak to Flying are also weak to Fire or Psychic, where behemoths such as Reshiram and Mewtwo rule. The Flying-type does not have as many good options. However, Lugia’s viability is reduced by the fact that it lacks a Flying-type fast move. To make matters worse, the only Tier 5 boss doubly weak to Flying is Virizion, although this list can potentially expand to Buzzwole, Pheromosa, and Mega Heracross in the future.

Using a combination of Extrasensory and Aeroblast, Shadow Lugia’s DPS against Virizion is currently clocking near the likes of Yveltal, HP Flying Ho-Oh, and Unfezant. This isn’t awful, although it is nothing to write home about. However, if Lugia were to ever learn Gust in this game, its DPS in its Shadow form would soar up to Moltres’s level. Moltres currently possesses the highest non-Mega, non-Shadow Flying-type DPS in the game. Of course, however, Shadow Moltres does exist, and Shadow Lugia can never reach those heights barring a ridiculous buff to Aeroblast.


If you’re a Master League player, Shadow Lugia is worth getting and powering up. It may lack the insane bulk of regular Lugia, but it is still a very tanky Pokemon. Getting new wins against Yveltal, Zarude, and Shadow Ball Mewtwo by just going Sky Attack is significant. If you’re using it for other purposes, it’s more of a luxury pick. Lugia is not a staple pick in either Great League or Ultra League, and Shadow Lugia won’t change this status. However, it is not an awful Pokemon and can certainly spice things up! As for raids, Shadow Lugia can deal respectable damage in the very rare cases where Flying damage is optimal, but is generally an outclassed option nonetheless.

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About the Author(s)

Hi! I'm Jibaku! I have hit Rank 10 or Legend in every GBL season except Season 3. I primarily focus on Master League gameplay.

Formerly a Pokemon VGC player.