When the newest wave of shadows were announced, a lot of the conversation focused on their PvP impact. And while I am excited to use them in trainer battles (be sure to check out PvPoke’s awesome Twitter thread about some of the new mons), I was also intrigued by the PvE potential. It’s been a while since a new shadow shook up the PvE meta. Is now the time? Will raiders everywhere be scrambling to come up with 2000+ XL of a Pokémon they never thought would matter?
Let’s dive on in and check it out.
The Flame That Burns Brightest Burns Shortest
Let’s start with a positive. When the moveset lines up correctly, Shadow Blaziken has insane DPS. Let’s look at a list of top DPS in a Registeel raid.
Pretty impressive. Those other numbers are concerning though. Maybe Shadow Blaziken is a tad too squishy. After all, Blaziken maxes out at 3219. That 1000 CP difference between it and some other Fire type attackers is going to be felt somewhere. Let’s look again at Registeel counters, but this time we’ll sort the list by a better overall raid contribution metric, Equivalent Rating.
Even though ER heavily favors DPS over TDO, Blaziken’s fragility has it lagging behind a handful of other raid options, including the seldom used Chandelure.
Blaziken also fails to stand out against Ice type raids
Same story with Fire Spin against a theoretical mono-Grass type raid
It even fails to take the crown when looking at a theoretical Alolan Sandslash raid that would seem designed for the Fire puncher
It should be said that as you dodge more, Blaziken’s overall performance gets better and better compared to the field. If you run sims with 100 percent dodge success on charge moves, Blaziken takes a narrow lead as the best raider against many of these bosses. But even with dodges, Blaziken’s time on the field will often be short and sweet.
A Redemption in Rockets?
Let’s not be all gloom and doom though; Shadow Blaziken will be fantastic against Rocket grunts. You get “free” fast moves after switches and charge moves, so damage output is more important than bulk. I could see Shadow Blaziken serving as your top answer for Steel, Ice, and even Grass type grunts in addition to being valuable against certain leader lineups.
Unfortunately, I just don’t think Shadow Blaziken will be the raid titan that we want it to be. Despite consistently being at or near the top of the DPS list, I think its lack of sustain will hold it back as the premium raid counter. Other options will match or come close to that level of DPS without getting knocked out by a stiff breeze. Its greatest value will come as a lead in raid parties where you can get as much damage in as possible before facing charge moves. The cannon is just too glassy.
This conclusion might be controversial. I get it. I see the upside. It will have really high damage output and its fragility can be mitigated by dodging. Still, I’d prefer to give up a marginal amount of DPS and use something like Reshiram that isn’t wholly reliant on resisted moves and dodges to reach its peak. I’ll give up a little ceiling for a much higher floor. I’m sure there will be some raid challenge or raid record that Shadow Blaziken’s insane DPS enables, but I see it as more of a specialist role player than a do-everything superstar.
That being said, I still think building one to level 50 will be a good idea for the PvE minded trainer. One Shadow Blaziken will provide a good amount of value in Rockets and as a lead attacker in raid parties, especially if you make use of dodging. I just don’t think a fully maxed out team of 6 should be a priority.
The other shadow debutante that stuck out as worth checking for raids was Shadow Sceptile. The premise? Shadow Frenzy Plant slaps and slaps hard. There’s a lot of competition in the Grass and Electric space so my hopes for Sceptile were not nearly as high as they were for Blaziken. Will Shadow Sceptile chloro-fill out your raid parties or wilt in the face of strong competition?
Just Another Grass type?
It’s just…not good. But maybe it’ll look better when facing the doubly weak to grass Mega Swampert raid boss. COPIUM
It’s just leagues behind the likes of Kartana. The one thing Shadow Sceptile could maybe have going for it is that it’s not a legendary and would be easier to actually get to level 50. The problem with that logic is that a level 40 Kartana is still a decent bit better than a level 50 Shadow Sceptile.
What About Rockets?
Where Shadow Sceptile might find some use, is for Rockets. The combination of Bullet Seed’s great energy generation and the cheap and hard hitting Charge Move, Leaf Blade, screams Rocket destroyer. I’m not sure that it will be better than just using Razor Leafers though.
Even for optimal strategies against certain Water, Ground, and Rock grunt lineups where you would use one Razor Leafer in combination with Shadow Sceptile, you might just prefer a Vine Whip user like Zarude or Shadow Venusaur.
Shadow Sceptile for PvE will be a pretty big no from me. It’s not complete garbage in raids, but again, there are LEVEL FORTY Grass types that perform better than a fully maxed out Shadow Sceptile. Save your resources for other projects.
I won’t lie to you; I went into this analysis with high hopes (at least for Blaziken) and came away a little disappointed. I still think Shadow Blaziken will be a good and interesting tool for PvE, but I was hoping it would be the new ace Fire type and it’s more like a situationally better glass cannon. Add in Sceptile’s mediocrity (it’s just a Grass starter trying its best, ok?) and it’s somewhat lean times for PvE focused Rocket hunters.
On the whole, I still think this is an interesting new wave of shadows and makes for a grind worthy Rocket Takeover. It just so happens that this is more of a collector and PvP oriented wave than a PvE one, and that’s ok! Go out, get some good PvP shadows, grab a high IV Blaziken and cross your fingers for some shinies!