Should You Pull? Champion Serena & Greninja

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TL;DR: Should You Pull?

What Does It Do?

Serena is easily one of the most consistently great Trainers in all of Pokemon Masters. First she shut down opposing teams via Sleep with Delphox, then she took control of move gauge management for both her team and the opposing team with Whimsicott, and then she took the offensive meta by storm with the overwhelming Dragon power of Zygarde. Now she’s back, and as usual she is not satisfied with being anything short of outstanding. Her pairing with Greninja now makes her a scourge on the opposing team and a boon for her own team, as she seeks to simultaneously enable her team to do great things and keep the opposing team from doing the same. Is there any stopping this girl?

Serena & Greninja comprise a Water Type Tech Sync Pair with a weakness to Electric Type attacks. They sport high offensive stats, middling bulk, and decently high Speed. So we’re going to go a bit out of order this time and cover Passive Skills before Attacks, because Serena & Greninja’s passives have a pretty strong effect on how their moves actually work. Oh, and they also have a total of seven skills to get through! First up, we have the one passive skill that’s always available no matter what; Kalos Spirit. This is their Master Passive, which boosts the entire team’s Special Attack and Special Defense, with an even larger boost with more Kalos-based Sync Pairs in the team. Next is what is basically the same skill twice; Wondrous Water Transformation and Dashing Dark Transformation. While Serena & Greninja start out as Water Type, these skills, and as a result their type, actually change based on the move that they use in battle. In essence; at the start of the battle/when using a Water Type move, Serena & Greninja’s Sync Move will be Water Type, and they will have one set of passive skills. When using a Dark Type move, their Sync Move will be Dark Type and they will have an entirely different set of passive skills. So what are those passive skills, exactly? Let’s take a look:

When Serena & Greninja are Water Type, they get the aforementioned Dashing Dark Transformation so that they can switch types when the need arises. Next is No Quarter to ensure that Mukti-Strike attacks with a variable number of hits will always hit the maximum possible number of times. Finally we have Unfortunate Strike 2, which will drop the target’s Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, Speed, Accuracy, or Evasiveness by 1 with each successful hit. When combined with No Quarter above, it should be pretty obvious where we’re going with this already. When Serena & Greninja are Dark Type, they get Wondrous Water Transformation, as outlined above, to return to Water Type at will. After that we have Staggering 2 to allow the user’s attacks to leave attacked targets stunned 30% of the time. Finally, Discombobulate 9 will lower the target’s Accuracy by 1 when hit by an attack. 

Starting in on their moves, the first on the list is Greninja’s signature Water Shuriken. This Water Type 2-bar move has low base power, and it hits from two-to-five times on use normally, but we already know that it will always hit 5x thanks to No Quarter. Next is Brutal Swing, which is a simple, 2-bar Dark Type move that hits all targets. B Quick Attack is Serena & Greninja’s Buddy Move, and it has quite a bit going on. This move requires that the team’s attacks hit a total of ten times to activate. Note that the stipulation here is hits, meaning multi-hit attacks like Water Shuriken counts for 5 hits while Brutal Swing and other AoE attacks count for up to 3 depending on the number of targets. When activated, this move will lower the target’s Defense and Special Defense by 2, lower the Water or Dark Rebuff level by 1 rank depending on which type Serena & Greninja currently reflect, reduce the Sync Move counter by 1, and raise the entire team’s Speed by 3. Finally, Glory of Tomorrow! is Serena’s single-MP trainer move, and it provides +2 Attack, +4 Special Attack, and +3 Critical Rate on use.

All-in-all, this is a universally useful Tech unit with high potential utility across the board. They can devastate the opposition with quickly stacking debuffs, potentially max the team’s Speed with a bit of setup, make Water or Dark Type moves hit harder, and even drop potentially devastating single-target Sync moves. While they obviously work best on teams that focus on Dark or Water Type damage due to the Rebuff effect, they can fit very effectively in the 3rd slot of just about any team, where they can potentially work alongside just about any strategy to help the team out while making life very hard on the opposing side. Their main down-side is the fact that their attack damage is a bit low, but honestly it’s potentially very respectable given the fact that all of their moves are 2-bar, especially Water Shuriken.

How To Use It?

Sync Grid Considerations & Lucky Skills

Sync Grid & Sync Levels

At ⅕, this is yet another case of using a Sync Pair for their base kit, which is very reasonable in this case. Serena & Greninja are outright great right out of the box, and the fact that their Sync Grid only really offers some stat boosts, power+ tiles for their moves, and Unflappable to avoid Flinching doesn’t change that fact by any means. ⅖ is where we start to see a little bit of additional utility show up, with Brutal Swing: Flabbergast 4, Brutal Swing, Foul Fighting 4, and Umbral Acceleration making the Dark side look pretty appealing, while Water Shuriken: Move Gauge Refresh 3 is sort of the main bonus to using Water Type damage.

And, as is almost always the case, ⅗ is where this Sync Pair can truly go all-out. Power Play, Furious Brain, and Soften Up 1 can unlock a potentially devastating damage boost to Serena & Greninja’s Sync Move, Water Shuriken: Rainy Mind-Blowing Strike 2 can make Water Shuriken absolutely devastating on a Rain team, and the mix of Brutal Swing: Superduper Effective 9, Brutal Swing: Defense Crush 9, and Glory of Tomorrow! Power Combo 9 all come together in order to make Greninja’s Dark Type set all the more ominous.

EX Viability

If you’re strictly planning on using Serena & Greninja for their Tech utility, which is a very reasonable goal, then EXing them isn’t hugely important beyond the base stats. If you want to use them for their potentially devastating Sync Nukes, then EXing should be a definite priority.

Lucky Skills

The classic Critical Strike 2 is always great for an offensive Sync Pair, though it has some stark competition from Weathered Warrior 3 from the Deluxe pool if you intend to put Serena & Greninja on a Rain team. Super Powered 3 is another solid option if your primary intent is to run them on-type for Dark or Water stages, as it sort of merges the benefits of the previous two Lucky Skills on stages with appropriate weaknesses. An argument can also be made for Grand Entry 2, as it can allow Serena & Greninja to max their Special Attack after a single Trainer Move use. On the Tech side, Defense Crush 2 can be a decent option, while the Deluxe pool has Mind Games 2 to more effectively debuff Special Defense.

Games Modes

Due to having high utility across the board, Serena & Greninja tend to fare well in just about any game mode, but they tend to shine the brightest in the Legendary Arena/Legendary Gauntlet. It’s a simple matter for them to absolutely devastate the stage boss’ stats and help setup the team for a quick-kill with Speed boosts and devastating Sync moves. However, that’s not all that they can do. Their unique capabilities allow them to disarm powerful centers and allow the team to make the finishing blow or rail against their opposition with surprisingly powerful Water Shurikens and devastating Sync Moves.

In fact, these same qualities make them useful in many event-battles such as Extreme Battles and Full Force Battles, as it’s fairly common for these stages to focus on stat drops. Serena & Greninja can even do fairly well in the Villa, where their ability to rapidly drop stats and resulting Sync Moves can be a benefit to the team.

Team Compositions

The obvious route to go with Serena & Greninja has to be to run them on Water or Dark teams so that they can utilize their on-type offensive for maximum efficiency. For a Water team, the ideal Support unit is going to be either Champion Calem & Greninja or Sygna Suit Kris & Suicune for their ability to fill the gaps in Serena & Greninja’s stats and bring the Rain for even more damage output. For the final slot, we have a number of other options available, all of which can be pretty potent in their own right. Dojo Gloria & Urshifu can rack up their own stat-drops and unlock B Quick Attack very quickly thanks to Surging Strikes’ multi-hit nature. Archie & Kyogre can bring their own rain, boost the time that rain stays on the field, and even provide great AoE Water Type damage support and help out with unlocking B Quick Attack a bit faster potentially as Origin Pulse counts as 3 hits. Even Cyrus & Palkia can come in and drop devastating Hydro Pumps while it’s raining, making them a fine 3rd slot choice.

For Dark Type coverage, the ace choice here has to be a repeat of Champion Calem & Greninja due to the way that they can set Dark Zone and gap-fill, although Sygna Suit Cyrus & Darkrai can cover the former and basically shut down the opposing team while Greninja cuts them down one Brutal Swing at a time. Summer N & Zoroark can also slot in for powerful Dark Type damage output and Aoe Dark Type Sync Moves, and even Marnie & Morepeko can get in on the fun with their potentially bone-crushing Power Trips.

Outside of the obvious pairings, many Sync Pairs love being paired up with Serena & Greninja, though those who prey on stat-drops are particularly potent partners. For example, Iris & Hydreigon can quickly strip the opposing team of all offensive stats and prey on all stat drops, so they can quickly rise to OHKO-range on anything in the game with their Sync Move, or Serena & Greninja's own Sync Nuke, even when playing off-type. Lear & Hoopa and Sygna Suit Korina & Marshadow also appreciate Serena & Greninja’s ability to generally manage enemy stats, as this can prevent a poorly timed stat-boost that could otherwise cause a significant damage-drop from their attacks and Sync Moves. Slower Sync pairs like Sygna Suit Giovanni & Nidoking, Sygna Suit Cynthia & Kommo-o, or Diantha & Gardevoir can also appreciate the Speed boosts from B Quick Attack, as it frees up their potential Support options quite a bit.

Is It Worth Pulling?

While Serena & Greninja’s competition is pretty steep, they definitely set themselves aside as one of the most shining examples of a prototypical Tech unit that we’ve ever seen. They take the tried-and-true tactic of stat drops, team stat support, and Sync Move power and run with it to the point of being a fantastic slot-in for a lot of different teams. It’s definitely best to review your personal Sync Pair pool and see if it would be more useful to go for Calem & Greninja, the 2-year Anniversary units that are set to re-run, or the Christmas units. And it’s probably best to save regardless and invest after our next datamine as Serena & Greninja will be here for a good long while, but overall this is definitely an investment worth making, as this is a Sync Pair worth using.

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About the Author(s)

Long-time Gamepress fan and writer for Pokemon Go and Pokemon Masters sub-site