Countering Lugia and Sky Attack's Changes

Countering Lugia and Sky Attack's Changes


On March 15th, Rayquaza returned to the stratosphere as Lugia re-emerged from the sea! This came as a surprise, since trainers were expecting our new raid bosses to either be the Eon Twins, Latios and Latias, or the Legendary Titans, Regirock, Registeel, and Regice. To add to this excitement, Sky Attack has been buffed and Lugia can now be found as a shiny! Naturally, trainers have been curious how conquering this raid has changed over the months and if this newly buffed Sky Attack changes Lugia’s role in the meta. Using our best mathematical understanding of raid AI, simulated matchup data, and real world analysis, we here at GamePress believe we have the answers players are looking for!

Optimal Extrasensory + Sky Attack
Great Extrasensory + Future Sight or Dragon Tail + Sky Attack

  • Extrasensory is Lugia’s best quick move, targeting Poison and Fighting-types for STAB effective damage.

  • Dragon Tail can provide neutral coverage against Psychic-types.

  • Sky Attack trumps Future Sight in a vacuum, but Future Sight is useful against more targets due to sharing a type with Extrasensory.
  • Thanks to Sky Attack's buff from 70 to 80 damage, it can perform as well as, if not better than Future Sight in most cases.
  • Hydro Pump isn’t a bad charge move, but it has no use on Lugia.

Helpful Breakpoints and Bulkpoints

Breakpoints Header

It’s not mandatory to hit these breakpoints or bulkpoints, but they are levels where your attackers will have a noticeable improvement in their performance. If you are unfamiliar with what a breakpoint or bulkpoint is, we suggest checking out our guides on breakpoints and bulkpoints. If you’re curious about the breakpoints of other Pokemon or fast moves, you can find them using our breakpoint tool. You can find your Pokemon’s unique bulkpoints using our bulkpoint tool as well.

Note: Due to the relative ease of this fight, bulkpoints were only included for more "Glass Cannon" type Pokemon.

Pokemon Breakpoints Bulkpoints
Raikou 32.5
Tyranitar 20.5
Zapdos 32
Jolteon 37 31.5, 32.5, 37, 38.5
Gengar, Shadow Claw 36.5 29.5, 34, 34.5, 35.5
Mewtwo, Confusion 27
Kyogre 26.5, 38.5
Gyarados, Bite 34.5
Golem 26.5*, 28, 38.5* 36, 40

*Partly-Cloudy specific breakpoints

Countering Lugia

Lugia Counter Graph

In our previous Lugia raid guide, Lugia was reputed as being “the most troublesome to counter effectively.” At the time, without the weather system, the only good option we had for Lugia was Tyranitar, which is not only a very rare Pokemon but is also vulnerable to Hydro Pump. Over the months, in addition to the weather system, we have gained many new powerful allies to take on the Guardian of Seas - the best of which being Raikou, Zapdos, and Mewtwo.

Against all movesets, Raikou will be your best answer to Lugia, hitting a supreme point at level 32.5. If you’re up against Future Sight, Tyranitar will be significantly more tanky. If you play by the weather, Rayquaza, Salamence, and Dragonite stand out in the wind, where Golem and the legacy, Rock Throw Omastar are great when it’s partly-cloudy. If you’re lacking these Pokemon,  Gengar and Jolteon stand out with their high DPS. If you don’t have the legacy, Shadow Claw Genger, then Jolteon will be a better pick, having as much DPS as Gengar’s next best set, Sucker Punch, and more survivability. If your party is Rock-type heavy and you have your eyes on sparing revives, Kyogre is an exceptionally tanky option against Lugia’s Hydro Pump set, and Gyarados makes a decent adjunct counter.

If you lack the above or want some additional choices, Articuno, Shadow Ball Gardevoir, Jynx, Banette, Houndoom, and Wild Charge Arcanine can fill gaps in your team. Aggron, Snorlax, Lapras, and Walrein all make decent, low DPS options that are more useful than nothing.

Sky Attack

With the re-release of Lugia, Sky Attack’s base power was changed from 70 to 80. This seemingly small buff was initially met with criticism, until it was realized that this put Sky Attack’s simple charged move DPS to 40. Simple DPS is when you divide an attack’s base damage by its animation time. It is entirely unreliable when comparing attacks of different energy cost. In the league of 50 energy cost charged moves, recognizably powerful ones such as Dynamic Punch, Shadow Ball, and Wild Charge all sit at 33.33, 33.33, and 34.62 simple DPS respectively. Sky Attack’s 40 simple DPS sounds like it should be a big deal; however, this doesn’t factor in fast move damage, damage per enegy, battle duration, or fainting time.

Using doublefelix and bioweapon’s comprehensive DPS model, Extrasensory + Sky Attack’s DPS ranges from 19.91-23.80, where it previously ranged from 18.37-21.58. Known explosive combinations such as Counter + Dynamic Punch and Thunder Shock + Wild Charge range from 19.97-23.47 and 19.26-23.13 respectively. Clearly, we have a significantly buffed charged move on our hands that isn’t exactly overpowered (unless you already consider Dynamic Punch and Wild Charge overpowered).

Lugia's Use in the Meta

While Lugia isn’t the only Pokemon that is able to learn Sky Attack in Pokemon GO, Lugia is the only meta-relevant one. The newly buffed (and arguably OP) Sky Attack is a welcomed gift to the Guardian of the Sea, but it doesn’t appear to give Lugia any new roles in the Pokemon GO metagame. The relative increase of 1 DPS has been more helpful than game breaking. With that in mind, everything Lugia had done well before, it now does even better.

What is Lugia good at?

Right now, three things:

If you haven't powered up a Lugia yet and are either struggling with Machamp solos or holding onto revives, it may be worth it to invest some stardust!


Right now, it isn’t clear if Lugia’s re-appearance is based solely on the new Pokemon movie “Everyone’s Story” or is just the start of a month filled with legendary re-releases. What is known is that Lugia is here, Sky Attack has been buffed, and Lugia can be shiny! Don’t let the buffed Sky Attack threaten (or excite) you too much, while the change is significant it doesn’t heavily impact Lugia’s performance. Just throw your powerful Electric, Dark, and Shadow Ball users at it and you should be fine. If you’re lucky enough to find a shiny Lugia, don’t freak out! Shiny Lugia has a modified catch rate. As long as you can land a single ball on it, you will catch it 100% of the time!

Let’s see what the rest of the month holds!