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July 2019 Move Update: Winners and Losers for Trainer Battles

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Article by Tyler Fulcher
Table of Contents

Introduction

While any Pokémon getting a new move is beneficial, not all changes are created equal. There are some big winners here, some Pokémon that are more or less unaffected, and some that just shouldn’t be bothered with, even with their new toys.

Winners

Moves Gained

Fire Punch, Ice Punch, Thunder Punch

Legacy Shadow Ball Hypno was already a force to be reckoned with in Great League. While it was relatively slow, the combination of Confusion with Shadow Ball’s raw power (and Focus Blast as backup), made it more or less un-wallable.

The addition of the three elemental punches (Thunder Punch, Ice Punch, and Fire Punch) function twofold. First, coverage. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Three new moves of different types let Hypno hit totally new things for super effective damage. Second, they’re cheap. Confusion, while strong, only has 3 EPT, which means when the cheapest move is Shadow Ball at 55 energy, Hypno has historically really struggled to shield bait, leaving it more effective when shields are down. Just as an example, with Confusion + Shadow Ball and Thunder Punch, Hypno goes from tying with Azumarill at 2 vs 2 shields to winning dominantly. Thunder Punch also covers Skarmory.

Ice Punch, on the other hand, gives fantastic damage against Venusaur, Tropius, and Altaria. Fire Punch doesn’t bring enough to the table to be worthwhile, so choose one of the other two. Or just stick with Focus Blast as a tool to shields-down nuke Bastiodon and Probopass from orbit.

Move Gained

Charm

Of all the new Charm users, Wigglytuff is probably the most notable. With its ability to defeat Medicham without needing to shield (though you probably should for the sake of the subsequent Pokémon), Wiggly could potentially be a valuable choice. That said, we’re not entirely positive as to where it would slot into a Great League team given the current meta. Be on the lookout in Jungle Cup though!

Moves Gained

Bulldoze, Psyshock

Bronzong has historically effectively had one charged move. Psychic is terrible, and Heavy Slam more or less does Flash Cannon better. Now, with access to Psyshock and Bulldoze, you actually have meaningful variety. While its matchups don’t significantly improve in open Great, it could absolutely have a niche in some upcoming restricted format.

Move Gained

Grass Knot

Everyone’s (my) favorite chocolatey pancake boy has a new toy to play with in Grass Knot. With the same stats as Wild Charge, Spark + Grass Knot and Wild Charge can make for a slower, more versatile version of the spark surfer. In the Jungle Cup meta, it allows Achu to cover Alolan Graveler/Golem and Lanturn, while sacrificing a not-insignificant amount of shield baiting capacity. In Freeform, it lets Achu oneshot the mudboys, like Whiscash and Quagsire (and soon Swampert as well!)

Meh

Moves Gained

Smack Down

Smack Down doesn’t really improve Aggron that much. Its attack stat is too low to be good, and also too high to be good.

Move Gained

Foul Play

It didn’t really need Foul Play. It’s not like it’s worse now, it’s just not meaningfully better.

While Moltres may have become somewhat of a god as far as PvE Flying-type attackers go, the birds did not significantly improve. If they’re personal favorites, they at the very least are no longer locked into only a single type of move, which makes them more usable. But don’t rush to drop the 100,000 dust.

Move Gained

Dragon Claw

While Dragon Claw is absolutely a powerful move, it doesn’t significantly impact how Sceptile works. Leaf Blade is already fast for shield baiting, and Sceptile’s low bulk doesn’t do it any favors in trainer battles.

You may be surprised to see only one Charm user listed in the Big Winners section. While Clefable is certainly more powerful than before, it didn’t see quite as much improvement as Wigglytuff. Kanto Raichu’s still happier to use Thunder Shock/Spark, and Gallade and Gardevoir overall do better work with Confusion. Latias, Delcatty, and Granbull don’t perform significantly differently. Wobbuffet and Donphan actually perform worse with Charm. Togekiss, while it didn’t improve significantly overall, now hard counters Medicham much more, making this one more of a lateral change.

No

Move Gained

Mud  Slap

Mud Slap (3 DPT/2.5 EPT) is more or less a strict downgrade from Confusion. It’s also just not a good move. Do not.

Move Gained

Sludge Bomb

While Sludge Bomb is a powerful move, Vileplume just doesn’t bring the energy gain to make use of it. Victreebel is still more than likely the better choice thanks to Leaf Blade’s power and speed.

Move Gained

Rock Throw

Rock Throw may be a significant improvement to Aerodactyl’s usability in PvE, but its offensively-weighted stat distribution and mediocre defensive typing leave this mon happier on the bench in PvP.

Move Gained

Ice Punch

So squishy. It had bigger problems than type coverage, and Ice Punch doesn’t fix them.

Skull Bash

130 power for 75 energy. What a nuke. Raising your defense (even when the charged move is shielded) is pretty nice as well. But wow that’s expensive.

Of the Pokémon that learn it, only two have a fast move with higher than 3 EPT: Lapras with Ice Shard (3.33 EPT) and Raichu with Spark (4 EPT)/Thunder Shock (4.5 EPT). In both cases, it seems like you’d be more likely to just run other moves. Super expensive charged moves don’t exactly have a storied history of success in Pokémon GO PvP, and Skull Bash isn’t likely to be much different.

About the Author(s)

Tyler is a contributing writer for GamePress, primarily focusing on Trainer Battle content. Fan of dogs and fighting games.