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Introduction

Now that we’ve reached the end of the Rainbow Cup, we are entering the Jungle. The Jungle Cup is the Silph Arena’s July format, once again allowing four types to compete: Bug, Grass, Electric, and Normal. Key exclusions from this Cup include Tropius and Wormadam. One standout difference compared to previous Cups is how Electric and Bug-type Pokemon play a bigger role than they have before. Here’s our analysis on everything you need to know to compete in your local tournament, brought to you by sims on Gamepress’ GoBattleSim and newly updated Battle Matrix, as well as the help of PvPoke and extensive first-hand experience. Legacy moves will be marked with an asterisk (*).

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The Beasts of the Jungle: Normal and Fighting-types

Counter + Body Slam + Bulldoze or Brick Break

Vigoroth stands at the top as the Jungle’s most aggressive predator. Vigoroth’s Counter coupled with its ability to spam boosted Body Slams makes it a threat to all Pokemon that oppose it. As a result, Vigoroth is the only Counter user in the Cup that can reliably handle Flying, Poison, and Bug-type Pokemon, as well as Confusion users. This doesn’t mean that these types don’t give it trouble, it’s just with the right amount of shields or prior damage/energy, Vigoroth can easily turn the tables on many of its losing matchups, and once that’s done it will ruin the day of whatever comes next with Body Slam spam. One area that Vigoroth suffers greatly is against its Counter wielding brothers, Breloom and Heracross. Fortunately, most Pokemon you’re bringing to the Cup to counter Vigoroth can handle them more easily.

Counter + Seed Bomb, Sludge Bomb, and/or Dynamic Punch

Breloom’s main role in the Jungle Cup is to nuke Vigoroth with Counter, farming it as long as it shields Body Slam. While Breloom can get the sucker punch in on Vigoroth, it goes down quickly to Pokemon with Flying or Poison-type Fast Moves and Confusion. The Bugs of the Jungle Cup are real, and Breloom looks delicious. As a result, running Sludge Bomb will be important to secure as many neutral hits as possible. For your second charge move, Seed Bomb will allow you to bait shields and Dynamic Punch will give Breloom a harder, often deadly, hit against Noctowl and Forretress.

Counter + Megahorn + Earthquake or Close Combat

Like Breloom, Heracross is here to give Vigoroth a hard time and beatdown Electric-type Pokemon. Unfortunately, Flying-type attacks and Confusion also make quick work of it. The advantage to using Heracross over Breloom lies in its resistance to Counter and Megahorn’s heavy neutral damage, giving it an easier time and the ability to tank one Body Slam against Vigoroth. Its main drawback is its inability to touch Flying and Bug-type Pokemon, making it a massive liability as all teams will have at least two on their roster. Although it’s worth noting that Heracross beats Forretress and, with the right timing, can destroy a Noctowl or a Venomoth respectively with an unshielded Close Combat or Earthquake, so it’s not completely lost against them.

Confusion + Thunderbolt + Mirror Coat

In the Jungle lurks a monster that sleeps only 2 hours a day, doesn’t fear the reaper, eats leaves from trees, and plays minesweeper: Girafarig. Girafarig’s Psychic typing cancels out the weakness to Fighting, allowing it to be one of the few Normal-type Pokemon to make the cut and have a very even matchup with Vigoroth. Not many Pokemon in the Jungle Cup can tolerate Girafarig’s STAB Confusion, and serves as a grim reminder that too many Poison-types on your team can quickly become a mistake. Thunderbolt gives it improved matchups against Flying-types that its Confusion competition (Venomoth) doesn’t have. On the flip side, given Girafarig’s poor defenses, Pokemon with Bug-type Fast Moves and Steel-types make quick work of it.

Lick + Body Slam + Bulldoze

Munchlax is the non-Counter analog to Vigoroth, sporting many of the same advantages along with an improved matchup against Bug and Poison-type Pokemon. The main things holding Munchlax back are its weakness to Counter users (such as Vigoroth) and its inability to effectively hit Normal-type Pokemon (such as Noctowl or Vigoroth). Overall, Munchlax’s main role is to combo with Vigoroth for a Rock-Rock-Scissors combo, but it can also work independently by taking advantage of opponents relying of Bug/Poison-types to wear you down.

Countering the Beasts: The Bugs of the Jungle

Confusion + Silver Wind + Poison Fang* or Psychic

Straight out of the Twilight Cup, Venomoth is back doing what it does best: Confusion spam. The general power of Confusion coupled with the stat boosting chance of Silver Wind make Venomoth a potent addition to any team. Poison and Fighting-types beware and any non-Steel-type watch out. Venomoth’s advantage as a Confusion user over Girafarig lies in its double Fighting and Grass-type resistances, giving it a slightly favorable matchup against Vigoroth and an easy time against threats like Venusaur. Venomoth’s main drawbacks are its weaknesses to Flying, Rock, Girafarig’s Confusion, as well as the fact that it needs quick-fire support from the rare legacy Poison Fang to perform at its best. That being said, it is still viable with Psychic.

You could also consider Dustox in Venomoth’s place if you don’t have the legacy version. However, you would have to max your Dustox and the low CP offers few advantages over the mighty moth. Namely higher bulk with significantly lower attack, and a better non-legacy secondary move in Sludge Bomb.

Bug Bite + X-Scissor + Power Gem

Vespiquen exists as a sort of Flying Forretress with similarly high bulk. It threatens Grass and Psychic-types with its Bug Bite, while keeping command over Bug/Flying-type Pokemon with Power Gem. Unlike Forretress, Vespiquen has the added benefit of threatening Counter users with her double resistance to Fighting. Overall, it’s probably the best non-Fighting counter to Vigoroth, as one of the few capable of tanking Body Slam twice to beat it in all even shield scenarios and even at a 1-2 shield disadvantage. The main drawback to Vespiquen is how quickly she can be felled by Flying-types with her Power Gem charging up a bit too late.

Poison Jab + X-Scissor + Sludge Bomb or Aerial Ace

Beedrill stands out amongst the swarm with its Poison-type Fast Move and, like Vespiquen, a positive matchup against Alolan Raichu. Despite Beedrill having a Poison sub-typing rather than Flying, it still runs into trouble against the other Electric-type Pokemon and the random Rock-type attack, as well as against Confusion users. Despite the double resistance to Counter, the Vigoroth matchup can still go wrong depending on shield usage and energy management. Sludge Bomb will give a bit more edge, while Aerial Ace takes better care of its fellow Bug foes. Overall, if you feel your team has Alolan Raichu problems, Beedrill and Vespiquen are the answer.

The Shadows of the Jungle: Beast Beaters and Bug Eaters

Wing Attack + Sky Attack + Night Shade or Psychic

Like Vigoroth, Noctowl looms over the Jungle as one of the Cup’s top picks. Its mere presence in the meta demands the use of Electric-type Pokemon to comfortably counter it, as most Bug and Grass-type Pokemon hardly stand a chance. In general, Vigoroth carries the advantage against Noctowl due to its Body Spam, but most victories are narrow. Should Noctowl have extra energy or Vigoroth be slightly damaged, the tide can quickly turn to Noctowl’s favor. 

When deciding between Psychic and Night Shade, consider which matchups you’ll want your second move to cover. Psychic will be more powerful against Lanturn, the Alolan Rocks, and Kantonian Raichu. Night Shade will be stronger against the Magnets and Alolan Raichu. 

Pidgeot with the legacy Fast Move Wing Attack could be considered over Noctowl. Its allure lies in its ability to overtake Noctowl in the mirror while fulfilling Noctowl’s job. However, should an opposing Noctowl have a high enough defense stat (through a trainer focusing on getting a low attack stat Noctowl), then Pidgeot will miss Wing Attack’s breakpoint, ruining its advantage. Fearow and Staraptor may also be considered due to their Ground and Fighting-type secondary coverage, but are generally too weak to really justify using.

Air Slash + Silver Wind + Ominous Wind

Masquerain heard you like stat boosts. While it’s inadvisable to select a Pokemon for a 10% (~27% over three uses) chance to become viable, Masquerain is already good without it. This sprite crushes any Grass, Bug, and Fighting-type Pokemon that gets in its path with Air Slash. Spamming Silver Wind and Ominous Wind for the potential stat boost is just the extra spice. Should your Fighting or Grass-type Pokemon get farmed by this monster, save your shields and try to have them die faster, least you give it a free stat boost. Between the threat of Masquerain and Noctowl, you’ll definitely want to bring an Electric-type to the Cup. 

You could also consider Yanma instead of Masquerain. It has relatively similar matchups, but its Ancient Power can take out ~50% of Noctowl’s HP and one-shot most Bug-types. One huge drawback, of course, is the fact that you’d have to power it up to level 40.

Air Slash + X-Scissor + Aerial Ace

Scyther exists as a solid, non-stat boosting analog to Masquerain. Due to how powerful and spammy X-Scissor is, it can overtake Vigoroth in the lead with 2-2 shields. Aerial Ace gives Scyther a solid hit on Noctowl which Masquerain does not have. Scyther can also KO Forretress before it reaches its second Heavy Slam and Venusaur before it gets to its second Sludge Bomb. Aside from these scenarios, the two are almost identical and tie in the mirror. The question comes down to consistency vs buff power.

Bug Bite + Earthquake + Heavy Slam or Rock Tomb

In general, it may be best to keep Forretress on the bench unless you feel you’ll see a lot of Confusion users at your cup. With the massive presence of Fighting, Electric, Rock, and Flying-type Fast Moves, Forretress has a tougher time in the Jungle than it had in the Rainbow Cup despite the absence of Fire. While there are few Pokemon Forretress is outright weak to, there are also few Pokemon it outright dominates. With shields up, it can even struggle to beat things it’s supposed to wall, like the other Bugs in the section above. However, once your opponent starts to fall behind, its slow but devastating Charge Moves can make quick work of any Pokemon unfortunate enough to get caught in its web, including Vigoroth. The choice between Heavy Slam and Rock Tomb falls on if you want a stronger and faster neutral hit or a Charge Move that deletes Bug+Flying-type Pokemon.

An honorable mention can be given to Scizor, a squishier but spammier Pokemon comparable to Forretress. While Scizor lacks Forretress’s diverse coverage, it does have an improved matchup against Vigoroth (albeit not exactly a winning one).

Countering the Bugs and Fliers: The Storm of the Jungle

Rock Throw + Rock Blast + Wild Charge (Thunderbolt)

Alolan Golem and Graveler are the two Pokemon the Bug and Flying-types fear the most in the Jungle, performing almost identically with their Electric charge move being the only difference. With Rock Throw alone, these two put Rock weak Pokemon immediately on farm mode, allowing them to unleash a flurry of Charge Moves on their next victim. Furthermore, Alolan Golem/Graveler have a relative advantage against most of the other Electric-types in the cup, losing only to Lanturn and tying with Magnezone. Like Magnezone, these two double resist Flying and can also retaliate well against Grass-types with their neutral Rock damage. One heavy draw back to the pair is their weakness to Counter, but one hit from Rock Blast or Wild Charge is often enough to KO or leave most Counter users severely crippled.

Spark + Wild Charge + Flash Cannon

Most Electric-type Pokemon fear the Grass-types of the Jungle. Magnezone knows no such fear, one-shotting them if they don’t shield Flash Cannon, and it also has the added perk of resisting Confusion. To balance this, Magnezone has a relatively poor matchup against all of the other Electric-types. Aside from that, it functions similarly to Alolan Golem, farming most Bugs, fearing Counter, while threatening said Counter users with its Charge Moves. 

The legacy Discharge Magneton can also work in Magnezone’s place, trading bulk for earlier Charge Move activation especially if paired with the other legacy move, Thunder Shock. This activation speed can let Magneton more easily deal with Forretress and get the jump on opposing Magnezone. Aside from this, the two perform relatively the same.

Water Gun + Thunderbolt + Hydro Pump

Lanturn is generally the weakest Electric-type in the cup, as it has terrible matchups against Bug-type Pokemon (the worst after Alolan Raichu) and is dominated by Grass. To make up for this, it brings the rain to the other Electric-type Pokemon in the cup. Between Lanturn’s bulk and aggressive damage with Water Gun, only Raichu and Alolan Raichu can keep their heads above water in the 1-1 shield scenario. How beneficial Lanturn will be on your team depends on how many non-Flying Fast Move Bugs your opponent has, and on how much its superior bulk can make the difference when it comes to shield usage.

Spark + Thunder Punch + Wild Charge

Alolan Raichu has the best matchup against both Vigoroth and Noctowl, the two main staples of the Jungle. Unfortunately, this power comes at the expense of being weak to Bug-type damage. Fortunately for Raichu, only half of these Pokemon can really threaten it, so this problem may not come up too much in the field. However, should more aggressive Bug-type damaging Pokemon (such as Vespiquen) become popular, it may find itself at a frequent disadvantage.

Thunder Shock* or Spark + Brick Break + Wild Charge

Unlike its Alolan cousin, Kantonian Raichu performs similarly to the other Electric-types in the cup. It holds a strong matchup against all Bug and Flying-types and struggles against Counter users. One interesting quality, reminiscent of the Rainbow Cup, is its relatively positive matchup against Lanturn, Magneton, and especially Magnezone. Brick Break offers spammy super effective hits on Alolan Golem/Graveler and Vigoroth too.

Countering the Beasts and the Storm: The Grass-types of the Jungle

Razor Leaf + Acid Spray + Leaf Blade

Victreebel hammers through all non-Grass resisting Pokemon with Razor Leaf, paying no heed to their shield usage. It’s worth noting that Victreebel’s aggressive damage can overtake Magneton, Magnezone, and Vigoroth in more scenarios than Venusaur. To sweeten the pot further, it can cripple counters with Acid Spray to pave the way for your party's victory. Victreebel’s main drawbacks are its negative matchup against Venusaur and inability to deal with fliers in the pinch.

Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant* + Sludge Bomb

Venusaur trades Victreebel’s raw power for more dynamic Charge Move usage. While it can’t plow through fights as simply as Victreebel can, its ability to use Sludge Bomb quickly can get it out of more losing matchups. On top of that, it shares all the same positive matchups as Victreebel and sports an advantage over it. However, Venusaur has a slightly harder time dealing with Vigoroth at a shield disadvantage, though it still generally counters it well. If you don’t have a Frenzy Plant Venusaur, you could also consider Vine Whip + Power Whip Ivysaur if Razor Leaf isn’t to your taste.

Infestation + Grass Knot + Stone Edge

Cradily is able to flip the script on Bug and Flying-type attackers with its Rock sub-type and Stone Edge. This of course comes at the expense of having weaker matchups against Counter users and opposing Grass-types. If Cradily is the secret spice to victory or just a niche pick that’ll catch opponents off guard will be seen by the end of the month. One thing that is certain however is you’ll want to be prepared for Cradily.

Exeggutor and Exeggcute may also be considered as alternative Grass-type Pokemon. Despite being taken out more rapidly by Bug-type attacks and having poorer matchups against Electric-types, their Psychic sub-type and Confusion spam allow them to more easily win against Fighting, Poison, and Psychic-type Pokemon. In the mid to late game, the raw power of Confusion can also allow them to clean up weakened Pokemon and corner opponents for the win. Don’t be fooled thinking Exeggcute is just here because its Confusion is non-legacy, its access to Ancient Power can blitz Bug/Flying-type Pokemon just as it could Charizard in the Rainbow Cup.  

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