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Best Elite TM Candidates for PvP

Last updated April 28, 2020

Trainers can now obtain Elite TM's—special TM's that will allow you to select a specific move or learn event-exclusive or legacy attacks! These Elite TM's open up rare movesets and movesets that haven’t been available before! In this article, we’ll take a look at potential candidates so you have some ideas when those Elite TM’s land in your bag.

Note that not all legacy moves are available via Elite TM, in particular moves that Pokemon never learned in the main series games. These include Mud Shot Golem and and Mud Shot Dugtrio. Also note that Elite TM's cannot remove Frustration from Shadow Pokemon.

Special thanks to @squawk1337 for help researching and reviewing the article! Let's dive in!

Jump to a section:

  1. Dewgong
  2. Zapdos
  3. Groudon
  4. Cresselia
  5. Charizard
  6. Blaziken
  7. Seaking
  8. Mewtwo
  9. Mew
  10. Event Moves & Shadow Pokemon
  11. Other Removed Moves

Dewgong

Moveset: Ice Shard + Icy Wind & Water Pulse
Formats: Great League

If you’ve been playing Great League or in The Silph Arena for a while, you’ve probably heard myths about this rare creature. You’ve maybe even glimpsed one for 4 whole minutes before the game timed out. The fabled double legacy Dewgong is now attainable, but comes at the steep cost of two Elite TM’s if you don’t have one of the legacy moves already.

Make no mistake, double legacy Dewgong is a top tier Great League Pokemon that combines great bulk with a stat-lowering move that is both spammable and powerful. Unlike comparable moves like Bubble Beam and Sand Tomb, Icy Wind boasts decent damage. Even in losing matchups, Icy Wind draws opponents into extended fights where they may lose the battle as well as their cool.

Yes, Dewgong does need both Ice Shard and Icy Wind to reach its full potential. Frost Breath + Icy Wind is surprisingly playable but faster Icy Winds are essential for Dewgong’s effectiveness.

A word of caution: Dewgong could potentially have its removed moves returned in a future update, or Icy Wind could be nerfed following the fate of similar moves like Power-Up Punch and Ancient Power. Only use Elite TM’s on Dewgong now if you want to win with it now.

Zapdos

Moveset: Thunder Shock + Drill Peck & Thunderbolt or Thunder
Formats: Great League, Ultra League

Thunder Shock Zapdos flew into raids a long while back, and although Zapdos became Great League eligible as a research breakthrough encounter, it’s been limping along with Charge Beam. All that changes now that Elite TM’s amp it up to its full potential.

Zapdos combines Charizard-like stats with one of the best defensive typings in the game—Electric and Flying—which is only weak to Ice and Rock. Thunder Shock and similar moves like Mud Shot and Psycho Cut are second only to Lock On in energy generation, giving Zapdos rapid access to Drill Peck (60 power/40 energy) and Thunderbolt.

Zapdos enters the Great League as a potential Azumarill+Registeel core breaker and can take on other meta players like Swampert, Skarmory, Tropius, and Toxicroak. It also stands up to future Great League giants like Jellicent and Mandibuzz.

One of the most important matchups in the Great League is Azumarill, and here's where things get tricky for Zapdos. Below is a list of conditions for Zapdos to beat high-rank Azumarill in a direct 1-shield matchup:

  • Thunderbolt Zapdos needs to hit a Thunder Shock breakpoint against Azumarill for its Thunderbolt to KO. This requires steep Attack IV's against high-rank Azumarill (11/2/5 guarantees the breakpoint against rank 1 Azumarill).
  • Thunder Zapdos needs 138.6 Attack (15 Attack IV for a research breakthrough Zapdos) for Thunder to KO a rank 1 Azumarill.
  • Barring this, Thunder Zapdos should allow Azumarill to use its Charged Move first and attempt to sneak in extra Thunder Shocks. This extra difference is enough for Thunder to KO.
  • All Zapdos lose head-on shields down and all Zapdos win investing two shields.

Should you run Thunderbolt or Thunder? For regular Zapdos, your decision could depend on the scenarios outlined above. Thunderbolt is 90 power/55 energy while Thunder is 100 power/60 energy. The first Charged Move takes 7 Thunder Shocks to reach but the second Thunderbolt only takes 6. This one may come down to personal preference but either work.

So you could get some Attack, but what if you wanted more Attack? Enter Shadow Zapdos. Shadow Zapdos locks down the Azumarill matchup and also picks up Sunny Cherrim, Jirachi, Scrafty, Umbreon, and Venusaur—and potentially Dewgong, Froslass, and Sableye with bait. This comes at the cost of Meganium and Swampert so there are tradeoffs. In general Shadow Zapdos is highly dangerous especially with energy; it has comparable Attack to Haunter with 20% more bulk. Thunderbolt is recommended for Shadow Zapdos so you can reach it slightly faster.

In the Ultra League, Shadow Zapdos takes on meta staples such as Articuno, Poliwrath, Venusaur, Swampert, and Registeel. It’s rated as one of the safest switches that can force shields and take all but Giratina and Melmetal into the red. If you managed to catch one and TM Frustration away, it’s definitely a top Elite TM candidate.

Groudon

Moveset: Mud Shot + Fire Punch & Earthquake
Formats: Master League

During the Hoenn Throwback Challenge starting on May 15th, Groudon with the exclusive move Fire Punch will be roaring into special research! This is a titanic change for Groudon, giving it a move 15 energy cheaper than its previously cheapest move (Earthquake, 65 energy) and setting it up to tear through Master League's Steel-heavy meta.

One big thing Fire Punch does for Groudon is give it the ability to bait. Fire Punch Groudon gains the ability to beat both Giratina with a successful bait. Groudon is happy to spam Fire Punch as well, beating key targets like Melmetal and Metagross. It can also potentially beat Dialga and Togekiss this way, although these matchups are extremely close (Dialga needs 1 more Dragon Breath to reach another Iron Head, Togekiss can win the matchups by not using a Charged Move).

Overall, Fire Punch Groudon will enter the Master League scene as a very welcome addition to break up prominent Steel and double-Steel lineups. If you already have a Groudon powered up, using an Elite TM to obtain Fire Punch is well worth it and greatly improves Groudon's viability. Groudon has yet to receive its signature move, Precipice Blades, so if you want to invest in Groudon now, be prepared to use more Elite TM's on it in the future.

Cresselia

Moveset: Confusion or Psycho Cut + Grass Knot & Aurora Beam, Future Sight, or Moonblast
Formats: Great League, Ultra League

Not only will Cresselia likely be available under 1500 CP outside of trades during the Sinnnoh Throwback Challenge, it will come with Grass Knot! Grass Knot Cresselia will become a force to be reckoned with in Great League and provide an interesting twist in Ultra League.

Great League is rife with bulky Water-type Pokemon like Azumarill and Whiscash that form the backbone of many teams. Cresselia can now take its amazing bulk and apply super effective pressure against these Pokemon. Head to head, it beats Azumarill, Whiscash, Swampert, and Dewgong. It will also be able to go toe to toe with Jellicent. Outside of Grass Knot, it can also beat other Grass types like Venusaur and Tropius, and Fighting or pseudo-Fighting Pokemon like Toxicroak, Medicham, Defense Deoxys, and Vigoroth. That's an impressive matchup profile!

Cresselia has an abundance of Charged Move options to pair with Grass Knot. Aurora Beam has the most synergy, targeting Flying and Grass types that resist Grass Knot. It does leave Cresselia more vulnerable to Alolan Marowak, but with Confusion this matchup is surprisingly close and has potential to flip in Cresselia's favor. Moonblast provides valuable coverage against Dark-type counters and is especially valuable against Giratina in Ultra League. Last but not least, Future Sight is an all around good move for general matchups.

Confusion versus Psycho Cut is a tougher debate and depends on how you want to use Cresselia. Confusion is generally better in head-on matchups while Psycho Cut gives Cresselia a bigger advantage when switching in or building energy leads. Overall I would recommend Confusion especially if you run Grass Knot and Aurora Beam, as Aurora Beam especially lacks punch.

Charizard

Moveset: Wing Attack + Blast Burn & Dragon Claw
Formats: Great League, Silph Arena

Wing Attack Charizard has been a highly coveted legacy Pokemon especially since Overheat became a devastating nuke. It saw play in Silph Arena’s Rainbow Cup and also stood out in Timeless Cup alongside the Air Slash variant. Overheat is overwhelmingly strong on paper but also tricky to use because of the -2 Attack drop. Now, Blast Burn Charizard can take advantage of Wing Attack’s faster energy generation, or vice versa, Wing Attack Charizard can wield a powerful move that doesn’t sharply lower its stats.

Is Wing Attack Charizard worth all the hype? Actually, there are some tradeoffs. Let’s do a quick gut check on the numbers:

Move

Turns

Damage Per Turn

Energy Per Turn

Wing Attack

2

2.5

3.5

Fire Spin

3

3

3.33

Air Slash

3

3

3

Wing Attack generates energy slightly faster but comes at the cost of damage. It can’t farm down opponents like Fire Spin can, which means Wing Attack Charizard usually has to spend energy to finish matchups. There’s also the curious situation where Fire Spin actually reaches the first Blast Burn faster than Wing Attack; Blast Burn costs 50 energy which fits perfectly into 5 Fire Spins, while 7 Wing Attacks put you at 49 energy, which requires one more Wing Attack.

When to use Wing Attack and when not to depends on the meta and specific matchups you want to take advantage of. In Ultra League, for example, Charizard may prefer Fire Spin to handle Registeel and Articuno. In Great League, Charizard is up against a lot of Pokemon that resist Fire-type attacks, so Wing Attack may be better. Wing Attack Charizard puts up a better fight against the likes of Whiscash and Altaria. However, open Great League is still a hostile place for Charizard so look to make the most of Wing Attack Charizard in a future Silph Arena format.

See also Sky Attack Moltres who would be comparable to Charizard with some key differences. Sky Attack is cheaper than Blast Burn, but Moltres lacks a bait/spam move like Dragon Claw. Charizard is generally better unless you’re looking to take advantage of Fighting-type matchups.

Blaziken

Moveset: Counter + Blaze Kick & Stone Edge
Formats: Great League, Silph Arena

Stone Edge Blaziken was one of the rarest legacy movesets. It was only available for a few days after release, and even if you had one, odds were slim it was under 1500 CP. Is this chicken a slam dunk or is it overrated?

Blast Burn Blaziken has a lot of similarities to the old Alolan Raichu: a high-offense Pokemon that ran a bait and a nuke move of the same type, powerful in the right Silph Arena meta in the right situation but vulnerable to being hard countered. Alolan Raichu got upgrades to Volt Switch and the addition of Grass Knot, both of which propelled it into a top anti-meta spot. Stone Edge solves Blaziken's big coverage problem and makes it much more forgiving to use. Blast Burn + Blaze Kick Blaziken is completely stuck against the likes of Altaria and Mantine, but with Stone Edge it can draw shields and potentially flip matchups it couldn't before.

Why Blaze Kick instead of Blast Burn and Stone Edge? Blast Burn and Stone Edge give Blaziken a powerful pair of closing moves. However, this set lacks flexibility which is a big selling point for unlocking Stone Edge in the first place. Blaze Kick allows Blaziken to still perform its Fire-type role and also provides a bait move for Stone Edge. In the Forest Cup, for example, Stone Edge over Blast Burn drops Quagsire and Stunfisk in the 1-shield matchup (both require bait), and drops Jumpluff, Meganium, and Stunfisk in the 0-shield matchup while picking up Kingdra. All other matchups have similar results on paper.

Ultimately, Stone Edge Blaziken has a lower ceiling without Blast Burn but a higher floor. If you find maneuvering with Blaziken a challenge, Stone Edge can make it more comfortable and forgiving to run. Want to try it out before spending your previous Elite TM? Head over to Training Battles and test it out against a bot opponent!

Seaking

Moveset: Poison Jab + Icy Wind & Drill Run
Formats: Great League

Some candidates may only need one Elite TM. How about three? Triple legacy Seaking is the new hotness since Drill Run was improved to be as powerful as Sky Attack. Seaking is the ultimate meta breaker with potential wins against Azumarill, Altaria, and Registeel. Is that enough to warrant the steep investment?

First thing to note, Seaking has middling stats and doesn't receive the same-type attack bonus on its moves. This means Seaking needs shields to perform well, its wins are often close, and it'll have difficulty coming back while behind. In other words, Seaking may be best suited as a lead where you can guarantee an even start and give Seaking the support it needs. Its strong anti-meta role also means it can struggle if it doesn't encounter that meta. Using its Icy Wind debuff effectively, reading your opponent's backline, and maneuvering it effectively are key to making Seaking successful.

If you're lucky enough to have one or two of the legacy moves already, how good of a Seaking do you need? Should you wait to snag a better one? Thankfully, Seaking's primary matchups aren't IV dependent and even low-rank Seaking can take them on. Of note are a Dragon Breath bulkpoint against Altaria, and a bulkpoint against Snarl Shiftry which allows it to survive to a second Icy Wind.

This Pokemon is more gimmicky, but could be worth it if you're willing to train with it a lot. You can always try it out in the Train section before you decide to invest!

Mewtwo

Moveset: Psycho Cut + Psystrike & Shadow Ball
Formats: Master League

Mewtwo has been in raids with Psytrike and Shadow Ball as exclusive moves, but now they can be wielded together for the first time. Psystrike provides incredible neutral damage and Shadow Ball allows it to bully Giratina more and score better neutral hits against Dialga (Shadow Ball is 100 power/55 energy compared to Ice Beam and Flamethrower’s 90 power/55 energy).

Where before you had to choose between one or the other, Psytrike and Shadow Ball have incredible coverage and are resisted only by Dark types like Darkrai and Weavile. Ice Beam may be missed against targets like Garchomp or Dragonite, and Flamethrower may be missed against Melmetal, but all in all Psystrike/Shadow Ball Mewtwo improves as a generalist. Psystrike/Shadow Ball Mewtwo also becomes an incredible safe switch that will force shields from even dedicated Dark-type counters. Other Mewtwo movesets are still viable and aren’t overshadowed by this one, but Psystrike/Shadow Ball opens up new possibilities. In the current Steel-heavy meta, Psystrike + Focus Blast may prove to be the more meta-centric set.

Mew

Formats: Great League, Ultra League, Master League

Mew is a unique Pokemon on this list because it doesn’t have a legacy move to obtain. Instead, Elite TM’s allow you to navigate its dozens of moves to finally get the “mewvset” you’ve wanted.

Now the question is, which set do you want? Thankfully there are a few guidelines that can help us narrow things down. First, Mew has two viable Fast Moves: Shadow Claw and Volt Switch . Both of these moves have fantastic energy generation (4 energy per turn) which help Mew reach its arsenal of Charged Moves. Shadow Claw is more versatile and less clunky while Volt Switch can help plug an anti-Flying or anti-Water hole in your team.

Second, consider your playstyle and how you would like to use Mew on your team. Are you leading with Mew? Using it as a safe switch? Closing with shields down? When it comes to Mew’s Charged Moves, you generally want two coverage moves, or a coverage move plus a spam/bait move.

Below are some example movesets and specific Great League Pokemon they target.

  • Shadow Claw + Psyshock & Grass Knot: Swampert, Whiscash, Toxicroak, Lanturn, Lapras. Improved Grass Knot scores super effective hits against big name Water types and Psyshock spam chunks in neutral fights. Effective as a lead where your opponent won’t know the matchup is bad for them. This set struggles against Steel types.
  • Shadow Claw + Wild Charge & Ice Beam: Altaria, Tropius, Mantine. Classic “boltbeam” coverage gives Mew a wide, super effective net to catch common meta Pokemon. Effective as a safe switch or a counter switch. Grass Knot over Ice Beam is also an option. This set is less flexible and may struggle with shields up.
  • Shadow Claw + Surf & Rock Slide: Alolan Marowak, Probopass, Stunfisk, Froslass. Packs coverage and spammability into one moveset. Underwhelming head to head matchups but excellent on a switch or with an energy advantage. Lacks closing power late game. Stone Edge is an alternative to Rock Slide with more punch.
  • Shadow Claw + Psyshock & Focus Blast: Registeel, Bastiodon, Toxicroak, Ferrothorn. High versatility to spam or nuke. Excellent safe switch potential as Focus Blast will either draw a shield or devastate Dark-type counters.
  • Shadow Claw + Psyshock & Overheat: Registeel, Skarmory, Ferrothorn. High ceiling but very bait dependent (Overheat doesn’t OHKO Registeel). Potentially use Overheat in the lead so you can switch and clear the stat changes.
  • Volt Switch + Wild Charge & Grass Knot. Azumarill, Swampert, Skarmory, Lanturn. You’re better off running Alolan Raichu but this set is uniquely better against Ground types like Swampert, Whiscash, and Stunfisk.

Leading with Mew may be the best option where you can keep it in or stash it for the matchup it needs. It also ensures Mew won’t be working against an energy advantage. If you land a lead matchup that’s bad for your moveset, you can stick in to build up energy and potentially throw a low-cost Charged Move before switching. Staying in the matchup can trick your opponent into thinking you have the right moveset for the situation and throwing shields. This strategy is less effective the bulkier the opposing lead is (Registeel, Bastiodon, and Umbreon are unlikely to shield the first Charged Move).

Event Moves & Shadow Pokemon

Longtime PvP players probably have all the essential Community Day moves in their collection. If you’re just entering the arena, you can use Elite TM’s to catch up. These moves may be available later via future Community Day events, special Raid events, or local trade partners, so only use Elite TM’s for these if you need them right now. The Community Day and Raid Day Pokemon below are top tier in the listed formats, so obtaining them could be well worth it:

  • Hydro Cannon Swampert: Great, Ultra, Master, Silph Arena
  • Frenzy Plant Venusaur: Great, Ultra, Silph Arena
  • Frenzy Plant Meganium: Great, Ultra, Silph Arena
  • Meteor Mash Metagross: Master
  • Last Resort Umbreon: Great, Silph Arena
  • Blast Burn Charizard: Ultra, Silph Arena
  • Hurricane Articuno: Ultra
  • Psystrike Armored Mewtwo: Ultra

If you already have these in your collection, you’re good to go. There’s another question worth asking: what about Shadow Pokemon with their Community Day moves?

The answer like most things involving Shadow Pokemon is it depends. Each Shadow Pokemon has its advantages and drawbacks. As a quick note, Elite TM’s may not be able to remove Frustration from Shadow Pokemon, so to obtain these moves you would either need to unlock a 2nd Charged Move or have previously removed Frustration during the available window. If you’re a fan of the Silph Arena, high-performing Shadow Pokemon are likely ban suspects, so gear your Elite TM and Shadow Pokemon decisions toward GO Battle League and freestyle.

Below are relevant Shadow Pokemon with their Community Day moves and notes about how they compare to their regular counterparts:

  • Synchronoise Shadow Gardevoir: One Shadow Pokemon that’s pretty much a universal upgrade. Synchronoise unlocks Shadow Gardevoir’s fastest available move which is highly valuable alongside Charm’s low energy gain.
  • Blast Burn Shadow Charizard: Extra attack potentially snatches matchups like Umbreon, Hypno, Melmetal, and Sableye. More bait dependent but with even more terrifying bait potential. Generally better in Great League than Ultra, and better with Fire Spin than Wing Attack; Shadow Charizard wants to avoid extended, Charged Move-based fights.
  • Hydro Cannon Shadow Swampert: In Great League and Master League, generally worse than regular Swampert. Less bulk stops Shadow Swampert short of Hydro Cannons regular Swampert can reach. Shadow Swampert fares better in Ultra League with more relative bulk to work with.
  • Frenzy Plant Venusaur: Direct matchups are roughly the same as regular Venusaur, dropping Umbreon and Shiftry. More potent Frenzy Plant will KO Azumarill before it reaches Ice Beam but lower capacity to take that Ice Beam.
  • Shadow Meteor Mash Metagross: Shadow Metagross loses the ability to consistently combat Melmetal and Dialga. Top neutral damage generalist for the raiders in the room.
  • Earth Power Shadow Flygon: Similar to Charizard, Shadow boost gives Earth Power the extra strength it always needed and makes Dragon Claw spam even more deadly. Potential in Great and Ultra Leagues but vulnerable to top meta picks like Azumarill and Articuno.

Other Removed Moves

There are a lot of Pokemon worth considering with their legacy movesets. Here are a few more that could be worth an Elite TM:

  • Ice Shard Lapras: Top Great and Ultra League pick if you missed when legacy Lapras was available as a Research Breakthrough encounter and can’t obtain one via trade. Wants Surf & Skull Bash in Great League and Surf & Ice Beam in Ultra League (another Elite TM required for Ice Beam).
  • Earthquake Politoed: Honorary mudboi with a lot of potential, capable of busting the Azumarill + Registeel core with Earthquake alone. Pure Water type so it fully resists Water and Ice-type attacks and isn’t double weak to Grass. Also handles meta favorites like Haunter and Alolan Marowak, and even beats its compatriots Swampert and Whiscash head to head. Shadow Politoed performs generally worse in head to head matchups but better with energy.
  • Razor Leaf Weepinbell: Highest Attack stat of any Razor Leaf user in the game. Doesn’t offer many practical advantages over Victreebel, who has a much better move pool, but could be fun to play with, especially the Shadow variant.

Hopefully this article helps you weigh the all-important decisions ahead of you!