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Choose Your Champions

Last updated June 7th, 2019

Season 1 Championships are ahead, and the very best trainers will be going head to head! If you are one of them, or even just spectating, you know the team building challenge that lies in store - in the Championships, competitors can only have two of the following Pokemon on their teams of 6: Azumarill, Medicham, Lucario, Altaria, Skarmory, Venusaur, Tropius, Meganium, Bastiodon, and Probopass.

Which should you pick, and what are viable alternatives? This article covers the strengths and weaknesses of the Pokemon above, and how to search far and wide for potential replacements. The list below is by no means comprehensive or represents all or even most of the Pokemon who may appear in the Championships, but hopefully helps you find solid options. The process I went through for writing this article was to take each Pokemon, boil them down to their essential functions (no Pokemon were harmed in the writing!), and see which other Pokemon compare. Who qualifies for the position of Azumarill or Bastiodon? Time to turn our Pokemon hats backwards and get down to business!

Credit to Gamepress for the Pokemon images! Also, shout out to squawk from the GO: Stadium Discord for feedback on the picks in this article. Some of them are quite peculiar, so let's dive in.

Jump to a section:

  1. Azumarill
  2. Medicham
  3. Lucario
  4. Skarmory
  5. Altaria
  6. Bastiodon & Probopass
  7. Venusaur & Tropius
  8. Meganium
  9. Closing Thoughts

Azumarill

Azumarill has been a centralizing figure in just about every cup it’s been allowed. Let’s take a closer look at why Azumarill is the top bunny, and how to replace what it brings to the table. When looking at Azumarill or Azumarill replacements, we want it to be able to do these things:

  • Stop Medicham and other Fighting types in their tracks
  • Protect your team against Sableye or Umbreon
  • Apply super effective pressure to tanks or fliers
  • Win neutral matchups through sheer bulk

This is an awful lot to ask from a single Pokemon! We’ll look at replacements that can accomplish most of these. Ultimately, if you're foregoing Azumarill, aim to spread Azumarill's capabilities across multiple Pokemon on your team rather than straight up replace it.

Azumarill

Type: WaterFairy
Moves: Bubble + Play Rough/Hydro Pump or Ice Beam
Key Matchups: Medicham, Lucario, Altaria, Skarmory, Bastiodon, Sableye
Counters: Venusaur, Meganium, Tropius, Ivysaur, Lanturn, Magneton, Haunter

Azumarill’s fantastic typing, bulk, and incredible coverage give it a ton of key winning matchups. Play Rough is essential for the mirror as well as beating down Medicham and Sableye; Ice Beam gives you an out against Grass types, a super effective option against most alternative Flying types, and a (however slight) shield bait option. Hydro Pump, meanwhile, is lethal knockout move that threatens Bastiodon and Skarmory, who can go toe to toe with the Ice Beam variant.

Looking at Azumarill’s key matchups, it’s no wonder why it feels like a must pick. It beats 5 of the other 9 limited Pokemon head to head and has coverage options against the remaining 4. As you’ll see below, there are other Pokemon that can fill in similar gaps but not to the same extent as Azumarill. This is for sure the Pokemon to beat at Championships, but what if you want to brave the waters without it?

Blastoise

Type: Water
Moves: Water Gun + Hydro Cannon/Ice Beam
Key Matchups: Bastiodon, Probopass, Sableye, Haunter
Counters: Venusaur, Meganium, Tropius, Ivysaur, Lanturn, Magneton

Who’s got sunglasses and one of the most powerful moves in the game? Blastoise is out here throwing shade at with decent bulk and coverage that means little gets by it without a bruise. For one, it has the Bastiodon matchup locked down. It can even challenge Medicham and Skarmory in very close matchups.

Blastoise has similarities to Whiscash, for example, but a few key differences set it apart. No Ground type means it doesn’t take as much punishment from Grass Fast Moves, but its moveset is also slower and overall less flexible. It also loses the valuable Lanturn matchup. But Blastoise never, ever loses its cool.

Hypno

Type: Psychic
Moves: Confusion + Focus Blast/Shadow Ball or Psyshock
Key Matchups: Medicham, Azumarill, Venusaur, Lanturn
Counters: Sableye, Umbreon

I must be hypnotized, because Hypno isn’t a Water type! That’s okay, because Hypno wraps up a lot of Azumarill’s capabilities in a very different package. High bulk? Check. Resisting Fighting and hitting hard back? Check. Super effective threat for Bastiodon and Probopass? Double check! And Confusion will hurt frontrunner Grass types like Venusaur, Ivysaur, and Victreebel.

Hypno takes up Azumarill’s anti-Fighting nature with hard-hitting Confusion damage and powerful Charged Moves to back it up. Legacy moves are a requirement here; either Shadow Ball or Psyshock will work. Shadow Ball is likely the preferred option, capable of beating out Azumarill, but Psyshock baits shields better (which Hypno may need to do to net wins against Bastiodon).

Hypno has one big disadvantage compared to Azumarill, and that’s its matchups against Dark types. Umbreon and Sableye can completely wall it. If strength against Fighting types is what you’re looking for, Hypno is your guy, but consider another alternative if you want to avoid a Dark-type trap.

Medicham

Medicham has been contending since there were contenders, and ever since Power-Up Punch, it’s been an anchor in the Great League. Fighting’s main job is to beat up Steel types, but Pokemon like Medicham with great stats and coverage evolve beyond their role to turn whole cups into their personal punching bags.

Medicham has several alternatives if you want some punch on your squad. The main thing we want Medicham or a Medicham replacement to do are:

  • Beat down Steel types that try to wall the rest of the team
  • Win against other Fighting types
  • Pack good coverage to hit Fighting counters and other valuable targets
  • Gain momentum to overpower the opponent

Medicham

Type: FightingPsychic
Moves: Counter + Power-Up Punch/Dynamic Punch
Key Matchups: Lucario, Bastiodon, Probopass, Whiscash, Lanturn
Counters: Azumarill, Sableye, Alolan Marowak, Haunter

The one and only. Counter damage that ramps up over time, excellent coverage in Ice Punch, hips for days - Medicham is a Pokemon that can snowball into a wrecking ball. An advantage that Medicham has over its competitors is that in can shield twice and win almost any matchup. Only a select few things can challenge Medicham at full strength, and those mainly include the Ghost types like Sableye, Haunter, and Alolan Marowak. Fliers like Skarmory can get the job done, but if Medicham has built up boosts or energy, it’s not always a sure victory.

Medicham’s typing is also peculiar, and it’s both a blessing and a curse. The Psychic typing lets it resist other Fighting attacks and take neutral damage to Confusion, but allows Ghost to hit for super effective damage and Dark to hit for neutral damage. Medicham is also the bulkiest Fighting type, so you really need to press every advantage if you want to beat it.

If you bring Medicham, beware of opponents who have constructed their lineup to scare Medicham away with Pokemon like Azumarill, Skarmory, Venusaur, or Sableye. They may be using scare tactics so they can run Bastiodon or Probopass unopposed. Evaluate your opponent and do your best to judge if they will really bring their Medicham counters. It will help to have a backup plan for Bastiodon or Probopass, such as Whiscash!

Hitmonchan

Type: Fighting
Moves: Counter + Power-Up Punch/Ice Punch
Key Matchups: Lucario, Blastoise, Quagsire, Bastiodon, Probopass
Counters: Medicham, Azumarill, Sableye, Alolan Marowak, Haunter, Confusion users

Say hello to Medicham’s stunt double, right down to the moveset. Hitmonchan may not have the bulk, but that actually gives it an edge.

If you’re a Venusaur, Tropius, or Altaria, you know not to fall for Medicham’s shield baits. Medicham’s Attack is low enough that these Pokemon can take an unshielded Ice Punch and still come out on top. Not so against Hitmonchan! Hitmonchan has higher Attack, which means these Pokemon will be tempting fate if they don’t shield.

All three elemental punches are viable for Hitmonchan, but Ice Punch will likely give it the best coverage. Fire Punch can specifically target Skarmory (although Hitmonchan can bludgeon Skarmory through Power-Up Punch if it has to), while Thunder Punch may have uses against Azumarill and alternative Water types like Mantine or Blastoise.

Toxicroak

Type: PoisonFighting
Moves: Poison Jab + Mud Bomb/Sludge Bomb
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lucario, Bastiodon, Probopass, Tropius (1 shield), Lanturn
Counters: Skarmory, Whiscash, Quagsire, Confusion users, switch glitch vs. Confusion users

This veteran from Twilight and Nightmare has a lot of anti-meta tools that make it dangerous. Poison typing lets it resist Fighting attacks, and Toxicroak comes with both spammable and powerful Charged Moves. This lets it take on other Fighting Pokemon head to head like Medicham can while doing its tank-busting tasks.

Poison Jab chunks down Azumarill and hits most Pokemon for neutral damage. Mud Bomb is fantastic because not only does it beat the tanks, but it also gives valuable coverage against other Poison Pokemon like Haunter, and Electric Pokemon like Lanturn or Alolan Raichu. Meanwhile, Sludge Bomb puts the hurt on Azumarill and Tropius. Counter is also an option if you are relying on your Fighting Pokemon to take down Umbreon, as Toxicroak can't beat Umbreon without it.

A key difference between Toxicroak and Medicham is it has none of the bulk. It’s in the league of squishy where you may want to shield almost any attack, even neutral ones. Keep an itchy trigger finger, too, especially if you see a Confusion user on the opponent’s team. You want to avoid having Toxicroak locked against them at all costs!

Lucario

Lucario may be a fan favorite, but hasn’t had the spotlight in more open tournament formats for a few reasons. First, it loses to all other Fighting options. This puts it in a rough spot when the Fighting mirror is a rather frequent occurrence. Second, Lucario needs shields against everything, even the things it counters. It doesn’t appreciate a Flamethrower to the face!

So what makes Lucario special? If you’re looking at a Pokemon like Lucario, you want to be able to:

  • Beat Steel types like any Fighter should
  • Flip the script on Flying type Pokemon
  • Have a crippling coverage option

Lucario

Type: FightingSteel
Moves: Counter + Power-Up Punch/Shadow Ball
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Bastiodon, Probopass, Meganium, Lanturn
Counters: Medicham, Whiscash, Quagsire, Haunter

Two things about Lucario. Steel typing makes Flying attacks neutral against it, so it can beat up would-be Fighting checks like Skarmory and Noctowl. Second, Shadow Ball is a powerful move that threatens everything with major damage, especially Ghost hard counters like Haunter. Lucario’s shield baiting potential is much more potent than Medicham’s because there are few things that can afford to let a Shadow Ball go unblocked.

The question is, does Lucario deserve one of those two treasured spots? The answer is likely no. However, it could find success against lineups that depend on a Flying Pokemon to remove Fighting threats.

Vigoroth

Type: Normal
Moves: Counter + Body Slam/Bulldoze
Key Matchups: Bastiodon, Probopass, Lanturn, Noctowl, Mantine,
Counters: Medicham, Venusaur, Tropius, Meganium

Don’t slack off this coming Community Day! Vigoroth is a potent Pokemon who has had trouble standing out since Medicham became the center of attention, but it could fill a niche in the Championships. Normal typing means it doesn’t take super effective from Flying attacks, and is more than capable of taking it to Pokemon like Noctowl and Mantine. It is also immune to Ghost attacks, which could be critical against teams that rely on a Haunter or Sableye to counter Fighting.

Body Slam allows for incredible neutral damage spam against most targets, while Counter and Bulldoze can take down things that resist Normal attacks. Bulldoze is nowhere near as good as Mud Bomb, but the Ground type coverage is just as valuable.

Like Lucario, Vigoroth will struggle against genuine Fighting types. Grass types like Venusaur and Tropius are also a problem because they resist Fighting and Ground attacks.

Sudowoodo

Type: Rock
Moves: Counter + Rock Slide/Earthquake
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Bastiodon, Probopass, Umbreon
Counters: Medicham, Azumarill, Tropius

Sudowoodo is neither a real tree nor a real Fighting type! It goes to the next level by fully resisting Flying type attacks. This puts it in the unique position of a Fighting attacker that can convincingly beat Skarmory. STAB Rock Slide is very dangerous and what you want to spam most of the time. Earthquake targets Bastiodon and Probopass. Watch out for Steel-type attacks like Flash Cannon and Magnet Bomb!

Similarly to Lucario, Sudowoodo goes down against Fighting types. Its Rock typing also makes it especially vulnerable to Razor Leaf and Water attacks.

Skarmory

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a flying fortress that has terrorized almost every cup it’s been allowed! Skarmory is an incredibly valuable Pokemon whose bag of tricks include the ability to:

  • Farm Grass types to unleash dangerous attacks on the next opponent
  • Threaten Fighting types
  • Resist and beat other Flying types

This skillset is hard to find in any other Pokemon, but we’ll take a look at Skarmory itself and  a few Pokemon that come close.

Skarmory

Type: SteelFlying
Moves: Air Slash + Sky Attack/Flash Cannon
Key Matchups: Tropius, Venusaur, Meganium, Whiscash, Quagsire, Altaria
Counters: Bastiodon, Probopass, Lanturn, Magneton

Skarmory has been the bread and butter of multiple metas for its powerful attacks and valuable resistances. While Skarmory can take on Fighting type Pokemon if it has to, the real reason it’s here is to bodyguard your Ground/Water Pokemon and turn Grass type Pokemon into energy batteries wherever it gets the chance. It has far overtaken its main competition, Altaria, for beating Altaria itself and being neutral to prominent Ice coverage. Flash Cannon is also nice for denting Bastiodon and Probopass who may be unlikely to block it.

Noctowl

Type: NormalFlying
Moves: Wing Attack + Sky Attack/Psychic
Key Matchups: Tropius, Venusaur, Meganium, Medicham, Sableye, Haunter, Alolan Marowak
Counters: Bastiodon, Probopass, Lanturn

Noctowl makes its debut as a very convincing option for the Flying slot. Its Normal typing doesn’t hurt it as much as you’d expect because that’s offset by high bulk. Noctowl beats Grass and Medicham, and its immunity to Ghost attacks makes it a uniquely able to take down all the Ghost flex picks. It can even tank a Sludge Bomb from Haunter.

One downside is Noctowl can’t farm energy easily with Wing Attack - it typically has to take down its targets with Sky Attack, leaving it with less energy for the next matchup. Do your best to squeeze as much energy as you can out of your Grass opponents before a Sludge Bomb or Acid Spray comes your way.

Charizard

Type: FireFlying
Moves: Fire Spin + Dragon Claw/Blast Burn
Key Matchups: Tropius, Venusaur, Meganium
Counters: Bastiodon, Probopass, Lanturn, Azumarill, Blastoise

“Spin to win” is Charizard’s motto. It can use Grass types to farm energy for multiple, lethal Blast Burns that will send just about any Pokemon packing. It also has Dragon Claw as a spam and shield bait option. On top of that, it can threaten Skarmory and Medicham if it has energy built up or if it can bait shields with Dragon Claw.

Charizard is a risky Pokemon that requires shields in almost all scenarios and can’t tough it out in neutral matchups like Skarmory can. Bastiodon and Probopass also beat it in the blink of an eye. Building up energy leads is critical for Charizard, and it can wipe multiple Pokemon or force multiple shields when it does its job correctly.

Altaria

Altaria reminisces about the glory days where it was king of the skies. Azumarill, Skarmory, Bastiodon and prominent Ice coverage have all come along to take it down a peg. If you’re eyeing Altaria and an Altaria-lookalike for your roster, here’s what you want to accomplish:

  • Wall Grass types
  • Threaten Fighting types
  • Challenge Electric counters
  • Win neutral matchups through oppressive Fast Move damage

Altaria

Type: DragonFlying
Moves: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
Key Matchups: Tropius, Venusaur, Meganium, Lanturn, Haunter
Counters: Bastiodon, Probopass, Azumarill

Altaria’s secret ingredient is Dragon Breath, one of the strongest Fast Moves in the game that gives it the ability to power through a ton of matchups. Unfortunately Dragon Breath is resisted by a number of key Pokemon like Azumarill and Bastiodon, but Altaria can still apply pressure in lots of other matchups. It’s also one of the bulkiest Flying types, so it can take an Ice Punch and still put up a fight.

Look to burn down Grass types, and since you take neutral damage to Electric attacks, you can take on Flying counters like Lanturn and Alolan Raichu. This is Altaria’s biggest plus compared to Skarmory, but it should carefully considered with its drawbacks: double Ice weakness, losing to Skarmory, and getting hard countered by Azumarill.

Dragonite

Type: DragonFlying
Moves: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw/Outrage
Key Matchups: Tropius, Venusaur, Meganium, Lanturn, Blastoise, Haunter
Counters: Bastiodon, Probopass, Steelix, Azumarill

Not to be underestimated in Great League, Legacy Dragonite trades bulk for a speedy attack in Dragon Claw and raw offensive power. Dragonite is to Altaria and Charizard is to Skarmory, packing heat but needing shields to stay in the fight. Only dedicated counters will escape Dragon Breath unscathed. Like Altaria, it can beat Electric types that have sure matchups against other Flying Pokemon.

Dragonite has to be constantly alert for Ice coverage from Medicham, Hitmonchan, and others. Where Altaria can afford to let some attacks go unblocked, Dragonite has to consider shielding most attacks that come its way.

Beedrill

Type: BugPoison
Moves: Poison Jab + Sludge Bomb/X-Scissor or Aerial Ace
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Medicham, Tropius, Venusaur, Meganium
Counters: Bastiodon, Probopass, Skarmory, Sableye, Whiscash, Quagsire

Beedrill is applying for a job that requires 3 years of Dragon Breath experience, but it still meets the important qualifications and is eager to learn on the job. So what’s all the buzz about? Beedrill has a ton of anti-meta capabilities. It swats away Razor Leafers and other Grass types, takes down Fighting Pokemon, and beats Azumarill while it’s at it. Beedrill can’t defeat Electric Pokemon like Altaria can, but it still plays those matchups pretty close.

Poison Jab and Sludge Bomb are your anti-meta weapons. X-Scissor may be preferred for its speed and shield baiting capabilities, but you can go with Aerial Ace for a stronger sting against Grass and Fighting types. However, you do lose manueverability and strength against Electrics.

For all its pros, Beedrill has its cons, too. Its bad matchups are very bad, and they happen to be against really prominent opponents like Skarmory, Whiscash, and Bastiodon. Be careful with the bee and make sure it doesn’t get locked into a nightmare situation.

Bastiodon & Probopass

This dinosaur isn’t going anywhere, and neither is its moustachioed compadre. Before Bastiodon and Probopass came along, there weren’t many Pokemon that could take on the entire Flying roster, and do it so resoundingly. Two double weaknesses don’t even slow them down. A Bastiodon or Probopass should:

  • Knock Flying types out of the sky
  • Apply pressure in bad matchups
  • Conquer neutral matchups through sheer bulk and resistances

Bastiodon is one of the best at what it does and not many Pokemon have moustaches, but we’ll dig up a few alternatives that can fill in.

Bastiodon

Type: RockSteel
Moves: Smack Down + Stone Edge/Flamethrower
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Tropius, Haunter
Counters: Medicham, Lucario, Whiscash, Quagsire, Steelix, Meganium

Bastiodon has Chansey and Blissey levels of raw bulk plus excellent typing to boot. It beats almost every Flying Pokemon it can encounter (Gligar and Gliscor wave in the meta-irrelevant distance). Where other anti-Flying Pokemon may need to use Charged Attacks to do the job, Bastiodon is more capable of farming and can hurt the next Pokemon with its decent coverage.

Both Stone Edge and Flamethrower cost the same energy, so this can make Bastiodon one-dimensional. It isn’t going to pull off any trick plays, but it doesn’t need to. Bulk wins the day. It’s this bulk that makes Bastiodon a valuable anti-anti-meta weapon as well. Whichever wild picks your opponent throws your way, Bastiodon is a safety net against the unexpected. This key advantage over its alternatives is yet another reason to consider it for one of your restricted Pokemon.

Probopass

Type: RockSteel
Moves: Spark + Rock Slide/Thunderbolt
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Bastiodon
Counters: Medicham, Lucario, Whiscash, Quagsire, Steelix, Meganium

Probopass uses Electric instead of Rock attacks that allow it to beat Flying Pokemon but also take on Bastiodon as well. It doesn’t have quite as much bulk, but a faster moveset gives it more punch. You can choose to go for Thunderbolt for the knockout, or build up some energy and spam Rock Slide.

Hydro Pump is still a threat but Probopass can challenge it much better with its Electric moves. This key difference helps separate it from Bastiodon. Probopass struggles against similar opponents, such as Ground and Fighting types, and Grass types who resist the Electric attacks.

Steelix

Type: SteelGround
Moves: Dragon Tail + Crunch/Earthquake
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Altaria, Lanturn, Bastiodon, Probopass, Alolan Marowak
Counters: Azumarill, Medicham, Lucario, Whiscash, Quagsire, Blastoise, Tropius, Meganium

Steelix has shared the battlefield with Bastiodon before. Here, it faces more threats in Grass and Water types. As a Bastiodon alternative, it beats Flying types (look out for Bubble Mantine), beats both Bastiodon and Probopass, and has an easier time against Lanturn. Crunch is also valuable as a Ghost-chomper.

Where Bastiodon plays it straight, Steelix loves being sneaky between Crunch and Earthquake. Baiting shields is a valuable part of Steelix’s play and can be used to great effect. Note that you can beat Bastiodon and Probopass with straight Earthquakes (either of those locked against you are likely not to shield anyway).

Lanturn

Type: WaterElectric
Moves: Water Gun + Thunderbolt/Hydro Pump
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Noctowl, Azumarill
Counters: Venusaur, Meganium, Tropius, Whiscash

Lanturn has been an anti-Flying staple for a long time, and here it can fulfill the same role as Probopass and in some ways improve upon it. Lanturn has a slightly more convincing Azumarill matchup and while it's still beaten by most Fighting options, it isn’t completely toothless.

Where Probopass hits Bastiodon with neutral damage from Spark, Lanturn can go super effective with Water Gun. Water Gun also lays the hurt on Steelix. Lanturn, however, is particularly vulnerable to Grass types, making it prohibitive to run on the same team as Azumarill. It’s also much slower than you'd like it to be.

Nevertheless, Lanturn has excellent matchups against several core Pokemon, so anticipate seeing it on many rosters.

Magneton

Type: ElectricSteel
Moves: Thunder Shock + Discharge/Magnet Bomb
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Blastoise
Counters: Medicham, Lucario, Whiscash, Quagsire, Alolan Marowak, Meganium, Venusaur

Legacy Magneton has paper-thin defensive stats, but double-resisting Flying definitely helps. It takes out Flying Pokemon like Skarmory at ridiculous speed. Unfortunately for Magneton, it can’t double resist everything, and it’ll find itself quickly overpowered in neutral matchups. One positive is it can take on Water types like Blastoise where Bastiodon and Steelix would struggle.

Alolan Raichu

Type: ElectricPsychic
Moves: Spark + Thunder Punch/Wild Charge
Key Matchups: Skarmory, Noctowl, Azumarill, Medicham (0 & 1 shield)
Counters: Venusaur, Meganium, Tropius, Whiscash, Quagsire

This little rodent proved in Nightmare Cup that it packs a punch, and it flew under the radar in Regionals as an anti-Flying Pokemon with an anti-meta pinch. Alolan Raichu can not only take on Skarmory and Azumarill with its Electric attacks, but it resists Fighting as well and can take on Medicham. Shield baiting is an essential part of Alolan Raichu’s toolkit. It’s a Pokemon you’ll want practice with to learn which matchups you need to bait shields and which you can straight Thunder Punch or Wild Charge. Unlike its competition, Raichu is on the fragile side and needs shield support.

Venusaur & Tropius

Grass Pokemon have one job: beat Azumarill and other bulky Water Pokemon. Venusaur and Tropius overachieve by providing incredible utility while beating other Grass types. Thankfully, there are a few Pokemon who can replicate their success. Here are the qualifications for being a Venusaur or Tropius, or a Venusaur/Tropius replacement:

  • Dominate Water types
  • Beat other Grass types
  • Resist and challenge Fighting types
  • High damage or other utility in neutral matchups

Venusaur

Type: GrassPoison
Moves: Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant/Sludge Bomb
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Meganium, Tropius
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Alolan Marowak

Vine Whip versus Razor Leaf has been a longstanding debate. For Venusaur in particular, I recommend Vine Whip for faster energy gain and vastly better utility compared to Razor Leaf. Frenzy Plant is one of the most powerful moves in the game, so Razor Leaf feels like Venusaur is carrying Excalibur with its shoelaces tied together. You are more maneuverable and dangerous with Vine Whip; where Venusaur might be lucky to get one Sludge Bomb using Razor Leaf, Vine Whip gives it several and allows for trick plays.

Venusaur shines when it can burn through shields or lay waste to opponents that can’t block Frenzy Plant. The Poison typing is also valuable for resisting Fighting moves. One downside to Venusaur is that it’s less bulky than other Grass options, so it needs to be conscious of opposing Charged Moves that can cripple it. You also need to be careful of Confusion users on the other team, who can farm a locked Venusaur for energy.

Tropius

Type: GrassFlying
Moves: Razor Leaf or Air Slash + Leaf Blade/Aerial Ace
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Steelix, Sableye, Umbreon
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Venusaur, Bastiodon

Tropius combines some of the best traits of Venusaur and Meganium. It resists Fighting without being weak to Confusion, it beats other Grass types, and it has the bulk to slug it out against the likes of Hypno and Umbreon.

It also has its drawbacks. Where other Grass types can challenge or beat Bastiodon, Tropius gets countered. Tropius also loses to the Vine Whip variant of Venusaur and Ivysaur. Last but certainly not least, Tropius comes with a double Ice weakness. It has so much bulk this isn’t a death sentence against weaker coverage moves like Ice Punch, but you need to watch out for Ice Beam Azumarill and Blizzard from Whiscash.

On an entirely separate topic, Tropius can run Air Slash to convert into a genuine Flying type. Air Slash generates energy much quicker than Razor Leaf, allowing Tropius to take advantage of its Charged Moves more effectively. It also has a surprise factor, and those crucial moments it takes for your opponent to realize your moveset could be a difference maker. Note that your lineup can potentially give away your Tropius’s moveset, depending on whether it is your only Grass or Flying type.

Air Slash Tropius can farm other Grass types for energy like Skarmory can (be careful of Sludge Bomb, though). It also generally wins against the same Water Pokemon, and becomes more deadly to Fighting Pokemon. However this comes with some drawbacks, too. As a flier, it loses to all other fliers. It can also no longer beat Ice Beam Azumarill, and its matchups against Sableye and Umbreon become much more tenuous.

Ivysaur

Type: GrassPoison
Moves: Vine Whip or Razor Leaf + Power Whip/Sludge Bomb
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Blastoise, Whiscash, Quagsire, Meganium, Tropius
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Alolan Marowak

Ivysaur and Venusaur are nigh identical Pokemon. The key difference is Power Whip versus Frenzy Plant (Power Whip is 90 power/50 energy while Frenzy Plant is 100 power/45 energy). It’s not a far cry from Frenzy Plant Venusaur, but the difference is enough to entertain Razor Leaf for Ivysaur. Note that Ivysaur can’t beat Meganium or Tropius with Razor Leaf, so that’s also an important consideration. However, the extra, instant damage could be valuable especially in a fast-paced environment. Razor Leaf does better against Sableye in particular.

Victreebel

Type: GrassPoison
Moves: Razor Leaf + Leaf Blade/Acid Spray
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Sableye, Haunter
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Charizard, Alolan Marowak, Venusaur

Razor Leaf is Victreebel’s only option, but what it lacks in conventional utility it makes up for with Acid Spray. A -2 Defense debuff can drastically change the outcome of a match, making unwinnable matchups winnable and turning close calls into energy batteries. If you’re concerned about Sableye, Victreebel has a very solid matchup against it with Acid Spray, and Sableye can't burn shields to save itself.

Meganium

While Venusaur has gotten a lot of recent attention, Meganium is not to be ignored and it means business. High bulk, Frenzy Plant, and fantastic coverage in Earthquake combine into a versatile Pokemon. Meganium and Meganium replacements should be able to:

  • Dominate Water types
  • Reliably beat anti-Flying tanks
  • Avoid being exploited by Confusion

Meganium

Type: Grass
Moves: Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant/Earthquake
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Bastiodon, Probopass, Steelix, Umbreon
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Alolan Marowak, Venusaur, Tropius

The number of Meganium's “key matchups” speaks to its excellent bulk and power. It’s too bad that it loses to Venusaur, but can still give it a fright with Earthquake. In fact, Earthquake is an incredibly valuable part of its toolkit and soundly beats the like Bastiodon and Probopass. And while it doesn’t resist Fighting attacks like Venusaur can, it can use its extra bulk to challenge them just the same.

Another of Meganium’s key advantages is it isn’t vulnerable to Confusion. Meganium can overpower typical Confusion users like Gallade, and it even has positive matchups against Hypno.

Sceptile

Type: Grass
Moves: Fury Cutter + Leaf Blade/Earthquake
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Bastiodon, Probopass, Steelix, Meganium
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Venusaur, Tropius

For Sceptile, the best defense is a good offense. It has blinding speed with Fury Cutter and Leaf Blade, and similar to Meganium, Earthquake devastates Bastiodon and Probopass. Fury Cutter also hits pure Grass types for super effective damage, not to mention Psychic and Dark types. Despite its fragileness, Sceptile has a narrow 1-shield win against Hypno and can shield twice to beat Sableye and Umbreon.

Sceptile has plenty of other moves to consider as well. Aerial Ace can threaten Fighting and other Grass types, but Sceptile doesn’t have the stamina to beat these Pokemon head on. It’ll need an energy lead in most cases, but that’s something of Sceptile’s specialty! Frenzy Plant is another move to consider. It relegates Sceptile to a closer role, though, and Sceptile will miss that extra bit of speed from Leaf Blade. (The alternative is to run Leaf Blade and Frenzy Plant together, which gives you maximum Grass flexibility at the expense of any coverage.)

Grotle

Type: Grass
Moves: Razor Leaf + Body Slam/Grass Knot
Key Matchups: Azumarill, Lanturn, Whiscash, Quagsire, Steelix, Sableye
Counters: Skarmory, Altaria, Noctowl, Venusaur, Tropius

Grotle stands alongside Bellossom and Bayleaf as a pure-Grass Razor Leaf. The other options are bulkier and certainly worth consideration. One nich draw for Grotle is extra Attack that allows hit to hit a valuable breakpoint against Probopass (Grotle will want around 121.7 Attack to guarantee the breakpoint).

Unless you’re purposefully looking to burn shields, Grotle should stick to Razor Leaf in most of its matchups and use its built up energy to Body Slam the next opponent.

Closing Thoughts

These are just a few of the possible Pokemon that could make a splash at Championships. If you’re preparing to compete, I hope this article helps your team building decisions. If you plan to spectate, I hope it sheds some light on the tough decisions that are currently being made around the world!

Best of luck to every trainer who is participating. You represent the best of the best, and the end of The Silph Arena’s maiden voyage. On to the next battle, and to become the very best!