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The Freefolk's Guide to Kingdom Cup

Last updated April 11, 2019

Tempest has ended, and the time has come to clash in the Kingdom Cup! In this battle of Ice, Fire, Dragon, and Steel, two Pokemon are poised to lead the charge: Bastiodon and Lucario. The catch? These Pokemon aren’t all that easy catch! Bastiodon needs to be powered up to near level 40, and Riolu only hatches from 7k and 10k eggs (or so I’m told).

Uncertain of your chances without Bastiodon and Lucario? Never fear! This guide will help you put together a competitive team to take on that steely throne. With a mix of cost-effective Pokemon and ones from previous cups, this article should help you get a Kingdom Cup crew going in no time!

Note: Egg pools have shifted recently, so this article will be updated once additional Pokemon sources are confirmed.

Jump to a section:

  1. Song of Ice
  2. ....And Fire
  3. There Be Dragons
  4. Steel Yourself
  5. Example Teams
  6. Closing Thoughts

The Targets

Before we build our team, we have to know which Pokemon to beat. This list may differ from what you see in your local tournaments, but should be a good general guide.

  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
  • Charizard: Fire Spin + Blast Burn/Dragon Claw
  • Flygon: Mud Shot + Dragon Claw/Earthquake
  • Lapras: Water Gun + Surf/Ice Beam, Dragon Pulse, or Blizzard
  • Blaziken: Counter + Focus Blast/Brave Bird
  • Lucario: Counter + Power-Up Punch/Shadow Ball
  • Bastiodon: Smack Down + Stone Edge/Flamethrower
  • Steelix: Dragon Tail + Crunch/Earthquake

Bastiodon, Altaria, Lucario, and Lapras should be the biggest ones on your radar. You’ll see scorecards for each Pokemon below so you can quickly see their matchups against the above. Here's a key for reading the scorecards:

Win: This Pokemon wins decisively in most scenarios. It would take a big HP or energy lead to flip this matchup. This Pokemon can safely switch and win.
Close Win: This Pokemon is favored, but the matchup can flip with a small HP or energy lead. This Pokemon may not be able to safely switch and win.
Tie: Neither Pokemon is favored. This matchup can flip depending on HP or energy lead, Charged Move priority, or IV's.
Close Loss: This Pokemon is at a disadvantage, but the matchup can flip with a small HP or energy lead.
Loss: This Pokemon loses decisively in most scenarios. It would take a big HP or energy lead to flip this matchup.

These scorecards were put together by manually reviewing the matchups, examining things like HP remaining, the impact of energy advantage, and how much shield baiting affected the outcome. They're there to give a high-level overview but you can click through to individual simulations to see for yourself!

Song of Ice

Ice Pokemon will struggle in this tournament with their weaknesses to Rock, Fire, Fighting, and Steel. However, they have a few key targets: Altaria and Flygon are both doubly weak to Ice, and Dragonair also has an exploitable Ice weakness. The best Ice Pokemon here will be ones with strong secondary moves to hit the rest of the cup hard, and dual typing that mitigates some of their weaknesses. They’re vulnerable to the core of this cup, so if you use them, maneuver them carefully to ensure they find their best matchups.

Lapras

Type: IceWater
Moveset: Water Gun + Surf/Ice Beam, Dragon Pulse, or Blizzard
Sources: Wild, Field Research (Win 5 Gym Battles)
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Altaria, Steelix, Melmetal

Lapras's Scorecard
Altaria

This Tempest star would be at the center of the Kingdom Cup if Lucario and Bastiodon didn’t snatch the spotlight. Its weaknesses are offset by incredible bulk and a great moveset. Here you’ll want Water attacks to hit Fire, Rock, and Ground types with rapid damage. The legacy move Ice Beam is ideal for a secondary attack; legacy Dragon Pulse can hit a ton of stuff hard including other Lapras, and if all else fails, Blizzard works with some shield baiting. Short on Stardust? Lapras can still do well with just Water Gun + Surf. (You’ll struggle against Altaria and Dragonair, but if you delay your Surf attacks, you can still give them a fright.)

If you have an Ice Shard Lapras from Tempest, it can still be useful here, but it’ll lose harder to both Lucario and Bastiodon. It's geared for an anti-Dragon role, so surround it with a team that can handle the Fire and Steel types it can't.

Lapras is an extremely well-rounded Pokemon that only fears a few things, namely Lucario, Bronzong, and Kingdra. It can fit anywhere on your team, and even on your bench it’s a Pokemon your opponent must work around. Lapras is a potent lead with its many great matchups, and one of the few great offensive switches in this cup for the same reason. (Switching first allows your opponent to switch in something that beats you, but Lapras's matchups are so positive across the board that Lucario is the only genuine option. Your Steelix or Melmetal will greatly appreciate the help getting Lucario out of the way!)

Froslass

Type: IceGhost
Moveset: Powder Snow + Avalanche/Shadow Ball
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 50k Stardust
Pair With: Lapras, Dragonair, Flygon, Steelix

Froslass's Scorecard

Froslass is eligible for her third dance in a row, so if you have one from Twilight or Tempest, she has an open invitation to the (shadow) ball. She’s up to her usual fast-energy, high-damage antics in Kingdom Cup, too. Her Ghost typing gives her a key resistance to Fighting-type moves, which lets her counter Blaziken and check Lucario if she has an energy lead (but watch out for Shadow Ball). She’s also a fierce pick against the dragons that roam the land. If she seems irresistable, that's because Shadow Ball is virtually unresisted in this cup and is essential for her success here. It can hit almost any target for high damage or force a shield.

Froslass needs a keen eye for the exit, because big targets like Bastiodon and Lapras who resist her Ice attacks will expose just how frail she is. Steelix is also a threat with its super effective Crunch. Pair her with Pokemon who can generate shield pressure to create the closing scenarios she wants, and who cover her weaknesses.

How should Froslass be played? She’s at her A-game as a powerful closer. Keep her at a safe distance so you can sweep her problem matchups out of the way before she does her thing. She’s frail, so take extra care if you decide to switch her in.

Alolan Ninetales

Type: IceFairy
Moveset: Powder Snow + Ice Beam/Psyshock
Sources: 7km Eggs
Extra Move Cost: 50k Stardust
Pair With: Blaziken, Steelix, Empoleon, Flygon, Altaria

Alolan Ninetale's Scorecard

Alolan Ninetales’ claim to fame is a double Dragon resistance that makes it the hardest Altaria counter around. It can make do against the dragons without Psyshock, but Psyshock gives it extra flexibility to maneuver around shields or deal a finishing blow.

Our Alolan Fairy isn’t a failure outside its Dragon matchups, either. It has generally positive matchups against Steelix and Blaziken, resisting their Fighting, Dragon, and Dark moves. However, it’s vulnerable to Lucario, Bastiodon, and Lapras. Yikes! You won’t want to lead with this one (unless you’re super duper sure about your opponent’s picks). It’s also not a Pokemon you’ll want to switch to offensively since your opponent will be bound to have something that can beat it hard. Instead, keep it in back as a revenge killer, or try and lure out the Dragons so you can make a defensive switch. It pairs extremely well with Blaziken, who can hurt the big three that Ninetales loses to, and can potentially draw out Altaria, Dragonair, or Flygon for easy pickings.

Abomasnow

Type: IceGrass
Moveset: Razor Leaf + Outrage/Blizzard
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 50k Stardust
Pair With: Melmetal, Steelix, Alolan Marowak, Altaria, a good luck charm

Abomasnow's Scorecard

Lapras fears very few things, but this boreal behemoth is one of them. Razor Leaf tears through Lapras and other Pokemon like Flygon and Kingdra. Its energy gain is glacially slow, though. It doesn't need two Charged Moves, and in fact, it barely needs one. Best case scenario, you’ll have a hard-hitting Outrage prepped for the next thing that comes in (like Altaria).

Abomasnow is a highly risky pick this time because there are more punches and fires being thrown around. Any matchup it isn’t meant for, it’s going to lose hard and give your opponent the ability to build up a dangerous energy lead. It’s an option if you lack answers to Lapras, but take extra care using it on your roster. Its best use may be a scare tactic to ward opposing Lapras from the field.

...And Fire

A few Fire-type Pokemon stand out above the fray, and some not even for their fiery abilities. The Pokemon below have to contend with Rock, Ground, and Water-type attacks that threaten to wipe them off the board, not to mention all the scary Dragons. But their strengths give them a vital role in the Kingdom Cup.

Charizard

Type: FireFlying
Moveset: Fire Spin + Blast Burn/Dragon Claw
Sources: Trade
Extra Move Cost: 10k Stardust
Pair With: Dragonair, Lapras, Steelix, Kingdra

Charizard's Scorecard

Charizard saw its first action in Tempest Cup, but had to tread lightly with all the zappy Lanturns around. In the Kingdom Cup, its main targets are significantly less bulky, and Dragon Claw gets to thrive in a target-rich environment. Charizard’s main job is beating Lucario, and beating it hard. It can and should do so with Fast Moves alone so you’ll have a terrifying Blast Burn ready for whatever comes out next. Like Blaziken, Charizard needs shields to work, so watch out for Shadow Balls from any opposing Lucario.

Blast Burn Charizard is like bringing a fighter jet to a sword fight. It will demand a shield or take a huge chunk of HP from almost anything it hits. Charizard with Dragon Claw alone can still work, but Blast Burn applies tremendous pressure after it’s swooped in on Lucario. With successful shield baiting, Charizard can even take on Lapras in a pinch. If you can’t get your hands on a Blast Burn Charizard, consider another Lucario counter that has broader utility.

Charizard can pressure shields as a lead, but its struggles against likely opponents such as Altaria and Lapras make it better as a defensive pivot. (They say the best defense is a good offense, and Charizard has that in spades.) You can try a Lapras lead to draw out the opponent’s Lucario. Charizard gets blown out of the sky by Bastiodon, so make sure to pack a Bastiodon counter and avoid that matchup at all costs.

Blaziken

Type: FireFighting
Moveset: Counter + Brave Bird/Focus Blast
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 10k Stardust
Pair With: Steelix, Melmetal, Altaria, Flygon

Blaziken's Scorecard

What if I told you there was a Pokemon capable of taking on Lucario, Bastiodon, and sometimes even Lapras? What if I told you it was a chicken?

Blaziken has the distinction of being the only Pokemon besides Lucario who gets to bring Counter to the fight. What does that mean? Extremely high damage output against the top players of the cup. Blaziken is similar to Razor Leaf Abomasnow in the Tempest Cup - it beats its targets through its Fast Move alone, so its longer Charged Moves are for the next Pokemon that switches in. Brave Bird is its quickest option and hits everything that Focus Blast doesn’t. At worst, you’ll force your opponent to burn a shield. And if you manage to maneuver a fully charged Blaziken into a closing situation, it’s nigh unbeatable.

If you’re the only person in the world who has a Stone Edge Blaziken under 1500 CP, don’t you dare use anything else.

As you can see from the scorecard above, Blaziken needs shields to be effective, so make sure to save one for your chicken champion. Blaziken is countered hard by this cup’s squadron of fliers, including Altaria, Charizard, and Skarmory, so look to avoid being locked into those matchups. It also shouldn’t be your sole answer to Bastiodon, Lucario, and Lapras; it can handle any one of them well, but two will be too much for our feathered friend to handle. It’s frail, too, so even switching into positive matchups will be dangerous for it.

A good trick to know for Blaziken: it may perform better when not using Charged Moves at all. If you're going for the win and your opponent has shields, Blaziken doesn't usually have the speed or stamina to break them and deal the final blow. Especially against targets who are weak to Counter, just keep Countering away and race for that finish line!

Alolan Marowak

Type: FireGhost
Moveset: Hex + Shadow Ball/Bone Club
Sources: Tier 4 Raids
Extra Move Cost: 50k Stardust
Pair With: Lapras, Dragonair, Flygon, Abomasnow

Alolan Marowak's Scorecard

Alolan Marowak is one of the few bulky Fire types, and like Froslass, its Ghost typing gives it valuable resistance to Lucario's and Blaziken’s lethal Fighting moves. Its Ghost moves hit just about everything for neutral damage, and Bone Club gives it a quick coverage option against Lucario, Bastiodon, and Blaziken. Does Rock Smash look appealing to beat Lucario and Bastiodon? Well, sure, but your broader matchups will be worse by hindering your ability to charge Shadow Ball. Consider Blaziken instead if you want to go down the fiery-mon-that-also-throws-punches route (and Blaziken has a mean right hook).

With a combination of power and survivability, Marowak can fit in a lead or closing role. Marowak is also wickedly good with a shield advantage. Thanks to its bulk and good neutral damage, Marowak has many decent matchups across the board. Sometimes you'll wish it was a tiny bit bulkier, though, with close losses against some of the big players. The main things that give it trouble are Bastiodon, Steelix, Flygon, and Lapras, so watch out for those as you twirl your fiery club to glory!

Typhlosion

Type: Fire
Moveset: Shadow Claw + Blast Burn/Solar Beam
Sources: Trade
Extra Move Cost: 10k Stardust
Pair With: Steelix, Flygon, Altaria, Melmetal, Bronzong

Typhlosion's Scorecard

Typhlosion shares stats with Charizard, along with the all-powerful move Blast Burn, but that’s where the similarities end. For starters, Typhlosion has Shadow Claw for extremely high energy gain. This plus Blast Burn makes for a terrifying combination. Typhlosion also has Solar Beam, which will annihilate Lapras and Flygon if unblocked. Typhlosion is best as a closer, where its knockout power helps it skirt around the fact that it has no bulk. It’s okay, Typhlosion, not everyone does. That’s what shields are for, and Typhlosion does tremendously with a shield advantage.

With a Blast Burn that’s a full second faster than Charizard’s, Typhlosion is better equipped to take on Steel-type Pokemon like Steelix, Skarmory, and Bronzong. Without wings like Charizard’s, Typhlosion fully resists Ice, isn’t weak to Melmetal’s Electric attacks, and doesn’t get outright annihilated by Bastiodon - well, as much.

Now comes the part where Typhlosion plugs its ears. Unfortunately, the lack of wings is also a hindrance. Typhlosion doesn’t resist crucial Fighting attacks like Charizard does, and it takes the full force of Ground-type attacks. These become glaring when your opponent still has shields to draw Typhlosion into extended fights. Keep Typhlosion close to your chest and do your best to put in a place where it can succeed.

There Be Dragons

Dragons are renowned for their offensive prowess and resistances to common types. Most of them come spewing Dragon Breath, one of the strongest Fast Moves in the game, and the top ones here have great Charged Moves as well. If you want to succeed in the Kingdom Cup, add one of these to your hoard. And by one of these, I mean Altaria, but there are other options to entertain if you want to spice things up.

Altaria

Type: DragonFlying
Moveset: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
Sources: Wild, 2km Eggs
Extra Move Cost: 10k Stardust
Pair With: Blaziken, Lapras, Steelix, Empoleon

Altaria's Scorecard

So that right there is why you pick Altaria.

Everywhere Altaria is allowed, it strives to be the center of attention. Even a double-Ice weakness can’t slow it down. It has bulk, great offensive typing, and excellent moves to boot. It’s not all Cloud Nine for this fluffy fellow, though, because Bastiodon, Steelix, Melmetal, and other Steel types are here in force to knock it down. It even falls to Lucario if it doesn’t shield carefully. Still, Altaria is a powerhouse and can crush teams that fail to answer it.

Dragon Breath + Sky Attack is your bread and butter. Dragon Pulse isn’t necessary here, but gives you a late-game hammer against other dragons swapping in and can be the decisive blow in mirror matches against other Altaria.

Altaria is a popular lead choice, so watch out for opposing Bastiodon or Steelix. Its best matchups are against the frail Fire types it resists, like Blaziken and Charizard, and it can bring any other dragon down with it. Just about everything with Steel typing will give it trouble though, especially Bastiodon, so look out for those as you consider Altaria for your lineup. On the other side, Altaria is a key Pokemon you’ll want to be able to challenge sans Bastiodon.

Do your Lucario fights look iffy? Altaria can check Lucario consistently with smart shield play. The trick is to never block the first attack. Altaria is bulky enough that it can take a Shadow Ball and keep on trucking. You might even catch them baiting shields with Power-Up Punch! If you let the first attack connect, you are in a better position to protect yourself from later attacks and bring down Lucario. It's still an extremely close fight, so it's one that will keep you clenching your teeth!

Dragonair

Type: Dragon
Moveset: Dragon Breath + Aqua Tail/Dragon Pulse
Sources: Wild, 10km Eggs, Field Research (Catch a Dragon-Type)
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Steelix, Blaziken, Charizard, Altaria, Alolan Marowak

Dragonair's Scorecard

Dragonite should be left in its lair for the Kingdom Cup, but its graceful pre-evolution is here to make some waves! Dragonair gets to pair Dragon Breath with Aqua Tail to rain blows on the opponent. Dragonair especially appreciates the Water attack for hitting Steel types like Bastiodon who can put up a wall against other dragons.

Dragon Pulse is a very expensive addition that might not be worth the cost. However, it does add potency to Dragonair’s shield breaking power. Without the threat of Dragon Pulse, Pokemon like Altaria and Lapras have no reason to throw up their shields. (Worst comes to worst, you can bluff having Dragon Pulse by delaying your Aqua Tail.) Wrap is an interesting alternative that gives you a faster, more reliable neutral damage option against targets who resist Aqua Tail. It also removes shield baiting from the equation for these fights, so choose Wrap if you want to be less dependent on tricking your opponent to come out ahead.

Did I just convince myself to run Wrap?

Dragonair rarely goes down without a fight. However, its frailness does spell a few problems. In particular, it may struggle to switch in and beat the things you expect it to. Make sure to get your practice in so you get a feel for what Dragonair can and can't do.

Flygon

Type: DragonGround
Moveset: Mud Shot + Dragon Claw/Earthquake
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Melmetal, Bronzong, Lairon, Froslass

Flygon's Scorecard

Flygon separates itself from its kin with a wicked fast moveset and Ground attacks that target the Kingdom Cup’s biggest (and stompiest) players. This little guy can drag Bastiodon, Melmetal, and Steelix beneath the dunes. Powered by Mud Shot’s high energy gain, Dragon Claw has great shield breaking potential while Earthquake delivers the killing blow. Stone Edge/Earthquake is a possible closing set, but you’ll likely want Flygon’s talents early and often.

If you’re going to pay a pretty penny for any Pokemon’s second Charged Move, Flygon is a major candidate. The combination of Dragon Claw and Earthquake makes for valuable speed and power. Flygon is at its best when it can bait shields with Dragon Claw, and then follow up with the hard-hitting Earthquake. However, it is pretty dependent on shield baiting for success especially against Steelix, so bring your A-game to your mind games!

How should you play Flygon? It's safe as a defensive switch so it can avoid its more troublesome matchups, like Altaria, Charizard, and Lapras. You may be tempted to lead with it for its shield pressure, but Flygon doesn't have the bulk to power through neutral matchups like other potential leads such as Altaria, Lapras, and Marowak. Be aware that Mud Shot has very low damage and all of Flygon's damage output lies in its Charged Moves, so it will struggle to knock out weakened opponents quickly or farm energy from positive matchups.

Kingdra

Type: DragonWater
Moveset: Dragon Breath + Outrage/Hydro Pump
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Steelix, Charizard, Lapras

Kingdra's Scorecard
(Dragon Breath)
Kingdra's Scorecard
(Waterfall)

Kingdra boasts double Fire resistance and neutral damage to Ice thanks to its unique typing. Like the other dragons, it’s well equipped to take on the cup’s Fire types. Unlike them, it can check Lapras. Waterfall is an option that turns Kingdra’s Fire-type matchups into resounding victories and greatly improves its chances against Steelix, Lucario, and Bastiodon. However, it flips Kingdra’s Dragon matchups into hard losses and allows Altaria, Dragonair, and other Kingdra to build up energy uncontested.

Kingdra’s slower attacks gear it for more of a closer role, though it fits somewhere awkwardly in the middle. Kingdra’s best case scenario is mopping up the opponent’s second-to-last Pokemon so it can enter the final fight with an energy lead. Some clever switching early game can also set up Kingdra in a similar scenario with energy already built. If you're using Dragon Breath, Hydro Pump is essential for closing out against Steel types like Bastiodon or Steelix, who resist its Dragon attacks.

Shelgon

Type: Dragon
Moveset: Dragon Breath + Twister/Flamethrower
Sources: Wild, 10k Eggs, Tier 1 Raids
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Steelix, Bronzong, Blaziken

Shelgon's Scorecard

Where Dragonair gets a fancy Water move, Shelgon brings the heat! It deals reliable damage with Dragon Breath, and while it can't take Steel types head on, Flamethrower can at least threaten them. It’s a lofty 75k Stardust, though, so if you have to run a single move on Shelgon, I would recommend Twister. It feels odd recommending a move that’s so weak on paper, but Shelgon doesn’t have bulk like Altaria does to win extended fights, and that 45-energy option gives it a knockout punch against Flygon, Kingdra, and Dragonair.

If you can maneuver Shelgon into a position with an energy advantage, Dragon Pulse could be worth considering over Twister in closing scenarios; Shelgon struggles to reach Dragon Pulse most times, so if you can accomplish this consistently, Dragon Pulse may be right for you.

Overall, Shelgon has similar matchups to Altaria but performs worse in almost every respect. One thing it can do that Altaria can't is goad shields against the Bastiodons and Steelix's of the world, but there are other Pokemon who can do that (and even beat them).

Steel Yourself

Where there are dragons, there are dragon slayers. An army of Steel-type Pokemon is here to brandish their swords and shields. There’s a wide variety of options below and each of them has advantages, disadvantages, and roles you’ll want to consider as you build your team.

Steelix

Type: SteelGround
Moveset: Dragon Tail + Crunch/Earthquake
Sources: Wild, Field Research (Make 3 Great Throws in a row)
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Altaria, Charizard, Lapras, Dragonair, Bronzong

Steelix's Scorecard

This grizzled veteran of the Boulder and Tempest Cups is back and ready for more anti-air action. Dragon Tail is even more valuable here, hitting the numerous Dragon options for super effective damage while Steelix resists Dragon Breath in return. Crunch is used for baiting shields and for neutral damage against the fliers who resist Earthquake. Earthquake, meanwhile, punishes Steel types like Bastiodon who fail to block it. Steelix’s second move has a steep cost, though, so if you have to run only one move, consider whether you want your Steelix to be anti-Dragon or anti-Steel.

Steelix is much more effective than its scorecard might indicate. Not pictured are its great matchups against flex picks like Alolan Marowak, Bronzong, and Dragonair. It also has great matchup synergy with multiple Pokemon, making it a great fit for any roster. The things that beat it are things your opponent won't want locked into a poor matchup, so Steelix can be a dangerous lead to draw out those targets.

A key component of playing Steelix is playing mind games with Crunch and Earthquake. Build up enough energy for Earthquake, and then make your opponent guess whether you’re actually using Earthquake or baiting their shields with a low-energy Crunch. Mix this up as your opponent gains experience against you; if you bait shields with Crunch in the first round, try hitting them with Earthquake in the second and see if they’ll let it through unblocked.

Steelix has previously enjoyed being a relatively safe choice and switch given its huge number of resistances, solid defenses, and few counters. It has a lot more to be wary of in the Kingdom Cup, though. Where Lapras preferred Ice-type attacks in Tempest, it’ll likely be packing Water Gun here. And that’s to say nothing of the Fighting-type Pokemon that Steelix has to contend with! If Steelix is your only answer to the Dragons, it may be better kept in reserve.

Melmetal

Type: Steel
Moveset: Thundershock + Rock Slide/Flash Cannon or Thunderbolt
Sources: Mystery Box (obtained from Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu)
Extra Move Cost: 100k Stardust
Pair With: Charizard, Altaria, Blaziken, Alolan Marowak

Melmetal's Scorecard

If you have a Melmetal from Boulder Cup, it could be worth bringing back for Kingdom. It’s one of the few Pokemon that can safely switch into Altaria, and puts up a hard fight against most of the other dragons. With Thundershock’s fast energy gain, Melmetal is also as flexible is its liquidy body. Rock Slide is the vital move for beating Altaria and Charizard. Flash Cannon provides a hard-hitting closing move that specifically targets Bastiodon, while Thunderbolt gives it a neutral damage option against other Steel types like Bronzong and opposing Melmetal.

Melmetal is the closest thing to a Bastiodon replacement because it can check Altaria, Skarmory, and Charizard. That’s no easy task! Similar to Bastiodon, it crumples to Fighting- and Ground-type moves. Ground especially threatens Melmetal because it resists Melmetal’s main attacks. If you’re looking at Melmetal and haven’t invested in one previously, consider it carefully since the investment is such a significant one! It may be more efficient to answer Altaria and Charizard with separate Pokemon that bring additional utility, like Steelix, Lapras, or Froslass.

Bronzong

Type: SteelPsychic
Moveset: Confusion + Heavy Slam/Flash Cannon
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 50k Stardust
Pair With: Lapras, Flygon, Steelix, Typhlosion

Bronzong's Scorecard

The move Confusion terrorized the Twilight Cup, and Bronzong is here for a fashionably late encore. It wraps a number of interesting matchups in a steely package. Bronzong’s Psychic typing means it doesn’t take super effective damage from Fighting-type attacks that pummel the other Steel Pokemon. Confusion lays the hurt on Blaziken in particular, while Bronzong takes on on all the dragons except Flygon. Heavy Slam is the preferred move for most situations while Flash Cannon gives it closing power. Both aren't necesary but do help maximize Bronzong's potential.

On the surface, Bronzong appears unassuming, and metal, but it's one of the more nuanced Pokemon in the cup. Specifically, it has favorable or close matchups against both Lapras and Lucario. These are incredibly close fights and may come down to IV's. For example, a Bronzong with a high Attack stat (near 113) reaches a breakpoint where Confusion deals more damage to Lucario and results in a draw. However, this same Bronzong now drops the Lapras fight to a tie without that tiny bit extra bulk.

Real battles will be much more messy, so regardless, Bronzong's presence will help protect your team from these two. On the flip side, Bronzong struggles most against other Steel types who resist its attacks. Confusion and lack of coverage options make Bronzong slow and potentially predictable. Back Bronzong up with anti-Steel support like Steelix or Flygon. Lapras is always an appreciated partner, too.

Empoleon

Type: SteelWater
Moveset: Waterfall + Flash Cannon/Hydro Pump or Blizzard
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 10k Stardust
Pair With: Altaria, Melmetal, Alolan Ninetales

Empoleon's Scorecard

“March of the Penguins” would certainly be more terrifying if the penguins involved were 5’7” and made of steel. Empoleon waddles to war with the hard-hitting move Waterfall. It acts as an avian Abomasnow, pummeling Fire and other Steel-type targets with its Fast Move alone. When it enters the next matchup, it has powerful closing moves like Flash Cannon and Blizzard ready to go. Flash Cannon is Empoleon's fastest option, which isn't saying much because Waterfall generates energy as slowly as a Slowpoke.

Hydro Pump may seem redundant with Waterfall, but if Empoleon finds itself closing with an energy lead (either from the previous fight or switching in with energy built), Hydro Pump is essential against targets like Steelix, Bastiodon, Lucario, Bronzong, and Alolan Marowak. However, a case can be made for Blizzard to specifically hit Altaria. The problem with Flash Cannon and Blizzard as a pairing is there many targets who resist both. Hydro Pump plus Blizzard is another possibility at the cost of the tiny bit of speed our emperor penguin has.

Empoleon claims victories over important Pokemon like Bastiodon, Charizard, and Steelix. The key to these fights is to use Waterfall, and Waterfall only if shields are still in play. Waterfall can’t be blocked, and your Charged Moves are better saved for the next Pokemon to come in.

Anything that resists Waterfall is a problem for Empoleon, which means it has tough matchups against Lapras and all of the Dragon-type Pokemon. It’s best used as a defensive switch or to mop up weakened targets so it can go into closing situations with an energy lead. Empoleon is yet another Pokemon that really needs shields to thrive; its Steel typing helps hide its meager bulk.

Skarmory

Type: SteelFlying
Moveset: Air Slash + Sky Attack/Flash Cannon
Sources: Wild
Extra Move Cost: 75k Stardust
Pair With: Steelix, Lapras, Flygon, Blaziken

Skarmory's Scorecard

And you thought you had seen the last of this flying fortress. There’s lot more to blast it out of the sky this time around, so can’t soar about unchecked. It also has to compete with Charizard and Altaria, who bring more strengths to the table. Still, Skarmory is determined to prove itself in the Kingdom Cup.

Skarmory’s Flying and Steel typing give it favorable matchups against Blaziken and the dragons. Where Altaria has to watch out for incoming Dragon-type attacks, Skarmory can shrug off Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw.

In the Tempest Cup, Skarmory was powerful for its ability to “farm” energy from ubiquitous opponents like Tropius and Abomasnow, which it could take down with Fast Moves alone. This usually spelled victory for the team that could accomplish this, because the subsequent Sky Attacks would devastate whatever switched in next. In the Kingdom Cup, Skarmory can safely farm energy against Blaziken, and against Flygon, Dragonair, and Kingdra if they’re weakened. However, this strategy likely won’t be as formidable in Kingdom as it was in Tempest, since Kingdom is crawling with things that eat Sky Attacks for breakfast. Bastiodon and Melmetal are specially equipped to stop a supercharged Skarmory in its tracks, so watch out for those in the opposing lineup.

Lairon

Type: SteelRock
Moveset: Metal Claw + Rock Slide/Body Slam
Sources: Wild, 2km Eggs
Extra Move Cost: 10k Stardust
Pair With: Altaria, Charizard, Flygon, Blaziken

Lairon's Scorecard

We’re reaching the bottom entries of the Bastiodon look-alike contest, and Lairon can get the job done with some grit and determination. Lairon checks the boxes that a Bastiodon replacement should (beat the fliers and dragons). However, it can’t switch in as freely as other options can, like Melmetal.

While Lairon wins where it should, it loses some big matchups very, very badly. Lucario, Lapras, and Steelix all pound it back into the Pokeball from whence it came, and Bastiodon itself gives it a very hard time. Lairon is an affordable option but you might be better off investing in a well-rounded alternative.

Example Teams

Need some team ideas? Take a look at the example teams below as you build your own roster! Check the scorecards to make sure you cover all of your bases.

Low Budget

  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
  • Lapras: Water Gun + Surf
  • Blaziken: Counter + Brave Bird/Focus Blast
  • Bronzong: Confusion + Heavy Slam
  • Charizard: Fire Spin + Dragon Claw/Overheat
  • Empoleon: Waterfall + Flash Cannon/Hydro Pump

Total Stardust Cost: 40k

This team is focused on savings while checking the boxes to beat the top Pokemon you’ll likely encounter. It also features no legacy moves, so you can put it together from Pokemon found in the wild (Blast Burn would be ideal on Charizard if you have it). Altaria, Lapras, and Blaziken is the core lineup while Bronzong, Charizard, and Empoleon are support players to counter specific Pokemon in your opponent’s lineup; Bronzong targets Blaziken with decent matchups elsewhere, Charizard targets Lucario, and Empoleon can take care of Charizard, Blaziken, Bastiodon, and Steelix.

If you have the option, Steelix can take Empoleon's place to strengthen your matchups against Altaria. If you're comfortable with it, Alolan Marowak could also be right at home in this lineup with positive matchups against Lucario and other Fire types.

You may not have extra moves on all of them, but you can always bluff by delaying your Charged Moves. See if you can get your opponent to burn shields on moves you don’t have before they learn better!

Medium Budget

  • Dragonair: Dragon Breath + Aqua Tail
  • Charizard: Fire Spin + Blast Burn/Dragon Claw
  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
  • Bronzong: Confusion + Heavy Slam
  • Alolan Marowak: Hex + Shadow Ball/Bone Club
  • Steelix: Dragon Tail + Crunch/Earthquake

Total Stardust Cost: 145k

This team’s spread of potential leads will hopefully make it a challenge for opponents to predict you. Charizard and Altaria are your primary Lucario counters while Steelix does work against Bastiodon. Bronzong and Alolan Marowak are wildcards that have generally positive matchups and pair well with other members of your team.

Dragonair can (and probably should) be swapped for Lapras to form a bulkier core. This team is vulnerable to Bastiodon and Lapras overall, so Blaziken in place of Alolan Marowak could work as well.

High Budget

  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
  • Lapras: Water Gun + Surf/Ice Beam
  • Blaziken: Counter + Brave Bird/Focus Blast
  • Charizard: Fire Spin + Blast Burn/Dragon Claw
  • Bronzong: Confusion + Heavy Slam/Flash Cannon
  • Steelix: Dragon Tail + Crunch/Earthquake

Total Stardust Cost: 230k

This team has all the bells and whistles. You have multiple options against all of the core Pokemon, with strong lead choices in Altaria, Lapras, and Steelix. This should make it challenging for your opponent to predict you and build a safe lineup.

Veteran Squad

  • Lapras: Ice Shard + Surf/Ice Beam
  • Altaria: Dragon Breath + Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse
  • Charizard: Fire Spin + Blast Burn/Dragon Claw
  • Melmetal: Thunder Shock + Rock Slide/Flash Cannon
  • Flygon: Mud Shot + Dragon Claw/Earthquake
  • Froslass: Powder Snow + Avalanche/Shadow Ball

This team exclusively uses Pokemon from previous cups you might have on hand. Sealeo with Water Gun + Water Pulse/Body Slam can stand in for Lapras with a few caveats. Namely, Water Pulse is worse than Surf and Sealeo relies on shield baiting with Body Slam in some cases. Skarmory is another veteran option if you don't have Blast Burn Charizard.

These veterans will have a tough time against Lapras in particular. A Kingdra with Dragon Breath + Outrage could tackle that challenge. Blaziken could also provide much-needed Fighting power against Lucario, Bastiodon, and Lapras.

Closing Thoughts

Shields are down for this section, so let's cut to the chase! Even if you don't have the top Pokemon, you can still succeed in PvP. What makes a champion isn't their Pokemon, but how they use them. Matchup knowledge and practice are the keys to victory! Keep the scorecards above handy and grab a friend to get your Kingdom Cup game on.

Worried you might have a small chance to win a tournament? It can be daunting, and that's okay. You'll be learning by diving off the deep end, and that's exactly what a tournament is for. No one starts out being the very best; it's all about the journey of gaining experience, improving your game, and growing along the way. Even when you lose, it's an opportunity to learn what you can do better. And who knows, you might even surprise yourself!

And that's a wrap! Hopefully the article and the scorecards help you prepare for the battles ahead! Thanks to The Silph Road for Pokemon source information, and shout out to the Pokemon GO PvP Discord for all of their valuable discussion and analysis.