Pokemon Go Building an Effective Great League Team for PvP

by Shark_Eating_Bacon

Hello all!  With the recent arrival of Go Battle League and the beginning of the pre-season being Great League, I threw together a guide on how to build a cheap but effective team of six to handle almost any threat Great League can throw at you!  I’m an avid PvPer, and I would love to see the PvP scene grow!  Hopefully, some of the Trainers out there will find this helpful in taking their first tentative steps into the world of Pokémon Go PvP!

The Pokémon I’m going to be highlighting will have the following points in common:

  • All of these Pokémon can be caught in the wild at the appropriate level.  Some may need to be caught with a weather boost, but nothing will need to be maxed out.
  • All of these Pokémon will only require 10,000 dust and 25 candy for their 2nd moves.  No baby discounts allowed!
  • All of these Pokémon have the necessary moves in their current move pool.  None will feature legacy/Community Day moves.
  • No regionals will be considered.

The idea here is that these suggestions should be (relatively) accessible to everybody.  Before we begin, there is one last point I would like to make: DO NOT GET STUCK ON IVs!  Their importance is massively overblown, and the vast majority of the time the IVs are not going to make a difference.  It is far more important to first use the right Pokémon, the moves, and the right strategy.  And most of the time, additional dust, candy and TM investment is not worth the slightly better performance that IVs can potentially bring.  So without further ado, let’s get started!  I will begin with my recommended six, and then present alternatives in the section below.

ALTARIA – Dragon Breath/Sky Attack/Dragon Pulse

Note: If the 400 candy evolution cost is too steep, don’t worry! There are other easier to obtain Flying type alternatives in the section below.

Altaria is an absolute monster in Great League.  Great moves, great typing, and great bulk make Altaria a staple in Great League.  Unless it’s up against a Fairy, Steel, or Ice type, there’s a good chance Altaria is going to win.  If you are especially resource constrained, you can even roll with just Dragon Breath and Sky Attack, since you should be spamming those two most of the time anyway.  Dragon Pulse is mostly for mirror matches.

WIGGLYTUFF – Charm/Ice Beam/Play Rough

When you are playing Great League PvP, you need to expect to face Altaria.  And Wigglytuff is one of the most effective and cheap hard counters available.  Its high-powered Charm will rip through not only Altaria, but just about anything that isn’t a Poison, Steel, or Fire type.  Once again, if you are resource constrained, you can probably get by just on Charm and Ice Beam.

LAIRON – Metal Claw/Body Slam/Rock Slide

Steel is a great type in PvP.  It has many useful resistances, and the Pokémon with Steel typing tend to be nice and bulky.  Lairon is one of the cheaper Steel type options out there, and hard counters Wigglytuff and can go toe-to-toe with Altaria.  Additionally, it has fantastic Charge moves, which are powered by a…serviceable fast move.  Full disclosure, Lairon isn’t the best Steel type available in Great League, but it is very affordable and more than capable of doing what you need it to do.  Not much else can handle Charm and Flying types for this price. Just keep it far away from Ground and Fighting types.

WHISCASH – Mud Shot/Mud Bomb/Blizzard

“Mud boys” are extremely popular in Great League, as they tend to have fantastic moves, typing, and stats.  Whiscash here is a fantastic example and has led many players to success in Great League.  It can fire Mud Bombs extremely fast and can leave unprepared opponents scrambling.  It has a fantastic coverage move in Blizzard, which lets it heavily dent (and sometimes one-shot!) many of its would-be counters, the Flying and Grass types.  Keep it away from Grass types though, as they absolutely obliterate Whiscash.

IVYSAUR – Vine Whip OR Razor Leaf /Power Whip/Sludge Bomb

While it’s not quite as potent as a Venusaur with its Community Day move, Ivysaur is still a Pokémon who has been blessed with excellent Fast and Charged attacks.  Vine Whip lets it fire off its powerful Charge moves quickly, making Ivysaur a potent threat.  Its typing, combined with its moves let it handle Water, Ground, and even other Grass types while acting as a check to Charm users.  And while I personally think that the Vine Whip set is better on Ivysaur, I would be remiss to not mention that you can make Ivysaur a Razor Leaf user.  There is something to be said for all the unblockable Fast move damage Razor Leaf puts out.  And if you are using Razor Leaf, then Ivysaur really only needs Sludge Bomb as its Charge attack.

BEEDRILL – Poison Jab/X-Scissor/Sludge Bomb

Finally, it’s time to put all those hundreds of Weedle catches to use!  Beedrill is a surprisingly effective Pokémon in Great League, acting as an answer to Grass types and Charm users.  It also puts out a lot of neutral damage, so it’s going to cause some pain on just about everything that doesn’t resist Poison and Bug Type damage.

And there you have it!  Six effective yet affordable Pokémon for Great League PvP!  With these six built, you should be able to handle almost any threat Great League can throw at you.  Wait, what’s that?  You mean you don’t have those six precise Pokémon?  Or maybe you want a harder counter to a specific threat you’ve come across?  Well, don’t you fret, cause there are plenty of…


Here are more viable Pokémon that fit in the same criteria as the above six.  Keep in mind that just because they are in the “Alternatives” section does NOT mean they are inferior choices.  Many players (myself included) will often swap in and use any number of these effective beasts onto our teams to handle specific threats that may be causing problems.

NOCTOWL – Wing Attack/Sky Attack/Psychic

Remember all those Hoothoot you’ve caught?  Turns out that their evolution is actually really, really good in Great League.  Don’t be fooled by how common it is, Noctowl is more than capable of wiping out unprepared opponents.  It does lose the head to head against Altaria, but it stands up better to Ice type attacks.  For example, it can take a Blizzard from Whiscash and still keep fighting, while Altaria immediately crumples.  If you feel like your team needs a Flying type (or even an extra Flying type, you can run it and Altaria on the same team!), be sure to give Noctowl a good long look.

SKARMORY – Air Slash/Sky Attack/Flash Cannon

I missed this one the first time around, but Skarmory is another absolutely fantastic choice in Great League. It dominates Charm users, Grass types, Poison types, and other Flying types. In fact, Skarmory beats most things that go against it unless it is at an obvious type disadvantage. But wait, Skarmory’s second move is 75,000 dust and 75 candy! How in the world is this cheap? Simple, Skarmory doesn’t really need Flash Cannon. Skarmory does what you need it to do with just Air Slash and Sky Attack. Big thanks to Timhop3p for reminding me of this one!!!

MARSHTOMP – Mud Shot/Mud Bomb/Surf

Poor Marshtomp is often overlooked in favor of its big brother Swampert (who is another fantastic choice if you have one with Community Day exclusive Hydro Cannon) and older cousin Whiscash (not to mention the rest of the Mud Boys), but I personally think that Marshtomp is one of the most overlooked and underrated Pokémon in Great League.  It has a fantastic set of moves that let it put out Ground and Water type damage extremely fast, something that no other Mud Boy is able to do.  Marshtomp is very easy to use, as it just fires off whichever Charge attack is more effective in its current situation.  Surf is a fantastic move and should be Marshtomp’s primary attack unless Ground type damage would be more effective.  It is completely helpless against Altaria and Grass types though, so be sure to keep Marshtomp away from them!

GOLBAT – Wing Attack/Poison Fang/Shadow Ball

Once again, don’t be fooled by how common this thing is!  Golbat is surprisingly bulky, and has no problem handing Grass, Fighting, Bug, and Fairy types their own rear ends.  Wing Attack and Poison Fang make a spammy, if not particularly powerful combination.  But that’s just to waste your opponent’s shields so that you can hit the with a powerful and often unresisted Shadow Ball.  If you have a Shadow Zubat from Team Rocket Go Battles, it shouldn’t be very expensive to make one of these dangerous bats.

SCEPTILE – Fury Cutter/Leaf Blade/Dragon Claw OR Aerial Ace

Sceptile is glassier than most Grass types; however, it has something up its sleeve that most other Grass types don’t: the fastest Leaf Blade in the game (well, it’s tied with Shiftry).  Sceptile is the rare starter that is every bit as viable without its Community Day move.  Leaf Blade is insanely powerful; it’s right up there with Community Day moves as far as its stats go.  The second move is up to you.  What kind of coverage would you prefer?  Dragon Claw won’t let you beat Altaria, but it sure will hurt.  In addition, most of the time, your opponents answer to a grass type won’t resist Dragon attacks, meaning that Sceptile will almost always have an option available.  If you choose to go for Aerial Ace, then Sceptile becomes a Grass type that beats other Grass types.  Either option is very viable.

RAICHU – Thundershock/Brick Break/Wild Charge

Spam is the word of the day with the Kanto version of Raichu.  Break your opponents shields with Brick Break and then blast them with a powerful Wild Charge.  Raichu is glassier than most of the Pokémon on this list, but that just means that its moves hit that much harder.  Wild Charge takes more than half of a Venusaur’s health, even though Venusaur resists Electric attacks!  As an Electric type it handles Flying types better than most things we’ve covered so far, especially the very dangerous Skarmory. Keep in mind that Raichu can learn Charm, but that tends be less effective on Raichu due to its lack of bulk.

ALOLAN RAICHU – Thundershock/Thunder Punch/Grass Knot

The Alolan variant functions a lot like its Kanto counterpart: spamming powerful moves in order to overwhelm your opponent.  However, there is a twist: this Raichu has Grass type coverage!  Grass Knot will really hurt any unsuspecting Ground Type while still retaining that ability smack Water types hard.  Alolan Raichu can also learn Wild Charge, and it is just as potent as Kanto Raichu’s.

AGGRON – Smack Down/Heavy Slam/Stone Edge

Lairon’s big brother is a little less bulky, while simultaneously being slower.  However, Smack Down is a powerful move that lets Aggron handle Flying types better than Lairon.  It can be a little clunky to use, but absolutely devastating when you line it up against the correct opponent.  Just make sure to avoid Ground, Fighting, and Water types.

LINOONE – Shadow Claw/Grass Knot/Thunder

Filling in as more of a generalist, Linoone possesses the mighty Shadow Claw, one of the best fast moves in the game.  It uses its powerful Fast attack to launch its potent charge moves in combination that is very difficult for any single Pokémon to resist.  Linoone will rarely be the best option for any given situation, but it is flexible.  If you have a strange hole in your team or you need a generalist, check to see if you have any weather boosted Zigzagoon.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

BIBAREL – Water Gun/Surf/Hyper Fang

Bibarel is another Pokémon that you probably haven’t thought about, but is worth considering.  Water and Normal isn’t the best type combination, but Bibarel is gifted with a good Fast attack and great Charge attacks.  Water Gun and Surf provide consistent water type damage at a steady rate.  And Bibarel also has Hyper Fang for coverage against the Grass, Dragon, or opposing Water type that your opponent brings in to stop Bibarel.  I personally wouldn’t consider Bibarel top-tier in open Great League, but you could do far worse.  Once again, if you have a weather boosted Bidoof in your box, Bibarel is worth some consideration.

ALOLAN RATICATE – Quick Attack/Crunch/Hyper Fang

The only Dark type on this list.  If you have an opponent that loves to use Psychic type attacks like the hard-hitting Confusion, then Alolan Raticate is your budget-friendly answer.  Furthermore, its Normal and Dark typing gives it a TRIPLE resistance to ghost attacks!  There are two downsides though.  First, it completely melts against Fighting type attacks.  And second, it is overshadowed by the incredibly powerful Last Resort Umbreon.  Don’t be put off by those two nuances though!  Alolan Raticate is a solid choice, putting out solid damage and doing exactly what you want your Dark type Pokémon to do.

~Final Remarks~

That’s all for now!  Hopefully, this gives you a place to start.  This is by no means a comprehensive list.  There are plenty of excellent Pokémon that weren’t listed because they didn’t quite fit our limited criteria.  Pokémon that you can get a baby discount with (like Mantine, Lucario, and Hitmontop), Pokémon with legacy move sets (like Charizard, Meganium, and Swampert), or simply whose second move costs more than 10,000 stardust (too many to mention) are also excellent and sometimes superior choices.  In fact, some of the Pokémon I listed can be used with move sets other than what I listed! This write-up is just intended as a starting point with very affordable options for an effective team.

Let me know what you all think!  Did I make any mistakes?  Do you disagree with my recommendations?  Did I miss anything that you think is super important? Would you like to see another write-up on other Pokémon that I didn’t cover (like starters that need their community day moves)?  Thank you for reading!

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