Much like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pokémon GO Battle League Season 6 has been split into two parts for reasons that we can only speculate about. However now Part 2 is upon us, Niantic has made some big changes to moves which could shake up the second half of the season.
Some moves have had their damage and energy rebalanced (see below for the full list), and some Pokémon now have access to moves they couldn’t before. There are some pretty major changes which could lead to large meta shifts. Some of the best Pokémon in Pokémon GO have been impacted, and their usage could fall significantly after the rebalance.
Niantic also released the full league list for Season 6 part two, including the unknown quantity known only as the Mystery Cup and the return of fan-favourite Kanto Cup. The changes aren’t as drastic as those that preceded Season 6, but some meta teams could be completely unviable now, with popular picks like Azumarill and Shadow Victreebel suffering big nerfs.
The list of changes to moves is as follows:
- Ember – increased damage
- Karate Chop – increased energy gain
- Bubble – decreased damage
- Razor Leaf – decreased damage
- Crabhammer – increased damage
- Sky Attack – decreased damage
- Rock Slide – decreased damage
- Shadow Bone – decreased damage
Most of these balance changes are directly aimed at staple meta Pokémon. Azumarill will suffer from the change to Bubble, as will Shadow Victreebel from Razor Leaf. These two Pokémon seem the worst affected, as Azumarill now loses key matchups against Drifblim and Registeel when armed with Hydro Pump and Ice Beam. When Ice Beam is replaced by Play Rough, Azumarill now loses against Lapras, Munchlax and Whiscash.
Pokémon GO analysis master ‘JRESeawolf’ also notes that Shadow Victreebel now loses against Melmetal and Scrafty. Without Charge Moves, it also loses to Umbreon, Medicham, Defence-form Deoxys, and Galarian Stunfisk. Before the nerf, it won all of these matchups.
The change to Sky Attack will affect Skarmory and Altaria, but at this stage it looks relatively minor.
The Rock Slide nerf seems to be aimed directly at Galarian Stunfisk, but the only matchup it now loses at Great League level is against Venusaur. The nerf has next-to-no impact on Defence-form Deoxys at Ultra League level, and Melmetal now loses to Cresselia in both Great League and Ultra League.
Fire-types and Fighting-types will be thankful for the buffs to their formerly-weak Fast Moves, and Kingler will appreciate the Crabhammer boost, but it will be unlikely to majorly impact its usage.
While many top-tier Pokémon now lose some matchups which they once won, they should remain strong picks due to their bulk and typing. Clever switches and shield management will mean these Pokémon likely stay near the top of the meta. That being said, Shadow Victreebel is clearly the biggest loser.
Update in progress, some quick highlights:
– Azumarill is still going to be a top player
– Shadow Razor Leaf can still beat Registeel and Fighting types in 2s
– Jellicent looks promising, lots of moveset options
– Fire types still struggle against Gfisk but can win
— PvPoke.com (@pvpoke) January 11, 2021
As well as changes to move power, some Pokémon now have access to new moves, which follow:
- Fire-type Weather Ball – Vulpix and Ninetails
- Ice-type Weather Ball – Alolan Vulpix and Alolan Ninetails
- Water-type Weather Ball – Politoed
- Ice Punch – Primeape
- Ice Beam – Claydol
- Shadow Ball – Claydol
- Tri-Attack – Porygon 2
- Mud Shot – Excadrill
Weather Ball is a handy tech move that costs less energy than these Pokémon’s current STAB options. Politoed especially is emerging as a popular option now it can run STAB Weather Ball instead of – or alongside – Surf.
Ice Punch on Primeape could become a great pick for surprising opponents who might not expect it. Primeape now has a lot of great Charged Move options, though, so you’ll have to pick between Cross Chop and Night Slash to accompany the niche Ice-type attack.
Claydol has picked up some excellent moves in this update, but still doesn’t look very viable, and we feel much the same about Porygon 2 in its current state.
However, Excadrill learning Mud Shot transforms it from a niche raid Pokémon to a genuine PvP contender. Mud Shot gains energy at a scarily fast rate – it’s why Swampert is such a monster in Great League and Ultra League – which could turn the tides for Excadrill’s competitive usage. In Master League or the Master League Premier Cup, Excadrill can now function in the Galarian Stunfisk role due to its great typing and handy coverage moves. The nerf to Rock Slide does harm it slightly, but pairing it with Drill Run will still cause havoc in the competitive scene.
GO Battle League Season 6 part 2 will follow a similar structure to previous seasons:
- The Great League will run from January 11 to January 25
- The Ultra League and its Premier Cup will run from January 25 to February 8
- The Master League, its Premier Cup, Master League Classic, and a to-be-announced special cup will run from February 8 to February 15
- All three leagues and the Ultra League Premier Cup will run from February 15 to February 22
- The Kanto Cup will run from February 22 to March 1. The CP limit for this cup will be 1,500, and only Pokémon with a Pokédex number between 001 and 151 will be allowed. During this period, your rating will be unaffected
- When you reach rank 20, you’ll be guaranteed to encounter Frillish for the first time in Pokémon GO. You’ll have a chance to encounter it at higher ranks also
- At rank 19, you’ll now receive an Elite Charged TM
- You’ll also receive an Elite Fast TM as an end-of-season reward if you reach rank 19
We don’t know Frillish’s moveset yet, or that of its evolution Jellicent. However, its unique Water/Ghost typing could make it a viable pick in GO Battle League – but you’ll need to trade for those favourable IVs.