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Best Elite TM Candidates for PvP

Last updated September 19, 2020

Elite TM's allow you to select a specific move or learn exclusive attacks. You can typically earn them as end-of-season rewards in GO Battle League for reaching Rank 7 or higher, or purchase them in Community Day boxes. These Elite TM's open up new and rare movesets! In this article, we’ll take a look at potential candidates if you're looking to use a precious Elite TM 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, and can't be used to obtain or remember Return.

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

Jump to a section:

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

Groudon

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

Fire Punch is a titanic change for Groudon, giving it a move 25 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. It can also potentially beat Dialga and Togekiss with just Fire Punch, 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).

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: Psycho Cut or Confusion + Grass Knot & Moonblast
Formats: Great League

Great League is rife with Water-type Pokemon like Azumarill and Swampert that form the backbone of many teams. Grass Knot Cresselia can take its amazing bulk and apply super effective pressure against these Pokemon. Head to head, it beats Azumarill, Whiscash, Swampert, and Dewgong. Outside of Grass Knot, it great general matchups.

Grass Knot is typically paired with Moonblast which covers Cresselia from Dark-type counters like Umbreon or Scrafty. 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 protecting it from Dark type counters. Which you choose may depend on your team.

Grass Knot can be used in Ultra League, but Moonblast and Future Sight are generally preferred there.

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 available via Elite TM, but comes at the steep cost of two 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.

One challenge is Dewgong can be difficult to build a team around, especially in GO Battle League. Dewgong is vulnerable to Counter users, Rock Slide from Galarian Stunfisk, Bastiodon, Electric types like Galvantula, and bulky Grass-types like Ferrothorn. One successful example of a Dewgong team is Dewgong/Medicham/Munchlax run by TheAsianMilkMan.

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. This goes for the other Pokemon in this article, but only use Elite TM’s on Dewgong now if you want to win with it now.

Lapras

Moveset: Ice Shard + Surf & Skull Bash or Ice Beam
Formats: Great League, Ultra League, Premier Cup, Silph Arena

The second Water/Ice type in this article, this majestic Pokemon is a powerful contender in most formats where it's allowed thanks to its bulk and powerful moveset. Lapras is a top pick in the Ultra League Premier Cup in particular. You'll need the legacy move Ice Shard. After that, Surf is always one of its preferred Charged Moves, followed by Skull Bash in Great League and Premier Cup, which hits hard and raises Lapras's defenses even further. If you're playing in regular Ultra League, you may want to consider another Elite TM on Ice Beam for super effective hits against Giratina.

In the Premier Cup, Lapras is one of the bulkiest Pokemon and synergizes well with starters like Charizard and Venusaur. It's forgiving to use and can dish out damage even in its bad matchups. If you don't have an Ice Shard Lapras in your collection, it's one of the best Elite TM candidates to date.

Shadow Lapras has tradeoffs with regular Lapras, but offers a harder hitting variant. In Great League, Shadow Lapras's Surf attacks are strong enough to take on Galarian Stunfisk, which regular Lapras can struggle with. It's a steep cost for Ultra League and doesn't provide many advantages over regular Lapras, but if you have the resources, more power to you!

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, Great League Zapdos doesn't have access to Thunder Shock unless you use an Elite TM.

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 and Thunderbolt.

While it's strong and fast, Galarian Stunfisk poses a significant challenge to Zapdos's viability. If you can stomach that weakness or find a meta without Galarian Stunfisk, it has positive matchups against 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.

Charizard

Moveset: Wing Attack + Blast Burn & Dragon Claw, or
Dragon Breath + Blast Burn & Dragon Claw
Formats: Great League, Ultra League, Premier Cup, Silph Arena

Charizard has a slew of exclusive moves, including the October Community day move Dragon Breath. Blast Burn and Dragon Claw are almost always its preferred Charged Moves, but you might need an Elite TM to tie a bow on Charizard's moveset. Overheat is playable if you can't get Blast Burn but comes with a -2 Attack drop.

Before we get into specific movesets, let’s do a quick gut check on the numbers (including same-type attack bonus in damage):

Move

Turns

Damage Per Turn

Energy Per Turn

Dragon Breath

1

4

3

Wing Attack

2

3

3.5

Fire Spin

3

3.6

3.33

Air Slash

3

3.6

3

Wing Attack Charizard has been a highly coveted legacy Pokemon, especially in Silph Arena play. 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.

When to use Wing Attack or not 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 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 or other themed cups.

Dragon Breath Charizard has incredible play in Ultra League, including against other Charizard and Giratina itself. Charizard needs to be very high ranked IV's to make the most of it (low Attack IV, high HP & Defense IV), so save your Elite TM for an excellent candidate. Mega Charizard may also have play with Dragon Breath in Master League if Mega Evolutions are allowed in GO Battle League someday.

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. 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.

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 precious Elite TM? Head over to Training Battles and test it out against a bot opponent!

Mewtwo

Moveset: Psycho Cut + Psystrike & Focus Blast or 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. While Shadow Ball is better than Ice Beam or Flamethrower against meta titan Dialga, regular Mewtwo is generally preferred with Focus Blast for the OHKO potential.

If you want to go all in, Shadow Mewtwo with Psystrike/Shadow Ball becomes an incredible safe switch that will force shields against anything. Shadow Mewtwo needs shields to operate and may fall short of regular Mewtwo in reaching multiple Charged Moves, but its power needs to be respected and can easily put your opponent on the back foot.

Mew

Moveset: Shadow Claw + Wild Charge & Surf or Flame Charge
Formats: Great 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? Shadow Claw is typically Mew's best Fast Move, with great energy generation and solid neutral damage against most targets. Wild Charge can also be considered standard for Mew with its immense power targeting Azumarill and Skarmory. Surf is a typical second Charged Move to hit Galarian Stunfisk, but Flame Charge is another option with more technical play.

These are the standard "mewvsets" but the great thing about Mew is it can plug any hole in your team. There are a lot strong moves in its movepool, including Rock Slide, Ice Beam, and Grass Knot. If you want to go big with a move like Focus Blast, consider pairing it with a spammier move like Psyshock or Dragon Claw.

Mew makes a great safe switch where opponents are pressured to guess which moves you have and shield often. Azumarill is a great partner to cover it from Dark types like Umbreon. While this section covers Mew for Great League, if you've already powered yours up it could have Ultra League play as well. Look for moves like Ice Beam, Grass Knot, Flame Charge, or Dark Pulse to target key meta Pokemon like Giratina, Swampert, Melmetal, or Cresselia.

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
  • Blast Burn Charizard: Ultra, Silph Arena
  • Last Resort Umbreon: Great, 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 can't remove Frustration from Shadow Pokemon. 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:

  • 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 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 Shadow 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.
  • Synchronoise Shadow Gardevoir: One Shadow Pokemon that’s pretty much a universal upgrade. Synchronoise unlocks Shadow Gardevoir’s fastest available move which is valuable alongside Charm’s low energy gain.

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:

  • Earthquake Politoed: Honorary mudboi with a lot of potential, capable of challenging Azumarill and Galarian STunfisk. Pure Water type so it fully resists Water and Ice-type attacks and isn’t double weak to Grass. Also handles meta favorites like 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.
  • Poison Jab/Icy Wind/Drill Run Seaking: Former anti-meta unicorn is less worthy of an Elite TM these days with Galarian Stunfisk overtaking Registeel. May have themed cup potential down the road but don't invest until you're sure you want to use it.

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