The Evolution Cup is one of the interlude cups designed to spice up the Go Battle League in Pokémon Go. Like past interlude cups - such as the Weather Cup or Psychic Cup - the Evolution Cup has its own set of special rules you need to take into account when building your team.
Moody middle children rejoice, for this cup is held in your honour! Along with the rules of the Great League in Pokémon Go — bringing the most effective team possible at 1500 CP and under – the twist this time around is that only Pokémon that have evolved at least once and can evolve again will be eligible.
So, you can think of this as Malcom in the Middle evolution – Charmander and Charizard are flat out banned, but your PVP Charmeleon that you've been sitting on is good to go.
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Things to know about putting together a Evolution Cup team in Pokémon Go
The downside, of course, is that we’re picking from a relatively narrow pool of Pokémon, and, because you’ll want to pick Pokémon that specifically middle evolutions, the pool condenses further. Once you take a look at what shakes out as the strongest options here, a pretty obvious tier system starts to form.
Vigoroth is the runaway top choice for this meta, followed closely by Zweilous. Vigoroth is simply excellent in limited metas like this, and Zweilous is bouyed by the lack of viable fairy-types, letting it lay the smackdown with punchy dragon-type attacks that few Pokémon here naturally resist.
So, the obvious question becomes whether to run these two Pokémon, with a friend for added spice, or if you play the meta game and bring the Pokémon to counter these Pokémon. Amusingly, in both cases, they're weak to their own fast attacks, which means the mirror match will be pretty short indeed.
Given the evolution-based limitations, you don't need to worry about Legendaries and Mythicals in this cup. Just bring your favourite child along to the battle and see what happens — although it's fair to say that if you bring a few from our handy list below, you're going to have a much easier time of it.
And, if you don’t have our recommended Great League choices, chances are you can find them pretty easily in the wild. It also makes Community Day, which offers an easy source of strong Pokémon that fare well at lower CP levels, a more attractive proposition.
No matter which League you participate in, remember you are after Pokémon with a decent amount of bulk (the ability to survive charged moves – type weakness depending – so you can fire off a few of your own) and those that best counter or expose weaknesses in the current meta (which is a term for what the community is using at present).
Though there are specific Pokémon and types that dominate the meta, remember with the Go Battle League (and player versus player battles in general) you’ll be going in blind; so even if you cover yourself with a wide range of offence and defence options, no team is invincible.
Still – even with a few of the below Pokémon in your team, you should be able to fare better than if you just selected those as close to the 1500 CP cap as possible.
Currently available is the Astral Eclipse event, which brings the A Cosmic Companion special research quest of the Season of Light to a close. You can also finally evolve Cosmoem into Solgaleo or Lunala! Elsewhere, be sure to use Daily Adventure Incense for the chance of encountering Galarian Articuno, Galarian Zapdos and Galarian Moltres.
Our Pokémon Go Evolution Cup recommendations
There is no one ‘best’ team you can choose – since, as mentioned previously, you don’t know what you are up against – and not everyone has access to every type of Pokémon.
Instead, here is a general list of recommended Evolution Cup Pokémon to build a team from, with a wide range of sources that should suit all players, whether you’ve been collecting creatures since day one or just started playing.
Remember you are only allowed one of each in the Go Battle League, and ideally you’d want to build a team with different type strengths and defense. For example, if you build a team with Vigoroth, Zweilous an Galarian Linoone, you’ll be especially open to fighting-types, like Machoke.
It’s also worth noting that if you want to really compete, each of your Pokémon need two Charged moves. If you want to skimp on Stardust and only run the one move, do so at your own peril – you have been warned.
Our Pokémon Go Evolution Cup team recommendations in order of their appearance in the National Pokédex — while there is some overlap with the Great League guide, make sure you read the full entry we will be recommending some move changes:
Recommended moves: Poison Sting (Fast), Poison Fang (Charged), Thunderbolt (Charged)
Nidorina Weaknesses: Ground and Psychic
With Nidoqueen being a beater in Great League, it’s good to see Nidorina getting her chance in the spotlight. But not the Spotlight Hour spotlight, as Nidoran Female has just had that. We digress…
Both bulky and spammy, Nidorina has a couple of great things going – Poison Sting charges quickly, and Poison Fang debuffs the opponent’s defence. If you can get through, Thunderbolt makes short work of the flying-type Pokémon flitting about the meta, of which there is a fair few.
The downside is that Poison Sting doesn’t do a great deal of damage, so if it comes down to the wire, Nidorina may not help you win without getting off a Charged attack. Given that Nidoqueen is ideal in Great League, you want a maxed out perfect 15/15/15 in this cup, which is only 1480 CP. So, while it may be a great chance to run a Nidorina, it may not be the easiest option to build without a lot of Candy XL.
Type: Poison / Flying
Recommended moves: Wing Attack (Fast), Poison Fang (Charged), Shadow Ball (Charged)
Golbat Weaknesses: Electric, Ice, Psychic and Rock
There’s something scary about this giant bat that has endured for the past few decades. Perhaps it’s the trauma of every cave in the main series game without Repel; perhaps it’s just that Golbat can somehow take down Machoke, Vigoroth and Dragonair in this meta.
Either way, you must respect the Golbat.
The fast-charging Wing Attack will make short work of fighting-type Pokémon while helping you get to the debuffing attacks Poison Fang, and the nuke Shadow Ball that you’ll also see floating around on beaters like Mewtwo in Master League.
The downside is that while it is spammy and can apply a lot of shield pressure, it’s less bulky than some of the others on this list, so make sure you pair it with something that can take a few hits.
Recommended moves: Karate Chop (Fast), Cross Chop (Community Day Charged), Dynamic Punch (Charged)
Machoke Weaknesses: Fairy, Flying and Psychic
What has two thumbs and counters Vigoroth, Zweilous and Sealeo? Machamp’s little cousin, Machoke. It even has the upper hand on Dragonair, which is pure upside in this meta.
Between Karate Chop and Cross Chop, you have a spammy Pokémon that rips through shields like nobody’s business. If you don’t have the Community Day move though, Dynamic Punch is a higher energy option that hits pretty hard, too.
Given that Machoke is less bulky than the too-many-armed Machamp, make sure you switch out quickly when you come across Golbat, Dusclops or any psychic user.
Type: Ghost / Poison
Recommended moves: Shadow Claw (Fast), Ice Punch (Charged), Shadow Ball (Charged)
Haunter Weaknesses: Dark, Ghost, Ground and Psychic
It’s pretty strange that a ghost is considered glassy, but Pokémon is a strange game. Haunter has a pretty intense attack stat, but its defence stat sits at around half of this number, making it quite the interesting pick.
Haunter has the upper hand on Machoke and Sealeo thanks to its spammy suite of Shadow Claw and Shadow Ball. Ice Punch for Golbat and other flying-type is a nice touch, but be aware that Haunter’s low defence means that it can’t quite get those Ice Punches in quick enough to take down the dragons in this meta.
Still, if you want a closer that can push through those last few points of damage against the fighting types in this meta, Haunter is the way to go!
Recommended moves: Dragon Breath (Fast), Body Slam (Charged), Aqua Tail (Charged)
Dragonair Weaknesses: Dragon, Fairy and Ice
The fan-favourite, OG dragon Dragonair shines in this meta, taking down the likes of Haunter, Golbat, Dusclops and Vigoroth. It may not be the strongest dragon until it learns to fly, but it’s still a very respectable choice in this Cup thanks to its still high attack stat.
The spammy Dragon Breath is obviously upside too, and Body Slam’s recent addition to the move pool is very welcome. While you may be tempted to run the dragon-type Dragon Pulse, the ultra-fast Aqua Tail tends to be the better option. Pulse is too slow, and move you don’t get to use is a move you may as well not have!
If you plan to run Dragonair, make sure you know what to look out for – Machoke, Sealeo and the other dragons in this list will almost always come out on top.
Recommended moves: Counter (Fast), Body Slam (Charged), Bulldoze (Charged)
Vigoroth Weaknesses: Fighting
Vigoroth always shines in limited metas because it sits in that magical middle-ground between being super spammy and having all-round good stats. No matter where Vigoroth sits in your party, it’s going to help you win matches.
Specifically, it beats Zweilous, Chansey, Sealeo and anything else weak to fighting types, like Lairon and Metang. Unless your opponent is coming to the battle trying to take one down, you will do well with Vigoroth. Body Slam with STAB is going to hurt, and the slightly higher energy Bulldoze will help push the advantage when you come up against a poison-type Pokémon.
But, since everyone and their professor is going to be running one of these, there’s two things to consider: the mirror match and the non-mirror match. In the mirror, the one with the better stats will win, as they both slap each other in the face with Counter until one of them loses. A perfect Vigoroth here is a 1/15/15.
In the non-mirror, you should be afraid of Machoke and Hakamo-o, as fighting-types always have the upper hand against normal-types. Golbat and Dragonair will also have the advantage here.
Type: Ice / Water
Recommended moves: Powder Snow (Fast), Body Slam (Charged), Aurora Beam (Charged)
Sealeo Weaknesses: Electric, Fighting, Grass and Rock
Ok, so if you can’t beat dragons with fairies, what’s the next best thing? Pick Walrein’s younger cousin, Sealeo, with a spammy, fast charging ice attack followed by an Aurora Beam to shoot those dragons out of the sky.
Ice-types are going to be good in this Cup, given the advantage they have over other the rest of the meta. Notably, Sealeo pulls wins against Dragonair, Golbat, Zweilous and even the original tanksta, Chansey.
Unfortunately, ice crumbles to the same Pokémon you’ll see brought out to beat Vigoroth (which Sealeo also loses to). Beware Machoke, Haunter and Hakamo-o for that reason.
Type: Dark / Fighting
Recommended moves: Dragon Breath (Fast), Body Slam (Day Charged), Dark Pulse (Charged)
Zweilous Weaknesses: Fairy, Bug, Dragon, Fighting and Ice
This is one of the few times when Zweilous is going to be backbreaking, as there’s nothing here that really excels at fairy-type damage – there’s only one Charm user in the meta (Brionne), which is the single reason it makes this list!
Dragons, as a result are extremely strong here, but don’t get complacent as we expect fighting and ice to make a strong showing as a result. Know when to switch out and you should do well with Zweilous.
In particular, Zweilous is a good pick because it is both spammy and agile, offering a great deal of fast move pressure. The dark and dragon STAB offers great coverage against the other dragons and the ghost-types running around, too.
Recommended moves: Charm (Fast), Disarming Voice (Charged), Aqua Jet (Charged)
Brionne Weaknesses: Electric and Grass
Brionne sits in a weird spot in this meta. On paper, it’s ranked almost half-way down the league table, at 58/118, thanks to it being a fairly cumbersome with its fairy attacks. It takes a long time to charge up for a big attack, which means that it’s pretty poor at taking down shields.
However, it is the only Charm user in the meta, and we all know how good Charm is. It hits very hard at the best of times, and in a meta where there’s a bunch of dragons floating around, it can be something of a gamechanger.
Your best bet with Brionne really is to have it as a closer after using another Pokémon to strip away your opponent’s shields. An unopposed Charm / Disarming Voice will do a huge amount of damage to a dragon, even if Brionne doesn’t yet have the fairy-typing (and STAB) of its final evolution.
All in all, Brionne is an interesting choice. Stat-wise it’s not stand-out, but its unique attack suite makes it incredibly appealing, especially when you consider that it beats all three dragons in this list, along with Machoke. It does, however, lose to anything with a substantial health bar — Golbat, Vigoroth, Sealeo, Dusclops and Chansey.
Type: Dragon / Fighting
Recommended moves: Dragon Tail (Fast), Dragon Claw (Charged), Brick Break (Charged)
Hakamo-o Weaknesses: Fairy, Dragon, Flying, Ice and Psychic
Hakamo-o is an excellent pick for this meta because the top of it is weak to both dragon and fighting type attacks. Well, look what we have here…
This spammy attacker offers a great deal of fast move pressure with Dragon Tail, and will bait a lot of shields in the right matchups with the low-energy meta-relevant STABs, making it one of the top-three picks for the Evolution Cup.
The downside, because there’s always at least one, is that Jangmo-o is still fairly difficult to get hold of, so this won’t be an option for everyone.
Good luck in the Evolution Cup!