Ultra League Premier Classic is a new PVP format in Pokemon Go that loosely recreates the 2500CP metagame prior to the introduction of XL candy and level 50 Pokemon. As with all premier formats, legendary Pokemon are banned and not unlike Master League Classic, Pokemon are restricted to level 40 or below.
That said, many new Pokemon and moves have been introduced since the level 50 update, so the metagame has changed more than one might expect. Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best Pokemon in Ultra League Premier Classic!
Trevenant has shaken things up in pretty much all formats except Master League since its release with Go’s Halloween event. It doesn’t have an unbelievable amount of bulk or even especially ridiculous moves, but its ghost/grass typing, previously unreleased in Go, gives it resistance to some of the most powerful types in Ultra League, particularly water and fighting.
While it struggles a lot with Pokemon like Dragonite, Obstagoon, Alolan Muk and Snorlax, which resist one or both of its moves, Trevenant is one of the hardest counters in the format to extremely common Pokemon like Swampert and Escavalier and checks a lot of other things very cleanly as well. Cover its weaknesses and you’ve got a very versatile Pokemon at play!
This wouldn’t be much of a look at a UL metagame without mention of Swampert, which seems to climb to prevalence in just about any format in Go. It’s easy to see why it’s so effective with its blindingly fast Hydro Cannon and enormously powerful nuke in Earthquake.
Swampert is especially powerful after the buff to many poison type moves earlier this year. Nidoqueen and Alolan Muk really struggle to do much to it before being Hydro Cannoned into oblivion. Swampert isn’t without its checks, though. Dragonite and Gyarados are your classic counters with immunity to ground and a resistance to water.
Trevenant, this season’s newcomer, also gives it a lot of trouble and can take Swampert out even faster than its more established counters can with a super-effective Seed Bomb. All Pokemon have their counters, however, and Swampert is still a force to be reckoned with.
Nidoqueen has been a common sight in Go PVP for several months now, following the significant buff to Poison Jab and the addition of Poison Fang as a spammy debuffing move that still does pretty respectable damage.
Nidoqueen’s double resistance to poison makes it pretty effective against most other poison types and its resistances to fighting, rock and fairy make it a very effective Machamp counter and a terrific Pokemon against charm-users. It also sports a double resistance to electric, though electric types are not terribly common at the moment.
Nidoqueen really struggles against Swampert and Lapras due to its water weakness and does very poorly against Empoleon as well if it can’t sneak in an Earth Power after perhaps pooling energy against something else. Nonetheless, it’s still a top tier Pokemon in the UL Premier Classic metagame.
Escavalier has struggled more in UL after the addition of Talonflame, but UL Premier Classic doesn’t allow the fiery bird to reach high enough CP to really work in the format. It still has to watch out for Charizard and certain fire spice picks, but it does pretty well for itself in the new metagame.
A lot of its success can be explained by its phenomenal typing; steel and bug cover each other’s weaknesses phenomenally and result in Escavalier resisting a whopping nine types while only having a weakness to fire.
As a counter user, it does very well against Empoleon and Lapras, while resisting Venusaur so much that it counters it despite being resisted itself. This is offset by its ineffectuality against ghost types and less-than-stellar performance against flying types as well, on top of its obvious fire type counters. Even so, Escavalier is very powerful in this format.
Snorlax returns as one of the most effective safe swaps in just about any UL Premier metagame. Its sole weakness to fighting in addition to very respectable neutral coverage between Lick, Body Slam and Superpower make it at least fairly effective against most of the metagame.
It works much better as a shadow Pokemon, so try and get one from a Rocket grunt if you can.
As one would expect of a safe swap, Snorlax does pretty well for itself even when it loses. Shadow Machamp is probably its strongest counter, but even Machamp doesn’t particularly want to eat a STAB Body Slam. Obstagoon hits hard with Counter and resists Lick overwhelmingly, but a well-placed Superpower nearly KOs it in a single hit.
Sirfetch’d exceeds as a STAB Counter-user with an incredible mix of spammy, hard-hitting and diverse coverage moves.
Between Leaf Blade and Night Slash, Sirfetchd can unleash a crazy amount of charged moves for a Pokemon that does so much damage with its fast attack. Night Slash also effectively covers the ghosts that are otherwise often a problem for fighting types.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Close Combat and Brave Bird hit ridiculous hard at the cost of debuffing the defense of what’s already a fairly frail Pokemon. The unpredictability of which moves Sirfetch’d carries is one of its greatest strengths as just about everything takes enormous damage from something that it could be running.
That said, Counter-resistant Pokemon like Trevenant, Dragonite, Charizard and Venusaur can pose big problems for Sirfetch’d, but even so, good prediction and the right moves can potentially turn the tides of the battle.
Crobat doesn’t appear quite as effective in metagame simulations as many of these other Pokemon, but its efficacy against the practical metagame is tremendous. A double fighting resistance and mix of flying and poison moves gives it a huge edge against the likes of Machamp, Escavalier, Venusaur and just about any Charm-user.
Trevenant can beat Crobat if it lands a Shadow Ball, but it’s a dubious check in practice because Crobat can deal enormous damage with its own Shadow Ball or simply spam Poison Fang to increase its Air Slash damage for matchups where shields are in play.
That said, Crobat really doesn’t want to run into Lapras and it isn’t great against Empoleon or Alolan Muk either.
These Pokemon are also very effective, but in the interest of brevity, will not be discussed further in this article:
- Shadow Machamp
- (Alolan) Muk
The Ultra League Premier Classic metagame is actually extremely broad and can’t be completely encapsulated in a single article, especially as the metagame continues to evolve over time. You can find tremendous success without using a single one of these Pokemon, but they’re a good starting place and you should absolutely be prepared to deal with them when crafting your own team.